January 31, 2009

At the Late Night Bistro...

The Bistro

... you can drag the conversation on into the wee hours.

Looks like Dennis has weighed in.

In answer to your first question: So did I. And I never slurped.

The Troll.

The Troll

"I have a crush on Jimmy Carter. I admit it. He has an extraordinary mind. He's an exceptional human being."

"And he writes poetry, for crying out loud. He's all good things."

George Obama, arrested.

Marijuana.

"Time Enough at Last" — the sequel.

Remember that great episode of "Twilight Zone" with Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis, the guy who only wanted to be left alone to read and gets his wish? Embedded below are the last 8 minutes to refresh your recollection (and you can watch the beginning and middle here and here if you want.)(And here's the Wikipedia entry to get up to speed more quickly.)



What I've been contemplating is "Time Enough at Last: The Sequel." I have my idea, but you go first.

ADDED: Here's better video, all in one piece, with a commercial.

Fat...

... or skinny?

ADDED: Can a 57-year-old woman wear a bikini? Frankly, I'm amazed that anyone without a near-perfect body would choose a bikini, but I'm sort of impressed that Anjelica Huston blithely exposes herself. And as long as we are reading The Daily Mail, let's look at this piece delving into Jessica Simpson's weight gain. I think she looks fine in the tight leather pants, but oh, those horrible blue jeans. She's not that fat...



That's pretty mean... but then again, why is Jessica Simpson a star? If you are a star because of your great body, isn't getting fat like a singer singing off key? Or is Jessica really also a singer? Really? She seems to be singing in those pictures. It says she stopped singing to talk about her weight:
"Please remember, no matter what you go through in life, somebody else might have it harder. I feel like in our world today we focus on so many things that are completely pointless. Thank you for your support. Stay positive, and pray out loud."
Pray... for... ??? Her to lose weight? Or for everyone to get over the thinness fixation? Or for that somebody else who has it harder?

The Pajamas Media blogging enterprise has collapsed.

Jeff G. (at Protein Wisdom) has the letter from Roger L. Simon, which buries the bad news in a statement about how Pajamas is turning its attention to its web TV efforts. I wonder how many people watch Pajamas TV. In the comments over there, Showy writes:
Those guys certainly know more about web advertising than I do, but it seems like a strange business decision to me. My first thought on reading this was, “I can’t imagine having less interest in anything than I have in watching ‘Ask Dr. Helen’ or ‘Hugh News’ on my computer”. Not to pick on those two, per se, but it’s true. So I checked the web stats on Alexa, and appeared to me that Protein Wisdom alone had more views over the past 6 months than pjtv.com, the portal for all of their shows (probably a reasonable facsimile for views of all their shows combined). Yet they’re going to dump PW (and presumably others) in order to focus on PJTV? When you factor in that probably a solid half of the readers of these sites are stealth-reading them from work, and that it’s rather harder to stealth-watch a 20 minute video clip, I have a hard time seeing how this is going to work out for them.
Jeff G. retorts:
Maybe I’ll start a free version PJTV. I’m sure I can play all those characters.
I must say, I can barely stand to watch any political talking heads TV shows, even on network TV and cable TV. I just have no patience waiting for people to say something that I could read in 1/10 the time. I've clicked over to PJTV a few times, but after less than a minute, I always leave. Why am I looking at these folks? Put it in writing! Yes, I know I do Bloggingheads, but that's an active conversation for me. Do you watch Bloggingheads? At least with Bloggingheads, I can make whatever little embeddable clips I want to use to set up a discussion in writing.



I'm reading more comments chez Protein Wisdom, and SGT Ted mirrors my thinking:
Well, crapo. The reason I use the intertoobs is because I don’t LIKE the talking heads “we’ll tell you what we think is important and you won’t have any way to respond” Bullshit of TV. If I want TV like programs, I’ll turn on the goddam TV. I like the people doing the PJMTV when they are blogging, but I don’t want to watch them go blah blah.
Instapundit says:
YEAH, the PJM ad-network model isn’t working. I don’t have much to do with the PJM business side, but online ads just aren’t producing revenue like they were a few years ago, and the blog-network thing was apparently a tough sell. Hence the emphasis on PJTV. How will that work out? Stay tuned.
Well, we will, of course, stay tuned to Instapundit for further updates on this and everything else. But do you want to watch him on web TV? I mean, surely you must want to watch him when he's talking to me... or do you? (Hey, that's one of the few times Bloggingheads put me on the left.)

Ace, another PJM blogger who's about to lose his income stream, says:
Damn. I was finally starting to make an amount of money I wasn't utterly embarrassed by, too....

[T]he model for payment was pretty transparent and intuitive -- paid per impression. One could figure out one's quarterly payment just by eyeballing one's Sitemeter. BlogAds paid okay, but there are always those patches where no one really wants to buy ads, making income kind of unpredictable.
This is one of those patches. I usually have 2 or 3 ads running via BlogAds, but haven't even had 1 ad in the last couple of weeks. You can see why BlogAds is a less risky business. It doesn't pay you because you have traffic. It pays you because they sold an ad to run on your blog. How much does it pay? When I sell an ad, it pays me a percentage of the price I set myself (and can adjust up or down as I see fit). (Feel free to buy an ad!)

Some of you long-time readers may remember that I rejected my offer from Pajamas Meda back when it started:
Did you get your offer from Pajamas Media yet? Are you going to put on the pajamas -- take a flat fee to commit the top four spots on your sidebar for a whole year? I thought Pajamas implied a bloggy freedom, different from a corporate, mainstream mentality. Are we supposed to marry Pajamas and give up on Henry Copeland's delightful BlogAds, which has been beautifully designed with a feeling for the spirit of blogging? Ah, I don't like pajamas anyway. I want to blog naked. With Henry.
Will Henry take them back?

I did some pretty harsh anti-Pajamas blogging back in the day. (Including stuff aimed at Jeff G. Remember when I wrote what my old commenter Icepick said was "that the grossest thing Ann has written on this blog"?) It was a huge ideological issue for me at the time: the freedom and independence of bloggers. Looking back on those old posts, I can see I've lost some of my lively romanticism about blogging. I had a very intense feeling about how subversive this all was. That somehow went hand in hand with the anticipation of waves of money flowing in — and who would channel more of it to me, Henry or Roger?

But these are hard times for everyone. Any business could fail in this environment. So, what does it say about how good that business model was in the first place? My concern was always, which business model is better for us writers, and I thought it was Henry.

ADDED: The Anchoress — a PJM blogger — weighs in... and, as one of several reasons why she doesn't want to do web TV, reveals that "the Lord’s overgenerous endowment in my chestal area makes any notion of camera work unthinkable, particularly in HD where the girls might terrify some." How large do breasts need to be before they make it impossible to appear on television? And can't you just adjust the camera frame? On Bloggingheads, we're all just heads — and maybe a bit of shoulders — unless, of course, you're Arianna Huffington:



UPDATE: I'm still waiting for Dennis the Peasant — PJM's biggest antagonist — to join the conversation, so let's read that other relentless Pajamas antagonist, Steve from Hog on Ice:
This is probably what’s going on: PJM always lost money, so it was paying people out of venture capital. As the capital dissipated, people had to be fired.

PJM’s new hope is PJTV, a pay video site. Where you can pay to watch Glenn and Helen Reynolds. This is not unlike asking people to pay to be punched in the face. It will fail. I can’t understand why anyone would think it could succeed....

I used to see the PJ fiasco as the result of greed, treachery, foolishness, and dishonesty. These days I see it more as the evidence of a curse.
Go to the link for his curse theory. It includes Obama and the GOP and the G-O-D. He ends with Biblical verse:
Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
I keep telling myself to go cook breakfast, and I'm taking this as a sign.

What if the Iraqis held elections and nobody died -- or even got hurt?

That seems to be happening today.
Turnout appeared high in Anbar province, an overwhelmingly Sunni area that largely boycotted the 2005 elections because of threats by Sunni insurgents and opposition to the U.S.-led invasion....

Voting was quiet in the southern Shiite city of Basra, where the choice was between Shiite religious parties and the more secular brand of Shiite politics offered by Mr. Maliki’s slate....

January 30, 2009

Suddenly, the Swiss are inundated with nudist hikers, many from Germany.

It's called "FKK" — "free body culture."

Can you imagine a bunch of Germans arriving in America, thinking it would be okay to traipse about in the nude?

IN THE COMMENTS: bill says:
They're not wearing shorts, so they should get Althouse points for that.

Michael Steele, who is the new RNC chairman and black, says the GOP has an "image problem."

"After five ballots, the race came down to Steele and Dawson. Republican party strategists in attendance at the meeting openly fretted about the possibility of electing Dawson, who had acknowledged his membership in a whites-only club, and the signal it would send to a country that had just elected Obama as the nation's first black president."

This is all so very image-y.

"For every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics" on once-cleared land.

Have we been scammed all these years?
The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction...

The idea has stirred outrage among environmentalists who believe that vigorous efforts to protect native rain forest should remain a top priority.
Why? For sentimental reasons?

"This is the theater!" — Patti Lupone goes all diva on an audience member.

"You heard the announcement! Who do you think you are?"

Then there's "LuPWNed! (The Patti LuPone Audience Freakout Remix)":

About Benicio del Toro's Che-related walk-out on the interview with that Washington Times reporter.

On Tuesday, I called foul at this Washington Times piece about how Benicio Del Toro walked out on an interview when pressed with questions about Che Guevara, the character he plays in Steven Soderbergh's new movie "Che." I wanted to respect the actor who sees his place to be acting a role, not mouthing off about history and politics.

The author of the article, Sonny Bunch, wrote to me and — when I asked — gave me permission to publish this response:
You know, I was hoping that the walkout wouldn't come across as a "gotcha"-type moment. Rather, I was hoping it could be used to demonstrate just how contentious the movie is: In the midst of an otherwise ordinary interview, the actor/producer largely responsible for its creation just up and walks out. I wanted that to set the stage for a broader discussion of the movie involving the director and the regime's dissidents.

And I say "otherwise ordinary" because it was--I thought the interview was going really well until he cut it off. It wasn't particularly heated or repetitious and never veered too far off topic; the last question he took was an innocuous one about how you portray a failed revolution on film as opposed to a successful one. (I hope that came across in the web video my editorial overlords asked me to tape...) We ended up cutting most of that context because the piece was too long, but I can assure you that it was your average interview with a movie star, with one key difference: I asked follow-ups.

The movie itself isn't nearly as interesting as the trailer makes it out to be: Guevara comes across as Jesus with an AK-47, healing the sick, teaching the illiterate to read, and mowing down enemies of the people. It's split into two parts, one about the successful Cuban revolution and the second about the failed Bolivian revolution. What's left out is the time Guevara and Castro spent ruling Cuba. It's an interesting artistic choice to make, but it's also one that leaves you open to criticisms of infidelity to history by way of omission. I was curious to know what he, as a producer, made of those criticisms. That's all...
Thanks.

By the way, I've seen this trailer for the movie several times — not voluntarily, as part of a captive theater audience — and it didn't seem to take sides about whether we ought to think well of Che. It ends with this question and answer: "How does it feel to be a symbol?" "Of what?" That sounded distanced and existentialist. It made me think the movie might be a work of art of some complexity. In that context, I imagined del Toro to be an artist who immersed himself in the role and, in doing that, lost the critical eye and political perspective the reporter wanted him to use.

I'm not blaming Bunch for asking the questions now, though.

Laughable monument.



So you hate Bush and now you've got a really big shoe in your presence. You who find shoes insulting. This is like if one of your leaders came over here and some asshole gave him the finger and to show that we hate your leader, we put up a big hand giving the finger in our town square... or whatever the hell... orphanage. Because if there's one place you want a permanent obscenity, it's in an orphanage. Genius. Perfect genius. Built with orphan-child labor. Perfect.

UPDATE: Shoo.

"Land it in the Hudson"

"An expression used to encourage yourself or someone else when it appears an endeavor is headed for a disastrous outcome (due mostly to external conditions). Based on when Sully averted tragedy by successfully landing US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River. See also, 'Land it like Sully.'"
The company is on the brink of failure, so let's Land it in the Hudson.

Rahm on the Republicans: "These guys will roll over, they're afraid of being called the party of No. Believe me, I know them. They'll be easy."

"One prominent Republican" on Obama: "The president was patient, he gave us plenty of time. But he didn't convince anyone. After he left, we looked at each other, and said, 'How can they stick him with this garbage?'"

The stimulus stimulates stimulating talk.

(Via Instapundit.)

"My counselor says I'm a heterosexual with complications, whatever that means."

Poor Ted Haggard.
Does he think God hates homosexuals?

"No, I do not,' Haggard responded. "Actually, in this process, Jesus proved his faithfulness to me more than ever. He said he came for the unrighteous, not for the righteous. He said he would leave the 99 and go for the one that wandered away. That's good for me."
And what about Gayle?
"Gayle is the hero of the story.... Gayle is not co-dependent. She's not weak, but out of her strength and her devotion, she said, 'I'm going to stay with him.' And because of it, she lost the vast majority of her friends and the fellowship of the church.... [T]hrough this counseling process that I've been through, I'm very secure in who I am in my relationship with my wife. Actually, my wife and I always had a wonderful relationship, which confused me. And now, it's better than ever, and I have no compulsive behaviors anymore. It's been great being able to process through these last two years."
Sex, the process.

"When you walk into my house, you've just walked into a squirrel cage."

"And they bite like you would never believe."

Blog traffic is up... and "Althouse... saw the sharpest increase."

Hmmm.

A paean to the inauguration: "Hallelujah... for being smart again. And sexy again. And optimistic again."

This is one of those Maira Kalman illustrated essays in the NYT. I don't want this much sugar in my morning coffee. So let me just say... "sexy"? Is it the government that is sexy now or the people who are enthusiastic about the government who are sexy? Or are you saying you feel sexually attracted to Barack Obama? Or do you just think all the sexy people are liberals or — no one could possibly be this silly — all the liberals are sexy people?

So those are some questions for you. Now, I will answer one question that you raise:
And a woman named Renata asked: "Why [take the oath] on the Bible? Why not on the Constitution?" And I think that is a Very Good Question.
It's a very easy question. The President must swear to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." There would be no safeguard against lying if you swore on the document you were swearing to uphold. If he doesn't intend to respect the document, he has his hand on a document he doesn't respect.

If it turns out teenagers aren't having that much sex, does some credit go teaching about abstinence?

The NYT reports that most high school kids these days are virgins.
Today, fewer than half of all high school students have had sex: 47.8 percent as of 2007, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, down from 54.1 percent in 1991.

A less recent report suggests that teenagers are also waiting longer to have sex than they did in the past. A 2002 report from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 30 percent of 15- to 17-year-old girls had experienced sex, down from 38 percent in 1995. During the same period, the percentage of sexually experienced boys in that age group dropped to 31 percent from 43 percent.

The rates also went down among younger teenagers. In 1995, about 20 percent said they had had sex before age 15, but by 2002 those numbers had dropped to 13 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys....

As for that supposed epidemic of oral sex, especially among younger teenagers: national statistics on the behavior have only recently been collected, and they are not as alarming as some reports would have you believe. About 16 percent of teenagers say they have had oral sex but haven’t yet had intercourse....
Judith Warner — the NYT's women-and-children columnist — processes the information:
[T]he overblown focus on messed-up kids affords parents the possibility of avoiding looking inward and taking responsibility for the highly complex problems of everyday life....

Certain kinds of children have certain kinds of vulnerabilities that make them particularly susceptible to the toxic elements of our culture. This is true of those who do or don’t fall victim to stress and anxiety, and it’s true of those who do or don’t engage in too-early, too-risky sex. Certain kinds of policies can help children. (Abstinence-only sexual education clearly does not help in combating teen pregnancy.) Certain kinds of parenting can help or hurt, too.

Having a family life that’s so atomized and disconnected that children have the physical and emotional space to upload nude pictures of themselves onto the Internet, and lack the self-esteem and self-respect to know better is obviously undesirable. Being a stressed and frantic, frazzled and depressed parent is harmful, too....

[W]e – the adults in this society – are “a mess.” I think it’s time to stop projecting our dysfunction onto our children.
I think that was mainly about why adults believe myths about kids and then how adults are pretty screwed up. But the news was good: Kids aren't having so much sex. Shouldn't we give ourselves credit for teaching them well, and shouldn't we give the teenagers credit for conducting themselves well? How did this turn into another occasion for hand-wringing? Is that a liberal disease? If there isn't one problem, quick, see another problem, because programs will be needed to solve them?

Now, the only mention of abstinence education was in the context of preventing pregnancy. And there — hey, I'm impressed that the NYT hot-linked to the Washington Post — we've seen a slight upturn in teen pregnancies after years of decline. Do we know enough about the cause-and-effect to say that abstinence education "clearly does not help" with this? I don't know, but it would seem to me that if teenagers are keeping abstinent, one reason might be that adults are successfully presenting abstinence to them in a positive light and teaching them the social skills to avoid sexual activity when they prefer abstinence.

***

I must say that, reading Warner's column, I had this image in my head — it may be just my Myth of the Stereotypical New York Times Reader — of an upper middle class, middle aged woman reading the column and enjoying tingles of resonance with her own life: Yes, I'm so busy, I'm frazzled, I'm stressed, and frantic....

I spend less and less of my news reading in the pages of the NYT over the years, and one reason is that I feel that more and more the paper is written for that reader. Ironically, I am an upper middle class, middle aged woman, but I'm not her... especially if she's the kind of person who wants the newspaper written to resonate with her exquisite emotions.

January 29, 2009

Don't you like to live where you live?

If not, you've got plenty of company.

How come you don't move?
I like where I live.
Too hard to move.
I am moving.
  
pollcode.com free polls

Blago ousted.

By unanimous vote.

Deskscape.

Deskscape

How things look right now.

DSC09911

Terribly somber? This the very heart of the Madison campus, the view from my window — quite cheerful to me.

A military judge has refused to delay a Guantanamo proceeding.

The Obama administration has been asking to delay all the proceedings for 120 days — as part of the proposal to close Guantanamo:
The request was quickly granted in other cases when prosecutors told military judges that "the newly inaugurated president and his administration [can] review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically."

But Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel, said he found the government's reasoning "unpersuasive."

The judge's failure to channel Obama administration policy is a sign that the procedures now in existence are reliable. Except all the other judges went along with it.

"20 strategies for getting pregnant."

I can think of one! But okay, let's read the list...
1. Water....

Yikes! Is this that swimming pool story I heard about?

"Oppose Wisconsin Checkpoints."

The Facebook group.

All The Beatles songs, in order, worst to best.

Though I disagree with so much of this, it's still interesting. "Octopus’s Garden" at #36 and "Long, Long, Long" at #179? "Don’t Pass Me By" ahead of "For You Blue" (by one notch)? "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," only #62? I could go on all morning but I don't have the time to do this.

Via Brian Leiter, who seems both impressed and disapproving of whoever took the time to do this.

"Octuplets Mom Has 6 Other Kids."

"The woman and her children live on a cul-de-sac with her parents.... 'From what you know about this family, and this household, do you think they'll be able to support 14 kids?'... "Well... so far, they've been fine with the six they have. Fourteen I don't know."

Random photo from my files:

DSC00239.JPG

"The Goracle's powers seem to come from his ability to scare the bejesus out of people."

"'We must face up to this urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization,' he said. And: 'This is the most serious challenge the world has ever faced.' And: It 'could completely end human civilization, and it is rushing at us with such speed and force.'... Oil demand: 'This roller coaster is headed for a crash, and we're in the front car.' Polar ice: 'Like a beating heart, and the permanent ice looks almost like blood spilling out of a body along the eastern coast of Greenland.'"

What babies are up to.



What I love about that — among several things — is that there was a real pattern to the baby's activity. He was working hard at that seemingly aimless activity.

Never lecture me again about global warming, Barack Obama.

The NYT reports, like it's all about fashion and personal style:
The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”
Somebody, please, calculate the increased size of the White House carbon footprint caused by this preference for being surrounded by warm air instead of warm clothing. You're setting the thermostat, in winter, to — what? — 75°? 78°?

"Many blogs have developed successful communities of commenters, with many very interesting and substantive contributions and discussions."

"Unfortunately, this has not happened here."

Lawprof Jack Balkin nixes comments. Though his co-bloggers can still turn comments on for their individual posts, he's had it with trolls and name-calling:
There is very rarely any serious analysis; mostly there is point scoring and vitriol. Many regular readers have written to say that they find the comments section a distraction and think the blog would be far better without it.
Daniel Solove, who likes his own commenters, says:
It seems to me that different blog commenting cultures arise on different blogs. I bet that the readership for Balkinization and Concurring Opinions overlaps quite a bit, yet I have noticed that the comments at Balkinization are much as Jack describes them. Why have commenting cultures developed so differently at different blogs? I don't really know the answer, and it would be interesting to figure out why commenting cultures develop in the ways that they do.
One question I'd ask is: Do you go into the comments yourself and talk with your readers or do you just look on and hope for the best and fret and contemplate total destruction when things go to hell?

Orin Kerr says:
I suspect the explanation rests largely on the different moderation practices at different blogs. If a blogger doesn't moderate comment threads at all on a widely read blog, people who want to be shocking, mean, or just irrelevant realize they can do their thing and reach a decent-sized audience....

Over time, comment moderation practices end up having a profound impact on who comments, and different approaches either attract thoughtful commenters or keep them away.
A little too much stress on commenters behaving themselves? I think I have a taste for more wildness than these other law professors. I want something exciting to happen in the comments. To me, a troll is someone who's boring, verbose, and repetitive. There's no end to how creative readers might be if you give them a place to write. You need to care about seeing that happen.

IN THE COMMENTS: Henry Buck says:
He's complaining about point-scoring and vitriol in the comments of a blog that takes its name from a play on a word for diviseness and nationalistic hatred?
Ha ha. Yeah, he's long had that slogan: "Balkinization: an unanticipated consequence of Jack M. Balkin." Which made it sound like we don't expect it and he loves it and is going to going to serve it up for our pleasure.

"$50 million for art!... $200 million to piss off the Pope!"

Analyzing the stimulus:

Bush the Elder tells a sexist joke of the sort that has been banished from polite speech for decades.

And then Bill Clinton whines about the fact that he's not allowed to make jokes like that. Apparently, he would love to.

(Via Instapundit.)

The vegetable will respond to you.



ADDED: They get close to but never articulate the central problem: The commercial — aired on the Superbowl — would prompt innocent children to do comical things with vegetables that would, to adults, have sexual meaning.

Here's the actual PETA commercial, by the way. Did they ever really mean it to air? With this controversy, obviously, they get the publicity and they don't have to pay. Maybe I should have ignored them, but Whoopi commanded my attention.

January 28, 2009

"Feel free to whack me over the head because I probably will not compromise on that part."

"I understand that and I will watch you on Fox News and feel bad about myself."

"Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer, to read the day's newspaper."

"Well, it's not as far-fetched as it may seem."



Via Metafilter. The report is from 1981. Hey, let's go back to 1969:



Something about the music and the husband really made me feel bad.

Who gives a damn about Saturday mail delivery?

Really, why the handwringing over this? Of all the problems...

"Wisconsin, I know who we are. We’re Badgers."

"We don’t shy away — we stand up. We don’t withdraw, feeling sorry for ourselves — we get up and fight. We work even harder. We don’t point fingers and fall into small minded bickering —we pull together, share the sacrifice and move forward. We don’t forget those who have been hardest hit —we look out for our brothers and sisters who need help the most. We are Badgers."

Summarizing, with rabbits.

My favorite movie. And lots more.

Too bad it's not embeddable, but, well, you can't have everything. Thanks to Peter Hoh for pointing me here. I and all my loved ones are laughing endlessly this evening over this cool movie summarizing with rabbits website.

Let's talk about the stimulus package.

"[S]ome news organizations have been less than diligent in telling you that other respectable economists are deeply skeptical of the idea, flatly oppose it or favor competing proposals such as additional tax relief. The University of Chicago's Gary Becker, another Nobel laureate, warns that 'the true value of these government programs may be limited because they will be put together hastily, and are likely to contain a lot of political pork and other inefficiencies.'"

"In the end, this near-depression is likely to be a transformative event for macroeconomics. We are going to have a mammoth fiscal stimulus package this year—and in all likelihood, more in the near future. And when we see what happens, we may finally settle some of the disputes that have bedeviled economics for 80 years."

"It doesn’t have nearly the amount of the fresh, reformist thinking as Mr. Obama’s campaign speeches and proposals did. Instead, the bill is mostly a stew of spending on existing programs, whatever their warts may be.... The bill is certainly superior to a huge package of tax cuts, which might be politically popular but end up in people’s bank accounts rather than stimulating the economy.... This bill should help the economy in both the near term and the long term. But the government doesn’t go out and spend about $800 billion every day. The details matter."

"When voters discover that the Obama approach is a turkey, [Rep. Price] says, a responsible opposition party has to have a better approach ready to go... 'It's important to hold folks accountable, and over time Americans will do that.'"

"[T]he GOP is playing up the economic equivalent of midnight basketball the bill contains--especially the extra $50 million allotted to the National Endowment for the Arts and an untold amount of Medicaid dollars for states to spend on contraception and other forms of family planning. They smartly see an opening to reassert their relevance, reinvigorate lingering doubts about Democrats' big spending habits and ultimately rebalance the mix of spending and tax cuts in the final bill."

The mood in Madison.

This is something of an optimism/pessimism test:

DSC09894

What I saw that made me get out the camera: The glittering snow diamonds!

"Bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with 'dirt' spur the development of a healthy immune system."

Don't stop your baby from eating his germs 'n' worms!

Hot science news? George Carlin said it decades ago:
The Hudson River was loaded with raw sewage. That's right, we swam in raw sewage. You know, to cool off. And back then the big fear was polio. Thousands of kids every year were dying of polio. But you know what, in my neighborhood, nobody ever got polio. No one. Ever. You know why? BECAUSE WE SWAM IN RAW SEWAGE. It strengthened our immune system. The polio never had a chance. We were tempered in raw shit. What are you going to do when some super virus comes along that turns your vital organs into liquid shit? I'll tell you what you're gonna do. You're gonna get sick and you're gonna die and you're gonna deserve it because you're fuckin' weak and you have a fuckin' weak immune system.

"What Do Women Diavloggers Want?"

It's me and Emily Bazelon, talking about Gitmo, Limbaugh, movies, and sex sex sex:



ADDED: I had a problem with the video recording that starts about 9 minutes in... when I start talking about Limbaugh.

Russ Feingold's proposed constitutional amendment.

ABC News reports:
Following controversy over the appointments of three of the four Senate seats vacated after the 2008 presidential election, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would leave it up to voters -- and not the state governors -- to fill the empty seats.

"When you don't use the idea of 'one person, one vote' it's an invitation to corruption, embarrassment or abuse," Feingold, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, told ABCNews.com. "It's unattractive and undemocratic."
How can a Senator talk about "one person, one vote"? The Senate is a monument to the opposite of "one person, one vote"!
In Feingold's home state of Wisconsin, special elections are mandated under state law when U.S. Senate seats are vacated, and gubernatorial appointments are not an option. Only one other state, Oregon, uses a similar system.

"I've always believed in and been proud of the fact that Wisconsin has never used the system" of having the governor appoint a senator, said Feingold.
Well, that's because the people of Wisconsin set things up that way. And if the people of New York or the people of Illinois would like to adopt the same system, they are free to do it, so what is the point of a constitutional amendment forcing them to do it?

Considering the difficulty of amending the Constitution, if it's such a bad idea to have gubernatorial appointments, wouldn't it be easier for the states individually to change their own process? You have to think the appointment process is so bad that we shouldn't tolerate those states where people happen to prefer it. These states must be dragged up to the level that the rest of us have decided is right. But is this that sort of thing? Is there something that pernicious about appointments? You can point to Blagojevich, but he was caught. (Yes, he still got to make the appointment.) Are you going to throw Paterson in with Blagojevich? That's hardly fair to Governor Paterson! He did nothing wrong... other than pick someone who is perhaps more conservative than you'd like.

"Either [Joaquin] Phoenix is perpetrating an elaborate Andy Kaufman-style hoax...or he's truly lost his marbles."

Either he's lost his marbles, or someone has spilled the marbles.

So, what's happening with Joachin (who looks ridiculous these days in a big beard and recently performed 3 rap songs in a Vegas nightclub and fell off the stage)?

And also, how did we ever get started using "marbles" to symbolize mental things: sanity and secrets. Everyone has his own personal marbles — "his marbles" — which we only mention when we think they may have been lost. It's always "lost," too. You don't spill your personal marbles. Even if someone has a sudden, public mental breakdown, we don't say: "Oh, no, he's spilling his marbles."

So there are those personal marbles — his marbles, your marbles — and then there are "the marbles." These are shared marbles, even though we never say "our marbles" — Don't spill our marbles — or "their marbles." They're just the marbles. These our secrets, and I suppose we like the image of secrets as something round and spillable that we carry around. And we never just lose these marbles. It's always spill — perhaps because a spill is there to be seen, making a mess. Whereas the lost marbles of sanity are nowhere to be seen. "He's lost his marbles." "Oh, really? Have you looked around for them?" They are really nowhere at all. They've ceased to exist.

Now, it must be said, that the #1 slang definition for "marbles" is "testicles." So, I've got to think that that the idea of losing your marbles or spilling your marbles traces back to testicles. "Spilling the marbles" — don't expose what should be kept covered. And your sanity? I know the etymology of the word "hysterical" is:
1615, from L. hystericus "of the womb," from Gk. hysterikos "of the womb, suffering in the womb," from hystera "womb" (see uterus). Originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus. Hysterics is 1727; hysteria, abstract noun, formed 1801.
So there is this notion that your sanity depends on your sexual parts. Don't lose your marbles!

Anyway, sorry to confront you with testicles so early in the morning. And I hope Joachin is okay... and that he would shave.

IN THE COMMENTS Graham Powell said:
I find it hard to believe that the #1 euphemism for "marbles" is "testicles"as I have heard people refer to nuts, balls, stones, cojones, huevos, etc. etc., but NEVER marbles.

My response:
I said "the #1 slang definition for 'marbles' is 'testicles,'" not "the #1 slang definition for 'testicles' is 'marbles.'" It doesn't work both ways!
Graham continues:
Interesting side note: The "testicles" tag brings up a truly shocking number of posts.
Apparently Graham is new around here. And easily shocked! Did you notice that I made a penis joke in the new Bloggingheads?

Cold water.

It's 3° here in Madison, and indoors, where, of course, it's warm, the tap water is excellently cold.

January 27, 2009

In India, protesting, "Slumdog Millionaire."

Offense is taken at the title:
Several hundred people rampaged through the cinema in Patna, capital of the eastern state of Bihar, on Monday and tore down posters advertising the film. They said the title was humiliating and vowed to continue their protests until it was changed....

"Referring to people living in slums as dogs is a violation of human rights," said [Tateshwar] Vishwakarma, who works for a group promoting the rights of slum dwellers. We will burn Danny Boyle [the film's British director] effigies in 56 slums here."...

Simon Beaufoy, the screenwriter, said last week: "I just made up the word. I liked the idea. I didn't mean to offend anyone."

Requiring digital cameras and camera phones to make an audible click.

A bill to protect the children... and to annoy us all. Why not require every man to wear a bell around his neck... in case he might sneak up on a child?

At the Bald-Headed Man Café...

DSC09893

... you can bare your soul.

Blago audio.

Listen.

ADDED: Oh, check it out! He was on "The View" yesterday. Here's the part where he blabs about Oprah:

"I'm done. I'm done, I hope you write whatever you want. I don't give a damn."

If you portray a historical figure in a movie, should you be prepared to defend him or answer historical questions about him? Benicio Del Toro, who portrays Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's "Che" thinks not. I'd say that's fine. What I don't like is actors mouthing off about things they don't understand very well, and it looks like Del Toro is doing the complete opposite.

Now, I can certainly understand that the Washington Times would have loved to lure him into saying something stupid about Che, but give him credit when he won't go there. He took the high ground, apparently, and wanted to present himself as an actor. Respect that. Don't bully him into walking out. And don't preen about getting that reaction from him. But you did get your Drudge link and big traffic.

I call foul!

UPDATE: The Washington Times reporter writes to me and I respond.

John Updike has died.

Link.

What have you read and what have thought about, reading John Updike?

ADDED: "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu":
Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. Its right field is one of the deepest in the American League, while its left field is the shortest; the high left-field wall, three hundred and fifteen feet from home plate along the foul line, virtually thrusts its surface at right-handed hitters. On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 28th, as I took a seat behind third base, a uniformed groundkeeper was treading the top of this wall, picking batting-practice home runs out of the screen, like a mushroom gatherer seen in Wordsworthian perspective on the verge of a cliff....
(K*thy in the comments says: "A gem and one of the best and most famous pieces of baseball writing ever.")

After Obama said that congressional Republicans shouldn't listen to Rush Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh responded.

From the transcript of yesterday's show:
[T]he Great Unifier's plan, is to isolate... elected Republicans from their voters and supporters. He wants to make the argument about me. He wants to marginalize me. He wants me to be thought of as such an extremist that no mainstream Republican would ever associate with me....

He needs Republicans for cover only on his stimulus package. You gotta understand, folks, he does not need Republican votes. Maybe one or two in the Senate is all he needs and he doesn't need a single Republican in the House to get this done. Now, his definition of bipartisanship is when a bunch of Republicans cave on their own principles and agree with him and give him what he wants. That's magical, that's marvelous, why, that's bipartisanship....

I don't think he's afraid of [me]. He's the president of the United States. This is a political play to marginalize me so that Republicans are afraid to associate with my ideas or any of us. He wants conservatism, mainstream conservatism to be thought of the way you and I think of communism. He wants it thought of as the most foreign, the most offensive, the most extreme manner of belief possible. There are no elected Republicans who are espousing conservatism today, so he's gotta find somebody who is. I happen to be the most prominent voice, but there are many others, so he focuses on me. This is a Saul Alinsky radical rule number 13: Pick the target, me, isolate it, polarize it.... This is a purposeful effort to get rid of conservatism as a mainstream way of thinking forever in this country, make no mistake about it.
Well put — although, if you look at the whole transcript, he took forever to really nail this point.

Among many liberals I have come into contact with over the years, the very idea of conservativism is ugly and poisonous. Now, many conservatives take the same attitude about liberalism, and they've been pretty successful in getting the general public to think that way too. In general public discourse, liberal politicians shirk the "liberal" label. Remember this:



So I can certainly understand liberals wanting to make the word "conservatism" into something conservatives would run away from like that. And I can believe that Barack Obama would like to make that happen and sees a focused attack on Limbaugh as an effective technique.

Did Obama strike "a conciliatory tone" that "signaled a shift — in style and manner at least — from the Bush administration"?

That's the NYT's characterization. But reading the article, I have trouble seeing the big difference from George Bush:
[Obama] spoke at length about America’s future relationship with the Muslim world, saying his “job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.”
George Bush said exactly that innumerable times. When Bush said it, did they simply not believe it? Did they find it patronizing? Did it sound naive and insufficiently appreciative of multiculturalism?
“My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task....”
There, we see Obama gratuitously saying that we've been disrespecting the Muslim world. That does seem to distinguish him from Bush. He's saying I won't be like Bush, but the way he can say it is only by portraying Bush as having behaved badly. I don't like to see this empty claim of discontinuity, this attack on Bush.
He drew a distinction between “extremist organizations” committed to violence and “people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop.”

“We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down,” he said. “But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.”
Again, when did Bush ever take a contrary position?
He also said it was “important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress.”
Presumably, there is something different here. "Willing to talk" — he's been saying that for a while, but he's no longer saying "without preconditions," as he did once, caught off guard, in a debate.
He echoed his inaugural address last week when he said, “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”

He was not asked whether he would continue the policy of former President George Bush in refusing to exclude military action in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Good thing no one asked him a hard question.

January 26, 2009

"Snowmobilers run over ducks in Fort Atkinson."

A headline from Wisconsin.

"So I guess that whole 'I forgot' thing works after all! Thank you, Steve Martin!"

LOL.

Watch Justice Scalia do a moot court competition.

Video here. (Via Orin Kerr.)

The decline in faculty friendship.

"The old aristocratic style of appearing to be lounging about while producing great ideas has been replaced by conspicuous displays of frenzy to impress bean-counting administrators---showing up at 7AM, working until midnight and chaining oneself to the computer. Thus, leisurely lunches with colleagues, let alone 'wasting' hours in a cafe debating Big Ideas is mistaken as a sign of a poor work ethic. The ambitious careerist begs off invitations for lunch or coffee with 'We might meet for a quick bite at 11:15 next month but right now I have two conference papers, a book review and a book chapter to do.' This is a (self-proclaimed) busy person destined for glory. Ironically, what is actually accomplished with 'leisure' is irrelevant---socializing is just verboten. Among grind-oriented academics it is unimaginable that the path-breaking physics of the 20th century was often done in Berlin or Gottingen sidewalk cafes (the brilliant John Von Neumann complained that Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study lacked good coffee houses and this hindered world-class physics)."

ADDED: Creativity needs a feeling of play. Who cares what drudges think?

That "rude, thoughtless, little pig" is beautiful.

That beauty sitting with Alec Baldwin at the SAG Awards was his 13-year-old daughter Ireland — the one he left that infamous phone message to.

A "French boffin" proves Nintendo's claims are "complete and utter cobblers."

I'm mainly blogging this because the English slang tickles me, but the dispute is over whether games like "Big Brain Academy" and "Brain Training" are going to sharpen your intelligence.

Woodward's ominous and vague prediction of scandal: "I say it's not over."

He's referring specifically/unspecifically to "the nanny or household tax problems and so forth" in the Obama administration:

"The case for full nationalization [of the banks] is far stronger now than it was a few months ago."

"If you don’t own the majority, you don’t get to fire the management, to wipe out the shareholders, to declare that you are just going to take the losses and start over. It’s the mistake the Japanese made in the ’90s. I would guess that sometime in the next few weeks, President Obama and Tim Geithner will have to come out and say, 'It's much worse than we thought,' and just bite the bullet.'"

"The real grounds for firing Kristol are that he didn’t take his column seriously."

"In his year on the Op-Ed page, not one memorable sentence, not one provocative thought, not one valuable piece of information appeared under his name."

Is that fair? What about the time he said "What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over" — 3 weeks before election day? "McCain can make the substantive case for his broadly centrist conservatism." That was provocative.

UPDATE: From the NYT:
“It was mutual agreement,” Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, said in an interview. “We discussed this before the election, and decided that we would end now.”

As for whether The Times would find another conservative voice for its Op-Ed page, Mr. Rosenthal said: “Sadly, I can’t answer that question, except to say stay tuned. We have some interesting plans.”
That article uses the same quote I used above in my post title. So maybe the NYT is reading this, perhaps to consider me as a replacement for Kristol. I did temp there once, on the op-ed page, you know. In any case, the quote is from the New Yorker's George Packer, and I suddenly remember I have a feud with that guy... not that I remember the reason. Oh, here.

ADDED: A little straight talk. Kristol wasn't an exciting, traffic-winning commentator, like Dowd or Rich. Even in a conservative, the NYT has to demand that. It's a dog-eat-dog world here in political media, and the employees of the NYT, however glorified, must drag in the readers. How you do that with mere words, who knows? But it must be done, and the employers must demand it.

Obama wants to turn his "YouTubing-Facebooking-texting-Twittering grass-roots organization ... into an instrument of government."

According to the NYT, Obama has been telling his aides this is "a top priority, even before he was elected."
His aides — including his campaign manager [David Plouffe] — have created a group, Organizing for America, to redirect the campaign machinery in the service of broad changes in health care and environmental and fiscal policy. They envision an army of supporters talking, sending e-mail and texting to friends and neighbors as they try to mold public opinion.

The organization will be housed in the Democratic National Committee, rather than at the White House. But the idea behind it — that the traditional ways of communicating with and motivating voters are giving way to new channels built around social networking — is also very evident in the White House’s media strategy....
The effort needs to be moved out of the White House in order to escape a legal restriction against using the 13-million-person e-mail list his campaign built up.

"Organizing for America," how do you like that name? It resonates with the presidency's "community organizer" provenance, and it has a distinctly lefty vibe. I note the "for." Why not just "Organizing America"? (But I don't want to be organized!) So there are those other people, those 13 million, who are organizing. For us.
There is a clear interest in keeping the Internet-based political machinery that made Mr. Obama’s brand so iconic and that helped him raise record amounts. The new group’s initials, O.F.A., conveniently also apply to his Obama for America campaign.
Anagram for "oaf," from the man who famously took the "oaf of office."
Still, sensitive to ruffling feathers even among fellow Democrats wary of Mr. Obama’s huge political support, Mr. Obama’s aides emphasized that the effort was not created to lobby directly or pressure members of Congress to support Mr. Obama’s programs.

“This is not a political campaign,” Mr. Plouffe said. “This is not a ‘call or e-mail your member of Congress’ organization.”
It's not a political campaign?
Instead, Mr. Plouffe said the aim was to work through influential people in various communities as a way of building public opinion.
So what is this distinction? The group won't be directly pressuring Congress. It will be stoking and massaging public opinion. Members of Congress can respond at their leisure.

Meanwhile, at the White House, there is a "new media" director, Macon Phillips. He's redesigned the White House website, which "will be continually updated to add presidential orders and blog postings that make the case for administration policy, often echoed by talking points that Organizing for America is sending to supporters."
In an interview, Mr. Phillips, 30, said the site would give the White House another way to reach the public without having to rely on the mainstream news media.
This is the sort of thing George Bush should have done. Funny that Obama, who's got the media fervently on his side, is the one to figure it out.

We'll see how it works out. What was a campaign becomes a big propaganda machine. What proportion of the 13 million want to be on the receiving end of that? And as for new media, how many of us new media outlets will passively pass along the talking points? My idea of new media is that we take the raw material and do something with it. It needs to get out of the control of the one who's sent out the original message. You can distribute your propaganda, but you can't organize it. You can't organize us. The internet is self-organizing, and we will see how it organizes itself. It can't be according to the will of a President.

January 25, 2009

Meryl not Kate. Sean not Mickey.

Surprises in the top acting categories for the Screen Actors Guild Awards tonight.

I loved the way Meryl was all breathless and surprised. "I didn't even buy a dress." And, she assured us, there really is no such thing as the greatest living actress. But, deep down, didn't she know that she is that woman?

Sunday afternoon, at the café...

I'm reading conlaw, but maybe at the other table, a guy is being incredibly charming:

DSC09881

Some terrible 80s music is playing, and I'm inside the noise cancellation headphones:

DSC09885

"Stewmaker."

A new job title.

"If you're going to try Brussels sprouts, you might be more likely to climb a mountain the next time you're on vacation."

Inane advice for women — from Laure Redmond, author of "Feel Good Naked." That book is from 2001 — a year when how to feel good naked was a pressing concern. Now Redmond is a "self-esteem coach." Hey, what do you do when you're a self-esteem coach who feels bad about herself for being a self-esteem coach?

IN THE COMMENTS: Who needs a self-esteem coach? We've got a self-esteem roach!

blogging cockroach types:

hi professor
if you re doing cuisine posts you know i just had
to say something altho i draw the line at the
mexican soup maker so does mom here at the
house who is french and can t stand mexican food
but dad and tommy like it so what to do
but i ve begged tommy not to tell anybody about
this story as it would be the end of the little
tolerance mom has left for mexican food
which she thinks lacks subtlety and that je ne sais quoi
i bet there were lots of je ne sais quois in that guy s soup
b t w tommy is the boy whose computer i use
in case you re new around here
anyway mom makes these killer brussels sprouts
something like barts recipe above but mom puts in
some tiny bits of canadian bacon or pork yum
i really like that mom usually spills some of the
sauce with the bacon bits ooh double yum
i haven t climbed any mountains as a result of
brussels sprouts but i have climbed the side
of the stove which makes a lot more sense
because who ever heard of spilled bacon bits
in butter beer sauce on the top of the matterhorn

as for naked women i was pretty used to those
in my last life which i think is why i am a cockroach
this time around plus not having those hormones
i almost spelled it whoremones
it s all just a memory that nowadays makes me wince
along with the chile verde dad dropped behind
the stove last week

"Don't Speak English, Parlez Globish," says Jean-Paul Nerriere.

"Globish has only 1,500 words and users must avoid humour, metaphor, abbreviation and anything else that can cause cross-cultural confusion. They must speak slowly and in short sentences. Funnily enough, he holds up the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as an excellent exponent. Many in France consider Monsieur Nerriere a traitor for promoting the dreaded Anglais, but he insists he is not. He says the French have to recognise that the language war is lost. 'We're just urinating on the ashes of the fire,' he says. We should look on Globish not as a triumphant cultural vehicle for les Anglo-Saxons, but as a tool, he says..."

Oh, just surrender.

"What Maureen Dowd misses is that both Blagojevich and Paterson rolled Obama on Senate picks. And rubbed it in, hard."

Exactly.

"There's nothing to explain. It's perfectly obvious. She's stoned."

Just a clip from the early 1960s TV show "Pete and Gladys":



I was thinking about this show — not because of the Gladys on the Ellen show — but because the actor who plays the father in the movie "Juno" — which I watched the other day — reminded me of Harry Morgan, who plays Pete. I guess most people remember Harry Morgan from "M*A*S*H," but I never watched that show. That was after my sitcom-watching days. In fact, I thought of "Pete and Gladys" as Morgan's later work. The show was a spinoff of "December Bride." Here are the opening credits to "Pete and Gladys" — retro, unpleasantly retro.

Here's a taste of "December Bride," showing the young Morgan and featuring the surprising line "Ah, Lily, what's an extra bong or two? We'll love it!"



By the way, Morgan, born in 1915, is still alive.

Media Matters doesn't understand the word "despite."

Talk about dumb. And you know, spelling a name wrong some of the time is actually dumber than spelling it wrong all of the time.

Perhaps the world is fully of brilliant naturally comic characters who will reach us one day — perhaps by calling up Ellen DeGeneres.

It's Gladys.



(Via Bloggingheads.)

"Some are as big as cupcakes, others are the size of a penny. They... come in a range of colors as varied as drugstore lipsticks."

From a review of "Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds," that's a description of nipples, photographed in the years 1953 through 2007. Evolution is slow, but when you can choose your models, nipples adapt quickly to whimsical tastes. Other parts are easily reconfigured:
Pubic hair diminishes as the nineties draw to a close. Neat triangles turn to Band Aid-sized strips, which become little Hitler mustaches or nothing at all. The modern crotch is a bit prim, a bit less forthright. You'd think that depilation would lend a youthful look to the genitals but it has the opposite effect instead, making the girls look older and slightly jaded. (Intimate grooming signals forethought.) The youthful quality of the early centerfolds disappears.
The review is written by a woman — couldn't you tell? — Molly Young.

"Oprah is a liberal because she is black, Hitch is a liberal because he is atheist, and you are a liberal because you are gay.'

Andrew Sullivan posts a reader email that explains what Forbes was really — supposedly — doing, when it ranked the "The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The U.S. Media."

Here's his earlier post trying to reclaim his conservative cred after Forbes blew his cover.

"The phrasing is so awkward that you'd never come up with it spontaneously; thus, it's well-suited to an academic journal."

My son Jac on why law review editors adhere to a rule against "split verbs."

It's good because it's bad.

Obama said he'll close Guantánamo, but will he?

We heard his opaque order the other day, a plan to close down Guantánamo by a year from now, with all the details to be worked out later. That sounded spurious to me from the first minute of this ticking-down year, and I expected the dribbling out of news of complicating, newly discovered circumstances. The dribble starts here:
President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials -- barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees -- discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.
No comprehensive files? Bush screwed it up!
Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said.
Oh! The mismanagement! The files are not all in one place!
The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.
So, first, we have to get all the files in one place, folks, and that's going to take months, after which point we will begin to work on a plan for something to do with the detainees other than to keep them at Guantánamo.
After promising quick solutions, one former senior official said, the Obama administration is now "backpedaling and trying to buy time" by blaming its predecessor. Unless political appointees decide to overrule the recommendations of the career bureaucrats handling the issue under both administrations, he predicted, the new review will reach the same conclusion as the last: that most of the detainees can be neither released nor easily tried in this country.

"All but about 60 who have been approved for release," assuming countries can be found to accept them, "are either high-level al-Qaeda people responsible for 9/11 or bombings, or were high-level Taliban or al-Qaeda facilitators or money people"....

A poll:

Will Obama close Guantanamo?
Yes
No
  
pollcode.com free polls