July 22, 2014

The hottest day of the year...

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... that would be today, here in Madison, Wisconsin. Dare I go out? It's 83.3°F — feels like 89! It might hit 88.

The other Obamacare lawsuit: "A federal judge threw out a lawsuit Monday brought by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson...

"... and one of his aides attempting to force members of Congress and their staffs to stop getting subsidies for their health insurance under Obamacare."
Johnson, a Republican from Oshkosh, argued that members of Congress and their staffs were required to get insurance on their own under the Affordable Care Act, also widely known as Obamacare. But U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in Green Bay ruled Monday that Johnson and his aide, Brooke Ericson, didn't have legal standing to bring their case because they hadn't been injured.
Here's our discussion, begun earlier this morning, about the D.C. Circuit's Obamacare opinion, dealing with subsidies for people using the federal exchanges. There was a standing issue in that case too. There (PDF) court found standing because one of the plaintiffs had an injury in fact that would be remedied by the relief sought from the court:

A big new NIH survey finds only 1.6% of American adults say they are gay or lesbian.

And only 0.7% say bisexual.

Why are these numbers so low? Is it that people are hiding or in denial, or is the proportion of nonhetereosexuals really pretty much that low?

"All of us who do what Thomas Frank does — what I do — have failed. Our goal was to persuade the public to move in a liberal direction..."

"... and that didn't happen. In the end, we didn't persuade much of anyone. It's natural to want to avoid facing that humiliating truth, and equally natural to look for someone else to blame instead. That's human nature. So fine. Blame Obama if it makes you feel better. That's what we elect presidents for: to take the blame. But he only deserves his share. The rest of us, who were unable to take advantage of an epic financial collapse to get the public firmly in favor of pitchforks and universal health care, deserve most of it."

Writes Kevin Drum in Mother Jones (citing the same Thomas Frank article we were talking about here yesterday).

"Pitchforks" refers to Obama's claim to be "the only thing between you and the pitchforks." And "you" was investment bankers. Drum is saying the financial collapse was the opportunity for left-wingers to turn the American people into a pitchfork-waving mob, but they let that serious crisis go to waste (as they say).

Why a pitchfork? In pop culture, it's "standard equipment for any angry mob on a Witch Hunt."
The mob may be going after a witch, an evil wizard, a vampire, a Mad Scientist, a "perverted" person, or any other unpopular local figure. If the mob is after the villain, he most probably ends up being shamed by the mob. f they're coming after the good guys for one reason or another (like if our heroes are hiding a Reluctant Monster), their best defense is Shaming the Mob or an obstacle that will force them to go one by one, raising the question of Who Will Bell the Cat?
But Drum is pro-mob. He wants out-and-proud pitchforkery.



I'll take the cotton candy. And I won't let the opportunity of this post go to waste. This is my time to say that when I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, I was not hoping for the United States to lurch way left. I was hoping for the very moderation that irks guys like Frank and Drum. Frank-n-Drum. Frankendrum!

A big defeat for Obamacare in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

"The 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov."
"Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states," wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. "We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly."

In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a "not-so-veiled attempt to gut" Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority "portends disastrous consequences." 
ADDED: Here's the PDF of the opinion,  Halbig v. Burwell. Excerpt:

What's so terrible about that Verizon "Inspire Her Mind" ad gently prodding parents to encourage intellectual development in girls?



Ironically, the ad milks emotions, with mawkish violins and the sad faces of young girls — every single one of whom is pretty. There's nothing scientific about this presentation.

And that's quite aside from the iffy statistics that Christina Hoff Sommers highlights in her critique, here (via Instapundit):



My favorite part of that critique is the part that begins at 4:00: The ad "conveys the message that science is masculine," and "conventional girl culture" is "shown as an obstacle to girls' science careers." It's as if what is feminine is inherently bad, and what's masculine is good, so shake off the feminine and be masculine. That's misogyny, precisely.

In this light, consider how we treat boys who feel drawn to girly things. I'm thinking of the "Go Carolina" chapter in the David Sedaris collection "Me Talk Pretty One Day." As a 5th-grader, he's one of the students chosen for speech therapy:
None of the therapy students were girls. They were all boys like me who kept movie star scrapbooks and made their own curtains. “You don’t want to be doing that,” the men in our families would say. “That’s a girl thing.” Baking scones and cupcakes for the school janitors, watching Guiding Light with our mothers, collecting rose petals for use in a fragrant potpourri: anything worth doing turned out to be a girl thing. In order to enjoy ourselves, we learned to be duplicitous. Our stacks of Cosmopolitan were topped with an unread issue of Boy’s Life or Sports Illustrated, and our decoupage projects were concealed beneath the sporting equipment we never asked for but always received. When asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, we hid the truth and listed who we wanted to sleep with when we grew up. “A policeman or a fireman or one of those guys who works with high-tension wires.” Symptoms were feigned, and our mothers wrote notes excusing our absences on the day of the intramural softball tournament. Brian had a stomach virus or Ted suffered from that twenty-four-hour bug.
Anything worth doing turned out to be a girl thing... Now, there's some material for an "Inspire Her Mind" ad we never see. Or for an "Inspire His Mind" ad....

