August 11, 2007

I'm your soul...

My creation

"As the example of Nuremberg suggests, journalists who act as propagandists for war crimes may one day find themselves on the scaffold."

"You would be well advised to strive for more balanced and accurate coverage in the future," writes 9/11 conspiracy theorist -- and erstwhile UW part-timer -- Kevin Barrett. He's displeased with the way a journalist covered the recent 9/11 "Truth" conference here in Madison.
The reporter's aim in offering such a wildly distorted view of the conference can only have been to libel 9/11 truth seekers as paranoid -- a task that Isthmus already accomplished last summer, to its eternal shame and perhaps its eventual prosecution.

This libel, like the 9/11 blood libel against Muslims, dehumanizes its victims and makes its author, editor and publisher complicit in the holocaust of the 9/11 wars -- a holocaust that has already killed more than 650,000 people in Iraq alone and destroyed the lives of more than 6 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan by making them refugees.
Paranoid about being considered paranoid, the paranoid want you to be paranoid too.

By the way, the last time I wrote about Barrett, he emailed me asking me to come on his radio show. I said, "No thanks. Sorry." Which I thought was pretty nice, considering. He comes back with: "Guess I'll have to update the Cowards List." With that is a link to a website with "a long list of gutless wonders who have publicly insulted him but chickened out of debate proposals." There, I'm listed as "chatter-blogger Ann Althouse."

My response to that email was one word: "Whatever." Which, again, I think is damned nice, considering. He responds with an insult: "didn't realize you were capable of brevity ; )."

And then I start getting cc'd on email between him and some other character:
I heard UW Law professor Ann Althouse has declined your invitation to be on your radio show.

That's pretty lame. She has been bashing you on her blog for over a year now, with childish comments. And this is a person supposedly qualified to teach UW students?

My ex-girlfriend had her for a professor a few years ago, and her controversial political views showed through according to my ex.

Republicans have some twisted views on the Constitution.

Most republican voters still think Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, which gives you some idea of their lack of intelligence.

Talk about a wacked out view! The hijackers were linked to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, not Iraq. Only a racist would think that Iraqi's were behind it.

Good luck on your radio show.
Note the "you, a law professor" theme. I wonder what my "controversial political views" were. That the states might serve as laboratories of democracy? That Scalia is actually not the devil incarnate? That Al Gore in fact lost the election in 2000, quite aside from anything the Supreme Court did. I mean, what, really?

Barrett responds to his emailer:
You would think that if I were so crazy and my views were so baseless, a law professor of all people would be capable of publicly dismantling me and my views, and would jump at the opportunity.

The fact that nobody on the other side is willing to debate, and their ever-increasing hysteria when discussing the issue, suggests that they know they're wrong, which means that at some level they know they're complicit in covering up mass murder and high treason. No wonder they just ram their heads further and further up their...I mean, in the sand.
Again with the you-a-law-professor.

Funny how he can't think of some other reason(s) why I might not want to go on his show.

I do have some curiosity about how he could still -- after what's gone on in Iraq -- cling to a theory that requires bizarre hyper-competence from the government.

The other emailer responds:
I doubt Ann knows much about 9/11 so she is not going to debate you.

All she knows is that the Arabs did it, which I find a bit racist.

Both the airplane stewardesses on Flight 11 who called in said there were FOUR hijackers on board.

Yet people like Ann insist there were five hijackers.

How does she know this?

Because there were FIVE Arabs on the flight manifest.

Sounds pretty racist to me.

And the stewardesses gave the seat numbers of the hijackers, many of which were non-Arab passengers.

People like Ann presume to know more about went on board Flight 11 than the airplane stewardesses themselves.
Interesting to see the conspiracy mind at work, isn't it? I've never written or even thought about the number of Arabs on Flight 11. Yet somehow I'm insisting. And racist.

Barrett responds:
well if she admits her relative ignorance on 9/11 and apologizes for her ignorant insults we could always skip 9/11 and talk about things we're both interested in, like the Beatles and the Kinks ; )
Again with the emoticon. Are conspiracy theorists always winking at each other. And what's with this pathetic desire to get friendly with me? Yeesh.

I don't feel safe in this world no more.

Your head = my rollercoaster.

My creation

"On every level, I'm very resentful... Not of my husband, but of other women who don’t work, or who have a stay-at-home husband."

I can just feel the waves of sympathy rolling in for this woman. She's Joyce Lustbader, a research scientist at Columbia University:
She calls her marriage a good one. She also has the benefit of a once-a-week housecleaner and had live-in help while the couple’s two children were growing up. She did not pursue a tenure track because she wanted to be more available for her children while they were growing up.
Oh, don't you just know the linked-to article is a lifestyles piece in the NYT? Where do they find these people? Bitching at the next table over in the restaurant? You had a good marriage and servants, and you decided you didn't want put in the work to go for tenure. And now what you want to say to the world is that you resent other women?! You made a choice and now you have some regrets. Life could have been different, but it would have to be a hell of a lot worse than that to justify publicizing your resentment, and even then, it wouldn't make sense to blame other women.
“Men lock the door and leave. Things could be a wreck or whatever and it doesn’t affect their other world,” [said NY lawyer Dawn Santana]. “I walk out and worry about the house looking nice, because the kids have play dates, etc. Someone has to worry about that, and it’s usually not the dad.”
You know, someone doesn't have to worry about that. Maybe instead of criticizing the dad for concentrating on work when he's at work, you could learn a little something about compartmentalizing and focusing on what matters. He's right to put a low priority on whether the house looks "nice" when children are coming over to play. Why act like he's the one with the problem? Going into his "other world" -- it's not like he's daydreaming. He's working! It's called work! Try it! Take it seriously.

Helpin u see.

My creation

"Every time I look in over there, something so weird is going on that I feel like I just bumbled on to the set of a Fellini film."

Althouse, what are you doing?

Im in ur hair

"The 'pot de yaourt,' or pot of yogurt."

What the French called the original Fiat 500, the incredibly tiny Italian car originally concocted in 1957, and now adorably revived.
“Like the Mini, you buy it because it’s interesting, beautiful things for the beautiful,” said Martino Boffa, the managing director in Milan of the marketing consultants Icon Added Value. He added, “It’s not functional; it’s a luxury item; it’s a toy.”...

For Mr. Boffa..., Fiat has made the 500 “a national event, saying, ‘We’re Italian, we have saved Italy.’ ” The marketing in Italy, he went on, “arouses national sentiments.”

“There’s a moralizing, chauvinistic aspect. If you’re Italian, you have to buy a Fiat.”...

But will this work outside Italy? Mr. Zurru of Roland Berger thinks so. “At least in Europe,” he said, “the 500 is linked to a cinematographic experience, a model rich in symbolism.”

“You know,” he said, “La Dolce Vita.”

Bat trouble chez Althouse.

That hits a little too close to home.

"Gerson is not the bard of Bushworld but rather a self-publicizing' glory hog guilty of 'foolish vanity,' 'sheer pettiness' and 'credit hounding.'"

Somebody's jealous!
According to Matthew Scully, who worked with him for five years, [Michael J.] Gerson did not come up with the language that made him famous. "Few lines of note were written by Mike," Scully says, "and none at all that come to mind from the post-9/11 addresses -- not even 'axis of evil.' "
What? You mean Bush isn't speaking his own words... and his ghost is now under fire for himself having a ghost? And the ghostwriter's ghostwriter is feeling sad and lonely?
"The narrative that Mike Gerson presented to the world is a story of extravagant falsehood," Scully writes. "He has been held up for us in six years' worth of coddling profiles as the great, inspiring, and idealistic exception of the Bush White House. In reality, Mike's conduct is just the most familiar and depressing of Washington stories -- a history of self-seeking and media manipulation that is only more distasteful for being cast in such lofty terms."
Way to improve your reputation. And thanks for the writing sample! We'll keep it on file in case we create a slot for Director of Adjectives.
Scully recounts the story of the "axis of evil" phrase, which Bush used in his 2002 State of the Union to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Scully notes that colleague David Frum originally came up with "axis of hatred," as reported before. Scully says he suggested changing it to "evil." He does not cite any examples of Gerson explicitly claiming the phrase as his own, pointing instead to news accounts attributing it to him that have gone uncorrected.
Evil has gnawed at him for years. Not actual evil, just the word "evil." He blurted it out 5 years ago. Why doesn't anyone know? Why doesn't anyone care?!!! I am the writer! See me! Feel me! They said "hatred," but I -- I! -- knew it should be "evil"! Evil! EEEEEEVILLLLLL! Ah ha ha ha ha.

The 10 millionth visitor arrived at 7:25 this morning.

I'm celebrating by writing this post before getting out of bed.

Who was it?
Domain Name:(Unknown)
IP Address: 71.190.11.64 (Unknown Organization)
ISP: Unknown ISP
Location
Continent: Unknown
Country: Unknown
Lat/Long: unknown
It's the Unknown Visitor. Like the Unknown Soldier or the Unknown Comic.



Bonus Gong Show clip:



And that's as good as it gets on the old Althouse blog.

August 10, 2007

If I Don't Get Out of Here I'll Die.

The Vlog!

"Now, it's certainly true that Linda Greenhouse isn't a fan of 'meta-coverage,' i.e., coverage of her coverage of the Court."

On first glance at that photo, I thought she was holding a dagger.
What we're hearing is that Linda Greenhouse wanted to be as free as possible to criticize the Supreme Court's recent turn to the right -- without having to worry about such pesky things as, you know, "impartiality"....

And criticize Greenhouse did, after she had the cameras killed. We understand that Linda Greenhouse had some not-so-nice things to say about the latest SCOTUS Term as a participant on the panel.

During the question-and-answer session, someone asked about the so-called "Greenhouse effect" -- LG's ability to influence the Court through her coverage (due to the desire of some justices, such as Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, to win favorable press in the New York Times). In response to this question, apparently Greenhouse said something along these lines: "I WISH I had more influence on the Court, given some of the decisions from this Term!"
ADDED: More here:
Greenhouse said that she had come prepared to speak to a “room of academics.” She added, “I didn’t want to have to modulate my comments for a national audience.”...

Perhaps the longtime Times reporter has grown wary of too much public attention because of the bad press she received last summer after a speech she gave at Radcliffe College....

At the very least, the public was denied the chance to listen in on what turned out to be an interesting discussion. And at worst, a New York Times reporter used the power that comes from being associated with the Times to prove nothing more than that she could get her way.

MORE: Slate's Jack Shafer notes the controversy and asks "Does a reporter have a duty to appear on C-Span?"
CJR's Beckerman writes that Greenhouse may have "used the power that comes from being associated with the Times to prove nothing more than that she could get her way." That speculation would have bite if somebody could prove, for example, that Greenhouse demands that Washington Week's producers serve only yellow M&Ms in its green room as a condition of appearing on the show. But they can't. Greenhouse can be stubborn, but I've never known her to lord it over others. Besides, what sort of diva agrees to appear gratis on a huge panel of colleagues to talk to a roomful of out-of-town academics about her profession? Case not proved.

Egg salad...

Is it wrong to do it this way?

"I've mostly stopped reading Ann Althouse, really."

TRex cannot stay out of the vortex... especially when it's baited with food.

And apparently, I give him "all-over creepy shivers, like someone just dumped a bag of live spiders over my naked thighs." I'm picturing chubby, pasty white thighs. No wonder he sympathizes with Bill Clinton so.

He riffs on what eggs mean to him. It's kind of wistful and sweet really. It sounds like the boy loves his mommy. Ooh, but not that way, no! He dips a little into homophobia territory... probably thinks it doesn't count when he does it. Oh, but it does! It does, T.

Oh, what the hell? Why not have a full-on flamewar? Ellen Goodman thinks we female bloggers aren't sufficiently warlike. And, anyway, I'm not afraid of the doughy little nerd. I faced him down in person. Check it out:

Bloggers

He's afraid to look. Compare how nice his co-blogger was.

Here, T! Here's some candy!

Candy hearts

Come on. Take some of my candy!!

Devil Girl candy bars

Don't be a baby! Fall into the vortex!

Baby and candy

IN THE COMMENTS: Joan writes:
The comments section over there is bizarre.

What an odd post. Why the excessive use of exclamation points and question marks? The speculation that Ann is a repressed lesbian is just bizarre, and also, obviously wrong. Ann is grossed out by eating egg salad, you moron! The idea of consuming the "female" symbol (as you've identified it) is abhorrent to her. If anything, that should prove that she's as hetero as they come.

As for the egg being a symbol for the female, I don't know where he got that one. I've always heard that eggs symbolize life, rebirth, springtime. I've never heard before that eggs are the symbol for the female, as if the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is strictly feminine, or under the control of females.

Wait -- did TRex make this association because they're sort of round, like onion rings, completely ignoring centuries of tradition as to what eggs really symbolize? Sheesh.
Teach that boy some Spanish, starting with huevos.

MORE FROM THE COMMENTS: Christy writes, quite aptly:
I thought his posting was funny. Even funnier is realizing he gets Althouse, but doesn't recognize it. He thinks the Fellini reference an insult? Am I wrong that part of the appeal here is blog-as-performance-art?

Boring comments, though. Althouse wins as a blog salon. The mantle of Madame de Stael rests lightly on her shoulders.
ADDED: The new vlog is -- once you get into it a ways -- about the TRex attack.

UPDATE: TRex falls into the vortex, and I respond here.

"Is Obama over?"

Bob and Mickey think so.

The link is to a segment of a Bloggingheads episode that's worth watching in its entirety, in part because Bob and Mickey are such great diavloggers, but also because they talk about me... twice. The first time is a teaser for a Bloggingheads that I've recorded, but which hasn't gone up yet and which might cause a big sensation. The second time is in the last segment, where Mickey gives Bob a pop culture quiz, and one question is "Jessica or Nick?" and the only Jessica that Bob can think of is Jessica Valenti, whom Mickey can't identify until Bob prompts with my name, at which point -- I think -- Mickey gives me some light support.

ADDED: A link at "teaser for a Bloggingheads" and, from it, a new quote for the masthead.

Any questions?

1067428958_7803091f09_o.jpg

Give me some subject matter and I just may vlog today... or even podcast...

ADDED: In the comments, Bissage notes a lamppost in my photo and suggests replacing it with this. Simon then produces this picture...

WOTWgarden.jpg

... and Palladian sends me the image with no lamppost, which I've swapped for my original.

Gender difference in the blogosphere... blah blah blah...

Ellen Goodman ponders the political blogosphere:
[T]he liberal political bloggers mimic the conservative talk-show hosts. The chief messengers are overwhelmingly men -- white men, even angry white men...

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos and namesake of the convention, said unabashedly in an ABC News interview last year, "I learned to talk the way I do in the US Army. And we don't mince words. In politics, I don't see it any different. I see it as a battlefield." The American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta, who was on the panel notes, wryly, "If you're an angry man you're righteous. If you're an angry woman, you're crazy or a bitch."
Hey, that's especially funny to me, since I once expressed anger at Garance Franke-Ruta and got called a crazy bitch!

Back to Goodman:
Is it harassment?... Who knows how many women are scared silent.

Is it because men raise their hands first in class?...
Goodman doesn't really have too much to say, but I note that she doesn't come up with one idea that's not about how men are a problem. Somehow women never have any shortcomings. It's really a shame, because if you're a woman, then there's nothing you can change about yourself to do better. But Goodman is just following that lame old rule of journalism about gender difference: men, bad; women, good.

ADDED: Captain Ed says:
Instead of actually acknowledging the blogosphere as an open market, Goodman tries to imply that the "new boy" network keeps women out through intimidation. "Who knows how many women are scared silent," she writes after describing two cases of harassment, only one of which actually chased the blogger out of political commentary. Does Goodman ever ask the obvious question of whether harassment happens to men as well? No. Nor does she reveal any evidence that either of these two cases have any link to a conspiracy by The Man to keep women in their place....

Women have all the access necessary to this market to join and excel, if they want to do so. That should be the limit of the concern over diversity in the blogosphere.

Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson at the gay issues forum.

The Democratic candidates all submitted to interrogation on gay issues. (The Republicans all declined.) Let me make two quick points -- one about Hillary Clinton and the other about Bill Richardson:

1. Hillary Clinton:
Perhaps the most personal question of the evening was posed to Sen. Hillary Clinton by [Melissa] Etheridge, who told Clinton that she had felt personally hurt and abandoned by the Clintons after President Bill Clinton's inauguration....

"I remember when your husband was elected president. I actually came out publicly during his inaugural week. It was a very hopeful time for the gay community. For the first time, we were being recognized as American citizens. It was wonderful. We were very, very hopeful, and in the years that followed, our hearts were broken. We were thrown under the bus. We were pushed aside. All those great promises that were made to us were broken. ... It is many years later now, and what are you going to do to be different than that? I know you're sitting here now; it's a year out -- more than a year. A year from now, are we going to be left behind like we were before?"

Excerpt of Clinton's response:

"Well, you know, obviously, Melissa, I don't see it quite the way that you describe, but I respect your feeling about it. ... I think that we certainly didn't get as much done as I would have liked, but I believe that there was a lot of honest effort going on by the president, the vice president and the rest of us who were trying to keep the momentum going."
There was a lot of honest effort going on by the President... Why does that seem so funny? It's not just that Bill Clinton and "honest" fit together so poorly or that "honest effort" might get us thinking about sex. It's the sheer strangeness of the locution. She could have said, most directly, the President tried. But she buffers Bill with a lot of mushy verbiage -- "I believe that there was a lot of honest effort going on" -- and with an amorphous set of helpers -- "the vice president and the rest of us." And there's this odd picture of a political activity as impersonal energy -- momentum -- that various groups of people might try to affect. Doesn't one person ever do something? I think we can gain some insight into the mind of Hillary Clinton by thinking deeply about the rhetoric in that one sentence.

Go back and reread Etheridge's words. Look how simple and straightforward they are by comparison. Well, you may think Hillary is smarter or Hillary has a much more difficult task, positioning herself just right for the primaries and the election. But Melissa should be prepared to have her heart broken all over again. Unless somehow the momentum decides to do something different next time.

2. Bill Richardson:
At least one candidate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, seemed to stumble when asked by Etheridge if he believed homosexuality was a choice or biological.

"It's a choice," he said at first. "I'm not a scientist. I don't see this as an issue of science or definition."

When pressed on the point that opponents of gay rights often assert that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, Richardson said, "I don't think it's a matter of preferences, I think it's a matter of equality."

His campaign later issued a statement "clarifying" his position: "Let me be clear -- I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice."
Was that really a "stumble"? Maybe Richardson did waltz into a forum on gay rights unprepared to deal with the most basic gay rights subjects. I seriously doubt that. He's no fool. So what's up? It's possible that he takes science seriously -- as opposed to ideologically -- and he's refraining from making declarations about things that he doesn't know to be scientific fact. It's possible that he may mean -- and I think this is the best position -- that even if homosexuality is a matter of choice -- "preferences" -- gay people deserve equal rights. But I suspect that Richardson is interested in maintaining the distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. People who care about gay rights ought to follow up on that, because it's the foundation for justifying discrimination.

"George Bush, leave this world alone." "George Bush, find yourself another home."

Pearl Jam lyrics -- sung to the tune of "The Wall" and censored by AT&T in a concert cybercast. AT&T apologizes and puts the uncensored version up. Pearl Jam says:
"What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call, and it's about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band," Pearl Jam said on its Web site.

"AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media," the band said.
This is such a great publicity opportunity for the old band that they must be secretly thanking AT&T. Otherwise, who'd notice this:



But, of course, they're right that the censorship is terrible. It's hard to understand how AT&T could be stupid enough to engage in it though. Could Pearl Jam have engineered it for the publicity? If you analyze things according to who benefits, the answer should be yes, but maybe the evil "corporations" are out to oppress us for no reason at all.

"I wanna be like Osama."

"Jihad, The Musical" -- the CNN report, the song:

August 9, 2007

"We wouldn't have invented a disease unless we had something to take for it."

Frightening -- foreboding -- line from a 1960s ad:

"If these people are still alive, I'm sure they're all sitting together. I'm sure they're all just trying to comfort each other."

"I'm sure they know people are trying to get to them."

The Egg Salad Sandwich Challenge.



(Background.)

ADDED: If TRex sent you, I answer him here.

Egg salad... 10 million....

Things happening on the blog today:

1. I'm preparing the egg salad sandwich vlog.

2. The Site Meter is getting precariously close to 10 million visitors. What am I going to do to mark the occasion? Surely, it can't be to eat an egg salad sandwich. Momentous though that is.

"First Father: Tough Times on Sidelines."

Is there any substance to this front-page NYT article about George H.W. Bush?

Trying to understand the blogger... it's like that Particle Pinball machine in the Physics building.

I am scrutinized.
Prof. Althouse is a blogger who gets bombarded by her readers and their comments. She is bombarded by other bloggers who post about her or the things about which she writes. She’s bombarded by her willingness to put herself and her thoughts “out in the open.” And like the rapid-fire air gun game, all of this bombardment helped me to begin the process of defining the shape of Ann Althouse. You see which posts get the most attention and which comments ricochet off or bounce back to another blog. You get to hear her opinions and how other people interpret those opinions.
Geeky!

Speaking of blogging and physics, remember that time I went over to the Physics building to do a presentation on blogging for the edification of the Chaos and Complex Systems seminar?

"Calls to Editor Franklin Foer at The New Republic in Washington were not returned..."

AP reports on the Beauchamp affair:
The Army said this week it had concluded an investigation of Beauchamp's claims and found them false.

"During that investigation, all the soldiers from his unit refuted all claims that Pvt. Beauchamp made in his blog," Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, a spokesman in Baghdad for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., said in an e-mail interview....

After the pieces were questioned, the magazine said it extensively re-reported his account, contacting dozens of people, including former soldiers, forensic experts, war reporters and Army public affairs officers.

The New Republic said it also spoke to five members of Beauchamp's company, all of whom corroborated Beauchamp's anecdotes but requested anonymity.
The boldface is mine. "All" is a strong word. Somebody is lying.
Bob Steele, the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at The Poynter Institute school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla., said granting a writer anonymity "raises questions about authenticity and legitimacy."

"Anonymity allows an individual to make accusations against others with impunity," Steele said. "In this case, the anonymous diarist was accusing other soldiers of various levels of wrongdoing that were, at the least, moral failures, if not violations of military conduct. The anonymity further allows the writer to sidestep essential accountability that would exist, were he identified."
A publisher has a special responsibility when it provides anonymity. This responsibility is magnified many times over when the writing works to undermine our commitment to the war and to break down our trust in the individuals who have devoted themselves to fighting that war for us. This responsibility is magnified again when one of the things anonymity hides is the fact that the anonymous writer has an inside connection to the publisher. (Beauchamp is married to a woman who works at TNR.)

TNR's silence is deathly.

UPDATE: TNR breaks the silence:
[I]t is our understanding that Beauchamp continues to stand by his stories and insists that he has not recanted them. The Army, meanwhile, has refused our requests to see copies of the statements it obtained from Beauchamp--or even to publicly acknowledge that they exist....

Part of our integrity as journalists includes standing by a writer who has been accused of wrongdoing and who is not able to defend himself. But we also want to reassure our readers that our obligations to our writer would never trump our commitment to the truth. We once again invite the Army to make public Beauchamp's statements and the details of its investigation--and we ask the Army to let us (or any other media outlet, for that matter) speak to Beauchamp. Unless and until these things happen, we cannot fairly assess any of these reports about Beauchamp--and therefore have no reason to change our own assessment of Beauchamp's work. If the truth ends up reflecting poorly on our judgment, we will accept responsibility for that. But we also refuse to rush to judgment on our writer or ourselves.

"Meat is no longer murder.... meat is strategy."

To attract men -- it's all about attracting men! -- women now eat -- look out, it's a NYT Style piece! -- steak!
Ms. Wilkie was a vegetarian in her teens, and even wore a “Meat Is Murder” T-shirt. But by her 30s, she had started eating cow. By the time she placed the personal ad, she had come to realize that ordering steak on a first date had the potential to sate appetites not only of the stomach but of the heart.

Red meat sent a message that she was “unpretentious and down to earth and unneurotic,” she said, “that I’m not obsessed with my weight even though I’m thin, and I don’t have any food issues.” She added, “In terms of the burgers, it said I’m a cheap date, low maintenance.”

Salad, it seems, is out. Gusto, medium rare, is in.

Restaurateurs and veterans of the dating scene say that for many women, meat is no longer murder. Instead, meat is strategy. “I’ve been shocked at the number of women actually ordering steak,” said Michael Stillman, vice president of concept development for the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, which opened the restaurant Quality Meats in April 2006 on West 58th Street. He said Quality Meats’ contemporary design and menu, including extensive seafood offerings, were designed to attract more women than a traditional steakhouse. “But the meat is appealing to them, much more than what I saw two or three years ago at our other restaurants,” Mr. Stillman said. “They are going for our bone-in sirloin and our cowboy-cut rib steak.”
Let me number my thoughts:

1. Is one of the "concepts" Mr. Stillman has "developed" getting newspapers to run articles that promote steak restaurants to women? He's already got the steak restaurant designed for women, based on what looks like the longstanding problem of women shunning steak restaurants and thinking men who pick them as the site for a date aren't very considerate.

2. I can attest to the fact that editors have been telling women for decades that men will find them appealing if they eat with "gusto." I'm sure I read this dating advice in Glamour and Mademoiselle back in the 1960s. Don't pick at your food. Demonstrate your joie de vivre and your sexual prowess with enthusiastic cheeseburger gnawing.

3. "Bone-in sirloin and our cowboy-cut rib steak" -- don't forget the bone. Symbolic messaging via steak works best with the bone in.

4. Order the onion rings too. They will drive him mad with passion. That's not in the article. That's just my advice, girls. Women who stress heathy veggies... they're not as womanly as you.

4. Is Stillman related to Dr. Irwin Stillman, author of "The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet," the 1967 book that was all about dieting by eating only protein. You couldn't even eat any starches, any fruits or vegetables -- not even lettuce -- and the only cheese permitted was cottage cheese or farmer's cheese, but you could eat all the fish and meat you wanted. So if you want to go out for a nice dinner, you know where you have to go: a steakhouse.

5. "I’m not obsessed with my weight even though I’m thin" -- I'm sure that's true of Ms. Wilkie, but I'm also sure that's what all the anorexics say.

Back to the article:
In an earlier era, conventional dating wisdom for women was to eat something at home alone before a date, and then in company order a light dinner to portray oneself as dainty and ladylike. For some women, that is still the practice. “It’s better not to have a jalape├▒o fajita plate, especially on the first date,” said Andrea Bey, 28, who sells video surveillance equipment in Irving, Tex., and describes herself as “curvy.” “You don’t want to be labeled as ‘princess gassy’ on the first date.”

But others, especially those who are thin, say ordering a salad displays an unappealing mousiness.
Yeah, the fat girls -- you can find them in Texas -- are only worried about farting. The thin girls -- who are not equipment salespersons but editors -- have higher level strategic thinking:
“It seems wimpy, insipid, childish,” said Michelle Heller, 34, a copy editor at TV Guide. “I don’t want to be considered vapid and uninteresting.”

Ordering meat, on the other hand, is a declarative statement, something along the lines of “I am woman, hear me chew.”
You have to be thin but disguise all the traits that keep you thin. Chomp into that meat -- it's a great way to say you're interesting.
In fact, red meat on a date has become such an effective statement of self-acceptance that even a vegetarian like Sloane Crosley, a publicist at Random House, sometimes longs to order a burger.

“Being a vegetarian puts you at a disadvantage,” Ms. Crosley said. “You’re in the most basic category of finicky. Even women who order chicken, it isn’t enough.” She said she has thought of ordering shots of J├Ągermeister, famous for its frat boy associations, to prove that she is “a guy’s girl.”
"I am woman," indeed.
“Everyone wants to be the girl who drinks the beer and eats the steak and looks like Kate Hudson,” Ms. Crosley, 28, said.
The NYT can't recommend bulimia, but you must be living in some obscure town named Irving if you can't read between the lines there.
Not all red meat, apparently, is equal in the dating world. The mediums of steak and hamburger each send a different message. Dropping into conversation the fact that steaks of Kobe beef come from Wagyu cattle, but that not all steaks sold as Wagyu are Kobe beef, demonstrates one’s worldliness, said Gabriella Gershenson, a dining editor at Time Out New York. It holds the same currency today that being able to name Hemingway’s four wives held in an earlier era.
Wagyu. The boys love it when you say Wagyu. Wagyu.
Hamburgers, she added, say you are down-to-earth, which is why women rarely order those deluxe hamburgers priced as high as a porterhouse.

“They’re created for men who want to impress women, so they order the $60 burger, then they let the woman taste it,” Ms. Gershenson said. “The man gets to show off his expertise and show that he can afford it.”
The symbolism is complex, no? So the man has something the woman lacks, and there's something about it that will make her want to taste it, and he'll let her. But come on, where's the "expertise" here? The restaurant has hamburgers for men who want hamburgers, but you can't go to this place and not pay full price for the meal, so it's $60. The man is an "expert" at spending money. Now, the "concept development vice president" who gets the editors to repeat this theory, he's got some expertise.

The end of the article gets around to the subject of what women think of a man who wants to eat steak and quotes one woman saying, "It crosses my mind they’ll probably die early." The suggestion is that this is a bad thing: "Gentlemen, be careful. Real men, it seems, must eat kale." Like there aren't women who date rich old guys and think, good, he'll go quickly.

August 8, 2007

Untitled.

DSC03606.JPG

I hate to say anything bad about Apple, and I love the iPhone... but...

My iPhone self-destructed in less than a week. The good news is that I went right over to the Apple Store and with absolutely no hassle whatsoever was given a new phone. Nevertheless, it's disconcerting. On about the third day of use I noticed that one area along the bottom of the touch-screen did not feel the touch, and the insensitive area grew over the next day until the entire bottom row of the screen had become numb. I followed the on-line troubleshooting, which involved resetting and reinstalling everything, to no effect. The woman at the "Genius Bar" in the store listened to that and immediately decided I should get a new phone. "Are you seeing this a lot?" I asked. No answer. A while later, I asked "Have you seen this before?" and got a "yes." Looking on line, I'm not finding anything about this problem. Maybe it was a complete fluke, but I thought I'd write it up in case anyone else is having a problem, and also to prove that I'm not just a complete pushover for Apple.

I still love the phone, though!

UPDATE: Apple Insider has an article on the problem.

Eating an egg salad sandwich for $200.

I said I'd never eaten an egg salad sandwich and that you'd have to pay me $200 to eat an egg salad sandwich, so people gave me $200 and now I'm essentially obligated to eat an egg salad sandwich. Has anything like this ever happened before in all of blogdom?

Camille Paglia frames the question well.

"Why was Clinton campaign advisor Ann Lewis (sister of Barney Frank) so addled and strangely superheated by the Washington Post's whimsical meditation on the saggy Hillary cleavage that she instantly turned it into a crass cash come-on?"

Come on, everybody, let's brainstorm terrorism.

Steven D. Levitt -- whose Freakonomics blog is now on the NYT website -- applies his thinking skills to the enterprise of plotting terrorism! He identifies the goals: "what really inspires fear... is the thought that they could be a victim of an attack... I’d want to do something that everybody thinks might be directed at them... try to stop commerce... [and motivate] the government to pass a bundle of very costly laws...." And he thinks "simpler is better."
[T]he best terrorist plan I have heard is one that my father thought up after the D.C. snipers created havoc in 2002. The basic idea is to arm 20 terrorists with rifles and cars, and arrange to have them begin shooting randomly at pre-set times all across the country. Big cities, little cities, suburbs, etc. Have them move around a lot....

I’m sure many readers have far better ideas. I would love to hear them. Consider that posting them could be a form of public service....
Or not!

IN THE COMMENTS: From Palladian:
Here's a good one: Let's arrange to drop a giant anvil from the top of the New York Times building onto Steven J. Leavitt's head! No pop economist is safe!

MORE: There's a discussion of the Leavitt post at Metafilter. A funny comment:
[I]f I were a terrorist, I'd hack into electronic voting machines and rig it so that Ron Paul wins the election. That'd be sh*t-your-pants terrifying.
A serious one:
I think Levitt fails to understand the motivation behind the al Qaeda attacks. They are not designed to scare us, but to glorify al Qaeda in the Islamic world, to show that Islam is not impotent in its battles. They are show and the audience is Islamic. The attacks give legitimacy to the organization and over reaction in retaliation helps their recruiting. The bigger the attack the bigger the effect. A bunch of pot shots in the heartland may scare the people here but won't play big in the Islamic world.
We forget that the people we call terrorists actually have their own system of beliefs. Their willingness -- eagerness -- to do one evil thing does not mean they are willing to do anything. Levitt goes part of the way toward thinking like a terrorist, but he blinds himself to the fact that they conceive of themselves as virtuous.

F-Cup Cookie.

If only there were a magic cookie that would cause you to put on fat only in the breasts. But what's weirder, that or the way we are love fat only when it's there?

"There is a cloud over the New Republic, but there's one hanging over the Army, as well."

"Each investigated this and cleared themselves, but they both have vested interests."

From the WaPo's piece on the Beauchamp affair, that's a quote from journalism prof Mark Feldstein

Jada's Soul Fool.

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Jada's Soul Food? I went with Nichole and JM who write this blog where they are going to every single restaurant in Madison in alphabetical order. They were in the beginning of the Js when they asked me if I'd like to go, and I picked -- from among the early Js -- Jada's Soul Food. They tried to get me to give letter grades to the food, but I couldn't do it. I'll just say that if you're in Madison and want deep-fried things -- chicken, catfish, pork chops -- and a choice of side dishes from collard greens to spaghetti, Jada's is a great place to drive up for take out. To eat in, it's very informal:

Jada's Soul Food

Jada's Soul Food

One of the owners was doing the frying and serving, and we had a nice talk with her. (She is extremely personable!) We talked about fixing the air conditioning, which was broken on a very hot day, and she was trying to decide whether it was better to put money into improving the place or moving to another location. It is on an out of the way street, but you'll find it -- and because it's over where you're unlikely to drive by and notice it, it's perfectly easy to park. And take out. But it can be fun to eat in, if it's not too hot a day, and if you like the bar-style atmosphere. (This used to be a bar, as you might have guessed.)

Anyway, check out John and Nichole's blog. Reading their post about this, I realized how hard it is to write about food. Imagine forcing yourself to go to all the restaurants in alphabetical order. But I love the idea for a blog. You could do it in your town, if you like practicing the difficult art of writing about food (which John and Nichole accomplish without showing the strain).

And, no, the spaghetti wasn't exactly good, from an adult perspective, but I'm sure that side dish would make one of your young kids happy. There is a macaroni and cheese "side dish" too -- another thing that I think would provide a whole meal for a child -- while you eat the fried chicken. Or the fried pork chop. When's the last time you had a deep-fried pork chop?

August 7, 2007

"There are folks out there who will try and discredit you...."

"... and if anybody in this room thinks we don't have infiltrators, well you are probably still waiting for the Easter bunny.... As a matter of fact I know for certain... that one of them is in this room right now."

Oh, lord, I would have been in the room too if I'd known the 9/11 "truthers" were doing a conference here in Madison.
This conference was organized by the Scholars for 9/11 Truth, or at least one version of them. The Madison event at the Radisson hotel was orchestrated by James Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer with a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science.

Six months ago, Fetzer parted ways with Steven Jones, the man Fetzer asked to co-chair the organization, who accused Fetzer of allowing the group to wander into the realm of science fiction. Jones now maintains his own group, which vehemently denies any association with Fetzer's methods.

"I consider myself to be in the mold of Sherlock Holmes," Fetzer told the crowd. "When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, no matter now improbable, is the truth."

One of the participants trying to keep things calm was Kevin Barrett, whose inclusion of 9/11 in his curriculum on Islam in a course he taught at UW-Madison caused quite a controversy.

Barrett, who no longer teaches the course, took the stage to try and express his concerns about the public image of the movement.

"I think we need to focus on conviviality in this movement," he declared. "We 're not the miserable paranoids people think."
Barrett was the voice of reason. Conspiracy conviviality -- that's what's needed.
Saturday's lunch included a free sandwich bar...
There's no such thing as a free sandwich.
Saturday focused on many of the more popular theories, beginning with inconsistencies at the site of the Pentagon crash and moving on to a controlled demolition of the towers. By Sunday the conference had covered weather control, weapons from space, and the idea that the planes that struck the towers never existed at all.

Fetzer, in his closing remarks before lunch, declared the conference a sterling example of open scientific discourse. "I feel as though we 're right back at JFK," said Fetzer. "We're down the rabbit hole again."
Yes, yes, now go get your sandwich. Eat, drink, and be merry. Merry and paranoid.

Killing TimesSelect.

Yay!
The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned....

While other online publications were abandoning subscriptions, the Times took the opposite approach in 2005 and began charging for access to well-known writers, including Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and Thomas L. Friedman.

The decision, which also walled off access to archives and other content, was controversial almost from the start, with some of the paper's own columnists complaining that it limited their Web readership.
It was always such a bad idea. Why did they even persist this long? It's been so annoying not to be able to link to things, and I even cut down on reading the things I couldn't link to. It was particularly absurd that they put their bloggers behind the wall. But the ultimate absurdity for me was writing a guest column and not being able to link to my own column.

"Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe."

The whole "egg salad sandwich challenge" got me thinking about "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe":



If you don't know what the egg salad sandwich challenge is, watch the last part of last night's vlog... and check the sidebar.

You'll say Herzog does it for art, but Althouse is doing it for commerce. And also, it's much harder to eat a shoe than an egg salad sandwich. I concede that it's harder to eat a shoe, but not that I'm doing it for the money rather than art. It was for art that I made that list of 10 Things I've Never Done. And it was for art that I put a price tag on doing various things that I don't want to do. That's for art both because: 1. it's a writing riff and 2. the first thing I wrote about needing a particular amount of money to do was to go see some awful theatrical production. #1 is doing art -- not necessarily the high quality art. #2 is taking a firm stand against low quality art. Now that people are actually offering me the money, it's true that I'm taking the money, but I do see the acceptance of the money as performance art. And, of course, eating the egg salad sandwich -- on YouTube -- will be performance art.

And remember: "Our civilization doesn't have adequate images."

Bonus images:



So Charlie Chaplin ate a shoe for art.... or made art out of our feelings about eating a shoe. In fact, he was eating a prop made of licorice. But I won't cheat. I won't cheat because: 1. I'm taking real money, 2. I can't think of anything that would look like egg salad and not be more disgusting, and 3. any art that may come from this depends on my reacting to actual egg salad.

"Did Scott Thomas Beauchamp lie under oath to U.S. Army investigators, or did he lie to his editors at the New Republic?"

Asks Michael Goldfarb:
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source.

Separately, we received this statement from Major Steven F. Lamb, the deputy Public Affairs Officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad:
An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims.
According to the military source, Beauchamp's recantation was volunteered on the first day of the military's investigation. So as Beauchamp was in Iraq signing an affidavit denying the truth of his stories, the New Republic was publishing a statement from him on its website on July 26, in which Beauchamp said, "I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name."
Amazing, but not really amazing. It's easy to see how things like this happen. Beauchamp is a gifted writer, with a point of view and raw material. If the Weekly Standard's report is true, it means that Beauchamp -- who could have published a novel, perhaps an excellent one -- is also a man who subverted his own work by calling it true and making it a lie -- not fiction, but a lie. The motivations are not hard to fathom. He gained access to The New Republic -- which gave him stature and an instant readership.

It's also easy to see how The New Republic succumbed. The writing was sharp, the man was on the scene where he could witness important events, and he was speaking in a voice they wanted to project. Why weren't they more afraid of being duped? Was it because he was saying what they wanted to be true, giving weight to their arguments against the war? (Here's the lead story over there right now.) Maybe they thought they were protected from the suicidal blunder of getting taken in by another Stephen Glass because they were publishing the writing not as a news article but as a "diary."

Let's look back at Stephen Glass:
“My life was one very long process of lying and lying again, to figure out how to cover those other lies,” says Glass....

Glass' main job was at The New Republic, a distinguished magazine with a 90-year history of publishing political and social commentary. It also has a reputation for discovering young, talented writers like Glass.

He was editor of his college newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania and joined The New Republic as an editorial assistant in 1995. Not long afterward he was assigned to write a story on an arcane piece of Washington legislation. He thought it needed sprucing up and a serial liar was born.

“I remember thinking, ‘If I just had the exact quote that I wanted to make it work, it would be perfect.’ And I wrote something on my computer, and then I looked at it, and I let it stand. And then it ran in the magazine and I saw it. And I said to myself what I said every time these stories ran, ‘You must stop. You must stop.’ But I didn't.”

“I loved the electricity of people liking my stories. I loved going to story conference meetings and telling people what my story was going to be, and seeing the room excited. I wanted every story to be a home run.”...

“Everything around him turned out to be incredibly vivid or zany or in some other way memorable,” says [TNR literary editor Leon] Wieselteir. “And at the meetings, we used to wait for Steve's turn, so that he could report on his next caper. We got really suckered.”...

“I would tell a story, and there would be fact A, which maybe was true. And then there would be fact B, which was sort of partially true and partially fabricated. And there would be fact C which was more fabricated and almost not true,” says Glass.

“And there would be fact D, which was a complete whopper. And totally not true. And so people would be with me on these stories through fact A and through fact B. And so they would believe me to C. And then at D they were still believing me through the story.”
Read that whole article: Glass went to some trouble to beat the fact checkers. Here's some analysis in The Columbia Journalism Review about how TNR fell for Glass:
[T]he truth is Glass gamed the system, and brilliantly. He'd often submit stories late to the checkers so they were pressed for time. When they questioned his material, [TNR editor Charles] Lane says, Glass would provide forged faxes on fake letterheads of phony organizations, as well as fictitious notes, even voice mail or actual calls from people pretending to be sources....

Shouldn't all the unnamed sources, obscure organizations, and wild scenes viewed only by the writer have been another tip-off? "I've searched my soul and asked, "Why didn't my bullshit meter go off?" says Lane. "But it's hilarious. By the time I got there so many wild stories had run and seemingly stood up, I trusted him."

Some journalists see in Glass the dark side of a new magazine journalism that puts a premium on sensationalism and style....

But those who knew Glass insist that his story is more about one rotten apple. After all, many writers are under pressure and don't make stuff up....

If there is any value to the saga of what may be the biggest hoax in modern American journalistic history, it's that it has many journalists asking questions about their checking systems.
Asking questions... and then blowing it, all over again. You'd think, after Glass, TNR would be exceedingly careful when confronted with vivid writing with great quotes and anecdotes. Yet somehow, it seems to have gotten less careful. There's this notion that war makes the soldiers crazy. Journalists love it. Beauchamp reinforced it. It appears that war makes journalists crazy.

There's plenty of commentary following on the Goldfarb piece.

Like me, Mark Steyn thinks of Glass: "[TNR] made the same mistakes all over again - falling for pat cinematic vividness, pseudo-novelistic dialogue, all designed to confirm prejudices so ingrained the editors didn't even recognize they were being pandered to. But this time they did it in war, which is worse."

Roger L. Simon says: "Fact-checking, in my experience, is a big lie. It barely exists in the mainstream media."

Cathy Young is skeptical of the notion that TNR fell for Beauchamp because of his antagonism to the war:
Is I recall, Beauchamp was recommended to TNR by his fiancee Elspeth Reeve, a staffer at the magazine. It's not as if the magazine went looking for a soldier to write "Diarist" pieces. I do think that, to a large extent, Beauchamp was given a platform because he was someone the TNR editors saw as "one of us": a guy with a background in creative writing and journalism, as well as a Howard Dean supporter. I think it's also fair to say that the first Diarist piece, while not negative toward American troops in Iraq, showed them as mired in bleak and awful futility: at the end, Beauchamp reflects on his feelings of helplessness at his inability to protect the boy. So in that sense, it certainly fits into the current world-view at TNR. On the other hand, it could also be read as implying that if we withdraw from Iraq, we will leave the population in the hands of people who cut out children's tongues to make a point.
Hugh Hewitt calls TNR editor Frank Foer "the Dan Rather of the political magazine world, a laughing stock caught up in trying to publicly maintain an obvious lie as truth." He wants a head to roll.

On the left, one theory has it that the army coerced a false confession out of Beauchamp.

And John Cole somehow winds up "now, more than ever, convinced that a certain segment of the Republican party and the right wing blogosphere is certifiably insane." Okaaaay...

Responding on the right is Uncle Jimbo:
So as it turns out US troops are not heartless barbarians and that far too many people on the left can't accept that. Well from one of those barbarians who just happens to have more humanitarian and disaster assistance work under his belt than any of the smirking elite sitting around the table at Franklin "Which way is the door?" Foer's editorial meetings, F**k you very much! You finished what Glass started, and may this serve as a lesson to the many other supposed honest media sources, your agenda is pitifully obvious and your tactics so childishly unsophisticated that I almost feel guilty smacking you around. But I will, and I hope it stings.
Enough for now. Suffice it to say there's a big fight on.

UPDATE: TNR responds:
We've talked to military personnel directly involved in the events that Scott Thomas Beauchamp described, and they corroborated his account as detailed in our statement. When we called Army spokesman Major Steven F. Lamb and asked about an anonymously sourced allegation that Beauchamp had recanted his articles in a sworn statement, he told us, "I have no knowledge of that." He added, "If someone is speaking anonymously [to The Weekly Standard], they are on their own." When we pressed Lamb for details on the Army investigation, he told us, "We don't go into the details of how we conduct our investigations."
Goldfarb responds to that:
(1) They neglected to report that the Army has concluded its investigation and found Beauchamp's stories to be false. As Major Lamb, the very officer they quote, has said in an authorized statement: "An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims."

(2) Does the failure of the New Republic to report the Army's conclusions mean that the editors believe the Army investigators are wrong about Beauchamp?

(3) We have full confidence in our reporting that Pvt Beauchamp recanted under oath in the course of the investigation. Is the New Republic claiming that Pvt Beauchamp made no such admission to Army investigators? Is Beauchamp?

August 6, 2007

Mysterious photograph.

IMG_0081.JPG

Mysterious photograph wants you to say what I should vlog about. In 26 minutes.

UPDATE: Sorry, I had a major distraction, but now, hours later, the vlog is done and uploading. Watch this space. It will be up in mere minutes.

ADDED: Finally:

"But then Ned Lamont kicked Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party."

Biggest applause line -- to my ear -- in Kos's keynote address at YearlyKos. Context:
Just a year ago, we were a freakish curiosity.

I stood before you at the first YearlyKos conference and declared that we “had arrived”.

People snickered and mocked me.
Those reporters at the back of the room.
They were laughing at me.
They were laughing at us.

But then Ned Lamont kicked Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party.
Video at the link. This part is at about 4:20.

The failure of the Democratic Party to include Joe Lieberman is an endless problem for me and -- I hope -- for many other longtime Democratic voters who care about national security. It's one thing to oppose Lieberman in the primary because there's someone else who's more to your liking. It's quite another to jubilate about narrowing the scope of the party and kicking people out of it and especially to exclude a historically important contingency -- liberal hawks -- that you might want to claim credit for some day. Looking at what happened in Congress over the weekend and at the growing support for the surge, I think Democrats may be approaching the time when they'll want to talk about that part of their tradition.

Did she pull "a Britney" or "a Natalie"?

I don't know but I think she looks great.

Who knows what lies at the end of an Instapundit link?

Followed this one. Landed here. Interesting photo....

If only I could think of something to say about it....

Pencil in head for 55 years.

Finally removed.
Margret Wegner fell over carrying the pencil when she was four. It punctured her cheek and part of it went into her brain, above the right eye.

The 59-year-old has suffered headaches and nosebleeds for most of her life.

Surgeons in Berlin were able to remove most of the pencil in a two-hour operation, but a 2cm section was so embedded it was impossible to remove....

"The central part of the foreign body was encapsulated in soft tissue and was not causing the patient any harm, so it was safe to leave it"....
Oh, hell! They didn't even take it all out. She's still got pencil in her head.

Quite aside from the pain and other damage, what about the very idea that you have a pencil in your head? I once had an embroidery needle completely inside my foot -- don't ask... it involved dancing barefoot on an old hardwood floor -- and the idea was terribly upsetting. And that was only for one evening. I can't imagine how much it would affect a person's life to have a pencil in the head for 55 years.

AND: From a tip in the comments...



As they say: "The Simpsons" got there first.

"The 'Lesser Perfesser' makes a case for strong opinions and instant chatter."

Here's a little piece on law blogging I wrote for The Legal Times, which I see is linkable as republished in The Texas Lawyer. I didn't write the above-quoted headline, but the term "Lesser Perfesser" does come up in the article. I talk about getting called crazy, and that makes me want to point out this discussion in the comments on today's first post, which links to my colleague's blog. A commenter called Teune writes:
[The linked blog] has caught my eye on more than one occasion too. The photos are quite nice. I worry about this kind of pseudo-intimate blogging however. For one, it gives the distinct impression that she is never at her job, or that she is employed by the taxpayers of Wisconsin to travel Europe, sampling the wares of every "quaint" cafe and market in existence. (Presumably, this is incorrect? Ann would know.) All it would take is the "right" Wisconsin legislator getting wind of this. It's scary.
I respond:
She works really hard, in fact. A really lazy professor would do anything but this. Think about the motivations.

I mean, what if I wrote one post a day and it was just about something I saw on TV. You might think: Hey, that lawprof just spends the whole day watching TV. But obviously, I could accomplish that feat of blogging in less than an hour a day -- in a lot less time than other people are spending just watching TV inertly.

I know blogging exaggerates how things look. So, if I hold a glass of wine in a photo -- I'm seen as a drunk! Yet, if you think about it, you'd realize that if I were actually a drunk, I would use a different picture.

And if I indulge in an offbeat locution, people call me insane. But if I were really afraid I might be insane, I'd take care to write conventional sentences that spelled out one thing after another with conspicuous logic.
Teune again:
That was my point. I like the blog and don't know the author, but academic blogs in this mode sort of make me queasy about their effects on those who aren't enamored with our hallowed university. Blogging about what you watch on tv seems a different animal than blogging about something that might just provoke resentment: "Wait, I'm toiling away through the dark WI winter as the State Rep. from Cheeseboro (R) and this person is off in the south of France...again...and in the middle of the term?!?!" Again, makes me a bit queasy.

Caption contest!



(Photo by Doug Mills. Click here for full size and here to read the NYT article.)

Let's get small.

I saw the notice the other day saying that The New York Times was going to get a little smaller, but reading today's paper, the first smaller one, it didn't register until I got to the editorial page. Then: shock! Only 2 columns of letters instead of 3! The editorials look huge and dominating. I've always liked the letters. I read many more letters than editorials.

The editors try to mollify us:
The available space for letters in print has been reduced by about a third.

Online, we present a bigger sampling of letters on subjects of greatest reader interest. And we will run other letters that were selected for publication but for which there was no room in the print version.

... [A]ll letters will be archived and become part of The Times's permanent record.
It feels like the first step toward the seemingly inevitable day when there will be no paper version.

You know I still feel bad about the downsizing of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. What great fashion magazines these were back in the 1970s when they were huge and you could see what was in the photographs. What's the point of getting fabulous models and clothes and lighting and poses for a Newsweek-sized format?

But the effect of shrinking the NYT is almost nothing... until you get to the editorial page. I can't shake the feeling that the editors are encroaching on the letter writers.

Coincidentally, I'm going to cancel my print subscription when I move to Brooklyn. (Soon!) I can't picture "home delivery" when living in an apartment. And if I have to pick it up on the newsstand, will I ever do that? I've gradually been shifting to reading only on line anyway. I used to dive right into the paper ever morning... and then turn to my blog. But over the years of blogging, I've transitioned to going onto the blog first and reading all sorts of things on line before coming around to the paper. Sometimes, now, the paper sits there all day, unopened. Instead of the old eagerness about reading the paper first thing in the morning, I feel the physical object is chiding me. I don't like physical objects chiding me.

Please, NYT, don't take this personally. It's not because you got small. It's not you. It's me.

"The Republican candidates for president used a nationally televised morning debate to mock Democrats..."

As if somehow all these rivals coalesced into a Democrat-destroying machine. Oh! It's so unfair!

"This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program."

Law signed.

Much outcry.

Kevin Drum states the objection well:
All they have to do is claim that the real target is the foreigner and that a "significant purpose" of the eavesdropping is related to intelligence gathering. Not terrorism, mind you, just intelligence generically. What's more, they don't even have to go to the minimal trouble of making that claim to a court. They can just make it and approve it themselves.

So that's that. The government is now legally allowed to monitor all your calls overseas with only the most minimal oversight. But don't worry. I'm sure they'll never misuse this power. They never have before, have they?
But everyone who voted for the law -- including many Democrats -- understood this and saw greater weight on the other side of the argument. Why?

ADDED: Here's some well-worded bloggage:
“Do Nothing”, “New Democratic Congress” Finally Does “Something”…

And, thanks for NOTHING…

JERKS.
That's from Gun-Toting Liberal, who goes on to riff about Congress's 3% approval rating on its handling of the war.

I love the kind of personal blogging that seems intimate...

... but really tells you nothing personal. If you think you can see in between the slightly tilted slats in the blinds, you still don't know it's not your own reflection.

August 5, 2007

An evening walk around the neighborhood.

Carrying only the iPhone, listening to a playlist I call "Fondness," I take this photo at the top of the hill before darkness sets in:

IMG_0060.JPG

The song in the earbuds is "Across the Universe" and then, "Cabin Essence."

Later, working my back toward home, it's dark now:

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The song is "Daniel" and then "I Feel Free."

Coffee.

Before:

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During:

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After:

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Earmark transparency...

= earmark pride.

"He's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week."

Mitt Romney takes a fine jab at Obama at today's debate:
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois... said recently he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Cuba, North Korea and Iran in his first year in office, and declared in a speech he would order military action to capture terrorists in Pakistan if that nation's president did not.

"I mean, in one week he went from saying he's going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he's going to bomb our allies," said Romney. "I mean, he's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week."
Giuliani had a good quote too:
"In four debates, not a single Democrat said the word, 'Islamic terrorists.' Now that is taking political correctness to extreme."
(And I'm totally surprised to read that there was another debate. I am constantly paying attention to the news and want to watch all the debates, yet I knew nothing of this one. How do they expect normal people to notice?)

Embedded YouTube videos don't appear on the iPhone.

Even though the iPhone has an icon on the home screen that connects directly to YouTube and the videos play gorgeously on the clear, bright screen, embedded videos don't even appear! You just see a picture of a block!
In case you haven’t heard the news, the reason embedded YouTube videos don’t work in Mobile Safari is because it doesn’t bundle the Adobe Flash plugin, Lite or otherwise. Users also can’t download it, install it, or otherwise upgrade to the latest version.
They ought to fix that quickly!

I'm wondering if this is a hint for why Safari on my laptop won't play embedded video (or will sometimes play it once but not twice). Works on Firefox -- but I still prefer Safari.

UPDATE: I tried installing Flash, but I still can't play embedded video in Safari on my laptop.

IN THE COMMENTS: Why the iPhone limitation makes sense and is temporary.

David Bowie and "Flight of the Conchords."

Since David Bowie popped up for almost no reason in the previous post, I thought I'd talk about how much I like the new HBO show "Flight of the Conchords" where David Bowie just popped up in Bret's dream:



Then, later, Bowie's in space:



Questions raised/issues spotted:

1. Do you like "Flight of the Conchords"?

2. What are some other songs about space? We've already implicitly cited this one:



And there's "Rocket Man." I was just listening to Elton John's "Rocket Man" the other day on my iPhone and thinking about William Shatner's "Rocket Man," when I walked through an archway into a courtyard and happened upon a gamelan performance. That was rather spacey.

3. Bret or Jemaine?

4. Hey, Mr. Spaceman, won't you please take me along for a ride?



5. What are the top 10 reasons why stories of alien abduction must be false?

6. Did you know that that the lyrics to "Mr. Spaceman" contain a key word for answering question #1 in the previous post?

"World is lucky to have Bob Dylan and his voice."

I'm a little pleased with myself for knowing why it's funny to phrase it that way. That is, I see a reference to a Dylan song in that headline to a column about a Mojo Magazine list of the 100 Greatest Bob Dylan Tracks. ("How good do you have to be to have a list of your 100 greatest songs?")
Mojo’s critics picked the following Dylan songs for their top 10: 1. “Like A Rolling Stone,” 2. “Positively 4th Street,” 3. “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands,” 4. “Desolation Row,” 5. “Blind Willie McTell,” 6. “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” 7. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” 8. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” 9. “Mississippi,” 10. “Just Like A Woman.”

Mojo’s readers picked these 10: 1. “Like a Rolling Stone,” 2. “Desolation Row,” 3. “Visions of Johanna,” 4. “Mr. Tambourine Man,” 5. “Tangled Up In Blue,” 6. “Positively 4th Street,” 7. “Idiot Wind,” 8. “Blind Willie McTell,” 9. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” 10. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

It looks like the critics and readers agreed on five.

Now let’s look at Uncut Magazine’s list that came out in 2002: 1. “Like A Rolling Stone,” 2. “Tangled Up In Blue,” 3. “Visions Of Johanna,” 4. “A Hard Rains Gonna Fall,” 5. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” 6. “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” 7. “Desolation Row,” 8. “I Want You,” 9. “Idiot Wind,” 10. “Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands.”

What do you think? Do you agree or not? What are your favorite Dylan songs?

Don’t ask me. Two of my favorites “If Not For You” (64) and “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” (100) didn’t even make the top 50 on the Mojo readers’ list.

I am really not very good at picking top 10 lists when it comes to music. It always seems to be a struggle for me.

I guess that I am just too much of a music fan to make up my mind. It also depends on what day it is.
I'm always looking for "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat."



Maybe I just like the fashion theme. What are the great songs about fashion? And I mean songs with lyrics that focus on a particular item (or items) of clothing. So don't all of you just shout out this one:



A good answer for this assignment would be "Raspberry Beret." But you don't have to restrict yourself to hats.

And don't slight the other questions raised here:

1. What Dylan song does the headline refer to?

2. "What are your favorite Dylan songs?"

3. "How good do you have to be to have a list of your 100 greatest songs?" -- i.e., which other artists are worthy of a list of 100 greatest songs?

4. How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand? And what does it sound like when doves cry?

5. What was the question I had here under point #5 that I had to take out because I just don't want that much trouble?

6. And lest you've forgotten: What are the great songs about articles of clothing?

Now, go get dressed!

"Don’t tell anybody, but I actually read blogs."

Said Hillary Clinton at YearlyKos, slyly adding: "Don’t share that." Whether she actually takes the time to read us or not, someone who writes for her knows how to prods us to blog something nice.

I'm saying "us," though I know she's talking to -- flattering -- the leftosphere.
"Let me say something a little unexpected: Thank you. Thank you for building a modern, progressive movement in America and standing up to the right-wing Republican noise machine!"
So -- by her lights -- am I part of "the right-wing Republican noise machine"? I call myself a liberal, which is -- ironically -- something she won't do: