Looking At Jennifer Lawrence Pictures Is Like Watching Movies On A Stolen TV, Only Worse
With the stealing and posting of these naked pictures of Lawrence, she has been robbed -- by thugs with computers instead of guns -- of her privacy, one of our most valuable civil liberties.
(Lawrence is one of more than 100 celebrities who've had their nude photos hacked and posted online.)
I wrote about this vis a vis the capabilities of the technology in my new book, "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (surely the only manners book ever to quote from Brandeis and Warren's Harvard Law Review article on privacy). Here's an excerpt:
Now that we have that technology, many seem to believe that their life and everyone else's are there for the uploading. If something happens, it simply must be posted, tweeted, and Facebooked, and if something isn't, it must not matter or maybe doesn't even exist. (If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's around to video it and upload it to Facebook . . . )
But, is it really a matter of compelling public interest that three days ago, while waiting in your car for the light to change, you picked your nose? And just because some guy in the next car was quick to catch your nose-digging with his phone and post it to YouTube, should it really be preserved for eternity like a bug in amber?
Technology's impact on privacy isn't a new issue. "Numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that 'what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the housetops,'" wrote Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis in the Harvard Law Review in the 90s--the 1890s. They were worried about the advent of affordable portable cameras and dismayed at the way newspapers had begun covering people's private lives.
Brandeis and Warren explained that a person has a right--a natural human right--to determine to what extent their thoughts, opinions, and emotions and the details of their "private life, habits, acts, and relations" will be communicated to others. They noted that this right to privacy comes out of our right to be left alone and that it applies whether an individual's personal information is "expressed in writing, or in conduct, in conversation, in attitudes, or in facial expression."
This has not changed because of what's now technically possible: how it takes just a few clicks to Facebook or Instagram an embarrassing photo of a person or blog their medical history, sexual orientation, sex practices, financial failings, lunch conversation, or daily doings. No matter how fun and easy the technology makes immediately publishing everything about everyone and no matter how common it's become to violate everyone's right to privacy, each person's private life remains their own and not a free commodity to be turned into content by the rest of us.
As I also write in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," you need to figure out who you are before you get on the Internet -- whether, say, you're the sort of person who thinks nothing of enjoying stolen property. Whether you'd like to play some small part in perpetuating and feeding the market for stealing people's most private moments and making them public.
Because the Internet puts so much power right at our fingertips and it's so much fun to use, we underestimate the tendency for even otherwise responsible adults with serious jobs to devolve into mouth-breathing chimps who've just been handed the button for an info-nuke.
...People who fall back on what's technically possible as the standard for their behavior typically give the most thought to how to act online after they get in trouble--after they lose their job or a friend or just go medieval on somebody on Facebook in a way they're later ashamed of. To avoid disaster, you need to come up with personal policies in advance for how you'll fly online, covering three essential areas:
• Your online identity.
• Privacy: yours and everybody else's.
• How to treat other people online and what to do when
they treat you badly.
And no, I haven't looked at the photos and I won't.
I also won't watch movies of Lawrence on a stolen TV or download stolen content.
I happen to have them, and I really, really feel better about myself when I use them instead of violating them.
An Alternative To Government Meddling? Common Sense
"The Rational Optimist" blogs about the TSA and other government-originated stupidities:
But anyway, two seconds thought shows that the whole rigmarole of officiously checking boarding passes and IDs makes no sense. Faking them would be the easiest part of the plot for a would-be hijacker. Nor does x-raying every bag and person make much sense - especially with TSA personnel being (forgive my bluntness) low-paid drones proven unable to spot true problems.
I'm reminded of Philip Howard's enlightening 1994 book, The Death of Common Sense. In his latest, The Rule of Nobody, he relates that after some nasty scandals, Australia scrapped hundreds of detailed rules governing nursing homes. Regulatory experts were aghast. Yet, with facilities now enjoined simply to provide a "homelike environment" with "privacy and dignity" - freeing them to think creatively rather than blindly following checklists - they measurably improved.
Howard's point is that we tend to impose complex regulatory schemes because we don't trust their targets - be it governmental arms, or businesses - to behave reasonably and fairly otherwise. It's a big mistake, as evidenced by Australia's experience. And by [the] TSA.
This Guy Will Spend His Life In A Cage For Marijuana
At reason Aaron Malin writes about Jeff Mizanskey, swept up by Missouri's three strikes law and now serving life without parole:
Jeff racked up all three strikes without ever committing an act of violence. He was a working class guy with a small side gig as a low-level pot dealer. He never hurt anyone, never brandished a weapon, and never sold to children.
Jeff calmly told me his story from across the table in the visiting room. The guard stared at the floor as he half-listened from thirty feet across the room.
Strike one came in 1984 when Jeff sold an ounce of marijuana to a close relative, who at some point gave or sold it to an undercover police officer. The relative told police where he got it in exchange for leniency, and his testimony was enough to get a search warrant of Jeff's home. The half-pound of pot found during the search landed him with his first felony conviction and five years probation.
Strike two came in 1991. Police again received information from an informant that was sufficient to obtain a search warrant of Jeff's home. This time, they found less than three ounces of cannabis, but it was still more than the one and a quarter ounces needed to trigger a felony charge. Unable to afford the legal fees necessary to fight the charge in court, he pleaded guilty for the second time.
Just two years later, Jeff gave a friend a ride to a motel. The friend was there to buy a few pounds of pot from a supplier, who was once again working with the police and had helped them set up a sting operation. Jeff accompanied his friend into the motel room and allegedly handled a package of marijuana during the transaction. He was arrested with what would end up being his third strike as they left the parking lot. Jeff has been in a cell at the maximum security Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC) ever since, nearly 21 years and counting.
Jeff has watched dozens of convicted rapists and murders, housed in his cellblock, walk out the doors as free men over the past 21 years. Many have re-offended and were sent right back to prison. Meanwhile, Jeff has completed over a dozen rehabilitation programs while incarcerated, and now mentors other inmates to convince them to learn from his past. He doesn't hesitate to acknowledge the mistakes he has made, but feels strongly that his punishment was disproportionate to his crime.
He's exhausted his appeals and his only hope is clemency from the governor. Or he will die in jail for what Malin rightly calls "a victimless crime."
This not justice and it serves neither the state nor the man.
"Science News You Can Use" Radio: Tonite! 7-8pm PT, 10-11pm, Amy Alkon & Dr. Jennifer Verdolin On Understanding And Overcoming Jealousy
Tonight is the start of a very special every-other-week show -- "Science News You Can Use" Radio -- with science-based advice columnist and author Amy Alkon and animal behaviorist Dr. Jennifer Verdolin laying out science news you can use to solve your relationship problems or just improve your relationships and have a better life.
Join us tonight for our show on understanding jealousy and overcoming the damaging kind.
Every other week, we'll be laying out science news you can use to solve your relationship problems or just improve your relationships and have a better life. (And yes, Amy Alkon will still be doing shows on the best behavioral science books on weeks in between.)
And don't forget to buy our science-based, fun, funny, and illuminating books -- support our show while entertaining yourself and learning a thing or two to improve your life. Amy's new book is "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" and Jennifer's is "Wild Connection: What Animal Courtship and Mating Tell Us about Human Relationships."
Listen to show live at the link, tonight, Sunday, August 31, 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or listen at the link afterward or subscribe free on iTunes or Stitcher:
Chasing The Boys
It's better if the boys are chasing you, but I never did make varsity.
Someone on Twitter just reminded me of a photo I dug up and sent to the Free Press that they didn't use in Patricia Montemurri's big features section story on me and on "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck." I was on boys cross country in junior high. Because...because...that's where the boys were!
P.S. The wind was blowing. My hair was not *that* big!
Well, *That* Should Do It!
Everybody drop your weapons! Angelina Jolie has condemned the civil war in Syria.
I'd like to take this moment to condemn genocide and the wearing of flip-flops in places that do not have shower heads.
Which reminds me -- I have a quote on that in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck":
More of my Pins here.
I Support Free Odiousness
"If we don't believe in free expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."-Noam Chomsky
Links wearing tiny black eye patches.
Predictable Responses About Maternity Leave
A UK survey, reported in The Guardian, finds that businesses are wary about hiring women and mothers:
A third of managers would rather employ a man in his 20s or 30s over a woman of the same age for fear of maternity leave, according to a new study. A survey of 500 managers by law firm Slater & Gordon showed that more than 40% admitted they are generally wary of hiring a woman of childbearing age, while a similar number would be wary of hiring a woman who has already had a child or hiring a mother for a senior role.
A quarter said they would rather hire a man to get around issues of maternity leave and child care when a woman does return to work, with 44% saying the financial costs to their business because of maternity leave are a significant concern.
The study also showed that a third of managers claim that women are not as good at their jobs when they come back from maternity leave.
What's your experience in the workplace? What do you think makes sense?
Who's In Charge? Oh, just Chester The Molester II
The former acting director of cyber security for the United States Department of Health and Human Services was convicted this week on child pornography charges upon completion of a four-day federal trial in Nebraska.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice announced that Timothy DeFoggi, 56, was convicted by a federal jury in District of Nebraska of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiracy to advertise and distribute child pornography and accessing a computer with intent to view child pornography in connection with his membership in a child pornography, according to a press release published by the DOJ.
Feel all cuddly and safe because government is protecting you and your children?
The Way Of The Shahida
Shahid (in Arabic, "witness") means "martyr" in Islam (shahida is the feminine) and Islam tells its followers that they'll get a much better life in paradise if they martyr themselves for Allah.
From a Hadith (Jami' At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3, No. 1663, p. 410):
Al-Miqdam bin Ma'diykarib narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: "There are six things with Allah for the martyr: He is forgiven with the first flow of blood (he suffers), he is shown his place in Paradise, he is protected from punishment in the grave, secured from the greatest terror, the crown of dignity is placed upon his head - and its gems are better than the world and what is in it - he is married to seventy-two wives among Al-Huril-'Ayn of Paradise, and he may intercede for seventy of his close relatives."
Perhaps this is what led two teen girls to plot a suicide bombing of a French synagogue in Lyon. Madeline Grant writes at Newsweek:
According to JSS News and Europe 1, a source from the French security agency the Central Directorate of Homeland Intelligence revealed that two Muslim girls, aged 15 and 17, were arrested in the Tarbes and Venissieux neighbourhoods a week ago, after authorities uncovered a plan to carry out a suicide bombing inside the Great Synagogue of Lyon. They were indicted on August 22nd for conspiracy to commit terrorism.
An unnamed security source also revealed that the two teenagers had never met, but communicated only via social media. "These girls were part of a network of young Islamists who were being monitored by security services," said the unnamed security source. Security services are becoming increasingly concerned with online radicalisation, particularly following the proliferation of videos created by jihadist groups such as Islamic State.
Once again, Europe is becoming a dangerous place to be a Jew. Only now there are tiny Hitlers in headscarves and many more male tiny Hitlers doing their (sometimes bumbling) best to kill the Jews.
RELATED: 16 percent of French citizens found to support ISIS.
Incredulous, but with linkage.
How Real Life Is Not Like A Porno
My neighbor obviously doesn't watch porn. She asked me to come fix her sink, I been here for an hour and i'm still fixing the damn sink.
Remember When Women Used To Demand Equal Treatment?
Now the advice to men is this: "Leave the women alone, even if you think they merit criticism."
As I've said it before, women are now demanding to be treated like eggshells, not equals.
Five Problems With CA's Idiotic And Dangerous "Affirmative Consent" Bill
Ashe Schow lays them out at the WashEx. Here's one problem with it -- that even the bill's co-author!! is clueless about how one could prove they'd received affirmative consent:
1. A vague definition of consent
The way this bill defines "affirmative consent" could open the door to a flood of sexual assault accusations, but provides no clear way for the accused to prove they obtained consent.
The bill requires both parties involved in sexual activity to provide an "affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement," and stipulates that a "lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent."
Further, the bill requires consent to be "ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time." And just because a couple has a prior dating history or has engaged in sexual activity previously "should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent."
So what specifically constitutes consent? The bill leaves the door open for non-verbal consent to be accepted, as George Mason University School Of Law professor David Bernstein noted in the Washington Post, but provides no tangible way to prove that consent -- verbal or non-verbal -- was obtained.
In fact, asked in June, the bill's principal co-author, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, had no clue how one could prove they received affirmative consent.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Lowenthal told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. "I think it's a legal issue. Like any legal issue, that goes to court."
Well that's so, so helpful when you're in a college dorm room in the heat of the moment wondering whether you need to get papers signed to get a blowjob.
If that's not ridiculous enough, it gets better:
K.C. Johnson, a history professor at Brooklyn College and City University of New York who co-wrote a book about the 2006 Duke lacrosse rape case, told the Washington Examiner that the only way college students could truly prove they obtained consent would be by "recording the entire sexual encounter."
Of course, Johnson noted, "such a recording could in and of itself violate criminal law and college policies."
As for ensuring that consent is "ongoing," Johnson said "California students would be wise to interpret the measure as stringently as possible -- that is, there must be consent for every single stage of the activity."
And Johnson believes that consent would have to be verbal, since colleges and universities could claim the accused "misinterpreted a non-verbal cue."
Other issues Schow lays out include: "How intoxicated is too intoxicated?" and the awful "preponderance of evidence" standard instead of the criminal standard of "without a reasonable doubt."
Age Is Only An General Estimate Of A Person's Abilities
There's a WSJ piece by Sheila V. Kumar on the tragic shooting accident in Arizona in which a wee 9-year-old girl, pictured at the link, was handed an automatic weapon (set on automatic):
The death of a shooting instructor at an Arizona gun range when a 9-year-old girl lost control of a powerful automatic weapon has raised the issue of age limits at such operations.
...Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of the book "Gunfight: The Right to Bear Arms in America," said shooting ranges can adopt their own policies on how old a person has to be to handle their weapons.
"Generally there are no age restrictions to use a shooting range. As long as the minor is supervised by an adult, there are no laws barring minors from shooting firearms," Mr. Winkler said.
"There's nothing wrong with having children at gun ranges," he continued. "Shootings at gun ranges are freak accidents. They don't happen very often. Usually there's no place where shooters are more supervised than on a gun range."
However, he added, that it is unusual for a 9-year-old to fire an Uzi, because they are sizable, and "young arms might not be well equipped to handle the power of the firearm."
Should it be up to the state to come up with some arbitrary age? I don't think so.
Any instructor at a gun range has to recognize that his job is probably a little more inherently dangerous than that of a can stacker at a supermarket. It should ultimately be up to the instructor to make decisions about his own safety vis a vis how far and on which weapons he'll let a child or a person who doesn't look all that Herculean go.
I would also put the blame here on the parents.
Abstinence (Of A Sexual Kind) Works Best On Deserted Islands
Deserted of all life forms, that is, including increasingly cute-looking feral goats.
Anyway, the point of this post -- I just love when people (like a guy on Twitter today) suggest that the answer to not getting a girl pregnant is "abstinence!"
More of my fun here from "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," which I hope you'll buy!
More On Sperm Stealing To Force Men Into Child Support
It happens. How often? Too often if you're the guy who's now "Daddy!"
I posted this on my linkies post in response to a comment sneer about my earlier post on this, "I Hope You Stop Giving Out Horribly Sexist Advice!", with a reader of my column screeching at me for daring to tell men this:
Of course, the single worst form of birth control is trusting that a woman -- especially a woman longing for a baby -- is actually taking or using hers. A mitigating factor is whether she's shown herself to be ethical. Consider whether that describes your girlfriend. If not, you might want to make that a requirement for any partner of yours -- before you find yourself reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" aloud for the 300th time in a week, as it's the only way to keep your toddler from screaming like a goat being slaughtered.
I also link to a paper I heard presented at an ev psych conference that found that more than a third of women surveyed had risked getting pregnant without the consent of or even the discussion with their partner.
Shawna Cohen tells one of these stories where a pregnancy occurred at Mommyish:
Here's how it happened, according to Houston Press. Joe Pressil began dating his girlfriend, Anetria, in 2005. They broke up in 2007 and, three months later, she told him she was pregnant with his child. Pressil was confused, since the couple had used birth control, but a paternity test proved that he was indeed the father. So Pressil let Anetria and the boys stay at his home and he agreed to pay child support.
Fast forward to February of this year, when 36-year-old Pressil found a receipt - from a Houston sperm bank called Omni-Med Laboratories - for "cryopreservation of a sperm sample" (Pressil was listed as the patient although he had never been there). He called Omni-Med, which passed him along to its affiliated clinic Advanced Fertility. The clinic told Pressil that his "wife" had come into the clinic with his semen and they performed IVF with it, which is how Anetria got pregnant.
The big question, of course, is how exactly did Anetria obtain Pressil's sperm without him knowing about it? Simple. She apparently saved their used condoms. Gag. (Anetria denies these claims.) [tagbox tag="IVF"]
"I couldn't believe it could be done. I was very, very devastated. I couldn't believe that this fertility clinic could actually do this without my consent, or without my even being there," Pressil said, adding that artificial insemination is against his religious beliefs. "That's a violation of myself, to what I believe in, to my religion, and just to my manhood," Pressil said.
The answer: Make dating ethical women a priority.
A Marriage Of Government And Protectionism For Traditional Wedding Venues
Napa government refuses to let wineries hold any events -- like weddings -- that aren't about wine, writes Inez Feltscher at the IJ, pointing out how ridiculous this is, when wineries can bring in the same 200 people, as long as they're happy about pinot and not about two people's happy day:
When most people think of California's Napa County, they imagine the sight of beautiful hillside vineyards and the smell of grapes. For many engaged couples looking for wedding venues, those hillsides seem like just the sort of idyllic backdrop they want behind them as they say their "I do's." Maybe that's why in 2013 over 3,000 couples tied the knot in and brought over $101 million in business to...nearby Sonoma County? That's right--even though Napa is the more developed and famous of the two counties, it netted under half of that revenue last year, with only about 1,300 weddings. That's because of a little-known ordinance from the Napa County Board of Supervisors that forbids wineries in Napa from hosting non-wine-related events, including weddings.
What does the Board of Supervisors have against wedding bells? Well, for one, when wineries can't hold weddings, hoteliers and other business that can host nuptials get to hoard that lucrative business for themselves. There are even a small number of "grandfathered" wineries that want to keep their mini-monopoly on winery weddings at the expense of their competitors. Talk about a marriage of convenience between government and business.
...Even if winery weddings in Napa Valley were to bring in more tourists, it's unclear why the events the wineries are already permitted to hold don't have the same effect. As it stands today, a Napa winery can host that exact same 200-person party, but as long as they bill it as a "wine education" event instead of a wedding, they're in the clear. It's not obvious why a person visiting the area for a big "wine education" party is a crucial part of the Napa Valley economy, but that same person visiting to watch his friends or family pledge to have and hold is somehow ruining the atmosphere.
Napa's winery wedding ban doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon. Local wineries have tried for years to change the ordinance, and have always failed. In fact, as recently as 2010, the Board made the restrictions even tighter.
Probable Cause Is So 1789
That's the date James Madison introduced the Fourth Amendment in Congress.
The Tacoma police are having none of that. Merely existing with your cellphone in use is enough to get swept up in their giant data suck.
Kate Martin writes in the Tacoma News-Tribune:
The Tacoma Police Department apparently has bought -- and quietly used for six years -- controversial surveillance equipment that can sweep up records of every cellphone call, text message and data transfer up to a half a mile away.
You don't have to be a criminal to be caught in this law enforcement snare. You just have to be near one and use a cellphone.
Known as Stingray, the device -- small enough to be carried in a car -- tricks cellphones into thinking it's a cell tower and draws in their information.
News that the city was using the surveillance equipment surprised City Council members, who approved an update for a device last year, and prosecutors, defense attorneys and even judges, who in court deal with evidence gathered using the surveillance equipment.
...The devices are indiscriminate in the information they collect, and that bothers civil libertarians.
"They are essentially searching the homes of innocent Americans to find one phone used by one person," said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C. "It's like they're kicking down the doors of 50 homes and searching 50 homes because they don't know where the bad guy is."
City Manager T.C. Broadnax said he does not know the specifics of what the police department bought. But he believes the department "adequately briefed the City Council on the particulars of what we were buying and how and when they would use it under certain circumstances."
"I'm not in law enforcement, but it's my impression that it assists them in doing their job more effectively, and that's to protect the public," Broadnax said.
Newsflash, Buttnax -- you don't protect the public by yanking away civil liberties.
That Awful "Moralistic Language Used To Describe Al Quaeda ... After The 9/11 Attacks"
Professor Michael J. Boyle writes in The New York Times -- incredibly -- to chastise us for our mean language about Al Qaeda and other Islam-driven fundamentalist death cults:
PHILADELPHIA -- The beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has rightly provoked global condemnation of the insurgent group and its horrific tactics. Yet it has also led to a disturbing return of the moralistic language once used to describe Al Qaeda in the panicked days after the 9/11 attacks.
In an eerie echo of President George W. Bush's description of the global war on terrorism as a campaign against "evildoers," President Obama described ISIS as a "cancer" spreading across the Middle East that had "no place in the 21st century." Secretary of State John Kerry condemned ISIS as the face of a "savage" and "valueless evil," while Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, called the group "barbaric."
They behead James Foley as easily as most of us step out for a latte. Yeah, that's "savage" and "barbaric" and, yes, "evil."
Boyle favors more of a Barbie's Dream House (with Burkas and beheadings) view of ISIS:
Unlike Al Qaeda, whose dreams of forming a caliphate were little more than mysticism and hyperbole, ISIS now occupies large swaths of Syria and Iraq, administering social services and running rudimentary Shariah courts in its claimed Islamic State. In other words, it operates less like a revolutionary terrorist movement that wants to overturn the entire political order in the Middle East than a successful insurgent group that wants a seat at that table.
Yes, poor dears...just a "successful insurgent group that wants a seat at that table."
And about those Shariah courts, Dave Urbanski at The Blaze writes:
"These militants will return us and our country hundreds of years backwards," Umm Mohammed, a 35-year-old teacher, told AFP, "and their laws are the opposite of the laws of human rights and international laws."
...They decreed in a 16-point document the prohibition of the selling and consumption of alcohol and drugs, smoking, carrying weapons, and gatherings. In addition, women are ordered to wear non-revealing clothes and keep to their homes -- and "shrines" are to be destroyed. In fact all depictions of people are considered idolatrous under their extreme interpretation of Islam, and gunmen have removed some statues from the city, including those of famous poets.
Linkie with an even dumber name.
"Je Vous Écoute": Well, Not From A Phone Booth In Paris, You're Not
End of an era in Paris -- the last of the phone booths are carted off. Photo by E. Tarr.
"Je vous écoute" -- "I'm listening to you" -- was the answering machine message of a guy I dated for a while in Paris. Love the brief outgoing messages. I quote my painter friend Max Ferguson's in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck": "Machine, beep, etcetera."
I met Max back when I was living in New York. I called a wrong number -- Max's number -- thought he sounded interesting, and kept talking.
10 Acts Of Jihad In America That Americans Haven't Heard About
From Robert Spencer at JihadWatch. Here's one:
5. Florida: Muslim who threatened "2nd 911″ found guilty of terror charges
In mid-June, a Tampa Muslim named Sami Osmakac was convicted of plotting to bomb a Tampa bar and then blow himself up in a jihad-martyrdom suicide attack in another crowded area of the city. Osmakac said of non-Muslims: "We will go after every one of them, their kindergartens, their shopping centers, their nightclubs, their police stations, their courthouses and everything until we have an Islamic state the whole world."
Sura 9:5 from the Quran:
And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
The ridiculousness is our notion that we will stop the jihad commanded by Islam by repurposing Cinnabon workers, dressing them up in faux cop uniforms, and stationing them at airports to feel us up and violate our Fourth Amendment rights.
As I write here:
If the TSA's actual mission were its stated one - "protect(ing) the Nation's transportation systems" - checkpoints wouldn't be staffed by low-wage, unskilled workers, and they wouldn't be searching everyone. They certainly wouldn't be waiting until terrorists get to the airport to root them out. Meaningful measures to thwart terrorist acts require highly trained law enforcement officers using targeted intelligence to identify suspects long before they launch their plots.
No More Hugs
Randye Hoder writes in the LA Times about the new rules for camp counselors; they basically amount to "Don't go anywhere near the children!"
He quotes Karen Goldberg, director of youth and family programs at a local YMCA:
Times have changed. There are more lawsuits, more claims of sexual harassment and abuse. We have to be really careful.
From Hoder's piece:
"Don't hug the campers." That was among a handful of things that my 16-year-old son, Nathaniel, was told when he volunteered this summer at our local YMCA. Oh, and also, "Don't let any kids sit on your lap."
He had signed up to help shepherd and supervise a gaggle of 7- and 8-year-olds from the swimming pool to the arts and crafts studio to the playground to the basketball court.
Since everyone knows that kids naturally like to give and get hugs, Nathaniel was presented the directive to refrain with a visual demonstration. The director of the camp showed him how, if a cute little tyke came running at him with arms wide open in expectation of a hug, he was to pivot so as to be standing sideways toward the camper, put up his hand up and say, "High five!" The "high five," the director explained, was the best way to avoid torso-to-torso contact without hurting the camper's feelings.
... At our Y, the counselor in charge can't go and help her because the camper is now naked. Actually, it is two female counselors who cannot help her because of the rule that says no camper is ever to be left alone with just one. They have to try to talk her back into the suit -- a feat that, as any parent of young children can attest, has roughly the same odds of success as having her try to program a supercomputer. If, ultimately, the counselors have no choice but to lend a hand, they will have to fill out a report and the Y will notify a parent so that no misunderstanding about an inadvertent touch of the tush ensues.
What is most confounding, perhaps, is that we have layered on all this caution even though our kids are no more in danger now than they ever were.
Linkie post put up by a tired person who should be all back to life by Wednesday at some point.
I accidentally posted this on my blog instead of in "Columns," but I'll leave it up here. (Deadline day! Tired!)
My girlfriend of a year is really pretty and sweet, and we love all the same outdoor activities. However, I feel there's a ceiling on our connection because she lacks a strong personality of her own. Whenever we discuss something to do, she defers to me. Also, I care deeply about politics and ideas, but she doesn't read newspapers or books or develop her own opinions. Two days ago, I asked about something we'd just heard on the news, and she basically parroted my opinion back to me. I pressed her, saying, "But what do YOU think?" She couldn't answer. This led to my suggesting that maybe she needs to see a therapist to learn to open up more. She was pretty offended, and we haven't talked much since.
When you say to your girlfriend "So, what are your thoughts on the Middle East?" you'd rather she didn't respond, "Like, you mean, Philadelphia?"
It is nice that you both enjoy the same outdoor activities. Having shared interests can sometimes be essential. For example, a guy who lives to sail would find it a downer to date me. As I wrote in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," I have motion sickness issues, "which is to say I get carsick on any street with more than five turns in it -- for example, the winding mountain roads of Washington, DC."
But barring an obsessive attachment by one partner to a sport that, say, makes the other hurl her insides into the ocean for days, people put too much emphasis on having a lot of interests in common. You just need to have enough in common. And in addition to physical chemistry, you need to have what I call a crush on your partner as a human being. This means having respect and admiration for them and a sense of excitement about who they are and how they go about life. Respect is the opposite of contempt -- the sneering disgust for a partner that marriage researcher John Gottman finds is the biggest predictor a couple will divorce. And unfortunately, respect is also the antithesis of what you, as a guy who cares about politics, have for a woman whose favorite Supreme Court justice is probably Judge Judy.
The reality is, your girlfriend isn't going to lean back on some therapist's couch and find her opinion between the pillows -- at least not any time soon. Chances are, she has little innate curiosity and has maybe spent much of her life under the mistaken impression that you can keep a man by keeping mum and nodding yes. In the future, when you meet a woman, instead of just taking stock of all the reasons you'd work as a couple, look for reasons you wouldn't -- like if her peers as political thinkers appear to be your hamster and the paperweight that fell behind your desk. A woman who's right for you will take your thoughts, political and otherwise, and run with them and sometimes bring back something better -- making you better for being with her instead of making you suspect her skull contains only a goldfish swimming around a little castle and a couple of plastic plants.
"I Hope You Stop Giving Out Horribly Sexist Advice!"
This question below from my column is just in papers now and won't appear on my site for a while, but check out what a horrified female reader finds "sexist" -- advice intended to (gasp!) protect men from deceptive women leading them into unwanted fatherhood.
That question from my column and my response:
Hot To Tot
Is there a way to make sure someone is on birth control? My girlfriend says she is, but I don't believe her. I know she really wants to have a baby. I'm not ready to be a father yet -- or maybe ever -- so I need to get to the bottom of this.
You're perhaps more of an adoption man -- into adopting the sort of little rascal you can leave tied to a parking meter during brunch without anybody calling social services on you. Unfortunately, a man has limited control over whether a woman he's with gets a bun in the oven with his DNA baked into it -- that is, unless he gets snipped or padlocks his zipper and chucks the key in the ocean. Of course, the single worst form of birth control is trusting that a woman -- especially a woman longing for a baby -- is actually taking or using hers. A mitigating factor is whether she's shown herself to be ethical. Consider whether that describes your girlfriend. If not, you might want to make that a requirement for any partner of yours -- before you find yourself reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" aloud for the 300th time in a week, as it's the only way to keep your toddler from screaming like a goat being slaughtered.
Here are a few of the woman's sneers and impressive leaps to conclusions (BC is "birth control") :
•Really ... Trusting women to take their own BC is the WORST BC option?
•A man has tons of options to protect himself from accidental pregnancies, putting the onus on the woman is abhorrent
•Many? MANY? Right, we're all baby-hungry immoral, unethical hopeful breeders
•"A man has limited control over whether a woman he's with gets a bun in the oven with his DNA baked into it" absolutely false.
She did offer the absolutely brilliant suggestion that men wear condoms.
The reality is, condoms shouldn't be sole form of birth control for man unprepared to be called "Daddy," as women have been known to defeat (save the condom, turkeybaste).
And if I had a son, I'd sure counsel him about the possibility this could be done to him -- same as I'd counsel him to watch his wallet when he gets on the Paris subway line I think of as "The Pickpocket Special."
Is this "sexist"? No, but now people accuse others of sexism whenever they don't rubberstamp the feminist party line that women can do no wrong and men (who haven't been coopted into feminist victimthink) are all giant warring turds with a penis.
An article on "sperm theft."
UPDATE: I couldn't remember where I read the study on this -- but I'm off deadline and have found it. It was by Melinda Spohn -- "Risking pregnancy for "Mr. Right": unintended pregnancy and female mating preferences" -- and I heard her present at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference in 2006, and Robert Franklin writes about it here:
Melinda Spohn, a social worker and researcher at Spokane Falls Community College in Washington, decided to study why so many of her clients told her that their pregnancies were unplanned, despite the variety of easily available birth control.
Some of the women admitted that they had not used birth control with guys who had appealing characteristics. To determine whether such behavior is widespread, Spohn surveyed nearly 400 women at two community colleges. More than a third of women said they had risked pregnancy in the past with men who had attractive qualities--such as commitment to the relationship, good financial prospects or the desire for a family--but hadn't discussed the possibility of pregnancy with their partner. It was unclear how many women actually became pregnant.
Now, it seems clear that this is far from a definitive study. The women chosen were enrolled at one of two community colleges, meaning that they don't represent the universe of all women in the United States, all sexually active women or even all female college enrollees. But what the study strongly suggests is the need for more research into exactly what Spohn inquired about - what percentage of sexually-active women sometimes lie about their use of birth control in order to become pregnant by a man they deem a good candidate?
That's Question One. For me, Question Two would involve just how they go about convincing the man not to protect himself against fathering a child he doesn't want. Again, of what exactly do those communications consist? And what do the men think when they're told "I'm on the pill?" Do they believe her unequivocally? Do they have reservations?
Whatever the precise answers to those questions are, what Spohn's findings strongly suggest is that it's extremely common for women to either lie or mislead about using birth control for the purpose of conceiving a child.