December 27, 2014

WELL, WE KNOW WHAT’LL BE ON CNN FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS: AirAsia plane loses contact with traffic control in Indonesia.

ANOTHER FAKE HATE CRIME: Fresno Mosque Christmas Day Attack Turns Out Not as Police, Media, ‘Islamophobia’ Grievance Industry Expect. “Police announced today that the suspect arrested in the attack is 28-year-old Asif Mohammad Khan, who, according to news reports, is a Muslim who used to attend the mosque and did the attack in response to bullying by some in the mosque.”

ED DRISCOLL: Ride The Social-Justice-Warrior Mobius Loop! “I miss the days when football was merely football, and the end of World War II was merely the end of World War II.”

THOUGHTS ON PROFESSOR-STUDENT DATING. The interesting discussion is in the comments.

YOU SPELLED “ABSURDLY OVERSENSITIVE” WRONG: More on Teaching (and Examining) Today’s Sensitive Law Students. I’m happy to say that I’ve seen none of this behavior from my own law students, and I would view it quite critically if I did.

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SCIENCE: Best predictor of divorce? Age when couples cohabit, study says.

For years, social scientists have tried to explain why living together before marriage seemed to increase the likelihood of a couple divorcing. Now, new research released by the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families gives an answer:

It doesn’t. And it probably never has.

This is despite two decades of warnings from academics and social commentators who pointed to studies that claimed a correlation between “shacking up” and splitting up – warnings that increased as the number of couples living together before marriage skyrocketed.

As it turns out, those studies that linked premarital cohabitation and divorce were measuring the wrong variable, says Arielle Kuperburg, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who produced much of the research released Monday. The biggest predictor of divorce, she says, is actually the age at which a couple begins living together, whether before the wedding vows or after. . . .

Couples who begin living together without being married tend to be younger than those who move in after the wedding ceremony – that’s why cohabitation seemed to predict divorce, Professor Kuperburg explains. But once researchers control for that age variable, it turns out that premarital cohabitation by itself has little impact on a relationship’s longevity. Those who began living together, unmarried or married, before the age of 23 were the most likely to later split.

Interesting. Even more interesting is that it took this long for anyone to notice. Plus a suggestion that modern marriage is designed to fail without considerable effort:

“Marriages require much more maturity than they once did,” she says. In the 1950s, husband and wives stepped into well-defined gender rolls. “Nowadays, people come to marriage with independent aspirations and much greater ideas of equality. Maturity is so important, and negotiating skills are so much more important.”


AN INTERVIEW WITH BUZZ ALDRIN. The thing is, I’ve known Buzz since the 1980s — we were on the NSS board together for years — and he’s not stuck on the Moon landing. That’s everyone else. Buzz, after a rough period in the 1970s, has always been looking forward. And he’s a lot deeper and more thoughtful than this profile suggests. I didn’t know Lois as well, but I always liked her. I’m sorry they broke up.


PETER BERKOWITZ: The Demise Of Due Process On Campus.


21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: “I certainly felt like a pioneer posting about my divorce on Facebook.”

DISSENT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF PATRIOTISM: Cops Turn Backs On DeBlasio As He Takes Stage At Murdered Officers’ Funeral.

SCIENCE: Scientists discover just IMAGINING exercising can make you stronger, tone your muscles, and delay or stop muscle atrophy. Well, it’s no substitute for actually working out, but I do remember Arnold Schwarzenegger saying that he spent a lot of time mentally visualizing his muscles growing and that he thought his superior efforts at this helped his performance. So maybe there’s something to it.

SO SHOULD WE DESTROY THE IRS BECAUSE IT’S A POLITICAL THUG AGENCY? OR BECAUSE IT’S FATALLY INCOMPETENT? IRS Says it ‘Mistakenly’ Penalized GOP Candidate Christine O’Donnell For a Second Time. “Although IRS officials removed the levy, they first withdrew all the funds from her account. They said that, too, was in error and the funds would be returned to her. The funds have not been replaced, Ms. O’Donnell said.”

Note, meanwhile, that Al Sharpton faces no similar “mistakes.”

Flashback: Kevin Williamson: The Emerging Junta.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: LSU Offers Buyouts (1 Year’s Salary) to Seven Tenured Profs Over 65; Dean Hopes They Will ‘Retire With Dignity.’ As opposed, I guess, to being kicked to the curb.

ASHE SCHOW: The Year Of Campus Sexual Assault That Wasn’t:

The story did not turn out to be as advertised. Jackie, who told Rolling Stone she had a date the night she was allegedly gang raped, made up the story about the man who supposedly took her to the frat party — even creating fake cellphone numbers and sending her friends pictures of an old high school classmate, according to three friends who said they rushed to her aid the night of the alleged attack. That night, her friends recalled, Jackie said she had been forced to perform oral sex on a group of five men. By the time the story made it into Rolling Stone, she claimed she had been gang-raped by seven men.

Activists quickly tried to shift the narrative, claiming that the accuracy of Jackie’s story didn’t matter and that sexual assault really was as big a problem as they insisted. Anyone who disagreed was called a “rape apologist.”

Then came another blow: The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report showing that one in 41 women were raped or sexually assaulted while attending college, not one in five. Everyone agrees that one is too many, but some also believe that one false accusation is too many as well. Others do not, claiming that false accusations are rare (based on decades old studies or anecdotes that don’t take into account what is now being considered sexual assault). The implication being that the falsely accused don’t matter.

So, what does this mean for 2015? Next year the focus probably will continue to be on due process rights for the accused, especially given the growing number of lawsuits against universities by accused students that could move forward or be settled. And with more people realizing just how damaging the responses have been to the mythical statistic that 20 percent of women will be raped during their college years, policies may change.

Money for lawyers. Yay!

IN THE MAIL: From Catherine Asaro, Undercity (Skolian Empire).

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 597.

KICK THE CHICKEN, KOWTOW TO THE MONKEY: Forget about North Korea and The Interview: For decades Hollywood has been censoring its own output to protect access to the Chinese market.

It’s no mystery why Washington plays down Beijing’s cyber-transgressions in this realm. The Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” strategy depends on “pragmatic cooperation,” as the president puts it. There’s nothing wrong with this; engagement is necessary with a nation as large and powerful as China. But when the President also says it is time to discard “outdated zero-sum thinking” with regard to China, one wonders what he means. Not since President Nixon’s 1972 visit to Beijing have U.S.-China relations been dominated by zero-sum thinking. Is Obama naive? Or has the meaning of “pragmatic” changed, so that now there is no balance between security concerns and commercial self-interest?

Here’s the real difference between the chicken and the monkey—or maybe we should say gorilla. North Korea, with its paltry population of 28 million and its impoverished, closed society, is not a tempting market for U.S. companies. Nor does Pyongyang have a team of lobbyists defending its image in the United States. China, on the other hand, has more than a billion consumers hungry for everything that America produces, and its lobbyists, if you can call them that, are everywhere.

That brings us to The Interview. Two-thirds of the revenues for Hollywood blockbusters are generated from overseas markets. China is far from being the most lucrative of these—according to Ben Fritz of the Wall Street Journal, it is fifth on the list, after the UK, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. But it is already a cash cow for Hollywood, with revenue hitting $3.55 billion this year, up 32 percent in the first nine months of 2014. Transformers: Age of Extinction took the lead with $320 million in profits.

Measure this against the potential of a Chinese market completely open and friendly to U.S. entertainment products, and you have all the explanation you need for why American movies feature so many North Korean villains and so few Chinese.

This is the same reason why, back when the “solid South” was a Democratic stronghold, you got a lot of Confederacy-friendly or at least South-friendly stuff from Hollywood and academia, and now that it’s gone solidly GOP it’s a different story.

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Nine Questions For Hillary Clinton In 2015. Actually, they left out the big one: How do you reconcile your history of attacking Bill’s female accusers with your “war on women” rhetoric?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Statistics? We don’t need no stinkin’ statistics!

Who needs facts and statistics when you have a good narrative?

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., during an interview reported by Chuck Raasch of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, indicated that she was not happy about disputing statistics regarding campus sexual assault.

“Frankly, it is irritating that anybody would be distracted by which statistics are accurate,” McCaskill said.

This coming from a senator who has rallied around the one-in-five statistic and featured it in her own report about campus sexual assault. Now that new evidence suggests the incidence of campus rape is closer to one in fifty women over four years than to one in five, statistics suddenly don’t matter.

Yes, there seems to be a pivot from the science is settled: there’s an overwhelming rape explosion! to even one woman’s rape constitutes a crisis!

HATE CRIME: Police: Baby Jesus taken, replaced with pig’s head.

PUSHING BACK AGAINST BIG GOVERNMENT: Bill aims to get inspectors out of home kitchens, after residents complain.

Virginians who try to sell homemade food from their kitchens are feeling the heat from state and local inspectors.

“I have to turn down my neighbors when they ask if they can buy pesto I make from my own basil plants,” says Bernadette Barber, a farmer in Lancaster, Va.

And this isn’t just a rural phenomenon.

In Arlington, government inspectors shut down a home-based soup maker, even though no customer complaints had been registered. Others have encountered similar fates, stripping them of needed income.

Legislation served up for the 2015 General Assembly would turn the tables.

HB 1290, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, would end home-kitchen inspections on items produced for direct sale. The goods would bear a label stating that the products are not for resale and were processed without state inspection.

“If someone wants to buy food from someone, what business is that of the state?” asks Matthew French, a farmer in Bland, Va. “The state basically comes at you with a gun, and says you can only buy from state-approved supplier.”


TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Rice ISD substitute teacher/aide charged with inappropriate relationship, sexual assault. “A Rice woman investigators say was a teacher’s aide or substitute teacher in the Rice Independent School District has been charged with sexual assault of a child and improper relationship between and educator and a student.”

FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS: Cathy Young: The Crusade Against “Rape Culture” Stumbles. “The Rolling Stone account of a horrific fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia, which many advocates saw as a possible ‘tipping point’—a shocking wake-up call demonstrating that even the most brutal sexual assaults on our college campuses are tacitly tolerated—has unraveled to the point where only a true believer would object to calling it a rape hoax. . . . It also looks like Jackie made up both ‘Haven’ and the sexual assault he supposedly engineered in an attempt to get the romantic attention of Ryan Duffin, one of the friends she called for help that night. Tellingly, her lawyer has not commented on these revelations. . . . Will 2015 see a pushback against the anti-’rape culture’ movement on campus? If so, good. This is a movement that has capitalized on laudable sympathy for victims of sexual assault to promote gender warfare, misinformation and moral panic. It’s time for a reassessment.”

REMEMBERING the Christmas Truce of World War I. Had it lasted, Western Civilization would be in a very different place now.

UM, NO: Obama says US less racially divided.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Hollywood Barbarian: The Romantic Genius of John Milius. Excerpt: “I love this episode because it illustrates the mythic dimensions of Milius’ reputation in Hollywood, the way in which he came to resemble the charismatic and unpredictable and dangerous heroes he created for the screen. And Kael’s reluctance to confront the filmmaker whose art she did so much to degrade, her alternation between rhetorical ferocity and social cowardice, is characteristic of certain types of left-wing movie folk, as we see today in the studio reaction to threats made against The Interview.”

December 26, 2014

THE UGLY JUNCTURE OF ELITISM AND OIKOPHOBIA: Students Rally Around Peer With ‘No Sympathy’ For Dead Cops At $60,000-A-Year Brandeis.

IS THERE ANYTHING IT CAN’T DO? Can beer boost brain power? “New research has shown that a chemical compound in beer may be able to improve cognitive function. The beverage once thought to obliterate brain cells when consumed in abundance may actually have the opposite effect and boost brain power.” As always, the good/bad effects are dose-dependent. . . .

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THE “ISLAMIC STATE” IS A STATE, to the same degree that “Woodstock Nation” was a nation.

FALLEN ANGELS LOOKING MORE AND MORE LIKE PROPHECY: Video: WH Science advisor says man made global warming saving us from another ice age.

FASTER, PLEASE: Existing Drug May Prevent Foggy ‘Old Age’ Brain. “Researchers at The Rockefeller University and The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found they could stop normal, age-related memory loss in rats by treating them with riluzole. This treatment, they found, prompted changes known to improve connections, and as a result, communication, between certain neurons within the brain’s hippocampus.”

I’ve always felt that I think and remember more clearly when taking phosphatidylcholine supplements, though that’s not an age-related thing as I’ve been doing it for decades. These are what I’m taking now, though I’ve taken many brands without much noticeable difference.

MICHAEL WALSH: With Two Years Left, The Inflection Point Of The Obama Presidency. “This is not about Obama suddenly grabbing ahold of himself and remembering to dance with what brung him: this has been the end game of the entire Obama presidency from the start. The re-election of 2012 was crucial, for without it the entire scheme would have collapsed. They — campaign guru David Axelrod and the others who foisted Obama on the body politic — had to get him to this point in order for the plan of rule-by-fiat to be fully operational.”

UPDATE: From the comments: “The government is in open rebellion against its people.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The scientific reason you should put booze into your pies.

RAND SIMBERG: The Nutritional Junk Science of Our Government Nannies.

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Chicago (22%), Philadelphia (35%) Law Schools Suffer Large Enrollment Declines.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Anti-DeBlasio Banner Flown Over New York City.

Rank and file New York City police officers dramatically escalated their feud with Mayor Bill De Blasio Friday. A group of them reportedly hired a plane to fly over the city while carrying a banner that said: “De Blasio Our Backs Have Turned To You.”

The plane reportedly flew five circles above the Hudson River before returning to a local airport.

Even Dinkins had nothing like this kind of hostility from the police department.

THE YEAR IN robots.

MORE ERRORS FROM Neil de Grasse Tyson. More here.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Pennsylvania ‘cheer mom’ of 3 arrested for having sex with daughter’s 17-year-old classmate in parked car. “Gibney, a mother of three, was a volunteer cheer mom at Pottsgrove High School where her daughter is a member of the cheerleading squad, reports NBC Philadelphia. The victim also attends the high school.”

SCIENCE: A New Study Suggests That People Who Don’t Drink Alcohol Are More Likely To Die Young. “The tightly controlled study, which looked at individuals between ages 55 and 65, spanned a 20-year period and accounted for variables ranging from socioeconomic status to level of physical activity. Led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin, it found that mortality rates were highest for those who had never had a sip, lower for heavy drinkers, and lowest for moderate drinkers who enjoyed one to three drinks per day.”

You don’t want to be anti-science, do you?

PROTEST BLOWBACK: After NYC Deaths, a Surge of Support for Police. The thing is, though, that Sharpton, et al., aren’t trying to win over the public, they’re trying to consolidate a hard core of support.

GOOD POINT: The Other Film Canceled Because Of The Sony Hack. Will it get a new lease on life?

“P.S. – the answer you’re looking for is 42.”

IN THE MAIL: From Mercedes Lackey, Collision: Book Four of the Secret World Chronicle.

Also, Today’s Deals in Movies & TV.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 596.

MEGAN MCARDLE: If Single-Payer Can’t Work In Vermont. . . .

“But Megan!” I hear you cry. “Single-payer systems are cheaper, not more expensive! Look at Europe!”

Alas, however, as I wrote at the time, there is nothing about single payer that will magically allow us to cut costs to European levels. People who believed otherwise were substituting a crude eyeballing of international statistics to substitute for reasoned analysis, in part because it told them what they wanted to be true: that they could have the universality and progressiveness of a single-payer system without having to ask the taxpayer for a giant heap of money to provide those benefits. They were, in the words of one of my favorite public-policy professors, “getting high on their own supply.”

Now, I know what you are preparing to say: I am allowing my ideological priors to blind me to the plain evidence in front of my nose. So let me explain. I concede that single-payer systems may well allow you to control the rate of health-care cost growth, thanks to government price controls on supplies and services, along with rationing or denial of expensive treatments. What it doesn’t allow you to do is easily cut the rate of health-care spending. None of the single-payer systems that are frequently held up as models for the U.S. have ever managed sustained cuts in health-care spending. All they’ve done is prevent it from growing so fast.

Also, I note that Vermont is small and fairly homogenous, yet still couldn’t pull it off.

AUSTIN BAY: A Few Confirmation Questions for Obama’s SecDef Nominee.

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USA TODAY: Wussy Nation: Why Is America So Easy To Scare Now?

WHEN POLITICAL NARRATIVES MEET FACTS: Campus sexual assault under fresh scrutiny after new survey shows lower incidence.

When President Obama announced in September his “It’s On Us” initiative to combat college sexual assault, he declared that “an estimated 1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted in her college years.”

“One in 5,” Obama repeated, to drive home the point.

But now, in the wake of a new federal Department of Justice report showing the incidence of rape and sexual assault on campus at far lower levels and trending down over the last decade, that statistic is being called into question.

Well, that’s because it’s bogus. Which doesn’t stop Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D-Mo): “Frankly, it is irritating that anybody would be distracted by which statistics are accurate.”

Old narrative: The statistical proof of our argument is overwhelming!

New narrative: Our argument is too important to be undermined by mere statistics!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HATERS: “This kind of hate is all about progressive ideas of ‘social justice.’”

I’M PRETTY SURE THIS MEANS AMANDA MARCOTTE IS TRANSPHOBIC OR SOMETHING. Actually, I guess it would be “trans-insensitive.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Belt Tightening 101: Mitch Daniels has helped Purdue keep costs down for students.

Prior to his arrival in 2012, tuition at Purdue had gone up every year for 36 years, with annual hikes averaging close to 6 percent in the previous decade. Daniels has frozen tuition for three straight years and slashed room and board costs by 10 percent. “Instead of asking our students and their families to accommodate their budgets to our spending,” he says, “let’s see if we can’t adjust our spending to their budgets.” Purdue’s class of 2016 may graduate without ever having seen a tuition hike.

