April 25, 2015

"I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor."

"As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems."

Said the Pope.

That was back in 2013. I'm noticing it today reading the Twitter feed #ResistCapitalism.

At the Tiny Greenhouse Café...


... start small.

"A powerful earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu, flattening sections of the city’s historic center..."

"... and trapping dozens of sightseers in a 200-foot watchtower that came crashing down into a pile of bricks."
Officials in Nepal put the preliminary death toll at 1053, nearly all of them in the valley around Katmandu... The quake set off avalanches around Mount Everest, where several hikers were reported to have died... [T]he most terrible damage on Saturday was to the oldest part of the city, which is studded with temples and palaces made of wood and unmortared brick.

For many, the most breathtaking loss was the nine-story Dharahara Tower, which was built in 1832 on the orders of the queen. The tower had recently reopened to the public, which could ascend a narrow spiral staircase to a viewing platform around 200 feet above the city.... The police on Saturday said they had pulled around 60 bodies from the rubble of the tower....

Artist whitewashes a crappy old motel, including the palm trees that surround it.

"As you walk the western edge of the trendy hamlet of Silver Lake on the city’s storied Sunset Boulevard...  you’ll see dozens of people standing precariously in the middle of four lanes of traffic to Instagram the piece, which is about as social-media ready as a public art piece could possibly be...."
Projection, as the work is named, could have been staged at any of the city’s derelict motels, really. But [Vincent] Lamouroux—who lived in the neighborhood years ago—had his eye on this one in particular. The Googie-style sign on top reads Sunset Pacific but everyone here calls it the Bates Motel, partly because it’s on the corner of Bates Street, but mostly because this moniker appropriately conveys its freaky Psycho vibes.

Vacant for over a decade, the motel’s ability to attract drug activity and gun violence has turned this stretch of Sunset into a kind of no-man’s land. During his days as a city councilman, LA’s mayor Eric Garcetti tried unsuccessfully to rehab it, sell it, then demolish it, calling it “one of the most troublesome properties in the city.”
No trees were hurt. They were sprayed with an impermanent "shading compound" that is intended to be used on trees. Not for art projects, but to protect them from heat and insects.

A very nice art work. I approve.

"The parents of a girl born with a large birthmark on her leg have got matching tattoos in a show of support for their 18-month old daughter."

"There's not many people with that birthmark, so to us it is really, really unique. We love it and we are going to teach her to love it. We'll treasure it for ever, so even if hers does go she knows what was once on her leg."

ADDED: I ran across that by chance as I was researching the subject of anti-tattoo discrimination. On that topic, see: 
"Should anti-tattoo discrimination be illegal?"

"Tattoos are sad and stupid – we should discriminate against people with them."

"Dear fellow tattooed people: Lighten up/Are you really surprised that some people don't like your ink?"

Texts received at 3 a.m. that you have to check again in the morning to make sure weren't part of your dream about rampaging clowns.

"WiscAlert-453 W. Gilman man wearing a multicolored jacket displayed silver handgun and left running towards University Avenue. Avoid area. Police investigating."

"WiscAlert-Suspect described as a male with orange curly hair wearing a reggae style multicolored shirt with white shirt underneath. Continue to avoid the area."

"What? You think because you sit up there in that little black robe hiding behind the ignorance of the masses like a little b*tch..."

"... that ANYBODY gives a d*amn about you or what you have to say? Well, just in case you haven’t noticed—I couldn’t give two f*cks about you or what you have to say. F*ck you, old man. You’re a joke. Your court’s a joke. You take it up the a*s; and you suck nuts. Lol."

From a motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, "Notice To F*ck This Court And Everything That It Stands For."

"Every weapons system, from the bow and arrow to the intercontinental ballistic missile, sometimes kills the wrong people."

"So why has the revelation that a U.S. drone strike accidentally killed two al-Qaeda hostages ­— a U.S. citizen and an Italian aid worker — created such a storm of drone 'rethinking'?" asks lawprof Noah Feldman.

I haven't read his answer yet, but mine is: People aren't good at thinking in the abstract. A problem seems different when you know the story of one individual. That's why Steven Spielberg had the little girl in the red coat, and why Joseph Stalin said: "When one person dies, it's a tragedy, but when a million people die, it's a statistic."

Now, I'm reading Feldman. He observes that there has been a "fantasy of precision has been at the heart of the political and tactical appeal for U.S. President Barack Obama." But:
The real military advantage of the armed-drone strike over a conventional airstrike... isn't the precision of the hit. It’s the fact that a pilot isn’t being put in jeopardy. Yet somehow the idea that drone strikes are more precisely targeted has lingered, giving the technique greater public appeal....

When it comes to drones, the fantasy of precision is just that, a fantasy. Killing innocent civilians, whether they’re Americans or Pakistanis or Yemenis, is an inevitable reality of war....
Feldman doesn't directly address why hearing about 2 specific innocent victims causes people to rethink anything. Is it too obvious?

Woman sues her ex-boyfriend for saying that she was not a prostitute.

An interesting man-bites-dog turnaround from the usual.

Think about when it harms a woman's reputation to say that she was not a prostitute.

"How does he whistle like this? I can't even whistle at all!"

John asks, linking to "The Jazz Whistler - Ron McCroby."

I clicked and played it out loud here at Meadhouse.

Me: "Listen to this. He's whistling."

Meade: "It's not that good. If that was a flute, I'd say, get a better flute."

ADDED: Jay Gilbert sends an important email:
I wish more attention would be given to Ron McCroby's other contribution to American culture: most of the TV ads for Kenner Toys from the 60s through the 80s.

I worked in music for advertising during the latter part of that era, and met Ron a few times. Kenner was based in Cincinnati then, as was its ad agency (Leonard Sive Advertising). Long before his notoriety in whistling, Ron was composing and producing music (and many of the voiceovers, serious $$$) for the latest spots featuring Play-Doh, Easy-Bake Ovens, Baby Alive, etc. He probably could have made a case for being the most consistently-heard talent on Saturday morning TV.

1. "Clinton: 'Deep-seated' beliefs block abortion access," 2. "Hillary On Abortion: 'Deep-Seated Cultural Codes, Religious Beliefs And Structural Biases Have To Be Changed.'"

2 headlines for the same news event in 2 different places. #1 is The Hill. #2 is The Daily Caller.

Here's the raw material. Judge for yourself:

Hillary did say "Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed. As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States."

Now, it does sound off to say "religious beliefs... have to be changed." You'd think the speech-writers would have tweaked that into something less easily extracted and denounced. And yet... perhaps it's a trap. Come on, you Hillary haters. Flay her for saying "religious beliefs... have to be changed." Commit. Then she can come back and destroy you. She can tell you about the war against Islamic extremists who have religious beliefs that have to be changed. They're cutting people's heads off for not converting. They are raping and enslaving women. They are throwing gay people off tall buildings. Gotcha!

Of course, there are religious beliefs that need to be changed! That's not even controversial. The question is how to change themwhen to use military force, when to use the force of legal sanctions, and when to use speech to persuade people to believe ideas because they are better.

The equality of women — feminism is the radical notion that women are people — is a strong, persuasive idea that is at odds with what many believe as a matter of religion. Hillary Clinton is on solid ground when she says religious beliefs have to be changed, and I assume she means that they can be changed through persuasive speech and appeals to reason and moral sensibility.

If you think she's vulnerable to attack, go ahead and attack. I'll spectate from this overlook.

"One of the joys of being working class is that you get to bypass that traumatic bottle/half-bottle/wine the next day dilemma."

"Box wine just keeps on giving. I imbibe my cardBordeaux while doing counted cross stitch. I figure as long as I can still count, I've not gone over-bordeaux."

Comment on a Wall Street Journal article titled "Drinking Alone: A Bad Idea or a Toast to Oneself? Is imbibing solo pathetic? Antisocial? A sign of ‘a problem’? Lettie Teague talks to some experts, tips her glass to all the wine drinkers who decline to drink alone and concludes: nope." That title fails to include Teague's main concern: A full bottle of wine is too much for one person to drink, and opened wine supposedly gets significantly worse by the next day.
One friend, a middle-aged single male, will open (almost) any wine in his cellar for friends but not a single bottle for just himself. An unshared bottle is a waste of money, he said, likening the act to buying “an entire ham” when he just wanted a sandwich....

As for the notion that an open bottle isn’t quite as good on day two or three, I’ve found this to be both true and false. Many wines will flatten, and the fruit may fade, after the bottle has been opened. But some wines—reds that are big and tannic and/or young—get softer and more accessible with a bit of time and air....
I always drink wine with dinner, even if I’m dining alone.... And I don’t necessarily drink something cheap just because I’m dining alone. I’ll open a good bottle as readily for myself as I would for anyone else. A good wine is likely to be better than a cheap wine on the second day anyway....
Teague considers the alternative of buying half bottles but never mentions box wine. "Cardbordeaux," by the way, is old slang. I'd never heard it before, but the Urban Dictionary definition goes back almost 10 years. It's replete with "Simpsons" jokes about a woman who drinks too much. A working-class woman. And that's a hint of how the culture has prevented the better technology from reaching higher-class women like Lettie Teague, women who will spend a lot of money on wine but only want one glass a day. The method of effectively delivering less got associated with drinking more, with lame jokes like Ralph Wiggum saying "You look like my Mommy after her box of wine." That's like something dispensed from a box labeled "Jokes."

April 24, 2015

Scorched earth.


In Governor Nelson State Park today.


ADDED: Some commenters were puzzled by the scorching, but it's routine and unpuzzling to us. Here's an old post from 2009 — "Smoldering landscape. 'Looks like the day after a battle.' 'Did we just stumble into a forest fire?'":
[W]e ran into the forestry worker who was managing the burning — "prescribed fire" — there in Cherokee Marsh, and he explained how he did it and why. Black cherry trees are always threatening to clutter up the space under the big oaks, and red osier dogwood, if left to their own devices, would turn the marsh into a place where the cranes can't walk.
What I wanted people to notice were those humps distributed through the charred field! Those are huge ant hills, and I can verify that the ants did not perish in the fire. They were alive and kicking.

"I am not a traveler. I hate it.... Also I cannot go on airlines because people stare at me, you have to be touched by people. I hate that...I hate bespoke because I hate to be touched by strangers."

From "A Comprehensive List Of Everything Karl Lagerfeld Hates."

"I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion, but I like to read very abstract constructions of the mind.... I hate rich people when they try to be communists or socialists. I think it’s obscene.... I hate sloppy footwear. What I hate most is flip-flops. I am physically allergic to flip-flops.... And I hate to wear suspenders. I have the feeling I'm wearing a bra...."

To me, the list makes the argument for allowing yourself to use that terrible word "hate." Did your mom teach you not to say "hate"? Do you have friends/relatives in your life who stand ready to meet your deployment of the word with some fussy chiding like "Oh, 'hate' is a very strong word" or "Hate?! Do you really mean hate?"? I hate that.

"Jenner’s interview will be so widely watched it could prove a tipping point, further normalizing Americans' perceptions of the nation's transgender population."

"But there are risks for the community in so much attention going to a celebrity whose early 21st century notoriety came with his comical role as the befuddled husband on 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians.' Many worry that perceptions will be dragged back into the sensational. As history suggests, it’s a slippery slope."

"To single out the Clintons for having wealthy friends who might want favors later, especially in the political context brought to us by the destruction of campaign finance regulations..."

"... is a particularly laughable application of the Clinton Rules which, like the Voting Rights Act and McCain-Feingold, have been rendered irrelevant by Citizens United and its unholy progeny."

Writes Charles Pierce at Esquire in a piece titled "The Return To Mena Airport: It Begins Again/In which we learn that rich people like the Clintons have lots of money."

I copied that sentence because it's such a mess of a sentence, almost as much of a jumble as that title. (Do you remember Mena Airport? Mena-ither.) I don't know how disordered the mind of Charles Pierce really is. I'm sure his style amuses the people it amuses, and I assume those people are people who respond to Citizens United!!!!

But Pierce's invocation of the much-invoked case name comes in a context of very specific misrepresentation of the meaning of that case. Citizens United and its "unholy progeny" involve judges doing judicial work — saying what rights are and putting constitutional law in its proper place in the hierarchy of law, above statutes.

We could talk about whether we agree with the interpretation of the First Amendment in those cases, in which the Supreme Court has invalidated some statutory restrictions on spending money to propagate political speech, but that's not what Pierce is talking about. He's not talking about how statutes and constitutional law are sorted out by judges in court cases. He's talking about the political debate among us, The People. A candidate's wealth and how it was acquired and whether he might be beholden to some interests or even corrupt are going to be issues as we decide whether we want to vote for that candidate. Citizens United and its "unholy progeny" don't say we voters shouldn't concern ourselves with such things. In fact, Citizens United makes a point of upholding disclosure requirements, so that voters get more information about where money is coming from:

"What happens in Las Vegas typically doesn’t last for very long, but Mrs. Willis’s fluorescent sign proclaiming 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada' ..."

"... designed by her and installed by Clark County, Nev., in 1959 in a $4,000 splurge of civic boosterism, became a beloved and surprisingly enduring symbol of the casino capital’s extravagance."

From the obituary of Betty Willis, who died Sunday at the age of 91.
“We thought the town was fabulous, so we added the word,” Mrs. Willis said in a 2005 interview with The New York Times. “There was no other word to use.”

She never copyrighted the logo or profited from the sign directly. “It’s my gift to the city,” she said, although she later acknowledged: “I should make a buck out of it. Everybody else is.”

The image was freely reproduced on souvenir tchotchkes ranging from snow globes to Las Vegas centennial license plates.
If the image hadn't been freely reproduced, would it have lasted all these years and would we be reading her obituary today?

Have you heard about "full service" schools?

"A $300,000 grant paid over the next three years from the Madison Community Foundation will begin the process of developing 'full-service' community schools in the Madison School District."

"New computer-driven research suggests that Supreme Court justices are getting grumpier, according to a new study by scholars at Dartmouth and the University of Virginia."

"This analysis was based on the percentage of positive words versus negative words. In addition, modern justices tend to produce more words and have a lower grade level than their predecessors."

Oh, jeez. Here we go again: If you use more periods and fewer semicolons, the computer will conclude that you are writing at a lower grade level. That's garbage. See how I just wrote a sentence on a dramatically lower grade level than the previous sentence? "Computer-driven" doesn't mean sophisticated. It just means that lots of data was crunched. Things that could be counted and that the researchers wanted to count were counted on a grand scale.
The authors included 107 justices through 2008 and ranked them based on negative words (“two-faced,” “problematic”) and positive words (“adventurous,” “pre-eminent”). The high court’s first chief justice, John Jay, ranked number one with a score of 1.55 percent friendliness rating. Numbers 103 through 106 are current members of the court, including Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito. Antonin Scalia earned the number 98 spot with a score of -0.69 percent friendliness.
Quite aside from whether we should assess a judge's friendliness/grumpiness based on which words he puts in the formal justification of his legal decision that we call an opinion, who determined which words should count as positive and which as negative? Why is "adventurous" considered positive — especially as you look at material that was written over a period of 200+ years? Some of the older meanings of the word are negative: "Full of risk or peril; hazardous, perilous, dangerous... Prone to incur risk; excessively venturesome; rashly daring" (OED). If a justice in 1800 called an argument "adventurous," was he saying something nice?

