August 29, 2016

"As Boys Get Fatter, Parents Worry [Their Son's Penis] Is Too Small."

A NYT article.
The penis can be buried in the fat pad that sits in front of the pubic bone, and it can remain hidden as boys go through adolescence. What is called a “hidden penis” can be a combination of being prepubertal (so the penis has not begun to grow), being overweight (so the fat pad is significant), and in some cases an anatomical condition in which the soft tissue below the skin of the penis doesn’t adhere well to the Buck’s fascia, the thick covering that surrounds the penile nerves and arteries. This fixation problem can yield what [Dr. Aseem Shukla, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and associate professor of urology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania] described as a “slidey” penis, in which the actual shaft retreats and only the skin, or the foreskin, in an uncircumcised boy, is clearly apparent....

Dr. Shukla said that he tries to reassure preadolescents that if they lose some weight and still feel that there is a problem when they reach puberty, they can come back to address it. “I push down and I show them the length and width,” Dr. Shukla said.

"There will be no formally assigned homework this year. Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance."

"Rather, I ask you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early."

The second grade teacher Brandy Young wrote to the parents. The letter has gone viral.

What do you think of the teacher's approach? (Multiple answers accepted.) free polls

"So Huma is separating from her husband... but wasn't she already separated... kinda?"

That's what I said out loud when I saw the headline: "Humiliated Huma FINALLY dumps sexting Weiner: Hillary's top aide separates from her husband just hours after he sent an admirer a photo of his crotch while their four-year-old son slept beside him."

And let me elevate my own comment from my earlier post this morning:
They're a fascinating mystery. She's so closed and he's so open. Why are they together? Why were they ever together? Why are they still together? Are they together now for the child? Would that explain the exposure of the child in a sexual context? What do I have to do to unlock myself from this locked off lady?
ADDED: Meade just said: "If this was really about crossing a line with a child, that child would never have appeared in the movie."

"The color of a lobster is no more important than the color of a person. This lobster is like all the others in the ways that matter."

"And all that matters is that lobsters want to be free to live their natural lives just like us, not cooked alive and eaten. Sending a yellow lobster to an aquarium while killing the rest isn’t praise worthy except in a society that fails to grasp the concept that all animals matter equally."

But people do care intensely about the color of their various pets and often choose one or the other based on color. Should we stop that because of the actual real-world human problem of racial prejudice?

Even with respect to human beings, we have lots of color preferences that aren't part of the race-prejudice problem. You might love seeing a woman in a red dress. You might want to dye your hair blue. You might want to see multicolored tattoos on other people's arms. You might adore Elizabeth Taylor because her eyes were a color that it seemed nobody else had.

Are all these pleasures something about which we should become self-critical?

If you want to be be self-critical, how about being self-critical about your precious attention to your own morality — that wonderfully named sin called scrupulosity — and consider whether likening the everyday joys of color perception to the age-old suffering of racism is itself a racist error.

What made me say "Oh! Interesting" in this new Trump ad.

"'Two Americas: Economy' is a 30-second spot that will run in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Colorado," says Politico pointing at this new Trump ad:

Did you catch what struck me? Let me clip it for you:

I'm thinking about Colin Kaepernick and the sudden intrusion of an old simmering issue: Why should black people love America?

Weiner's wiener is back in the news.

It's just another phallic Monday:
While his wife, Huma Abedin, travels the country campaigning for Hillary Clinton, the disgraced ex-congressman has been sexting with a busty brunette out West — and even sent her a lurid crotch shot with his toddler son in the picture, The Post has learned....

Weiner was clearly aroused by his conversation with the 40-something divorcee when he abruptly changed the subject.

“Someone just climbed into my bed,” Weiner wrote.

“Really?” she responded.

Weiner then hit “send” on the cringe-inducing image, which shows a bulge in his white, Jockey-brand boxer briefs and his son cuddled up to his left, wrapped in a light-green blanket.

“You do realize you can see you[r] Weiner in that pic??” the woman wrote.

Moments after forwarding the photo, Weiner freaked out over the possibility he had accidentally posted it publicly — just as he did during the infamous episode that forced him to resign from Congress in 2011.

“Ooooooh . . . I was scared. For half a second I thought I posted something. Stop looking at my crotch,” Weiner wrote back....
Carlos is into the danger. Have a little empathy. You know I do. It's his sexual orientation. And it's safe sex. Except the part where you humiliate your wife, whose name I'd put right next to the word "humiliate" if a thousand writers hadn't already done that juxtaposition. It's not a new humiliation, just another iteration of the old humiliation.

Karl Marx wrote that history repeats itself, "the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

But this is Anthony Weiner's third time.

The first got him bullied out of Congress by who knows exactly which forces within the Democratic Party — Hillobaschumer? Tragic!

The second was when he was running for major of NYC, the comical repeat documented in the movie "Weiner," which we were just watching the other day. Yes, truly: farce. 

And now, again. Once more, with feeling. Once more, with the child in the picture. Once more, with open discussion of the excitement he gets from risking fucking his wife again. Fucking — I mean that metaphorically.

I'd say the third time is the modern psychological novel — inviting us to explore the complications of a modern marriage.

UPDATE: I put up a new post about Huma finally separating from Anthony: here.

"If you dedicate your existence to being likable... and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen..."

"... it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are. And if you succeed in manipulating other people into liking you, it will be hard not to feel, at some level, contempt for those people, because they’ve fallen for your shtick. Those people exist to make you feel good about yourself, but how good can your feeling be when it’s provided by people you don’t respect? You may find yourself becoming depressed, or alcoholic, or, if you’re Donald Trump, running for president (and then quitting)."

From "Pain Won't Kill You," a 2011 commencement address, delivered at Kenyon College, by Jonathan Franzen, which you can read in the essay collection, "Farther Away." [AND: Full text here.]

ADDED: Do you even get why Donald Trump was used as a joke in 2011? It was May 28, 2011. Here's an article from May 16, 2011: "Donald Trump bows out of 2012 US presidential election race/US mogul formally announces he will not seek the Republican nomination, claiming he is 'not ready to leave the private sector.'"
Few US political commentators took his campaign seriously and many suggested he was only in it for the publicity.

In a statement, he said: "After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the presidency. This decision does not come easily or without regret, especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country."

Modesty is not a Trump characteristic and this is reflected in his statement. "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election."

He added: "I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognise that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."

August 28, 2016

At Queen Anne's Café...


... chatter about anything, as long as you want.

ADDED: "When people get together they are never silent for a moment. They will always talk. When you listen to what they say, a great deal of it is pointless. There is much harm and little good for either party in such worldly gossip and judgement of others. But as they talk, they are unaware how futile for both of them this chatter is." — Kenko, "Essays in Idleness" (c1330).

"We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe.... Our zoo family is still healing..."

"... and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us," said Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo.
For example, replying to a Twitter post about zebras and their unique stripes, one user wrote: “U had a unique way of killing Harambe.”

On a post celebrating Elephant Day, another wrote: “Harambe loved elephants.”
Maynard's request for sympathy for the humans only encouraged the memesters, and Thane and the Zoo ended up deleting their Twitter accounts. 
Depending on how the meme is used, #JusticeforHarambe can either be associated with a petition with nearly 500,000 signatures that seeks to hold the boy’s parents responsible for his wandering into the exhibit, or serve as a launching pad for jokes that lampoon activism, according to Ryan Milner, an assistant professor of communications at the College of Charleston and the author of the coming book “The World Made Meme.”
Ironically, "The World Made Meme" is only available in hardcover. It is "invaluable to internet scholars" — did you know such creatures roam the earth? — according to the author of "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things/Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture."

A study of how young adults make the decision to go childless child-free.

"Blackstone and Stewart went with a qualitative approach, asking evocative, open-ended questions to 21 women and 10 men who have chosen not to have kids...."
A couple chords were struck again and again in people’s reasoning. Many saw their siblings or close friends have kids and decided that it was not something they wanted to arrange their lives around. The men tended toward individualized decision-making, noting that they wouldn’t be able to travel or pursue other meaningful projects.... Women were more outwardly focused in their decision-making, referencing how having kids would alter their adult relationships or contribute to overpopulation and other environmental impacts, or that the world as it is isn’t hospitable to new children. The authors reason that the outward-facing decision-making for women may be a result of the greater cultural pressure on them to reproduce.
We don't really learn what people think from what they say, only how they choose to talk about it. Why can't women, like men, just admit they want to keep more of their time and money for themselves? Or why don't men feel more of a need to couch their selfishness in terms of doing good for others and for the world?
It should be noted that a study at this scale is limited: It’s homogeneous in terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation, and it would be super-useful to have more research done around how people of different identities decide whether to have kids, especially since birthrates, at a macro level, are so strongly correlated with education: The better educated people are, the fewer kids they have. 
That's a hell of a sentence. New York Magazine. What do you think of 2 colons in the same sentence? I don't think this author really thought about it. It looks more like he just kept this one sentence going so long that he forgot about the first one. And it's kind of sad to see a science writer trying to spice up the boring demand for more research with the childish "super-useful" and the righteous plea for more diversity. And by the way, this locution is silly: "The better educated people are, the fewer kids they have." You can't have any fewer than zero children. Get all the PhDs you want, you can't have negative numbers of kids.

"'Babies"' made from flour sacks or eggshells have been used for to teach children about the responsibilities of parenthood..."

"... but a new study using lifelike simulated babies in Western Australian schools had a surprising result: girls enrolled in the Virtual Infant Parenting Program (VIP) were twice as likely to give birth in their teens."

A Metafilter discussion that includes this comment:
This American Life had a segment about robot babies where (spoiler alert!) one of the teenagers turned out to have a better opinion of pregnancy and childrearing after her experience. Turns out the producer of that segment [Hillary Frank] wrote about the Lancet study two days ago.
From that last link (to the Hillary Frank piece):
17% of the intervention (robot babies) group had teen pregnancies; while 11% of the control group had teen pregnancies....
Was there evidence that the simulators made teens interested in becoming moms? Or less afraid of accidental pregnancy? [Dr. Sally] Brinkman said there was no way to know the answer to this question. The study was designed to track pregnancy, not whether the pregnancies were intended or unintended. But, she added, they did study the pregnancy termination rate in both groups. And the group that got the infant simulators had a 6% lower proportion of abortions, compared with the control group. But, of course, there’s no way to really know if that lower rate means the girls who experienced the infant simulators felt more comfortable with the idea of becoming moms....
The robot baby program was designed to push teenage girls to avoid pregnancy. They're supposed to see how much trouble it is to be woken up and to hear the crying and have to feed a baby. The study is especially bad news for the company that makes the robots... unless there are schools somewhere that think it would be a good idea to convince young people to accept the responsibilities of parenthood. We might be need that one day... as more and more young people resist the lure of babies and devote themselves to education and career launching and get used to the convenience and unshared wealth of life without children.

Poll results...

I assume some of the 2% in that last category are pranksters screwing up the poll. And yet maybe some of the people in the second-to-last category are racists trying to hide it.

August 27, 2016

Picnic Point, a little while ago.


You can talk about whatever you want in the comments.

Over 300 comments on that "Alt-Right" post...

... on a late summer Saturday afternoon.

It makes me want to ask a question. And please read the earlier post and make sure you know what "Alt-Right" means before you answer. Don't just guess. It doesn't mean people who think Althouse is right. And don't assume that if you don't know (or use) the term that it can't apply to you.

To what extent are you part of the "Alt-Right"? free polls

This will just seem like the most boring interview in the world...

... unless you watch what's happening in the background:

The extreme boringness of the interview makes the backgroundiness of the action sheer accidental genius.

Did the Alt-Right play its big day right?

Hillary Clinton said "Alt-Right" on Thursday, suddenly throwing a new word in America's face. That was an astounding opportunity for whoever has been wearing that label to spring into action. The readiness to take advantage was instantly expressed by that guy in Hillary's audience who — on hearing the word — shouted "Pepe!"
[A] man in the crowd was ejected for yelling “PEPE!”, the name of the iconic green frog meme that has become the alt-right’s mascot, as soon as she mentioned the movement....

"I proudly consider myself a member of the Alt Right… now saying that, or admitting that publicly has its drawbacks because of the false narrative being peddled by the regressive left that the Alt Right is all Neo-Nazi Russian Agents, hell bent on establishing a White Supremacist world takeover, all bullshit" said Sean in an interview with [a Breitbart reporter, Charles Nash]. "I call myself alt right because the conservative establishment right in this country does not represent my views, they are just as much to blame for the disaster taking place in America as the left, the alt right to me is fiscal responsibility, secure borders, enforcement of immigration laws, ending the PC culture, and promoting AMERICA FIRST (Not Sharia First)... If you come to this country legally, follow the laws, learn our language, and love the country, you are equal, no matter your color, or religion. Basically alt-right is to separate ourselves from the failing establishment right."
And then what happened? At, we got "the 20 worst lies" in the Hillary speech, which not address her use of the term "Alt-Right," and this quickie interview with Milo Yiannopoulos, who said:
“Hillary Clinton created the alt-right that she spoke about yesterday, her and people like her, and now she thinks the solution is to keep calling people names and to widen the net of name calling from a couple of people she doesn’t like on the Internet and her political opponents to millions of Americans that she is now describing as racist and sexist... It’s going to have electoral consequences."
That fails to claim that the Alt-Right is something good. He's reinforcing Hillary's idea that it works as name-calling.

The NYT has "Hillary Clinton Denounces the ‘Alt-Right,’ and the Alt-Right Is Thrilled," which is what I read that inspired this post and made me ask the question I use for the post title.

"That being said, there are women out there who just don’t. They don’t wear swimsuits. They don’t go to the beach."

"They basically forgo summer, and the camera, because they hate the way they look. Thus, our excursion to the roof. I put on sunscreen, and lipstick, and a new size 16 swimsuit, black with a ruffled pink trim and a little slip of a skirt. I took a deep breath, pulled my shoulders back, and tried to believe that I looked O.K. and not to flinch as he said, 'Here we go.' Inside, I picked out my favorite shot, skipped the filters, went to my Facebook page, held my breath and hit 'post.' The next time I looked, there were dozens of pictures of women in swimsuits — women who looked more like me, less like the airbrushed, perfected creatures I seem to spend my life looking at."

That's Jennifer Weiner writing on a topic I have seen as long as I've been reading the news for women (i.e., since the 1960s). Body anxieties heightened by the desire to wear a bathing suit. The Facebook part is new, but I don't think that's why the NYT is publishing this piece in late August. Weiner makes no mention of the French "burkini" issue, but I think that's what's pushing this old American topic forward right now.

Here's that Facebook photo showing the suit she picked picked out. It's a lot less silly looking than "ruffled pink trim and a little slip of a skirt" makes it sound. But Jennifer Weiner is 46 years old. Why is she resorting to a skirt with pink ruffles to deal with her body anxieties? I was researching the burkini issue and got to thinking about women who want more coverage for whatever reason — religious or other expression, modesty, sun protection, aversion to shaving — and I discovered these swim capris (and swim tights). I hadn't noticed these before, so I'm thinking there are many women — possibly including Weiner — who are locked into thinking swimwear must expose your legs (if not half or more of your buttocks). It's odd, because Weiner discusses the Olympics, and the Olympic swimmers — female and male — all wore suits that covered their thighs.

I'd like to encourage women to think about wearing swim separates with the longer legwear, capris and tights. 2-piece suits have been around for a long time, so the tops are easily available, both bra tops and tankini tops.I think this is a nice, comfortable option for all kinds of women, and it has the positive side effect of making those who wear covered-up styles for religious reasons feel less conspicuous (which is what covering up is supposed to achieve).


"Study Says Lazy People Are Smarter."

IN THE COMMENTS: rehajm said (efficiently): "Natural efficiency."

Tim Maguire said: "The smart people we've heard of aren't lazy." And by that, I assume he means that the smart and lazy people are being efficient by not drawing attention to themselves. The workplace is often administered by people who want to see that you're hard at work. The stupidest waste of time is looking busy, but it would be stupid to attract the supervision of somebody who will impose the requirement of looking busy when you have worked out ways of getting things done efficiently and want to benefit from your cleverness, not cede all the benefits to your overseer.

I have been in situations where a colleague will go on about how stressed out and terribly busy she is and assert that so are we all. The dead silence in a roomful of professors is ludicrous. You know damned well that many — I hope most — have figured out ways to work very efficiently and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the job. But no one with an eye on self-protection will stand up and admit to not being a workaholic. And so stressed-out, busy-busyness is the atmosphere that prevails because the ones who talk are the ones who haven't found the lazy-smart path (or they have and want to deny its legitimacy for some sadistic reason).

ADDED: I recommend "Essays in Idleness" by the Buddhist monk Kenko, "In Praise of Idleness" by Bertrand Russell, and "An Apology for Idlers" by Robert Louis Stevenson. That last one begins:
BOSWELL: We grow weary when idle.

JOHNSON: That is, sir, because others being busy, we want company; but if we were idle, there would be no growing weary; we should all entertain one another.

Just now, when everyone is bound, under pain of a decree in absence convicting them of lèse-respectability, to enter on some lucrative profession, and labour therein with something not far short of enthusiasm, a cry from the opposite party who are content when they have enough, and like to look on and enjoy in the meanwhile, savours a little of bravado and gasconade. And yet this should not be. Idleness so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognized in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as good a right to state its position as industry itself....
Gasconade... There's a word you haven't used in a sentence recently, I'll bet.

"... Ann Coulter writes the following words on page 3 of her new book about how Trump is awesome: 'there’s nothing Trump can do that won’t be forgiven. Except change his immigration policies.'"

"Given Trump’s gyrations on immigration this week, this is such an unfortunate sentence. It leads to sad headlines like, 'Trump Betrayal of Ann Coulter Timed Perfectly to Release of Ann Coulter Book About Always Trusting Trump' and sad pictures of Coulter steeling herself to give book talks and angry Coulter tweets at Trump.... Like Rush Limbaugh (words I never thought I would type in that order), my first reaction upon hearing that sentence was [hysterical laughter]. Watching Coulter go through the five stages of grief in the span of 24 hours has also been a gift from the schadenfreude gods. Yet as Coulter has finally arrived at the realization that she can’t abandon Trump, I can’t fully commit to savoring her discomfort...."

Writes Dan Drezner (at WaPo) in "Ann Coulter is currently experiencing every nonfiction author’s nightmare/Sympathy for the devil in Prada."

One more reason to blog instead of writing a book.

But I'm not sure Coulter is a big loser here. Her book is getting a lot of attention because people who love to hate her see a hilariously colossal clash between her book — "In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!" — and Trump's supposed "softening." There's so much more reason now to bring her on the shows — where she can continue to promote herself — than there might have been if this was just another book by Ann Coulter. There are so many! Don't all the liberal (and conservative) show hosts want to needle her about her dramatic experience in publishing timing. And suddenly she's leveraged as the expert on how Trumpsters feel when he flips on their favorite issue.

25 years ago today: Pearl Jam released its first album.

"25 years ago today, on August 27, 1991, Pearl Jam released its debut album, Ten, which most people would probably agree is the band's best...."
Pearl Jam has never been one of my favorite bands. But I give them a lot of credit: they sincerely tried to make a work of art with "Jeremy," and they succeeded....
So writes my son John, who played a lot of this genre of music (grunge) around the house — much of it not recorded music — in the 1999s. Very little of it was Pearl Jam though.

There seems to be a phenomenon — in every genre and in all time periods — of musical performers/groups that seem to be very popular but that actual people profess only to dislike or to concede to enjoying only as a "guilty pleasure" or hating except for that one song.

Anyway, back in 2008, John worked out a top 40 of grunge songs. It's extremely well worked out with explanations for all the choices. Example: "The labyrinthine nine-chord progression of the verse is a rarity -- more akin to the Beach Boys' 'Don't Talk, Put Your Head on My Shoulder' or the Beatles' 'Because' than the average song from the '90s."