May 25, 2013

RIP, Alton T. Lemon — the Lemon of the Lemon test.

"Mr. Lemon’s lawsuit challenged a 1968 Pennsylvania law that reimbursed religious schools for some expenses, including teachers’ salaries and textbooks, so long as they related to instruction on secular subjects also taught in the public schools."
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, writing for the court in Lemon v. Kurtzman, said the law violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion.

The ruling set out what came to be known as the Lemon test, which requires courts to consider whether the challenged government practice has a secular purpose, whether its primary effect is to advance or inhibit religion, and whether it fosters excessive government entanglement with religion....

The lawyers for the plaintiffs put Mr. Lemon’s name first in the caption of the case.

That was no accident, Professor Laycock said. The case was decided against the backdrop of resistance to the desegregation of public schools, and the choice of Mr. Lemon, who was black, underscored the point.
Alton T. Lemon died on May 4th at the age of 84.

"The bottom line of a good job is that it makes you feel..."

"... like you have unlimited energy for your work because it’s so fulfilling."

"Proving that the library is more a monument to Laura’s artful airbrushing than W.’s artless leadership..."

"... there’s a swank Café 43 with fancier fare than W.’s cherished PB&J’s, and a gift shop featuring Laura’s favorite books, from Dostoyevsky’s 'Brothers Karamazov' to Truman Capote’s 'Music for Chameleons.'"

"Eleven people have been arrested around Britain for making 'racist or anti-religious' comments on Twitter following the brutal killing in Woolwich on Wednesday."

"A force spokesman said 'We have received a number of reports from local members of the public about tweets and Facebook comments that could potentially incite racial hatred and violence."
Superintendent Matt Goodridge said: 'Surrey Police will not tolerate language used in a public place, including on social media websites, which causes harassment, alarm or distress.'

"A man with a cow slurry fetish has admitted threatening..."

"... to kill a family who live at a farm where he has repeatedly rolled naked in animal muck."

"Slurry" is "A mixture of manure or farmyard waste and water; manure in fluid form," according to the OED, which provides these historical examples:
1965 Punch 22 Dec. 932/2 In a modern fattening house..the manure from several hundred swine falls through slatted floors into tanks beneath the building where a daily dose of water soon turns it into a forbidding quantity of evil-smelling slurry.
1970 R. Jeffries Dead Man's Bluff i. 5 He went through from the dairy into the herringbone parlour and stared..at the two days' accumulation of slurry.
1971 Farmers Weekly 19 Mar. 48/4 It takes one man about six minutes a day to clear away the slurry and a bit longer to put out the hay.

Frankenstein and the mermaid.

In Hollywood, 1948.

"Sorry about the smell of cat piss. That's why we have to cover everything in plastic."

Says Patti Smith, leading the Guardian interviewer through her house, which "looks as if it's been squatted by a class of particularly manky art students" and is "dark and dingy and stinks of cat."

Excerpt from the interview, 3 reasons why she gave up music performance and recording in the late 70s:

"25 Signs You’re Addicted To Books."

"9. ... You’ve even developed a crush on a bookstore employee based solely on their staff picks."

"Look how much fun we're having."

"The founder of Ashleymadison.com said new registrations surged a whopping 230% this week after millions watched..."

"... how a frustrated Marge Simpson stumbled onto an Ashley Madison-type website and then toyed with the idea of pursuing an extramarital affair on the eve of her wedding anniversary."
"When we see an anomalous spike we try and identify where it came from: was it marketing, media coverage or something else? We looked at what was on TV at that moment and it seemed to us to be very attributable to “The Simpsons,’” he said.

At the Allium Café...

Untitled

... it's allium time again.

Thong Cape Scooter Man...

... is not doing anything wrong.
“The sergeant told the school staff Thong Cape Scooter Man was free to ride on,” [police spokesman Joel] DeSpain said.

Baseball sleight of hand.



(Thanks to Lem for sending me that.)

"What is to be done about the low scholarly standards in the analysis of sex?"

"For all their putative leftism, gender theorists routinely mimic and flatter academic power with the unctuous obsequiousness of flunk­ies in the Vatican Curia," says Camille Paglia, reviewing 3 recent books about sadomasochism. As you might expect from Paglia, there's a lot in this piece about the limitations of post-structuralism, and how gender-studies folks need to learn more about biology, ancient cultures, and religion, but what got my attention was the detail about the sort of people that go in for these BDSM activities. Summon up a picture of the men and women who would be into this sort of thing. Then read this:
[Staci] Newmahr ["Playing on the Edge: Sadomasochism, Risk, and Intimacy"] captures how her subjects, even before they entered SM, viewed themselves as "outsiders" who lived "on the fringe of social acceptance." Most are overweight, but it's never remarked on. Several women are over six feet tall, generally a social disadvantage elsewhere.... Some men are small-statured or have vivid, angry memories of being bullied at school. Newmahr notes the "pervasive social awkwardness" in the scene, the "ill-fitting, outdated clothing" and the women's lack of makeup and jewelry. The men often have little interest in sports and own cars of middling quality.

... Newmahr [notes the] "affinity for complicated techniques and well-made toys." ... Newmahr recognizes an operative aesthetic of "geekiness as cool."
Is that what you pictured?

It "never ceases to amaze" Power Line "when 'mainstream' potentates" like GWU lawprof Jonathan Turley...

"... come to understand what conservatives have been saying loudly for thirty or forty years, but somehow pose as though they’ve discovered something new or are offering brilliant new insights."

"[T]he government is blurring the distinction between physical assaults and 'sexually themed' speech..."

"... in order to justify censoring and punishing the latter."
Most of academia’s leadership is too invertebrate and too soggy with political correctness to fight the OCR-DOJ mischief. But someone will. And it is so patently unconstitutional that it will be swiftly swatted down by the courts. Still, it is useful idiocy because, coming right now, it underscores today’s widespread government impulse for lawless coercion — the impulse that produced the Internal Revenue Service’s suppression of political speech that annoys the Obama administration.

Blood and grammar.

1. Questionable sentence in yesterday's Daily News: "But a bride-to-be who stabbed her fiancé in the heart just hours before they walked down the aisle has now been convicted of his murder."

2. I've read about a murder that happened long ago in which a woman was stabbed in the heart with a long pin, and because she neither felt it — perhaps because of a tight corset — or saw the blood — which oozed slowly into her dark-colored dress — she went about her activities for many hours before succumbing.

"There's been a spate of new pleadings in the George Zimmerman case."

TalkLeft explains it better than anyone else, as far as I know.

ALSO: "Slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin's cellphone texts and photos show him chatting with friends about marijuana, fighting and guns, new potential evidence shows."

May 24, 2013

"Jersey Shore" ladies try to make a scene with Governor Christie...

... and — despite the look of the headline at The Daily Mail — he doesn't let them:

"American Idol has nailed down its first alum turned judge: Jennifer Hudson."

"The other two spots are also intended for former Idol contestants: Kelly Clarkson and either Adam Lambert or Clay Aiken."

Is this something that can revive the old show?

At the Robot Café...

Untitled

... the hour is getting late.

"Do I really like reading?"

"Perhaps it is a failure of attention—there are times when I notice my own distraction while reading, and can, in a way, feel myself forgetting. There is a scarier question, one that might seem like asking if one is good at breathing, or walking. Am I actually quite bad at reading after all?"

"The Obama Administration fought to keep a search warrant for James Rosen’s private e-mail account secret..."

"... arguing to a federal judge that the government might need to monitor the account for a lengthy period of time," writes Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker.
The new details indicate that the government wanted the option to search Rosen’s e-mails repeatedly if the F.B.I. found further evidence implicating the reporter in what prosecutors argued was a conspiracy to commit espionage.

The Washington Post endeavors to explain the flag-displaying behavior of tornado-stricken Oklahomans.

"The flag-raising seemed to hearten the neighbors, as if to assure them they would emerge triumphant from this disaster...."
They are hung from skeletal trees denuded of leaves and bark, stuck in the doors of cars turned upside down and draped over pieces of twisted metal embedded in the ground.

The shot of red, white and blue flying in a landscape of ashen brown is startling and powerfully defiant, seeming to embody the mettle of the national anthem.
 ADDED: That prose is a far cry from "A View From Mrs. Thompson's."

"Almost every one of the pregnant women I spoke to had suffered a mandatory abortion."

"One woman told me how, when she was eight months pregnant with an illegal second child and was unable to pay the 20,000 yuan fine (about $3,200), family planning officers dragged her to the local clinic, bound her to a surgical table and injected a lethal drug into her abdomen."
For two days she writhed on the table, her hands and feet still bound with rope, waiting for her body to eject the murdered baby. In the final stage of labor, a male doctor yanked the dead fetus out by the foot, then dropped it into a garbage can. She had no money for a cab. She had to hobble home, blood dripping down her legs and staining her white sandals red.

Update on the case of the 18-year-old lesbian charged with a felony for having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

1. We talked about this case 2 days ago here. There were accusations of selective prosecution under the Florida statutory rape law, which require you to believe that an 18-year-old guy having sex with a 14-year-old girl would not be prosecuted.

2. The parents of the younger girl are upset about getting called homophobic (in the social media), and they defend themselves here. The video is worth watching.

3. Kaitlyn Hunt refuses the plea deal.

"No matter how many times they want to say, We’re vegans, we’re vegetarians,' that’s not the issue in this case."

"The child died because he was not fed. Period."

Said prosecutor Chuck Boring.

(This case goes back to 2007, but is the topic of a big discussion today at Reddit, in which many people are wondering if a vegan might conceive of breastfeeding as wrong.)

"You have no idea what people will do to themselves," said a veteran ER nurse...

... quoted in Mary Roach's "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal."
“Forget to remove the potato that you used as a pessary until you noticed a vine sprouting between your legs? Decided to do your own nose job at the bathroom mirror and replace the cartilage with a leftover piece from last night’s chicken dinner? You have no idea.”

"I’ve concluded that the goal of most college courses should not be knowledge but engaging in certain intellectual exercises."

Writes Notre Dame philosophy prof Gary Gutting, who teaches a freshman seminar reading "a wide range of wonderful texts, from Plato and Thucydides to Calvino and Nabokov."
We have lively discussions that require a thorough knowledge of the text, and the students write excellent papers that give close readings of particular passages. But the half-life of their detailed knowledge is probably far less than a year. The goal of the course is simply that they have had close encounters with some great writing>.

What’s the value of such encounters? They make students vividly aware of new possibilities for intellectual and aesthetic fulfillment—pleasure, to give its proper name....

We should judge teaching not by the amount of knowledge it passes on, but by the enduring excitement it generates. Knowledge, when it comes, is a later arrival, flaring up, when the time is right, from the sparks good teachers have implanted in their students’ souls.
I wonder how this applies to law teaching, law school coming later in the students' lives and Supreme Court opinions not being truly "wonderful texts" like Plato and Thucydides to Calvino and Nabokov (though they are kind of wonderful in their own special way). Even though I'm always imploring students to "engage" with the texts we must read in a constitutional law class, it seems a little nutty to expect them to become "vividly aware" or to find "fulfillment" and "pleasure" and "enduring excitement" (and yet somehow I feel entirely comfortable with that kind of nuttiness).

God "has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! Even the atheists.... Everyone!"

So says Pope Francis.
"(T)his ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God...
And that, simply, is blasphemy."...

To both atheists and believers, he said that “if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”
ADDED:

At the Sunlit Café...

Untitled

... you can talk all afternoon.

"In one case, a New Jersey bar allegedly mixed rubbing alcohol with caramel food coloring and served it as Scotch."

"In another, a bar is accused of pouring dirty water into an empty bottle and passing it off as liquor."
This week's action was the result of a year-long undercover investigation, in which agents from the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) used a new instrument — the True Spirit Authenticator — to analyze alcohol samples quickly and cheaply. Early this year, agents visited 63 establishments and ordered straight shots of premium brands of liquor, then slipped off with a total of 150 samples; 30 were not as advertised.
They called it "Operation Swill."

"She just showed a bit of motherly love. She just did what any mother would have done."

"She felt that could have been me lying down there in the street. She just felt for the poor guy. No man should have to die like that in the street with no-one around him. She came home afterwards and she just sat down and had a cup of coffee. But she doesn't want to talk about it. She did what she did and wants to get on with her life again. Of course she is upset, it was a gory thing for anyone to see. But she just wants to get on with things."

ADDED: We are admiring these women, but implicit in our admiration is the question — let's speak it out loud — Where are the men?

9-Year-Old Girl tells McDonald's CEO: "It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time."

More adulation for a child that performs a script that serves an adult agenda. I'm really fed up with the use of children in politics.

If this child were as smart as the people who are applauding her seem to think, she could figure out for herself what she wants to eat. But she's 9, and I'm sure she is trickable. She was tricked into delivering that speech.

"People with higher IQs are slow to detect large background movements because their brains filter out non-essential information."

"From previous research, we expected that all participants would be worse at detecting the movement of large images, but high IQ individuals were much, much worse."

I'm interested in this subject: Things really smart people are especially bad at.

"The impact dislocated his shoulder, but the Navy veteran just popped it back in and dragged his unresponsive wife to safety."

Surviving the Interstate 5 bridge collapse.

Judge cuts sentence from 11 years to 4 months because the sex offender suffers from "hypersexuality."

Does that make sense?

"I would encourage us all to be more optimistic, more relevant and more courageous."

"I think when we do, we win in Iowa, we win in Wisconsin, and all across this great country, and we transform this place we live in."

Scott Walker in Iowa.

"What is your most outdated device? Why haven't you upgraded?"

"Are you proud of, embarrassed by or ambivalent about this outdated thing?"

Several answers at the link (which is via Metafilter), but this one got me:
Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: “The ‘device’ that feels most outdated to me is my blog,” says Carr. “When I started the thing, in 2005, the personal blog was the iconic expression of ‘new media’; having one put you in the oxymoronic category of journalist-hipster. But the action has moved away from blogs, to the more conversational social networks like Twitter and their bite-sized bulletins. To be a blogger today makes you feel a little like Norma Desmond after silent movies were replaced by talkies: ‘I'm still big; it's the internet that got small!’”
He forgot to answer the question Why haven't you upgraded?

And, I will note, that he wrote a book. I thought the idea was most outdated. But then, the oldest thing you use might not be outdated at all. What very old technology do you use that you wouldn't disparage by calling outdated? What makes something "outdated"? Carr refers to where the "action" is. (I don't know that I care about that since I am old enough to remember the TV show "Where the Action Is.")


"A White House can powerfully shape other perceptions... For years the administration has conducted a concerted campaign to demonize Fox News..."

"... delegitimizing it as a news organization, even urging its ostracism," writes Charles Krauthammer.
Then (surprise!) its own Justice Department takes the unprecedented step of naming a Fox reporter as a co-conspirator in a leak case — when no reporter has ever been prosecuted for merely soliciting information — in order to invade his and Fox’s private and journalistic communications.

No one goes to jail for creating such a climate of intolerance. Nor is it a crime to incessantly claim that those who offer this president opposition and push-back — Republicans, tea partyers, Fox News, whoever dares resist the sycophantic thrill-up-my-leg media adulation — do so only for “politics,” power and pure partisanship, while the Dear Leader devotes himself exclusively to the nation, the middle class, the good and just.
The climate theory of Obama's responsibility. You don't need to actually connect anything to the President. You just show how he created a climate, and the underlings responded accordingly, as he can be said to know and intend that they would.

"Youth gang riots in the Swedish capital Stockholm have entered fifth straight night."

"Hundreds of mostly immigrant teenagers tore through the suburbs, smashing windows and burning cars in the country’s worst outbreak of violence in years."
“The problem is not from the Swedish government or from the Swedish people,” [said Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist]. “The last 20 years or so, we have seen so many immigrants coming to Sweden that really don’t like Sweden. They do not want to integrate, they do not want to live in [Swedish] society: Working, paying taxes and so on.”

“The people come here now because they know that Sweden will give them money for nothing. They don’t have to work, they don’t have to pay taxes – they can just stay here and get a lot of money. That is really a problem,” Carlqvist added.

“The police could do so much, [instead] they have told the public that they mean to do as little as possible. But they could go there and use water cannons, they could not let people out onto the streets at night. There are so many things they could do within the law – but they don’t do it,” she said.
The police won't protect the people who work and have their money redistributed to people who don't work and don't even like Sweden. It's the taxpayers who should be protesting, but they're humbly cowering hoping for police protection, and they can't even get that.

"British police have arrested two men on a Pakistan Airlines airplane after RAF Typhoon fighter jets escorted it from Manchester Airport to Stansted Airport near London."

"The plane was carrying 297 passengers from Lahore when it was rerouted. The Pakistani plane... was diverted over York and escorted back out over the North Sea and down the cost to Stansted...."

"Bachmann’s absurd claim of a vast IRS health database of 'sensitive, intimate' information."

WaPo's Fact Checker Glenn Kessler gives 4 Pinocchios to Michele Bachmann's stirring up of deep fears about big government.
The picture she has sketched is pretty frightening — that the “most personal, sensitive, intimate, private health-care information is in the hands of the IRS” via a vast database....

Since the health care mandate is effectively a tax — most Americans will either need to have health insurance or pay a penalty — the IRS was given an important role in administering various tax credits and penalties that are part of the law....

[T]he official descriptions of the “Data Services Hub” show that it is not what would generally be considered “a database.” It will not actually store information, but will be used so that health exchanges, which are being creating [sic] for the purchase of health insurance, can ask questions about application information. The Hub will be built by the Department of Health and Human Services, with the IRS in a supporting role.
All right then... "official descriptions"... it's a "hub," not a database... IRS only in a "supporting role."

"I'm only going to mention that great moment in film when Emma Thompson learns that Hugh Grant is not married."

That's the highest-rated comment in an article in The Guardian titled "Behind the Candelabra proves it: our greatest romances are gay/As Soderbergh's Liberace biopic hits our screens, why is it that homosexual love stories now work so much better than hetero?"

Reading that comment, I got chills, bodily chills, that preceded my conscious recollection that the reference is to the movie "Sense and Sensibility," which recollection caused me to get chills again, and then I recalled how I felt about that scene at the time, and then — I am not kidding — I got bodily chills again. I'm stunned to realize that every time I simply remember Emma Thompson at that moment, I have a physical response.

Here's the moment.

Huma Abedin: "A Wife With Powerful Ties Is an Unexpected Architect of a New York Comeback."

That's a front-page article in the NYT, illustrated by a picture of Huma and Hillary that makes them look like a single 2-headed entity. The Times, citing unnamed sources, calls Abedin "a seasoned operative well versed in the politics of redemption" and "a main architect of her husband’s rehabilitative journey, shaping his calculated comeback," who is exploiting her status as a "surrogate daughter to Bill and Hillary Clinton."

This is very interesting to me, because when I watched this video, Weiner's first in his mayoral campaign....



... I thought Anthony Weiner did a great job, presenting himself in the context of New York City, seeming to really belong to the city and its people and to care about it and to be ready to serve. And then there's Huma. She appears in a speaking role at the very end, and there's just something off and unnatural about her. Weiner comes across as a regular guy — he's got the actor skills of a politician — but she — in her seeming fakeness — betrays the reality: This is a remorseless machine of a power couple. She's the woman behind the man, and I'm sure they think that bringing her on camera should boost him. She's beautiful — or so we've been told many times — and she stood by her man. If she accepts him after what he did, that should be enough. That should cancel out his sexual misdeeds. If we hold those misdeeds against him, we're punishing her, which would make the opposite of sense, given that the wife is the official victim when the husband sexually sins.

It's like Bill and Hillary all over again, except that — unlike Hillary — Huma doesn't have the actor skills of a politician. She's a behind the scenes person, and though she can look fabulous in stills, in the video, she can't convincingly embody the Warm, Loving Wife character that Americans generally expect to see with a political husband, and that Anthony Weiner in particular needs.

The NYT article reminds us that Abedin "faced scrutiny this month about an arrangement that allowed her to earn money as a private consultant while still working as a top adviser at the State Department." We're told Abedin "fully intends to continue her work with Mrs. Clinton’s transition team" and that  "several political aides have been tempted to sign onto a Weiner mayoral campaign" because they want a connection that might get them in on the Hillary '16 presidential campaign.

The article begins with a description of how Abedin seemingly hoodwinked Chelsea Clinton into appearing in Anthony Weiner's first post-disgrace photo op: "When Chelsea Clinton wanted to make a low-key visit to the hurricane-stricken Rockaways last fall, she arranged to take a trip with her close friend Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton." Huma proceeded to exploit Chelsea's little trip for the re-introduction of Weiner. Now, I'm completely skeptical about whether Chelsea really wanted her visit to be low-key and whether she was surprised or tricked in any way by Anthony's horning in on the Female Empathy Tour of the Stricken. And I'd like to know the real truth of the interactions between the 2 power couples, Bill-and-Hillary and Huma-and-Anthony. I assume the Clintons know everything that's really going on, even as they want to look disconnected. It will be interesting to see what we will be able to figure out about all this, and I think Huma's lack of skill on video camera will be quite helpful in this regard. Bring on the Huma!

By the way, the NYT says "The couple live in a spacious Park Avenue apartment owned by a Clinton donor." But look at the kitchen in the background at the beginning of the video. Come on. That's not their kitchen, is it? I call bullshit.

On everything.

AND:  Rereading that headline... there's that word... that word that is the classic bullshit tell of our time: unexpected.

ALSO: I constantly mistype "Human" for "Huma." I can't tell you how many times I did that in the process of writing this post. But the one that I missed — and left up for 2 hours — was the one in the post title.  To err is human. To err in the post title is... superhuman.

May 23, 2013

At the Hosta Hotel...

Untitled

... it's not too early to settle in for the night.

TPM says "Obama Declares End To Global War On Terror."

That's the headline on the front page, linking to an article with the headline "Obama Defends Drone Strikes But Says No Cure-All."

So what the hell just happened? A big deal or almost nothing? I assume Obama wanted to appease the doves, but are they appeased and, more important, should they be appeased? I feel like TPM doesn't even know what to think. When I heard Obama's articulation of the drone policy, I thought it sounded like he was trying to say something that the left would like, but that in fact he reserved for himself all the power he needed to do anything he wanted to do, that is, that nothing had changed.

"As frustratingly late as it was — Mr. Obama could and should have said years ago much of what he said today..."

"... there is no underestimating the importance of that statement."

So say the editors of The New York Times.

No underestimating?! What?

So if I say Obama's speech is the least significant thing ever said in the history of mankind, I'm still not underestimating it?

The editorial ends:
There have been times when we wished we could hear the right words from Mr. Obama on issues like these, and times we heard the words but wondered about his commitment. Today was not either of those moments.
There have been times when I have read the Times and wondered why the Times was putting things in those words and times when I have read the words out loud in an effort to hear whether these words were the right words. Today was both of those moments.

ADDED: Language Log has a post "Overestimating, underestimating, whatever."
It started when a friend, in conversation, said something like "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. [pause] Or overestimating. Whatever."

Plantsportation.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Things we got today, at The Flower Factory.

"I believe we may have reached 'peak bullshit.' And that increasingly, those who push back against the noise and nonsense..."

"... those who refuse to accept the untruths of politics and commerce and entertainment and government will be rewarded. That we are at the beginning of something important."
We see it across our culture, with not only popularity but hunger for the intellectual honesty of Jon Stewart or the raw sincerity of performers like Louis CK and Lena Dunham....

I believe Barack Obama represents this movement, that the rise of his candidacy was in part a consequence of the desire for greater authenticity in our public life.....

WaPo article "On IRS issue, senior White House aides were focused on shielding Obama" seems to be about throwing White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler under the bus.

Here's the article.
[White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and other senior White House aides] agreed that it would be best not to share [news of an upcoming inspector general’s report on the Internal Revenue Service] with President Obama until the independent audit was completed and made public....

... Obama’s top aides were trying to shield him from any second-term scandal that might swamp his agenda or, worse, jeopardize his presidency....

But Ruemmler and McDonough’s careful plan for the IRS was upended on May 10, when Lois Lerner, a senior official at the agency, broke the news.... Senior White House officials were stunned to see the IRS trying to get ahead of its own story...
I don't know how much of this to believe, but the article strains to portray Ruemmler as narrowly legalistic:

Obama's 1979 prom photos.

Here.

ADDED: At the top of Memeorandum right now, we see this snapshot of what America is paying attention to:

Fred Thompson opines that Lois Lerner has waived her 5th Amendment privilege.

"As best I can remember, there is no case on point involving a congressional hearing."
Although court cases, both criminal and civil, are applicable, though somewhat different standards are applied, the general rule as to waiver is [the same]. Even in the court decisions, however, there is probably no case on point. As I stated, people simply don’t usually get themselves in this position. Also, the cases are very fact-specific.

"Working-class students struggle with 'composite masculinity,' study finds."

"Combine the 'chiselled out of rock' body of actor Ryan Reynolds, the intellectual prowess of writer Christopher Hitchens and the 'funny, quirky' demeanour of film star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and you have the perfect role model for male middle-class undergraduates."
But while bourgeois students can “seamlessly integrate” many types of masculinity, a study at two universities concludes that their working- class peers find squaring the many demands placed on the modern man more challenging....

Both groups say that brainpower is a part of masculinity, but as Nicola Ingram, lecturer in sociology at the University of Bath and one of the project leaders, explained, working-class students... "are partially struggling to pull [together] different forms of masculinity,” she said. “The middle-class men on the other hand seamlessly integrate [them]…to create a ‘composite masculinity’. This…allows them to be many different types of men at once, although they emphasise ‘intellectual masculinity.’”

One middle-class interviewee spoke of admiring how the late Mr Hitchens threw “his weight around intellectually” on debate shows, adding that the way he talked with female panellists showed “intellectual masculinity.” This kind of attitude “belies an assumption of entitlement to dominance,” according to Dr Ingram, and was “arguably a refashioning of traditional male hegemony.”
Do you know how to be dominant the Christopher Hitchens way?  You have to crush the opposition through the force of your ideas not out of the feeling that you must win because you are the man.

Has feminism made it much harder for lower class men to do well in life?

"9-year-old slams Rahm over Chicago schools."

Drudge has been linking to this item at Salon:
"We are not toys, we are not going down without a fight ... This is racism," boy tells mayor over closures
We're expected to think wow, what a great kid.

I've watched the video, and my reaction is: Adults taught him a speech. He's being used as a political puppet. I've seen far too much of the use of children in politics — click my "using children in politics" tag — and I don't like it. I think it's especially bad to teach a child to yell angrily at another person and to exhibit hostility, and it's bad for us to express enthusiasm about a child who's good at giving the scripted performance. This is not how children should be taught. Ironically, the topic under discussion is education.

I've seen this before, in Wisconsin, with children taught to chant or sing the adults' hostility toward Gov. Scott Walker. I don't like when children are used to sing the praises of a politician either. We all know the absurd children's choirs singing about Barack Obama as if he's a divinity. But teaching children to perform hatred is another matter. Children need to learn about policy and politics over time, so that they understand the substance of the issues and can make their own choices.

It's really awful to see a 9-year-old used as a political mouthpiece and cheered as he yells rudely at an adult authority figure. He's also been taught to believe that he is hated because of his race — "this is racism" — and that the proper reaction is violence — "we are not going down without a fight." What a truly sad appropriation of youth!

"Right Wing News emailed more than 204 right-of-center bloggers and asked them to rate 75 prominent people on the Right."

"51 of them responded."

I responded to this poll, even though I didn't like that the middle category — between "admire"/"greatly admire" and "dislike"/"greatly dislike" — was "no opinion." I was forced to check "no opinion" for a lot of people that I had an opinion about. My opinion was I'm in the middle. (But then, am I "right-of-center"?)

By the way, the most admired person was Clarence Thomas, followed by (tie) Thomas Sowell and Mark Steyn. The least admired is Megan McCain.

"Net Numbers (Positive - Negative) For 2016 Presidential Contenders":
12) Chris Christie (-11)
11) Jeb Bush (4)
10) Marco Rubio (21)
9) Jan Brewer (25)
8) Condi Rice (31)
7) Rick Perry (33)
6) Paul Ryan (37)
5) Sarah Palin (39)
3) Rand Paul (40)
3) Scott Walker (40)
2) Bobby Jindal (43)
1) Ted Cruz (45)

May 22, 2013

At the Big Sun Café...

Untitled

... you can shine all night.

"Obama needs to stop lecturing predominantly black audiences, some supporters say."

Writes Vanessa Williams in The Washington Post.
Obama has been making this point — and stirring controversy — since he was a candidate in 2008. Jesse Jackson Sr. was incensed by what he saw as Obama’s “talking down to black people,” yet it was Jackson who was criticized. Many in the black community believed that Obama’s chastisements were necessary to make himself politically palatable to white voters.

The president’s most recent such remarks — there were only a few Sunday, but they were widely reported — triggered a debate on blogs and social media that, in part, asked why Obama continued his lecturing.
To be fair, Jackson was criticized because he added — with a brusque cutting gesture — "I want to cut his nuts out." The metaphor of brutal violence made it easy to discount Jackson's message at the time.

"Phonetic description of annoying sounds teenagers make."



Text — in case you didn't memorize all that " Creaky-voiced long alveolar glide with mid front unrounded vowel and glottal stop" business — here. Via Metafilter.

ADDED: And if you enjoyed that guy — whose name is James Harbeck — here are all of this videos. I enjoyed "8 odd sounds from other languages that you could never make except you probably already have":



(Somehow, I found it irresistible to make all these sounds!)

"This is courage of the highest order, it sounds as if these members of the public are not soldiers, not policemen, not people whose duties demand this..."

"... they are extremely courageous people and that courage deserves to be recognised at the highest level."

As the police took 20 minutes to arrive, some women did extraordinary things.

"A complex and secretive algorithm chooses which reviews to display on Yelp.com."

"Some small business owners say they feel pressured to advertise with Yelp for favorable filtering."

"I'm offended by a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America’s greatest success stories."

"If anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress... I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple. The Congress should be on trial here for creating a Byzantine and bizarre tax code."

"You know when fluoridation began?...1946. 1946, Mandrake."

"How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works."

From the comments at "Fluoridation fails in Portland by 20-point margin."

Issa says Lois Lerner waived her right against self-incrimination...

... by making an opening statement before invoking her Fifth Amendment privilege. She asserted: “I have not done anything wrong.... I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former federal prosecutor, said Lerner lost her rights the minute she started proclaiming her innocence, and that lawmakers therefore were entitled to question her. But Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland said hearing rules were not like those of a courtroom.

During the incident, Issa did not flat-out say whether or not Lerner had indeed waived her rights but instead tried to coax her into staying by offering to narrow the scope of questions.

By the afternoon, Issa was taking a harder stand. “The precedents are clear that this is not something you can turn on and turn off,” he told POLITICO. “She made testimony after she was sworn in, asserted her innocence in a number of areas, even answered questions asserting that a document was true … So she gave partial testimony and then tried to revoke that.”

"Why are they killing these children without any trial or investigation?" asked Zubeidat Tsarnaeva...

... the mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, after an FBI interview with a man in Florida ends with the government officials — investigating the man's connection to the Boston bombing — shooting him dead.
The officers had been interviewing [Ibragim] Todashev in his apartment for some time when he tried to attack them, [a federal law enforcement official] said....

"In our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments they don't care about you."

"You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns you think politicians are going to die? No it's going to be the average guy, like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so can all live in peace."

ADDED: "They... stood around, waving knives and a gun, asking people nearby to take pictures of them 'as if they wanted to be on TV or something.... In my opinion, they were waiting for the police to arrive to be shot by the police. That's the only thing I can think.'"

"What might it mean for conventional structures if women could control, with a prescription, the most primal urge?"

"So many things, personal and cultural, might need to be recalibrated and renegotiated, explicitly or without acknowledgment. The cumulative effect of all those negotiations could be hugely transformative, in ways either thrilling or threatening, depending on your point of view."

"Viagra meddles with the arteries; it causes physical shifts that allow the penis to rise. A female-desire drug would be something else. It would adjust the primal and executive regions of the brain. It would reach into the psyche."

What it means if the Democrats believe "there will be hell to pay" if there's a special prosecutor in the IRS scandal.

The Washington Times reports:
Rep. Stephen Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, warned IRS and Treasury Department witnesses before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform not to stonewall congressional efforts to get to the bottom of the scandal.

“We know where that will lead, it will lead to a special prosecutor. … There will be hell to pay if that’s the route that we choose to go down,” he said.
Why will there be "hell to pay"? The Democrats have been saying a few low-level functionaries adopted a misguided policy and the Republicans are playing politics. If they really believe that, they should expect a neutral arbiter to vindicate their version of the story.

So if they think there will be "hell to pay," then I infer: 1. The Democrats' version of the story is itself political spin, 2. It is playing politics to say the Republicans are playing politics, and 3. The neutral arbiter will tell something close to the Republicans' version of the story (in which case Democrats will be deprived of the excuse that the Republicans are playing politics).

"A far-right French historian has killed himself at the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after declaring..."

"... that more radical action was needed in opposition to same-sex marriage in France."
Dominique Venner, 78, walked into the building at 4pm and put a letter on the altar before shooting himself through the mouth, according to local media reports. Hundreds of visitors were immediately evacuated from the site, which is the most visited Catholic monument in Paris.

The motive for the suicide and the contents of the letter were not immediately clear, although Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right Front National, tweeted her "respect" for Venner and said his death was an "eminently political" gesture.
Disgusting. You can't stand on traditional Christian values and commit suicide (and desecrate an altar). That's completely incoherent. Despicable.

Chimborazo!

Baotou!

"In case you missed it, there's some news out of Colorado that's better than hot pancakes and syrup. (If that's even possible.)"

Email, received just now, from Donna Brazile, the longtime Democratic Party character, identified in the email as Vice-Chair for Voter Registration and Participation/Democratic National Committee.

What subdivision of the supposedly sophisticated Democratic Party database am I in that my email address got selected for this especially folksy presentation of the news? Does the Democratic Party think I look fat? Does it see me as self-indulgent and pleasure-seeking? Does it assume I'm the kind of person who won't find it offputting to use Donna Brazile as the African American woman coming at me with a plateful of comfort food? And why pancakes? If I were cooking up this propaganda, using Brazile as the email signatory, the last comfort food I would choose is pancakes! And syrup... Like that's going to stir up sweet, mystic childhood memories without causing me to think that's racial and wrong.

(Cue the usual: If a Republican had done it....)

ADDED: Full text of the email:

1. Chelsea Clinton running NYU's "multifaith" institute. 2. The Harvard Kennedy School granting a PhD for a dissertation about the IQ of Hispanic immigrants.

1. We learn today that Chelsea Clinton will take on "a 'multifaith' role as co-founder and co-chair of [NYU's] brand-new Of Many Institute, a program to "develop multifaith dialogue and train multifaith leaders." It should be noted, in this context, that Chelsea Clinton's degree is a Master's of Public Health, and that she has been teaching at the graduate level at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health.

2. Yesterday, we were talking about the Harvard students who are petitioning for an investigation into how the Harvard Kennedy School accepted a dissertation that reached conclusions that the students regarded as unethical, because it supported discrimination against persons of a particular ethnicity on the ground of purported lower intelligence.

Let's talk about these 2 stories together. Here are 3 highly prestigious institutions — NYU, Columbia, and Harvard — and schools/institutes within them that most of us would assume have a political slant in the liberal direction:  NYU's Of Many Institute, Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, and Harvard's Kennedy School.

Both stories make the institutions look weak — NYU and Columbia for taking in the Clintons' daughter — and Harvard for awarding degrees for weak dissertations.

Be clear what I'm saying about Harvard. I mean to express no opinion about Jason Richwine's "IQ and Immigration Policy" dissertation. I haven't read it, and I'm not an expert in the field. I can't believe the professors at the Kennedy School liked where Richwine was going with his research, but I suspect that they went forward, approving his dissertation, because it wasn't any worse than the many  left/liberal dissertations they've approved over the years.

ADDED: Why is NYU's multifaith institute called "Of Many"? Is it based on "Out of many, one" — E pluribus unum?



AND: Do students at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health take courses with Chelsea because of the value of networking the Clintons? That's pretty valuable! Inference: you're a chump if you're paying high tuition and not buying access to power.

1. "I mean, that's a storybook, man." 2. "This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen."

1. Senator Joe Biden, February 2007.

2. Bill Clinton, January 2008.

Just 2 old quotes we had occasion to bring up in conversation around Meadhouse this morning. Storybook/fairy tale... the positive/negative description of Obama the Candidate. The story continues. Obama the Candidate continues. What we were talking about was the idea that Obama is operating at a very high level of politics, not just high as in The President is at the top of our political structure, but high as in We are gazing upon the great political genius of our time.

It might be true in a way that Obama is the great political genius of our time, in that he was great enough to make us think that, but it's heartening to see that the greatest political genius really isn't able to be that great in America. Or is that itself a delusion, and allowing us to think that we're onto him is part of the way in which we are duped and part of the workings of the genius? If so, at least I got far enough to be able to ask that question.

Why is Chelsea Clinton leading a big new religion program at NYU?

"The former first daughter has tackled what the school calls a 'multifaith' role as co-founder and co-chair of its brand-new Of Many Institute. The program is described by the university as aiming to 'develop multifaith dialogue and train multifaith leaders.'"
Back in September, Clinton — who’s married to banker Marc Mezvinsky — told Time of her desire to study faith and education: “With all candor, because my husband is Jewish and I’m Christian, and we’re both practicing, it’s something that’s quite close to home,” she said.

A rep for NYU told us that the Of Many program is not academic, but is a part of the university’s Center for Spiritual Life. NYU’s Web site says the institute has developed a “minor degree in multifaith and spiritual leadership” shared with the Silver School of Social Work and the Wagner School.
I have never associated Chelsea Clinton with religion. She has a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health and she's been teaching graduate level classes there.

But maybe the NYU "Of Many" concept of religion really is about "public health." Let's think about the interwoven nature of public health and religion — especially as the Clintons might understand it. When Hillary Clinton first emerged on the national scene, she was associated with religion. I remember a magazine cover — was it Tikkun? — depicting her as "St. Hillary" and lots of talk about "the politics of meaning," which was some politics-and-religion theme back in the 90s. And Hillary segued into public health in a way that we were supposed to understand, but didn't.

So here comes Hillary II, Chelsea Clinton merging health and religion. What does it all mean? How well will this lay the groundwork for a career in politics? I strongly prefer the separation of government and religion, and I don't want government to wield the powers of religion or powers over the human mind that are too much like the power of religion. And though government is going to have some role in public health, its growing and over-intrusive activity is disturbing. A politician who builds a career in health and religion should scare us. This is wedging very deeply into the realm of the individual — mind and body.

Here's some background reading: "All Politics is Cosmic," a 1996 article in The Atlantic by Lee Siegel, reviewing Michael Lerner's book "The Politics of Meaning." Excerpt:

Weiner's in.

Whip out your phallic jokes.

"Activists say authorities are unfairly targeting 18-year-old US high-school student because she is gay."

"An 18-year-old American is facing felony charges over claims that she had sexual contact with her underage, 14-year-old girlfriend...."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said [Kaitlyn] Hunt was being criminalised for behaviour that "occurs every day in tens of thousands of high schools across the country, yet those other students are not facing felony convictions … and potential lifelong branding as sex offenders."
An 18-year-old with a 14-year-old is going on every day? Is this charge of anti-gay prejudice cloaking what is really a movement to lower the age of consent (or to widen the age gap covered by "Romeo and Juliet" laws)?

Moore, OK is "the only city in the world to have taken a direct hit from an EF5 twister twice."

And the previous Moore tornado, in 1999, had higher winds (at 302 mph). The Moore tornado was wide — 1.3 miles — but not the widest tornado on record (which was 2.5 miles, in Hallam, Nebraska in 2004).

The anti-car message conveyed by those curbside rows of bike-share kiosks falls flat...

... when the gas-powered vehicles they impede are ambulances and fire trucks.
City workers swooped in Monday night and yanked out part of a bike-share rack blocking the front of a West Village co-op — just hours after The Post called the Department of Transportation over complaints that an ambulance crew had trouble getting to a 92-year-old resident in distress.
So... your tax money is used to install these things and then yank them out again. You might say: Just site them properly in the first place. But every time an old lady is "in distress" the right place for bike-share racks becomes the wrong place, The Post calls the Department of Transportation, and — once again — city workers must swoop in and yank out. 

"Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker: Why did we love him?"

More cogitation about instant YouTube stars of the lowly outsider kind — this time from Monica Hesse of The Washington Post. There are a lot of words here, but I don't think she makes any progress in the long-running game of Understanding the Internet. Her musings peak with: "It’s the issue of our responsibilities as viewers and our awareness of the latent toxicity in what we consume."

Our awareness of the latent toxicity in what we consume... hmm... yeah... suddenly I am aware of... why am I slogging through the verbal mush of another Washington Post column? What am I doing to myself?!

Like that, you mean, Monica?

"Petraeus’s role in drafting Benghazi talking points raises questions."

"Security at this annex was the responsibility of the CIA, not the State Department. But because the annex operated under diplomatic cover, its existence as an intelligence facility was classified...."

"Sorry, gays. Obama prefers Latinos to you."

"But thanks for all the contributions!"

May 21, 2013

"Why not raise the rim, to restore basketball to its proper form?"

"I am a purist at heart for this game, and it galls me to see the players today lack the proper fundamentals in passing, cutting, shooting, setting screens and, above all, proper spacing."

But consider this:
One of the unique aspects of the game, as created by Naismith, was the height of the baskets: when peach baskets were nailed to the railing of the running track at the Springfield, Mass., Teachers College one day in 1891, they were hung at 10 feet -- because that was how high the railing was. There was no more thought given to it than that.
Which way does that cut? You could say the baskets should be raised, because the original height was just happenstance, and nothing profound. Or you could say they should not be changed, because they were never calibrated to the height of the players in the first place.

The Althouse Amazon portal: provides warmth and reduces drag for faster shopping.

By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want and – while paying nothing extra – make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And even if somehow you forget to invoke your 5th amendment privileges we have no way of knowing it's you.

From the May 19, 2013 to May 20, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Blueseventy Skull Cap

"Woman Finds Dog Lost During Tornado While Being Interviewed."

"Top IRS official will invoke 5th Amendment."

"Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening — or why she didn’t disclose it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III."

Is it legal to...

Here's how Google tried to complete the search for me:
Is it legal to carry a knife in Wisconsin
to make moonshine in Iowa
to make moonshine
to flip off a cop
to own a fox
Is that special for me? In fact, none of those guesses is correct. I'd say "own a fox" is closest. Photos coming soon will reveal what my question was, and I would not actually do what I was wondering about.

ADDED: We've got a turkey that seems to be taking up residence in our backyard:



Untitled

"Boruch Spiegel, one of the last surviving fighters of the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943..."

"... in which a vastly outgunned band of 750 young Jews held off German soldiers for more than a month with crude arms and Molotov cocktails, died on May 9 in Montreal. He was 93."
“We didn’t have enough weapons, we didn’t have enough bullets,” Mr. Spiegel once told an interviewer. “It was like fighting a well-equipped army with firecrackers."....

At the Weeping Redbud Café...

Untitled

.... let's do the lavender twist.

What does it mean to say that one case is a "far cry" from another?

Here's the unanimous opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in Metrish v. Lancaster, released yesterday, which dealt with a principle of due process that I won't try to summarize. (There's a summary here, at SCOTUSblog.) I only want to talk about the expression "a far cry," used in Metrish to say something lawyers and judges often have reason to say: one thing is very different from another.
[W]e consider first two of this Court’s key decisions: Bouie v. City of Columbia, 378 U. S. 347 (1964), and Rogers v. Tennessee, 532 U. S. 451 (2001)...

This case is a far cry from Bouie, where, unlike Rogers, the Court held that the retroactive application of a judicial decision violated due process....
This made me curious about the expression "a far cry." This is one of these expressions that we use because it has a metaphorical feeling, even though we don't think too concretely about what the metaphor is. (This is what George Orwell called a "dying metaphor" in his famous essay "Politics and the English Language.") What is the image in "far cry"? I picture Lancaster, Bouie, and Rogers standing on hilltops in a landscape and see Lancaster — it's Burt Lancaster, by the way — hollering over to Rogers and Bouie on their respective hilltops, and Rogers can easily hear him but Bouie can barely hear him. That's a colorful alternative to saying Lancaster is much closer to Rogers than to Bouie.

Let's whip out the out the old (and unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary:
within cry of: within calling distance. a far cry  : a long way, a very long distance.

1632   W. Lithgow Totall Disc. Trav. (1682) ix. 396   Villages and Houses..each one was within cry of another.
1819   Scott Legend of Montrose iv, in Tales of my Landlord 3rd Ser. IV. 72   One of the Campbells replied, ‘It is a far cry to Lochow’; a proverbial expression of the tribe, meaning that their ancient hereditary domains lay beyond the reach of an invading enemy.
1850   Tait's Edinb. Mag. Feb. 75/1   In those days, it was a ‘far cry’ from Orkney to Holyrood; nevertheless the ‘cry’ at length penetrated the royal ear.
1885   Athenæum 18 Apr. 498/3   It is a far cry from the ascidian to bookbinding and blue china, yet it is a cry that can be achieved by Mr. Lang.
The ascidian — I had to look it up — is a sea squirt, and it's not yelling out to bookbinding and blue china, so this metaphor has been dying since at least 1885.

3 Pinocchios for White House aide's assertion that Republicans "doctored e-mails... to smear the president."

WaPo's Fact Checker Glenn Kessler looks at something Dan Pfeiffer said on 3 Sunday talk shows relating to the development of the talking points that Susan Rice delivered on 5 Sunday talk shows last fall.
[T]he reporters involved have indicated they were told by their sources that these were summaries, taken from notes of e-mails that could not be kept. The fact that slightly different versions of the e-mails were reported by different journalists suggests there were different note-takers as well.

Indeed, Republicans would have been foolish to seriously doctor e-mails that the White House at any moment could have released (and eventually did). Clearly, of course, Republicans would put their own spin on what the e-mails meant, as they did in the House report. Given that the e-mails were almost certain to leak once they were sent to Capitol Hill, it’s a wonder the White House did not proactively release them earlier.

The burden of proof lies with the accuser. Despite Pfeiffer’s claim of political skullduggery, we see little evidence that much was at play here besides imprecise wordsmithing or editing errors by journalists.

"Academic freedom and a reasoned debate are essential to our academic community."

"However, the Harvard Kennedy School cannot ethically stand behind academic work advocating a national policy of exclusion and advancing an agenda of discrimination."

A petition with 1,200 signatures collected by Harvard students, who seem to want an investigation targeting this one case, because the conclusion offends them. It seems to me the investigation ought to be much broader, into what the general standards are at the school. The students have a big interest in whether the degree means what it's supposed to mean, but the one dissertation they loathe ought to be presented as evidence that the school has low standards, and the investigation ought to range across the political spectrum. But the students are speaking in terms of which policies are ethical, and that sounds like they want a political standard to restrict research, which, ironically, would not be an ethical policy.

"But maybe he should have asked before the gallery opens. Everybody’s talking about it."

Well, if "everybody's talking about it," then the artist made a great decision.
[T]he residents of a glass-walled luxury residential building across the street had no idea they were being photographed and never consented to being subjects for the works of art that are now on display — and for sale — in a Manhattan gallery.
Key word: luxury.

A middle-class value — privacy — is challenged. But it's built into the scheme that only the rich have had their privacy invaded. The artist — Arne Svenson — gets his publicity in the major media. And to top it all off:
Svenson’s apartment is directly across the street, just to the south, giving him a clear view of his neighbors by simply looking out his window.
Easiest art project ever.
“For my subjects there is no question of privacy; they are performing behind a transparent scrim on a stage of their own creation with the curtain raised high,” Svenson says in the gallery notes.  “The Neighbors don’t know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my home into theirs.”

"Apple used a 'complex web' of offshore entities — with no employees or physical offices..."

"... that allowed it to pay little or no taxes on tens of billions it earned overseas, according to a Senate investigation unveiled Monday."
While the practice of using foreign operations to avoid U.S. taxes is legal and common among multinationals, Apple’s scheme was unprecedented in its use of multiple affiliates that had no semblance of a physical presence, Senate staffers said.
Why wouldn't Apple do what is legal to avoid taxes?
“Apple claims to be the largest U.S. corporate taxpayer, but by sheer size and scale it is also among America’s largest tax avoiders,” [Senator John] McCain said.
Isn't that exactly what you would expect?

"You know what has excellent continuity and no appreciation for story?"

Reality.

Linked by a comment to the Metafilter discussion the very funny "Star Trek Into Darkness: The Spoiler FAQ."

"The president’s approval rating, at 51 percent positive and 44 percent negative, has remained steady..."

"... in the face of fresh disclosures about the IRS, the Benghazi attack and the Justice Department’s secret collection of telephone records of Associated Press journalists as part of a leak investigation."

"Travel nightmare: Dakar, Dhaka — what's the difference? A wrong airport code sends travelers to the wrong continent."

"The code for the airport in Dakar, capital of Senegal, is DKR. The code for the airport in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, is DAC...."

Dhaka is 6,900 miles from Dakar. The first leg of the flight got them to Istanbul, where the screwup took place:
"When the flight attendant said we were heading to Dhaka, we believed that this was how you pronounced 'Dakar' with a Turkish accent"....

"Why is Facebook blue?... It’s because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green color blind..."

"... blue is the color Mark can see the best."

That factoid begins an article about the use of color in branding, which does not otherwise involve the topic of designing color images with knowledge of how it looks to people who see some but not all colors. The article gets into assertions about what women like and what men like. Both respond to blue and green and are repelled by orange and brown, but women go for purple, which men don't like, and men like black while women dislike gray. That's sort of interesting, but it's much softer information than the hardcore physical reality of red-green color blindness.

Is there software that lets you check what your design looks like to someone who's red-green color blind? One answer, I guess, is stick to blue. But it seems to me that there are many blues, including blues that lean toward red (before you'd say purple) and blues that lean to yellow (before you'd start calling it green). A person who's not red-green color blind might think that's a really lovely blue at the very point where it might look ugly to a person with red-green color blindness.

I've been thinking about this topic a lot because I've been losing my sense of smell, to the point where I'm smell-blind — anosmic — in some sectors of the sense of smell. It would be one thing to have no sense of smell at all, like complete color blindness. But when you have partial perception, you care about the part that you have, but you'd like a good experience with it, but other people, who may be providing the experience, don't know what it's like for you.

Nate Silver is #1 on Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business 2013."

Here's the whole (nicely displayed) list. Here's the big article on Silver:
Nate Silver is now trying to see what's coming next for him. He has just turned 35. His interest in politics, always more intellectual than emotional, seems nearly exhausted by the election season. "I definitely get tired of the politics stuff," he tells me. "Or at least I'm tired of it now. You basically have a lot of sociopaths and crazy people who work in the politics industry who are kind of enabled by it being such a strange profession. Just a lack of. . . ." Silver stops to reach over for a french fry, eat it, and think. "I mean, well, the fact that it's seen as so optional to actually be truthful?" It offends his sensibilities as a data scientist in pursuit of truth. "You know," he continues, "whereas business can be amoral, I think politics is actively immoral on many occasions. So people will ask if I will go work for a campaign and I say, 'No way.' I can make a lot more money working for a hedge fund and it would be a lot less actively evil. At least you're not trying to manipulate people's belief systems."
In my view, the way not to get tired of the politics stuff is to be, specifically, interested in the behavior of real human beings, with all their flaws. That they are unusually flawed human beings — "sociopaths and crazy people" — becomes a positive. You are observing and analyzing these people, who are manipulating and dissembling and lying. This does not conflict with your own love of the truth. You pursue the truth about their lies and manipulations.

May 20, 2013

"I get that there are some of my conservative brethren don’t agree that the tea party should protest tomorrow."

"They’re afraid that it will disrupt a winning narrative: the IRS targeting a vast array of American citizens based on political beliefs and religion. They’re afraid that the sight of tea partiers shouting slogans and waving Gadsden flags at IRS offices will provide the media squirrel the left needs to pivot."

Writes Dana Loesch (via Instapundit).

What a strange paradox it would be if finding out about the outrageous suppression of the Tea Party led it into self-suppression! It should be invigorated. Let's see how well they do it tomorrow.

There obviously are ways to do it badly. Instapundit warns tea partiers to look out for infiltrators. (Expose them!) And Loesch says:
I don’t want to see a single sign about Obama. I don’t want to see a single sign about Biden. Or FLOTUS. Or vacations. Or anything other than the overreaching power of big government. No signs on anything other than this malicious and criminal behavior was perpetuated by a government too big to be held accountable. It was carried out behind a [veil] of purposeful complexity.
So she's saying whatever you do, don't follow Saul Alinsky's Rule 11:
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
Loesch's rule is: Don't identify a responsible individual. Don't make it personal. Attack the abstraction.

"This should be noted: The very best day ever of the Althouse blog."

"More solid, informational, intellectual, thoughtful content than any day in my memory, going back three years. Good work."

Email received yesterday. Yesterday was the day with the bird theme. The day before was the day with the umbrella theme.

I'm quoting fan mail — or possibly faux fan mail, intended sarcastically — but I note that I've got my share of antagonists, and the umbrella posts have proved especially confounding for them.

"I’d never heard lyrics to a rock song like that before."

"We talked a while before we decided to get a group together and make a million dollars."

When Jim Morrison first read his song lyrics to Ray Manzarek.
Outwardly the two seemed so different. The strikingly tall, dark and handsome Morrison looked the part of rock star, while Manzarek, with glasses and comparatively close-cropped blonde hair, retained a more professorial look.
Ray Manzarek has died of bile duct cancer at the age of 74. Manzarek was the keyboardist for their group, The Doors, and if you know any keyboard riff from that era, you know his.

"We can, and many have, argue about whether the proposal that families eat more home-cooked meals is a sexist push 'back to the kitchen' for women..."

"... as well as a romanticization of 'the way things never were.' There’s value to that. While there’s no reason that the responsibility for meals should fall toward women, if they are the ones who absorb the 'guilt' of the message about home-cooked foods, then a sense that every night requires a freshly prepared gourmet meal on the table will become yet one more reason that women can’t 'have it all.'"

"A huge tornado, perhaps a mile wide, tore through towns near Oklahoma City on Monday, flattening homes and businesses..."

"... starting fires and sending residents scrambling to find friends and neighbors possibly buried in rubble. There were no immediate reports of injuries...."

Therapeutic robots.

Coming soon, to help you with your last few steps toward the grave.

At the Tree Shade Café...

Untitled

... come in here and talk.

"Since 1998, there has been an unexplained 'standstill' in the heating of the Earth's atmosphere."

"But when it comes to the longer term picture, the authors say their work is consistent with previous estimates."
The researchers say the difference between the lower short-term estimate and the more consistent long-term picture can be explained by the fact that the heat from the last decade has been absorbed into and is being stored by the world's oceans....

"There is other research out there pointing out that this storage may be part of a natural cycle that will eventually reverse, either due to El Nino or the so-called Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, and therefore may not imply what the authors are suggesting," [said Prof Steven Sherwood, from the University of New South Wales].

The authors say there are ongoing uncertainties surrounding the role of aerosols in the atmosphere and around the issue of clouds....

"If you look at the top 10 health problems around the world, they are much more common in men."

"But the current focus is predominantly on women's health."
[Sarah Hawkes from the University of London's Institute of Global Health] says that when you look at recent data, men lose three times more years of healthy living than women because of tobacco, alcohol and unsafe driving.

"It's cool to be a man that smokes and drinks — who drives a fast motorbike, or fast cars," she says. "If you were really serious about saving lives, you would spend money tackling unhealthy gender norms" that promote these risky behaviors.
So the "health problems" that have to do with men are personal behavioral choices. The focus on women is about pregnancy and childbirth, where health care is needed. In that view, what's wrong concentrating on women? That focus is really about the next generation, which includes males and females.

Any big Supreme Court decisions coming out today?

If so, we'll find out soonest by following the SCOTUSblog live-blogging here.

ADDED: The Court granted cert. in an Establishment Clause case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, about whether "a legislative prayer practice violates the Establishment Clause notwithstanding the absence of discrimination in the selection of prayer-givers or forbidden exploitation of the prayer opportunity." SCOTUSblog opined that it's "a potentially significant religion case" because "The Roberts case has not done much in that field so far." My instant impression was they granted cert. to reverse and it's obvious (based on precedent).

AND: This chart shows which cases are undecided from each month of the term so far. All the November cases have been decided, but one case remains from October, Fisher v. University of Texas, the affirmative action case. There's also a chart which shows which Justices have written the cases from each "sitting," and that chart makes it appear that Kennedy is writing the affirmative action case.

ALSO: No Fisher today.

WaPo's Fact Checker "is just scratching the surface of Lerner’s misstatements and weasely wording..."

"... when the revelations about the IRS’s activities first came to light on May 10. But, taken together, it’s certainly enough to earn her four Pinocchios."

Glenn Kessler reviews 3 key statements by Lois G. Lerner, the IRS’s director of the exempt organizations division.

"The church eventually stopped talking about heaven..."

"... for a variety of reasons: the rise of science; the emergence of the Social Gospel, a theology that encouraged churches to create heaven on Earth by fighting for social justice; and the growing affluence of Americans."

"How to buy happiness."

"The new science of spending points to a surprising conclusion: How we use our money may matter as much or more than how much of it we've got."

I don't know why that is "surprising," but the details are perhaps worth noting. For one thing, buying a house or moving to a better house is found unlikely to bring more happiness.
And dozens of studies show that people get more happiness from buying experiences than from buying material things. Experiential purchases — such as trips, concerts and special meals — are more deeply connected to our sense of self, making us who we are....
Some meal you ate is more deeply connected to your sense of self than your home? I find that hard to believe. I think it's more that the meal is over and done with, so the happiness was consumed on the spot and remembered. The house continues and you enjoy it sometimes but are burdened by it too. You have mixed feelings over a long period of time. It's not a memory.
And experiences come with one more benefit: They tend to bring us closer to other people, whereas material things are more often enjoyed alone. (We tend to watch our new television alone on the couch, but we rarely head to a wonderful restaurant or jet off to Thailand solo.) 
That's why you might want to bring loved ones into that house of yours. And why is there no mention of the nonwonderful restaurants and nonwonderful flights overseas?
So, doing things with other people makes a difference for happiness, and our research suggests that doing things for other people can provide an additional boost. 
That's obvious and not about how you spend your money. Dropping dollars on restaurant meals and travel won't necessarily get you better social connections.
In experiments we've conducted around the world, including in Canada, the United States, Uganda and South Africa, we find that people are happier if they spend money on others. And we've found that spending even just a few dollars on someone else provides more happiness than using the cash to treat yourself.
This is why we love to pay taxes, no?

5 reasons why Yahoo will ruin Tumblr...

... and the argument to the contrary.

"Presidential speculation around Scott Walker heats up as he heads to Iowa this week."

"Walker may be shrugging off chatter about 2016, but political observers see plenty of signs he is considering a run for president after his 2014 re-election campaign is over."
He’s working on a book about his life, tentatively titled “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge.” And Walker readily admits he’s traveling around the country for high-profile fundraisers and other conservative gatherings, from New Orleans to Iowa, Washington, D.C., to California.
“We used to call this period ‘testing the waters.’ I think that’s what he’s doing,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “He can’t be explicit yet. But I think he’ll run.”
Sabato and his colleagues put Walker at the top of their list of 2016 Republican presidential contenders, noting that "Democrats tried — and failed — to strike him down in a recall election last year:
"Not only did Walker survive, but this unscheduled political war elevated him to stardom amongst conservatives across the country. If Walker were to become the Republican presidential nominee, Democrats will have helped it happen."

Obama's message: Nobody cares... no time for excuses...

Obama was addressing the graduates at Morehouse College, which is an all-male and historically black college.
Obama said that too many young black men make “bad choices.”

“Growing up, I made quite a few myself,” Obama said. “Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency to make excuses for me not doing the right thing.”

But, the president implored, “we’ve got no time for excuses.”

“In today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world, with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil, many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did, all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned,” he said. “Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination.”
ADDED: Here's the full text of the speech.

May 19, 2013

At the Red Tree Café...

Untitled

... it's getting late, so come on in here.

ADDED: I'm really not sure whether I took this photo or Meade did. It comes right around the point where he took the camera away from me.

Bob Woodward: "I think you have to kind of step back and say what’s the theory of governing here."

"And the theory is, it seems, oh, there are investigations of the IRS so we can’t interfere."
There is this leak investigation of the AP, so we can’t get involved. Oh, there is an investigation of Benghazi, so we’re not responsible. The President and the executive branch need to govern on a daily basis and you can’t purchase immunity from governing....

But some institutions have a no-surprise rule, which is you need to make sure the person at the top, who is the president in this case, he is constitutionally responsible for the whole executive branch, to be told about things that are going on that are bad. And you can’t kind of say, oh, that happened last year and they’re investigating. You need to stop the bad things right away.