November 14, 2015

Another debate, this time with only 3 — Democrats, scrambling to adjust their message, post Paris.

1. We shall see if anyone makes a big move.

2. My son John is live-blogging, here (and will probably have much more than I will).

3. Clinton is asked if the Obama administration underestimated ISIS.

4. Sanders still believes climate change is the greatest threat.

5. "Is the world too dangerous a place for a Governor who has no foreign policy experience?" (Dickerson's questions speak for themselves. There is no answer O'Malley can give.)

6. The seething, roiling backdrop is distracting me. I thought I saw the shadow of the land shark creeping up on Hillary.

7. Bernie Sanders says ISIS and al Qaeda want to take the world back "several thousand years," but that would be long before the birth of Mohammad.

8. Hillary made a point of repeatedly saying "jihadi."

9. "The business model of Wall Street is fraud." Bernie Sanders.

10. Debate over. My prediction at item #2 above is very apt.

11. John writes: "Sanders's closing statement is evocative of Larry David's impersonation of him: 'We need a political revolution! . . . Turn off the TV! . . . Please become a part of the revolution!'" When I heard him say "Turn off the TV," I thought it was going to continue: "So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'"

It's not the most poorly timed NYT article ever, but this David Brooks article — "My $120,000 Vacation" — was published yesterday.

"Thanks to the Four Seasons’ new 24-day, round-the-world fantasy trip, you get all the indulgences of travel without any of its hassles. But like all fantasies, is this too much of a good thing?" Ugh. How embarrassing to find yourself — you, the moralizing columnist — asking that question on the day of the Paris attacks. I'd be smacking David Brooks around anyway, even if this were not published on a day when you pretty well know that the editors must have wished they could recall this one and publish it some other time.

It got me thinking back to September 11, 2001, a day when I spent the morning reading the paper NYT delivered to my doorstep. I calmly read it for an hour or two before setting off for work, not knowing what those who used TV or radio in the morning already knew. What was in the paper that morning? Maybe you remember: "No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen":
''I don't regret setting bombs,'' Bill Ayers said. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'' Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970's as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. The long curly locks in his Wanted poster are shorn, though he wears earrings. He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings....

''Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon,'' he writes. But then comes a disclaimer: ''Even though I didn't actually bomb the Pentagon -- we bombed it, in the sense that Weathermen organized it and claimed it.'...

Mr. Ayers has always been known as a ''rich kid radical."... Thinking back on his life, Mr. Ayers said, ''I was a child of privilege and I woke up to a world on fire. And hope and history rhymed.''
Terrible. Terrible beyond terrible timing, but what mind-crushingly bad timing. Brooks's bad timing is almost nothing compared to that. But still, it must pain him with a pain with which no one can sympathize that his effort traveling the world and cogitating about it appears in print at a point when no one will be enticed to share his broodings.

But so what if the Four Seasons slaps its brand on a package tour and you flit from place to place on a chartered jet? I don't see what's particularly posh about this. They keep plying him with champagne. He goes around the world stopping in Tokyo, Beijing, the Maldives, the Serengeti, St. Petersburg, Marrakesh and New York, because these are all places with Four Seasons hotels, so that's where you stay. Who are your co-travelers, these people who pay $120,000 each to be shuttled around like that and always assured of a stay in a Four Seasons hotel?
Each morning you get to choose from an array of options — a visit to a Russian ballet school? A tour of Nevsky Prospekt shopping street? An excursion to the Fabergé Museum? The people on this trip loved the experience. They were very satisfied customers.... The people on this trip were by and large on the lower end of the upper class. One had a family carpet business. Another was an I.T. executive at an insurance company. There were a few law partners....
Yes, thanks, David. This is what anyone can figure out from the description. $120,000 isn't really that much to spend for all this. It's kind of a bargain, a bargain with nice branding that effectively sends the message that one can see the world from inside a cocoon of protection. Who with $120,000 to spare falls for a pitch like that? The lower end of the upper class. Brooks is looking down on these people.
[T]hey were socially and intellectually unpretentious. They treated the crew as friends and equals and not as staff. Nobody was trying to prove they were better informed or more sophisticated than anybody else. There were times, in fact, when I almost wished there had been a little more pretense and a little more intellectual and spiritual ambition.
Almost wished? You wished it every moment, didn't you? These people were beneath you. A family carpet business. They didn't even know to treat the servants as servants. And, you, David Brooks, didn't know how to treat rather ordinary people as people.
The guests were delighted by the intricate wall carvings in the Royal Harem building in Istanbul, by the vegetables in a Turkish restaurant, by 15 minutes of opera in a Russian palace. But over dinner, they mostly spoke with their new friends about their kids and lives back home, not about the meaning and depth of what they had just seen. 
The rubes. They looked to each other for friendship and human contact. I wonder what they thought of the disapproving eminence from The New York Times. They visit the Hermitage and see Rembrandt’s "Return of the Prodigal Son" but nobody talks about the meaning of the familiar Bible story. They visit Ephesus but don't air their opinions about St. Paul, so Brooks is forced to tell us what he might have told the carpet people and their ilk:
Paul must have been regarded as an extreme religious crank, preaching a life of poverty and love. His antimaterialistic and anti-achievement message was diametrically opposed to the prevailing ethos of classical Rome, with its emphasis on wealth, power and grandeur.... It would have been nice to stand amid these ruins reading Paul, or to talk about how to reconcile material happiness with spiritual joy as we were on the very spot where Paul preached, where the ethos of Athens met the ethos of Jerusalem. But our guide never really told us Paul’s story. He spent most of his time instead taking us through the royal palaces, with the grand chambers, frescoes and meeting halls. He gave us those material facts about the place that tour guides specialize in (who built what when), but which no one remembers because they don’t really have anything to do with us emotionally. The Ephesus visit was an occasion to have a good discussion about how to live and what really lasts. But if anybody was thinking such thoughts, they went unexpressed.
And the anybodies included Brooks himself. America is full of people who would love to talk as long as you want about the meaning of Christianity. Why would "the very spot where Paul preached" get you closer to any significant meaning... especially from folks who opted into the Four-Seasons-branded package tour? But if you thought it was important — mystical? — to talk about Paul's ideas in the very place where he had them, why didn't you see fit to talk? Why didn't you think the people you were living with were worthy of conversation? Imagine what you could have said: I paid $120,000 to stand here and think about Paul, but Paul's ideas are in a book and I can read that book again, but I've read it already, and I know it's perfectly obvious that it would have been better for me to donate $120,000 to charities that serve the poor and stay in America and find the people who truly believe in Christianity and to talk about Paul with them, but I'm here now, and you are the people who are with me, and I want to hear what you think about Paul.

But Brooks keeps his opinions to himself until he gets home and puts it in writing, opening himself only to those of us who encounter him on the other side of text.

UPDATE: Here's another post, dealing with some of the ethical issues.

"Three teams of Islamic State attackers acting in unison carried out the terrorist assault in Paris on Friday night..."

"... including one gunman who may have traveled to Europe on a Syrian passport along with the flow of migrants," the NYT reports.
The Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said the attackers were all armed with heavy weaponry and suicide vests.... The gunman with the Syrian passport — which Greek officials said had been registered at the Aegean island of Leros on Oct. 3 — was 25, and died at the stadium. Another gunman, who died at the concert hall, was 29 and a native of Courcouronnes, about 20 miles south of Paris. He had a criminal record and was known to be associated with extremist Islamic ideology, Mr. Molins said....

The possibility that one of the attackers was a migrant or had posed as one is sure to further complicate the already vexing problem for Europe of how to handle the unceasing flow of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It could also lend weight to the xenophobic arguments of right-wing populists like Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front party, who on Saturday held a news conference to declare that “France and the French are no longer safe.”

At the Sun Dog Café...

P1330369

... you can talk about whatever you like.

(And if you need to do some shopping, please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

A Paris prayer.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

(Photo taken, 10 years ago, by my son John, at the Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.)

There's a name for this argument Debbie Wasserman Schultz is making about Hillary Clinton's story of trying to enlist in the Marines.

It's "fake but accurate."

Watch the video of Andrea Mitchell pushing for an explanation for why Hillary is going around making this claim that's quite unlikely to be true and that WaPo's fact checker has given 2 Pinocchios. DWS begins by impugning the very asking of the question: "Why on earth are we talking about this?" Mitchell stands her ground. Obviously, we're talking about it because Hillary Clinton is using her personal story in her current campaigning for President. DWS shifts to presenting the story as illustrating something that is true (that women have struggled over the years with acceptance into the military). In that light, the details of whether the story is real doesn't matter as long as it works to understand a problem that is real.

ADDED: Here's the WaPo fact checker piece. It not only shows the fakeness of Hillary's story, but it also undermines the "fake but accurate" presentation, because it doesn't even illustrate the general problem accurately. Excerpt:
Women have been part of the Marines since 1918, and were deployed to Korea in the 1950s. “By the height of the Vietnam war... about 2,700 women Marines served... both stateside and overseas,” according to the Women Marines Association. “By 1975, the Corps approved the assignment of women to all occupational fields except infantry, artillery, armor and pilot/air crew.”
And: "A former Marine lawyer, who was actively recruiting for the JAG at the time, says it is 'ludicrous' to suggest someone with Clinton’s skills would have been rejected. Since the draft had ended, 'we were frantic for lawyers,' he said, declining to be identified. Neither age nor eyesight would have been issue, he added. Many of the newly recruited lawyers were at least 26 years old and eyesight was only an issue for pilots, he said."

"Yews are normally either male or female and in autumn and winter sexing yews is generally easy."

"Males have small spherical structures that release clouds of pollen when they mature. Females hold bright red berries from autumn into winter. It was, therefore, quite a surprise to me to find a group of three ripe red berries on the Fortingall Yew when the rest of the tree was clearly male."

The Fortingall Yew is at least 2,000 years old and possibly as old as 5,000.

"Odd as it may seem, yews, and many other conifers that have separate sexes, have been observed to switch sex. It's not fully understood - normally the switch occurs on part of the crown rather than the entire tree changing sex. In the Fortingall Yew it seems that one small branch in the outer part of the crown has switched and now behaves as female."

What if one small part of you switched and began to behave as a member of the opposite sex from what you've believed yourself to be all these years? Which part would it be, and how would you know?

I ask the questions those other blogs dare not ask.

"The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear its first major abortion case since 2007..."

"...one that has the potential to affect millions of women and to revise the constitutional principles governing abortion rights," writes Adam Liptak in the NYT.
The court’s decision will probably arrive in late June, as the presidential campaign enters its final stretch, thrusting the divisive issue of abortion to the forefront of public debate. Other major rulings — on affirmative action, public unions, contraception coverage and possibly immigration — are also expected to land around then.

But it is the new abortion case, however it is decided, that is likely to produce the term’s most consequential and legally significant decision....
The constitutional law doctrine, from 1992, forbids the state from imposing "unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion." Given the personnel on the Court, it doesn't seem likely at all that the doctrine will change, only that it might be somewhat hard to apply the doctrine to the regulations the state came up with:
The case concerns two parts of a state law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers.... One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for “ambulatory surgical centers,” including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Officials in Texas said that the contested provisions were needed to protect women’s health. Abortion providers responded that the regulations were expensive, unnecessary and intended to put many of them out of business....

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the Texas challenge, said officials in Texas had used “deceptive laws and regulatory red tape” to block access to abortion.... “There would be no licensed abortion facilities west of San Antonio,” the challengers’ brief said. The only clinic south of San Antonio, in McAllen, it added, would have “extremely limited capacity.”
I predict that the Supreme Court see an undue burden here. Isn't the law really, mostly a way to deter women from having abortions? It will be interesting to be pushed into thinking about abortion more than usual in the coming election year. Whether the abortion case is the "most consequential" case — more than "affirmative action, public unions, contraception coverage and possibly immigration" — it fits in a set of issues that are politically hot and that drive a wedge in a place that makes it hard for Republicans to keep people like me who can be won over on economic and security issues. And so, I'd say that Democrats should be happy about the line-up of politically hot cases in the Supreme Court.

Hollande: "It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France."

"It is an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside, which the investigation will help establish.... France, because it was foully, disgracefully and violently attacked, will be unforgiving with the barbarians from Daesh... [France will act within the law but with] all the necessary means, and on all terrains, inside and outside, in coordination with our allies, who are, themselves, targeted by this terrorist threat."

From the NYT's "Hollande Blames ISIS for ‘Act of War’ on Paris."

"The story of the surgery that made Ben Carson famous — and its complicated aftermath."

In The Washington Post. Excerpt:
Their mother would later tell reporters that they came home with the hope, instilled in them by the Johns Hopkins surgeons, that the boys might soon begin crawling, and then hit other milestones.... It soon became apparent, though, that the boys were hopelessly delayed, according to a 1993 interview with the Revue. Benjamin would moan occasionally, but Patrick remained completely silent; he had had a setback in the Baltimore hospital when he choked on a piece of food, going without oxygen for a short time. Years later, neither boy could get around on his own or feed himself....

When Freizeit Revue caught up with Theresia in November 1993, she said her children’s brain damage had destroyed her marriage. “Josef has never been able to cope with this blow of fate,” she said in the little-seen interview written in German and translated into English. She said Josef, who has since died, according to Theresia’s brother, became an alcoholic, lost his job, cheated on her and spent all their money, leaving her and the children to live “from hand to mouth.”“He never touched them,” she said. “He was appalled.” Unable to care for the twins on her own, she brought them to a home for disabled children, where they became wards of the state.

“The first thing I think of every morning is ‘today I’m going to get them,’ ” she said in 1993. “But then I can’t.” She said she had lost her faith in God. She remarried and had another child, and in 1993 was pregnant with another. “When we go for a walk with the children in their wheelchair, people look at me, as if I’m a monster,” she said. “I need this child. To heal. I still have to prove to myself that I’m not a monster.”
The highest rated comment over there is:
I'm not sure why people are so negative about this article. I don't like the guy or his politics, and I think he's nuts. But this article portrays a pretty brave doctor willing to take a chance to help two babies who would otherwise have had a miserable life. He gave them a chance at a better life. That it didn't work is hardly his fault, and the article doesn't paint it as his fault. Relax.
Second:
I don't see how this story in any way reflects unfavorably on Ben Carson. Some difficult ethical and medical decisions were made and the outcome was poor. Welcome to the real world where medicine often fails to live up to expectations.  In my opinion Ben Carson's surgical successes or failures have absolutely no bearing on his fitness for office. The fact that he is a Christian fringe fanatic makes him a no go for me. Ben comes across as dangerously unhinged when he shares some of his half baked theories.

November 13, 2015

"PARIS UNDER SIEGE; MANY DEATHS."

The headline in the NYT. "Multiple Attacks Roil Paris; President Hollande Is Evacuated From Stadium."
Shootings and explosions erupted in the Paris area on Friday night, and French news services said at least 39 people were dead, dozens wounded and others taken hostage in what appeared to be coordinated militant attacks.

French television reported that one of at least two explosions had struck near Paris at the country’s main sports stadium, forcing the hasty evacuation of President François Hollande. The explosion occurred during a France-Germany soccer match.
At Drudge: "MUSLIM RAMPAGE IN PARIS/100 HOSTAGES TAKEN IN THEATER; 60+ DEAD."

And, yes, I do, see a distinctive difference between those headlines, even though when I saw the NYT headline, I thought: It looks like a Drudge headline. All caps. Shocking.

"A Utah judge reversed his decision to take a baby away from her lesbian foster parents and place her with a heterosexual couple..."

"... after the ruling led to widespread backlash."

The internet worked.

"Prince is seated at a microphone behind a keyboard, which he keeps playing. This is quite disconcerting..."

"... if he doesn’t like a question, he strikes up with the theme from The Twilight Zone and shakes his head. At one point, he presses a button on the keyboard and the intro to his legendary 1988 hit Sign o’ the Times booms out of the PA. He looks at me. 'You wanna do this?' he says."

Prince does an interview and has his fun with the interviewers, one of whom writes for The Guardian, which — I don't know, maybe it's a British thing — doesn't edit out what to my eye is the run-on sentence of the year: "As skinny as a teenager, sporting an afro and almost unnecessarily handsome at 57 years old, Prince looks flatly amazing, exuding ineffable cool and panache while wearing clothes that would make anyone else look like a ninny is just one among his panoply of talents."

I diagrammed that in my head and determined that there needs to be a period after "amazing." But what is the subject of that second sentence, the one with the verb "is"? Answer: "exuding."

And what were the clothes that would make anyone else look like a ninny? Mainly the white platform flip-flops with white socks.

"All of our calculations were wrong. It was like a tsunami.... For two decades, people have voted the same."

"This is an unexpected situation...The government and the military would have had Plan A, B and C, but now Plan Z has just happened.... All of their pre-election expectations went wrong."

"Calling the Islamic State an 'evil terrorist death cult,' Mr. Cameron defended the decision to target Mr. Emwazi..."

"'... who was born in Kuwait and is a naturalized British citizen, as 'an act of self-defense' and 'the right thing to do.' We have been working, with the United States, literally around the clock to track him down... This was a combined effort, and the contribution of both our countries was essential. Emwazi is a barbaric murderer.... He was ISIL’s lead executioner, and let us never forget that he killed many, many Muslims, too."

Mr. Cameron = British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr. Emwazi = Mohammed Emwazi, AKA Jihadi John.

A Reaper drone armed with Hellfire missiles attacked a car and, as an anonymous U.S. military official put it: "We think we got him."

AND: "Kurdish and Yazidi fighters retook Sinjar on Friday morning, on the second day of a major offensive to reclaim this city in northern Iraq, which has been under the brutal domination of the Islamic State for more than 15 months.... Members of the Yazidi religious minority, which faced rape, enslavement and death in large numbers after the Islamic State overran Sinjar in August 2014, took part in the fight."

Jeff Buckley covers the great Sly and the Family Stone song "Everyday People."

Jeff Buckley died in 1997 but there's an album coming out of covers — including "Just Like a Woman" — and "Everyday People" has been made available for streaming here.

The original version can be heard here. And here's the Wikipedia article on the great song:
The song is one of Sly Stone's pleas for peace and equality between differing races and social groups, a major theme and focus for the band. The Family Stone featured Caucasians Greg Errico and Jerry Martini in its lineup, as well as females Rose Stone and Cynthia Robinson; making it the first major integrated band in rock history. Sly & the Family Stone's message was about peace and equality through music....

Sister Souljah had a Hillary moment.

She's talking about a number of things to Time, but when she's asked what she thinks about Hillary Clinton, she "pauses" and "then pulls out an unsealed envelope":
“I want to control what I say so that I can be quoted properly. I have this past history of being misquoted or misunderstood.” She slides an index card across the table. It reads, “She reminds me too much of the slave plantation white wife of the white ‘Master.’ She talks down to people, is condescending and pandering. She even talked down to the Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, while she was under his command!”
Souljah also offers her own definition of the term that bears her name:
“People say, ‘What is a Sister Souljah moment?’ And I say, ‘That’s when you meet a beautiful, powerful woman—and you just can’t forget her.’”

"No Disrespect."

"How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?"

Asks Donald Trump after a highly comical reenactment of Ben Carson's knife-and-belt story.

"He took a knife and he went after a friend and he lunged! He lunged that knife into the stomach of his friend!"

Trump demonstrates with his own belt, which bends this way and that — see? — and is hardly a shield against knifings. He actually says: "Anyone have a knife you want to try it on me?"

ADDED: I think we can picture what it will look like if and when Trump's numbers start failing and/or he loses couple caucuses/primaries. He'll tell us off, calling us stupid. He gave us a chance. It would have been great, America could have been great again, but we just didn't get it, and that's it, he's gone. He thought we were smart, but we were stupid.

"The world owes me a living."

A phrase from an old Disney cartoon song came to mind as we were talking about the pretty face in the previous post. I don't know anything about the real Hunter Park, the unusually handsome young man who was arrested over threats to "shoot every black person I see" at the University of Missouri. I don't even know whether he is the author of the threat. But we got to talking about the psychology of unusually good-looking people who squander their beauty endowment. No sooner do we see the face than we must despise it. What goes on in the mind of a person with such a nice endowment? Does the beauty itself deceive him into thinking that the world owes him a living?

I went looking for the old song, and here it is, in a tremendously enjoyable cartoon of "The Grasshopper and the Ants."



If you watch the whole thing — which you will not regret — you'll probably want to talk about politics. What's left-wing and right-wing here? But maybe you'll be like me if: 1. You observe, early on, that the grasshopper is working, as a musician, and then feel richly rewarded at a later plot point, and 2. You're quite touched by the charity of the ants, and 3. You're cracked up by how happy the insects are when they're happy, and 4. You love the brilliance of the depiction of the seasons changing and think the image of ants' home in the snow looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Hey! I just realized this post gets one of my favorite tags: Insect Politics!

A pretty face.


ADDED: Remember Jeremy Meeks? There will be none of that sort of love for Hunter Park, whose face the world suddenly sees as he is arrested for (allegedly) sending the Yik Yak messages: "I'm going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see" and "Well tomorrow mizzou will really make national news. Don't go to campus tomorrow."

The Ithaca "savage" incident.

From a NYT article, "Racial Discrimination Protests Ignite at Colleges Across the U.S.":
At Ithaca [College], one of the issues is the on-campus panel on Oct. 8, in which Tatiana Sy, a 2009 graduate, said she had a “savage hunger” to do everything in college. Another panelist, J. Christopher Burch, the chief executive of Burch Creative Capital who is also an alumnus, responded, “I love what the savage here said,” according to YouTube clips of the event. The moderator, Bob Kur, a former NBC News correspondent, joined in, pointing to Mr. Burch, saying, “You are driven,” and pointing to Ms. Sy and saying, “You’re the savage.” The men are both white, and Ms. Sy describes herself as Afro-Cuban. When Ms. Sy objected, Mr. Burch said, “It’s a compliment.”...
Whether this incident justifies protest is up for debate, but I just want to say that, reading that, I was leaning toward blogging that it's sad that we've lost the freedom to play with language. But then I watched the video.

This is, for me, a very striking example of video making an impression that the standard fact-orient text of journalism fails to convey:



That man really is doing something quite offensive. Perhaps he has no awareness of it, but I suspect that he uses that style to achieve his professional ends all the time. He's the chief executive of Burch Creative Capital! I'm sure he feels at ease in his skin, exercising power, experiencing dominance. He doesn't merely flip the "savage hunger" language into a playful epithet, "the savage." He calls her a "girl," and she is consistently amiable, even when she finally, and in a very friendly way, voices a small objection to being called "the savage." She says, laughing, "All right, I mean." That's all! He then reaches out and pats her on her bare arm.

And all the while he's lolling back in his chair with his big, red-panted legs extended and crossed. You can see that he's trying to regain his grounding as his big foot flaps a tad desperately. But he doesn't sit up, he doesn't show any awareness that he's been diminishing her and that it isn't fun for her. His red pant leg is hiked halfway up his shin, he's not wearing socks, and the flapping foot is wearing a greenish slip-on shoe. He's so comfortable being himself there, and she's supposed to get it and like it. And she knows that too. She can't stop giggling and helping him feel good about himself.

I can see the reason for protesting, for reaching back to her, there, exposed on that stage, and to support her and to make him feel uncomfortable for a change.

November 12, 2015

"Plan to use crocodiles as death row guards moves forward."

In Indonesia.

"A Six-Figure Settlement on Campus Free Speech."

"On Thursday, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reached a settlement with Steven Salaita, a professor who had a job offer revoked by the school after he tweeted incendiary statements about Israel during the country’s war with Hamas in Gaza last summer."

The end of the daily student newspaper.

UW-Madison used to have 2. Now, none.

"Mizzou’s Interim President Promises to Address Racism Immediately."

It's law professor Michael A. Middleton, who says: "The time has come for us to acknowledge and address our daunting challenges and return to our relentless adherence to the University of Missouri’s mission to discover, disseminate, preserve, and apply knowledge." Good luck!

"The Pundits Have It All Wrong. Ted Cruz Is a Real Threat For the Nomination."

Says Rich Lowry. I was just thinking that myself.

How are the presidential candidates leveraging the racial unrest at college campuses?

1. Donald Trump: "I think it's just disgusting. I think the two people who resigned are weak, ineffective people... When they resigned, they set something in motion that's going to be a disaster for the next long period of time.... Many of those [demands by protesters] are like crazy."

2. Bernie Sanders: "I'm listening to the #BlackOnCampus conversation. It's time to address structural racism on college campuses." Sanders tweeted.

3. Hillary Clinton (retweeting something her staffer wrote): "Racism has no place anywhere, let alone an institution of learning. Standing w/ the students at Mizzou in my home state calling for change."

4. Marco Rubio: "I am concerned about a broader issue and that is — ah, maybe this is not related to Missouri — freedom of speech on campus seems to be under assault in some of the finest institutions in this country."

5. Rand Paul: "I think freedom of speech is very, very important. Does freedom of speech mean there will be boorish people who say things you don't want to associate with? Yes. But really in a free society, there's got to be a place for people to make their argument."

6. Chris Christie: "I think part of this is a product of the president’s own unwillingness and inability to bring people together.... When people think justice is not applied evenly and fairly, they take matters into their own hands. The lawlessness that the president has allowed to exist in this country just absolutely strips people of hope.... Our administration would stand for the idea that justice is not just a word, but it’s a way of life.... Laws will be applied evenly, fairly, and without bias to everyone."

"Dr. Falcone said he first heard of uterus transplants about 10 years ago... Initially, he was skeptical."

"A trip to Sweden changed his mind. He went there in 2013 — like a doubting Thomas, he said — to see what the team was doing. He watched the surgery and spoke to several couples who wanted it. 'I almost cross-examined them,' Dr. Falcone said. 'I was thinking, "There’s got to be something wrong with these people."' But, he said, he came to understand how much pregnancy meant to them. 'It’s a legitimate request,' he said...."

From "Uterus Transplants May Soon Help Some Infertile Women in the U.S. Become Pregnant."

"But at least he did answer the question about what items he'd use to fight a customer to the death."

"I have to start with the Black Diamond Ice axe!! I think I would also go with crampons."

"He" =  REI CEO Jerry Stritzke doing a Reddit "Ask Me Anything."

"When you have an immunity challenge like this and are forced to repeatedly say things like 'Joe’s balls start to move,' how aware are you of the snickering at home as you’re saying it?"

"Not only am I aware, I am consciously trying to say things that sound normal but have enough innuendo to be funny or just corny. We are all in on the joke! The players, the crew, the editors and I think even the network. It’s all in fun and we make sure to only include the ones that are PG."

Jeff Probst answers a question about "Survivor."

R. Crumb on Adam and Eve and his deal with a publisher to draw a comic of all of Genesis.

The word "stupid" comes up twice...



... Adam and Eve were stupid and so was that deal (because there's a lot more in Genesis than the vivid tale of Adam and Eve... and he's not really happy with the way he decided to draw God). Nice little video with a view into his work space (in France (not the one in the great old documentary)). Not really safe for work, of course, Adam and Eve being naked (until they realized they were naked).

Here's the book in case you don't already have it.

AND: There's an interview here. Excerpt:
"The hippie culture of Haight-Ashbury, where it all started for me, was full of men doing nothing all day and expecting women to bring them food. The ‘chick’ had to provide a home for them, cook meals for them, even pay the rent. It was still very much ingrained from the earlier patriarchal mentality of our fathers, except that our fathers, generally, were providers. Free love meant free sex and food for men. Sure, women enjoyed it, too, and had a lot of sex, but then they served men. Even among left-wing political groups, women were always relegated to secretarial, menial jobs. We were all on LSD, so it took a few years for the smoke to dissipate and for women to realize what a raw deal they were getting with the ne’er-do-well hippie male. Men who acquired preeminence at the time were all frauds, fake gurus who were paying lip service to peace and love, charismatic cons who just wanted to fuck all their adoring disciples. Timothy Leary was like that. A big phony."
ADDED: I was interested that Crumb drew a cover for The New Yorker on the subject of gay marriage that the magazine never published.  I'd like to see it! And: "The America that I missed died in about 1935... In the U.S [in the 1920s] there were thousands and thousands of bands, dance halls, ballrooms in hotels, restaurants had dance floors, school auditoriums, clubs in small towns. A small town of 10,000 would have a least a hundred bands. In the mid 30’s radio spread very fast in America and the depression killed a lot of the venues where live music was performed. You could go to the movies for 10 cents. Then in the 50’s TV finished it all off. Mass media makes you stay home, passive. In the 20’s there was live music everywhere in the States.... The current pop music in the Western world is just plain god-awful. America is long gone. The ’80s killed it for me. The Reagan era, AIDS. It was an awful decade."

MORE: You can see The New Yorker cover here, and it's pretty obvious that it's not at the right taste level. 
"[New Yorker editor David] Remnick would not give the reason for rejecting the cover, either to the cover editor, or to me. For this reason I refuse to do any more work for the New Yorker. I felt insulted, not so much by the rejection as for the lack of any reason given. I can't work for a publication that won't give you any guidelines or criterion for accepting or rejecting a work submitted. Does the editor want to keep you guessing or what? I think part of the problem is the enormous power vested in the position of chief editor of the New Yorker. He has been ‘spoiled' by the power that he wields. So many artists are so eager to do covers for the New Yorker that they are devalued in the eyes of David Remnick. They are mere pawns. He is not compelled to take pains to show them any respect. Any artist is easily replaced by another. Fortunately for me, I do not feel that I need the New Yorker badly enough to put up with such brusque treatment at the hands of its editor-in-chief. The heck with him!"
Crumb said that back in 2011. In the new interview, he's still pissed off at Remnick.

Last night in Yale's Battell Chapel, crowds crammed "A Moment of Crisis: Race at Yale Teach-In."

Do you think of Yale as a religious institution? Up until 1926, Yale students were required to attend services at Battell Chapel:



Inside are stained glass windows depicting such characters as George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards. It's quite a venue.

Here's the the Yale Daily News report on last night's teach-in. Excerpt:
The forum... opened with two spoken word poems performed by black female students. The first highlighted the lack of support that black men offer their female counterparts. Both poems brought audience members to their feet in a standing ovation. 
I'd like to see video of that. Strange to begin with what sounds like an attack on black men. A real crowd-pleaser, we're told.
“I want to make sure that I’m moving towards the informed camp and moving myself away from the ignorant camp,” Molly Zeff ’07 SOM ’16 said. “This is a fight that’s only going to be possible if the people who most benefit from systemic racism, which include myself, are fully aware of the people who most suffer from systemic racism.”

Mojique Tyler ’19 expressed similar sentiments, adding that he could not sit idly by while his community is experiencing problems and challenges.... Describing himself as a black, atheist, agender and Jewish individual with one parent who is white, Tyler... said the struggle of identity that the forum touched upon was relevant to his own experiences....

"The story of Trumbo is a reminder that efforts to control screen content had existed in the past and there's always the chance..."

"... that in some case the political winds will shift and some of those ideas will become popular again in the future," says Jeff Smith, a University of Wisconsin film professor, expressing great pride in The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, a huge archive which includes — among much else (as you'll see in this short video) — materials relating to Dalton Trumpo Trumbo and Hollywood's era of "blacklisting":



As you may have noticed, there's a new movie, "Trumbo," starring Bryan Cranston.

ADDED: The commenters enjoyed my "Trumpo" for "Trumbo" typo, above, which I've preserved with a strike-through. Meaning was striven for: "Maybe AA typo'd 'Trumpo' because she sees Donald Trump as a maligned avatar of truth that the establishment is trying to suppress."

"The researchers believe that verbosity in some ways might be a marker for deception because the person doing the lying is doing a lot to paint a picture that actually isn't true."

"It's worth pointing out here that different studies have produced different results on this, Steve, so context certainly matters. In analyses of online dating profiles, for example, people who lie about themselves have often been found to use shorter descriptions rather than longer descriptions. It could be because dating actually offers better fact checking. If you claim to be a rock climber but refuse to go rock climbing, you'll be very quickly found out.... On the other hand, in a presidential primary debate, politicians might throw out several hundred claims, most of which are not going to get fact checked. So politicians who might actually have greater latitude to stretch the truth."

From an NPR discussion titled "Researchers Examine How To Spot A Lying Politician."

This gets what is one of my favorite tags: clear speech.

"Whiteness studies" — college courses with titles like "The Problem of Whiteness."

"At some universities, there are classes dedicated to understanding the notions of whiteness, white supremacy and what the field’s proponents see as the quiet racism of white people," writes Yanan Wang in The Washington Post.
The syllabus [for the Arizona State University course called "The Problem of Whiteness"] described “Critical Whiteness Studies” as a field “concerned with dismantling white supremacy in part by understanding how whiteness is socially constructed and experienced.”....

“White supremacy makes it so that white people can’t see the world they have created,” [the professor Lee] Bebout told The Washington Post. It’s a culture so pervasive that living in it, subscribing to it and upholding it feel as natural to most Americans as breathing air....

