December 31, 2014

You see how happy your dog is to see you when you get home.

But you don't see how sad he is when you are away.

The new you.


Any New Year's changes you've got planned for yourself?

Don't be boring!

ADDED: I found those painted bowling pins in the Cherrywood Coffeehouse in Austin, Texas. Maybe they gave you the idea to take up painting bowling pins in 2015. You can buy old bowling pins at eBay, unsurprisingly. They're only about a dollar or 2. Many of the listings anticipate that you will be using them for target practice. So there's that too. You might want to sharpen your shooting in 2015.

Recommend self-improvements for Althouse in 2015. (Check as many as you want.) free polls

"Today I Learned Something about My Boyfriend That No Girl Should Ever Have to Discover."

"Mark was the stuff of dreams. Kind, caring, attentive. Enough to make all of my friends jealous. But today something horrible happened…"

(Via Metafilter.)

Celebrating the absence of a wedding.

"After Her Fiancé Left Her At The Altar, This Bride Took The World’s Best Photo Shoot/'The moment the first bit of paint hit my dress I was free.'"

ADDED: Not to be confused with "solo weddings."
The telling thing about the Japanese ceremonies is that they show that the single person would still like to marry someone, even if that someone is themselves. It makes their singledom look ludicrous. Marriage is a bond and a commitment—marrying yourself is ridiculous because you are already married to yourself....

For Paul McCartney, "it’s ridiculous, and yet very flattering" that college students now take courses on the music of The Beatles.

"Ridiculous because we never studied anything..."
... we just loved our popular music: Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, etc. And it wasn’t a case of ‘studying’ it. I think for us, we’d have felt it would have ruined it to study it. We wanted to make our own minds up just by listening to it. So our study was listening. But to be told – as I was years ago now – that The Beatles were in my kid’s history books? That was like ‘What?! Unbelievable, man!’ Can you imagine when we were at school, finding yourself in a history book?!

So it’s very flattering, and I think it’s a kind of cool idea really, you know, like in LIPA. So yeah, it’s very flattering. At the same time, I don’t think that by studying popular music you can become a great popular musician; it may be that you use it to teach other people about the history, that’s all valuable. But to think that you can go to a college and come out like Bob Dylan? Someone like Bob Dylan, you can’t make. It was an early decision when we were thinking of our policies for LIPA, we said: ‘We want to train people to be all rounders. Give them as much info as we can. But you can’t tell them how to become a Bob Dylan or a John Lennon, because you know, nobody knows how that happens’.”
I had to look up LIPA. From the Wikipedia disambiguation page, I cut right through the Liquid Isopropyl Alcohol, League for Independent Political Action, and the Long Island Power Authority, and saw that it's the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

"If the people who sell the popcorn at the theater would be fired for wearing what you’re wearing to your screening..."

"... then you’re being kind of an asshole movie star, Shailene.  Put your big girl pants on. And a pair of shoes, you savage."

The commentary on the #1 of Tom & Lorenzo's Top 5 Worst Red Carpet Looks of 2014. #1 is bad in a different way from the rest of the top 4. And as for #4, "now we know that nipple white-out is a thing."

The nudge and the prick.

Reading that last post out loud with Meade, we were talking about how the Democratic Party is trying to create anxiety by letting you know that the Party knows how much money they've gotten out of you this year.

It reminded me of that mailer I received a couple years ago from the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, showing my name and my home address and whether I'd voted in recent elections in a list with the same information about my close neighbors. That was really egregious guilt tripping, because neighbors were getting information about each other, so the organization was openly leveraging everyone's need to maintain esteem in the community.

But the new email from the Democratic Party relied on a similar psychological manipulation: My reputation is at stake. People whom I want to think well of me know that I'm not quite good enough, and they are showing me what I can do to fix that. I'd better vote this time so I don't look bad on the next mailer OR I can hit the $3/$10/$50 donate button.

Meade said this what they call "nudge." You know about the nudge. Cass Sunstein wrote a book on the subject "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness."

I said there needed to be a different word, because "nudge" seems to be a positive poke in the right direction, not the creation of anxiety around the thing that they don't want you to do.

That word is: PRICK.

"Prick" is the ideal word — quite aside from any indelicate intention to refer to male genitalia — because it means (OED): "To cause mental pain or discomfort to; to sting (esp. the conscience) with sorrow or remorse; to grieve, pain, torment" and "To poke at something as if to pierce it; to make a thrust or stab at." That is, "prick" is precisely the negative version of "nudge."

By the way, the "coarse slang" use of "prick" to mean the penis goes back to c1555:
c1555   Manifest Detection Diceplay sig. Biiiv,   To turne his pricke vpward, and cast a weauers knot on both his thumbs behind him....
The other "coarse slang" usage, which I particularly like in connection with my recommendation of a nudge/prick distinction is "A stupid, contemptible, or annoying person (esp. a man or boy)." That goes back to 1598:
1598   J. Florio Worlde of Wordes at Pinchino,   A pillicock, a primcock, a prick, a prettie lad, a gull, a noddie.
More recently:
1934   H. Miller Tropic of Cancer 110   Jesus, what I'd like is to find some rich cunt—like that cute little prick, Carl.
Miller doesn't mean he wants to find a "rich cunt" who resembles "that cute little prick, Carl." He means he wants to find "rich cunt" like the "rich cunt" found by "that cute little prick, Carl." Is Miller a sloppy writer or did he find that ambiguity amusing?

In any case, the word of the day is "prick." Don't let those manipulators of the masses say "nudge" when the word should be "prick." Observe the nudge/prick distinction.

ADDED: I just realized: If you like this blog post, you might want to consider doing your on-line shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

The Democratic Party wanted to make sure I knew that they knew what my supporter record was.

In the email yesterday, after many emails from the DP all week:

That's a freeze frame. In the original email, the clock ticks down second by second, New Year's Eve style. (I've blurred out the email address, which is my University of Wisconsin work email.)

I get so many emails from the Democratic Party throughout the year, always with that "donate" button, and always with a super-low option like $3. So there must be people who will have lost track of their "supporter record." Perhaps some of these people are susceptible to the worry that the Party has a number on them. They know. I'd better check. Is it enough? How can I not hit the button one last time this year and give them that less-than-a-latte $3?

As for me, I give nothing, ever, to any candidate, in any party, so I never lose track of my "supporter record."

December 30, 2014

"Arrests plummet 66% with NYPD in virtual work stoppage."

"... a nose dive in low-level policing... Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent... for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent... parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent...."

The NY Post reports.

At the Somber Face Café...


... there's no reason for this gloom.

"When works of art become commodities and nothing else, when every endeavor becomes 'creative' and everybody 'a creative'..."

"...  then art sinks back to craft and artists back to artisans—a word that, in its adjectival form, at least, is newly popular again. Artisanal pickles, artisanal poems: what’s the difference, after all? So 'art' itself may disappear: art as Art, that old high thing. Which — unless, like me, you think we need a vessel for our inner life — is nothing much to mourn."

"me" = William Deresiewicz.

"Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau today defended a comic strip based on the now-largely-debunked Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity."

“We’d hoped it would be obvious that the strip was written before Rolling Stone admitted problems in its reporting,” he emailed. “It’s not the first time I've been overtaken by events, and it won’t be the last—the occupational hazard of a long lead time.”
“Jackie’s story was not the focus, only the setup for commentary on institutional conflict of interest in adjudicating sexual assault, an issue that did not disappear with the credibility of the article,” he emailed. “Not even UVA has claimed otherwise.”

"Is it possible for you not to show a picture of the dead? Please do not show a picture of a dead body.”

"That’s crazy."

"... the atmosphere was very different after the footage of a dead body was shown. Families became hysterical...."

