At lunch with my closest high school friend today, Larkin’s poetry came up. He’s not a chap prone to strong emotion and yet he told me the poems had such an emotional effect on him he couldn’t even drive near Chichester without welling up in tears at the very thought of “An Arundel Tomb“. His father, on the other hand, brushed Larkin off as rubbish for the longest time until the poet’s last poem was published – after a long period of silence – and he accidentally read it. It was Aubade. His father was stunned. “That’s how I feel every morning,” he said.
The most popular post of the day was about whether Millennial voters give a damn about PRISM. The second most popular was a dissection of the most horrifying piece of crap written by a politician since … well probably last week, but still. The most popular post of the last three months remains my screed against one of Peggy Noonan’s columns.
Michael O’Loughlin tours DePaul, the nation’s largest Catholic university and the first to offer a minor in gay and lesbian studies:
Part of the reason in creating the minor was to explore challenging subjects in an academic setting, explained the Rev. James Halstead, the chair of DePaul’s religious studies department. A priest for more than 36 years, Halstead said that the president’s office asked that the minor include a religious, philosophical, or ethical component.
Halstead believes that Catholic universities are precisely the places where great moral questions should be debated. “The obligation of a teacher is to maintain a classroom ethos and atmosphere in which all points of views can be respectfully heard,” he said. Students may dismiss the bishops’ teaching on homosexuality as erroneous, but his job as a professor, he said, involves offering an explanation of texts, not indoctrinating his students.
When I asked what he thought about the critics who questioned DePaul’s Catholic identity because of the minor and various LGBT student groups, Halstead lamented …. “To measure the Catholic identity of a university by asking if it has a LGBT program or not, Jesus, help us all. Do people really think that’s at the heart of Catholic Christianity? To me, it’s just not.”
Instead, he wishes that Catholic schools were judged on how well students answer the “deep questions” such as where they come from and what it means to be human, all in the search for truth. “Truth really is a process of emerging, in goodness and beauty, friendship and love,” he said. “Rational people can figure this stuff out. Reason, enriched by faith, is going to reveal truth.”
O’Loughlin also gets a great quote from another Catholic academic and priest, Paul Crowley:
What the world really needs to hear, and what we so deeply need to hear, is a message of loving mercy and inclusion, rather than judgment. The language of “objective disorder” has proved to be very problematic, to say the least. On one level, all that LGBT people in the Catholic Church are asking for is an affirmation of who they are as human beings, people whom God loves. If you say anything like this in church, people come up to you and say, ‘Thank you Father for being so courageous!’ Well, it’s not courageous, it’s just the Gospel!
I remember going to Notre Dame for the first ever talk there about homosexuality in its history.
A white lion roars in a cage at a house where more than 200 live wild animals including 14 white lions were discovered last week, on the outskirts of Bangkok on June 19, 2013. Police said the lions were believed to have been brought into the country using permits for sales to zoos, but instead offered to private buyers. Thailand has a reputation as a hub of international wildlife smuggling to feed strong demand in Asia for unusual pets and traditional medicines made from animal parts. By Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images.
Eric Morath calls attention to the first time that the medical cost index has posted a monthly decline since 1975:
The effects of the federal health care overhaul — the Affordable Care Act that passed in 2010 —and constrained government payments to doctors and hospitals seems to be trickling down to consumers, both those directly purchasing insurance plans and those buying drugs and treatments. “The slowing of healthcare inflation right now seems to be driven by onset of new policies,” said Alec Phillips, a Goldman Sachs economist who follows health care trends. “That is probably going to be a temporary factor.” In the coming year, the next phase of the health care overhaul will expand coverage and increase subsidy payments and could, in turn, push medical costs back up, Mr. Phillips said.
[M]edical inflation has been outrunning overall inflation by about 1.5 percentage points ever since the 1950s, and, roughly speaking, that’s still the case. There’s been a bit of a slowdown over the past decade, but only a bit.
Laurie McGinley examines a report that “concludes that if present trends continue Medicare savings will be $1 trillion more in the next 10 years than the savings projected by the Congressional Budget Office in May”:
The changes, Al Dobson said in an interview, are the result of marketplace pressures and the Affordable Care Act, which set new penalties for hospital readmissions, and included bundled payments and other incentives for hospitals and doctors to find ways to cut costs without hurting patients.
“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle—will you come and join the dance?
Will you, wo’n’t you, will you, wo’n’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, wo’n’t you, will you, wo’n’t you, wo’n’t you join the dance?
“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!”
But the snail replied, “Too far, too far!”, and gave a look askance—
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.
“What matters it how far we go?” his scaly friend replied.
“There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The further off from England the nearer is to France.
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
Will you, wo’n’t you, will you, wo’n’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, wo’n’t you, will you, wo’n’t you, wo’n’t you join the dance?”
Richard Restak describes how the brain processes jokes:
All humor involves playing with what linguists call scripts (also referred to as frames). Basically, scripts are hypotheses about the world and how it works based on our previous life experiences. Consider what happens when a friend suggests meeting at a restaurant. Instantaneously our brains configure a scenario involving waiters or waitresses, menus, a sequence of eatables set out in order from appetizer to dessert, followed by a bill and the computation of a tip. This process, highly compressed and applicable to almost any kind of restaurant, works largely outside conscious awareness. And because our scripts are so generalized and compressed, we tend to make unwarranted assumptions based on them. Humor takes advantage of this tendency.
Consider, for example, almost any joke from stand-up comedian Steven Wright, known for his ironic, deadpan delivery:
Lex Berko explains the dangers of trying too hard to preserve a loved one’s body:
Exploding casket syndrome, as it is known in the death industry, occurs when these decomposition processes are not given adequate space to perform. In her awesome “Ask a Mortician” series, mortician Caitlin Doughty says, “You really want a decomposing body to have access to some sort of air so it can then dehydrate. But if it’s one of those super sealed protective caskets, there’s really no place for all of that gas and fluid to go and so the body can kind of turn into sort of a bog.” Eventually, when the pressure builds high enough in that boggy tank of a casket, pop!
If Russia cautions against arming rebels that are increasingly dominated by extremists, there’s a sort of knee-jerk reaction in certain quarters of Washington: those fucking Russians. And, yes, that’s fair. Those fucking Russians are part of the reason the conflict has gotten so bad to begin with, and why the forces fighting Assad have become increasingly radicalized: Had the Russians not defended Assad so staunchly back when it was just peaceful protests in Damascus, maybe Syria would have 93,000 more people walking undemolished streets today.
But by dismissing Russian concerns out of hand, we risk doing what the Russians do—if the Americans are for it, we must be against it—and turning the whole thing into a kind of Cold War mobius strip. … We also risk overlooking the merits of their arguments, however much they’re buried in their own Cold War shadowboxing mumbo jumbo. They have been right before, you know. Like, on Iraq.
If you want to know why Rubio hasn’t walked away from the Gang of Eight bill yet, that’s why. He has no political incentive to do so. If he hangs in there and the bill passes, he’ll get all sorts of media love as the “new leader of the GOP,” a man who “makes things happen in Washington,” blah blah. You and I will pound the table and swear that we’ll never, ever vote for him in 2016, and that might be true— for awhile. But strange things happen.
Harry Enten believes that appearing moderate and cozying up to GOP elites will improve Rubio’s chances in 2016. Why he needs some moderate cred:
Rubio’s Senate record paints him as one of the most conservative senators. He was the seventh most conservative senator in the 112th Congress, sandwiched between Jim Inhofe and Ron Johnson. As I wrote before, it’s unlikely the Republican party will nominate a very conservative candidate in 2016. When it liked Barry Goldwater in 1964, and Ronald Reagan in 1980, the party had recently controlled the presidency. But when the party hasn’t been in the White House for eight years or more, it goes for a more centrist pick in order to win.
Meanwhile, Noah Rothman focuses on the “inevitability” of Chris Christie:
[He] is America’s favorite Republican. Unfortunately for Christie, he is also Republicans least favorite Republican.
Jacob Beck, who dismisses most of the arguments against legalized performance enhancers in sports, fears that ending the ban would “generate a vicious arms race”:
Even players who wanted to compete drug free would be coerced into taking [performance‐enhancing drugs (PEDs)] to keep up with their peers. And there is no stable stopping point. If two players are competing for a starting spot on the Yankees, neither player can rest content with yesterday’s pharmaceutical technology. Each one needs to get the latest and greatest PEDs or risk losing his job to the other. And so they’re off to the races, with the finish line set only by the ingenuity of bioengineers.
Increasing the number of home runs is not in itself a good thing. If it were, Bud Selig would order the outfield walls moved in. Moreover, PEDs carry health risks, particularly when there is pressure to adopt the newest and strongest drugs even before they have been properly tested. As I wrote above, a concern about safety is ordinarily not a sufficient reason to ban something from a sport. But in the context of an arms race–in which the only benefit the “arms” provide is relative to one’s competitors–it is.
Obama spelled it out in his interview with Charlie Rose:
Michael Crowley thinks the administration has finally found its voice on the surveillance leaks:
Speaking with Charlie Rose, Obama portrayed himself–as he did in his recent address on his drone and detention policies–as copiously working to strike a balance. “[W]e don’t have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security. That’s a false choice,” Obama told Rose. “And so every program that we engage in, what I’ve said is, ‘Let’s examine and make sure that we’re making the right tradeoffs.’” Obama also clarified key points that may be lost on people who only follow the surveillance debate casually–namely that “if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails,” as he put it. A longtime critic of fear-mongering about terrorism, Obama was tonally measured about the threat.
Michael Tomasky found the interview “fascinating” but argues that Obama was too equivocating in his defense of NSA surveillance:
He supports these programs, and he ordered them, and he ought to just come out with a guns-blazing, f–k you ACLU, smackdown defense of the whole thing. Maybe an interview isn’t the place for that, and a speech or address is. He owns the program, so he might as well really own it.
Matt Zoller Seitz picks up on the “striking and curious” absence of fleshed-out female characters in the new movie:
Lois is an important character, but only for how she furthers Clark/Superman’s attempts to understand himself and claim his destiny; she’s ultimately much less of a fully-realized, freestanding human being than the kooky, narcissistic Lois Lane played by Margot Kidder in the Reeve films, or even Kate Bosworth’s Lois in “Superman Returns,” a melancholy figure defined by her capacity to move on after the hero’s abrupt departure from Earth. Adams’ Lois is tough and smart but has no personality, only drive, and she’s not as integral to the action as she seems to be on first glance … females exist, for the most part, to be saved, or to have things explained to them.
Alyssa confesses she’s had enough of the standard superhero romance:
A good question, hence the, well, watch for yourself:
Relatedly, John Kerry writes today that he is committed to keeping climate change in the foreground “because it’s critical to the survival of our civilization, and that means it’s a critical mission for [him] as our country’s top diplomat”:
By keeping the pressure on each other to take ambitious action and replicating this effort around the world, [China and America] will create a virtuous cycle to address the climate challenge the right way: together. In a more collaborative environment, I am absolutely confident we will find the solutions and push the curve of discovery. We can do it without jeopardizing our economies — in fact, we will grow them. And the United States will be working not just with China, but around the globe. Next I will be traveling to India, where once again climate change and energy will be vital to the conversation.
Josh Barro is currently the Politics Editor at Business Insider. He has previously written for Bloomberg View, and before that was a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Previous Dish on Chait’s recent profile of Barro here and here. Watch Josh’s previous answers here. Our full Ask Anything archive is here.
I find the whole controversy about mascots and team names to be a little ridiculous. While I can understand the hurt feelings, as a white guy, I am probably the last person who should tell other people how to feel. But what gives power to these issues are Native Americans reaction to them. An intramural team in Northern Colorado picked an intentionally insulting name to prove a point (the Fighting Whites) and it backfired. I personally thought it was hilarious, and was going to order one of the shirts, but they were sold out! I never did follow up, but apparently they are still for sale. The best thing they could do is probably ignore the whole issue.
Another has a very different perspective:
Thank you for bringing attention to the mascot issue – it’s wonderful to hear opinions aired on both sides that are measured and reasonable, as opposed to the comments one encounters in the various articles in the Washington Post and other places that have covered this controversy.
First, a bit of a reveal. I’m actually one of the plaintiffs in the Blackhorse v. Pro Football Inc. case that was recently heard in the from the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board, so I’ve staked out my position on this issue. I wanted to touch on an aspect of the debate that hasn’t quite been aired out yet, and that’s more of a personal reflection. I spent much of my childhood growing up on an Indian reservation and am a member of a federally recognized tribe and have family in two other tribes through my father.
I want to give more money to the Dish, but I can’t. I e-mailed a few months back that I want to give more money on a bi-monthly basis or so, but your current configuration won’t let me since I’m already a subscriber. You have been on fire today (as you are most days, but today is especially good), so I was ready to slap down another $150 [the minimum price is $19.99], but I can’t. Can you help, if you’re even reading this, which I suspect you aren’t since I suspect you’ve all blackballed me since I was a tad rough on your lit editor a short while back and that you all just discard my e-mails immediately without reading. But still, CAN YOU HELP ME GIVE YOU MORE MONEY?
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I am a subscriber, and have enjoyed your blog for years. My main disagreement with you was your support of President Bush’s mobilization to a war that helped break our national economy and brought us to today. Your recent mea culpa in regards to beating the drums of war back in ’02 and ’03 seems quite sincere. I want to let you know that in the most agreeable way: by donating/increasing my subscription cost for this year. However, much to my surprise, I can find no button to push that would allow such a payment or donation. Would it not be logical, much like a tip jar at a cash register, to have a way for happy readers to reward the work you do with a quick tip?
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As I looked at your conversion rates and projected revenue for the year, it occurred to me that the enthusiastic early subscribers (like me!) would be very likely to add to their subscription fees if provided a clear message about what would be gained by the Dish. I can imagine an update note being sent to subscribers at the half-way point to their subscription anniversary, a sort of soft-sell pitch for an additional contribution to afford XYZ for the site. I am planning to add another $20 to my subscription at the six-month point. I’ll bet other early subscribers would as well.
I am actually planning to start a fortnightly newsletter this summer in the near future – one that will feature a series of conversational podcasts between me and some fascinating people (well-known and not), and a few original, commissioned long-form pieces. We’re going to call this section “Deep Dish”. We hope it’s a way of thanking our subscribers and giving them something more on top of full access to the Dish itself. If you still haven’t subscribed yourself, click here. And drop us an email after doing so; we are always happy to hear from new subscribers.
“First, this is a personal liberty issue and has to do with the most important personal decision that any human makes. I believe that, as Americans, our freedoms come from God and not government, and include the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What could be more important to the pursuit of happiness than the right to choose your spouse without asking a Washington politician for permission? If there is one belief that unifies most Alaskans – our true north – it is less government and more freedom. We don’t want the government in our pockets or our bedrooms; we certainly don’t need it in our families.
Secondly, civil marriage also touches the foundation of our national culture: safe, healthy families and robust community life. In so many ways, sound families are the foundation of our society. Any efforts or opportunity to expand the civil bonds and rights to anyone that wants to build a stable, happy household should be promoted,” - Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), making the conservative case for marriage equality.
“(What I haven’t ever encountered was a guy claiming to be bi, but apparently exclusively interested in men.)” Actually, ”bi” was often shorthand for something else in the old “men seeking men” section of the Village Voice personals. Guys used “bi” and/or “masc” to differentiate from “fem” men (which had its own large following). “Bi” implied they pass for straight and/or were turned off by femininity in other men and themselves. It was a physical description that didn’t pertain to sexual practices because this personals section was exclusively about dude-on-dude action.
Personally, I liked the idea of dating bi men even if he really wasn’t, and I liked dating married men even if they were a little fem. They just had to be a bear.
Another has a long and dramatic story:
One of your readers in response to the original letter wrote that he has never met a bisexual man who only plays around with men. I am as close to that as I think anybody is going to find. Growing up, my animal attraction was definitely more directed at other males, but I developed deep crushes on girls and women as well. At 17, I had my first girlfriend and we were together until I was 21. Our sex life was satisfying (to me anyway, she had problems achieving orgasm from intercourse out of fear of pregnancy). However, I also had many male obsessions, any one of which I would have acted on if the situation arose – or more accurately, if the other guy had been extremely aggressive.
To that point, my only sexual encounter had been as a 16-year old at a choral convention of which my high school was one of only two invited. The rest of the groups were from colleges across the country. I relentlessly stared at this guy, not because I thought he was so attractive (there were others way more attractive) but because he was obviously gay. We eventually struck up a conversation and he asked me if I wanted to go to his room “to talk.” When there, he made a big move, which surprisingly, shocked me. But we messed around and then I went out to dinner and a show with my class, embarrassed and humiliated.
I continued dating women but developed a crush on a co-worker who prided himself on being the “first” for a lot of straight guys. I still identified as straight and aside from saying things like “I wouldn’t push Sting out of bed”, I never let on. We wound up in an extremely unhealthy relationship that lasted for two years on and off.
After it was over and I had recovered my sanity and self-esteem, I embarked on a period of dating women and sleeping around with men.