"The full Biden plays better around the Mediterranean and in Latin America than in, say, England and Germany."

"A former British official who attended White House meetings with Biden said, 'He’s a bit like a spigot that you can turn on and can’t turn off.' He added, 'For all of the genuine charm, it is frustrating that you do feel as if he doesn’t leave enough oxygen in the room to get your points across, particularly for those who are polite and don’t interrupt.' He learned to leave extra room on the schedule to account for what colleagues called 'the Biden hour.' In Israel, Biden’s approach goes down better. On a visit in 2011, Biden quoted his father saying, 'There’s no sense dying on a small cross'—to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a larger step toward peace in the Middle East. Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., said, 'We’re in Jerusalem, we’ve got a Catholic Vice-President, we’ve got a Jewish Prime Minister, and he’s telling him, "There’s no sense dying on a small cross." The Prime Minister starting laughing, and, I have to tell you, it is the single most succinct understanding of Israeli political reality of any other statement that I’ve heard.'"

From "The Biden Agenda/Reckoning with Ukraine and Iraq, and keeping an eye on 2016," by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker.

If you have to ask...

... the answer is "no."

Leave John Koskinen alone!

He's trying to work!

Scientists struggle to determine whether you should sleep 8 hours...

... or only 7.

Lots of correlation/causation issues there. People sleeping lengthily may be trying to catch up, sleeping something off, or just plain ill. Why would they do well on brain tests?

And why assume that there is one right answer for human beings or even for one individual, year 'round, in different light conditions? I think it's amazing that our need to sleep fits with the day-to-night cycles of the earth. But then I lived through the great "biorhythms" pseudo-science outbreak of the 1970s:
Most biorhythm models use three cycles: a 23-day physical cycle, a 28-day emotional cycle, and a 33-day intellectual cycle. Although the 28-day cycle is the same length as the average woman's menstrual cycle and was originally described as a "female" cycle, the two are not necessarily in any particular synchronization. Each of these cycles varies between high and low extremes sinusoidally, with days where the cycle crosses the zero line described as "critical days" of greater risk or uncertainty.
Fortunately, that's total nonsense, and we are pretty well attuned to day and night. Night is for sleeping. How long? Why is that question even needed? I think it's because people are waking up to alarm clocks or other intrusive noises and jostlings. Too bad! I think you'd know how long you need to sleep if you'd just go to bed when you're tired and wake up when you wake up, but I guess that's some kind of luxury these days... or in any day. 

"With the BLACK ALBUM, we get to hear the boys write on adult life: marriage, fatherhood..."

"... sobriety, spiritual yearning, the emptiness of material success — 'Starting Over,' 'Maybe I’m Amazed,' 'Beautiful Boy,' 'The No No Song,' 'God' — and still they are keenly aware of this fact: Love does not last."

From the liner notes, by Ethan Hawke for the post-Beatles Beatles album constructed out of the solo effort of the post-boy boys. Scroll way down to see the 50 songs and the order in which they will be played.

Is "The No No Song" about "the emptiness of material success"? Just say "no" to... everything?



Nah, it's a sobriety song. And it was years before the "Just Say No" ad campaign that linked the word "no" to Nancy Reagan.
The phrase "Just Say No" first emerged when Nancy Reagan was visiting Longfellow Elementary School in Oakland, California, in 1982 and was asked by a schoolgirl what to do if she was offered drugs. The first lady responded by saying, "Just say no." Just Say No club organizations within schools and school-run anti-drug programs soon became common, in which young people make pacts not to experiment with drugs.
"No" was once a Ringo word, especially when repeated. But maybe you, like me, associate the repeated "no" with The Human Beinz. What were they "no"ing?



That "no" is about rejecting the capacity of others to turn in a superior performance of the shingaling and the boogaloo.

And, no no no, don't accuse me of failing to notice The Isley Brothers. Their original "Nobody But Me" did not include the repeated "no." The absurd non-negative "no"ing was the contribution of The Human Beinz:



"The recording's two 31-fold repetitions of the word 'no; fulfill Casey Kasem's 'Book of Records' category of most repetitive word or phrase in a Hot 100 top 10 hit, besting the 26-fold repetition of 'I know' in Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine.'"



