October 25, 2014

The evening drive.


Goodbye to Jack Bruce.

The Cream bassist has died, at the age of 71.

Here's an hour of him showing you how to play the bass:

Did Chris Christie react to the charge that he was using his power as chair of the Republican Governors Association to undercut Scott Walker's reelection bid?

"The RGA, chaired by Gov. Christie (R-N.J.), has been under pressure in recent days to do more to help Walker, a tea party favorite who rocketed to political stardom after he curbed bargaining rights for most public workers in his state. The Weekly Standard reported Thursday that there were brewing suspicions on the right that Christie, as RGA chairman, has been “undercutting” Walker, his potential rival for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination."

That's from a Washington Post article noting that the Republican Governors Association has just put another $1 million into ads for Scott Walker's reelection. The headline of the article puts the emphasis on Walker's state of mind — "RGA puts additional $1 million into Wisconsin ad buys as Walker frets" — but I think Christie's is the more interesting mind about which to speculate.

Walker is trying to get reelected and the polls show a close race. That's a mundane objective reality. The subjective matter of how that feels to him — whether he "frets" — is dumb in the same way that it's dumb for reporters to ask, say, a person whose house is burning down "How do you feel?" The answer is already known: How do you think I feel? There's nothing about the subjective aspect of the story that isn't inherent in the objective aspect of the story.

But what's going on in The Mind of Chris Christie? That's where the subjective part of the story is complex and speculation-ripe.

Here's the above-referenced Weekly Standard article: "Does Chris Christie Have Scott Walker's Back?"
"The Center for Public Integrity reported Thursday that Walker and his backers spent nearly $6.1 million on ads through Monday, while Burke and her supporters ran nearly $6.6 million," the AP reported on Thursday. On Sunday, Walker told the Washington Post's Robert Costa: "We are always looking for more help. Our main help has to be the RGA." But according to the Center for Public Integrity, the Republican Governors Association has spent $5.9 million on TV ads in Michigan, where Governor Rick Snyder is up for reelection, and just $801,000 on TV ads in Wisconsin.

Why would the RGA spend more on Rick Snyder than Scott Walker?...
ADDED: Writing this post made me want to look the word "fret" up in the OED. The original meaning is to eat, to devour, referring to the behavior of nonhuman animals. It still has that meaning in the sense of a small animal — like a worm or a moth — consuming or wearing away something by gnawing at it. The figurative usage is very old, the passions and various irritants consume or wear away at a person's mind. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: "So many curiosities drive one crazy, and fret one's heart to death." The intransitive use — "To distress oneself with constant thoughts of regret or discontent; to vex oneself, chafe, worry" — is also very old, going back to 1551, first in a translation of Thomas More's "Utopia": "He..so fret so fumed & chafed at it."

I like the verb "fret," and use it a lot, probably mostly to make a person seem fussy and overly inward. But searching this blog to find how I've used "fret," I see the first thing that comes up is a fond tribute to an old Kinks song: "Don't You Fret." And there's a reference to the famous line from "MacBeth": "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more: it is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing." And, remember, MacBeth was already king when he said that. Chris Christie, on the other hand, is only the Thane of New Jersey.

At the Gold Leaf Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Should young women — in their 20s, with no children — be permitted to have the ultimate in birth control...

... sterilization?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists weighed in on the topic last year with an updated policy statement on the benefits and risks of sterilization. The statement concludes that it's both a safe and effective means of permanent birth control. "Women who have completed their childbearing are candidates for sterilization," it says — without elaborating on what, precisely, that means. Does it refer to women who have already had a child, or several, and have now decided they're done? Or could that category also include an 18-year-old woman who has determined she's "completed" before ever getting started?

A major area of focus for ACOG, and the OB-GYNs it seeks to counsel, is the question of regret....
Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
Kinda don't get why this is so controversial - there's nothing like the same sort of outrage over guys getting their tubes tied, even if they do it young.

(I joke, of course I know that endemic sexism is why.)
And somebody responds:
I think it's worth saying out loud, nevertheless: the patriarchy values women primarily on the basis of their ability to rear children and provide sexual pleasure to men. A young woman wanting her tubes tied is explicitly refusing to cooperate with her assigned role, and that is not looked kindly upon by the men who take it upon themselves to regulate women's bodies.
Should young minds be making such permanent decisions? Here's a BBC article "Is 25 the new cut-off point for adulthood?"
"Neuroscience has made these massive advances where we now don't think that things just stop at a certain age, that actually there's evidence of brain development well into early twenties and that actually the time at which things stop is much later than we first thought," says [child psychologist Laverne] Antrobus.
One usually sees this sort of expert opinion in the context of discussions of criminal sentencing, but it sprang to my mind as I read about a woman "explicitly refusing to cooperate with her assigned role" and resisting "the men who take it upon themselves to regulate women's bodies." That sounds as though it might be a somewhat immature way of thinking about your personal life, a temporary stage that you might develop beyond. But the decision to have a child is also permanent, and we completely accept young minds making that decision, and tubal ligation can be reversed (and IVF is also still possible).

"He's a hero to me... He's a fantastic humanitarian and that is how people should think of him."

"He wanted to be a doctor without borders from when he was a kid. It's all he wanted to do.... He didn't just want to be a doctor, he wanted to be a doctor without borders."

Craig Spencer's uncle is distressed to hear criticism of his heroically humanitarian nephew, who went to great lengths to do good, but also did some meaningless little things — riding the subway, going bowling — that he could so easily have avoided.

Megan Silberberger "heard the gunshots first and she came in running... She just grabbed his arm...."

Silberberger is the heroic young teacher who began to stop the Seattle school shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, and then came the shot that killed him.

At the Daily Kos, there's this headline: "Young, petite, UNARMED, female teacher stopped today's school shooter."

Fryberg shot himself in the end. That's what stopped him. It sounds as though Silberberger even tried to prevent that.

CORRECTION: Originally, I referred to Silberberger as "first-grade" teacher. I misread "first-year" to mean first-grade. In law school, "first-year" means the first year of school for the students, but I can see that the linked article was referring to the teacher's level of experience.

"When he ran for mayor, Bill de Blasio condemned police practices under which young black and Latino men were unfairly... charged with possessing tiny amounts of marijuana..."

"But a new analysis of state data shows that low-level marijuana arrests during the de Blasio administration have continued at roughly the same level as under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg."

(NYT link.)

October 24, 2014

"A lot of people have an impulse to be prejudiced. But at the same time, they're like almost everyone..."

"... in that they want to avoid being socially unacceptable. So they want to vent sexism and racism somehow — but only in ways that are considered socially acceptable."
And how can one do that? It's obvious: by expressing sexism/racism against men and whites only. If they'd been born long ago, they might have vented against women or blacks instead. That's why when I hear people expressing shamelessly anti-man or anti-white views, it doesn't strike me as a dramatic improvement over the expression of anti-woman or anti-black view....

"European Scientists Conclude That Distant Comet Smells Terrible."

"The European Space Agency has posted a full rundown of the comet's BO on its website. The mix includes ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), formaldehyde (CH2O) and methanol (CH3OH)."

4 looks at red.



Embarrassing premature exultation by Buzzfeed's Evan McMorris-Santoro.

"Watch A Republican Senate Candidate Sign A Young Woman’s Torso/'No pictures on this,' David Purdue jokes, as campaign staffers hold up signs in front of the camera," giggles nitwit Buzzfeed writer Evan McMorris-Santoro. Gotcha! Except you, Mr. McMorris-Santoro, were taken and you wanted to be taken, you wanted to hurt the bad old Republican, and you lapped up the story that you now have to choke down.

"CORRECTED: Dems Miss Insulin Pump In Video Of Perdue Signing Young Woman," reads the post now.

The Coeur d'Alene Hitching Post controversy comes in for a quick, soft landing.

What had happened was something I'd believed I could assure people was not going to happen, and I'm glad to see the local authorities — on receipt of a little push back from the country at large — gave matters a second thought and reversed their position:
The city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, says the Hitching Post, a for-profit wedding chapel owned by two ministers, doesn't have to perform same-sex marriages.

The city has been embroiled in controversy ever since the owners of the Hitching Post sued the city. They say a city anti-discrimination law threatened to force them to marry same-sex couples now that gay marriage is legal in Idaho....

Initially, the city said its anti-discrimination law did apply to the Hitching Post, since it is a commercial business. Earlier this week, Coeur d'Alene city attorney Mike Gridley sent a letter to the Knapps’ attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom saying the Hitching Post would have to become a not-for-profit to be exempt. But Gridley said after further review, he determined the ordinance doesn’t specify non-profit or for-profit.
And let that be a lesson to everyone. Remember Coeur d'Alene. Don't redo that controversy. It's been resolved correctly now, and nobody ought to make that mistake again. There now, can we all live in peace and diversity?

At the Water-Sky Café...

P1130218 - Version 2

... float your ideas.

"There were people who were put on that list because the Nixon people — very shrewdly, I think — sense from their life style that they were enemies."

"Joe Namath has never said anything political in his life, but they knew he was unreliable. To them, a guy who will flaunt dames and have a bar and look the way he does is clearly a guy who'll flout authority, and they don't like that. There's a Nixon way of doing everything. And the essence of totalitarianism is precisely that: in a totalitarian society there's a state way of doing everything — mathematics, forestry, sex. I think that's what the enemies list was all about — enforcing a kind of orthodoxy in everything. I'm certainly not saying that these guys were Nazis, but they operated like Nazis. James Reston, Jr.... wrote to Albert Speer and got a very interesting letter back. Naturally, it's hedged with comments about how reluctant he is to comment on the American political situation, but the parallels Speer points to between Nixon and the Nazi White Houses are remarkable — the same loyalty to the leader without any consideration of ideology, the same drawing of power into a tiny, isolated group, even the same shielding of the leader by giving him only a prepared news summary. You know, I've read a lot of biographies of Nixon, and they all seem to agree on one thing — that he really was an uncommonly good poker player. I think I've figured out why. It's that he always looks as though he's bluffing. You've got three kinds up and he raises, and you look at his face and you think, 'Nah, he doesn't have the aces.' But he'd look exactly the same if he didn't have them. He's always bluffing. There's no reality. A strange man — but awfully dangerous."

Said Frank Mankiewicz, interviewed in the November 19, 1973 issue of The New Yorker. Mankiewicz, who had been Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary and who directed George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, died yesterday at the age of 90. From the obituary:
A scion of Hollywood, the son of Herman J. Mankiewicz, who wrote “Citizen Kane,” and the nephew of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who directed “All About Eve,” he grew up with an Algonquin West round table in his Beverly Hills household, regaled by movie stars, famous writers and comedians like the Marx Brothers.
What a lucky man!

I wonder who leaked that Eric Holder is exasperated about leaks?

"Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly not pleased about the recent leaks involving the grand jury testimony of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. According to CBS News, the attorney general has been 'exasperated' over what he calls 'selective leaks' in the case."

Leaking about leaking. Freaky. Meta-leaky.

"Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure."

Said Marie Kondo, author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing," the subject of a NYT article titled "Kissing Your Socks Goodbye/Home Organization Advice from Marie Kondo," which goes on to say:
Such anthropomorphism and nondualism, so familiar in Japanese culture, as Leonard Koren, a design theorist who has written extensively on Japanese aesthetics, told me recently, was an epiphany to this Westerner. In Japan, a hyper-awareness, even reverence, for objects is a rational response to geography, said Mr. Koren, who spent 10 years there and is the author of "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers."
"Wabi-Sabi" got me drifting off trying to remember that Jim Kweskin song on that album we always listened to in college. What was it? Ah! The album is "Relax Your Mind." The song is "Guabi Guabi."

And that's how we relax in America, some of us anyway. Much as I'd like my house de-cluttered in some way that I might find all the more relaxing by thinking of it as Japanese, I just don't care anywhere nearly as much as I did before listening to "Guabi Guabi." How organized are Jim Kweskin's closets? But back to Leonard Koren:
"Think of the kimono, and the tradition of folding... There is also the furoshiki, which is basically a square of flat cloth used daily to wrap packages. Folding is deep and pervasive in Japanese culture. Folding is a key strategy of modular systems that have evolved because of limited living space.”
And in America:

Let's fold scarves!

Ebola and the wet-dry distinction:

From the excellent New Yorker article "The Ebola Wars":
There are two distinct ways a virus can travel in the air. In what’s known as droplet infection, the virus can travel inside droplets of fluid released into the air when, for example, a person coughs. The droplets travel only a few feet and soon fall to the ground. The other way a virus can go into the air is through what is called airborne transmission. In this mode, the virus is carried aloft in tiny droplets that dry out, leaving dust motes, which can float long distances, can remain infective for hours or days, and can be inhaled into the lungs. Particles of measles virus can do this, and have been observed to travel half the length of an enclosed football stadium. Ebola may well be able to infect people through droplets, but there’s no evidence that it infects people by drying out or getting into the lungs on dust particles. In 1989, a virus known today as Reston, which is a filovirus related to Ebola, erupted in a building full of monkeys in Reston, Virginia, and travelled from cage to cage. One possible way, never proved, is that the virus particles hitched rides in mist driven into the air by high-pressure spray hoses used to clean the cages, and then circulated in the building’s air system. A rule of thumb among Ebola experts is that, if you are not wearing biohazard gear, you should stand at least six feet away from an Ebola patient, as a precaution against flying droplets.
Did you understand that wet/dry was the relevant distinction in the communicability of ebola? Do you think this distinction has been effectively, clearly, and honestly conveyed by the various experts and officials who are trying to keep us informed and at the right level of vigilance? I sure don't.

AND: This is what Rand Paul was talking about:

WaPo's FactChecker Glenn Kessler analyzed Paul's statement and gave him 3 Pinocchios!

SO: "ZWZCYZ Children fashion PM2.5 anti-fog haze antibacterial ventilative mask Ebola disease prevention... Ideal for Dust, Germs, Allergies, Smoke, Pollution, Ash, Pollen, Crafts, Gardening, Travel, Anonymity... Kids Size, Made In China..."

Can anyone explain the profound loserosity of Martha Coakley?

The Democratic Party's candidate for governor in the famously liberal state of Massachusetts weirdly lost a Senate race to a Republican in 2010, and now she's not just losing to her Republican opponent, she's 9 points behind in the new Boston Globe poll. Is this lady poison? Come on! It's just plain mean to be so rejecting of this poor woman. What's going on?

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, 2 new polls came out yesterday, one putting the Democrat Mary Burke a point ahead and the other putting the Republican Scott Walker a point ahead. That's a good way to make everybody feel respected. Good work, Wisconsin. Everybody is a winner. Of course, in the end, one or the other candidate must win. But it's basically a crap shoot, right? It means nothing. Just a tie, out here in the land of peace, love and understanding.

Unlike Massachusetts, where there's some mysterious anti-Coakleyism raging. That poor woman...

"The Hipster terrorists are attacking!"

Comment at a Facebook post linking to an article with the headline "NYPD Fatally Shoots Man Attacking Cops with Hatchet; Possible Terrorist Link."

UPDATE: The comment at the Facebook post disappeared. I assure you it was there. I don't remember the name of the Facebooker who wrote it. The post was put up by my son John, but the comment wasn't his.

AND: Jeralyn Merritt goes looking for the real story of Zale Thompson. Excerpt:
Zale Thompson is a big fan of Malcolm X. He believes the time has come for violent aggression against the oppressors of African Americans in the U.S....

The Arabic graphic on his FB page is one that appears on many non-jihadist Arabic forums. I don't think his attack was motivated by ISIS. The manner of attack (a hatchet rather than a gun) may have been, but he is not a religious zealot. His cause is racial oppression....