November 7, 2009

Surrealistic willow.



ADDED: Explained, in video:


Working the combat-stress-without-the-combat theme.

The NYT loves its theory of the Fort Hood attack.

The chart...

... plain and horrifying:

Barney Frank "wouldn't recognize most plants."

He's "not a great outdoorsman."

"The tax man's taken all my dough..."

"Is Barack Obama’s cool style of governing fundamentally incompatible with the furnace of modern politics?"

Jennifer Rubin scoffs at Marc Ambinder's sycophantic question. (Via Instapundit, who thinks O's coolness is "a law-professor thing." By the way, that hyphen is a law[-]professor thing.)

Rubin says:
[T]he affected “cool” of the president is getting rather creepy as a style of governance.... This was on display in an unfortunate and highly visible way this week. ... [T]he president’s bizarrely inappropriate remarks after learning of the Foot Hood massacre left one puzzled, if not downright troubled. He not only didn’t seem to grasp the gravity of the situation; he didn’t seem emotionally connected to the appalling events.
That point would be stronger if Rubin hadn't called it "Foot" Hood. Anyway, yes, the President was in automaton mode, which I don't think is particularly law-professorly. What lawprofs do is ask a lot of questions to try to get you to think and to articulate your thoughts. And we don't intone the questions robotically. We tend to get pretty excited. But getting excited or remaining dispassionate is not the main thing. The main thing is to ask the questions. I don't see Obama doing that. I see him standing back and avoiding taking positions on things. I see him hoping that his mere existence is enough. He needs to get over that confidence.

By the way, "cool" is not the right word. The right word is "phlegmatic."

Now, let's give Ambinder the attention he deserves:
Bipartisan conclaves, bringing industry to the table(s), relative transparency, accommodation and consensus meetings are all ornaments of the Obama brand. But political parties, built around existing alignments of interests, tend to get excited about fighting. Base-tending is crucial to political husbandry. Obama has a gourmand's disdain for populism and picking fights.
What the hell is "a gourmand's disdain"? A gourmand is someone who loves to eat and drink. Did Ambinder trip over a thesaurus this morning? "Husbandry" isn't quite the right word either. (It's "a judicious use of resources.")
This is, in some ways, a presidential sickness (or salutation, depending on your point of view.)
Salutation? What the hell?! Ambinder did trip over a thesaurus this morning! His utterly silly use of words is a complete distraction.  I think he meant "salubriousness" — which would be correct but  intrusively professorial. Man, I was trying to get away from the topic of professors that Instapundit initiated, but Ambinder is dragging out the professor in me by writing like a bad student. I feel like printing out his post and making red check marks all over it. I don't give a damn about his purported insights into presidential style now.


Speaking of "salubriousness".... once I saw a play where an idiot character burst through a door and announced cheerfully "The weather is very salaboobious today." That cracked me up so bad, I thought they were going to have to usher me out of the theater so I wouldn't distract the actors who had to get on with the rest of their lines.

What are you eating for breakfast?

I'm eating fried mush!

"Brigitte has shown no remorse."

"Sometimes the crime itself warrants punishment."

The Jim Carrey website...

... is pretty cool.

The Large Hadron Collider, shut down by a bit of bread...

... dropped from the beak of a bird.

Oh, it's starting. We think we are so advanced, but it's starting...

November 6, 2009

Microcosmic rock climbing.

"Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail."

Is this what the Democrats mean to inflict on the unsuspecting public that believes it is getting health care? What chaos lies ahead?

This is a post from Althouse.

(Via The Slog.)

Obama should be all over the news today.

Where is he? He should be showing leadership. He's showing empty-suitership.

"I live a good life....a hard one, but I go to sleep peacefully @ night knowing that I may have made a difference in someone's life."

What civilian police Sgt. Kimberly Munley twittered before her "amazing" and "aggressive performance" rushing toward the Fort Hood killer.

Munley, who is 5'4" and weighs 120, shot Nidal Malik Hasan 4 times. She was shot 3 times.

Barack Obama plays peek-a-boo with a child.


The newly discovered Chaplin film. Found on eBay, by a man who paid $5 for what he thought was a nice-looking can.

ABBA, the Chantels, Jimmy Cliff, Genesis, the Hollies, KISS, LL Cool J, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Stooges and Donna Summer.

Such are the nominees this year for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Patrick Goldstein moans:
It's pretty pathetic when you consider that you can vote for the Chantels and Darlene Love, but not for Linda Ronstadt, Steve Miller, Chicago, Rush, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Journey, Dire Straits or Stevie Ray Vaughan, just to name a few of the ineligible worthies... Those of us who are actual voters are asked to choose a maximum of five nominees, using numbers (1-2-3-4-5) to signify our preferences. You can do the same. Here's how I'd make my choices as of now, but I'm open to being swayed by any especially passionate or persuasive arguments:

1) The Stooges....

2) The Red Hot Chili Peppers....

3) Laura Nyro. (Nearly forgotten today, she was a seminal influence on Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash and untold other singer-songwriters.)

4) LL Cool J....

5) KISS....
Laura Nyro, nearly forgotten?! Crazy! Can you surry? Can you picnic? Perhaps you think no one even asks questions like that anymore, but we do.

Anachronistic suck-up movie trailer.

Last night at the movies — we were seeing the fabulous movie "A Serious Man" — they showed a trailer for "Pirate Radio," which was seemingly tailor-made for 60s freaks like me. See if you notice what is crashingly anachronistic:

ADDED: If you watch this featurette about the movie, with some of the same material from the trailer, the difference should pop out.

AND: "A Serious Man" also has a big anachronism problem:
Although the film is plainly set in the summertime, the only reference to the year in which the film is set is a scene in which a calendar can be seen -- it shows the months of June and July 1967. One of the sub-plots in the film involves a representative from the Columbia Record Club calling Gopnik at his office regarding non-payment for record albums that were sent to him. The record club representative attempts to explain to Gopnik how the club works and goes on to mention that the club's current monthly selections are Santana's Abraxas and Cosmo's Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revival. These albums were released, respectively, in September and July 1970.
Link to Wikipedia, which you shouldn't read if you haven't seen the movie. It's full of spoilers.

Hello, Mr. Toilet.

More Pants Pankuru here. Via Metafilter.

Questions about Nidal Hasan... questions about the military....

I'm reading the stories this morning that attempt to give some depth of insight into Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood murderer/psychiatrist. There's this in the Washington Post:
In an interview, his aunt, Noel Hasan of Falls Church, said he had endured name-calling and harassment about his Muslim faith for years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and had sought for several years to be discharged from the military.

"I know what that is like," she said. "Some people can take it, and some cannot. He had listened to all of that, and he wanted out of the military, and they would not let him leave even after he offered to repay" for his medical training....
[Hasan] once said that "Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor" and that the United States shouldn't be fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place, according to an interview with Col. Terry Lee, a co-worker...
Lee told Fox News that Hasan "was hoping that President Obama would pull troops out.... When things weren't going that way, he became more agitated, more frustrated with the conflicts over there. . . . He made his views well known about how he felt about the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan."

And when he talked about fighting "the aggressor," he said that his fellow soldiers "should stand up and help the armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan," Lee said.
How was it that the military trained and employed this man in psychiatry and did not perceive his deep problems? I think that part of psychiatric training involves subjecting the would-be psychiatrist to psychological analysis. Why did this man slip through the system? His job was to treat others, in an environment full of experts in the field of psychiatry. Why did he remain an insider if he was the sort of person who could do what he eventually did? These are serious questions, not adequately answered by the idea that people "snap."

I want to know why what was wrong with Hasan was not detected? Was he given a pass because he was Muslim? Is there a fear of suspecting or offending Muslims in the military that keeps people who should see signs of dysfunction from acknowledging what they see or doing anything about it? On the other hand, if it really is the case that people in the military are harassing Muslims, that too should not be ignored. There should be rigorous equality for Muslims. It shouldn't even be necessary to point out what is obvious: Muslims in the military shouldn't experience special treatment either of a positive or a negative kind.

Let us not, out of sympathy for the victims, shy away from examining the military's failings. This should not have happened, and the sphere of responsibility extends beyond the murderer. This is not an expression of sympathy for Hasan. It is a desire for an effective military.

Here's the way the New York Times deals with the story:
In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, a base spokesman, was asked about reports that Major Hasan had yelled “Allahu Akbar” — an Arabic expression for “God is great” — during the shooting. General Cone said soldiers at the scene had reported “similar” accounts....
General Cone said that terrorism was not being ruled out, but that preliminary evidence did not suggest that the rampage had been an act of terrorism.
So that yelling of "Allahu Akbar," that doesn't suggest terrorism?
The rampage recalled other mass shootings in the United States, including 13 killed at a center for immigrants in upstate New York last April, the deaths of 10 during a gunman’s rampage in Alabama in March and 32 people killed at Virginia Tech in 2007, the deadliest shooting in modern American history.
Not to me, it doesn't. Hasan was a psychiatrist, working among psychiatrists. He was trusted and given access to places that are secured from the general public. And with that access he was able to kill and wound scores of military personnel. It's not like cases where some previously unexamined person bursts into a public place and starts shooting everyone.

There are a lot of questions here, and we need to be brave about asking them.
Mr. Obama called the shootings “a horrific outburst of violence” and urged Americans to pray for those who were killed and wounded.

“It is difficult enough when we lose these men and women in battles overseas,” he said. “It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.”

The president pledged “to get answers to every single question about this horrible incident.”
I'm going to remember that pledge. And it is long past time for the President to step up and commit to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Enough with the demonstrations of thoughtful deliberation and concerned facial expressions made while saluting a flag-draped coffin. It is important for Obama to demonstrate leadership in war today.

November 5, 2009

"A Serious Man."

After finally getting around to watching "Burn After Reading" — the Coen Brothers movie that my sister and I stumbled onto the set of back when I was living in Brooklyn Heights — and having loved it, we decided to take in this year's Coen Brothers movie, "A Serious Man," and we loved that too. Hyperreal closeups of disturbing faces, inane advice intoned as if it were profound, struggles with God and pop culture, the year 1967, Jews, Jews, Jews.... I loved everything about it.

Don't you want some movie to love?

When the movie was over, we went across the street to the sleek new Café Porta Alba, where they cook pizza in 90 seconds in a 900 degree oven. Fun! Earlier in the day, also fun, was a walk in the woods and where we savored the subtle colors of late fall....




"An Army psychiatrist about to be deployed to combat zones overseas killed 11 soldiers and wounded 31 others..."

"... on Thursday afternoon at Fort Hood in Texas, the authorities said. The gunman, who was identified as Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was then killed by police forces.... Carrying two handguns, Mr. Hasan began firing around 1:30 p.m. central time at a deployment center where soldiers received last-minute medical attention and instructions before being shipped out overseas."

So, was Hasan a mental case or a terrorist?

UPDATE: Hasan was not killed. (I'm hearing the live feed from Ft. Hood.)

At the Sugar Shack...


... you can find what you're looking for.

"All the folksy crap you did at Applebee's? Drop it."

2 sentences are said to sum up a 100-point list.

"Hello, Madison!" says Barack Obama. "Good to be back in Madison.... Now, it's great to be back in Madison, great to be back in Wisconsin."

Barack Obama laid down the gigantic carbon footprint that is Air Force 1 to go to a middle school in the midwest to give a speech. Was it worth it? Are kids made more intelligent by the real-life appearance of the President? Surely, some must become more confused. What is the President's job?

I remember one time, back in the 1950s — when I was a Brownie — I was  taught how to make a hat out of artificial flowers and set up to demonstrate this minuscule skill at some sort of vast public exposition. The Governor showed up. "This is Governor Boggs," I was told. For some reason, he was very interested in how to make a crappy lady's hat out of cloth-and-wire flowers. I understood that the man was very important. And I understood that he cared about my hat-making. And that was what you call "Governor." It puzzled me for a long, long time.

So some kids in Madison got to witness the President in person. How edifying was it? He began with introduction and praise for various Democrats — "I want to first of all just say that Jim Doyle is not only one of the finest governors we have in the country, but is also a great friend, a great supporter; his entire family has been wonderful" —which was 100% not useful to kids. He continued:
You know, one year ago, Americans all across this country went to the polls and cast ballots for the future they wanted to see. (Applause.)
Gah. Campaigning.
Election Day was a day of hope...

