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April 06, 2015

Overnight Open Thread (4-6-2015)

Quote of the Day I

Teen voters, the younger the better, are exactly what the left is looking for. They know no history; they base all of their decisions on emotion; they have no real world experience in terms of what works and what does not. They haven't the slightest idea of discipline or delayed gratification. They live in a world of fantasy and wish fulfillment; they make demands that cannot be met but they're willing to settle for an ice-cream cone. They are utterly dependent on others; they're desperate to conform to the cultural norm, and in general they are the perfect, pliable, ignorant, utterly emotional, reason-free, easily-manipulated vote farm that the progressives need for their power grab.

-- Bill Whittle

Quote of Day II

Yes, I'm so old that I can remember when all right-thinking people deplored Scalia's Smith opinion and saw RFRA as a moral duty. But that was when cute, peyote-using Native Americans might benefit; now that it's those beastly, mouth-breathing Christians in flyover country who might benefit, religious exemptions are obviously horrible.

-- Instapundit

See also: Fen's Law

Mark Steyn: The Closing of the Middle Land

John Moulton was a distinguished judge, a man of science, and a chap who held the splendid title during the Great War of Britain's "director-general of explosive supplies," a job he did brilliantly. Lord Moulton divided society into three sectors, of which he considered the most important to be the "middle land" between law and absolute freedom - the domain of manners, in which the individual has to be "trusted to obey self-imposed law." "To my mind," wrote Moulton, "the real greatness of a nation, its true civilization, is measured by the extent of this land." By that measure, our greatness is shriveling fast: The land of self-regulation has been encroached on remorselessly, to the point where we increasingly accept that everything is either legal or illegal, and therefore to render any judgment of our own upon the merits of this or that would be presumptuous.

A small example: The other day, I visited a Shaw's supermarket in New Hampshire. On the front door was a sign: "No bare feet - for Health & Safety reasons." Really? Yes, it's true that the bare foot is particularly prone to fungus and bacteria, and one wouldn't want it promenading in large numbers around the meat department - in the same sense that it would be unhygienic to take a leak in the produce department. But the reason a civilized person neither urinates nor pads barefoot amid the fruit and veg is not that it's a health-code violation but that it's (in the Moulton sense) ill-mannered. Shaw's can no longer rely on its clients to know this (and to "obey self-imposed law" ), and it apparently feels it cannot prohibit such behavior merely as an affront to societal norms, so it can disapprove of barefoot shopping only as an act of regulatory non-compliance.

...A land of hyper-regulation is not the same as a land of law. The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled on two cases of British women whose employers forbade them to wear crucifixes - one an NHS nurse, the other a British Airways baggage handler. The court ruled against the nurse but in favor of the baggage handler. Why? What particular legal principle illuminated both cases? Don't ask the jurists. Re the BA employee, they declared that "the court has reached the conclusion in the present case that a fair balance was not struck." How is BA or any other employer to know what constitutes a "fair balance"? They can't - or not reliably. Only the state and the courts can definitively establish that, by colonizing Moulton's "middle land" unto policing dress codes, religious expression, social habits, and even casual conversational exchanges.

Or, as we now know, policing the kinds of cakes one is compelled to bake.

As that Shaw's sign suggests, a kind of civic paralysis sets in: It is a small step from a citizenry that no longer knows how it should act to a citizenry that no longer knows whether or if it can act, and from there to a citizenry that can no longer act. When everything is the domain of law, everyone is potentially a criminal. Over the decades, National Review has been famously antipathetic to Ayn Rand, but she called this one a long time ago. In Atlas Shrugged, one of her characters muses: "One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

Which is about where we are.

Jonah Goldberg: Crushing the Safe Harbors

Indeed, this whole ridiculous, insane, paranoid, sanctimonious, bullying, freak-out has me despairing for the country. I don't know that I can do another stem-winder on the liberal gleichschaltung or the fact that real, meaningful, diversity must be a diversity of customs, institutions, and communities. Civil society is where life happens; we want it to be as rich an ecosystem as it can be. That means tolerating -- or even celebrating -- hippies and drag queens in San Francisco, but it also means tolerating -- or even celebrating -- religious and observant people, too. All RFRA was intended to do was to give millions of Americans a little space to be and do what their religion tells them they must. If that faith goes too far, than the common good trumps it. But short of that, let people be for God's sake.

No one would confuse me for a particularly pious or religious person. If properly compensated, I would happily bake a cake for a gay wedding -- or write a special "news"letter for some lesbian nuptials -- myself, though I don't expect there's a big market for that (but make me an offer!).

