May 24th, 2017

Michelle Obama in Italy: fashion for ex-First Ladies

Quite a few people have mentioned the stories fawning over Michelle Obama’s one shoulder blouse in Italy.

Here’s the blouse, in case you somehow missed this item of great and burning import:

That wasn’t all. There was also this, in the same vein:

First, let me re-establish my position on Michelle Obama and fashion, a topic I’ve written about before. Yes, much of the praise of Michelle is over-the-top, but so is much of the criticism. I’ve always found her to be an attractive woman with a good if imperfect figure, who’s a bit challenging to dress. Her pluses are her height and her upper body, particularly her fit-but-still-feminine arms (of which I think she’s justly proud). Sometimes she dresses beautifully in a way that accents her assets and minimizes her flaws (the latter are mainly on the bottom half of her figure). Sometimes her choices are unfortunate, to my way of thinking.

But for eight years she’s had to dress under constant scrutiny from both sides. That scrutiny will never go away. I’m not going to weep for her—it all came with enormous perks and great power, and she sought it and probably enjoys it very much. But still, I would wager she generally dressed a lot more conservatively than she wanted to a great deal of the time she was First Lady.

Now she gets to relax somewhat and be herself—or at least some public-but-private-citizen version of herself. And she probably wants to be trendier now and show off those shoulders.

But IMHO both blouses are very unflattering on her. They are difficult to wear styles, and best left to the young and waiflike. Michelle Obama is neither. I couldn’t pull off those blouses very well, either. Her ripped jeans, likewise. She looks like she’s trying to be a teen. One of her daughters would look great in those outfits, but not Michelle.

I am a bit like Michelle in that I can’t pull off ruffly fashions very well at all. I don’t know why, because I’m not masculine-looking, but I have a look that seems to require cleaner lines. And if there’s a print, it needs to be graphic. If flowers are in the print, they need to be large and dramatic. No little flowered numbers for me—they make me look like I’m in a housedress. I don’t know why, but that’s the way it is.

May 24th, 2017

A modern slave

This is a fascinating and deeply touching portrait of a situation that defies easy answers.

Was Lola, the woman described in the article, a “slave”? Let’s not worry about semantics. She was an abused servant whose life was hard, but who had an almost Zen-like philosophy and a great ability to create and give love. Though long, the article is well worth reading.

May 24th, 2017

In Manchester, terrorism was a family affair

At least, that’s the way it looks at the moment:

The Telegraph understands Hashem Abedi, 20, the brother of suspected attacker Salman Abedi, was arrested last night in the capital Tripoli by counterterrorism forces on suspicion of links to the Islamic State group.

Three armed vehicles arrived to take away their father, Ramadan Abedi, an administrative manager of the Central Security Force in Tripoli, late Wednesday afternoon.

A third brother, Ismail, has also been arrested after police raids in the UK. The family are believed to live between Manchester, where the children were born and grew up, and Libya.

That highlights one of many dilemmas authorities face in dealing with citizens and/or legal immigrants whose origins lie in any of the countries heavily involved in Islamic jihadi activities. Libya was one of the countries on the list in Trump’s EO, and had also been put on a list by the Obama administration, but the Abedi family were from there and probably had relatives and friends there, so travel to that country would be hard to flag as meaningful in terms of terrorist activities or training. From Libya it’s possible to travel to other countries with terrorist activities as well, although I would imagine that such travel would probably appear on a person’s passport (I’m not certain of that, though).

But then we also have the question of what the remedy might be. What’s the remedy, in a Western state with protections—particularly for citizens—from arrests or other restrictions when no crimes have been committed? During World War II there were internment camps for people of Japanese origin, many of them citizens (including children), but that approach would most definitely not fly today.

In the case of Manchester terrorist Salman Abedi, there were warnings aplenty. But they were general, and amounted to mere speech of a suspicious nature, and it’s not surprising that nothing was done:

…detectives probe a “network” linked to the Manchester suicide bomber as more details are beginning to emerge about Salman.

A Muslim community worker has said that members of the public called the police anti-terrorism hotline warning about the Manchester suicide bomber’s extreme and violent views several years ago.

It is also understood that Abedi was in Manchester earlier this year when he told people of the value of dying for a cause and made hardline statements about suicide operations and the conflict in Libya.

The community worker – who did not want to be identified – said two people who knew Salman Abedi at college made separate calls to the police.

They had been worried that “he was supporting terrorism” and had expressed the view that “being a suicide bomber was OK.”

This is potentially dangerous behavior, but not actionable behavior except perhaps to call the person in for questioning or some sort of monitoring of activities. I’m not sure if even that was done in the case of Abedi, but I very much doubt it would have mattered had it been done. And there are just too many Abedis all over the Western world to monitor effectively, even if law enforcement wanted to do so and was allowed to do so.

Now, however—now that 22 innocent people, many of them children and teens, are dead—now there is more police action on the Abedi front.

Our justice system and the protection it gives to the ordinary citizen from unwarranted and excessive police action is one of our prides, but it also hampers us in dealing with the threat that terrorism represents. It is a constant tension that will not go away, and I don’t see any solution, much less an easy solution.

[NOTE: And for those of you who say “ban immigration from places like Libya,” let me add that, whatever the pluses or minuses of that idea (and whether or not it would ever be implemented), it wouldn’t touch the many many people like Abedi, who was born in England and is a citizen.]

May 24th, 2017

About Sirhan Sirhan’s religion

I noticed mention of Robert Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan in the comments section yesterday, to wit:

[Calling terrorists “evil losers”] is the single strongest blow against Evil Losing Islamic terrorists since Sirhan Sirhan murdered RFK.

And commenter Bill wrote in response, “I’ve looked at this sentence twenty different ways and I still don’t know what it means. Especially the RFK part.”

I don’t quite know what the sentence means, either, except perhaps that its author was trying to date the assassination of RFK as one of the first acts of Islamic terrorism on our shores. We can quibble over whether an assassination qualifies as terrorism (usually people place it in a separate category, but I think that’s a bit picayune). But one thing I most definitely want to clear up is the misconception that Sirhan Sirhan was a Moslem. He was not.

In March of 2011 I wrote this post about Sirhan because he had been denied parole for the 14th time. I reproduce a portion of the post here.

When I heard the news of the parole denial, my first thought was, “Why is this man still alive?” After all, he assassinated a presidential candidate in full view of a crowd of people.

The answer is that, although he was sentenced to death in his trial, the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972, before his execution had taken place. The way that sort of thing works is that, even though he was sentenced when executions were allowed, the ruling was retroactive. And even though executions were re-instituted in California in the late 70s, his re-sentencing to life in prison (with possibility of parole) during that small window of opportunity stands.

It is a common misconception that, because Sirhan was a Palestinian angry at RFK because of what he considered his pro-Israel stance, the assassin must have been a Muslim. He was not; he was a Palestinian Christian whose parents had left the area and brought him to this country when he was twelve.

Another thing I wondered when I researched this post is why Sirhan was tried under the state criminal system in California. I knew the crime was committed there, but I thought surely this would have been a federal crime as well (one of its results, by the way, is that presidential candidates are now afforded Secret Service protection). It turns out that it was not a federal crime at the time, and another result of Sirhan’s act is that the killing of a presidential candidate is now a federal crime, due to a law Congress passed after RFK’s death in 1971. This sadly extended an earlier law passed by Congress in 1965, in reaction to the shooting of his brother JFK:

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, it was not a federal crime to kill a U.S. president. Had alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald been tried, the trial would have taken place in a Texas state court. In 1965, Congress passed a law, 18 U.S.C. 1751, making it a federal crime to kill, kidnap, or assault the President or the Vice President.

That’s one extension of the power of the federal government with which I have no quarrel.

And what do George Plimpton, Rosey Grier, and Pete Hamill have in common? They, among others, wrestled Sirhan to the ground after the assassination.

Another fact I had completely forgotten—if I ever even knew it in the first place—is that five other people were injured in the shooting, although they all lived. They were “Paul Schrade, an official with the United Automobile Workers union; William Weisel, an ABC TV unit manager; Ira Goldstein, a reporter with the Continental News Service; Elizabeth Evans, a friend of Pierre Salinger, one of Kennedy’s campaign aides; and a teenager, Irwin Stroll, a Kennedy volunteer.”

May 23rd, 2017

The beauteous Melania and Ivanka’s Middle Eastern fashions

Yes, this is a frivolous post. I need a pleasant escape for a little while from the heaviness of the news. Maybe you do, too.

And the world cares about these things, as measured by the buzz about the way Melania and Ivanka Trump dressed on their visit to the Saudis and then in Israel.

Here they are in Saudi Arabia, just two outfits of many:

And here they are in Israel:

The Saudi outfits show respect for Saudi tradition, because there is no need for Westerners to wear head scarves—only to dress somewhat modestly, and Melania and Ivanka also add “elegantly.” In Israel, Ivanka is dressed Orthodox-style, but that’s because she is an Orthodox Jew (or some approximation of Orthodoxy; I’m not sure how strict), and she will be going to the Western Wall in that outfit.

Orthodox can be elegant, as I learned years ago in Brooklyn at a store run by Orthodox Jews and often frequented by Orthodox Jewish women, whose chic wigs and long silk dresses surprised me with their sophisticated style. Here Ivanka looks very retro, as well (1930s, perhaps?). Both she and Melania show themselves to be the models they both once were (Melania had much more of a career than Ivanka, of course). These two aren’t just incredibly attractive women who know how to wear clothes; they’re both in the fashion industry now or in the past, and very successful at it.

Both Melania and Ivanka are tall and slender, with excellent carriage. I doubt we’ll again have such a physically stunning distaff side of the First Family.

And I may as well remark on an odd thing I noticed: both remind me of animals. And that’s not meant to be anything but a compliment. For example, Melania reminds me of a lioness:

And Ivanka of a female gazelle:

And if you look at this uncropped version of the photo of Melania and Ivanka in Israel, you can see why I say I wouldn’t want to be photographed standing next to them:

May 23rd, 2017

Terrorism and language: Trump and the evil losers

Last night commenter “Sergey” made the observation that Trump is “the most underestimated politician I heard about…He thinks outside the box, not even thinks, but grasps and sees what nobody else can grasp and see.”

I don’t know how cerebral Trump’s behavior is or how instinctual. But Sergey has a point, because Trump—not an articulate man in the usual sense—now and then demonstrates an uncanny ability to put his finger on something in an unexpected and savvy way.

I thought of that when I read of Trump’s response to the terrorist attack in Manchester, when he said of the perpetrator and his fellow terrorists:

They were evil losers.

I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that was a great name. I will call them losers from now on. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers, just remember that.

Trump made a point that I don’t think I’ve seen made by any other head of state, and I think it shows psychological astuteness. I refer to his observation that the terrorists would like to be considered monsters by the West, and so he won’t give them that satisfaction.

Monsters, after all, are larger than life, more powerful, scarier. If one major goal of a terrorist is to strike fear (and it is), calling terrorists “monsters” lets them know that that mission has been accomplished. “Evil losers” as a substitute is a very interesting construction, because it combines the strongly moral negative (“evil”) with a word that conveys weakness (“losers”). The second word, “losers,” also conveys contempt rather than fear. And contempt is not what they’re looking for.

“Evil losers” isn’t quite an oxymoron, but it’s a phrase using two words that most people wouldn’t think of putting together. It’s not an elegant phrase; no Churchill, he. It’s a bit awkward, which is very Trumpian. But I think it’s psychologically shrewd.

I’m not pretending it will change much of anything. But it sets a tone that makes sense to me.

May 23rd, 2017

Thoughts on the Manchester terrorist attack

The Manchester attack at the Ariana Grande concert last night deliberately targeted very young people. It’s an example of what I have previously called the “Pied Piper Impluse”:

Terrorists seem to operate under the Pied Piper Impulse of “get them where it hurts” in order to maximize both their leverage and the fear and grief their acts engender.

I have read several reports from people who had been to the concert, alleging that their backpacks weren’t searched. If true, that would indicate that security was lax. This turns out, however, to have been irrelevant, because the perpetrator was not at the concert.

Is there a single person on earth who is surprised that the terrorist has a name that indicates a Mideastern/Arabic/Muslim origin, and that he was apparently a known wolf?:

British authorities identified Salman Abedi, 22, as the suicide bomber in the attack at the Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people and injured dozens more…

Abedi was known to British authorities prior to Monday night’s attack, CBS News reported.

As soon as I read that the bomb did not go off during the concert, but detonated as the crowd was leaving, it occurred to me that the terrorist may have circumvented security by targeting the exits/entrances to the venue. This is always a possibility, because security can only begin at a certain geographic point. Sure enough, that was the case here:

The bomber, a man who police say arrived alone, was not inside the arena when he detonated his explosives. He arrived on the local rail system and approached one of the main exits as the audience made their way out.

Kids and teenagers were everywhere, meeting parents and making their way out of the building.

There are thousands of potential Salman Abedis in all the countries of the West, and although some are being “monitored” others are not, and at any rate the monitoring is obviously not good enough or effective enough to stop all of the ones who are subject to it.

I fear that too many Western nations have taken the Kerry attitude, despite their words of sorrow at events such as last night’s. As John Hinderaker writes:

The usual expressions of condolence and anger are being made, but while no doubt sincere, they feel rote. We have seen this story unfold too many times. The question is what we are going to do about it.

There are hundreds if not thousands of known terrorist sympathizers in the U.K., but in any of the liberal democracies, nothing can be done about them until they actually detonate a bomb, or carry out another sort of attack, or come perilously close to doing so. The only other way to address the problem is through immigration policy, but it is probably too late for that in a number of the Western European countries, including Great Britain. It isn’t too late here, but as we have seen with President Trump’s almost de minimis travel order, the establishment won’t permit any serious reconsideration of immigration policy.

So it seems that the West is committed to John Kerry’s view of Islamic terrorism: viewing it as a “nuisance” that we just have to put up with.

The Manchester attack reminds me of the sort of thing that used to happen almost on a daily basis in Israel. Then after the Israelis built the much-maligned wall, the number and death toll shrunk down enormously, and the modus operandi changed as well. But if my suspicion that Abedi was born in Britain—or, at least, has been there for a long long time—is correct, then the true parallel with Israel is to its Arab population, which is large. Israel, a country known for its brilliant security, doesn’t seem to have solved that problem of the internal terrorist any more than Europe or the US has, because there are still a number of terrorist attacks emanating from the Arab population of that country, and there are many Arab sympathizers with those attacks who live in Israel as well. However, large explosive attacks such as the one in Manchester last night—which used to be commonplace in Israel before the wall—have been mostly replaced (at least to the best of my knowledge) with smaller-scale but still deadly knife attacks. I’m not sure why that is, and I’m not sure it’s all that significant, but it does seem to have at least reduced the number of victims per attack.

To the victims in Manchester and their families, my heartfelt condolences for their terrible, terrible loss. RIP.

[ADDENDUM: And here is some further detail on Abedi—and indeed, he was born in Britain:

Born in Manchester in 1994, the second youngest of four children his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.

His parents were both born in Libya but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester where they have lived for at least ten years.

They had three sons in total and a daughter, who is now 18-years-old.

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area, just yards from the local girl’s high school, which hit the headlines in 2015 when twins and grade A pupils, Zahra and Salma Halane, who were both aspiring medical students, left their homes and moved to Isil controlled Syria.

There were unconfirmed reports in Manchester that the whole family apart from the two elder sons recently returned to Libya.

None of this—none—is a surprise. We have yet to learn whether anyone in the family was under surveillance or investigation, or how the ball was dropped, but my guess is that there just wasn’t anything to distinguish Abedi or his family from thousands and thousands of others like him/then. Even a return trip to Libya could have easily been explained if they have relatives there to visit.]

May 22nd, 2017

Al Sisi on Trump

This quote from Egyptian president al Sisi to President Trump is pretty funny:

“Let me say that you have a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible.”

I don’t think many people would disagree with that one, no matter what side they’re on.

Trump certainly didn’t disagree:

Trump laughed and replied, “That’s very interesting…I agree.”

Trump is in Israel now.

May 22nd, 2017

Trump’s speech to the Muslim world

In yesterday’s speech addressing the Muslim world, Trump did something creative. Instead of wading into the swamp of the “terrorists are not real Muslims” argument, he got out of the trap of opining on Islamic theology altogether. Instead, he universalized the argument and made it a religious one, saying:

Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith. Terrorists do not worship God. They worship death.

We’re all in this together—us against the terrorists. But he made it clear that Muslims have a special responsibility to fight this thing:

The speech also called upon Muslim governments to be far more active in the fight against terrorism and extremism. He warned them that the United States could not and would not try to solve this problem for them: “It is a choice between two futures — and it is a choice America cannot make for you.” Among the already famous “Drive them out” lines was the first: “Drive them out of your places of worship.” This was as close as Trump came to stating clearly that Muslim extremism is a religious problem that has invaded mosques and in fact invaded Islam itself, and that Muslims need to clean out the networks of mosques and madrassas and imams upon which extremism feeds.

The most memorable part of the speech was the phrase “Drive them out,” repeated several times in several ways:

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and


The repetition is effective as a rhetorical device. It’s a short and memorable phrase, with a pulsing rhythm and…drive. It also has a subtle escalation of widening spheres from which terrorists should be driven. First, the mosque. Next, the community. Then, the country. Finally, he earth itself.

This is not only rhetorically satisfying, but it is an answer to critics who say Trump didn’t criticize the Saudis for funding the preaching of terrorism. He couldn’t do that directly, as a guest in their own country. But he put the first emphasis in the correct place: the mosque (although he didn’t call it that, we know that certain mosques with certain clerics are the main “places of worship” in Saudi Arabia and the countries of the other assembled leaders).

No, Trump didn’t address all the problems of terrorism; for example, the internet is a huge propaganda machine for the terrorists, especially those who live in the West. But he wasn’t talking to the leaders of Europe about terrorism, he was talking to Muslim nations.

How do we or anyone else “drive them out”? That’s a question the world has been wrestling with for many a long year. I wouldn’t expect Trump to suddenly come up with the answer.

This was only a speech, after all. A speech is not action. But this speech accomplished several things. It showed not just the Muslim world but the entire world that Trump can look and sound like a president. That’s hardly everything, but it’s something, and it’s an important something. It also showed the world that he is going to set a more resolute tone about terrorism than Obama did. It was tactful and respectful, which was important for Trump, too, because he needed to reassure the world that he’s neither a madman nor a rude crude buffoon. Trump retains more than enough cowboy” aspects in his personality to make him unpredictable and keep people on their toes, and so he needed to reassure the world that he’s not always a loose cannon, and that he can walk the diplomatic walk and talk the diplomatic talk.

May 22nd, 2017

SCOTUS rules North Carolina redistricting motive was race, not politics

And Clarence Thomas sided with the 5-3 majority (Gorsuch did not participate; i assume because he never heard the oral arguments, but I haven’t seen the reason stated):

This decision by Justice Kagan is a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs, who have succeeded in turning the racial gerrymandering cause of action into an effective tool to go after partisan gerrymanders in Southern states. That Justice Kagan got Justice Thomas not only to vote this way but to sign onto the opinion (giving it precedential value) is a really big deal. Despite what is written in the text of the opinion, Justice Kagan, in a couple of footnotes (footnotes 1 and 7), attempts to solve the race or party problem by moving the Court much closer to the position of treating race and party as proxies for one another in the American South…

Justice Alito, in his partial dissent for himself, the Chief Justice, and Justice Kennedy, is incensed at the decision, seeing it as inconsistent with the Court’s earlier decision in Easley v. Cromartie. He begins his dissent with: “A precedent of this Court should not be treated like a disposable household item—say, a paper plate or napkin—to be used once and then tossed in the trash. But that is what the Court does today …

I haven’t read the decision, nor am I especially familiar with the details of the case. But the fact that Justice Thomas sided with the liberal majority is highly unusual and makes me think the majority might have a point. On the other hand, party is most definitely not an automatic proxy for race, party is an entity in and of itself and more than enough motive for redistricting. It’s hard to see how any party—in the South or elsewhere in the US—could avoid racial disparities in districts drawn strictly along party lines.

The sort of reasoning of the SCOTUS majority in this case reminds me somewhat of the mind-reading that was part of the recent liberal decisions on Trump’s EO and his supposedly discriminatory motive for it. The fact that Republicans in the South tend to be more white, and Democrats more black, is a given. And I haven’t seen anything that addresses a question I have, which is whether this reasoning would work in the opposite direction if Democrats did it to favor the Democratic Party (and black voters) in their districts. I don’t like gerrymandering in general, by the way, but it’s legal and has long been used by whatever party is in power at the time of the districting.

The author of the piece at the link, Rick Hasen (who is an expert in election law), has this to say about the decision in the suit:

The harm in the racial gerrymandering cases is not vote dilution (which is separately considered under the Voting Rights Act and Constitution). The harm has been conceived of as an expressive one of sending the message that voters have been separated on the basis of race without adequate justification. It is a theory J. O’Connor invented in the 1993 Shaw v. Reno case. Liberals used to hate the theory, till this decade, when they started using the theory to attack Republican gerrymanders that Republican legislatures justified as compelled by the Voting Rights Act…

The controversy comes from the analysis of District 12. That district raises the question whether race or party predominated in redistricting. This is a particularly difficult question in the American South, because of “conjoined polarization,” race and party overlap to a great extent, so the question of which predominates is somewhat nonsensical. I make that case extensively in a forthcoming essay, Race or Party, Party as Race, or Party All the Time: Three Uneasy Approaches to Conjoined Polarization in Redistricting and Voting Cases.

It seems nonsensical to me as well, and rather pernicious. According to Hasen:

Holy cow this is a big deal. It means that race and party are not really discrete categories and that discriminating on the basis of party in places of conjoined polarization is equivalent, at least sometimes, to making race the predominant factor in redistricting. This will lead to many more successful racial gerrymandering cases in the American South and elsewhere, and allow these cases to substitute for (so far unsuccessful) partisan gerrymandering claims involving some of these districts. (Why Justice Thomas went along with all of this is a mystery to me. He joined in the opinion, and his separate opinion expresses no disagreement with these footnotes.)

More here:

Alito in his dissent argued that the redrawn lines “are readily explained by political considerations.”

The state formed new lines to comply with the lower court’s ruling, but this also faces a lawsuit that a federal court will hear in June. The groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina filed the lawsuit, which questions “the breadth to which lawmakers can draw districts for partisan advantage.”

That pending case seems to involve more general questions about politics, not race.

May 20th, 2017

Do skaters get dizzy?

Yes, they do. But not nearly as dizzy as you and I would. They’ve got a system, although it takes a lot of practice:

The short answer is training, but to really grasp why figure skaters can twirl without getting dizzy requires an understanding of the vestibular system, the apparatus in our inner ear that helps to keep us upright. This system contains special sensory nerve cells that can detect the speed and direction at which our head moves. These sensors are tightly coupled with our eye movements and with our perception of our body’s position and motion through space. For instance, if we rotate our head to the right while our eyes remain focused on an object straight ahead, our eyes naturally move to the left at the same speed. This involuntary response allows us to stay focused on a stationary object.

Spinning is more complicated. When we move our head during a spin, our eyes start to move in the opposite direction but reach their limit before our head completes a full 360-degree turn. So our eyes flick back to a new starting position midspin, and the motion repeats as we rotate. When our head rotation triggers this automatic, repetitive eye movement, called nystagmus, we get dizzy.

Skaters suppress the dizziness by learning how to counteract nystagmus with another type of eye movement, called optokinetic nystagmus. Optokinetic nystagmus occurs in the opposite direction of the nystagmus and allows us to track a moving object—such as a train whizzing by—with our eyes while our head remains in place. As the first few cars of the train move out of view, our eyes jump back to their initial position to follow the next few, and the motion repeats. Skaters can train themselves to engage this opposing eye movement when they rotate to offset the nystagmus and keep the world from spinning.

That makes me a mite dizzy just to read about. I don’t think spinning is for everyone. It wouldn’t be for me, even though I was a dancer. Dancers use quite a different technique than skaters to defend against dizziness—a much easier one, in my opinion, one that is only possible because they spin far more slowly, since their friction isn’t reduced by being on ice.

But the biggest mystery is why dancers prefer to generally turn clockwise and skaters counterclockwise. I’m a left-handed right-turning dancer, and I have a good friend who was a right-handed left-turning dancer (left-turning dancers exist, but they are a great rarity), so it has nothing to do with handedness.

Nor does it have to do with dominant feet or legs, as that article linked postulates. There is a type of turn in ballet called the chaine turn which makes exactly equal use of both feet and both legs, and yet the clockwise preference of dancers is retained while doing chaines.

Want to learn how to do them? They’re relatively easy compared to other ballet turns:

By the way, I think the weight of that dancer’s upper back is ever-so-slightly leaned too far backward rather than on the vertical. I know, I know; picky, picky, picky (I used to teach ballet, too, but you won’t see me demonstrating it on video).

And I’d love to see this girl’s physics project (read the explanation at YouTube):

I used to be able to do many of these—but not on pointe:

Here’s the champ of spinning in skating, Lucinda Ruh:

May 20th, 2017

The high cost of insurance fraud in drug rehab

Health insurance fraud in drug rehab is not just about money. It can be an issue of life and death. But the money involved is enormous, too.

Read this article and weep. An excerpt:

When she enrolled in a South Florida drug treatment program in 2015, Alison Flory had high hopes of getting her life in order and starting anew.

But instead of receiving life-saving health care, the 23-year-old from a Chicago suburb found herself being recruited from one recovery residence to another as a string of shady drug treatment facilities systematically overcharged her mother’s health insurance policy for expensive, unnecessary procedures and tests.

By October 2016, Alison was dead…

Experts estimate that the government and private insurance companies lose $100 billion each year to health care scams and fraudulent claims…

Over a 15-month period in 2015 and 2016, Alison moved nine times to different drug treatment centers. It was largely the work of fellow addicts – young men – who were paid to lure her and others away from their current treatment program. They did so with the promise of free rent, free use of a scooter, and other benefits – including possible romance – if the patient agreed to enroll in a particular treatment program and live in a recovery residence or sober home associated with that treatment program.

Sobriety had nothing to do with it. It is an open secret among addicts enrolled in South Florida treatment facilities that hundreds of suburban homes posing as drug-free recovery residences are little more than co-ed flop houses where the use of drugs is permitted and sometimes encouraged.

The situation is an outrageous disgrace. And why is there no effective algorithm at insurance companies to catch this sort of thing? It wouldn’t seem all that difficult to do; and surely they are losing a lot of money in this way and one would think they’d be motivated to spot it and stop it. Are they afraid they’ll be accused of being meanies if they flag the behavior?

The situation is also a result—an unintended consequence—of Obamacare’s covering “children” up to 26. They are adults, and their parents don’t necessarily know what’s going on even though the payments and statements are on their insurance and come to them. Or perhaps they are just too trusting, but that’s what the perps depend on.

And why on earth was a new license given by the state of Florida? Was someone on the take?

[Hat tip Althouse.]

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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