January 9, 2010

Texas BBQ.



Today, at the Salt Lick, in Driftwood, Texas.

"I didn't care for the look of the chair at all..."

"... but I'd love to get one of those squirrel cameras."

Open air dining and live music on South Congress.



We're having a blast in Austin.

An arctic blast.


No one can call it a cold snap. Everyone feels compelled to say arctic blast.

Harry Reid thought Barack Obama could become President because he was "light-skinned" and had "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Reid is apologizing profusely, now that those quotes appear in a new book. How many other Democrats said more or less the same thing?

Biden famously said, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," and he went on to become Obama's choice for VP.

Can we infer that they were pretty much all saying that?

ADDED: I'm very interested in this "unless he wanted to have one" idea. I'm picturing them trying to figure out whether it might be effective, at least some of the time, to dial up the dialect and just how far would be appropriate. I'm thinking maybe Hillary paid attention...

"She called her spouse a 'hick' in front of other people and derided his parents as rednecks."

"One time, when a friend asked if John had read a certain book, Elizabeth burst out laughing. 'Oh, he doesn’t read books,' she said. 'I’m the one who reads books.'"

Which side wants to keep video of the Prop. 8 trial off YouTube?

The side that favors California's ban on gay marriage.
The trial "has the potential to become a media circus," wrote attorney Charles Cooper. "The record is already replete with evidence showing that any publicizing of support for Prop. 8 has inevitably led to harassment, economic reprisal, threats, and even physical violence. In this atmosphere, witnesses are understandably quite distressed at the prospect of their testimony being broadcast worldwide on YouTube."...

"Those who want to ban gay marriage spent millions of dollars to reach the public with misleading ads, rallies and news conferences during the campaign to pass Prop. 8. We are curious why they now fear the publicity they once craved," said Chad Griffin, Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

"Apparently transparency is their enemy, but the people deserve to know exactly what it is they have to hide."
What wussies!



And give us transparency on the healthcare negotiations too.

At the Papered Wall Café...


... you can plaster your opinions everywhere.

At the By-the-Slice Restaurant...


... you can cut through all the nonsense and tell us what you really think.

"I remember thinking: 'This is how people live? Why am I doing this?'"

"I did find a spot for the couch that made me happy. I was proud of myself. But where the couch is — that’s how I’m going to measure my happiness from now on?"

Suburban angst for today's thirtysomethings.

Why do people fall for the dream of a house? It's a house. You have to live somewhere. Don't let it make you crazy. There are always trade-offs when you decide where to live. Make a decision and man up (or woman up). Ah, but people continue to meld their psyche with the building, and then when the building doesn't make everything beautiful, they have a mental as well as a physical problem.

If the Republican Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate seat, will it stop the health care bill?

No, apparently the Democrats have a plan. They'll either pass the bill before Brown is seated or — in desperation — have the House vote on the Senate version of the bill. No Senate votes on healthcare once Brown arrives — that's the strategy.

But wouldn't that shock the American public? If Brown is elected, a key factor will have been the healthcare bill. As the campaign comes to a rolling boil in the coming week, there will be plenty of talk about how the bill is at stake. If the people of Massachusetts elect Brown, it will and should be read as stark antagonism toward the bill. And Massachusetts antagonism should hurt a lot, since Massachusetts is very liberal, and the Massachusetts opinion is informed by real-world experience with healthcare reform at the state level.

Will the Democrats have the nerve to go through with the plan to exclude Brown? Probably! For one thing, Brown only has his opening because Teddy Kennedy happened to pick an inconvenient time to die. Everyone knows Teddy wanted the bill. Gotta do it for Teddy. For another thing, the Democrats have come so far and risked so much. How can they accept failure now? No matter how much it hurts, they will figure out how to deal with that later. Opponents of the healthcare bill may implore them not to make such a terrible, suicidal mistake, but why listen to advice from your enemies?

If they don't do healthcare now, how will they ever get it together to do healthcare reform again?

ADDED: Neo Neocon says:
But I wonder why the Democrats have seen fit to let out this information now. Even if they are planning such an action, why announce it at this point? Scott Brown hasn’t won, and chances are he won’t. So why let the people of Massachusetts (and the United States) know in what contempt the Democrats hold them? Why make it so clear that the will of the people does not matter, if that will happens to run counter to the plans of those in power?

