September 2, 2006

The hawk.

Blogging about that heron -- not a crane, I'm told, but a great blue heron -- I glanced up from my computer and saw a hawk in the oak tree. I couldn't get a good shot of it, but then I looked up again and saw it sitting on the railing of the deck:

Hawk

That's the best of the three shots I took through the window, and then it took off in a blur:

Hawk

Lake Mendota, midday.

Let me show you where to look among the weeds and the scum:

Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota

A lone crane heron ...

Lake Mendota

Startled:

Flying crane

UPDATE: I'm told that's not a crane but a great blue heron.

Saturday.

Allen Centennial Garden

Go somewhere.

Sprezzatura.

Well, I see that The New Republic 's Lee Siegel has gone and gotten himself into trouble by participating in the production of blog comments in support of his own writing. The pseudonymous Sprezzatura went about slamming Siegel's critics, like Ezra Klein, who serves up the details and declines to gloat. And now TNR has killed Siegel's blog and suspended him from writing for the magazine.

The person I know with the best memory reminds me that in the past I've made fun of Lee Siegel's writing -- including once in a post with an update saying that the person I know with the best memory reminds me that in the past I've made fun of Lee Siegel's writing. So, I should be enjoying the poor critic's plight more than I'd realized.

Let's look at the old posts.

April 12, 2004:
"The marriage of comedy and politics is even more unhealthy than the marriage of church and state." So says Lee Siegel, TNR's TV critic. Too many metaphors: marriage and health. And unhealthy comedy is not going to kill anyone, whereas the diseases of the religion-state alliance have produced monumental evils throughout history.

But I agree with Siegel that right now politics is ruining comedy, especially The Daily Show (as I said here). Jon Stewart gets so much good press--the NYT never misses an opportunity to praise him--so it's really almost shocking to read strong criticism like this:
Stewart weighs down his jokes with a kind of Government 101 knowingness. He's not just funny about politics, you see, he's savvy about the way the system works, and he's going to help us through the maze. In Washington, "you have to cut through the partisan gridlock just to get to the bureaucratic logjam." Stop, you're killing me. But when it came to Richard Clarke and his controversial book, Stewart gave up even the pretense of being funny. ... Here was a slick, malleable, professional political advisor/operator, who had the choice of resigning in protest against an invasion of Iraq months before it took place, when such a protest might have had consequences, but chose instead to wait until his slighted ego burst at the seams--this Clarke, a true embodiment of human foible and folly, deserved to be manhandled by the spirit of laughter every bit as much as his accusations deserved to be defended by the spirit of truth. But like everybody else in public life, from politicians and pundits to performers and poets, Stewart wants to seem edifying and instructive. He wants to seem good.

Wanting to seem good is really bad for comedy. And, of course, picking a political side to be what is good is just bad for so many reasons. Siegel thinks Stewart is pandering to his audience, but I would think he's losing half of his audience. He's lost me. And (unlike Siegel) I was completely in love with him.

I'VE JUST GOT TO ADD: If I didn't independently agree with Siegel's opinion of The Daily Show, I would have been quite reluctant to trust him, because I think his instincts about comedy are a bit off, since he seems to have meant the following sentence to be taken seriously:
Politics hates the naked unbridled ego that laughter sets free; it hates it with the intensity with which laughter heaps its furies on the naked unbridled ego that hides behind the highflown sentiments of politics.
As Jon Stewart would say: Whaaaa?
From February 7, 2005:
Baby, you can't do my media criticism.

Here's the free link to get to Lee Siegel's TNR essay about why football provides the perfect showcase for ads. Assuming you want to get to it. It reads like this:
Last night, the brunt of the commercials during the first quarter were for cars, mostly SUVs and minivans. Even a very unexcited-looking Paul McCartney ("Thank you Super Bowl!" he kept shouting) sang, as the first of four songs in his halftime show, "Baby You Can Drive My Car." The interesting thing about a car is that it's a piece of property that you can inhabit while traversing, or entering, other people's property. That's what Brady's team was doing as it moved down the field. So what was happening in the stadium and what was occurring on the tube were mutual reinforcements of this illusion of sovereign motion.
Well, first, that really is not the interesting thing about a car. But second, what laughably tedious writing! The weird thing is that it reminded me a lot of the great old George Carlin routine comparing football and baseball.
Funnily enough, over at Klein's post, you can see that Sprezzatura said things like this:
There's this awful suck-up named Ezra Klein--his "writing" is sweaty with panting obsequious ambition--who keeps distorting everything Siegel writes--the only way this no-talent can get him. And I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can't. Maybe if they'd let themselves go and write truthfully, they'd get Leon Wieseltier to notice them too.
Ha! Lee Siegel is a ridiculously bad writer.

Did Patrick Fitzgerald act improperly?

The NYT asks, in light of what we've just found out: that he knew the identity of the leaker all along.
Now, the question of whether Mr. Fitzgerald properly exercised his prosecutorial discretion in continuing to pursue possible wrongdoing in the case has become the subject of rich debate on editorial pages and in legal and political circles....

Mr. Fitzgerald’s decision to prolong the inquiry once he took over as special prosecutor in December 2003 had significant political and legal consequences. The inquiry seriously embarrassed and distracted the Bush White House for nearly two years and resulted in five felony charges against Mr. Libby, even as Mr. Fitzgerald decided not to charge Mr. Armitage or anyone else with crimes related to the leak itself.

Moreover, Mr. Fitzgerald’s effort to find out who besides Mr. Armitage had spoken to reporters provoked a fierce battle over whether reporters could withhold the identities of their sources from prosecutors and resulted in one reporter, Judith Miller, then of The New York Times, spending 85 days in jail before agreeing to testify to a grand jury.

Since this week’s disclosures about Mr. Armitage’s role, Bush administration officials have argued that because the original leak came from a State Department official, it was clear there had been no concerted White House effort to disclose Ms. Wilson’s identity.
Why did Fitzgerald do it? "The inquiry seriously embarrassed and distracted the Bush White House...." That looks rather glaring.
Mr. Fitzgerald, who has spoken infrequently in public, came close to providing a defense for his actions at a news conference in October 2005, when Mr. Libby was indicted. Mr. Fitzgerald said that apart from the issue of whether any crime had been committed, the justice system depended on the ability of prosecutors to obtain truthful information from witnesses during any investigation.
Do you want to unleash the prosecutors of the world to follow that theory, that they ought to go ahead and investigate what they know is not a crime, because by exercising your prosecutorial powers you might cause someone to commit a crime? But Fitzgerald did not defend that theory. He only tried to justify indicting someone for perjury when he had no one to indict for the crime he was investigating. These are two different things!

What would we do without Site Meter?

I see that Site Meter malfunctioned some time around 2 a.m. -- not just here, but on all the blogs I checked. I'm assuming they'll get it fixed soon, even that they'll eventually show the accumulated traffic numbers, but at least that they'll get it going again. But what if they don't? And even if they do, what if they stop later? Blogging will go on as long as human beings have the web -- right? -- but will Site Meter always be there? How much do we rely on it? And then there's that deep, dark downside -- the way you keep checking it. What are you looking for? Connections? Progress? Signs of winning a game?

Would you blog differently if you couldn't look at the Site Meter records? Do you know any bloggers who won't use Site Meter? Not seeing the symbol on the page doesn't mean they don't have it. If you pay for premium service you can opt not to show the symbol. Most bloggers seem to have Site Meter but not to pay for premium service. I think I'm in the smallest category: those who pay for premium service but don't hide the symbol or even block access to the records. I just like seeing the detailed records! What am I looking for? I'm not sure, but I have more to look at.

Some bloggers are proud of having no traffic meter, and others express pride in rarely checking the meter. They seem to think it affects the content of the blog and the whole feeling of being a blogger, and they are probably right. I'm a big meter-checker myself, and I probably started out as the kind of person who would be a meter-checker, but all that meter checking over the years, so closely connected to the daily practice of writing, has got to have had an effect on my mind. If the meter were taken away from me now, what would become of me?

UPDATE: Note only is Site Meter back, with all the accumulated statistics in place, but David Smith, the creator of Site Meter, stopped by the comments to this post to say:
Sorry everyone. Site Meter had a little problem this morning and the statistics are currently delayed a little. They should be back to real-time soon. I plan on Site Meter being around for a long time.
Thanks, David. I (heart) Site Meter.

And some people have been asking in the comments if the Site Meter information affects what bloggers write about. It's hard to say for sure, since you can't experience that alternate reality of life without Site Meter -- unless today's little outage gave some insight. Perhaps I'd write less if I had no information about whether anyone was reading. But does it affect what I write? I don't really think so. I can see what gets linked and which links bring the most traffic (and also what gets the most comments), but I think the blog is what it is because of the whole mix, and the whole environment means something, even the posts that seem to get less attention. I just keep going following my own personal sense of what's interesting, and maybe I even especially like to do a post about something that I think no one else cares about.

September 1, 2006

It's the weekend.

Pink flower

ADDED: If the flower didn't lift your spirits enough, gaze upon this:



Happy now? To take the edge off that happiness:
"The poor little guy stuck out like a sore thumb," [said T.J. Zambrano, 25, president of University of North Texas's Albino Squirrel Preservation Society].

Students will reminisce at a service at noon today near the Student Union Building, the squirrel's favorite scampering spot, university officials said.

"Some students saw the hawk and tried to shoo it away, but it was too late," Zambrano said. "Some animal control people took the body away.

"The squirrel wasn't shy, and people constantly fed him. He had a good life."

This is the second albino squirrel that has lived on campus, he said. The first, Thelonius, inspired the founding of the preservation society in 2002 and vanished in 2003.

"We can only hope Mother Nature will bring us another albino squirrel," Zambrano said.
What? So he can stick out like a sore thumb like the other two? But why not? Sometimes Mother Nature does the hawks a favor and serves up an easy lunch.

Iraq talk: victory, appeasement, fear.

The NYT observes that President Bush's most recent Iraq speech used the word "victory" 12 times, a word he's avoided for months. The same article also notes that he did not use the concept of "appeasement" to knock his political adversaries, as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumfeld each did earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are working on getting us to see through their frame:
“After six years,’’ said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “they’ve got only fear to sell.’’

Another Democrat, Senator Barbara Boxer of California, called the Bush speech “a long repetition of old messages and rhetoric to scare the American people’’ and said she would push for a Senate vote calling on the president to replace Mr. Rumsfeld.
The Times doesn't specifically call attention to this as a language ploy, even though the quoted text comes right after the discussion of "victory" and "appeasement."

"The person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson."

Says The Washington Post in an editorial today:
[Her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV] chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.
That goes way beyond simply saying the Plame affair is over, doesn't it? There's an immense amount of blogger commentary on this editorial, of course. Links collected here.

Forget history.

Let's talk about economics, technology, social customs and globalization. The new Chinese history textbooks.
Socialism has been reduced to a single, short chapter in the senior high school history course. Chinese Communism before the economic reform that began in 1979 is covered in a sentence. The text mentions Mao only once — in a chapter on etiquette.

Nearly overnight the country’s most prosperous schools have shelved the Marxist template that had dominated standard history texts since the 1950’s. The changes passed high-level scrutiny, the authors say, and are part of a broader effort to promote a more stable, less violent view of Chinese history that serves today’s economic and political goals....

The one-party state, having largely abandoned its official ideology, prefers people to think more about the future than the past.

It's strange, this idea of seeing history only in the future. It's good to avoid lying about the past, but it's a lie to think the past doesn't relate to the future.

The most powerful woman in the world.

It's not Condi. It's Angela. Condi's 2. 3: Wu Yi. 4: Nooyi.

Breastmilk-pumping.

Did you know some women use a device that pumps out their breastmilk while they are driving? That seems so wrong. But what do you think of all these other efforts women make to keep up with breastfeeding when they are separated from their babies? From my own experience with breastfeeding, I can't imagine wanting to keep it up once I'd gone back to work. The idea of using a mechanical pump is so unpleasant, and the milk seems too intimate to leave in the office refrigerator. (The picture at the link shows bags of milk -- cutesily labelled "My Mommy's Milk" -- on a freezer rack next to a box of black bean enchiladas.) And there's a huge problem -- not mentioned in the article -- that I'll just sum up in one word: leakage.

But apparently, a lot of women are working and pumping these days. I guess if you don't now, you're supposed to feel bad. It's hard enough to be a working mother without having people upping the standard of what it takes to do it passably well.

But as for the women who want to do it... they'd like more active accommodation by their employers. In pursuit of this goal, the linked NYT article takes the equality tack: Professional women are nicely accommodated by employers who offer posh "lactation rooms" and lots of time but working class women are stuck using the bathroom during their regular breaks. Are you softened up for some legislation yet?
[F]ederal law offers no protection to mothers who express milk on the job — despite the efforts of Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, who has introduced such legislation. “I can’t understand why this doesn’t move,” she said. “This is pro-family, pro-health, pro-economy.”

Meanwhile, states are stepping in. Twelve states have passed laws protecting pumping mothers — Oklahoma’s law, the newest, will take effect in November. But like Oklahoma’s, which merely states that an employer “may provide reasonable break time” and “may make a reasonable effort” to provide privacy, most are merely symbolic.
One solution that's not mentioned is giving women longer maternity leaves so they can breastfeed the baby directly. But that, ironically, would violate the Equal Protection Clause! Maternity leaves in excess of the pregnancy disability period of eight weeks -- unless an equal period is given to new fathers -- is unconstitutional sex discrimination. That's the plain implication of the Supreme Court's opinion in Nevada v. Hibbs -- upholding the Family and Medical Leave Act as an exercise of Congress's Fourteenth Amendment power -- as I pointed out in a law review article (PDF):
There was no recognition in Hibbs that a state might, without engaging in mere sex stereotypes, genuinely think that more than eight weeks are needed to recover from pregnancy and childbirth or might, quite apart from stereotypes about who ought to take care of a baby, want to facilitate breast-feeding for a period longer than eight weeks.

[FOOTNOTE} See Liz Galst, Babies Aren’t the Only Beneficiaries of Breast-Feeding, N.Y. TIMES, June 22, 2003, § 15, at 4 (noting the developing scientific evidence indicating that breastfeeding offers greater health benefits to children as well as to mothers). It is puzzling that there is no mention in the briefs or in the opinions of the issue of breast-feeding, which entails a real physical difference that can justify treating new mothers differently from fathers. The importance of accommodating breast-feeding women in the workplace should not make it seem invidious to support a new mother who wants to take a longer leave to procure this health benefit for herself and the infant, instead of struggling with breast-pumping or bringing the infant into the workplace. That medical research is developing in this area suggests the value of leaving room for experimentation with maternal leave policies.
When I was writing that article, I asked a colleague why no one brought up breastfeeding. She didn't have any ideas about why the states wouldn't use breastfeeding to account for treating men and women differently when it comes to giving leave to new parents (a key issue in Hibbs). But, she said, women's groups have not worked for breastfeeding leaves because it runs counter to their goal of pushing for requiring employers to accommodate breastfeeding employees. And, I would add, it conflicts with a preference for keeping women in the workplace. If a state offered more new parent leave to women in order to breastfeed, women's groups might construe it as an attempt to promote traditional sex roles, with the woman staying home with the baby. Can you tell the difference between a benefit and discrimination there? [ADDED: I should clarify that only government action violates the Equal Protection Clause, so that if the state is not the employer and if the new statutory law did not require longer leave for women, it would be possible to redo the statutory law that limits private employers.]

I think we could support giving women more of a choice whether to stay home and breastfeed or go back to work and continue to breastfeed. There is so much pressure on women! It's hard to go through pregnancy and childbirth and to take care of an infant. Breastfeeding a pretty simple part of this if you have your baby close by. But you may need to go back to work or want to go back to work. I strongly support that. And I support the pumping approach if you can do it. And of course the employer should accommodate the physical needs you will have. But it's a much harder question whether there should be laws that allow you to sue if you think your employer hasn't helped you enough. But of all the things we ought to do to make life easier for mothers, we should quit making them feel like they have to go through the pumping routine. It's hard to work and have an infant at home. It's going to be harder if you have to pump breastmilk throughout the day while you're trying to pay attention to your work -- regardless of how accommodating the employer is. Frankly, quite aside from the pumping task, I would not want to have to try to concentrate on work with my breasts acting up continually.

Now, before you pile on in the comments, let me restate my point. I think it's fine and admirable for women to pump breastmilk in the workplace, and employers should voluntarily accommodate them, but legislation may not be needed, we shouldn't put pressure on women to keep up breastfeeding when they go back to work, and women who decide they don't want to do it should feel perfectly justified in their decision.

August 31, 2006

How do you feel about a woman President?

I mean, really. Deep down inside. Don't lie.

UPDATE: A FOX News poll shows 51% of Americans think Hillary Clinton is prepared to be President. That's 75% of Democrats, 24% of Republicans, and 50% of independents. But who knows what that says about whether people think a woman can be President? I never feel that anyone is ready to be President. Every single time a new person is designated to become President, I've found it incomprehensible that that person could be President. This is a feeling I've had nine times.

Not quite fall semester.

What are you going to do on the last day in August, here in Madison, Wisconsin?

Get started on the reading out at the end of a pier, with Lake Mendota lapping up all around you and sailboats bobbing in the distance.

Campus, pre-semester

Work on that garden.

Allen Centennial Garden

Catch up on your sleep.

Campus, pre-semester

Choose a path.

Campus, pre-semester

Turn over a new leaf.

Allen Centennial Garden

Blossom.

Allen Centennial Garden

A restaurant question.

Ever go to a restaurant and know that something is wrong with the food -- for example, that it was cooked in rancid oil -- but you eat it anyway, as if you had a second brain controlling your actions that did not know what your real brain knew? And then afterwards, you wonder why in hell you do things like that?

ADDED: I should say, the restaurant in question was not the place I featured in a post yesterday. And if you're a Madison restauranteur wondering if I'm talking about you, don't check your credit card receipts. I was there today, but I paid cash.

Where are all the student war protests?

Andrew Rosenthal asks:
Student protesters helped drive Lyndon Johnson — in so many ways a powerful, progressive president — out of office because of his war. In 2004, George W. Bush — in so many ways a weak, regressive president — was re-elected despite his war. And the campuses were silent.

There was a brief burst of protest when America first invaded Iraq. But if there is a college movement against the war, it’s hiding pretty well. Vietnam never had the moral clarity that the 9/11 attacks provided to this generation’s war. But in Iraq that proved to be a false clarity, and a majority of Americans now say they oppose the war and no longer trust Mr. Bush’s leadership of it.
I've long wondered about this. I was a student on the University of Michigan campus from 1969 to 1973, and I've been here at the University of Wisconsin campus throughout the present era, so I have lots of strong first-hand perceptions. The atmosphere now is completely different. I walk through the main crossroads of campus -- the Library Mall -- nearly every day, and I see virtually no anti-war activity. I see some environmental efforts, as individuals with clipboards ask me if I "have a minute for the environment." (What kind of clod says "no"? You don't have one minute? No!)

By contrast, I saw 20,000 people gather in the Library Mall a few days after 9/11 for a memorial, and 800 people showed up this past weekend to demonstrate against an irrelevant bunch of fools who called themselves Nazis. But efforts to get an in-person anti-war demonstration going around here are amazingly unsuccessful. Here's a wan little display I photographed last November. If there were more things going on, I would photograph them, I assure you. I'm not seeing student speakers in the Mall trying to assemble an audience. Occasionally, some group tries to get something going with sidewalk chalkings and some music on the Mall, but students walk past, going about their own business. I am not seeing the outward expression anger and outrage among the students.

Rosenthal points to polls that indicate indicate that a majority of Americans oppose the war and don't trust Bush, but mere opposition doesn't necessarily translate into the kind of anger and outrage that we felt on campus in the Vietnam days. These polls may express a sad disappointment that things didn't turn out better or simply a statement of belief that we are not winning.

IN THE COMMENTS: As I expected -- it was in the Rosenthal piece too -- many say that the draft made the difference, but a set of multiple causes is developed in the comments.

It's interesting to see how many people think that today's would-be demonstrators are substituting internet activities. (That makes it so easy for people who want to ignore them to ignore them.)

I think a key point is that in the Vietnam era, young people romanticized the enemy and even imagined that its ideology might be an improvement on our bad old materialistic society. Communism seemed to fit with the Age of Aquarius. But Islamofascism is alien to American youth culture. I don't think many kids today are going around thinking: Would it really be so bad if the other side won?

Another good point is that a peace demonstration in the Vietnam era had big social and sexual benefits. It was fun and -- commenters keep saying -- a great place to meet women who had joined the sexual revolution. Going to a peace rally requires more anger and grim determination.

Hurricane John.

They're just getting around to the name "John" after all these years?

Trump fired Carolyn Kepcher!

Oh no!
"She became a prima donna," said one insider. "Being on 'The Apprentice' went to her head. She was no longer focused on business. She was giving speeches for $25,000 and doing endorsements."...

"George has been around a long time. He's seen everything. He didn't get excited even when women on the street started screaming when they saw him on his way to work," said one source. "But Carolyn took it very seriously. She thought she was a freaking movie star."...

"Trump told her what she had to do was take some time off and spend it with her family, and then get another job," said an insider. "They have a great relationship."
Well, really, why should Carolyn have to be bothered with running Trump National Golf Club? That was the job you know. And she may not be a freaking movie star, but she's a freaking TV star. On the other hand, how many tough blondes does Trump need on the show? He's got Ivanka, and much as we "Apprentice" fans love Carolyn, we also love Ivanka.

Meanwhile, Carolyn has her book, "Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from 'The Apprentice's' Straight Shooter," and her speaking tours, and plenty of money. It's just beneath her to be running a golf course. Though it is kind of embarrassing to get kicked off the show. I've got to think making room for Ivanka was part of it.

"This week, he's Satan. He's trying to scare away as many people as he can while also encouraging them. He's hard-core."

That would be UW Marching Band director Mike Leckrone at UW Marching Band boot camp (as described by a young tuba player):
It was day two of band boot camp - a four-day endurance test that will forever bond the 280 students who get picked for the UW Marching Band. It's a sweaty, stressful rite of passage, designed to cull the weak from the herd.

"Some people will walk off the field in the first 10 minutes," said Chris Hanson, 22, a senior tuba player. "The next day, only about 70 percent of the freshmen come back."...

Anyone with high school band experience can take part in the four-day tryout. Each freshman gets an audition with eckrone and endures five hours of marching drills and two hours of music rehearsals daily.

About half of the 160 freshmen will end up in the band.
Very nice. I've been listening to these guys practice -- and play in the stadium -- through the open windows of my house for more than 20 years.

The politics of campaign finance law.

Mark Green, the Republican candidate for governor has to somehow divest his campaign of $468,000:
The state Elections Board today ordered Mark Green to divest his campaign of any contributions from PACs that were not registered in Wisconsin when the donations were made....

The board, on a 5-2 vote, gave Green 10 days to comply with its order....

"The State Elections Board confirmed today what we knew all along – that it was wrong for Congressman Mark Green to violate state law and transfer his dirty $1.3 million to use in his bid for Governor," [Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe] Wineke said. "There is no doubt that Green’s transfer violates Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws – and the State Elections Board confirmed that once again today."

Since Green converted the funds, the Elections Board has passed a rule to prohibit future transfers from federal accounts to state funds.
Any campaign finance experts out there who can explain this? Did the Board get it right?

Here's Green's statement:
Today's decision is emblematic of the corruption that has invaded state government under Jim Doyle. Under Jim Doyle government decisions are made to benefit his campaign interests - while the taxpayers get the short end of the stick.

Jim Doyle's allies on the State Election Board defied their own attorney's legal advice, state law and basic principles of fairness in their effort to help the struggling campaign of Governor Doyle. The Election's Board action is literally trying to change 25 years of rules two months before Election Day - to affect only Mark Green....
Doyle's statement:
Congressman Green has been caught violating Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws. He should own up to it, and he should do exactly what the State Elections Board has instructed him to do – which is to get rid of this dirty money.

What this ruling shows is that Congressman Green will do just about anything to further his personal ambition, even violating the letter and the spirit of our campaign finance laws.
So now this becomes a campaign issue, with both sides spinning it, and what citizen understands campaign finance law enough to do anything but respond instinctively as each candidate tries to make the other guy look dirty?

IN THE COMMENTS: Icepick says, "Ugh. Why is it that everytime we get more 'Campaign Finance Reform', the more corrupt everyone involved looks?"

Making Pinocchio, Huckleberry Finn, and Heidi into Muslims

In Turkey, they're giving schoolkids a book full of Western stories touched up to make characters like Pinocchio, Huckleberry Finn, and Heidi into Muslims. (Via Memeorandum.) I don't think there's anything wrong with taking a traditional story from one culture and rewriting it putting the characters into a different culture. It can be confusing and bad art if you just slap on a few details and don't change the whole context, but there's a long tradition of passing around folk tales.

The bigger problem is bringing religion into government-run schools. Turkey "has been a strongly secular state since the 1920s." But before you get upset about depicting Heidi praying to Allah, you should consider whether you accept American public schools giving kids the Heidi story without expunging her praying. (I'm assuming Heidi prays in the original.) Should religion be censored from works of fiction used in public schools in the United States? If you think not, will you argue that the rule should be different in Turkey, because the state has a historical tradition and a real threat to ward off?

Complaining about the "diversity dogmatists."

Jeff Jacoby has a column in the Boston Globe railing about the way "diversity dogmatists" have imposed requirement on school textbooks to depict disabled children and children of different races and ethnic groups (and have also banned some stereotypical images like Asians in glasses and Mexicans in sombreros).
By reducing "diversity" to something as shallow and meaningless as appearance, they reinforce the most dehumanizing stereotypes of all -- those that treat people first and foremost as members of racial, ethnic, or social groups. Far from acknowledging the genuine complexity and variety of human life, the diversity dogmatists deny it. Is it any wonder that their methods so often lead to unhappy and unhealthy results?
I think Jacoby is overdoing it here. I don't know why textbooks need to have so many illustrations and photographs in them in the first place, but that's a different issue. If you are going to fill up the pages with pictures of kids instead of useful information and analysis, you might as well display diversity and of course you should avoid the stereotypes.

When I went to school, we were constantly looking at pictures of Dick, Jane, Sally, and Mother and Father, and they were all white and complete stereotypes of the blandest possible middle class American life. The diversity pictures of today are just a variation on the idea well-meaning adults have that they must feed inoffensive pablum to kids. I don't see how it's unhealthy in the way Jacoby is talking about though. We're talking about pictures. Of course, they're going to show what things look like on the surface.

There is another, more serious matter that Jacoby touches on, which is the manipulation of the text to favor "diversity" stories:
[W]hen reality conflicts with political correctness, reality gets the boot.

So, on occasion, does historical perspective, as for example when a McGraw-Hill US history text devoted a profile and photograph to Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman pilot -- but neglected even to mention Wilbur and Orville Wright. "A company spokesman," the Journal reports dryly, "said the brothers had been left out inadvertently."
I'm taking that phrase "on occasion" to mean Jacoby didn't encounter enough of this sort of thing to highlight in his column. (Note what he does highlight: the terribly unshocking news that the children photographed in wheelchairs are often models who aren't -- as Jacoby politically incorrectly puts it -- "confined to wheelchairs.") There's nothing wrong with finding some heroines and heroes to offer some special inspiration to some children. But you can't do it too much or it's just obvious propaganda that isn't even going to work. It's fine to get out the message to young kids that, for example, a black woman can be a pilot.

When I went to school there was nothing like that. In fact, I was never given a shred of information that women could do anything not traditionally female. I can tell you horror stories, like the way my trigonometry teacher advised me not to take calculus because it's "for engineers" -- without the slightest acknowledgement that I might consider becoming an engineer (and I was the best student in her class).

But a textbook shouldn't be stuffed with inspirational material. It should make the subject itself an inspiration. Showing me a woman pilot is one thing, but making aviation fascinating is much more effective (and educational). Seeing a lady in a lab coat smiling at a test tube might tip you off that a woman can be a scientist, but the textbook ought to engage students to read and understand the science itself. A kid ought to decide to become a scientist out of real interest in science, not because she has become enamored of the image of herself as a scientist.

If you want to talk about happiness -- few things can make you as happy as genuine, deep interest in your work. Quit luring us into the shallow, narcissistic existence where we only think about how we look doing something. Make us see what is so intrinsically compelling about the work .

August 30, 2006

"Project Runway."

The challenge -- designing a "jet set" outfit for yourself -- was rather unfair, since the men got stuck designing men's clothes, and the designers all specialize in women's clothes. And the challenge was also a little boring. The most interesting thing was the ongoing tension from last week's show, where Jeffrey had to design for Angela's mother, who was whiny and had a bad figure (and may have been trying to make Jeffrey lose). Jeffrey took to taunting Angela, trying to rattle her. In the end, Angela lost -- deservedly -- and said that she'd learned that you have to know who you are and not let anyone rattle you. I don't know if Jeffrey succeeded in rattling her, but the plane ride to Paris succeeded in wrinkling the knickers she'd sewn for herself, and making clothes that travel well was part of the challenge.

Maybe I'm the only one, but I find myself rooting for that little asshole Jeffrey. He made an outfit he kept telling us was rock and roll, and it did look pretty cool, even after the long plane ride.

Laura, we've learned, is pregnant, and she was wearing 4 inch heels on the runway. The designers were told they had one hour to pack and get to the airport, and they needed to fly in the outfits they had on. Later, we see her in Paris, still in those 4 inch heels. I really did not enjoy seeing them stress out and physically challenge a pregnant woman like that.

Vincent, who started off the season seeming too crazy to be on the show, ended up making the sanest thing. Acually, I thought he'd lose because it was so plain. But it went through the travel part of the challenge quite well.

Kayne... they must love Kayne... because his outfit was really tacky. They kept saying it was going to be too Liberace, but then in the end, they just said it was Elvis. So that was an accomplishment, right?

Reflections at Fresco.

Long shadows at 5 o'clock on Block 200. I'm looking down from high atop MMoCA:

At Fresco

The students are back in Madison, and nearly everyone on State Street is young and beautiful.

I'm up in the restaurant, Fresco, at one of the indoor tables, taking photos through the window reflections...

At Fresco

At Fresco

Reflecting:

At Fresco

Above the Law.

David Lat -- late of UnderneathTheir Robes, later of Wonkette -- is back, with a new blog project called Above the Law. And he thinks I'm a machine.

A throbbing artery gave Warren Jeffs away!

That and the salad eating.

"Warned not to 'bland down'" Katie Couric "to the level of Condoleezza Rice at a G8 summit."

Styling for serious sincerity without crossing the line into seriosity. It's quite the challenge. But why pick on Condi? She's fashion perfect!

On starting early.

You wake up and look at the clock and see it's really early. What's the earliest you're willing to interpret as time to get up as opposed to feeling that you really must get back to sleep? Maybe you factor in how long you've just slept. It seems to make sense to say if I've slept at least 5 hours, no time is too early. But, personally, I'd always drawn a line at 4 a.m. Today, though, I got up at 3. That seemed ridiculous, but I was utterly awake. It annoyed me at first, because I had one key project I needed to finish today, and I was afraid of hitting the wall. As it turned out, I was focusing really clearly on the project in those pre-dawn hours, made a breakthrough I couldn't even think of yesterday, and got the whole thing done by 7 a.m.

So that just goes to show... something... But what?

That found time is especially productive? That the pre-dawn hours have some magic? That a whole day can be cleared for some use other than the one you had planned if you only get up earlier? That ambiguities between day and night should be resolved in favor of day?

Or are you thinking how you hate morning people?

The accomplished task was finishing the syllabus for my Religion and the Constitution class, which begins next Tuesday. Yes, we do start late here. Labor Day weekend is big in Wisconsin, which, you may not know, regards itself as a resort state. But the students are already coming back for the pre-semester activities. Yesterday was the first day that the law school was full of students again, which really is a very nice feeling. Another thing that makes me feel great every fall is the UW Marching Band practicing off in the distance, which I can hear from my house. Not at the moment, however, of course. It's still early.

Small additional task done: culling the blogroll. I took some defunct blogs off the list. Some of these were among my very favorite blogs, but I don't want to send readers over to inactive blogs. Don't take it personally! Let me know if you gear up again.

August 29, 2006

"The Constitution can be interpreted in a way that, you know, protects civil liberties adequately but doesn't cripple our counterterrorist effort."

I'm listening to the interview with Judge Posner on the Glenn & Helen Show podcast. He's got a new book, "Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency." Advocating the "flexible" interpretation of the Constitution, he says (in the interview):
I think if judges were more knowledgeable about the terrorist threat, they would see how the Constitution can be interpreted in a way that, you know, protects civil liberties adequately but doesn't cripple our counterterrorist effort.
Of course, there's a lot of flexibility in putting it that way, using "adequately" and "cripple."

The key problem for Judge Posner is the " imbalance" in what our "generalist" judges know:
The judges think they know lot about civil liberties, and they don't know anything about terrorism, so when they're confronted with a civil liberties issue involving terrorism, they're much more likely to give weight to the civil liberties concerns, because that's what they know about than the terrorist concerns, which they don't know about.
Some judges, he notes, will deal with their lack of knowledge by deferring to what the government wants to do, but most don't.

There's lots more in the interview. Go listen.

IN THE COMMENTS: JohnF writes (aptly!):
The podcast Ann links to is absolutely terrific. It's pretty much all Posner. I think summarizing it cannot do it justice, but here are some of the points he makes, in addition to the ones Ann quotes:

1. There are two prevalent metaphors for dealing with the terror threat -- all out war (the WWII metaphor) or police action (the crime metaphor). However, unlike WWII, we can't always tell who the enemy is; and our criminal justice system is designed not to prevent all crime, but to control it to acceptable levels. We need an approach gauged to prevention.

2. The worst thing that could happen to civil liberties is another attack. Many civil libertarians lose sight of this.

3. Many civil libertarians are in denial. They must diminish the severity of the threat in order to be convincing that the government needn't be as active as it is trying to be.

4. People never had the degree of privacy they have now (he gives telegraphs and party telephone lines as examples). Moreover, people today give up their privacy routinely and often in trivial circumstances. Whenever you order from Amazon, you are aware a database is being tweaked about you; all your emails from your employer are totally open to his inspection, etc. A small reduction now is not a big price to pay.

5. His suggestion: (a) liberal government surveillance for national security, (b) no use of anything discovered during the surveillance for any purpose (i.e. prosecution) beyond national security, and (c) careful records kept of the surveillance that would be reviewed by some one, e.g., some Congressional committee, to insure the surveillance was being done for national security purposes. He recognizes that there could be abuses, but believes they would be minor.

In all, it was a fascinating talk, with very engaging discussions of some foreign approaches to security, some English history, and a brief discussion of current events in terrorism, from Heathrow to Judge Taylor.

Free and legal music downloads.

Isn't this where we will have to end up? The solution is to make the money through advertising, the same solution that we've already arrived at to support giving text away for nothing.
In spite of iTunes' popularity, a report released last month by the International Federation of Phonographic Industries revealed that there are still roughly 40 illegal downloads for every legal one as consumers continue to flock to peer-to-peer networks.

"Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling," said Robin Kent, who is SpiralFrog's chief executive and the former head of the Universal McCann advertising agency. "SpiralFrog will offer those consumers a better experience and environment than they can get from any pirate site."

Customers will be able to download an unlimited number of Universal songs to their computer and one other device. They will not be able to transfer those songs onto a compact disc, and they must visit the site at least once a month to maintain access to their music

“They teach poor women how to humble themselves in front of their husbands... but they’re teaching upper-class women how to influence politics."

The NYT has a front-page article about women's prayer groups in Syria.
The girls at the madrasa say that by plunging more deeply into their faith, they learn to understand their rights within Islam....

“People mistake tradition for religion,” [16-year-old tutor Enas al-Kaldi] said. “Men are always saying, ‘Women can’t do that because of religion,’ when in fact it is only tradition. It’s important for us to study so that we will know the difference.”

Poison and fiction.

Michiko Kakutani reviews Jonathan Franzen's new memoir -- "The Discomfort Zone" -- and seems rather horrified to gaze upon the character that is the novelist. Me, I'm extremely fascinated, especially by what most upsets Kakutani, his "doomed marriage":
[H]e describes the judgmental outlook that he and his wife shared for many years: “Deploring other people — their lack of perfection — had always been our sport.”

... Mr. Franzen writes that he and his wife “lived on our own little planet,” spending “superhuman amounts of time by ourselves.” He fills his journals with transcripts of fights they’ve had, and writes that they both “reacted to minor fights at breakfast by lying facedown on the floor of our respective rooms for hours at a time, waiting for acknowledgment of our pain.” “I wrote poisonous jeremiads to family members who I felt had slighted my wife,” he adds, while “she presented me with handwritten fifteen-and twenty page analyses of our condition; I was putting away a bottle of Maalox every week.”
Kakutani can't figure out why anyone would want to consume what the author himself acknowledges to be poison. Maybe you prefer the nature of the novelist to be processed into a work of fiction. You prefer poison cooked up into something more delectable, like "The Corrections." I prefer to see that the poison is poison.

The crime of bad housekeeping.

The conviction of Judith Scruggs -- whose son killed himself -- was overturned yesterday. The charge was putting her child at risk by creating an unhealthy and unsafe home, and the evidence was entirely about her housekeeping:
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that prosecutors could not point to “objective standards for determining the point at which housekeeping becomes so poor that an ordinary person should know that it poses an unacceptable risk to the mental health of a child.”
This case is confusing to us, I think, because the boy suffered so much from bullying at school and because we may feel that it is too cruel to go after her when she has already been punished by the loss of her child.

But isn't bad housekeeping a crime at some point when you are taking care of children?

The conservative case against Giuliani.

John Hawkins, worried about the progress Rudy Giuliani is making toward the presidency, spells out the reasons a conservative should oppose him. I expect this to be a list of reasons why I should prefer him. Let's me check it out.

Trying to scare me with this picture?



Sorry! It doesn't work. Rudy's "soft on gay marriage"? Amongst conservatives, that means he's not sufficiently against it. I know plenty of people who might use that expression to mean he's not sufficently in favor of it. I like a candidate in the middle on this issue.

What's the rest of Hawkins's case against Giuliani? He's "strongly pro-abortion." Now, now, nobody's "pro-abortion." It really is a matter of believing the government should stay out of the individual's life when it comes to the decision whether to go through a pregnancy. "Pro-choice" may be a euphemism, but it expresses something important. A non-euphemistic way to put it: pro abortion rights.

Hawkins faults Giuliani for accepting some gun control and for taking a moderate position on immigration. These aren't my issues. I see other people getting fired up or manipulated over them. I just want sensible people to make sophisticated policy decisions.

Hawkins raises the question of the nasty divorce, and I agree that looks bad. It would be better to have someone who's squeaky clean, but I don't think it should be disqualifying, because you will exclude too many of the vigorous, virile men if you get too prissy here.

Finally, Hawkins argues the electability point:
[A]s a candidate, he offers almost nothing to social conservatives, without whom a victory for George Bush in 2004 wouldn't have been possible. If the choice in 2008 comes down to a Democrat and a pro-abortion, soft on gay marriage, left-of-center candidate on social issues -- like Rudy -- you can be sure that millions of "moral values voters" will simply stay home and cost the GOP the election.

The other issue is in the South. George Bush swept every Southern state in 2000 and 2004, which is quite an impressive feat when you consider that the Democrats had Southerner Al Gore at the top of the ticket in 2000 and John Edwards as the veep in 2004. Unfortunately, a pro-abortion, soft on gay marriage, pro-gun control RINO from New York City just isn't going to be able to repeat that performance. Even against a carpetbagger like Hillary Clinton, it's entirely likely that you'll see at least 2 or 3 states in the South turn from red to blue if Rudy Giuliani is the nominee.

Also, the reason why George Bush's approval numbers have been mired in the high thirties/low forties of late is because he has lost a significant amount of Republican support, primarily because his domestic policies aren't considered conservative enough. Since that's the case, running a candidate who is several steps to Bush's left on domestic policy certainly doesn't seem like a great way to unite the base again.
This makes sense, undeniably. But what about the potential to appeal to people like me who are in the middle? What I like about Giuliani is his ability to embody the strong national security position and to argue for it in clear, persuasive terms, without bringing along that social conservative baggage. All those people who vote for Democrats, are they doing it because they are into the party and all it seems to stand for? Or are they put off by the social conservatives on the other side? The social conservatives like Hawkins want Republicans to be afraid to find out.

IN THE COMMENTS: Paul A'Barge writes:
I'm not in the middle. I'm so far to the right, I have a neck ache from trying to see what the DIMocRATs are up to. And, I'd vote for Rudy in a nanosecond.

Rudy has heart and he has a pair.

As a country, we can figure out the abortion, gay, and immigration thing. But, we can't survive without someone who gives at least enough of a fig to be willing to slaughter our enemies.

Rudy turned down that money from that Saudi monster. To me, he beats even GWB on security.

Bring it on, Rudy. I'm there for you!
That's important. I voted for Bush because of national security even though he didn't satisfy me on the social issues. I'm glad to see it works the other way around.

August 28, 2006

"Barbie is a very proper lady and she is not happy about being portrayed as something that she isn't."

"We are going to sue and we hope that this teaches people a lesson. Also, Barbie is 46 years old, she should be respected!" So said a spokesperson for Mattel, explaining why it's threatening to sue the Brazilian artist Karin Schwarz for her exhibit of photos depicting Barbie as a lesbian.

Isn't the whole point of a doll that you impose your imagination on it and play out the fantasies that are in your mind? It's inherent in the nature of dolls. How can Mattel now claim that Barbie somehow comes with restrictions? Or are they saying, do what you want in private, but don't display photographs recording how you chose to play with your dolls?

Go to Flickr and search for the tag "Barbie doll." Are you going to sue all these photographers? I'd link to some that I find especially delightful, but I'm afraid it might upset the photographer, so you'll have to explore over there on your own.

IN THE COMMENTS: Readers recommend other artistic works that use Barbie. And Michael Farris says:
This is fairly insane. Barbie and her friends have been used in sex role playing games by kids since they were invented.

What other earthly purpose does Barbie serve if not to fuel kids (half-baked and usually horribly, horribly wrong) ideas about sex?
Elizabeth says: "My childhood Barbies were oh so lesbian."

A man in shorts.

Reading Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons," I was amused to run across this description of a man wearing shorts. (At page 99.)
All that elegance was what made the personage of Dr. Lewin seem so curious. Last week, when the class first met, he had worn a plaid cotton shirt and pants -- nothing remarkable about that. The shirt had had long sleeves, and the pants had been long pants. But this morning he had on a short-sleeved shirt that showed too much of his skinny, hairy arms, and denim shorts that showed too much of this gnarly, hairy legs. He looked for all the world like a seven-year-old who at the touch of a wand had become old, tall, bald on top, and hairy everywhere else, an ossified seven-year-old, a pair of eyeglasses with lenses thick as ice pushed up to the summit of his forehead -- unaccountably addressing thirty college students, at Dupont, no less.

"I have no idea why they like bikes so much. Perhaps the structure reminds them of a tree with thin branches? I don't know."

Larverna! The caterpillars! In Sweden. Scroll through the pictures. Very dramatic and disturbing... but artistic.

We've just spent two weeks watching a kook who figured out a new way to be famous.

The DNA doesn't match in the Jon Benet Ramsey case.

UPDATE: Charges dropped. Why didn't they test the DNA before they went public with the story?

"It was sort of surreal... I've had to pinch myself to say, 'Yeah, you're really here. You're on the Supreme Court. This is really happening.'"

Says Samuel Alito in this long interview. (Via Howard Bashman.)

About the confirmation process:
Self-doubt, he said, was a constant companion. Asked if he ever questioned himself and his pursuit of the high court seat during that period, he replied: "Like every day."
He compares his work on the Supreme Court to his earlier work as a circuit judge:
The intellectual work before the high court is "innovative," he said. There are nine jurists, which makes it harder to build consensus than with the three-judge panels he is accustomed to. On the circuit court, arguments are often made about multiple legal issues and how the law is applied to the circumstances of the case. The high court spends more of its energy on big ideas. All of the cases involve tough legal questions.

"The difference is that in court of appeals the typical case would involve usually a number of issues, maybe three, four, five or 10 issues," he said. "When a case comes to us on the Supreme Court and we take it, we take it to resolve usually one legal issue -- sometimes there are two. But most of them involve a single legal issue so everything is focused on that."
His living arrangements:
From the time of his nomination until the court's summer recess, Alito stayed mostly in Washington, D.C. His family stayed mostly in New Jersey. On weekends he would often drive north to their West Caldwell home, which they plan to keep for now.

With his family in New Jersey, Alito devoted himself to the court.

"I ended up working until 11 o'clock, midnight most nights. I had a little apartment just a couple blocks from the court so I would go home and come back. I really had nothing else to do," he said.
Don't you like to think of the Justices adopting a monk-style life? Or does that worry you?
Writing opinions, he said, demanded a new level of concentration.

"You really are the final step, and what you write will be interpreted and interpreted. And so you have to make a special effort to be very precise," Alito said.
Mmmm... yes. Reminds me of some of those things we were talking about here last week. You really do have to do that hard work of fitting all the texts and cases together. You've got to prove it to us, in writing, that you've gone through the process that makes the power you've wielded not abusive.
While he finds the work enjoyable, and in some ways almost like being a professor....
Which is the ultimate in pleasure... at least for legal nerds.
The first weeks were hard, he says -- especially since he kept getting lost.

"The Supreme Court building is one of the most confusing buildings I have ever been in. ... I didn't know where anything was, how to get in or how to get out," he said.

And just asking a question has proved to be its own adventure. To question lawyers during arguments, the justices must flick a switch to activate their microphone.

"You have to be very quick on the draw," said Alito. "I like to let a lawyer at least finish a sentence. So I'm waiting for a period to ask a question, but if you do that, there's more of a chance that everybody else is going to come in."
About that ideological divide:
The justice said in his day-to-day work at the court, he gives little thought to the ideological divide among the justices. It is only to be expected, he said, that the court will have disagreements, since the cases it decides are the most controversial in the land.
"I just work on each case, and that's basically it. Obviously, there are certain cases where you see a division ... but very often that is not the case," he said.

"You get used to the fact that you're not always going to agree on things and sometimes it's frustrating -- particularly if it is something where you feel you're right and you can't understand why anyone would disagree with you," he said. "I don't think it's personal. We just don't always see things the same way."

With all of the public focus on the ideology of the court, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that attention focuses on only a few of the cases the justices decide, he said.

"We decide maybe 80, 90 cases a term, and the public focuses generally at the end of the term on maybe 10 cases. The others generally don't have that sort of division," Alito said.
Scalia made fun of his robe!
He's been wearing the same old robe since he joined the circuit court. On one of his first days, Justice Antonin Scalia joked with him about a purple swatch on the back. Defending her new colleague, Ginsburg piped up that Alito could wear whatever he wanted.
I love the high school vibe to that. I'm picturing Ginsburg played by Gilda Radner, Steve Martin as Scalia, and Bill Murray as Alito, in one of those high school nerd sketches from the old days of "Saturday Night Live."

There are also a couple of interesting quotes from his wife, Martha-Ann Alito. How she's felt since the swearing-in: "It was all very, not dream-like, it just seemed the right thing was happening to me." And, about the attacks on her husband during the confirmation hearings: "The way the world is these days, Sam is by far not even close to being an imminent threat to civil liberties." An interesting locution, don't you think? It's actually not very consoling!

You like to think it's perfectly possible to live to be 120.

Don't you? But the oldest person in the world just died, and she was only 116. The new oldest person is also 116, and you've got to go all the way down to 114 to get to the oldest man. How many people do you think there still are who came from the 19th century? Not too many! But you're saying, surely, there will be many medical advances, so that by the time I get up there, reaching 120 will be quite common, probably even 130 or 140. Admit it! That's what you were thinking!

"What if 8/27 had happened?"

Niall Ferguson asks how the response to "8/27" -- the liquid bomb plot -- would have differed from the response to 9/11:
From an American vantage point, a successful terrorist plot launched from Heathrow would have been doubly Britain's fault. Its proximate cause would have been a lapse in British security. Its root cause would have been the infiltration of British society by radical Islamism.

As details emerged about the perpetrators, Americans' worst suspicions about Britain would have been confirmed. It has been clear for a while that Britain's Muslim communities are proving fertile recruiting grounds for Islamist extremists, and that it is the disaffected sons and grandsons of Pakistani immigrants who are most susceptible.

Perhaps even more troubling, it has been evident since the arrest of attempted shoe-bomber Richard Reid that ordinary British dropouts can also be lured, via religious conversion, into the terrorist network.

"I'm really disappointed that the clock doesn't read '9:11.'"

Oooohh... that illustration.... we're still cringing over here....

"The intimacy only belongs to me."

Natascha Kampusch will not reveal the whole story of her 8 years of captivity:
[Wolfgang] Priklopil "was not my lord, although he wanted to be - I was just as strong", she [said]....

"To give you a metaphor - he carried me in his arms but also trampled me underfoot."

[S]he said she did not feel that Priklopil had robbed her of her childhood....

She is reported to have wept inconsolably when she was told the man she had to call "master" was dead.
Perhaps it is prurient of us even to want to know the details, once we know this much.

"The trouble with Elvis was that he had very little to say; he was mainly concerned about sounding polite."

So you wouldn't want to read a big book of Elvis interviews, quips Louis Menand, who's saying a big book of Dylan interviews isn't much better:
Dylan is rarely concerned about sounding polite, and he says things, but he sometimes makes them up. He also contradicts himself, answers questions with questions, rambles, gets hostile, goes laconic, and generally bewilders. What makes it truly frustrating is that, somewhere in the stream of inconsequence and obstreperousness, there are usually a few nuggets of gold. The nuggets make interviewers think that the other stuff must be a put-on, that Dylan could speak with the tongue of angels all the time if he wanted to, and this makes them press harder, hoping that the next question will break through the misdirection and resistance, and the man in front of them will turn into “Bob Dylan.” Since there is nothing Dylan likes less than being mistaken for “Bob Dylan” — “If I wasn’t Bob Dylan, I’d probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers,” he once said — this is not a productive interview dynamic.
(Yeah, 2 of 3 posts so far this morning are about Bob Dylan. I can't help what washes up with the tide any given morning.)

Making Saddam watch the "South Park" movie.

Yahoo News reports that Matt Stone -- one of the two "South Park" creators -- says that marines guarding Saddam Hussein have forced him to watch their movie "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut," which depicts Saddam in hell having a sexual relationship with Satan.

Stone might just be joking, but let's assume he's not. Shouldn't we be treating prisoners with more respect? Stone is obviously pleased about it. GOP Vixen seems to think it's just fine.

Let me add that I love the movie. And I've always assumed the Saddam watched the movie himself on his own in the days before we invaded.

But showing it to him now is just an attempt to annoy and humiliate him. We should be above that.

IN THE COMMENTS: "Are you seriously joking Ms. Althouse?" I'd rename my blog that if I could start all over again.

Dylan videos.

Google video has just added some great Bob Dylan videos, including outtakes from D.A. Pennbaker's "Don't Look Back," a 1969 duet with Johnny Cash, and a rousing 1975 concert video of "Isis." Very impressive!

ADDED: There's also some of that 2004 "60 Minutes" interview, which I blogged about at the time, here.

August 27, 2006

TiVo-blogging the Emmys.

The Emmy show gets off to a spectacularly bad beginning with a prerecorded comedy sketch. We see Conan O'Brien on a plane, asked by a flight attendant if he's nervous, and he says, "What could possibly go wrong?" There's an explosion that rocks the plane, and then there's a cut to a beach, with Conan crawling out of the surf and the plane, in the background, sinking into the ocean. The folks on the laugh track are yukking it up. That would have been pushing it, considering the recent foiled terrorist plot, but with a plane crash in the news today -- 49 people were killed -- it's just atrocious. Don't they have the sense to pull it? The message is, we've got this preprogrammed, and there's nobody here with a brain.

Well, they worked so hard on it. It's a play on "Lost," and Conan finds a hatch. Descending, he's in the set of "The Office." This leads into a "24" sequence. Am I forgiving them? No! He encounters "House," then he enters the "South Park" trapped-in-a-closet closet. And then on to a "Dateline" exposé about child predators.

Man, they put a lot of effort into this. They should have thought of the air crash problem when they planned it.

Okay, Althouse. Settle down. Your censoriousness will only drive readers away.

Conan paces back and forth on the stage, spitting out his monologue jokes, interspersed with shots of the audience, seemingly enjoying it. There's lots of actress flesh on view, and it jiggles as they applaud the jokes. Whatever happened to anorexia? Everyone looks plump tonight. Are the jokes any good? He hands out rules for acceptance speeches. Sample: "Anyone who makes a heavy-handed political comment tonight will be forced to make out with Al Gore in a Prius."

He does a parody of "Trouble" (from "The Music Man"). It's about how bad NBC ratings are. Why should we care? Get to the awards! It's like they're desperate to prove to us that they're putting on a show. And it's a show on NBC. And if this is your idea of a show, well, maybe you deserve your bad ratings. Go cry about it in private somewhere.

One of the first presenters is Ellen Pompeo, wearing a long dark blue dress that she's clutching together with her hand at the right buttock. Is she just holding it up so she won't trip? No, she's at the mike, and she's still keeping her grip! Must be a wardrobe malfunction. The award is Best Supporting Actress. Megan Mullally wins. Doesn't she always win? She's in dark blue too. Sort of a bathrobe-like thing. She incites us to be all emotional about the end of "Will and Grace." Sorry. I don't care.

In the next presenter set, we've got Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and she's wearing a white dress that has a sparkly black "H" superimposed around the breasts. The award is Best Supporting Actor. The clip of William Shatner makes me laugh out loud so I switch my loyalty t0 him from Michael Imperioli. Alan Alda wins, and he's the only one not there. That's so wrong.

Dragging things out, Conan has a comedy bit about how the show won't go over three hours. They've got Bob Newhart sealed in a tube with only three hours of air. He's about 80 years old, so threatening to kill him is a little disturbing. But it's nice to see Bob again, albeit entubed.

Martin and Charlie Sheen. They awkwardly read the cue cards. Best Supporting Actress again? Oh, now it's in a drama. Sorry, those previous awards were limited to comedies. Emmys, I see, follow the Golden Globe, not the Oscars, approach. Blythe Danner wins. She's all actressily effusive, like it's not memorized. And her dress is yards of teal-colored fabric that looks like it was draped together in a 1-day challenge by the losing contestant on "Project Runway."

Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Oh, I see the previous supporting actor award was for the drama actor. They are not doing this in an orderly way. I will catch on. As you can see, I'm not a regular Emmy viewer. The winner is Jeremy Piven.

Oh, Heidi Klum is giving an award. Variety, Music or Comedy Series. "The Daily Show" beats "The Colbert Report" (and Conan O'Brien).

Ooh, Simon Cowell, with the neck of his shirt all open revealing his furry chest. It's a tribute to Dick Clark and "Bandstand." You know, I watched that show, even as far back as the 1950s. I remember seeing "Little" Stevie Wonder on the show doing "Fingertips" on his 13th birthday. I remember when the kids who danced on the show were celebrities, written about in the teen magazines. It was once necessary when talking about Dick Clark to make a joke about how he looked forever young. But that's not the way it is anymore. He looks very old. He can't walk out, and, recovering from a stroke, he can't speak clearly, and his voice is very deep. He introduces Barry Manilow who comes out dancing -- and he has hip problems -- and demonstrates that the "Bandstand" theme song has lyrics.

Variety or Musical Performance is the next award. Manilow is one of the nominees. And he wins! Beating Stephen Colbert and David Letterman.

Guest Actor? Oh, come on. Too many categories. But they speed through this, and I'm glad to see Patricia Clarkson won for "Six Feet Under." I'm skipping some of these awards. I'd be crazy not to.

Conan does a routine on TiVo fastforwarding using TiVo fastforwarding, which I discover while fastforwarding on TiVo. So it's double fastforwarded. That was freaky.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Tony Shaloub. Doesn't he always win? I don't watch his show, so I was rooting for Steve Carell or Larry David, whose shows I do watch.

Candice Bergen is stuffed into a white shirt and teal-colored skirt and held together with a big bulky leather and metal belt. She says something about TV not being a vast wasteland, and it just draws more attention to her vast waist land. She's introducing a tribute to Aaron Spelling. He was, apparently, a veritable god.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert present the Reality show award, and Colbert throws a tantrum about losing to Barry Manilow. "Singing and dancing is not performing!" "The Amazing Race" wins. I've watched that a couple times. Don't enjoy it. Travel travails. Ugh! I wanted "Project Runway" to win. Did you notice they spotlighted Andrae in the little clip. What happened to Andrae?

In Memoriam: Shelley Winters. Don Knotts. Richard Pryor.

I love the look on Annette Bening's face when Helen Mirren beats her for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. [ADDED: It's the look of no reaction at all, except that in that frozen expanse, there is an expression.] And I love the way Mirren says, "My great triumph is not falling ass over tit as I came up those stairs." It's all British, so it's not rude, right? Ahhss.

Lead Actress in a Drama. Ah, here's a big category. Mariska Hargitay wins. Another show I don't watch.... so I have no opinion.

Actress in a Comedy. Okay. This is actually the only thing I care about. I want Lisa Kudrow to win for "The Comeback." Not that I think she will. Julia Louis-Dreyfus wins. She's all weepy, like she can barely get through it.

Actor in a Drama. Kiefer Sutherland. He's the opposite of Julia. He's all calm and mature. Dignified.

Bob Newhart is released from his tube to do the award for Best Comedy Series. He's bizarrely short standing next to Conan O'Brien. "The Office" wins. That makes sense.

Annette Bening does the Drama Series award. I only watch "The Sopranos," but I don't think it should win. It wasn't that good this year. "24" wins.

And that's it for a night at the Emmys!

Aw, the cute puppy.

Brown dog

Brown dog

Just an old, old stuffed animal that resides chez Althouse.

Defending against the Nazis in Madison.

What would you do if some neo-Nazis were demonstrating in your city? Go shopping and hope that they'd play to an empty house? That's what I did, but 800 of my fellow citizens made the scene. Number of Nazis: 64. Number of police: 300. They were ready for action:



That's from Uncle Jimbo, who has more video and commentary here.

The buzzword of the year -- I've never seen it before.

Wikiality.

There's a co-buzzword -- "truthiness" -- which I do know, but I don't like the phenomenon of co-buzzwords. If you're going to have a Buzzword of the Year, pick a damned buzzword! Don't hedge. We want a winner, not a tie.

He's reached his goal (and become the devil?).

So Anthony Rickey signs off. Scroll down for advice to law student bloggers and some links to new 1L blogs.

Are you an incoming 1L? Are you going to blog? Are you or have you been a law student blogger? Do you read law student blogs? What do you think of the whole project of law student blogging? Is there always new material, or has the law student story been told?

Sorry for all the questions to law students, but that is my job, you know.

Beneficence, Oprah-style.

Oprah Winfrey builds a $40 million school for poor girls in South Africa, then goes there and interviews the applicants, and to let them know if they got in, sets up a classically Oprah-esque scene of mass emotion. Don't miss the video.

The Plame leak "came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone."

Writes Michael Isikoff in Newsweek, revealing that the source was Richard Armitage.
...Armitage was a member of the administration's small moderate wing. Along with his boss and good friend, [Secretary of State Colin] Powell, he had deep misgivings about President George W. Bush's march to war. A barrel-chested Vietnam vet who had volunteered for combat, Armitage at times expressed disdain for Dick Cheney and other administration war hawks who had never served in the military. Armitage routinely returned from White House meetings shaking his head at the armchair warriors. "One day," says Powell's former chief of staff Larry Wilkerson, "we were walking into his office and Rich turned to me and said, 'Larry, these guys never heard a bullet go by their ears in anger ... None of them ever served. They're a bunch of jerks'."

But officials at the White House also told reporters about Wilson's wife in an effort to discredit Wilson for his public attacks on Bush's handling of Iraq intelligence. Karl Rove confirmed to Novak that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, and days later offered the same information to Time reporter Matt Cooper. The inquiry into the case led to the indictment of Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Armitage himself was aggressively investigated by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, but was never charged. Fitzgerald found no evidence that Armitage knew of Plame's covert CIA status when he talked to Novak and Woodward.
It will be interesting to see how the bloggers who were hot for blood over Plamegate will respond to this news. You can watch for who links to the Newsweek story at Memeorandum, here. TalkLeft tries to keep hope alive:
I suspect Cheney is still in his cross-hairs. And Ari Fleischer is a key witness against Libby. Somehow, I suspect Ari Fleishcher has given more to Fitzgerald than we know.
Liberal Values finds the silver lining: "Maybe this will put an end to all those conservative blogs which are spreading preposterous claims that it was Joe Wilson himself who revealed his wife’s identity." Yeah, put an end to all those conservative blogs.

Can you never back off and say that your side overdid it? It would improve your credibility you know.

"There were times when I thought I was dead. And now, I'm not."

Says Fox correspondent Steve Centanni, just released from captivity along with cameraman Olaf Wiig. In a telephone interview, he tells of his ordeal in detail, including being "forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint." [ADDED: Go here for the interview if you have low-speed access.]