April 19, 2014

"It turns out that a group of burly umpires powwowing at the edge of the field, communicating via headset with the league’s central-replay headquarters, in New York..."

"... is among the most cripplingly boring scenes ever produced by a major American sport."
Even when the replay process is swift and the outcome is correct, it is nonetheless so dull and deadening that it leaves one longing for the thrills of a pitching-coach visit to the mound, a reliever sauntering in from left field, or a batter wandering halfway from the plate to the dugout between every pitch.

Lady keeping chickens in the backyard in her posh NYC neighborhood seems to think the rules don't apply to her...

... because: 1. She bought the chickens from a place recommended by Martha Stewart, 2. These aren't ordinary chickens but a bantam Easter egger (with blue eggs), black copper marans (supposedly loved by French chefs), silkies, and a Belgian bearded d’uccle, 3. The coop cost $2,500 and was built by some Amish people, 4. She feeds the chickens "organic soy-free feed and... fresh vegetables," 5. She believes (and is telling the world) that her daughter Scarlett is "developing faster than her peers" and thus needs a "hormone-free diet" (and the NYT conveys this concern to us without mentioning that that "all eggs in commercial egg production in the United States" come from hens that "are not given hormones").

The New York Times, for all its leftish sentimentalism, panders absurdly to the elite class. The linked article could be a humor piece, but it's not. It's a human (and chicken) interest story for aging, soft-(boiled)-headed female readers.

BONUS: The NYT fawns over extremely wealthy young people.


Flying tentacles of Drudge.

The imagery at Drudge right now:

The parallelism of hair and hands, the hair of Michelle Obama (for this story) and Johnny Depp (for news of the flop of his new movie) and the waggling fingers of Scalia (for "TSA GROPING UNDERSTANDABLE; NSA SPYING ON CITIZENS COULD BE GOOD...").

I'm enjoying the abstract coherence of the tentacles...

The Clinton White House "conspiracy commerce memo" warned, in 1995, that "THE INTERNET... allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all."

And: "The right wing has seized upon the internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people. Moreover, evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the internet...."

Here's the whole PDF for your amusement/disgust/horror. Here's the Politico article with the background about this document: It was long understood to exist and to have been the underlying analysis to Hillary Clinton's old "vast right-wing conspiracy" remark, and it was dumped yesterday — Good (day to dump documents) Friday — along with thousands of other things from the Clinton Presidential Library.

I love that direct admission that they were afraid of the internet. They could see that they couldn't control the media anymore.

The memo pushes the theory that there is an illicit "food chain" that brings material into the mainstream press, as if the mainstream press ought to be disciplined to reject news stories that are noticed and promoted this way.

At the Surrealism Exhibition...

... you're on your own.

How to be as unheterosexual as possible.

Have a sexual partner who looks exactly like you.

Photos of examples of such couples here, where the examples are all male.

Via Metafilter, where the first comment calls attention to the way this can also happen with a male-female couple.

What's the basis for the belief that partners should be different from each other? You could say it's needed for sexual reproduction, and we could look at how sexual dimorphism evolved, but there's no reason why faces need to look different for reproductive purposes.

Perhaps it has something to do with the old-fashioned notion that you shouldn't be in love with yourself. (I say "old-fashioned" because it contradicts the modern "self-esteem" movement.)

Related topics: 1. Whether a couple starts out looking alike or just ends up that way, 2. The fear/love of twins ("geminiphobia"/"geminiphilia"), 3. The way people get dogs that look like them (or end up looking like their dogs), 4. The way women are getting little dogs instead of having babies.

"A group of MIT scientists want to revive the nuclear industry in the post-Fukushima era by moving it offshore."


"A History of the Letter W."

There are, I think, 2 main questions people have if they stop and think about the letter W: 1. Why is it called double-U when it looks like double-V? and 2. Since we can spell words with double letters, why did this one instance of a double letter become a letter of its own? It was the second question — I think the first is silly — that got me looking for an answer. The history of W is explained in detail at Wikipedia, and quickly and amusingly in this video:

Men in shorts, lawyer version.

Above the Law is coming down hard on a judge who excluded a lawyer who arrived at court wearing shorts.

The lawyer is claiming a special medical need:
He got knee surgery two weeks ago and as he told KDFW, “I have tubes that come out of my leg that make it prohibitive to wear (pants). This connects to my ice machine that is a way of taking down the swelling in my leg. I’m also incapable of putting on long pants by myself.” [James Lee] Bright says that Judge [Etta] Mullin refused to hear him out and now he’s crying foul.
Would you have listened to a lawyer explaining that one might be capable of putting on shorts but not pants and using the word "prohibitive" to discuss the logistics of ice machine tubes? The courtroom has a "no shorts" rule.

Above the Law says: "And it’s not like shorts can’t be respectful courtroom attire. In Bermuda the lawyers wear shorts to court." And then declares that the Bermuda courtroom style looks "stupid" and the disability argument is better.

But the Bermuda lawyers in shorts are following the rules of the place where they practice, not claiming the shorts are appropriate when the rule is against them. And in fact, the shorts are no more "stupid" than lawyers in wigs look stupid. It's an issue of rules and tradition. You don't get to write your own rules, even if your shorts are fabulous, although, as you may know, the Althouse rule against shorts does have a fabulousness exception. But Althouse does not exercise the power of the state enforcing any dress codes. I am a state actor as a state law school professor, but I've never articulated or enforced any classroom dress code. My "men in shorts" comments are solely blog-based, offered up in an effort to help men look like men and not like children.

On this topic of medical devices and tubing... I assume there are a lot of people who have things like this under their clothing and do not want it to show and that tubing is routinely covered up. Does anyone with medical experience have a fact-based opinion on the lawyer's argument that it was "prohibitive to wear" pants?

UPDATE: The judge is disciplined.

"Chelsea Clinton is pregnant. Do you ponder how this will impact Hillary’s 2016 plans?"

"Then you’re stupid or sexist or both."

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade writes:
I notice, when I go to the link, that the next item down is about sexually harassing interns.
Oh! Indeed:
* Sexually harassing unpaid interns with the full protection of the law was fun while it lasted in New York. [Slate]
My original link goes to an Above the Law feature titled "Non-Sequiturs"... which suggests the sequence means nothing. I guess it's a bit like saying "no pun intended" to nudge people to see you've made a pun or "Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental" to get a laugh, as The 3 Stooges did in "You Nazty Spy" ("Any resemblance between the characters in this picture and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle") and "I'll Never Heil Again" ("The characters in this picture are fictitious. Anyone resembling them is better off dead").

"It’s time the states in the West come of age."

"We’re every bit as capable of managing the lands in our boundaries as the states east of Colorado."

"Many tribal courts cannot afford their own public defender and have only 'advocates' without law degrees to defend the accused."

"The Yaquis wouldn’t have been given the green light from the Justice Department to launch the pilot project without Acosta, a longtime public defender...."
Acosta’s office recently filed motions with the tribal court to dismiss the first three tribal arrests of non-Indian men, arguing that the tribe did not properly implement the new law, including notifying the public of its new jurisdiction over domestic violence cases.
The "new law" is an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act, which you can read here. It seems to have been adopted to pick up the slack for U.S. attorneys who are said to have declined to prosecute too many of the cases arising out of domestic violence by non-tribe members on Indian tribal lands.

From that second link, we see the requirements that the tribal court protect "defendants' rights under federal law," including due process, effective assistance of counsel, "Free, appointed, licensed attorneys for indigent defendants," and "a fair cross-section of the community in jury pools and not systematically exclude non-Indians."

"We like to think of the men and women whose struggle led to Brown v. Board of Education as democratic idealists..."

"... but their motivations were more complex: if the efforts to upend Jim Crow reflected idealism, it was a cynical idealism," writes Jelani Cobb in a New Yorker article titled "The Failure of Desegregation."

"People under 35 have especially spurned the game..."

"... saying it takes too long to play, is too difficult to learn and has too many tiresome rules."

What game are we talking about? Think and take the poll before going here for the source of the quote.

What is this game that young folks spurn because it takes too long, is hard to learn, and has too many rules?
pollcode.com free polls 

Kicking, hitting, knocking, mocking...

"Remember, there's always a theme. It's just a matter of you pulling it all together."

"I told my mom that if I get kicked off sometime, I’m gonna get a teepee and just live in the woods for a few days and get out of the city..."

"... ’cause I’m all about the outdoors and stuff. But I’m going to keep my singing career and hopefully have a hunting show one day. That’s my dream, my big dream. I want to try to get, like, turkeys and ducks and whitetails, stuff like that. I’m gonna hit up Nashville...."

It's interesting — the specificity of a young person's vision of modest success and how to deal with it.

Knocking the cover off the baseball, literally.

Not a metaphor.

Obama treats Keystone as the political football he apparently thinks it is.

I like the football metaphor in the Time headline: "Obama Punts On Keystone Pipeline."

ADDED: Wikipedia has an article on "Political football." It quotes William Safire's "Political Dictionary" definition — "To thrust a social, national security, or otherwise ostensibly non-political matter into partisan politics" — and displays this 1889 cartoon satirizing the doings of the Benjamin Harrison administration:

The caption is: "What can I do when both parties insist on kicking?"

AND: The (unlinkable) OED traces the term back to 1833 (and I assume it's not what Americans call "football")
1833   Essex Standard (Colchester) 9 Nov.,   Out-generalled by every petty state that choses [sic] to make it worth its while to deceive us—the political football of Europe—England.
The second example has a mixed metaphor:
1841   Congressional Globe 30 Jan. 119/1   These lands were nothing but a bone of contention—a political football, bandied about first by one party and than the other.
That example makes me wonder not only about the origin of "bone of contention" but also "bandy."  "Bone of contention" is (obviously) something that people fight over the way dogs fight over a bone. But does "bandy" inject a third metaphor into the mix?

"To those who see an inconsistency in this column's criticizing Obama for using a gag we've employed in the past..."

"... let us clarify things with a Shermanesque answer to a question nobody is asking: We promise that we will never run for, or serve as, president."

Says James Taranto, addressing my mockery of Obama for using the "stages of grief" meme to mock Republicans, a meme Taranto has himself employed to mock Obama.

April 18, 2014

"Chicago has come up with a really big idea to boost tourism: giant puppets roaming the city's streets for days..."

"... in an elaborate theatrical presentation... including a giant elephant that sprays water on spectators, and a 30-foot little girl. The characters act out a play over the course of days, incorporating locales throughout the city as backdrops."

"... I really expect Limbaugh and all the wannabees to scream bloody murder that Chelsea's announcement was staged, a set-up plot which is being aided by the librul media to cover up Benghazzzzzzzziiii!"

John Amato smelt it.

"If I live to be 100, I’m never going to be a fan of the flowers-in-the-pubic-hair episode."

"But Lawrence’s attempts at describing the transcendent possibilities of 'warmhearted' sex no longer seemed quite so ludicrous. Next to the 'yuk' I had scribbled as a 20-year-old, there now stands a new note: 'Not so bad after all.'"

Why is New York willing to throw its Electoral College votes to the Republican presidential candidate?

"N.P.V. is a good idea for all sorts of high-minded civic reasons," Hendrik Hertzberg instructs us, on the occasion of New York signing onto the National Popular Vote interstate compact.
When an election is for a single office and only one candidate can win, it’s obviously outrageous when the candidate who gets more votes somehow loses to the one who gets fewer. But that doesn’t happen very often — "only" four of our thirty-nine elected Presidents, including "only" one of the two most recent, made it to the White House despite the citizenry’s preference for somebody else. What’s more outrageous is what happens every time: four-fifths of the states are ignored in the general election.
But that's what happens without the compact! You have to picture what would happen with it.

There are now 10 states in the compact — Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Rhode Island, and New York — plus the District of Columbia, representing 165 electoral votes. The commitment to switch a state's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote will kick in once a total of 270 electoral votes are represented by the states committed to switching. 270 is the majority needed to win, so the plan won't go into effect until the states in the plan have the power to determine that the national vote winner will in fact win.

Jerry Lewis explains the analysis of gestures.

Johnny Depp, "uploaded onto the Internet... expands like the universe, growing larger and mutating..."

".... into a being who is godlike and yet far from divine," in the "predictable and ridiculous" movie "Transcendence."

Movies about computers... are they ever any good?

John Edwards comes full circle: He's a medical malpractice lawyer representing a little child.

Edwards represents a 4-year-old Virginia boy who allegedly suffered brain damage during surgery.

For reference, here's the January 2004 NYT article "In Trial Work, Edwards Left A Trademark":
In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl.

Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, Mr. Edwards told the jury: ''She said at 3, 'I'm fine.' She said at 4, 'I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing O.K.' Five, she said, 'I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, 'I need out.' ''...

''She speaks to you through me,'' the lawyer went on in his closing argument. ''And I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you.''
Those were the days, when John Edwards was in his depth. It was 1985, and he was fine. By October 2007, he was saying I'm having a little trouble. In 2011, he was saying I need out. He speaks to you through me. I didn't plan to blog about this, but right now I feel him. I feel him inside me... Ugh! Get out of me, you creepy old man. Back to your malpractice practice, speaking in the voice of brain-damaged children, springing open the hearts of fully brained, but mushy jurors in some cloistered little courtroom in a southern state.

