October 3, 2015

Speaking in Mandarin, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg asked Chinese President Xi Jinping if he'd give an honorary Chinese name to the baby he and his wife are about to have.

Xi said: "No."

"You are invited to the young and wonderful town of Brooklyn in 1857... watch them play their bright, sunshiny game of ball called 'base'..."

That's an ad that appeared in The New York Times on June 11, 1950, right under a review of another book about Brooklyn (called "Brooklyn Is America").

I arrived there searching the NYT archive for the word "politicize." That use of "politicize" is the older meaning — to talk about politics. It's similar to "philosophize." It's a style of talking.

I was interested in going back to the past and then, once there, seeing how they talked about their past. Brooklyn has changed a lot since 1950, 65 years ago, and back then, there was a novel that was supposed to entertain you with what Brooklyn was like a century before that, before baseball was called "baseball," and it was a game of ball called "base." Is that even right? I'm checking "Origins of baseball":

"When Schools Overlook Introverts."

"As the focus on group work and collaboration increases, classrooms are neglecting the needs of students who work better in quiet settings."

"How many girlfriends have you had?"/"0. Never had anyone."

"Well, it means I’ve never been with anyone, no woman nor man (nor dog or animal or any other).... must be saving himself for someone special... Involuntarily so."
“He did not like his lot in life, and it seemed like nothing was going right for him,” a law enforcement official said, describing the writings found at the crime scene. “It’s clear he was in a very bad state of mind.”...

[H]e lived with his mother, Laurel Harper, a nurse who fiercely protected him from, among other things, the neighborhood sounds of loud children and barking dogs. Once, neighbors said, she went door to door with a petition to get the landlord to exterminate cockroaches in her apartment, saying they bothered her son.
Here are some "new details" about Harper-Mercer, whose relationship with his mother reminds me of Adam Lanza's. That sensitivity to sound is suggestive of an autistic disorder, and Harper-Mercer attended The Switzer Learning Center, which deals with "learning disabilities, health problems and autism or Asperger's Disorder."
Sofia Camarena of Long Beach, California, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that she used to date Harper-Mercer's father. "I used to change Chris' diapers when he was a baby," she said.... "He was born with problems. He was hard to discipline. If you told him 'no,' he would scream like you had just hit him."...

There are a number of indications that Harper-Mercer had mental health or behavioral issues. His screen name on some social media sites was "lithium love." Lithium is used as a psychiatric medication.
"Lithium" is also a song title. Lyrics: "I'm so lonely but that's okay I shaved my head..."

"... and I'm not sad/And just maybe I'm to blame for all I've heard/But I'm not sure..."

Harper-Mercer was discharged from the Army 5 weeks into basic training for failing to meet "minimum administrative standards."
Harper-Mercer was born in the United Kingdom, stepsister Carmen Nesnick told CBS Los Angeles, moving to the United States when he was very young. He grew up in the Torrance area. His parents, Ian Bernard Mercer and Laurel Margaret Harper, divorced in 2006.
Note the erasure of the racial element. As The Daily Beast reported: Harper's father is white and his mother black.

Lawrence Lessig says the NYT "'dumbs down' the debate radically to blame Republicans for everything."

"No doubt, the Republican leadership often goes where the money is. And so too do the Democrats. The focus shouldn’t be on one of these two money-sensitive-parties. It should be on changing the system that makes money in policy so effective. "

He's criticizing a specific NYT editorial that complains about a provision in the Affordable Care Act that it says, incorrectly, is there "at Republican insistence."

Scott Walker and his GOP legislature "are off the wall... They’re drunk with some kind of power or misconception of reality."

Said Marty Beil, the leader of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, back in 2011, the year of Act 10 and the protests.

Beil "died on Thursday at his home in Mazomanie, Wis. He was 68."

Here's the obituary in the local paper, quoting what Beil said about Act 10: “It is unconscionable, and it is something I will hold against Scott Walker until the day I die, the pain he’s caused to state workers in such a careless fashion.”
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who sat across the negotiating table from Beil for 14 years, called Beil a friend who “loved life,” adding, “he loved his unions, he loved his members, he loved politics and he loved a good spread. Marty was a giant of a man in size as well as in ability... If he considered you a friend, which I know he did of me, he was always there for you.... He was so big, he filled the room — just with his physical size but he also had a giant personality. He would jump up and down — not physically, but mentally — making you believe he was going to come across the table at you. But once you got past the antics ... he was fun to negotiate with.”
That was Tommy, the former Governor. The current Governor, Scott Walker, hasn't offered a statement, at least not that I've seen.

"Why Did the Greatest Feminist Actress Deny Being a Feminist?"

"While promoting the movie Suffragette, [Meryl] Streep was asked if she is a feminist. ‘I am a humanist,’ she replied, further fueling the misguided belief that ‘feminist’ is a dirty word."

I am a humanist! That's like saying "All lives matter" when someone asks whether "Black lives matter." So Meryl's in trouble with the good-thinking people, and just when she's got a movie called "Suffragette."

Here's the full interview. Excerpts:
Is being ladylike overrated?
‘I would say it is underrated. Grace, respect, reserve and empathetic listening are qualities sorely missing from the public discourse now.’...

Are you a feminist?
‘I am a humanist, I am for nice easy balance.’...

What single thing would you change about the film industry to make it less sexist?
‘Men should look at the world as if something is wrong when their voices predominate. They should feel it. People at agencies and studios, including the parent boards, might look around the table at the decision-making level and feel something is wrong if half their participants are not women. Because our tastes are different, what we value is different. Not better, different.’
Back to the first link, which goes to a column in The Daily Beast by (the delightfully named) Teo Bugbee:
So what is it that’s so undesirable about the word feminist?... The common refrain in moments such as these is that feminism is simply a belief in equal rights. 
(That's a subject we were just talking about yesterday (here). And it's the way Hillary Clinton defined feminism recently.)
And while that is true, it’s also a vast oversimplification of the history of a movement that has had time to develop over the course of a century. There is not one feminism, but many feminisms...
That plural — "feminisms" — which you don't see that much these days, was big in the late 1980s, back when I was one of the many women who felt compelled to read and understand the book "New French Feminisms." The plural was both a burden and a relief: a burden, because it's complicated (and perhaps French!), but a relief because you could use the word your own special way, take charge of the meaning creation, and not have to give yourself to a big group of ideological enforcers.

Bugbee proceeds to distance herself from one particular 80s feminist, Andrea Dworkin, "the radical feminist most often cited when critics of feminism want to find a feminist who is explicitly anti-man." Bugbee assures us that almost no feminist today believes in "radical separatism," so it bothers her "that women are denying feminism because of even the possibility that they might find themselves in a world where they must align themselves against men."

I'd say Streep and others who decline the label are not so much "denying feminism" as wanting to remain independent of a terms that other people are actively defining and enforcing. It seems risky and troublesome: You'll have to keep an eye on them lest they cause you to seem to be saying something you don't want to say. An artist, e.g., Streep, can't be distracted by monitoring all these politcos and web-scribblers.

