May 9, 2015

At the Star of Bethlehem Café...


... shine on.

"I have now been to all 50 states as president — and I was saving the best for last."

Said Obama, finally getting around to South Dakota.

"The country’s rapidly growing marijuana industry has a tax problem."

"Even as more states embrace legal marijuana, shops say they are being forced to pay crippling federal income taxes because of a decades-old law aimed at preventing drug dealers from claiming their smuggling costs and couriers as business expenses on their tax returns."


Here's mine.

"This is so great and I have no idea why. It's so damn easy to make something that sounds good. Is this how tracker nerds feel?"

"Having craved and even mythologised America in the 80s and 90s, Russians feel they have been snubbed."

"Despite their wealth and embrace of Western lifestyles, Russia’s elite feel they have not been accepted by the West as equals," explains The Economist, in "The Economist explains/How Russians see the West."

What actress will play the part of Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Natalie Portman.

AND: "Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan to reunite for movie about young Karl Rove." Radcliffe is playing Lee Atwater. DeHaan (of whom I'd never previously heard) is playing young Rove... and he really looks like him.


... to everyone who's used this blog's Amazon portal in the last month. I haven't mentioned it in a long time, but it is the primary way the writing here earns income, and I do notice and appreciate the gesture readers make when they begin their Amazon shopping here.


"I don't think anyone questions her right to free speech. But..."

That's not from some article about Pamela Geller or some law instruction from Eugene Volokh a propos of Pamela Geller. That's from something at Chicks on the Right titled "Boston University Professor Tweets That White Males Are A "Problem Population." And Yes. There's More." which I got to via Instapundit, who blogged:
A HOSTILE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Boston University Professor Tweets That White Males Are A “Problem Population.” And Yes. There’s More.

Quick, report her to the Office of Equity and Diversity!

"This Boy Wonder Is Building the Conservative in an Illinois Garage."

"Republican donors are counting on the 21-year-old to energize voters."
“He impressed me with his capacity to lead, intelligence, and love for America,” [multimillionaire investor Foster] Friess says. “I instantly knew I wanted to support him.”
He = some kid named Charlie Kirk.

Allen Ginsberg "greeted them wearing nothing but boxer shorts on his head and a do not disturb sign hung on his penis."

Them = George Harrison and Pattie Boyd and John and Cynthia Lennon. 
The Beatles winced at this and left shortly afterwards, Lennon hissing at Allen, ‘You don’t do that in front of the birds.’ It was their loss....

"Male pedicure customers are despised by many manicurists for their thick toenails and hair-covered knuckles."

"When a man comes into the store, almost invariably a non-Korean worker is first draft for his foot bath, salon workers said."

Just one thing I'm extracting from the prominent NYT article "The Price of Nice Nails/Manicurists are routinely underpaid and exploited, and endure ethnic bias and other abuse, The New York Times has found."

"Did Laurence Tribe Sell Out?"

Asks lawprof Tim Wu in The New Yorker. Key paragraph:
How you feel about this work probably depends on how you feel about the use of the Constitution as an anti-regulatory tool and the idea of corporations as constitutional “persons.” Tribe has taken a strong view of individual rights; his view of corporate rights is similar, and in this capacity he has at times advanced constitutional arguments that might invalidate great parts of the administrative state, in a manner recalling the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence of the nineteen-twenties and thirties. In that sense, the current condemnation of Tribe can be seen as part of a larger progressive backlash against the use of the Bill of Rights to serve corporate interests.

"One voter decided to draw a detailed representation of a penis instead of a cross in my box on one ballot paper."

"Amazingly, because it was neatly drawn within the confines of the box the returning officer deemed it a valid vote. I'm not sure the artist meant it to count, but I am grateful. If I knew who it was, I would like to thank him (or her) personally."

Said Glyn Davies, who won the Welsh seat of Montgomeryshire.

Neatly drawn within the confines of the box... I love that. Gives new meaning to the old expression "Dick in a Box."

May 8, 2015

A lone holdout juror...

... in the case of Etan Patz.

ADDED: Why are there photographs of the jurors? In the comments, someone says that the holdout juror "looks like a smug little prick & probably glad that he let the guy off." This is a man who held out for 18 days of deliberation. How do you expect a man who just did that to look?
Adam Sirois, juror No 11, said Hernandez's guilt had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. During a press conference held at the conclusion of the trial, a smirking Sirois sheepishly raised his hand to indicate that he was the juror who was responsible for the mistrial.

Sirois told reporters Pedro Hernadenz's apparent mental health issues were a major concern for him, and that he could not convict the defendant solely based on his 'very bizarre' confession, reported ABC News.
So there are photographs because the jurors gave a press conference. The photographers must have taken thousands of pictures of Sirois's face, and the newspaper editors have chosen one, one that supports the "smirking... sheepishly" characterization. If he "looks like a smug little prick" to you, that's because the editors decided to help you think that and because the man just had an 18-day experience and was the kind of person who could stand up for his beliefs in a group setting for more than 2 weeks. Most people would cave and go along to get along. These people are much more likely to have a pleasant, unremarkable face.

AND: Amy Davidson in The New Yorker: "The doubt in this case was not just reasonable. It was, and is, profound."

ALSO: It should be clear that the jurors chose to give that press conference. They knew they didn't have to do it. And yet, if they had not taken advantage of the opportunity to engage with the press as a group, the press would have sought them out individually. 

"Paternity Case for a New Jersey Mother of Twins Bears Unexpected Results: Two Fathers."

An interesting story which I only started reading because I thought it was about bears.
The case took root when the mother, identified only as T.M., told the Passaic County Board of Social Services in the course of applying for benefits that A.S., her romantic partner, had fathered her twins, The Law Journal reported. The board, in turn, filed an application to establish his paternity and force him to pay child support for the twins, born in January 2013.

But the woman’s claim slowly fell apart. She revealed in testimony that she had had sex with a second, unidentified man within a week of having sex with her romantic partner. A paternity test was ordered....

"I keep hearing about a supposed 'hate speech' exception to the First Amendment, or statements such as, 'This isn’t free speech, it’s hate speech.'"

Eugene Volokh wants to get everybody up to speed on the actual case law.

"New Apostle of Hygienic Living Founds System on This Rule: 'Breathe Deep/Chew Long/Drink Enough/Eat Little.'"

"BACK TO NATURE" MOVEMENT GROWS/Civilization to Save Itself by Abandoning Artificial Modes of Life."

A New York Times article published November 16, 1907. A summary of the rules:

Found through a search for the word "eugenics" in the NYT archive. Context:

"When they put the suitcase through the scanner, the operator noticed something strange, which seemed to be a person inside the case."

"When it was opened they found a minor, in a terrible state."

A 19-year-old woman put an 8-year-old boy in a suitcase to smuggle him from  Morocco into Spanish territory. You can see the scanner photo at the link.

I've got a different theory about "How the Clintons Get Away With It."

Here's Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal:
I wonder if any aspirant for the presidency except Hillary Clinton could survive [a book like "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich"]. I suspect she can because the Clintons are unique in the annals of American politics: They are protected from charges of corruption by their reputation for corruption. It’s not news anymore. They’re like . . . Bonnie and Clyde go on a spree, hold up a bunch of banks, it causes a sensation, there’s a trial, and they’re acquitted. They walk out of the courthouse, get in a car, rob a bank, get hauled in, complain they’re being picked on—“Why are you always following us?”—and again, not guilty. They rob the next bank and no one cares. “That’s just Bonnie and Clyde doing what Bonnie and Clyde do. No one else cares, why should I?”
My theory is that Hillary Clinton is only getting away with it now. The evidence against her should utterly destroy her, but not yet. The stars are aligned in her favor now, but the alignment will end some time in 2016.

Who is motivated to use this evidence now? Basically, no one.

Democrats still believe she will be their candidate, and they don't want to attack her. It might be useful to test her and allow her to topple early enough to open the field to other candidates. But who? That's a risky strategy, and it takes nerve. The better approach seems to be to allow all the new things to get old and to hope people will forget or at least get bored enough to swallow the argument that the subject has already been fully discussed and only toxic weird people still talk about it.

Why should Republicans attack? They have great material, but if they use it now, they might end up with someone else whom they'd have to find ways to demolish. Save it. Hold it in reserve. Wait until the Democrats lock her in as the candidate, and then let loose with all the attacks you've had so long to meticulously prepare.

I say she's not getting away with it. Not in the end. 

Eugenics update.

"Women With Ph.D.s Buck The Trend Toward A Baby Bust."

"Nate Silver fared terribly in Thursday's UK election... The fault, Silver claimed, was with the polling."

Don't blame Silver, says Silver. He only processes the data he gets from polls done by other people.
"The World May Have A Polling Problem," Silver asserted. "In fact, it’s become harder to find an election in which the polls did all that well."... "[T]here are lots of reasons to worry about the state of the polling industry," Silver concluded, citing a range of factors. "There may be more difficult times ahead for the polling industry."
Well, that's awfully bland... from Dylan Byers at Politico, who was only processing the raw material Silver gave him. Can I blame Silver? For anything, ever? He cited "a range of factors." Were they too dull and meaningless to be worth more than the repetition of the conclusion that polls just aren't that good?

ADDED: The NYT surveys some analysis of what went wrong with the polls:
“It could be simply that people lied to the pollsters, that they were shy or that they genuinely had a change of heart on polling day,” [said Alberto Nardelli, writing in The Guardian], “Or there could be more complicated underlying challenges within the polling industry, due, for example, to the fact that a diminishing number of people use landlines or that Internet polls are ultimately based on a self-selected sample.”...

“What seems to have gone wrong is that people have said one thing and they did something else in the ballot box,” [said Peter Kellner, the president of YouGov, a leading survey firm]. “We are not as far out as we were in 1992, not that that is a great commendation.”...
Rem Korteweg, a senior research fellow at the Center for European Reform in London, said... “People say who they are voting for with their heart and then vote with their wallets,”...
To tweak Korteweg's point: People say what they think will make other people like them, but they do what they think is in their interest. Re-tweak: People do what is in their interest, which is to say what they believe is socially desirable, and that won't square up with what they do when no one's looking. If this is the problem, it's a problem that will get worse as it becomes more widely believed that liberalism makes you look good. Korteweg is contributing to the contagion of this belief by saying that in their hearts people are liberal, nudging us all to say I'm a liberal, so I'll seem to be a person with a heart.

(Detail about that video here.)

"NASA radar detects heartbeats under rubble, saves four men in Nepal."

"Using technology developed to find aliens, it’s saving lives on Earth."

Symptoms of a leveling spirit.

That's a phrase I just Googled because writing the previous post (about the UK elections), I was reminded of something that came up yesterday in my reading of Robert A. Caro's "Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III":
The Framers of the Constitution feared the people’s power because they were, many of them, members of what in America constituted an aristocracy, an aristocracy of the educated, the well-born, and the well-to-do, and they mistrusted those who were not educated or well-born or well-to-do. More specifically, they feared the people’s power because, possessing, and esteeming, property, they wanted the rights of property protected against those who did not possess it. In the notes he made for a speech in the Constitutional Convention, James Madison wrote of the “real or supposed difference of interests” between “the rich and poor”—“ those who will labor under all the hardships of life, and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings”— and of the fact that over the ages to come the latter would come to outnumber the former. “According to the equal laws of suffrage, the power will slide into the hands of the latter,” he noted. “Symptoms, of a leveling spirit, as we have understood, have sufficiently appeared in certain quarters to give notice of the future danger.”
The funny thing is, though, that the entire first 2 pages of Google results were about a record titled "Symptoms of a Leveling Spirit" by a hardcore punk band called Good Riddance. Chris Moran of Punknews said it was "without question, the definitive GR album... not the same 1,000-beats-a-minute GR you've listened to for the last several years."

On the 3rd page of results, we finally get some Madison, the Records of the Federal Convention with the full context and somebody actually talking about it in a present-day setting (which is what I was searching for). It's the old Democratic Underground — "Does the Democratic Party still have the 'levelling spirit' I wonder?" — with the idea that the leveling spirit is a good thing. On page 4, in amongst many Good Riddance references, there's some Noam Chomsky:
Madison foresaw that the threat of democracy was likely to become more severe over time because of the increase in "the proportion of those who will labor under all the hardships of life, and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings." They might gain influence, Madison feared. He was concerned by the "symptoms of a leveling spirit" that had already appeared, and warned "of the future danger" if the right to vote would place "power over property in hands without a share in it." Those "without property, or the hope of acquiring it, cannot be expected to sympathize sufficiently with its rights," Madison explained. His solution was to keep political power in the hands of those who "come from and represent the wealth of the nation," the "more capable set of men," with the general public fragmented and disorganized...

"The cause of the Labour downfall is simple enough. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, proves to be a hard-line Leftist..."

"... believing that the state should control the individual and the individual should have no control over the state. Resenting capitalism, he wants to control markets and punish through taxation everyone who has benefitted from markets. He reminds me of Mikhael Gorbachev whose policy of perestroika was supposed to have the edge over reality. One look at him has been enough for the people of England. The Scottish National Party has captured an almost clean sweep of the Scottish seats, thus smashing beyond repair the previous Labour monopoly of those seats. A twenty-year-old student, in one startling instance, has trounced a former experienced cabinet minister. Culturally distinct from the English, the people of Scotland are wandering away into another imaginary landscape of socialism and nationalism. Now where have we had examples of this combination, and has any good ever come of it?"

Writes David Pryce-Jones in "Westminster Election Diary" at The New Criterion.

Othalanga, the suicide tree.

The thin-branched, flowering tree bears a deadly harvest: a softball-sized fruit with seeds so toxic they can stop a heart. In the 19th century in Madagascar, where the tree is also found, thousands of people per year died after consuming the seed in “trials by ordeal” believed to determine whether they were guilty of witchcraft or other crimes. And a 2004 study found that it’s responsible for roughly a death per week in Kerala, most of them suicides. Researchers believe that more people have taken their own life using othalanga than any other plant in the world.

"He said he hadn’t seen that guy in a long time. Then he admitted it and basically said, 'You got me.'"

"Frank Freshwaters... on the lam for 56 years."
Back in the summer of 1957, he was a 20-year-old kid with a full head of dark hair and a lead foot. One night in July, he was speeding through Ohio when he hit and killed a pedestrian. Freshwaters was sentenced to up to 20 years in prison only to have the sentence suspended.... But Freshwaters squandered his good fortune. He violated probation by climbing back into the driver’s seat and was locked up in February 1959 in the Ohio State Reformatory.

It would prove to be a fitting setting for Freshwaters. After its closing in 1990, the reformatory would be used as a set for “The Shawshank Redemption,” a 1994 movie about a wrongfully convicted man who escapes from prison. Freshwaters never escaped from the reformatory, however. Instead, he secured a transfer to a nearby “honor camp,” according to the AP. It was from there that Freshwaters disappeared on Sept. 30, 1959....

May 7, 2015

"It's a lot sillier than exercise today is."

"What? It's going too fast! I don't know what you're doing. Explain the move to me."

People of today try to follow 80s workout videos.

"You can take only one thought with you to the grave, and invariably it is a thought that bugs you..."

"... something that must be thought all the way through to the end before you find your peace. The thought I took was of a man I loved saying, 'You are a joke, and your life is a joke.' It cleaved to my head and my muscles and my bones, until I was nothing but those words. When my life collapsed inward—which is what death is, life collapsing deep into itself—that phrase remained outside the collapsing; it became a thing separate from me. And, because it was separate from me, I could take it with me—it was the only thing I had."

From an excellent New Yorker story by Sheila Heti titled "My Life Is a Joke."

"Intelligent people have a danger. It’s easy for them to be boring."

Said His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the top lama in the Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism.
His facial gestures were elastic and performative: bulging eyes, exaggerated grimaces and sighs, and double takes to accompany his own jokes. He wore square rimless glasses. “People think I’m intelligent, but I’m not so sure,” he said. “Intelligent people have a danger. It’s easy for them to be boring."

hbo movie about kurt cobain is hard to watch.

That's what I googled after watching about a half hour of it. That turned up an NPR piece that said:
But a new HBO documentary, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, looks beyond that well-known story. It gives motion to Cobain's artwork and photographs, and spends time with his media-averse family. And it's a film that is, at times, hard to watch.
And this from The Daily News:
It surprised [the director, Brett] Morgen that [Cobain's widow Courtney] Love has viewed this hard-to-watch movie at four screenings so far....

"If this sounds spiteful and ugly it is. But I think it is also appropriate, and who else would say it besides me?"

Wrote Penelope Trunk, guessing that Sheryl Sandberg's husband, David Goldberg, had killed himself and that he may have done so because she "leaned" into her job too much. (We later learned that Goldberg died in an accident on an exercise treadmill.)

In New York Magazine, Marin Cogan gets quite hostile to Trunk.
But instead of apologizing for her mistake, Trunk doubled down on the idea that he killed himself... If you’ve never read her, the posts come across as inexplicably cruel...

I’m not sure what exactly made me turn away from Trunk’s blog. I don’t think it was any one specific post, but the gradual realization, upon closer reading, that my friends and I were mistaken in assuming that Trunk’s brazen careerism was a feminist project in any meaningful sense. Some of her posts read more like trolling than genuine advice.... Not that long after I stopped reading it, the tone of the blog got dark...

"How can we cultivate a practice of stealing from the university? Do marooned and resistant communities exist on campus?"

"What do Moten and Harney mean when they recommend theft as our proper relationship to the university? What would this look like in our institutions and disciplines? Where do the undercommons exist or where can it be created? What skills do we need to develop to become thieves? Where would we use stolen and reappropriated resources?"

Things happening around here.

"A conservative — he’s one who holds things together."

"He shouldn’t fight all progressive movements, but he should be the balance wheel to hold the movement to where it won’t get out of hand."

"The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held in the case, which was brought by the ACLU, that the telephone metadata collection program 'exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.'"

"The Court did not rule on a larger Constitutional issue and sent the case back down to a lower court for further proceedings."
A three judge panel held that the text of the Patriot Act "cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it and that it does not authorize the telephone meta date program."

The Court said, "We do so comfortably in the full understanding that if Congress [chooses] to authorize such a far-reaching and unprecedented program, it has every [opportunity] to do so, unambiguously. Until such times as it does so, however, we decline to deviate from widely accepted interpretations of well-established legal standards."

"I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally."

Said a professor at the University of Warwick, The National Review reports in (fake?) horror. I heard Rush Limbaugh talking about this the other day too. I guess it was red meat for righties, but the professor's quote was perfectly true (to the point of banality) and his proposal was modest and apt.

This is mostly the traditional, old-fashioned moral practice of counting your blessings. Maybe before you eat dinner, you should say grace and reflect for one second about how there are people in this world who are hungry.

Hey, here's a bedtime story, kids, "The Great Gatsby." It begins:
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
It's very stodgy, very old-fashioned advice, this thinking about the less privileged. I know Rush and The National Review are acting like the professor is a big, old lefty, but I'm trying to remember that maybe they didn't have all the advantages I have had. I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, and as a consequence, I've been unjustly accused of being a politician....

"The Chinese Art of the Crowd."

"The masses of people can look beautiful or intimidating, projecting a sense of strength and abundance... a few of these images can create a dizzying effect when viewed while scrolling...."

"You could read Vera Wang's transparent wedding dress — which functions as wearable art much more than sellable merchandise..."

"... as an extreme answer to those often rather cruel tensions: What better way to criticize the constraints of the wedding industrial complex than by creating a dress that is, effectively, invisible?" writes Megan Garber in The Atlantic.
You could also read it, of course, as an overt rejection of the sexual mores at play in the traditional wedding dress. Wedding dresses have always been, on some level, about sex: the white as a sign (and a reassurance) of the bride's virginity; the expanse of fabric as a tacit promise that, while sex will be had, it will be had in the proper way. Women are getting married at older ages than they used to. Which means, among so much else, that they're less inclined to opt for princess-driven designs — and also that they're less inclined to designs that emphasize the virginal. “For my generation," the soon-to-be bride Natasha Da Silva told The New York Times in 2008, "looking like a virgin when you marry is completely unappealing, boring even. Who cares about that part anymore?”
How about creating a wedding that is, effectively, invisible? That's what we did.

Hairstyles of the 20th century.

Jon Krakauer semi-exposes himself to criticism in Missoula, the target of his new book "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town."

"Krakauer previously said he wasn't planning a tour or any other public appearances to promote the book, but he wanted to give critics in Missoula the chance to confront him."
Instead, he received an enthusiastic welcome and applause throughout his interview with University of Montana Journalism School Dean Larry Abramson before a standing-room only crowd of more than 550 people.

That warmth was shattered when a man who identified himself as Missoula attorney Thomas Dove made his way to the front of the room just as the interview ended, called Krakauer a liar, accused him of bias and of breaking the law by citing confidential documents in his book.

The crowd tried to shout down Dove, while a few others disappointed that Krakauer did not take questions from the audience demanded that Dove have his say. Krakauer started to answer Dove's questions, but eventually became exasperated and walked out of the room as the crowd became more hostile toward Dove.
So Krakauer purported to offer his critics in Missoula a chance to confront him, and he got a comfortable event to be staged somehow, through the auspices of the University of Montana, which has a big interest in shoring up its reputation. (The book is about things that happened to the university's students.) And a Missoula man shows up, prepared to confront Krakauer, but Krakauer takes no questions from the audience. When the man insists on speaking anyway, he seems like a heckler, and the huge Krakauer-friendly crowd tries to shout him down. But there are "a few others" present who, perhaps, felt burned that they showed up for what was purportedly going to be a confrontation with critics but turned out to be a well-cushioned platform for Krakauer. The "few others" and whatever they said were apparently enough to push Krakauer to start to answer, but somehow he "became exasperated." We're told the crowd got "hostile" to Dove, so I guess we're supposed to be satisfied that Dove really was a heckler and that the wisdom in numbers — "the crowd" vs. the "few others" — has determined that Krakauer was justified in walking out.

I want to see the transcript.

ADDED: There's some audio here. I learned that Dove was given a microphone, but then (for some reason) Dean Abrahamson cut things off. After that, Krakauer had some interaction with Dove but then walked out.

FINALLY: The commenter Carter Wood pointed to the video, and it's quite disturbing.

