February 28, 2009

Something wicked....

(At the museum.)

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Fishing, what is it really about?

I've heard some interesting theories. Here are 2 ice fishing guys — and, no, they are not holding hands. It just looks that way.

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Nina waits.

For all sorts of things.

"This year’s hippie chick also blew and she didn’t make it as they took another nondescript gay dude with a hat."

Trooper York summarizes "American Idol" so I don't have to.

"You cook breakfast. I'll blog it."

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The Snuggie is a "cheap knockoff" that "undermines the integrity" of Slanket.

Consider the sad tale of Greg Clegg, who invented the Slanket:
Gary Clegg said it began in 1998, when he was a freshman at the University of Maine in Orono and living in a chilly dormitory. He cut a hole in his sleeping bag because his TV remote wouldn’t work through the fabric, and subsequently asked his mother to sew a sleeve onto it, he said. Mr. Clegg added a second sleeve and otherwise refined the design in the ensuing years.
But it is the Snuggie that has captured our imagination. The place of honor in our culture belongs to the best advertiser:
In October, the company started showing the two-minute infomercial, where Snuggie wearers read, knit and eat popcorn, while a Snuggies-ensconced family cheers in the stands at a football game. Allstar bought more than $10 million in television spots, which offer the Snuggie for $19.95. (The Slanket — larger and made from considerably thicker fleece — costs $44.95.) The ad, by Blue Moon Studios, is intentionally over the top, Mr. Boilen said.

“We were definitely in on the joke,” he said. “Do we expect a family to wear these to a football game? No.”

Hundreds of videos on YouTube parody the ad, with the most popular garnering more than a million views.

“Certain products transcend advertising and become an indelible part of popular culture,” Mr. Boilen said.
Can Clegg sue? No, he doesn't think so, and anyway he won't.
Mr. Leno’s quip about the products looking like bathrobes worn backward, [patent lawyer Clifford A.] Ulrich said, actually resonates legally: because there are many products that are shapeless garments with sleeves, like hospital gowns or religious vestments, and because the sleeved blankets are neither made from innovative materials nor have complicated moving parts, there is little that is proprietary about them from a design standpoint.
And, actually, even Slanket wasn't first. There was also Freedom Blanket, but Clegg invented his invention independently:
“I would never go around saying that I came up with something if it wasn’t true,” Mr. Clegg said. “I would have no right to be annoyed with the Snuggie people if that was the case.”
The problem is that the invention was so obvious that it was destined to be invented and reinvented by an endless chain of couch potatoes who wanted to change the channel and felt conflicted: What is worse, this show or the pain of a slightly cold arm?

***

What is the sound of one hand on a children's TV show host?

Fear.

IN THE COMMENTS: "The Absence of a Hand was in my Age... a most disfiguring & distressing Calamity, especially to a Lady." Yes! Our ghost Sir Archy is back!

February 27, 2009

"Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular 'Logic' on TV Judge Shows."

A college course at Berkeley. From the official description:
TV "Judge" shows have become extremely popular in the last 3-5 years. A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again. For example, when asked "Did you hit the plaintiff?" respondents often say, "If I woulda hit him, he'd be dead!" This reply avoids answering "yes" or "no" by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called "a fortiori" argument ["from the stronger"] in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on "Judge Judy" and "The People's Court" and discussing why such strategies are so widespread. It is NOT a course about law or "legal reasoning." Students who are interested in logic, argument, TV, and American popular culture will probably be interested in this course. I emphasize that it is NOT about the application of law or the operations of the court system in general.
Cool. This is the kind of teaching that I liked to do at home with my kids when they were growing up. You know, when you're watching junk TV, there are many creative educational opportunities. Do you help your kids see logic fallacies when you're watching TV? Do you do it in a way that the kids respond to and love or do they think you're weird and annoying?

From "The 15 Strangest College Courses In America," via New Alert.

"Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got."

But there will be no more writing from Philip José Farmer, dead at 91.

Do you think he's gone to Heaven? "I can’t see any reason why such miserable, unhappy, vicious, stupid, conniving, greedy, narrow-minded, self-absorbed beings should have immortality."

"I hate my last tweet."

Chuck b. hates his last tweet. Let's read it an analyze what's so hateful about it:
Waking up, still in bed, cozy in flannel sheets, with cats. Want coffee. NPR in background. Sunny, clear skies, more rain on Sunday. Good!
I'll start: flannel sheets. They're hateful. Rough, hot. Sheets should be super-smooth and cool. You can have rough, hot sex, but the sheets ought to be super-smooth and cool.

"For scoops and analysis, it's a war of all-against-all."

Politico explains it all.

Does sugar make kids hyper?

Apparently not:
Nearly everyone has always accepted the belief that sugar makes kids hyperactive; in fact it's so deeply ingrained that even some researchers have had trouble accepting their own results. In one study, 35 children reported by their mothers to be "behaviorally sugar sensitive" were separated into two groups. Half were told they were given a sugary drink, half were told it was a sugar-free drink. Then the mothers played with the children and were individually interviewed. Overwhelmingly, mothers who were told their child was given sugar rated their behavior as hyperactive. In fact, all children received the same sugar-free drink. In this case, the perceived affect was confirmation bias by the mothers — where they picked up only on cues that supported their pre-existing conviction.

Another similar study found that 50 children whose mothers "knew" that their children's behavior was worsened by sugar were given a blinded test where the children were given either sugary or a sugar-free drink, and then observed — but this time the mothers didn't know which was which. No differences between the groups could be ascertained over three separate trials. And the lack of an effect extends to classroom performance, too. 16 hyperactive boys were given controlled diets of either sugar drinks or sugar-free drinks at measured intervals throughout two school days and were regularly given behavioral and cognitive tests. Again, there was no difference in performance between the groups.

Biochemically, the claim doesn't make sense for normal healthy children. The amount of sugar in the blood is carefully regulated by insulin. Whether you eat a lot of sugar or none at all should make no difference to your blood sugar level.

"Could it be the worst food product ever?"

It's pork brains in milk gravy.

So wrong, on so many levels.

Via Memeorandum.

"All that really happened here is..."

All?

You can assert that, but what makes you so sure?

February 26, 2009

"I don’t want to attack [Ingrid Betancourt], but the truth is very savage."

“We were infected enough with her behavior in the jungle... Now I just want to get immunized."

After all that...

... Danforth loses.

Click the "Danforth" tag to see how excited I was about Danforth.

"As the economy takes a spanking, many women are turning to freelance fetish work to supplement their incomes."

"Many freelance dommes prefer to work a regular shift in a commercial dungeon with equipment and advertising provided by management.... [W]orking a shift at a dungeon can provide a more similar structure to regular work, which adds a level of comfort for those just doing it as a side gig."

I don't know how even to articulate an argument that it's constitutional to give a vote to a D.C. representative in the House.

Shredding the Constitution. It's not just for the Bush administration anymore.

Lighten up. It's just fashion.



"A model presents a creation from the MAN 2009 Autumn/Winter collection during London Fashion Week February 25, 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Hird."

The transparent head.

"The Republican Party has been using a grab-bag of strategies to counter Obama's policies over the past month."

Says Eve Fairbanks:
They rail against the stimulus package for its (supposed) pork. They hammer home their points with gimmicky videos and props. They speak in warrior rhetoric and revel in heroic, fighting-man stunts. But if there is one strand running through all these strategies, it is that they evoke a discomfiting feeling of deja vu. We've seen this stuff before: The GOP is currently reliving John McCain's presidential campaign. The return to the strategies of their fallen candidate may be the saddest illustration of the current state of the party....

But, in the end, the most likely reason the GOP's strategy feels like McCain 2.0 might be the simplest, and the saddest: With the party so badly on the mat and nobody boldly new stepping into the ring, there's no other template beyond their last presidential candidate's--even though he lost.
Is it really that bad?

The NYT is trying to take away our toilet paper!

"[T]he issue of toilet paper has become less of a joke (except when celebrities express an opinion) and more of a cause: since the fluffy kind cannot be made from recycled paper, conservationists argue, consumers can do their part to protect the environment by buying the rougher stuff."

I just have 2 things to say:

1. If new trees must be used, isn't that a good thing, global-warmingly speaking? Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide, then they are made into nice paper, and the used toilet paper... well, where does it go? Is it sequestered? If so, it's a solution, not a problem.

2. The NYT is printed on paper. Great massive rolls of paper. What's more important: printed newspaper — I can read the news on line — or soft fluffy toilet paper? You can't wipe your ass on line — though, God knows, some people have tried. We need toilet paper! Soft fluffy toilet paper. Leave me alone!

"74% of Indians, 65% of South Koreans and 56% of Americans hold an old-fashioned Freudian view of dreams: that they are portals into the unconscious."

But they are wrong. Supposedly. Good. Because last night, Judge Richard A. Posner was in my dream. No, not like that. He was going on about how fine a thing it was to be a judge in the 7th Circuit. If that's my unconscious, it's really, really sad.

"Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday the Guantanamo detention center is a well-run, professional facility that will be difficult to close..."

"... but he is still going to do it."

Get ready. They're not going to close it. Remember, I made a bet with Emily Bazelon, and I'm going to win:

"It's not that the housing market has suddenly gotten sick and needs medicine. It was sick, and it's getting better."

"Just like $4 gas, Pets.com and Jim Carrey's career, we are undergoing a needed correction."

"Had the nature of the blog been made clear at the outset, the article would have described it accordingly..."

LOL. The NYT trusts some blog to be telling a straight story. There was no "satire" tag, apparently, so how can you blame them?

(Via Instapundit.)

Why racial attitudes that helped Barack Obama will hurt Bobby Jindal.

Christopher Orr struggles to explain:
Both Obama and Jindal are at the geeky end of the spectrum among American politicians. But Obama's race cuts against this persona, and makes him "cool" in a way (however studiously achieved) it's hard to envision a comparably wonky white politician being perceived. As Michelle noted in her essay on the subject:
Biracial heritage aside, Obama is a black man. And, in this country, black men have long had the edge on cool.... [A]s a thought exercise, imagine Obama as a white politician. Wonky, overeducated, idealistic, unflappable, reform-minded, big into basketball, articulate but without the lyrical echoes of the African American pulpit -- far from being brother cool, Obama would be ex-senator turned failed presidential candidate Bill Bradley.
So while Jindal may not face the same radical-black-guy stereotypes as Obama, neither will he benefit from the same cool-black-guy stereotypes. If anything, the common stereotypes of Asian-Americans -- as earnest strivers who may be a little nerdy -- could exacerbate Jindal's already wonky self-presentation. When Ace of Spades (exactly the kind of conservative id figure Jindal will want to impress if he runs for the GOP nomination at some point) says that last night the Louisiana governor reminded him of "Achmad, Jaglesh, Clayton, etc., in Animal House," the ethnic geek stereotype is hard to miss. And that could be an issue in a nation where seven of the last eight presidential elections have been won by the candidate widely perceived as cooler, more likable, more popular: Reagan, Reagan, Clinton, Clinton, Bush (arguably primarily for these reasons), Bush, and Obama. (I consider the 1988 election a draw in terms of uncoolness.)

To be clear, I'm not trying to indulge these stereotypes. But it would be silly to pretend they don't exist in the minds of a non-trifling number of voters. Now, if Jindal gives many more national speeches as bad as last night's, his ethnicity won't make any difference. (The fact that he's been most widely compared to Kenneth of "30 Rock" is a nice indicator of Americans' ability to see beyond skin color.) Moreover, for a number of reasons I think it would be a great thing for the GOP, and the country, if Jindal were his party's nominee for president in 2012 or (more likely) 2016. But he may have a trickier path than some of his fans imagine.
Okay, there's a lot going on here, and I will leave some of this open for discussion and respond to what you have to say, but let me sketch out a few points.

1. "Cool" is a cop-out word. It's a word to make racism cute and safe. It's a word white people manipulate black people with: Come, bring your coolness, just the part of what we think of as blackness that makes us feel cool, but don't be whatever it is that we find excessive and fail to perceive as cool. Soothe us appropriately and you can be successful. You can even be President. Look! President Barack Obama! Yay! Aren't we cool? How terribly embarrassing.

2. Nerdiness, done right, is endearing. We might even call it cool. Orr suggests that white people warm up to the black nerd — Obama as Urkel — but not to the "South Asian" one, because there are just so darn many South Asian nerds. Do white people have ideas about the appropriate nerd proportion in the various racial/ethic groups? Are white people ashamed of themselves?

3. Comparing Jindal to Kenneth of "30 Rock" is not a nice indicator of Americans' ability to see beyond skin color. Quite the opposite! Instinctively repainting him white is — I would say — presumptively racial. To strip away his racial identity — to stereotype him as an especially white white man — is a powerful racial move. This is not nice at all. I would really like to know what makes white people so sure they are being nice about racial things. This confidence in niceness is misplaced, yet very very common....

4. .... in liberals. Liberals believe they are the good people with the good beliefs, the good hearts. Especially about race. How could it be otherwise? They are so nice and so good-hearted. And Bobby Jindal is not a liberal. He's a conservative. That's not good. That's bad. Bad, bad Bobby Jindal. Quick! Help me think of all the ways Bobby Jindal is just terrible. Ack! Don't look at him! He's horrible! I can barely stand to look at him. When he first emerges from behind a curtain, I moan "Oh, God." This is terrible. This is automatically horrible. A man of color, who is not supporting our side. One look and I am disgusted. How loathsome!

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian writes:
Reading Orr's piece in The New Republic was a painful experience, although an informative one. It's a terrifyingly illustrative model of the racial psychopathology still endemic in the American psyche. In bringing about the absolutely necessary and noble goals of the early Civil Rights Movement, it was necessary to change the way people thought about the issue of race. Unfortunately this mental change quickly developed into a complicated neurotic knot that still strangles so many contemporary minds.

If you reread the article, it's not really about anything at all. It's just a tortured attempt to justify the author's political biases by attaching politics to race. The political discourse (for lack of a better word) in America today is yet another manifestation of the primitive force behind racism, sexism, xenophobia &c: us vs. them. Terrible to see racial and political bigotry merge, but it looks like that's where we're headed.

Liberals believe they are the good people with the good beliefs, the good hearts. Especially about race. How could it be otherwise? They are so nice and so good-hearted.

A good point about some liberals. They believe that it's entirely self-evident that they are the good guys. They sometimes seem to believe that this gives them license to say the most dreadful and stupid things because, after all, their hearts are in the right place. I've had friends express the most unspeakably offensive ideas to me under the assumption that they had immunity from responsibility because they were liberals.

It's like that scene in "Annie Hall":
Allison: No, that was wonderful. I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype.

Alvy: Right, I'm a bigot, I know, but for the left.

February 25, 2009

"We, in former times, constantly made jokes about different races."

"You can only tell them today with one hand over your mouth otherwise you will be insulted as a racist. I find that ridiculous. In those earlier days every friendly clique had a 'Sam the Jew' or 'José the Mexican' - but we didn't think anything of it or have a racist thought. It was normal that we made jokes based on our nationality or ethnicity. That was never a problem. I don't want to be politically correct. We're all spending too much time and energy trying to be politically correct about everything."

So says Clint Eastwood.

Pleasant Grove City v. Summum — a 10 Commandments monument in a city park does not require the city to put up some other religion's monument.

The decision is unanimous, and quite correct:
“We think it is fair to say that throughout our nation’s history, the general government practice with respect to donated monuments has been one of selective receptivity,” and properly so, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the court....

The Summum group has contended that the Pleasant Grove City officials were no more entitled to discriminate among private monuments donated to a public park than they were entitled to forbid speeches and leaflets advocating viewpoints that they found unpalatable....

The core issue is not private speech in a public forum but, rather, the power of government to express itself, in this case by selecting which monuments to have in a public park, Justice Alito wrote.

“The Free Speech Clause restricts government regulation of private speech... It does not regulate government speech.”
Here's the whole text of the case, which I'm eager to read, but I have a class in a few minutes, so what I have to add will have to come later. There are 4 concurring opinions, which is interesting: Stevens, Scalia, Souter, and Breyer.

ADDED: From my post-oral argument discussion of the case:
I think it's pretty obvious that the city will win as the Justices (like Scalia) who support free speech for the government will have the support of the Justices (like Breyer) who look at real-world consequences and think practical thoughts.

But there still should be some hand-wringing over the one hypothetical that really did freak out everyone -- well, not Scalia, but almost everyone: What if the United States had decided to express itself by excluding the names of gay soldiers from the Vietnam memorial? Justice Stevens posed the hypothetical, and the Justices struggle with it....

So will the city win with a clearly stated rule, will the city win with a "legal judgment" based on the whole context, or will the city win based on a clearly stated rule that has an escape clause comprising Justice Stevens's Vietnam memorial hypothetical?
It's this aspect of the case that makes me want to comb through the various opinions. But first, it's time to go to class and talk about McCulloch v. Maryland one more time (something I will never get tired of doing).

There's an awful lot of instinctive revulsion toward Bobby Jindal.

Expressed by Josh Marshall ("absolutely cringeworthy"), Andrew Sullivan ("Jindal's entrance reminded one of Mr Burns gamboling toward a table of ointments"), and others.

Why are all these people so confident that they are not manifesting racism? There's just something about this man that doesn't seem right, that you don't care to examine exactly what it is, but you know it deep down in your gut somehow. Seriously. How do you know this is not racism?

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan proffers an answer to my question: "Maybe because there is not a trace of evidence of any kind that we are. Unless comparing Jindal to Kenneth the Page or Mr Burns taps unknown wells of racist hate in my heart. I mean, seriously." I think deeper reflection is needed. Why the urge to paint him as a white white man? Where did that come from? Of course, there are unknown wells inside us all. When you have an instinctive response to a person of another race, why not seek knowledge?

Which MSNBC character muttered "Oh, God" contemptuously as Bobby Jindal sauntered out to speak last night?

Olbermann?

UPDATE: Chris Thrill-Up-My-Leg Matthews confesses... with an explanation: "I was taken aback by that peculiar stagecraft, the walking from somewhere in the back of this narrow hall, this winding staircase looming there, the odd anti-bellum [sic] look of the scene. Was this some mimicking of a president walking along the state floor to the East Room?" So... stagecraft, eh? As if stagecraft is absurd and grandiose for a person who is not yet President.

***

"As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation appropriates Butterfly McQueen to proselytize atheism.

New York City tap water, the fancy bottled water...

... that you might want to buy if you're stranded somewhere where the idea that great water could come out of the tap seems really cool.

But, no, this stuff — Tap'd NY. Purified New York City tap water — is for sale in New York City.

"Water is all the same anyway. I just prefer to buy my own water in bottles," says a woman within easy range of the very taps that filled the bottle she is paying $1.50 for.

"He has investigated a lot of deities and read all the sacred books..."

"... trying to understand in some way who wrote them as much as the subject matter itself. It’s for his own healing that he reaches for those places. If he has one great love, it is his search for God."

"Although people in humanities have always lamented the state of the field..."

"... they have never felt quite as much of a panic that their field is becoming irrelevant."

"The way that underwear is being sold in Saudi Arabia is simply not acceptable to any population living anywhere in the modern world."

"This is a sensitive part of women's bodies. You need to have some discussions regarding size, colour and attractive choices and you definitely don't want to get into such a discussion with a stranger, let alone a male stranger. I mean this is something I wouldn't even talk to my friends about."

February 24, 2009

Obama's address to Congress... the live-blog.

Watch the don't-call-it-the-State-of-the-Union with me.

8:00: How come there are already 43 comments? The thing hasn't started yet! I suppose you guys are really excited about this. Nancy Pelosi has her olive-green sweatshirt on. I've chosen CBS... Katie Couric is obviously reading from a script.

8:04: Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Among the living! Closeups. Cheers.

8:05: Michelle Obama. Sleeveless! Purple!

8:06: Hillary! Looking radiant. Rahm! He's hot.

8:11: It's O! Red striped tie. Super-short hair. He's kissing all the ladies. The CBS commentary is soooo lame. This is true bipartisanship... except to the extent that it isn't....

8:15: Oops! O spoke over Nancy. Is Chief Justice Roberts there in the audience laughing?

8:20: We have terrible economic problems, but we're going to solve them. To do that, we need to understand how we got here. Then he lists various reforms — like health care — that I think he'd be listing even if there were no economic crisis. I can't see the connection between his economic wish list and the crisis at hand.

8:25: The text of the speech. Great, now like Nancy Pelosi, I can read along. It would be cool if Nancy had her laptop up there and was live-blogging.

8:31: Damn those executives with their jets and fancy drapes! No drapes for you!

8:33: Screw Wall Street but I love small business. Just be small and I will love you.

8:34: "Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover." There's no lilt of hope in that. Whatever happened to all the hope? This is leaden and lecture-y.

8:37: Which member of Congress is most obviously up past his bedtime? I'm going to say Charles Rangel.

8:40: "It will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career." So... no child left behind?

8:51: Orrin Hatch's name is invoked. We see him reading the speech and grimacing at his own name. He is not a prideful man.

8:59: Obama supports the troops.

9:03: Now, he's in the generic inspiration, listing-of-the-heroes part. Some businessman handed out money because "I didn't feel right getting the money myself." See, rich folk? Cough it up.

9:08: "Some day years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time" — oh, he's doing "this was the time" again — "when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, 'something worthy to be remembered.'" That was a goofy crescendo. I mean, paraphrase it: In the future, we'll look back and say that we remember doing something.

9:09: "And God Bless the United States of America." He almost forgot to say it.

9:22: Waiting for Bobby Jindal.

9:24: "Happy Mardi Gras!" Bobby's all enthusiastic about Barack Obama, the first African-American President!

9:26: Bobby learned a can-do attitude from his immigrant dad. His emphatic hand gestures are not quite in the camera frame. But I think his style is pretty good, though it sounds super-rehearsed. Somebody taught him every inflection I think. And that eye contact. It's a bit unnerving!

9:29: Jindal is nicely upbeat and confidence-inspiring. Don't monitor volcanoes! Monitor the eruption of spending!

9:35: The GOP wants to win back our trust.

9:37: Bobby: plastic and peppy. But maybe we'll get used to him.

Saint Barack.

Former law student said:
[T]his is my gift to Ann's right-wing commenters: A portrait of the Obamessiah.

"Enough. It’s not that you suck, it’s not that you strain for wan fratboy humor, it’s that you’re uninteresting. We’re embarrassed for you."

Enough of Gawker Media.

Via anamariecox.

"The mayor will be the first to admit that he occasionally indulges in bottled water."

"It's not something he's proud of."

An 8-foot-tall cross in Mojave National Preserve, set up by the VFW in 1934 as a war memorial, maintained by the National Park Service.

A violation of the Establishment Clause? The Supreme Court will decide.
The American Civil Liberties Union objected to the cross and filed a suit on behalf of Frank Bruno, a Catholic and former Park Service employee. The suit noted that the government had denied a request to have a Buddhist shrine erected near the cross.

Two years ago, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the ACLU and declared the cross an "impermissible governmental endorsement of religion."

Congress has intervened to try to save the cross by transferring a small parcel of land with the cross on it to a private group. However, the 9th circuit judges were unswayed. This "would leave a little donut hole of land with a cross in the midst of a vast federal preserve," the appeals court said.

Bush administration lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court last fall and said the "seriously misguided decision" will require the government "to tear down a cross that has stood without incident for 70 years as a memorial to fallen service members." The government also questioned whether Bruno should have standing to challenge the cross, since he lives in Oregon and suffers no obvious harm because of the Mojave cross.
So the 9th Circuit opinion can easily be wiped away with a standing decision, or the Court can reach the merits. If it does, I predict confidently that the Court will find the cross constitutional, based upon the principle old things carved in stone should be left alone.

***

A reminder:

About my proposed Titus recording.

So I said I wanted to record — and sell — a CD of me reading some of my favorite Titus comments. I hadn't decided if I'd actually do this, so your reaction to the proposal matters to me.

Chuck b. said:
Oh my..!

I would of course include selected tracks in the music program that I play during the cocktail hour before all my dinner parties.

Like everyone else in the world is going to do once this gets in circulation!

Everyone one the coasts, I mean.

Your level of celebrity is about to tick up a notch.
So far, so good. Chuck is with me!

Palladian said:
This is a terrible idea. I can't think of anything more repellent than having to listen to Titus's comments.

But this is the way the wind is blowing around here. Apparently someone's endless commentary about their excrement and their fictive sexual encounters and their ugly dogs is what passes for interesting conversation these days.

Will you include the parts where he insults other commenters? How about when he sexually harasses female commenters, asking about their tits? What about his unfunny faux-conservative rants? Will these all be a part of the collection?

Bleh. Better to make a best-of cd of your late podcast or sell prints of your photographs or squirrel mugs or simply as for donations like Andrew Sullivan used to do?
Uh oh. I don't have Palladian! Why doesn't he appreciate Titus's absurd writings? You won't be listening to Titus. You'll be listening to me. Whatever is repellent about Titus's voice will be transformed. It won't be an attempt to impersonate him, but purely me. I think I can help you see what is so funny about it. As for prints of my photographs, anyone can download the original files and print out whatever they want under the Creative Commons license I have displayed at Flickr. As for donations, my post worked as a request for donations and I got a few. (Thanks!) I'm not desperate for money. That's not my purpose here. I really am in it for the laughs. I was reading some Titus comments aloud — the thing about the sock — and I laughed into hysteria. I'd have a lot of fun making the recording, and I only want to share the fun.... with those who find it fun.

Skeptical said:
I know why Althouse likes Titus's shtick.

Even the lame crap that Titus serves up over and over becomes performance art through his sticking to it over the long haul. When one thinks of the narrative strand that is Titus's 'I squeezed out a loaf this morning, and it had two heads,' etc., picturing it extended in time, itself like an endless loaf shat out of Titus, it has an aesthetic appeal that none of the individual loaf comments even hints at individually. So when Althouse laughs at Titus's loaf remarks, she is laughing at it not on its own, but only as a loaf-moment, if you will, in the unending loaf.
Ha ha.

John Stodder said:
I think the guy's hilarious.... [T]here is something so decorous about the way Titus expresses pride in his creations, I can't help but laugh. There's a generosity about his whole approach here. Obviously, he's one of the commenters who disagrees with the majority, but his stings are gentle and sometimes clever....

But, professor, wouldn't it just be easier for you to write a damn book? You're a pioneer blogger, a pioneer bLAWger, and a pioneer woman blogger. I'm also convinced that you've got one of the few big blogs with political content that isn't essentially dishonest.... Why don't to write a book about this blog, why you do it, what it has added to your life and career, what it's taught you?....
This is something I thought of doing and, in fact, worked on — 100 pages worth — in 2005. I abandoned the project because I didn't like the way it felt to be on the outside observing the thing I was actively doing, as if it had already occurred. To blog is to be constantly in the middle of things. I want to be the blogger, not the memoirist observing me, the blogger. That's not bloggy. This blog may seem to be about me, but it's not. You may be able to see something of me in it, and I know it feels personal. But the fact is, I don't blog about myself. I blog about whatever interests me at any given moment, and I'm not self-absorbed. I want to look out, not in.

Onparkstreet said...
I have to admit, I scroll past the Titus comments because I find them a little bit gross.

And, the funny thing is, I'm trained as a pathologist.
Ha ha ha. That is funny.

Palladian again:
Titus is not just a harmless minstrel in a faggot costume debasing himself for the pleasure of the straights. If you have read enough of his comments (and there are certainly a lot of them), you'll have noticed that there's a deep nasty streak underneath all the "namaste" crap. The titus project is to disrupt any attempt at reasonable conversation and drive away the intelligent commenters and readers. It hasn't totally worked fortunately, but I have to say that my interest in reading the comments on a post drastically diminishes when I see his alias...

"Always wondered why Titus was tolerated."

Unfortunately Althouse's commendable respect for free speech in her comments has allowed some bad-faith commenters to do a lot of damage to the community.

I don't understand the attraction Althouse has for titus's writing. I mean, the first few times he talked about his vapid life and his "rare clumbers" I thought it was amusing. But it quickly got old and quickly became apparent that his intentions were not good-faith performance art....

To me, titus is like a blackface minstrel amusing a crowd of upper-class white people. I'm not entirely comfortable with his clownish and repulsive depiction of a gay man. And I'm still not convinced he's not an entirely fictitious character.
So if I'm amused, then I'm not politically correct, gay-wise?

Jason (the commenter) said:
Always wondered why Titus was tolerated.

I always wondered why Palladian was tolerated. I bet they are the same person!
The plot thickens. But I know Palladian. He couldn't be playing such an elaborate prank on me.

Theo Boehm said:
When Titus writes about some place or thing I know about, it's inevitably misapprehended and cartoonish. It seems, as Palladian points out, as if he's toying with the suckers. His putative sexual escapades are along the same lines, again, per Palladian....

Part of what Titus is about, as has been said, is the making of everything he tells into clownish and unappealing grotesquerie. Althouse reading [some other commenter's porn] would certainly attract attention, but it wouldn't have the same underlying dark and hostile humor, if you want to call it that, of Titus' offerings. The point of porn is to attract; Titus' goal is to repel. I do think, however, there's something to learn in the process.

Althouse has in the past attracted to "comic" characters... who were classic long-range trolls, and whose goal was disruption exactly as Palladian describes. I think Althouse's commitment to free speech assumes that openness toward, and even, in the case of Titus, a co-opting of hostility that is the best way to handle it. She may have a point and a lesson to teach here. Or she may be incredibly naive about the motivations of disruptive people.

Among the many things I have learned in this blog these past years is to never underestimate Althouse, especially in her longstanding role as teacher.
That means a lot and emboldens me.

Penny said:
Two thumbs up for Althouse, two thumbs up for Titus and two thumbs up for Palladian and all the rest of you.

The beauty of Ann's blog is its diversity. She has created an exceptional oasis here, where those who have very different sensibilities can come for a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.

I love politics and law. I love art and photography, and humor, and commenting on headlines. I could go on and on. The best thing that Ann has brought us ALL, is a place where we can virtually sit down and hash nearly ANYTHING out, and nearly always without making those not-like-us our enemies...or worse yet, buffoons.

Face it. Most of us head out on the internet every day for hours. Some might like to spend most of their time listening to those who say EXACTLY what they are thinking. Some take some time to check out msm links, or even the political "opposition". But where the heck do we choose to plop our asses down at the end of a hard day, or a boring day or a so-so kind of day? Right the heck here at Ann Althouse's place.

And why is that? I suggest it is because Ann is OPEN to all of us being EXACTLY the way we are. It is her "gift", and our good fortune, to have found her in this world that is becoming increasingly intolerant.

Please don't screw up what our hostess, Ann, is bringing to the internet.

This fine lady will become famous for opening up her "living room" to all of us. ALL of us.

Count me as one who will be searching out Titus, right after I give Ann a great big hug for keeping us all human.

Money follows value, my dear. And YOU, Ann Althouse, are more valuable than you know.
Aw. Cool. Thanks.

Ralph said...
"Sex and the City" proved there's a market for women talking about dicks. Perhaps Althouse wants to prove there's a market for women talking about shit.
And hog.

Palladian said:
Good Evening fellow republicans and lovers of the Bush Doctrine. Here's my attempt at a titus audiobook. I took all the comments he made in yesterday's "Mauve Cafe" post and performed them in the closest approximation of my impression of titus that I could throw together in 5 minutes. I did a bit of digital post-processing to "enhance" the performance and added an appropriate backing track.
Am I a bad person if that made me laugh until tears ran down my face (even though you tried to make me feel guilty about laughing by using that "gay" voice that only homophobes are supposed to laugh at)? By the way, Palladian left out the funniest part of the sock story, the part that nearly killed me.

Jason (the commenter) said:
Palladian,

Althouse MUST do this!

I never knew you had such a sexy voice. I always read your stuff (out loud to my friends) in a monotone.
Palladian said:
Well... uh, thanks I think. But that's not really what my voice sounds like, the pitch and speed is digitally altered and I was laying on the stereotypical faggotry pretty thickly. But my voice is quite animated and modulated, not a monotone at all.
Darcy said:
Palladian, with that bit of genius, you do realize you probably just guaranteed Althouse doing this, right?
Palladian said:
My God! What have I done!?

Oh, by the way, I am The Arm, and I sound like this...."

[cough]
Jason (the commenter) said...
Palladian,

You're real voice sounds cute! You could have read what Titus wrote with your normal voice and it would have been just as funny.

Clearly, Althouse should do a compilation.

It would be amazing if Matmos could make it into a song, like Tract for Valerie Solanas.

This also shows the genius of Titus. He's growing on me.
Palladian said:
Just like tinea cruris...

Here's my LuckyOldSon/Michael voice.
Penny said:
Althouse is a leader, and shaping us all, simply with her presence.

The fucking beauty here is that she is not shaping us all in her own form.

To whoever up above asked where I came from? Same place as you. I hit a link that FINALLY makes some sense to me.

Philosophical "warrior" in need of some middle place...and YES...even better, a sometimes silly place to set my ass down when I have had enough of "all that".

Thank you, Ann, for allowing my butt to rest here.

So? Does this site make my ass look big?
TitusFreezeFrame said:
Palladian that was brillant.

Wow, the time and energy you have devoted to this is remarkable.

More please!

I laughed my ass off!
Palladian said:
Took 5 minutes each, darling.
TitusFreezeFrame said:
Regardless of how much time it took it was terrific.

I bet you even got a little chuckle doing it, didn't you?

That voice, which I know is embelished, is the voice of my comments.

I love how you pronounced burgurs the same way I spelled it. Amazing....

All and all there is a lot of love here.

And hate I guess-150 comments on me? One commenter was right I don't give a shit...obviously.

What I do think is amusing is if anyone tried to share this with someone outside of this blog.

So there is a commenter who comments about pinching loaves. I am thinking of putting it on a CD (Althouse). I am actually going to tape some of his comments in a very queeny voice (Palladian). Try explaining that to someone at your next company staff meeting.

Also, this place would be boring without me. Just another voice bitching about liberals. Ignore me, although it seems to be hard for some.

And I actually do talk to my friends like I talk on this blog. I think I have mentioned this before but I actually leave recordings on my friends voicemails of me pinching loaves with grunts and groans and everything. They in turn forward them to other friends. I have also called them when I am having sex and let them listen. The trick doesn't know but it is my little way of sharing my life with my friends.

Now I feel a virtual group hug coming on. Don't you?

"Human inadequacy."

Jac's new tag.

"You may not come in here. This is student free space. Excuse me. You're on camera. You are on camera. Do not use brutality. You may not detain us."

Student protest today.

IN THE COMMENTS: Great White Father George said:
Montessori-educated, slipper-wearing, Obama-sticker plastering, Phish listening, Black History Month loving, anti-bullying program attending, journal keeping, personal "space" needing, Apple loyal, 'time-out' disciplined, CNN listening, organic carrot-stick nibbling children whose parents never imposed any rules on them.

Your mascot is a nut! Your mascot is a meaningless puppet!

Andy Van Sistine wants to know what's wrong with you schools.
Does it say something about a university when they invent a mascot, give it a name and then trail off when someone asks what the hell that thing is?

Speaking of meaningless puppets, the Western Kentucky red blob thing still boggles my mind. He is like a short, red version of Grimace, the McDonalds character on Happy Meal boxes....

Big Red’s sad blue cousin from Xavier is no better. Affectionately referred to as “The Blue Blob,” I cannot figure out why the Musketeers choose to have this guy roaming around their sports arenas as opposed to a swashbuckling swordsman. He looks like an oversized Cookie Monster who got a bucket of hydrochloric acid dumped on his head. What it is and what relevance it has to Musketeers or the greater Cincinnati community, I would sure love to know....
I have no answers to these questions. I don't follow sports. But I'm going to theorize that somewhere along the line, a lot of people watched way too much Muppets and smoked too much pot. And isn't this the original culprit?

February 23, 2009

"Woke up from dream I was starring in reality TV game show with ambiguous rules that I could not figure out."

Chuck b. has a dream. Reality shows aren't really too real. And dreams are not real. Make it a lucid dream and go all Jeff Probst and simply announce and impose some rules. Go from there. Is your life a reality show with ambiguous rules? Make some rules! Identify someone with permission to break the rules. Proceed!

Socks died.

Famous cat ... kaput.

That orange with a straw stuck in it.

It meant a lot to people. They liked that thing. Probably because it was a sex symbol. So Pepsico had to go back to the old symbolic genitalia for the Tropicana carton.

February 22, 2009

Live-blogging the Oscars.

Hang out and watch with me.

7:28: I'm loving Tim Gunn gushing over the lady actors.

7:28: Hugh Jackman, he can sing and run around desperately on the stage, and oh! that gorgeous white foam in the corners of his mouth.

7:43: Best Supporting Actress ... a stripper need never take off her dignity with her clothes... blah blah... bullshit. Ugh! this is boring. So so stilted. But yay! Penélope Cruz, won. I love her.

7:52: "They're making the announcing of the nominees into a religious ceremony," IMs Chris (my son). Yes. Indeed. Good lord, it's deadly. This may go down as the most embarrassingly bad Oscars show of all time.

7:58: "Milk" wins original screenplay, and we get some mawkish bilge about the gays.

9:02: Sorry, my interest flagged...

9:09: Heath Ledger wins Best Supporting Actor and everyone acts all sanctimonious and morosely glum. Seriously, folks: Don't encourage suicidal behavior. The man had some talent. He performed a role. And he threw it all away. How about rewarding the living? I'm taking a break. Carry on without me. I find tonight's Oscars insipid and sickly. I'd rather live than sit through this embalming.

9:45: I went off and lived the real life for over an hour. Came back to the TiVo and found Jerry Lewis maundering about himself.

10:11: The Parade of the Dead. Marching to the tune of Queen Latifah singing "I'll Be Seeing You." She doesn't have the pipes for this song. It's painful. But take heart. The dead can't hear her. The agonizing death of this song has me rethinking my beliefs about euthanasia. Finally, we get to Paul Newman. We hear the only spoken word in the death sequence. The big difference between people, Paul says, is between those who have had "pleasure in love" and those who haven't. True enough. So turn off the fucking television and love somebody.

10:18: Danny Boyle wins Best Director. Appropriate. I agree. He hops up and down. He says it's in "the spirit of Tigger."

10:30: Best Actress. It's torture listening to presenting actresses' leaden praise of the actresses who longingly ache for the little gold man. The presenters are hogging camera time by talking slow slow slow. Thank God the Oscar goes to Kate Winslet because we're all tired as hell of hearing about how Kate Winslet has not won the Oscar yet. She gives a cheeseball speech about how as a little girl she pretended to do her Oscar acceptance speech with a shampoo bottle.

10:40: Now, the religious ritual for the Best Actor. Oh! It's so slow and dumb. This is the worst Oscar show ever. I have some things to do, but I'm hanging on to the end (after fast-forwarding through the whole rotten (I presume) center. Come on, give Mickey or Sean the damned man. And it's Sean! I approve!

10:44: "You commie, homo-loving sons of guns," says Sean. I'm going to pack it in now. I'm going to assume "Slumdog Millionaire" gets the Best Picture, and if it doesn't, I'll find out in the morning. So carry on without me, my friends.

Come on, everybody!

IMG_1110

Let's go into the woods!

DSC09976

Ooh.... nice doggy!

DSC09979

I don't particularly understand these men who say they don't like women who "play games."

What's wrong with games? Maybe you need better games. Like you know you go over to one friend's house and they have Scrabble and Risk, and then you to to another friend's house and the best game is something like — what's the crappiest kid game? — Ants in the Pants.

IN THE COMMENT: Chip Ahoy said:
This question, amusing as it is, suffers the equivocation fallacy whereby the use of a term with more than one meaning is switched.

The men who complain about women who play games, ridiculous on the surface because men play games too, are referring to emotional games of the sort one of my sister excels. Having such a sister has taught me what to look for here, she glees at her ability to provoke observable emotion in her subject. Jealousy? That'll do. Anger? That works. Rage? Best of all possible observable emotions.

Our hostess knows this, and we know she knows this, but she playfully switches the term from emotion games to formal games within the proposition. So the answer is, "Yes, of course, better games would be an improvement." Games like Lawn Darts at Forty Paces, or Horseshoes Without the Poles, Naked Barbed Wire Twister, Paintball Without Armor, Cowboys and Indians with Real Weapons, Pack One Another's Parachute, Ski the Grand Canyon, Boxing With Gauntlets, Riding Lawn Mower Rodeo, Human Piñata, Hunting on the Island of Doctor Moreau, Beanbags Filled with Nails, Barefoot Jellyfish Collecting, William Tell, Ninjas VS. Ballerinas, Survive the Viper Pit, Chainsaw Badminton, Grenade Tennis, Komodo Dragon Roundup, Geisha High Wire Race, Find the Short in the Flooded Basement, Hide and Go Seek in the Shark Tank, White Water Rafting Tag.

An Althouse blog fund-raiser.

I write this blog for pure love and expression, as you must know by now, but, nevertheless, I think it's good for writers to be paid. Everyone seems to love to quote Samuel Johnson's line "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." It's a good way to tweak writers, and, really, why not tweak writers? Most of us are full of ourselves. Why do we think the world owes us because we give verbal form to our thoughts? You've got thoughts too, and we ought to be grateful that you are reading at all.

You could hit my PayPal button and make a donation, but that rarely happens, and I can't conceive of badgering you to just give me money. I could write a book or do a photography collection and push it to you, but really, time has proved that I'm not going to do that. My energy is in writing the blog, and I'm not going to do anything that dissipates that energy.

But last night I got an idea for a fund-raiser. I was reading the comments on "At the Mauve Café" and I nearly died laughing reading the stuff Titus wrote. I said, I should make a CD of me reading Titus comments — from that post and others, the funniest stuff, which I'd select. Price of the CD to be determined Now, Titus did the writing so I need him to willingly, eagerly, and open-heartedly donate the license to me to use his comments this way, in support of my writing on the blog. Okay, Titus?

All this desolate emptiness.

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I realize there is a certain desolate emptiness on the blog today. I'm not personally desolate. Quite the opposite, in fact. But that photograph shows the spooky windswept look of Lake Mendota, seen from the end of Picnic Point yesterday.