Bugbee proceeds to talk in a completely political way about liberal issues like funding Planned Parenthood and passing equal-pay laws — that is, to be the very kind of ideological enforcer who makes people worry about the consequences of accepting the "feminist" label... which is the likely answer to the "why" question in the post title.

October 2, 2015

The history of the word "politicize" — from 1968 to 2015.

May 1968: "S.D.S. is out to politicize the campus."

September 1973:  "It was not simply a matter of increasing numbers, but of the highly politicized manner in which additional blacks found their way into Harvard — overcoming nearly a century of racial and sociological barriers to a sizable presence at Harvard. Militancy and political threats perpetrated by Negro students in 1968-70 paved the way for major alterations in Harvard's recruiting and admissions policies. This resulted in a fivefold increase in black enrollment, but the politization surrounding this development plagued virtually all aspects of black-white relationships, dividing blacks and whites in to mutually exclusive communities." From "The black experience at Harvard," by Martin Kilson.

August 1976: Back when Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer, was getting the Democratic nomination: "Planters [Peanuts] has been the focus of recent efforts to politicize peanuts, such as the recent Democratic National Convention to 'borrow' its Mr. Peanut mascot. 'Mr. Peanut is an apolitical figure'..."

January 1979: Pope John Paul II in Mexico City: "You know that liberation theology is a true theology... But perhaps it is also a false theology, because if one starts to politicize theology, apply doctrines of political systems, ways of analysis which are not Christian, then this is no longer theology."

September 1980: "On the Lower East Side in the late 60's, his aim was to politicize the hippies, not to make the larger world an adjunct to the counterculture." From a review of a new book by Abbie Hoffman.

December 1986: "In 1966, Mao turned to radical Shanghai students to trigger the Cultural Revolution, a decade-long upheaval intended to politicize every facet of Chinese life."
November 1992: Hugh Hefner is quoted: "I think the real question is why, after a sexual revolution began in the 50's, did the women's movement seize upon an anti-sexual theme.... A significant part of the hurtful side of feminism is failing to understand how a hurtful childhood can shape you, and instead trying to politicize all behavior. There's really no benefit to viewing sex as the enemy. The sex act is some of the best of what we are, as family, and as a civilization. The notion that sex and violence are connected like law and order is untrue. They are polar opposites. One is hurting; one is hugging."

January 1994: "Do you ever wonder if it was a mistake to politicize the private lives of politicians? Bill Clinton was rumored to have a Gary Hart-ish sexual life, yet he's turned out to be quite supportive of women's rights." From a Q&A with 3 female reporters.

May 1996: When Democratic Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts said that the Defense of Marriage bill was motivated by politics, he was accused of a "desperate attempt to politicize what is not a political issue."

September 1999: After shootings in a Fort Worth church, Texas Governor George W. Bush signed legislation permitting guns in churches, Vice President and presidential candidate Al Gore started asking ''How can we allow guns in churches?'," and a Bush spokesman said: "Americans are tired of politicians trying to politicize every tragedy.'' 

December 1999: "Our political leaders must be judged on how they treat everyone, including the least fortunate. We must ask ourselves: do we solve problems or simply push them away, politicize them and criminalize them?'' said Hillary Clinton, about homeless people, whom Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani was having arrested for sleeping on the streets.

April 2000: "Holding congressional hearings now would only further politicize this tragedy [of Elian Gonzalez], further inflame the passions, and do nothing to resolve the future of the child.... We should not allow this situation to degenerate further into which political party can benefit the most. Americans have made it clear that they do not want to see this issue politicized," wrote Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.

October 2004: "There have been faith-based efforts in America for years and years. There hasn't always been an effort to politicize it," said presidential candidate John Kerry speaking to a group of black pastors.

February 2012: "I think there’s been a chord struck over this issue, this issue of political organizations who are trying to politicize women’s reproductive health," said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

October 2015:
President Obama, after another mass shooting: "Somebody somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic."

"Somebody somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue," said Obama.

"Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic."
"When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we work to make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them. To reduce auto fatalities, we have seat belt laws because we know it saves lives," Obama said.

"So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations. Doesn't make sense."
Of course, gun rights advocates are politicizing this in the other direction. It's entirely predictable. What's new is the clear statement: This is something we should politicize.

It's even odd to see the word "politicize" used in a positive way. I looked up the word (in the OED). The original meaning was "To engage in or talk about politics." That's an intransitive verb. You're not politicizing anything, just politicizing — gabbing about politics. It goes back to 1758. Horace Walpole, the 4th Earl of Orford, wrote: "But while I am politicizing, I forget to tell you half the purport of my letter."

The transitive verb, meaning "To make political" has spent most of its time referring to people — making them "politically aware or politically active." That goes back to 1846. The idea of making a subject matter political seems to be much more recent. The first example in the OED is from 1991: "Sociobiology was politicized at the outset by those who saw in it an elaborate argument for justifying a competitive, capitalist status quo." Timothy H. Goldsmith Biol. Roots Human Nature i. 5.

Now, I'm getting deeply into NYT archive, looking at the development of the word. The transitive verb referring to people spikes in 1968 in the context of politicizing students. (There's also talk of politicizing the Court and politicizing black people.) By the early 70s, I'm seeing references to politicizing the activities of persons — politicizing education, politicizing the Watergate investigation. The idea of politicizing an issue happens a bit later.

ADDED: I've gone through 1,000+ occurrences of "politicize" in the NYT archive, and I'll do another post showing you a lot of interesting things about it, but I want to complete this post by saying that I believe that Obama did something new. I can't find earlier examples of a high-level, newsworthy person saying that politicizing an issue is a good idea. I can find examples of people saying that it's a good idea to politicize people — to make them politically aware/active.

In the late 60s, there were lots of lefties who were excited about politicizing college students, and the yippies wanted to politicize hippies. But the later-developing idea of politicizing an issue is always somebody saying they don't want to politicize it, that they want to "de-politicize" it, or an attack on somebody else for politicizing it.

I did find this, from 1989, in a long article by the art critic Grace Glueck about the artist Jenny Holzer:
Holzer's real admirers among artists tend, naturally, to be those involved with newer forms. ''Her work is great, a bit ahead of its time,'' says Christoper Wool, a painter who last year began to make ''word drawings'' that deal with words as abstractions.... ''She has managed to politicize her art without losing the poetics of it. And she's made the light-emitting diodes so much her own that no one else can use them without evoking her work.''

Holzer... accepts the term ''political'' for her work. ''I hope it's political in the larger sense, not topical,'' she says. ''It deals with life-and-death issues; that's supposedly what politics are about.'' An avowed feminist, she is usually seen as part of a group of other strong female artists - Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler and Kruger, among them - who in their work seem concerned about ''real world'' rather than fantasy subject matter, especially the might of military and corporate America.
Since feminism runs on the theory that "the personal is political," it makes sense to find the positive view of politicization in this context.

"Carly Fiorina has feminists on the defensive."

"Once you realize that most of what’s marketed as feminism in the United States is just Democratic Party agitprop, this all makes sense. So does the New York Times’ lopsided 4-against-1 debate format."

Says Glenn Reynolds linking to a NYT "Room for Debate" collection of 5 essays on the topic "Is Carly Fiorina a Feminist?" I'll take his word for it that only 1 of the 5 answers yes.

I had a flashback to the time I was invited to write for a collection like this. I think the question was "Who is a feminist?" I forget what current issue made that seem like the right question to ask, and I'm sure my answer was something along the lines of: It depends on how you define the term.

20 minutes later... That was surprisingly hard to find. The question was "Who Gets To Be a Feminist?" — which is a a strange way to put it, suggesting that there's a gate-keeper deciding who's allowed in the club. It was in DoubleX at Slate back in October 2010. I wrote:

"A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount..."

"... as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans. 'Our study results suggest that if you are 25, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than those older, to prevent gaining weight,' Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Toronto’s York University, said in a statement. 'However, it also indicates there may be other specific changes contributing to the rise in obesity beyond just diet and exercise.'"

From an article in The Atlantic called "Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 1980s."

If I had to guess what's going on here, I'd guess that there is inaccuracy in estimating the calories consumed and the weights of the individuals in question, especially those people from 30 years ago. But Kuk's guesses are: 1. exposure to chemicals in the environment, 2. prescription drugs, and 3. our "microbiomes" — gut bacteria — have changed.

"A tumor stole every memory I had. This is what happened when it all came back."

By Demetri Kofinas (via Metafilter). Excerpt:
My tumor had been reduced to a fraction of its original size... My assumption was that since I couldn’t remember anything during my amnesia, the memories had never formed to begin with. This was utterly false. Instead, everything that happened to me from the onset of my symptoms was sitting in my repaired brain, waiting....

There was so much past to go through, and for the most part, I didn’t feel in control of the discoveries. Instead, memories felt more like revelations. They began to pour onto the neural highways of my brain like a torrential summer rain....

I learned, for example, that for months before my surgery, I had been working with real estate agents in search of a new apartment. On one occasion, I was shown two different apartments in the same building–300 East 23rd Street–and needed to go back and forth between them because I kept forgetting what I had just seen.....

"Johnny is known as a 'Guevedoce,' which literally means, 'penis at twelve.'"

"And the reason he’s called that is because, like 1 in 90 of the boys in the area, he first started to grow a penis when he was going through puberty."
Guevedoces are also sometimes called “machihembras” meaning “first a woman, then a man”. When they’re born they look like girls with no testes and what appears to be a vagina. It is only when they near puberty that the penis grows and testicles descend.

Johnny, who is now in his 20s, was once known as Felicita. He was brought up as a girl and remembers going to school in a little red dress. When he was young he would happily play with other little girls, but after the age of seven he started to change. “I did not feel good, I no longer liked to wear a skirt, and I was no longer drawn to play with girls. All I wanted to do is play with toy guns and boys.”...
An endocrinologist explains that Guavadoces are "deficient in an enzyme called 5-α-reductase, which normally converts testosterone into dihydro-testosterone." At puberty, there's such a surge of testosterone that the development that should have happened in the womb finally occurs.

The Vatican says: "The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis...

"... and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects." 

Is that clear?

"The Daily Show" comes to Madison, Wisconsin to examine the "extensive" anti-bias training program for police here.

Here's the clip of the segment. The part about Madison begins at 4:34. There's some interesting material about the training, which is demonstrated to  2 comics, one black and one white, who try to amuse us by cutting up about race from an exaggerated black and white perspective. We're told "there's a compelling reason why" Madison has this program and a news clip that says: "Tonight, there are protests over another deadly police shooting of an unarmed man." But later, after showing quite a lot of the kind of training that is done in Madison, it's revealed that Madison's program was in place 5+ years before the shooting of a young man that led to the protests. There's no mention of what that man was doing that led to his shooting or of the fact that the officer who killed him had, some years before, shot and killed a white man. Obviously, they can't go into every nuance, but I'm sensitive to distortions about my city, though I guess we do get some credit for having the training program, even if the point seems to be that racial bias is so deeply ingrained that the best you can do is to send the message that you care enough to do something significant to try to minimize it.

October 1, 2015

"I think that people, as soon as they start hearing me saying I’m a Christian, they’re like, 'Whoa Justin, back up, take a step back.'"

"Also, I do not want to shove this down anyone’s throat. I just wanna honestly live like Jesus. Not be Jesus—I could never—I don’t want that to come across weird. He created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind. If you believe it, he died for our sins. Sometimes when I don’t feel like doing something, but I know it’s right, I remember, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t feel like going to the cross and dying so that we don’t have to feel what we should have to feel. What Jesus did when he came to the cross was basically say, ‘You don’t have to feel any of that stuff.’ We could take out all of our insecurities, we could take away all of the hurt, all the pain, all the fear, all the trauma. That doesn’t need to be there. So all this healing that you’re trying to do, it’s unnecessary. We have the greatest healer of all and his name is Jesus Christ. And he really heals. This is it. It’s time that we all share our voice. Whatever you believe. Share it. I’m at a point where I’m not going to hold this in."

Said Justin Bieber.

An artist is shot to death as he is painting a mural for the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, part of the Attitudinal Healing Connection.

Antonio Ramos was working on a picture — designed by school children — of "a row of homes surrounded by trees with several large peaceful figures standing over the bright cityscape" when a man walked up and shot him to death.
The mural was the third of six planned murals in the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project organized by ArtEsteem, the art and literacy arm of Attitudinal Healing Connection, a West Oakland Group that seeks to stop violence by inspiring people with art and education.
"Antonio never raised his voice... There was no altercation, there was nothing like that. It was just a guy, crazy, walking through here. He probably stole something or did something to the mural and Antonio was asking why did you do that?"

UPDATE, November 25, 2015: Marquise Holloway, 20, of Oakland, arrested and charged:
Holloway is known to hang around the same neighborhood of West Oakland where Ramos was killed and had been associated with members of a street gang, Lt. Roland Holmgren said.... Holmgren said that on the day of his death, Ramos had taken a break from painting and was snapping pictures of the mural he was working on when Holloway allegedly walked by and began eyeing some of his camera equipment, which police believe led to the altercation and shooting.

Hillary resisted the gay rights agenda out of fear of "a huge Fox generated media storm led by Palin et al."

This is getting presented in the liberal press in a somewhat negative way — for example, from the L.A. Times, "New batch of Hillary Clinton's emails shows her cautiousness on gay rights":
Hillary Rodham Clinton has lately positioned herself on the forefront of gay rights, but tucked into a newly disclosed batch of her emails is a reminder that she had long taken a more cautious approach to the issue...
But, of course, she was cautious and wary of the media response. "Parent One" and "Parent Two" instead of "mother" and "father" is absurd bureaucratese.

A nice ego boost for Sarah Palin there, knowing she's got prime real estate in Hillary's head.

The death of a prankster.

"Legendary UW-Madison prankster Leon Varjian died from a heart attack at 64 in his Wood-Ridge, New Jersey home Tuesday, according to a UW-Madison release...."

ADDED: Details on the Statue of Liberty prank here

Linda Greenhouse writes about "A Chief Justice Without a Friend."

That headline — in the NYT — reminds me of the junior high school taunt: Nobody likes you.
... I can’t think of a chief justice who has been so uniformly vilified by both left and right. The attacks from the left are logical enough. It’s the fire from the right that merits closer observation...

Think about the Affordable Care Act cases, really the only two important decisions by which Chief Justice Roberts has left his erstwhile friends empty-handed. What explains the obsession with these two decisions that would lead people who should be thrilled with his overall performance to want instead to throw him under the bus?...
Greenhouse says Roberts "didn’t get the memo" that judicial conservatism has changed and is no longer grounded in judicial restraint. (This is, by the way, an observation that liberals have been making since at least 1981, when it was the theme of the dean's speech at my law school graduation.)
Remember when “judicial activism” was a nasty label that conservatives hurled at liberals and when “legislating from the bench” was the worst thing a judge could do? Not, it seems, any more. Josh Blackman and Randy Barnett, two law professors who are advising Senator Rand Paul’s presidential campaign (Professor Barnett was an architect of the first Affordable Care Act case), wrote in the conservative Weekly Standard last month that “presidential candidates should reject the vapid labels of ‘restraint’ and ‘legislating from the bench.’ ” Rather, they argued, “The heart of the inquiry should be whether the nominee is willing to engage and enforce the Constitution against the other branches, not whether they can parrot clichés about ‘strict constructionism’ or ‘calling balls and strikes’ during a confirmation hearing.” In other words, judicial “engagement” is good. Judicial restraint is a dereliction of duty.

"Everyone you know will be able to rate you on the terrifying ‘Yelp for people’ — whether you want them to or not."

Get ready for Peeple.

"Notice the spelling," says Meade. "They're going to pee on people."

ADDED: Suddenly, I'm thinking about slam books. Remember slam books?

AND: Slam books were a thing that girls did, and just look at the "founders" of the Peeple app:

Somebody at Cornell Law School stole a law student's Ruth Bader Ginsburg lunch bag.

Email sent to everyone:
"If you let my lunch bag go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill yell at you. To the low life who literally stole my lunch and dinner, please have the decency to at least return my WLC lunch bag to the kitchen. I just want Ruthey to get home safely."
The sad thing about this, other than that theft exists, is that if anybody else has an RBG lunch bag, they can't use it without looking like a thief. And I would think that a lot of people, upon learning that there is such a thing as a Ruth Bader Ginsburg lunch bag might want to get one...

... and now — at the very point of desire formation — they must leave that desire unrequited, because it is linked inextricably with looking like a thief.

"We try to get people more aware of the importance of having disabled characters on television, and changing the mind-set of how you see disability."

"We’re trying to bring normality to what it is, and bringing truthful and honest characters to the screen."

Said R.J. Mitte, who played Walt Jr. on "Breaking Bad," in a lecture here at the University of Wisconsin last night. Mitte has cerebral palsy.

Here's a scene with him from the show (complaining about veggie bacon).

ADDED: Video taken out because it wasn't just the scene but some other comic stuff that isn't good enough. Watch the first 35 seconds to see the relevant part, here.

"Biden expected to skip first Democratic debate."

CNN reports.

So then if, at the last minute, he decides to drop in — and CNN has given him until the last minute to decide — it will be an opportunity for media folk to whip out their favorite adverb: unexpectedly!

It's all just so unfair to Hillary. Don't prepare to fend off Biden? And yet, he may surprise us. If it seems advantageous when the time comes. He's got 22 days to tease us, excite us (over what is essentially an utterly boring prospect — Joe Biden running for President again).

"You have to ignore many variables to think women are paid less than men. California is happy to try."

Writes Sarah Ketterer in The Wall Street Journal in "The ‘Wage Gap’ Myth That Won’t Die" (which you can get to without subscribing if you Google some of the text).
 The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that its analysis of wages by gender does “not control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences.”

What factors?... Men are significantly more likely than women to work longer hours...

Career choice is another factor.... [W]omen flock to college majors that lead to lower-paying careers.... [O]f the 10 highest-paying majors... only one, “pharmacy sciences and administration,” is majority female. Eight of the remaining nine are more than 70% male.
If the pay were equalized, wouldn't that only exaggerate the sex difference in the career choices, with even fewer women motivated to go into computers and science? I doubt if men avoid low-paying majors like "drama and theater arts" and "counseling psychology" only because of the pay. But I'm not stating an opinion about whether it's bad that there are gendered differences in career choices. Maybe that's just fine, and it's a shame that women doing what they like includes lower pay. It's just one of the many factors you have to take into account when you want to do with your life (including whether you want to spend more time with your family). But for those who think there's a problem that there aren't enough women in the STEM fields, removing the economic incentive won't help.

"It feels to me like a lot of people talking and nobody listening. It’s just a little quippy for me."

Says Aaron Sorkin, about Twitter, after Ana Marie Cox prompts him to think about Twitter as a "shared experience" similar to the traditional function of television (that "national hearth").

September 30, 2015

"In a bid to seem less stuffy... Hillary Clinton is chatting with Lena Dunham about the singer Lenny Kravitz’s penis."

Writes Frank Bruni — warring on women? — in his column in The New York Times.
The interview itself covers Clinton’s biography and some serious terrain, including feminism and the relationship between African-Americans and the police.
So why are you disrespecting these women, Frank?
But it’s in large part a Dunham-Clinton love-in, a pajama party minus the pajamas, ostensibly in keeping with the Clinton campaign’s recent pledge to roll out a warmer, funnier version of the candidate.
When women have a friendly discussion with each other, you for some reason feel compelled to picture them in pajamas — to call it a pajama party? I'm having a flashback to the 1970s (and even the 1980), when men seeing women talking to each other just had to call it a "kaffeeklatsch." You could be in a professional occupation, and a man might walk into the room, see 2 or 3 women talking to each other and say: "Oh? Is this the kaffeeklatsch?"
In the promotional video, Clinton kids that because Dunham’s newsletter and the website associated with it are called Lenny, she half expected that the person coming to question her might be Kravitz.

Dunham then mentions some viral footage of a Kravitz wardrobe malfunction: “His stuff fell out of his pants.”

Clinton feigns fascination. “I’ll look for that,” she says.
Well, now, they are making the man a sex object. So that's a problem. A bigger problem for Hillary is that talking about a man who can't keep his penis in his pants makes me think of Bill Clinton.

From the second-most-liked comment over there:
Bruni, if you want to make constructive use of your valuable column inches, instead of the kind of comments you might throw over your shoulder at a dinner party, study a specific set of issues and review with people who know about the subjects (not with the shallow partisan talking heads) what each candidate plans to do about the issue.
The reason he doesn't want to do that is the same reason I want to say valuable column inches... there's a phrase.

There are 6 species of great apes alive today, so why is there only one species of human?

"Our own species appeared around 200,000 years ago, at a time when several others existed. Yet today, only we remain." Why?
For the first 100,000 years of our existence, modern humans behaved much like Neanderthals. then something changed. Our tools became more complex, around the time when we started developing symbolic artefacts.... For tens of thousands of years, before we developed these abilities, modern humans and other hominins were fairly evenly matched.... Any other species could have taken our place....

A "loophole" that lets candidates — like Carly Fiorina — get away with "coordinating" with Super Pacs.

The NYT seems to be sounding an alert over something completely bland and banal:
The Federal Election Commission forbids direct coordination between campaigns and super PACs, lest candidates effectively rely almost entirely on the huge, unlimited donations of a small number of billionaires. But in 2016, the groups are aggressively exploiting gray areas and loopholes in the rules, few of which the commission – deadlocked with its three Republican and three Democratic members – has hastened to close.
Oh, those terrible deadlocks. Now, what is this loophole that the Commission is allowing to exist?
Candidates and super PACs are free to coordinate their plans if the information is shared in public view.... posting video on YouTube, and... signal[ing] a preference for positive advertising [on] Twitter...
Mrs. Fiorina and other candidates... have taken it a step further: making available advance travel schedules.... Under the rules, Mrs. Fiorina’s super PAC... could not even call her campaign staff members to see where and when she is headed next. But Mrs. Fiorina has cleverly sidestepped that prohibition: Her campaign has created a public Google calendar, which it updates weeks into the future, showing the events she has planned.
Putting video on YouTube, tweeting about the kind of message you want to get out, and having an on-line calendar of upcoming events... that counts as "clever"? I guess "cleverly" bolsters the characterization of the permissibility of this speech as a "loophole" in the campaign finance law. But it's simple, obvious free speech from the candidate. I don't see how the Commission could change this or why we should feel that it should change.

The Times has a quote from campaign finance lawyer: “Essentially, it inoculates a case of coordination by making it public.” Like there's a real disease here. Inoculates.

"A mob in India just dragged a man from his home and beat him to death — for eating beef."

"In a cruel irony, Akhlaq’s family insists that the meat in question wasn’t even beef."
“There was some mutton in the fridge which was taken away yesterday,” Sajida told the Express. “They thought it was beef. The police have taken it for examination... If the results prove that it was not beef, will they bring back my dead father?”

Cecile Richards — Planned Parenthood President and the daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards — stood up to intense pressure from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Here are some highlights:

Featured at a WaPo article titled: "In Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, GOP faces formidable fan of ‘kick-butt’ politics." Excerpt:
Unlike past presidents, Richards didn’t have a background in women’s health. She was an organizer and a strategist. Her goal, she told the New York Times in 2008, was to turn Planned Parenthood into “the largest kick-butt political organization.”

Richard’s political tactics were targeted by Republicans at the hearing, who suggested that the federal funding received by the organization in effect subsidized the group’s political action committee, which raises funds primarily for Democratic candidates. “It’s the co-mingling [of the funds] that bothers us,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee chairman.

"The Singing Contractors had a request to sing this song 'How Great Thou Art'..."

Why is "Survivor" still popular after all these years in the same CBS time slot?

On its front-page, the NYT analyzes this ratings mystery.
“I’m not going to lie and say I wouldn’t love for more people to start watching ‘Survivor,’ but I’m not making it to attract a new viewer,” [show host Jeff] Probst, who is also an executive producer, said in an interview. “I’m making it for the people who have kept us on the air.”
It's "Survivor." It survives.
[Probst] said the low point was Gabon, which was broadcast in 2008. He said he felt burned out and was also a little self-conscious... “My Achilles’ heel for a lot of my life was that nobody saw me as a storyteller, that they saw me as a white guy with dark hair who was just a game show host,” Mr. Probst said. “And that in terms of my own self-image was the thing that could gut me. It was like a kidney punch.”
Him thinking about himself as a white guy who's just a game show host was like a kidney punch?

The Pope told Kim Davis to "stay strong."

When he was in Washington, D.C.:
During Ms. Davis’s visit to the Vatican Embassy, “the pope came to her and held out his hand,” [Davis's lawyer] said. Ms. Davis asked the pope to pray for her, which he said he would, and then the pope asked Ms. Davis to pray for him, Mr. Staver said. They spoke in English, he said, and the pope gave the Davises two rosaries. Ms. Davis gave the rosaries to her mother and father, who are Catholics.... “He thanked her for her courage and told her, ‘Stay strong,’ ” Mr. Staver said.
Also: "While in Washington, Francis also made an unscheduled stop to see the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns that is suing the federal government over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate."

Rush Limbaugh on Mars, part 2.

Part 1, yesterday, ended: "I started out this post thinking I could defend and support Rush, who riffs and takes risks as he thinks out loud. But he couldn't work up the material he thought he was going to find in there and he wouldn't admit it. 'We're dealing here with desperate leftists who will do anything to advance their agenda here on earth' — he really does deserve to have that line turned against him."

That addressed Rush's Monday show, which drew mockery in the liberal media by those who take bait that he knows he's offering, and of course he came back the next day, Tuesday, to mock the mockers for taking things out of context and getting him wrong. I tried yesterday to anticipate what these explanations would be, but going over the Monday transcript, I saw that he got lost within his own riffs and covered up when he couldn't pull his ideas together. He was trying to talk about how left-wing media and corrupted scientists would use the idea of flowing water on Mars to push the climate change agenda on earth. But how could that work, when the focus on earth is man-made climate change and there are no men on Mars?

I saw traces of "the monologue that could have been — the one that could have worked — which would not have been about climate change on Earth but about NASA's interest in getting us to support sending people to Mars."

So let's check the Tuesday transcript, "What I Really Think About Mars":
I doubt that anybody reporting on what I said actually knows what I said.  I doubt that any of them actually went to my website to read the transcript of what I said and then report on it....
Well, I sure did! I went through the whole transcript, sympathetically, and I explained what went wrong.

September 29, 2015

"Inside the museum, Nader personally escorted bewildered townspeople through the exhibits."

"He stopped in front of the McDonald’s Coffee Cup Case exhibit. 'The lawyers didn’t tell people that McDonald’s kept their coffee that hot for commercial advantage. So it would stay hotter than Burger King’s as you drove along the highway. They’d already gotten seven hundred complaints about the burns.' Nader shook his head and looked at his guest, who nodded. He had changed one mind. He seemed satisfied."

From "Ralph Nader’s Tort Museum" (in The New Yorker), about the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut.

ADDED: If you're like me, the first 3 words of the post title started a Bob Dylan song playing in your head: "Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial/Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while/But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues/You can tell by the way she smiles/See the primitive wallflower freeze/When the jelly-faced women all sneeze/Hear the one with the mustache say, 'Jeeze/I can’t find my knees'..."

If you can’t find your  knees/I'd say, jeeze/That's a tort that that someone did fease/Help me, Ralph Nader, please...

"A nation of tall cheese-eaters."

BBC looks into why the Dutch are now the tallest people in the world.
Four hundred years ago, much of the country lay under water, and much of the rest was swampy marshland. "The buttock of the world", was how one 17th-Century visitor described it, "full of veines and bloud, but no bones". Over the next few centuries though, the Dutch embarked on an extraordinary project to rebuild their country. Thousands of canals were dug, and bogs were drained by hundreds of water-pumping windmills....  [M]ilk became a popular drink at a time when clean water was in short supply. Any that wasn't drunk was churned into butter or cheeses, often named after the towns where they were traded, such as Gouda (pronounced, to the confusion of cheese-lovers worldwide, "How-da")....

Finally, a political cartoon of some value.

Nice style and content, by Patrick Chappatte.

Harridan or catastrophe?

If there is to be a Word of the Day this morning on the blog, it will be either "harridan""Carly makes it harder for Hillary to claim she must be flat and bland lest people see her as a screeching harridan" — or "catastrophe""It just irritates the heck out of me.  Unknown catastrophe. We know that an unknown catastrophe some years ago brought about by climate change destroyed all the water on Mars."

UPDATE: "Harridan" wins, as I guessed it would, since people are attracted to women, even "a decayed strumpet," as Samuel Johnson defined the word in his famous dictionary. I'm flattered that you chose it, not because I am a decayed strumpet, but because I came up with the word myself, and "catastrophe" was a quoted word (from Rush Limbaugh, who was himself quoting someone, a NASA scientist).

The OED defines "harridan" as "A haggard old woman; a vixen; ‘a decayed strumpet’ (Johnson): usually a term of vituperation." The OED's historical quotes include:
a1745 Swift Misc. Poems (1807) 57 The nymphs with whom you first began, Are each become a harridan.
1860 R. W. Emerson Considerations in Conduct of Life (London ed.) 241 This identical hussy was a tutelar spirit in one house, and a harridan in the other.
The Emerson is the one that seems to need more context. Who was this woman? And yet the Swift poem is so wonderful — rhyming "blab it" with "habit" —  I want to copy it here:
Copy of the Birth-Day Verses on Mr. Ford

COME, be content, since out it must,
For Stella has betray'd her trust;
And, whispering, charged me not to say
That Mr. Ford was born to-day;
Or, if at last I needs must blab it,
According to my usual habit,

"Is [Carly Fiorina] really, truly so filled with rage? Probably not."

"When she ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2010, she was a moderate, pro-business Republican. That erstwhile profile would get her nowhere in this year’s presidential race, however, when everyone is scrambling to get to the right of everyone else and 'moderate' is a dirty word. One has to wonder if the showy posture of ultraconservative anger isn’t the biggest lie of all."

Writes Eugene Robinson.

I wonder if Hillary Clinton is watching Fiorina's rise and trying to learn something about how a woman can present herself in an exciting, compelling way. Robinson, I suspect, would only like to say that it's those terrible Republicans who respond to anger, but Democrats are responding to Bernie Sanders and he always sounds and looks angry. (Take any video of him, pause it randomly and repeatedly, and marvel or giggle at how every freeze frame is another angry face.)

And on "Meet the Press" the other day, when asked whether Hillary Clinton is "in tune with the mood of the electorate," Andrea Mitchell said no, because "She's not angry enough." Mitchell seemed to think it would be too hard for Hillary to feed the hunger for rage: "[I]t's hard for her to be angry because then you've got, you know, Donald Trump saying, 'She's shrill,' which is a sexist word, let's face it. But she has to get around that. But the anger, the passion is all on people going on the attack, whether it's, you know, whether it's Donald Trump, whether it's Carly Fiorina, or whether it's Bernie Sanders."

If Carly can do it, why not Hillary? Carly undermines that pro-Hillary sexism argument, that if Hillary displays emotion, she'll be judged according to standards that are only imposed on women. There are reasons for a candidate to eschew the anger mode, but Carly makes it harder for Hillary to claim she must be flat and bland lest people see her as a screeching harridan.

Oh, those red orbs!

The water-on-Mars Google doodle. Nice, but I initially mistook it for the blood moon. The red orbs seem to be taking over. Free association: Donald Trump said that Megyn Kelly had blood coming out of her eyes.

"But what if someone sincerely believes that he is obligated by his own religion, or at least motivated by that religion, to assist suicide?"

Asks Eugene Volokh.
What if, for instance, he believes that the parable of the Good Samaritan commands him to help his patient, or his wife, or anyone else to escape pain — or what they feel to be indignity — by helping them end their lives? (Assume that the target of this help wants to die, is in pain and is already near death. And assume that we’re in a state that forbids assisting suicide.)...
The federal Free Exercise Clause doesn't require accommodations, but there are statutes and state constitutional law provisions that give relief from substantial burdens on the exercise of religion unless the government has a compelling interest that can only be served by imposing that burden.
[T]he government [could say] that it has a compelling government interest in preventing people from being pressured into giving up their lives, and that a total ban on assisted suicide is the least restrictive means of preventing such pressure.... [S]ubtle pressure can happen even while the relatives are denying to themselves that they actually want the person to die... [O]nce assisted suicide becomes just another choice... families might subtly or overtly threaten to withdraw their affections, and the ill person may find life no longer worth living.... Is there a compelling interest in preventing such emotionally or psychologically pressured choices (even if not forcibly coerced choices) in favor of suicide?
I have an old Religion-and-the-Constitution exam somewhere — not in this computer — where I made up a religion that had an "assisted suicide" belief, basically a ritualistic killing of persons who had reached a certain stage of debilitation in proximity to death. My hypothetical went beyond a religious belief that one ought to help a dying person die when that person wanted to die. In "my" religion, the dying person also had an obligation to depart. I explained these religious beliefs with such dry neutrality that not one student expressed any outrage or disgust.

I wonder what Professor Volokh would say if the dying person's desire to die rested on religious obligation.

ADDED: In my exam hypo, the individuals who were killed were members of the religion, sharing the killer's belief system. In Volokh's hypothetical, the killer could be a real Dr. Death Reverend Death, ministering to everyone who wants to die (and is in pain and near death). Dr. Kevorkian, but with religion.

AND: Kevorkian, much criticized by religionists, was hostile to religion:
In his keynote address at the Freedom From Religion Foundation annual convention in 1990, Kevorkian told convention-goers: "Religion is telling law what to do, and law is telling doctors what to do. Religion dictates to law, and law dictates to ethics. No wonder we have problems. That's insanity!"

Rush Limbaugh on Mars.

I'm seeing some mockery of what Rush Limbaugh said about Mars on yesterday's show. Of course, it's taken out of context, as Rush, of course, expects and invites. (I'm sure he'll talk about this on the show today.) Let's look at what was quoted and what's in the transcript and try to figure out if he's ridiculously stupid or comically apt.

First, there was a teaser in the opening monologue. The boldfaced part is what Politico quoted:
Okay, so there's flowing water on Mars.  Yip yip yip yip yahoo.  You know me, I'm science 101 big time guy, tech advance it, you know it, I'm all-in.  But NASA has been corrupted by the current Regime.  I want to find out what they're gonna tell us.  Okay, flowing water on Mars, if we’re even believe that, what are they gonna tell us that means?  That's what I'm gonna wait for.  Because I guarantee, let’s just wait and see.  This is September 28th.  Let's just wait and see, don't know how long it's gonna take, but this news that there is flowing water on Mars is somehow gonna find its way into a technique to advance the leftist agenda. I don't know what it is, I would assume it would be something to do with global warming and maybe there was once an advanced civilization. If they say they found flowing water, next they're gonna find a graveyard.  And then they're gonna be able to say in the graveyard is a dead advanced civilization.  What killed them?  Well, who knows.  This is a bit, of course, of an extreme exaggeration, but this is what happens.

September 28, 2015

"In an environment where choosing a coffee table is marketed as an expression of identity, it’s easy to project deeper meaning onto a partner’s opinion."

From a piece in The Atlantic titled "Why Ikea Causes So Much Relationship Tension/The stylish, idealized home in the store’s showroom 'literally becomes a map of a relationship nightmare,' says one psychologist."

I couldn't identify with this article. My first thought was to remember another article that I almost blogged: "Why you should care about how Hitler decorated his homes." That was in The Washington Post 3 days ago. Why I should care? I didn't care.

Pope Francis supports the right of government officials like Kim Davis to refuse, for religious reasons, to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Responding to a question from an ABC reporter, he said:
"I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection... but, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.... Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right... Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’ It is a human right.”

When asked specifically if he was including government workers in his response, Pope Francis responded: "It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right."

"Carly Fiorina is an ice-cold shade queen debate princess and I’m in love with and terrified of her."

A quote from a feminist in a NYT article titled "Carly Fiorina Both Repels and Enthralls Liberal Feminists."

That particular feminist is Erin Gloria Ryan, managing editor of Jezebel:
“I am constantly pivoting mentally with her,” Ms. Ryan said, adding that she had not at all been torn about opposing Mrs. Palin or Mrs. Bachmann. Mrs. Fiorina, she said, is “contrary to the conservative female narrative, the way she looks, the way she presents herself, the no-nonsense businesswoman thing.”
Ever think about the ways in which Carly Fiorina is the opposite of Sarah Palin? Palin had the appropriate political position that made her seem like an apt choice for VP. State governor. But then she wasn't ready to talk under the questioning that suddenly got aimed at her when she was chosen and it screwed up the confidence we were too ready to put in her because of her political credential.

Fiorina makes us wonder right from the beginning whether she's appropriate, because she's held no political position, but start aiming those challenging questions at her and she's ready to speak straight to the issues with astounding stamina and conviction that make us want to believe she can do what it takes.

"Vice President Joe Biden will be invited to participate in the first Democratic presidential primary debate..."

What?!! I overreact to a breaking-news email from CNN...
... if...
Oh. If.
... he declares his intention to seek his party's nomination as late as the day of the debate, eligibility criteria released Monday by CNN shows.
Well, that's damned generous.

Do they hate Hillary?

I suspect that they just love ratings. But this facilitation of Biden's coy will-I-won't-I routine feels biased.

What actress who hasn't made a film since 1968 is making a new movie?

Hint: "She turned down the role of Mrs Robinson in 1967’s The Graduate as she found the script 'vulgar and offensive.'"

ADDED: That last movie, from 1968, was "With Six You Get Eggroll." Look how they did opening credits back then:

(If you're like me, your main outburst was: "Hey, George Carlin's in it." And you secondary outburst was: "The Grassroots!")

AND: Look what happens when hippies try to help you:

I only watched that because I though George Carlin would be in that part.

"It looks like Hillary is in a panicked frenzy, her eyes have turned red... Chinese people aren't angry at her, but we now despise her a little."

"She has started to copy Trump's speaking style and allowed herself to become a fierce big mouth. She really has lowered herself.... "

Such was the response in the Chinese Global Times after Hillary Clinton tweeted: "[Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] hosting a meeting on women's rights at the UN while persecuting feminists? Shameless."

And from Chinese social media:  "Hillary you should quickly rush home, Lewinsky is already in your bed with Bill. Why don't you mind your own business instead of talking rubbish about China."

"A German woman who vanished 31 years ago and had been registered as dead after a man confessed to her murder, has been found alive and well and living in Düsseldorf."

Petra Pazsitka "now admits she plotted her disappearance."
A spokesperson for [the police] said: "As to the motive of her disappearance, she gave no explanation and expressly said that she continues to want no contact with the public or her family."

"The proper skirt suit is dead, long live the thought-provoking skirt suit."

From a NYT fashion article titled "At Prada, Reinventing the Power Suit."
Was it when women decided that they should stop trying to dress like their male peers, because power did not preclude femininity, and floral dresses invaded the C-suite (see: Michelle Obama)? Was it when Angela Merkel settled on a brightly colored jacket and black trousers as her uniform of choice, and every other female politician seemed to follow up with her version of the same?... It’s unclear, but these days Carly Fiorina is not the only person who wants to bring it back....
The "thought-provoking" skirt suits at Prada look way too silly to be usable by a woman who wants trust and influence. The thoughts provoked would be along the lines of: You can't be serious.

But I think the skirt suit should come back. How perfectly arrayed for the debate Carly Fiorina looked in that blue suit. That's much better than all those awful trousers older women have been relying on. Not to pick on Hillary, but that pantsuit she wore to her granddaughter's birthday is incomprehensibly bad. (Normally, it shouldn't matter what a woman wears to a 1-year-old's birthday party, but the press was given a view, so I'm judging it as a deliberate political photo op.)

The "tiny house" approach to housing the homeless in Madison isn't as bad as its neighborhood opponents once feared.

Some of the NIMBYs who signed the petition against it offer positive quotes to the Wisconsin State Journal reporter.
“I think a lot of the resistance was a knee-jerk reaction, a ‘not-in-my-backyard’ reaction, and I had it at first, too.... I think it’s actually added value to the neighborhood.”...

"They are very quiet, nice people. Very clean"...

"I hope they keep up the good work."...

"We quite enjoy them as neighbors... They’ve done everything they said they’d do with the site."

"Puyallup man undaunted after losing Beatles mural in fire."

Headline in The Herald Tribune, which also has "Cartoonist grew up in Gig Harbor, lives in Auburn and likes unicorns."

September 27, 2015

Super blood moon.

"It’s a combination of curiosities that hasn’t happened since 1982, and won’t happen again until 2033."
“You’re basically seeing all of the sunrises and sunsets across the world, all at once, being reflected off the surface of the moon,” said Dr. Sarah Noble, a program scientist at NASA.

The coldness and the hotness — Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina on "Meet the Press."

On "Meet the Press" today (which began with an interview with Hillary). Brooks said:
Sometimes she's campaigning like she's in Napoleon's march on Moscow, just like a trudge through the winter. This was a little more upbeat, a little more fun...
A little more fun than this...

Brooks continues:
She's basically has a defensive posture. And that means she's erecting walls, not trusting people, and there's no romance. People, especially this year, they want a little romance, they want a lot of ideological action going outward. But she's on the defensive. And so that's the core problem. It's not the emails. Nobody's going to disqualify her as president because she used one server versus another. That's not a real scandal. It's her attitude.
Later, asked whether Hillary Clinton is "in tune with the mood of the electorate," Andrea Mitchell says she is not because...
She's not angry enough. She's not-- And it's hard for her to be angry because then you've got, you know, Donald Trump saying, "She's shrill," which is a sexist word, let's face it. But she has to get around that. But the anger, the passion is all on people going on the attack, whether it's, you know, whether it's Donald Trump, whether it's Carly Fiorina, or whether it's Bernie Sanders.
"Shrill," yeah, it is used to push women back, but Carly Fiorina is a woman, and she's not cowed at all. She, too, was interviewed earlier in the show, right after Hillary, and she was fierce, utterly on the attack, especially as Chuck Todd tried to get her to concede that she'd misstated what she thought she saw in that harvest-the-brain Planned Parenthood video. Watch it:

Why won't she concede that the fetus we see is stock footage, intercut to increase the emotional impact of the story that is related by a witness? I say it's a deliberate trap. The video makes us feel we saw the event. One could be wrong, and maybe eventually Carly will say she did look back and sees now that she was conflating the image with the spoken account. But until then, she's creating pressure on everyone to view the video for themselves, and once people do that, most will be horrified by the story and want to know if it's true, and those who want to say but Carly was wrong about seeing the incident in the video will seem morally unbalanced, perhaps monstrous. That's what you want to talk about?!

"The other party doesn’t want to run against her. And if they do, they’d like her as mangled up as possible."

"And they know that if they leak things and say things, that that is catnip to the people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care, or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America."

Bill Clinton says, and if only Hillary could speak so aptly and succinctly, she'd have the presidency clinched by now. Since we're talking about China state dinners this morning, here are Bill and Hillary at the China state dinner in 1997:

ADDED: As I was working to complete this post my way, Meade — who'd sent me the link to the article — goaded me to look at the last line — which I'd not yet read — because he thought I'd have the same association with it that he had. The last line — which I'm only reading after I copy it here — is:
But when Mr. Zakaria asked if the questions about Mrs. Clinton’s emails were a “Republican plot,” Mr. Clinton resisted the term.

“No, I’m not going there, because that’s what the — it’s not a — a plot makes it sound like it’s a secret,” he said. “I think that — that there are lots of people who wanted there to be a race for different reasons. And they thought the only way they could make it a race was a full-scale frontal assault on her. And so this email thing became the biggest story in the world.”
Meade is out walking the dog, so I can't check if my answer is right, but I know it's right:

"This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

"Hundreds of predominantly Iraqi migrants who have travelled through Europe to reach Finland are turning back..."

"... saying they don't want to stay in the sparsely-populated country on Europe's northern frontier because it's too cold and boring."
"You can tell the world I hate Finland. It's too cold, there's no tea, no restaurants, no bars, nobody on the streets, only cars," 22-year-old Muhammed told AFP....
Too cold, with the temperature only going up to about 50°, which is 10° colder than Iraq in the dead of winter, so the prospect of winter in Finland must be terrifying. The fear of a lack of crowds is harder to understand, but think about it. There are Americans who live in New York City who would be freaked out by Nebraska. Factor in the temperature change, and it's like moving an American man from Miami to North Dakota. He'd probably complain just like 22-year-old Muhammed.

"Boehner’s departure *not* bigger than Cantor loss. Cantor a terrifying vote of the people."

 Says Mickey Kaus, disagreeing with a CNN piece that says: "Boehner's departure might be the conservative right's most famous get yet -- even bigger than the coup against his former lieutenant Eric Cantor in a primary election in 2014."

"Jackie O had nothing on this First Lady. Wow! Michelle can be a stunner (in addition to a very classy lady)!"

"You took my comment. I wholeheartedly agree. While Jackie Onassis was certainly beautiful, Michelle Obama outshines her easily."

Over-the-top comments at that WaPo on the Robin Givhan piece "Diplomatic fashion crisis averted: Michelle Obama wears Vera Wang to China state dinner." The "crisis" was that Mrs. Obama got criticized, at the 2011 China state dinner, for wearing a dress from a British designer and at this state dinner she was wearing a dress from an American designer. The designer Vera Wang responded (as quoted in WaPo):
“It is such a privilege, as an American of Chinese heritage, to have dressed first lady Michelle Obama for this state dinner honoring President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan, of the People’s Rebublic of China,” tweeted Wang.
The typo "Rebublic" may be funnier than the fawning Jackie-disrepecting in the comments. By they way, when everyone else just says "China" and you're operating within the 140-character limitation of Twitter, why would you even attempt to write "People’s Republic of"? I guess it's that theater of pompous dignity that people assume when accepting honors. I'm privileged at the honor and honored at the privilege... blah blah blah. If we were at the Oscars music would play to tell you that's enough, and I love that Twitter is right there from the very outset, saying, okay, you've said enough, now get out of here. Go rebubble elsewhere. Twitter is not a Rebabble-ic.

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It's not even 6 in the morning and I have 2 more things to say about that article.

1. Michelle Obama's 2011 dress was blazing, daring, almost wacky. The new dress was utterly sedate. As Givhan put it: "It exuded Hollywood glamour of the sort that has long defined the red carpet. And Obama’s hair, styled in gentle waves and cascading down her right cheek, underscored the dress’s mood of old-fashioned stardust." In other words, pointedly old-old-fashioned. Givhan swathes Mrs. Obama in praise. There's no commentary at all on what I would call the squelching of Michelle Obama's exuberance and modernity.

2. I enjoyed the picture — the 4th photo at the first link — of Michelle adjusting Obama's tie. He's got a very cute expression on his face. You could say he's affecting a little-kid attitude just as his wife is tending to him, causing her to look more like his mother than his wife. But I'm going to say: playful, adorable, charming. And it's true (Deal with it!): The man is the most charming person to arrive on the national stage since JFK. I won't say JFK had nothing on this President or While JFK was certainly charismatic, Barack Obama outshines him easily. That goes too far.