October 24, 2014

"A lot of people have an impulse to be prejudiced. But at the same time, they're like almost everyone..."

"... in that they want to avoid being socially unacceptable. So they want to vent sexism and racism somehow — but only in ways that are considered socially acceptable."
And how can one do that? It's obvious: by expressing sexism/racism against men and whites only. If they'd been born long ago, they might have vented against women or blacks instead. That's why when I hear people expressing shamelessly anti-man or anti-white views, it doesn't strike me as a dramatic improvement over the expression of anti-woman or anti-black view....

"European Scientists Conclude That Distant Comet Smells Terrible."

"The European Space Agency has posted a full rundown of the comet's BO on its website. The mix includes ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), formaldehyde (CH2O) and methanol (CH3OH)."

4 looks at red.



Embarrassing premature exultation by Buzzfeed's Evan McMorris-Santoro.

"Watch A Republican Senate Candidate Sign A Young Woman’s Torso/'No pictures on this,' David Purdue jokes, as campaign staffers hold up signs in front of the camera," giggles nitwit Buzzfeed writer Evan McMorris-Santoro. Gotcha! Except you, Mr. McMorris-Santoro, were taken and you wanted to be taken, you wanted to hurt the bad old Republican, and you lapped up the story that you now have to choke down.

"CORRECTED: Dems Miss Insulin Pump In Video Of Perdue Signing Young Woman," reads the post now.

The Coeur d'Alene Hitching Post controversy comes in for a quick, soft landing.

What had happened was something I'd believed I could assure people was not going to happen, and I'm glad to see the local authorities — on receipt of a little push back from the country at large — gave matters a second thought and reversed their position:
The city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, says the Hitching Post, a for-profit wedding chapel owned by two ministers, doesn't have to perform same-sex marriages.

The city has been embroiled in controversy ever since the owners of the Hitching Post sued the city. They say a city anti-discrimination law threatened to force them to marry same-sex couples now that gay marriage is legal in Idaho....

Initially, the city said its anti-discrimination law did apply to the Hitching Post, since it is a commercial business. Earlier this week, Coeur d'Alene city attorney Mike Gridley sent a letter to the Knapps’ attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom saying the Hitching Post would have to become a not-for-profit to be exempt. But Gridley said after further review, he determined the ordinance doesn’t specify non-profit or for-profit.
And let that be a lesson to everyone. Remember Coeur d'Alene. Don't redo that controversy. It's been resolved correctly now, and nobody ought to make that mistake again. There now, can we all live in peace and diversity?

At the Water-Sky Café...

P1130218 - Version 2

... float your ideas.

"There were people who were put on that list because the Nixon people — very shrewdly, I think — sense from their life style that they were enemies."

"Joe Namath has never said anything political in his life, but they knew he was unreliable. To them, a guy who will flaunt dames and have a bar and look the way he does is clearly a guy who'll flout authority, and they don't like that. There's a Nixon way of doing everything. And the essence of totalitarianism is precisely that: in a totalitarian society there's a state way of doing everything — mathematics, forestry, sex. I think that's what the enemies list was all about — enforcing a kind of orthodoxy in everything. I'm certainly not saying that these guys were Nazis, but they operated like Nazis. James Reston, Jr.... wrote to Albert Speer and got a very interesting letter back. Naturally, it's hedged with comments about how reluctant he is to comment on the American political situation, but the parallels Speer points to between Nixon and the Nazi White Houses are remarkable — the same loyalty to the leader without any consideration of ideology, the same drawing of power into a tiny, isolated group, even the same shielding of the leader by giving him only a prepared news summary. You know, I've read a lot of biographies of Nixon, and they all seem to agree on one thing — that he really was an uncommonly good poker player. I think I've figured out why. It's that he always looks as though he's bluffing. You've got three kinds up and he raises, and you look at his face and you think, 'Nah, he doesn't have the aces.' But he'd look exactly the same if he didn't have them. He's always bluffing. There's no reality. A strange man — but awfully dangerous."

Said Frank Mankiewicz, interviewed in the November 19, 1973 issue of The New Yorker. Mankiewicz, who had been Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary and who directed George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, died yesterday at the age of 90. From the obituary:
A scion of Hollywood, the son of Herman J. Mankiewicz, who wrote “Citizen Kane,” and the nephew of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who directed “All About Eve,” he grew up with an Algonquin West round table in his Beverly Hills household, regaled by movie stars, famous writers and comedians like the Marx Brothers.
What a lucky man!

I wonder who leaked that Eric Holder is exasperated about leaks?

"Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly not pleased about the recent leaks involving the grand jury testimony of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. According to CBS News, the attorney general has been 'exasperated' over what he calls 'selective leaks' in the case."

Leaking about leaking. Freaky. Meta-leaky.

"Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure."

Said Marie Kondo, author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing," the subject of a NYT article titled "Kissing Your Socks Goodbye/Home Organization Advice from Marie Kondo," which goes on to say:
Such anthropomorphism and nondualism, so familiar in Japanese culture, as Leonard Koren, a design theorist who has written extensively on Japanese aesthetics, told me recently, was an epiphany to this Westerner. In Japan, a hyper-awareness, even reverence, for objects is a rational response to geography, said Mr. Koren, who spent 10 years there and is the author of "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers."
"Wabi-Sabi" got me drifting off trying to remember that Jim Kweskin song on that album we always listened to in college. What was it? Ah! The album is "Relax Your Mind." The song is "Guabi Guabi."

And that's how we relax in America, some of us anyway. Much as I'd like my house de-cluttered in some way that I might find all the more relaxing by thinking of it as Japanese, I just don't care anywhere nearly as much as I did before listening to "Guabi Guabi." How organized are Jim Kweskin's closets? But back to Leonard Koren:
"Think of the kimono, and the tradition of folding... There is also the furoshiki, which is basically a square of flat cloth used daily to wrap packages. Folding is deep and pervasive in Japanese culture. Folding is a key strategy of modular systems that have evolved because of limited living space.”
And in America:

Let's fold scarves!

Ebola and the wet-dry distinction:

From the excellent New Yorker article "The Ebola Wars":
There are two distinct ways a virus can travel in the air. In what’s known as droplet infection, the virus can travel inside droplets of fluid released into the air when, for example, a person coughs. The droplets travel only a few feet and soon fall to the ground. The other way a virus can go into the air is through what is called airborne transmission. In this mode, the virus is carried aloft in tiny droplets that dry out, leaving dust motes, which can float long distances, can remain infective for hours or days, and can be inhaled into the lungs. Particles of measles virus can do this, and have been observed to travel half the length of an enclosed football stadium. Ebola may well be able to infect people through droplets, but there’s no evidence that it infects people by drying out or getting into the lungs on dust particles. In 1989, a virus known today as Reston, which is a filovirus related to Ebola, erupted in a building full of monkeys in Reston, Virginia, and travelled from cage to cage. One possible way, never proved, is that the virus particles hitched rides in mist driven into the air by high-pressure spray hoses used to clean the cages, and then circulated in the building’s air system. A rule of thumb among Ebola experts is that, if you are not wearing biohazard gear, you should stand at least six feet away from an Ebola patient, as a precaution against flying droplets.
Did you understand that wet/dry was the relevant distinction in the communicability of ebola? Do you think this distinction has been effectively, clearly, and honestly conveyed by the various experts and officials who are trying to keep us informed and at the right level of vigilance? I sure don't.

AND: This is what Rand Paul was talking about:

WaPo's FactChecker Glenn Kessler analyzed Paul's statement and gave him 3 Pinocchios!

SO: "ZWZCYZ Children fashion PM2.5 anti-fog haze antibacterial ventilative mask Ebola disease prevention... Ideal for Dust, Germs, Allergies, Smoke, Pollution, Ash, Pollen, Crafts, Gardening, Travel, Anonymity... Kids Size, Made In China..."

Can anyone explain the profound loserosity of Martha Coakley?

The Democratic Party's candidate for governor in the famously liberal state of Massachusetts weirdly lost a Senate race to a Republican in 2010, and now she's not just losing to her Republican opponent, she's 9 points behind in the new Boston Globe poll. Is this lady poison? Come on! It's just plain mean to be so rejecting of this poor woman. What's going on?

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, 2 new polls came out yesterday, one putting the Democrat Mary Burke a point ahead and the other putting the Republican Scott Walker a point ahead. That's a good way to make everybody feel respected. Good work, Wisconsin. Everybody is a winner. Of course, in the end, one or the other candidate must win. But it's basically a crap shoot, right? It means nothing. Just a tie, out here in the land of peace, love and understanding.

Unlike Massachusetts, where there's some mysterious anti-Coakleyism raging. That poor woman...

"The Hipster terrorists are attacking!"

Comment at a Facebook post linking to an article with the headline "NYPD Fatally Shoots Man Attacking Cops with Hatchet; Possible Terrorist Link."

UPDATE: The comment at the Facebook post disappeared. I assure you it was there. I don't remember the name of the Facebooker who wrote it. The post was put up by my son John, but the comment wasn't his.

AND: Jeralyn Merritt goes looking for the real story of Zale Thompson. Excerpt:
Zale Thompson is a big fan of Malcolm X. He believes the time has come for violent aggression against the oppressors of African Americans in the U.S....

The Arabic graphic on his FB page is one that appears on many non-jihadist Arabic forums. I don't think his attack was motivated by ISIS. The manner of attack (a hatchet rather than a gun) may have been, but he is not a religious zealot. His cause is racial oppression....

Ebola bowling, ebola subway-riding, ebola Uber-cab-riding... in New York City.

Craig Spencer returned — by commercial airline — from his sojourn in Guinea where he treated ebola patients. He returned to the exquisitely crowded American island called Manhattan.

He didn't keep to himself within a small area, but hopped on the subway, went all the way to that other crowded island, the long one with the particularly crowded western end called Brooklyn. He went bowling. Going back to Manhattan, he opted for an Uber-cab. Thence, onward to an ambulance and to the storied Bellevue hospital, the oldest public hospital in America.

But NYC has been preparing for ebola we are told. The professionals know how to contain ebola and avoid contamination, even as Dr. Craig Spencer himself surely knew. He must have been so sure he got it right. Otherwise why would he have gotten on the subway and gone bowling?

Mayor Bill de Blasio reassured New York citizens: "Being on the same subway car or living near a person with Ebola does not in itself put someone at risk."

In itself. 

I take Bill de Blasio to be an honest man. Something made him say those hedge words: in itself

Now, the health department tells us, it is "actively trac[ing] all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk." But what counts as a contact with potential risk? Not simply riding in the subway car or bowling in the same bowling alley, right? Because that's not enough to put someone at risk in itself. But Craig Spencer must have believed that he had done nothing that put himself at risk. Spencer's fiancée and 2 of his friends are under quarantine. That's the scope of the relevant potential risk. The taxi driver, we're told, isn't at risk.

The city's health commissioner says that Spencer was not at "a stage of disease that creates a risk of contagiousness" that night he went bowling. And: "We consider it extremely unlikely, the probability being close to nil, that there will be any problem related to his taking the subway system."

Close to nil.

They can't shut down the subway. Meanwhile, the bowling alley was closed last night. Nobody has to go bowling... ebowla-ing.

October 23, 2014

"Violence against women is never okay… Even if that violence occurs against conservative women."

"Imagine for a second the outrage that would happen if Chelsea Clinton had gotten pushed by some guy. Had she tried to defend herself, the liberal media would’ve held her up as some feminist hero."

Writes Bristol Palin in "The Truth about the 'Palin Brawl' – The Media Reveals Its Bias Against Conservative Women Once Again."

CNN's Carol Costello has now apologized for inviting viewers to "sit back and enjoy" the recording of Bristol describing what was a violent attack on her. And Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski also apologized for presenting the story in a “humorous tone.”
“The more we learned about what happened its clearer that it’s not that funny,” Brzezinski said. “We played into stereotypes from maybe our own outlook, quite frankly. So it’s definitely more of a story than that.”

Scarborough said everyone is guilty for presuming the Palins are to be used as a “punch line.” “There is the very real possibility that something terrible happened to them,” Scarborough said. “… I think we all shot first and asked questions later and a lot of people are guilty of that.”
And by "everyone" he means everyone he knows. 

ADDED: Josh Marshall stands his ground:
So now, liberals, the media, Democrats, apparently anyone who thinks Palin is a buffoon of almost world historic proportions (which gets you to something like 80% of the country) are all abominable hypocrites for 'laughing' at what is now fairly preposterously portrayed as a violent assault against a woman. If you listen to the police interviews, which occurred just as the brawl had barely ended, all the witnesses beside Bristol said she attacked the homeowner. Indeed, even Bristol's younger sister Willow backed up the these other witnesses' account. She just said Bristol missed with her punches.

I think it kind of goes without saying that if news emerged that Bristol had been assaulted by a boyfriend or spouse or really anyone else, no one would be laughing. Indeed, I'm not sure anyone now is laughing so much as standing back agape and marveling. But advocates who are trying to alter public perceptions about and stiffen penalties against violence against women are, I do not think, saying that female bodies are inviolable in every case if you barge into someone's party and start swinging punches at them.

"Correction: A previous version of this post suggested that the real-life Jimmy Carter would never have recommended the Allman Brothers."

"In fact, he had a close relationship with the band."

Appended to "Obama and the End of Greatness," by Jeff Shesol, in The New Yorker.

At the Brown-and-Blue Café...


... think deeply.

"We don’t want to be seen as capitalizing on the tragedy."

"You don’t want to be seen as, 'We’re sending in the robots.' It sounds insensitive and crass."

"Years of disappointment and tension between Democrats and their president are now on open display as politicians..."

"... party leaders and strategists worried about their chances in the midterm elections begin casting about for someone to blame."

"Archeologists Dig Up Sphinxes From DeMille’s 'The Ten Commandments' Buried Along Central California Coast."

I love that headline. It's absurd and yet true, literally — because the stuff from the movie really was buried and in need of meticulous excavation of the archeological kind — and more deeply — because it's making me think that all those ancient Egyptian monuments were melodramatic, crowd-awing  spectacle of a piece with Hollywood.

Abusing children by exploiting them as mouthpieces for adults...

... and putting them on the internet saying "fuck" and "fucking" repeatedly:

Via Metafilter.

This gets my using children in politics tag. I consider it deeply morally wrong to appropriate and exploit children like this. I know I'm contributing to the virality of this video and that it might be more morally pure to protect these children by attempting to hide it, but it's already been on Buzzfeed, on a page that has over 800,000 views, so I think the best I can do is try to shame the adults who are treating children this way.

ADDED: I see that the freeze frame on the video calls the girls "potty-mouthed princesses," and I want to write separately to object to the term "potty-mouthed" to refer to saying the word "fuck," since "fuck" is not a reference to excrement. I know "potty-mouthed" is a generic term, considered old-fashioned and cutesy, and perhaps that makes it seem better to attached to children, but: 1. Children should not be taught that sex is filthy and something that must be kept away from the mouth, and 2. The image is of a mouth filled with excrement, and that is not something that should be connected with children.