Facing this reality, my administration had two fundamental obligations. The first was to rescue the economy from imminent collapse... We acted boldly and swiftly...

We've put a tax cut into the pockets of 95 percent of hardworking families. We created or saved over one million jobs...
This is campaign swill. At least it's showing kids what a President does. No flowered hats. No books about fuzzy animals. Just flat-out political speech.
... we've taken steps to unlock our frozen credit markets...
He's not taking any notice that he's talking to children. Here kids, look. This is a President. Wind him up and he talks President. I'm cutting a lot of generic stuff — puffery about his achievements and so forth. At some point, he gets to the topic of education:
The United States, a nation that has always led the way in innovation, is now being outpaced in math and science education. A handful of states have even gone in the wrong direction, lowering their standards at the very moment that they should be raising them. We used to rank number one in the number of college graduates and advanced degrees. That's not the case anymore. Meanwhile, African American and Latino students continue to lag behind their white classmates -- an achievement gap that will ultimately cost us hundreds of billions of dollars because that's our future workforce.
Should you really stand in front of a big group of middle schoolers and brutally inform that that the minority kids are doing worse? What does that sound like to a kid? It's especially harsh since he's expressing concern not for the personal fulfillment of the individual but for the fact that it's costing some amorphous "us" a whole lot of money. Students matter not because they are human beings but because — as a group — they are "our future workforce." They aren't even workers. They are to be merged into a mass called The Workforce.

When I was a teenager, talk like that stirred rebellion in me. I'm trying to imagine how I would feel if I were not doing well in school and I were a member of a group the President stigmatized as lagging. I've got to assume I'd feel more rebellious.
Of course, these problems aren't new. We've heard about them for years....
Everything is new to kids! Why isn't he speaking to the kids?

He's got a big spending plan to tout. Of course, if there is to be federal involvement in education, it will need to draw on the spending power and it will necessarily require throwing out amounts of money that will be sufficient to tempt state and local government away from their independent educational policymaking.
... In the coming weeks, states will be able to compete for what we're calling a Race to the Top award. We're putting over $4 billion on the table -- $4 billion with a "b" -- one of the largest investments that the federal government has ever made in education reform. But we're not just handing it out to states because they want it. We're not just handing it out based on population. It's not just going through the usual political formulas. We're challenging states to compete for it....
The details of how to compete — how to impress federal officials that you've got the right ideas — are far beyond what children can understand. The children are really, therefore, just a backdrop for a speech to the country generally.
Now, before a state is even eligible to compete, they'll have to take an important first step. And this has caused some controversy in some places, but it shouldn't be controversial. Any state that has a so-called firewall law will have to remove them. Now, here's what a firewall law is: It basically says that you can't factor in the performance of students when you're evaluating teachers. That is not a good message in terms of accountability. So we said, if you've got one of those laws, if you want to compete for these grants you got to get rid of that law....
Wisconsin is a state that has that firewall law. We have it because we as a state want it. And we have excellent education here. But who wants to be excluded from a distribution of billions — that's billions with a "b" — of dollars in federal money? If we want to "race" for the money, we've got to tie teachers' salaries to student performance. The hypothetical rebellious student that I would become would be devilishly pleased to know that my refusal to jump through the government's educational hoops would cost my oppressor-teacher money.

There is much more to the speech, and some of the ideas are good. Yes, please support young people who want to become teachers, especially as they take on the work of educating disadvantaged children. There is an amazing section of the speech where he totally violates his daughter's privacy for the greater good:
So Malia came home the other day. She had gotten a 73 on her science test. Now, she's a 6th grader. There was a time a couple years ago when she came home with like an 80-something and she said, "I did pretty well." And I said, "No, no, no. That's" -- I said, "Our goal is" -- "Our goal is 90 percent and up." (Applause.)

Here is the interesting thing. She started internalizing that. So she came and she was depressed, "I got a 73." And I said, "Well, what happened?" "Well, the teacher -- the study guide didn't match up with what was on the test." "So what's your idea here?" "Well, I'm going to start -- I've got to read the whole chapter. I'm going to change how I study, how I approach it." So she came home yesterday, she was -- "I got a 95" -- right? -- so she's high-fiving. (Applause.)

But here's the point. She said -- she said, "I just like having knowledge." That's what she said. And what was happening was she had started wanting it more than us. Now, once you get to that point, our kids are on our [sic] way. But the only way they get to that point is if we're helping them get to that point.
It's hard to see just what it was that made Malia feel that she just liked "having knowledge." Was it the harsh slap of a bad grade? There's a long section of Obama's speech about testing. Is a lot of standardized testing good or bad? He dances all around that point and gathers some applause, but in the end, I think he's saying that we need the standardized tests and we will continue to require them — and hinge teachers' salaries to them. That's not going to end. That's going to be more powerfully incentivized.

And what can possibly inspire the valiant stepping up to the task of being a functioning component of The Workforce the love of knowledge? Is it billions — that's billions with a "b" — of dollars in tax money? Is it a President giving a speech with future components of The Workforce school kids in the background? It's a very great mystery. How does the government manipulate the great mass of young brain? Fortunately, it's a very great mystery.

"Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy, was he?"

Was she?

Is it conical bra time again?

"Throughout the last century, the trend for feminine pointy-shaped bras experienced a renaissance following times of a toughened economy, marking a return of unabashed femininity as women seek to have more fun with fashion as a form of escapism."

Is that the kind of fun we want these days? Do you — if you are a woman — want to strap yourself into one of these architectural marvels? If so, you will inspire not just passion, but joking. From the first link:
'Wow, your boobs walked into the room before you did,' gasps the photographer.
I pop outside to grab a sandwich for lunch and the man serving me seems to have problems focusing on my face, and on my way back to the office a passing builder shouts after me: 'You'll have someone's eye out with them!'
I think you have to have the right sense of humor — that is, a sense of humor about your own breasts — to wear an old-school conical bra. That doesn't mean your sense of humor can't include bitchily blaming people for noticing, of course. The key, it would seem, is that you are having fun. It's escapism, remember. Escapism via rocket.

"I can tell you right now, if we don't pass this bill, I don't care who you are; if you have a D behind your name and this bill has not been passed, you are in tremendous peril next year."

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn sounds the alarm, but perhaps not the alarm he thinks he's sounding. It focuses the minds in the House, but does it incline them to vote for the bill or against it?

"For me, it's always been taking the facts of the case and applying them to the law."

Said former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, in a hearing on his nomination to the federal district court here in the Western District of Wisconsin. He is, in what has become typical confirmation hearing ritual, asserting his faithfulness to the law and attempting to quell charges of judicial activism.

But isn't that quote interesting? In the established liturgy, judges aver that they apply the law to the facts. For example, Sonia Sotomayor said: "The job of a judge is to apply the law... The judge applies the law to the facts before that judge."

Butler, however, said, "For me, it's always been taking the facts of the case and applying them to the law." He said that he would apply the facts to the law. Now, I don't for one minute believe that he meant to flip the ritual phrase around. I think if he were confronted with the point I'm making here, he would immediately switch the words back to the liturgical form used by Sotomayor and countless others:  "The judge applies the law to the facts before that judge."

Think what it would mean to apply the facts to the law. You begin with the factual context of the case. That is the part you know. Then, you must find the law through the use of the facts. Imagine a judge who really believed that the facts determine the law. Read this important interchange from the Sotormayor hearings:
KYL: Let me ask you about what the president said -- and I talked about it in my opening statement -- whether you agree with him. He used two different analogies. He talked once about the 25 miles -- the first 25 miles of a 26-mile marathon. And then he also said, in 95% of the cases, the law will give you the answer, and the last 5 percent legal process will not lead you to the rule of decision. The critical ingredient in those cases is supplied by what is in the judge's heart. Do you agree with him that the law only takes you the first 25 miles of the marathon and that that last mile has to be decided by what's in the judge's heart?

SOTOMAYOR: No, sir. That's -- I don't -- I wouldn't approach the issue of judging in the way the president does. He has to explain what he meant by judging. I can only explain what I think judges should do, which is judges can't rely on what's in their heart. They don't determine the law. Congress makes the laws. The job of a judge is to apply the law. And so it's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases. It's the law. The judge applies the law to the facts before that judge.

KYL: ... [H]ave you ever been in a situation where a lawyer said I don't have any legal argument to me, Judge, please go with your heart on this or your gut?

SOTOMAYOR: Well, I've actually had lawyers say something very similar to that. (LAUGHTER) I've had lawyers where questions have been raised about the legal basis of their argument. I thought one lawyer who put up his hands and said, but it's just not right. (LAUGHTER) But it's just not right is not what judges consider. What judges consider is what the law says.....

KYL: ... Have you always been able to have a legal basis for the decisions that you have rendered and not have to rely upon some extra-legal concept, such as empathy or some other concept other than a legal interpretation or precedent?

SOTOMAYOR: Exactly, sir. We apply law to facts. We don't apply feelings to facts.
Wouldn't a judge applying the facts to the law do what President Obama said he thinks a good judge will do?
I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives — whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.
I.e., apply the facts to the law.

November 4, 2009

How many years in prison for sex with a horse?

3 years... plus a lifetime of humiliation.
''I've been through hell for the last year and it's caused a lot of hardship,'' [Rodell] Kenley told the newspaper. ''There's a lot of ridicule and jokes going around about this thing. And a person can only take so much.''
ADDED: Maguro said:
It's Barbara Kenley - the owner of the horse - speaking, not Rodell Vereen the horse rapist.
You're right. Sorry. I guess there are a lot of victims here.

Finally, Mickey Mouse will be an asshole.

He needed some edge.

Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo. "This is what America's 44th president would look like if he shaved his head, wore a bandanna, favored black T-shirts and sported an earring in his left ear."

The President's half-brother. He's written a book about his life:
[H]e depicts their Kenyan father as an abusive alcoholic who beats David and David's Jewish American mother.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is questioning former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler right now.

Stream the video now. Our colleague Justice Butler is nominated for the federal district court here in the Western District of Wisconsin.

Obama in Madison.

Minute by minute coverage here.

At the Red Leaf Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Clinton wishes he had left White House 'in a coffin.'"

Ridiculous headline. Here's what Bill Clinton said:
"It's good that we have a (term) limit. Otherwise I would have stayed until I was carried away in a coffin. Or defeated in an election... I loved doing the job."

Rush Limbaugh "blew his nose in his napkin."

"He talked about Chopin's Polonaise No. 6, C.S. Lewis and how much he loved the end of the movie 'Love Story.'"

That was some years ago, when he had a 4-hour dinner with Maureen Dowd, who is currently displeased that the radio man called Barack Obama a big narcissist.


Bonus link: Chopin's Polonaise No. 6.

"No, no, no. I can talk. I have a friend. What a ridiculous suggestion!"

Persons with an Asperger's diagnosis don't want to lose it, but it looks like they will.
If [the experts revising the psychiatric diagnostic manual] have their way, Asperger’s syndrome and another mild form of autism, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (P.D.D.-N.O.S. for short), will be folded into a single broad diagnosis, autism spectrum disorder — a category that encompasses autism’s entire range, or spectrum, from high-functioning to profoundly disabling....

The proposed changes to the autism category are part of a bigger overhaul that will largely replace the old “you have it or you don’t” model of mental illness with a more modern view — that psychiatric disorders should be seen as a continuum, with many degrees of severity....
That makes intuitive sense. Does it not also suggest that mental illnesses are not real illness? That is, aren't we all on a continuum, and isn't the question, really, at what point on the continuum do we think you ought to be offered/subjected to treatments — especially, treatments that will be covered by health insurance?

"You know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it. He hits my hair."

2 minutes at the "Saturday Night Fever" dinner table:

We watched the beginning last night. I accidentally clicked and paid $2.99 for this movie that I only meant to look at part of and only if it was free. So we watched about 15 minutes. Great opening. The song, the feet walking down the street, the can of paint, the great interest in shirts, the hair-brushing, the shots peering up from John Travolta's crotch to the awesome expanse of his hairy torso, the Farrah Fawcett poster on the wall, the father eyeing (poor, dead) Farrah's nipple, the pork chops, the entire family hitting each other around the dinner table.... Who can take much more than 15 minutes of such riches? $2.99 well spent!

