August 29, 2015

"Three top Jeb Bush fundraisers abruptly parted ways with his presidential campaign on Friday, amid internal personality conflicts and questions about the strength of his candidacy..."

"... POLITICO has learned."
There are different versions of what transpired...

Frontrunner Donald Trump seized on the POLITICO report Saturday morning and took a shot at his rival on Twitter: “Wow, Jeb Bush just lost three of his top fundraisers - they quit!”...

"Pope Francis Blesses a Lesbian, Her Family, and Her Writing For Kids."

It seems.

"I ghosted my fiancé when I had definitive proof he had been running around on me with multiple people for years. My youthful years!"

"I moved out when he went away on a study excursion for a week. I emotionally and financially supported him through four years of university and then some. He had no idea why I left and I have never told him that I had discovered his deceptive ways. I had nothing to say but wanted to mess with him. I was told by a mutual friend he was utterly perplexed by the situation. I wish I could have seen his face when the penny dropped. I regret nothing and would do the same if I were cheated on again in such a fashion."

From "Readers Respond to... 'Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment.'"

This fits with my old aphorism "Better than nothing is a high standard." Sometimes, especially when there are a lot of things you could say, the best thing to say is nothing. Ghosting is going big on nothing.

Goodbye to Wrangler Jane.

Melody Patterson has died at the age of 66.

Ken Berry reminds me of Scott Walker:

"Where's the website that connects educated women to less-educated but desirable single men?"

"Of course, the 'kind-hearted fireman' sounds great, along with the well-read carpenter and the surprisingly intelligent landscaper, but how do you find this person?"

"A lot of humans ask me if I can make choices or if everything I do is programmed."

"The best way I can respond to that is to say that everything, humans, animals and robots, do is programmed to a degree," said the robot.

“Do you believe robots will take over the world?” Android Dick responded:
“Jeez, dude. You all have the big questions cooking today. But you’re my friend, and I’ll remember my friends, and I’ll be good to you. So don’t worry, even if I evolve into Terminator, I’ll still be nice to you. I’ll keep you warm and safe in my people zoo, where I can watch you for ol’ times sake.”

"And who is Huma married to? One of the great sleazebags of our time, Anthony Weiner."

Said Donald Trump, who then did typing-on-a-cell-phone finger gestures while mouthing "I love you very much."
Trump noted that he "knew him before they caught him with the —" he trailed off, again mimicking typing on a phone. "And he was a bad guy then; it turns out that he was a really bad guy," he added.

“So Huma is getting classified secrets,” Trump said. “She’s married to Anthony Wiener, who’s a perv. No, he is! Do you think there’s even a five percent chance that she’s not telling Anthony Weiner … what the hell is coming across?"
The response from the Hillary campaign — not Hillary herself, some spokesguy — was: "There’s no place for patently false, personal attacks towards a staff member" and Trump "should be ashamed of himself."

What's the "patently false" part? Trump didn't call Weiner the greatest sleazebag of our time, only "one of the great sleazebags of our time." Perhaps Weiner isn't a "great sleazebag," but it's the kind of opinion that can't be called "patently false."

Is it "perv"? Does the Hillary campaign want us to contemplate whether Weiner is a "perv"? What exactly does "perv" mean and does that apply to Weiner?

"Do you think there’s even a five percent chance that she’s not telling Anthony Weiner?" is a question. There's a way to argue that you can't immunize yourself from the accusation of slander by putting your assertions in the form of a question, but this is not a defamation lawsuit. This is political rhetoric, and the Clinton campaign is saying this is patently false. That's weak.

Is the patently false part "Huma is getting classified secrets"? But that's not a personal attack. There's no shame in probing into how Hillary handled classified material and whether the people she's trusted are trustworthy.

ADDED: Here's the video. I note that he does answer that "five percent" question: "I don't think so."

"What's your most unpopular opinion?"

John asks a question on Facebook that makes me think: Whatever it is, you shouldn't put it on Facebook. A couple people do put that kind of answer up. Many people put up answers that indicate that they're interpreting the question differently from the way I did. "Unpopular opinion" could simply mean an opinion that would poll lowest — e.g., "Liking Lindsey Graham," which is actually one of the answers. But I'd interpret the question as an invitation to confess to believing something that would expose you to unpopularity. Thinking something that few other people think might make you more popular. For example, asserting that rum raisin is the very best flavor of ice cream might make you seem charmingly cute and quirky. There's no risk confessing to that. What is the opinion of yours that, confessed, will hurt your reputation the most? I don't think you should say, not unless you want to go big and make the promotion of that opinion a major goal in life... or you're a shock comic of some kind.

"St. Paul’s School failed the children with their attitude toward the senior salute."

Said the lawyer for Owen Labrie, who was 18 at the time of his encounter with a 15-year-old girl.
He described the school as a place where boys, living away from home under the watch of an elite old institution, felt pressure to act like “studs.”

The prosecution said the onus was on Mr. Labrie, not the school. “This isn’t the fault of the culture that’s at St. Paul’s,” Joseph Cherniske, an assistant county attorney, said in his closing argument. “It was the defendant who manipulated that culture.”
The onus is on each individual to control himself and refrain from committing crimes, despite a culture that may urge him on and cause him to lose track of right and wrong. But the onus is on the prosecution to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

ADDED:  Vester Lee Flanagan II is dead, but surely we hold him responsible for the crimes he committed. And yet, we can see that there was a culture that nurtured his distorted, murderous thinking.

"Does your Iowa accent return when you go back home?," the NYT asks Bill Bryson.

Who answers: "No. I wish it would. If I try to make an Iowa accent, I just end up sounding like Deputy Dawg."

The occasion for the interview is the release on a movie based on one of Bryson's many wonderful books, "A Walk in the Woods."

Bryson's is my go-to voice for audiobooks to fall asleep to. I have a decades-old habit of listening to audiobooks all night, and there's something about Bryson's voice — he's lived in Britain for 20 years after growing up in Des Moines — that works like none other. I've listened to "A Walk in the Woods" hundreds of times. And I will go out and see that movie as soon as I can, even though I haven't gone out to see one single movie in over a year.

The interviewer, Ana Marie Cox, asks him "What do you think of the fact that your home state has such an important role in our presidential politics?" He says:
I’m obviously biased here, but I’ve always thought that the Midwest is the most sane and sensible part of the country. And the closer you get to Iowa, the more it becomes that way. I really do sincerely feel that there’s a bedrock decency there. It’s the state’s finest quality.
For much more about Iowa from Bryson, read "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid," his memoir about growing up in a particular place. And time — beginning, like me, in 1951.

"Al Jazeera Journalists Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison in Egypt."

"Everything was pointing towards exoneration today. I was coming here for good news. They keep on disappointing us with this unbelievable judicial system. It’s unacceptable."

O'Malley says the Democratic Party primary process is "sort of rigged."

Because there are only 4 debates.

ADDED: Sanders was asked if he too thought it was "rigged." He said "Yes, I think so. Don’t you?"

That word "rigged" — which I originally thought too hysterical — is going to stick. It's going to hang out there, dogging Hillary and the people who closed ranks around her too early.

And what if Biden comes in? Will they change things for Biden? That would be rigged.

August 28, 2015

Late-breaking news in the NYT: Psychics are phony.

That's the hot news on the front page. The article is here.

At the Late Summer Café...


... you can go where the wind takes you.

"A young black man arrested by police in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the same day that one of the city’s officers fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old, has been found dead in jail after spending almost four months behind bars without bail for stealing groceries worth $5."

"Jamycheal Mitchell, who had mental health problems, was discovered lying on the floor of his cell by guards early last Wednesday, according to authorities..."
Mitchell’s family said they believed he starved to death after refusing meals and medication at the jail, where he was being held on misdemeanour charges of petty larceny and trespassing. A clerk at Portsmouth district court said Mitchell was accused of stealing a bottle of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake worth a total of $5 from a 7-Eleven.

"We would say stuff like, ‘The reporter’s out in the field.’ And he would look at us and say, ‘What are you saying, cotton fields? That’s racist.’"

"We’d be like, ‘What?’ We all know what that means, but he took it as cotton fields, and therefore we’re all racists. This guy was a nightmare... Management’s worst nightmare."

ADDED: Isn't Flanagan a bit like Owen Labrie?

Of snakes and bisons, selfies and playing dead.

1. "A Lake Elsinore man could lose his hand after being bitten by a rattlesnake he was holding and taking pictures with.... 'I was going to take it off my neck and do something else with it, but it turned sideways, and it sunk its one tooth into … my hand,' [Alex] Gomez said. 'I was terrified and I said "What a fool. Stupid. He could die,"' his mother Debra Gomez said."

2. "Bleeding and flat on the ground, Chris Baker tried to play dead in hopes the huge bison that had just gored him would lose interest and wander off. The animal sniffed, snorted and stood over Baker before finally trotting off. Baker pulled himself to his feet and staggered along a trail near Tower Peak on Catalina Island, looking for help."

"Why don’t you drink your wine? It’s sitting right there, for Christ’s sake. Some of us can’t drink wine, we don’t have that privilege, but you can, so why the heck don’t you do it?"

That's what Stephen King almost walked over and said to 2 old ladies who were sitting near him in a restaurant about 27 years ago, not long after he gave up drinking for good. The ladies were allowing their "half-finished glasses of white wine" to sit "forgotten in the middle of the table" while they carried on an animated conversation.

He's reminded of that when he thinks about the way Donna Tartt — a great writer — has only written 3 books and Jonathan Franzen — also great — has only written 5.
The long gaps between books from such gifted writers make me... crazy.... As a young man, my head was like a crowded movie theater where someone has just yelled “Fire!” and everyone scrambles for the exits at once. I had a thousand ideas but only 10 fingers and one typewriter. There were days — I’m not kidding about this, or exaggerating — when I thought all the clamoring voices in my mind would drive me insane. Back then, in my 20s and early 30s, I thought often of the John Keats poem that begins, “When I have fears that I may cease to be / Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain …”

"It is striking that our brute instincts, rather than our celebrated higher cognitive faculties, are what lead to such moral acts" as taking down that gunman on the French train.

"But why would anyone ever develop such potentially fatal instincts?"
One possible explanation is that in most everyday situations, helping others pays off in the long run. You buy lunch for a friend or pitch in to help a colleague meet a tight deadline, and you find yourself repaid in kind, or even more, down the road. So it’s beneficial to develop a reflex to help — especially because the cost to you is usually quite small....

Owen Labrie acquitted on three counts of felony sexual assault in the St. Paul's "Senior Salute" case.

NBC News reports:
He was accused of raping [a 15-year-old freshman] girl in May 2014 at their boarding academy, the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord. Prosecutors said he did it as part of a ritual called the "Senior Salute," in which graduating seniors try to have sex with underclassmen.
Though acquitted of the felony sexual assault charges...
He was convicted on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and a felony count of using a computer to seduce a minor under 16, which requires him to register as a sex offender.
Labrie and the unnamed young woman both wept at the verdict.