September 19, 2015

The NYT would like us to talk about "Generation Z."

Somehow there are 2 articles:

1. "Move Over, Millennials, Here Comes Generation Z."
Sure, millennials were digital; their teenage years were defined by iPods and MySpace. But Generation Z is the first generation to be raised in the era of smartphones. Many do not remember a time before social media.

“We are the first true digital natives,” said Hannah Payne, an 18-year-old U.C.L.A. student and lifestyle blogger. “I can almost simultaneously create a document, edit it, post a photo on Instagram and talk on the phone, all from the user-friendly interface of my iPhone. Generation Z takes in information instantaneously... and loses interest just as fast.”
2. "How to Spot a Member of Generation Z."
“This group seem much less attached to traditional gender binaries or linear definitions of sexuality,” said Lucie Greene, a trend forecaster at J. Walter Thompson, the advertising giant. “It’s all about individualism and the right to be whatever you want.”
Individualism and the right to be whatever you want is the line I've heard all my life. Conformity was always the problem of those terrible people of the past. (By the way, I used to work at J. Walter Thompson, back around the time when Generation Z people were getting born.) [I mean the parents of the Gen Zs were getting born.]

"If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton," said Carly Fiorina.

And Politico collected some answers, in "What Is Hillary’s Greatest Accomplishment?" I haven't read any of the answers yet, but I think the obvious answer is getting and staying married to Bill Clinton. It doesn't say much about whether she should be President, but it's a very grand and amazing accomplishment.

The most common response at the link is the one put most pithily by Paul Begala: "Iran sanctions. Sec. Clinton accomplished the nearly impossible mission of getting China, Russia, the European Union and the civilized world on board with crippling sanctions against Iran. This is what brought Iran to the negotiating table."

"We didn’t see any fire at all and then we rounded one last corner and then it was completely engulfed in flames and there was nothing we could do."

"We live in kind of a dead-end community so there was no way out, we had to go forward. We had to get out."
The family had to drive slowly through the streets because the smoke was so thick, Wolf said. The worst part, she recalled, was that the car was heating up like she was “in an oven”. She also remembers a “panicking sensation” as she worried that something might fall into the street and block their path, trapping them in the approaching inferno.
Video of the harrowing drive at the link.

"A total of 87 out of 91 former NFL players have tested positive for... the degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy..."

"The disease is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and can lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia."
“People think that we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it,” said [Dr. Ann McKee, the facility’s director and chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System]. “My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players.”
ADDED: This is a good time to revisit the old Freakonomics episode, "The Dangers of Safety":
DUBNER: So wait a minute. Let’s figure this out. If the helmet, which we think of as a safety device, is being used as a weapon — why not get rid of the weapon? There are sports we play without helmets — rugby, Australian rules football. What happens if you try to play American football like they did in the old days, without a helmet? Here’s Quintin Mikell again.

MIKELL: It would probably be—there’d be a lot less head injuries, I know that for a fact, and I can tell that the tackling would actually be a lot different. You know, you can’t–nobody wants to mess their face up willingly, so, you wouldn’t go in head first, you wouldn’t go in trying to destroy somebody, you’d go in just to get them on the ground. And maybe it wouldn’t be as exciting, or, I’m not sure, but I know there’d definitely be—there wouldn’t be as many injuries.

"It's all about the arena," said Meade, reading the news this morning.

"What?" I said. And I had misheard him. He's muttering in the next room. It's not like I'm Emily Litella.

"It's all about Fiorina," he repeated.

"Fiorina.. the arena..."

"You could write a poem."

ADDED: arena (n.)
1620s, "place of combat," from Latin harena "place of combat," originally "sand, sandy place," perhaps from Etruscan. The central stages of Roman amphitheaters were strewn with sand to soak up the blood. 
To soak up the blood that comes out of the eyes and the wherever.

IN THE COMMENTS: Sebastian said: "'You could write a poem.' The kind of poem that people who don't like poetry would like." Oh, yeah? Them's fighting words! I want to leave blood in the sand now.
Carly Fiorina
In the arena
Eating farina
With Angelina
Jolie, that ballerina
With a concertina
In comes a hyena
Quick, get a subpoena!

Clinton laconic in Laconia.

"Hillary Clinton left some young fans upset Thursday in New Hampshire after she canceled a planned appearance at a Boys & Girls Club location in Laconia, New Hampshire. Between 30 to 35 children who participate in the club's programs, all of them between 5 and13 years old, waited, and waited, and waited. They had written letters to the former secretary of state and devised questions to ask her. They drew her pictures and painted welcome signs.... Clinton was in Laconia to speak at a public forum about drug addiction. But instead of meeting the kids, her campaign whisked her off to a separate speaking engagement at a different Boys & Girls Club location in Concord, 30 miles away."

laconic (adj.)
"concise, abrupt," 1580s, probably via Latin Laconicus, from Greek Lakonikos, from Lakon "person from Lakonia," the district around Sparta in southern Greece in ancient times, whose inhabitants were famously proud of their brevity of speech. When Philip of Macedon threatened them with, "If I enter Laconia, I will raze Sparta to the ground," the Spartans' reply was, "If."
Meanwhile, also in New Hampshire, the other woman, Carly Fiorina, is topping a poll.

20 years ago today: The Washington Post published the 35,000-word "Unabomber Manifesto."

The Washington Post has the story, with a photograph, at the top center of the home page: "How publishing a 35,000-word manifesto led to the Unabomber."
In more than 35,000 words spread over eight pages of a special section, an anonymous author laid out his complaint against the “industrial-technological system” and his desire to destroy it by sparking a revolution. The essay bumped and blundered through a forest of dark themes and discontent, from a lengthy lament about environmental destruction to a brief critique of golf and bowling.
The publication led to the identification and arrest of Kaczynski (because his sister-in-law and brother recognized his distinctive style of expression), but the reason for publishing the whole damned thing was to comply with Kaczynski's ultimatum: If it's published, he'll stop bombing, and if not, he'll "start building our [sic] next bomb."

WaPo puts the old story in the context of present-day concerns about terrorism:
[T]he episode also stands out as an early milestone in the current age of anxiety. The Unabomber’s manifesto appeared just as Washington was beginning its long preoccupation with terrorism and national security. As the news media and the public fixated on the Unabomber drama, a much bigger story was quietly dawning. That same year, in a classified National Intelligence Estimate, the CIA warned that Islamic extremists were intent on striking targets inside the United States.
The NYT — which coordinated with WaPo in responding to the ultimatum — ignores the anniversary. There's a mention on the day's "Today in History" feature, which comes from The Associated Press. It's in there along with other historical anniversaries like: "In 1970, the situation comedy 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' debuted on CBS-TV." And: "In 1915, vaudeville performer W.C. Fields made his movie debut as 'Pool Sharks,' a one-reel silent comedy, was released." And in 1959, Nikita Khrushchev got mad when he found out they weren't going to let him into Disneyland. In 1960, Fidel Castro came to New York City, didn't like his hotel, and "angrily checked out" and went to a different hotel.  Communists and comedians. Communists and comedians and Ted Kaczynski.

Ted had a lot to say about leftists in his manifesto. Let's look. It's worth reading if only to see how surprisingly similar it is to things you may be seeing every day on the internet:

September 18, 2015

Using makeup to create the look that you've been up all night engaging in dissolute behavior.

"It’s a look you get from being out all night, sweating — without looking too undone."
To achieve that perennial party-girl look, Nars kept skin clean of foundation and concealer, instead opting for a touch of greasy shine at the eyes, cheekbones and under the eyes. (“Vaseline is the best,” he said.) With a touch of shadow, he added some darkness under the eyes for a messy, day-after makeup effect....
This is the sort of thing that keeps coming back because it's something only young people can do, and anything "young" will always seem like an option. It made me think of the big "heroin chic" trend of the mid-90s ("a look... characterized by... dark circles underneath the eyes... emaciated features and androgyny... a reaction against the 'healthy' and vibrant look of models such as Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer.") I was already reading the NYT, so I searched the NYT archive for "heroin chic" and came up with a Maureen Dowd column from 1996 — from the height of the presidential campaign:
In this fast-paced, channel-surfing, gigabyte blur of a world, Bob Dole wants to slow things down. Way down.... Mr. Dole presents himself as the avatar of a better time, a time of moral rectitude, unlocked doors, clean movies and Glenn Miller...

[H]e decried ''Pulp Fiction,'' though he hasn't seen it, and ''Trainspotting,'' though he hasn't seen it, for encouraging ''the romance of heroin." ''A fascination with risk and death,'' he said, denouncing heroin chic. ''The attraction of self-destruction -- if you can believe it.''
Dole was portrayed at the time as hopelessly old, a veritable corpse. Oddly, it's 19 years later, and the man is still alive (and joking about running for President).

ADDED: I'm seeing a connection between this and the earlier post today quoting 70s-era feminist Susan Brownmiller cautioning women about drinking too much and getting "trapped in sex situations."

"On the eve of Pope Francis’s arrival in the U.S., the Vatican has taken offense at the Obama administration’s decision to invite to the pope’s welcome ceremony..."

"... transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia."
According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with these guests at the White House welcoming ceremony next Wednesday could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities.
There are 15,000 invited guests so how could any sane person make an interpretation of endorsement?

Susan Brownmiller, author of the feminist classic "Against Our Will," has some words for today's anti-rape activists.

From an interview in New York Magazine:
I like to see activism wherever it rears its head, but this is a very limited movement that doesn't accept reality. Culture may tell you, "You can drink as much as men," but you can't. People think they can have it all ways. The slut marches bothered me, too, when they said you can wear whatever you want. Well sure, but you look like a hooker. They say, "That doesn't matter," but it matters to the man who wants to rape. It's unrealistic. I don't know what happened to the understanding people had in the 1970s....

Well, I take a hard line with victims of domestic violence, too. I feel it is my place as a feminist to say, "Get out, get out, get out of this relationship." They feel that we should respect their opinions and beliefs because they are survivors. If they can’t get out because they don’t want to reduce their living circumstances, or they don’t want to go, or they are passive people, then I am supposed to respect that. But I don’t. My feeling is "Get out."

And my feeling about young women trapped in sex situations that they don’t want is: "Didn’t you see the warning signs? Who do you expect to do your fighting for you?" It is a little late, after you are both undressed, to say "I don’t want this."

Select the temperature range you like...

... and see where in the United States you'll find it.

"Norway man sawed neighbour's house in half."

"I reduced it to a legal size, so the law is on my side. That's my reason."

I'm reading the news from Norway after getting sucked in by some damn thing about Obama's Nobel Prize being regretted by one of the individuals involved in bestowing it, a person who now has a book to flog.

There's better news from Norway. In addition to the Norway man who sawed his neighbor's house in half, there's the new school for Vikings, "where students will learn essential Viking crafts, such as sword forging, jewellery making, and roof thatching."

There's the voting official in trouble for saying "Are you really taking the 'homo ballot'?" to "an old lady who asked for a voting slip for Åpen folkekirke (Open people's church), at a polling station in Oslo."

There's the heavy rain about which a government meteorologist said "This just does not happen in Norway, we have a hard time believing that it’s true... These are figures ​​that you only normally see in the jungle." Someone else says: "The animals were really afraid, the cows don’t understand what was happening."

There's the artist whose hanging-naked-in-a-tree installation went wrong and left her hanging naked in a tree for 3 hours. "The video ends when the camera shuts off, but I was there calling for help for another 30 minutes."

Trump only snarked "We need this question? This is the first question?"...

... when a man in the crowd asked the first question like this: "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American. We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question, when can we get rid of them?"

The failure to correct is now the subject of outrage. Is the outrage justified? Probably. Trump saw and used a tricky way to signal to a certain subgroup and to make them think he might be on their side. All the while, he preserved the ability to say I didn't agree. I made fun of him!

But Trump has fed on this kind of outrage. He's a clever communicator who knows how to work in a swirl of verbal energy. He lets other people talk and he says things that make for greater fun and excitement. Those who express outrage are just as useful in his game as the guy in the crowd who unleashed a torrent of crazy.

It's all good in Trumpworld.

"Jeb Bush smiled a lot. I wondered if he was channeling Mitt Romney in 2012, who smiled at his opponents on the stage as if they were adorable frolicking children."

"But Jeb smiles sweetly. With his gray-rimmed glasses and his weight loss he looked like Woodrow Wilson in a winsome mood."

Wrote Peggy Noonan.

In New York City, women eschew sleeves.

And it's driving some people crazy.
It’s like they pulled the coat onto their shoulders, looked in the mirror, and let out a sigh, deciding they were above pulling their arms into the silly extra fabric on the sides.
There are many possible explanations for this phenomenon. Just off the top of my head:

1. It's not yet chilly enough for the coat I want to have with me later in the day.

2. I don't want this expensive-to-dry-clean coat in contact with my armpits.

3. This way it's like a cape and capes are nice.

4. It says: I am am a woman of elegance and grace. You might have to worry that a coat worn like this would fall off, but I don't.

5. The eschewing of sleeve-wearing brings back no bad memories for me. That is, I don't remember the 1970s when everyone decided that the way to wear a sweater was to put it on your back and tie the sleeves in front of your neck like a scarf.

The "Take Back the Bike Path" rally in Madison took place at the planned time, despite a heavy thunderstom.



"Nearly 3,000 people RSVPed to the event on Facebook, planned earlier this week in response to a brutal assault and rape that took place on the Capital City Trail in the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 12. Though there were no official attendance numbers, it was clear by the initial gathering at Burr Jones Field that protesters weren’t deterred by the strong storms threatening the area. Attendance was clearly in the hundreds...."

Refugees from Syria keep eating death cap mushrooms.

"The death cap, formally known as Amanita phalloides, bears a resemblance to mushrooms that grow in the eastern Mediterranean. Its unassuming shape and white coloring are easily mistaken for edible species, and its taste is innocuous, even delicious...."
The fear is that, after days on the road with little to sustain them, refugees have resorted to foraging for food. It is the middle of its three-month growing season in Europe, and the poisonous mushrooms could sicken still more people.  Dr. Michael P. Manns, chairman of the department of gastroenterology, hepatology and endocrinology at Hanover Medical School [said] that 12 patients remained hospitalized on Thursday, three of them in critical condition....

"Wearing a toilet seat on his head, David Hu accepts the Ig Nobel Physics Prize for his research on the principle that mammals empty their bladders of urine in about 21 seconds."

His work was "Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size."

I also liked:
ECONOMICS PRIZE — The Bangkok Metropolitan Police for offering to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes.
REFERENCE: Numerous news reports....

BIOLOGY PRIZE — Bruno Grossi, Omar Larach, Mauricio Canals, Rodrigo A. Vásquez, José Iriarte-Díaz, for observing that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked.
REFERENCE: “Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion,” Bruno Grossi, José Iriarte-Díaz, Omar Larach, Mauricio Canals, Rodrigo A. Vásquez, PLoS ONE, 2014.
More of that sort of thing at the link.

"[A] class-action lawsuit against the criminal district court [in New Orleans], alleging that judges and court officials have been running an 'illegal scheme' in which poor people are indefinitely jailed if they fall behind on payments of court fines, fees and assessments..."

"The suit describes how fees are imposed with no hearing about a person’s ability to pay, and how nearly all components of the local criminal justice system — the judges, the prosecutors, the public defenders — benefit financially to some degree...."
“As budgets have grown tighter, jurisdictions and politicians have balked at tax increases,”[said Lauren-Brooke Eisen, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice]. “So the burden of revenue for this vastly expanding criminal justice system has been shifted to those who find themselves defendants in courts or inmates in prisons.”...

One of the plaintiffs is a man kept in jail for weeks for unpaid debts despite his protests that he had a job waiting that would have allowed him to earn the money. Another man spent six days in jail on a warrant issued in error, while a third was told by a collections officer to pay double every time he was late with a payment.

“It’s a failing system, and they know it’s a failing system,” said the third man, Reynaud Variste, 26, who was arrested in a police raid at his home one morning this year after he had fallen a few weeks behind in payments connected to a two-year-old illegal possession case.

September 17, 2015

Ted Cruz puts out an ad in the style of Ronald Reagan's old bear-in-the-woods ad.

Here's the Cruz ad:



Here's the old Reagan ad — one of my all-time favorite ads, mostly because "if there is a bear" makes me laugh:



Reagan's ad is pretty subtle compared to Cruz's, but Cruz's ad is not without humor. The Texan boots at the end are a nice touch. Cruz is represented by booted feet.

What other candidate would we identify through a closeup of some subsection of the whole person other than the face (or hair)? Does anyone else have a signature item of clothing? Maybe Walker could be recognized by a motorcycle jacket. I'd recognize the ever-so-slightly flashy pinstripes of Ben Carson's suits after last night's debate. But that's just me.

"In this way, my brain tumor has emerged as a tiny Zen master."

"Everything about it — from the intermittent fear it engenders, to the M.R.I.s it requires, to my daily struggle for physical balance — has made achieving that other kind of balance, inner balance, more possible. I can no longer coast through my daily life multitasking as I go: reading headlines as I walk, looking both ways as I dash across the street, showing up for good-night kisses, but being absent all the same. Even my most mundane actions have to be performed with intention...."

From a NYT essay by Adrienne Brodeur about vertigo, caused, in her case, by a brain tumor disabling the vestibular system.
Aptly known as “the labyrinth,” it looks like a miniature “Star Trek” space station with two sacs and three looping semicircular canals arranged at roughly right angles to one another. Fluid moves through the labyrinth stimulating tiny hairs, which act as sensors that monitor the position and movement of your head, sending the brain information about gravity, motion and your body’s relationship to earth.
Without a functioning vestibular system, you have to concentrate on you vision and proprioception (described in the article) to keep your balance. I've experienced a malfunctioning vestibular system — not from a brain tumor, but from the detachment of the otoliths that normally weigh down those "tiny hairs" (that is, cilia). You might wake up one morning, move your head slightly, and find the whole room spinning insanely out of control. It's quite awful. Mine was worst the minute it started and eventually went away. But I empathize with the author's predicament.

Google "Glass" is now called "Project Aura."

"Aura is working on the next incarnation of Glass, but the team is also developing other wearable technology... 'Glass & beyond'... building cool wearables.'"

People rejected Google Glass... in what was an amazing showing of desire to cling to what remains of humanity.

Somehow writing that last sentence made me want to link to this post at Instapundit: "Another reason men might be enthusiastic about female-free sex is obvious..."

"Mr. Beauvoir was in his mid-30s and planning a career in biochemistry when his grandfather, on his deathbed, stunningly anointed him his successor as a houngan..."

"... one of the 6,000 or so healers, soothsayers, exorcists and therapists who outnumbered doctors and Roman Catholic priests in Haiti. The 17th-century mystical traditions imported by slaves from West Africa and known in Haiti as Vodou coexist there with Christianity."
“Just as a carnival band went by the house,” Mr. Beauvoir recalled in a 1983 interview with The New York Times, “grandfather turned to me and said, ‘You will carry on the tradition.’ It was not the sort of thing you could refuse.”...

“My position as supreme chief in voodoo was born out of a controversy,” he said. “Today, voodooists are at the bottom of society. They are virtually all illiterate. They are poor. They are hungry. You have people who are eating mud, and I don’t mean that as a figure of speech.”
From the obituary of Max Beauvoir, who lived to the age of 79. If you read far enough into this piece, you'll find:
In 1975 he staged a ceremony for Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton on their honeymoon. In his memoir “My Life” (2004), Mr. Clinton recalled, “The spirits arrived, seizing a woman and a man.... The man proceeded to rub a burning torch all over his body and walk on hot coals without being burned. The woman, in a frenzy, screamed repeatedly, then grabbed a live chicken and bit its head off.

Mr. Clinton did not elaborate on whether the man and woman benefited from the ceremony, except to say, “Haitians’ understanding of how God is manifest in our lives is very different from that of most Christians, Jews or Muslims, but their documented experiences certainly prove the old adage that the Lord works in mysterious ways.”
Did you know that a chicken's head was bitten off in a Bill and Hillary Clinton honeymoon ceremony?!

"Switchel: the new (but really old) apple cider [vinegar!] drink hipsters can't get enough of."

"Consumed by woodsman pioneers in the 1800s, this tart, effervescent drink is threatening to dethrone kombucha as the next hip health trend – and I approve." 

Oh, no. I got that link from Meade, who makes his own vinegar and ginger drink, and pronounces it delicious. This trend of drinking vinegar... I don't even like seeing other people do it. The author of the linked article says: "I love vinegar, pretty much every kind I’ve ever tried. I’ve been known to drink pickle juice out of an empty jar of pickles...."

Here's the product that you may have walked right by at Whole Foods but that Meade has bought and savored. Here it is in limeade, which has Meade's name right there in it.

IN THE COMMENTS: Terry said: "Drink tap water instead. It goes good with crackers. Good ol' crackers...." And I said:
"Drink tap water instead." That's what I said to Meade yesterday. It's one thing to eat a wide variety of foods, but one should be careful about drinking. You should assume water. Drink water. Anything other than water should meet a high standard. Don't just down sodas and juices and other concoctions. Liquids are too quick, too easy. Food is more of an encounter. You have to chew, to really experience some in-mouth moments. But things consumed in liquid form are facilitated by your instinct for hydration, your basic need for water. So drink water... unless you have a really good reason to taint your water with other substances. You do not need variety in your drinks. You should drink water and focus your search for flavor and excitement on food.

