August 26, 2013
Once More, With Feeling
For a long time, the Editorial Staff have been mystified by the pronouncements of the Obamessiah. Statements that clearly make absolutely no sense, are patently false, or are so grandiose that they make megalomaniacs sound positively modest and unassuming by comparison are somehow transmogrified by the press into Inspiring Oratory Delivered by a Brilliant Person Whose Thought Processes Are So Complex That Ordinary People Can't Follow Them.
When life confuses us, we often turn to the NFL for enlightenment. Apparently, if you speak from the heart, your words don't have to make literal sense. And if you have a Really Big Ring, that doesn't hurt, either:
“I love Ray, and I love how he always spoke from the heart, but if you listened to those speeches, a lot of them didn’t even make sense. He meant everything he was saying, but I didn’t know what he was talking about 90 percent of the time.”
Read through that. It literally makes no sense on any level. The whole thing jumps from point to point. At the beginning, he’s talking about the value of teamwork, I think. Then he discusses the coming armageddon, which segues nicely into taking advantage of life’s opportunities, followed by advice on how to legacy-build through effort. After a brief diversion into the limits of film study, he advises the players to be chameleons and then throws in a mild profanity to get their attention, before rousing them up until hysterics.
At no point does Lewis come close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. But did you hear that cheering at the end? The non sequiturs didn’t matter a bit. It was about the passion and the delivery...
If your Inbox ever begins to feel like a lonely place, we highly recommend creating a Google News Alert for "Obama + top priority". We are not quite sure how all of the 7-9 things that plop into our Inbox each day can all be top priorities, but we feel oddly comforted to know that the leader of the free world has time to weigh in (when he's not healing the planet or pondering the uncanny resemblance between imaginary offspring and a young black man from Florida) on such important topics as reducing law school from three years to two, or the stinging injustice of breed specific legislation.
We're not sure what it takes to get on the President's radar screen. Multiple race-based attacks on completely innocent white citizens by blacks spun up by needlessly inflammatory comments about the Trayvon Martin verdict? Not on the Presidential radar. Obama has more important things to think about, like declaring war on the unsurprising consequences of his own policies:
President Obama recently concluded a five-year campus speaking tour in which he explained to students how his financing programs were making college more affordable. Then on Thursday he kicked off a new campus speaking tour to tell students that college is unaffordable, and that the financing program he has championed faces increasing defaults.
"We've got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt," said Mr. Obama, without a trace of irony at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The same man who three years ago forced through a plan to add $1 trillion in student loans to the federal balance sheet over a decade said on Thursday, "Our economy can't afford the trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt, much of which may not get repaid because students don't have the capacity to pay it."
Naturally, the President blamed somebody else and demanded more authority over higher education..
We are beginning to suspect that the President's top priority may be creating problems so he can turn around and claim that the problems he just finished creating now demand immediate government intervention before they kill us all. If this confuses and frightens you, don't think about it too much.
Just focus on the passion and delivery.
August 22, 2013
Isn't That Just Like A Woman?
Betraying her country, I mean? You know the type: can't keep a secret to save her own life. Yakity yak yak, 24/7/365:
As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).
Chelsea E. Manning
Somehow, we just *knew* a woman was to blame. We feel sad, though, at the timing. Had Chelsea come along just a tad bit later, she could have had a glorious career in the combat arms.
Though we seemed dead, we did but sleep:
advantage is a better soldier than rashness.
...now we speak upon our cue, and our voice
Manishevitz. The Blog Princess really needs to stop daydreaming. Sorry for the dearth of potent postables. Having been sucked into the proverbial Vortex of Crap, she fervently hopes to return to the fray anon (whatever the heck that meaneth). Meanwhile, some random linkage:
Sobering thoughts on the tension between openness and effectiveness:
Transparency is very nearly the opposite of privacy. In the current controversy, it is a demand that the government make public matters it conducts in private and wants to keep private.
The argument for disclosure goes like this: If the government is acting in the name of the people, the people need to know what their government is doing. How else can they judge these activities? Democratic government means accountability to the public, and accountability requires disclosure. History testifies to the link between secrecy and the abuse of public power. Without disclosure, the people will find it difficult to restrain government's excesses—most importantly, secret activities that could endanger our liberties.
Government transparency has a distinguished history. In 1795, Immanuel Kant propounded what is often called the principle of publicity: Roughly, if you cannot reveal the principle that guides your policy without undermining that policy, then the policy itself is fatally flawed from a moral point of view.
Little more than a century later, in his famous "Fourteen Points" speech about U.S. war aims and the principles that would guide the peace, President Woodrow Wilson called for "Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view."
The problem here is obvious: Policy makers often face a choice between private diplomacy and no diplomacy. Secretary of State John Kerry clearly thought that the precise content of his shuttle diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinian Authority had to be kept from public view if there was to be any chance of restarting peace talks. A measure of secrecy is a necessary (if not sufficient) condition of success.
This maxim applies broadly. No one thinks that nations at war have a responsibility to make their military strategy public. If the Allies had not succeeded in confusing the Germans, the Normandy landing might have failed.
The same consideration of secrecy applies to the acquisition of intelligence. Government officials believe that revealing the details, or even the existence, of secret surveillance programs would help our adversaries elude their reach. They also believe that briefing more than a handful of elected representatives would lead inevitably to public disclosure. Those who do receive briefings are sworn not to reveal their substance, even in congressional debate.
Effectiveness and accountability collide—a tension that can be managed more or less well but never entirely abolished.
Openness is not an unalloyed good. Wikileaks is open. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are likewise all about the openness. Because they care so much. They give, and they give, and they give. Our media is fond of openness when disclosure serves the narrative. And thankfully, sometimes even when it does not:
One of the Oklahoma teenagers accused of killing 23-year-old Australian baseball player Christopher Lane had previously posted images online showing himself posing with guns and wads of cash.
And three days before what police call the indiscriminate shooting, the suspect, 15-year-old James Edwards Jr., tweeted, "With my n****s when it's time to start taken life's."
Back in April, he tweeted, "90% of white ppl (people) are nasty. #HATE THEM."
...Now, some Americans are asking why this killing, in which the victim was white and the alleged killers black, has not brought reaction from the president.
How much information can the public be trusted with? It's a thorny question if you're a lonely, self appointed gatekeeper on the information superhighway.
August 20, 2013
Hollywood Makes A True Story More "Interesting"
Shockingly, "The Butler" finds the authentic story of a black butler needs a bit of embellishment.
Well, OK. A lot of embellishment:
Born in 1919, Eugene Allen grew up in segregated Virginia, and slowly worked his way up the butler profession, largely without incident. Unlike the fictional Cecil Gaines, he did not watch the boss rape his mother on a Georgia farm, only to shoot a bullet through his father’s head as he starts to protest the incident, leading Cecil years later to escape his past for a better future.
Instead, over a period of years, Allen rose from a “pantry man” to the highest position in White House service, Maître d’hôtel. His life was marked by quiet distinction and personal happiness. He was married to the same woman, Helene, for 65 years. He had one son, Charles, who served in Vietnam. During the Reagan years, Nancy Reagan invited Allen and his wife to a state dinner as guests. When he retired shortly afterwards, “President Reagan wrote him a sweet note. Nancy Reagan hugged him, tight,” according to the story in the Washington Post. During service, he never said a word of criticism about any president. Nor was his resignation an act of political protest.
The fictional Cecil, however, does not come to the White House under Truman, but arrives in 1957, just in time for one of the defining events of the civil rights movement—namely, President Eisenhower’s reluctant but firm decision to move federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, after Orval Faubus quite literally barred the school room door.
In general, the movie is full of hype. Cecil’s wholly fictional older son Louis gets involved in the civil rights movement from the time of the sit-ins through the rise of the Black Panther movement, and a younger brother, who professes pride in his country pays the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. Cecil’s wife, Gloria, falls prey to alcoholism and for a time has a shabby affair with the guy next door.
Gaines’ service is marked by quiet frustration, knowing that black workers suffered a 40 percent wage deficit that lasted under the Reagan years, while being excluded from well-deserved promotions. When the weight of these injustices hit him, Cecil resigns to join his son Louis in a protest movement. When Slate’s, Aisha Harris was asked “How True is The Butler?” her candid answer was “not much.”.
After marinating in made up racial slights for the entire time it took to film this tribute to false memories, is it any wonder Oprah Winfrey became a tad bit overwrought?
It all seems sooooooooooooooooooooooo familiar. In the rear view window of history, other people's troubles have the power to injure us all over again.
This Makes Us Happy
More elephants are always a good thing:
The National Zoo is getting three new Asian elephants, boosting the size of its herd to seven and more than doubling the number of elephants it had just three months ago, officials said Tuesday.
The three female elephants will be coming from the Calgary Zoo in Canada, but not until next spring. They will further populate the National Zoo’s new elephant complex and provide a laboratory for the study of elephant life and society.
We have to admit that we have never visited an Elephant Complex before. This, however, makes us sad:
The Calgary Zoo’s male elephant, Ganesh, nicknamed Spike, is being sent to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla.
If the Editorial Staff had a male elephant - say in our back yard - we would like to name him, "Ganesh". Sadly, the Spousal Unit does not look with favor upon our pachydermal aspirations.
We can't help worrying a bit about the influx of Asian elephants. What about the African elephants? Is diversity not important to the folks at the National Zoo?
Tragic, tragic stuff.
August 19, 2013
Zero Tolerance, Zero Margin for Error
In an article about the recent stop and frisk decision, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg makes some interesting points:
As a black Brooklyn detective with nearly 20 years on the job recently told the Daily News, “Stop-and-frisk is never about race. It’s about behavior.” If an officer sees someone acting in a manner that suggests a crime is afoot, he or she has an obligation to stop and question that person. That’s Policing 101, and it’s practiced all over the country. The difference is that in New York — unlike in many other cities — police officers are required to fill out a form every time they make a stop, identifying why the stop was made and the race of the person.
Of the 24 million interactions that New York police officers have with the public each year, about 500,000 — or 2 percent — involve a stop. The average officer on patrol makes about one stop every two weeks, hardly an excessive number.
Amazingly, out of several million stops that have happened over the past decade, the advocates who brought the case could identify only 19 stops that they believe were unjustified — and the judge disagreed with them on a majority of even those handpicked cases, finding that 10 of the 19 stops were in fact justified, even though they did not lead to an arrest. By doing so, the judge acknowledged that stops that do not end in arrest are often legitimate; those scoping out a robbery, or lying in wait of a potential victim, can be stopped and deterred even if they cannot be arrested.
Nevertheless, the judge used a questionable analysis of police officers’ paperwork, which found that only 6 percent of stops were unjustified, as a basis for imposing a court-appointed monitor to oversee the NYPD’s practice of stop-question-frisk, as well as to mandate specific programmatic changes to policing, even though she has no experience in policing.
The Editorial Staff have been thinking quite a bit lately about the power of sensational anecdotes. What we fear and what we perceive as a threat depends to a very large extent upon what we know. A good example of this phenomenon is the "Stranger Danger" moral panic of several years ago, in which the largely illusory threat of complete strangers kidnapping/killing/sexually abusing our children was fanned into flames by media coverage of a few sensational (and statistically rare) stories. The irony here is that the Stranger Danger campaign taught children and parents to fear the wrong thing:
Consider these numbers: Every day in this country about 2,000 children are reported missing. That means close to 800,000 kids are reported missing every year, but only 115 kids a year are victims of what is viewed as classic stranger abductions.
The debate over stop and frisk has some similarities to the debate over the so-called epidemic of military rape. The biggest similarity is that the only reason we have numbers on either "problem" is that both the military and the police already had programs in place to monitor, punish, and prevent abuses.
What is a reasonable margin for error for any public policy? Is something that only happens 2 percent of the time (note: this is not the number of times stop and frisk is abused, but the frequency with which the tactic is used at all), shockingly high? Certainly, that 2 percent does not reflect the percentage of stop and frisks in high crime neighborhoods, because it includes police actions in lower crime parts of New York.
So what would be an acceptable "misfire" rate for stop and frisk? That's the one question I don't see anyone asking. I suspect there's no easy answer, and yet this case was decided on the basis of numbers used to suggest that too many innocent people were stopped.
I'm not at all sure the right numbers were used.
At what point does law enforcement become an intolerable intrusion upon our freedoms? I don't know the answer to that question because, unless and until we do away with law enforcement, its true costs or benefits are invisible.
One thing I am certain of is that basing public policy on a small number of sensational stories that wouldn't be news if they happened all the time isn't a terribly good way of assessing either the risks or the benefits of our laws or enforcement techniques.
August 15, 2013
Finally Our Wildest Fantasies Have Come True...
Over the years as the Blog Princess snidely pondered the never ending barrage of women (young and old) who truly, madly, deeply want their fellow Americans to see them in the altogether, she has often wondered what the world would be like if men began doing the same thing?
She has noticed of late several signs that this long awaited happenstance may be just around the corner. From Anthony Weiner's semi-nekkid Tweets to several well known sports stars sending graphic photos of their junk to all and sundry, a growing number of men appear to be discovering the dubious delights of digital oversharing.
Behold! the Dudeoir photoshoot:
Warning, 2nd photo down shows absolutely nothing that Sports Illustrated doesn't show (if one counts body paint photos, considerably less) but it's probably NSFW because let's face it: we're talking about a guy and that's totally different.
Some Dudeoir devotees are keeping their photographic exploits on the down low; sharing their intimate photos with only their significant others and a few hundred thousand of the NY Post's close friends:
Finance worker and former Marine Mark H, who asked The Post not to publish his last name for professional reasons, disrobed for dudeoir as a 2012 Valentine’s present so it would be “insurance against my wife and I ever going through a rocky patch.” The 44-year-old dad of two, from South Florida, paid $500, which included a set of prints, for the shoot at a “clothing optional” Fort Lauderdale hotel. “I wanted [my wife] to see there was more to me than the guy who is the father of her kids who runs errands and pays the bills,” says Mark. “You have to keep the juices flowing so you don’t run into a rut.” He credits his photographer, Noel de Christian, for coaching him on the most effective ways to pose. “He was very good at explaining what women want to see in these types of photos,” adds Mark. “The whole shoot was designed with her in mind — it’s not a case of ‘Hi, here is my penis!’ but a more sensual approach.”
Don't worry, Mr. H... we won't tell a soul. And we're sure no one will recognize you :p
Others are not so
prudish old fashioned:
Larger-than-life software engineer Kiran Paul was gifted the dudeoir session by co-workers at his IT company in Oakland, Calif. “Buying a present for me is hard work, but they were sure that anything that doesn’t require pants would work for me,” laughs the 27-year-old bachelor. Before the shoot, he chatted with photographer Mariah Carle about the kind of look he wanted: channeling the ultra-cheesy character Ron Burgundy, played by Will Ferrell, in “Anchorman.” “As soon as I got Mariah’s consent to disrobe, I was feeling proud and comfortable for some reason,” recalls Paul, who uses the pictures, one of which features him naked and holding an inflatable dolphin, on his business card. “I’m also using one of them on LinkedIn, which is going well,” he jokes. “I’m not getting pinged for software engineering positions as much as I used to!” Meanwhile, he is now planning on blowing up the Victorian couch picture and hanging it in his living room.
In between shaking our head and tut-tutting censoriously, we have to admit that this is pretty funny. And though we have always been a huge fan of the male form, we don't think it's an improvement. This can only be because we are prudish and want to control men. Also, for some inexplicable reason, semi-naked men make us feel insecure about our own attractiveness.
What other possible reason could a reasonable adult have for not wanting to see nearly-nekked people of either sex everywhere she goes? Too funny.
August 14, 2013
PSA: Office 365 is Possessed by Satan (and Several of His Minions)...
The Editorial Staff just thought y'all should know.
That is all.
I love the head motions.
August 13, 2013
Sorry guys - no posts today.
The Blog Princess has been in a seriously foul mood of late, and she sees no reason to spread the hate electronically. She'll get over it, given time.
August 12, 2013
First World Racism
The Editorial Staff apologize for the lack of posts. Ever since we learned of Oprah's disturbing, racially tinged encounter with a rude sales clerk in Switzerland, we've been unable to get out of bed. The crushing sense of despair has been just too upsetting to deal with. It's hard to believe this sort of thing is still happening - and in the enlightened Eurozone, no less! Aren't our European brethren and sistren supposed to be deliciously free of the foul and lingering stench of America's slaveowning past?
Apparently not, and it's not hard to discern the Tea Party's fine Italian hand at work.
What kind of world are we living in when a woman (!) at the very pinnacle of income inequality - the veritable 1 percenty-est of the 1 percent - can't walk into a store in a foreign country and purchase a $40,000 handbag?
When Oprah Winfrey goes shopping, she likely prompts intelligent retailers' eyes to bulge with anticipation the moment she walks in the door. But, it seems, only if they recognize the media mogul as the mega-rich potential client she really is.
Oprah told Entertainment Tonight this week that while in Zurich, Switzerland for Tina Turner's wedding in July, she walked into a shop and a handbag behind the counter caught her eye.
While many average shoppers might hesitate to lay hands on a bag with worth close to $40,000, Oprah says she asked to see it, but the shopkeeper said, "No. It's too expensive."
Oprah -- who made $77 million in the last year alone, according to Forbes magazine -- told ET's Nancy O'Dell she asked to see the bag at least two more times, but the shopkeeper refused to take it off the shelf and suggested other, cheaper bags instead.
"One more time, I tried. I said, 'But I really do just want to see that one,' and the shopkeeper said, 'Oh, I don't want to hurt your feelings,' and I said, 'Okay, thank you so much. You're probably right, I can't afford it.' And I walked out of the store," Oprah recounted.
Seriously, folks - what good is it, becoming a filthy capitalist
running pig-dog oppressor if you're not instantly recognized and groveled to by those pesky have-nots?
We are reminded of the time we strolled into a local BMW dealer and asked to test drive one of the cars on the lot. The Spousal Unit and Editorial Staff were nicely dressed (we even showered earlier in the month!), and yet the Sales Dude made it quite plain he didn't think we were at the right dealer.
Eventually we departed for a more economically-appropriate vendor, and a few hours later spent just a bit more than the BMW's asking price on two brand new cars.
Clearly, we should have thrown the White Card - there can be no other explanation but racism for the way we were treated. Millions of lynching victims are crying out from their unmarked graves at this traveshamockery.
August 08, 2013
Heap Big Narrative Fail
A Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter ventures forth in search of Outrage:
The recent wave of left-wing discussion panels calling for the Redskins to change their name seems to have died off, but not everyone has given up hope. Paul Woody of the Richmond Times-Dispatch identifies himself as someone who would like to see it change. To bolster his case, he went and spoke to leaders from three different Virginia tribes of Native Americans...“It doesn’t bother me,” said Robert Green, 66 and chief of the Patawomeck Tribe in Virginia. “About 98 percent of my tribe is Redskins fans, and it doesn’t offend them, either..."
Kevin Brown, 58 and chief of the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia, said, “I’m a Redskins fan, and I don’t think there’s any intention for (the nickname) to be derogatory. The majority of the people in my tribe don’t have a problem with it. There are a few who do, and we respect their feelings.
...“I like the uniforms. I like the symbol (logo).”
G. Anne Richardson, chief of Virginia’s Rappahannock Tribe, had to stifle a laugh when asked her feelings on the Redskins’ nickname.
“I don’t have an issue with it,” she said. “There are so many more issues that are important for the tribe than to waste time on what a team is called. We’re worried about real things, and I don’t consider that a real thing..”
Woody should have known, and he could have just gone back a few years to find the survey of Native Americans done by the Annenberg Public Policy Center in 2003 and 2004. From a sample of 768 American Indians, they found that 90 percent don’t mind the Redskins, and only 9 percent do.
Is there anything more heart wrenching than the sight of Oppressed Indigenous First Worlders who have more important things to worry about than the subtly coded racism of affluent Caucasians? Don't they know how authentic Native Americans are supposed to feel? The answer, we're certain, is education.
The White Man has stolen everything from them. Even the ability to detect obvious put downs:
A sports team is a celebration of masculine warrior culture. They aren’t going to name themselves “the wimps” or “the jerks.” They all pick (or at least try to pick) cool nicknames for themselves that demonstrate toughness (“Bears,” “Vikings,” “Cowboys”) or evince an appreciation for local or American history (“Ravens,” “Packers,” “49ers”). As it happens, “Redskins” achieves both.
We are thinking that Runs With A Penis would not be pleased.
Via Bad Blue.
August 07, 2013
Mahvelous! err.. Incredibly Hot err... Equi-Capable!!!
We're referring to Martian Explorer Barbie, but then you knew that didn't you? Who says a gal can't stride across the
Red Pink Planet like a Colossus without forfeiting either her heroine chic waifishness or her fresh off the runway 'tude?
The "Mars Explorer Barbie" -- part of the "I Can Be" line of the dolls -- comes complete not simply with a sassy pink-and-white spacesuit, but also with a helmet (pink) and a "space pack" accessory (also pink). The doll's packaging features a glittery Martian landscape with the Curiosity rover (also pink) in the foreground and the Earth in the distance. (The Earth is one of the few items included that is not pink.)
Mars Explorer Barbie is remarkable for several reasons. One of them is that Mars Explorer Barbie's spaceboots, which protect feet that are permanently elevated to accommodate heels, are approximately half the length of a human-ratioed boot.
.... But Mars Explorer Barbie, her packaging assures us, will persevere through whatever adversity she encounters, be it radiation poisoning or helmet-hair. Because "Explorer" is, of course, her middle name.
We can hardly wait for Special Forces Barbie. She comes fully equipped with a to die for, bedazzled pink 50 cal sniper rifle and fetchingly tailored pink-and-purple cammies pulled snug in all the right places. IFKWIMAITYD. Of course, she's neither as strong nor as fit as the average male candidate, but we're assured those old physical fitness standards (you know, the ones that weren't going to be lowered just so women could pass basic training) are - like outmoded gender stereotyping - no longer relevant:
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in January that if a standard keeps women out of a combat job, the military branch had better have a good argument for keeping it.
“If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, ‘Why is it that high?’” Gen. Dempsey said. “Does it really have to be that high? With the direct combat exclusion provision in place, we never had to have that conversation.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, won passage of language in the pending defense budget bill that says any standard lowered for women also must be lowered for men. The logic behind the measure is that the military does not want less-capable men staffing combat units.
Just wait until these folks hear about the zebra striped fuschia and white howitzers. They're going to be furious.
A Woman's Prerogative
Oh yes, the Editorial Staff went there:
He thought he was a woman trapped in a man’s body — but it turns out he’s “just another boring straight guy.”
ABC News editor Don Ennis strolled into the newsroom in May wearing a little black dress and an auburn wig and announced he was transgender and splitting from his wife. He wanted to be called Dawn.
But now he says he suffered from a two-day bout of amnesia that has made him realize he wants to live his life again as Don.
Naturlich, one of the very first things he did upon realizing that he was, after all, a man trapped in a man's body was blame his wife... and those lousy doctors who "misdiagnosed" him:
“I accused my wife of playing some kind of cruel joke, dressing me up in a wig and bra and making fake ID’s with the name ‘Dawn’ on it. Seriously,” Ennis wrote in a memo he posted to the newsroom bulletin board Friday, explaining his shock after he woke up from what he called a “transient global amnesia” last month.
...“I have retained the much different mind-set I had in 1999: I am now totally, completely, unabashedly male in my mind, despite my physical attributes,” he said.
“I’m asking all of you who accepted me as a transgender to now understand: I was misdiagnosed.
“I am already using the men’s room and dressing accordingly,” he noted.
Well *that's* a relief!
No matter what your genda agenda, this story is the comedy gift that just keeps on giving.
There, But for the Grace of God
Richard Cohen offers a beautifully written piece on humility:
I had always known precisely how I would react if she cheated on me. The relationship would end, swiftly, coldly, even sneeringly. My goodbye lines would be scathing, worthy of someone intending to make his living with words. But when she cried, when she begged, when she — let’s be honest here — looked so damned good, I wanted only to remain with this woman. Her betrayal was in the past. A whole future lay ahead. It could be wonderful. It turned out I valued Linda more than I was appalled by her infidelity.
This was a lesson to me. I did not behave as I had expected, and I do not — I cannot — ask anything more from others. I cannot gauge their love and I do not know their needs and I do not know what they value most. In the end, it was not Linda’s folk songs that taught me a lesson or her mushy philosophy or her cloying search for beauty, but her infidelity. I have the wisdom of the uncertain.
August 05, 2013
...is justice denied. Or so we've been told:
Twenty-five years after accusing an innocent man of rape, Tawana Brawley is finally paying for her lies.
Last week, 10 checks totaling $3,764.61 were delivered to ex-prosecutor Steven Pagones — the first payments Brawley has made since a court determined in 1998 that she defamed him with her vicious hoax.
A Virginia court this year ordered the money garnisheed from six months of Brawley’s wages as a nurse there.
She still owes Pagones $431,000 in damages. And she remains defiantly unapologetic.
“It’s a long time coming,” said Pagones, 52, who to this day is more interested in extracting a confession from Brawley than cash.
“Every week, she’ll think of me,” he told The Post. “And every week, she can think about how she has a way out — she can simply tell the truth.”
Brawley’s advisers in the infamous race-baiting case — the Rev. Al Sharpton, and attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox — have already paid, or are paying, their defamation debt. But Brawley, 41, had eluded punishment.
She’s now forced to pay Pagones $627 each month, possibly for the rest of her life. Under Virginia law, she can appeal the wage garnishment every six months.
Good on Pagones for keeping after her.
The Demand for Sons
As a firstborn girl, the Editorial Staff couldn't help finding this interesting:
Do parents have preferences over the gender of their children, and if so, does this have negative consequences for daughters versus sons? In this paper, we show that child gender affects the marital status, family structure, and fertility of a signiﬁcant number of American families. Overall, a ﬁrst-born daughter is signiﬁcantly less likely to be living with her father compared to a ﬁrst-born son. Three factors are important in explaining this gap. First, women with ﬁrst-born daughters are less likely to marry. Strikingly, we also ﬁnd evidence that the gender of a child in utero affects shotgun marriages. Among women who have taken an ultrasound test during pregnancy, mothers who have a girl are less likely to be married at delivery than those who have a boy. Second, parents who have ﬁrst-born girls are signiﬁcantly more likely to be divorced. Third, after a divorce, fathers are much more likely to obtain custody of sons compared to daughters. These three factors have serious negative income and educational consequences for affected children. What explains these ﬁndings? In the last part of the paper, we turn to the relationship between child gender and fertility to help sort out parental gender bias from competing explanations for our ﬁndings. We show that the number of children is signiﬁcantly higher in families with a ﬁrst-born girl. Our estimates indicate that ﬁrst-born daughters caused approximately 5500 more births per year, for a total of 220,000 more births over the past 40 years. Taken individually, each piece of empirical evidence is not sufﬁcient to establish the existence of parental gender bias. But taken together, the weight of the evidence supports the notion that parents in the U.S. favour boys over girls.
August 03, 2013
Hamsters, Hypergamy, and Hatred: Oh My!!!
A few days ago, the indefatigable mr rdr sent us one of the most bizarre movie reviews we've ever read (and that's saying something):
Welcome to the Season of Impotent Swagger.
Even by Hollywood’s standards, the summer movie season has been notable for boys blowing up their toys: No sooner did Robert Downey Jr. almost destroy L.A. to save it in “Iron Man 3” than an onslaught of wanton destruction was loosed on the world, from such interstellar fantasies as “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Man of Steel” to the “real world” mayhem of “White House Down” and “Fast & Furious 6.” On Friday, Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington lay waste to greater Texas in “2 Guns,” an exercise in ritualized male aggression in which guns, cars and other things that go “boom” and “vroom” aren’t celebrated as much as fetishistically worshipped.
It’s all in escapist good fun, of course. But, watching Stig Stigman (Wahlberg) and Bobby Trench (Washington) banter and backslap their way through “2 Guns,” audiences may detect a whiff of anxiety beneath the bluster. Maybe it’s director Baltasar Kormakur’s habit of having his characters aim guns at each other’s crotches or the increasingly frenetic (and laughable) escalation in firepower. But as the body count adds up in “2 Guns,” the inescapable impression is that the movie’s pseudo-casual cool isn’t entertainment as much as a cry for help.
It’s the same feeling that Anthony Weiner inspired this week as he tried to brazen his way through calls to exit the New York City mayoral race, with his compulsive exhibitionism outpaced only by his pathological ambition. Weiner’s breathtaking braggadocio called to mind other instances of political posturing this summer, whether it was Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) describing the children of undocumented immigrants as probable drug mules “with calves the size of cantaloupes,” or Congress spending this week avoiding substantive work, instead casting meaningless votes to score political points.
Washington and Hollywood have always enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, with politicians looking westward for borrowed glamour and contributions, and the movie industry coming here for reflected gravitas and policy bona fides. But these days, the two cities share something else. Both are fear-based cultures whose once-invincible leaders are facing radical changes and imminent extinction.
And they’re coping with those threats, to use Gloria Steinem’s famous phrase, with massive cases of self-induced testosterone poisoning.
The Editorial Staff found ourselves wondering over the weekend: what on earth did this woman mean to accomplish by writing a movie review that literally drips with venom and contempt for men (or just masculine force and aggression)?
Did she wish to point out to people who don't already agree with her, just how 'harmful' all this testosterone is to the Multiverse? If so, the way she went about it seems unlikely to accomplish that goal. The Editorial Staff are unrepentantly female, and we found her insult-laden diatribe so disturbing that it had the opposite effect: it made us actually look for reasons to defend what the author so desperately wishes to tear down.
Or perhaps her contemptuous rhetoric is designed to rally the troops who already believe that men are primitive, stupid, and violent creatures who create mayhem and destruction wherever they go? If so, the author probably had more success. Gaining the agreement of people who need no convincing isn't exactly difficult.
We couldn't help seeing the parallels to modern political discourse.
Political debate seems to be divided between those whose aim is to fire up the like minded (usually by demonizing anyone who disagrees with them) and those who want to win converts and shift public consensus in their favor. All of which reminded us of this excellent piece on the MRA movement:
NEVER MIND the “war on women:” According to growing numbers of bloggers, activists, and authors — some of them women — it’s males in modern Western society who are under siege and whose rights need defending. Is this the next frontier for gender justice, or a woman-hating backlash? Men’s advocacy raises important and worthy issues that often draw unfair ridicule. Unfortunately, it is also prone to toxic rhetoric that subverts its valid points and alienates potential supporters.
To many, the very notion of “men’s issues” or men’s rights seems laughable. But consider: If women were dying in 90 percent of workplace fatalities and three out of four suicides, would we not see such numbers as troubling—and as legitimate women’s issues? Yet, reversed, the disparities go unnoticed.
Unlike racial profiling of minorities, the disproportionate targeting of males by law enforcement gets no attention (women account for more than a third of illegal drug use but fewer than 15 percent of arrests). And, while men are often presumed dangerous to children, actual female molesters tend to get lenient treatment.
Attempts to restrict abortion are decried as patriarchal control over female reproduction, yet there is virtually no recognition of ways in which current policies treat paternity as a public resource. Men coerced into unwilling fatherhood (through deception about birth control or even, however rarely, such extreme methods as use of stored semen from a condom) must still pay child support. Even those tricked into supporting children they didn’t father find little recourse. On the flip side, divorced fathers often feel they are treated more as wallets than as parents.
Even when imbalances that disadvantage men or boys — such as male academic underachievement — become the subject of concern, such concerns are often viewed with suspicion as potential attacks on women.
Men’s advocacy raises important issues that often draw unfair ridicule.
Many feminists (of both sexes) claim the answer to men’s issues is feminism. Male adversities, they argue, stem from patriarchal norms, which feminism opposes, including the stereotype that women are better parents or the stigma against men showing weakness. Feminist battles against sex discrimination have sometimes focused on the rights of males, from equal parental leave to benefits for husbands of female veterans.
Yet, with a few exceptions, feminists have balked at any pro-equality advocacy that would support men in male-female disputes, acknowledge that women can mistreat men, or undermine female advantage. Supporting paternity leave is one thing; supporting equal parental rights after divorce is another. While the feminist push for gender-neutral laws in the 1970s helped dismantle the formal presumption of maternal custody, actual efforts by fathers to get sole or joint custody brought on a swift backlash from the women’s movement. Likewise, when the campaign for tough domestic violence policies netted more female perpetrators, women’s groups pressed for anti-male double standards, promoting the myth that nearly all female violence is in self-defense. Meanwhile, laudable feminist efforts to secure justice for rape victims have often turned into calls for a presumption of male guilt.
You should read the whole essay - it's quite good. Ms. Young is more sympathetic to several men's rights issues than the Editorial Staff, but this seems like a good time to look at what changes to some of the laws MRA oppose should look like. Let's take them one by one:
1. Male suicide rates and workplace safety. It seems incontestable to us that if we're going to devote substantial public resources to improving the lives of women and girls, we should be just as concerned about the lives of men and boys. There's a real question as to what issues properly demand public resources and government intervention. Arguably, we have overinvested in improvements to the welfare of women and girls, but the basic fairness argument is hard to oppose.
On the other hand, we can't help wondering if men want to be protected by the Nanny state? Grim's writing over the years has convinced me that something in men needs and seeks out danger, risk, and even the strong possibility of death or injury. And it seems plausible to us that men and women may flourish in very different environments. Men may actually need danger, challenge, and risk to reach their full potential while women may actually develop better in a different environment.
Either way, the MRA movements points ought to be seriously considered as they have real merit.
2. "Disproportionate" targeting of men by law enforcement, lenient treatment of female offenders. Here, we'd want to see more data. We are suspicious of disparate impact arguments in general. Laws that are gender neutral on their face, but disparately impact one sex or the other are not sexist laws. If in fact female criminals are treated more leniently by the justice system for equivalent crimes, that's something that seems unjust. How would we go about changing existing laws to counteract biased sentencing, though? Do we need quotas? Should the law mandate rigid sentences across the board?
These are the "remedies" feminism and other identity politics movements typically propose - they use law as a blunt instrument to right perceived wrongs. The questions that keep popping up are, "What specific changes to the law would fix this problem?", and "Would these changes work as intended?"
3. Male "reproductive rights" - we've looked at this one recently. It seems obvious that men should not be forced to support children they didn't even father. This is one area where we wholeheartedly support changing present laws to prevent judges from passing the cost of unintended pregnancies onto wholly innocent men. We would also support careful studies of divorce, alimony, and custody awards. Alimony in particular seems overripe for reform. It was originally intended to prevent women who sacrificed career and earnings from being left destitute after divorce, but in a world where women have more opportunities than ever before, it's hard to justify anything more than temporary alimony.
As for custody, we've also covered that before but this is another disparate impact argument: the laws of most states are facially neutral. Though we're not unalterably opposed to sensible reforms, we're not inclined to think that unequal outcomes that spring from unequal divisions of child rearing responsibility pre-divorce are a pressing social problem that urgently demands immediate government interference.
If there is a case to be made here, it ought to be a case that balances the interests of children, women, men and society. Narrower arguments that cast the issues only in terms of fairness to men (or seek to equalize outcomes according to some arbitrary formula) leave us cold. That they resemble arguments made by radical feminists and the civil rights crowd is no accident - they are, in fact, the same arguments: "Any time outcomes don't exactly mirror our representation in the population, social injustice is presumed to have occurred."
4. Male academic underachievement. This is a serious problem that deserves our attention, but once again the causes are not clear. What strikes us most about the argument that schools must be designed around the special needs of girls (or boys) is just how rarely special pleaders for girls/boys are willing to grant what they demand to the opposite sex. But if you believe that boys can't flourish unless schools are "boy friendly", you can't very well resist the argument that girls can't flourish unless schools are "girl friendly". Such arguments tend to turn competition for scarce resources into a zero sum game where progress for one sex can only occur at the expense of the other.
Young makes several strong points in her essay. Mainstream feminism absolutely has reflexively treated the demands of the men's rights contingent as threats to female progress. If society is to prosper, both men and women must be treated fairly. What constitutes "fairness" isn't a simple question, especially given the disparate influences of biology and culture on real world outcomes for men and women. And it won't be settled on the Internet. But radical feminists lose credibility when they reflexively resist the gender equity they claim to support.
Young's other point is that the strident, angry, and contempt laden rhetoric of a vocal subset of men's rights activists really does cost them support among people of both sexes who are otherwise inclined to help. The movement is rife with name calling (Uncle Tims, White Knights, Beta/gamma/omega males) and insulting and often laughably unselfconscious stereotypes. The rationalization hamster is a particularly amusing example of the latter tactic:
Bad Decision: “I deserve only the most attractive and successful man despite the fact that I don’t have much to offer in the context of dating and relationships.”
Can’t find any man for dating or a relationship or only has one-night stands.
Hamster Processing Result:
“There are no good men” or “Men suck”
“It’s not my fault.”
A big part of the backlash against radical feminism is caused by the anger, contempt, and loathing for men. Broad brush stereotypes are distressingly common: "all men" are said to be violent, oppressive, stupid, dishonest, or [insert pejorative du jour here]. They brandish outrageous anecdotes, while rarely bringing actual data to the table to establish the prevalence (and often, even the existence) of the problems they wish society to address. Sadly, similar voices in the MRA movement have adopted the same tactics, and as with feminism the loudest and most unreasonable voices are the ones we remember.
The real tragedy here is that serious issues like the shrinking burden of proof for sexual assaults don't generate the attention they deserve. It's hard to argue with Ms. Young that we'd all be better served by a united gender equity movement that doesn't see everything as a zero sum game where women can only win if men lose.
August 02, 2013
Day Late, Dollar Short...
...still, this is hysterical:
CWCID: the Spousal Unit
The CIA is polygraphing its operatives on a regular basis in an “unprecedented” effort to prevent Benghazi secrets from leaking out, CNN’s Drew Griffin is reporting, citing unnamed inside sources.
“Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings,” the bombshell report reveals. “The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.”
More from CNN:
It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.
In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”
Another says, “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation.”
The CIA responded to CNN’s report in a statement, claiming it “enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress,” according to Jake Tapper.
It has also been revealed that as many 35 Americans were in Benghazi on the night of the deadly terror attack, CNN reports, citing anonymous inside sources. As many as seven were wounded and 21 Americans were reportedly working in the building known as the CIA annex.
It will be interesting to watch this story die a horrible death. One wonders: what's the definition of "officers"?
Friday Inflammatory Debate Topic
From the comments following a post by Ann Althouse:
I have a question, Pr. Althouse. Would you view it as wrong for a man to ask women to sign a contract stating that she would not seek child support for any children resulting from sexual relations? Would such a contract be enforceable? (Assume it is properly signed and witnessed etc.)
We stopped reading the discussion there (no time), but have a question:
On what equitable basis should the legal system allow a mother to unilaterally sign away half her child's legal right to child support? It is called "child support" and not "maternal support" for a reason. And if you think women already exercise way too much power over what the abortion crowd like to call reproductive rights, why should we give them any more?
It never ceases to amaze us how everyone discusses unintended pregnancies as though the child has no interests that might deserve protection. We see an awful lot of conservatives do that, and often they're the ones who think abortion is murder. So they clearly realize that unborn children are people, too. Unless, of course, their so-called rights inconvenience the wrong parent.
Amazing. One might almost be justified in concluding that this whole balancing competing interests thingy isn't as simple as it seems on the Internet.
Connecting the Wrong Dots
This is going to be a cranky post and it may well make some of you angry, but we've often thought that the Internet wasn't really made for p0rn. It was made for outrage and speculation.
Yesterday whilst the Editorial Staff were laboring in the hot sun that we might
single-handedly stop inequality before it destroys the planet selfishly cram our mouth with distressful bread, the Police State was ruthlessly terrorizing innocent citizens for absolutely no reason:
I was at work when it happened. My husband called me as soon as it was over, almost laughing about it but I wasn’t joining in the laughter. His call left me shaken and anxious.
What happened was this: At about 9:00 am, my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside. He looked out the window and saw three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband’s Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving.
Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house, two toward the backyard on one side, two on the other side, two toward the front door.
A million things went through my husband’s head. None of which were right. He walked outside and the men greeted him by flashing badges. He could see they all had guns holstered in their waistbands.
Michele Catalano, a onetime warblogger, published the story of an inquiry by local police into suspicious Internet searches that matched the profile of the recent Boston bombing attack.
Profiling is an interesting practice, n'est pas? Progressives think it's totally Racist and Freedom-Harshing. Unless of course we're talking about IRS profiling of right leaning 501c4 applicants, in which case it's the only thing standing between Amerikkka the beautiful and a return to the days when women were chained to tiny, heteronormative Easy Bake Ovens and blacks were only 3/5ths as tall as they are nowadays. Conservatives, on the other hand, think profiling is a practical and efficient use of scare public resources. Let's face it: if you're in a black neighborhood where 90% of the violent crime is black-on-black and the victim just described her rapist as "a young black man", it doesn't make much sense to issue a BOLO for 80 year old black ladies or elderly Hasidic Jews, does it?
On the otter heiny if a private citizen, searching a computer he owns, finds searches matching the profile of a recent terrorist attack that killed three people and injured over 260 others...
...and the searches were made by a recently discharged employee (after all, it's not as though recently discharged employees have ever been known to go, umm... postal) ...
...and the employer tips off the police...
Presumably, the police should have done what? Ignore the tip? Not contact other agencies? Treat the whole thing casually? Not take precautions just in case the tip turned out to be well grounded?
Don't they know that law enforcement and the Police State Industrial Complex have never, ever stopped a single terrorist attack before it happened? As all well informed people already know, the only attacks that have been foiled to date were prevented by ordinary citizens who alerted the authorities to looming threats unfolding right under their unsuspecting noses. Which is a bit inconvenient here, since it turns out the local police were tipped off by an ordinary citizen, and ordinary citizens can do no wrong (unlike the police, who are clearly morons).
Apparently, it was beyond ridiculous for the police to take the tip about Michele's husband - who has a completely different last name - seriously. I mean, like, duh - she's on Twitter:
You know, it would only have taken a single Google search of her name to know that Michele Catalano is no terrorist. She has nearly a million followers on Twitter, including me, in awe of her delightfully shameless sense of humor. Michele is one of the good guys, as any simpleton with an internet connection could have figured out in half a minute. But the people in charge of our security rarely rise to the level of simpleton.
The timing is clearly suspicious here. The news is full of stories about the NSA voraciously reading our Tweets; monitoring Facebook, Instagram, and presumably Pinterest (God help them); intercepting our text messages and emails and snooping through the lingerie drawers of every.single.American. Because they totally have time for that, even with the sequester furloughs. They probably have copies of every video you've uploaded to YouPorn, too. Government employees really are That Industrious and Clever. And just to connect the last dot, Radly Balko's got a new book out. As if we needed more proof.
This is a story about things going right: ordinary citizens doing precisely what Grim wants them to do - taking responsibility for their own safety and security. Police following up on tips and sharing information with other law enforcement groups when that's indicated. Intelligent, civic minded citizens who are questioned seeing the larger picture and not getting their asses on their shoulders because they've read one too many stories about puppies being shot when 6 "gentlemen" come to their door without a warrant and ask questions in a nonthreatening manner.
Bloggers sharing what they know on the Internet - yes, even that went right. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Ms. Catalano doing what she did. That's how we put the pieces together. Some stories turn out to be very different once all the facts come out, and this is one of those times.
And that's just the point, isn't it? Ms. Catalano shared what she knew. She's being roundly criticized for not knowing some things (like the fact that it wasn't the FBI or Homeland Security who came to her door, and NSA surveillance had nothing to do with it). But it's a rare case when we know all the facts about complex situations involving several people. She relayed what she knew, and it's hard to fault her for not knowing what she didn't know. The police, we are told, are clearly "simpletons" for not knowing how many Twitter followers the wife of the man they questioned has, or having read her blog. Hard to think of a more damning indictment of law enforcement incompetence than that.
It's hard to escape the obvious conclusions in all of this:
1. Because Homeland Security didn't take tipoffs about the Tsarneav brothers seriously, OBVIOUSLY local police should follow their sterling example. What could possibly go wrong?
2. Everyone hates the TSA. And they're completely ineffective, which we know because the attacks they haven't prevented/deterred never happened. Which meant we were safe all along! Therefore, it logically follows that law enforcement should just stay out of the anti-terrorism business and let ordinary people (such as, perhaps, the employer in this story who tipped off the police) handle things:
On a broader note, I’d like to add that the first successful American counterattack in the Terror War was a passenger revolt led by Todd Beamer aboard United Airlines Flight 93. The Shoe Bomber was stopped by passengers, too. Meanwhile, the TSA sticks its fists up our collective rectums on a continuing basis and has yet to stop a single terrorist. And now we have some task force idiots showing up at Michele Catalano’s door because of some Google searches the Feds somehow got a hold of.
It’s undeniably clear now that the best defense against terror is an aroused and alert citizenry, and that the surest route to dumbassery is to give the Feds the power to spy on its own people.
Watching the way a whole bunch of "ordinary citizens", armed with less than complete information, reacted to this story we can't help but agree. The Internet is full of Awesome. Because of the Internet, we know that people in uniforms (unlike other human beings) make a LOT of mistakes. Some of them are even bad people, which pretty much means that unlike ordinary citizens, the police should be disarmed before they kill us all. There's an awful lot of anecdotal evidence out there that the simple act of donning a uniform decreases the IQ by at least 250 points.
People who don't wear uniforms, on the other hand, don't ever rush to conclusions, overreact, or get things wrong. And we should trust them, totally. Even the ones who vote for Obama.
It's good that we live in a country where, when something like this happens, citizens feel free to share their concerns. It's a good thing that so many people are following the news and paying attention to stories about NSA surveillance, IRS targeting of conservative groups, and executive branch overreach. And when a story like this comes out, it is not silly for us to wonder how it fits into the larger pattern of current events.
What is silly, and wrong, is the wholesale jumping to conclusions; the swift passing of rumors and unverified speculation; and most of all the vilification of public servants who - at least from what we know now - appeared to have handled this about as well as it could have been handled. It is silly and wrong to attack the very people and policies the anti-war crowd was viciously attacking (and most conservatives were defending) during the Evil Bu$Hitler years. Most of these folks are careerists. They didn't turn evil/stupid en masse when Barack Obama was elected.
There ought to be much for conservatives to like about this story. Local, not federal law enforcement responding to a local matter; police behaving as they're supposed to; free speech and debate ensuing. Surely we can ask questions or express concern without venturing into Black Helicopter country?
Let's not go there, at least not yet. Like Camelot, 'tis a silly place.