"You should kiss the ground you walk on if you were born in this country — take it from an old man who once had to wear the Star of David on his shirt."

"There's a safety to living in such a diverse place. It's much more difficult to brainwash a population that is composed of so many different nationalities and so many different viewpoints."

"Proof That Typos Are Racist."

"The partner evaluators found an average of 2.9 spelling and grammar errors for the ‘Caucasian’ authors and 5.8 such errors for the ‘African American’ authors."

Labs photobomb a corgi.

For the corgi's more dignified self-presentation, see "Don Diego el Guapo," at Dogging Meade.

"In our quasi-religious fervor to compete, we have expected fabulous efficiencies, miraculous economies, infinite creativity, and dazzling innovation."

"Instead, we have found ourselves gasping for air in a sea of corruption, dysfunction, environmental degradation, waste, disenchantment and inequality—and the harder we compete, the more unequal we become."

So writes Margaret Hefferman in "A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition," which is trashed in The Wall Street Journal by Marc Levinson.

"Hard Choices" is the title of Hillary Clinton's forthcoming book about her time as Secretary of State.

1. We could talk about the title, which, like the similar title "Decision Points" (George W. Bush's book), suggests there will be a sequence of narratives highlighting the author's role as decisionmaker. I wonder how hard they thought about the word hard, which — like "bossy" and "shrill" — seems to be one of those words used to insinuate that a woman is insufficiently feminine. Why write "hard" across the image of a woman? You've got to know that's going to bring out the haters. Which is why it's bait. If you take it, you'll be called a sexist. As for "Choices" — choice is a buzz word in the War on Women. Would you take away a woman's Right to Choose, including this woman's right to choose to be the one to choose everything that the most powerful person in the world gets to choose for all of us? If so, shame on you, you enemy in the War on Women.

2. I could prompt you to pre-order the book here, which would work as a way to show your support for the hard, shrill, bossy woman who writes this blog, amusing you day after day, year after year, making the relatively simple choices about what to blog — like Hillary's book title — and how to blog it — like a list of how something only marginally bloggable could be blogged and could stir up antagonism toward the blogger by warriors on both sides of the War on Women. That's not as easy as you might think.

3. I could detour into the territory of the contemporaneous announcement of the coming grandmotherhood of Hillary, the aging woman, the woman whose oldness the rightest of the right-wingers — Rush Limbaugh and Stephen Colbert — have warned us about.

Suddenly — oh! — she's a granny! I'm assuming the Chelsea pregnancy isn't a hoax, some manufactured PR. There have been rumors of the fakeness of all things Chelsea for years. Maybe some people will take that bait, and what a glorious skirmish that would make in the abovementioned war. But the more obvious bait, the bait Drudge took is the old Hillary-is-old/Old-women-are-worthless meme, and the Hillary PR people, I presume, want the anti-Hillary folk to say exactly that. War on Women, baby!

4. We could read the press release, and I know what you are looking for: Benghazi!!! What "hard choices" did she make there?, I hear you asking, out there on the internet. How dare she purport to sell us a book, dragging us through her elaborate challenges and the "hard choices" she made when she snapped "What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?" at the Senators who wanted to know. If it doesn't make a difference, why write a book? A book about the past. The past is past. What difference does it make? From the press release:
Secretary Clinton and President Obama had to decide how to repair fractured alliances, wind down two wars, and address a global financial crisis.... [T]hey grappled with some of the toughest dilemmas of US foreign policy, especially the decision to send Americans into harm’s way, from Afghanistan to Libya to the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Libya, AKA Benghazi. The decision made was to send Americans into harm’s way. To send them. After they got there, well... they knew where they were going, and a hard choice was made to send them there.

5. The press release begins with the line that we're told begins the book: "All of us face hard choices in our lives." And "Life is about making these choices, and how we handle them shapes the people we become." Perfectly banal, yet perfectly ready to make Hillary a perfect guest for all the daytime talk shows aimed at women. Contentless, cushy-soft, self-help psychological material. About all of us. Aren't we all really the same? My choices, your choices, choices for you and me, choices for me by you. We become the choices we make, don't we? Maybe you feel a revulsion at pap like that, but the country is full of voters, many of whom think with their feelings, and if last time boyfriend Barack captured their emotions, maybe this time Hillary can be their best girlfriend.

ADDED: 6. "Hard" is a variation on "not easy," the key words in Hillary's greatest moment in presidential campaigning and gender politics:
"It's not easy, it's not easy," Clinton said shaking her head. Her eyes began to get watery as she finished answering the question, "I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. This is very personal for me. I have so many ideas for this country and I just don't want to see us fall backwards. It's about our country, it's about our kids' future," she said softly crying, her voice breaking.

April 17, 2014

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Col. Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

"At that time Macondo was a village of 20 adobe houses built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.”


Goodbye to Gabriel García Marquez.

Obama says the Republican Party, on Obamacare, "has gone through the stages of grief — anger and denial and all that stuff."

I transcribed that from the press conference that's going on right now. He's answering a question about whether there could be some legislative amendments to the Affordable Care Act, to deal with some flaws, and he's saying that nothing can be done until Republicans change their attitude. They need to get through their "stages of grief" "stuff." Why the Kübler-Ross model? It's that meme that the Republicans are dying! They need to deal with their death, eh?!

Well, the first stage, which Obama put second of the 2 stages he bothered to enumerate before resorting to "all that stuff," is denial, and of course, the Republicans are going to deny that they are dying. As for anger, that's stage 2, and why shouldn't a political party get angry over its setbacks and want to fight for what it believes? Obviously, in life, when we are actually dying, getting angry is a stage, because anger isn't going to conquer death. But this is politics, not dying, and plainly the fire will rage on.

The stages Obama failed to enumerate are: 3. bargaining, 4. depression, and 5. acceptance. Maybe he didn't want to say bargaining, because he doesn't want his party to have to bargain with the other side. He just wants the GOP to get over it. The analogy to dying is, once again, terrible. Because in the stages of death scenario, the dying person seeks to avert death by somehow finding a way to make a deal, perhaps with God. Obama doesn't want to talk about deal-making. He wants the Republicans to give up and die already.

As for depression, I guess he's hoping the GOP will reach that point, but that's unlikely in this election year, and clearly he knows it. Ditto acceptance. But let's not talk about "all that stuff."

By the way, the Kübler-Ross model isn't too scientific. And to tell someone who's angry and unaccepting of a political situation that they should go away until they've accepted what is being done to them sounds to me like taunting and bullying. There's absolutely no reason why they should back down because some of their emotions correspond to Kübler-Ross's (bogus) stages. You're saying if someone doesn't believe that a political cause is dying or feels angry at the idea that it's dying, all you need to do is wait out the process, because bargaining and depression need to occur and then you win because finally there will be acceptance. Infuriating nonsense! It only intensifies and justifies the anger. Your opponents aren't just going through a "stage," and you sound inert and supercilious talking about them that way.

"An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck..."

"Balal, black-hooded and standing on a chair before a makeshift gallows, had the noose around his neck when [the mother, Samereh] Alinejad approached."
“I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place… After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer... The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down,” she said. “Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.”

Balal said the “slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness.”

"Hollywood has a problem with the sexual exploitation of children."

"This is the first of many cases I will be filing to give these victims a voice and to expose the issue."

"Tell Ruth she needs to get on the stick and that the next election cycle is around the corner."

"This is obviously a wonderful idea (that’s why we suggested it). I think you told Greg all you can tell him, unless you want to tell him that we’re taking guidance plan suggestions.”

The "Smoking Gun" in the IRS scandal.

"The Many Ways in Which The New Book About the Duke Lacrosse Case is Wrong."

A Stuart Taylor Jr. article at The New Republic (about the book "The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities"). Excerpt:
Sensational smears based on false information aside, the absence of new evidence does not deter [William D.] Cohan from seeking to spin his own tendentious characterizations of old evidence—often contradicted by other evidence elsewhere in the book—into dark Nifongesque innuendos of sexual assault, or "something."

"Beards Are Less Attractive When They’re Everywhere."

A headline that invites amusing visualizations sits atop a rather banal article at FiveThirtyEight that tells us that once too many men have beards a clean-shaven guy seems even more attractive than he would if fewer men had beards.

There's no discussion of the underlying concern: Men with relatively weak chins have more to gain from adopting the beard look, and when beards are in style, it's more likely that the men who defy the trend (and go to the trouble of shaving) are the ones with the best-looking jawlines.

Can we get some more statistics and analysis on that, 538?

Meanwhile, I'm just thinking about what the world would look like if beards were literally everywhere. Beyond "less attractive"... horrifying.

BONUS: Datable Beard Man Generator.

"It’s new Russia. Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in czarist times..."

"... they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows. Then for various reasons these areas were gone, and the people stayed there — we need to encourage them to find a solution."

"Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy, I used to be working for an intelligence service, we are going to talk one professional language."

Said Putin to Edward Snowden... on "live TV."
"We don’t have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist..."
Said Putin, making a statement about law that to me — a person who has studied and thought about law for 30+ years — makes no sense. How does law cause something not to exist? Why is there murder? It's against the law.

To be fair, Putin spoke Russian, and we're reading a translation, and the next statement reveals that Putin knows he can do things that violate the law:
"But we do not have a mass scale uncontrollable efforts like that, I hope we won’t do that and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States, and we don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States."
Does he really "hope" his government "won't" do that or is he just acknowledging that it can't do that (but he would if he could)? It seems like he's saying his ability to resist U.S.-style "mass scale uncontrollable efforts" is not currently being tested since he doesn't have the money or the technology, but if he did, he'd like to think that he would not do it... or — really — he'd like us to think that he wouldn't do it. But trust him, because he doesn't even have the capacity to do it, so the will to do it doesn't matter.
Putin said that Russian special forces did use surveillance to thwart terrorists and criminals, but that it was regulated. “Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law,” he concluded.
So there he goes, back to the ludicrously unbelievable demand that we trust law (and society)... and Russian law at that.

If we can't trust American law and society, why would we trust Russian law and society? Is there some value in referring to the belief in law? It challenges us Americans to make our law work and mean something so a poseur like Putin can't get in cheap shots like this. And it does set Putin up as someone who wants prestige through adhering to law, and that might be leveraged somehow to some small bit of good. But let's be realistic about all of this.

And what do with think of Snowden's performance as a pawn in this game?

"Four percent of Americans are newly insured this year, reporting that they have health insurance now but did not last year."

"A little more than half of that group, or 2.1% of the U.S. population, got their new insurance through health exchanges."

I once had a dog...

... or should I say, dog once had me?

"It don't get no better" says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka referring to Elizabeth Warren.

Do you like the rhetorical use of the double negative? I can't get no satisfaction from some rich and powerful guy deploying the old double negative device as a way of seeming close to the working-class folk he represents.

There's much more to say about double negatives. (Check out the Wikipedia article on the topic. Do you know when a double negative is litotes?) What I want to talk about is what Trumka says can't get better. The "it" in "it don't get no better" is not Warren herself. Trumka doesn't commit the offense of referring to a woman as "it."

Trumka is talking about who ought to serve as President of the United States, and his preceding sentence is: "She has a very well defined set of values and unlike many politicians, she actually sticks by those values and fights to implement them." So the "it" that "can't get no better" is the quality of having a very well-defined set of values and sticking by them and fighting to implement them.

At some extreme, we're talking about an ideologue, a person who resists new information and who closes her mind to changing circumstances and practical realities. But the point at which we disqualify a candidate as an ideologue depends on whether we are averse to the particular well-defined set of values that person is sticking by and fighting for.

Is Elizabeth Warren an ideologue? Is Scott Walker?

"You allow anonymous comments?"

I ask Meade, about his new blog, his all-dog blog, which got an Instalanche yesterday.

Meade: "Yeah, but they're moderated. I only approved them if they're nice."

Me: "But would you allow some comments that weren't nice?"

Meade: "Um, yeah. I said not 'nice' but what I really meant was not mean or nasty. Like I just approved one: 'Yes, but what do they taste like?' So that was funny. Maybe: Don't offend the people who have the dog."

It's an evolving standard, moderating comments. I've only switched to moderation all the time recently (after a period of on-and-off moderation, after a very long period of no moderation because the moderation function was broken), so I hadn't given any thought in many years to allowing anonymous commenters.

Anonymous commenters might be the very people that you delete all the time when you see them in moderation. And in Meade's method, those people could get through, but only if they are nice or funny or whatever suits the evolving standard. It's comment-specific moderation, not name specific. They can't build up a troll persona to get off on.

Trolls aside, there are some people who just can't figure out how to register in an account that lets them comment (either Google or something accepted by Open ID). I get email from such people sometimes. (They always seem to be professors, in case you were thinking they must be quite dumb.) And obviously, some people, even using a pseudonym, are sensitive about having names connected to their comments.

At my colleague Nina's blog, where comments must pass through moderation, anonymity isn't accepted, on the specified ground she only wants to hear from readers "if they feel they can stand behind their words." She adds "I do not seek a free-for-all here. I like camaraderie far more than conflict," and that may suggest that she doesn't want the experience of reading mean and nasty comments, even when she can prevent them from ever seeing the light of blog.

By the way, speaking of Meade's dog blogging, Nina has been doing a lot of chicken blogging, not that hers has become an all-chicken blog.

April 16, 2014

Is Scott Walker the front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2016?

Power Line asks, after a new poll shows him with a 16-point lead in his reelection campaign.
Revealingly, Walker fares well in an electorate that does not seem particularly conservative and that, if anything, appears to be slightly to the left of American voters in general...

The buzz among Republican accompanying a big Walker victory [in November 2014] would probably dwarf the considerable buzz that followed Chris Christie’s runaway win in New Jersey. 
Walker may do very well here in Wisconsin, but is he ready for the national scene? Power Line says Walker has "more humility and less bravado" than Christie and presents this as a reason he's "a less inviting target than Christie." Of course, Walker is completely different from Christie, but if he's the front-runner, he's the target. No invitation needed. He'll be attacked, just not in the same way as Christie. Christie is the loud-mouth braggart from the East Coast, which rubs many Americans the wrong way. But the modest, nice-enough guy from the Midwest... does America get that?

Here's Walker's newest ad. Check it out. He's barely even in it:

"How the President Got to ‘I Do’ on Same-Sex Marriage."

A big NYT Magazine article by Jan Becker. Excerpt:
Despite the president’s stated opposition, even his top advisers didn’t believe that he truly opposed allowing gay couples to marry. “He has never been comfortable with his position,” David Axelrod, then one of his closest aides, told me....

“The politics of authenticity — not just the politics, but his own sense of authenticity — required that he finally step forward,” Axelrod said. “And the president understood that.”
Much more at the link.

ADDED: The Politics of Authenticity? Is that anything like the Politics of Meaning?
Mrs. Clinton recently criticized the way American society rewards selfishness and stigmatizes idealism, publicly embracing my call for a politics of meaning that addresses the way this society thwarts our deepest ethical, spiritual and psychological needs.
"Recently" = 1993.

The SAT is obviating obscure words.

"Instead, the focus will be on what the College Board calls 'high utility' words that appear in many contexts, in many disciplines — often with shifting meanings — and they will be tested in context."
For example, a question based on a passage about an artist who “vacated” from a tradition of landscape painting, asks whether it would be better to substitute the word “evacuated,” “departed” or “retired,” or to leave the sentence unchanged. (The right answer is “departed.”)
ADDED: The new form of question is quite good... unless the intent is to take away an advantage held by young people who grow up with parents who speak well. It is relatively easy, I would think, to study lists of difficult vocabulary words and tricks about how to figure out the meaning of a word — e.g., matutinal — from its parts. It is much harder to study the way words appear in context. Yes, you can pick that up through reading a lot of well-written material, but words in context fill the environment of young people with educated, articulate parents present in the home, having conversations. The way words appear in context is, for them, deeply ingrained, easy, and natural.

Perhaps the idea of the change is to disadvantage the overachieving, drudge-like student.

"Why isn't this the subject of a post?"

Asks Unknown in yesterday's "April snow," and I say:
I'm not a news feed. And I don't post on everything about Dylan.

It didn't hit the level of interestingness that I was demanding at the point in my blogging day when I saw the story.
What is the sound of one hand clapping? And what is a post about posting about not posting and my posting about not posting and then posting that? Unknown!

ADDED: If I was going to do a post about Bob Dylan, it would be "Check Out Bob Dylan's NSFW Magazine Cover Designs."

"A song like 'Under the Bridge,' really loud, on a loop, is torturous... Maybe some people think our music's annoying. I don't care, but you know...."

The Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith was confronted in a parking lot and pushed to opine on a news report (which you can read here) that the CIA used Red Hot Chili Peppers music — looped and loud — to torment the Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah.

This is my own transcription from the video at the first link. Smith starts out slow and inarticulate:
"I heard that they they they like used like more you know like industr- like hard rock like metal you know like like or just you know that's that's I'm mean that whole thing just..." 
The reporter gets him to talk straight with the question "Do you approve?"
"No! Of course not! Our music's positive, man, it's supposed to make people feel good and that's that's that's it's very upsetting to me. I don't like that at all."
The reporter pushes him to go on the offense against the government, perhaps in a copyright infringement mode, with "You guys should have to sign off on something like that." Smith is merely resigned:
"It's the government."
The reporter tries another angle: "What song could they have possibly used?"
"A song like 'Under the Bridge,' really loud, on a loop, is torturous... Maybe some people think our music's annoying. I don't care, but you know, it's a poor use of..."
Smith stops in the middle of his thought, nods his head about 5 or 6 times, and concludes:
"They shouldn't do that, they shouldn't be doing any of that shit. It's horrible. Ugh. I just ate. I don't wanna like throw up."

Finland issues stamps honoring an artist whose "sleek sado-masochistic drawings with abundant amounts of beefy male nudity" portrayed "a sensual life force and being proud of oneself."

The first quote in this post title is the way the NYT described the work of Touko Laaksonen, AKA Tom of Finland, and the second quote is from someone in Finland who chose the particular images for the stamps, who added: "There is never too much [sensual life force and being proud of oneself] in this northern country."

I'm showing more of the stamps than the NYT saw fit to print in its pages, though it did link here, where I got this:

The NYT just had a cropped image of the man on the left, in the center. The cropped image includes the emphatically glistening nipple. As for the image on the right, the NYT says it "depicts a mustachioed man staring out from below a pair of muscled naked buttocks." 

Staring out from below, indeed. "Why is that mustachioed man staring at us from behind a naked ass, Mommy?," I imagine a child asking, as she picks up the mail somewhere in Finland. Mommy says: "Why, darling, it's because we're living in a northern country, and our government cares very much about our life force and our pride in ourselves. Doesn't this make you feel alive and proud, sweetheart, in spite of having to live in Finland?"

I'm sorry. That's a very unrealistic scenario. No child would use the NYT-y phrase "mustachioed man staring out from below a pair of muscled naked buttocks." 1. "Mustachioed" is a silly word, particularly silly when — from what I've seen so far — every man Tom of Finland depicted has a mustache. 2. Are those buttocks particularly "muscled," or is the NYT just mindlessly crediting Tom with making his men even more attractive than he was obviously straining to make them? 3. The bodiless head isn't really in a "staring out from behind" relationship with the headless body. It's more of a surreal image in which the head takes the place of what would be a very large scrotum.

Those are my insights from the northern country of Wisconsin, where blogging random items early in the morning is enough to stir my sensual life force and make me proud of myself.

"I was always told that art was good for me, but until recently I didn’t know what it was good for. What is good?"

"What is good in the U.S.A. is health and health products," wrote Alexander Melamid, who opened art-health storefront clinic back in 2011. You need to think about whether you are getting the right dosage of art and the right art for your particular ailment:
“[W]hen you go to a museum.... you have to be very discreet. You don’t want overexposure — that’s as dangerous as to take too many medicines. Art needs to be taken in moderation and according to a specialist who can prescribe the right dosage.”...
“If you have hay fever, you go to see Claude Monet, that’s for sure. For your problem I would recommend Paul Cézanne. When you go to the museum, don’t look around much. Go direct to Paul Cézanne. It’s very powerful painting, but in a way it’s also pacifying.”

For some additional, on-the-spot relief, Mr. Melamid zapped the patient right on the forehead with a projection of one of Modigliani’s reclining nudes. “Close your eyes,” he instructed. “Naked girl, beautiful girl. But will not arouse your emotions, because it’s elongated.”

April 15, 2014

Dogs, dogs, dogs.

Check out Dogging Meade, Meade's new blog with lots and lots of dog photos. All dogs all the time.

"Now that we know the basic probabilities of individual tags... how often do a deciduous tree and a coniferous tree appear in the same painting?"

"We know that 57 percent of paintings contain a deciduous tree and 53 percent of paintings contain a coniferous tree. According to our data set, 20 percent of paintings contain at least one of each.... We know that 44 percent of Ross’s paintings contain clouds, 9 percent contain the beach and 7 percent contain both the clouds and the beach. We can use this information to figure out two things..."

So here's FiveThirtyEight endeavoring, as promised, to help us understand things through statistical analysis, and I can use this "A Statistical Analysis of the Work of Bob Ross" to figure out 2 things: 1. Calmly coasting cozily with expertise applied where it doesn't really matter can provide observers with relaxing comfortable lightweight pleasure, and 2. It doesn't really matter whether I'm talking, as I blog comfortably, cozily, floatingly, about Bob Ross or FiveThirtyEight.

The actor Liam Neeson defends horse-drawn carriages in Central Park: "I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue."

"A majority of carriage drivers and stable hands are recent immigrants, often raised on farms in their home countries."
They love their jobs and their horses, and they take pride in being ambassadors for this great city. I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue: Their livelihoods are now at risk because the animal-rights opponents of the industry are well funded by real-estate interests, which has led to speculation that this powerful lobby wishes to develop the West Side properties occupied by the stables.
Interesting class politics. Neeson's target is NY's left-wing mayor, Bill De Blasio, who Neeson says should at least "come down to the stables and see how the horses are cared for" and "meet the working men and women whose jobs are at stake."

The linked op-ed is in the NYT, where the comments seem to be running against De Blasio.

Dick Morris says Bill Clinton "hated" Janet Reno but wouldn't oust her because he feared "she would tell the truth about what happened in Waco."

"Reno threatened the president with telling the truth about Waco, and that caused the president to back down."
"Then he went into a meeting with her, and he told me that she begged and pleaded, saying that . . . she didn't want to be fired because if she were fired it would look like he was firing her over Waco... And I knew that what that meant was that she would tell the truth about what happened in Waco.

"Now, to be fair, that's my supposition. I don't know what went on in Waco, but that was the cause. But I do know that she told him that if you fire me, I'm going to talk about Waco."
Morris was on TV to discuss the Cliven Bundy incident. What bad luck for Hillary: It has people needing to talk about Waco again.

Which we were already getting back to Waco because of that Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker, "Sacred and Profane: How not to negotiate with believers." But that Gladwell article doesn't mention Bill Clinton or even Janet Reno, and certainly not Hillary.

By the way, Janet Reno still walks the face of the earth. It's not too late to tell whatever truth she may have suppressed to keep her job. What is Morris saying? First, the point seems to be that Reno convinced Clinton that to oust her would give rise to inferences that he believed his administration had done something wrong in Waco. Then Morris adds his inference of what he "knew" it "mean": that there was some "truth" that had been suppressed that would come out.

But Reno's argument didn't require that there be anything more to tell, and Morris knows that, because he goes right to his "to be fair" remark. He doesn't know. And if there was some suppressed truth Reno could tell, why hasn't she told it yet? One answer is that she doesn't want to tell on herself, but that would have been true at the point when she was begging and pleading to keep her job.

"No, what we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable..."

"... to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him. This man is Rand Paul, the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes. The man who, as of this writing, has three years worth of experience in elected office. Barack Obama had more political experience when he ran for president. That's worked out well."

Bret Stephens gets very sarcastic in The Wall Street Journal.

"Yet Another Law School Is Offering Buyouts To Its Tenured Professors."

"Which law school put this offer on the table, and how many professors are expected to take it?"

"We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front... If they are going to start shooting..."

"... it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."

"I was having the best beaver experience of my life and I was not about to leave it early."

Even with his wife standing over there, watching him through binoculars.

Via Metafilter.

BUT: Remember: "'Man tries to take photo of beaver; it kills him.' Take a lesson, men."

April snow, sunrise.

It was Meade, not I, who ventured out into the 22° air to catch the first light.

Responding to a customer complaint, the official US Airways Twitter feed sends out a picture of a naked woman holding a toy plane.

"The tweet was deleted after approximately an hour but not before it had been retweeted hundreds of times."

I'm linking to BBC.com, where the story is ranked as #1 on the sidebar "Most Popular" list under the teaser "US Airways apologises for porn tweet."

Come on, the tweet was incredibly foolish — and a good reminder of the inherent danger of relying on some lower-down writer-drudge to man the Twitter feed — but it was not porn. A photograph of a naked person isn't porn.

Wait! I was relying on the BBC description of the photograph: "a naked woman and a toy plane." Then, I went looking for the photograph. I must say that it is porn. (NSFW: here.) The woman is holding the plane in a very special place.

ADDED: And by NSFW, I mean not safe for anybody.

"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender."

Said the Supreme Court...

Tax morning, snowfall.

The view from 3 floors up:

April 14, 2014

"Glow in the dark road..."

"... unveiled in the Netherlands."
"I thought that was updating an old idea, and I forced them to look at movies of jellyfish. How does a jellyfish give light? It has no solar panel, it has no energy bill. And then we went back to the drawing board and came up with these paints which charge up in the daytime and give light at night."

"That was the comment from the wasteland of the country — waistline, sorry. Can I do that joke again?"

"What Rush Limbaugh says is about as far away from anything I would be interested in as anything I can imagine unless it were Dick Cheney."

Who won the Pulitzer Prize?

Here's the full list. What jumps out at me is that no award was given in the "feature writing" category. The nominees were:
Scott Farwell of The Dallas Morning News
For his story about a young woman's struggle to live a normal life after years of ghastly child abuse, an examination of human resilience in the face of depravity.

Christopher Goffard of Los Angeles Times
For his account of an ex-police officer’s nine-day killing spree in Southern California, notable for its pacing, character development and rich detail.

Mark Johnson of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
For his meticulously told tale about a group of first-year medical students in their gross anatomy class and the relationships they develop with one another and the nameless corpse on the table, an account enhanced by multimedia elements.
So: 1. human resilience in the face of depravity, 2. pacing, character development and rich detail, and 3. meticulously told tale with multimedia elements. Pick one! I pick the Wisconsin one, which you can read here:
As the professors move about demonstrating proper technique, a difference becomes clear. The students cut delicately, almost tentatively.

The professors cut briskly. They tug at skin. They dig their fingers beneath muscle or other tissue in order to reach the structures beneath.

"The idea is to find the things," explains associate professor, David Bolender, addressing the students at Table 1. "You don't need to make the dissection look like a picture in an atlas." 
Find things!

ADDED: The NYT puts up a slide show for the photography winners, Tyler Hicks (for breaking news, covering the attack on the mall in Nairobi) and Josh Haner (for feature photography showing the recovery of persons injured in the Boston Marathon bombing). Beautiful work by both Hicks and Haner. I am in awe.

The Crack Emcee is on the radio again.

Listen here. [UPDATE: The live broadcast is over now. But you can stream or download it here.]

With Uncle Ray. And here's the link to Ray's top 100 albums of all time, which they are counting down. Ray asks Crack what would be on Crack's top 100 albums of all time, and Crack says "Zappa, Zappa, and more Zappa."

ADDED: "What do you have in South Central for breakfast?" asks Ray, and Crack says: "Toast." Later: "How about bread, oatmeal, and hot dogs for breakfast?"

AND: Crack and Ray are debating the age-old music question: "Tusk" or "Rumours"?

UPDATE: Crack says "Meade, Ann, this is for you," as the Aretha Franklin track (from "Lady Soul," #59) begins, and I get the joke, which is that one time I used the word "bellyaching" to describe soul music, and he's never let me forget it. I think the context of my remark was that when I was a teenager in the 1960s, I preferred music that felt more like it was about teenagers in love than the heavy, troubled relationships of adults. Ah, here it is. It all started when Meade was playing the the Garnet Mimms version of "Cry Baby," and I said:
I remember when that song... was on the radio. It was 1963. I was 12. I listened to top 40 AM radio, and I liked the songs that felt like they were about teenagers. There was a brightness and a happiness to the songs that dominated the top 40. Even the songs about crying. The biggest song about crying in 1963 was "It's My Party." Lesley Gore is gloriously triumphant in her claim of the right to cry.

"Cry Baby" seemed to come from a dreary 1950s world of old people and their problems. Meade says he loved music like that. Maybe that look into the weighty, complicated lives of adults was enticing to some really young radio listeners, but I wanted it on a different station. Here, I said, here's my answer to that "Cry Baby":
[Embedded video: The Pretenders, "Stop Your Sobbing."]
I love the original Kinks version too, and you'd better believe I had all the early Kinks albums. Kinks, Kinda Kinks, and Kinks Kontroversy. I still love that kind of [kinda] thing. It still appeals to me more than the anguished bellyaching of soul music.
Boldface added.

John Wayne "upbraided star Kirk Douglas for playing the part of Vincent van Gogh like a 'weak queer.'"

"How can you play a part like that? There’s so few of us left. We got to play strong, tough characters," Wayne said.
“It’s all make-believe, John,” a dumbfounded Douglas replied. “It isn’t real. You’re not really John Wayne, you know.”
Here's a clip from "Lust for Life," the movie that brought out the homophobia in John Wayne. Vincent and his dinner date, Gauguin/Anthony Quinn, are having a nice conversation about which other artists to invite to their French country home, and when Vincent brings up Millet — Millet! — it erupts into a lover's quarrel about art and emotion. Vincent adores Millet, who, he says, "uses paint to express the word of God," and Gauguin snaps that "he should have been a preacher, not a painter." Then it's on to "If there's one thing I despise, it's emotionalism in painting," a none-too-subtle attack on Vincent that escalates into accusations of the "You paint too fast"/"You look too fast" kind.

"Collapses occur when people lose confidence. That is now happening in China."

"Premier Li Keqiang has a few tools at his disposal, but they look insufficient to stop a general collapse of property prices across the country."
The problems, deferred from late 2008 with massive state spending, have simply become too large. And we must remember that he works inside a complex, collective political system that is generally unable to meet challenges swiftly.

Wisconsin GOP convention will vote on "Wisconsin's right, under extreme circumstances, to secede."

"A version of the so-called 'state sovereignty' resolution was first OK'd last month by one of the state GOP's eight regional caucuses as an assertion of the state's 10th Amendment rights," Daniel Bice reports in the Milwaukee State Journal.
Top Republican officials hoped to kill the fringe proposal during a meeting of the resolutions panel at the Hyatt Hotel in Milwaukee on April 5. Instead, the committee made a few edits to the resolution and adopted it on a split vote....
Governor Scott Walker said: "I don't think that one aligns with where most Republican officials are in the state of Wisconsin — certainly not with me."

"Folks in Pleasant Grove, Utah, say they knew her pretty well. But somehow they didn’t know her well enough..."

How do people fail to notice 7 full-term pregnancies? Or is it that they don't want to admit that they had 7 extended opportunities to observe that a baby who should have been there was not there and they let it go?

The woman, Megan Huntsman, has left us with a striking and memorable mugshot:

She looks — among other things — surprised. If she did what she's accused of, I can see why she's surprised that what she's been doing has — after 7 iterations — been noticed.

IN THE COMMENTS: Illuninati wrote:
The article doesn't provide enough information to know what happened. Were these the products of miscarriages? Did she kill full term babies?
I answered:
I wrote "full-term" based on the article's saying she's "accused of killing her babies after giving birth to them."

You don't say that a woman who's had a miscarriage has "given birth." But I guess "full-term" assumes they were not premature. Maybe they were premature and born alive but they failed to survive. Perhaps she got pregnant over and over trying to deal with some problem that all the babies had, some medical mystery that she never was able to get help about and she hid the dead bodies out of grief and shame.

April 13, 2014

Did Althouse blog about baseball in the days before she aligned with Meade?

In the comments to the previous post — "Baseball baby" — Chance wrote:
It is interesting to see Meade's effect on Althouse's preferences. I think I've been reading this blog since 2004 and I can't really imagine Althouse watching baseball. The process has been slow and subtle. I'm sure this happens in most relationships, but it is fun to see how it percolates up into the blog.
This is the 203rd post with the tag "baseball," and 26 of them pre-date Meade. What did I blog about baseball, pre-Meade? Here are 16 things:

March 4, 2004: "Should we swoon over John Kerry because he responded to Dowd's culture questions with long, long answers, unlike George Bush, who, asked to name his favorite 'cultural experience,' said 'baseball'?"

June 7, 2005: "I know what it's like to need to breastfeed and be in a situation where there's nowhere private to go. One time, back in the early 80s, I breastfed my baby at the Baseball Hall of Fame. I remember feeling I was doing something really wrong and that I was about to be discovered at any point and treated harshly."

Baseball baby.

Does George Will know what young people today say about race as a joke and that they now find accusations of racism "a national mirth"?

He said this on today's "Fox News Sunday":
Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette's syndrome these days. It's just constantly saying the word "racism" and "racist."...
There is a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn't had a new idea since the 1960s except ObamaCare and the country doesn't like it. Foreign policy is a shambles from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And recovery is unprecedentedly bad. So what do you do? You say anyone who criticizes us is a racist. It's become a joke among young people. You go to a campus where this kind of political correctness reins [sic], and some young person will say looks like it's going to rain. The person listening says, you're a racist. I mean it's so inappropriate. The constant implication of this that it is, I think, becoming a national mirth.
Based on hearing Will's tone of voice, it's clear — I think! — that Will meant it would work amongst today's college kids to say "You're a racist" as a punchline when somebody says something obviously race-neutral (such as "looks like it's going to rain"). "You're a racist" has been overused to the point where it's not just boring or unbelievable, but a laugh line — a national mirth.

Somehow, I find it hard to believe that George Will is out and about at the colleges getting a real feel for what the young folk find amusing. I sort of find it amusing myself to hear George Will purporting to punditize on the subject of current college humor trends, but it's actually not that amusing, because an old white guy declaring the subject of race to have crossed over from serious to some kind of joke — "a national mirth" — really isn't funny.

Andrea Mitchell asks Kathleen Sebelius: "Along the way, what was your low point?"

On "Meet the Press" this morning. And Sebelius said:
Oh, Andrea, it would have to be the time I curled up into a little ball and cried all day. If it weren't for all the ice cream... people say I wasn't good at planning for all the things that could go wrong, but I did have the foresight to load the freezer with chocolate-chip Haagen Dazs... I cried and cried and consoled myself with ice cream and I tell you, Andrea, if it weren't for all that ice cream, I would have committed suicide.
Actually, that's not what Sebelius said. That's what I said watching "Meet the Press" and thinking Andrea Mitchell had resorted to an absurdly girlie question.

What Sebelius actually said was: "Well, I would say that the eight weeks where the site was not functioning well for the vast majority of people was a pretty dismal time. And I was frankly hoping and watching and measuring.... " etc. etc. Pretty dismal, but not emotional in any personal way.

"As the movement grew by the day, and demonstrators rallied together, bonding by campfires at night..."

At the Cliven Bundy standoff...

I'd like to hear more details of the bonding by campfires. I'm not commenting on the underlying dispute between rancher and the Bureau of Land Management, but I'm interested in the culture that develops within a protest movement because I observed, first hand, during the Wisconsin protests of 2011, how anti-government ideation swirls within an insular protest group that is camped out together around the clock.

I also see a similarity between the Bundy standoff and the Wisconsin protests in the government decision to back off, seemingly to avoid exacerbating the intense emotions and giving the protesters more to protest about.

ADDED: Meade, proofreading for me, laughs when he gets to the line "I'd like to hear more details of the bonding by campfires." He says: "I don't know if you meant that to be funny." And I say: "Yeah, in a way, I did. I mean, I'm thinking of campfire songs and ghost stories... but about the government."

The Wisconsin protesters had their songs...

"What a double play to get out of that one!"


Note Henderson is the pitcher.

Have you been following the Brewers? It's an 8-game winning streak.

ADDED: Here's another video from last night's game, with a thrilling keeping of the toe on first base in the 9th inning. Fabulous toe work by Mark Reynolds.

"Lamb is more Nutritious than any kind of Poultry, Mutton than Lamb, Veal than Mutton, and Beef than Veal..."

"... But Pork is more Nutricious than any of these; for the Juices of Pork, which is more like Human Flesh than any other Flesh is, are more adapted to the Nourishment of a Human Body than the Juices of any other Flesh."

"I'm angry that my weird, nerdy hobby has been coopted..."

"... by other people's weird, nerdy hobby."

"Katherine Heigl (remember her?) probably needed some cash..."

"... so she filed a $6M lawsuit against Duane Reade for posting a picture of her carrying one of the drugstore’s bags on Twitter."

Why I didn't blog about the shoe thrown at Hillary Clinton...

... but I'm blogging about it now that I see this, in The Daily News:
Before a wig-wearing nutjob threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton... Alison Ernst, 36...  arrived in a Colorado courtroom with her head shaved while wearing a red dress before declaring she held evidence “vital to the defense of James Holmes.”
Holmes, with his wig-like orange hair, shot 12 moviegoers to death and wounded many others back in 2012. After the Holmes hearing, Ernst filed a lawsuit that included this text:
"James enters my head like Dennis Quaid in ‘Innerspace’ and he zooms to my heart and plays with it and forces me to care for him... I seek a restraining order to stop Holmes from entering my mind through subliminal messaging and causing me to be obsessed with him on a daily basis."
None of this is cute or amusing or an occasion for political posturing. There are deranged individuals out and about, and we should try to help them or at least stop them before they do serious violence. When I first heard about the shoe-throwing, I wanted to do what I could to deprive this person of attention. This kind of acting out toward a political figure is a reminder of the risks taken by everyone who offers herself (or himself) up to public service. You may think we should disrespect those who seek power. I do too. But to strike out physically is a different matter. Even when the action seems more symbolic than dangerous — like a shoe-throwing — it is a violent assault, and it is on a continuum with assassination, the threat any political candidate or office holder lives with continually.

I avoided reading other news articles and blog posts about Ernst, but I had the feeling that there would be comparisons to the time someone threw a shoe at George Bush, that there would be efforts to score points claiming that the amusement or justification expressed at the attack on Bush made it appropriate to turn the tables and laugh or cheer at the attack on Hillary. Maybe no one wrote anything like that, but aversion to that kind of commentary kept me away from this story.

For the record, I didn't want to talk about the shoe thrown at Bush either.

I'm writing about the Hillary incident now because the connection to James Holmes brings some focus to the real danger out there.