October 10, 2015

"Father fears 800-pound son will die after hospital discharged him for ordering pizza."

Headline at The Washington Post.

The son had been in the hospital for 3 months, trying "to get his weight down to 550 pounds so he could have gastric bypass surgery," and in all that time he'd only lost 20 pounds. An 800-pound sedentary man needs 7,000 calories a day just to maintain that weight, so he must have been getting immense amounts of food, even without the ordered-in pizza.

The father said: “If he comes home and I do get him up the stairs somehow, some way he’s going to go right back to his eating habits.” How? Where does the food come from?

The son said:  “I don’t feel like I broke the rules... I was on a care plan and you could’ve implemented on that care plan that I had an addiction to ordering out food. You guys knew that from the get-go the moment I got admitted there.... Rhode Island hospital completely sickens me... You broke the rules, not me.”

How, exactly, does Bernie Sanders intend to run the country?

I don't know, but this article by Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker, "The Populist Prophet," made me think there's a certain distinctive style to his approach to getting things done:

1. One of the things he did after college was "a carpentry business with a few other guys in New York":
It was called Creative Carpentry, and [an old friend]  says that it was accurately named: “They advertised in the Village Voice, but didn’t know much about carpentry. They’d go to the hardware store to buy supplies, and ask the clerk how to do the repairs they’d been hired to do.”
2. When Sanders was in his 30s, he bought land in Vermont, and "sometimes camped out in the new property’s only shelter: a maple-sugar shack."
He had devised his own equivalent of Sterno, which his friends dubbed Berno. “It was a roll of toilet paper soaked in lighter fluid inside a coffee can,” [the old friend] said. “He’d cook over that.”

"A new survey says more than a third of vegetarians eat meat when they've had too much to drink."

"What's more, they're sneaky about it, with 69 percent saying they don't fess up...."

This isn't surprising. Drinking loosens inhibitions and reduces impulse control. Vegetarians eating meat when they've been drinking is in the same category as: 1. having sex with someone that the sober you would decline, 2. having one or two more drinks than the sober you was planning to drink, and 3. driving while drunk, something the sober you considers unacceptable (but is never put in the position of having to decide not to do).

"I am icy, certainly, but I am not uptight."

Writes Alana Massey, complaining about "the troubling ease with which men dismiss women as prudish if they are not immediately open and enthusiastic about sex."
It is cruel tool in a culture that was infiltrated by a certain brand of blasé sex positivity long before achieving true gender equality and, by extension, before we’ve decentralized men’s orgasms as the ultimate purpose of sex between a man and a woman.

We pathologize women’s entirely rational reactions of “nah” and “meh” to sex as the result of antiquated values. Often, these reactions are because sex might be perilous to a woman’s well-being – and often, if we’re honest, a physically substandard experience. This attitude wants sex to be a fundamental good so badly that it puts it in a vacuum, and ignores the snares that still surround it....
Why is it so hard to understand and say that bad sex is bad? 

"Wild animals have been able to coexist peacefully with students and faculty before, as evidenced by the fox family that moved in two years ago."

"Pidgeon said she hopes the same scenario can play out with the new turkeys."

Pidgeon = UW-Madison avian expert Anna Pidgeon.
She [said] the UW-Madison campus has aspects of an ideal turkey habitat as well. Urban areas with green space offer all the protection turkeys need, since natural predators are not as prevalent and trees provide a place to roost at night.

"Should We Bank Our Own Stool?"

The question everyone is asking.

"Can we blame the mother of Adam Lanza... Can we blame the mother of the Oregon shooter...?"

Asks Timothy Egan in the NYT.
What about the fathers? Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said the Oregon shooter’s father, divorced and absent for some time from his son, was “a failure” who “owes us all an apology.” Fathers certainly have an equal responsibility. But it’s the mothers, in most cases, who know the names of their children’s teachers, who understand their deepest fears, who have a unique relationship.
Hmm. The "unique relationship" the mother has is a consequence of the father's failure. If the point is to stop future harm, then all causal factors matter.

But Egan is doing gender politics and advocating for gun control. He's getting the NYT reader's attention by beginning with something transgressive. He dares to blame the woman. But then he drives a wedge, the wedge that men have driven through the ages: There are good women and bad women.
A group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, was formed after the Newtown carnage. It’s a good counter to the creepy cultists of the gun culture. Their best appeal is likely to be one of reason to the hearts of fellow mothers, rather than to heartless politicians at the legislative level.
The bad women consort with the dirty men, the "creepy cultists." The good women have "hearts" — they are the wholesome bulwarks of goodness.

When a man makes an appeal to the womanhood of women, to the motherhood of mothers — be a good woman, be a good mother — that is patriarchy speaking.

"Svetlana Alexievich, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature October 8, is a banned author in her homeland of Belarus..."

"Her books are neither published nor discussed in the media there...."
In 1995, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, told Russian NTV television : “The history of Germany is a copy of the history of Belarus. Germany was raised from the ruins thanks to firm authority, and not everything connected with that well-known figure, Adolf Hitler, was bad. German order evolved over the centuries and under Hitler it attained its peak.”...
This is the nemesis of the new Nobel Prize-winner in Literature....

"And sister, she got married on the island/and her husband takes the train/He's big and he's fat/and he doesn't even have a brain."

Sang Lou Reed in "Kill Your Sons."

Lou called his sister, who was living on Long Island with her husband, Harold, to warn her about the [new] album. “Bunny, I have to tell you something.”

“What did you do now?”

“This song’s coming out.” Lou recited the lyrics of “Kill Your Sons”...

“Are you serious?” asked Bunny. “You wipe out my lifestyle and my husband in four phrases?”

“Ah, I needed something to rhyme with train. So I had to take poetic license.”
From "Lou Reed Described Bob Dylan as a ‘Pretentious Kike’/The legendary musician is accused in a new book of racial slurs and abusing women."

"What I saw was a powerful demonstration of an impulse and need for African American men to come together to recognize each other and affirm our rightful place in the society."

"There was a profound sense that African American men were ready to make a commitment to bring about change in our communities and lives."

Said Barack Obama, 20 years ago, observing the Million Man March.

From a Washington Post article on the occasion of the 20th anniversary.

There's another rally this anniversary year, called by Louis Farrakhan, the central figure in the rally that took place 20 years ago. He's calling this one "Justice or Else." 

The Washington Post is cagey about the relevance of Farrakhan:
"All we’ve got to do is go back home and make our communities a decent and safe place to live,” Farrakhan said [20 years ago]. “And if we start dotting the black community with businesses, opening up factories, challenging ourselves to be better than we are, white folk, instead of driving by using the N-word, they’ll say: ‘Look. Look at them. Oh, my God — they’re marvelous.’ ”

It was the kind of message that some activists denounce these days as blaming the victims of the nation’s checkered racial history for their plight. But it also resonates with black Americans across the political spectrum, from Clarence Thomas — who has praised Farrakhan — to Obama. Not for a moment would they endorse Farrakhan’s separatism, or his anti-Jewish rhetoric, or the Nation of Islam’s dizzying cosmology. But for them and many others, his self-help message hits home.
So... "self-help," that's the good part, after you carve away everything you don't want attached to you. ("Dizzying cosmology"  — there's a useful phrase for the mealy-mouthed.)

But "Justice or Else" doesn't sound like the self-help of opening businesses and becoming "better than we are."

October 9, 2015

"Kids are like rookie literary critics, always on the hunt for sentimentality. The camera becomes a worrying signifier to them..."

"... that tells them that they are engaged in something that is good for them or Meaningful. They don’t want to be engaged in any activity that is worthy of being photographed."

John Dickerson applies himself assiduously to the task of analyzing why his children, once so unselfconsciously vulnerable to the camera's inspection, became impossible to photograph as they turned adolescent.

Interesting quote — isn't it? — the way he takes himself out of the vignette. The "worrying signifier" — the camera— is in the hand of a human being, the father. And the meaning of the camera isn't merely that they are doing something "Meaningful," but that the father sees meaning in what they are doing. When they were younger, they lacked the ability to think about the father's mind, and now that they have acquired the great power to imagine things from the perspective of another, they object. Is it that "they don’t want to be engaged in any activity that is worthy of being photographed" or that they demand control over what their now-conscious selves mean?

Looncup, the "smart" menstrual cup.

"Looncup is an old-fashioned silicone cup with a twist: It contains a sensor that collects information about the volume and color of your menstrual fluid and an antenna that sends that information to your smartphone, which alerts you when your cup is getting full...."
I am a woman of childbearing age who has never once wanted more information about the volume and color of my menstrual fluid. But maybe I’m missing something.... I am not so solipsistic that I believe that all women should share my personal concerns about the Looncup.... Maybe other women are far more fascinated by the volume and color of their menstrual fluid than I am....

Don Cheadle as Miles Davis.

"It’s just a brief clip, but Cheadle’s got Davis’ husky speaking voice down pat, and the trumpet lessons he took in preparation for the role seem to have paid off...."

Time to bring the avocado plant indoors.


That's 5 pits, planted 2 years ago, after 2 summers outdoors and lots of indoor time.

"As Arab Spring demonstrations overthrow governments across the Middle East, a group of children in Daraa, southern Syria, are arrested and allegedly tortured for scrawling graffiti on a school reading 'the people want to topple the regime.'"

The first frame — "It all starts with graffiti" — from "Syria's war: Everything you need to know about how we got here."

MEANWHILE: "A coalition of labor unions, businesses, lawyers and human rights activists won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011....”
Among the disappointments of what has become known as the Arab Spring — collapsed states in Libya, Syria and Yemen; the return of rule by a military strongman in Egypt; and the rise of the Islamic State in the sectarian caldron of Syria and Iraq — the relative success of Tunisia’s transition to democracy has been a wisp of hope.

No one is hurt, so enjoy the footbridge footage.

Near Lake Waikaremoana, on New Zealand's North Island, last month, a cable snaps and 4 hikers plunge 26 feet and into a river:

"When we get halfway across we hear a muffled sound and before having time to do anything I was thrown into the emptiness, accepting the likelihood I would die."

The new Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice: Rebecca Bradley.

Appointed today by Governor Scott Walker to replace Justice N. Patrick Crooks, who died last month. 

Bradley was already running for election to the seat Crooks had announced he would vacate at the end of his term next spring, and Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling criticized Walker for appointing someone who was a candidate:
"It is unprecedented for a Wisconsin governor of any party to appoint a declared judicial candidate to the Supreme Court this close to an election," said Shilling, D-La Crosse. "This power grab sets a terrible precedent and doesn’t pass the smell test.”
I guess the idea is that Walker could have appointed a place-keeper to finish the term and let the various declared candidates continue on a level playing field toward the spring election.

Would a Democratic governor have resisted giving a favored judicial candidate this boost? There have been many appointments to the Wisconsin Supreme Court of justices who gone on to compete in the next election. Shilling's point is that it's never been this close to the election. That's what's unprecedented and supposedly smelly.

Bradley is a 1996 graduate of Wisconsin Law School. I'm very happy to see our alumna ascend to the high court.

ADDED: The conservative David Blaska had recommended the place-keeper solution:
A dose of political reality: Scott Walker is underwater with Wisconsin voters right now, like it or not. Why put that onus on Judge Rebecca Bradley, who has announced her candidacy in next spring’s election? To the vacancy left by the late Justice Crooks appoint someone like Jim Troupis, now a conservative judge in Dane County, who — I’m guessing — would not seek election to the post. (Although he’d be good.)

The federal government just stopped serving pig products in federal prison — no more pork, ham, or bacon for 206,000 inmates.

You might instinctively cry: Must all go without because some have a religious scruple against eating pork?!

But the government says it's because a survey shows the prisoners don't like pork.
“Why keep pushing food that people don’t want to eat?” asked Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the prison bureau. “Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years"...

“I find it hard to believe that a survey would have found a majority of any population saying, ‘No thanks, I don’t want any bacon,'” said Dave Warner, a spokesman for the Washington-based trade association, which represents the nation’s hog farmers.... 
Warner said pork is healthy and economical.... "Not to throw beef under the bus, but we cost a lot less than beef.”
Why don't they just admit they're doing it to accommodate religion and it's easier to have one rule that works for everyone than to bother with the complexity of alternative meals for the minority who must avoid pig products?

Wolf Blitzer really wants Ben Carson to take a position on whether Barack Obama is a "real black president."

Blitzer didn't think up the term on his own. He had a tweet from Rupert Murdoch: "Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide?"

How did Carson do? Of course, he maintained his utterly unchangeable calm demeanor. Carson's answers included: 1. Murdoch is entitled to his opinion, 2. I don't want to talk about it, 3. It's just "semantics," 4. I don't like political correctness, 5. Obama is the president and he is black, and 6. Murdock was trying to say that a "real black President" would be someone who "really elevated the black community," and Obama hasn't done that.

#6 is the substantive answer, but it's carefully attributed to Murdock. Blitzer, for all his dogged re-questioning, failed to ask the substantive question. I think Blitzer was focused on trying to trap Carson into embracing the concept that of being a "real" black and denying Obama that status (which harkens back to the old "Is Obama black enough?" debate of the 2008 campaign).

Blitzer could have taken the inquiry in a more substantive direction and asked: Do you think that people voted for Obama because they were inspired by the idea of having a black President and that idea meant something important about what would happen as a result of having a black President, something that has not occurred? If yes, do you think that idea still has meaning and that the effect could occur if we had a different black President or do you think it was delusional and people should get beyond attributing meaning to the race of the President?

"At age 48, Frank [Fiorina] decided to retire to (gasp!) to support his wife's career as well as take care of his two daughters..."

"'...something that even her own father didn't quite understand at first."
"As [my father] got older and realized how important a role Frank played in my success — and my happiness, beyond that — he came to really appreciate him,' [Carly Fiorina] said.

Frank has donned several different hats while running his wife's team. While she was CEO of Hewlett-Packard and later when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Frank would sometimes serve as her personal bodyguard. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Frank received a permit to carry a concealed weapon in 2000.
More in this WaPo article from last May, a time Carly Fiorina "hardly registers in national polls." The reporter follows Frank around as he pushes a shopping cart through the aisles of Costco for 45 minutes and buys "[b]ottled water, toilet paper, paper towels, cashews, Goldfish and a toothbrush."

Key tag: single-earner household.

"Toddler's Head Reattached After Internal Decapitation."

"In a six-hour operation, surgeons used a fragment of one of Jaxon's ribs to graft the severed vertebrae together...  But the boy seems to be making a remarkable recovery, kicking a balloon, laughing and hugging his parents...."

$500 million later, the Obama administration gives up on the effort to train and equip rebel forces in Syria...

... in what the NYT calls "an acknowledgment that the beleaguered program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria."
Some of the American-trained Syrian fighters gave at least a quarter of their United States-provided equipment to the Qaeda affiliate in Syria.... More broadly, the program has suffered from a shortage of recruits willing to fight the Islamic State instead of the army of President Bashar al-Assad....

"I swear to you, I think she's totally beautiful and great," says Trump about the Hispanic lady who screams "I love you!"

It's important to establish that Hispanic people love him, but what Trump really wants to talk about is his nose. People Magazine totally screwed around with his nose.

"Don't you worry, boy. I'll get you out of here."

Goodbye to Moochie, Kevin Corcoran, who has died at the age of 66.

"He was the quintessential bratty kid brother or mischievous moppet..." His brother was almost always Tommy Kirk. Kirk lives on, at 73.

On the evening the same-sex marriage opinion was announced, Justice Scalia "suddenly got up onstage and sang" the Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-Changin."

According to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He opted to start swimmin’ lest he sink like a stone and to keep his eyes wide, the chance wouldn't come again, for the loser once had come around to win....

October 8, 2015

Making Cheney look like the kiss of death.

Near the top of Memeorandum right now:

"I always have food with me. It comforts me. In restaurants, when people order food — and they have menus — I hate that."

"Just give me something to eat. Quantity matters, not quality. In North Korea I thought a frozen potato was the fanciest food in the world.... I feel guilty... I never dreamed this life. I did not know this life was coming...."

"Hillary Clinton: I Totally Oppose The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement I Negotiated In 2012..."

"... even though 'In her 2014 memoir, Hillary Clinton listed the negotiation of TPP as one of her key accomplishments as Sec. of State.'  As Twitchy asks, 'Did TPP flip-flopper Hillary even READ her book before sending it to GOP candidates?'"

I have the book in my Kindle, so let me do a search:
So we worked hard to improve and ratify trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and encouraged Canada and the group of countries that became known as the Pacific Alliance— Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile— all open-market democracies driving toward a more prosperous future to join negotiations with Asian nations on TPP, the trans-Pacific trade agreement....

As President Obama explained, the goal of the TPP negotiations is to establish “a high standard, enforceable, meaningful trade agreement” that “is going to be incredibly powerful for American companies who, up until this point, have often been locked out of those markets.” It was also important for American workers, who would benefit from competing on a more level playing field.

And it was a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia. Our country has learned the hard way over the past several decades that globalization and the expansion of international trade brings costs as well as benefits. On the 2008 campaign trail, both then-Senator Obama and I had promised to pursue smarter, fairer trade agreements. Because TPP negotiations are still ongoing, it makes sense to reserve judgment until we can evaluate the final proposed agreement.

It’s safe to say that the TPP won’t be perfect— no deal negotiated among a dozen countries ever will be— but its higher standards, if implemented and enforced, should benefit American businesses and workers....
It "won’t be perfect," but perhaps the imperfections mounted after her involvement ended. I see a loophole she might be able to exploit.

"Having a prefabricated laugh at the expense of my own dear mother without provocation of cause is not my idea of gratitude for the interview..."

"... which took up 10 of more pages in your puerile smokescreen periodical masquerading as a songwriting litany! My mother is not a public figure to be satirized and ridiculed with silliness and malicious nonsense by some scurrilous little wretch with a hard-on for comedy!"

Wrote Bob Dylan in a letter — which he never sent — to Song Talk magazine.

"School District to Pay $600,000 Over Death of Teens Who Were Hypnotized by Principal."

As the lawyer for the 3 students who died put it: "you had someone who decided to perform medical services on kids without a license. He altered the underdeveloped brains of teenagers, and they all ended up dead because of it.”

The principal seems to have been trying to help students (and staff member) deal with various psychological problems through hypnosis and delivered his services to "at least 75 people at the school." The students died through suicide (in 2 cases, both by hanging) and a car accident (in which the young man reportedly had "a strange look on his face" before going off the interstate).

I can't figure out what the cause and effect was, but the school district chose to pay rather than to fight over it.

"If you think fetal-tissue research is wrong and should be banned, would you refuse to use any therapies that may come out of it?"

"I thought not. I’ve posed this question to abortion opponents before, but so far, no one has said, Yes, Katha, I would rather let Alzheimer’s turn my brain into cottage cheese and ketchup than benefit from this diabolical practice. If I get Parkinson’s, HIV, breast cancer, diabetes, or the flu; if I go blind from macular degeneration; if I have a miscarriage, so be it. Treatments for those conditions are still being developed, but surprise! If you have been vaccinated for polio, mumps, measles, chicken pox, hepatitis, or rabies, it may be too late for you to stand your ethical ground: You have already benefited from fetal-tissue research. This is, after all, a practice that’s been legal since the 1930s. In 1954, John Enders, Thomas Weller, and Frederick Robbins won the Nobel Prize for work on the polio virus that paved the way for the Salk and Sabin vaccines. They used fetal tissue, the monsters. Should their heirs return the medals?"

Writes Katha Pollitt in The Nation in a piece titled "Fetal-Tissue Bans Are All About Making Abortion Providers Look Like Monsters/Life-saving research is collateral damage in the war on Planned Parenthood."

"First rule of conceal carry is don't talk about conceal carry."

"I do the same. I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6."

"I don't care if they make a law that says death penalty for anyone caught with a gun. I WILL BE ARMED! My life is more import than any law, rule, policy or ban."

Presented for discussion. I'm not commenting on that one way or another. Those are comments at Facebook on this image:

ADDED: Meanwhile, in Texas:
Economics professor emeritus Daniel Hamermesh will withdraw from his position next fall, citing concerns with campus carry legislation. The law will allow the concealed carry of guns in campus buildings beginning Aug. 1, 2016. Hamermesh said he is not comfortable with the risk of having a student shoot at him in class. 
Does that make sense? It will still be against the law to shoot at him in class. I guess the argument is that the decision to carry a gun into class is more deliberate. You plan ahead, and might be more rational in making the decision whether to break any laws. But the decision to pull out your gun and shoot the professor is more impulsive and thus less susceptible to contemplation of the legal consequences. So the ban on carrying a gun was protecting Hamermesh in ways that the ban on shooting the professor does not.
“My guess is somebody thinking about coming to Texas is going to think twice about being a professor here,” Hamermesh said. “It’s going to make it more difficult for Texas to compete in the market for faculty.”
Spoken like an economics professor.

"There’s a particularly mean meme about presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson and his wife, Lacena, aka Candy, circulating around social media."

Writes Demetria Lucas D’Oyley at The Root:
In the meme, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are striking at the China state dinner Friday. President Obama is dressed in a well-tailored tuxedo, and the first lady has long, side-swept hair and an off-the-shoulder, custom-made Vera Wang gown. The contrasting picture of the Carsons was taken in May, on the day Carson officially announced his candidacy for president in Detroit. He is dressed in an unremarkable but still presentable blue suit. It’s Candy Carson’s appearance that makes the meme funny to some (but not me). She is wearing a hairstyle and patriotic ensemble that is unflattering, ill-fitting and dated. The meme caption is a play on a popular DirecTV commercial that clowns its cable competitors for being subpar...

[The un-P.C. part of my mind is] mature enough not to laugh at Candy Carson’s expense, but it’s still asking why she came out of the house looking like that when her man is announcing his presidential bid...

"Sharafat Khan, the co-owner of a million-dollar mansion in suburban Houston, has spent the past 6 months living on his front lawn after his wife kicked him out the house."

And the WaPo has written an article about him, replete with photographs.
“He’s wearing the same clothing, it’s dirty,” neighbor Debbie Scoggins told NBC TV affiliate KPRC. “He has no bathroom facilities, no shoes.”...

“They’re married so it’s community property,” Detective Tim Dohr of the Lakeview Police Department, which oversees policing in the neighborhood, told the Chronicle. “One has just as much right as the other to be there. We can’t make him leave, which is her wish, and we can’t really force her to do anything with regard to him.”...

While Khan lives outside, with no access to food, his wife, a physician, has placed a sign on the front door asking people not to feed her husband....
According to the son, "My dad has abused my mom, emotionally as well as physically." Obviously, the living on the lawn is a form of emotional abuse. “We are ashamed that my father has caused all this problem and hate toward my mom.”

Sharafat says he wants his wife “to realize whatever she is doing she’s doing bad. People will know, the neighbors and everything else. People will ask her, put her down. Let her know what you’re doing to your husband.”

I'd lean toward the wife, but she has the power to seek a divorce and to divide that property. She's not taking that step, supposedly because of "religious reasons."

Why did CNN cut the length of the Democratic candidates' debate from 3 hours to 2 hours?

No reason is given.

Meade speculates: "Bernie and Hillary are too old to stand for 3 hours."

Me: "We can't sit through 3 hours."

From my 36-point live-blog of the 3-hour GOP debate:
26. How long is this darned thing? I thought 2 hours. Then I thought 2 and a half. Now, I'm thinking it's going to go on for 3 hours. This is madness!...

