Anything to avoid that thread about breasts. Did you ever notice that the first movements of the Dragonetti concerto and the Dittersdorf concerto have exactly one melodic idea, and it's the same? One big arpeggio, and then the noodling starts. Seriously, that's weak.
UPDATE: also, check this out:
George W. Bush might become the first President to dress up like all the members of the Village People. I touched the leatherman at a concert once, you know.
Video of Coulter's "faggot" comment is up. It reminds me that Coulter's shtick is basically stand-up comedy, but she somehow gets introduced as a real political analyst.
Edwards has the right response, putting the video on his own site and using it as a hook for contributions. But whoever wrote the page really needs to punch it up a bit.
We must show that inflaming prejudice to attack progressive leaders will only backfire.
Can you help us raise $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" this week to keep this campaign charging ahead and fight back against the politics of bigotry?
How about "Let's raise $100,000 this week to show that we're tired of hate." Seems like the only thing that might get Coulter off our TVs is the appearance that she helps the other side's fundraising.
The era of required registration is really putting a crimp in my Friday night personals surfing. Even bugmenot is no help. But I am enjoying the very angry EgyQueen at the Arab Lounge. "Arafat: Traitor" If she had magical powers she'd dismantle the US, and she wants to send the Jews to Alaska. (She lives in Toledo, naturally.) You go, girl.
In happier news, we rate a listing on lovetastic's "buzz" page. Now that's a dating site. I'm tempted to go all John Edwards just to use it. Actually, I really want to date the site itself, and nevermind all the needy lumps of flesh.
What does it take to move outside of polite society? Ann Coulter:
I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards.
The HRC calls for a condemnation. Better: fuck you, Ann. One of the many, many odd things about this is that Edwards doesn't set off the gaydar at all. Another is that she'll still be on TV.
Second thought: it would have been better, for career-ending purposes, if she'd made a parallel remark about Obama, though the two statements are equally loathsome.
Drum is running subscription week at the Washington Monthly, and I'm noting my own reaction: I have zippo interest in getting a magazine subscription, and I just skim those posts. But I would like to support the Monthly, so I suspect that if they just asked for a donation, I'd be happy to give them $30/year. (I'm pretty sure that my reaction would be the same even if the subscription were to a digital version, so we don't have to consider the hassles of recyling paper, etc.)
I wonder if economists have a name for this phenomenon, where someone is more willing to spend money if he gets nothing in return, because the value of the money spent is in the feeling that one is doing a good deed, rather than receiving goods or services.
So yesterday afternoon I was sitting in a partner's office who I've just started working with, and am getting on with like a house on fire -- he's a "Let's all sit around my office and shout legal theories at each other" guy and I'll do that all day. (It's funny, I get cowed and silent around formal, polite people -- I have a hard time being professionally assertive in a way that I'm certain won't be percieved as rude or overly forceful. Shouty people, on the other hand, are great.)
And we get off the case, and he starts talking about the immense weirdness of our firm (it is, objectively, organizationally very peculiar as law firms go for historical reasons), and then it starts getting into a dish session about the screwiness of other particular partners. And the thing is, I agree with him about the partners he's talking about, and have many well thought out and strong opinions, supported by vivid and entertaining anecdote. But I can't actually participate in a conversation like that -- there's no way I'm going to be badmouthing partners to another partner, particularly one I've only been working with for a week or two. So I stop talking, and start just nodding along with him and saying "Mmmm." And the conversation died awkwardly.
At this point in my career, I should have figured out how to balance political caution with being able to build professional relationships, but this kind of thing still trips me up all the time.
It's been a while since the Internet served up a total tool for us to enjoy. Meet Kenneth Eng.
Kenneth calls himself an "Asian-Supremacist," though he admits that Asians need to work some things out first. In his seminal Why I Hate Asians, he asks,
Whatever happened to the age of Sun Tzu when we used to kick ass?
It would be churlish to note that in the "age of Sun Tzu," Asians were mostly kicking each other's asses. Kenneth has other forms of ass-kicking in mind.
If I saw an Asian being stereotyped in a movie theater, I would immediately stand up and shout incessantly at the screen so that none of the white audience members could enjoy the film.
It would be churlish to note that one would be hard-pressed to find a portrayal of Asians that doesn't involve some stereotyping; a fact which makes the Kenneth's use of the future tense...suspicious. But let's never mind Kenneth's hatred for Asians; it's more of a sideline.
Don't get me wrong. I love the Asian race, but every race has its inferiors.
Too true. What's brought Kenneth to the attention of the world is the final installment of the Hate Series, Why I Hate Black People (pdf) (the second, sadly neglected piece, Proof That White People Inherenty Hate Us is here). Kenneth has very good reasons for hating black people. There are psychological reasons.
Contrary to media depictions, I would argue that blacks are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years. It's unbelievable that it took them that long to fight back. On the other hand, we slaughtered the Russians in the Japanese-Russo war.
And there are sociological reasons.
Blacks don't get it. I know it's a blunt and crass comment, but it's true. When I was in high school, I recall a class debate in which one half of the class was chosen to defend black slavery and the other half was chosen to defend liberation.
Disturbingly, blacks on the prior side viciously defended slavery as well as Christianity. They say if you don't study history, you're condemned to repeat it
To which Kenneth would surely add, "If you do the assignment correctly, I'm going to be mad at you." Inexplicably, AsianWeek, which published Kenneth's columns, has apologized and terminated his employment. Shed no tears for Kenneth, because he remains,
...the youngest published science fiction novelist in America ... He is also a philosopher, screenwriter, and on occasion, god of the universe.
Most impressive. Let's take a look at his philosophical works.
What if logic is an invalid premise?
I hadn't thought of it that way. Can you explain, Kenneth?
...since causality indicates that every event must have a purpose, then the repetition of events may in fact have some significance in reality. Therefore, one might question whether or not inductive reasoning is really as shoddy as it sounds. Should inductive reasoning actually be a solid basis for determining truth, then perhaps the Goldbach Conjecture, the 3x+1 procedure and every other mathematical mystery might very well be proven through repetition--NOT LOGIC. This would make logic irrelevant, which in essence, disproves logic.
You can't argue with that.
In my favorite stall, a plaintive command: swallow my load. What does it mean? Can one truly swallow another's load, or are we each bound to carry the weight of our own loads without relief?
Then, a few days later, an illustration to disambiguate. The load looks like fire! A vortex of fire, to enflame my detractors!
Today, it's been painted over. The human condition: a cry for help as we sit alone, then silence. Just a few thoughts from my lonely bathroom in Madison, Wisconsin.
At least McCain thinks so:
"Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be," McCain said. "We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives."
And yet somehow no one's demanding that McCain apologize for this ghastly gaffe, in which he dismissed the noble sacrifice of our young men and women as 'wasted'. How can that be? (H/t to Kagro X at Daily Kos.)
Spencer is heading out to Baghdad this weekend and my sincerest best wishes go out to him for a safe trip. I'm really glad that we have guys like Spencer out there who have the combination of smarts to provide insightful commentary and analysis and the craziness to put themselves in the middle of things to get the real story. I can't think of a better guy for the job.
So, Spencer, best of luck to you and I can't wait to read your take on the situation over there. And I really hope that Labs's punch at UnfoggeDCon is the only workout your vest ever gets.
Taking good care of wounded soldiers shouldn't be a political issue at all; just decent, necessary behavior. Somehow, we seem to be having a lot of trouble with it --we've got terribly injured soldiers being warehoused and ignored in outpatient care at Walter Reed, and it seems as if they may be being punished for having talked to the media about the conditions there. What on earth can possibly be the problem here? I understand that things can go wrong with nobody noticing, but it's been noticed -- now, there's no excuse in the world for not improving conditions. If it's literally the money, that there's not enough in the Pentagon's budget to take care of the people who got hurt fighting for us, that's ridiculous, but the Pentagon should be appealing to private charity -- I'm sure everyone who bought a yellow ribbon for their car would kick in to pay salaries for enough case managers that they could help brain-injured soldiers get to their doctors' appointments, and lots of us who didn't would kick in too. If it's not literally funding that's the bottleneck, then what on earth is? Surely good care for injured veterans is good politics; I can't understand what keeps this mess from getting cleared up. (Hat tip Hilzoy.)
(Update: Maj. General George Weightman, the general in charge of Walter Reed, has been relieved of his command. That's a step -- let's hope the next guy improves conditions.)
In the same vein, what are we planning to do for Iraqi civilian employees of the US who have endangered themselves by working for us? We have just expanded our Iraqi refugee quota to 7000 a year from our prior, humiliatingly ungenerous nominal level of 500 a year in the prior years of the war, which actually resulted in the admission of fewer than 500 total Iraqi refugees in all the years of the war together. That's a step, but that's mostly going to be Iraqis who have already been forced out of the country -- what, concretely, do we plan to do for people who have placed themselves and their families at risk by working for us? (Some British bloggers are asking the same questions on Britain's behalf: see the Yorkshire Ranter and Charlie Whitaker.)
Both of these are facets of the same issue -- of course, taking care of the people who have endangered themselves for you is a moral imperative, but even on a cynical level, isn't the US better off if people believe we're trustworthy and will stand by our committments? I can't think of any better way of appearing trustworthy than actually trying to be trustworthy. At least it seems as if it should be worth a try.
I just had a delicious dinner with the commenter currently known as Nakku (and previously as something else but because I'm not sure if he had some reason to switch from his name to a handle I'm not telling you here.) We also went to see some supremely creepy artefacts from Sanxingdui in Sichuan. Huge cast bronze masks with the expressions of devilish tiki gods and protruding cylindrical pupils. Also, it seems that everybody who makes stuff out of jade gets around to making ceremonial jade axe heads with decorative edges; the overall effect was much more Mayan than Chinese. I just can't believe there wasn't masses of human sacrificing going on; Nakku speculated that they were eating the flesh and then grinding the bones to make their bread and hence no remains were found. All too fucking likely. Anyway, if you people would ever get off your butts and transit through the glorious travel hub that is SE Asian city-state X, we could hang out too, you hypothetical commenter and I, and have sweet corn with crab soup and roasted ducks and mango sago cream and whatnot. Free mysterious Alameida tour included. C'mon, isn't everybody up for UnfoggeDSE Asian City-State X? UnfoggeDPhnom Penh or something? UnfoggeDBangkok?
This week's Dan Savage:
Q: Serious question: I have always had a thing for Anna Nicole Smith and frequently masturbated to her Playboy photos. I've always felt some guilt about masturbation to begin with, but since her death, I now feel a little creepy doing it. Do you think it's OK to continue now that she has passed away? --MISSING ANNA NICOLE
A: No, MAN, I don't. But not because it's disrespectful--there's nothing you can do to Anna Nicole Smith in death that could possibly outdo the shit she subjected herself to in life. No, the reason you feel creepy about beating off to Anna Nicole's photos now, MAN, and the reason you must stop, is this: Whacking off to the dead violates the hope that masturbation represents. When Anna Nicole was alive and young and beautiful, MAN, a tiny part of your brain somehow managed to convince your dick that your fantasies existed within the realm of possibility. If the right set of circumstances, however improbable, were to occur, you might actually find yourself in bed with Anna Nicole Smith. So long as she lived, MAN, you lived--and whacked off--in hope. But masturbating to the dead inspires only feelings of hopelessness and despair. Which is why no one beats off to James Dean or River Phoenix or Marilyn Monroe or Mary Todd Lincoln without feeling a little creepy, a little hopeless, and a little closer to the grave himself. Knock it off.
Strangely, I can buy this logic.
Now that we have a few people around these parts who know about swimming, perhaps they'll indulge me in a question. I have a notion that it would be fun to race in a masters meet (I'm about to turn 34), but I don't want to embarrass myself. I need you to do some extrapolatin' from what little information I can give you. My pool doesn't have starting blocks, and I've never had someone time me, but of course we have a clock and back before my medical adventures I could do 25 yards of breaststroke from a push start in 16-17 seconds. I was just about to start training more seriously to improve on that when I had aforementioned medical adventures. What do you say? Is it worthwhile to train hard to get back to that time, and try to improve it? I don't really know the level of competition at masters meets, or how my time would compare. Is 16-17sec/25yds so slow that I should stick to yelling "Keep up, grandma!" at the old women at my local pool?
One of the recently ousted US Attorneys, David Iglesias (no relation, AFAIK) is now saying that two unnamed members of Congress contacted him in October, pressuring him to issue an indictment against a Democrat right before the election, and that he believes his firing is due to his refusal to play ball.
Iglesias said the two members of Congress not only contacted him directly but also proceeded to try to wrest details about the case from him. Iglesias would not comment on the case to McClatchy, but the local media has reported on aspects of the ongoing investigation, including allegations that a former Democratic state senator took money to ensure an $82 million courthouse contract would go to a specific company.
Congressional questions about ongoing cases are supposed to go through Justice's Office of Legislative Affairs to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Corruption cases in particular are treated as especially sensitive.
"I was appalled by the inappropriateness of those contacts," Iglesias said of the calls.
Iglesias said they called during the lead up to the Congressional elections that gave the Democrats control of the House and Senate. The Republican Party loss was blamed in part on several ongoing criminal corruption cases against Republican members of Congress.
If true, this is not just unacceptable but, if I have the law straight and the intent of the Congressmen was to intimidate Iglesias into issuing indictments unjustified by his investigation, also criminal under 18 USC § 1503. US Attorneys are supposed to be impartial law enforcement officers, not intimidated into acting as partisan thugs. An investigation should be opened into this immediately, and Iglesias should be asked to testify to the identities of the Congressmen involved. Who's responsible for opening such an investigation? I suppose it would be the new appointee in whose favor Iglesias was ousted. I'm sure they'll be right on it.
Update: Chuck Schumer is saying that he's heard Iglesias's story, and stories from other of the ousted US Attorneys, but that they consider themselves honorbound not to give details unless subpoenaed. The senior Senator from New York is working on coming up with those subpoenas.
"We have a real horserace," says John Zogby, an independent pollster whose latest data show that Obama leads Clinton among black Democratic voters 36 percent to 27 percent.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday showed a similar trend: Obama leads Clinton among black Democratic voters 44 to 30. In both December and January, the Post/ABC poll had Clinton beating Obama among African-Americans 60 to 20. Overall, the latest Post/ABC poll shows Clinton beating Obama 36 to 24, down from a 41-17 split in January. The Post attributes the gains of Obama, who is black, to his rise in support among African-Americans.
That's an awful lot of movement in a very short time.
The campaign to free our clicks is picking up steam, and across the blogs, people are filling comment sections with shouts of joy at the recognition that they are not alone in compulsively clicking and highlighting while they read online. (Behavior demonstrated in this 29MB video.) But...I spy not a single woman who says she does this. This could be the stunning discovery that undermines social constructionism once and for all!!
The Padilla case continues to disgust, now with medical professionals doing their part to abet evil.
Recall that his jailers have destroyed his mind, with one person saying that he'd become as compliant as "a piece of furniture." So now they put it this way.
Craig S. Noble, a psychologist at the brig, testified that he had screened Mr. Padilla twice. He did an initial "brief evaluation" when Mr. Padilla arrived in June 2002, finding that he was "responsive, made good eye contact and, in fact, smiled periodically." About two years later, Dr. Noble said, he conducted a "cell front visit," in which he spoke to Mr. Padilla through a rectangular slot on his door, and discovered no new signs of "distress or lethality."
Furniture tends not to show signs of distress or lethality. Dr. Noble's account is perhaps not "the whole truth." Needless to say, the defense's experts disagree, but we can't trust their examinations.
"I'm not sure that any of us know what happened at the brig, but I know that something there put the fear into Mr. Padilla," said Patricia Zapf, a forensic psychologist who examined him. "Mr. Padilla is an anxiety-ridden, broken individual who is incapacitated by that anxiety."
But the Bureau of Prisons psychologist, Dr. Buigas, disagreed with the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. He said Dr. Zapf's testing was invalidated by the fact that Mr. Padilla was handcuffed during the tests, a condition imposed on Dr. Zapf by prison officials.
All of this out in the open, official American policy.
I've decided that instead of using the outdated method of living through each and every moment between now and finishing my PhD, I'm going to have a montage.
Awesome. But he needs your advice.
I went to see a play a couple of weeks ago about a woman having an affair. The scenes of their dating and seduction were cringe-inducing to watch -- the woman was Jewish and the man she was dating was Indian and all of their conversations involved the woman oohing and aahing over how exotic his culture was and asking him tell her all about it in a fetishistic tone.
A while back, Dagger Aleph had a post on her sadly now-deleted blog expressing disappointment that people don't ask questions about each other and try to understand each others' lives. I know that definitely describes me and I think a large part of it comes from a fear of sounding like the woman in this play. The more interesting someone's life has been, the more hesitant I find myself to ask about it for fear of making them feel like I'm just "collecting" them and their stories. This is the case even with people I know really well -- I guess I figure that once I become good friends with someone, if they feel comfortable talking about their family and history and other personal details, they will just offer the information up when related to one of our conversations and that asking would be prying.
This is a ridiculous assumption, of course, and often leads to conversations where I learn things about a good friend I've known for years from someone who is that friend's mere acquaintance.
If you know what he's talking about, you know what he's talking about. Stand up!
I'm late with this story, but Jim Zumbo, a writer for Outdoor Life on hunting and shooting, posted an entry to the magazine's blog the other week saying that he saw no good reason for hunting with military-style assault rifles, and called them 'terrorist' weapons. The NRA issued a statement condemning his comments, and now his career is basically over -- despite apologizing repeatedly and abjectly for the statement, Zumbo's been fired from Outdoor Life.
Obviously, this story got picked up by a whole bunch of blogs (I should hat tip several of them, but I can't remember where I saw it first) because of the speed and efficiency with which the NRA ended the professional life of someone who'd been an advocate of gun rights for his entire life, because he made one un-PC statement -- that's astonishing message discipline. I'm posting about it now, despite having been out of town and missed the conversation about the story when it hit, because I'm sort of personally sad -- I was a fan of Zumbo's.
Oh, I hadn't read anything of his in a couple of years, but Buck was helping one of his nieces out with fundraising by buying magazine subscriptions from her a decade or so ago, and ended up with five year subscriptions to Field and Stream and Outdoor Life. I'll read pretty much anything so long as it's got words on it, and so I read sixty issues of each, and while Field and Stream is sort of dull, Outdoor Life is actually a very entertaining magazine, and Zumbo is a really engaging writer.
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm about as urban as they come, and hunting is very alien to me. I hadn't thought about it much at all before that subscription to Outdoor Life, but came out of it on the other side of that five years thinking of hunting as not particularly a moral problem for anyone who isn't a vegetarian, and as a perfectly reasonable hobby; not my thing, but nothing wrong with it. And a lot more comfortable with a loose gun control stance: I don't particularly buy the Second Amendment absolutism, but in the absence of a real crime problem, I don't need much in the way of gun control as policy. I wouldn't say that this attitude change was all due to Zumbo, but I do remember looking for his byline and enjoying his writing.
So, congratulations, NRA -- you just chewed up and spit out someone who was doing effective outreach for your causes. Smooth.
For a follow-up on the Al Gore energy use story, check out how Fox News reports Gore's response that he uses carbon offsets to minimize his overall environmental footprint. The first sentence:
Al Gore's posh home in the Nashville suburbs might be "carbon neutral," but it still uses a lot of power.
Does it even matter what they say after that?
What kind of person agrees to a date and then stops communicating at the setting a date for the date phase? Is this how Generation Awesome rolls?
Oh, I know what you're thinking: "And you were worried about breaking her heart. HaHA, Ogged!" But, of course, that I might have (might have!) misguessed in one instance doesn't mean that I shouldn't worry about it in any instance.
And on the bright side: If anyone has to avoid the pool now, it's her. HaHA!
There are few things that annoy me more, in discussions of education policy, than the endless refrain that everything that's wrong with American schools is the fault of the overly powerful teachers' unions: if we could just fire the incompetent teachers that are the whole problem, and replace them with the eager, highly qualified people that would love to work as teachers but are locked out by those damn unions, American schools would be a paradise. Mark Kleiman points out that there are states like Georgia where teachers' unions are weak or nonexistent, and firing teachers is easy, and yet they don't do any better on measurements of student achievement than states like New York -- quite a bit worse, in fact. Now, that's not a controlled experiment, there are all sorts of confounding factors, and it certainly doesn't prove that strong teachers' unions are what makes student outcomes better in New York than Georgia. (Actually, I just reread Kleiman's post, and he's added an update noting that there is some controlled research indicating exactly that.) But it does tend to support the conclusion that teachers' unions aren't the only, or the most important, source of problems in our educational system.
This seems like a hard way to make a buck, at least for the kids.
A woman admitted Monday that she coached her two children to fake retardation starting when they were 4 and 8 years old so she could collect Social Security benefits on their behalf.
Costello began coaching her daughter at age 4, and later used the same ruse with her son. He feigned retardation into his mid-20s -- picking at his face, slouching and appearing uncommunicative in meetings with Social Security officials.
Social Security workers became suspicious and uncovered a video of Pete Costello ably contesting a traffic ticket in a Vancouver courtroom.
And, of course, now it's just a bit harder for people with retarded kids to get benefits.
I just want to help disseminate this factlet: an ostensibly non-partisan pro-free-market group in Tennessee is railing that Al Gore's house uses much more energy than an average American's house. But as Henley points out, Al Gore also buys carbon offsets, so that his net carbon use is zero.
As is my custom, I hereby alert you to the fact of a radio broadcast of my own selections of music, to take place, as usual, between the hours of nine and eleven ante-meridian according to the pacific standard of time reckoning, and which, this week, might (or might not!!!) include Dana Falconberry, Jesse Sykes, 5uu's, and Oren Ambarchi (that is, two people who've appeared on Sunn O))) records, but—and this is key—here heard in different contexts). Also Marnie Stern, though really, and I say this without having listened to the album very attentively, I don't see how her album is markedly better than People. Is it that Mary Halvorson doesn't shred enough? She certainly can.
A federal appeals court just ruled that bloggers aren't liable for comments left by other people on their site.
You can now call Labs a Big Gay with impunity.
We've already seen the photoshop face wizards in action, but now there's software which will beautify faces all by itself. You can see some results here. Conclusion: it works pretty well on women, but guys are too ugly to be helped. I wonder what it would do to someone really beautiful.
I had two thoughts when I saw the clip of Michael Phelps's reaction to breaking his own world record in the 200 fly last week.
1. Wait a second, did Phelps have time to come out of the water, turn around, look at the clock and start celebrating before the guy in the lane next to him even finished? Yes.
2. Holy crap, I guess he finally hit the weights. Look at his left tricep in the last ten seconds of the clip. Jiminy. His training had been notable for including very little weight-training, but after I saw the clip, I found that he had indeed changed that.
3. A subsequent thought: you can see that he has a bit of a beard in the clip, so he hadn't even shaved (and probably didn't taper), but still broke the world record. Jiminy.
In other swimming news, I've finally managed to be able to do this consistently, although I can do it for about fifteen seconds before I'm completely winded. You can see Kevin Clements do it while holding some kind of weight. Fucker.
But work is demanding that I function. Maybe I'll start posting again sometime soon.
Via Henley, a post that makes a pretty good argument that "the Wilder effect," the belief that black politicians get fewer votes than polls suggest, because racists don't tell pollsters the truth, is false (or no longer true).
In addition to being generally happy-making, obviously this has ramifications in the current election, in which Obama's electability is doubted largely because of a belief in the Wilder effect.
Fascinating and smart piece in Salon by Lindsay Beyerstein, who says that she was offered the Edwards job first, but turned it down.
This collection of presidents photoshopped to look dressed in drag is new to me; some of them are very well done. And it seems to confirm that most visual facial clues for sex are around the mouth and jaw.
Most convincing woman: Slick Willy.
Modern Love this week pretty much sucks. With the exception of:
Sons in many cultures learn how to behave as men by observing their fathers, often in rituals that may seem odd or even fetishistic to outsiders. There's a tribe in New Guinea, for instance, where the fathers gather together and masturbate into a river while their adolescent male offspring watch.
How is it that I haven't heard anything about the scholarship about which James Cameron has now made a documentary which claims that the tomb of Jesus and his son was discovered almost thirty years ago in Israel? Do any of you know what the deal is here?
This paragraph also struck me:
Akram's work has led to accusations that he is championing free mixing between men and women, but he says that is not so. He maintains that women students should sit at a discreet distance from their male classmates or co-worshipers, or be separated by a curtain. (The practice has parallels in Orthodox Judaism.) The Muslim women who taught men "are part of our history," he says. "It doesn't mean you have to follow them. It's up to people to decide."
The fact that women are also separated from men in prayer in Orthodox Judaism is pretty much irrelevant to a discussion of Islamic practices...unless, of course, the writer wants to prevent readers from coming away from the article with a negative view of Muslims and is drawing the comparison to neutralize potentially prejudiced reactions. I think it's great that the author wrote this with her readers' attitudes in mind and is making an effort provide context and not "other-ize" Muslims. At the same time, it's annoying that this needs to be done at all, and it's annoying that it's based on the assumption that readers will go, "Separation of men and women? Why, that's sexist! Oh, Orthodox Jews do it too? I guess it's okay then."
Jim Henley notes another instance of "it's ok when America does it," this time from the British press.
...I can read a map. I know perfectly well who has a major naval presence off whose coast. But that's how empire corrupts language. Iranian naval activity off the coast of Iran is "aggressive." American naval activity off the coast of Iran is an expression of "concern." If we want to express concern, let's bring the ships home and send a card.
All you people in comments, and then everyone I met on the plane to New Mexico, scared the bejeezus out of me -- I've never heard so many people say "Oh, you're going to Taos? You must be really good skiiers." Which, as I pointed out a week ago, I'm really not at all. Major coward here. And then when you drive up to the lodge, the only runs you can see are vertically descending black diamonds -- the side of the mountain looks like a big white cliff face. And the title of the post? Is their actual advertising slogan. I've never felt like such an idiot for picking a vacation without real forethought or planning before: I'd just figured that a ski resort was a ski resort, and they all have green trails.
It was great. I took a couple of lessons to get past the fear of what was going to be up at the top of the lifts (or at least to have someone there to call the ski patrol and have me snowmobiled down if I couldn't ski it) but the green trails were fine. They look very very butch by East Coast standards, but the beautiful soft fluffy dry ice-free snow makes skiing something steep very easy. I skied trails I wouldn't have looked at in Vermont (nothing impressive -- my big adventure was one blue trail with a bunch of moguls on it), because in Vermont, on any given trail there's an excellent chance that the steep bits will be sheets of ice that your skis have absolutely no purchase on; you can't stop or slow down just because you want to. Taos, the snow was soft enough that I could ski as slowly as I liked. (Which is very. While I was having a blast, there were a couple of moments as I made my cautious, controlled little series of S-turns down the trails when I realized that I was skiing like somebody's grandmother.)
And the trails are laid out so that you can get really high up on the greens. Skiing down Honeysuckle got me way, way up on a mountaintop I could see Colorado from -- absolutely beautiful. That's half the fun of skiing for me, not having to hike to get to the mountaintop scenery. Any other lousy skiers who are considering Taos, I'd go for it. If you can ski East Coast greens comfortably, and aren't terrified of the occasional East Coast blue, you're at right around my level, and while the Taos green trails were very, very impressive (and I mean that in an "I am absolutely terrified" kind of way) they weren't hard to ski at all. I had a wonderful time.
Taos generally made for a fine vacation spot by being weird. First, the scenery is bizarre -- mountains I'm used to are surrounded by foothils, so that you can't see them from any distance. If you want to look at a mountain, you have to go stand on another mountain. New Mexican mountains sit out on big flat plains: flat, polka-dotted with sagebrush, and with little bumpy hills and Coyote v. Roadrunner-esque little canyons. And the mountains just rise straight up out of the plains like someone dropped them there.
The people, also odd. NY manners, someone who is trying to complete a transaction with you efficiently smiles, maybe, but doesn't make eye-contact. If you really look at someone, you're signalling either that the transaction is going to take extensive conversation, or you just really want to chat. In NM, people kept on looking at me and smiling, and then when I settled in for a friendly conversation I realized that they didn't actually want to talk, they were just using different signals. And I can't think of anyplace else I've been where a substantial portion of the population was Native American, which also kept on surprising me for no good reason. (Buck's ski instructor sounded like the hero of a romance novel -- a Zuni Indian working as a ski instructor while he waited for funding for his biology post-doc to come through, and playing guitar in a mariachi band. There's really very little you could add to that list to get cooler. Maybe if he was made of radiation.) We tried to go visit the Taos Pueblo on the one day we took off from skiing, but it was closed to visitors for a couple of months, so we wandered the kid through a bunch of art galleries and the Kit Carson museum, which was terribly funny. The tour guide was also Native American, and most of the tour was her explaining that her friends at home were ashamed of her for working in a museum devoted to a criminal like Kit Carson, and recounting all of the terrible things he did.
All in all, an excellent vacation.