"Why, Suh, why? The answer may actually be quite simple: Suh simply can’t help it."

"There’s something almost pathological about his play," writes Terrence McCoy at WaPo.
“Emotions drive athlete behavior much more than rational thought,” Adam Naylor of Boston University told New York Magazine in June. “Intense emotions can lead to incredible performances, but they can also lead to total boneheadedness. Frustration is known to lead to aggression.”

Behavior on the field that by every estimation is stupid – like biting or stomping – is almost always extemporaneous, explained Thomas Fawcett of the University of Salford when he expounded on Suarez’s biting demons in 2013. “It’s not pre-planned – it’s a very spontaneous, emotional response,” he told the BBC. “He’s doing it on impulse.”
This is an insulting diagnosis. If Suh actually can't help it, he shouldn't be allowed to play.

ADDED: I just clicked on my Terrence McCoy tag. He's the "This graph proves it" guy. ("I'm surprised to see he's a Washington Post Foreign Affairs Reporter.")

"In the small village of Bélâbre in central France sits the room of Hubert Rochereau, untouched for nearly a century..."

"... as a memorial to the fallen solider, who died during World War I."

"But along with the pleasures of travel have come problems — cultural disruption and homogenization, overcrowding and pollution."

The NYT sets up one of its "Room for Debate" features, teased on the front page as "Leaving Smaller Tourist Footprints." There are 5 debaters, but no one gets anywhere near the radical environmentalist position: Abstain! Do not travel for pleasure at all. Travel only to escape from violence and natural disasters. (What about visiting family members? No! Keep your family in one place.)

The actual answers given are things like:

1. "Visit popular sites like Machu Pichu in the shoulder season or off season. Let places have time to breathe.... Visit indigenous and community-based initiatives where people are controlling tourism on their own terms...." (From a cultural anthropologist.)

2. If you go on a cruise, pick a cruise line that's "eco-friendly." (From a reporter.)

3. Look into "how socially and environmentally sensitive the area might be and how well integrated it is with local communities." (From the founder of the Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda in Kenya.)

4. "Resist the temptation to design a city around tourism... remember that tourists come [to New York City] to experience what New Yorkers themselves enjoy about the city." (From a NYC reporter.)

5. The tourist industry needs to adopt "sustainable tourism" standards. (From the chief executive of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.)

The oldest movie star dies.

"Luise Rainer, a star of cinema's golden era who won back-to-back Oscars but then walked away from a glittering Hollywood career, has died. She was 104."

Here's how it looked, getting an Oscar in 1936. You get 3 takes, if you need them:

And here's a bit of "The Great Ziegfeld":

When I saw the headline "The 10 Best Modern Love Columns Ever"...

... I immediately thought of 2 "Modern Love" columns that have stuck with me and formed a standard part of my thinking about relationships, so I click through and see that those 2 columns are #1 and #2 on the list.

1. “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage,” by Amy Sutherland, June 25, 2006.

2. “Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear,” Laura Munson, July 31, 2009.

I'd already put them in the same #1 and #2 order.

Here's my original June 29, 2006 blog post about the unutterably great "What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage." It took me 4 days to read the column, and I only gave it because of the way it sat at the top of the NYT "most emailed" list. I'd resisted it, based on the title, because "it made me think of a 50s housewife, the kind who would inspire what was once a trite wisecrack: 'She's got him well trained.'" Final paragraph of the old post:
Is it wrong to treat a person as an animal to be trained? Perhaps a better question is whether it is wrong to blunder along doing things that encourage your loved ones in their bad behavior. The image of the "full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog" really struck me. It may take more wit and nerve than you have to turn down that role if you've got a fired-up, scenery-chewing emoter in your house insisting that you co-star.
As for "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear," did I even blog it? It's about a woman saying "I don't buy it" when her husband asked for a divorce. She stuck by her position, and a divorce never happened. I always remembered that. What if I'd treated my first marriage that way? But that column came out 3 days before Meade and I staged the smallest wedding in the world on a mountain in Colorado.

I know how the drunk bird sings: Like a drunk.

"We just showed up in the morning and mixed a little bit of juice with 6 percent alcohol, and put it in their water bottles and put it in the cages." 
"At first we were thinking that they wouldn't drink on their own because, you know, a lot of animals just won't touch the stuff. But they seem to tolerate it pretty well and be somewhat willing to consume it."...

Listen to the audio, and you'll hear that the finches' song gets a bit quieter and just a little slurred, or as [neuroscientis Christopher] Olson puts it, "a bit less organized in their sound production"...

"Researchers from the cyber intelligence company Norse have said their own investigation into the data on the Sony attack doesn’t point to North Korea at all..."

"... and instead indicates some combination of a disgruntled employee and hackers for piracy groups is at fault."
Norse’s senior vice president of market development said that just the quickness of the FBI’s conclusion that North Korea was responsible was a red flag.

“When the FBI made the announcement so soon after the initial hack was unveiled, everyone in the [cyber] intelligence community kind of raised their eyebrows at it, because it’s really hard to pin this on anyone within days of the attack,” Kurt Stammberger said in an interview as his company briefed FBI investigators Monday afternoon....

“Whenever we see some indicators or leads that North Korea may be involved, when we follow those leads, they turn out to be dead ends,” Stammberger said. “Do I think it’s likely that [U.S. government officials] have a smoking gun? … We think that we would have seen key indicators by now in our investigation that would point to the North Koreans: We don’t see those data points. So if they’ve got them, they should share some of them at least with the community and make a more convincing case.”

December 29, 2014

"Attacking someone who is perceived to be a 'victim' can often be unproductive."

"I would suggest... a softly spoken denial rather than an outspoken challenge to the integrity of the women now coming forward. Simply put, it may be better to say nothing than try and engage so many."

Said criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman, quoted in "Cosby Team’s Strategy: Hush Accusers, Insult Them, Blame the Media."

"I was discussing this topic, specifically in reference to The Comeback with a friend of mine who is a straight, male television critic."

"I said to him that I feel like with straight white men, it does not occur to them that maybe not everything in the world is for them. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of straight white men who love The Comeback, because there are.... But when you’re a woman or something other than a straight, white man, you actually do get — because you must — that not everything is for you. And that’s OK. You’re used to it. The Comeback is not more dark or unrelatable than Breaking Bad. But a high school teacher who becomes a crystal meth kingpin? That is unrelatable. And that is dark!"

From "'The Comeback' Completes Its Perfect Comeback/Lisa Kudrow discussed the finale, the second season as a whole, and addressed important questions (i.e., is Valerie Cherish Jewish?) with BuzzFeed News."

ADDED: For those who don't click through, the quote comes from the interviewer, not Kudrow.

Female Episcopal bishop hits and kills a bicyclist and leaves the scene.

"Several news agencies have reported this as a 'hit and run.' Bishop [Heather E.] Cook did leave the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions."

What's the lag time on what counts as hit and run?
Jason La Canfora, the CBS reporter who covers the NFL and who lives in the area, said he saw the badly injured victim on the side of the road and stopped to call 911. He said the driver of the car was gone at that point.

A group of cyclists went looking for the vehicle and reported back to police that they had seen a car with a smashed windshield, La Canfora said. A short time later, the Subaru pulled up. He said its windshield was "three-quarters shattered."
I haven't researched the law here, but it seems to me that if you return to the scene because you realize you have been identified and will be caught, it's too late to undo the run. The run is all about the intention to get away with it, and once you know you're not going to get away with it, you're just switching approaches to what you were doing all along — serving your own interests.


From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want of charity, Good Lord, deliver us.

UPDATE: Finally, on January 9, the bishop was charged with manslaughter. We also learn that her blood alcohol level was 0.22 and that at the time of the accident, she was texting.

