February 12, 2016

"My boys wanted to know, 'What was the word? What was the word?' I said, 'I can’t tell you.' I had to make something up."

Said Marco Rubio, quoted in a NYT article titled "Bruised Marco Rubio Gets Personal and Aggressive," which says:
Mr. Rubio expressed disgust with Mr. Trump’s use of obscene language earlier this week, describing how his two young sons had watched a news clip of Mr. Trump insulting Senator Ted Cruz on the eve of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
Does the newspaper have to go all in with the drama? "Obscene language"?! The word was "pussy," and Donald Trump didn't even really use it — if we observe the use-mention distinction — because he was quoting someone else (and even chiding that person, saying he never wants to hear that word from her again).

This is ridiculous drama. When you call someone a "pussy" to mean that they are timid, you are referring to the little animal, the kitty cat. It's like calling someone a mouse. It shouldn't even be regarded as a bad word. It's true that "pussy" can be used to refer to a woman's genitalia, but so can "box" and "snatch." As George Carlin said in his famous "Seven Dirty Words" routine:
Now the word twat is an interesting word. Twat! Yeh, right in the twat. Twat is an interesting word because it's the only one I know of, the only slang word applying to the, a part of the sexual anatomy that doesn't have another meaning to it. Like, ah, snatch, box and pussy all have other meanings, man. Even in a Walt Disney movie, you can say, We're going to snatch that pussy and put him in a box and bring him on the airplane.  Everybody loves it. The twat stands alone, man, as it should.
Now, when Donald Trump calls somebody a twat, let me know. In public, I mean. And I'll show a brief flutter of outrage. In private, they're all free to call each other twats. And pricks. Because I'm for gender equality.

Bonus George Carlin joke: "Yes, you can prick your finger, but don't finger your prick. No, no."

And by the way, this post gets the civility bullshit tag. I hope you understand the restrictive use of the civility bullshit tag. It's for political speech calling for more civility. My working theory is it's always bullshit. In this case, with Rubio, it obviously is. I'm also giving this my using children in politics tag. I don't like it.

"There is no political architecture that will convince any Sunni over the age of 3 that he or she has a future with the Iraqi state."

"The administration is trying to use a limited military weapon to defeat an adversary that only a political offensive can overcome, and we’re not willing or able to make that effort."

Said Ryan C. Crocker, a former American ambassador to Iraq, quoted in "Sunni Resentment Muddles Prospect of Reunifying Iraq After ISIS" (in the NYT).
Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, worried that military gains in Iraq without political overhauls would be counterproductive. “At some point, they make things worse,” he said....

Mr. Crocker... said he had given up hope that the Obama administration would become more deeply engaged in seeking a political accommodation between Iraq’s factions. But he and Mr. Pollack, along with other experts on Iraq, have joined a task force organized by the Atlantic Council, a research organization based in Washington, that will make policy proposals on Iraq to the next administration.

“Unfortunately, that’s 11 months away,” he said. “The Islamic State rose because of a political vacuum,” he noted. “It wasn’t a military success but a political failure that allowed it to take hold.”

"No one else could make this work, and there will be plenty of people who say she should be listed among those who tried and failed..."

"... but this, to us, is the essence of Tildaism."

Top-rated comment: "David Bowie may be gone but hopefully we'll always have St. Tilda."

OK Go video of the day: "I Won't Let You Down."

After yesterday's post — embedding OK Go's "Upside Down & Inside Out" — my son John emailed me links to 2 other OK Go videos, the first of which is to the one you see above, which is immensely entertaining. Keep watching, as different things happen, and if you're emotionally like me, you'll be exclaiming in amazement at various points and profoundly moved by the beauty of the ending. And if you're as old as I am, you might, at a certain point, say aloud, as I did: "June Taylor Dancers!" And if you indulged in MTV in the 1980s, as I did, the audio might take you back to Scritti Politti:

Cruz campaign practices the withdrawal method on an ad with an actress who's done porn movies.

Here's the Cruz ad:

If I had to guess what was supposedly so offensive about that, I'd say they were making fun of people with substance abuse problems. Maybe recovery therapy sessions are supposed to be looked upon with empathy. The support group must be supported.

But no, the female in the little drama — about people seeking treatment for their addiction to Marco Rubio — was discovered to have done "soft-core pornography."
The woman, Amy Lindsay, as first reported by BuzzFeed, has appeared in multiple movies with titles like “Carnal Wishes,” “Insatiable Desires” and “Private Sex Club.” Ms. Lindsay told BuzzFeed that she was a Christian conservative and a Republican, deciding between supporting Mr. Cruz or Donald J. Trump....
She applied for the acting job through the normal process and got hired. Then she was rejected because the campaign is embarrassed by the jobs she's taken in the past and their own failure to do a background check commensurate with their potential for embarrassment.

I hope the Trump campaign figures out a way to embrace this woman, who is, we're told, deciding between Cruz and Trump. Cruz — who's running another ad about how mean Trump was to an old woman who wanted to keep her house and not lose it to eminent domain — would have denied a job to a woman who's struggled in the acting industry. Here's that Cruz ad about Trump's oppression of the female homeowner:

I'd like to see an ad, copying that presentation, putting Cruz in exactly the same negative light, oppressing the ex-porn actress. I'm not saying the Trump campaign should do it. I'd just like to see it, because there are those of us who will empathize with a woman who's treated as toxic because she took a sex-related job at some point, and there are those of us who don't want to give big political power to someone who's excessively censorious about sexual expression.

ADDED: Original Mike said: "Oh, for crying out loud, Cruz. I thought you believed in redemption."

Yes, that's what I thought when Meade told me about it. I said: "Not very Christian of him."

Citation: John 7:53-8:11.

Go, and do not sin again.

Hillary Clinton delivers a "low blow" to Bernie Sanders.

"Low blow" is his term.

ADDED: Here's the text of that clip:

Did Scott Walker just endorse Donald Trump?

The headline in the Wisconsin State Journal is "Scott Walker says Republicans could win Wisconsin with Donald Trump."

But Walker seems to have just been responding to reporters who were on the scene in Wisconsin last night to cover the Democratic candidates' debate and looking for insight into which candidates might do well in Wisconsin. The Democratic candidate has taken Wisconsin in every election in the last 30 years. You have to go back to Ronald Reagan to get a GOP winner. So who cares about Wisconsin? But the governor is Republican and both houses of the legislature are Republican. What's keeping a Republican from winning Wisconsin?

Walker did say he thought Trump could win Wisconsin — but couldn't Kasich? couldn't Bush? couldn't Rubio? I don't understand the context. Why single out Trump? Is there some thought that we the people of Wisconsin could take a special liking to the mogul with the New York accent? I would think a pleasant midwestern-y guy like Kasich would suit us better.
“There’s no doubt it will be a challenge,” Walker told reporters.... Walker noted some of the other candidates are faring better against Clinton in the polls than Trump, but he also said polls can go up and down.
I'm guessing the context was that Trump would be a harder sell in Wisconsin than Kasich, Bush, or Rubio. 
He emphasized turnout will also be a factor, especially if Sanders supporters aren’t happy about the nomination process.

“If, in the end, Hillary Clinton prevails, but a lot of particularly young voters feel disenfranchised because of the whole superdelegate process, they may not vote for a Republican, but they may vote for a third party or not vote at all,” Walker said.
That's the old conventional wisdom about low turnout helping the GOP applied to the scenario in which Democrats got passionate about a candidate who they think was cheated out of the nomination.

Walker said he was "glad the Republicans don’t have something like (superdelegates) so that it’s really reflective of how people vote in the respective state." Trump won big in NH and got a corresponding number of delegates. Sanders won big in NH and, because of superdelegates, Hillary seems to be getting the same total. The superdelegate approach was designed to control the effect of an upstart outsider like Sanders/Trump. So if, in the end, Trump gets through and Sanders does not, how will people vote? That seems to be what Walker was talking about. Republicans will probably end up with Trump, because of the nature of their process, and won't that be challenging, given that the Democrats have built moderation into their process and will likely succeed in putting up their normal-seeming candidate.
Walker has not endorsed a candidate for president, but he has not ruled out doing so before the April 5 Wisconsin primary. Walker and Trump clashed in the final debate before the governor dropped out of the race on Sept. 21. In his speech announcing that he would be ending his campaign, Walker said he had been called to lead by clearing the field “so a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to do the same so that voters can focus on the limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner,” Walker said at the time.
So, I assume Walker is absolutely not endorsing Trump. I infer that he wants one of the normal-seeming Republicans to go up against normal-seeming Hillary. And then the Republicans win because everyone's bored and alienated, and it's a low turnout, the dreary condition that gets us another Republican President. And life will go on as usual. We'll have our normalcy.

"He did emit smoke from the vaporizer," said DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton about the Congressman who vaped during the hearing...

... on the markup of Norton’s amendment to the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act, which would treat vaping on airplanes the same as smoking. 

The vaping Congressman, Duncan Hunter (of California), said: "There’s no smoke in this. No carcinogens. It’s vapor. I would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment."

The airlines are already forbidding vaping on planes, but it's not illegal. Holmes Norton is pushing to make it illegal on top of the fact that you already can't do it. Because you ought to have it rubbed in how much you can't do it. Or... the airlines need to be blocked from competing by offering different conditions giving customers a choice. As if that's on the horizon. Some airlines might want to distinguish themselves as the flights where you can vape and create the illusion that smoking is going on, as in olden times. Fly the vapored skies of United.

It could happen, so make a law against it before it does.

Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) exemplified the level of thought Congress is putting into its new rule: "I don’t want to sit next to someone making these clouds of vapor. I can imagine the passenger rage. We don’t want people talking on cell phones because it starts fights. We don’t want people vaping because flight attendants have enough to deal with. Duncan is free to wear a patch during the flight."

Follow the DeFazio logic and make a list of everything that people are now free to do that if done on a plane will stress out somebody else, including somebody who's sensitive and gets the facts and the science wrong, because that person might crank up into a rage and cause more trouble for the flight attendants. Make all those things illegal. 

February 11, 2016

Sorry, I can't put up with the debate... even though it's happening in Wisconsin.

It seems so repetitious! The American economy is rigged... top 1%... free tuition....

But I see my son John is carrying on the old live-blogging tradition, so I highly recommend that.

AND: That was a bald-faced lie when she said she wasn't asking us to vote for her because she's a woman. I was walking away from the TV and the computer, but I had to come back to take note of that. Now that I'm here, I'll add that I liked what Bernie Sanders said when he was asked how he felt about standing in the way of a first woman President. He said that if he won, considering who he is, it would also be historic. He didn't specify why. He didn't say "first Jewish President" or "socialist!" It's up to us to fill in why.

"What is the difference between hair and fur?"

Answer: "Hair and fur are the same thing."
SA: Why is it then that, for example, my dog's fur is three inches long and it never seems to grow longer, while my own hair keeps growing and growing?

NS: Actually, a lot of types of human hair won't keep growing and growing. The normal length of the hair is an individual and species specific trait. So across the breadth of mammals, there are many norms for hair length, or fur length....

SA: Is a whisker a special kind of hair?

NS: Yes, it is. There are many different kinds of modified hairs to which we give different names. A porcupines quills are greatly enlarged hairs. Whiskers are hairs that work as sensory receptors. There's a strange animal from the Old World called a pangolin, which has these scaly plates that cover most of its body those are modified hairs.
Tree Pangolin.JPG
By Valerius Tygart - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

I can't believe this is an official Ted Cruz ad.

It really disturbs me to see children used like that. I know the idea is that adults are behaving in a way that we wouldn't accept from children, but I had a hard time understanding what the children were saying and doing that was supposed to represent something Donald Trump is doing. I found it very creepy to see young children guffawing at the idea that someone was claiming to be a Republican when, in fact, he didn't act like Republican. What little kid could find that amusing? My heart hurt for the children, and I have no clarity on the intended message.

Watch this: OK Go "Upside Down & Inside Out" — and maybe like me you'll be laughing by the end.

OK Go - Upside Down & Inside Out

Hello, Dear Ones. Please enjoy our new video for "Upside Down & Inside Out". A million thanks to S7 Airlines. #GravitysJustAHabit

Posted by OK Go on Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Was that a meteor?! Did you see that?"

I asked last Saturday evening after Meade and I saw a spectacular light streak across the northern sky, east to west.

Reader MadisonMan checked to see if the UW-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center rooftop webcams had caught it, and isn't it cool that they caught the view we saw:

So there! A meteor! Beautiful!

"Well look, I know Al Sharpton better than I know you and I dealt with him for years and years and years and you know when he’s not political he says oh I love Donald Trump, I love Donald Trump..."

"... but I will say – in fact, he came up to my office not so long ago to apologize because on his show, which is now off the air which is a fortunate thing, he called me a racist and he came up, he literally came up to my office and he apologized to me, which, by the way I thought was very nice... You know Al is just doing his thing, Bill. He does his thing, we all do our own thing, he was doing his thing and he continues to do it."

"Steinem’s polished humanitarian mask had slipped, revealing the mummified fascist within."

Camille Paglia is weighing in on the recent feminism cataclysm.
I’m sure that my delight was shared by other dissident feminists everywhere....

As for Madeleine Albright, who said "There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women," Paglia says: "Waspishly policing the earth was evidently insufficient for the feminist politburo, who are now barging into the salvation and damnation game."

Oh, that reminds me of something a commenter — tshanks78 said — yesterday as I noted the way we don't see Bernie Sanders making equivalent "first Jewish President" arguments: "Is there a special place in hell for Jews that don't support Bernie Sanders?"

Back to Paglia:
Yes, [Hillary's] been handed job after job, but primarily due to her very unfeminist association with a man. As a senator, she initiated nothing of substance, and as Secretary of State, she stumbled into one disastrous fiasco after another, escalating the destabilization of North Africa and the Mideast.
And she was handed an unopposed path to the Democratic Party nomination. Why?! She lost to Obama. She never proved she had what it takes to be a dominating campaigner. Everyone just cleared out of her way. But some old man had the nerve to step into the path and prove the inanity of the everyone else's deference to the ex-President's wife.
Hillary Clinton, in contrast, is a time-server and trimmer who cynically panders to every audience and who shuffles through policy positions like playing cards.
A trimmer.  That's a rather British word, meaning someone who "inclines to each of two opposite sides as interest dictates," according to the OED, which attributes this usage "to Lord Halifax and those associated with him (1680–90), but by him accepted in the sense ‘one who keeps even the ship of state’; hence ‘one who changes sides to balance parties’ (Johnson)." Example from 1682: "A Trimmer, one neither Whigg nor Tory, is a Hater of Anti-christ, an Abominator of Enthusiasm."

Paglia wonders how Hillary ever got to be thought of as "a feminist icon." As for Gloria Steinem:
It was precisely because of the borderline lunacy of so many of those women [feminists, circa 1970] that I became a fan of Gloria Steinem from the moment she appeared on the national scene.

With her chic aviator shades, hip-huggers, and flowing, streaked-blonde hair, the telegenic Steinem normalized the public image of feminism and made it palatable to a vast mainstream. She projected steadiness and cordiality and presented feminist goals as utterly reasonable....
Former fandom renders Paglia, in her own eyes, an apt critic. Steinem resorted to "male-bashing." She alienated women who stayed home with their children and those who maintained a moral objection to abortion. She "and the leaders of the National Organization for Women... became backstage secret agents for the Democratic party," notably giving "Bill Clinton a free pass for his gross violation of fundamental sexual harassment principle." And Steinem denounced Paglia's magnum opus "Sexual Personae," comparing it to "Mein Kampf."
For nearly 25 years, Hillary Clinton, with her simmering subtext of contemptuous bitterness about men, has been pushed along and protected by a host of powerful women journalists in print and TV, Steinem chums or sympathizers who have a lot to answer for.

"Remember, my Rubio prediction was 100% wrong. That is objectively true. No wiggle room at all."

"Now watch me describe my wrong prediction as being more right than wrong. I do this for entertainment, and to make the point that you can force any data to fit the past if you try hard enough. I’ll do that for you now...."

Said the very entertaining Scott Adams.

ADDED: From another recent post (with a fascinating chart):
... I don’t believe our brains evolved to give us truth. Our brains evolved to create little movies in which we get to be the stars. And we can view our movies through many filters with no preference for which filter is the “right” one.

For example, Ted Cruz and Richard Dawkins believe totally different things about reality and yet both can use an ATM, shop at a store, and procreate. So your filter on reality need not be related to any actual underlying reality in order to keep you alive. It just has to NOT kill you.
That can't be true... by its own terms. But, boy, does it feel true! And, therefore, it's... true/not true.

A barber tells about about the time Justice Scalia stopped in for a haircut.

At Lovers Lane Barbers, near Southern Methodist University, a couple weeks ago.

"He sat on my chair, and I was trying to think how in the world am I going to cut his hair and what in the world am I going to say to him?... He had quite a bit of hair. Yes, he did. Well, he didn't have that much on top, but he had a lot in the back and the sides... I was honestly just trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do with his hair.... I'd just probably fall over dead here."

Greetings from the land of "The Communist Manifesto."

There's that, somewhere in the lower depths of a Washington Post "Wonkblog" item titled, absurdly "What Ivy League students are reading that you aren’t." It begins:
If you want an Ivy League education, you could fork over $200 grand or so and go to Cornell or Harvard for four years. Alternatively, you could save a ton of cash by simply reading the same books Ivy League students are assigned.

That became easier recently with the release of the Open Syllabus Explorer, an online database of books assigned in over 1 million college courses over the past decade or so....
It's silly to suggest that reading the same books that are read in a college course would give you the same thing as a class where those books are read. The access to data here, though, is great. The maps and lists, however amusing, are a depiction of evidence that needs some explanation. (Especially for Florida!)

I'm sure "Communist Manifesto" is so prevalent because it fits in a place in a standard course and there's no competition for the slot it fills. As for "Elements of Style," it's a slim pamphlet that can (and probably should) be thrown at everybody.

When you get to works of fiction and see the dominance of "Frankenstein," you'll have your ideas about why that's taken on ridiculous importance over the years. I'm sure it does say something about Ivy League schools that "Frankenstein" is only 10th on their list when it's #1 on the "All Schools" list, but once you move everybody's favorite woman-written work into a more subordinate position, you'll see the usual line-up of "Canterbury Tales," "Paradise Lost," "Heart of Darkness," and "Hamlet."

The differences aren't so much in which books you read, it's what you talk about after you've read them. I assume! I haven't been in college in decades, but I know law school. We all read Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland, but what's happening in those in-class discussions and what are you expected to be able to write about them?

Watch out for the floor.

My advice after fooling with the FlowingData chart displaying data about people injuring themselves — over the course of the year — on various things.

Why are people more persuasive when they use language like “it could be the case”?

I'm reading "How to change someone’s mind, according to science," by Ana Swanson in WaPo:
A new paper from researchers at Cornell University sheds some light on how and why people are convinced to change their minds. The researchers analyzed nearly two years of postings on ChangeMyView, a forum on the internet community reddit where posters present an argument and invite people to reason against them....

Surprisingly, they find that hedging – using language like “it could be the case” – is actually associated with more persuasive arguments. While hedging can signal a weaker point of view, the researchers say that it can also make an argument easier to accept by softening its tone....
Via my son John at Facebook, where I comment:
I think the reason language like “it could be the case” is more persuasive (if it is) isn't so much that it's "softer," but that it establishes your credibility and your concern about accuracy. You're not acting like you know what you don't or can't know. You're showing that you are still in a process of gathering ideas and sorting them out. You're a living mind, not walking propaganda. You're also signaling that you respect the other person's mind and that you want to be in a relationship with them, examining ideas together. That's probably something people want even more than the particular ideas they happen to have in their possession at any given time.