July 20, 2013

Strange flowers...

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... I found these rather odd. Water lilies, presumably. Fuzzy and bright yellow-green.

"Air-conditioning has reversed the polarity of summer..."

"... it has us fleeing inside during hot weather, while we used to flee outside, which might have been more fun, and was certainly more social."

"Ultra-violent, demented, plotless, creepy, meat-headed and boring, this is nothing more than a depraved travesty of abstract expression..."

"... that wastes the film it’s printed on. Get to the point, you say. What is it about? Absolutely nothing, really."
Ryan Gosling, looking dangerously anaesthetized, is an American thug who runs a brutal boxing club that doubles as a drug den in the slums of Bangkok. When his sub-mental brother rapes and slaughters a teenage whore, her father slices his head off.... 
I'll slice off the rest of the plot line and go right to:
What on earth is going on here? Was Drive a fluke, or is [Nicolas Winding] Refn just another no-talent from the Lars von Trier school of Something Rotten in Denmark flummery?
Years ago, it used to seem necessary to take in these Danish movies. Life is so much easier now.

At the Trayvon "rallies" — "Hundreds gathered in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other California cities Saturday morning."

"Civil rights leader and MSNBC host Al Sharpton organized the 'Justice for Trayvon' rallies and vigils outside federal buildings in at least 101 cities: from New York and Los Angeles to Wichita, Kan., and Atlanta...."
In addition to pushing the Justice Department to investigate civil rights charges against Zimmerman, Sharpton told supporters he wants to see a rollback of stand-your-ground self-defense laws now in place in more than 20 states.

"We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again," the Rev. Sharpton said.
Zimmerman shot when he was pinned down and getting his head bashed into concrete. Stand-your-ground has to do with retreating when you can. Even aside from the fact laws can't ensure that bad things never, ever happen again — or else why is there murder? — stand-your-ground made no difference in Zimmerman's situation.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, the reported number is 8,000, with Jesse Jackson as the big speaker, saying: "We must boycott Florida and stop 'stand your ground.'" Boycott Florida?
Rosaline Wilson, 62, said she came to the rally remembering her 14-year old brother who she said was killed by a police officer several decades ago while he was riding home from school. Because of the experience, she said, Wilson was not surprised by the Zimmerman verdict, but thinks there is hope for the future.

"We need solutions; we need something concrete; we need change," she said. 
We need something concrete... Speaking of concrete, does anyone at these rallies mention that Martin bashed Zimmerman's head on the concrete?

ADDED: At the Miami rally, Trayvon Martin's father spoke, and the NYT describes the crowd as "dozens of people."

"A woman swam to safety in the Chesapeake Bay Friday night after her car plunged 40 feet off the Bay Bridge...."

"The 22-year-old woman... swam from her car to a bridge piling."

At the Garden Swirl Semi-Café...

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... you can comment about anything... with moderation.

The 5 believers and the 5 "cons" — the background to Obama's spontaneous remarks about race.

Talk about context — and he did — look where we find ourselves. After the verdict in the George Zimmerman case — otherwise known as the Trayvon Martin case — Obama may have wanted not to speak, but our nation casts its weary eyes toward the face that we (once) imagined would emanate rays of racial healing. Come on, Obama, you've got to do it. He got profiled all the way into office, and now we expect him to perform in accordance with our stereotype.

He resisted for a number of days. Who knows what he was thinking? Was he waiting to see if there would be riots? To hear what others might say (so he could enter the conversation late and seem, perhaps without really saying anything, like the voice of reason)?

Then, on Friday, he made his way out to the lectern in the White House briefing room — "no advance warning and little of the orchestration that usually accompanies presidential speeches" — and spoke without a teleprompter, extemporaneously. As the NYT has it:
After days of angry protests and mounting public pressure, President Obama summoned five of his closest advisers to the Oval Office on Thursday evening. It was time, he told them, for him to speak to the nation about the Trayvon Martin verdict, and he had a pretty good idea what he wanted to say.
Summoned! So commanding. He talked to 5 advisers. We're not told who, but one of them talked to summoned the NYT — I'm sure that was okay with Obama — and painted this picture:

Helen Thomas, dead at 92.

"Thomas was the the first woman to join the White House Correspondents' Association, and the first woman to serve as its president. She was also the first female member of the Gridiron Club, Washington's historic press group."

ADDED: Clicking on my "Helen Thomas" tag, I can see things in a form not to be found in the obituaries:

1."'Everyone knows she is a nasty piece of work and has been a nasty piece of work for decades.'Jonah Goldberg tells us how he really feels about Helen Thomas..."

2. James Taranto calls "metaphor alert" on Helen Thomas, while using the "crazy old aunt in the attic" metaphor against her.

3. Helen, still on fire at 89: "Nixon didn’t try to do that. They couldn’t control [the media]. They didn’t try. What the hell do they think we are, puppets? They’re supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them.... When you call the reporter the night before you know damn well what they are going to ask to control you. I’m not saying there has never been managed news before, but this is carried to fare-thee-well — for the town halls, for the press conferences. It’s blatant. They don’t give a damn if you know it or not. They ought to be hanging their heads in shame."

4. "Longtime White House scribe Helen Thomas caused more than a few eyebrows to perk up when video surfaced on Friday of her declaring that Jews should 'get the hell out of Palestine' and go back to Germany and Poland.'"

5. "At the Helengoyle Café" had this photoshop by Palladian (done after what you see at #4):

"There are also large numbers of people with pseudodementia."

"These people may seem to be demented, but the brain is normal."

Noted.

And: Just as I'd thought.

"One moment you’re sitting at home watching CNN, and the next you’re a basket case..."

"... because your television is locked on a steady stream of Chinese Communist Party propaganda."
It’s entirely possible that the Global Times -- hardly a paragon of journalistic integrity -- got the story wrong, and the Gaoxin VII isn’t designed to induce nervous collapse. It's also possible, probable in fact, that Chinese Communist propaganda can't induce such a fit.
Here's what the Global times wrote:
“When carrying out a mission, the airplane [the Gaoxin VII] will use its own ‘programs’ to forcefully overpower enemy television stations, radio stations and wireless communication networks, interfere with the enemy's propaganda dissemination programs, affect the enemy's military-civilian morale, and create rumors and confusion, thus causing the enemy, from government to everyday citizens, to have ‘nervous breakdowns’ and achieving their goal of rendering them helpless and unable to fight.”
That's hilarious... until it's not.

Can we just get this as a movie?

"State law says that no school’s nonwhite enrollment can deviate from the districtwide average for schools with the same grade levels by more than 25 percentage points."

Race-balancing in Connecticut.
In addition to New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue Elementary, the two schools on the western edge of town with too few white students, two schools on the far eastern and northern sides of town are flirting with imbalance of an opposite kind: having too few minority children... The imbalance was created by a steady increase in black and Hispanic residents on the western side of [Greenwich]...

"I didn’t go to Thailand, but the summer that I took the bar I did all my studying by the pool."

Writes Instapundit:
I was set to clerk afterward at the Sixth Circut [sic] with a friend from law school who was black, and my goal was to be darker than her when I started. I succeeded — and that was the last really serious tan I had. Subsequent summers in law practice weren’t congenial to tanning; I couldn’t do all that work beside the pool...
He's commenting on a NYT article about the law school graduates who study for the bar and simultaneously vacation.

After all the money spent going to law school and all the pressure in the job market, who can take a vacation? I understand how grads who are going to clerk have a time slot when they can relocate, but where does the money come from? Instapundit frequently writes about "the law school bubble," but that's eclipsed here for a story about racial healing and premarital friendship. The NYT loves to urge its readers to angst over the struggles of the less-than-affluent, but that alternates with stories about privileged persons engaging in some activity that can be perceived as trendy or at least a trend.

July 19, 2013

Bankrupt Detroit has $2 billion worth of art in its museum.

"Unlike most art museums around the country, which are owned by nonprofit corporations that hold a collection in trust for citizens, the institute is owned by Detroit, as is much of its collection — which is not particularly deep but includes gems by artists like Bruegel, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and van Gogh. It is considered among the top 10 encyclopedic museums in the country...."
Bankruptcy lawyers say the issue of the value of such cultural assets goes beyond philosophical or moral arguments. For a bankruptcy judge, the questions could include whether the sale of a city’s artworks would have long-term economic implications — depressing tourism, harming real-estate values and the value of other cultural institutions, for example — in a way that sets a city up for financial failure again down the road.
The museum's director says: "If you could sell off Detroit’s hospitals and its universities, would you do that, too? If you do things like this, you’re basically spelling the end of the city as an ongoing entity."

A place to sit.

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Extremo the Clown.

One photo in an amusing set of photographs of the people of Portland. Watch out. There's one nude, and it's a naked man.

Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
I may be biased since I live here (and have talked to a few of those portrait subjects and am familiar with most of the others), but I don't really see hardly any of them as being "deeply invested in being unusual." The weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird folks certainly exist, but they're far outnumbered by some genuinely odd ducks that have flourished in a pond that for whatever reasons accepts quirkiness more than your typical medium size city.

"By the President comparing himself to Martin 35 years ago, is he saying he would have responded as Martin did, and physically attacked someone for following him?"

Asks TalkLeft.
I hope not because our laws do not allow such conduct. It is not illegal for a private citizen to follow someone. It is illegal to physically assault another person who has not threatened him with the imminent use of force.

I am very disappointed that the President has chosen to endorse those who have turned a case of assault and self-defense into a referendum on race and civil rights. And that he is using it to support those with an agenda of restricting gun rights.

"Do congressmen think presidents call people like me and say, 'Don't forget to harass my enemies'?"

"Are congressmen that stupid?"

Peggy Noonan imagines the thought bubble over the head of Elizabeth Hofacre, as she answered questions about her processing of tea-party applications for the IRS.

Noonan's column is titled "A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal: No, it wasn't confined to a few rogue workers in Cincinnati." Meanwhile, Steve Benen writes: "When a 'bombshell' is a dud."

Nate Silver to switch his statistics work from politics to sports.

He's leaving the NYT for ESPN.
Before creating statistical models for elections, Mr. Silver was a baseball sabermetrician who built a highly effective system for projecting how players would perform in the future. For a time he was a managing partner of Baseball Prospectus. At public events recently, he has expressed interest in covering sports more frequently, so the ESPN deal is a logical next step.
I take it ESPN has lots of money and the Times does not.

I had to look up the word "sabermetrician." Wikipedia says: "Sabermetrics is the specialized analysis of baseball through objective evidence, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the Society for American Baseball Research. It was coined by Bill James, who is one of its pioneers and is often considered its most prominent advocate and public face."

Obama tries so hard to say something and nothing at the same time — about Trayvon Martin.

This halting, awkward performance had to have been carefully thought out, but you're supposed to absorb the anguish and agonizing as he walks back any expectation that the federal government will do anything:



From the NYT write-up:
“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son... Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
These are memorable but empty statements. Fill them with whatever you want. This isn't a critique of the legal system and how it handled the case. It's a vague claim of authority to empathize.
“I don’t want to exaggerate this, but..."
But! Have it both ways. I don't want to exaggerate, but I've just got to say it anyway.

"While the line looks simple on TV, the technology behind it is very complex."

The line, and how they got it.
Sensors were placed on the three main game cameras (at midfield and the two 20 yard lines), capturing the pan, tilt and zoom movements of those cameras 30 times a second. A three-dimensional, virtual model of each field had to be constructed, with the exact measurements of the crown of the field (the center of the field is always higher, for drainage, than the sides and ends, but the precise levels vary in each venue). An exhaustive color palette had to be produced on the fly as the game progressed, so that the green pixels of grass the yellow line replaced would be exactly the "right greens" even as shadows crossed the field and changed the grass hues — an essential feature to assure replacing only the green blades of grass and not the green threads of a Packers or Eagles jersey.

Closeup.

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Up on the roof.

1. Male on female.

2. Female on male.

Police photographer leaks pictures of bloodied, cornered Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to counter the cute-boy pic on the cover of Rolling Stone.

The photographer (Sergeant Sean Murphy) deserves to be fired for that (and he might be; he's currently on suspension). 

These efforts to punish Rolling Stone for glamorizing the terrorist are playing Rolling Stone's game, promoting the magazine and boosting its image of edginess.

William Faulkner is never dead. He just needs to get the hell out of court.

So the estate of William Faulkner sued Sony Pictures Classics over the line "The past is not dead. Actually, it's not even past," spoken by the Owen Wilson character in the Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris." The line is a paraphrase of a famous Faulkner quote "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

The judge said: "The copyrighted work is a serious piece of literature lifted for use in a speaking part in a movie comedy, as opposed to a printed portion of a novel printed in a newspaper, or a song's melody sampled in another song. This transmogrification in medium tips this factor in favour of transformative, and thus, fair use."

Oh, good lord. I'm sure we're allowed to quote that quote whenever we want, in newspapers and songs, even pretending we just thought it up, without getting permission from the Faulkner people and without crediting Faulkner.

Contributions.

Thank you. And by you, I mean you who know who you are. We appreciate it.

"Let's see how the puppies are doing."

Puppycam.

Me: "Aw. The mother's there."

Meade: "It's fun when the mother's there. It's fun to watch them breathe. Makes me want to go over and get Zeusy."

"These Pictures Might Tempt You To Eat Bugs."

Headline at NPR that sets up derisive laughter upon sight of the first photo.

Oh, NPR, why so seemingly earnest at yet so ridiculous?

"Somehow or another we have to make it, 'You’re not with it if you’re not air drying your clothes!'"

Oh! Look at the colorful T-shirts and dresses pinned to the long clotheslines strung up in Berkeley’s Civic Center Park. It's "Air Dry For the Environment." California Youth Energy Services will also come to your house — if you're in Berkeley, Antioch, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremond, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton, Richmond, Union City, or Marin County — and install a retractable clothesline. Free!

These young people seem nice and positive, and I like the specific, practical approach. I remember the old days when people didn't have dryers and it was the norm to hang everything outside. It didn't have a feeling attached to it. You didn't feel hip or virtuous. But to get people to go back to something that seems labor-intensive and possibly an invasion of your own privacy — I note there are no underpants or bras in that Civic Center Park display — you've got to work with people's feelings.

They'd like to make it feel hip to hang out your clothes, but the stronger argument is that it is virtuous. Do hipness and virtuousness go together? In the old days, the hip scorned traditional values, but they (we?) might have embraced some selected virtues — maybe stark truthtelling. But I don't think that environmentalism — which used to be called "conservation" — seems hip at all. Trying to make it feel hip to people seems like the exact opposite of hipness. Perhaps you'd like to see the end of hipness. This wholesomeness could be fatal. But it's more likely that new hipsters will emerge, and they'll have to scoff at the virtues that were promoted in a way that feels shallow and dishonest.

It's not hip to hang laundry.

"The Naked and the Nude."

I was just talking about the naked/nude distinction, a propos of some blather on NPR. The NPR position, which I called "so NPR" was: "In fine art, the female body is a nude. In not-so-fine art, she's naked."

