June 27, 2009

"Althouse of the lily pond."

A Chip Ahoy photoshop:
No, I am not annoyed the death of Michael Jackson has overshadowed the protests in Iran because in my world the life and death of Jackson are more immediate and important than the political life of that nation of wankers who brought that despicable government upon themselves and in so doing inflicted it upon all the rest of us. I care not at all their access to technology is being denied by that same government because it was they who rejected the pace of modernization to begin with and demonized our culture in the process, a state of affairs in which they, as a whole, persist. So bite me....

To celebrate my lack of annoyance I've Photoshopped Althouse of the lily pond by way of distraction.

Mickey Kaus celebrates 10 years of blogging with a "Greatest Hits" post.


When you go in to give testimony to the police about a murder, when is it a good idea to wear a live baby squirrel in your cleavage?

"At one point she bent over and the squirrel popped out. The woman was not fazed and gently pushed the squirrel back inside her shirt."

When should you testify with a squirrel in your cleavage?
When you're telling the truth, and you want to be believed.
When you're lying, and you don't want to be believed.
When you're telling the truth, and you don't want to be believed.
When you're lying, and you want to be believed.
pollcode.com free polls

IN THE COMMENTS: Former law student notes the etymology of "testimony." It's from testicles. So you might re-think where to put the baby squirrel. But for us ladies, we know where to put the squirrel, and we don't want to testify anymore. From now on, let's give cleavagery.

I love these scribbly tattoos!

Much more — from Yann Travaille — here. (Warning: some clickable thumbnail-sized photos have naked breasts.)(Via Neatorama.)

Do these tattoos remind me of death? No, they remind me of taking delightful chances.

Are you annoyed at the way the death of Michael Jackson has overshadowed the protests in Iran?

This may help.

IN THE COMMENTS: Titus says:
I am annoyed the way Michael Jackson's death overshadowed Mark Sanford.

I want more Mark Sanford.

I want more previous video clips of Mark Sanford moralizing and passing judgment on others. I want 24 hour Mark Sanford and I want it now....

I want to hear Mark Sanford bitching about not taking stimulus money but than using tax payer money to fuck in Argentina... with someone other than his wife.

At the Lily Pad Café...


... tread lightly!

Yesterday's photograph, explained.

The photo:



[HD video here.]

"Um. Oh, well. I guess journalists can be devoutly religious..."

AND: Elsewhere, I said: Full context of that clip to be provided soon enough. For now, here's the Alexander Pope poem echoed in what I said:
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of Mankind is Man. Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state...
This isthmus of a middle state? Why, he must mean Madison, Wisconsin, which, having scanned the internet too long, I should now properly study....

"Socialized medicine redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in all the wrong ways..."

"... and, if you cross that bridge, it's all but impossible to go back. So, if ever there were a season for GOP philanderers not to unpeel their bananas, this summer is it."

Mark Steyn opines on Gov. Sanford's unfortunate foray into Argentina and more.

"The silver glove couldn't be traced to some unseemly beginning — like the droopy jeans that rappers picked up from prisoners..."

"... who'd been forced to give up their belts. It wasn't uncomfortably androgynous in the manner of guyliner. The single glove was odd and startling -- and somehow so right. It had Mick Jagger panache and James Brown flamboyance, but paired with the fedora and the cropped pants -- and that glorious moonwalk -- it also echoed the dapper style of such men as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, men whose graceful movements Jackson admired. If Jackson was forming a bridge between rock-and-roll and rhythm and blues in his music, he was evoking every era between MGM's Tinseltown and MTV's Hollywood in his costumes."

Robin Givhan analyzes the fashion.

When Chief Justice John Roberts was a vox clamans in terris... about Michael Jackson.

"I recognize that I am something of a vox clamans in terris in this area, but enough is enough. The Office of Presidential Correspondence is not yet an adjunct of Michael Jackson’s PR firm. 'Billboard' can quite adequately cover the event by reproducing the award citation and/or reporting the President’s remarks. (As you know, there is very little to report about Mr. Jackson’s remarks.) There is absolutely no need for an additional presidential message. A memorandum for Presidential Correspondence objecting to the letter is attached for your review and signature."

Ha ha ha. What a character! The wise Latin! The voice of a terrified clam!

And later:
I hate to sound like one of Mr. Jackson’s records, constantly repeating the same refrain, but I recommend that we not approve this letter. Sometimes people need to be reminded of the obvious: whatever its status as a cultural phenomenon, the Jackson concert tour is a massive commercial undertaking. The tour will do quite well financially by coming to Washington, and there is no need for the President to applaud such enlightened self-interest. Frankly, I find the obsequious attitude of some members of the White House staff toward Mr. Jackson’s attendants, and the fawning posture they would have the President of the United States adopt, more than a little embarrassing.

It is also important to consider the precedent that would be set by such a letter. In today’s Post there were already reports that some youngsters were turning away from Mr. Jackson in favor of a newcomer who goes by the name “Prince,” and is apparently planning a Washington concert. Will he receive a Presidential letter? How will we decide which performers do and which do not?
A newcomer who goes by the name "Prince." Yeah, don't want the Prez bowing down to bogus royalty.

And I love the resistance to ad hoc decisionmaking and the demand for neutral rules of general applicability. Put that man on the Supreme Court!

Equal justice under law.

And still more Roberts vox clamans in the White House:
I recommend that no such letter be sent. The Jackson tour, whatever stature it may have attained as a cultural phenomenon, is a massive commercial undertaking. The visit of the tour to Washington was not an eleemosynary gesture; it was a calculated commercial decision that does not warrant gratitude from our Nation’s Chief Executive. Such a letter would also create a bad precedent, as other popular performers would either expect or demand similar treatment. Why, for example, was no letter sent to Mr. Bruce Springsteen, whose patriotic tour recently visited the area? Finally, the President, in my view, has done quite enough in the way of thanking and congratulating the Jacksons, and anything more would begin to look like unbecoming fawning.
Patriotic? I see the dawn's early light of a non-neutral rule.

Undoubtedly, Roberts was thinking of the song "Born in the U.S.A.," which was popular at the time. Yet a close reading of the text — as opposed to an empathetic response to the sound of the repetitious refrain — would show that it's not at all patriotic, something conservatives seem to have had a hell of a time figuring out:
[T]he widely-read conservative columnist George Will, after attending a show, published on September 13, 1984 a piece entitled "A Yankee Doodle Springsteen" in which he praised Springsteen as an exemplar of classic American values. He wrote: "I have not got a clue about Springsteen's politics, if any, but flags get waved at his concerts while he sings songs about hard times. He is no whiner, and the recitation of closed factories and other problems always seems punctuated by a grand, cheerful affirmation: 'Born in the U.S.A.!'" The 1984 presidential campaign was in full stride at the time, and Will had connections to President Ronald Reagan's re-election organization. Will thought that Springsteen might endorse Reagan, and got the notion pushed up to high-level Reagan advisor Michael Deaver's office. Those staffers made inquiries to Springsteen's management which were politely rebuffed.

Nevertheless, on September 19, 1984, at a campaign stop in Hammonton, New Jersey, Reagan added the following to his usual stump speech:
"America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about."
The campaign press immediately expressed skepticism that Reagan knew anything about Springsteen, and asked what his favorite Springsteen song was; "Born to Run" was the tardy response from staffers.
Just picture Ronnie and Nancy out riding through mansions of glory in suicide machines, chrome-wheeled, fuel injected and stepping out over the line. Did you know Washington, D.C. rips the bones from your back? Well, I guess it does!


By the way, Michael Jackson and John Roberts were/are both Hoosiers. I love Hoosiers. Nobody has to be ashamed of being a Hoosier:
"Hoosiers do all right. Lowe and I have been around the world twice, and everywhere we went we found Hoosiers in charge of everything.... Lincoln was a Hoosier, too. He grew up in Spencer County.... I don't know what it is about Hoosiers... but they've sure got something. If somebody was to make a list, they'd be amazed... We Hoosiers got to stick together... Whenever I meet a young Hoosier, I tell them, 'You call me Mom.'"

"Agreeing with conclusions reached years earlier by the Bush administration: As many as 90 detainees cannot be charged or released."

After promising to close Guantanamo, Obama is facing reality:
On the day Obama took office, 242 men were imprisoned at Guantanamo. In his May speech, the president outlined five strategies the administration would use to deal with them: criminal trials, revamped military tribunals, transfers to other countries, releases and continued detention.

Since the inauguration, 11 detainees have been released or transferred, one prisoner committed suicide, and one was moved to New York to face terrorism charges in federal court.

Administration officials said the cases of about half of the remaining 229 detainees have been reviewed for prosecution or release. Two officials involved in a Justice Department review of possible prosecutions said the administration is strongly considering criminal charges in federal court for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and three other detainees accused of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The other half of the cases, the officials said, present the greatest difficulty because these detainees cannot be prosecuted in federal court or military commissions. In many cases the evidence against them is classified, has been provided by foreign intelligence services or has been tainted by the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques.
Be like Bush. But blame Bush. The magic formula.

Or is it necessary to add the showy fillip of closing Guantanamo?
Under one White House draft that was being discussed this month, according to administration officials, detainees would be imprisoned at a military facility on U.S. soil, but their ongoing detention would be subject to annual presidential review. U.S. citizens would not be held in the system....

But some senior Democrats see long-term detention as tantamount to reestablishing the Guantanamo system on U.S. soil. "I think this could be a very big mistake, because of how such a system could be perceived throughout the world," Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) told Holder.
See? It's not even different enough to count for anything. And — presto — the foundation is laid for keeping Guantanamo open.

(Remember, I made a bet with Emily Bazelon, and I'm going to win.)

Was Michael Jackson murdered?

I can't help thinking about it. Consider what we know:
The police investigation into Mr. Jackson’s death... focused in part on his private doctor, Conrad Murray. The authorities impounded Dr. Murray’s car at Mr. Jackson’s rented home in Holmby Hills late Thursday, with the hope of finding clues to what led to the singer’s cardiac arrest. Police officials interviewed Dr. Murray on Thursday and intended to do so again, officials said....

A 911 tape released Friday featured the voice of a young man imploring an ambulance to hurry to Mr. Jackson’s home, where he described a doctor frantically trying to revive Mr. Jackson. When asked if anyone had seen what happened, the unidentified man replied: “No, just the doctor, sir. He’s not responding to CPR. He’s pumping his chest, but he’s not responding to anything.”

Dr. Murray, who public records show is a 56-year-old cardiologist with a practice in Las Vegas, has lived in numerous homes over the last decade in several states, filed for personal bankruptcy in 1992 in California and has five tax liens against him for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to HealthGrades, a health care ratings company, Dr. Murray is board certified in neither of his two specialties, internal medicine and cardiology.....

[Biographer, Stacy] Brown said Mr. Jackson’s family had been recently concerned about his use of painkillers, which had started up again a few months ago, he said, and “tried a number of different times” to get the star to quit once and for all.

Mr. Jackson had become “very frail, totally, totally underweight,” Mr. Brown said, adding that the family had worried that he would not be healthy enough to handle the pressure of performing.
There seem to be people who might be blamed for unintentionally facilitating his slip out of this world, but did anyone want this to happen? Jackson had a huge comeback planned, with 50 sold-out arena shows, and massive debt. If he was physically/mentally unprepared to take the stage, he/others might have been desperate enough to see death as the only viable option.

June 26, 2009

"I do believe he loved me as much as he could love anyone and I loved him very much."

"I wanted to 'save him'... from certain self-destructive behavior and from the awful vampires and leeches."

Said Lisa Marie Presley.

In the garden kaleidoscope.


"Prayers are energy and if everyone has them, their spirits will feel lighter because of it."

What Cher said about the dead, last night on "Larry King."

Bill Maher's Michael Jackson-inspired hypothetical choice.

An old question from 2005, linked over in the comments at Protein Wisdom.

In the Garden Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"What does it cost to get an unqualified student into the University of Illinois law school? "

"Five jobs for graduating law students, suggest internal e-mails released Thursday.... When Law School Dean Heidi Hurd balked on accepting the applicant in April 2006, [University of Illinois Chancellor Richard] Herman replied that the request came "Straight from the G. My apologies. Larry has promised to work on jobs (5). What counts?" Hurd replied: 'Only very high-paying jobs in law firms that are absolutely indifferent to whether the five have passed their law school classes or the Bar.' Hurd's e-mail suggests that students getting the jobs are to be those in the 'bottom of the class.' Law school rankings depend in part on the job placement rate of graduates."

The G = (apparently) Blagojevich.


(Via TaxProf.)

Astrologer arrested.

"Astrology is taken seriously by numerous Sri Lankan politicians."


Yes, yes, I know, don't be smug...

The Official Michael Jackson YouTube Channel.

Watch all the great videos. Of course, they've got embedding disabled, but if I could embed something here, maybe it would be "Leave Me Alone." What do you feel like watching?

(Spare me the Michael-hating comments on this post.)

"A frail-looking Jackson had spent his last weeks in rehearsal for an ambitious comeback attempt and 50 already-sold-out shows at London's O2 Arena."

"A major motivation was the $300 million in debt run up by a star who lived like royalty even though his self-declared title of King of Pop was more about the past than the present."

June 25, 2009

I want you back!

Is Michael dead?!

That poor, tragic man!

UPDATE: TMZ said he died, but CNN - at 5:22 CT — just sent a Breaking News email saying he is in a coma. Oh, baby give me one more chance!

AND: The L.A. Times says he's dead.

So does the NYT.

Sad! That poor, sweet boy!

"Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history."

Look out! It's cap-and-trade!

"This photo somehow belongs in a certain comment thread yesterday."

LOL. He's talking about the thread that goes with this:

"The biggest self of self is indeed self."

Language Log grapples with the language of Mark Sanford... and doesn't get too far.

They're grappling over at Crooked Timber too.

Any ideas?

The Sarychev Peak volcano, messing with the clouds.

Snapped from the International Space Station.

I didn't watch.

Did you?

Farewell, Farrah.

An icon passes.

ADDED: "I love to smell the sunset."

The 9th Circuit is now Street Performer Heaven!

Get out your balloons! Get out your bongos and dulcimers! And go west!
[T]he U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday struck down curbs imposed by Seattle on those performing at the popular Seattle Center, home of the landmark Space Needle.

Michael "Magic Mike" Berger, a busker who sculpted balloon figures and dazzled children with sleight-of-hand tricks, prevailed in his seven-year challenge of the constitutionality of Seattle's 2002 rules regulating street performers. The city had required them to obtain permits, wear badges, refrain from soliciting gratuities, stay away from "captive audiences" and work only within designated sites....

"The city has been trying to turn Seattle Center into a government-controlled place that is very convenient for commercial interests and hostile to freedom and free speech," [Berger] wrote, concluding that "the city needs to wake up and read the Constitution."

I'm in the NYT, talking about money.

Or should I say on the NYT?

That strip search was unreasonable — and unconstitutional — but it was not unreasonable for the school authorities not to know that.

Said the Supreme Court today in Safford Unified School District v. April Redding:
"What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear," Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. "We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable."...

The court also ruled the officials cannot be held liable in a lawsuit for the search. Different judges around the nation have come to different conclusions about immunity for school officials in strip searches, which leads the Supreme Court to "counsel doubt that we were sufficiently clear in the prior statement of law," Souter said.
School officials enjoy immunity from lawsuits for damages when the case law isn't clear enough that they should have known what they were doing is unconstitutional. Presumably, this case makes it clear now, and school officials can't be looking for drugs in a girl's panties unless they've got more information about the power and the quantity of the drugs and some reason to think the drugs are in the panties — more information than the accusation from another student that the girl had given her drugs.

Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed with the part about immunity, and Justice Thomas, standing alone, disagreed that the search was unconstitutional:
"It was eminently reasonable to conclude the backpack was empty because Redding was secreting the pills in a place she thought no one would look," Thomas said.

Thomas warned that the majority's decision could backfire. "Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments," he said. "Nor will she be the last after today's decision, which announces the safest place to secrete contraband in school."
Thomas leads the pack in deference to school authorities. Remember Morse v. Frederick, the "Bong Hits for Jesus" case? There, dealing with free speech rights, he wrote:
In light of the history of American public education, it cannot seriously be suggested that the First Amendment “freedom of speech” encompasses a student’s right to speak in public schools. Early public schools gave total control to teachers, who expected obedience and respect from students. And courts routinely deferred to schools’ authority to make rules and to discipline students for violating those rules. Several points are clear: (1) under in loco parentis, speech rules and other school rules were treated identically; (2) the in loco parentis doctrine imposed almost no limits on the types of rules that a school could set while students were in school; and (3) schools and teachers had tremendous discretion in imposing punishments for violations of those rules....

To be sure, our educational system faces administrative and pedagogical challenges different from those faced by 19th-century schools. And the idea of treating children as though it were still the 19th century would find little support today. But I see no constitutional imperative requiring public schools to allow all student speech. Parents decide whether to send their children to public schools.... If parents do not like the rules imposed by those schools, they can seek redress in school boards or legislatures; they can send their children to private schools or home school them; or they can simply move. Whatever rules apply to student speech in public schools, those rules can be challenged by parents in the political process.

"Generic placeholder."

Mainstream journalism soldiers on.

Hot new Supreme Court cases.

Served up in real time, right now, right here.

UPDATE: "The Supreme Court has finished issuing rulings for the day, without releasing a decision in the Ricci cases — the New Haven firefighters job discrimination litigation. The Court will issue further rulings on Monday."

From today's decisions, there is Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (PDF), a Confrontation Clause case, decided 5-4, with Justice Scalia writing the opinion joined by Stevens, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg. Kennedy dissents joined by Roberts, Breyer, and Alito.

Here, Scalia dispenses with pragmatic arguments against giving criminal defendants the right to cross-examine laboratory analysts who produce reports, used by the prosecution, certifying that a particular substance, seized from the defendant, was cocaine:
Defense attorneys and their clients will often stipulate to the nature of the substance in the ordinary drug case. It is unlikely that defense counsel will insist on live testimony whose effect will be merely to highlight rather than cast doubt upon the forensic analysis. Nor will defense attorneys want to antagonize the judge or jury by wasting their time with the appearance of a witness whose testimony defense counsel does not intend to rebut in any fashion.
Justice Kennedy says:
For the sake of ... negligible benefits, the Court threatens to disrupt forensic investigations across the country and to put prosecutions nationwide at risk of dismissal based on erratic, all-too-frequent instances when a particular laboratory technician, now invested by the Court’s new constitutional designation as the analyst,
simply does not or cannot appear.
AND: Here's a new Slate piece about the Ricci case, which is still pending:
As black, white, and Hispanic firefighters in New Haven brace for the Supreme Court's decision, they're keeping their heads down and doing their jobs. But they're also tired and apprehensive. Almost no matter what the court decides, the ruling will mean more hard feelings and strife. No one we talked to can really imagine a way to resolve fairly who will get the promotions—which have been frozen now for six years. In this city at this moment, it's hard to imagine what fair would possibly look like.
Also left for Monday: "the case on radio or TV broadcast of a documentary movie critical of presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 08-205), and a test of state governments’ authority to investigate race discrimination in home mortgage lending (Cuomo v. Clearing House Association, 08-453)."

"Using mind control techniques developed on his home planet, Obama has unleashed an army of seductresses..."

"... in order to eliminate the men who stand in the way of his reelection in 2012. Based on the timing of the Sanford and Ensign affairs, it appears he launched the offensive before the first primary of 2008. I know this seems like a far-fetched theory, but it will seem a lot more plausible should Huckabee or Pawlenty ever hold the confessional press conference."

"For spring 2010, he engineered minute wrinkles into clothes to render them less serious..."

"... did away with socks (and, sometimes, even shoes); cropped well-proportioned trousers above the ankles and yet stopped shy of the Pee-wee Herman height now obligatory among early adopters. He built exaggerated, almost pagoda, shoulders into natty blazers (worn over jeans)...."

From an article about how the new fashions for men are all about comfort.

"The leftovers of the Axis of Evil. I don't know whether they're best served cold or hot."

A Bloggingheads... Hey! Somebody did a Bloggingheads wearing a hat! A head with a hat. The idea was so obvious... and yet... and yet... no one had done it up until now. Just wear a hat... and everything changes! I want to wear a hat on Bloggingheads!

"He's squooshy in love with her, quite obviously."

Writes John Stodder in yesterday's Mark Sanford thread:
He was obviously dumped by the woman, who has more common sense than he does right now. He'll wake up in a few weeks or months and go, "what the hell did I just do?" But as of now, he is still immersed in the psychosis of mad love.

I don't think the gal pals of Clinton or Edwards were ever anything more than pleasant vanities and erotic vessels. I get the feeling that Ensign is a creepy power addict and bonking his aide's wife was just a way of asserting his alpha status, his right to humiliate the men who serve him.

This guy, on the other hand, seems to have gone over the moon. His inner self at war with his stated convictions. He's like the professor in "The Blue Angel," desperate to give up all that he earned just to be a clown in his beloved's circus.

Have you been there yourself, John? Have any of you?

More bad acting... and bad special effects...

Fun in montage form, hell to watch in full:

"I've asked her to marry me again, and she's agreed."

"We will wed as soon as she can say yes. Maybe we can just nod her head. I promise you, we will. Absolutely."

"I have added her to the list of my daughters."

Reza Pahlavi — son of the Shah — carries a picture of Neda, "The Angel of Iran."

"Sometime around age 50, women start to let go of certain ideas about themselves and fashion."

"Up till then you can wear lots of silly or brash things, and if you are reasonably fit and attractive or consistently daring, it doesn’t really matter. You’re still with the tide. You are home free with your esoteric Pradas, your porkpie hats and coy Lolita socks, and no little voice is going, 'Heh-heh-heh, you’re too old for that.'"

No! Dammit! You will not take away my coy Lolita socks!

(Consistently daring? I wannabe consistently darling.)

June 24, 2009

Too many bees.

"$1200 obo this has been a good truck for me but i have to sell it because i cant ever get to it with all of the bees around it they have been in and around it for almost 2 months now and i havent been able to get near 5 feet or else i get stung and im sick of it i still have welts from months ago stingings and i cant even get to work because i cant get to my truck so i have to sell it test drives at ur own risk i cant go with you too many bees."

(Via Jac.)

IN THE COMMENTS: This post brought out the best in the commenters. I feel like front-paging the whole thread. I will limit myself to part of what blogging cockroach said...
and that poor truck guy
probably stung too many times
to be able to type at least i have
an excuse but you won t find me
moving into a pickup truck no sir
i m holding out for a b m w
... and add a photoshop request for a picture of a BMW crawling with cockroaches...

... and amba...
Found poetry!
... and add a request for more poetry in the Too Many Bees style.

Now, there will be 10 nominees for the Best Picture Oscar.

It's pretty obviously a bid for TV ratings:
In a question-and-answer session that followed the announcement [Sidney Ganis, the academy’s president] said, "I would not be telling you the truth if I said the words ‘Dark Knight’ did not come up.

IN THE EMAIL: Christopher Althouse Cohen writes:
The most obvious pros and cons for either decision is that 5 slots are probably not enough to nominate every great movie in a given year, but on the other hand 10 slots is almost certain to lead to some pretty crappy movies getting nominated. Also, having 10 best picture nominees sort of lowers the value of a given nomination. A movie getting nominated at all right now seems like a really big deal for that movie, but it might not if there were 10. But you will be a lot more likely to see your favorite movies nominated with 10 slots.

