March 29, 2015

People dancing in movies are all doing the same dance.

Except Cher. She's doing The Monkey.

Based on that set of clips the essential movie dance is: Face forward, plant your feet apart, elbows up and out sideways, punch one fists up and then the other in a way that causes movement in the rest of your body. No real footwork is involved. The actors in the movies in that video are not Fred Astaire.

Why am I avoiding this Indiana RFRA story?

I've got to examine my own soul! I see it — e.g., here —  and I know I'm avoiding it. There is something to examine. Why is Indiana getting into so much trouble over a type of law that used to be extremely popular? I guess it has something to do with Hobby Lobby and something to do with all that wedding cake business. There was a time when religionists had the ascendancy, and their pleas for relief from the burdens of generally applicable laws fell on the empathetic ears of conservatives and liberals alike.

Look at how pleased Bill Clinton was to sign what was then perceived as important civil rights legislation.

The tables have turned. And now all the liberals are remembering how much they love Antonin Scalia. I mean, not really, but to be consistent, those who are denouncing hapless Governor Mike Pence should be extolling Scalia who ushered in the era of "Religious Freedom" legislation when he wrote:
We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594-595 (1940):
Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities.
(Footnote omitted.) We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. "Laws," we said, are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.

Subsequent decisions have consistently held that the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).
Okay, I'm working my way through this resistance to the topic. What I see is: A different group is activated now and everything looks different. What I feel is: Exquisitely distanced amusement.

"Show me a party to which women are invited but that they overwhelmingly choose to avoid..."

"... and I'll show you a party to which I'd ask you to remember not to invite me."

Guess what the "party" is before clicking through.

"Anyone who saw Reid would say that he looked like he had been beaten up by a guy with a hard left, maybe using brass knuckles..."

"When a guy shows up at a Las Vegas emergency room on New Year’s Day with severe facial injuries and broken ribs, and gives as an explanation the functional equivalent of 'I walked into a doorknob,' it isn’t hard to guess that he ran afoul of mobsters. Yet the national press has studiously averted its eyes from Reid’s condition, and has refused to investigate the cause of his injuries. To my knowledge, every Washington reporter has at least pretended to believe Reid’s story, and none, as far as I can tell, has inquired further."
Writes John Hinderaker, who inquires further.
What happened to Reid is not just a matter of curiosity. Everyone knows that the Reid family has gotten rich, even though Reid has spent his entire career as a public employee. It is known that a considerable part of his fortune came from being cut in on sweetheart Las Vegas land deals that included at least one person associated with organized crime as a principal....

"Is today the day it's getting warm, or is today the ice pellets day?"

"Ice pellets," Meade answers.

"Jeb, or '45,' as he is already being called, hasn’t even announced, and we’re already trapped in the byzantine psyche of Bushworld."

Writes Maureen Dowd.
[H]e’s being yanked in a tug of war between his father’s side, which insists privately that Jeb is a realist who surely must have disapproved of the Iraq invasion, and his brother’s side, which publicly demands that Jeb go full-hawk, becoming the third Bush to use the military in Iraq....
Though Jeb is more apt to do his homework, he’s unformed on foreign policy, like his brother — except that his brother was elected before 9/11. Now the neocons who treated W. like a host body for their own agenda are swirling around Jeb, ready to inhabit another President Bush....

March 28, 2015


In the Final 4!

"I have to say that one of the biggest changes in my lifetime, is the phenomenon of men wearing shorts. Men never wore shorts when I was young."

"There are few things I would rather see less, to tell you the truth. I'd just as soon see someone coming toward me with a hand grenade. This is one of the worst changes, by far. It's disgusting. To have to sit next to grown men on the subway in the summer, and they're wearing shorts? It's repulsive. They look ridiculous, like children, and I can't take them seriously. It's like any other sort of revealing clothing, in that the people you'd most like to see them on aren't wearing them. And if they are, it's probably their job to wear them. My fashion advice, particularly to men wearing shorts: Ask yourself, 'Could I make a living modeling these shorts?' If the answer is no, then change your clothes. Put on a pair of pants.... All these clothes that you see people wearing, the yoga clothes—even men wear them!—it's just another way of being in pajamas. You need more natural beauty to get away with things like that. What's so great thing about clothes is that they're artificial—you can lie, you can choose the way you look, which is not true of natural beauty. So if you're naturally beautiful, wear what you want, but that's .01% of people. Most people just aren't good looking enough to wear what they have on. They should change. They should get some slacks and a nice overcoat."

Said Fran Lebowitz, in an Elle interview that's full of readable stuff, like (about Hillary) "I think her lack of style comes naturally. I do, I really do. She has no style, zero. Of course there's millions of women like this, it's just that not everyone's looking at them constantly." And "Well, what if drag queens just really let themselves go, pretending not to try, like most women?" Like most women... including Hillary.

"When standardized tests are shared nationwide — as they now are, under the Common Core system that's been adopted in 46 states..."

"... cheating suddenly becomes a whole lot easier. Especially since teenagers now share just about everything on social media."

Computers are undermining efforts to standardize children. That's a turnabout. You'll have to write exams that can't be cheated on. That's hard to do!

"Your Beautiful, Feminine Period Stains Are Against Instagram Guidelines."

"Rupi Kaur, a Sikh poet living in Canada, posted the above image on Instagram early this week—and swiftly got hit with... 'We removed your post because it doesn't follow our Community Guidelines."

And Kaur said:
thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. the girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. it is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines i will repost it again. i will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified. pornified. and treated less than human. thank you

"Clean Reader — an e-reader app designed to ferret out, and block, profanity in novels and nonfiction..."

Anything wrong with that?
Blogger — and romance novel aficionado — Jennifer Porter has drawn up a rundown of the common replacements for words the app deems profanity. Among some of the noteworthies: from "whore" to "hussy," from "badass" to "tough" and, somewhat confusingly, from "vagina" to "bottom."
ADDED: "Chaucer used 'Belle Chose' (Pretty Thing) and 'Quondam' (Whatever) in The Canterbury Tales."

"But there's a fundamental problem with the latest Carrie movie and Carrie The Musical..."

"They both try to turn her into a heroine, and her story into one of female empowerment, and it's not."
Carrie does deal with empowerment, but it's something brand new and terrifying...

[T]his is key: Carrie's a victim, and while she may get revenge – on everyone, deserving or not – she never enjoys anything remotely approaching a feminist sense of liberation. She's bullied mercilessly at school and abused at home. The character was a composite of two girls – referred to by the aliases of Tina White and Sandra Irving – King knew during high school, both of whom eventually committed suicide. "There is a goat in every class, the kid who ... stands at the end of the pecking order," King once wrote. "This was Tina. Not because she was stupid (she wasn't), and not because her family was peculiar (it was) but because she wore the same clothes to school every day."

"What's a 'time lime'?"

An absurd question was asked of me this morning, after autocorrect discovered the puzzling fruit in my mangled effort to type "time limit." I salute the robots who humorlessly open the doors to humor. I love the idea of a Time Lime. What is it? I'm contemplating that question to the sound of this 1971 Harry Nilsson song:

IN THE COMMENTS: Horseball said: "Time Lime is the literal translation of the title under which 'A Clockwork Orange' was sold in Urdu."

"If you assumed that the man who said, 'The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe in it,' would not be pleased..."

"... that a picture of himself was to be displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, you’d be dead wrong. Yes, my dad, George Carlin, was famous for elucidating his displeasure with authorities like the government, big business, the military, and pretty much any other large institution you could name. But that was his job, and yes, of course, his personal stance. When it came to the individual versus institutions, dad almost always took the side of the individual, the underdog. He believed this was the only ethical choice to make."

That's Kelly Carlin, writing for one institution — The Smithsonian Institution — about another institution — the great George Carlin. You can see the (photographic) portrait at the link.

And here's the relaunched George Carlin website: Lots of photos there, like this one:

Kelly says that they are going to be streaming a lot of audio, from "a box of audiocassettes that my dad had kept over the years, starting with shows in the 1960s, ones that were important him, kind of seminal moments in his career."
And we've been listening to them and archiving them. And what's really surprising is that when most people think of my dad, they think of, of course, the albums and stuff, but really his HBO shows. And he was so polished and perfect on those HBO shows. And a lot of these audiocassettes and these concerts were from the '70s and '80s when he was playing on stage and experimenting still.
Wow! Thanks! Perfect. I mean, it will be perfect to get the imperfection

"Liberals used to love the First Amendment."

"But that was in an era when courts used it mostly to protect powerless people like civil rights activists and war protesters," writes Adam Liptak in The New York Times.
“Corporations have begun to displace individuals as the direct beneficiaries of the First Amendment,” Professor Coates wrote. The trend, he added, is “recent but accelerating.”
Hmm. I don't know. In conlaw class, I was just teaching the great 1964 landmark case — that loved-by-liberals case — New York Times v. Sullivan. But, fortunately, I've got The New York Times to set me straight. Corporations are not people.

Okay. Thanks to Adam Liptak, a man I'm noticing only because the corporate platform of The New York Times elevates him high above all the poor and puny anonymities....

And I'm fascinated by this notion that the Constitution ought to mean what would make liberals love it. Hey, Supreme Court, why don't you make the Constitution lovable again? We used to love you, First Amendment, but you changed.

Ironically, back when Liptak's liberals loved the First Amendment, a big deal was always made about how it protects the speech you hate. That was the challenge, to love the freedom itself. Seems like you changed.

Pick a year — 2024? 2028? 2032?... 2020?

I invite you to speculate: When will we have a President who is not someone we currently know about?

This question occurred to me yesterday, but it came back to mind when I was reading the NYT this morning and the sidebar invited me to read something from the archive, from 25 years ago: "First Black Elected to Head Harvard's Law Review."
''The fact that I've been elected shows a lot of progress,'' Mr. Obama said today in an interview. ''It's encouraging. But it's important that stories like mine aren't used to say that everything is O.K. for blacks. You have to remember that for every one of me, there are hundreds or thousands of black students with at least equal talent who don't get a chance,'' he said, alluding to poverty or growing up in a drug environment.'...

''For better or for worse, people will view it as historically significant,'' said Prof. Randall Kennedy, who teaches contracts and race relations law. ''But I hope it won't overwhelm this individual student's achievement.''
Is today the day you will read for the first time of a young person who is a future President?

Why am I thinking like this? I must want some distance from the current focus on the actual set of persons who are running (or walking or hobbling) for President. I mean, here's an actual title of an a current NYT column: "Why Jeb Bush Might Lose." That's the most ludicrously boring thing I've seen this morning.

"Why don’t they get a life and talk about something else? People deserve better."

From a list in Politico titled "Harry Reid’s insults: 10 greatest hits." That headline makes it sound as though he was some sort of master of the insult, perhaps not an Oscar Wilde, but at least a Don Rickles. But the closest he comes to saying anything striking/offbeat is...
When [George W.] Bush invited Reid for coffee in the Oval Office in the final weeks of his presidency, the president’s dog walked in, and Reid says he insulted the president’s pet. “Your dog is fat,” he said.
Also, this one isn't an insult per se...
“[Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a ‘light-skinned’ African-American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’”
... or not an insult to Obama anyway. It is an insult to Americans in general and it's a hurtful statement indirectly aimed at black people.

People do deserve better. 

Prepare to become adequately informed.

"Patients are not adequately informed about the burdens. All they’re told is, ‘You have to go on dialysis or you’ll die,’... Nobody tells them, ‘You could have up to two years without the treatment, without the discomfort, with greater independence.’”

Said Dr. Alvin H. Moss, chairman of the Coalition for Supportive Care of Kidney Patients, quoted in "Learning to Say No to Dialysis."
Do older people with advancing kidney disease really intend to sign up for all this? If they hope to reach a particular milestone — a great-grandchild’s birth, say — or value survival above all, perhaps so. But many express ambivalence....

[O]lder patients may not fully grasp what lies ahead. When they decide to discontinue dialysis, Dr. Moss said, “patients say to me, ‘Doc, it’s not that I want to die, but I don’t want to keep living like this.’”
Oh, you "older people," you need to learn... and the death panel coalition is here to propagandize adequately inform you.