June 15, 2013

At the Saturday Night Café...

Untitled

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"There is a 400 year old tradition in Japan to make babies cry."

"Every year mothers hand over their babies to sumo wrestlers who make them cry. Baby crying is considered healthy and a prerequisite for good luck. The winner of the contest is the sumo wrester who makes the baby cry faster, usually by scaring them...."

"I have just discovered a whole new dimension to classical sculpture."

"If you dress the sculptures as hipsters it gives them an awesome new look. They become contemporary and totally badass...."

"There were lots of discussions at N.S.A. and in the intelligence community in general about the acculturation process."

"They were aware that they were bringing in young people who had to adjust to the culture — and who would change the culture," said Joel F. Brenner, a former NSA inspector general, quoted in a NYT article titled "For Snowden, a Life of Ambition, Despite the Drifting."

The article also says that Snowden's disclosures highlight something the elders in the agency have worried about for a long time: "young Internet aficionados whose skills the agencies need for counterterrorism and cyberdefense sometimes bring an anti-authority spirit that does not fit the security bureaucracy."

What a fascinating culture clash! These old security folk are dependent on these new people who not only don't share their values: They are a completely different kind of person. Snowden is an example of a type of person that we need to understand. I'll call such people Snowmen.

Tell me about the Snowmen....

"In the literature, perfect pitch is talked about as a fixed ability, so it was quite surprising to find..."

"... that as little as 45 minutes of de-tuned music could temporarily shift note categories.... What this points to is the malleability of the human brain. Relatively brief exposure to flattened music is able to rearrange what was thought to be a very long-term and stable note category. This is a great example of how our immediate surroundings and perceptions can change the way in which we view the world."

What are the other things in the category that that is an example of?

"This victory is a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity... over extremism."

Said Hassan Rouhani, the President-elect of Iran:
But he also urged the world to "acknowledge the rights" of Iran.... "The nations who tout democracy and open dialogue should speak to the Iranian people with respect and recognise the rights of the Islamic republic."
Crowds in Tehran are chanting: "Long live reform, long live Rouhani."

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"I had a little argument yesterday with a woman who wanted to bring her dog in at the restaurant by showing a card saying her dog is a 'service dog.'"

"As I always understood, a service dog is to help a disabled person, and usually the dog is a German Shepard trainee to help disabled people. But a fucking chihuahua can be a service dog? And on top, that bitch was not disabled. I told her that she is not disabled and that we could get fined by the Department of health by letting a dog in the establishment. She got angry saying that its illegal to ask someone if one is disabled. Still I told her we could get in trouble. Was my action right?"

"Thank you for the 'crabs.'"



Via If You Can't Afford to Tip... You Can't Afford to Go Out and Eat.

"[W]hen the votes of 2.6 million voters were counted and announced, the scandal-plagued outsider Rino Sashihara toppled the seemingly secure incumbent Yuko Oshima..."

"... to become the new 'president' of AKB48, Japan’s most popular female musical act ever."
AKB48 is a massive and massively successful conglomerate, with many local franchises. Group members start off as awkward amateurs and end up skilled professional entertainers...

The girls of AKB48 are sexual chimeras. Although often they are in fact young adults, they are made to look much younger thanks to outfits derived from school-girl uniforms and rehearsed childish mannerisms. The resultant child-woman is then resexualized....
That looks like this:



"The normally circumspect Japan Times denounced the group for framing 'women’s nature as responsive to male desires rather than as active and independent'...."
And to feed these fans’ fantasies some more, the group prohibits, by contract, its members from having sex or dating....

Most legal experts agree that AKB48’s contractual ban on sex has no force. But that didn’t keep Minami Minegishi, once among the group’s inner core of 20, from shaving off her hair in contrition and apologizing to fans after she was seen leaving a young male pop star’s apartment one morning.
That head-shaving + apology was discussed here on this blog back in February. Back to the first-linked article:
Voters in Saturday’s election seemingly rallied to upset these rules.... The race was tight, but in the end, voters rejected rules preventing young women from enjoying their freedoms. They elevated the disgraced Minegishi, her hair still boyishly short, to 18th place. And they crowned Sashihara, who had been banished from the core Akihabara group to an affiliate in Fukuoka after her own dating scandal....
AKB48 may be sexist and prey on prurient tastes....
Oh? Is it? What's the prurient taste for? Cake and jell-o, judging from the video. I thought it was very wholesome. It seemed perfectly clean... but also perfectly dirty in your dirty mind. Shame on you!

"I can kill someone with this ring."

Said Vladimir Putin, stealing the Super Bowl ring of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

"[A]n alliance of students and faculty... must make debate and controversy, not dull pedantic cant, the common style for educational life."

A good line, from a famous statement, made half a century ago.

Google to bring WiFi via balloons.

Project Loon.

IN THE COMMENTS: elkh1 said:
Better to snoop you including those of you who don't use Google.
EDH said:
"It is balloon!!!... Well, not just stand there, sound evil spirit alarm!"

An ambiguous headline that reveals too much about us: "Kim Kardashian's Pregnancy Fails."

The quote is a teaser, found at the bottom of another article under the "More from Our Partners" heading. I don't even see the ambiguity. I read "pregnancy" as a noun and "fails" as a verb, and think it should mean that the woman has miscarried, but realize it could mean that her pregnancy was supposed to have some cultural meaning or some impact on her popularity, but the intended effect has not occurred.

Clicking the link, I see that "pregnancy" is an adjective and "fails" is a noun. The linked article is: "Fashion Fails: Kim Kardashian's Worst Pregnancy Looks." That is, absolutely nothing has happened, but there is one more entry in the endless series of opportunities to see what is happening to women's bodies.

Admittedly, that is the most interesting subject in the history of the world and the meaning of everything, but still....

"The Government has agreed to let Facebook and other web companies publish some details about the number of surveillance requests it has received."

"Facebook has already posted their numbers. For the last six months of 2012, it received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests for user data pertaining to 18,000 to 19,000 of user accounts. This includes requests from all government entities in the U.S. (local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests)...."

"Moderate cleric Hassan Rohani took a commanding lead over conservative rivals in Iran's presidential election..."

"... partial vote counts showed on Saturday, in what could be the makings of a surprise victory over favored hardliners."

At the Salad Days Café...

Untitled

... let us try to get along.

Dog walking.

In a flooded street, apparently in Russia:



IN THE COMMENTS: People keep talking about "the dog walker." I said: "What dog walker?"

"He said I'm way over the top in referring to the Obama administration as the regime. It's over the top."

"And to say that we're in the midst of a coup d'etat, that's going too far. It's just going too far, that it's unpatriotic, and it's not conservative. I'm not conservative and I'm certainly not patriotic because I'm portraying myself and all conservatives as anti-government."

So begins a Rush Limbaugh monologue, from yesterday's show. The critic he's responding to is WaPo columnist Michael Gerson (who was a Bush speechwriter). Rush says:
It's really, really bad what the IRS is doing to the Tea Party, but that's as far as Gerson's willing to go.  He doesn't want to extrapolate it might mean anything.  But to me it does.  I don't know what he thinks about it.  I think he thinks all governments engage in excesses, and some governments have individuals who go outside the boundaries and this is par for the course....
Gerson said: "It is one thing to oppose the policies of the administration; it is another to call for resistance against a 'regime' and a 'police state.'" Rush read that and said:
Who did that?  He means armed resistance. That's what he's not saying. Nobody's doing that.
Rush doesn't like the way Gerson finds more in Rush's statements than Rush has literally said. But in order to say that, Rush must find something in Gerson's statements that Gerson has not literally said. And Rush is also going on about how President Obama is responsible for things that Obama hasn't literally said:
Herbert Meyer... the former national security official of the Reagan administration... described Hitler and Nazism, and he made the claim, 'cause his column focused on people hoping there's a smoking gun linking Obama to all of these scandals.  And Herbert Meyer said there isn't gonna be a smoking gun.  There is no memo.  Obama doesn't have to write a memo of instructions or desires 'cause everybody working for him already knows what he wants.  Everybody working for him is a miniature Obama, or a full-fledged Obama.  And as an example, Herbert Meyer used Hitler and the Nazis, and he said (paraphrasing), "Despite the fact that everybody knows that Adolf Hitler ran the Holocaust, you will not find one document where Hitler issues orders for the Holocaust to be carried out.  If we needed that to prove what Hitler was, we would never be able to prove it because it doesn't exist."
Rush goes on to complain about the mild-mannered campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney, whom he portrays as unwilling to go after Obama, and he's afraid that's where conservatives will do once again, as Jeb Bush lumbers onto the stage. Rush wants some tough dissent from the Republicans, but he must know that you can go too far with that and sound like a raving lunatic, which is what I think Gerson meant to say. Here's Gerson (from the second link, above):
Questioning the legitimacy of our government is the poisoning of patriotism. It is offensive for the same reasons it was offensive when elements of the left, in the 1960s and 1970s, talked of the American “regime.” 
And in Wisconsin, in 2011, when our duly elected Governor, Scott Walker, was protested by hordes of people who chanted "This is what democracy looks like" as they tried to interfere with what they'd convinced themselves was an illegitimate regime. And you'd better believe they compared Walker to Hitler:

P1060646

What's so momentous that Drudge is going all "It Begins" over Jeb Bush?



Drudge is linking to:
In an exclusive sit-down interview with The Brody File, Jeb Bush says that, “Hillary Clinton is a formidable force on the left.”
Video at the link:



Jeb says: "Hillary Clinton is a formidable force on the left. I wouldn't discount her um her uh her ability...." I interrupt to say out loud: "I would discount your ability to get through a sentence."

"Religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion."

"People of faith too often feel they can't express their faith publicly. And if they dare display it, they find themselves under attack from individuals and organizations that have nothing to do with them or their communities for that matter," said Rick Perry, signing the "Merry Christmas" bill.
One might wonder why such a law is necessary. Republican state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, who introduced the bill, explained how he had become upset upon hearing from his 8-year-old son that the Christmas tree at his public school was referred to as "a holiday tree."

Bohac said he brought his concerns to the school district office, where he was told words like "Christmas" weren't used at the school because officials were afraid of being sued.
As if, now, no one's going to get sued. Or is that the point? If the school officials avoid saying "Merry Christmas" and having Christmas trees because they are litigation averse, there's never a lawsuit. I think Perry et al. would love to have a lawsuit about this, even if they think they will lose it. There's political gain in any legal outcome.

And yet, even with this law, those officials might still avoid saying "Merry Christmas" and having Christmas trees because of timidity about lawsuits. It's not as if the new statute requires Christmas trees and Christmas greetings.

Perhaps all that ever happens is this political theater with Rick Perry celebrating Christmas in June. Perhaps that was the point.

ADDED: Perry's phrase "organizations that have nothing to do with them or their communities" is sending out the bat-signal to Madison's Freedom From Religion Foundation. 

June 14, 2013

At the Late Afternoon Café...

Untitled

... you can talk about anything you want.

Spying on...

... poop.

Dog poop.

Snoopy.

"It is irresponsible for critics like Mr. McCain and Mr. Clinton to fault Mr. Obama..."

"... without explaining how the United States can change the course of that brutal civil war without being dragged too far into it."

"The Five Stages of Living in a National Surveillance State."

"How DARE they exploit our meek acquiescence to power."

CBS News says Sharyl Attkisson's computer was hacked by a "sophisticated" intruder.

"The intrusions were detected in December, when Attkisson was reporting almost exclusively on the government’s response to the terrorist attacks on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.... Attkisson has previously investigated the Department of Justice’s gun-tracking operation known as 'Fast and Furious.'"
Attkisson said she had noticed unusual activity in her CBS-issued laptop and her home computer, such as dormant computers spontaneously “waking up” at odd hours. The unusual activity, which also had included disruptions on her home phone line, predate the December 2012 breach that CBS confirmed....

“This wasn’t any ordinary malware of a phishing attempt,” that is, an effort to gain personal information, she said. “I assume someone wanted to see what I was working on.”

“The privacy and security of every American citizen in his own home, not to mention the work of a journalist, is sacrosanct. The idea that an unknown party could come into your home electronically is upsetting and disturbing. . . . People should be disturbed that a reporter would be spied on and intimidated this way. I do feel that this was an attempt to make me feel intimidated.”

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At the Garden Path Café...

Untitled

... you might find a little support.

Just because you're suffering from Bitchy Resting Face doesn't mean you're not a bitch.

Get up to speed on Bitchy Resting Face (via Instapundit).

"I know! I'm so shocked, and I feel a great sense of personal loss."

5 years ago.

(I should have seen this yesterday.)

"Obama’s Pen May Shape Scope of Marriage Ruling."

NYT headline. The article is about what the administration might have to do after the Supreme Court issues its opinion on the Defense of Marriage Act.

"Justice Kagan covertly references Tommy Tutone's '80s hit 'Jenny' on p.2 of #SCOTUS opinion."

Tweets Ted Frank, via Throwing Things.

Here's the opinion (PDF):
Under that contract, a company may transport cargo at the Port in exchange for complying with various requirements. The two directly at issue here compel the company to (1) affix a placard on each truck with a phone number for reporting environmental or safety concerns (You’ve seen the type: “How am I driving? 213–867–5309”) and (2) submit a plan listing off-street parking locations for each truck when not in service. 
Here's the song.

"57% Fear Government Will Use NSA Data to Harass Political Opponents."

According to a new Rasmussen Poll. Only 30% say that's unlikely (while 14% are unsure).
Republicans and unaffiliated voters strongly voice this fear. Democrats are more evenly divided with a modest plurality considering such abuse unlikely.
Does it feel "unlikely" when what you really believe is that if it's going to happen, what's likely is that it will help your side, in which case, why worry? Does it feel "likely" when what you really think is that if it does happen, it's your side that will get burned?

The poll also showed that "33% approve of the NSA program to fight terrorism, while 50% are opposed."

"Women have fabricated a way of talking about the conflict between women who hope to find most of their self-fulfillment in the home..."

"... and those for whom being a homemaker and childrearer is not enough — and not only that, but believe it should not be enough for most women. This is the enlightened, productive side of what are commonly called the Mommy Wars. My question... is: Where are the Daddy Wars?"

Asks Marc Tracy, perhaps only because the annual nonsense of producing an article about Father's Day was nagging at whoever's running The New Republic these days.
In a smart response on New York’s The Cut blog, Kurt Soller noted that men will probably have to take their cues from ladyblogs and the like as they navigate this issue, and offered several smart thoughts....
So Kurt of The Cut has a smart response that offered smart thoughts. All I can say is: ouch. (In the old days — before feminists destroyed Freud — one could have wisecracked about castration anxiety.)

"Call me naive, but I seem to have underestimated the universal desire to sit in a hard plastic chair and stare at a screen until your eyes cross."

"My father saw it coming, but this was a future that took me completely by surprise. There were no computers in my high school, and the first two times I attempted college, people were still counting on their fingers and removing their shoes when the numbers got above ten. I wasn’t really aware of computers until the mid-1980s. For some reason, I seemed to know quite a few graphic designers whose homes and offices pleasantly stank of Spray Mount. Their floors were always collaged with stray bits of paper, and trapped flies waved for help from the gummy killing fields of their tabletops. I had always counted on these friends to loan me the adhesive of my choice, but then, seemingly overnight, their Scotch tape and rubber cement were gone, replaced with odorless computers and spongy mouse pads. They had nothing left that I wanted to borrow, and so I dropped them and fell in with a group of typesetters who ultimately betrayed me as well."

David Sedaris — whose father worked for IBM — in "Me Talk Pretty One Day" (published in 2000), which I listened to, partly while asleep, last night.

"I'm Internet personality intended to be home when it's not really person."

So says a note I dictated to Siri while walking with my iPhone yesterday. I saw at the time that Siri's transcription was terrible, but I thought it had enough key words that I'd remember what I'd intended to tell myself.

Now, I'm thinking about the mistranscription — and all the billions of mistranscriptions — that live forever in the government's data mine. (The government is creating a mine, but to have a mine is not to mine. And even to call it a "mine" is to assume that what's in there can be extracted and is worth extracting.)

Don't try to understand the quoted text. The word "home" was a substitution for some other word. Whatever the insight was, it wasn't about home. It's worse than gibberish because it's only part wrong, but I don't know where the wrong ends. I only know there is no home.

I do remember — in my own mind, which is not (yet) in the data mine — that I was thinking about the blog post "Does how to cook bacon count as my personal life?," where I was talking about the false impression that my readers have that they are seeing my "personal life." That feeling is, perhaps, what the people who like to read this blog enjoy. But — and here's what came to mind as I was out walking around in real life — what is that real life if that real life consists of generating a false impression of personality?

"Snowden is a ‘card’ that China never expected... But China is neither adept at nor used to playing it."

Said an editorial in The Global Times, which the NYT identifies as "a nationalistic mainland Chinese newspaper under the direct control of the Communist Party."
The commentary also called for China and Hong Kong to treat Mr. Snowden kindly enough so that others with national security secrets will not be discouraged from fleeing here. “China should make sure that Hong Kong is not the last place where other ‘Snowdens’ want to go,” it said.
The NYT ends the article with a quote from London lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, who has represented Julian Assange. Robertson criticizes the British government's threatening to fine airlines if they bring Snowden to their country:
“This is a power hitherto used only against those who incite terrorism, race hatred and homophobia — never before against whistle-blowers,” Mr. Robertson wrote in an e-mail. “The British government is simply afraid that its judges, who are fiercely independent, and the European court would embarrass its closest ally by ruling that Snowden could not be extradited because, even if his 'revelations' prove to be mistaken, he would be subjected to oppressive treatment akin to that being meted out to Bradley Manning”....
In Robertson's analysis, disclosing national security secrets is supposed to be less severe than private speech expressing the hateful ideas: Snowden is a "whistle-blower," who has released good and useful speech to the general public.

June 13, 2013

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At the Peony Café...

Untitled

... you can talk all night.

"It may be the world's most popular song, but to perform it on TV and in movies requires a license fee."

"A new class action lawsuit aims to change that."

ADDED: The point isn't that it's so popular, it should be in the public domain. It's that it's so old.

"Surprise! Cruz supports Gillibrand in prosecution of military sexual assaults."

"I am going to be voting against the chairman's amendment. And I am going to vote against it because I was persuaded by the argument that Sen. Gillibrand presented in this committee a few moments ago," Cruz said. "I think she made a powerful and effective argument that the lack of reporting [of incidents] is driven by a fear of not having an impartial third party outside the chain of command in which to report a sexual assault."

(The Chairman is Carl Levin, a Democrat.)

Oculolinctus.

Eyeball-licking.
"My boyfriend started licking my eyeballs years ago and I just loved it. I'm not with him anymore, but I still like to ask guys to lick my eyeballs. I just love it because it turns me on, like sucking on my toes. It makes me feel all tingly.’...

‘Nothing good can come of this,’ Dr David Granet, a San Diego ophthalmologist, told The Huffington Post. ‘There are ridges on the tongue that can cause a corneal abrasion. And if a person hasn't washed out their mouth, they might put acid from citrus products or spices into the eye.’
I hope Rand Paul weighs in on this.

"More white people died in the United States last year than were born..."

"... a surprising slump coming more than a decade before the Census Bureau says that the ranks of white Americans will likely drop with every passing year."

"Slump" — used there by The Washington Post — sounds kind of mean. The first definition in the (unlinkable) OED is: "To fall or sink in or into a bog, swamp, muddy place, etc.; to fall in water with a dull splashing sound."

At the Confetti Café...

Untitled

... it's a swirling mass of whatever you want to talk about.

We the Peepers.

As used in the previous post — the last word of — I see how "peepers" could be a new coinage for "people" within the our newly understood world of pervasive surveillance. One might say:
We the Peepers of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...
And:
... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the peepers, by the peepers, for the peepers, shall not perish from the earth.
"Peeper" — "A person who peeps or peers; esp. one who pries or looks furtively, or in a voyeuristic way" — is an old word, I see, peeping into the (unlinkable) OED:
1607   T. Dekker & J. Webster West-ward Hoe ii. ii. sig. D2v,   Whose there? Peepers: Intelligencers: Euesdroppers.
1652   J. Gaule Πυς-μαντια 375   He..had his eyes put out; an apt punishment for all peepers, and Star-gazers.
1711   R. Steele Spectator No. 53. ⁋8,   I doubt not but you will think a Peeper as much more pernicious than a Starer....
2003   Gay Times Feb. 61/3   If you view others, without their knowledge or consent..then peepers can expect up to two years in the slammers.

"Does how to cook bacon count as my personal life?"

"If you say yes, then 1 of 11 posts today is about my 'personal life.' If not, then 0 of 11. Going back before today, I counted 47 posts before I got to one that could arguably be considered about my personal life, and it was only a photograph of our backyard garden with the TT parked next to it."

That's me, responding to Pete, who has the impression that other lawprofs blog mainly about law and occasionally put something in about their personal lives, whereas "the reverse is true" for me.

I'm posting to say that Pete's wrong, but I'm pleased by that wrongness. I like that this feels personal. But the notion that you're seeing my personal life... where does that illusion come from? I hope you're getting pleasure too... from this faux voyeurism.

And here's the garden + TT, in this morning's light-and-shadow.

Untitled

Data mine that, peepers!

"Not just the NSA... Political candidates, political parties, Super PACS and dark-money groups are among the most ambitious data miners around."

"They use data to supercharge their fund-raising, to target multimillion-dollar ad buys and to stir passions and fears at election time," writes John Nichols at The Nation.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — "Is she about to retire, everyone asks, to permit President Obama to name her replacement?"

Linda Greenhouse writes with what sounds like authority: "The answer is no, she’s healthy and loves her job."

Why is Fisher taking so long?

Linda Greenhouse says:
One reason might be that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who almost certainly received the opinion assignment in the Texas case, isn’t going far enough in that case to satisfy the other conservative justices. Under this theory, those justices responded to what they saw as a frustratingly narrow Kennedy opinion by jumping aboard the Michigan case as the next potential vehicle for shutting down affirmative action....
Fisher is the case argued last October, about the University of Texas affirmative action program, but the court granted cert. just last March in a case about Michigan's ban on all affirmative action in public university admissions. (That case is called Schuette.)

Waiting for Fisher....

Another Supreme Court opinion-announcement day... 

ADDED:  First up is American Trucking v. LA, a Kagan opinion. They announce opinions in order of seniority, and Kagan is least senior. Something about trucks... and preemption. [ALSO: This case has a concurring opinion from Justice Thomas saying Congress's statute is not supported by the Commerce Clause, "at least in certain contexts."]

AND: A second opinion, Tarrant Regional Water Dist. V. Herrmann, from Sotomayor, the second-least senior. Something about water... and preemption.

NEXT: Third: Ginsburg's opinion, U.S. v. Davila. "This was a case in which the issue was whether there must be an automatic reversal if the judge played any role in the plea bargaining...  Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 prohibits judges from participating in plea agreements, but another subsection of the rule also provides that a 'variance from the requirements' of Rule 11 is 'harmless if it does not affect substantial rights,' so this one did not come as a huge surprise."

ALSO: "We have gene patenting. The Court holds that natural isolated DNA is not patentable. Synthetic DNA is patentable." This is a very important case. Unanimous. Thomas wrote the opinion, so that means only Kennedy, Scalia, and Roberts are left to have opinions that might come out today. Here's the PDF of the case, Myriad Genetics. It's a unanimous opinion but Scalia concurs to say:
I join the judgment of the Court, and all of its opinion except Part I–A and some portions of the rest of the opinion going into fine details of molecular biology. I am unable to affirm those details on my own knowledge or even my own belief. It suffices for me to affirm, having studied the opinions below and the expert briefs presented here, that the portion of DNA isolated from its natural state sought to be patented is identical to that portion of the DNA in its natural state; and that complementary DNA (cDNA) is a synthetic creation not normally present in nature.
AND: That's it for today.

"As Marriage Changes, Should Joint Filing Go The Way Of Ozzie And Harriet?"

Asks Howard Gleckman at Forbes, citing an article by Yale lawprof Anne Alstott:
As Alstott notes, nearly half of American adults are now unmarried, 40 percent of children are born to unmarried parents, and labor force participation among married women is now very close to that of married men... So why even bother with the concept of joint tax filing?

Alstott borrows from Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin, who calls the trend away from formal marriage “new individualism.” This, she says, “has rendered obsolete legal doctrines and policy analyses that treat formal marriage as a proxy for family life … . Joint filing is no longer well-tailored to serve important social objectives.”
The destruction of marriage is set to resume as soon as same-sex marriage becomes the law. We've been pretending that the traditional institution is soooo important that it's terrible to exclude gay people. But you can see the anti-traditionalists itching to move forward — ever forward — with the new! I see we're supposed to call it the "new individualism," because — step into our trap, conservative naifs — conservatives are always touting individualism.

Joint filing makes structuring the family around a single-earner a tax-avoidance strategy. The no-income spouse does all sorts of labor that benefits the family economically without producing taxable income. It's hard for people to do the math and see how valuable this is and how well it works, especially — but not only — when you have children. Those who've set their hearts on women's equality have — for decades — promoted women's entering the workplace and, to do that, they've obscured the benefits of single-earner family structure (even though the male could be the home-based spouse).

Now, after letting 2 or 3 generations mature without understanding the good of this traditional division of labor, they'd like to remove the tax benefit. It's just completely outdated and has nothing to do with the way people live these days. And when that happens, we will all be endlessly in the grip of the all-seeing, all-taxing government, and the days of life centered around the home will be just some old joke about Ozzie and Harriet, ha ha, so old fashioned. So dumb. So naive.

30 minutes into the ritual cooking of the bacon...

... it's a great method...

Untitled

... but oh! the waiting...

Nice socks.



Via Mitt Romney.

ADDED: It's a thing.

"I am here at YO! Sushi to test the new prototype iTray, the latest gimmick to grace a London restaurant."

"It is part waiter, part attack-helicopter, which conspires to be both menacing and inefficient. Atop the remote-controlled flying drone is perched a tray of food.... The drone is being controlled by a waitress, who is using an iPhone and the Japanese restaurant's wi-fi to try to steer the contraption, and my lunch, towards me. On the third attempt, the prawn crackers get caught in the updraught and are immediately sliced in the blades of the chopper, causing carbohydrate shrapnel to go flying in all directions. I take cover behind the soy sauce bottle...."

"Reading Brooks’s laments about Snowden and 'the fraying of the social fabric,' I found myself thinking about Norman Rockwell..."

"... if not in the same way Brooks might. (In 2008, after what he saw as a rhetorical triumph by Sarah Palin, Brooks wrote, 'Somewhere in heaven Norman Rockwell is smiling.') The image that came to mind was one of the panels from Rockwell’s 'Four Freedoms' series: the one on freedom of speech, in which a man stands up at what looks like a town meeting. He might be about twenty-nine. He is wearing a work jacket, so maybe he’s a high-school drop-out. There are better dressed people in the hall. And they are listening to him."

Writes Amy Davidson in The New Yorker, with the sentimentality that Rockwell haters loathe about Rockwell. Here's the referenced Rockwell painting:



I was going to snark that there's no way that guy is 29, but then I asked Meade, "How old does this guy look," and he said, "29." And, "That's what guys who work on the farm look like when they're 29."

Then I tried my other idea: "How do we know he's not a communist, dressed that way to trick the naively idealistic Norman-Rockwell-loving folks of that small town? He's dressed like a folksinger. He could be Pete Seeger." And Meade said: "You can tell by that greasy dirt on his jacket. That guy does real work."

We talked about the difference between this idealized farmer — with his real dirt, in a real place, with real people — and Edward Snowden — who operated within computer networks and evanesced into Asia. But it's 2013, and maybe that Rockwell character does need to be a man detached from the American soil, floating out there in unmediated space. And yet — as Meade said — "He's Tea Party."

"I'm not sure which is worse: the NSA surveillance programs themselves..."

"... or the fact that the leaks about them have caused normally reasonable people to publicly commit themselves to so many strange notions in a desperate attempt to defend the Obama administration, e.g. 'The whole concept of privacy is obsolete,' 'Gathering data about phone calls doesn't raise serious privacy concerns,' 'Surveillance is unobjectionable if it's been going on for many years,' 'We don't have to worry about the 4th Amendment as long as a judge is willing to rubber-stamp the government's actions without any adversarial process,' etc."

"Law Prof Blog Traffic Rankings."

Still #1.

June 12, 2013

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"S., who had never seriously considered adoption, was overwhelmed when Baby S., a healthy girl, was born in May 2012."

From a long NYT Magazine article titled "What Happens to Women Who Are Denied Abortions?" that concentrates on one 24-year-old woman.
“It was like, whoa!” S. recalled. “That first night was terrible. I was tired, and she was so hungry, and she had a very loud cry. They don’t tell you how hard it is to nurse your baby. You don’t know how painful it is for something to eat off you, and it’s pulling your skin.” She developed plugged ducts, a condition in which the breasts become painfully engorged with milk.

It’s not unusual for new mothers to have trouble breast feeding, but S. felt overwhelmed in other ways too. “This baby is such a crybaby, and I didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “I felt like she didn’t love me, like maybe she was mad at me.” S. watched bitterly as her family members held a contented Baby S. When S. held her, the baby would begin to cry. It went on like that for weeks. S. sometimes buried her head in her pillow, crying, when the baby cried. “Her tone was negative,” one of S.’s sisters remembers. “She would become angry, saying she wished the baby would shut up.”

Leaker Snowden tells Chinese newspaper that the U.S. government hacks into Chinese universities, businesses and politicians.

He also said: "People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions."

ADDED: More here:
Senior American officials have accused China of hacking into U.S. military and business computers. Snowden’s claims of extensive U.S. hacking of Chinese computers tracks assertions made repeatedly by senior Chinese government officials that they are victims of similar cyber-intrusions.
Note that the Guardian published its first story using Snowden's leaks as President Obama was meeting with the President of China. 

So now we have some data — enough dots to connect?

This is what democracy looks like...

... from up inside your vagina.

Dealing with the no-shorts rule, Swedish men wear skirts.

We talked about this 4 days ago, but this new article has a photograph.

Misread headline: "Poll Finds Disapproval of Record Collection, but Little Personal Concern."

Even with the NSA surveillance story at the top of the news this week, I clicked on that NYT headline and opened a tab fully expecting to get to a poll about the extent to which people decide they don't want a relationship with you after they discover — for example — that your Bruce Springsteen albums outnumber your Bob Dylan.

All morning I've been doing other posts and having in the back of my mind that I'd get to this interesting topic. Finally, I clicked on the tab....

"God is great! He moved the mountain! Sarah got THE CALL."

Dying 10-year-old whose family wanted her on the list to receive adult lungs, is getting her lungs.

Carey Mulligan turns down the role of Hillary Clinton in "Rodham."

But why? Care to speculate? Maybe a young actress who's been successful at playing glamorous when she's not clearly beautiful should refrain from having her image defined by a famous character who's only reasonably nice looking. This is quite different from the situation where the actress is undeniably beautiful and the character being played is actively homely — like Charlize Theron in the movie that won her an Oscar.

"The 100 Greatest Movie Compliments Of All Time."

A little NSFW at times, but highly enjoyable (and an answer to the famous "100 Greatest Movie Insults of All Time").

"the feeling that no matter what you do is always somehow wrong — that any attempt to make your way comfortably through the world will only end up crossing some invisible taboo..."

"... as if there’s some obvious way forward that everybody else can see but you, each of them leaning back in their chair and calling out helpfully, colder, colder, colder."

The definition of "pâro" in "The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows," via Metafilter, where they are concentrating not "pâro" on but "sonder," which doesn't seem to me like a sorrow at all.

"Tycho Brahe Died from Pee, Not Poison."

News from the 16th century. I know the linked story was published last November, and I'm sorry I didn't get it out more quickly, which is perhaps something Tycho Brahe might have said (in Polish).
Brahe was long thought to have died from a bladder infection after politeness kept him from excusing himself to use the bathroom during a royal banquet in October 1601, causing his bladder to rupture. However, scientists who opened Brahe's grave in 1901 to mark the 300th anniversary of his death claimed to find mercury in his remains, fueling rumors that the astronomer was poisoned. Some even accused [his not-yet-famous assistant Johannes] Kepler of the crime.

But the new results don't point to any such intrigue. While analyses of Brahe's teeth are not yet complete, tests on his bones and beard hairs show that mercury concentrations in his body were not high enough to have killed him....
Also discovered: Brahe's fake nose was probably made of brass, not silver.

Anyway, it was Kepler who gave the original the first-hand account of this story:
... Tycho had refused to leave the banquet to relieve himself because it would have been a breach of etiquette. After he had returned home he was no longer able to urinate, except eventually in very small quantities and with excruciating pain.... Before dying, he urged Kepler to finish the Rudolphine Tables and expressed the hope that he would do so by adopting Tycho's own planetary system, rather than that of Copernicus. It was reported that Brahe himself had written his own epitaph, stating "He lived like a sage and died like a fool."
I arrived at this story today because I was worried about people who might think too much about Rand Paul and take Gabriel Gomez's boast too seriously. 

Innocence Project founders not happy with the way the Supreme Court cited their book in the DNA case.

Adam Liptak explains.
... Justice Kennedy’s brief quotation from “Actual Innocence” [was not] especially punctilious. Here is how the justice rendered it, including his brackets and ellipses: “[P]rompt [DNA] testing ... would speed up apprehension of criminals before they commit additional crimes, and prevent the grotesque detention of ... innocent people.”

Those first three dots covered a lot of ground. They took the place of more than six sentences and suggested a different point than the one the authors were making. The original passage concerned evidence collected at crime scenes, not from people who might be connected to it....

The omission of two words with the second set of dots is easier to understand. The authors had written that testing could prevent “the grotesque detention of thousands of innocent people.” Justice Kennedy apparently did not want to endorse the possibility that the criminal justice system had such widespread shortcomings....
And it's easy to understand the pique of the Innocence Project folks who apparently do not like seeing their names connected to an opinion they loathe, but did Kennedy do anything wrong here?

"Punctilious" — to quote the (unlinkable) OED — means "Strictly observant of or insistent on fine points of procedure, etiquette, or conduct; extremely or excessively particular or correct. Also: characterized by such scrupulous attention to detail or formality." I'll bet Liptak thought a lot about that word. Note how he toned it down with "not especially." So Kennedy was strictly correct, but not all that strictly correct.

"[I]t’s time to move beyond the political style of the baby boom generation."

"This is a style... that is highly moralistic and personal, dividing people between who is good and who is bad."

That's David Brooks on October 19, 2006, paraphrasing Obama and encouraging him to run for President. It's a paraphrase of what Obama wrote in the then-just-out "Audacity of Hope" and something he'd said to Brooks in an interview.

Look at the contradiction even in those 2 sentences that Brooks put together to promote Obama. Obama would like to "move beyond" the politics that divides people into good and bad, even as he draws a line of division and portrays the Baby Boomers as bad.

I'm searching the text of "The Audacity of Hope" to see what Obama wrote about Baby Boomers. There are 2 mentions. First, at page 50:

Watch Clapper lie.

He's got a tell:

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Good News! You're Not Paranoid - NSA Oversight
www.thedailyshow.com
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"No spy should have that big a tell."

Speaking of pants...

... do you remember what men were doing with their pants 3 years ago? No? Where is our cultural memory?

Remedial reading:
Judging by the number of bared ankles appearing on the streets this summer, the rolled cuff look of 2009 appears to have become the rolled cuff epidemic of 2010....
Tragic photos at the link, which is to the NYT, where no one prods you to remember all the way back to 1920 and T.S. Eliot ("I grow old … I grow old …").

"You have to channel Johnny Depp for that moment and ask yourself, ‘How would Johnny Depp roll up the bottom of his pants?’"

That was 2010... when you had to think about Johnny Depp to figure out how to wear your pants. 

Season 38 of "Girls" — when all the "girls" are over 60.

I wasn't going to watch this — I saw it linked yesterday — but Meade insisted it was excellent, and it really is — but if you don't know the 4 female characters from the show, you won't get how great it is. The actresses do a phenomenal job of adapting the 20-somethings to the over-60 milieu. [NSFW.]

"[W]hen David Brooks complains that Edward Snowden is an unmediated man, I must note that in the civil society Brooks invokes..."

"... Presidents and other leaders were also mediated; they were not merely checked by Congress, courts, etc., but they were also checked by themselves, and a sense of what was proper that went beyond 'how much can I get away with now?' Obama, too, is unmediated in that sense. That Brooks couldn’t see beyond his sharply-creased pants to notice that when it was apparent to keen observers even before the 2008 election is not to his credit. If the system of civil society has failed, it is in no small part because its guardians — notably including Brooks — have also failed."

So writes Instapundit, linking to my post yesterday, which links to David Brooks's new column "The Solitary Leaker."

The reference to Brooks falling for Obama's pants crease is such a big meme that it can be the entry for "David Brooks" in the new Dictionary of Received Ideas. I tracked down a substantial discussion of it from August 2009 in The New Republic:
In the spring of 2005, New York Times columnist David Brooks arrived at then-Senator Barack Obama’s office for a chat. Brooks... had never met Obama before. But, as they chewed over the finer points of Edmund Burke, it didn’t take long for the two men to click. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.”

That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks’s mind. “I remember distinctly an image of--we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,” Brooks says, “and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” In the fall of 2006, two days after Obama’s The Audacity of Hope hit bookstores, Brooks published a glowing Times column. The headline was “Run, Barack, Run.”
Here's "Run, Barack, Run." Does Brooks deserve to be derided endlessly over the fixation on the pants crease? It is hilarious. It's like Rich Lowry getting "little starbursts" from Sarah Palin's wink. You can't not bring it up. But let's remember, Brooks's vision of perfection, seen in a pant's crease, came after they conversed, in depth, about Edmund Burke. That is, the 2 men were talking, in all likelihood, about the importance of civil society.

Does Obama deserve to be called an unmediated man?

ADDED: Speaking of Brooks and legs and feelings and the summer of 2009, remember this? ("I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time.")

EEOC sues BMW and Dollar General for doing criminal background checks...

... because of the  disparate impact on black people.

Massachusetts Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez brags that he can go longer without peeing than Rand Paul.

This happened during a debate last night with his Democratic opponent Ed Markey, who had praised Senator Paul for filibustering.
Gomez responded that he could have gone longer than Paul, who spoke for nearly 13 hours without urinating.
“I’ve gone lots longer than that in my time on the SEAL team,” said Gomez.
Is politics a pissing contest?
A pissing contest, or pissing match, is a game in which participants compete to see who can urinate the highest, the farthest, or the most accurately.
That's a more exciting game than a how-long-can-you-go-without-pissing contest. "Pissing contest" is an old metaphor used "to characterise ego-driven battling in a pejorative or facetious manner that is often considered vulgar."
Dwight Eisenhower is reported to have said of Senator Joseph McCarthy that he wouldn't "get into a pissing contest with that skunk." Eisenhower's secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, used the same phrase in 1958 when asked why he had not responded to a statement by the French foreign minister that the French government had not been consulted about a crisis in Lebanon....
Consider the potential metaphorical use of a how-long-can-you-go-without-pissing contest. I note that it may work better in 2013 than pissing contest, since the reference is to an activity that — something Dwight Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles probably didn't think about — gives women equal opportunity.

In case you have trouble picturing women in a non-metaphorical pissing contest, Wikipedia — at the second link, above — recounts some Irish folklore:
In the story Tochmarc Emire several women compete to see who can urinate deepest into a pile of snow. The winner is Derbforgaill, wife of Lugaid Riab nDerg, but the other women attack her out of jealousy and mutilate her by gouging out her eyes and cutting off her nose, ears, and hair, resulting in her death. Her husband Lugaid also dies, from grief, and Cúchulainn avenges the deaths by demolishing a house with the women inside, killing 150.

June 11, 2013

"The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. government’s surveillance program..."

WaPo reports.
The ACLU lawsuit will bring the surveillance programs into federal court, setting up a challenge for Obama, who pledged during his 2008 presidential campaign to bring more transparency and proportion to national security policy after the George W. Bush administration.
ADDED: Back in August 2006, I had an op-ed in the NYT about a decision in a case called American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency. It's interesting to me to look back at that and see if I'm still thinking the same way 7 years and one President later. 

AND: Here's Glenn Greenwald — of all people — lambasting me for what I said. 

"'They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,' the then-anonymous Snowden told reporters as his leaks first emerged."

"Well, so can Google. And Facebook. And most companies’ internal networks. Creepy? You bet. Calamitous? Not so clear."
Daniel Ellsberg says Snowden is a “hero.” Let me suggest a different prism through which to view that term. Somewhere in the intelligence community is another 29-year-old computer whiz whose name we’ll never know. That person joined the government after 9/11 because she felt inspired to serve the nation in its hour of need. For years she’s sweated to perfect programs that can sort through epic reams of data to identify potential threats. Some Americans are alive today because of her work.

As one security analyst put it this week, to find a needle in a haystack, you need the haystack. If we’re going to romanticize a young nerd in the intelligence world, my Unknown Coder trumps the celebrity waiting in Hong Kong for Diane Sawyer’s call any day.

"President Obama held an off-the-record meeting with select reporters from some of the nation’s largest print and online outlets Monday..."

"... in the White House’s latest effort to placate an increasingly restive press corps."
Initially billed as a conversation with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, the president made a surprise appearance — a very unusual move — and the White House placed the proceedings off the record beforehand. The meeting came amid a series of scandals crashing over the White House that has placed the administration on defense in a way it hasn’t been until now.

"Police Clash with Protesters in Istanbul."

Dramatic photography here.

"Businesses and groups that contract with the city could soon be required to disclose contributions to certain kinds of political advocacy groups..."

"... if a new ordinance proposed by Mayor Paul Soglin is adopted."
The ordinance, which requires people or entities contracting with the city for more than $25,000 to disclose contributions to certain advocacy groups, took its first step through city process Monday, receiving 4-0 approval from the Board of Estimates.

The ordinance is a local response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case, which allows unlimited corporate contributions to political groups so long as they are independent of candidates and their committees. The ordinance aims to limit vendors doing business with the city from providing anonymous contributions to advocacy groups listed under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue code.
What is the point of this? To facilitate political discrimination?

"Good News! You're Not Paranoid."

"The Daily Show" does a great job with the NSA story here, with John Oliver doing his first day substituting for Jon Stewart.

"Stephen Sondheim, the man who rhymed 'the hands on the clock turn' with 'don’t sing a nocturne'..."

"... wrote... that 'using near-rhymes is like juggling clumsily.'"

From a rant against the modern trend of relying on near rhymes — like "calculus" with "miraculous" and "T-Shirts” with “bleachers.”

Via Metafilter, where one commenter links to the Twitter feed AngrySondheim.

I sort of like near rhymes, myself. Do I need to work on my anger issues?

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"From what we know so far, Edward Snowden appears to be the ultimate unmediated man."

Writes David Brooks:
If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.

This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age: the deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme. You’re more likely to donate to the Ron Paul for president campaign, as Snowden did....

For society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures. By deciding to unilaterally leak secret N.S.A. documents, Snowden has betrayed all of these things....
Read the whole thing. This is an excellent column, and it's related to something I was trying to say here. In Brooks's list of what Snowden betrayed, there is:

"I’m sorry but I don’t have time for Bill Cosby’s so-called social commentary..."

"... based on diddly-squat he made up in his head today or any day."

"I'm still not entirely sure what to make of 'You Can Touch My Hair,' an interactive public art exhibit put together by Un'ruly..."

"... which actually encouraged people to touch the hair of black women and ask questions about it."
Basically, three black women with fabulous hair —a poofy 'fro, long locks and what appeared to be a lengthy straight weave — stood in New York City's Union Square Park over the weekend and held signs that announced, "You Can Touch My Hair" to perfect strangers....

Though I'm sure the exhibition's organizers were annoyed, I actually have a greater appreciation for the three women who showed up to the park and staged a silent protest.... One carried a sign that read...  "You cannot touch my hair"....

"The more stuff like this is in the public domain, we’ll still catch terrorists, but it will be the stupid terrorists."

After the revelations, "The guys we should really be worried about will be far less likely to be swept up in this effort."

That from former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, who says: "It’s kind of Darwinian."

"Using his veto power, Scott Walker could expand vouchers even more."

The Cap Times reports:
With the stroke of his veto pen, Walker could simply cross out the limits when the budget lands on his desk. Although the broad power of the Wisconsin gubernatorial veto has been curtailed somewhat in the past few decades, it remains an effective way to fundamentally rewrite legislation.... 
The cons are obvious: Reneging on the deal could infuriate Republican moderates in the Senate, including Olsen and Senate President Mike Ellis. Working with the moderate wing of his party in the future might become problematic for Walker. In the run-up to his re-election campaign in 2014, he doesn't need to lose GOP support. 
The pros are simple: It would further endear Walker to the national conservative movement and put another feather in the cap he wears as a likely presidential candidate.

Drudge at his best: "Wanna Come to Russia?"



That links to a Guardian story with the far less ominous heading: "Edward Snowden: Russia offers to consider asylum request/Vladimir Putin's spokesman says any appeal for asylum from whistleblower who fled US will be looked at 'according to facts.'"

Drudge's attitude is shown by other links at the top right now.

Above Putin's image: "Democrats Love Gov't Surveillance -- As Long As It's Obama, Not Bush..." (which is about the same WaPo-Pew poll that we're talking about here).

At the top of the left-hand column is: "Plan B: In latenight announcement, Obama allows morning-after abortion pill for under-17s..." (which makes it look like Obama is trying to woo us over into women's issues), "UPDATE: Soldier Who Read Conservative Books Faces Charges..." (more political bias in the exercise of power), and "US Ambassador to Belgium 'Solicited Prostitutes, Including Minors': State Dept IG..." (the new scandal).

The middle column begins with 3 headlines about terrorism in airports, and then another story about  political bias in the exercise of power: "Audio: IRS agent tells pro-life group: 'Keep your faith to yourself'..."

The right-hand column is devoted to the NSA story, pairing a Republican — "Boehner: NSA Leaker a 'Traitor'..." — with a Democrat — "AL FRANKEN: 'There Are Certain Things Appropriate For Me To Know That Is Not Appropriate For Bad Guys To Know'..."

"I’ll still keep up an online presence, particularly on Twitter.... I find it calmer than Facebook."

Writes Kenneth Burns, the erstwhile Isthmus writer (who's moved to Tennessee). He's deactivating Facebook at least for the summer.
Mainly, I’m weary of the politics. Understand, I’m fascinated by electoral politics, like any journalist. I have my views, and I express them in the polling booth and not many other places. Not on Facebook. I’m not interested in politics as an all-consuming leisure activity.

In my experience, though, Facebook is one rabidly political social network, and it’s not political in inspiring ways. It’s political in reductive, repetitive ways.
But why has his Facebook experience been so rabid and uncalm compared to Twitter? He's got himself to blame:

"It turns out that the Gov't has no privacy either. So the joke is on them as much as it is on us."

Writes Richard Dolan in the comments to yesterday's post "Greenwald Says ‘There’s A Lot More Coming,’ Argues NSA Revelations Don’t Harm Security." Dolan continues (the boldface is mine):
The Gov't needs a giant bureaucracy to run its NSA and other 'data mining' projects, just as the State Dept and the IRS need giant bureaucracies to perform their functions. As recent events show, those Gov't agencies can't assure that their own secrets, their own attempts at controlling information, will succeed. Given the size of these bureaucracies, it seems quite unlikely that they possibly could.

In all the talk about how the citizenry is at the mercy of the Gov't's abuse of power, it pays to stop and note that the Gov't is also at the mercy of its own agents' abuse of their power -- the power to disclose, leak, or turn on the Man. So long as there is a market for the kinds of leaked information we are seeing -- not just the NSA stuff, but the State Dept report about shutting down investigations that CBS surfaced, to use just today's example -- these leaks will continue.

A comparison that comes to mind is the (failed) War on Drugs -- the market for illegal drugs doomed that War even before it got going, just as the market for illicitly leaked information will doom the Gov't's attempt to keep its own secrets 'private.' The difference is that the drug market relies on the usual profit motive, all payable in cash. The 'leaks' market has different incentives for the leakers and the leakees -- the leakees have the more traditional incentive since these stories add to a reporter's (or blogger's) reputation, and may even garner a Pulitzer. For the leaker, the incentives are different -- Snowden's were apparently a personal political morality that impelled him to act, as were Manning's -- and not so easily measured. But they are just as real.
Even as we have moved into electronic media and the government can look at us there, the government has become dependent on huge numbers of computer specialists. Who are these guys? Snowden is one of them, but there are masses of them, and they must be trusted to get to the material the government can now get to because millions of computer users have yielded to the charms of the internet. There are the masses of computers users — ordinary people doing social media — but there are the computer specialists — and most of us aren't that familiar with these people whose lives are about computers at the technical and not the social level.

What do you know about their thought patterns? Is there a geek syndrome? Are there notions of altruism and libertarianism that seem to resonate in the American tradition but are really something new and different in ways that we won't understand until it's far too late? Is it far too late?

"Ladies and gentlemen..., you seem to accept as okay that the government, intelligence agencies, would be collecting all of this data on Americans."

"And what makes you mad is that this little twerp has come along and exposed how it's done. Do any of you care why this is being done? It matters to me who is doing it. I've accepted that it's being done just like a lot of you have. But... who is doing it... why are they doing it?  Are any of you interested in that aspect of this?  Well, of course they say national security, and then when they say national security, 'Oh, oh, okay, okay, fine, fine.'  And then you forget about it. Well, you don't forget about it, you just assume. I think everybody's walking around at some level of consciousness, thinking that if somebody wants to find out about them, they can.  In addition to that, everybody, if you go to these social networks, Facebook, Twitter, everybody, or a lot of people are volunteering every bit of information about themselves without having to be spied on.  Putting a lot of trust in everybody, putting a lot of trust in their fellow citizens, in their friends, in government...."

That's Rush Limbaugh, thinking out loud — which the previous post about the WaPo-Pew poll and the interplay of partisanship and ideology made me think of. It's a fascinating monologue, with Rush saying he's "in a holding pattern just to wait and see, because, as you know, I do everything I can to avoid the conventional wisdom of the day, to follow the crowd." I'm sure his antagonists have no idea he's so measured and thoughtful. It's practically Obamaesque. Or do you think Obama merely poses as thoughtful? The extent to which Obama and Rush pretend to be working through the issues is a mystery we're never going to solve.

WaPo-Pew poll: 56% of Americans support NSA access to phone records. 41% oppose.

Back in 2006, when Bush was President and before a court order was part of the procedure, there was a poll that showed 51% support and 47% opposition.

There was also a question about what's "more important right now" — "for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy" or "for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats." In the new poll, 62% favored investigations and only 34% said privacy. The partisan skewing here is fascinating:
Sixty-nine percent of Democrats say terrorism investigations, not privacy, should be the government’s main concern, an 18-percentage-point jump from early January 2006...  Compared with that time, Republicans’ focus on privacy has increased 22 points.

The reversal on the NSA’s practices is even more dramatic. In early 2006, 37 percent of Democrats found the agency’s activities acceptable; now nearly twice that number — 64 percent — say the use of telephone records is okay. By contrast, Republicans slumped from 75 percent acceptable to 52 percent today. 
Compared with a 2002 Pew poll, Democrats are now 12 percentage points more apt to support the government’s monitoring of all e-mails and other online activity if officials say that it might help prevent terrorist attacks. On the flip side, the number of Republicans who say the government should not do this has increased by 13 points.
That reminds me of the poll I took on June 7th, based on my observation that "The NSA data collection program separates the partisans from the ideologues, now that the President is a Democrat":



Maybe there's an algorithm that can get us to what Americans really think of privacy and security, without the filter of partisanship, but I'm afraid there is no such real thinking. It's all, always, inside the filter, even the desire to present oneself as ideologically consistent.

June 10, 2013

"One-armed woman wins Miss Iowa 2013."

It's Nicole Kelly!
“As I grew up I learned to counterbalance the initial stares I received from people with an outgoing personality that would not give into ‘no'.... This means that I tried everything. From baseball, to dance, to diving - there is nothing I would not try. I found my passion within a world where I was giving people permission to stare: the stage.”

Have you heard of the high school club called The League of Aspiring Gentlemen?

There are 50 members at Eau Claire Memorial High School (here in Wisconsin).

The teenage boys dress up — shirts, jackets, ties, slacks — and "learn what it was like to be a gentlemen" ("fashion, taste, manners, etiquette, style and... the finer things in life").

Club founder club Alec Baca explained that the club members remain aspiring gentlemen, because "To declare oneself a gentlemen would be rather ungentlemanly."

I was sent to that link by David Blaska, who commended the League (and complained about some non-League types here in Madison.

Hillary Clinton on Twitter "jokingly styles herself as a 'pantsuit aficionado,' 'hair icon' and 'grass ceiling cracker.'"

Reports the BBC.

I don't know if it was the BBC or Hillary who is to blame for the typo "grass ceiling cracker," but it made me think of the famous old Camille Paglia quote: "If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.''

Which could be rewritten: "If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts, and crowing about breaking grass ceilings, and I do mean crowing, not tweeting, because there wouldn't be any Twitter either."

"Apple, under direction from head designer Sir Jonathan Ive, has removed the 'textured' design of its icons in iOS 7..."

"... in favour of simple, block colours. 'Installing iOS 7 is like getting a new phone, but one you can already use,' said Craig Federighi Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, pictured. 'We completely ran out of green felt and wood. That's got to be good for the environment."

"State Department brass quashed several internal probes into possible sexual assaults, prostitution solicitation and drug dealing by diplomatic personnel overseas..."

"... according to a bombshell broadcast report today."
Internal memos by the department’s internal watchdog, the Inspector General, showed there were open investigations last year of several state employees - including an ambassador suspected of trolling a park for prostitutes — that simply went away, allegedly because of pressure from high-ranking State Department officials, CBS News reported.

"The Government is never slow to say that Hitler was to blame for the Second World War."

"I think the Government is very frightened of taking any sort of view that might suggest we upset the Germans all over again."
"On the British Government's side at the moment what they call the non-judgmental approach seems to me that they are not willing to say outright what the historians I most respect believe, which is the First World War was not morally different from the Second World War, it was an unspeakable experience for Europe and the British people but it was for a cause worth fighting."

"Manning's act was that of a goofball anarchist. Snowden's, by contrast, seems to have been one of civil disobedience."

"That is, he seems to have known exactly what he was doing. Snowden does seem to have some elements of Manning, a mixed-up kid, but on balance seems to me to be more of an Ellsberg -- that is, a disillusioned insider who was appalled by what he saw and made a choice to disclose the existence of certain government programs,"  writes Thomas E. Ricks at Foreign Policy.
I have several friends who have a very different view, and think this guy is more of a Philip Agee, someone who has changed sides, and should be considered at worst a traitor and at best a self-righteous little jerk.... Leaving the country is not what a pure act of civil disobedience would entail. In addition, I find his choice of refuge, Hong Kong, a bit odd. It looks more like a defection than civil disobedience. It is possible that this guy will turn out to be more Guy Burgess than Daniel Ellsberg.
I don't see why knowing exactly what you're doing elevates you over the mixed-up goofball. How do we decide which of these characters to smile upon and which to contemn?

The Althouse Amazon portal users: scary sharp.

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 only if you email us your digital fingerprints will we know it's you.
Shun Premier Santoku Knife, 7-Inch

"Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom."

The practice "fell out of favor in the late 1980s and the 1990s as critics charged that they perpetuated inequality by trapping poor and minority students in low-level groups" but...
Now ability grouping has re-emerged in classrooms all over the country — a trend that has surprised education experts who believed the outcry had all but ended its use....

Teachers and principals who use grouping say that the practice has become indispensable, helping them cope with widely varying levels of ability and achievement....
Interesting way around criticisms, isn't it? Stop what you're doing and then gradually go back to it.

At the Double Arc Café...

Untitled

... you can talk about anything you want, but this is a photo I took this morning from an upstairs window after Meade commented on the perfect parking place for the TT, which is to say, replicating the arc that he made to mark the transition from lawn to garden.

"BENGHAZI, Libya — At least a dozen people were killed here Saturday and dozens wounded after members of a powerful militia fired on protesters surrounding the group’s headquarters..."

"... in an outpouring of public anger at the armed bands that have been blamed for fueling political violence and undermining a fledgling state."

"Greenwald Says ‘There’s A Lot More Coming,’ Argues NSA Revelations Don’t Harm Security."

Well, all right then.

"He called me BRASSBANNER, a code name in the double-barreled style of the National Security Agency... Verax was the name he chose for himself, 'truth teller' in Latin."

In the style of the National Security Agency...

Also the style of "Special Agent" Phillip Sheppard from "Survivor"...

Extraditing Snowden: "Hong Kong Seen as Likely to Extradite Leaker if U.S. Asks."

"When the United States does issue a warrant, the Hong Kong authorities have generally been willing to extradite suspects, said Jonathan Acton-Bond, a barrister and former magistrate who has represented clients in some of the best-known extradition cases here."
Hong Kong enforces extradition laws more than other jurisdictions in Southeast Asia, Mr. Acton-Bond said. But Hong Kong did not follow Britain’s example after the Sept. 11 attacks of lowering the standard of legal evidence required before an extradition to the United States is approved. Hong Kong also has legal protections against politically motivated extradition cases, but they have seldom been invoked....
Mr. Snowden, a 29-year-old computer technician, has said that he had access to lists of all American agents overseas and other information, but that he did not take all of the data....
Snowden said that he was careful about choosing what to release and that he chose not to hurt any particular individuals:
"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest... There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."
But in revealing that he has more and could hurt American agents, he is building up his bargaining position.

Back to the first-linked article (in the NYT):
While Mr. Snowden — or possibly his personal computer — might be a valuable prize for China’s intelligence agencies, experts were skeptical that China would risk harming relations with the United States by exercising its legal authority to block an extradition request from the Justice Department.
So Snowden's choice of Hong Kong was — at least implicitly — pressuring the U.S. not to seek extradition, because once China puts its hands on him, they have their hands on that laptop, with all those names or whatever it was that he took when he "did not take all of the data."
“I don’t think he’s a big enough fish that Beijing would try to intervene to affect the decision of the Hong Kong authorities one way or the other,” said Willy Lam, a specialist in Chinese government decision-making at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
He's not a big enough fish? How big can a fish get?!

"There certainly are some very exciting days at the Supreme Court! And there are also days like these."

Says Tom Goldstein, summing up on the SCOTUSblog live-blog. That's right after this tidbit of dialogue:
Amy Howe: We have the third and final opinion in the California raisin case....

Comment From Will 
"Raisin" is code for "Prop 8", right?

"If the NSA leak is a bid by Obama to gain sympathy, it's working."

Says Meade, just now. (Note to Althouse blog outsiders: Meade is my husband. He doesn't blog. He's a commenter. Sometimes he comments in the comments here, sometimes over at Isthmus, and sometimes not on the Internet at all, but on what we call the Neighborhoodnet, at least in the summer, when the windows are open and voices carry.)

We've been speculating about Obama's possible complicity in leaking the NSA story. To participate in this conspiracy theorizing — come on, you know you want to — you need to come up with reasons why Obama and his people would see a benefit to his political interests in releasing this story. We know that in the post-Benghazi period, the administration has dropped scandals on top of scandals. The IRS scandal was dumped on top of Benghazi, distractingly.

But letting out a national security secret? That's something that should never have come out, as opposed to something that was going to come out eventually (where the decision would be when — not whether — to let it out).

But the NSA program is also different in that — unlike Benghazi, IRS, etc. — it wasn't a screwup. It was quite intentional, and it's something they can and will defend. We're not going to hear the usual statements about doing a thorough investigation into how something like that could have happened and the need, going forward, to insure that it never happens again. It's an opportunity to talk about competence. This scandal/"scandal" requires us to focus on the most serious duty of government — national security — and a program that is carefully planned and implemented and (apparently) completely legal.

Now, libertarians and lefties are enraged, and we've been hearing a lot from them in the last few days. Consider whether this is just what Obama wants. Get Rand Paul over there with Glenn Greenwald and his crowd. Let them blow off steam. Meanwhile, the moderates, including many moderate conservatives, are gravitating toward Obama. The left and right extreme are peeling off together, going to their happy place where the fear of foreign terrorists goes numb when Our Own Government threatens Our Liberty.

But the vast middle is coalescing... around Obama... just as planned.

Discuss!