Dove isn't heckling. He has a microphone, and Krakauer endeavors to answer a few questions. Then the crowd takes up yelling and booing, perhaps to help Krakauer. Then Krakauer stomps over and snatches the mike out of Dove's hands. From the audience: a woman laughing, people booing, and a man saying "Get out of here!"

ALSO: To be fair, Dove was being boring. He had a sheaf of papers and took the liberty to read from them. That was after he'd gotten Krakauer to straight out admit he was biased and engaged in confirmation bias. That was a long enough turn for Dove, but he took advantage, like he was going to lead an inquest. That really wasn't going to work, but the way the crowd, the Dean, and the author shut him down made them all look awful. Stupid.

Teaching your children about the history of the United States — through reading and travel.

Is this something you've done or will do for your children? Did your parents do it for you? Mine did, a bit, with trips to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. I appreciate what they did, and I wish I'd done more. It's too late for me now to take any inspiration, but I was quite moved by a description I read yesterday of American History Parenting on a truly grand scale. I read it in in Robert A. Caro's "Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson)," but it's not something Lyndon Johnson did with his daughters. It's about Johnson's rival in the 1948 Senate election, Coke Stevenson. Stevenson had remarried (12 years after the death of his first wife) when he was 66, and a daughter was born 2 years later:
As soon as the little girl was old enough to understand (and she was old enough very young; at three and a half she was not only reading adult books but could speak fluent Spanish), Stevenson began telling her stories— wonderful stories— about the history of the United States, and of Texas— and of Greece and Rome. After she started school, on days when snow or ice made the roads impassable and she couldn’t get to school, he and Teeney would take over her education themselves, reading to her. And when Jane was nine, Coke and Teeney started showing Jane history for herself. They had read her the accounts of the Alamo, of course, and of the battles of San Jacinto and Goliad and Sabine Pass, and they took her to all those sites, but they also ranged farther afield. They took her to see the Oregon Trail, reading Parkman’s The Oregon Trail as they drove; the three of them followed the trails of Lewis and Clark. “And many of the other Western trails, too, trails we never hear of,” Teeney recalls. “Coke knew all the trails.” There was the Revolution and the Founding Fathers, and there were trips to Mount Vernon and Monticello, and there was the Civil War, and all the battlefields that made up part of the history that Coke Stevenson loved. By the time Jane was a teenager, she had been taken by her mother and father to every one of the forty-eight states, and to several provinces of Canada, also. And there was a trip to a place nearer home. Coming home from school one evening when she was eleven, Jane told her father and mother that her class had begun studying how the state government worked. Coke took her to Austin so she could see it work for herself; once again, there was the whisper in the halls of the Capitol, “Coke Stevenson’s here,” and people came out of their offices into the halls to see a tall, erect old man holding by the hand a skinny little girl in pigtails.
The little girl was Jane Stevenson Murr Chandler, who died in 2010. I can't find an obituary for her and I wonder what she did with her life. Perhaps she lived in quiet obscurity, endlessly reading history, walking the great trails, visiting the battlefields and landmarks. [UPDATE: Not sure where I got the info that she'd died in 2010, but as you can see here, she was still alive in 2017.]

We were talking just a few days ago about parents who travel with children, and the subject was more the way parents these days take pride in keeping up an adventurous travel program even after their children are born, how they'd like to jet to Europe, baby on board, and are a bit ashamed when they resort to resorts where one lolls about by a pool or on the beach. That looks so dismal and pathetic compared to what Stevenson did for Jane — did with Jane, because what he did was only possible because he loved reading history so much and he really believed in something about America.

"Other columnists have argued that the conservatives' quick action to replace Abrahamson is overplaying their hand."

"But it is no such thing; the chief's chair is rightfully Roggensack's, and delaying her ascension to the seat simply would be giving oxygen to Abrahamson's charade."

Writes Christian Scheider in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (about the lawsuit Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson brought to keep her position as chief after Wisconsin voters amended the state constitution to change the selection process from seniority to a vote of the 7 justices).

By the way, I wouldn't have used the word "ascension." When you're elected to a position, do you ascend? Funny that bothered me. It was just yesterday that I finished reading the book "Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson)," by Robert A. Caro. It's the story of how Lyndon Johnson first got his senate seat in 1948. It wasn't by winning an election. It was by stealing an election... most outrageously.

May 6, 2015

Alliums + cat.

Incongruities at Meadhouse.

The New England Patriots probably deflated their A.F.C. championship game footballs intentionally.

"The investigation, which was conducted by Theodore V. Wells Jr. and the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, concluded that it was probable that Patriots personnel were 'involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules.'"

"Euthanasia Coaster is a hypothetical euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely—with elegance and euphoria—take the life of a human being."

(Euthanasia Coaster from Julijonas Urbonas.)

"... either for dealing with overpopulation or if your life becomes... too long."

"It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when New York and also technology started to feel like such a chore."

"Maybe it was when I urinated in a slim-fit adult diaper while waiting in line for the iPhone 4 for ninety-three hours and pronounced the experience 'worth it,' or when I found myself testing out tweets on my wife during foreplay, or when a rat scurried across my face and into my mouth while I was checking Facebook and waiting for a C train that never arrived. But a few weeks ago, on a gray April day, as I ambled by the Duane Reade where my favorite dive bar McHurlihan’s once stood, while joylessly scrolling through my Twitter feed in between reading a saved Instapaper article about how to live in the moment, I realized I had to leave New York and stop using the Internet for a while."

The first paragraph of an essay by Benjamin Hart titled "Leaving New York and Also Technology/Why I left New York and also technology." And I love love love the implicit mocking of the requirement that articles have subtitles. I <hart> Benjamin Hart.

"An aide to state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and two others are accused of operating a rogue police force that claimed to exist for more than 3,000 years and have jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico..."

"... authorities said Tuesday."
Brandon Kiel, David Henry and Tonette Hayes were arrested last week on suspicion of impersonating a police officer through their roles in the Masonic Fraternal Police Department....

A website identifying itself as the police force's official site describes what makes the group unique: "When asked what is the difference between the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and other Police Departments the answer is simple for us. We were here first!... We are born into this Organization our bloodlines go deeper then an application. This is more then a job it is an obligation."

"Warren met privately with 'Draft Warren' supporters."

"The Massachusetts senator recently huddled with progressives affiliated with the campaign urging her to run for president. Her office insists she was unaware of any connection."

The gardener keeps his feet warm...


... on a cold early May morning at Meadhouse.

Does jibe/jive jibe/jive with your sense of spelling?

In the first post of today, there's a quote about a white supremacist troll who "listed examples that appeared to jive with the sample of angry responses."

In the comments, Tom B said,  "JIBE not JIVE you f*%#ing @&*%! aaaaaaaaaaah," and The Godfather said "Thanks, Tom B: You screamed so I don't have to," and holdfast said: "That's ok, I speak Jive"... which is that flies above all controversy.

But for the last word...

Oh, brother.

"Men but not women get to preside at Mass. Men but never women wear the cassock of a cardinal, the vestments of a pope. Male clergy are typically called 'father,' which connotes authority. Women in religious orders are usually called 'sister,' which doesn’t."

Says Frank Bruni in the middle of a rant titled "Catholicism Undervalues Women."

Whatever else he may want to say about Catholics and women, there's no lack of parallelism in that father/sister terminology. Men in religious orders are called "brother," and female leaders of orders are called "mother."

"Why I won't let my wife quit her job."

A headline at USA Today that comes with this photograph that makes you want to skip the article and read the thoughts on the bride's mind:

Anyway, here's the article, and the point is that the wife went through a stage when she was tempted to leave work and the husband pushed her through and now she's very happy with it, but the headline isn't "Why I wouldn't let my wife quit her job" and that makes a big difference. He's in a continuing state of denying her this permission (which, of course, contains the assumption that he has veto power). He says:
I do wonder a lot whether I'm a bad man for pushing her to [work] even though she says she wants to stay home with the kids. I'm just terrified she'll lose her drive.
See? He wants a wife with "drive." It's about her and his preference for a Maximized Her (as opposed to money or what's best for the children).
The happiest times I have seen my wife (besides with the kids) is when she has achieved professionally. I don't want her to look back and say, "I could have done 'this' with my degree."... I'm scared my wife will feel inferior to me — and resent me.
So his seeming male dominance melts away into hammy posturing in The Theater of Male Feminism.

He proceeds to talk about his daughter, and how he likes that she dreams of "going to Mars or being the first female president" and not "becoming a trophy wife or stay-at-home mom." He doesn't want to pay her to go to college "just to see her walk away and let a man take care of her."

The key word "let" appears again. He won't let his wife let him take care of her. Who's letting whom here? He doesn't want to let his daughter let a man take care of her.

3 4 5 6 more things:

1. Everyone walks away from college.

2. In a truly egalitarian marriage, the 2 individuals would talk to each other continually and make decisions together.

3. The single-earner family with a division of labor can make economic and emotional sense, and people ought to think clearly about it as a rational option. I recommend transcending all the propaganda and polemics and understanding yourself and your own idea of the good.

4. Why are little girls always having the same old dreams, dreams that sound like they could have been written by a hack writer for Ms. in 1972? Why is it always President and astronaut? And isn't there a big inconsistency between Scientist Girl and dreaminess? If you'd really like the child to become a scientist, lay off the ideology.

5. If that girl is dreaming of being the first female president, I guess she's dreaming that Hillary will lose...

6. What if Hillary would like to stay home with granddaughter Charlotte and Bill won't let her quit?

"The reason why job prospects are improving for law students is because the amount of people in law school is going down."

"We're not creating more real lawyer jobs, we're just decreasing the supply of would-be lawyers."  

"Is that a bad thing?"

I'm afraid Lindsey Graham hates me.

Dear Lindsey:

I am concerned about your statement "Everything that starts with 'Al' in the Middle East is bad news."

Your friend,


"Governors can certainly read about foreign policy, and take briefings and meet with experts, but there is no way they’ll be ready on Day One to manage U.S. foreign policy."

Said Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, attempting to distinguish himself from some of his rivals for the GOP nomination for President.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker gives the response you'd have written for him if it was your job to write spiffy responses: "I think he’s questioning how Ronald Reagan was ready."

I got those quotes from a Fox6 article with a headline that I found odd: "Governor Scott Walker blames President Obama, Hillary Clinton for world violence." What is Fox6? I see the article is really by CNN. I read the article looking for material that justified that headline. I didn't find it.

Trolling methodology: buying Twitter ads.

Using "promoted tweets," a white supremacist not only avoids getting blocked by various Twitter users, but he is also able to target the very people who don't want to have to hear him:
Though [Andrew "weev"] Auernheimer didn't say exactly which users/groups he chose to target in his trolling campaign, he listed examples that appeared to jive with the sample of angry responses that followed: people who are active in Democratic political campaigns or animal rights groups; women who shop for fine jewelry; followers of known feminist sites like Jezebel and Feministing.
There is a limit to how much can be done:
When asked about Auernheimer's promoted tweets, a Twitter spokesperson pointed out that the tweets in question had been deleted because they violated the service's hate/sensitive ads policy. The representative declined to comment on whether the promoted tweets service would be tweaked or altered in light of Auernheimer's targeted trolling stunt.
But: should this be dismissed as a "trolling stunt"? It could be compared to the way — in the walking-around world — protesters go to a place they want to protest or, say, right-to-lifers seek to engage with women who are walking into abortion clinics. On line, there's the danger that people will set things up so they only hear the speech of those they want to allow into the comfortable space of their closed minds. Maybe it's good to have a way to override these barriers, to pierce the on-line cocoon.

Presumably, Twitter will do what serves its interests, but what is that? I see that "Twitter [is] at the Crossroads/The company knows it’s in trouble. And its options are bleak."

People are only there to be targeted if they like to hang out on Twitter, and if the atmosphere doesn't please them, they'll leave. I mean, you don't even leave Twitter, do you? You just don't show up so often... and at some point, you notice you don't go there anymore.

May 5, 2015

"Sadly, the creator of Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal has died."

"Happily, Ryan Gosling does the best tribute evar," I found out at Metafilter.

Here's the original "Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal" (from a couple years ago):

And here's the tribute:

More detail at "Know Your Meme," including the name of the man who made the original videos, Ryan McHenry, and the cause of death, bone cancer. McHenry died on May 3rd, and "On May 4th, Ryan Gosling launched his first personal Vine, which consisted of himself eating cereal." There aren't many things that are simultaneously so funny, sad, sweet, and internet.

"Who could have guessed in the mid-1980s, at a pair of otherwise forgettable McDonald’s restaurants some 20 miles apart, that two bushy-haired teenagers working the burger grills would become Wisconsin’s most powerful Republicans?"

The first sentence of a NYT article titled "Wisconsin, Politics and Faith Bind Scott Walker and Paul Ryan."

Last 2 paragraphs:
Rita Butke, who was Mr. Walker’s shift manager at the McDonald’s here in the 1980s, said she has enthusiastically supported both Mr. Walker and Mr. Ryan because of the values she associates with their low-wage, burger-flipping days.

“There’s a sense of responsibility and humility that you get from a job where you earned only $4.25 an hour,” said Ms. Butke, who is now manager at the Delavan store. “They both learned for themselves how much a dollar meant.”

"The Destruction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court," by Lincoln Caplan.

In The New Yorker. I thought you should know.
When addressing a case like the John Doe inquiry, with the election of a controversial governor and now an undeclared Presidential candidate at its core, the Wisconsin Supreme Court should be seen as above the fray, beyond price, and wholly independent. Instead, contrary to the ideal that John Roberts described in [Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar], all of the Wisconsin justices look a lot like politicians, in particular the conservatives, who came to the bench with the support of powerful and aggressive political groups. Those justices’ integrity is compromised, as plainly as if they had personally solicited every dollar that helped elect them — and that helped drag the standing of their court so low.
All judges look like politicians, especially the conservatives. And all New Yorker writers who write about judges look like politicians, especially when they write about conservatives.

ADDED: Amusingly, The New Yorker points me to a March 5, 2012 article titled: "The Storm/Did a governor’s anti-union crusade backfire?" The answer, it turned out, was: no.

"Democrats will announce Tuesday six presidential primary debates, giving long shots a potential opportunity to share the debate stage with frontrunner Hillary Clinton..."

CNN reports.

I'd have said: ... six presidential primary debates, giving Hillary Clinton shockingly long stretches of time to bore the pants off us.

I mean, I'd say that today, even though I'd like to place a bet that she's going to withdraw from the race before the primaries begin. If you'd give me good enough odds....

Hazing Justice Kagan.

In The American Prospect's long article about Justice Kagan, here's how she describes the role of the "Junior Justice" (i.e., the Supreme Court Justice with the least seniority) in the conferences (where only the Justices are present):
"So somebody has to do two things. The first is that somebody has to take notes, so you can then go out and tell people what just happened, and I take notes. That’s the Junior Justice’s job. The other thing is that you have to answer the door when there’s a knock on the door. Literally, if there is a knock on the door and I don’t hear it, there will not be a single other person who will move. They just all stare at me until I figure out, ‘Oh, I guess somebody knocked on the door.’ These two jobs, the note-taking and the door-opening—you can see how they can get in the way of each other, right? You might say, what do people knock on the door for? Why does anybody knock on the door? Knock, knock—I’m not going to name names—‘Justice X forgot his glasses.’ Knock, knock, ‘Justice Y forgot her coffee.’ There I am, hopping up and down. I think that’s a form of hazing, don’t you?"
IN THE COMMENTS: First, some people aren't picking up the good humor in Kagan's storytelling. But more importantly, Michael Arndorfer says: "You blogged this in November. Only also tagging it as bullying." What? This is a new article. Is the new article passing along an old quote of Kagan's? I found the post from last November: "Hazing and hunting on the Supreme Court." It has a very similar, but not exactly similar quote (from People Magazine):
"I take notes as the Junior Justice … and answer the door when there's a knock. Literally, if there's a knock on the door and I don't hear it, there will not be a single other person who will move. They'll all just stare at me. You might ask, Who comes to the door? Well, it's knock, knock, 'Justice X forgot his glasses.' And knock, knock, 'Justice Y forgot her coffee.' There I am hopping up and down. That's a form of hazing, right?"
2 questions: 1. Did The American Prospect lift the quote from People (and change it) or does Kagan keep retelling the story? Answer: The latter, probably. It's a better explanation of all the little differences. 2. Should I be ashamed of myself for not noticing I'd already blogged this or proud of the consistency of my taste in bloggability and method of blogging? Answer: Both!

ADDED: My answer to Question 1 failed to account for the quirks of transcriptions from recorded speech to text. This is a topic about which Janet Malcolm wrote in the important book "The Journalist and the Murderer" (the best book about journalism that I've ever read):

Masculinity is hard.

I was just noticing a few days ago that Elspeth Reeve seems to have the Hillary + gender gig at the New Republic. She's the one who wrote the much-linked "Why Do So Many People Hate the Sound of Hillary Clinton's Voice?"

Her new one is "No Campaigns for Manly Men." Supposedly, without the broad, loud-mouthed, bullying Chris Christie in the presidential race, we have no "manly men." You might want to challenge that characterization of Christie, but that's the way Reeve presents him as she sets up her argument that the real men are gone.
Who’s the manly man’s man of the right? It’s not a politician like Ted Cruz, who exudes “televangelist” more than “cowboy.” It’s not a pundit like Glenn Beck, who cries over the Constitution and sells premium dad jeans. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal—they’re all kind of cute, and certainly non-threatening. Jeb Bush is selling himself as the Smart Bush.
"Manly man’s man"? What is this category we're supposed to believe in and care about? Is a "manly man’s man" something beyond a mere "manly man" or a "man’s man"? What the hell are we talking about? Reeve doesn't proceed to analyze what manliness means to people as they search for a political leader. She just consults the linguist Geoff Nunburg:
“It’s hard to think of manly men,” Nunberg mused. 
Is musing manly? Nunberg's got nunthing.
Guys like Jim Webb of Virginia. 
I guess that's Reeve's prompt to the musing Nunberg. Subtext: Democrats have a manly man.
“Christie was going to be that but Christie’s a joke.” Or at least, people are starting to see him as one, Nunberg said. He could only think of the manly man’s cousin: the asshole. Nunberg explained: "Assholes do very well on the right in particular. I wrote a book about assholes..."
Nunberg opines that Ted Cruz is "clearly an asshole," which makes Nunberg sound like an asshole. I mean, the guy wrote a book about assholes. Asked to talk about manliness, his instincts were to shift to a topic he understood (assholes), to push his own book, and to take an easy swipe at a convenient other ("the right").

Masculinity is hard.

"Just Google it: knowingly inappropriate Clinton."

Says Meade, after I say "Send me that link," as I often do, when he's talking about something he's read on line and sets off my blogging instinct. In this case, he's already closed that tab, and he'd have to Google it and then IM the link, a 2-step process, and if I just Google "knowingly inappropriate Clinton," he's says, "it'll come right up."*

He's right. Here: "There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy."

Oh, he never did anything knowingly inappropriate. Knowingly. That's the key word. Whatever he did, he's telling us, if anything's wrong, he's got a plan to say he didn't know it was wrong.

And so it is time once again to roll out the famous "Was that wrong?" scene from "Seinfeld":

Why it was only just about exactly one year ago that I went looking for that because it was the perfect paraphrase of something some prominent American political figure was saying. (In the scene, George had sex on his desk with the office cleaning woman and, confronted by his boss, says: "Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frouned upon, you know, cause I've worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time."

That old post ends without revealing which American political figure got me thinking about the old "Was that wrong?" defense, but I did say the context provided a humorously useful clue. So it must have been Bill Clinton, right?

* I read this paragraph out loud to Meade, to get his okay to use those quotes. He suggests an additional sentence: "And he's already onto the next thing, which is 'Arlene, I'm sorry for what I've done....'" I play that and say, "That goes well with Bill Clinton. Hillary, I'm sorry for what I've done..." And Meade says "He's a sexual predator." The guy in the song is a flat-out murderer.

May 4, 2015

At the Algae Café...


... watch where you swim.


Lake Mendota, today.

ADDED: Commenters assure me this is pollen. Good!

The argument — in Norway — that LSD is a human right.

"EmmaSofia... whose name derives from street slang for MDMA and the Greek word for wisdom, stands in the vanguard of a global movement...."
Eager to sidestep the strictures of Norway’s intrusive “nanny state,” [Pal-Orjan] Johansen and his supporters tap into a more freewheeling side of this button-down Nordic nation and point to a long tradition of nature-worshiping shamans, particularly among Norway’s indigenous Sami people.

Also lending a hand are the Vikings, who, at least according to fans of psychedelic drugs, ate hallucinogenic mushrooms to pep them up before battle. Cato Nystad, a 39-year-old drum maker, EmmaSofia supporter and organizer of traditional ceremonies that involve psychedelic potions, said many Norwegians wanted to get in touch with their wilder, more spiritual sides....
Religious freedom. Know it. Live it. Be it.

Now, we know.

Yesterday, I listed 2 "Things it seems we should know by now." The first was "The name of the princess baby." Of course, as already blogged today, we now know the name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. The second was "The cause of the death of Sheryl Sandberg's husband. David Goldberg 'died suddenly,' last Friday, at the age of 47." As we discussed in the comments, the lack of information makes people guess that it was a suicide, and it would be significant if the husband of the author of "Lean In" killed himself.

But the husband, David Goldberg, did not kill himself. We learn today that he "died of head trauma... after he collapsed at the gym at a private resort in Mexico":
Mr. Goldberg, 47, was on vacation with family and friends at the Four Seasons Resort near Punta Mita, close to Puerto Vallarta in southwest Mexico, according to a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Nayarit State. Mr. Goldberg left his room around 4 p.m. on Friday, collapsed while exercising and died of head trauma and blood loss, said the spokesman. His brother, Robert Goldberg, found him on the floor of the gym at the resort at around 7 p.m., with blood around him. The spokesman said it appears “he fell off the treadmill and cracked his head open.”
This might be interesting to those who are questioning Harry Reid's account of his recent injuries.

Empathy cards.

"I created this collection of empathy cards for serious illness because I believe we need some better, more authentic ways to communicate about sickness and suffering. 'Get well soon' cards don’t make sense when someone might not. Sympathy cards can make people feel like you think they’re already dead. A 'fuck cancer' card is a nice sentiment, but when I had cancer, it never really made me feel better. And I never personally connected with jokes about being bald or getting a free boob job, which is what most 'cancer cards' focus on...."

ADDED: This makes me want to quote, once again, to the late David Rakoff's statement in "Half Empty." Rakoff had cancer and had been told the treatment would require the amputation of his arm and shoulder:

A friend asks if I’ve “picked out” my prosthetic yet, as though I’d have my choice of titanium-plated cyborgiana at my disposal, like some amputee Second Life World of Warcraft character. Another friend, upon hearing my news, utters an unedited, “Oh my God, that’s so depressing!” Over supper, I am asked by another, “So if it goes to the lungs, is it all over?”...

But here’s the point I want to make about the stuff people say. Unless someone looks you in the eye and hisses, “You fucking asshole, I can’t wait until you die of this,” people are really trying their best. Just like being happy and sad, you will find yourself on both sides of the equation many times over your lifetime, either saying or hearing the wrong thing. Let’s all give each other a pass, shall we?

"Star Wars fans angry about Scott Walker's Star Wars tweet."


Did these people not hear the warning I gave you 2 days ago: If you strike him down, he will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

"Hail to the Victors Valiant"... is the fight song to beat...

... in this version by some University of Michigan musical theater students at their graduation party:

Posted by Scott Orr on Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wisconsin? Anybody?

ADDED: I'm looking for musical-theater-type presentations of the Wisconsin song (and other schools' songs), not just the usual marching band things, but something different. Also, I just want to say that my mother grew up in Ann Arbor, and here I am as a little kid visiting my grandparents on South Division Street:

scrapbook 5_0034

I'm the one I would want to be if I didn't already know which one I am. (Photo, from 1956, previously blogged in 2013.)

"If they're all saying the same thing I am, fantastic. The more the merrier, bring em on."

"Let's talk about what our ideals are. The only thing I'm going to be doing is to encouraging people to think for themselves. Listen and think for yourself. Don't listen to pundits and the people who try to control everything."

Said Ben Carson, who just announced that he is running for the GOP nomination.
"The main thing I'm hoping is that a lot of young people will recognize themselves in me, recognize that they themselves are the most influential factor in achieving their goals...."

Oh, no! The British royals named their princess baby after the American royals' princess baby!


PREVIOUSLY: "Well, they're not going to name the baby Charlotte! That's the name that was chosen for America's royal baby."

AND: It's Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Putting Charlotte first is a tribute to William's father, Charles, right?

ALSO: "Charlotte allows transgender people to choose restrooms"... a headline that made me go What?!

"Is this dissent a crime? Is this a reason for killing her?"

45 years ago today:
The bullets National Guardsmen fired into a group of student demonstrators at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, were meant to deescalate a situation spiraling out of control. Instead, they inspired a host of demonstrations on campuses across the U.S., and left four students dead, one permanently paralyzed and another eight wounded....

"One of the two gunmen in a Garland, Texas, attack on a cartoon contest featuring images of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed has been identified as Elton Simpson..."

"... a federal law enforcement source told CNN. The source said Simpson is thought to have sent a tweet before the attack with the hashtag #texasattack. 'May Allah accept us as mujahideen,' the tweet read in part."

Elton Simpson — sounds like the name of a character in a cartoon. I picture him looking like this:

But he looked like this.

"David Crosby and Nash claimed they hadn't played 'Page 43' in years..."

"... deciding to add it to the setlist after an afternoon run through. Given the impressive end result, that must have been one heck of a rehearsal."

Crosby, Stills and Nash played in Milwaukee last night.

A stray quoted from David Crosby: "These songs kept coming. So I quit smoking pot. I know, its shocking. But I think if the muse is going to stop by that often, I want to have the doors open and the lights on. ... I'll get back to it I'm sure."

Anyway... I was never a Crosby, Stills and Nash fan. I held them responsible for wussifying rock and roll. (I liked Neil Young though. And I loved Crosby as a Byrd, and I was fine with Stills in Buffalo Springfield, and had no problem with The Hollies.)

But this song "Page 43." I didn't know it. Listened to (half of) it here. And then I got distracted by the existence of a Snopes article on the song. What's the controversy? Is it a reference to the New Testament?

"There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."

Said Oscar Levant, in what is (by far) the most popular of his quotes at goodreads. I'm noticing Oscar Levant this morning, because the composer Philip Glass, interviewed about books here, is raving about his Levant's "Memoirs of an Amnesiac." ("It’s a hilariously funny book... What was it like to be in Hollywood in the 1930s and ’40s? You have to read Oscar Levant, I tell ya.")

Other Levant quotes at goodreads:
“The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.”

"In some situations I was difficult, in odd moments impossible, in rare moments loathsome, but at my best unapproachably great."

"Every time I look at you I get a fierce desire to be lonesome."

“Ballet is the faeries' baseball.”

Ludicrous headline at The Daily Beast: "Why Do Bi Women Smoke So Much Weed?"

Subhead: "Excluded by both straight and lesbian peer groups, bi women face one of the most challenging psychological spaces."

It's tough to face space. It's challenging to me to face the space of the compose window on this post, because look at the crash up of things we're supposed to believe: 1. People smoke marijuana to deal with their problems (not just for fun or to relax), 2. Being bisexual is a problem, 3. It's okay to talk about sexual orientation as a problem, 4. It's probably the bisexuality causing the marijuana smoking, not the marijuana causing sexual experimentation or a person's liberal-mindedness and pleasure-seeking causing both.

And the "so much" in that "so much weed" is just any marijuana use in the last year. It really should say, at best, "Why Do So Many Bi Women Smoke Weed?"  The statistics are: 38% of bisexual women "reported marijuana use in the last year," compared to 20% for lesbians and 5% for straight women. My hypothesis would be that the women who say they are bisexual are just more likely to try different things, to be more adventurous.

But, no, here's a "research scientist," from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, Dr. Margaret Robinson, "who is herself bisexual": "[B]isexual women are exposed to sexism as well as biphobia and homophobia. It could be something about the anxiety we feel living at the intersection of multiple oppressions that instigates such elevated use of cannabis.”
Anxiety does indeed seem to be a strong undercurrent of bisexual life. The high prevalence of anxiety disorders among bisexual women, in particular, is a well-known psychological truism. Several studies have found that bi women have worse mental health outcomes than straight and lesbian women, including higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. One 2010 study suggests that the poor mental health of bi women could result, in part, from enduring the “psychic toll” of biphobia without having an “identifiable community” to provide support.
Robinson is "skeptical of previous research that suggests that bisexual women’s marijuana use could be ascribed to their 'sensation seeking.'" Why? "We have to look at trends in a broader context and the context for bisexuals is generally one of high stigma and social isolation. People rarely thrive under those conditions." I guess it has to be a problem.

"We put together some good seasons. I enjoyed my time here. It’s a great city, a great ballpark to play in. The fans are great."

"My wife and I really enjoyed it here. That’s something I’m going to miss," said Ron Roenicke, who got fired last night.

ADDED: "Was Craig Counsell born to manage the Brewers some day?"

"I have one very specific reason I have a relationship with Bill Clinton: I admire what he does, and I want to be part of it."

