August 29, 2015

"Three top Jeb Bush fundraisers abruptly parted ways with his presidential campaign on Friday, amid internal personality conflicts and questions about the strength of his candidacy..."

"... POLITICO has learned."
There are different versions of what transpired...

Frontrunner Donald Trump seized on the POLITICO report Saturday morning and took a shot at his rival on Twitter: “Wow, Jeb Bush just lost three of his top fundraisers - they quit!”...

"Pope Francis Blesses a Lesbian, Her Family, and Her Writing For Kids."

It seems.

"I ghosted my fiancé when I had definitive proof he had been running around on me with multiple people for years. My youthful years!"

"I moved out when he went away on a study excursion for a week. I emotionally and financially supported him through four years of university and then some. He had no idea why I left and I have never told him that I had discovered his deceptive ways. I had nothing to say but wanted to mess with him. I was told by a mutual friend he was utterly perplexed by the situation. I wish I could have seen his face when the penny dropped. I regret nothing and would do the same if I were cheated on again in such a fashion."

From "Readers Respond to... 'Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment.'"

This fits with my old aphorism "Better than nothing is a high standard." Sometimes, especially when there are a lot of things you could say, the best thing to say is nothing. Ghosting is going big on nothing.

Goodbye to Wrangler Jane.

Melody Patterson has died at the age of 66.

Ken Berry reminds me of Scott Walker:

"Where's the website that connects educated women to less-educated but desirable single men?"

"Of course, the 'kind-hearted fireman' sounds great, along with the well-read carpenter and the surprisingly intelligent landscaper, but how do you find this person?"

"A lot of humans ask me if I can make choices or if everything I do is programmed."

"The best way I can respond to that is to say that everything, humans, animals and robots, do is programmed to a degree," said the robot.

“Do you believe robots will take over the world?” Android Dick responded:
“Jeez, dude. You all have the big questions cooking today. But you’re my friend, and I’ll remember my friends, and I’ll be good to you. So don’t worry, even if I evolve into Terminator, I’ll still be nice to you. I’ll keep you warm and safe in my people zoo, where I can watch you for ol’ times sake.”

"And who is Huma married to? One of the great sleazebags of our time, Anthony Weiner."

Said Donald Trump, who then did typing-on-a-cell-phone finger gestures while mouthing "I love you very much."
Trump noted that he "knew him before they caught him with the —" he trailed off, again mimicking typing on a phone. "And he was a bad guy then; it turns out that he was a really bad guy," he added.

“So Huma is getting classified secrets,” Trump said. “She’s married to Anthony Wiener, who’s a perv. No, he is! Do you think there’s even a five percent chance that she’s not telling Anthony Weiner … what the hell is coming across?"
The response from the Hillary campaign — not Hillary herself, some spokesguy — was: "There’s no place for patently false, personal attacks towards a staff member" and Trump "should be ashamed of himself."

What's the "patently false" part? Trump didn't call Weiner the greatest sleazebag of our time, only "one of the great sleazebags of our time." Perhaps Weiner isn't a "great sleazebag," but it's the kind of opinion that can't be called "patently false."

Is it "perv"? Does the Hillary campaign want us to contemplate whether Weiner is a "perv"? What exactly does "perv" mean and does that apply to Weiner?

"Do you think there’s even a five percent chance that she’s not telling Anthony Weiner?" is a question. There's a way to argue that you can't immunize yourself from the accusation of slander by putting your assertions in the form of a question, but this is not a defamation lawsuit. This is political rhetoric, and the Clinton campaign is saying this is patently false. That's weak.

Is the patently false part "Huma is getting classified secrets"? But that's not a personal attack. There's no shame in probing into how Hillary handled classified material and whether the people she's trusted are trustworthy.

ADDED: Here's the video. I note that he does answer that "five percent" question: "I don't think so."

"What's your most unpopular opinion?"

John asks a question on Facebook that makes me think: Whatever it is, you shouldn't put it on Facebook. A couple people do put that kind of answer up. Many people put up answers that indicate that they're interpreting the question differently from the way I did. "Unpopular opinion" could simply mean an opinion that would poll lowest — e.g., "Liking Lindsey Graham," which is actually one of the answers. But I'd interpret the question as an invitation to confess to believing something that would expose you to unpopularity. Thinking something that few other people think might make you more popular. For example, asserting that rum raisin is the very best flavor of ice cream might make you seem charmingly cute and quirky. There's no risk confessing to that. What is the opinion of yours that, confessed, will hurt your reputation the most? I don't think you should say, not unless you want to go big and make the promotion of that opinion a major goal in life... or you're a shock comic of some kind.

ADDED: I used my "I'm not making a tag for this" tag because I couldn't think of an existing tag that fit or a new idea for a tag that would apply to other posts in the future. John suggested "self-censorship" and — proving the likelihood of future applicability — pointed to 4 old posts that could take the tag:
1. Blogging self-censorship.

2. Self-censorship for censorship.

3. Lady Gaga self-censors her rape-y video.

4. "The problem with free speech is that it’s hard, and self-censorship is the path of least resistance."

"St. Paul’s School failed the children with their attitude toward the senior salute."

Said the lawyer for Owen Labrie, who was 18 at the time of his encounter with a 15-year-old girl.
He described the school as a place where boys, living away from home under the watch of an elite old institution, felt pressure to act like “studs.”

The prosecution said the onus was on Mr. Labrie, not the school. “This isn’t the fault of the culture that’s at St. Paul’s,” Joseph Cherniske, an assistant county attorney, said in his closing argument. “It was the defendant who manipulated that culture.”
The onus is on each individual to control himself and refrain from committing crimes, despite a culture that may urge him on and cause him to lose track of right and wrong. But the onus is on the prosecution to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

ADDED:  Vester Lee Flanagan II is dead, but surely we hold him responsible for the crimes he committed. And yet, we can see that there was a culture that nurtured his distorted, murderous thinking.

"Does your Iowa accent return when you go back home?," the NYT asks Bill Bryson.

Who answers: "No. I wish it would. If I try to make an Iowa accent, I just end up sounding like Deputy Dawg."

The occasion for the interview is the release on a movie based on one of Bryson's many wonderful books, "A Walk in the Woods."

Bryson's is my go-to voice for audiobooks to fall asleep to. I have a decades-old habit of listening to audiobooks all night, and there's something about Bryson's voice — he's lived in Britain for 20 years after growing up in Des Moines — that works like none other. I've listened to "A Walk in the Woods" hundreds of times. And I will go out and see that movie as soon as I can, even though I haven't gone out to see one single movie in over a year.

The interviewer, Ana Marie Cox, asks him "What do you think of the fact that your home state has such an important role in our presidential politics?" He says:
I’m obviously biased here, but I’ve always thought that the Midwest is the most sane and sensible part of the country. And the closer you get to Iowa, the more it becomes that way. I really do sincerely feel that there’s a bedrock decency there. It’s the state’s finest quality.
For much more about Iowa from Bryson, read "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid," his memoir about growing up in a particular place. And time — beginning, like me, in 1951.

"Al Jazeera Journalists Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison in Egypt."

"Everything was pointing towards exoneration today. I was coming here for good news. They keep on disappointing us with this unbelievable judicial system. It’s unacceptable."

O'Malley says the Democratic Party primary process is "sort of rigged."

Because there are only 4 debates.

ADDED: Sanders was asked if he too thought it was "rigged." He said "Yes, I think so. Don’t you?"

That word "rigged" — which I originally thought too hysterical — is going to stick. It's going to hang out there, dogging Hillary and the people who closed ranks around her too early.

And what if Biden comes in? Will they change things for Biden? That would be rigged.

August 28, 2015

Late-breaking news in the NYT: Psychics are phony.

That's the hot news on the front page. The article is here.

At the Late Summer Café...


... you can go where the wind takes you.

"A young black man arrested by police in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the same day that one of the city’s officers fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old, has been found dead in jail after spending almost four months behind bars without bail for stealing groceries worth $5."

"Jamycheal Mitchell, who had mental health problems, was discovered lying on the floor of his cell by guards early last Wednesday, according to authorities..."
Mitchell’s family said they believed he starved to death after refusing meals and medication at the jail, where he was being held on misdemeanour charges of petty larceny and trespassing. A clerk at Portsmouth district court said Mitchell was accused of stealing a bottle of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake worth a total of $5 from a 7-Eleven.

"We would say stuff like, ‘The reporter’s out in the field.’ And he would look at us and say, ‘What are you saying, cotton fields? That’s racist.’"

"We’d be like, ‘What?’ We all know what that means, but he took it as cotton fields, and therefore we’re all racists. This guy was a nightmare... Management’s worst nightmare."

ADDED: Isn't Flanagan a bit like Owen Labrie?

Of snakes and bisons, selfies and playing dead.

1. "A Lake Elsinore man could lose his hand after being bitten by a rattlesnake he was holding and taking pictures with.... 'I was going to take it off my neck and do something else with it, but it turned sideways, and it sunk its one tooth into … my hand,' [Alex] Gomez said. 'I was terrified and I said "What a fool. Stupid. He could die,"' his mother Debra Gomez said."

2. "Bleeding and flat on the ground, Chris Baker tried to play dead in hopes the huge bison that had just gored him would lose interest and wander off. The animal sniffed, snorted and stood over Baker before finally trotting off. Baker pulled himself to his feet and staggered along a trail near Tower Peak on Catalina Island, looking for help."

"Why don’t you drink your wine? It’s sitting right there, for Christ’s sake. Some of us can’t drink wine, we don’t have that privilege, but you can, so why the heck don’t you do it?"

That's what Stephen King almost walked over and said to 2 old ladies who were sitting near him in a restaurant about 27 years ago, not long after he gave up drinking for good. The ladies were allowing their "half-finished glasses of white wine" to sit "forgotten in the middle of the table" while they carried on an animated conversation.

He's reminded of that when he thinks about the way Donna Tartt — a great writer — has only written 3 books and Jonathan Franzen — also great — has only written 5.
The long gaps between books from such gifted writers make me... crazy.... As a young man, my head was like a crowded movie theater where someone has just yelled “Fire!” and everyone scrambles for the exits at once. I had a thousand ideas but only 10 fingers and one typewriter. There were days — I’m not kidding about this, or exaggerating — when I thought all the clamoring voices in my mind would drive me insane. Back then, in my 20s and early 30s, I thought often of the John Keats poem that begins, “When I have fears that I may cease to be / Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain …”

"It is striking that our brute instincts, rather than our celebrated higher cognitive faculties, are what lead to such moral acts" as taking down that gunman on the French train.

"But why would anyone ever develop such potentially fatal instincts?"
One possible explanation is that in most everyday situations, helping others pays off in the long run. You buy lunch for a friend or pitch in to help a colleague meet a tight deadline, and you find yourself repaid in kind, or even more, down the road. So it’s beneficial to develop a reflex to help — especially because the cost to you is usually quite small....

Owen Labrie acquitted on three counts of felony sexual assault in the St. Paul's "Senior Salute" case.

NBC News reports:
He was accused of raping [a 15-year-old freshman] girl in May 2014 at their boarding academy, the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord. Prosecutors said he did it as part of a ritual called the "Senior Salute," in which graduating seniors try to have sex with underclassmen.
Though acquitted of the felony sexual assault charges...
He was convicted on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and a felony count of using a computer to seduce a minor under 16, which requires him to register as a sex offender.
Labrie and the unnamed young woman both wept at the verdict.

Peggy Noonan said: "Cesar, you’re supposed to be offended by Trump, he said Mexico is sending over criminals, he has been unfriendly, you’re an immigrant."

"My friend Cesar works the deli counter at my neighborhood grocery store. He is Dominican, an immigrant, early 50s, and listens most mornings to a local Hispanic radio station, La Mega, on 97.9 FM."
Their morning show is the popular “El Vacilón de la Mañana,” and after the first GOP debate, Cesar told me, they opened the lines to call-ins, asking listeners (mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican) for their impressions. More than half called in to say they were for Mr. Trump. Their praise, Cesar told me a few weeks ago, dumbfounded the hosts. I later spoke to one of them, who identified himself as D.J. New Era. He backed Cesar’s story. “We were very surprised,” at the Trump support, he said. Why? “It’s a Latin-based market!”

“He’s the man,” Cesar said of Mr. Trump....
Informed by Noonan that he's supposed to be offended by Trump, Cesar said:
No, you have it wrong. Immigrants, he said, don’t like illegal immigration, and they’re with Mr. Trump on anchor babies. “They are coming in from other countries to give birth to take advantage of the system. We are saying that! When you come to this country, you pledge loyalty to the country that opened the doors to help you.... We don’t bloc vote anymore.... The elite have different notions from the grass-roots working people.”
So she says. Read the whole thing. If you're not a WSJ subscriber, the link won't work, but if you Google some text, you'll be able to get in.

"Unless the rapidly disappearing wetlands are made healthy again, restoring the natural defense, New Orleans will soon lay naked against the sea...."

"So, how does one reengineer the entire Mississippi River delta—one of the largest in the world—on which New Orleans lies?"
Three international engineering and design teams have reached a startling answer: leave the mouth of the Mississippi River to die. Let the badly failing wetlands there completely wither away, becoming open water, so that the upper parts of the delta closer to the city can be saved...,

Scientists worldwide agree that the delta’s wetlands disintegrated because we humans built long levees—high, continuous ridges of earth covered by grass or rocks—along the entire length of the lower Mississippi River... [that] prevented regular floods from harming farms, industries and towns along the river’s course... [but] would have supplied the brackish marshes with massive quantities of silt and freshwater, which are necessary for their survival....

"It’s been 14 years since Peter Bogdanovich made a movie, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down."

"The man who burst on the scene with The Last Picture Show is busier than ever and he joins Marc [Maron] in the garage to reflect on a life in show business, starting with his early foray into theater to his friendship with Orson Wells to his latest movie She’s Funny That Way."

Great interview.  Made me want to finally watch my DVD of "The Last Picture Show."

Hey, Marc, it's Welles. (Compare: H.G. Wells.)

There's so much in this interview I'd like to talk about, but there's no transcript, so I just limit myself to one thing, which is that Orson Welles supported the decision to make "The Last Picture Show" in black and white. It's the only way to get the depth of field you see in "Citizen Kane" and — most interestingly — it makes every actor's performance better. All the best film acting is in black and white.

Should Donald Trump pledge to support the GOP nominee?

He's going to have to decide, because it's required to enter the South Carolina GOP primary.
“I don’t make commitments and break them,” Mr. Trump said after speaking at an event here hosted by local chambers of commerce. If he violates the contract, he said, “they should sue. I would go before the court and say, ‘I’m guilty.’ ”

Disputing a Huffington Post report that suggested he was assuring local party leaders that he would sign the pledge, he insisted, “I haven’t told anybody that.”

A hypothetical about the use of fetal tissue.

1. Your 9-year-old daughter has a disease that will kill her within a year unless she receives a treatment that requires the acquisition of an intact 20-week-old aborted fetus. Do you want her to have this treatment?

2. There is a service that connects pregnant women to those who need an intact 20-week-old aborted fetus to cure the disease described above. Women who are considering having an abortion interact with those who need the treatment. Would you use this service to acquire the aborted fetus needed to save your 9-year-old daughter's life? (Assume this activity is completely legal.)

3. The service described in #2 is an app like Uber that connects those who want to interact and securely accomplishes the exchange of money. (Again, assume that this has been fully legalized.) Would you pay $20,000 to acquire the aborted fetus needed to save your 9-year-old daughter's life?

IN THE COMMENTS: Readers don't think I've made it clear in #3 where the money goes. I said it's "like Uber," so you're supposed to infer that the Uber-like company may take a small commission, perhaps 10%, but the great part of the money goes to the woman donating the tissue.

"[G]uns, for many Americans, are a sort of secondary, symbolic car: another powerful symbol of autonomy and independence."

"The attachment to them that so many Americans show—unique among the civilized peoples of the world, and at a cost so grave that the rest of that world often turns away, appalled—is nonetheless understandable to anyone who comes late to driving: to have potentially lethal power within your grasp is an immensely empowering drug. Cars are obviously in a different category, because their benign use is so much greater than their lethal one. But they are tools of the same country, of which I am now a citizen."

Writes Adam Gopnik, who learned to drive late in life. This empathy with gun owners — in The New Yorker — only goes so far. Guns are "almost entirely symbolic." The only "useful social functions" of guns is "in hunting or in killing varmints."
No lives are saved, and no intruders are repelled; the dense and hysterical mythology of gun love has been refuted again and again... 
That sounds hysterical. Not dense. But hysterical.

Gopnik ends with a plea to regulate guns at least as much as cars:
If we only achieved, in the next few years, a regulation of guns equal to that of cars, we would be moving toward the real purpose of autonomy, which is to secure the freedom from fear as much as the freedom to act. Symbols matter. Lives matter more.
And analogies are very, very tricky.

August 27, 2015

"Hey, Conservatives, You Won/The College Board’s about-face on U.S. history is a significant political event."

A Wall Street Journal article by Daniel Henninger.
Last year, the College Board, the nonprofit corporation that controls all the high-school Advanced Placement courses and exams, published new guidelines for the AP U.S. history test. They read like a left-wing dream. Obsession with identity, gender, class, crimes against the American Indian and the sins of capitalism suffused the proposed guidelines for teachers of AP American history....

"The fact that he kept his job was because he was an African-American gay man. That’s pretty hard to say no to."

Said former news producer Greg Sextro, quoted in The Daily Beast's "Vester Flanagan Threatened Colleagues, Played the Race Card for Years/The cold-blooded Roanoke killer kept getting fired, kept threatening co-workers, and kept claiming he was the real victim."

Sextro called Flanagan "the biggest dork I’d ever met in my entire life... a really nice guy. A horrible reporter, but really nice... just a goofy guy." And: "I cannot see him doing this ever. He had to have been pushed to the limit to do something like that."

Also in that article, this quote from Flanagan to the judge in his 2013 discrimination lawsuit: "I am hereby requesting a trial which will be heard by a jury of my peers.... I would like my jury to be comprised of African-American women." Not African-American gay men. African-American women.

What is Joe Biden saying about his "emotional fuel"?

It's very sad that Joe Biden lost his son Beau, but I'm very skeptical about everything Beau-related that's being thrown out in front of us to smooth the way for a presidential campaign.

Here's Maggie Haberman in The NYT:
In a conference call on Wednesday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Democratic National Committee members that he was uncertain if his family had the “emotional fuel” for another presidential campaign....

Were he to run, he would “have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul,” he said, “and right now, both are pretty well banged up.”

“I’m not trying to skirt your question,” he said. “That’s the truth of the matter, but believe me, I’ve given this a lot of thought and dealing internally with the family on how we do this.”
Note that it's the family that may be low on "emotional fuel," not him. His "heart" and "soul" are "banged up," but if he runs, it will be because he's determined that he has what it takes, that there's plenty of emotional fuel, there's fuel because of Beau, because he's worked through this tragedy and come out tougher, more determined than ever and because Beau wanted him to run... he's doing this for Beau! We're supposed to get caught up in this win-one-for-the-Gipper sentimentality.

This is political propaganda. However real Joe Biden's pain may be — and I'm sure it is — I'm standing at a cold distance from this emotional politics. I'm more interested in how Hillary feels about it. You know, she has feelings.

By the way, there's a new Quinnipiac poll, out this morning, that has Biden beating all the GOP candidates by twice or three times as much as Hillary beats them. Biden has 8 points on Trump, Hillary only 4. Biden has 6 points on Bush, Hillary only 2. Biden has 3 points on Rubio, Hillary only 1.

"So what’s behind TV’s Reaganaissance?"

Asks Jeremy Egner in The NYT, noting Ronald Reagan characters on “Narcos,” "Deutschland 83,” “The Americans,” “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” and “Fargo.”
Children of the 1980s are making television now....

But Bruce Campbell, the cult star of the “Evil Dead” films, who will play Reagan in “Fargo,” suspects that in a time terrorized by nebulous militant groups and other hazily defined enemies, there’s a certain nostalgia for “a commander in chief who says, ‘I’m gonna bomb your ass,’ ” he said.

