December 17, 2005

The top 10 ad icons.

From AdAge. (Via Drawn!) Wait! Where is Mr. Peanut? I can't accept this list!

The stars are always grimacing in photographs.

Why not develop the talent of imitating those grimaces? This man is really quite brilliant, I think.

George Bush's Year in Review.

From JibJab. (Via Meatriarchy.) You'll have to sit through a (cute) ad, but it's well worth it.

The magazine I subscribe to but never seem to open.

Just now, I linked to a piece in The New Yorker. I found it because it was cited by a commenter in the earlier post about the Pamuk trial. But the current issue of The New Yorker has been sitting on the table in front of me for days. I subscribe to The New Yorker, but lately I haven't even been opening it. I have a stack of unread issues here. You'd think, with all the cartoons, I'd at least flip through. Why did I care enough to subscribe, only to shun it so now.

One problem is the covers. What? Aren't the covers beautifully done? They are nicely drawn, but lately, nearly every one is anti-Bush commentary. This week's cover especially annoys me. We see an American solder, sitting on a cot, next to a concrete wall. He's got an exaggeratedly sad look on his face as he reads a card. The card has a picture of a Christmas tree. On the soldier's wall is the shape of a Christmas tree composed of hundreds of hatch marks made with a green Crayola crayon. That is, this soldier, a man who volunteered and is fighting for what he has every reason to believe is a noble cause, sits around looking monumentally depressed because he is not home for Christmas and has time to be sentimental enough about Christmas that he has been spending the whole year making the image of a Christmas tree on the wall. In the world of The New Yorker, the war is just a big, sorry mistake, and our soldiers have nothing but regret.

Let's see, do I feel like reading what the folks who chose that cover decided to put inside?

Turkish ironies: the Orhan Pamuk trial.

Yesterday, I wrote about the trial of Orhan Pamuk, and today, I see the trial has been put on hold. Perhaps the irony impressed the court: putting a writer on trial for damaging the image of the country damages the image of the country. Yet Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems irony deaf when he complains:
"The EU at the moment is trying to put our judiciary under pressure ... Rightly or wrongly, the issue is in the courts.

"My views concerning freedom of expression are well known," he said. "I am a person who was a victim of a freedom of expression case."

Erdogan served four months in jail in 1999 for reciting what the courts deemed to be an inflammatory poem interpreted as being anti-secular. Turkey is a staunchly secular state.
Here's a collection of different opinons about the Pamuk trial in the Turkish newspapers.

The current New Yorker has a piece about the trial, written by Pamuk himself (and translated by Maureen Freely, who, I take it translated freely):
Comforted as I was by the interest in my predicament and by the generous gestures of support, there were also times when I felt uneasy about finding myself caught between my country and the rest of the world.

The hardest thing was to explain why a country officially committed to entry in the European Union would wish to imprison an author whose books were well known in Europe, and why it felt compelled to play out this drama (as Conrad might have said) “under Western eyes.” This paradox cannot be explained away as simple ignorance, jealousy, or intolerance, and it is not the only paradox. What am I to make of a country that insists that the Turks, unlike their Western neighbors, are a compassionate people, incapable of genocide, while nationalist political groups are pelting me with death threats? What is the logic behind a state that complains that its enemies spread false reports about the Ottoman legacy all over the globe while it prosecutes and imprisons one writer after another, thus propagating the image of the Terrible Turk worldwide?

Owning the slur.

It's all the rage. Check the "uh-oh" update.

Theft, in the very grand style.

Take this:

It's 11 feet long, weighs 2.1 "tonnes" and is worth $5.3 million. What are you going to do with it? Squirrel it away in some billionaire's atrium? Melt it down to hide your crime?

"Aw man. We're not astronauts. We're just asses."

How was that reality show where they tricked people into thinking they were sent up in space?

Thinking about going to the movies.

Look at how this silly man is outraged that I talk about movies when I haven't seen them. It would be a nice advantage for the folks who make movies if they could get people to believe that it was inappropriate to talk until you'd paid up and wasted your time. I think a key skill in modern life is figuring out which movies to avoid. Well, why don't I just keep my thoughts to myself? I'm a blogger: we display our thought patterns in real time. If you aren't interested, don't read. Really, why is that silly man upset? Does he have a financial interest in the movie? Or is he some fanboy who really, really wants Peter Jackson to succeed?

Occasionally, I actually put three hours of my precious life into movie-viewing. Usually, it's not worth it, even though I rarely do it and am highly selective. Having something bloggable does create a little additional value, but trotting out an actual movie review, MSM-style, doesn't interest me much. If I were paid to do it, I'd put in the effort needed to find new ways to say "X gave a great performance" and "the plot was confusing" and so forth.

All that said, I am giving a tiny bit of thought to seeing a movie today and blogging about it. Here's what's playing in Madison. Actually reading that list reduced my interest in going to the movies about 80%. The only one I really want to see is "Capote," but I don't know that I want to see it in the theater, especially the crap theater where it's playing. Then there are some that I think I've heard are -- in the inevitable cliché -- "supposed to be good"? "The Squid and the Whale"? Well, what the hell is it? I'd have to do some research to have any idea. What a drag! "The Family Stone"? The clip looked good when Sarah Jessica Parker was on "The Daily Show" the other day. But have I heard that it's "supposed to be bad"? I can't remember. Again, research is required! "King Kong"? You know how I feel about that. I'm just not that into nostril-gazing.

I spend much of the day staring at a screen already. For diversion, why look at another screen? There is that famous real world that I've heard so much about. I could go out there.

BONUS QUESTIONS, thought up on rereading this post: What actress has the most beautiful nostrils? How much harder is that question to answer than what actress has the most beautiful eyes or the most beautiful lips? There's a reason it's harder: you don't really want to look at nostrils, even on a beautiful face. Sometimes you get an actress who does too much nostril acting. You know, that flaring and re-flaring. Once you start noticing it, the performance becomes comic. Can you think of any actresses or actors who belong to the nostril-flaring school of drama? Any examples of an actor or actress that does nostril-flaring spoofily, for deliberate comic effect? And can someone clue me in on how much Peter Jackson's Kong goes in for nostril-flaring. Nostrils, nostrils, nostrils. There, I've said it! I'm obsessed with nostrils. Nostrils are the body part of the week, here on the Althouse blog.

UPDATE: Can you believe it? The very next day I write an elaborate post about another movie I haven't seen. I'm starting to think that this actually is a specialty of mine -- check out my old posts on "Alexander" -- and I'm going to pursue it actively and intentionally now. I note too that some of my critics are perplexed about the nostril-focused material in this post. They really aren't understanding the unique mix of topics that is Althouse. The most flat-footedly pedestrian of these critics feel compelled to point out time and again that I am a law professor: in their regimented world, everyone is supposed to stay neatly on track, doggedly pursuing the matters of their occupational specialization. The dentist must blog about teeth, and the conlawprof about conlaw. How terribly dull! What grim little minds!

"Why does the first African-American 'Apprentice' have to come with controversy?"

Asks Les Haughton, the president of a consulting company that specializes in corporate diversity, talking about Randal Pinkett's win on "The Apprentice." Trump asked Randal if he ought to hire the other finalist, and Randal said no.
"None of the other winners were put in that position. So he's selfish; that's OK. Trump is selfish, too. Maybe that's what Donald wanted him to say, because he would have done the same thing."
Well, no, it's not what Donald wanted. But don't worry about Rebecca Jarvis. It can be better to be the runner-up. Ask Clay Aiken. And Aiken had to go into the "American Idol" starmaking machine even though he lost. Rebecca is free to collect job offers and to work on whatever terms and with whatever company she wants. And she's got a lot of leverage right now, more than she would have within the Trump Organization.

Motley Fool analyzes
Trump's decision not to hire Rebecca and makes a general observation about investment:
The audience... hated the decision. Booing was audible as Randal turned to acknowledge them. I agree, and not just because Randal backstabbed a colleague he said he respected. More importantly, I believe, Trump turned away serious talent that wanted badly to work for him. Sadly, though, such decisions are hardly uncommon. Investors do the same thing every single day.

Allow me to explain. When given a choice between several comparable and undervalued stocks, investors will inevitably opt for the one they believe is the best, even if the evidence suggests all of them could be major winners. It's easy to understand why. In our newsletters, our analysts confine themselves to no more than two picks each month.

That is not, however, how the best money managers treat their portfolios. They understand that it's fine to own or buy both Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), or any other host of good opportunities at a single point in time -- not just a choice pick or two.

That's where Trump went wrong last night. His either/or choice was arbitrary and unnecessary, and he hurt his organization as a result. Don't let that same mistake plague your portfolio.
But Trump's main concern isn't getting good people into his business through the show. It's doing a great show and using the show to boost his business. Offering the first position to Randal made sense for a number of reasons -- it was time we saw a black contestant win -- and putting the issue of a double hire to him was good TV. Having done that, Trump couldn't reject the advice of the man he'd just chosen. And this show isn't about making us feel warm and fuzzy. It's about brutally cutting people off. Yeah, one person does win (and then slide down a rathole into obscurity... unless his name is Bill). But the tagline of the show is "You're fired."

We love the show even as we see our favorites slammed down week after week, year after year. This weird ending got us all talking about the show again and created momentum for the next season. We're newly inspired with the feeling that wild things happen and beloved favorites can crash and burn at any moment. That's what's so fun, we think, we viewers at home who are vicariously living life in the cutthroat business world.

When the job interviewer says "I bet you make a great wife."

Either you're in the room with an outrageously clueless interviewer... or you're on a reality show:
Q: Once, when you were defending yourself in the boardroom, Trump interrupted you and said, "I bet you make a great wife." Although that never aired, did his comment bother you?

A: I was a little bit offended by that. (Later, off camera), I stopped him and said, "That day when I was in the boardroom, why did you say that?"

He looked at me and said, "Well, which are you: A good wife or a good businesswoman?"

I was flabbergasted. I said, "I'm both . . . I strive for balance."

He said, "This is great dialog. Let's get a camera in here." He has an agenda.
Inappropriate as Trump's question was, it made some sense, didn't it? A disturbing amount of sense, actually, don't you think?

December 16, 2005

Have you started Christmas shopping yet?

I haven't! Am I cutting it too close? I did manage to snag a Christmas tree last weekend, but the truth is, I've been very busy. Christmas can't be an onerous task that spreads out over into an entire month. Really, I see no reason for that. And, no, I'm not at "war" against Christmas. Remember Father Guido Sarducci's idea of "Little Christmas"?

IN THE COMMENTS: No one seems to remember "Little Christmas," and I try to explain.

A TiVo-assisted retrospective on the last 3 minutes of last night's "Apprentice."

When Randal hears he's hired, he stands up, smiling, and we see all the other players reacting. Alla is overjoyed and demonstrative, shimmying up to Randal to embrace him as he ambles over for a group hug. Trump, over at the boardroom table, is yelling, "Randal, Randal, hey, Randal, Randal, Randal, sit down for a second, I wanna ask your opinion." Trump presents the question: "If you were me, would you hire Rebecca also?"

Then we see Randal, smiling, looking down and thinking. Behind him, we see the players. Felicia is mouthing "no," and sweet Adam is clapping with pleasure. Markus is unmoved. Alla is shaking her head in a big no. Randal makes his hard statement that the show is called "The Apprentice," not "The Apprenti," so there must be only one. Is that uncreative or just greedy?

Felicia nods her big approval. Jenthura looks happy. Markus pouts. Adam folds his hands in his lap and purses his lips. Marshawn bows her head glumly.

Trump smirks and says "Okay, I'll leave it at that then. I think I could have been convinced, but you feel that's the way it should be. I'm gonna leave it that way. Congratulations." Rebecca, who's been smiling calmly, now shakes her head, mouths a word ("bad"?), and then nods. We overhear a technical person say "That's a floor spin," and the thumping closing music starts. Randal gets up and walks over to the audience triumphantly. Most of the people are conspicuously not giving him a standing ovation. We can hear Trump say "Did you like that?"

I think it's safe to say that Trump did not like that. I'd say he structured the ending feeling sure Randal would reach out to Rebecca, and it would be a surprising, heartwarming ending for the man with a dead grandma and the girl on crutches. Instead, the series ended with a sickening thud, and the newly chosen Apprentice -- whose job is basically P.R. for the Trump organization -- begins his reign with a P.R. disaster.

IN THE COMMENTS: My son Chris writes: "Mom: We do not hear a technical person say 'That's a floor spin.' We hear Rebecca say 'That's unfortunate.' It is unfortunate...
that you got that wrong."

AND: There are a lot of good comments here and in the earlier post on the final episode, here, including my own complaint about the way that Randal was always praised and not criticized for spending his young years pursuing 5 academic degree. And what was his multi-million dollar "consulting business"?

Snow football.

I hear shouting outside and imagine there must be a rally or a protest of some kind. I get up and look out my office window onto Bascom Hill and see these hardy guys playing football. It's a sunless, 20 degree day, and they've been out there for an hour now.

Snow Football

Snow Football

Snow Football

Snow Football

You remember the summer pictures of the hill, when it seemed as if nearly all the students were female?

Bascom Hill soap buttons duckies

That's not how it looks today!

IN THE COMMENTS: Some talk about playing football in the snow and the difference between men and women, and then chuckb notes that the tree seems to be dormant year round. That makes me check the date on the last photo and see that it's from April 18th, so the women are hardier than one might have thought! That photo, by the way, is my "most viewed" photo in Flickr. Why? Because it appeared in this post, with small versions of the photos and "click to enlarge" advice, the post got the Instapundit link that you see above, and the subject matter made people -- especially the people Glenn sent over? -- want to get a closer look. And when I refer to the subject matter, I mean the women, not the sprig of tree branch that caught chuckb's eye. And my heart goes out to any of my Civil Procedure students who are reading my blog on a hour before the exam starts and who just read the phrase "subject matter" twice -- now, three times -- and got a pang of anxiety thinking about subject matter jurisdiction. Good luck to all!

"In Islam, there is no place for feminism."

Asra Q. Nomani disagrees:
We Muslim feminists view it as a struggle that taps Islamic theology, thinking and history to reclaim rights granted to women by Islam at its birth but erased by manmade rules and tribal traditions masquerading as divine law....

To many, we are the bad girls of Islam. But we are not anti-sharia (Islamic law) or anti-Islam. We use the fundamentals of Islamic thinking — the Koran, the Sunnah, or traditions and sayings of the prophet Muhammad, and ijtihad, or independent reasoning — to challenge the ways in which Islam has been distorted by sharia rulings issued mostly by ultraconservative men.

What we are wrestling with are laws created in the name of Islam by men, specifically eight men. The Muslim world of the 21st century is largely defined by eight madhhabs, or Islamic schools of jurisprudence, with narrow rulings on everything from criminal law to family law: the Shafi, Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali schools in the majority Sunni sect; the Jafari and Zaydi schools, for the minority Shiite sect; and the Ibadi and Thahiri schools among other Muslims. But the first centuries of Islam's 1,400-year history were quite different — characterized by scores of schools of jurisprudence, many progressive and women-friendly. It is not Islam that requires women to wear a headscarf, but rather the scholars in the contemporary schools.

The trial of Orhan Pamuk.

Pankaj Mishra writes:
Mr. Pamuk is accused of a committing a crime by mentioning, in an interview with a Swiss newspaper, that "a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds" were killed in Turkey after World War I. The Armenian massacres are a widely documented fact. But it is an officially taboo subject in Turkey; and the government, nationalist political groups and press immediately joined in attacking Mr. Pamuk....

So what explains this latest Turkish assault on free speech? It won't do to blame religious extremists. Most of Mr. Pamuk's detractors belong to the political right wing, which in Turkey means that they are determined secularists. The prosecutor who instigated the legal proceedings belongs to a longstanding secular Turkish state that has cracked down on Muslim women wearing headscarves more harshly than has France.

"When Australian men do it to Australian women, it's O.K. When we do it, it's sleazy."

NYT on the riots in Australia.

The "bitter shrews."

Nipping at your ankle. How funny that you keep showing up in the comments to present said ankle for a good shrew gnaw!

UPDATE: This bitter shrew goes over there for a tasty bite of ankle.

UH-OH: Dennis the Peasant declares a logo contest. And, no, no, no, no, you don't want to look at the nominees. Not work safe!!

SORRY: I had the wrong link there for Dennis the Peasant. It's corrected now. I apologize to all who thought this was a picture of Dennis! Funny concept though!

December 15, 2005

"The Apprentice" -- the finale.

I'm really rather excited about the big finale show tonight. Predictions? Preferences?

UPDATE: (Spoiler!) Wow! I can't believe Randal demanded to be the only one when Trump put the question to him whether to hire a second apprentice and include Rebecca! The glory fell apart in an instant as he declined to be magnanimous and to recognize Rebecca, a 23-year-old woman of steel. Randal, you won and then you threw it all away!

IN THE COMMENTS: Lots of comments. Very little support for Randal.

MORE: I recap the last three minutes of the show in another post, here.

"The stupidest thing a genius ever said."

RLC is on Einstein's case. And the case of that truck driving lady with the inconsistent bumper stickers.

$10 billion class-action lawsuit thrown out of court.

"Light" cigarettes not a fraud.
A divided [Illinois] Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission specifically allowed companies to characterize their cigarettes as ''light'' and ''low tar,'' so Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris unit did not improperly mislead customers about the health impacts of its cigarettes.

''If the FTC has specifically authorized the use of the terms .... PM USA (Philip Morris) may not be held liable under the Consumer Fraud Act, even if the terms might be deemed false, deceptive or misleading,'' Justice Rita Garman wrote for the majority....

Smokers who wanted lighter flavor and less tar and nicotine could get that through its light brand, prominent attorney and former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson argued for Philip Morris. It wasn't the company's fault if a smoker negated any health benefits by taking deeper puffs or smoking more cigarettes, the company contended.

Baby thrown from burning building.


"We lost a lot during the last elections, but this time we will take our normal and key role in leading this country."

Heavy voter turnout in Iraq, including in the Sunni areas, where the value of participating seems to have made an impression.

"King Kong."

Have you seen it yet? I'm too busy even to have considered going to see it yesterday, but I was resistant to the idea anyway for several reasons. It's 3 hours long, and the prospect of getting bored is way too real. I don't like CGI, and the clips I've seen have especially bad CGI. I especially disliked shots of Kong jumping about weightlessly and of a herd of dinosaurs running straight at the camera. That the human beings can stand unharmed amid the stampede is not surprising: these things are insubstantial.

But Chris saw the movie yesterday and gave it a mixed review. It was too long. It takes an hour just to get to the island, with nothing much happening. Was Adrian Brody good? He had little to do. Was the CGI bad? The close up shots of Kong were great, but the long shots were not. Yeah, that's what I thought from the clips. Everything close up with Kong and Naomi Watts was really good. Naomi Watts was great. And the whole last hour was great.

Maybe I'll stop by and just see the last hour. It's not like I won't understand the story without the two hours of build-up, and that way I won't be stuck dying to leave and looking at my watch during the only part of the movie I have much chance of liking. But I'm not so sure I'll enjoy all those close ups as much as Chris did. I dislike big close ups, especially in CGI, and I already dislike the Kong face I've seen too many times in the magazines. It's so dominated by nose, that crinkly, creased, complicated nose. What's the point of staring into those nostrilly depths for an hour?

And why are his nostrils always so sparkling clean? Does being good somehow serve the same purpose as Kleenex? In movies where a monster is bad -- think "Aliens" -- it's festooned with strings of mucus. I'll bet there's never a trace of snot in those big gaping Kong nose holes.

UPDATE: And then there's the racism question. Does Kong represent a black man? Is there something about the way we live now that absolves the new Kong of that reading?

IN THE COMMENTS: A reader thinks it's "silly" for me to attack a movie I haven't seen. My disagreement includes the assertion that the guys who make movies don't deserve fairness.

MORE: For my response to a blogger who criticizes me for writing about a movie I haven't seen, go here.

"I got to smell the trees, feel the wind in my hair, grass under my feet, see the stars at night."

"It took me straight back to childhood being outside on a summer night." Sensitive guy. Too bad he didn't notice those simple pleasures back when it seemed like a good idea to murder his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

"He is struggling to make sure this is defined as a win whenever he gets out..."

".... so he's trying to keep the definition of victory to be something he can meet." So says Mara Rudman, who was a deputy national security adviser under President Bill Clinton. She's quoted in a WaPo piece that analyzes Bush's recent Iraq speeches. I like the way the quote (unwittingly) implies a corollary: The Democrats are struggling to make sure that, whatever happens, it will count as a loss for the President.

"We will talk to each other, and we will connect with each other, and we will weave the country together like a piece of cloth."

Voting in Iraq. Beautiful quote, isn't it? It's just something a retired mechanic said, which makes it even more beautiful, really. The encounter with democracy is so new, so deeply meaningful, that it moves the average person to speak poetry.

December 14, 2005

Martha's "Apprentice."

(Spoilers.) I guess those interviews were pretty boring because they spliced them all up and sped through them. It was obvious that Jim was going to be sent home, but then Bethenny brought him right back to be one of her three assistants for the final task, and damned if he wasn't the person with the most on the ball. Meanwhile, Bethenny seemed to be out of her mind, inventing a new task for herself that involved a lot of phone work, while ignoring the Big Apple Circus event she needed to run. Oh, and Carrie hates her and doesn't mind if the whole world knows. On the other team, Dawna seemed efficient and corporate, but rather boring (like those Liz Claiborne clothes she has to promote in a fashion show). If it weren't for Ryan's Howie's drinking and face-making, the whole Dawna side of the story would have been impossibly tedious.

UPDATE: That was Howie drinking himself foolish last night. Ryan drank too much last week. The plots are repetitive. Why is that, in a reality show? Is it that people are too much alike and only have so many tricks and foibles? Or are the producers, noticing the boring footage they're collecting, prodding contestants to do some outrageous things?

IN THE COMMENTS: We're speculating that, in a surprise ending, Jim becomes the Apprentice!

"I haven't got a job, nor am I healthy. And now they say I can't die. That's ridiculous."

Making it illegal to die.

Heavy snow.

Yesterday, I complained about the early darkness, and, in the comments, chuck b said:
And I don't like winter darkness either. This year I decided to do something about it; I'm getting up at 5:30 a.m. so I can leave work around 3 p.m. and still get a couple hours of evening light at home. Strangely, this schedule seems to make the workday go by faster too.
I think the "chuck b strategy" is a good one, and, in fact, today I was up at 4:30, getting the day started early so that nightfall would seem to come at the right distance from waking. Look how I put up 5 posts by 7:08 a.m.

But you might wonder, where has Althouse been all day? There haven't been any posts since 7:08! Believe me, I'm very busy this time of year. Classes are over, but a lot of things fall due around now. High on the list is writing my 2 exams, which the students will take over the weekend. You law students might think that we old lawprofs just dash these things off in an hour, but, in fact, it takes some doing.

When I got home from school today, driving in heavy snow, I sat down to pay a lot of bills and write some Christmas cards. Then I got back in the car, which was kind of crazy, because I wanted to mail these things. Absurdly, I took the backroads route to the post office, which was twisty and hilly and totally unplowed. In the middle of it, I had to stop and think, why did I come this way? But I'm back and inclined to let the world know that the Audi TT Coupe is rock solid in terrible snowy conditions, rock solid. By far, the best car I've ever driven in snow.

Kazakhstan versus Borat, round 2.

You remember the dispute between Kazakhstan and Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedian whose character Borat makes Kazakhstan look like an ignorant, racist place. Now, Kazakhstan asserts the power of its domain:
Yesterday, the government-appointed organization that regulates Web sites ending in the .kz domain name for Kazakhstan confirmed that Mr. Cohen's site had been suspended. Nurlan Isin, president of the Association of Kazakh IT Companies, said: "We've done this so he can't badmouth Kazakhstan under the .kz domain name. He can go and do whatever he wants at other domains."

"Sit Down Comedy."

That's a new talk show, on TV Land, with David Steinberg:
Mr. Steinberg was a director of the early-80's sitcom "Newhart." And, he recalled, one of the highlights of working on that set was the chance to eat lunch with Mr. Newhart and other funny people - including Mr. Newhart's friend and fellow comedian Don Rickles, who would often drop by - and to sit back and listen to them talk, joke and reminisce about life in the comedy business.

"That was almost my childhood ideal of what show business would be, those lunches," Mr. Steinberg said in a telephone interview from his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. "That kind of experience is so memorable, and so rare."
Nice idea. I'll set the TiVo.
"Casual" is the watchword for the series itself. In contrast to "Inside the Actors Studio" and its scholarly, well-prepared host, "Sit Down Comedy With David Steinberg" is concerned less with serious analysis than with giving Mr. Steinberg and fellow comedians - some, like Mr. Newhart and Martin Short, old friends; others, like George Lopez and Jon Lovitz, performers he admired but did not know personally - the chance to riff off of each other.

"I'm not interested in the craft of comedy," Mr. Steinberg said. "I don't think that's interesting to an audience. I just wanted to show the audience how funny these people can be."
Mike Myers is the first guest, tonight. Larry David is the second guest, next week. What more do you need to know? This is perfect!

Bob Dylan versus Howard Stern.

Can XM beat Sirius with Bob Dylan to counter Howard Stern? I have XM myself and love it, and in fact, it's already way ahead of Sirius with twice as many subscribers. But it's worth noting that a one-hour weekly show with Bob Dylan is not at all equivalent to what Howard Stern has been signed on to do for Sirius. Stern brings a long history of success as a radio performer, has contracted to remain at Sirius for 5 years, and will do hours of programming a day. Dylan is just experimenting with something new and probably very low-key. He's only going to be on once a week. And we haven't heard that he's committed for any length of time (though you will have to make a commitment to listen to XM or Sirius, when you choose your radio and subscribe to a service).
The hiring of Mr. Dylan underscores a key component of the two rivals' similar strategies. Each is trying to draw new consumers with a blend of programming that attracts a broad audience - like major-league sports events - and talent that appeals to smaller but extremely devoted segments of fans, as is the case with the arrangement with Mr. Dylan....

Mr. Dylan's move also comes as an array of other stars are signing on to use satellite radio to maintain a link to their fans - at least those who subscribe - and broaden their reach by creating programming beyond their own songs. Eminem and Jimmy Buffett have offered their brand names to designated channels on Sirius; XM has tapped Snoop Dogg to produce programming on one of its rap channels, the Rhyme.
Dylan's is the first one I'm going to make a point of listening to. I kind of like this strategy of catering to "extremely devoted segments" of listeners. It's something satellite radio, with all those channels, should be good at doing. In a sense, Bob Dylan really does beat Howard Stern. That is the programming strategy represented by Bob Dylan beats the programming strategy represented by Howard Stern. Unlike broadcast radio, satellite radio doesn't need a dominant radio personality to hold the listeners in one place for hours. We've already bought the radio and the subscription, and one company owns all the many channels. The ideal strategy is to have lots of channels serving lots of distinct niches and impressing the customers with all the cool stops along the spectrum. Endear yourself to me before I buy my next radio.

UPDATE: Minor Tweaks imagines how Dylan-the-DJ will sound. Feel free to write your own Dylan-the-DJ scripts, here in the comments or on your own blogs and email me and tell me about it -- using my last name followed by -- so I can give you some front page links.

"G.P.S. ... strikes me as the electronic equivalent of the child in the back seat querulously asking, 'Are we there yet?'"

Ted Conover, in a NYT op-ed, looks askance at the navigation device for the car that his wife wants so badly. He prefers to engage with maps and even to get lost.

Yes, why are you driving, to get someplace, or just to go?

When I was a teenager, with a 1961 Chevy Impala convertible, I used to go for a drive and deliberately get lost and then find my way back home. I still go for drives that way. This summer, I went to Colorado, and each day I got in my Audi TT Coupe and drove, making an intuitive choice at each turn and continuing until I was far enough away from my home base that I felt I needed to start finding my way back.

I want to muse upon things other than numbers when I drive, want to cultivate a subconscious sense of where I am and where I'm headed, want to enjoy unmeasured moments of suspension between here and there.
"Are we there yet?" Some of us feel, when we're in that car, somewhere in the great American landscape, that we are there. That's our there.

Rescued alive after two months under earthquake debris.

I can't understand how this is possible, but a woman trapped by the October 8th earthquake has just been saved.
Naqsha Bibi, now under hospital treatment, is suffering from muscle stiffness and is so weak that she can barely talk....

"We were not even looking for her," says Faiz Din, her cousin who found her....

"Frankly, we were all so busy taking care of our own families that no one was thinking of the house next door," Faiz Din says....

It seems that Naqsha was trapped in her kitchen when her small house collapsed around her....

Faiz Din says there were some traces of food, most of it rotting, in the kitchen when he found her.

The air in the tiny space was fresh, which implies that some airway must have remained open through the debris.

And there was a trickle of water on one side of the kitchen, probably from one of several tiny streams that dot the Kamsar area.

"We started clearing the debris of her house on 10 December, mainly to pull the iron sheets off the collapsed roof to build ourselves a shelter," says Faiz Din....

"We first thought she was dead but she opened her eyes as we were pulling her out," says Faiz....

That was why Faiz Din didn't take her to a doctor immediately despite being so close to Muzaffarabad.

"We thought she was going to die any moment," he says.

"So we just put her inside a tent and let her be."
Imagine what this woman went through, suffering to survive and thinking about dying all those days, with her relatives next door and not bothering to look for her, and then, when they just happen to find her, being set aside as if she were already a corpse. She's not able to talk yet, but I'd like to know what she has to say about this Faiz Din character.

"This is a stick in McCain's eye."

Ouch. Can we refrain from using torture metaphors when we're actually talking about torture? I mean cruel and inhumane treatment metaphors when we're actually talking about cruel and inhumane treatment....

That quote is from a "defense official" in this NYT article:
The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods that may complicate negotiations over legislation proposed by Senator John McCain to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody, military officials said Tuesday....

Some military officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.

In a high-level meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday, some Army and other Pentagon officials raised concerns that Mr. McCain would be furious at what could appear to be a back-door effort to circumvent his intentions.

December 13, 2005

All that oat bran was for nothing.

A study shows that eating a lot of fiber doesn't do a damned thing to protect you from colon cancer. I wonder what other health advice we're going to a lot of trouble to follow or feeling bad about not following we'll be told eventually really doesn't help at all.

A note from Madison.

At 4 p.m., it was already getting dark here today. Now, at 5, it's nearly completely dark. I'm sitting here in the dark, looking out at my big, bare oak tree. (Did I ever tell you my oak tree is named Agatha?) Next to me is my tiny Christmas tree. I deliberately bought the tiniest tree on the lot. I paid less than $20 for it! It's lit up now and providing the only light in the room other than the computer screen and the frozen-framed TV, stuck somewhere in the middle of "The Daily Show." We are supposed to get a big snow storm tonight, but nothing's happening yet. I have about 6 important tasks to get done very soon, and the early darkness makes me feel the day is shot way too early. My relationship with deadlines has changed over the years, and now I feel we are much too close -- and yet I cannot break away. I'm in a death spiral with deadlines. Maybe I could do all 6 things in one day if I felt the fear of death breathing down my neck heavily enough. But, for now, there's that strange, deep gray of the sky and the frozen TV show and the dots of light on the tree making me feel that nothing can ever happen, that time will never inch forward. And what are these ephemeral tasks? What can they possibly be?

Another pre-winter day goes down to defeat.

"I'm voting to dare these militants, to have a strong parliament and government that would restrain these outlaws."

Says one expatriate Iraqi voting today in Jordan. They are also voting in Australia, the United States, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Austria, Iran, the Netherlands, Sweden, Syria, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.

Here's a voter in Michigan:

Sushi etiquette.

Complete with squirrel! (Via Metafilter.) Brilliant!

A first blogiversary.

For wedding anniversaries, the first one is "paper." But a blog is all about writing without paper, so the first blog anniversary should be -- what? -- electron?

Anyway, happy first blogiversary to Richard Lawrence Cohen, who says, among other things:
One of the two best things for me about this year of blogging – and the less expected of the two – has been the feeling that I belong to a group of congenial, bright, interesting people – friends -- who welcome and accept me, an unbounded neighborhood of thinkers and writers who come and go, stopping by to chat whenever they like, and who can agree or disagree without rancor. The stable heart of this community is a cozy “pod” of frequent commenters and fellow bloggers, but the community’s borders can expand instantly, infinitely, in any direction, through the amazing network of links that is the blogosphere. Anyone can join immediately just by appearing.
Ah, yes, there's something about a blog with comments. You make a place, and a community develops. How strange and cool that it works so well!


Just: congratulations to anybody who just had something good happen! You know who you are.

"You could probably have sold Old Dutch root beer and got the same attention."

Remember the case about the the anti-gay pastor who was told to remove his banners from the Beltline overpass here in Madison? I wrote about the Seventh Circuit's decision here. The case was sent back to U.S. District Judge John Shabaz, who held a one-day trial, and once again decided against Ovadal. According to the judge:
[T]he city showed that the "spectacle" created by the banners on Sept. 2, 2003, created a traffic hazard with traffic slowing, "but there is nothing that suggests it was the message" that caused the dangerous slowdown or caused police to ask the demonstrators to leave.

"There's no evidence to suggest it was the message. None whatsoever," Shabaz said. "People were asked to leave (the overpasses) only because of the narrow circumstances . . . . You can't do it at rush hour. It isn't the message we (motorists) don't like, it's the fact that we can't get home on time."...

Shabaz said in his ruling Monday, "The mere fact that plaintiffs were engaged in a spectacle . . . it drew attention. You could probably have sold Old Dutch root beer and got the same attention."
What? Did you prefer the story that what really slowed down the Madison drivers was the message: "Homosexuality is sin." Well, the judge found the facts. He thinks they would have slowed down just as much for root beer. What are you going to do about that, Seventh Circuit?

For tax collection: Santa Claus!

It's just the way they do things in Buenos Aires.

"Bangalore is a lovely name. Why confuse tourists?"

Because we really, really want to call it The Town of Boiled Beans!

Platform shoes.

Have you been noticing the new ads for high-heeled platform sandals? Currently, the platforms are about 2 inches thick in front. With the heel, your 5'5" woman will be 5'10". And this is just the leading edge of a trend that, if it plays out according to the 1970s trend that it is now imitating, will climax with platforms that make you 9 inches taller. In the 1970s, I used to work with a woman who went in for those shoes. She was 5'1" tall. Once she got up from her desk and walked around without her shoes on. The sudden change in height was shocking -- and hilarious. Please, people, don't go through this again. Say no to platforms. If you buy the shoes that are coming on the market now, you will be giving in to a form of insanity that before long will have you dragging cinderblock-sized objects strapped to your feet. Can we not learn from history? Stop now, while there is still hope!

The Golden Globe nominations.

Best Pic, Drama
Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Good Night, and Good Luck
A History of Violence
Match Point

Best Pic, Musical/Comedy
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride Prejudice
The Producers
Squid and Whale
Walk the Line

Woody Allen, Match Point
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Peter Jackson, King Kong
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Fernando Mereilles, The Constant Gardener
Steven Spielberg, Munich

Actor, Drama
Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Terence Howard, Hustle and Flow
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck

Actor, Musical/Comedy
Peirce Brosnan, The Matador
Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale
Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Nathan Lane, The Producers
Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line

Actress - Musical/Comedy
Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Laura Linney, Squid and the Whale
Sarah Jessica Parker, The Family Stone
Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Actress - Drama
Maria Bello, A History of Violence
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof
Charlize Theron, North Country
Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha

Actress, Supporting Role
Scarlett Johannsson, Match Point
Shirley MacLaine, In Her Shoes
Frances McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, Contant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

Actor, Supporting Role
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Will Ferrell, The Producers
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Bob Hoskins, Mrs. Henderson Presents
I have only seen "A History of Violence," actually. I wrote about it here. Key passage:
Maria Bello is not a good actress. She's interesting to look at, but she can't do what is needed in a film like this. Cronenberg tried to cover for her inadequacies by having her do things like run out of the room and throw up off camera or bury her face in Mortenson's shoulder and cry. We'd watch more of him then, instead of her. And by the way, if there's one thing I would like to ban in movies, it's having a character express emotion by vomiting.
Okay, so I guess I shouldn't trust any of the other nominations.

Another thing. I don't like the way dramatic biopics of musicians screw up the classifications into dramatic and musical/comedy. Joaquin Phoenix, emoting as Johnny Cash, will utterly unfairly overshadow the comic performances that the two-category actor approach is supposed to highlight. Unfair. Moreover: unfair to Johnny Depp. The outrage!

UPDATE: Corrected, after someone in the comments wisecracked "Pretty sorry set of musicals/comedies those actresses were in." I'd cut and pasted from the Oscarwatch site, and they had "Musical/Comedy" as the heading for the "Supporting" actress category. "North Country" and "Brokeback Mountain" are so far from being comedy that even the thought of going to see them makes me feel bad. Another correction: I have seen more than one of these films, not just "History of Violence," but also "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Sorry, Johnny! Don't know how it slipped my mind.

How Pajamas Media helped those of us who stayed with BlogAds.

Tim Worstall explains why it's a great time for us to raise our ad prices.

Bob Dylan, the DJ, with a weekly show!

Bob Dylan is going to host a weekly radio show, on XM radio. Starting in March, he'll be choosing the songs and doing interviews and commentary. Is he articulate enough to be a good radio guy? He's got that clipped, mysterious way of speaking. But, what the hell? It's Bob Dylan. He can say what he wants. He doesn't have to be DJ-y. He can be podcast-y. It will be better that way.

December 12, 2005

Tookie must die.

Schwarzenegger denies clemency.

Ah, but he's co-written children's books denouncing gang violence:
[D]espite his anti-gang activism, Williams has consistently refused to take part in a debriefing with authorities to provide them potentially valuable information about the Crips gangs.

Williams was convicted of killing a 26-year-old Los Angeles convenience store clerk in February 1979, shooting him twice in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun while the victim was face down on the floor.

Less than two weeks later, jurors concluded, he shot and killed an immigrant Chinese couple and their 41-year-old daughter while stealing less than $100 cash from their motel.

Personally, I'm opposed to the death penalty, but I can't understand why this person deserves it less than others who don't get clemency. Fame shouldn't be enough. Having famous supporters shouldn't be enough.


I love this blog! If you're at all interested in architecture or photography, you should go there right now.

The tiny blogs.

Eugene Volokh draws attention to an article by Cathy Seipp that finds fault with an L.A. Times article called "Blogging L.A." (Actually, the title I see at the link is "The new faces of the city.") The article highlights tiny blogs that detail life lived at the personal level in L.A.:
This is the daily face Los Angeles bloggers present to the world, and it is decidedly different from the image forged by decades of television, movie, newspaper, magazine and literary portrayals of the SoCal lifestyle. In this new etherworld, Hollywood, flowering bougainvillea and beaches are augmented by internal landscapes, closely observed neighborhoods, musings on politics or relationships and behind-the-scenes looks at myriad elements of local life.
The article ends with a list of what the paper considers "the jewels among Los Angeles' thousands of blogs," and lawprof Stephen Bainbridge gets a nod in the political category, which is, following the theme of the article, kept very small.

Seipp complains that the article mentions "neither the much-hyped L.A.-based commercial blogging enterprises that began this year (the Huffington Post and Pajamas Media, of which I'm a member), nor any of the major L.A. blogs (Kausfiles, the Volokh Conspiracy, Little Green Footballs, et al) except L.A. Observed and Defamer, and then only in passing." Seipp portrays the article as clueless and lazy. What? Because it didn't write about the big blogs that anyone can easily see? Because tiny blogs are so five years ago?

It seems to me that it's much harder to find tiny blogs to recommend. And the most beautiful thing about the blogosphere has always been the continual budding of new blogs, written by persons with a new way to look at things. Those of us with a little or a lot more traffic should rejoice when a major newspaper finds a way to talk about them. The notion that the biggest blogs must be acknowledged first -- where does that come from? It makes no sense to me.

"As a Jew, a liberal, a lover of the Constitution, and a loather of Fox News..."

"...I wish to declare that the word 'Christmas' does not faze, throw, offend, upset, or disconcert me in the slightest." RLC explains.


Penguins! If you can click your mouse twice, you can play. You will be laughing within seconds. Unless you love penguins too much. (Via RLC.)


Is that BlogAd bothering you? The one for MSNBC?

UPDATE: The ad -- which was an outline of a female figure promoting an MSNBC news story about pornography -- no longer appears in the sidebar.

Art? Sacrilege? Bad taste?

To me, it's unspeakable.
Hundreds of carpenters ... had hand-carved thousands of beams from Styrofoam, molded rubber into countless strands of stand-ins for shredded reinforcing bars, and assembled all of this inside a pit erected atop stacks of cargo containers.

At its core, the mockup of ground zero will be full-size, and as close to an exact replica as is practical... At the perimeter, where fragments of the towers' facade are meant to loom in the distance, it is 65 feet high, or about half-scale; smoke and nightfall will complete the illusion....

IN THE COMMENTS: Debate about whether the World Trade Center attack should be recreated on film leads to a comparison with "Titanic," causing Joe Baby to say something that makes me laugh out loud.

Forget film remakes.

What about TV commercial remakes?
Bayer and its agency, BBDO Worldwide, have re-created a 1972 spot for Alka-Seltzer known as "I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing," for the plaintive cry from a gourmand husband that opens the commercial. The phrase, and a variant, "The whole thing," went on to enter the baby-boomer vernacular.

The remake features Peter Boyle as the husband and, as the wife, Doris Roberts, who played his spouse on the CBS sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond."

What old TV commercial would you like to see remade for a current ad campaign? Which actors would you like to see in the roles? Personally, I'd like to see the old "Mother, please, I'd rather do it myself" ads. Maybe with the actress who plays Susie on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." (Be realistic about the casting. You can't have some big movie actor. Pick someone like Peter Boyle who might actually do it.)

The Supreme Court will hear the Texas redistricting case.

The Dallas Morning News reports:
The 2003 boundaries helped Republicans win 21 of the state's 32 seats in Congress in the last election— up from 15. They were approved amid a nasty battle between Republican leaders and Democrats and minority groups in Texas.

The contentiousness also reached Washington, where the Justice Department approved the plan although staff lawyers concluded that it diluted minority voting rights. Because of historic discrimination against minority voters, Texas is required to get Justice Department approval for any voting changes to ensure they don't undercut minority voting....

The legal battle at the Supreme Court was over the unusual timing of the Texas redistricting, among other things. Under the Constitution, states must adjust their congressional district lines every 10 years to account for population shifts.

But in Texas the boundaries were redrawn twice after the 2000 census, first by a court, then by state lawmakers in a second round promoted by DeLay.
SCOTUSblog says this is a surprise, because "the Court had never asked for a response from the state of Texas, which had waived that opportunity, and the Court had examined the question of hearing the cases six different times at its private conferences."
Of the seven pending cases challenging the plan, the Court agreed to hear four. Those four raise all of the key issues, including whether the Court can fashion a standard for judging when partisan gerrymandering is excessive, and whether it is unconstitutional for a state to undertake a new round of congressional redistricting within the same decade when a valid plan is already in place. In addition, the cases raise issues about race and ethnic bias in some of the new district boundary line-drawing. The three cases the Court did not grant raised overlapping issues.
Setting a standard for the judicial scrutiny of gerrymandering is a problem that has dogged the Court. But as long as it is staying in the business of monitoring political redistricting, it seems necessary for it to take a case of this importance. Perhaps it will use this occasion, however, to set a clear standard for bowing out of these controversies altogether.

This year, the complaint is not that the state has a large tree in the Capital rotunda.

It's that we've been calling it a "holiday tree" and not a "Christmas tree." So you see, both sides of the political spectrum are willing to grab attention and make us feel bad about what most people in Wisconsin just like and feel good about for unexamined reasons.

Who cares what the thing is officially called?

That's easy: ideologues. Most ordinary people, I think, don't want any political fighting stirred up over Christmas. Look who's doing the stirring here: "46 state legislators, mostly Republicans, wrote and signed a letter to Gov. Jim Doyle...." Doyle is up for reelection next year -- have you heard?

Warm greetings of the season... the election season.

"The level of violence suggests profoundly deep-seated hostility bubbling away for some time."

Race riots in Sydney, Australia.

UPDATE: The NYT has a detailed report. A snippet:
Police said more than 5,000 white youths, some wrapped in Australian flags and chanting racist slurs, fought with police, attacked people they believed to be of Arab descent and assaulted a pair of paramedics trying to help people escape the riot.
Very bad times for Australia.

"This so-called political process -- and those who take part in these apostate elections -- is forbidden by God's laws..."

Politics as usual: The side that knows it's not going to win claims there's something wrong with the process.

The Nobel laureate's play about Cindy Sheehan.

Dario Fo pastes some of Sheehan's letters together into a one-woman show that's playing in London.
"[The actress] did such an amazing job of conveying my feelings of anger and betrayal," a tearful Sheehan said after the play.

December 11, 2005

"Hey, Richard, what was it like to be on fire?"

Larry King asks Richard Pryor in an old interview, which CNN re-aired yesterday, the day that the great comedian died. (Richard Pryor, as you probably know, set himself on fire free-basing cocaine.)
"It was... scary... and petrifying... and... awesome... You know, fire, you know how fire looks red and stuff. It's really orange and white. I didn't know that until after it was over. I said, wait a minute. This is fire but it don't look like it."

"But the pain... It must be..."

"Excruciating, is the word."
Later, King asks him if he has days when he gets depressed. He says:
"Very. I have days when I just don't know who I am, where I am, what I'm doing. But then, it comes back and says, you're Richard, and you're here, and you had a shot, and you messed it up, so you gotta stay here." He has a terribly sad expression on his face now. "'Cause we're all gonna die. We just don't get to choose when."

Audible Althouse, #25.

Does the theme song still fit if I only podcast once a week? Do I deserve a "best law blog" award? Should Congress impose cameras on the Supreme Court? Can the Court write crisper opinions? Can bloggers write crisper posts? Should virgins wear rings that tell the world they are virgins? Did the girl who thought my brother's friend was Bruce Springsteen have a more intense experience than I had sitting two feet away from John Lennon and Yoko Ono? What can we know about ourselves from the things we keep secret and the thing we fail to do? And what do I mean when I say to live freely in writing?

Here's the new podcast, 45 minutes long.

The preserved body of a sparrow shot for knocking over 23,000 dominoes...

Will be displayed -- on top of a box of dominoes -- in Rotterdam's Natural History Museum.
The bird almost spoiled a televised world record attempt before it was killed with an air rifle.

The shooting caused a public outcry. Animal rights groups condemned the bird's killing last month and a website was erected in its honour....

The organisers argued the killing was justified, as more than 100 people had worked for a month setting up [four million] dominoes, but they held a TV memorial for the bird.
Here's the memorial website. I can't really picture what the TV show was like. Why is the news from the Netherlands always so odd?

"The Year in Ideas."

I open this week's NYT Magazine with great excitement. It's time for "The Year in Ideas." Blogging, I'm in a position to notice a lot of the ideas that make the news, and, generally, I'm more interested in ideas than events, so I wonder how many of the things the magazine has chosen will be things that I've blogged about. Actually, I only found 3:

1. The anti-rape condom. I blogged about the "Rapex" here.

2. "Pleistocene Rewilding," I blogged that here.

3. "The Totally Religious, Absolutely Democratic Constitution." Blogged here.

So, I found lots of new things to fascinate me, especially:
"The False-Memory Diet"

"The Hypomanic American"


"Preventing Suicide Bombing"


"Stoic Redheads"
There's a good idea that isn't on the list but is exemplified by something on the list. That is: MSM referring to blogs. A great strategy for traditional news sites to get more readers is to say something about blogs in their stories. Bloggers will tend to notice -- it's about me! -- and devote a blog entry to the story. I know this strategy works on me. For example, last week, I wrote about "food swings," and I'm sure part of the reason the story jumped out at me as bloggable was because there was some material in there about how some of these food swing types blog about their adventures in hunger management.

"The Year in Ideas" makes its plea for attention from bloggers with this entry: "Conservative Blogs are More Effective." Throw that into Technorati and see if there isn't a hot new idea deserving a mini-article titled, perhaps, "Tossing in a Reference to Blogs Is More Effective." Oh, and it helps if the reference to blogs also says something that a lot of bloggers are going to feel isn't quite right, so that we'll instantly fire up a compose window and start typing out the little insight they could so easily have predicted. "Conservative Blogs are More Effective" is a perfect example of this. You know all those conservative bloggers, always ready to go, always monitoring the MSM. They will surely bite at this one!

Searching for "integrity".... and other words.

"Integrity" is the most looked-up word of the last year, according to one on-line dictionary. There are words you look up because you don't know what they mean at all, and words -- like "integrity," I'm sure -- that you basically know but, for some reason, want a precise or authoritative definition of. I think it's rather touching that so many people were looking up "integrity." Were they searching for the right path in their own lives? Or were they just framing arguments against their opponents? I picture a web full of indignant political bloggers and guess that it's the latter.

Other words that made the list suggest that the news is what drives large numbers of dictionary users to the same word: filibuster, refugee, tsunami, levee, pandemic, conclave, inept. "Conclave" is pope-related. "Inept"? It's got to be Bush-related.