March 1, 2015

Scott Walker on "Fox News Sunday" this morning.


"As we got closer, it became clear that it was a pure jade iceberg."

"We were very lucky to come upon it during the short window of time before it blended back into white, after enough air, sun, and snow exposure."

"Sex Trouble: Essays on Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature."

It's Robert Stacy McCain's book about feminism. I'm resistant to his extreme form of aversion to feminism, but he's plowed (wrong word??) through a lot of books I can't be troubled with. Ah, there, I used his word: trouble. Why go looking for trouble? One reason is: to write a book about trouble, sex trouble. Why buy such a book? One reason is: to blog about it. Also, it's only $1.99 in Kindle, whence I can cut and paste things here for you.

Law school applications are in decline because "machine intelligence is beginning to substitute for lawyers..."

"... particularly at the low end of the legal profession. Document discovery is moving from human to machines. Legalzoom and similar services are encroaching on the production of simple documents, like many wills and trusts. And once machines get into an area, they dominate over time."

Writes lawprof John O. McGinnis.

"I admire the way [Leonard Nimoy] presented the women as standing there looking the viewer full in the face."

"Saying look at me — I’m entitled to stand here and present myself to the world. I don’t have to be ashamed and cower in the corner," wrote Natalie Angier in the foreword to the photography book "The Full Body Project." (Clicking the link won't display nudity on screen, but scrolling down will.)
"It really disturbed him that women who considered themselves overweight had this terrible feeling about themselves... He wanted to show the world that there’s beauty to be found in different body types."
I noted Nimoy's photography project back in 2007, in a post that read "So, Leonard Nimoy is into fat women. I have a similar preference." The link on "similar preference" went to a 2005 post titled "Drawing from the nude model":
My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts, and I've spent many hours drawing from a live model, both in art school and in evening sessions here at UW....

It can also be tiresome to draw from the model. You may think it's always going to be interesting to look at a naked person, but many people who try to be artist's models are not very good. You need an interesting body and an ability to find a good pose and hold it. The artist can move around looking for a good angle on a pose, but with some models there are no interesting angles. Try drawing a thin man! The best models are overweight women -- like the woman in the photo at the link. One reason I stopped doing the evening drawing sessions here at UW was that nearly all the models were thin. I mean, if I want to draw landscapes, I'd go to the mountains, not the plains.
ADDED: The 2007 post linked to a NYT article titled "Girth and Nudity, a Pictorial Mission":
Mr. Nimoy... admits that before he began ["The Full Body Project"], it had never occurred to him that beauty might be culture driven.... His enlightenment came about eight years ago, when he had been showing pictures from his Shekhina series — sensual, provocative images of naked women in religious Jewish wear — at a lecture in Nevada. 
(Nimoy — according to Wikipedia — was "the son of Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Iziaslav, Soviet Union (now Ukraine). His parents left Iziaslav separately—his father first walking over the border into Poland—and reunited in the United States.")
Afterward, a 250-pound woman approached him and asked if he wanted to take pictures of her, a different body type....

“The nudity wasn’t the problem,” he said, “but I’d never worked with that kind of a figure before. I didn’t quite know how to treat her. I didn’t want to do her some kind of injustice. I was concerned that I would present this person within the envelope of an art form.”

But soon he relaxed into it, lulled by the clicking of the camera and the woman’s comfort with her body. He placed some of the shots in various exhibitions, and they invariably garnered the most attention. “People always wanted to know: ‘Who is she? How did you come to shoot her? Why? Where? What was it all about?’ ”

"10 Times Ed Sheeran Slayed A Cover Song."

That's what I'm listening to at 5:28 a.m., here in Madison, Wisconsin.

Rand Paul wins the CPAC straw poll with 25.7%, but Scott Walker gets a "closer-that-expected" 21.4%.

3rd and 4th places are far back Ted Cruz, 11.5%, and Ben Carson, 11.4%. Jeb Bush is 5th, and perhaps 8.3% feels good enough to him.
Although some CPAC members applauded Bush's call for "reform" conservatism, others described the former Florida governor as a dreaded RINO — Republican In Name Only. "He should be a Democrat," said Christmas Simon, a public speaker from Yorba Linda, Calif.

Bush's name drew boos during some of Saturday's wrap-up sessions.

February 28, 2015

"The genesis of the love song would seem to lie somewhere in the fertility rites of the ancient world..."

"... the Sumerians, for example, had a number of hymns/love songs to celebrate the sacred marriage of the king (human) to the goddess (immortal), these nuptials being conducive to a rich harvest, cultural plenitude, satellite dishes for everyone, and so on..."
[Ted Gioia’s "Love Songs: The Hidden History"] touches in passing upon the love song’s evolutionary brief—that is, to encourage men and women down the ages to have sex with each other.... [O]ne of his arguments is that the basic elements have been there from the beginning. It’s hard not to agree with him, really, when Egyptologists are finding amid the pottery shards and crumbling papyri lines like If only I were the laundryman … / Then I’d rub my body with her cast-off garments. Gioia credits women with the greatest breakthroughs in love-song self-expression: “Women were the innovators and men the disseminators”— which sounds anatomically correct, at least. Love shook my senses, / Like wind crashing on the mountain oaks. That’s Sappho, or the composite forensic entity known as Sappho, sounding like Kelly Clarkson.

"Is Leonard Nimoy the first example of a 'famous last tweet?' If not, what are some others?"

A question on Reddit. Nimoy's last tweet was: "A life is like a garden, Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory." I don't see how you can call that "famous" when he just died. Would you remember that 10 years from now?

Among the answers: "The last tweet of that poor Notre Dame student who died on the scissor lift filming football practice was... 'Gust of wind up to 60mph ... I guess I've lived long enough.'" That's the other meaning of the phrase "famous last words." There, stress belongs on last, not famous. It's something a person who isn't planning to die says that, in retrospect, speaks to the circumstances of the death.

Another answer is Roger Ebert's "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies." That's like Nimoy's. Someone who is planning to die frames an apt statement on the way out.

Let's not mix up the 2 kinds of famous last words. Or are there more than 2?

ADDED: The expression "famous last words" is most useful as something to say to a living person who has just said something that you're picturing could be something that is said right before doing something deadly.

AND: The fire extinguisher's empty. Get the hairspray!

"Stop Scott Walker, Ann."

In my email this morning (sent, as usual for the DNC, to my university address):

I love the way the big, bright, white letters are used to create the deniable, subliminal message: "SCOTT WALKER TERRORISTS."

Why Stephen Breyer is my favorite Supreme Court Justice.

I love his crafty-casual unfolding of an absolutely-to-the-point, devastating question, on nice display in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch (which is a case about the store's declining to hire a woman who interviewed in a headscarf):

That's just one example of his style of questioning. That's his long form attack, which tends to come after lying in wait. There's also the delightful short form of attack: "I'm with you only where they correctly believe that, dah, dah, dah, or understand dah, dah, dah, or no."

"You have to feel a little sorry these days for professors married to their former students. They used to be respectable citizens—leaders in their fields, department chairs, maybe even a dean or two..."

"... and now they’re abusers of power avant la lettre. I suspect you can barely throw a stone on most campuses around the country without hitting a few of these neo-miscreants. Who knows what coercions they deployed back in the day to corral those students into submission; at least that’s the fear evinced by today’s new campus dating policies. And think how their kids must feel! A friend of mine is the offspring of such a coupling—does she look at her father a little differently now, I wonder. It’s been barely a year since the Great Prohibition took effect in my own workplace. Before that, students and professors could date whomever we wanted; the next day we were off-limits to one another—verboten, traife, dangerous (and perhaps, therefore, all the more alluring)."

So begins Laura Kipnis, in a piece titled "Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe."

For the record, I do not think professors should have sexual relationships with students, and therefore I support that particular "Great Prohibition," but I think Kipnis's writing is interesting, and that paragraph hits on something that had been pretty obvious for a long time: It's hard to ban something that should be banned when to do so casts aspersions on the marriages of many prestigious professors.

"The Intercept media executives and staff weren’t fans of their own reporting on the case featured in the wildly popular podcast Serial, delaying stories because they were 'siding with The Man'..."

"... former Intercept senior investigative reporter Ken Silverstein wrote in POLITICO Magazine."
“I came to realize that the system working correctly—and the right people going to jail—isn’t a good narrative to tell at The Intercept,” Silverstein wrote.
From Silverstein's piece:
Publishing the Serial stories was a huge headache: There were constant delays and frustrations getting them out, even after it became clear they were drawing huge traffic. Our internal critics believed that Natasha and I had taken the side of the prosecutors—and hence the state. That support was unacceptable at a publication that claimed it was entirely independent and would be relentlessly adversarial towards The Man. That held true even in this case, when The Man successfully prosecuted a killer and sent him to jail.

Some colleagues, like Jeremy Scahill, were upset after the first installment of Natasha’s interviews with Jay, the state’s flawed-but-convincing key witness, and our co-bylined two-part interview with the lead prosecutor, Kevin Urick, both of whom had refused to speak to Sarah Koenig for her Serial podcast. Jeremy even threatened to quit over the second installment, according to two of my colleagues who witnessed what they described as his “temper tantrum” in the New York office. He told them he couldn’t believe that we’d so uncritically accepted the state’s view of the murder—even though our stories were backed up by our own research, our unique reporting and our reading of court documents. One day at the office, frustrated, Natasha wrote “Team Adnan” on a sign on Jeremy’s office door.

"Today is September 30th, also known as Blasphemy Rights day."

"This day is dedicated to those who are systematically being persecuted, harassed, or killed for their simple expression of Freethought (more precisely, for their ‘blasphemous’ views towards religion)."
Today, we state clearly that considering apostasy to be a criminal offense in state level in fact is an inexcusable offense. If being religious is someone’s right, then being critical to religion is also one’s right. There is nothing wrong to be critical to any idea or ideology, as CFI aptly put on its Blasphemy day banner – ‘Ideas do not need rights, People do’!
So wrote Avijit Roy on his blog Mukto Mona, on September 30, 2013.

Avijit Roy left his home in Atlanta for a speaking engagement in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Last Thursday:
As he walked back from the book fair, assailants plunged machetes and knives into Roy and his wife, killing him and leaving her bloodied and missing a finger.

Afterward, an Islamist group "Ansar Bangla-7" reportedly tweeted, "Target Down here in Bangladesh."

"The Pittsburgh Pirates released a strongly worded statement distancing themselves from the Islamic State..."

"... after a photo surfaced of Mohammed Emwazi – the knife-wielding militant known as ‘Jihadi John’ – wearing a cap with the team’s insignia."

"It is a slippery slope if the government is now going to prosecute people under a manslaughter — a 20-year felony charge — for not preventing those who want to commit suicide..."

"... and that’s what they’re trying to do here."
Asked if they thought [17-year-old Michelle] Carter’s messages convinced [18-year-old Conrad] Roy to kill himself, his grandfather Conrad Roy Sr. said, “Her texts had a big influence on what happened.”

"Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy."

"Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek's optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity's future."

Said the cool and nerdy, big-eared Barack Obama.

"So" is the new "well."

So, I wanted to write a post with that title after reaching my tipping point listening to 2 things yesterday: 1. Jeb Bush doing a Q&A at CPAC and beginning nearly every answer with "So...," and 2. The Supreme Court oral argument in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, with the lawyer for the government repeatedly beginning his answers with "So..." (and "So, Your Honor").

So, having conceived of that title for a blog post on a topic that has been stewing on the back burner of my mind, I googled those words and found them in a 2010 essay by Anand Giridharadas (in the NYT) called "Follow My Logic? A Connective Word Takes the Lead":
“So” may be the new “well,” “um,” “oh” and “like.” No longer content to lurk in the middle of sentences, it has jumped to the beginning, where it can portend many things: transition, certitude, logic, attentiveness, a major insight....

One can dredge up ancient instances of “so” as a sentence starter. In his 14th-century poem “Troilus and Criseyde,” Chaucer launched a verse with, “So on a day he leyde him doun to slepe. ...” But for most of its life, “so” has principally been a conjunction, an intensifier and an adverb.

What is new is its status as the favored introduction to thoughts, its encroachment on the territory of “well,” “oh,” “um” and their ilk.
Giridharadas traces the tic to 1990s-era Silicon Valley, where software-oriented minds visualize  "conversation as a logical, unidirectional process — if this, then that."
This logical tinge to “so” has followed it out of software. Compared to “well” and “um,” starting a sentence with “so” uses the whiff of logic to relay authority. Whereas “well” vacillates, “so” declaims....
Too phallocratic? Well... I'm saying "well" like a person of the 80s... consider the theory of the linguist Galina Bolden, who's done scholarly writing on the topic of "so":
She believes that “so” is also about the culture of empathy that is gaining steam as the world embraces the increasing complexity of human backgrounds and geographies. 

To begin a sentence with “oh,” she said in an e-mail message, is to focus on what you have just remembered and your own concerns. To begin with “so,” she said, is to signal that one’s coming words are chosen for their relevance to the listener.

The ascendancy of “so,” Dr. Bolden said, “suggests that we are concerned with displaying interest for others and downplaying our interest in our own affairs.”
And then there's Michael Erard, author of "Um...: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean":
The rise of “so,” he said via e-mail, is “another symptom that our communication and conversational lives are chopped up and discontinuous in actual fact, but that we try in several ways to sew them together — or ‘so’ them together, as it were — in order to create a continuous experience.”
So it is written...

February 27, 2015

Stalin World.

Here's a documentary about the Lithuanian theme park Grutas Park — AKA "Stalin World" — which we were talking about this morning in connection with the ISIS destruction of ancient sculptures. Here we see Soviet era sculptures preserved in a tourist-attraction garden setting that many Lithuanians find quite offensive.

Thanks to Irene for pointing me there. And no thanks to the NYT for picturing 2 of the Grutas Park sculptures in a slide show about how aging Americans can absorb Euro-culture through the wonders of Airbnb.

"Boy, Blowing Up A DNC Media Hit Job On Scott Walker In Realtime Sure Is Fun!"

"The Latest Attempt To Launch A New Walker Smear Crashes & Burns On The Launch Pad. And There Was Much Rejoicing."
As it so happens, this Jezebel writer, Natasha Vargas-Cooper, either didn't do any research at all on this piece or she deliberately left out the whole story.

As it so happens, there is a pretty damn good reason Scott Walker deleted these [sexual assault] reporting requirements.

He did it because - get this! - the University of Wisconsin *asked* him to.
(Via Instapundit.)