May 29, 2015

"Cops Arrest Subway Riders For 'Manspreading.'"

The Gothamist reports.

"What is too much? Should you be allowed to drive after a hit of pot? Or three?"

"Is a hit the equivalent of a glass of wine or half a bottle of vodka? What about when a bit of pot is combined with a beer or two? How does a police officer judge the sobriety of a person who is high? Right now, people mostly just guess... It is a strange country that is filled with people who object to life-saving vaccines, insist on labelling G.M.O.s, protest the use of pesticides that, when used correctly, have not been shown to cause harm, and yet seem ready to smoke whatever a dealer hands them to put in their pipes."

From a (subscription-only) New Yorker piece titled "What Are We Smoking?"

Word definition of the day. (I give the definition. See if you know the word without looking it up.)

"Originally and properly, according to ancient writers, The setting down of the foot or lowering of the hand in beating time, and hence (as marked by this) the stress or ictus; the stressed syllable of a foot in a verse; a stressed note in music."

That's from the Oxford English Dictionary. That's the oldest meaning of a pretty common word. 

"This is just fun for me. This is not a job. I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I love driving and because I’m a sociable person."

Says the man officially recognized as the best Uber driver in Canada.
"I only Uber when I’m upbeat, positive, feeling good, when the car’s clean, I want to go be sociable and get to know my own city a little bit more," he said. "The key is that if this ever feels like a job, I’m done. I’m out... Driving has always come very naturally to me. It’s a passion,” he said. He was raised in rural Saskatchewan, where “your driver’s licence is your ticket to freedom. “This allows me to enjoy it even more, be social, meet new people, tour my own city and have some fun,” he said.
He was awarded Uber's Sixth Star medal, which he'll display in the car but not call attention to because "That would be un-Canadian."

He has 5 tips for Uber drivers: "1. A clean car... 2. Smooth driving... 3. Amenities... cold water, Perrier, mints, gum and cellphone chargers...  free Wi-Fi... 4. Music... 'chill house music'... 5. Clean personal appearance... shirt with a collar, blue jeans, driving shoes...."

Note: This man also has a regular job.

"The couples laughed, and the clown did, too, but he didn’t really think it was funny."

"The whole scary-clown thing had gotten out of hand. Clowns now live in a world where everyone seems to hate them, or profess to do so. One of the remarks the clown hears most often, while driving, is someone in another car yelling — the words are always the same — 'Fuckin’ clown!' It surprises and dismays him every time."

From "Fears of a Clown."

"Using masculinities theory, the article examines last year’s hullabaloo about openly gay football player Michael Sam and his prospects for playing in the National Football League."

"I first explain masculinities theory, focusing on how masculinity is constructed and maintained. I then explore how masculinities theory applies in sport generally and in football in particular. The article visits the football locker room — a distinct enclave of masculinity — and shows how masculinities theory explains the locker room 'bonding.' Once we lay bare the implications of cultural assumptions about masculinity and about physically aggressive sports like football, we can more easily explain why an openly gay football player is a rarity. Knowing that even one openly gay player exists threatens to decimate the cultural icons we use our athletes to create."

An abstract for a law review article.

"Gokul doesn't need your pathetic clues. You're a loser and he's Gokul."

"Why would he need your help? He just spelled the word, because he knew it and he knew that he knew it and he wanted you to know that he knew that he knew it. This is pulling up from halfcourt in a tie game and drilling a game-winner. This is swinging on a 3-0 count and hitting a walk-off homer. This is starting to high-step on the 50-yard-line of your game-winning TD...."

From "The Spelling Bee was the best sporting event of 2015."

"If you had to do this over, would you end his life again?"/"I would have done a better job of making sure I ended my own."

Said "The millionaire mom who poisoned her autistic son and called it a mercy killing," who was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced, yesterday, to 18 years in prison.
The sentencing brought to a close a tangled and troubling trial that seemed to raise as many questions as it answered: Was Jude really being sexually abused, or did Jordan just believe he was? And if Jordan’s allegations of abuse weren’t real, was her child’s killing an outcome of delusion or a calculated murder?...

“I need to be dead. I need a lot of drugs to die peacefully. That’s all,” Jordan said at trial, reading what she said was a written dialogue between 8-year-old Jude and herself. Later, she said he wrote, “We are going to die anyway. Let’s do it ourselves.”

"Women in every age group in the United States were more likely than men to have serious mental health problems..."

"... according to federal health statistics released Thursday."

"The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton."

"But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful."

Said Doug White, head the master’s program in fund-raising management at Columbia University, commenting on the way the Happy Hearts Fund operates and got Bill Clinton to appear at a posh gala. Petra Nemcova's charity spent $363,413 on the affair:
She booked Cipriani 42nd Street, which greeted guests with Bellini cocktails on silver trays. She flew in Sheryl Crow with her band and crew for a 20-minute set. She special-ordered heart-shaped floral centerpieces, heart-shaped chocolate parfaits, heart-shaped tiramisù and, because orange is the charity’s color, an orange carpet rather than a red one. She imported a Swiss auctioneer and handed out orange rulers to serve as auction paddles, playfully threatening to use hers to spank the highest bidder for an Ibiza vacation.
And Bill Clinton, who had previously declined invitations to accept an award from Happy Hearts, responded to a donation of $500,000 to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Both Happy Hearts and the Clinton Foundation have the stated goal of helping Haiti. As the HH spokesperson put it: "We believe that we can create the most impactful change by working together."

29-year-old banker jumps from 24th floor of luxury apartment building, landing near a bus full of tourists who take snapshots of the grisly remains.

The body "landed on a guardrail near the northbound Battery Park Underpass, narrowly missing a black SUV." "The head hit the railing . . . Half his head is on one side of the railing, half on the other."

You know, don't kill yourself. But, if you do, don't transform the body you're throwing away into a deadly projectile or a tourist attraction.

"Average US Reading Level by Grade: Country 3.3, pop 2.9, rock ‘n’ roll 2.9, R&B/hip-hop 2.6."

Dubious song lyric science. It irks me when that "reading level" nonsense is equated with intelligence. And having country come out on top and "R&B/hip-hop" on the bottom just seems racist.
Well, Country is the only genre generally devoid of words like “oh” or “yeah” repeated 20 times in a row. Sorry everyone else, but if you say it in the song, it’s counted as a “lyric.”

But it’s also about the syllables. Country music is full of words like Hallelujah, cigarettes, hillbilly, and tacklebox. Add to that long place names like Cincinnati, Louisville, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and Country has a serious advantage over the competition....

In 2007, Rock and R&B/Hip-Hop both plunged with the help of songs like “Buy U a Drank” by T-Pain (which just made it above a 1st grade reading level) and “I Don’t Wanna Stop” by Ozzy Osbourne (a more respectable 1.6 average grade level).

ADDED: Pride in long sentences is idiotic. From Paul Johnson's "Intellectuals":
But Hemingway had had the advantage of an excellent training on the Kansas City Star. Its successive editors had compiled a house-style book of 110 rules designed to force reporters to use plain, simple, direct and cliché-free English, and these rules were strictly enforced. Hemingway later called them ‘the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing.'...

On this journalistic basis, Hemingway built his own method, which was both theory and practice.... He once defined the art of fiction... as ‘find what gave you the emotion; what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so that the reader can see it too.’ All had to be done with brevity, economy, simplicity, strong verbs, short sentences, nothing superfluous or for effect. ‘Prose is architecture,’ he wrote, ‘not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.

"It’s really saying something that he took care of this cheese for 20 years."

"The blink-or-you’ll-miss-it nature of the 20-year cheddar helps create an event around cheese... 'What I like most about these kinds of things is it’s a small-run limited edition and that shows the nature of cheese.... It doesn’t matter how much you like a 20-year cheese because you know what? You get it now or you don’t get it.'"

May 28, 2015

Eugene Volokh thinks the Madison, Wisconsin school board is violating the First Amendment...

