July 28, 2014

Based on the average American man's waist measurement, the top-selling size pants should be 38, 39 or even 40.

But it's 34, and I think you know why.

No, it's not that the bigger men get the less likely they are to buy pants.

It's that men don't wear pants at the waist level. The belly floats free, above the so-called waistband.

"The East Bay School is not a traditional boys school, aimed at reinforcing typical ideas of what it means to 'be a man.'"

"The school's director, Jason Baeten, says that the goal is instead to create an educational space where boys can make mistakes, be vulnerable and learn to be self-reliant."
Baeten says, "We all came together and decided what we wanted our graduates to look like, what qualities we wanted them to have. So, things like: respects women, flexible, resilient — all of these."

One of the ways that the school is trying to upend tradition is by re-inventing shop class for the 21st century. In fact, they don't even call it "shop." At the East Bay School for Boys, it goes by a different name: "work."

David Clifford, the school's director of innovation, explains why: "We moved away from the language of shop because it has a history behind it, where for decades now, shop has been considered second or third tier in education, where first tier is academics."
This school is in Berkeley, California, and the report is from NPR.

How to trick me into reading another article about Frida Kahlo.

Tease it with the line "Is she the queen of the selfie?"

I refuse to link to that. I'm annoyed at myself for clicking on that.

And that on a morning when I actual read — more or less — an article written by a philosopher about a book written by a philosopher about — more or less — selfies.

If I were more self-absorbed, I'd hate myself.

Who wins in an argument over the meaning of a word?

The word is "feminism."

Do we have to talk about talking about impeachment?

Who started it?

Who benefits?

"A woman's bloodcurdling screams as an iceberg collapsed near her boat has seriously split web opinion."

The "Run, Rick, go - GO!" viral video.

"I said, ‘Is he aggressive?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, everything I own is aggressive.'"

Neighbor, quoted in a death-by-dogs article.

Sarah Palin TV.

Only $9.95 a month.

Too expensive. Even if you like her.

Don't you think?

ADDED: She's a propagandist. What's the point of making people pay for propaganda? One answer might be: So your consumers don't perceive it is propaganda. Another might be: Because you're a failed propagandist, in a fading, failing phase, which you're trying to monetize. 

"But what does Kerry do? He adopts Hamas’s position..."

"... undermining both Israel and Egypt, in putting out a proposal that would let Hamas keep its remaining missiles and tunnels. The Israeli government decried this as a 'capitulation' to Hamas and was understandably 'outraged.' In a tenure filled with gaffes, missteps and blinding vanity this is a new low for Kerry."

July 27, 2014

A pitcher picture.


Torturing turtles.

1. Instapundit links to a news report of 2 teenage girls arrested for torturing a gopher tortoise. They were caught because they made a video of their brutality and posted it on Facebook, replete with the voiceover "Burn baby, burn baby. Now you're scared of us, huh?"

2. David Sedaris wrote a story called "Loggerheads" revealing the way he and a friend, when they were young, treated some sea turtles. As an adult, looking back, he identifies with them, but here's the description of the fate of 5 baby sea turtles he found at a beach and installed in his aquarium and fed raw hamburger:
The turtles swam the short distance from one end of the tank to the other, and then they batted at the glass with their flippers, unable to understand that this was it—the end of the road....

73-year-old fashion designer Roberto Cavalli offends me and some Sufis.

1. I'm offended by his absurd shorts — cut-off stone-washed jeans. But I must say I got a kick out of the photograph of him with his 26-year-old girlfriend Lina Nilson because — she's also in shorts — the 2 have virtually identical legs.

2. The Sufis are offended that his new cologne, Just Cavalli, has a logo that looks a lot like a symbol the M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi school of Sufism has used for 150 years — and have had trademarked for 27 years. It spells out the words "Allah" and "Ali." According to Georgia May Jagger — the 22-year old model (and Mick Jagger daughter) who appears in the video ad — the perfume's logo is supposed to look like "The tattoo is the bite, the snake bite. It draws us together. And it’s basically the sign of seduction." That kind of talk tends to irk the Sufis, whose symbol is said to represent "peace, purity and the name of God." The Sufis lost in court on the trademark infringement issue, but it seems obvious that the Cavalli people would have selected a different logo if they'd seen that their effort to seem very sexy was going to get mixed up with Islam. Here's the ad:

And here are the 2 logos, side by side (with the Cavalli logo tipped sideways):

The solution to the problem of low turnout is to see it as a nonproblem.

