July 18, 2015

At the New Café...


... you can plug right in.

"Hillary is outdone in first major Iowa test as Bernie Sanders calls for a 'revolution' and Martin O'Malley has some Clinton partisans on their feet – and she talks mostly about HERSELF."

The headline at The Daily Mail, covering an event that I watched live on C-SPAN last night. Meade and I were not in the same location, and he texted me that Hillary was on C-SPAN. Here's the (slightly expurgated) texting that followed:
meade: Hillary live on cspan/Now Martin Omalley

althouse: Missed h/O sounds like he's seeing the speech for the first time

meade: Same thought/The energy is waiting for Bernie/O's S's whistle/O has an impressive forehead

althouse: The i voted for you refrain worked on me
O'Malley ends his speech with a repeated line, "I voted for you," which you're asked to picture yourself saying that to your grandchildren someone who asks you who you voted for in 2016. Intellectually, I find it corny, but physically, I repeatedly got chills, even after my mind told my body to cut that out. Next up is Bernie Sanders:
meade: Bernmentum/Revolution!/I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore

althouse: Angry old man

meade: White man

althouse: Not working on me/Too yell-y

meade: Plus he obviously wants to tax you more/Enough taxes will never be enough/We are coming for your wealth/You greedy person you

althouse: Going back to the Hillary part on line/Very wooden

meade: Don't stop thinking about/Socialism/Jim Webb -- token military/We need to be more like Germany

althouse: H attacks walker

meade: Jim Webb is obviously running for vice president/Webb is putting Iowa communistdemocrats to sleep

althouse: Hilary's delivery is so harsh. Not persuasive/Watching Webb now

meade: She had to compete with harsh angry old Bernie who was persuasive/Webb seems anti Obama

althouse: Wow. No applause at all/He pauses to dead silence

meade... He's bombing/Bombing Iowa

althouse: He's not really a democrat

meade: FDR gets his biggest applause
Webb ended his speech by observing that he'd finished without consuming all his time. I guess the speechwriters allowed time for the applause lines. Awkward! Then there's meeting and greeting in the crowd. (It was the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Hall of Fame dinner (whatever that is).) All the candidates were out there on the floor mingling... except Hillary:
meade: Where the hell is hill?

althouse: She stalked off as quickly as she could. Right after speech. It was weird. Her heart isn't in it. She wants to be unopposed

meade: She came back/Huma made her/But her feelings are hurt/Again/I'm starting to get depressed for Dems/Oh!/Lincoln Chafee!
ADDED: Here's C-SPAN's video of the whole 3-hour event. Scroll to the middle to get to the part with the candidates, beginning with Lincoln Chafee whom both Meade and I missed. Scroll to 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to the milling around part. Bernie dominates. People crowd around him and want to meet him. The camera backs up and we see the surly Webb, getting interviewed by one reporter. The awkwardness of it is painful to watch. The camera pans around and eventually we find O'Malley and Chaffee. Lots of attention to O'Malley. I'm watching half an hour of this, seeing everyone but Hillary. But where is Hillary? Meade wrote, "She came back/Huma made her," but I never see her. What I saw — what I was referring to when I said "She stalked off as quickly as she could" — was the end of her speech, 1 hour and 50 minutes into the recording.

A test of robot self-awareness.

"Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor Selmer Bringsjord has conducted a self-awareness experiment with a commercially-available Nao robot that he says proves that the robot has the faintest glimmer of self-awareness."
The test, which is a bit complicated, works like this: Bringsjord programmed three robots to think that two of them had been given a special “dumbing pill” that would not allow them to speak. Their task was to identify which robots received the pill. When the Nao robot on the right tried to speak, it heard its voice, and its voice alone. That’s when it waved its hand and said: “I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given a dumbing pill.”

The test, according to Bringsjord, required the robot to recognize the sound of its own voice, and then logically conclude that it had not received the dumbing pill. Modeled on a classic philosophical problem called “The King’s Wise Men,” the test addresses a very tiny slice of self-awareness....

Think about whether it's a test of self-awareness before and after watching the video. Did your opinion change? The video adds a dimension of freakiness, I think.

"A Georgia artist wants to add Outkast to the Confederate version of Mount Rushmore."

"In his petition on MoveOn.org, which stemmed from a Facebook exchange with another animator, [Mack] Williams argues that Stone Mountain, though 'an impressive and historic work of art,' is unacceptable. It 'only represents a small, regrettable time in the history of the Peach State. It’s high time we added a bit more of our history and culture to this monument,' he writes in a proposal to Georgia lawmakers: 'I believe that Daddy Fat Sacks [Big Boi] and Three Stacks [Andre 3000] should be carved riding in a Cadillac (as is their wont). This will help the new carving blend nicely with the Confederates who are on horseback. Outkast are two of the greatest Georgians in the history of our state. It’s about time the Empire State of the South paid proper tribute to them, while also improving a great monument and tourist attraction.'"

I was hesitant to post this, on the theory that it might be racist. But the petition is on MoveOn.org, so it's not politically incorrect, right? The article is at Quartz. I don't know what Quartz is. Hmm. Seems to be an offshoot of The Atlantic. That feels safe. I'll add a poll (for further insulation):

Is it racist to be drawn to this story of adding Outkast to Stone Mountain?
pollcode.com free polls

"In Sydney, the artist Lucas Davidson submerged himself beneath gravel."

"The crowd watched nervously to see how long he would last, and mulled why this was art."
When Davidson arrived at the gallery half an hour beforehand, he seemed calm but admitted he was a little edgy. “I got buried for the first time four weeks ago, and have done it six times to prepare for tonight. The first time, I was underprepared and had an anxiety attack. I needed to know I could get out of it.... I did 60 minutes, once, a few weeks ago... It was quite painful. The weight of the gravel on my arms made me lose circulation in my hands, and when I moved even slightly, the gravel shifted and locked me down. I said at the time I would not do it again. I am not sure if I will do 60 minutes tonight.”...

After 30 minutes the crowd has swelled to well over 100 people... People come up and take a quick look, then move on....

Samantha Ferris, 48, a gallery manager from nearby Surry Hills, knows the artist personally. “I was not anxious about the thought of the work, but going up to him, I do feel anxious now. I can see his eyes through the gravel. Maybe it’s the sense of whether he can communicate or not.”

As for the crowd’s tendency to almost forgetting he’s there, she is nonchalant. “That’s usual gallery behavior.”
What if you buried yourself alive — but could sit up and be unburied at any point — and nobody cared?

"I was drawn to abandoned buildings as I liked the contrast of painting detailed, Baroque-inspired pieces inside dark, neglected structures."

"These buildings provided me with the perfect atmosphere to create my pieces, with the end result often reflecting my surroundings -- haunting, dark figures."

The artist is Ted Pim.

Everyone seems to be mulling over the darker tone of "Go Set a Watchman," but...

... I'm reading an article — "Betrayed – Harper Lee wrote the great American novel. She doesn’t deserve this/'Go Set a Watchman' is Boo Radley. Like that key character from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, it was meant to stay inside, locked away, hidden from the world. It was never supposed to be published" — and I see something I hadn't noticed in any of the other discussions of the new book, something that is far brighter than "Mockingbird."

Spoiler alert:

July 17, 2015

Cass Sunstein says "Gone With the Wind should not be mistaken for a defense of slavery or even the Confederacy."

"[Margaret] Mitchell is interested in individuals rather than ideologies or apologetics. She parodies the idea of 'the Cause,' and she has no interest in 'States’ Rights.' She is elegiac not about politics, but about innocence, youth, memory, love (of all kinds), death, and loss (which helps make the book transcend the era it depicts). Irrevocably stuck in the past, and a bit of a ghost, Ashley Wilkes reminds Scarlett of 'the sad magic of old half-forgotten songs,' and 'the far-off yelping of possum dogs in the dark swamp under cool autumn moons and the smell of eggnog bowls, wreathed with holly at Christmas time,' and 'Stuart and Brent with their long legs and their red hair and their practical jokes,' and 'a whisper and a fragrance that was Ellen,' Scarlett’s mother, who died during the war. Mitchell draws a sharp distinction between those pathetic souls who keep hearing that sad magic, like Ashley, and those who want to move forward, like Scarlett and Rhett. Her own heart ultimately sides with the latter. But she also cherishes, and tries to capture, the magic, the yelping, the practical jokes, and a mother’s whisper.... [The Confederate flag] should be taken down. But even so, it would be a mistake to disparage the sad magic of half-forgotten songs. Americans have good reason to remember the sweetness, and the deaths, of the countless real-world Tartletons—and never to dishonor those who grieve for them."