Here were the nominees in 1943, the last time they had more than 5 nominees:

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Heaven Can Wait
In Which We Serve
Madame Curie
The Human Comedy
The More the Merrier
The Ox-Bow Incident
The Song of Bernadette
Watch on the Rhine

I don't know enough of those movies to know if they deserved it (I think I've only seen two), but the fact that they were nominated doesn't make me want to run out and see all of them. Kind of looks like one really major classic, and then a long list of pretty good movies.

Now, here are last year's five nominees, which apparently will be the last time, at least for a while, that there are only five (along with their box office grosses before getting nominated):

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($104 million)
Frost/Nixon ($8.8 million)
Milk ($20 million)
The Reader ($8 million)
Slumdog Millionaire ($44 million)

Only one had a significant gross pre-nominations, and that one wasn't even a box office success given its $150 million budget. And here is an overview of the ratings for the Oscars since 1990 from Wikipedia. The ratings peaked with 57 million viewers the year Titanic came out, and has had somewhere in the 30's each of the last four years, so it's in a low streak.

And, coincidentally, the two best-reviewed movies of the year in 2008, based on Top Ten lists, were also the 1st and 5th highest grossing movies of the year: WALL-E and The Dark Knight. Both had some Oscar hype but failed to get nominated, and both would likely have been nominated if there were 10 slots. They were also big budget, ambitious movies that had fans who were really excited about those movies.

It seems pretty clear that this is a response to the decline in ratings and the possibility that its ratings decline has something to do with the fact that the small prestige movies have been getting all the nominations.

I do think the bigger movies are also more likely to win the award with 10. People push for their favorite little movie and put it in the #1 slot on their list when they vote for the nominations, because they want to help it and the big movies already have plenty of attention. Maybe a lot of those people who voted for The Reader and Frost/Nixon for nominations would have voted for The Dark Knight for the actual award if there were more nominees. So, I could see a movie in 6th-10th place for the nominations actually winning for this reason.

You'd also probably have some really unworthy prestige movies sneaking in without living up to their hype: movies like Rachel Getting Married, Doubt, or Che. But then you might have some little movies that deserved it but normally wouldn't have a chance, like Frozen River or Vicky Cristina Barcelona. That would be nice. It could go either way.

"The second most important upset ever by an American team, behind only the 1980 Miracle on Ice."

The U.S. soccer team beats Spain.

"I have been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with what started as a dear dear friend from Argentina."

"It began very innocently, as I suspect these things do, in just a casual e-mail back and forth. But here, recently, over this last year, developed into something much more than that. And as a consequence, I hurt her. I hurt you all, I hurt my wife. I hurt my boys. I hurt friends like Tom Davis. I hurt a lot of different folks."

So says Gov. Sanford, who says he spent the last "five days of my life crying in Argentina."

I must say I'm thoroughly bored with these politicians and their sexual affairs, but at least Sanford was a bit weird — disappearing, getting the staff to lie, absconding to another hemisphere, crying....
Mr. Sanford is the third sitting governor to become the central figure in a major scandal in recent years. Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, Democrat of New York, resigned a few days after his involvement with prostitutes was revealed in March 2008. Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, Democrat of Illinois, clung to office for weeks after being accused by prosecutors of influence-peddling, including trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama; he was impeached and removed from office by the state legislature on Jan. 29.
Scandal? What scandal? An extra-marital affair is not a scandal, not in the political sense anyway.

UPDATE: Gah! Emails:
I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night’s light - but hey, that would be going into sexual details ...
Wouldn't want to go into sexual details. Imagine them published in the newspaper.

And John Kerry shoots off his moronic mouth:

"Too bad, if a governor had to go missing it couldn’t have been the governor of Alaska. You know, Sarah Palin."
I love the way he thinks we might not be quick enough to pick up who the Governor of Alaska is. What an idiot!

Well, at least we can add "He went hiking on the Appalachian Trail" to the list of infidelity metaphors.
And crying in Argentina.

Randy said:
"Don't cry for me Appalachia! The truth is I never hiked you..."

-@burckart on Twitter
(via Freeman Hunt's twitter feed)
AND NOW: A word from the wife:
I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal. I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage.

Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance.

"Pitney asked his arranged question. Reporters looked at one another in amazement at the stagecraft they were witnessing."

"White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel grinned at the surprised TV correspondents in the first row. The use of planted questioners is a no-no at presidential news conferences, because it sends a message to the world -- Iran included -- that the American press isn't as free as advertised. But yesterday wasn't so much a news conference as it was a taping of a new daytime drama, 'The Obama Show.'"

AND: "Remember the outrage over Jeff Gannon?"

"A Republican comeback?"

"At first blush, this sounds absurd.... But..."

East German style.

Here's a TV:

More products and packaging here.

Via Little Green Footballs.

"Mickey, Mickey, no./Your lunacy can charm, yes./But you need a shirt."

I don't know. I find him adorable in his fugliness.

"Evolution faster when it's warmer."

Okay. Now, I'm thinking of ideas for a global warming movie with all kinds of crazy new animals wreaking havoc.

The "most overtly blow-jobby ad I've ever seen."

Gawker says:
For benefit of those of you who don't "get it," this is what's known as "branding" in the industry. Or something.

But wait, if that's not enough for you, here's the actual text of the ad:
Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled with the NEW BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER. Yearn for more after you taste the mind-blowing burger that comes with a single beef patty, topped with American cheese, crispy onions and the A1 Thick and Hearty Steak Sauce.
The only thing this ad is missing is the disclaimer that you'll actually get fewer blowjobs if you eat these sandwiches, but perhaps that's the "genius" of advertising that we simpletons on the outside just don't get.
Sex sells food and food is a sex substitute. The food doesn't get you sex, but your desire for sex can be channeled into food-eating. I think we know that.

Gawker imagines that it's funny to say that food will make you fat and fat will keep you from having sex. They had to find some way to smirk and sneer. But the fact is, we all need some food, and the ad is eye-catching and the food looks pretty good. Also:

1. The ad is viral. Gawker printed it, and so did I.

2. The undeniably blatant blow-jobbiness is pure comedy, and that makes it cleaner than subtly sexual ads. Let's all have a good laugh. And a sandwich. And a blow job!

3. Burger King has a sandwich aimed at young guys. It's aimed at a young gal in the ad, but it's an ad aimed at young guys. They'll remember this sandwich.

It's a good ad.

ADDED: Note how well they've named the sandwich to promote hilarity at the counter: "Do you want the seven incher?" "I'll have the seven incher." "I love the seven incher." "I need a seven incher." Etc. Etc.

AND: Seven. It had to be 7. They probably thought about 8, even 9, and also 6. But in the end, it had to be 7. That was exactly right. Slightly aspirational, but not intimidating.

"We didn't know the Appalachian Trail went all the way down to Buenos Aires!"

What's with Gov. Sanford?

"Like adolescents suddenly liberated from adult supervision," new Presidents may "do the exact opposite of what their predecessors did."

Says Michael Barone, in a column all about how Barack Obama needs to "grow up."

Is that the problem?

Smoking and the $93,000 stamp.

The print run was destroyed — but a few stamps escaped — because Audrey Hepburn's son did not like that cigarette holder in her mouth.

That happened in Germany. Here in America we just airbrush the cigarette out of the old celebrity photos:

Roger Ebert:
Depriving Bette Davis of her cigarette reminds me of Soviet revisionism, when disgraced party officials disappeared from official photographs. Might as well strip away the toupees of Fred Astaire and Jimmy Stewart. I was first alerted to this travesty by a reader, Wendell Openshaw of San Diego, who wrote me: "Do you share my revulsion for this attempt to revise history and distort a great screen persona for political purposes? It is political correctness and revisionist history run amok. Next it will be John Wayne holding a bouquet instead of a Winchester!"

IN THE COMMENTS: Sofa King picks up on the cue to photoshop:

And kristinintexas found this startling revelation that Bette Davis was not holding a cigarette in the original photograph. (Her fur coat, however, was downgraded to cloth.)

But, of course, Bette Davis was big on smoking, and so Chip Ahoy gives us "Bette Restored:

Tattoo girl confesses.

"I asked for 56 stars and initially adored them. But when my father saw them, he was furious. So I said I fell asleep and that the tattooist had made a mistake."

Yes, confess now, after we all heard your story and knew you were the liar. You know, Kimberley Vlaeminck sued the tattooist, Rouslan Toumaniant. He now has reason to sue her for defamation.

June 23, 2009

A new Bloggingheads, in which I talk to Douglas Rushkoff about his book "Life, Inc."

Is "corporatism" the structure of our lives?

You can buy the book here. It's good. And I really read it!

"There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white... Or a rape."

Nixon! Still outraging us... from beyond the grave.


In February of 1973, President Nixon called future president and then-Republican National Committee chairman George H.W. Bush, and recounted a recent visit to the South Carolina state legislature.

"I noticed a couple of very attractive women, both of them Republicans, in the legislature," Nixon told Bush. "I want you to be sure to emphasize to our people, God, let's look for some… Understand, I don't do it because I'm for women, but I'm doing it because I think maybe a woman might win someplace where a man might not… So have you got that in mind?"

Bush replies, "I'll certainly keep it in mind."

I just love Bush's tactfully phrased response.

How cold is it? Death? It's very cold.

RIP, Ed McMahon.

Watching the press conference, racking my brain trying to think of who Obama reminded me of.

Something about the singsong rhythm and the complete absence of emotion. Then it hit me: Michael Dukakis!

ADDED: Amba notes that last September, Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece called: "Is Obama Another Dukakis?" ("Why is Obama so vapid and hesitant and gutless?... By the end of that grueling campaign season, a lot of us had got the idea that Dukakis actually wanted to lose—or was at the very least scared of winning. ... [H]aving suddenly got the leadership position, [Obama] hadn't the faintest idea what to do with it or what to do about it.")

The absence of emotion! The way Dukakis didn't react at all to the hypothetical of Kitty being raped is the same way Obama had trouble being human about Neda!

"Interestingly, a lot of the harsh flavors came from ladybugs that were mashed up with the grapes."

A comment that freaked me out, on this post about whether or not boxed wine is good.

I got to that post via Instapundit, but I was also thinking about boxed wine today because Nina Camic just wrote about it.

Oddly, although I often run across insults against me that portray me as a consumer of boxed wine, the truth is, I've never purchased the stuff. I would, though. I understand why the technology is superior to bottles. Some people associate boxed wine with drinking a lot, but isn't the point that you drink less, because you don't have to try to use up a whole bottle before it goes bad?

The Great Perez Hilton/Will.i.am Showdown.

(This is the very important post I was working on when my blog conked out yesterday. Enjoy!)

Here's a description in text if you don't have the patience to watch all that video. Before you side with Will.i.am — which you might feel like doing just because he's way less annoying and long-winded Hilton — skip forward to the last 2 minutes of Hilton's video

"Hi Ann, Congrats on a great blog it’s very informative and empowering."

Empowering. What the...?
I am part of Warner Bros PR and I am reaching to leading blogs like yours in hopes of gaining your support for a some really powerful and empowering new series on our sister company’s network TNT.
Hmm... yeah? Empowering?
We are thrilled to announce the season premiere of SAVING GRACE with HOLLY HUNTER and the all-new medical drama HAWTHORNE with JADA PINKETT SMITH.
So by empowering, you mean, women? Presumably, because I'm a woman and I have a blog, my blog is empowering. I suppose if I eat a sandwich, it empowers me. Is this supposed to boost my self-esteem? Because it doesn't. The implication is that I'm not operating at full speed and needed some outside source of power.

IN THE COMMENTS: Jacob said:
The Onion: Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does
Chris Althouse Cohen said:
Mom: Perhaps there's some quote that you and I just talked about on the phone that might relate in a humorous way to this blog post.
Yes, it's from Samuel Johnson: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

I figured out why reporters tweet so much.

Figured it out while reading another generous handful of tweets from Ana Marie Cox. In reverse chronological order:
Thank God Nico is so tall. He let me stand in front of him. Fuck you line cop. #whp
about 4 hours ago from Tweetie

HuffPo's Nico Pitny just placed in 2nd row of SRO by WH staff. Now why could that be? (Nice "fuck you" to guy next to me playing line cop)
about 4 hours ago from Tweetie

.@jaketapper says photogs "formally request" no rising in their way when O enters. And those of us standing might try to take their seats.
about 5 hours ago from Tweetie

And my view if I turn around... @mikememoli says hi. #whp http://twitpic.com/872ib
about 5 hours ago from Tweetie

RT @newmediajim @anamariecox prodded me into taking updated POTUS view. Crowd has grown! http://twitpic.com/8719t // #1stcome1stservefail
about 5 hours ago from Tweetie

My view. http://twitpic.com/871bj
about 5 hours ago from Tweetie

.@newmediajim standing in for POTUS. The resemblence is remarkable, no? http://twitpic.com/870pq
about 5 hours ago from Tweetie

Actually I have just elbowed my way to the front. I am refusing to believe you can "save" a space on the wall. #whp
about 5 hours ago from Tweetie

Sitting in an edge seat that I know will be taken has benefit of putting me in place to have a good place to stand... #whpresser #whp
about 5 hours ago from Tweetie

Hey that red blob in the middle is me standing up! RT @newmediajim: POTUSeye view of the White House briefing room http://twitpic.com/86xmg
about 6 hours ago from TweetDeck
They are so often stuck in waiting situations.

AND: Related question: Why do law professors blog so much? Ha ha.

[RELOCATED] Obama: "The United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not at all interfering in Iran’s affairs."

The press conference. He respects the sovereignty and deplores the violence.
Major Garrett just challenged Mr. Obama’s tone on Iran, essentially asking why he waited so long to show any outrage and whether he’d been inconsistent. “I don’t think that’s accurate,” the president replies, defending himself. “Track what I’ve been saying. Right after the election I said we had profound concerns about the nature of the election, but that it was not up to us to determine what the outcome is.” And he added, “The United States will not be a foil” for the Iranian government to accuse of meddling.

Excuse me. If I may be so bold. I hate to trouble you but.... I don't mean to impose... I'm not interfering... Far be it from me to suggest anything that you might be able to characterize as meddling. I'm no meddler. Not at all. I'm just over here, modestly deploring violence.

[RELOCATED] I would leave Blogger right now...

... if I had the time to figure out how to export the blog and start in a new place, such as HostingMatters. But I am too busy today and the technical stuff makes my head swirl. I can't afford the distraction. If this Blogger screw-up makes me miss a day of posting at Althouse, when I have an unbroken 5 1/2 year streak of daily posting, I will hate Blogger with a vicious fury.

hate hate hate hate hate Blogger.....

UPDATE: Well, my long streak is unbroken, so I am spared the ordeal of a vicious fury!

[RELOCATED] The tepee.

What do you think?

[RELOCATED] Nina Totenberg on the Voting Rights case.

A pithy report on a minimalist case. Totenberg's take is that the Supreme Court "blinked" because the Voting Rights Act is so "iconic." If the case had gone the other way, we'd have heard about how hot the Court is to enforce federalism at the expense of other values, so I wish, when cases like this come out, reporters like Totenberg would at least note that the Court really doesn't seem to be that interested in federalism. Instead, Totenberg cues us to worry that the VRA is still threatened, and it just dodged a bullet this time.

[RELOCATED] It's hard to get myself psyched to do full-blown post over here.

It feels so tentative and unreal.

Oh, okay, how about: "As His Agenda Collapses On Capitol Hill, Obama Hopes For Press Conference Hail Mary Today."

Hmmm. Maybe I'll actually watch the press conference today. I got back to Madison Sunday night, but in the weeks before that, living in Ohio, I had no TV. But the truth is, I almost never watch news on TV anymore. I made a point of watching the debates back in the '08 campaign, but I'd gotten tired of the news analysis shows and the Sunday talk things. It's funny, because Obama is a big visual phenomenon — he's the first black President, of course, but it's not just that. He exploits visuals in new ways. Why haven't I been following that?

Well, I've been very distracted, but I'm on my own this week, and maybe I should do things a little differently. Ooh! Watching TV! How edgy!

Ah! The truth is, I'm suffering from double withdrawal. I don't have my blog and I don't have my Meade.

UPDATE: Now I have my blog. Still waiting for my Meade.

Some day this post will be moved back to Althouse...

... along with all the other posts I write here today. I'm not able to use my main blog and am trying to solve the problem. I don't think the site has been hacked. Even though it's not widespread on Blogger blogs — including this one — it does sometimes happen.

[Relocated from my backup blog Althouse2, where I posted during the recent outage.]

Am I back?


June 22, 2009

"The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue; it is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity."

"The burqa is not a religious sign; it is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission of women.

Is it not a religious sign because a sign of the subjugation? If that is what Nicolas Sarkozy means then he is implicitly asserting that whatever subjugates women is not religion. But it is not the role of government to say what constitutes religion.

Nevertheless, both government and religious may try to occupy the same niche. When it does, let government boldly assert that its policies trump religious practices and then let's have a debate about the scope of the rights of religious freedom. Don't say it's not religion. It is. And religion ought to have to take responsibility for the repression it imposes. Don't let it off the hook!
Mr. Sarkozy noted that “in the republic, the Muslim religion must be respected like other religions.” But he declared that “the burqa is not welcome in France.”

“We cannot accept in our country women imprisoned behind bars, cut off from social life, deprived of identity,” he said. “That is not our idea of maintaining the dignity of women.”
I can't tell what he's proposing. Is there to be a ban on burqas or is he just encouraging people to feel/express hostility to the women who adopt this form of dress? Why does denying women this choice enhance their dignity? Presumably, some/most/all of the women who wear a burqa do so because they are forced or pressured into it, and that's the indignity that the government wants to remedy. It may be that it's too hard to detect and regulate the coercion and therefore the thing that is so often coerced should be banned, even at the cost of depriving some women of their free choice.

It's paternalism attacking paternalism.

"SCOTUS Upholds Voting Rights Act..."

"... For Now, Anyway."
And many liberals feared, especially after oral argument (PDF), that this Court's 5-4 conservative majority would use the opportunity to gut Section 5, especially given its disparate treatment of Southern jurisdictions, with the Chief Justice asking the NAACP's counsel "So is it your -- is it your position that today southerners are more likely to discriminate than northerners?" and Justice Scalia noting, "Wasn't Virginia the first State in the Union to elect a black governor?"

Today, however, the bullet was dodged, albeit on somewhat technical grounds. In an 8-1 opinion authored by the Chief Justice, with only Justice Thomas dissenting, the Court effectively rewrote parts of the Voting Rights Act to allow NAMUDNO to apply in federal court for a permanent "bailout" from the preclearance provisions based on a documented record of behaving itself in this realm, a remedy previously allowed only for states and counties as a whole, and chose not to reach the larger constitutional question.

Making music from a single object. Episode #1: the Coke can.

Joe Raciti explains his idea:
This is the first of what I hope to turn into something of a series. The idea here is to create a song that features a single object. While I still use my voice and occasionally get minor help with other instruments (such as a microphone, razor blades, computer software, etc.) I try to stay true to the challenge. I make the songs sound as good as I can with all of the tools at my disposal, but the sounds really do come from the object featured in the video.
I love music made on things other than musical instruments — previously stated here and here — and I love artistic projects that involve working within strict rules. So: cool!

Christina Hoff Sommers rails about the establishment feminists who didn't care about the "man-cession."

They argued for a balanced cure to an imbalanced problem.

IN THE COMMENTS: John Althouse Cohen said...
Do you stand by your earlier critique? "I think Obama must respond to this problem. If a huge federal jobs program is really what we need — and I'm not willing to say it is — then how can nearly all the job be men's jobs?"

In other words, weren't you one of the feminist critics that Sommers is talking about?

I did add "Is it enough of an answer to say that it's up to women to take up the hard physical labor of building roads and bridges and the like?" Those were 2 questions. Generally, I will stand by my preference for good solutions tailored to actual problems.

Obama, the superhero.


Via Metafilter, where it's not much appreciated, and the commenter billysumday says:
This was funnier when Rush Limbaugh did it and called it "Barack the Magic Negro." And even then, when Limbaugh did it? It wasn't funny. It was stupid. Well, and racist. But mostly just stupid.
I added the "Magic Negro" link so you can make the comparison. Apt?

[NOTE: I put a link in place of the embedded video, which was slow-load-y.]

"Until now celebrities didn't expose their nipples so they were no 'nipple role models.'"

But now that we have nipple role models, everyone suddenly wants nipple surgery.


Do we really need this word? When should sexuality be attributed to the performance of nonsexual tasks? Looking at the inane picture at that link will either help you answer the question or raise a whole new set of questions, like: Do anorexic, wine-swilling gamines really melt when dimpled dorks slice tomatoes?

"With its emphasis on equitable marriage, 'choice feminism' has endorsed a tyrannical habit of trying to subordinate passion to reason."

"... And along the way it has demonized obsession. What, [Cristina] Nehring asks, is so wrong with being crazy in love? At the core of this polemic lurks the age-old dilemma of how we resolve our desire for security with our need for passion. Nehring's answer is simply: Let go of security and embrace the radical alertness that comes with the fullness of feeling."

Are you alert? Radically alert? Don't get too comfortable!

Baby, please don't go.

June 21, 2009

"The spelling mantra "i before e except after c" is no longer worth teaching, according to the government."

"Advice sent to teachers says there are too few words which follow the rule and recommends using more modern methods to teach spelling to schoolchildren."

Okay. Responses:

1. Rules with exceptions may frustrate and annoy the young child:

2. The government doesn't want children to think about rules as things that have exceptions.

What the NYT did completely differently from the Wall Street Journal...

... and the different fates of David Rohde and Daniel Pearl.

"Did you notice how many times he invoked the word 'justice' in his message?"

"That's the word that will resonate most deeply with the Iranian resistance. What a relief to have someone with this degree of restraint and prudence and empathy — refusing to be baited by Khamenei or the neocons, and yet taking an eloquent stand, as we all do, in defense of freedom and non-violence. The invocation of MLK was appropriate too. What on earth has this been but, in its essence, a protest for voting rights? Above all, the refusal to coopt their struggle for ours, because freedom is only ever won, and every democracy wil[l] be different: this is an act of restraint that is also a statement of pure confidence in the power of a free people."

It is possible that Obama is doing exactly the right thing — but I can't take Andrew Sullivan's word for it, because of he's been slathering praise on the man for far too long. Oh, wow, he said "justice," isn't he dreamy?

My first reaction to that was give me a break — there's nothing special there. It's what a good public-statement-writer would write when the decision was made to put out a public statement. Can we please stop marveling at Obama's "eloquence"? To my ear, it's patronizing. (I feel like invoking MLK myself about that!)

This is not all about Obama and his amazing powers. #1: His powers are within the normal range. #2: It's about Iran.

Neda, the martyr, inspiring the revolution through YouTube.

"Like most of the information coming out of Tehran, it is impossible to verify her name, Neda, or the circumstances of her apparent death, captured close-up on a bystander's camera."


Here's the Twitter feed on "Neda."

Here's the iconic video of Neda's death. Apparent death.

"A sternly worded letter was called for."

I love the ultra-dry comic stylings of commenter rhhardin.

Did you notice the solar solstice?

Nina sure did.

ADDED: "Solar solstice" is not the right expression, as everyone in the comments is beating me over the head about. I'm sorry! The whole summer is sorry!!!