As for crackers, crackers are terribly dangerous. You can gain a lot of weight from crackers. They're like cookies, the way you eat them impulsively and lose track of the number as one leads to another. But you think they're not like cookies, because they're not dessert. That makes them seem neutral, like water. But they have calories. Beware of crackers.
(Click the "crackers" tag and scroll to see why Terry said "Good ol' crackers.")

Did you understand the "Defeat Bloomberg" ad that ran during last night's debate?



My reaction, as I watched the debates last night, was just: Huh?

I didn't notice that it was an NRA ad. I'm reading about that here: "Wednesday’s ad was part of the NRA’s million-dollar campaign to paint Bloomberg as a nanny-state liberal, plotting to use his billions to take away Americans' guns and influence the presidency."

I guess they're building a meme. Maybe you're supposed be confused. You're being drawn in by confusion.  

What? Huh? Bloomberg? Bloomberg isn't running! Food. Food, I like food. He's taking my food. But he's not running. Soda. My soda. But he's not running. Guns? Guns!!!! I must be alert, lest some insidious, subterranean gnome is deviously insinuating himself into the political process....

Bloomberg, the other billionaire.

Did Rand Paul help his cause?

Last night — live-blogging the GOP debate — in the 34th item on my 36-point list of observations, I said:
Who most improved his case? I asked the question out loud and immediately thought: Rand Paul. Meade answered: Rand Paul. But he's got a long way to go....
My son John, who was also live-blogging, wrote:
I don't agree that Paul especially helped himself. He was good, but he was also good in the first debate, and that didn't improve his poll numbers. With such a crowded field, I don't expect Paul to get any bump from tonight. If some more candidates were to drop out and Paul had a great debate night, then I could see him getting a boost.
I think Paul's problem is mostly that Republicans don't agree with his positions on various issues. It doesn't matter how well and conspicuously he speaks. They don't want what he's selling. I feel like adding that he has the old doesn't-seem-presidential problem — he's a cantankerous rebel — but that hasn't hurt Trump.

"The British appear to have developed some sort of giant bomb, possibly attached to a rocket."

If you had to remember one thing from the debate last night, what would it be?

I ask out loud. Meade answers: "He's an okay doctor." That was Ben Carson, repurposing something Trump had recently said about him and using it about Trump.

And then: "Trump was so handsy with everyone." Yeah, Trump kept reaching out and touching Ben Carson — who reconfigured a Trump attempt at a high 5 into something approaching a normal handshake. At a later point, Trump got the man on his other side — Jeb Bush — to give him an enthusiastic handslap.

Me, if I had to remember one thing, it would be how everyone was sweating profusely at the beginning. Everyone except Carly Fiorina, and I attributed her lack of sweat to the heavier layer of makeup that, as a woman, she was able to slather on to shield her from our nosy HDTV-enabled eyes.

ADDED: Typo corrected: I had written "a high 4." I've always been bad at touch-typing numbers. Or maybe it had to do with just having watched those clips of Jimmy Fallon interviewing Hillary Clinton on his show last night. Jimmy has that trademark white bandage taking one of his fingers out of the running, out of the fingering. Here's the part where she invites Jimmy to grab her hair (to prove that it, unlike Trump's is real):



She also does a Trump impersonation. Earlier on the show, as you've perhaps already seen, Fallon does his amusing Trump impersonation, in a sketch with "Trump" talking to Hillary on the phone:



They both did a pretty good job with that, and you've got to give the Hillary people some credit for coming up with a sure-fire way for her to drag media attention away from the big GOP debate.

September 16, 2015

Watch the big GOP debate with me.

I don't know if I can pull off some good old-fashioned live-blogging. I see my son John is set up to live-blog, and I'm sure he'll do good work. I'll just update this post, making a numbered list if any insights strike me, and I invite you to participate in the comments. I'm not rooting for anyone, not playing any drinking games, not obsessed with Trump, not anything in particular... just open to the moment.

1. As they take their places behind the lectern, Jeb and Ben are jotting down notes and Trump, between them, is standing, swiveling, and displaying his game face. Carly's in royal blue, matching the large airplane that is stretched out behind them. Now, Jake Tapper is explaining the ground rules, introducing Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash. Rubio wipes sweat from his brow.

2. Very short intros. Rand Paul is an eye surgeon who defends the Constitution, Huckabee says hi, Marco Rubio makes a joke about drinking water, Ted Cruz is a husband to his best friend, Ben Carson stresses the pediatric part of his career because he's here for the children, Trump wrote "The Art of the Deal" and made billions and billions of dollars, Jeb looks forward to talking about fixing Washington, Scott Walker emulates Ronald Reagan, Carly started out as a secretary, Kasich is ready to lift us up, and Christie is gonna give back what Obama stole from us.

3. Carly gets the first question and she won't answer it: Is she comfortable with Trump's finger on the nuclear button? She just calls him an "entertainer." Trump gets to respond: He's a businessman, and his temperament is "very good, very calm." Rand Paul got sideswiped by Trump, so he gets to respond, and he says that a guy that would sideswipe like that shouldn't have his finger on the button. Trump: "I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me, there's plenty of subject matter there."

4. Scott Walker breaks in without waiting to be asked a question or to get a turn triggered by an attack from someone else. It was Jeb who was asked a question, and Jeb triggered a Trump response opportunity. Walker just butted in.

5. Tapper wanted to ask another question, and Kasich started talking, so now he's been given an opportunity. Kasich is copying Walker, creating more chaos, and ironically, the point he wants to make is that the show is going to be too chaotic for the folks watching at home.

6. Christie offers to be our "vessel." Jeb is asked if he's "a puppet" for his donors. Jeb says Trump offered him money in exchange for getting gambling in Florida, and Trump said that didn't happen, because if it had, he would have gotten it. Jeb tries to break in, and Trump gives mock approval: "More energy tonight, I like it."

7. The candidates are all sweating like mad. How can they run the government if they can't even run a room in the Reagan Library?

8. "There's just something missing from our President. He doesn't have courage." Says Trump (talking about Syria).

9. Kasich breaks in ferociously. He's yelling and looking swollen and red. He's seething. This is interfering with my sense of him as everybody's dad.

10. Huckabee is complaining about the Supreme Court "redefining marriage" and championing Kim Davis. Jeb agrees with him, but in a much milder, mellower way.

11. Cruz calls Planned Parenthood "an ongoing criminal enterprise."

12. Tapper tells Carly Fiorina to respond to Trump's statement a few days ago that when he said "look at that face," he wasn't talking about her looks but her "persona." She's asked to talk about Trump's persona. She could have had a prepared remark for this, but she's thinking on her feet and uses a line that Trump just used against Jeb Bush: people heard very clearly what he said. She said that, then absolutely shuts up, and the crowd cheers. Trump smirks, then leans forward and says: "I think she's got a beautiful face and she's a beautiful woman." I think that was a prepared remark (and a lie) and Carly utterly refrains from giving an appreciative smile. She's got her game face.

13. Jeb is annoyed that Trump once said that Jeb may have a "soft spot" for Mexicans because his wife is Mexican. Trump babbles about what a lovely woman Jeb's wife is, but resists Jeb's demands for an apology. There's the wife out in the audience, come on, apologize to her. Trump won't do it. He's done nothing wrong, he says.

14. Speak English! Assimilate! Says Trump. Jeb says he is speaking English, but if someone asks him a question in Spanish, he's going to answer in Spanish. That's an opening for Rubio to break in and talk about his immigrant grandfather taught him that he was blessed to live in America... and he taught him that in Spanish. And he wants people who speak Spanish to hear from the President in Spanish, not from some translator on Spanish TV.

15. "We're the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough" to have birthright citizenship, says Trump. And he's not buying that it's in the Constitution.

16. Fiorina thinks the Constitution would have to be amended, which isn't likely. She concentrates on blaming the Democrats for not reforming immigration back when they had control of the Senate. They don't want to solve the problem. They want the issue to remain live.

17. Trump is turning beet red fighting with Carly over who's the better businessperson. He impugns her business career and she impugns him. Christie breaks in to say the person watching at home could "care less" about this back-and-forth about their careers. You 2 are both successful, what about the people out there who are not successful? Christie blusters.

18. "A track record" is important, Carly responds, without losing her cool at all. If we're going to talk about Christie's record in government, we should talk about the business record of the candidates who are coming to the race from business.

19. Aw, Rand Paul's reduced to playing with his pencils.

20. Hugh Hewitt wants to talk about who can win in the general election and who's going to attack Hillary Clinton? Kasich isn't ready to do that yet. But "at the end of the day..." (That was one of my drinking game cues, by the way. And Ben Carson has already proclaimed something "ridiculous!")

21. Trump effuses about Hugh Hewitt's declaring Trump "the best interview in America" and the camera shows Hewitt grinning responsively. What a bromance!

22. "Finally!" I say, and the crowd gives a big cheer, when Jeb says "Let me say one thing about my brother: He kept us safe."

23. Trump tried to high-five Carson and Carson received it in a way that moved it around into a regular handshake. Don't slap the neurosurgeon's gifted hands! The cause for Trump's move was Carson's statement that he'd advised George W. Bush in 2003 not to go to war in Iraq. (Trump had previously stated that he's the only one on the stage who opposed the Iraq war at the time.)

24. Do you think the questions are being evenly distributed? My sense of it is that they keep coming back to Jeb Bush.

25. Cruz thinks Bush I should have appointed Edith Jones instead of David Souter and Bush II should have appointed Michael Luttig instead of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Jones and Luttig were both "rock-ribbed conservatives." The Presidents Bush both took the easier route and didn't want to fight for conservative Justices. Cruz's appointees will "not act like philosopher kings."

26. How long is this darned thing? I thought 2 hours. Then I thought 2 and a half. Now, I'm thinking it's going to go on for 3 hours. This is madness! (And I watched some of the other debate, the one with Santorum and... I forget who... Lindsey Graham... Pataki. One other. I have to ask Meade: Jindal.)

27. Oh, good: marijuana. I could use some marijuana at this point. The question goes to Paul, who thinks the laws hurt the poor and racial minorities. Bush confesses to smoking marijuana 40 years ago.

28. Paul is dominating for a long time on the marijuana question. He calls attention to Christie's willingness to enforce the federal criminal law against people in Colorado, who may think that their state has legalized marijuana, so — as Paul puts it — Christie doesn't believe in the 10th Amendment and "states' rights."

29. "Autism has become an epidemic," says Trump when he's asked whether he'll stop saying that vaccines are linked to autism. Carson is asked to comment and he says, "He's an okay doctor"... which is a quote of something Trump once said about Carson, so some pretty good humor from Carson, even if it's not enough pushback. Trump's point is that all he's saying is that vaccinations are too "bunched up" — too much is pumped all at once into a "beautiful little baby" and parents ought to have some discretion to space out the vaccines the way he did with his babies. Carson agrees with that point, and Trump reaches over to pat Carson on the elbow.

30. Uh-oh, lighthearted questions. First, what woman should be on the $10 bill. Huckabee says his own wife. Blechh. Cruz wants the $20 bill, not the $10 bill changed, and he'd put Rosa Parks (as would Rubio). Carson wants his own mother on the bill. Trump wants Ivanka or Rosa Parks. Jeb wants Margaret Thatcher. Walker wants Clara Barton! Carly wouldn't change the bills, and we should recognize that "women are not a special interest group." Kasich wants "Mother Theresa, a lady I had a chance to meet." Christie provoked laughs nationwide, I suspect, by saying "I think the Addams Family has been shorted in the currency business," causing a million people to quip "Morticia?!" (He meant Abigail Adams.)

31. What Secret Service nickname should you have? Carly Fiorina says "Secretariat," because, you know, she started out as a secretary, but I'm sure a million Americans just made a "horse-faced" joke. Bush wants to be "Ever Ready" — trying to establish that he's not low energy. Walker wants to be Harley (for his motorcycle). Trump says "Humble." Rubio wants to be "Gator."

32. What was up with that "Defeat Bloomberg" ad?

33. They're all boringly predicting what the world will be like after their presidency. The blabby question from Tapper was framed to invite them to connect that to Ronald Reagan... as if there hadn't been enough opportunities in all these many hours for the candidates to liken themselves to Ronald Reagan.

34. Who most improved his case? I asked the question out loud and immediately thought: Rand Paul. Meade answered: Rand Paul. But he's got a long way to go. Did anyone hurt his case significantly? I don't think so. It's more: Who needed to make some real progress here and didn't? Maybe Walker.

35. After the debate, in an interview, Trump says what he learned is that he can stand for 3 hours. Yeah, that was a severe challenge — having to stand there for 3 hours. It was hard enough to sit through!

36. John opines that Carly Fiorina won.

"But some of the criticisms that have been levelled at [Jeremy] Corbyn in the past couple of days are unfair."

"He is neither a Communist nor a 'threat to national security.' He is a self-described socialist. In his republicanism, his anti-colonialism, his borderline pacifism, and his suspicion of big business, he represents an old and honorable, if occasionally misguided, strand of British radicalism, which extends back to Bertrand Russell, Keir Hardie, and beyond. Whether he can translate his radical beliefs into effective (or coherent) leadership is a fair question to pose. I doubt he can, myself. But on some big issues, Corbyn has raised valid points. Here are five of them...."

From "5 Things Jeremy Corbyn Has Right" by John Cassidy in The New Yorker.

Matt Damon is mocked with #Damonsplaining after he makes statements about hiring people to work on movies "based entirely on merit."

On his HBO show "Project Greenlight" (which has a new season after a 10 year hiatus), he acknowledged the importance of "diversity" in choosing actors to put on screen, but rejected it as a factor in hiring all the many other people who work on a project.
Damon’s remark came in conversation with Effie Brown, the African American producer of many films, including last year’s critically lauded “Dear White People,” and a judge on “Project Greenlight.” Thus, it seemed that a white male — a very famous, Oscar-winning white male — was lecturing a lesser-known artist of color on how Hollywood works.

Damon doubled down in an interview later in the show. “It seems like you would undermine what the competition is supposed to be about, which is about giving somebody this job based entirely on merit,” he said.

Damon, not known for his social media presence, has remained silent on the exchange so far.
Brown had been concerned about how the director was "going to treat the character of Harmony, her being a prostitute, the only black person who gets beat by her white pimp." There are so many layers of problems here, and one of them, I'd say, is the endless enthusiasm for stories like that. A black prostitute beaten up by a white pimp. Why is that even the project in the first place? Quite aside from whether the director — whoever he is — will "treat the character" with — what? — sensitivity? — I'd like to know why debased crap like that is even the project in the first place.

Maybe I'd have some insight into that if I watched "Project Greenlight," but from this distance, the entire business seems so sick and inhumane that the flimsy remedy of considering hiring a black director is ludicrous. But I guess "Project Greenlight" is a competition reality show, and contestants are vying for the jobs, and in that context, allowing race to be a factor would wreck the reality show.

I assume Damon was paying no attention to the way his statements would apply outside of the realm of a reality show competition — in actual reality. And now Damon finds himself accused of opposition to affirmative action, pummeled with a hashtag and not particularly competitive in the social-media game.

14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, arrested for bringing to school something that, to teachers, looked like it might be a bomb.

It was "a circuit board and power supply connected to digital display)" — what he explained was a clock that he'd made and brought in to impress the teachers.

Here he is explaining his story:



His engineering teacher said, according to Mohamed: "That’s really nice... I would advise you not to show any other teachers." In English class, "the clock beeped, annoying his teacher. When he brought the device up to her afterward, she told him 'it looks like a bomb.'" None of that sounds as though either teacher thought there was any chance it could actually be a bomb. But the English teacher confiscated the device, and later he was questioned and then arrested for bringing in a hoax bomb.
“I really don’t think it’s fair because I brought something to school that wasn’t a threat to anyone,” Mohamed told NBC. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I just showed my teachers something and I end up being arrested later that day.”...

“We always ask our students and staff to immediately report if they observe any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior,” [Irving Independent School District spokeswoman Lesley Weaver wrote]. “If something is out of the ordinary, the information should be reported immediately to a school administrator and/or the police so it can be addressed right away. We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students and keep our school community as safe as possible.”...

“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” said the [the boy's father], who immigrated from Sudan. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”

September 15, 2015

He says he's "very good looking," but that's not quite true and it's not why we love looking at his face.

A surprisingly long article in The New Republic about why we love looking at Donald Trump's face. Excerpt:
Porn offers some insight into the magic of Trump’s face. In David Foster Wallace’s report on the Adult Video News Awards in Consider the Lobster, he argues that porn feels mechanical and lifeless because of the performers’ faces, which appear bored but actually show “the self locked away someplace far behind the eyes.” Wallace writes, “Surely this hiddenness is the way a human being who’s giving away the very most private parts of himself preserves some sense of dignity and autonomy—he denies us true expression.” But in the rare moments when "genuine erotic joy" washes over a performer's face, the "effect on the viewer is electric."

You can imagine the typical presidential candidate wants the same thing, a barrier between their true feelings and their Sunday show face. But Donald Trump doesn't seem to want a barrier.... Even as he shows authentic emotion, he's mocking the silliness of the way we elected presidents, as if he's saying to the viewer, "Can you believe how stupid this shit is?"

"What caught [lawprof Noah] Feldman's attention was [Kim Davis's] claim that her oath of office, which ends with 'so help me God,' entitles her to invoke a higher law when necessary."

"Feldman thinks she's mistaken. I wish she were; I fear she's not," writes lawprof Stephen L. Carter.
Feldman finds this claim not so much unpersuasive as wrongheaded -- a misunderstanding of the nature of the oath. Davis’s argument, he writes, “implies that obedience to divine law is somehow baked in to one’s constitutional duties and obligations.”...

Like much scholarly writing today about oaths, it seeks to impose a post-modern outlook on a pre-modern practice.... Davis’s argument for relying on her oath of office as justification for disregarding the law of the land is well grounded in history. It’s also dangerous. The nation will not long survive open defiance of court orders by elected officials....

"CARLY, not Carly, Made This Popular Carly Fiorina Video."



"A new video in which Carly Fiorina embraces her age and her gender has drawn wide attention, and was praised by a prominent blogger as one of the best spots of the 2016 race so far. But in a wrinkle fitting this modern campaign age, Ms. Fiorina’s campaign had nothing to do with it."

80 years ago today: "The so-called Nuremberg Laws of September 15, 1935, deprived the Jews of German citizenship, confining them to the status of 'subjects.'"

"It also forbade marriage between Jews and Aryans as well as extramarital relations between them, and it prohibited Jews from employing female Aryan servants under thirty-five years of age. In the next few years some thirteen decrees supplementing the Nuremberg Laws would outlaw the Jew completely. But already by the summer of 1936 when the Germany which was host to the Olympic games was enchanting the visitors from the West, the Jews had been excluded either by law or by Nazi terror— the latter often preceded the former— from public and private employment to such an extent that at least one half of them were without means of livelihood. In the first year of the Third Reich, 1933, they had been excluded from public office, the civil service, journalism, radio, farming, teaching, the theater, the films; in 1934 they were kicked out of the stock exchanges, and though the ban on their practicing the professions of law and medicine or engaging in business did not come legally until 1938 they were in practice removed from these fields by the time the first four-year period of Nazi rule had come to an end. Moreover, they were denied not only most of the amenities of life but often even the necessities. In many a town the Jew found it difficult if not impossible to purchase food. Over the doors of the grocery and butcher shops, the bakeries and the dairies, were signs, 'Jews Not Admitted.' In many communities Jews could not procure milk even for their young children. Pharmacies would not sell them drugs or medicine. Hotels would not give them a night’s lodging. And always, wherever they went, were the taunting signs 'Jews Strictly Forbidden in This Town' or 'Jews Enter This Place at Their Own Risk.' At a sharp bend in the road near Ludwigshafen was a sign, 'Drive Carefully! Sharp Curve! Jews 75 Miles an Hour!'"

William L. Shirer,  "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."

I usually avoid the "drinking game" approach to the debates.

This is in part because I'm a little puritanical about drinking other than for the intrinsic value of drinking (or, occasionally, a toast). But it's also in part because the rules I see published are too dull. For example, here, in the Sun Times, stuff like take a drink anytime anybody says "America" or "email."

I want more specific things that call attention to an actual and not terribly widely recognized propensity of a candidate to use a particular expression or argument. So, for tomorrow's GOP debate, I'd list things like: Ben Carson says, "That's ridiculous";  John Kasich says, "At the end of the day"; and Scott Walker says: "Gut her like a deer." That way it will be more fun when it happens.

"[Chelsea] Clinton strives for relatability, offering stories about her grandmothers and her early life in Arkansas. They are all, unfortunately, dull."

"We open with a glimpse of young Chelsea reading the newspaper at home in Little Rock 'as I ate my morning Cheerios,' before discussing world events with her parents, which she did 'around the dinner table every night and intensely after church on Sunday over lunch.' As she grows up and moves on to trips to India and other global crisis spots with her mother, somehow the stories don’t get much more exciting. On the evidence we get here, she is a kind of humanitarian Tracy Flick, but there is no comeuppance or sudden twist of fortune on the horizon. As bighearted as she is, hers is not the kind of voice that makes for a riveting children’s book. Young readers crave emotional directness, and they appreciate a little buildup and suspense. As a glimpse at the children’s best-seller lists makes clear, they respond best to stories of people in extreme situations, people who face major problems, struggle and triumph, like 'I Am Malala,' a book that shares many of Clinton’s empowering goals. Chelsea Clinton, however, is not Malala (who also had an experienced co-author), and would have been wise to step back a little from the flow of the book."

From a NYT review of Chelsea Clinton's new book, which is (irritatingly) titled "It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!"

There's no "look inside" view at the above-linked Amazon page, so I can't form even a superficial opinion about whether it's like Hillary's first book, "It Takes a Village/And Other Lessons Children Teach Us." Why is it, after all these years, that a woman going into politics enters through the door marked "Children"?

Hillary's book purported to teach adults lessons that came from children. The lessons came from her, but the title told us she got them from children. Chelsea's book is aimed at children, getting them quickly up to speed with lessons from adults. Children should naturally resist that kind of instruction, but that won't stop adults from buying the book... if they want their kids politicized early and they have confidence in the Clinton brand. I hope there aren't too many adults like that. Not ones with kids anyway.

"In my new book, 'The Court and the World,' I describe how global interdependence increasingly is changing the work of the Supreme Court."

In The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Breyer explains his new book. (Nonsubscribers can get to the full page by Googling some of the text.) Excerpt:
The American public needs to understand what the “international” part of the Supreme Court’s work actually means—and what it does not mean. In particular, the frequent presence of foreign-related issues in the court’s cases has little or nothing to do with the current political debate about whether American courts, including the Supreme Court, should refer in their opinions to decisions of foreign courts. Judicial references to foreign law and practices do not reflect the ideologies of justices—rather they reflect a world in which cross-boundary travel, marriage, commerce, crime, security needs and environmental impacts have become prevalent.

In the multipolar, mutually interdependent world, the best way to advance the values that the Founders set forth—democracy, human rights and widespread commerce—is to understand, to take account of, and sometimes to learn from, both legal and relevant nonlegal practices that take place beyond our shores.
(You can buy the book here.)

Stephen Colbert's opening question to Justice Breyer: "What's it like to be a Supreme Court Justice? Is it a good job?"



Breyer's answer is that it's a great benefit — especially as you get older — to have a job that requires you to do your best "every single minute." That gets a huge cheer from the audience. (I know there's an "applause" sign, but still...)

Question 2 is great: "Lifetime appointment! Would you recommend that for everyone?" Breyer laughs and just quotes his father as having advised: "Stay on the payroll."

Question 3 is whether he ever asks himself, "Why me? Why do I get to be one of the 9 people to make the call here?" The answer is "of course," and in the first few years, you may look confident, but it takes "a period of time" to feel confident. Justice Souter told him that, and Justice Douglas told Justice Souter that. (Note: Souter and Douglas did not overlap on the Supreme Court.)

Breyer has a book to flog. "The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities." Colbert whips that out, but the next question isn't about that topic. It's: How come no cameras in the Supreme Court room? If there were cameras in the courtroom, Colbert says, you could just put the book on the edge of "your desk"— he demonstrates with the book — "And you wouldn't have to be here right now, shaking your lawmaker." From the next room Meade says that he's not a "lawmaker," and I'm trying to get this post written, so I resist veering into a real-life conversation about how some people think the Court is making law and not, as propriety supposedly demands, merely finding the law.

Breyer gets very somber and says: "I'm in a job where we wear black robes in part because we're speaking for the law." And Colbert says: "And in part to make you spooky." I found that very funny. It was an interruption of Breyer's thought, which continued with the statement that everyone knows the judges are individual human beings, but they want to look like they embody the law and not their own personal preferences.

I can think of a few wisecracks that could be interposed there, but Colbert lets him run out his thought: Cameras would change that in ways that can't be predicted. It's better for judges to affect people through the written opinions, he says. Once people are seeing the lawyers and judges, their minds work in a different way, a way that's less related to what law is and more emotional.

Next, Colbert asks a question that gets a big cheer from the audience: How come the Supreme Court Justices, unlike the rest of the federal government, get along and sit around together amiably, even though they disagree on the issues? Not answering the question, Breyer says he's never heard a voice raised in anger or a personal insult — "not even as a joke." Breyer gets so adamant that Colbert says: "You're yelling at me right now." Breyer considers speaking but decides just to laugh, and Colbert seizes the opportunity by extending his hand for the final thanks-for-the-interview handshake.

A nice little interview. Great questions and reactions from Colbert. Standard Justice Breyer presentation that I'm familiar with that, I suspect, will be pleasing and encouraging for the Colbert audience. No pesky explanation of the subject of the book — arguing that American courts should take the law of foreign countries into account.

"I propose that extending relations of prostitution into machines is neither ethical, nor is it safe... If anything the development of sex robots..."

"... will further reinforce relations of power that do not recognise both parties as human subjects..."
“Technology is not neutral,” [said Kathleen Richardson, a senior research fellow in the ethics of robotics at De Montfort University in Leicester, England]. “It’s informed by class, race and gender. Political power informs the development of technology. That’s why we can do something about it. These robots will contribute to more sexual exploitation.”
This seems to repeat arguments that were made about porn. But there's some truth in the observation that if you develop your style of behavior independently of a need to appeal to another human being, you might not turn out too well. But then again, a robot could be programmed with better lessons in humanity that could be provided by the random willing human sexual partner. Why would a robot bring out your urge to control or subordinate another person?

ADDED: Ironically, "It’s informed by class, race and gender" sounds robotic. I'd like my robot programmed to say much more interesting — and playful and sexy — things.

"I'm glad Vanity Fair published that all-dude late night photo. For many, seeing is believing."

"That's the reality. It looks bad, as it should."

"While not Vanity Fair’s problem, the choice to celebrate late-night television as better than ever, given that the lineup is still a year away from a woman’s inclusion into the boys club (Both Samantha Bee and Chelsea Handler are set to host late-night shows of their own in 2016.) is irksome. But beyond that, there are creative choices in the photo itself that are deeply suspect. Having the [10] hosts sit around in their suits and drink, given the exclusivity of the late-night club, channels a Don Draper-like essence of casual misogyny, in which the only thing that’s missing is a 'no girls allowed' sign on the door."

September 14, 2015

"I am far, far from a perfect human being, but I am motivated by a vision which exists in all of the great religions — in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam, Buddhism and other religions..."

"... and which is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12. And it states: ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.’ That is the golden rule. Do to others what you would have them do to you. It is not very complicated.... I would also say that as a nation, the truth is, that a nation which in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back on racist principles, that’s a fact. We have come a long way as a nation...."

Said Bernie Sanders, speaking to Christian Evangelicals at Liberty University.

"I said something that sounded like I was questioning his faith. I really wasn’t, I was really talking more about mine."

"But it was said in an inappropriate way, which I recognized and I apologized for that. It’s never my intention to impugn other people."

Ben Carson apologizes to Donald Trump. Quite appropriately, in my view, which I expressed 4 days ago here — including a lot of participation in the comments, where I was accused of being "hostile" to Ben Carson.

Schwarzenegger to replace Trump.

As the host of "Celebrity Apprentice."

"The 32 Greatest Talk-Show Hosts Ever, Ranked."

At Vulture.

#1 is Howard Stern ("For over 30 years, Howard Stern’s calling and gift has been getting his guests, many wildly famous, to talk freely about all the things they’d rather not talk about. Of course there’s sex — so much sex — but there’s also drugs and money, which, for most celebrities, are far more taboo, and marriage and work anxiety and family and vanity. "). #4 is Marc Maron ("No one gets more out of his guests than Maron, whose now-familiar emotional touchstones — family background as class determinant, art as the pursuit of truth, self-acceptance and forgiveness — give every interview a sweetness and depth without equal.").

I note those because I love them. They don't have any weird choices from more than 20 years ago. I mean, remember when Charles Grodin had a talk show. I loved that! Here he is with Jerry Lewis:

We put in many hours of hard spectating at yesterday's Ironman Wisconsin in Madison.

The swimming began in Lake Monona at 7 a.m. and we biked out there to see what we could:

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The paddle boarders had a nice view, and so did the people who got a higher sight line from Monona Terrace:

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The swimmers got their bikes up in those ramps and came out the other end onto the street that goes along next to the bike trail that is our usual bike trail, so we biked alongside them — us on the trail and them in the street — until they had to make a sharp turn at Wingra Creek...

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... and we went along our way, completing the 20+-mile Capital City trail. Stowing our bikes at home, we set out on foot, walking over towards Lake Mendota to catch the Ironmen and -women in their running phase, up on Observatory looking out toward Picnic Point...

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... then down at Library Mall...

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... and later, out by the stadium...

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What an exerting day in Madison it was for us! My iPhone app counted 6.45 miles of walking on top of that 20+ miles of biking. True, I didn't swim, but I did take a shower.

Scott Walker is so proud of his enemies he takes credit for enemies that are not even his.

WaPo's Fact Checker gives Walker 4 Pinocchios for whatever claim he made to inspiring the Occupy movement he made when he said: "The Occupy Movement didn’t start in Washington, didn’t start in Wall Street, it started in my capitol" and "The [budget] hearing would soon claim a more ignominious place in history — as the moment that gave birth to the ‘Occupy’ movement."

"If any of [the deputy clerks] feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice..."

"... and I will take no action against them.... However, any unauthorized license they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it... Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order."

Kim Davis, back at work, in her official position, casting aspersions on marriages citizens have a right to obtain.

"Scott Walker to propose abolishing unions for federal workers."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Seeking to revitalize his presidential campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker plans to focus Monday on weakening labor by proposing to abolish unions for federal workers, create a national "right-to-work law" and eliminate the National Labor Relations Board....

He has been retooling his message by saying he would "wreak havoc" in Washington, D.C....

Hillary paraphrases the Methodist pastor as saying — "basically" — "if you’re going to read and listen to Romans: 12, you gotta to be nicer to the press."

Reports Eric Wemple, in a column in The Washington Post — "In church address, Hillary Clinton pledges to be nicer to the media."

Romans: 12 was the text at the Foundry United Methodist Church yesterday, and Hillary was speaking from the pulpit. It was the celebration of the bicentennial of the church — where Bill & Hillary worshiped in the days of the Bill Clinton presidency.

Wemple spoke to the pastor, Dr. J. Philip Wogaman:
The advice about taking a new approach to the media, he said, was “half in jest,” and rooted in the passage of Romans mentioning the “gifts that we have,” says Wogaman. The relevant passage reads, in part, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Pursuant to those teachings, says Wogaman, the media has an “important” role in “advising” those in power.
In Wogaman's telling, the point wasn't that she should be "nicer," but that she should value and respect the role the press plays. Being "nice" is almost the opposite. You need to think about being nice when you're going into an interaction with people you don't value and respect.

September 13, 2015

"Not all who wander are lost."

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For some reason, the NYT is taking "cryonics" seriously... in the context of a man having to preserve the head of his 23-year-old girlfriend at the point of death.

This is a big, glitzy — animated! — front-pager.
More than memories, Josh, then 24, wished for the crude procedure to salvage whatever synapses gave rise to her dry, generous humor, compelled her to greet every cat she saw with a high-pitched “helllooo,” and inspired her to write him poems....
We're told this is a series, "Chasing Immortality."
Family members and strangers alike told them they were wasting Kim’s precious remaining time on a pipe dream. Kim herself would allow only that “if it does happen to work, it would be incredible.” “Dying,” her father admonished gently, “is a part of life.”

Yet as the brain preservation research that was just starting as Kim’s life was ending begins to bear fruit, the questions the couple faced may ultimately confront more of us with implications that could be preposterously profound.
There are elegant photographs with captions like "The containers that are used to store frozen brains and bodies at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz." and "An operating room at Alcor. The clear box is used to prepare the patient's head for preservation."

Dan Rather loves the movie about Rathergate that stars Robert Redford as Rather.

"This is the best film I've seen on the big screen that takes you inside the craft of journalism, and demonstrates how it works, as opposed to how people feel journalism works."

Did you forget about Rathergate? Prepare to be reminded!

The name of the movie is "Fake But Accurate."

Just kidding. It's "Truth." Not kidding. That's it, thuddingly, "Truth."

It depends on what the meaning of "wiped" is.

"The company that managed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private e-mail server said it has 'no knowledge of the server being wiped'..."
There is a distinction between e-mails’ being deleted and a server being wiped. If e-mails are deleted or moved from a server, they appear to no longer exist on the device. But experts say, depending on the condition of the server, underlying data can remain on the device, and the e-mails can often be restored....

“Platte River has no knowledge of the server being wiped,” company spokesman Andy Boian told The Washington Post. “All the information we have is that the server wasn’t wiped.”

Clinton and her staff have avoided directly answering whether the server was ever wiped. In a memorable exchange at a campaign event in Las Vegas last month, Clinton turned aside a question about whether the server had been wiped with a joke: “Like what, with a cloth?” she said, adding, “I don’t know how it works digitally at all.”

Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon gave a similar answer this month, telling CNN: “I don’t know what ‘wiped’ means. Literally the e-mails were deleted off of the server, that’s true.”
My instinct at this point is to look up the word "wipe" in the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary. Amusingly, the first definition is "To rub (something) gently with a soft cloth or the like, or on something, so as to clear its surface of dust, dirt, moisture, etc.; to clean or dry in this way." So, I'm thinking Hillary used the old dictionary approach to constructing her little joke answer "Like what, with a cloth?"

From the OED examples:
1509   S. Hawes Pastime of Pleasure (1845) xxix. 136   Whan she lacketh cloutes, without any fayle She wyped her disshes wyth her dogges tayle....

1806   J. Carr Stranger in Ireland 269   A large Newfoundland dog..walks round the table for the guests to wipe their fingers upon.
I picked the dog ones in honor of the Clinton tradition of warding away trouble by posing with dogs...