From "Finding Humanity in Gone With the Wind/The classic novel shows that individual lives cannot be reduced to competing sets of political convictions."

Garrett Epps determines that Clarence Thomas is "not a judge at all."

"Thomas on the bench simply does not conform to expected judicial norms. He does not take part in the arguments before the Court. His decisions rest on unusual grounds, often not even mentioned in the briefs; he will not even air his idiosyncratic ideas at a time when others might engage them. He does not tend to limit himself to the issue presented or the factual context within which it is embedded. He is, in other words, not a judge at all."

Link (to The Atlantic).

"Today, I broke your solar system. Oops. My bad."

A poem — in Poetry Magazine — called "Pluto Shits on the Universe."

Via Metafilter.

The first link goes to the text of the poem, but you can listen/watch here.

And here's news of the New Horizon fly-by.

"Why is Ta-Nehisi Coates shouting an obscenity at me?"

The title of an old blog post of mine.

Having written 2 posts about Ta-Nehisi Coates today, I was aware of a residual peevishness toward him and I knew it was connected to the fact that he once said "Fuckin' Althouse" about me. I had to go back and read it to remember the context (which might amuse you, which is why I'm doing this post).

He's gotten so famous lately that I almost feel it's a distinction. Anyway, it's some insight into the Ta-Nehisi Coates of 6 years ago.

"Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik won a place on Friday to study at Oslo University from solitary confinement in prison, despite outrage at his massacre of 77 people four years ago."

"'He meets the admission requirements. We stick to our rules and he will be admitted,' Oslo University rector Ole Petter Ottersen told Reuters, saying prisoners are eligible to study as long as their academic grades are good enough.... 'I realise there are many feelings involved here. He tried to demolish the system. We have to stay faithful to it.'... The course includes study of democracy, human rights and respect for minorities.... 'His study will be carried out exclusively in his own cell.'"

"Gawker is no longer the insolent blog that began in 2003.... This story about the former Treasury Secretary’s brother does not rise to the level that our flagship site should be publishing."

"The point of this story was not in my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his family. Accordingly, I have had the post taken down. It is the first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement.... But this decision will establish a clear standard for future stories. It is not enough for them simply to be true. They have to reveal something meaningful. They have to be true and interesting. These texts were interesting, but not enough, in my view. In light of Gawker’s past rhetoric about our fearlessness and independence, this can be seen as a capitulation. And perhaps, to some extent, it is...."

Writes Nick Denton, reacting to intense criticisms. 

ADDED: TPM says:
[T]here was apparently a clear difference of opinion about removing the post between Gawker's parent company, Gawker Media, and the website's editorial brass. Gawker staff writer J.K. Trotter wrote that Gawker Media's managing partnership, which includes its legal counsel, actually had voted 5-1 to take the much-maligned article down over the protests of "every other member of Gawker Media’s editorial leadership."...

The website's editor-in-chief, Max Read, had defended the article's publication by arguing that the executive was fair game by virtue of his position with Condé Nast and the fact that he solicited a male escort while being married to a woman....

But Denton seemed to side with those journalists who had complained on Twitter that outing the executive wasn't truly in the public interest.

Why were 4 Marines unable to defend themselves against one man?

"Since 1993, weapons have been banned at recruiting centers. Only military police can carry weapons at military bases and reserves centers. Gun-free zones were launched to reduce the use of deadly force unless absolutely necessary at military facilities, according to the 1992 directive under President George H.W. Bush. The policy was modified under President Bill Clinton a year later...."

UPDATE: "Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Scott Walker called Friday for an end to a ban on service members carrying guns in military recruiting offices."

Jeb Bush has a tin ear for sexism.

"[My] dad gets in the hospital kind of pretty regularly at 91, he's a little frail.But when he starts telling semi-dirty jokes to the nurse, we know he's on the rebound."

Apparently, Jeb thinks the old sexy nurse trope works today. The audience warmly chuckles, and Jeb thinks he's cute, because his dad is so old and sweet. But that doesn't play with me or, I suspect, with many modern women. Old men in the hospital leering at the nurses. Ugh!

"After two days in the hospital, I took a turn for the nurse." That was typical humor in the days of W.C. Fields.

Nurse humor was typical Playboy humor for years and years. Example:

I believe the new nurse is going to do wonders for him. He’s already learned to count to two…

UPDATE: In October 2017, HW apologizes for groping a woman in a photo op.

"Walker, the one without cat ears, during his high school swing choir's performance of songs from the musical Cats."

Caption on a photograph at an NPR article titled "Now On The National Stage, Scott Walker Is Still A Guy From Delavan."

Cornel West attacks Ta-Nehisi Coates with a side swipe at Toni Morrison, and Michael Eric Dyson tells West to shut up.

West put this up at Facebook:
In Defense of James Baldwin – Why Toni Morrison (a literary genius) is Wrong about Ta-Nehisi Coates. [James] Baldwin was a great writer of profound courage who spoke truth to power. Coates is a clever wordsmith with journalistic talent who avoids any critique of the Black president in power. Baldwin’s painful self-examination led to collective action and a focus on social movements. He reveled in the examples of Medgar, Martin, Malcolm, Fannie Lou Hamer and Angela Davis. Coates’s fear-driven self-absorption leads to individual escape and flight to safety – he is cowardly silent on the marvelous new militancy in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Oakland, Cleveland and other places. Coates can grow and mature, but without an analysis of capitalist wealth inequality, gender domination, homophobic degradation, Imperial occupation (all concrete forms of plunder) and collective fightback (not just personal struggle) Coates will remain a mere darling of White and Black Neo-liberals, paralyzed by their Obama worship and hence a distraction from the necessary courage and vision we need in our catastrophic times....
In other words: Coates, like Obama, is only a liberal, not a hardcore lefty, as he should be.

I got there via the Observer, which tried but failed to get Coates to respond and proceeded to get a response from Michael Eric Dyson, "a professor of sociology at Georgetown University who wrote a withering takedown of Mr. West in the April issue of The New Republic."
He described Mr. West’s Facebook post as an “acrimonious dirge,” a “bitter, nasty, sorrowful blue note,” and “despotically and willfully intolerant of the gifts and talents of those who may potentially eclipse him. It shows the vast ineptitude of professor West’s scholarship,” Mr. Dyson told the Observer in a phone conversation. “The point I made in my piece is that he doesn’t keep up, he doesn’t read the freshest, newest, most insightful scholarship, nor does he write about it in any serious fashion or teach it in his curriculum, and it shows here.”...

Mr. Dyson suggested that Mr. West listen to “the great Ludwig Wittgenstein,” who said: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
In other words: Shut up.

"In what is bound to be the most quoted passage from the book, you write that you watched the smoldering towers of 9/11 with a cold heart."

"At the time you felt the police and firefighters who died 'were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.' You obviously do not mean that literally today (sometimes in your phrasing you seem determined to be misunderstood). You are illustrating the perspective born of the rage 'that burned in me then, animates me now, and will likely leave me on fire for the rest of my days.' I read this all like a slap and a revelation. I suppose the first obligation is to sit with it, to make sure the testimony is respected and sinks in. But I have to ask, Am I displaying my privilege if I disagree? Is my job just to respect your experience and accept your conclusions? Does a white person have standing to respond?"

David Brooks addresses Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book under discussion is "Between the World and Me."

Erwin Chemerinsky blames Justice Scalia for causing these law students today to put "derision and ad hominem barbs" in their legal arguments.

In a column in the L.A. Times, which cites some examples of Scalia's vivid insults.

The examples are familiar, because they are precisely what tends to appear in the news articles. If we're casting blame, we should also blame the reporters who cherry-pick Scalia's colorful phrases, for example, calling something Justice Kennedy wrote the "mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."

Judicial writing is usually so bland and verbose — what a deadly combination! — that we readers of court opinions do naturally perk up when we encounter something like "mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."

But if we were choosing what to read — like when we pick out a novel — phrases on the level of "mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie" would seem pretty pulpy and bad. But in a legal opinion, it's something. A little air. It's overvalued. I can see how it leads students astray.

There's something to be learned from the mood boost we get when, in the slog through judicial writing, we encounter one of Scalia's insults. But legal writers who don't themselves have the luxury of sitting in judgment had better adapt the lesson to suit their position of trying to persuade judge.

Be clear and vivid, but not jerky. Attack arguments, not people. Make careful calls about language.

I've always remembered an anecdote I heard long ago, about lawyers who mulled over whether they could use the word "stupid" in a brief in response to an argument that absolutely was stupid. After much discussion, they hit upon the mot juste: "fatuous." See my point? The lesson is: Think it through. You don't have to be dull, but don't stoop. Remember the stupid/fatuous distinction.

Chemerinsky's piece doesn't get this far. It's too weighed down with contempt for Scalia. And the last sentence is weird and telling:
If legal professionals ignore Scalia's meanness or — worse — pass around his insults at cocktail parties like Wildean witticisms, they'll encourage a new generation of peevish, callous scoffers.
Where are these cocktail parties with people who fancy themselves Wildean expressing admiration for Antonin Scalia? In the law school environment I know, I hear peevish, callous scoffing at Justice Scalia.

The mere mention of his name — said in a particular tone — is treated as a chuckle-worthy barb. My students frequently show that they've been encouraged to peevishly scoff at Scalia. In class, there will be occasions where I've put a student in the position of having to explain something Scalia has written, and he will begin, dismissively, "Well, it's Scalia," and the class will titter.

Carly Fiorina does a Buzzfeed video, "If Men Were Treated Like Women In The Office."

Nice light-handed treatment of a serious subject. Maybe some who resist the usual feminist critique will experience a "click."

I will not and cannot "Read Chattanooga Shooter’s Blog."

The Daily Beast says:
The killer of four U.S. Marines in Chattanooga maintained a short-lived blog that hinted at his religious inner life. Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s blog had only two posts, both published July 13 and written in a popular style of Islamic religious reasoning.
A man used a blog format to put up a few sentences 3 days before he committed a mass murder. There's no "blog" to read. Adulazeez didn't "maintain" a blog, even "a short-lived blog." And I have no idea what counts as "a popular style of Islamic religious reasoning." The Daily Beast doesn't bother to define its term.

Abdulazeez did give us some evidence worth thinking about, but I wouldn't take the statements at face value. They were not written over a period of time, revealing a path of thoughts. And they were put up so close in time to the murders, which presumably were already in the offing, that the writing must be understood as representing what he wanted the public to think about him.

If he used a style that can, in fact, be identified as "a popular style of Islamic religious reasoning," that's reason to think about his statements not as pure reflections of his thought patterns, but as something cribbed and copied, perhaps to throw us off track or to play upon our tendency to jump to merge him with the grand, mythic mass of Islamic terrorists who have traipsed all over the American brain since 9/11.

Abdulazeez used the old story of the blind men and the elephant, which originated in India and appears in Jain, Buddhist, Sufi, and Hindu versions. He calls it "The Story of the Three Blind Men." Three? Is he mixing it up with the nursery rhyme of the 3 blind mice? I think — in all the versions — there were more than 3. According to Wikipedia, the Sufi version of the story doesn't have blind men at all. Which makes more sense. Why would blind men stay together rather than disperse themselves among the sighted population? In the Sufi version, the inability to see is achieved by putting the elephant in the dark:
Rumi, the 13th Century Persian poet and teacher of Sufism, included it in his Masnavi. In his retelling, "The Elephant in the Dark," some Hindus bring an elephant to be exhibited in a dark room. A number of men touch and feel the elephant in the dark and, depending upon where they touch it, they believe the elephant to be like a water spout (trunk), a fan (ear), a pillar (leg) and a throne (back). Rumi uses this story as an example of the limits of individual perception:
The sensual eye is just like the palm of the hand. The palm has not the means of covering the whole of the beast.
Rumi does not present a resolution to the conflict in his version, but states:
The eye of the Sea is one thing and the foam another. Let the foam go, and gaze with the eye of the Sea. Day and night foam-flecks are flung from the sea: oh amazing! You behold the foam but not the Sea. We are like boats dashing together; our eyes are darkened, yet we are in clear water.
Rumi ends his poem by stating "If each had a candle and they went in together the differences would disappear."

July 16, 2015

At the Evening Rain Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

"As faculty members of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we support support free speech and diversity of opinion, as has been our tradition. Such freedom requires responsible behavior..."

"... and in this respect we are deeply dismayed with the actions Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab has taken toward students and faculty on Twitter in recent weeks to discourage them from coming here. While claiming to stand for academic freedom, she has in fact damaged that principle and our institution with inaccurate statements and misrepresentations. We stand with our fellow faculty, staff, and students who have devoted themselves to maintaining and building on our university’s extraordinary and distinguished record of teaching, research, and service to the people of Wisconsin and beyond."

That's the University Committee Statement — dated today, signed by Beth Meyerand (chair), Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, Thomas Broman, Amy Wendt, Ruth Litovsky — reacting to what we were just talking about this morning in the post titled "UW professor under fire for tweeting at incoming freshmen."

The most interesting word in the statement is "actions" — "we are deeply dismayed with the actions Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab has taken toward students and faculty on Twitter...." It's not "actions," it's speech.

Now, the Committee is not suppressing the speech. It's only providing more speech, objecting to the things Goldrick-Rab has said. I object to the things she's saying and hate to see students scared over things that I don't think will affect them. But I think it would be better to address the substance of Goldrick-Rab's remarks rather than to call her speech "actions" and to accuse her of damaging the principle of academic freedom.

"The Startling, Evocative Photo Of Nixon's Resignation Lunch."

"This is the lunch that President Richard Nixon ate on August 8, 1974, just before going on national television to announce that he was resigning. White House photographer Robert Knudson captured it on film. The next day, Nixon boarded a plane for California."

Note: It is by pure chance that this post, like the previous post, contains the date August 8, 1974.

ADDED: Back in actual 1974, any mention of Nixon's cottage cheese would have required the assertion that Nixon put ketchup in his cottage cheese. The requirement was a necessary component of the template of contempt that we all knew so well back then. And I have not forgotten.

From the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum:
President Nixon's favorite breakfast usually consisted of cottage cheese (garnished with either ketchup and/or black pepper), fresh fruit, wheat germ, and coffee. President Nixon also enjoyed yogurt, which was flown in from California every day.

"A few decades ago, left wing politics meant getting your skull cracked by company goons rushing a picket line..."

"... not listening to Disraeli Gears while doing bong hits. It meant getting millions of people to cast their presidential votes for a man who the U.S. government feared enough to put in prison, not for a former bomber pilot whose leftism consists of being more liberal than Richard Nixon (No offense to McGovern . . . BUT COME ON PEOPLE!)... Forty years from now today’s kids will have become the biggest pain in the ass generation of old people ever. If only because there’s so many of them! Their kids (and grandchildren) will never stop hearing about the good old days, when 'we' 'stopped the War' and a bunch of other equally preposterous claims. Through sheer demographic force, they’ll probably ensure that some kid born in 1995 can sing along to Beatles and Stones songs, if not Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad!"

Wrote The Last True Leftist, August 8, 1974.

"Wow. Did you give any actual thought to your choice of the headline and photo for this article? "

"The photo is of Sen. Sanders, with his arms around two young boys. The headline reads, 'The Bernie Sanders Archive is Bustling with Mysterious Young Men.' You do realize the unfounded, and terrible, implication of this combination, don't you? The photo doesn't even have anything to do with the content of the article which is about interns digitizing boxes and boxes of content from Sanders' time as mayor. Did the editor and writer get lazy coming up with the headline and photo for this article or this is a hatchet job? Either way, it sure isn't good journalism. Shame on The New Republic!"

Top-rated comment at a New Republic article titled "The Bernie Sanders Archive Is Bustling With Mysterious Young Men."

