Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hey Jude

Paul McCartney and Julian Lennon (John Lennon on the right in the background)

Jane Asher, Paul McCartney, Julian Lennon
Paul McCartney, Julian Lennon, Jane Asher
Julian Lennon and Paul McCartney during the making of "Magical Mystery Tour"

McCartney and two of his biological children
Probably the most wonderful aspect of Paul McCartney's character is his concern for children. This isn't generally commented on, because for most people being a good father-figure is not an especially interesting trait in a rock musician, for all its rarity.

Mackenzie Phillips, who had the misfortune of a bad father, has a wonderful story about McCartney:
“I must have been five or six – we were with dad in L.A. for a visit. His fellow band member, Cass Eliot (the other ‘Mama’) had a party at her house in Laurel Canyon. We walked into Cass’s house and there was Paul McCartney and George Harrison. When I saw Paul McCartney, I glommed on to him like a baby groupie. He kept saying, ‘Go on love, get up and dance.’ In a rare moment of shyness, I demurred. I was afraid people would laugh at me. He insisted. I refused. The exchange circled, a teasing game between a little kid and a world-famous musician. Finally I broke down and started dancing. The adults began to point and laugh at the little five-year-old dancing for the rock star. I turned bright red and burst into tears, but then Paul McCartney started consoling me. I was no dummy. I liked being consoled by Paul McCartney. The more he comforted, the more tears I summoned. Finally he picked me up and carried me into a hammock that was suspended in the middle of Cass’s dining room on a pulley. Someone hoisted us up, up, up. The ceilings were two stories tall and we were suspended fifteen feet in the air. I was still snuffling. Paul snuggled up with me until I finally calmed down and eventually fell asleep. The two of us napped together in that hammock, suspended high above the party. You could say I got high and slept with Paul McCartney.” 
I imagine few men in her father's world were in any way paternal. I certainly can't imagine any of the other Beatles, let alone someone like Mick Jagger, paying attention to a child in the middle of what was almost certainly a drug-filled extravaganza.

McCartney's most famous father-figure relationship (outside of his own five children) was with John Lennon's first son, Julian, who said:
 “Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit—more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad.”
And of course that relationship was the basis for one of McCartney's best songs (John Lennon called it one of his masterpieces) "Hey Jude." Elvis Costello considers it the Beatles' seventh greatest song.
"I was going out in my car, just vaguely singing this song," McCartney said, "and it was like, 'Hey, Jules. . . .' And then I just thought a better name was Jude. A bit more country & western for me." The opening lines were "a hopeful message for Julian: 'Come on, man, your parents got divorced. I know you're not happy, but you'll be OK.'"


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Emily Yoffe is crying all the way to the bank

Emily Yoffe's response to the responses to her blame-the-victim piece in Salon is no surprise - she feels she was attacked by ignoramuses and the politically correct. Then she ends with this:
Talking about things women can do to protect themselves from rape is the third rail, they said. But why be a journalist unless you’re willing to dig into difficult subjects and report your findings? My story churned up a lot of outrage, but I remain hopeful it will start some conversations and prevent at least some sexual assaults.
And by "outrage" she means lots of hits for her article.

Yoffe and her supporters believe that there is a pernicious group of people out there encouraging college women to get blind drunk. And the ultimate Group - as David Mamet capitalized it in OLEANNA when he wanted to invent an organization out to destroy men by any means necessary including through false rape charges - is of course feminists. Yoffe quotes Anne Coughlin:
Over the years, I have had students tell me that feminists were doing them a disservice by not raising these questions. One student told me that she had been taught that we were living in a brave, new world for women, that women could drink as much as they wanted and that the women would be safe, that the law would somehow keep them safe. She and her friends learned, through hard experience, that the law—and new feminist views—could do no such thing, and she wished that she had received a more subtle, nuanced message about how to proceed in a changing culture.
It must be true because Anne Coughlin has anecdotes from some unnamed students over the years.

So those crazy feminists are going around telling women they can drink as much as they want and they'll be "safe."

But Coughlin and Yoffe aren't mad at feminists for being callous about young women choking on their own vomit. The only thing that really concerns them is feminists leading young women to believe they can act unladylike and expect to avoid inciting a rapist.

Now it's time for Coughlin and Yoffe to provide evidence - who are these feminists out there imploring women to get falling-down-drunk? It's time to name names.

Yoffe is simply a garden-variety scold,  exactly what you find from the man and woman on the street, as this British study demonstrates - who believe that if it isn't drinking, it's flirting or wearing revealing clothing that causes rape:
A third of Britons believe a woman who acts flirtatiously is partially or completely to blame for being raped, according to a new study.
More than a quarter also believe a woman is at least partly responsible for being raped if she wears sexy or revealing clothing, or is drunk, the study found.
One in five think a woman is partly to blame if it is known she has many sexual partners, while more than a third believe she is responsible to some degree if she has clearly failed to say "no" to the man.
In each of these scenarios a slightly greater proportion of men than women held these views - except when it came to being drunk, when it was equal.
In fact more women (5pc) than men (3pc) thought a woman was "totally responsible" for being raped if she was intoxicated.
Support groups described the findings as "alarming" and "appalling".
Yoffe does allow one criticism:
But I agree with critics that the education of men is an important issue and I should have hit it harder...
But I am not holding my breath waiting for Yoffe to write an article scolding men for getting drunk and raping. That's just not contrarian enough, and she wouldn't get nearly the publicity.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thinking of violas

My current music theory course is looking at string quartets - two violins, viola and cello, and I've been thinking of violas, which are the definition of "second fiddle" - so I did some searching for viola music and found this orchestral arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody which I quite like. The viola is standing in for Freddy Mercury's lead vocals.


I also like how the orchestra handles the rock-out guitar bits at 4:35.

Monday, October 28, 2013

RIP Lou Reed

Waiting for the Man in France.

   

The cast of characters from "Walk on the Wild Side."


The entire American Masters documentary available on Youtube.

 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dramatists Guild videos

I was torn between a session with David Ives and the Julia Jordan keynote address at the Dramatists Guild Conference in June 2011, and ended up picking the Jordan speech. It was a great speech and I wasn't sorry I picked it, but I wasn't happy to miss the Ives session. But while looking for Dramatists Guild videos I came across the video of the Ives session. Early in the video you can hear the Jordan audience make noise - Ives and the other guy make a joke about it. The Jordan speech was in the auditorium directly below the Ives session room.

Although since that session I have developed somewhat mixed feelings about David Ives.




