May 17, 2014

Tulipa Lilac Wonder.

Photographed today at Olbrich Gardens.

"Should Paid 'Menstrual Leave' Be a Thing?"

"Some countries mandate a legal right to leave for women during their periods. Is that reverse sexism or the right thing to do?"
Japan has had menstrual leave since just after World War II. According to the 1947 Labor Standards Law, any women suffering from painful periods or whose job might exacerbate period pain are allowed seirikyuuka (literally “physiological leave”)....

Taiwan’s current menstrual leave legislation is much newer. The 2013 amendment to the country’s Act of Gender Equality in Employment guarantees female workers three days of menstrual leave a year, in addition to the 30 days of half-paid sick leave allotted to all workers. The act originally folded menstrual leave into the regular 30 days of sick leave, prompting a gender-diverse coalition of politicians to claim this was a violation of women’s basic rights...
This gave me a (hot) flashback to high school gym class. Having your period was considered a reason not to take a shower (in the ridiculous group-shower setup that was, in fact, never required at the end of gym class (it was always potentially going to be required, but every single time, in the end, we were given a skip-the-showers reprieve)). At the beginning of gym class, we'd be lined up, and the girl at the front of the line would go to each girl and ask — and this is the question verbatim — "Are you?" This was to determine who was exempt from the shower that was never going to be demanded anyway. Such was the absurdity of life in the 1960s.

Anyway, "menstrual leave" is just another benefit for women, like "free" birth control, so you might as well expect politicians to propose this. I suspect that talking about it will cause too much discomfort, and that should cramp the flow of pro-woman benefits. Look, just call in sick if you must. It's absurd to have to say it's your period. Does anyone even want to do that? What message to put out there: that menstruation is disabling. How does that do anyone any good?

Meanwhile: "Women in Nepal Suffer Monthly Ostracization."

"We had our own grocery stores, black doctors, lawyers, dentists, hotel, movie theaters, shoe repairmen, our own segregated YMCA."

"It was a community, she says, where she felt supported, valued and welcomed. And where, because local colleges refused to hire black professors, her education in segregated schools was never substandard. 'Some of our teachers were Ph.D.s, or Ph.D. candidates,' [Carmen] Fields recalls. 'We had the best of the best, the talented 10th, if you will, and they expected the best of us.' Segregation should not get in the way of excelling, Fields and her peers were told. They had to be ready to inherit the integrated world their elders were fighting for, and the wider opportunities that would surely accompany it."

NPR marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education with a piece titled "Nostalgia For What's Been Lost Since 'Brown V. Board.'"

The NYT calls it "Pedigree vs. Policy," but I disagree.

On one side in this race for County Board of Supervisors, you've got Bobby Shriver, a Kennedy family person, so I'll accept "pedigree" for that. But on the other side, you've got Sheila Kuehl.
Ms. Kuehl, under the name Sheila James, played Zelda on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” a situation comedy that ran from 1959 to 1963, and she went on to become the first openly gay member of the California Legislature. “I have a lot of, can I say, good will because of my TV work,” she said. “I don’t believe a day goes by that someone doesn’t come up to me and say, ‘I know you are running, I wish you luck, but I loved that TV series.’ ”
I call that pedigree. (And I loved that TV series.)

Fast Forward Collision Beginner.

My emoji fortune is:
(Via Metafilter.)

"Estimated percentage of U.S. female CEOs who are overweight : 10... Of U.S. male CEOs : 65."

The last 2 items on this month's Harper's Index. (You might need a subscription to get there.)

What does that gender disparity mean?

Is it that a particular type of woman makes it to the top whereas a more general, closer-to-average sort of man does? Is it that the category of male CEOs is just much larger, and statistics tend toward the average as the group gets larger?

Or is it something more like what I think the Harper's Indexers are trying to put into your head: The standards are different for women, and women are expected to look better while men's deficiencies are overlooked?

Or is it that women are getting a boost because of their looks and men get to the top more on job-related merit?

Or perhaps leadership and work stress affect female and male bodies differently, so that females bodies reduce fat but males bodies add it....

The National Journal ends commenting.

"For every smart argument, there's a round of ad hominem attacks—not just fierce partisan feuding, but the worst kind of abusive, racist, and sexist name-calling imaginable."
The debate isn't joined. It's cheapened, it's debased... research suggests that the experience leaves readers feeling more polarized and less willing to listen to opposing views.

The problem isn't unique to National Journal; it crops up on almost every news site.

Some sites have responded by devoting substantial time and effort to monitoring and editing comments, but we'd rather put our resources into the journalism that brings readers to National Journal in the first place. So, today we'll join the growing number of sites that are choosing to forgo public comments on most stories.
They've left the comments open on that article. Sample responses:

"I have decided to override her refusal to have a C-section," wrote the doctor...

... on the hospital record of the woman who is suing.
Dr. Howard Minkoff, chairman of obstetrics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, whose articles on the subject of patient autonomy have been published in medical journals, said he believed that women had an absolute right to refuse treatment even if it meant the death of an unborn child. “In my worldview, the right to refuse is uncircumscribed,” Dr. Minkoff said, cautioning that he was not commenting on the particular facts of Mrs. Dray’s case. “I don’t have a right to put a knife in your belly ever.”

Such a person might be accused of being immoral or a terrible mother, he said, “but we won’t tie you down.”
Doctors perform too many C-sections because they're too afraid of malpractice lawsuits. That risk-aversion could be balanced by liability when the doctor does perform the C-section.

In this case, the doctor allowed the woman (who had had 2 previous C-sections) to attempt to go through labor:

May 16, 2014

May 16th, 47°.

It was weirdly cold today!

"Every generation has its great personal controversy, a name or two that evoke passion and fury everywhere from the dinner table to the editorial pages."

"Our parents had Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers. Their parents had Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Our generation has Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill."

Those are the opening lines of Nina Totenberg's 1994 review of "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas," by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson. I was looking up old reviews of the book, because the fall of Jill Abramson is the big story of this week (in the United States, anyway). I thought the lines were funny because who knew in 1994 that Monica Lewinsky would soon arrive on the national scene, delivering her extra-large pizza-with-everything that, as a controversy, would eclipse this little pubic-hair-on-a-Coke-can that had (such a short time ago) seemed so generation-definingly meaningful?

And now, here we are, 20 years later, and Abramson has risen beyond her co-authored book about the empowered black man and the gender victim, up through the heights of the NYT and summarily ousted, herself possibly a gender victim, and — look! — they replaced her with a black man. That's the kind of strange justice called poetic justice. It's hard to sort through all of this and figure out what was fair and what was unfair. Alger Hiss and Sacco and Vanzetti — they were all guilty, right? And what of Clarence Thomas? Well, let's see what Totenberg said about what Mayer and Abramson said:
There is no way in a short review to summarize all the bits and pieces of evidence that Mayer and Abramson have amassed. But among other things, they have turned up many new witnesses who testify that Thomas had an avid interest in pornography at the time of the alleged Hill harassment — harassment that Hill said involved his talking to her about pornography. One woman, Kaye Savage, a civil servant who worked in the Reagan White House and who was friends with both Thomas and Hill, describes her shock when she walked into Thomas' apartment and found the walls covered with pictures of naked women. Several co-workers are quoted as saying they heard of Thomas' making remarks about pubic hairs on Coke cans — one of the most peculiar things that Hill alleged, and one that she was accused of making up.
Are "pictures of naked women" pornography? I wonder if civil servant Kaye Savage is shocked when she walks into an exhibition of impressionist paintings. So... the evidence is, the man liked pornography. That puts him into a set of just about 100% of men. Now, if you told me civil servant Savage was shocked when she walked into Thomas's apartment and found the walls covered with pictures of Coke cans or pictures of single strands of pubic hair, that would be some impressive corroboration.

Totenberg continues:
Mayer and Abramson have also spent a considerable amount of time examining the lives, loves, careers and ambitions of Thomas and Hill. Thomas comes out as an often brooding, angry and contrary man....
The angry black man. The classic stereotype of a black man. And now, replaced by a reputedly amiable black man, Jill Abramson is exposed to the world as the classic stereotype of a successful woman: the bossy bitch.

The arc of a generation is long, but it bends toward poetic justice.

"Jill Abramson lost her job, but so far she's winning the press relations war."

"In the 24 hours since she was fired from The New York Times, her downfall has become a flashpoint for a national conversation about gender and inequality that is all but eclipsing what sources cite as the reasons for her termination."

Why didn't the Times get out in front with its first-ever! black executive editor story?
Far from celebrating Baquet, the Times leadership instead finds itself scrambling to deflect charges of sexism surrounding the termination of its first-ever female executive editor.
Race can trump gender. "Trump" is a card-game word, and we're talking about race and gender cards. But in a card game, you have to play the card to win. And in the race-and-gender card game, you lose if you look like you are playing. In this race-and-gender game, it's not the NYT or Jill Abramson who is out there playing the cards. Others are doing the commentary, and there are so many writers — especially female journalists — who are ready to play, as I noted a couple posts down, quoting "The fury of women journalists who identify with Abramson stems from what we know: that excellent performances are not enough."

Commenter MayBee said "The fury of women journalists" sounded like one of those old "terms of venery" like "a murder of crows" and "a crash of rhinos."

So beware. Don't assume race beats sex. Obama beat Hillary, but it's a little more complicated than a generic approval of first black over first female. There's an elaborate political/PR game to be played, and the winners and losers are determined subjectively within human minds, those minds are affected by what is written, and, for things to be written, there must be writers.

And — look out!!! — there's a fury of females.

If Donald Sterling sues, he "could attempt to use pretrial discovery to portray NBA owners as hypocritical."

"He'd argue that if he is being expelled over bigoted comments, he'd want to know why other owners haven't suffered the same fate over similar statements. Along those lines, Sterling would likely demand that former commissioner David Stern testify about his knowledge of owner misconduct."
The NBA is well-poised to argue that Sterling's pending ouster is mainly due to the impact of his conduct -- which nearly triggered a player boycott, caused sponsors to drop the Clippers and led to critical words from President Obama -- rather than the conduct itself.
How "well-poised" do you think that argument is? The legal question seems to depend on rules that the owners all signed onto and whether Sterling violated those rules, not on whether other people were ready to engage in damaging conduct in response to things Sterling said.

More legal details here.

Pink nose.

From a set called "Iris" at Dogging Meade. For a black nose: "Marley."

"The fury of women journalists who identify with Abramson stems from what we know: that excellent performances are not enough."

"Women must be completely different from the men they replace (or who replace them), apparently – they must adapt to the power they are briefly allowed to hold without transgressing the gender roles they aren't allowed to escape."

That's Emily Bell at The Guardian, and I'm quoting that representative of about 10 things I've already read this morning, all the female columnists doing pretty much the same thing, and I feel some pressure to do it too. And I suspect Jill Abramson herself is working on a screed — something that doesn't violate whatever secrecy agreement she has with the NYT. A year from now, Abramson will have some book, some variation on "Lean In" about the heights and pitfalls of female leadership.

So there's pressure to churn out the text, but all the women writers are writing about this instantly, furiously, copiously. Are women pushy? I feel pushed to talk about pushiness. And I feel irked to accept Jill Abramson as the face of the topic of The Problem of Female Leadership. I don't particularly like her, and I suspect she did not do a good job for The New York Times, and they had every reason to oust her.

But I'm pretty sure it's also true that things she did were not perceived exactly the same way they'd be perceived if they'd been done by a man and that as a woman, to get where she did, she needed to act in a way that would not be perceived in such a negative light if done by a man. I'm about the same age as Abramson, and I'm not the "lean in" type at all... or not much. I may lean into this discussion again later.

The gods beneficently bestow text upon the humble people.

NPR reports:
In an unusually metaphysical copyright case, a German court has ruled that an American psychologist — and not Jesus Christ — is the author of a book that she said Christ dictated to her in a 'waking dream.' The late Helen Schucman said she was a vessel for the words of Christ in her book A Course in Miracles, and a German Christian group called the New Christian Endeavour Academy argued that they were therefore free to put text from the book up on their website without paying for it....
Arguably, to defend ownership in the text is to undercut the truth and significance of the text. Kind of a Catch-22. I haven't read the court opinion, the attorneys' briefs, or the PR for the Foundation for Inner Peace (the copyright owner), but I'd say that even if we assume divine inspiration in the extreme — the human "author" merely took dictation — the activity of setting the words into written form, with sentences and punctuation, is enough to create authorship when there is no human competitor.

By the way, did Schucman assert that Jesus dictated like a boss with a Dictaphone? Did he say "comma," "period," and "new paragraph," and so forth? Surely, even in these divinely inspired texts, the human author in giving some form to the material.

What happens in cases where a human author has related a story told by another human being? I think the person who sets it down in writing owns the copyright. For example, if David Sedaris writes a story that quotes one of his sisters telling some long anecdote, can the sister say it's hers? People are talking all the time, spewing out their stories, and authors nick these things all the time. Maybe one of you copyright experts knows about some cases like this.

I've linked to to NPR which seems mostly to think it's funny to see these legal entanglements following on the absurd claim that Jesus poured His words into the vessel that was Helen Schucman, but it's not necessary to snigger at religion. How many artists have expressed a belief that a text came from them from beyond, that they were merely a channel for the words that flowed from an unseen source? I think Bob Dylan has said things like that. And I'll just preempt the commenters who are ready to say NPR may laugh at Schucman but it wouldn't write an equivalently humorous article about the idea that the Quran has no human author.

Meanwhile, at the same NPR link, there's news of the very best human authors — Jonathan Safran Foer at the head — teaming up with Chipotle to print stories on the chain restaurant's paper cups. We all need inspiration, and if we've left all our books and other reading devices behind and the voices in our head aren't saying anything interesting, we might be sitting in a restaurant someday, staring a blank paper cup wishing there were some text there to read.

For the grandest human customers, the blank cup is enough to contain all knowledge:  "Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup, they slither wildly as they slip away across the universe."

But for the humble people, the routine Chipotle customer, the experience of the text-bereft paper cup is empty. Foer envisions persons "of extremely diverse backgrounds," perhaps lacking "access to libraries, or bookstores." And even though Foer has issued his screed against meat, he pictured all those lost souls and that empty paper in cup form, and "Something felt very democratic and good about this."

The gods beneficently bestow text upon the humble people.

In India, a landslide for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which is "is expected to steer India sharply to the right."

"The election result will be a crushing blow to the Congress party, which is led by the Nehru-Gandhi family and has dominated Indian politics since independence."
Accepting defeat, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said: "We humbly respect the verdict of the people."...

Even before the Congress party's announcement, there were scenes of jubilation outside the BJP's headquarters in Delhi. Firecrackers exploded and people handed out sweets....

More than 500 million people voted in what is the world's biggest exercise in democracy.
ADDED: "The BJP calls the win 'a complete repudiation of what they call corruption and dynastic politics'..."
In addition to anti-incumbent sentiment... many voters are impatient for India to join the world's elite economies. [BJP leader Narendra] Modi, 63, has campaigned on a pro-business platform.
Supposedly, the pro-business attitude is strong among younger voters, and "There are 100 million more voters that were added to the voting rolls since five years ago."

May 15, 2014

At the Narcissist's Café...

... you can show your stuff.

"Sperm donor" Jason Patric wins a key victory in his quest for legal rights to his son.

"... California appeals court judge Thomas Willhite says that the presumption against in vitro fathers shouldn't be 'so categorical,' and that the family law code 'does not preclude a donor from establishing that he is a presumed father.'"

We talked about the case before, here. Patric, you may remember, was not a typical sperm donor, but he was not the mother's husband. That put him in an ambiguous intersection of 2 California statutes.

ADDED: Here's the PDF of the opinion.
Our holding that a sperm donor is not precluded from establishing presumed parentage does not mean that a mother who conceives through assisted reproduction and allows the sperm donor to have some kind of relationship with the child necessarily loses her right to be the sole parent....

In this case, Jason was denied the opportunity to present evidence to show that he is Gus’s presumed father...


"Jobism" is the word of the day here on Althouse. Do you know this word? I encountered it on SCOTUSblog in a piece titled: "Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: Soldier, pragmatist, jobist, skeptic." Context:
[Legal historian G. Edward] White compared Holmes’s solitary intellectual journey as a jurist with the solitary crusade that a soldier undertakes in war.  If, White proposed, there is a connection between Holmes’s experiences as a soldier and his time as a jurist, perhaps it would be his "jobism" – a term understood as an unadvertised excellence at one’s professional duties, particularly in spite of a lack of access to knowledge of the grand strategy in which one is involved...

"I really think men... have the body, so they want to feel good about what they're wearing and step out of the mold of long shorts."

"Men are more aware in social media of what other brands are showing and look for comfort and cut of the shorts they are buying. I feel like consumers now are much more open to change and taking risks than ever before."/"You will absolutely see them cleaned up and going for a shorter short, but it depends on who the guy is, who his friends are, where he’s going, what the pattern is."/"I don’t think that there is an age limit as to who can wear the 5-inch short... I think this looks great on guys who work out or [have a] trim runner's build."

You know, if you take my advice, guys, and just don't wear shorts, you won't fall prey to the lure of the 5-inch short.

How the NYT called Jill Abramson — its axed executive editor — a bitch.

This "all the news that's fit to print" business is tricky... especially when you're firing your first-ever! female executive editor and replacing her with your first-ever! black executive editor. The fit-to-print article — "Times Ousts Its Executive Editor, Elevating Second in Command" — is some of the best raw material for interpreters of crafty text that I have ever seen.

How did the NYT call Jill Abramson a bitch? Well, it all started with the unfit-to-print image of the new executive editor, Dean Baquet, as the angry black man. I'm going to do a little editing and cut this text down to highlight the "angry black man" story buried within the plentiful neutral verbiage:
Ms. Abramson... had clashes with Mr. Baquet.... Mr. Baquet had become angered over a decision by Ms. Abramson to make a job offer to a senior editor from The Guardian, Janine Gibson, and install her alongside him in a co-managing editor position without consulting him. 
Note that the cause for anger is strong and blatant. That sentence is written to put Abramson clearly in the wrong and to give Baquet reason for his outrage. Someone is installed — great verb! — next to you, in a co-position with you and there has been no discussion with you about why this new work structure is needed? Anyone should read that as a message that you can't do your job right, and we don't even want to tell you; we're just going to work around you. When that is done to a black man, he can and should at least speculate that the disrespect has a racial component. (Remember when constitutional law professors at Stanford set up — on the slyan extra constitutional law study program for students assigned to Derrick Bell's constitutional law class?)

The NYT article says about this incident — the installation of a white female right next to Baquet — "It escalated the conflict between them and rose to the attention of Mr. Sulzberger." Again, great verbs. No person is assigned the action, but things elevate — they escalate and rise. Human agency evanesces. Do not be so racist as to perceive an angry black man, or if you do, know that he is righteously angry at the indignity, embarrassment, and insult visited upon him. But no, no, no, please do not dare to perceive the NYT as discriminating against the black man. Or... if you must... that lady did it. That lady who is gone.

Maybe this is how the world works these days (or how America works anyway). If there's any racism, it's lodged in one person, and that person is lopped off. (You know, the Donald Sterling routine.)

Now, we never heard a public peep out of Baquet, but I suspect that the way "It... rose to the attention of Mr. Sulzberger" is that Baquet laid it out for Sulzberger. The Times is going to look awful for what it did to the black man, unless that woman is out before the story breaks, and the black man — who was humiliated when his white female superior diminished him with the installation of another white female — suddenly trumps both of those ladies. Put the lid on this embarrassing story. Out with the woman — and lock in her silence.
Ms. Abramson did not return messages seeking comment. As part of a settlement agreement between her and the paper, neither side would go into detail about her firing.
Problem solved! No sexism or racism at the NYT. It's so intra-Times: Everyone has agreed with each other that no one is going to talk about it. What about us, the reading public? The leaks with undisclosed sources are already springing. I'm merely speculating based on the clues that are apparent in this wonderful NYT article.

Let's continue:
Mr. Baquet thanked Ms. Abramson, who was not present at the announcement, for teaching him “the value of great ambition” and then added that John Carroll, whom he worked for at The Los Angeles Times, “told me that great editors can also be humane editors.”
Let me paraphrase that: Jill was too ambitious. It sparked my ambition, and I played my hand and I won. And you know you'll be better off, because unlike Jill, I'm humane.

Meaner paraphrase: Jill was outrageously pushy, and it pushed me — humane me — to push back, and now you've got an executive editor who is not a bitch.
With Mr. Sulzberger more closely monitoring her stewardship, tensions between Ms. Abramson and Mr. Baquet escalated. In one publicized incident, he angrily slammed his hand against a wall in the newsroom. He had been under consideration for the lead job when Ms. Abramson was selected and, according to people familiar with his thinking, he was growing frustrated working with her.
So there was a big blowup. What happened? It was "publicized," and we're given a link. Clicking, we see it takes us out of the pleasant environs of the New York Times, over to the rougher place that is Politico. Here is an article by Dylan Byers from a year ago, and it's by linking to Byers that the NYT has found its way to call Abramson a bitch. Here's where we find the NYT sources dropping the unfit-to-print bits:
More than a dozen current and former members of the editorial staff, all of whom spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity, described her as stubborn and condescending, saying they found her difficult to work with. If Baquet had burst out of the office in a huff, many said, it was likely because Abramson had been unreasonable.
There was a scene between Abramson and Baquet, but everyone who knows them and is talking is saying it must be Abramson's deficiencies. What they saw was Baquet enraged enough to slam his hand on the wall, but everyone's saying he's not that kind of guy. If he acted out, the woman made him do it. (By the way, that's an excuse that demands the deployment of the cliché "as old as Adam.")

More from Politco's Byers:
“Every editor has a story about how she’s blown up in a meeting,” one reporter said. “Jill can be impossible,” said another staffer....

At times, ["staffers"] say, her attitude toward editors and reporters leaves everyone feeling demoralized; on other occasions, she can seem disengaged or uncaring....

“I think there’s a really easy caricature that some people have bought into, of the bitchy woman character and the guy who is sort of calmer,” [Baquet] said. “That, I think, is a little bit of an unfair caricature.”
A bit! But there it is. The "bitchy woman." It's what the "staffers" believe. It's out of the mouth of Baquet and yet HE didn't say it. It's what those other people think, those unnamed people, those people who also think that he is "sort of calmer." He's not the angry black man, says the man apparently nobody thinks is angry, even though he burst out of a meeting and slammed his hand on the wall. He's the one everyone sees as calm, he says so himself. And he's even nice enough — what a nice man! — to say that the beliefs of the unnamed staffers whose caricatures he's characterizing are a bit unfair.

And that's how the NYT called Jill Abramson a bitch — by linking out to Politico, where the new executive editor — the calm and humane Dean Baquet — is quoted paraphrasing the opinions of some people.

CORRECTION:  The Politico article was a year and 3 weeks ago, not, as originally stated, 3 weeks ago. Also, in the 7th paragraph, I say "we never heard a public peep out of Baquet," but the quote discussed at the end of the post could be considered a peep. I'm just acknowledging, not correcting, that, because the "peep" that I say was not heard was an accusation of race discrimination, which I speculated may have been leveled in Baquet's private meetings with Sulzberger, after which (apparently) Sulzberger took to "monitoring" Abramson "more closely." The quotes Baquet gave to Politico do not play the race card.

May 14, 2014

At the Orange Tulip Café...

... you can talk about whatever you want. (Sorry, I have to have moderation on, which makes conversation... slow. But I'll approve things quickly... at least for the next couple hours.)

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals finds Wisconsin law on issue ads violates free speech...

"... but the practical impact of the decision is blunted because the rules had already been sidelined by another lawsuit 3 1/2 years ago."
[The lawsuit began in 2010 when Wisconsin Right to Life sued] the Government Accountability Board... for seeking to regulate ads that weighed in on issues and candidates in the run-up to an election without expressly advocating for the defeat or victory of the candidates.... Around the same time, the conservative Club for Growth and the liberal One Wisconsin Now sued over the regulations in federal court in Madison. In addition, several tea party groups and other conservatives sued over the matter in state Supreme Court.
ADDED: Here's the opinion PDF. The judges are Posner, Flaum, and Sykes. Excerpt:

"Dylan has just released his rendition of 'Full Moon & Empty Arms,' a standard popularized in Frank Sinatra’s 1946 hit recording."

"Dylan posted the track on his website, employing a surprisingly delicate vocal on the hyper-romantic ballad based on a central musical motif from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto."
Where Sinatra’s version was reliant on orchestral backing, Dylan’s version emphasizes gentle electric guitar and steel guitars that hover between country and Hawaiian music. His voice almost entirely avoids the gruffness typical of his singing in recent years.
Listen here. And listen to Frank's version here.

BONUS: Erroll Garner's vocals-free version.

"The Drudge Report and National Review both deserve a share of the credit for Republican Ben Sasse’s victory in Tuesday’s Nebraska Senate primary."

Proclaims Politico.

News from the front in the War on Women: "New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was abruptly fired from the paper on Wednesday...."

"The news of her departure was met with shock throughout the newsroom. Senior editors were unexpectedly summoned to a 2 p.m. leadership meeting..."
In his announcement, [publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr] said Abramson’s departure was related to “an issue with management in the newsroom,” and had nothing to do with the quality of the paper’s journalism during her tenure....

Despite significant achievements, Abramson’s tenure was marred by disagreements with Times CEO Mark Thompson, who took an unprecedently hands-on approach to managing the paper’s editorial resources....

Abramson also suffered from perceptions among staff that she was condescending and combative.
The male CEO  "took an unprecedently hands-on approach" to the paper's first female executive editor and staff said she was "condescending and combative"? Would they have said that about a man?

I'm reviewing my "Ban Bossy" notes.


The link goes to this Ken Auletta piece in The New Yorker:
Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. “She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect. 
Emphasis added. She leaned in! And she got called pushy and she got pushed out. 

Now, the NYT has financial woes and her predecessor had more seniority, but so what? The NYT has been hot on the "equal pay" story for years. Let it be judged by the standards it has pushed — pushily — all these years.

"The idea of 'privilege'... really came into its own in the late eighties, when Peggy McIntosh, a women’s-studies scholar at Wellesley, started writing about it."

"In 1988, McIntosh wrote a paper called 'White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies,' which contained forty-six examples of white privilege. (No. 21: 'I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.' No. 24: 'I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge," I will be facing a person of my race.') Those examples have since been read by countless schoolkids and college students — including, perhaps, Tal Fortgang, the Princeton freshman whose recent article, 'Checking My Privilege,' has been widely debated."

The New Yorker traces the "privilege" meme back to a Women's Studies professor in the 1980s. I vaguely remember when this article came out and hearing various feminist scholars scoff that everyone already knew this. But it was written in a spiffy way that got the idea across and therefore, I guess, irritated some people who felt like they'd had that idea long ago.

Remember when you were young — if you're not young now — and you'd read other people's ideas and think "Hey, that's my idea," as if the writer had ripped you off and the credit was rightfully yours? I remember that as a characteristic feeling of youth. It's a feeling that drops off with age. We share all of the ideas of all of humankind. If you can read it, you understand it. If you understand it, it is in your head, and it is yours. The best ideas, when you read and understand them, feel as though they were always there in your head.

Quite possibly, all of the best ideas have been thought before, and each new generation can only restate them. Did Tal Fortgang read Peggy McIntosh? Did Peggy McIntosh crib from W.E.B. Du Bois? We're all doomed to paraphrase, to feel we can only paraphrase, that we've been paraphrased, and that we're being paraphrased without citation. Some of this is delusional, and some of this is obvious. Haven't you already written that somewhere? 

"He began to think that food was an inefficient way of getting what he needed to survive."

"It just seemed like a system that’s too complex and too expensive and too fragile," said Rob Rhinehart, post-food entrepreneur, featured in this really interesting New Yorker article, "The End of Food/Has a tech entrepreneur come up with a product to replace our meals?"

His product — to supersede all your ramen and frozen quesadillas — is Soylent. And he doesn't care about your negative associations with the name for his product.
Rhinehart said that he liked the self-deprecating nature of the name, and the way it poked fun at foodie sensibilities: “The general ethos of natural, fresh, organic, bright—this is the opposite.”

Anyway, he said, a lot of young people never got the memo about Soylent Green’s being people. “If you Google ‘Soylent,’ we’re in front of the movie.” He added, “Remember, Starbucks was the guy from ‘Moby-Dick.’ ”

"World Peace Is None Of Your Business."

"Morrissey 'Recites' New Single In Startling Promo Clip/Ex-Smith is joined by pal Nancy Sinatra...."

"@CBS11 ya'll freaking suck!! Yall made me miss The Big Bang Theory!! If I wanted to see the weather Ill put it on The Weather Channel!!"

And: "Fuck TV weather people. Local weather has ruined my DVR night. No Big Bang, no Parks and Rec. But I can watch an hour of weather maps!"

And: "@CBSDFW Stupid idiots don't show Big Bang Theory for weather !!  You people are beyond idiotic. Show The top show on TV !!"

From "Mocking Disaster Victims Makes You The Worst Kind of Person," via WaPo's "Anchor lashes out at viewers complaining about TV shows interrupted for tornado coverage."