"Know"/"No"... a telling homophone... as The Beatles knew:

July 21, 2014

"If you see her, tell her Dexter says hello."

Oh, I get it now. Took me a while.

Judge Alex Kozinski says the guillotine would be better than the lethal injection, but the firing squad is "the most promising."

Dissenting today from the denial of rehearing en banc in the lethal injection secrecy case of Joseph Wood:
Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful... But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.

The Burt of Burt's Bees.

Excerpt:
He gestured to an apartment complex across Third Avenue, the Ruppert Yorkville Towers, and added, “And that used to be the Ruppert brewery. The workers could drink from taps on the walls, and, because of all the grain, a river of rats ran down the streets at night. It was a magic town. But, you know . . . ” He held a photograph he’d snapped of an elderly neighbor staring dourly out her window, framed by dingy curtains. “As soon as I took this shot, I knew that that would be me, ninety years old and unable to go outside, if I didn’t get the hell out. I borrowed a van from a former girlfriend, packed up everything I needed—my bed, what clothes I had, an orange crate of books—and disappeared into the declining sun.” When was that? “Possibly it was the sixties. If I get some peace and quiet, I can lay that on you.” (He left in 1970.)

"Fancy Upper West Side Building Will Have a Separate Door for Poor People."

Part of the "Inclusionary Housing Program, which gives developers tax credits and other perks in exchange for creating some affordable units alongside their less affordable ones":
... 40 Riverside will have 219 expensive, river-facing condos to sell to people who are in a position to buy them and 55 street-facing places to rent to sad sacks who earn 60 percent or less than the median income....

I've kind of been ignoring these new Weird Al things because I don't know the underlying music anymore...

... but here's his latest, "First World Problems:



And... it's apparent your grammar's errant:



ADDED: Did you know that Coolio apologized?
When I asked people what I should ask Coolio, the most common question I got, the thing most people seem to want to know: Do you still have beef with Weird Al?

Fuck no, man, I let that go so long ago. Let me say this: I apologized to Weird Al a long time ago and I was wrong. Y’all remember that, everybody out there who reads this shit. Real men and real people should be able to admit when they’re wrong and I was wrong, bro. Come on, who the fuck am I, bro? He did parodies of Michael Jackson, he did parodies of all kinds of people and I took offense to it because I was being cocky and shit and being stupid and I was wrong and I should’ve embraced that shit and went with it. I listened to it a couple years after that and it’s actually funny as shit. It’s one of those things where I made a wrong call and nobody stopped me. That’s one thing I’m still upset about—my management at the time. Somebody should’ve stopped me from making that statement because it was dumb. And I think it hurt me a little bit. It made me seem stupid.
In case you missed it, all those many years ago, here's Weird Al's "Amish Paradise," and here's Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise."

University of Wisconsin Chief Diversity Officer rejects insinuations that our diversity plan involves race/ethnicity-based grading.

Here's the new statement from Professor Patrick Sims, Chief Diversity Officer and interim vice provost for Diversity and Climate. (And here's my post from last Friday about the insinuations.)

Sims writes:
The concept of Inclusive Excellence allows institutions to engage diversity from a vantage poin [sic] of alignment with campus quality efforts, underscoring the educational benefits of diversity for all students, while emphasizing it as a central value of the institution. These laudable goals serve as the backbone for how institutions like UW-Madison, which have a long and rich tradition of academic rigor and excellence, can make excellence more inclusive, hence the term Inclusive Excellence.
That kind of bureaucratese is unlikely to stanch the rumors unless it convinces you that the whole plan is nothing but an incantation that sounds good to the people who like the sound of bureaucratese.

Anyway, as I said in my post last Friday, the "Inclusive Excellence" concept wasn't even part of the plan the faculty senate adopted, as Sims says toward the end of his statement. It did appear in another document, and even there, the "proportional and equitable distribution of grades" was intended to result not from race/ethnic-discrimination in grading but from — as Sims puts it — "fostering living and learning spaces that are inclusive."

I suspect that those who jumped to assume that there would be grade discrimination will say that they don't believe that inclusive "living and learning spaces" will achieve the goals. But that doesn't mean those who wrote and adopted the plan will resort to cheating.

On the other hand, here's a great article in The New Yorker about how the No Child Left Behind guidelines led a very good and admirable middle school teacher to participate in blatant cheating on test-scoring.

Day...

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... seize it.

"These days the holy grail is an octopus or a dragon. I only know of three octopuses being found..."

"... and one was by me, in a cave in Challaborough, Devon. It's quite competitive. If you heard that your neighbour had found a green dragon, you'd want to go out and find one yourself."

"Weed never made me unproductive. In fact, it helped me work."

"I’d leave fun parties because, within moments of smoking, I had to rush home and produce something: record a song, write a story."