June 16, 2007

Found bird image.

Melted ice cream...

Medium: ice cream.

Speaking of life-affirming ants...

Let's reprise recent ant photos.

Peony with ant

And with this next one, remember to think from the ants' perspective:

Bird head with ants

When you're served a big, juicy steak, you don't bemoan the steer, now, do you?

But if my ants don't feel life-affirming to you, these will.

From: The internet is killing our culture... to: The people look like ants.

Here's a fascinating NPR interview with Andrew Keen, who wrote "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture." Needless to say, he's negative about blogging and the like, but I love his attitude. When the NPR guy questions his theory and says that "cultural gatekeepers" are "often protecting entrenched interests who happen to be rich and powerful," he sneers: "That is a neo-Marxist argument."

But isn't it good the way the internet has enabled musicians to leap over the music business and get their work out to the public? Keen is negative. The people who are good at marketing will win, not the best artists. But he seems to think well of the the Arctic Monkeys.

Later, poking around on the bad old internet, I see this:
[Prefixmag]: So you guys didn't even know how to [put] your music on the Internet?
Arctic Monkeys: No, no.

PM: Are you guys Internet users?
Arctic Monkeys: Only to e-mail or whatever; iTunes, stuff like that. But none of us really knew how to. It was a guy at college who made the Web site. We had tried putting music on the site, but it didn't work properly. People couldn't listen to it properly.

PM: I notice you have a pretty popular site on Myspace.
Arctic Monkeys: We don't know about that, either.

PM: So that's not you guys?
Arctic Monkeys: No, no. The other day someone said to us, "I looked at your profile on Myspace." I said, "I don't even know what Myspace is." [When we went number one in England] we were on the news and radio about how Myspace has helped us. But that's just the perfect example of someone who doesn't know what the f*ck they're talking about. We actually had no idea what [Myspace] was.
What would Keen think of that? The musicians were good enough to inspire fans who were web-savvy enough to market them. It doesn't seem as though a whole lot of business genius is involved. But the group's name stuck in my head, and I happened to see a video of theirs when I was idly clicking around on YouTube today, and got to this video of "Leave Before the Lights Come On," which I liked enough to link to in an IM with John.

John responds:
mm, i'd like to hear more from them since they're playing a style of music I've been listening to a lot, but I'm not really a fan of that song. I think it's pretty generic....

the gimmick of starting a video out with someone on the ledge of a building contemplating suicide has been done.
He sends me this link to a video by Collective Soul, "The World I Know."
me: this is a much more professional video

john: yeah

me: I like the way the bird makes him think maybe life is worth living, then the ants seem especially cool, and then "the people look like ants" either means that seeing a cliché made real is so amusing that he wants to live or he actually suddenly appreciates humanity because he started off liking ants and then it was like oh, okay, since i know I like ants, maybe if people are like ants I want to live.

john: ha

john: you should blog that...
John was thus doing some gatekeeping, of the go on, go ahead variety that I'm sure would make the snobby old Mr. Keen cringe. What? We're publishing 9 p.m. IMs now? Yes, we are, old man.... like a million little ants.

ADDED: I see that Glenn Reynolds trashed Keen's book here:
The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture... is basically an extended paean to the lost Golden Age of middlebrow taste-makers and big-media megaphones, and an extended jeremiad against an age in which people are free to make up their own minds, and make their own contributions. Keen is even sad about the declining influence of small-scale taste-makers: He decries the absence of the "deeply knowledgeable Tower clerk" in the world of online record sales, and he seems to think that the musical snobs in the book (and film) High Fidelity were supposed to be appealing characters.

Ha ha.

Triumph at the Tonys.

(Really, really hilarious.)



(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

ADDED: "Tonies" changed to "Tonys." Right?

Saturday....

In the park....

DSC03431.JPG

"He said he still believed that 'something happened' in the bathroom..."

The too-little-too-late resignation of Michael B. Nifong, the Durham County district attorney, announced Friday who brought sexual assault charges against three Duke University lacrosse players.
“It has become increasingly apparent, during the course of this week, in some ways that it might not have been before, that my presence as the district attorney in Durham is not furthering the cause of justice,” Mr. Nifong said.
Sounds like he's blaming others for making his work difficult.

UPDATE: Nifong found guilty of ethics violations.

"Mindfulness" training for school kids.

Drawn from Buddhism, but secularized:
As summer looms, students at dozens of schools across the country are trying hard to be in the present moment. This is what is known as mindfulness training, in which stress-reducing techniques drawn from Buddhist meditation are wedged between reading and spelling tests....

During a five-week pilot program at Piedmont Avenue Elementary, Miss Megan, the “mindful” coach, visited every classroom twice a week, leading 15 minute sessions on how to have “gentle breaths and still bodies.” The sound of the Tibetan bowl reverberated at the start and finish of each lesson....

The experiment at Piedmont, whose student body is roughly 65 percent black, 18 percent Latino and includes a large number of immigrants, is financed by Park Day School, a nearby private school (prompting one teacher to grumble that it was “Cloud Nine-groovy-hippie-liberals bringing ‘enlightenment’ to inner city schools”)....

Asked their reactions to the sounds of the singing bowl, Yvette Solito, a third grader, wrote that it made her feel “calm, like something on Oprah.” Her classmate Corey Jackson wrote that “it feels like when a bird cracks open its shell.”

Dr. Amy Saltzman, a physician in Palo Alto, Calif., who started the Association for Mindfulness in Education three years ago, thinks of mindfulness education as “talk yoga.” Practitioners tend to use sticky-mat buzzwords like “being present” and “cultivating compassion,” while avoiding anything spiritual.
Is this too much religion in school for you? Do you object for some other reason? Or do you think this is just fine? Would your view change if these techniques helped reduce the perceived need for Ritalin?

As long as I'm going over a few things people have been saying about me...

Let me note that Patterico didn't like what I said about the AutoAdmit case, but then he worried that he was too harsh, so he wrote a post saying he liked what I said in that post about Glenn Greenwald... except the part that he didn't like (where I -- horrors! -- showed a little appreciation for Chris Matthews).

On the AutoAdmit case, he says:
[I]t is indeed quite a spectacle to watch law professors with established reputations and prominent spots on the Internet — both of which they can use to counter any unjust criticism of themselves — labeling as oversensitive fledgling lawyers with no established reputation and no platform for responding to scurrilous allegations.
I agree that law students are in a very different position, and I understand the great anxiety these things cause. I am continually aware of the benefits I enjoy because I have tenure and a high-traffic blog. These two things do also attract special attacks and make people feel especially free to say whatever they like about me. But I am not losing sight of the fact that the law students are in another position. I have a lot of empathy for law students -- much more than for law professors! I've devoted decades to working with law students, and to say I don't care about what happens to them is to attack my "established reputation." That matters to me. But, of course, obviously, I'm in a different position and I always keep that in mind when the subject is law students.

You may not notice it, but I almost never write anything about law students. Unless there is actually a newspaper article raising an important controversy involving them, I am extremely unlikely ever to say anything negative about them. Often law student blogs say very nasty things about me, and I say nothing. I don't fight back, because they are law students. It just doesn't seem right. With respect to this AutoAdmit controversy, I'm trying to keep my distance from it -- believe it or not -- because I don't want to say anything negative about law students.

I concede that I said something dismissive in response to the original Washington Post story, to the extent that it characterized a student as claiming that she lost out on job offers because chatboard guys talked too much about how pretty she was. I don't think being beautiful and causing sexual desire in others is that harmful to your reputation. That said, I do acknowledge the anxiety caused by the over-the-top, outrageous writing when it crosses the line and makes it seem as though someone will show up in real life as a stalker or a rapist.

I am trying not to write too much on the subject, but at the same time it's frustrating to see a complex set of events and individuals jumbled together and discussed in a highly emotional and extremely ideological way -- not only in blogs and news articles, but in the complaint itself. Patterico criticizes me for not putting more effort into untangling the jumbled complaint. This conflicts with my preference for staying out of it for the most part, mainly because I don't want to criticize law students and or to give raw material to the ideological extremists who are eager to use anything I say that doesn't toe the line to trash my reputation as a law professor.

So I'm really conflicted about this. I can see that ideologues are not only viciously attacking me but also trying to frame the debate in a very skewed way that puts a low value on free speech and a high value on using lawsuits to enforce politeness of the internet. It's mostly done by stressing the great danger of violence against women and trashing anyone who doesn't see that (admittedly worthy) concern as trumping anything else. So since I do have tenure and a high-traffic blog, I feel I need to stay in it and counter some of that. Believe me, it's no fun.

Judging a man by his sexual orientation?

Ace of Spades liked my post about Glenn Greenwald, but thinks there's something that I "strain mightily not to think" because I "don't think that way. Or would like not to, anyway." He's right that I don't think that way, but he's wrong that I have to strain not to. The gay guys I know tend to be at least as masculine as straight guys. What's unmanly about wanting to be with guys?

He notes -- but takes out of context -- that I said "Do women not exist in Glenn G's world?" Someone in my comments acted like that was a reference to GG's sexual orientation, and my reply to him was: "That's not a focus on sexual orientation, and the fact that you think it is is a slur on gay men. The gay men I know pay a great deal of attention to women."

I asked that question after quoting this from GG: "Only those with a throbbing need to demonstrate their masculine virtues would glibly embrace things of that sort." Since some women support these things -- that is, policies GG connects to torture -- it can't only be about masculinity-challenged men trying to prove themselves. That leaves out the women.

Heterosexual men often make statements that are blind to the existence of women like that. Reams of feminist writing can be filed under the heading: "As if everyone is a man." The exclusion of women from the category of things that need to be taken into account is a broad cultural problem, not something to blame on homosexuality.

In the aftermath of tweaking the blogger.

Yesterday, I went after two Glenns who were irritating me, but only one of them was irritating me because he was talking about me, and that one, but not the other one, responded to me. So, Premiere movie critic Glenn Kenny is chastened to learn that he's "has hurdled ahead of political blogger Glenn Greenwald in the intensity of Althouse's disapprobation — Greenwald is now only the 'second-worst' Glenn."

Were there hurdles? Or did he just hurtle?

He says he's "holding out a peace pipe" and that he'll be extra careful in the future if he ever feels like "tweaking" me again, but how am I supposed to feel about that? If I didn't have a high-traffic blog where I could complain -- and a much higher traffic blog to supercharge my complaint -- the damage to my reputation would simply have festered. Really, extra care is most important when you are writing about individuals who don't have an easy way to fight back... unless, of course, your real concern is your own reputation.
The throngs pouring in here via Althouse and Instapundit should know: ["a not-bad Michael-Curtiz directed rags-to-not-quite-riches saga with an ill-justified Looney-Tunes-promoting dream sequence'] is really what my blog is all about. This, and Godard. Stick around if that's your thing.
Ah, yes, repair your reputation and try to keep some of the crowd who came over on account of me and my favorite Glenn. Well, let's see if Glenn K ever links to me when I write something about movies and he's got something positive to say about it.

CORRECTION NOTED: For some reason I had written "music critic" instead of "movie critic" in the first paragraph.

June 15, 2007

"Drink better coffee."

Red soda

Today...

LOLglenn.

You've got to go back to this post and scroll waaaay down to the "in the mail" update.

I love the insect + plant photo genre.

And this one looks so perfectly like a painted illustration for a children's book. Let me add that I also love the genre of photographs that look like paintings.

Why the judge cried about the pants.

You may have been wondering why I haven't written about the judge who's suing his dry cleaners for $54 million for losing a pair of pants. It seems to have all the elements of an Althouse post, doesn't it? Too much litigation, a wacky judge, a lot of money, fashion, sympathetic defendants. I don't know. I've been avoiding that story. Maybe because it seems to demand blogging. I don't like being pushed around. But add one element, and I am compelled. Robin Givhan is writing about it:
Of all the sartorial reasons for a man to get riled up -- go sue the fellow who gave the thumbs-up on Crocs, why don't you? -- suit pants are among the most inconsequential of them all...

A suit, of course, can have panache. The quality of the fabric and the fit can signify wealth and authority. But when the eye scrutinizes a suit, it's really looking at the jacket....

Dress pants have never been fetishized the way other parts of the wardrobe have. Bluejeans, for instance, have been elevated to a kind of fashion haiku -- deceptively simple, yet filled with emotion, attitude, sex appeal and profound cultural meaning. For proof of how banal men's pants have become, look no further than the nearest male derriere to read the Dockers label. Introduced in 1986, they launched a khakis revolution and made virtually every man who wore them -- which is essentially every man -- look like he was somnambulating toward a life of soccer games, little blue pills and quiet desperation.

There have been attempts to transform pants into talking points. Designer Thom Browne cropped them at the ankle. Former Christian Dior menswear designer Hedi Slimane cut them so narrow they were practically shrink-wrapped onto his models. And too many designers to name have championed diaper pants with the crotch dropped to the knees in the misguided belief that men will want to relive their suckling years.

But in the closets of men who buy clothes, not fashion, pants are merely functional.... But the loss of even the best-made pair of pants, the ones that accentuate a trim waist and give the illusion of a sprinter's bottom, isn't worth crying over.
It must be cool to be a fashion writer. I've never even noticed there was such a thing as "diaper pants," yet for Givhan it's a weird recurrent phenomenon.

But here's the reason to cry over pants. It's not that they're distinctive, it's that they are so closely tied to what you know or want to deny about your body. This is why so many ads for diets picture a thin person standing inside a giant pair of pants and gleefully holding the waistband out. Your pants are gauges of weight and muscle tone loss and gain. When you bring in your old pants -- as Judge Roy Pearson did -- to be let out to accommodate you weight gain, you are exposing yourself in an intimate and deeply emotional way. When the Chungs accepted his pants, they weren't only accepting his pants, they were accepting the man's shame, his humiliation, his failure. They were saying, in effect, we understand this misfortune and we will take care of you. To just lose the pants was to say this relationship meant nothing to us. It broke his heart. He cried. Not just for the pants. For everything.

It's like when Daisy cried over the shirts in "The Great Gatsby."
"They're such beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. "It makes me sad because I've never seen such--such beautiful shirts before."

IN THE COMMENTS: Jane says:
The Great Pearson: At the end of his Dockers, a flashing green light signaled to him to go ahead with his suit for his beloved pair of legs, beckoning like springtime and the fresh smell of money.
Drew says:
Pearson was upset that his Prufrockian destiny was derailed by the Chungs' loss of his garment, thus preventing him from declaring that I grow old . . . I grow old . . . I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Oh, this is a great clue to poor Mr. Pearson. Look at this, from the WaPo write-up of the case:
A pair of pants from a blue and maroon suit was missing when he requested it two days later. The Chungs say they found the pants soon after and tried to give them to Pearson, but Pearson insists those are not his. The charcoal-gray, cuffed pants are now evidence.

"I haven't worn pants with cuffs since the 1970s," Pearson said. He also submitted into evidence a photograph of every pair of pants in his home to show that he does not like pants with cuffs.
He never wears the bottoms of his pants turned up, yet they gave him pants with cuffs. It's as if he had handed them his youth, and what they gave back to him was old age. He grows old! These horrible cuffed pants! The pants of death!

Drew also supplies the perfect quip: "Pearson should drop his suit . . . but not his trousers."

Don't you ever have anything nice to say?

Yeah, I do. I'd like to say that this music is incredibly effective for creating a mental state conducive to reading and writing.

In the company of a few too many Glenns.

Or maybe yesterday was ax-grinding day. I see Glenn Reynolds was going after Glenn Greenwald, who was my least favorite Glenn until I ran across the infernal Glenn Kenny, who calls his blog "In the Company of Glenn."

But let's see what the problem was yesterday with the second-worst Glenn:
I don't pay much attention, generally, but I'm stuck in a car with nothing but Technorati for company...
Judging from the camera angle in the photo, Reynolds was in the passenger seat. I thought he was blogging and driving. You could blog and drive in stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper traffic couldn't you? (I like to vlog and drive, myself.)

Back to Glenn R:
....and noticed that in one of his typically verbose efforts....
Can someone explain why leaning left causes verbosity?
Glenn Greenwald gets around, eventually, to making two points, One is that I'm a geek, whose interest in Western culture's retreat from traditional ideas of masculinity is thus silly:
Glenn Reynolds -- who, by his own daily admission, devotes his life to attending convention center conferences on space and playing around with new, cool gadgets in the fun room in his house, like a sheltered adolescent in his secret treehouse club -- to fret: "Are we turning into a nation of wimps?"
But, see, that's the point. I'm a geek. If I notice it, it's probably real. It would be like Greenwald complaining that the country was going overboard in hatred of Bush.
So Glenn G is irked that Glenn R is calling people wimps and basically says, but you're a wimp. This is great. Reminds me of that old game show "Quien Es Mas Macho."

This incites me to go over and actually read a Glenn Greenwald post, which is something I almost never do, because Glenn G brings out the ADD in me.

Greenwald begins with the subject of how sexy and manly Fred Thompson is and quotes Chris Matthews enthusing:
Can you smell the English leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man's shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of -- a little bit of cigar smoke?
Now that is hilarious. (Video!) But that's Chris Matthews, and in fact, he's raising the terribly important issue of our sexual response to political candidates. As Al Gore likes to write books about: We are not rational decisionmakers in this democracy. Matthews is pointing that out in a punchy, comedic way. And he's interacting with Ana Marie Cox, who takes a comedic approach to politics.

So let's see how Glenn G dithers over it:
What can even be said about that? And nobody really seems to find this odd or disturbing or objectionable at all -- that night after night, one of the featured "journalists" of a major news network goes on television and, with some of our most prestigious journalists assembled with him, speaks admiringly about the smells and arousing masculinity and the "daddy" qualities of various political officials, and that this metric is, more or less, the full extent of his political analysis.
What can even be said about that? And nobody really seems to find it odd or disturbing or objectionable at all -- that day after day, Salon features a blogger who goes on and on in the most tedious way. In this case, he's criticizing Matthews but he's tone deaf to his comic style.... or would you think I was smart if I said the metric that is his analysis?
During the last week, when I was traveling, I spent substantial time driving in a rental car...
Glenn G can't say "last week." It's got to be "during the last week." He can't say "a long time," he has to say "substantial time."
...and thus had the opportunity to listen for large chunks of time to The Rush Limbaugh Show...
You know, Glenn G can't just "listen" to the radio, he has to have "the opportunity to listen" to the radio. So you listened to the radio? Who cares if it was last week and the car was a rental car and you were not only driving you were also traveling? It's like his little heart leaps every time he sees the opportunity to lard in a few more words, like a schoolboy assigned to write a 500-word essay.

But finally he gets to his point, which is that right-wingers are always lording it over the lefties that they are mas macho.
Virtually the entire show is now devoted to an overt celebration of masculinity -- by Rush Limbaugh -- and to claims that Democrats and liberals lack masculinity....

And just as Glenn Reynolds has done, Rush has developed a virtual obsession with the book The Dangerous Book for Boys, geared towards teaching "boys how to be boys." Rush spent the week hailing it as the antidote to what he calls the "Emasculation of America."

Identically, Reynolds on his blog has promoted the book a disturbing 17 times in the last six weeks alone. When doing so, he routinely proclaims things such as "maybe there's hope," and -- most revealingly -- has fretted: "Are we turning into a nation of wimps?" ...

There are few things more disorienting than listening to Rush Limbaugh declare himself the icon of machismo and masculinity and mock others as "wimps." And if you look at those who have this obsession -- the Chris Matthews and Glenn Reynolds and Jonah Goldbergs and Victor Davis Hansons -- what one finds in almost every case is that those who want to convert our political process and especially our national policies into a means of proving one's "traditional masculine virtues" -- the physically courageous warriors unbound by effete conventions -- themselves could not be further removed from those attributes, and have lives which are entirely devoid of such "virtues."
Let's translate that last paragraph from Glennwaldese to plain English: No, you guys are wimps.
This is notable not merely because this pervasive and insecure craving for artificial masculinity supplants rational and substantive political considerations, though it does do that. Nor is it notable merely because it is so unpleasant, even cringe-inducing to behold, though it is that, too. Instead, this topic is unavoidable, really at the center of our political discourse, because it leads directly to some of our most significant and controversial political decisions.
Glennwaldese to English: Thinking about masculinity is emotional and we shouldn't be emotional about politics.

Why write in Glennwaldese? It's a way of making the obvious look less obvious and giving off the air of intelligence... which doesn't smell like English Leather. (It's English Leather -- a men's cologne -- not "English leather" as Glenn has it up there.) It smells like an old college dorm room.
... Rush Limbaugh ... parade[s] around as the icon of masculinity, and it ... drives him not only to dismiss -- but to overtly celebrate -- the abuses of Abu Grahib and other torture policies as just good, clean fun had by real men (like Rush, as proven by his support for it). As John McCain pointed out in the GOP debate in South Carolina, men who have actually served in the military find torture to be dishonorable, dangerous and repulsive. Only those with a throbbing need to demonstrate their masculine virtues would glibly embrace things of that sort.
Do women not exist in Glenn G's world?
This dynamic is depressingly pervasive, yet incomparably significant.
A classic Glenn Greenwald sentence if there ever was one. It's such a perfect embodiment of Glenn Greenwaldese that if he were a sitcom character his catchphrase could be "This dynamic is depressingly pervasive, yet incomparably significant." He'd be like Aunt Sassy in "Room and Bored." The other characters would be doing whatever they do and -- Aunt Sassy would say "I don't want see that" -- he'd go: "This dynamic is depressingly pervasive, yet incomparably significant."

And yes, I know, I know, war and torture are serious, so why am I writing about language and rhetoric? Because I don't have anything interesting to say about the horror of war and torture. I hate war and torture. Please note.

Back to Mr. G:
It's what causes someone like Glenn Reynolds...
What's the "it"? Scroll back. Oh, I see: it's the "dynamic." And what was the dynamic? I seem to remember that it was depressingly pervasive, yet incomparably significant. Scroll back more. Oh, it was "this pervasive and insecure craving for artificial masculinity [that] supplants rational and substantive political considerations." So then, the pervasive craving is depressingly pervasive. Egad! I hate when things that are already pervasive become, you know, pervasive. People, listen, can't you see? It's so horrible! It's the dynamic! The pervasiveness of it is getting pervasive. I'm so depressed.

Why not use a vivid expression that retains the meaning so we don't have to scroll back? Maybe "machismo" or "phony masculinity"? Glenn G probably thinks the word "dynamic" expresses the way the desire for masculinity -- he laughably says guys crave "artificial masculinity" -- interferes with rational thought... and also that it makes his observation seem more important than it is. Why this is no mere process, it's a whole dynamic!
It's what causes someone like Glenn Reynolds -- who, by his own daily admission, devotes his life to attending convention center conferences on space and playing around with new, cool gadgets in the fun room in his house, like a sheltered adolescent in his secret treehouse club -- to fret: "Are we turning into a nation of wimps?," and directly in response to that concern, to urge "more rubble, less trouble" -- meaning that he wants to watch on his television set as the U.S. military flattens neighborhoods and slaughters more people in the name of "strength," "resolve," and "power."
When you point your cursor at "more rubble, less trouble," it highlights as if there's supposed to be a link there, but clicking goes nowhere. So is that a quote from Glenn R or not?

