April 14, 2007

"They had on the most beautiful long, black leather trenchcoats. I thought... 'If I have to learn to write songs to get one of those, I will.'"

When Mick Jagger first saw the Beatles. Oh, you've done things too, motivated by beautiful clothes.

Come commiserate.

Surely, I'm not alone spending the Saturday slogging through taxes. It's much, much easier with TurboTax, but still...

Great podcast about old commercials...

... full of cool, podcasty digressions. From Retrocrush. I'm LOL, literally, really. (And it's inspiring me to podcast again. You can lose track of what podcasting is supposed to be. This is a perfect example.)

"She is definitely savvier, more cautious, and probably more cynical, than she was then..."

The NYT has a big front-page article on Hillary Clinton and the women who were her Class of 1969 at Wellesley College. Excerpt:
Eleanor Dean Acheson, the general counsel who was in the Clinton administration’s Justice Department, said Mrs. Clinton was only now emerging from her husband’s shadow.

“What people now perceive as Hillary’s distance, the criticism that she’s cold and calculating, and does nothing without a focus group, finds its root in that she has had to be, for 25 years, in the spotlight, and in the shadow of Bill,” Ms. Acheson said. “I think she’s going to get more relaxed as this campaign goes, and show more of the personal qualities her friends have always seen.”

Some of the classmates believe Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign seared his wife, especially the attacks on her statements about not being “some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette” or not having “stayed home and baked cookies.”

“When she saw that something as seemingly innocuous as that cookie statement set off such a firestorm, it took me by surprise and it must have taken her by surprise, too,” said Cheryl L. Walker, a literature professor at Scripps College. “I think her strong commitments are the same, but she is definitely savvier, more cautious, and probably more cynical, than she was then...”
There are 5 audio clips of interviews with Hillary's classmates here.

The man whose left pre-frontal cortex -- the center for positive emotion -- soared off the charts.

It's Matthieu Ricard:
A little smile plays at the edges of his mouth, his eyes look into the middle distance, serene, detached....

We confuse happiness with pleasurable experiences, with sensations, elation, the new car, the winning goal, he says. But the good news is that happiness can be learned. "You just need a little change in your mind. Change your mind, change your brain, change your life. Anyone can be the happiest person in the world. It just takes a little wisdom, a little perseverance and looking for happiness in the right place."
Here's his book: Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill.
Turn the clock back 40 years and 20-year-old Ricard was tipped as one of the most promising biologists of his generation, beginning a PhD under Nobel prizewinner Francis Jacob at the Institut Pasteur. His mother, Yahne Le Toumelin, was an artist, a friend of André Breton and Leonora Carrington, his father Jean-François Revel a leading philosopher. When he was 16, he had lunch with Stravinsky. With a career, an apartment, friends, skiing holidays, was he happy?

"Not especially. I didn't undergo intense heart-breaking suffering other than the usual of teenagers, disappointments, relationships. But I was a regular Parisian teenager who didn't know what to do or where to go in life. I knew what I didn't want - I didn't want a boring life - but I didn't know what I wanted at all."
He became a Buddhist monk:
He exchanged the life of a scientist in Paris for that of a hermit in the mountains, eating a simple diet of vegetables, spending months at a time in solitary contemplation....

"I remember a year ago I was sitting in my hermitage, I thought: 'OK, if I could make three wishes, what would I have?' Then I started laughing because what would I want? A big stereo - what would I do with it? A big car? I have minimal things, the tools I need for writing, and photography (he has published five books of photographs) but there's nothing I really need or want. I have two pairs of shoes. I only use one. If you know how to be content, it's like holding a treasure in the palm of your hand."
He realized what he wanted was: more free time.

"Free time" -- an interesting concept. You always do something with your time. You would have more free time if you saw yourself as free when you are doing whatever it is that you do. The question is, how did you get into the predicament of doing so many things that when you do them you do not feel free?

"Male authors outnumber female writers by a staggering 66 to 27..."

... on a list of the top 100 books, based on a survey of 5,000 employees of Waterstone's bookstore who were asked to name their favorite books written since 1982. (Waterstone's, Britain's largest bookstore chain, opened that year.)

Is this disparity in the sex of the authors really something that should stagger us? Do you demand an explanation? What do you think of this one?
Jon Howells, a spokesman for Waterstone's, ... said: "Women read more than men - the core customer is a woman aged between 35 and 55 - but what they read is right across the board: chick lit, crime fiction, biographies, heavyweight novels, and they don't care about the gender of the author.

"Subconsciously, I think men stick to male writers. They think that what women write doesn't appeal to them."
Yeah, blame men! You sure don't want to just give men credit for writing better books! It's got to be men's fault somehow that the list came out this way. Start with that premise, then work out an answer. You know what you've got to do to get along in this world. Whatever the results show, it means that women are superior. Your job is to say why.

What the basketball team wore and what the lacrosse team wore.

Robin Givhan writes about what the Rutgers basketball team wore to receive their apology from Don Imus: matching red and black warm-ups. What did it mean to dress like this?
The young women had been insulted as a team and they would respond as such. No player, not even the white members of the team, or Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer, tried to delineate herself as an individual -- to perhaps separate herself from Imus's disparaging remarks that reached a nadir when he declared the team members "nappy-headed ho's."
What Givhan doesn't quite say is that if they had dressed individually, people would have talked about their choices. Think of all the potential problems. A lot of current fashions are criticized as looking like something a prostitute would wear. But if they were to plan carefully and avoid the kind of clothes that could be characterized that way, it would be hard to avoid things that would be talked about as unfeminine. The sexist remarks made by Imus and company had portrayed the women as both too sexual and not feminine enough. How can you dress to be seen on camera by millions of people and not feel that you will seem to exemplify the remarks you want negated? You'd have to bring in brilliant stylists and buy new clothes all around. And then people would talk about that.
A few of the young women wore earrings. Others had on a bit of lip gloss. And while they wore their hair in a variety of styles from buns to bobs, none of it appeared to be nappy. (And if it was, so what? Nappy should not be mistaken for unkempt. )
Yes, this needs to be said! The effort to condemn Imus has created an unfortunate inference. Take a moment to visualize black women with beautiful naturally curly hair. It's not something to deny.

Givhan goes on to discuss the way the warm-up suits made the women look "like kids." The baggy clothes, she writes, hid "their athletic physiques" and made them look vulnerable. Interesting. In a way, the whole controversy has eclipsed their strength. We've been hearing about how hurt they are by the old man's stupid babbling. There was another path that could have been taken, the one where you ignore the old clod and treat him as an archaic irrelevancy. But somebody -- were these women the ones who called the shots? -- decided to play it as an attack on Imus, and that demanded that they present themselves as more fragile than strong.
They appeared smaller than one might expect of such successful athletes. They looked like kids, and they seemed vulnerable, like a chain of fold-and-cut paper dolls. They only needed to hold hands to complete the image.
Givhan contrasts the Rutgers team to the Duke lacrosse team, which just happened to step back into the limelight simultaneously, as the criminal charges against them were dropped. For their press conference, they wore jackets and ties:
David Evans's suit was a gray pinstripe and he wore it with a geranium-colored paisley tie. Collin Finnerty was wearing a navy blazer with chinos and a preppy striped tie. Reade Seligmann wore a blue button-down shirt with his suit and tie.
They didn't, of course, dress identically. (Not like these guys.)

Givhan notes that when the rape charges against the lacrosse team members were made, people judged them harshly because they were seen as "white, privileged and entitled." And now, appearing before the press to accept the public acknowledgment of their innocence, they wore the clothes of the "white, privileged and entitled." Evans made a point of talking about his privilege: he had the money to hire lawyers he needed to fight the injustice, and what about those who do not?
Privilege had helped him to claim a victory. He wasn't trying to hide it, pretending as if it didn't exist or apologizing for it. Only making the reasonable observation that everyone should be lucky enough to have it on their side.
Gracious of him to take that route. Yet it must be said: he had legal advice! On his own, he might have wanted to attack people for thinking ill of him out of prejudice against white, privileged guys. It was much better to show concern for the less fortunate. His statement processes the experience exactly the way prospective law students write their personal statements on admissions applications!

But yes, these are young people who deserve our good thoughts. As the WaPo headlines the Givhan piece: "In the Eye of a Storm, Beacons of Composure Rutgers, Duke Students Acquit Themselves Well." My personal stylists and legal counsel advise me that I should take that tack. But, hell, I'm blogging here. Life is more complex than that. Nevertheless, I wish all these young people well. And if they end up in law school -- I bet some of them will -- I hope they come to my school.

April 13, 2007

Signs of Austin, Texas.





A strange rabbit figure


Me, in Brooklyn.

Hey, I'm going to go live in Brooklyn for the next academic year.


Haven't done mine yet. Have you?

I cannot fathom the mind of the turtle.


What's with them standing so close together they're forced to bend their heads up like that? They have enough room to space out and hold their heads at a more natural angle. Yet they're all doing it, even the one in front who must be imagining the back end of a turtle. I cannot fathom the mind of the turtle. Life must be so different there on that log... which is in a little pond on the grounds of the University of Texas... near these waterlilies...


"Oh by the way, the person you've been chatting with for a week is me, Halle Berry."

How celebrities escape from the grueling life that is being a celebrity:
"I was just trying to chat anonymously and just be another person in the chatroom having a conversation," Berry said.

"When I decided to say: 'Oh by the way, the person you've been chatting with for a week is me, Halle Berry,' they thought I was just some kook.

"They were like: 'Right, sure, get out of here.' They didn't really believe me at that point. So chatting hasn't gone that well for me."
I don't get her conclusion. Why would their disbelief -- which is justified -- ruin the experience? If you sought to escape from the restraints of fame, and you got people to talk to you as if you were an ordinary person, why do you feel unfulfilled? You got what you sought. The disbelief was part of that, absolutely the way people would react to an ordinary person. Why are you miffed? Seems like you really wanted the diva treatment after all.


The radio station has WiFi now. You'll see if I have the gall to simulblog.

Push the button at the top here to listen live, starting in a couple minutes. You can call in to talk about any current news story.

UPDATE: Now, I'm waiting to go on the WNYC show....

ANOTHER UPDATE: I'm on the radio in NY. Here's the streaming audio for the "Week in Review" WPR show.

YET MORE: Listen to the WNYC show, about how Giuliani is calculating his position on abortion:

"For a few days, it seemed as if Don Imus would somehow pull out of the death spiral."

I liked this media analysis by David Carr, about why the Don Imus affair became the perfect storm:
“All the elements were there,” said James Carville, the political consultant who has appeared on the show and has seen a few stories blow up in his time. “You had some dry brush, gasoline, high winds, no rain and low humidity and before you know it, man, it was a wildfire.”

Carr goes through all the elements, so read the whole thing, but this one seemed especially apt to me:
THE WRONG VICTIMS Speaking of targets, Mr. Imus chose poorly. “Imus has a long history of saying far more negative, divisive things,” said Robert M. Entman, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University. “In this case, he chose a college basketball team. College athletics is sacred in our culture in a way. We tell ourselves that it is a place that we have transcended race. This was an attack on the purity of sport, student athletes who are not paid to perform. In picking on a whole team, he chose the wrong noun to go with the adjectives.”

He also picked on the wrong coach. C. Vivian Stringer protects her posse; her eloquent, aggressive defense of the team — and the obvious class of the players at the podium — made for riveting television with a great deal of emotional content. The Rutgers institutional decision to treat the affair as a teachable moment put Mr. Imus in an even deeper hole.
Carr also notes that YouTube kept things going in a new way, and this led me to go look at the clip. Previously, I'd only read the "nappy headed ho" remark. Now, I was hearing the whole context, which included the sidekick persisting in degrading the black women, and portraying them as unfeminine compared to the white players and using the over-the-top word "jigaboos."

Having seen that clip, I'm now much less sympathetic than I was to Imus before. That was truly disgusting.

I've got to run and do my radio show, as noted below. I'll update and say more later. Let me just add that I don't watch sports and I had no fervor about the basketball championships or I might have had a more heated reaction to the nastiness. When people you already have warm feelings about are insulted, you get angrier faster.

April 12, 2007

Kos hates the "Blogger Code of Ethics" so much...

... he doesn't even have a little sympathy for Kathy Sierra!

(Sierra, the blogger who received death threats, has been used lately as leverage in arguments for trying -- somehow -- to tame the wild blogosphere. Me, I detest the "Blogger Code of Ethics," but I put what happened to Kathy Sierra in a separate category from the usual verbal nastiness on the web.)

What's the best take on this? 1. Liberal men never were feminists. They just pretend like they are until their own interests conflict. Thanks for serving up the evidence for something I've been saying all along. 2. Those whining, repressive victimologists. How cool to see Kos kick their ass.

Imus fired, ushering in a new era, where racist talk will no longer be tolerated in mainstream entertainment media.

The precedent is set. Let's go on from here. Everyone is on notice. This will not be tolerated. You'll have to figure out new ways to have your fun and shock people. No more racial slurs. Everybody stop now.

Radio alert.

I'm going to do two radio shows tomorrow morning. One is the "Week in Review" show on Wisconsin Public Radio, at 8 Central. We go over the various news stories and take call-ins. It's on the "Ideas Network" stations in Wisconsin, and if you go to the WPR link, you'll see a button to listen on line. You too can call in! You can bring up a news story from the past week and make me talk about it.

At 10 Central, 11 Eastern, I'm going to do The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York Public Radio (93.9FM/820AM). We'll talk about how Rudy Giuliani has been attempting to deal with the abortion issue in the 2008 campaign, something I wrote about in a NYT column -- which you can read here if you have TimesSelect.

And don't forget the very hot new Bloggingheads episode with me and Bob Wright talking about breasts and me and me and breasts and Jesus... etc.

Explain Madonna.

Can someone explain what happened to her face? Has she had all her molars extracted? I'm actually getting scared!

The way things look in Madison, Wisconsin.

April snow

I've got to get out in that crazy snow. Before going, I wanted to link to my new Bloggingheads episode but it's not up yet, so I'll just link to the main site and you can check for it in a while. I don't know what the title is going to be, but it could be something like "Breasts! Breasts! Breasts!" or "Is Bob Forcing Althouse to Keep Talking About Breasts?" or "The Thing After Which Althouse Will Never Ever Have to Talk About Breasts Ever Again, We Hope" or "We Don't Care What They Say, We Just Want to Know If She Has a Crazy Freakout Meltdown."

UPDATE: Here is is. The title is "All About Ann." So, fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wow, the comments over at bhTV are so lame! La la la I can't hear what you're saying about Bill Clinton.

The 100 greatest movie lines.

According to Premiere. Only #51-100 available now. You have to click through them one by one, but there are pictures. Of course, it's a matter of taste. Guess the age of the folks who came up with these dubious gems:
86. "Can I borrow your underpants for ten minutes?"...

67. "Go, get the butter."

"I've dished it out for a long time and now it's my time to take it. That's fine. Bring it on."

Drudge is collecting things Imus is saying on the radio today about his predicament.

And here's a summary of what Howard Stern has said about it:
Artie said that when you've been on the air for that long, you should have the ability to argue that he's been on the air for 40 years and he's really not a racist. Imus doesn't even have that as an excuse. Howard said that he could never think in his mind that those girls on the basketball team are ''nappy headed hos'' like Imus called them. He said Imus really screwed up by wearing that cowboy hat that he's been wearing for years now. That gives people a warning that he's a redneck.
It's annoying to read summaries of the Howard Stern show! You have to hear it. But anyway, I think Howard was making an argument like one I made about Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic comments. Mel was drunk, and some people said that meant we should brush off what he said. But my position was that the ideas have to be in your head. Drink lowers you inhibitions, so that things flow out that you held back when you had your sober caution intact.

Now, Imus wasn't drunk, but he was doing ad lib comedy. How can you do that but to let go of the inhibitions that allow ordinary people to function in social situations? He's got to take that risk to give a comic performance. But what comes out must in some way be in there. He's funny -- when he is -- because he's got a mix of interesting things in his head, some of which are the bad and unkind thoughts that may make us laugh because they are things that we hold in too.

We are all flawed, and we do need our comedians. We should talk back and express outrage about some things, but when is the censuring too much? How long must a man abase himself and apologize? How much do we want to see a man grovel?

Here's Amba:
Does anyone catch a smell of human sacrifice?

And whose sins has Don Imus been chosen to die for? What is going on here? The reaction seems so disproportionate to the offense...

I mean... go read this and then come back and tell me Imus is a capital offender. He's just a jerk! He should apologize and make amends to those basketball gazelles, sure, but why is he, of his whole populous class of offenders, getting his throat cut on the altar? And Jesse Jackson getting all high and mighty about it, that's funny!

The selective sanctimony of our society is stupefying....

[T]he thing that maybe freaked me out about it the most: I heard someone, I think Tucker Carlson, say solemnly, in almost hushed tones, "Barack Obama said he should be fired," as if that had been the deciding factor, the nod that dropped the blade. Who is Barack Obama all of a sudden? God? King Solomon? Emperor Nero?
Racism and sanctimony. Is there some way to get them to stop feeding off each other?

Aw, come on, you didn't believe all those things really happened to David Sedaris?

Can't we just accept the convention that "humor" gets classified as "non-fiction"? No one is tricked into thinking the author is asserting that these things really happened.

Kurt Vonnegut.

His novels — 14 in all — were alternate universes, filled with topsy-turvy images and populated by races of his own creation, like the Tralfamadorians and the Mercurian Harmoniums. He invented phenomena like chrono-synclastic infundibula (places in the universe where all truths fit neatly together) as well as religions, like the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent and Bokononism (based on the books of a black British Episcopalian from Tobago “filled with bittersweet lies,” a narrator says).
What Kurt Vonnegut book meant the most to you? To me it's "Cat's Cradle," which is the book they had us all read before we showed up as freshman at the Residential College (at the University of Michigan) in 1969. When we got there, we sat on the floor and talked about it, and, on the instruction of our professors, tried to Boku-Maru.

I wrote a post about him, back in '04, when he was ranting about a lot of things, including his own will to live:
But, when you stop to think about it, only a nut case would want to be a human being, if he or she had a choice. Such treacherous, untrustworthy, lying and greedy animals we are.
I said:
I sometimes like to think that we were given a choice whether to be born, that there was a beforelife (we like to think there's an afterlife) in which the range of possibilities in a human life were fully explained and we could say yes or no, just like you can look at a rollercoaster and decide if you want to take the ride. So all of us here are the ones who decided to take the ride. I like to speculate about what percentage of beforelife dwellers decide to say yes. I imagine Vonnegut's suggestion is correct: the percentage would be small. The downside risks are too horrible. But we're the brave souls--we're Vonnegut's nuts--who once found the idea of being human so appealing.
Vonnegut had quoted Camus--“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide”--and said: "All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being," and "I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me."

Was he sorry to still be alive when he said that? I couldn't believe it, maybe only because I wasn't sorry he was alive.

Haley's gone.

Sanjaya remains. I'm amused, Googling for news of last night's "American Idol" results, to see that every story highlighted what happened to Sanjaya, which was what happened to every contestant other than Haley Scarnato: nothing.

This season's show is pretty boring, and the contestants just aren't that good. The focus on Sanjaya is supposed to distract us from that.
[T]o help pad things out for the full hour, Ryan Seacrest performs man-on-the-street interviews, lending even more credence to the fact that SANJAYA IS FOR THE CHILDREN.... The last spot at the center of the stage comes down to Sanjaya or Chris, and after some tooling around and making Sanjaya even more the center of attention than he usually is, beautiful Chris is sent to join the other two....
I'm not sufficiently distracted. Sanjaya is not bad enough for it to be bizarre that he's there -- and the others aren't so fantastic that it's obvious they deserve to be there. The whole thing is getting old, and at this point we're being played by Fox for ratings.

I know, I know. I watch. That is, I TiVo'd through an hour show in 10 minutes.

April 11, 2007



Simulblogging: "Political Correctness, Academic Speech, and Free Speech on Campus."

I'm at this debate, which I mentioned the other day, between Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and UW polisci prof Howard Schweber, here at the University of Wisconsin Law School. I'll just jot down some notes as the spirit moves me.

1. Lukianoff. He's going to talk fast. Keep up. Some people think PC is a relic of the 80s, but really universities do repress what makes them uncomfortable. Not so much political speech, but speech that offends liberal values about diversity. He reels out a lot of examples of campus speech codes and the way they've been applied. PC is alive and well, and it harms the "atmosphere for debate."

2. Schweber. Is there a right to be offensive at the university? You wouldn't get away with this sort of thing in the workplace. (For example, posting a flyer saying overweight women should take the stairs for your convenience.) Academic freedom doesn't mean you have a right to be obnoxious, only that you can choose your viewpoint. The real threat comes from the right, suppressing speech because of ideology.

3. Schweber makes the distinction between crude drunken "conduct" and real academic freedom, which is justified by the positive goal of enabling people to oppose "the current regime."

4. Though Lukianoff -- lucky enough? -- said he was going to talk fast and did, but Schweber talked much faster.

5. The first question from the audience is about Kevin Barrett teaching the 9/11 conspiracy theory in his class here on Islam. Schweber says it's an easy case because he was teaching an unpopular idea critical of the government. The important line is between "Fuck you" and "Fuck the draft."

6. Lukianoff says the UW got everything wrong on Barrett. They objected to his speaking on his ideas outside of the classroom, and inside the classroom, they felt unable to dictate the scope of what subjects can be covered in the class. By allowing him to teach what didn't belong in a course on Islam, they got him the attention of mainstream media, and then they tried to stop him from taking advantage of these opportunities to promote his ideas outside of the classroom. That's exactly backwards.

7. Schweber agrees.

8. Alan Weisbard has the next question. "We're living in a time of blogs... AutoAdmit... Googling." People are afraid of being identified in public speech. His question is about preserving the right to anonymous speech.

9. I realize what bothers me so much about what Schweber is saying. He doesn't value the form of expression, only the content. He thinks what people have to say can be reframed in more polite terms. But I think the form matters, that there is value in the very sound of disrespect, mockery, contempt, and offensiveness.

UPDATE: The Badger Herald covers the debate.

A seaman's tale: they took his iPod and said he looked like Mr. Bean.

The British hostages sold their stories and, doing so, brought on some painful mockery.
Seaman [Arthur] Batchelor's claim that he cried himself to sleep after his Iranian captors likened him to the comedy character Mr Bean made him a laughing stock.

One serving soldier posted: "Batchelor didn't do the reputation of servicemen much good either! Being broken by being called Mr Bean FFS! - that must be on a par with Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition and the comfy cushions."

Comments left on unofficial forces' websites, the Rum Ration and the British Army Rumour Service laid into Ms Turney and Mr Batchelor.

Another servicemen says of Mr Batchelor's complaint that his iPod was stolen by the Iranians: "What I wish to know is why a young lad on a boarding party detail needed to take his iPod? If he listened to The Ride of the Valkyries as he sped towards the target ship, what did he listen to on his trip to Iran?"

Headline that confused me: "J-Lo and Anthony defend marriage."

For a minute there, I thought they were taking a stand against gay marriage. But really, they're just arguing with people who think they're having a rough time of it between the two of them.

It's snowing....

It's snowing and I'm overwhelmed with ennui....

Should I be talking about the news stories for you?

I'm so bored with Imus....

Imus and everything....

When bloggers are too intrablog.

I blog (and vlog) about blogging sometimes, but I also try to resist it. For example, in that famous outburst of mine on Bloggingheads recently, I didn't want to impose on viewers by putting a remark that offended me into context, because I didn't think it made sense to appropriate Bloggingheads time to explain an old fight among bloggers. I think viewers (and readers) must get annoyed at bloggers going on about blogging. And I know I'm doing it now. But I ran across this Bloggingheads segment where they go very intrablog for a whole segment and talk about something that they assume we get, but in fact, they are talking about something -- "Blogroll Amnesty Day" -- that I've never even heard of. I mean, I blog a lot, every day, so if there's something about blogging that I haven't heard of, I have to think it's obscure enough to require an explanation. And not only do they talk about it a lot, they are oblivious to the possibility that viewers don't know what they are talking about. Not to mention the problem of whether we'd care if we did know. Last week, I was on vacation, taking a bath in my hotel room and, like the web addict that I am, for something to listen to, instead of something normal like soothing music, I put on the newest Bloggingheads episode. So there I am, lolling in the hot water, listening to Bloggingheads creator Bob Wright and internet god Michael Kinsley and they start talking about me -- me and that time I raised my voice and got mad talking with Garance. And Bob is giving background on the story that includes the sort of thing I thought I'd be misappropriating Bloggingheads time to go into. And asking Michael Kinsley to care. And Kinsley acted like he sort of cared a little, though not enough to really want to rake over the details. Which seemed sensible to me. Anyway, I'm thinking about this because I'm actually going to record a Bloggingheads with Bob today where we'll go into what I called the "old blogosphere flamewar" when I was trying to work through my minute of excessive emotion with Garance. And then we'll also have to talk about my minute of excessive emotion with Garance.... And, good lord, what's this?! So we'll also have to talk about what Garance and Eric Alterman had to say in a new Bloggingheads about me and that time I got mad at Garance. Sigh. It's all sooooo intrablog. And vortex-y.

April 10, 2007

The Duke Lacrosse case...

To be dropped!

"I'm so not sexy."

Says Melinda Doolittle, responding to Jennifer Lopez, who's encouraging her to reveal her sexuality on this week's "American Idol," where the theme is "Latin" music. Sway me now, she sings, with a big, red lipstick smile. Finally, she gets some criticism. (Really, constant praise makes a person boring.) Simon says, "a bit lazy, a little bit wooden." She shows some smarts, explaining, alluding to his previous complaints that he wasn't finding anything to complain about: "He really wanted to say something bad, and I'm glad he got the chance." Great, some personality.

Second, LaKisha (which makes me think they are trying to help Jordin Sparks, by moving her competition to the front end of the show). She sings that "Conga" song, which Simon says is "not a singer's song." I can see the pattern of the night. It's all about telling the kids to be hot... and how it's never hot enough. (Isn't there some offensive ethnic stereotyping here? It's not supposed to matter. We're telling kids to be hot.)

Now, Jennifer Lopez is trying. She's not sleepwalking, phoning it in like Gwen Stefani. She knows she has to show us this matters. I have never cared about her or been a fan of any kind, but this show is making me like her. With Chris Richardson, she corrects his pronunciation of a Spanish word and advises him to take the key up a step. Paula thinks it was "hot!" "sexy!"

Hayley Scarnato does that "Rhythm of the Night" song, and everyone's just "you have great legs" again.

Our bald wonder Phil Stacey is up next. Something about "Maria, you know you are my lover..." Blah.

Finally, it's Jordin Sparks. (So, my favorite Blake gets the final slot.) She's doing "The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," making me realize for perhaps the first time that it's a different song from "Rhythm of the Night." I'm bored, but I feel like Randy's going to say it's "hot." Randy says it's "wonderful" and "great" and "the wow factor." Paula's all "you're out there." Simon: "okay... nothing stunning."

So, now it's my Blake. (Blake Lewis.) "I Need to Know." The judges love him... and I have to admit this whole genre doesn't hit me the way it's supposed to.

Oh, no! What am I thinking? There's still one more. I have to count, and then I realize: Sanjaya! Ooh, they put him last. He's going to do "Besame Mucho," an old-style Spanish song. I'm touched. This is a different genre, really, isn't it? Oh, he's sitting down. That means something. And he's growing a mustache and a goatee. That's all new. It's rather dull, but they act like it was kinda good.

Whew! I'm glad this one's over!

What are the most memorable political moments from radio and television?

The Museum of Broadcast Communications will have a top 100. Meanwhile, here's one contributor's top 10. The top 10 is clogged with some obvious choices, so it would be more interesting to see the next 1o. Anyway, Bush is represented by "I can hear you!" Clinton, by I have "caused pain in our marriage."

A panel next week at Dartmouth.

If you're in the area, you might be interested in attending. If not, you can bet I'll blog about it.

"Mass Communication for the Masses: The Power of Weblogs"


4:30 PM – 3 Rockefeller Hall

Panelists will share their thoughts on the power of blogs in creating communities, influencing local and national politics, and the role they think that blogs will play in the 2008 election. Finally, they will discuss the conflict between weblogs and main stream media.


ANN ALTHOUSE, Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin

Visit Ann's blog at http://althouse.blogspot.com/

LAURA CLAWSON, Mellon Fellow, Sociology Department, Dartmouth College and Contributing Editor, Daily Kos

Visit Laura's blog at http://misslaura.dailykos.com/

BRENDAN NYHAN, Co-founder, Spinsanity and co-author, All the President's Spin

Visit Brendan's blog at http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/

JOHN HINDERAKER '71, Partner, Faegre & Benson, LLP

Visit John's blog at http://www.powerlineblog.com/

ROGER SIMON '64, Founder/CEO, Pajamas Media

Visit Roger's blogs at http://rogerlsimon.com/ and at http://pajamasmedia.com/

JOE MALCHOW, Dartmouth '08

Visit Joe's blog at http://dartblog.com/

ANDREW SEAL, Dartmouth '07

Visit Andrews's blog at http://thelittlegreenblog.blogspot.com/

"The correct interpretation of the song: to be sung by a male, not a female, and to be sung sadly/ruefully/bitterly, not exuberantly."

Jeremy recommends Greg Laswell's recording of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun":
Laswell offers what I have been arguing for years via karaoke is the correct interpretation of the song: to be sung by a male, not a female, and to be sung sadly/ruefully/bitterly, not exuberantly. It's unclear from the recording, however, if he also steals my tactic of choosing an audience member at random to be the target of this rue.
I love the expression "arguing via karaoke." And songs transformed by the sex of the singer is an old topic of mine.

I paid the 99¢ and got the Laswell recording. I liked the idea better in writing, let me say. So maybe you just want to steal the idea for your next karaoke venture, guys. Or do you think perhaps a guy singing this song is really quite creepy? Not because a guy is singing a girl song, but because a guy singing this particular song must be the boy who would take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world.

"Did Cole not do a preemption check before writing his op-ed?"

An anonymous comment at Above the Law tweaks Georgetown Lawprof David Cole. The post itself consists of David Lat saying he's bored with the old topic of laptops in the law school classroom. Haven't we all already said what we have to say? (Here's my old post, written last year, and grousing that it's an "old topic.")

To be a little fair to Cole, he does report survey results:
How does banning laptops work in practice? My own sense has been that my class is much more engaged than recent past classes. I'm biased, I know. So I conducted an anonymous survey of my students after about six weeks -- by computer, of course.

The results were striking. About 80 percent reported that they are more engaged in class discussion when they are laptop-free. Seventy percent said that, on balance, they liked the no-laptop policy. And perhaps most surprising, 95 percent admitted that they use their laptops in class for "purposes other than taking notes, such as surfing the Web, checking e-mail, instant messaging and the like." Ninety-eight percent reported seeing fellow students do the same.
Assuming no defects in the survey -- actually, I'd like to see the whole thing -- I wonder why students don't voluntarily set the laptops aside if they are so happy without them? Are they helpless addicts who require compulsory rules to do what they want to do? Or do they like the exclusion of tools they worry that other students might be using more effectively? Maybe the 30 percent who don't like the no-laptop policy are ace note-takers on the keyboard who feel awkward and disabled handling a pen.

Why are law types so fond of rules and repression? It makes me sick.

Everyone is talking...

... about Don Imus.

Cursing out the school principal on MySpace.

A court protects the student's right.
In February 2006, Greencastle Middle School Principal Shawn Gobert discovered a Web page on MySpace purportedly created by him. A.B., who did not create the page, made derogatory postings on it concerning the school's policy on body piercings.

The state filed a delinquency petition in March alleging that A.B.'s acts would have been harassment, identity deception and identity theft if committed by an adult. The juvenile court dropped most of the charges but in June found A.B. to be a delinquent child and placed her on nine months of probation.
What result if the student had created the page?

CORRECTION MADE: I had the court as the "Eighth Circuit," which I think I must have taken from an earlier version of the linked news article. But, in fact, it is simply an intermediate state court in Indiana. Sorry.

April 9, 2007

A profound movie experience.

I'm watching one of the first movies I ever saw... from back in the days when TV played "The Early Show," "The Late Show," "The Late Late Show," and -- if I'm not mistaken -- "The Late Late Late Show." I only watched "The Early Show" back in the 1950s, when I was a child, and only when my mother called my attention to something. I now realize she was being highly selective. Perhaps the second movie I ever saw in my life -- the first was "The Little Fugitive" -- was the Shirley Temple movie "Captain January."

This dance, with Buddy Ebsen, is supremely charming:

"Come Along and follow me, to the bottom of the sea..." Did that influence Robert Zemeckis in "Back to the Future" to make the prom theme "Enchantment Under the Sea"? There's a scene right after the dance where a bunch of crusty old sailors teach Shirley how to spit. That had to be the source material for the spitting scene in "Titanic."

And speaking of influences, I can see how much this influenced me. Shirley is angrily defiant as she stands up to the prissy female truant officer who doesn't like the feisty attitude she's learning from the men. The truant officer wants to put her in an institution, away from Captain January, the kindly lighthouse keeper who found her after a shipwreck.
You should be taken home and spanked! What kind of man is this Captain January to allow you to run around?
This is some heavy dialogue for a young child to hear. (Shirley has just been looking at a picture she thinks is her dead mother and has tried to sing the song "Asleep in the Deep.")
Helen: How can anyone sleep in the deep?
Capt. January: That's the long last sleep, Star.
Helen: Does everyone have to die?
Capt. January: Yes, everyone does.
Helen: Even you and me?
Capt. January: Yes, when the time comes.
Helen: Do you think we'll make it till Christmas?
Capt. January: Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if we did.
Yes, Shirley reminds you of death, then tries to cheer you back up with Christmas and short term hopes.

ADDED: Want to see more Buddy Ebsen? Here -- "Broadway Melody of 1936"-- he dances with a full size woman (his sister Vilma).

Chris Cornell.

Don't you love him? Did you know he has an acoustic version of "Billie Jean"?

(Here's his MySpace page.)

"Some of what we've been hearing is that women would like to have a place where they can connect with other women..."

Says American Airlines in an email, directing me to their special women's page:
This web page is about you – our valued customer. We've listened to women like you and recognized the need to provide additional information tailored to your business and pleasure travel needs and lifestyle.
It's so Oprah-esque, there are even book recommendations:
We asked travelers what books they enjoyed reading on their last flight, and came up with a list of interesting, inspiring, and sometimes surprising suggestions. Here are our top five picks –

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim by David Sedaris
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Absolute Friends by John Le Carre
Oh, yeah, of course, we want inspiring. Got to have things for my soul. "Eat, Pray, Love." Or should that be Eat Airline Food, Pray, Love?

And butter me up for more travel by telling me about the charities you support.
As women, we naturally want to assist where we can....
Unlike those selfish men!

Let me guess which charity you support? Breast cancer research!
American Airlines is a proud sponsor of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Lean more about our sponsorship of the Komen Foundation and how you can get involved...
How did I get that? ("Lean more"? Where are my diet tips?)

I'm sorry, but I'm in a big rush to get to a meeting or I would mock this website more systematically.

You know how we women are so busy! And anyway, leave it to the guys to be systematic!

"There is something a little strange about YLJ changing the text of an article..."

"... (even if it is just an aspect of the byline) after it has been published, and to do so without advance notice and discussion with the author." More overreacting to the AutoAdmit thing.

UPDATE: The linked post is now updated to say that the author was given advance notice:
Through some careful wording in his post on First Movers, [Anthony] Ciolli left me with the impression that he was sandbagged by this development when in fact he chose not to respond to an email to him that informed him of what YLJ stated its plans were. That said, having seen the letter YLJ wrote to Ciolli, it is clear that YLJ's plans to change the essay were not an invitation to discussion or negotiation, since the letter opens with "We are appalled by the postings on AutoAdmit.com that threaten and defame our classmates, and we have decided to disable our website’s link to www.autoadmit.com. This letter describes the effects of that decision and our reasons for it."

Here's what I take to be the upshot of the saga: YLJ gave advance notice to Ciolli and had Ciolli wanted to find a solution better than what was proposed, he could have tried to have done so but he didn't even bother to respond.

"Political Correctness, Academic Speech, and Free Speech on Campus."

It's a debate, sponsored by the Federalist and American Constitutional Societies, between Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and polisci prof Howard Schweber.
April 11, at 7:00 PM
Room 5240, University of Wisconsin Law School

I don't know Lukianoff, but Schweber is always great fun to listen to.

Places where we ate, in and around Austin.

There was always another café:

Café Mundí

That's Café Mundí.

Waiting for food at The Salt Lick:

The Salt Lick

(The answer to Question 2.)

At Vespaio, we split two pasta dishes...


And gobbled up calamari:


By far our favorite restaurant was Uchi, but unfortunately, it was way too dark to take good pictures. We went there on Wednesday and got the fabulous omakase that included all sorts of things, including rabbit salad. Then, we kept talking about it so much that we went back on Friday. We asked for some different, more sushi oriented omakase -- and we got it. Everthing was sublime, especially the sea urchin.

Ah, what will I do without all these restaurants, my delightful dinner companion, and the inclination to go out every night? Actually, I know. I made a giant pot of my favorite Bolognese sauce, and I'll eat pasta every night until it's gone. I'll be perfectly happy, just as happy in Madison going to class and talking about the Supreme Court as I'd be traipsing around Austin on Spring break.

The Blogger's Code of Conduct.

What do you think of this code? The trouble with a speech code is... well, I hate speech codes! But aside from that general principle, what I foresee is endless argument about the meaning of the terms in the rules and how the rules apply. These discussions will be tedious and full of self-serving assertions. For example, Rule 6 (as it currently appears in the linked wiki):
We ignore the trolls. We prefer not to respond to nasty comments about us or our blog, as long as they don't veer into abuse or libel.
When does a vigorous, challenging writer become a "troll"? When is something "nasty," so that we should keep silent (and expect you to understand the meaning of our silence), and when is it "abuse" or "libel" (so that we should respond)? If you say something mean about me and I don't respond -- and I profess to follow The Code -- does that mean I judge you to be a troll and I concede that you have neither abused nor libeled me? Or why don't we have a big discussion about the infinite subtlety of the weasel word "prefer"? Here's another attempt at a blogging code. Here's a big write-up on the codification efforts in the NYT:
A subtext of both sets of rules is that bloggers are responsible for everything that appears on their own pages, including comments left by visitors.
This is a terribly damaging idea that would stultify debate. But I do think bloggers need to respond and delete when they are notified about certain things, like threats of violence, clear libel, and the fraudulent appropriation of a person's name.
[The codifiers] say that bloggers should also have the right to delete such comments if they find them profane or abusive.
Should? Obviously, we do have this right! I think the point must be that other people don't have the right to criticize a blogger who deletes something if it's whatever The Code ends up saying is deletable. But that is absurd. If there is a code defining deletability, people will argue about whether the standard of deletability is met and also -- not everyone will subscribe to The Code -- about how deleting is repressive. And, of course, there will be assertions of selective deletion -- that is, people will accuse the blogger of only deleting the profane/abusive comments that go against the blogger's ideology. And these accusations will probably be correct. But we'll have to argue about whether they are correct. Won't that be fascinating? ADDED: As you can see from Memeorandum (and as you would predict), a lot of bloggers are writing about the NYT article. Here's Captain Ed:
This is one of those well-intentioned but doomed reform efforts that sound reasonable but will have no chance of changing anything. Before the reform leaves the dock, it has already split into several "standards", which will cause confusion on which logo means what rules and under which circumstances. Bloggers and commenters will have to look for logos, and then will endlessly argue over each individual post or comment as to whether it meets the guidelines.... Most of us came into the blogosphere to get away from editorial restrictions imposed by others. We allow our own judgments and values to guide our publications. That may result in some bruised feelings from time to time, but our readers make the decision as to whether we have met their editorial guidelines, and that should be good enough in a free market.
Ntodd -- who is always saying mean things about me! -- says:
Why do we need any "recommendations" from the leading lights of Web2.0? The whole point of blogging is to bring personal styles and thoughts to bear, not to follow some guidelines that wicked smart people who earn money doing consulting think up. Oh yeah, sure, they're soliciting comments, like this will be some big Come To Blogger Jesus thing and we'll all talk about our feelings, sing Kumbaya, tearfully hug each other at the end of camp and promise to write each other. Then as soon as Mom and Dad pick up us, we'll promptly go back to our old lives and friends and forget about Tim and Jimmy and the cute girl--you know, whatsername--in Tent #4 and the camp mascot dog, Sadie.
Virgil Libertas calls the NYT "Miss Blog-o-Manners" and tells it to "go piss up a rope."
It is nice to see the Times has its eyes firmly on the important issues of our day, rather than unpleasant shit like Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Darfur....
Now that I think about it, the NYT really has an interest in siding with the blog-o-niceness movement. Bloggers are a threat to the Times in part because we can do so many things that a mainstream newspaper can't. So wouldn't it be great if we were stuck with their standards? Stop being vicious and wild! Write like the NYT, and maybe people will just read the NYT. Here's Dan Drezner:
I hereby predict it will go nowhere... The one fascinating thing about [NYT writer Brad] Stone's story is what's not in it. Despite endless complaints about rising partisanship in the blogosphere, no example was given of declining civility in the poliitical [sic] blogosphere. That doesn't mean it's not happening, of course, but it's still surpring [sic] that Stone failed to offer up such an example.
I hope people wake up and notice how the Kathy Sierra story is being leveraged (something I talked about here). A woman received real threats of violence. Those threats are criminal, and Sierra's case is being handled by the police, as well it should be. Nasty, cruel, ugly, unfair, mocking, abusive speech is a completely different matter. Anyone who blends the two subjects is selling out free speech and should be called on it right away. This repressive movement is gaining momentum. Be alarmed now, before it digs in any further. Anyone who wants to write a nice, well-mannered blog with a kindly, benevolent comments section is welcome to do it. But if they also want to stigmatize cutting, mocking, aggressive speech, I'm going to aggressively cut and mock them. Of course, they have the freedom to try to stigmatize the bloggers like me who don't want to be nice, but all they can really do is be nice, nice, nice themselves. And readers will decide for themselves who they want to read. IN THE COMMENTS: Mike reminds me: "I thought we had already agreed to have Eric Alterman police the blogosphere." Oh, yeah. How did I forget that! I recently wrote two -- one, two -- blog posts about it and a NYT column!

"Depth and emotionality" -- "Those two traits are bred out of the white, straight males who control the press."

And since depth and emotionality are what you need to enjoy her music, Joni Mitchell has her explanation for why she doesn't get enough good press.

And settle down, feminists, she doesn't like you either:
[S]he called [feminists[ "amazons", adding that the women's movement "created an aggressive-type female with a sense of entitlement that's a bit of a monster".
Reading that made me think of this passage from "Song for Sharon" on her great album -- I have it framed and hanging on a wall in my house -- "Hejira":
Dora says, "Have children!"
Mama and Betsy say-"Find yourself a charity."
"Help the needy and the crippled or put some time into Ecology."
Well, there's a wide wide world of noble causes
And lovely landscapes to discover
But all I really want right now
Is...find another lover

April 8, 2007

Vivid Austin.

A video rental store:


A hot dog place:

Inappropriate hotdog

I love the hot dog's "I couldn't help it" expression. Hold the mustard!

Juicy sunshine:


Yeah, you know you want a tattoo:

tattoo devil

The devil's making you want it.

Let's take a closer look at this ATM:

Inappropriate ATM

From this fabulous mural of fabulous Austin, a detail:

mural detail

And another:

mural detail
Why are you looking at my breasts?

Free speech (at the Spider House):

stickered refrigerator at the Spider House

Where not everything is bright and hot:

Spider House

Some things are cool and languorous:

Spider House


Let's keep talking...

I've got a big "in the comments" update for Friday's "Let's keep talking about breasts" post.


I'm still fried from that long drive yesterday. Can I get back to blogging about the news? There's the Sunday NYT over in the corner of the table, nicely sorted to include only the sections I like to read. But I got the NYT along with room service breakfast for the last five days, and, though I kept meaning to get to it, I never did. I disconnected from the news all week, even though I kept blogging. In fact, one of the main things we did was hang around in cafés, and, yeah, we had our laptops.

I concentrated on photographs, and I still have lots more photographs to go.

For example, if I go back to last Sunday, we were having the best all-you-can-eat meal I'd ever seen:


Can you tell how good that is? Smoked fish, carpaccio, duck....


The orange roses of Texas:

The orange rose of Texas

Mesmerizingly lit.

But I must get unmesmerized today somehow.

ADDED: Wow, I really am frazzled. I forgot to say that the restaurant is The Café at The Four Seasons. At $40 a person, it's really an amazing bargain, and I'm saying that as someone who filled the plate once (and ate everything on it).

So here I am back in Madison.

It's Easter. (Happy Easter.) I drove 1235 miles yesterday. Crazy? I set out, as you can see from the last post, thinking it was possible. I was starting at 6 a.m., before dawn, so I'd have a whole long day of sunlight. I'd be way into Iowa before it would get dark again. It would be easy to drive as far as Des Moines. But why stop at a motel in Des Moines, when home is so close? But if you don't stop in Des Moines, you aren't going to see any other good place to stop. And it so annoying to stop, unload, check in, sleep in an unfamiliar place, pack up, pay, load the car back up, when if you just put in a few more hours, you can be sleeping in your own bed.

I kept thinking about the time I drove 1100 miles. If I can do 1100, why not 1200? Of course, the 1100 was a mistake. I'd driven all the way from Madison to Salt Lake City and then made the snap decision to just go as far as the next town, which was remarkably ignorant. Still, I did it, and this time, the end of the drive would be familiar territory -- the push through Dubuque, across the bridge to the southwest corner of Wisconsin, and then the final stretch, which looks horribly desolate at night but is nowhere near as desolate as the Great Salt Lake Desert.

UPDATE: Something in the comments makes me realize that 1100 was not the distance I drove when I went from Madison to Wendover, Nevada. Checking Google Maps, I see it was 1,476 miles! I wish I'd realized that when I was driving 1235 miles on Saturday. I think it would have eased my mind. What a nut I was to drive almost 1500 miles that time! Yes, I think it was about 1100 to Salt Lake, and then I thought I should go a little further, without realizing I was at the edge of a 300 mile desert.