August 20, 2014

"My husband's transition forced me to make emotional and sexual transitions of my own. As his breasts developed..."

"... I didn't want to touch my partner's chest anymore and the female hormones destroyed his libido.... The sexual side of our relationship faded.... While sex was a major part of our early relationship, we now rely on deeper forms of intimacy. We connect through deep discussions, mutual discovery and respect, caring and generosity. We focus on non-sexual ways of expressing love - cuddling, gentle caresses, holding hands. These interactions became more critical to our relationship than frequent sexual expression."

From "I’m a straight woman married to a woman. It hasn’t been easy. My husband became a woman and our marriage is stronger than ever." The author, Leslie Hilburn Fabian, is a social worker/psychotherapist. She reveals in the first paragraph that when she met the man she married, he was wearing makeup and a dress and it was at a "a gathering" — is that a party or something else? — hosted by an "expert on transgenderism." Those facts make this case quite different from a situation where someone is completely blindsided by her spouse and had previously shown no interest in the transgender movement.

August 19, 2014

Cool grass.


Cool dog.


Photos by me, not Meade. Just because it's a dog doesn't mean it's by Meade. But Meade has a new post up over at The Puparazzo. It's called "Plott Hounds." Notice Otis. And his companion Maeble. Over there. But here, it's good old Zeus, cooling off in the luscious, Meade-made lawn.

"Grumbling by lawmakers about a president is nothing unusual. But what is striking now is the way prominent Democrats’ views of Mr. Obama’s shortcomings..."

"... are spilling out into public, and how resigned many seem that the relationship will never improve," reports the NYT.
In private meetings, Mr. Reid’s chief of staff, David Krone, has voiced regular dismay to lawmakers and top aides about White House operations and competency across a range of issues, according to several Democrats on Capitol Hill....

Asked to characterize his relationship with the president, [Senator Joe Manchin III, of West Virginia], a centrist Democrat who has often been a bridge builder in the Senate, said: “It’s fairly nonexistent. There’s not much of a relationship.”

Few senators feel a personal connection to the president.
ADDED: This article is another sign that the media agenda refocused onto 2016 and Hillary Clinton. Note the 3 references to Bill Clinton:
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, said that compared with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Mr. Obama “is more self-contained, less gregarious.”...

Unlike Mr. Clinton, who worked hard as a candidate to court every Democrat he could...

Mr. Obama would never be a “creature of Washington” like Mr. Clinton. “I don’t think that was ever in the cards, and I still don’t,” Mr. Durbin said.

St. Louis police shoot and kill a man who yelled "Shoot me, kill me now."

This happened today, not far from Ferguson.

ADDED: Was this a "suicide by cop" situation? Did the knife-wielding man think that the police were so intimidated by the criticism after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson that it had become possible to taunt the police in an exciting new way? Perhaps the police should have shown immense restraint here and even risked taking some knife-slashings for the sake of some good PR.

But I await a full, factual account.

AND: From the NYT report, a 21-year-old citizen is quoted saying: "Even if this is a legitimate shooting, they are going to capitalize on this and try to use it for their martial law agenda." But it must also be true that even if this is a legitimate shooting, those who are protesting the police will try to use it for their agenda.

"Why Obama won’t give the Ferguson speech his supporters want."

A headline for an Ezra Klein piece that really should have the second and third words reversed. It's a good question, but Ezra only poses as capable of answering it. I can think of 10 other answers to the question, but I'm writing this on an iPad.

ADDED: I've returned to my desktop, as you can see by the addition of tags, so I feel I should make good on my assertion that I have 10 other answers. I'll publish them as I proceed, beginning with one that is a tag.

1. Obama is bland. It's a tag on this blog that I've been using since April 21, 2009: "Yes. As in his campaign, Obama is very bland. For some reason — possibly vaguely racist — Americans liked the bland. But at some point, bland is not what you want." I have 55 posts with that tag. His fans may not want to believe it, but I've been observing it all along, and it's part of why I voted for him in 2008. I don't like demagogues.

2. Ezra speaks of Obama's 2008 "Race Speech" as the sort of speech that his opponents long for, but go back and read it. It's studded with lines like "The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons," and "Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity...." We may remember that speech as extremely powerful, but it was assurance of Obama's moderation. Supporters want what they feel they got in the past but their memory of the past is distorted.

3. The "Race Speech" was crucial to Obama's 2008 campaign. A lot of work went into crafting that speech: "... Obama dictated a lengthy draft of this speech to [Jon] Favreau, who edited the speech the next day. Obama stayed up until 3:00 a.m. Sunday night working on the speech, and continued to work on it Monday and in the early hours of Tuesday." Favreau isn't there anymore, and I don't think Obama has the time or motivation to put that much personal effort into a speech about Ferguson.

4. The Jeremiah Wright crisis in 2008 required a direct, decisive response from the candidate. There was no option of standing back and seeing whether things might work out all right without his intrusion and interference. But when he has the option to lead from behind, that's his style.

5. Obama doesn't want a replay of the Skip Gates fiasco, where he blurted out that the police "acted stupidly," when he didn't really know the the facts, and it turned out that what the police did was not stupid at all. In the case of the Ferguson incident, we don't know the facts. Today, I'm seeing: "Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop's version of events in shooting #Ferguson." (Ezra Klein brings up Skip Gates, but doesn't mention that Obama got the facts wrong because he spoke too soon, only that "the White House no longer believes Obama can bridge divides.")

6. Michael Brown was no Trayvon Martin. Obama said "Trayvon could have been my son." And "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago." But he can't (won't) say that about Brown. Yes, he could talk more generally about how racial profiling — real or feared — makes people feel and that's what the protests in Ferguson express and that matters even if Michael Brown strong-armed a shopkeeper and even if he threatened the police officer who killed him. But that's not the speech Obama supporters supposedly want. There is no cherubic boy with Skittles and iced tea. There's a very large, adult man with stolen cigars. It's harder to say deeply empathic things about Brown. And Obama cannot make that personal I-am-Trayvon kind of statement.

7. Obama must help his party in the Fall elections. I think this is the key graphic, the fight for the U.S. Senate. The toss-up states are Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisana, Michigan, and North Carolina. Whatever Obama says now must be calibrated for the effect in these states. Will emotive racial politics carry the Democratic Party through to November? Perhaps that seems like a risky bet.

8. Obama's tired.

9. "On December 11, 2006, I quoted Obama saying: 'I think to some degree I’ve become a shorthand or symbol or stand-in for a spirit....' I liked him for saying that. It was honest. I thought he'd have become something specific, and I'm amused to see that I added: 'Wouldn't it be funny if he didn't?'" I wrote that on February 18, 2008 in a post titled "Why I'm voting for Obama in the Wisconsin primary." It must get wearisome being America's shorthand or symbol or stand-in for so long, wearisome for all of us, and he knows it. Maybe not speaking is the best expression at this point in our long journey.

10. A truly brilliant speech about Ferguson — if he had the will and the time to craft the perfect statement — would not be what his supporters want, but something more difficult, challenging, and surprising.

"You have to focus on brain maturation... This generation of kids wants good brains; they want to get into better schools."

"Talk to a junior or senior about whether marijuana use shaves a couple points off their SATs, and they will listen to you."

"A rash of relatively convoluted, thoroughly unsexy political scandals involving governors is moving through the country."

A reader pointed me to what he called "A very intellectually dishonest column by Catherine Rampell of the Wash Post," and I'm stuck on the second sentence. A convoluted, thoroughly unsexy rash moving through the country.

I think Rampell's point is something like: Sex scandals are attention-getting and easy to understand, and complicated, unsexy matters are not, so governors accused of nonsexual misdoings have been getting away with things. 

She ignores the alternative that governors have opponents who would like to drag them down by making accusations that will wreck the governor's momentum whether there are any real crimes in that convoluted, unsexy mess or not. And ordinary people don't want to look at the convoluted, unsexy rash anyway, so the opponents are counting on the instinctive aversion. Ick! Find someone else. This guy is tainted.

(Criminalization of politics is a new tag, and I can't go back and add it everywhere it belongs.)

The trouble with photo IDs.

The people who check them aren't much good at telling whether the person they're looking at matches the photo. And:
Facial recognition is easier for some than others, and there's a broad range of ability. Many people don't even realize they have some degree of "face blindness" until they read a description of the neurological quirk, and others (myself included!) have notable difficulties with facial memory. But the idea that the agent checking passports might be unable to tell people apart is a bit worrisome. In response to this particular study, the Australian Passport Office now uses facial matching tests during its staff recruitment process.
Poor ability to recognize faces makes you seem uncaring, so I would think many people would deny that they have this problem and would develop strategies for avoiding letting it show — to others and even to themselves. If someone seems as though they recognize you, do you act like you probably know them and talk to them for a while to get some clues who they are? Do you have anxiety that a person of a different race may accuse you of thinking that black/Asian/etc. people all look alike to you and you won't sound credible saying that everyone looks too much alike to you?

There's such sympathy for the blind, but none for the prosopagnosiacs. But if it's real and there are no prescription glasses that can fix it, we should be open to ourselves and others about the condition. It's not like the ability to remember names, which really is evidence of uncaring. (Or is the inability to remember names a condition? If it is, the condition would have a name, and the people with the condition might forget it.)

Anyway, I think the linked article (in The Washington Post) is part of an agenda to defeat photo ID requirements. If professional passport officials aren't even good, why would those people who work at your local polling place be reliable? But I'm interested in the larger question of our different and hard-to-perceive disabilities. And now I'm perceiving a related subject: our different levels of ability to perceive that another person has a hard-to-perceive disability.

Anti-Paul Ryan bookstore mischief.

This arrived in my email inbox:
Erica Payne via
3:01 AM (5 hours ago)

to me
Hi Ann,

Just a heads up, Paul Ryan's new book comes out today and his publisher is furious! It turns out that they accidentally shipped it with the wrong cover, and they need your help to make things right.

We have the correct cover and it's up to us to get it on as many of his books as possible, as soon as possible. The real cover is right here. Just print it out, take it to your nearest bookstore, and place it over the book jacket. Rep. Ryan is counting on us, let's not let him down!

Remember to email us at with any pictures you take of the corrected covers, and share them on social media with the tag #SaveGranny. We'll let the publisher know you helped them out!


Erica Payne
Agenda Project Action Fund
At the link:

Here's the actual book (which you can buy at Amazon):

ADDED: The Agenda Project Action Fund was responsible for the ad — in the 2012 election — that showed Paul Ryan pushing a elderly woman off a cliff in a wheelchair:

What do you think of this in-store bookcover activism? (Check as many as you want.) free polls 

FINALLY: If this discussion sounds a little familiar, you may be thinking of our recent discussion of Instagramming in-store activism in protest of the Hobby Lobby decision.

BEYOND FINALLY: I checked that hashtag at Twitter and found that it's already being used for all manner of non-Paul-Ryan-related things like this:

August 18, 2014

The Rick Perry indictment is "not a joke, and it isn't a farce, and it's not a laughing matter."

"It is exactly what the Democrat Party is. It is exactly what the Republican Party's been up against for years and refuses to recognize, push back against, or do anything," says Rush Limbaugh.
When I first heard this over the weekend, I can't tell you how outraged I was.  Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and now Rick Perry. Three potential Republican presidential nominees, all smeared, all targeted via indictment and criminal charges simply because of political differences.  

The media will see to it that from now on, for the rest of his life, every news story featuring Rick Perry will have the word "indicted" in it. In the first paragraph. Every story, for the rest of his life! Every other headline: "The indicted governor, formally indicted. Acquitted, yes, but still indicted."  Remember, now, we're talking [a] presidential candidate.
I appreciated this outrage, because I could feel in myself a creeping sensation of: Oh, well, Rick Perry was never that good anyway. We marginalize someone, set him aside, consign him to the dustbin of damaged candidates. Since I didn't like Rick Perry anyway, it's easy for me to let him slide into irrelevance. But this criminalization of politics is really wrong, and every time it works to take out a candidate, it makes it more likely that it will be done again and again. So, as I said, I appreciated the outrage from Rush. It's not a joke, and it shouldn't be a joke even to people who think Rick Perry is a joke. I mean, I laugh at this every time:

But the criminalization of politics is not a joke.

The dean candidate who got kicked out in the middle of his job talk tells his story.

I was just asking "What's the whole story behind the anecdote that begins Paul Campos's Atlantic article 'The Law-School Scam'"? That now has this update:
David Frakt has a long blog post at The Faculty Lounge detailing what he said that day he was so rudely interrupted. Does it answer my question? He doesn't know what the faculty were texting and emailing or what Stone was thinking. What could have been perceived as "insulting"? In his account: "I explained that, according to my interpretation of LSAT scores... over half of the students in the 2013 entering class at FCSL [fell] in the 'extreme risk' of failure category." I don't know the precise words or tone of voice he used, but conceivably, the statistics are so horrible that it felt intolerably insulting just to hear the facts stated. Frakt said he "suggested that it was unfair, ethically questionable, and a potential violation of ABA standards to admit students with such poor aptitude for the study of law," and he predicted that the ABA might put the school on probation, which would drive students away and exacerbate the problem. That's pretty frightening, but it's still not enough to justify cutting off his talk. It may nevertheless make Stone's unwise reaction comprehensible.

This is a metaphor for something.

"Man Gets Stuck In A High Chair & Can’t Get Out, So He Takes Off His Pants...."

Comic manscaping.

The chest-hair bikini craze.

And for the ladies: fangs.

"But regardless of how strong the charges against Perry are, it is worth noting how fitting they are."

"Put simply, the case against Perry points to an aspect of his political persona that is well known in Texas but has too often been overlooked in the national portrayal of Perry."

From a piece at The New Republic titled "The Charges Against Rick Perry Are Thin. But They Are Also Clarifying." It's by Alec MacGillis, who's written numerous TNR articles about Scott Walker, including "The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker" (which is the only one I took the trouble to read and blog about).

ADDED: Thin but clarifying is like fake but accurate.

"A person claiming to be the thief who stole about $1 million worth of accessories and jewelry from Texas socialite Theresa Roemer's famous three-story closet..."

"... sent the Houston Press a package with a few items as proof. The burglar allegedly demanded $500,000 from Roemer after discovering that the goods were knockoffs."

1. So... a lady has a famous closet.

2. If the goods were, in fact, knockoffs, it wasn't "$1 million worth of accessories and jewelry," was it?

3. A burglar, it seems, has contacted his victim to extort money from her lest he expose her as a phony, flaunting expensive-looking goods that aren't what they appear to be, and he thinks his silence might be worth $500,000 to her? If she had that kind of money to throw around, why was she buying fakes? I guess the answer to that last question could be: Her game is quantity, not quality. Why else would you have a 3-story closet and do what was needed to make the closet famous? If you had genuinely expensive things, you probably wouldn't call attention to where you were storing them.

4. The top comment at the link is: "Sounds like an insurance scam heading south."

5. Newspapers seem to have settled on the term "she-cave," but I'm also seeing "female man-cave." Why not the parallelism of "woman cave." Looking back at material that predates the Roemer incident, I'm seeing a lot of repetitions of a joke in the form of asking: If men have something called a "man cave," what is the female equivalent? Answer: The rest of the house.

6. As I was typing in my search "what's the female equivalent of...," Google tried to help with the following suggestions: cockblock, a bromance, a neckbeard, and phallic.

7. Among the alternative terms for female man-cave: Ma'am Cave, Estrogen Den, A Room of One’s Own, and Ovarium. That's from a blog post that takes the idea of a special women's room seriously. That is, it's not just a big closet, a very nice bathroom, or the old "rest of the house" joke. But what is in that room? It seems to be either a room with feminine colors and furniture, set up for conversation or reading, or a space for doing Martha Stewart-type crafts. Not that some men don't love that sort of thing. Here's David Rakoff in "Martha, My Dear":
I have a cupboard in my living room, a freestanding armoire that holds, among a ton of other stuff, the following supplies. Six stamp pads, rubber linoleum printing blocks, seven boxes of Chinese flash cards, bindery fabric sample books from the garbage of the carpet and tile store on 20th, acrylic paints-- approximately 40 tubes-- rhinestones, pearl buttons, architectural balsa wood, pipe cleaners, and a tin cracker box of golf tees. Quantity, approximately 1,000 assorted colors.

I make stuff. Boxes, lamps, mirrors, small folding screens, painted jackets for kids, that kind of thing. It's what I do in my spare time. Some people need to exercise every day, my salvation lies in time spent alone with an X-acto knife and commercial-grade adhesive.
8. The female equivalent of cockblock is "clam jam." The female equivalent of bromance is "womance." The female equivalent of phallic is "Perhaps women are not so neatly summed up." And the female equivalent of neckbeard is:
If the neckbeard uniform is a fedora, a stanky Slayer tee, and cargo pants, I'd say the female equivalent is webbed fingerless gloves, an ill-fitting corset worn over a stained t-shirt, and anime pins on her backpack/cargo messenger bag. I think we've all went to school with this girl before.

"A feisty 82-year-old Uptown woman was hauled to court for spray-painting a fence built by her next-door neighbor — a high-ranking federal prosecutor..."

"... as part of a raging dispute over the property line between their brownstones."
Great-granny Sylvia Kordower-Zetlin has been warring with Arlo Devlin-Brown, the newly appointed chief of the Public Corruption Unit in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office — but prosecutors say she crossed the line when she tagged the backyard fence that separates the properties on W. 113th St.
1. Who's right about the property line? I couldn't figure it out. Which side of the fence did she spray paint? Her side? I couldn't figure that out.

2. "Public Corruption Unit"? Where have I heard that phrase before?

3. Must every old person who stands up for herself be called "feisty"? It's as if old people are all Grampa Simpson — bursting with expressive emotion but without reliable alignment to the actual real-world facts. Is this old lady right that the fence is on her land or not?

4. If you have a confused octogenarian neighbor who's worked up about something you've done, something that you have a right to do, like put up a fence, how should you handle that? Would your answer be any different if you were "a high-ranking federal prosecutor"? (The old woman says: "I’m a widow and he works for the (government)... He should be protecting me, not getting me arrested." (What did the woman say that got translated into "government"?).)

5. Why does The Daily News say the woman has been "battling Arlo Devlin-Brown" and "warring with Arlo Devlin-Brown" when it has quotes not from Devlin-Brown but from his wife Daniela Kempf: "We have a beautiful home and we would enjoy it a lot more if she weren’t making our lives hell... She takes pictures of us whenever we come outside.... She gets on a ladder (and) yells, 'Bastards! Bastards!'" Something more newsworthy about an old widow fighting a federal prosecutor? Two women fighting seems trivial or ridiculous — a "catfight"?

6. The prosecutor's wife is a professor at Barnard. She teaches Public Speaking and Rhetorical Choices and has written a book called "Argument & Audience: Presenting Debates in Public Settings." I wonder what she thinks of the presentation of the debate about the fence: the forefronting of her husband's role, the way her own remarks look in print (especially the irrelevant "beautiful home"), the ability of the old lady to portray herself as a lovable underdog (posing for a photographs, including one displaying the spray can), the commenters at the news site, the lawprof blogging....

August 17, 2014

California lady comes to Madison, Wisconsin and gets kicked in the face by a giraffe.

Stay home, coastal people. It's just too dangerous up here in the hinterlands.

"A friend of mine who, early in her law school career, realized she hated law, but..."

"... was too failure-phobic to drop out, used to say, as we toiled away at document review and the like, that she gladly would have spent the three years she 'wasted' at the law firm to pay off her law school debts instead in a debtors prison, so long as they allowed her sufficient reading material. I found her logic difficult to refute."

That's a comment by Wasteland Fan on a post of mine — "Sometimes I envy people who are in prison simply because they have a lot of free time to read" — from October 2005. The post title is a quote from a blog that's not public anymore, so the link is dead. And I see that Meade – my now-husband, whom I would meet a few years later — is the second commenter on that thread.

Anyway, I was reading that post as a consequence of some searches I'd been doing this morning after embedding "Prisoner's Song" on a post about walls and open floor plans in interior design. "Prisoner's Song" is the one with the line "Now, if I had the wings of an angel/Over these prison walls I would fly/And I'd fly to the arms of my darling/And there I'd be willing to die."

"Once the definition of rape was expanded to include more than just penetration..."

"... it became clear that men and women were equally likely to be raped, and more importantly, equally likely to be rapists."

So much for expanding definitions.

"So Mr Joy, you say our tower is totally dodgy and might fall down, what is your solution?"

"An enormous angry owl."

From "Great Mistakes in English Medieval architecture." Via Metafilter.