July 11, 2009

"Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, 1963 - 1990."

At the Chazen Museum in Madison. Only one more day, so get over there tomorrow. Free.

Most of it is framed and on the wall, but there is also some cool stuff in cases:

R. Crumb sculpture in a case at the Elvehem Museum



It's not all R. Crumb. Not at all! That first sculpture, by the way, is called "Snoid and Host Woman."

Madison Saturday: street performers.

Wielding spray paint...


... and guitars...




My cookie contained 3 fortunes. The 4th fortune seen here was in my companion's cookie. Perhaps you can figure out which fortune is not mine.

Sarah Palin says she resigned as governor "so that I could get out there and fight without the shackles..."

"... for our state and for our country, to fight for what is right, and to support the people who have more freedom than I do evidently to be able to cast those votes and administer the policies and the laws that we need to protect our Constitution... I’m going to be freer now to fight for what’s right."

Ha ha. That's why I like being an independent blogger, so I can identify. But I still think she's running for President... and talk about shackles!

Wait. I can't lie. I have to back off from that identification. I have no sense of fighting for what's right here. I'm just talking about things that interest me, expression for it's own sake. If the occasion to distinguish right from wrong arises in the natural course of things, it will be in the mix. But it's not a fight. It's a conversation.

I bought a bike.

Years ago, I used to bike to work regularly. But then I switched to walking — no bulky, stealable equipment to fuss with — and then to driving or walking. And then 20 years passed without my riding a bike at all. (Strange how many years can pass without your doing a particular thing when you are over 30... over 40... over 50....) But I'm in a new phase of my life now...


... so I got a bike. It's pretty fun to be at the level of mobility between walking and driving. You can get around rather quickly and still feel close to the things around you.

What kind of bike? A "comfort bike" was prescribed for me. I got one of these.

"Bruno" disappointed me.

I'm a big fan of "Da Ali G Show," where Sacha Baron Cohen plays 3 characters in short scenes that wrap up in half an hour. But, having seen "Borat" and now "Bruno," I have to admit I don't want to watch one of the characters for 90 minutes, especially "Bruno." I'm not a fan of story arcs. I love disjointed little bits. I like Bruno as the Austrian fashion reporter with the microphone in his hand. People who want to get on TV and to appear trendy will tumble into agreement with praise for Hitler or take direction that makes them look gay. (Here's an example I find especially funny.) But in the movie "Bruno," Bruno is fired from that job and comes to America to try to get famous again. That's not much of a story. It's just a narrative thread to connect different scenes — possibly generated after many of the scenes were filmed.

But why am I complaining? Didn't I just say I liked disjointed little bits? Well, but now Bruno is kind of down and out, and much of it is Sacha Baron Cohen trying to show us what Americans are really like. Fortunately or unfortunately, Americans failed to give him the homophobia footage he seems to have hoped for. I'm sure a ton of unfunny footage was thrown out, and that what went into the film was the closest he could get to hilarious, but most of these Americans simply remained stone-faced and tried to preserve their professionalism and dignity in the face of a very clownish man. Cohen did what he could — for example, wielding multiple big dildoes at a martial arts instructor — to goad people into flipping out about the gay guy, but — other than getting Ron Paul to blurt out "queer" twice — it just wasn't happening.

And the struggling Bruno can't be so outrageously bitchy. He wants people to help him. He's needy. He's more like Borat. But he's not lovable. I don't want him lovable. The Bruno I like needs to believe he's wielding power so he is able to trick people into showing their desire to leverage their fame through him. We see that in the movie in the one scene where some parents are trying to get their little kids hired as models. They think Bruno has some showbiz power, and they grovel before it. One woman is ready to make her 30 pound daughter lose 10 pounds in one week and to submit to liposuction if she can't get all that weight off. Now, that was something! It would be daring as hell to have 90-minutes on that level of pain. But that wouldn't be too funny, and it wouldn't be a blockbuster.

July 10, 2009

What Republican Senator had his hand on David Brooks's inner thigh through an entire dinner?

Brooks is talking on MSNBC — video at the link — and says:
You know, all three of us spend a lot of time covering politicians and I don’t know about you guys, but in my view, they’re all emotional freaks of one sort or another. They’re guaranteed to invade your personal space, touch you. I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ehh, get me out of here....

I’m not telling you, I’m not telling you. But so, a lot of them spend so much time needing people’s love and yet they are shooting upwards their whole life, they’re not that great in normal human relationships. And so, they’re like freaks, they don’t know how to, they’re lonely. They reach out....
What!? Perhaps the Republican Senator just periodically patted him on the thigh and technically the fingers extended into the inner part. The fact that Brooks put up with it, to me, indicates that was all it was. Why would he just think I was like, ehh, get me out of here. What stopped him from leaving? Or are we seriously to think some Senator had Brooks in an intimate grip all night and Brooks did nothing but think about how he didn't like it?

Lawprof David Trubek tries to fathom the furlough here at The University of Wisconsin.

You may have heard of Governor Doyle's plan:
The Governor’s furlough mandate, established in response to the State’s projected budget shortfall, requires an effective cut in pay for all full-time, 12-month employees equivalent to 16 days over the two-year period July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011. The resulting furlough time off (FTO), required by the Governor and approved by the State Legislature, is required for all State and University employees, regardless of the funding sources used for their individual salaries and benefits. The mandatory furloughs result in a 3.065% annual pay reduction.
What's been hard for us faculty members to understand is not the reduction in pay but the requirement that we refrain from working on particular days, as my colleague David M. Trubek writes here in email that he's given me permission to republish.
The Tale of Purloined Work: Humpty-Dumpty Cracks the Case

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 5)

Everyone at The University of Wisconsin will have their pay cut by about 3% and will be “furloughed”—told they do not have to work—for a corresponding period of time. But it turns out that we not only don’t have to work, we are being told we cannot work. The guidelines ban any kind of work during furloughs, anywhere. This means that even if you are at home you are not supposed to read professional material, get and send emails, make calls, use a smart phone, etc. Employees who violate the work ban can be disciplined.

Some people think this rule is irrational, impractical and unjust. Irrational because no one is harmed if we choose to work even if we are not paid. Impractical because of the way many of us work in many locations seamlessly combining work and leisure and using electronic media of all types. Unjust because if people place a high value on work, the policy not only takes away some of our pay; it also takes away working time we value for itself.

Because I am troubled by this policy, I set out to find out how we ended up with what seems like an absurd rule. I did some internet research and think I may have discovered the tortured path that led to the work ban. Because it felt that we, like Alice, had fallen down the rabbit hole, I also sought guidance from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Here is what seems to have happened:

1) The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has two categories of employees: exempt and non-exempt. An exempt person must be paid their full salary for any week they work, however many hours they actually put in. If an exempt person is furloughed, they would still have to get full pay. Non-exempt employees, on the other hand, can have their pay reduced pro-rata with a reduction in their hours. People in “learned professions” are exempt if they earn more than $455 a week (whether paid on an hourly basis or not), have specialized education, and do work that requires advanced knowledge in a field of science and learning.

2) Needless to say, faculty and some other academic personnel are classified as exempt. If the rules governing pay for exempt employees were to apply, the UW would not be able to get salary savings from furloughs because the law requires they be paid in full no matter how many hours they work.

3) Since that would defeat the whole purpose of the plan, the only solution is to turn an exempt employee into a non-exempt employee. Since classification depends on the level of education and the type of work people do, you might think this cannot be done by the stroke of a bureaucratic pen. But, remember: we are down the rabbit hole where impossible things are done every day. So, it appears that the University is going to temporarily declare that teachers and other exempt employees are non-exempt for the time period in which the furlough falls. Then, it will specify a number of hours they should work. This will be less than the number of hours they normally would work so it will be OK to cut their pay proportionately.

4) But now we come to Catch 22 (even in Wonderland there are catches). If a non-exempt worker puts in more than the hours specified, the FLSA requires that they be paid overtime. So, if the goal is to reduce everyone's pay, these workers not only have to be told that they only have to work fewer hours: they must be kept from exceeding that number of hours lest they trigger a legal claim for overtime. And that is the source of the guideline that tells us we cannot do any kind of work as well as the requirement that people must certify that they did not work.

In Wonderland all this seems very sensible. But isn't it based on an impossible thing? The FLSA's tests for which status one falls in are objective. One is exempt if one has a certain type of training and does a certain type of work and it doesn’t matter whether the employee is paid on an hourly or salary basis. So since the nature of our education and our work hasn’t changed, and merely putting us on hourly pay for this period cannot affect our classification, how can the state reclassify us as non-exempt?

To answer that, I refer you to Humpty-Dumpty:

When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all."
(Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6)

Omar bin Laden: My father killed my beloved puppies for al Qaeda.

Eh. Son of Osama bin Laden has a book to sell and he's playing on our love of puppies and hatred of his dad. Is there some fool who is thinking now — now! — I see that evil that is bin Laden? And I thought Muslims didn't keep dogs as pets.

From IslamonLine:
We are... not allowed to keep a dog as a pet, since it is not a very clean animal. How often have you come across the nasty sight of dogs taken for a walk licking their own excrement? Isn’t it disgusting to see their owners kissing the mouth of such animals after such incidents as if nothing happened? Would you kiss the mouth of your own baby if he were to do the same? Think how many parasites and microbes may be hiding in their mouths.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has spared us from being contaminated by such filth when he ordered us to stay clear of the saliva of dogs. If we ever come into contact with a dog’s saliva we must wash the spot seven times, the first of which should be with sand or dirt. It is also possible to use a bacterial soap instead of sand or dirt.

In conclusion: Don’t contemplate taking a dog home as a pet. If, however, you do need to keep a dog for [one of the 5 stated purposes at the link], then you may do so. But take every precaution not to have contact with its saliva, and also arrange for a separate living space.

"It is interesting to learn Levi is working on a piece of fiction while honing his acting skill."

What the Sarah Palin spokeswoman said in response to Levi Johnston's speculation that Palin quit the governorship because of money.

Snark, indeed. I'm just trying to decide how subtle that snark is.

Was Michael Jackson murdered?

I used that headline the day after the death was reported, and today I see "LAPD not ruling out homicide in death of Michael Jackson, top cop says":
Depending on "corroboration from the coroner's office as to the cause of death," [Police Chief Bill] Bratton suggested the investigation could lead to criminal charges. Detectives are focusing on five doctors who had treated Jackson in the past and whether they supplied him with the powerful sedative Diprivan.
Bratton is certainly not saying that the doctors may have intentionally killed Jackson.

2 world leaders demonstrate the 2 ways of conspicuously gawking at a woman's ass.


I see a distinct difference between these 2 stances. Yes, there are similarities. Both are blatant and hilarious. But the Sarkozy ass-gawking stance says: I admire but I must not act. And Obama is caught at the moment of as-yet-unconstrained pursuit.

Sarkozy holds his arms against his chest in a closed — but not tightly closed — position. The head is turned but upright. He is smiling, but the index finger lying against his lip blocks the edge of the smile from the point of view of anyone standing in front of him, though if the woman were to turn around, she would see it easily. His hand is tipped upward at a jaunty — one is tempted to say phallic — angle. The foot closest to the woman is planted firmly on the ground in the don't-go-that-way position, yet the other foot angles toward the object of desire. Still, the angled foot remains flat on the floor, and, at a shoulder's distance from the other foot, it the whole figure of the man a solid immobility.

Now, swivel your eyes over to Obama's feet. The foot closest to the woman, like Sarkozy's, is planted and aimed forward, but the other steps off in the direction of the woman, bending the knee upward into a bit of a crotch-squeeze and forming the base of a dramatic tilt of the entire body into a flexible S-shape that leans toward the woman. Obama's arms hang free, emphasizing the tilt, and either gravity or will causes the left arm to hang inches away from the torso. See how much lower the right hand is than the left? His neck is craned out and around so that the line of sight is directly at the ass. His mouth is open as if to say: That's what I want.

AND: Yes, I have seen the video, and I stand by my analysis of the still photograph.

July 9, 2009

At the Blueberry Café...


... you can burst forth.

ADDED: Chip Ahoy works his magic:

The 7th Circuit reinstates the case challenging the Wisconsin diploma privilege.

The case is Wiesmueller v. Kosobucki.
Under SCR 40.03, a diploma from an ABA-accredited law school whose curriculum includes the specific study of Wisconsin law is sufficient evidence of competency to practice in Wisconsin without a bar examination.

A class of recent graduates from ABA-accredited schools outside Wisconsin who seek a law license in Wisconsin argued that the privilege infringes on the Commerce Clause because only graduates of the law schools at Marquette and the University of Wisconsin benefit from it.

The Wisconsin Attorney General, defending the diploma privilege, has argued that the privilege is not discriminatory because of its availability to residents of any state who attend a school where Wisconsin law is taught. And if it does have an effect on interstate commerce, it is outweighed by the state’s interest in competent lawyers who know Wisconsin law, the attorney general asserts.

In its opinion, the court of appeals said that the district court’s dismissal of the action left it in “an evidentiary vacuum.” The plaintiffs had been appealing that order issued.

The court indicated that the plaintiffs should build the evidentiary record before the diploma privilege’s effect on interstate commerce can be assessed.

“[S]uppose – a supposition not only consistent with but actually suggested by the scanty record that the plaintiffs were not allowed to amplify – that Wisconsin law is no greater part of the curriculum of the Marquette and Madison law schools than it is of the law schools of Harvard, Yale, Columbus, Virginia, the University of Texas, Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Northern Illinois (which happens to be within a stone’s throw of Wisconsin, as are the three law schools in Minneapolis),” the court wrote.

“That would suggest that the diploma privilege creates an arbitrary distinction between graduates of the two Wisconsin law schools and graduates of other accredited law schools. And it is a distinction that burdens interstate commerce,” the court concluded.

The giant Perkins flag is at half staff. Why?


John Bachar had a "vision of purity" in rock climbing.

"Around noon Sunday, he fell from a formation called Dike Wall, not far from his home. He is survived by a son, Tyrus. He also leaves climbing routes bearing his name across the Yosemite Valley."

"Also he likes to be a gangsta."

A controversy over a photograph on display in the Madison Municipal Building.

"Michelle Obama walks by a HILARIOUS statue in Rome today."

Ha ha.

What would you do in NYC for a week?

Here's what Jac did.

Thing I most wish I did: the Basil Wolverton exhibit.

People who never learn to drive.

Do you know any? Are you one?

I was just reading about Quincy Jones — in the context of Michael Jackson, unsurprisingly — and, via Wikipedia, I see this:
"Sue! SLOW DOWN!" Quincy Jones screamed, his normally baritone, saxophone-esque voice jumping into Aretha terrain, his body straining against all six racing belts holding him in the seat. In fairness, the Maybach Exelero's salacious side exhaust pipes were bellowing so loudly he had to lean on his own set of pipes just to be heard. I acquiesced, backing the throttle off from snarl to purr. Quincy shot me one of his famous looks. "You are a wild woman! I like that."

And I like firsts (and onlys) - for instance, driving with a legend. So to celebrate my official return to Fortune after a seven-year hiatus, I achieved a double first-and-only: driving with Quincy in the Exelero, an $8 million one-off collaboration between Mercedes' ultra-luxury division, Maybach, and German tire manufacturer Fulda...

Jones doesn't drive, but as a passenger, he's impressed by the Maybach's power....

viI suddenly backed all the way off, the Exelero's power plant burbling raucously; if Darth Vader ever laughed, this is what it would sound like. I wanted to hear the great Mr. Jones explain why he had never actually driven. "When I was 14, I was a passenger in a terrible accident," he said. "After that, it never held any appeal. But this car makes me wish I could drive - it's a high-powered instrument. There's nothing like greatness, honey - please! I recognize it." Hey, I was just happy to be chauffeuring it.

"White House spells Obama's name wrong."


July 8, 2009

Obama kisses a baby.

Cute! (It's the 4th of July, and the baby is gripping a flag.)

Roller dancing babies — an ad, but what an ad.

(Via LGF.)

"They’re saying, 'We just don’t trust you guys.' It's the same gridlock we had last year when Bush was president."

Somehow Obama can't create agreement in the fight against "climate change" (formerly known as "global warming").

"Talking Points is just about fed up with all the [Michael Jackson] adulation."

O'Reilly has had it.

"Barack Obama forgot how he met Michelle, his wife, his guiding star! You’ve only been married to the woman since 1992, Barack. Jesus Lord."

"And last year he forgot to get her a wedding anniversary present, so he swung by Radio Shack after work and picked up a lousy DVD box set. Ugh, the DVD box set is for the twentieth anniversary!"

Wonkette, under the heading "At Least Mark Sanford Doesn’t Pretend To Love His Wife" and linking to Swampland, which says:
... Obama took the microphone in Moscow, and... made the following joke. "To the entire Class of 2009, congratulations to you. I don't know if anybody else will meet their future wife or husband in class like I did, but I'm sure that you're all going to have wonderful careers," Obama said. It's one thing for a Russian host to get the facts wrong. It was a bit more jarring when the president got them wrong, with Michelle sitting in the audience no less. The couple did not meet in class.

In Obama's defense, sleep is a scant commodity on these foreign trips, increasing the risk of verbal slip ups. And at several points in the Moscow speech, Obama seemed a bit off his game, repeatedly misspeaking words off the teleprompter. Last night, according to the pool report, Obama got back to his hotel at 12:15 p.m. local time, ending a long day with a long dinner at the home of Russian President Dimitri Medvedev and his wife. Earlier on Monday, Obama had taken an unexplained 40 minute break from his schedule to visit his hotel, delaying the start of the afternoon press conference.
Aw, a President needs sleep too. And a good afternoon nap can help prepare for a possible 3 a.m. phone call. As for misspeaking, perhaps he has a strategery.

Intrade trading on Sarah Palin to be Republican Presidential Nominee in 2012.

If Sarah Palin's quitting was so horrendous — Michelle Goldberg called it fatal — the trading graph would not look like that.

A similar message from Gallup polling:
A new USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Monday night finds a core of 19% of U.S. voters who say they are "very likely" to vote for her should she run, and an additional 24% who are somewhat likely to do so, giving her a decent reservoir of potential support to build upon. However, nearly as many voters (41%) currently say they would be not at all likely to vote for her....

The poll finds 70% saying their opinion of Palin has not changed as a result of her resignation. Though this is clearly the minority of Americans, more say their opinion of her has gotten worse (17%) than improved (9%).
A lot of people who don't like Palin are going to say their opinion got worse, but these folks don't matter to her. How many of them are in the 17%? Then you've got 9% who like her even more. And the vast majority of people say their opinion is the same.

So all this cogitating and opining over the weekend is just so much blather. Palin got away with extricating herself from her annoying duties in that remote northern outpost. And I was right to say that quitting might have been the best choice with her, it's not worth getting all exercised about now, and we can just wait and see how she does when and if she runs.

The hysteria-makers failed.

July 7, 2009

"Over the next few months. I will be seeking a more suitable way of combining a meaningful public role, with hopefully, a more private life."

"I hope you can find it in your hearts to understand and give me the time and space that has been lacking in recent years."

Before Sarah Palin, there was Princess Diana. Tina Brown makes the comparison:
Like Princess Diana, who was both an addict of fame and its tormented victim, Palin is at constant war with the exposure she seems to live for. In Diana’s case, it was the raucous tabloids and their pitiless photographers who stalked her every waking hour alone or with her children. In Palin’s case, it’s that malign aristocratic phantom, the “media elite.”

It’s hard to feel as sorry for Palin as one did for Diana. The comely governor is so cocky in her ignorance, so relentless in pursuit of her own rise to fame, her arrogance makes it much harder to see her vulnerability. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there....
Doesn't mean it is, either. And even if she is like Diana, Diana came back more powerful than ever.

(By the way, Tina Brown's book about Princess Diana, "The Diana Chronicles," is a terrific read, full of apt analysis of media and fame.)

Look how silly the Russians made Obama look...

... by giving him a really low chair:

And nice sock-pulling, Prez. Because it would only be worse if that forced hunkering exposed shin skin.

ADDED: Reminds me of this:

"The Democrats have total control."

Via Memeorandum, which links to a criticism by Greg Sargent of a minor aspect of this ad. The major thing I'm seeing here a very effective ad for the Republican Party. Of course, you can't beat something with nothing. The Republicans need more than the fact that the Democrats are scary. But the ad resonated with me. Now, Al Franken as the face of that scariness may be a bit silly. And, actually, I don't think you need to go all emotive to get the desired effect. I think I'd be more scared by a straightforward presentation of facts, recited by a sober voiceover, and no music at all.

Hey, kids!

I'm in the NYT...

And: more Sarah Palin, so get cracking. This is sure to be a 200+ comment thread.

"Has any single American of this century done more harm than Robert McNamara?"

"No one comes readily to mind. Yes, Lyndon Johnson bears greater responsibility for the damage done the nation by the Vietnam War. But McNamara is a Renaissance man. Before he helped ruin the American polity, he helped ruin the American economy, pioneering at Ford the bloodless, numbers-oriented management methods that helped bring so many corporations to their knees. After Vietnam, as head of the World Bank, he helped ruin the entire world's economy, shoveling out billions of dollars to fund failed 'development' projects. It's a tough record to match."

So wrote Mickey Kaus, in 1995.

Via Jac, who — like me in yesterday's McNamara obit-post — praises the Errol Morris documentary, "The Fog of War."

"It was an unbeLIEVable motorcade. I mean there were 3 Rolls Royces — FIVE Rolls Royces in it. 3 Escalades."

Yes. I'm watching the Michael Jackson Memorial. Isn't everybody?

12:15 CT: ABC takes us to the "service." Smokey Robinson is stumbling through reading condolences from Diana Ross, Nelson Mandela, etc. Now, nothing's happening, and the ABC newsfolk decide maybe that wasn't the service already beginning. So let's question Martin Bashir, the documentary filmmaker whose work led to Michael's arrest. Yeah, great to see you, Bashir. You're certainly welcome on this occasion. Bashir rambles, and Charlie Gibson interrupts with the assertion that Michael Jackson "probably had the singular greatest influence on the music business over the last 25 years as anyone." "Singular greatest influence"? Shouldn't that be "single greatest influence"? And if he was the single greatest influence, what do the words "as anyone" mean at the end of that sentence? Can't anybody talk anymore?

[I'll update this some more later, with a DVR assist. I can't sit in front of the TV all afternoon.]

UPDATE: It's 9 p.m. now, and I've fast-forwarded through the show, pausing occasionally. I listened to a bit of Brooke Shields talking about going out on dates with Michael when the 2 of them were teens. I listened to a bit of singing by Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson and much of the "We Are the World" extravaganza. And I cried when the young daughter paid her tribute and broke down. Exploitative? I can't say it's not, but still....

"Personally, I'm not going to be seduced by some dinosaur wanna-be..."

"... that thinks a laid-back demeanor and a shit-eating grin is going to convince me to sully my honor."

In the Company of Thieves Café.


This really is a café called In the Company of Thieves, so I suppose I should have titled this post "In the Life Drawing Café" if I want to give my usual cue that you can talk about whatever you like. But you can.

"Palin Blasts Critics, Remains Mum on 2012 Bid."

That's the headline at Fox News, and there are many other stories about whatever Sarah happened to say today.

She's got our attention locked onto her now — plain evidence of the effectiveness of her running-for-President strategy.

What the Russians love about Michelle Obama.

"She can work with her hands."

No one much cared about the clothes she wore — which made things a bit hard for the WaPo fashion columnist Robin Givhan — they're interested in her vegetable garden where she (reputedly) gets her hands dirty.

"There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a plunge."

Acting on impulse... maybe you won't, but if you will, you will have first had the impulse.

"Sanford is in love. Palin is in pain. Sometimes what it seems to be is what it is."

Why not take people at their word... at least when their words are rambling, disjointed, and apparently against self-interest?

"Just because 'actual malice' is a tough standard to meet doesn’t mean you aren’t in big trouble if someone meets it."

When the threat of a defamation suit really should scare a blogger.

The ghost of Michael Jackson.

Here's the video everyone's talking about:

Elvis-y, no?

For added eeriness, there is a Michael Jackson song "Ghost." Video here.

ADDED: Presumably, Neverland will become a tourist attraction, and Michael Jackson's ghost will be part of the allure.

July 6, 2009

A "measured" response on Don't Ask Don't Tell.

It looks like Obama is being advised to keep DADT, but apply it in a more "humane" way.
I've had conservations with him about that,” [Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike] Mullen said on CNN's State of the Union. “What I've discussed in terms of the future is I think we need to move in a measured way.”...

“I haven't done any kind of extensive review. And what I feel most obligated about is to make sure I tell the president, you know, my – give the president my best advice, should this law change, on the impact on our people and their families at these very challenging times,” he said.

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon is looking into ways to apply the law in a “more humane way.” Gates appeared to suggest he disagreed with discharges in cases where service members were maliciously outed.

“If someone is outed by a third party … does that force us to take action?” he asked.
Is that enough hope and change for you — in these very challenging times?

Coffee time!

Don't forget!





Chris and the coffee cup

That's more like it!
The 55 mice used in the University of South Florida study had been bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease....

When the mice were tested again after two months, those who were given the caffeine performed much better on tests measuring their memory and thinking skills and performed as well as mice of the same age without dementia.

Those drinking plain water continued to do poorly on the tests.

"She says, 'Yeah, you are free to take out the garbage and free to mow the lawn."

"I said 'wait a minute, you're talking to the former president.' And she said, 'Well, consider that your new domestic policy agenda.'"

Cornball foolery in the ex-President's new domain.

Too many religions!

Oh, to hell with them all!

"She's crushed. Her whole world is shattered."

When you learn, simultaneously, of your husband's affair... and murder.

Robert S. McNamara, dead at 93.

"The war became his personal nightmare. Nothing he did, none of the tools at his command — the power of American weapons, the forces of technology and logic or the strength of American soldiers — could stop the armies of North Vietnam. He concluded well before leaving the Pentagon that the war was futile, but he did not share that insight with the public until late in life."

Here's an excerpt from the great Errol S. Morris documentary "Fog of War":

It's me and Michelle Goldberg, blabbing about the governors Palin and Sanford.

On the new Bloggingheads.
Special Sex and Palin Edition

Is Sarah Palin insane?
Examining her motivations
Edwards’s sex tape vs. Sanford’s Appalachian hike
Mark Sanford’s an adulterous flake. But he’s so romantic!
Is Palin the next Obama?
Analyzing why Michelle HATES Palin

July 5, 2009

Rush Limbaugh on Sarah Palin.

He mainly says the "Beltway types" are just speculating, he doesn't know what it means, but clearly a lot of people are afraid of her:

"Trying to keep up w/getting truth to u, like proof there's no 'FBI scandal'..."

Aren't u following Sarah Palin on Twitter? I sure am!

Is it presidential to write "u" for "you"?

Don't you u look forward to the time when world leaders will just text each other? Frankly, I believe when that day comes, we will have world peace.

(Ultra-cute heart doodle from DeniseKerr.com.)

The 20 Most Terrifying Pictures...

... of Ronald McDonald.

(Via James Gunn.)

At the Green-and-Purple Café...



... you can make associations and take a point of view.

"It's growing in the street right up through the concrete/But soft and sweet and dreaming..."

So wrote Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector about the Rose in Spanish Harlem.

And then there's the Queen Anne's lace here in Madison...

Queen Anne's lace growing out of the library

It's growing right up through the concrete, and, even here, Anne/Ann is feeling soft and sweet and dreaming....

An essay on dignity.

That WaPo apology got me thinking about this: From "Welcome to the Dollhouse," a movie I highly recommend.

Katharine Weymouth apologizes for whatever somehow happened at the Washington Post.

The Publisher and CEO of The Washington Post addresses us dear readers:
I want to apologize for a planned new venture that went off track and for any cause we may have given you to doubt our independence and integrity. A flier distributed last week suggested that we were selling access to power brokers in Washington through dinners that were to take place at my home. The flier was not approved by me or newsroom editors, and it did not accurately reflect what we had in mind. But let me be clear: The flier was not the only problem. Our mistake was to suggest that we would hold and participate in an off-the-record dinner with journalists and power brokers paid for by a sponsor. We will not organize such events.
My lawyer's eye fixates on one word — in that last sentence: will.

You start out with your terrible, suggestive flier. And just when my mind is screaming quit putting all the blame on the damned flier, you're all let me be clear: The flier was not the only problem.

Okay, so you will confess that you did plan to sell access to power brokers in Washington through dinners that were to take place at your home?

Then on to the crisp declarative We will not organize such events. You skipped a step!

I know you won't organize "such events" now — now that you've been publicly humiliated. You're glossing over the key thing you ought to apologize for: that you did organize a series of dinners at your home to make money giving access to Washington power brokers.
Like other media companies, The Post hosts conferences and live events that bring together journalists, government officials and other leaders for discussions of important topics. These events make news and inform their audiences. We had planned to extend this business to include smaller gatherings, a practice that has become common at other media companies.

From the outset, we laid down firm parameters to ensure that these events would be consistent with The Post's values. If the events were to be sponsored by other companies, everything would be at arm's length -- sponsors would have no control over the content of the discussions, and no special access to our journalists.

If our reporters were to participate, there would be no limits on what they could ask. They would have full access to participants and be able to use any information or ideas to further their knowledge and understanding of any issues under discussion. They would not be asked to invite other participants and would serve only as moderators.

When the flier promoting our first planned event to potential sponsors was released, it overstepped all these lines. Neither I nor anyone in our news department would have approved any event such as the flier described.
Gah! Must I sort through that? Will anyone sort through that? What are "firm parameters"? And how firm can they be if they don't work? And what are "The Post's values" — other than what The Post actually does? And how does the flier come into existence when nobody could possibly have caused it to exist? There's some abstruse theology here, and it's annoying me.
We have canceled the planned dinner. While I do believe there is a legitimate way to hold such events...

We all make mistakes and hope to be forgiven for them. I apologize to our readers for the mistakes I made in this case.
Which mistakes did you, specifically, make? I can't figure it out from this letter.
We remain committed to you, our readers.
Well, of course. There isn't even any influence to sell if you don't have readers. There's no dilemma here at all for you.
We remain committed to the highest standards of integrity. And while we will continue to pursue new lines of business, we will never allow those new avenues to compromise our integrity.
So you're still doing something — ambling down "new avenues" — but you will will will will will will will do it with integrity this time. And if you get caught again, if somebody somehow — not you — stumbles over the firm parameters on the new avenues, then we dear readers will surely hear that you will get it right in the future.

"Caribou Barbie is one nutty puppy," says Maureen Dowd, who wants to be sure you know that Sarah Palin is crazy.

Yes, yes, Palin is crazy. I'm hearing it and hearing it, and naturally, my working theory is that Palin's opponents are taking advantage of the opportunity to paint a vivid picture in the public mind. Crazy, crazy, cah-ray-zeeeee.

Dowd does the diagnosis, plucking a term out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or rather plucking a term out of Todd Purdum's Vanity Fair hit-piece:
And so it was, Todd Purdum learned, as he traveled Alaska reporting on Palin for Vanity Fair, that the governor’s erratic and egoistic behavior has been a source of concern for people there.

“Several told me, independently of one another,” Purdum writes, “that they had consulted the definition of ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — ‘a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy’ — and thought it fit her perfectly.”
Oh! Lord help us! There were people there! There were several. Oh, my lord. Several! Several told Purdum that they were the sort of jackasses that go flipping through the DSM to leverage their displeasure with a powerful person in their vicinity.

Memo to Purdum, Dowd, and the several people there in Alaska: Everybody who runs for high office will have a lot of check marks on the DSM list of symptoms of "narcissistic personality disorder."

I mean, maybe Fred Thompson didn't, but you see, it's a problem if you don't have these things. Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, etc. etc. — who among them lacks a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, blah blah blah? Oh, but they have empathy, you burble. Bullshit! Watch all the Democrats try to claim the empathy loophole to the narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis. Ha! Bullshit! They all have it. And don't throw your money at a prospective candidate who doesn't. He'll poop out, like Fred.

Memo to the good folks who construct the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual: Consider constructing an official disorder definition that will perfectly fit the kind of people who try to understand human individuals in their vicinity by consulting DSM checklists.


The link goes, of course, to the NYT, so there's no link to the Vanity Fair article upon which Dowd relies so heavily. Link withholding — a symptom on what DSM disorder checklist?

Scenes from a double murder.

Picture this:
On Saturday, Wayne Neeley, a friend of [former NFL quaterback Steve] McNair’s who co-rented the condominium with him, entered it just before 1 p.m. He found McNair on a sofa and [his 20-year-old female friend Sahel] Kazemi on the floor in the living room, the police said. At first, Neeley did not notice they were dead, but then he found blood near the bodies. He called Robert Gaddy, another friend of McNair’s, and Gaddy called the police.

Double murder, but is one of the murders self-murder?
Both bodies were found in the living room of the condominium, [a police spokesman] said, with McNair on a sofa and Kazemi on the floor close to him. A pistol was found near Kazemi at the scene....