I suspect that negative words proliferate when justices indulge in writing long dissenting opinions. That doesn't necessarily mean they are grumpy or unfriendly. It might have more to do with feeling free to express oneself in somewhat emotive language, and that may have become more the style as the years wore on. If we feel free to express emotion, we give the language analysts more emotive words to count, and then they can calculate a ratio of positive to negative. But how can we compare that to what was written long ago, when judges may have favored concealed or processed emotion? There will not only be less to count but also a kind of caginess and subtle sarcasm and irony that the computer can't recognize. To take an example from a famous old case, what would a computer do with "the judges of the State courts are, and always will be, of as much learning, integrity, and wisdom as those of the courts of the United States (which we very cheerfully admit)"?  "Cheerfully" is such a positive word, but, in context, it's no, and there's certainly no reason to think that the Justice who wrote it was exuding any sort of friendliness.

But this is the kind of study that gets reported, the kind of is-Scalia-mean stuff the public loves.

"Former 'Everybody Loves Raymond' child actor Sawyer Sweeten died Thursday at the age of 19..."

"At this sensitive time, our family requests privacy and we beg of you to reach out to the ones you love."/"At this time I would like to encourage everyone to reach out to the ones you love. Let them have no doubt of what they mean to you."

A mother who opts her kid out of standardized testing is condemning him to a life of dismal underachievement.

I'm "reading" the photograph that accompanies a NYT article, "Only Alternative for Some Students Sitting Out Standardized Tests: Do Nothing." The article is ostensibly about the "sit and stare" policy at some schools, which makes kids who opt out sit at their desks with nothing at all to do. You can see the point of the policy: to create pressure not to opt out. That policy seems to be failing because the opters-out were able to make an issue out of the "sit and stare" policy. The idea was to undercut them, not empower them. Unintended consequences. Time for a new policy. The new policy is: Let the kids who don't take the tests leave the classroom and go to the library to do other things.
“They’re being snarky,” Mr. Burns said of some students who refused the test. Saying, ‘Ha-ha, I don’t have to take the test!’ as they’re leaving the room. Or ‘Good luck on the test!’ in that derogatory tone.
Oh, no! The new policy also creates opportunities for those whose power was supposed to be undercut. How can we get the non-test-takers to leave the room without expressing any indication that they're pleased to get out? You can't, of course. How dare they manifest snark? Mr. Burns is, presumably, hoping to iron out any flashes of emotion in the rebel kids. The kids who stay in the room and take the tests must not see that the alternative is desirable.

Anyway, I'm fascinated by the picture they chose to put at the top of the article. It has the caption: "Angie Carnright made shirts for her son Blake, a fifth grader in upstate New York, to wear on test days. They say: 'I refuse NYS Tests. Score Me 999,' the code indicating a student opted out." I'm sure there were many alternative photographs in which the boy showed off the T-shirt, but in this one, he's sitting on the porch step, leaned over, arms crossed, hiding the words on the shirt. I thought that was odd, and it drew me into all the details in the photograph and how it was framed. The mother is sitting next to him, with a complacently smug look on her face. I'll refrain from commenting on her clothes, her hair, and her lack of makeup. The picture seems deliberately framed to draw our eyes to the dilapidated wood of the porch and the mishmash of junk — a trash can, a snow shovel, a pair of boots (not upright or aligned), and...

... what is that? Poop on a scoop?! That's right at the edge of the photograph, and as a framer and cropper of photographs myself, I am virtually certain that edge was chosen. As a reader of journalism, including journalistic photographs, I'm going to opine that the picture expresses an editorial opinion: A mother who opts her kid out of standardized testing is condemning him to a life of dismal underachievement.

IN THE COMMENTS: sydney said:
My favorite New York Times photo editorializing. The photos completely undercut the premise of the whole article which was from the point of view of the rich woman who was buying the baby, er, renting the womb.
Amazing. Porches loom large there too.

April 23, 2015

"Commissioner Rob Manfred says Pete Rose will be allowed to participate in activities surrounding this summer's All-Star Game in his hometown of Cincinnati."

"Rose, baseball's career hits leader and a former Reds star player and manager, agreed to a lifetime ban from the sport in 1989 after a Major League Baseball investigation concluded he bet on his team to win while he was managing the club."

pollcode.com free polls

"The 23-year-old Australian bullshitted the entire world about having terminal brain cancer..."

"... and profited from her completely fictional story via her 'natural wellness' app, The Whole Pantry."
On her blog, she claims she cured her terminal brain cancer by avoiding gluten and sugar. Shocking, I know, but: this is not how cancer works. You know what stopped the progression of my cancer? Chemo (derived from exotic plants and fungi, for real!), surgery, drugs, and a shitload of all-natural radiation, delivered via a linear particle accelerator that is even more powerful than my beloved kale juicer....

"Mary Doyle Keefe, who modeled for Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter painting and became a true figure of 20th century Americana in the process..."

"... died on Tuesday in Simsbury, Connecticut. She was 92 years old and succumbed to a brief illness, the Associated Press reported."

Goodbye to an icon.

"You seem okay, it's just getting a little Diane Sawyer."

Robert Downey Jr., promoting his new super-hero type film, puts up with questions from Channel 4 Newsman Krishnan Guru-Murthy, up to a point. I love this clip, because Downey is so calm and pretty thoughtful, but when the questions get to his dark past, he shifts to a different, steelier version of calm, and there's just a wonderful subtle anger in his face as he uses his eyes to try to unnerve Guru-Murthy and get him to stop. But Guru-Murthy forces himself to babble into one more question about Downey's dissolute past, and Downey gets up and walks away, with that parting shot — politely and calmly delivered — that I've put in the post title.

At the Close-Up Café...


... take a closer look at whatever you like.

"How do I wear bright shorts and maintain a masculine look so the guys I hang out with won’t make fun or me if I wear them to a baseball game, for example."

A question asked of the Wall Street Journal fashion adviser, who tells him stuff like: "Start by pairing your orange shorts with a button-down, short-sleeve shirt in madras plaid and a woven leather belt." That's wackily specific. I'd just tell him it's not masculine to worry in advance about how his guy friends might mock him about what he's wearing. Seems to me, if he fusses with that woven leather belt and button-down madras shirt, they'll make fun of him for that. The best way to come across as masculine is to laugh along with the mockery and make fun of what they're wearing.

Or... do I have to say it? Don't wear shorts!

"The only witness was an 86-year-old roommate, Polly Schoneman, who was on the other side of the curtain..."

"... and who agitatedly told nursing home staff members that she had heard noises that made her uncomfortable. Ms. Schoneman testified that she was not certain the noises had been sexual."
Mr. Rayhons testified that he recalled brief instructions to limit “sexual activity” with his wife made during a conference at the nursing home on May 15. At the trial, Mr. Rayhons testified that he considered “sexual activity” to be intercourse.
Henry Rayhons is the 78-year-old man who was acquitted of sexually assaulting his wife — who had Alzheimer's disease but was always happy to see him and would initiate sexual play — "She would reach in my pants and fondle me sometimes.”
He told the prosecutor, “I always assumed that if somebody asks for something, they have the capacity” to consent.
The link goes to the NYT. One of the comments:
People should choose very carefully who they want as their health proxies or legal guardians. It seems that the husband in this case had very little control regarding his wife's care. It's disturbing to read that even the nursing home had more control and could mandate where the husband could take his wife outside of the nursing home.
The woman had chosen one of her daughters as her health proxy.

"As president and as Commander-in-Chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni."

Said President Obama this morning.
Al Qaeda leader Ahmed Farouq, who was an American citizen, was also killed in the operation that killed the two innocent hostages....

American officials at the time had "no reason to believe either hostage was present" when the operation was launched on a compound in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. U.S. officials also did not know that Farouq or Gadahn were present at the targeted sites and "neither was specifically targeted," Earnest said.

Kurt Cobain, who said "I like the Beatles, but I hate Paul McCartney"...

... sang "And I Love Her" his way, in a newly revealed recording, you can listen to here. Compare Kurt's darkness to the the Beatles original which you can listen to here.

"A Bay Ridge couple is having the loudest sex in the city..."

"... and the carnal cacophony is driving their neighbors bonkers, records show."
“I’m not a prude but there are kids in the building, and it was just a ridiculously loud amount of noise being made that the first time another woman yelled out her window, ‘Shut your f--ing windows you whore!’” the complainant added.

Bus ads in NYC: "'Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.' That’s His Jihad. What’s yours?"

"On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Koeltl ruled that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) cannot stop the controversial ad from running on scores of subway cars and buses."
The MTA has argued that the ad could incite violence against Jews, but Koeltl rejected that idea.

MTA officials “underestimate the tolerant quality of New Yorkers and overestimate the potential impact of these fleeting advertisements,” he ruled. “Moreover, there is no evidence that seeing one of these advertisements on the back of a bus would be sufficient to trigger a violent reaction. Therefore, these ads — offensive as they may be — are still entitled to First Amendment protection.”
The MTA's argument was premised on the idea that people would misunderstand the ad, which is intended to be pro-Israel. The ad comes from Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative.
“What matters is not AFDI’s intent, but how the ad would be interpreted,” [said MTA Security Director Raymond Diaz]. The line “What is yours?” could be considered a “call to violence,” particularly because the CAIR posters it was mocking never appeared in New York....

The Wall Street Journal urges the U.S. Supreme Court to take the free-speech case arising out of Wisconsin's John Doe investigation.

You can get to the editorial here:
On Friday the Justices will consider whether to hear O’Keefe v. Chisholm, a Section 1983 civil-rights lawsuit brought by Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O’Keefe against Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm and other prosecutors. The suit charges the prosecutors with a multi-year campaign to silence and intimidate conservative groups whose political speech they don’t like....
The 7th Circuit's decision was based not on the merits but on deference to the ongoing proceedings in state court, which theoretically could have responded to the federal constitutional questions. That is: the Younger abstention doctrine. I discussed the 7th Circuit opinion when it came out last September, saying:
There is an exception to the Younger doctrine, which the plaintiffs tried to use here, that applies when the federal rights claimants show that the prosecutors in state court are proceeding in "bad faith." The question is whether the prosecutors are really attempting to secure a valid conviction or whether they are simply using the legal process to harass the federal court plaintiffs. The 7th Circuit panel found some perplexity in the free speech issues about campaign coordination:
The Supreme Court has yet to determine what “coordination” means. Is the scope of permissible regulation limited to groups that advocate the election of particular candidates, or can government also regulate coordination of contributions and speech about political issues, when the speakers do not expressly advocate any person’s election? What if the speech implies, rather than expresses, a preference for a particular candidate’s election? If regulation of coordination about pure issue advocacy is permissible, how tight must the link be between the politician’s committee and the advocacy group? Uncertainty is a powerful reason to leave this litigation in state court, where it may meet its end as a matter of state law without any need to resolve these constitutional questions.
This is a nudge to the state judge to shut down the investigation, and yet there is something very disturbing about this ambiguity in free speech law and the leeway it gives prosecutors to stall a political group throughout a campaign season. I'd like to see the Supreme Court make this clear....
Back to the WSJ editorial:
Specific injustices aside, the U.S. Justices should also hear the case because it is part of a larger legal effort to subvert their 2010 Citizens United ruling. The game is to use the theory of “coordination,” which allows vast investigations to be instigated on the thinnest evidence, to sweep issue speech back into the regulatory umbrella of campaign-finance law.

The liberal Brennan Center for Justice is pushing regulations coast to coast that would reduce protections for issue speakers and encourage “coordination” probes. The Wisconsin case is an opening for the Court to tell prosecutors and regulators they must tread carefully when rights of free association are involved.

Wisconsin’s prosecutorial machinery has abused the law to silence disfavored political speech. This one is made to order for Supreme Court review.
I agree. The Court needs to take this case. Quite aside from all the substantive problems, the idea of deferring to the state courts is supposed to be based on the ability of the state courts to step up and deal with the substantive problems themselves. The 7th Circuit decision came out 7 months ago. Where's the action from the state courts? If there are indeed free-speech violations, they've been going on for 3 years. It's one thing for federal courts to refrain from jumping into state court proceedings that might do a decent-enough job of enforcing federal rights. But here, these proceedings have worked to suppress political speech for 2 election cycles and beyond. It's quite shocking.

"Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company."

A NYT article.
... [T]he sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.....
ADDED: The Washington Post also has a new "Clinton Cash" article: "For Clintons, speech income shows how their wealth is intertwined with charity."

Both the Times and the WaPo article are based on Peter Schweitzer's upcoming book "Clinton Cash" as a source (along with independent reporting). I haven't scoured through all the material I've linked here, but my initial reaction is that at the very least Hillary Clinton seems to have had terrible judgment. Even if there are technical, legal explanations for every single thing, there's shocking inattention to the appearance of greed and corruption.

April 22, 2015

At the Homegrown Café...


... it's freezing cold this morning. Snow, even. But Meade harvested some radishes, cleaned them up, and declared them a "photo op."

"A baseball team composed mostly of child laborers from an Indiana glassmaking factory..."

"... as photographed by Lewis Hine in August 1908," is "Today's featured picture" at Wikipedia:

"Hine (1874–1940) was an American sociologist who promoted the use of photography as an educational medium and means for social change. Beginning in 1908, he spent ten years photographing child labor for the National Child Labor Committee. The project was a dangerous one, and Hine had to disguise himself – at times as a fire inspector, postcard vendor, Bible salesman, or industrial photographer – to avoid the factory police and foremen."

"Ben Affleck has admitted he was 'embarrassed' about a slave-owning ancestor..."

"... and said that’s why he lobbied television chiefs to hide his story in a documentary about his heritage."
The Hollywood star said he regretted trying to influence what went into the programme and was now glad that his family history would be part of the discussion about the impact of slavery in America....

Affleck spoke out after hacked emails from film studio Sony Pictures Entertainment, leaked online, revealed that he had asked producers of the television programme Finding Your Roots to suppress details of the ancestor. The revelations have provoked a censorship scandal in the US: the programme’s producer, Henry Louis Gates, a history professor at Harvard, had to issue a statement insisting he retained “editorial control.”
Affleck's efforts to control PR are what you'd expect from an actor. The focus should be on Gates. He's the one with the serious obligations here.

"They had time to feel pain, they had time to feel scared — but they had no time to say goodbye. And that is the very essence of terror."

Said U.S. Attorney Nadine Pellegrini, arguing that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev deserves the death penalty.

ADDED: Here's the federal statute enumerating the factors to be considered. I think this was the factor Pellegrini was getting at:
(6) Heinous, cruel, or depraved manner of committing offense.— The defendant committed the offense in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.

One detail from "Wisconsin's Shame": that tipped-off reporter.

David French's National Review article — "Wisconsin’s Shame: 'I Thought It Was a Home Invasion'" — has attracted a lot of attention, but M.D. Kittle of Wisconsin Watchdog focuses on one detail. Cindy Archer "looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off." Kittle writes:
But Archer’s suspicion that a reporter was present was apparently right – and indicates that secrecy is a tactic rather than a principle: a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article published on the day of the raid, Sept. 14, 2011, indicates that a Journal Sentinel reporter arrived in time to see “about a dozen law enforcement officers, including FBI agents” raid Archer’s home....

