November 10, 2007

Reflection: autumn.

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"Has the debate over race become a melodrama? A bad television soap opera?"

"A theatrical stage play with complex issues boiled down to a script? Entertaining words thrown around simply to satisfy the 24-hour news cycle, the blogosphere?"

Maybe, but why isn't that progress?

Pigeon + a man who seems to know which way to go.

Pigeon:

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Man who seems to know which way to go:

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I hope this gives you an accurate picture of what life is like for your humble blogger when she's out armed only with an iPhone. Maybe it would help to know that I also used the iPhone to consume the entire audiobook of "Wonderful Tonight."

Pattie Boyd was meeting George Harrison in the "Hard Day's Night" train as I walked by the line outside Grimaldi's Pizzeria, and Eric Clapton was making her terribly unhappy when I wandered in here:

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And as I came upon this sight....

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.... she was suddenly marrying him.

IN THE COMMENTS: Blake says, "These photos remind me of the Jonathan Coulton song Flickr":



LOL!

"I'm beginning a conversation with you, with America, because we all need to be part of the discussion."

Remember Hillary Clinton, announcing her candidacy?



Now, we learn her campaign is planting the questions. But they're soooorrrry, and it won't happen again.

It went like this:
Question: "As a young person, I'm worried about the long-term effects of global warming How does your plan combat climate change?

Clinton: "Well, you should be worried. You know, I find as I travel around Iowa that it's usually young people that ask me about global warming."
Ha ha. It's usually the young people.

ADDED: I love the freeze frame caught by YouTube. It looks like she's just smacked us all in the face. God knows, we deserve it for our insolence.

UPDATE: Watch endless plants crawl out of the woodwork:
In a telephone interview with Fox, Geoffrey Mitchell, 32, says he was approached by an operative for the Clinton campaign to ask a planted question about standing up to President Bush on Iraq war funding....

Mitchell tells Fox that Clinton campaign worker Chris Hayler approached him and asked him to ask Sen. Clinton a question about how she was standing up to President Bush on the question of funding the Iraq war and a troop withdrawal timeline....

“I told Chris I had other issues I wanted to raise with Sen. CLinton,” MItchell said. Asked what those were, Mitchell said: “I wanted to ask her why she voted for the Iraq war and why she didn’t consider that a mistake.”

Mitchel told Fox that Hayler, the Clinton campaign worker, was unhappy and moved on to others. “I know he tried to have others ask that question,” Mitchell said.

Ultimately, Mitchell said Clinton took no questions at the event.

Rinse and repeat.

"When Mexicans come north as illegal immigrants, we call them wetbacks."

Said Donald Hindley. How hostile (or inattentive) a listener do you need to be to think that a man who has taught in the politics department at Brandeis University for decades was saying that "wetbacks" is an appropriate term?

Yet at least 2 of his students — it seems — complained to the chair of his department. The university decided that he had violated its anti-discrimination policy and ordered him to take sensitivity training and sent an assistant provost to monitor his class. Imagine that — a monitor sitting in the classroom!

(Why not — at most — record the classes? It's not like university students need a guardian there to spring into action.)

Hindley isn't taking it lying down:
Now, Hindley had circulated letters addressed to him by Provost Marty Krauss as well as the human resources office, creating what [department chair Steven L.] Burg called an “e-mail campaign” against the university’s decision... About 13 students, or a third of his class, staged a walkout to protest the professor’s treatment, according to the Justice, and the professor is also filing a formal appeal to the decision....

In a comment posted to an editorial on the Justice’s Web site titled “Prof. Hindley deserves better,” a former student wrote, “Through humor and through sarcasm Professor Hindley is able to keep learning exciting. He is a brilliant mind with years of teaching experience. Sometimes his sarcasm did seem on the edge, but at the end of the day, if you had been coming to class regularly, you knew where he was coming from.”
Good for the students for standing up for a teacher who respects the capacity of the students understand humor and sarcasm. How awful that the 2 students who complained had somehow come to believe that classroom expression is supposed to be so bland that doesn't even sound like the things they've been told wound them deeply. It's not hard to guess where they learned that they are entitled to a padded environment and to complain when they feel uncomfortable . Look how the university responded to them.

***

The linked article, at Inside Higher Ed, compares what happened at Brandeis to the incident "at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where a law professor was accused of making anti-Hmong comments, and the details he later provided placed those comments in a very different context, one contested by some who brought the complaints in the first place." Click on my tag "Kaplan story" to read more about what happened at Wisconsin, where students also staged an event, but not in support of the professor, in denunciation.

"As far as the Salt Lake City thing, he's a Mormon and the Mormons of Salt Lake City had caused that scandal..."

Said John McCain's 95-year old mother, Roberta McCain.
"I didn't mean to say it," she said as they stepped away from the cameras.

McCain told The Associated Press after the interview that his mother misspoke.

"Mormons are great people and the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon should play no role whatsoever in people's decision," McCain said.

"What she meant was the Olympics were screwed up by the people in Salt Lake when Romney came in and fixed the problems there. But I know my 95-year-old mother is certainly in favor of Mormons."
Old mothers can be a great asset for a candidate. They need to be a little mouthy to work, but that's going to mean that they're a risk. Of course, stirring up prejudice could be helpful, and when mom is 95, there's deniability galore.

ADDED: Video. I don't think ill of McCain's mother, but I hate to see hostility toward a religious group. To me, the fact that Romney is a Mormon only means that he's maintaining a family tradition.

Norman Mailer died.

Today.

Remember when he ran for Mayor?

I do.

Althouse in 1970, age 19

The idea was that NYC should be the 51st state. It'd be the 12th largest, you know. (In case you've been wondering how big a job it is to be mayor of NY.)

Sorry I don't have anything more to say about Norman Mailer. I've never read his books. I read the mean things Kate Millet wrote about him in "Sexual Politics," back around when that picture was taken of me. The man stabbed his wife and nearly killed her. Maybe I should have wanted to read what he had to say anyway — I've heard him interviewed on the radio and found him interesting — but I never did.

ADDED: Sorry, I read "The Executioner's Song." I even wrote an article about it, called "Standing, in Fluffy Slippers" (PDF).

AND: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking, but I'm surprised he says that I'm remembering Mailer "fondly." Anyway, he points to Roger Kimball's essay, and I was glad to see that because I'd just read Kimball's book "The Long March," which has a section on Mailer, and I was trying to remember exactly why Kimball heaped abuse on him. So let's read the essay (which tracks the book):
No one combined critical regard, popular celebrity, and radical chic politics with quite the same insouciance as did Mailer. From the late 1940s until the 1980s, he showed himself to be extraordinarily deft at persuading credulous intellectuals to collaborate in his megalomania. Although he modeled his persona on some of the less attractive features of Ernest Hemingway—booze, boxing, bullfighting, and broads—he managed to update that pathetic, shopworn machismo with some significant postwar embellishments: reefer, radicalism, and Reich, for starters. The glittering example of Mailer’s commercial success was obviously the cynosure that many aspiring writers set out to follow: his neat trick was to combine cachet with large amounts of cash....

An American Dream was the infamous novel in which the hero, Stephen Rojack, a savvy, tough-guy intellectual—just like Norman Mailer, you see—starts out by strangling his wife. He then walks downstairs and buggers his wife’s accommodating German maid, a former Nazi who declares, “I do not know why you have trouble with your wife. You are an absolute genius, Mr. Rojack.”

(Buggery—another “B” to put alongside booze, boxing, bullfighting, and broads—was to become an obsession with Mailer.) There are numerous Mailerian fingerprints in the novel. President Kennedy (“Jack”) calls to convey his condolences; Rojack’s wife is rumored to have had affairs with men high up in the British, American, and Soviet spy agencies; even Marilyn Monroe—who was to become another of Mailer’s notorious obsessions—makes a posthumous cameo appearance: when Rojack fantasizes about having a telephone conversation with a dead character, he reports that “the girls are swell. Marilyn says to say hello.” But the chief point of the book is that Rojack gets away with the murder. Such, Mailer wants us to believe, is the real if unacknowledged “American dream.”

[Novelist William] Styron recalled that at the time Mailer said to him: “God, I wish I had the courage to stab a woman like that. That was a real gutsy act.” That tells one all one needs to know about Norman Mailer’s idea of “courage.”

What is perhaps most alarming about Mailer’s violence against his wife was that it seems to have titillated more than it repelled his circle of friends. In any event it brought very little condemnation. “Among ‘uptown intellectuals,’” Irving Howe wrote “there was this feeling of shock and dismay, and I don’t remember anyone judging him. The feeling was that he’d been driven to this by compulsiveness, by madness. He was seen as a victim.” Readers who wonder how stabbing his wife could make Mailer a “victim”—and who ask themselves, further, what Mailer’s being a victim would then make Adele—clearly do not have what it takes to be an “uptown intellectual.”
It bothers me that Kimball does not acknowledge Kate Millet's attack. She set a generation of feminists — including me — against him. His name was poison for me for years, and I read "Executioner's Song" because I was writing about the death penalty theme, but the whole time I held Norman Mailer at a distance. (Writing this post, I initially forgot I'd read one of his books!) I was suspicious. I saw his respect for Gary Gilmore's sexual vigor, and I could still hear Kate Millet's denouncement echoing in my ears.

Of course, the feminists detest the social conservatives like Kimball, and vice versa, but would it kill Kimball to acknowledge the feminist attack, which was there in full view in 1969? Don't act like no one was onto him at the time.

Speaking of feminism, Kimball hates this quote from Mailer (from "Pieces and Pontifications"):
I think when a woman goes through an abortion, even legalized abortion, she goes through hell. There’s no use hoping otherwise. For what is she doing? Sometimes she has to be saying to herself, “You’re killing the memory of a beautiful fuck.” I don’t think abortion is a great strain when the act was some miserable little screech, or some squeak oozed up through the trapdoor, a little rat which got in, a worm who slithered under the threshold. That sort of abortion costs a woman little more than discomfort. Unless there are medical consequences years later.

But if a woman has a great fuck, and then has to abort, it embitters her.
But Kimball should know that feminists — no matter how pro-abortion — hate that too.

About all that hair.

We all know by now that Christopher Hitchens got a "back, sack and crack wax."

So let's move on to a general contemplation of humanity and its body hair:
It is hard in the West to recall that there was a brief moment when the ladygarden was left untended, and the female body celebrated and desired in its natural state. The actress Sienna Miller is now filming Hippy Hippy Shake, a movie about the Oz magazine trial, and photos have circulated of her naked, except for obligatory flowers in her hair. And yet for all the effortful re-creation of the Sixties, one glaring anachronism remains: the Hitler moustache of a Brazilian wax, which marks Miller out as a totally 21st-century girl. Perhaps Hair and Make-up couldn't manage a merkin.
Oh, yeah, I remember those hippies. Remember:
Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
What was the "there" there, if not... "the ladygarden"? It says everywhere. Could it be any plainer?
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
"Waxen" didn't mean you should be waxing your hair off. It meant it was fine for it to be waxy.

Here's the video for the song. You know, I remember when they were filming "Hair" in Central Park, and the call went out for people with a lot of hair to come out and be extras. I considered going — I looked like this around that time — but I was too busy or too aloof or — oh, who knows what I was thinking about in the mid-70s.

Back to the main article:
But then around the mid-90s some mysterious memo went out to twentysomething women that it was no longer sufficient to tidy the “bikini line” so it didn't cascade down the inner thigh like a spider plant.
Oh, yeah, before the mid-90s, you could wear a bikini and reveal pubic hair growing all down your legs! [CORRECTION: Ha, ha. I misread that.]

Let's get the history straight. The bikini hair that caused a stir in the mid-90s was brimming over the top like this — on the cover of The Black Crowes album "Amorica." Even The Black Crowes didn't go for the down to there hair — and neither did anyone in the 70s. Not in a bathing suit anyway.

(Hmmm.... maybe you could in Britain.)
The gyms of Britain were suddenly full of women waxed into weeny welcome mats, with all the stubble, bruises, pimpled hair follicles and burst blood vessels that accompany this excruciating sexifying of the sex.

Like a trend for comedy-size breast implants, inflatable lips, hair extensions, extreme nails and high street daywear revealing more tittage than a ten-quid hooker, waxing filtered down from the porn industry. Here defuzzing makes the action, as it were, easier to follow. And for male performers depilation adds the illusion of an extra inch. Maybe Hitchens had that in mind.
Now, I'm thinking of this banned album cover. (More banned album covers here.)

And don't you love Wikipedia? Check out the luxuriantly detailed article "Merkin." President Merkin Muffley — the (bald) President of the United States in "Dr. Strangelove" — came easily to mind for me. But there's so much more:
The narrator, Humbert Humbert, in Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita (1955), recalls, "Although I told myself I was looking merely for a soothing presence, a glorified pot-au-feu, an animated merkin, what really attracted me to Valeria was the imitation she gave of a little girl."

Pynchon, in Gravity's Rainbow, says, "He wears a false cunt and merkin of sable both handcrafted...by the notorious Mme. Ophir."...

The 1969 film Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? written by and starring Anthony Newley, is a veritable cornucopia of dirty-joke names. In addition to the two in the title, there's a character (played by Joan Collins), named Polyester Poontang.

Pearl Jam and Neil Young released a two-song companion to Mirror Ball called Merkin Ball....

In an episode of Family Guy, an advertising agent offers Joe Swanson a car, his pants and a merkin so that he will sign up for an advertising contract....

On the 1967 Chess LP The Baroques by the Milwaukee band of the same name, the word "merkin" is heard in the song "Bicycle." The lyric is "...I'll take back the merkin I gave you for Christmas, and you'll be sorry when the wind gets cold, 'cause it'll be hanging from the aerial of my bicycle...."
Lots more at the link.

"I am pleading for the future; I am pleading for a time when hatred and cruelty will not control the hearts of men."

Harold Schechter, author of "The Devil's Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century," picks five books that describe great murder trials.
1. "The Murder of Helen Jewett" by Patricia Cline Cohen (Knopf, 1998)....

2. "Dead Certainties" by Simon Schama (Knopf, 1991)....

3. "The Minister and the Choir Singer" by William M. Kunstler (William Morrow, 1964)....

4. "Compulsion" by Meyer Levin (Simon & Schuster, 1956).

In May 1924, self-professed Nietzschean supermen Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the pampered sons of two prominent Chicago families, set out to prove their intellectual superiority by committing the "perfect crime." They abducted and killed Loeb's 14-year-old cousin, then stuffed his nude body into a drainpipe. Despite the supposed brilliance of their plan, they were arrested less than two weeks later. The highlight of their prosecution--which had been immediately (and rather prematurely) trumpeted as "The Trial of the Century"--was the summation by their lawyer, the formidable Clarence Darrow, who delivered an eloquent 12-hour attack on the death penalty. His clients were convicted but spared execution. In "Compulsion," Meyer Levin's 1956 best-selling account of the case, the author thinly disguised the story for legal reasons, producing what many critics consider the prototypical "nonfiction novel"-- a genre that Truman Capote would take credit for inventing a decade later.

5. "Kidnap" by George Waller (Dial, 1961)....
Kind of a harsh stab at Truman Capote, but don't you want to read "Compulsion"?

Alternatively, we can dig out the old DVD of "Rope" and watch it one more time. That's always great fun:



And can you imagine a lawyer today subjecting the jury to a 12-hour attack on the death penalty? Can you imagine the lawyer being considered brilliant and eloquent for doing so? Can you imagine a jury today getting roped in by a lot of high-flown talk about the death penalty after hearing evidence of a brutal, senseless murder? Frankly, it's outright unfair to decide who gets the death penalty based on what the lawyer said about the death penalty in general. All that brilliant talk would be equally applicable in any capital trial.

Here's the text of Darrow's summation, helpfully divided into titled sections. From the final section:
I have stood here for three months as one might stand at the ocean trying to sweep back the tide. I hope the seas are subsiding and the wind is falling and I believe they are, but I wish to make no false pretense to this court. The easy thing and the popular thing to do is to hang my clients. I know it. Men and women who do not think will applaud. The cruel and the thoughtless will approve. It will be easy today; but in Chicago, and reaching out over the length and breadth of the land, more and more fathers and mothers, the humane, the kind and the hopeful, who are gaining an understanding and asking questions not only about these poor boys, but about their own,--these will join in no acclaim at the death of my clients. These would ask that the shedding of blood be stopped, and that the normal feelings of man resume their sway. And as the days and the months and the years go on, they will ask it more and more. But, your Honor, what they shall ask may not count. I know the easy way.

I know your Honor stands between he [sic] future and the past. I know the future is with me, and what I stand for here; not merely for the lives of these two unfortunate lads, but for all boys and all girls; for all of the young, and as far as possible, for all of the old. I am pleading for life, understanding, charity, kindness, and the infinite mercy that considers all. I am pleading that we overcome cruelty with kindness and hatred with love. I know the future is on my side. Your Honor stands between the past and the future. You may hang these boys; you may hang them by the neck until they are dead. But in doing it you will turn your face toward the past. In doing it you are making it harder for every other boy who in ignorance and darkness must grope his way through the mazes which only childhood knows. In doing it you will make it harder for unborn children. You may save them and make it easier for every child that some time may stand where these boys stand. You will make it easier for every human being with an aspiration and a vision and a hope and a fate. I am pleading for the future; I am pleading for a time when hatred and cruelty will not control the hearts of men. When we can learn by reason and judgement and understanding and faith that all life is worth saving, and that mercy is the highest attribute of man.
Think of the children!

From Meyer Levin's book — which you can search inside at Amazon:
When someone asked if Nietzsche's superman philosophy justified murder, Judd perversely replied, "It is easy to justify such a death, as easy as to justify an entomologist impaling a butterfly on a pin."

The room became quiet. Danny Mines of the News said, "We all had a little Nietzsche in college, Steiner, but that doesn't mean you have to live by it."

"Why not?" Judd demanded. "A philosophy, if you are convinced it is correct, is something you live by."

We all studied our menus. "The herring is excellent here," Judd announced to McNamar, "but I suppose you don't like herring — you aren't Jewish."

Throughout the meal he continued to flash his erudition and against my will, I was being pushed by the others, set up as the antipode — for I too was a university graduate at eighteen.
Hmmm... Do you like novelization?

If not, read the confession of Nathan Leopold:
When we planned a general thing of this sort was as long ago as last November I guess at least, and we started on the process of how to get the money, which was the most difficult problem. We had several dozen different plans, all of which were not so good for one reason or other....

The next problem was getting the victim to kill. This was left undecided until the day we decided to pick the most likely-looking subject that came our way. The particular case happened to be Robert Franks. Richard was acquainted with Robert and asked him to come over to our car for a moment. This occurred near 49th and Ellis Avenue. Robert came over in the car, was introduced to me and Richard asked him if he did not want to help him.....

"Richard who?"

Richard Loeb. He replied no, but Richard said, well, come in a minute. I want to ask you about a certain tennis racket. After he had gotten in, I stepped on the gas, proceeded south on Ellis Avenue to 50th Street. In the meantime Richard asked Robert if he minded if we took him around the block, to which Robert said, no. As soon as we turned the corner, Richard placed his one hand over Robert's mouth to stifle his outcry, with his right beating him on the head several times with a chisel, especially prepared for the purpose. The boy did not succumb as readily as we had believed so for fear of being observed Richard seized him, and pulled him into the back seat. Here he forced a cloth into his mouth. Apparently the boy died instantly by suffocation shortly thereafter. We proceeded out to Calumet Boulevard in Indiana, drove along this road that leads to Gary, being a rather deserted place. We even stopped to buy a couple of sandwiches and some drinks for supper....
ADDED: Leopold and Loeb pleaded guilty, and Darrow's harangue was directed at the judge. Here's Judge Caverly's opinion, which rests not on a general opposition to the death penalty, but on the youth of the defendants:
It would have been the task of least resistance to impose the extreme penalty of the law. In choosing imprisonment instead of death, the court is moved chiefly by the consideration of the age of the defendants, boys of eighteen and nineteen years.

"You are not a pop star with a No. 1 album, so you don't know."

What Britney Spears's lawyer, Anne Kiley, said to the judge.

"Don't say nothing!"

So yelled Natavia Lowery's mother as she saw what the Daily News calls "the petite suspect" being "hauled off in handcuffs to court." But Lowery had already confessed to killing the wealthy "punk-rock pioneer" Linda Stein. According to the police, she said she "bashed in the Realtor's head with a yoga stick after she blew pot smoke in her face and made a racial crack."
"Get the f---ing e-mails! How can you be so f---ing slow!" Stein supposedly bellowed, a police source said.

Stein, who had private yoga sessions in her $2.5 million pad, was waving a 4-pound strength-building yoga stick at Lowery as she yelled, the assistant told cops.

After Lowery retrieved the e-mails, Stein offered to buy her lunch as a peace offering.

"I've got my own money. I don't need you to buy me lunch," the assistant said indignantly.

"Black people don't have any money," Stein retorted, according to Lowery. "Save your money and I'll buy you lunch."

An enraged Lowery grabbed the yoga stick from Stein and hit her with it a half-dozen times until she was face-down in a pool of blood, police said.
Defense lawyers will have to contend with the fact that Lowery spent a long time calmly cleaning up the penthouse after the bludgeoning,
Her trips in and out were captured on surveillance tape, which showed her nonchalantly carrying out a bag, police said. She checked the bottom of her shoes once after leaving, possibly examining them for blood, sources said.

"She looks quite normal when she's coming in and out of the apartment," said NYPD Detective Antonio Rivera.
Once could argue that she reverted to a robotic mental state. Calmly cleaning up the penthouse makes no sense if you're leaving a brutally beaten body in it. If you were thinking rationally, you'd want the scene to look as if an outsider did it, but an outsider wouldn't clean up. Therefore, Lowery could contend that the calm behavior after the murder was actually evidence of insanity. I haven't read about cases where a theory like that was attempted, so I don't know how well it might play, nor do I know of any scholarly writing in the field of psychology that might support such a theory. I'm just tossing it out as a possibility.

You have to also explain the fact that Lowery stole Stein's ATM card and withdrew $800. I'd say that as a personal assistant, a methodical criminal could have found a much more effective way to extract money from the victim. And with that kind of access, if she had planned to kill Stein, Lowery could have figured out a more insidious way to do it. The fact that her instincts led her to clean up the crime scene seems to indicate that if she were planning the murder, she would have chosen a method that didn't create such a bloody mess.

TRex, unethical, but at least ashamed (or scared).

On Friday night, TRex put up a post at the high-traffic blog Firedoglake exhorting his readers: "Please feel free to post your comments on this post under the name 'Ann Althouse'. I've done it before. It's totally fun." Some time thereafter, he took the post down, but I have the text of it because I've set up a Google alert to keep track of the use and abuse of my name, so I received the text in my email.

I've known for a long time that unscrupulous webwriters appropriate my name, and I have a longstanding dispute with the blog Sadly, No for refusing to take down comments that appropriate my name. I have emailed them politely and seriously making the request, but they have refused repeatedly.

Now, I have TRex's confession that he is one of my impersonators. I don't know that he is an impersonator on Sadly, No, but the post he took down mentioned Sadly, No.

How shameful and embarrassing! At least he had the wits to think better of it and try to hide it. Or maybe he's just afraid of getting into trouble for impersonating me.

What an unscrupulous, pusillanimous little twerp!

IN THE COMMENT: Someone from Sadly, No shows up and makes some incredibly lame excuses for that blog's descent into outright sexist hate speech. I do what I can to shame them. How do men who imagine themselves to be liberal get the idea that they can treat a woman like this and not shoot their reputation to hell?

November 9, 2007

Arthur H. Bremer walks out of prison.

The man who shot George Wallace.

"We would be in the coffee shop afterward talking and talking and talking until we ran out of things to say ... and Jerry would say, 'That's enough.'"

Jerry Seinfeld's unused, alternate ending for the "Seinfeld" series.

Also:
We talked about doing a final scene for the DVD where we come out of jail and go to the coffee shop -- Michael Richards [Kramer] had come out all tattooed and become a rough rider; Julia Louis-Dreyfus [Elaine] was a lesbian; I had a sex change ... and Jerry was exactly the way he was. And he would say, "Boy, that was rough."

"American Immunity Idol."

Hee hee hee. Did you watch the new episode of "Survivor"? Brilliant. Talk about it in the comments.

"I will discover to my shock and chagrin ... Glenn Greenwald has already written about it, and I’m totally hosed."

TRex frets:
[S]ome days I think I’ve got the post to end all posts lined up in my head and I will discover to my shock and chagrin that Digby or Glenn Greenwald has already written about it, and I’m totally hosed. Approaching a topic after one of those two has already handled it is kind of like approaching the all-you-can-eat food bar at Ryan’s Steakhouse after Rush Limbaugh has come through. There’s, like, nothing left.
Well, a lot of times Glenn Greenwald just chews up food and spits it out all over the floor and the walls and the furniture month after month until it piles up and congeals and grows into mold, turning the room into a repulsive, health-threatening mess. Then, there's a lot left.

What is it with these lefty bloggers and their food metaphors? It's enough to make you think they're all... doughy.

ADDED:


"Wheeee! I'm blogging!"

SPECIAL MESSAGE TO TREX:


"Wheeee! I'm blogging!"


AND: David Lat says: "Ann Althouse: We love it when she gets medieval -- or should we say me-diva? -- on a hapless blogger's a**." Hey, that's good for the banner!

UPDATE: TRex writes, then deletes, something about me.

"The Rain People," "The Conversation," "Apocalypse Now," "Rumble Fish," and "Youth Without Youth."

Francis Ford Coppela lists what he thinks are his 5 best movies. Is he lying to get us to pay more attention to his non-"Godfather" work or does he really mean it?

A telling remark: "The easiest way to make sure a movie is successful is to make a traditional movie very well. If you make a slightly unusual movie or [don't] exactly follow the rules as everyone sees them, then you get into trouble."

Mafia Ten Commandments.

Discovered by the Italian police:
1. No-one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.

2. Never look at the wives of friends.

3. Never be seen with cops.

4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.

5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife's about to give birth.

6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.

7. Wives must be treated with respect.

8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.

9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.

10. People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.
Anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values? The whole scheme should self-destruct.

Actually, these commandments are pretty boring.

"This is your priest stalker again, the one who has been tracking you through space and time."

What the priest wrote to Conan O'Brien.

San Francisco....

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Some buildings that appealed to me.

Chinatown, San Francisco.

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A ponderous angel.

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Guarding a doorway in San Francisco.

Why would you stick a disembodied angel head in a doorway like this? It's not as if this thing — who does that face remind me of? — is going to lighten the hearts or inspire the souls of those who pass through.

ADDED: Closeup:

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Think Christopher Hitchens should use this for the cover of his next anti-religion screed?

"I was overwhelmed by a sudden access of lava-like agony, accompanied by the vertiginous sensation that there was no there there."

That's Christopher Hitchens describing.... guess what?

They all play the gender card... and Hillary's playing it well.

So says Susan Faludi. What counts as the gender card?
When facing George H.W. Bush, Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis learned this lesson too late, after he failed to fly into a vigilante-style rage in response to the question: "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?" Dukakis' reply -- "No, I don't, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life" -- whacked his approval ratings from 49% to 42% overnight and helped deny him the election.
So, the gender card is being played when a candidate doesn't realize he should play it? Or is Faludi patching over her sketchy argument by making it seem as though Bush I asked the "if Kitty Dukakis were raped"? (CNN news anchor Bernard Shaw asked the question in a debate. And no one wanted to see Dukakis "fly into a vigilante-style rage." We just wanted to see some human feeling and not a robotic incantation of his stand on the death penalty.)

The gender card was also played, Faludi argues, in the 2004 election, with Bush II's "Wolves" ad. Here's the ad — which I admit is absurd, but find the gender card:



Give up. Here's Faludi:

In "Wolves," set in a forest invaded by a pack of wolves (read: terrorists), a trembling female voice-over claimed that Kerry had voted for cuts in U.S. intelligence "so deep they would have weakened America's defenses -- and weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm." "Wolves" engaged the American terror dream, which the GOP was going to vanquish with a cowboy swagger.
Was that woman's voice "trembling"? (It is so easy to accuse Faludi of sexism for hearing a woman's voice and imagining it is trembling.) Really, where is the gender card? Both men and women are concerned about security. And there's nothing in the ad about cowboys. There isn't even an association between cowboys and wolves. Cowboys don't fight wolves.

Faludi also cites Bush II's ad "Ashley's Story." Let's take a look:



This ad is deeply sentimental (and incredibly effective), but again, how is it playing the gender card? It may be that woman are generally more responsive to this ad than men are, but there is gender difference everywhere. Trying to appeal to women with women's voices, images of children, or — God help us — tinkling piana music, is not playing the gender card. Candidates craft messages for various constituents, but it's not playing a card unless you are basing an argument on gender, such as saying, as Hillary Clinton does, that her being a woman is a reason to vote for her for President or that she is being attacked because she is a woman. That is unusual, and that doesn't happen all the time.

Now, let's look at Faludi's other point, that Hillary Clinton is playing the gender card well:
So far, the only person who has a lock on rescuing women is the one female candidate. Her approach departs from the old male version. In the old model, helpless women were saved from perilous danger by men; in the new, women are granted authority and agency to rescue themselves.
Soooo.... HC "has a lock on rescuing women" but "women are granted authority and agency to rescue themselves." So is Hillary rescuing us or not? Or is she the one granting the authority and agency to rescue ourselves. If so, what does it mean, and how is she doing it?

And what is "perilous danger"? The opposite of safe danger (or perilous safety)?

Oh, why did I assign myself the task of wading through this morass? Fortunately, I am going to grant myself the authority and agency to rescue myself from this Women's Studies rhetoric and note that Faludi doesn't bother with coherence. She simply swirls up an evocative, emotional verbal melange which, I would say if I indulged in Faludious reasoning, amounts to playing the gender card, since it stimulates the female mind more than the male.

But let's get a grip reason and slog to the end of the Faludi swamp:
Understanding the distinction [between the "old male... model" and the new Hillary model] is essential to an evaluation of current American politics.
Okay. Somehow, Hillary is going to represent individuals taking responsibility — authority and agency — for themselves, as distinguished from the "male model" of expecting someone to rescue us. That doesn't sound like what Hillary normally talks about, but Faludi sees this distinction "on vivid display." Where? Well, Bush signed the Afghan Women and Children Relief Act ant then failed to finance "women-run nongovernmental organizations in Afghanistan." Get it? And Bush "sought to roll back women's progress on many fronts, from reproductive rights to employment equity to military status." Vivid? Or murky? You decide.

And what's Hillary Clinton doing that distinctly different from the bad old "male modle"? Let's see if Faludi has something vivid here:
This year, as always, the presidential candidates must contend with the rescue formula, complicated by the fact that Bush has so devalued its currency. In this climate, Hillary Clinton can do what her male counterparts cannot. She is, indeed, reaching for the gender card, as her accusers claim. It's just different from the one they imagine. She is auditioning for the role of rescuer on a feminist frontier.

She returned to Wellesley to tell female undergraduates that she was there to free them; she was there to help them "roll up our sleeves" and "shatter that highest glass ceiling." As such, she latched onto a crucial element of presidential races past, and possibly to come -- that at the core of all American political rescue fantasies is a young woman in need.

In the general election, whoever the candidates may be, they will be tempted, perhaps required, to show just those bona fides. Clinton may be the only one who can do so without betraying the signature of a disgraced cowboy ethic.
What on earth does that mean? Is there anything there but the blunt fact that Hillary Clinton is a woman?

The argument seems to be that Bush is a man who ran for President by calling attention to his manliness, then, because he did a bad job, he gave manliness a bad name, so the cure is to have a woman President. If she's saying anything other than that, I can't strain it out of the godawful mud of her writing. And that argument is stupid and offensive. If there is some other argument to be found in there, please tell me what it is.

"It's basically akin to someone sitting on their couch and chewing up food and spitting it all over the floor and the walls and the furniture...."

"... month after month until it piles up and congeals and grows into mold, turning the room into a repulsive, health-threatening mess."

Guess what "it" is.

Then go to the link, see what it is, and help me understand what sort of bizarre mind would come up with that simile.

November 8, 2007

"Do people really want a woman President? Do they want the Clinton circus back in town?"

"Do they want to keep trading the presidency between these two weird families?"

Joe Klein has some questions
(in a big, rambling Time piece):
"Who knows?" said Karl Rhomberg, a former Scott County Democratic chairman, after watching Clinton perform in Davenport, Iowa. He pointed out that four years ago, in November, Howard Dean was inevitable, and John Kerry was over. "But 40% were undecided going into the last week of the caucus. It'll be the same this time. Hillary is 20% smarter than the guys, but a woman has to be just to pull equal. And I can't stand thinking about what Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are going to do to her. People are just sick of that. They love Obama. He's very inspiring. But in the end, Iowans vote on electability. I hate to say it, but my guess is they'll vote for the white guy — Edwards — this time, just like they voted for the war hero last time."

It was a chilling thought. I'm sure Edwards wouldn't want to win that way, and I'm not so sure he will. But Rhomberg's scenario wasn't at all implausible. It certainly raises the central issue of this Democratic campaign: whether Hillary Clinton's excellence as a candidate will be enough to overcome her family's garish political history, the undiluted hatred that will be directed against her and the demons that still haunt our nation.
Oh, that drooling over Clinton is a little repulsive. Excellence. 20% smarter. Ugh! But what's worse is pushing the offensive notion that if we don't like her, we're sexist. It's hatred. Demons! Haunting our nation!

Edwards wouldn't want to win that way
. Please. First of all, Edwards wants to win any way he can. He'll even claim to be more womanly than Hillary if he thinks we want a woman.

But we've all been thinking about 2004 and Howard Dean in connection with Hillary's current seeming inevitability, haven't we? Can't you picture the scenario playing out the same way in '08? Scream and all.

ADDED: "Why is Hillary playing the gender card?" Peter Beinart and Jonah Goldberg diavlog.

"Instead of destroying the president, the ongoing public hostility has only made him stronger."

Spiegel Online:
Bush, the man who has become firmly ensconced as a wartime president, has scored three successes recently. One can either welcome them or feel threatened by them, but to ignore them would be a mistake.

First, there has been noticeable improvement on the Iraqi war front.... Americans are not against war itself, they just don't like losing.

Second, Bush dominates his party's search for a suitable presidential candidate, and he does so without voicing a preference for any of the candidates. Instead, he exerts control by dictating the job description. According to Bush, the right man for the job would not be an economic expert or a seasoned diplomat, but a sheriff, a man with nerves of steel, a man who can lead. Of course, for Bush being a strong leader means, first and foremost, leading the nation into war.

All of the Republican candidates are going to great lengths to display at least a minimum of toughness and boldness, along with a healthy dose of lunacy...

The issues important to the Democrats -- poverty, healthcare reform and the looming climate catastrophe -- pale in comparison to the Iraq war.

The Bush agenda -- wage war! -- is the country's agenda. His goal -- victory! -- sets the tone for the 2008 presidential race. And the mood he has created -- fear of further terrorist attacks -- has taken hold among the majority of voters. For the American public, even a narrow-minded view of reality is still a reality.

ADDED: My son John emails:
"Second, Bush dominates his party's search for a suitable presidential candidate, and he does so without voicing a preference for any of the candidates. Instead, he exerts control by dictating the job description."

Seems to me that this German newspaper has it backwards. Most of the Republican candidates are running as the anti-Bush, though they can't say so explicitly. The big subtext of the Giuliani and Romney campaigns is that it's all about competency. The obvious implication is that we're desperately in need of competency because there's been so little of it in the Bush administration. The only candidate who's really trying to fit Bush's "job description" is Thompson, who doesn't seem to be doing very well.

Also, I can't believe you excerpted this without comment:

"The issues important to the Democrats -- poverty..."

Huh?! Edwards is the only Democratic candidate who has emphasized poverty. The other Democratic candidates notably did not follow his lead. And even Edwards hasn't really talked about it in the last few debates.

Aqua Dots toy metabolizes into the date rape drug!

You've got to give the Chinese credit for innovation when it comes to making dangerous toys. This is truly bizarre.

Reopening St. John’s.

In Baghdad.

(Comments collected here.)

"Outrage fatigue."

Typical comment on a Metafilter post intended to wow readers with a Keith Olberman rant — "all the verbal flatulence" — and then somebody says "the flowery style makes you think he's going to pull out a lace glove and challenge someone to a fish-slapping dance" and somebody else sends us here....



... and I feel restored and able to get on with the day.

So I didn't buy the headphones (yet)...

But I did buy this thing (at the MoMa store). I'm giving it a 4-star rating. It may seem absurd to pay $38 for an apple slicer, even one that has a beautiful design perfectly merging form and function. But if you're like me and you want to eat apples but can't stand to just bite into them whole and are sick of chopping through them with one of these, you might love this. It slices the apple cleanly and easily into a spiral. As it goes around, it's embedded in the apple, and it seals the uneaten part so it doesn't turn brown or dry out. You can start with a nice, big apple and just eat however much you want. No conflict between waste and overeating or fear of buying overly large apples.

Let's take a closer look at these noise-cancelling headphones.

Needing to get a night's sleep on an airplane a couple days ago, I got to thinking about getting some noise-cancelling headphones. I tested the Bose® QuietComfort® 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones yesterday, and I would have bought them impulsively, but the store — at the Apple Store in SoHo — was out of them.

So now I've got to contemplate the purchase rationally.

Pro: Sounded good. Seemed to cancel some noise. Rested softly but solidly on the ears (and no ridiculous cup around the ears).

Con: $349 is expensive. No built-in microphone-switch for the iPhone. Too big and bulky to look good walking around in outdoors.

Advice?

ADDED: I think I should hold onto my money until Bose comes out with headphones that work with the iPhone. That's so important to me, and I heard they were going to do it soon.

Is Kevin Drum a Clinton sycophant?

"Matt Yglesias adds his voice to the tsunami of blogospheric support for a VAT to pay for universal healthcare...." The blogosphere is a strange place, isn't it? Odd little people, echoing off each other...

I just read that over at Kevin Drum's blog, which I was scanning to try to figure out his position on Hillary Clinton. Actually, he isn't such a "little" guy: I learned that he has a BMI of 28. I know, maybe he's very muscular, but I'm guessing doughy. I think if you know 2 facts, BMI of 28 + blogger, you can assume doughy. For the sake of argument. And I'm here for an argument.

Anyway, I didn't look around long enough to tell if he writes in support of Hillary Clinton, which is something I wanted to do because he identified an anti-Clinton post of mine as a nominee for what he called — with pedestrian humor — "the Golden Wingnut Award." I understand that I ruffled some feathers with that harshly satirical post that took aim at Bill Clinton and a feminist who festoons her blog with images of breasts. You can hate that post all you want, but there's nothing right wing about it. If it's any wing, it's left.

So I got to thinking that Drum must be one of those politicos who's carrying water for HC.

I'm glad to see there's some discussion in the comments over there about whether I'm a right winger. But I'm not seeing anything about the fact that the post in question contained absolutely nothing right wing. It was just anti-Clinton.

So is Drum a Clinton sycophant? I found this over there:
I'm not a big fan of individual mandates and private insurance companies, but in the spirit of Atrios's advice to "stop wanking," I also understand that my preferences just aren't on the table right now. And I have to say that I agree with Ezra: although the three leading Democratic presidential candidates have proposed healthcare plans that are similar in a lot of ways, Hillary's strikes me as not just substantively as good as any of them (and better in some ways), but also the politically savviest and most practical of the lot. Given her experience in 1994 (she knows what won't work) combined with the legislative canniness she seems to have developed in the Senate (she know what will work), that's not too surprising.

In any case, it's a good plan. Edwards and Obama are going to have a very hard time making criticisms that stick. Obama, in particular, suffers because his plan is, if anything, a bit less ambitious than Hillary's even though he's supposed to be the candidate with fresh new ideas. For now, anyway, I think Hillary has outflanked him.
Wanking and outflanking. If I had time, I'd write a poem.

But I don't have time. Not to write a poem and not to solve the mystery of whether Drum is on my case in service to the Clintons.

Just a hypothesis.

ADDED: I just searched for all my old posts with the name "Kevin Drum" so I could add a "Kevin Drum" tag, and I see that the very first time I ever mentioned his name on this blog was noting that he'd just called me a wingnut. Let's take a closer look at my first encounter with Kevin Drum, detector of wingnuts. My post noted that the NYT had changed a headline from "Amid Attacks, a Party Atmosphere on Baghdad's Closed Streets" to "Insurgent Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Kill at Least 24" on a story about the large voter turnout in Iraq's first election.
Blasting me as a "wingnut" for this post, Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly delivers an irrelevant lecture about how newspaper websites work. He fails to see the point, which is awfully clear in my post, that the changing headlines were for the very same article.... There are 54 comments on Drum's post at the moment, and, though I haven't read them all, most of them seem to be from people who are just accepting Drum's mistaken point about my post. There is at least one commenter in there who keeps trying to point out the mistake, but the passion for denouncing the optimism of imagined crazy right wing bloggers is so strong that it overwhelms the interest in the facts. And the irony is that Drum's main point is that those who are taking an optimistic view don't respect the truth. It would be bad if I were disrespecting the truth out of optimism, of course. But Drum is disrespecting the truth out of an aversion to optimism, which is really quite sad.

If you go over there, you might want to leave a comment in my defense. And if you're into that, leave a comment for me over here too. I'm surprised at the way some lefty blogs seem to think they are making a good point by quoting something and saying the person who wrote it is stupid or crazy, even as they are plainly misreading the very thing they quote.
So that's how I became a "wingnut" in the wingnut-detecting mind of Kevin Drum.

I fought back:
That original headline represented the article fairly. I praised the Times's headlines earlier that day as "a subtle mix of positive and negative," giving us "a sense of the importance of what is happening [without allowing] the bad to overshadow the good." A number of prominent bloggers, linking to the Filkins-Burns article, drew special attention to the "party atmosphere" language in the headline. Later in the day, I noticed that the headline had been changed to "Insurgent Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Kill at Least 24," which completely failed to convey the gist of the article, the text of which had not changed. (The headline became even more negative later: "Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Reportedly Kill Several Dozen.") I thought the headline change was worth blogging, along with my observation that it was "pathetic" -- pathetic to pick out the negative from an article full of positive.

Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly somehow saw fit to launch into an attack, calling me a "wingnut" and delivering an irrelevant lecture about how newspaper headlines are written and websites updated. You certainly can't tell from reading his garbled post that I was writing about changing the headline on the same article and changing it to something that did not fit the article. I've exchanged some emails with Drum, who has an elaborate justification for putting an inappropriate headline on one article so that the whole mix of headlines on the main page that day would not be excessively positive. There was violence in Iraq, the theory goes, so one of the headlines needed to refer to violence, and since there was some reference to violence in the Filkins-Burns article, that was a good place to put the negative headline. I think that may be the best thing that might be said in defense of the Times, though I still have a problem with it. But I have much more of a problem with Drum, who — despite his lecture about how websites can be frequently updated — has not seen fit to update his post and make it clear that he misrepresented my post. Frankly, he owes me a public apology, on his website, for calling me a wingnut and for ridiculing me based on his own misreading (or deliberate misrepresentation).
What a sleaze! I'd forgotten all that. Thank Blogger for the archive for preserving a grudge I'm just not cantankerous enough to have carried on my own. And shame on Kevin Drum. I want 2 apologies now.

November 7, 2007

SoHo sunset.

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Danforth v. Minnesota — a correction.

I've made a correction to this old post about Danforth v. Minnesota, the case about the retroactivity of federal constitutional law doctrine in state courts. In the post, I quote a passage that is from the state's brief, and I misidentified it as coming from the state court. The court sided with the state, and, for reasons I explain in that post and this later one about the oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court, I think the state court got it wrong. But the court did not write the passage I found so interesting (though "a jumble" and "poorly written").

Can a state require a private employer to accommodate an individual who is violating federal criminal law?

Here's a great case about the intersection of state and federal law. (Via How Appealing.) Gary Ross was fired because he failed a drug test, but he was using marijuana medicinally in California, which has legalized the use of medical marijuana. Marijuana is, nevertheless, banned by the federal Controlled Substance Act, and the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that the states lack the power to carve out exceptions to that act. So Ross was fired for doing something that is a federal crime, but not a state crime.

Ross is suing his employer, Ragingwire Telecommunications Inc., for discriminating against him for his disability, and he's using state anti-discrimination law. So the question before the California Supreme Court — argued yesterday — is the effect of the medical marijuana law. Does the Compassionate Use Act just mean the state can't criminally prosecute medical marijuana users, or does it mean that private employers can't fire them for using marijuana (and violating federal criminal law)?
The state's voters intended to allow medical marijuana users "to fully participate in life regardless of any potential disability," Stewart Katz, a lawyer for Ross, told the court during Tuesday's hourlong hearing in Sacramento. That includes having a job, he said.

But several justices noted that although Prop. 215 protected medical marijuana users and their caregivers from state criminal prosecution, it never mentioned the workplace.
It's a tough state law question. Did the Californians who voted for the initiative that led to the Compassionate Use Act think about much more than the basic mercy of sparing medical users criminal prosecution? Was there any discussion at the time about imposing new duties on private businesses to accommodate drug users?
An employer who hires a medical marijuana user is "arguably being complicit in an activity that's illegal under federal law," RagingWire's lawyer, Robert Pattison, told the court. He said the state law that requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to the disabled shouldn't be interpreted to require accommodation of illegal drugs.
I wonder whether, if Ross wins in the California Supreme Court, there is a federal question for the U.S. Supreme Court. Can a state require a private employer to accommodate an individual who is violating federal criminal law?

I'm back in New York City, but...

Here's a San Francisco flower:

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"Michael Mukasey... is absolutely correct... that the issue of 'waterboarding' cannot be decided in the abstract."

Writes Alan Dershowitz.
Under prevailing [constitutional law] precedents--some of which I disagree with--the court must examine the nature of the governmental interest at stake, and the degree to which the government actions at issue shock the conscience, and then decide on a case-by-case basis. In several cases involving actions at least as severe as waterboarding, courts have found no violations of due process.

The members of the judiciary committee who voted against Judge Mukasey, because of his unwillingness to support an absolute prohibition on waterboarding and all other forms of torture, should be asked the direct question: Would you authorize the use of waterboarding, or other non-lethal forms of torture, if you believed that it was the only possible way of saving the lives of hundreds of Americans in a situation of the kind faced by Israeli authorities on the eve of Yom Kippur? Would you want your president to authorize extraordinary means of interrogation in such a situation? If so, what means? If not, would you be prepared to accept responsibility for the preventable deaths of hundreds of Americans?
Dershowitz's point is that the Democrats will lose the next election if they're perceived as soft on national security.

Why is Pat Robertson endorsing Rudy Giuliani?

It seems rather strange. Anti-Mormonism?

MORE: Here. Robertson says:
To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists. Our second goal should be the control of massive government waste and crushing federal deficits. Uppermost in the minds of social conservatives is the selection of future Supreme Court justices and lower court judges who will sit in both the federal circuit courts and the district courts....

[Giuliani] proved time and again that he is a true fiscal conservative. Rudy served as a high official in the justice department of Ronald Reagan, and later as a United States attorney, won acclaim as a valiant crime fighter. Justice triumphed as he took down mafia dons, drug traffickers and corrupt politicians. He understands the need for a conservative judiciary and with the help of the distinguished Ted Olson, who is here today, and other members of his team, has assured the American people that his choices for judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia.

"Being overweight but not obese was associated only with excess mortality from diabetes and kidney disease..."

"Excess mortality"... what a weird phrase. I prefer the locution "insufficient immortality." But I suspect, reading this WaPo article on new research showing it's not that unhealthy to be fat, that all of us — fat, skinny, or just right — have exactly the same mortality and whether it's "excess" is a matter of opinion.

But the article is not about whether it would be good to live forever. It's about whether we're going to die sooner if we're fat.
The researchers calculated that in 2004, obesity was associated with as many as 112,000 excess deaths from heart disease and more than 45,000 deaths from diabetes and kidney disease. Obesity was not, however, associated with an overall excess in cancer deaths, though it was linked to as many as 19,000 excess deaths from malignancies commonly blamed on fat, including breast, uterine, ovarian, kidney, colon, esophageal and pancreatic cancer.

The most surprising finding was that being overweight but not obese was associated only with excess mortality from diabetes and kidney disease -- not from cancer or heart disease. Moreover, the researchers found an apparent protective effect against all other causes of death, such as tuberculosis, emphysema, pneumonia, Alzheimer's disease and injuries. An association between excess weight and nearly 16,000 deaths from diabetes and kidney disease was overshadowed by a reduction of as many as 133,000 deaths from all other deaths unrelated to cancer or heart disease. Even moderately obese people appeared less likely to die of those causes.

Although the study did not examine why being overweight might guard against dying from some diseases, [Katherine M. Flegal, a senior research scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta] said other research has suggested that extra heft might supply the body with vital reserves to draw upon to fight illness and aid recovery.

"You may not just have more fat. You may also have more lean mass -- more bone and muscle," Flegal said. "If you are in an adverse situation, that could be good for you."
This is similar to those studies that show a moderate amount of drinking is good for you (though heavy drinking isn't). People who disapprove of drinkers or fat people want to believe it's also very unhealthy. They are collecting more arguments for what they already think. Those who are modern and liberal don't want to express old-fashioned moral disapproval, so they won't say drinking or eating too much is self-indulgent and gluttonous. Pleasure-seeking is quite all right these days. And they want to be able to think of themselves as good people, so they can't just say they hate the way you look if you're fat. They have to believe they're actually concerned for your well-being.

But we all know we'd look better at our ideal weight. Each of us needs to make a personal decision about how much pleasure in eating we'll give up for the pleasure of looking our best. The anorexics love the dictum: Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. But that's a matter of opinion. Some chocolates and pasta dishes and deep-fried things taste as good as thin feels. But maybe no oversized portion of anything feels good enough to outweigh how bad fat feels. Make up your own mind.

What does it take to get a real cup around here?

If I go to a café and sit down with a cup of coffee, I want a real cup, a ceramic cup, not a paper cup. I'm paying $4 for an aesthetic experience and part of it is the feel of the cup, in my hand and on my lips. When I say "for here," I mean in a real cup. It's not hard to understand. Yet time and again, it turns out that they're out of cups. Why is that? They're running a café — invariably a Starbucks — yet they either failed to lay in an adequate supply of cups or they can't — or won't — keep up with the dishwashing.

Today, I ordered a "venti" latte at Starbucks, said "for here," handed over my money and received my change, only to be told that they're out of venti cups. Then size it down to a grande, I say.

I want the real cup more than I want the extra coffee. And I want to teach them a lesson: If you don't have a cup for it, I don't want it.

This led to minutes of confusion as they tried to figure out how to refund the price difference. The line backed up behind me, and I finally got what turned out to be only 33¢. They didn't hide their irritation, but I hid mine.

Until now.

I remember one time some kids had a lemonade stand, and they ran out of cups. They didn't want to lose the sale, so they said "Cup your hands!" That was at least funny. And they were just kids.

Hey, Starbucks! Have some damned cups for the product you charge so much for!

And if you don't have a cup for a customer who says "for here," you can say: I'm sorry, we ran out of cups. How embarrassing. We'd like to apologize by giving it to you in a paper cup for free. And here's a coupon for a free coffee in a real cup next time.

Conservative authors sue the parent of Regnery Publishing over its deep-discount book club scheme.

The NYT reports. As if Regnery would have all those big best-sellers if they sold their tracts at full cover price in bookstores. Who are the plaintiffs? (They'd better not be scribes of the too-much-litigation genre.)
Jerome R. Corsi, Bill Gertz, Lt. Col. Robert (Buzz) Patterson, Joel Mowbray and Richard Miniter state that Eagle Publishing, which owns Regnery, “orchestrates and participates in a fraudulent, deceptively concealed and self-dealing scheme to divert book sales away from retail outlets and to wholly owned subsidiary organizations within the Eagle conglomerate.”...

“They’ve structured their business essentially as a scam and are defrauding their writers,” Mr. Miniter said in an interview, “causing a tremendous rift inside the conservative community.”
A scam? A fraud? Did you not read the contract? Did you not see the structure of the business you were dealing with? Does this litigation demonstrate conservative principles?

Are you familar with the writings of Corsi, Gertz, Patterson, Mowbray and Miniter? Regnery made "best sellers" out of their books, but no doubt they're sad they haven't raked in as much as, say, Ann Coulter — who has published with Regnery and then gone on to other publishers and other contracts and is not among the plaintiffs.
[T]he publisher sells books to sister companies, including the Conservative Book Club, which then sells the books to members at discounted prices, “at, below or only marginally above its own cost of publication.” In the lawsuit the authors say they receive “little or no royalty” on these sales because their contracts specify that the publisher pays only 10 percent of the amount received by the publisher, minus costs — as opposed to 15 percent of the cover price — for the book.
Suggested titles for new conservative books by Corsi, Gertz, Patterson, Mowbray and Miniter: "A Deal Is Not a Deal," "Contracts Are Theft," "How Courts Can Help Americans Get the Money They Deserve."

Miniter said:
“It suddenly occurred to us that Regnery is making collectively jillions of dollars off of us and paying us a pittance.”
Aw, what's a conservative to do? Get a new publisher — or litigate for the deal you forgot to negotiate for? Should you suffer — while someone else profits — just because it only — suddenly! — occurred to you much later that — if the book were a big seller — you'd be jealous of the money made by the publisher that made it a big seller for you?
[Miniter] added: “Why is Regnery acting like a Marxist cartoon of a capitalist company?”
Why is Miniter sounding like a Marxist?

November 6, 2007

The travel-weary vlog.



IN THE COMMENTS: I agree to do a totally naked vlog for $1000! So start hitting the PayPal button.

Suing the architect.

The building is incredibly cool, a showpiece. Check out these pics of the Stata Center at MIT, designed by Frank Gehry. But MIT is suing, "charging that flaws in his design... one of the most celebrated works of architecture unveiled in years, caused leaks to spring, masonry to crack, mold to grow, and drainage to back up."

Do you want a wild and crazy building dreamed up by an artist? Stop and think whether all the less strange buildings look the way they do for a reason.

Negative space.

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I liked the way the distinctive cornices in San Francisco drew a line on Saturday's bright blue sky.

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How secretly nervous Democrats were, even as they pretended to laugh along with Colbert.

They act like they have a sense of humor, but "there was no way that Obama, whose campaign is focusing heavily on getting young people to the polls, would let a joke candidacy—even a funny one—get between him and the nomination."

An Althouse coffeehouse.

I think I'm going to declare this an Althouse coffeehouse and let you guys take over for a while. I'm back in NYC after taking the red-eye from SF. The flight back wasn't 6-hours as it was flying there. It was only 4+ hours. I think maybe I caught 2 hours of sleep, but I have a 4 o'clock class, so I'm thinking: nap.

Talk about what you like but feel free to give me some vlog ideas. My MacBook camera healed itself somehow, and I'd like to do a vlog... if I can restore my weary self with a little sleep.

UPDATE: I got 2 more hours of sleep, so that makes 4 hours. I have this theory that if you just get 4 hours, you'll be okay. Also, I adjusted the time stamp on the previous post so this post would come out on top, since it was written after that one (which I started writing last night at SFO and couldn't finish before Delta called my zone). I have just one thing I really need to accomplish today — a class about Tarble's Case and Howlett v. Rose — that is, federal procedural law limits on state courts enforcing federal law.

Jeffrey Rosen made quite a few errors in his NYT Magazine article about John Paul Stevens.

Justice Stevens had to write a letter to the magazine to say that:

1. He did not help break the Japanese naval code in WWII.

2. He did not —after his clerkship — have an offer to teach at Yale Law School.

3. Contrary to Rosen's assertion that when he returned to Chicago, he joined with "moderate and good-government Democrats, who were opposed to the corruption of the Daley machine," he was "never active in politics," Daley wasn't yet mayor, and he's "never suggested that the Daley machine was corrupt.

But I could not find this letter, which appears on page 12 of the paper magazine, through a search on the NYT website. I did find the original article — to which is appended a correction:
An article on Page 50 of The Times Magazine this weekend about Justice John Paul Stevens misstates the university from which he received his undergraduate degree. It was the University of Chicago, not Northwestern.
These are only the outright mistakes of fact. If there is any slanting and skewing, you're on your own.

UPDATE: Eventually, the letter appeared on the website: here.

November 5, 2007

"Unforgiven: Why is Clarence Thomas so angry?"

That's the title of this Jeffrey Toobin piece in The New Yorker. I don't think that's a very accurate title and suspect his editor was hot to spread the Thomas-is-angry-meme. What concerns Toobin is Thomas's attachment to conservative politics. Here's the concluding paragraph (which you can see isn't about anger at all):
The tenor of Thomas’s memoir, as well as his judicial record, suggests that he will continue to display his brand of “courage”—that is, to serve the interests of a conservative élite, and hearten Vice-President Cheney and his ideological kin with his exhortation “Be not afraid.” As Thomas has often said, it is a credit to the country that a man from Pin Point can be given the opportunity to serve on the highest court in the land. “As a child, I could not dare dream that I would ever see the Supreme Court, not to mention be nominated to it,” he said on the day he was selected. There is less to celebrate in the way that Thomas has used the opportunity to speak power to truth.

Waiting for the red-eye flight back to NYC.

I need to get what will count as my full night's sleep on a 6-hour flight that's starting soon. Any tips on how to sleep on a plane?

A view from the beach...

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... where the seaweed looked....

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... like a dead ostrich.

"We are not building a GPhone."

"We are enabling 1,000 people to build a GPhone."

ADDED: William Saletan explains:
Old cell business model: Charge monthly fees. Microsoft model: Sell the software. Apple model: Sell the phone. Google model: Give away the software; sell ads. Google's promises: 1) Better Web browsing and other software. 2) Lower fees and cheaper phones, because the ads provide the revenue. 3) More innovation and customization. Critiques: 1) The announcement is all hype, no product. 2) It'll take forever to be produced, become commercially available, and penetrate the market. 3) Yes, we are all individual … Google pawns. Upside: Your phone will work just like a PC! Downside: Your phone will be buried in ads, just like a PC.

A reincarnation of Vishnu...

... but "she cannot live like this."

Religion and science can coexist.

The beach looks like the set for a Beckett play.

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Wasn't there anyone there on that beautiful Sunday?

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There were this many lovely people (and doggies)!

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It was very mellow in Bolinas yesterday:

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"If the gender game worked when Rick Lazio muscled into her space, why shouldn’t it work when Obama and Edwards muster some mettle?"

"If she could become a senator by playing the victim after Monica, surely she can become president by playing the victim now."

I'm just getting around to reading Maureen Dowd's Sunday column. It's rich.
When pundettes tut-tut that playing the victim is not what a feminist should do, they forget that Hillary is not a feminist. If she were merely some clichéd version of a women’s rights advocate, she never could have so effortlessly blown off Marian Wright Edelman and Lani Guinier when Bill first got in, or played the Fury with Bill’s cupcakes during the campaign.

She was always kind enough to let Bill hide behind her skirts when he got in trouble with women. Now she deserves to hide behind her own pantsuits when men cause her trouble....

There is nowhere she won’t go, so long as it gets her where she wants to be.
Dowd has always paid attention to truth about the Clintons and feminism. I've really appreciated that.

“Intensive questioning works."

"If I didn't use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of Mafia guys running around New York right now, and crime would be a lot higher in New York than it is."

Rudy Giuliani says.

John McCain says: "When someone says waterboarding is similar to harsh interrogation techniques used against the mafia in New York City, they do not have enough experience to lead our military."

Is "experience" the real issue here? On experience, Giuliani has his standard — and effective — comeback: McCain "has never run a city, never run a state, never run a government. He has never been responsible as a mayor for the safety and security of millions of people, and he has never run a law enforcement agency, which I have done."

The real concern is human rights and constitutional rights. What techniques did Giuliani use against Mafiosi when he was U.S. Attorney? Presumably, he rigorously adhered to constitutional law. If he didn't, I want to hear about it.

But to the extent that Giuliani is asserting that intensive questioning works, he's not saying that all techniques are the same. McCain knows that. You can tell because he uses the weasel word "similar": "When someone says waterboarding is similar to harsh interrogation techniques used against the mafia...."

McCain's quote, read carefully, is pretty much of a non sequitur. Intense interrogation, physical discomfort, things that approach torture, outright torture — these things are all on a continuum and the question where to draw the line is important. That is, these things are different in that some will be on one side of the line and some will be on the other. But they are also similar in that they are on a continuum and that they have to do with the observation that harsh interrogation is effective.

What does this have to do with "experience to lead our military"? All I can see there is McCain obliquely reminding us that he served in the military and he was tortured. That gives weight to his insistence that the United States must never engage in torture, but does it engage with Giuliani's point or talk right past it? It's muddled, but what I divine from it all is that when it comes time to draw the line on the continuum and say at what point the United States will stop, Giuliani will allow more. This isn't a difference in experience. It's a difference in balancing national security and compassion for the individual.

Video of Giuliani:

Impression: sunrise.

The view, right now:

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For comparison: last evening:

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Today at Stanford Law School: "How Blogs Impact Legal Discourse."

I'll be on this panel at Stanford today, along with Larry Solum, Eric Goldman, David Friedman, and Joe Gratz. Jonathan Zittrain will be moderating.

If you attend and you're a regular reader here, please try to find a chance to introduce yourself to me and say "hi." It's especially nice when a regular commenter comes forward and a face can be attached to a name, but there's no need to apologize if you read but don't comment.

See you there!

I think I'm also going to be able to make it to "Bay Area Blawgers 2.0," in SF this evening. For more on that go to the Goldman link above. Say hi to me there too. I hope to make some contribution before rushing off to SFO for my overnight flight home.

Should I go looking for law subjects this morning to put at the top of the blog for show? Absolutely not. I blog according to the Althouse Method, established January 14, 2004. I can't imagine the circumstance that would knock me off that track. You get what comes by the Method and nothing can change that.

I saw that some fool blogger thought I blogged about Danforth v. Minnesota last week in anticipation of this panel discussion. I've been a fedcourts lawprof since the 80s, and Danforth is the most interesting fedcourts case since the 80s. The things they say about me. Anyway, if you want to see some hardcore law blogging go look at the Danforth post, and you can click on the tags at the end to see some other law things.

IN THE COMMENTS: Is it okay to use "impact" as a verb in California?