35. After the debate, in an interview, Trump says what he learned is that he can stand for 3 hours. Yeah, that was a severe challenge — having to stand there for 3 hours. It was hard enough to sit through!
And the woman has to do the standing in heels, as HuffPo pointed out after the 3-hour GOP debate:
"I watched eagerly when Carly Fiorina first walked on stage to see how high her heels were," said our very own Arianna Huffington. "I immediately recognized the heels she was wearing, as I have the same Manolo Blahnik pumps in black. They're high -- 3 1/2 inches! I personally wear them when I know I'm sitting down! I love them and completely understand why she chose them, in terms of style. But, as the debate dragged on, I wondered how uncomfortable she must have been, especially since she didn't just have to stand there looking elegant but being alert and firing on all cylinders...."

But the height of the heel aside, it reminds us of what was once said about actor/dancer Fred Astaire and his legendary dance partner: "Sure he was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards ... and in high heels!"
Who originated that Ginger Rogers line? Ann Richards? No. Frank and Ernest:

Cass Sunstein purports to explain "How the Gun Lobby Rewrote the Second Amendment."

I know the author of a column probably doesn't write his own headline, but there's nothing in this column that explains how the gun lobby rewrote the Second Amendment. Sunstein explains how people in the law field long relied, without studying the question in depth, on an assumption about the meaning of the amendment. To do the deep study and to arrive at a different opinion of the meaning of a text is not to rewrite it.

Sunstein's column is loaded with filler that has nothing to do with how the gun lobby supposedly rewrote the amendment: the recent shootings in Oregon, a Ben Carson statement in support of gun rights, the recency of the Supreme Court's discovery of an individual right in the Second Amendment, an old statement in an interview by Chief Justice Warren Burger of his understanding that the Second Amendment contains no individual right to bear arms, old case law that failed to perceive an individual right.

In the 11th and 12th paragraphs of the 15-paragraph column, Sunstein presents the fact that the National Rifle Association spent money expressing its belief in the individual right, that expression "resonated with the public," and that public opinion is "used strategically by politicians seeking votes." Yes, we live in a culture, and we vote in a democracy, and voters respond to arguments they hear and feel persuaded by, but how does that mean that one set of voices rewrites a clause in the Constitution?

Here we are, then, it's Paragraph 13. I want the answer my question. What do we get? Sunstein admits that there is no rewriting!
An important qualification: The text of the Second Amendment is ambiguous, and it could indeed be read in favor of an individual right; historians continue to debate the question. And because the individual right to own guns has long been a central part of American culture, if not its jurisprudence, federal judges might well hesitate before entirely denying that right.
The introductory phrase "An important qualification" is a rhetorical trick to make us feel the author has already made the basic point and this is a minor concession for the sake of scrupulous accuracy. But the basic point has not been made and the concession is really all there is: It's a difficult question of interpretation, and when serious scholars did the hard work, many of them perceived a right, a right in the original text. These people were not "rewriting" the Second Amendment, and they certainly were not accepting a rewrite delivered by a political lobby.

Ironically, Sunstein, writing in a newspaper, attempting to influence public opinion, is more of a lobbyist than the scholars he'd diminish as manipulated by lobbyists. 

As for judges, of course they should hesitate before denying a constitutional right! Whatever is happening in the political arena, judges should always look carefully at claims of right, as I am sure Sunstein and fellow anti-gun rights law professors will say about non-Second Amendment rights.

Paragraph 13 is the shocking "never mind," and the column peters out in the final 2 paragraphs, ending with the assertion that gun rights "have a lot more to do with interest-group politics" than with what the Constitution really means, which is certainly a true statement about Sunstein's column.

"MOOCs may soon become a prominent factor in admissions decisions at selective colleges..."

"... a way for students who may not do well on traditional measures like the SAT to prove they can hack it."
That’s the argument by officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which on Wednesday announced a plan to create what it calls an "inverted admissions" process, starting with a pilot project within a master’s program in supply-chain management.

... Students who come to the program after first taking the MOOCs will then essentially place out of the first half of the coursework, so they can finish the degree in a semester rather than an academic year. That effectively makes the master’s program half the usual price.
ADDED: With so much hanging on success in the MOOCs, how will MIT deal with cheating? Here's an article from last month in the MIT News: "Study identifies new cheating method in MOOCs/Research from MIT and Harvard shows how to exploit and protect MOOC certification":
In this [new] method of cheating, a user creates multiple accounts, one of which is the primary account that will ultimately earn a certificate. The other accounts are used to find or “harvest” the correct answers to assessment questions for the master account.

"After jokingly referring to himself as the Fat Forrest Gump, he was asked about his use of the word 'fat.'"

"People need to get over it... I’m fat and I’m calling myself fat. People are too worried about offending everybody. That’s what’s wrong with this country.”

Said Eric Hites, the "Fat Guy Across America," who's arrived in New York City and has a big NYT article about him.

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded for "her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time"...

... to Svetlana Alexievich, of Belarus.
In an interview posted on the press’s website, Ms. Alexievich said her technique of blending journalism and literature was inspired by the Russian tradition of oral storytelling. “I decided to collect the voices from the street, the material lying about around me,” she said. “Each person offers a text of his or her own.”

“By means of her extraordinary method — a carefully composed collage of human voices — Alexievich deepens our comprehension of an entire era,” the academy said.
ADDED: What's really interesting here is that the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded for writing  nonfiction, though it's not purely nonfiction. It's a "mix of nonfiction and fiction."

I want to know which purely nonfiction writers have won!
While the Nobel committee has occasionally awarded the prize to nonfiction writers, including Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill, it has been decades since a journalist or historian has won. Some prominent writers, among them the New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch, have called for the Nobel judges to recognize nonfiction as a worthy art form.

October 7, 2015

The idea that Biden shouldn't run because he won't be able to answer the question "Why are you running?"

I think that's the point of this Slate article "Joe Biden’s Big Question/Why are you running?" by John Dickerson. Key paragraph:
But if Joe Biden runs, it will be a character campaign against Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean there won’t be specifics discussed about wages and health care and the U.S. role overseas. But at its heart what will have gotten Biden in the race and what will animate it will be character—both his own and the perception that Clinton’s isn’t strong.
And he can't come out and say that — right? — so when he's asked the inevitable question he'll have to use that story about his son's dying wish. But that's not a reason why we should vote for him. And Beau didn't tell him to get out there and destroy Hillary, but only to go ahead and pursue your decades-long dream. And that's not a reason that explains why we should vote for him — because he's always wanted it and his son, who died, backed him up. It has to be that Hillary's no good, and that will have to be his message, the message he won't be able to come out and openly admit. That's what I get from Dickerson's piece, which I read as pressuring Biden not to run.

And yet, I don't think it's obvious that Biden can't put together a campaign that's basically anti-Hillary but manages to keep a veneer of positivity constructed out of the death of Beau.

"How John Boehner could stay Speaker."

His resignation is contingent on the election of a new Speaker, so he stays until somebody wins a majority vote in the House.

"The decidedly not-safe-for-work image, which cannot be reproduced here, can be easily found through a search engine."

Sentence in a NYT article about the sale at auction of a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph for $478,000. The photo, "Man in Polyester Suit," was part of an exhibition for which Mapplethorpe was criminally prosecuted in 1990.

Charles P. Pierce re Bobby Jindal: "Please Punch This Man in the Dick."

Sexualized violence... it's funny because...? Exactly why is it funny to you Charles?

Multiple answers permitted: Pierce thinks this sexualized violence is funny because...
pollcode.com free polls

"It's absurd to say [Ben Carson is] 'blaming the victims.'"

"He's either right or wrong about what a victim should do in such a situation. That depends only on whether his strategy would actually be effective, not whether he's 'blaming the victims.'"

The blaming-the-victims concept has grown ridiculously beyond its proper place.

We need to stand up and not be victims of the fear of being accused of blaming the victims. It's one thing to be sympathetic to people who have been victimized and not to confront these individuals with our hindsight-assisted advice about what they could have done to avoid injury. It's quite another to stifle creative thinking about what we can do in emergencies that might arise in the future.

What's so stupid about the Politico piece titled "Clinton gag gifts her GOP rivals with copies of her memoir."

1. You're obviously trying to help Hillary with her effort to come across as "fun," but you have absolutely nothing to report. Candidates have books, and they're always trying to get these books out. It's the essence of nonnews.

2. Hillary sends out a lot of copies of a book about herself. What is the "gag"? Why are you saying "gag"... other than to make it more obvious that you're propagating the message that Hillary is such a fun, fun lady.

3. "Gag" is not a good word to use when talking about the woman whose husband got the most famous blow job in the history of the world.

Anyway... the word "gag" does not appear in Hillary's "Hard Choices," but the memoir does contain some discussion of jokes. She writes:
In politics a sense of humor is essential. There are countless reasons why you have to be able to laugh at yourself.... In diplomacy, with its carefully scripted conversations across language and cultural divides, there’s less room for humor. But occasionally it comes in handy. This felt like one of those times.

In a speech at the Munich Security Conference in February, Vice President Biden had said, “It is time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia.” I liked the idea of a “reset”... Why not present [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey]Lavrov with an actual reset button? It might get people laughing— including Lavrov— and ensure that our commitment to a fresh start, not our disagreements, made the headlines. A little unconventional, maybe, but worth a try. Lavrov and I met in the InterContinental Hotel’s Salon Panorama, named for its panoramic view of Geneva. Before we sat down, I presented him with a small green box, complete with a ribbon. While the cameras snapped away, I opened it and pulled out a bright red button on a yellow base that had been pulled off the whirlpool in the hotel.
She vandalized the hotel for that button?! Wow. Reminds me of the wreckage in the White House at the end of the Bill Clinton administration, when staffers pried the "W"s off the computer keyboards to spite George W. Bush.

"Why do so many people think he’s good? Have you looked at his paintings?"

"In real life, trees are beautiful. If you take Renoir’s word for it, you’d think trees are just a collection of green squiggles."
Renoir is considered a good painter because his work is featured in museums, [Max] Geller added. But upon further inspections of his paintings, that line of argument “seems pretty fallacious”....

The Renoir Sucks at Painting... Instagram account... has even received the wrath of Genevieve Renoir, who says she is the painter’s great-great-granddaughter.

On one photo, Genevieve commented: “When your great-great-grandfather paints anything worth $78.1m dollars … then you can criticize. In the meantime, it is safe to say that the free market has spoken and Renoir did not suck at painting.”

Geller, who turned her comment into its own post on the account, said: “I think that is one of the most absurd and insane arguments for anything, the idea that we should let the free market dictate quality.”
Ms. Renoir's argument — staunchly opposed by Geller — bears an intriguing similarity the old free-speech argument that Oliver Wendell Holmes made back in 1919: "[T]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market."

Would you call that — using Geller's words — "most absurd and insane argument for anything, the idea that we should let the free market dictate quality."

Another Frank Lloyd Wright house is discovered in Madison.

The house is right there where we've always seen it, on West Lawn Avenue, but it's just been figured out that it is "the 16th known example of the American System-Built House, a short-lived venture by Wright meant to provide affordable housing through predesigned homes built with factory-cut materials."
A full-page ad for American System-Built homes that Hamilton finally tracked down in the March 25, 1917, edition of the State Journal was the “missing link.”...

“Less cost – that is one amazing feature of the American System, that these beautiful homes, all Frank Lloyd Wright designs, of guaranteed materials and price, can be built for less money than the ordinary house of similar size and materials,” the ad stated.

"This shows that in China now we’ll try almost anything that we see on the Internet."

"Nobody knows what it means, but we do it anyway."
When the trend started a few months ago, it was usually just a humble bean sprout clipped to the hair and erect like a little green flagpole.... Now heads are bristling with clover, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, lavender, mushrooms, chilies, cherries, gourds and pine trees....

The most common explanation on the streets was that the floral fascinators just looked cute — “meng meng da,” in a cloying term made popular on the Internet.
IN THE COMMENTS: MadisonMan said: "Should I wear my deely-boppers in a show of support -- while playing with my klick-klacks?"

Oh, yeah, deely-boppers... That name always bothered me. I think of Dealey Plaza. But what were klick-klacks? Hmmm...

October 6, 2015

"Okay, I'm not here to embolden anyone," says Chrissie Hynde, encouraged by the NPR interviewer to think of "Brass In Pocket" as "emboldening" women.

"I don't understand why there's — You know what, I don't care what a lot of people want. You know? I'd rather say, just don't buy the f****** book, then, if I've offended someone. Don't listen to my records. Cause I'm only telling you my story, I'm not here trying to advise anyone or tell anyone what to do or tell anyone what to think, and I'm not here as a spokesperson for anyone. I'm just telling my story. So the fact that I've been — you know, it's almost like a lynch mob."

If Biden enters the race, Hillary is ready to try to crush him.

"According to the source, the [oppo] research has turned up material on Biden’s ties to Wall Street; his reluctance to support the raid that killed Osma bin Laden; and his role in the Anita Hill saga as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee."

Is that supposed to scare him off?

"This killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns."

"Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He’s a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here."

Wrote Bobby Jindal in a post titled "We fill Our Culture With Garbage, And We Reap The Result," which I read because Talking Points Memo was trashing it. Josh Marshall said: "Bobby Jindal appears to be a seriously disturbed, morally degenerate individual."

"Dressing for being burned at the stake is never a good look."

A perfect comment, here.

ADDED: Leelee Sobieski actually played the part of Joan of Arc in a movie a while back. You can see what she wore to the burning at the stake here.

AND: The Leelee Sobieski "Joan of Arc" came out in 1999, but there are numerous movies about Joan of Arc. Many have seen the great 1928 film "The Passion of Joan of Arc," directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, but that movie is the 8th on the list of movies about Joan of Arc. Second on the list is this 1899 short film "Jeanne d'Arc," directed by George Méliès, one of the first color films. Watch it:

"I think she was a bit of a hero," said Rihanna about Rachel Dolezal...

"... because she kind of flipped on society a little bit. Is it such a horrible thing that she pretended to be black? Black is a great thing, and I think she legit changed people’s perspective a bit and woke people up.”

IN THE COMMENTS: Marty Keller said: "Name one."

For some reason that caused this song to play in my head: "You're only pretty as you feel/Only pretty as you feel inside..."

"Holding homemade signs reading 'God Hates Renoir' and 'Treacle Harms Society,' the protesters... chanted: 'Put some fingers on those hands! Give us work by Paul Gauguin!'..."

"... and 'Other art is worth your while! Renoir paints a steaming pile!'... The [Museum of Fine Arts] hasn’t commented on the fledgling movement..."

I'm glad finally somebody cares enough to do something about this longstanding travesty. Catch up with Max Geller's Renoir Sucks at Painting, which has entries like this:

ADDED: This post made me click my "Renoir" tag, and that got me to a quote from "Lady Chatterley's Lover": "Renoir said he painted his pictures with his penis... he did too, lovely pictures! I wish I did something with mine."

Hillary Clinton's new ad — exploiting Kevin McCarthy's deeply damaging line about Benghazi.

"The 30-second spot is the first one that the campaign is running nationally on cable television, underscoring the political gold mine that Clinton's team senses in McCarthy’s comments."

"This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit."

Well played, Jerry Brown! (Via Jaltcoh.)

"This propaganda photo of a homemade Oreo cheesecake alongside a rifle and a grenade was posted to Twitter by a female jihadist from the Netherlands..."

"... in an effort to persuade other potential recruits that life is fun under the Islamic State."

Caption to a photograph...

... at a WaPo article titled "Life in the 'Islamic State': Women/‘Till martyrdom do us part.’"
In Islamic State propaganda, life for women in the self-declared caliphate is filled with love, children and the joys of domestic life, such as an Oreo dessert. But the reality is often far more harsh for women who have moved there from the Arab world, Europe or the United States, according to specialists who monitor Islamic State social media postings.
Quite aside from the reality, the dessert looks like hell. And it's out of focus. This is the propaganda? Do a Google image search on "Oreo cheesecake" and you'll immediately see a thousand better-looking Oreo cheesecakes. I'm skeptical of the idea that new recruits are fooled by the propaganda.

"The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would disclose after-the-fact changes to its opinions..."

"... a common practice that had garnered little attention until a law professor at Harvard wrote about it last year...."
Starting this term, a court statement said, “post-release edits to slip opinions on the court’s website will be highlighted and the date they occur will be noted.”
The Court is also banning "line-standers," another topic of criticism from a Harvard professor:
Michael J. Sandel, a political philosopher at Harvard, said... “Allowing line-standing companies and scalpers to sell seats in the Supreme Court is yet another instance of letting money dominate democracy... It’s at odds with equal access and undermines the dignity of the court.”

Eradicating river blindness.

I'm reading about William C. Campbell, "a master's and doctoral graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, [who] was awarded a share of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine."
River blindness... has been nearly eradicated thanks to Campbell's discoveries and the work of the Carter Center, which, working with the drug manufacturer Merck, has distributed more than 225 million free doses of the drug....

Remember "hipster racism"?

"Hipster racism, is engaging in behaviors traditionally regarded as racist and defending them as being performed ironically or satirically." It was one of "The 10 biggest race and pop culture trends of 2006."

Yeah, well, if you remember it, you'd better forget it, because it's 2015, and it could ruin your whole life.

"In Paul Theroux’s new book, 'Deep South,' the superficial stereotypes pile up at once."

"In the first scene, it’s a 'hot Sunday morning' in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and there’s mention of snake-handling and talking in tongues, poverty, holy-roller churches, a black barbershop, gun shows, college football, the requisite Faulkner quote ('The past is not dead . . . ') and even a sassy black lady ('You lost, baby?'). So far, I haven’t left the first page."

Jack Hitt hits the rueful Theroux.

That's all very interesting, but I'm just going to say a couple things about that Faulkner quote, which, Hitt slightly misses, putting "not" where the dramatic and time-related word "never" belongs: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
This line is often paraphrased, as it was by then-Senator Barack Obama in his speech "A More Perfect Union."  In 2012, Faulkner Literary Rights LLC filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Sony Pictures Classics over a scene in the film Midnight in Paris, in which a time-traveling character says, "The past is not dead! Actually, it's not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. And I met him, too. I ran into him at a dinner party." In 2013, the judge dismissed Faulkner Literary Rights LLC's claim, ruling that the use of the quote in the film was de minimis and constituted "fair use." 
Obama's paraphrase was: "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past."

The NYT looks at "Why Marco Rubio’s Chances Are Rising."

Nate Cohn writes:
A lot has changed since April, when Marco Rubio announced his presidential bid. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was the top candidate of mainstream conservative activists and donors. Jeb Bush seemed like a fund-raising juggernaut with natural appeal to the party’s moderate voters, who play an underrated role in the Republican primary process. Mr. Rubio, a broadly appealing candidate but the top choice of few, looked boxed out.

Today, Mr. Rubio isn’t blocked. Instead, he has a big opening....
I said it back on June 10th:

I originally embedded that clip in a post titled "The get-Rubio movement" — which called out the NYT:
We're seeing evidence of this movement this week with the NYT article "Marco Rubio’s Career Bedeviled by Financial Struggles" and last week's "Marco Rubio and His Wife Cited 17 Times for Traffic Infractions." These are ludicrously weak attacks. Rubio bought an $80,000 fishing boat (which the NYT called a "luxury speedboat") after he received an $800,000 and he chose to lease an Audi (a "luxury item") when he needed a car in 2015. And he's gotten 4 traffic tickets in 18 years. The main thing we learn from all that is that the NYT really wants to get him.

Let me take you back to May 22, when the NYT had a piece titled: "A Hillary Clinton Match-Up With Marco Rubio Is a Scary Thought for Democrats."...
So view the new article in that context.

IBM gets me to embed its ad for IBM Watson.

I'm happy and thoroughly enthusiastic about propagating this:

Most viral video I've ever encountered on the internet. I'm susceptible to the virality of Bob Dylan, who does a subtle, lovely acting job. And I'm enjoying the closeup photography of his wrinkly face.

And let me give Apple equal time, and not because I've always been an Apple and not an IBM person. The Dylan ad reminds me — because of the nicely photographed closeup face and the pleasing music — of an ad that played during last night's football game:

"Indeed, it seems to me that the more Christian a country is, the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral."

"Abolition has taken its firmest hold in post-Christian Europe and has least support in the church-going United States. I attribute that to the fact that for the believing Christian, death is no big deal.... The post-Freudian secularist... is most inclined to think that people are what their history and circumstances have made them, and there is little sense in assigning blame.... You want to have a fair death penalty? You kill; you die. That's fair. You wouldn't have any of these problems about, you know, you kill a white person, you kill a black person. You want to make it fair? You kill; you die.... In my view... the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty.... I am happy to have reached that conclusion [that the death penalty is not immoral] because I like my job and would rather not resign."

Said Justice Scalia, back in 2002. The part I've boldfaced was quoted in Slate yesterday, which links to the longer quote at (of all places) the World Socialist Web Site. The WSWS calls Scalia's statement "reactionary drivel." The Slate article, by Dahlia Lithwick is: "Pope Francis’ Message Isn’t Echoed at Red Mass/A reminder that the only faith that should matter at the Supreme Court is faith in the Constitution."

Lithwick speculates about why Justice Scalia did not show up for the Pope's lecture to Congress. That is... she doesn't speculate.... she only observes that "there was some inevitable speculation" that Scalia stayed away because he didn't want to have to be seen hearing the Pope call for the abolition of the death penalty.

But nothing in that Scalia quote is an objection to the abolition of the death penalty! I hope you can already see why, and I hate be to so pedantic as to spell out something so obvious, but Lithwick seems not to get it. She's probably only pretending not to get it, but it's significant that she doesn't mind posing publicly in the position of someone who doesn't get it.

Scalia is talking about how he can continue to be a judge when he's forced to decide death penalty cases and must decide them according to the Constitution, which, in his view, cannot be interpreted to ban the death penalty. As a judge, he's bound by the limitations of judging, which preclude importing his religion into the analysis, and at some point, his religion might require him to resign from the Court. He's explaining why he does not need to resign. There's utterly no reason to interpret that to mean he'd object if Congress or any state legislature were to pass a statute abolishing the death penalty.

There's more detail in this earlier post, from 2005, which quotes another speech of Scalia's in which he explained the difficulty which "need not be faced by proponents of the living Constitution who believe that it means what it ought to mean. If the death penalty is immoral, then it is surely unconstitutional, and one can continue to sit while nullifying the death penalty. You can see why the living Constitution has such attraction for us judges."

"Death is no big deal" wasn't a statement of callousness toward the convicted murderers our government executes. It's an observation about the mindset of societies that choose to keep the death penalty as part of their statutory law, the law that judges can only invalidate if it is unconstitutional.

October 5, 2015

The Erratic Mound.

A feature of the Seminole mountain biking trail... demonstrated by Meade...

I was in there for the first time yesterday. I ride the trail marked "easy," but this is the intermediate trail, which I rode in part, stopping to walk through all the most interesting obstacles, like this one, which is called, I'm told, "The Erratic Mound."

AND: There's a bypass to The Erratic Mound, for more timid bikers, though I'm even too timid for this, demonstrated, again, by Meade.

And here are some pictures of the volunteers who worked on the trail last week including (including Meade). The machine — and I don't mean Meade — is called a "mini-excavator." That's not Meade operating the machine, but Meade is in 2 of the photographs. 


I feel like I'd be falling for a hoax if I believed this happened.

Bill Clinton, caught hoping Hillary will not become President.

From a New Yorker article titled "The Man Who Wouldn’t Sit Down/How Univision’s Jorge Ramos earns his viewers’ trust," which is mainly about that reporter who spoke out of turn at a Donald Trump press conference. Toward the end of the article, there's some discussion about the time Donald Trump's "scolded Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish"...
... to wit, “I like Jeb. He’s a nice man. But he should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.” [Ramos's co-anchor María Elena] Salinas will report this item straight, near the end of the show, and Univision researchers have thrown together, on very short notice, a remarkable segment of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Marco Rubio all speaking Spanish, some more fluently than others. Bill Clinton says, in English, “I hope I’ll be the last non-Spanish-speaking President.”
There may be a usable clip somewhere with Hillary Clinton saying Spanish words. What English speaker can't read Spanish from a written script? But Hillary Clinton doesn't speak Spanish. According to the NYT, Hillary is monolingual and "No Habla Español" (she couldn't repeat the chanted phrase "Si se puede"). 

Obama bombed a hospital.

Where is the outrage?

ADDED: At the link, which goes to my son John's Facebook page, I said: "Imagine if Bush had done this." And John said: "We don't have to imagine..." and linked to a NYT article from 2008: "Evidence Points to Civilian Toll in Afghan Raid."

From Amy Davidson at The New Yorker: "Five Questions About the Bombing of a Hospital in Kunduz":
What did the Afghan forces want us to bomb? This is the fundamental issue: Was the hospital the target, or was the target something or someone “in the vicinity”?...
Why didn’t the bombing stop? It went on for an hour, in multiple waves, although [Doctors Without Borders, which runs the hospital] has said that it immediately called contacts in Afghanistan, Washington, D.C., and wherever else it could think of—it is used to operating in war zones, and has the phone numbers for calls like that—to try to get the attack stopped. Who was on the other end of the line? Did those interlocutors make further calls, to Afghans or Americans? General Campbell, asked by reporters if the Pentagon knew about the calls, said that it was a question for investigators. But, in this instance, the matter of communications gets to questions larger than logistics, such as... Do we understand our allies’ motives and priorities in Afghanistan?
ALSO: My phrase "Where is the outrage?" sounds like a stock phrase with a particular reference point, but what? Meade says it's from the 1996 presidential campaign. Bob Dole said it:
Sounding like a crusader, Bob Dole implored his audiences today to ''rise up'' against the nation's news organizations, which he said were protecting the Clinton Administration, and be outraged that President Clinton had, in Mr. Dole's words, violated the public trust....

Listing a string of questionable practices by the Administration, including accepting what he called laundered cash from foreigners and obtaining confidential F.B.I. files, Mr. Dole demanded repeatedly in Houston earlier in the day, ''Where is the outrage?''

Appearing at downtown performing arts center, where he stood before a giant mural depicting the glory days of the Lone Star State, Mr. Dole continued: ''Can you imagine former President Bush doing one of those things? No! And you never imagine Bob Dole doing one of those things either. So where's the outrage? Where's the outrage? When will the voters start to focus?''

The headline at The NYT is "Mother of Oregon Gunman Wrote of Keeping Firearms," but I think that's the 3rd most interesting revelation...

... in the article.

First is the additional reason to think that the now-dead murderer was autistic:
Laurel Margaret Harper... acknowledged having expertise in dealing with autism, saying that both she and her son — whom she never identified by name — had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder... She... said she had “dealt with it on a daily basis for years and years”... “He’s no babbling idiot nor is his life worthless,” Ms. Harper wrote. “He’s very intelligent and is working on a career in filmmaking. My 18 years worth of experience with and knowledge about Asperger’s syndrome is paying off.”
2 days ago, here, I raised my suspicion that the young man was autistic.

Second is the fact that this woman, who advocated reading to an autistic child, for some reason choose as the appropriate reading material, Donald Trump's "Art of the Deal":
“Fact: Before my son was even born, I was reading out loud to him from Donald Trump’s ‘The Art of the Deal,’” she wrote. “And as for the ‘gesture effect,’ I was practically a mime. And now my son invests in the stock market along with me, turns a profit and is working on a degree in finance. His language and reading skills are phenomenal. I tell you this because it’s not too late for you to start helping your daughter.”

"Make Someone Happy."

Alternate versions: 1. Doris Day, 2. Jimmy Durante, 3. Audra MacDonald, 4. Perry Como, 5. Barbra Streisand.

"Health Benefits of Tea? Here’s What the Evidence Says."

I'm linking to this (in the NYT) because I love the illustration.

Meade said: "I hope it doesn't give people seizures."

IN THE COMMENTS:  Adam said:
That illustration is of the world's most famous teapot!
Wow! That blew my mind. The link goes to "Utah Teapot":
The Utah teapot or Newell teapot is a 3D computer model that has become a standard reference object (and something of an in-joke) in the computer graphics community. It is a mathematical model of an ordinary teapot of fairly simple shape, that appears solid, cylindrical and partially convex. A teapot primitive is considered the equivalent of a "hello, world" program, as a way to create an easy 3D scene with a somewhat complex model acting as a basic geometry reference for scene and light setup. Many programming libraries even have functions dedicated to drawing teapots.
On clicking the link, Meade — who used to make teapots — said: "That's an ugly teapot." Then: "The 'actual Melitta teapot' is actually pretty good. It's a good form."

"Religious rituals don’t need any practical justification for the believers who perform them voluntarily."

"But many recyclers want more than just the freedom to practice their religion. They want to make these rituals mandatory for everyone else, too, with stiff fines for sinners who don’t sort properly. Seattle has become so aggressive that the city is being sued by residents who maintain that the inspectors rooting through their trash are violating their constitutional right to privacy."

Writes John Tierney in "The Reign of Recycling," explaining why we should favor the age-old practice of simply burying garbage. That's at The NYT. Tierney is also writing about this at Instapundit, where he says:
I realize that true believers don’t need rational reasons for their religion, but it would be nice to see a little soul-searching in regard to some stats in the article: To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger’s round-trip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles, assuming you fly coach. If you sit in the front of the plane, it’s more like 100,000 bottles — and you have to make sure not to rinse any of them with hot water, because that little extra energy could more than cancel out any greenhouse benefit of your labors....
The boldface is mine. Why doesn't everyone who wants carbon dioxide emissions taken seriously radically curtail air travel? Why aren't people ashamed to fly (other than when it's absolutely necessary, such as to visit a distant loved one who's about to die)? It's like the way religious people focus on one sin but not another and don't calibrate their effort at sin-avoidance to the seriousness or harmfulness of the various sins.

"Exploitation of ignorance was a standard political tool long before Trump decided to run for president."

Writes lawprof Ilya Somin.
It was not Trump but the far more respectable President Obama who secured passage of his signature health reform law in large part by manipulating what Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber called “the stupidity of the American voter.”...

The problem is not that voters are stupid, or that accurate information is unavailable. Rather, for most voters, political ignorance is actually rational. No matter how well-informed you are, the probability that your vote will change the outcome of an election is tiny... [Most Americans] have an intuitive sense that there is little payoff to carefully studying political issues...

[E]ven when [Trump's] star fades, the political ignorance that fueled his rise will remain, ripe for exploitation by other candidates and interest groups. That, far more than his crude rhetoric, is the truly frightening reality revealed by The Donald.
The best summary of what Prof. Somin is saying is...
pollcode.com free polls

"The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to ‘be a man.'"

"Whether it’s homicidal violence or suicidal violence, people resort to such desperate behavior only when they are feeling shamed and humiliated, or feel that they would be if they didn’t prove they were real men."

2 quotes extracted from the depths of a College Fix piece titled "Students warned: Bulging biceps, big guns advance unhealthy masculinity," which contains other quotes (to which it is more sympathetic), like the sarcastic professor who reacted to the presentation with: "I should have hung myself or jumped out a window from my involvement in athletics."

Meanwhile: "Republicans want to talk about mental illness rather than guns. Let’s do it."

Guns... guns... I know. I'm not trying to create confusion or be cute. That alignment just happened.

"And then I saw you. You'd taken shelter under the balcony of the Old State House. You were wearing a teal ball gown..."

"... which appeared to me both regal and ridiculous. Your brown hair was matted to the right side of your face, and a galaxy of freckles dusted your shoulders. I'd never seen anything so beautiful.... We sat at the counter of that five and dime and talked like old friends.... After an hour or so, I excused myself to use the restroom. I remember consulting my reflection in the mirror. Wondering if I should kiss you, if I should tell you what I'd done from the cockpit of that bomber a week before, if I should return to the Smith & Wesson that waited for me. I decided, ultimately, that I was unworthy of the resuscitation this stranger in the teal ball gown had given me, and to turn my back on such sweet serendipity would be the real disgrace. On the way back to the counter, my heart thumped in my chest like an angry judge's gavel, and a future -- our future -- flickered in my mind. But when I reached the stools, you were gone. No phone number. No note. Nothing.... I'm an old man now, and only recently did I recount this story to someone for the first time, a friend from the VFW. He suggested I look for you on Facebook. I told him I didn't know anything about Facebook, and all I knew about you was your first name and that you had lived in Boston once...."

From a lovely piece in Craigslist's "Missed Connections," about a missed connection that happened way back in 1972 (via Jaltcoh).

It called to mind the little speech by an old man in "Citizen Kane," explaining what old men remember:
One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on a ferry and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in... and on it, there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on - and she was carrying a white parasol - and I only saw her for one second and she didn't see me at all - but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.
I think a lot of old men read my blog. Sometimes I blog about what women are wearing and they crowd into the comments to say that it would never occur to them to think about what dress a woman had on....

Did I slight Adam Liptak? His NYT Supreme Court piece is titled: "Supreme Court Prepares to Take On Politically Charged Cases."

My first post of the day — my first-Monday-in-October post — focuses on the Washington Post article "because the headline so perfectly sums up the reason mainstream media think you could or should care: 'Supreme Court faces politically charged election-year docket.'"

But now I see the NYT article has nearly the same headline: "Supreme Court Prepares to Take On Politically Charged Cases."

Politically Charged!!!

Is that some kind of secret code or do court-focused reporters just naturally end up there? The idea — as observed in the earlier post — is, I think, that ordinary reader will only be interested in the court if they feel that it's really politics. That's simple titillation. But, of course, I must also suspect The Washington Post and The New York Times of continually massaging its readers into voting for liberals, and creating anxiety about the Court's effect on political issues is the longstanding convention.

But "politically charged" is a great phrase, one I'm going to watch. It lets you call things political without taking responsibility for charging anyone with responsibility for the politically charge. For example, it was said that the Pope's visit to the U.S. was "politically charged," but that didn't mean the Pope is a politico. He might be, but the headline wasn't saying so.

ADDED: The New York Times celebrates the tweeting expertise of Donald Trump in "Pithy, Mean and Powerful: How Donald Trump Mastered Twitter for 2016."
In an interview at his office — interrupted repeatedly by Mr. Trump’s picking up his Samsung Galaxy cellphone, loading new tweets with his index finger and marveling at his nonstop mentions (“Watch this!” he implored) — the candidate compared his Twitter feed to a newspaper with a single, glorious voice: his own.

“The Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,” he said, quoting a fan.

In the past, Mr. Trump said, when dealing with a dishonest rival “there was nothing you can do other than sue.”

“Which I’ve done,” he added. “But it’s a long process.”

Now, he simply tweets. Caustically, colorfully and repeatedly.

Suddenly, he said of his foes, “I have more power than they do. I can let people know that they were a fraud... I can let people know that they have no talent, that they didn’t know what they’re doing. You have a voice.”
Much more at the link.

Jeb follows Trump on Twitter but Trump doesn't follow Jeb.

AP took the trouble to analyze who candidates follow on Twitter and whether they follow each other. 

But what does it mean? How does a candidate decide whom to follow when it's public information? It can't really be that these are the people whose tweets the candidate wants to read. These are just the people the candidate's people want to link to her or him:
Until a few weeks ago, Clinton almost exclusively followed campaign-related accounts and staff. Since then, she's expanded her follow list and added several new celebrities.
Hillary doesn't follow her rivals. She doesn't follow reporters or media accounts, probably, I'm guessing, because she doesn't want to reveal favorites. Why follow celebrities? Because they give money and/or because they make her seem fun? Katy Perry... Mariah Carey... Marc Anthony...

Trump and Hillary have the most followers (almost the same number, 4.3 million). Trump follows people connected to his business dealings, but also some celebrities — Steven Tyler... Magic Johnson...

Who follows the most people? Ted Cruz! He follows 13,840... so you know he's not reading the feed
Last account followed: Lauren Beieler (@laurenbeeliner), whose profile reads, "I heart Jesus. Plain and simple. and i like cheese. A lot."

Whom he follows: Lots and lots of people who have one or more of the following as a profile or background photo: an American flag, a Confederate flag, a Don't Tread on Me Flag or a bald eagle.

Whom he doesn't follow: Nonconservatives, except President Barack Obama — a rare exception.

Notables: Old Southern Moonshine Revival (@OSMRmusic), Classic Rock Lyrics (@RockWsdm)
I don't know. Ted's a genius — maybe he does read it all. His spokesman says he "does follow Twitter virtually all day long between events."

It's the first Monday in October, so the Supreme Court is back on the bench, and mainstream media are telling readers which upcoming cases to care about.

SCOTUSblog collects links.

I'll just read the one in The Washington Post, from Robert Barnes, which I'm choosing because the headline so perfectly sums up the reason mainstream media think you could or should care: "Supreme Court faces politically charged election-year docket."

The "politically charged" issues that might matter to an ordinary person — because they might affect how you'll vote in the presidential election (the all-important question of our time) — are: "the legality of racial preferences to encourage diversity; how far government must go to accommodate religious liberty; how far government may go to restrict a woman’s right to abortion."

I'm not an ordinary person. I'm a law professor, and I've been a law professor for a very long time. From that perspective, I'm going to home in on the language discrepancy between: "how far government must go to accommodate religious liberty" and "how far government may go to restrict a woman’s right to abortion."

The "must" is deceptive if not wrong. The cases about accommodating religious believers are not about what the Constitution requires — what government must do — but about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA") — which is a limitation that the federal government chose to take on and which the government may change by statute. We already know — and the current cases are not about — that the government need only treat religious believers the same as everybody else when it comes to regulating conduct. That's the constitutional law. As I've explained before on this blog, RFRA was a reaction to the Court's rejection of constitutionally required accommodation: "The RFRA bill was sponsored in the House by Congressman Chuck Schumer and in the Senate by Teddy Kennedy. (Each had a GOP co-sponsor). The Democrats controlled Congress, but the Republicans all voted for it too (with the sole exception of [arch-conservative] Jesse Helms)." President Clinton signed the bill, which he effused over: "The power of God is such that even in the legislative process miracles can happen."

The government — Democrats and Republicans — chose to accommodate religion, and the Court is simply stuck determining what their statute means. Government can repeal or amend RFRA or put language in statutes (e.g., the Affordable Care Act) saying RFRA doesn't apply, so we are not talking about how far government must go to accommodate religious liberty.

Adjust your presidential preferences accordingly.

October 4, 2015

Yes, I watched "Saturday Night Live" with Hillary.

I thought the cold open with the Trump impersonator was very entertaining. I even liked Miley Cyrus singing "My Way" as the monologue. But Hillary did fine. Of course, the show loves her and exalted her as much as they could get away with... or more... that shoe stuff in the end was embarrassing. But Hillary herself looked good — maybe she should dress like a bartender all the time — and she showed some comic spark.

ADDED: By the way, when did it become a thing for women to wear flesh-colored shoes? Is it related to that awful trend of ice skaters wearing flesh-colored tights that come down over the skates? "Exhibit A: Sarah Hughes, 2002 Olympic Gold Medalist":

Notice that in the first GOP debate, Carly Fiorina was wearing those seemingly ubiquitous flesh-tone shoes:

It's like they're saying: Don't consider me to be wearing shoes at all. Just think of my feet as an inconspicuous continuation of my legs.

In the second debate, however, she upgraded to shoes that were shoes!