“Around 9 a.m., a reporter saw four FBI agents – two of them wearing latex gloves – talking in Archer’s backyard before going into her house. Later, one removed a large box and put it in the trunk of an FBI car. They left about 10 a.m,” the Journal Sentinel story reported....
The secrecy of the John Doe investigation is supposed to protect those who may have done nothing illegal, and Archer has never been charged, yet her name was in the newspaper the day of the raid and she was forbidden to talk about it.  As French put it in his article:
As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.

The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends.

"It was premeditated, oh, definitely."

"It was glorious. Angels sung on high.... I reached critical mass."

The cast of "Hamilton" pays tribute to the original cast of "A Chorus Line" on the 40th anniversary of the opening of "A Chorus Line"...

... last week in New York City:

April 21, 2015

At the Garden Walk Café...


... you can go down any path that suits your whim.

"A New York judge has ordered state lawyers to justify why two chimpanzees living at a public university on Long Island shouldn’t be granted the same rights that protect humans from illegal imprisonment."

"Responding to a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of two young adult male chimpanzees, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe late Monday issued a brief order demanding the State University of New York at Stony Brook to explain why the animals shouldn’t be moved to a Florida sanctuary."
The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a petition last month on behalf the chimpanzees, named Hercules and Leo, arguing that they are “autonomous and self-determining beings” who should be “protected by the common law of habeas corpus,” a right granted only to “legal persons.” The chimpanzees are being used for locomotion research, according to the group.
 (Note: In New York, a "Supreme Court Justice" is a trial level judge.)

Working in a trench box.

It looks dangerous, but I presume they know what they are doing. Meade took that video of the workers who are redoing the streets in our neighborhood. (You may notice that there is a shushing of the dog at 0:18.)

"Supreme Court respects Fourth Amendment, protecting meth heads."

The headline at Kos.
Yes, this one breaks down mostly as you'd expect, if you follow the Court on these matters.  Justice Ginsburg wrote the opinion of the Court, including the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.  Yes, they acknowledge, officers can do additional tasks which are required for their safety, or which don't prolong the stop, but that's where the line is drawn:
Traffic stops are “especially fraught with danger to police officers,” so an officer may need to take certain negligibly burdensome precautions in order to complete his mission safely. On-scene investigation into other crimes, however, detours from that mission. So too do safety precautions taken in order to facilitate such detours. Thus, even assuming that the imposition here was no more intrusive than the exit order in Mimms, the dog sniff could not be justified on the same basis. Highway and officer safety are interests different in kind from the Government’s endeavor to detect crime in general or drug trafficking in particular.
But what if they do that search really really quickly, asks Eric Holder? No!, responds the Court....
There are 3 dissenters: Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito.

"The one great beauty of comics, among the many others, is that you don’t have to worry about anybody funding it."

"In the worst-case scenario, you can just publish it yourself. You can Xerox it and hand it out to your friends. It will still get published if you want it to. In the past four or five years, I’ve just really embraced coming back to comics. It’s been the most fun it’s ever been."

Says Dan Clowes, who's had the experience of having his comics "Ghost World" and "Art School Confidential."
When you’re working on films, your work’s contingent on all these other factors that are beyond your control. For me, it was a good thing to do for a third or half of my time for seven or eight years, but at a certain point I got really tired of the arbitrary things that happen. You have projects all set up and then something loses its tax deferment or something like that—it’s so frustrating! 
I really identify with that because: 1. I used to maintain a daily sketchbook habit (mostly things in the manner of "Get Me a Table Without Flies, Harry," but I was a follower of many comics artists, including Clowes), and 2. It's the ethic of independent blogging, my daily habit of the last 11 years. Or wait... In the worst-case scenario, you can just publish it yourself.... That's not the worst case! That's the best case. No delay. No editors. No naysayers. No obstructionists. Freedom.

Oliver Sacks writes about Spalding Gray's brain injury and suicide.

Gray was in a car accident, in 2001, that drove bone fragments into his right frontal lobe and, it seems, changed him profoundly:
It was while he was in the hospital in Ireland following his hip surgery, he told me, that he finalized a deal to sell the old house. He later came to feel that he was “not himself” at the time, that “witches, ghosts, and voodoo” had “commanded” him to do it....
Three years later, he was still obsessing about selling the house. Asked if he had other recurrent thoughts:
He said yes: he often thought about his mother and the first twenty-six years of his life. It was when he was twenty-six that his mother, who had been intermittently psychotic since he was ten, fell into a self-torturing, remorseful state, focussed on the selling of her family house. Unable to endure her torment, she had committed suicide....

"In my junior year, I attended a class in which the professor made a compelling argument for conducting animal research related to punishment."

"He promoted it as having the noble goal of finding ways to minimize the use of punishment in humans while maximizing its effect. When he announced he was looking for a student to work in his lab for class credit, I took the job. First, I had to learn how to shock a pigeon.... As I look back on this nearly 50 years later, I am astonished that the daily grind of depriving, shocking and killing these animals did not move me to leave my job...."

From a NYT op-ed by Paul Gazda — "a visual artist and an advocate for animal rights and pesticide-free environment."

Here's the top-rated comment:
As a neuroscientist with over 25 years experience designing and conducting animal experiments to develop medications for psychiatric and neurological disorders, I have seen these sorts of comments my entire career. They describe all experiments as torture and either say or imply that there is never useful data generated. But they rarely discuss alternatives to animal experimentation. Before you condemn us, please consider these points.

Animal research is very expensive. If a company can use an alternative method, first it is required by regulation. Second, companies do not spend money needlessly. If you don't trust us not to inflict needless pain on animals, at least trust us to be greedy. Also, animals that are stressed or in pain yield worthless results.

Ask yourself, what are the alternatives? A cell culture or computer simulation is not even a simple organism, let alone a mammal. Would you volunteer yourself or a loved one to be the first human to receive a drug or surgical procedure never tested on an animal? When your parent, child, spouse or you are diagnosed with a debilitating and possibly deadly disease, would you prefer that your doctor shrug and say, "we have no treatment for that except these untested drugs" because nearly all modern drugs and procedures have been developed using animal experimentation?

Please beware simplistic, binary arguments for or against animal research. They are difficult choices that we make. One day, we will all need to make them.

"The [Justice Department] review found that F.B.I. testimony was fundamentally flawed in 257 of those cases — a stunning 96 percent of the total."

"Of those defendants, 33 received the death penalty and nine have been executed so far. Although the errors don’t necessarily mean the defendants are innocent — other evidence might have supported conviction — the F.B.I. plans to notify prosecutors and prisoners of the findings. The problem is not limited to hair analysis...."

From an op-ed in the NYT by Eric S. Lander, director of the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard and co-chairman of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
It is now abundantly clear that an expert’s opinion is not a reliable basis for drawing connections between evidence samples and a particular person. No expert should be permitted to testify without showing three things: a public database of patterns from many representative samples; precise and objective criteria for declaring matches; and peer-reviewed published studies that validate the methods.
Obviously, this is also an argument against the death penalty. Once a person has been put to death, it is impossible to bring him back, no matter how clear once-imperceptible errors have become. Years spent in prison are also irretrievable, but as long as the convict is alive, we can take action at the point when we are able to see that action is morally required.

Related: Here's an excellent New Yorker article, "The Price of a Life/What’s the right way to compensate someone for decades of lost freedom?"
The prosecution’s case rested heavily on Volpe’s report to the district attorney, which noted a significant piece of evidence recovered from Restivo’s van: two strands of hair found on the floor which appeared to have come from Fusco’s head....

"Indeed, we at FiveThirtyEight are mildly bearish on Bush relative to the consensus."

"If he’s not able to make a good electability case — and his favorability ratings don’t help — Republicans have little reason to pick him ahead of alternatives who are closer to the base ideologically."
But it’s Bush’s nomination chances we’re bearish about — in many ways, the nomination is the tougher hurdle since it’s a multi-candidate race. In analyzing the general election race, it’s only the conditional probabilities that matter. If Bush is good enough to win the primary, he’s probably good enough to give Republicans about a 50-50 shot of winning next November.
 That's from 4 days ago. So's this: Jeb eats pie.

"I think she’s a Democrat just like they all are. She seems like every other Democrat."

"I would not like to see her win. She’s the same old shit. I’d like to see me win," said Roseanne Barr, who ran for the Green Party presidential nomination in 2012. Roseanne isn't impressed with the idea of Hillary Clinton as a woman President:
"No, not at all. I think that a party that was woman-friendly would be revolutionary, and that party could be headed by a male or female. It’s what the party itself stands for that matters. She is standing as a Democrat so she’s a Democrat, and I don’t see much difference between them and the Republicans. They both get paid by the same guys. They do the same thing, they want the same stuff, more business.... I would rather see the first intelligent, honest American president. I don’t care what’s in their shorts. I don’t care what it looks like down there at all."
I'm blogging this because Roseanne is saying something that isn't heard too much anymore: Democrats and Republicans aren't different enough to get excited about. I remember back in 2000, when Ralph Nader was a strong third-party candidate and lefties scoffed at the option of voting for the Democrat, as if Al Gore were significantly different from George W. Bush. It was a popular joke to say "Gush and Bore."

Something changed in our political culture. Those who, in the past, would have been straightforward lefties with an aversion to mainstream Democrats have bonded with Democrats and get passionate in support of them, as if the difference between Democrats and Republicans is profoundly important. To me, it's quite weird. I mean, I don't look to Roseanne Barr for lucid analysis, but her serio-comic riff reminded me of how much the Democratic Party jams the left-wing brain waves of America.

Teachers' Unions find an issue that can appeal to those who are not big fans of public employee unions.

"Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor and possible presidential candidate, stoked national attention when he stripped collective-bargaining rights from most public-sector unions, including teachers. But testing, [said Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara], offers unions a way to join forces both with parents who object to testing and with Republicans who oppose the Common Core standards as a federalization of education. 'It is a powerful issue, by virtue of the fact that the right is also against it,' he said."

From a NYT article titled "Teachers’ Unions Fight Standardized Testing, and Find Diverse Allies."
The teachers’ push on testing comes as Congress is debating how to revise the 2001 No Child Left Behind law...

Critics of the campaigns against testing, including many state and local education officials, say the unions are not acting out of concern for children but are trying to undercut efforts to institute tougher evaluations. They argue that annual testing is critical for tracking how effectively schools are educating poor and minority students and that evaluations based only on subjective criteria like observations typically fail to identify weak teachers....

Secky Fascione, director of organizing for the National Education Association, the largest nationwide teachers’ union, said reining in testing was the union’s top organizing priority. In the past month, Ms. Fascione said, chapters in 27 states have organized against testing, including holding rallies; petition drives; showings of “Standardized,” a documentary critical of testing; and sessions telling parents they have a right to keep their children from taking tests, as tens of thousands of parents around the country have done.

“Does it give us a platform?” said Karen E. Magee, the president of New York State United Teachers. “Absolutely.” 
The union of left- and right-wing ideology. Who's leveraging whom? Or is this the serendipitous coalescing of natural interests?

April 20, 2015

"In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life."

"In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South — from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. — hundreds of thousands more are missing. They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million... For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity."

From a NYT piece called "1.5 Million Missing Black Men."

"We will support whoever the candidate is. But it should be Scott Walker."

Said David Koch of the notorious Koch Brothers.

"Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10... was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking."

"The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram. She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door. 'I was so afraid,' she says. 'I did not know what to do.'... It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information...."

From "Wisconsin’s Shame: 'I Thought It Was a Home Invasion.'"

"Fired staffer accuses Tammy Baldwin's office of coverup in VA scandal."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
In a 16-page complaint, Baylor is asking the U.S. Senate Ethics Select Committee to investigate the first-term senator "for making false statements and representations" to cover up the actions by her chief of staff, Bill Murat, and "to protect her political career."

"Had Murat, as the chief of staff, allowed me and other individuals to properly perform our roles, the issues surrounding the Tomah VA Medical Center would have been identified and addressed long ago," Baylor said in the complaint drafted by a Republican law firm out of Kansas City. "By attempting to place to place the blame at my feet, Senator Baldwin has concealed the truth, made false statements, and mischaracterized my service as deputy state director."

At the Cherry Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"President Obama betrayed him. He’s stopped publishing new work. He’s alienated his closest friends and allies."

"What happened to America’s most exciting black scholar?," asks Michael Eric Dyson in a big New Republic about Cornel West.

The resurrection of the Twinkie.

"It was the risk. This was a rare circumstance in history when you see a company go completely off the shelves and have no employees, have empty factories and no working capital. We saw the opposite – this was an opportunity to take a great brand and for the first time be able to reinvent it."
The magic bullet turned out to be chemistry. Metropoulos spent millions on R&D, working with food lab Corbion to tweak the formula of starches, oils and gums in Twinkies, finally arriving at an acidity level that would prevent staleness and discoloration. The singular goal: Make the Twinkie warehouse-friendly. And while none of this will make Alice Waters’ heart flutter, the team succeeded in making the indestructible snack even more so – [its] shelf life was more than doubled, to 65 days. Hostess switched to a warehouse system. Delivery costs dropped to 16% from 36% of revenue, and Hostess’ retail reach expanded greatly. “We now ship to all Wal-Marts, dollar stores, 100,000 convenience stores, plus vending machines and food services,” says Jhawar. “There is no reason why Hostess can’t be sold in any place that sells candy bars.”

Madison's "Mifflin West" neighborhood is the #1 "Most Livable" neighborhood in the United States....

... according to the AARP. 
Condos and apartments blend with single-family houses in this eclectic neighborhood within walking distance of parks, lakes, shopping, a performing arts center, the state Capitol and all the university amenities. Minimal congestion, frequent buses. High voting rate.
New York's Upper West Side comes in second. Another Wisconsin place is #6: Washburn, La Crosse, Wisconsin.

"Long-forgotten shipwrecks of Lake Michigan revealed as unusually clear waters shed light on what lies beneath surface."

"The unusual transparency has been caused by surface ice melting, unveiling the boat graveyard at the bottom of the Great Lake, before organisms like plankton conceal them once more."

A nurse said: "We all play a game called Interesting Things I Have Found in Obese People’s Rolls of Fat."

"So far I’m sitting in third with a fork, second place is an ICU nurse who found a TV remote, and the winner is an ER nurse who found a tuna fish sandwich."

Quoted in a WaPo article called "Nurses make fun of their dying patients. That’s okay," by Alexandra Robbins, who has a book called, "The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles With the Heroes of the Hospital."

Robbins says:
I learned that some units have a dedicated “butt box” for items retrieved from patients’ rectums — glass perfume bottles, an entire apple, etc. — though after Indiana nurses pulled out a G.I. Joe, the real unfortunate hero assumed pride of place in the nurses’ station.
Her point is that usually the jokes are about "situations and symptoms"...
But even when patients do become subjects of derogatory humor, we shouldn’t rush to criticize medical professionals for using it. Bioethicist Katie Watson suggests that kind of humor may result when health-care providers feel powerless to heal. “Derisive joking does the unspoken work of reframing physicians as blameless for their inability to help,” she wrote in 2011 in the Hastings Center Report....

Humor has a place in hospitals, even if it’s dark, even if it’s derogatory — as long as it isn’t cruel.... Humor is a way for nurses to empower themselves and to unite with one another, determined and defiant, against disease and injury...
... and rolls of fat.

"It felt like my boss had ripped off my clothes and left me standing in my skivvies."

Writes Lindsey Kaufman in a WaPo article titled "Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace" about the time she "was forced to trade in my private office for a seat at a long, shared table."
Our new, modern Tribeca office was beautifully airy, and yet remarkably oppressive. Nothing was private. On the first day, I took my seat at the table assigned to our creative department, next to a nice woman who I suspect was an air horn in a former life.  All day, there was constant shuffling, yelling, and laughing, along with loud music piped through a PA system. As an excessive water drinker, I feared my co-workers were tallying my frequent bathroom trips. At day’s end, I bid adieu to the 12 pairs of eyes I felt judging my 5:04 p.m. departure time. I beelined to the Beats store to purchase their best noise-cancelling headphones in an unmistakably visible neon blue.
The most horrific part of that is "loud music."  Later:
If employers want to make the open-office model work, they have to take measures to improve work efficiency... And please, let’s eliminate the music that blankets our workspaces.  Metallica at 3 p.m. isn’t always compatible with meeting a 4 p.m. deadline.
Jeez. Any music interferes with the kind of thinking you need to do to write. Of course, hearing other people talking is bad too, and the right kind of music can be used to exclude voices. Ten years ago, I worked hard on putting together a music-for-reading playlist. I've deployed Brian Eno many times — even to work in my office (which is not impervious to the sound of people talking in hallways and other offices).

Kaufman ends with "companies could simply join another trend — allowing employees to work from home," and that's my preference for most of the work I do. You can get deeply attached to quiet if you have access to it and learn how much it helps. When you're reading and writing, there's no music at all that's better than silence.

"Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich."

A book — by Peter Schweizer — that's coming out in a couple weeks.

The NYT got hold of a copy, and Amy Chozick has this:
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling [than some other recent anti-Hillary books], both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book....

From 2001 to 2012, the Clintons’ income was at least $136.5 million, Mr. Schweizer writes, using a figure previously reported in The Post. “During Hillary’s years of public service, the Clintons have conducted or facilitated hundreds of large transactions” with foreign governments and individuals, he writes. “Some of these transactions have put millions in their own pockets.”...

[Schweizer] writes mainly in the voice of a neutral journalist and meticulously documents his sources....

Should NYT columnist Frank Bruni get in trouble for calling the relationship between Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin "marsupial"?

Bruni wrote: "'Everyday Americans' specifically included 'everyday Iowans' when Clinton traveled across the heartland in her Scooby van with Huma Abedin, who clings to her so tightly that their relationship could be called marsupial."

Instapundit says: "HUH. I WONDER WHAT HE’S TRYING TO SAY WITH THAT?" I wonder what Instapundit is trying to say with that. I assume what I assumed when I read Bruni: He's saying — with deniability — that Hillary and Huma are lesbians.

Now, Frank Bruni himself is openly gay, so there's no reason to imagine him to be antagonistic to lesbians or to think it's amusing to float the rumor that the 2 women are lesbians. Or... maybe not. It's possible that an openly gay person would want to pressure closeted gay people to come out. Bruni must know that he's giving air to a rumor that some anti-Hillary people get off on.

And to use an animal to say something about a person...

... you are inviting trouble if you're using that animal to represent membership in a traditionally discriminated-against group.

"In battle for authenticity, Scott Walker looks to Kohl's."

A CNN article about how Scott Walker has branded himself with a brand — the Wisconsin-based retailer Kohl's. CNN enumerates 4 reasons for Walker to use the Kohl's brand: 1. It signifies frugality, 2. He has a way to connect it to tax policy, 3. He can contrast himself to Hillary who probably shops at more expensive places, and 4. He can leverage easy jokes like saying "Is it from Kohl's?" when someone gives him something.

What I find weird is that CNN writes an entire article about how Walker has connected his name to Kohl's and seems to try to find everything possible to say about that but never got around to the fact that the name Kohl's has long been connected to a Democrat. Has everyone forgotten Herb Kohl already? It's his family's business and the source of all the money that allowed him to run as "Nobody's Senator But Yours":

Great slogan for a rich guy, no? It argued that he could care for us and connect with us precisely because he was wealthy, and he didn't need to get money from other people. And now, ironically, the always middle class Scott Walker is using Kohl's name to send the message that his lack of wealth connects him with us.

ADDED: WaPo has a similar article "Scott Walker stresses his discount attire and ‘regular guy’ credentials," and it also misses the Herb Kohl connection.

April 19, 2015

"At Candidate Forum, Scott Walker Discusses Same-Sex Marriage of a Relative."

"Asked by a reporter if he would attend a gay wedding...."
“That’s certainly a personal issue,” Mr. Walker said at a brief news conference after addressing a gathering of New Hampshire Republicans here. Referring to his wife, he continued, “Tonette and I and our family already had a family member who’s had a reception. I haven’t been to a wedding. That’s true even though my position on marriage is still that’s defined between a man and a woman, and I support the Constitution of the state. But for someone I love, we’ve been at a reception.”...

Last June, a cousin of Mrs. Walker, Shelli Marquardt, was married to her partner at Waukesha County Courthouse outside Milwaukee, according to media reports. The Walkers’ then-19-year-old son, Alex, served as a witness and signed his name to the marriage certificate....
ALSO: "Walker Shines in New Hampshire."

At the Sunday Garden Café...


... things are very pretty right now.

"I think you see the Scooby-Doo van if you're a Democrat and you say 'ruh roh,'" said Dana Milbank...

... on "Face the Nation" this morning. The subject was that it's a big problem for Democrats that there are no other candidates. And this was right after an interview with Martin O'Malley. Milbank's comment on O'Malley was:
[I]n that interview he was hardly challenging Hillary at all. And I think if he's going to sit there say I did good job as mayor of Baltimore, and I was a good governor, I mean he has as much chance of landing on the White House as if he's going in there in [a] gyrocopter. It's not going to happen unless he takes her on more forcefully.
And that characterization of O'Malley's interview is pretty apt. The moderator, Bob Schieffer, had tried to prompt him to take on Hillary, but look how flat that fell:

Chris Wallace confronts Senator Lindsey Graham with the question why he has never married...

... and gets quite an answer:
WALLACE: There was an article in "The Washington Post" this week, I must say, told me a lot of things I didn't know about you. It detailed the fact that when you were at the University of South Carolina as an undergraduate, you lost both your mom and your dad within 15 months and that you basically brought up and supported your then-13-year-old sister, Darlene. Some of your friends suggested that might have been a reason why you never got married. We can't [put] you on the psychiatrist's coach. But how did those traumatic events, how did they shape your life, sir?

Trout lilies are blooming.


In Governor Nelson State Park today.


A kockeputzi.

"I remember liking the present Museum of Modern Art before it opened in 2004. For the life of me, I can’t now imagine what I was thinking. An aged New Yorker, visiting from Florida, not long ago happened upon the new Whitney. A 'kockeputzi,' she called it. Yes, it is a mishmash. But buildings take time to reveal their true selves."

From Michael Kimmelman's NYT article about the new Whitney Museum.

I don't know about the museum, but I'm enjoying the word kockeputzi.

"The last man to shoot an American president spends most of the year in a house overlooking the 13th hole of a golf course in a gated community."

"He likes taking walks, plays guitar and paints, eats at Wendy's and drives around in a Toyota. Often, as if to avoid detection, he puts on a hat or visor before going out...."
For the past year, under a judge's order, [John] Hinckley [Jr.] has spent 17 days a month at his mother's home in Williamsburg, a small southeastern Virginia city. Freedom has come in stages and with strict requirements: meeting regularly in Williamsburg with a psychiatrist and a therapist, volunteering. It has all been part of a lengthy process meant to reintegrate Hinckley, now nearing 60, back into society.

Court hearings are set to begin Wednesday on whether to expand Hinckley's time in Williamsburg further — possibly permanently....

The perception that "unisex" fashion arrived in the 60s then went away and came back.

Here's "A Brief History of Unisex Fashion" in The Atlantic:
In her new book Sex and Unisex: Fashion, Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution, the University of Maryland professor Jo Paoletti revisits the unisex trend....

As far as the American fashion industry was concerned, the unisex movement came and largely went in one year: 1968. The trend began on the Paris runways, where designers like Pierre Cardin, Andre Courreges, and Paco Rabanne conjured up an egalitarian “Space Age” of sleek, simple silhouettes, graphic patterns, and new, synthetic fabrics with no historical gender associations....

The unisex movement may have made women’s clothes more masculine, but it never made them unfeminine; furthermore, “attempts to feminize men’s appearance turned out to be particularly short-lived,” Paoletti notes....

Paoletti traces the end of the unisex era to the mid-1970s. In 1974, Diane von Furstenberg introduced her wrap dress, a garment that combined femininity and functionality....

Since the 1990s, however, fashion has been blurring gender lines once again. A recent New York Magazine story traced modern androgyny to grunge: Women donned flannel lumberjack shirts and combat boots while Kurt Cobain posed in ballgowns and housedresses.... Indeed, unisex everything appears to be back with a vengeance....
As fashion, unisex must cycle in and out. Things must look new and then old and, eventually, new again. But not all unisex clothing is part of fashion trending. Once everyone decided we could wear jeans (and other workmanlike trousers) and T-shirts (long and short sleeved), that was always an option, not because of fashion, but for functionality, cheapness, and simplicity. Fashion sometimes taps into this anti-fashion work-and-poverty ethic, so it seems to go in and out, but it's really always been there. It's a separate question whether anyone is specifically attempting to project the message: I am neither male nor female. A subquestion is: Among those who choose to project a neither-male-nor-female message, which ones are expressing his/her true identity and which ones are trying to be cool/cute? Subsubquestion: Which ones even know?

"By glamorizing a limited budget in a piously frugal 'look what you can do with it' sort of way, it suggests that people who aren’t eating as beautifully are doing it wrong and deserving of additional scorn."

"This isn’t an exercise in actually eating what SNAP recipients can eat, and it creates false impressions of what this lived reality actually is, making it easier for people to make false comparisons to their own situation."

A former nutritionist named Stephanie Jolly told Darlena Cunha, a home-based parent and former television producer. Cunha has an article in WaPo titled "How Gwyneth Paltrow hurt America’s poor and hungry/Her uber-privileged food stamp challenge obscures the many obstacles low income people face."

We were just talking about Paltrow's food-stamp challenge here. There are lots of good comments in there. And Dan from Madison has his own blog post, here:
I decided to go to my local grocery store to see if I could get enough food to live on for one week for $29.... Vegetables, frozen, are a great deal.... The chicken thighs were an easy choice for protein.... The mayo cost us $1.59 - but that will help stretch all of that tuna that only cost us .625 per can (there was a deal at 4 for $2.50).  I would plan on tuna fish sandwiches or that PB and J for lunches at my job, and would bring an apple or banana along.  The bread was only .89 for the loaf.  For breakfast I could imagine a fried egg atop toast with a little yogurt and/or fruit on the side.  The cans of chicken noodle soup were an astounding .49 each.  For dinners, I imagined rice (.99 for the bag - and that is a lot of rice), and chicken with vegetables.... So the total for all of this food above was $23.99...
To that, Dan added a "flask of Shellback Spiced rum... $4.19." He declares: "I think I pretty conclusively proved that one person could easily eat for $29 for a week and still have money left over for bad habits like drinking."

Does that count as the "scorn" Stephanie Jolly was talking about? And, more importantly, will Dan be "eating beautifully"?

"Beards of Ministry/A field guide for pastoral facial hair."

An informative graphic.

(Via WaPo.)

"How have we gotten so crazy that what was just a normal childhood a generation ago is considered radical?"

Asks Danielle Meitiv, a prominent mother in the "free range children movement," quoted in a WaPo article titled "'Free-range' flap in Maryland fans flames of national debate on parenting." Answering Meitiv's question, WaPo says:
Sociologists date an increasing perception of dangerousness to some highly publicized child abductions in the 1970s and ’80s, including 6-year-old Etan Patz, who was headed to a bus stop in New York City.

That terrifying disappearance, now the focus of a jury trial, led to the creation of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the faces of missing children showing up on milk cartons across the country....

“Most of what gets reported to CPS does not get substantiated” because the evidence is uncertain, [said David Finkelhor, who directs the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire], noting that the substantiation rates are around 25 percent to 30 percent, depending on the kind of maltreatment. “So the question is, do these cases involve families where there is some need, or is this just an overreach on the part of the state?”

Maureen Dowd says Hillary Clinton "can’t figure out how to campaign as a woman."

That's a statement that is sexist IF the assumed proposition is true: that Hillary Clinton is trying to "campaign as a woman."

So, does Dowd establish the necessary proposition? Dowd points to Hillary's 2008 campaign and asserts that "Hillary scrubbed out the femininity, vulnerability and heart" because: 1. Mark Penn (her chief strategist) had written that voters look to the President as "the 'father' of the country," not a "first mama," and 2. Bill Clinton’s post-9/11 advice to all Democrats was that it works better to be "strong and wrong than... weak and right." Consequently, Hillary was too pro-war on Iraq, or, as Dowd puts it: Hillary "act[ed] like a masculine woman defending the Iraq invasion" and lost out to the "feminized man" who denounced it.

Yes, that's right: Dowd calls Obama a feminized man and equates resistance to war to femininity. So far, Dowd is looking utterly and confidently sexist.
After losing Iowa and watching New Hampshire slip away to the tyro, Barack Obama, Hillary cracked. She misted up, talking to a group of voters in New Hampshire when a woman asked her how she kept going, while staying “upbeat and so wonderful.”

... [I]t was a triumph because she seemed real. As The Washington Post’s Dan Balz wrote in his campaign book, it “let a glimmer of her humanity peek through.”

Hillary always overcorrects. Now she has zagged too far in the opposite direction, presenting herself as a sweet, docile granny in a Scooby van....

[I]sn’t there a more authentic way for Hillary to campaign as a woman — something between an overdose of testosterone and an overdose of estrogen, something between Macho Man and Humble Granny?...
Hillary is a woman, so why talk about what it means to campaign "as a woman"? Hillary is a specific person. We all know her very well. If she's dialing weakness and strength up and down for political reasons and we can see it, she seems dishonest and devious. Dowd's word "authentic" hits that problem. To equate weakness and strength to femininity and masculinity is sexist stereotyping.

Dowd doesn't take responsibility for her sexism. In fact, she ends the column by projecting that sexism onto Republicans. Hillary's "Republican rivals...  are coming after her with every condescending, misogynist, distorted thing they’ve got." I predict that the GOP candidates will go out of their way to seem gender-neutral and to avoid giving Hillary and her supporters material they can use to do more War-on-Women politics. It's Dowd who's plying misogyny right now, using stereotypes like "granny" and the masculinized woman.

Hillary's real problem is inauthenticity. Dowd's saw that and admitted it as she rambled along the gender track, where she needed to be to get where she wanted to go: Those Republicans are terrible.