Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Post-war European prosperity was built under the US security umbrella."

H/t to The Corner for this article on some harsh reality for Europe: 
Notice something else. Barack Obama was Europe’s candidate in the 2008 election. His victory delighted every liberal I know. I am not mocking them. I would have voted for Obama if I had been an American. But I do not suffer from the illusion that his record on supporting liberation movements from Burma to Iran has been anything other than appalling – one has to go back to Richard Nixon to find an American president so indifferent to the victims of dictatorship. He persists in saying that Ameirca and Nato will intervene in Libyan affairs, but not intervene strongly enough to overthrow the regime. Washington officials give the strong impression that they are only deploying forces in Libya to help the Europeans, who do indeed have the most to fear from waves of refugees arriving in the continent and building support for far-right parties.
We may soon see the shattering of a third and final illusion. Post-war European prosperity was built under the US security umbrella. We complained, often with justice, about American policies but we did not have to pay for our own defence or fight our own wars. If ever there was trouble with the Soviet Union or Milosevic in the Balkans, we could rely on the Yanks. Now America is preparing to bring her legions home. One of the four US brigades in Europe is leaving, and although the Pentagon protests that its commitment to Europe remains strong, the direction the US is heading in remains clear. She cannot afford to maintain vast forces in Europe given her budget deficit, and in any case cannot see why she should given that Asia is now at the centre of American interests and Europe is a rich region that can afford to pay for its own armies.
One day Europe will have to fight her own wars and defend her own borders. Although the liberal spokesmen and women in the Oslo and London TV have scoffed at the cowboy Yanks and neo-con aggressors for years, they may miss them when they are gone.

The Hats and Fascinators at the Royal Wedding

Here is The Telegraph's round up of the hats, bottom right where Miriam Gonzalez is pictured in her red and black Cruella number.  (Sorry, Foxy, I'm with your husband and Pip Owens.  That outfit screams Cruella DeVil.)  For my American friends, fascinators are basically huge hair jewelry.  Hats are common here, but non-hats, large feathery, beaded, and/or netted headbands or combs, have been popular as an alternative.  Those are fascinators.  There are shops and whole sections of department stores for women's headgear.  We are going to Ascot with M&M and LeBon.  I think I need to buy one of these.  Virginia is coming to London for a wedding a few weeks before, so we two Americans are going to brave some hat shopping.  I am nervous, very nervous.

While we are talking about weddings and marriage...

...a few notes on marriage from a happily married woman.  


The unmarried often tell me they want my marriage, or comment that my husband is one of the good ones.  Mothers have asked me about marriage and sex after children so often I wrote a post on it.  Prior to William and Kate's wedding, it was one of my most popular posts.  Yasha and I just seem to put off this happily married aura.  It isn't a false aura.  We are happily married and I am more than willing to discuss the things that make marriage work--I want others to be happy too.  

Porn in Public Libraries

I have one more post on the wedding in the works, maybe two if Lucy Locket's husband is allowed to tell about his day, but otherwise back to normal around here.


What about porn in public libraries?  The New York Public Library, to be precise:

I’m hardly an anti-porn crusader, but the list of reasons why libraries didn’t — and shouldn’t — carry porn is vast. The two most obvious and mutually reinforcing reasons are moralistic and budgetary: (a) “It’s wrong,” and (b) “We have very limited resources and we must choose what we think is worthwhile and what has no redeeming value.”
The problem is that the legs have been knocked out from under both answers. Of course, the moralistic — or “judgmental” — bias against porn has been eroding for generations. How bad or good a development that is depends on your point of view.
But until the Internet, it didn’t matter. Sure, Playboy might make it through, “for the articles.” But not even the most radical or deranged librarian could ever justify subscribing to Juggs over National Geographic, because in a world of limited resources, prudential editing is not merely valuable, it’s unavoidable.

The Internet changed all that. The marginal cost of obtaining pornographic materials in libraries, once prohibitively high, is now nearly nonexistent. In fact, it’s actually cheaper just to let it all flood in. Who wants to deal with the filters, blockers, and monitors? Just proclaim that the First Amendment requires unfettered access to porn. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Kate is not Princess Katherine and William did not watch her walk down the aisle

We are back from M&M's street party in the garden and the children are in bed, hopefully for the night.  From discussions with M&M, Foxy, and Lily, a Danish friend (Danes have an old monarchy), I gather that Kate did not get the title Princess Katherine because she was a commoner.  If she had been noble, or if Prince William was heir to the throne--he's second in line, but his father is the heir--she would have been called Princess Katherine.  Also, William faced the altar as Kate walked down the aisle because he is royal.   I don't quite get this one, but it would have been inappropriate for William to face the aisle.  He faces the altar and waits for her to join him, then once she arrives and they exchange vows, she joins him as a royal.  I guess it is kinda like not keeping the Queen waiting.  Events start when she arrives.

UPDATE: Yasha is having an "actually" moment on the titles, below.  He explains it better than I could.  I suspect that my friend Lily meant that she did not hold the title Princess in her own right, and therefore can't be Princess Katherine.  I vaguely recall that Diana was HRH Diana, Princess of Wales.  Prince Philip was a prince before he married Princess Elizabeth, hence he can be Prince Philip.

Since she is not a princess in her own right, Kate can be known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge or HRH Princess William of Wales. 

UPDATE: Oh boy, titles are ever so much more complicated than I want to know.  Prince William wants her to be Princess Katherine, but Camilla might have gotten her nose out of whack about it... The Queen did not give her the title of Princess because then she would have outranked the Prince of Wales's wife, Camilla, who is only a Duchess. Rumor has it, but William did not want to have separate titles from his wife, hence they became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, unlike Prince Charles, for example, who is the Prince of Wales, but married to the Duchess of Cornwall.
UPDATE II: I called Kate "Princess Kate" until Yasha explained what William had done by changing his title to conform with his wife's, that William took a lesser title to show solidarity with his wife. I like him even more.

Note that nowhere in her official titles is her Christian name.  I gather that it isn't because she is a woman but because she has no title of her own.  Since she is a woman though, it might grate a bit more in the modern day when women often don't even take their husband's surname.  Add on the discussion about if their first child is a girl and a subsequent child a boy.  From Rachel Ward (yes, the actress) Why haven't ladies challenged male primogeniture:
I am the firstborn of the younger brother of an earl. There are no hereditary titles and my father’s estate was not inherited or entailed to him. I have a younger sister and three younger brothers. Nonetheless, at the reading of the will after my father’s recent death, I was firmly reminded of my place by certain clauses bestowing his ‘residuary estate’ ‘upon trust for my first son A during his life and subject thereto’, followed by ‘A’s first son’, then ‘his son B and his son’, then ‘his son C and his son, provided always that A’s male heir shall mean son or grandson ascertained in following order of priority’. Blah, blah, blah.

Then, what did William say to Kate at the altar?

The other bit I wondered about were the two asides of William to Kate and her father, and then to Kate.  A commenter below: "Lip readers reckon that Will says "We were only supposed to have a small, family affair" to Kate and her father."  That got a laugh out of the two.  
I wonder what William said to Kate next.  It looked like something appropriate about his beautiful bride, but I haven't watched again.  Lip readers have that?


UPDATE: The Mirror is on the case.  But somebody at NBC hired a forensic lip reader.  

What did Harry say to William?

Judging from my stats, I'd guess that we aren't the only ones who wondered what Harry said to make William laugh.  Any ideas?

Yasha suspects it was some tension breaker about how hot Pippa looked.  I'm with my British ladies. She looked stunning.  In the comments the thought is a dress quip.

I can also tell from my stats which topic will get casual surfers off of the royal wedding: 'Han shot first'  kind of stuff.  I'm way over my normal hit rate for today and its all royal wedding and my Geek Things stuff.  UPDATE: That was back when I was still in triple digit hits for the day and most had found this page through my FB circle, not Google.  Welcome visitors.

Oh, I've looked on YouTube for any clips of the bonkers American in the pink Chanel suit, the one with the unfortunately placed buttons, that M&M snapped photos of yesterday.  (See pre-game pics)  M&M said she had many cameras on her and that she was very entertaining.  If anyone sees a clip of her interviews, pass it on.  Thanks.

UPDATE: The Mirror is on the case. Somebody at NBC hired a forensic lip reader. Oh, and I pulled up the picture with the unfortunately placed buttons.

Kisses and Flybys

Apparently the lockout still holds.  They will email me their posts and I'll get them up sometime today.

I have one comment.  Royals are very proper, not even a kiss at the altar, though they might on the balcony in a few minutes.  They did, twice!, and note it was the 30 year old royal male who blushed.

Anyway, everyone is looking for some betrayal of real emotion.  I noticed as they went in one of the tunnels, when they had no cameras overhead and might not have known that someone was shooting at an angle into them, William had his hand over Kate's, stroking it reassuringly with his thumb.  Very sweet.

Speaking of sweet, we were on the flyby route!  The planes went right over the flat.  Christopher Robin and the Little Dane were very excited about that.  Spitfires!  Christopher Robin loves Spitfires.  We were out on our balcony cheering.

God Save the Queen

Yasha wanted to know if the Queen sings God Save the Queen.  Nope.  She does not.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eighteen Minutes on April 21st

I have been so busy posting on the Royal Wedding, and switching out summer and winter clothes in our closets, that I almost forgot it was April 21st. (What kind of Texan am I?!) If you have every wondered about The Yellow Rose of Texas, according to legend, the battle only lasted 18 minutes because General Santa Anna was...preoccupied with a certain Emily West and had not set up proper scouts.

Royal Wedding Stuff to Buy

My mom is in town. Some of her friends from home have asked her to bring back something commemorating the wedding of William and Kate. Though Americans are in some ways more excited than the British about the upcoming pomp and circumstance, though the Brits are certainly having an attack of patriotism I've not even seen in two World Cup tournaments, I gather that US shelves aren't lined with Royal Wedding stuff. I have assured my mother that all she need do is walk over to Peter Jones, a department store, or Duke of York Square, a shopping area, for a host of options.

A few links for those not over here. You can get coffee cups and plates, most British houseware shops have custom designs for the occasion. See Cath Kidson and Emma Bridgewater, for example. Tea towels are the traditional memento, though they almost didn't do them. Key rings, cards, throw pillows (Brits like "cushions") all the typical souvenirs are on offer. My favorites though are the funny ones. (All pictures from the Peter Jones website, www.johnlewis.com. Yes, it is Peter Jones but the parent company is John Lewis--confusing, but the way it is.)

Americans might not also know, that Royal brides have registries. Diana had one at the GTC, General Trading Company. Kate and William have chosen to register for charities.

Last year, when Chelsea Clinton got married, I had a short discussion around here about the "American Royal Wedding". I said that while Chelsea's wedding was certainly society news for a few days, it was nothing to the cultural event that would happen when William married Kate. This is what I meant. It is even an extra bank holiday.

Finally, I assume that everyone has seen that T-Mobile add? Just in case, since it came out during the school holiday when not everyone is paying attention to their computers:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Red, White, and Blue

You know how on the Fourth of July Americans are likely to deck the house out in red, white, and blue? Bunting, flags, assorted desserts involving
strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. We have block parties, clubhouse events, bike parades, backyard BBQs, all trimmed out in red, white, and blue and finished off with sparklers and fireworks. (Pictures from Foodnetwork.com)





Now imagine that the Fourth of July never happened, but we colonists still decorated for Armistice Day, say. Houses and streets would still be decked out, just with Union
Jacks. That is what London is starting to look like a little more than a week out from the wedding of Kate and William. For locals, have you seen the windows at Peter Jones? They have actually set up red, white, and blue place settings--with stars. I've gotten used to the Union Jack throw pillows, but I've never seen the likes of this in Britain. (Image from the Daily Mail)

M&M was going to do a street party after the wedding, but she's switched to a garden party because of the hassle. Brits don't do street parties often. (Here is M&M last year on memories of 1977 and Emma Bridgewater's site on how to throw a street party. Coming from a land with National Night Out, I have to giggle.) Expecting street parties for the event, however, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea requires a permit. (Even though there are many places in London with wide sidewalks and/or small front yards, just hanging out in the front of your house isn't done, unless you are just watering your plants. It's just not British.) Among other things, the host must inform everyone else on the street and get consent for the party from everyone else on the street. If not, then the host is liable for anything that might happen during the party. If a car gets dinged by someone not associated with the party, the host is still on the hook. That's just more hassle than it is worth. Plus M&M and LeBon have a lovely London garden. In my manor grounds post the other day, when I mentioned how Brits pull off the storybook effect in small gardens too--I had M&M's backyard in mind. Anyway, here's the opening to her invitation:
After recollecting memories of parties we attended as young children for the Silver Jubilee, your positive response to my suggestion of a similar party to mark this Royal Wedding, then much consideration about our street's suitability, absent neighbours and hence unavoidable red-tape nightmares..........

[M&M and LeBon] now formally invite you to come and join their Royal Wedding Garden Party!

PSA: How to Talk to Your Kids About Star Wars

It is a PSA kind of day. First a 'vampires need the dentist too' real PSA, now comes a Talk to Your Kids Star Wars spoof.

NHS PSA Even Sexy Vamps Need a Dentist

Oh my goodness. This is a PSA, always over the top in Britain. This one should go viral.

Ra, Ra, Rasputin, Russia's Greatest Love Machine

A few weeks ago, when the weather still was nasty, M&M recommended Wii Dance. It is a Wii game with simple dance choreography to popular dance songs around the world. It has Viva Las Vegas, Shake Senora, Crisscross, etc. I highly recommend it and will make sure some of my girlfriends have this because they would love it.

Christopher Robin and Cupcake have discovered a song I had never heard of. Yasha had, but his years in Moscow were before we met. When I told him about the song, he was prepared, because Russia is the place where pop culture things go for extra cheezy goodness. I was not prepared. I almost ran out of air when we got to the 'wunderbar' line. Christopher Robin wants me to download this onto his iPod. I just don't want to. Already from the Wii the song is on replay in my head. Thankfully he is on and Elvis kick (bless you Kinsey and Diva) and I have appeased him with Elvis's 30 #1 hits. I can handle Burning Love on repeat in my head.

Without further ado, I give you Ra, Ra, Rasputin, Lover of the Russian Queen, lyrics below the video.

There lived a certain man in Russia long ago
He was big and strong, in his eyes a flaming glow
Most people looked at him with terror and with fear
But to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear
He could preach the bible like a preacher
Full of ecstasy and fire
But he also was the kind of teacher
Women would desire

RA RA RASPUTIN
Lover of the Russian queen
There was a cat that really was gone
RA RA RASPUTIN
Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on

He ruled the Russian land and never mind the czar
But the kasachok he danced really wunderbar
In all affairs of state he was the man to please
But he was real great when he had a girl to squeeze
For the queen he was no wheeler dealer
Though she'd heard the things he'd done
She believed he was a holy healer
Who would heal her son

(Spoken:)
But when his drinking and lusting and his hunger
for power became known to more and more people,
the demands to do something about this outrageous
man became louder and louder.

"This man's just got to go!" declared his enemies
But the ladies begged "Don't you try to do it, please"
No doubt this Rasputin had lots of hidden charms
Though he was a brute they just fell into his arms
Then one night some men of higher standing
Set a trap, they're not to blame
"Come to visit us" they kept demanding
And he really came

RA RA RASPUTIN
Lover of the Russian queen
They put some poison into his wine
RA RA RASPUTIN
Russia's greatest love machine
He drank it all and he said "I feel fine"

RA RA RASPUTIN
Lover of the Russian queen
They didn't quit, they wanted his head
RA RA RASPUTIN
Russia's greatest love machine
And so they shot him till he was dead

(Spoken:) Oh, those Russians...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Bloggers write out of a suicidal missionary zeal"



When Yasha left for work this morning, he left the latest Spectator on the kitchen table open to the following:
Blogging's not a job--it's an expensive addiction. I wonder if he was hinting at anything?

I am sad to hear that James Delingpole is quitting blogging cold turkey, but I understand. I've given myself until 11 this morning, and then I am going outside with my mom (she arrived safely) and the kids. 


Save the high tea with friends on Friday, Palm Sunday, and lunch with the girls this weekend, I've not been out of the flat since our return to Devon--though I have written a post on the high tea. Granted, I was out with conservative women so the conversation ranged from pop culture to higher education to US foreign policy, and the whole thing reminded me I hadn't posted on that 'my best friend is Republican' article.  Still, I might want to take heed from James:

When I looked back at the last 18 months and wondered why I’d got so ill, the answer became pretty self-evident: it’s because every spare scrap of time that had hitherto gone on stuff like pottering in the garden, having the odd game of tennis, taking the kids to school, listening to music, reading, walking and relaxing, had been almost entirely swallowed up by blogging.
And I can’t pretend I didn’t enjoy doing it: that’s the problem — it’s an addiction. As a blogger you can’t read a news story without wanting to comment on it. You’re constantly trawling your other favourite blogs to see whose story is worth following up.

UPDATE: I just linked to a this post in a post about blogging fatigue over at NeoNeocon's place, and re-reading mine, I realize that I've never posted my best friend is Republican post.  I've got it drafted, but it isn't quite right yet.  Delingpole always reminds me to go outside and play, though.  I'll get to it later.  



Saturday, April 16, 2011

On Early Puberty

You might have heard that girls are reaching puberty much earlier than in previous eras. They are starting periods a little earlier than in the past: "For white girls in the US, the age of first menstruation has remained stable over the past 45 years. In African-American girls, age at menarche has declined by about 6 months in the past 20 to 30 years." Yet, of late mothers are worrying about early puberty. If you follow girls health issues, you've probably read something about early puberty in girls. So what is the story?

I posted on a NYT article last year and noted the tricky use of breast development rather than menstruation that made puberty statistics seem alarming. (Muddying up statistics is a media pastime.) Basically there are stages of puberty, called Tanner stages. Breast development is part of Tanner 2 for girls and typically happens about 2 years before menstruation. Menstruation is usually used as the marker for puberty in scientific studies because it is easy to define. Things like breast development are more subjective. Well nourished girls might be chubby making breast development difficult to judge.

As the report linked above shows, onset of menses hasn't changed dramatically, and to the extent it has can be attributed to health and nutrition. Studies show first breast development has moved forward...when compared to the late 19th century. In the scary articles on early puberty, note that most, if not all, are comparing breast development to the 1900's or earlier. With the strides in health and nutrition in the past 100 years, it is neither shocking nor concerning that modern 7 year old girls might have the appearance of breasts more than their pre-automobile great-great-grandmothers. Junkfoodscience has more details on the issue. Also, I found a paper overview that can give laymen a small peek at how much more complicated and detailed early puberty problems are.

That said, such shoddy medical reporting doesn't simply leave mothers with the impression that early puberty is a problem in need of solution. See this article about what to do about early puberty. Even though it states many of the theories for the problem, discussed below, the article concludes by adding a bunch of the stuff that everyone merely assumes is to blame: [emphasis mine]

Be sure to eat fewer meat and high-fat dairy products, which “are more likely than other foods to harbor chemicals that interfere with hormones,” Janssen says. Additionally, don’t use pesticides, since they can interfere with hormones, says Julia Brody, a scientist with Silent Spring Institute. In other words, eat a diet of mostly fresh, organic vegetables and you’ll be fine. That being said, since most of America eats nothing but pre-prepared foods from plastic containers and cans alongside meat and high-fat dairy products, I think the early puberty epidemic should really have explained itself.
Go organic veg and you'll be fine?!  First off, one might want to weigh the consequences, brain and bone wise, of turning under 10's veg against a hoped for two year delay in breast development, especially since the 'more meat, earlier breasts' studies do not account for the effect of meat on nutrition. That is, the correlation might just be because the girl is well fed. Next, going veg will do nothing for those other correlations often seen, specifically, prematurity, absent father, childhood stress, international adoption, and wealth. Yes, wealth. Apparently there is a correlation for early puberty among wealthy girls with absent biological fathers.

In the many articles I have seen on this subject, however, no one calls for tending to a marriage to keep the biological father around. Few talk of allowing kids more freedom outdoors to burn off calories. Commenters don't talk about having children earlier thereby avoiding IVF and its increased incidence of multiples and prematurity. The only nod to prematurity is "don't smoke.' As for international adoptions, just like weighing the negative consequences of going veg against early breasts, no one could reasonably argue that it would be better for the child to have remained in an orphanage or foster care in the country of origin to avoid early puberty from being well fed.

Rather than look at such hard issues, the media leads, and the mothers follow, to pesticides and hormones. Compared to the above controlling pesticide and hormones is easy, something mothers fancy that they can control. (Tiger mothers and helicopter moms have different methods, but they both seek control.) Just feed them good organic veggies and your a Supermom! In the church of Green, organic veggies seems to be the blood and bread of communion.

As for Silent Spring Institute (last link) chick's nasty little swipe about Americans eating nothing but processed plastic and canned food, well she can take her hyperbole and stick it somewhere dark. Americans eat more processed food, Americans eat too much processed food--those formulations I'd simply disagree with. Americans eat nothing but--that is condescending, insulting, smug... It just gets old. Also, I'm surprised that there is an entity still using "Silent Spring" for a name, since it turned out that the book was wrong and subsequently responsible for the ban of DDT which condemned millions in the Third World to malaria.

UPDATE: More here.

The UN and The Stamp Lady

As I was saying, UN resolutions are useless, irrelevant, and handicapping. Susan Rice, however, has attempted a whitewash.
Ultimately, according to Rice, “the United Nations is so important to our national security . . . [that] when we meet our financial obligations to the U.N., we make Americans safer,” and “the U.N. promotes universal values Americans hold dear.” Both of these assertions are demonstrably false.
From Yasha's years at the UN, he always wanted a chance to tell Jessie Helms that things there were ever so much worse than even Helms said. Some problems were big, some little. A short story: When Yasha left the UN, he had to do many administrative things, get his light blue passport punched, turn in keys and cards, etc. At the end, he had one stamp to get for the some document department, to certify that he had turned in all the materials. He had never used the document room in question, didn't even know it existed. Still, he needed the clearance stamp, so he headed off to the assigned room. The room was a small broom closet down in the bowels of the building. There was an oldish woman sitting in a chair, watching TV. Without looking at his papers or any ID, she picked up a stamp and stamped his form. He asked her how she knew that he didn't have any outstanding materials. She told him that she knew he had no materials checked out because the document room had been closed many years before. Confused, my husband asked, "So why are you still here?" She answered, "I provide the stamp."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Puzzle of The Times, Muslim Feminism, and Copyright

We are back from Devon.  We had a lovely time, and I will have stories soon.  My blog inbox, however, brought me a surprise today, a possible copyright violation.

A few weeks ago I posted about Shaista Gohir, a woman who Stefanie Marsh called "the most feminist Muslim in Britain" in an article for The Times.  I've also posted on Veena Malik, Shaharzad AkbarSheryl WuDunn, violence against Christiansexporting feminism, and have linked to posts about the Taseer and Bhatti assassinations.   Recently, I learned that I had been banned in Turkey, I believe due to posts such as these.

The Shaista Gohir post contained an extensive excerpt of Stefanie Marsh's article.  At the time I thought to give my American readers, who rarely have a Times subscription, a decent taste of Gohir without reposting the entire article.  So I excerpted and linked. Women like her are too valuable to remain unheralded.  Instead the post seems to have bounced around Turkey, hopefully reaching women for whom Shaista Gohir represents hope.

This morning I received a notice that my post had been pulled down by Blogger for alleged copyright violation.  After a little investigation, I suspect that it was not The Times or Stefanie Marsh who made the request.  It would be simple, but illegal, for anyone to pose as Ms. Marsh or a Times rep on the Google request form.  Furthermore, as I have received no other notices even though I have multiple Times excerpts posted on this blog, I suspect that someone other than The Times is behind the notices and attempting to use copyright as a weapon of censorship.  I also cannot find my notice archived on chillingeffects database though Google says that they report all notices to chillingeffects and other April 11 notices are already available.  Puzzling.

That said, I have not confirmed my suspicions with The Times.  Therefore, I am pulling down my Times excerpts until I discuss with them how they would prefer bloggers excerpt their content.  More on this later, I am sure.

UPDATE: The author, Marsh, didn't file the complaint against this blog.  She's checking at The Times.