But I also believe that in a perfect world businesses should be able to decline service to anyone for almost any reason. I firmly believe in the right of people to exit systems and institutions they do not want to belong to. I'm much less committed to the idea that people must be able to join any institution or group they want to just because they want to. I could have sworn that even liberals believed that freedom means the freedom to create the rules you want to live by, individually and collectively. In a perfect world, campus Christian groups could have rules barring, you know, non-Christians from joining. Call me a utopian, but I think the producers of the "Vagina Monologues" should not be bullied into including performers with penises (giving a whole new meaning to "cast member").
Megalothymia is a term coined by Francis Fukuyama. It's a common mistake to think Fukuyama simply took Plato's concept of "thumos" or "thymos" and put a "mega" in front of it because we all know from the Transformers and Toho Productions that "mega" makes everything more cool.

But that's not the case. Megalothymia is a neologism of megalomania (an obsession with power and the ability to dominate others) and thymos, which Plato defined as the part of the soul concerned with spiritedness, passion, and a desire for recognition and respect.

Fukuyama defined megalothymia as a compulsive need to feel superior to others.

And boy howdy, do we have a problem with megalothymia in America today. Everywhere you look there are moral bullies utterly uninterested in conversation, introspection, or persuasion who are instead hell-bent on grinding down people they don't like to make themselves feel good. If you took the megalothymia out of Twitter, millions of trolls would throw their smartphones into the ocean.

Make no mistake: This is a problem across the ideological spectrum, because it is a problem of human nature in general and modernity in particular. But in this context, it's a special malady of elite liberalism.

See also Ace's various posts on "altruistic punishment".

Dennis Prager: Life Lessons from the German Air Disaster

Depression and lack of conscience aren't the same.

We've heard repeatedly that Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was being treated for depression - as if that largely explains why he did what he did.

Yet, every one of us knows one or two depressed individuals, and it is inconceivable that they would commit mass murder. As a number of Lincoln biographers have noted, most recently Richard Brookhiser, the great president was probably depressed all his life. And he was a moral giant.

Lubitz murdered 149 people because he was a narcissistic individual who lacked a properly functioning conscience. The number of people walking around in the world with a broken moral compass is quite large. Not all of them are depressed. And I am not only referring to violent Islamists. The U.N. just voted to condemn one country in the world for mistreatment of women: Israel. Are all those U.N. ambassadors depressed?

9th Circuit Rules Netflix Isn't Subject To Disability Law Regarding Closed Captions

SCOTUS: GPS Trackers Are a Form of Search and Seizure

Russia Threatens NATO With 'Nuclear Force' if Russian Interests in the NATO Baltic Countries Are Thwarted

Also: Putin's Way of War

For an example of the kind of scenario that could come to pass in Europe, consider this essay by a pro-Ukraine writer named Thomas C. Theiner. Numerous caveats apply: Theiner presents an alarmist chain of events that is obviously at the extreme end of what Putin might attempt, his antipathy to Germany's political elite is similarly extreme, and the overall style of the piece inspires no great confidence that every technical detail presented therein is correct. Based on what we have seen in Georgia and Ukraine, I would expect any action Putin took against the Baltics to be more incremental than the scenario Theiner describes.

Yet what Theiner imagines-a Russian seizure of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania that relies on an assault on Sweden's Gotland Island-is well enough argued in its broad strokes to be a useful thought experiment. Putin rapidly seizes Sweden's lightly defended Gotland Island, informing the Swedish government that the invasion is merely temporary and to the end of protecting "Russian speakers in the Baltic States from 'fascist NATO aggression.'" The Russian military can then emplace what the military calls "anti-access/area denial" weapons (precision missiles, basically) in an advantageous spot in the middle of the Baltic sea where they are not vulnerable to the Polish military, as such weapons are in Kaliningrad.

By doing so, Russia makes reinforcing or resupplying the Baltic states from the sea extremely difficult. ...NATO is split, and a coalition of the willing, led by the U.S., the UK, and Poland, tries to help the Baltic states. But due to the Russian presence on Gotland and a refusal on Germany's part to cooperate, getting military assistance quickly to the Baltics or to their neighbor Poland is no easy matter. Poland essentially stands alone.

Sonny Bunch: It's Good that We Are Raising a Generation of Humorless Scolds

Even the traditional April Fools day versions of college newspaper are leading to butthurt and angry scolding from the Special Snowflakes.

When I first read the Cav Daily's apology-which I saw before I had heard about the social media mob that had been rounded up-I hoped it was actually a parody. It sure read like a rather humorous indictment of stupid people getting outraged about something they didn't understand!

...But no. It's not satire. Hurting the feelings of easily offended people who don't grok satire is, in fact, something that they consider to be inexcusable.

There are now calls on Twitter and elsewhere for the managing board of the Cavalier Daily to resign for daring to run pieces of satire that some people didn't like. Honestly, they probably should. If they can't stand up to a few agitated folks who are feeling all the feels, they have no business being journalists.