Glenn Reynolds offers the actual context here, and it shows Glenn G's characterization to be an embarrassing distortion. Did he originally have the link and then remove it to hide his distortion? Kind of wimpy, no?

You know, I think it's really important to analyze the sexual feelings that underlie politics and warfare. I wish Glenn Greenwald would do a better job of it.

But I have two other problems:

1. Greenwald started out by mocking Chris Matthews for the analysis of sexual feeling in politics, and then he ended up analyzing sexual feelings in politics. I think he realized this was incoherent, and then, instead of rewriting his post -- why subtract when you can add? -- he just asserted: "None of this is about psychoanalyzing anyone." Get it? The thing Matthews did? Bad! The thing I just did? Must be good, cuz I did it, so different, and hence, not bad.

2. Greenwald himself is not free from the "dynamic" -- which, you might remember, is "this pervasive and insecure craving for artificial masculinity [that] supplants rational and substantive political considerations." His long tirade tells us something about his feelings of masculinity, and he never examines what they are. If we are competent readers, though, we must look into that. He mocks Glenn Reynolds for talking about what a geek he is, but self-examination and self-deprecation are good -- and are not evidence of someone with a "pervasive and insecure craving for artificial masculinity [that] supplants rational and substantive political considerations." Where is Greenwald's self-examination and self-deprecation? All I ever see is self-importance and preening and condemning others as inferior, which kind of seems like a "pervasive and insecure craving for artificial masculinity [that] supplants rational and substantive political considerations."

Hey, this dynamic is depressingly pervasive, yet incomparably significant.

IN THE MAIL: Knoxwhirled sends lolglenn:

lolglenn

Sorry, I had to do that.

I'm not going to spend the whole day ax-grinding. Or should I? It could make an interesting theme day. Remember when people used to do Friday cat-blogging? (Or do some folks still do Friday cat-blogging) Maybe there should be Friday ax-grinding. Just collect up all the personal wrongs of the week... I do have quite a few this week. But somehow only Premiere's film critic Glenn Kenny pushed me over the edge.

Premiere's film critic Glenn Kenny glaringly misquotes me...

Here. The comment I left at his site.
Glenn: You quote me saying "Meanwhile, in Iran, they're executing porn stars." That is a misquote that you need to correct. I did not use the word "stars," for exactly the reason that you go on to discuss. Since you're trying to smear me here, you should take special care to be accurate. Your whole riff is screwed up because it's based on the notion that I used that word. I demand a correction and an apology.
He wrote that yesterday afternoon, and I'm the only comment there, so maybe no one reads this guy, despite the fact that he's Premiere's film critic. Maybe people don't read Premiere anymore. So I'm doing a post over here on the subject, because he's smearing me and I want a correction. As Glenn Kenny notes, CNN used the term "porn stars" in the headline, and it looked stupid enough to me that I changed it to "actors" for my one-line reference to the story.

So if Glenn Kenny thinks I think there are "porn stars" in Iran, Glenn Kenny is quite wrong. As my mother used to say, Glenn Kenny, "don't let the bedbugs bite." If you're going to use quotes, Glenn Kenny, make sure the person said/wrote what you put inside the quotes, or maybe you don't deserve to be the film critic for Premiere.

ADDED: Kenny does a correction... and the traffic really flowed from here to there after Instapundit linked to this in a funny post.

June 14, 2007

"You have such a beautiful daughter! May I marry her?... Will you at least visit my carpet store?"

Nina's in Istanbul... with pics. Like this one:

Straight to prison for Libby?

The judge refused to allow him to remain free pending his appeal. What will Bush do, if he's lost the option of waiting until after the 2008 election to pardon Libby?

Bush is down to 29% in the polls. Congress is at 23%.

We don't much like anyone these days.

A beautiful, inspiring funeral today...

For Jeff Erlanger, the son on my colleague Howie Erlanger. From the Isthmus:
Jeff, a lifelong quadriplegic who used a wheelchair, focused much of his activism on improving the lives of people with disabilities. But Jeff was the kind of person who immediately dispelled any notion that you might have about treating the disabled with paternalism or pity. He was intelligent, funny and often politically savvy. He was the kind of person who, even if he hadn't been disabled himself, would have been at the table arguing for people's rights anyway.

Even early in his life, Jeff Erlanger was someone who impressed people with his wit and vitality. His appearance at age 10 on Fred Rogers' TV show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, when host and guest burst out into a spirited rendition of "It's You I Like," was fondly remembered on the occasion of Rogers' death...
A short video, showing some of the encounter with Mr. Rogers:

"I'm just grooving on drugs and the song 'A Horse With No Name.'"

Said by me, from the dentist chair this morning, under the influence of piped-in music and piped-in nitrous oxide. The dentist informs me that the "horse" in the song was heroin, and that she's always liked the song. "Ugh, I've always hated it," I say, through multiple dental instruments. "The song. And heroin."

ADDED: But I've always liked the song "Heroin."

"I'm a very strong believer in the First Amendment and the right of people to speak and to write."

WaPo reports that Justice Alito said this when asked "'where's the line' on what can be posted on the Internet":
"I would be reluctant to support restrictions on what people could say."
Was the questioner (or the Justice) thinking about the AutoAdmit case?
The newest justice, who was protective of speech rights as an appellate judge, added that "some restrictions have been held to be consistent with the First Amendment, but it's very dangerous for the government to restrict speech."
Of course, I agree.

Manboobs.

The website. Hey, I didn't go looking for it. I read about it in the NYT -- in an article about how common it is these days for males to get breast reduction surgery for gynecomastia:
In 2006, according to the group, nearly 14,000 boys age 13 to 19 underwent surgery to reduce the size of their breasts. That represents 70 percent of all the male patients who had such surgery last year, and an increase of 21 percent over the previous year for that age group.

In a culture that increasingly encourages young boys to be body conscious, demand for chiseled torsos and sculpted pecs is rising, so much so that the number of boys ages 13 to 19 who had breast reduction surgery last year is equal to the total number of all men who had the procedure just two years earlier, in 2004.

The foremost reason is the rise in obesity, according to several plastic surgeons who were interviewed. At the same time, there is a new willingness among pediatricians and plastic surgeons to surgically treat enlarged male breasts.

"You're into border security/Let's break the border between you and me"... sings Obama Girl.

Obama Girl is our new glimpse into the way independent YouTube videos are going to transform campaign advertising:



According to Jake Tapper, the video "poke[s] racy fun at the way some voters have responded viscerally to both Obama's charisma and the personal nature of his political appeal." Yes, and the video also stimulates the viewer to feel even more viscerally bonded to Obama. I love the fact that there is nothing the campaigns can do about material like this (although I'm sure there are people who would like to regulate this kind of thing and think it would/should be legal to do so).

Background facts (in case you are foolish enough to assume the singing voice is that of the woman you see in the video):
The song was performed by Leah Kauffman, a 21-year-old undergraduate at Temple University in Philadelphia, who wrote the lyrics with a friend, 32-year-old advertising executive Ben Relles, and the music with her producer, Rick Friedrich.

An actress/model named Amber Lee Ettinger then lip-synched the song for the video, shot by filmmakers found on Craigslist two hours before Relles and Ettinger hit New York City one Friday in May to shoot the video on a DV camera.

"Not including the hours we spent working on it, it probably cost a couple thousand dollars," said Relles, a graduate of the Wharton School of Business, who said he did it for fun, not money, but is also selling "Obamagirl" and "I Got a Crush on Obama" T-shirts.
And they do like Obama and hope to help him -- with material he can never (openly) approve of. Interesting how his inability to control it allows something so unacceptable to have its effect helping him.

But this is America. Meanwhile, in Iran, they're executing porn actors.

UPDATE: Ben Relles grew up in Madison.

June 13, 2007

What does it really mean to say "You're just jealous"?

Anita Creamer has some thoughts.
"You're just jealous" is one of the time-honored ways that the underminers among us like to cut bright women down to size when they raise reasonable criticisms of other women.

It's always shallow and dismissive. And it's often idiotic....

At heart, "You're just jealous" is also generally quite sexist, a fact that even seems to escape the women who think they're being insightful and original by leveling the jealousy charge at other women....

Still, "You're just jealous" serves a real purpose: to let women know they're not being taken seriously, ditzy little things that we are.
Well, I enjoyed reading that since I get the "you're just jealous" attack practically any time I criticize a woman. Of course, jealousy is a very common human emotion, and there are probably threads of jealousy -- along with innumerable other emotions -- woven through all of our opinions. But the problem is the way it's used when a woman criticizes a woman. It minimizes both women -- not only the woman who's accused of jealousy but also the woman on the receiving end, because she ends up looking like a fragile flower in need of a male protector.

People need to know that when you say "you're just jealous" to a woman who's criticizing a woman, you are saying "what I notice about your opinion is that you are a woman saying it." If you want to say that, go ahead, but if that's your style, you better think hard about whether you are a sexist. And a damn lazy one too because.... what a cliché.

"As the Bush presidency dissolves under the rain of tragic bulletins from the Iraq debacle..."

"... too many Democrats seem to believe that their party will simply sail into the White House in 2008. But the conservative grass roots are in open rebellion against the waffling Washington Republican establishment, most recently because of its bungling of the incendiary immigration issue. Campaigning against the rapidly deflating Bush zeppelin is a dead end." So says Camille Paglia.

Reading that instantly planted a conspiracy theory in my head: the Republicans had a plan all along to use the immigration issue as a scheme to distract attention from the war, stir up feelings that make ordinary Americans afraid of the Democrats, and win the 2008 election. Not saying Paglia mean to plant that thought. Not saying I believe it. Just saying...

Now, now, what am I doing? I said mellow. It's Wednesday. Be mellow.

Lily

Mellow yellow.

Should you sue people who say terrible things about you?

Eugene Volokh has more on the AutoAdmit case, noting the risks plaintiffs take when they sue. First, the lawsuit calls more attention to the scurrilous comments. Eugene notes, though, it's unlikely anyone hearing the AutoAdmit idiocy is going to believe it. (If so, shouldn't you lose on the merits?) Second, the plaintiffs are themselves coming forward with information that hurts their own reputation, notably the failure of Doe I to receive any summer job offers. Like me, Eugene doesn't believe in the causal connection between the AutoAdmit crap and the lack of success in the job market. Being skeptical of the causal connection, he does what an ordinary, analytical person would do and speculates:
[I]t seems to me that the likely reasons for Doe I's striking out were among the normal reasons why many people who look great on paper don't do as well in the hiring market as they'd like -- they don't seem that interested in firm jobs, their credentials aren't really that good, they come across as too quiet or nervous, they come across as too brash and self-important, they flub some questions, they rub the interviewers the wrong way, some of their professors are unimpressed by them and say so, and so on.
By making the causal connection an issue in the case, Doe I forces the defendants to try to prove that there are other causes. They'll want to get discovery from the law firms that interviewed her and find out what the reasons were. This could be quite bad. (I once testified in a federal case in which the law school was sued for reverse discrimination in hiring. I'd been a chair of the Appointments Committee, and I had to explain at length why the plaintiff's credentials were far below what we look for in faculty hiring.)

Even if the firms actually did take into account ridiculous material they found on line, they are going to minimize their own bad behavior, and:
What's more, the law firms aren't being painted as the bad guys in this law suit, so it's not a case where (for instance) someone sues an employer for discrimination and the employer's badmouthing of the plaintiff could be put off to the employer's racism or sexism or what have you. It's just sixteen law firms that come across as largely disinterested bystanders (despite the possible reason to shade the truth that I mention above, a reason that is likely not to be prominent in observers' mind) and that talk about how Doe I botched her interview, or about how her grades were really pretty weak. That's not exactly the best publicity for an aspiring young lawyer, especially given that the case about online chatter is likely to lead to online chatter.
And he's not even mentioning the negative effect of revealing your propensity to litigate.

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds calls attention to Patterico's post -- which is also critical of me -- and says:
Patterico... thinks I'm wrong to be dismissive of the plaintiff's claims. Well, I'm pretty thick-skinned about Internet trash-talk -- when I teach libel I give my students a few choice search terms and let them see what people have said about me. They're usually appalled, but I've never sued anyone, and the list of things about which I might actually sue is awfully short. Besides, once you get past the puppy-blending stuff, who's going to believe much of anything they read?
And I could put together tons of terrible things people have said about me -- people who are actively trying to destroy my reputation, who publish many lies about me, and who allow their commenters to post using my name (even after I have repeatedly requested the deletion of those comments).

But I've never seriously considered suing anyone over it.... and not just because I'm hoping -- like Glenn -- that people won't believe it. It offends my principles and my sense of decency to intimidate people who are exercising free speech. These lawsuits have an ugly chilling effect, and I wouldn't want to be part of it.

I'm not saying there's nothing that would push me over the line, though, so don't take this as an encouragement to push the anti-Althousiana envelope.... not that I think those who toil in the genre have the creativity to push the envelope beyond the usual dumb stuff about my being an evil insane idiot who doesn't deserve to be a law professor.

Okay, now... calm down...

Clematis

Be mellow. It's a Wednesday.

"Do you believe that President Bush intends to merge the United States with Canada and Mexico in order to form a North American Union?"

Wacky question on the Right Wing News survey of right-wing bloggers. So did anyone say "yes"? Why, yes! 6%!

"Rudy Giuliani has been married more times than Mitt Romney’s been hunting."

Speaking of plagiarism and allusion, when do you have to credit the source of a political joke? Should Harry Reid have to say "as James Carville said"?

"The subtle line between plagiarism and literary allusion."

Geoffrey K. Pullum has some subtle analysis of the subtle line:
If I had hoped Mr McIntyre would not identify the source of my very funny metaphor and would think me responsible for its brilliantly humorous simile, I would not be a brilliantly humorous writer, I would be a dumb and contemptible plagiarist. And if I had thought he would spot the quotation but I was wrong and he did not, I would be in an awkward spot for two reasons: (i) I would have gratuitously insulted someone I didn't even know, and (ii) I would have used someone else's clever humor without admitting it or citing the source, and would thus have put myself in danger of being fingered later as a plagiarist.

But I had judged him right: I took him to be well acquainted with such familiar features of our culture as the Dilbert strip, and I intended him to see that I was quoting, and he did, and I intended him to see that I intended him to see that I was quoting, and he did, and I intended him to see that I intended him to see that I intended him to see that I was quoting, and he did, and... Perhaps it would be simpler if I just cut this (non-vicious) infinite regress short and say that I intended there to be not just recognition of the quote but also mutual recognition of our mutual knowledge state.
Comedy's complicated. I think the concern is not so much plagiarism -- though Pullum is setting up an interesting plagiarism anecdote -- but the problem of seeming too weird or crazy. If you refer to things that you know everyone knows, it's going to be trite and tiresome. If you refer to things almost no one knows, you're going to be irritating for another reason. Allusions need to fall in some middle ground where the other person is going to get it and feel good about himself for being savvy enough to get it. That said, when you're writing on the internet, the middle ground gets much larger. When someone uses an odd phrase that you don't recognize -- like, for me, Pullam's "a hundred clowns with bees in their underpants" -- you Google it and then you can give the impression of someone who is savvy enough to get it.

Googling the odd phrase is also the way to detect plagiarism, but now when you find the phrase by Googling, you've got to ask whether they used it because they thought you'd Google it so you could consider yourself savvy for getting an allusion or whether they just didn't realize you'd Google it. Pullum's plagiarism story tells of all the excuses he heard when 10 students plagiarized the same quote they found on the internet (including a ridiculous one I've seen a student get away with: "I didn't realize it was wrong because in the country I come from copying is quite normal"). But they didn't try the one his post suggests: "I assumed that you'd Google it, and then appreciate my allusion."

You'd think it would be easy to see that you shouldn't name a school after a man who is under federal indictment.

But you would be wrong.... here in Madison:
The Madison School Board on Monday will reconsider naming a school after Vang Pao, who was charged in California this month with conspiring to violently overthrow the government of Laos...

Vang Pao is revered by ethnic Hmong both for his leadership during the CIA-backed "secret war" aiding U.S. troops in the Vietnam War and for his role in helping Hmong refugees settle in the United States....

"That is the person we feel best represents us, regardless of the allegations. And you're telling us that wasn't good enough," Peng Her, a Hmong businessman and cultural educator told the Communities United group. "You're treating us like little kids."...

"It seems to me you're telling the Hmong community who they can and can't select," said Earnestine Moss, chair of Communities United. "If you're going to support them, support them even if they pick Vang Pao."

Claire Lovell-Lepak also couldn't support action dictating to Hmong the people they should honor.

"Anyone who knows anything about the civil rights movement knows that great men can be arrested, while people who do despicable things, like own slaves, are honored," she said. "We should not hold the Hmong to a different standard."

Among Madison's schools is Thomas Jefferson Middle School, named for the U.S. president who also was a slaveholder.
Well, now, there's a middle school just itching for a name change.

June 12, 2007

Yale law students sue over "the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe" at AutoAdmit.

WSJ Law Blog has the story:
In the latest chapter of the AutoAdmit.com scandal, two female Yale Law School students have sued Anthony Ciolli, the Web site’s former “chief educational director,” and more than two dozen others who allegedly used pseudonyms and posted the students’ photos as well as defamatory and threatening remarks about them on the online law-school discussion forum....

The law students aren’t named in the suit — filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut — which claims the defendants violated copyright infringement by posting photos of one of the women without her permission, falsely posing as the women in posts on the site, and engaging in “unreasonable publicity given to another’s life; publicity that places another in a false light before the public; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent infliction of emotional distress; and defamation.”

The complaint asks for judgment against the defendants for unspecified damages as well as punitive damages in the amount of $245,400. Besides Ciolli, named defendants include individuals with pseudonyms such as “Pauliewalnuts” and “The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rollah.”

“It’s bringing the right to protect yourself against offensive words and images into the 21st century,” said David N. Rosen, a New Haven, Conn.-based attorney for the students and a senior research scholar in law at Yale Law to the Law Blog in an interview. “This is the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe,” he said of the postings about the women on AutoAdmit.
So this is the 21st century? Where courts award punitive damages for offensive words and pictures? Isn't "the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe" exactly what we always used to say people had to put up with in a free country? Man, that was so 20th century!

ADDED: Over at AutoAdmit, they're trashing the complaint.

MORE: Glenn Reynolds: "Stuff that offends dumb hicks in the heartland is constitutionally protected. Stuff that offends Yale Law Students must be stamped out!" Yeah, really.

And in the comments Bruce Hayden raises a damned good question about the copyright claim (which is the whole basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction in the complaint (PDF)): "Copyright protects original expression. Thus, the photographer would be the copyright owner, not the subject of the photographs." I'm not a copyright expert, and I'm not writing this as anyone's lawyer -- I'm retired from the practice of law -- but it looks to me as though the copyright claim is completely frivolous, and all the other claims are state law claims. Subject matter jurisdiction is based only on federal question jurisdiction, not diversity of citizenship, so all those state law claims are in federal court because they are supplemental to the federal claim. Under § 1367(c), then, when the copyright claim is tossed out, the whole case should be dismissed. Unless our fearless lawyer refiles in state court, we'll never get to hash out all the interesting free speech issues. But then, this case should never have been filed. So, much as I'd like to see a strong precedent protecting offensive speech, it will be good to see this nipped in the bud.

AND: The complaint does assert that one of the plaintiffs owns the copyright in the photographs that are the basis of the copyright claims. It appears that the plaintiff acquired the copyrights in preparation for the lawsuit, and I'll leave it to copyright experts to say more about that, but the question I want to raise is: If the plaintiff(s) did not own the copyrights at the same time as the other incidents alleged in the complaint, how can the copyright infringement be part of the same constitutional case as all the state law tort claims under §1367(a)? That is, how can the federal court have jurisdiction over anything but the copyright claims?

ONE MORE THING: This post originated as a response to the lawyer's phrase "the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe." I want to see "the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe" protected. That doesn't mean I support defamation or the revelation of private facts or impersonating someone by name on a website. Those are different matters, and I don't mean to express an opinion as to whether any torts like that are alleged in the complaint. I just want to remind people to keep our free speech bearings. We have lost our way if we've forgotten the importance of protecting speech that is "scummy" and "offensive" and "tripe."

ADDED: Eugene Volokh has a detailed post on many of the fine points of liability.

"The fear of missing out means today’s media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack."

"In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out," said Tony Blair.
"I’ve made this speech after much hesitation,” he said. “I know it will be rubbished in certain quarters. But I also know this has needed to be said.”

.. Mr. Blair’s criticism today seemed unusually blunt, as he assailed sensationalism, “the confusion of news and commentary,” an alleged lack of balance in British reporting and over-simplification. “Things, people, issues, stories, are all black and white,” he said. “Life’s usual gray is almost entirely absent....

He continued: “I do believe this relationship between public life and media is now damaged in a manner that requires repair. The damage saps the country’s confidence and self-belief; it undermines its assessment of itself, its institutions; and, above all, it reduces our capacity to take the right decisions, in the right spirit for our future.”
My first instinct -- feral, I suppose -- is to rubbish this. Public figures will always complain about the press, and competition among media is the marketplace of ideas. What's new is that the media itself is subjected to instant and vigorous scrutiny.

Inconclusive endings.

Unless you're really spoiler averse about "The Sopranos," I think you can read this. You probably already know that the ending of "The Sopranos" left us questioning what happens next. We're going to debate endlessly -- and write innumerable blog posts -- about what we think happened after the screen went black. This is a classic type of ending, so let's try to think of some other examples. I know this risks all sorts of spoilers, but we've got to be able to talk about the way narratives end, and we can't wait until everyone has seen and read everything. In the comments to the "Sopranos/gender difference" post, PWS srote:
I agree with those who state the ending is leaving space for the viewer. I think this is a characteristic of great art; some room for the consumer of the art.

Remember the end of Lost in Translation when Bill Murray's character says something to Johanson at the end and the audience never finds out what it is?
That made me think of the ending to "The Graduate." After what seems to be the ending, when Benjamin sweeps Elaine out of her own wedding, things drag out. They catch a bus, all giddy, and take the big seat in the back. We stay with them a long time, long enough to lose the thrill of the escape and start to doubt whether they're going to be very happy, long enough to set us up for a big conversation after we get out of the theater about whether it's going to be much good at all.

So let's have some more examples. And let's try to define some distinctions. Some movies end inconclusively to leave room for a sequel. (This type of movie can have a real, solid tie-up-all-the-loose-threads ending, followed by a coda that introduces new material for the sequel, as is done quite amusingly in "Back to the Future.") And some movies just have botched endings. An inconclusive ending is risky because many viewers will decide that it is just a bad ending -- they didn't know how to end it or they didn't know how to make the ending clear.

These days, they test commercial movies and redo the ending if people aren't satisfied enough. I think one of the reasons movies have gotten worse in the last 8 years is that endings are being tweaked to satisfy lazy, emotionally needy audiences. But I still think the inconclusive ending is a classic narrative strategy. The classic classic example is the story "The Lady or the Tiger."
The question of her decision is one not to be lightly considered, and it is not for me to presume to set myself up as the one person able to answer it. And so I leave it with all of you: Which came out of the opened door - the lady, or the tiger?
After thinking of that, I checked out the Wikipedia entry for the story, and -- things get updated so quickly these days -- found this:
In "The Sopranos" series finale ... [spoilers deleted] ...

A classic "The Lady, or the Tiger?" ending.

A late spring reverie.

Swimming pool

The "Sopranos" gender difference issue.

I'm seeing the same thing in two different places this morning, so let me bring it to your attention. (Only very mild spoilers ahead.) Here's Stephen Bainbridge:
I think the ending was absolutely in keeping with the tenor of a show that's about family and rarely offered closure (just like life itself).

In contrast, my good wife is seriously annoyed with the lack of closure. (Not unlike Dave's wife.) Is that a gender difference?
And James Wigderson says: "Jessica McBride is out to prove WISN-AM's Mark Belling wrong that women aren't analytical enough to truly appreciate the Sopranos."

So, various guys are reporting that it was the wives who were hoping for a big climax? Hmmmm... my thinking just got completely derailed! Staying with it all that time and not getting a climax in the end.... why does that especially piss off women?

Back on track: It surprises me that women are the ones who were watching for the bloody outbursts, and that men were the ones examining the complex details. Or, to put it slightly differently: Do women want a story arc and "closure," and do men feel satisfied swirling around in an open-textured narrative? Obviously, self-reporting from the marital sofa is not scientific, and even if we had a scientific study, it would generalize and there would be individual variation. But what if this gender difference is true? Would it not challenge the usual assumptions that men take to violence and linear thinking and that women are more multidimensional and interested in relationships?

The show is the creation of a man, David Chase. Alan Sepinwall has an interview with him, which has this:
I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there," he says of the final scene.

"No one was trying to be audacious, honest to God," he adds. "We did what we thought we had to do. No one was trying to blow people's minds, or thinking, 'Wow, this'll (tick) them off.' People get the impression that you're trying to (mess) with them and it's not true. You're trying to entertain them."...

Chase has had an ambivalent relationship with his fans, particularly the bloodthirsty whacking crowd who seemed to tune in only for the chance to see someone's head get blown off (or run over by an SUV)....

"... Like everyone else, I get off partly on the betrayals, the retributions, the swift justice. But what you come to realize when you do a series is you could be killing straw men all day long. Those murders only have any meaning when you've invested story in them. Otherwise, you might as well watch 'Cleaver.'"
Of course, whatever ending he decided on has got to seem right to him, so he's on the side of those who are not angry at the ending. Yet he's not saying you shouldn't expect your investment in the story to pay off in violence. But it seems to be the case that hating the ending means that you didn't get the show. And if you realize that you didn't get the show this late in the game, after watching the equivalent of 40 movies, you really do have reason to be angry... though perhaps you should be angry at yourself.

June 11, 2007

The 5 stages of mourning the end of "The Sopranos."

1. Denial. What the hell? The cable cuts out now? Now of all times?!

2. Anger. I watched 6 seasons for this? Damn you David Chase! I'm canceling my HBO!

3. Bargaining. Can we have a "Sopranos" movie now?

4. Depression. We have to watch "John From Cincinnati." This is terrible.

5. Acceptance. All right. I watched the repeat play on Monday night. Shorn of all the tension and expectation, I can see that this is what had to be. The family, together, on and on. The cat of guilt and memory, sprawled on the sidewalk in front of Satriale's forever. "Life goes on," Paulie said after the funeral. "In the midst of death we are in life... or is it the other way around?" It was never about the big, sudden blood baths. It was the little things, and they're all there, to keep going back to. Did you notice the first time around that when Meadow, announcing her plan to go to law school, said, "The state can crush the individual," Tony said "New Jersey?"? Come on. There are a million little things things like that strewn across the 6 seasons. We're just getting started. Here, now, put Season 1, episode 1 in the DVD player.

Dan Rather takes a shot at Katie Couric... and the "tarted up" evening news.

On "Morning Joe":
I want to make clear that I have nothing against Katie Couric at all. She’s a very nice person and I have a lot of friends at CBS News. However, it was clear at the time and I think it has become even clearer that the mistake was to try to bring the ‘Today’ ethos to the evening news and to dumb it down, tart it up, in hopes of attracting a younger audience. And I just don't think that people at 6:30, or seven o’clock at night or even 5:30 in the central time zone , six o’clock when it’s seen, that that is what they want.... [T]he belief runs strong in the corporate towers of almost every news organization, print or over the airwaves these days, that if you go to celebrities, uh, it increases your audience.
I don't like the dumbing down of the news, but I see two important feminist issues:

1. Is Rather insinuating that having a female newscaster is part of the process of "tarting up" the news? I know he doesn't precisely make that connection, but, to me, it's just glaring that the word "tart" means prostitute.

2. Why on earth does it matter what time the news is on? If something is wrong for the evening news, why isn't it just as wrong for the morning news? I think what is unstated is that only women are watching those morning shows, so the standards are lower. We don't even call the evening news a "show," do we? It's not a show, it's a program!

If Rather is so concerned about seriousness, why doesn't he see the serious undertones of sexism in his remarks? And, hint to Dan Rather: Saying she's "a very nice person" is not going to immunize you from this suspicion.

UPDATE: Les Moonves picks up the Rather-is-sexist meme.

"An alien captured and detained within the United States... has a right to habeas corpus protected by the Constitution's Suspension Clause."

A divided panel of the Fourth Circuit interprets the Military Commissions Act not to apply to civilians who are seized within the United States. SCOTUSblog reports:
Under MCA, Judge Motz wrote, ... enemy combatant status must either be determined by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- the military administrative panels set up by the Pentagon -- or by some other "Executive tribunal." Neither has made such a ruling as to [Ali Saleh Kahlah] al-Marri, the decision said. (The CSRT panels are operating only for foreign nationals being held at the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.)...

The Circuit Court found the government's claim of "inherent" presidential authority to order military detention of civilians to be "breathtaking," and was broad enough even to allow detention of U.S. citizens.
Orin Kerr has more:
The court takes a very narrow view of the category "enemy combatant"; if I read the court correctly, it sees the category as basically limited to the catgeory of military opponent in battle rather than Al-Qaeda terrorist....

According to the Fourth Circuit, this left Al-Marri as a "civilian," and thus entitled to the Due Process protections of anyone lawfully in the United States. In other words, the AUMF just doesn't reach so far as to permit the military to detain a civilian terrorist suspect in the U.S. like Al-Marri.
Kerr predicts the court will be reversed, either by the Fourth Circuit en banc or by the Supreme Court.

Rebelling against the flower image.

Pushing the flower envelope....

A flower from outer space

She's had it up to here with the sweet and pretty flower stereotype. More edge! More hostility!

A flower from outer space

... more confusion and disorder.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some great stuff, including the identification of this insanely ugly flower as a type of clematis: clematis florida Sieboldii.

Mike Huckabee's blog linked to the Bloggingheads segment where Annie and I say some nice things about him.

But linking to the whole segment means his supporters will get immersed in our idiosyncratic free-flowing discussion that includes the gelatinous blob diet pill, pro-anorexia websites, the creative ways kids find to get high, and so forth. And then there's the part where I criticize him for linking dieting and religion and for presenting weight loss as a qualification for the Presidency (and say "Why'd you get fat in the first place?"). And Annie says he looks like Nixon....

"These letters, once released, would be published on the Internet and their authors discussed, even mocked, by bloggers."

An incredibly banal line in an argument leads to a really padded NYT story. If the judge had caved to this argument against releasing the letters written in support of Scooter Libby -- by Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, etc. -- there might have been something worth going on about. But he didn't, so...

Can we "laugh at the bland, super-nice 'Up-With-People' vibe of Romney's cultural Mormonism"?

Andrew Sullivan says "it's going to be a long campaign" if we can't. I'm all for mixing personal remarks in with political analysis, and I agree with Sullivan's implication: The superficial look of things contains meaning that directly relates to the political debate.

But Sullivan is pushing the envelope in trying to legitimate criticizing people because of their religion. He seems to think that putting the word "cultural" in front of the name of a religion makes it acceptable: Once religion crosses the line from the purely religious and becomes part of the motivation for achieving various political goals, we've got to be able to criticize.

I agree that we shouldn't hang back and act respectful simply because it's religion. But anyone who takes the route and brings up religion in a political discussion invites scrutiny. Surely, he has legitimated the subject of whether he is bigoted against a religious group.

"I was severely depressed and felt as if I was in a cage."

Said Paris Hilton, talking about jail and claiming that it's time for her to stop playing dumb. She might start by realizing that jail is a cage. And that everyone feels terrible about going there.

But I look forward to the new Paris Hilton, the one who says, "Now, I would like to make a difference. ... God has given me this new chance." I just hope this making a difference business doesn't involve adopting children or letting us know what's wrong with the government or... Actually, I might prefer the old Paris Hilton -- minus the drunk driving.

UPDATE: Okay, I allowed myself to be suckered into TiVo'ing "The View." Barbara Walters reports that Hilton said she's 26 and too old to act dumb anymore, that's it been "an act," and that she'd like to offer something better to the "young girls who've looked up to" her. (Did anyone actually look up to her?) "I have become much more spiritual." God has helped her. Elisabeth Hasselbeck approves: "God is there!"

Ah, the cause is not children or political: It's breast cancer or multiple sclerosis. Good choice. Hilton wants to build "a Paris Hilton Playhouse" for sick children. (Sorry, that sounds so wrong.)

She's got a spiritual advisor who apparently told her that "her spirit or soul did not like the way I was being seen and that is why I was sent to jail." (Sounds similar to a psychologist opining that she felt guilty and was seeking punishment.) "God has released me." Joy Behar: "But the judge hasn't."

She's reading books and newspapers. What book? Guess? Of course: "The Secret."

June 10, 2007

In a post-"Sopranos" mood.

Puffy fungi

What is it? It looks puffy and either delicious or deadly....

Ducks

Ducks....

Ducks

What did the ducks ever mean, anyway? Or what is it now.... what did the cat mean?

"The Sopranos" -- finale.

SPOILER ALERT!

Soooo... I assumed they were all killed and the blackout was just to spare us from seeing it. But over on Television Without Pity, everyone's all confused, saying what happened, curse you David Chase, and I thought my cable went out.

ADDED: The song Tony played in the jukebox in the end was "Don't Stop Believing."
Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on
So, maybe they do go on and on and on. Or maybe there's going to be a "Sopranos" movie.

Anyway, the song that played when Phil was killed was "You Keep Me Hanging On." Not the Supremes version, the Vanilla Fudge:



(That song was also played in an earlier scene, but I can't read my notes! Looks like: "Bevage von"!)

The song playing when A.J. parked the SUV on the leaves was "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)":
For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.
Speaking of parking, Meadow had trouble parallel parking... and that was just about the last thing that happened in all these years of "The Sopranos."

It's the new Bloggingheads!

Topics:
The immigration irritant: Is it language, culture, race? (17:04)

Let's make the debates a reality show (07:24)

Huckabee's wisdom lauded (11:24)

Dalai Lama's wisdom disputed (06:16)

The hotness of Fred Thompson's wife (11:48)

On sexiness (17:46)

Ann and Annie pick their favorite Beatles song (10:58)

ADDED [BUT: This refers to a problem that was fixed.]: Unfortunately, the two tracks are matched up with me slightly ahead of Annie, which gives the impression that I'm constantly interrupting -- and that Annie pauses before speaking! This is not the way the conversation played in real time. [AGAIN: This problem is fixed.]

"I am having the experience two times in my life of doing something that makes New Jersey fashionable. What are the odds on that?"

Says Steven Van Zandt.

Meet Monique Thibodeaux, embodiment of opposition to the immigration bill.



As the New York Times sees it, in a tour de force of journalistic bathos.

"The Road Not Taken."

As I was saying, I played the docent at the Fred B. Jones Gatehouse, which was part of a Frank Lloyd Wright tour in Delavan, Wisconsin yesterday. Here are some views of the exterior:

The Fred B. Jones Gatehouse

(That's the water tower on the left.)

The Fred B. Jones Gatehouse

But I was posted -- imagine me, a blogger, posted -- in the interior, so let's go in:

The Fred B. Jones Gatehouse


Yesterday's post
has one picture of the interior, showing the fireplace, which has a space above it where the current owners have painted a line from that Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken." Here's a closeup of the inscription:

"The road less traveled..."

I showed many people through the room, and I always had to say that it was the original fireplace, but the line was not there originally, as, indeed, it could not have been -- unless, as I said once, "Frank Lloyd Wright was unusually prescient" -- because it had yet to be written in 1901 when the gatehouse was built. So I had some interesting conversations with visitors about the line. Would Frank Lloyd Wright have approved? He took the road less traveled, but the road that consists of loving that poem is very well traveled. All these people enamored of a line about nonconformity -- it's ironic. Most of the people I talked to wanted to take the road less traveled and reject the poem.

Let's hear it read by R. Frost:



One visitor said that Wright and Frost were contemporaries and that there's a good film clip out there of Wright interviewing Frost. "That should be on the internet," I said. I'm not finding it, but there sure are a lot of student films using "The Road Not Taken." Sample:



Now, when I see that line -- "I took the one less traveled by/And that has made all the difference" -- I think of the documentary "Grey Gardens." Little Edie, truly a nonconformist, treasures the old line. Part of what is so poignant about Little Edie is that she feels so deeply about some terribly shallow things, like astrology, scarves, and the VMI fight song. And so, that poem...

I'm frustrated that YouTube doesn't seem to have the clip of Little Edie reciting Frost, but I did find this video of Rufus Wainwright singing his song "Grey Gardens":



[Speaking of feeling deeply about terribly shallow things, I'm remembering the Rufus Wainwright line: "There's never been such grave a matter/As comparing our new brand name black sunglasses...."]

And then, if I may bring this meandering post in for a crash landing, I found this clip of Christine Ebersole -- who plays Little Edie (and the young Big Edie) in the Broadway musical made from the documentary. She's struggling to answer the question why gay men love "Grey Gardens." At one point, her answer seems promising, but then it devolves into typical showbiz political talk about Republicans:



No, let's not end there. Let's get back to the real feeling of Little Edie:



"I always took French, but nothing ever happened there."

ADDED: I did not know when I wrote this post that there had been a terrible murder in Delavan the night before I was there. MORE: Actually, the murder was the night after the tour:
Six people, including twin infants, were shot dead Saturday night inside an apartment house. The shooting also wounded a 2-year-old girl, who was still fighting for her life Sunday....

The wounded girl was flown to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.
The helicopters to the hospital fly over my house. I heard a helicopter in the middle of the night last night.

"I once stood in the same room with Chuck Norris."

I like the way a Metafilter post about how Mick Jagger showed up at some little pub and sang "Dead Flowers" with his brother Chris leads not to a discussion of how cool it would have been to be among the 40 patrons at the Bull's Head that night, but to things like that.