"But I’ve never asked him for a damn thing," said Frank Giustra, who has given the Clinton Foundation over $100 million. He's described — in WaPo's "The Clintons, a luxury jet and their $100 million donor from Canada" — as a "Canadian mining magnate and onetime Hollywood studio owner.
Last week, the Clinton Foundation acknowledged that an affiliated Canadian charity founded in 2007 by Giustra kept its donors secret, despite a 2008 ethics agreement with the Obama administration promising to reveal the New York-based foundation’s donors.

The foundation said the arrangement conformed with Canadian law. But it also opened a way for anonymous donors, including foreign executives with business pending before the Hillary Clinton-led State Department, to direct money to the Clinton Foundation.

For Giustra, the partnership with Bill Clinton provided an introduction to the world of international philanthropy at the highest levels — a feel-good, reputation-enhancing effort that he said he finds more personally satisfying than amassing wealth.

At the same time, Giustra continued to expand his business empire, closing some of the biggest deals of his career in the same countries where he traveled with Clinton.
According to Giustra, you can believe that Bill Clinton didn't get involved in any of those business dealings, because Bill Clinton is utterly bored by that sort of thing: "He doesn’t care about that stuff. His eyes would glaze over." Even if that is to believed, Giustra could still have used the appearance of connection to the ex-President to leverage his business dealings.

As for Giustra's believability, consider that he also says that when Bill Clinton saw that that Giustra was carrying a biography of Julius Caesar, Clinton not only began talking about the book, he began "quoting whole passages of it from memory."

ADDED: By chance, there's a nice, big new essay about Julius Caesar by the great Roger Kimball in The New Criterion. Excerpt:
Alexander Hamilton once told Jefferson that Caesar was “the greatest man who ever lived.” Hamilton might have been tweaking his humorless rival. He knew that his own political opponents often compared him to Caesar, and deep down he probably shared their suspicion, not to say their loathing, of the dictator. But everyone acknowledged Caesar’s military genius. He was a master strategist whose tactics are still studied by generals. In Gaul, through the instrumentality of his legions, he killed or enslaved hundreds of thousands, maybe millions. Yet he brought stability and a semblance of the rule of law to those rude provinces. He greatly enriched himself at the expense of those he conquered. Yet he also greatly reformed provincial governance, sharply limiting the extent of “gifts” a Roman governor could (legally) help himself to.

May 3, 2015

Funchu Tamang, 101 years old, pulled alive from the wreckage of his collapsed house...

... 7 days after the earthquake in Nepal.

Things it seems we should know by now.

1. The name of the princess baby.

2. The cause of the death of Sheryl Sandberg's husband. David Goldberg "died suddenly," last Friday, at the age of 47.

"Wow, I hate everything about this."

A much-favorited comment in a Metafilter thread titled "WHAT KIND OF HAT IS IT? I call it a fedora" about a NYT piece called "The Men of Condé Nast Photographed in Their Natural Habitat."

Strange but true fact: I happened to be wearing a fedora when I ran across that.

Purely for a practical reason, by the way. Stops the light from the window from interfering with my computer-screen vision.

You wouldn't treat an adopted child like that.

"Will you brats keep quiet? How do you expect me to concentrate?"

No mice were harmed in the making of this film, which I became aware of and interested in via "Laurel and Hardy: 40 memorable moments." I love the illusion of the adult men in a room with the miniature versions of themselves.

"Everywhere the same voice, its odd Eastern accent, which in anyone else would have irritated Midwesterners."

"You could follow without missing a single word as you strolled by. You felt joined to these unknown drivers, men and women smoking their cigarettes in silence, not so much considering the president’s words as affirming the rightness of his tone and taking assurance from it."

Wrote Saul Bellow in "In the Days of Mr. Roosevelt," quoted in a Martin Amis essay about Bellow's nonfiction, collected in a new book titled "There Is Simply Too Much to Think About," which I just added to my Kindle. I can give you some more context:

Emily Bazelon is critical of Jon Krakauer's book about campus rape.

A review in the NYT of "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town":
The university had used the standard of “preponderance of the evidence” (or more likely than not) to find Johnson culpable, but the standard for a criminal conviction is higher — beyond a reasonable doubt.... Krakauer presents [the acquittal] not as a reflection of the differing evidentiary standard, and a jury’s best effort to resolve a difficult and confusing set of facts, but as a bitter failure of the adversarial process....

"It was as if people secretly wished we could stow our child in cargo so that we would not disrupt their game of Candy Crush.'"

Writes the novelist Reif Larsen in a NYT op-ed about traveling with a little baby. That prompts what is most-favorited comment over there:
No, it is because everyone on that plane knows your child will be screaming for the next seven hours, because you decided that you must continue your pre-child life, at any expense to others. Small children like to be around familiar surroundings and get nothing whatsoever from their parents endless traveling.

Parents used to understand that having children came with sacrifices and did not entitle you to ruin the days of every person you came in contact with, whether in a confined space or at a pub or restaurant.

Just stop thinking you and your child are the center of the universe.

FYI: I say this as a mother of two.
The title of the op-ed is deceptive: "How Doing Nothing Became the Ultimate Family Vacation." Doing nothing would be staying at home and not working. Hang around. Take some walks. Read. Cook some food.

There is a bit about liking one trip to an all-inclusive hotel in Florida when the baby was 3 months old.
A part of me felt bad that he was coming into consciousness poolside, surrounded by overweight and sunburned Americans lightly drooling to Jimmy Buffett tunes, but hey — the world ain’t all pretty, kid.
I guess that's funny writing, but all I could think was: You can't expose a little baby to sun. What the hell were you doing?
I found myself desperate to feel like an adult again, even if only for an hour. Strange that adulthood equated to collecting about three towels too many from the towel boy, then elbowing my way to a prime spot on the deck so that I could slurp an overpriced piña colada and roast my pasty flesh while staring at the same page of a book for 20 minutes. And you know what? It was awesome.
You're drinking, avoiding the baby, avoiding your spouse, and getting sunburned. And this is presented as something that was done because of the baby, his usual preference being for the sort of vacation that enables you to claim to be "travelers and not tourists."

Yes, he rolls out that old trip tripe the first sentence. (For my extended discussion of the traveler/tourism cliché, see "What do you think the difference is between a tourist and a traveler?")

"I would like to talk about ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Swan Lake,’ about my battements and my handsome partners..."

"But whichever way I look at my childhood, it all revolves around politics and Stalin’s terror," wrote the great ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, who has died at the age of 89.
Her father was shot to death in 1938 in Stalin’s purges. (Ms. Plisetskaya learned the date of his death only in 1989.) Her mother was arrested and sent to a labor camp with her infant son, then exiled to Kazakhstan....

Ms. Plisetskaya was... restricted by the Bolshoi’s rigid Soviet guidelines on choreography, which viewed the very movement of dance through the prism of ideology, yet she was able to infuse stultified, literal movements with much deeper meaning....

“I danced all of classical ballet and dreamed of something new,” she said. “In my time, it was impossible.”
I'd like to hear more specifically how ballet movements could be thought to contain political ideology. I once met a woman in Madison who had learned a difficult craft that produced a type of ordinary object — a lovely version of something quite utilitarian. She expressed anguish in not yet having found a way to make these objects political. I said I thought that loading politics into art tended to make bad art. I dreamed of interesting conversations in Madison. Many years later, I started this blog.

ADDED: I don't like tag proliferation, so I'm using my "merging politics and showbiz" for this. It seems wrong to call ballet "showbiz," but think about it. Why is it wrong? It isn't!

Ah, but I remember I also have an "art and politics" tag. I remember that tag as I think of the conversation with the Madison artisan. Why did those crafted objects prompt me to think "art" when ballet did not? Because I thought of art school.