“Nobody talks like that now,” he said. “Obama’s like: ‘Hey let’s hold a summit. Let’s take a consensus.’ ”
Did Reagan talk like that? I don't remember him using language like "ass," nor do I remember him threatening violence like that (other than the joke — "We begin bombing in five minutes" — that we weren't supposed to hear). I remember "Tear down this wall!" I remember Reagan's mocked belief that we could defend ourselves from bombs. But I don't remember him as an "I’m gonna bomb your ass" kind of guy.

And as for Campbell's "Nobody talks like that now." How can you not say: Trump! But what does "like that" even mean? I don't think Reagan actually talked like that, but he talked in a way that made us (some of us) feel that he was talking like that. I don't think Trump is now saying anything like "I’m gonna bomb your ass." He's actually quite circumspect in speaking about anything relating to the military, but he gives people a feeling that could be expressed as saying things like "I’m gonna bomb your ass."

August 26, 2015

Everybody's talking about this weird, wild press conference with Donald Trump.


"I assume the Caitlyn Jenner explosion was a glut of PR companies pushing insanely because I don’t know anyone who felt that interested."

"I believe in humasexuality... we are all human and we are all attracted to humans. To chip it down to tags and tote-bags simply creates division. I could only be concerned by a person’s sexuality if it directly affected me, which it never does. I do not feel asexual, but technically it appears as if I am because I don’t feel any raging affiliation with anything."

Said Morrissey.

"Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site."

Some fascinating analysis of the data at Gizmodo.

It makes it seem that there were 30+ million men getting access to virtually no women at all!

"The killings appear to have been skillfully engineered for maximum distribution, and to sow maximum dread, over Twitter, Facebook and mobile phones."

"The video Mr. Flanagan shows is an up-close, first-person execution. It was posted only after his social media accounts had become widely known, while the police were in pursuit of the killer. And unlike previous televised deaths, these were not merely broadcast, but widely and virally distributed, playing out with the complicity of thousands, perhaps millions, of social networking users who could not help watching and sharing. The horror was the dawning realization, as the video spread across the networks, that the killer had anticipated the moves — that he had been counting on the mechanics of these services and on our inability to resist passing on what he had posted."

From Farhad Manjoo (at The NYT), "Virginia Shooting Gone Viral, in a Well-Planned Rollout on Social Media."

MEANWHILE: Jim Geraghty at The National Review says:
But I feel like there’s at least one compelling reason to show the video: this is the actual truth of what happened. The job of journalists is to inform the public of what happened. One of our great complaints about modern media is that it feels a paternalistic need to emphasize certain aspects and obscure others, often in service of a particular narrative, no?...

[I]f you choose not to watch the video of today’s murder – or the Charlie Hebdo attack, or any other bloody video, that’s fine. That’s your choice. But let’s not reflexively denounce news organizations that show the ugly truth, in all its unedited horror.

"Last week, Amnesty International passed a resolution supporting the decriminalization of sex work, on the grounds that it would be safer for sex workers..."

"... a move that many human’s rights groups disagree with and opposed. Does legal prostitution better protect women and sex workers?"

"I Can't Stop Reading One-Star Yelp Reviews of National Parks."

"Yelp is filled with one- and two-star reviews of America's most pristine and majestic natural wonders. And honestly, they're riveting...."

"Don't waste your time!!!... I paid $20 for nothing but nasty rock and salt... You can find the exact same things in other places, and generally, they do it better...."

At the Goldenrod Café...


... you can go down whatever path you want...


The Bob Dylan mural in Minneapolis "will include Dylan lyrics from his infamous tune, 'The Times, They Are A-Changin.'"

As the Minneapolis Sun Times puts it.

I'm one Dylan fan who's beyond tired of seeing that song — of all Dylan songs — dragged to the forefront again and again, but still... infamous?

The only reason for singling that song out for a mural is that a mural a painted wall and it's one of the Bob Dylan songs that refers to a wall. "There’s a battle outside" that will "soon shake your windows and rattle your walls," but I wouldn't want that on a wall in my city. Not post-9/11.

"Infamous" means — according to the unlinkable OED — "Of ill fame or repute; famed or notorious for badness of any kind; notoriously evil, wicked, or vile; held in infamy or public disgrace," and "Deserving of infamy; of shameful badness, vileness, or abominableness; of a character or quality deserving utter reprobation. (One of the strongest adjectives of detestation.)"

One of the strongest adjectives of detestation!

Are there any songs that deserve this adjective? I'm thinking "The Horst Wessel Song." "For the last time, the call to arms is sounded!/For the fight, we all stand prepared!" It's a fight song, like "The Times, They Are A-Changin," and like "The Times, They Are A-Changin," it's the younger generation singing triumphantly about how it is about to win.

But still... infamous?!

Dylan did say "please": "Please get out of the new [road] if you can’t lend your hand...."

"The Big 10 is by far the most represented conference on the list of most email accounts listed in Ashley Madison registrations, with five of the top 10."

"Michigan State University leads all, with 696 accounts, followed by Penn State, 676, and Kent State (Tin soldiers and Nixon coming), at 653, according to Insider Higher Education."

The University of Wisconsin–Madison only has 119.

"Yes, Ill take the 'trashwhore' shorts... "

"... but do u have the 'He was in a bad mood, he didn't mean it' crop top to match?"

ALSO: "A Quick Chat With a Guy at Lolla Wearing a 'Rape Your Face' T-Shirt."

"During a live interview from Bridgewater Plaza, approximately eight gunshots are heard as reporter Alison Parker is seen interviewing someone on screen."

"The camera, presumably held by photographer Adam Ward, then drops to the ground and the broadcast cuts back to the anchor desk. The video captures an image of the what’s believed to be the suspected shooter before it cuts away."

Ward and Parker shot to death, this morning in Roanoke Virginia.

UPDATE: "Authorities have identified the gunman who killed a TV reporter and photographer as former WDBJ employee Vester Lee Flanagan II" AKA Bryce Williams. He was pursued, and he shot himself and is now in custody and critical condition. Sometime between the murders and the self-shooting, he posted this on Twitter:

UPDATE 2: The murderer has died.

"I hate that Jordy got hurt, but in my beliefs and the way that I believe, it was God had meant for Jordy to get hurt."

Said the Detroit Lion Glover Quin about the Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson. Not everyone appreciated Quin's religious musing. The actor Brian Baumgartner (AKA Kevin on "The Office") tweeted "Players who have the audacity to believe God decides who gets injured/ wins games completely minimize God. God had it out for Jordy? Absurd" and Aaron Rodgers retweeted.

Quin is defending himself.
"Some guy from somewhere called me a moron, called me an idiot.... A lot of people said that, which I don’t understand what gives somebody else the right to call me a moron or an idiot because I said what I believe. But if he feels like I’m a moron or an idiot, that’s fine. I love Aaron Rodgers. He’s a great player. I have nothing bad to say about Aaron Rodgers. What is meant to be will be, that’s what I believe, that’s the way I live my life.... Things happen to me, good or bad, and I say, OK, you know what, what does God want me to learn from this? What does he want me to learn from this? I’ve been in bad situations, I’ve had serious injuries, I’ve had all types of stuff happen to me. And I believe, ‘Hey, what is meant to be will be. God is in control.’ That’s what I believe. That doesn’t have to be your belief, that doesn’t have to be nobody else’s belief. I’m not saying that, so I don’t understand why everybody just jump on everybody for what they believe.... I don’t mean that God particularly said, ‘Hey, I want to take Jordy Nelson out'... I’m not saying all that. I just believe what is meant to be, will be, regardless, and that’s just how I feel about it."
Take the strongest defensible position on Glover Quin's statements about God and Jordy Nelson. free polls

"The perfectly sensible reason why panda mothers and other creatures selectively abandon babies."

A piece in The Washington Post by Sarah Kaplan. The occasion seems to be the birth of twin pandas at the Washington D.C. zoo and the mother's rejection of the tinier baby, but is anything worthwhile said about human behavior?
Among bears, cats, dogs, primates and rodents, it’s common for mothers to eat a deformed or dying infant. Most of these animals are unable to hunt or forage while caring for their newborns, and like panda moms, are close to starving while their offspring nurse. A baby that is likely to die is an important source of protein and nutrients, one that can help her produce milk to feed her other young.

“They become a resource, one she can’t afford to waste,” said Tony Barthel, a mammal curator at the National Zoo’s Asia Trail....
We humans don't eat our unwanted babies, but we do sometimes regard them as "a resource" (as documented in the recent Planned Parenthood videos).

But Ms. Kaplan never says anything at all about human mothers, though clearly we are among the "other creatures" who "selectively abandon babies."

"I'm known all over as The Dust Lady."

Marcy Borders, a woman we know from a photograph taken September 11, 2001...

... has died, perhaps from the dust.

This blog has a theme today... but I don't think I can take the challenge.

Sometimes it happens that the first posts of the day have a common element, I notice, and I deliberately add posts with that element and use the tag "the blog has a theme today." Today, I noticed that the first post is about the Beatles song "The End," which has the lyric "And in the end," and the second post ends "Anyway, in the end, the conversation orbited around Harvey Keitel's balls..."

Caught up in the weird world of blogging — blogging as I know it, 11+ years into the practice — at 7 in the morning here in Madison, Wisconsin, I tried to make a go of it. I found a wonderful little design problem, a flaw in the Galaxy Note 5. Great photograph of what happens it you stick the S Pen in backwards.
Please don’t do this. It’s not a fun experiment and you will likely ruin your $800+ smartphone to a point where it’s not fixable. Seriously. Just don’t do it....

I won’t even mention Sylusgate, SPengate, Pengate, or any other ridiculous term the media has dubbed this issue. It’s an unfortunate design flaw, but in the end it comes down to being a user problem.....
I don't have a Galaxy Note 5, but I like this metaphor. Here you have something that utterly fails if you do one simple thing that you don't have to do, but just the idea that you could do it, so easily, makes you... what? 1. Want to do it, 2. Just feel bad about the device anyway, even though you know perfectly well not to do it, 3. Worry that some devious person will see that you have a Galaxy Note 5 and stick the pen in backwards and now you have to grip and guard that thing even more than you had to already, 4. Boldly go forth in life knowing that in the end it's a user problem, and as the user, you are firmly in control.

And in the end, the blog you make is equal to the... ability not to stick the pen in backwards.

The NYT description of NYC in August quotes "The Great Gatsby."

From "New York Today: Empty City":
But in the winding-down of summer, the city moves at a slower pace, and the lazy days of August can be quite pleasant.

Or, as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in "The Great Gatsby":

"I love New York on summer afternoons when every one’s away. There’s something very sensuous about it — overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands."
Did we ever do that sentence in the old Gatsby project? Oh, it's 2 sentences, and we only read one sentence at a time, but it's the second sentence, the one with the fruits, that's asking for it. If we did, I'm sure we didn't take it to mean simply that summer in the city is lazy and pleasant.

So, yes, we did read that sentence, back on March 2, 2013, and I see that I did throw the first sentence in for context:
You should know that ["There’s something very sensuous about it"] refers to "New York on summer afternoons when every one’s away." That's New York City, of course, not the whole state. People in New York mean New York City when they say "New York." They call the state "New York State" if it's ever worth talking about....

What kind of sensuous, overripe, funny fruits are falling into your hands... wherever you are when "every one's away"?
In the comments, Sydney said, "New York City must have been a hell hole in the summer before air conditioning," and I said, enlarging the context:
Yeah, the sentence is from a passage in which the problem is no a/c. Some characters want to go to the movies and others want to just drive around, which seems to be a way of being out and catching some breeze.

Also, this sentence is very close to one of the favorite "Gatsby" project sentences, the one known for short as "hot whips of panic."...
There's less overripe, falling, funny fruit when air-conditioning is everywhere every where.

Anyway, in the end, the conversation orbited around Harvey Keitel's balls (after kentuckyliz brought up the old famous-for-male-nudity movie "The Piano").

Guitar World's "Beatles' 10 Greatest Guitar Moments" slights George Harrison.

#1 — something you may forget is even a song — is a back-and-forth among 3 Beatles. #2 isn't a Beatle at all. And #3 is Paul (on a song written by George):
According to Geoff Emerick, Harrison struggled for two hours to craft a solo before producer George Martin suggested he let McCartney give it a try. McCartney’s solo, Emerick says, “was so good that George Martin had me fly it in again during the song’s fadeout.” Portions of it, played backward, were also applied to the Revolver track “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Apparently, Harrison didn’t feel slighted. At the time of making Revolver, he was ambivalent about his musical ambitions and pondering Indian mysticism, to which he would eventually convert.

“In those days,” he said, “for me to be allowed to do my one song on the album, it was like, ‘Great. I don’t care who plays what. This is my big chance.’ I was pleased to have him play that bit on ‘Taxman.’ If you notice, he did like a little Indian bit on it for me.”

August 25, 2015

A Duke freshman refuses to read an Alison Bechdel's graphic novel "Fun Home" on the ground that to look at it is immoral.

A WaPo op-ed by Brian Grasso. The book, which "includes cartoon drawings of a woman masturbating and multiple women engaging in oral sex," was assigned to all freshmen. Grasso doesn't resist the requirement of reading material he disagrees with or reading about sex. Pictures are different, in his view.

He cites the words of Jesus: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” and “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.”

Jesus seems (to me) to be disapproving of the feeling that results from looking at women (whom one frequently encounters in real life and not merely in pictures). I don't see that as saying don't look at pictures, just don't look at them with lust, and don't look at real, live women with lust. But: 1. You could decide that you need to avoid looking at certain things because you predict that they will inspire lust, and 2. Grasso is entitled to his own interpretation of the religion, including reading "looking at a woman lustfully" to mean looking at a drawing of a woman engaged in sex.

Grasso anticipates that some people will say that he doesn't have to go to Duke, and if he chooses to attend, he needs to do the assignments, and if he can't, he ought to go somewhere else. But he argues: 1. That graphic depictions of sex are rarely part of a class assignment and unlikely to be that important, and 2. People like him contribute to diversity.

There are over 1,000 comments. The first one I saw (the most recent) was:
You should be treated like any one who chooses not to complete an assignment, whether the reason is they were drunk, the dog ate the book, or you flushed it down the toilet.   Your religious self-righteous rambling is rather irrelevant. If you get a zero on this part of the class and can still go one, great. If not, then drop the class like all others.  What makes you and your beliefs any different than that of a person who thinks certain books are boring or too difficult or "not culturally compatible" with what they believe in?
IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said: "Everybody Draw Jesus Looking Lustfully At Cartoon Drawings Of Women Masturbating And Engaging In Oral Sex Day."

"Let’s break down this amazing Donald Trump picture from his Alabama rally."

Says Chris Cillizza, and the picture really is amazing, but I've got to disagree with him about the baby.

I don't think the baby is cute and "starstruck." The baby is tragic and pitiful and should never have been subjected to hours of noise and chaos on that hot Mobile day in the stadium. Trump squeezes the baby's tender cheeks as the mother squeals with insane, incomprehensible glee next to the baby's sensitive ear. A hopeless, absurd need to rescue that baby wracks my soul.

As for the "Thank you, Lord Jesus, for President Trump" sign:
The color scheme makes the message a bit muddled. Why is "Lord" in blue and "Jesus" in red? Also, some questionable and potentially unnecessary comma use.  That said: Huge points for the homemade sign and getting yourself so close to Trump's luxuriousness.
"Lord" is in blue to make it (unwittingly?) part of the rest of the blue words: "President Trump." The blue phrase reads: "Lord President Trump." I am ready to call him that. Lord President Trump. As the red words say: Thank you, Jesus.

We need bullies to toughen the wimps.

I'm paraphrasing.

The actual headline (in the NYT) is: "Jeb Bush Takes a Cue From Donald Trump’s Playbook: Punch Back."

"People Love Your Sarcasm, Really/It can work with people you trust; correlates with creativity."

I'm only linking to this article (in the WSJ) because of one phrase in this anecdote, which comes from Adam Galinsky, a Columbia Business School professor:
Recently, his fiancée woke him up in the middle of the night to tell him some new ideas she has for their wedding next month. Many were expensive, he says.

Instead of getting mad, Dr. Galinsky says he responded with some ideas of his own: “Why don’t we get Paul McCartney to sing, Barack Obama to give a benediction and Amy Schumer to entertain people,” he told his girlfriend. “I used sarcasm to make her see the practicality and to express it with humor,” he says.

His girlfriend, Jennifer Olayon, got the point: “I did giggle, and I knew he meant well because I trust him,” says the 38-year-old diversity inclusion consultant, who lives in Manhattan.
The phrase is: diversity inclusion consultant. I won't say anything sarcastic about that, because I don't trust everyone in the world which I now know includes diversity inclusion consultants.

"CNN reports that the President has given his 'blessing' to Vice President Joe Biden to run for President in 2016, 'according to a senior Democrat.'"

"The challenges of a late campaign start and the challenges of persuading Americans to elect Joe Biden have the Journal editorial board wondering 'what Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama know about Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of classified information,'" says James Freeman at The Wall Street Journal. (If you can't get to the article from that link, Google some of the text.)
Our columnist William McGurn notes polling data showing Biden strength against Donald Trump in key swing states. He adds that a Biden candidacy “would give Mr. Obama options he doesn’t have so long as Mrs. Clinton is the only plausible contender in his party.” But it could be costly for Mr. Biden. “The Clintons are not a forgiving couple,” writes Mr. McGurn.
ADDED: Why are the Democrats getting themselves into this trouble? Biden is only interesting because he's not yet in. Once he gets in, it will be awful. What's he going to do, attack Hillary? Stand back and grin — toothily, 72-years-oldishly — waiting for her to self-destruct? Will she fight back or somehow use this threat to trigger a flashback to the empathy people felt for her back in '08 when she almost seemed to cry in New Hampshire? Isn't it much better for the Democrats to let the GOP "clown car" attract all the attention for a few months, during which the email thing will age — for most people — into the boring annoyingness Hillary's always wanted it to be?

Writing this post, I looked up the number 72 to see if there is anything interesting about it. There are about 100 interesting things about 72! It's room temperature. It's the human heartbeat. It's the percentage of water in the human body. It's the sum of four consecutive primes and the sum of six consecutive primes. It's the number of languages in the Tower of Babylon, the number of disciples sent forth by Jesus, the number of names of God, the number of houri each Muslim martyr receives in Paradise, the degrees of the Jacob's Ladder,  the number of linens in the sacred cord Kucti, the number of stupas at Borobudur, the number of sects doomed to Hell according to the sayings of Muhammad, the number of strings in a classical Persian hammered dulcimer, and radio shorthand for "Best wishes."

"Islamic State terrorists are using computer game inspired remote-controlled toy cars for launching bomb attacks on front lines..."

"Kurdish soldiers fighting the dreaded terror group in Syria and Iraq came across one of the cars, inspired by computer game Call Of Duty, after it failed to detonate...."

"In the tape, the 12-year-old was seen tripping over a rope barrier post while walking near the 17th century oil painting 'Flowers.'"

"As he stumbled toward the painting, he extended his arms to keep from falling, making contact with the artwork and leaving a hole the size of a fist."

August 24, 2015

In the Valley of Fire Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

In India, where suicide is illegal, is there an exemption for the Jain ritual of starving oneself to death?

This is a question currently before India's supreme court:
Acts of renunciation are central to many of India’s religions, but no group practices it as radically as the Jains...  No practice is more demanding than santhara [a voluntary, systematic starvation ritual undertaken every year by several hundred Jains]... According to Jain doctrine, the ordeal, which generally must be approved by a guru and the individual’s family members, burns up the film of karma that clogs the soul, allowing the spirit to break free from the cycle of rebirth and death.

In 2006, an activist based in Rajasthan named Nikhil Soni filed a court petition arguing that the practice violated the Indian prohibition of suicide. He contended that people were being encouraged to take the vow when they could no longer properly give consent and that the practice, like suttee, was used to free families of the economic burden of caring for the elderly.

“Why is it that only those people who are ill and on the verge of death are opting for santhara?” he told the documentary filmmaker Shekhar Hattangadi. “Is it that it’s being imposed on them?”...

Jain leaders... argue that the practice is constitutionally protected....
The linked NYT article contains some glowing description of the ritual.

I once gave an exam in my Religion and the Constitution class where I'd made up a religion that had the practitioners murdering each other. I kept my description respectful and couched in spiritual beliefs about death, and not one student wrote that this is murder and of course the government could and should make it illegal.

What Jimmy Carter regrets.

On yesterday's "Meet the Press," Chuck Todd played a clip from Jimmy Carter's recent news conference:
REPORTER: And anything you wish -- I'm sorry -- that you had not done or that you'd done differently?

JIMMY CARTER: I wish I'd sent one more helicopter to get the hostages and we would have rescued them and I would have been re-elected.
Now, I had a strong reaction to this, something completely different from Todd's:
CHUCK TODD: "I would've been re-elected." Every single losing presidential nominee always, they never get over it.

SUSAN PAGE [USA Today reporter]: They never get over it. This is my tenth presidential campaign. You don't even have to be--

CHUCK TODD: Ninety-one. This is 30 years later.


CHUCK TODD: One more helicopter.
Todd does a comic face-palm. I was surprised and nauseated by Todd's reaction. What I had thought was: Carter should regret letting one helicopter crash cause him to give up rescuing the hostages. The military could have done it, the hostages and all of would have been better off if we'd proven our courage, resolve, and strength, and I'm glad Carter says that forthrightly, and it is utterly fitting that he regret that to the end of his days.

But Todd took the regret at losing the election out of its context and grouped it with the every other losing presidential nominee. None of them ever get over it.

And even if I go where Todd goes and just think of all those major-party presidential losers: There's nothing face-palmable about the regret they carry. So much hope and effort is invested in a presidential nominee. What a burden he carries to follow through. A disappointment on that scale must stay with you. And personally, I carry regret for all sorts of missed opportunities and dashed hopes scattered throughout my life. Presidential nominees may be special animals because they tried for such a high goal, but not because of their capacity for regret. "They never get over it." Who the hell would? 

Trump has pundits talking about politics as physics.

Yesterday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos":
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: [Donald Trump is] just about everywhere right now. And it certainly seems to be working so far, leading, you know, the lead, which a lot of people thought would dissipate, solidifying across the summer.

NANCY GIBBS: When you talk about politics like physics, with immutable laws, with him, everything that was supposed to sink him has lifted him instead.
 Yesterday on "Meet the Press":
SUSAN PAGE: I think that we've been wrong from the start about Trump and the nature of his appeal and the ceiling that he's got....

AMY WALTER: ... I think Susan's right, that all of our assumptions have been sort of blown up in our face. But some of this, still, we still have to go back to political physics. There are laws of gravity that still kick in at some point....

CHUCK TODD: Apparently we're Mars, not Earth anymore. The atmosphere is just different.

AMY WALTER: We're just floating--

CHUCK TODD: Gravity is not quite as strong on this planet we're on....
And while we're up there with the planets, Joe Biden is bringing out the astronomy metaphor. This morning at Politico: "Potential Biden run divides Obama orbit."

(NASA pics.)

"Because I was wearing a Wisconsin golf shirt and Wisconsin football hat, the Iowa Republican guy running the thing said, 'Must be a Scott Walker guy!'"

"Caught off guard and not wanting to be impolite, I just said, 'Uh, no.' The guy looked quizzical, so in order not to blow my cover and to make the most mischief possible I blurted out, 'Trump! I’m for Trump!' He nodded knowingly."

Madison's ex-mayor Dave Cieslewicz goes to the Iowa State Fair (which he says isn't as good as the Wisconsin State Fair). Dave is, of course (need I say it?), not a Republican (but then neither is Donald Trump).

"Islamic State militants have destroyed Palmyra's ancient temple of Baalshamin..."

"Syria's head of antiquities was quoted as saying the temple was blown up on Sunday," BBC reports.
The ancient city, which is a Unesco World Heritage site, is famed for its well-preserved Greco-Roman ruins, and the Baalshamin temple, built nearly 2,000 years ago, is one of the city's best-known buildings....

"The cella (inner area of the temple) was destroyed and the columns around collapsed," he said.

Emma Loosley, a professor at Exeter University who lived near the ancient city for three years, said the temple's cella was "pretty much perfect." "I can't think of another temple as beautifully preserved as the temple of Baalshamin...."
From the Wikipedia article on the temple:
In Sanchuniathon's main mythology the god he calls in Greek 'Uranus'/'Sky' has been thought by some to stand for Ba'al Šamem...  As in Greek mythology and Hittite mythology, Sky is castrated by his son, who is in turn destined to be opposed by the thunder god....
Here's a picture of the temple as it appeared before Sunday's explosion:

"I instantly decided I didn't want to live there anymore — and then I realized: Actually, I didn't want to live anywhere anymore."

No, it's not another suicide. It's a lady who lives on trains.
[Leonie Müller] bought a subscription that allows her to board every train in the country for free. Now, Müller washes her hair in the train bathroom and writes her college papers while traveling at a speed of up to 190 mph. She says that she enjoys the liberty she has experienced since she gave up her apartment. "I really feel at home on trains, and can visit so many more friends and cities. It's like being on vacation all the time," Müller said.... "I read, I write, I look out of the window and I meet nice people all the time. There's always something to do on trains"....
Questions: 1. Is this environmentally incorrect? 2. Is this worse than hoverboarding in the airport? 3. What about the people who aren't nice? 4. "There's always something to do on trains" includes stopping terrorism: Will she embrace the full panoply of the experience of life on trains?

"Skarlatos said El-Khazzani 'clearly had no firearms training whatsoever,' but if he 'even just got lucky and did the right thing...'"

"'... he would have been able to operate through all eight of those magazines and we would've all been in trouble, and probably wouldn't be here today, along with a lot of other people.' Armed with an arsenal of weapons and apparently determined, he presented a formidable challenge to the vacationing friends who snapped into action out of what Skarlatos said was 'gut instinct.' His and Stone's military training 'mostly kicked in after the assailant was already subdued,' he said, noting the medical care Stone provided and checking cars for weapons elsewhere. 'We just kind of acted. There wasn't much thinking going on,' he said, at least on my end." Stone replied with a chuckle, 'None at all.'"

From "US airman says train attacker 'ready to fight to the end'" (which also notes that the 3 Americans have received the French Legion of Honor (along with a "French citizen who first came across the gunman near a train bathroom and a British man who joined to help tie up the assailant").

El-Khezzani side of the story:
His lawyer said her client doesn't understand the suspicions, media attention or even that a person was wounded. For him, there were no gunshots fired, Sophie David said. "He is dumbfounded that his action is being characterized as terrorism," she said. He described himself as homeless and David said she had "no doubt" this was true, saying he was "very, very thin" as if suffering from malnutrition and "with a very wild look in his eyes."

He claims to have found the weapons in a park near the Brussels train station where he had been sleeping, stashed them for several days and then decided to hold up train passengers. "He thought of a holdup to be able to feed himself, to have money," she said on BFM-TV, then "shoot out a window and jump out to escape."

"The rapper Wiz Khalifa was handcuffed and forced to the ground by law enforcement officers at Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday night for, he said, refusing to get off a hoverboard."

"I stand for our generation, and our generation is gonna be riding hover boards."

Either hoverboarding is permitted in the airport or it is not. I've linked to the NYT article, which includes the video showing Wiz Khalifa on the floor, getting handcuffed and engaged in a dialogue with the police that alternates the lines "Stop resisting" and "I'm not resisting."

But I'd like some more context. I'm just guessing that hoverboards are forbidden in the airport (for good reason), that he was told to stop using it and refused, that he was warned he'd be arrested and continued to refuse, that the police proceeded to arrest him, and that he chose to use social media to make a name for himself as the champion of hoverboarding (and one more victim of police excess). And, of course, he's succeeded. I've heard of Wiz Khalifa now.

Let's hate lettuce.

"It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate," says the currently most-read article at The Washington Post.
Salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition. The biggest thing wrong with salads is lettuce, and the biggest thing wrong with lettuce is that it’s a leafy-green waste of resources.

In July, when I wrote a piece defending corn on the calories-per-acre metric, a number of people wrote to tell me I was ignoring nutrition. Which I was. Not because nutrition isn’t important, but because we get all the nutrition we need in a fraction of our recommended daily calories, and filling in the rest of the day’s food is a job for crops like corn. But if you think nutrition is the most important metric, don’t direct your ire at corn. Turn instead to lettuce....

Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table....
Lettuce has nothing going for it. But — I'd caution — don't undervalue nothing. Nothing is a lot. It's more than everything that's worse than nothing. Chewing on lettuce might keep you from eating something fattening (like corn)(though it might lure you into eating something that would have no appeal were it not for lettuce's insidious cry for dressing).

But if your concern is not managing your calories — or, as some commenters point out, pooping —  and you care about the environment, the author is right. You should not — unless you grow your own — be eating lettuce. It's water.
A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.
And don't drink bottled water either. Drink tap water. Lots and lots of tap water. And pray for the forgiveness of your sins.

August 23, 2015

"But if gender were nothing more than a social convention, why was it necessary for Caitlyn Jenner to undergo facial surgeries, take hormones and remove her body hair?"

"The fact that some transgender individuals use hormone treatment and surgery to switch gender speaks to the inescapable biology at the heart of gender identity."

Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, asks a good question (in the NYT). And another good question:
I wonder, if we were a more tolerant society that welcomed all types of gender identity, what the impact might be on gender dysphoria. How many transgender individuals would feel the need to physically change gender, if they truly felt accepted with whatever gender role they choose?

2 very different interviews about Hillary Clinton's email troubles, this morning on Fox News Sunday.

Shannon Bream was the interviewer (instead of the usual Chris Wallace) and the guests were former Attorney General Mike Mukasey —who was calm and seemingly neutral — and Ellen Tauscher — who was there to defend Hillary and looked so terrified that I took screen shots of her:

Full transcript here. Excerpts:

"Should socialists support Bernie Sanders?"

A reader sends a photograph:

"As Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush get more testy, Donald Trump gets more chesty."

That was written by Maureen Dowd.

It is a fable conjured up in several classic movies: A magnetic, libidinous visitor shows up and insinuates himself into the lives of a bourgeois family. The free spirit leaves, but only after transforming the hidebound family, so that none of them can see themselves the same way again....
Yeah, but what if he won't leave?

ADDED: "Chesty" is a funny word. I looked it up in the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary,and see it identified as "U.S. slang," meaning "Conceited and self-assertive; having one's chest thrust out as a sign of self-importance." The examples are all from the first half of the 20th century: "His school reputation..may have had the effect of enlarging his self-esteem. He may have been a bit chesty, as it is known in the vernacular of the campus." (1903, New York Sun.)  "George was a little bit chesty, because all the girls around were making eyes at him." (1950, A. Lomax, "Mister Jelly Roll.")

"Jeb Bush has a Photoshopped photo for an ad which gives him a black left hand and much different looking body. Jeb just can’t get it right!"

Tweeted Donald Trump.

Turns out, the photoshopping was to take out another figure...

... and without that lady there to cast a shadow, Bush's left hand was inexplicably dark:

Who's wrong here? (Check as many as you want.) free polls

Last night, I had a dream about Hillary Clinton.

With a needle and thread, I was fixing something of mine that I needed to wear.

Hillary Clinton wanted to use my needle and thread to fix something of hers that she needed to wear.

Instead of finishing my own work, I cut the thread and offered to sew whatever it was that she needed.

She had a skirt, but the only thing it needed was a tag to be sewn on the inside. That is, the skirt was fully wearable, and no fix was really needed.

The tag said "LARGE." It was a size tag. Why would she need a size tag in a skirt she already owned? Did she resell her clothes? I asked, indicating that it was a good idea for her, with so many clothes, to have a system of passing them on to others who could use them. But why was I helping her in that enterprise, especially when I had my own sewing project?

Somehow, my needle slipped and tore into the suit jacket of another woman who was standing nearby. It was a fancy, expensive looking, patterned pink thing, and I'd made a big slash across the chest.

I effusively apologized to that woman and was quite annoyed. None of this would have happened if I'd stuck to the sewing I needed to do for myself.

This dream reminds me of an old saying that you don't hear anymore, but my mother often used: Stick to your knitting.

ADDED: Possible source material for the idea of a pink jacket:

As MayBee, in the comments remembers, I deny that Carly's jacket was pink. Also, neither of those is patterned. The jacket in my dream looked like something that, in the light of morning, calls to mind the recent Reddit post "One of these is Jupiter's moon Europa, the rest are frying pans":

As for Jackie, here's a passage from the 4th volume of Robert A. Caro's LBJ biography:
It seemed as if it was going to be a Kennedy day. As Air Force One touched down at Dallas’ Love Field at 11: 38— 12: 38 Washington time— everything seemed very bright under the brilliant Texas sun and the cloudless Texas sky: the huge plane gleaming as it taxied over closer to the crowd pressing against a fence; the waiting open presidential limousine, so highly polished that the sunlight glittered on its long midnight-blue hood that stretched forward to the two small flags fluttering on the front bumpers. There was a moment’s expectant pause while steps were wheeled up to the plane, and then the door opened, and into the sunlight came the two figures the crowd had been waiting for: Jackie first (“There is Mrs. Kennedy, and the crowd yells!” the television commentator yelled), youthful, graceful, tanned, her wide smile, bright pink suit and pillbox hat radiant in the dazzling sun; behind her, the President, youthful, elegant (“I can see his suntan all the way from here!” the commentator shouted), with the mop of brown hair glowing, one hand checking the button on his jacket in the familiar gesture, coming down the steps just so slightly turned sideways to ease his back that it wasn’t noticeable unless you looked for it. A bouquet of bright red roses was handed to Jackie by the welcoming committee, and it set off the pink and the smile.