September 19, 2014

"I decided since then to trust myself as the arbiter of what’s 'enough' and have turned down plenty of offers since, and because I have yet to feel any sexual attraction to anyone..."

"... I have never allowed anyone else to talk me into anything I know I don’t desire. I think I’d recognize it if it happened to me. Most other people find it unmistakable. If a food smells delicious to everyone else but bland or bad to me, I don’t owe anyone the demonstration of actually eating it before I’m 'allowed' to say I don’t want to eat the dish."

From "You’re about as sexually attractive to me as a turtle: Coming out as asexual in a hypersexual culture," by Tracy Clark-Flory. I appreciated the analogy, because I have another "a-" — anosmia. And I've long observed the difficulty of achieving awareness of the separation between what you actually want and what everyone else seems to act like they agree that everyone wants.

And I've also been thinking a lot lately about the one-sidedness of much of the propaganda that we're exposed to. The pro-sex propaganda in our culture — like the pro-travel propaganda and the pro-education propaganda — is pervasive, and the anti- arguments are scarcely seen. That doesn't mean there aren't cogent things to say on the other side, just that people are not finding it in their to put effort into exposing that side. So I like when someone is inspired to correct the balance. It can help all of us think more clearly about what we really want.

Also: Clark-Flory explains — intelligently — how masturbation is not necessarily inconsistent with asexuality. Asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual desire directed at anyone. Think about it. You might try to say that if the purported asexual masturbates, she's experiencing sexual desire directed at herself, but that doesn't make sense, because we don't normally talk that way about masturbation, otherwise we would think of all masturbation as homosexual.

"How U2 became the most hated band in America."

U2's Songs of Innocence "was released as part of Apple’s keynote event, dished out to iTunes subscribers for free."
The album reportedly cost Apple $100 million, a figure the company is likely to eat. Rather than generating the kind of hype Apple is accustomed to, Songs of Innocence generated a huge Twitter backlash, with the company posting a guide on how to remove the album from your library on its support page. Most damningly, Wired’s Vijith Assar called the “devious giveaway” no better than “spam.”
Actually, he said it was "Even Worse Than Spam."

"There have been times when I wanted children and other times I've been grateful not to have them."

"I am a mess if I have to say goodbye to my dog for longer than five days. I don't know how I would deal with kissing my children as I left for work. I know there are women who are able to do that. I don't know if I could."

From "25 Famous Women on Childlessness." Interesting to read the whole collection, because so many of them, like the one above, express the old-fashioned belief — not straight out, but implicitly — that a woman must choose between a career and motherhood.

Does the male gynecologist need to explain himself?

Apparently. 10 do.

One reason is you get to restrict your practice to females. One doctor said men were bad patients. Another didn't like "old patients and chronic conditions that never seemed to be cured" or (rejecting pediatrics) "the annoying parents of healthy kids!" Some feel comfortable around women: "I grew up with six sisters, and so I was used to having my life revolve around estrogen, ovulation, and hormones." Perhaps slightly weirdly interested: "The female body is a metaphor for her womanhood, and I am granted access to her whole identity. That’s a great honor."

Others liked the cheerful context of mostly healthy patients in mostly happy times: "I’m kind of freaked out by sickness and death," "the miracle of giving birth … that never gets old," "delivering babies was just about the coolest thing ever."

Then there's the career opportunity that's leveraged on the very suspicion that keeps many men out of this specialty:
I was nervous about being a young, male gynecologist. Frankly, I worried I’d have no patients. But I’ve learned that some women still prefer male doctors, and it’s not for the reasons you might think. They say men are more sensitive on average, more responsive to their concerns. I’ve heard that men are better at pelvic exams because we’re so terrified of causing discomfort that we’re obsessively gentle. Male doctors are less dismissive of a woman’s problems because everything sounds so terrifying and horrifying to us since we don’t go through it. Like, tell us your period is heavy and we feel awful about it! There are people who aren’t allowed to have a male doctor … mostly Muslim … and teenage girls and young women who have not yet had a baby are more likely to want a female … but once a woman has pushed out a kid, it’s like, “Who gives a crap?!” From a recruiting perspective, male gynecologists are a minority, and programs are interested in us — straight men in particular — to reinforce the notion that men still belong in the field, and it’s not just women-to-women care that matters. Focusing on women-to-women care superimposes that there’s a sexual element there, and that makes us think of medicine the wrong way.
That last point is especially intelligent. Gynecological health care is not sexual, and having only female gynecologists sends the message that it is.

Senate votes 78-22 for Obama's anti-ISIS plan.

Among the "no" votes: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Elizabeth Warren.

From earlier in the day, Jeremy W. Peters in the NYT: "ISIS Vote Weighs Heavily on Senators With 2016 Ambitions."
In a speech before the vote on Thursday, Mr. Paul tried to square his belief that America cannot be the world’s policeman with his more hawkish statements lately in support of military action. “I’m not sending your son, your daughter over to the middle of that chaos,” he said. “The people who live there need to stand up and fight. I am not giving up. But it is their war, and they need to fight.”...

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas [said:] “I do not support arming the rebels in Syria because the administration has presented no coherent plan for distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys"....
Peters has nothing from Elizabeth Warren, and I'm puzzled that he ends his article by quoting Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin (whom I've never heard spoken of as a presidential prospect): "I have so many questions... I worry about an open-ended conflict." It's not as if that's a particularly interesting quote! Did the article originally quote Elizabeth Warren, then swap in another female Senator for some reason (to protect Warren, perhaps)?

After the push to restrict access to sugared drinks...

... suspicions turn to artificially sweetened drinks.

September 18, 2014

"So, the woman perhaps most responsible for putting the phrase 'war on women' into the political bloodstream is also now responsible for taking the rhetoric too far."

Writes Nia-Malika Henderson in a WaPo piece titled "How gender mattered in the rise and fall of Debbie Wasserman Schultz."

The "too far" incident is the one we discussed here on September 3rd: "Debbie Wasserman Schultz says: 'Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand' and 'What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.'" And, the next day: "The violent imagery deployed against Scott Walker by Debbie Wasserman Shultz is gendered — it's domestic violence." ("Wasserman Schultz can be accused of subtly purveying a rape metaphor.")

We've also been discussing Wasserman Schultz's problems in this post from last night: "Democrats tire of Debbie Wasserman Schultz — especially her efforts to get them to pay for her clothes," in which I say: "She served their gender-based interests in 2012, and that's not the thing this year, so they launch a gender-based attack on her?"

"Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant...."

"Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data...."
"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," Apple said on its Web site. "So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."
Apple doesn't know our passcodes? 

"Public university required students to submit sexual history or face disciplinary action."

"Clemson is requiring students and faculty to complete an online course through a third party website that asks invasive questions about sexual history."
“How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks one question.

“With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks another....

“I don’t know what they’re doing with the data, but I’ve been told time and time again that the data that they are collecting, they aren't analyzing or using the data for anything, so then I don’t understand why they’re asking the questions either,” the student, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the university, went on to say.
Sex and coercion.

"This dramatic announcement marks a sad and grim turn to the [Toronto Mayor Rob] Ford story, which always mixed tragic elements with heavy doses of the comic and the surreal."

"These are the sort of dark reversals of fortune which probably haunt all of us, either about our loved ones or ourselves. I would feel remiss not saying that this latest development somehow continues the surreal nature of this man's public story, larger than life, almost operatic in its improbability and drama, almost difficult to even believe."

Josh Marshall, having had his fun with Ford, seems to feel a need to perform in the Theater of Purple Prose. Me, I've always ignored Ford. I didn't care to amuse myself with him when he was supposedly so amusing. Now, we learn he is one of the millions of human beings with cancer alive in the world today, and there's nothing I would "feel remiss not saying." If there was, I guarantee I wouldn't use that phrase.

ADDED: Getting cancer is not "operatic in its improbability." It may be improbable in the sense that it's more likely than not that you don't have cancer, but the likelihood is enough that there's nothing "operatic" about your number coming up. Maybe Josh Marshall is thinking of opera because of the stereotype that opera singers are fat and Rob Ford is both fat and afflicted with cancer of the fat.

Why the U.S. opposes Scottish independence (though we can't say much about it).

CNN's Kevin Liptak explains.
All of Britain's nuclear weapons -- its only contribution to a Western nuclear deterrent -- are housed at the Royal Navy's base on Scotland's West Coast. A "yes" vote would throw into question the future of the Trident nuclear program, which consists of four Vanguard-class submarines armed with ballistic missiles on lease from the United States....

Also in dispute: an independent Scotland's ability -- and willingness -- to contribute to Western military coalitions, which have become ever-more visible as the U.S. rallies support behind its efforts against Russia and ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria....

In rejoining [NATO] Scotland would need to commit to spending 2% of its gross domestic product on defense spending, which given the uncertain economic outcome of an independence vote appears unachievable....

Perhaps the greatest fear for the United States is that a successful independence movement in Scotland could spark further movements in the rest of Europe. Potential breakaway regions in Spain and Belgium are already eyeing the Scottish vote carefully.
ADDED: "Is it really imaginable today that if part of the United States genuinely wanted to secede, it would be stopped with the kind of violence we saw in the American Civil War?"

"Even as a child, I didn't understand why Darren was so against using the magic."

Wrote MayBee in the comments to last night's post marking the 50th anniversary of the premiere of "Bewitched." I answered:
It's an allegory of relations between the sexes. Darren wants to provide for his wife and protect her. He can't do that if she has powers, or so he thinks. Instead of working together to find a new way to live in which the woman can use her full powers and the man can still feel empowered, he forbade her to use them and she tried to live like that, but she nevertheless acted out on her frustration from time to time, though only to help make their traditional life together work out.

"When parties of males encounter single individuals from other communities, they sometimes launch brutal assaults that leave victims gravely wounded or dead."

It's in their nature, those chimpanzees.

"If our parents had not forced us to marry at such a young age, our lives would be so different."

"Recently I spoke to a school friend who told me he was going to engineering college. The news left me feeling ashamed and pitiful.... would have liked to have gone to engineering school. If we were allowed to finish our educations, Rajkumari and I would have learned about family planning. Maybe I would have gone to college. Forcing children to marry doesn’t just push them deeper into poverty and threaten their health. It crushes their ambitions—whether they are girls or boys."

From "The Sad Hidden Plight of Child Grooms."

"Reading insecurity. It is the subjective experience of thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to."

"It is deploring your attention span and missing the flow, the trance, of entering a narrative world without bringing the real one along. It is realizing that if Virginia Woolf was correct to call heaven 'one continuous unexhausted reading,' then goodbye, you have been kicked out of paradise."

But you won't read the whole thing. You've just enjoyed this juicy morsel, and who wants Virginia Woolf's heaven anyway? Maybe my next morsel is better than reading that whole thing, that whole thing that's about reading the whole thing. I might satisfy you with something sharper and clearer, like: If Virginia Woolf really thought heaven was sitting around reading continuously, why didn't she stay in her room reading instead of heading out to drown herself?

Enough! That's all I want to say here. I've got another blog post to write. Up there, above this. It's a better place, I'm sure.

September 17, 2014

Democrats tire of Debbie Wasserman Schultz — especially her efforts to get them to pay for her clothes.

Politico reports.
Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming.

One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe. In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago.

She asked again around Obama’s inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser — and one-time Wasserman Schultz booster — Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop....  One more time, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, she tried again, asking for the DNC to buy clothing for the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Wasserman Schultz denies it. But what's going on here? Who are these sources that have it in for Debbie? She served their gender-based interests in 2012, and that's not the thing this year, so they launch a gender-based attack on her? It is a gender-based attack, don't you think? Is a woman behind this attack? The only name I see named is Valerie Jarrett. What's up with the Democratic Party? If you make women your stock in trade, you'd better watch out for women against women.

"A fetching suburban house­witch in the person of Elizabeth Montgomery ar­rived on the television screen last night in a series entitled 'Bewitched.'"

For "last night," read: 50 years ago tonight.
Both Miss Montgomery and [Dick] York are extremely at­tractive and personable and there is a durable element of fun in watching someone out of this world solve life's mundane problems by making them go away with a snap of the fingers or a twitch of the mouth....

Agnes Moorehead is play­ing Miss Montgomery's moth­er and, with more substan­tial scenes in the installments to come, should be a reward­ing figure as a senior witch given to disdain for human ways. “Bewitched” promises to be a bright niche of popu­lar TV.
And so it was, for 8 years. Note that the above-quoted NYT review accurately says "twitch of the mouth." We were tricked, perhaps by witchcraft, into thinking we were looking at a twitch of the nose.

MORE: Thoughts on why Darren didn't accept Samantha's use of witchcraft here.

"Remember that copyright litigation between Marvin Gaye and the folks behind Blurred Lines?"

"Well, Pharrell and Robin Thicke's depositions have now been made public, and let's just say that they perhaps didn't go so well...."

Joe Biden emails: "Hold your breath, Ann."

Yes, it's just another email from Who knows who decides which Democrat's name to use to heighten the impression that I'm getting personal attention? But these creepy subject lines!  "Hold your breath, Ann." And 2 days ago, I got one "from" Barack Obama with the subject line: "Almost out of time, Ann."

And the thing is: It's meant to be scary. Not scary in the way these words seem most clearly to evoke, like someone is trying to kill me. But scary in the sense that I'm supposed to feel threatened by the possibility that Republicans will win in the fall elections.

And by the way, where's the trigger alert? What if I — like many of the women pandered to by the Democrats' gender politics — was afraid of some stalker ex-boyfriend? Glancing at "Almost out of time, Ann" or "Hold your breath, Ann" in my inbox would horrify me. What the hell is wrong with these people? Where's the empathy?

"Deeply... it's such a poser word."

Said Meade, reading the previous post "The NYT poll reports terrible numbers for Democrats, but calls the Republcian Party 'deeply unpopular.'" It made me wish I'd had a tag on the word "deeply" all along. It's a metaphor, creating an image of abstract concepts in space. Where are you when you are "deeply in love"? There are so many trite usages — deeply in love, deeply disappointed, deeply religious, thinking deeply, deeply troubled, deeply concerned, deeply offended, deeply regret — and "deeply" is deeply embedded in constitutional law doctrine with the phrase "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition." But I'm interested in seeing how is "deeply" is deployed in various political and cultural statements, so I've searched this blog's archive, and here's the best of what I found:

1. "Beauty is a system of power, deeply rooted, preceding all others, richly rewarded," wrote Garace Franke-Ruta, explaining "Why Obama's 'Best-Looking Attorney General' Comment Was a Gaffe."

2. "During the period when [Althouse] rose to blogging prominence, conservatism as an ideology was deeply discredited and unpopular.... But if you look at her whole body of work, you can't escape the conclusion that she's deeply conservative."

3. Sarkozy said "I deeply enjoy the work" (of being President of France), and I said: "Wouldn't it be amusing if some day, a President resigned because he just wasn't enjoying the work — not deeply, anyway?"

4. Talking about libertarians, I said: "I am struck... by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I'm used to the way lefties and liberals take themselves seriously and how deeply they believe. Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening. And my first reaction is to doubt that they really do truly believe."

5. Last May, Tina Brown said: "Now that Chelsea is pregnant, and life for Hillary can get so deeply familial and pleasant, she can have her glory-filled post-presidency now, without actually having to deal with the miseries of the office itself..."

6. This John Stuart Mill passage came up in the context of a discussion about free speech: "Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

7. Something President Bush said in 2006: "It is deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another. I'm troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account. That's not the universal application of the values that I talked about."

8. "Clinton’s interest in global women’s issues is deeply personal, a mission she adopted when her husband was in the White House after the stinging defeat of her health care policy forced her to take a lower profile." [SEE ALSO: the use of "deeply personal" to refer to Sonia Sotomayor's dissent in a case about affirmative action. I find it deeply interesting when a woman's interest in an important issue is called "deeply personal." I'm reminded of the old feminist slogan "The personal is political," which I'm inclined to jocosely reword: "The deeply personal is deeply political."]

9. Somebody called Dahlia Lithwick "deeply frivolous" for what she said about the Supreme Court case known as "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," and I said: "I mean, if I were stoned I might be fascinated by the phrase 'deeply frivolous,' but I don't think Carney meant to divert us into contemplating an oxymoron."

10. A sociologist said: "I live on puns and snide, sarcastic asides. I don't look too deeply into myself or anyone else...  I drink a lot, take recreational drugs, don't care about much except being clever. I recently broke up with my girlfriend, and while I am eager to have sex, which I do often given the zillions of available women in New York, the sex is not especially fulfilling, and emotions rarely enter the picture. I am deeply shallow. And I know it."


11. One of Hillary Clinton's most famous quotes: "This video is disgusting and reprehensible.  It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."

12. A self-professed liberal says: "the liberal commitment to Roe has been deeply unhealthy — for American democracy, for liberalism, and even for the cause of abortion rights itself....  Roe puts liberals in the position of defending a lousy opinion that disenfranchised millions of conservatives on an issue about which they care deeply while freeing those conservatives from any obligation to articulate a responsible policy that might command majority support...."