October 30, 2014

"This astonishing photograph shows [9-year-old] Axel Moss cowering in fear..."

"... as the 3-foot tall winged monster lunged towards him."

RELATED: "Maybe the last picture is the first picture and they lost the kid in the shark tank.'/"Only way for the third picture to make sense would be if the wife ate him."

"Nurse Kaci Hickox left her Maine home Thursday morning for a bicycle ride with her boyfriend as police could only watch."

"'It's a beautiful day for a bike ride,' the defiant nurse cheered to assembled reporters as she and Theodore Wilbur wheeled off."
"You could hug me. You could shake my hand. I would not give you Ebola... I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based... I’m fighting for something much more than myself. There are so many aid workers coming back and it scares me to think of how they are going to be treated, how they are going to feel."

"These women have been treated like cattle."

"They have been subjected to physical and sexual violence, including systematic rape and sex slavery. They've been exposed in markets in Mosul and in Raqqa, Syria, carrying price tags."

"Rather than try to train their provosts and professors to act like prosecutors," colleges are outsourcing their investigation of sexual assault to former prosecutors.

NPR reports:
"The phone starts ringing, you know, the first day after Labor Day, and I sort of joke that I'm like legal 911," Perkins says. The schools are "stressed like you cannot believe," [said Djuna Perkins is a former prosecutor who is now an investigator-for-hire]. They would rather have someone else handle the investigations, she adds, "because they, at a certain point, might feel a little bit out of their element."...
Perkins interrogates the students:
That means asking questions like, "Well, when you did this particular thing was she making pleasurable moans? Was she lifting her pelvis to get clothes off? That all sort of goes into the mix," Perkins explains...

Perkins has had several cases that involved S&M that was at least initially consensual; she says it takes a lot of experience and training to remain consistently fair and nonjudgmental.

"'Cause my real reaction when students are talking about stuff like that — I'm like, 'oh my God, these kids, what are they doing?' " Perkins says with a laugh.

"A 29-year-old terminal cancer sufferer who had previously spoken of her plan to take her life on November 1 has had a change of heart."

"In a video released on Wednesday, Brittany Maynard said she hasn't decided when she'll end her life, but it remains a decision that she's determined to make before getting too ill."

Wisconsin State Journal runs the Trek-fired-Burke story.

The article "Former Trek executive says Mary Burke was forced out in mid-1990s" went up about a half hour ago. Yesterday, we saw this story on a clearly conservative website, and I think it's significant that it has now passed through the journalistic filters of this mainstream newspaper. (For reference: the Wisconsin State Journal endorsed Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012. It endorsed Walker in 2010.)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke was forced out of her job at her family’s company, Trek Bicycle, in 1993, a top-ranking company executive at the time said Wednesday. However, Trek CEO John Burke rejected that assertion, saying his sister left on her own and that allegations she was fired are “a highly orchestrated move by Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign.”
What's the evidence of orchestration by the Walker campaign? It's strange to lob an allegation like that as you're trying to cast doubt on another allegation. I haven't seen anything tying the Trek-fired-Burke story to Walker, and considering the years of harassment Walker has received from the John Doe investigation, it's hard to understand why he'd risk engaging in some "highly orchestrated move."

Anyway, the story that appeared in the Wisconsin Reporter was based on allegations from Gary Ellerman, who is the Jefferson County Republican Party chairman and who himself seems to have been fired from Trek. The Wisconsin Reporter has received a $190,000 grant from the Bradley Foundation and the foundations president is Walker’s campaign chairman.

But the Wisconsin State Journal story is based on the statements of Thomas Albers, who worked at Trek from 1982 to 1997 and was chief operating officer and president in the last 4 years of that stint. Albers was responding to questions asked by reporters who were apparently checking out the truth of what Ellerman had said:
“We were losing a significant amount of money,” Albers said. “A lot of the people that reported to her in Europe were threatening to leave because of her management style. She wanted things done her way and people said that she wasn’t listening to them, that she didn’t value their input.”...

Albers, who oversaw finances and manufacturing, said Richard Burke sent him to Europe to evaluate Mary Burke’s performance after John Burke had determined that a change was needed. Albers said he later organized a meeting in Waterloo at which Burke had to explain the company’s poor performance to about 35 executives....
John Burke purports not to remember that meeting, though Albers says he was there. Do Mary and John Burke want to say that Albers is lying? Albers has contributed to Republican candidates, including a paltry $50 to Walker. He left Trek, we're told "on good terms in 1997 to become CEO of Specialized Bicycle Components," and he had something nice to say about Mary Burke: "I’ve always thought she was very bright. She has an outstanding education." But "I just don’t think she was ready for that job in Europe."

ADDED: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had the Trek-fired-Burke story up last night with the headline "Ex-Trek execs with conservative ties say Mary Burke was forced out." The Journal Sentinel ties the story to criticism of Mary Burke's 2-year service as commerce secretary in the Doyle administration. (Jim Doyle, a Democrat, was governor just before Walker.)

Why is the NYT exposing the Democratic Party's pandering to black people?

The top story at its website since last night begins:
In the final days before the election, Democrats in the closest Senate races across the South are turning to racially charged messages — invoking Trayvon Martin’s death, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim Crow-era segregation — to jolt African-Americans into voting and stop a Republican takeover in Washington....

In North Carolina, the “super PAC” started by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, ran an ad on black radio that accused the Republican candidate, Thom Tillis, of leading an effort to pass the kind of gun law that “caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.”

In Georgia, Democrats are circulating a flier warning that voting is the only way “to prevent another Ferguson.” It shows two black children holding cardboard signs that say “Don’t shoot.”

The messages are coursing through the campaigns like a riptide, powerful and under the surface, largely avoiding television and out of view of white voters. That has led Republicans to accuse Democrats of turning to race-baiting in a desperate bid to win at the polls next Tuesday.
Why would the NYT push what seems to be a Republican talking point? Why would the NYT direct the entire country to look at ads that the Democratic Party supposedly only wants black people to see? It's possible that the NYT is simply following neutral journalistic principles, but I find it hard to believe that, on the eve of the election, the NYT isn't trying to help Democrats.

So the question becomes: How can this exposure of blatant race-baiting be thought to help the Democrats? I'll list all the ideas I can think of right now, and you can help me refine and add to the list and also opine on the soundness of the various listed points. There are 2 aspects to soundness: 1. Whether the proposition is true, and 2. Whether the editors at the NYT believe it.

1. The racial material in the ads is aimed at black voters, but other voters looking on are alerted to their otherwise more marginal concern about racial matters in America, and seeing these materials tips them toward voting Democratic, and therefore it's helpful to give wider exposure to these ads.

2. Race has not been a sufficiently important issue in this election, and nothing is happening right now to drive it forward. The NYT is looking at an array of possibly newsworthy stories with a racial angle, and this was the best one they could find. There's at least some potential to get some candidates talking about Trayvon Martin and Ferguson again.

3. Lure Republicans into talking about race, because you've got to get them talking about race to create the risk that they'll say something stupid about race. Those damned Republicans have been tight-lipped, and this might loosen them up.

4. It's a longer game. The NYT sees this election as a disaster for Democrats, so kick them while they're down, build some semblance of distance, and make that a foundation upon which to build a Democratic victory in 2016.

"Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted..."

"... and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before...."

That article, the top link at Drudge right now, makes the same point I focused on last week in a post titled "Ebola and the wet-dry distinction."

October 29, 2014

At the Larch Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Students Nationwide Carry Mattresses to Protest Campus Rape."

It's the "Carry That Weight" protest.

I presume the name "Carry That Weight" is meant to evoke the Beatles song by that title, which addresses not a female but "Boy." I never really understood why the boy in the song had to carry a weight "a long time" or even what the weight was:
I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitations
And in the middle of the celebrations
I break down
I guess when you're a Beatle you get invitations that you pass along to boys you don't sleep with. But what are the celebrations in the middle of which you break down if you've given your invitation to somebody else?

Here's what Wikipedia says about the meaning of the song:
Music critic Ian MacDonald interpreted the lyric as an acknowledgment by the group that nothing they would do as individual artists would equal what they had achieved together, and they would always carry the weight of their Beatle past. McCartney said the song was about the Beatles' business difficulties and the atmosphere at Apple at the time. In the film Imagine: John Lennon, Lennon says that McCartney was "singing about all of us."
Ah, well, now the lyric about the struggles of some males who voluntarily joined together, achieved a happy congress, and then felt burdened by the requirements of groupdom has been appropriated by females who agonize over the involuntarily juncture with males and now feel burdened by the aftereffects of something that was never good.

"A new and massive poll of 2,029 18- to 29-year-olds from Harvard’s Institute of Politics just released..."

"... found that of those who say they will 'definitely be voting,' 51 percent want the GOP in charge, 47 percent favoring Democratic control."

Scott Walker opens up a big lead against Mary Burke in the new Marquette University poll.

Suddenly — after tying in the last poll — it's 50% Walker, 43% Burke.
In the new poll, Walker enjoys a significant lead among independents, who have bounced around more than partisan voters in this race. Among likely voters, Walker leads among independents 52% to 37%.

One other shift in the new poll: Burke's personal ratings have worsened, while Walker's haven't changed much.

Among registered voters, 38% view Burke favorably while 45% view her unfavorably. Among likely voters, 39% view her favorably while 49% view her unfavorably.

"It's the first time we've seen her that far upside down or under water on favorability ratings," said poll director Charles Franklin.
What has changed? Well, there were 2 debates. Burke seemed able to stand with equal weight next to Walker. She tended to attack him and call him not good enough, perhaps without explaining what she could do better, and he tended to speak optimistically about accomplishments. Maybe that made a difference. The other thing that changed is that Burke has identified herself strongly with the Obama administration with 2 big appearances alongside Michelle Obama.

It's post-poll, but worth mentioning here that President Obama himself appeared with her yesterday [CORRECTION: I originally thought the appearance was today.]
The event was at North Division High School, in a ward where Obama outpolled Republican Mitt Romney 843 to 5 in the 2012 presidential election, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The somewhat risky bet that Burke is making is that Obama, polarizing as he is, will help turn out Wisconsin’s urban Democratic base for her next Tuesday....

Burke is one of the very few candidates to welcome Obama, whose unpopularity in the polls has made him somewhat of a pariah amongst vulnerable Democrats in tight races. But Wisconsin’s labor-heavy, populist base hasn’t always loved Burke, a millionaire former executive at her family’s company, Trek Bicycle. Thus the gamble with Obama, whose presence risks putting off independent and suburban voters....

“I think it reflects the fact that she’s the candidate of Washington. We’re not bringing Washington surrogates in,” Walker told reporters after an event Tuesday in Wausau.
And I'm a little skeptical of October surprises — why are we getting this one week before the election? — but I feel compelled to acknowledge this new item in Wisconsin Reporter by M.D. Kittle, "Trek sources: Mary Burke’s family fired her for incompetence."
The [European sales staff] threatened to quit if Burke was not removed from her position as director of European Operations, according to Gary Ellerman, who served as Trek’s human resources director for 12 years. His account was confirmed by three other former employees....

A former employee with the company told Wisconsin Reporter that John Burke, Mary’s brother and current Trek president, had to let his sister go. The former employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal from the Burke family, said Mary Burke was made to return to Wisconsin and apologize to a group of about 35 Trek executives for her treatment of employees and for the plummeting European bottom line.

Managers in Europe used to call Burke “pit bull on crack” or “Attila the Hun,” one source said.
You know, she could spin that in her favor. Some of us might like a "pit bull on crack" or "Attila the Hun" standing up to the entrenched interest groups here in Wisconsin.
“There is a dark side to Mary that the people at Trek have seen … She can explode on people. She can be the most cruel person you ever met,” said Ellerman, who started a consulting business after he was “asked to leave” Trek in 2004 over a difference in hiring philosophy.
Come on! "She can be the most cruel person you ever met"... that could be a great political slogan.

Anyway, read it yourself and decide what to make of it. I tend to think Walker doesn't need or even want this kind of help. He's avoided attacking Mary, perhaps because he doesn't want to be thought of as the cruelest person, even though many Wisconsinites have wanted to portray him that way. Here's a picture I took during the protests of 2011:

P1060646

ADDED: Finally, here's the link to the Marquette page. Additional information of interest:

"I'm not sure how long this beating lasted — perhaps an hour, perhaps only 20 minutes. Toward the end..."

"... I heard the leader approach and braced myself for another blow. It didn’t come. Instead, he knelt close to me and whispered in my ear: 'I hate Americans. All of them. I hate you all.' After this, I lost track of time. I dreamed that the fighters were rolling my body in a winding sheet and lashing my ankles together with golden straw. In the days after this dream, I thought, I have seen the winding sheet, so I must be quite far along in the killing process. But every time I asked myself if I was alive or dead, the answer came back, You are most certainly alive. I thought, The custom must be to wrap the corpses in the winding sheets before they are entirely dead. How peculiar. I didn’t know."

From "My Captivity/Theo Padnos, American Journalist, on Being Kidnapped, Tortured and Released in Syria" (in the NYT).

San Diego University students hold a "Shit-In."

"We find that restrooms and lockers rooms are the places where transgender people encounter aggression and micro-aggression... The most important thing is everyone needs a safe place to do their business."

Lawyers for Kaci Hickox — released from New Jersey quarantine to quarantine at home in Maine — say she won't do it.

"She doesn’t want to agree to continue to be confined to a residence beyond the two days," said Steven Hyman of the New York law firm McLaughlin & Stern.
Maine health officials have said they expect Hickox to agree to be quarantined at her home until 21 days have passed since her last potential exposure to the virus. Twenty-one days is the maximum incubation period for the Ebola virus....

Another attorney representing Hickox, New York civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, said she would contest any potential court order requiring her quarantine at home. “The conditions that the state of Maine is now requiring Kaci to comply with are unconstitutional and illegal and there is no justification for the state of Maine to infringe on her liberty,” he said.
Hickox is certainly advancing the debate about quarantine. Her essay was extremely effective in making New Jersey look oppressive and abusive putting her into custody. She made a lot of people think differently about what's right and wrong, but now she's resisting the home-based quarantine, which seemed to many of us to be a respectful and safe enough middle ground.

But she's stepping it up and demanding more. This empowers those who like the extreme approach of state custody, because you can't trust these health-care workers to sacrifice their self-interests to the public's demand for protection. Those who empathized upon reading the essay of one woman abused by government are unlikely to have such warm feelings in response to the words of a bunch of lawyers expounding legalistically.

ADDED: As a number of commenters are prompting, this story needs to be connected with the news this morning that "The city’s first Ebola patient initially lied to authorities about his travels around the city following his return from treating disease victims in Africa, law-enforcement sources said."
Dr. Craig Spencer at first told officials that he isolated himself in his Harlem apartment — and didn’t admit he rode the subways, dined out and went bowling until cops looked at his MetroCard the sources said.

"About what fraction of your regular readers are male, do you think?"

Asks Bearing in the comments to the previous post. I ramble:
It's really hard to say, because screen names don't always come across as gendered and one might pose as the other sex, and most readers don't comment.

I think readers of political blogs and the large number of readers who've come here by way of Instapundit tend to be male.

I assume the readership here is majority male, though it probably doesn't skew male as much as most political blogs, not that I see this as mainly a political blog.

I think I've been subjected to criticism for years from the feminist blogs, and I'm sure this means that many potential female readers are lost. I'm very familiar with the way people who lean left get the idea that those who don't signal acceptance of their ideology are toxic.
Then I decide to do a poll:

What sex are you?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Althouse, the "big fool"... the "cock-tease"... the "provacateur"... "the intellectual flirt"... the lawprof who reminds men of the "manipulation, deception, or disloyalty in women close to them"...

Last night, I put up a post that started a discussion about why conservatives — or at least the class of conservatives in the Instapundit commentariat — think I'm a big liberal. I joked that these people ought to come to my hometown and workplace, where I am regarded as a big right-winger. I see the consistent theme: I make people feel that I'm not what they are. I trigger the shunning reflex. Or, to put it less self-effacingly: I've hit the contrarian sweet spot.

It was interesting to me to read the comments thread here on my blog, where people tend to write, I think, if they like hanging out, for whatever reason, including the stimulation to disagree with me. But there's one comment I want to single out for separate discussion, because it has 7 itemized ideas, really detailed and insightful ideas that I want to think about and that I thought you might find useful to examine.

This is what Carl Pham wrote in what was the middle of the night here in Madison, Wisconsin:
1. Only some see you as a big liberal, most see you as a big fool, who was conned by Obama and will be conned again, or as a cock-tease who pretends to get the male/conservo-libertarian concerns, but returns privately to predictable female/collectivist tendencies.

2. For a wide swathe of traditional men, the judicial/law professor temperament is distasteful in a woman: it reminds them unpleasantly of manipulation, deception, or disloyalty in women close to them -- one they may have trusted to their regret. Indeed, I would argue it is attractive to a fairly narrow range of men in general (aside from outright betas who agree they need sensitivity training to be aware of when they leave hairs in the bathroom sink and who wouldn't dream of fondling an ass without politely asking permission first). Men don't mind reserve in a woman, but when it starts to seem calculating (which it has to be in the professor/judge role) it tends to trigger unease, ranging to paranoia in some cases.

3. There's tension between your occasional Woman/Womanhood As Victim ruminations and Instapundit's Men/Manhood As Victim ruminations. It's a very unusual person who can be neutral in the ancient battle of the sexes to win the Most Misunderstood And Exploited prize, or even see the merit that there might be in both sides of the endless argument.

4. There's blood in the water. After eight long years of a baffling preference of the majority of their fellow citizens for a smooth-talking prissy sleazebot and mealy-mouthed collectivist nostrums, there's the sense that now the red-blooded God-fearin' straight-shootin' black-coffee-drinkin' American they thought they lived amongst has finally woken up and is about to throw these changelings and cuckoos the hell out -- and the anticipation raises the blood pressure, while the possibility of a slip 'twixt cup and lip jangles the nerves. Result, partisan fervor.

5. Instapundit himself has changed (perhaps partly because of 4 above). There is less moderation and reflection, less non-political stuff, less independent libertarian stuff, and much more reflexive Obama hate.

6. Most bloggers and persistent commentariats tend to fossilize over time (and the comments in that thread are highly stereotyped). I think it's because it's extremely hard after a while for either the principal or the dinner guests to back down from an iffy and misguided thought -- you get savaged. So after time people tend to be less intellectually adventurous and open. This is a well-known effect in business: the larger the meeting, the more fossilized and traditional the positions. You only really get true experimentation and adventure in the ideas people express when the discussion is small, intimate, and private -- three adjectives that cannot possibly describe public blogging and commenting.

7. You also have a streak of provacateur or the intellectual flirt: you say things sometimes just (or mostly just) to provoke reaction and hot discussion. That makes all kinds of sense in your profession, of course. But, again, in a woman it can make many men uneasy -- few like a tease, which is kind of what this is.

October 28, 2014

Man, these people need to come to Madison and do PR for me.

The commentariat at Instapundit seems to view me as a big liberal, itching to vote for Hillary.

IN THE COMMENTS: Lots of interesting stuff, but I'm going to frontpage Carl Pham, who put up a very substantive 7-point analysis at 3:39 AM (not that he's necessarily in the Central Time Zone). I wasn't through point #2 when I decided I wanted to put this up for more detailed discussion. In fact, I'm going to make this a new post. Hang on.

Photographing colors.

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"The French minister for culture has caused a stir by revealing she hasn't read a single novel in two years."

"In the interview on a Sunday evening television show, [Fleur] Pellerin said she had enjoyed a 'wonderful lunch' with [Patrick] Modiano after he was named this year's winner of the Nobel Literature Prize."
But she admitted she couldn't say which of his titles she preferred because she hadn't had time to read his books - or indeed any others - since taking up a ministerial post two years ago.

"I admit without any problem that I have had no time to read over the past two years," she said, adding: "I read a lot of notes, and legislative documents. I read a lot of news. But I read [for pleasure] very little."
MORE: At the NYT:
At the French site of The Huffington Post, Claude Askolovitch, a writer, said... “Barbarism is here.... If one can be culture minister without reading, then we are mere technocrats and budgeters." He chided her for prioritizing the reading of ministerial memos over the uplift provided by great literary works....

“One can salute her frankness, understanding that the life of a minister leaves little time for the calm required for reading, and even salute the spontaneity of Fleur Pellerin,” noted an article in Le Point titled “Fleur Pellerin hasn’t read Modiano! So what?”...
Are we supposed to read novels? It used to seem so. Does it still?