May 27, 2015

"We are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech."

"Because today, we've reached the point in our society where, if you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.... After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech and there’s a real and present danger.”

Said Marco Rubio.

"To be thin-skinned, farsighted, and loose-tongued... is to feel too sharply, see too clearly, speak too freely."

"It is to be vulnerable to the world when the world believes itself invulnerable, to understand its mutability when it thinks itself immutable, to sense what’s coming before others sense it, to know that the barbarian future is tearing down the gates of the present while others cling to the decadent, hollow past. If our children are fortunate, they will inherit only your ears, but, regrettably, as they are undeniably mine, they will probably think too much too soon and hear too much too early, including things that are not permitted to be thought or heard."

From a Salman Rushdie story called "The Duniazát."

"You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog. I am proud to be called a radical Buddhist."

Said Ashin Wirathu, the leader of Burma’s 969 movement, quoted in a WaPo article titled "The serene-looking Buddhist monk accused of inciting Burma’s sectarian violence."
A catchy pop tune titled “Song to Whip Up Religious Blood” is often played at 969 rallies. The movement is named for three digits that monks say symbolize the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community, but its theme song is far from devotional. The lyrics reference people who “live in our land, drink our water, and are ungrateful to us,” according to the Times. And the chorus, “We will build a fence with our bones if necessary,” is repeated over and over again.

Wirathu claims that his movement is not responsible for the violence against the Rohingya [Burma’s Muslims]. But he does repeatedly insist that Muslims — whom he often calls “kalars,” a derogatory term roughly equivalent to the N-word — need to be kept in their place. He calls for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses, warns Buddhists to protect their women from Muslim rapists and was a vocal backer of a law restricting marriages between Buddhists and Muslims...

Reconsidering America.

I scoffed at the idea, but Meade insisted, so... listen:

This is a band that got started in 1970, a year when I was in college and absolutely no one would give these guys any respect.

The all-male feminist support group.

"I just wish there was a way that we could be validated for being such great feminists."

"Swiss authorities conducted an extraordinary early-morning operation here Wednesday to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges."

"As leaders of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plain-clothed Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. They went to the front desk to get room numbers and then proceeded upstairs."

What a scene!

ADDED: Shouldn't America leave soccer problems to the countries that call it football?

"But the problem with thinking of Mars as a fallback planet (besides the lack of oxygen and air pressure and food and liquid water) is that it overlooks the obvious."

"Wherever we go, we’ll take ourselves with us. Either we’re capable of dealing with the challenges posed by our own intelligence or we’re not. Perhaps the reason we haven’t met any alien beings is that those which survive aren’t the type to go zipping around the galaxy. Maybe they’ve stayed quietly at home, tending their own gardens."

From "Project Exodus/What’s behind the dream of colonizing Mars?" by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker (which I believe is available even to nonsubscribers).

I'm reading that because I read The New Yorker, but by coincidence, I'd just been rereading old Dan Quayle quotes. (Because yesterday, it became necessary to remind you: "What a waste it is to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful, how true that is.") And I loved this one:
"Mars is essentially in the same orbit . . . Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."
Remember the Mars canals?

Almost as entrancing at The Man in the Moon:

But to get back to the garden — and to The New Yorker — here's a March 2007 piece by Adam Gopnik titled "Voltaire's Garden":
Voltaire goes on to detail the hideous theatrics of the Inquisition: the yellow robes, the burnings and flogging set to Church music, the whole choreography of Christian cruelty. The point of “Candide” is that the rapes and disembowelments, the enslavement and the beatings are not part of some larger plan, not a fact of the fatality of life and the universe, but fiendish tortures thought up by fanatics....

By “garden” Voltaire meant... the better place we build by love. The force of that last great injunction, “We must cultivate our garden,” is that our responsibility is local, and concentrated on immediate action... The horror that Voltaire wanted crushed, cruelty in the name of God and civilization, was a specific and contingent thing... The villains are the villains: Jesuits and Inquisitors and English judges and Muslim clerics and fanatics of all kinds. If they went away, life would be much better. He knew that the flood would get your garden no matter what you did; but you could at least try to keep the priests and the policemen off the grass. It wasn’t enough, but it was something.

"The Old Scott Walker Ad Where He Played An Alter Ego With A Fake Mustache And Glasses."

"The ad, which plays on the famous 'I’m a Mac, I’m a PC' commercial, was run during Walker’s 2008 race for Milwaukee county executive...."

"Democrats hope for Hillary Clinton coattails."

Her campaign is still in its infancy. The presidential election is nearly 18 months away. But Democrats are already banking on a “Hillary effect,” an anticipated wave that will lift the party’s fortunes up and down the ticket.
They're banking on it? Where does this come from? Is it pure lying? Is it propaganda?

"Non-Muslims who work in the Middle East, are forced to wear 'respectable' clothing by their employers, or face disciplinary measures."

"The Arab Muslims say that this demand is quite acceptable; and that this is to ensure that people adhere to local traditions and customs of the host country. So, with this same philosophy, why can't Europeans set a similar standard for migrants?"

That is, by far, the most up-voted comment (out of 708 comments) at the NYT article titled "Muslim Frenchwomen Struggle With Discrimination as Bans on Veils Expand."

I want to say that the answer to that question is obvious: Because we have a strong belief in religious freedom and personal expression. But I can't say "we," because I'm not French. From the article:
Mainstream politicians... say they [support the ban] for the benefit of public order or in the name of laïcité, the French term for the separation of church and state.... The concept of laïcité was developed during the French Revolution, and was intended to limit the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in the government.
A little more detail on that:
The strict separation of church and state... has evolved into what some religious leaders see as a "form of political correctness that made bringing religion into public affairs a major taboo." Former President Sarkozy initially criticised this approach as a "negative laïcité" and wanted to develop a "positive laïcité" that recognizes the contribution of faith to French culture, history and society, allows for faith in the public discourse and for government subsidies for faith-based groups. Sarkozy saw France's main religions as positive contributions to French society...  Sarkozy later changed footing on the place of religion in French society, by publicly declaring the burqa "not welcome" in France in 2009 and favoring legislation to outlaw it....

Should men describe their partner's breasts to other people? Should they write about them on the internet?

A question comes to mind on reading the comments on yesterday's post "Men value intelligence in women far above large breasts and long legs, a Cambridge evolutionary biologist has claimed."

Pick the answer that's closer to what you think (or abstain and participate in the comments). free polls
(If you can't see the vote buttons, vote here.)

ADDED: I recommend answering the first question before clicking to reveal the second question:

May 26, 2015

"I'm saving people a lot of time today: You don't have to meditate. You don't have to exercise. Just read some books from Art Garfunkel's list."

Things heard recently at Meadhouse.

I love the new New Yorker cover.

It's "Suiting Up" by Mark Ulriksen.

Great style and substance. We looked at this one and talked about it for 15 minutes.

Here's Amy Davidson's article about the cover and about all the old covers depicting Hillary Clinton. (You see her way in the back in the window to the door of the men's locker room in the new one.)

"People are wasting valuable thinking time on meditation and mindfulness and should stop trying to clear their heads..."

"... an Oxford University academic has claimed."
Theodore Zeldin said too many people were avoiding using their brains and instead escaping into a state of blank mental oblivion.
Mindfulness has been widely championed for inspiring creative thought, lowering depression and improving physical health and is even recommended by the NHS.

But Dr Zeldin said the practice was distracting people [from] discovering more about other people and the world around them, and encouraged them to instead seek to make new relationships with those who shared different views. He said the world needed to move away from an era of self-discovery.

"Men value intelligence in women far above large breasts and long legs, a Cambridge evolutionary biologist has claimed."

"Although having a large bust and never-ending pins are deemed by western culture as the epitome of femininity, when choosing a mother for their children, men look for brains first."

"George came up to me at a party once and said 'my Paul is to me what your Paul is to you.'"

"He meant that psychologically they had the same effect on us. The Pauls sidelined us. I think George felt suppressed by Paul and I think that’s what he saw with me and my Paul. Here’s the truth: McCartney was a helluva music man who gave the band its energy, but he also ran away with a lot of the glory."

Said Art Garfunkel, in a long interview, in which I also learned that he's got a website where he lists every book he's ever read and it's — in his words — "heavy shit... not fluff." He lists the books in the order he reads them and includes the number of pages in each book.

"It is also alleged that she moved the paddle away from him as he was struggling to stay afloat..."

"... with water temperatures in the 40 degree range, and failed to render him assistance including timely calls for help."

Said the prosecutor in that Hudson River kayak case.

The Supreme Court will answer a key question about the meaning of "one person, one vote."

Legislative districts must have roughly equivalent populations. That's been Equal Protection law for a long time. But how do you count the population? Do you include all residents or just those who are eligible to vote — or are states free to use either count?
Almost all state and local governments draw districts based on total population. If people who were ineligible to vote were evenly distributed, the difference between counting all people or counting only eligible voters would not matter. But demographic patterns vary widely.

If the challengers succeed, the practical consequences would be enormous, Joseph R. Fishkin, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin wrote in 2012 in The Yale Law Journal.

It would, he said, “shift power markedly at every level, away from cities and neighborhoods with many immigrants and many children and toward the older, whiter, more exclusively native-born areas in which a higher proportion of the total population consists of eligible voters.”
"One person, one vote" sounds like a reference to the voters, but that phrase comes from the court cases, not the Constitution itself. You could also think in terms of equality in the number of persons each representative represents. And if we're going to think in terms of voters, why would we look at the number of persons eligible to vote as opposed to the number of persons who actually vote? We know that voter turnout varies geographically.

After the rainstorm...


... Meade gathered up all the allium that had fallen over.

ADDED: The indoor view:


"As a little girl, I had never imagined myself with babies, or, for that matter, with a husband."

"My vision of the future had involved an apartment in New York City, a cat, and a typewriter. I was sure children would get in the way of my ambitions — and, worse, that I’d poison them with my resentment. In Caroline Moorehead’s biography of the swashbuckling journalist Martha Gellhorn, she describes how Gellhorn adopted an Italian orphan after World War II. At first she was smitten, but before long she felt trapped, writing that her son was, 'through no act of his own, but because of a careless, inconceivably frivolous and selfish act of mine, making life untenable.' She was a distant and sometimes cruel mother, and her child grew up to be a great disappointment to her; she once described him as 'a total loss, a poor small unwanted life.' Chilling as this was, I took a bleak sort of comfort in it, since it confirmed that I was right not to take the leap...."

From Michelle Goldberg's essay "I Was a Proud Non-Breeder. Then I Changed My Mind."