Bebout, who is white, said he was promptly attacked for promoting discrimination against white people. Fliers appeared around his neighborhood which featured a photo of him and the declaration that he was “anti-white.”...
The word problem (in the course title) seems intended to provoke, but the actual course may very well have intellectual heft worthy of college-level study. But if universities are dedicated to creating a welcoming climate and overcoming racial strife, they might want to use less antagonistic sounding titles. If, on the other hand, universities want vibrant speech on campus and expect students to handle racial provocation, "The Problem of Whiteness" is no problem at all.
[Bebout] said the class is not a critique of white individuals, per se, but rather whiteness as a form of institutional racism, where the experiences of people of color are rarely validated. In Bebout’s words, this centers around the conviction that “my experience as a white male should be the experience of everybody else, and there is something dysfunctional about them if they don’t see the world in the way that I do.”
Don't let the "my" confuse you. He doesn't mean himself. He's talking about the subjectivity of others.
It can be challenging to teach the shift in perspective that this theory requires.
That's a red flag: There's a required perspective. [OR: Is there?]
While anti-racist in its intent, whiteness studies can often yield counterproductive outcomes.

“We all think of ourselves as decent people,” [said Terrance MacMullan, a philosophy of race professor at Eastern Washington University], “so it’s very disconcerting to see yourself as someone who benefits from systemic racism.... One problem inherent in whiteness studies is that it might become a white pity party.... Instead of talking about how whiteness is problematic, it becomes about the problems of white people.”
That's making it sound as though it's built into the course that you must think a particular way, and you're doing it wrong if you disagree. The professor is strongly dedicated to controlling what the students make of the material they are presented with. It's inherent in the nature of the course that the professor would have to feel that way. It's the problem of The Problem of Whiteness.

ADDED: A "Problem of Whiteness"-type course will have some special problems, I would think, if the university has a race and ethnic studies requirement for college students. I don't think the Arizona State University has such a requirement, but there is a requirement for undergraduates at my university.

"April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce of Carbon County said the baby they've loved and raised for the last three months will be removed from their home..."

"... and sent to heterosexual foster parents because a judge said the baby would be better-off."
The women, who are legally married and were approved as foster parents in Utah earlier this year after passing home inspections, background checks and interviews from DCFS, said the judge told them there was a lot of research that indicated children who are raised in same-sex parent homes do not do as well as children who are raised by heterosexual parents.....

Attorney Mandie Torgerson, who represents the baby's biological mother, said Johansen did not cite the research he referenced in court saying only that there are "a myriad" of studies that support his order....
UPDATE: "Utah Judge Reverses Order to Take Baby From Lesbian Couple."

November 11, 2015

"The Wisconsin nuns who have been praying nonstop since 1878."

"The La Crosse-based Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration claim to have been praying night and day for the ill and the suffering longer than anyone in the United States — since 11 a.m. on Aug. 1, 1878...."
The tradition of perpetual Eucharistic adoration — uninterrupted praying before what is believed to be the body of Christ — dates to 1226 in France, according to Sister Marlene Weisenbeck.... In La Crosse, the nuns estimate they’ve prayed for hundreds of thousands of people, including 150,000 in the last decade. “Sometimes it’s overwhelming with the pain that people have and the illnesses that they are suffering,” said Donna Benden, who is among 180 lay people known as “prayer partners” who help the 100 sisters. Benden prays from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every Wednesday before going to work.

"Donald Trump and Marco Rubio won Tuesday’s night primetime Republican debate, according to an overnight poll of Internet users who watched the contest..."

"... but Mr. Trump came out as the favorite among Republicans and left the best impression about his ability to serve as president. Some 24% of debate-viewers named Mr. Trump and 23% picked Mr. Rubio as the winner of the eight-candidate event, which was sponsored by the Wall Street Journal and Fox Business News. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson followed, with 13% declaring each to have won...."

The Wall Street Journal reports its poll done by Google Consumer Surveys.

Who would you pick if you had to spend the day with one of the presidential candidates?

I'd rather say no to the whole thing, but let's assume you have to choose. I realize that all of them would be either boring or annoying and some would be both.

Show your love.

Shop the new Amazon deals.

I appreciate the encouragement that comes from your shopping through that Amazon link.

"If you give into bullies, they win. The only way bullies are defeated is by standing up to them."

I don't get it. Didn't he give in to bullies?

"Biggest loser on merits: Kasich. He’s done. He came across angry, condescending, and unprincipled."

"By the end of the debate he came across as the drunk, obnoxious uncle everyone wishes hadn’t accepted the invitation to Thanksgiving dinner."

Writes Jonah Goldberg (who goes on to call Jeb the biggest loser politically and to rank the various winners).

I've got to agree about Kasich, whom I think I probably should favor, just on the merits (though not much). He is so annoying.

The truth is, I don't like anyone who's running for President in either party. Watching these debates has become a chore. Following the news. I don't like them. I have no one to root for. And I'm pretty sure Hillary will win in the end. It's quite unpleasant. The worst election season to have to witness since I first started watching... which was in 1960.

"The creative brainchild of Aldo Leopold, Roald Dahl and a skilled plumber, this tantalizing chamber of excretion pushes the threshold of interior bathroom design."

"Instilling both a deep love of the natural world as well as a childlike sense of wonderment, no bathroom has ever been such an emotional experience as this...."
Speakers play continual audio of a babbling brook and the calls of wild forest creatures, and shimmering LED lights mounted in a navy blue ceiling mimic a starry night sky. The artistic heights this exemplary institute of excretion reaches were such that I felt like I had to check with someone to make doubly sure I wasn’t accidentally defiling a graduate student’s art installation.

This wondrous forest aesthetic contrasts with several abstract elements to create a subtle but welcome sense of surreality. The stall doors are a crimson red, custom-designed to mimic the iconic pay phones of London....
The best bathroom at the University of Wisconsin—Madison... and don't miss links to reviews of other on-campus bathrooms. 

"I was on a TV show, and Gloria Steinem didn’t even want to be on the stage with me. I was seen as a submissive slut."

"But I was a woman doing what I wanted to do. Isn’t that feminist? Some lady said to me, 'How could you shame yourself this way?' I said, 'I’m so sorry that you didn’t get to sleep with Mick Jagger and I did.' That shut her up."

From "Groupies, From Sex Symbols to Style Icons/When Pamela Des Barres and other backstage women came to prominence in 1969, the news media focused on their brazen sexuality. Now the focus is on their fashion" in the NYT.

"Student veterans finds community at UW-Madison."

An article in the UW student newspaper.
“To come straight off of that very intense and very rigid structure [of the military], it’s helpful to have a bunch of guys that can speak the same language and can empathize with what you’re going through because we’ve been there,” [one student vet said]....

“My first semester was definitely an eye-opener because when you’re in the military, they’re very direct about what they want you to do, and how they want you to do it. And in college, it’s just ‘yup, do your homework’,” said [another]. He added that he still holds himself to the standard set in his military training: Perfection is the standard, and excellence is only tolerated.

"A panhandler outside Grand Central Terminal says he rakes in up to $200 an hour from kind-hearted New Yorkers."

It might be the dog and it might be the location (Grand Central):
“People are more generous because I have a dog, 100 percent. They throw me a dollar and say, ‘That’s for the dog,’ ’’ Andersen said...

Another beggar, working the northeast corner of West 35th Street and Seventh Avenue near Penn Station, said that just like everything else in the city, it’s all about location for vagrants. “There are other spots where people get hundred-dollar bills. I could go over to Fifth Avenue and make $150 before lunch.... But I don’t want to deal with the hassle,’’ he said. “There’s people that bully you to get out of the good spots.’’
By the way, the headline uses the word "bum"...



... which we were just talking about in connection with Halloween costumes. I'd said that circa 1960 the go-to costumes were "bum and gypsy." I used the word "bum" (and "gypsy") because those were the words back then, not that I hadn't moved on to more respectful terminology. I got some (comic) pushback in the comments: "Hey, hey, hey, I'm gonna need a trigger warning if you're gonna use words like bum and gypsy."

The Post is using the word "bum" to rile readers, but I think "bum" is the wrong would for a person who is engaged in remunerative labor. You may disapprove of his money-making scheme, but he's not a bum. He's a beggar. But if you think "beggar" is too mean, I would call him a Provider of Charity Opportunities.

Or is "bum" the best word? The verb "to bum" can mean to beg, as in "He looked so immaculately frightful/As he bummed a cigarette/Then he went off sniffing drainpipes/And reciting the alphabet...."

"My wife's name is Janet. And when you say Janet yellin', I'm very familiar with what you mean."

Ugh. Did Mike Huckabee make a bad and really out of place joke at last night's debate.

That's the type of joke you used to hear all the time in the 1950s and 60s. In TV sitcoms and "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Why won't French President François Hollande have dinner with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Rouhani's trip to Europe.

Because Rouhani insists that no wine be served.

This has something to do with the French love of wine and something to do with a French "domestic culture war, with its right wing raising alarms over 'Islamification' that has spilled into its deep national relationship with food."

This country "was made possible by philosophy."

An apt observation that came up in Jaltcoh's live-blog of last night's debate:
9:11 — Marco Rubio raises the specter of robots replacing workers: "If you raise the minimum wage, you're going to make people more expensive than a machine." He adds: "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers!" [VIDEO.] Alex Knepper responds:
The sentiment he's expressing here is precisely what's wrong with our nation's attitude toward education. Our politicians think the meaning and purpose of education is to make money. If something doesn't have an immediate economic purpose, it's treated as useless, even offensive. The irony that Rubio will never grasp is that this exceptional country — the country that made his life possible, and made it possible for the son of a maid and a bartender to run for president — was made possible by philosophy.
That's rather true. My mind went elsewhere. I heard "We need more welders and less philosophers!" and said: "fewer philosophers." And, after a good night's sleep, my morning thought was: Why is it either/or? Welding is a great job for a philosopher.

ADDED: Jaltcoh corrected the Rubio quote and I've corrected my quote of Jaltcoh.

November 10, 2015

The GOP debate... watch it with me.

1. The "undercard" debate has started. Chris Christie is emitting empathy for the economically downtrodden.

2. Jindal seems to contain an inner robot. Watch this. I've watched it 10 times and cracked up every time:



3. The main debate is about to begin. My son John is live-blogging here.

4. Lou Dobbs is babbling. He says we've been "waiting a very long time" for this. What? A couple weeks?

5. "We need more welders and less philosophers." — Marco Rubio.

6. "I've done it twice. I'll do it thrice." — Kasich.

7. Oh! Sorry. I fell asleep. Is anyone watching?

8. "Paint in bold colors, not pale pastels." — Ted Cruz.

9. "In the 2 hours of this debate, 5 people have died..." of boredom? (Ben Carson.)

10. "It was a very riveting debate," claims Neil Cavuto, ludicrously.

Hey, The Chronicle of Higher Education used my photo of Camille Paglia for its interview.

Here. I put a Creative Commons license on it, and they gave me credit, so it's perfectly legit. Here's the old blog post from 2005, with numerous photos, covering an appearance by Paglia in a local Borders Bookstore: "Try to survive a tornado with a post-structuralist."

As for the interview, Camille says, when asked "How did you learn to write?":
Like a medieval monk, I laboriously copied out passages that I admired from books and articles — I filled notebooks like that in college. And I made word lists to study later. Old-style bound dictionaries contained intricate etymologies that proved crucial to my mastery of English, one of the world’s richest languages.

How to support this blog.

I'd like to thank everyone who's used the Amazon search box on this blog and other Amazon links to buy things and thereby (without extra cost) to send some money my way. I had some trouble recently and had to change some code in that box you see over there in the sidebar, so I'd be especially appreciative if you'd use the box today and reassure me that I've set things aright. Suffice it to say it was some damned thing about federal law, a box I didn't see that I needed to check on a new form that made me need to redo my account. It's too boring to explain and any comic talent I might have is not oriented to making bureaucratic headaches funny. So I'll stop right here and just say thanks for your support.

AND: If you've been using an old link that you consider the Althouse Amazon portal, it should be changed to this.

"Pedestrian Fast Lanes. Why the Heck Not?"

Because it wouldn't work, but still...
... a New Yorker’s heart leaps at the possibilities. Imagine using these to give locals a way around and through Times Square. You could bypass the tourist sidewalk hoggers, the smartphone starers, the matinee meanderers, the leafletters and hawkers, the desnudas with their oglers, the Elmos and Minions and all the other human and humanoid boulders that make the crossings choppy and all but impassable at the Crossroads of the World.
Hey, "New Yorker." The New York fast lane is stay the fuck out of Times Square. And what's up with "heart leaps"?! If you have a heart that leaps, don't try to palm yourself off as a New Yorker.

And I'm speaking as someone who lived in NYC for more than 10 years and who has been literally punched for stopping to look at a map on Park Avenue.

"This painting leaps off the page as the most vibrant, sexual, lyrical..."

A description of the Modigliani nude that sold for  $170.4 million at a Christie's auction that was organized on the theme "Artist's Muse" — or, as it looks to me, women painted by men... except that Andy Warhol painted a gun.

I thought the description "leaps off the page as the most vibrant, sexual, lyrical" was a funny way to talk about a lady who's totally lounging, not leaping.

As for Andy's gun, one dealer cracked: "Warhol 'Gun' painting? How was that his muse? But if they can get away with it, good luck to them.”

"In the current flap over some things that Dr. Carson said, the biggest discrepancy has been between the furor in the media and the irrelevance of his statements to any political issue."

Writes Thomas Sowell, noting that "the Pyramids are not an issue in today’s American political campaign."

Well, yeah, but the soundness of the mental processes of the candidates is always a central issue and never irrelevant.
By contrast, the media showed no such zeal to expose Barack Obama’s associations and alliances with a whole series of people who expressed their hatred of America in words and/or deeds. Here was something relevant to his suitability to become president. But the media saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil.
And that was wrong, not something to somehow balance by not looking into Ben Carson's suitability as President. Even if it is true that Obama's ties to radical left-wingers were more relevant than Carson's kooky pyramid theory, I want to hear about any strange notions Carson has propounded in his years as a public figure. Does he study the facts of the real world and process them accurately and make appropriate conclusions? If not, I don't want him making the decisions that will affect us all. I agree that Obama did not get fully tested and America took a leap of faith, but that doesn't establish that it should be leaps of faith from here on.

Those Yale student activists are "behaving more like Reddit parodies of 'social-justice warriors' than coherent activists, and I suspect they will look back on their behavior with chagrin."

"The purpose of writing about their missteps now is not to condemn these students," writes Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.
Their young lives are tremendously impressive by any reasonable measure. They are unfortunate to live in an era in which the normal mistakes of youth are unusually visible. To keep the focus where it belongs I won’t be naming any of them here.

The focus belongs on the flawed ideas that they’ve absorbed....
It's a longish article, describing the uproar at Yale, but it does not develop the idea I am most interested in: how university faculty taught the very ideas that the students are now throwing back in their faces.
The Yale student appears to believe that creating an intellectual space and a home are at odds with one another. But the entire model of a residential college is premised on the notion that it’s worthwhile for students to reside in a campus home infused with intellectualism, even though creating it requires lavishing extraordinary resources on youngsters who are already among the world’s most advantaged....
But for many decades, in the intellectual space of the American university, it's been presented as deeply intellectual to think in the very terms that the students have processed into activism.

"Students form a perimeter around the #ConcernedStudent1950 tent village and ask media to leave."

"This is what civic-level censorship looks like at a university with the largest and oldest public college for journalism."



ADDED: The protesting students are making many rudimentary PR mistakes here and could use some training in basic protest technique. They end up looking repressive and brutish, right in front of a camera, and they keep cranking up the intimidation. The photographer knows he's getting video that he'll be able to put up on the internet, and he's using a very effective technique of remaining calm and standing his ground in the face of what looks like scary intimidation. I have walked with a camera into big, passionate protests here in Wisconsin, and — with a few exceptions — the protesters were much better prepared to resist making the photographer seem like a sympathetic victim.

As for the First Amendment: The students and the photographers have free speech rights against the government, but not against each other. At 1:43, the photographer calmly cites the First Amendment, which, he says, gives all of them all "right to be here," in the public space, which is true. One of the black female protesters says "We do have our space as human beings," to which the photographer responds, emphasizing each word: "There's not a law about that." The woman then makes what I think is the most interesting statement in the video: "Forget a law. How about humanity? Respect?" He says, "How about documenting this for posterity?"

That's right where a good conversation could have begun. The law is not the beginning and end of how people treat each other. There is etiquette and there is respect. There is even love. As human beings, we want all of that. Please respect our space is an understandable request that a person should evaluate in ways that go beyond legal rights. The photographer did engage on that level when he offered a counter-value, documentation for posterity.

Unfortunately, that one-to-one conversation ended when another woman barged in and started yelling, precluding the development of the issues about photographing people who don't want to be photographed, and the crowd —which probably didn't notice the touching moment when Respect and Documentation stood face to face —  got going with the old "Hey hey ho ho" chant format: "Hey hey ho ho/Reporters have got to go."

"Change in sense of humour 'a sign of impending dementia.'"

"The University College London study involved patients with frontotemporal dementia, with the results appearing in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease."
Nearly all of the [friends or relatives of the patients] said, with hindsight, that they had noticed a shift in the nine years before the dementia had been diagnosed. Many of the patients had developed a dark sense of humour — for example, laughing at tragic events in the news or in their personal lives. The dementia patients also tended to prefer slapstick to satirical humour, when compared with 21 healthy people of a similar age.

Dr [Camilla] Clark said: "These were marked changes - completely inappropriate humour well beyond the realms of even distasteful humour. For example, one man laughed when his wife badly scalded herself."
What does this say about people who begin with a "dark" sense of humor and laugh at the pain of others?

"I’m glad that after 22 years you still laugh about it..."

Said Lorena Bobbitt, who cut off her husband's penis 22 years ago. She appeared recently on a TV show. It makes you wonder — doesn't it? — why we ever laughed at it.

"I'm torn on how this video affects my view of Jeb Bush. On the one hand, he didn't remember the name of the Back to the Future trilogy..."

"... but on the other hand, at least he's apparently seen it (and has taken Doc's warnings seriously)."

Writes my son John, linking to the video where Jeb Bush picks out an email of his to answer, one where he's asked whether, if he could go back in time, would he kill baby Hitler, and Jeb says, "Hell, yeah, I would" and — "Even if he was cute?" — "Ya gotta step up."

"A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has affirmed a federal district court’s nationwide injunction against the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents..."

Jonathan Adler reports.
In an extensive, 70-page ruling, Judge Jerry Smith (joined by Judge Jennifer Elrod) concluded that the states had standing to challenge DAPA and were likely to succeed on both their procedural and substantive claims. Among other things, Judge Smith concluded that DAPA is not authorized under existing law, nor is it justified by historical practice.
Adler excerpts from the opinion. Here's an excerpt of the excerpt:
DAPA undoubtedly implicates “question[s] of deep ‘economic and political significance’ that [are] central to this statutory scheme; had Congress wished to assign that decision to an agency, it surely would have done so expressly.”... Even with “special deference” to the Secretary, the INA flatly does not permit the reclassification of millions of illegal aliens as lawfully present and thereby make them newly eligible for a host of federal and state benefits, including work authorization....

[T]he President explicitly stated that “it was the failure of Congress to enact such a program that prompted him . . . to ‘change the law.’” At oral argument, and despite being given several opportunities, the attorney for the United States was unable to reconcile that remark with the position that the government now takes....

November 9, 2015

"Joan Didion and her husband had, like, a safe word when they were at a party and they wanted to leave. It was 'White Christmas.'"

"This night is now magical because of that scarf. You look mean, but like, mean in the way where I want to know you...."/"Like we'd be close, but I'd still be kind of cruel..."

This is the best ad I've ever seen:



Love Zosia Mamet. As for Anna Kendrick... never noticed her before, so for me, this is her breakthrough role.

"A prominent Thai fortuneteller accused of insulting the monarchy has died in custody..."

"The fortuneteller, Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, known by the name 'Mor Yong,' died of a blood infection Saturday at the military prison where he had been detained since mid-October...."
Mor Yong was known as a celebrity fortuneteller popular with officialdom and the Thai elite.... The case focuses on sponsorship of mass biking events arranged to honor Thailand's king and queen, and accuses the suspects of allegedly seeking kickbacks and other benefits in connection to the events....

"Are We Raising Sexist Sons?"/"Do We Need to Change the Way We Raise Boys?"

Interesting alternative titles for a "Room for Debate" forum at the NYT.

"Are We Raising Sexist Sons?" is the front page teaser, with the subheading: "We’ve pushed our daughters to excel. But have we failed to teach inclusion to our boys?"

"Do We Need to Change the Way We Raise Boys?" is the title at the page where the forum begins (which is also marked "Updated"). When you click through to the individual essays — there are 5 — the sidebar gets us back to the title of the forum that appears on the front-page teaser: "Are We Raising Sexist Sons?" The subheading is different: "We've come so far in redefining gender roles and raising our daughters' expectations, but have we failed to teach inclusion to our boys?"

There's an interesting difference between pushing our daughters to excel (and the relationship to some failure to teach the boys to be inclusive (which might suggest that boys should back off on their own efforts to excel) and redefining gender roles (which doesn't seem to be squarely about striving to win in a competitive field that, when girls arrive, includes more players).

I haven't read all the essays yet, but I note the inclusion of Christina Hoff Sommers, a name that I think will prompt some clicks from some people who otherwise shun the NYT. Sommers says, "Rather than try to change the basic nature of boys, why not work with who they are?
[I]ntegrating football teams in junior high so girls have more options is hardly the most pressing equity issue in education. Boys are now the have-nots in education. The real challenge for the nation’s schools is to make the classroom more inclusive — for boys.
(The forum is kicked off by an anecdote about a boy who mocked a girl who wanted to play football.)

Wolfe resigns!

The protest at the University of Missouri brings down the president.

ADDED: In his statement, which you can watch at the link, Wolfe says he doesn't think protests, like the hunger strike, are the right way to effect change. We should respect each other enough to have a conversation, he says, but that's not what is happening. But he takes "full responsibility," he says, apparently hoping that the resignation will be enough: "Use my resignation to heal and start talking again."

The football team really is more powerful than the university president:



AND: A threat to commit slow suicide compelled powerful authority to resign. What will that inspire?

"When I look at humankind’s great achievements, I also see the hand of God, and what astonishes me isn’t that He had to literally and specifically intervene—it’s that He didn’t."

"The miracle of the pyramids and Machu Picchu and the Mona Lisa isn’t God’s literal presence, but the capacity for genius He instilled in every human being whether or not they asked for it, whether or not they think He exists. There is an assumption of individualized divine intervention in Carson’s telling of his own life story, in the myths he’s created about himself. The fight with his mother, the knife hitting the belt-buckle: Carson has imposed a radical conversion story onto his trajectory, complete with miracles, because—I can only guess—the more mundane explanation (he was a smart kid who became a brilliant brain surgeon) is not satisfying to him. You can see the 'thug' tale as self-aggrandizing, but to me it is strangely self-denying—on some level, a kind of blasphemy. In making up a story filled with drama, he has failed to credit God for the original and true, if subtle, miracle within Carson: that a soft-spoken, nerdy young man born in inner Detroit did not have to become a thug at some point, that he was wise and respectful of his own potential without needing God to perform a parlor trick."

Writes Ana Marie Cox in "Ben Carson Thinks You’re the Crazy One/The real reason we should mock Ben Carson's pyramid theory? Because it reveals a very dim view of humankind." Read the whole thing. Apt analysis from a religious point of view.

"The fourth Republican presidential debate will be Tuesday, November 10th, live from the Milwaukee Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin."

"The venue has a loaded history: On October 14, 1912, candidate Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest by an assassin outside of a Milwaukee hotel. Instead of heading to the hospital, he continued to the Milwaukee Auditorium (now the Milwaukee Theatre) to deliver a 90-minute campaign speech. In front of a horrified audience and with the bullet lodged in his rib, he pulled out a bloodied 50-page speech with bullet holes in it from his coat pocket and declared, 'It takes more than that to kill a bull moose.'"

From "Everything you need to know about Tuesday's Republican debates."

I didn't even know there was already another Republican debate about to happen. After that, we'll have to wait a whole other month and 5 days before we get to see the guys and 1 woman all standing in the same place. We'll be seeing them every damned day, but we'll have to wait for another full array of lined-up lecterns.

Slate has hired a youngster with a lip ring to replace Emily Yoffe as its "Dear Prudence" advice columnist.

You want advice from a person who on first look you can tell could have used some better advice?!

Okay, on second look, here are 3 articles (listicles) by Mallory Ortberg:

1. "Dogs I Would Like To Own In Art, Even Though They Are Probably Dead Now."

2. "Every Southern Gothic Novel Ever" (a 17-point list, beginning with "The Red, Red Dirt Understands" and including "No One Listens To What Old Pap’s Got To Say, On Account Of This Deformity, But I Say It’s You All What Has The Deformity, In Your Souls, I Knows What I’ve Seen").

3. "Every Comment On Every Article About Bras Ever" (and they're pretty much all you're wearing the wrong size).

Remember the time Ben Carson separated the conjoined twins Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear?

Watch the clip.

"So I’ve got to tell you, a couple of days of being asked about something that you put in your books? I gotta tell you, I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy."

"He should answer the questions forthrightly and directly. If he does, the American people will accept it. If he doesn’t, then he’s got a problem.”

Chris Christie has got to tell Ben Carson.
"Did he watch what I went through in January of 2014 for months and months of relentless attacks from people in the media and in the partisan Democratic Party when it turned out that I did absolutely nothing wrong? I haven’t gotten a note of apology from anybody yet... I’ve got the scars all over my back to prove that a lot of people jumped to conclusions.... He’s got to be able to do and say what all of us are responsible for in this business, which is to be responsible for his own personal story...."

"Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘scare’ men?"

"I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable. Fuck that."

Wrote the actress Jennifer Lawrence, trying to analyze why she hasn't received what seems to be comparable pay with male stars. She seems to admit that she doesn't drive a hard bargain...
“I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early,” she wrote. “I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.”
... but she attributes her bad deal-making to the effect of the overall culture on women, the desire to be likable and not too demanding. You have to read through to the subtext here. Obviously, Jennifer Lawrence doesn't personally negotiate her deals. She's speaking as if she does to create pressure that her agents will use as they drive deals. Presumably, studios don't want the little people in the dark thinking of them as discriminating against women, and they may be willing to throw some money into that PR, even when they have the option of choosing another actress — a younger, prettier actress who'll do what you do and more and for even less, which is how you got your roles in the first place, remember?

AND: What about the invisible problem of male actors who never even get started because old, familiar actors keep getting the parts? 

"Imagine if I told you to give me your keys. And you can no longer drive, starting right now."

"I mean, what would you do? It's totally unrealistic that we think that that's an OK thing to do to older people."

"A Massachusetts barber was awarded $100,000 after a commission found he was wrongly fired — for being blind."

So begins a Daily News article about Joel Nixon, "The Blind Barber," who is legally blind, but not — at least not yet — entirely blind.
He lost his job at Tony's Barber Shop in 2012, after his boss Tony Morales noticed Nixon's condition. He had tripped over a customer's legs, and later tripped over a chair... Morales said Nixon wasn't fired because he was legally blind, but because he wasn't qualified. He said Nixon wasn't carrying his weight and was an unlicensed barber.
Elsewhere in the Daily News: Man Bites Dog.
David Etzel, 36, attacked his mother's shih tzu Cujo in April, after getting drunk and teasing the 10-pound pup....
I'm leaving out gory details. What kind of mother names her little dog Cujo?

"We will no longer participate in any football-related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences."

"On Sunday, MU football coach Gary Pinkel seemed to throw his entire team’s support behind the protests, tweeting a picture of his players along with the protest’s #ConcernedStudent1950 hashtag and the message: 'The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.' After meeting with the team this morning, it is clear they do not plan to return to practice until Jonathan resumes eating."

From a new article in The Washington Post titled "With $1 million at stake, U. of Missouri’s president now taking protests seriously."

For reference: here's the post from 2 days ago where we first talked about the hunger strike.

UPDATE, Monday morning: Wolfe resigns.

November 8, 2015

"John O’Connor was the sole first gentleman for over a dozen years. He and RBG’s husband Marty..."

"... used to joke that they were members of the Dennis Thatcher Society, which Marty described as one’s wife having 'a job which deep in your heart you wish you had.' Marty added, 'Now let me just say that in my case it is not true. Only because I really don’t like work. She works like fury all the time. The country’s better off as it is.'"

From "'Marty Was Always My Best Friend': Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Love Story," via Metafilter, which warns "Don't read this unless you're ready to sob like a baby."

Karl Rove's gratuitous and erroneous shot at Calvin Coolidge.

I don't know why this irks me so much. Something about an attack on an entirely undefended person. Something about propagating a factoid. Somehow it's my job to keep history straight and defend Calvin Coolidge.

It was "Fox News Sunday" this morning, and "GOP strategist" Karl Rove was asked whether Donald Trump's appearance on "Saturday Night Live" helped or hurt him. Rove says:
It helped. Everybody got their moment last night. He got to be marked by the Saturday Night Live crowd, and he got a chance to say he's a good sport and could take it in stride. I think we ought to go back and blame this, however, all on Calvin Coolidge, who was after all, the first president to appear on the White House lawn in an Indian headdress. And since then presidents have felt compelled to go out and occasionally mock themselves, and now presidential candidates have gotten in the habit of mocking themselves. It was, however, I have to say, not very funny.
There's laughter, and the moderator Chris Wallace says "Are you talking about Calvin Coolidge?" and Rove says, "No, I'm talking about last night."

Now, maybe some home viewers said: "The first president to appear on the White House lawn in an Indian headdress — were there others?" But I said: "That wasn't on the White House lawn! That was in South Dakota!"

Calvin Coolidge famously posed in a headdress:



This happened on June 23, 1927:
Coolidge, who was celebrated for signing the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, spent the summer of 1927 in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, working out of an office in Rapid City High School. When Sioux Chieftain Chauncey Yellow Robe, a descendant of Sitting Bull, learned the President would be there, he suggested he be adopted into the tribe. The Sioux County Pioneer, a weekly publication that came out every Thursday, reported that Yellow Robe... said: “The Indians are like anybody else, they are also anxious to see him come. Our population of more than 20,000 Sioux Indians, the first people of the Hills, will also open their hearts with most sincere and hearty welcome of President Coolidge to the land of the Dakotas and if the occasion should permit, President Coolidge will be adopted into the Sioux tribe. We hope he will find in these beautiful Pahasapas (Black Hills) rest, peace, quiet and friendship among us.”
Why, exactly, is it supposed to be funny for him to wear that headdress? In any case, this did not take place at the White House and it has nothing to do with present-day appearances in pop culture settings like "Saturday Night Live."

On the bike in the woods in the fall.



I didn't know Meade was over there photographing me.

"Donald Trump gives SNL its biggest ratings in years."

"According to NBC, SNL had a whopping 6.6 household rating on Saturday night..."
.. easily beating the season’s previous high: the 41st season premiere last month, hosted by Miley Cyrus and with a guest appearance by none other than … Hillary Clinton. In fact, Trump’s overnight rating was 47 percent higher than the Miley/Hillary episode.

Donald Trump questions the single belt buckle theory and the pyramid theory.

On "Meet the Press" this morning, Donald Trump was asked about Ben Carson:
Well, I feel badly for Ben. I've gotten to like Ben. And it's a tough thing. I mean, he writes a book where he went after his mother, hit her on the head, or wanted to hit her on the head with a hammer. Hitting a friend in the face with a lock, with a padlock, hard in the face, stabbing somebody, only to be broken up by a belt buckle. Which, if you know about belt buckles, they turn and they twist. I don't think they're going to stop a knife with the force of a strong man. And when he writes that he has pathological disease in a book, now he obviously wrote this book prior to thinking about running for office, I assume. But he said he has pathological disease.... Well, if you have pathological disease, that's a problem. I mean, he wrote it. I didn't write it. But he's going to have to explain a lot of things away. The scholarship situation, the dinner with Westmoreland when Westmoreland wasn't there. And the pyramids. You know, a pyramid is a solid structure, essentially. Other than a little area for the pharaoh. And you don't put grain in a pyramid because it's all solid.
He used the same material on "Face the Nation":
When you are talking about hitting your mother over the head with a hammer -- and I'm sure you never said that. And I never said that or thought that. And hitting a friend in the face with a lock, with a padlock, and stabbing somebody, and, you know, lots of -- and saying you have psycho -- when you have pathological disease, which he said. And now the whole thing comes out about West Point, where he was talking about scholarships at West Point. And, you know, I have been -- I know a lot about West Point. West Point doesn't do the scholarship thing. So, a lot of -- a lot of questions are being raised. And the pyramid situation is a little bit different, because, frankly, if you know anything about the pyramids, you know they are pretty solid structures. They don't have -- they didn't have steel, where they would span it and they would create a big vacuum underneath. Those are solid structures. So, you're talking about storing grain in the pyramids. Well, they have very little space. They have space for small rooms, where the pharaohs had their coffins and where the pharaohs were buried, essentially. So, a lot of -- a lot of things are going on. And I don't know. I just don't know what to think. I hope it -- I hope it works out fine for Ben. I just don't know what to think....
Pressed by the moderator to admit this material is "quite secondary":
Well, I think when you say that you stabbed someone, and was saved by a belt buckle -- and that's pretty unlikely, because a belt buckle will turn. You know, a belt buckle is not going to stop a knife. The belt buckle itself will turn. And when you say you hit your mother over the head with a hammer, or tried to, those are pretty -- and when you write in book that you have pathological disease, pathological disease is not cured. And, you know, you had dinner with Westmoreland -- now, I hear Westmoreland may not have been in the area where the dinner took place at that time, according to his schedule. So, I don't know about that. And maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong, but those are pretty tough charges. And they were written by him himself. The pathological stuff was written. That's very serious, pathological disease.