Mental Health Break

Nov 25 2014 @ 4:20pm

Flashes in the fire:

Iran Talks Get An Extension, Ctd

Nov 25 2014 @ 3:55pm

Aaron David Miller and Jason Brodsky are skeptical that the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, which were just extended, will ever bear fruit, given the toxic domestic politics in both Tehran and Washington. “But,” they add, “there may well be something even more fundamental at work: a strategic disconnect”:

We can’t end Iran’s nuclear capacity, so we are working to constrain it through buying time. Iran is trying to preserve as much of that capacity as possible while easing and eliminating economic pressure. And Iran is also playing with and for time. There’s really no end state, either on the nuclear issue or sanctions relief. And thus any comprehensive agreement is, by definition, interim at best. That just doesn’t add up in today’s highly charged and suspicion-laden political environment, no matter how moderate and well-intentioned the negotiators themselves may be.

The fact is that Iran knows what it wants: to preserve as much of its nuclear weapons capacity as possible and free itself from as much of the sanctions regime as it can. The mullahs see Iran’s status as a nuclear weapons state as a hedge against regime change and as consistent with its regional status as a great power. That is what it still wants. And that’s why it isn’t prepared — yet — to settle just for what it needs to do a deal. Ditto for America. And it’s hard to believe that another six months is going to somehow fix that problem.

With Republicans champing at the bit to push through more sanctions, Jeffrey Lewis figures any future talks are doomed:

Read On

What To Make Of Ferguson? Ctd

Nov 25 2014 @ 3:21pm

Many readers comment on the story of the week:

After reading some of Darren Wilson’s testimony, I couldn’t help but automatically think of two separate posts I have read on the Dish before – this one, which talks about a study that finds how whites think black people are magical/supernatural, and this one, about how whites, and especially the police, overestimate the ages of black kids. Both of these studies could have some insight into Wilson’s thinking as he unloaded his clip into an unarmed black teenager, whom he described as looking like a “demon” and able to charge through bullets.

Another continues along those lines:

The rhetoric Wilson used may or may not have been “dehumanizing”, but those were the words of a police officer who was so terrified that he didn’t employ any other means of defusing the situation other than with deadly force, and he came to that conclusion in less than 90 seconds. If Wilson truly believed Brown was a “demon”, he had no business wearing a badge or carrying a gun, just based on the complete panic conveyed in his own words. The conduct of the entire Ferguson PD this whole time was that of a police force that held the citizens of the community with deep contempt, so it’s not surprising that Wilson approached this situation immediately as a worst-case scenario. It’s not even a racial reaction in my opinion; it’s a systemic failure of community policing and police training. Given Wilson’s previous run-in with the community where he displayed neither judgement or emotional control, what happened with Brown looks inevitable in hindsight.

Another dissents:

Andrew, I’m begging you for the second time, please don’t make comments about firearms anymore. How can you say Wilson had “no need” to shoot Brown that many times? The reason law enforcement went to high-capacity handguns and dumped the six shooters is because of the ability of people to withstand multiple gunshot wounds and continue fighting (or shooting.) The catalyst for this approach was the 1986 Miami shooting in which to FBI officers were killed AFTER they had shot two bank robbers multiple times. The robbers eventually died of their wounds, but in the meantime, they kept firing and killed the agents. Officer Wilson adhered to his training: shoot until the suspect is on the ground.

Another makes the same argument and adds:

I consider myself a leftist in good standing, but frankly, Mike Brown is to the Left what Benghazi is to the Right.

Read On

The View From Your Window

Nov 25 2014 @ 3:00pm

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay-CA-11-24 am,

Alcatraz Island, California, 11.24 am

The anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions is suing Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill, claiming that their admissions policies discriminate against Asian students:

The lawsuit filed against Harvard cites an Asian-American student who was denied admission despite being valedictorian of a competitive high school, achieving a perfect ACT score and a perfect score of 800 on two of the SAT II subject exams, and participating in numerous extracurricular and volunteer activities. The applicant, the lawsuit states, was “denied the opportunity to compete for admission to Harvard on equal footing with other applicants” due to his race.

The suit cites statistical evidence to claim that Harvard holds Asian applicants to a “far higher standard than other students” and that Harvard uses “racial classifications to engage in the same brand of invidious discrimination against Asian Americans that it formerly used to limit the number of Jewish students in its student body.”

The data are unassailable:

To get into the top schools, Asians need SAT scores that are about 140 points higher than those of their white peers. In 2008, over half of all applicants to Harvard with exceptionally high SAT scores were Asian, yet they made up only 17 percent of the entering class (now 20 percent). Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in America, but their proportion of Harvard undergraduates has been flat for two decades.

The discrimination against an entire race of students is simply unmistakable. Fixing it could be accomplished not at the expense of racial diversity, but in curtailing affirmative action for athletes and legacy admissions. And there’s evidence that the discrimination is based, in part, on racist stereotypes:

A new study of over 100,000 applicants to the University of California, Los Angeles, found no significant correlation between race and extracurricular achievements. The truth is not that Asians have fewer distinguishing qualities than whites; it’s that — because of a longstanding depiction of Asians as featureless or even interchangeable — they are more likely to be perceived as lacking in individuality. (As one Harvard admissions officer noted on the file of an Asian-American applicant, “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor.”)

Why is that kind of thing not an outrage to liberals usually accustomed to seizing questions of racial discrimination with alacrity? Kaitlin Mulhere peruses what ending racial discrimination against Asians would actually lead to:

Read On

Israel demolishes Palestinian attacker's home

In response to the recent spate of “lone wolf” terror attacks in Jerusalem, Israel revived its controversial practice of demolishing the homes of the perpetrators last week:

Israel on Wednesday blew up the house of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem who rammed his car into Israeli pedestrians in October, killing 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and Karen Yemima Muscara, an Ecuadorean woman studying in the city. The Wednesday blast, which rocked the densely populated Silwan neighborhood on a steep hillside just south of Jerusalem’s Old City, marked the restart of a policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians responsible for anti-Israeli attacks. According to Danny Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer and left-wing activist who tracks developments in East Jerusalem, it was the first punitive demolition in the city since April 2009, when police razed the home of a Palestinian who went on a rampage a year earlier, killing three Israelis.

The government also issued demolition orders to the families of the attackers in last Tuesday’s synagogue massacre. Just imagine for a moment how such a policy—which, to be perfectly clear, punishes entire extended families for the crimes of individuals—would fly in any other Western country, especially if it targeted members of a particular ethnic group. The return of the demolitions speaks volumes about how Netanyahu, who vowed after Tuesday’s attack to “settle the score with every terrorist”, approaches this conflict. For him, it really is about settling scores. Will Saletan remarks on just what kind of message this policy sends to the Israeli public:

Read On

The Dish Mug Is Here! Ctd

Nov 25 2014 @ 2:02pm


A reminder from our announcement post:

This navy-colored coffee mug is very high quality, holds a generous 15oz, and, during our caffeine-addled test phase, it proved very durable. So the sturdy mug should last a long time in any Dishhead’s kitchen or office (and yes, it’s microwave and dishwasher safe – we tested that too). As a serious coffee-addict, I love it.

The Dish mug can be yours for $15 plus shipping and handling. Just click here and follow the simple prompts to order yours today. We only have a limited number of mugs for sale, so get yours before someone else does.

From a reader who snatched one up:

I’m a big Dish fan and just ordered one of the mugs. But a question: any reason why the shipping cost is so steep? It added another 2/3 of the cost to the total, which seemed pretty excessive. $26 for the mug – as great as it is – seems a bit crazy. Just typing that makes me question my order a bit.

It was a deal-breaker for another reader:

I filled out the order form and then got to the checkout phase and saw that the shipping cost is $10.53! To Vermont? Are you kidding? Fuggedaboudit. No mug for me.

photo-13We really wish we could offer lower shipping and handling costs. But the Dish isn’t Amazon or Zappos, and we aren’t selling mugs in the kind of bulk that allows for greatly reduced shipping rates. The Dish mug and packaging together weigh two pounds, so that’s a big factor. And of course all coffee mugs are fairly fragile in transit, so going with the cheapest, flimsiest packaging wasn’t an option. If you were to walk into a UPS store and try to ship these mugs the exact same way, it would actually cost more than we’re charging.

Our partners at American Solutions for Business get a discounted rate from UPS and have passed those savings along. A special shout-out to Phil Grosse for guiding us through the whole process and doing his best to get us the best deal possible. He’s a long-time Dishhead who emailed us last February when we were floating the idea of merchandise, which has been a learning experience for all of us.

We hope the mugs themselves – which really are high quality and built to last – will make them worth your hard-earned money. And don’t forget to email us a photo when it arrives; you might see it appear on the blog. Update from a reader:

I had trouble with the website, so I emailed American Solutions. Got a response almost immediately … tried again; still glitchy. So I called Phil (he sent the email with the phone number). After a wonderful conversation – he lived on my street in Redwood City back in the ’70s! – he filled out the order for me and sent me the confirmation. I’m so looking forward to my mug, and I just wanted you to know how helpful Phil was.

(Photo of the Dish mug endorsed by world-class performers Dina Martina and Janis Ian)

It’s Hard To Indict A Cop

Nov 25 2014 @ 1:37pm

Amanda Taub explains why – and advocates for making it easier:

Paul Cassell, on the other hand, defends the grand jury process and criticizes some Michael Brown supporters:

Did the grand jury get it right — that is, was there insufficient evidence to indict? A fair answer to that question can only come from reading the testimony of 60 witnesses, something that critics of the grand jury’s decision have obviously not yet bothered to do. Yesterday I wondered whether the facts before the grand jury really mattered to some of the more vocal supporters of Michael Brown. Today I think it is becoming increasing clear that they don’t. For too many people, the issue of whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson was never about the process employed or the evidence collected. But fortunately, the prosecutors and the grand jury took a different tack.

However, Noam Scheiber contends that Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s “entire presentation implicitly conceded the need for a trial”:

Read On

New polls indicate that the executive action on immigration reform Obama announced last week enjoys widespread backing from Latinos and millennials:

Almost 90% of Latino voters say they “support” or “strongly support” Obama’s executive action, according to a national poll by Latino Decisions and commissioned by two pro-immigration reform groups, and Mi Familia Vota. Nearly three-fourths (72%) of voters under the age of 35 supported the president’s action, according to a national poll by Hart Research Associates [PDF]. …

Latino support for the executive action appears to be largely bipartisan, according to Latino Decisions. While 95% of Democratic Latino voters were in favor of the executive action, 76% of Republican Latinos were as well. The issue of immigration reform remains deeply personal for many Latino voters, 64% of whom have friends, family members, coworkers, or acquaintances who are undocumented.

Another survey, however, finds that the public as a whole is evenly split:

The Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday found that 45% of voters support the President’s immigration moves, while 48% oppose them.

Read On


A reader scans the photo:

I have no idea where this week’s VFYW is taken and I am so glad I don’t live there.

Another heads down the yellow brick road:

I was lost on this one until I started watching The Wizard of Oz last night. It’s obviously “The Amethyst City” – the Emerald City’s less known, contrasting and under-appreciated rival.

Another seizes upon the right clue for the wrong city:

Sure looks like that street sign at the bottom of the picture says Grand. So I’ll say Chicago. But I realized I now need to delve deeply into the exact block of the exact street, and my OCD doesn’t work that way. So I’ll let somebody else figure that out.

Another reader flags Grant Street in Dallas. Or is it in Asia?

Millions of empty balconies … dumbfounded by searching Hong Kong high rises. Let’s go further south for better air and patio palm trees to guess … Singapore? I bet they have windows there.

Other incorrect locales with windows this week include Perth, Miami, Bangkok, New York and Panama City. But this reader wrongs his way to the right country, at least:

Toronto would be my best guess.

Our northern neighbor is right, but that’s the wrong side. Another reader just wants “a mention as an also-ran if I have the right city.” Done:

Read On