October 9, 2015

"Kids are like rookie literary critics, always on the hunt for sentimentality. The camera becomes a worrying signifier to them..."

"... that tells them that they are engaged in something that is good for them or Meaningful. They don’t want to be engaged in any activity that is worthy of being photographed."

John Dickerson applies himself assiduously to the task of analyzing why his children, once so unselfconsciously vulnerable to the camera's inspection, became impossible to photograph as they turned adolescent.

Interesting quote — isn't it? — the way he takes himself out of the vignette. The "worrying signifier" — the camera— is in the hand of a human being, the father. And the meaning of the camera isn't merely that they are doing something "Meaningful," but that the father sees meaning in what they are doing. When they were younger, they lacked the ability to think about the father's mind, and now that they have acquired the great power to imagine things from the perspective of another, they object. Is it that "they don’t want to be engaged in any activity that is worthy of being photographed" or that they demand control over what their now-conscious selves mean?

Looncup, the "smart" menstrual cup.

"Looncup is an old-fashioned silicone cup with a twist: It contains a sensor that collects information about the volume and color of your menstrual fluid and an antenna that sends that information to your smartphone, which alerts you when your cup is getting full...."
I am a woman of childbearing age who has never once wanted more information about the volume and color of my menstrual fluid. But maybe I’m missing something.... I am not so solipsistic that I believe that all women should share my personal concerns about the Looncup.... Maybe other women are far more fascinated by the volume and color of their menstrual fluid than I am....

Don Cheadle as Miles Davis.

"It’s just a brief clip, but Cheadle’s got Davis’ husky speaking voice down pat, and the trumpet lessons he took in preparation for the role seem to have paid off...."

Time to bring the avocado plant indoors.


That's 5 pits, planted 2 years ago, after 2 summers outdoors and lots of indoor time.

"As Arab Spring demonstrations overthrow governments across the Middle East, a group of children in Daraa, southern Syria, are arrested and allegedly tortured for scrawling graffiti on a school reading 'the people want to topple the regime.'"

The first frame — "It all starts with graffiti" — from "Syria's war: Everything you need to know about how we got here."

MEANWHILE: "A coalition of labor unions, businesses, lawyers and human rights activists won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011....”
Among the disappointments of what has become known as the Arab Spring — collapsed states in Libya, Syria and Yemen; the return of rule by a military strongman in Egypt; and the rise of the Islamic State in the sectarian caldron of Syria and Iraq — the relative success of Tunisia’s transition to democracy has been a wisp of hope.

No one is hurt, so enjoy the footbridge footage.

Near Lake Waikaremoana, on New Zealand's North Island, last month, a cable snaps and 4 hikers plunge 26 feet and into a river:

"When we get halfway across we hear a muffled sound and before having time to do anything I was thrown into the emptiness, accepting the likelihood I would die."

The new Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice: Rebecca Bradley.

Appointed today by Governor Scott Walker to replace Justice N. Patrick Crooks, who died last month. 

Bradley was already running for election to the seat Crooks had announced he would vacate at the end of his term next spring, and Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling criticized Walker for appointing someone who was a candidate:
"It is unprecedented for a Wisconsin governor of any party to appoint a declared judicial candidate to the Supreme Court this close to an election," said Shilling, D-La Crosse. "This power grab sets a terrible precedent and doesn’t pass the smell test.”
I guess the idea is that Walker could have appointed a place-keeper to finish the term and let the various declared candidates continue on a level playing field toward the spring election.

Would a Democratic governor have resisted giving a favored judicial candidate this boost? There have been many appointments to the Wisconsin Supreme Court of justices who gone on to compete in the next election. Shilling's point is that it's never been this close to the election. That's what's unprecedented and supposedly smelly.

Bradley is a 1996 graduate of Wisconsin Law School. I'm very happy to see our alumna ascend to the high court.

ADDED: The conservative David Blaska had recommended the place-keeper solution:
A dose of political reality: Scott Walker is underwater with Wisconsin voters right now, like it or not. Why put that onus on Judge Rebecca Bradley, who has announced her candidacy in next spring’s election? To the vacancy left by the late Justice Crooks appoint someone like Jim Troupis, now a conservative judge in Dane County, who — I’m guessing — would not seek election to the post. (Although he’d be good.)

The federal government just stopped serving pig products in federal prison — no more pork, ham, or bacon for 206,000 inmates.

You might instinctively cry: Must all go without because some have a religious scruple against eating pork?!

But the government says it's because a survey shows the prisoners don't like pork.
“Why keep pushing food that people don’t want to eat?” asked Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the prison bureau. “Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years"...

“I find it hard to believe that a survey would have found a majority of any population saying, ‘No thanks, I don’t want any bacon,'” said Dave Warner, a spokesman for the Washington-based trade association, which represents the nation’s hog farmers.... 
Warner said pork is healthy and economical.... "Not to throw beef under the bus, but we cost a lot less than beef.”
Why don't they just admit they're doing it to accommodate religion and it's easier to have one rule that works for everyone than to bother with the complexity of alternative meals for the minority who must avoid pig products?

Wolf Blitzer really wants Ben Carson to take a position on whether Barack Obama is a "real black president."

Blitzer didn't think up the term on his own. He had a tweet from Rupert Murdoch: "Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide?"

How did Carson do? Of course, he maintained his utterly unchangeable calm demeanor. Carson's answers included: 1. Murdoch is entitled to his opinion, 2. I don't want to talk about it, 3. It's just "semantics," 4. I don't like political correctness, 5. Obama is the president and he is black, and 6. Murdock was trying to say that a "real black President" would be someone who "really elevated the black community," and Obama hasn't done that.

#6 is the substantive answer, but it's carefully attributed to Murdock. Blitzer, for all his dogged re-questioning, failed to ask the substantive question. I think Blitzer was focused on trying to trap Carson into embracing the concept that of being a "real" black and denying Obama that status (which harkens back to the old "Is Obama black enough?" debate of the 2008 campaign).

Blitzer could have taken the inquiry in a more substantive direction and asked: Do you think that people voted for Obama because they were inspired by the idea of having a black President and that idea meant something important about what would happen as a result of having a black President, something that has not occurred? If yes, do you think that idea still has meaning and that the effect could occur if we had a different black President or do you think it was delusional and people should get beyond attributing meaning to the race of the President?

"At age 48, Frank [Fiorina] decided to retire to (gasp!) to support his wife's career as well as take care of his two daughters..."

"'...something that even her own father didn't quite understand at first."
"As [my father] got older and realized how important a role Frank played in my success — and my happiness, beyond that — he came to really appreciate him,' [Carly Fiorina] said.

Frank has donned several different hats while running his wife's team. While she was CEO of Hewlett-Packard and later when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Frank would sometimes serve as her personal bodyguard. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Frank received a permit to carry a concealed weapon in 2000.
More in this WaPo article from last May, a time Carly Fiorina "hardly registers in national polls." The reporter follows Frank around as he pushes a shopping cart through the aisles of Costco for 45 minutes and buys "[b]ottled water, toilet paper, paper towels, cashews, Goldfish and a toothbrush."

Key tag: single-earner household.

"Toddler's Head Reattached After Internal Decapitation."

"In a six-hour operation, surgeons used a fragment of one of Jaxon's ribs to graft the severed vertebrae together...  But the boy seems to be making a remarkable recovery, kicking a balloon, laughing and hugging his parents...."

$500 million later, the Obama administration gives up on the effort to train and equip rebel forces in Syria...

... in what the NYT calls "an acknowledgment that the beleaguered program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria."
Some of the American-trained Syrian fighters gave at least a quarter of their United States-provided equipment to the Qaeda affiliate in Syria.... More broadly, the program has suffered from a shortage of recruits willing to fight the Islamic State instead of the army of President Bashar al-Assad....

"I swear to you, I think she's totally beautiful and great," says Trump about the Hispanic lady who screams "I love you!"

It's important to establish that Hispanic people love him, but what Trump really wants to talk about is his nose. People Magazine totally screwed around with his nose.

"Don't you worry, boy. I'll get you out of here."

Goodbye to Moochie, Kevin Corcoran, who has died at the age of 66.

"He was the quintessential bratty kid brother or mischievous moppet..." His brother was almost always Tommy Kirk. Kirk lives on, at 73.

On the evening the same-sex marriage opinion was announced, Justice Scalia "suddenly got up onstage and sang" the Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-Changin."

According to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He opted to start swimmin’ lest he sink like a stone and to keep his eyes wide, the chance wouldn't come again, for the loser once had come around to win....

October 8, 2015

Making Cheney look like the kiss of death.

Near the top of Memeorandum right now:

"I always have food with me. It comforts me. In restaurants, when people order food — and they have menus — I hate that."

"Just give me something to eat. Quantity matters, not quality. In North Korea I thought a frozen potato was the fanciest food in the world.... I feel guilty... I never dreamed this life. I did not know this life was coming...."

"Hillary Clinton: I Totally Oppose The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement I Negotiated In 2012..."

"... even though 'In her 2014 memoir, Hillary Clinton listed the negotiation of TPP as one of her key accomplishments as Sec. of State.'  As Twitchy asks, 'Did TPP flip-flopper Hillary even READ her book before sending it to GOP candidates?'"

I have the book in my Kindle, so let me do a search:
So we worked hard to improve and ratify trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and encouraged Canada and the group of countries that became known as the Pacific Alliance— Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile— all open-market democracies driving toward a more prosperous future to join negotiations with Asian nations on TPP, the trans-Pacific trade agreement....

As President Obama explained, the goal of the TPP negotiations is to establish “a high standard, enforceable, meaningful trade agreement” that “is going to be incredibly powerful for American companies who, up until this point, have often been locked out of those markets.” It was also important for American workers, who would benefit from competing on a more level playing field.

And it was a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia. Our country has learned the hard way over the past several decades that globalization and the expansion of international trade brings costs as well as benefits. On the 2008 campaign trail, both then-Senator Obama and I had promised to pursue smarter, fairer trade agreements. Because TPP negotiations are still ongoing, it makes sense to reserve judgment until we can evaluate the final proposed agreement.

It’s safe to say that the TPP won’t be perfect— no deal negotiated among a dozen countries ever will be— but its higher standards, if implemented and enforced, should benefit American businesses and workers....
It "won’t be perfect," but perhaps the imperfections mounted after her involvement ended. I see a loophole she might be able to exploit.

"Having a prefabricated laugh at the expense of my own dear mother without provocation of cause is not my idea of gratitude for the interview..."

"... which took up 10 of more pages in your puerile smokescreen periodical masquerading as a songwriting litany! My mother is not a public figure to be satirized and ridiculed with silliness and malicious nonsense by some scurrilous little wretch with a hard-on for comedy!"

Wrote Bob Dylan in a letter — which he never sent — to Song Talk magazine.

"School District to Pay $600,000 Over Death of Teens Who Were Hypnotized by Principal."

As the lawyer for the 3 students who died put it: "you had someone who decided to perform medical services on kids without a license. He altered the underdeveloped brains of teenagers, and they all ended up dead because of it.”

The principal seems to have been trying to help students (and staff member) deal with various psychological problems through hypnosis and delivered his services to "at least 75 people at the school." The students died through suicide (in 2 cases, both by hanging) and a car accident (in which the young man reportedly had "a strange look on his face" before going off the interstate).

I can't figure out what the cause and effect was, but the school district chose to pay rather than to fight over it.