July 1, 2015

At the Zinnia Café...


... we're just getting started.

"If you listen to something on audio, every flaw in a writer’s work, the repetitions of words and the clumsy phrases, they all stand out."

"As a writer, I say to myself, how will that sound?," says Stephen King, who's obsessed with audiobooks.

"Here's how libertarianism has led me and my partner into polyamory, and why America will have to grapple with this issue next."

An article at The Federalist:
“This is it!” I thought. I’d finally found what seemed like a desirable alternative to the wedded misery I saw all around me. Brad—although skeptical about my motives—was thrilled at the prospect of opening up our relationship. After much philosophical and emotional discussion, we decided to give polyamory a chance. Wanting a fresh start, we decided to move away from our old jobs and friends in Raleigh to Asheville, a progressive, “poly”-friendly town in the Appalachians....

Since we’ve discovered polyamory, we don’t care about new houses or new cars or vacations. What really makes us tick is the idea of falling in love, over and over and over again. Now, we have the best of both worlds....
I'm not agreeing with this. Just thought you might want to read it and talk about it. The description of married sex that begins the article is the dumbest self-confessed behavior by a woman I've read since yesterday when people were linking to that Pajamas Media writer who got locked in a bedroom.

Anyway, the Federalist writer isn't even married to her Brad — whose privacy she blithely invades — so I don't know what this has to do with the recent same-sex marriage issue or why America should have to grapple with it. It's your life, lady. There's no legal issue, no role of government that needs to be figured out. We don't need to "grapple" with what makes you "tick."

Libertarians! I thought they're supposed to want to be left alone. Leave me alone.

Post-hysterectomy, a woman is prescribed testosterone, and she describes "What it’s like to live like a man."

This is by Ann Mallen, a "writer of literary fiction and nonfiction":
[The doctor] warned me of “odd symptoms,” but she didn’t mention this constant sexual distraction. Or the irrational anger. The day before, I dropped a fork in the kitchen and kicked it. It clattered into the base of the cabinet, but that wasn’t enough. I picked it up and threw it into the sink with a force intended to harm. When the mailman carelessly slammed a box onto the front steps, I resisted the urge to slap him silly....

Living for a few weeks with extra testosterone gave me a new understanding of men.... Could I have achieved this compassion any other way? Empathy is complex...
I know: A woman becomes more like a man and gets empathy and finds it complex? That's after the prescription is corrected.

She ends with some cogitation on transgenderism:
[T]he standards of care for people transitioning hormonally to the opposite sex are stringent and include significant counseling and monitoring by a medical doctor. Some people transition though, and some, like me, spend time with the wrong prescription. We then process the world through a different lens of emotion and analysis. Yet, the lens is the transient thing.

It is possible to live as either male or female. Which means, of course, underneath the high-pitched whine of our sex hormones, underneath the lens, we are neither.
Of course? It's amazing the insights people bring home from their drug journeys. (If that last part were true, what is the problem to be solved with hormones?)

"After much soul-searching, I am filing a civil-rights lawsuit on Wednesday against Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm."

"I fear his retaliation, given what I know of his methods, but the Chisholm campaign against me that began at dawn on Sept. 14, 2011, requires a legal response to discourage the prosecutor’s continued abuse of his office," writes Cindy Archer in The Wall Street Journal (where you can get past the pay-wall by Googling text for your own link). Read the whole thing to see what happened to Archer.
I was targeted because of my politics — in plain violation of the First Amendment and federal civil-rights statutes.
She doesn't mention whether she's suing in federal or state court, but she's citing federal law as the basis for her claims.

I've read Archer's story before, but the presentation of the facts in this new piece highlights some aspects of the invasion of privacy that I had not noticed. The arrival of government agents at her house "was so unexpected and frightening that I ran down from my bedroom without clothes on." I don't know if that means completely naked. The agents "yelled" at her to get dressed. Let into the house, they "barged into the bathroom where my partner was showering," so a second woman was exposed naked. And, in the search: "My deceased mother’s belongings were strewn across the floor."

These are very sympathetic facts. 

Today's Freddy Martin tune.

In case yesterday's "Somebody Goofed" (1954) was not enough, here's "Managua, Nicaragua" (1947)(scroll forward to 1:12 if you want to begin at the vocals):

The lyrics are, by present-day standards, politically incorrect — "Managua, Nicaragua is a heavenly place/You ask a señorita for a 'leetle' embrace/She answers you, 'Caramba! scram-ba bambarito'/In Managua, Nicaragua, that's 'No'" — but at least "no" means "no."

Here's the Wikipedia article on Freddy Martin (born 1906, died 1983). Excerpt:
Freddy Martin was nicknamed "Mr. Silvertone"... He has... been idolized by many... saxophonists.... Although his playing has been admired by so many jazz musicians, Freddy Martin never tried to be a jazz musician. Martin always led a sweet styled band. Unlike most sweet bands that just played dull music, Martin's band turned out to be one of the most musical and most melodic of all the typical hotel-room sweet bands. According to George T. Simon, Freddy's band was "one of the most pleasant, most relaxed dance bands that ever flowed across the band scene."

"So, how about polyandry?"

Hagar asks in the comments to "Jonathan Rauch doubles down on the supply-of-women argument for why polygamy is not like same-sex marriage." Briefly, the supply-of-women argument says that government may exclude polygamists from the fundamental freedom to marry because if some men marry more than one woman, there will be fewer women available to pair up with unmarried men thereby cure them of their dangerous destructiveness.

Hagar is suggesting that polyandry could solve the problem. Everyone's picturing polygyny, which Jonathan Rauch called "almost invariably the real-world pattern." Rauch also points to a map, showing the prevalence of polygamy in countries that where women are not equal. But, as I say in the earlier post, this is America, and the question is what will happen going forward. The supply-of-women argument asks us to worry about what will happen going forward.

So Hagar's question is apt. Why must we deny women the right to choose to be one of multiple wives in a polygynous marriage if the same interest — marrying up the unmarried men — could be served by empowering, encouraging, and even subsidizing — rampant polyandry? That ought to vacuum up the excess men that are screwing up the world (according to the supply-of-women argument!).

"Notably absent from this top five... are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (6%, down from 14% in May) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (6%, down slightly from 10%)."

"Both had been top five candidates in each of the last two CNN/ORC polls, and Walker had been in the top five since February."
Trump's competitiveness among those older and more conservative Republicans also helps explain Walker's and Rubio's declines. In April, 16% of Republicans age 50 or older backed Rubio, 14% Walker. Now, Rubio has just 6% among this group and Walker has 7%. Trump grew from 2% in May to 14% now."
Wow. Trump is really helping Jeb!

That's an exclamation point at the the end of a sentence I'm exclaiming, not me doing the Jeb! logo.

Anyway, Jeb is at 19% in the new poll, up from 13% in May. So, the high-name-recognition Trump is drawing attention away from the newcomerish Walker and Rubio, right when they need to get traction. It's all working out as if Jeb! and Trump! planned it all in a backroom.

Jonathan Rauch doubles down on the supply-of-women argument for why polygamy is not like same-sex marriage.

Here's my earlier post, "I've got a problem with the supply-of-women argument for distinguishing polygamy from same-sex marriage," poking Rauch (and Richard Posner) for relying on the social interest in preserving more women for men. They seem to think women are "some kind of natural resource to be conserved for the benefit of males." Like there needs to be a bag limit.

Rauch now has another article, going on at greater length and still failing to take account of the problem:
[W]hen a high-status man takes two wives (and one man taking many wives, or polygyny, is almost invariably the real-world pattern), a lower-status man gets no wife. If the high-status man takes three wives, two lower-status men get no wives. And so on.

This competitive, zero-sum dynamic sets off a competition among high-status men to hoard marriage opportunities, which leaves lower-status men out in the cold. Those men, denied access to life's most stabilizing and civilizing institution, are unfairly disadvantaged and often turn to behaviors like crime and violence.
In this view, women are society's tools, to be used to tame men. If some men are successful in winning too many women — if, after getting one woman, they can continue to take additional women out of the pool of potential wives — then there are fewer women left over to do the dirty work of civilizing the less desirable men, men who, undomesticated, run wild and do destructive things.

Rauch does pause to look at it from the female perspective:

"With his welcoming demeanor and deep, hearty laugh—imagine Santa Claus bellowing 'ho, ho, ho'—Clarence Thomas has carried out dozens of acts of kindness on the court..."

"...the kind never reported by the mainstream media," writes Ted Cruz in an excerpt from his new book, "A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America." Cruz tells the story of how one of his co-clerks — when he was clerking for Chief Justice Rehnquist — had "befriended and tutored a young African-American boy named Carlos."
The boy had never left Arkansas before, but Rick and his wife paid to fly him up to D.C. Rick emailed all nine chambers at the court, saying that this young boy would be in town, and asking if any of the justices would be willing to meet with him. Two offices responded—those of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas. Ginsburg is an incredibly talented lawyer and jurist, and it was very kind of her to meet with Carlos, but her prim demeanor is that of a legal librarian, and so it was difficult for her and the young boy from Arkansas to connect. Clarence Thomas understood the world that Carlos had come from.

At the end of their two-hour conversation, Carlos observed that Thomas was a Dallas Cowboys fan. (Thomas had a framed picture of himself with quarterback Troy Aikman in his office.) The kid was very impressed—that was way cooler than the Supreme Court—and Thomas noticed. So Thomas rose from his chair, walked to his desk, and showed the boy a Super Bowl ticket, encased in Lucite, and signed by Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith. He handed the ticket to the young man.

“I’m going to give you this,” Thomas said. “But I want you to promise me that you will get A’s in school next year.”

The young man, astonished and wide-eyed, nodded in agreement.
We're also told that Thomas is "beloved by the court’s janitors, guards and support staff members, with whom he connects on a real, personal level."

June 30, 2015

"I created the ISIS dildo flag at London Pride to start a dialogue, not get a laugh."

"I flew the flag in London’s gay pride parade because ISIS is deserving of mockery and disrespect. I never thought CNN would think it was real."

"He was kind of an interesting mutt."

It's Ted Cruz, always twirling, twirling for freedom.

ADDED: This is nicely humanizing, like Bill Clinton playing the sax on Arsenio or Nixon doing "Sock it to me" on "Laugh-In."

"Somebody Goofed."

Am I the only person on the face of the earth who remembers this song?
pollcode.com free polls

"No. 2 beats No. 1, and you can hear the 'U-S-A! U-S-A!' chants from here."

"Gutsy and surprisingly dominant performance from the United States. Surprisingly wimpy one from Germany, which scored 10 goals in its first game of the tournament but goes home after scoring none tonight."

Keep your religion institutionalized!

"Certainly the first amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs. I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America."

Said Tammy Baldwin, the U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, responding to a question about the consequences of the same-sex marriage case.

"Isn’t it enough to be denied the 'constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage'?"

"A constellation my coupled queer sisters and brethren now can hold dearly if they just make it official? Once again, being single is the dreary, awful, mournful alternative to marriage. A condition to be pitied, and quickly corrected by a sprint to City Hall." Writes Michael Cobb, English prof and author of “Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled.”
In granting same-sex couples “equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” Justice Kennedy throws everyone under the “just married” limo....

I am usually a relatively happy single person who wrote a book advocating for the dignity of single people... But even I hear coupledom’s call: I sometimes crave a long-term relationship with that great guy; I watch Ang Lee’s take on “Sense and Sensibility” monthly; I’ve been in a number of relationships that broke my heart — all of which feels very undignified. But none of those longings, hauntings and hurts should pave the way for my constitutional dignity....

What Justice Kennedy, and everyone else too, needs to remember is that simply being yourself — your single self — is already the fundamental form of dignity. Founding your dignity on something as flimsy and volatile as a sexual connection insures dignity’s precariousness as it enshrines your inherent unworthiness as a single individual.
I agree. There is dignity in living solo. Justice Kennedy went too far in extolling marriage as the highest pinnacle of human life. But... even when you are single, part of your dignity lies in knowing that you could marry if you found someone to love, who loved you, and the 2 of you wanted to participate in the government-approved form of dignifying a 2-person relationship. Cobb seems to be a gay man, and even if he doesn't find the "great guy" he "sometimes crave[s]" for a "long-term relationship," he's put in a better place even now by knowing that if he did, they could marry.

I remember years ago, maybe a quarter century ago, a former student of mine, a gay man, told me that he hadn't made up his mind about same-sex marriage. Was it something he should support? That was back when many gay people (like many feminists) — I'm remembering this subjectively — wanted to challenge the traditional structures. Perhaps marriage was the patriarchy, the straight white males oppressing us. The idea I ventured, and he seemed to agree with was: If there's some club that excludes women, I don't like that, even if it's a club I don't want to join.

Another way to put that is: Seeing a "whites only" water fountain hurts a black person who is not currently thirsty.

Anniston, Alabama... Coldwater Mountain...

The Pope has "specifically requested" coca leaves.

And he will chew them if he thinks it's "right."


... launches.