April 18, 2009

A word about opportunities.

You know, there are some rare opportunities. But do you take them because they are rare?

Being tried for murder is a rare opportunity, as is ending your life in the electric chair.

Have you ever had a rare opportunity that you were tempted to take because it is rare? Did you stop yourself or did you take it? How did that work out for you?

"Obama dismayed by Iran sentence."

"The US has expressed dismay after a court in Iran jailed an Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi, for eight years on spying charges. Ms Saberi, 31, was sentenced after a secret one-day trial in Tehran."

Can Obama rise to these tragic times?

The Next Morning Café.


Settle in. Drink some coffee and chat under this picture of last night while we head out at dawn to encounter Madison — on the first Farmers' Market Saturday of the year.

Obama, warmly clasping hands with Hugo Chavez.

"Como Esta?"

"I want my son's sperm to live."

"For sperm to be viable, it must be harvested within 36 hours of death. When Supreme Court Justice Howard Sherman ruled, they had just four hours left....The race against time really began at 3:30 a.m. Thursday when [Johnny] Quintana, a seemingly healthy, 31-year-old concierge and auto mechanic, collapsed and died while watching an episode of NBC's 'The Chopping Block" on a computer with his brother. Through her tears, [his girlfriend Gisela] Marrero remembered their last talk about the future and immediately asked Jacobi [Medical Center] if it would be possible to remove and preserve Quintana's sperm. Under law, it takes a court order. So while Quintana's body was placed in a cooling room and an ice bag was placed on his testicles to preserve his potential progeny, Marrero set about preparing a funeral - and building a legal argument. Much of Thursday was spent frantically calling sperm banks, lawyers and arranging for an emergency hearing before Sherman...."

April 17, 2009

"American taxpayers are funding a lavishly appointed hospital in which hundreds of child molesters and rapists can idle their days away."

Most of the individuals housed at Coalinga refuse treatment. They think that they committed a crime, served their sentence, and are entitled to freedom. Almost no one gets out via therapy anyway, so why try?
The men can vote, take tennis lessons, watch their porn videos, throw parties, have sex with other men at the hospital, play bass in a jazz combo. They just can't leave.

More states have signed up to the Coalinga model - including, recently, New York. If a lifelong country club-style internment is the price of keeping paedophiles off the streets, many appear to be willing to pay it.
We're paying $200,000 a year, per person.

The Democratic health care sales pitch: "Our plan will deny you unnecessary treatments!"

Really, is it that bad?

Well, I've certainly always assumed that. I've looked upon the prospect of health care reform and thought the truth was: Let the government let you die.

Human lungs, breathing.

For the assessment of transplantability.

Via Metafilter.

IN THE COMMENTS: kynefski said:
Is this with or without fir trees?

"Susan Boyle: What's the big deal?"

"Not to be a grump, but am I the only one who finds this a little over-the-top and, frankly, a little condescending? Plenty of big-voiced PYTs sing their hearts out every week on American Idol (not to mention onstage in Broadway shows) without getting this kind of reaction. But Susan, because of her looks, because of the fact that people were snickering at her before she opened her mouth, becomes a sensation simply by being able to carry a tune. She has a decent voice, sure. But let's not get carried away. She's no LuPone, and her talent is only really shocking if you've already counted her out as a squawker on account of her granny hairdo and pre-fame Julia Roberts eyebrows. Once the element of surprise is gone, we're all going to be stuck with the fact that she's a capable, but by no means extraordinary singer. And is that really worth all the fuss?" Thank you, Adam Markovitz. You are not the only one.

"We started analyzing what it was that we were really missing. We were missing being around each other."

"As long as we can keep decreasing our bills we can keep making less money."

Trading money for time together. A trend? A good trend regardless of the condition of the economy? There's a lot you can say about this, but I'm taking it from a Peggy Noonan column, so let's see where Peggy goes with it:
The cities and suburbs of America are about to get rougher-looking. This will not be all bad. There will be a certain authenticity chic. Storefronts, pristine buildings—all will spend less on upkeep, and gleam less.

So will humans. People will be allowed to grow old again. There will be a certain liberation in this. There will be fewer facelifts and browlifts, less Botox, less dyed hair among both men and women. They will look more like people used to look, before perfection came in. Middle-aged bodies will be thicker and softer, with more maternal and paternal give. There will be fewer gyms and fewer trainers, but more walking. Gym machines produced the pumped and cut look. They won't be so affordable now....

This will be the return of an old WASP style: the good, frayed carpet; dogs that look like dogs and not a hairdo in a teacup....

More families will have to live together. More people will drink more regularly. Secret smoking will make a comeback as part of a return to simple pleasures. People will slow down. Mainstream religion will come back.... Bland affluence breeds fundamentalism. Bland affluence is over.
Everyone will become Peggy Noonan!

Axelrod: Obama "thought very long and hard about" about opening up the CIA interrogation memos.

"He ... consulted widely, because there were two principles at stake. One is … the sanctity of covert operations … and keeping faith with the people who do them, and the impact on national security, on the one hand. And the other was the law and his belief in transparency."

In the struggle between 2 principles, in the mind of Obama, government transparency won.
"It was a weighty decision. As with so many issues, there are competing points of view that flow from very genuine interests and concerns that are to be respected. And then the president has to synthesize all of it and make a decision that’s in the broad national interest. He’s been thinking about this for four weeks, really."
He's the decider.

ADDED: Former CIA Director Michal Hayden and former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey write:
Although evidence shows that the Army Field Manual, which is available online, is already used by al Qaeda for training purposes, it was certainly the president's right to suspend use of any technique. However, public disclosure of the OLC opinions, and thus of the techniques themselves, assures that terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the U.S. government could do to extract information from them, and can supplement their training accordingly and thus diminish the effectiveness of these techniques as they have the ones in the Army Field Manual....

The techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA. Of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were detained and questioned in the CIA program. Of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of the techniques discussed in these opinions. As already disclosed by Director Hayden, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.

Read the whole thing.

Transgender bathroom rights in New England.

The Act Relative to Gender Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes bill.
It is one thing for a person born as a man who has been surgically altered to become a woman to be allowed to use the women's bathroom. It is something else entirely to allow a man who has had nothing altered, but simply claims he "identifies" as a woman, to use the women's bathroom.

That is a recipe for embarrassment, fear and even confrontation — the kind of things most legislators would probably say they want to prevent. The New Hampshire House of Representatives, which passed a similar law recently, may find it has been hasty....

[T[he various definitions of transgender are so amorphous and broad. According to one, it is "a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative role (man or woman) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society."...

In short, it can mean virtually anything that doesn't fit so-called "normative" gender roles....

YouTube is adding a big page of full-length movies and TV shows.

Info about the new show.

To watch, go to Youtube dot com slash shows.

I check out the classic TV, hoping for my favorite show, "Dobie Gillis." It's not there (yet), but — check it out — here's the first episode of "I Spy." Not embeddable, but nice and sharp.

Very cool.

April 16, 2009

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

#1 on the list of most heartbreaking songs.

CNN reports.

For CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use the word "teabagging" in a sentence. Teabagging, for those who don't live in a frat house, refers to a sexual act involving part of the male genitalia and a second person's face or mouth.
So when the anti-tax "tea party" protests were held Wednesday across the country, cable anchors and guests -- who for weeks had all but ignored the story -- covered the protests by cracking a litany of barely concealed sexual references.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper interspersed "teabagging" references with analyst David Gergen's more staid commentary on how Republicans are still "searching for their voice." "It's hard to talk when you're teabagging," Cooper explained. Gergen laughed, but Cooper kept a straight face.

MSNBC's David Shuster weaved a tapestry of "Animal House" humor Monday as he filled in for Countdown host Keith Olbermann. The protests, he explained, amount to "Teabagging day for the right wing and they are going nuts for it."

He described the parties as simultaneously "full-throated" and "toothless," and continued: "They want to give President Obama a strong tongue-lashing and lick government spending." Shuster also noted how the protesters "whipped out" the demonstrations this past weekend.

Saying it's "time for reflection, not retribution," Obama rejects prosecuting CIA agents for interrogations.

At the same time, the Justice Department has released memos approving various harsh techniques.

Read the memos here.

ADDED: "You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect in the box with him. You would, however, place a harmless insect in the box. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a caterpillar in the box with him." (PDF.)

AND: Are Jane Hamsher and her friends standing there with torches and pitchforks?

That was recorded September 5, 2008. Watch the whole segment.

Is Rush Limbaugh really that hard to understand?

Some perfectly intelligent folks just don't see where the jokes are.

Why has "Crash" topped the Netflix most-rented list since 2005?

A strange phenomenon.

"It is so lush, it’s on the edge of becoming decadent."

"It’s extremely romantic, it’s very fragrant, and it’s extremely sensuous. It’s full of secret garden rooms and mystery."

20 million.

Some time today or so, this blog will receive its 20 millionth visitor. (That's visitor, not page view. I've got over 30 million page views already.)

Just letting you know. I don't have any special plans for celebrating. Not quite yet anyway.

UPDATE: The 20 millionth visitor came from Philadelphia at 9:50:00 pm Central Time. They arrived on "Is Rush Limbaugh really that hard to understand?" and left — 1 minute and 57 seconds later — from "Why has 'Crash' topped the Netflix most-rented list since 2005?" Was that you?

Whether that was you or not, I thank you for reading! I am endlessly happy to have readers — and commenters! I've gone 5 years, 3 months, and 3 days, posting every single day, and I have never lost the great, energizing feeling of knowing that someone is reading. In the beginning, I hoped to get to the level of 60 readers a day that my colleague had and looked with envy at another lawprof who'd worked his way up to 400 readers a day. I remember in my first year thinking how great it would be to hit the 1 million mark and not quite making it. Anyway, now I've hit 20 million. That's pretty cool! Thanks!

"Nintendo is, well, almost the most fun a kid can have."

(Via Bloggingheads.)


For a longer-lasting marriage.

Wouldn't it be cool if Andrew would openly explore what might be complex feelings about heterosexuals — especially women?

I said.

And he said...

I'm at work now, so I can't do much.. look up Sully's treatment of Condi Rice and the women of the Bush WH.

There might be something there we can use.

(Damn. I should have taken the day off.)

I love the smell of an intertube fight early in the morning.

Okay, kids. Marshall the evidence. Comb through Sullivan's blog for evidence of misogyny. I'm in a frontpaging mood! I'll even correct your typos (as I did for dear, sweet Lem).

Cats. (Kitties.)

Via Jessicat.

Via Inspired Magazine, which got me thinking about tumblelogs and amused me with the faux dirty screen.

See also The Social Bird icon set. Via Drawn!

Love the Muffbird:

By Noper.

"15 rules of blogging for myself."

An interesting — whoops! — and ambiguously titled list. (Could #16 be: Blog for yourself?)

"The homosexual agenda has been carefully crafted and packaged to change the way Americans think about homosexuality."

(Background on the video here.)

George Will is still ranting a rant that has been ranted for 50 years.

And he thinks we are ridiculous.


By the way, how can you rant about taste and aesthetics on a webpage as horrifically cluttered and blinkingly atrocious as Townhall.com?

"Your car already contains electronics that could report on, say, the quality of your emissions."

"How long before government knows not just where you went, but how fast and how much CO2 you vented in the process, and thanks to your email and phone records, whether you were visiting somebody or doing something that might warrant a further look?"

"Law clerk John Mize claimed that a pair of Funyuns, an onion-flavored snack food, resembled the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus."

"He auctioned the food off on eBay and the winning bidder offered $609."

Can you feel the optimism?

I'm just scanning this morning's bloggable stories over at Memeorandum, and I'm getting the feeling we've stepped way back from the brink of disaster.

Pirates, tea parties, Sarah Palin's diapers, "Nicolas Sarkozy puts Barack Obama in the doghouse," slightly dangerous meat ....

This blogger is breathing a sigh of relief!

"William T. Georgis's panic room anticipated impending global catastrophe with a twirling disco ball..."

"... automatic weapons (reproductions, of course) and a Russ Meyer movie."


What's in your panic room?

AND: If you think you need to "'be your truest self' in bed," what's in your bedroom? Bales of hay?

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To see a complete list of free videos click here.

For information on the full range of Pajamas TV offerings click here.

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I was going to check out Glenn Reynolds's video
SO I COVERED THE KNOXVILLE TEA PARTY LIVE, with an experimental (I kludged it together myself!) wireless broadband camera rig consisting of a JVC pro DV camera firewired into my Macbook Pro, then connecting to PJTV studios over iChat using a Verizon broadband card. It worked pretty well — but, mostly, I was just relieved that it worked.
— and I encountered that screen full of crap.

How can anyone possibly think it will work to combine amateur-style video with a pay-to-view scheme? Even if some of the material is free, how can they think we'll fiddle with figuring anything out to get to it? If a blog says "go here" to see video, in this day of YouTube, the click better go straight to a simple, easy-to-play video.

"We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it."

"But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

Texas governor, Rick Perry.

From the collection of Michael Jackson.

More here.

Nikon and Canon present mini SLRs.

And the Nikon — according to David Pogue — is way better.

2 idiots + YouTube = serious brand damage to Domino's.

The new risks of social media.

April 15, 2009

"'Fir tree' removed from man's lung."


"I could have turned everything into a crime scene like O.J., cutting everybody's throat."

"You live half a mile from the 20,000-square-foot home you can't go to anymore, you're driving through downtown Clearwater and see a 19-year-old boy driving your Escalade, and you know that a 19-year-old boy is sleeping in your bed, with your wife. I totally understand O.J. I get it."



Trademarking "Octomom."


"Of all the debates Sullivan has been embroiled in, his collision with the gay left is the hardest to reconstruct..."

"... because the gay-rights debate has been transformed in the two decades since, not least by his own writing."

From a long article about Andrew Sullivan, a good recounting of this part of his story, which if you don't like Sullivan or understand why I read him, you need to know:
Yet Sullivan wrote the first major article in America calling for gay people to be given the right to marry—and he was savaged by other gays. His talks were picketed by a group called the Lesbian Avengers, who waved signs with Sullivan’s head in the crosshairs of a gun. In gay bars he was denounced as a “collaborator” and physically attacked. He was anathemised by mainstream gay-rights organisations, who refused to engage with him. Why?

The Village Voice writer Richard Goldstein spoke for this tendency when he claimed that Sullivan was “promoting the bargain of assimilation. But this deal comes with a price. It requires gays to maintain the illusion that we’re just like straights… [But] we were interested in messing with the codes of sexuality.” By advocating marriage, Sullivan was opting into the very system gay people should destroy. He was just “Rush Limbaugh with monster pecs,” a self-hater who “would solve the faggot problem by urging gay men not to act like fags”.

Today, marriage is the Number One demand of the gay-rights movement. So why was Sullivan demonised for being the first to articulate it? He says now, haltingly: “It was the middle of a plague, we were all dying, and here’s this brash British guy who’s a Catholic and right-winger talking about something unfamiliar, that challenges their assumptions… [But] I was too narcissistic to realise that it wasn’t about me.”
If you happened to be gay back then, you were supposed to join the left and contribute to the enterprise of smashing conventions. Now, I think there still is an undercurrent of hating heterosexuals out there, and I often feel it coming from Andrew Sullivan, but I'm not going to elaborate on that now.

ADDED: Sullivan links, quotes my last sentence, and says:
Please do. You can't throw that out there with no back-up. I'm sorry if my perhaps uncharitable snark about her impending marriage offended her. Probably not my best moment. But the notion that I somehow "hate heterosexuals" is so nutty, not to say meaningless, that I don't know how to respond. I hate 97 percent of humanity? I hate my mum and dad and brother and sister? I hate my co-workers? Just because I think Sarah Palin is a whack-job makes me a heterophobe? Please, Ann. You don't campaign for twenty years to enter a heterosexual institution because you hate heterosexuals. You don't argue for social integration of gays and straights because you hate straights. You don't write a book urging that sexual orientation cease to be a defining social divide if you are a gay separatist. And it takes Goldstein-level dishonesty to say as much.
Well, Sullivan obviously knows what is giving me the feeling of heterophobia coming from him. His weird obsession with Sarah Palin's pregnancy and his reaction to my engagement. He never answered my question "what part of my experience deserves 'OMFG.'" He said:
And I'm all in favor of the right of straight bloggers to marry their straight commenters. It's a civil right. And more than I am currently allowed after living with my husband for almost five years.
And my response was:
This isn't about legal rights. This is about how individuals treat each other, and I want to know why you disrespected me. Explain why you linked to Pandagon's scurrilous OMFG, which, as you know, means "Oh, my fucking God." Is that the way you mean to speak to me? Is that the way you talk about God?
I never saw an answer to that. And as I said in this other post, I do not see how his reaction to me fits with his interest in extending marriage to gay couples:
I too think that Sullivan's reaction to me was detrimental to the cause of same-sex marriage (for which he has fought so admirably). Obviously, he had to have thought he was serving his cause by asserting that his 5-year relationship deserved more respect than mine, but he has a tragic blind spot. He was acting as though it's perfectly fine to trash someone else's relationship because it strikes you at a gut level as wrong. But that's how millions of people feel about his relationship! If we start arguing in that emotional mode, your cause is doomed.
I think Sullivan's reaction is probably complicated. He wants gay relationships to be accepted and given equal respect, and he seems angry that it hasn't happened yet. He struck out at me with derision and contempt and I felt the hostility. He couldn't explain it then, and he doesn't explain it now.

One can be outraged at an exclusion and still dislike the people who are included. For example, I would be outraged by a private club that barred women from membership but might simultaneously hate the men who actually were members. I'd want the right to join even if I didn't want to join, because I disapprove of the discrimination.

I know Sullivan takes strong positions and stands his ground, and I don't really expect him to do this, but I think it would be cool if he would openly explore what might be complex feelings about heterosexuals — especially women.

AND: "I'm sorry if my perhaps uncharitable snark about her impending marriage offended her" = a classic nonapology.

That divorce will cost $500 million.

But the damage to his hyper-Catholic reputation is so much worse.

"This happens all the time. You meet somebody, you have a relationship with that person, and, on paper, it just seems completely logical and right...

"... and it is right, and yet for some inexplicable reason, you go and gravitate toward the person who is consummately wrong for you, and makes your life into a hell. And that still attracts you more. And had you settled for the person who was right on paper, you indeed would not have been happy."

"This is a fun process, I'll say that," says Shepard Fairey.

The artist — famed for that Obama "Hope" image — laughs at efforts to prosecute him for vandalism.

"It hurts the party and it makes him look bad by dissing her a 3rd time."

"Him" = John McCain. "Her" = Sarah Palin.

"Right-wing polemicists today are shrieking in self-pitying protest over a new report from the Department of Homeland Security..."

"... sent to local police forces which warns of growing 'right-wing extremist activity.'"

Glenn Greenwald makes light of what really is a very strange government report. (Read the report. It's all about how criticizing the government creates a very dangerous climate.)

GG's point — and he does have a point in his too-verbose-to-quote text — is that the Bush administration started the spying on domestic political groups so it's too late for righties to convincingly bitch about it.

"I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy for Althouse because she hasn't done a single post on those phony teabagging parties. Thank you, Althouse."

So said Zachary Paul Sire in yesterday's Peach Blossom Café.

But why haven't I posted about the tea party protests? A longstanding issue in blogging is the interpretation of the failure to post. Too many people think the absence of posts indicates an opinion of mine that the topic isn't important, when only it means that I have nothing I want to say on the subject.

You know, despite what might look like massive evidence here on this blog, I'm not too interested in politics. And I've never been attracted to demonstrations and protests. I instinctively avert my eyes — unless I'm there in real life with a camera and I have some hope of catching a view of something quirky or weird. I've participated in exactly one demonstration in my entire life — back in 1970. I went along with chanting a chant — it happened to be "Open it up/Or shut it down" — and I felt rather embarrassed to be doing something completely out of character for me.

I'm aloof and bemused about things political, you see, and I have been for more decades than — in all likelihood — you've been alive.

But it is Tax Day. I'm not steamed about Tax Day. I've done my taxes. I minimized the stress by using Turbo Tax. I noted with a smidge of disgust that the PDF of my returns is 57 pages long, but I moved on.

Nevertheless, I see that Glenn Reynolds has an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about the tea parties, so here:
Today American taxpayers in more than 300 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies -- dubbed "tea parties" -- to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending....

The movement grew so fast that some bloggers at the Playboy Web site -- apparently unaware that we've entered the 21st century -- suggested that some secret organization must be behind all of this. But, in fact, today's technology means you don't need an organization...

There's good news and bad news in this phenomenon for establishment politicians. The good news for Republicans is that, while the Republican Party flounders in its response to the Obama presidency and its programs, millions of Americans are getting organized on their own. The bad news is that those Americans, despite their opposition to President Obama's policies, aren't especially friendly to the GOP....

This influx of new energy and new talent is likely to inject new life into small-government politics around the nation. The mainstream Republican Party still seems limp and disorganized. This grassroots effort may revitalize it. Or the tea-party movement may lead to a new third party that may replace the GOP, just as the GOP replaced the fractured and hapless Whigs.

"Artist Lishan Chang uses road kill in art to highlight tension between man, nature."

Artist receives publicity in Daily News to highlight tension between taste and my last shred of patience.

April 14, 2009

"This... is Quentin Tarantino." "And this... is 'American Idol.'"

I'm live-blogging this one, kids. Quentin Tarantino is guest-judging. I loved him in '04 — "JPL, you are the geekiest rock singer since Freddie and the Dreamers--all right?--but when you get into your geek mode--all right?--there's no one quite like you" — and I'm thrilled to see him back tonight.

7:01: Kara DioGuardi doesn't know what "provocative" means. And — wait — Tarantino isn't a guest judge. He's somehow "guiding" the contestants.

7:06: "The idea is to direct them."

7:07: Allison Iraheta is singing "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." (The theme is music from movies.) Q thinks she's gonna do a great job. She shrieks about watching "you" sleep. The judges talk about spicy sauce (because she's Hispanic?). Simon says she's the girls' only hope, disrespecting Lil.

7:15: Anoop Desai does "Everything I Do I Do For You," and I realize I've long thought of it as the same song as "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." Just move the words around a little and get your instant movie generic love song. Q wants Anoop to growl out the words. Q punches the air to demonstrate and, with that big jaw of his, he looks like Popeye. Anoop has a nice tone to his voice and he's modestly soulful.

7:20: Q only "got a taste" of Adam Lambert, who's doing "Born to Be Wild," and he's excited about tasting the whole thing. Adam is going to take the world in a love embrace. I just love this guy. Very thrilling and cool performance. (Hey, did I ever tell you I saw Steppenwolf in concert in 1970?) Simon tries to criticize him by saying "It was a little like watching the 'Rocky Horror' musical in parts." And Adam's all "I love that musical!"

7:29: "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." Incredible. I've also long thought of that as the same song as "Miss a Thing"/"Everything I Do." Is everything by Bryan Adams? Matt Giraud, the boring guy who's supposed to remind us of Justin Timberlake. Q tells him to enunciate. He's pretty bad.

7:39: Danny Gokey is doing "Endless Love" and Q's advice is to put his hands in his pockets. Which he isn't doing. Blah. I hate this. Maybe I just hate everything now that Adam is gone. Simon gives him a boost by alluding to Gokey's dead wife — the song must have been "hard" for him to sing.

7:49: Kris Allen is doing some song I've never heard of from a movie I didn't quite catch the name of. Something about a sinking boat. Q has nothing interesting to say to him. The judges are judging 2 at a time, which means we only get to hear from Simon with every other performer. I guess it would be too mean to just kick Kara off the show, but that would be a much better way to save time.

7:59: Lil Rounds — who I said they were overpromoting — is given the finale spot, and she's singing "The Rose" — which Trooper York said Allison should sing. Q tells her to commit to both parts of the song, not just the gospel half. Tedious. Simon tells her she's "getting this completely wrong." And he's been telling her that over and over and he's "getting frustrated." Lil talks back. "I put it in there" she raves as the TiVo times out. So that's the last thing a lot of people will hear. Maybe some will like the feistiness, but it's dangerous to sass the judges on this middle of the road show, even when what they're telling you is — as Simon said just now — that you're too middle of the road.

8:02: I'm predicting Matt is out.

Back at the Peach Blossom Café...


... we're feeling all warm and fuzzy.

"Hooroo, where's the poo?"

My favorite headline today.
ALAN Cooper specialises in ancient DNA. When he came to Australia in 2005 to be director of the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, he was keen to find and analyse the droppings of the country's megafauna, creatures such as giant marsupial diprotodon and the giant short-faced kangaroo, which became extinct more than 45,000 years ago.

"Black care never catches a rider whose pace is fast enough. You got that?"

Said wacky old Rod Blagojevich, who pleaded not guilty today.


Can someone tell me how they got that photograph at the link to look so surreal?

"Behind Eliot Spitzer's flaccid attempt at re-erecting his public persona..."

The Daily News goes all phallic for some reason.

CORRECTION: I mean The New York Post.

"The pirates could only lament their littleness befor[e] the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while."

"Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday."

Crashed into the Mercedes C-Class sedan, the Smart "went airborne and spun around one and a half times."

"[I]n a collision between cars of that weight, the sedan would slow down by 27 m.p.h. while the two-seater would change speed by 53 m.p.h., moving backward at 13 m.p.h."

IN THE EMAIL: A reader [Steve Barns] writes:
Here's a picture of two Smart cars sharing a single parking space. I took the picture in Paris a couple years ago.

In my spare time I am a volunteer firefighter/EMT. The first time I saw a Smart car in the US I was in the back of our rescue (big truck that carries extrication tools for cutting people out of crumpled cars). The driver who is a very experienced firefighter said, "Let's follow them, they're going to need us."

What could make an iPod Touch worth $2,100?

It's the special Prince edition — and it doesn't even have all of Prince's music in it.

"'I Have Nothing' always seems to work, and 'Against All Odds' just doesn't. Ever."

It's Songs From Movies night tonight on "American Idol," and Throwing Things has all sorts of advice for Adam Lambert et al.

"He had this one priceless gift. Which was a musical ability."

"And he was able to create out of this gift these extraordinary records, these grandiloquent dreams of romance and love and escape, and fling those back into the face of the world. It was flinging them at his father, who killed himself; flinging at the kids who wouldn't talk to him at school; flinging it at the record industry, who thought he was a madman. These records were Spector's revenge."

Unfortunately, Phil Spector was quite insane.

Insanity and insecurity haunted Spector's entire life. His older sister had to be institutionalized, and his father committed suicide when the boy was 9. The traumatized family moved from New York to Los Angeles. Spector's first hit, at age 18, was inspired by the inscription on his father's grave: "To Know Him Is to Love Him."

"Don't ask how we got a hold of Vanity Fair columnist and Mos Def-disser Christopher Hitchen's outgoing voicemail message."

"Just thank us and move along."

"If the graph showed that rising expenditures on computer technology had eaten up all the increase in Americans' paychecks..."

"... would we immediately declare a 'computer cost crisis' and demand that rising laptop expenditures be constrained?"

Kaus on heath care costs.

"I'm passing out."

Pay attention, Beck. He said he was passing out. Enough about the cancerous treasuries already.

And now you know the answer to the question what would it take for Althouse to blog about Glenn Beck. To be fair, his name does appear once in the Althouse archive, back in November 2008, as #23 on a list of right wingers loved by right-wing bloggers.

(I got a kick out of digging up that old post, for reasons revealed in an update I just added to it.)

About that business card of yours...

(Via Bloggingheads.)

"A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong, and they are being unfair to her."

Said Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia's grand mufti.

From an article about the court's refusal to annul the marriage of an 8-year-old girl on the petition of her mother, who is separated from her father, who arranged the marriage to a 47-year-old man to whom he was indebted. The man has agreed not to consummate the marriage until the girl reaches puberty and the girl is permitted to seek an annulment herself at that time.

"Disney Expert Uses Science to Draw Boy Viewers."

Now, there's an ambiguous headline, and the meaning I assumed is not at all the one in the article.

April 13, 2009


... wins.

"If the intention of the Obama administration is to tone down the confrontational rhetoric being used by our enemies..."

"...the effort is already reaping results. This week, in a pronounced shift from its usual theatrical style, the Taliban announced that it will no longer refer to its favorite method of murder as 'beheadings,' but will henceforth employ the expression 'cephalic attrition.' 'Flayings' -- a barbarously exotic style of execution that has been popular in this part of the world since before the time of Alexander -- will now be described as 'unsolicited epidermal reconfigurations.' In a similar vein, lopping off captives' arms will now be referred to as 'appendage furloughing,' while public floggings of teenaged girls will from here on out be spoken of as 'metajudicial interfacing.'"

Phil Spector guilty.

"The Los Angeles jury spent nearly nine days deliberating over the case in which the prosecution portrayed Spector, 68, as a misogynist with a history of pulling guns and 'playing Russian roulette with the lives of women' while drunk. Prosecutors said it was only by a miracle that Clarkson, star of the cult film Barbarian Queen, was the first to die.... 'By the grace of God, five other women got the empty chamber and lived to tell,' said the prosecutor, Truc Do. 'Lana just happened to be the sixth woman who got the bullet.'"

"Today there is much focus on our rights. Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights."

"I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances. Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?"

Said Justice Clarence Thomas, who admits to being "morose sometimes," who retreats to his basement to rewatch "Saving Private Ryan" when things get "particularly routine," and who gets down on his knees and prays for strength, wisdom, and courage — but not the right answer — to decide difficult cases.

The linked article is by Adam Liptak, who curiously fails to see the humor in Thomas's mention of the dormant commerce clause.

"I was startled by a paparazzo, who I quite understandably mistook for a zombie."

Woody Harrelson, explaining why he hit a guy.

"If you are a female about 5 feet 8 inches tall, 140 pounds and willing to stick your head in a toilet..."

"... a northern Wisconsin prosecutor wants your help in proving a high-profile homicide case."
[Douglas] Plude, 42, was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in 2002. But the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out the conviction last year after learning that an expert witness who conducted the first round of toilet tests exaggerated his credentials....

Prosecutors... say he poisoned her with a migraine drug and pushed her face into the toilet to drown her while she vomited.

Plude says his wife was depressed, committed suicide by taking the pills on her own and then drowned. He claims he found his wife slumped over the vomit-filled toilet and tried to perform CPR to keep her alive.

Prosecutors called on expert witness Saami Shaibani to shoot down Plude's story at the first trial.

Shaibani said that, based on his tests involving volunteers he positioned at a toilet, Plude had to be lying about the positions he claimed to have found his wife in. Genell Plude also could not have inhaled toilet water on her own and someone must have forced her head into the water, he testified.

Defense lawyers from across the country have derided the tests and call them an example of unfair expert testimony. One of them, North Carolina lawyer David Rudolf, who clashed with Shaibani in another case, laughed about the tests in an interview last year.

"He had women sticking their heads in toilets!" he said. "That's just not science. How do you peer review that? How do you test his conclusions?"
Is it impossible to drown in a toilet? How would you prove it?

"Does the United States really want to be a country that sends horses to slaughter, here or abroad?"

"Throughout history, horses have paid an excruciating price as we built our civilizations on their backs, forced them into our bloody wars and bestowed on them the agonizing fate of being the predominant mode of transportation. Humanity owes the horse, and a 21st-century horse-loving nation ought to ensure a life, and death, of dignity for these animals."

A letter to the editor. Here's the underlying news story about slaughtering horses:
An estimated 100,000 horses a year are shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, prompting Congress to consider a bill that would ban the sale and transport of horses for human consumption outside the country. But Arkansas, Georgia and eight other states are against such a ban, saying owners need affordable options for unwanted horses.

Last week in Montana, the Legislature approved a bill allowing the construction of horse-slaughter facilities....

“Bottom line is you have to separate the animal from the pet,” said State Representative Edward B. Butcher, a Republican who wrote the Montana bill.
“No one has to send a horse to a processing plant,” he added. “It’s just an option for horses that are unusable. And it’s much more humane than leaving them there to starve to death.”
There are a lot of issues here — including federalism, one of my favorite issues: Is this a matter that ought to be dealt with at the state or the national level?

But what I'm most interested in myself is the letter-writer's argument. Should we take a moral position on the individual animal in light of the historical contribution of the species? Is it okay to slaughter cattle — because they were always only about food — but not okay to slaughter horses — because of all the work they've done for us? Some horses have gone to battle, so all horses should be honored? Is this a good moral argument?

Should Congress scrutinize the aging Supreme Court Justices and lean on them to retire?

Paul D. Carrington thinks so:
What can we do about justices who cling to power that they are no longer completely fit to exercise? District and court of appeals judges are subject to Circuit Judicial Councils, which look into citizens’ grievances against their conduct (though not their specific rulings).

Councils may then investigate and conduct hearings in confidence, and then perhaps order that at least temporarily no further cases be assigned to the judge whose conduct is in question. A council may censure a judge either privately or by a public pronouncement, or request his retirement. If a judge rejects a council’s advice, it could issue a statement to be considered by the House of Representatives that might initiate an impeachment proceeding.

Congress could establish a very similar process to apply to the justices....

This is not to suggest that any of our current Supreme Court justices should be addressed by such a discipline committee. But the mere existence of such a process would serve to remind our mortal justices that they have a right to serve during good behavior, not for life.
I don't think this is such a great idea. We all can see what the Supreme Court Justices are doing. There's no need for a special council with the work of scrutinizing them. It would either be too political — pressuring Justices based on how much various politicians like or want to appear to like the outcomes they've voted for — or it would be suspected of being that.

All that is needed is more frank discussion of age and its effects on the Justices, who don't get enough real-life feedback. Take this article — "Ginsburg Gives No Hint Of Giving Up the Bench," by Robert Barnes — published yesterday in the Washington Post:
The symposium on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life on and before the Supreme Court had all the trappings of a grand finale: laudatory tributes, scholarly evaluations of her jurisprudence, a running theme about her love of opera and her unfulfilled desire to be a great diva.

Conspicuously missing was any mention of an exit from the stage.

If anything, Ginsburg's appearance at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law -- and at a host of other events since the 76-year-old justice had surgery in February to remove a cancerous pancreatic tumor -- seemed intended to send a contrary message....

In a video tribute shown at Friday's day-long symposium, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. offered "my warm congratulations on the occasion of your reaching the midpoint of your tenure."
The midpoint. Get it? Oh, isn't that cute? Nothing but warm support and encouragement for staying on as long as her heart desires it.

But I bet we can't stop talking like that. It would be mean. And it's wrong to discriminate based on age. Blah blah blah blah. Ugh! Maybe I should endorse Carrington's proposal!

"The disdain is palpable," Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes about Andrew Sullivan writing about me.

I don’t read Ms. Althouse... But I was arrested by Mr Sullivan’s response to what ought to be a celebration-worthy event — an engagement! —: his post was titled No Comment Possible.

Of course, saying “no comment possible” is, by itself, a ton of comment. In fact, Mr Sullivan comments further: “Ten days of emailing … and she was ready” (the slut!) and quotes another blog, the famously moderate and even-keeled Pandagon: “OMFG.”

The disdain is palpable.
Go to the link Gobry's story of meeting his fiancée on Facebook and his defense of on-line meetings. I'm continuing with the part about Sullivan. Gobry notes the "cognitive dissonance":
Mr Sullivan is, after all, one of the most talented and articulate proponents of same-sex marriage, and no doubt needs no education on the discrimination, both soft and hard, that can befall human beings based on their relationships. Yet he doesn’t miss a beat in responding derisively to Ms Althouse’s engagement even though… Who cares?

What should be treated as an unremarkable event, worthy of cheer if anything, is held up for derision, by someone who ought to know better. So I felt the need to speak up.
Yes, I too think that Sullivan's reaction to me was detrimental to the cause of same-sex marriage (for which he has fought so admirably). Obviously, he had to have thought he was serving his cause by asserting that his 5-year relationship deserved more respect than mine, but he has a tragic blind spot. He was acting as though it's perfectly fine to trash someone else's relationship because it strikes you at a gut level as wrong. But that's how millions of people feel about his relationship! If we start arguing in that emotional mode, your cause is doomed.

The first comment chez Gobry is quite something:
is this post about althouse or about you?

Look, it’s not that complicated. Online relationships are weird. Flirting between a blogger and a random commentator is double weird. Marriage after three dates is just fucking stupid. Toss in a raging storm of Ann Althouse hatred, plus Althouse’s own special brand of comic cluelessness, and you got a fun little story to pick over for a while. The bizzaro [sic] marriage is a final confirmation of what we all already knew, namely that this woman is batshit insane.

As for minding our own business? If Althouse didn’t want people to gossip about her private life, then maybe she shouldn’t have posted about it on the internet.
I love that Gobry responds right away in the next comment:
Actually, it’s about Sullivan and a few others.

And look, I disagree with you. Online relationships are no longer weird. Online dating services have been around for more than a decade now and countless people use them. And here in France, people have been using the Minitel to date since the 80s. Note that I haven’t used online dating services, but I honestly don’t see how anyone should find them weird in 2009.

Same thing with flirting between a blogger and a commentator. Why? I mean, honestly: why? Why is it weird? Why is it any weirder than, say, flirting with someone in line at Starbucks?

And marriage after three dates being “fucking stupid”… What particular expertise do you claim on the subject? I have friends who dated for like 5 years, moved in together, and then broke up after 3 weeks. That, to me, is fucking stupid. If a friend has met someone and wants to get engaged after three dates, I might be surprised and curious, but I haven’t been in his shoes, how the hell can I claim it’s stupid? I mean, seriously?

We’re talking about two private individuals we don’t know, who have made a decision that by definition none of us can understand because we haven’t been in their shoes and can’t understand their innermost motives, and yet we feel entitled to heap judgmental scorn on them.

That’s what’s pretty fucking stupid, in my opinion.
A good comment, from matoko_chan:
I thought Althouse’s love story was charming and romantic.

It is like a chaste victorian correspondence.

Since love and sexuality are initiated by brain function, what better way to really get to know someone, than as a pure intelligence scraped off of physical packaging and environmental distractions?

After 4 years of meeting minds, I think Ann Althouse and her sweetheart have a much better chance than most.

To give Andrew credit, I think he wonders if Althouse’s erstwhile suitor presented himself factually. After four years, I would believe the guy.

It is true that stalkers and predators roam the virtual spaces, but 4 years should be enough to reveal it.
Stalkers and predators are everywhere, on-line and off. You've got to look out. But who would spend 4 years writing comments on a blog to get at some 58-year-old lady in Madison, Wisconsin? You might as well worry that your spouse of 20 years is just faking the whole damned thing. Or that you yourself are a big empty fraud.

Obama's military victory.

Small, but nice.
[A] dramatic and successful rescue operation by U.S. Special Operations forces... left Obama with an early victory that could help build confidence in his ability to direct military actions abroad.

Throughout the past four days, White House officials played down Obama's role in the hostage drama. Until yesterday, he made no public statements about the pirates.

In fact, aides said yesterday, Obama had been briefed 17 times since he returned from his trip abroad, including several times from the White House Situation Room. And without giving too many details, senior White House officials made it clear that Obama had provided the authority for the rescue.

"The president's focus was on saving and protecting the life of the captain," one adviser said. Friday evening, after a National Security Council telephone update, Obama granted U.S. forces what aides called "the authority to use appropriate force to save the life of the captain." On Saturday at 9:20 a.m., Obama went further, giving authority to an "additional set of U.S. forces to engage in potential emergency actions."
Thanks to President Obama for the military victory and for giving us and himself confidence in his ability and willingness to use the military.
The operation pales in scope and complexity to the wars underway in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Obama's adversaries are unlikely to be mollified by his performance in a four-day hostage drama.
Hey, I'm mollified. (Or does that make me not an Obama adversary? I did vote for him, but I'm always dogging him for one thing or another.) Mollify me some more, Obama. Build on this victory.
Nonetheless, it may help to quell criticism leveled at Obama that he came to office as a Democratic antiwar candidate who could prove unwilling or unable to harness military might when necessary.
I'm quelled. I'm quelled. I'm mollified and I'm quelled. Now, more of the same, please.

April 12, 2009

Another Dog Café.

I love the big clunky paws, crossed so gracefully.


Talk about what you love. What you hate. What you want.

"I want this to be a leisurely, contemplative blog, not a 'Here's what's going on this second' blog. "

So said Jac, one year ago, repeated today as he celebrates his first bloggiversary. Congratulations! Nice list of your 10 favorite posts.

Lent over, blogging cockroach reemerges.

With Easter greetings:
happy easter
i love easter it s so hopeful
and the food isn t bad
mom and dad here at the house
are having some friends over
for easter dinner yay crumbs
and maybe lots of other goodies if mom
is sloppy as usual i adore hollandaise sauce
one of mom s good friends who s coming
is jewish and her husband is oirish
from the old sod plus there are the
mexican chinese jewish polish couple
and remember mom is french so
welcome to cambridge
which is identity enough for all the kids
who happily say grace over dinner
and love to hunt easter eggs
while i m under the fridge waiting
for hollandaise sauce from heaven
hoping they don t decide to look
too carefully for those eggs

Pirates defeated.

Captain freed.

"After the first lady drew criticism for looking angry..."

"... her high-arched eyebrows were reshaped with a softer arc that gave her a friendlier appearance."

Just one of the details in this story about why Michelle Obama has full-time makeup artist.

(I don't like the term "makeup artist." I'd like something more frank and descriptive. Maybe face wrangler. Something like that.)

Easter sunrise — Ohio.


Bo, the Portuguese water dog.

"... a gift by that Portuguese water dog-lovin' senator himself, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The girls named it Bo -- and let it be noted that you learned that here first. Malia and Sasha chose the name, because their cousins have a cat named Bo and because first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley, a source said. (Get it? Bo . . . Diddley?)"

So, fine, nice, he really did get the dog. A promise kept. Good.

But the interesting issue here is: How did Barrack Obama Michelle's dad get the nickname Diddley? The Urban Dictionary says:
1. diddley...

1) Word used in place of general explicit language in order to soften the emotion of the language.
2) A person acting in a silly manor
3) An endearing way to address a friend
4) An omen of good fashion
5) One's genitalia

1) "What the diddley?"
2) "She's quite the diddley."
3) "Diddley, I love you."
4) "May the diddley be with you."
5) *pokes you in the diddley*
I'm thinking An endearing way to address a friend, aren't you?

ADDED: I need to read more carefully!

Happy Easter.

Last night — baby chicks and ducks: