November 28, 2015

"Wisconsin school nixes reading of book about transgender kid."

For some reason that's the most-read article at WaPo right now. As a citizen of Wisconsin, I felt I needed to take note.
The Mount Horeb Area School District released a statement Wednesday saying it will not proceed with its planned reading of the book “I am Jazz”.... Last week, the principal of Mount Horeb Primary Center sent a letter to parents saying the book would be read and discussed because the school has a student who identifies as a girl but was born with male anatomy. “We believe all students deserve respect and support regardless of their gender identity and expression, and the best way to foster that respect and support is through educating students about the issue of being transgender,” the letter said. The Florida-based Liberty Counsel group threatened to sue....

"Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago — if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did."

"He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes."

Said Trump, quoted by James Taranto, who sides with Kovaleski, because: 1. It's believable that Kovaleski really can't remember why he wrote what he wrote about cheering in Jersey City on 9/11, and 2. The video makes it "far likelier" than not that Trump's "gesticulations" were deliberate mockery of Kovaleski's physical disability.

I've already said what I have to say about the Trump/Kovaleski matter, so I'll just move on down Taranto column and quote this:
Hypothesis and Proof...
  • “American Turks Anxious About Dukakis Presidency”—headline, Times-News (Hendersonville, N.C.), Aug. 7 1988
  • “Michael Dukakis Would Very Much Like Your Turkey Carcass”—headline, Boston Globe, Nov. 25, 2015

Walking the Overlode Trail.

In Blue Mound State Park today:



Is it deer season? Yes. Did we hear a gunshot? Yes. One.

Here's how it looks mountain biking that trail.

Race is a "broad and protean" matter, presenting "rich, difficult questions," and "Any insistence otherwise is religious."

John McWhorter writes, in a WSJ piece, "Closed Minds on Campus":
The idea that only the naive or the immoral would question issues connected to something as broad and protean as race and racism is hasty at best and anti-intellectual at worst. What qualifies as discrimination? As cultural appropriation? As aggression? What is an ethnicity? What does racial courtesy consist of, and for what reasons? These are rich, difficult questions with no hard-and-fast answers.

Any insistence otherwise is religious. The term is unavoidable here. When intelligent people openly declare that logic applies only to the extent that it corresponds to doctrine and shoot down serious questions with buzzwords and disdain, we are dealing with a faith. As modern as these protests seem, in their way, they return the American university to its original state as a divinity school—where exegesis of sacred texts was sincerely thought of as intellection, with skepticism treated as heresy.

Did you buy anything on Black Friday?

I didn't. Meade went to Whole Foods and bought some cheese curds and other normal items. I did contemplate buying a ping pong table. How much space at either end do you really need? I'm seeing 5 feet, which means you need a 19 foot room. But we'll also wheel it outdoors, where there's plenty of room, but maybe that will make indoor limitations more aggravating. Any advice? Would we need more room if we called it table tennis? That's a serious question!

Anyway, if you've got some shopping to do, please considering doing it in a way that supports this blog by going into Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

"If you’re going to be a leader, you’re going to have to have a very loose relationship with this thing you call 'I' or 'me.'"

"Maybe that whole thing in me around which the universe revolves isn’t so central!... Maybe life is not about the self but about self-transcendence! You got a problem with that?"

Said Werner Erhard, a character from the 1970s, who's got a big NYT article about his new training sessions, "Creating Class Leaders," which sounds a lot like his old sessions, which were called EST, except that he doesn't curse at the audience and keep them from going to the bathroom.
“I am committed to the opposite of that idea [that 'there are no second acts in American lives'],” Mr. Erhard said a few weeks after the leadership class in Toronto. “I don’t think there’s a person who walked out of that room who isn’t a second act.” To say nothing of their instructor, who, at age 80, may be more of a third or fourth act.
There was a time, boys and girls — the Me Decade, Tom Wolfe called it — when Mom and Dad wore mood rings, attended encounter groups and in general engaged in a tireless amount of navel gazing... Aspiring “ESTies” flocked to hotel ballrooms across the country for combative training sessions during which they forwent meal and bathroom breaks to take responsibility for their lives and “get it” by discovering there was nothing to get. Diana Ross, Joe Namath, Yoko Ono, Jerry Rubin and several hundred thousand other seekers got it...

Sitting in front of a bank of computers in his hotel room, he read excerpts from the 1,000-page textbook he is working on, such as: “As linguistic abstractions, leader and leadership create leader and leadership as realms of possibility in which, when you are being a leader, all possible ways of being are available to you.” Briefly, the course, which owes ideological debts to the Forum and to the German philosopher Martin Heidegger... Students master principles like integrity and authenticity....
I added the internal links. The "no second acts" line comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald. As the NYT puts it: "Pound another nail into the coffin for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s notion that there are no second acts in American lives." But Fitzgerald shouldn't be pegged down as believing that. My link goes to an NPR interview with the vice president of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, Kirk Curnutt:
CURNUTT: [The line] shows up in an essay called "My Lost City," which is a beautiful sort of testament to New York and was actually very popular in the aftermath of 9/11. The line he says here is: I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York's boom days. Clearly he's sort of saying, well, I once believed this but I've been proved wrong. And I think that's what really gets most of us who are Fitzgerald fans is that line is always quoted as saying, well, how naive was Fitzgerald to have said there are no second acts in American lives, when he himself was only a couple of years away from what many people consider the greatest second act in American literary history.... Of all the beautiful lines that I adore that F. Scott Fitzgerald ever wrote, this is the one I really hate. I wince when I hear it, partly because it's used as a way of saying how sort of naive and shortsighted he was. But also, because for those of us who really adore Fitzgerald, the problem with that is we don't like our man to be cynical. Fitzgerald was an optimist. For all that he went through in life and for sort of how low he was at the end of his life, he really did - like Jay Gatsby - believe in the green light. And he was trying to be optimistic to the core.
I added the link to "My Lost City." Now, onto that other link to that other great essay, Tom Wolfe's "The 'Me' Decade and the Third Great Awakening." That article, like EST, broke big into the culture at the point in my life when, pre-law school, I worked analyzing magazines in a marketing research firm. I read and coded scores of magazines every month and engaged in the proto-blogging of blabbing with my co-coders about whatever struck us as interesting, which, of course, included EST and the concept of "The 'Me' Decade."
The old alchemical dream was changing base metals into gold. The new alchemical dream is: changing one’s personality—remaking, remodeling, elevating, and polishing one’s very self . . . and observing, studying, and doting on it. (Me!) This had always been an aristocratic luxury, confined throughout most of history to the life of the courts, since only the very wealthiest classes had the free time and the surplus income to dwell upon this sweetest and vainest of pastimes. It smacked so much of vanity, in fact, that the noble folk involved in it always took care to call it quite something else....

By the mid-1960s this service, this luxury, had become available for one and all, i.e., the middle classes... They were encouraged to bare their own souls and to strip away one another’s defensive facades. Everyone was to face his own emotions squarely for the first time....

"We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack."

"We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust."

Said the president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, quoted in "3 Are Dead in Colorado Springs Shootout at Planned Parenthood Center."

"Some women just do it for a cheese pie, or a sandwich they need to eat because they are hungry."

Dire prostitution in Greece.
When the economic crisis began in Greece, the going rate for sex with a prostitute was 50 euros ($53).... Now, it’s fallen to as low as two euros ($2.12) for a 30-minute session.
Meanwhile, in NYC, women have been successful using dating sites to find men who will take them out to dinner, even when the women are honest that there is no hope of having sex with them and they were are in it for the free food.

"The blind woman who switched personalities and could suddenly see."

The Washington Post recounts the case history of a woman who was "diagnosed her with cortical blindness, caused by damage to the visual processing centers in her brain," got used to living as a blind person, but supposedly had "more than 10 wildly different personalities that competed for control of her body."
Then, four years into psychotherapy... while in one of her adolescent male states, B.T. saw a word on the cover of a magazine. It was the first word she had read visually in 17 years. At first, B.T.’s renewed sight was restricted to recognizing whole words in that one identity. If asked, she couldn’t even see the individual letters that made up the words, just the words themselves. But it gradually expanded, first to higher-order visual processes (like reading), then to lower-level ones (like recognizing patterns) until most of her personalities were able to see most of the time. When B.T. alternated between sighted and sightless personalities, her vision switched as well....
If you're like me, you're thinking didn't we learn a while back that this multiple personality business is fake? The key evidence this article presents is the EEG test: "When B.T. was in her two blind states, her brain showed none of the electrical responses to visual stimuli that sighted people would display — even though B.T.’s eyes were open and she was looking right at them."
Though DID [dissociative identity disorder] has been listed in... the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, since 1994 (and was recognized as “multiple personality disorder” for a decade and a half before that), there is still a large amount of skepticism about the diagnosis among experts and patients alike... The case study shows that DID “is a legitimate psycho-physiologically based syndrome of psychological distress,” Dr. Richard P. Kluft, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Temple University School of Medicine not associated with the study, told Brain Decoder. The condition is not just a product of culture and psychiatrists’ suggestions, he said; as in B.T.’s case, it “represents the mind’s attempt to compartmentalize its pain.”

November 27, 2015

One of the black Harvard lawprofs whose photos were covered with black tape writes a thoughtful op-ed in the NYT.

There's a lot of detail to this, by Randall Kennedy, so read the whole thing. I'll just excerpt his reaction to the tape:
The identity and motives of the person or people behind the taping have not been determined. Perhaps the defacer is part of the law school community. But maybe not. Perhaps the defacer is white. But maybe not. Perhaps the taping is meant to convey anti-black contempt or hatred for the African-American professors. But maybe it was meant to protest the perceived marginalization of black professors, or was a hoax meant to look like a racial insult in order to provoke a crisis, or was a rebuke to those who have recently been taping over the law school’s seal, which memorializes a family of slaveholders from colonial times. Some observers, bristling with certainty, insist that the message conveyed by the taping of the photographs is obvious. To me it is puzzling.

Assuming that it was a racist gesture, there is a need to calibrate carefully its significance....
And one more sentence from the last paragraph: "In the long run, though, reformers harm themselves by nurturing an inflated sense of victimization."

"Our brothers will come and kill those like you, infidels. They'll cut heads with knives. And you know, my heart won't miss a beat."

"I looked at her and I could no longer see my child. She was simply a shell of my daughter, no soul, no thoughts, no heart."

Said the mother of this beautiful girl:

11,950 gallstones.

Found in one woman.

It took 50 minutes to remove them and 4 hours to count them.

Trump outdoes himself with this mocking/not mocking of a disabled reporter.

My take on this story?

Trump — seeming free and wild — somehow hits an absolutely precise line. It's so precise that I want to credit him with knowing exactly what he's doing, even as I am willing to let him off the hook, because that's the line he's hitting — making us think something and preserving deniablity.

He sure got media covering him, here on this holiday weekend when other candidates are lying low. And they're covering him on a story that had almost played out: his assertion that he saw "thousands and thousands" of people cheering in Jersey City on September 11th.

The media is doing his work, keeping that story alive, making repeated references to an article that was in The Washington Post a few days after 9/11 that said "authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river." That article has to be pointed out to set up this new controversy about its author Serge Kovaleski. Kovaleski has a condition, (arthrogryposis) that curls his hand into a distinctively distorted position that Trump may have been imitating as he ridiculed Kovaleski's efforts to get out of taking responsibility for that article he wrote.
“Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!’"  Trump said as he jerked his arms in front of his body.
The media have picked out the single still that most resembles the reporter's deformity. If you watch the video, you get a much milder impression of what Trump may or may not have been doing. The deniability is there. Maybe Trump was only enacting the weaseling and waffling statements of the reporter and not his physical appearance. If you want to say Trump didn't really mock a disabled person, you certainly can. But if you want to say he did, have at him! If you love Trump, you can defend him, and if you hate him, you've just got to talk about it. What a vortex! All that attention, all that energy.

Quite aside from that, there's the very politically incorrect pleasure of imitating the physical disabilities. Trump is taking some Americans back to the good old days when absolutely beloved pop culture characters made people guffaw with abandon by affecting the movements of persons with physical disabilities. There was, of course, Jerry Lewis.* But he was not the only one. Here's that old "Imagine" guy John Lennon:

That was, in the minds of many still living, a perfectly harmless way to have fun. I suspect Trump knows there's a sizable, long-starved audience out there who would love to be free to laugh at that sort of thing again, and they can feel that Trump is reaching out to them and it's a secret but enticing part of the offer to "Make America Great Again."

* From "Enfant Terrible!: Jerry Lewis in American Film":
ADDED: How retrograde is this silent America? Think about it: Just last week, "South Park" had its disabled character Jimmy saying "S-s-s-suck my dick, PC Principal":

It's Black Friday.

I hope you'll do some of your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

November 26, 2015

"Every year at the holidays, millions of Americans partake in a whole parallel tradition: avoiding the 'crazy uncle'..."

"... that one exhausting relative who treats every event as a chance to assault you with their fringe political ideas, hector you about your life, infuriatingly question your values. Whole articles now offer strategies on how to handle this character when the family sits down around the table.... But wait: What’s so bad about crazy uncles? Who said the holidays need to be as boring as a George Pataki rally?... Yes, it’s time to be the crazy uncle for a change...."

That's Politico, "How to BE the Crazy Uncle This Thanksgiving." That's the only title in the hate-your-family subgenre of Thanksgiving stuff(ing) I've clicked on. Basically, politicos at all websites have figured out a way to keep writing about politics while purporting to provide Thanksgiving sustenance. The fiends.

"We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it."

"But I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago."

It's Thanksgiving. Why are you reading a blog?

It's Thanksgiving. Why are you reading a blog? free polls

"When I first saw it, I was kind of creeped out because it was just a random person on the street with a scary mask. I don't like clowns."

Said one young woman about the man dressed as a clown who's been seen walking around Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. People want the police to do something, but the police know the clown to be a developmentally disabled teenage boy who, they say, is "just doing this to see people's reaction," which is, of course, not a crime.

ADDED: Laws against wearing masks are not unheard of. This came up in the context of Guy Fawkes masks in the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2012:
[A]ccording to the New York Penal Law 240.35(4), it is illegal to congregate in public with two or more people while each wearing a mask or any face covering which disguises your identity. The law has existed since 1845, when tenant farmers, in response to a lowering of wheat prices, dressed up as “Indians” and covered their faces with masks in order to attack the police anonymously. There are exceptions for masquerades and other entertainment events that are deemed appropriate by the city (such as Halloween).

"When Palestinian artist Ashraf Fayadh was tried last year on blasphemy-related charges, the Saudi judges overseeing the case rejected the prosecution's request for a death sentence for apostasy."

"Instead, he was sentenced to 800 lashes and four years in prison over a book of poetry he wrote and for allegedly having illicit relations with women. An appeal was filed and the case was sent back to the lower court, but this time around judges threw out defense witness testimony, refused to accept Fayadh's repentance and on Nov. 17 sentenced him to execution for apostasy.... The case illustrates how courts in Saudi Arabia can issue vastly different punishments based on how judges interpret Islamic Shariah law.... While judges in the initial trial accepted Fayadh's repentance for anything deemed offensive to religion in his poetry book, judges in the retrial said the case was considered an instance of 'hadd' — specific crimes, such as apostasy, that have fixed punishments in Islam...."

From "Artist's death sentence in Saudi points to importance of interpretation in Islamic law" (in U.S. News & World Report).

"The opposite of ISIS" is the First Amendment, but "No principle of the First Amendment... requires us to pretend that a religiously motivated terrorist is not religious."

Writes lawprof Marci Hamilton.
... Americans can grasp that the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is decidedly not the same as the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And there are plenty of extremist groups in the United States from neo-Nazis to Skinheads to our own homegrown religiously motivated terrorists. That means Americans can get the difference between the millions of law-abiding Muslim believers and the extremist Islamic terrorists. And we actually need to make that distinction for the sake of the millions of good citizen Muslims....

The fact that these terrorists are mobilized by religion sends a message that their apocalyptic horizon is fervently and even feverishly embraced, and that it is not open to rational debate. These are terrorists who share a rigid religious dogma, and we have a long history showing us what religious entities can and will do when they decide to root out apostates. It is horrifying. Without the religious descriptor, it is too easy to treat them as political actors rather than the dogmatic, unbending fundamentalists that they are....
That is, there's something distinctive about the way religion goes wrong when it goes wrong, and to think about it rationally, you have to take account of the way it's irrational.

Tweeting at Taranto about Trump.

Happy Thanksgiving, blog readers.

Are you reading blogs this morning, like it's a normal day? I sure am, but I love normal days. It's absurd to complain that a holiday is interrupting the flow of normal days, when there's always the option of honoring the holiday by according it equal treatment with all those other days, the non-needy just-another-day days.

November 25, 2015

Spike Lee predicts a sex strike.

"I'd like to say this: What's happening on college campuses today, you know, with what happened at the University of Missouri where the football players got together and said unless the president resigns, they weren't going to play... I think a sex strike could really work on college campuses where there’s an abundance of sexual harassment and date rapes. Second semester it’s going to happen. Once people come back from Christmas, there are going to be sex strikes at universities and colleges across this country, I believe it."

He's promoting his movie "CHI-RAQ" about a sex strike in Chicago. 

It would merge the campus anti-rape movement with the race-related protests that seem to have overshadowed it.

"Here I can really be free. I can practise my religion. I couldn’t do that in Vienna."

"I like to eat. The food here is very similar to Austria even if it’s mainly halal food. You can get ketchup here, Nutella and cornflakes."

From "Teen Islamic State pin-up girl changes her mind, is 'beaten to death.'"

When is it appropriate to appropriate?

"It's time for cultural appropriators to proudly reclaim 'culturally appropriative' as a positive, empowering term. When asked 'Isn't that cultural appropriation?' you should enthusiastically answer: 'Yes! I freely adopt any cultures I choose, and I wouldn't have it any other way!'"

Writes John, bouncing off this WaPo piece by Cathy Young piece, "To the new culture cops, everything is appropriation/Their protests ignore history, chill artistic expression and hurt diversity." Excerpt from Young:
Most critics of appropriation... say they don’t oppose engagement with other cultures if it’s done in a “culturally affirming” way. A Daily Dot article admonishes that “an authentic cultural exchange should feel free and affirming, rather than plagiarizing or thieving.” A recent post on the Tumblr “This Is Not China” declares that “cultural appropriation is not merely the act of wearing or partaking in cultural symbols & practices that do not belong to you, it’s a system of exploitation & capitalisation on cultural symbols & practices that do not a) originate from b) benefit c) circle back to the culture in question.”

It makes sense to permit behaviors that encourage empathy and genuine interest while discouraging those that caricature or mock a sampled-from culture. But such litmus tests leave ample room for hair-splitting and arbitrary judgments. One blogger’s partial defense of “Kimono Wednesdays” suggests that while it was fine to let visitors [at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston] try on the kimonos, allowing them to be photographed while wearing them was a step too far. This fine parsing of what crosses the line from appreciation into appropriation suggests a religion with elaborate purity tests.
I actually think it's fine and good to contemplate these fine distinctions, especially as you develop your own ethics and taste. I'd say that criticizing others for drawing the fine lines in different places is also a matter of ethics and taste. Young asks:
What will be declared “problematic” next? Picasso’s and Matisse’s works inspired by African art? Puccini’s “Orientalist” operas, “Madama Butterfly” and “Turandot”? Should we rid our homes of Japanese prints? Should I take offense at other people’s Russian nesting dolls?
But I think all these things deserve attention, and I think they've all been subject to critique for a long, long time. It's hardly a "what's next?" matter to bring up Picasso's use of African art. The subject of cultural appropriation is not to be brushed aside. It deserves study, reflection, analysis, and interesting, wide-ranging debate and discussion. It's one of the great topics of conversation! Don't, in the interest of freedom, censor it. Some people take it too far and become offensive in their taking of offense, but most good subjects for study and conversation touch off some intemperate speakers who love to attack others. Like, I bet what I just said — which is setting up a good topic — has touched off some of my readers to go after me in an intemperate manner.

ADDED: For reference, here's how The New York Times talked about "those ubiquitous gold-dust twins of high-priced modern art, Picasso and Matisse" and their use of African art back in 1927. Click images to enlarge:

"What would it take to break this cheap little spell and make us wake up and inquire what on earth we are doing when we make the Clinton family drama — yet again—a central part of our own politics?"

Wrote the late Christopher Hitchens in January 2008, quoted in this morning's NYT in a review of a new collection of some of his essays. (The book is "And Yet...") From the review:
It’s a shame Mr. Hitchens isn’t here to comment on Donald Trump’s political moment. He saw in the ideas behind Ross Perot’s candidacy some of what he might have distrusted in Mr. Trump’s, that is the idea that “government should give way to management.”...
Yes, "management" — I was just saying that's Trump's "stock one-word answer to queries about how he'll do something he says he will do." So I dug up the old Hitchens essay. Here. It's in The Wilson Quarterly. The Wilson Quarterly? Egad. Woodrow Wilson. That name is mud this week. And the Hitchens essay is "Bring on the Mud/Mud-slinging in politics is a time-honored American tradition. But is there anything so bad about throwing a few political barbs?" It's not mostly about government as management, and the whole thing is on such a high level that I want to weep for our loss:
When asked, millions of people will say that the two parties are (a) so much alike as to be virtually indistinguishable, and (b) too much occupied in partisan warfare. The two “perceptions” are not necessarily opposed: Party conflict could easily be more and more disagreement about less and less—what Sigmund Freud characterized in another context as “the narcissism of the small difference.” For a while, about a decade ago, the combination of those two large, vague impressions gave rise to the existence of a quasi-plausible third party, led by Ross Perot, which argued, in effect, that politics should be above politics, and that government should give way to management. That illusion, like the touching belief that one party is always better than the other, is compounded of near-equal parts naiveté and cynicism.
By the way, the phrase "his name is mud" goes back to 1823:
1823   ‘J. Bee’ Slang 122   Mud, a stupid twaddling fellow. ‘And his name is mud!’ ejaculated upon the conclusion of a silly oration, or of a leader in the Courier.
But some people like to tie the phrase to Samuel Mudd, the doctor who treated the leg John Wilkes Booth broke. Whether Booth broke the leg when he jumped onto the stage in Ford's Theatre is a separate question and one question too many for this post of many questions.

Did Donald Trump — from his midtown penthouse — watch people jump from the World Trade Center on 9/11?

He says he did:
"Many people jumped and I witnessed it, I watched that. I have a view -- a view in my apartment that was specifically aimed at the World Trade Center," Trump said Monday during a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

"And I watched those people jump and I watched the second plane hit ... I saw the second plane hit the building and I said, 'Wow that's unbelievable,'" Trump continued.
CNN seems dubious:
The Republican presidential contender lives in Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, more than four miles away from where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Trump has lived in the 5th Avenue tower since before the attacks, according to media reports pre-dating 9/11.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment asking how Trump witnessed people jumping out of the Twin Towers from more than four miles away.
Dubious... or they just don't want to refer to the possibility I brought up the other day in this post about Trump's statement that he watched people celebrating on rooftops in Jersey City: he has telescopes. If Trump has a beautiful view "specifically aimed" at downtown Manhattan, doesn't he have telescopes (and high-power binoculars) to take in all the many sights you can get from that angle? What percentage of residents of Manhattan high-raise buildings have devices to assist their vision? They may brag about their view from high-floor windows, but it's less likely they'd flaunt the technology for enhancing that view. But I think it's pretty standard.

Here's a NYT article from 1990: "Telescopes for (Sneaky) City Views":
"It all boils down to the voyeurism thing," said Mark Abrams, the manager of Clairmont-Nichols, a Manhattan optical store that has a dozen telescopes on tripods with a straight-shot view across the street. "Sales are pretty good; there's interest out there."...

"It gives you a special kind of vision that you ordinarily wouldn't see," said Michael de Santis, an interior decorator. "It brings the Statue of Liberty in closer, the World Trade Center, the bridges. When you see it that close, it's so much better."
The World Trade Center.
Better yet are camera attachments and specially coated low-light lenses that make the dimmest apartments seem as bright as high noon, but not to the people who live there.... It took Mr. Abrams a few days to figure out why so many residents of one high-rise apartment building on East 58th Street were buying binoculars. It turned out that the tenants in a building nearby were sunbathing on the roof in the nude. "We're not selling morality here," Mr. Abrams said. "We're selling binoculars and telescopes."...

Bob Evans, a salesman at Clairmont-Nichols, said his fourth-floor apartment had an unobstructed view of a woman's apartment on the third floor across the street. "I got one of those SS-80's over there, 66 power," he said, referring to a $697 telescope. "I could read the numbers right off the remote control on her TV. Phenomenal."...
ADDED: Consider the possibility that Donald Trump has his own video, shot with his own equipment on 9/11, and he will eventually reveal it, after his antagonists have committed themselves to accusations of lying and delusion.

November 24, 2015

"How Adele makes middle-aged music cool for young people."

 A Slate article. I haven't read it yet but I think the answer is that "middle-aged music" is just something a lot of people want to be freed to like.

The author, Carl Wilson (not the dead Beach Boy, I presume)  is "concerned the younger generation may be suffering alarmingly low levels of acerbity."
Even teenagers and college students are capable of looking back gauzily on what they’ve recently grown out of or projecting themselves into the future and retroactively romanticizing where they are right now. The young are often the greatest sentimentalists, particularly in times of instability. (Do economic inequality, climate change, and maybe Snapchat help explain their eagerness for Adele, like YA novelist John Green, to make them weep over old, eternal clichés?)
 Enough of that. Here's the late Beach Boy Carl Wilson:

Best song ever. Does age mean anything at all?

"Carl XVI Gustaf, the reigning king of Sweden, said... 'All bathtubs should be banned... Just imagine it!'"

"Sweden’s 'green king' said he had been forced just that morning to take a bath in his showerless hotel room..."
“It took a lot of fresh water and energy,” he said. “It struck me so clearly: It’s not wise that I have to do this. I really felt ashamed then, I really did.”

"Hillary Clinton has agreed to stop using the term 'illegal immigrants.'"

"Yes, I will... That was a poor choice of words... They have names, and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected," said Hillary Clinton, in an assurance that I'm dumbfounded seeing she had to be pushed to give.

I find it impossible to believe she was ignorant of the objections to the term "illegal immigrants." She had to have been choosing to say it. But why? I assume she wanted to signal some toughness.

"A Portage company will stop providing portable toilets used by the homeless at the [Madison] City-County Building... due to health hazards, behavior problems, and fears for employee safety."

"The Country Plumber notified the city it will stop providing and servicing the toilets when a contract expires on Dec. 31 due to finding massive quantities of hypodermic needles, and users missing the toilet, smearing feces, and leaving condoms and other sex leftovers, a memo from the Parks Division to Mayor Paul Soglin says."

And other sex leftovers...

UPDATE: seems to have flushed the story. The link doesn't work and I can't find the story searching the site. I assure you that I got the quoted material at the link that doesn't work anymore.

"Man kicked out of Camp Randall pranks UW police with 240 coconut doughnuts."

"This was meant as a harmless way to both show general gratitude for the job you do (which is awesome) but slight disdain for my treatment Saturday (which was not so awesome)," said the anonymous man. "Donuts are awesome, but coconut donuts are not so awesome."

"I believe this is a moment that can build bridges of understanding rather than become a barrier of misunderstanding."

Said Rahm Emanuel.

It's "fine to be passionate, but it is essential that it remain peaceful."

"Could dark matter make Earth 'hairy'?"

"Dark matter could form 'hairs' around planets, like Earth, according to NASA. The invisible, mysterious matter – which is thought to make up about 85 percent of all the matter in the universe – forms long “fine-grained streams” of particles.... These hairy filaments could help scientists unlock more insights into the mystery of dark matter. 'If we could pinpoint the location of the root of these hairs, we could potentially send a probe there and get a bonanza of data about dark matter'...."

"An anonymous person or group has started a 'Union of White NYU Students' Facebook page..."

"... these kinds of pages have cropped up at a number of universities that have sought to have a real dialogue about race and inclusion. There is no such organization as this at NYU. We call on all parties to contribute thoughtfully and respectfully to the discourse on race and to reject efforts to derail or distort the conversation."

"A message to the NYU community" at NYU's Facebook page. I just happened to randomly click on the NYU page. Wasn't looking for this.

Here's the "Union of White NYU Students" page. Here's a Gawker article about it: "Who’s Behind the Fake 'Union of White NYU Students'?"  Gawker contacted the anonymous administrator of the page, asking for proof that he was really an NYU student. The administrator responded but didn't break his anonymity, citing death threats and accusations. ("When I chose to do this, I knew that it would not be long before the accusations of KKK, Nazi etc came out. But I hope to use these to make my point. White identity cannot be discussed constructively because of this sort of slander.")

The Daily Beast take is "Racist Trolls Are Behind NYU’s ‘White Student Union’ Hoax."

I liiiiike Laura on "Jeopardy."

I had to go searching for that after reading "The Unfan Club Of #LauraOnJeopardy/Uptalking lawyer Laura Ashby tests the patience of Jeopardy fans with her vocal fry."

She's doing something beyond vocal fry. Or up-talk. She's got her own way of talking. I find it quite wonderful. I bet the haters don't have charming voices or anything interesting to say. And, quite frankly, I think people who get too riled by women's voices should do some soul searching.

"It used to be routine, too, Chief Justice Roberts said, for presidents to appoint prominent public figures to the court."

"In 1941, the year Hughes left the court, Chief Justice Roberts said, 'you had two senators on the court, a representative, three former attorneys general.' The court that decided Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 decision banning segregation in public schools, included Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former governor of California; Hugo L. Black, a former United States senator; William O. Douglas, who had been chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Robert H. Jackson, who had been the attorney general. By contrast, Chief Justice Roberts said, until Justice Elena Kagan arrived in 2010, “every single member of the court had been a court of appeals judge.' He did not comment Friday on the significance of the narrowing of the career paths, but in 2009 he said the development was a positive one, resulting in decisions with 'a more legal perspective and less of a policy perspective.'"

From respectful coverage, by the NYT's Adam Liptak, of a talk by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. at NYU School of Law. Roberts's subject was Charles Evans Hughes, who before becoming Chief Justice "had been governor of New York, an associate justice of the court, the Republican nominee for president (losing narrowly to Woodrow Wilson), secretary of state and a Wall Street lawyer who argued more than 50 cases in the court."

Interesting to see the somewhat random appearance of the name Woodrow Wilson. The old president has become a big issue of late. In this very edition of the NYT, Woodrow Wilson comes up in 2 headlines:

Politico: "TV networks hold conference call to discuss Trump treatment."

I thought the networks were colluding on how they were going to treat Trump, but it turns out they've got a problem with how he's treating them:
"The effort in the Trump campaign is to limit any kind of interaction between our reporters and the people attending the Trump events. So we'd like to have some access to folks," [one unnamed] executive said.... In one instance, a CNN reporter was told to return to the media "pen" or have his credentials revoked when he tried to film protesters in the crowd at a Trump event last week. A reporter from NBC News was told to return to the media area on Friday as she tried to interview attendees at a Trump rally before the event began. Campaigns often keep reporters in designated media areas during campaign events. The areas often include risers for cameras and sometimes include desks and reserved chairs for reporters.... But Trump's overall approach to the media — including direct attacks on reporters and specific outlets — has been particularly harsh. His campaign has also denied credentials to outlets such as Univision, Fusion, BuzzFeed and the Des Moines Register, often in retaliation for another piece the outlet (or its editorial board) wrote or broadcast about Trump.
Trump seems to talk a lot about whether he's being treated "fairly." "Campaigns often keep reporters in designated media areas... But Trump's overall approach to the media — including direct attacks on reporters and specific outlets... has been particularly harsh." Well, the media's approach to Trump has been particularly harsh, or so I'm sure it seems to Trump. Another big Trump theme is "management." (It's his stock one-word answer to queries about how he'll do something he says he will do.) Trump is managing the press. Is his approach "particularly harsh" or is this that management we're hearing so much about?

And isn't there an element of truth to my misreading? The network folk are trying to figure out how to treat Trump — how to manage him. It will be hard, because whatever moves they make he will use against them, and attacking the press is one of his prime strategies. He's got things going so that he doesn't need them or they need him more than he needs them. They really did think, early on, that they could bring him down, and they tried again and again. Their game didn't work, and he has some never-before-seen game and they're very confused about how to play it. He, on the other hand, is having great fun. Another big Trump theme is "energy." And this game with the press cranks up the energy for him.

"I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers."

"Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and an adventure."

From "4 Oliver Sacks Quotes on Gratitude," which extracts quotes from a new Oliver Sacks book — just right for Thanksgiving — titled "Gratitude."

It contains the quotes of others, such as Samuel Beckett saying "I wouldn’t go as far as that" when somebody said "Doesn’t a day like this make you glad to be alive?"

"There’s been a lot of poorly thought-out stuff written about the differences between men’s and women’s brains and minds."

"In the worst instances, sexist commentators use spurious neuroscience claims to provide 'evidence' for gender stereotypes — take John Gray of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus fame, who says men can’t multitask because they use one brain hemisphere at a time while women use two (not true), or Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain, who says women are more emotional and empathetic than men because they have more mirror neurons (ditto). But if you can get past all of this pseudoscience, there’s some legitimately illuminating, serious medical research on sex-based brain differences — some of which has important health implications.... For example, while both sexes showed reduced total brain volume and thalamus volume with age, only the men showed age-related reductions in caudate nucleus and putamen volume (the putamen is another subcortical area involved in movement control). Furthermore, overall gray matter (including in subcortical areas) in the men’s brains was found to reduce at a faster rate than in women’s brains — which could be taken as a mark of faster brain aging in men."

Isn't it amazing that the evidence or "evidence" — from bad or good science — always ends up showing that when there's a difference between men and women, it's what's true about the woman that is good?

The quote is from "Men’s and Women’s Brains Appear to Age Differently" in New York Magazine.

"US scientists say they have bred a genetically modified (GM) mosquito that can resist malaria infection."

"If the lab technique works in the field, it could offer a new way of stopping the biting insects from spreading malaria to humans, they say. The scientists put a new 'resistance' gene into the mosquito's own DNA, using a gene editing method called Crispr."

BBC reports. And here's a long, interesting New Yorker story with a lot about Crisper:
“I had never heard that word,” Zhang told me recently as we sat in his office, which looks out across the Charles River and Beacon Hill. Zhang has a perfectly round face, its shape accentuated by rectangular wire-rimmed glasses and a bowl cut. 
The New Yorker always tells you — in a few words — what a person looks like, even when it doesn't matter in the slightest.  Zhang is Feng Zhang, "the youngest member of the core faculty at the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T."
“So I went to Google just to see what was there,” he said. Zhang read every paper he could; five years later, he still seemed surprised by what he found. CRISPR, he learned, was a strange cluster of DNA sequences that could recognize invading viruses, deploy a special enzyme to chop them into pieces, and use the viral shards that remained to form a rudimentary immune system. The sequences, identical strings of nucleotides that could be read the same way backward and forward, looked like Morse code, a series of dashes punctuated by an occasional dot. The system had an awkward name—clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats—but a memorable acronym.

CRISPR has two components. The first is essentially a cellular scalpel that cuts DNA. The other consists of RNA, the molecule most often used to transmit biological information throughout the genome. It serves as a guide, leading the scalpel on a search past thousands of genes until it finds and fixes itself to the precise string of nucleotides it needs to cut. It has been clear at least since Louis Pasteur did some of his earliest experiments into the germ theory of disease, in the nineteenth century, that the immune systems of humans and other vertebrates are capable of adapting to new threats. But few scientists had considered the possibility that single bacterial cells could defend themselves in the same way. The day after Zhang heard about CRISPR, he flew to Florida for a genetics conference. Rather than attend the meetings, however, he stayed in his hotel room and kept Googling. “I just sat there reading every paper on CRISPR I could find,” he said. “The more I read, the harder it was to contain my excitement.”

"The Turkish military has reportedly shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria."

"This is exactly the kind of incident that many have feared since Russia launched its air operations in Syria. The dangers of operating near to the Turkish border have been all too apparent. Turkish planes have already shot down at least one Syrian air force jet and possibly a helicopter as well."

November 23, 2015

"The US has issued a rare global travel alert for its citizens in response to 'increased terrorist threats.'"

"The state department said 'current information' suggested the Islamic State group, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others continued 'to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.' The alert, it said, will remain in place until 24 February 2016."

3 months!

ADDED: It's so long and generic that it's really no different from no warning at all except to the extent that they want to be able say: Well, we warned you!

"Qatar is nice, but it is not Texas. That is their attitude toward this."

"They are citizens of Irving, Texas, USA, first. Are they devout people devoted to their faith? Absolutely. But they are Texans, too, and they want to come home. What we are seeking is for them to be able to do that with their heads held high."

Says the lawyer representing Ahmed Mohamed (the "clock kid") who wants $15 million.

The New York Times frontpages its commenters.

The article features the "most popular commenters," such as a woman who knew the GOP didn't like her because "I’m black, pro choice, support equal rights for gays, and don’t believe the answer to everything is either bomb or drill, but... had no idea they also hated me because I’m a woman," a man who "enjoys pointing out what he calls the 'intellectual bankruptcy' of conservatives," a 60-year-old electrical engineer who says, "I’ve lost most all my friends as I’ve gotten older, and I don’t have people I can engage in deep conversation with like I used to years ago, and this gives me a platform to do that," and a 95-year-old electrical engineer who's loved for commenting in rhyme.

The comments on the article about commenters are particularly enthusiastic about the commenter in rhyme. Hey, remember back in 2007 when there was some sort of competition amongst the Althouse blog commenters over the title Poet Laureate of the Althouse Blog?

"At the age of forty-four, Rubio has lively dark eyes, soft cheeks, and downy brown hair affixed in a perfect part."

"He sometimes asks crowds to see him in the tradition of a 'young President who said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."' (J.F.K. was forty-three when he entered the White House.) Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, is only five months older than Rubio, but nobody calls him boyish. If the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, the Party will be offering the oldest candidate that it has ever run in a general election, and Rubio has taken to saying, 'Never in the modern history of this country has the political class in both parties been more out of touch with our country than it is right now.' But in policy terms Rubio can appear older than his years. His opposition to same-sex marriage, to raising the minimum wage, and to restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba puts him out of step with most American Latinos. In the Spanish-language media, he is sometimes described as un joven viejo—a young fogey."

From a new, long article in The New Yorker by Evan Osnos titled "The Opportunist/Marco Rubio’s political dexterity."

"Hillary Clinton’s push for a 'politics of meaning' culminated in a New York Times Magazine story Michael Kelly wrote, 'Saint Hillary.'"

"She appeared on the cover clad in celestial white. Kelly caught her in the act of dreaming, like her husband, about reviving America’s soul while reforming the body politic. What Kelly snidely called 'a mix of Bible and Bill Moyers, of New Testament and New Age,' and others called 'psychobabble,' sought a 1950s-style suburban stability tempered by the 1960s’ liberating openness. Kelly deemed it moralistic and judgmental, 'unintentionally hilarious Big Brotherism.' Burned, Hillary Clinton ignored the episode in her memoirs, and was more cautious in public thereafter, although her 1996 bestseller It Takes a Village raised these issues in a safer, more all-American Mom manner."

From a Daily Beast article by Gil Troy titled "Embrace the ’70s, Hillary!/Clinton has long been reluctant to talk about her work during the 1970s. She should instead be promoting it."

Here's Michael Kelly's original NYT article "Saint Hillary." Excerpt:
Any clearly expressed, serious proposal to do anything to improve public values runs immediately against the fundamentals of social liberalism that are the guiding ethos of Democratic policies.

Mrs. Clinton argues that the concepts of liberalism and conservatism don't really mean anything anymore and that the politics of the New Age is moving beyond ideology. But that is not at all true in the area of values where she seeks to venture. It is easy for social conservatives, who have been writing and debating for years about the moral values Mrs. Clinton is now addressing, to speak bluntly about what is morally right and what is not. Conservatism is purposely, explicitly judgmental. But liberalism, as defined by Mrs. Clinton's generation and those who came after, has increasingly moved away from the entire concept of judgment and embraced instead the expansion of rights and the tolerance of diversity.
(Michael Kelly, you may remember, was killed covering the war in Iraq in 2003.)

"So the product is being deliberately misused despite a specific warning label, and y'all are complaining that Sissy had to have an unplanned haircut to fix the problem?"

"Nobody was irreparably broken or even like stubbed their toe? BURN BUNCH EMS DOWN. Bomb this company back to the stone age before the hair of one more angelic little blonde girl is forever temporarily shortened!"

A comment at Buzzfeed's "Little Girls Are Ruining Their Hair With This Hot New Toy/'Her butt-length hair is now chin length. I was lucky to save that much.'" (There is a no-cutting solution you can easily find on the internet — you use a comb and some vegetable oil.)

Which way do your sympathies lean? free polls

Look at these microaggressing urinals...

... in New Zealand.

I found that through the comments on a WaPo slideshow, "What toilets look like around the world," which begins with a photo that microaggresses in the opposite direction.

(World Toilet Day was November 19th, and it is, at bottom, a serious issue.)

"This holiday, a little awareness can change everything.

"How Enlightened Families Argue":

"The number of Facebook posts I've seen like this... has me concerned for this country's educational system."

Says John, showing this:

Which way is that argument supposed to cut?

The perfect response to Joyce Carol Oates.

"Unlike Glenn Kessler, George Stuffinenvelopes and Ann Althouse, Trump likely was in New York on 9/11. Yet all claim the right to know what he saw."

Says a typical comment on last night's post "Did Trump watch 'thousands and thousands of people' in Jersey City, New Jersey 'cheering' as the World Trade Center came down?" I hadn't noticed, when I wrote the post, that the Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler had given Trump 4 Pinocchios or that Power Line had dinged Kessler for missing an article that appeared in Kessler's own newspaper on September 18, 2001 that said:
In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners’ plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.
Kessler shouldn't have missed that and his credibility is indeed undercut. You'd think someone with the fact-checker beat would guard his reputation much more carefully. But I was looking right at Trump, not through Kessler's analysis. And that old article doesn't support Trump's statement that he could have seen "thousands and thousands" of cheering people in Jersey City.

Kessler has tried to process what Power Line embarrassed him with. He makes the point about the article that I made in my comments thread, that "a number of people" doesn't amount to "thousands and thousands" and that they were only "allegedly" seen. Kessler adds this:
One man who said he walked up and down through Jersey City on 9/11 wrote: “At no time did I see anyone celebrating. It did not happen. Not thousands — not hundreds — not dozens — not one. At no time did I meet anyone who claimed to have seen any celebrations. It’s also worth noting that I saw no TV-news vans who might have shot footage of celebrations. They did not show up until the next day.”
Jersey City is the second-largest city in New Jersey. It has a population of 247,597. One man walking around on one day doesn't get us very far toward proving a negative, that something didn't happen. You might say that if there really were "thousands and thousands" that he'd have seen some of them, but that would assume that such people were distributed evenly in the different neighborhoods. The claim, however, is that Arab Americans were celebrating, and Arab Americans are only 2.3% of the Jersey City population. Did the man say he walked up and down through parts of the city where this demographic group is concentrated? Also, the rumors were of rooftop celebrations, which would be difficult to see from the sidewalk.

Now, my commenter said "Trump likely was in New York on 9/11. Yet all claim the right to know what he saw," and I was going to say if he was in New York, he wasn't in Jersey City, but I thought again. Where was Trump on 9/11? In some high-floor penthouse in Manhattan? I presume he has telescopes to gaze out upon the glorious long views. I would guess that he did have sight lines that extended to the rooftops of Jersey City. Maybe he did personally watch celebrations.

I await clarification. It will be something if he says: I have the telescopic power to monitor Jersey City rooftop parties from my penthouse.

November 22, 2015

Did Trump watch "thousands and thousands of people" in Jersey City, New Jersey "cheering" as the World Trade Center came down?

He said he did, and on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Stephanopoulos confronted him:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the police say that didn't happen and all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time. So did you meek -- misspeak yesterday?

TRUMP: It did happen. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw that...

TRUMP: It was on television. I saw it.

"Why isn't the big Hollywood player who said 'call some chicks' named? What did he do to earn anonymity in this story?"

The 3rd highest-rated comment on a NYT article by Maureen Dowd titled "The Women of Hollywood Speak Out/Female executives and filmmakers are ready to run studios and direct blockbuster pictures. What will it take to dismantle the pervasive sexism that keeps them from doing it?"

This is not just some oddity from Ottawa: Yoga really is a cultural appropriation problem.

Here's a story from Canada. At the University of Ottawa, the Centre for Students with Disabilities has decided to end its program of free yoga classes, because "there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice."
"Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced," and which cultures those practices "are being taken from." The centre official argues since many of those cultures "have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy ... we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga."
The Centre's prose is abstruse. The Ottawa Sun, reporting the controversy, offers some plainer English:
The concept of cultural appropriation is normally applied when a dominant culture borrows symbols of a marginalized culture for dubious reasons -- such as the fad of hipsters donning indigenous headdresses as a fashion statement, without any regard to cultural significance or stereotype.
Hipsters are donning headdresses? I hadn't noticed that, but fashion does typically grab and decontextualize ideas from other cultures. Have you ever seen the documentary "Unzipped," about the designer Isaac Mizrahi? Here's the scene where he's sitting in bed watching "Nanook of the North" and sketching ideas that end up in his next runway show. He's saying: "These Eskimos are inspiring. I can't even believe how beautiful these Eskimos are. And I love it. All the fur pants.... There's something very charming about a big, fat fur pant."

Now, what's wrong with the way Canadians and Americans have appropriated yoga, stripping it of its Indian religious context, taking just the amount of deeper meaning that's comfortable to the spiritual-but-not-religious crowd who feel the need to stretch their bodies a lot and their minds not too much?

The yoga teacher who was ousted in Ottawa says:
"People are just looking for a reason to be offended by anything they can find. There's a real divide between reasonable people and those people just looking to jump on a bandwagon. And unfortunately, it ends up with good people getting punished for doing good things."
The acting student federation president Romeo Ahimakin said the idea was not a permanent ban but a rethinking of the school's use of yoga "to make it better, more accessible and more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces":
"We are trying to have those sessions done in a way in which students are aware of where the spiritual and cultural aspects come from, so that these sessions are done in a respectful manner."
That strikes me as a moderate approach, not a ban, but a call for deeper reflection about something that is, in its origin, deep and that has been made shallow for the purposes of consumption by health-minded young people in stretch pants. A university should be a place of learning and a search for greater understanding. There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief.

The yoga instructor, whose name is Jennifer Scharf, wanted to just relabel the class "mindful stretching," which, she said, would "literally change nothing." Well, literally, it would change something, the name. And if we are going to be "mindful," we might want to wonder what our mind is full of. Is it not some anodyne pastiche of Indian religion?

Scharf says: "I'm not pretending to be some enlightened yogi master, and the point (of the program) isn't to educate people on the finer points of the ancient yogi scripture." But that's what appropriation is. You're taking the parts that you like, that feel good to you, that are useful for your purposes, and leaving behind everything that's deep or uncomfortable or uninteresting to you. It's religion drained of religion.

It's fine to concoct your own spirituality using ingredients you've culled from existing religions, but if you're going to practice it in classes at a public university, you should be honest and reflective about what you are doing. And if the religion you're using for your source material comes from a culture that is foreign to you, you ought to spend some time on the stretching exercise of contemplating how what you are doing feels to those who belong to that culture.

Girls who want to join the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

These are not female-to-male transgender persons but girls who prefer the activities offered in Boy Scouts: "they would rather be camping and tying knots than selling cookies."
And they say shifting attitudes are on their side: Bathrooms are going unisex in deference to transgender people, the Supreme Court has redefined marriage to include same-sex couples, and even the Boy Scouts have softened their stance on gay scouts and scout leaders.

In this liberal-minded community, about two hours north of San Francisco, a group of girls ages 10 and 13 who have named themselves the Unicorns... began to consider themselves Boy Scouts last fall, after they enrolled in a skills-building course, Learning for Life, that is affiliated with the organization and is offered to boys and girls. Several Unicorns had tried the Girl Scouts but found the experience too sedate: rest time and whispering instead of playing tag and lighting fires.
Rest time and whispering! Is that really what Girl Scouts do? Obviously, the Girl Scouts object to that characterization.
[E]xpanding the definition of “Boy Scout” is alarming some parents, who voiced concerns about the prospect of shared tents, the erosion of valuable boys-only time and the possibility that girls — who already outperform boys in many areas — might start to snap up all the leadership positions.

"Welcome to our home. Please take a moment to review our latest statement regarding so-called micro-aggressions..."

"... together with a revised list of 'trigger warning' requests. Kindly commit the following to memory...."

Trigger warning for Althouse readers: There's a New Yorker humor piece at that link. You can get in without a subscription. I've pre-screened it for you, and I think it's a safe space for those who are sensitive to sensitivity about microaggressions.
Sincere compliments concerning our personal appearance are always welcome. However, tones of surprise, as in such comments as “Hey, you look great!” or “Nice!” suggest a preëxisting lesser opinion, and are therefore deemed to be wounding.
Oh? Did that hurt? I cruelly omitted a trigger warning about the diaresis:
Those two dots, often mistaken for an umlaut, are actually a diaeresis (pronounced “die heiresses”; it’s from the Greek for “divide”). 
Wow. Total microaggression against women. But only rich women, so I hope we're all okay.
The difference is that an umlaut is a German thing that alters the pronunciation of a vowel (Brünnhilde), and often changes the meaning of a word: schon (adv.), already; schön (adj.), beautiful. In the case of a diphthong, the umlaut goes over the first vowel. And it is crucial. A diaeresis goes over the second vowel and indicates that it forms a separate syllable. Most of the English-speaking world finds the diaeresis inessential. Even Fowler, of Fowler’s “Modern English Usage,” says that the diaeresis “is in English an obsolescent symbol.”...

The fact is that, absent the two dots, most people would not trip over the “coop” in “cooperate” or the “reel” in “reelect” (though they might pronounce the “zoo” in “zoological,” a potential application of the diaeresis that we get no credit for resisting). And yet we use the diaeresis for the same reason that we use the hyphen: to keep the cow out of co-workers.