May 17, 2008

Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

Seen — through the fisheye lens — from the overlook as you drive into town from the east on Route 171:

Gays Mills, Wisconsin
(Enlarge to see the town.)

There is a historical marker right there telling you about the establishment of the apple orchards in this valley alongside the Kickapoo River. The landscape is so dramatic because it's driftless — the glaciers didn't make it this far. I drove all the way out here today because the cabbie who picked me up at the airport on Thursday told me that the apple trees will be in bloom along Route 171, and it's a great drive. (We'd been talking about flowering trees in Madison.) Go out past Gotham and Boaz to Gays Mills. He was right about the trees and the drive. There were great curvy roads for my Audi TT Coupe to get some exercise after all these long months sitting in my driveway when I was living in New York. There were almost no other cars out on Route 171 — mostly motorcycles. You could tell that everyone driving there was driving to drive. Propitiously, the radio played "Radar Love."

And here are the mills:

Gays Mills, Wisconsin

I was out traipsing about on the bank of the Kickapoo, trying to get a good shot of the water rolling over the dam. Took a picture of this sign that I didn't bother to read.


Because these things can't apply to me. I'm lucky. A cabdriver tells me about where to find flowers. And — also last Thursday — as I hoisted my two big bags off the luggage carousel at the airport, I was talking to a nun and, when I turned to leave, she said, "God bless you." I was reentering Wisconsin, and everything seemed propitious.




Sooo.... they're like hippies? Right?

Only more annoying?

Teddy Kennedy is rushed to the hospital...

... with symptoms of a stroke.

We pause 10 seconds before adding: What effect will this have on the presidential election?


... idiot.

You know, there is a big problem with believing you're a comedian.

Last picture in Brooklyn. First picture in Madison.


Pillar with weasels

Kitty cat!

Latte with kitty cat

The kitty looks a little evil. Is that a handlebar mustache? Why am I saying "kitty cat"? The barista gave me a choice of images for my latte foam — fern, orchid, heart, etc. — and I picked "kitty cat." He conceded he wasn't that good at achieving the difficult kitty cat. By the way, latte art is a big deal. Here's a better effort at kitty cat. I'll try to give my Madison guy more practice.

Deep Doudou.

Doudou Diene is the human rights investigator sent to the United States by the U.N. to "gather first-hand information on issues related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." He'll be here for 3 weeks to get this "first-hand information." I don't know. How would you spend 3 weeks trying to get first-hand information in a country of 300 million?

Giambi's panties.

A gold lamé thong with a flame-line waistband.
"I had it over my shorts and stuff," [Derek Jeter] said. "I was 0-for-32 and I hit a homer on the first pitch. That's the only time I've ever worn it."

Johnny Damon also admitted donning the golden panties "probably three times."...

What is the secret of Giambi's golden thong?

"You're not worrying about your hands or your balance at the plate," Damon said. "You're worried about the uncomfortable feeling you're receiving."
Uncomfortable... because it's a thong or because you know it's gold lamé thong with a "flame-line" (whatever that is)?
Catcher Jorge Posada [said] that "a lot of players have worn it," but he didn't name names. Asked if the thong got washed between wearings, he gave a cringe-worthy answer. "Ask Jason," said Posada. "Jason is a little strange."
If the point is to make you uncomfortable, you shouldn't wash it.

ADDED: I fixed what was a misattribution of the first quote to Jason Giambi. Sorry.

Blogging the past... 1994... 1918...

In my Time the Blog Forgot blog, the year that came up in my random number generator today is 1994, which seems like only yesterday to someone my age, but was (obviously) 14 years ago. I've got 2 posts about 2 things that were new:
Apple's new touchpad

Bill Clinton's new Supreme Court nominee Stephen G. Breyer
Meanwhile, The West Virginia Rebel, noticing me, takes up the practice of history blogging, looking a whole year and plucking a very juicy year: 1918.

(Also, I would love it if someone could help me fix a glitch in the template over there that single-spaces block-and-indent text and then keeps the single-spacing for unindented text that follows.)

Robin Givhan on Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama in Vogue.

Vogue transforms:
If there is one word the picture seems to be aggressively striving to evoke, it would be "relaxed." McCain's studied repose is in direct contrast to the image she projects in campaign photographs in which she is pressed, polished and so stiffly poised that she often looks like a wax replica of a political spouse. There's nothing especially natural or nonchalant about her Vogue portrait. One can almost see the fingerprints of the assistant who adjusted her hands just so and one wonders how long she had to hold her head at what looks to be an uncomfortable angle. But the implied message is unmistakable: I am not a Stepford wife.
It's just more Stepfordish — isn't it? — to annihilate traces of Stepfordishness.

By contrast:
[Michelle] Obama's photos seemed crafted specifically to help the viewer imagine her in the role of first lady. She is a study in little black dresses, conservative pearls, preppy hair and restraint. Again, the implied message is unmistakable: I am neither subversive nor threatening. I am not some scary "other." I am Camelot with a tan.
Camelot with a tan.

Meanwhile, neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton has submitted to the transformative powers of Vogue. Would it help, and would it help more for Bill or for Hillary to do the posing? Hillary's hair, makeup, and fashion are fiercely controlled by someone (presumably, some team of experts), so it's no surprise she did not allow it. And tousling Bill up is too apt to be taken the wrong way. It's best that the Clintons remain unVogued — though, with hindsight, everything they did seems ill-fated. If only Hilary's hair had blown free while she lounged on a rock by the ocean. If only she'd — just once! — worn a dress — a diaphanous gown...

"Justice Scalia: Ruth Ginsburg Is My Best Friend."

You got my attention, but, snappy headline writer, that's not supported by the text:
"I consider myself a good friend of every one of my colleagues, both past and present. Some more than others. My best friend on the Court is and has been for many years, Ruth Ginsburg. Her basic approach is not mine, but she’s a lovely person and a good loyal friend."
Does he have no good friends off the Court?

CLARIFICATION: My question there is intended only as a criticism of the headline writer, not as a suggestion that Scalia has no good friends off the Court. I'm assuming he does, and the headline writer is assuming he doesn't.

A question for bloggers: What other blogger are you most jealous of?

I'm not answering my own question though... because I'm too jealous! It's enough that I'm admitting it here and acknowledging it. And what is it that makes you jealous of another blogger — or another writer if you are a writer or another artist/musician if you are an artist/musician? It's only partly the success and admiration that other person has won. It's also that you know the other person's work is good, and it's good in a way that makes you feel that it was the sort of thing you could have done or almost did. You realize that feeling is delusional — which becomes crushingly obvious when you notice you think you deserve credit for the way you could have thought of it too and done it.

May 16, 2008


Dog in dappled sunlight

... in dappled sunlight.

"I can't stand being around negative people."

A bit self-contradictory, no? Anyway, Rush Limbaugh said that yesterday in the course of a 454-word rant in which he said the word "screw" or "screwed" 12 times.

"I remember when I used to play shoot 'em up, shoot 'em up, bang, bang, baby."

Just a song I heard a few minutes ago on the 60s channel:

The group is pretty obscure: The Intruders.

Teach your children about the house hippo.

Nicely done. Shown only in Canada.

I'm not in Brooklyn anymore, but...

... here are a couple last Brooklyn pictures:

Brooklyn walls

Brooklyn walls

Brooklyn walls

"Crazy ants run in a crazy manner."

Crazy rasberry ants.

UPDATE: The NYT resists the appellation "rasberry":
Scientists do not quite know what to call them, they are so new. But folks in the damp coastal belt south of Houston have their own names (some of them printable) for the little invaders...

“We call them running ants,” said Diane Yeo, a homeowner...

The species, which bites but does not sting, was first identified here in 2002 by a Pearland exterminator, Tom Rasberry, who quickly lent his name to the find: the crazy rasberry ant.
Yeah, don't let some exterminator stick his name on these important ants — even if he does have a cool name. Speaking of having a name that's good for an ant, there's Paul Nester of Texas A&M University.
“They’re the ant of all ants,” said Dr. Nester, who said they had infested five coastal counties, “and are moving about half a mile a year.”
Oh, no! There the new killer bees — advancing on us!

Obama on the flag pin: "If it ends up being on another suit, I might leave it one day..."

He's trying to make us think that the flag pin gets on the lapel one day because someone happens to hand him one, so he pops it on, and then the next day, he puts on a different suit, so it's not there, so he leaves it. Like he just doesn't really think about it one way or the other. Come on! He's lying! Don't lie! I mean, I know you've been having an unimaginably powerful experience with millions of people buying the things you say, but don't get cocky. We do still have our lie detectors, and we can reactivate them if we get in the mood to. Don't push us. Keep the magic alive.

After the California decision, will same-sex marriage become an issue in the presidential campaign?

I should do a proper post on the California Supreme Court decision that found a state constitutional law right against the state's ban on gay marriage. I should have done it yesterday, but I was moving from Brooklyn back to Madison, and I did not accomplish the timely, bloggerly thing. I'll get more legal later. Right now, I want to be political.

The decision has us thinking and talking about same-sex marriage again, and that will affect the presidential election. McCain, Obama, and Clinton all take the same position on the issue — a weaselly triad of ideas they hope are not too touchy: 1. give equivalent rights, 2. don't call it marriage, 3. leave it to the states. But this doesn't mean the issue won't have an effect.

Adam Nagourney writes:
Even if Mr. McCain does not wield [the issue] as part of his fall campaign — and his political associates said he almost certainly would not — history suggests that independent conservative advocacy groups would seize on the ruling to try to define Mr. Obama and his party [and Mrs. Clinton!?] as culturally out-of-step....

[T]here are differences of nuance in how the Democratic and Republican candidates talk about the issue that could have resonance with socially conservative voters. For example, Mr. Obama’s campaign explicitly said that he “has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions.”

In California, Mr. Brown is leading an effort to force a voter initiative that would overturn the court decision. If Mr. McCain decides to back such an initiative, it could provide a point of contrast that conservatives could use to hurt Mr. Obama.
Would McCain do that?
And an initiative could bring out more conservative voters at a time when Mr. McCain’s advisers see a small hope of putting California in play.
That would be big, but I can't picture McCain making that move. As Nagourney points out, that would set him against Governor Schwarzenegger.

But isn't there something subtler that McCain can do?

McCain only needs to stimulate feelings that things are changing too fast, that courts are taking over too aggressively, and that unknown, worrisome things might happen— unless stable, restrained judges are put in place. McCain is, in fact, already doing that. Yesterday's strong example of judicial activism resonates with what McCain has already said about judges.

I think the fear of rapid change will affect voters in the presidential election, especially since we expect the Democrats will control both houses of Congress. Do we really want a Democratic President too? Do we want, in addition to free-flowing legislative change, a President whose judicial appointments will be rubber-stamped in the Senate?

Now, Obama's message has been change. He's committed to that message, and it can be turned against him — a feat that becomes easier in the aftermath of the California decision.

"I am against corporations; ain't going to give them any powers."/"The corporations — they want this? What will they pay for it?"

Teddy Roosevelt condemns the 2 extremes — in the year that blog forgot: 1899.

Also noted today:

Queen Victoria pats a terrier.


Reverend W.W. Reynolds wrings his ... hands over "women of refinement and exquisite moral training addicted to the use of the bicycle."

ADDED: Fortunately, 1899 is one of the years in the NYT archive that you can access without paying (or having an educational account), so everyone will be able to read the underlying news stories for free.

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to deal with the problem of the TimesSelect wall that blocks the middle section of the 100 years I'm blogging in my new side project The Time That Blog Forgot. I've thought of a few ideas:

1. Use a style of blogging that makes consulting the underlying article unimportant. You'll know there is an article supporting the post, but you won't need to read it.

2. Try to get the NYT to give me a way to link that bypasses the system they have in place. And, by the way, why do they have this system? How much money can they make off the old archive? How can it be worth the annoyance and the ill will that is created? Also, they need to replace the PDFs with text files. I know they have the text on line somehow, because when I Google words from the center of the article, it comes up first.

3. Find other historical archives that can be searched by the day and year.

May 15, 2008

This is pretty cool.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.


I'm re-ensconced in Wisconsin and back to blogging "the way things look from Madison, Wisconsin" (which was the end of my original blog subtitle).

We got delayed 2 hours because, the pilot said, the door on the plane wasn't closing and that might be a problem. We're all I should think so! and then it becomes clear that the door in question is that bathroom door, at which point, we pretty much all want to say We'll hold it! but delays are normal and making people not go to the bathroom or go with a nonclosing door is abnormal, and abnormal things lead to bad press and lawsuits, so the normal thing is the thing that's done and we had to deplane and replane.

Anyway, I'm back in the heartland.

"California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban."

Breaking news. More to follow.

(It will probably take me a while to post, because I'm about to get on a plane.)

Bush knows you know who he's talking about.

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

The Google... the internets...

Bush speaks.

Variations in airport opinion.

Woman: "Why do we have to take off our shoes?"

Man: "They can waterboard me as far as I'm concerned."

What's with those 10% of black people who don't support Barack Obama?

Cinque Henderson explains:
I disliked Obama almost instantly. I never believed the central premises of his autobiography or his campaign. He is fueled by precisely the same brand of personal ambition as Bill Clinton.
And he's pretty irked by the way white people like Obama:
So much of the educated white people's love for Barack depends on educated white people's complete ignorance of and distance from the rest of us. Barack is the black person they want the rest of us to be — half-white and loving, or "racially transcendent," as the press loves to call him.
Well, that rings true, but is it really so terrible? Why doesn't it bother the 90% of black who do support Obama? I'm sure they notice, and I'm guessing they think we're a little pathetic, but decent enough and reasonably tolerable.

Today's year that blog forgot is...


I am not an online jackass.

I only scored 4 on this "Are You an Online Jackass?" quiz. In the last 30 days, I vlogged (4 points), and I visited MySpace (1 point). I have not invited someone to add their photo to a Flickr group, complained that someone reblogged a third party's content without crediting me for finding it first, talked like a LOLcat in real life, or any of the many things that you are probably doing and which make you an online jackass.

Blogged from the airport.

(I bet they'd have put ended a blog post with "Blogged from the airport" if they'd thought of it.)

Last post from Brooklyn.

Bags packed. I'll be very lucky if I don't get charged for going over the weight limit, even though I put everything heavy — i.e., books — in my carry-on. I finished my last venti latte. Window sills are all dusted.

Walking back to the apartment with my paper cup of coffee, I felt a little wistful. I noticed things I'd never noticed —the smell of the water the shopkeeper was spraying on the sidewalk — and had to face the fact that there were billions of details that I'd failed to perceive in my 9-month stay. Too late now. Look at all the people I've never met, and — worse — the people I only just met and barely got to know.

I can count it as a positive that leaving the place gives some understanding of all these failures — all these hidden riches. And a trip away from home makes me love home so much more.

It's the thought of going home — of Madison — that moves me the most right now.

"Orwell said, 'I never wrote a decent word that wasn't motivated by a deep political feeling.'"

"I totally disagree with Orwell, who I admire," says Tom Wolfe. "I have never written a decent word that was dominated by politics."
People always talk about me as this right-wing writer. And to them I say, "What's my agenda? What is political about I am Charlotte Simmons? What's political about A Man In Full, what's political about The Right Stuff or The Bonfire of the Vanities, or The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test?"
Oh, Tom, don't you realize — of course you do — that denying such things are political is itself right wing?

I found that via Instapundit, who's got a 2:23 AM post at the top of his page now, saying that he just got back home after 6 hours at the Children's E.R. and that blogging may be light this morning. I hope everything is okay with the Instafamily, but it must be, because not only did he say "Things turned out about as well as could be," but he also saw fit to think about and take the time to manage blog reader expectations.

UPDATE: Looks like he's okay.

"Those aren't words. What does that mean? 'I'm sorry, I was wrong'?"

And for more ways to re-enjoy the legendary O'Reilly meltdown, here it is, where it more than belongs, enshrined in the "Top 10 Angry On-Air Meltdowns." (Are there some on-air meltdowns that aren't angry?)

May 14, 2008

"Hi Peggy. This is Barack Obama. I'm calling to apologize on two fronts."

"One was you didn't get your question answered and I apologize.... Second apology is for using the word 'sweetie.' That's a bad habit of mine. I do it sometimes with all kinds of people. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front."

All kinds of people? Will he be calling Ahmadinejad "sweetie"? Just what we need is another President getting too familar...

I won't spoil it on the front page.

But spoil away in the comments: Do you approve of the final 2 for this year's "American Idol"?

"Never before has a thriving species been listed under the Environmental Species Act."

The polar bear is now listed as an threatened species. UPDATE: WSJ opinion here:
The most pernicious element in the polar bear melodrama is the way the law is being run off the rails, and even a duly elected White House can't seem to throw on the brakes. If Congress wants to enact global-warming legislation, then so be it – but the costs and benefits should be argued in the open. This fly-by-night policy making is not only unscientific. It's undemocratic.
ADDED: The quote in the title is copied from the article, but it is the Endangered Species Act, not the "Environmental Species Act." Considering the decision, the mistake is understandable.

I return to the old question of laptops in the classroom. Or: Why do law professors hate freedom?

In the comments here, XWL wondered why I hadn't blogged about this Ian Ayres' Freakonomics post about laptops, then quickly added, "Oops, see you've already posted about the 'phony laptops-in-the-classroom' issue a few years ago."

Yes, I was already sick of this issue in 2006. But what the hell? If Ian Ayres is talking about it on Freakonomics, I'll have another go at it.

Ayres's piece is called "Surfing the Class," and you may have noticed that my post from 2 years ago has a little aside saying nobody says "surfing" about the internet anymore. Oh, the things that you think have gone away that keep coming back!

Anyway. Ayres:
I wanted schools to announce that laptops, by default, should be used during class only for class-related activities unless the professor says otherwise.
What kind of attitude is that? Why do you need a rule that a prof has to override? Just have no rule and let the prof impose a rule if he wants! Are you such a candyass that you can't impose the rule on your own, that you need your preference to be the default because you don't want to take responsibility for it? Ha!

Let the default be freedom. Let the students take responsibility for their own behavior, and let the prof take responsibility for withdrawing freedom if that's what he wants to do.
I’m happy to report that Saul Levmore, the dean at the University of Chicago Law School has recently announced an end to classroom surfing...

In praising Levmore, I should be clear that there is no good a priori argument against multitasking....
Let's check to see if there is any reason not to limit what other people are allowed to do. What an attitude! Talk about default rules!
Law students are adults who generally can decide for themselves what is in their best interest — but...
But... let's control them anyway.

Ayres does at least notice at this point that he's being illiberal, so he shifts into blather about "negative externalities."
The laptop screen is a billboard that is very visible to other students sitting behind the gamer. Surfing and game playing in particular can be very distracting — both visually and in the signal they send to others that you don’t care about class.
You know, when I was a law student, birds tweeting outside the window would distract me. Students leaning their heads from one side to the other distracted me. The spittle in the corner of the teacher's lips distracted me. The prospect of lunch distracted me. But the world failed to adopt rules to clear away all these distractions. I figured out solutions on my own, like sitting in the first or second row and drawing elaborate doodles to stare at so I could listen better. I suppose my doodles were imposing negative externalities, very visible billboards that they were.

Back to Ayres:
Multitasking also makes students less present as participants in class discussion. Surfing doesn’t stop students from taking notes, but it degrades the quality of their attention.
Is that supposed to be a negative externality too? Good lord. Just ask some good questions, teacher. Be interesting. Say: "And that's exactly the sort of question I intend to put on the exam. In fact, I might put that very question on the exam."
In recent years, I’ve tried to balance student liberty with my negative externality concern by allowing surfing, but only in the back row of class. In the back row, at least, it isn’t a visual distraction.
In other words, there is a complete solution to the only real negative externality you've identified, the very visible billboard problem.

Ayres nevertheless continues:
I am tempted to ask students to collect data on how much surfing is actually going on (even when it is banned). I bet some readers will be upset with the idea of such monitoring. There is a growing sense of entitlement not just to surf but to keep your professor in the dark about whether you are surfing or not.
Yeah. And these readers are right. Mind your own business, lawprof. You don't come by at night to see if they are doing their homework. Do your own job, professors, and make it so that paying attention in class matters by making it affect the exam and the grades.
If the admission application simply asked students to check a box if they were willing to forgo classroom surfing, I imagine virtually all applicants would forgo their God-given right to play solitaire.
Ayres is a lawprof at Yale. If the application simply asked students to check a box if they were willing to allow their professor stop by their house and flog them for no good reason, I imagine virtually all Yale applicants would forgo their God-given right to be free of floggings.

Edwards endorses Obama.

Hot news.

"Terry McAuliffe's tour de force moment when he turned projectile nonsense into something approaching the sublime."

Josh Marshall loves this clip:

Are you in the mood to watch an HBO movie about the 2000 Florida recount?

Or are you troubled that the movie may be unfair to Democrats?
Warren Christopher, the former secretary of state who served as the public face of the Gore team in the early days of the recount effort, said this week that he believed the film, “Recount,” was “pure fiction” in its portrayal of him as a weak strategist unprepared to stand up to the aggressive tactics of James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state who was the chief Republican adviser.
Oh, look at the bright side, Warren. Democrats are just too darned kind-hearted to be evenly matched to those bastard Republicans.
Even Mr. Baker questioned the portrayal of Mr. Christopher. “I don’t think I was as ruthless as the movie portrays me, and I know he was not as wimpish as it makes him appear,” Mr. Baker said.
*adds "masculinity" tag*
“I think a lot of the strategizing in the script that I saw was somebody’s hindsight rather than what we had to deal with in the immediate aftermath of the election,” [said William M. Daley, Gore’s campaign chairman]. He added: “The perception that Warren Christopher was some wuss who got hoodwinked by Jim Baker is absolute fantasy in the mind of somebody who is trying to make themselves out to be bigger than they were.”...

“I was stunned by the [screenplay] excerpt,” [Warren Christopher] said in an interview. “Much of what the author has written about me is pure fiction. It contained events that never occurred, words I never spoke and decisions attributed to me that I never made.”
Oh, enough already. Deal with it. You don't hear James Baker bellyaching that they portrayed him as a big meanie, do you? Don't be such a .... wuss.

Hey, I'm really psyched about this movie. Here, watch the trailer.

"A goose was tapping on windows at the library on Audubon Parkway. The goose left."

The news from Erie, Pennsylvania, where maybe not that much happens.

"The NYT Should Embrace Their Inner Heroin Dealer."

Do you hear that, New York Times?

"Top 44 moments from the path to becoming #44."

I love this "highly biased, incomplete, and unfair list of classic moments from the 2008 presidential primaries." With lots of video links. Here's the one I keep coming back to when I want to laugh a lot:

ADDED: If you don't see why this video is so funny, you probably do terribly on this awareness test:

Thanks to all the commenters who kept up the conversation about the West Virginia primary long into the early morning hours.

I set up a post so you could talk while I went out to do a meetup with readers at The Wine Bar at 50 Henry Street. (You should go there if you like drinks and food nibbles.) Thanks for writing so much. Unfortunately, Blogger makes it hard to see the comments after the 200th one. (You have to click as if you were going to comment and then find the word "newer" and click on it.) So please continue the discussion here.

Thanks especially to Palladian, who was at the meetup and then joined the conversation late and way into the early morning hours. (And who gave me some wonderful Champlevé!) Palladian had a great response to something Zachary Paul Sire said:
"I'm not concerned about one tiny blip of a state filled with uneducated poor people."

And I'm not concerned about one crime-ridden blip of an inner city filled with uneducated poor black people.

How does that sentiment sound to you? Sounds like the insipid blurt of a racist asshole? Well it's no different than the sentiments you and the Obamatrons seem to endorse.

Well guess what? The majority of America isn't concerned about one large blip of any city filled with over-educated rich people.

No doubt you are one of the important educated rich people who you seem to think should control the lives of the rubes in flyover land. Well you've got a surprise coming to you, O superior being. It's people like you, and your superior messiah, that have been and will be the eternal losers in the United States. It's the people you mock and disdain as hillbillies and racists that die for your sorry, lazy, worthless little white ass.

Believe me, when Obama is defeated, either before or after the Democratic convention, your premature schadenfreude will seem even more pathetic than it already does.

You're going to lose. And that's a good thing.

Go Hillary!
And a special thanks to my son Christopher Althouse Cohen, who kept up the pro-Hillary side of the conversation, including this:
Let me just sum it all up by saying that, come Election Day in November, I will be watching CNN-HD, popping some popcorn, and laughing as McCain obliterates Obama faster than Hillary could respond to a nuclear attack against Israel.

"A panic about the situation of the African American male raised into a truculent paranoid theology."

Leon Wieseltier reads Jeremiah Wright:

Today in 1968, blogged.

I continue blogging the past, and today's year — picked by a random number generator — is:
The opening of the Paris peace talks

Bobby Kennedy winning the Indiana primary and yelling at some Nebraska students

Linda LeClair living with her boyfriend and upsetting the Barnard College alumnae

May 13, 2008

Primary night? Again?

Start the discussion without me. I've got to do something.

ADDED: Hi. I'm back. The blogger meetup was tonight. Didn't you know?

AND: The NYT says:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton won a lopsided victory on Tuesday over Senator Barack Obama in the West Virginia primary, where racial considerations emerged as an unusually salient factor. Mrs. Clinton drew strong support from white, working-class voters, who have spurned Mr. Obama in recent contests.
White. White. White. Race. Race. Race. Oh, you Democrats. You've really made a nice place for yourselves.
The number of white Democratic voters who said race had influenced their choices on Tuesday was among the highest recorded in voter surveys in the nomination fight. Two in 10 white West Virginia voters said race was an important factor in their votes. More than 8 in 10 who said it factored in their votes backed Mrs. Clinton, according to exit polls.
Ugh. Is the NYT painting it this way, or does HC's big victory deserve this downgrade?

UPDATE: There's a great comments thread inside, but since we've gone over 200 here, making the comments hard to see, please continue the conversation on this new thread that points back here.



(Or did that belong on The Me Blog?)

Is it a good or a bad sign when a university sees the need to hire a "Professor of Conservative Thought"?

This is the proposal for an endowment at the University of Colorado. Amusingly enough, the idea bugs liberals and conservatives:
"Why set aside money specifically for a conservative?" asks Curtis Bell, a teaching assistant in political science. "I'd rather see a quality academic than someone paid to have a particular perspective."...

[David] Horowitz fears that setting up a token right-winger as The Conservative at Boulder will brand the person as a curiosity, like "an animal in the zoo."...

"Like Margaret Mead among the Samoans, they're planning to study conservatives. That's hilarious," says [George] Will....

"Liberals, of all people, should avoid making the passive/active distinction [and] support the death penalty..."

... if it's really true — and it seems to be — that executions save lives. Jac explains:
If you're a liberal (in the sense in which "liberal" is used in modern-day America -- as Barack Obama put it, someone whose views on most issues "correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal"), then you can't believe that an omission -- a failure to act -- is morally excusable simply on the grounds of "Hey, I wasn't really 'doing' anything."

The thing is, if omissions were excusable, then there would be no moral force to drive liberal policies. If the government isn't culpable for the problems it fails to solve -- the things it lets happen -- then it doesn't make sense to make an impassioned moral appeal that the government must implement such-and-such a policy to end poverty, protect our children from pollution, etc. If you thought the government could be excused for the things it passively allows to occur with a glib dismissal -- "Look, that may be unfortunate, but it's not the government's responsibility" -- then you'd be a conservative, not a liberal.

Robert Rauschenberg has died.

Links to obituaries to follow.

Here's an old post of mine about him, from back in 2004:
Robert Rauschenberg answers some questions from Deborah Solomon in today's NYT:
Aren't you having another show now at Yale?

Yes. I am not happy with it. It was organized by the gay studies department, whatever that is. It's not an approach that makes sense. I refused to give them permission to reproduce the works in a catalog.
Hmmm.... a little more info would be nice! There's this description:
"Robert Rauschenberg: Gifts to Terry Van Brunt'' features about 40 pieces that Rauschenberg gave as presents to his former lover, Terry Van Brunt. ... Jonathan Katz, an associate professor at Yale who launched the gay and lesbian studies program there in 2002, organized the exhibit.

"Rauschenberg himself does not want the work talked about in a gay context,'' Katz said. "But I am not responsible to the artist's wishes. I am responsible to the work.''

The collection includes "Bob's Face With Fly,'' a self-portrait that shows a fly on Rauschenberg's face, and "Terry's Briefcase Piece,'' a briefcase that was painted and collaged. Katz believes the exhibit is important because it shows how Rauschenberg's personal life has shaped his work.
Meanwhile, back in the NYT interview, Rauschenberg is presenting himself as impersonally as possible. He speaks of painting from photographs. Asked “What sort of photographs do you prefer?,” he asserts that he “likes photographs of anything uninteresting. Maybe just two doors on a wall.” Asked “What is so great about the ordinary anyhow?, he answers, “I find the quietness in the ordinary much more satisfying." Asked if at 78, he thinks about dying, he says “No. Not at all” and tells a hackneyed anecdote about someone else. Asked why he left New York in 1970 to go live by the ocean in Florida, he alludes to a feeling of responsibility about “everybody … leaving their spouses,” then says a fortuneteller told him “it wasn't my fault but that I should go to sunshine and water” and he “was pleased with that.” He gives as the secret to happiness “enjoy[ing] something simple, like just looking at the ocean.”

ADDED: Here's the NYT obit — a very big one. Excerpt:
“Everyone was trying to give up European aesthetics,” he recalled, meaning Picasso, the Surrealists and Matisse. “That was the struggle, and it was reflected in the fear of collectors and critics. John Cage said that fear in life is the fear of change. If I may add to that: nothing can avoid changing. It’s the only thing you can count on. Because life doesn’t have any other possibility, everyone can be measured by his adaptability to change.”

Cage acquired a painting from the Betty Parsons show [in 1951]. Aside from that, Mr. Rauschenberg sold absolutely nothing. Grateful, he agreed to host Cage at his loft. As Mr. Rauschenberg liked to tell the story, the only place to sit was on a mattress. Cage started to itch. He called Mr. Rauschenberg afterward to tell him that his mattress must have bedbugs and that, as Cage was going away for a while, Mr. Rauschenberg could stay at his place. Mr. Rauschenberg accepted the offer. In return, he decided he would touch up the painting Cage had acquired, as a kind of thank you, painting it all-black, being in the midst of his new, all-black period. When Cage returned, he was not amused.

“We both thought, ‘Here was somebody crazier than I am,’ ” Mr. Rauschenberg recalled. In 1952 Mr. Rauschenberg switched to all-white paintings, which were, in retrospect, spiritually akin to Cage’s famous silent piece of music, during which a pianist sits for 4 minutes and 33 seconds at the keyboard without making a sound. Mr. Rauschenberg’s paintings, like the music, in a sense became both Rorschachs and backdrops for ambient, random events like passing shadows. “I always thought of the white paintings as being not passive but very — well, hypersensitive,” he told an interviewer in 1963. “So that people could look at them and almost see how many people were in the room by the shadows cast, or what time of day it was.”

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses..."

"... the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

So wrote Albert Einstein.
"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions," he said.

"And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people."

And he added: "As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

So if you've been using Einstein in your pro-God arguments: Time to revise.

1925 is today's year that blog forgot.

Blogging the past today, I note:
The question whether women can be jurors.

Playing jazz to the head-hunters.

Snakes found in Ireland.

"A Thrill of the Old Prussian Spirit" as Paul von Hindenburg takes the oath of office.

“Just wait ‘til we win like 80-20.”

80-20? Why not 90-10? This thing is doable!

Congress cracks down on flavored cigarettes to show it cares about children...

... and has to cut a swath around menthol to show it cares about black people.

Or... wait... is it supposed to show it cares about black people by helping them like smoking less? It's so hard to be a caring congressperson these days!

"Offered food before the interview, he declined saying he didn't want to line his stomach with grease before going out drinking."

Interview gaffes.
• Candidate answered cell phone and asked the interviewer to leave her own office because it was a "private" conversation.

• Applicant told the interviewer he wouldn't be able to stay with the job long because he thought he might get an inheritance if his uncle died - and his uncle wasn't "looking too good."...

• During a phone interview the candidate flushed the toilet while talking to hiring manager.

• The applicant took out a hair brush and brushed her hair.

The eternal anger of Bill O'Reilly.

NSFW. I love the extreme intensity of Bill losing it over a little phrase on the teleprompter he doesn't understand. By contrast, this is practically nothing.

"I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all...."

The Top 5 Pre-Death Monologues in Film. With video clips. Some you've seen — we've all seen the one quoted above — but maybe some you haven't, like — for me — this monumentally entertaining bit of bad movieness:

Whatever you do, don't say "maintain" to Mayor Bloomberg.

(Via Gawker.)

And let me just say that maybe this clip makes you think Mayor Bloomberg is nuts or at least unbalanced, but it makes me love him!

May 12, 2008

I announce my much deeper plunge into the life of blogging: The Time That Blog Forgot.

It's a new blog designed to make up for the terrible feeling of retrospective loss I feel for all the years when there was no blogging.

I'm assuming that the real blogging of news, culture, and politics began in 1998 — we can argue about that if you want — and this project will look to 100 years before 1998.

I've used a random integer generator to spit out my first 100 year numbers, and the date will always be today's date. I'll advance to a new random year each day. Today's blogging happens to be for May 12, 1974. I adopt the mindset I have when I look at the day's news to blog here on Althouse, but I look at the New York Times archive for the chosen date. I pick a few things to post about with exactly the sort of attitude that I have when I pick what to write about here.

I won't tell you all the years in advance, so there will be a lot of surprise to it, but just so you'll get the idea, tomorrow will be May 13, 1925, and Wednesday will be May 14, 1968.

So please come over and read The Time That Blog Forgot.

I get a letter from Barack Obama.

NOTE: I've re-uploaded the video, and this should work now.

Ron Paul supporters plan "an embarrassing public revolt against" McCain for the Republican Convention.

Says Andrew Malcolm (via Memeorandum). Interesting.

And here's Glenn Reynolds's review of Ron Paul's book "The Revolution: A Manifesto." The book is selling briskly on Amazon, where there is a "search inside the book" function. The book makes no mention of McCain.

"It’s 3 a.m. The telephone rings. Another public safety crisis. A woman with a pageboy haircut picks up the phone. And hangs up."

"'Something about life and death,' she yawns. 'Not lakes and trees.'"

David Blaska envisions the ad that would take down Dane County Executive Kathleen M. Falk, now that people in Madison are less keen on upscale enhancements and more concerned about safety. As Blaska puts it:
Against a backdrop of the degradation of our public spaces by chronic vagrancy, the murders of Joel Marino and Brittany Zimmermann — in their homes! — have taken the issue simultaneously to the ground zero of leftist downtown Madison and to the wider county government.
Yes, that sentence is atrociously written, but in its own way, it's an eloquent cry for help.

The spaniel-ears effect.


This is one of the things I might have been looking at here.

Man, is that dog — a rare clumber? — depressed or what?

A cigarette vending machine that can perceive whether you're old enough to smoke?

Can this thing work?
The Fujitaka company system compares facial characteristics including bone structure, sags and crow's feet against a record of more than 100,000 people....

The company says the system gets it right in nine out of ten cases. The remaining 10% would be sent to a "grey zone for baby-faced adults" where they would be asked to insert their driving licence or identification card.
Grey zone for baby-faced adults? Won't old-faced teens make it into the zone? By the way, a good way to prematurely age your skin is to smoke:
Few people realise that if they smoke, their faces will wrinkle ten years ahead of time and they are likely in middle age to end up with a face like a wrinkled walnut that would rival that of a bloodhound. Even fewer women are aware that smoking also weakens the connective tissue in their breasts and bottoms. Breasts are more likely to develop the spaniel-ears effect, and after even a few years of smoking, bottoms become soft and saggy, rather than pert and firm.
The spaniel-ears effect! That gives pause.

"I suddenly felt very dizzy, as if I were heavily drunk. I thought I was seriously ill, then I looked around and saw my colleagues felt the same way."

The earthquake in China.


UPDATE: Reports now say that 7,600 people are dead and 900 students are trapped inside a collapsed school.

Some of us like to think the Muslim world would love President Obama.

Edward N. Luttwak is here to disabuse you of that notion:
As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant....

His conversion [to Christianity]... was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress...

[Muslim law] prohibits punishment for any Muslim who kills any apostate, and effectively prohibits interference with such a killing.

At the very least, that would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.
I'd like to hear commentary on how accurate this horribly gloomy assessment is. I realize Obama can't inspire hope in everyone, especially in people who are themselves afraid of being killed for thinking anything new, but isn't there some hope that an Obama presidency would help advance ideas about freedom of religion?

ADDED: Jeb Koogler takes on Luttwak.

Does the U.N. have a duty to undertake a military intervention in Burma?

Matthew Lee explains the "responsibility to protect." Military intervention is the most extreme option, but there is a policy, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly that extends from the obligation to stop genocide.

ADDED: The Australian has an editorial "Tear Down Burma's Bamboo Curtain."

May 11, 2008

The Althousity of Hope.

The Althousity of Hope

Mad pride.

It's a movement.
While psychiatrists generally support the mad pride movement’s desire to speak openly, some have cautioned that a “pro choice” attitude toward medicine can have dire consequences.

“Would you be pro-choice with someone who has another brain disease, Alzheimer’s, who wants to walk outside in the snow without their shoes and socks?” said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Md.

Can we justify invading Burma on humanitarian grounds?

A NYT op-ed from January 17, 1990.

"I hate the Brooklyn Museum."

Wrote Palladian in the comments to yesterday's post with Lincoln and the nude slave.
They have wonderful collections ruined by ham-handed attempts at teaching political lessons. For Chrissakes, they have a gallery called the Herstory Gallery. Really.

Dear Brooklyn Museum: Stop using the objects in your wonderful collections as if they were "Wacky Experiments" in a children's science museum. These objects, for the most part, were not made for urban liberal didactic purposes. Show us the stuff in a beautiful and sympathetic way and shut the fuck up. You were already tiresome by the time you "stuck it to the man" with the "Sensation" exhibit in the late 90s. Now you're just embarrassing yourself. And disrespecting the wonderful art over which you, unfortunately, have stewardship.
Let me endorse that comment by posting 3 photos of quotes painted on the wall with PC good intentions:


Lessons on the wall of the Brooklyn Museum

Lessons on the wall of the Brooklyn Museum

But they don't just do PC women-and-minorities self-esteem boosting. They foster interest in art with some fabulous displays of nudity:



And part of the didacticism is letting the kids know that only rubes are bothered by naked bodies displayed in the high art format. Here's the text on the wall next to that last sculpture (Bacchante, by Frederick William MacMannies):


It's Mother's Day. Let's watch some mother movies.

I thought of "Mommie Dearest" and "Serial Mom."