"Zappa Dummy."

A radio segment I enjoyed on my drive. It's about a music professor who teaches a course called "The Music of Frank Zappa" and who, as a teenager, assigned in art class to make something out of textiles, constructed a life-size dummy of Frank Zappa.

This has nothing to do with the Frank Zappa song "Dummy Up." Haven't thought about that song in years, but it came up in my search for that radio show.
[FZ:] The evil corrupter of youth is going to take him from Step One, which is a mere high-school diploma stuffed with a gym sock, to Step Two, which is a college-degree stuffed with absolutely nothing at all. Smoke that and it'll really get you out there!... No no, the college-degree is stuffed with absolutely nothing at all, you get . . . you get nothing with your college-degree...

[Napoleon:] Oh . . . But that's what I want.

[FZ:] I forgot, I'm sorry.

[Napoleon:] Well, You get nothin', but that's what I want.

[FZ:] A true Zen saying: Nothing is what I want . . . The results of a higher education!

That long Atlantic article about Erick Erickson, "the man who steers the Tea Party" who "says conservative anger has grown toxic and self-defeating."

"Is the Most Powerful Conservative in America Losing His Edge?" by Molly Ball.

1. There's a man who steers the Tea Party?

2. I haven't read this article, and yet somehow I feel pressured to care about it. I'm not enjoying this feeling.

3. I'm very familiar with the idea that right-wingers are "toxic," that anything at all right-wing is "toxic," whether there's excessive anger or edge or not. Any whiff of right-wingedness can cause left-liberals to view you as toxic, no matter how conciliatory and moderation-oriented you are. That's my personal experience.

4. I've never liked any of the yelling and sneering in politics, this "punch back twice as hard" business. I don't like it from lefties or righties. I've always had an aversion to politics, going all the way back to the time when the yippies moved in on the hippies.

December 28, 2014

The mental space of a long drive is a very different place. You can't get there by plane.

"Has the good Professor previously revealed a fear of flying?"asks Oso Negro, in "The Blue Sky Café." "Three hours on the plane, no matter how demeaning the screening process, surely beats two days each way in the car in the dead of winter,"

I answer:
It's much more than 3 hours, when you count getting to the airport, parking, slogging with luggage into the terminal, the wait that you have to build in to avoid missing the plane, the possible delays, in Madison and (especially) in Chicago (the only available connection), including the horrible delays that involve getting kicked out of the airport and needing to go to a hotel and then come back 4 hours later. I once had my 3-days-before Christmas flight cancelled, automatically rescheduled a day later, then had that flight cancelled, and found out that they had no flight that could get me to Austin for Christmas. That was the first Christmas I ever spent alone.

Quite aside from the time, it's that you are pushed around and crowded with other people continually. I don't have a fear of flying. I hate the conditions of disorder and complexity and indignity. I don't want to be treated that way.

And I have a car.

A car gives me flexibility about when to leave. I can pick good weather days, or give up on the whole trip at the last minute if I want. With a car, I have control and freedom. Yeah, it probably takes longer, but I am a free citizen in the United States of America. I'm comfortable in my safe and luxurious car (an Audi TT), and I've got satellite radio to fill my quiet space and cause my thoughts to roam.

I listened to a great TED Talk Hour about memory, and then I had an hour-long (hands-free) phone conversation with Meade, which included his stories about walking around Madison, which jogged my memory about the memory show, and we talked about all that for 70 miles.

The mental space of a long drive is a very different place. You can't get there by plane.

Greetings from Osceola, Iowa.

I'm 2/3 of the way home.

At last night's "Greetings from Kansas" post, I was complaining about driving in Austin:
My most harrowing driving experience was yesterday, just trying to get downtown in Austin. The highways there are evil, and there are local fuckers doubling down on the evil, making it a nightmare. I will never drive in Austin again. Whatever good there is in Austin is severely diluted by the hell of its roads.
With Chef Mojo's prompting "Austin drivers are just plain mean," I practically broke down:
It's so crushing, the feeling that one's fellow human beings are assholes. It makes life hard. I am trying not to be like that. I move over to let cars into the lane that is "mine." There are a hundred opportunities, every day, to show another person that you care how they feel. Maybe that's the most important thing we do. Maybe that's how God is keeping score. I won't specify the things I've done because of that thought, but please, people, think about it. Why are we here?
Ken in tx said:
Austin traffic is intimidating. Whenever I can get her to do it, I let my wife drive. She is more aggressive than I am. I had to use the GPS to find the driver's license office and the boat registration place. You got the Mopac expressway, the Capital of Texas Highway, the Ben White Expressway, and I-35, all with spaghetti junction intersections. I once lived in DC and survived that, but I was younger and thought I was invincible.
Yikes! I need a trigger warning before "Mopac expressway, the Capital of Texas Highway, the Ben White Expressway, and I-35." I've got PADS. Post-Austin Driving Syndrome.

Fortunately, Meade said:
[T]ake comfort knowing only one more day on the road and then you'll never have to drive again ever.
Which made me think of "Chauffeur Blues":
Going to let my chauffeur
Going to let my chauffeur
Drive me around the
Drive me around the world
Then he will be my lover boy, I will be his girl
Only a half day left on the road, and I'm going to see my baby tonight.

At the Blue Sky Café...

... you can talk. I've got to drive for 9 hours.

"How do you feel about country music?"

That's question #17 on the "What is your social class?" test we were talking about yesterday. There are 2 options: "I don't care for the twang" and "I like it!" Maybe I'm over-precise, but I always take the form of the options seriously. What are you supposed to do if you don't like country music enough to buy anything or but you do listen occasionally as you pop around on the satellite radio as you drive all day? What if what you "don't care" about is what "the twang" is supposed to mean?

I drove from Austin, Texas to Emporia, Kansas yesterday, and I mostly listened to talk channels (like PRX and NPR Now), but I sampled the music channels part of the time, and I usually don't listen to a whole song, but I stuck with Trisha Yearwood's "Walkaway Joe" until the end. I didn't notice any "twang" not to "care for." So I picked "I like it!" on the quiz. Was that why I missed out on being "upper middle class"?

The gospel music question had answers with the opposite problem. Instead of making me want to say "neither," it made me want to say "both." The answers for gospel music are: "It can be wonderful" and "I'm not a fan." It's easy to concede that it "can be wonderful," even you think it's mostly overdone and too histrionically religious. And you can enjoy it a fair amount without seeing yourself as "a fan."

What do you think of Althouse's analysis of multiple choice questions? free polls

ADDED: If you can't see the buttons to vote, go here.

"Why Airlines Want to Make You Suffer."

A headline so good it may trigger your click-bait resistance, but the article (in The New Yorker) delivers.

"We have to come together as one and show them we can be peaceful, that we can do this."

"If not, they’re going to just want us to act up so [police] can pull out their toys on us again... I learned that we have to stand up and that you can’t get nowhere with violence but you can always move people without it.

Said Joshua Williams, 19, last September. Williams, "[o]ne of the most frequently quoted and photographed Ferguson protesters was charged Saturday with setting fire to a Berkeley convenience store last week." Court documents say he has confessed to the crime.
“Josh is one of the young activists, and all of us have taken close to him. We got to know his heart, and he got to know ours,” said Bishop Derrick Robinson, of Kingdom Destiny Fellowship International. “He’s a great kid, an educated kid, a child who knows what he wants and is very active in the community.”

December 27, 2014

"Your habits and perspectives most resemble those of upper-middle-class Americans."

"Though members of this group are not the most accurate judges of others' emotions, they do have a high faith in people's basic decency, and a commitment to raising healthy, curious, and imaginative children. Your people eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, eschew cigarettes, and live in homes full of books. You have vast and eclectic tastes in music, which likely exclude country, gospel, rap, and heavy metal. In fact, you identify so strongly with your own individual tastes, that you may resent it a bit when friends impinge upon your discoveries."

Meade took the "What is your social class?" test. I'm blogging this before taking the test. Will update to show my results.

Your habits and perspectives most resemble those of middle-class Americans. Members of this group tend to be gentle and engaging parents, and if they're native English speakers they probably use some regional idioms and inflections. Your people are mostly college-educated, and you're about equally likely to beg children not to shout "so loudly" as you are to ask them to "read slow" during story time. You're probably a decent judge of others' emotions, and either a non-evangelical Christian, an atheist, or an agnostic. A typical member of this group breastfeeds for three months or less, drinks diet soda, and visits the dentist regularly. If you're a member of this group, there's a good chance that you roll with the flow of technological progress and hate heavy metal music.

Greetings from Kansas.

Somewhere in the middle of Kansas, halfway between Austin, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin, your steadfast blogger has holed up for the night. You may now rest easy, knowing that the aggressive drivers of Texas did not kill me, the icy highways of Oklahoma did not waylay me, and the speedy interstate they call 35 did not lure me onward into that drive-'til-dawn madness that gripped me in my younger years.

ADDED: It's really too early to sleep. 7:53. But I'm tired of all the driving, and eager to make the end of today so I can get back out there tomorrow and be home again. What do you do in this situation, alone in the hotel? The car is there, the distance is what it is, but sleep must have its place. Being awake in the hotel is not much different from being in the car holding the steering wheel. And yet, good sense says, you must stay put. No more forward movement until dawn... or near dawn. These useless hours, pre-sleep, alone, somewhere in Kansas.

Speaking of Kansas...

... I need to get to Kansas right now. What's not the matter with Kansas? It's the halfway point on the drive back home from Austin.

Here's a photograph to signal that this post is a café...

... and you can talk about whatever you want.

What is the NYT saying about Nebraska?

I'm just trying to understand the graphic that appears on the front page next to the teaser for an op-ed that I'm not particularly interested in reading, "Nebraska’s Lonely Progressives."

What is that thing? At first, I thought it was the back-end of a turkey carcass (sort of exploding). Then it looked like an ugly dog coughing. Clicking through to the article, I see that the front-page image is part of a larger image. The larger image is the shape of the state of Nebraska with squiggly drawings of people inside it and the image that's on the front page extends upward from the state. It's one person bulging up out of Nebraska and screaming, presumably something like Get me outta here!

The op-ed begins: "When I travel to the East or West Coasts, people sometimes ask me, 'Why do you live in Nebraska?' Or even, 'Have you considered moving?'" So I guess the exploding-turkey-carcass-ugly-coughing-dog-screaming-lady is the author herself.

Well, at least it's not "What's the Matter with Kansas?" The author, Mary Pipher, actually lives in the state that's annoying her. (By contrast, Thomas Frank grew up in Kansas, but got out of the place he wrote against.)

Bob Dylan lyric for the occasion: "Then you ask why I don’t live here/Honey, how come you don’t move?"

For those of you who know nothing about Nebraska, this opinion piece is very misleading. Nebraska had back to back Democrat senators from 1989 to 2013, and quite a few Democrat governors, most of them for two-terms, and many Democrats have served in the state legislature as well. Nebraskans aren’t generally ideological (see previous statement) and are nothing if not pragmatic. They were environmentally conscious long before it was a lefty cause, because it was entirely pragmatic to be so. But Nebraskans will always ask two questions about any proposed project: 1) what will it cost, and what’s the second choice for spending that money and 2) who will be hurt and who will be harmed. It is my observation that Nebraskans generally make choices from the utilitarian perspective—the greatest good for the greatest number. There is also plenty of good old “leave me alone and I’ll take care of myself” thinking, unless there is a disaster and then you can count on every Nebraskan in a 40-mile radius showing up to help. They aren’t anti-government, but they have a strong preference for small government. Nebraskans like to know that those they elect to Washington will work on their behalf, not for themselves. And maybe it’s because so many of them have farming backgrounds, but their B.S. detectors are finally tuned, and today’s typical lefty rhetoric has a hard time gaining traction with them.

"Will 2015 see a pushback against the anti-’rape culture’ movement on campus?"

Pushback the Night?

The question in the post title is from Cathy Young (quoted by Instapundit).

The question that begins this post is my suggestion for the name of the movement — a suggestion intended only as dark humor (I hasten to add for the that's-not-funny crowd). It's a variation on Take Back the Night.

Reactions have consequences.

A correction is needed, but that doesn't mean you should advocate for something you'd like to call "pushback against the anti-’rape culture’ movement."  Think about what is wrong with that phrase.

1. It's hard to understand with that "against the anti-" double negative. There are better ways to be positive.

2. No one wants to be "against... anti-rape"! You're relying on people to bunch "anti-rape" with "culture" — nudging with quotation marks — and to know that you can be both anti-rape and anti-"rape culture." That's a distinction that can be discussed calmly to good effect, so how can we get into a workable relationship where we can have a calm discussion?

3. No pushing! Eschew violent imagery. We don't need a "pushback" against a "movement." We need people to calm down and recognize that we want harmony and a good experience for everyone on campus. We don't want rape and we don't want kangaroo-court justice.

4. And we should want much more than that. We want ample and fair protection for anyone accused of misconduct, and we want young adults to develop rewarding relationships and good moral character. The present-day stress on 1. not raping anybody and 2. not utterly railroading the accused is shockingly debased. Where is the love? We need much higher aspirations.

December 26, 2014

At the Last-Night-in-Austin Café...

... save me a place at the table.

ADDED: The restaurant is the East Side Showroom. Highly recommended!

About that conversation about song lines that we like (and why do we like what we like when we like a song line?).

Blogged 2 days ago, here. One of the participants in the conversation — my ex-husband RLC — sends his list of lyrics:
Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.
Uh oh! This list begins tellingly. It was only last month that I was saying: "I can't stand Bruce Springsteen, and much as I dislike the Weekly Standard's bellyaching, it's not as bad as listening to Bruce straining histrionically."

Back to Richard's list:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

At the Peacock Café...

... you don't have to preen.

The Bob Dylan Christmas quotation.

Somebody commented on the usefulness of all the gifts exchanged at Christmas when there are no children around. And somebody else said this book is not useful. The giver of the book said, "What's more useful than knowledge?" The Dylan-quoter said — in a Dylan cadence — "useless and pointless knowledge." Which led the 2 oldest people in the room to recite an entire verse of "Tombstone Blues":
Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge

"The Islamic State is failing at being a state."

"The Islamic State’s vaunted exercise in state-building appears to be crumbling as living conditions deteriorate across the territories under its control, exposing the shortcomings of a group that devotes most of its energies to fighting battles and enforcing strict rules. Services are collapsing, prices are soaring, and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the 'caliphate' proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims."

Yeah... well... Woodstock Nation didn't really work out as a nation. Was that even the point? Isn't it more of a state of mind? The actual physical conditions of human health, safety, and welfare can be atrocious, but if you really believe...

"Woodstock Nation" has its own Wikipedia entry:
... More generally, however, the term is used as a catch-all phrase for those individuals of the baby boomer generation in the United States who subscribed to the values of the American counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s. The term is often interchangeable with hippie, although the latter term is sometimes used as an oath of derision...
Ha ha, I laugh derisively. As if "Woodstock Nation" isn't a term of derision. 

"Why is it assumed that atheists need to fill a void that religion somehow answers?"

"I find this column, and the many like it which the Times has published over the years, to be more than a little bit mystifying.... I feel no such void, and I rather doubt that many other atheists do, either. It has always seemed to me that the question should be reversed: why do religionists need to fill a perceived void that the rest of us don't feel? This life, this world, the values I hold, are quite sufficient for me; I feel no need to turn to some community professing belief in the supernatural to find meaning in life. I respect those who feel differently, but I do wonder why those professing belief need such an external reassurance of their own worth."

Top-rated comment at a NYT column "Religion Without God," by Stanford anthroprof T. M. Luhrmann. Let me extract from the column what I think answers the commenter's question:
[T]he British Humanist Association... sponsors a good deal of anti-religious political activity. They want to stop faith-based schools from receiving state funding and to remove the rights of Church of England bishops to sit in the House of Lords. They also perform funerals, weddings and namings. In 2011, members conducted 9,000 of these rituals.
So there are 2 (entirely divergent) needs : 1. anti-religion political activism, 2. rituals.

ADDED: I think many of the people who don't believe but want ritual in their lives simply continue to attend a traditional house of worship, perhaps keeping within the religious sect of their parents or grandparents or moving into the sect of their spouse. One might also enter a traditional place of worship that is nearby and seems beautiful in some way, perhaps because of the liturgy or the music, perhaps because of an eloquent minister and a compelling congregration.

And people with political needs also choose traditional religion without necessarily believing the metaphysical aspects. President Obama is the best example of that. As I wrote a few years ago, citing "Dreams from My Father," chapter 14:
While working as a community organizer, Obama was told that it would "help [his] mission if [he] had a church home" and that Jeremiah Wright "might be worth talking to" because "his message seemed to appeal to young people like [him]." Obama wrote that "not all of what these people [who went to Trinity] sought was strictly religious... it wasn't just Jesus they were coming home to." He was told that "if you joined the church you could help us start a community program," and he didn't want to "confess that [he] could no longer distinguish between faith and mere folly." He was, he writes, "a reluctant skeptic." Thereafter, he attends a church service and hears Wright give a sermon titled "The Audacity of Hope" (which would, of course, be the title of Obama's second book). He describes how moved he was by the service, but what moves him is the others around him as they respond to a sermon about black culture and history. He never says he felt the presence of God or accepted Jesus as his savior or anything that suggests he let go of his skepticism. Obama's own book makes him look like an agnostic (or an atheist). He respects religion because he responds to the people who believe, and he seems oriented toward leveraging the religious beliefs of the people for worldly, political ends.
Of course, if your political agenda is anti-religion, you're not going to take this path. And you're not going to get elected to much of anything.

"The M.B.A.... is 'a challenged brand.'"

"That’s because the degree suggests a person steeped in finance and corporate strategy rather than in the digital-age arts of speed and constant experimentation — and in skills like A/B testing, rapid prototyping and data-driven decision making...."

December 25, 2014

At the Too Many Pillows Café...

... something, someone... is out of reach.

Fire dog lake.

Meade walks the dog to the end of Picnic Point, the Lake Mendota peninsula, where he builds a fire for the people who happen to choose this route for their Christmas day walk.

I was in Texas, with my sons and my ex-husband... and peacocks....

... and from 1200 miles away...

... feeling the warmth of my beautiful brown-eyed love...

me, this picture, yahoo mail, common core, facebook, my car, the saints, gluten, netflix, my dog.

10 efforts by Google to complete the search "What's wrong with...?"

"I’m sure there are hundreds (thousands?) of people right now trying to figure out if they can visit Cuba before the inevitable surge of change."

"Miss seeing the crumbling buildings? The fifties-era cars? The Castro government propaganda?"
I’ve never understood these sentiments. I find them to be so tone-deaf, like this place that has shaped my entire existence is just a type of disaster tourism, a fun stop on a political nostalgia to-do list. They’re sentiments that gloss over and negate all the suffering and loss that has shaped what Cuba is today.

"I've recently celebrated my 19th birthday and after a lot of thought, I've decided it's time to tell everyone."

"I used to hide it but after a lot of encouragement from my friends at university, I've gained the confidence to come out with it."

Christmas, alone and together.

Merry Christmas, everyone. It's pre-dawn here in Austin, Texas, and I'm in the hotel alone. Meade is back home in Madison, muddling through somehow. I'll be celebrating with my 2 sons (and their father) later in the morning, but for now, it's quiet time. Maybe it's quiet for you too, or maybe you're in some delightfully rambunctious stage of the day, with children clamoring for Christmas action.

December 24, 2014

"Caterpillar sheds his skin to find a butterfly within."

The photograph is part of one of the many murals of Austin, Texas, where I'm hanging out with some dear family members on Christmas Eve. The post title is a line from an old Donovan song. The mural is right outside a café — one of the many cafés of Austin, Texas — and inside one of the topics of conversation was song lines that we like (and why do we like what we like when we like a song line?).

"First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is."

I put that on my list of song lines I like.

Love is the answer.

A mural in Austin.

(Talk about anything in the comments. This is a "café" post. And if you're shopping — not too late for gift cards! — please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"The FDA must commit to building a bigger, safer blood supply through risk-based screening & have courage to set policies based on science."

Tweets Elizabeth Warren.

Race and the V-neck sweater.

I'm in Austin (Texas) shopping, and the young, white saleslady wants to help me. I'm looking for sweaters for 2 young men, men in their early 30s. I'm not seeing anything I like at all. Everything looks oversized and boxy. She pulls one out that she thinks might be suitable, but then says in a somewhat apologetic tone: "It has a V-neck."

ME: Is there something wrong with V-neck sweaters? People have some kind of problem with V-necks? What's that about?

SHE: Well, my husband doesn't like them. But he's black.

ME (resisting the urge to say "Black people don't like V-neck sweaters?"): V-neck sweaters... are... square?

"The video was taken from a distance but the episode did not appear to turn confrontational until one of the men turned away, reached down and then turned back to face the officer, appearing to point his arm straight out."

The police say there was a gun in that hand, aimed at the officer, who shot the man dead. That part is not in the video.
“The Berkeley police officer exited his vehicle and approached the subjects when one of the men pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officer,” the county police department, which is leading the investigation, said in a statement. “Fearing for his life, the Berkeley officer fired several shots, striking the subject, fatally wounding him. The second subject fled the scene.”
This happened in a place called Berkeley, near Ferguson, Missouri.

December 23, 2014

Christmas agave.

Seen today, in Austin.

"The World Is Not Falling Apart."

"Never mind the headlines. We’ve never lived in such peaceful times."

At the Christmas shopping café...

... you can talk about whatever you want, but I've got a confession: I haven't done any of my shopping yet! If you need to shop on line, by the way, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal. I'm doing some in-the-flesh shopping myself, from my remote outpost in the south, where I've arrived at the end of a 2-day, 1200-mile drive. Did you notice? Meade is guarding the northern outpost.

"The Senate basically didn’t do squat for years.""

Says Mitch McConnell.

"It is a war on cops..."

Says Bernie Kerik.

"Madonna put the songs out shortly after the online leak of more than a dozen songs... she called the leak a 'form of terrorism.'"

"The leaked tracks might, in the end, only raise Madonna’s stature. When the finished album is released — with or without different songs — fans will hear what she adds to them, what she changes, what her standards and instincts demand."

"It was largely the men of the class who became the true creators, founding companies that changed behavior around the world and using the proceeds to fund new projects that extended their influence."

"Some of the women did well in technology, working at Google or Apple or hopping from one start-up adventure to the next. Few of them described experiencing the kinds of workplace abuses that have regularly cropped up among women in Silicon Valley."

From Jodie Kantor's NYT article "A Brand New World In Which Men Ruled/Instead of narrowing gender gaps, the technology industry created vast new ones for Stanford University’s pioneering class of 1994."

Rolling Stone magazine asks the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to investigate "the editorial process that led to the publication of the [UVa rape] story."

"... Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone’s editor and publisher, said that the review would be led by Steve Coll, the journalism school’s dean, and Sheila Coronel, the dean of academic affairs.... The report will be published unedited and in its entirety on Rolling Stone’s website, and excerpts will appear in the magazine."

Good... although I feel some suspicion about this: 1. Their website will get a lot of clicks out of that, 2. Going outside is a way of getting the appearance of absolution, which they're already getting with this announcement, 3....

What's the academic wording for "fake but accurate"?

December 22, 2014

At the Tesla Café...

... plug in!

Goodbye to Joe Cocker.

He was 70.

I loved when he was on "Saturday Night Live" with John Belushi:

It's his mattress too.

"He has gotten used to former friends crossing the street to avoid him."
He has even gotten used to being denounced as a rapist on fliers and in a rally in the university’s quadrangle. Though his name is not widely known beyond the Morningside Heights campus, Mr. Nungesser is one of America’s most notorious college students. His reputation precedes him. His notoriety is the result of a campaign by Emma Sulkowicz, a fellow student who says Mr. Nungesser raped her in her dorm room two years ago. Columbia cleared him of responsibility in that case, as well as in two others that students brought against him. Outraged, Ms. Sulkowicz began carrying a 50-pound mattress wherever she went on campus, to suggest the painful burden she continues to bear....

He says that he is innocent, and that the same university that found him “not responsible” has now abdicated its own responsibility, letting mob justice overrule its official procedures. The mattress project is not an act of free expression, he adds; it is an act of bullying, a very public, very personal and very painful attack designed to hound him out of Columbia. And it is being conducted with the university’s active support. “There is a member of the faculty that is supervising this,” he said. “This is part of her graduation requirement.”
He plays the bullying card.

"Jon Stewart’s expiration date: Why liberalism needs to outgrow the snark."

Headline of a Salon article that ends: "If liberals want to see more of the kind of direct action that’s characterized the Occupy Wall Street and #blacklivesmatter movements — if they really want to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable — they’re going to have to embrace a political vision that has grown beyond the idiosyncratic limitations of Jon Stewart."

"US Corps Claim Billions In Assets In Cuba And Now They'll Want It Back."

That's the way TPM puts it.

50 years ago today: Lenny Bruce was sentenced to "4 months in the workhouse."

He never served that sentence, however. He was free on bail pending the appeal, and he would have won that appeal, but he died, at the age of 40, before the court issued the opinion.

Here's an excerpt from the trial court's unpublished opinion, with this 12-point list of Lenny Bruce Bruce's jokes, awkwardly retold judicial style:
1. Eleanor Roosevelt and her display of "tits." (1st performance; transcript of 3rd performance at p. 27)
2. Jacqueline Kennedy "hauling ass" at the moment of the late President's assassination. (Transcript of 2nd performance at p. 22; transcript of 3rd performance at p. 13)
3. St. Paul giving up "fucking." (1st performance; transcript of 2nd performance at p. 12; transcript of 3rd performance at p. 19)
4. An accident victim-who lost a foot in the accident-who made sexual advances to a nurse, while in the ambulance taking him to the hospital. (1st performance; transcript of 2nd performance at p. 25)
5. "Uncle Willie" discussing the "apples" of a 12-year old girl. (transcript of 2nd performance at p. 20; transcript of 3rd performance at p. 12)
6. Seemingly sexual intimacy with a chicken. (transcript of 2nd performance at p. 25)
7. "Pissing in the sink" and "pissing" from a building's ledge. (transcript of 2nd performance at p. 24; transcript of 3rd performance at p. 15)
8. The verb "to come," with its obvious reference to sexual or orgasm. (1st performance)
9. The reunited couple discussing adulteries committed during their separation, and the suggestion of a wife's denial of infidelity, even when discovered by her husband. (1st performance; transcript of 2nd performance at p. 29)
10. "Shoving" a funnel of hot lead "up one's ass." (transcript of 2nd performance at p. 22; transcript of 3rd performance at p. 13)
11. The story dealing with the masked man, Tonto, and an unnatural sex act. (1st performance)
12. Mildred Babe Zaharias and the "dyke profile of 1939." (transcript of 3rd performance at p. 27)
Bruce received a pardon in 2003. His daughter Kitty Bruce, who was 11 when her father died, said:
"Isn't this wonderful? Isn't this a great day in America? Boy, has this been nuts, or what? My dad had so much to say and so little time to say it. This is what America is all about.''

December 21, 2014

At the Blue Gray Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And, please, if you need to shop: Use The Althouse Amazon Portal.


Hillary Clinton calls the movie about Kim Jong-un "disgusting and reprehensible."

"The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this movie. We absolutely reject its content and message. To us — to me personally — this movie is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose — to denigrate a revered world leader and to provoke rage..."

Oh... wait... that was that "Innocence of Muslims" movie about Muhammad that some sleazy guy made. Is he still in jail? This Kim Jong-un movie is a different matter. Free speech! Free speech! How dare the North Koreans object to "the fiery, slow-motion assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, to the tune of Katy Perry's 'Firework'"!
“We will make it less gory," the [director Seth Rogen responded to Sony Pictures' Amy Pascal who had some concerns]. "There are currently four burn marks on his face. We will take out three of them, leaving only one. We reduce the flaming hair by 50%." In October, Rogen sent Pascal a follow-up message with the subject line "Kim Face Fix," noting that "the entire secondary wave of head chunks" had been removed. A special-effects technician later weighed in with an update: "the goop from the head pop is darker, specifically to make it less flesh-like and more surreal."
I'm all for free speech, myself. Even for corporations like Citizens United and Sony. But why is this movie deserving of high-level government support when "Innocence of Muslims" was treated like the garbage that — on an artistic/expressive level — it actually was? Let's have some consistency! Do we love free speech and stand up to foreign bullies or don't we? Pick one!

"Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately..."

"... without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk — real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious."

Jack Kerouac, "On the Road" (1951).

Modified Christmas, Christmaskwanzakkah, and the No-Holidays Holiday.

3 approaches to dealing with the desire for festivities at solstice time, discussed in "My Jewish child was asked to wear a Santa hat at school. Should I care?"

Public schools would do best to go with... free polls

"If you want a government that’s gonna intrude on your life, enforce their personal views on you, then I guess Jeb Bush is your man."

"We really don’t need another Bush in office," said Terri Schiavo's widower Michael.
Though Michael Schiavo got a court order in 2002 to remove his wife’s feeding tube — he said his wife had not wanted to be kept alive artificially — Jeb Bush intervened, pushing the state legislature to pass an unconstitutional bill in a special session giving him authority to order the feeding tube reinserted. When a state judge ordered it removed again, [Michael Schiavo's lawyer George] Felos told ThinkProgress, Bush “manipulated the organs of state government in order to try to evade the court order.”
There's an unfortunate phrase in a serious discussion —  "manipulated the organs of state government" — and yet it's oddly apt, expressing outrage at the inappropriateness of Bush's intrusions. 

"Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases."

Said Al Sharpton.

AND: "NYPD cops furious with Bill de Blasio turn their backs on the mayor as he enters hospital where officers died."

"In 1968, he used a bread truck to smuggle [The Grateful Dead] onto a Columbia University campus that had been shut down by student strikers."

"The next year, he may have arranged for Hells Angels to provide what turned out to be grossly inadequate security at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, where a man was stabbed to death as the Rolling Stones played."

Just 2 of many interesting sentences in the obituary of "Rock Scully, Grateful Dead’s Manager Who Put the Band on Records."

He leaves behind a daughter, Sage, and a stepdaughter, Acacia. He had a son too, by a woman named Tangerine, but he died in Thailand 10 years ago in the tsunami.

The Dead fired Scully for his drug addition, in 1984, and they blamed him for the drug-related death, 11 years later, of Jerry Garcia. Scully eventually overcame his substance abuse problem, and he entered into a part of his life that his brother called "a very humbling time": "he returned to Carmel, where he took care of his mother, painted houses and became involved in local civic issues."

December 20, 2014

"'I'm Putting Wings on Pigs Today,' a person believed to be the gunman wrote on Instagram..."

"... in a message posted just three hours before the officers were shot through their front passenger window."
“They Take 1 Of Ours … Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” the post continued, signing off with, “This May Be My Final Post.”

Mark Bittman shows James Hamblin how to cook spaghetti squash.

Comment at The Atlantic:
"Oh James, I could so teach you to cook. And I love the look of bewilderment on Mark's face when James eats the raw spinach of the box."

"What's your drinking nationality?"

The booze calculator.

(I'm Equatorial Guinea!)

The sound of ice formation...

... on the last day of fall, on Lake Mendota, in the state park of the Gaylord Nelson, where we hiked across stretches of a thousand shades of brown...


We need more ice and more snow and we settle in for the solstice.

ADDED: I don't know about you, but for me, when my clinking ice video ended, YouTube sent me to an ASMR video "Bowl of Ice Cubes, wonderful tapping/rain sounds."

"Who's winning GOP Cuba policy smackdown?"

"Marco Rubio vs. Rand Paul."

"Like many graduate degrees, a Master of Fine Arts carries rising costs and brings limited job prospects. So why are more Americans pursuing one?"

Intro to an Atlantic article quoted by its best-rated comment, which says: "The article doesn't answer its own question. The writer didn't ask even one MFA student, 'So... why are you getting an MFA if you're going to spend your life behind a Starbucks counter?'"

Third best-rated comment: "Next in The Atlantic: Forming a garage band. An increasingly popular, increasingly bad financial decision. Next: Playing minor league sports. An increasingly popular.... Come on. People have dreams, and mostly they fall through. Why pick obsessively on the academic ones."

"The state Government Accountability Board’s top officials proceeded with a secret probe into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative political groups for months without authorization..."

"... from the six retired judges who run the board, court records unsealed Friday allege. The documents filed by a target of the investigation also allege that the board voted to end its involvement in the probe in July but that staff continued to work on it."

ADDED: This strikes me as the ultimate in bullshit:
... David Deininger, the retired appeals court judge who chaired the board during the launching of the John Doe investigation, defended [GAB chief counsel Kevin Kennedy and Jonathan Becker, administrator of the agency’s ethics and accountability division].

Deininger... said he didn’t recall exactly when the board was made aware of the investigation, “but something of this magnitude would have been brought to our attention at the earliest opening. They would know this would have been something the board needed to be up to speed on from the get-go." 
He also vouched for Kennedy and Becker, saying impartial administration of election laws was their “modus operandi." "They are professionals and they have always been so," Deininger said.
The GAB is enforcing the letter of the law on its targets. You cannot defend them by saying but they are good people who mean well and who never departed from the spirit of the law. Sticklers must be judged by stickler standards.

"UW-Madison graduate students trump 3 teams, win 'Amazing Race.'"

"The 'Sweet Scientists' team, aptly named for DeJong and Warren’s research topics of candy and ice cream, barely made it to the finale after finishing behind three other teams at the end of last week’s episode. But in a surprise ending, the show kept the duo for the finale, which elicited some frustrated remarks throughout the episode from the other teams."

I'm glad to see a UW team win. I didn't watch because I have tried and failed to enjoy "The Amazing Race." I tried, because it's said to be good. I failed, because it involved scenes of travel difficulties, dealing with airport personnel at ticket counters and so forth, and that's too real.

"They called me an unbeliever for defending democracy, which the Islamic State says is against the Koran."

Said Mohamed Taha Sabri, who is losing support at the House of Peace mosque in Berlin.
“The Islamic State. It is like an invisible arm, coming to poison the wells where our children drink,” Sabri said. “We are losing something precious. We are losing our young people.”...

[T]he Tunisian-born Sabri, who was imprisoned and tortured in the 1980s as a student protester before moving to Germany, called a series of youth meetings. He prominently displayed the flags of Germany and the European Union. His point: Muslims should be proud to live in a thriving Western democracy.

Sabri called the gatherings five days in a row, stringing up new flags each day. But every morning, he said, he arrived to find that some of the youths had taken down both flags before violently shredding them with pocket knives.

"I was disappointed that Lennon got away with giving it to Spector, and even more disappointed with what Spector did to it."

"It has nothing to do with the Beatles at all. ‘Let It Be’ is a bunch of garbage.... [Spector] puked all over it. I’ve never listened to the whole thing, I’ve only listened to the first few bars of some things and said, ‘Oh, forget it.’ It was ridiculously, disgustingly syrupy."

Said the recording engineer and producer Glyn Johns.

Also at the link: Johns on The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin.)

December 19, 2014

"On Thursday, we noticed about 1.3 million of Kim Kardashian’s vanished. Rihanna’s decreased by about 1.2 million."

"Katy Perry’s went down 300,000. Even Oprah lost 100,000."

What did they lose?

"[A] single senior officer, who is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the C.I.A.... appears to have been a source of years’ worth of terrible judgment..."

"... with tragic consequences for the United States. Her story runs through the entire report. She dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked.... [S]he has been promoted to the rank of a general in the military... [T]his woman... had supervision over an underling at the agency who failed to share with the F.B.I. the news that two of the future 9/11 hijackers had entered the United States prior to the terrorist attacks...."

From "The Unidentified Queen of Torture," by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

ADDED: I wonder what the basis is for using the word "gleefully."

" wanted to paint me as a bad guy, and in general it’s their right to tell the story as they see fit."

"But my emails, right there for all to see, specifically indicated that I wanted the restaurant to refund all customers who had been overcharged. Somehow that key fact ended up totally missing from almost all the media coverage.... From my perspective, the most distressing aspect of the media coverage was how little attention the articles paid to my true motivations."

Said Ben Edelman, the Harvard professor whose email to a restaurant made so many people think he was a world-class asshole.

"We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all fucking people.... we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane."

Said George Clooney.

ALSO: Obama said: "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States... I would have told [Sony executives], do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks."

Stephen Colbert lays down the mask.

A great conclusion to the great show. 

ADDED: GIFs of the cameos. My thoughts: 1. The first one I saw was the person I like best: Willie Nelson. 2. Samantha Power really wants you to think she's a very fun person, 3. Bill Clinton claims and gets special attention.

Can Oklahoma and Nebraska get the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Colorado from facilitating the commerce in marijuana?

States suing states can file their case directly in the Supreme Court, as you may know. Here's the NYT article about the lawsuit:
“Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states,” the suit says, undermining their marijuana bans, “draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.”...

Nebraska and Oklahoma’s challenge is aimed more at the commercial side of marijuana legalization, which created new systems of regulations and taxes as well as recreational stores, dispensaries and production facilities that are monitored and licensed by state officials. The suit does not specifically seek to overturn the portion of Amendment 64 that made marijuana legal for personal use and possession, meaning that portions of legalization could survive even if Nebraska and Oklahoma prevail.
States are not obligated to help the federal government enforce its laws, and clearly Colorado can decide to do nothing and let the feds enforce their own law. That's why Nebraska and Oklahoma has focused on the active things Colorado is doing to facilitate the commerce in marijuana.
The lawsuit... accused Colorado officials of participating in a “scheme” that cultivates, packages and distributes marijuana in direct violation of controlled-substances laws while “ignoring every objective embodied in the federal drug control regulation.” ...

While it is against the law to take legally purchased marijuana across state lines, Nebraska and Oklahoma said that Colorado does not require consumers to smoke or eat their marijuana where they buy it, and said that despite purchasing and possession limits, anyone can easily visit several dispensaries and stock up. Some sheriffs in bordering states say they have pulled over drivers and found edibles and marijuana from multiple Colorado retail outlets.
You can read the state's Motion for Leave to File Complain, Complaint, and Brief here.

How many of the articles about Obama and Cuba mentioned cigars?

Like about 11,000.


"Also, we have ACTUAL GIF evidence that she looked absolutely incredible in the moving flesh."

The Justice Department makes a big move on transgender rights.

"Attorney General Holder announced today that the Department of Justice will take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status."
Attorney General Holder informed all Department of Justice component heads and United States Attorneys in a memo that the department will no longer assert that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex excludes discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender discrimination, reversing a previous Department of Justice position.  Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate in the employment of an individual “because of such individual’s…sex,” among other protected characteristics.

“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” said Attorney General Holder.  “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants.  And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

"I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist — in general pictures with an African American lead don’t play well overseas."

"But Sony sometimes seems to disregard that a picture must work well internationally to both maximize returns and reduce risk, especially pics with decent size budgets."

From the leaked Sony email, the remarks of an unnamed producer. This was in the context of explaining why a particular film didn't do well in foreign countries, but the analysis extends to future planning:
"No, I am not saying ‘The Equalizer’ should not have been made or that African American actors should not have been used (I personally think Denzel is the best actor of his generation).... Casting him is saying we’re ok with a double if the picture works.... He’s reliable at the domestic (box office), safe, but has not had a huge success in years. I believe whenever possible the non event pictures, extra ‘bets’ should have a large inherent upside and be made for the right price. Here there isn’t a large inherent upside."
"Double" isn't some movie-industry term, apparently. It's "double" as opposed to "home run." A baseball analogy. That baseball analogy gives way to a gambling analogy, and we can see that the people channeling the money are trying to make money. It's a money-making business, not a lofty art project or a social-change movement.

But let's take a hard look at the old argument: I'm free of racial bias, but my customers are not. That's the argument restaurants used to defend a whites-only policy half a century ago, before Congress made it illegal. Movies, of course, are a form of expression and not places of public accommodation. There can't be any laws relieving movie-makers of the urge to cater to the racial bias of the audiences. That's true even if we think the producers have nothing sincere to say to us and only use expression as a means to an end to get us to hand over our money.

We can withhold our money. The movie business seems to notice when people avoid a movie. That's what the unnamed producer was doing in that leaked email. And yet it's difficult to imagine people staying away from movies they want to see in an effort to contribute to some inchoate message to the film industry that it should treat black actors the same as white actors.

But to see the leaked emails is to get a clearer picture of the decision-making that underlies the product that we are invited to purchase. We don't buy food when we know the factory is squalid.

The death of a 300-year-old tree.

Goodbye to the President's Tree, the oldest tree on the University of Wisconsin campus:
Long before the tract of land next to Lake Mendota became the University of Wisconsin, an acorn embedded itself in the soil not far from some burial mounds created by the original occupants of the land....

“We wanted to keep it as long as we could,” said Daniel Einstein, UW-Madison historic and cultural resources manager. “But in the past few years with the drought and harsh winter, the tree has declined pretty rapidly.”

December 18, 2014

"My thriftiness overwhelmed my modesty, and I removed my T-shirt, stripped off my briefs and marched back to the store."

"If it was hard to buy produce without clothing and with a poor command of the language, it was more difficult to return it. Perhaps the poignant sight of a flat-chested, middle-aged American woman seeking to buy a voluptuous French melon melted the icy heart of the clerk. She found me another watermelon."

From "Vacationing in the Nude, With Mom" (in the NYT).

"Just as people are free to contract, they are also free from contract, and we find it neither prudent nor permissible to impose contractual liability for offhand remarks or grandstanding."

Said the 11th Circuit today, denying $1 million to the law student about whom I said, 5 years ago, "Give this law student a million dollars."

A criminal defense lawyer had argued that his client could not have committed the murder he was accused of because the time frame was impossible. From the opinion (PDF):
[F]or the last leg of the journey, Serrano would have had to get off a flight in Atlanta’s busy airport, travel to the La Quinta several miles away, and arrive in that hotel lobby in only twenty- eight minutes. After extensively describing the delays that would take place to render that twenty-eight-minute timeline even more unlikely,[the lawyer James Cheney] Mason stated, “I challenge anybody to show me, and guess what? Did they bring in any evidence to say that somebody made that route, did so? State’s burden of proof. If they can do it, I’ll challenge ‘em. I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it.”
A law student, Dustin S. Kolodziej, made the trip within 28 minutes, demanded the million dollars, and when it was not forthcoming, sued Mason's law firm for breach of contract. Kolodziej's theory was that Mason's challenge was an offer to form a unilateral contract and that he could and did accept by performing the task. According to the court (applying Florida law), that depended on whether "a reasonable, objective person would have understood [Mason's words] to be an invitation to contract."
The exaggerated amount of “a million dollars”—the common choice of movie villains and schoolyard wagerers alike—indicates that this was hyperbole….

We could just as easily substitute a comparable idiom such as “I’ll eat my hat” or “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle” into Mason’s interview in the place of “I’ll pay them a million dollars,” and the outcome would be the same. We would not be inclined to make him either consume his headwear or assume a simian relationship were he to be proven wrong; nor will we make him pay one million dollars here.
ADDED: Werner Herzog did eat his shoe:

"I believe that all of what we manifest — all of our brain activity, everything we experience — is due to the way the brain functions."

"This includes self-awareness. Being aware of what's going on around you and the way you are and what you are is an experience. An experience is a mechanism, a processing happening inside your brain. So if you make a copy of all of that processing, then I'm convinced that copy will include self-awareness.... If you have an exact copy of the entire brain and you aren't leaving out the parts that are involved with emotions, then why wouldn't you have humor, why wouldn't you have empathy? You would have the same sense of humor in your substrate independent mind as you do in reality. Having a sense of humor is just a certain way of processing activity that goes through your brain, just like the concert pianist who plays Beethoven in a certain way."

From "This Neuroscientist Is Trying to Upload His Entire Brain to a Computer."

But people don't have that much empathy and humor, so why would you think human brains uploaded into computers — severed from the remainder of the nervous system and from a fleshly body capable of interaction with other bodies — would generate nicely friendly emotions? We may love and hope to preserve empathy and humor, but why wouldn't the bodiless brain manifest unpleasant emotions, like rage and sadness? I don't think the neuroscientist really believes what he's saying. Notice the "if" clause and the question mark and the words "just like" in that Beethoven analogy.

"This is the final installment of the Illustrated Scroll of Jack Kerouac’s novel 'On the Road.'"

"I started making one drawing for each page of the book in 2012 and reached the end at page 309 a few weeks ago...."
Last month, Paul Slovak, editor at Viking Penguin called to see about publishing the drawings as a book. He had some great ideas about packaging and design and it looked like it was going to be in stores next fall, but we got some bad news from the Kerouac Estate. They decided not to grant permission because they feel that the project “detracts from the book,” is a “dumbing down” of On the Road, and “diminishes the aura” that the novel possesses....
Ah! Too bad! You can see the drawings by Paul Rogers at the link. Here's a list of things Jack Kerouac called "dumb" in "On the Road":