September 20, 2008

Biden "is a distinctive blend of pit bull and odd duck whose weak filters make him capable of blurting out pretty much anything."

I was making fun of that muddle of images from a NYT article. In the comments, Reader_iam exclaimed:

What an onslaught of imagery! An assault, really.

Freeman Hunt was all:
You mean the duck with the pit bull head dancing on a vaudeville stage with some kind of engine that requires filters coming out of its back and puffing smoke??

And Palladian made this:


I absolutely love this stuff! (And a certain highly favored commenter helped me discover that I did.)


As long as I'm recommending products -- and providing links which, if used, support this blog -- I just bought this expensive stool today, a Swopper. I'm expecting this thing to save me from my bad habit of getting locked into one position while working at the computer for hours on end. Also, I read that fidgeting burns a lot of calories over the course of the day, and I'm thinking the Swopper will promote fidgeting. You can bounce and wobble on it. And of course, with no back, it forces you to use some muscles to sit upright.

Now, one more thing, which I'd like to buy, but haven't bought yet, is a Jesper sit/stand desk. I've seen it in the store. It looks great, and it's motorized with a simple button to raise and lower the desk, so you can make it a standing desk to vary your position. I mentioned this thing the other day in the comments to that post about treadmills in front of desks, and somebody said they wanted more info. So this is the info.

Just some cool stuff that I recommend.

ADDED: I had to get out the receipt to check the name of the stool. I had guessed it was "swobble," but Googling turned up this Urban Dictionary entry. Oops. And here's a very interesting book about the history of the chair. You know, chairs seem so obvious to us, but it's not that natural to sit in chairs. And I'd like to say that I have that last chair pictured on the book cover. You can buy it here. Pic.

"Terrorism is a cancer in Pakistan, we are determined, God willing, we will rid the country of this cancer."

Said the new Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, after today's horrific bombing.

In America, we like to quote Lincoln:

No nobler reply ever fell from the lips of a ruler, than that uttered by President Lincoln in response to the clergyman who ventured to say, in his presence, that he hoped "the Lord was on our side."

"I am not at all concerned about that," replied Mr. Lincoln, "for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side."
The frightening thing is that the terrorists -- some of them, anyway -- imagine that they are on God's side.

Zardari says "God willing," but surely there are those who hear that and think that it is God's will that the other side win. It's the custom to say "God willing," I understand, but if you say "God willing, we will rid the country of this cancer," you are saying that if you do not win, God must be on the other side.

Does it help to bring God into the discussion? It must fire up the enemy to fight harder, because to win will be to prove that God is on their side.

I understand that it is intended as a prayer for God's support, but still...


The Lincoln link goes to a discussion of Sarah Palin's invocation of Lincoln to explain a remark of hers. And here's a good post by Ray Fowler asking: "Was Sarah Palin out of line with her prayer or simply following presidential precedent?"

"Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close..."

That's the way the AP presents the results of its poll.
More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.
Let's be careful. A poll asks whether you agree or disagree with various adjectives applied to black people in general. You give your responses. Do those responses really reveal your ordinary thought patterns? Do they tell us much about whether you apply these generalizations to specific individuals that you know a lot about, like Barack Obama?

That said, the poll does seem to have been carefully done. Some results:
Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.

Among white Democrats, one third cited a negative adjective and, of those, 58 percent said they planned to back Obama.

The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that "if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites."

Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.
There's no getting around it. If Obama loses, some people will believe that racial prejudice made the difference. Don't many people already think it's important that he win in order to prevent that harmful belief from arising? Even if he does win, some people will think he would have won more decisively if it were not for racial prejudice, but it won't matter so much without the disappointment of losing.


I like this graphic.

Finding something looked for.

State Street

I'd wanted for a long time to find this picture, which I knew was somewhere in amongst the thousands I've uploaded into Flickr. If I'd been meticulous about tagging photos, I might have found it, but I just ran across it when I was going back into the blog archives to find those quotes about solitude.

I'm posting this picture again to celebrate finding it and to think about why this was a picture that always stuck in my mind. I don't take many pictures where I get close to strangers, because I feel that it's an intrusion, but in this case, I thought the woman was so interesting-looking that I made the effort to ask for permission.

Biden "has been absolutely butchering Senator John McCain across the Rust Belt this week."

According to Mark Leibovich in the NYT. The evidence? You got me. I read the whole article. Didn't notice any butchering.
Yet Joltin’ Joe has also become a fascinating Off Broadway spectacle in his own right. He is a distinctive blend of pit bull and odd duck whose weak filters make him capable of blurting out pretty much anything — “gaffes,” out-of-nowhere comments (pivoting midspeech to say “Excuse my back!” to people seated behind him), goofy asides (tapping a reporter’s chest and telling him, “You need to work on your pecs.”)

Mr. Biden’s role is red-meat serious: to pulverize Mr. McCain, lend foreign policy heft to Senator Barack Obama and be his campaign’s main ambassador to two at-risk constituencies: former supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and blue-collar Democrats. He speaks to working-class voters in the harsh language of their economic trials, and summons easy rage at ear-splitting volumes.
Huh? So he's supposed to "pulverize" McCain. That's his role. But what did he do? What is the this "harsh language of their economic trials"? He recounts the story of growing up poor? How does that become "harsh language"? He "summons easy rage at ear-splitting volumes." What is "easy rage"? Completely relaxed, yet mad as hell?

Leibovich is stretching for vividness, and a lot of it just doesn't make sense. Is Biden effective? I feel like he's not but Leibovich wants to say he is.

Anyway, Drudge linked for the "You need to work on your pecs" thing. That was funny.

By the way, Biden makes Rush Limbaugh positively giddy and giggly. Example here. Oh, that link fortuitously has something I wanted to quote:
...I should have pointed this out to you last night on the plane, Snerdley, but Karl Rove literally skinned Alan Colmes alive.
Literally. Yikes! At least Leibovich didn't have Biden literally butchering McCain. Politics is quite the blood sport these days.

MORE: Here.

Sarah Palin's most famous quote and the problem of a quote becoming famous in a misremembered form.

What do you think is Sarah Palin's most famous quote? My attempt to answer gets me to a quote that I know is not the real quote: "I can see Russia from my house." I know that's how Tina Fey spoofed Palin on SNL. The real quote is: "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska."

So, 3 questions:

1. Do you have a better idea for Sarah Palin's most famous quote?

2. What are some other quotes that are remembered in the wrong form? I don't mean quotes attributed to the wrong person but quotes that are more often stated in a particular incorrect form.

3. Can you think of a word -- a sniglet -- to mean a misquote that becomes more of a famous quotation than the original? Something like pseudo-quote, but better.


1. Zeek says "Palin's most famous quote has to be the pit bull/lipstick joke which was riffed on by Obama and also made the SNL sketch." I agree.

2. Jason comes up with the best answer right off the bat: "I invented the Internet," making Al Gore's "I took the initiative in creating the Internet" shorter, funnier, and more damaging.

3. 2 great responses: "Malapropaganda" (from EnigmatiCore) and "substiquote" (from dcbyron).

The day the news was so shocking that it knocked Chuck Schumer out of his partisan mode.

This leaves me feeling shocked in retrospect, so I can't imagine how it must have felt to the Senators as they listened to Ben Bernanke's warnings:
“When you listened to him describe it you gulped," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

Mr. Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”

When Mr. Schumer described the meeting as “somber,” Mr. Dodd cut in. “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words,” he said. “We have never heard language like this.”

“What you heard last evening,” he added, “is one of those rare moments, certainly rare in my experience here, is Democrats and Republicans deciding we need to work together quickly.”

Although Mr. Schumer, Mr. Dodd and other participants declined to repeat precisely what they were told by Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson, they said the two men described the financial system as effectively bound in a knot that was being pulled tighter and tighter by the day.

“You have the credit lines in America, which are the lifeblood of the economy, frozen.” Mr. Schumer said. “That hasn’t happened before. It’s a brave new world. You are in uncharted territory, but the one thing you do know is you can’t leave them frozen or the economy will just head south at a rapid rate.”

As he spoke, Mr. Schumer swooped his hand, to make the gesture of a plummeting bird. “You know we’d be lucky ...” he said as his voice trailed off. “Well, I’ll leave it at that.”

Solitude and the lake.

I took my walk to work yesterday down by the lake -- Lake Mendota. That makes the walk a few blocks longer, but the lake has its mystic pull for the solitary individual, as I was and often am on my walks around Madison.

My camera took note of the other solitary figures.

The woman with a computer:

Solitude and the lake

The man with a skateboard. He's feeding the ducks, which you are not supposed to do:

Solitude and the lake

The man with headphones...

Solitude and the lake

... and the man with a book and his foot up on the railing, the man tying his shoe, the seagull on the lamppost....

Are they -- are we -- lonely?

I think about 2 of my favorite Thoreau quotes, which I wrote down long ago on this page of my "Amsterdam Notebooks":
"A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will."

"Why should I be lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way?"
UPDATE, April 4, 2013: To think that less than a year later, I would be married! How strange. I hope all the lonely people — where do they all come from? — have, since this time in September 2008, found someone to love, as I found my own dear sweet Meade.

September 19, 2008

Rush Limbaugh accuses Obama of tearing his words out of their original parody context to stir up racial fears.

In this WSJ editorial:
The malignant aspect of this is that Mr. Obama and his advisers know exactly what they are doing. They had to listen to both monologues or read the transcripts. They then had to pick the particular excerpts they used in order to create a commercial of distortions. Their hoped-for result is to inflame racial tensions. In doing this, Mr. Obama and his advisers have demonstrated a pernicious contempt for American society.

We've made much racial progress in this country. Any candidate who employs the tactics of the old segregationists is unworthy of the presidency.
Read the whole thing.

The Obama campaign not only shamelessly misused Limbaugh's quotes but also connected McCain to Limbaugh over immigration, an issue over which the 2 men have continually disagreed.

Look how dishonestly the Mother Jones blog purports to recontextualize the quotes (especially the second one). It is nice to see that the first comment corrects what is an egregious deception.

Salon, which obviously hates Limbaugh, is decent enough
-- or just forced -- to concede that the Obama campaign was deceitful:
Limbaugh is absolutely right about one thing. He makes a convincing case that the Obama campaign used his words in a fundamentally dishonest way. In both cases, the quotes were pulled from segments in which Limbaugh was clearly being facetious.
Salon doesn't want to concede that there was anything racial about Obama's tactics.

Ed Morrissey says:
The national media just got done clucking their tongues and wagging their fingers at McCain over an ad they claimed was a lie, when in fact it turned out to be true. Not once in this entire campaign have the media taken Obama to task for his strategy of lying to stoke racial tensions in this campaign. Only blogs at ABC and the Washington Post have even raised the question, while the AP or the Miami Herald busily buries the evidence of it through editing tricks. If Rush makes this a national story, perhaps the media will finally take stock in which campaign has run the dirtiest attacks — a smear campaign worthy of Joe McCarthy.
And if you like post-modernist horsing around, check out Protein Wisdom:
As Obama learns poststructuralist iteration and differance, Rush Limbaugh fires back by invoking intentionalism. It is progressivism and its linguistic assumptions — consensus interpretation and manufacted consent, deployed cynically to create new “meanings” in new “contexts” — vs. a coherent linguistic system in which meaning, for purposes of interpretation (rather than, say, the kind “re-imagining” the Obama campaign engages in here), must necessarily appeal to the creator of the signs: the author/utterer...
Obama is flatly and embarrassingly wrong on this, but I find it hard to picture him apologizing. I hope he is at least forced to talk about it, so we can pick apart the all-but-inevitable weaseling.

"Every woman I know was in high hysteria over [Sarah Palin]."

Wow. Hysteria? I remember when feminists would rip into you for attributing "hysteria" to a woman. It was a per se sexist term. Now, a woman who fancies herself a feminist applies the word to every woman she knows and the condition is caused by the elevation of a particular woman to a high position.

The quote is from Josh Gerstein's piece in the New York Sun about women who are freaking out about Sarah Palin.

"If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives -- your family's lives -- and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service."

And so it begins:
"I'm absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die.

"Actually I've just written an article called 'A Duty to Die?' for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there's nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself."

[British moral philosopher Lady Warnock] went on: "If you've an advance directive, appointing someone else to act on your behalf, if you become incapacitated, then I think there is a hope that your advocate may say that you would not wish to live in this condition so please try to help her die.

"I think that's the way the future will go, putting it rather brutally, you'd be licensing people to put others down."
She would like you to sign a document that says you want to be killed if you develop Alzheimer's Syndrome and can no longer care for yourself. And she wants it to be legal to off you if the circumstances arise.

Much outrage is being expressed, but I have no doubt that many people calculating the economics of government-provided health care think about how terribly useful this option would be and look forward to the day when people will no longer be outraged and will, in fact, feel guilty if they do not sign up for the program. Quite aside from guilt and a sense of duty, it would be easy to wrest consent out of people by offering high quality health care to those who agree in advance to be murdered if they get too expensive.

ADDED: The Anchoress sees value in long, drawn out dying.

What books would you like to see translated into Arabic?

Kalima -- an organization based in the UAE -- wants Americans to nominate books for translation:
Kalima was founded last year by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage, and is based on a simple premise: Most great works of world literature are currently not available in Arabic, making them inaccessible to most readers in the Arab world. Among last year's international selections for translation were American authors William Faulkner, Alan Greenspan, Frank Herbert, and Thomas Pynchon....

"The initiative invokes a comparison to 'Bait Al Hikma,' or House of Wisdom--a library and a translation center established by Harun Al Rashid in the 9th century. This intellectual center ignited learning and discovery in the Arab world which, in turn, became an essential factor in the making of the modern world. In that light, it is noteworthy to mention that the complete works of great American writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner--are inaccessible to Arab readers," added Dr. Tamim. "These writers paint a vivid picture of the trials and triumphs of life in America, and by putting works like these into the hands of Arab readers, we are restoring ancient bridges between our two cultures."
You can fill out a form here. And let's discuss this topic in the comments too. I like the idea of great literature as a bridge between cultures. In this light, I would like to know what works in Arabic would be good for us Americans to read in English. Also, what kinds of books are most likely to bring different people together? Do you think the vivid pictures of the trials and triumphs of life in a particular place are most effective?

Isn't it patriotic to pay taxes?

Let me inflict another McCain ad you. This one riffs on Joe Biden's statement that they wealthy ought pay more taxes, because "It's time to be patriotic ... time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut."

Of course, the McCain campaign is thoroughly justified in taking Biden's statement and running with it, but let's give Biden a chance to defend himself. I certainly think he's being honest and believes, as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., put it "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." I think it's is patriotic to pay our share for the civilization we get from the government that taxes us. (But let government give us civilization for the price.)

Anyway, here's what Biden is saying today:
"Catholic social doctrine as I was taught it is, you take care of people who need the help the most. Now it'd be different if you could make the case to me that by giving this tax cut to the very wealthy, everybody else was going to be better off. We saw what happened the last eight years when we gave that tax cut."

He then explained his statement, first made at a rally in Sarasota, FL, two weeks ago, that asking the wealthiest Americans to accept tax hikes would be patriotic. And he added that the tax rates would still be lower than they were under the Reagan administration.

"I tell you, Democrats,” Biden said, gritting his teeth. "Don't you step down from anybody telling you that we don't value, we don't have American values. … I want this debate about values! I want this debate about American values."
Yes, don't you step down. Stand up! Stand up for American values.

By the way, would you want the government to adhere to Catholic social doctrine?

ADDED: Why does Biden only give 0.06 to 0.31% of his adjusted gross income to charity?

IN THE COMMENTS: campy said...
Theocracy! Wall of separation!

Oh wait, he's a dem. Never mind.
Yeah. Good point. Imagine if Sarah Palin backed up one of her political opinions with the assertion that it comported with the doctrine of her church. I will wait and wait for Andrew Sullivan to denounce Biden as a Christianist.

Palladian said....
The government is a lot like the Catholic church: an unaccountable, mystical authority that issues unquestionable edicts from a faraway domed temple ministered over by unelected robed clerics who announce their decisions by occasionally blowing smoke through their chimneys.
So maybe the dome in that "Dome" ad was St. Peter's!

So is Franklin Raines an Obama economic advisor or not?

The Obama campaign does not like this ad:

And it's denying that Raines is an advisor. But then the Washington Post would have to be wrong. You can't bash McCain for basing the ad on the info in the Post and specifically identifying the Post as the source.

Here's what the Post has today:
The McCain campaign cited a July Washington Post profile of Raines as the source for his connection to Obama. In that profile, it was reported that he had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters." In a statement issued by the Obama campaign late Thursday, Raines strongly denied having provided counsel to Obama, saying: "I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters."
That's all, which I take to mean the WaPo stands behind its original reporting. If the original reporting is true, then Raines is an Obama advisor and a liar.

AND: WaPo's Howard Kurtz says:
The commercial's main charge is based on an April story in The Washington Post that said Raines has "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters." Reporter Anita Huslin says Raines told her that during an in-person interview....

Whether viewers will somehow hold Obama responsible for the Fannie Mae collapse because of what is at best a slight association with its former head is open to question. The commercial seems intended as a response to an earlier Obama spot charging that McCain can't clean up Washington because seven of his top campaign officials are former lobbyists.
MORE: Time's Karen Tumulty says "McCain Plays the Race Card"!
This is hardly subtle: Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman.
2 black men: Obama and Raines!

AND: Tumulty makes much of the fact that the ad doesn't mention Jim Johnson: "Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black." But the campaign does have an ad based on Johnson:

UPDATE: WaPo says it's a stretch to make much of anything out of the Obama-Raines relationship:
I asked [the author of the Raines profile Anita] Huslin to provide the exact circumstances of that passage. She said that she was chatting with Raines during the photo shoot, and asked "if he was engaged at all with the Democrats' quest for the White House. He said that he had gotten a couple of calls from the Obama campaign. I asked him about what, and he said, 'Oh, general housing, economy issues.' ('Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific?' I asked, and he said 'no.')"

Google co-founder Sergey Brin blogs on Google-owned Blogger in the Minima template.

It's a new blog, called Too, and he's using the black version of the Minima template, which I use in white. (I use black Minima on my extremely minimal Me Blog.) Brin has made it super-basic with no side bar.

He's only got 3 posts. One to introduce the blog, a second to drive traffic to charities, and a third, longer post about his discovery that he has a genetic predisposition to Parkinson's Disease. This post also serves to publicize his wife's business, 23andMe, which does DNA testing. There is some reflection on the use of knowing that you are more likely than the average person to get a particular disease:
I know early in my life something I am substantially predisposed to. I now have the opportunity to adjust my life to reduce those odds (e.g. there is evidence that exercise may be protective against Parkinson's). I also have the opportunity to perform and support research into this disease long before it may affect me.
(Brin has $15.9 billion.)
And, regardless of my own health it can help my family members as well as others.

I feel fortunate to be in this position. Until the fountain of youth is discovered, all of us will have some conditions in our old age only we don't know what they will be. I have a better guess than almost anyone else for what ills may be mine -- and I have decades to prepare for it.
I don't know if Brin means to keep blogging here or if the blog was created simply to make the announcement about his genetic condition. I found the blog via the NYT, which said that Brin made the announcement through the blog.

Would you get genetic testing to find out about your predisposition to a diseases that you could do nothing about?

ADDED: Brin isn't a very clear thinker. This statement is obviously false:
Until the fountain of youth is discovered, all of us will have some conditions in our old age only we don't know what they will be.
Not everyone lives to old age. Moreover, some people remain healthy into old age and then die suddenly of a heart attack, stroke, or ax murder. He has fallen far short of making the argument that we should all want the product his wife's business sells.

What lies beneath Althouse's purported cruel neutrality? -- a poll.

You know I like to say I've taken a vow of cruel neutrality. Here's a poll:

What lies beneath Althouse's purported cruel neutrality?
She's planning to vote for McCain.
She's planning to vote for Obama.
She's preserving some undecidedness but will in the end vote for McCain.
She's preserving some undecidedness but will in the end vote for Obama.
She's really undecided and it's a toss-up who she'll vote for.
She will retain her neutrality to the bitter end and ultimately abstain from voting. free polls

Scientists can tell who's conservative: They're the ones who blink and sweat a lot when startled.

According to a study that seems designed to get the maximum possible press coverage.

Don't you know it's your primal wussiness that's making you support capitalism, military power, and traditional values?

But let's take this seriously for a minute:
The researchers asked 46 volunteers about their views on a variety of political issues, including foreign aid, immigration policies, and gun control.

Two months later, they showed the volunteers a series of pictures, which included frightening images interspersed with pictures of a bunny, a bowl of fruit and a happy child while measuring the electrical conductance of the volunteers' skin, which signalled sweating, a characteristic used in polygraphs (lie tests).

They also played a series of sudden noises and monitored the volunteers' eye response, since harder blinks are a reflex response that signal heightened fear.

People who are physiologically highly responsive to threat are likely to advocate policies that protect against threats to the social unit: favouring defence spending, capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq War.

In contrast, people who are less startled by sudden noises and threatening visual images are more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism and gun control.
It's interesting, in this context, that gun control goes with the liberal ideas. It suggests that liberals support gun control not so much because they are afraid of gun violence, but because they are relaxed about the possibility that they may need to defend themselves.

I'm inclined to believe that there is something at a very basic physical level that makes a person tend toward conservatism or liberalism. And this study -- even assuming it's accurate -- doesn't necessarily mean that conservatives are more cowardly than liberals, only that they are more sharply tuned to perceptions of threat.

Perceiving and responding to threats had obvious survival value for human beings over the span of evolutionary time, beyond what makes sense in the modern world. But there is also value in remaining calm and steady in the face of threat and in accurately perceiving that a seeming threat is not real.

Who's to say what level of over- or under-reaction to threat would have been most useful to our distant ancestors as the human race evolved over the ages? But we've inherited variable tendencies, and it stands to reason that these feelings and capacities affect our political views.

Perhaps if we truly understood this, our political arguments would mellow.

September 18, 2008

It's the University of Wisconsin beer class with beer tastings!

But this is quite serious. It's a fermentation and zymurgy class in the bacteriology department, with prerequisites in microbiology, biochemistry, and organic chemistry.
[The teacher Jon] Roll said students will plot yeast growth curves, learn how to properly pair foods with a variety of beers and taste test their creations....

MillerCoors has donated a $100,000 set of pilot-scale brewing equipment to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to train future fermentation experts and advance the science of biotechnology....

“It’s meant to benefit first and foremost our students and our future,” [UW Chancellor Biddy] Martin said, adding it would also supply the industry with “a pipeline of well-educated, motivated graduates who can step right in and help the companies that they choose to work with. It’s a win-win.”...

“We’re thrilled to celebrate the roles that fermentation plays and to create the scientists of the future that will lead us forward in a whole host of products and technologies that will be crucial for this state’s and our nation’s success,” [CALS Dean Molly Jahn] said.
Just one of the many wonderful reasons to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And the night is young here in Madison, where it is time, once again, to celebrate fermentation.

IN THE COMMENTS: A lot of you are into home brewery.

"Wooden Squirrel Cage Machine Obsesses Over Your Thoughts For You."

That's right. Wooden Squirrel Cage Machine Obsesses Over Your Thoughts For You.

"The hacker said that he read all of the e-mails in the Palin account and found 'nothing incriminating...'"

"... 'nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped. All I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor…. And pictures of her family.'"

Glenn Reynolds calls attention to something important in the news reports of Sarah Palin's hacked email. He comments that the hacker's scheme will probably backfire. But now, wait a minute. Let's look at it from another angle.

How do we know the hacker was really anti-Palin? Why take his assertions at face value? I'm focusing on the strong and helpful assertion that he's read it all and that there is "nothing incriminating," everything is perfectly fine. Isn't that convenient? Why don't we start suspecting that the hacker was pro-Palin?

After all, everything here helps Palin. She's had her privacy violated, so we feel outraged, sympathetic, and protective. And yet, what we're told was found absolves her of the charge that she's done something wrong.

Margaret Cho shoulders everyone else aside in the raging competition to say the most offensive thing about Sarah Palin.

Oh, settle down. She's a comedian. You have to imagine her saying it.

Look out! The giant dome of government is encroaching!

IN THE COMMENTS: Madawaskan notes the similarity to this:

Judges in shorts.

There are a lot of problems with the 1,250 town and village courts in New York, according to a new report, but some things are truly alarming:
Some of the more serious problems uncovered in the report include a duplication of town courts in some areas and a severe shortage in other areas; justices who hand down sentences with seeming disregard for the law; and inadequate courtroom facilities.

The report referred to one judge who threatened a litigant for not adhering to a court order, writing to him on court stationery, “Remember, I know where you live.” The report also described one courtroom that was no more than a small, poorly ventilated room attached to the town garage. Judges told the commission that the room got so hot in the summer that they had to wear shorts while hearing cases.

ADDED: Here's email from Dan Majchrzak of Rochester, NY:
I am a NY attorney, former ADA and currently a law clerk for a State Supreme Court Justice. I can tell you as a former ADA, when I worked in town and village courts, some of the justices were indeed laypersons, but their results and decisions were almost always where the ball would fall if a lawyer-judge were presiding. Being the prosecutor in a small village court with a lay judge, I had a real interest in ensuring that the record was correct and that the judge made the right call--win or lose for me. These judges were always thorough and fair and in many instances, put far more thought into an issue than many lawyer judges would have. I suspect that this report is a call for a full employment act for the bar. The current system has been in place for over 100 years and the results are fair. As far as lay judge misconduct, there is an equal amount of misconduct reported on lawyer judges across the state which is the subject of judicial misconduct reports. So, just thought I'd give you an added perspective on this.

"People shouldn't make a decision this time based on, 'I like that guy' or 'she's cute.'"

"And I'm talking about me."

Michelle Obama cracks a joke.

Seinfeld sacked.

Those Microsoft ads were just too advanced for us.

UPDATE: Seinfeld not sacked.

"One can cook really delicious things with [breast milk]. However, it always needs to be mixed with a bit of whipped cream..."

It's on the menu in Switzerland, thanks to a loophole in the law.
The food control authority in Switzerland was initially confused by the apparent loophole in local legislation regulating the use of human milk and it was not clear whether Mr Locher could actually be banned from serving his specialities.

"Humans as producers of milk are simply not envisaged in the legislation.

"They are not on the list of approved species such as cows and sheep, but they are also not on the list of the banned species such as apes and primates," Rolf Etter of the Zurich food control laboratory said.
As I say in the sidebar: I'm a law professor, and sometimes I write about law. To that I add: Sometimes I blog about breasts. And sometimes I blog about breasts and the law.


You know, Justice Scalia was just bitching about law school courses like "'Law and Poverty,' or other made-up stuff." I'd just like to point out that one could do a course called "Law and Breasts." There's this topic of whether a restaurant can serve breast milk, but there are all sorts of other things. I can easily find many things in my old blog posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.


If you think the subject of food made with breast milk is funny -- or if you have any sense of humor at all -- you should buy Season 5 of "The Ricky Gervais Show" (the podcast). There's a bit where Ricky is thoroughly disgusted by a hippie woman who brings a housewarming gift of rice pudding and informs the recipient that she's made it with her breast milk.

"I’m totally amazed that my art is selling while banks are falling."

"I guess it means that people would rather put their money into butterflies than banks — seems like a better world today to me."

£111 million for Damien Hirst.

"I am a joyless, bloodsucking bastard. But during the most joyless time of my joyless, bloodsucking life..."

"... he made me laugh."

"As an economist, I am supposed to have something intelligent to say about the current financial crisis."

"To be honest, however, I haven’t got the foggiest idea what this all means."

Whew. And I was feeling bad about not having anything worthwhile to say.

That quote is from Steven D. Levitt. But Levitt gets Douglas W. Diamond and Anil K. Kashyap to explain many things, which they do very clearly, answering a series of questions:
1) What has happened that is so remarkable?

2) Why did these things happen?

3) Why did the Treasury and Fed let Lehman fail but rescue Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and A.I.G.?

4) I do not work at Lehman or A.I.G. and do not own much stock; why should I care?

5) What does it mean for the Fed and Treasury going ahead?

6) What does this mean for the markets going ahead?

7) When will the turmoil end?

"And John McCain either doesn't know who the Prime Minister of Spain is, thinks Spain is a country in Latin America, or possibly both."

Writes Josh Marshall (about this interview).
After the interviewer presses him a couple times on the point and tries to focus him on the fact that Prime Minister Zapatero isn't from Mexico and isn't a drug lord either McCain comes back at her saying, "All I can tell you is that I have a clear record of working with leaders in the Hemisphere that are friends with us and standing up to those who are not. And that's judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America and the entire region."

Then there's a moment of awkward pause before she says. "But what about Europe? I'm talking about the President of Spain."

McCain: "What about me, what?["]

Interviewer: "Are you willing to meet with him if you're elected president?"

McCain: "I am wiling to meet with any leader who is dedicated to the same principles and philosophy that we are for humans rights, democracy and freedom. And I will stand up to those who do not."

At this point, the interviewer gets tongue-tied presumably because she can't get over McCain not knowing what Spain is.
I've listened to the audio, and what Marshall is missing is that when the interviewer says "But what about Europe?" it sounds as though she says "But what about you?" That's why McCain says "What about me, what?"

There's not as easy an explanation for why McCain is unresponsive about Spain initially, but goes back to the previous subject of Latin America and goes on about Mexico. It's impossible to believe that McCain doesn't know where Spain is. But it is possible that he didn't recognize the name Zapatero or doesn't know enough about the country to want to say anything coherent about it. It seems more likely that he was getting tired of the interview or finding the interviewer a little hard to understand, and he was just trying to get to the end and it showed.

UPDATE: First, please note that my comment above isn't meant to completely absolve McCain. I have taken a vow of cruel neutrality. I say what I think regardless of whose ox is gored. Now, here's the update: WaPo reports:
McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Sheunemann said McCain's answer was intentional.

"The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero (and id'd him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview," he said in an e-mail....

Asked to explain McCain's apparent shift in tone and position since April, Scheunemann gave almost no ground.

"In this week's interview, Senator McCain did not rule in or rule out a White House meeting with President Zapatero, a NATO ally," he said in an e-mail. "If elected, he will meet with a wide range of allies in a wide variety of venues but is not going to spell out scheduling and meeting location specifics in advance. He also is not going to make reckless promises to meet America's adversaries. It's called keeping your options open, unlike Senator Obama, who has publicly committed to meeting some of the world's worst dictators unconditionally in his first year in office."
In other words, bumbling as it sounds, he meant to do that.

Your baby wants you to smoke.

1950s ads (via Boing Boing).

I love the notion of not wanting to "feel over-smoked."

"Other /b/tards were displeased to miss a chance at the lulz."

Explaining the Palin email hacking. I'm slightly interested in the lingo and folkways of these internet people -- previously discussed here. It's important to understand that there are people like this.

Sean Hannity interviews Sarah Palin.

Video: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.



1. TBogg mocks Palin's speech. She does chatter through a lot of phrases that often don't hang together as sentences. And she gets words wrong, saying "lack" for "lax" (or "lacking") and "verbage" -- twice -- for "verbiage." This is a fair criticism. I get the feeling she tries to impress by speaking quickly and without the filler words like "uh" and "you know" that many people (including Barack Obama) use to steal the time to make better sentences. TBogg makes a wisecrack that has a reek of racism: "Her first language is Alaskimo."

2. Unbossed complains about the lack of content: "What? What? Government 'can play a very, very appropriate role'; 'when we see the collapse that we’re seeing today, you know that something is broken'; 'McCain has a great plan to get in there and fix it'. I know nothing more about their plans than when she started to 'explain' them." Me neither. There's a problem and they are going to fix it. Long answers boil down to that.

3. Andrew Sullivan detects a lie. Did she ask her daughters if they wanted her to run for VP or suddenly surprise them with the news? Then, in an update, he undetects a lie. That post is a good example of why you should hesitate to use the word "lie." I recommend language like "seeming contradiction" and allowing time for explanations to filter in before concluding "lie."

4. Lawyers, Guns & Money works the "pig" insult: "I would suggest here that Sarah Palin is pig-ignorant, but that would be an insult to pigs. Pigs, after all -- being pigs -- know what it is that they're supposed to do each day, what with the rooting and wallowing and squealing and such." Driving home the point that Palin is an idiot, LGM uses the nonword "spindler."

5. Personally, I found the interview tiresome. I think we are well beyond the yes-I-can-speak phase. And the fact is that she doesn't really speak very well when you start looking for structure and content. There's a superficial gloss to it that may be enough if you want to like her or think you need to give her a chance to settle into this new role. But now it's time to calm down and really communicate.

Jim Pinkerton and Jane Hamsher: The Essence of a Relationship in 45 Seconds.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bissage said...
That’s uncanny!

A girlfriend and I had that exact same dynamic going on.

She too was a robot from outer space controlled by a device that looked like an orchid.

September 17, 2008

Dehumanizing paintings.


Maybe it's time to end this cruel neutrality... and to dress up like a panda...

... and vote for Ralph Nader.

(Via Bloggingheads.)


Why not? Do you want a treadmill in front of your desk at work? I mean, as long as it's optional!

I keep 5-pound weights on my desk and use them when I'm reading the computer screen and don't need my hands on the keyboard. And I'm thinking of buying a desk that has a motor that changes the height so it can be a standing desk when I'm in the mood for that. And also this little bouncy, wobbly stool for it.

Computers hypnotize me into sitting frozen in place. I need other inanimate objects to break up this unhealthy relationship.

Justice Scalia knocks The University of Chicago Law School, those infamous "Law and" courses, and possibly (tacitly) Barack Obama.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports on Justice Scalia's address to The Federalist Society:
After Scalia left the [University of Chicago Law School], it hired now-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and started offering classes like Obama's popular "Current issues in Racism and the Law."

Scalia never mentioned Obama or any other professor. But Scalia bemoaned the proliferation of exotic law classes in the country's law schools.

"I took nothing but bread-and-butter classes, not "Law and Poverty," or other made-up stuff,["] Scalia said to laughter. He said his advice to law students was: "Take serious classes. There's so much law to learn. Don't waste your time."

The question posed to Scalia was what he thought of the ideological change at the University of Chicago Law School since he was a teacher there.

"I regret it," Scalia said. "I don't think the University of Chicago is what it was in my time. I would not recommend it to students looking for a law school as I would have years ago. It has changed considerably and intentionally. It has lost the niche it once had as a rigorous and conservative law school."

He also informed the crowd that he doesn't know anything more than "Joe Six-pack" about "homosexual sodomy," which makes me think I should, with anticipation, add the "funny in the comments" tag to this post. Please don't disappoint me.


We were just talking about change. Change in general, change in Obamology, and change in Sitemeter. And as I'm slowing getting caught up in reading the comments that collected when I was enjoying a change in scenery -- traveling to South Carolina for a wedding -- I ran across Joe's comment on that "America wants change" post. He was quoting those famous lyrics:
(Turn and face the strain)
Don't want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strain)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
So I wanted to watch the video:

This got me thinking about songs with stuttering. I'd like to see a big list. Here's one. But I want more. And I'd like to know who started it. I always think of "My Generation," but there must be a lot of other earlier songs that filled out the beats with the nice idea of just stuttering. There's "Barbara Ann," originally done by The Regents (in 1961) and famously covered by The Beach Boys, The Who, and John McCain.

But "Barbara Ann" is kind of a late Doo Wop song. Doo Wop was full of nonsense syllables, and some of those old Doo Wo songs must use the syllables from the non-nonsense words and thus be the precursors of the very memorable stuttering songs like "My Generation," "Changes," "Benny and the Jets," etc., etc.

And even before Doo Wop, there must have been some old novelty songs with stuttering. Ah! I thought of it!

There now, I've got us back to 1917. Can you find anything earlier?


1. Here's a list of famous people who stutter (or stuttered)... including Joe Biden, whose strange smiling is connected to his efforts to overcome stuttering:
Biden’s most notorious feature is his mouth. But in his youth, he had a stutter. As a freshman in high school he was exempted from public speaking because of his disability, and was ridiculed by teachers and peers. His nickname was Dash, because of his inability to finish a sentence.

He developed an odd smile as a way to relax his facial muscles (it still shows up while he’s speaking today) and he’s spent his adulthood making up for any comments that may have gone unmade during his youth.
2. Here's a great episode of "This American Life":
Kevin Murphy is a college student in Idaho who stutters. Using the power of radio editing, he and the production staff of This American Life removed his pauses, stutters and repeats so that he could record a message in which he doesn't stutter at all. This allowed him to tape a message about something that's been bothering him, to send to one man ... a pizza guy, in Idaho.
3. Mel Blanc as Porky Pig sang "K-k-k Katy." It's so apt for the famous cartoon stutterer to sing the original (?) stuttering song. I could find video of that but I did find this:

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy."

"He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

#78 in a collection of "moments" from the 2008 campaign.

Obama negotiations with Iraq.

Amir Taheri had an article in the NY Post on Monday:
WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence....
Today, Taheri writes:
[Obama's attempted rebuttal] confirms precisely what I suggested in my article: Obama preferred to have no agreement on US troop withdrawals until a new administration took office in Washington....

The real news I see in the Obama statement is that there may be an encouraging evolution in his position on Iraq: The "rebuttal" shows that the senator no longer shares his party leadership's belief that the United States has lost the war in Iraq....
You need to read the whole article to understand these conclusions.

5 old presidential campaign ads.

For LBJ, Ford, Ike, JFK, and Dukakis. I love the variation in style, which, in each case, belongs so clearly to its decade.

I don't agree with John Dickerson that these are all great ads. I didn't remember that Dukakis put out that "heartbeat away" ad. Man, that was in poor taste. The Ford one was poignantly pathetic. The JFK ad was incredibly boring. The Ike ad was similarly boring but fascinating to us today because of the very old-fashioned presentation of the woman's role. That leaves Johnson's anti-Goldwater ad. I loved that one.

"The 20 Most Obnoxious Anti-Palin Quotes So Far."

I'll highlight a few, but read the whole thing.
18) (John McCain has chosen a running mate) "whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion." -- South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler

17) "With Sarah Palin, America has taken one very large leap toward a completely theocratic politics." -- Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic

16) "They are true believers in the idea that one can be very sexy but also desexualized, which is why Palin is being treated like this giant sex object, because she's got a practiced ability at being f*ckable without showing that she might be the sort who wants to f*ck." -- Former John Edwards's blogger Amanda Marcotte from Pandagon...

6) "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman." -- Wendy Doniger at the Washington Post...
Pandagon seems to be down this morning. You might have to get back to that one later. The "they" in "they are true believers" includes me, of all people. And the post is the same one I was talking about yesterday, in my post about my post that is the 11th buzziest post of all time.

(Just trying to see how many times I can use the word "post" in one sentence. I hope I'm not dumb as a post. Don't you think "Dumb as a Post" would be a good name for a blog?)

But let me focus on #6. I see it's one of WaPo's "On Faith" columns, which you know I loathe. Let's read it:
Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman. The Republican party's cynical calculation that because she has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies (and drives them to school! wow!) she speaks for the women of America, and will capture their hearts and their votes, has driven thousands of real women to take to their computers in outrage. She does not speak for women; she has no sympathy for the problems of other women, particularly working class women.
I'm glad Wendy Doniger put that in writing, because it's what I think many Democrats think and I like having such a clear statement to point to. It's what I had in mind when I wrote:
The feminism of the last dozen years has been a dull, uninspired argument for keeping Democratic politicians in power.

But feminism is something that transcends party politics. Women have interests that the parties should have to compete for. I want a vivid debate about what is good for women. Sarah Palin represents one argument, and her feminism will require Democrats to improve their argument and not take women for granted. Sarah Palin brings feminism to a lot of people who've been scorning feminism -- because feminism has seemed like a strand of Democratic party politics.
There's nothing more feminist than a woman having a mind of her own and speaking it. Doniger's feminism says: Shut up and be our idea of what a good woman is.

Thomas Frank wants a class war.

You know, Thomas Frank -- of "What's the Matter With Kansas?" -- has a weekly Wall Street Journal column. Today's piece has a great title: "Get Your Class War On." So let's read!
Now comes the fall culture-war offensive, catching the Democrats by surprise as it always does and spreading panic and desperation among their ranks. As the depth of the Republican breakthrough becomes apparent to Democrats, they launch the same feeble counterattacks that failed them last time, prudishly correcting misleading GOP advertisements and crying for the recess monitor when the other side plays dirty.
Painfully apt.
Things would go better for Democrats if they recognized the culture war for what it is: a debased form of class war, a false populism in which an "authentic" America rises up against its would-be masters, an effete bunch of arugula-eaters who say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."...

Since the 1970s, and with only a few exceptions, the Democratic response to this endlessly recurring attack has been to regard it as something beneath contempt -- which only reinforces the persecution fantasies at the heart of the culture-war myth. Take GOP vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin, for example, the flag bearer for this year's fall offensive. Like every other culture warrior before her, Mrs. Palin presents herself as a person looked down on and sneered at by the high and the mighty, defined as the liberal elite. Look down on or sneer at Mrs. Palin and you have merely reinforced the story, offered an illustration of what the lady is talking about.
That's an effective dynamic. Attack her and you promote her.

Frank goes on to say the Democrats should wage a "class war" by blaming Republican ideology for the current economic "catastrophe."
There is simply no way to blame this disaster, as Republicans used to do, on labor unions or over-regulation.
Oh, of course, there's a way.

I've been avoiding writing about this person lately.

But I want to flag this current story.

Click the tag for old posts about him. I haven't been publicizing his run for Congress.

A Motion W update.

2 years ago we talked about the Motion W dispute. Washburn was horning in on Wisconsin's distinctively motion-oriented "W." I thought you'd like to know that Wisconsin prevailed and Washburn will be finding a different "W." We don't claim to own a whole letter, just a distinctively motion-oriented one.

September 16, 2008

"Am I the only one who believes that blinking is actually healthy?"

"I feel it clears out irritants of the eye."

This bit about blinking on "The Daily Show" really cracks me up. [NOTE: Start at 3:50 if you like Palin, or you'll be turned off before you get to the really funny part.]

"The Intent was to paint a Picture of Mrs. Palin in the Mind of the Audience as a Sow. Such a crude Jape..."

After my weekend jaunt to Hilton Head Island, I've got so many unread comments to review for spam and other delete-able things. I enjoy reading the good comments too, but it's really hard when I've fallen behind. I'm trying to catch up right now, moving quickly through the backlog, but I've got to stop and savor this one: another visitation from our ghost commenter Sir Archy.

It's back here, on "Enough with the pigs, fish, snakes, and lambs... here come the wolves!"
To Professor Althouse.

Dear Madam,

As the Ghost of a Gentleman, dead these 260 Years & more, you may imagine the Insults & Calumnies to which I have been witness. Nothing more stabs the Conscience, and arouses tender Feelings of Sympathy in a gallant Gentleman, than Slanders & Libels direct'd without Justice against a Member of the Fair Sex, especially if Comparisons be made with Beasts.

Mr. Obama's late Jest upon Pigs in a Political Oration would at first appear to be such a thing. The careful Observer will see, however, only a small Slander grown out of Proportion. The Intent was to paint a Picture of Mrs. Palin in the Mind of the Audience as a Sow. Such a crude Jape, unworthy of a Gentleman of Mr. Obama's Reputation, should not, in itself, arouse excessively chivalrous & gallant Sentiments in her male Admirers; 'twas but a passing Jest upon Mrs. Palin's own Words. Mr. Obama also made it with no little Indirection, as befits a Gentleman who would perhaps insult a Lady, altho' the Audience wanted no Hint to take his Meaning.

Yet, Madam, there remains another View of such petty Barbs. Habitual vehement Jesting against Women renders the Conscience of both the Teller & Hearer insensible by Degrees to very real Wrongs, nay mortal Injuries, that may in the end be done. Such crude & unfeeling Sentiments seem to well up naturally in brutish Men of poor Breeding & little Sense. They reqire strong Correction, lest the noblest Impulses of the human Heart be utterly extinguish'd and Society corrupt'd.

By way of Example, the following Account is from a London News-paper in my Day, shewing where ill-temper'd Designs of mix't Pigs & Women may lead:—
The London Journal
22nd August 1730.

We hear that at the late Assizes held at Bridgwater, an Indictment was preferred against a Sow-Gelder, for attempting to spay his Wife; but she refused to prosecute, and acknowledged her Forgiveness of him, and desired the Court would do the same: However, the Court remanded him back to Prison, and, for the sake of the good Women in general, ordered him to remain there 'till he could give 400l. Security for his good Behaviour during Life.

The Occasion of this vile Attempt, was this: The Sow-Gelder being in Company with several other married Men over a Pot of Ale, they all join’d in Complaint of the Fruitfulness of their Wives, because of the Charges brought upon them thereby; and asking him, whether he could not do by their Wives as by other Animals, he said he could; and they all agreed their good Women should undergo the Operation, provided he would begin with his own: This, with a great Oath, he undertook; and going Home, by Violence gagg’d and bound his Wife, and laying her on a Table, made a transverse Incision on the side of her Belly; but after much Puzzling, and putting the poor Woman to great Torment, he found there was some Difference between the Situation of the Parts in the rational & irrational Animals, and so, sewing up the Wound, he was forced to give up the Experiment. The Woman in her first Agonies appear'd strenuously against him, but being Recovered by the Time of the Trial, was so generous as to forgive him, and plead for his Pardon, as above.

I remember to have read one Instance (if I mistake not) of the Duke of Cleve’s Sow-Gelder, who actually perform’d this Operation on his Daughter, whom he suspect'd to be young with Child by an inveigling Courtier; but as he went through-stitch with his Work, so his Prince wen through-stitch with him, putting him to a cruel & exemplary Death for so inhuman an Action.
* * * * * * * *

This Account ravels several Strands that may be pull'd from the Life Story of Mrs. Palin. Nay, they are some of the Warp & Woof of the Stuff of a modern Civilized Society, where Children are count'd as an Expense, and being rid of them the Provenance of Physick. Our Sow-Gelder wanted only Knowledge of Modern Chiurgeury to compleat his Task, and so excuse himself from the Bother & Expense of Parenthood, continuing, as he would, Relations with his Wife.

Mrs. Palin & her Family have woven a pretty Tapestry, after their Fashion, from these Threads. The Sow-Gelder and his poor Wife made a very different Picture; shewing that Selfishness and ill-regard for Women, indeed, clownish Disrespect for the very Act of Procreation, are not the especial Possession of this Age.

Beggging your Pardon for the excessive Length of my Epistle, but praying that rational & sensible Persons will be reminded thus of the Difference between a Woman & a Pig, and so Men & Beasts, I am,


Your humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy


Utterly squelched?

""You... can be a millionaire... and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire... and never pay taxes!"

"You say... 'Steve.. how can I be a millionaire... and never pay taxes?' First... get a million dollars. Now... you say, 'Steve... what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, "You... have never paid taxes"?' Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: 'I forgot!' How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say 'I forgot'? Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, 'I forgot armed robbery was illegal.' Let's suppose he says back to you, 'You have committed a foul crime. You have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, "I forgot"?' Two simple words: 'Excuuuuuse me!!'"

Just an old Steve Martin routine that I'll never forget and that sprang to mind once again just now... when I read this story about how Charles Rangel is getting off the hook for his tax problems.

ADDED: Glenn Reynolds says:
[I]f I were the GOP I'd put together an ad featuring Biden's credit-card connections, Dodd's sweetheart mortgage scandal, and Rangel's ongoing problems and run it all over. I can't believe they won't do something like that, since it's a gimme, and I'm surprised that the Dems couldn't get him out of the picture.

If you are truly opposed to abortion, why would you have amniocentesis -- as Sarah Palin did -- knowing that it might kill the unborn child?

Andrew Sullivan raises doubts about whether Sarah Palin is really as pro-Life as she claims. The premise is that to have amniocentesis is to act in a way that reflects a belief that abortion is a possibility.

I note the additional question: If amniocentesis really means that, why did Palin disclose that she had it? The answer would need to be that she wanted to tell the world that she knew she was about to give birth to a child with Down Syndrome and wanted pro-Life credit for her... I was going to say decision. Which brings us back to Sullivan's question.

(Sullivan has more here, where readers have attempted answers.)

ADDED: This question is being discussed on Metafilter, with many good comments, especially this from anastasiav:
And if, for whatever reason, the parents are sure that they will not abort the child, then there is no point in getting tested because the information gained is of no use.

I'd like to speak to this. I was tested. If our son had Down Syndrome I would not have terminated the pregnancy (although I might have if some of the more horrific abnormalities that are possible had been present) -- but it was important to me to know. In advance. Not find out the day my perfect and dreamed of child was born, but far enough in advance to plan and learn and grieve if I needed to. Far enough in advance so that everyone would know and no one would recoil in surprise and then try to put on their "oh what a lovely baby" mask. Far enough in advance to be able to understand what I was getting into before I was standing in the middle of the field.

Its commonplace now to learn the gender of your child in advance "so you can plan." I see this testing as no different. Its a way to be prepared. To plan.

Thump Hummer Palin.

That's my name according to the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator.

Via Wonkette ("What Sort of Made-Up White Trash Name Would Sarah Palin Give You?")


... stuff.

Hey, I wrote the 11th Buzziest Blog Post of All Time.

Per Nerve.

BTW: Amanda Marcotte is still buzzing about it. Without linking too, which causes the buzz to be underestimated. I'd probably be in the top 10 without her unscrupulous underlinking.

Teleprompters and tanning beds.

1. Sarah Palin said "The teleprompter got messed up, I couldn’t follow it, and I just decided I’d just talk to the people in front of me" but maybe the teleprompter wasn't broken. What's with dissing teleprompters that may in fact be functioning properly? Hey, isn't this the oldest speakers trick in the book? I came here tonight with a prepared speech -- wave the papers around -- but then I saw you and decided to speak straight from my heart -- make a show of setting the papers to the side. It's a little cornball, but... whatever. Doesn't work too well if you've distributed the text in advance, and the straight-from-the-heart talk is nearly the same, which is what happened to Palin. Good to know the press is keeping her honest and protecting the reputation of the unfairly maligned teleprompter.

2. Sarah Palin bought a tanning bed for the governor's mansion. She paid for it with her own money, but still, she bought a tanning bed for the governor's mansion. Don't you think that says something about her? People, she tans! Is she tanorexic? In what other exercises of personal vanity does she indulge? Let's view her rifle-wielding and posing with dead moose in the light of the tanning bed. It's all a big narcissistic show. Come on, America. Wise up to this lady. She wants to be President so she can swan around on the national stage like a big beauty queen.

"Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes."

Sorry I avoided this NYT article the other day. (I was traveling.) The article forefronts 3 items: 1. the hiring a high school friend to the state agriculture department, 2. the exclusion of "frustrated legislators and mayors" as she "huddled with her budget director and her husband and decided to veto various projects in the state budget, and 3. the fact that one of her assistants purported called an anti-Palin blogger and told her to stop blogging.

These items exemplify what the NYT says is "her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics — she sometimes calls local opponents 'haters.'"
Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials....

Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy.

Women have more nightmares.

Supposedly, according to some study. I'm mainly posting this because I think it's a good setup for punchlines and other comedy. I'm putting my "funny in the comments" tag on this. Please don't disappoint me.

What should Jim Lehrer ask McCain and Obama at the first presidential debate next Friday?

The debate is September 26 and the topic is domestic and economic policy. There will be 9 segments, each 9 minutes long. (I hope the candidates will be dressed to the nines.)

I'd like to see one the 9 segments delve into Obama's record on teaching kindergartners all about sex and McCain's purportedly sleazy lying about it. (See previous post.) Within that boiling controversy is a serious subject about whether government should use the education system to inculcate traditional or progressive values. I'd try to pin the candidates down. Doesn't Obama want children to learn that gay people are every bit the equal of heterosexuals whether their parents agree with that or not? Doesn't McCain want heterosexuality consistently presented as the norm? Would he recommend removing books like "Daddy's Roommate" from school libraries? And don't just let them off the hook with magic words about decisions to be made by local government.

UPDATE: They've changed the topic for the first debate to foreign policy. The domestic and economic policy topic has been moved to the third debate, on October 15. It will have 9 segments, each 9 minutes long again, but we'll get Bob Schieffer instead of Jim Lehrer and the candidates will sit at a table instead of standing at lecterns. I guess a table seems more domestic.

Was Obama's only education accomplishment "legislation to teach 'comprehensive sex education' to kindergartners"?

Byron York says yes, defending this McCain ad (which is probably one of the ads Obama called "sleaziest"). York says:
The legislation in question, a bill in the Illinois State Senate that was supported but not sponsored by Obama, was, according to Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, “written to protect young children from sexual predators” and had nothing to do with comprehensive sex education for kindergartners....

The bill in question was Senate Bill 99, introduced in the Senate in February 2003. Its broad purpose was to change and update portions of Illinois’s existing laws concerning sex education....

When the bill was introduced, a coalition of groups including the Illinois Public Health Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Cook County Department of Public Health, the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council and others issued a press release headlined “Coalition of Legislators, Physicians and Organizations Bring Illinois Into the 21st Century with Omnibus Healthcare Package.” It was a three-part campaign; Senate Bill 99, covering “medically accurate sex education,” was the first part, with two other bills addressing “funding for family planning services for women in need” and “contraceptive equity in health insurance.”

According to the press release, Senate Bill 99 required that “if a public school teaches sex education, family life education, and comprehensive health education courses, all materials and instruction must be medically and factually accurate.” The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Carol Ronen, was quoted saying, “It teaches students about the advantages of abstinence, while also giving them the realistic information they need about the prevention of an unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.” The release contained no mention of sexual predators or inappropriate touching....
Among other things, the bill removed what York calls "value-laden language" that in the old law, such as:
"Course material and instruction shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.

"Course material and instruction shall stress that pupils should abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready for marriage…

"[Classes] shall emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm in that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy [and] sexually transmitted diseases…"
In key language that Obama must now depend upon heavily, the bill provided that "all sex education courses that discuss sexual activity or behavior…be age and developmentally appropriate."

The bill does also have a provision about unwanted touching:
"Course material and instruction shall teach pupils to not make unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances and how to say no to unwanted sexual advances and shall include information about verbal, physical, and visual sexual harassment, including without limitation nonconsensual sexual advances, nonconsensual physical sexual contact, and rape by an acquaintance. The course material and instruction shall contain methods of preventing sexual assault by an acquaintance, including exercising good judgment and avoiding behavior that impairs one’s judgment. The course material and instruction shall emphasize personal accountability and respect for others and shall also encourage youth to resist negative peer pressure. The course material and instruction shall inform pupils of the potential legal consequences of sexual assault by an acquaintance. Specifically, pupils shall be advised that it is unlawful to touch an intimate part of another person as specified in the Criminal Code of 1961."
York thinks that provision doesn't seem to be about teaching the youngest kids to avoid sexual predators:
The wording of that provision suggests lawmakers were at least as concerned with protecting children from each other as from adults, and it doesn’t seem directed toward the youngest children, as Obama maintained. But there is no doubt that the bill did address the question of inappropriate touching. On the other hand, there is also no doubt that, looking at the overall bill, the “touching” provision did not have the prominence that Team Obama has suggested it had, and it certainly wasn’t the bill’s main purpose.
York describes his efforts to interview Illinois legislators who could give an account of what the legislation was intended to do.
“We know that young children, very, very young, have things happen to them that they don’t speak about,” [state senator Iris] Martinez told me. “It’s important that we teach our young kids very, very young to speak up.”

When I asked Martinez the rationale for changing grade six to kindergarten, she said that groups like Planned Parenthood and the Cook County Department of Health — both major contributors to the bill — “were finding that there were children younger than the sixth grade that were being inappropriately touched or molested.” When I asked about the elimination of references to marriage and the contraception passages, Martinez said that the changes were “based on some of the information we got from Planned Parenthood.”

After we discussed other aspects of the bill, I told Martinez that reading the bill, I just didn’t see it as being exclusively, or even mostly, about inappropriate touching. “I didn’t see it that way, either,” Martinez said. “It’s just more information about a whole variety of things that have to go into a sex education class, the things that are outdated that you want to amend with things that are much more current.”

So, I asked, you didn’t see it specifically as being about inappropriate touching?

“Absolutely not.”
York notes that "nearly all commentators" have accepted Obama's assertion that he voted for the bill because he was concerned about protecting young children from sexual predators, but:
The fact is, the bill’s intention was to mandate sex education, especially concerning contraception and the prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases, for children before the sixth grade and as early as kindergarten. Obama’s defenders may howl, but the bill is what it is.
If you still think the McCain ad lies about Obama, please explain why, using the text of the ad.

It seems to me that all the McCain ad does is decline to accept Obama's self-serving characterization of the reason why he voted for the bill. But study the text and the legislative history of the bill, as York has, and try to explain how it can possibly be considered a lie to say that he voted for comprehensive sex education for kindergartners.