May 30, 2015

"If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair..."

"... who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy."

Writes Orin Kerr.

"Extreme Breastfeeding."

The name of a new reality show that will be on The Discovery Channel.

I learned about it from an article titled "Most Support This Mom’s Right to Breastfeed in Public. Then They Realize How Old the Kid Is…."

The child is 6. She's quoted saying: "Sometimes it tastes like candy canes... It tastes like lots of different things." And: "I might stop when I’m eight." And: "It’s my favourite thing to do when I’m not at school. More kids should, because it’s good for you."

It's good to protect and nurture your children. You can do that by breastfeeding them and you can do that by keeping them out of the media. I don't know how many months or years of breastfeeding are ideal, but I'm pretty sure that zero is the right answer to the question How many reality shows should a kid be on?

By the way, the 6-year-old child is named Aminah. I imagine that's pronounced "a mynah." A mynah bird is known as the most able mimic of all the talking birds. When a 6-year-old makes an assertion like "More kids should, because it’s good for you," I think it's a safe bet that she is mimicking an adult. In this case, there is a mother who seems to be seeking narcissistic satisfaction, which — who knows? — might taste like candy canes.

"Have We Learned Anything From the Columbia Rape Case?"

This is a longish NYT Magazine article by Emily Bazelon. Is there anything new here or is this more of a summary of a problem — a conflict — that those of us who've been following the story already know?

1. How Nungesser's parents felt at graduation: It was "devastating," they say, "especially... an exhibition at a university gallery...  that included Sulkowicz’s prints of a naked man with an obscenity and of a couple having sex, inked over a copy of a Times article about Nungesser." I'm a little confused by the word "prints." Prints like etchings or lithographs? Sulkowicz — in email (I think to Bazelon) — called the "prints" "cartoons."

2. Sulkowicz's email gives some insight into the kind of rhetoric she is purveying: "What are the functions of cartoons? Do they depict the people themselves (a feat which, if you’ve done enough reading on art theory, you will realize is impossible), or do they illustrate the stories that have circulated about a person?" Suddenly, I'm thinking about the Charlie Hebdo massacre and other incidents involving cartoons depicting Muhammad. Maybe those who get murderous over cartoons just haven't read enough art theory. And I'm put off by the assertion that if only people would read the right amount of a prescribed sort of material, we'd necessarily believe a particular sort of thing. It's saying: The only reason you don't already agree with me is that you're ignorant.

3.  And I don't even understand how those 2 sentences in Sulkowicz's email addressed the pain experienced by Nungesser's parents. Aside from the parenthetical, which is an assertion, the 2 sentences are 2 questions, but the first question sets up the second question, and the second question is an either/or question, within which the first option is negated by the assertion in the parenthetical. Therefore, Sulkowicz really is saying her cartoons "illustrate the stories that have circulated about a person." So her art work is an illustration added to a NYT story that gives graphic reality to the allegations that were made about Nungesser.

4. I wrote "gives graphic reality to" because I was straining to avoid the word that normally comes to mind: depict. Not having read enough art theory to realize that it is impossible to depict Nungesser himself, I thought the use of that word might make me look ignorant to those who have done the homework. But, for the record, "depict" means "To draw, figure, or represent in colours; to paint; also, in wider sense, to portray, delineate, figure anyhow." Anyhow! As in "The solar progress is depicted by the Hindoos, by a circle of intertwining serpents." R. J. Sulivan View of Nature II. xliv. 288  (1794). (Definition and quote via the unlinkable OED.)

5. Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger avoided shaking Sulkowicz's hand at graduation and the university has taken the position that it wasn't actual shunning but the mattress getting in the way. Bazelon doesn't come out and call bullshit, but she links to the video so we can decide for ourselves.

6. Because we don't have the transcript of Columbia's disciplinary proceedings, "even the procedural disputes between Sulkowicz and Nungesser are lost in the land of she-said-he-said." Sulkowicz says she was asked "ignorant and insensitive questions." (That's Bazelon's paraphrase.) But we're not seeing the actual context. And Sulkowicz and Nungesser are saying different things about whether their friendly Facebook conversations were admitted as evidence. It's frustrating to have this matter become so public — through Sulkowicz's performance art — and then be deprived of the transcript, but Columbia has to protect student privacy and to encourage other students to feel secure that their privacy will be protected if they need to file a complaint or if they are accused.

7. Columbia is trying to improve its procedure: "Students are now permitted to bring a lawyer to their hearings, and if they can’t afford an attorney, the university will provide one. The university also hired new investigators and other staff members and gave training on how to hear cases to the administrators who serve as panelists."

8. Sulkowicz says "the system is broken because it is so much based on proof that a lot of rape survivors don’t have." And: "Even if you have physical evidence, you can prove that violence occurred but not that someone didn’t want the sex to be violent." Presumably, she wants to fix the system by avoiding the need to prove things that are too hard to prove. Here, that would be the mental element that accompanies the sexual act. But how can you possibly get rid of the need for that evidence?

9. Some people say, get rape cases out of university proceedings and into the criminal justice system. Bazelon's response to that is: "[I]n the eyes of the government, universities have this responsibility because of an important principle rooted in the federal law, Title IX: If a rape prevents a victim from taking full advantage of her education, then it is a civil rights violation as well as a crime." Quite aside from what statutory law requires, universities may properly see themselves as having a role in making the campus environment a safer and friendlier place. Bazelon refers to counseling, academic accommodations, assurances that alleged assailants won’t contact complainants, and education about prevention of sexual assaults.

10. Bazelon mentions early on that Nungesser is suing Columbia, but she doesn't connect that to other issues she discusses. She doesn't say that his lawsuit is based on Title IX (though, as you see in point #9, she says that Title IX causes universities to want to remain involved in providing remedies to victims). And she talks about Bollinger's avoidance of Sulkowicz at graduation (point #5, above) without saying that Bollinger is a named defendant in Nungesser's lawsuit.

The dog didn't have a bucket list!

"New York Man Takes Dying Dog on Bucket List Adventure Across the Nation."

Why would you take a suffering, dying dog on a big road trip instead of just keeping him in his familiar, comfortable home? For Instagram? For cheeseball "human interest" stories in the media?

May 29, 2015

"If Carly Fiorina gains any traction from her barbed attacks on Hillary Clinton, the rightwing cartoons will practically draw themselves..."

"... Carly and Hillary in a teeth-baring cat fight, Carly’s claws like a tiger’s, HRC’s eyes as red as a Demon Sheep’s, and Benghazi burning in the background. As one man tweeted, 'Let the Cat Fight begin!! Fiorina will tear Hillary to shreds.'"

One man, eh?

The quote is from The Nation, and all I can say to you right-wingers is: Don't give the lefties what they want. You do see what they want, don't you? I'm not going to womansplain it to you. If you don't see what you shouldn't do, I'm not going to help.

Cruelly neutrally yours,

Your humble blogger, Althouse

"Mr. Ulbricht’s high-tech drug bazaar was novel and full of intrigue, operating in a hidden part of the Internet known as the dark web..."

"... which allowed deals to be made anonymously and out of the reach of law enforcement. In Silk Road’s nearly three years of operation, over 1.5 million transactions were carried out on the website involving several thousand seller accounts and more than 100,000 buyer accounts, the authorities have said. Transactions were paid for using the virtual currency Bitcoin, and Mr. Ulbricht, operating under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, took in millions of dollars in commissions, prosecutors said... 'He developed a blueprint for a new way to use the Internet to undermine the law and facilitate criminal transactions,' the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a sentencing memorandum this week. 'Using that blueprint,' the office said, 'others have followed in Ulbricht’s footsteps, establishing new "dark markets" in the mold of Silk Road, some selling an even broader range of illicit goods and services.'"

Dread Pirate Roberts — Ross W. Ulbricht, 31 — faced a minimum sentence of 20 years. The judge — Federal District Judge Katherine B. Forrest — gave him life.

"J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, was paying a man to not say publicly that Mr. Hastert had sexually abused him decades ago..."

"... according to two people briefed on the evidence uncovered in an F.B.I. investigation into the payments...."
The man – who was not identified in court papers — told the F.B.I. that he had been inappropriately touched by Mr. Hastert when Mr. Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach, the two people said on Friday....

The indictment said that in 2010, the man met with Mr. Hastert several times, and that at one of those meetings Mr. Hastert agreed to pay him $3.5 million “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against” the man.

At the Good Things Café...


... you don't have to believe.

Things that people who love being lovable love to love.

Heading for a new list.

"Cops Arrest Subway Riders For 'Manspreading.'"

The Gothamist reports.

"What is too much? Should you be allowed to drive after a hit of pot? Or three?"

"Is a hit the equivalent of a glass of wine or half a bottle of vodka? What about when a bit of pot is combined with a beer or two? How does a police officer judge the sobriety of a person who is high? Right now, people mostly just guess... It is a strange country that is filled with people who object to life-saving vaccines, insist on labelling G.M.O.s, protest the use of pesticides that, when used correctly, have not been shown to cause harm, and yet seem ready to smoke whatever a dealer hands them to put in their pipes."

From a (subscription-only) New Yorker piece titled "What Are We Smoking?"

Word definition of the day. (I give the definition. See if you know the word without looking it up.)

"Originally and properly, according to ancient writers, The setting down of the foot or lowering of the hand in beating time, and hence (as marked by this) the stress or ictus; the stressed syllable of a foot in a verse; a stressed note in music."

That's from the Oxford English Dictionary. That's the oldest meaning of a pretty common word. 

ADDED: The word is "thesis." Thar surprised me.

"This is just fun for me. This is not a job. I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I love driving and because I’m a sociable person."

Says the man officially recognized as the best Uber driver in Canada.
"I only Uber when I’m upbeat, positive, feeling good, when the car’s clean, I want to go be sociable and get to know my own city a little bit more," he said. "The key is that if this ever feels like a job, I’m done. I’m out... Driving has always come very naturally to me. It’s a passion,” he said. He was raised in rural Saskatchewan, where “your driver’s licence is your ticket to freedom. This allows me to enjoy it even more, be social, meet new people, tour my own city and have some fun,” he said.
He was awarded Uber's Sixth Star medal, which he'll display in the car but not call attention to because "That would be un-Canadian."

He has 5 tips for Uber drivers: "1. A clean car... 2. Smooth driving... 3. Amenities... cold water, Perrier, mints, gum and cellphone chargers...  free Wi-Fi... 4. Music... 'chill house music'... 5. Clean personal appearance... shirt with a collar, blue jeans, driving shoes...."

Note: This man also has a regular job.

"The couples laughed, and the clown did, too, but he didn’t really think it was funny."

"The whole scary-clown thing had gotten out of hand. Clowns now live in a world where everyone seems to hate them, or profess to do so. One of the remarks the clown hears most often, while driving, is someone in another car yelling — the words are always the same — 'Fuckin’ clown!' It surprises and dismays him every time."

From "Fears of a Clown."

"Using masculinities theory, the article examines last year’s hullabaloo about openly gay football player Michael Sam and his prospects for playing in the National Football League."

"I first explain masculinities theory, focusing on how masculinity is constructed and maintained. I then explore how masculinities theory applies in sport generally and in football in particular. The article visits the football locker room — a distinct enclave of masculinity — and shows how masculinities theory explains the locker room 'bonding.' Once we lay bare the implications of cultural assumptions about masculinity and about physically aggressive sports like football, we can more easily explain why an openly gay football player is a rarity. Knowing that even one openly gay player exists threatens to decimate the cultural icons we use our athletes to create."

An abstract for a law review article.

"Gokul doesn't need your pathetic clues. You're a loser and he's Gokul."

"Why would he need your help? He just spelled the word, because he knew it and he knew that he knew it and he wanted you to know that he knew that he knew it. This is pulling up from halfcourt in a tie game and drilling a game-winner. This is swinging on a 3-0 count and hitting a walk-off homer. This is starting to high-step on the 50-yard-line of your game-winning TD...."

From "The Spelling Bee was the best sporting event of 2015."

"If you had to do this over, would you end his life again?"/"I would have done a better job of making sure I ended my own."

Said "The millionaire mom who poisoned her autistic son and called it a mercy killing," who was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced, yesterday, to 18 years in prison.
The sentencing brought to a close a tangled and troubling trial that seemed to raise as many questions as it answered: Was Jude really being sexually abused, or did Jordan just believe he was? And if Jordan’s allegations of abuse weren’t real, was her child’s killing an outcome of delusion or a calculated murder?...

“I need to be dead. I need a lot of drugs to die peacefully. That’s all,” Jordan said at trial, reading what she said was a written dialogue between 8-year-old Jude and herself. Later, she said he wrote, “We are going to die anyway. Let’s do it ourselves.”

"Women in every age group in the United States were more likely than men to have serious mental health problems..."

"... according to federal health statistics released Thursday."

"The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton."

"But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful."

Said Doug White, head the master’s program in fund-raising management at Columbia University, commenting on the way the Happy Hearts Fund operates and got Bill Clinton to appear at a posh gala. Petra Nemcova's charity spent $363,413 on the affair:
She booked Cipriani 42nd Street, which greeted guests with Bellini cocktails on silver trays. She flew in Sheryl Crow with her band and crew for a 20-minute set. She special-ordered heart-shaped floral centerpieces, heart-shaped chocolate parfaits, heart-shaped tiramisù and, because orange is the charity’s color, an orange carpet rather than a red one. She imported a Swiss auctioneer and handed out orange rulers to serve as auction paddles, playfully threatening to use hers to spank the highest bidder for an Ibiza vacation.
And Bill Clinton, who had previously declined invitations to accept an award from Happy Hearts, responded to a donation of $500,000 to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Both Happy Hearts and the Clinton Foundation have the stated goal of helping Haiti. As the HH spokesperson put it: "We believe that we can create the most impactful change by working together."

29-year-old banker jumps from 24th floor of luxury apartment building, landing near a bus full of tourists who take snapshots of the grisly remains.

The body "landed on a guardrail near the northbound Battery Park Underpass, narrowly missing a black SUV." "The head hit the railing . . . Half his head is on one side of the railing, half on the other."

You know, don't kill yourself. But, if you do, don't transform the body you're throwing away into a deadly projectile or a tourist attraction.