April 7, 2007

Time to turn my back on Austin.


I need to get on I-35 and head north, out of Texas, back through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri... Who knows? Starting out at 6 a.m., who says I can't drive the whole way home? It's only 1200 miles or so...

UPDATE, 1 a.m.: Home!

At the LBJ Library.

At the LBJ Library, the floors of archives are on beautiful, grand display:


And there are three floors of exhibits, which pull you through the history and culture of the 1960s, the time when I was a teenager. Did so much more happen then, or does it only seem so to me? Much of what was on display had no real connection to LBJ but intense significance to me as I walked through the depiction of the past:


The piped in music is The Doors, The Jefferson Airplane -- all counterculture, evocative of hating LBJ. "Did people hate him more than George Bush?" Chris asks. "Yes," I say without hesitation. Remember, there was a draft, and many more people were dying in Vietnam. I watch a little video that quickly documents what happened year by year from 1963 to 1968. So many impressive achievements I counted for little at the time, because of the war. So many sad things -- riots, assassinations. I cry at the one thing that always breaks through my public stoicism: the killing of Bobby Kennedy.

I remember where I was -- standing in the kitchen in our house in Wayne, New Jersey -- when I heard these words:


I was watching a little black and white TV on the counter and thinking how much I hated that ugly, old man with his ugly, endless war. I hadn't a shred of pity for him, but when he said those unexpected words, I broke down and cried. That poor man. How strange to suddenly see him as human.

Deeply affecting too were the handwritten edits on the short speech he gave on the day of President Kennedy's assassination:


We saw the many gifts, given by heads of state, most of them perplexingly bad. Only one stood out as truly worthy, from the Shah of Iran:


That is a terra cotta effigy urn, from 1000 B.C.

There's a replica of the Oval Office:


And I'm surprised how small and uninspiring it is.

I love all the old buttons:


Some so mindbogglingly inappropriate as a political statement:


But the perfect expression of the 1960s.

And don't miss the animatronic, joke-telling LBJ!

April 6, 2007

3 questions from Texas.

What is this?


Where did we go for lunch?


What did we do afterwards?

Austin shopping.



Let's keep talking about breasts.

Jessica Valenti is writing in The Guardian and connecting the violent threats against Kathy Sierra to my old blog post making fun of a photograph of her and a bunch of other bloggers posing with President Clinton. Read the whole thing. I just want to focus on this:
Let me tell you, it's not easy to build a career as a feminist writer when you have people coming up to you in pubs asking if you're the "Clinton boob girl" or if one of the first items that comes up in a Google search of your name is "boobgate".
Well, let me tell you. I don't like having my name connected to the things you have in quotes there, none of which were written by me. They were written by your allies as they attacked me over and over again.

The only reason the Google searches come out the way they do is because of the endless vicious, nasty attacks on me. I haven't been the one pushing this story. They are. And you are too -- right here! I never even put your name in the original post -- or even in any post until long after you and your allies had posted repeatedly insulting me by name every way they could think of. Your name is all over their posts. Not mine.

And I still maintain that it was absolutely justified to mock that photograph. Distort what I was really saying there all you want, but the fact remains: Cozying up to Bill Clinton is not something a feminist should be doing. You have never responded to what I was really writing about. You have instead chosen to attack me, and you're doing it again, and you and your friends have leveraged what was a minor satirical blog post for your advantage. You're exploiting it again and going through the whole routine of trying to ruin my reputation again. It's an ugly way you've chosen to try to build a career as a feminist writer.

I'd love to see you take some responsibility for what you've done instead of whining that everyone's talking about your breasts. I don't give a damn about your breasts. What I care about is the way feminists sold out feminism to bolster the fortunes of the Democratic Party. But you will never talk about that, because you don't have anything to say there. So it's on and on about breasts, breasts, breasts, please don't talk about my breasts.

IN THE COMMENTS: Larry in Gibbsville said:
Valenti continues to milk her sagging "breast controversy" for all its worth.
Internet Ronin:
[C]an you explain why Valenti and her friends persist in bringing this issue back to life on a regular basis? It seems to me that they are the ones who make repeated references to her breasts, and the picture. That seems an illogical thing to do if one sincerely wishes not to be known as the "breast-blogger" and genuinely wished for this subject to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

If it was so humiliating for Valenti, one must wonder why she insists on reliving that humiliation on a regular basis and is now obviously trying to widen the distribution of the her supposed humiliation.
That's well put. And let me remind people, once again, that Valenti's blog, right at the top, has two very busty "mudflap"-style silhouettes. Yes, I know they are giving you the finger -- that is, they are bringing in additional sexual references (enough to make me think -- people say I'm wrong -- that the blog name "Feministing" was intended to make you see the word "fisting"). It is simply undeniable that Valenti herself uses sexual imagery in an effort to make her offerings more exciting. I would never have written the "Let's take a closer look" post if that hadn't been blindingly obvious to me. I'll give Valenti credit for doing a good job at self-promotion -- calling into her service a swarm of bloggers who have come to her defense by, absurdly, talking about her breasts continually.

By the way -- as Mortimer Brezny points out and discusses in many excellent comments -- Valenti has a book coming out. So you figure out why she's bringing up the subject of my old blog post again. (Someone raises the theory that she actually plotted with Garance Franke-Ruta to revive the old controversy through that Bloggingheads episode, but Garance assures me that didn't happen.) The book's title refers to graphic nudity, and it has a naked female torso on the cover -- more of the same use of sexual imagery for self-promotion.

Responding to someone who wrote, "It was not right to mock that photograph," Bill says:
Which is just plain and utter bullshit. Can we all--ok, can most of us agree--that it's perfectly normal, and fun, to mock things. Photos, religion, hairstyles, bumper stickers, ANYTHING. SNL, Dennis Miller, Jon Stewart, all have perfected the art of mocking photographs. Then there's all the newspapers and magazines that run caption contests--again, mocking the photo being the prime goal.
Note that the original "Let's take a closer look" post links to a "Daily Show" segment in which Jon Stewart mercilessly mocks Katherine Harris for posing in a way that shows off her breasts. You know, it's really laughable that Valenti's Guardian piece lumps mocking her photograph together with threats of real violence. It's utterly specious argument to compare harshly mocking political speech -- like mine -- to real threats of violence. The fact is, Valenti went to that lunch and posed the way she did; it had political meaning, and I talked about it. She doesn't like that to be pointed out in a way that's embarrassing to her. I get it. And I meant to embarrass her. She is a public figure who writes about feminism and behaved in a way -- posing proudly with Clinton -- that raises a feminist issue I'm damned well going to talk about. Though I certainly understand why she and her allies would like to shut me up.

MadisonMan says:
It's odd that a feminist is building a career out of whining about how her breasts are being talked about.
Palladian replies:
People who pursue careers as professional "feminists" usually build their careers out of whining.
L links to the Bloggingheads segment where I lash out at Garance Franke-Ruta for using the expression "the Jessica Valenti breast controversy" and writes:
because really, ann flipping out about character assassination when it comes to an issue she created! ha, c'mon, it is pretty hilarious. lets all join hands and laugh. but knowing ann and her own hatred for her female flesh, she probably will blame her craziness on on her menstrual cycle.
That is completely sexist. Upthread L wrote, "You are just an insecure right wing woman who is jealous of a liberal younger woman's looks and success," so I'm surprised he/she is giving me credit for having a menstrual cycle. The ageist and sexist themes in the anti-Althousiana genre are highly revealing. You think your values don't matter as long as you are attacking opponents? And I love this idea that older women are not allowed to attack younger women. It's just an attempt to silence: You're old, so shut up, or we'll say you're ugly and jealous. It's a lame debate ploy, since it's obvious you're just saying shut up. But to stoop to flat-out sexism and ageism for emphasis... how terribly embarrassing for you, L.

Synova takes issue with this characterization of me as "an insecure right wing woman who is jealous of a liberal younger woman's looks and success":
Does Ann go around making mean comments about the appearance of young women who aren't standing next to Bill Clinton?

I could be wrong but I thought I remembered reading something about Ann being profoundly disillusioned about how feminism responded to the Lewinsky scandal....

I know that my mother was furious and absolutely clear on what *exactly* about the Clinton/Monica thing upset her. It was the fact that this was blatant workplace sexual harassment, something that exists despite consent to the degree that the parties involved have unequal power. This was the "secretary as a sexual perk" role right out of the bad old days when being a secretary was one of the very few career choices available to women.

If my mom saw that picture with all the happy girls clustered around Bill she'd probably have the same reaction as Ann to the visual prominence of the pretty young lady in the center.
Johnstodder has this (beginning with a quote from Mark):

There's mockery and then there's mockery. It's one thing to make a good natured fun of a picture, it's quite another to be mean-spirited and crudely mock someone's appearance in a picture in a sexist way all the while asserting that it's done with a valid purpose of defending true feminism.

Huh? "Crudely mock someone's appearance?" Part of the point of Ann's joke was that Jessica is a relatively attractive woman in a sea of doughy-faced blogger types; posing in the way (as Ann saw it) that attractive girls do to catch the eye.

This observation by Ann is totally consistent with what Valenti says about herself. She is offended by those who would deny her sexuality. She assumes she draws looks from men. The penchant of some men to take oppressive action when confronted with an attractive woman is a major topic of her blog.

Go to her blog. Type in the search term "lookism." You get one hit. One. From a comment that refers to another URL. Jessica has never used the term. Women losing out on jobs and other benefits because they aren't considered attractive by men doesn't happen to be her issue.

For example, on January 4th, she defended Texas cheerleaders targeted by a state bill banning "bawdy performances." She (rightly) mocked men getting "in such a tizzy" over cheerleaders. Old-style feminists might have a disagreement with Jessica on this matter, seeing in cheerleading an institution that rewards the superficial physical traits rather than merit or acheivement.

Jessica's initial position wasn't that she was crudely mocked by Ann. She thought Ann was off-base in using Jessica's alluring appearance against her. If there is one thing Ann and Jessica seemed to agree on, it was that Jessica looked good in the picture. The argument was primarily over intent, and secondarily over whether it was appropriate for a self-identified feminist to seemingly re-enact a shameful moment in feminist history as if the episode had no weight whatsoever.
Hey says:
What's the thing that Bill Clinton is most famous for? Lecherous behavior with younger women, even not especially attractive ones.

What kind of picture is always popping up in the media of Bill? Interesting and compromising photos of him with younger and much younger women (The Economist and other serious media have made hay out of Bill and Canadian billionaire heiress and politician Belinda Stronach, never mind other media). Regular on Drudge, Leno, never mind right wing sites.

If you're a feminist supporter of Hillary, what's the last thing that you should want to do? Provide fodder to comedians and political opponents that highlights Bill's "bimbo eruptions".

What does the Valenti picture echo? Bill's bimbo problems.

Valenti should have been far away from Bill to avoid this. The picture was a hilarious joke of all the worst Clinton pictures And this is by a supporter for public consumption?

The picture and controversy shows that Valenti is an idiot and that her supporters are in denial or are just as idiotic. That this is all about disrespecting feminism, rather than the obvious problems of the photos, is an admission that Valenti screwed up and played into the hands of the Clintons' opponents.
I agree with that. On first seeing the photo, I laughed and thought about how Valenti's placement and pose undermined the whole point of the lunch, which was to use Bill to help Hillary. I don't, however, agree that Valenti is an idiot. I think she's a self-promoter who has been exploiting this incident with some skill, playing the other bloggers reasonably well. I don't know if she's for or against Hillary. (I've actually never read her blog!) But I'll estimate her intelligence at a much higher level if she's against.

Omaha1 provides an outline of the controversy:
1. Ann observed that a young feminist blogger was photographed next to Clinton in dress and manner that seemed to accentuate her attractive figure.

1a. Intelligent women acknowledge that in the real world, men often notice their breasts.

1b. Intelligent women also know that knit tops are clingy and draw men's eyes to their breasts.

1c. Clinton has a public history of sexual interest in young women.

1d. In anticipating a meeting with a prominent political figure, considerable thought would presumably go into one's dress and deportment.

Conclusion: When a young, attractive woman meets with Clinton, if she does not make an effort to dress in a non-provocative way, she is encouraging his perception of her as a sexual object.

2. The majority of the Democratic party set back the cause of feminism in its refusal to condemn the sexual exploitation of Clinton's young, vulnerable intern, Monica Lewinsky.

2a. This "refusal to condemn" was the result of partisan support for a Democratic president.

2b. Since one of the foundations of modern femiminism is abhorrence for the sexual exploitation of women, for any reason, by men in "superior" positions, this was hypocritical.

Conclusion: The apparent willingness of an attractive young feminist blogger to be viewed by Clinton as a sexual object is a continuing endorsement of this hypocrisy.

shorter summary: if Jessica had worn a jacket or sweater over her knit top, there would be no controversy.

shorter summary II: if Jessica is unaware of men's interest in breasts, she is either unintelligent or out of touch with reality.....

[I]f I were meeting with a prominent political figure, I would put a significant amount of thought into choosing my attire, and considering the message it might send. I would probably choose a businesslike skirt and jacket, something that would project a professional, non-sexual image.

I have worked in the predominately male world of software development and seen the effect of women consciously using sex appeal to influence co-workers, and that is something I never wanted any part of. I stand by my assertion that Jessica's choice of attire was a deliberate ploy to gain sexual attention, unless she was either stupid or naive.
And don't miss mikeinsc, who gets into a big debate very late in the comments. Sample:
The number of feminists outside of Althouse who WILL condemn what Clinton did is miniscule. Which is why the current crop of pseudo-feminists are so pissy at Althouse. Nobody likes having their blatant hypocrisy exposed.
I'll give David53 the last word:
The vortex continues unabated. Currently at Level 208. At level 400 the space-time continuum around the server will begin to warp eventually creating an alternate reality populated entirely with sentient breasts.

Gorgeous scarves and shabby suits.

Naturally, Robin Givhan must do an essay on what Nancy Pelosi wore in Syria and what the Iranians made the British sailors wear, and just as naturally, I must blog about it:
[Each scarf she wore] was incorporated into the day's wardrobe. One hesitates to say that she accessorized her ensembles with the scarves because that makes it sound as though their significance can be equated with a pair of earrings or a strand of pearls. They were more meaningful than that. They allowed her to be respectful of the day's hosts while maintaining her own public identity. She looked like herself and she maintained control of the visual message.

There are few images more discomforting than public figures thrust into foreign cultures and required to wear the host's traditional attire. Almost without exception the visitors tend to look smaller and more vulnerable. They evoke the uneasiness of children who have been dressed by a parent, teacher, minister or other authority figure....

When the recently released British detainees were trotted in front of the media in Iran, the men were not in the uniform of their country, which would have been a reminder of their international stature, but rather in look-alike shabby suits and no ties. They were dressed in the image of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Western mufti was appropriated and served as a stand-in for an emasculating uniform, making the seamen appear small and uncertain. The lone woman looked like she had been overpowered by someone else's cultural traditions.

Pelosi, with her carefully coordinated scarves, respected her foreign surroundings without ceding any control.
It's an awkward comparison. Pelosi got to choose -- not only to go where she did, but also to comply with the clothing requirements with her own things. The British sailors were, obviously, far more constrained. Fawning over Pelosi is bad enough. Of course, this rich woman who has long had an interest in fashion picked really nice scarves when she had to wear a scarf. But dragging in the sailors to load more praise on Pelosi looks really.... shabby.

I finally realized what that 10 Commandments monument reminds me of.

I did a post the other day about the Ten Commandments monument, with photos showing how it's positioned on the grounds of the Texas state capitol.

Ten Commandments monument

I said I didn't think putting it by the side of the road like that was very respectful. (Of course, the disrespect helps make it constitutional!) But yesterday it dawned on me exactly what it reminded me of: a speaker machine at a drive-up fast food restaurant.

I'll have the adultery.

Would you like a graven image with that?

"Bill O'Reilly Loses His Damn Mind."

That's how Oliver Willis says he sees it. (Via Memeorandum.) I say "says" because I don't think Oliver really thinks O'Reilly went insane. I've seen this lefty meme before -- aimed at me last week. Anger = insanity.

In this O'Reilly clip, we see a debate where O'Reilly is in his zone. He's outraged about the death of a little girl and illegal immigration is involved. And his interlocutor is Geraldo Rivera, who isn't going to cower and act submissive. He's going to hold his own and he does. O'Reilly knows he can roll out his righteous anger in a grandly theatrical way and he does.

It thoroughly serves his purposes. Look at the free promotion we're giving his show.

By the same token, Oliver Willis is serving his purposes by saying things like:
This is the leading face of cable news, right wing media, of the conservative voice in the media, and he's a freaking psycho. The kicker, O'Reilly concludes his tirade by saying "this is reason". Well, I guess that's what passes for it in today's MSM.
And here I am promoting Willis's blog.

"Who benefits from this"

"She is going increasingly outlandish. I think she's trying to get whacked."

Dennis Miller on Rosie O'Donnell:
But Iger's got a real problem here with Rosie. Because I think Rosie wants to get fired. I don't think she's this paranoid. At the end of the day, I don't think she believes George Bush blew up the World Trade Centers.

But I do believe that Barbara Walters owns every back end piece of that show. Barbara might wear gloves up to her forearms. But the fact is she's got sharp elbows right above that. And Rosie has no back end on that show. She needs to get out of that deal. Because with the ratings spike she's brought to "The View", she realizes if she has part ownership in a daytime show she can print money.

So she is going increasingly outlandish. I think she's trying to get whacked.
So it's all about the money? That's oddly similar to O'Donnell's own political thought, seen here on "The View." And it's a fundamental part of the 9/11 conspiracy theory.

9/11 conspiracy theory

Click here to enlarge. This is a poster for a 2-day conference on the 9/11 conspiracy theory at the University of Texas. We see a 50s-style family watching the 9/11 attack on TV. One is saying "How does this happen?" and the other "Who benefits from this?"

April 5, 2007

Coffee! Coffee! Coffee!

Chris and the coffee cup

Chris and the coffee.

ADDED: Can you believe I put this picture up without even noticing there's an image of a naked woman in it? Someone had to point it out! I see my son, of course, and then the big cup of coffee. I saw the pig too. But the woman? My brain processed her as the steam from the coffee cup. So you know where my mind is. The post title tells you.

Another lazy afternoon in an Austin café.

I follow Chris into the Spider House:

Spider House

It's a pretty unusual café, built out of an old house that -- I guess -- had a lot of spiders in it when they moved in:

Spider House

There's lots of hilariously rusted, junky furniture in the yard:

Spider House

Spider House

But we seek out the shade over here under this makeshift roof:

Spider House

Bye for now:

Spider House

I've got to go.

Today's Mideast fashion news.

I'm looking at the front page of the NYT and glad to see the British hostages have been released, but can we talk about the clothes? The men have all been given gray suits (which they're wearing without ties), but the poor woman -- Kaye Turney -- must stand for all the news photography in something you'd be embarrassed to wear to the grocery store.

And it's not so much the headscarf. I didn't want to talk about headscarves today. That was the subject yesterday. I mean I'm still getting traffic from this post on Mahablog, which copied one of the several points I had just made in a post that supported Nancy Pelosi wearing a headscarf. Mahablog nevertheless insulted me and linked not to my Pelosi post but to that old, irrelevant post about feminist bloggers posing with Clinton. The pathetic blogger Amanda Marcotte followed on with this embarrassing post, trashing me, under an image of a gravestone. She begins:
So, the latest wingnut scandal is that Nancy Pelosi went on a political trip and didn’t show off enough of her womanly attributes. Ann Althouse wants Pelosi to be a little bit more of a sexbot.
She linked to the Mahablog rather than to me, so it was pretty obvious that she simply assumed she knew what I'd written and got it absolutely backwards. I updated my post:
Here's Amanda Marcotte's summary of this post: "Ann Althouse wants Pelosi to be a little bit more of a sexbot." Whaa? Marcotte seems to be pulling in signals from outer space. Just flat out nutty, Amanda. Or did you even read this post?
After I wrote that, she got a clue and tried to cover up her embarrassment, by inserting a parenthetical (without noting that it was a later insertion):
(To be fair, she does grant that it’s done out of politeness, but generally revolts against covering. I agree with her that mandatory covering is crap, and that’s why I dislike it when she tells women to hide our breasts in public. I typed this up a little fast, and got lazy. Apologies. I recommend the first link on this page if you want to read some non-lazy blogging on this subject.)
Oh, yeah, Amanda, that's really fair. How did I "generally revolt against covering" other than in exactly the way you have to be opposed to it too? Or is it "fair" because you hate the old Clinton-and-the-bloggers post so much you're entitled to lie about me whenever you feel like it? When did I ever "tell[] women to hide our breasts in public"? Clue: I never did. You are simply a liar. Or is that okay because you were in a hurry? Should I just type up some fast sentences about you because I don't really think you're worth much time? What a pathetic, lame excuse for shoddy thinking and bad writing!

Several of her commenters pointed our how badly she misread me (and continues to misread me). An anonymous commenter noted the parenthetical and wrote:
So basically what you’re saying is that you agree with Althouse’s post but because you don’t like other things she’s said, this post indicates that she’s an awful person?
Here's her response:
Not really, anon. I elucidated further and now have spent about twice as long on this lazy post as I intended. I think the obession [sic] with the headscarf is kind of weird, mostly.
So you trash me, but because you meant it to be one of your "lazy" posts, readers are supposed to leave you alone about it? Especially after you went to all that effort to "elucidate further"? And never mind that "anon." was referring to the added parenthetical. One wonders if Amanda knows what the word "elucidate" means. You can't further elucidate unless you've elucidated before and you're elucidating now. Any more Amanda-style elucidating and we'll be groping around in total darkness. But, oh, well, I'm tired now and you're kind of weird.

Anyway, back to today's fashion statement from the Mideast. Here's a picture of Kaye Turney back in her Royal Navy uniform and out of that astoundingly frumpy light blue pantsuit. And horrible long knit top with all the horizontal stripes! It's one thing to insist on modest clothing. It's quite another to force someone to appear in photographs to be seen by millions, maybe billions, of people wearing the most godawful pantsuit ever constructed. Talk about the exposure of women!

Couldn't she get a halfway decent gray suit -- like the guys? One that buttons closed over a white shirt? Why dress her in a way that you'd be ashamed to leave the house? Or does that last question answer itself?

April 4, 2007

Omikase/"American Idol"

Oh! I'm sorry. I didn't watch "American Idol." We went out to a cool Austin restaurant called Uchi. We ordered the omikase. What was that? 10 courses? We lost count! We put our trust in the chef and accepted whatever the hell he sent out. What is it? Whatever! It was that kind of night.

But how to ascertain what happened on "American Idol"? I'll ease into the discussion board at Television Without Pity. The suspense is killing me! It's Haylie, right?
Gina! I wanted Haley to stay but I found it really sad tonight. I loved the moment when Gina and Haley were hugging and crying and that Gina seemed to be well loved. What a different goodbye than last week.
Oh, no! It's my rocker girl!
Bye Gina.

Did Sprinkles say “Gina Glocksen and her tongue ring?”
Aw, you know, last night, I was saying, that thing on her tongue really detracts from the performance. How can you sing "Smile" with a stud in your tongue? It's not the smile in the song. Too much message in the jewelry.
double u. tee. eff. Gina goes, and we're stuck with Legsy, the Vampire and Dhani Osmond for another week. I thought Gina did great last night.

And ooh, Uchi was sublime. Omikase, what a trip! "When's the last time you had rabbit?" The waiter said in the end. "Never!" I confess. "I only had rabbit because I put my trust in you." Trust well placed! Go to Uchi, kids. It's good. Yes, we paid $300 for dinner for 2, but you could eat cheese and crackers or Cheerios for a couple weeks, then show up for the drama that is omikase.

And, bye, Gina, you glorious rocker chick. Maybe some year, eventually, the rocker chick will win.

Vlogging in from Austin.

Because vlogging's the big thing now.

BONUS: Vlogging from the road, literally.

I-35, Oklahoma, tempting fate. I've got a longer one, too big to put on YouTube, where I discuss dying in a fiery wreck and speculate about whether the video evidence would survive. If only I could figure out how to edit the video from my Sony still camera on a Mac without losing the audio track! I just know this is a clip that would set off the anti-Althousianists.

An unusual sink.

It's rustic, yet impractical. Cool, yet absurd.

A strange sink

You'll find it at Cibo, a restaurant in Austin, where we've eaten twice. Not only does it have great food, good atmosphere, and nice music, it stays open all day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. I have a thing -- not that I do it all the time -- of only eating once a day -- it's all about the ghrelin -- and my favorite time for a nice meal is 4 in the afternoon.

More pics of Cibo:



Mmmm.... supplì.


Mmmm.... gnocchi.

And the Little City café is right next door, so you can hang out and drink coffee all day and -- whenever you get hungry -- stumble next door... taking the free WiFi with you.

Freeing the hostages.

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he will pardon and set free 15 British sailors and marines being held in Iranian custody."


This beautiful moth was posing for a photograph:



ADDED: I see Glenn Reynolds is doing insect closeups today too... and he bought a version of my camera.

"I don't see how you can deny that..."

"... this is something new on the table."

ADDED: Some people don't understand vlogging. I think a nice vlog for a blog post makes the blog bloggier, but some people are alarmed by blogginess. It brings out the you-a-law-professor side of a lot of people. Some people want the heavy signs of trustworthiness, like they try to serve up on the network news. If you cut into that with low-tech recording, rough edges, and -- oh, I don't know -- a glass of wine... it can really bend some people out of shape. But what's bloggier than bending people out of shape?

Come on, you didn't believe Keith Richards snorted his dad, did you?

You idiot!

The greatest tech product of all time: Netscape.

According to PC World, which has a top 50. You may disagree with some of these -- Tetris is 10 -- but they give reasons. (Tetris was "one of" -- one of! -- "the first games that required actual use of your brain, and it shook up the gaming industry in profound ways.")

Nancy Pelosi covers her head and visits the head of John the Baptist.

So Nancy Pelosi is visiting Syria, and President Bush is calling it "unhelpful." There's plenty of political theater here. The most telling fact, in my view, is that Republican members of Congress have gone to Syria too. So I'm not getting roped in by this little politidrama.

Much is being made of a photograph of Pelosi wearing a scarf on her head -- "Pelosi in Hijab" -- as she goes to visit a mosque that houses the head of the beheaded saint, John the Baptist. Is she bowing to Muslim oppression? She's wearing the scarf folded and tied under the chin in a style long used by American women. The mosque is the one Pope John Paul II visited. And it's a Christian tradition for women to cover their heads. In the words of St. Paul:
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone is disposed to be contentious— we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Corinthians 11:2-16)
You may not like that. I don't. But, clearly, headcovering is not just a Muslim thing. But even if it were, showing respect for the traditions of a place of worship you want to enter is completely appropriate. It's not as if she were asked to denounce Christianity to enter the mosque. The mosque was open to her as a place to worship a Christian relic, and she made the sign of the cross in there.

ADDED: Pelosi also wore an abaya. Not a Christian tradition. She also shook hands with the women inside and "watch[ed]" the men.

YET MORE: Here's Amanda Marcotte's summary of this post: "Ann Althouse wants Pelosi to be a little bit more of a sexbot." Whaa? Marcotte seems to be pulling in signals from outer space. Just flat out nutty, Amanda. Or did you even read this post? (Loser.)

AND: Amanda tries to cover up her blundering and I respond to that here.

When everyone tries to be amazing, imagine how amazing you need to be to be amazing enough.

This NYT article about ambitious girls is a few days old, but it's hanging around at the top of the "most emailed" list, so let's look at it now.
Esther and Colby are two of the amazing girls at Newton North High School here in this affluent suburb just outside Boston. “Amazing girls” translation: Girls by the dozen who are high achieving, ambitious and confident (if not immune to the usual adolescent insecurities and meltdowns.) Girls who do everything: Varsity sports. Student government. Theater. Community service. Girls who have grown up learning they can do anything a boy can do, which is anything they want to do.

But being an amazing girl often doesn’t feel like enough these days when you’re competing with all the other amazing girls around the country who are applying to the same elite colleges that you have been encouraged to aspire to practically all your life.
Well, of course, the harder people compete, the harder it is to win. Was there some kind of idea before that you could come out on top because most other kids wouldn't try too hard?
And, for all their accomplishments and ambitions, the amazing girls, as their teachers and classmates call them, are not immune to the third message: While it is now cool to be smart, it is not enough to be smart.

You still have to be pretty, thin and, as one of Esther’s classmates, Kat Jiang, a go-to stage manager for student theater who has a perfect 2400 score on her SATs, wrote in an e-mail message, “It’s out of style to admit it, but it is more important to be hot than smart.”

“Effortlessly hot,” Kat added.
This is new?
These students are aware that because more girls apply to college than boys, amid concerns about gender balance, boys may have an edge at some small selective colleges.
Now, this is new. This affirmative action for boys. Somehow, the boys as a group have held back from the all-out competition that makes it harder for everyone, and the two groups are judged separately, otherwise the sexes will be all out of balance at college, and that will only make the quest for love all that much more difficult for girls. It's hard to think how effortlessly hot you'd need to be. But with less successful, less competitive boys admitted to supply the desired balanced, these ultra-amazing girls will have access to boyfriends, mismatched boyfriends.

Oh, the woes of the young, high-achieving woman!

April 3, 2007

Annette Ziegler wins the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Defeating Linda Clifford. Congratulations Annette Ziegler.
The battle between Madison attorney Clifford, 58, and Ziegler, 43, was dominated by attacks on Clifford's lack of experience as a judge and allegations that Ziegler presided over cases in which she had conflicts of interest as a Washington County Circuit Court judge. Clifford faced an uphill climb from the low-turnout, three-way primary in February, where she came in a distant second with 27 percent of the vote to Ziegler's 57 percent....

The campaign was characterized by attack advertising from both sides. Clifford hammered on the conflict-of-interest allegations and charges that Ziegler was soft on sexual offenders. Ziegler highlighted Clifford's work as an immigration attorney in an ad featuring a howling wolf and horror-film-type lettering.

Clifford drew heavy support from labor unions and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party while Ziegler had a endorsements from law enforcement, fellow judges, district attorneys and Republican-affiliated groups in the non-partisan race.
Please note that I did not take sides in this race, though I did say something very critical about Ziegler on Wisconsin Public Radio that got some play in the press.

"American Idol" -- the final 9.

Tony Bennett is the guest celeb and the songs are the old standards. We're watching from a hotel room overlooking Town Lake here in Austin, Texas. At some point it will be sundown from the point of view of the bats that roost on the underside of the bridge over there -- Congress Avenue Bridge -- and I plan to dash out onto the balcony and see what that's like. Meanwhile, I'll be checking out "Bat Boy" (Phil Stacey) and the rest of the kids.

1. Blake Lewis sings "Mack the Knife." The 80-year-old Tony Bennett tells him, "This song is pretty rap." He gets through the lyrics and makes it acceptably snazzy if slightly tentative.

2. Phil Stacey is doing "Night and Day." Tony assures us he's a "good singer." He slows it way down. He's trying to convey meaning. There's a hungry burning, yearning inside of him, and he wants to spend the entire 24-hour period of every day for the rest of his life having sexual intercourse. It's an interesting proposition. Randy doesn't feel any passion. Paula needs him to have more joy. Simon: "It had all the joy of somebody singing in a funeral parlor... completely and utterly gloomy and really dark." Oooh, Bat Boy's bald head is gleaming with sweat as he assures us he was focusing on his wife.

3. Melinda Doolittle sings "I Got Rhythm." She's got daisies in green pastures. She does the song in three distinct phases, each more exciting than the one before. She ends really big. As usual, they love her.

4. Chris Richardson picks "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." Tony's advice is: Remember the lyrics. "You came out there with a vengeance... that was very cool and young and hip," says Randy. Paula -- as she's been doing all night -- repeats Randy's points. It was young and hip.

5. Jordin Sparks sings on key, which Tony Bennett really loves. She's doing "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." Terrific, I think. "Some fire going on here... You're like a pro and you're 17," says Randy. "You really are this magnet of joy," says Paula, who's "proud of" her. Simon notes that unlike Chris, she failed to make it young. He didn't "like it as much as Squidly and Diddly over here."

6. Gina Glockson is singing "Smile." She's the one contestant who seems deeply moved at meeting Tony Bennett. And Tony Bennett talks about the song, which he says makes him think about 9/11 and the soldiers fighting in Iraq. "Smile through your fear and sorrow...." Paula praises her for being "sentimental," which she thinks is a compliment.

7. Sanjaya Malakar has the goal of making us see that he really can sing. The song is "Dancing Cheek to Cheek." The hair is slicked down and sleek (rhymes with "cheek"). He dances with Paula. Randy: "You've turned into a great entertainer." Paula: "I get why people love you." Simon tries a different tack and says it was great. [ADDED: The point is, Simon doesn't like Sanjaya, and in past weeks he's told us so, yet Sanjaya has stayed on. To try to oust him, Simon is praising him. But since he's tipping his hand, it's not a serious strategy. Just some humor.]

8. Hayley Scarnato does "Ain't Misbehavin'" kinda atrociously. Surely, this is the performance that deserves the phrase -- used every week -- "all over the place." But she's got a pulchritudinous dress. That's got to have some effect. Simon's opinion of the performance is: "I think you've got great legs."

9. Saved for last and thus presumably the best, LaKisha Jones. "If she hits that big note at the end, it will be good," says Tony. The song is "Stormy Weather." She violates his advice and does a fancy thing at the end. "A sassy, great performance," says Simon.

Well, we didn't really get to see any bats. They seem to be off on migration. I take it as an omen that Bat Boy will be gone too. They made the poor boy's head sweat.

The rose garden.

There's a rose garden -- complete with historical plaque -- on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol:




And let us also embrace the beauty of what happens when God and Man and Pigeon work together.

Let's take a look at that 10 Commandments monument.

Strolling around the grounds of the Texas Capitol, I looked for the Ten Commandments monument, the one that was the subject of the Supreme Court case -- Van Orden -- two years ago. Here it is:

Ten Commandments monument

Here's how Chief Justice Rehnquist, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy, described the setting:
The 22 acres surrounding the Texas State Capitol contain 17 monuments and 21 historical markers commemorating the “people, ideals, and events that compose Texan identity.” Tex. H. Con. Res. 38, 77th Leg. (2001). [FOOTNOTE TEXT, with links to my photos]: The monuments are: Heroes of the Alamo, Hood’s Brigade, Confederate Soldiers, Volunteer Fireman, Terry’s Texas Rangers, Texas Cowboy, Spanish-American War, Texas National Guard, Ten Commandments, Tribute to Texas School Children, Texas Pioneer Woman, The Boy Scouts’ Statue of Liberty Replica, Pearl Harbor Veterans, Korean War Veterans, Soldiers of World War I, Disabled Veterans, and Texas Peace Officers.]...

Texas has treated her Capitol grounds monuments as representing the several strands in the State’s political and legal history. The inclusion of the Ten Commandments monument in this group has a dual significance, partaking of both religion and government.
Justice Breyer cast the deciding vote in Van Orden. Here's his description of the setting:
Here the tablets have been used as part of a display that communicates not simply a religious message, but a secular message as well. The circumstances surrounding the display’s placement on the capitol grounds and its physical setting suggest that the State itself intended the latter, nonreligious aspects of the tablets’ message to predominate....

The physical setting of the monument, moreover, suggests little or nothing of the sacred.... The monument sits in a large park containing 17 monuments and 21 historical markers, all designed to illustrate the “ideals” of those who settled in Texas and of those who have lived there since that time.... The setting does not readily lend itself to meditation or any other religious activity. But it does provide a context of history and moral ideals. It (together with the display’s inscription about its origin) communicates to visitors that the State sought to reflect moral principles, illustrating a relation between ethics and law that the State’s citizens, historically speaking, have endorsed. That is to say, the context suggests that the State intended the display’s moral message–an illustrative message reflecting the historical “ideals” of Texans–to predominate.
So it's just one monument in a group of monuments. What's your mental picture from that description? Like this?

Ten Commandments monument

See the other monuments?

Perhaps a longer view will reveal the context that matters so much in Establishment Clause cases:

Ten Commandments monument

Yeah, I know...

I said I'd write about the global warming case. I'm too on vacation to get to it right now. There's a million articles about it. I've got to read the case to say anything worthwhile at this point. The longer you wait, the more you have to say in this blogging game. If you can speak in the first couple hours... or better yet, minutes... such freedom! Wait a day... it's work. And I'm on vacation.

That's the secret?

I'm feeling some doubt.

A telling picture...

... of a 62-year-old man with his 37-year-old wife.

UPDATE: They seem to have taken down the picture, but you can see a tiny thumbnail of it here. It's Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.

For those who don't like their diavlogs surrounded in acid green.

Bloggingheads has competition from TNR's "What's Your Problem?" In the linked episode, Peter Beinart and Jonah Goldberg talk about blog comments, which Jonah thinks tend to be "inconsequential and snarky." Fortunately, they have comments. Let's check them out. I'd say they're more inconsequential than snarky. Somebody needs to bring the snark over there.

"The liberal justices, or at least their leader, Justice Stevens, may well have decided that refraining at this point was the wiser course...."

Linda Greenhouse has a theory about yesterday's cert. denial in Guantanamo detainees cases (Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States). Noting that Justice Stevens declined to vote along with Justices Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer and that while four votes are needed to hear a case, five are needed to decide it, she writes:
The liberal justices, or at least their leader, Justice Stevens, may well have decided that refraining at this point was the wiser course, given the risk that the case might come out the “wrong” way, from their point of view, with an affirmation of the appeals court’s decision that would then become a hard and fast Supreme Court precedent.

April 2, 2007

Another evening in Texas.


Bob Wright on why I thought I was "ambushed" on Bloggingheads.

Sorry, this isn't the post about the new Supreme Court case. I'll get to that later. Remember, I'm on vacation. But I've just got to post about the new Bloggingheads episode in which Bob Wright and Michael Kinsley talk about me.

Bob introduces the topic by saying that under "the new Bloggingheads business model," he's going to have to yell at Kinsley and threaten to hang up. It's "the precedent" and "a proven traffic-generation model." Kinsley says he's fine with that, "the sooner the better."

Referring to the precedent, set, of course, by me, Michael says:
I didn't completely understand it. I certainly sympathize with Ann, the woman who felt she'd been abused by the bloggers.
Bob says that's good and notes that I didn't get much sympathy from the Bloggingheads commenters. He goes on:
I'm sympathetic. You're sympathetic because you recently got trashed by liberal bloggers. I'm sympathetic because I am myself prone to fly off the handle.
Michael asks for an explanation of what exactly it was that upset me, and Bob tries to explain. You can go over and listen to the explanation, which I don't entirely agree with, because it lacks context. He makes it sound as though all I ever wrote about was that a woman posed in a way that accentuated her breasts!

Now, Bob says: "Ann, I think, thought it was a set up. She... and I'm slightly culpable for this in a way I could go into and now that I've said this, I guess I have to go into it." He explains that before a Bloggingheads episode, the diavloggers agree to a series of topics, and that Garance Franke-Ruta and I had not agreed to talk about that old controversy -- what Garance referred to as "the Jessica Valenti breast controversy." (I would have refused, by the way, and in the past, Bob has tried to get me to diavlog with someone on that subject, and I have declined.) Bob: "Ann thought this was an ambush. Okay?"

Michael guesses that it was within a larger topic of "people being rude on the internet." But that was not one of the agreed-upon topics either. Bob says he doesn't know what our topics were, but says he's "sure" the topic of "mean left-wing bloggers" was. Well, it wasn't!

Bob says, "so from Garance's point of view, there was a legitimate context." But, no, in fact, she introduced the whole topic.

Bob goes on: "Ann thought it was an ambush, and here's my culpability." He explains that when he was arranging the diavlog with Garance, she had said she'd like to diavlog with -- guess who? -- Jessica Valenti! Bob didn't think that would be a good idea, because he assumed the two of them would just agree about everything, and so he suggested me instead. He makes a point of saying that he didn't realize that Valenti was the subject of the old controversy, however. But he did see me as an "ideological opponent" of Valenti's, based on the way her name had come up in my diavlog with Glenn Reynolds.

Bob reveals that he'd given me all that background and says that he sees it as a basis for me to have assumed Garance and Valenti are "kind of allies." This "increased the plausibility that this is an ambush," he says.

Bob invites Kinsley to comment on it, and Kinsley says, "it makes for good video when people are really upset and threatening to leave" and tells a story about Christopher Hitchens storming off the set of "Crossfire."

I'm not planning to keep bugging you with the old Bloggingheads story (which is a continuation of the old Clinton-lunching-with-the-bloggers story), but Bob Wright and Michael Kinsley were talking about me.

Just you wait for the next post.

I see Justice Kennedy voted with the liberals on the global warming case. I'm on vacation, but I'm going to write about that case for you anyway. Because I care... and because we're just hanging out here at The Flightpath:

But why am I writing about that? I'm on vacation!

Here in Austin, I've got places to go. You're expecting something from me?


Events are taking place...


Just off in the distance....


No, no weddings or gala events for me. Just need to wander around... and see the pedestrian beauty...


... which is everywhere.

Road kill hair extension

I'm not trying to dredge up the old Bloggingheads thing...

Which is, you know, an old blogosphere flame war, but I see there's a transcription going around -- of this notorious segment of the diavlog -- that has a glaring error that is being used against me. I'm not going to link to any of the many blogs that are using this text, and I don't know what enterprising loser took the initiative to type it out, but it's perfectly easy to Google if you want to know who's purveying the defective text:
these are flame wars, and what I'm trying to say on the overarching point, is that the left side of the blogosphere is vicious and unfair and nasty to me, and I don't like it, and I'm trying to ask you why that's the way they treat me when I support most of what they're for. Meanwhile, on the right side of the blogosphere, where there's much less overlap, I think, I am treated in a very warm and connecting kind of way. And you're really just kind of undermining my point, uh, by bringing that up like that.
Here's what it should be, with the mistakes corrected in boldface.
These are flame wars, and what I'm trying to say on the overarching point, is that the left side of the blogosphere is vicious and unfair and nasty to me, and I don't like it, and I'm trying to ask you why that's the way they treat me when I support most of what they're for. Meanwhile, on the right side of the blogosphere, where there's much less overlap with what I think, I'm treated in a very warm and connecting kind of a way. And you're really just underlining my point by bringing that up like that.
See that last one! I don't say "undermining." I say "underlining." I will wait for the apologies from all the nasty, vicious characters who thought I'd hilariously misspoken and who used that as an occasion for mocking me. (And I didn't say "kind of" before it either, which just shows how sloppy the transcriber was. )

What I find hilarious is that the reaction to this video clip is really just underlining my point! The leftosphere is nasty and vicious to me. And they are trying to assassinate my character, as I say in the clip. They jumped to make themselves into the example of the very thing I was talking about. Ironic, no?

But let me admit something. I do think they have the motive to try to destroy me, and I can see why the left treats me nastily -- unlike the right -- even though I share their opinion on practically all the key issues (except national security).

I have obviously disaggregated myself from the fortunes of the Democratic Party. I will say what I have to say without trying to protect the party's interests. That's dangerous to them, and they should be afraid for me to have clout in the blogosphere. They have reason to portray me as crazy, stupid, drunk, or whatever the latest attack is. They should worry. And, as I say in the video, I will stand my ground.

The source of this distance I feel is exactly what I was talking about in those posts that ignited the old blogosphere flamewar: the way so many Democrats changed how they talked about sexual harassment in order to defend Bill Clinton. (Specifically, I was monumentally impressed by Stuart Taylor's comparison of the way Clinton and Clarence Thomas were treated.)

Let's take a closer look at what I wrote back then, when I mocked that photograph.

Bill Clinton, apparently eager to influence bloggers to give his wife favorable coverage as she sought the presidency, sat down for a lunch and a photo shoot with a select group of them. They ate up the lunch and the flattery it represented and posed looking thoroughly pleased. I think bloggers should maintain their independence and their critical stance, so I hated to read their gushing posts and to gaze on their shiny, happy faces in that photograph. I meant to be cruel to them.

(If they are cruel to me, I concede that I started it and that I meant to be nasty. In that sense, I can't complain... except for effect.)

My cruelty took the form of trying to ruin the picture they thought was so nice by merging it with the idea of Monica Lewinsky. The last thing Bill Clinton wants as he offers his prestige to the cause of his wife's quest for power is for us to think about Monica Lewinsky.

So I called attention to the fact that Jessica Valenti, positioned right in front of Clinton, did look a bit like that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I thought the photograph was set up in a way that was detrimental to the Clintons' interests, and I thought that was funny and that it presented an opportunity for some painful satire. I made it quite nasty, and I did it deliberately. I'm not sorry I did it. I mean to castigate feminists and so-called feminists who cozy up to Clinton. They were surely justified in fighting back at me, and I can understand why they want to ruin me.

But I did achieve my goal and ruin the photograph. You've got to admit that you cannot look at it the way the shiny, happy posers meant you to. The photograph is -- as they say -- reframed. If I must suffer for that achievement -- which I sought -- so be it.

April 1, 2007

Audible Althouse #81.

It's a podcast... about standing my ground in the blogosphere.

You don't need an iPod. You can stream it right through your computer here.

But people who get it subscribe on iTunes:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

There are so many phallic skyscrapers.

It's good to see some representation for the vulva: DSC02008.JPG 

ADDED: In the comments, some folks have trouble seeing what I'm talking about, and I admit to being influenced by that "snuck a snuke in her snizz" episode of "South Park." If you haven't seen it, just picture a female robot's genitalia. (Oh, don't tell me you don't do that all the time!) Then, Chip Ahoy offers up an image of a much more vulva-like building.








Wow! China! Aren't you blushing?

Austin images.

There's some desperately bad graffiti under that bridge (the one with the bats):



Man, that second one is so bad it makes me want to crumple up into a helpless ball of emotion and whimper "Hold me!"

Let's go to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and do the "Jesus Christ Superstar" singalong:


There's some sort of Cows on Parade type thing with guitars going on in Austin:


This one somehow represents Billy Bob Thornton.


If my eyeballs had the wings of an angel.


Posing at the Arthouse.




In Austin, Texas.