Wes Anderson's stop-action animation movie.

Ha ha. Stop-action, not computer 3D crap, which I hate. George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray. Roald Dahl. 91% on the Tomatometer. Let's go!

"With all the injuries people get skiing up here, instead of popping pills, they should just be doing this. It's a lot more natural."

Breckenridge, Colorado repeals the local marijuana ordinance.

Same-sex marriage — Maine and Wisconsin.

1. Maine voters rejected same-sex marriage:
The Maine vote was particularly discouraging for gay-rights groups because it took place in New England, the region that has been the most open to same-sex marriage, and because opponents of the repeal had far outspent backers.... 
Throughout the bitter campaign, supporters of same sex marriage had stressed that gay couples deserve equal treatment under the law, banking on Maine’s reputation as a “live and let live” state....
2. The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case that challenges the state constitutional amendment that barred both gay marriage and "legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage." You can listen to the argument at the link. The challenge is based on a state law requirement that a referendum must present a single subject. Were the Wisconsin voters presented with one question or 2? Think about the fact that some voters would reject same-sex marriage but support "substantially similar" legal status.

What do the Election 2009 results mean for Obama (and the congressional Democrats)?

In the WaPo, Dan Balz says:
Neither [the Virginia nor the New Jersey] gubernatorial election amounted to a referendum on the president....
Why not? Read... read... read... read... oh, here it is:
White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Tuesday's races were in no way a reflection of public opinion about the president or his agenda. "Whatever's driving these voters, it wasn't attitudes toward the president," he said, noting that local issues and attitudes toward the candidates on the ballots were the major influences.
Why not? Because David Axelrod says not.
Axelrod warned against extrapolating into the future the shift among independents. He said he believed that many people who called themselves Republicans in the past now call themselves independents but are still voting for Republican candidates. "I don't think they portend long-term trends," he said.

He said the only race with real national implications was the congressional contest in Upstate New York.

To be fair to Balz, he did get a Republican, Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, to agree with the proposition that the 2009 election was not "a referendum on the president." But on the substance of it, Barbour observed that "[t]he president's policies are very unpopular, and they are hurting Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey, New York."

In the NYT, Adam Nagourney says:
The results in the New Jersey and Virginia races underscored the difficulties Mr. Obama is having transforming his historic victory a year ago into either a sustained electoral advantage for Democrats or a commanding ideological position over conservatives in legislative battles....

... Mr. Christie and Mr. McDonnell won after decidedly playing down their conservative views on social issues.....

The critical question after this setback [in NY 23] is whether the conservative groups who had clearly signaled that they intended to press their advantage and challenge other Republican candidates they considered too moderate would now have the impetus or support to continue down that road.
Let's see now.... who to go to for quotes?
“[McDonnell] focused on the issues that are on people’s minds: jobs, taxes,” said Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, the head of the Republican Governors Association. “I don’t think there are a lot of governors who are more conservative than I am. But I try to run campaigns on what people are interested in.”...

[David] Axelrod acknowledged that Mr. Obama’s supporters had not shown up in New Jersey and Virginia, but he said he did not believe that meant the end of the Obama coalition.

“That doesn’t mean they won’t come out for us,” he said. “I think they’ll come out for national races. But this wasn’t a national race.”...
The Wall Street Journal enthuses:
The GOP has been flat on its back since the Obama ascendancy in last year's presidential election, but Republican Bob McDonnell's blowout victory over Democrat Creigh Deeds in the Virginia governor's race and Chris Christie's defeat of Jon Corzine in New Jersey should help dispel the party's gloom.

Yesterday in advance of the results, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was dismissing commentary on the impending bad news as "navel gazing." If so, navel gazing's bad reputation is suddenly looking up. The onrushing Obama Democratic machine has just hit a significant speed bump....

Mr. McDonnell ran straight into the teeth of the blue trend, explicitly campaigning against the policies of the Obama presidency. In at least one swing state that matters, the Obama Democratic ascendancy is on hold....
The overweening liberal-progressive confidence of late suddenly looks misplaced. The party's Blue Dogs have a basis for their misgivings. Republicans, too timid until now, have an opening to find ideas to give obviously anxious voters an alternative to the party in power.
"Mr. McDonnell ran straight into the teeth of the blue trend"
But not straight into the yellow teeth of the blue trend, surely.

After all that, why didn't Doug Hoffman win?

That's the first question of the morning. I think it must be resolved before we can move on to the big question: What do the Election 2009 results mean for Obama (and the congressional Democrats)?

Here's something mrs whatsit wrote in the comments to last night's election post. (I found the photos to illustrate her painful observations about the appearance of the 2 men, and I corrected her misspelling of "Scozzafava.")
A few points about the Congressional race from someone who lives in upstate NY (not in district 23, but nearby.)

1) We have been inundated with TV commercials here. On TV, Hoffman comes across as exceedingly weird, skinny and overeager with googly eyes, bright yellow teeth, and an odd, halting way of speaking.

He kept repeating a slogan that he was a common-sense Reagan conservative and common sense isn't so common any more. It got annoying.

Owens, by contrast, is big and rugged-looking. He's an Air Force veteran and he has that military solidity, calm and self-possession.

He seems like a country guy, and this is a rural district. He presented himself as a centrist. On the human level, Owens is the kind of person voters around here feel comfortable with. Hoffman's not. Neither was Scozzafava.

2) On the numbers -- as of this morning, with 93 percent of the vote counted, the math-challenged local newspaper is reporting that the split is 46 percent Hoffman, 49 percent Owens, and 6 percent Scozzafava, who was still on the ballot, not having quit until Saturday. (Adds up to 101 percent, but who's counting?) In any event, Scozzafava's vote is bigger than the split, which seems to put most attempts to diagnose the Owens/Hoffman outcome into guesswork territory.

Owens came across as to the right of Ms. Scozzafava, whose ads emphasized her support for such lefty favorites as card check. Hoffman, by contrast, seemed to belong pretty far over on the right. Upstate NY has traditionally been rock-ribbed Republican but has been trending Democratic recently, with the result that Blue Dog Democrats and other center-tending politicos have been doing well. I don't think the Owens win has as much to do with the candidates' political parties, though, as it does with who they are personally and with their ad presentations.

November 3, 2009

"[H]alting a decade of Democratic advances in the critical swing state..."

"... Virginians elected Republican Robert F. McDonnell the Commonwealth's 71st governor Tuesday...."

"French society, and especially Parisian, is gluttonous. Every five years or so, it needs to stuff something new in its mouth."

"And so five years ago it was structuralism, and now it is something else. I practically don't dare use the word 'structuralist' anymore, since it has been so badly deformed. I am certainly not the father of structuralism."

Said Claude Lévi-Strauss, asked, in the 1980s, about post-structuralists like Foucault, Derrida, and Barthes.
But Mr. Lévi-Strauss’s version of structuralism may end up surviving post-structuralism... "Mythologiques" ... ends by suggesting that the logic of mythology is so powerful that myths almost have a life independent from the peoples who tell them. In his view, they speak through the medium of humanity and become, in turn, the tools with which humanity comes to terms with the world’s greatest mystery: the possibility of not being, the burden of mortality.
"Mortality" is the last word of the obituary written by Edward Rothstein for Claude Lévi-Strauss, who died last Friday, at the age of 100.

Terrorists in their caves...

... and the bears who love them.

It's the Meade + Althouse first quarterversary!

3 months of marriage, and it looks like this:


"He's clearly made a terrible mistake. It was the endorsement of Sarah Palin he was after — not that of Michael Palin."

"I'm surprised that a former U.S. Attorney isn't aware of his copyright infringement when he uses our material without permission."

"This despicable attack on Assemblywoman Scozzafava offends me personally and exemplifies exactly what's wrong with Hoffman and his right wing backers."

Democrat Bill Owens chivalrously defends the erstwhile Republican. The despicable attacker is Rush Limbaugh, who said:
Scozzafava has screwed every RINO in the coun -- we can say that she's guilty of widespread bestiality. She has screwed every RINO in the country. Everyone can see just see how phony and dangerous they are. You know, 2010 might be a nightmare for PETA. Two animals may become extinct; RINOs and Blue Dog Democrats. Pelosi's gonna kill off the Blue Dogs, and the conservatives are gonna finally get rid of RINOs. The American people have had enough.
Audio at the link. I'd embed, but the photo used there (Media Matters) is of the old (fat) Rush, and I don't want to display that here.

So are you shocked at Rush's crude humor, or do you think that's a level of sexual humor that you hear all the time coming from, say, Chris Rock or Bill Maher, and aimed at conservatives? It's a twist that you've got a woman in the masculine role, but that's good feminism. Meanwhile, Owens's defense is retrograde. Not only did Scozzafava withdraw from a tough fight, she sought refuge in the arms of her former opponent, who now absorbs her and enfolds her in protection. That's not progress for feminism. Why doesn't Scozzafava stand up for herself and — as they say — punch back twice as hard?

But, feminism aside, what is Owens really saying "exemplifies exactly what's wrong with Hoffman and his right wing backers"? Is it that they make sex-themed wisecracks? I think he's referring to the fact that real conservatives are actually conservative. They don't like RINOs and they want to discredit them, and they are exulting over Scozzafava's endorsement of the Democrat because it demonstrates clearly that RINOs are not really Republicans. Conservatives want the GOP to be conservative. That's "exactly what is wrong" from the point of view of a Democrat like Owens, because he would have preferred to compete with a liberal Republican. Presumably, he knows it's easier for a Democrat to argue that he is the better liberal than to pit liberal values against conservative values. That is what he admitted, isn't it?

UPDATE: Rush, on his show today:
[W]hat's happened now is that Owens has come out and issued a statement defending Dede Scozzafava against this outrageous personal attack launched by me.  Now, Dede Scozzafava is a liberal woman.  I thought she could take care of herself.  Why do these wimp liberal guys have to come out and start defending these women?  What happened to feminism in this country?  I mean, why did she quit in the first place?  That's not what feminism taught women to do.

Do you hate the dark, cold days that are upon us?

Or do you love the time inside, perhaps because you've got a great man cave?

November 2, 2009

Obama's shocking weight loss.

Drudge raises the alarm. Justified? Are you worried about him? Or are you more like: Tell me your diet tips, Barack? What are the reasons a President would get too thin? Anorexia?! Is his self-image awry? Is he really just working out, working hard, and skipping meals (the proffered explanation)? Or is something terribly wrong?

This is exactly what the Sunday talk shows feel like to me too.

Absolutely perfect.

At the garden ...

... I'm there, sunning on the gravel "beach"...


... under the blue sky ...


... by the deactivated fountain....


... snapping my pictures of you, which I can't display here, so I'll just show what the garden looked like, still pretty, a little bare — except for the kale — on the first day of November.


Sorry, Pasqual's.

Eating in Madison A to Z has posted the review of the Hilldale branch of Pasqual's — which is the place I was talking about and photographing in the September 28th post that was titled "Disorienting dinner."

JM and Nichole give Meade niceness points:
Meade's choice of chicken mole enchiladas was a good bet, with a very dark, chocolatey mole sauce over flavorful chicken. He and Ann ended up trading plates to even out their luck, which was awfully nice of him.
And awfully _________  of Ann.

ADDED: Elsewhere, Bart demolished a mountain of fajitas.

The Cuomo connection.

Why Scozzafava endorsed Owens.

46% of people in the 18 to 49 age group do not skip the commercials when they watch network TV using a DVR.


It's believed that people are just passive. Or they just forget. That makes me sad and happy. Sad, because I don't want people to be dumb. Happy, because the commercials support the shows that I like to watch too, and I'm skipping the commercials. If everyone did that, what would happen?

(Actually, I will occasionally stop and watch a commercial that — in the speed-by — looks very interesting graphically like that current commercial for whatever-the-hell that has floating jellyfish balloons and the like.)

Rush Limbaugh says Obama is a "man-child" and Sarah Palin is ready to be President.

Video and transcript here. I'll just do 2 excerpts for you:
WALLACE: You have now taken to calling Mr. Obama "the man-child president."

RUSH: Right.

WALLACE: What does that mean?

RUSH: Just -- he's (inaudible) he's a child. I think he's -- he's got a -- a five-minute career. He was in the Senate for 150 days. He was a community organizer in Chicago for however number of years. He really has no experience running anything. He's very young. I think he's got an out-of-this-world ego. He's very narcissistic. And he's able to focus all attention on him all the time. That -- that description is simply a way to cut through the noise and say he's immature, inexperienced, in over his head.
WALLACE: Sarah Palin -- you say that you admire her backbone. Do you really think she's ready to be president?

RUSH: Well, yes, I do. See, I am a -- one thing I do not do is follow conventional wisdom, and the conventional wisdom of Sarah Palin is she's not smart enough, she needs to bone up on the issues, she's a little unsophisticated, she -- Alaska, where's that? -- doesn't have the pedigree. I've seen -- she's the only thing that provided any kind of a spark for the Republican Party. This is not an endorsement, but I do have profound respect for Sarah Palin. There are not very many politicians who have been through what she's through -- been put through and still able to smile and be ebullient and upbeat. I mean, this woman, I think, is pretty tough.
Any contradiction detected?

"When the judge gave him standing to sue for custody, I thought, 'What's happening?'"

"'She voided the marriage, she knows he is a woman.' It's ludicrous."

Players in pajamas.

I hadn't watched baseball in quite a few years, but I got married a few months ago and one of the many consequences is that I've been watching a bit of the World Series. I realize a sports game is not a fashion show, but I'm appalled at what these men are wearing. I remember when baseball players wore skin-tight knickers. (I remember that time the Chicago White Sox wore shorts.) And now, I'm seeing men that look like children in their jammies. Yes, I realize that they are probably 6 feet tall or so, but they don't look much like athletes — not like those players of old in their skin-tight knickers. Some combination of tubby body and oversized shirts and slouchy pants changes the proportions and scales the guys down into children. And yes, I can see that many — many! — of these boy-men are wearing — "sporting" — beards. It's all too "My Very First Beard - from Kenner!" It's not helping. I'm sorry! Baseball is just not sexy enough. This was better. And I hate men in shorts. Not fond of the mustache either. Come on, baseball men, raise your game. I know you're still allowed to wear the knickers-and-socks. I root for the players that still wear the knickers. Look like an athlete, could you please? Women might like to watch.

November 1, 2009

At the Drained Lily Pond Tavern...


... it doesn't matter if we see that your beautiful ideas were always potted and propped up on cinderblocks. It's beautiful that way too.

A month ago:


November flowers.



Virgins in the United States.

13.9% of men and 8.9% of women between the ages of 25 to 45 have never had sex.

Via Metafilter, where there are some comments like this....
I watch the people around me find relationships so easily (I know it's *never* easy - but believe me, however difficult it is for you, it's all but insurmountable for me) and I wonder, night after night, month after month, year after year, what I'm doing wrong. it's hard not to wonder whether there's something fundamentally, immutably wrong with *me*. it's hard not to wonder whether sex and romantic love are simply things which aren't *for* me - things which the universe has seen fit to make available to others, but not to me. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's often how it feels.

it's hard not to feel resentful watching others take it all for granted, and to be asked why I don't just [find a girlfriend/get laid/go on some dates], the same way you'd suggest that I make a sandwich if I complain that I'm hungry - like I can just snap my fingers and make those things happen. I don't know *how* to make a sandwich. that may sound ridiculous to you - *everyone* knows how to make a sandwich! but as basic and instinctive as it may seem, there was a specific time, long ago, when someone showed you for the first time *how* to make a sandwich, right? well, I never learned. and now everyone insists that there *isn't* anything to learn; it's just something that people *know* how to do - and so they couldn't teach me even if they wanted to.

I'm not talking about mechanics; I'm actually relatively comfortable with that. I'm not even talking about the complexities of relationships - once I'm *in* one, I do well enough. I'm just talking about everything between here and there. it may be something *you* can just *do*, like making a sandwich. it's a dense jungle full of vipers and quicksand for me.
ADDED: As the commenters at the first link point out, it was a study restricted to unmarried Americans.

Scozzafava endorses the Democrat!

Well, then!

IN THE COMMENTS: Jason says:
[T]his is just plain dishonorable. All the people who endorsed her look bad, so does her party.
Freeman Hunt say:
And I'm with Jason, it's dishonorable. Lots of GOP establishment people went to bat for her, and now they look extremely foolish for having done so.

At the Autumn Salad Café...


... we're serving a large helping of leaves. But don't leave. Stay. Rustle up some conversation.

"The Washington Post reporter says the president wore a cardigan, and you all just believed it?"

Said Marcia:
Look at the picture. It's a crew neck.

Please remember that the MSM can't be trusted to accurately report anything.
Caught! Liberal bias again!

AND: Combining the Halloween costumes of the First Lady and Prez, I am wearing a leopard-skin-print cardigan:

Photo 7 copy

And, tangentially, on the night after we saw Bob Dylan in Chicago, he opened with "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" — my all time favorite Bob Dylan song (which contains my all time favorite Bob Dylan simile).

The most popular Halloween costume of the past few years was nowhere to be seen last night.

What has become of that erstwhile scary character, The Hippie?

"The G.O.P. Stalinists Invade Upstate New York" — Frank Rich makes it all sound so scary.

Or at least the NYT headline makes it sound as though Frank Rich is about to scare us over the Stalinist invasion. But, reading the text, I see: "The right’s embrace of Hoffman is a double-barreled suicide for the G.O.P." Are they killing the poor citizens of upstate New York or are they killing themselves? Get the image straight, Frank. Are liberals supposed to be aghast that conservatives were able to promote a conservative ahead of the Republican Party's liberal candidate? Or should liberals be delighted that the Republican Party is destroying itself from the inside?
The battle for upstate New York confirms just how swiftly the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy Obama. The movement’s undisputed leaders, Palin and Beck... would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross of right-wing ideological purity....
Now, Rich himself sounds pretty wacky and paranoid to me. He tells us that it's "better for Democrats if Hoffman wins." He wants Hoffman to win. Really.
Punch-drunk with this triumph, the right will redouble its support of primary challengers to 2010 G.O.P. candidates they regard as impure....
The more rightists who win G.O.P. primaries, the greater the Democrats’ prospects next year. But the electoral math is less interesting than the pathology of this movement. Its antecedent can be found in the early 1960s, when radical-right hysteria carried some of the same traits we’re seeing now: seething rage, fear of minorities, maniacal contempt for government, and a Freudian tendency to mimic the excesses of political foes....
Punch-drunk... pathology... hysteria... seething... fear... maniacal... Rich's perception of craziness seems... crazy. Hoffman and others are saying that conservatives should stand for traditional conservative values, and not, like Scozzafava, be more like the liberals. Give the electorate a choice between conservative and liberal and see who wins. That strikes me as quite sane. And I am speaking as someone who voted for Barack Obama in part because John McCain was not a solid, coherent conservative. Faced with the need to trust either a (seemingly) thoughtful, intelligent liberal and a confusing partly liberal candidate, I chose the former. I would do the same thing today. But I would like a real choice. Let the G.O.P. be conservative and defend and develop conservatism and see if people want it. I'm not surprised Rich is trying to portray that strategy as insane: He's a hardcore liberal.
These conservatives’ whiny cries of victimization also parrot a tic they once condemned in liberals....
Oh, I've already said what I had to say. I just threw in one more line because "parrot a tic" amuses me.

Don't tick off a parrot. And as for what to do with a tick... we don't parrot it. We do this.

Now, I'm getting far afield, and I'm manufacturing what could be perceived as evidence that we wingers are crazy. So let me, at long last, bring this post in for a landing. With something positive. Because, you know, we right-wing ideologues are an optimistic bunch. I want to compliment Rich — and the NYT — for studding the column with hyperlinks, many of which send us away from the NYT website. For example, when Rich attributes "whiny cries of victimization" to Rush Limbaugh, there is a link to Limbaugh's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Maybe some NYT readers who would never listen to the radio show will pop over there to see how terrible Rush is and find to their amazement that it's completely cogent and impressive. It might even strike a sympathetic chord for some readers. ("My racial views? You mean, my belief in a colorblind society where every individual is treated as a precious human being without regard to his race?")

What will happen when the requirement that people buy health insurance is challenged in court?

There's no chance that it won't be challenged, is there? David Savage digs up a quote from the Clinton era: Requiring people to buy health insurance "would be an unprecedented form of federal action. . . . The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States."

Savage tries to assure us:
Many constitutional-law experts ... predict that even a conservative Supreme Court would uphold a federal requirement that individuals buy health insurance. The justices have said that Congress has wide latitude to regulate economic activity, and health insurance qualifies as that.

Although the mandate to buy insurance may well face a constitutional challenge, "I don't think this is a close call," said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine law school. He said that individuals' refusal to buy insurance could have an effect on the market, and the Supreme Court has said that Congress may regulate actions that affect a market.
That, for you nonlawyers, is a discussion of whether Congress has an enumerated power to support the requirement. The power referred to is given by the Commerce Clause. That says absolutely nothing about whether it might violate the constitutional rights of the individual.
As an example, [Chemerinsky] cited the court's decision four years ago that upheld federal restrictions on home-grown marijuana in California even though two women who used medical marijuana at home argued that they did not intend to buy or sell it.

A 6-3 majority said Congress may "regulate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce," and at least in theory, the home-grown marijuana could have been sold in the illegal drug market.
Yes, and the Supreme Court, after resolving the Commerce Clause question, remanded the case to consider whether there was a substantive due process right to use marijuana when it is medically necessary. That claim of right ultimately failed, but the point is that it's not enough for Congress to have an enumerated power to pass a law. It must also avoid violating individual rights. Savage's quoting of Chemerinsky about the commerce power makes it hard for the average reader to see what is an elementary legal matter — one that liberals ordinarily like to spotlight.

Moreover, the Commerce Clause question is quite a bit more complicated than Dean Chemerinsky makes it sound. The marijuana growers were engaging in an activity — making a product for which there is a big, regulated market. In this new case, we'd have Congress regulating people for their inaction. What other case is like that? Congress can "regulate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce"? Where's the activity? It's inactivity! And Supreme Court cases have limited Congress's power where the activity in question is noncommercial. Isn't the failure to buy insurance noncommercial?
A legal challenge to the healthcare mandate may be several years away. To challenge this requirement in court, a taxpayer would have to face a penalty, and the pending legislation does not phase in the penalties until after 2013.
Now, wait. The economics of the entire restructuring of health care is balanced on this individual mandate. I don't know how well-balanced it is, but the economics are shot to hell without the individual mandate, right? What happens if it turns out that the individual mandate is unconstitutional? Does the whole system go down?

Under Section 255 of the bill ("Severability"):
If any provision of this Act, or any application of such provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of the provisions of this Act and the application of the provision to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected.
In other words, by its own express terms, if part of the Act is struck down, everything else survives. So if we find out, some day, that the individual mandate to buy insurance is unconstitutional, we're still stuck with all the other parts of the plan. Then what happens?

Has anyone promoting this bill even attempted to calculate the economics with the individual mandate excised? Are we going to have the whole lumbering system cranking into operation for years before we find out whether the the individual mandate is unconstitutional? Or is that the scheme? The individual mandate is too big to fail, and the courts will cave.

Open marijuana farming in northern California has "just torn the fabric of our society. It's pitted people against one another."

"Kids stroll much of the year past pungent plants flourishing in gardens and alleys. The red-and-black clad Timberjacks football team moved its halftime huddle on a recent Friday night to avoid the odor of marijuana smoke wafting over the gridiron from nearby houses. Some students talk openly of farming pot after graduation, about the only opportunity in this depressed timber town.... Fall harvest season brings strangers with dreadlocks and cash boxes. Some farmers guard their crops with electric fences, razor wire and snarling dogs. Hikers have been threatened at gunpoint for wandering too close to where they aren't wanted."

Halloween yard display understood the next morning.

Oh, now I get it. It was like this. The dummy in a Favre Vikings jersey was the equivalent of a Frankenstein or mummy.
This is the day that this town, this state, the whole Packers fan base has been either waiting for or dreading, and the mere anticipation of it in Green Bay has spawned celebrations and angst, contests and consternation.

"We've gotten more than 1,700 suggestions about what the city should do" to mark the occasion, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt said. "We asked people for tasteful suggestions, so about 500 of them were eliminated right away."