The Bookworm Beat 5-27-15 — the “oy, such a day!” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265It’s been one of those days: I took two family members to two different doctors’ appointments, went to a work meeting, went grocery shopping, and cooked dinner. It’s 8:30 at night where I am, and this is the first time today that I’m sitting down at the computer.  I still have legal work to do tonight so this will be a very abbreviated post, in no small part because I haven’t had the chance to read a dang thing today. Still, for what it’s worth, here are a few things you might enjoy:

Bernie Sanders is a dodo

Bernie Sanders is a proud socialist (although his net worth is greater than Scott Walker’s, so perhaps he’s a proud socialist hypocrite, but anyway….). Bernie Sanders has announced that he wants to cut back on the number of antiperspirants and sneakers offered to American shoppers so that more children get fed. If you think that’s a non-sequitur, you’re correct. Only an economic illiterate would take — gosh, they’re not even close enough to be apples and oranges…. Let me try again:  Only an economic illiterate would conflate bottled water and tires, and insist that if we use less of one, we’d have more of the other.

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Lack of consent is entirely different from morning after regret

Man-in-bed-with-woman-6445007I think we’re all agreed here that, when it comes to sex, mutual consent is a good thing. In an ideal world, men and women would communicate with the type of clarity last seen when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. That, of course, is not what happens. Instead, things get physical first, and words, if any are used, are spoken last. It’s a dance.

For example, look at this clip from a 1943 film, The More The Merrier. She’s carefully interviewing him, while he’s single-mindedly intent on getting the kiss. As he moves on her, she wiggles and pulls away, only to stay well within his orbit. She speaks all those words; and he silently seduces her:

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Guest Post: Trigger-warnings mean people must remain victimized forever (by guest blogger Lulu)

Gillibrand on Fake Accusations of RapeAs a mental health professional, I find the storms raging at Georgetown and Oberlin University regarding Christina Hoff Sommers’ visit and speech as “triggering” and traumatizing to be beyond bizarre. My objective as a mental health professional is to empower people, to enable them to overcome trauma in order to live as fully as possible, to not be burdened by symptoms of depression or anxiety and to not let the entirety of their lives be dictated by a single trauma or even multiple traumas.

Do trigger-warning, safe-room advocates at colleges not believe that it betters people to overcome pain and move on, or is it truly their belief that no one, at any time, must ever expose a traumatized person to an opinion that differs from theirs on “triggering” topics in case they may become upset? It is impossible to control the world in such a way.

Perhaps the attempt to protect one set of victims by silencing or cancelling speakers may actually be “triggering” to another group of people, such as those individuals who have personally been victims of totalitarianism, kangaroo courts or punitive re-education, who are reminded of the fear brought about by not being allowed to voice their opinions and hear diverse viewpoints or face political prison. Is there a safe place on campus for those students who are re-traumatized by the attempt to shut down speakers or demand only “correct” speech?

People who have been in car accidents may be “triggered” by traffic or certain types of cars. People who have been mugged may be “triggered” by people resembling the attacker or by certain streets. People who have been at war may be “triggered” by the news or certain sounds. People can be reminded of loss by a song, a phone call, a book—in fact, by anything. Everyone who lives has faced loss and trauma of some sort. The longer we live the more loss or trauma we experience due to deaths of loved ones or other challenges. Some people have had substantially more than their fair share of trauma.

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Hey, Sweden! How’s that open immigration and PC-multiculturalism working out in your faux-socialist land?

swedish-rape-victimI was cruel to a young Swede the other day when, without being at all rude, I told him unpleasant, unnerving truths about his country. First, I told him that his country never really had socialized medicine. Instead, it had “paid for by America” medicine. During the Cold War, Sweden was able to put aside a nation’s first obligation to its citizens, which is to defend it against foreign enemies, when America took on that role. With the money freed from defense, Sweden could have pretend socialized medicine.

The second thing I told him is that Sweden never had real socialism. (Yes, I’m sure this is a shocker to many of you, because Sweden is considered the ultimate socialist success story.) The reality, though, is that Sweden never truly had an all-powerful central government. That anomaly is due to something sui generis about the Scandinavian countries: In the years after WWII these countries were small, racially homogeneous, and comprised of citizens all of whose minds had the identical values. This meant that Sweden’s socialism was more of a societal collaboration. It never needed the strong arm necessary for socialization in countries lacking any one of those specific and unique factors.

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A RANT: Jon Stewart exemplifies why Obama is in the White House

Jon StewartBarack Obama is a desperately bad president. The economy is flabby and gaseous, unemployment is at historic highs; he pretends that radical Islamists don’t exist while castigating Christians for crimes 1,000 years old; he sits passively by as aggressors dedicated to subjugating human kind make tremendous strides in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and the form Soviet bloc; he actively works to give regional dominance to Iran, a nation at perpetual war with Israel and America, and one, moreover, that subscribes to am apocalyptic brand of Islam that encourages the faithful to bring about Armageddon; he’s brought racial divisions to lows last seen in the Jim Crow era; and that’s just the start of the list.

And yet the Left worships him, votes for him, and almost savagely supports his agenda. Part of this worship is because of ideological blinders. Having elevated him to god status, garden-variety Progressives cannot deny the central tenet of their faith.  Part of it is that a lot of his acolytes agree with his accomplishments to date and encourage his goals.

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The Bookworm Beat 12/12/14 — Grabbing at headlines edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingI was talking with a friend of mine about the totally false alleged rape epidemic on America’s college campuses. While the epidemic may be false, the destruction wrought on young men is very real. Moreover, as false accusations crowd out the real ones, those young women (and men) who are genuinely raped are going to have an infinitely harder time getting taken seriously.

Thinking about this, I told my friend that past generations were probably wise to insist that sex wait until marriage and that, before marriage, young women should be chaperoned, rather than left alone with young men. It wasn’t just to protect the women’s virtue, it was also a way to protect the men’s honor. After all, since time immemorial, the truth about what happens between two people tends to be a mystery.

My friend had a better idea. Harking back to Obama’s recent insistence that all police have body cams, he suggested that all college students have body cams! I liked that idea.  Moreover, if the students can’t have a body cam, perhaps the next best thing (certainly for young men who don’t want to be falsely accused of rape) is the “Good2Go” app that makes explicit consent as easy as participating in an Instagram conversation.

We live in strange times. But as I often say, strange and difficult times make for good writing — so I’ve got a lot of good writing to bring to your attention:

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The Bookworm Beat 12/9/14 — Just a few quick links, and open thread

Another day, another trip to the doctor for my mother and, by extension, for me.  Here are just a few quick links before I go:

Cop cams are great if you don’t value your own privacy

The Brimfield Police Chief is at it again, dispensing common sense. This time, he’s talking about police cams, which he freely acknowledges would be a great thing for his department. With those cameras in place, many fallacious complaints would just vanish. He warns, though, that there’s a downside:

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The Bookworm Beat 12/4/14 — Plumber days and party nights edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingI spent a large part of my day hanging around waiting for the plumber to come and, once he came, hanging around while he did his thing. Surprisingly (for me, at least), this is not a complaint. I’m fortunate enough to have found a wonderful plumber (Marin residents can email me separately for referral info), and I’m just so happy to have my pipes in trustworthy hands.

How trustworthy? This is the plumber who, even though in a position to get an $11,000 job re-piping the main sewer line, said “Don’t be ridiculous. All you need to do is preventive rootering once a year plus RootX once a year. Problem solved.” I love this man and his team.

As for the party night . . . one of my soccer dad friends, going way back to when my kids were small, turns out to be a conservative. Not only that, he’s just a totally great guy — intelligent, kind, thoughtful, and the whole megillah of other positive adjectives. He’s hosting a little get-together tonight for a few of Marin’s hidden conservatives. I’m so looking forward to being in a room in which I can debate issues, rather than being baited about issues.

But before I go, I’m trying to jam out a few links I think you’ll enjoy. Forgive typos, ’cause I’m really rushing this one:

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The Bookworm Beat (9/26/14) — Friday wrap-up edition and Open Thread

Woman writingMy sister summed me up in a sentence: “For an incredibly neurotic person, you’re very normal and easygoing.” I know what she means. All my neuroses are turned inwards. They drive me crazy, but they don’t interfere with anyone outside of my brain. If you meet me, I’m friendly, good-humored, and well-mannered. I rarely take offense, and I’m always happy to help out.

I’m the living embodiment of the reminder to judge people by their deeds, not their thoughts. Unless of course, you think the deeds and the thoughts reflect on each other, magnifying each . . . which leads to me to:

The Obama latte salute

A military friend of mine had this to say:

What I find comical about this is the outrage. You’re surprised by this man? This is par for the course. And technically, he has no obligation to salute them back. A military officer not in uniform is only obligated to acknowledge a salute with a proper verbal greeting. My understanding is saluting the Marines of HMX-1 started with Reagan.

I think there are more important things to address about him like having absolutely no plan in Syria. This is comical considering the whole “what is our exit strategy?” nonsense during the Bush admin. We don’t even have an entry strategy here.

My friend is quite right, but I couldn’t resist reminding him about that outlook/action connection I mentioned at the start of this post:

I know that Reagan started it (and did you know that Reagan, whom the Left always castigated for not going to war, was in the Army Reserve as of 1937, and was barred from active duty during WWII only because of his vision?), so it’s not deep tradition, and I know that it’s not militarily necessary.

The thing is that, if it was clear that Obama really supported the military, and wanted to fight war in a way that’s not only ethical (which is a good thing), but that also keeps our troops alive and effective (another good thing), no one would have given a flying whatsit even if he’d hollered “Howdy, guys!” and blown soap bubbles at them. The optics mattered only because they were such a perfect visual representation of which we all know he actually thinks: “Blech!  Marines again! And now I have to figure out how, and how many, of those baby killers to ship overseas this time….”

And my friend, who is a gentlemen down to the marrow of his bones, shot back:

I agree, we already know how he feels about the military. Saluting is what we call a military courtesy. Failing to simply be courteous says something about character.

I have such interesting friends.

Regarding the worsening mystery virus affecting children, when does correlation equal causation?

We’ve been hearing for a couple of months now about a serious respiratory virus affecting children across America. It’s been so bad that hospitals have been turning them away.

Well, here’s some more news guaranteed to make you unhappy: the virus just got worse. According to AP, children are now showing up with a paralysis that seems to be in the polio family and that may be related to the mystery enterovirus. So far, only nine cases have shown up in Colorado, but there’s no telling where paralysis problem might end up.

The AP’s not the only one paying attention to the virus. The New York Times has a long article about its effects on children across America (emphasis mine):

An outbreak of respiratory illness first observed in the Midwest has spread to 38 states, sending children to hospitals and baffling scientists trying to understand its virulent resurgence.

I love that line about “baffled” scientists. It reminds me of a wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey remark in Busman’s Honeymoon, when he and his new bride find a dead body in their honeymoon cottage. Being famous, the Wimseys are immediately besieged the press, one of whose members, Salcombe Hardy, is an old friend (emphasis mine):

“Can I say you’ve got a theory of the crime?”

“Yes,” said Peter.

“Fine!” said Salcombe Hardy.

“My theory is that you put the corpse there yourself, Sally, to make a good headline.”

“I only wish I’d thought of it. Nothing else?”

“I tell you,” said Peter, “the evidence is destroyed. You can’t have a theory without evidence to go on.”

“The fact is,” said Harriet, “he’s completely baffled.”

“As baffled as a bathroom geyser,” agreed her husband. “My wife’s baffled too. It’s the only point on which we are at one. When we’re tired of heaving crockery about we sit and sneer at one another’s bafflement. The police are baffled too. Or else they confidently expect to make an arrest. One or other . You can take your choice.” (Sayers, Dorothy L., Busman’s Honeymoon, p. 242 (Open Road Media, Kindle Edition)).

I feel a little like sneering at some bafflement too — in this case, the bafflement of those scientists trying to figure out how a rare virus that is connected to polio managed suddenly to enter the United States and infect American children.

I know that correlation is not causation, but I also know that not everything is pure coincidence. Isn’t it at least possible that the headlines about a bizarre virus striking down American children for the past two months might have something to do with the headlines from the end of July informing Americans that tens of thousands of Latin American children, many of them sick with diseases not seen in American children, were crossing the border? And isn’t it also possible that this baffling respiratory and occasionally polio-like illness might have to do with the fact that the Obama administration popped these children on buses and airplanes and then sent them all across the United States?

Again, I’m not saying that there has to be a connection, but I’d at least like to see some scientist say, “We’ve considered the possibility that this virus came with the immigrant children, but rejected it because….”

But they’re not saying that. Instead, the MSM just pretends the children’s crusade from Latin America never happened — so much so that it won’t even assure is that there’s no connection.

The country’s in the very best of hands (a song that’s never been more timely, I think)….

The media keeps its message consistent no matter the subject

The fact is that the American media is well-trained and it follows the Democrat playbook no matter the subject. A case in point involves doggies that have been Trayvon Martinized.

About that poor woman beheaded in Oklahoma

We know a few useful things about poor Colleen Hufford’s horrible death: She was beheaded, her murderer was an ex-con Muslim convert who had just been fired for arguing that women should be stoned, and another woman was saved from a similar fate when a company official with a gun shot him.

The police are trying to play this as just another case of workplace violence, and that may be true. But even ordinary violence reflects a zeitgeist. A former convict (which is what Alton Nolen, aka ‘Keem Yisrael, is), who converts to Islam in prison, will have two seeds planted within him: violence and jihad.

As always in these cases, please remember what my cousin, the retired prison chaplain, said about those prison converts:

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

(Roger Simon has more on prison conversions to Islam and Caleb Howe has more on the lifelong anger and violence in Nolen that found its home in Islam) In other words, Nolen’s criminal history made him the kind of person who would commit murder — but his Islamic conversion made him the kind of person who would elevate this murder to the level of a jihad killing, complete with the sharia-compliant death of choice, namely beheading.

So yes, workplace violence or not, his religion mattered.

And what also mattered is that Nolen was stopped short by a gun. Jihad in America would be stopped pretty damn short if all of us were armed.

As for the shooting death of John Crawford in a Ohio Wal-Mart

John Crawford’s death is another one about which we know little, but it does look as if police were trigger-happy. Crawford was in a Wal-Mart aisle, someone called in a 911 because he was holding what looked like a gun, and the cops shot him. The video seems to show the cops firing instantly, without warning and, given how still Crawford was standing and the fact that his pop gun was pointed to the floor, they also shot without provocation. The cops, though, claim that Crawford was being threatening, something that might have been obvious outside of the silent film.

Radley Balko offers a great analysis of the bizarre intersections of so many societal issues in Crawford’s death: race, police malfeasance, societal paranoia about mass shootings, mental illness, etc. Something bad happened in that Wal-Mart, and two children lost their father.

I’m very interested in further facts. If Crawford’s behavior was frightening, so be it. But if trigger-happy cops killed an innocent man, let justice be done.

No, the Obama economy is not thriving

A few weeks ago, I asked for help rebutting a Forbes opinion piece claiming that the Obama economy is thriving, and that it puts the Reagan boom to shame. Just the other day, Forbes itself published an opinion piece rebutting that earlier, pro-Obama effort, and it’s a humdinger:

With the stock market cruising at all-time highs and the unemployment rate sitting at quaint levels, a fashionable new argument is making the rounds. Barack Obama is better at economic recovery than Ronald Reagan ever was.

The numbers make the case. Dow Jones Industrial Average the day President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 was 7950; today it stands at 17,000. Unemployment in his first full month, that February: 8.3%, versus 6.1% today.

Ronald Reagan could not quite touch this standard. The Dow began his presidency at 950 and chugged to 1800 after five-and-a-half years. A 90% gain is nice, but short of the 115% gain since 2009. Unemployment over that span went from 7.4 to 7.1%—welcome enough, but overmatched by the post-2009 record.

And all the while under Reagan, there was double the consumer price inflation as under the comparable Obama period (26% vs. 13%). Interest rates were higher. Prime was at 7.5% in September 1986, in contrast to today’s 3.3%.

Whatever crisis, whatever “stagflation” Reagan faced as he swept Jimmy Carter from office in 1980, the results that came in well into his presidency pale in comparison to what the nation would put up under the leadership of Barack Obama.

This argument has glaring flaws, the most obvious of which (from a statistical point of view) is that the labor force participation rate has collapsed under Obama, while it surged under Reagan, rendering any kind of comparison of unemployment rates inoperable. The bald economic growth numbers, for their part, are double in the Reagan (20.3%) than in the Obama (9.7%) case.

Read the rest here.

By all means, let’s have over the counter birth control

To me, even the smallest dose of birth control pills acts like poison on my system. For most women, though, today’s low-dose birth control pills have few serious side effects, if one discounts the fact that they’re messing with women’s entire hormonal and reproductive systems.

Given all the other stuff that’s sold over the counter, there’s no reason for the Pill not to become an OTC drug too. This will lower women’s health care costs dramatically, both by increasing competition at the purchase level and by doing away with the perfunctory, but costly, doctor’s visit that precede prescribing the pill.

Obamacare supporters, of course, are incensed that conservatives believe the Pill should be an OTC drug because that would strip away large parts of their argument about imposing costly and ethically troubling Obamacare “women’s health” regulations on every employer and insurance company in America.

Could this be the reason race hustlers do what they do?

The retirement of Eric Holder, Attorney General of the US and race hustler extraordinaire, resulted in one of Roger Simon’s best posts. Simon begins with Holder’s extremely sleazy history: The same man who prosecuted Dinesh D’Souza for a $20,000 act of stupidity was the federal prosecutor who enabled the disgraceful pardon of Marc Rich, an exceptionally corrupt man who dealt with Iran during the hostage crisis and was lined up for 300 years in prison.

From that disgraceful beginning as an unprincipled party hack, Holder went on to become a hatchet man for the racism racket who turned the Justice Department into a purely political office advancing Obama’s hard Left, anti-constitutional, race-based domestic policies. That history leads Simon to this interesting thought:

Now I have a theory about the etiology of Holder’s fixation on race. When you know deep down you’re a dishonest person, when you have had to eat the bitter pill of your own corruption who knows how many times (even Clinton finally admitted that he had gone too far pardoning Rich and damaged his own reputation), you have to invent a narrative for yourself to justify your activities. So over may years Holder developed what I have called elsewhere a “nostalgia for racism.” No matter that racism was diminishing in our culture, he had to keep racism alive, believe it was alive. If racism were going away, he would no longer have a raison d’être, an excuse for his biased behavior, an excuse, as it turned out, to go beyond the law, act unilaterally and punish political enemies.

Why, yes. That sounds just right.

Think of Syria as you read this bumper sticker

It took me a couple of seconds to figure out the message behind this bumper sticker, and then I thought “That’s excellent.”

Arm tomorrow's enemies

If you’d like one for your car, you can buy it here.

You can put lipstick on a male pig, but it’s still a male pig

With self-selected sex transmutations dominating headlines lately (“Lift ban on transgender military members“), I keep harking back to what I’ve said since the headline about a “pregnant” man (i.e., a woman who had her breasts surgically removed, and took hormones to grow facial hair). At the end of the day, when the surgically-adjusted, cosmetically-mutated, chemically-altered soft tissue is gone, and the bones are all that is left, what’s left is . . . the original sex.

To hold otherwise — to say that person who made this change is now actually a man or a woman, just because he or she wants to be — is a bizarre cultural delusion we’re fostering. On the great bell curve of biology, men are men and women are women, and that’s true regardless of surgery, make-up, hormones, and magical thinking. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accord the person the respect, when possible, of treating him or her as s/he wishes to be treated, but it does mean that we have to accept biological reality.

Case in point: Mixed martial arts. There, a man who went through the surgical, chemical, cosmetic process of appearing like a woman insisted that he be allowed to compete as a woman. The outcome was not pretty, as his opponent Tamikka Brents, who was born female, ended up with a massively broken eye socket and a concussion. Brents explained what happened to her:

In a post-fight interview this week, she told Whoa TV that “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life.”

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. ”

His “grip was different,” she added. “I could usually move around in the clinch against…females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch.”

I’m not a doctor either, but I’m pretty sure that, men have different bone structure and heavier muscle mass. Even if a man is taken female hormones, if he’s in the world of MMA training, he’s pushing those still-male muscles to the max. He’s going to be a muscle monster, with the weight of a man’s heavy bones behind him. At the end of the day, biology will not be denied.

Views from the climate change gala in New York

Power Line has a wonderful photo gallery from last weekend’s climate change extravaganza in New York. It’s got everything from the mounds of garbage left behind to the hypocritical celebrities to the hard Left people behind the climate change movement. Check it out. Laugh. Cry.

Then, if you want to laugh and cry some more, please enjoy Jeff Dunetz’s 48-item-long list of all the bad things that happen, according to the change-istas, because of climate change. Reading that list, I keep thinking of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, when Brian’s followers see everything he says as a sign of something insanely stupid:

Lies, damn lies, and British crime statistics

Since banning guns, Britain has become the most violent country in the first world. Certainly, the police are conflicted about the whole crime-fighting thing.  After all, the God of political correctness tells them that they shouldn’t fight crime if the criminals are blacks or Muslims.  The police have therefore figured out creative ways to massage the (non)crime-fighting numbers — they lie:

The culture of fiddling crime statistics is ingrained within the upper echelons of the police service where target-chasing has led to the under-reporting of serious crimes including rape, according to a report by MPs out today.

The MPs said a delay by Scotland Yard in addressing claims that rape figures were skewed was a “damning indictment of police complacency, inertia and lack of leadership”.

In attacking Rush, it appears that the female of the species is deadlier than the male

Rush Limbaugh went on the offensive to smoke out the small group of people trying to destroy his radio show through email and social media attacks against advertisers. What I noticed immediately is that, of the nine people engaged in this conspiracy, six are female. You’ll never have a 50/50 split in a group of nine people, but it’s telling somehow, that the group is heavily weighted on the women’s side.

I can’t decide if this is because women are indeed more vicious, or if it’s because the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle managed to turn Rush into a slayer of women in the deranged feminist mind, or if it’s simply random that in such a small group, there would be twice as many women as men. The fact seemed noteworthy, regardless of the reason.

No wonder women are raping as much as men are

Feminists have insisted that the definition of rape must be expanded far beyond the traditional definition, which pretty much was limited to a man using his penis to penetrate a woman vaginally, orally, or anally. Nowadays, every man’s touch, look, or verbal bullying is included in the definition of sexual assault, at least on college campuses. In this way, women can claim (and the Democrat party can campaign on) the canard that 1/5 of women on campus will be sexually assaulted.

Relying on the feminists’ own definition of sexual assault, Glenn Reynolds makes the compelling and convincing argument — supported by data — that women commit sexual assault every bit as often as men do. I believe this completely. If you read the trashy but informative Daily Mail on a regular basis, as I do, you’ll quickly discover that several times a week, and sometimes every day, there’s a story somewhere in America about a female school teacher forcing a sexual relationship on an underage male (or, sometimes, female) student. One comes away feeling that America’s students are taught by an army of nymphomaniacs.

Step back, puny mortals, and let the wind take over

One of the problems I’ve always had with the whole climate change theory is the centrality it gives humans. Humans have indeed shown themselves perfectly capable of trashing the local environment. From prehistoric man driving mammoths to extinction, to the Aztecs destroying every bit of protein in their region (hence the need for human sacrifices, which were later eaten), to the Soviets turning lakes into acid puddles, to American manufacturers doing their damndest to destroy our own lakes (until capitalism saved them), to the California Gold Rush stripping off sides of mountains, we are a destructive species. But there’s a quantum difference between making a terrible, and too often lasting, mess here and there, and altering the entire climate around the world, all the way until we touch outer space. That simply didn’t (and doesn’t) make sense to me.

What makes a lot more sense is a new theory that says that shifting wind patterns account for the changing climate along the Northwest. I find it especially intriguing giving the close connection between wind and sun (and I’m not just talking Aesop’s fables here).

I’m glad the New York Times had the integrity to report on this new climate theory, but I had to laugh at the opening sentence (emphasis mine):

A new and most likely controversial analysis of Pacific Ocean weather patterns concludes that a century-long trend of rising temperatures in the American Northwest is largely explained by natural shifts in ocean winds, not by human activity.

It must have choked the writer, Michael Wines, to concede in the next paragraph that the theory didn’t arise from the fetid swamps of whacked-out deniers but, instead, appeared in “the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….” Oh, yeah!

America’s topmost colleges accept robots and turn out morons

Okay, I’m exaggerating for effect in that subtitle. There is no doubt that America’s top colleges get to take in America’s best and brightest students and that they turn out products with a certain sheen.  I contend, though, that these new graduates are actually more indoctrinated than educated, but that’s just my opinion.   Or maybe it isn’t….

While they do not say that America’s premier colleges are turning out mindless Leftist drones, two Ivy League instructors have come out lately to that in their pursuit of the best and brightest, these institutes of higher education are producing boring, timid robits who will not take any chances, thereby stifling their own brilliance.

At The New Republic, you can read William Deresiewicz’s Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League, which has been shared on Facebook more than 191,300 times.

And at First Things, you can read Michael J. Lewis’s Children Who Never Play, which picks up where Deresiewicz left off.

In bureaucracies, the perfect is the enemy of the good

I credit Philip K. Howard with helping me move from mindless Left-liberalism to thinking conservativism. His book The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America, which I read shortly after it was published in the early 1990s, was an eye-opener because it made me realize that government not only is not the answer but that it can never be the answer.  It took me another decade to complete my journey across the Rubicon, but I definitely couldn’t have done it without him.

Just recently, Howard authored a piece for The Atlantic explaining how the Stimulus got wasted, not because of any specific corruption, but because the money vanished into the bureaucratic crevices created by a million rules:

Modern government is organized on “clear law,” the false premise that by making laws detailed enough to take in all possible circumstances, we can avoid human error. And so over the last few decades, law has gotten ever more granular. But all that regulatory detail, like sediment in a harbor, makes it hard to get anywhere. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act was 29 pages and succeeded in getting 41,000 miles of roads built by 1970. The 2012 transportation bill was 584 pages, and years will pass before workers can start fixing many of those same roads. Health-care regulators have devised 140,000 reimbursement categories for Medicare—including 12 categories for bee stings and 21 categories for “spacecraft accidents.” This is the tip of a bureaucratic iceberg—administration consumes 30 percent of health-care costs.

And finally, some marvelous photographs and a joke

Nope, not my usual set of posters but, instead, links to two wonderful sites. The first explains why you won’t see Israeli women in burqas anytime soon, while the second is a panoramic photograph taken shortly after San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. If you click on the image, you can zoom in to a specific spot; then, click again to zoom out.

Since I try to end on a laugh or uplifting note, here’s a delightful joke that a friend sent me (slight language warning), clearly in honor of Ezekiel Emanuel’s announcement that he, and everyone else, should try to die by or before age 75:

I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, she said I was doing fairly well for my age. (I am past seventy-five). A little concerned about that comment, I couldn’t resist asking her, ‘Do you think I’ll live to be 80?’

She asked, ‘Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?’

‘Oh no,’ I replied. I’m not doing drugs, either!’

Then she asked, ‘Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?’ ‘I said, ‘Not much … My former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!’

‘Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?’

‘No, I don’t,’ I said.

She asked, ‘Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?’

‘No,’ I said.

She looked at me and said, ‘Then, why do you even give a shit?’

The Bookworm Beat — 9/8/14 Optics edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingThis week, when it comes to the top stories, all is not as it seems. What struck me as I read through report after report, and opinion piece after opinion piece, is that we’re surrounded by a swirl of optics that belie the truth. Evidence to support this statement follows:

College student opts to illustrate optics of rape by toting around a mattress

The mainstream media is filled with a bit of performance art by Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia. Sulkowicz claims that three years ago, on her first night in the student dorms, a senior raped her. Sulkowicz eventually reported the alleged rape to the college, which opted not to expel the senior, despite the fact that other female students eventually charged him with rape too. Three years after the fact, Sulkowicz, a performance art major, has come up with a senior thesis that, as I said, has garnered a good bit of attention from the MSM:

Beginning this week, Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz has vowed to carry her mattress around at all times until her alleged rapist is expelled from school. The performance, which doubles as Sulkowicz’s senior thesis, instantly went viral and has been splashed internationally across Facebook, Twitter, and even the Today Show as the latest chapter in the ongoing conversation on how colleges handle sexual assault cases.

Sulkowicz, a visual-arts major, says she was raped by a classmate in her dorm bed sophomore year, and when she reported the incident to Columbia administrators they botched the report, the investigation, and the hearing. In April, Sulkowicz filed a Title IX complaint with 23 other students alleging Columbia has mishandled sexual assault cases.

Emma Sulkowicz

The MSM, understandably, is terribly excited by the optics here. Sulkowicz explains:

Over the summer, I was lucky enough to get into the Yale Norfolk Residency, and I worked on a video where I had to move a mattress out of the room. The idea of carrying a mattress got stuck in my head the way a song gets stuck in your head, and I unpacked why carrying a mattress is an important visual for me. I thought about how I was raped in my own bed at Columbia; and how the mattress represents a private place where a lot of your intimate life happens; and how I have brought my life out in front for the public to see; and the act of bringing something private and intimate out into the public mirrors the way my life has been. Also the mattress as a burden, because of what has happened there, that has turned my own relationship with my bed into something fraught.

What’s singularly missing from the articles I looked at (and I looked at 7 or 8) is any information about the rape. Was she asleep in her bed only to wake up to the feel of a knife pressed against her throat (as happened to a friend of mine who sports a large scar on her face that she received when fighting of her attacker)? Or had Sulkowicz invited the alleged attacker into her room and into her bed? Was Sulkowicz drunk or sober? Was her alleged attacker drunk or sober? The only detail Sulkowicz discusses is her claim that the attacker had anal sex with her. It’s still unclear whether they had any consensual traditional intercourse before the senior engaged in an act at which Sulkowicz drew the line or whether it was indeed a stranger rape or a rape without any preliminary consensual behavior.

Another interesting thing about Sulkowicz’s whole rape narrative is that Sulkowicz immediately decided not to report the rape to the police:  “I didn’t report it at first because I didn’t feel like dealing with the emotional trauma.”  Okay, I get that, but you can’t eat your cake and have it — unless, I guess, you’re an American college student.  In that case, you can claim that you were the victim of a genuinely criminal act, but bypass entirely the criminal justice system (which as built-in rights for the accused) and, instead, simply complain to your college.  Then, if the college refuses to follow the usual politically correct path of destroying the male student’s life, you take to the media, so he can again be tried without due process.  

I’m sure something happened that night in Sulkowicz’s bed.  I just can’t escape the feeling that what took place was something called “gray rape,” which boils down to a scenario in which a girl agrees to sex and then, feeling guilty about what she did, later cries rape.  The media, of course, doesn’t care.

The media’s credulity regarding Sulkowicz’s very self-serving claims (after all, she now has a performance art thesis that’s garnered her fame throughout the Progressive world) may come about in part because of the media’s readily apparent statistical ignorance.  After all, the whole “rape culture” (as in “1-in-5 college women will be raped”) is in itself totally untrue:

MYTH 4: One in five in college women will be sexually assaulted.

FACTS: This incendiary figure is everywhere in the media today. Journalists, senators and even President Obama cite it routinely. Can it be true that the American college campus is one of the most dangerous places on earth for women?

The one-in-five figure is based on the Campus Sexual Assault Study, commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and conducted from 2005 to 2007. Two prominent criminologists, Northeastern University’s James Alan Fox and Mount Holyoke College’s Richard Moran, have noted its weaknesses:

“The estimated 19% sexual assault rate among college women is based on a survey at two large four-year universities, which might not accurately reflect our nation’s colleges overall. In addition, the survey had a large non-response rate, with the clear possibility that those who had been victimized were more apt to have completed the questionnaire, resulting in an inflated prevalence figure.”

Fox and Moran also point out that the study used an overly broad definition of sexual assault. Respondents were counted as sexual assault victims if they had been subject to “attempted forced kissing” or engaged in intimate encounters while intoxicated.

Defenders of the one-in-five figure will reply that the finding has been replicated by other studies. But these studies suffer from some or all of the same flaws. Campus sexual assault is a serious problem and will not be solved by statistical hijinks.

Fundamentally, though, statistics and other icky facts just don’t matter to the Left.  What matters is control, something perfectly exemplified in an opinion piece in Britain’s Guardian.  The author, Jessica Valenti, accepts as true the overwhelming horrors of a campus “rape” culture (hyperlinks omitted):

Her performance may be singular, but the deep frustration voiced by Sulkowicz is being echoed by survivors across the United States. Despite increased efforts to curb campus assault and hold schools accountable – the FBI has changed its once-archaic definition of rape, a new White House task force wants answers, and schools like Harvard and Dartmouth have promised new policies – the nation’s university administrators are still failing young people in their care. In the last year alone, 67 schools have had students file federal complaints accusing their own colleges of violating the Clery Act or Title IX.

Oh, the outrage! College is a dangerous place for your daughter! Keep her at home, perhaps in a burqa. Oh, wait. Valenti isn’t saying that last bit. She just wants to control speech more and more (links omitted):

Late last week, the first state bill to require colleges to adopt an “affirmative consent” model in their sexual assault policies passed the California senate unanimously. The legislation, which is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval by the end of this month (his office declined to comment), effectively requires the presence of a “yes” rather than the absence of a “no” – or else withholds funding from the nation’s largest state school system.

The legislation additionally clarifies that affirmative consent means both parties must be awake, conscious and not incapacitated from alcohol or drugs – and that past sexual encounters or a romantic relationship doesn’t imply consent. The California bill also, importantly, specifies that “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent”.

It seems like a no-brainer to only have sex with conscious and enthusiastic partners, but detractors say the standard “micromanages” sexuality. The truth is that a “yes means yes” policy “helps to create a shared responsibility, instead of the responsibility falling on women to say ‘no’,” says Tracey Vitchers, chair of the board at Safer (Students Active for Ending Rape). Anti-violence activists are clearly excited about the bill, which – if all goes well – could be adopted by more states with large public university systems.

Pardon me for cynicism, but I don’t believe there’s a “rape culture” at college campuses. I believe that there is a “sexually-saturated, morality-free culture” at college campuses, brought about in large part by Progressive pressure on those same campuses to abandon the role of pater familias. Once upon a time, boys and girls lived in separate housing, and they were not allowed to take a person of the opposite sex to their rooms. Even when co-ed dorms first came into being, boys and girls occupied separate floors. Then, that changed so that they occupied the same floors, but had separate bathrooms. Now, they share everything — including copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that numb the smart parts of their brains.

My verdict based on the evidence available: Without more information, Sulkowicz definitely gets an “A+” for performance art and self-promotion. I’ll reserve judgment on the rape claim until there’s a full trial, complete with due process, a defense, and testimony under oath.

Obama — he of the Greek columns — explains that optics are hard

On Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press show, Obama finally deigned to explain why he went on a chortling, fist-thumbing golf game within minutes of announcing to the world that ISIS had decapitated an American citizen, something ISIS proudly filmed and then boasted about in a widely disseminated video. According to Obama, it’s just so hard to remember that the world is watching you. Somehow it’s unfair that the world’s eyes should be on the person who still bears the title of Most Powerful Man In The World, never mind that he’s reduced that power to the point where America’s weight in the world is no greater than any other little tin pot dictatorship’s world power.

Obama’s disingenuous claim that political theater is “not something that always comes naturally to me” unleashed a marvelous outrushing of tweets, some of which focused on his more egregious acts of political theater (faux Greek columns, speeches at the Brandenburg Gate) and others of which focused on his more embarrassing acts of visual ineptitude. Legal Insurrection has assembled some of these tweets.

Here are a few more for your enjoyment and delectation:

 

 

 

 

I’ll also add my favorite umbrella optic:

 

 

New Orleans Commemorates 5th Anniversary Of Hurricane Katrina

We’ve all faced that doorway moment but one just has to believe he could have handled it more adeptly.

Commenting on Obama’s risible statement about his deep feelings on learning of Foley’s death (feelings so deep that he was giggling on giggling on the golf course just a few hours later), Scott Johnson had this to say (emphasis mine):

In this case, the photographs suggest that Obama wasn’t all that choked up about the beheading of James Foley. They document that whatever emotion he felt, if any, dissipated very quickly. On that day, the photographs belied the theater. You might conclude that Obama is something of a phony on a matter of great concern to ordinary Americans. Thus Obama’s irritation.

One is struck both by the falsity and the petulance of Obama’s comments. I think Obama lies even to himself.

I disagree with Johnson’s last sentence, insofar as it implies that Obama, when he speaks of his deep feeling, knows that the opposite is actually true, and that he’s a shallow, self-involved, unfeeling man. Instead, I would argue that, when Obama told Chuck Todd that he was really quite shattered, and simply forgot that mere Americans wouldn’t understand the visuals of a man so sophisticated that he could go from shattered to silly within minutes, he was telling the truth . . . his truth. After all, the first rule of malignant narcissism is that the narcissist never lies. Since the truth is defined by his needs, when he makes a statement in accord with those needs, he is telling the truth or, more accurately, he is telling his truth.

The Gaza optics reveal that at least one of the dead wasn’t an innocent child

Elder of Ziyon examined the case of one of those poor, innocent civilians who died in Gaza as a result of Israel’s “unconscionable” Protective Edge assault. He found some damn interesting stuff too.

The optics of Britain’s dissolution are infinitely worse than the reality

A new YouGov poll makes it seem very likely that, after more than 300 years of being a United Kingdom, England will be disunited from Scotland: A majority of Scots suddenly seem inclined to go it alone as their own nation. Traditionalists who are moved by centuries of union, are horrified to think that they might live to see the day when Scotland and England part ways.

One could argue in opposition that what we’re seeing here is a necessary Scottish “reconquista,” as Scotland shakes off the shackles of a mere few hundred years of joinder with England in order to return to its more natural state, which was almost a thousand years of independence. That’s a silly argument, though.

John Fund makes a more serious and impressive argument when he says that, beneath the “it’s all falling apart” optics of dissolution, a Scottish vote in favor of disunion would be a good thing. Currently, Scotland sends a disproportionate number of Leftist members to the British parliament. Getting rid of them would give Tories (who are vaguely conservative) a majority. Additionally, once unanchored to the British treasury, hard Left Scotland might find it economically unfeasible to pursue socialist policies. Sadly, with the older generations dead and gone, I doubt that there’s any possibility that Scotland could revert to the hard-headed, self-reliant Scotland that gave America and the free world some of her greatest supporters of independence.

Scotland, of course, is banking on its oil revenue to keep it afloat, while England will mourn the loss of that same revenue. Again, though, oil may not be all its cracked up to be. As the Saudi countries show, oil money too readily props up otherwise broken, ineffectual economies. And as Venezuela shows, when a government becomes too socialist and broken, even oil money won’t help.

Optics and truth when it comes to American economic health under Reagan and Obama

I’m crowd-sourcing here. A Forbes opinion piece makes a compelling argument that Obama’s recovery economy is much stronger than Reagan’s was, with a better stock market, better corporate health, and better labor participation. I suspect jiggery-pokery here.

The argument I would make, and that many in the comments to that same article make, is that the stock market is propped up by government-printed money that doesn’t have actual wealth backing it; that the labor market is worse because more people have dropped out of the labor force and because the majority of jobs created are part-time or low pay; and that the federal debt and deficit mean that, to the extent we’re completely overextended, even the slightest economic tremor could trigger a massive economic collapse that will make 2008 look like the good times in retrospect.

I would value your input on this one. Both collectively and individually, you guys are better at economic data than I ever will be.

Alcohol, rape, and man-hating sharia on college campuses

Drunk woman in CardiffI thought it would be interesting to juxtapose two stories about drunkenness and rape.   The first is hearsay:  I heard it from a former judge’s clerk who was telling me about the funniest case she ever worked on, back in the 1980s.  I don’t have details, but I do remember the core facts she told me.  The second is ripped from today’s academic headlines.

The first case, which happened in the mid-1980s, was a rape trial.  The alleged rape took place at a beach party that involved lots and lots of booze.  The claim was that the victim was reclining in a beach chair when the defendant raped her.

The victim testified in sobbing detail about her terrible ordeal.  The judge passed a note to his clerk saying, “She’s dumb as a post.”  How right the judge was came out under cross-examination.  It quickly became apparently that the sex was entirely consensual because the “victim” had been so drunk she thought the defendant was her boyfriend — and she thought this even though her boyfriend was wearing a heavy cast on his leg that night, while the defendant was not.  The defendant was swiftly acquitted.

I guess it was that story, which I heard almost 30 years ago, that has made me leery to this day about accepting at face value rape claims from women who were admittedly drunk almost to the point of unconsciousness.

And now for the other rape story, this one coming from Dartmouth, an Ivy League institution that prides itself on — ahem — the quality education it gives its students.  There, a young man named Parker Gilbert was arrested and tried for rape.  He was fully acquitted because all of the available evidence indicated that both he and the young women were drunk as skunks and that the sex was consensual.  (The girl’s roommate said that the sounds of “consensual sex” were present, which makes it sound as if a Dartmouth dorm is pretty much the equivalent of a brothel, with sex taking place openly in semi-public rooms.  Everyone at college is apparently an exhibitionist or, whether unwittingly or unwillingly, a voyeur.)  I pass the narrative baton to Robert Stacy McCain:

The accuser was drunk, the accused was drunk, and the witnesses were drunk — evidently everybody on campus at Dartmouth was completely hammered that night, and the only thing anyone can remember for sure is that “vaginal penetration” occurred.

Permit me to digress: Can someone get a trial transcript and provide me with verbatim quotes of Nancy Wu’s testimony? Because I’m curious to know what she says she heard, which the newspaper euphemistically describes as “sounds consistent with consensual sex.” Was the alleged victim moaning passionately, as if in a state of orgasmic ecstasy? “Oh, Parker! You sexy beast! Do me, baby!” But I digress . . .

You can see why I was so strongly reminded of that long-ago reminiscence about crazy days in the District Court.  But here’s an add-on that would, I think, have still been unthinkable back in the halcyon days of the 1980s:  In modern-day Dartmouth, even though Gilbert was completely exonerated, Dartmouth still considered him guilty:

How did the activists at Dartmouth respond? With a lengthy statement (still labeling the accuser as a “victim”) denouncing the jury, demanding a “cultural shift” in what could be considered a crime. . . .

If Gilbert had been convicted, the message would have been a need to address “rape culture” at Dartmouth. With Gilbert acquitted, the message was a need to address “rape culture” at Dartmouth (and in New Hampshire!). Facts, it appears, don’t matter.

As McCain notes, it’s not a matter of ignoring facts, it’s a matter of not knowing facts — but in the absence of knowledge, the man is guilty.  In other words, America’s finest educational institutions have come up with a mirror image of the sharia standard:  when it comes to sex, it’s always the man’s fault.  While Islam holds that women always ask for it, meaning a man cannot be guilty of rape, America’s universities hold that men are always forcing it and must, even in the absence of knowledge or the presence of consent, be deemed guilty of rape.

Interesting doings this Monday night

Victorian posy of pansiesI’ve been somewhat housebound since my surgery.  I can still drive but I really don’t have many places to go.  I’m a complete failure when it comes to crutches, hampered by a bad shoulder, poor balance, and arthritis in the “strong” leg that is exacerbated by all the work that leg is doing.  Those failings make most destinations more effort than they’re worth.

The driving came in handy tonight, though, as I drove my son to a meeting of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) organization.  Unlike most SAR organizations, this one accepts, trains, and really uses teenagers.  For a teen who takes self-involvement and selfishness to impressive heights (in other words, a fairly typical suburban teen), it would be a great thing if he could be involved in an organization that taps into his incredible athleticism, while teaching him to be more disciplined, responsible, and outer-directive.

Since it wasn’t worth my while to drop him off drive around for 90 minutes and then return to pick him up (especially since I try to avoid too much night driving), I simply stuck around for the meeting, and was very glad I did.  In addition to reviewing that SAR operations since the last meeting, the organization had a special 40 minute presentation by a fireman who is an SAR volunteer and a recognized authority on searching for kids and women who have been snatched by predators.  (Sadly, if the kids are snatched by predators, most of the search efforts are for bodies, not for living children.)

The talk was absolutely fascinating, despite the grim subject matter.  It was also the kind of thing that makes you want to hold your children very close to you and to be thankful that they’re alive and well.

My evening’s activities, while fascinating, left little time for writing.  Nevertheless, I do have a few interesting things to pass on.

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, but it still deserves mention:  School officials in Chicago are so anti-gun that they’re now opposed to Gun-Free Zone signs showing drawings of guns.  Is there any hope for a society that’s become this stupid?

***

Speaking of stupid, when it comes to believing in astrology and being ignorant about the Earth’s rotation, Democrats win hands down.  Some are saying that this study blows to pieces the stereotype about dumb Republicans, but I wasn’t at all surprised.  Growing up in the Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s, every hippie I knew was into astrology and some form of mysticism.  Those old hippies are today’s Leftist establishment, and there’s no reason to believe that they’ve outgrown their interest in astrology.  The scientific ignorance about the Earth is just as easy to explain:  public schools.

***

I jokingly suggested that our kids, rather than looking to Ivy Leagues (which I’m loath to pay for), look to Hillsdale, a college that works hard to keep politics out of its classrooms and, instead, focuses on a classic education.  A certain person who shall not be named was horrified and went searching on the internet for information about Hillsdale.  He came back and announced that the college’s president had made racist remarks about dark-skinned people at the college.

Given that Hillsdale was one of the first colleges in America to admit blacks, that didn’t sound right to me.  To the extent Hillsdale may have a small black population, it strikes me that the issue is self-selection (there are few black conservatives, so only few black kids would apply to Hillsdale), not prejudice.

I did some of my own research and discovered that, as is always the case, context is everything.  The Hillsdale president wasn’t making racist comments about black or Hispanic students.  Instead, he was claiming that the federal government’s obsession with race is racist and divisive.  He noted that federal funds would mean that federal bureaucrats would start swarming his campus and, rather than looking at the quality of education and the availability of openings for students of all races, would simply count dark colored faces.  And voila, with an anti-racist statement that used an unfortunate phrase (“dark ones”) a slander about racism was born.

***

My friend and fellow council member Rob Miller, who blogs at JoshuaPundit, has another superb article at the Times of Israel, this one about the 150 American Jews who signed an open letter to Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to accede to John Kerry’s wishes and, essentially, to turn Israel’s security over to the Palestinians.

***

We’ve always understood that the Left would attack Christmas and Easter.  But really, who expected it to wage wholesale war on Valentine’s Day?  But wage a war it did, at least on college campuses, with the romantic holiday turned into a celebration of women’s sexual organs.  Even that seems rather innocuous now that a new movement has come along:  “1 Billion Rising,” which posits that rape victims should dance in the street on Valentine’s Day.  Huh?  Apparently I’m not the only one who finds this a quixotic response to address rape.  Of course, it may be the perfect response to the rising prevalence of “gray rape,” which occurs when a young woman regrets her drugged or drunken hook-up and blames the equally drunk or drugged man for her predicament.  I find gray rape perfectly appalling, since it reduces the seriousness of real rape by drowning the real statistics in a sea of sorry hook-ups.  According to Zombie, I’m not the only one having a problem with the whole 1 Billion Rising thing.