VDH: How California's Drought Was Engineered by Jerry Brown and Others

Brown and other Democratic leaders will never concede that their own opposition in the 1970s (when California had about half its present population) to the completion of state and federal water projects, along with their more recent allowance of massive water diversions for fish and river enhancement, left no margin for error in a state now home to 40 million people. Second, the mandated restrictions will bring home another truth as lawns die, pools empty, and boutique gardens shrivel in the coastal corridor from La Jolla to Berkeley: the very idea of a 20-million-person corridor along the narrow, scenic Pacific Ocean and adjoining foothills is just as unnatural as "big" agriculture's Westside farming. The weather, climate, lifestyle, views, and culture of coastal living may all be spectacular, but the arid Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area megalopolises must rely on massive water transfers from the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, or out-of-state sources to support their unnatural ecosystems.

...The Bay Area remains almost completely reliant on ancient Hetch Hetchy water supplies from the distant Sierra Nevada, given the inability of groundwater pumping to service the Bay Area's huge industrial and consumer demand for water. But after four years of drought, even Hetch Hetchy's huge Sierra supplies have only about a year left, at best. Again, the California paradox: those who did the most to cancel water projects and divert reservoir water to pursue their reactionary nineteenth-century dreams of a scenic, depopulated, and fish-friendly environment enjoy lifestyles predicated entirely on the fragile early twentieth-century water projects of the sort they now condemn.

Note also that 80% of California's water goes to agricultural uses. So all the new restrictions aimed solely at non-ag consumers will end up just annoying people with only minimal impact on overall water usage. See also megalothymia and altruistic punishment.

Death of a Captain

Captain Donald Alexander Malcolm Jr., 60, died Feb. 28, 2015, nestled in the bosom of his family, while smoking, drinking whiskey and telling lies. He died from complications resulting from being stubborn, refusing to go to the doctor, and raising hell for six decades. Stomach cancer also played a minor role in his demise.

Don cherished family above all else, and was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He met his future wife, Maureen (Moe) Belisle Malcolm, after months at sea, crab fishing. He found her in his bed and decided to keep her.

Their daughter Melissa was born "early" six months later. They decided to have a boy a couple years later, and ended up with another daughter, Megan.

He taught his girls how to hold their liquor, filet a fish and change a tire. He took pride in his daughters, but his greatest joy in life was the birth of his grandson Marley, a child to whom he could impart all of his wisdom that his daughters ignored.

After spending his formative years in Kirkland, Wash. with a fishing pole in hand, Don decided his life's calling was to yell at deckhands on commercial fishing boats in Alaska. As a strapping young man of 19, he moved to Dutch Harbor to fulfill this dream.

Over the next 40 years, Don was a boat cook, mechanic, deckhand, captain and boat owner. Although Don worked nearly every fishery in the Pacific Northwest at one time or another, his main hunting ground was the Bering Sea. He cut his teeth crabbing; kept his family fed by longlining halibut and black cod; then retired as a salmon gillnetter in Southeast Alaska.

Don had a life-time love affair with Patsy Cline, Rainier beer, iceberg lettuce salads and the History Channel (which allowed him to call his wife and daughters everyday in order to relay the latest WWII facts he learned).

He excelled at attempting home improvement projects, outsmarting rabbits, annoying the women in his life and reading every book he could get his hands on.


Diana Ross and the Motown Charm School

Maxine Powell, although she didn't write songs or play any instruments, was arguably as important as anyone employed at Motown Records in the 1960s. Diana Ross once described her as:  "the person who taught me everything I know". For five years from 1964 Powell taught grooming, poise and social graces to all the stars of Motown including The Jacksons, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Marvelettes, Mary Wells and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. "She was such an important, integral part of what we were doing here at Motown," Robinson once said, "It didn't matter who you became during the course of your career - how many hits you had, how well your name was known around the world - two days a week when you were back in Detroit you had to go to artists' development. It was mandatory."

Here Powell explains her role at Motown:

I did join the company in 1964,  they asked me to open up a finishing school there - so I did. I opened in 1964 a finishing school, Motown Finishing School, and I worked with the artists on, first thing we worked with was - who are you? And, what makes you tick? I don't teach singing. So I also told the artists that, ah, they would, this department would groom and polish them so that they could appear in number one places around the country and even before the king and queen.

Of course the youngsters, you know they came from humble beginning and some were rude and crude from the street and the projects. But with me, it isn't where you come from is where you're going. So I told them where they would be appearing. And they laughed and said that I was out of my mind because all they wanted was a hit record. And this is what we did, we worked with developing class.. it's a funny thing no matter who you are when you purchase a flower or a plant, the first thing you ask is how do I keep this plant and keep it growing beautiful. People need the same concern and that's what Motown artists got.



And will pay you 500 Euros for it. And then you have to leave.


The Yahoo AoSHQ group - it's got electrolytes.

And my twitter thang.

Tonight's post brought to you by the quandary:


Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC and the FCC and FEC (permit #234176). Please e-mail thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to John E - he could use the harasssment.

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