... with its new rule against "clothing with words, pictures or caricatures based on negative stereotypes of a specific gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or disability" and against "shirts, hats or other attire with Native American team names, logos or mascots that depict negative stereotypes."

What Bernie Sanders wrote about rape fantasies in an alternative newspaper in 1972.

This is the feeblest controversy of all time, but it's worth noting that some people think it's worth noting and it probably needs to be said that if a GOP candidate had ever written anything like this, it would be considered significant:

I've read the whole thing, and it's mostly a call to all humanity to avoid "slavishness" and "pigness." Don't be oppressed and don't be the oppressor.
Many women seem to be walking a tightrope now. Their qualities of love, openness, and gentleness were too deeply enmeshed with qualities of dependency, subservience, and masochism.
There's a little blaming of the victim there, but it's an insight that was common in the feminism of the time. And he's endearingly sincere about bringing men and women together:
How do you love — without being dependent? How do you be gentle — without being subservient? How do you maintain a relationship without giving up your identity and without getting strung out? How do you reach out and give your heart to your lover, but maintain the soul which is you?

And Men. Men are in pain too. They are thinking, wondering. What is it they want from a woman? Are they at fault? Are they perpetrating this man-woman situation? Are they oppressors?
ADDED: I see hypocrisy at the Washington Examiner. On the one hand, there's "Bernie Sanders: Woman 'fantasizes being raped'":
Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders once penned an essay claiming that men fantasize about abusing women and women fantasize about being raped. Not exactly what you'd expect from the far left candidate whose campaign runs on the idea of equality for all Americans....
And on the other hand, there's "Scott Walker attacked over abortion quote that he didn't actually say":
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker believes forced ultrasounds are "just a cool thing for women," a handful of online news sites reported Wednesday. Problem is: That's not exactly what the Republican governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate said.
By the way, what Scott Walker did with his official power 2 years ago is a hell of lot more important than what Bernie Sanders said as a private citizen 43 years ago.

The "Walk in the Woods" trailer.

This just came out today:

I'm excited about it — even though I almost never go to the movies — because I love the book and because I love the actress who plays Mary Ellen (a secondary character in the book, a hilariously annoying woman). The actress is Kristen Schaal. I know her from "Flight of the Conchords" — she was the band's only fan — but you may know her as Hazel Wassername from "30 Rock."

"There are five leaders — or no leaders — as Republican voters look at likely GOP candidates in the 2016 White House race..."

"... with no candidate above 10 percent and 20 percent undecided, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today."

Watch it with me: George Pataki announces his bid for the GOP nomination.

1. Blowy curtains looking out from a high level onto New York City = vague reminder of 9/11. George Pataki was governor of New York when the attacks occurred. The camera advances and the the white curtains — ghosts of the past — move out of view and we look on the city ≈ we recovered from 9/11, with the help of George Petaki.

2. We see the dramatically shadowed face of Pataki, talking about "our uncertain future." He's wearing a zip-up windbreaker, an open-collared plaid shirt, and a grim expression. Blurred in the background is a painting of a sunrise... or sunset... which? I don't know. The future is uncertain.

3. "We are founded on a miracle — a heroic past." He's back to the past, much further in the past than 9/11, and he's back to the window. It's evening... or is it dawn? I don't know. The future is uncertain. He's putting on a tie. Going to work? For us? The view is out over the city again. NYC, I assume. He's got a nice apartment. Makes me wonder what he's been up to since he stopped being governor 9 years ago. (Wikipedia says he's a lawyer at Chadbourne & Parke, concentrating on renewable energy.)

4. Speaking of "courage," the "God-given liberty of the human spirit," and "inventors, visionaries, and heroes," he's tying his shoes. It's a closeup. Could just be stock footage. I don't want to mislead you. Anyway, you know inventors, visionaries, and heroes do put their shoes on in the morning... or when they're going out for the evening. Whichever. Now, Pataki is putting on a tie — a blue tie — and some lady is helping him. Not to the point of tying it for him. Petaki is a man who ties his shoes and his tie. We see his nice apartment again. He's used his God-given liberty well, I presume.

5. Now, we see rain on a windshield of a car and Pataki intones about Washington — "too big," "too intrusive." That's "exactly what the Founding Fathers feared." There's a close-up of Pataki's face as he says with some emphasis that it's time to protect our freedom and "take back this government." He tells us he was a Republican governor in a "deep blue state" for 3 terms. (That one-ups Scott Walker, who's only completed one term as governor, in a not-all-that-blue state.)

6. But he started small. He was the mayor of Peekskill. We see him walking on a stone jetty. 1:27: DOGS!!! 2 Labradors. Black and chocolate. He's scratching the ears of the chocolate. The dog kisses him. He cares about people. We see nice, smiling people. This is the I'm-a-normal-person part of the video. Cares about people like you. He tells people in a bar that they're what we need to make this country work. They give him enthusiastic applause... right after he says "And lunch is on me."

7. Views of the rebuilt World Trade Center site. "When we stand together, we can accomplish anything." That's what he saw after 9/11, when we understood that "We are all Americans." We see more high views of the city and this time we see the Freedom Tower (from Tower 4, which overlooks it). The words "We the People" appear on the screen, and he uses "We the People..." 3 times. The phrase "stand together" reappears. Text on screen asserts that Pataki led New York after the 9/11 attacks. (I note for the first time that the word "attack" is embedded in his name.) "What unites us is so much more important than what might seem superficially to divide us." Most politicians would say "What unites us is much more important than what divides us." I feel there's some insight to be gained from the "so" — it's a tad emotive — and, especially, the "might seem superficially" — which suggests education, precision, and lawyerliness and functions to deny that we are divided in any significant way at all.

8. Now some quick images flash: the original flag, the Founding Fathers, Lincoln with Union soldiers, Confederate soldiers, the men raising the flag at Iwo Jima, an astronaut with the flag on the moon, the Twin Towers "Tribute of Light," a big flag. The voice over is: "We have to fall in love with America again." Text on screen: "United We Stand." Then: "What will We the People stand for?" Then: "Pataki for President."

9. One more look at the Freedom Tower, seen from Tower 4, with Pataki speaking about "reclaiming the skyline" and "coming back stronger and better."

10. So: A good introductory video. You want a governor? I am that governor. Look what I've been through. Look where I was. He's been out of the public eye for an awfully long time, and he seems rather dull. But as long as we're looking through the whole deck, he belongs in the group.  

"I want to play in the NBA. Or be a mortician."

"Why a mortician?"

"I liked the way that my uncle was dressed at his funeral. And if I’m a mortician when someone in my family passes away, then I can take care of their body. Also my science teacher went on the internet for me and found out that morticians make $54,000 a year."

"There is no way that she did not know what was going on, that women were being abused and accosted by her husband."

"She knew what was happening and just to ignore it. It was a political relationship and suited them both. The Clintons don't care what they do, who they run over to get to the top. It is all about political status."

Said Paula Jones, who was run over so long ago that many young voters have never heard of her.

"Did this have something to do with Monica Lewinsky?" a student asked last month when we read Clinton v. Jones. I wondered whether the Supreme Court's statement of the facts in that case came as a strange surprise to the young people in the class:
Those allegations principally describe events that are said to have occurred on the afternoon of May 8, 1991, during an official conference held at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Governor delivered a speech at the conference; respondent--working as a state employee--staffed the registration desk. She alleges that Ferguson persuaded her to leave her desk and to visit the Governor in a business suite at the hotel, where he made "abhorrent" sexual advances that she vehemently rejected. She further claims that her superiors at work subsequently dealt with her in a hostile and rude manner, and changed her duties to punish her for rejecting those advances. Finally, she alleges that after petitioner was elected President, Ferguson defamed her by making a statement to a reporter that implied she had accepted petitioner's alleged overtures, and that various persons authorized to speak for the President publicly branded her a liar by denying that the incident had occurred.