April 21, 2014

Reliving the Terri Schiavo case.

A 13-minute video — and an article — at the NYT today:

Why revisit this controversy now? Scanning the 13-paragraph article for an answer to my question, I find the NYT variation on my question in Paragraph 7: "What, if anything, is the enduring legacy of this painful episode?" In the middle of the next paragraph, I find a key:
[W]hen she was in the news almost daily, there was a discernible increase in the number of Americans who prepared living wills and comparable directives, according to groups like Aging With Dignity, a nonprofit organization that supports end-of-life wishes.
The Terri Schiavo case was effective, like nothing else we've seen recently, in pushing people to sign those documents that will enable medical personnel to shunt them beyond that resource-consuming hospital bed. In these days of aging Baby Boomers and awareness of how we're all paying for everybody else's medical care, there's a growing interest in attaching "living wills and comparable directives" to all the pre-corpses of America.
Perhaps some politicians have learned a lesson: that these life-or-death decisions are probably best left to families and, should irreconcilable differences surface, to the courts....
Yeah, "perhaps"! I notice the phrase "death panels" does not appear in the article. There isn't even a mention of the Affordable Care Act and the recent congressional foray into the field of health care. The Act made it through Congress on the narrowest possible margin and it nearly died over the question of facilitating death.

And here's a second key to why the NYT is revisiting Terri Schiavo now:
Larger questions remain, affecting an estimated 25,000 Americans deemed by doctors to be in a vegetative state. Complicating matters are studies like those reported last week by a team in Belgium and earlier by Adrian M. Owen, a British neuroscientist working in Canada. They have found through brain-imaging techniques that residual cognitive capacity may exist in some people classified as vegetative.
That's phrased awfully delicately, don't you think? What if people start to disbelieve the story that Terri Schiavo was an unburied corpse, with a liquefied brain, tended over by sentimental parents who resisted the straightforward facts delivered by doctors? What if the scientific consensus breaks down because of actual science and we learn that those 25,000 Americans are still in there, longing — some of them anyway — to return to this life? What are we willing to spend to try to bring them back?

If everyone would sign the relevant documents before entering this state, the rest of us will not be asked these questions, because the assumption will be that whatever longing persists in the persistently vegetative is longing for death.

By the way, the NYT article begins and ends with literary riffs on the name Schiavo, which is Italian for "slave." Paragraph 1 portrays Schiavo as a metaphorical slave — "slave to an atrophied brain... slave to bitter fighting.. slave to... court hearings... to politicians...." And the last paragraph ends:
[T]he woman born Theresa Marie Schindler had no control over the powerful forces that controlled her own fate. Just as if she were a schiavo, a slave.
Is that poignant or maudlin? "Slave" was the name of the man who fought for her death. Schindler was the name of the parents who fought for her life. And slavery is a profound topic unto itself. Should it be repurposed as a metaphor? It's a facile metaphor, the literal meaning of the woman's married name, and it degrades the meaning of the word "slave," because lying inert in bed is not much like slavery, which is forced labor. Slaves are human beings with minds capable of making decisions who are deprived moment-by-moment of the autonomy that belongs by right to the human mind.

Terri Schiavo's freedom and autonomy were accorded profound respect. Her problem was her incapacity to form or communicate her choice. That's terribly sad, but it is not slavery.

I think the technical term for this is "bench-clearing incident."

The voice over the action is a little distracting as Carlos Gomez reflects after the event, so notice that after he hits the ball, he hesitates in the manner normally associated with enjoying the pleasure of a home run. Then, he has to run, and he gets to third base, so maybe he could have made it all the way home. Anyway, once on the third, he reacts to a taunt from the pitcher.

ADDED: What did the pitcher say?
At issue was Gomez's flip of the bat following a third-inning triple....

"I grabbed the ball from (third baseman Josh Harrison) and I said, 'If you're going to hit a home run, you can watch it. If you're going to hit a fly ball to center field, don't watch it.'" said Cole. "I didn't curse at him, I didn't try to provoke a fight. I was frustrated and I let my emotions get the better of me."
I'm theorizing that what makes a taunt really aggravating is when it repeats and gives reality to the nagging voice you've already got in your head. Gomez knew that it was stupid and embarrassing to watch the ball fly and not take off running, and when Cole said exactly that Gomez was overcome with emotion.

AND: The alternative theory is that a person reacts more strongly to untrue or unfair statements, out of outrage and surprise. Which is it? I'm not just talking about Gomez, but the whole category of incidents in which one person says something and the other loses emotional and physical control. What is more of a trigger — hearing what you already fear or believe is the truth or hearing something that you hadn't thought was true about yourself?

AND ALSO: Yes, I know. Cue the comments in the category: See, this is what happens when you let women watch sports.

April 20, 2014

"British Pathé, the U.K. newsreel archive company, has uploaded its entire 100-year collection of 85,000 historic films in high resolution to YouTube."

"The collection, which spans 1896 to 1976, comprises some 3,500 hours of historical footage of major events, notable figures, fashion, travel, sports and culture. It includes extensive film from both World War I and World War II."

Wow. Beautiful.

It's all here. Explore! I'll cherry-pick one:

ADDED: From 1947, "No more babies!"

At the Moonrise Café...

... find some light.

"The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye/Says, 'Wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy!'"

"Yes, here’s the story of the Hurricane/The man the authorities came to blame..."

Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, dead, today, at age 76.

Dylan's song came out in 1976, and:

Did you miss any of the 20 things I blogged about yesterday?

1. How to be as unheterosexual as possible.  2. Knocking the cover off the baseball.  3. Elitist chickening. 4. The history of the letter W.  5. The Clinton "conspiracy commerce" memo. 6. A Monica sequitur. 7. Stages of mocking the stages of grief. 8. Nevada wants its land back. 9. VAWA amended to help U.S. Attorneys off the hook for their chronic failure to prosecute domestic violence cases. 10. The down side of desegregation. 11. The game young folks spurn. 12. Theme blogging. 13.  Floating nuclear power plants. 14. Lawyers in shorts.15. The political football. 16. The Alienation Museum. 17. Outsourcing umpiring.18.  Idol fluff. 19. Eiffel fluff. 20. Flying tentacles of Drudge.

ADDED: A commenter seems to have missed these posts because, he says, he was out getting a tattoo. Since he seems 1. To like tattoos and 2. To want to make up for his lapse in failing to read yesterday's 20 posts, I suggest that he get 20 tattoos, corresponding to the 20 posts:
1. 2 men who look alike, 2. A deconstructing baseball, 3. a fancy-schmancy chicken, 4. a W, 5. Hillary looking offended, 6. the smiling face of Monica Lewinski, 7. the Grim Reaper laughing, 8. Harry Reid wrestling with a map of Nevada, 9. A lawyer with the letters "U.S." on his shirt, looking the other way while a woman is getting strangled, 10. Zora Neale Hurston, Elijah Muhammad, and W.E.B. Du Bois all frowning disapprovingly, 11. An old man with a bag of golf clubs supplicating at the feet of a young man who is holding out his hand in the "Stop!" gesture, 12. Female hands on a keyboard, 13. 3-Mile-Island-style towers rocking atop a Hokusai wave, 14. Alan Dershowitz drawn in an R. Crumb style with skinny hairy legs showing because he's wearing shorts, 15. Leave a lot of room somewhere for that entire 1889 cartoon about Benjamin Harrison, 16. A lady seen from the back next to a framed painting of a woman of approximately the same shape appearing only as a silhouette, 17. An umpire "powwow," 18. Dexter Roberts, 19. The Eiffel Tower, 20. Michelle Obama, Johnny Depp, and Antonin Scalia, the first 2 with their hair swirling Medusa-ishly and the latter waggling his fingers in the "Boo!' gesture.

Inane War-on-Women headlines of the day.

From The Washington Post:

1. "75 years after ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ we need Ma Joad in the White House." The author, an English professor named Susan Shillinglaw, expresses enthusiasm for Ma Joad's threats of violence — that she’ll "knock you belly-up with a bucket" or "slap ya with a stick a stove wood" when you're sleeping or have your back turned. Domestic violence is such a thrill when it's a woman hitting a man, I guess. Shillinglaw also admires the rabid totalitarian spirit: "She would fire up the country with collective energy, too. 'Maybe if we was all mad in the same way.'" A demagogue would be great... if she's a female demagogue.

2. "Why we root for Chelsea Clinton." This one is just egging you on to say I don't root for Chelsea Clinton. Watch out. It's a trap. Don't react by attacking Chelsea. That's what they want you to do, and when you do that, you're giving them a target in the war. You've got to outsmart the enemy... and by enemy, I mean devious liberal politicos who are propagating the meme that conservatives want to hurt women (i.e., they are at war against women). So I would recommend responding to this article by latching onto that word "root." If "we" are "rooting" for someone, then "we" are cast as cheerleaders. Cheerleaders???!!!! Sexist stereotype! I am not a cheerleader looking on while someone else plays and scores. I am the active participant! How dare you consign me to the sidelines, with pom-poms, hopping around girlishly, admiring somebody else! See? That's how you do it.

Meade casts a long shadow on a long tongue.

At "The Mastiff."

More tongues at "Zeus and Iris." All lab at that one.

Much more obscure breeds at "Blue the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog" and "Kora the Deutsch-Drahthaar."

And don't miss the 2 Lucys at "I loves Lucys."

A Lucy:

The economics of Everest.

"The math simply doesn’t work out in the Sherpas’ favor...."
Most Sherpas work on a day-on, day-off rotation, and can make a dozen or more round trips through the icefall over the course of a 10-week season. Most clients pass through it twice or three times at most....

For bearing such risk, a typical climbing Sherpa can expect to bring home approximately $3,000 to $6,000 at the end of the season....

"I meet my Glass Guide, Danielle. She is young and blonde, and bears some resemblance to the actress Alicia Silverstone."

"I pull out a micro-recorder, asking if she minds if we document the experience. She doesn’t. She is wearing Glass, too, as do all the Glass Guides. With camera lenses embedded in our titanium eyewear, we are all documentarians now, although she asks me not to photograph other Glass base-campers when I pull out a traditional camera. It’d be a shame to violate their privacy while they’re learning how to violate everyone else’s."

Writes Matt Labash, with a photograph to prove not only the resemblance to actress Alicia Silverstone, but also the disquieting dorkiness Google Glass imparts even to those who resemble Alicia Silverstone.

This look, of course, is part of what other people with Glass will catch on you, if you have Glass. We'll all be Glass-y eyed, and yes, you might say, Labash probably chose the stupidest-looking shot of not-Alicia, but the internet is only just beginning to fill up with shots chosen by other people, often on the principle of stupidest-looking.

Later in the article:
Colleagues find the spectacle dorky enough that three of them whip out their smartphones to click pictures of me, causing me to threaten violence if anyone posts them to Twitter. 
So, within Labash's moral scheme, how many lashes at Labash does not-Alicia get?
With or without Glass, we are already a surveillance society.
Much more at the link, including using Google Glass at church, during communion, in a casino, counting cards.

April 19, 2014

"It turns out that a group of burly umpires powwowing at the edge of the field, communicating via headset with the league’s central-replay headquarters, in New York..."

"... is among the most cripplingly boring scenes ever produced by a major American sport."
Even when the replay process is swift and the outcome is correct, it is nonetheless so dull and deadening that it leaves one longing for the thrills of a pitching-coach visit to the mound, a reliever sauntering in from left field, or a batter wandering halfway from the plate to the dugout between every pitch.

Lady keeping chickens in the backyard in her posh NYC neighborhood seems to think the rules don't apply to her...

... because: 1. She bought the chickens from a place recommended by Martha Stewart, 2. These aren't ordinary chickens but a bantam Easter egger (with blue eggs), black copper marans (supposedly loved by French chefs), silkies, and a Belgian bearded d’uccle, 3. The coop cost $2,500 and was built by some Amish people, 4. She feeds the chickens "organic soy-free feed and... fresh vegetables," 5. She believes (and is telling the world) that her daughter Scarlett is "developing faster than her peers" and thus needs a "hormone-free diet" (and the NYT conveys this concern to us without mentioning that that "all eggs in commercial egg production in the United States" come from hens that "are not given hormones").

The New York Times, for all it's leftish sentimentalism, panders absurdly to the elite class. The linked article could be a humor piece, but it's not. It's a human (and chicken) interest story for aging, soft-(boiled)-headed female readers.

BONUS: The NYT fawns over extremely wealthy young people.


Flying tentacles of Drudge.

The imagery at Drudge right now:

The parallelism of hair and hands, the hair of Michelle Obama (for this story) and Johnny Depp (for news of the flop of his new movie) and the waggling fingers of Scalia (for "TSA GROPING UNDERSTANDABLE; NSA SPYING ON CITIZENS COULD BE GOOD...").

I'm enjoying the abstract coherence of the tentacles...

The Clinton White House "conspiracy commerce memo" warned, in 1995, that "THE INTERNET... allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all."

And: "The right wing has seized upon the internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people. Moreover, evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the internet...."

Here's the whole PDF for your amusement/disgust/horror. Here's the Politico article with the background about this document: It was long understood to exist and to have been the underlying analysis to Hillary Clinton's old "vast right-wing conspiracy" remark, and it was dumped yesterday — Good (day to dump documents) Friday — along with thousands of other things from the Clinton Presidential Library.

I love that direct admission that they were afraid of the internet. They could see that they couldn't control the media anymore.

The memo pushes the theory that there is an illicit "food chain" that brings material into the mainstream press, as if the mainstream press ought to be disciplined to reject news stories that are noticed and promoted this way.

At the Surrealism Exhibition...

... you're on your own.

How to be as unheterosexual as possible.

Have a sexual partner who looks exactly like you.

Photos of examples of such couples here, where the examples are all male.

Via Metafilter, where the first comment calls attention to the way this can also happen with a male-female couple.

What's the basis for the belief that partners should be different from each other? You could say it's needed for sexual reproduction, and we could look at how sexual dimorphism evolved, but there's no reason why faces need to look different for reproductive purposes.

Perhaps it has something to do with the old-fashioned notion that you shouldn't be in love with yourself. (I say "old-fashioned" because it contradicts the modern "self-esteem" movement.)

Related topics: 1. Whether a couple starts out looking alike or just ends up that way, 2. The fear/love of twins ("geminiphobia"/"geminiphilia"), 3. The way people get dogs that look like them (or end up looking like their dogs), 4. The way women are getting little dogs instead of having babies.

"A group of MIT scientists want to revive the nuclear industry in the post-Fukushima era by moving it offshore."


"A History of the Letter W."

There are, I think, 2 main questions people have if they stop and think about the letter W: 1. Why is it called double-U when it looks like double-V? and 2. Since we can spell words with double letters, why did this one instance of a double letter become a letter of its own? It was the second question — I think the first is silly — that got me looking for an answer. The history of W is explained in detail at Wikipedia, and quickly and amusingly in this video:

Men in shorts, lawyer version.

Above the Law is coming down hard on a judge who excluded a lawyer who arrived at court wearing shorts.

The lawyer is claiming a special medical need:
He got knee surgery two weeks ago and as he told KDFW, “I have tubes that come out of my leg that make it prohibitive to wear (pants). This connects to my ice machine that is a way of taking down the swelling in my leg. I’m also incapable of putting on long pants by myself.” [James Lee] Bright says that Judge [Etta] Mullin refused to hear him out and now he’s crying foul.
Would you have listened to a lawyer explaining that one might be capable of putting on shorts but not pants and using the word "prohibitive" to discuss the logistics of ice machine tubes? The courtroom has a "no shorts" rule.

Above the Law says: "And it’s not like shorts can’t be respectful courtroom attire. In Bermuda the lawyers wear shorts to court." And then declares that the Bermuda courtroom style looks "stupid" and the disability argument is better.

But the Bermuda lawyers in shorts are following the rules of the place where they practice, not claiming the shorts are appropriate when the rule is against them. And in fact, the shorts are no more "stupid" than lawyers in wigs look stupid. It's an issue of rules and tradition. You don't get to write your own rules, even if your shorts are fabulous, although, as you may know, the Althouse rule against shorts does have a fabulousness exception. But Althouse does not exercise the power of the state enforcing any dress codes. I am a state actor as a state law school professor, but I've never articulated or enforced any classroom dress code. My "men in shorts" comments are solely blog-based, offered up in an effort to help men look like men and not like children.

On this topic of medical devices and tubing... I assume there are a lot of people who have things like this under their clothing and do not want it to show and that tubing is routinely covered up. Does anyone with medical experience have a fact-based opinion on the lawyer's argument that it was "prohibitive to wear" pants?