Erica Smith, a recent communications graduate from Michigan City, says that the tuition freeze was long overdue. She financed her education with loans she’ll be repaying for at least 25 years. “I feel hopeless almost,” she says. “But most of my friends have as much debt as I do. We joke about paying it till we die.” Smith says that cost hikes while she was a student added between $4,000 and $6,000 to her overall debt. “If tuition continues to rise, Purdue will be out of reach for middle-class people, like my niece,” whom she hopes will one day follow her to West Lafayette.

Daniels achieved the tuition freeze in part by postponing raises for some administrators, and some faculty members volunteered to forgo raises as well. Information-technology consolidation, bulk purchasing, eliminating off-campus storage, disposing of surplus property, and improving cash management also contributed—all techniques from Daniels’s playbook as governor. The former Indiana governor’s efforts to control costs have attracted national attention.

As they should. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit, because universities haven’t really tried much to control costs. That will have to change.

BARACK OBAMA: One-Man Revolution.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Why weight training is better for your waistline than running.

Actually, I suspect that most InstaPundit readers have heard this before.

SHOCKER: Mega Rich Overwhelmingly Donated to Democrats in 2014.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: The Booming Economy vs. The Struggling Middle Class.

December 25, 2014

PUT MY SEAT IN THE NON-GRINCHING SECTION, PLEASE: Passenger tossed after flipping out over staff’s ‘Merry Christmas.’

REMEMBERING: The Last Victorian Leviathan Steam Ship.




‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, as edited by a Social Justice Warrior.

SISTERS: Forty Portraits in Forty Years.

MERRY CHRISTMAS: O Come, All Ye Faithful.

JINGLE BELLES: Christmas Is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Be a Stripper.

WELL, SHE KINDA LOOKS LIKE AN ELF: This Contortionist Has Real Flex Appeal.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS: O Come, O Come Emanuel.

APOLLO 8: Christmas At The Moon.


With my nephew, Harrison.


IN THE MAIL: From William D. Gairdner, The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree.

VIDEO: I Saw Daddy Pat Down Santa Claus (A Very TSA Christmas).

Okay, this is from a few years ago, but I enjoyed the whole Island Christmas thing!

UPDATE: Is this rampant hyper-masculinity appropriate for Christmas? Sorry if you’re offended by all the testosterone!


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Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 3.42.49 PM

CLAUDIA ROSETT reviews The Interview.


Via Molly Lewis. Entire Wade Johnston Christmas Extravaganza here.

IT’S ALWAYS NICE TO MAKE TWITCHY, but it’s especially nice to make it while slamming Nancy Pelosi for hypocrisy on Charlie Rangel’s tax dodging.

THE HORROR: Christmas is filled with one patriarchal construct after another. “Even the secular Christmas songs are ubiquitous in their praise of male characters: ‘Frosty the Snowman,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ and of course, Santa Claus. Santa Claus, a white male who, by the way, gets all the credit for labour overwhelmingly done by women.”

Imagine the author in your mind’s eye. Now click through and look at the photo. You were right, weren’t you? And even without this tip at the bottom: “Latham Hunter is a writer and professor of communications and cultural studies.”

Update: Original link is now a 404, but the article and the author’s photo are still online here.



SMART: JetBlue offering free flights to cops to attend slain NYPD officers’ funerals. “The New York-based airline is also working with its partners to have family members of one of the slain officers, Wenjian Liu, flown in from overseas.”

December 24, 2014

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: U.S. offering $5 million reward for Al Qaeda capo … who was released from Gitmo in 2006.

JIM TREACHER: This Is What America Means To Me.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How To Be Intoxicated.

HMM: Off duty, black cops in New York feel threat from fellow police. But there’s also this:

“It makes good headlines to say this is occurring, but I don’t think you can validate it until you look into the circumstances they were stopped in,” said Bernard Parks, the former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, who is African American.

“Now if you want to get into the essence of why certain groups are stopped more than others, then you only need to go to the crime reports and see which ethnic groups are listed more as suspects. That’s the crime data the officers are living with.”

Blacks made up 73 percent of the shooting perpetrators in New York in 2011 and were 23 percent of the population.

I’d be interested in hearing whether the non-black minority members of the NYPD have this experience, too, or if it’s just the black cops.

THE MAN BEHIND the Empire State Building’s Christmas Light Show.

A FISH, A BARREL, A SMOKING GUN: Moe Lane On Naomi Klein’s Knowledge of Science Fiction.