July 22, 2014

"A few years ago, Mel and I got into an argument about the house. I told her it was embarrassing."

"I asked her what she did all day. 'It really can’t be that hard to keep the house clean,' I said."
We got into a huge fight. Mel told me that I needed to realize what she was up against. And then she told me something that really hit home. She said, “Sometimes it comes down between cleaning the house, and taking Tristan and Norah to the park. Or spending time having fun with them, or teaching them to read or write. Sometimes I can either do the dishes, or teach our son how to ride a bike, or our daughter how to walk. I’d rather do those things, frankly. I’d rather not be that mom who ignores our kids, and myself, because I’m so busy worrying about what the neighbors might think of our messy house.”
How about spending time teaching Tristan and Norah how to help with the dishes? 

"My own childhood seems to have become illegal."

"I was the son of a single mother. During summers I would explore my neighborhood, visit friends' houses, walk to a pond to fish, ride my bike from our home in Bloomfield, N.J., to the abandoned lots of Newark, and jump it over curbs. I could be unsupervised from 10 in the morning until 8:30 at night, when the streetlights started coming on. If I was home with my grandmother, sometimes she would leave me alone to do grocery shopping."

From "Why are so many parents being arrested?/The communities that used to assist them are gone. So we call the cops instead."

"I always forbade everyone to clean my studios, dust them, not only for fear they would disturb my things, but especially because I always counted on the protection of dust."

"It’s my ally. I always let it settle where it likes. It’s like a layer of protection. When there’s dust missing here or there, it’s because someone has touched my things. I see immediately someone has been there. And it’s because I live constantly with dust, in dust, that I prefer to wear gray suits, the only color on which it leaves no trace."

Said Picasso.

"It is hard to find something that we actually got right in the modern bathroom."

"The toilet is too high (our bodies were designed to squat), the sink is too low and almost useless; the shower is a deathtrap (an American dies every day from bath or shower accidents). We fill this tiny, inadequately ventilated room with toxic chemicals ranging from nail polish to tile cleaners. We flush the toilet and send bacteria into the air, with our toothbrush in a cup a few feet away. We take millions of gallons of fresh water and contaminate it with toxic chemicals, human waste, antibiotics and birth control hormones in quantities large enough to change the gender of fish."

From "Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design/Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster." Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
Don't care won't care. That Guardian article is yet another attempt to put the blame for environmental problems on me the customer/individual when the system needs to change. I like my hot shower and want enough water and energy to run it, cleanly, not dither around pissing in straw buckets.

The hottest day of the year...

Untitled

... that would be today, here in Madison, Wisconsin. Dare I go out? It's 83.3°F — feels like 89! It might hit 88.

The other Obamacare lawsuit: "A federal judge threw out a lawsuit Monday brought by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson...

"... and one of his aides attempting to force members of Congress and their staffs to stop getting subsidies for their health insurance under Obamacare."
Johnson, a Republican from Oshkosh, argued that members of Congress and their staffs were required to get insurance on their own under the Affordable Care Act, also widely known as Obamacare. But U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in Green Bay ruled Monday that Johnson and his aide, Brooke Ericson, didn't have legal standing to bring their case because they hadn't been injured.
Here's our discussion, begun earlier this morning, about the D.C. Circuit's Obamacare opinion, dealing with subsidies for people using the federal exchanges. There was a standing issue in that case too. There (PDF) court found standing because one of the plaintiffs had an injury in fact that would be remedied by the relief sought from the court:

A big new NIH survey finds only 1.6% of American adults say they are gay or lesbian.

And only 0.7% say bisexual.

Why are these numbers so low? Is it that people are hiding or in denial, or is the proportion of nonhetereosexuals really pretty much that low?

"All of us who do what Thomas Frank does — what I do — have failed. Our goal was to persuade the public to move in a liberal direction..."

"... and that didn't happen. In the end, we didn't persuade much of anyone. It's natural to want to avoid facing that humiliating truth, and equally natural to look for someone else to blame instead. That's human nature. So fine. Blame Obama if it makes you feel better. That's what we elect presidents for: to take the blame. But he only deserves his share. The rest of us, who were unable to take advantage of an epic financial collapse to get the public firmly in favor of pitchforks and universal health care, deserve most of it."

Writes Kevin Drum in Mother Jones (citing the same Thomas Frank article we were talking about here yesterday).

"Pitchforks" refers to Obama's claim to be "the only thing between you and the pitchforks." And "you" was investment bankers. Drum is saying the financial collapse was the opportunity for left-wingers to turn the American people into a pitchfork-waving mob, but they let that serious crisis go to waste (as they say).

Why a pitchfork? In pop culture, it's "standard equipment for any angry mob on a Witch Hunt."
The mob may be going after a witch, an evil wizard, a vampire, a Mad Scientist, a "perverted" person, or any other unpopular local figure. If the mob is after the villain, he most probably ends up being shamed by the mob. f they're coming after the good guys for one reason or another (like if our heroes are hiding a Reluctant Monster), their best defense is Shaming the Mob or an obstacle that will force them to go one by one, raising the question of Who Will Bell the Cat?
But Drum is pro-mob. He wants out-and-proud pitchforkery.



I'll take the cotton candy. And I won't let the opportunity of this post go to waste. This is my time to say that when I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, I was not hoping for the United States to lurch way left. I was hoping for the very moderation that irks guys like Frank and Drum. Frank-n-Drum. Frankendrum!

A big defeat for Obamacare in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

"The 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov."
"Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states," wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. "We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly."

In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a "not-so-veiled attempt to gut" Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority "portends disastrous consequences." 
ADDED: Here's the PDF of the opinion,  Halbig v. Burwell. Excerpt:

What's so terrible about that Verizon "Inspire Her Mind" ad gently prodding parents to encourage intellectual development in girls?



Ironically, the ad milks emotions, with mawkish violins and the sad faces of young girls — every single one of whom is pretty. There's nothing scientific about this presentation.

And that's quite aside from the iffy statistics that Christina Hoff Sommers highlights in her critique, here (via Instapundit):



My favorite part of that critique is the part that begins at 4:00: The ad "conveys the message that science is masculine," and "conventional girl culture" is "shown as an obstacle to girls' science careers." It's as if what is feminine is inherently bad, and what's masculine is good, so shake off the feminine and be masculine. That's misogyny, precisely.

In this light, consider how we treat boys who feel drawn to girly things. I'm thinking of the "Go Carolina" chapter in the David Sedaris collection "Me Talk Pretty One Day." As a 5th-grader, he's one of the students chosen for speech therapy:
None of the therapy students were girls. They were all boys like me who kept movie star scrapbooks and made their own curtains. “You don’t want to be doing that,” the men in our families would say. “That’s a girl thing.” Baking scones and cupcakes for the school janitors, watching Guiding Light with our mothers, collecting rose petals for use in a fragrant potpourri: anything worth doing turned out to be a girl thing. In order to enjoy ourselves, we learned to be duplicitous. Our stacks of Cosmopolitan were topped with an unread issue of Boy’s Life or Sports Illustrated, and our decoupage projects were concealed beneath the sporting equipment we never asked for but always received. When asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, we hid the truth and listed who we wanted to sleep with when we grew up. “A policeman or a fireman or one of those guys who works with high-tension wires.” Symptoms were feigned, and our mothers wrote notes excusing our absences on the day of the intramural softball tournament. Brian had a stomach virus or Ted suffered from that twenty-four-hour bug.
Anything worth doing turned out to be a girl thing... Now, there's some material for an "Inspire Her Mind" ad we never see. Or for an "Inspire His Mind" ad....

"The full Biden plays better around the Mediterranean and in Latin America than in, say, England and Germany."

"A former British official who attended White House meetings with Biden said, 'He’s a bit like a spigot that you can turn on and can’t turn off.' He added, 'For all of the genuine charm, it is frustrating that you do feel as if he doesn’t leave enough oxygen in the room to get your points across, particularly for those who are polite and don’t interrupt.' He learned to leave extra room on the schedule to account for what colleagues called 'the Biden hour.' In Israel, Biden’s approach goes down better. On a visit in 2011, Biden quoted his father saying, 'There’s no sense dying on a small cross'—to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a larger step toward peace in the Middle East. Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., said, 'We’re in Jerusalem, we’ve got a Catholic Vice-President, we’ve got a Jewish Prime Minister, and he’s telling him, "There’s no sense dying on a small cross." The Prime Minister starting laughing, and, I have to tell you, it is the single most succinct understanding of Israeli political reality of any other statement that I’ve heard.'"

From "The Biden Agenda/Reckoning with Ukraine and Iraq, and keeping an eye on 2016," by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker.

If you have to ask...

... the answer is "no."

Leave John Koskinen alone!

He's trying to work!

Scientists struggle to determine whether you should sleep 8 hours...

... or only 7.

Lots of correlation/causation issues there. People sleeping lengthily may be trying to catch up, sleeping something off, or just plain ill. Why would they do well on brain tests?

And why assume that there is one right answer for human beings or even for one individual, year 'round, in different light conditions? I think it's amazing that our need to sleep fits with the day-to-night cycles of the earth. But then I lived through the great "biorhythms" pseudo-science outbreak of the 1970s:
Most biorhythm models use three cycles: a 23-day physical cycle, a 28-day emotional cycle, and a 33-day intellectual cycle. Although the 28-day cycle is the same length as the average woman's menstrual cycle and was originally described as a "female" cycle, the two are not necessarily in any particular synchronization. Each of these cycles varies between high and low extremes sinusoidally, with days where the cycle crosses the zero line described as "critical days" of greater risk or uncertainty.
Fortunately, that's total nonsense, and we are pretty well attuned to day and night. Night is for sleeping. How long? Why is that question even needed? I think it's because people are waking up to alarm clocks or other intrusive noises and jostlings. Too bad! I think you'd know how long you need to sleep if you'd just go to bed when you're tired and wake up when you wake up, but I guess that's some kind of luxury these days... or in any day. 

"With the BLACK ALBUM, we get to hear the boys write on adult life: marriage, fatherhood..."

"... sobriety, spiritual yearning, the emptiness of material success — 'Starting Over,' 'Maybe I’m Amazed,' 'Beautiful Boy,' 'The No No Song,' 'God' — and still they are keenly aware of this fact: Love does not last."

From the liner notes, by Ethan Hawke for the post-Beatles Beatles album constructed out of the solo effort of the post-boy boys. Scroll way down to see the 50 songs and the order in which they will be played.

Is "The No No Song" about "the emptiness of material success"? Just say "no" to... everything?



Nah, it's a sobriety song. And it was years before the "Just Say No" ad campaign that linked the word "no" to Nancy Reagan.
The phrase "Just Say No" first emerged when Nancy Reagan was visiting Longfellow Elementary School in Oakland, California, in 1982 and was asked by a schoolgirl what to do if she was offered drugs. The first lady responded by saying, "Just say no." Just Say No club organizations within schools and school-run anti-drug programs soon became common, in which young people make pacts not to experiment with drugs.
"No" was once a Ringo word, especially when repeated. But maybe you, like me, associate the repeated "no" with The Human Beinz. What were they "no"ing?



That "no" is about rejecting the capacity of others to turn in a superior performance of the shingaling and the boogaloo.

And, no no no, don't accuse me of failing to notice The Isley Brothers. Their original "Nobody But Me" did not include the repeated "no." The absurd non-negative "no"ing was the contribution of The Human Beinz:



"The recording's two 31-fold repetitions of the word 'no; fulfill Casey Kasem's 'Book of Records' category of most repetitive word or phrase in a Hot 100 top 10 hit, besting the 26-fold repetition of 'I know' in Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine.'"



"Know"/"No"... a telling homophone... as The Beatles knew:

July 21, 2014

"If you see her, tell her Dexter says hello."

Oh, I get it now. Took me a while.

Judge Alex Kozinski says the guillotine would be better than the lethal injection, but the firing squad is "the most promising."

Dissenting today from the denial of rehearing en banc in the lethal injection secrecy case of Joseph Wood:
Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful... But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.

The Burt of Burt's Bees.

Excerpt:
He gestured to an apartment complex across Third Avenue, the Ruppert Yorkville Towers, and added, “And that used to be the Ruppert brewery. The workers could drink from taps on the walls, and, because of all the grain, a river of rats ran down the streets at night. It was a magic town. But, you know . . . ” He held a photograph he’d snapped of an elderly neighbor staring dourly out her window, framed by dingy curtains. “As soon as I took this shot, I knew that that would be me, ninety years old and unable to go outside, if I didn’t get the hell out. I borrowed a van from a former girlfriend, packed up everything I needed—my bed, what clothes I had, an orange crate of books—and disappeared into the declining sun.” When was that? “Possibly it was the sixties. If I get some peace and quiet, I can lay that on you.” (He left in 1970.)

"Fancy Upper West Side Building Will Have a Separate Door for Poor People."

Part of the "Inclusionary Housing Program, which gives developers tax credits and other perks in exchange for creating some affordable units alongside their less affordable ones":
... 40 Riverside will have 219 expensive, river-facing condos to sell to people who are in a position to buy them and 55 street-facing places to rent to sad sacks who earn 60 percent or less than the median income....

I've kind of been ignoring these new Weird Al things because I don't know the underlying music anymore...

... but here's his latest, "First World Problems:



And... it's apparent your grammar's errant:



ADDED: Did you know that Coolio apologized?
When I asked people what I should ask Coolio, the most common question I got, the thing most people seem to want to know: Do you still have beef with Weird Al?

Fuck no, man, I let that go so long ago. Let me say this: I apologized to Weird Al a long time ago and I was wrong. Y’all remember that, everybody out there who reads this shit. Real men and real people should be able to admit when they’re wrong and I was wrong, bro. Come on, who the fuck am I, bro? He did parodies of Michael Jackson, he did parodies of all kinds of people and I took offense to it because I was being cocky and shit and being stupid and I was wrong and I should’ve embraced that shit and went with it. I listened to it a couple years after that and it’s actually funny as shit. It’s one of those things where I made a wrong call and nobody stopped me. That’s one thing I’m still upset about—my management at the time. Somebody should’ve stopped me from making that statement because it was dumb. And I think it hurt me a little bit. It made me seem stupid.
In case you missed it, all those many years ago, here's Weird Al's "Amish Paradise," and here's Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise."