August 31, 2015

"Chrissie Hynde slammed for saying some rape victims 'have to take responsibility.'"

She was speaking from experience (she was raped by a biker gang when she was 21):
"You can’t f- -k about with people, especially people who wear ‘I Heart Rape’ and ‘On Your Knees’ badges — those motorcycle gangs, that’s what they do.... If you play with fire, you get burnt. It’s not any secret, is it? Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing, and I take full responsibility.... If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be?... If you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him."

Carson ties it up with Trump in Iowa.

A new Monmouth poll.
When Iowa Republicans are asked who they would support in their local caucus, Ben Carson (23%) and Donald Trump (23%) tie for the top spot. The next tier of candidates includes Carly Fiorina (10%) and Ted Cruz (9%), followed by Scott Walker (7%), Jeb Bush (5%), John Kasich (4%), Marco Rubio (4%), and Rand Paul (3%)....

After 6 posts, I see that the blog has a theme this morning — almost and inadvertently.

The theme is fingers and hands. 3 posts are absolutely clearly on theme:

1. "Slate's education columnist Rebecca Schuman flaunts a series of photographs of herself giving her infant the finger."

2. "Barney's ad gets my attention, reveals secrets" focuses on 2 background figures who are picking at something with their hands as well as hands in the foreground: "I included the hand in my close-up of the Manet painting because it matches the central hand in the Barney's ad."

3. "Donald Trump is emasculating Jeb Bush" talks about Trump's "hand gestures — fingers up, palms out, wave-y wave-y... 'jazz hands'..."

The other 3 posts are harder to portray as on theme, but let me try:

1. "... Wes Craven — of the 'Nightmare on Elm Street"' and 'Scream' movies — who has died, at the age of 76." That one just needs an image:

2. "President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, using his executive power to restore an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America." That one has a poll and the winning option by far is "Obama does too much by executive order." Again, the solution is an image. I pick the handsiest one:

3. The most difficult to whip into theme is: "ISIS money — coins minted in gold, silver, and copper." But one need only explore the psychology of the preference for precious-metal coins over paper money. It's the desire to hold the value in your hands. Here, this can get your started, from The New Republic: "Feces and the Gold Standard: A Psychological Explanation of Goldbuggery."

"Donald Trump is emasculating Jeb Bush."

An interesting thesis by GOP strategist Steve Schmidt.

And a convenient place for me to drop an observation of mine. Trump seems hyper-masculine in some ways, but quite feminine in others. For one thing, those hand gestures — fingers up, palms out, wave-y wave-y. The accompanying effusive speech — "a big, beautiful, powerful wall," etc. etc. etc.

ADDED: Go ahead. Try to imitate Trump. What do you find yourself doing? Not just the "jazz hands," but don't you push out your chest and jiggle along with your over emphatic words? Mixed in, there's the super-macho scowling, pushed out lower lip, and gruff voice — screaming overcompensation.

Barney's ad gets my attention, reveals secrets.

Okay, that was in my email. Ludicrous, no? But! Look closely. What's going on in the background? That stooping and picking:

"President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, using his executive power..."

"... to restore an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America."
Mr. Obama, freed from the political constraints of an impending election in the latter half of his second term, was also moving to put to rest a yearslong fight over the name of the mountain that has pit Alaska against electorally powerful Ohio, the birthplace of President William McKinley, for whom it was christened in 1896.

The government formally recognized the name in 1917, and efforts to reverse the move began in Alaska in 1975. In an awkward compromise struck in 1980, the national park surrounding it was named Denali National Park and Preserve, but the mountain continued to be called Mount McKinley....

The mountain came to be known as Mount McKinley after a gold prospector who had just emerged from exploring the Alaska Range heard that Mr. McKinley had won the Republican presidential nomination, and declared that the tallest peak should be named in his honor as a show of support....
I'd always assumed the mountain got the name as a consequence of the assassination of President McKinley, they way so many things were named after John F. Kennedy. That wasn't the case, and that makes the renaming more apt.

Do you approve of Obama's restoration of the mountain's name? free polls

"Horror movies have to show us something that hasn’t been shown before so that the audience is completely taken aback."

"You see, it’s not just that people want to be scared; people are scared."

Said Wes Craven — of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Scream" movies — who has died, at the age of 76.

Slate's education columnist Rebecca Schuman flaunts a series of photographs of herself giving her infant the finger.

"Sometimes, it takes longer to put the little tyrant to sleep than she’ll deign to remain asleep. It is on those days that I celebrate her hard-won unconsciousness by taking a nice little selfie in which she’s conked out, and I’m flipping her the bird. Then I share that selfie on social media, because otherwise it doesn’t exist. We’ve now got quite a little gallery."

The column quotes a number of philosophers — Aristotle, Kant, Mill — and, having absorbed their lessons in ethics, ends:
For now, I can definitively say that creating my baby bird gallery achieves happiness for me. As long as she keeps refusing to sleep... I will continue expressing... my simultaneous victory and frustration.... It remains to be seen whether my daughter will be too sensitive to take that kind of joke, once she learns what it means. And if she is, I’ll consider the experiment a failure, and I’ll gladly stop doing it. On camera, that is.
Did you find that funny... or are you too sensitive? The daughter only arrives at the personhood inherent in getting power to control her own image on the internet after she learns what giving somebody the finger means. The finger means "fuck you" (or "shove it up your ass"or "go fuck yourself"). When is Schuman going to teach that meaning? When she does teach her that and when the girl sees what she did with her way back when she didn't know what it meant, if she gives mother the finger, will Schuman take that joke? Will Schuman take all that will follow on as the girl challenges her and taunts her with too sensitive and can't take a joke? The "little tyrant" who now frustrates Schuman with crying and difficulty getting to sleep will have far more complicated and active challenges in these experiments that lie ahead, including, perhaps, photographs of Schuman, expressing hostility and posted on the internet.

ADDED: I think what's going on here is Mommy Blogging, the late years. I haven't been a Mommy Blog reader, so I don't know what all has gone on in that genre. Edgy stuff becomes the norm, as women cue other women that it's okay and really helpful and funny to show those feelings that otherwise made them feel alone and ashamed. What can a Mommy Blogger do to surprise and excite readers now? Compare porn.

AND: One question is: Is she a good mother? But another is: Is she a good comedian? Clearly, she thinks she's hilarious. She's a prop comic and the prop is her baby.

ISIS money — coins minted in gold, silver, and copper.

Supposedly breaking free of "the capitalist financial system of enslavement, underpinned by a piece of paper called the Federal Reserve dollar note."
Minting the coins is relatively easy, [said Baghdad-based economist Basim Jameel], as goldsmiths in Mosul imported machines from Italy in recent years, each one able to produce about 5,000 coins a day. The metals probably come from banks the group seized, ransoms, the homes of Christians and other minorities who fled, he said....

Oil, the group said in the video, will now only be sold for gold.... Because Islamic State is classified as a terrorist group, the coins can’t be traded legally.

“They’ll only be used in these areas and people will only buy these coins for their daily needs and expenses,” said the economist Jameel. “Nobody outside their control will accept the currency and I don’t know how they’ll keep up with demand, as they are losing resources day after day,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is a media propaganda tool.”

August 30, 2015

It's hard to photograph the corpse flower.

Yesterday, at Olbrich Gardens.


Even if no one is plunging his head into it — drawn by the famous stench — there are too many signs.


It seems important to get the full misshapen phallus (amorphophallus) in the picture, in which case...


... a closeup feels cut off...

Carson sneaking up on Trump.

"The latest Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows billionaire Trump with the support of 23 percent of likely Republican caucus participants, followed by Carson at 18 percent. When first and second choices are combined, Carson is tied with Trump."

Is Trump clearing the path for Carson? Trump may be causing people to recognize that they don't want a traditional politician more than that the nontraditional person they want is Trump.

Let's look at the word "patsy" — used yesterday by Donald Trump to describe the United States.

Donald Trump filled a speech Saturday with images of the United States on the world stage getting mistreated and taken advantage of — and declared that if he’s elected president in 2016, he won’t let that happen to America anymore....

“We’re tired of being, like, the patsy for everybody,” Trump told those gathered at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies in Nashville.
Is "patsy" an unusual word these days — an old-man word? I see a Tampa Tribune article from a couple weeks ago, "Reject patsy treaty with Iran." And in the NYT last April: "prosecutors were laying down a marker that Dzhokhar [Tsarnaev] was instead a willful young man who was nobody’s patsy." So I'm leaning toward seeing "patsy" as a word with present-day currency.

Perhaps you associate the word with Lee Harvey Oswald:

I associate the word with Patti Smith. Her song about Patty Hearst — a version of "Hey Joe" — ends with the lines: "I am no little pretty little rich girl/I am nobody's million dollar baby, I am nobody's patsy anymore/And I feel so free." Smith hits the word "patsy" hard, and there's no mistaking the intention to resonate with the name "Patty/Patti."

Hearing Trump use the word, I joked that he could be accused of sexism, using a woman's name to express ideas about gullibility and weakness. But from an etymological perspective, "patsy" is more likely related to the man's name Patrick. I got that from the (unlinkable OED) which adds "perhaps influenced by association with Italian pazzo crazy" and "Apparently spread in theatrical slang through the name of a character in a theatrical sketch."
1889   H. F. Reddall Fact, Fancy & Fable 404   A party of minstrels in Boston, about twenty years ago, had a performance... When the pedagogue asked in a rage, ‘Who did that?’, the boys would answer, ‘Patsy Bolivar!’... The phrase..spread beyond the limits of the minstrel performance, and when a scapegoat was alluded to, it was in the name of ‘Patsy Bolivar’..the one who is always blamed for everything.

A study of 61 groups of lawyers by practice area determines that the most liberal group is...

... law professors.

The only surprise is that law professors were considered "lawyers" in a "practice area."

"I used my 'I'm not making a tag for this' tag because I couldn't think of an existing tag that fit or a new idea for a tag..."

"... that would apply to other posts in the future. John suggested 'self-censorship' and — proving the likelihood of future applicability — pointed to 4 old posts that could take the tag...."

Death by falling.

1, "Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the first African-American actor to play the iconic lead role of Jean Valjean in the popular Broadway musical 'Les Misérables,' died on Friday after falling from a fire escape in Brooklyn. He was 21.... The police said that Mr. Jean-Baptiste’s death 'appeared to be accidental.' They said he fell from the fourth-floor fire escape of an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Mr. Jean-Baptiste was sitting on the fire escape with a 23-year-old female friend, the police said, when he stood up, slipped and fell backward to the street below."

2. "A man in his early 60s died Saturday night after falling more than 40 feet from the upper deck at Turner Field during the seventh inning of the Yankees’ 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.... According to eyewitnesses, a middle-aged man wearing a Braves cap stood up from his seat in the second row behind home plate to boo the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez when he was announced as a pinch-hitter. The man then seemed to lose his balance and fell forward over several women who were seated in the front row. He landed on a concrete walkway in the lower bowl of the stadium, not far from where family members of Yankees and Braves players were sitting."

Oliver Sacks has died.

We knew he was dying. He wrote about it. (Eloquently, as always.) But it's very sad to see that he has departed. He gave us so many fascinating books over the decades. What a terrible loss!

Here's the NYT obituary, which — amid the good — includes the criticism:
Dr. Sacks began his medical career as a researcher but gave up early.... “I lost samples,” he told an interviewer in 2005. “I broke machines. Finally they said to me: ‘Sacks, you’re a menace. Get out. Go see patients. They matter less.’ ”...

Reviewers [of his books] praised his empathy and his graceful prose. Scientists could be dismissive, however, complaining that his clinical tales put too much emphasis on the tales and not enough on the clinical. A London neuroscientist, Ray Dolan, told The Guardian in 2005: “Whether Dr. Sacks has provided any scientific insights into the neurological conditions he has written about in his numerous books is open to question. I have always felt uncomfortable about this side of this work, and especially the tendency for Dr. Sacks to be an ever-present dramatis persona.”

In an otherwise laudatory review of “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” in The New York Times Book Review, the neuropsychologist John C. Marshall took issue with what he saw as Dr. Sacks’s faux-naïve presentation (“He would have us believe that an experienced neurologist could fail to have read anything about many of the standard syndromes”), and called his blend of medicine and philosophy “insightful, compassionate, moving and, on occasion, simply infuriating.”

More damningly, the disability-rights activist Tom Shakespeare accused Dr. Sacks of exploiting the people he wrote about, calling him “the man who mistook his patients for a literary career.”
ADDED: "I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying.... I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers...."

August 29, 2015

"Three top Jeb Bush fundraisers abruptly parted ways with his presidential campaign on Friday, amid internal personality conflicts and questions about the strength of his candidacy..."

"... POLITICO has learned."
There are different versions of what transpired...

Frontrunner Donald Trump seized on the POLITICO report Saturday morning and took a shot at his rival on Twitter: “Wow, Jeb Bush just lost three of his top fundraisers - they quit!”...

"Pope Francis Blesses a Lesbian, Her Family, and Her Writing For Kids."

It seems.

"I ghosted my fiancé when I had definitive proof he had been running around on me with multiple people for years. My youthful years!"

"I moved out when he went away on a study excursion for a week. I emotionally and financially supported him through four years of university and then some. He had no idea why I left and I have never told him that I had discovered his deceptive ways. I had nothing to say but wanted to mess with him. I was told by a mutual friend he was utterly perplexed by the situation. I wish I could have seen his face when the penny dropped. I regret nothing and would do the same if I were cheated on again in such a fashion."

From "Readers Respond to... 'Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment.'"

This fits with my old aphorism "Better than nothing is a high standard." Sometimes, especially when there are a lot of things you could say, the best thing to say is nothing. Ghosting is going big on nothing.

Goodbye to Wrangler Jane.

Melody Patterson has died at the age of 66.

Ken Berry reminds me of Scott Walker: