January 3, 2009

Where hell is a hotel room....

... and the other people are Steven Spielberg, Andy Warhol, and Bianca Jagger.

"I'm not gay! I'm morose!"


Do you Twitter, or have you, like me, been avoiding it? I have, but now, if you want, you can follow me -- as they say. Frankly, I think it's weird to ask people to follow you. To me, it sounds like Jesus:
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
Or Gary Hart:
"Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored."
Messianic or inanely desirous of stalkers.

But the world has changed since 32 or 1987, and the real issue for me is whether Twittering is pointlessly duplicative of blogging. The easiest way to delve into that issue is to do it. So, I guess: Follow me.

ADDED: Jac points me to something he wrote on a Metafilter post:
Could someone please explain why anyone would use Twitter? It seems like basically a blog service but with a word limit that's so restrictive that it's awkward to do links. Or like IM without the spontaneity. Or like Facebook's status updates without Facebook. So, it's like a severely limited version of a bunch of other social media, with nothing extra to compensate? What's the point?
I'm just starting, but at this point, I think:

1. There's something fun about being limited to 140 characters. As you type, you see the number counting down. That makes it breezy and game-like, which pleases me.

2. Theoretically, you are answering the question "What are you doing?" I don't know if they kick you out if you use your 140 characters in some other way, but whether you stick to the question or not, there is the idea that you are not purporting to do anything more than saying what you are doing. Presumably, you Twitter because that seems nice.

3. A Facebook page has more information, and it is more of a stable location that represents you, even if you're good about posting "status updates," which I'm not. Twitter isolates your status updates, which looks kind of snazzy. Less is more.

4. On Facebook, people have to ask you to accept them as friends, and I've never accepted people I don't more or less know. (And I only IM a few people.) On Twitter, people can just start following you. There's something simple and friendly about that.

5. That anyone can follow you affects what you're willing to write. I'm interested to see what I will write under those conditions.

6. Twitter could be used interactively with blogging, in ways that I think I'll explore.

"Wikipedia's bureaucracy is distinctly, fearsomely awful."

"The site, which dictates the online reputation of countless living people and companies, itself operates by rules that are completely incomprehensible, determined by a self-appointed group of volunteer editors who can seldom stop arguing over obscurities to explain their ways to outsiders."

Wow. Jimmy Wales, ousted? By "Sue Gardner, a Gothy, spider-tattooed Canadian pop-culture expert who now runs the site"? Bizarre!

UPDATE: I get email that seems to be from Jimmy Wales:
Valleywag routinely prints absolutely false stories. There is absolutely no truth to this story - or most of the things in it.

The truth is that my reappointment to the board, quite routine and unanimous, was publicly announced a week ago. Sue Gardner and I have an excellent working relationship, like, really really excellent.

It's a little alarming that anyone reads it at all. I would file a libel suit agianst them, except, well, you're a law professor so you know the difficulties of that.
People send fake email too. What do I know? The address looks Wikipediaish, and yet when I Google it, I get nothing. When I Google my own email addresses, something always comes up. I don't want the real Jimmy Wales emailing me about absolutely fake email addresses.... and not threatening lawsuits... etc.etc...

UPDATE 2: Jimmy Wales emails: "Please don't quote me." Well, that's rich! Why email me other than to seek a correction? In blogging, we don't take things down. We just continue the flow. This isn't Wikipedia.... The hell!

"The real problem with literary types is..."

"... that the painstakingly detailed analysis of relationships required to understand or even to produce top notch novels can't be turned off when applied to one's spouse, or one's children. Even though you have to tell yourself they are not the same thing. One is an abstract, parallel world, where the rules are similar, but not the same. If a human being has a port wine stain on his forehead, it is a random accident of birth, but if you put one on a character in a novel, either you are a rank amateur, or the stain means something like 'mark of Cain,' etc. Or, to use Chekov's example, if you walk into somebody's house in real life, and they have a gun displayed on the wall, there is no guarantee that it is going to go off an kill somebody you know in the course of your relationship with the person, but in a novel, if there is a gun on the wall, it is going to go off and is going to affect somebody somehow."

Said Barlycorn, John, commenting on a post written by my son John and hitting me — the ex-wife of a novelist — way too close to home.

Scroll up to the post for a great Bertrand Russell quote about the happiness of the man of science.

So Harry Reid pressured Blagojevich not to appoint Jesse Jackson, Jr. — AKA "Candidate 5."

This happened before Blago's arrest. According to the Chicago Tribune. The reason — which does not make Reid look bad — is that Reid didn't think Jackson could win in a statewide election. It's that whole statewide election problem that seems to account for the lack of black Senators (when there are plenty of blacks in the House of Representatives).

But Blagojevich felt pressured to appoint a black person to Barack Obama's seat. It's one thing when only white candidates win those statewide elections, quite another for a Governor with the appointment power to pass over all the most prominent black politicians in his party.

The structural problem is obvious. Congressional districts are drawn to increase the power of black voters, with majority minority districts, and then the district is won by a black politician who designs his policies to appeal most strongly to these voters. In 2001, the radical Bobby Rush trounced Barack Obama in a congressional primary race:
Mr. Rush won the primary with 61.02 percent of the vote; Mr. Obama had just over 30 percent. Mr. Obama was favored by whites but lost among blacks, Mr. Lester said. Looking back, some say the magnitude of the loss reflected Mr. Obama’s failure to connect with black, working-class voters. Mr. Mikva said, “It indicated that he had not made his mark in the African-American community and didn’t particularly have a style that resonated there.”
Obama — the black politician who is atypically popular with white voters — was able to move directly to the Senate, bypassing the House. But the House has plenty of black representatives who, despite their accomplishments, can't move up to the Senate — at least not without a boost from a Governor with an empty seat to fill. And that Governor is pressured by his party not to put the black congresssman in the slot because he'll be too easy to defeat in the next statewide election. Ironically, what was supposed to increase the number of blacks in Congress works to keep them in the House.

I'm beginning to feel that Jackson was ripped off. Wasn't he the natural choice for the seat?


Meanwhile, over at the Chicago-Sun Times, Roland Burris said "We are the senator."
"There is no confrontation here, there is no antagonism here," Burris said in a phone interview from Chicago. "And so we are proceeding very diplomatically, and we are proceeding with all concern about not creating any type of circus that will entertain the media."
A circus? Will there be clowns???

We were talking about khat, and Kev said...

"I thought khat-blogging had kind of gone out of style lately."

I thought I'd do a post with a LOLcat, saying something on this theme, so I went to Flickr to find a picture of a cat, and I got pleasantly distracted by this comment on the photograph that I blogged yesterday. Screen grab:

See? The commenter — jjmadison — has a cat face avatar and his comment — "wow, all that on two packs of Splenda??" — continues the drug theme. Ah! My drug of choice is synchronicity. I'm high on it now. I'm even singing: Oh! Oh! Oh!

Not really, but I do have to shout above the din of my Rice Krispies.

Now, somewhat giddy, I do still want to make that LOLcat, and I search my Flickr photographs for "cat." But I haven't been good about labels over there, and the collection of "cat"-labeled photos seems a bit absurd. There's a latte with a foam cat face. A picture of a poster that says "Don't Shoot the Cat." There's the very young me with a cat and my same-age son with a cat:

Me with an unknown cat Chris and Ramona

[ADDED: Yes, Chris is holding a "Hilter cat" and we were just talking about Facebook groups like "G-D BLESS HITLER," but stay away from the Nazi synchronicity. The brown-shirt acid that is circulating around us is not specifically too good.]

There are the pages from my Amsterdam sketchbook about the Cat Museum — the Katten Kabinet. There are some bat orts.

Most absurd, there is a set of LOLcats, made from photos taken of paused — pawsed — frames from the movie "La Dolce Vita."

What was that all about? Don't you remember back on August 11, 2007, when TRex said "Every time I look in over [at Althouse], something so weird is going on that I feel like I just bumbled on to the set of a Fellini film," and I was all:

"Im in ur hair/Lickin ur i"
"Im ur soul/gettin outta heer"
"Ur head/my roller coaster"
"Im ur/windsheeled wipurrz"
But these Rice Krispies were enough, and I don't want an egg at this hour. So I look to you, dear readers, to pick up Kev's khat-blogging theme and make some LOLcats. You can make them here, and you can email them to me at annalthouse (at) gmail (dot) com.

I'd love to pass out some of the Althouse blog drugs: frontpaging and tags.

And I'm hoping TRex will bumble over here and see that something weird is going on. And also that something crawls from the slime at the bottom of a dark Scottish lake.

UPDATE: From Lem:

AND: From Zachary Paul Sire:

AND: From Palladian:

From Kev (who started all this):

"I Wonder How Quickly I Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Support Israel."

That's the name of a Facebook group that I just got an invitation to join. I click over:

Though this may appear to be a violation of the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech), we have learned it is not. The Bill of Rights only applies to the Government, and entails that the Government cannot obstruct with the rights of the people. Facebook is a private company, and not owned, funded, or operated by the Government; thus the Freedom of Speech law does not apply for them. The rules for Facebook are made by it's creators, and listed in the Terms of Use page. There, on the fourth bullet point under the User Conduct section, it clearly states that no Facebook user can "upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable."
Sorry. My free speech values extend a lot farther than what's protected by the First Amendment. And I think Facebook's Terms of Use are horrifyingly restrictive. Censoring everything "hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable"? Ridiculous! I'd rather join a Facebook group called "Facebook's Terms of Use Are an Affront to Free Speech."

P.S. I support Israel.

"The political ground is already shifting under Big Labor's card-check initiative."

"The unions poured unprecedented money and manpower into getting Democrats elected; their payoff was supposed to be a bill that would allow them to intimidate more workers into joining unions."
Paradoxically, it's [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid's bigger majority that is now hurting him. In 2007, he got every Democrat (save South Dakota's Tim Johnson, who was out sick) to vote for cloture. But it was an easy vote. Democrats like Mr. Pryor knew the GOP held the filibuster, and that Mr. Bush stood ready with a veto. Now that Mr. Reid has 58 seats, red-state Democrats in particular are worried they might actually have to pass this turkey, infuriating voters and businesses back home.
I love this. The Democrats must now take responsibility for the things they've been promoting.
If Al Franken pulls out a win in Minnesota, Mr. Reid might be inspired to use his 59 votes to forge ahead. Some House Democrats are also suggesting union intimidation would in fact "stimulate" the economy, and that the legislation ought to be attached to the upcoming spending package.
I hope Al Franken does win — precisely and paradoxically because I want brakes on Congress. So that happened because a comedian — did he really win his election? — voted for it? The Senate Democrats will have to worry that's what we'll say about their bad legislation. So maybe they'll see the importance of looking like competent adults and exercise restraint. You know, they already have the problem of looking like clowns — there's the Blago-Burris nonsense and the prospect Caroline Kennedy. If a comedian arrives the fear of looking like clowns should kick into high gear. That fear gives me hope.

"It is a very touchy subject. Some people see it like a drug; some people see it like coffee."

"You have to understand our background and understand the significance of it in our community."

So says Abdulaziz Kamus, president of the African Resource Center, about khat — a substance that is illegal in the United States legal and popular in East Africa and the Arabian peninsula.

Now, I don't much understand the background and the significance of khat in the community Kamus is talking about, but I understand a lot about the background and community of the United States and its media, so my observation is about the L.A. Times article at the link. I can see what they are up to. They are reframing a drug problem in terms of multiculturalism.

Look at how this article begins with a cozy colorful picture set in "Washington" (which I presume means Washington, D.C., since the 4th paragraph contains the phrase "in cities such as Washington and San Diego"):
In the heart of the Ethiopian community here, a group of friends gathered after work in an office to chew on dried khat leaves before going home to their wives and children. Sweet tea and sodas stood on a circular wooden table between green mounds of the plant, a mild narcotic grown in the Horn of Africa.

As the sky grew darker the conversation became increasingly heated, flipping from religion to jobs to local politics. Suddenly, one of the men paused and turned in his chair. "See, it is the green leaf," he said, explaining the unusually animated discussion as he pinched a few more leaves together and tossed them into his mouth.

For centuries the "flower of paradise" has been used legally in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as a stimulant and social tonic.
See? It's a charming culture. You're not supposed to notice that you could mobilize your writing skills and do PR for any recreational drug like this. You're not supposed to notice that the actual scene is nothing more than some men lolling about having a drug-fueled argument.
But in the United States khat is illegal, and an increased demand for the plant in cities such as Washington and San Diego is leading to stepped up law enforcement efforts and escalating clashes between narcotics officers and immigrants who defend their use of khat as a time-honored tradition....

Increased immigration from countries such as Ethiopia, Yemen and Somalia has fueled the demand in this country and led to a cultural conflict.

"We grew up this way, you can't just cut it off," said a 35-year-old Ethiopian medical technician between mouthfuls of khat as he sat with his friends in the office....
"In my mind, [the arrests are] wrong," said an Ethiopian-born cabdriver who was arrested in November in a Washington, D.C., khat bust and spoke on condition of anonymity. "They act like they know more about khat than I know."
I admit I don't know about your culture's drug, but I know my culture's drug, multiculturalism. The L.A. Times is dealing it here. It is not a stimulant. It is a depressant: It numbs judgment.

So let me pour another cup of coffee and say that I do not want my medical technicians doing drugs in the office and I don't want my cabbie high.

January 2, 2009

Times are hard... for philosophers...

"The scuttlebutt among APA's roughly 550 job-seekers was that more than 10 percent of 300-plus advertised positions may have been canceled. Morris, in his second year in the philosophy job market and handsomely outfitted in suit and ponytail, remained upbeat, even playful. 'I'm single, good-looking, athletic, 6-4, my phone number is....' he joked into a reporter's tape recorder. Asked where he'd be willing to go to teach philosophy, he replied, 'Anywhere on the planet. Anywhere at all. Whether or not I get paid. To tell you the truth,' he quickly added, 'the only thing that could push me out of philosophy is the student loans I've accrued.'"

Philosophers should be people who think especially well, but to have decided upon a career in philosophy marks you as irrational. How do you deal with that raging incoherence?

(Link via A&L Daily.)

AND: Glenn Reynolds wonders if I'm being fair: "You might rationally decide you want to be a philosopher even if the job prospects are poor. But if you do so decide, then it’s irrational to complain about a poor job market, I guess."

I agree that it may be rational for an individual to choose to go into philosophy, despite the poor economic prospects. In the comments, OSweet, noting Morris's "Whether or not I get paid...," scoffed: "Yeah, right." That made me say:
Actually, I think there are many people who would teach philosophy without getting paid. (Socrates did this.)

In fact, I think if the job of philosophy professor were put up for an auction, limited to people who could do it competently, that you could get people to pay for the privilege of teaching good students and a good college. I'll bet there are many people who continue teaching philosophy when they could retire and make more money collecting their pensions.
I still have to doubt that our best thinkers are choosing to become philosophers. I know that makes me like the kind of jerk who would say "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" And I really do think that people ought to do work that they are intrinsically interested in.

Also, I said "a career in philosophy marks you as irrational." You could be marked as irrational and yet not be irrational, since other people may look at you and think you've made an irrational choice. You may still have your reasons.

Still, you've got to doubt that the 550 job seekers referred to in the article are really the people that should be doing the work of philosophy if philosophy is going to matter very much. That said, I hope they find their jobs, and 550 applicants for 270 jobs isn't all that terrible. Close to 50-50 odds. So good luck. And remember, you can always go to law school, and philosophy makes a great background for law study.

"Judge Wilkinson compares District of Columbia v. Heller to Roe v. Wade in four respects..."

"...'an absence of a commitment to textualism; a willingness to embark on a complex endeavor that will require fine-tuning over many years of litigation; a failure to respect legislative judgments; and a rejection of principles of federalism.'"

Sounds apt.

If the U.S. ever breaks up...

... do you think it will break up this way?

"A spokeswoman for Obama said the president-elect would probably not attend any of the Leather Weekend events."

Probably not ... probably... oh, the strange hopes and dreams that linger in that word: probably.

"My Day, Yesterday," a Flickr project.

Here's Delphine Gimbert's entry, a long photograph of her day, beautifully shot, but without embellishments:

And here's the "My Day, Yesterday" pool. And here's the Metafilter post that led me there.

Sarah Palin is the frontrunner for 2012.

Say the odds-makers.

Hot Air comments:
Barring a catastrophic first term, The One will be heavily favored for reelection, leading young’uns like Jindal and Palin to bow out and bide their time until 2016.... Mitt might run since he’d be 69 and facing a crowded, charismatic field in 2016, but unless he stands a real chance to win, I figure he’ll pass too in the interest of avoiding further expense and aggravation. Result: A Huckabee-Pawlenty snoozefest....
I think it's impossible to make much of a prediction this far out, but I certainly hope Obama does well. Not too well. Unlike many people who voted for Obama, I dislike change.

(Ugh. Just added the "2012 campaign" tag. Made a mental note to use it sparingly this year.)

The Lex Luthor Award for Best Caper of 2008.

The voting continues until January 7th, but this looks like the winner:
In September, a robber disguised as a gardener pepper-sprayed an armored car driver using a pesticide sprayer and ran off with a bag stuffed with $400,000 in cash. When police arrived seconds later, they found the sidewalk crowded with dozens of men decked out in the same attire as the perp: blue shirt, Day-Glo vest, safety mask and glasses. While the cops hacked through a forest of suspects, the real perp fled to a nearby creek and escaped in a waiting inner tube.

Turns out the unwitting decoys had been lured to the crime scene by a Craigslist ad that promised construction work to those showing up in a "yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask … and, if possible, a blue shirt." A month later, following a lead from a homeless man who witnessed the preparation for the Brinks job, police arrested 28-year-old Anthony Curcio fresh from a Las Vegas vacation. Curcio is now charged with "Interference with commerce by threats or violence," because "Pulling the most awesome robbery ever" isn't listed in the U.S. code.
If possible, a blue shirt.... Isn't that "if possible" the detail that made it seem legit?

"Virgin conception would be more plausible if Mary was a man."

"Could testicular feminisation offer an explanation for the mystery of Jesus Christ's virgin birth, wonders Aarathi Prasad."

What are you wondering about?

If it were true that "'40 to 45 percent of body heat' is lost through the head," then going out without a hat would make you as cold as...

... going out without your pants.
This myth probably originated with an old military study in which scientists put subjects in arctic survival suits (but no hats) and measured their heat loss in extremely cold temperatures. Because it was the only part of the subjects’ bodies that was exposed to the cold, they lost the most heat through their heads. Experts say, however, that had this experiment been performed with subjects wearing only swimsuits, they would not have lost more than 10% of their body heat through their heads.
Now, now... if we're going to be scientific, we'll need to factor in the cold stares you get when you go out without your pants. I mean, take off the swimsuits! Accuracy will require nudity.

That link is from from a 2 part article debunking myths — here's part 2 — that was just linked on Freakonomics.

By the way, it was 19° here in Madison yesterday — the same temperature it was on New Year's Eve in New York City when Ryan Seacrest was whining about the cold while wearing a hugely puffy down jacket and earmuffs — and I saw a young man on State Street who was wearing only a T-shirt, shorts, and moccasins. Not even socks. He wasn't shivering or huddling against the cold, just walking along briskly, talking with his friends. 

I see guys like that all the time in Madison, and my theory is that — like people who sleep naked — they just don't want their limbs encumbered in the slightest, and they are walking from one indoor place to another and willing to put up with a little discomfort during the relocation.

"Lots of folks are wearing those 2009 glasses, and I suddenly realize that this is the last year for the 00 glasses."

"You'll have to wait until the year 3000 to wear glasses like that. Will we even have eyes in 3000?"

I wrote that at 10:08 in the New Year's Eve live-blog.

In the comments, just an hour ago, Peter Hoh wrote: "Someone else noticed the 200X glasses issue." He links here. Ha ha.

That reminds me, Chris explained why I was wrong. Let me illustrate:

Sketch for 2010 Glasses

"Burris will not be allowed on the Senate floor, according to this aide and a Senate Democratic leadership aide."

"The aide familiar with Senate Democratic leaders' plans said if Burris tries to enter the Senate chamber, the Senate doorkeeper will stop Burris. If Burris were to persist, either trying to force his way onto the Senate floor or refusing to leave and causing a scene, U.S. Capitol Police would stop him, said the aide. 'They (police) probably won't arrest him" but they would call the sergeant-at-arms,' the aide said."

So at at time when there isn't a single black person in the U.S. Senate, a black man arrives at the doorway and means to go forward to take what he believes is his rightful seat...

Great imagery, Democrats!

The funniest thing is, we thought Kathy Griffin was talking to Anderson Cooper when she said that.

We were watching CNN live on New Year's Eve, and we laughed a lot when Kathy Griffin said — with plausible thought-we-went-to-commercial deniability:
"Screw you. Why don't you get a job, buddy? You know what? I don't go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth."
Now, I see that it was — or they're saying it was — a comeback to a heckler.

Griffin is as master at getting big publicity by — simultaneously — scandalizing the squares and delighting her fans. We all remember "Suck it, Jesus."

AND: Which New Year's Eve TV experience was more painful?

Not really the last café either....


... but it feels that way.


6 reasons why nobody's making catty comments about the way Caroline Kennedy looks.

Just after midnight, I noted the question, asked here, with this photo:

This morning, I awoke with a list of answers:

1. Because we respect her sadness — her beautiful family, all gone.

2. Because we are awed by the grandeur expressed in the lack of need to doll herself up. Have you ever heard the expression "WASP makeup"? I read it, perhaps in Vogue, in the 1970s. Do you know what WASP makeup is? Lipstick. It is we lesser women who see a need for more than a swipe of dull pink lipstick.

3. Because her wrinkled skin means a life lived, and we don't know exactly how this enigma lived. Did she loll about in the sun? Did she chain-smoke? Did she take drugs? Did she anguish?

4. Because if that's what 51 looks like, then don't we look young? We have an interest in perceiving her as the norm.

5. Because she's so thin. Thinness immunizes you from all sorts of criticisms about wrinkly skin and absence of glamour.

6. Glamour? There is no greater glamour than to be Caroline Kennedy. You can't layer glamour on top of glamour.

Not the last café in Madison.


Blago has a vortex?

Now, I'm jealous.

An academic conference about sex at academic conferences.

Yeah, I know it sounds like the the theme of novel that should have been written in the 1980s if it was going to be written at all, but there really was this conference. This week, in San Francisco, Modern Language Association.
Jennifer Drouin, an assistant professor of English and women’s studies at Allegheny College, argued that there are eight forms of conference sex...:
  1. “Conference quickies” for gay male scholars to meet gay men at local bars.
  2. “Down low” sex by closeted academics....
  3. “Bi-curious” experimentation by “nerdy academics trying to be more hip” (at least at the MLA, where queer studies is hip)....
  4. The “conference sex get out of jail free” card that attendees (figuratively) trade with academic partners, permitting each to be free at their respective meetings....
  5. “Ongoing flirtations over a series of conferences, possibly over several years” that turn into conference sex....
  6. “Conference sex as social networking”...
  7. “Career building sex,” which generally crosses lines of academic rank....
  8. And last but not least — and this was the surprise of the list: “monogamous sex among academic couples.” Drouin noted that the academic job market is so tight these days that many academics can’t live in the same cities with their partners. While many colleges try to help dual career couples, this isn’t always possible, and is particularly difficult for gay and lesbian couples, since not every college will even take their couple status seriously enough to try to find jobs for partners. So these long distance academic couples, gay and straight, tenured and adjuncts, must take the best academic positions they can, and unite at academic conferences. “The very fucked-upness of the profession leads to conference fucking,” Drouin said.
Okay, so we are doing lists. Here's mine:

1. Sex at conferences. Do you have sex at conferences?

2. The AALS — Association of American Law Schools Conference — is next week. Are you going? To have sex?

3. Have you ever had "career-building sex"? Why wasn't there a category for career-destroying sex?

4. Why all this positivity about sex, especially from English professors? In novels, sex — more than the fucked-upness of any profession — is always destroying characters. Don't these jokers think the world owes them a living for reading novels? Why don't they sound like people who've plunged deeply into the lives of fictional characters? (I used to want to write a novel called "My Life as a Fictional Character" — based on being married to a novelist.)

5. Doesn't it seem as though the MLA is trying too hard to be hip? An academic conference about sex at academic conferences? It's like a coffee table book about coffee tables. Hip or hipster doofus? I know I don't want it! I don't need you to tell me what I don't want, you stupid hipster doofus!

6. Now, go, go, go have sex at your sex at conferences conference, and when you come home, I won't be here anymore....

Karl Rove... "The wounds I received I got in a job I love."

I see that quote in the WSJ's email teaser for a Karl Rove column and click over thinking maybe this will be Karl's musings on all the hate that's been aimed at him over the years. It's not:
During my White House years, I came to know of the heroic actions of the Seals and other special operators in the global war on terror. These men willingly follow evil into dark and perilous places. They volunteered to be on the front edge of the conflict whose outcome will shape this century....

I met [a Seal who had] been shot eight times in Iraq and had undergone nearly two-dozen operations. One bullet had taken off part of his cheek and nose. He was destined for reconstructive surgery in a few days.

Yet he didn't feel sorry for himself. He was full of charisma, confidence, cockiness and joy. After all, he confided, when you're a wounded Seal, the world's best doctors want to operate on you so they can brag about it. Besides, he explained, he was just showing that a Seal really could catch bullets with his teeth....

The next day, I got an email from the retired Navy Seal buddy who'd talked me into speaking at NSWF. He shared a picture of the sign the wounded Seal put on his Baghdad hospital door.

On it, the Seal had scrawled that visitors shouldn't "feel sorry" for him. "The wounds I received," he wrote, "I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough." And on his sign he promised "a full recovery" and wrote that his hospital room was a place of "fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, GO ELSEWHERE." He signed it "The Management."
IN THE COMMENTS: knox said:
There's a wealth of material in the stories of our special forces. Too bad Hollywood ignores them all... there's got to be hundreds of great action/war movies just begging to be made.
Pogo said:
Well, at least we have a good movie about gay rights and other one about/not about pederasty, plus a Hitler movie and a Nixon movie (not the same film, BTW).
Larry J said:
My SEAL story is from October 1975 when I was in Jump School. SEALs go to Jump School after their much tougher UDT training. To them, Jump School is a vacation.

I heard a lot of commotion when falling out for noon formation one day. From what I was told, one of our SEAL students had just jumped from a 3rd story window, did a parachute landing fall, and entered formation saying, "This shit bores me."

I didn't see it happen so I can't swear it's true but it would be typical of SEALs. They're genuine bad-asses not to be messed with.

Why aren't we talking about how Caroline Kennedy looks?

Noticing the absence of the usual catty talk.
What with all the time spent this year by women and journalists and everyone else obsessing over Sarah Palin's looks and lipsticks and wardrobe, it's hard to believe the absolute dearth of women journalists obsessing over Caroline Kennedy's physical appearance, makeup choices, and hairstyles. Why are her highlights not front-page news?...

.... Caroline was routinely compared to her famously svelte mother, and as a result her self-esteem plummeted. In a fit of pique that bordered on the bizarre, she shaved off one eyebrow. "My face," she offered by way of explanation, "is too symmetrical."

UPDATE: I have 6 answers to the question why we aren't talking about how Caroline Kennedy looks.

"Look seans an old friend of mine and i didnt buy his performance at all..."

“... thought he did an average pretend acting like he was gay besides hes one of the most homophobic people i kno"

Mickey Rourke, lusting for the Oscar, texts about Sean Penn.

ADDED: You know, if I wanted to argue that the movie "Milk" is homophobic, I could think of a good 6 points.

January 1, 2009

Roland Burris's monument...

... to himself.

AND: For comparison, check out the Howard Stern headstone. They had a "Secret Santa" thing on the radio show, and the guy that got Stern's name gave him that headstone with his picture on it. Hilarious! Howard did not like the gift at all and kept saying that he did not want to contemplate his own mortality.

"Typical Althouse blog thread."

As conceived by Michael H.

Funny, but I'm sure funnier ones could be written.

Things we drank.



"A woman called at 10 p.m. from the 11000 block of Mooney Flat Road to report a person was causing an argument and throwing cheese in her eye."

"A man at the house also called. He sounded as if he had been drinking, and he said a woman was throwing cheese all over the house and his wife was acting 'nutso.' The man said the fight was not physical, but a woman could be heard in the background saying, 'yes.' A deputy determined the fight was not physical. No arrests were made."

Don't you love the old "police blotter" feature in newspapers?

The Kit-Cat Clock brings out the Proust in Bird Dog.

A black plastic cat pricks the memories of a man who's named himself after a dog.
I see my room, the window, my bookshelf-turned-rock-and-fossil collection, the Revolutionary War prints on the wall, my little desk and chair with my chemistry set in one of the drawers, my first precious little transistor radio, the big aquarium set up with rocks and sand for my various lizards, and my bed that I hid my forbidden Mad Magazines beneath to read with a flashlight after lights-out....

Don't you want a Kit-Cat Clock?

If you do, support the Althouse blog on New Year's by using this link.

Why social conservatives should not argue — as Dennis Prager does — that a woman should have sex with her husband whether she's in the mood or not.

And by "social conservatives," I mean, specifically, persons who oppose homosexual relationships or, at least, same-sex marriage.

Here's Dennis Prager's much-mocked Townhall column. He says things like "Why would a loving, wise woman allow mood to determine whether or not she will give her husband one of the most important expressions of love she can show him?"

Prager's position throws away the most persuasive argument that marriage, limited to the relationship between a man and a woman, is the basis of civilization.

Do you see my point? I'll elaborate later, but I would like you to think about it on your own before I explain what, in my view, is obvious.

LATER: Okay, here's my point. Prager sees the differential sex drive of males and females as a problem that should be solved by wives going along with sex even when they are not in the mood. But why do social conservatives see heterosexual marriage as the foundation of civilization? I thought their idea was that various male urges were controlled and sublimated through marriage to females. There is a civilizing effect — I think the theory goes — as the natural impulses pressure a man to do what he can to impress and please the woman. This process is undermined if the woman simply accedes to his sexual impulses. The pressure must be kept up. The man should be required to understand the woman and figure out how to do things that will make her desire sex with him. Or he can sublimate his urges, and pour his energy into great architectural and scientific achievements and the like.

So Prager should not want sex to become more efficient and more in line with the male biological drive. If that is the goal, he ought also to favor sex between 2 men. Homosexual sex is a solution to the problem he identifies. It should be favored. To remain socially conservative, it is necessary to honor the female fussiness about sexual intercourse, because it inspires the male to work harder and to acquire greater self-control. This is the reason for thinking of heterosexual marriage as the foundation of civilization.

Note: I'm not a social conservative, and I support same-sex marriage. I just want to clear away some of the obfuscation about marriage and this often odd-sounding notion of "defending" it. Something important happens when men and women get together. I don't think that means same-sex couples should be disrespected any more than I think it's wrong to remain single.

Film dead, 2008.

The Senate has the power to exclude Roland Burris, say lawprofs Akhil Reed Amar and Josh Chafetz.

They look at Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution — which makes each house of Congress "the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own members" — and find a power to judge the Blagojevich appointment:
At the founding, Senators were elected by state legislatures. If the Senate believed that legislators in a given state had been bribed into voting for a particular candidate, the Senate could refuse to seat him.

Because of the word "returns" in Section 5, what is true of elected Senators is equally true of appointed Senators. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a "Return" in the time of the framers involved a report of an appointment made by a sheriff or other official. If the Senate may refuse to seat a person picked in a corrupt election, it likewise may refuse to seat a person picked in a corrupt appointment process.
Amar and Chafetz need to deal with Powell v. McCormack, in which the Supreme Court said that the House did not have the power under Article I, Section 5 to refuse to seat Adam Clayton Powell. That case focuses on judging "qualifications," and the Court said that only relates to the qualifications specified in the Constitution — age, citizenship, and residency. Beyond those 3 qualifications, the people had the power to choose the representative they wanted. But Powell was clearly the people's choice, so what do you do with Powell when the governor appoints the new member? For an accurate analogy for the Burris appointment, imagine if the problem with Powell hadn't been that the members of Congress thought he was corrupt, but that they thought there had been a fraud in the election.

Now, the Powell case was about whether Powell could use the courts to override the decision to exclude him. The argument on the other side was that the House had the final call about the scope of the power to judge the qualifications of their own members. In that view, which the Court rejected, a vote to exclude already embodied the constitutional interpretation that they had the power. Our current discussion of the question of the scope of the power to exclude Burris will affect how the Senators think about the scope of their power, and articles like Amar and Chafetz's should embolden the Senators, and they may vote to exclude him. If that happens, Burris may sue in federal court, and then the court will have to decide whether the Senators' assessment of their own power is the final answer about the meaning of the Constitution.

But doubts about the scope of the Senate's power to look into the circumstances of the appointment may give the Senators pause. The vote to exclude Burris may fail — because of these constitutional doubts and for other reasons. If that happens, Burris will be seated and there will be no occasion for a court to discuss the scope of the exclusion power.

To be sure, there are plenty of other reasons to seat Burris. For one thing, if we rely on the theory that the Senators have the power to exclude him because the appointment process was corrupt, they will need to go through some sort of factfinding process. Blagojevich faces his criminal trial, but he is the duly elected governor of Illinois, with the power to appoint the Senator. What sort of parallel process in the Senate will be needed to make the exclusion legitimate?
In this context, the Senate itself is a judge, in the words of the Constitution, and can decide facts for itself. It need not follow the rules of criminal courts. That means it need not find Blagojevich guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as a court would if his liberty were in jeopardy. It is enough for the Senate to reject Blagojevich's appointee if a majority of senators are firmly convinced that Blagojevich is corrupt and that any nomination he might make is inherently tainted by such corruption.
If the Senators exclude Burris because they simply feel quite certain the appointment is tainted and not because they've gone through some impressive and fair factfinding, when — if — Burris goes to court to override their decision, Burris's argument about the scope of the power to exclude will look much more appealing. The Senate will need to argue that the court should defer, but the court will think less of this notion of deference if the process to be deferred to is not very impressive. Amar and Chafetz recognize this reality of litigation:
To make sure its ruling sticks, the Senate should follow its own procedures with due deliberation. Burris' case can be referred to a committee for careful review. He need not be seated while this committee does its work, and it will be very hard for Burris to persuade any federal judge to interfere in the meantime, especially if Senate Democrats and Republicans unite. With any luck, Blagojevich will be out of office soon enough and a new appointments process (or a special election) can begin that would supersede the attempted Burris appointment.
The delay itself is effective, but it does mire the Senate in an investigation of the Democratic governor. The argument will be made that the effort to exclude is more of a power grab than the governor's attempt to fulfill what is, after all, a duty of his office. Should the Senate Democrats want that? What a nasty preoccupation for Congress at what should be the fresh beginning of a new administration!

Amar and Chafetz make a good argument about the power to exclude but in doing so, they expose the political disaster it would be to vote to exclude.

ADDED: Lawprof Sandy Levinson puts it well:
I don't see how one can mount a good-faith argument against seating Burris unless one is willing to open each and every gubernatorial appointment to some kind of "good-government" scrutiny....

Should the motives of Gov. Patterson [sic] be subjected to relentless scrutiny if he bows to pressure to name Caroline Kennedy as a tribute to a dying senator and, in addition, to get access to the Bloomberg and Kennedy donor list that presumably comes with that appointment?

Should Governor Paterson choose a caretaker Senator?

There's a new election for the Hillary Clinton Senate seat in 2010 (and then again in 2012), so why not let that field of candidates develop in a naturally competitive fashion by putting someone there now who will perform the function in a dignified, statesmanlike way?

Some are suggesting Bill Clinton or Mario Cuomo, but — even if one of them would do it – there's an obvious problem: Shouldn't a woman replace Hillary? There are some senior, statesmanlike women in New York, and I don't mean Caroline Kennedy.
The caretaker option was exercised last month by Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who picked a former aide to Vice President-elect Joe Biden to succeed him in the Senate until a new senator is elected in 2010. By then, Biden's son, state Attorney General Beau Biden, will have returned from a tour in Iraq with the National Guard — just in time to run for his father's seat.
Caroline Kennedy is in the Beau Biden category. I know he's delayed by his trip to Iraq, but aside from that, he wouldn't be properly respected if he didn't run for office. Let Caroline prove her stuff in a real competition for office. Perhaps she won't even try, if she's put that test. Deciding whether to run in a real competition is itself a test, and perhaps Princess Caroline would decline. I think the people of New York deserve to see if she would subject her royal self to the ordeal and, if she did, how she'd do debating scrappy politicians who haven't lived their lives swathed in adoration, wealth, and deference.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everybody!

If my new year's resolution was to get the first post of the day up early, I have already broken it.

Have you broken your resolutions yet? Do you have the classic cliché resolution to lose weight? At this point, you can probably remember everything you've eaten this year. Have you eaten the wrong thing yet? Me, I've eaten nothing this year but a glass of skim milk.

Vows of abstemiousness are all well and good, but the more interesting resolutions are about doing something, not avoiding doing things. And going to the gym doesn't count. That's still in the abstemiousness category. I'm interested in your resolve to live a larger, more expressive, more fully dimensional life.

December 31, 2008

The New Year's Eve live-blog.

7:27 Central Time: Shouldn't you be out carousing? No. It's smart to stay in on the night when everyone else is out. So hang out here if you like. I hope you don't mind that I'm doing Central Time. But one must be somewhere? Where are you? Are you already in 2009? I see from Site Meter, that there are currently 142 people on the blog. There are readers in Dublin, Brighton, and Germany, so, hello, people of the future.

7:44: Celebrations around the world, but "A number of Arab nations - including Egypt, Jordan and Syria - cancelled planned celebrations in solidarity with Palestinians in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after a fifth day of Israeli air-strikes on the coastal enclave."

8:24: Champagne cork popped.

8:44: I'm watching Mickey Kaus and Bob Wright doing their New Year's Bloggingheads.

9:27: "How cold is it in New York? Look at that jacket! What a candyass!" I exclaim, looking at Ryan Seacrest — whoops for a second there I called him Ryan Seaquest — who is wearing an overstuffed down jacket and ear muffs. We've turned on "Dick Clark's New York Rockin' Eve" — or whatever it's called. I check my iPhone. It's 19° in NYC. So: candyass! They go to commercial, and we switch to "South Park."

10:00: We're kind of excited about Kathy Griffin (along with Anderson Cooper) covering Times Square on CNN.

10:05: The sound technology on CNN is terrible! They're trying to talk to reporters in lots of different cities, and either they can't hear them or the crowd noise is blowing out the microphones. Now Anderson and Kathy can't hear each other when they are standing side by side. "Can we stop saying Pap smear?" Cooper asks, after Kathy makes a few Pap smear jokes.

10:52: CNN comes back from a commercial break with Lynyrd Skynyrd singing "Sweet Home Alabama" in Pikeville, Kentucky. It sounds terrible. Is it the CNN mikes? Or do they suck? Hey, is that Bill Clinton? Oh, that's not Kentucky now. It's New York City. And there's Hillary and Bloomberg. Bill is not wearing a puffy jacket. He's got a lovely brown leather jacket. Very attractive. He's got his values in order.

10:57: Close to the end in New York City. They're playing John Lennon singing "Imagine." Chris says: "It's sort of a downer of a song in the last 2 and a half minutes."

10:58: I'm kinda tired. Can I be on NY time?

10:59: The Clintons start the ball. The ball, the ball, the ball, the ball. Yay!!!! Happy New Year!!!!!!!

11:00: "Oh, I'm tired! Can I be on NY time?" "No! You have to be on the time that you're in!"

11:01: Oh! Good lord! The Clintons are dancing and it makes me cry! Now, Kathy and Anderson are dancing, and Kathy says to Anderson, "Are you seeing anyone?" and we all know that's a huge joke.

10:05: "2 thousand and 9. We got to the big 9." I say that, as if 9 is an especially magnificent numeral. CNN plays Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York," then Ray Charles singing "America the Beautiful," then Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World."

10:08: Lot's of folks are wearing those 2009 glasses, and I suddenly realize that this is the last year for the 00 glasses. You'll have to wait until the year 3000 to wear glasses like that. Will we even have eyes in 3000?

11:30: We've finished the bottle of champagne, and I'm making herb tea, as if that will keep me up until midnight. I've muted the TV, which is really annoying me, and Chris and I are making lists of all the movies we saw in 2008 and putting them in order. This little effort wakes me up a bit. Here's my list:
The Fall
Slumdog Millionaire
Synecdoche, New York
The Reader
Iron Man
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Faster, Bigger, Stronger
Standard Operating Procedure
Dark Knight
Children of Huang Shi
Rachel Getting Married
Sex and the City
11:35: Chris IMs his movie list:
The Fall
The Reader
Synecdoche, New York
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Rachel Getting Married
Sex and the City
11:40: A shot of Times Square: Everyone has cleared out. Weird. It was the place to be, and then it's nothing.

11:47: Okay, now, who's in the Central Time Zone with me? The Central Time Zone rules!

11:51: "We're the only ones here! This is like a really messed up bar!" So says Kathy Griffin, looking down at Times Square. Anderson Cooper explains the notion of time zones.

11:59: CNN is playing some crap music. This is not the way I want to end a year or indeed what I want to do anywhere.

12:00: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! We watched CNN do the countdown in New Orleans. It was really lamely done. "Wouldn't it be great if there was a hologram of the Clintons dancing there?" says Kathy Griffin. We laugh. First laugh of the year. That can't be the biggest laugh of the year. Let's hope there are many laughs.

UPDATE, 10/22/11: I'm just reading this by chance and laughing at that last line Let's hope there are many laughs. In the year I was anticipating, I met Meade in January, fell in love with him in February, and married him in August. 2009 was brimming with excitement and happiness... and many, many laughs.

UPDATE: 12/12/14: I'm just rereading this again, including my 2011 update calling attention to my the last line Let's hope there are many laughs, and I'm seeing that Meade, at 1/1/09, 7:51 AM, quoted that line and said:
"First laugh of the year. That can't be the biggest laugh of the year. Let's hope there are many laughs"

Raising my cup to that sentiment and taking my first sip of hot strong black coffee to that.

I am wishing Althouse and all her wacky worldly-wise wonderful readers a new year filled with hope, love, and friendship.

And laughter... always laughter.

My idiosyncratic list of quotes from the second half of the year.

I've already done the months of January-June, and I simply must finish this project. So, quickly, here goes.

"This is someone thinking 'I'll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate cunt and i know best.' Well, you fucking don't. This was shit, shit sub-editing for three reasons...." Giles Coren rants about copy editing.

"'Crackhead' is an embarrassing line item to have on a résumé." New York Times writer David Carr tells his sordid story.

"We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining." The quote that wrecked Phil Gramm.

"I wasn’t exactly sure what to say to you, except to start with, God, I love our country and I love what we stand for." Bush at the Olympics.

"The more I'm in public, I don't even want to pick my nose." Obama.


A few scattered thoughts on the movie "Doubt."

1. For a movie full of nuns and priests, there was damned little religion in it. There were references to "mortal sin," and Bibles and crosses were displayed, but I don't think anyone ever mentioned God or Jesus. In church, at Christmas, the priest was saying "Happy Holidays." Now that was part of his character. He also wanted the Catholic school kids to sing some secular Christmas songs. The head nun had a big problem with that, but somehow managed to voice her disapproval without talking religion.

2. Unfortunately, having fought insomnia all last night, I kept slipping into little naps. Maybe it was all God, Jesus, and Mary when I was snoozing, but I think not.

3. Booger acting. I know many actors go for the tears-streaming-streaming-down face or the single tear welling up and finally dripping slowly down the cheek, but tears are the most pleasant of the bodily fluids. In "Doubt," one character goes for many long minutes with mucus flowing from her nostrils, even taking the path across the lips and into the mouth. It's kind of distracting! Not since "Blair Witch Project" have we seen such booger acting.

4. I kept trying to picture how the play was staged. Now, I've looked it up. From Ben Brantley's 2004 review: "The play unfolds mostly as a series of dialogues, punctuated by two monologues - sermons delivered by Father Flynn to his congregation on the subjects of doubt and gossip." That sounds better than the movie.

5. It wasn't bad. It had a tight script and some nice Streepage.

6. "I don't have an organized religious thing, but I have love in my life."

7. I'm seeing all the well-reviewed year-end movies, and there's an awful lot of wrong-age sex. "Doubt" is about a priest accused of molesting children. "Benjamin Button," with its backwards aging character, had scenes of an old man in love with a young girl and an old woman in love with a toddler. "The Reader" had a 36-year-old woman seducing a 15-year-old boy. "Milk" had a man in his 40s pursuing relationships with much younger (and more fragile) men. "Slumdog Millionaire" shows a young teenage girl being sold for sex. I say that Hollywood is delivering pedophiliac titillation with the deniability of artistic pretension.

8. "Doubt" works as a law movie. There are no lawyers or trials, but the subject of evidence is well-explored. There's an especially good illustration of the way a lie can be used to produce a reaction that constitutes relevant evidence.

9. We had a long discussion of the meaning of the little magnetic dancing ballerina the priest gives the boy.

ADDED: John Podhoretz gets it exactly right. Slightly spoilerish Excerpt"
[Writer-director John Patrick] Shanley's certitude about the lack of certitude in his play demonstrates why it was a mistake to put him at the helm of the movie version, since it proves he is an even worse interpreter of his own work than he is a director of it....

Doubt works not because the story is ambiguous, but because it is not ambiguous. It is, rather, a potent and unforgettable account of systemic injustice.
Podhoretz, like me, is not buying the bogus profundity of snot: "Viola Davis... may win an Oscar for best supporting actress largely because she goes without a tissue for a few minutes."

The New Year's Tick has arrrived, replacing Father Time, The New Year Baby, and The Ball.

I asked for your drawings and photoshoppings of the new New Year's mascot, the New Year's Tick. That lovable master of the animated gif, Chip Ahoy, has come forward, so let's do the countdown.

I'm still looking for drawing of the tick that make him lovable and memorable. I've thought of a name: Tock the Tick. See? He represents time.


I've done all my out-of-the-house New Year's celebrating yesterday and today, and now I'll be home blogging tonight, so please hang out here. I've got a couple things I want to post, and then I'll start a New Year's Eve live-blog post. We'll talk about the old and the new and what's on TV, we may reproduce some of what passes for conversation chez Althouse, and if we are lucky, as the clock ticks, there will be more New Year's ticks.

Harvey Milk speech.

"Milk" may be the best movie in all of the following categories:

1. Depiction of the political process. (Other example: "The Candidate.")

2. Blending recreated historical scenes with archival footage of historical events.

3. Recreating the look and feel of the 1970s. (Other example: "Boogie Nights.")

4. Making an implicit and effective argument for a political position.

5. Showing a character's emotions through his reaction to opera. (Other examples: "Moonstruck," "Slumdog Millionaire.")

6. Artistic representation of the moment of death.

7. Artistic representation of assassination.

8. A serious drama that creates surprising empathy for a character who doesn't deserve it and is not the hero of the story. (Josh Brolin was painfully brilliant as Dan White.)

9. Depiction of a formal debate in a political campaign. (The debate with Briggs about Prop 6.)

10. A character tells his story into the microphone of a tape recorder. (Other examples: Philip Baker Hall as Nixon in Robert Altman's "Secret Honor," John Hurt in Atom Egoyan's version of "Krapp's Last Tape.")(Not quite in the category: Ralph Fiennes in "The Reader." It's not in the category because — spoiler — he's reading books, not telling his own story.)

11. Scene reflected in a convex mirror. (The fisheye effect.)

12. Scene shot through a window with reflections on the window.

13. Depicting the importance of whistles. (Here's the competition.)

14. Depiction of political apathy. (The first appearance of Cleve Jones, played by Emile Hirsch, who was Chris McCandless in "Into the Wild.")

15. Use of notes stuck all over the wall to create alarm about a character's mental distress. (Other example: "A Beautiful Mind.")

16. Recitation of (part of) "The Declaration of Independence."

17. Actors looking uncannily like the real-life characters they play.

18. Sean Penn movie.

19. Gus Van Sant movie.

20. Movie released in 2008.

"The Sensitive Female Chord Progression."

It's everywhere, apparently. I'm not sensitive enough to chords to be able to hear things like this on my own (though it helps me a lot to know that a suspect progression can be tested by seeing if you can sing "What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?" over it).

(Thanks to EDH for sending the link.)

I'm quite serious about replacing the depressing Father Time/Baby New Year with the New Year's Tick.

I like to frontpage comments, you know, and now and then, I need to frontpage my own comments. This is one of those times.

There was that "tick" post on New Year's Eve Eve (i.e., last night):
"New Year to arrive a tick later."

Oh! A tick!
Ricpic waxes poetic:
The New Year came in wobbly.
A tick or two behind.
It threw off lonely sticklers.
The rest? They didn't mind.
And Stephanie says:
?retal kcot a evirra ti t'nseoD
(Wait a sec, I have to do this.)

Then blogging cockroach says...
tou ieduv siht kcehc einahpets yeh
... and links to this:

That drives reader_iam to poesy:
i do love the backwards elements of the cockroach nature
as don't we all
or at least should
if not ought
Blogging cockroach responds in kind:
that should be tuo
which proves i ve had too much
spilled cheap merlot tonight
to be hopping around backwards
lookout when the champaign flows
tomorrow night wheee
which i hope doesn t turn into
anyway here is tick tock gone bad
and too long
but you can stop it when it
ceases being funny about 40 seconds in
hey they can t all be gems
and i promise never to trip
trippingly to reader s ear
a cockroach doing that would
freak some people out
but just don t sleep on the kitchen floor
and we ll all be fine
Chip Ahoy says:

.diputs era stac yhW

dnuora gnifoog tsuj s'ti swohs swollof taht oediv etunim 4 ehT .yllaer toN
The cockroach continues to inspire reader_iam:
ah but cockroach
your trips are tweets to the ear
like birds in dawn of spring s own dawn
here here see here they sing
back again as always are we
so wake up
if only, and to ...
The cockroach skitters on across the keyboard again:
not having the vers libre poet in me
i fear my prosaic nature sometimes
misses the subtleties of
dear reader s lovely lines
which is not to say
reader should not write
a lot more of them
because you always want more
when someone doesn t quite
write enough rather than when
they write too much
which is also true about food
but i m not as appreciative when
the cook has cleaned up
too well afterwards
Then, when everyone is nestled all snug in their beds, I am awake. It's 2:23 a.m.:
And where is everyone? Last night, you guys were talking all night, and now here I am with insomnia and no one is around.

Were you afraid of the tick?

Thanks for all the poetry, but it was all before midnight. If you can't stay up until midnight tonight, how do you expect to celebrate New Year's Eve tomorrow night?

I think I'll try to draw a picture of the New Year's Tick. Or see if I can get people to send pictures of the New Year's Tick. And I'm going to push for the adoption of the New Year's Tick as the new New Year's mascot, replacing that stupid — and frankly depressing — Old Man and Baby mascot. Or the Ball. What the hell kind of symbol is a Ball?

I hope that doesn't offend blogging cockroach. You must understand that we can't have a cockroach as a holiday symbol. Not for New Year's anyway.

This insomnia is giving me grandiose thoughts, but I really think this New Year's Tick thing can catch on. Perhaps if we draw it the right way. I think Santa Claus wasn't such a big deal until those Coca Cola ads got the character drawn just the right way. People loved him once his attributes became appealing and standardized.

Help me do that with the Tick.

Also, that "Night Before Christmas" poem helped with the popularization of Santa Claus, so maybe some of you poets can write something similarly beguiling about the annual arachnid.

Inside the kitty cat wall clock he hid/Our eagerly awaited arachnid.

See? I can't do it!

An arthropod/From God/Trod...

No... I need help with the poem. And with the drawing. And with the sleeping.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds/Not knowing the Tick crept so close to their heads....
(Links added.)

In the cold light of morning — and it's — I can see these are not mere insomniac ravings. I really do want drawings — or photoshoppings — of the New Year's Tick. I will reward you with frontpagings and tags. More poems too. I love the poems and the depictions of ticks — detickshuns, if you will.

We went out in the icy snow and celebrated last night. Tonight we stay in. I'll be live-blogging New Year's Eve, so please join me. I will reward you profusely with frontpagings and tags... and ticks.

"Granted he's in Chicago now, he's cut his teeth in politics in Chicago. But when I saw him walking around town in rubber slippers..."

"... I said, OK, that's who he is. That's the local boy that grew up here. How many other people go away, come back, and slip right back into rubber slippers?"

He also "flashes the 'shaka' or hang loose sign," he seems to love "shave ice," and "he's got the nice form" in body surfing, this Prez-E of ours.

The List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

The proclamation has come down. You can no longer use "maverick," "from Wall Street to Main Street," "desperate search," "monkey" (the suffix), "game-changing," "carbon footprint," "winner of five nominations," "green," "going green," "first dude," "staycation." Probably a lot more. I'm culling these words from a tediously written article, when I just want to see the list, because I can't get to the official website.

"Any unbigoted or bigoted books on God or merely religion, as written by persons whose last names begin with any letter after H..."

"... to stay on the safe side, please include H itself, though I think I have mostly exhausted it. ... The complete works again of Count Leo Tolstoy. ... Charles Dickens, either in blessed entirety or in any touching shape or form. My God, I salute you, Charles Dickens!"

The books Seymour asked to have sent to him, in "the longest, most pretentious (and least plausible) letter from camp ever written," the last thing J.D. Salinger published. Salinger turns 90 on New Year's Day, which provides an occasion for pondering the oft-pondered question: What's he been doing all these years?


Hey, I wonder if Richard Hasn't-Slept-With-Althouse Cohen is impressed by Seymour's book list?


Have you noticed that Instapundit always has a post that goes up in the middle of the night? Think he's really up and writing then? I'm really up now, writing. Maybe old J.D. is up and writing, adding one more sheet to the stack of pages he started piling up more than 40 years ago.

UPDATE: Instapundit awakens and answers my question:
Those are scheduled posts, for the benefit of people in the other hemisphere, or people who are up late and bored.
Tigerhawk razzes:
Is there any person with more regard for his fellow man than Glenn Reynolds? He is actually concerned with the welfare of bored people all around the world! And I agree. What with all the people worried about starvation, disease, war, and poverty, somebody has to speak out for the bored. Glenn has put his stake in the ground and said "the boredom stops here!," and I am down with that.
Much as I'm gratified by the instaänswer and tigerhawkswoopery, I'm a little sad that this discussion of boredom has occurred on the J.D. Salinger post and not yesterday's Camus post where boredom — ennui — would have fit so nicely. In Reynoldsian theory, the French existentialists must rank high, as they attend to the great problem of boredom. In Althousian theory, the blogger is not here to help you with your boredom, but to delight at serendipitous juxtapositions. So here is something Jean-Paul Sartre's blogged last October:
My sleep continues to be troubled by odd dreams. Last night I dreamt that I was a beetle, clinging to the slick surface of a water-soaked log as it careened down a rain-swollen stream toward a waterfall. A figure appeared on the horizon, and as the log drew closer I could see that it was Camus. He held out a hand and I desperately reached for it with my tiny feeler. Just as the log drew abreast of Camus he suddenly wihdrew his hand, swooped it through his hair and sneered "Too slow," adding superfluously: "Psych."

It is my belief that the log symbolizes the precariousness of Existence, while the tiny feeler represents Man's essential powerlessness. And Camus represents Camus, that fatuous ninny.

Read the whole blog, Being and Nothingness, where the tags are:
the bourgeoisie

December 30, 2008

"New Year to arrive a tick later."

Oh! A tick!

Beleaguered Blagojevich will go ahead and appoint a Senator: Roland Burris.

"Mr. Burris, 71 and a Democrat, is a longtime political player in this state, who has run for governor before, including mounting a primary challenge against Mr. Blagojevich. Mr. Obama backed him over Mr. Blagojevich in that race."

Richard Cohen reacts to that Karl Rove column about how President Bush read a lot of books while he was President.

And by "Richard Cohen," I do not mean my ex-husband Richard Cohen. I mean that WaPo columnist to whom people have often asked me if I am/was married.

The never-slept-with-Althouse Cohen writes:
One of [the books Bush read] was Albert Camus' "The Stranger," with its unforgettable opening lines: "Mother died today. Or perhaps it was yesterday, I don't know." After reading Rove's Wall Street Journal column, it's clear there's much we all don't know.

Bush's choice of the Camus classic is odd on the face of it. It is a novel about estrangement, about an amoral, irreligious man (Meursault) who never shows emotion. It is a book out of my Gauloise-smoking youth, read in the vain pursuit of women of literary bent,* and not something I would think an over-60 president would read. Maybe this is what happens when you have to give up jogging.
And what's Cohen's excuse for forgetting so much of the book he claims to have read? Or did he just read the first page? Or was that just the only part of the book that was "unforgettable"? If you want to skewer Bush for reading "The Stranger," you should bring up the part where he kills an Arab for virtually no reason at all.
[T]hat Bush is a prodigious, industrial reader... does not conform at all to his critics' idea of who he is.
"Industrial reader" is a good phrase, one that makes me think I'm being too mean to RC.
They would prefer seeing him as a dolt, since that, as opposed to policy or ideological differences, is a briefer, more bloggish explanation of what went wrong.
Bloggish? Bloggish? As if your column — your column that is entirely parasitic on Rove's column (ugh! that sounds like Rove needs a medicinal ointment) — is so damned deep. Cohen, you're losing me.
[But] the books themselves reveal -- actually, confirm -- something about Bush that maybe Rove did not intend. They are not the reading of a widely read man, but instead the books of a man who seeks -- and sees -- vindication in every page....

The list Rove provides is long, but it is narrow. It lacks whole shelves of books on how and why the Iraq war was a mistake, one that metastasized into a debacle.
Metastasized into a debacle? That's one of those dead-metaphor mixed metaphors. I wonder what George Bush thinks about mixed metaphors....
Bush read David Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter," which is about the Korean War, but not on the list is Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest," which is about the Vietnam War. Bush read some novels, but they are mostly pre-movies, plotted not written, and lacking the beauty of worldly cynicism. I recommend Giuseppe di Lampedusa's "The Leopard." Delicious.
Delicious? Are women attracted to men who pronounce things that are not food/drink "delicious"? I think not! And what's his point? From the novel:
"We were the Leopards, the Lions, those who'll take our place will be little jackals, hyenas; and the whole lot of us, Leopards, jackals, and sheep, we'll all go on thinking ourselves the salt of the earth."
So... the Democrats are jackals and sheep?

* That might have impressed Althouse. But the truth is that I can't think of a single time that I found a man attractive because I noticed the book he was reading. And yet there are many times when I snap-judged a man to be a fool because of the book he was reading. Be careful with the books, lads.


IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said:
"I wonder what George Bush thinks about mixed metaphors...."

Best bloggish idle musing of the year!
I really appreciate that. Meade has my number.
NOW will you sleep with me?
More things to wonder about.

Anthony said:
C'mon already, Althy, we're waiting for what books would make you throw yourself in a blind passion at he-who-would-be-reading-one.
Well, there's "Get Me a Table Without Flies, Harry"...
A friend once told me that (this was in the late '80s, mind you) if I just went into a local coffee shop wearing my spandex biking shorts and read Sartre I'd "get all the p*ssy you want". Maybe so, but it'd be hairy and wearing Birkenstocks. No, I never tried it.
Who wears shoes that way? Is it like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and socks? (NSFW.)

Chip Ahoy said...
Why Literature Is Bad For You, Peter Thorpe

A onetime professor of literature at CU Boulder. Here, let me save you $3.20 on the secondary market. The book amounts to a screed against the people with whom Professor Thorpe shared a Department, and the Masters students with whom he came into contact. He apparently studied their traits closely, eagerly tallied their most damaging characteristics and categorized them, then described how it was Literature that distorted otherwise perfectly good personalities. It's hilarious. It's horrible. I laughed, I cried, I couldn't eat or sleep for days. I'm fairly certain I made up this last part, or possibly I read it somewhere.

Yes, that's right, I'm doing it too. Cohen reminds me of someone I've previously met somewhere in literature. His archetype has already been perfectly delineated in a book by a writer good at describing people. I automatically subsumed Cohen to a characterization I have already meet, thus I deny his unique contribution, if there is one.

Actually, Cohen's review, which I'm smart enough to avoid, makes me go, "Gah!" Reminds me of real people I know in real life, irritating people, always eager to tell me what books I really must read, lists of them, in order to become enlightened like themselves. The unstated assumption sits flatly, that I'll remain dull and unenlightened until then. I reflexively spit on the floor and immediately regret having spit, because it is uncivilized, and because now somebody must clean it up, most likely myself.

And have you ever cleaned spit off a carpet? A dampened rag, a little Oxiclean, it's not all that bad. But I wouldn't have to do it! If everyone would just stop telling me which books I must read, and stop using words like Galuoise instead of cigarettes, industrial instead of industrious, and delicious instead of good. Yes, it reminds me of overlapping cases in Peter Thorpe's book. Students of literature, avoid them.

On the other hand, I'm reading Robert Sabuda's delicious adaption of Barrie's Peter Pan. Well, I'm not actually reading it, but rather, I'm studying the industrial pop-ups. A real tour de force in pop-uppery, and you're really not sufficiently educated in paper engineering pop-up mechanisms until you've studied Robert Sabuda.

This is a fun game to play. Let's bludgeon each other with the names of books we supposedly read, or possibly scanned the cover jackets or the Cliff Notes, or possibly heard about, and then use inappropriately artsy adjectives in an effort to elevate ourselves at each other's expense. Sniff.
Wow! Now, I think "Why Literature Is Bad For You" would work.

As for "Robert Sabuda's delicious adaption of Barrie's Peter Pan"... delicious... Chip Ahoy is named after a cookie, so it might be okay to call him delicious.

AND: About Chip's fun game — naming "books we supposedly read, or possibly scanned the cover jackets or the Cliff Notes, or possibly heard about, and then us[ing] inappropriately artsy adjectives in an effort to elevate ourselves at each other's expense" — may I suggest the adjectives "luminous" and "astonishing."