Hazards of Fatherhood

Babies are wonderful. Holding a baby is wonderful.

But listen up, ’cause I’m gonna drop a truth bomb: A baby will grab your nipple.

I’m not kidding about this. You’re holding a baby — perhaps even your own baby — and he will reach over and just grab your nipple as hard as he can. In related news: When your nipple gets grabbed by a baby, it hurts.

You might think a five-month-old baby is not very strong. How much damage can five tiny fingers really do? It turns out, though, that strength is relative. A baby cannot, perhaps, crush an aluminum can. But a nipple is not aluminum. It is much easier to crush than a Coke can, and it contains many more pain receptors.

Also, baby fingernails grow really fast, so even if they’re trimmed frequently, they’re like itty bitty daggers most of the time.

Also also, if you’re a dude (like me), it’s possible you don’t wear a bra (like me). It’s possible your top half is covered by nothing more than a thin cotton T-shirt, or in some cases, heaven help you, nothing at all.

A baby can sense when your defenses are weak.

And here’s the biggest thing. If an adult makes an unsolicited nipple grab, it is considered a serious faux pas, and also, under most circumstances, their fault. “Why did you grab and squeeze my nipple as hard as you could?” one might reasonably ask.

But if a baby grabs your nipple, it is considered your own fault for not guarding the nipple.

So, people. You have to be careful.

If you are considering having a baby, take this into consideration. And if you are considering holding someone else’s baby…

That is all.

About the new travel ban

You may have heard that Trump signed a new version of the travel ban executive order, which takes effect March 16 and cancels the previous version of the ban. Key differences include:

  • Iraq is removed from the list of banned countries.
  • Syria is no longer singled out for indefinite/permanent exclusion. It now gets the same temporary ban as the other countries on the list.
  • The part about giving preference to religious minorities (which Trump said was designed to prioritize Christians) is gone.
  • The ban doesn’t apply to green card holders.
  • The text includes a lot of extra (silly) justification for why the ban is necessary.
  • EDIT: As Brianna pointed out in the comments section, the order also cuts the annual refugee cap from 110,000 (under the Obama administration) to 50,000. Why do all these rules, supposedly aimed at keeping out terrorists, actually keep out victims of terrorists?

(News storyfull text of new orderexplanation of changes.)

The idea of categorically banning immigrants from certain countries, as a security measure, has never made any sense, because the statistical correlation between a person’s security risk and nationality is absurdly low. So the basic idea of the travel ban was dumb before, and it hasn’t gotten any less dumb.

But a lot of critics are already calling the new version unconstitutional, and that’s quite a different thing. The ACLU tweeted:

Newsflash: #MuslimBan2 is still religious discrimination, still unconstitutional. So we’re fighting it.

This seems like a tougher case to make. It certainly isn’t a Muslim ban in a literal sense, as it affects a small minority of Muslims, and there’s no longer any language that gives special treatment to any religious groups within those countries. It might be the first step toward a Muslim ban, or the closest they think they can legally get to a Muslim ban, but that’s different.

The old version was clearly (to me) unconstitutional for a number of reasons, but this new version seems to have changed those parts. The only way I can see this being unconstitutional now is that it has the intent to discriminate.

That seems a little shaky.

I certainly agree that religious discrimination seems like the intent. Trump explicitly said so, after all. And from what I understand, proving a (religious) discriminatory intent is indeed sufficient to prove discrimination in a First Amendment legal context. But the idea of asking a judge to determine the motivation in the President’s brain seems like an overreach. Surely it’s the law (or order) itself that matters, not the feelings of the people who created it — right?

Again, I think Travel Ban 2.0 is idiotic, and harmful, and should be removed. I’m just not sold (yet) on this “unconstitutional” thing.

Readers, any thoughts?


I am a mature adult


The Federalist Capers — Issue no. 4


Issue 4 is now available.

Paul wrote a great section exploring Trump’s ties to Russia. We also look at Trump’s war with the media (and with objective reality), offer a template for writing to your Senators, and suggest other ways you can make a difference.

Those of you who subscribe to the paper edition, you should get your copy in the next day or two.

Stay sane out there.

Works in progress

Still writing & researching Crane Girl, still scrambling to get Federalist Capers issue 4 ready by the beginning of March. Working on a new, nonfiction book project. Lots of other things going on. Nothing too intelligent to say at the moment.

In the meantime, here’s Chris Wallace of Fox News about a week ago, calmly explaining why it’s one thing for Trump to criticize the media, but it’s very different to call them the “enemy of the people.” Check it out.

Yelling ≠ debate

I’ve seen a lot of news lately about Republican senators and representatives having town hall meetings, where a ton of liberal activists show up, and interrupt, and chant, and jeer, and boo, and shout a lot of questions, and seemingly don’t listen very carefully to the answers, and generally shut down the broader discussion.

Not all cases are like this. Many times there’s a tense but reasonably civil back-and-forth dialogue. Right now, though, I’m talking about the jeering-and-interrupting kind.

Because virtually every reaction I’ve heard from the left — from Democratic leaders all the way down to liberal dudes and ladies on social media — has been strongly approving. They love this tactic, it seems. I I don’t think I’ve heard a single person on the left condemn it.

Speaking as a liberal activist myself: What the hell?

Of course people on both sides of the political spectrum can and should go to town halls, whether they agree with the representative or not. Of course they should speak up, ask pointed questions, call out lies, demand accountability. Of course there should be a debate, or at least an attempt at one.

But in many cases, that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is that somebody comes out to talk to constituents and gets yelled at for a while, and the actual conversation gets lost in the noise.

How is this helpful, exactly?

If you want to yell, by all means, yell. That’s what protests are for. Use your outside voices — outside. Or if you want to protest inside the town hall, do it in a non-disruptive way — wear shirts with slogans on them, hold up signs, whatever. You can make yourself heard, and you should. There are a thousand ways to do it. First Amendment’s still in effect, as near as I can tell.

But trying to shout down the other side just makes you look stupid.

If a kindergartner tried to win an argument by shouting down another kid, you’d tell them that that’s not how we do things. So why are adults getting a free pass?

A lot of Republicans have stopped having town halls altogether, and people get upset. “Why aren’t you going out to face your constituents?” Well, y’know, probably ’cause they don’t want to get yelled at for an hour? It’s their job to face criticism. It’s not their job to stand in front of a microphone and listen to screaming.

The only real defense I’ve heard for this tactic is that when Obama was president, Tea Party activists did it to liberal politicians.

Guys. If our standard for wisdom is “stuff Tea Party activists have done,” we’re in sad shape.

I think what frustrates me most about these yell-ins is how blatantly partisan they are. People seem to love it when it’s their side doing the yelling, but once it’s the other side, suddenly the shouters are disrupting the democratic process. In other words, it’s not about logic, it’s about which team you’re on. Your team does it, great. Other team does it, it’s terrible.

That kind of my-team-your-team mentality has been going on for the length and breadth of recorded history, but Trump has elevated it to levels I’ve never seen before, at least not from a U.S. president. He doesn’t care about thinking correctly, or even getting the facts right. He just wants to win, no matter the damage that his “winning” may inflict on America’s institutions, democratic processes, or people.

I reject that mentality. I hope you do, too. I don’t just want my team to “win” — I want us to be right, and to do the right thing.

Because to me, that’s largely what winning is.

Analysis paralysis

Level 0 (neophyte): Gather data, analyze swiftly, make a decision. No paralysis.

Level 1 (practitioner): Gather data. Can’t decide between possible actions. Spend too long analyzing, end up doing nothing. Paralysis occurs.

Level 2 (master): Due to awareness of “analysis paralysis” problem, can’t decide whether to be decisive or do a big analysis. Second-order paralysis. Meta-failure achieved.

Guess who just got promoted to master!

Just kidding. I got promoted a long time ago.