"Since women cannot bear the hot sun, why would they want to get a job when they can stay safely inside their homes?"

A young woman in Yemen.

At the Heroes Hotel...


... stand guard here for the night.

January 8, 2010

The White House, Washington... White House, Washington... WHITEHOUSE.

What's going on here?

(Photo by Stephen Crowley.)

The commenter EDH noticed this craziness in the photograph on the previous post:
As a photographer, maybe Althouse can explain why the NYT photo editor didn't crop that front-page, above-the-fold photo of Napolitano, but instead shared the frame to included a widescreen video monitor next to her displaying the single word "WHITEHOUSE" while she's standing behind a podium that says "The White House - Washington" and in front of a sign with a picture of the White House that says "White House - Washington"?

Is this supposed to symbolize the new "belt and suspenders" approach in action?
Here's the article the photo appears to illustrate:
Obama Details New Policies in Response to Terror Threat

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Thursday ordered intelligence agencies to take a series of steps to streamline how terrorism threats are pursued and analyzed, saying the government had to respond aggressively to the failures that allowed a Nigerian man to ignite an explosive mixture on a commercial jetliner on Christmas Day.
Obama, eh? Well, he's not in the picture. Is all that "White House" business supposed to equal Obama?
The president also directed the Homeland Security Department to speed the installation of $1 billion in advanced-technology equipment for the screening of passengers, including body scanners at American airports and to work with international airports to see that they upgrade their own equipment to protect passengers on flights headed to the United States.
Janet Napolitano is the head of that Department, of course. Oddly, her name doesn't even come up in the article. What is the NYT doing here? The text seems to hide her inside of the name of the department, and the photograph shunts her to the side, with an unnamed man (Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan) backing her up, and White House signs buffeting her all around.

Compare Drudge's treatment of Napolitano, today (and yesterday):

Ah, poor Janet!


I think the photograph is a not-so-subtle statement:

Janet Napolitano IS the White House.

Obama's game has been to let Obama appear to be "the adult in the room" by correcting and re-correcting Napolitano's repeated stupidity.

The editor here is saying: Hey Obama, we're not THAT stupid. She speaks for you, and we're a little sick of the game of you're playing. Napolitano speaks for you even when she says something stupid. We're not playing along any more.

When even the NYT editors make a point of telling Obama "You can no more disown Napolitano than you can disown your grandmother," you know you're in deep trouble...
Barack Nobamatano.



Breakfast in Austin.

"When informed that a job offer is being revoked or delayed, job candidates should remain calm, express gratitude..."

"... for the support the firm has showed in the past, and ask what they can do to help the firm weather the downturn.... Students could offer to work as law clerks until the economy picks up, and should project a positive attitude about the firm and the legal profession even when, below the surface, they feel panicky and frustrated."

Celebrate Elvis.

If he had lived, he would be 75 today.

Jobs, best to worst, ranked by "environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress."

Actuary is #1, so... shouldn't there be more factors? Like something about how interesting it is... especially to do over the long haul? Is whatever gets categorized as "physical demands and stress" always necessarily bad? Shouldn't there also be deductions for lethargy and ennui?

Last place, #200, is roustabout. Yeah, but Elvis Presley never made a movie called "Actuary!"

Scholars and their scholarly tattoos.

They've got their minds educated and their hearts set on proving education isn't all it's cracked up to be.

One woman explains:
The tattoo is of a Paranthropus boisei specimen, KNM-ER 406. Paranthropus boisei is an early hominin that lived in Eastern Africa about 2.6 - 1.4 MA. I find the derived craniofacial morphology of the species to be very striking and beautiful.

I've gotten some interesting reactions to the tattoo. One person said it was "uhm ... very occupational." Another told me it was "aggressive." Most people are able to recognize it as some type of primate cranium, although I once had someone confuse the cranium with a Koopa Troopa from Mario, the video game!
Then there's the woman who wrote a dissertation titled "'Blood at the Root': Lynching as American Cultural Nucleus" — and wanted some image representing that permanently inked on her body. She writes:
Initially, I wanted to tattoo myself to represent some kind of closure to this research but, by the end of the process, I realized there is no closing, no seam between my intellectual and personal life or between my mind and body. The tattoo concretes intellectual, affective, and ethical commitments.
Initially, I read that as an expression of the desire to wield the needle herself — perhaps to heighten the experience of pain and really understand something about lynching. Then, I realized "tattoo myself" just meant get a tattoo. And "concret[ing] intellectual, affective, and ethical commitments"? Well, isn't that what everyone who gets a tattoo is thinking, more or less?

And one woman got her calves tattooed with the giant letters "READ" (left calf) and "BOOKS" (right calf), which I think stands (literally!) as a warning not to read books (if this is what it leads to).

January 7, 2010

At the Sunset Restaurant...


... Happy Hour has just ended, and we are settling in for a night of... well, maybe football! Horns up!

At the Classic Coffee Shop...


... sip simplicity and traditional values.

ADDED: I'm still here...


Okay, then, tax on, o wise ones.

Just in case you felt some sympathy for the old people who might need to move out of their houses because of high property taxes. Don't bother. They are putting up with it just fine.
"The fact that we're a high property tax state suggests to me that if we're not finding an impact of property taxes on elderly migration, it's likely there's even less of an impact in states that have lower property taxes"....
So says UW econprof Andrew Reschovsky.

More trouble with underpants...

... and Christmas Day violence.

Artie Lange stabs himself 9 times.

Howard Stern comments: "Artie has given this show tremendous moments of great comedy. He's a tremendous contributor. He is a good man. Don't forget how great he is."

That is true, but now we have to see that comedy as part of a whole that includes phenomenal self-hatred and capacity for violence.

ADDED: Maybe Artie, recovering, is reading what people are saying about him. He may arrive here, and so, I want to add that we love you, Artie.

UPDATE: January 8th, he's already out of the hospital.

Innocent kiss? Or kiss of death?

"A videotape of the Newark incident shows the man embracing a woman at the C-1 security checkpoint before she passes through passenger screening.... The man, who was not a passenger, walks past a spot where a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer should have been stationed to move closer to the woman... The woman holds up a rope meant to keep unscreened people out of the secure area so that the man can pass underneath, and they walk hand-in-hand toward the boarding area before disappearing from view...."

The fact that these two individuals kissed and walked hand-in-hand does not and should not wash away suspicion. If it did, terrorists would know how to stage a security breach. Have male and female confederates. The woman passes through security and then lets in the man, who has whatever weapons/bombs on him that may be desired. The two act like lovers, and the TSA workers sit back and think ain't love grand. A few hours later, hundreds of human beings are blown to pieces.

"Montauk Chia."

Whatever the hell that is...


... orgasms are involved, in amongst other incomprehensible nonsense.

Another photo from the New Age bookstore — called Whole Life — that we stumbled into after the movie last night.

ADDED: Chia petting?

"Look for the spear."


Old signage, on Congress Avenue in Austin.

Truckful o' Zen.


"Cat Lovers Against the Bomb."


A calendar, seen at a New Age bookstore here in Austin.

How do you figure a $290,000 fine for speeding?

Do the math!
The man was reportedly caught driving a red Ferrari Testarossa at 137km/h (85mph) through a village.
The penalty was calculated based on the unnamed motorist's wealth - assessed by the court as $22.7m (£14.1m) - and because he was a repeat offender.
And because it was a Ferrari and because it was red.

But seriously, you can't punish very effectively with a fine unless you take the individual into account. This guy shouldn't be able to casually buy his way into having the rules not apply to him, which is what it would be if he paid the speeding fine that would burden lesser folk but is nothing to him.

Now, let's extend this idea. Take a guy who loves solitude and spending time at home reading. Some other guy has lots of companions and loves going out every night and working and playing outdoors. They commit the same felony. Should they get the same prison term?

"When you get married, you’ve got to start scheduling it. We schedule it. It’s, like, once a week."

Said David Arquette, who married Courteney Cox. (What does it do to a man when he marries Cox?)

So... scheduling sex: good idea?

"Ah, the fabled G-spot. It was named in 1981 for the German gynecologist Ernst Grafenberg..."

The nerve of some gynecologists, getting up inside ladies' vaginas and spray painting their name in there.

A question for the heterosexual ladies: Have you wasted any precious intercourse time searching for Grafenberg? And now, the outrage: If that search seemed effective to you, it was only because you were thinking about old Grafenberg instead of the real-life man who took the trouble to consort with you.

"Even a pat-down thorough enough to simulate foreplay, however, won’t protect us completely..."

"... not from a threat that sounds even more absurd than an underwear bomb and that is also more alarming: the butt bomb."

"Arctic air blast."


"Should we be freaking out?"

Conversation overheard in the men's room at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, here in Austin, last night.


Actually, it's 31° here right now, and we're still telling ourselves this is an effective winter getaway, because we were getting away from Madison, Wisconsin. And, no, I didn't go in the men's room. The conversation was quoted to me.

What movie did we see? "The Fantastic Mr. Fox." Good? Yeah, pretty good, especially the first third. It was more interesting meeting the characters and getting involved in the details of their world than seeing their problems worked out in a series of adventures. But I'd probably say that about most any movie. It's not so much a special "Mr. Fox" criticism. And maybe I think that about life too most of the time. I love normal days. I don't need a series of adventures.

Ah, whenever I go on vacation, I get homesick. Back in Madison, it's 16°. Snow. We could go skiing. But we're here, spending the morning in much the same way we would back home. The chairs and table are a little different. The coffee is a little different. The temperature is a little different.


The computer fits nicely. And you're all here to talk to. How are you?

Are you able to deal with The Great Arctic Blast of 2010?

January 6, 2010

At the Paint-Your-Window Café...


... there's a colorful edge.

Are Democrats "dropping like flies"?

Steve Benen questions a simile.

The power to hold detainees without trial.

Upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals:
The appellate judges rejected the claim of Ghaleb Nassar Bihani, a Yemeni native who served as a cook for a Taliban brigade in the fall of 2001, that he deserved to go free because the U.S. war against the Taliban ended when the Islamist forces surrendered in 2002.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown said nothing in the law required the release of military prisoners just because the fighting ended in one sector. The law permits "what common sense tells us must be true: release is only required when the fighting stops," she wrote. Otherwise, "each successful campaign of a long war . . . would trigger an obligation to release Taliban fighters captured in earlier clashes" who could then return to battle.

The judges also rejected the notion that these military prisoners were entitled to the full protections of the criminal law....

"In a detainee case, the judge acts as a neutral decision maker charged with seizing the actual truth of a simple, binary question: Is detention lawful?" she wrote.
The district judge had found that Bihani had fought with the Taliban, the court held, and that is enough to give the U.S. the power to hold him until the long war is over.

Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the man who blew up Pan Am Flight 103, is still alive and freeing him looks more appalling than ever.

The Daily Beast directs our attention toward an airplane bombing that succeeded:
Fifty-seven-year-old terrorist Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi—handed a life sentence after being found guilty in the Dec. 21, 1988 murders of 259 passengers and crew on Pan Am Flight 103, plus another 11 people on the ground—was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer by unnamed Scottish doctors who erroneously predicted he’d be dead by now....
... The bomber was flown from Scotland on a private jet by Gaddafi’s 37-year-old son, Saif al Islam al Gaddafi, who publicly boasted that he’d played a key role in the negotiating Megrahi’s release in exchange for business and trade considerations....

Buzz Bissinger tries to write about Tiger Woods.

The Vanity Fair article has a fascinating Annie Liebowitz cover photograph of Tiger Woods's without a shirt — fascinating because the great athlete looks so different from those Men's Health-type torso models who work their muscles solely for the purpose of getting their muscles to look the way people these days want to see muscles looking and who squeeze out the excess fat so we can get the best look at those muscles. By contrast, Tiger looks slightly porky and squishy. That's not a criticism. That's a suggestion that, knowing the functionality of the torso we're gazing at — and I'm including the sexual functionality — we ought to adjust our taste in male beauty.

But on to Bissenger's silly writing. Here's a sentence — one sentence:
Tiger’s story has been driven by sex, tons of it, in allegedly all different varieties: threesomes in which he greatly enjoyed girl-on-girl, and mild S&M (featuring hair-pulling and spanking); $60,000 pay-for-sex escort dates; a quickie against the side of a car in a church parking lot; a preference for porn stars and nightclub waitresses, virtually all of them with lips almost as thick as their very full breasts; drug-bolstered encounters designed to make him even more of a conquistador (Ambien, of all things); immature sex-text messages (“Send me something naughty ... Go to the bathroom and take [a picture],” “I will wear you out ... When was the last time you got [laid]?”); soulful confessions that he got married only for image and was bored with his wife; regular payments of between $5,000 and $10,000 each month to keep his harem quiet.
Diagram that. The subject and verb are: story and has been driven. Yes, that sets up a list, and you can go very long, quite grammatically, with a list. But it purports to be a list of all different varieties of sex, and not everything on the list is a variety of sex. A confession about why you got married isn't a variety of sex. A payment of money is not a variety of sex. A preference for a type of woman isn't a variety of sex. And "lips almost as thick as their very full breasts" — I'm sorry... that's a hell of an "almost." The picture that put in my mind is just absurd. Lips as big as really tiny breasts would be scarily huge.

Then there's this insight into emptiness:
In the movie Up in the Air, George Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, travels nearly 330 days a year to fire people with a sympathetic look on his face.
Presumably, it's Bingham that has the sympathetic look on his face, not the people getting fired, as the sentence construction would have it.
... It now seems that when [Woods] returned home after a tournament and vanished back inside his gated community, the persona he left behind, the one he so obsessively presented to the public, was as empty as Bingham’s Omaha apartment, pieces of furniture without any meaning, a life without meaning.
This is the first mention in the article of Bingham’s Omaha apartment. We've been told about Bingham's emptiness, but suddenly the comparison is to Bingham's apartment, where there are — ooh, tragic! — pieces of furniture without any meaning. This is as silly as women with lips as big as their breasts... almost.
At the end of Up in the Air, Clooney realizes....
I'll spare you the spoiler.
But Woods, to the bitter end and with a kind of hubris that revealed his fundamental arrogance, still felt he could beat the tidal wave back.
What bitter end? Woods isn't a movie, and he's still alive. A kind of hubris that revealed his fundamental arrogance... These qualifiers are as meaningless as the furniture in Bingham's Omaha apartment. There's some particular kind of hubris involved? He's not just arrogant; he has fundamental arrogance? Bissinger fleshes out his point with nonevidence. Woods used a fake name at the hospital, like any celebrity who needed privacy. That's not arrogant. Woods avoided talking to the police. That's not arrogant. That's what your lawyer would tell you to do.
It was only when his paramours started pouring out of every cupboard like tenement cockroaches that Tiger expressed some sort of awareness that he was in deep shit....
The most sensible thing for him to do was to keep quiet and request privacy. That wasn't arrogant. And about that trite cockroaches simile — were their mandibles almost as big as their mesothoraxes?
With the number of alleged paramours reaching 14 as of mid-December (a figure bound to multiply), it is safe to say that behind the non-accessible accessibility and seemingly perfect marriage to a beautiful woman was a sex addict who could not get enough. There is nothing wrong with that, given that the opportunities for Tiger were endless.
Bissinger gives no reason for his pat assertion that having endless opportunities makes it completely right to be a sex addict. He just goes on to make the obvious point — bolstered, despite its obviousness, with the dubious concurrence of Hugh Hefner — that Tiger was cheating on his wife.
Things are only continuing to cascade downward for Woods.
Cascade downward? Does anything ever cascade upward?
... The swirling question is if, and when, he will return to golf.

Swirling, eh?  Is it swirling upward or downward?
... In the end it was the age-old clash of image versus reality, the compartmentalization of two different lives that inevitably merge at some certain point, whoever you are.
Well, I don't know who you are, but life is not a movie, and satisfying narrative arcs are not inevitable. For example, Woods could have died when his SUV hit that tree. And then we wouldn't have witnessed the age-old clash you're pontificating about.

January 5, 2010

At the Fish-and-Chips-Sandwich Café...


... we're open all night. Come in and chew the fat.

Morning coffee, afternoon coffee.



C-SPAN offers us transparency. Will Congress let us have it?

Or does it need those closed doors?

There's an old saying: "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made." But if we care about democracy, we should do what we can to strengthen the counterproposition: Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we are denied the chance to see how they are made.

"I absolutely loved having bigger boobs, but I don't want to short-change Australia either."

Says Jana Rawlinson.

Is it really possible that the next Senator from Massachusetts...

... will be a Republican?

The Democrat (state Attorney General Martha Coakley) is still ahead (in the race to replace the dead Kennedy), but only by 9%, and her strongly favor/strongly disfavor ratio is terrible compared to the Republican (state Senator Scott Brown). It's a special election, and special elections depend more heavily on who happens to vote. If we assume it's the people with the strongest opinions, then that big disparity in the favorability ration is good news for Brown.

The election takes place on January 19th, and given this new poll, now that everyone's paying attention, there should be a lot of action in the next 2 weeks. Presumably, people will vote not just based on the individual, Coakley/Brown, but based on what they want to see the U.S. Senate do with the healthcare bill. That question is especially interesting because Massachusetts has actually experienced a similar sort of healthcare reform since 2006. Though liberals tend to support the reform, only 32% of Massachusetts voters think the state healthcare program has been a success. (36% call it a failure, and 32% didn't know.)

In short, it should be an interesting couple of weeks.

France makes "psychological violence" a crime.

But don't get too worried. It's only a crime if you do it to your spouse. This will force verbal-aggressive types to go outside the marriage for release of their pent-up urges.

ADDED: I'm going to have to revise what has long been one of my stock observations about law: Most of the terrible things that people do to other people are not illegal. I just need to add: Except maybe in France.

In Austin, at the Texas state capitol...


... Meade pays homage to the man he once horrified Texans to call his favorite Texan...


... and I pay a third visit — here are my first and second visits — to my favorite object from a Supreme Court opinion....


Don't you want an American flag on your 10 Commandments?

"I am debilitated because I cannot move. My life is my bed, my spot in the dining room where I read the newspaper, and from there I do not move."

"I am to blame for the condition that I am in. I deserve it; I sought it out. I picked up this damn cigarette."

Among the last words of Sandro, the Argentine Elvis, dead now, at 64,

Thwarted by a federal judge in his effort to go on "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here," Rod Blagojevich is going to be on...

... "Celebrity Apprentice."

"The reason I started blogging about anime is because it is utterly inconsequential, and thus won’t attract the attention of readers who are earnest."

Says Steven Den Beste, commenting in a post about the breaking up of the 4 Horsemen of the Ablogalypse. Den Beste, along with Andrew Sullivan, Charles Johnson, and Glenn Reynolds (who linked to that post), was one of the 4.

Den Beste's aphorism is utterly charming. It reminds me of... what aphorist does it remind me of? I could only think of "The reason I started blogging about anime is because it is utterly inconsequential, and thus won’t attract the attention of readers who are earnest." I could only think of Kenko, but I'm not sure that's the right answer.

"If I were going to make up an alias, I wouldn't pick Rosenberg. I'd pick Jolie or Pitt."

"Do terrorists wear Manolo Blahniks? I can tell you Donna Karan does not make anything that hides a bomb.... I tried the tears; they didn't work. I tried reasoning. I couldn't bribe because I didn't have any money..."

Does Joan Rivers look like a terrorist? Well, she does look suspicious.

January 4, 2010

When a woman makes a statue, we don't say she sculpted it, do we?

I give a 1-minute lecture on that cowboy statue that's out in front of the Texas capitol building.

The men at the next table were talking about something.

We were having lunch in downtown Austin, and I wasn't really eavesdropping, but I liked the guys at the next table who were having an intense, serious discussion about some business project — a real estate development of some kind. After they left, I took a photograph of the diagram one of them drew on the table:


At the Take-the-Bus Restaurant...


... you can talk to everybody, but watch your step.

That time Glenn Reynolds reacted to me with an "arrogant sneer and a coiled physicality."

And purportedly thought "Now get your fuckin' shinebox," according to this blog, which Glenn likes/pretends to like, but which fails to comply with Flickr terms of service — by not linking to the photo page — and my Creative Commons license — by not giving me credit for the photograph I took.

I think it's very funny blog too, actually. I'm not even sure what I want more, credit for the photograph of mine that it used or an Althouse-focused equivalent of Analyze Glenn Reynolds’ Body Language. I mean if Charles Johnson is going to say "Glenn Reynolds is ... engaging in political analysis via Flickr. And Ann Althouse, too!" and then direct readers to the Analyze Glenn Reynolds’ Body Language blog, where's the parity?

Brit Hume evangelizes Tiger Woods.

Key passage:
The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger is, "Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
That's just so weird coming from a news commentator. I could understand if he'd put it in PR terms: Tiger, the American people will embrace you once again if you do a big Christian conversion routine. But Hume has phrased it in terms of psychological well-being. That is, he's presented it as sincere advice, the way a truly religious person would promote his own religion. It's very strange to see that on a mainstream TV opinion show, and it is especially off for the way it pits one religion against another.

That said, I wonder which religion provides the best rehabilitation to a person who's indulged in great and transgressive sexual adventures and ruined his family and his reputation. Put aside which religion, if any, is the true one. Let's examine Hume's assertion that Christianity is the psychological solution for Tiger Woods. From what I understand, Buddhism originated as way to deal with suffering in this world. Perhaps all the religions will give you some foothold as you struggle to deal with your personal problems, and whether it brings you peace and happiness depends mostly on you.

So, let's talk about how weird Hume was and which religion works best in the pre-afterlife. And PR. And the strength of our aversion to talking openly about the way a particular religion falls short.

Everybody's talking about that James Bond/dead tired photograph of Obama.

The Atlantic Wire has a good rundown of the commentary about that photo from the White House Flickr page. (They link to me and manage to introduce 2 typos that were never in the original. How do you do that when cutting and pasting?)

There's so much talk about about the photo, and my post is drawing so much traffic from various blogs — the kind that try to disqualify me as drunk/stupid — that I have to conclude this criticism — it's hardly even a criticism, more of an observation — really hurt.

Here's Andrew Sullivan:
Glenn Reynolds finds a photo in the White House Flickr basket...
Flickr basket? Sullivan either doesn't know what things are called, or he's inventing a phrase to create the impression that the White House dumps all manner of images onto its public Flickr page without much thought. In fact, the White House Flickr page — which I check almost daily — gets — I would say — an average of one new photo a day — maybe 2 — and the photos are clearly chosen to flatter President Obama. I have zero doubt that if there is a photo there, the White House believes it presents the President in an excellent light.
... and publishes it to, er, point out how bad the White House's p.r. is, or how blind they are to perceptions of Obama or some such thing.
Yes, exactly. It's obvious and it's easy to understand. Acting out a pretense of having difficulty understanding is hammy.
I tried to puzzle this one out and can just about see how an elusive photo of a tired Obama reacting to something unknowable might make him look tired or arrogant or something.
And then I realized why this photo immediately strikes some people are [sic] damning. Obama is a black man who looks as if he is condescending to a white man. That's political gold.
It's political gold against Sullivan. And I don't just mean because he played the race card with so little provocation. It's damaging to Sullivan because the way he arrived at the racial interpretation was entirely by searching around in his own brain. He thought and he thought — he puzzled — and then he realized what looked bad to "some people." Some people? But that was you seeing that, Andrew! What you see is what you see. How much alienation from one's own thoughts there must be that you would expose your own racism like that!

If you think that's unfair, then take it as a lesson in fairness.

January 3, 2010

A nighttime walk in Austin, Texas.



At the Tabletop Café...


... keep the conversation going while I'm in transit.

Thanks to Google for the free WiFi gift.

Photo 11

Here at the Madison Airport, where — I might add — security was handled really well. It was better, more organized than before. People had to wait in the line — which wasn't long — so that we went through the boarding pass/ID check more slowly and with some deliberate though unobtrusive personal contact. That meant I had the tables to myself to get my stuff properly arranged in the various busing tubs, with one person (Meade) eventually catching up to me. It wasn't really noticeably slower, just more orderly and careful. I liked not having to feel that I needed to hurry to avoid delaying other people. After the metal detector, I got the pat-down. Meade didn't. Why? I am wearing a long skirt.

The Obama administration is still going to send Guantanamo detainees to Yemen.

But don't worry: "We are making sure that we don't do anything that's going to put Americans at risk."

"Damn, Obama looks like James Bond in this picture."

Says a commenter at the White House Flickr site. Is that what you see? Keep in mind that this is a picture the WH selected and had to have thought flattered the President and furthered his interests:

People who like Obama are blinded to the way other people see him. This picture strongly says cool to people who love him, but it doesn't read that way to others... including the many, many people who don't even want a cool President.

Photo via Instapundit, who has a closeup of the facial expression. The main thing I see when I look at that face is: He's tired.

Wouldn't it be funny, Barack, if, after all of this, you wake up one morning, and you think: I hate my job?

What's he thinking now? Oh, my God, I'm only one-quarter through this thing. And they're going to expect me to campaign again too? Bleh!

Prediction (longshot): Obama will not run for reelection. How can he do it? He can be all...
... I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing... With America's sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office — the Presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.
It can happen. It's happened. The man is tired and it's a way to get above it all. And that's the other thing I see in that face: He's tired and he's floating above it all.

Inappropriate beer commercial.

An oldie from YouTube. Count the inappropriatenesses... on your fingers if you can still see them:

"But Austin isn’t really Texas. It is the People’s Republic of Austin."

"In the seventies, it was a cheap and groovy little town, much smaller and less commercial than it is now. There was no Dell or Intel or AMD. Its particular countercultural contribution was the cosmic cowboy, the dope-smoking redneck, so perhaps it was fitting that, amid a burgeoning natural-foods scene (there were a dozen or so spots: the Hobbit Hole, the Juice Factory, Wheatsville, etc.), a kind of complement took root: the brown-rice capitalist."

From a long article in The New Yorker about John Mackey (of Whole Foods). I'm focusing on the Austin part, because we're going to Austin pretty soon. (Feel free to make Austin suggestions, preferably SoCo focused.)

The cosmic cowboy, the dope-smoking redneck... Austinites, is that Austin? Well, that's how The New Yorker — with its famous perspective — sees you.

Struggling not to laugh so much I wake up everyone in the house.

And I'm partly laughing out of shame for finding this so funny.

"[T]he Republicans, who predictably seized on the plot for political advantage by absurdly accusing Mr. Obama of being weak on national security."

I'm just noticing this NYT editorial from New Year's Day. It's not bad generally, but I just don't get the "absurdly." What's absurd about accusing Obama of being weak on national security?

I used to subscribe to the NYT and read it for at least an hour a day, paging through the whole thing. Now, I'm spending more and more time looking for opinion about American politics in the British papers. For example, the UK Telegraph has "Barack Obama is vulnerable on terror – and he knows it."

So, weakness on national security: too absurd to mention or something Obama knows all too well?

Now, that seems like a striking contradiction, but it can be said that the NYT and the UK Telegraph are talking about 2 different things that can both be true: 1. President Obama is actually very strong on national security, and 2. President Obama can be attacked on the issue of national security. 2 newspapers are taking 2 angles on Obama's problems with national security. The Telegraph is illustrating Obama's awareness of how he is being attacked as shown by the defensive remarks he has made. The NYT would like readers to jump to the opinion that only the bad people are questioning Obama on this issue.

"Attacking the pollsters is seldom a good sign."

Yes, but the outrage:

Bad, bad Rasmussen!

"There were lots of demands on Karzai from people asking for Cabinet positions because they campaigned for him."

"This was the only way he could reward them and if parliament didn't approve them, it wasn't his fault. Very soon, Karzai will come out with a new list with the names of people he really wants to have in his Cabinet."

The man who put the heads on the Pez dispenser.

Curtis Allina. A classic obituary, depicting a man you're only hearing about because he has died. He was 87. The heads went on the dispensers in 1955. I'm old enough to have had a pre-head type Pez dispenser, and though the obituary says "In 1955, at his urging, what had been an austerely packaged Austrian confection for adults took on vibrant new life as a children’s product," we kids thought the original dispenser was really cool. Did I get a Pez dispenser with a head when I already had a Pez dispenser? I think I did. I think I had Popeye. But this isn't the place to tell you how much I loved Popeye. This is a post about candy... and packaging... and writing about death.
Curtis Allina was born Aug. 15, 1922, in Prague, and raised in Vienna. Between 1941 and 1945, he and his family, Sephardic Jews, were forced into a series of concentration camps. Mr. Allina emerged at war’s end as his family’s sole survivor in Europe. Making his way to New York, he worked for a commercial meatpacker before joining Pez-Haas, as the company’s United States arm was then known, in 1953.

Pez was invented in 1927 by Eduard Haas III, a Viennese food-products mogul. Small, rectangular and mint-flavored (the name is a contraction of pfefferminz, the German word for peppermint), the candy was marketed to adults as an alternative to smoking. Originally sold in tins, Pez was repackaged in the late 1940s in plain, long-stemmed dispensers meant to suggest cigarette lighters.
And so, we Boomers were turned away from cigarette-oriented play and into the world of pop culture characters... by a man who emerged from the Holocaust.

"Trust a pro."

Keith Richards really is a pro as becomes clear over the course of what seems to be only a humorously inept attempt to record a promo for MTV

This was back in the early days when we were being enlisted to demand that the cable companies give us MTV:

(And thanks to the reader who sent me a link to that first video after reading the post yesterday in which Keith made a cameo appearance.)