"Did the editor and writer get lazy coming up with the headline and photo for this article or this is a hatchet job?"
pollcode.com free polls

A fascinating Drudgtaposition.

What does it mean?

The Hillary image evoked (for me) the crystal ball in "The Wizard of Oz":

The McCain with a pig-man goes with a link to a New Yorker article titled "John McCain Has a Few Things to Say About Donald Trump," so I guess the pig is Drudge's representation of Trump. None of the few things McCain has to say about Trump involve pigs. He's just saying things like: "He was a big Democratic supporter. Some of this stuff is going to come out: he gave more money to Democrats than Republicans; he had Hillary Clinton at his wedding. You know, he’s attacking Hillary Clinton after she was in the front row of his—I don’t know which wedding it was."

The Centers for Disease Control tells backyard chicken owners to quit kissing and snuggling their chickens.

Based on 180 cases of salmonella in the U.S. this year from backyard poultry.
"This is my favorite, Caledonia," Lynette Mattke says as she holds a sturdy, black and white Barred Rock hen. "I think she's the prettiest, too.... You see Caledonia, she just cuddles in. She loves to stick her head under my arm... Our friends who come to visit [the chickens] are always so surprised at how soft they are. Because I guess people think about their beaks and their feet, which aren't soft. But their feathers are just so smooth and soft."
Smooth and soft... and disease-vector-y.

"The vulgar video had spread like a virus online and clashed with socialist core values."

Said Xu Feng, a director at the Cyberspace Administration of China, about a video of a man and a woman having sex in a Beijing clothing store that went viral.
On Thursday morning dozens of young Chinese could be seen snapping selfies outside the Uniqlo outlet where the sex tape was shot.

Across the street, a Communist party propaganda poster outlined the “core socialist values” on which the video had trampled in bright red Chinese characters. “Patriotism, dedication, integrity, friendship,” it said.
I don't know what's most interesting here. Certainly not that a sex video went viral, that the Chinese government disapproves of pornography, or that a couple had sex in the fitting room of a clothes store. What interested me was the idea of "socialist core values," which turn out to be perfectly anodyne — patriotism, dedication, integrity, friendship. So I guess it's the selfie taking. The viral video has made a branch of a big chain store something that people want to be pictured in front of, like it's a sexy celebrity. 

"UW professor under fire for tweeting at incoming freshmen."

Headline at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Excerpt:
It all started with a photo that a future Badger posted May 31 on Twitter of himself and his friends in their high school graduation caps and gowns, smiling and forming the Wisconsin "W" with their hands.

"On (to) Wisconsin!" the tweet exclaimed. It was tagged @UWMadison #FutureBadgers, and the young man included the Twitter handles of the five other students in the photo.

Six days later, [Sara Goldrick-Rab... a professor of educational policy studies and sociology] reached out to all six students on Twitter: "I hate to bring bad news but," her tweet began. She then linked to an opinion piece published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with the headline: "Threats to shared governance and tenure put mission of UW at risk."

"No one cares sara," one of the students replied.

"Oh good. I thought you want a degree of value. Too bad," Goldrick-Rab responded.

"Who are you lol" another student replied....
More at the link, including comparisons of Scott Walker to Hitler and the reaction of the College Republicans.

Professors are free to speak. What's the big deal here? Is "tweeting at" people some special form of speech, more threatening somehow? The actual tweeted-at students with their "No one cares sara" and "Who are you lol" show that tweets are taken very lightly.
The College Republicans issued a statement on Facebook Wednesday... asking the university to address the tenured professor's "harassment of these future Badgers on Twitter who were doing nothing but showing their excitement for attending the university."
Oh, great. Now conservatives want a broad definition of harassment and demand more university investigations of free speech? Hey, College Republicans, I'm blogging that at you.

UPDATE: The University Committee issues a statement expressing "deeply dismay[]" over what it calls Goldrick-Rab's "actions."

"It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution."

"Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution."

I wanted to highlight that passage from the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision ending the John Doe investigation. There is much more from the opinion in my earlier post.

My paraphrase: Thanks to the brave few who fight for their rights. They benefit everyone, including those of us who'd cave to the forces of overbearing government. The court appreciates the opportunity to say what rights are, so that the timid as well as the brave can experience freedom.

ADDED: My paraphrase is skewed toward issues character — timidity and bravery. But Justice Gableman wrote "the will and the means." It's not just: Thank God these people were brave enough to fight. It's also: Thank God these people were rich enough to fight. The rights established by litigation by those with the means to fight are enshrined in doctrine that protects the rest of us. The critic will (of course) say that the rights the courts manage to find are the rights that are useful to the wealthy.

Politico: "Unions seethe over early Clinton endorsement."

"Labor leaders said there was a clear understanding that no national unions would make an endorsement before July 30. But the American Federation of Teachers jumped the gun."

Worth a click if only to see the photo of Hillary facing a bunch of school kids. She looks so stressed out!

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected on Thursday to make public a decision on whether a criminal investigation into coordination between conservative groups and Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 campaign may continue." UPDATE: Court ends the investgation.

The NYT reports.
The investigation, which has been stalled by court decisions for more than a year, began in 2012 after Mr. Walker survived a recall election brought by voters who opposed limits he made to collective bargaining rights and union power when he became governor in 2011. At its root, the investigation looked at whether Mr. Walker’s advisers directed interactions with at least a dozen outside conservative groups, including the Wisconsin Club for Growth, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and Citizens for a Strong America, and whether that violated disclosure rules and donation limits....

The State Supreme Court had been asked to look at three legal suits tied to the case, including efforts to end the inquiry by those under investigation as well as a push by the special prosecutor to renew it....
ADDED: This paragraph seems miswritten:
The state’s highest court is widely seen as being split between a larger conservative bloc and liberal one as well as having an increasingly polarized, antagonistic climate between the blocs. Shirley S. Abrahamson, the longtime, liberal-leaning chief justice, filed a federal lawsuit this spring after voters approved a Republican-led constitutional amendment changing the way the chief was picked — in essence, assuring that a member of the conservative bloc, Patience Roggensack, would be picked to replace her.
The constitutional amendment didn't assure that Patience Roggensack would be chosen. The NYT doesn't mention what the constitutional change was. We went from designating the most senior justice as chief to choosing the chief by a vote of the justices. That meant the so-called conservatives controlled the outcome if they voted as a bloc, but a majority of justices, making their individual choices, could have decided to vote for Abrahamson, perhaps out of concern for the seeming disrespect of taking her position away in the middle of her term or because she was experienced and doing a fine job. We Wisconsinites who voted to amend the constitution did not feel assured of the outcome, especially that Roggensack, specially, would be chosen.

UPDATE: "Wisconsin Supreme Court ends John Doe probe into Scott Walker's campaign."
The ruling means the likely end of the investigation, which has been stalled for 18 months after a lower court judge determined no laws were violated even if Walker's campaign and the groups had worked together as prosecutors believe.

It could also prompt the escalation of other litigation over the probe....

Writing for the majority, Justice Michael Gableman found a key section of Wisconsin's campaign finance law is "unconstitutionally overbroad and vague" and that the activities prosecutors had investigated were not illegal.

"To be clear, this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor's legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law," Gableman wrote. "Consequently, the investigation is closed. Consistent with our decision and the order entered by Reserve Judge (Gregory) Peterson, we order that the special prosecutor and the district attorneys involved in this investigation must cease all activities related to the investigation, return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation. All unnamed movants are relieved of any duty to cooperate further with the investigation."
AND: Here's the full text of the opinion.

MORE: The court — citing freedom of speech rights in the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions — rejects the interpretation of the Wisconsin statute that was the basis of the special prosecutor's :
In Two Unnamed Petitioners, we hold that the definition of that the definition of "political purposes" in Wis. Stat. § 11.01(16) is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution because its language "'is so sweeping that its sanctions may be applied to constitutionally protected conduct which the state is not permitted to regulate.'"  State v. Janssen, 219 Wis. 2d 362, 374, 580 N.W.2d 260 (1998) (quoting Bachowski v. Salamone, 139 Wis. 2d 397, 411, 407 N.W.2d 533 (1987)).  However, a readily available limiting construction exists that we will apply and that will prevent the chilling of otherwise protected speech; namely, "political purposes" is limited to express advocacy and its functional equivalent as those terms are defined in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), and Fed. Election Comm'n v. Wis. Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449 (2007) (WRTL II).  With this limiting construction in place, Chapter 11 does not proscribe any of the alleged conduct of any of the Unnamed Movants.  The special prosecutor has not alleged any express advocacy, and issue advocacy, whether coordinated or not, is "beyond the reach of [Ch. 11]."  Wis. Right to Life, Inc. v. Barland, 751 F.3d 804, 815 (7th Cir. 2014) (Barland II).  Accordingly, we invalidate the special prosecutor's theory of the case, and we grant the relief requested by the Unnamed Movants.
AND: "The breadth of the documents gathered pursuant to subpoenas and seized pursuant to search warrants is amazing.  Millions of documents, both in digital and paper copy, were subpoenaed and/or seized.  Deputies seized business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys.  The special prosecutor obtained virtually every document possessed by the Unnamed Movants relating to every aspect of their lives, both personal and professional, over a five-year span (from 2009 to 2013).  Such documents were subpoenaed and/or seized without regard to content or relevance to the alleged violations of Ch. 11.  As part of this dragnet, the special prosecutor also had seized wholly irrelevant information, such as retirement income statements, personal financial account information, personal letters, and family photos."

MORE: "The special prosecutor alleges that the Unnamed Movants engaged in illegally coordinated issue advocacy.  However, the basis for his theory has evolved over the course of the various legal challenges to his investigation, and he appears unable to decide just how the Unnamed Movants have broken the law."
Today, the special prosecutor alleges two theories of illegal coordination: (1) that the coordination between the Unnamed Movants is so extensive that the supposedly independent groups became subcommittees for the candidate's campaign under Wis. Stat. § 11.10(4); and (2) that the coordinated issue advocacy amounts to an in-kind contribution under Wis. Admin. Code § GAB 1.20.  The special prosecutor's theories, if adopted as law, would require an individual to surrender his political rights to the government and retain campaign finance attorneys before discussing salient political issues.  See Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 324.  We find no support for the special prosecutor's theories in Wis. Stat. Ch. 11.  Chapter 11's definition of "political purposes," which underlies Wisconsin's campaign finance law, is both overbroad and vague and thus unconstitutionally chills speech because people "'of common intelligence must necessarily guess at [the law's] meaning and differ as to its application.'"  Id. (quoting Connally, 269 U.S. at 391)....

The special prosecutor argues that coordinated issue advocacy is prohibited under this provision because the statute itself only requires cooperation between a candidate's committee and another committee and that the statute does not require that such cooperation be limited to express advocacy.

The first flaw in the special prosecutor's theory is that it is left to the whim of each regulatory bureaucrat and/or prosecutor to subjectively determine how much coordination is "too much."  Indeed, the special prosecutor, because he relies on vague and overbroad statutes, will be the only one to know how much coordination is "too much."  This cannot be; such an interpretation of § 11.10(4) is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague under the First Amendment. 
There's a second flaw that the court finds "more obvious":
Wisconsin Stat. § 11.10(4) refers to a "committee" that coordinates with a candidate's committee and in order to be a "committee," an entity must "make[] or accept[] contributions or make[] disbursements."   In order to come within the purview of regulated acts both "contributions" and "disbursements" must be "made for political purposes."  Wis. Stat. §§ 11.01(6)(a)1; 11.01(7)(a)1.  Applying the necessary limiting construction to the phrase "for political purposes," we conclude that in order to meet the statutory definition of "committee," a committee must engage in express advocacy and its functional equivalent.  This conclusion is fatal to the special prosecutor's subcommittee theory because he does not allege that the Unnamed Movants engaged in express advocacy.  Put simply, because the Unnamed Movants did not engage in express advocacy, they could not be considered a "committee" subject to Chapter 11's regulation. 
AND: From the conclusion:
It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.   In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a "perfect storm" of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them.  It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution.  Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution. 

Caitlyn Jenner accepts an award.

"If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead. The reality is, I can take it."

ADDED: "Siri is correcting users who refer to the Olympic athlete by her previous name."
Apple's voice recognition program has shown it has a sense of humor, but also demonstrated a more aggressive side - when it downright insulted anyone who asked it to work out zero divided by zero.

But now it is showing itself to be a progressive software - and is correcting anyone who refers to Caitlyn Jenner as Bruce.
On a related note, I don't like to change blog tags or create duplicative tags, but I realize using my old "Bruce Jenner" tag seems to be inviting criticism. That's weird thing to say, though, isn't it? No one has criticized me for this. I'm visualizing it for myself. That's how the culture works.

"So the idea that Atticus, in this book, 'becomes' the bigot he was not in 'Mockingbird' entirely misses Harper Lee’s point—that this is exactly the kind of bigot that Atticus has been all along."

"The particular kind of racial rhetoric that Atticus embraces (and that he and Jean Louise are careful to distinguish from low-rent, white-trash bigotry) is a complex and, in its own estimation, 'liberal' ideology: there is no contradiction between Atticus defending an innocent black man accused of rape in 'Mockingbird' and Atticus mistrusting civil rights twenty years later. Both are part of a paternal effort to help a minority that, in this view, cannot yet entirely help itself. Atticus is simply being faithful to one set of high ideals in the South of his time. 'Jean Louise,' Atticus says in the midst of their argument, 'have you ever considered that you can’t have a set of backward people living among people advanced in one kind of civilization and have a social Arcadia?'"

Writes Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker.

July 15, 2015

"And so really the only argument you can make against the verification and inspection mechanism that we’ve put forward is that Iran is so intent on obtaining a nuclear weapon that no inspection regime and no verification mechanism would be sufficient..."

"... because they’d find some way to get around it because they're untrustworthy. And if that's your view, then we go back to the choice that you have to make earlier.  That means, presumably, that you can't negotiate.  And what you're really saying is, is that you've got to apply military force to guarantee that they don't have a nuclear program.  And if somebody wants to make that debate — whether it’s the Republican leadership, or Prime Minister Netanyahu, or the Israeli Ambassador or others, they're free to make it.  But it’s not persuasive."

The President's press conference.

At the Restoration Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

The picture dates back to last November. (Previously: here.) It's one of the last photographs I took in my old computer before it died. I was too busy to deal with the problem and just bought a new computer, but I finally got around to taking the old one to the Apple store, which replaced the video card, free. It's fun to go from a clunky old inert computer, annoyingly taking up space and embodying an unaccomplished errand, to a restored computer, not just workable, but full of things I'd given up for lost 8 months ago. I'm also reviving the southeast upper corner of the house, which had fallen into disuse, as a quiet alternate workspace with a perfectly good computer. Perhaps there will be more middle-of-the-night posts, when I'm up and alert, but unwilling to venture downstairs. Perhaps not.

"Water-ice at Pluto temperatures is strong enough to hold up big mountains."

Mountains as high as the Rockies, seen close-up, for the first time, today.

"Lawsuit challenges constitutionality of male-only draft registration."

"The Supreme Court previously upheld the constitutionality of male-only draft registration in the 1981 case of Rostker v. Goldberg. However... that ruling was partly based on the theory that women would not be as valuable draftees as men in an era when the armed forces excluded women from most combat positions. Obviously, that logic is no longer valid.... Like most other constitutional law scholars, I think that Rostker was a dubious decision, and would not shed many tears if it were overruled...."

Writes Ilya Somin.

Personally, I think there is a government interest in excluding women from the draft. If we're ever in a situation in the future where we need to resort to the draft, it will be very different from our present-day America, and I suspect that there will be a need to preserve what is unique about females.

"I'm glad Obama is taking prison rape seriously, but the president shouldn't be telling comedians what kind of jokes they are and aren't allowed to tell."

"Would he tell comedians not to joke about murder? How about drone strikes that kill innocent people?"

"Nearly six in 10 — 57 percent — Republicans now have a favorable view of Trump, compared to 40 percent who have an unfavorable one."

"That marks a complete reversal from a late-May Post-ABC poll, in which 65 percent of Republicans saw Trump unfavorably."
Trump continues to be unpopular among the public at large, with negative marks outpacing positive ones 61-33. "Strongly unfavorable" views outnumber strongly positive ratings by a three-to-one ratio.
I guess that thing of reviling him and treating him like an obnoxious pariah backfired.

I think that's good... and I don't like Trump.

MEANWHILE: Also in the Washington Post today: "Unbending (and unexcitable)/Even polite politicians can polarize, and Scott Walker has made lack of compromise his calling card."
Pleasant. That’s even how Walker’s bitterest political foes describe him.

In the heat of the state’s showdown with its union four years ago, Rep. Peter Barca, the Wisconsin State Assembly’s top Democrat, publicly denounced the governor at protests across the state. “You know, Governor Walker, you have defiled our heritage,” Barca said at one rally. “You have disregarded our values.”

But Walker, who declined to be interviewed for this article, never took it personally. “I’d give a speech in front of 50,000 protesters saying, ‘Walker’s got to go,’ “ Barca says, “and you’d see him the next day and you’d think I just sent him a coffeecake or something.”

"Fox says only the 'top' 10 candidates, as judged solely by national polling, will be allowed on its stage"

"That may be understandable later, but the first votes are half a year away and there are a lot more than 10 viable candidates. The early primary process gives all candidates a chance to be heard,... If networks and national polls are to decide this now, the early state process is in jeopardy and only big money and big names will compete."

Said C-SPAN, announcing that it's inviting all 17 candidates to appear in a forum 3 days before the Fox News debate.

The NYT serves up a Hillary ad to go with its "Video Accuses Planned Parenthood of Crime."

Here's the screenshot from my iPhone:

I was just waking up, still lying in bed, catching up on the new news, checking to see how The New York Times covered the story I was reading in The Washington Post last night. I read the first few screens of the NYT story:
Abortion opponents on Tuesday renewed their campaign against Planned Parenthood... after the release of a video that surreptitiously captured an official from the group explaining how it provides fetal parts to medical researchers...
That's paragraph 1. Paragraph 4:
“This is not something with any revenue stream that affiliates are looking at,” the official, Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, says in the video. “This is a way to offer patients the services they want and do good for the medical community and still maintain access.”
Paragraph 6:
“At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards,” a Planned Parenthood spokesman, Eric Ferrero, said in a statement. “There is no financial..."
Here's where I do the scroll that gets to the screen that is my screen shot above:
"... benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood.”
Bright, smiley Hillary face!

This is the way advertising works these days, and I wonder, what comes first, the slanting of the article toward bolstering the morale of those who believe in abortion rights or the availability of money from a super-rich presidential campaign?

Ah, but there is no beginning. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? When does human life begin? It's in the mind of the beholder.

Pay no attention to that Planned Parenthood senior director behind the distorting reflections of that forest of wine glasses through which the sneaky camera shot the woman who explained that tissue is donated by willing patients who support science, and Planned Parenthood, covering its shipping and handling expenses, serves its patients and advances science, following the highest ethical and legal standards. How dare right-wingers take unflattering photographs of a woman who did not consent to appear in that movie! Don't look at that pornography! Look at this woman. Hillary! She's ready for her closeup. She's looking exactly the way she chooses to look, the way she needs you to see her look, the way that will help you continue to believe what you want to keep believing.

Don't stop believing!

"The three-pound wrinkly glop of glopoplasm in your skull contains about a hundred billion neurons, one for every human being who ever be’d."

"Each neuron can hook up with up to ten thousand others (polygamy-style, not serially monogamously). Hence there are at least one hundred trillion neural connections in your brain, which is more than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy, but who’s counting."

I'm amused by the writing style of Patricia Marx, whose new book "Let's Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties" is the main thing I was reading in my Kindle yesterday.

"The Denver-based Little Sisters of the Poor, who sued to avoid complying with the Obamacare contraception mandate..."

"... lost Tuesday in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled it must allow employees to have contraception coverage," the Denver Post reports.
The federal government adopted a regulation that exempts religious employers, such as churches, hospitals, universities, charities and other service providers such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, from covering contraceptives they oppose on religious grounds. However, these groups must actively seek an exemption. A third party then steps in to cover contraceptives for employees.
That is, the Sisters had an exemption, but argued they were burdened by having to go through the government's procedure set up to identify them as falling within the exemption.
They argued that being forced to file for the exemption made them part of "the scheme" to provide their employees access to contraceptives....

The court rejected the claim that complying with the law makes them "complicit" in delivery of contraception.
Here's the PDF of the opinion. Excerpt:
Although Plaintiffs allege the administrative tasks required to opt out of the Mandate make them complicit in the overall delivery scheme, opting out instead relieves them from complicity.
But who decides what "complicity" is? That, itself, is a matter of religious belief. Why does  control over the meaning of complicity belong to the government and not to the individual?

"Lenny is your over sharing Internet friend who will yell at you about your finances, help you choose a bathing suit, lamp, president ... AND tell you what to do if you need an abortion."

From the mission statement of the new Lena-Dunham-related newsletter experience.

The word "experience" there is an artifact of cutting-and-pasting from a New York Magazine article, "Lena Dunham Tries to Cement Her Guru Status," that begins "The Lena Dunham experience is getting another brand extension...."

The Lena Dunham Experience... is it like the Jimi Hendrix Experience?
I know, I know, you'll probably scream n' cry
That your little world won't let you go
But who in your measly little world are trying to prove that
You're made out of gold and can't be sold
So, are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced? Well, I have...
I doubt if the subscribers to Lena Dunham's newsletter are being invited out of their "measly little world." The mission statement is an offer to be your friend and to fit right into your little world, where you're doing your usual things, buying clothes and decorating your apartment, figuring out how to vote, and keeping your finances and your body from acquiring the power to drag you — perhaps screaming and crying — out of that nice little world of yours that it would be mean to call "measly" and "little." Come on, let's buy a bathing suit!

And so, another female entertainment celebrity branches into the women's magazine business. It's like Oprah's magazine and Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, right? Or does Dunham not want that spin, not want to be thought of as Gwyneth-y?
“We don't see Lenny as the anti-Goop, even though we realize that our readers may not have the same income in their lives,” Dunham said. 
And Dunham's partner in the Lenny project, Jenni Konner, said: “We worship Gwyneth. She has literally been the most supportive person of this project of anyone we've spoken to.”

We worship Gwyneth. 

How exactly does one do that? Is it anything like watching the sun rise from the bottom of the sea?

July 14, 2015

"An antiabortion group on Tuesday released an undercover video of an official at Planned Parenthood discussing in graphic detail how to abort a fetus to preserve its organs for medical research — and also the costs associated with sharing that tissue with scientists."

The Washington Post reports.
Antiabortion groups... said the callous nature of the discussion captured on film should tug at viewers’ consciences — particularly when Nucatola apparently describes “crushing” the fetus in ways that keep its internal organs intact, and her remarks about researchers’ desire for lungs and livers.

“I’d say a lot of people want liver,” she says in the video posted on the Center for Medical Progress’s Web site, between bites of salad. “And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.”

She continues: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
Here's the harrowing video:

"Is it even possible to draw congressional districts in Florida that do not favor Republicans?"

The NYT asks, laying down this unexamined assumption: "In a perfectly unbiased electoral system, a party winning 50 percent of the statewide votes would earn 50 percent of the congressional seats." If that's the standard, then Florida has a problem:
In Florida, as is common around the country, Democrats are highly concentrated in urban centers like Miami; Republicans are more spread out around the state...

In Florida... this Democratic concentration is so extreme that even in partisan-blind districts drawn by a computer, the Republican bias remains.... Through all of [the computer] simulations, not a single neutral or Democrat-biased plan was generated....

Even the districting plans proposed by Democratic state legislators for the 2002 redistricting, which were presumably drawn favorably for Democrats, carried a Republican bias. 
Representatives represent districts, geographical subdivisions of the state. Does it need to be seen as a problem that some of the representatives of some districts have constituents who vote for them by a greater percentage than representatives who win elections in other districts? The Democrats' disadvantage is created by their own strategic choice to appeal to voters who are less geographically dispersed. In their places of greatest appeal, they win by large margins, which makes them want to take the votes they didn't need to win in the districts they win and put them in districts where they lose. Of course, this is done to some extent in those simulations and in plans proposed by Democrats. It's just that with the traditional districting concerns of compactness,contiguousness, and respect for political subdivisions, it's not possible to do enough of it in Florida to get to get to that point that the NYT calls "perfectly unbiased."

"Also, huge boo to the clue on MALE EGO (20A: Easily bruised thing for half the world)."

"First objection has to do with strangeness / difficulty / day-of-the-week issues....  MALE EGO is odd enough without the wannabe-clever Saturday-level clue. Secondly, that clue (esp. its tone) just really rubs me the wrong way, and I'm trying to figure out exactly why. I think the clue is, ironically, anti-feminist. It's winky and cutesy and stupidly totalizing ('half the world'???!). It's what I'd call Fake Feminism. Cosmo Feminism. It should be followed by 'amirite, ladies?' and then another round of appletinis. Also, 'MALE EGO' feels like a phrase whose currency peaked in 1978. It's not a very useful concept, because ... does it just mean 'the ego of men,' generally, or is it specifically (straight?) men's ego In Relation To Women, or what? The whole clue / answer pairing strikes me as at least mildly heterosexist. Not that gay men don't have egos, but ... as my (female) friend just said of this clue, it has a very 'Me Tarzan, you Jane, me tough caveman but have fragile psyche at same time' implication to it. The sentence 'Half the world's egos are easily bruised' is nonsense ... and thus so is the clue."

Rex Parker has a problem with today's NYT crossword.

"The New York Times is standing by its decision to omit Ted Cruz's new memoir from its best-seller list on the grounds that sales were driven by 'strategic bulk purchases'..."

"... despite the fact that both HarperCollins and Amazon say there is no evidence for that argument."
The Times has declined to make its methodology publicly available. [Times spokesperson Eileen] Murphy reiterated Monday that the best-seller lists "are based on a detailed analysis each week of book sales from a wide range of retailers who provide us with specific and confidential context for their sales."

"Our system is designed to detect anomalies and patterns that are typical of attempts to manipulate the rankings," Murphy said. "We've been doing this for a long time and we apply our standards consistently, across the board. The goal is to give Times readers our best assessment of what books are broadly popular at any given time."
Here's the Ted Cruz book, "A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America," in case you want to boost its sales. Amazon ranks it as #15 in Books and #1 in 3 categories: 1. Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Commentary & Opinion, 2. Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Conservatism & Liberalism, and 3. Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Political.

I've got to say that seems weird, given that Cruz isn't polling that well as a candidate. What's the attraction with this book?

"Three months ago, I began posting images of myself without makeup on social media."

"The following film contains real comments that were left on images of my face."

Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
I'm really not trying to say that men with acne don't suffer; however, the abuse shown in the video IS heavily gendered. All of that horrible shit about "never trusting a b*tch with makeup" and "have some dignity sl*t" is very specifically a thing that women have to deal with and men do not.

Although of course women are expected to cover it up,

And then be excoriated as liars and deceivers and whores by the same men who demanded they cover it with makeup in the first place.

There is absolutely a strain in U.S. culture, at least, which says that a woman in literally any state of existence is fundamentally horrifying and wrong.
To be fair, there is a huge middle ground between absolutely no makeup and theatrically heavy makeup. Only foundation was needed to even out the skin tone. The penciled eyebrows, false eyelashes, and "contouring" have nothing to do with hiding acne. But I do think the insults mean something. The Metafilter commenter calls them "heavily gendered," but, interestingly, we can't tell if they are coming from men or women. If from men, they ought to examine why they feel attracted to a look they know is a mask. Why get mad at women for walking through a well-known open door? If the insults are from women (heterosexual women), then what's is it — some screwy demand for a level-playing-field competition?

Somebody else at Metafilter links to this Amy Schumer video:

9 years and 3+ billion miles, we reach Pluto.

"This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach - 7:49 a.m. EDT today... This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface."

Obama's Iran deal.

Announced this morning.
In 18 consecutive days of talks here, American officials said, the United States secured major restrictions on the amount of nuclear fuel that Iran can keep in its stockpile for the next 15 years. It will require Iran to reduce its current stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98 percent, most likely by shipping much of it to Russia.

That measure, combined with a two-thirds reduction in the number of centrifuges spinning at Iran’s primary enrichment center at Natanz, would extend to a year the amount of time it would take Iran to make enough material for a bomb should it abandon the accord and race for a weapon — what officials call “breakout time.”

But American officials acknowledged that after the first decade, the breakout time would begin to shrink. It was unclear how rapidly, because Iran’s longer-term plans to expand its enrichment capability, using a new generation of centrifuges, will be kept confidential by the Iranian government, international inspectors and the other parties to the accord.

Rolling Stone, Politico, and CNN step on The New Republic's Scott-Walker-Is-Boring meme.

At Memeorandum right now:

What's the evidence that Walker — that red-meat-talking "disgrace" — is actually just boring? Embarrassingly, TNR's Bruce Beutler's evidence is Walker's Twitter feed, which is wonderful in a midwestern way Beutler [acts as if he] can't understand:

Beutler puts up 37 tweets of that sort and [acts as if he] believes his readers will buy the "boring" meme.

I've already said I love Scott Walker's Twitter feed — precisely because of the I-got-a-haircut stuff. It reminds me of the great old comic strip "Jim's Journal," written drawn by Scott Dikkers here at the University of Wisconsin back in the 1980s. Dikkers went on to co-found The Onion. Think about that, Beutler. Beutler?

(Much more "Jim's Journal" here.)

The American Presidency is structured to exclude women, Camilla Paglia essentially argues...

... in this essay explaining why the U.S. — unlike all those other countries "from Brazil and Norway to Namibia and Bangladesh" — has never had a female President.
[T]he complex, coast-to-coast primary system in the U.S. forces presidential candidates into well over a year of brutal competition for funding and grass-roots support. Their lives are usurped by family-disrupting travel, stroking of rich donors, and tutelage by professional consultants and p.r. flacks. This exhausting, venal marathon requires enormous physical stamina and perhaps ethical desensitization to survive it.

In contrast, many heads of state elsewhere ascend through their internal party structure. They are automatically elevated to prime minister when their party wins a national election. This parliamentary system of government has been far more favorable for the steady rise of women to the top.

The protracted and ruthlessly gladiatorial U.S. electoral process drives talented women politicians away from the fray. What has kept women from winning the White House is not simple sexism but their own reluctance to subject themselves to the harsh scrutiny and ritual abuse of the presidential sweepstakes....
That's the meat of the argument.  She praises some women and takes some shots at others, notably Hillary Clinton:
Most of the American electorate has probably been ready for a woman president for some time. But that woman must have the right array of qualities and ideally have risen to prominence through her own talents and not (like Hillary Clinton or Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) through her marriage to a powerful man.
ADDED: In one way, Paglia is saying it's not sexism. (Voters have long been ready for a woman.) But in another sense, it is. The system has been structured to fit the needs, qualities, and life patterns of men. It's in the Constitution. It's not parliamentarian. Paglia doesn't call that sexist, but it should be called sexist if you think disparate impact — especially once it's noticed and not changed — is enough.

IN THE COMMENTS: Original Mike said:
"The system has been structured to fit the needs, qualities, and life patterns of men."

If by that you mean it was purposefully structured to benefit men I'd say that's ridiculous.
It depends on what you mean by purposeful. I said "structured to fit... men." Men were the model the structure was designed for, whether anybody ever thought in terms of excluding women or not.

The Drill SGT brings up the analogy of firefighters:
Can't haul 50 feet of hose and an axe up 10 flights of stairs in 90 seconds wearing a tank and turn-out gear? Change the test...
If the test is really about what is needed for the job, it shouldn't be changed. So, I do want to add something to my statement that "disparate impact... once it's noticed and not changed" is sexist. Once it's noticed, we should look more closely to see if there's good reason to keep whatever it is that tends to exclude women.

The ordeal of running for President — is that something worth keeping? Quite aside from whether it excludes women, it doesn't get us to the best man either.

By the way — and this cuts in the other direction — running for and serving as President does not need to be made family-friendly. Both men and women should run for President only after their children — if any — have become adults.

July 13, 2015

"An Indian couple and four of their children were hacked to death by a mob of villagers who accused them of practicing witchcraft and making their children sick..."

"... police in the eastern state of Odisha said on Monday.
The victims were asleep in their mud house in the hamlet of Lahanda in Keonjhar district, when a group of around five people armed with axes broke in... The police reached the village in the early hours of Monday to find the mutilated bodies in pools of blood, an ax abandoned inside the hut, and a young boy still alive.... 'gasping between the dead bodies'....

In a separate incident, police on Monday recovered the remains of a man who was beaten to death and burnt by a mob over allegations of sorcery in Rayagada district, also in Odisha state....

"People believe in superstition because they do not have health care. They are uneducated. Unless we provide them these basic facilities, the situation will not improve," said Debendra Sutar, secretary of the Odisha Rationalist Society, a charity.

"A smart city doesn’t have to be as Orwellian as it sounds."

"If businesses act responsibly, there is no reason why what sounds intrusive in the abstract can’t revolutionize the way people live for the better by offering services that anticipates their needs; by designing ultraefficient infrastructure that makes commuting a (relative) dream; or with a revolutionary approach to how energy is generated and used by businesses and the populace at large."

The last paragraph of "'Smart Cities' Will Know Everything About You" in the WSJ.

What if Hillary gave a speech and nobody cared?

Judging from Memeorandum, that's what happened. The trending stories are about about Scott Walker's announcing his candidacy, President Obama commuting 46 drug sentences, a bit of the Donald-and-Bernie hijinks, Ted Cruz versus the NYT best-seller list, 50 Cent filing for bankrupcy, El Chapo's escape, and the prospects for a "mini ice age" in 15 years and an earthquake that "will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest" who knows when.

I do see one Reuters piece, "Clinton bashes Wall Street, pledges U.S. income equality." What? I thought she said, in that CNN interview I wasted my time on last week, that she was going to be laying out her economic policies in her speech today.
Clinton will unveil more specifics of her economic policy in a series of speeches in coming weeks... Putting some meat on the bones of her economic policy could divert focus from issues dragging on Clinton's popularity....
The substance is always coming later. And there's this in Politico, which seems to think the story of Hillary is insufficient by itself. "Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush renew sparring match over worker hours, pay." Had to put Jeb in there.

Not relying on Memeorandum, I found this in Business Insider:
Hillary Clinton just brought the most important economic issue of the next decade into the mainstream: the gig economy.... "This on-demand or so-called gig economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it's also raising hard questions about workplace protection and what a good job will look like in the future," she said at the New School in Manhattan on Monday.
So, the gig economy is an interesting new subcategory in within the issue of jobs, but it doesn't seem that she said anything she'd do about it.

And — also in Business Insider — I see she had a heckler — a heckler who tried to pin her down on an issue she was talking around: "Senator Clinton, will you restore Glass-Steagall?" If only the press would ask questions like that. Not that she'd answer it. She didn't answer the heckler.

I turned this up too. It's not about the speech that was supposed to be important. It's Richard Cohen at The Washington Post — not my ex-husband Richard Cohen — saying:
[T]he incessant attacks on her, the parsing of every sentence, the jumping on her characteristic but harmless overstatements like “dead broke,” brings out the Sir Lancelot (or is it Galahad?) in me. She might not be a damsel in distress, but her enemies are making her into one.
Oh, get that, Hillary opponents? Better not attack her or Richard Cohen, et al., will be moved to — gasp! — defend her. What bilge! You know, if we have to hold back attacking a woman lest men feel the need to defend her simply because she's a woman, then we shouldn't have a woman President.

"She said, 'It’s coruscating, Nicholas!'... I nodded sagely and had no idea what she meant."

"After she finished her second martini, I had to run home and looked the word up myself."

She = Therese von Hohoff Torrey, AKA Tay Hohoff, the editor responsible for turning "Go Set a Watchman" into "To Kill a Mockingbird."

I = Nicholas Delbanco, whose novel "Grasse 3/23/66" was cut by Hohoff from 500 pages to 200.

From "The Invisible Hand Behind Harper Lee’s 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'"

"My generation of the New Left — a generation that grew as the war went on — relinquished any title to patriotism without much sense of loss."

"All that was left to the Left was to unearth righteous traditions and cultivate them in universities. The much-mocked political correctness of the next academic generations was a consolation prize. We lost — we squandered the politics — but won the textbooks."

So wrote Todd Gitlin in an essay in a 2003 collection called "The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World."

I ran across that at the Wikipedia entry for Gitlin, which I was reading because he's got a piece the NYT: "The Bernie Sanders Moment":
It may have seemed, only a few years ago, that the ’60s radical moment was consigned to documentaries on Woodstock, pushed out of the spotlight for Occupy Wall Street and a new generation of activists to enter stage left. But here it is again....

Is [Bernie Sanders] a generational candidate, then, seizing the spotlight to vindicate fellow ’60s-era radicals who may have felt their moment was gone? Yes and no. His enthusiasts cut across age lines. Tim Ashe, a Vermont state senator who got his political start working for Mr. Sanders, is 38. He has met 20-somethings and 40-somethings who say they moved to Vermont because of Mr. Sanders’s appeal — not in order to vote for him, but to live in a place that would elect him. The Howard Dean of 2004, a far more moderate Vermont immigrant, was for some a first hurrah in national politics. Now Mr. Sanders is the purer vintage.

So once again, we are not done with the ’60s.... However unpromising his prospects for electoral victory, Mr. Sanders’s campaign is already a force....
Man, it must be annoying for these Sanders people to have their "moment" stepped on by the "force" that is Donald Trump, whose dim prospects of election are supposed to be a reason to completely ignore him. Why pay attention to one and not the other? It doesn't make sense.

Glenn Reynolds says something similar in "The Donald and Bernie show/When party outsiders feel ignored, a champion appears to take their interests to heart":
Both Sanders and Trump pose threats to their respective establishments. Sanders might be another Eugene McCarthy, who garnered tremendous enthusiasm in 1968 while sapping the energy of Democratic establishment candidate Hubert Humphrey, who went on to lose. Trump might turn out to be another Ross Perot, whose plain talk about deficits excited a lot of GOP voters who then saw George H.W. Bush as an unappetizing substitute.

In a democratic polity, you can't ignore the concerns of large numbers of voters forever. Both Democrats and Republicans are learning that lesson yet again.
And by the way, for those who think Trump is in a different category because he comes across as angry, take a closer look at Bernie Sanders. He was on "Meet the Press" yesterday, and we were repeatedly freezing the frame for the purposes of commenting on his angry facial expressions. If the press were as motivated to revile Sanders as they are Trump, they could easily put up photographs that make him look as weirdly enraged as the usual pictures of Trump.

Trump, it should be noted, is hamming it up for the camera. Sanders is trying to look presidential on a supportive morning news show. The freeze frame I caught was at 0:24 in the linked video, as he was saying "I voted against the Patriot Act."

Scott Walker announces his candidacy with a video that stresses winning while sticking to principles.

Line most likely to cause the home viewer to heckle out loud: "In Wisconsin, we didn't nibble around the edges...."

Here's the NYT article on the announcement. Excerpt:
After his remarks here [in Waukesha], Mr. Walker will visit the four early nominating states — Nevada on Tuesday, South Carolina on Wednesday, New Hampshire on Thursday and Iowa for a three-day “Winnebago tour.”

The recreational vehicle reflects a Midwestern, Everyman image of Mr. Walker that he has highlighted on the campaign trail with his stories about riding his beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycle and shopping for discount clothing at Kohl’s.

“He has an instinct, because he is so middle class, of absorbing information and facts and putting it through that middle-class filter,” said Ed Goeas, a senior adviser to Mr. Walker and veteran pollster. “Most people I work with are in one of two categories: You walk through an issue with them and they say, ‘Here’s my position,’ or you walk through an issue with them and they say, ‘Here’s my position, but what do the polls say?’” Mr. Goeas said. “The unique thing about Scott is, and I’ve never seen this with anyone else, he does a gut check after taking a position. He says, ‘Tell me, if we do this, if this is the solution, the one test I want to run is, will this make people’s lives better?’”