June 20, 2009

"I also know that Iran’s women stand in the vanguard. For days now, I’ve seen them urging less courageous men on."

Writes Roger Cohen in a vivid NYT op-ed:
I’ve seen them get beaten and return to the fray. “Why are you sitting there?” one shouted at a couple of men perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. “Get up! Get up!”

Another green-eyed woman, Mahin, aged 52, staggered into an alley clutching her face and in tears. Then, against the urging of those around her, she limped back into the crowd moving west toward Freedom Square. Cries of “Death to the dictator!” and “We want liberty!” accompanied her....

“Can’t the United Nations help us?” one woman asked me. I said I doubted that very much. “So,” she said, “we are on our own.”

"Bridal gown for sale."

A sad little homemade sign, seen today...


.... between the Bounce and the bathroom:


Should you write your own wedding vows?

"In the traditional vows, the institution — marriage — makes and forms the couple; the vows set out what marriage is and what it requires. In today's write-your-own or instant-download vows, the couple picks and chooses the promises they make to each other — they make their own definition. The more casual attitudes toward the vows are probably a symptom of our more casual attitude toward marriage."

I don't know about all that. What I don't like about couples writing their own vows is that the writing is probably going to be bad. Attention is drawn away from the awesome reality of vow-taking to the particular words these 2 characters thought were so profound. You have to think about how the vows compare to the traditional vows and, before you know it, you've gone all judgmental and then you feel like you're doubting the quality of the couple's relationship and that seems pretty shabby of you.

"The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights."

President Obama.

ADDED: I'm wondering what Bush would have said... and if perhaps Obama feels he needs to avoid saying what Bush would have said.

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade won't let me front-page him since we're going to get married and it's a Saturday night and we've each had a beer, so I need to tell you to go in there and read Part 1 and Part 2.

It's more dangerous to be skinny than fat.

We're talking death here, not your social life.

"'This movie is making me angry, very sad, hopeless, and dirty-feeling.'..."

"... This movie is making me angry, very sad, hopeless, and dirty-feeling.” As the onscreen obese gay man poked at the bloody intestines and told the fifth anal sex joke, I looked at my daughter, and we got up and walked out. I started crying in the parking lot as we walked to our car. I am not from this world. I am an alien."

Victoria Jackson emotes over a Judd Apatow movie. There's no real way to controvert crying in the parking lot.

I've twice had the experience of bursting into tears while trying to talk after seeing a movie, but both times it was after sitting through all of a movie that I very much admired. In both cases, I made myself cry by voicing a particular thought about the movie, and each time — the incidents were 20 years apart — it was that a man had truly loved a child. Odd that I happen to think of that today, on Father's Day Eve.

"There's a huge bug in my house. I want Obama to kill it for me."

So tweeted I, right after making the video you can view in the previous post, but that isn't the post that inspired Chip Ahoy to animate this:

The inspiration comes from "Found guilty of downloading 24 songs, a woman is fined $1,900,000. Chip says:
This RIAA case and the outrageous irrational verdict reminds me of Obama killing that fly. How so? — you ask. This is how.

AKA overkill.

Unlike President Obama, I cannot kill an insect.

Now, admittedly, it's not a fly. I won't say I wouldn't harm a fly. In fact, what the hell is that thing? What feelers! I've never seen such feelers!

IN THE COMMENTS: Peter Hoh said:

With those feelers, it must be some sort of empathy beetle.

At the Front Porch Café....


... I'm just leaving, but you can hang out here.

IN THE COMMENTS: bearbee said:
You're leaving?!!......and I'm tied up here?!!!
A note to dog-lovers: The picture was taken last Sunday afternoon, when I sat with her for hours. And we would never tie a dog up and leave it alone.

June 19, 2009

"Mr. Obama directly addressed one of the most delicate topics confronting black leaders..."

"... how much responsibility absent fathers bear for some of the intractable problems afflicting black American. He noted that more than half of all black children lie in single-parent households."

Well, the kids should take some responsibility, if half of them are lying.

Give this law student a million dollars.

