April 12, 2008

Cosmic ice cream.

Cosmic Ice Cream



"Abundantly, gloriously fleshy, the paint gathered in great gobs and whorls..."

The highest price ever for a painting by a not-dead-yet artist is about to be paid for this luscious painting of an extravagantly nude woman.



"So Indiana may end up being the tiebreaker."

Barack Obama admits he's in a tie? No, he's just talking about winning 2 of the 3 states with primaries coming up. The 2 he thinks he can win are 2 weeks after the 1 he sees himself losing. If Clinton wins Pennsylvania, that victory will hang out there for 2 weeks before he'll get the chance to rack up those 2 victories — in Indiana and North Carolina — that are supposed to constitute his win in a 3-state game.

How odd that Pennsylvania got set apart in time from all the other primaries. What luck for Clinton. All this time for something to go wrong for Obama and for exploiting it — like that awful quote everyone's talking about. From the article at the first link:
[D]uring a private meeting with California donors, [Obama said] that economic bitterness had driven some working class people to "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Obama modulated that assessment Friday night before an audience in Terre Haute:

"People end up voting on issues like guns and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. They take refuge in their faith and their community, and their family, and the things they can count on. But they don't believe they can count on Washington."

He added: "People are fed up, they are angry, they're frustrated and they're bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington."
That's an excellent rephrasing of a damaging statement. But I must say that the original statement sounded like a typical law-school-liberal remark. I think it was quite sincere, and I'm rather sure he believed he was being admirably intellectual and raising politics to a new, higher level. Within a liberal law school environment, that statement would be heard as a thoughtful, compassionate insight. Some of your colleagues might think you were excessively, squishily tolerant of what they see as ignorant, bigoted people, but I don't think they'd push you to be more understanding of the alien culture you were observing.

ADDED: John Hinderacker says:
Barack Obama's arrogance has been evident for some time, and it's no shock, perhaps, to learn that that he shares this bigoted opinion, common among urban liberals, of people who live in "small towns." But to actually express it, in public, at a campaign event, is stunningly stupid.
Ed Morrissey says:
The matter-of-fact style in which he spoke this shows the unthinking contempt he has for people he has never engaged — an acceptance of stereotypes without questioning them that shows his own bigotry, not to mention foolishness and poor judgment.

...Obama only really performs well with a script. Once he has to speak extemporaneously, not only does he fare worse as an orator, but he tends to get lost and make unforced errors.

Morrissey seems to think the main problem is that Obama is young and unseasoned. So he'd be better if only he learned how to disguise his real thoughts. I mean look at Hillary here, exploiting Obama's gaffe:

Is that better? A hammy politician buttering you up?

MORE: Glenn Reynolds links to an old Onion piece with Al Gore campaigning in Pennsylvania like this:
"Over the past few days, I have traveled all over your state and met many of you. And what has impressed me most is that no matter where I have gone, my reaction has been the same: 'Oh, God, get me the fuck out of this dump,'" said Gore, who alternately referred to the Keystone State's 12 million residents as "animals" and "ghouls."
Read the whole thing.

Glenn collects links here. I especially like Mickey Kaus:
I used to think working class voters had conservative values because they were bitter about their economic circumstances--welfare and immigrants were "scapegoats," part of the false consciousness that would disappear when everyone was guaranteed a good job at good wages. Then I left college. ...

Because Obama's comments are clearly a Category II Kinsley Gaffe -- in which the candidate accidentally says what he really thinks -- it will be hard for Obama to explain away. [He could say he was tired and it was late at night?--ed But he was similarly condescending in his big, heartfelt, well-prepared "race speech" when he explained white anger over welfare and affirmative action as a displacement of the bitterness that comes when whites
are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition ...
Obama's new restatement confirms the Marxist Deskwork interpretation of the race speech, removing any honest doubt as to his actual attitude.

Rather than trying to spin his way out, wouldn't it be better for Obama to forthrightly admit his identity? Let's have a national dialogue about egghead condescension!]
Obama is doomed if people come to see him as a leftist. Is he really one, or is he just used to circulating among people who casually say things like that to win favor with each other? If that's all it is, then it's not a Category II Kinsley Gaffe, and we get back to the more mundane concern about his inexperience — his lack of seasoning.

April 11, 2008

Cherry scene.

Cherry Blossoms

ADDED: On this overcast day, there were few people in the gardens. An artist painting a tree. Some older couples wandering and pointing things out to each other. Bunches of schoolkids, led by teachers. One kid asked if it was "wabbit season." Another kid wanted to know how they were going to get to wherever it was they were going. The teacher said: "We're going to use those things attached to your legs. We're going to move them back and forth. We're going to walk."

Rugged cherry.

Cherry Blossoms

If you're thinking of going to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens to see the cherry blossoms...

... right now, you'll only find budding branches — sprightly and pretty, I think — in the Cherry Esplanade:

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

But if you go over to the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, you'll find plenty of sumptuous blooms:

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Radio alert.

I'm going to be on "At Issue with Ben Mehrens," a Wisconsin Public Radio show, at 5 PM Eastern Time today. It's a call-in show where we talk about the news of the past week. You can stream the show or, later, listen to the show from the archive.



In the Japanese Garden at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

What movies have you walked out on?

This is a topic that came up in the comments thread here. Rather than add my own contribution to what was — let's be honest — a thread hijack, I'm starting a new thread.

For reasons I can no longer recall, I walked out on the 1968 movie "Petulia." Trailer:

The walk-out took place circa 1970, and I just wasn't in the mood for that sort of thing. I can't remember why. Oddly, I stopped walking out on movies, so for many years, this was the only movie I'd ever walked out on. I was giving everything a chance, or maybe I felt like I was wasting money if I didn't consume the whole bad/boring/pointless thing. And I must have averaged a movie a week for the next 30 years.

Then in 1998, I went to see "Antz" — a computer-animated movie voiced by Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, and others. The giant closeups of the ant faces were literally making me ill — even angry. I walked out, and I have never viewed another computer-animated movie, even on TV. Channel-surfing, I've occasionally glanced at a few minutes of some highly praised thing like "Finding Nemo" or "Shrek," but it has only reconfirmed my visceral hatred of the medium (which extends to live-actor movies with a lot of CGI).

The other movie I walked out on was Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam." This was 1 year after I walked out on "Antz." I was watching an opening sequence with a couple of ordinary people in a car, and I knew the story was that they were going to be murdered. I didn't want to sit there and watch. I'd paid good money to watch a movie I thought was going to be good and to my taste, but I suddenly felt that I didn't want to be subjected to it, and without wasting any time thinking about it — I had to decide quickly or I'd see the murder — I got right up and left.

I kept going to movies in 1999, which turned out to be one of my all-time favorite years: "The Matrix," "Being John Malkovich," "Fight Club," "Man on the Moon," "Election." I thought we were entering a golden age. But the next year seemed entirely different to me. Was CGI leaking into everything, making me sick? That was the year of "Gladiator" and "The Perfect Storm" (which I avoided). I saw some things that were praised that I hated, like "Traffic" — which I didn't walk out on. After that, I became a lot more selective, and I haven't had to walk out on things. In fact, I force myself to go through with the experience once I've selected a movie. For example, this past year, I saw "Into the Wild" and "Across the Universe." (I'm a sucker, apparently, for titles that begin with a preposition and end with "the [something vast].") With both of them, I had to struggle not to give in to my urge to escape, and there were some good things I would have missed if I'd indulged my ever-present desire for flight.

What have you walked out on? When did you conquer a strong urge to flee and did you regret your submission? Oh, I'm only talking about movies, you know. Unless you want to hijack this thread too.

Find garden space where you can.

Here's an inspiring example, from Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights:

Early Spring, Brooklyn

"'How many angels dance on the head of the pin?,' she responded, continuing to giggle."

Ready for the new Clinton presidency? To answer to your hard questions, she'll laugh in your face. We'll finally be free of George Bush's "heh heh heh." The new laugh will be a fresh, frank, hearty cackle.

Obama won't pay "street money" — a "Philadelphia ritual."

The local volunteers expect to be handed $10, $20, and $50 bills.
A neutral observer, state Rep. Dwight Evans, whose district is in northwest Philadelphia, said there might be a racial subtext to the dispute. Ward leaders, he said, see Obama airing millions of dollars worth of television ads in the city -- money that benefits largely white station owners, feeding resentment. People wonder why Obama isn't sharing the largesse with the largely African American field workers trying to get him elected, Evans said.

"They view it that the white people are getting all the money for TV," said Evans, an African American and former ward leader. "And they're the ones who are the foot soldiers on the street. They're predominantly African Americans, and they're not the ones who are getting that TV money."

Hardscrabble neighborhoods across the city have come to depend on street money as a welcome payday for knocking on doors, handing out leaflets and speaking to voters as they arrive at polling places.

Peter Wilson, a ward leader from West Philadelphia, said: "Most of the ward leaders, we live in a very poor area, and people look forward to election days. . . . People are astute. They know the Obama campaign has raised millions of dollars."
It's not clear that the Clinton campaign will dole out the cash either — I bet they won't — but in 2004, John Kerry's campaign "paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in street money to Philadelphia's Democratic apparatus." And there's a story about Walter Mondale talking to a Philadelphia crowd in 1980 and getting the first question: "Where's the money?"

According to the article, it's not illegal. If the tradition is to pay grassroots-level people for their work — compensate them for their expenses? — can you come in and stiff them? But if it looks corrupt to outsiders — and it does — Obama must be worrying that Clinton will accuse him of paying the people in Philadelphia to pad the vote for him while she gets honest votes from real supporters in the rest of the state. (This is why I bet the Clintons won't pay.) If this happens, it will be racial politics, and the Clintons have to find a subtle way to say it without saying it.

McCain's biggest problem keeps getting worse.

And it will keep getting worse.

ADDED: Link removed, as it went bad. The reference was to a story about McCain's age.

"Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value."

Canadians have what they call "human rights."

(Link via Instapundit.)

April 10, 2008

I deplore this post.

I was just checking Memeorandum to see what people are blogging about right now, and suddenly everything seems to be at a taste level below the standards of this blog. For your protection, I am collecting these items in one post.

1. "Jon Stewart Awards Obama 'Dick Move of the Week.'"

2. "Randi Rhodes Quits Air America Rather Than Apologize For Hillary Clinton 'F*cking Whore.' Remark."

3. Obama says: "I don’t want you to think I’m getting fresh or anything."

4. "Is that really a naked woman in Dick Cheney's sunglasses?"

There now. I'm terribly sorry.

Spring creeps into Brooklyn.

Early Spring, Brooklyn

Early Spring, Brooklyn

Early Spring, Brooklyn

Oh, no!

Did you watch "American Idol"? One of my favorites is out. Pretty mean the way Ryan threw a little fake hope before pronouncing the sentence. Spoil away in the comments.

AND: Here's the elimination announcement. Shocking... and then cruel. But "American Idol" is all about cruelty. Except when they are helping people. They did the "Give Back" charity thing this week, and here's the video of Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama doing their part. It's very easy to rank those 3 performances: 1. McCain, 2. Obama, 3. Hillary. McCain was funny. Obama was a little loose, if sanctimonious, but he said his 2 daughters were big fans of the show. (Probably rooting for Archuleta, don't you think?) And Hillary was plodding and earnest.

McCain at a loss for words...

... when asked about going to strip clubs.

NYT features a Bloggingheads clip.

Take note.


A surprisingly strong match.
In a new poll conducted by Marist College and WNBC, a McCain-Rice ticket would beat a ticket that includes both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in New York — a state that reliably votes for the Democratic candidate. (In 2004, John Kerry beat President Bush there by nearly 20 points. In 2000, the margin between Al Gore and Bush was an even higher 25 points.)

But should McCain and Rice team up, the poll suggests the two Republicans would carry New York, defeating a Clinton-Obama ticket by 3 points (49-46 percent) and an Obama-Clinton ticket by 5 points (49-44 percent.)

Fog fantasy.

Fog Fantasy

Appearing with Elton John, Hillary Clinton proclaims "I’m still standing."

Oh, cool.

But what I want to know is whether, when she said that, a whole lot of painted, skinny guys in thongs rushed out and gyrated all around her 80s-style:

And then Elton John said: "I never cease to be amazed at the misogynist attitude of some of the people in this country. I say to hell with them."

Geezer John is a whole lot less fun than the youngish John in the "I'm Still Standing" video, which is exactly the sort of thing feminists of the time would deplore. And now he's grown up into one of those people who deplore things.

Morning fog update.

Morning Fog

Time: 8:33 ET. Looking west this time, from the terrace.

The Senate hearing on Iraq.


The view from my window, looking east, at 7:41 this morning.

Morning Fog in Brooklyn

April 9, 2008

It's the new Bloggingheads — with me and Jeralyn Merritt (of TalkLeft)!

Title: "The Loneliness of the Pro-Hillary Blogger."

Topics and times:
Why Hillary should stay in (until June, anyway) (07:36)
Is Hillary a wounded wife, or does she just play one on TV? (06:27)
Ann defends making fun of Hillary and her gender (08:57)
Jeralyn says rape is about violence, not sex; Ann begs to differ (04:50)
Child-porn case raises questions about the role of juries (08:01)
An appreciation of Charlton Heston, actor and activist (02:46)

ADDED: I just listed the topics the way the Bloggingheads website posted them, but not everything we talked about is listed there. Most notably, after we talked about rape, we talked about the lethal injection case that is pending in the Supreme Court.

And here's Jeralyn's post on the diavlog, so you can check out what her commenters are like. The first commenter refuses to watch — despite apparently liking Jeralyn — because I am "pointless" and am at my "best when [I] focus[] on all the women trying to seduce Bill Clinton." (I wonder if Jeralyn thinks that is sexist.) The second commenter says:
Unfortunately, I have to agree. I love Glenn Greenwald too, but I really can't stomach the audio and video clips he occasionally posts with him debating some right-wing nutjob.
The very definition of closed-minded.
No, not bloggingheads! Can't do it. Won't do it....

But still, I'm just not going to watch a bloggingheads.
What is the problem? These people sound like they just don't want to hear their point of view tested.

Jeralyn edits her comments a lot more than I do, so I assume there was some much nastier stuff.

"The male staff who Hillary attracts are slick, geeky weasels or rancid, asexual cream puffs."

Yikes! It's Camille Paglia!

(Via Instapundit.)

ADDED: So I'm mentally sorting through the Hillary men and trying to decide which ones are slick, geeky weasels or and which ones are rancid, asexual cream puffs.

ADDED: Rush Limbaugh read the whole passage and said: "It is an interesting question, and it is interesting to note that all of these guys in Hillary's orb, you know, would be in Revenge of the Nerds 10 — and that's even being charitable towards them, in terms of being men."

Scalia on C-Span.

Video accessible from the C-Span front page. He's talking to students at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, VA.

ADDED: A little simulblogging:

Scalia tells the kids he has 28 grandchildren.

I laughed at about 5:40, at the closeup of two boys reacting to the story of a woman in the 19th century who offered her grandson $5 if he would memorize the Constitution.

He tells them no other country has a term equivalent to "un-American." (Is that true?)

He tells them the Constitution mentions the death penalty "approvingly."

He says that Kelo is "a fragile decision" that will not "stand the test of the ages."

"You can murder anybody in the country and still not violate federal law, if you do it right."

A student asks what thinker has most influenced you, and he's stuck for a moment, then plugs in his tape loop on "The Federalist," then concludes that the answer is: the Framers... "James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall... why don't I just say the Framers?"

Why did Scalia go to law school? He had nothing better to do. He says it again in French: Faute de mieux. Plus, he had an Uncle Vinnie who was a lawyer. And he loves process. And words. And he loves it. You kids should do what you love.

What does he like most about being a Justice? The law! He gets a "kick" out of figuring out "even the most insignificant legal problem." He finds writing "painful" but loves "having written." What does he like least? His first thought is "being a public figure," but he settles on "reviewing cert. petitions." Too many of 'em!

Does the Court have any traditions, like maybe "Movie Night"? "It used to be a tradition to wear these little pill box hats... oh, and... whenever we meet after robing — putting on our little Superman suits — before going out to the bench, we all shake hands with each other."

Why is he opposed to cameras in the courtroom? Most people would watch a 15-second sound bite that would not be characteristic of the oral argument, and he doesn't want to be part of the "miseducation" of the American people.

What was he like in high school? (Good question. Life is high school, right?) "I was something of a greasy grind." President of the Dramatic Society. Played the lead in "MacBeth." Played the French horn in the band. On the junior varsity rifle team. In the Boy Scouts. "Pretty normal childhood, yeah... Middle class, maybe lower middle class — eh, middle class."

When he was a kid, he didn't "aspire" to anything. The "secret" is to "keep your nose to the grindstone." And "a whole lot of luck."

At about 50:35, he impersonates a cop giving the Miranda warnings.

"In my social views, which I do not apply from the bench, I am a fairly conservative fellow."

"Since it is no longer permissible to disparage any single faith or creed, let us start disparaging all of them."

"The 20th century, with its scores of millions of supernumerary dead, has been called the age of ideology. And the age of ideology, clearly, was a mere hiatus in the age of religion, which shows no sign of expiry. Since it is no longer permissible to disparage any single faith or creed, let us start disparaging all of them. To be clear: an ideology is a belief system with an inadequate basis in reality; a religion is a belief system with no basis in reality whatever. Religious belief is without reason and without dignity, and its record is near-universally dreadful. It is straightforward - and never mind, for now, about plagues and famines: if God existed, and if He cared for humankind, He would never have given us religion."

So I am reading that Martin Amis book, the one I said I was going to read. That paragraph — from the second essay, written in 2002 — struck me. The line I boldfaced explains the recent atheism fad, doesn't it?

"Well, I think it's given him a lot of depth and a broadness of view."

In the new Barack Obama ad: the grandmother he was big enough not to denounce. (What's given him a lot of depth is listening.)

(Via Memeorandum.)

Video as "long photos."

The Flickr concept.

I've had trouble sticking to the 10 minute limit in YouTube, so it might seem that Flickr's new feature — video, but only up to 90 seconds — is next to useless. But thinking in terms of "long photos" may help. I've occasionally taken what I'd be happy calling long photos. Like this:

I'm going to start carrying around one of these Flip Video things, so we'll see what happens.

"It's Barney the purple dinosaur's speech at the next Bloomberg Nonpartisanship Symposium."

"Repeat playing would be an excellent enhanced interrogation technique."

Mickey Kaus does not like John McCain's ads.

That was an attempt to create an Obamesque mood — for complete squares.

"A year ago, the president said we couldn't withdraw because there was too much violence."

"Now he says we can't afford to withdraw because violence is down."

Ted Kennedy to General Petraeus.

Me to Ted Kennedy: A year ago, you wanted to give up because we were losing, and now, you want to give up because we're winning.

"Chris Matthews, Seriously. (O.K., Not That Seriously)."

I'm glad to see the title — on a NYT Magazine article previewed here — because I was just calling Matthews a comedian in the context of explaining his "sexist" remarks about Hillary — on video that you'll see on line probably later today. From the article:
Cable political coverage has changed... and so has the sensibility that viewers -- particularly young ones -- expect from it. Matthews's bombast is radically at odds with the wry, antipolitical style fashioned by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert or the cutting and finely tuned cynicism of Matthews's MSNBC co-worker Keith Olbermann. These hosts betray none of the reverence for politics or the rituals of Washington that Matthews does. On the contrary, they appeal to the eye-rolling tendencies of a cooler, highly educated urban cohort of the electorate that mostly dismisses an exuberant political animal like Matthews as annoyingly antiquated, like the ranting uncle at the Thanksgiving table whom the kids have learned to tune out.
But Matthews's performance is comic, is it not? I think he's more like Stewart and Colbert than Keith Obermann is. But there is something about Matthew's that uncool and loutish/boyish. He's more of a comedian the way Rush Limbaugh is a comedian — and I do think Rush Limbaugh is a comedian, not that he doesn't care about what he cares about. I mean, George Carlin cares about what he cares about, and he's a comedian. Not that Carlin — the best living comedian, right? — is uncool and loutish/boyish — cool and urban either for that matter.

ADDED: The NYT has put the whole article up. Here's the part about the "sexist" attitude toward Hillary:
Matthews says the notion that he is sexist has been pushed unfairly by blogs, women’s groups and, to some degree, the Clinton campaign. His remark that Clinton benefitted because her husband “messed around” triggered much outrage from the Clinton team. Matthews eventually apologized in a rambling on-air explanation, but he hardly sounds contrite now. “I was tonally inaccurate but factually true,” he told me. I had asked him earlier if he was forced into the apology. “Oh, yeah, of course I was forced into that,” he said, laughing. “No, no, no . . . Phil [Griffin] asked me to do that.”

Matthews vigorously denies the broader charge that he demeans women on the air. “I don’t think there’s any evidence of that at all,” he said at brunch. “I’ve gone back and looked. Give me the evidence. No one can give it to me. I went through all my stuff. I can’t find it.”

"Anyone can go to Baghdad. Real men go to Tehran."

Says Dick Cheney on page 2 of the screenplay to the Oliver Stone movie about George Bush. Via The Hollywood Reporter.

Women are afraid to talk about politics.

Via Bloggingheads.

April 8, 2008


... dementia.
From 1997 until her death 10 years later, Dr. Adams underwent periodic brain scans that gave her physicians remarkable insights to the changes in her brain.

“In 2000, she suddenly had a little trouble finding words,” her husband said. “Although she was gifted in mathematics, she could no longer add single digit numbers. She was aware of what was happening to her. She would stamp her foot in frustration.”...

When artists suffer damage to the right posterior brain, they lose the ability to be creative, Dr. Miller said. Dr. Adams’s story is the opposite. Her case and others suggest that artists in general exhibit more right posterior brain dominance. In a healthy brain, these areas help integrate multisensory perception. Colors, sounds, touch and space are intertwined in novel ways. But these posterior regions are usually inhibited by the dominant frontal cortex, he said. When they are released, creativity emerges.
What does this say about the difference between artists and mathematicians with healthy brains?

ADDED: Neo-neocon talks about Dr. Adams and her demented art.

"Could it be? Might she really be talking to me?"

Ruth Anne watches a Hillary commercial.

"These hate bloggers will be blogging in Hell some day."

Says Kinky Friedman, talking about the DailyKos, where mean things were said when Charlton Heston died.

"Pretentious, formalistic argument... preening, self-consciously literary musings ... narcissistically complains..."

"... repeatedly draws a nonsensical analogy... gross generalizations... cavalier attitude infects... adds nothing illuminating... blindly accepting... specious or skewed... ridiculous paper tigers... sweeping statements... such a weak, risible and often objectionable volume that the reader finishes it convinced that Mr. Amis should stick to writing fiction and literary criticism, as he’s thoroughly discredited himself with these essays as any sort of political or social commentator."

Snippets from a savage review that somehow makes me want to pick up the book and read it today. But then I liked "Koba the Dread," and I especially like nonfiction riffing by novelistic minds. (I'd rather read this than this.) That Martin Amis does his riffing over heavy themes like 9/11 and Stalin might piss you off, as it did the NYT reviewer. It is what it is. So read it or don't.

And then Christopher Hitchens said to Andrew Sullivan: "Don't be such a lesbian."

April 7, 2008

"Eddie Murphy's Ex Wife Denies A Jimmy Choo Shoe Wrecked Their Marriage."

Just another headline that amused me.

Is MSM sexist toward Hillary?

This video clips together the evidence:

Yes, of course, some of that stuff is awful, but political fighting is harsh, and if women are going to be in it — really in it, as Hillary is — they'll have to get knocked around. I'm not going to wring my hands over this. It's part of progress. Males are savaged too. It means they're taken seriously.

But see the comments on this video over on TalkLeft — a very pro-Hillary blog:
Watch this video and weep for our national discourse....

Just got through watching this with my 18 yr. old daughter and frankly, I was crying like a baby. Incomprehensible Demoralization..... That's about all I can say. Hoped it would be different for her when I brought her home from the hospital 18 yrs. ago. Some things changs, but sadly some things don't. Thanks for the post....

To see what is systematically being done to her by the press/blogosphere/public at large just fills me with such rage and such despair....

When I watched this, I teared up because finally, here is some acknowledgment of the truth in this Orwellian primary season where so many so-called progressives have remained silent during the vile misogynistic public lynching of Hillary Clinton.

I had to take a music break:

"People are starving in Africa so that American politicians can court votes in farm states."

Biofuels have been a "terrible mistake," says Paul Krugman.
[E]ven on optimistic estimates, producing a gallon of ethanol from corn uses most of the energy the gallon contains. But it turns out that even seemingly “good” biofuel policies, like Brazil’s use of ethanol from sugar cane, accelerate the pace of climate change by promoting deforestation.

And meanwhile, land used to grow biofuel feedstock is land not available to grow food, so subsidies to biofuels are a major factor in the food crisis....

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: All the remaining presidential contenders are terrible on this issue.

"Judge's Bizarre Ruling Aids Perv."

NY Post headline about Judge Weinstein's decision in the Polizzi case:
Maverick Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein issued the ruling in a child-porn case over which he presided - chastising himself for not telling the jury that the defendant faced a minimum five-year sentence before it found him guilty.

The drastic ruling says juries should be told what sentences certain criminals face, especially if the prison terms are particularly long....

Weinstein made his stand in declaring a mistrial in the conviction of Pietro Polizzi, 54, a Brooklyn pizza-shop owner.

Weinstein wrote that he "committed a constitutional error" by not telling the jury about the sentence.

Weinstein declared the mistrial on the top count - receiving child porn - and instead gave Polizzi one year in prison on a lesser count of possession.

At trial, Polizzi argued an insanity defense, claiming he was sexually abused as a child and that he'd downloaded the porn only to research his own past.

After Polizzi was convicted, Weinstein polled the jurors, asking if they would have issued the same verdict had they known the mandatory minimum sentence. Many said no, stating they felt Polizzi needed treatment, not prison time.
Does that sound bizarre to you? The bizarreness lies in the deviation from precedent. Orin Kerr, who has read — or at least "looked over" — the 266-page case, explains:
[T]he basic argument is this: Recent Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Sixth Amendment like Blakely v. Washington suggest that the current Supreme Court greatly values the role of the jury, and as a result older precedents saying that the jury can't hear about sentences are inconsistent with the spirit of the Supreme Court's new cases and are no longer binding precedent....

The new cases like Blakely and Booker concern whether the judge or jury finds the facts. By contrast, this case is about whether instructions should facilitate or encourage the jury to ignore the facts. That's a very different set of questions. The fact that one line of cases gives power to jurors and the other keeps it away from them does not make the two lines of cases inconsistent.
But Judge Weinstein has written a book of an opinion (PDF) to show that they are inconsistent. We'll see what kind of reviews his book gets.

"Charles is very dismissive of Camilla's views and lifestyle."

"He is ever more fussy, ratty and irascible."

Ugh! The royals! I can't stand royalty. I went to see "The Lion King" — the Broadway show — on Saturday, and I was rooting for Scar. Great puppets, sets, and costumes — but I don't like the characters and the story. I'll say the same for the British royal family: Great puppets, sets, and costumes — but I don't like the characters and the story.

Still trying to get to spring here in Brooklyn.

Almost foliage:

A Shadow of Spring

Some new color:

An Early Spring View from Brooklyn

"Hard being a superdelegate, huh?... No sense staying neutral this long if you don’t end up picking the winner, right?"

"Four Days in Denver" — the movie treatment (by "West Wing" writer Lawrence O’Donnell Jr.).

"Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton, were furious with Penn..."

Penn's out — ironically, for being right about something.

"What I've also said is: I will always listen to the commanders on the ground."

The Republican National Committee releases an effective video juxtaposing statements about Iraq by General Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama:

ADDED: Here's a big WaPo article on Bush's reliance on Petraeus's judgment:
In the waning months of his administration, Bush has hitched his fortunes to those of his bookish four-star general, bypassing several levels of the military chain of command to give Petraeus a privileged voice in White House deliberations over Iraq, according to current and former administration officials and retired officers. In so doing, Bush's working relationship with his field commander has taken on an intensity that is rare in the history of the nation's wartime presidents....

Bush's relationship with Petraeus marks a departure for modern war presidencies. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton left it largely to their military advisers in Washington to communicate with field commanders, according to scholars of civilian-military relations....

But during the George W. Bush administration, improved videoconferencing technology has allowed the president to communicate to an unprecedented degree with commanders on the battlefield and, his advisers say, immerse himself in the details of the war.
Is that not what Obama is also offering to do when he said "I will always listen to the commanders on the ground"? Or is there some important order imposed by filtering communication through the military chain of command (as many quoted in the linked article are saying)? Is Bush exhibiting his particular management style, or has improved technology changed the way other Presidents will operate?

"A rejuvenated tax specialist, a boarding school pixie, a literature major from Virginia and a clog-wearing nutritionist."

The NYT makes the 4 individuals that ran a prostitution ring sound like characters in a new, bad sit-com.

What, exactly, makes a human being a "pixie"? Apparently, Cecil Suwal was "petite" and "bubbly."

And how did the "tax specialist" get "rejuvenated" — by going into the prostitution business?
[The] boss was Mark Brener, 62. He dealt with a stack of medical bills for his late wife by starting the escort service, an idea that dawned on him several years ago as he surveyed sex-related advertisements in the weekly newspaper The Village Voice....

The venture reinvigorated Mr. Brener. He dyed his hair black, donned a leather jacket and recruited three women to help him. The four seemingly had little in common beyond a desire for extra money and a willingness to earn it in alternative ways.
So there's your "rejuvenated." He dyed his hair and got a leather jacket — and entered the prostitution business.

Then there's "Temeka Rachelle Lewis, 32, whom friends describe as a reserved and bookish graduate of the University of Virginia, scheduled meetings between willing young women and wealthy men." So you graduate from a fine college and you become a secretary... for a prostitution business?

The "clog-wearing nutritionist" — get it? Each member of the unlikely foursome in our new sit-com has a different kind of unlikeliness. This one, Tanya Hollander, has kitchen shelves that "brim with spices and herbs" and a table "strewn with grapefruit and books of holistic and organic recipes."
"I’d like to help people heal through food, to use food as medicine and to take the time to choose the right meals."
The comic dialogue will practically write itself. She can be like Saffy on "AbFab."

Now why do these 4 mismatched characters come together in their ridiculous enterprise? The Times delves into the mystery:
For decades, studies have tracked the forces that drive people into prostitution. Few, though, have reviewed what, beyond money, propels someone toward a life as a pimp or a madam.
What, beyond money.... I love that.
“We don’t know much about people who run brothels, massage parlors or escort agencies,” said Ronald Weitzer, a sociology professor at George Washington University who has written about the sex industry.
Call up the expert and learn... we don't know much.

April 6, 2008

"Every woman will eventually vote — for Gold Dust."

More old subway ads from the NY Transit Museum.

Ads in old subway cars

(Enlarge.) You never see subway ads with the word "cravat" anymore. And the hyphenation! "Cra-vat" — ironically, when talking about things that fit perfectly.

Here's what the whole interior of the car looked like:

Old subway car

See those bare light bulbs? It made it very hard to take decent pictures of the wonderful old ads, so please excuse the low quality of the next few.

I was not trying to be snide and make this one say "buy more war." I was just cropping out a terrible glare:

Ads in old subway cars

Maybe you can figure out what year it was from the cutesy cartoon take on Hitler.

This one is pretty offensive too, but the City of New York has it on display:

Ads in old subway cars


Food will win the war:

Ads in old subway cars

Carry out all conservation rules of the U.S. Food Administration. We're soft today, aren't we? Do you find yourself laughing at the notion that "food will win the war" and thinking it would do just as well to cut your wheat intake in half for 2 days a week as to have one wheatless day and who eats pork every day anyway?

"Condoleeza Rice has been actively campaigning" to be John McCain's VP pick.

Says Republican strategist Dan Senor.
“There's this ritual in Washington, the Americans for Tax Reform, which is headed by Grover Norquist, he holds a weekly meeting of conservative leaders, about 100, 150 people, sort of inside, chattering, class types,” Senor explained. “They all typically get briefings from political conservative leaders. Ten days ago, they had an interesting visit. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The first time a Secretary of State has visited the Wednesday Meeting.”

...“What the McCain campaign has to consider is whether or not they want to pick a total outsider, a fresh face, someone a lot younger than him, a governor who people aren't that familiar with. The challenge they're realizing is that they'll have to have to spend 30-45 days, which they won't have at that point, educating the American public about who this person is,” Senor said. “The other category is someone who people instantly say, the second they see that announcement, I get it, that person could be president tomorrow. Condi Rice is an option.”
And George Will, a co-panelist with Senor on "This Week" today, said:
"It is possible. In fact, I guess I'm not talking out of school when I say in our green room last week when Senator Lieberman was on he said, well, perhaps Condi and of course Lieberman is very close."
There's a video clip at the second link, and the discussion is all about whether McCain wants to saddle himself with George Bush's Iraq policy. Maybe there's more on the transcript, but clearly, Condoleezza Rice would shake up the racial and gender politics.

Come on, everybody! Let's study philosophy!

It's the big thing on campus these days. Supposedly.
... Ms. Onejeme, now a senior applying to law school, ended up changing her major to philosophy, which she thinks has armed her with the skills to be successful. “My mother was like, what are you going to do with that?” said Ms. Onejeme, 22. “She wanted me to be a pharmacy major, but I persuaded her with my argumentative skills.”
Key words: "law school."
Once scoffed at as a luxury major, philosophy is being embraced at Rutgers and other universities by a new generation of college students who are drawing modern-day lessons from the age-old discipline as they try to make sense of their world, from the morality of the war in Iraq to the latest political scandal.
And applying to law school.
The economic downturn has done little, if anything, to dampen this enthusiasm among students, who say that what they learn in class can translate into practical skills and careers.
... Barry Loewer, the department chairman, said that Rutgers started building its philosophy program in the late 1980s, when the field was branching into new research areas like cognitive science and becoming more interdisciplinary. He said that many students have double-majored in philosophy and, say, psychology or economics, in recent years, and go on to become doctors, lawyers, writers, investment bankers and even commodities traders.

As the approach has changed, philosophy has attracted students with little interest in contemplating the classical texts, or what is known as armchair philosophy. Some, like Ms. Onejeme, the pre-med-student-turned-philosopher, who is double majoring in political science, see it as a pre-law track because it emphasizes the verbal and logic skills prized by law schools — something the Rutgers department encourages by pointing out that their majors score high on the LSAT.
"Contemplating the classical texts... armchair philosophy"... Get away, you low-energy losers!

That is, I think that's what the philosophy professors have figured out it's in their interest to say. Rebranding philosophy as the antechamber to high-paying, prestigious careers is the way to create demand for the career the philosophy professors want for themselves — contemplating the classical texts, doing armchair philosophy.

"I think the stress people feel... comes from the unattended-to knowledge that what they are doing doesn't make sense."

I say that at the end of the update to this post from yesterday.

One more.


"Concentration is coming harder now."

Reading about Charlton Heston this morning, I started thinking about what I would do if I learned I had Alzheimer's disease. One thing is, I would keep blogging. That got me wondering how many people are already blogging with Alzheimer's disease, and how people with Alzheimer's disease are using blogging. Here's an article from Wired in 2002 about blogging with "AD."
"Many people, once they're diagnosed with AD, simply give up on life," said Alice Young, a 75-year-old former psychotherapist who divides her time each year between Florida and Minnesota. "And those are the people who go down more quickly."

But Young and others with AD are blogging to keep their spirits high and their minds sharp.

In her journal, Young mixes frank descriptions of her illness with encouraging words and prayers.

"Concentration is coming harder now," reads one entry from November 2000. "I am constantly misplacing/losing things. I go to the Dr. and I am going to ask for another test to see how much I have lost."

More than one and a half years later, on June 17, 2002, Young has become more philosophical about her AD: "Time is getting shorter for me, and I realize it, so I'm 'going for the gusto' as much as I can," she wrote.

Young said she and others with AD keep journals to "exercise the cognitive powers we have as much as possible."

"But I also think it's important to be realistic about AD," Young said.

AD has no known cure, and there is no proof that blogging, or any other form of cognitive exercise, can stem its progress. But AD bloggers say their journals have greatly improved their quality of life, by helping them to recall tasks completed and milestones passed.
Is Young's blog still there? I think it ends here:
May 28, 2004

Made a decision to to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God.

got an email from Pete this morning asking if I can come to Hot Springs. I am not sure as I hate driving that long. If I can fly, I will consider it... Luv Alice
Blogging with Alzheimer's, you could look back into your archive and witness the slope of your own decline. Is that something you would want to do? I would.

Can we get some more?


Have some spring.


Charlton Heston, "remembered chiefly for his monumental, jut-jawed portrayals of Moses, Ben-Hur and Michelangelo."

Goodbye to one of the all-time great movie stars, Charlton Heston, who has died at the age of 83. When I read "remembered chiefly for his monumental, jut-jawed portrayals of Moses, Ben-Hur and Michelangelo," I wondered, by whom? I'm pretty old but I've never seen those movies. I was alive when they came out, but too young to go to movies like that, and they weren't the kind of movies I was ever interested in over the decades I've spent catching up on old movies. So I don't believe Charlton Heston is remembered chiefly for his monumental, jut-jawed portrayals of Moses, Ben-Hur and Michelangelo. I think most people younger than 60 remember him chiefly for "Planet of the Apes." Ask the man on the street to imitate Charlton Heston and I bet he'd say "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"  

Or maybe:



Ah, we loved Science Fiction Charlton Heston! It was Charlton Heston that turned me against Michael Moore. Remember this from "Bowling for Columbine" — taking advantage of the old man's deteriorating mind?


Horrible. Moore must have felt so self-righteous about his anti-gun agenda that he couldn't see why it was indecent to use that footage. [ADDED: Actually, I don't think that clip is "horrible" or "indecent." When I posted this, I was remembering it and the discussion around it at the time. After watching it just now, I think, given Heston's NRA activities, it was appropriate to interview him and push him, and Moore addressed him with an appropriate level of respect.][AND: I think the unfairness to Moore that I remember occurs outside of this clip, when Moore refuses to leave politely after Heston ends the interview.] The obituary outlines Heston's political career. He started out as a Democrat, and though he, like Ronald Reagan, served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, he never wanted to run for office.

He became a Republican after Democrats in the Senate blocked the confirmation of Judge Robert Bork, a conservative, to the Supreme Court in 1987. Mr. Heston had supported the nomination and was critical of the Reagan White House for misreading the depth of the liberal opposition.... In December of that year, as the keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary gala of the Free Congress Foundation, Mr. Heston described “a cultural war” raging across America, “storming our values, assaulting our freedoms, killing our self-confidence in who we are and what we believe.” The next year, at 73, he was elected president of the N.R.A. In his speech at the association’s convention before his election, he trained his oratorical artillery on President Bill Clinton’s White House: “Mr. Clinton, sir, America didn’t trust you with our health care system. America didn’t trust you with gays in the military. America doesn’t trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure, Lord, don’t trust you with our guns.”

McCain is "implicitly attacking Obama for basking in self-glory, when the Obama campaign is very much predicated on 'we' and not 'I.'"

Bill Scher perceives irony in McCain's ad — which depicts his life story, including his service in Vietnam — because it is "very much about 'I.'" Scher thinks the ad says: "Look at the heroic life that I have had. You can trust me to manage this war, et cetera."

Scher is the liberal in a Bloggingheads episode, and his interlocutor, Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation, makes a different point about McCain's use of biography in his new ads: There are "ways" to use this material and other "kind of more unAmerican, I guess, ways to do it," Carroll says, noting "that might be a bad phrase."
He's... talking about his family going all the way back to George Washington, you know, served on George Washington's staff.... He's got an airbase named after him. And he's establishing this, like, almost royal pedigree, and, you know, this is not a country built on royalty. We're a country about, you know, not caring what your parents did. We're a country about, you know, what do you, what did you do, you know, how have you built your story. And it just was very, you know, not very American to go out there and say I've got this long, royal lineage that you all should respect, you know, please vote for me, as opposed to Barack Obama's message of, you know, I created my own identity out of the American image and, you know, I am you, let's go forward. It's, it's grating on many conservative ears.
So, let's see. McCain took up a family tradition of service and gave of himself, profoundly, and that's not as good, and not as conservative, as having "built your story" and "created" your "identity." It's more American to build and create stories and identities? I don't get it. I mean, I understand the American love of the self-made individual who came out of nowhere. And there is something very American — not in the loftiest sense — about inventing a marketable character for yourself. (I'm thinking of Buffalo Bill Cody, Madonna, etc.) But I don't see the conservative problem with situating the individual in a historical tradition. (McCain had a brilliant ad in early March that I thought expressed profound conservative values exactly this way.)

And Barack Obama isn't a self-made man in the rags-to-riches sense. He has lived a distinctly privileged life — going to all the best schools — and has had to take steps as an adult to put together a more marketable persona. Now, he's done that wonderfully effectively — but we need to see it for what it is.

But let's get back to Scher's perspective, that Obama's "we" is better than McCain's "I." Seeing yourself as a part of a tradition and accepting service and sacrifice within that tradition — that's not "we"? Devising a magnificent, marketable political persona — that's not "I"?