December 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

Greetings from Kansas.

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

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

Speaking of Kansas...

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

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

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

What is the NYT saying about Nebraska?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pushback the Night?

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

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

Reactions have consequences.

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

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

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

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

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

December 26, 2014

At the Last-Night-in-Austin Café...

... save me a place at the table.

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

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

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

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

At the Peacock Café...

... you don't have to preen.

The Bob Dylan Christmas quotation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 25, 2014

At the Too Many Pillows Café...

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

Fire dog lake.

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

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

... and from 1200 miles away...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas, alone and together.

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

December 24, 2014

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

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

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

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

Love is the answer.

A mural in Austin.

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

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

Tweets Elizabeth Warren.

Race and the V-neck sweater.

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 23, 2014

Christmas agave.

Seen today, in Austin.

"The World Is Not Falling Apart."

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

At the Christmas shopping café...

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

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

Says Mitch McConnell.

"It is a war on cops..."

Says Bernie Kerik.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 22, 2014

At the Tesla Café...

... plug in!

Goodbye to Joe Cocker.

He was 70.

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

It's his mattress too.

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

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

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

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

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

That's the way TPM puts it.

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

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

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

December 21, 2014

At the Blue Gray Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Said Al Sharpton.

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

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

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

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

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

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