March 14, 2009

The root cellar.

The house has a root cellar:


I find it ineffably mysterious:


It might seem spooky to you...


... but here, to me, it's very sweet.

IN THE COMMENTS: Simon Kenton wrote:
We had a root cellar of Mormon provenence. The walls were lined with glass jars filled with food canned in the 1920s. Some of it looked much as food looks, some of it was black and powdery. And the whole place had become the Abode of the Spiders. Their webs brushed your face, your hair, and attached suddenly to it, and at the edges of your vision, you were aware of them darting about, wondering if you were ready for paralysis and transmutation into the not-readily-imagined consciousness of Lactrodectus mactans.

One could meditate on the hands and heart that had prepared that food, set it aside and forgotten it, now both dissipated; perhaps that was ineffably mysterious. But not even rose spectacles and emergent love, which we too experienced in our turn in that house, made that place 'very sweet.'

Into the floodway.

Come on...


To the east fork...


It's the floodway...


Now, let's get out of here...


At the Striped Wall With Tulips Low-Angle Café...

Striped wall with tulips

... you can talk about me... you can talk about anything...

What's with Althouse?

She's not blogging, not much anyway. She's — what? — in Ohio for Spring Break? Who goes to Ohio for Spring Break.

Well, that picture is from last Tuesday, when I was meeting Nina for some laughing and serious talk at Barrique's Wine Cave on Monroe Street in Madison. Nina memorializes the confabulation at the end of this long post, thusly:
Tuesday – I paid the price for my protracted recline on the ER bed the previous day. I had classes and endless meetings and appointments to get through and it was a tight fit. Luckily the day ended with a glass of wine with my most happy friend. I suppose you don’t remember my suggestion that mental health requires putting in hours with happy people? I did that tonight.
I'm aiming to spill the happiness, my friends, so be happy here.

March 13, 2009

Mysteries of the Althouse day.





Where I'm blogging from...


... 500 miles from home.

Under the white trees...


The dog has found a sweet morsel of deer:


A liver? A kidney?



With the last class over at 2:40, I run to my car and head out...

... driving 500 miles, stopping only once...


I arrive at my destination at 11 p.m.

The next morning:


IN THE COMMENTS: HelenParr wrote:

Two lips.
Sensen at he.
Springs break

March 12, 2009

"Americans Like Big Government: They just don't really know it yet."

That's the line.

And, of course, part of Big Government is to feed us that line. It's part of the scheme of getting us to like it. Sometimes government sounds like a creepy stalker....

Organs the surgeon removed from a 7-year-old girl's body: stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver and large and small intestines.

Surgeon Tomoaki Kato redefines "inoperable."
"Thank you for giving me back Heather... Everyone said, 'She'll end up dying on the table.' He was our last hope..."....

The surgery resembled a multiple-organ transplant, Kato said, except that the young patient served as her own donor and did not need anti-rejection drugs. Her organs were removed and chilled in a preservative at 4 degrees above zero. Those that the cancer hadn't destroyed were replaced in her body.

Kato's biggest fear was that her liver might fail. He asked her father, a volunteer firefighter, to serve as a live donor, if need be. Fortunately, the organ survived, and the call never came.
(Via Jac.)

Speaking of Robin...

"'Rockin' Robin,' even with the little dances [Megan Corkrey] does, I hate to death. She looks like she's having an emotional fear breakdown in the middle of things, I think she forgets some words, the little dances stop looking funny and weird and just look stupid, and her voice goes from weird and intriguing to shrieky and horrible and desperate. That sucks, I was really looking forward to her doing something cool and then she did the dumbest fucking thing she could think of. Oh my goodness it sounds terrible, man. And then at the end she goes, 'Caw! Caw!' like just to let you know she meant it to sound horrible. It's gloriously WTF and almost earns back my respect. What on earth is she thinking? Kara's like, 'Well, I guess that is your personality, which is nice.'"

And yet it was Jasmine that America sent home this week. Jasmine and Jorge, the persons of color, will be dismissed first this year, and Megan — per Paula — "is pretty enough to be safe this week." Anoop too must be dismissed, and soon will have just li'l Lil and all those white people.

Sorry, to play the race card on "American Idol." (Argue with me and I will dig in and stand my ground.)

But Jasmine did suck and so did Jorge and Anoop. Worse than Megan, really, because Megan — beautiful white girl though she is — has found an original and bizarre way to be bad and that's entertaining. (Watch it here.) How astounding that a girl that pretty thinks she needs to find a new way to amuse us. Kudos to Megan!

So: The race problem this season is not caused by America's failure to vote for the nonwhite contestants. It is caused by the judges' fear of an excessively white final 12 and their consequent padding of the final group — expanded to 13 — with persons of color who just plain didn't deserve it.

The subject of Michelle Obama's bare arms is so important...

... that Robin Givhan must hop over into The New Yorker:
They are not outlandishly sinewy Madonnaesque limbs. Obama’s athletic arms are achievable—in between the kids’ soccer practice, the executive suite, and the grocery store. Those arms represent personal time. They are evidence of a forty-five-year-old woman’s refusal to give up every free moment in service to husband, kids, and all the nagging distractions that could have filled her days and left her tuning in to “Oprah,” trying to figure out how she’d lost herself along the way. The arms imply vanity and power: two things that make many women uncomfortable and yet are fundamental to self-confidence.
What articulate arms!

SYLLABICATION: ar·tic·u·late

ADJECTIVE: 1. Endowed with the power of speech. 2. Composed of distinct, meaningful syllables or words, as human speech. 3. Expressing oneself easily in clear and effective language: an articulate speaker. 4. Characterized by the use of clear, expressive language: an articulate essay. 5. Anatomy Consisting of sections united by joints; jointed.
I meant definition #5.

Bristol Palin will not marry Levi Johnson.

I have no opinion on the subject. Do you?

March 11, 2009

And the new NYT columnist is: Ross Douthat!


Justice David Souter describes the Supreme Court term as "sort of annual intellectual lobotomy."

That slipped out along with some lofty comments about how people need to read more and how he's forced to do his serious reading in the summers between Court terms.

That makes some people, like Tony Mauro, the author of the linked article, wonder about rumors that he may be leaving the Court:
If he thinks of his work on the Court, even sarcastically, as a nine-month-long, brain-evacuating experience, it is easier to see why he would want to leave it behind -- if nothing else, to catch up on his reading.
Others I'm sure would put that more harshly: If you don't appreciate the great work of the Supreme Court, get the hell out.

Me, I would speculate that he's fine with the Supreme Court work and he was just being funny — and effusive about the value of serious literature.

ADDED: On reflection, I think the problem he's talking about is something I experience as a law professor. I love the work, but it requires me to devote most of my reading time to judicial opinions and lawprof articles and books. This kind of reading is useful raw material for doing what one loves to do, but it isn't enriching on a deep enough level.

My main problem with Souter is that he is one of the judges who writes the long tedious opinions that I have to chew my way through. May I suggest that if he wants more of a challenge during the Court's term that he devote himself to writing better sentences? Just on the Strunk and White level, could you please edit the hell out of those damned things?

If you don't like what reading that stuff does to your brain, why do you do what you do to my brain? If the Term for you is a lobotomy, consider that you are also the lobotomist!

"Yes, free the president from his flacks, fixers and goons -- his posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes..."

"... who were shrewd enough to beat the slow, pompous Clintons in the mano-a-mano primaries but who seem like dazed lost lambs in the brave new world of federal legislation and global statesmanship."

Camille Paglia wants heads to roll:
Heads should be rolling at the White House for the embarrassing series of flubs that have overshadowed President Obama's first seven weeks in office and given the scattered, demoralized Republicans a huge boost toward regrouping and resurrection. (Michelle, please use those fabulous toned arms to butt some heads!)
Heads should roll and arms should be used to butt heads. But butting heads is done with 2 heads colliding. If arms are involved, it's not butting. Even if the arms are fabulous and toned, it's not butting. Meanwhile, can you go mano-a-mano with a lamb? Lambs don't have manos. They have those little hooves. Perhaps fabulous hooves, but still. Butt still: Fight on, Camille! We love you... some of us do anyway. Others say Salon can "get Ann Althouse to do the same thing for much less money."

AND: Some day, when I get home after a long, strange conversation, I'll tell you everything about My Dinner with Camille.

"He doesn't have 150 years to live..."

"... but I hope his time in jail will be hell on Earth."


Extremely lengthy sentences are showy but in fact wildly disparate. And there's not a damned thing you can do about the shamefully light punishment of the old.

"I was not going to sing 'Bad' by Michael Jackson."

"Well, you sorta did."

Lawprof Bruce Ackerman says we should require Senate approval of senior White House staff positions.

"The challenge is to make it difficult for future presidents to appoint less-qualified officials -- such as Alberto Gonzales or Harriet Miers -- without serious outside review of their credentials. That, after all, is the aim of our system of checks and balances."

He'd like to see the reform set to begin in 2017, when, we can be sure, Obama will be gone, replaced by no one now knows who.

"An act of adultery between the defendant and the spouse of the plaintiff..."

"... when the defendant knew or should have known that the plaintiff’s spouse was married shall constitute proof of intentional interference with the plaintiff’s marriage. Damages awarded pursuant to this statute shall not exceed $500,000. This action shall be instituted within two years of the discovery of the adultery."

Maggie Gallagher is inspired by this proposed statute (from Minnesota, oddly enough). But what she really wants is not that you should be able to extract half a million dollars from the person who seduced your husband/wife. She wants a cause of action against websites that facilitate adultery.

"Having his testicles removed, he said, was like draining the gasoline from a car hard-wired to crash."

"A large, dough-faced man, he is sterile and has forsaken marriage, romantic relationships and sex, he said. His life revolves around a Catholic charity, where he is a gardener."

Castration for rapists. Offered in to some criminals in the Czech Republic and condemned by the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee as "invasive, irreversible and mutilating."

March 10, 2009

Adventures in kissing.

Kissing is so important.
Tracy Davies, 40, bit off a third of Mark Coghill's tongue after telling him "you never give me smoochy kisses any more."...

Davies was convicted of grievous bodily harm but cleared of the same charge with intent at Newcastle Crown Court....

They kissed and she bit down hard on his tongue, causing him to scream, and he tapped her on the head, hoping she would let go.

He said: "Then when she did stop, she opened her mouth and looked at me in such a way that I have never seen anyone do before."

Mr Coghill said he could see part of his tongue inside her mouth.

He said: "She let out a satisfaction sound, like if you have a cup of tea when you haven't had one for a few days.

"A 'mmmm' sound."

She then spat it on the floor, he said.

Did you know I have the BhTV "safety tip of the day"?

The emotional man.

False Apology Cards.

(Via Language Log.)

Rush Limbaugh and Mickey Kaus: Is anybody listening to Warren Buffett anymore?

Mickey, last night:
First Time The MSM Has Ever Ignored Warren Buffett: The press accounts I've read have wildly underplayed Obama supporter Warren Buffet's criticism of the President on CNBC today. It's fairly pointed, and Buffett comes back to it, suggesting he has a message he's trying to deliver.
Rush, yesterday afternoon:
... Here's Warren Buffett. So far now, he's disagreed with card check, he has disagreed with cap and trade, and now he's disagreeing with Obama on the basis that Obama's demonizing CEOs.... These are profound disagreements from one of the smartest men in the world who voted for Obama, and then he said this about the war, the economy as a war.... He doesn't like this notion of "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste"? So here are four profound disagreements from Warren Buffett on the economy with President Obama — and then, after all of that, Warren Buffett said this about Republicans.

BUFFETT: The minority has... They really do have an obligation to support things that, in general, are clearly designed to fight the war in a big way. Republicans have a -- an obligation to regard this as an economic war and to realize you need one leader and -- and in general support of that. But I think that the Democrats -- and I -- I voted for Obama, I strongly support him, and I think he's the right guy, but I think they should not use this... When they're calling for unity on a question this important they should not use it to roll the Republicans.

RUSH: Um, somebody want to explain that to me? It sounded like a two-pronging answer but basically Warren Buffett, after offering four profound areas of disagreement on the economy, then says (summarized), "We need support the guy anyway, but the Republicans should not be rolled. I mean, the Democrats ought not be mean to the Republicans but the Republicans ought to support this anyway." Now, folks, this is what you call the absence of leadership. Here is a man, Warren Buffett, who clearly knows what's right and wrong for this economy, but will not stand up for it.

"To us, they are not accusations. To us they are a badge of honor, which we carry with honor."

5 detainees respond to accusations that they planned the September 11 attacks in "The Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations," a document filed with the military commission in Guantanamo.
President Obama halted the military proceedings at Guantánamo in the first days after his inauguration, and the five men’s case is on hiatus until the government decides how it will proceed.

Several of the men have earlier said in military commission proceedings at Guantánamo that they planned the 2001 attacks and that they sought martyrdom....

In their filing, the men describe the planning of the Sept. 11 attacks and the killing of Americans as a model of Islamic action, and say the American government’s accusations cause them no shame....
Think, Obama, think. How to proceed?

"Options theory is kind of deep in some way. It was very elegant; it had the quality of physics."

Seduced by a vision of mathematical elegance underlying some of the messiest of human activities, they apply skills they once hoped to use to untangle string theory or the nervous system to making money....

Asked to compare her work to physics, one quant, who requested anonymity because her company had not given her permission to talk to reporters, termed the market “a wild beast” that cannot be controlled, and then added: “It’s not like building a bridge. If you’re right more than half the time you’re winning the game.” There are a thousand physicists on Wall Street, she estimated, and many, she said, talk nostalgically about science. “They sold their souls to the devil,” she said, adding, “I haven’t met many quants who said they were in finance because they were in love with finance.”...

Given the state of the world, you might ask whether quants have any idea at all what they are doing....

Lee Smolin, a physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, who was one of the authors, said, “What is amazing to me as I learn about this is how flimsy was the theoretical basis of the claims that derivatives and other complex financial instruments reduced risk, when their use in fact brought on instabilities.”...

Quants say that they should not be blamed for the actions of traders. They say they have been in the forefront of pointing out the models’ shortcomings.

Quants! Scapegoats or devils?

Quants: scapegoats or devils?
Devils free polls

The Democrats, fighting amongst themselves.

WaPo reports.

Should the 2010 census count same-sex marriages?

It won't.

March 9, 2009

"But when I noticed the guy in the orange shirt, my weekend was made."

I feel guilty. I'm sorry. But I laughed hysterically at this Sorry I Missed Your Party post. And then there is this one, which I find terribly sad.

The return of the blogroll.

After completely screwed up their service by inserting ugly URL-destroying ads, I deleted my old blogroll and simply constructed a list of links in HTML. I'm afraid I may have lost some old links in the shuffle. This was not intentional. If I had a link to you and now I don't, please let me know.

"It’s as if it doesn't matter if you’re Hitler or anyone."

The protest against Condoleezza Rice's return to Stanford University.

My 2 favorite "nice" songs.

"You Didn't Have to Be So Nice":

"Wouldn't It Be Nice?":

Very 1960s, of course. If there are "nice" songs from earlier or later eras, you'll have to flag them for me. I do know this one, but it's hardly the same thing. Meanwhile, let's vote on my "nice" songs. Just the songs. Don't count the video, which for both is nicely low quality. And don't give the Lovin' Spoonful extra credit for Peter Noone.

Pick a "nice" song. free polls 

UPDATE: The Peter Noone version was taken down so I've changed the embed to The Lovin' Spoonful. And the old poll had gone dead, so I put up the same options in a new poll.

Axelrod: "It’s surreal, so much of this is... It’s kind of hard to absorb and get your hands around all we’re trying to do."

Oh, yeah, it's really trippy — all that power.

God help us.

AND: I'm picturing:

The anguish of the liberal blogger.

What can you say after your guy wins?

"Perv Group Puts 10G 'Hit' on Andy."

A New York Post headline.

This is what I was trying to photograph at midnight, in the moonlight.


I put a coat over my nightgown and boots on my bare feet and ventured out into the night only to discover my battery was dead.
It's not quite so pretty in the sunlight, but I wanted to show you anyway. You'll have to imagine the moonlight. Imagine the Moonlight. That's an aphorism for you. Take it to heart.

In the sunlight, this, unseen at night, became visible:


Hydrangea. Not the way you usually picture it, is it? Closer to some unappetizing pasta than what you have in your head to be summoned up by the word "hydrangea." Or have I replaced that image now. I would love to do that.

Why don't environmentalists celebrate the economic slump as the big cutback in consumption that they always wanted?

It's really a kind of automatic Kyoto, isn't it? Or do you want to tell me that they are celebrating, but they have the good taste discretion to celebrate privately?

AND: These questions occurred to me after reading this.

Squid ink bubbles?

I was with you up to the squid ink bubbles. Then I was kind of grossed out. Nice to see Boston again though, via photographs. I'm here in Madison, Wisconsin, eating Milk & Honey Granola. It's quite delicious. Chez Althouse, where we love Milk & Honey Granola, "It's quite delicious" is an oft-invoked allusion to a favorite movie...
Hunh. Well, uh. What is the, uh, "vromborova polevka"?

It's a potato soup. It's quite delicious.

Oh, well, that's great! I'll have that.
Vromborova polevka... that looks like something my linkee could easily translate without asking the waiter.

Anyway, as I often say, I'm here in Madison, Wisconsin. But spring break looms, and I will break out of Madison before long. Where am I going? You'll have to wait for the photographs, and I will let you guess. But it won't be Boston, and it won't be the Sahara Desert, and it won't be a forest in Poland, and it won't be India or Scotland or Montauk, Long Island. And there won't be any squid ink bubbles, I don't think.

March 8, 2009

The Snow-on-Redbuds-in-Moonlight Inn.

You'll just have to imagine the picture. I was snuggled up in bed talking on the telephone for so very long, and then I went downstairs for some chocolate and, looking out the window, noticed that beautiful thin layer of snow on the redbuds, perfectly lit with moonlight and porchlight, so I got the camera, stepped into my boots and put on my long coat and crouched carefully into position by the stoop only to find that the battery was dead. I went back inside for another camera and that battery was dead too. But believe me, the night is beautiful here. I wanted to tell you that, and you can tell me anything you want.

Sometimes you just get lucky...

... with a vegetable.

ADDED: "I'm gonna be 'round my vegetables. I'm gonna chow down my vegetables. I love you most of all, my favorite vegetable."

"Call and they'll come to you, covered with dew. Vegetables dream, Of responding to you."

"To be able to talk. To be able to lead. I will be victorious! Always victorious!"

(Via Throwing Things.)

Cool or tragic? The engineer's dog.

(Via Instapundit.)

"One is not Twittering..."

The Queen.

Obama reaching out to the Taliban.

"He cited an argument he attributed to Gen. David H. Petraeus that 'part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us.' Mr. Obama added that 'there may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani region, but the situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, more complex.'"

This idea makes sense to me, but I lack confidence that Obama and his people know how to do these things properly. He didn't get how to host a visit with Gordon Brown in the White House! And then there was Hillary and the reset button....

AND: More here.

Next: Cuba.

This week, the liberals loved Clarence Thomas.

"We think Justice Thomas got it exactly right. A key part of our constitutional system is respect for the states in protecting the health and welfare of their citizens."

If the conservatives would just enforce federalism values all the time, liberals would love them maybe half of the time. That assumes principled consistency from conservatives and result-orientation from liberals. An apt assumption?

Is Obama "overwhelmed" and "too tired"?

The British are going after Obama. He hurt their feelings.
British officials ... admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama's inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.

Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.
Ha ha. Yes, I have this picture of President Obama sitting in the White House, thinking I hate my job. He was all about running for President. What did he really know about being President?

A master’s degree in Beatles studies.

You can get one.
If you listen, for example, to the complete session for the group’s third single, “From Me to You,” you’ll discover that the song wasn’t quite finished when they began recording it. It wasn’t until the fifth take that they added an instrumental break, and toward the end of the session (on takes 8 through 13), they tried no fewer than four approaches to the introduction: a sung vocal, a hummed vocal, a sung version with a falsetto descant, and a version with harmonica. In the end, they combined two of these (the first vocal version and the harmonica) to produce what you hear on the single.
You could learn things like that. Or maybe you already know it. It's easily learned from reading books. But then, why go to school to learn anything that you could learn on your own from reading books? Learning from professors should be something more, right? (I'm thinking: like being questioned socratically.) Aside from learning, there is credentialing. What is the job for a master of Beatles studies? You can always go to law school. Just major in something, anything, and you can. I, for example, majored in painting. Studio painting. But it would be better if you Beatles majors went on to write about music somewhere. And if you do, don't forget there is a uniform for the Beatles major. It's like this:

Did you feel that?

We just sprang ahead!

UPDATE: What? The springage occurs at 2 a.m.? But I felt it here, where I feel everything.