Saturday, October 26, 2013

You put a spell...

Finally, the latest NYCPlaywrights video is done.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig - sheer genius

I don't know who the writer in Flavorwire is talking about here:
There’s a lot of disagreement, at least in the online commenting world, on whether or not this is inspired casting.
Because anybody who knows anything about NPH or Hedwig realizes that this is a match made in heaven.

I saw the original Hedwig and the Angry Inch when it was at Jane Street, although I missed author John Cameron Mitchell's run in the title role. But it's thanks to an interview he gave to Terry Gross on Fresh Air that I decided to take myself and my then-boyfriend - who loved the show - to see it.

My daughter, who still resents me for not taking her to see the off-Broadway run, is ecstatic about the Broadway production with NPH and what I'm worried about is that it will be so huge we won't get tickets.

I did take her to see the movie version but it's not the same.

And I'm not complaining about the actor I saw who replaced Mitchell, Michael Cerveris, who is actually a more accomplished actor than Mitchell, and speaking of whom, is now in another show I want to see, Fun Home, based on the work of Alison Bechdel, of Bechdel Test fame.

I also think this is absurd:
...a hard-edged show like Hedwig doesn’t exactly have the family-friendly subject matter that the biggest hits on Broadway feature. (This year’s Tony winner for Best Musical was Kinky Boots, to be fair, but that drag queen-fused musical featured songs about accepting and loving yourself and others. Hedwig, on the other hand, features a song about a botched gender-reassignment surgery.) 
What? Does this writer know nothing? The time has surely come for Hedwig - and with NPH it's going to be huge.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The New Yorker's Girls obsession

Well I thought I was done writing about Mikki Kendall, but I jumped into a Facebook argument between Susan Brownmiller and the New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum. Brownmiller posted a comment that she had been left out of Jezebel's feminist encyclopedia, which she found out via this NPR interview.

I couldn't resist pointing out that Brownmiller had been accused of racism during Mikki Kendall's #solidarityisforwhitewomen hatefest, and mentioned the ageist attack against Steinem and other feminist pioneers by Elena Haliczar and Versha Sherma. I also pointed out how much Kendall hated "Girls" because she thinks that Lena Dunham is racist because her cast is white. I knew that Nussbaum, like half the New Yorker staff, had written glowingly about the show.

Nussbaum's reply:
I sometimes have issues with other feminists, and other critics, and other writers in general, male or female, and when I do, I try to make reasoned arguments for the problems with what they've said. Things like an activist Twitter hashtag tend to catalyze responses I find illuminating, other ones I find cheap or harmful, and so on. That's the nature of these kinds of internet blowups. Including the one about Girls, which was searing, but which I personally found pretty helpful in thinking about diversity on television, even when I didn't agree with individual critiques of the show.
If Kendall ever finds out how much Nussbaum likes "Girls" I don't think Nussbaum would consider her critiques helpful - I think she would find herself accused of racism by Kendall.

Kendall's actually a lazy blogger - much of her karnythia Tumblr account is reposting of others' work and her just agreeing - although that's pretty much how most Tumblr accounts work (not a hotbed of originality) and that's why if somebody accuses you of racism - as Mikki Kendall did of me when I disagreed with her assertion that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were/are racists - it may be reposted many times, which is why it appears high on a Google search results list. 

Out of curiosity, how old do white women have to be before they’re responsible for their racism?
I've never seen "Girls" and so have no opinion on the show. Everything I've heard about it made it sound irritating, so I've been in no hurry to see it. And the fact that the New Yorker staff has such an obsession with it is also annoying. And I use the word "obsession" advisedly:











Anyway, Salon is still publishing ethics-free Mikki Kendall's work, they just published something a month ago called The Real Mommy Wars. I will say that Kendall has made a leap, professionally - she doesn't blame white women for everything that's wrong with the world, at least not explicitly, and she doesn't make scurrilous accusations of attempted murder against anyone. But sad to say, it's her defamation inclination that gives her work any originality at all. Here's an excerpt from the article:
We need a conversation about the war on poor mothers, on disabled mothers, on indigenous mothers, on trans mothers, on mothers who are not in heterosexual relationships, on mothers who are migrant workers, on mothers doing the most with the least. Feminism is supposed to be about making it possible for all to achieve equality, not about playing games of one-upmanship.
You don't say. Feminists have been saying this since the first issue of Ms. Magazine.

Kendall wants you to believe, though, that feminism has been about one-upmanship. She doesn't provide any evidence for this implication though, but evidence is not the Kendall way - she says whatever the hell she wants and you are to accept it, purely on her authority. 

And that's what Salon considers worth paying to publish. And I thought the New York Times publishing Delia Ephron's anti-the color blue rant was bad.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Bike Snob said it so much better than I did though...


Can you imagine if you were able to pick a subject you knew absolutely nothing about, write a batshit crazy opinion piece on it, and get it published in The New York Times as easily as a stoned college student calls in for a bucket of chicken wings?
Well, thanks to being born into a showbiz dynasty, this is one of the little perks Delia Ephron gets to enjoy, and she's written an op-ed on Citi Bike that boldly breaks new ground in saying dumb shit.

Exactly. Thank you Bike Snob.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The aesthetic cross of the rentier class

Oh dear baby Jesus, does the NYTimes really need to hire Delia Ephron to write mindless think pieces? She's sixty-nine years old and can well afford to retire.

Although I will say Ephron's Color Me Blue gives those of us in the 99% a through-the-looking glass perspective on how insulated the rich are from those of us in the lower orders.

Ephron has a problem with Bloomberg and with Citibank. Now you're probably thinking it has something to do with the too-cozy relationship between government and the big banks and how that impacts regulations which leads to private gains and public losses, etc.

But no, the issue of greatest import to Ephron is the aesthetic nightmare that is the Citi Bike program. Yes really:
There are many new signs and lights for cars, bike riders and pedestrians to make sure everyone does the safe thing. Good luck with that. The eye is flying around having no idea where to land. Really, standing at that intersection is a surreal experience. It’s as if one has entered the world of a manic martinet. 
It’s fall now. As you stroll in the crisp air through Central Park or down a lovely tree-lined block enchanted by the coppery yellow, burnt orange and flame red of autumn leaves, a bank-blue bike is going to whip by, possibly knocking you down, definitely pulling your focus. 
Then it will be winter and we’ll have one of those blizzards that turns the city entirely white and nearly silent. You will leave your apartment to take in this miracle, trekking down your street, making the first boot marks in virgin snow, and as you turn a corner, your head will suddenly spin toward a gigantic inkblot on the landscape: a stand of 27 bank-blue bikes. A total of 135 Citi Bike signs. You will forget the awesomeness of nature. 
INSTEAD you will start thinking about your bank — how it is paying you barely any interest...
 The Citi Bike program has turned out to be quite popular - "a major success" according to Newsday. But of course it's a major success with the wrong sort of people - the hoi polloi flaunting their indigo impertinence all over Ephron's city.

It turns out that Ephron has been thinking about banks and banking quite a lot lately - she's written two other articles about banks recently, available on her web site: The Banker's Job - bankers have failed Ephron; and Banks Taketh But Don't Giveth - banks aren't paying enough interest.

You'll notice that in two of the three articles by Ephron on banking, she mentions banks paying insufficient interest. This is a rich person's problem as Krugman explains in his blog post John Galt Wants Price Supports:
Lots of people have been having fun with the latest Max Abelson piece on whiny Wall Streeters. One thing Mike Konczal points out is that this is in part the whine of rentiers, angry that their wealth isn’t yielding the return they want:
While they aren’t asking for sympathy, “at their level, in a different way but in the same way, the rug got pulled out,” said Sonnenfeldt, 56. “For many people of wealth, they’ve had a crushing setback as well.” 
He described a feeling of “malaise” and a “paralysis that does not allow one to believe that generally things are going to get better,” listing geopolitical hot spots such as Iran and low interest rates that have been “artificially manipulated” by the Federal Reserve.
People like these are almost always scornful when, say, blue-collar workers complain about declining real wages — hey, it’s just supply and demand, deal with it. And they are contemptuous about claims of price manipulation. But when prices that matter to them — say, interest rates — fall, it’s an outrage. It must be artificial! Because hey, it’s not as if there has been a rise in saving and a fall in investment demand that might be causing low interest rates:


Actually, the only “artificial” thing here is that rates haven’t fallen further, thanks to the zero lower bound on short-term rates. As I’ve tried to explain, we’re basically in a situation of incipient excess supply of savings. Of course interest rates are low.
Krugman had something directly to say about the kind of people who hate Bloomberg for the Citi Bike program back in June:
Well, yesterday I was inconvenienced by the new Citi Bikes: a newly installed line of bike racks blocked the place where I usually cross John Street, forcing me to make a 20-foot detour. Impeach Michael Bloomberg! 
Or, maybe not. But the absolutely hysterical reaction of right-wingers to the bike program just keeps mounting — and in a way that almost makes the program worth it, all by itself. 
Ephron posted a link to her Citi Bike Horror article on her Facebook page, which she leaves wide open. One of Ephron's Facebook friends - with whom I share three Facebook friends, posted this under the link:
Thank you for braving the hate mail you'll inevitably receive for this. Someone had to say it.
That poor thing - she might receive criticism for her silly article - on top of low interest pay-outs and the plague of losers on blue bikes - how does she find the strength to endure?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Love means never having to say you're sorry

I still haven't seen "Love Story" which starred Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neil. I saw the movie, "What's Up Doc?" with two of my cousins and my aunt the late Sister Marie Martin, as I mentioned in this blog post.

So I've finally re-watched WUD and I certainly appreciate it more now than I did when I was an adolescent. I thought Ryan O'Neal was an old man back then, but wow, I can see now what a hottie he was. Hell I think Austin Pendleton is adorable here - if that name rings a bell it's because he's been very active in the New York theater seen lately. And Kenneth Mars is funny as always - Mars you may know from the original movie version of The Producers, where he played Fritz Leibling, the author of "Springtime for Hitler." I had no idea who he was the first time around. It's great to see so many men with long hair - I sure miss the early 70s sometimes.

Also adorable is Madeline Kahn, as the put-upon fiancee of O'Neal's character.

And Barbra - what can you say about her? She has skin like buttah in this movie - and also she's very Bugs Bunny-esque, appropriately, with a hint of Groucho Marx and screwball-era Katherine Hepburn.

And Darren Stephens mother also shows up as an ur-cougar, resplendent in animal print and go-go boots when she first appears, and a bag full of priceless jewels, and in her last scene, with a cute security guard in tow.

The first time I saw "What's Up Doc?" the fact that the audience laughed uproariously at Streisand's final line: "love means never having to say you're sorry" stuck with me. I had no idea at the time why that was funny, but I knew it was a cultural reference that I just wasn't getting. And of course now I know that it was the catch phrase of the movie "Love Story." And it's very funny that O'Neal's response is "that's the dumbest thing I ever heard."

And it's great to see the streets of San Francisco in this movie - I hadn't been there the first time I saw WUD - and it's no joke, those streets are crazy steep - some of the residential areas have such steep hills it's hard just walking up them.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Seagull and Mrs. Sting

I interviewed Trudie Styler, aka Mrs. Sting last night. I was offered free tickets to see THE SEAGULL production now playing at the Culture Project, and at first they said all I had to do was write a review, but after I agreed, they switched it up and said I had to interview Styler and post it to the NYCPlaywrights web site, which I did. People Magazine stuff isn't really part of NYCPlaywrights mission, but I had already agreed to accept free tickets so felt honor-bound to do it.

I have nothing against Styler, I know almost nothing about her. But I didn't feel like doing the whole celebrity thing - unless I really like a celebrity for something they've done that I consider valuable, I find celebrities irritating.

Styler was perfectly nice, although her face is odd - it seems to be made of 60% cheekbone. Also she seemed surprised that I did not know that Sting had acted before, including in a 1989 production of THREEPENNY OPERA. Which Frank Rich hated.

I had never read nor seen SEAGULL before. My main contact with Chekhov had been a public television adaptation of several of his short stories - which I thought was very good, and a collection of his short plays, which didn't especially impress me. Chekhov himself wasn't especially impressed - he said of his play THE BEAR:

"I've managed to write a stupid vaudville which, owing to the fact that it is stupid, is enjoying surprising success."

I wasn't especially impressed by SEAGULL either. The NYTimes gave this production a so-so review but Isherwood seems to like Styler's work here.

However, it did give me an insight into the stagecraft of Tom Stoppard. When I saw his ARCADIA I complained:
But the actual big tragic event is that Thomasina dies in a fire on her seventeenth birthday and it is implied in the 20th century section that Septimus went crazy as a result and that is why he spends the rest of his life living in the hermitage trying to work out Thomasina's equations.
We don't ever see any of this. The Regency period plot ends the evening before the fire.
 
Now compare that to KING LEAR - we don't actually see the death of Cordelia, but we've seen Lear go nuts and we see him recover his wits long enough to mourn the death of Cordelia - while she is actually in his arms - and then we see him die of a broken heart. 
We get none of that in ARCADIA - we hear a researcher say that the person in the hermitage was probably crazy and we hear a researcher say that Thomasina died in a fire on her seventeenth birthday. And we congratulate ourselves for figuring out what happened. But we don't get to see what happened. 
We don't actually have to see Thomasina die in a fire - we don't see Cordelia actually die - but we could at least see the effects of Thomasina's death on Septimus as enacted by the actor - not as theorized by researchers two centuries later.
This practice of leaving the exciting bits off stage is apparently something that Chekhov is known for if you believe Wikipedia:
 In contrast to the melodrama of the mainstream theatre of the 19th century, lurid actions (such as Konstantin's suicide attempts) are not shown onstage. 
And sometimes Wikipedia is not to be believed - right after the above statement it says:
Characters tend to speak in ways that skirt around issues rather than addressing them directly; in other words, their lines are full of what is known in dramatic practice as subtext,[1] or text that is not spoken aloud.
I don't know what version of this play the Wiki author saw, but the one I saw (and the text available at Gutenberg.org) utterly disputes the idea that characters don't address issues directly. Jesus Christ, that's ALL they do!

First of course is the business with the seagull itself - it's the name of the play, and Trigorin tells us exactly and I mean exactly, what this play is about:
TRIGORIN
Nothing much, only an idea that occurred to me. [He puts the book back in his pocket] An idea for a short story. A young girl grows up on the shores of a lake, as you have. She loves the lake as the gulls do, and is as happy and free as they. But a man sees her who chances to come that way, and he destroys her out of idleness, as this gull here has been destroyed. 
Not only do subsequent events illustrate this monologue exactly, but Nina actually says several times "I am the Sea-gull" and signs her letters "The Sea-gull."
NINA
I am a sea-gull—no—no, that is not what I meant to say. Do you remember how you shot a seagull once? A man chanced to pass that way and destroyed it out of idleness. That is an idea for a short story, but it is not what I meant to say.
Subtext? How about hit-over-the-headtext? I mean what does Chekhov have to do to demonstrate that he's not interested in subtext? Have Konstantine deliver a monologue right before he goes off stage to kill himself saying: "Nina was the seagull, and Trigorin destroyed her just as he said he would, and she still loves him and not me and that is why I am going to shoot myself."

Every other character says exactly what they think too. Paulina is insecure of her adulterous relationship with the doctor, and says it several times. Masha is in love with Konstantine and says so several times. Konstantine realizes that Nina doesn't love him any more and says it out loud. Peter mentions twice that he regrets never having married or tried acting.

In fact, as I was watching the play and hadn't heard yet that Chekhov was known for subtext, I thought that maybe he was supposed to be such a big deal because he deliberately had his characters say aloud what people in real life only rarely say aloud.

But back to this leaving the exciting bits (aka "melodrama") off the stage. The entire story of Trigorin impregnating and abandoning Nina is briefly stated and then shrugged off by all the other characters except Konstantine, and since we never see it happen, we shrug it off too. Trigorin is clearly a huge asshole, and almost nobody minds. We don't even get to see Irina struggle with whether to take him back or not, which anybody would have done. Instead we get all these drawing room scenes and the big flapping Symbolism of the seagull.

And as if that wasn't enough, this Culture Project version of the play is transplanted to Ireland - for what reason I can't fathom - and the director had to give the Irina-Konstantine relationship a creepy incest moment where Konstantine gets all grabby with his mother and then kisses her on the lips - something that does not happen in the text of the play. I guess the director figured that since liberties have been taken with the Hamlet-Gertrude relationship in HAMLET, why not do the same thing here, since HAMLET is even directly referenced in SEAGULL.

This is why you cannot trust most directors - they can turn Hamlet into a sicko, they can turn any other character into one, and you're supposed to just accept it, the way you're supposed to accept that Trigorin is a huge asshole, and that's OK because what's really important is Symbolism, not watching Trigorin be an asshole on stage.

If it was good enough for Shakespeare to depict somebody's eyes being gouged out on stage (speaking of King Lear), then "melodrama" is good enough for any playwright. Including Chekhov and Stoppard.

Predictably, Stoppard loves Chekhov.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who would ask for personal advice from a rape apologist like Emily Yoffe?

There have been several excellent critiques of Emily Yoffe's blame-the-rape-victim piece in Slate.

