August 15, 2009

Unlimited Electronics.

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"I'm going to boycott Althouse until she gives us another clue to this puzzle."

Says Peter Hoh in the Whole Foods boycott post, referring to this photograph puzzle (with added clue). Here's a big clue:

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That man is Sam Rushing, of Ouray, Colorado.

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The so-called "Moderate Voice" supports the Whole Foods boycott.

At what point does that blog's name move from being laughable to outright irritating?
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey shot his company in the face the other day with an anti-health care op-ed screed in the Wall Street Journal. He’s managed to piss off his company’s core demographic: liberals and progressives, and in the process, enabled a boycott that could actually work.
"Shot his company in the face"? "Piss off"? Even if you don't have moderate opinions, shouldn't your "voice" — your rhetorical style — at least be moderate if you're going to call yourself The Moderate Voice. Or was it always sarcasm? You shot your blog in the face. I can say that, because I've never leveraged my reputation with a claim that I'm putting my opinions — which actually are moderate — in a moderate voice — which I think is something to do to the extent that you choose, not to claim to do. But damn, if you're going to claim to do it, you'd better do it. You're pissing me off.
While I don’t normally support boycotts (for the most part, I don’t think they’re terribly well organized or impactful), this one is different, and I do believe it can be very effective.
(Hot link added by me.)
Here’s why: Whole Foods has always marketed itself to a fairly educated and financially secure customer base. This is why they can successfully sell healthy (and primarily organic) foods, at a higher cost. The company has also fostered the image that it has an altruistic streak in supporting progressive causes.

With a single op-ed in an uber conservative national newspaper, this wholesome image has been blown to bits. In the course of writing 1,165 words, CEO Mackey has caused more potential damage to the Whole Foods corporate image than an e-coli outbreak in the meat room.
What? Did you even read the op-ed you are shitting on? Since when is supporting ill-formed, sprawling legislative reform the be-all and end-all of wholesomeness?
In calling for support of the boycott of Whole Foods, I’m making an educated guess that their average customer is very politically progressive in nature. And that is why, if liberals and progressives quit shopping at Whole Foods, the impact would be quickly apparent to the company’s Board of Directors. By quickly, I mean by this coming Monday morning when the weekend receipts are tallied.
What delusion! I'll bet the liberals and progressives keep going to Whole Foods, which is about a high-quality selection of goods sold in a pleasant, slightly posh environment. I don't think people are going there to make a political statement, and I don't think people will boycott it to make a political statement — or at least not to make a statement about their support for health care reform, which, you may note, people are not fired up about. People are fired up against the legislation, and Whole Foods may gain some new customers, but we longtime Whole Foods shoppers go there for personal benefit and indulgence (which may include a smidgen of feeling good about greenness and "fair trade").
On a lighter note, take a few minutes and read the Whole Foods website forums on this topic. The forums have been invaded by freepers and redstaters, with predictably resultant hilarity. If one was to believe the freepers, Whole Foods is going to have an entirely new demographic shopping in their stores. The only problem is: last I checked, Whole Foods doesn’t stock Coke, Cheetos, Armor hotdogs, or 365-brand Instant Grits.
There's your comedy in a "moderate voice." And of course, Whole Foods does sell cola, cheese puffs, hotdogs, and grits.

UPDATE: We just went to Whole Foods to get our favorite bread — "Seeduction" — and picked up a few other things — for $80+. Not making a political statement. Just doing what we would have done anyway. And, of course, the place was packed as usual — here in lefty Madison. It occurred to me that the boycott will not only fail, it will backfire. Whole Foods shoppers won't give up their pleasure easily. If they are pushed to boycott, they will want to read the Mackey op-ed, and if they do that, they will see it is a brilliant and specific analysis that is stunningly better thought-out than what we are hearing from Obama and the Democrats. Moreover, once they do that, they should be outraged — or at least annoyed — by those who called for a boycott, who sought to enforce such strict obedience to the particular of legislation that the Democrats in Congress have been trying to ram through. Maybe some of the people who want to support Obama and the Democrats will stop and think for themselves about what health care reform should be.

2 moving pictures from today's Farmers' Market.

2 boys were playing "Like a Rolling Stone" and collecting lots of dollar bills (including 2 from us):



A religious choir was singing as the nearby mindless drummer played:

"If you ate the brains, you could make a wish."

Squirrel casserole.

"It's embarrassing to be all 'Rah Rah Rah! Gooooo BOOZE!' only to zip off with my tail between my legs..."

"... saying, 'never mind, I’ve joined the other team,' but it’s what I had to do."

When you write about drinking, you never run out of material, because you can go on to writing about quitting. And if that's not enough, write about falling back into drinking, then how quitting the second time is different, going back to drinking responsibly, how that doesn't work, quitting again, etc. etc. Drinking is a goldmine of subject matter. And I bet drinkers are a good source of readers, since you can drink — quite a lot — while reading.

ADDED: We could make a list of books about drinking. The 2 that sprang to mind for me are:
"Dry," by Augusten Burroughs
"Clapton: The Autobiography"

Unpainted and painted.

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2 buildings in Silverton, Colorado.

"The president is turning to his grass-roots network — the 13 million members of Organizing for America — for support."

But somehow these people aren't all that mobilizable:
“People came out of the woodwork for Obama during the campaign, but now they are hibernating... Now it is hard to find enough volunteers to fight the Republicans’ fire with more fire.”

Come on! Get your bike!

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Let's go!

"Specter got it all wrong that I ever used words ‘death boards’. Even liberal press never accused me of that. So change ur (sic) last Tweet Arlen."

So it's come to this.

"Remember how Bush was supposed to be the idiot who went into Iraq without a plan, while Obama was supposed to be the cool methodical one?"

"But Reich is admitting that despite all the Administration hoopla, there’s still no plan. Or, possibly, that the White House has a plan, but won’t tell us what it is. And yet the people who don’t want to see a bill — some bill, doing who-knows-what — rammed through in the dead of night are somehow the ones who are ignorant and being manipulated. Right."

***

So I've got to use my "Obama is like Bush tag" again. And since it's a secret plan, I'm going to whip out the less-used "Obama is like Nixon."

Real househusbands are the subject of a new reality TV show...

... but they just don't dish out the drama like the real housewives.

About those angry mobs at the townhall meetings...

They dress like hell.
They are wearing T-shirts, baseball caps, promotional polo shirts and sundresses with bra straps sliding down their arm. They wear fuchsia bandannas and American-flag hankies wrapped around their skulls like sweatbands. A lot of them look as though they could be attending a sporting event and, as it turns out, the congressman is the opposing player they have decided to heckle. If not for the prohibition on signs and banners inside these meetings, one could well expect to see some of these volatile worker bees wearing face paint and foam fingers, albeit the highlighted digit would be one expressing foul displeasure rather than competitive rank or skill level....
Robin Givhan's contempt for reform opponents oozes from the first half of her column, which probably entertains many of her readers, but keep reading. The most interesting thing is the contrast between these people and the member of Congress who shows up in a suit. Why don't these opponents wear suits and thereby project authority?
Would they garner more respect? Would they compel more lawmakers to rethink their positions rather than merely repeat, again and again -- in a voice that has the tone of an impatient kindergarten teacher -- the same core points?
On the other hand, why doesn't the member of Congress dress down?
Washington's power brokers have suited up to underscore their authority and the seriousness of the subject matter. And bully for them. But their attire also says: I am the boss of you.All those howling citizens -- in their T-shirts and ball caps and baggy shorts -- are saying: No, you're not.
The closed-minded confrontational quality of these meetings was understood and fixed in place as the various participants got dressed in the morning.

Now, speaking of suits, Robin Givhan did not do a column on Obama's beer summit with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and James Crowley (and Joe Biden).What's with wearing suits to drink beer at a picnic table, and what did it mean that Obama and Biden had taken their jackets off and Gates and Crowley were left to swelter in the summer heat? This was a topic set up so squarely for Givhan that I'm forced to think that she actively avoided it. Why?

***

Givhan is especially interested in men's suits. I've done 2 Bloggingheads diavlogs with her, and both times — 2 years ago and 1 year ago — she rhapsodized about the man's suit — "The suit is the triumph of civilization":



August 14, 2009

At Smedleys.

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Come on, Smedley, talk to me.

(Photo by Meade, in Silverton, Colorado.)

'''What is your name, sir?' the officer asked. 'Bob Dylan,' Dylan said."

"'OK, what are you doing here?' the officer asked. 'I'm on tour,' the singer replied.... The officers asked Dylan for identification. The singer... said that he didn't have any ID with him, that he was just walking around looking at houses to pass some time before that night's show. The officers asked Dylan, 68, to accompany them back to the Ocean Place Resort and Spa, where the performers were staying. Once there, tour staff vouched for Dylan. The officers thanked him for his cooperation. 'He couldn't have been any nicer to them.'"

So that's real-life Bob. In songs, he's more...
They asked me my name
And I said, "Captain Kidd"
They believed me but
They wanted to know
What exactly that I did
I said for the Pope of Eruke
I was employed
They let me go right away
They were very paranoid

IN THE COMMENTS: Drew W said:
And yet Dylan didn't yell at the cops that he was being hassled only because he's a Jewish man in America.

AND: Actually, it looks like he was hassled because of his skin color:
He was strolling along a residential street in the Latin Quarter of the seaside town when police received a call reporting an “eccentric looking old man"....

Two patrol officers were dispatched to investigate and stopped Dylan...

Sergeant Craig Spencer from Long Branch police station said: "Residents called to complain there was an old scruffy man acting suspiciously.

"It was an odd request because it was mid-afternoon, but it’s an ethnic Latin area and the residents felt the man didn’t fit in. Lets just say he looked eccentric."

I don't know how you feel about roadside memorials, but...

... for a hen?

What is it?

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A photo puzzle.

ADDED: A clue:

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Silverton churches.

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Silverton, Colorado.

"Mr. Augusto said he had bought the gun, a Winchester 12-gauge pump-action with a pistol-grip handle..."

"... after a robbery 20 years ago and had a permit for it. 'Not even touched in 20 years,' he said. 'Not even touched. I wish I didn’t need to.'"

"It was not a simple yawn. It was a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings."

Contempt! Jail!

"We have been in dozens of Wal-Mart parking lots throughout the country, actually it’s one of our favorite things to do..."

"... if we’re not having to plug in and we’ve got enough electricity and all that. But you can get a little shopping in, see part of real America. It’s fun!"

Clarence Thomas's wife talks about traveling around America in an RV with her husband, whom most people don't recognize. They drive a 40-foot Prevost bus, customized by Marathon Coaches, which looks damned glamorous.

If you graduated from college at age 17, would you go to law school?

The story of Kate McLaughlin, who didn't go straight to law school. She waited until she was 19.
So why do we worry about McLaughlin’s decision to go to law school? Perhaps we shouldn’t. She certainly seems interested in social causes: “I’m an idealist; I want to change the world,” she said. “I bleed blue; I’m a Democrat. I’m an ardent feminist. I’m big on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights – Prop. 8 was a big issue for me.”

At the same time, she says being a lawyer isn’t at the top of her to-do list. Rather, she wants to be a science fiction writer. “Writing and reading are my passions,” she said. “I get the most riled up discussing fiction.”

And on law school, she says: “I’m worried I’ll hate law school because it will take up too much of my time on things I’m not interested in.” McLaughlin, who keeps a blog, will take out student loans to pay for Northwestern.
Shouldn't we all do what gets us "most riled up" — what interests us? But if you love and excel at writing and you want to "change the world," law school is a fine choice. And a legal education could be the foundation for a fiction-writing career... perhaps even science fiction writing.

Whatever. It's her choice. It must be weird to be a teenager and have the Wall Street Street journal and the legal blogosphere opining about something you decided to do.

And here's her blog, evilprodigy. Sample:
I'm a writer. First and foremost, I'm a writer. I write fantasy, science fiction and horror: specifically, I most often write historically based fantasy set in 1820s England -- because the world needs more historical fantasy that takes the messed-up and oligarchic nature of European imperialism seriously rather than further celebrating how wonderful and clever it was to be rich and pretty and white and rich in the 19th century, and clever, and witty, and rich, and pretty. Also because I like cravats, otherworlds and Judeo-Christian myth. I love fantasy. I love comics: I love fantasy comics, DC's Vertigo imprint and many of its titles being near and dear to my heart. I'm a very budding artist (possibly an embryonic artist, or perhaps a zygote artist). In other words, creativity in some form or another is my passion and my life, and has been as long as I've been old enough to know what I want out of life....

I've also had a school background of academic acceleration. And I'm Asian....

[P]eople love to dismiss the academic and professional achievements of Asian-Americans of every shape and size, and people especially love to dismiss it with the word logical. Or hard-working. Or any number of other words, and they all boil down to the same thing -- automaton. Robot. Time and time again white people dismiss the intelligence, the talent, the creativity of Asian people with these words -- "pointing out" that "Asians are only good at math," or that Asians are only good at science, and the only reason why they're good at these things is that they're Vulcans hardwired to compute (which has drastically taken away from their other human capacities, of course) -- ignoring the economic reasons why immigrant Asian families might encourage their second-gen kids to study lucrative subjects, of course, ignoring the all-around high scores. It's robotics. No other explanation. They all do math, anyway. Just human calculators. Just automatons. Just Spock, with pocket protectors and SAT academies.

I point to this astoundingly atrocious CNN article, Why right-brainers will rule this century, for an example: In "A Whole New Mind," he explains that one of the trademarks of the Conceptual Age is the outsourcing of traditional white-collar jobs such as law, accounting, and engineering to less-expensive overseas workers, particularly in Asia. But as he points out, you can't outsource creativity. Not to Asians you can't! They ain't born with it!

As you can see, as soon as an Asian starts doing something, it becomes a robot job. Even if it's the practice of law. Even if it's engineering.

My last name is McLaughlin and I have brown hair, so I have the lucky privilege of more people being willing to believe that my accomplishments are my own, that my ideas are my own, that I might actually just be a smart human being. However, my mother's last name was Kwon and I have that unlucky old friend, the epicanthic fold, so I'm still faced with legions of people willing to self-justify themselves into believing that verbal acuity is just another form of Asian Spock -- for real. People who have the nerve to say, "well, writing isn't really art." People who have the nerve to say, "well, you don't play music as an artist." People who have the nerve to say, you scored that high because you're Asian -- you skipped those grades because you're Asian -- you're good at that because you're Asian -- well, you had an Asian parent (a slavedriver) -- your mom's a tough parent (a dragon lady) -- you're Asian -- you're a robot -- you're Asian, you're Asian --

Maybe that guy scored higher than you on the SAT because he wasn't raised with the complacent knowledge that he could get into a good old boys' club whether he was Einstein or dumb as a post. Maybe that Asian engineer won the Nobel because he had a great idea. Maybe that girl has better grades than you because she deserves them. And maybe, just maybe -- maybe it doesn't take a robot to kick your lazy, self-satisfied, entitled ass to the curb anyway.
Ha ha. Excellent. Snazzy. Good luck.

ADDED: Remember when Seamus Farrow went to Yale Law School at the age of 16. What's he up to now?

The science narrator who once voiced awe at astronomical size now sounds rather silly.

In last night's Sunset Tavern, rhhardin wrote:
The science narrator genre, made popular in the late 60s.
"There are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe. Simply saying that number doesn't mean much to us because it doesn't provide any context. Our brains have no way to accurately put that in any meaningful perspective."
The quote is from this:



RH goes on:
100 billion is a twentieth of the 2009 Obama deficit.

It's doesn't seem so big now, astronomers.

Needed, a government narrator genre replacing the universe with the deficit.

The Hubble telescope looks at pork.

"A big gay thanks but no thanks."

"[T]he domestic-partner registry, introduced by Gov. Jim Doyle in the name of what he called decency, [is nothing but a] sad compromise..."

"RiffTrax Live: Plan 9 From Outer Space."

"Mystery Science Theater" fans take note!
Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy (the voice of Tom Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot) will appear on the big screen for an evening of live riffing on the 1959 Ed Wood cult classic "Plan 9," from the Belcourt Theater in Nashville...
August 20th, on 434 screens, including Point here in Madison,

If it was completely wrong for Sarah Palin to say "death panels," why did the Senate scuttle the provision she was talking about?

Why didn't the congressional Democrats defend their own bill? If it was so terribly wrong to say "death panels" — and what indignation was expressed! — then why wasn't it easy to crush stupid, crazy Sarah for what she so outrageously said? By backing down and removing the language she leveraged, they not only seem to admit she had a point, they sacrifice credibility that they need to promote what's left of the bill.

Here's the NYT article headlined "False 'Death Panel' Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots":
Advanced even this week by Republican stalwarts including the party’s last vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and Charles E. Grassley, the veteran Iowa senator, the nature of the assertion nonetheless seemed reminiscent of the modern-day viral Internet campaigns that dogged Mr. Obama last year, falsely calling him a Muslim and questioning his nationality.
"Seemed reminiscent"? To whom? "Death panels" was a characterization of a provision in a bill — an aggressive, politicized attempt at interpretation of the text of the proposed law. It was a parry in the debate about the bill, and the bill's defenders could have explained exactly why the text could not mean what Palin said it meant, or they could have rewritten the provision to make it absolutely clear that it meant whatever it was that they'd wanted it to mean when they wrote it. Rather than meet Palin's attack, the Democrats pulled the provision altogether, leaving us wondering what other provisions would have to be pulled if someone subjected them to a memorable — viral — attack.

When a big bill is dumped on us, we are challenged to read and understand the text. Usually we don't, but the text is there, and there's nothing scurrilous about trying to read it, calling attention to worrisome language, and putting our arguments in vivid words. A candidate, on the other hand, is not a text to be read, but there are facts about him that we may want to know. If someone asserts a fact about a candidate and says, for example, that Obama is a Muslim or Obama was born in Kenya, then the candidate, if he doesn't choose to ignore the assertion or simply make his own flat assertion of denial, is forced to come up with some evidence, which may be difficult and may lead to a new phase of the controversy in which the evidence is challenged.

This is completely different from a controversy about a written text that people are trying to read. If the text doesn't mean what its opponents are saying, it should be easy for the authors of the text to show how it means something good or to amend the text and make its goodness obvious. The authors of the text should trounce their opponents. If they can't, we should fear and mistrust them.

If Obama can't convincingly prove he's not a Muslim/not born in Kenya, it only means the rumors might be true, but he was not the creator of the rumor, as the Democrats were the creators of the text that lent itself to Palin's "death panels" characterization.
There is nothing in any of the legislative proposals that would call for the creation of death panels or any other governmental body that would cut off care for the critically ill as a cost-cutting measure. But over the course of the past few months, early, stated fears from anti-abortion conservatives that Mr. Obama would pursue a pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia agenda, combined with twisted accounts of actual legislative proposals that would provide financing for optional consultations with doctors about hospice care and other “end of life” services, fed the rumor to the point where it overcame the debate.

On Thursday, Mr. Grassley said in a statement that he and others in the small group of senators that was trying to negotiate a health care plan had dropped any “end of life” proposals from consideration.
Ha ha. I think that "On Thursday" paragraph had to be edited in a the last minute.
A pending House bill has language authorizing Medicare to finance beneficiaries’ consultations with professionals on whether to authorize aggressive and potentially life-saving interventions later in life. Though the consultations would be voluntary, and a similar provision passed in Congress last year without such a furor, Mr. Grassley said it was being dropped in the Senate “because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”
Not just "interpreted... incorrectly" but "implemented incorrectly"! Well, there you have it! We are absolutely right to fear the way laws may be implemented. What does "incorrectly" even mean? If the language is there to be implemented a particular way, what should we care if the members of Congress preserved an out for themselves, letting them say that was not what they meant? It only makes it more underhanded!
The extent to which it and other provisions have been misinterpreted in recent days, notably by angry speakers at recent town hall meetings but also by Ms. Palin — who popularized the “death panel” phrase — has surprised longtime advocates of changes to the health care system.
"Misinterpreted in recent days"... and potentially misimplemented in future days, when it's too late and the law's the law.
... Former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, an advocate for the health care proposals, said he was occasionally confronted with the “forced euthanasia” accusation at forums on the plans, but came to see it as an advantage. “Almost automatically you have most of the audience on your side,” Mr. Daschle said. “Any rational normal person isn’t going to believe that assertion.”
Yes. Then why didn't Democrats argue their side? Why did they back down? I suspect it's because they really did hope to save money by substituting painkillers for curative treatments for the old and disabled.

Who/what is Google honoring today?

Here's the logo running over there:



Pause the cursor over it long enough and you'll see it's Hans Christian Ørsted. And who was he and what is that logo supposed to be:
... Google's Doodle logo illustrates his key discovery. That is, if you run a current through a wire – in this case, from the battery at the front – then the electricity creates a magnetic field, which will deflect a compass needle.

Thus the study of electromagnetism was born, and it's the basis of a lot of modern life: it led to the development of electricity generators and transformers....

As with many great discoveries, it happened by accident. In 1820, Ørsted, a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Copenhagen, was preparing an evening lecture when he noticed that a compass needle moved away from magnetic north and pointed to the wire whenever current flowed from the battery....

To honour Ørsted, the scientific community named the unit of magnetic induction after him, in what we now call the CGS (centimetre-gram-second) system. Sadly for him, people no longer measure things in oersteds, because nowadays we use an international metric system (SI) that honours people such as Ampere, Ohm, Hertz, James Prescott Joule, James Watt and Michael Faraday instead.
Poor Ørsted. But if he only discovered it by accident, he's lucky he got as much glory as he did. And now he's got a new jolt of fame, from Google.

By the way, there was no Mr. Google. These days, we name things with words with think sound fun and exciting — Google, Yahoo, etc. — not after fusty old professors. But thanks to the old professor, nonetheless.

Is Hillary Clinton Secretary of State or the First Lady?

"Clinton's agenda makes women's issues a priority" headlines the Boston Globe:
She talked chickens with female farmers in Kenya. She listened to the excruciating stories of rape victims in war-torn eastern Congo. And in South Africa, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a housing project built by poor women, where she danced with a choir that was singing her name.

Clinton’s seven-country trip to Africa, which ends today, has sent the clearest signal yet that she intends to make women’s rights one of her signature issues and a higher priority than ever before in American diplomacy.

Clinton’s goals include pressing governments to crack down on sexual abuse and retooling US aid programs to put more emphasis on women.
These are worthy things, but speaking of women's issues, this woman, Hillary Clinton, has been subordinated.
Clinton isn’t the first female secretary of state, but neither of her predecessors had her impact abroad as a sort of pop feminist icon....

Clinton mentioned “women’’ or “woman’’ at least 450 times in public comments in her first five months, twice as much as her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice.

Clinton’s interest in global women’s issues is deeply personal, a mission she adopted when her husband was in the White House after the stinging defeat of her health care policy forced her to take a lower profile.
And what now is forcing her to take a lower profile? Condoleezza Rice didn't pay special attention to women's issues because she took on the traditional work of the Secretary of State. Why is Hillary Clinton going back to the traditional work of the First Lady, work that she didn't originally want to be relegated to when she was First Lady, but that she retreated to after her work on health care reform collapsed?

And why bring up the fact that Condoleezza Rice didn't say "woman" and "women" a lot in her speeches and not compare Madeleine Albright too? I think we know the answer. The Boston Globe is straining to put Hillary in a good light, as she is consigned to foreign affairs work that does not involve important American interests. She's doing "women's work," unlike Albright and Rice, and that makes her look inferior. Quick! How can we make that seem superior? Compare her to bad old Condi Rice, who didn't spend her time with female chicken farmers and rape victims. Doesn't that make it look like a step up? No, it's a big step down, and Hillary knows it.

Obama is hogging all the glory, while Hillary is left with the hens. She know it and it's irksome. Look how pissed she is:



At least the collapse of health care reform will fall on Obama this time. I wonder how Hillary feels about that? I think she feels deeply gratified. I think she feels like running for President. In 2012? Is there a path? When she's sitting there in her tight blue pantsuit, panting in the heat of the Congo, where it seems somebody wants only to know what her husband — her infuriatingly charismatic husband — thinks, she's all prickly and ready to snap — quite aptly! — the gears are turning in that head — that don't-tell-me-I'm-ill-coifed head — and she's trying to figure out the way to oust Obama from her rightful place, the presidency.

Let's see: 1. Health care reform collapses, 2. Obama takes the blame for that and other things, 3. His popularity plumments, 4. Some G.O.P. star rises, 5. The Democrats get desperate for a new star of their own, and 6. That star is me! First woman President! Hello! But wait! Here I am in Africa, encouraging female farmers and consoling rape victims. I'm being marginalized, marginalized as a woman — with women. It's so unfair. My plan requires a major achievement or 2 before I resign and mount my new campaign. But I'm penned in and subordinated in Africa — Obama's homeland (in his dreams) — where major achievements are not possible and I'm looking like a First Lady — a used-up First Lady from the past.

August 13, 2009

At the Sunset Tavern...

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... you can talk all night.

(Photos taken tonight, on Lake Mendota.)

Senators decide not to kill your grandma...

... since you noticed.

***

Sarah "Death Panels" Palin vindicated.

Posing in Pagosa.

A self-portrait:

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My adorable husband:

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A sister poses for her sister:

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The scene, without posers:

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Enlarge that last pic.

When you're driving along Route 160, in southern Colorado, do not miss the spectacular overlook at Wolf Creek Pass.

"A lot of people aren't happy about the outcome of their cases but this is totally new."

Shit happens. In the Bronx.

It's so "cute... really sweet" when Obama gets the facts all wrong.

So says Billie Jean King... who's sporting a cute, sweet Sarah Palin look these days. See:

"Or is the Ralph Kramden Barack Obama’s fault?"

Guy Trebay has a question... about potbellies.
Hipsters, by nature contrarian, according to Dan Peres, the editor of Details, may be reacting in opposition to a president who is not only, as the press relentlessly reminds us, So Darn Smart, but also hits the gym every morning, has a conspicuously flat belly and, when not rescuing the economy or sparring with Kim Jong-il, shoots hoops.

“If we had a slob in the White House, all the hipsters would turn into some walking Chippendales calendar,” Mr. Peres said. Instead, the streets of Williamsburg are crowded with men who are, as he noted, “proudly rocking a gut.”...

“I sort of think the six-pack abs obsession got so prissy it stopped being masculine,” is how Aaron Hicklin, the editor of Out, explains the emergence of the Ralph Kramden. What once seemed young and hot, for gay and straight men alike, now seems passé. Like manscaping, spray-on tans and other metrosexual affectations, having a belly one can bounce quarters off suggests that you may have too much time on your hands.
Why does there need to be any special reason for a man to have a potbelly? It's the natural tendency. You only need a reason not to have a potbelly, and it needs to be good enough to offset the natural tendency. The fact is, it is more important for a man to fight the natural rounding of the belly than it is for a woman, because a round belly is feminizing. It speaks of fertility and pregnancy. The "pregnant man" has never been a good look.

***

And quit wearing shorts!

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Obama's deal with Big Pharma.

HuffPo got the memo.
PhRMA senior vice president Ken Johnson said that the outline "is simply not accurate." "This memo isn't accurate and does not reflect the agreement with the drug companies," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.

"[Dick Cheney] said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took."

"The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice. He'd showed an independence that Cheney didn't see coming. It was clear that Cheney's doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times — never apologize, never explain — and Bush moved toward the conciliatory."

The burqini.

Banned in France. It's unsanitary. Is it really just religious discrimination in disguise? Keep in mind that in France, a man is not only forbidden to wear cutoffs in a public pool — which is generally the rule in America, of course — he is required to wear a Speedo-type bathing suit.

But — as you can see at the second link — Speedos are banned at a British water park.

Cash for Clunkers.

Clunk.

"THE THEATER IS ALIVE!!1!!!!!!1!!!"

The wonderful Bissage comments on the old post titled "'My Dinner with Andre,' my favorite movie, is now available as a Criterion Collection DVD":
Mrs. Bissage and I watched the Criterion release last night. We were both spellbound.

Unfortunately, houseguests arrived just as Andre started his grand surrebuttal. Crap!

Oh well. We agreed this morning we’ll watch it again later this week.

One remark, on the merits, I will hazard to make. As I’m sure you are sick of hearing, Professor, I was involved (half-assedly) in the theater back in the late-seventies/early-eighties. Well, what of it? The thing is, I watched the movie and I was astounded by how much the dialogue reminded me of actual conversations from back in the day.

“Authenticity” is not the be-all and end-all, of course, but that movie is absolutely brimming with theater-culture authenticity, at least according to my experience.

Yep. We really used to wear blindfolds and sit in a circle and listen to each other breathe and stuff like that.

THE THEATER IS ALIVE!!1!!!!!!1!!!

Ha!
And, once again, here's the link to buy the DVD.

"Please stop spreading disinformation! We do not chop off people’s tonsils and feet. Or, rather, we don’t chop off only tonsils and feet."

"Or, rather, we don’t chop off only tonsils and feet. We chop off lots of other stuff, too."

"How come every time alpacas feel like the energy is low at work they have to do the worm from Labyrinth?"

Alpaca:



The worm from "Labyrith":



"Listen, Alapaca, obscure references to 80s cult movies are no excuse for your fuzzy hair, your bushy tail, your fucking face. And why are you always smiling? Are you purposefully trying to make me love you?... [S]top pretending you don't have legs and get back to work." — Link.

Les Paul, "Wizard of Wah-KESH-ah, Wisconsin..."



That's WAH-ki-shah — Waukesha — Wisconsin.

And goodbye to the great, great guitarist, Les Paul, who lived a long time and died yesterday, at the age of 94.
He played guitar with leading prewar jazz and pop musicians from Louis Armstrong to Bing Crosby. In the 1930s he began experimenting with guitar amplification, and by 1941 he had built what was probably the first solid-body electric guitar, although there are other claimants. With his electric guitar and the vocals of his wife, Mary Ford, he used overdubbing, multitrack recording and new electronic effects to create a string of hits in the 1950s....

“Honestly, I never strove to be an Edison... The only reason I invented these things was because I didn’t have them and neither did anyone else. I had no choice, really.”
AND: Here's an episode their 5-minute TV show from 1953:



Topics for discussion:

1. The racial politics of the song choice — "Alabamy Bound" and "Darktown Strutters Ball" — by 2 absurdly domestic white people.

2. The sexual politics of that husband-and-wife scene.

3. The sexual things that crossed your mind when you heard the line — in the commercial — "Sometimes it takes more than that to thaw out a husband."

Do you think we can drive straight through from Denver to Madison?

If you don't start until 1 p.m.... which is 2 p.m. in Madison?

It's about 1000 miles. Oh, how can we stop at some motel in Nebraska or Iowa when we've got 2 drivers and we can take turns snoozing in the passenger seat? Even with the vision-blurring lightning storm between Des Moines and Dubuque, we're going to keep going. Crossing the Mississippi, we're almost home. It's familiar territory. Familiar names — Mineral Point, Mount Horeb, Verona — make the final hour serene. Add to that the dawn...

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... and we rolled into town at 6 a.m. — a good time for a long nap, in our own bed, in our own house, for the first time as husband and wife.

August 12, 2009

"Obama's aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts..."

"... makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land.... I just don't get it. Why the insane rush to pass a bill, any bill, in three weeks? And why such an abject failure by the Obama administration to present the issues to the public in a rational, detailed, informational way? The U.S. is gigantic; many of our states are bigger than whole European nations. The bureaucracy required to institute and manage a nationalized health system here would be Byzantine beyond belief and would vampirically absorb whatever savings Obama thinks could be made."

Camille Paglia rages.

AND: She approves of Sarah Palin's use of the term "death panels":
As a libertarian and refugee from the authoritarian Roman Catholic church of my youth, I simply do not understand the drift of my party toward a soulless collectivism. This is in fact what Sarah Palin hit on in her shocking image of a "death panel" under Obamacare that would make irrevocable decisions about the disabled and elderly. When I first saw that phrase, headlined on the Drudge Report, I burst out laughing. It seemed so over the top! But on reflection, I realized that Palin's shrewdly timed metaphor spoke directly to the electorate's unease with the prospect of shadowy, unelected government figures controlling our lives. A death panel not only has the power of life and death but is itself a symptom of a Kafkaesque brave new world where authority has become remote, arbitrary and spectral. And as in the Spanish Inquisition, dissidence is heresy, persecuted and punished.

It's all downhill from here.



The alpine slide on Purgatory Mountain at the Durango Mountain Resort. Look closely to see what happens when I ignore the "slow" sign.

August 11, 2009

Hummingbirds are jerks.

Somebody wanted to see hummingbirds. Was it Chip? Meade seems to think it was Chip. So here they are, and let me tell you, they are little bastards. They are tiny — for birds — but if they were bees, they'd be huge and horrible. Watch this video and you'll see, a hummingbird cares only for itself. If you could read their thoughts, translated into English, it would be: "Get the fuck out of my way. This is mine, all mine."

"Recently inspired by the great Althouse, I resolved to do more with this blog."

"And I found myself wanting to see if I could post a photograph I took all by my little old self...."

Kathy Griffin interviews Levi Johnston.

I'm presenting this here because I love great conversation.

Sorry about the re-introduction of word verification.

It's not about you. It's about the bots.

Was Hillary jetlagged? That's a hell of an excuse for the lady who purveyed the 3 a.m. ad!

The "Today Show" dialogue:
MEREDITH VIERA: This was definitely an uncharacteristic response by the Secretary of State, leading some to suggest that either she is jetlagged or jealous of her husband and the huge shadow that he casts, most notably last week in North Korea, where he negotiated the release of those two American journalists. What are insiders saying about this this morning?

ANDREA MITCHELL: Insiders would tell you probably a little of both. A lot of jetlag, clearly. By then she was at the half point in a twelve-day trip, seven countries. Very difficult travel. She had done twenty-two speeches and five interviews and she was exhausted—and and clearly, some would say, having a bad hair day. So not an easy day for Hillary Clinton.
Here's the old 3 a.m. ad, which was supposed to make us think Barack Obama would screw up when he was sleepy or something:



Obama seems tired/testy at times, but there's no video of him acting anywhere near as out of it as Hillary when she snapped in the Congo:



ADDED: Looking at the "Hillary snaps" clip one more time, I'm thinking if only she had smiled when she said that, it would have been if not just fine, kind of all right. She's teaching a feminist lesson — actually, an important one — and those things require a decent amount of lubrication.

"We often have a bear come through. And coyote. Bobcats, too, on a regular basis."

"They come up to the front door [of the federal courthouse in Yosemite National Park]. But we don’t let them in."

"Productivity surged in the spring by the largest amount in almost six years while labor costs plunged at the fastest pace in nine years."

Good news, but doesn't it convey a hard truth? People are spurred on by the threat of pain. If you have a job in the time of layoffs, you work harder.

"She understood deeply the lesson our mother and father taught us -- much is expected of those to whom much has been given."

"Throughout her extraordinary life, she touched the lives of millions, and for Eunice that was never enough."

So said Teddy Kennedy about his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, dead at the age of 88.
In the competitive household of her youth, she established herself as the most intellectually gifted of the sisters in a family where the patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., decided that his sons were the ones bound for politics.

Within the constraints of her era, gender, and social strata, she was the most ambitious, too, becoming an international leader more than a half century ago in the burgeoning movement to wrest mental retardation from the shadows of hushed conversations.

A younger sister of Rosemary Kennedy, who was developmentally disabled and institutionalized most of her life, Mrs. Shriver dedicated decades to ensuring that other families would not endure the fate of her own, watching a loved one whisked behind closed doors. In an attempt to alleviate Rosemary’s intellectual disabilities, doctors performed a lobotomy that instead left her in need of constant care.
Here are 2 pictures of the great lady — young and old:

"So many were so invested in the notion that by thinking peaceful thoughts they could will into existence a state of peaceful affairs..."

"... that they ignored the evidence right in front of them, which tended to suggest that cougars were quite happy to eat anything that was juicy, delicious, and unlikely to fight back."

From an old book review I googled up after yesterday's encounter with a mountain lion on Hermosa Creek Trail. In the comments on my post about the incident, Michael McNeil said:
While actually encountering a mountain lion on a trail might certainly be expected to inspire concern, it is not sensible to be overly worried that “he was going to pounce on me.”

Folks might like to peruse this page from the California Department of Fish and Game listing all verified mountain lion attacks in the state over the last almost 120 years — this in a state of (now) more than 35 million people, millions of whom live in relatively remote suburbs where tens of thousands of mountain lions roam in close proximity.

Notice the number: a grand total of 16, only six of which were fatal, while two of those were due to rabies.

Clearly, it takes a mountain lion that is extremely seriously deranged by their standards — such as sick with rabies (which obviously not very many are) — not just hungry or even starving — for it to attack a human. Thus, there's no reason for inordinate concern even if one does see a lion.

Glenn Reynolds posts every now and then about mountain lions, and while they're obviously capable of harming people, he talks as if in fact they're an extremely dangerous threat that should be exterminated from all human-occupied areas (i.e., nearly everywhere these days). Given the foregoing statistics, that's plain nuts.

Note that I live in a neighborhood in California where a lion was seen just a month or two ago, so I'm not just blithely talking from some locale remote from the “danger.” Personally I find those statistics quite reassuring, as should we all.
I searched the Instapundit archive for "mountain lion" and think Glenn is talking not about extermination but self-defense, the reduction of numbers through hunting, and preserving the animals' fear of people (which is presumably the reason why, in the past, there have been so few attacks). Glenn is also interested in something I'm fascinated by: human sentimentality about animals. And then there is the more general human problem of the way sentimentality interferes with the perception of danger:
One need only look at the treatment of such other topics as crime, terrorism, and warfare to see examples of the same sort of misplaced sentimentality and willful ignorance. Tolerance of criminality leads to more crime; tolerance of terrorism leads to more terrorism; efforts to appear defenseless lead to war....

The effort to remake the world so that it is safe for predators seems rather odd to me. What sort of person would rather be prey? The sort who lives in upscale neighborhoods, and campaigns against hunting, apparently. I suspect that over the long term this isn't a viable evolutionary strategy in a world where predators abound.
The challenge is to get into the zone of clear thinking. We need to be alert but not paranoid. Our ancestors survived — and we therefore exist — because they noticed things and acted. Maybe they overdid it and stamped out various animals and human beings who triggered their innate edginess. The mellowest humans lost out in the evolutionary struggle, and we have inherited a tendency to overreact to things that feel dangerous, like a big cat slipping across the trail 150 feet away. But we have the capacity to gather accurate information and to think about exactly how dangerous a cat at that distance is. We also have the ability to think about whether our love for beautiful animals means we can welcome them in our yard or our house. We have instincts and we have big brains, and we need to use them.

On Purgatory.

The view from the mountain:

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Our picnic:

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August 10, 2009

"Wait. You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?"

A revealing look at Hillary Clinton:



Don't get on her bad side!

Shepard Fairey — who made the famous Obama "Hope" poster — thinks the Joker Obama poster is "great."

"The artwork is great in that it gets a point across really quickly. The Joker is a sinister, evil character that can't be trusted. And if they want to make that parallel with Obama — bam."

Somehow the L.A. Times sees fit to headline the article "Shepard Fairey has 'doubts' about intelligence of Obama Joker artist." The intelligence doubt is actually a "grammar" point, that the caption should be "socialist," not "socialism," because it's a picture of a man, not his belief system. Hmmm... but Mr. Fairey, your poster of Obama has the word "Hope" as the caption. If it's an error, you made it too. If it's a sign of low intelligence, why should I listen to you, a man of low intelligence?

Today, hiking on the Hermosa Creek Trail, we saw a mountain lion.

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I didn't get a photograph.

AND: Meade got a picture of me...

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... standing at approximately the same distance ahead as the creature that slipped across that path.

Mickey Kaus thinks Obama is "not cynical enough... doesn't know enough... [and is] too much like Bush."

The quotes are Jac's paraphrase of Mickey. And, also per Jac, Kaus makes "a soul-baring confession."

Why aren't we hearing more from doctors about why we need the proposed health care reform?

Asks David Kurtz at TPM:
So where are the family practice docs, the public health docs, the rural practitioners, those who staff the inner city clinics? I'm not suggesting they're purposely sitting on the sidelines, but they do seem to have been sidelined in this debate. Can we hear more from them? Have I just missed it?
Yeah, and where are all the horror stories about people suffering and dying because of the current healthcare setup? You'd think there'd be all sorts of compelling anecdotes offered up to sway public opinion about the need for a big change. Quite aside from whether the proposed changes would solve the problems, I do think we should have been shown a vivid picture of the need for change.

What is the meaning of the absence of a vivid picture? I can only think of 3 answers: 1. The problem isn't there, 2. the Democrats are woefully inadequate politicians, and 3. some combination of #1 and #2.

"Everyone seems to ignore that Pelosi started this, saying town hall participants were showing up with swastikas, etc."

"That's calling them Nazis, as Dick Durbin referred to our Gitmo interrogators from the Senate floor. I've been listening to the left compare George W. Bush to Hitler for eight years. I've been listening to Democrats and the left compare conservatism to Nazis my whole career. This time I responded. In kind, by comparing the radical left policies of the Nazis to today's radical left leadership of the Democrat Party. I'm not surprised they don't like it."

"How many people do you bring in before the Afghans say, 'You're acting like the Russians'?"

"That's the big debate going on in the headquarters right now."

UPDATE: Did all the nuance make it into the WSJ article?

Let's talk about that "breastfeeding doll."

Lisa Belkin writes about "Bebe Gloton," the doll that makes a sucky noise and mouth movement when placed next to plastic flower-shapes that are positioned at nipple level on a shirt to be worn by a little girl (or — I might add — boy):
Dr. Ronald Cohen, medical director for the Mother’s Milk Bank in San Jose as well as director of the intermediate intensive care nursery at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, told ABC News, “My take is that anything which reminds young girls that their bodies are something other, and more, than sex objects, is a very good thing.” In the next sentence he added: “On the other hand, encouraging young girls to want to have babies at a very young age may not be so great.”
Don't all baby dolls do that?!

Here's video showing the doll — and The Today Show's Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford — in action:



I think it's pretty tame, actually. In any case, little girls (and boys!) who see their mothers breastfeeding younger siblings are likely to put their dolls up to their nipples and pretend to breastfeed. You don't need the additional technology to get that effect. My main objection to the doll is that it is annoying. I'd try not to buy kids toys that make irritating sounds. Leave more to the imagination.

And speaking of annoying sounds... Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford... yeesh!

A 19-year-old guy throws his pit bull off a 6-story building, and the dog survives.

What should happen to the man (Fabian Henderson) and what should happen to the dog? The dog has "multiple fractures in her front legs as well as ligament damage, bruised lungs, a fractured rib, liver injury and internal bleeding." Treating the dog's injuries will require extensive surgery, reconstruction of both front legs with plates and screws, long hospitalization, and uncertainty as to whether it will ever be suitable for adoption.

I'd like to discuss this seriously, as the poll below indicates. That is, I have left out "man gets euthanized" options in the poll. But feel free to say what you want in the comments.

What should happen to the man and what should happen to the dog?
Man gets harsh criminal penalty and dog gets much medical treatment.
Man gets harsh criminal penalty and dog is euthanized.
Man gets minimal penalty and dog gets much medical treatment.
Man gets minimal penalty and dog is euthanized.
Man gets mental health treatment and dog is euthanized.
Man gets mental health treatment and dog gets much medical treatment.
pollcode.com free polls

"[I]is striking to come back — from the world of controlled media and not-always-accurate 'official truth' in China..."

"... and see the world's most mature democracy, informed by the world's dominant media system, at a time of perceived economic crisis and under brand new political leadership, getting tied up by manufactured misinformation. No matter what party you belong to, you can't think this is a sign of health for the Republic."

With a chilling reference to state-controlled media in China, James Fallows bemoans free speech.

August 9, 2009

The news from Ouray: An old woman was (perhaps) eaten by a bear.

"It was still unknown Saturday whether a bear killed [Donna] Munson or whether one or more animals consumed part of her body after her death. But people who knew her said she was an eccentric wildlife lover who had been feeding bears, elk, skunks and raccoons for years. Munson [had said] that 'when the time came, she wanted to go out with the bears.'... The night before her death, Munson planned to feed an injured baby bear hard-boiled eggs and yogurt.... And she had planned to swat a large bear that was bothering the baby bear with a broom...."

Put down that broom, large bear!

That was my grammar snark. My real commentary is: It sounds like a bad way to go, but Munson seemed to know what she was doing. It almost seems as though it's appropriate to say something I generally disapprove of: She died doing what she loved.

Some people just get carried away with animal love. Go to the link to read about her (now-deceased) husband, "Ridgway Jack," who made their home an "animal sanctuary" and let a fawn sleep in their bed. And read about her former tenant Tammy York, who said that Munson put wire fencing around the porch after York and her 2 children — a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old — moved in:
The bears would come within 6 feet of the porch and peer in the windows.

"We were in the zoo," she recalled, saying she moved out after about a year because the animals — especially the skunks — "got to be too much." While she lived there, a bear busted York's car window and left bite marks in her seat trying to get some leftover french fries.
Okay. Munson was completely eccentric and foolish, but let's think about York, who had 2 little children and took a year to figure out that she needed to move away. Well, face it: a lot of people are out of their minds when it comes to thinking about animals.

***

Munson was eaten in Ouray on Friday. Meade and I were in Ouray Tuesday through Thursday. It's a beautiful place. Here are 2 more photographs:

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"Bird-chasing guards rip palace painting with bamboo sticks."

"In their attempts to apprehend the flying fugitive, the guards ripped a hole in Fredric Westin's 1838 portrait of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who reigned as King Karl XIV of Sweden February 5, 1818 until his death on March 8, 1844."

Meade's favorite house in Ouray, Colorado.

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ADDED: Chip embellishes:

The Beaumont Hotel.

We loved this place in Ouray, Colorado:

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"This week, on a verdant Colorado mountain, she and commenter Meade exchanged rings and permalinked."

BloggingheadsTV has a "This Just In" in the upper right-hand sidebar:
Ann Althouse embraced, even relished, her singlehood. So it was all the more stunning when, earlier this year, the blogger and provocateur announced that she'd gotten engaged to one of her commenters. She told the remarkable story to the New York Times as well as here on BhTV. This week, on a verdant Colorado mountain, she and commenter Meade exchanged rings and permalinked. Congrats from your friends at Bloggingheads, Ann!
"Permalinked." LOL. And thanks to BhTV and to all the commenters here who have congratulated me (and Meade).

ADDED: The link at "relished" goes to a BhTV that I did with Bella DePaulo a year ago. Here's the corresponding post on my blog. There's some fascinating participation from Meade in the comments. First he quotes something I say in the diavlog: "...I've often thought I should just charitably marry someone... I'd just marry them to be nice...." He says, at 4:57 PM, the day the post went up:
Gee, I'm single now, happily single, and thought I'd just remain that way.

But considering all the benefits, I guess I'd really be a fool not to take a close look if Althouse were to, just out of niceness, propose to pity-marry me.

What could I offer in return? Let's see - I could prune those redbuds, take out the garbage, trap squirrels.
I don't respond. The next morning, at 7:54 AM, he continues:
I could fetch her newspaper, scrape snow and ice off her car, shovel the front walk. Draw her bath. Pick her up at the airport. Rinse and dry her wine glasses. Form a circle-of -safety to protect her from Hillary Clinton-type madwomen who randomly come up to innocent people on urban sidewalks and punch them in the back. I make excellent salads, grill superb steaks and vegetables. Play a piano sonata. Pick up dry cleaning. Wait patiently while she shops for shoes.
The next post is from me, but later in the afternoon, and it's totally unresponsive to his comments:
I have very valuable benefits that I'm not using because I'm unmarried. Maybe I should go for a cash transaction.
Meade speaks one more time:
Forget the services. I have cash — very very valuable cash.

So what are the benefits and just how much valuable cash do you suppose they're worth?
Even with the direct question, there is no response from me. In fact, the whole thread dies right there. Actually, there is one more comment — it's a mean swipe at Bella. Now, imagine if instead of that mean swipe at Bella, somebody had written: You know the weird thing is that in 1 year she actually will marry him. It would have been a hilarious comment!