WaPo's Dan Balz bawls about low turnout in "Everyone says turnout is key. So why does it keep going down?"


I don't mean Balz is boring, though, of course, he is.

I mean hooray for boredom in politics.

It's healthy. These people who are incessantly trying to excite us about politics should feel horribly frustrated by our boredom. Our nonresponsiveness to their proddings and ticklings is the best thing we've got. No amount of money spent on advertising can move us. We've seen it all, and we've got lives to live.

Some people don't arrive at enough of an opinion to want to add their tiny bit of weight to one side as their fellow citizens determine which candidate wins. Their nonparticipation has meaning that deserves respect. There are innumerable reasons for nonparticipation, and one should not presume that the abstainers are lazy or numb. They may defer to the opinions of others. They may dislike all the candidates. They may think the candidates are similar enough that it's not worth putting time into teasing out the differences. They may have other things to do with that time. Better things.

We were talking about boredom in politics yesterday in this post about Hillary. Buzzfeed's Ben Smith had been musing about whether Hillary! could get women jazzed up about women!!! and in lust for seeing a — first!!!! — Woman President. And I said:
I'm sick of inspiration and claims of historiosity. We should all be perfectly jaded by now. Inoculated. It's healthful and wholesome. And so what if watching the campaign day by day is "a boring, grinding affair"? 
The quoted words were Smith's.
That's a problem for Smith, running his buzz-dependent website, but it's a nonproblem for the rest of us. Think of the time you can save not reading the websites that try to make something out of the presidential campaign every damned day. What will you do with all that time? Instead of thinking about how what happened in the last hour might be history, you could, for example, read history. May I recommend the Amity Shlaes biography of Calvin Coolidge?

Coolidge was boring. Good boring. Let's be boring for a change. I want a boring President. Stop trying to excite me.
In the comments, Freeman Hunt wrote:
I have paid much attention to these elections in the past, and I see no difference that my attention has made. I therefore plan to devote very little attention to this election until it is time to vote. At that time, I will select the most boring, competent person who aligns with what I'd like to see done.

The End.
I've started a new tag: I'm for Boring. Like Freeman, I do vote, but I'm not voting because someone has excited me, and I don't think I ever have, now that I think of it. And I don't want other people to get excited. If that means they don't even vote, I respect that. Thanks for not getting excited and impulse voting. Politics should be boring. I want the government to be boring.

In the comments yesterday, cubanbob said:
I could be wrong but it seems you are hoping for Scott Walker for president. No one ever called him Mister Excitement and he does appear to be reasonably competent and law abiding....
And I said:
Walker excited the hell out of people around here.

I think Romney is nicely boring. Bring him back. That would be especially boring.
And John Althouse Cohen said...
Maybe the Democratic nominee should be someone who may not be the most exciting politician...
John linked here:

"I say that Hitler ought to have the peace prize," said Gertrude Stein in 1934.

She reasoned "because he is removing all elements of contest and struggle from Germany. By driving out the Jews and the democratic and Left elements, he is driving out everything that conduces to activity. That means peace."

That quote appears in a May 6, 1934 NYT article so beautifully written that I searched the Times website to find more by its author, Lansing Warren. I found the obituary published in 1987, when he died at the age of 93:
In 1926, Edwin L. James, the Paris bureau chief of The New York Times, hired him...

In November 1942, Mr. Warren and his wife were arrested by the Nazis, along with other American correspondents, consular officers and Red Cross workers. The Warrens were held in Lourdes and later in Baden-Baden, Germany. To stave off boredom, the prisoners organized a ''university'' in which some taught and others studied. Thanks to a sharp memory and a few English books, Mr. Warren taught English literature. He studied Italian.

The cat and the dog.

"By politicians’ standards, Obama projected feline indifference to the adoration he engendered. Biden reached for every hand, shoulder, and head."

From "The Biden Agenda" (in The New Yorker). And from the same article:
After Obama’s disastrously muted performance in a debate against Romney, the Vice-President prepared to face his counterpart, Paul Ryan, the then forty-two-year-old Wisconsin congressman, who has the eyes of a foal. Onstage, Biden wore a lupine grin.

Words that don't appear in the NYT editorial demanding a repeal to the federal ban on marijuana.

Smoke, smoking, second-hand smoke, lung, lungs, children, minors.

The word "minor" does appear:
There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco.
Oh, don't worry about the scientists! It's what you believe that really matters.

IN THE COMMENTS: Mark observes that the words "adolescent" and "under 21" do appear in the article. He's right. It's this one paragraph:
There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21. 
First, that doesn't address the problem of second-hand smoke imposed on others including children.

Second — and much more hilariously — it exhibits the very faith in prohibition that most of the editorial finds ineffectual and damaging and even racist. The title of the editorial is "Repeal Prohibition, Again." The main point is that prohibition doesn't work! How, then, is prohibition supposed to work on the under-21 crowd? These are the very people who are most enthusiastic about using marijuana and least likely to absorb and respond to the consequences of committing crimes. They have "adolescent brains" after all.

Third, why are "people" over 18 but under 21 lumped in with adolescents? If their brains are so badly underdeveloped, let's repeal the 26th Amendment. A better proposal would be to lower the drinking age to 18. If the Times is as concerned as it purports to be about young people getting a criminal record that messes up their lives, how about relieving them of that ridiculous burden? Instead, the Times would usher in a new era of 21-and-over people free to puff away on marijuana, while the younger people — the ones who most want to have a go at wrecking their heads and their lungs — get shunted into the black market.

Fourth, obviously, there will still be an illegal market. The under-21 people will demand it.

For an intelligent, in-depth analysis of the reality of marijuana legalization, read Patrick Radden Keefe's great New Yorker article "Buzzkill/Washington State discovers that it’s not so easy to create a legal marijuana economy." I know the NYT has a whole series of editorials on the subject planned, but so far, its presentation of the subject is exasperatingly unsophisticated. I might well go along with legalization as the better policy, but the Times approach is, to me, devoid of persuasiveness.

July 26, 2014

Why are daughters preferred to sons?

Apparently, based on "Why daughters might be better than sons," it's plain old self-interest — a prediction about who's more likely to take care of you.

The NYT finally gets around to those statements of Jonathan Gruber and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest cagily refrains from lying about lying.

I've updated my post from yesterday that criticized the NYT for not covering the statements the Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber had made about the consequences for citizens of states that failed to set up insurance exchanges. These statements were the talk of the internet yesterday because they ruined the spin on the purportedly nonsensical D.C. Circuit opinion in Halbig.
UPDATE: Searching for "Jonathan Gruber" at 9:42 a.m. Saturday morning — about 18 hours after I published this post — I see that the NYT put up an article "13 hours ago," dated  July 25, 2014, the same date as this post. The article, written by Robert Pear and Peter Baker is titled "Ex-Obama Aide’s Statements in 2012 Clash With Health Act Stance." Excerpt:
Mr. Gruber backed away from his comments on Friday. But the remarks embarrassed the White House and could help plaintiffs in court cases challenging the payment of subsidies in 36 states that rely on the federal exchange.

“I made a mistake in some 2012 speeches in describing the tax credits,” Mr. Gruber said in an email on Friday. “It is clear from all my writings and modeling that I did over this same time period that tax credits are assumed to be available in all states. This is the only sensible reading of the Affordable Care Act and is corroborated by every single person who helped craft the law.”...

The White House played down the video on Friday, saying that Mr. Gruber had made clear in friend-of-the-court briefs that he supports the administration’s interpretation.