A reader emailed:
From my high school days, I recall a line from a poem contrasting naked and nude. Through the magic of the Internet, I am able to retrieve the entire poem. Note that the poet, Robert Graves no less, takes the exact opposite view of the article you cited in your most recent post.
Robert Graves has been in his grave for almost 30 years, and he was born nearly 120 years ago, and yet copyright law is such that I feel I shouldn't copy the whole poem. Counteracting that feeling — and isn't law a feeling? — is the fact that the poem can be found all over the place on the internet, including — I see now — in the comments at the NPR story. So, with all due respect to Sonny Bono and with near certainty that I'm doing the heirs of Robert Graves a favor, let's read the poem. Remember, the question on the floor is whether Graves takes "the exact opposite view" from NPR.

The Romanian woman who burned a Monet, a Matisse, a Gauguin, and a Picasso.

It's possible that those bits of cinnabar, chromium green, lazurite, and tin-lead yellow found in Olga Dogaru's wood-burning stove are not what's left of the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of paintings for which her son was arrested for stealing from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam. But why lie and say you burned them? And yet, why burn them and not lie?

If you're hardcore enough to burn these things, why are you not hardcore enough to lie to the police?

Who knows what techniques the police in Romania use to extract confessions? It's one thing to crush fine art into the incinerator one night in a desperate frenzy, quite another to hold up to endless questioning. The impulse to have it over explains the burning and the confessing. It's not hardcore to burn and then not to lie. It's the weak combination. To resist destroying the evidence of your son's crimes because the art is beautiful and then also to resist the demands from the police for confession — that is the strong combination. That is hardcore.

The more mundane combinations are: 1. Burn the paintings and lie about it, and 2. Don't burn the paintings and, when confronted by the police, rat on your son. These 2 options are easiest to understand. #1 is the criminal mind, the sociopath. #2 is the virtuous person. These are the familiar and conventional types.
In her statement to the police, Mrs. Dogaru said she panicked when she realized the works would be used as evidence against her son. With officers combing the village, she told the authorities that she had looked frantically for places to hide the works, which were all in a large plastic bag.

She hid them in various places, including her sister’s home and her garden. Then, she said, she buried them at the village cemetery.... Fearful that the works could still be discovered... Mrs. Dogaru said she lighted a fire in the stove and went to the cemetery to get the works. “I put the whole package with the seven paintings, without even opening it, into the stove, and then placed over them some wood and my plastic slippers and waited for them to fully burn,” she said. “The next day I cleaned the stove, took out the ash and placed it in the garden, in a wheelbarrow.”
Congratulations to the police who extracted this confession? No. The police are to blame for arresting Dogaru the son, unleashing he mother Dogaru.

July 18, 2013

Puppies.

Shouldn't they be asleep now? Oh, here comes that one guy....

Via Metafilter.

"I'm not embarrassed at all."

"My camel toe doesn't embarrass me.... I don't pay attention to the neighsayers. Get it? N-E-I-G-H. It doesn't bother me at all. I've always been special, and now all these people are finally noticing it. And I just wanna tell 'em, 'What took you so long?'"

"I just feel bad because I don't like when race gets out in the media because I don't think the media has a pure heart, as I call it."

"There are very few people have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any, shape, form.... I think sometimes when people talk about racism, they say only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. I don't like when it gets out there in the media because I don't think the media has clean hands... [T]he main thing I feel bad for, it gives every black and white person who is racist a platform to vent their ignorance. That's the thing that bothers me the most..."

Said Charles Barkley.

#3 in a series...

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... of water-themed photographs, today on the blog.

"Detroit is going to be a huge test kitchen."

“If you end up with precedent that allows the restructuring of [public employee] retirement benefits in bankruptcy court, that will make it an attractive option for cities,” said Karol K. Denniston, a bankruptcy lawyer, commenting on Detroit's bankruptcy.

So, there are the labor interests. And then there's race:
All along, the state’s involvement — including [Gov. Rick] Snyder’s decision to send in an emergency manager — has carried racial implications, setting off a wave of concerns for some in Detroit that the mostly white Republican-led state government was trying to seize control of Detroit, a Democratic city where more than 80 percent of residents are black....
Labor, race... and the 2 parties starkly arrayed.

"Ignore the haters. Law school is totally worth the cash."

WaPo says.

Stone fountain.

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Yesterday... in brutal heat.

"Can't blog a 'Hey Zeus' video without also including a link to 'Die Hard with A Vengeance'!"

Emails a reader — pointing to this post of our last outing with the dog Zeus — and revealing the non-embarrassing truth that I've never seen the movie "Die Hard with A Vengeance."



I've never even seen "Die Hard" (without a vengeance), but I have watched that clip, and I laughed a lot.

"Why you keep calling me Jesus? I look Puerto Rican to you?"

"He caught the same disease that was killing the chestnut trees."

A James Thurber illustration, emailed by a reader (after yesterday's post about bringing back the chestnut trees):



(Here's the story, "The Car We Had to Push.")

"As spectators looked on, Mr. Warner roared off on his blue Suzuki Hayabusa..."

"... a customized, fiberglass-swathed model muscled up with a 1,200-horsepower engine."
About 4,000 feet down the track, after he had hit 285 m.p.h., the motorcycle veered to the right — the direction drivers usually turn if something is awry — headed into the grass and fell on its side, tossing Mr. Warner. Their speed had been so great that both man and machine slid, separately, for hundreds of feet. Mr. Warner, though conscious after the crash, died a short time later....

Summer water.

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Does it look cool? (It was very hot.)

"I find paper towels a complete waste of time and never use them..."

"... mind you, that's probably because running my moist hands through my hair helps to tame it and my trousers do an admirable job with the remainder - and at no cost to the environment!"

After yesterday's raven seeking human help extracting porcupine quills from neck...

... today — via reader email — here's a fox seeking human help extracting head from jar:

"If someone believes it's appropriate to sue George Zimmerman, then we will seek and we will get immunity in a civil hearing..."

"... and we will see just how many civil lawsuits will be spawned by this fiasco."

This is why you don't want to say Stand Your Ground has nothing to do with George Zimmerman.

"Each post you make seems to invite conversation, yet allowing none, creates a constipation of thought."

Emails a reader who — when the comments were on — commented under the pseudonym Salamandyr. I'm blogging this because I think poop is funny. And because I've already used the tag "excrement" once this morning, quoting Greil Marcus's famous question — reviewing Bob Dylan's "Self Portrait" — "What is this shit?"

So Salamandyr's saying "Turning off comments was a dreadful mistake that I hope you'll reconsider."
[Y]our writing style invites comments.  Each post you make seems to invite conversation, yet allowing none, creates a constipation of thought.  
Yeah, that was the problem. Too much pooping in the comments! Why would your complaining about constipation convince me to reopen? This is Althouse, not Shithouse. But some people didn't seem to notice, didn't care, or had their own delusions of redesigning the place.

"On Obamacare, Republicans test the definition of insanity"/"Buyer’s Remorse from ObamaCare Backers?"

Headlines paired at Real Clear Politics.

The first one is from Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. The second one is from Seth Mandel at Commentary.

I figure I can move on, they cancel each other out/I don't need get my head scrambled up and my brain dragged about.
“It’s all been designed,” he said, “to make you lose your mind
And when you go back to find it, there’s nothing there to find
Every time you look at it, your situation’s worse
If you feel it grabbing out for you, send for the nurse"
It = TV, in that old Dylan song, but let's interpret it to include the internet, there being no Dylan song about the internet. Not explicitly, anyway.

Meade and the meat man.

The other day at Whole Foods:
Meade: I need 1 pound of vegetarian grass-fed free-range 80% lean Step 5+ Animal centered; entire life on same farm ground sirloin.

Zach, the butcher: Coming right up.  Anything else?

Me (smiling): Can you add a little extra Pink Slime?  That's where all the flavor is you know.

Zach (also smiling): I see you are one of our rare customers - a connoisseur.

"'It’s a New York thing — FOMO,' said Brianne Chai-Onn, 34, using the acronym for 'fear of missing out.'"

"'A lot of people have this syndrome,' she said while waiting in line on Saturday. 'That’s why we don’t sit in our apartments.'"

From an article about waiting in a long line to walk through an art installation that creates a sense of walking in the rain, where you also don't get wet.

Obviously Five Questions:

Visible mending.

The beauty of this gives it great potential as a metaphor.

Papillon.

But can they paddleboard?

"The news of the day is on all the time/All the latest gossip, all the latest rhyme..."

"Your mind is your temple, keep it beautiful and free/Don’t let an egg get laid in it by something you can’t see..."

That's Bob Dylan talking about television. Any eggs laid in your beautiful mind lately by some invisible insectoid politico?
"It will lead you into some strange pursuits
Lead you to the land of forbidden fruits
It will scramble up your head and drag your brain about
Sometimes you gotta do like Elvis did and shoot the damn thing out"
He means the TV, which is what Elvis shot out, not the brain. That's a lyric you must take care not to misread.

Having taken a break in the middle of writing this post to scramble some eggs — chicken eggs, not insect eggs — I take delight in the appearance of "scramble" (in "scramble up your head") so soon after "Don't let an egg get laid" (in your head).

Bob Dylan looks like Rick Santorum.

In his painterly mind:



The trouble with painting/drawing portraits is everyone gravitates to the question whether it looks like the person it's supposed to be. That's a good reason — if you like doing portraits — to choose subjects who aren't well-known. Alternatively, use a camera. You might get credit for making one person look like someone else.

Here's Bob Dylan's new "Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10." And here's Dylan's long-ago release titled "Self Portrait"...



... the one about which Greil Marcus asked in Rolling Stone: "What is this shit?" (Here, please credit me for resisting making a Santorum joke.)

Comparing the 2 selfies, we see a consistent approach to the upper lip/lower lip proportion, the the Scarecrow-from-the-Wizard-of-Oz nose, the hair part deeply denting the forehead (making it look like a lopsided heart), the cut off jawline with jowls, and the un-level ears (though the down ear is now up and the up is down*). The biggest difference, other than skin tone, is in the eyebrows. Gone is the amazement of youth. The old man has seen it all, but he's still looking.
_________________________

*Old lyric that resonated (after a search for "up" and "down"):
Oh, the only decent thing I did when I worked as a postal clerk
Was to haul your picture down off the wall near the cage where I used to work
Was I a fool or not to try to protect your identity?
You looked a little burned out, my friend, I thought it might be up to me

"What has become of the Benghazi investigation?"

Politico hands me a convenient headline.

I have to scoff.

Who didn't already know within a couple weeks of the the attack that the statements about how there would be an "investigation" meant we need you to stop talking about this until everyone forgets?

That's my question.

And: Why did so many journalists and politicians submit to the "investigation" gag?

Christine O'Donnell gets message from Treasury agent: "your personal federal tax info may have been compromised and may have been misused by an individual."

O'Donnell — the 2010 Tea Party GOP candidate for the Senate in Delaware — received that phone call earlier this year, but the breach occurred the day she announced her run for office:
[That very day] a tax lien was placed on a house purported to be hers and publicized. 
She didn't still own that house, so we didn't get to see how far the persecution of the woman — also taunted as a "witch" — might have gone.
The IRS eventually blamed the lien on a computer glitch and withdrew it.

Now Mr. Martel, a criminal investigator for the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, was telling her that an official in Delaware state government had improperly accessed her records on that very same day.
State government accessing IRS records the day the campaign is announced and acting instantly to break her financially.



"As she was considering a Senate run, Ms. O'Donnell said she was told by a prominent political figure in Delaware that if she challenged [mainstream Republican Michael] Castle, the IRS and others would 'F with her head.'"

How pathetically little investigative journalism we've had on the IRS scandal and the effort to crush the Tea Party!

July 17, 2013

Lily.

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"Naked Or Nude?"

An old question...
In fine art, the female body is a nude. In not-so-fine art, she's naked. In Richmond, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's Wesselmann show has a bit of both.
Jeesh. That's so NPR.

I remember discussing the naked/nude distinction back in '07....

"Has Glenn Greenwald taken advantage of Edward Snowden?"

Joshua Foust and Nicholas Mennuti diavlog:

"Raven Asks Human for Help with Painful Quills After Porcupine Attack."

The bird screeches but stays put until the woman has yanked out 4 quills.

Moth looks like a hummingbird.



ADDED: A similar encounter, in 2010.

"You are washing your hands in the sink on top of the urinal, and the same water that’s running is also used to flush."

"It’s not just a fancy piece of art," says Latvian designer Kaspars Jursons. "The idea is about function and consumption.... You don’t have to use water twice, like when you use the urinal and wash your hands in separate sink.”

Bringing back the chestnut tree...

... 2 different approaches:
The seedlings, Chinese-American hybrids, are among 14,000 chestnut trees being set atop reclaimed Appalachian strip mines through the end of 2014. The deployment, by far the largest to date, is seen as a crucial test of the tree’s ability to go it alone in wild forests full of predators and other species of trees competing for sunlight and nutrients.

At the same time, scientists at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse are readying new trials of an entirely different chestnut — not a hybrid, but one that has been modified with a gene from wheat that enables it to produce a blight-fighting enzyme....

Nasutoceratops titusi... big-nose, horn-face...

A new dinosaur.
"The horns are by far the absolute largest of any member of its group of dinosaurs - they curve sideways and forwards... In addition it has the biggest nose of its group too."

"Actually, I'm finding that, when I click over [to] the other site where your commenters have migrated, the things they have to say aren't really very interesting..."

"... (and I never did understand what the name-calling directed towards 'Inga' was all about), and when I think back, the comment sections were something of a trap -- I'd hope to have, or read, some interesting dialog about the topic, but it never really happened very much. The 'create your own blog' approach is challenging, but imaginary readers are tough to write for.  In any case, in the same way as I seldom buy treats from the grocery store, because I have a hard time eating them in moderation (I tell the kids: if I buy the chocolate ice cream, you'll have a bowl now, and I'll eat the rest tonight after you're in bed -- so let's just go to the ice cream place instead), please keep the comments off."

That's from Jane the Actuary, who actually did start her own blog, Jane the Actuary. If you go over there and read it, will it save her from the fate of writing for "imaginary readers"? She'll still have to imagine you to write for you. From the beginning on this blog, I wrote for myself. I wrote about what I was reading and I wrote to see what I thought. It was a way of thinking. Since Meade moved in, I also write for him, often saying "New post alert" and then hearing what he thinks, often as he reads it aloud (and helps me find typos and hard-to-grasp phrases).

That reminds me of something Vladimir Nabokov said in 1966, in answer to the question "What is your greatest pleasure in writing?"
There is the first satisfaction of arranging it on a bit of paper; after many, many false tries... The next pleasure is of reading it to your wife. She and I are my best audience, you see. I should say my main audience. After that, when the thing is published, I do imagine a number of people whom I like, whom I admire, with whom I feel close kinship. It is nice to think that those people are reading that, perhaps at this very instant. But that's about all. I don't care about the general public.

"Who knew Rolling Stone was the magazine for dreamboat terrorist cover boys?"

"Should rename it Tamil Tiger Beat."

ADDED: Back on May 16th, I wrote:
"Look at this Boston bombing. The pictures of those two brothers. Aren’t they cute?"

Said I, as quoted in The New Yorker today in a piece by Paul Bloom called "The Dzhokar Tsarnaev Empathy Problem." I was being sarcastic and criticizing the media for using a strikingly baby-faced picture of Tsarnaev in practically every report.

"The young men I knew in that fraternity did not strike me as the hyper-sexualized testosterone containers that articles like this basically imply they are."

Writes Marc Tracy in TNR (referring to that big NYT article "Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too.") Tracy continues:
Some had girlfriends; some wanted them; some didn’t. Sometimes, it is true, they just wanted (or claimed just to want) to get some. They watched lots of Pardon the Interruption. A few were probably gay. (The heteronormativity of the “women’s story” is another subject entirely.) I am positive that at various times some felt uncomfortable walking under the imprecation to “Play Like a Champion Today,” and felt pressured to do just that, and felt ashamed at failing. My anecdotal evidence admittedly dates back several years; other than that, it is exactly as authoritative as the evidence the article marshals.

Kate Taylor, the article’s author, said Tuesday that she did interview some men, though not as many and not as rigorously, and that an earlier draft of the article poured all of those quotes into one section, which then got cut. “Obviously what men want and how men feel is a critical part of the picture, and in my fantasies it might have been a pair of articles, but that wasn’t possible,” she lamented.
In her fantasies, she wanted a pair. Grow a pair.

Now, why wasn't it possible? I'm guessing this kind of journalism is food for women, and men won't stomach this kind of quote fest of fussing over sex without relationships. The women in Taylor's article acted like they were up for no frills sex, but all this blabbering is the frilliness, and it's for the ladies. You may not have a relationship with your sex partner, but you're talking and reading about whatever it is you're doing outside of the time spent doing it. That is a relationship (of sorts). It's even a dysfunctional relationship. So let's talk all about it... for 5,000 NYT Magazine words and 800 comments.

"I understand the value of free speech zones, and I respected that, and I respected you for providing it, while at the same time not thinking that I wouldn't want to wade in there."

Another reader emails about the closing of the comments section at Althouse. Here's the full text:

Does anyone in the Bible ever say "hello"?

It's all translation, if it's in English, and "hello" is a pretty recent English word. (The OED puts its earliest use in the year 1827.) I spent some time with the various translations at BibleGateway, and I found at least one that has "hello" — the Contemporary English Version, within which "hello" appears exactly twice:
Job 17:14 Then I could greet the grave as my father and say to the worms, “Hello, mother and sisters!”

Matthew 26:49 Judas walked right up to Jesus and said, “Hello, teacher.” Then Judas kissed him.
Great material! Job and Judas come across as a couple of darkly edgy comedians.

Why was I looking for "hello" in the Bible? I got caught up — after writing this post — in the meaning of "hail" in "Hail Mary." I was puzzling over whether or not there should be a comma between "hail" and "Mary," which I was reading to mean basically "Hello, Mary." But the Contemporary English Version of the Bible doesn't use "Hello, Mary" in the relevant verse (which is Luke 1:28). (It has: "The angel greeted Mary and said, 'You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.'")

A common alternative word for "hail" in that verse is "rejoice." I'm also seeing "Greetings!" which seems pretty close to Hello. I thought about other uses of "hail." Meade — who grew up in West Lafayette, home of Purdue — brought up "Hail Purdue." That made me, an alumna of the University of Michigan, think of "Hail! to the victors valiant." And then there's "Hail to the Chief" and "Hail to thee, blithe spirit!" (beginning Shelley's "To a Skylark").

What does "hail" mean beyond "hello"?

"Heil Hitler" is translated as "Hail Hitler." It's not "Hello Hitler," which seems edgily absurd. You could sing it to the tune of "Hello, Dolly," which has a comma, I might note, unlike Hello Kitty.

When Mitch Daniels took aim at Howard Zinn.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:
In a message sent on February 9, 2010, [Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the governor of Indiana at the time, now president of Purdue University], asked top state education officials for assurance that the works of Howard Zinn, the longtime Boston University historian and political activist, were not "in use anywhere in Indiana."
Zinn had died less than 2 weeks earlier.
"This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away," Mr. Daniels wrote, referring to Mr. Zinn. "The obits and commentaries mentioned his book 'A People's History of the United States' is the 'textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country.' It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?"
It seems low to kick the man just when he dies, but Daniels admits to picking up the information about the "execrable" book from the obituaries, which makes the timing less mean and just ignorant.

"Oh my my my.... leave the comments turned OFF. Please. I wasn't sure at first..."

"... but reading and thinking about what Althouse has to say without the clamorous din of too many commenters yelling about what they thought she'd said (I know I know I didn't have to read them) is so much better. The vlog was delightful. It was past time for some of the commenters to be stopped from using the comment section to fight, bicker, converse with, and insult each other and honestly with Althouse's type of post, commenters [would] sometimes distract from the message. I'll miss Freeman Hunt and a few others, but maybe they'll start their own blog someday. Maybe some of the others won't."

Email from one reader.

And here's another, from a different reader (hot link added):

Still #1.

In the Law Prof Blog Traffic Rankings.

Covering all blogs written by lawprofs that have a displayed Site Meter.

There were 19,274,484 page views in the July '12 to June '13 period, up +13.1% from the previous year. Thanks for stopping by!

July 16, 2013

"Hey, Zeus!"

The story of a man and a stand-up kayak and a dog named Zeus... and the way you say "Hey, Zeus" and it sounds like a Spanish "Jesus" and the light breaks through the clouds and we are all blessed.

"Holder blasts 'stand your ground' after Zimmerman verdict."

What nonsense! Let me translate: Holder wants relief from the pressure to prosecute Zimmerman, so he's shifting to a topic that has nothing to do with Zimmerman but that low-information people think has to do with Zimmerman. (Zimmerman was pinned down before he decided his life was on the line, and he had no route of escape.)

And, yes, I know Holder is also talking about investigating the Zimmerman matter. But "investigating" is code. As we saw with Benghazi, it means: We're hoping that if enough time passes, you'll forget about it.

This is all so thoroughly lame. But at the same time: It's a very powerful person speaking dishonestly and threateningly about the exercise of power. What a disgusting combination.

I told you this 3 weeks ago, but Drudge flashes it today: Rachel Jeantel says she warned Trayvon Martin that Zimmerman could be a gay rapist.



Drudge has the transcript of last night's Piers Morgan interview on CNN:
MORGAN: You felt that there was no doubt in your mind from what Trayvon was telling you on the phone about the creepy ass cracka and so on, that he absolutely believed that George Zimmerman, this man, you didn't know who he was at the time, but this man, was pursuing him?

JEANTEL: Yes.

MORGAN: And he was freaked out by it?

JEANTEL: Yes. Definitely after I say may be a rapist, for every boy, for every man, every -- who's not that kind of way, seeing a grown man following them, would they be creep out?... And people need to understand, he didn't want that creepy ass cracker going to his father or girlfriend's house to go get -- mind you, his little brother was there. You know -- now, mind you, I told you -- I told Trayvon it might have been a rapist." 
Here's my post from June 27th, with embedded video from Jeantel's testimony. I said (boldface added):
You assume that there's no way he'd say "cracker" if he didn't see him as white? But he didn't say "cracker." He said "creepy ass cracker." I understand the use of "ass" as an intensifier connected to the adjective "creepy." Creepy-ass cracker, as in very creepy cracker.

But "ass" could go with "cracker" — "ass-cracker." The conversation continued, according to Jeantel: "So... he told me the man was looking at him, so I had to think it might have been a rapist."
Why rapist? A man raping a man? How common is that as a fear? But it was the first thing Jeantel thought to say after he said creepy-ass cracker/creepy ass-cracker. The term "ass cracker" could easily mean a man who rapes a man, especially one who goes after a teenaged boy....

The word "creepy" makes special sense if you reinterpret the "ass" to go with "cracker." Martin said a man was following him, looking at him. He might have thought Zimmerman was a man out looking for sex and was watching him for that reason. What conversations had Martin had in the past with Jeantel about worries of this kind. She "had to think it might have been a rapist."...

Why didn't Martin take Jeantel's advice and run home? The rapist/ass-cracker theory makes sense of Martin's decision to go after Zimmerman. If he saw Zimmerman as a sexual predator, he might think confrontation was a good idea or even an important step: These creeps in the neighborhood need to know that I'm not their prey. It's not enough to run inside daddy's house. My manhood must be established here and now or I can't walk free around here anymore.
Call out the gay rights activists. In this interpretation, it was a gay-bashing!

ADDED: Thanks to Irene for nudging me to post this. It was right there in the testimony, and the defense lawyers — who were pretty astute about hearing cues and following up — missed this.

In the Conversation-About-Grace Cathedral...

Untitled

... voices are heard.

"She talks kinda lazy/And people say she she's crazy/And her life's a mystery..."

"Oh, but Love grows where my Rosemary goes/And nobody knows like me...."

At Meadhouse this morning, we danced to "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" right after we said our "Hail, Mary"... Hail Mary, full of (a conversation about) grace....

"Why are black boys expendable?" is the heartwrenching question on the front page at the Washington Post.


But when I click through the link, I just find a column (by Eugene Robinson) that portrays the verdict in the George Zimmerman case to mean: "Our society considers young black men to be dangerous, interchangeable, expendable, guilty until proven innocent."

Legally, that makes no sense. If Trayvon Martin were on trial for beating up George Zimmerman and had argued that he acted in self-defense, the jury would have had to view Zimmerman as guilty until proven innocent. I'm sure Robinson knows that, which is why he said "Our society considers" instead of sticking to the confines of court procedure, even as he appropriated the legal lingo of burden of proof.

If the legal doctrine that governed the jury's decision-making precludes the interpretation that the jury found Trayvon Martin to be dangerous, interchangeable, and expendable, what is the basis for the assertion that our society considers young black men to be dangerous, interchangeable, expendable? Robinson's next sentence is "This is the conversation about race that we desperately need to have — but probably, as in the past, will try our best to avoid."

Okay, let me attempt that conversation, Mr. Robinson.

What is the sight of one hand hidden? The zen koan of a NYT headline.

I'm getting a late start this morning. Only yesterday — ah, yesterday! — I had my first post up at 6:21. It contained the memorable Drudge headline "Big Sis Wants to See Under Your Clothes." Today, the blog didn't get going until 8:45 (and that's Central Time). If I wanted a cover story — a story that you can't see under even with your National Surveillance X-Ray Robot Eyes — I'd say I needed to meditate for hours upon encountering — on the front page of the NYT — the equivalent of the old what is the sound of one hand clapping? zen koan.
Having achieved oneness, what is its sound? In other words, how does it reverberate? How does it go out into the world and function? If we're just being "one" with our own hand, what have we accomplished? If it's all about our own private experience, it's nothing but a hand job!
Are you ready now for the headline? It's: "In Second Term, Obama Is Seen as Using 'Hidden Hand’ Approach."

If it's a hidden hand, how is it seen? Some unnamed entity/entities are seeing, but they are hidden by the hidden hand of the headline writer using the passive voice. The passive voice is evidence of the unseen hand of another hand job for President Obama.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
The leaves of the newspaper are trembling with the wind that passes through, and thus do we "see" the unseen. But what is this wind? The underlying article, written by Peter Baker begins like this:

"America needs to have a national conversation about grace."

Said Meade.

July 15, 2013

"Brevity is a big factor for me in a stand-alone joke. To get a laugh with the fewest number of words possible."

"Which is why 'Take my wife, please' is such a great joke. The closest I’ve ever come is probably 'The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw.'"

Amanda Hess advises the NYT on how it should have done that big article the "hookup culture" in colleges.

She's got tips like: "Look outside the Ivies." Look outside the Ivies? The NYT is widening the perspective when it looks outside of Harvard. They went to the University of Pennsylvania. Isn't that enough?

"Couple on the way to Dave Matthews concert pick up hitchhiker - only to discover he IS Dave Matthews."

He was hitchhiking — to his own concert — because he had a flat tire and no cell phone.

Nuance!



A clip from 2009, out of context, presented on the occasion of today's use of the "nuance" tag, one of my all-time favorite tags on this blog.

I think it's fun to take things out of context, and fun to put them back in. Another example is in yesterday's vlog, where I was answering questions from readers. I threw in the line "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." I saw over at Lem's place, where some of my former commenters have congregated, that at least one aggrieved commenter assumed I was mad as hell at the commenters. I'll show you the actual context in a few minutes.

Obama rhetoric on sexual assault in the military may constitute "unlawful command influence."

He said defendants should be "prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged."
In at least a dozen sexual assault cases since the president’s remarks at the White House in May, judges and defense lawyers have said that Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to “unlawful command influence,” tainting trials as a result. Military law experts said that those cases were only the beginning and that the president’s remarks were certain to complicate almost all prosecutions for sexual assault...

In his comments on sexual assault, Mr. Obama said, “I expect consequences.”
James Taranto quips: "He got consequences all right."

ADDED: The Godfather emails:
In the military I personally never got above O-3 (Captain), but I've known some very (and fairly) high-ranking officers, and it's clear as glass that many officers would be influenced by what the President said.  When you are up for promotion to general or flag rank (i.e., general or admiral), or have that rank and are looking for another star/stripe, you don't want somebody saying, He let that master sergeant who screwed the corporal off with a reprimand, when he should have thrown him in the stockade and then dishonorably discharged the pig, like the President said he/she should. The guys/gals that figure they'll retire at O-6 (Colonel or (Navy/Coast Guard) Captain) and are almost there, can probably tell the President (figuratively) to kiss-off, but the pressure on those who aspire to the higher ranks to conform to a publicly-stated political policy of the C-in-C is often irresistible.

The "obesity gene," FTO.

"People have two copies of the FTO gene - one from each parent - and each copy comes in a high and a low-risk form. Those with two-high risk copies of the FTO gene are thought to be 70% more likely to become obese than those with low-risk genes."

"It's very appealing, the idea of writing under a pseudonym."

"Realistically... I have to pay [journalists] the tribute of saying that my chances of getting away with that are incredibly remote... now."

The book she got away with writing under a pseudonym — long enough, at least, to get excellent reviews — is "The Cuckoo's Calling."

MORE: Here:
There is a long history of authors changing their names. In 1984, Doris Lessing said she wanted to escape "from the cage of my literary reputation" when she began writing under the pen name Jane Somers. She did not reveal Somers's true identity to her British publisher, who rejected the manuscript. The book did find a publisher, but sold only 2,000 hardback copies.

Mandatory quotas for women on corporate boards.

Proposed, in Europe.

The Zimmerman case "has been miscast as a civil rights issue since the day the Martin family's lawyers came on the scene."

Says TalkLeft.
If the public wants to... believe them, that's their right. If they want to bring civil lawsuits against George Zimmerman or law enforcement or public entities, that's their choice. But when it comes to those lawyers and their public relations team using their bully pulpit to inflame passions and exert undue influence on the actions of law enforcement and public officials, including elected prosecutors, who have a duty not to bring charges without a good faith belief they can prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt, all the while having a financial stake in the outcome of related civil litigation, I object.
Much more at the link.

"I guarantee, if you home school your kids for eight hours a day every day, they’ll be in college at age 12, too."

So says a mother, presenting a conundrum: I'd be inclined to say that you can't make such a huge inference based on the experience within your own family, since you don't know what part of the achievement is based on the teaching method and what part is the skill of the parent and the inherited ability of these children. And yet if the skill of the parent and inherited ability are an important part of the daughters' achievement, why does the mother lapse into this huge inference and make a grossly unsupported guarantee?

"Dr. Sweo admits to using the phrase 'ghetto booty,' but says he does not believe it was offensive."

"What I was trying to explain to that patient is that she has lumbar lordosis, which is a fancy name for the curve of the lower spine that makes the buttocks protrude more... In trying to explain that I said that she had ghetto booty, and she didn’t like that apparently. That was my attempt to explain why she had the back problem.... I think I do understand why her feelings were hurt but I don’t understand what’s offensive about it."

Reports The Daily News.

"Gov. Walker is a delight. He's friendly, warm, genuine, down to earth. I called him Mitch v.2.0 last night."

"He's a regular dude trying to make his state and his country a better place.  He spoke totally extemporaneously, without notes or a teleprompter, and we were riveted.  He spoke about the GOP's direction, its missteps in the 2012 election,  and what it needs to do going forward.  He spoke about three things specifically:  optimism, relevance, and courage."

Say Chicks on the Right, via The Cap Times.

"I don't feel like going on at length about the tenth anniversary of 'About Last Night' precisely because it is still here, a fixed point on the horizon of cyberspace."

Writes Terry Teachout.
I do, however, want to point you to a few of my favorite postings. Some of them are about art, others about life, most about the intersection between the two. All are personal, most very much so. 
Example from 2003:
As I sat down to lunch today at Good Enough to Eat, my Upper West Side hangout, I heard a familiar sound floating over the purr of conversation. Buzzy, keening, coolly anguished...sure enough, it was Miles Davis playing "All Blues," the best-known cut from the most popular album in the history of jazz, Kind of Blue....

"One Star Yelp Reviews Of Strip Clubs."

Example:
What we saw was... something else. A drugged-out looking dancer in a white thong, white athletic socks, and white sneakers marching in place on a lighted platform. Just marching, marching. Sometimes he would lift his stiff arms and make grabby hands at the old dudes watching him. The best part was the CD player was broken, so "Don't Cha?" by the Pussycat Dolls played on repeat. Marching, marching, marching.
So that's an example of what you'll find collected at One Star Yelp Reviews Of Strip Clubs, and One Star Yelp Reviews Of Strip Clubs is an example of the kind of blog that be made by mining one category of material that's buried in the internet, waiting for someone to lay claim to it.

"The University of California... regents opted for a political hack of no academic merit whatsoever."

"Their pick, Janet Napolitano, has presided over one disaster after another at the Department of Homeland Security."
There's every reason to think Napolitano would bring what was once considered the world's finest public university system to a new low. Her record at Homeland Security was a series of failures, stemming from a slavish devotion to her boss in the White House and an adherence to political correctness.
And they could have had Condoleezza Rice.

Greenwald has his own definition of what is harmful to Americans and our security.

And it doesn't include what is harmful to the U.S. government:
“In order to take documents with him that proved that what he was saying was true he had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do,” Greenwald said in Brazil...

Greenwald told The AP... it “would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”

Despite their sensitivity, Greenwald said he didn’t think that disclosure of the documents would prove harmful to Americans or their national security.

“I think it would be harmful to the U.S. government, as they perceive their own interests, if the details of those programs were revealed,” said [Greenwald]....
Note the distinction between the American people and our government. Something that is admittedly seriously damaging to the government — as it follows its approach to national security — is not harmful to the people at all, because Greenwald and Snowden have figured out for us what is good for us. Never mind that we didn't vote for them and the government is the product of democracy.

"She approached in a knit white top and navy-blue business skirt, her dark, almost black hair down to her shoulders."

"She wore bright-red lipstick, which gave her lips a 3-D look, her brown eyes were pools of empathy evolved through a thousand generations of what was good and decent in the history of the human race."

#1 on a list of "The Four Silliest/Creepiest Huma Abedin Descriptions in 'New York' Magazine's Weiner Piece," compiled by Isaac Chotiner, at The New Republic, who says "Abedin always gets good press, but this piece takes it to a new level." But it's not true that "Abedin always gets good press." Chotiner's wrong about that. And the selected lines from the New York piece (which is written by Mark Jacobson) are so gloriously absurd, that they must be intentional satire and not a new level of good press, so Chotiner must also be wrong about that. I'm giving the win to Jacobson, and I haven't even read his article yet. It's a tad early on a Monday for that. Here's one pull quote:
If it was a mystery why Huma Abedin decided Anthony Weiner was the man for her, there were clear practical reasons to stay with him. It was far more than the fact that she worked for Hillary, learned the haute Tammy Wynette drill from the best. Weiner was, after all, the father of her child. If the candidate didn’t want Jordan to grow up hearing how the naughty pictures had ended his father’s political career, why should his mother feel any differently? Then again, they could just love each other.
I suspect that by the time Jordan is grown up, he and all the young people he knows will be sending photos of themselves in their underpants as the normal friendly way to say "hello." What will be hard — hard — to explain is why his father had to resign from elected office for such a thing. Why didn't Huma leave him? Maybe it was to say to the people of the future — including her grown-up child — that she knew, even back in the old days, that sexting is trifling, and the only real infraction was the husband idly flirted with other women. Who resigns from Congress or gets divorced over that?

The top 12 "Big Sis" banners from Drudge.

Assembled in honor of Napolitano's departure as Secretary of Homeland Security. My favorite is #12:

July 14, 2013

I answer questions from readers.

Thanks for sending in some questions, as requested earlier (here). The topics range from whether the feds will prosecute Zimmerman to 6 yes-or-no questions about ending the comments section.



ADDED: This video makes me look really sunburned. In addition to using sunscreen all the time, I guess I need to adjust the color on the videos.

Homemade bitters.

"Now, bartenders across the country are experimenting with these bittersweet infusions."
Mallett, a chef at the Black Trumpet Bistro, is collecting medicinal herbs, which he infuses in alcohol to make his own bitters, a bittersweet alcoholic concentrate used to flavor cocktails.

Mallett says he often forages in the woods for ingredients like wild chamomile, dock and burdock root for his bitters, too.
This sounds vaguely dangerous... the stuff of mystery novels.

"At the Bar Meet Every New Woman as If She Was..."

"... a Fond Ex-Girlfriend That You Haven’t Seen for Quite Awhile, and You Are Just Happy For This Opportunity to Wish Her Well."

A post found at the blog of betamax3000, who commented here in the days when there were comments and whose blog I have added to the blogroll.

Parsing Obama's statement on the occasion of the Zimmerman verdict.

Here's the text:
The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.
Comments:

1. This is a measured and fairly bland statement. Obama sounds like a mild-mannered pastor.

2.  The word "passion" — which appears in the 3rd and 4th sentences — takes the place of more violence-related words like "anger" or "outrage." He acknowledges and manages the emotion.

3. In sentences #5 and #6, he counters emotion with intellect. First, respect the rule of law and the legal system. And second, respect Martin's parents, who have called for calm reflection. Think, calmly and rationally.

4. There's advice about what we should do to move forward. It's not to brood over the past, but to do positive things for people who are still alive. (I thought of Lincoln's "It is for us the living...")

5. Looking toward the future, Obama draws our focus to "gun violence," which is a standard move for him (used after the Tucson massacre and the Sandy Hook massacre). That's the specific substantive issue he flags.

6. There is no mention of race. The closest he comes is in the idea of "widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities." There's a slight suggestion that some of us are insular, within "circles" or "communities," which could be understood as our racial groups, but you have to stretch to say that. (Similarly, there's "any one community" in sentence #2.)

"Prediction: the Zimmerman verdict will lead to amendments to penal codes across the country to make it easier for prosecutors to win convictions..."

"... causing even more blacks to be incarcerated."

Vlog alert.

I'm going to do a little vlog, maybe later today, where I'll respond to email. Ask me some good questions, and I'll select a few for response. This is something I used to do years ago. Perhaps some of you might remember. I thought it would be fun to try it again.

(Click here to email. Put "vlog" in the subject line.)

Okay, that's 3 hilarious videos.

You may now go back to thinking about George Zimmerman, the nonriots, the nefarious media, and how Obama's leading everything from behind.

Alternatively, enjoy your Sunday afternoon.

Boring! I don't have time for this. Can't we just montage it?

"Nobody wants to wear pants... but it's just the way the world works... so..."

Please do not drink the antifreeze, coolant and — especially — the liquid nitrogen...

... as you beat the heat:

High-heels for biking.

At first, it seems stupid, but:
The Merrell design team includes cyclists from Montreal, one of the early bike-share cities. One of their epiphanies was that high heels are built like cycling shoes. Flexibility diminishes pedaling power, Mr. Throne said. “So for all practical purposes, the best shoe that you can have from a commuter standpoint is a woman’s heel. It’s stiff from heel to toe.”
Here's an example of the shoes in the Evera line, designed for women biking to work. It's not going to satisfy women who want to look really chic, but it would be perfectly fine for teaching a law school class and other kinds of indoor work where you're sort of dressed up, but not amongst very judgmental people.

"A protestor in Oakland throws a trash can at a window in the wake of the verdict."

At a window. I guess it didn't break or we'd have a picture of that. And how do I even know that isn't a posed picture? Amazing that the AP photographer was right there as the trashcan hurler was in the fully extended position and the can was arcing vividly at the window with papers photogenically flying backward across the arc. How do I know the protester/"protester" didn't aim right at the metal frame between those windows to make sure there'd be no real damage? Interesting that he's bundled up in such warm clothing on a summer night.

And look at this guy and his sign:



The image of ineffectuality. I love the ellipsis in "Geoge [sic] Zimmerm..." It's like: Ah, you know the rest. Zimmerm...

The photographers went out prowling the streets, to track down young black men who they expected to find committing crimes. Isn't that ironic? And look what they found — this old guy with his "Zimmerm..." sign and the trashcan hurler?

ADDED: The trashcan at the window photograph is so: Hey, could you do that trashcan through the window thing like Mookie in "Do the Right Thing"?

Did Zimmerman gain all that weight to aid in his post-acquittal disguise?

Watching the verdict announcement last night, I thought: If it's not guilty, he can just walk away... except he can't. He has no further business with this court — as the judge put it — but he has the task of finding a way to move forward into the rest of his life, which includes so much hostility — death threats and all — from people he cannot identify, while he is stuck with a famous face.

"I wish Ann would make the dating clear regarding her BloggingHeads conversation with Bob Wright."

"If that conversation happened over the last few weeks it would seem to me prima facie evidence that Bob is either being willfully obtuse, or else he's really, really NOT paying attention."

So writes a reader in email about my post last night, where I introduced the Bloggingheads clip with this sentence:
And I said a lot of what I wanted to say back on March 31, 2012, in this diavlog with Bob Wright — resisting the political exploitation and excessive emotion around the case...
Back on March 31, 2012... How clear am I supposed to be?!

I'm posting about this now to make a point about the problem of comments and the benefits of going forward without them. I continually faced criticisms and demands for clarifications like that one, and it took energy to respond or to resist responding. That energy could have gone into reading new material and putting up new posts. I had comments for 9 years, and I estimate that I've spent over 3,000 hours concentrating on handling that sort of thing. That's really the equivalent of 2 years on a full-time job.

I find that shocking.

"[On 'Glee,' Cory] Monteith played Finn Hudson, an Ohio high-school student and football star who, initially..."

"... has no interest in joining that school’s struggling glee club for fear it will cost him his popularity and social standing. But once drawn into the singing squad, Finn became a crucial member, sharing vocal duties on its signature cover of Journey’s 'Don’t Stop Believin'...."

All the hope and wholesomeness that TV show means to embody and now Cory Monteith is found dead in a hotel room in Canada. He had what the obit calls "substance abuse problems." He was 31.

ADDED: "Cory Montieth: The Song He Was Listening to 'Basically on Repeat' Before He Died." You can listen to the song at the link, and I bet you'll think of the same joke that 80% of the people who listen to it will almost surely make.

Should Obama "call for calm after the Zimmerman acquittal"?

Over at Breitbart, Joel B. Pollak is blaming Obama for "amplif[ying] the racial element of the case" by saying "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon" and "fanning the flames of outrage and division--arguably, in an election-year attempt to drive voter turnout." He says:
Following the verdict, with rallies and protests being held across the nation, and the NAACP and Al Sharpton vowing to take matters further, the President might be expected to remind the nation of the importance of the rule of law and respect for the judicial process....
But as of early Sunday morning, with the country on edge, the White House had yet to issue any statement.
1. Is the country really "on edge"? Ironically, saying that is fanning the flames of outrage and division. How about waiting to see some sign of this edginess before expecting the President to advise calm?

2. If, without evidence of edginess, the President were to call for calm, it would imply that people don't know how to handle disappointment and emotional pain, that they descend into irrational, harmful activity. That implication is itself racial stereotyping.

3. I can see that Pollak resisted advising Obama to counsel black people not to riot, which would be the most egregious example of the problem I've cited in point #2, above. He says Obama should issue a reminder about the rule of law and the judicial process, but even that would be to say: I think you people might lack the self-control and intelligence to grasp the most basic fundamentals of the society we all live in. That's patronizing, and it relies on a racial stereotype that shouldn't be fed.

4. So I see no problem in Obama's silence. No statement in the face of no rioting is a whole lot of nothing of the very best kind. Have the perception to give credit for The Good Nothing. Some folks like to call Obama "Zero." Sometimes zero is the best number. Think of all the things we might try to count and feel delighted to find zero.

5. Obama's original statement in March 2012 — "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon" — should be remembered accurately, not for the way that it was used and is being used now by Joel B. Pollak. Obama didn't choose to go out and talk about the case. He was silent until he was asked about it. And what he said was measured and careful. Here's what I said at the time, which ends with "To my ear, his words have a calming, moderating effect, but we don't all hear him the same way, I've noticed time and again." [ADDED: Pollak's piece links to that post of mine for the proposition that the question was planted, but all I said was "he knew [the question] would be asked or at least anticipated it. (At most: his people planted it.)"]

6. If Obama were to speak, whatever he said would be exploited race hucksters and the Obama-haters alike. I think it's just fine for Obama to deprive these shit-stirrers of raw material.

7. Before hitting the publish button, I double checked a couple news sites to see if the predicted riots had broken out. Anyone who's disappointed at the lack of action should be ashamed.