From Salon:
There is, of course, a lot to be said about Yoffe’s “this is not rape apologia” rape apologia, but let’s start with this: Our culture is not, and has never been, “reluctant” to tell women to stop doing things. In fact, people build entire careers around it. 
And yet this false idea, that women’s behavior is the real reason they are victimized — and that we live in a society that does a poor job of policing such behavior — is regularly used to blame sexual violence on the “problem” of young women today. 
Richard Cohen and Concerned Women for America have both cited Miley Cyrus’ recent embrace of tongue-wagging and half-shirts as a reason that teenage football players rape unconscious 16-year-olds. A judge in Montana declared a 14-year-old rape victim “older than her chronological age” and said she was ”as much in control” of the crime committed against her as her 49-year-old rapist. A 14-year-old cheerleader in Missouri is allegedly raped and abandoned outside by her alleged rapist, wearing only a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt on a freezing morning, and Yoffe points to the girl’s consumption of a “big glass of clear liquid” as the real problem in need of addressing. 
This is the very definition of rape culture. And it is so completely tired.
In The Nation
Yesterday, it was Slate’s Emily Yoffe, who argues that if girls want to avoid rape they shouldn’t drink so much. (Yoffe seems to think this is a novel and brave position, despite it’s being the central message young American women receive around sexual assault.) I agree there should be a conversation about the relationship between rape and drinking: We need to discuss the way that rapists use alcohol as a weapon to attack, and then discredit, their victims. But focusing on rapists is not nearly as popular as scolding young women. 
Refusing to emphasize rapists’ role in rape is telling. Yoffe writes of a girl who “ends up being raped”—as if she tripped and fell into it. (Even more illuminating is the lesson she wants to pass on to her son is not to be the boy “who finds himself accused of raping a drunken classmate.”) It reminds me of a headline from years ago that read, “More Rapes Linked to Young Women on Drinking Binges.” Why not, “Rapists Attack Drunk Women”? This centering of women’s behavior is what allows rape culture to flourish. 
When we make victims’ choices the focus of rape prevention, we make the world a safer place for rapists. It gives attackers what Thomas Macaulay Millar calls—in his excellent piece ‘Meet the Predators’—social licence to operate. You know why rapists attack rape women? Because they know the victim’s community and law enforcement will be less likely to believe them. When you tell a rape joke? A rapist thinks that you’re on their side! In ways big and small, we are making this easy on them.
Even from Newsweek
Yoffe cites a study that claims more than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol, but fails to address the drunken perpetrators themselves, a bizarre strategy considering a U.S. Department of Justice study found that the perpetrator was intoxicated in 1 in 3 sexual assaults. Although Yoffe notes that studies show men sometimes use drinking to justify rape, the only advice she has for men is for her hypothetical falsely incriminated son: “I would tell him that it’s in his self-interest not to be the drunken frat boy who finds himself accused of raping a drunken classmate." Her non-hypothetical daughter, on the other hand, gets lectures on “her responsibility to take steps to protect herself.”
My favorite so far is this: College Men: Stop Getting Drunk
Let's be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let men know that when they drink their decision-making skills into oblivion, they can do terrible things. Young men are getting a distorted message that their right to match each other drink for drink is proof of their masculinity. The real masculine message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will become the kind of person who, shall we say, doesn't have others' best interests at heart. That's not saying all men are rapists; that's trying to prevent more rapes. 
The Campus Sexual Assault Study of 2007, undertaken for the Department of Justice, found the popular belief that many young rape victims have been slipped "date rape" drugs is false. "Most sexual assaults occur after voluntary consumption of alcohol by the victim and assailant," the report states. But this crucial point is not being articulated to young and naïve men: "Despite the link between substance abuse and sexual assault it appears that few sexual assault and/or risk reduction programs address the relationship between substance use and sexual assault." And despite decades of efforts aimed at making women responsible for their own safety — from distributing rape whistles to holding Take Back the Night marches to publicizing sexual-assault hotlines — rates of sexual assault have not declined over the last five decades.
As far as I'm concerned, in spite of the de rigueur protestation that she is not blaming the victim, Yoffe gives her true beliefs completely away with this last paragraph of the piece:
Lake says that it is unrealistic to expect colleges will ever be great at catching and punishing sexual predators; that’s simply not their core mission. Colleges are supposed to be places where young people learn to be responsible for themselves. Lake says, “The biggest change in going to college is that you have to understand safety begins with you. For better or worse, fair or not, just or not, the consequences will fall on your head.” I’ll drink (one drink) to that.
So it's "unrealistic" to do anything about rapists who attend colleges. And so the onus is entirely on women - if only women "learn to be responsible for themselves" by never getting drunk the college rapist problem would just go away.

I read Yoffe's column Dear Prudie a few times years ago but stopped because I began to sense a real underlying bitterness in Yoffe's online persona, and wondered "who would ask this nasty person for personal advice?"

Guess I made a good call there.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Atlas Shrugged Part 2 - the Tramp becomes a railroad worker.



The story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company is changed so much in the movie Atlas Shrugged Part 2 that it's almost unrecognizable, and so Lord High Objectivist David Kelley has to explain its meaning as Communism analog.

The clip above has a worker - not the Tramp on the train as in the novel - tell Dagny about the TCMC. It's an incredibly truncated version - the Tramp's monologue takes half a chapter of the book compared to the worker's 60 seconds in the movie. So we don't get to hear the full TCMC story including the anecdote of a drunk man bashing in a little girl's face, and more importantly, the true reason behind the owners of the company forcing collectivism on the workers. The Tramp is describing Ivy Starnes, the head factory owner to Dagny:
She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil you should see the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who'd talked back to her once and who'd just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance. And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who's ever preached 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
I've blogged about this before, but it still blows my mind - how can so many people read this book and not be immediately stopped dead by the absurdity of it? This is the premise for the entire book! Is it a reading comprehension problem? Or they actually believe this is the real reason for Communism?
...if you ever want to see pure evil you should see the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who'd talked back to her once... And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who's ever preached 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
Rand could not make it any clearer what she considers the real motivation for Communism to be nothing so complex as socio-economic and historical forces. No, she blames it on nothing except sadism. Period. It's utterly crackpot in spite of Rand's constant howling about rationalism. How could anybody take her body of work as some kind of actual philosophy?

I think there needs to be a dramatization of the story of the collectivization of the Twentieth Century Motor Company in order to make clear the incredible absurdity of it all.

To my great gratification and amazement, the addition I made to the Wikipedia page entry for "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" adding the quote above from Atlas Shrugged, has been up for several days now, escaping the wrath, or more likely the notice of the infamous Wikipedia editors.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Niall Ferguson's epic meltdown

Right-wing historian and economist-wanna-be Niall Ferguson seems to be having an epic meltdown over being called out by the mighty Krugman. He writes:
For too long, Paul Krugman has exploited his authority as an award-winning economist and his power as a New York Times columnist to heap opprobrium on anyone who ventures to disagree with him. Along the way, he has acquired a claque of like-minded bloggers who play a sinister game of tag with him, endorsing his attacks and adding vitriol of their own. I would like to name and shame in this context Dean Baker, Josh Barro, Brad DeLong, Matthew O'Brien, Noah Smith, Matthew Yglesias and Justin Wolfers. Krugman and his acolytes evidently relish the viciousness of their attacks, priding themselves on the crassness of their language. But I should like to know what qualifies a figure like Matt O'Brien to call anyone a "disingenuous idiot"? What exactly are his credentials? 35,550 tweets? How does he essentially differ from the cranks who, before the Internet, had to vent their spleen by writing letters in green ink?
So Ferguson's critics both exploit their credentials, and also don't have a good enough credentials to be worthy of criticizing Niall Ferguson. Ferguson, it should be noted is saying this on the prestigious Huffington Post.

Krugman disagrees with Ferguson because Ferguson gets things wrong:
My own unpleasantness with Ferguson began when he tried to weigh in on monetary versus fiscal policy without understanding basic macroeconomics. Later, he tried to critique official inflation numbers without knowing enough about that subject to tell the difference between the experts and the cranks. Now he’s demonstrating, rather embarrassingly, that he doesn’t know how to read CBO reports.
Krugman also defends those without sufficiently lofty credentials from sore-headed, entitled jerks like Ferguson:
But academic credentials are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for having your ideas taken seriously. If a famous professor repeatedly says stupid things, then tries to claim he never said them, there’s no rule against calling him a mendacious idiot — and no special qualifications required to make that pronouncement other than doing your own homework.
Conversely, if someone without formal credentials consistently makes trenchant, insightful observations, he or she has earned the right to be taken seriously, regardless of background.
 
One of the great things about the blogosphere is that it has made it possible for a number of people meeting that second condition to gain an audience. I don’t care whether they’re PhDs, professors, or just some guy with a blog — it’s the work that matters. 
Meanwhile, we didn’t need blogs to know that many great and famous intellectuals are, in fact, fools. Some of them may always have been fools; some of them are hedgehogs, who know a lot about a narrow area but are ignorant elsewhere (and are, in many cases, so ignorant that they don’t know they’re ignorant — a variant on Dunning-Kruger.) And some of them have, for whatever reason, lost it — I can think offhand of several economists, not all of them all that old, of whom it is common to say, “I can’t believe that guy wrote those papers.” 
And let me add that believing that you can pull rank in this wide-open modern age is itself a demonstration of incompetence. Who, exactly, do you think cares? Not the readers, that’s for sure. 
True, it’s now a rough world for people who do sloppy work, and are counting on their credentials to shield them from criticism. Somehow, though, I can’t seem to muster any sympathy.
When I read the last paragraph I immediately think of Sam Harris.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Treasonous racist thugs fly Confederate flag in front of the White House

At least these freaks are finally admitting the connection between their goal and the Confederate goal -  to destroy our democracy for an ignoble cause.

Sam Harris is still a xenophobic bigot

He praises Malala Yousafzai while claiming that the religion that she believes in turns people into vicious killers.

In his standard simplistic way he calls those who understand that there is a complex web of politics, religion, social conditions and history that drives people to become jihadists "obscurantists." Because if you don't believe, as Sam Harris does, that the words of the Koran have a super-special woo power that the words of the Bible do not, you are an "apologist" for Islam.
Her (Nobel Prize) nomination is said to have noticeably increased anti-Western sentiment in Pakistan—a fact that deserves some honest reflection on the part of Islam’s apologists. If for nothing else, we can be grateful to the Taliban for reminding us of what so many civilized people seem eager to forget: This is both a war of ideas and a very bloody war—and we must win it.
Malala made it clear on her Daily Show interview that in her opinion the Taliban is distorting Islam. Is she an "apologist" too? She was the one who was shot in the face - not Sam Harris. Doesn't her opinion of the religion count too?

Most people don't care what Sam Harris says - or even know who he is. But since I am a member of atheist groups on Facebook, the right-wing ravings of the holy trinity of  Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris are in my face on a regular basis, and I have to respond. But it's this worship of simplistic bigots that prevents me from joining any atheist groups in "real life."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Knights of Columbus freely admit to admiring an initiator of genocide and the trans-Atlantic slave trade

Like many people, my first introduction to the real Christopher Columbus was via Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States." The blogger responsible for this excellent summary of the atrocities that resulted from the "discoveries" of Christopher Columbus also acknowledges that book. However, the blogger mentions something I either didn't know or had forgotten - that we have the Catholic men's organization, The Knights of Columbus, to blame for our nation having a federal holiday for him. As Wikipedia notes:
The first statewide Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907. In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made October 12 a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.
The Knights of Columbus freely admit to honoring Christopher Columbus, and they don't only honor him on Columbus Day, as this page from their web site demonstrates:
The Knights of Columbus today [May 20, 2006] remembers the death of Christopher Columbus. It was Columbus who opened the Americas to Christianity, and we pause to remember why it is that we bear his name.
So because Columbus "opened the Americas to Christianity" he is to be regarded as a hero. Because the societies he destroyed were not Christians.

And the KoC are not unaware of the charges of atrocities - they give Carol Delaney the opportunity t deny Columbus's responsibility for them.
Columbia: The popular view today is that Columbus is responsible for countless atrocities against the native peoples. In your opinion, is this a fair assessment? 
Carol Delaney: No, not at all. The late 20th century brought a lot of critique about him from the perspective of the natives, and Columbus has become a symbol for everything that went wrong. But the more I read of his own writings and that of his contemporaries, my understanding of him totally changed. His relations with the natives tended to be benign. He liked the natives and found them to be very intelligent. He also described them as “natural Christians” because they had no other “sect,” or false faith, and believed that they could easily become Christians if they had instruction.
Columbus strictly told the crew not to do things like marauder or rape, and instead to treat the native people with respect. There are many examples in his writings where he gave instructions to this effect. Most of the time when injustices occurred, Columbus wasn’t even there. There were terrible diseases that got communicated to the natives, but he can’t be blamed for that.
 
A lot of the crew members didn’t like all of the restrictions and rebelled. In his writings, Columbus notes that the crew assumed that they could have slaves, that they could pick gold off of the trees, and that they didn’t have to work. 
Columbia: What was Columbus’ view toward slavery? 
Carol Delaney: As far as I can tell, Columbus never had any slaves, nor did he intend to get slaves when he went across the ocean. There was no possibility of enslaving the Grand Khan and his people. And [Columbus] believed the natives would become subjects of the Spanish sovereigns.
When they later met a different group of natives, whom they believed to be cannibals, Columbus’ brother sent some of these people back to Europe after their second voyage. It was considered morally acceptable at that time to enslave people who acted against their nature, with the hope that they would become good Christians. Slavery was common, even among people in the Caribbean. People ignore that fact and seem to think that Columbus instituted slavery.
The last question above is about Columbus's view towards slavery, and Delany avoids that question by saying that Columbus didn't have slaves, and that in any case in those days slavery was acceptable. But Howard Zinn presents evidence of Columbus's actual views in Columbus's own words:
They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
***
As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.
***

So it's pretty clear exactly what Columbus's view towards slavery was. He may not have personally owned slaves, but he had no problem enslaving on behalf of others, or taking natives "by force."

This isn't the first time the atrocities of Columbus's expeditions have been whitewashed of course. Zinn points to another historian doing the same thing:
Past the elementary and high schools, there are only occasional hints of something else. Samuel Eliot Morison, the Harvard historian, was the most distinguished writer on Columbus, the author of a multi-volume biography, and was himself a sailor who retraced Columbus's route across the Atlantic. In his popular book Christopher Columbus, Mariner, written in 1954, he tells about the enslavement and the killing: "The cruel policy initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in complete genocide."
That is on one page, buried halfway into the telling of a grand romance. In the book's last paragraph, Morison sums up his view of Columbus:
"He had his faults and his defects, but they were largely the defects of the qualities that made him great-his indomitable will, his superb faith in God and in his own mission as the Christ-bearer to lands beyond the seas, his stubborn persistence despite neglect, poverty and discouragement. But there was no flaw, no dark side to the most outstanding and essential of all his qualities-his seamanship."
One can lie outright about the past. Or one can omit facts which might lead to unacceptable conclusions. Morison does neither. He refuses to lie about Columbus. He does not omit the story of mass murder; indeed he describes it with the harshest word one can use: genocide.
But he does something else-he mentions the truth quickly and goes on to other things more important to him. Outright lying or quiet omission takes the risk of discovery which, when made, might arouse the reader to rebel against the writer. To state the facts, however, and then to bury them in a mass of other information is to say to the reader with a certain infectious calm: yes, mass murder took place, but it's not that important-it should weigh very little in our final judgments; it should affect very little what we do in the world.
Delany also has high praise for Columbus's seamanship:
Columbia: To what extent can Columbus’ exploration be considered a failure or a success? 
Carol Delaney: I think he went to the grave thinking that he had not accomplished what he wanted to do. He was angry with King Ferdinand for not pursuing the crusade, and he recognized that terrible crimes had been committed. From this point of view, he felt the quest was a failure. In reality, it was a major accomplishment. Columbus went across the ocean four times in small wooden ships, without the use of modern instruments. In the process, he discovered the New World, even though he thought that he had found only the periphery of Asia.
Similar to Zinn's description of Morison's approach, the acknowledgement of "terrible crimes" is there, but it's pushed aside for something the historian considers more significant.

But even more than seamanship, Delaney, and of course the Knights of Columbus, excuse any attempts by Columbus to conquer peoples because Columbus's motive wasn't only gold, it was religious zealotry:
Columbia: You argue that most people misunderstand the purpose of Columbus’ voyage. According to your research, what were his motivations? 
Carol Delaney: Everybody knows that Columbus was trying to find gold, but they don’t know what the gold was for: to fund a crusade to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims before the end of the world. A lot of people at the time thought that the apocalypse was coming because of all the signs: the plague, famine, earthquakes and so forth. And it was believed that before the end, Jerusalem had to be back in Christian hands so that Christ could return in judgment. Columbus actually calculated how many years were left before the end of the world. He seemed to think of his whole voyage as a mission, which was part of this apocalyptic scenario.
Oh, so his motivation was not only gold - he also wanted to conquer Muslims because he was a religious fanatic wacko.

Why wouldn't we want to have a national holiday to celebrate the deranged religious crusader who just happened to initiate genocide and the trans-Atlantic slave trade?

So glad that the Knights of Columbus and Carol Delaney have cleared that up.

When the Knights of Columbus aren't celebrating the cause of religious fanaticism-inspired conquest, they are using the American political system to try to force their evil misogynist religion onto the American public:
Critics like Schneck say many of the questions regarding the funding of the Fortnight for Freedom campaign center on private Catholic groups. 
"The Knights of Columbus are clearly one of the major sources of funding (against the mandate), as well as other fraternal organizations," Schneck said. 
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charitable group based in New Haven, Conn., says it's the world's largest lay Catholic organization. 
Knights of Columbus life insurance sales neared $8 billion in 2010, and last year, it contributed $158 million to charity, including nearly $4 million to the Special Olympics. Its largesse extends to other causes, too, such as Coats for Kids and Project Medishare which provides prosthetics to Haitian children who lost limbs during the 2010 earthquake. In the last decade, the Knights have donated more than $1 billion to charity. 
The group's 2010 tax forms show that the Knights gave more than $3 million to the Vatican that year, nearly $2 million to the U.S. bishops conference and $25,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has guided much of the legal action against the contraception mandate. 
The group must disclose more recent donations in its 2011 tax forms. But Andrew Walther, the Knights of Columbus vice president for media, said the group has asked for an extension in filing the documents, making them unavailable until the fall. 
In 2010, the Knights were also generous with their contributions to individual bishops, doling out nearly $350,000 for a variety of programs in various dioceses. Of that, $248,700, or 71 percent, went to Lori's Diocese of Bridgeport.

They have the right idea about Columbus in Venezuela.

Current state (June 6, 2006) of the Columbus Walk in Caracas.
The statue was knocked down by activists after a "public trial"
during the celebrations of the newly instituted
"Day of the Indigenous Resistance" (October 12) in 2004

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stand firm, Mr. President

Our President, standing firm against seditious,
extortionist, blackmailing, democracy-hating traitors.
It really isn't surprising that Republicans have shut down our government. Republicans, especially the nihilist quasi-libertarian extremists infesting the House of Representatives thanks to the gerrymandered monster factories throughout Red State America, hate government. Especially democracies.

The present government shutdown is their latest attempt to destroy our government completely.

They hate the democratic form of government that voted in the Affordable Care Act, re-elected the ACA's champion, and declared it Constitutional.

And make no mistake, if Obama were to break the solemn oath he swore on his inauguration, to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America" by caving into these evil freaks we can all kiss democracy good-bye. It will be a government by crises, designed to bring about a plutocracy to serve the Koch-led overlords.

The Koch brothers, craven weasels to the end, have the utter shamelessness to deny their ultimate responsibility for the shutdown.

A commenter on this NYTimes article makes an excellent historical analogy:
Abraham Lincoln nailed Mr. Boehner's stance in his speed at Cooper Union in 1860:
"In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!'"

And even Thomas Friedman calls it what it is: "blackmail." He also appears to have identified the very worst Fringe Festival ever.
President Obama is leading. He is protecting the very rules that are the foundation of any healthy democracy. He is leading by not giving in to this blackmail, because if he did he would undermine the principle of majority rule that is the bedrock of our democracy. That system guarantees the minority the right to be heard and to run for office and become the majority, but it also ensures that once voters have spoken, and their representatives have voted — and, if legally challenged, the Supreme Court has also ruled in their favor — the majority decision holds sway. A minority of a minority, which has lost every democratic means to secure its agenda, has no right to now threaten to tank our economy if its demands are not met. If we do not preserve this system, nothing will ever be settled again in American politics. There would be nothing to prevent a future Democratic Congress from using the exact same blackmail to try to overturn a law enacted by their Republican rivals.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Yellin' for Yellen!

J-Dawg's high school yearbook entry
Woohoo!

Obama Names Yellen for Fed, Just as Fiscal Battle Heats Up
President Obama on Wednesday announced one of his most important economic decisions, nominating Janet L. Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve system and be his independent co-steward of the American economy. He called her “one of the nation’s foremost economists and policy makers.” 
Ms. Yellen, 67, who would be elevated from her current position as the Fed’s vice chairwoman if the Senate confirms her nomination for a four-year term, would be the first woman to lead the Fed. She joined Mr. Obama before the cameras in the State Dining Room of the White House for the formal announcement. With them was the retiring chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, whom the president hailed for helping to guide the economy through the worst recession and financial crisis since the Depression. 
“I could not be more grateful for his extraordinary service,” Mr. Obama said. 
As for the woman he has chosen to replace Mr. Bernanke, the president said that Ms. Yellen was “renowned for her good judgment,” and that she sounded early alarms about the financial and housing bubbles that caused the economy’s near-collapse in 2008. 
“Given the urgent economic challenges facing our nation, I urge the Senate to confirm Janet without delay,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m absolutely confident that she will be an exceptional chair of the Federal Reserve.”
The NYTimes Cityroom section has the info about Yellen's high school career
...the editors of The Tower, the yearbook of Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, did not think Janet Yellen — who is poised to become the first woman ever to lead the Federal Reserve — merited the designation “Most Likely to Succeed.” Instead, she was named “Class Scholar.”

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Boo hoo Smurfette

Someone writes to me about the NYCPlaywrights web site:
Thanks, Nancy, for all your good work.
 But I find myself getting really ticked when I read "Opportunities" and find myself excluded because of my race, sexual preference, or gender. Do the excluded have no imaginations? Shouldn't a play be judged on its merits rather than by the profile the author fits? NYC Playwrights really shouldn't let those who exclude place notices in its listings.
It really must be difficult to be a straight white guy who believes that the reason that plays by straight white guys are far and away the most-produced, to this day, is because plays are always selected based on merit and it just so happens that the best plays are by (mostly straight) white guys. And now here are all these theater organizations having the temerity to try to include work by the non-white, non-straight and non-male. 

Clearly this seeks to deny the reality that most of the meritorious plays are by white males.

My first impulse was to advise him that if he finds himself getting ticked off when he visits, just stop visiting the web site.

Although it's absurd that it should bother him enough to write to me and inform me that I shouldn't post such things - there are plenty of calls for submissions that don't specify ethnicity or gender or sexual preferences on the NYCPlaywrights web site. 

If only some of the members of our government were straight white men, maybe this demographic wouldn't be so horribly excluded from all opportunities.

But in my guise as mild-mannered NYCPlaywrights proprietor I just wrote back "thanks for your feedback."

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Republicans are the scum of the earth

Ted Cruz: Scumbag
Per the New Yorker:

Once House Republicans refused to pass a spending bill on Monday night, the N.I.H. had to stop enrolling new cancer patients in clinical trials, among them some thirty children. This was such an indictment of the shutdown that the G.O.P. had suggested a micro-appropriation—part of a “piecemeal” funding tactic to keep anger at bay. Reid, talking to reporters, called it cherry-picking and said that he wanted the whole bill, sticking to that after Dana Bash, of CNN, asked why he wouldn’t help just one child with cancer if he could. If you listen to the exchange, something Reid then says—“Why would we want to do that?”—clearly refers to the pitting of different people hurt by the shutdown against each other. But he did give Fox a line, if one dependent on the idea that Reid would think that caring for children was an alien concept. “Pretty sick,” Hannity said, as Cruz tried to look sad. Also, “cold, callous, heartless, mean-spirited, hateful.” Guest after guest was outraged. 
So many Republicans consumed by the idea that politicians ought to make sure that sick children get the care they need—one might call that novel. Do they plan to live out that conviction? The G.O.P. has shut down the government because it considers a law that will make health insurance far easier to get for the forty-eight million Americans who don’t have it—including millions of children, many of them sick—a threat to America. Will this talk of children with cancer lead them to read the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and, for once, think about what the law means for real people?
Being very ill in America without insurance is a disaster for anyone. You can easily be left bankrupt, even if you’re cured. Obamacare also addressed the particular ways getting sick could be terrible for children, even those with insurance. First, the law ended lifetime maximums, the catch by which insurance companies could decide that after they’d spent a certain amount they could walk away from a patient. Small children with cancer could, and often did, reach those limits before they’d made it through preschool. Next, provisions in Obamacare mean that these children won’t be kept from getting affordable (or any) insurance because of “preëxisting conditions.” They can also stay on their parents’ health-insurance policies until they are twenty-six. And they are precisely the sort of young people who ought to: they need check-ups to be sure that there isn’t a recurrence of cancer. And their health struggles may have made it harder for them to jump into the job market, or just to sleep at night with the illusion that a twenty-something who doesn’t have insurance is just making a rational bet—being sensible and free.

And they remain in power because we are a nation of ignoramuses and idiots, as Jimmy Kimmel - of all people - demonstrates.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Can I read people's emotions?

I can according to this test in the NYTimes - I scored 33/36.

But after I took the test I saw this and become completely skeptical:
 To find out how well you read the emotions of others, take the Well quiz, which is based on an assessment tool developed by University of Cambridge professor Simon Baron-Cohen.
Baron-Cohen (cousin of Ali G) is the jerk who came up with the whole "men are systematizers and women are emotional" bullshit  so beloved of Steven Pinker, which was handily eviscerated by Elizabeth Spelke.

Of course you haven't heard of Spelke, because unlike science celebrities like Baron-Cohen and Pinker, Spelke spends her time doing actual science, instead of pop psychology for idiots.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

"Taken by T-Rex" WTF?

This cannot possibly be a real thing:
...they discovered how lucrative erotic fiction about women having sex with dinosaurs could be. 


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

I hate Republicans


And let’s be clear: the health reform fight has always been about more than health reform. Liberals have long viewed health reform as the opening wedge, a sort of proof of concept, in a campaign to strengthen the US safety net and reduce income inequality; that was basically what I was urging in Conscience of a Liberal, which gave its title to this blog. 
Conversely, the right has long opposed health reform for exactly the same reason: it might, in the public’s mind, legitimate further government intervention to increase economic security. 
But let’s also be clear that these positions are not symmetric. Liberals favored health reform both because it would work and because it might enhance their ability to push for other policies; conservatives were and are determined to kill health reform even though it would work — in fact, precisely because it would work — because it might weaken the rest of their agenda. Basically, liberals wanted to do something good that would enlighten the public; conservatives want to prevent something good because they want to keep voters in the dark.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Ayn Rand's Life web comic

I could have saved myself soooo much time if I saw Webcomic Biography of Ayn Rand back in May.

Here's the comic's telling of the Incident of the Mechanical Chicken...