October 20, 2007

"You don't have money to fund the war or children but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people..."

"....if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement." That's what Rep. Pete Stark said the other day. But it's not what Crooks and Liars (acts like it) heard.

IN THE COMMENTS: John Stodder said:
Good news! Crooks and Liars has just deleted virtually all the comments that don't fall into line with the host's take. Any criticism of it makes you into a troll, apparently.

Now they've manufactured a consensus over there. Rep. Stark was strong! He had a spine! And isn't this really about the children? Those wingnuts need a fainting couch!

Amazing. Just amazing.

"I'm not a morning person.''

''You're going to look at me straight in the face and say 'I'm not a morning person,'?''

"Rudolph W. Giuliani strolled into the maw of the religious conservative movement Saturday..."

And apparently, the maw found him deliciously satisfying.

The maw... I'm picturing something like this:

It's not a walk in the park, this stroll amongst the dreaded values voters.

ADDED: None of this is to say that Giuliani is the first choice of values voters. Their straw poll put Huckabee clearly first. The issue isn't, however, whether Giuliani is their favorite. (Of course, he's not.) The issue is whether they will support him if he becomes the Republican candidate.

I smiled all the way through this....

... and also almost broke down and cried from sheer pleasure. I've always loved the use of things other than instruments for percussion — ever since a transplendent Incredible String Band concert I saw when I was a teenager where they kicked an old trunk for a bass drum sound. But this beats all. We all need to work harder at whatever it is we're doing, just like Ben Folds. It's a cover of something that was already awfully wonderful:

The Ben Folds clip came recommended to me in the first email I opened as I got on line in my old favorite coffeehouse here in Madison, Wisconsin, where I arrived last night. This morning I got in my car — can I still drive after not driving for a month? — and the disc player came on in the middle of the song I'd played over and over the last time I was here:

Am I still in the mood to find that almost unbearably touching? Could I ever be in the mood to listen to the Incredible String Band again?

"Dumbledore is gay."

J.K Rowling, who apparently needs even more publicity, has informed us of the sexual orientation of one of her characters.
She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."...

Rowling... also said that she regarded her Potter books as a "prolonged argument for tolerance" and urged her fans to "question authority."
She's baiting the usual anti-Potter groups. Do I have to look to see if they are taking the bait?


This post is an Althouse coffeehouse. Please congregate in the comments and get the conversation started without me.

October 19, 2007

Hugh Hewitt talks to Clarence Thomas about religion, Jeffrey Toobin, blogs, jihadists, Black Power, Anita Hill, George Bush....

1. Does Catholicism affect his judging? Hugh Hewitt asks Clarence Thomas. Hewitt notes that Chicago dean Geoffrey Stone of Chicago has said that Catholicism infused the the Court's recent "partial-birth" abortion decision. Answer:
Oh, no. In fact, it works just the opposite. My view is simply that the important thing that it pushes you toward is adherence to your oath, which is to judge impartially. And my view is once you start sort of putting your personal beliefs and opinions into the law, or into the Constitution, you cease to have legitimacy, and I don’t think you should be on the Bench. Now I find that fascinating, though, that people would say things like that, and in the same breath, what I get, is the criticism that I don’t judge as a black judge, you know?

I’m supposed to somehow include my race in my judging, but the religion, you don’t include in your judging. I don’t think you should include either in your judging, and I don’t. And in sixteen years on the Bench, well, I’m one week short of sixteen years. But in the almost sixteen years I’ve been on the Bench on the Supreme Court, I have never done that. And in the more than sixteen I’ve been a federal judge, I have never done that.
2. Thomas loved Justice White:
I just loved the way Byron White conducted himself. I love the fact that he felt that the job was important, he felt that the Court was important, that the Constitution and our laws were important, but he wasn’t. that he was there to do his job and go home. And that’s what he did. He was just a good man.
3. Has he read "The Nine"? No, and he won't, but he knows Hewitt didn't like it. Hewitt says he thought Jeffrey Toobin was "very unfair" to some of the Justices, the way he made the Court — after Bush v. Gore — look "dysfunctional," with "bitterness is going on and people are crying and crushed." Thomas:
I didn’t see anybody crying. And the last I can remember is that after we announced the opinion, we all went upstairs and had lunch.

HH: He writes in there that the Court’s embarrassed by Bush v. Gore. Is that fair?

CT: I haven’t seen it (laughing). Look, I suffer from the disadvantage that I’m there every day.

HH: (laughing)

CT: I mean, this would all probably make more sense to me if I wasn’t there. I’ve not seen any embarrassment, I haven’t seen any dysfunctional, any evidence that the Court is dysfunctional. And so I can’t, I really can’t comment on something that’s not happening.
4. Hewitt asks Thomas if he reads the blogs! He says "no," then backtracks":
No….some of them. You know, occasionally I’ll read something, but not that much.

HH: And do your colleagues? Or are they still practicing Supreme Court jurisprudence the old fashioned way, via the briefs and not public opinion?
Are the lawprof blogs really "public opinion"? This gets Thomas off the subject of blogs and back to the denial that he lets public opinion affect his decisions. But the law blogs contain legal arguments. Sometimes...

5. Hewitt asks Thomas if he's "aware of the war," which seems like a ridiculous question, but what he means is does the knowledge of the war affect his judging. But then, Hewitt poses a really insightful question:
HH: I was…when I was reading My Grandfather’s Son, I had an unusual question that I wrote down. Do you understand the jihadists who are these angry, young men, who are locked out of opportunity, who suffer discrimination of the worst sort, and who really have nowhere to go except into this sort of conflict?

CT: Well, I can’t say that I understand them. I do know that for example in this country, and I make this point in the whole portion of the book in 1968, when I talk about being drawn into this whole notion of black power, and that is that you know, when you feel locked out, you do gravitate toward things that feel, that seem empowering. At least that’s the way it was for me. I can’t speak for others. And so this black power notion made you feel, it was invigorating, and it made you feel empowered. And it could also be debilitating, as I found out later, or self-destructive. But I can’t speak for them, but I know in my own case, it was sort of something similar to that, but not nearly as, I guess, as universal.
6. And Hewitt's got a theory about Anita Hill:
HH: I want to try out my theory on you, and maybe you can comment or not, but that she had told little lies to explain failures that got out of hand, and she had to defend them. Does that make sense to you?

CT: That makes sense, but you know, again, I can’t, I have not gotten into whether or not…I could speculate, but I think it would probably, it would be remiss if I did so.
We don't get to hear his speculation, of course.

7. Hewitt asks him if he likes George Bush:
I admire anybody who stands up and leads. Now you can always disagree with a person here or there, but I admire anybody who gets in a position and actually tries to lead.
There's some faint praise!

"You wanna know what you're playing for? The right to be punished for winning, that's what."

Throwing Things analyzes the twist on last night's "Survivor." Personally, I liked it. I like when the team — tribe — that is down figures out a way to save itself from doom. The twist did seem manufactured to give them a shot. It injected competition back into the game. I assume the producers don't plan all the twists and challenges in advance, but come up with things to make a better show. Who wants to watch a dominant player proceed inexorably toward the million dollars? It was cool to see the underdog Peih-Gee figure it out and bring in Jaime who had the power over — he's a virgin! — Erik.

Television Without Pity has the full recap up already. Very nice.

"I met someone, I fell in love, I left."

"We tried everything, I tried everything. What happened to me has happened to millions of people: one day you no longer have your place in the couple. The couple is no longer the essential thing of your life. It no longer functions; it no longer works." And that's that, from Cecilia Sarkozy, now divorced from the President of France.

Maybe you think that's too blithe of an attitude to take toward marriage. But you never know what happens inside someone else's marriage.

I like what she's saying about the political spouse: "France elected a man, not a couple."

And from Nicolas Sarkozy:
"My state of mind is very simple: I was elected by the French people to solve their problems, not comment on my private life... If you think that the French people elected me for anything other than to work, work, and work more — for the rest, the French ask for no comment from me. It interests them much less than you [the press], and they are right. And perhaps they have a greater sense of propriety and more discretion, sir."
I know this is just what they say since they've broken up, but it made me wish we could get a lot less of the wives/husband of our various presidential candidates.

What did Ann and Rush and Jimmie talk about?

As long as we're reading the gossip column this morning, let's keep going:
Talk about random: Jimmie (J.J.) Walker of "Good Times" fame dined at Elaine's with Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.
So... what did they talk about? Ann's latest publicity baiting? Rush's eBay auction? (He's got one of the great documents in American history for sale over there with the bid up over $2 million now.) But what about Jimmie? Will Ann and Rush help him dream up a scheme to rake in millions?

Is Jimmie a right winger? Let's see. He's got a website with a tab for "Jimmie's Views." Here he is on Barack Obama:
" Nothing from nothing leaves nothing"... That sums up the " Golden Boy" of the Democratic Party... Barack Obama... Obama has been annointed the Savior of the Democratic Party... But what has he done or said?... NOTHING... Until the Democratic Convention of 2004 when you mentioned the name Barack Obama... people thought you talking about Osama Bin Laden... Obama doesn't seem to be a bad guy...but there's nothing of substance in anything he's said or done ... maybe that's what so appealing about him to so many people ... he's managed to say a lot of nothing... His best selling book doesn't have any policies or new ideas... it's more like a Tony Robbins feel good book...Barack is Tony Robbins on speed...There are tough decisons to be made as president of the United States... and not everyone is going to like you... Unlike Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Mr. Obama is a candidate white America can live with, like Colin Powell... But unlike Colin Powell, Barack Obama is more than willing to accept whatever the party will give him... with the Black critics using the " He's not Black Enough" card ...He is the Johnny Mathis of candidates to Black voters...... But that's more than enough to get the white liberal establishment behind him... Ivy league educated and the first Black editor of the Harvard Review...Obama hasn't used the Black card... but he's let others around him play it ... to the point of " All In "... Every Democrative operative From Hillary Clinton to John Kerry to James Carville has mentioned it ... Every news organization has run with the Black card... But never Barack Obama...He has learned his lessons well ... never speaking about policy... but instead giving feel good Tony Robbins speeches...getting into the Senate was a lucky break for Obama... he was elected on a pass... late in the race, his opponent was caught up in sex scandal with a vengeful ex-wife, and dropped out ... Ultra conservative Alan Keys was brought in to as a carpet bagger to run against Obama on short notice... and was soundly defeated... Two schools of thought come in... With Hillary Clinton being the clear front runner... what is her real chance of being elected... why not have the " Star" of the 2002 Democratic Convention make a run.. Or with Hillary Clinton it would be great to have the fair haired boy run with Hillary... to have a woman and a Black running together... Barack Obama hasn't been in the " cess pool of American Politics"...He hasn't had to defend his record or policies... 'cause he doesn't have any...the American Public hasn't seen nor heard a negative word or political ad from Obama and the American people have no Idea what he stands for ... Maybe that's good... but is it good enough to be President...
So what's the scheme here? Is someone writing for Jimmie (and taking the trouble to misspell Keyes and insert typos to throw us off the track)? Did Rush/Ann spot this writing — which I note is dated "11-21-07" — and pounce on an opportunity? Or are we to think this dinner at Elaine's was just a wacky, "random" meetup that belongs in the gossip column?

"The Spinach Brownie."

That could be the name of a "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry's new girlfriend is a cookbook author and...
[Jessica] Seinfeld's new "Deceptively Delicious," about hiding healthy ingredients in foods children will eat, is already the best-selling book in the country, with print runs of 2.5 million through January.

But chef and baby-products mogul Missy Chase Lapine came out in April with a book, "The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals." Lapine baked her spinach brownies with Al Roker on the "Today" show; Seinfeld shared her spinach brownies with Oprah on that show last week.
Oh, of course, it's Roker. He'll do a cameo, for sure. He was in "The Cigar Store Indian" episode, which had one of the great "Seinfeld" book plot lines:
JERRY: Thanks, because I would really like... (distractedly puts coffee cup back
on the table)

GEORGE: (screaming) Aaahh!!

JERRY: Alright, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. (picks it up again)

GEORGE: But Jerry, this is not coming out!

JERRY: Just put a coffee table book over it.

GEORGE: My parents don't read! They're gonna wonder what a book is doing on the

KRAMER: Hey, hey, hey, hey. You know what would make a great coffee table book?
A coffee table book about coffee tables! Get it?
And speaking of stealing an idea... remember when Kramer had an idea for perfume that smelled like the beach:
KRAMER: You smell like the beach. What's the name of that perfume? you're wearing.

TIA: It's Ocean by CALVIN KLEIN.

KRAMER: CALVIN KLEIN? No, no. That's my idea. They, they stole my idea. Y' see I had the idea of a cologne that makes you smell like you just came from the beach.

JERRY: I know look at this [shows ad]

KRAMER: Whooo, ... That's you! What is going on here? The gyp(?) he laughs at me then he steals my idea. I could have been a millionaire. I could have been a fragrance millionaire, Jerry. ... They're not going to get away with this.
The transcriber seems to want to get Michael Richards in trouble for more politically incorrect language. The name of the character who steals the idea is Steve D'Jiff — not "the gyp" — as you can see from the episode "The Pez Dispenser" — my favorite episode — where Kramer first gets the idea for a perfume he called The Beach.

"The Spinach Brownie"... it practically writes itself:
Seinfeld and Lapine both have recipes for mashed potatoes with hidden cauliflower, grilled cheese with secret sweet potatoes, green eggs made with pureed baby spinach, and carrot-laced tacos....

[Seinfeld's publisher, Steve] Ross did admit that Lapine's agent had submitted her book to them "in May of 2006, but it was rejected."...
Oh, I can just picture the scene where Ross rejects the book. He acts so disgusted by the idea of slipping spinach into kid's brownies. Here's some inspiration from "The Pez Dispenser":
KRAMER: Go ahead smell, smell

STEVE: Yeah, so?

KRAMER: Do you recognize it? ... The beach.

STEVE: What are you talking about?

KRAMER: Oh, I'm talking about the beach.

STEVE: What about it?

KRAMER: You know the way you smell when you first come home from the beach?

Well, I want to make a cologne that captures the essence of that smell.

Oh yeah.

STEVE: That is the dumbest idea I have ever heard.

KRAMER: Oh, wait, Did you here what I just said?

STEVE: Do you think people are going to pay $80 a bottle to smell like dead fish and sea weed? That's why people take showers when the come home from the beach. It's an objectionable offensive odour.

KRAMER: So you don't think it's a good idea?
And poor Missy Chase Lapine — love the name! — is crushed. Meanwhile, Ross find the glitzy wife of some filthy rich comedian to put her imprint on the same idea. Does Mrs. Filthy Rich Comedian even cook?
As for whether [Jessica] Seinfeld actually toils over a hot stove, Ross said: "Well, I can tell you that she cooked [mac and cheese and meatballs] for us, and it was delicious. And we've heard from Jerry that he's been a guinea pig."

A spokesman for Seinfeld said, "She admits she didn't invent pureeing. But she never saw the [Lapine] book. And she worked really hard on hers."
Of course, she never saw the Lapine book! Does she even read?

October 18, 2007

A vlog about sleepclimbing over the railing...

... and other things.

Should a lawprof let students read the Teacher's Manual for the casebook?

It would never have occurred to me to consider saying yes to a student who wanted to read the Teacher's Manual, but a colleague of mine is taking the request seriously. I received this email via faculty email list (and have permission to print it here):
I am sitting on an email request from a student who wishes to obtain info so that she can acquire a copy to the Teacher's Manual for our CivPro I casebook, and I am looking for input as to how to respond. The book contains a number of problems, and she says it would be helpful to check her answers. I agree. But we do much of this in class — and my fear is that students would not attempt to figure out the answers — but simply look them up, thus defeating the whole purpose. (And I do recommend supplementary materials which gives them more and better problems — as well as much better answers geared towards to students — not class instructors.) So I am learning towards saying no — but I am troubled by denying access to educational materials to a student who sees benefit in using them.
Why is anything readable off limits to a student who wants to learn?

The eternal kiss.

Rest in everlasting ecstasy, Deborah Kerr:
Throughout her career, Miss Kerr worked at being unpredictable. She was believable as a steadfast nun in Black Narcissus; as the love-hungry wife of an empty-headed army captain stationed at Pearl Harbor in “From Here to Eternity”; as a headmaster’s spouse who sleeps with an 18-year-old student to prove to him that he is a man in “Tea and Sympathy”; as a spunky schoolmarm not afraid to joust and dance with the King of Siam in “The King and I”; as a Salvation Army lass in “Major Barbara”; and even as Portia, the Roman matron married to Brutus, in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

She could be virginal, ethereal, gossamer and fragile, or earthy, spicy and suggestive, and sometimes she managed to display all her skills at the same time.
Oh, can't we all? Just for today? Be virginal, ethereal, gossamer, fragile, earthy, spicy, and suggestive — all at the same time.

A slice of Manhattan.


Why don't I vlog anymore?

I don't know. No reason. I just remembered I used to vlog by having readers give me the subject matter. I think I quit right after I moved to NYC because the suggestions all seemed to be: How do you like New York, could you picture yourself staying in New York, what do you miss about Madison, and so forth. So, maybe I'll try to vlog now and then. Like today. But serve up some subject matter that isn't about me. Believe it or not, I'm not interested in talking about myself. It's possible, though, that I'm just tired of talking. Not writing. Just talking.

Fierce mural.

Engine Company 6

Painted on the door of Engine Company 6 (49 Beekman Street, NYC).

"Picking Sandy Berger tells us something important about Hillary's character. We should listen now - while it can do some good."

Writes Ronald A. Cass:
She selected a key adviser she knows has scandalously flouted the law, lied to deflect blame onto others, and subverted the democratic processes that provide accountability for officials' conduct. She selected someone who has destroyed documents that could be crucial to America's security to be a trusted councilor on national security matters - documents that could have contained hand-written notes by her husband or information that would have called his judgment into question....

Hillary's inclusion of Sandy Berger in her circle of advisers demonstrates that, notwithstanding her law license, she really doesn't care about the law. She doesn't care whether someone violates the law if they're on her team, if the violation in some way helps the Clintons. Hillary's indifference to criminal wrong-doing suggests that she sees herself as above the law, breezily ignoring law when it's an impediment to something she wants.

Brick, pear, cello, goblet, apple, cornet, column, bell, lollipop, skittle, vase...

... hourglass. These are the 12 possible shapes for a woman's body, in case you didn't know. Life for women is too complicated. If you're a woman, could you figure out which one of these you were or what clothes are supposed to cure whatever it is that's wrong with it? If you're a man, could you imagine an equivalent article aimed at men?

IN THE COMMENTS: Mr. Forward lists the 10 shapes of men: "Prick, bear, jello, goober, apple core, colander, shell, my old pop, fiddle bass, and beer glass." And Roost on the Moon adds: "Don't forget condom hastily stuffed with an old sock!"

CORRECTED: That was 10 shapes of men, not "10 shapes of me" (rather frightening!).

"After tiring of acquaintances inviting him out to shoot the breeze, Mr. Amtower... began charging $600 an hour with a four-hour minimum."

From an article about how some people really don't want to do breakfast/lunch/dinner with you to do meetings or because you want to "pick their brain." The fact that you are paying for the food is basically nothing to them.

Ask them out, and they won't just turn you down, they'll humiliate you for asking: “I don’t do lunch, except with my family or friends. We have very little time together, so I save down time for them." That's how a female career consultant — who'd just given a speech about women in business — reacted when a woman said "I'd love to have lunch with you and pick your brain."

Okay, so you need to preserve your time. Why can't you say that would be very nice but I can't fit it on my calendar? You don't have to announce that other people are more important to you. What is that? Is it preening over the fullness of your personal life? An attempt to educate everyone to think business-related socializing is now considered offensive? If you're so keen on withholding personal time, why don't you also care about withholding personal information?

October 17, 2007

"Please respect our neighbors by NOT YELLING..."

"... Thank you."


I see things. I don't necessarily understand them. To photograph is, often, to go with the flow. This is something I saw in a walk on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It seemed odd...

It was all just very odd:





If you mean to act superior to those who are accusing you of "shrill panic"...

... what's with the giant, garish font?

"I don't want to host a party in which a small vitriolic minority consistently tries to ruin the event for everyone else."

Harvard econprof Greg Mankiw turns off the comments function on his blog and explains why: "To put it simply, this blog is a hobby.... The comments section has been, for me, a source of both fun and frustration.... I just don't have the time to police comments and enforce good behavior...."

Glenn Reynolds comments:
"Let 'em get their own blogs."

Since I have comments and they don't, you'll have to talk about the controversy here. Unless you want to do it Glenn's way and write on your own blog.

I take it some people like the feeling of a back-and-forth dialogue and the sense you get that this is a place where you can go. Glenn's idea is that the whole internet is that place, but I think a comments section works in a different way. Is it really true that somebody is always ruining it? Is the community so fragile? I know a lot of good commentators have left in a huff... or wandered off silently. Sometimes they come back, and there's always a chance for someone new (and nice) to crawl out of the woodwork — like, recently, "blogging cockroach."

A good commenter isn't just a would-be blogger. He's not just mooching off someone else's hard-won traffic. A commenter may find inventive ways to play off the material in the post. Or, like a cockroach, the commenter may thrive in the background and want only the occasional crumb of attention.

And a blogger who thinks it's worth it to host a comments section — as I do — gets creative stimulation knowing a discussion will flow from the post. I love starting something.

Here are some extra questions to show how much I care:

1. Who are the commenters here that you enjoy? Would you like them better if they set up shop on an individual blog or is there some way that they operate well specifically as commenters?

2. Who would you most like to see expand into blog writing?

3. Why do you comment instead of writing over on your own blog? You could link to these posts and write about the subjects raised here. Why don't you?

4. If I closed down the comments, would you shift into blogging? Would you miss the place that is the comments, or would this blog seem much the same?


And let me say — I've said it before — for me, blogging is not a "hobby."

IN THE COMMENTS: Revenant answers question #3:
I tried blogging and it seemed weird. Comments sections feel like a conversation. Blogging feels like shouting in a large, empty room... which of course it pretty much is, until you get some readers. Plus, there's the pressure of having to come up with something to write about every day.

About that hanged man Halloween decoration.

A family in New Jersey was pressured into taking down a hanged dummy, which was part of a Halloween display in their yard.
Before the figure was removed yesterday, Madison Mayor Ellwood "Woody" Kerkeslager said "the appearance and the suggestion (of racism) is there, and it's inappropriate."...

[F]or two days, homeowners Cheryl and David Maines, the borough's superintendent of public works, refused to budge. They said they had done nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People denounced the display as offensive, racist and insensitive.

"I think there are many people who understand the significance of a noose as it relates to the history of African-Americans," said James Harris, president of the NAACP's state chapter. "We thought we lived beyond the era when people felt it was okay to have that type of display."

Last night, the Maines family said they would be replacing their Halloween display and erecting a sign reading: "Thanks to the assistance of Millie Hazlewood and her friends, Halloween and Christmas decorations will no longer be celebrated here."
Millie Hazlewood is one of the local residents who called the police. The police went out to the house 3 times before the Maines decided to take the display down (saying they feared for their safety).

Why does it come to this?

A while back, more than 10 years ago, my son Chris was interested into doing an elaborate Halloween display for our front yard. One element in his design was a dummy hanging from the tree in a noose. I told him you can't do that because it would make some people think of lynching. He hadn't thought of it that way, of course, and he argued that you're supposed to have scary things in a Halloween display, but there was no point arguing. I didn't want anything in my yard that anybody would associate with racism.

But what if somehow I didn't have the sense to notice it was a bad idea, and my son had done it, and some neighbor did associate it with lynching and think it was offensive. I'd have been shocked if she'd called the police on me. A neighbor ought to speak to you... tactfully.

Here's a suggested dialogue:
I love the way you put up Halloween decorations, but you know, I was a little worried that someone might take it the wrong way and think about lynching.

Oh, no! I didn't mean anything like that. I'm really sorry.

I know you weren't thinking of it that way, but I'd hate for someone who didn't know you to feel bad about it.

I'm so sorry.

Want me to help you take it down?

No police involved. No alienation of the poor woman who thought she was making the community better by putting up decorations.

Why don't people know how to talk to each other?

"You liberal pussy!"

A car parked in Brooklyn Heights:



There are the cafés with free WiFi, the cafés with paid-for WiFi...

... and then there are the cafés where they ban computers:


Find the ladder in the back of Jammyland to go to Hospital Productions.

Ah, here it is. At 60 East 3rd Street.

Hospital Productions

Hospital Productions

It's run by our old friend Dominick Fernow. You remember this Village Voice article about him.

You saw pictures of him here, remember? (With the tongue?) I told him that the pictures made some of you readers angry... for reasons we couldn't understand. And he's the guy painted fuchsia in this blogged-about performance.

And he painted this, remember, from the old "Mysteries of the Althouse house" post?

The lower level

Anyway, Hospital Productions is about noise music, but the music Dom was playing in the shop when we were there wasn't very noisy. It was actually the sort of atmospheric music that I like. It was Muslimgauze, and I bought the CD "Syrinjia." Here's the Muslimgauze website.

Dom's mother is Jean Feraca, who does that radio show — "Here on Earth" — on Wisconsin Public Radio. (I was on the show that time.) She's a writer with a new book, a memoir, called "I Hear Voices."

ADDED: Here's the NYT obituary for Muslimgauze — Bryn Jones, who died of "pneumonia derived from a rare fungal infection in his bloodstream" when he was 38.
Muslimgauze occupied a strange place in the musical world. He was a powerful, prolific innovator, releasing albums that were alternately beautiful and visceral, full of ambient electronics, polyrhythmic drumming and all kinds of voices and sound effects. The recordings earned him a devoted following in underground, experimental and industrial music circles worldwide.

But the albums' liner notes and titles were dogmatically pro-Palestinian, a rarity among Western musicians in general but especially unusual in one from Manchester who was not Muslim and had never visited the Middle East. Some said Mr. Jones was aiming for shock value, but those who knew him described him as a shy, mysterious man who was serious in his political beliefs and never wavered from his commitment to music....

Mr. Jones recorded 92 albums with titles like ''Hamas Arc'' and ''Vote Hezbollah,'' references to militant Islamic groups....
Note that I'm not buying the politics, nor did I inquire into his politics before buying the music. Do you think I should have? With all musicians or just ones with "Muslim" in their names? I heard the music and bought the music.

"Shakedown in your child’s room!"

Bill Cosby — on "Meet the Press" — urges parents to subject their children to intense, prison-style searches:
When you—when—there’s a, there’s a friend of mine who was in jail. He is now a pastor in, in Wilmington. And he talks about a thing called “shakedown.” And in shakedown, you’re in prison, you go to your cell, and all of a sudden they go whoop-whoop! And they stop the water from flowing into your—and they turn the lights, and you have to take your clothes, and they go through everything in your cell, and you have to stand there, period. They’re looking for stuff. And what, and what Pastor Dee says to the people in the church—and I’m telling you, people started cheering—he said, “Shakedown in your child’s room! Your child didn’t buy that room, your child’s not paying rent. You’re trying to keep your child from being murdered, from going to jail, etc., etc. Shake down. Look under the mattress, make sure your kid doesn’t have a gun. Look into materials on the wall. What is your kid talking about? Is it dangerous?” This is a part of love, and this is what we have to do, regardless of race, color or creed.

"Individuals can no longer be held responsible for obesity and government must act to stop Britain 'sleepwalking' into a crisis."

BBC reports.

Should you buy your college kid a condo?

A lot of people do these days, and it might make financial sense. Obviously, there are problems with the housing market that affect the decision these days, but generally, I wish I'd thought of doing this when my sons were in college. A big problem is that older folks who like condos don't like student neighbors. The lower priced the condos are, the more likely they'll be chosen for students, and the more likely they'll have badly soundproofed walls and floors. But it would be nice if there were some condo building designed for students, that the parents would buy and then sell to each other every 4 years.

"Gore rules out presidential bid despite Nobel."

Bogus headline at MSNBC. (And I know I'm encouraging it by giving them a link.) Here's the actual Gore quotes:
"I don't have plans to be a candidate again so I don't really see it in that context at all," Gore said when asked in an interview with Norway's NRK public television aired on Wednesday about how the award would affect his political future.
No plans. How is that ruling out a run? "I don't really see it in that context".... What do you expect him to say about the prize? Now, people can see my true worthiness. That's for us to press him with. He can't say it. This is a total nonstory.

"Bay leaves! What company makes bay leaves ice cream?"

Just a little Roseanne Roseannadanna moment here this morning.

CORRECTION: I mean Emily Litella. Damn. Never mind. You know what I mean. That was disgusting!

What to ask Mukasey.

4 law professors say what questions they'd like the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask Michael Mukasey. (The Attorney General nominee testifies today.)

A sampling:

Jack Goldsmith: "In 2002 the Department of Justice opined, 'Any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogations of battlefield combatants would violate the Constitution’s sole vesting of the commander-in-chief authority in the president.' Do you agree with this statement? How do you define the scope of the president’s exclusive military powers?"

Charles Fried: "Priorities in law enforcement and particular conceptions of controversial legal issues — affirmative action, severity and leniency in criminal prosecution and sentencing, antitrust policies, civil rights enforcement — have always been part of a president’s project for the nation. And yet the public expects and the rule of law demands impartiality in law enforcement. So the attorney general cannot be independent of the president who appointed him, as are judges or the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, but neither must he be a political operative pushing the president’s advantage at every turn. How would you balance these conflicting demands?"

Jack Balkin: "When, if ever, should the government prosecute journalists or other citizens for publishing classified information leaked to them about government activities of questionable legality?"

UPDATE: Mukasey on the "torture memo": "The Bybee memo, to paraphrase a French diplomat, was worse than a sin, it was a mistake. It was unnecessary."

Can we judge the New Republic's attitude toward Mitt Romney by the photo chosen to illustrate an article about him?

But I don't think the author of the piece, Noam Scheiber, picked the photo, and it's not an unflattering article. Here's the core of it:
If the nomination went to the candidate most at home delivering PowerPoint presentations, Romney would almost certainly win it.

... Everything Romney has achieved in life, he's achieved thanks to his relentless empiricism and analytical rigor--in a word, his rationality....

And yet, it turns out that something as seemingly irrelevant as his religion inspires irrational fear and loathing among the people who will anoint the GOP nominee, particularly in the South...

October 16, 2007

And the sun sets, once again, on the Statue of Liberty.


Forgive me for the repetition, but the sun and the statue are aligned this week.

That building.


Is it uncomfortable standing there like that for so long?

That bottle.


At a restaurant we love in Nolita.

I'm waiting.


(Photo by John... at a restaurant with an unacceptable tomato.)

ADDED: This is an iPhone photo.

"Thank God the Goats Don't Have E-mail."

Mickey Kaus responds to the rumor.

"There are three great cities in the United States: there's Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York – in that order."

Well, that doesn't sound right to me, but BldgBlog says it; I have to pay attention. I note that it doesn't seem to be about the buildings:
No matter what you do in L.A., your behavior is appropriate for the city. Los Angeles has no assumed correct mode of use. You can have fake breasts and drive a Ford Mustang – or you can grow a beard, weigh 300 pounds, and read Christian science fiction novels. Either way, you're fine: that's just how it works. You can watch Cops all day or you can be a porn star or you can be a Caltech physicist. You can listen to Carcass – or you can listen to Pat Robertson. Or both.

That's how we dooz it.

L.A. is the apocalypse: it's you and a bunch of parking lots. No one's going to save you; no one's looking out for you. It's the only city I know where that's the explicit premise of living there – that's the deal you make when you move to L.A.

The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.

It says: no one loves you; you're the least imporant [sic] person in the room; get over it.

What matters is what you do there.
Read the whole thing. It's a sustained riff, which ends:
And it doesn't need humanizing. Who cares if you can't identify with Los Angeles? It doesn't need to be made human. It's better than that.

Why did Doris Lessing say "Oh, Christ" on hearing that she won the Nobel Prize?

I'm a little late with this clip — via Amba and Internet Ronin — but I want to say something about it, so here:

Do you think she said "Oh, Christ" because she's so cool or she's a true artist and above mere worldly prizes or some some such thing? I don't. She was getting out of a cab, looking tired, carrying a bag, which she plopped down on hearing the news. I think she was annoyed that this was going to be the video clip that everyone would watch forever. She'll always have her hair like that, her face like that — however she happened to end up after she'd been dragging herself around town all morning. And now she has to say something, and it better be good, because everyone will quote it. Oh, Christ, I have to go through this whole thing right now.

And it worked out for her. Everyone thinks "Oh, Christ" means so much. It's profound. But, really, it's not as if she could have squealed like an actress winning the Oscar. You don't think she was thrilled, inside?

Or maybe she was kind of pissed, and said "Oh, Christ" in the sense of: So, now, finally they get around to me... after all those second-rate hacks who got the prize all those years when I was ready with my hair done and my makeup on and a nice quote ready to go.

"Why is Congress spending time trying to pass a resolution condemning the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago?"

Thomas Sowell asks. His answer: "It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this resolution is just the latest in a series of Congressional efforts to sabotage the conduct of [the Iraq] war."

UPDATE: Retreat: "Almost a dozen lawmakers had shifted against the measure in a 24-hour period ending Tuesday night, accelerating a sudden exodus that has cast deep doubt over the measure’s prospects. "

October 15, 2007

The sunset, just now.

Sunset behind the Statue of Liberty

(This picture is straight out of the digital camera and unretouched.)


Doing a photo walk with only an iPhone.

I left the house without putting my battery in my camera, so I had to resort to my iPhone. Via iPhone, things looked like this:




What is that iPhone look? It seems melancholy.

The AutoAdmit lawsuit seems to be going nowhere.

Remember the AutoAdmit lawsuit? Click on the tag below to see some of my old posts. Yale law students sued in federal court about injury to their reputation because of... oh, I'm not going to explain it again. The point is that the case was filed 4 months ago and they still haven't served the defendants. Dave Hoffman has the story.

Christopher Hitchens in Madison — giving the atheists hell.

Madison, home of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, starts off loving the surly atheist they've brought in, but then — who could have imagined? — he gives them a hard time:
Responding to a question from an audience member on what he said was the futility of killing Muslims in Iraq to end extremism, Hitchens parodied:

“‘How does killing them lessen their numbers?’ You must have meant something more intelligent. … We worry too much in America about our ‘right’ to be in Iraq.

“Make them worry. Make them run scared. … I’m going to fight these people and every other theocrat all the way. All the way. You should be ashamed sneering at the people guarding you as you sleep.”
But stop laughing at the Madisonians for getting theirs. Here's what Hitchens thinks of your Heaven:
He also told the crowd that heaven would be comparable to North Korea, as they both embody a totalitarianism of eternal gratitude.

Hitchens pointed to the “horrific pointlessness and misery” of having to thank a leader for everything when the leader was never asked for in the first place — which he said is intrinsic to both the concept of heaven and in North Korea.

“At least you can fucking die and get out of North Korea,” Hitchens added.

Have you heard the rumor about Mickey Kaus?

I read about it here (in the comments).

"When you say Wisconsin, people most often think of the Green Bay Packers, cheeseheads, beer and cold weather."

Does Wisconsin need rebranding? Apparently, the Wisconsin "brand" ranks 37th among states. States that rank higher: Kansas, Rhode Island, Minnesota, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Utah. New Jersey is 50th. (Even after "The Sopranos"?) California ranked first, of course.

How would you bolster the Wisconsin brand? And are all the states supposed to get into a big competition to have the most lustrous brand? I guess it's good federalism for the states to compete this way, by making you think well of them. Federalism and advertising — they go together under the heading "American" (even as Packers and beer go together under the heading "Wisconsin").

October 14, 2007

It's the victory of good over evil: Diwali!

Suddenly, we hear a boom. It's fireworks. What for? Is it for Eid? I don't know, but I grab my camera and run onto the terrace for the beautiful show.




When it's over we Google around for an answer. It's Diwali (also called Deepavali):
Known as the "Festival of Lights," it symbolizes the victory of good over evil, and lamps are lit as a sign of celebration and hope for humankind....

Hindus and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen family and social relationships. For Hindus it is one of the most important festivals, and beginning of the year in some Hindu calendars. There are several beliefs regarding the origin of the holiday. The most repeated version is that Hindus celebrate Diwali to mark the time when Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana. Some also view it as the day Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura or in honor of the day Bali went to rule the nether-world, obeying the order of Vishnu. It is also a significant festival for the Sikh faith. In India, Diwali is now considered to be more of a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.


Not a tomato, but round and roseate.

The sun:


The Unacceptable Tomato.

The Unacceptable Tomato

Don't put that thing on that thing on the plate!

This was served in New York City. So you New Yorkers, if you find yourself out in Middle America at some roadside diner or suburban strip mall, don't be saying that they'd never serve that in New York City. They serve crap like this in New York City all the time. Even in places like DUMBO where people have plenty of money and show off their good taste.

That tomato is saying Screw you! We don't care and we don't mind making it obvious! You don't have to look any closer. You don't have to detect that the red onion is dried out, that the roasted potato is shriveled, that the poached egg is nearly hard cooked, and that part of the egg looks exactly like a thick piece of cotton string.

I won't mention that the "live jazz" they were playing was an overmiked crooner singing America's Most Loved Pop Songs — "My Girl," "What a Wonderful World," etc. — while a football game played right next to him with the sound on. At one point it sounded like bobby soxers squealing over Frank Sinatra, but the squealing came from cheerleaders at the football game and "Frank" was having a bad day.

Brooklyn — alive and not alive.

2 birds, a gingko and a storage facility

Not a pigeon

"What politics has become requires a level of tolerance for triviality and artifice and nonsense that I have found in short supply."

Let's talk about this quote. There are so many subtopics here. Let me delineate a few:

1. First, to understand this quote, you need to realize that the speaker means "that I have found in short supply" in myself. What sort of person talks like this when making a point like this?

2. What sort of person decides to make this particular point when addressing the subject of whether he belongs in politics?

3. Did you have any trouble guessing who said this?

4. Does politics today involve all that much triviality and artifice?

5. Was there some earlier Golden Age, when politics did not involve so much triviality and artifice?

6. What sort of person admires someone precisely for being the kind of person who makes that point and talks like that?

7. Who do you like better: a. Someone who says things like that quote, b. Someone who admires someone who says things like that quote, c. Someone who would only accidentally talk like that and would immediately mock himself for doing so, d. Someone who prefers to look for people who say things like that or admire people who say things like that and then to immediately mock them in writing and provide a place for you to join the mockery?

8. Why is the love I bear for Al Gore so conflicted?

9. Did #8 make you think of Manbearpig?

10. Who does 9 questions? There must be 10.

I saw your nanny... if that was your nanny.

Here's a NYT article about a blog — I Saw Your Nanny — that collects and displays reports about things nannies are doing with children. It's not all that clear when you're looking at strangers whether the woman with a child is a hired caregiver or not. It's a judgment call, often based on race. Or do you think you can tell whether there is love? But some nannies love the children they take care of, and some mothers are brusque and cold.

How about a blog called I Saw You With Your Child? Recently, I saw a woman — I think with her own child — pushing her child in a stroller on 4th Street in Greenwich Village. The child, who was about 2, was clearly unhappy about sitting strapped into a stroller, with no exercise or human interaction. He was whining and writhing, reaching toward the area in back of the stroller where he could hear his mother talking on the cell phone with someone. The mother's response was to talk about the child — "I've got a cranky one here" — insulting him to the back of his head and expressing irritation at him for thinking that his presence, in person in the real world, should matter more to his mother than the people who are off somewhere else.

"He's typing and drinking and threatening to 'shave Paul Krugman with a broken bottle.'"

Maureen Dowd invites Stephen Colbert into her lair at the New York Times.

"Fading memory has helped some to forget about the Clintons, their political machine and their ruthlessness."

"A rising black politician in the Democratic party is a threat to them and their power over blacks. So they are doing what they can to crush him, and punish any Democrat who associates with him."

That's from Andrew Sullivan.

ADDED: Here's a NYT article about black voters deciding between Hillary and Obama:
Most polls here [in South Carolina] show Mrs. Clinton leading and Mr. Obama second...

... Mr. Obama appears to have a big lead over Mrs. Clinton among black men, said Adolphus G. Belk Jr., a political scientist at Winthrop University who co-directed a recent study of black voters. Black women, Dr. Belk said, are divided equally between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, and significantly, perhaps a third are undecided.

“They stand at the intersection of race, class and gender,” he said. “Black men say to them, ‘Sister, are you with us?’ and at the same time white women say, ‘Sister, are you with us?’”
The article also quotes one woman who says: "We always love Hillary because we love her husband" and "A man is supposed to be the head. I feel like the Lord has put man first, and I believe in the Bible." So, do black women support Hillary because she's a woman or in spite of the fact that she's a woman and because they really love Bill?

That's a lot of love for Bill if it can override Barack even when Bill is not the candidate. Why isn't there more love for Obama? The article makes much of various comments by black women that Obama would be in physical danger as President. We're told that's "maternal" of them.

I'm vaguely horrified by this discussion of black female political thought. As the NYT article tells it, it seems that black women vote based on whether they feel more like a mother or a sexual partner to the candidate (or the candidate's spouse) — with a dollop of religious inanity stirred in.

"Si te gusta el sexo oral, vote por Caragol por consejal."

("If you like oral sex, vote Caragol for council.") Just some political slogan in Hialeah, Florida, which the Miami Herald informs us is "no laughing matter." The Miami Herald isn't going to tell me when to laugh.
"People want to give it a negative interpretation, but anyone who knows me and my way of being knows that I didn't mean for the comment to degrade or offend anyone,'' [Jose "Pepe" Caragol told The Miami Herald.
"My way of being" — I love that. I'm going to use that. Anyone who knows my way of being knows....

Caragol's opponent, Mercy Dominguez, wants us to know "that as a mother and a woman she finds the phrase offensive."
Caragol is quick to note that Dominguez did not point out the rest of the zingers he dished out at the Seguro Que Yes! taping.

''I also said that I was the only V-I-P councilman appointed to the board,'' Caragol said. "Viejo, impotente, y presumido -- old, impotent, and vain.''

For now, Caragol says he'll be sticking to a new campaign slogan -- "Olvídese del colesterol, y vote por Caragol'' -- "Forget the cholesterol and vote for Caragol.''
The man is an irrepressible poet. The woman is a dreary scold. Life goes on.