“His views on this are pretty clear,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “I think that he described those remarks as a mistake. But I’d refer you to his explanation for why he said them. I think what is clear is that he, like Congress, intended for every eligible American to have access to tax credits that lower their health care costs, regardless of who is operating their marketplace.”
The inconsistency between what Gruber said in the friend-of-the-court briefs in the current litigation and what he said in 2012 doesn't persuade me that he "made a mistake" back then. In 2012, the effort was to pressure and frighten the politicians in the various states so that they would set up the exchanges. Now, after so many states resisted that pressure, the effort is to preserve the federal exchanges that were set up. At both points in time, Gruber said what served the goals of the program.

What's more likely, that he "made a mistake in some 2012 speeches" or that he's lying now?

The Press Secretary Earnest isn't lying, but if you look closely at each of his remarks, you can see that he seems to know he's making a series of technically true statements that avoid asserting that Gruber is telling the truth now when he calls the 2012 remarks "a mistake." 1. Gruber's "views... are pretty clear." Check. 2. Gruber called his remarks "a mistake." Absolutely true. That's exactly what Gruber said. 3. Gruber's overarching goal has been to get health insurance tax credits to people. Again, Earnest is correct —cagily correct — because lying now about making a mistake back then is exactly what serves that overarching goal, just as saying what he said in 2012 served that goal.

Lying is a means to an end, and one can steadfastly adhere to one's end while changing your statements as needed to serve that end. That's what liars do! To justify their behavior by pointing to their dedication to a single end is only to explain the motivation to lie. Yet that's what Josh Earnest expects us to swallow.

"Clinton still hasn’t unlocked the only thing that could really turn a campaign into a movement... authentic excitement among American women at her historic candidacy."

"There have been blips of real, viral enthusiasm... But for all the ersatz hashtags pushed by would-be grassroots support groups, it sure hasn’t happened yet," observes Ben Smith.
But... Clinton shouldn’t rely on inspiration for her candidacy. There is, after all, another way to win. Perhaps she can’t run a campaign modeled on the Obama 2008 movement. The alternative is Obama 2012 — a boring, grinding affair that sold a nascent economic recovery, scorched the Republican, and plodded to the White House.
I'm sick of inspiration and claims of historiosity. We should all be perfectly jaded by now. Inoculated. It's healthful and wholesome. And so what if watching the campaign day by day is "a boring, grinding affair"? That's a problem for Smith, running his buzz-dependent website, but it's a nonproblem for the rest of us. Think of the time you can save not reading the websites that try to make something out of the presidential campaign every damned day. What will you do with all that time? Instead of thinking about how what happened in the last hour might be history, you could, for example, read history. May I recommend the Amity Shlaes biography of Calvin Coolidge?

Coolidge was boring. Good boring. Let's be boring for a change.

I want a boring President. Stop trying to excite me.

Stop talking about my heart.

Does Buzzfeed have a rule about the frequency of appealing to our heart? I was curious, after writing the last post and highlighting a Buzzfeed post-with-plagiarism called "7 Miracle Babies To Warm Your Heart Today."

Searching the Buzzfeed site for "heartbreaking," I'm guessed there is a rule against more than one usage per day. How many times can reader be expected to jump at the promise of a metaphorical collapse of a most vital organ?

I happened to click on "28 Men With Eating Disorders Confess Their Heartbreaking Secrets" and was pleased to see the author's name was Althouse... Spencer Althouse. Anyway, there was really only one secret: These men were anorexic and male.

Is your heart broken because these males had the additional pain of a problem usually associated with females? Maybe men should feel some special pain when they stoop to using a metaphor associated with females. Eh, Mr. Althouse?

Searching Buzzfeed for "heartwarming," I can see more than one on a single day, e.g., "Get Ready To Wipe Your Tears After You Watch This Heartwarming Short Film." I refused to get ready. Or to watch the short film. Leave my heart alone. And leave my eyes alone.

Can we get a moratorium on heart metaphors? It's not just Buzzfeed. It's everywhere. In a single short article at the NYT this month, I'm seeing: "That scene where the black girls were all talking just like old times in the bunk was heartwarming... 'My Taystee girl, you break my heart'... It’s heartbreaking, but having finally realized that Vee can’t be her mommy, she also looks more sane...." That's not sane.