A contracts case for your delectation:
During the course of the ["Dateline"] interview, [James] Mason said it was impossible for Serrano to have committed the murders, since it would have required his client to fly from Orlando to Atlanta, exit one of the busiest airports in the world, and arrive at a hotel five miles away in less than a half hour.

"I challenge anybody to show me, I'll pay them a million dollars if they can do it," said Mason on the show....

Dustin Kolodziej, an enterprising law student at South Texas College of Law, decided to take up Mason's challenge. In December, 2007, Kolodziej retraced Serrano's alleged route and made a video recording of the travel. He made the Orlando-to-Atlanta-hotel trip in under 28 minutes.

... Was Mason's "Dateline" exclamation a rhetorical flurry or an actual offer that created an implied oral contract when Kolodziej accepted?

Found guilty of downloading 24 songs, a woman is fined $1,900,000.

In federal court in Minnesota. That's $80,000 for each of her selections, works by Linkin Park, Gloria Estafan and so forth.

IN THE COMMENTS: Marcia said:
Now you see why we need empathetic judges.

To rein in the heartless corporate thugs that we call jurors.

"1 in 4 South African men... said they had raped someone, and nearly half of them admitted more than one attack."

"The study, by the country's Medical Research Council... said practices such as gang rape were common because they were considered a form of male bonding.... The study found that one in 10 men said they had been raped by other men. Some 3% of the men interviewed said they had coerced a man or a boy into sex."

"The Washington Post fires its best columnist."

The outcry.

Appeasing the gay folks.

They're not happy with the current level of hopey-change.

Let's show them they count. Let's count them.

The Japanese get the whole perfect American thing better than Americans."

"They understand that it’s an identifiable style around the world, this American look. We think we appreciate it, but we really don’t, not like they do."

The biker and the K-Y at the Flying J.

"My ear doctor told me to do this."


And good luck to Michael H on his cross-country trip. Click over to the main page and scroll.

June 18, 2009

On swatting a fly.

1. BBC gives you 10 ways to swat a fly — including a technique called The Barack.

2. PETA doesn't appreciate The Barack: "We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals. We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."

3. There's a song called "Never Swat a Fly." I'm familiar with the old Jim Kweskin version ("Don't do that, Delores/You should never swat a fly"), but here's the 1930 Abe Lyman version. Lyrics:
Never swat a fly, he may love another fly
He may sit with her and sigh the way I do with you
Never harm a flea, he may have a favorite she
That he bounces on his knee the way I do with you
Never stop a moth when he is gliding through the air
He may have a date in someone's flannel underwear
Ah! Ah! Be careful!
Never spray a nit with a great big can of Blitz
He may think some nit has it the way I do with you

"Joe Meek ... the most important British musician of the Sixties."

"[H]e was a backroom boffin who revolutionized sound, devising new recording techniques and crafting an endless flow of gloriously deranged experimental pop that gave him the right to regard himself as the true creator of the records he worked on. Telstar, by The Tornadoes, is still Meek's best-known single. It was the first record by a British act to reach the top of the American pop charts and, rather unexpectedly, was chosen by Margaret Thatcher as one of her Desert Island Discs. An ode to the dawn of the space age and to what Harold Wilson later called the 'white heat of technology', it's a dizzyingly exciting instrumental full of strange, unclassifiable effects: the rocket-launch sound at the beginning is said to be a toilet flushing in reverse; the sounds evoking radio signals were apparently produced by running a pencil around the rim of an ashtray."

"If you do not move strongly... you will be a president overseeing a depression that will ultimately be greater than the Great Depression."

What George W. Bush says he was told last fall. He says: "I firmly believe it was necessary to put money in our banks to make sure our financial system did not collapse. ... I did not want there to be bread lines, to be a great depression."

You can listen to all of Regina Spektor's new album, "Far."

Right here.
The sea is just a wetter version of the sky...

"The usually loquacious Obama has remained tongue-tied during this crisis in Iran..."

"... what surely represents one of its brightest and bravest moments in a generation. His reticence suggests two things about his administration. First, the Obama White House fails to grasp the enduring importance, and appeal, of America's democratic example. They are caught up in self-serving polling data about global anti-Americanism. Stop believing in America as the 'last best hope' of democratic reformers and you stop lending them moral and political support."

"I see too many people who have six-pack abs and a ruined back.”

The misunderstanding about the "core" fitness and what to do about it.

"I'm literally 400 yards in front of it... it's ripping the roof off that building.... debris is everywhere... swirling around...."

Watch how long it takes before the tornado chaser says "I'm way too close."

"I woke up when he was starting to tattoo my nose. ... I counted 56 stars, it is frightening."

"I explicitly said in my native tongue, French, and also in a little bit of English when he looked confused, that I wanted three little stars only near my left eye."

Don't fall asleep in the tattoo parlor. Don't rely on a verbal description of the tattoo you want when you are speaking a foreign language. Don't get tattoos when you are a teenager. Don't get tattoos on your face. Don't. Don't. Don't. Don't.....

And now a word from the tattoist:

Yikes! I know what you're thinking. Don't let anyone who looks like that do anything to your face. But wait. Listen to him:
"She was awake and looked into the mirror several times as the procedure was taking place... The trouble all started when she went home and her father and boyfriend threw a fit... They are saying things now like I doped her or hypnotised her. What rubbish. She asked for 56 stars and that's what she got."
This is a lawsuit, people.

The girl, Kimberley Vlaeminck is suing the small businessman, Rouslan Toumaniant. Who do you think is telling the truth?


Why would anyone ask for 56 stars? Maybe it's for the stars on the flag, one for each of the states, or maybe... I think... one left to go... one left to go...

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fell down on her way to the White House late Wednesday afternoon, fracturing her right elbow...."

Oh, no! What happened?

Was she confused and disoriented?

June 17, 2009

At the ball game.


"We are not suggesting that finger length measurements could replace SAT tests."

"Finger ratio provides us with an interesting insight into our innate abilities in key cognitive areas. We are also looking at how digit ratio relates to other behavioural issues, such as technophobia, and career paths. There is also interest in using digit ratio to identify developmental disorders, such as dyslexia, which can be defined in terms of literacy deficiencies."

Okay, everybody, let's see your fingies.

"A government not respecting people's vote has no religious or political legitimacy."

Said Iran's senior cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.
"No one in their right mind can believe" the official results from Friday's contest."... Montazeri accused the regime of handling Mousavi's charges of fraud and the massive protests of his backers "in the worst way possible."

..."I ask the police and army personals (personnel) not to 'sell their religion,' and beware that receiving orders will not excuse them before God."

The "oleophobic" screen...

... and other nice new iPhone things.

ADDED: You realize that "olephobic" means: I am appalled by your greasy face and fingers.

Structuring health care reform to incentivize unionization.

Devilishly devious!

Walpin? Forget Walpin!

Look! It's a wolphin!

(Thanks, former law student.)

He's been dazed and confused for so long in a spin/Wanted an Inspector General and got Gerald Walpin.

Barack Obama plays heavy metal.

"There was no confusion in my opening remarks at the meeting, in which I chastised the board for what appeared to be the board's refusal to perform its duty, independent of management, in overseeing what management was doing, particularly as it regards determining the merits of the two reports I had issued," Walpin says.

"I started out by chastising the board and telling them their duty was not just to accept what management says, but to make their independent analysis of those reports," Walpin continues. He says board members were "clearly angry at my temerity in telling them they should not be acting in the manner of many for-profit boards, which have been recently criticized." Walpin says there was "no confusion whatsoever about our two reports, and our clear findings, which were a major part of the meeting."

Obama: "I think the irony … is that I actually would like to see a relatively light touch when it comes to the government."

He's trying to mollify conservatives.

I think the irony... is that I now I'm wondering what would the heavy hand of Obama feel like?

"Sadly, and to my horror, I am divorcing."

"This was a 20-year partnership. My husband is a good man, though he did travel 20 weeks a year for work. I am a 47-year-old woman whose commitment to monogamy, at the very end, came unglued. This turn of events was a surprise. I don’t generally even enjoy men; I had an entirely manageable life and planned to go to my grave taking with me, as I do most nights to my bed, a glass of merlot and a good book. Cataclysmically changed, I disclosed everything. We cried, we rent our hair, we bewailed the fate of our children. And yet at the end of the day — literally during a five o’clock counseling appointment, as the golden late-afternoon sunlight spilled over the wall of Balinese masks — when given the final choice by our longtime family therapist, who stands in as our shaman, mother, or priest, I realized … no. Heart-shattering as this moment was — a gravestone sunk down on two decades of history — I would not be able to replace the romantic memory of my fellow transgressor with the more suitable image of my husband, which is what it would take in modern-therapy terms to knit our family’s domestic construct back together. In women’s-magazine parlance, I did not have the strength to 'work on' falling in love again in my marriage. And as Laura Kipnis railed in Against Love, and as everyone knows, Good relationships take work."

Read the whole thing. Sandra Tsing Loh is getting to the question: "Why do we still insist on marriage... isn’t the idea of lifelong marriage obsolete?"

Here's the accompanying — and perversely light-hearted — video.

And here's her "final piece of advice":
[A]void marriage — or you too may suffer the emotional pain, the humiliation, and the logistical difficulty, not to mention the expense, of breaking up a long-term union at midlife for something as demonstrably fleeting as love.
There's something confusing about the structure of that sentence. What does "for... love" refer to? The reason for marrying or the reason for breaking up? She does say that she had an affair. Did she leave in absurd pursuit of love or was the original idea of marrying foolish?

Also, I detect a contradictory message in that advice. "Or you too may suffer..." Don't we — many of us, most of us — read that and think: Yes, bring on the emotions. I know that is what is involved, and I say "yes" to all that. You could just as well have said avoid life — or you too may suffer. But we revolt against the serenity of death.

I say that, and yet, for many years, for more than 20 years, I choose the serenity of the partnerless life. Still, if you ask me today, my "final piece of advice" is: When you think of what you might lose if you do something, remember to take account of what you might lose if you don't do it.

During the campaign, Obama promised to "fight hard" for gay rights.

President Obama will sign a presidential memorandum on Wednesday to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, administration officials said Tuesday evening, but he will stop short of pledging full health insurance coverage....

Mr. Obama, in an Oval Office announcement, is expected to offer details about which benefits will be provided. It is the most significant statement he has made on gay issues, and it comes as he faces intense criticism from several gay rights leaders over what they suggest has been a failure to live up to campaign promises in the first months of his presidency....

... President Obama and his advisers have been reluctant to wade deeply into divisive issues like overturning a ban on openly gay military members or extending benefits to partners of government employees, fearful that such moves could overtake the administration’s broader agenda.

He has sent private assurances, several activists have said, that he intends to do more in coming years....
But let's be fair. Obama said he would "fight hard" for gay rights. What does it mean for Obama to "fight hard"? The man is famously cool. He is not belligerent. Here, perhaps, is our President, fighting hard:

June 16, 2009

Another day at the Peach Café.

We can talk about decline...


... and how that peach got wedged in the crotch of that tree...


Really, talk about anything.

"The president did not abide by the same law that he co-sponsored – and she wrote – about firing Inspectors General."

She = Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

The beautiful endangered butterfly survives by imitating an immature red ant.

"[The newly hatched caterpillars] secrete chemicals and even make noises that make the red ants believe they are wayward grubs. The ants then mistakenly carry the caterpillars to their underground homes and keep looking after them even though the adopted intruders gobble ant grubs for 10 months before forming a chrysalis and flying away as adult butterflies."

The beautiful ones are so cruel...

"One can certainly justify [detaining suspected enemy combatants and giving them different process] under precedents and current law."

Said Sonia Sotomayor in a speech in 2004 (before the Supreme Court decided the Hamdi and Padilla cases).

The same speech showed an appreciation for racial colorblindness:
She observed that anyone in the world watching television on Sept. 11, 2001, "could not miss the diversity of colors and hues" of the New Yorkers scrambling to evacuate the destruction of the World Trade Center. She said "on September 11, we stood as Americans and as human beings and saw past our ethnic differences and responded to a common threat with a complete giving of heart, soul and for some, of life."

The Creation of Cat.


Hat tip, Michelangelo:

"What I will repeat... is that when I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed..."

"... wherever that takes place, it is of concern to me, and it's of concern to the American people. That is not how governments should interact with their people. And my hope is that the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices, to express their aspirations."

Is Obama bland enough? Do you think he could be blander?

ADDED: The State Department asked Twitter to delay taking the site off-line for an upgrade, given its importance as a means of communication among the protesters in Iran. Twitter postponed the upgrade until after midnight, Iran time.

AND: The best ways for us on-line to help the protesters.

AND: From Rush Limbaugh today:
He says, "It's not productive given the history of US-Iranian relations to be seen as meddling, the US president meddling in Iranian elections"? What did he do last Friday when the exit poll data showed that the challenger was going to win? He went out there and started claiming credit for it because of his Cairo speech! He was meddling even then, claiming credit for this massive result....

Our Leader...

... leads the way.

"As the national debate on health care reform intensifies, I am deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC's astonishing decision..."

"... to exclude opposing voices on this critical issue on June 24, 2009. Next Wednesday, ABC News will air a primetime health care reform 'town hall' at the White House with President Barack Obama. In addition, according to an ABC News report, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, WORLD NEWS, NIGHTLINE and ABC’s web news 'will all feature special programming on the president’s health care agenda.' This does not include the promotion, over the next 9 days, the president’s health care agenda will receive on ABC News programming."

"You can't tell me that all these free love hippie dippie types wouldn't embrace some sort of SOMA type narcotic in their later years."

"Just have them sign a waiver, after the age of 70, you're on your own, or the government will provide five years worth of SOMA, and maybe Viagra and prostitutes upon request, and I'm sure plenty of Boomers would willingly hit the death booths at the age of 75 after five solid years of drug-fueled orgiastic living (just don't open any boomer-orgy centers near me, like sewage treatment, it's something that has to be done, you just don't want to live by or downwind from it). The cost savings would be huge, no more retirees living 30 and 40 years on Social Security into their 90s and 100s. Who says Huxley's vision has to be a 'dystopia'?"

Said XWL today, in the nether regions of the comments thread to yesterday's ObamaCare post.

Animals seen on/from the front porch yesterday.

Arachnid #1:


Arachnid #2:




Palin to Letterman: Evolve! You damned dirty ape!

Letterman "apologized," so now Sarah Palin "accepts" the apology — like this:
"Of course it's accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve....

"Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. And this is all thanks to our U.S. military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America's right to free speech — in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect."
LOL. I love the way our U.S. military women and men horned in on the big foofaraw.

By the way, it's disrespect that needs to be protected by rights. If what you want is wall-to-wall respectful discourse, fuck rights.

(Photoshop request: Unevolved Letterman — merge a photo of the lecherous geezer talk-show host with the face of an ape or caveman.)

ADDED: XWL has pics.

K-Lo leaves NRO and TBogg makes an anti-Hispanic joke about it.

That's the way I read this.


Gawker speculates that National Review is hurting for cash after the death of William F. Buckley.


Sadly, No! goes with the sexist approach to the news.

"She’s perceived as the succubus to Bernie’s incubus."

The tribulations of the wife of a very rich criminal.

"I believe in the principle of free speech but..."

Consider this post a kick in the ass to everyone who says that!

"The families in will be trapped inside the 20' maximum security-looking wall for about three weeks."

A new reality show called "Block Party."

I happen to be reading a book that is in part about how suburbanites hole up in their individual houses and don't interact in the ways that people used to do when they were compressed in old-time city neighborhoods, so it amuses me to see a reality show that's about forcing them to do what the normal structure of their community allows them to avoid.

More about the book later. (I'm recording a diavlog with the author which I'll link to in due time.)

A brilliant Venn diagram.

From Bud Caddell (via Jac).

June 15, 2009

The newer, bigger Letterman apology.

There. Are you satisfied now?

"You'd think the case for 'choice' at the end of life might be stronger..."

"... since the life at stake is likely to be able to participate in making that choice."

Writes Mickey Kaus, fretting about the end-of-life decisions the government may very well take over for us under ObamaCare.

Now, as you may know, the Supreme Court denied the existence of a federal constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, but the opinion (by Chief Justice Rehnquist) shows deep concern for the interests of the individual who might suffer from untreated depression or who might be vulnerable to "abuse, neglect, and mistakes." The Court worried that family and medical personnel might subtly pressure someone to choose death to save money, and that, even uncoerced, some people might think it is the decent, honorable choice to spare their families the cost of medical care.

But all of that supports Kaus's point. It's one thing to deny the choice to die, quite another to deny the choice to live. The individual may not have a right to get killed, because the state's interest in protecting people from coercion and abuse is a good one. But Kaus is concerned about a government that wants you dead — perhaps not by actively offing you, but by maintaining full control over the medical treatments you need in order to fend off death.

"Cash to become extinct as chips take off."

A headline from Australia that baffled me a little. The "chips" are computer chips, and the prediction is that your portable electronic device — basically, your phone — will become your means of paying for everything.

This is all very nice, but my iPhone is already making me nervous. I won't leave my passwords in it for fear of theft. Can they please figure out how to make the thing work only when I'm touching it?

(And, yes, I know about passcodes, but: 1. I don't want to be bothered entering a code every time I use the phone, and 2. Thieves sometimes snatch the phone right out of your hand while you're using it.)

And now a few words...

... from my ex.

"Hundreds of thousands of opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defied an Interior Ministry ban Monday and streamed into central Tehran..."

"... to cheer their pro-reform leader in his first public appearance since elections that he alleges were marred by fraud."

"If The New York Times ever strikes you as an abstruse glut of antediluvian perorations..."

"... if the newspaper’s profligacy of neologisms and shibboleths ever set off apoplectic paroxysms in you, if it all seems a bit recondite, here’s a reason to be sanguine: The Times has great data on the words that send readers in search of a dictionary."

(Via Metafilter.)

Liberal, Conservative, Moderate — put these types in rank order, by percentage of Americans, according to a new Gallup poll.

Conservative (40%), Moderate (35%), Liberal (21%).

If the GOP can't figure out how to use this, it is truly pathetic. But what would work better — defining and promoting the conservative brand or signaling moderation? Looking at the last election, I'd say: Be forthrightly conservative. Tell us what it is and stand by it. You only need to win over less than a third of the moderates: Convince us it's better to trust conservatives than liberals. The Obama administration and Congress are giving you so much material to work that theme.


Even divided by gender,"liberal" comes in last:

Oh, but we women do have that urge toward moderation — toward fence-straddling and splitting the difference that makes you men think we lack intellectual development.

Let me call your attention to my old "How McCain Lost Me" post. I analyzed what tipped me toward Obama, and one of my 4 reasons was: "[McCain] never defined himself as a principled conservative." Think about it.

"I think it’s a joke. I’ve tried to schedule furlough time and was denied because we’re short-staffed."

Working through the "furlough," which, it turns out, is another name for pay cut. Does the euphemism soften the blow? I don't think so:
Robert Bruno, a professor of labor relations at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said the furlough experience could be traumatic.

“A furlough is a dangerous and risky bet because it severs the relationship between an employee and their compensation,” Dr. Bruno said. “A worker’s emotional reaction to a furlough takes control of rational thought.”

"Folks — I think I have never commented here before, but I must say — some of you are amazing troll feeders."

"Those of you who attempt to engage [X] are giving him exactly what he wants. It is troll heaven! As long as it goes on, he can preen that he is 'correcting' all the wingnuts — you can all aim arguments, whether well-thought-out arguments or hasty blurts, it doesn't matter — why would he change his mind or tactics? Do you expect a conversion ('Oh, my God, you are all right! What a fool I've been')? Real trolls are like one of those Star Trek creatures or the "Id monster" from "Forbidden Planet" — beings who feed on negative energy and get stronger. It really is possible not to respond."

Thanks, Wally. I've said it myself any number of times. Well, not with the science fiction allusions (for which I thank you).

(Wally Ballou's comment appears after the 200th comment on the linked post, so if you want to see it, you have to click on "post a comment" and then "newer." A hassle, isn't it? But there wouldn't be all those comments if it weren't for all that troll feeding. But I'm not going to tell you to stop, because I already told you for the last time.)


The case that won the empathy prize.

Context of the competition.

The winner.

"A network of 30 'phantom' companies, some complete with logos and websites, to obscure the true nature of the movie he was making."

Assuming you're a lawyer, wouldn't you love to do the legal work that supports Sacha Baron Cohen?

The nature of the challenging and complicated work has come to light in the course of a lawsuit that may or may not be trumped up:
The court documents say the comedian has established “greater than 30 fraudulent corporations that set-up websites and mission statements to mislead individuals form (sic) discovering the true identity and purpose of the requested appearance by... Sacha Baron Cohen”.

At least 29 company name registrations linked to the film have been filed with the LA County Clerk, all in 2007. Many of them give the appearance of being German or Swiss broadcasting firms, such as Deutsches Modefernsehen and Deutsches Unterhaltungsfernsehen.

Among the firms that seems to have been most used as a front for the film is Amesbury Chase.
Its website is now blank, but before being removed, it described Amesbury Chase as a production company offering “world class facilities, and state-of-the art equipment to help you create dynamic and compelling content”.

Its address was a mailbox on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. At least three other “front companies” – Chromium Films, Cold Stream Productions and Coral Blue Productions – used the same address and phone number and had identical websites.

Production staff working on the film used the companies as fronts to contact several organisations and individuals to persuade them to take part in the documentary they were filming, often pretending it was a European production looking at American culture.

Among those taken in were the Alabama National Guard, which was contacted by staff from Amesbury Chase to say they were an affiliate of a German TV station shooting a documentary on what it was like to be in officer recruitment school. Baron Cohen was allowed to train alongside new recruits and was filmed changing into uniform, exposing a thong he was wearing.
Or would you hate to use your legal skills to trick people like this? Come on, I said assuming you're a lawyer.

"Happy Jack."

I'm listening to "Happy Jack" this morning, mainly because I was just listening to The Beach Boys' "You're So Good to Me" and the "la la la la" in "Good" reminded me of the "la la la la/lap lap lap lap" in "Jack." Then, I realized I'd never been able to hear the lyrics properly in "Happy Jack" and this was my big opportunity to check the lyrics on line. Here. But are those the right words? I always thought Happy Jack was a dog, and I never heard anything about a donkey.

Now, quick! Eat all the strawberry shortcake before the cops come!

June 14, 2009


A trending topic in Twitter.

Daniel Terdiman reports:
For most of Saturday, CNN.com had no stories about the massive protests on behalf of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who was reported by the Iranian government to have lost to the sitting president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The widespread street clashes--nearly unheard of in the tightly controlled Iran--reflected popular belief that the election had been rigged, a sentiment that was even echoed, to some extent, by the U.S. government Saturday....

Increasingly, Twitter has become the go-to source for breaking news about any kind of notable event, be it an earthquake, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, or post-election riots in Tehran. Yet many Twitter users found CNN's lack of attention to what could end up being one of the biggest stories in years appalling.....

Gender difference feels good in Paris.

Nina says:
[A]t least in Paris (in my opinion), women of all shapes and sizes and importantly, of all ages, seem to understand their beauty and valor, their unique beauty and their unique valor. They walk with pride (and so I, too, walk with pride). As if they know they’re being watched, admired, respected. For what they bring to the table.
Read the whole thing to get the hang of the argument, which is made impressionistically, with pictures interspersed. I especially like this one:

DSC03958_2, originally uploaded by Nina Camic.

You don't normally see faces all lined up nicely like that in real life. In movie posters you see it. To great excess. But try actually getting a candid shot of strangers lined up in an interesting environment. Not easy!

Hey! I didn't know...

... that the old Audible Althouse podcasts were still accessible on line. Just happened to go looking after what Reader_Iam said in the Tick Flick comments. Lord knows what all is in there!

Keep reading from that second link and you'll see that Titus throws down the gauntlet about gay men in Madison, Wisconsin. And then Chip Ahoy gets going on the subject of ticks, politicks, and — why not? — dung beetles, culminating in this:

I love tick flicks!

Let's read Andrew Sullivan's new Sarah Palin post.

Here's the post:
It's getting worse. This is a classic:
"The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show. Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman," PalinPAC spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said Wednesday.
So Letterman is a child abuser for making a tasteless joke?
Sullivan seems to miss that Stapleton just made a child-rape joke. It's a joke! Well, it's a joke is not an apt excuse — is it? — when the joke is supposed to work based on a shared belief about the butt of it.

Stapleton's joke depends on seeing Letterman as someone who's enthused about the rape of children — or at least the children of politicians we don't like. By the same token, Letterman's joke worked to the extent that the audience shares the belief that Palin's daughter is a big slut.

Neither joke is any damned good. Letterman is a creep for making a girl the butt of his joke, and Stapleton is an idiot for trying to show that she can joke too and cranking out another dose of child-rape humor.
But the surrealism and narcissism of the Wasilla nutcase is what stands out:
"First, remember in the campaign, Barack Obama said, 'Family's off limits. You don't talk about my family.' "And the candidate who must be obeyed, everybody adhered to that and they did leave his family alone. They haven't done that on the other side of the ticket and it has continued to this day so that's a political double standard."
So brandishing a special needs infant as a campaign prop was putting your family off-limits? Pushing your own daughter into the klieglights to divert attention from your own fantastic lies is family-protective? Pushing Bristol Palin into an absurd abstinence campaign to gin up support from the Christianist right is looking after your kids? Palin reaps what she sows. And she clings to any whisp of victimhood like the attention-starved celebreality star she really is.
Now, this is absurd. Nearly all politicians display their families. Do they brandish them? Brandish means to shake or wave (as a weapon) menacingly/to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner. Occasionally, one reads of some criminal swinging a baby around like a cudgel, but with politicians, the displaying of the family is non-aggressive and without any weapon connotations. Obama displayed and continues to display Sasha and Malia in the conventional political way, and I'm sure Sullivan would be steamed if anyone mocked them or said anything sexual about them.

Bristol Palin's abstinence effort seems pretty silly to me too, but there's no reason to view that as opening her up to all sorts of vicious mockery. She found herself in an awfully uncomfortable spot. It's embarrassing enough for a teenager to become pregnant by accident, but to endure this in the crossfire of a political campaign had to be excruciating. But she put up with it somehow, didn't take the out of abortion, kept smiling, and tried to turn herself into a good lesson for others. How is this sowing something that she deserves to reap?

Or — oh — it's Palin who reaps what she sows. Is the girl not a person worthy of any regard? What did the girl do? "Family's off limits. You don't talk about my family." Obama said that. It was intended to bind his harshest opponents to a standard of behavior. Sullivan offers absolutely no reason why the same principle does not protect Palin's family.

And why should the governor of a state be called an "attention-starved celebreality star"? Is it because you don't respect her as a politician? You might call everyone with the nerve to run for President/Vice President an attention-starved celebreality star, but the fact is you don't. Apparently, it's because she's got kids who do things that you think we can sit back and view as objects of idle amusement. If anyone is to be a politician — in your nasty little world — their kids better toe the line and stay perfectly prim and healthy and smart (or hide).

"The bicycle, quite literally, paved the road for automobiles."

Is this true?
The explosive popularity of the human-powered, two-wheeled vehicle sparked road construction across the Western world’s cities. The League of American Wheelmen was a major vector for the political will necessary to build better roads with more than one million members (out of a mere 75 million people) at its peak. Sure they engaged in silliness like racing and bicycle polo (!) but at heart, the group was a potent, progressive social force that inadvertently helped bring about its own end by getting roads paved, thus making long distance “touring” possible in automobiles.

"The reckless fiscal policies of the past have left us in a very deep hole."

"And digging our way out of it will take time, patience and some tough choices."

Obama has such a wry sense of humor!

This is exactly the sort of statement I was referring to in another thread: immature and unPresidential. Grow up, you big pussy. You wanted the job, now quit whining and do it.

(Sorry for the language, I just watched Gran Torino last night.)
And Sy said:
I guess Obama have not heard the old adage ...if you are in a hole, stop digging.
Yeah. How do you dig your way out of a hole?