December 07, 2013
Let the Judgement Begin
Again, apologies for the delay, everyone, but life happens. And because life still beckons (even with -1 as our high for the day and a -30 degree wind chill rolling in this weekend) I'll make this short and sweet. Besides, I know y'all are just itchin' to snark.
Now, on to old business...
To the judgement:
In first place, with is what is becoming a trend, is htom at the last minute with, "Michelle has already gotten him that for Christmas. You do not want to duplicate that gift. Think of what she'll think!"
Claiming second as his own this week is Grim for, "The good news for our careers is that, thanks to Kathleen, no one remembers we exist."
And rounding out the winners this week is CAPT Mike with this classic line, "When all else fails, a guy looks at his own shoes..."
Nicely done to all those who managed to awaken from the triptophan slumber long enough to form a coherent caption.
And now, to new business!
December 05, 2013
What They Said
Best intro ever: "for an intensely ironic experience, watch this on your phone":
We spent the week after Columbus Day in Hilton Head, SC. After unpacking the car on our first night, the Spousal Unit and I walked down to the beach to catch the sunset and take a walk.
It was a stormy evening - the last of a bank of rain clouds darkened the sky on the landward side, the wind was blowing birds this way and that as they wheeled and tried to land, and the surf almost seemed like it was calling out to us. Unbelievably beautiful.
As we walked along the beach, the landscape ahead of us looked like it was dotted with tiny stars...
Cell phones. About half the folks out there were intently focused, not on the scenery or on talking with their families, but on their phones.
I still don't know what to make of that.
December 04, 2013
Mondays Totally Suck
And you thought you were having a bad day at work...
More proof (as if it were needed) that squirrels are plotting to kill us all.
December 03, 2013
Confirmation Bias in the News
One topic that never fails to fascinate the Blog Princess is the human tendency to promote information that confirms what we already believe (and dismiss information that undercuts our position). This headline provides a great example of confirmation bias in its most common form:
What the study actually says is that both men and women have selective hearing, but that wouldn't support the narrative so the headline focuses on half of the study's findings and ignores the other half. But then you totally knew that, didn't you? :p
There's a reason headlines are so often written this way - we pay more attention to simple, dramatic summaries than we do to the more ambiguous and complex stories they introduce. Moreover, biased summaries shape our perception of the information that follows in ways that are useful and enjoyable. They make the world seem simpler, more orderly, and more predictable than it actually is. But sometimes the bias occurs on the interpretation side, where studies or facts with several possible explanations are attributed to a simpler or even single cause. Glenn Reynolds provides a great example of this type of bias here:
IT’S ALMOST LIKE BIOLOGY MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Men’s Top 3 Sexual Regrets Are Extremely Different from Women’s.
The linked article describes a study of sexual regret in which men's regrets focused on not being adventurous enough (hey! aren't men supposed to be naturally more adventurous???) and women's on having been too adventurous (hey! aren't women supposed to... oh, never mind). The study suggests several possible interpretations, but if you believe that biology (and not culture or incentives) is primarily responsible for observed differences in male and female behavior, the study could be viewed as evidence supporting the nature side of the nature vs. nurture debate.
The problem is that it could just as easily be viewed as supporting the opposite view - that culture and experience play a large role in shaping sexual choices and sexual regrets. Even "nature vs. nurture" is an oversimplification, because it leaves out a third possible explanation: incentives.
Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm....
What if only the sticker is made in China?
Why is swearing "immature" when we tell our kids they can't use it because it's "adult language"?
What would our world be like if we truly had opposable thumbs?
Jus', yanno, some of the things that make me go, hmmmmm.
December 02, 2013
And the Word for the Day Is....
Enroll America boasts all manner of nonpartisan credentials. Most of its staffers seem to have worked in the nonpartisan Obama presidential campaigns of 2008 or 2012, often both. Its president, Anne Filipic, served as deputy executive director of the nonpartisan Democratic National Committee, and came here straight from the nonpartisan White House Office of Public Engagement. The nonpartisan Obamacare czar, Kathleen Sebelius (whom Filipic also worked for), has admitted putting the arm on companies to make donations to Enroll America, sparking several nonpartisan congressional investigations.
And after decidedly partisan conservative gadfly James O’Keefe and his undercover Project Veritas crew caught Texas Enroll America communications director Chris Tarango on tape conspiring to help obtain a private list of potential Obamacare enrollee data for political purposes, a national Enroll America spokesman told me again: “Enroll America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization,” it doesn’t technically enroll people “so we don’t have any sensitive personal data,” and though the video “does not show any violation of our nonprofit status,” even the suggestion of any violation is “inappropriate” and the “employee seen in the video has resigned from his role with Enroll America.”
With my nonpartisan concerns allayed, we’re ready to roll!
What could possibly go wrong?
Right about now, a squad car pulls up, and a buzz-headed cop motions for Welly to come over. I am incensed on his behalf. A black man gets a little lippy with some white girls, and immediately the cop assumes he’s harassing them? But the cop doesn’t want to talk to Welly, he wants to talk to the girls. He asks them who they are and what they’re doing. He explains the police have had some complaints about them causing disturbances in the neighborhood. They point out that they’re just educating people about their health care options, and haven’t disturbed anybody. I second them, as the Obamacare pom-pom girls are nothing if not mannerly. The cop says it doesn’t matter. If they want to canvass door-to-door, they have to get a permit at city hall.
A smile creeps across Welly’s face as the officer drives away. “What kind of sense does that make?” he says, now running up the score. “Think about that. You’re doing the work of government, then the government comes over and says, ‘Hey’ . . . ”
Katie is not amused. For the first and only time, I see her mercury rise. “We’re a nonpartisan organization,” she chirps. “We’re just trying to get information to you.”
“I know,” Welly says, feinting like a gentleman, but still grinning like he found money in the street. “So you guys have Obamacare?” he asks. Katie informs him they’re already insured by their employer, and that if they like it, they can keep it.
“Yeah, well, that changes next year,” Welly says, now cold as ice. “Remember the business mandate? They pushed it back.”
Partisans. Definitely partisans.
We can tell by just looking at their faces.
GROW old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith ‘A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!’
- Robert Browning, Rabbi Ben Ezra
...for those of you who haven't seen it:
Sooooo.... what did y'all talk about at the table during Thanksgiving dinner?
The Newest Danger Lurking In Our Midst
Yes, the Editorial Staff are talking about The Horror That Is Cultural Appropriation. "What the heck is Cultural Appropriation?", you knuckledraggers may well be asking yourownselves?
November 29, 2013
Let the Judgement Begin -Thanksgiving Edition
Thank you to everyone who made this week even tougher than last to judge. Truly some fine snark posted. Although, I must admit to disappointment that our newly-trained Padawan of the Sidestep, Elise, didn't join in, but maybe she'll be inspired by the feast of Thanksgiving and her husband's fettucine Alfredo.
Now, on to old business...
To the judgement:
So many great entries this week! It truly made my job extremely difficult, and I will say I was truly torn between several different comments until spd popped up with: "Oh crap. It's that woman from the Christmas party. What was I thinking???"
YAG captured second place for: "Obama has come to regret teaching everyone in his administration to look down their noses."
And this week we have a tie for third because, quite frankly, they were both equally snort-worthy. Grim's - "Whoever designed this seating chart is fired tomorrow morning." and CAPT Mike's - "Not now Kathleen, I have a headache."
Well done everyone. I love when the snark is so prime that the judgement is this difficult.
And now, to new business!
November 27, 2013
None Dare Call It "Racial Profiling"
Or at least they don't when The Smartest President Evah does it:
...per WH transcript: "just looking at faces, I could tell there were some folks who are here not because they were born here."
Of course this is a guy whose mental powers are so advanced that he reads the minds of purse clutching women in elevators. He knows they're clutching their purses because he's half black, not because (for instance) they're alone in an elevator with a young man. Or they've read one of the many articles that advise women that holding their purses tightly is the best way to deter purse snatchers of all races.
This is a guy who snootily described his own grandmother - you know, the woman who took him in and raised him - as a "typical white person"... apparently not realizing that the existence of racial types implies there's such a thing as "a typical black person", too. This, of course, is nonsense because we all know that assuming things about total strangers based on their race or ethnicity is bigoted and wrong: the kind of thing typical white folks do to be divisive and establish their Otherness.
Fortunately, our President is just too brilliant to meet performance bars designed for inferior beings:
Two statements explain the huge failure of Obamacare. One is by President Barack Obama, the other is about him.
The first was made in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the end of the 2008 primary campaign, when candidate Obama predicted that generations would look back and see his nomination as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
Couple this with the assessment of his closest aide, Valerie Jarrett, about his exceptionalism. “He knows exactly how smart he is,” she told Obama biographer David Remnick. “And he knows that he has the ability -- the extraordinary, uncanny ability -- to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them.”
Obama “has never really been challenged intellectually,” she went on. “He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”
Or what an ordinary president does, for that matter. A chief executive less bored than Obama would have stayed on top of his signature legislation. Those upset that he didn’t are bedwetters, the White House says, nervous Nellies who can’t comprehend the larger picture of health-care reform that will, in due time, emerge. White House spokesman Jay Carney intones the mantra that the president “is focused on delivering the access to quality and affordable health insurance” and isn’t concerned “about the politics of that.”
The thing is, Obama is - by his very nature - Exceptional. Which is nothing like American Exceptionalism, because we all know that's arrogant and elitist. It only serves to reinforce our differences and magnify the things that bring nations into conflict rather than emphasizing the things we have in common. No, Obama's unique brand of egalitarian exceptionalism is so limitless that it embraces and reconciles a multitude of mutually exclusive traits. He's superior without arrogance or condescension, detached and impartial without lacking empathy, half-Black without being half-White, elite without being better than the rest of us, in charge without being accountable or personally involved, dedicated and community-focused without feeling accountable to those he leads.
When good things happen, he deserves the credit for being the architect and prime mover behind success. When bad things happen, he was off doing more important things and is not to blame.
Truly, he is a man of almost as many contradictions as he has faces. And always, through it all, hope hangs deep inside of him.