A big point from the station's perspective seems seems to be: You can go to the network website and stream the show.

A big point from the complaining viewer's perspective seems to be: The show I like is a high-ratings show.

Is it unconstitutional to bar trademarking "Stop the Islamization of America" because it's "disparaging to a substantial composite" of Muslims?

Eugene Volokh expresses the "tentative view" that 'the general exclusion of marks that disparage persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols should be seen as unconstitutional."
Trademark registration, I think, is a government benefit program open to a wide array of speakers with little quality judgment. Like other such programs (such as broadly available funding programs, tax exemptions, or access to government property), it should be seen as a form of “limited public forum,” in which the government may impose content-based limits but not viewpoint-based ones

"If I see a guy in the city wearing khaki cargo shorts and flip-flops, I'm inclined to kick him in the nuts..."

"... grab him by the ear, and drag him into the nearest store where he can buy pants and shoes, and dress like a real man."

You might think I'm blogging that because of my long-term mission to save men from the childish look that is shorts, but I'm not. The link — sent to me by a reader — goes to a 2011 piece in The Stir that links to some pronouncement fashion designer Tom Ford made back then. But I blogged the Tom Ford pronouncement at the time.

I'm linking to that piece in The Stir because of the casual reference to gender-motivated violence — like it's cute or always only a joke when a woman physically, brutally attacks a man.

And that's especially timely right now, as the world on the web watches viral video of a woman pummeling and kicking a man who is trapped with her in the small space of an elevator. Solange physically, brutally attacks Jay-Z and — what? — are people laughing? Are you getting ready to make a joke observing the correspondence between the length of Jay-Z's pants and the justness of the wrath of Solange?

Is anyone even talking about whether Solange should be arrested? I Googled "arrest solange" and found a Yahoo Answers discussion of the question: "Why hasnt Solange been arrested for her attack on Jay Z?" That link goes to a very low-level discussion, with the questioner advocating that the lack of arrests for female-on-male violence means that men should "always retaliate against women and beat the living daylights out of them."

The other hits on my search were mostly just the happenstance of editors putting the Jay-Z story on the same page with the news that Alec Baldwin got arrested for bicycling the wrong way on a 1-way street. Huffpo was having fun with Jay-Z's victimization with "8 Elevator Rides That Were Way Crazier Than Solange And Jay Z's." That includes the word "arrest" because one time a man got arrested for biting an elevator door.

"But to sell our intimate data in bulk is to fully surrender our quest for autonomy..."

"... accepting a life where the most existential choices are shaped either by the forces of the market or by whatever war — be it on climate change or obesity — the government has enlisted us (rather than corporations) to fight."
In this world, whether we become vegetarians, and even whether we end up thinking about it, might ultimately hinge on which player (the steakhouses, the supermarkets, the bureaucrats) has the most to gain from this switch. Our data constitutes our very humanity. To voluntarily treat it as an “asset class” is to agree to the fate of an interactive billboard. We shouldn’t unquestionably accept the argument that personal data is just like any other commodity and that most of our digital problems would disappear if only, instead of gigantic data monopolists like Google and Facebook, we had an army of smaller data entrepreneurs. We don’t let people practice their right to autonomy in order to surrender that very right by selling themselves into slavery. Why make an exception for those who want to sell a slice of their intellect and privacy rather than their bodies?
So says Evgeny Morozov in The New Republic in a piece titled "Selling Your Bulk Online Data Really Means Selling Your Autonomy/Big tech's war on the meaning of life."

This sounds very dramatic — replete with a slavery analogy — and it's irritating to feel like I'm being nudged to take alarm at something that I have to take a lot of trouble to understand before I can take alarm. How data-paranoid are we supposed to be? Or is it free-market-paranoia Morozov is pushing?

"I grabbed my son and I held him as tight as I could to my chest and I gave him a kiss and a hug, and I told him I loved him and I jumped out the window."

Says a 23-year-old-woman about surviving a fire with her 18-month-old son.

In the video at the link, the reporter interviewing the woman's husband successfully prompts him to say the stock line "That's all that matters" in response to the fact that the boy is completely fine. But the wife may never walk again.

It's bad enough for reporters to feed lines to their interviewees, but this line, although utterly standard, was the wrong line. That said, the line the mother fed the child at the point of jumping out the window was also a stock line — "I love you." But she came up with it on her own, and it really was the right line.

"There is a question, I think, among many of my colleagues, whether… an activist conservative can become a judge that is not an activist judge."

"For my vote, I have to have certainty. And I don't know quite how to get it, in view of this record."

Said Senator Dianne Feinstein, questioning Michael Boggs, a Georgia state court judge and former legislator who was nominated by Obama to serve as a federal district court judge.
[As a Georgia legislator,] Boggs had championed an amendment to Georgia's constitution to ban gay marriage, urging his colleagues at the time “to stand up for things that are common-sensical, things that are premised on good conservative Christian values.”...

Boggs had also backed a proposal requiring Georgia physicians to post the number of abortion-related procedures they performed over the last decade online....

[Senator Richard] Blumenthal... said he found it “incredible … that you would not understand that this amendment would put doctors at risk.”

Boggs also voted twice as a state legislator to keep the Confederate battle emblem as part of Georgia’s state flag....
Yikes. Obama nominated him. The Senators now must perform this theater of moderated outrage for the people — their segment of the people who find all of these things hateful.

This is quite a record of bigotry, from the perspective of a voter who's had his political mind prepped by the Democratic Party. Racist, anti-gay, and warring on women — all in one man's 4-year legislative record.

What an irksome problem for Feinstein and the other Democrats in this election year! Apparently Feinstein et al. believe they can get through this with some Judiciary Committee theater around the notion of "judicial activism." Like any legislator, Boggs was a political activist — in his case, an activist for a cause Democrats see fit to call "conservatism."

But every good judge supposedly knows to leave political activism to the political sphere, so if only Boggs intones the usual lines forswearing "activism" and professing dedication to purely legal analysis, then the Senators can recite their lines about how they believe he has adequately demonstrated fealty to judicial values.

Dianne Feinstein wants certainty. You hear that, voters?

But, of course, Feinstein and her co-Democrats do love their activist judges when they are liberal activist judges — whom they do not call activist judges. Senators whip out this "activist judges" label when they think they won't like the direction judges will take in their decisions (whether or not those decisions will rest soundly in legal analysis). Feinstein's question is whether "an activist conservative can become a judge that is not an activist judge." That's the liberal Senator's version of a question that a conservative Senator would phrase as whether "an activist liberal can become a judge that is not an activist judge."

We're very used to this senatorial theater around the word "activist," but perhaps some of the people will find the performances convincing. Is it catharsis yet?

May 13, 2014

"Schoolyard bullies may worry that their victims are free to be sniveling, cowardly worms with almost zero repercussions."

"But, fortunately, they'll get their comeuppance when they grow up and die of heart disease or cancer."

Jackie Kennedy was glad not to be "just a sad little housewife," but...

"Maybe I’m just dazzled and picture myself in a glittering world of crowned heads and Men of Destiny... That can be very glamorous from the outside — but if you’re in it — and you’re lonely — it could be a Hell."

Time for sunshine and freckles.

Let's be wholesome now. Enough of the inside of a wax-and-roach-impacted ear, the fake world of video games, the gelatinous goo of Ooho, the sinister knock-out drops, the indescribable level of lying, and the satanism... which is all I've talked about here since last night, when I put up the last wholesome thing, which was also doggy.

"Here's six minutes of glorious up-close video of a cockroach being surgically removed from a man's ear."

"No idea how it got in there, but I guess that's what the beauty of imagination is for."

Edward Snowden — who acted so drastically to affect millions of people in the real world — acquired his moral structure through the playing of video games.

I wasn't going to blog anymore about the GQ interview of Glenn Greenwald, but something I just read made me want to show you this:
You mention in your book that Snowden's moral universe was first informed by video games.

In Hong Kong, Snowden told me that at the heart of most video games is an ordinary individual who sees some serious injustice, right? Like some person who's been kidnapped and you've got to rescue them, or some evil force that has obtained this weapon and you've got to deactivate it or kill them or whatever. And it's all about figuring out ways to empower yourself as an ordinary person, to take on powerful forces in a way that allows you to undermine them in pursuit of some public good. Even if it's really risky or dangerous. That moral narrative at the heart of video games was part of his preadolescence and formed part of his moral understanding of the world and one's obligation as an individual.
The thing I just read that made me want to show you that is Nick Gillespie's article in Reason titled "Are Video Games Art?/Why games should be taken as seriously as novels, films, and other forms of creative expression." Gillespie quotes the film critic Roger Ebert: "Video games can never be art," because they "do not raise my hopes for a video game that will deserve my attention long enough to play it. They are, I regret to say, pathetic."

Gillespie and Ebert seem to be talking about what is good art, but what I'm concerned about here is the way art affects us, the way minds are formed by the experience of art as an alternative to the experience of living our own lives. Whether the art we consume is good or bad and whether it comes in the form of novels or films or paintings or comics or video games — or holy scripture! — it displaces life in the concrete world where what we do and say has consequences on human beings whose facial expressions we see and who talk back to us and take actions that can benefit or harm us.

Edward Snowden — who acted so drastically to affect millions of people in the real world — acquired his moral structure through the playing of video games. That's important! What is the morality learned from video games? I'm afraid of the new generations that will take on power in the real world based on this particular artificial experience. It's not that I feel good about all those other artificial experiences that inform an individual's morality. But it seems especially dangerous for young minds to develop within such a pervasive sensation of alternate reality.

And yet where are all these young male heroes, deeply imprinted with a grandiose sense of mission and an urgent call to go on a quest for survival or salvation? I'm guessing mostly they're trapped within their games, clamped into virtual reality, and never coming out. That's something else I'm afraid of!

Ooho, the edible water bottle.

Assuming you want to consume something gelatinous as you drink water, there's still the problem of needing to package the package, since if you're going to eat the package, it can't sit around in boxes and on shelves getting dusty and germy.

"You know, everyone's a little bit gay. It's the truth. Everyone's gay, all it takes is one cocktail. And if that doesn't work, sprinkle something in their drink. That's what I always do."

"I" = Miley Cyrus.

Joking about date rape. She might get some flak here, since she's joking about raping women.

"Karl Rove has deceived the country for years, but there are no words for this level of lying... [Hillary] is 100 per cent. Period."

A Hillary spokesperson reacts to Karl Rove's planting of doubts about the soundness of Hillary's brain. Here's what Rove said:
"Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that."
I notice how overstated the reaction is — "no words for this level of lying"? What part is the lie? Was Rove wrong about the number of days in the hospital? (I think he was.) Clearly, she came out wearing some special glasses. Was Rove wrong in his characterization of the glasses? (Maybe not.) Certainly, it's fair to state that the public (and the prospective donors) need accurate facts about a presidential candidate's health. That is always demanded, and we've been misled by candidates in the past. (I'm thinking of Paul Tsongas.)

The overreaction makes me suspicious that there really is a problem. I don't like this how-dare-you-even-ask attitude. It makes me skeptical. But I do understand the alternative explanation: Stir up the base with stimulating outrage and a reminder that one ought to hate Karl Rove.

Here's a 1992 column by William Safire, puzzling over the case of Paul Tsongas:

Harvard Cultural Studies Club characterized as a hate group for its planned staging of a religious ritual.

Email from the club read:
"While it is unfortunate that many people took personal offense at rituals for which they have little or no understanding of their context, what we find most disturbing have been the demands that the rituals and beliefs of marginalized members of society be silenced... It is gravely upsetting to us that some people feel vindicated on the basis that they have disingenuously mischaracterized our invited guests as being part of a hate group."
The religious ritual was a satanic "black mass." The club, stung by criticism, moved from the on campus location — the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub in Memorial Hall — to a nearby restaurant — the Hong Kong.
The club emphasized in the 5 p.m. email that Harvard had not asked them to move the event....

“Harvard always demonstrated that it understood its responsibility to defend protected student speech. That was always made clear to us,” the club wrote in a second email.
The link goes to The Harvard Crimson, where there are 1200+ comments. I'll copy 2. First:
Despicable club. These are not the rituals of beliefs of "marginalized" members of society. The Satanist Temple admits that they don't believe in Satan at all; they're atheists. A black mass is, by definition, a parody of the Catholic Mass. Let's see just how long Harvard would stand by "protected" student expression if the club had invited the Westboro Baptist Church to host a Qur'an burning, or a mockery of a same-sex wedding.
I can't help shake the feeling that if it were a cross burning, disgust and discomfort would turn into a rapid cancellation and the citing of speech codes.
This is the old problem of free speech versus hate speech. The University should not be discriminating against religious speech and nonreligious speech or between different religions. And it shouldn't be discriminating between pro-religious speech and speech that mocks or criticizes religion.

Now, it looks like the club is portraying itself as misunderstood and victimized. That is, it doesn't seem to want to own any out-and-proud anti-religious speech. So it's not standing under the free speech banner. It's positioned itself under the hate speech banner and claiming to be the target of other people's hate. I guess that's what they teach at Harvard — where even the Satanists are vulnerable to words that wound.

ADDED: Maybe we should read the email from the club as a satire of academic fussing over hate speech. The overdone phrases "gravely upsetting" and "disingenuously mischaracterized" — coming from intelligent students — hint of an effort at humor. And, the idea of "silenc[ing]" "marginalized members of society" sounds a tad Onionesque.

May 12, 2014

Communing with the dogs...

That's one in a series, the rest of which are here.

ALSO: "Bubba shakes."

When, oh, when will the world grasp the import of my self-re(v/f)erential selfie humor?

Says the sadface of James Franco, posing in a shirt patterned with sadfaces of James Franco.

"I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends."

Clay Aiken models proper Twittiquette.

ADDED: If you want to see what's not appropriate, you can search Twitter for "Clay Aiken." But that would be in bad taste, and anyway, I did it for you.

The obvious:
BREAKING: I'm pretty sure Clay Aiken killed a guy.
The thought-provoking:
Clay Aiken, Casey Kasem, and Jay-Z walk into a bar. "Well that was a very, very strange day," they say.
The thought provoked in me was: What happened to Casey Kasem? (Because I know what happened to Jay-Z (which people seem to think is funny, because the man was the victim of a beating by a woman).) Apparently, Casey Kasem has gone missing.

AND: There are also Ruben Studdard jokes — "Ruben Studdard got off easy"/"...has anyone seen Ruben Studdard lately?"/"Quick, somebody send Ruben Studdard a police guard" — and that got me wondering what has happened Ruben Studdard. I don't know how I missed this.

At the Magnolia Café...

... yellow.

"[T]hey all loved Tim Russert, right? Because the benefit of Tim Russert was that not only did he let them control the message..."

"... but he cast the appearance that they were subjected to really rigorous questioning. So it was the extra bonus of propagandizing while convincing the public that they weren't being propagandized. And so I think all those TV hosts do that, and I think that most major newspapers are incredibly deferential to high-level government officials, and especially to military and intelligence officials."

Said Glenn Greenwald, scoffing at the standard depiction of Tim Russert as "hard-nosed... like everyone was petrified of him."

Glenn Thrush makes the reporters assigned to the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign sound like a bunch of mental patients and drug addicts.

In Politico:
The veterans removed themselves from the road to preserve their sanity (I skipped her last campaign trip after she stubbornly refused to concede the election at a Manhattan “farewell” rally on June 3, 2008). At least one reporter was involuntarily pulled out of action by his editors for fear he was about to collapse. One of the country’s most respected political scribes took to travelling with a shoebox crammed with various over-the-counter meds because the stress and sleep deprivation was running down her immune system. By mid-campaign she was in such a daze she nearly boarded a commercial flight barefoot before realizing she’d left her shoes at the security checkpoint, one of her friends told me.

The yelling and screaming, the best-known feature of the Clinton press operation, didn’t bother me much—perversely, it endeared them to me. Most of Clinton’s press operatives were fellow New Yorkers. I had dealt with them for years, and thought it was funny to hear them lose their cool. But I was an outlier.

There's a big lack of enthusiasm this election year, but Democrats are much more lacking.

Gallup reports:
Among registered voters, 42% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents currently say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, while 50% are less enthusiastic, resulting in an eight-point enthusiasm deficit. But Democrats are even less enthusiastic, with a 23-point deficit (32% more enthusiastic vs. 55% less enthusiastic).

In the gardens...

... I need some rest:

I have worked hard:

And posed hard:

"The idea of universities as being somehow outside of the normal justice system, with their own police and disciplinary procedures..."

"... is a survival of the era when they were ecclesiastical institutions. Its persistence into the present day serves no real social purpose."

Says Instapundit, linking to Megan McArdle, who identifies a different anachronism: The persistence of the old in loco parentis model, "in which [colleges] could have parent-like rules about things such as being drunk or alone in your room with a member of the opposite sex."
[W]hen in loco parentis was the rule, the Title IX rules made a certain amount of sense. Now they make no sense at all. On the one hand, colleges are supposed to treat their students as full-fledged adults who cannot be told where and when to drink, or with whom they can have sex … but we also want to say that colleges have the responsibility for ensuring that nothing bad ever happens. And that in pursuit of this goal, colleges should punish the accused with the speedy and sometimes arbitrary fiat of parental authority, rather than the ponderous and sometimes unsatisfying protections of due process....

If college students are children, then the college should have much wider latitude to control and punish their behavior....
That behavior, of course, includes many things that you might want to protect victims of sexual assault from getting blamed for doing (like drinking too much and going into a room with someone). These are, in fact, things that don't excuse sexual assault as a legal matter, but that's the point: Get into the proper criminal law mode, if that's the approach you want.

50 years ago today: the first draft-card burnings to protest of the war in Vietnam.

According to Wikipedia, which cites an event involving 12 students in NYC.

The citation goes to the book "Hell no, we won't go!" which I can't search inside at Amazon or Google Books, and I couldn't find an article in the NYT archive, so I'm a bit unsure of the accuracy. This Vietnam War timeline has this for "May 1964":
Some 1,000 students gather in New York City to protest the Vietnam War. Twelve burn their selective service registration cards—draft cards....
The next year, reacting to various protests, Congress made it a crime to "knowingly destroy" or "knowingly mutilate" your draft card, and, in 1968, the Supreme Court rejected a free-speech challenge to the law.

If you carried around a draft card back in the 1960s, did you ever abuse it?

"So let me get this straight, we should concede that there's no such thing anymore as a private conversation..."

"... so therefore remember to 'lawyer' everything you say before you say it, and hey, speaking your mind was overrated anyway, so you won't miss it. Well, I'll miss it, I'll miss it a lot."

If law professors really wanted to "rebel" against commercial casebooks...

... we would not just sign petitions about rejecting one casebook publisher's scheme to overcome the used book trade.

We would take the cases — which are in the public domain — and work together to create an on-line archive of casebooks that would be entirely free. I proposed this solution in 1994 (PDF)— when, frankly, I could scarcely understand the concept of uploading a text:
[T]he radical step would be to build up a database of teaching materials on the Internet. As we experiment with different cases, questions, and materials, we should share the results, and respond to each other, incrementally building up a resource that each of us can download, customize, use, edit, add to, and ultimately upload. The cases are in the public domain, why should anyone make a profit selling them? Law review authors seem quite willing and eager to grant permission to reprint excerpts of their articles. And why should we compulsively horde the various insights that we use in class? Shouldn’t the future [casebook-writing] project take place in cyberspace? Instead of waiting for each other to produce a bloated, over-edited article (which we may copy and then never read), we should link up in the lively forum that technology has now made possible.
It's 20 years later. Why hasn't this happened? When I read about "rebel" law professors, I scoff with contempt.

Instapundit says: "Casebooks are overpriced as it is, and the quality is, if anything, in decline."  

We are in decline.

"Rural Amorous Feelings."

A puzzling translation on a package of mushrooms.
One correspondent suggested that the mushrooms may have aphrodisiac properties, but I suspect that the "amorous" part of the translation comes from yě 野, as analyzed in the previous paragraphs. Hence, yě 野 is doing double duty, signifying "wilds" and at the same time implying "dissoluteness", i.e., "indulging in sensual pleasures."

"A Stirring Homer, but the Yanks’ Tiring Trip Ends in a Loss."

Aw. Yankees tired.
After being down to their final strike Sunday, the Yankees extended the game with a surprising home run from Mark Teixeira, sending the last game of this exhausting trip to the bottom of the ninth....

After hitting the home run, Teixeira, who turned 34 a month ago, jogged slowly around the bases. He said his legs felt tired from being on the basepaths so much during this six-game trip. He even mentioned to teammate Carlos Beltran after the game that it felt as if he had two concrete blocks on his feet. And it’s only May 11.

“My legs aren’t feeling too good right now,” Teixeira said. “I’m fine. I’m just tired.”
The way things look from New York. But I'm not in New York.

Allen Ginsberg's "Communism doesn't work" postcard from 1981 went up for auction.

Text of postcard (to the poet Diane di Prima:
"Hungary-Austria-Switzerland-Germany - made little money but saw a lot - Red Lands not good, Hungary pretty dreary bureaucracy - I guess communism just doesn't work. Socialist Austria seems pretty free & independent minded. Lots of yakking & snow & ice & cold & Poetry & movies... Love Allen.''
You can see an image of the postcard at the link. Also this:
Ginsberg often talked about his intimate connections with communism and his admiration for communist political figures including Fidel Castro. In his 1956 book, America, he wrote, “I used to be a communist when I was a kid I'm not sorry.” Ginsberg traveled to many communist nations to promote free speech.

May 11, 2014

"It is all around us all the time. High people mingling with us, working, passing, laughing extra hard at our jokes. We don't even know why."

Said Ira Glass, introducing the "I Was So High" episode of "This American Life."

ADDED: Read this segment of the transcript, interviewing Dr. Ethan Bryson, author of "Addicted Healers/5 Key Signs Your Healthcare Professional May Be Drug Impaired":

Soaking up the mid-Spring Wisconsin ambience.

There were lots of people strolling about in the Arboretum this Sunday, Mother's Day.

The daffodils knew how to behave as if it's really Spring, but most of the trees were bare.

The magnolias had gotten the memo:

Yay, magnolias:

"Pope Francis never stops talking about the Devil; it’s constant."

"Had Pope Benedict done this, the media would have clobbered him."

ADDED: Remember how the media treated Justice Scalia when he dropped it into an interview that he believed in the devil:
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

China wants to build a "China-Russia-Canada-America" train line — 8,000 miles long (and 125 miles of it under water).

The underwater part sounds especially daring. That's 4 times as long as the Chunnel through the English Channel. And X times as cold up there in the Bering Strait.

By the way, you know what we don't hear much about lately? That high-speed train line they're building in California — you know, the $6+-billion line that connects Bakersfield to Fresno... and theoretically at some point will connect L.A. and San Francisco. I see it did make the news a few days ago, when the predicted cost rose another $1 billion. Now it's $7.13 billion.
"A $1-billion cost increase at this point in the project is concerning, to put it mildly," said William Ibbs, a UC Berkeley civil engineer who has consulted on high-speed-rail projects around the world.
"At this point" = before construction has even begun.

You Won't Believe These Mockups of How Websites Today Would Have Reported the Monica Lewinsky Scandal.

There are some laugh-out-loud items here, e.g.:

But the real punchline is that the last one is not a what-if.

It's what was, back on January 17, 1998.

And that's why we have the websites we have, and Tina Brown must cry.

"Austin’s Utopian Homeless Village Is Becoming A Reality."

"Austin’s 27-acre Community First Village will eventually house 250 formerly homeless and disabled people. Can they build a real 'hobo’s paradise'?"

At the link: 1. Plenty of photos, and 2. A refreshing resistance to using the phrase "Keep Austin Weird," which other writers writing anything about Austin are incapable of resisting. Kudos to Buzzfeed writer Summer Anne Burton.

As long as we're celebrating Summer Anne:

1. "Watch this delightful video and keep track of how many songs you can immediately identify."

2. "15 Photographs That Definitively Prove Puppies Have Always Been Adorable."

3. "What’s Your Sex Number?/The ultimate 'purity test' for the modern age." This is a checklist, the last item of which was "Gotten turned on while taking a purity test?" I'll just add my own questions: Did you check all the way to the end AND click to get your number OR did you stop at some point? If the former, what was your number? If the latter, did you stop at a particular questions (and if so, which question) or did you stop because you got nervous about whether somebody was collecting and preserving this information about you (and if so, who did you picture getting what information and what did you think they'd do with it)? And that's the difference between me and Summer Anne. She's much more fun. You should call me Winter Ann.

"Mom measured her own life by how much she was able to help us and serve others."

"I knew if she was still with us, she would be urging us to do the same. Never rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place. That’s our unfinished business."

Writes Hillary Clinton, who would like to help and serve others by having us piddling others put her in the position of Most Powerful Person on the Face of the Earth. Oh! The inspiration that emerges from the Humble Servant Mom, as an excerpt from Hillary's not-yet-published memoir "Hard Choices" bursts forth this Mother's Day morning.

"The key to Led Zeppelin is that somebody is always playing a counterpoint."

Said Jimmy Page, accepting an award at the Berklee School of Music (where he will be the commencement speaker today).

Here, you can see him in academic garb:

"I dream of a world where we don't have to talk about unnecessary things like sexuality, who you love..."

"... I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance."

Said Conchita Wurst, the bearded man who, dressed like a woman, won the annual Eurovision Song Contest.

"I have a power respecting you, and that power I will exercise; a power that shall grind you into atoms."

"I condescend to no more expostulation. I know what I am, and what I can be. I know what you are, and what fate is reserved for you!"

That's how to say "You're in serious trouble" in a Gothic novel, where "People talk funny," which is item #10 on an illustrated chart titled "How to tell you're reading a gothic novel."

"It is real and good and numbing... But the truth is, in moderation, I'm happier drinking.... now I crawl toward that glass of wine (or more) at the end of the day... It's nice to know I'm not an alcoholic... "

A commenter pulls quotes from a Daily Beast piece by Sally Kohn titled "Mommy’s Little Secret? Coffee And Booze/Caffeine and alcohol were sweet at 21—but they’re downright lifesavers (in moderation, of course) in the parenting years."

The commenter — sam-eye-are — adds:
I, however, am a recovering alcoholic who goes to AA meetings and I hear these quoted statements verbatim at every meeting I go to. 

Sorry to say, but not only is your "Parenting all about denial," but so is your belief of yourself not being an alcoholic also in denial.
Well, that's a splash of iced coffee in the face.

Sally Kohn seems to be one of the many many descendants of Erma Bombeck who are trying their hand at housewife humor these days. It's really weird that Bombeck, who seemed old-fashioned to me back when she was so incredibly popular, established such a vibrant tradition of writing disparagingly about the people you're supposed to love and expecting readers to understand the humor in the I-kid-because-I-love mode.

George Will excoriates the John Doe prosecutors.

I should have linked to this yesterday. The grand old commentator is paying attention to Wisconsin. Is he saying anything we haven't gone through already on this blog? Maybe not, but the outside attention from someone so prominent makes a big impression, and he is speaking in notably harsh terms. I think I've made fun of Will over the years for his blandness, so his strong language means something, and I'm just going to highlight the severity of Will's tone:

Why is Krauthammer saying that the Benghazi hearings "are a big political risk for Republicans"?

"Going into the 2014 election, they stand to benefit from the major issues — Obamacare, the economy, chronic unemployment — from which Benghazi hearings can only distract."
Worse, if botched like previous hearings on the matter, these hearings could backfire against the GOP, as did the 1998 Clinton impeachment proceedings. On purely partisan considerations, the hearings are not worth the political risk.

But the country deserves the truth....
So this is the argument pushing back Democrats who say the hearings are purely partisan GOP maneuvering in an election year: On purely partisan considerations, the hearings aren't even worth it! Therefore the GOP must be moving forward on this to bring the American people the truth they deserve.
They’ll get it if the GOP can keep the proceedings clean, factual and dispassionate. No speeches. No grandstanding. Gowdy has got to be a tough disciplinarian — especially toward his own side of the aisle.
What Krauthammer is really trying to say is: Any Republicans who get too hot about the political advantage they're hoping to get from these hearings had better not let it show. Everyone stay grimly judicious, neutral looking, and swathed in truth-findiness.

The Democrats, seeking political advantage (like everybody else), will watch and wait and any drop of slaver that falls from mildly snarling Republican lips will be collected and magnified.

UGH!! Disgusting! Those terrible Republicans! Seeking political advantage over the dead bodies of 4 dedicated Americans. Have they no decency?!

"Top Secret Service officials ­ordered members of a special unit responsible for patrolling the White House perimeter to abandon their posts...

"...over at least two months in 2011 in order to protect a personal friend of the agency’s director, according to three people familiar with the operation."
The new assignment, known internally as Operation Moonlight, diverted agents to a rural area outside the southern Maryland town of La Plata, nearly an hour’s drive from Washington. Agents were told that then-Director Mark Sullivan was concerned that his assistant was being harassed by her neighbor, the three people said....

“I don’t think the Secret Service should have been down to my house, watching me all the time,” [Brenda] Allen said. “What threat do we pose? Why so much attention for this woman?”