August 22, 2009

Unidentified fruit, which we tasted.


It was sweet. Until it was bitter. Then we spit it out. And still we live.

An inside look at sex.

MRI video.

Via Dave Barry, who says: "Do not click on the link unless you are prepared to view explicit images in which you can't really tell what the hell is going on..." And commenter insomniac nails it: "ahhh, sweet m.r.i. of life at last i've found you..."

Sorry. I don't believe it was *ever* cool/hip to call something/someone "Obama" to mean it/he was cool/hip.

But the NYT nevertheless has this style piece:
LAST week, if you wanted to use the latest slang to tell a friend he was cool, you could have called him “Obama,” as in: “Dude, you’re rocking the new Pre phone? You are so Obama.”

This week? Best not to risk it.
Yeesh. If you risked it before, go ahead: risk it! You seem pretty un-risk-averse. Chez Althouse, we've been thinking it's amusing to say, whenever anything's not quite right: Why did Obama let that happen? Or just — with a tone of sad disappointment: Obama.

But anyway, "Obama" as an adjective for cool/hip? The point is that it didn't last:
The life of slang is now shorter than ever, say linguists, and what was once a reliable code for identifying members of an in-group or subculture is losing some of its magic.

The Internet “is robbing slang of a lot of its sociolinguistic exclusionary power,” said Robert A. Leonard, a linguistics professor at Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y., whose slang credentials include being a founding member of the doo-wop group Sha Na Na, formed in the late 1960s. “If you are in a real inside group, you are manufacturing slang so that you can exclude the wannabes.”

And that becomes harder, he added, as the whole world has access to your language.
... whose slang credentials include being a founding member of the doo-wop group Sha Na Na... Ha ha. I like to think his linguistics scholarship focuses on the meaning of nonsense syllables in doo wop songs. (Because, really, WHO put the bomp?)

Nowadays, everyone can check Urban Dictionary. The exclusionary game is up.

And what's the #1 entry over at Urban Dictionary for "Obama"? With 7468 up votes and 2099 down:
No real definition for this word is possible at this time. Check back in 4 years by then a consensus by have formed. Each person projects his personal beliefs and values onto this word, and a standard meaning isn't possible at this time.
Hey, did it suddenly become hip and cool to be all clear-headed and rational?!

"Bringing up the subject of the current first lady's shorts — indeed even admitting to noticing them — already has people booting up their laptops..."

"... and taking big, gulping swigs of self-righteousness before firing off e-mails and tweets declaring the whole discussion pointless."

Robin Givhan wants to talk about Michelle Obama's shorts. She's a fashion writer, okay? Deal with it!

And fashion is important. ("[C]lothes are part of our broader aesthetic obligation to each other.")

By the way, did you watch the first episode of the new season of "Project Runway"? On — ugh! — Lifetime now, instead of Bravo.

The argument that Congress doesn't have the power to force citizens to buy health insurance.

First, I wonder how many of the uninsured realize that the health care plan is going to require them to buy insurance. Anyway, the issue here is about the scope of Congress's commerce power. Lawyers David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey point out that the uninsured are not currently doing anything in the commercial/economic sphere. They are basically doing nothing — failing to provide for themselves. How can Congress regulate this nonaction?
The federal government does not have the power to regulate Americans simply because they are there. Significantly, in two key cases, United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (2000), the Supreme Court specifically rejected the proposition that the commerce clause allowed Congress to regulate noneconomic activities merely because, through a chain of causal effects, they might have an economic impact....

"Barack Obama’s Big Bang is beginning to backfire..."

"... as his plans for rapid, once-in-a-generation overhauls of energy, financial regulation and health care are running into stiff resistance, both in Washington and around the country. The Obama theory was simple, though always freighted with risk: Use a season of economic anxiety to enact sweeping changes the public likely wouldn’t stomach in ordinary times. But the abrupt swing in the public’s mood, from optimism about Obama’s possibility to concern he may overreaching, has thrown the White House off its strategy and forced the president to curtail his ambitions."

"Big Bang." I call it "Shock and Awe":

Liberals out-organized conservatives in blogging, but conservatives are doing better with Twitter.

Or so the liberal bloggers say.
“Conservatives are always good at pushing that one concise message. The death panels are easy to tweet. The explanation for why there are no death panels and making that explanation takes much more explanation. You can’t do that on Twitter.”
So their ideas are sophisticated and fact-based, while their opponents throw around ideology and the fantasy that supports it. That's the politico's delusion, in a nutshell. But I've got to laugh at the way blogging now represents the in-depth development of ideas. I'm just too deep for Twitter. I'm a blogger. LOL.


That politico's delusion reminds me of Skeptoid's explanation for why he won't debate pseudoscientists anymore:
The pseudoscientist ... can say whatever he wants. If compelling rhetoric would benefit from any given argument, he can always make that argument. Pseudosciences have typically been designed around compelling rhetorical arguments. The facts of science, on the other hand, rarely happen to coincide with the best possible logic argument. Having the facts on your side is not an advantage, it's a limitation; and it's a limitation that's very dangerous to the cause of science should you throw it onto the debate floor.

Do you understand the massive destruction the government is paying for?

The destruction of perfectly operable cars?

Here, look, this is a Corvette, being destroyed pursuant to government policy. I'm skipping ahead to the really destructive part:

The government, which took over General Motors, wants us to hate Corvettes?

Look at all that smoke! Does anyone care about actual pollution anymore? (As opposed to carbon dioxide.)

And look at all the waste! What about all the energy was used producing the car? That is being squandered now, on the theory that a new car will use less gas (assuming it's driven the same number of miles). And energy was used to manufacture the new car. Using old things longer — preserving things — is a way to decrease the consumption of fossil fuels that are used in production. I don't see how Cash for Clunkers factored in all the energy use that is involved in destroying one car and making another.

And it really pains me to see the destruction of something beautiful and good.

Did CIA interrogators stage mock executions and brandish a gun and a drill to frighten detainees into giving up information?

The tactics -- which one official described Friday as a threatened execution -- were used on Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, according to the CIA's inspector general's report on the agency's interrogation program....

Three months before Nashiri's capture, the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel -- Jay S. Bybee, now a federal judge -- advised the CIA in an August 2002 memo that threats of "imminent death" were not illegal unless they deliberately produced prolonged mental harm. Independent legal experts have called that interpretation too hedged and thus too lax....

A ... former U.S. official who has read the full, classified report said that it contained an entire section listing ways in which the CIA and contracted interrogators had "gone beyond what they were authorized to do -- a whole variety of deviations." The official said that what struck him most strongly was that the report suggested these techniques were "really not effective."

He said he concluded that "there has to be a better way to do this" but that the CIA resisted suggestions then that it should back away from the program. Asked why, the official said he could not say for sure, but he added that "maybe it was that if you change, then it means you were wrong" in pursuing the harsh interrogation methods in the first place.

"We’re not in the postracial period," says NY governor David Paterson.

"My feeling is it’s being orchestrated, it’s a game, and people who pay attention know that."

"It" = the opposition to his running for (can't call it re-)election as NY governor. Why, if he was never chosen for governor in the first place, does he assume he should be more popular? And, of course, he can't possibly think that this complaint will increase his popularit. Is he giving up?

August 21, 2009

At Queen Anne's Alehouse...


... you can talk long into the wee (wee) hours.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen won't defend the domestic partnership law.

''When the people have spoken by amending our Constitution, I will abide by their command. When policy makers have ignored their words, I will not.''

The new statutory scheme is being challenged by the Wisconsin Family Council on the ground that it violates the anti-same-sex marriage amendment that was added to the state constitution in 2006. Here is an earlier blog post on the case.

Governor Doyle — who just announced that he won't run for re-election — is predictably displeased.

Is Van Hollen launching a run?

ADDED: Here's the memo written by (my UW Law School colleague) David Schwartz on the legal issue in the case: PDF. Doyle released the memo yesterday as a response to Van Hollen's decision. I have not read the memo yet.

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got...


... a muffin... and a friend?

"Supporters of the [Obama family's] getaway include Hugh Taylor, owner of the Vineyard's The Outermost Inn."

"Says Taylor, brother of singer James Taylor: 'They should just take a walk on the beach, get squirted in the face by a clam, watch an osprey. What I would like to see (Obama) do is just enjoy this place with his children.'"

You just call on a clam,
And you know wherever I am
I will squirt you, oh yeah baby
Right in the face.
Just take a walk on the beach,
I will you a lesson teach.
I will squirt you, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a clam.

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a clam?
People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
They'll take your soul if you let them.
Oh, but don't you let them...

"Hip, cool and heathy" — it's Feline Wellness magazine.

And, no, it is not a satire:


We really are meant to take "The healing power of CATNIP" and "Feng Shui and Felines" seriously. And just ask your cat what title he'd like for an article about how he is shitting all over the house. I think it would be: "Outside the box."

ADDED: As you may notice — at the very bottom — this was at Whole Foods. It was, once again, teeming with people — all Republicans? In Madison? Well, I didn't see any Obama bumper stickers. I saw one "IMPEACH" sticker. So, I guess it's here. The Impeach Obama movement. But why? What grounds? Ineffectiveness isn't grounds. Claiming to be — or inadequate performance as — "God's partner"? Posing as a natural-born citizen? Who knows? I didn't get a chance to chat with the sticker sticker.

"Everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up."

What the President meant was that everybody's ... peeing.

Look out! Sarah's got a new Facebook entry about health care.

This time, she wants the thing Obama won't talk about: malpractice law reform.

"[Horst Schlaemmer's] campaign slogan 'Yes weekend' is inspired by Barack Obama..."

"... and he has pledged to replace Germany's national emblem - the eagle - with a bunny."

The tree has a big gaping hole in its nubby sweater...


... and I just want to rub its cute little belly. Don't you?

Stare into the tree's eye.


Will it ever blink?

AND: Keep staring:

(Thanks, Chip.)

"[T]he inspiring figure progressives thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat..."

"... who talks of 'bending the curve' but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. Mr. Obama’s explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee."

That's Paul Krugman. He's arguing that "progressives are now in revolt," that Obama took them for granted and needs to win their trust back. Obama also has a big problem with moderates. Basically, Obama has a big problem. He got lots of people to trust him, chiefly by doing exactly what Krugman now complains about: speaking in vague generalities. It only works from a distance.

Tom Ridge has a book to sell and a book, to sell, needs a big, juicy, media-ready nugget...

... a chunk of steak buried in the dog food. Grrrrrrr.... mmmm.... grrrrr..... num num num....

AND: The denials are predictable:
"Under no circumstance was Tom Ridge or anyone else directed to change the threat level... It didn’t work that way, and it certainly didn’t work that way in 2004. It was always an apolitical process."
Ridge "felt pressured." They didn't "direct." Everybody could be telling the (half) truth.

The "terminally ill" Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, walks off the plane to a hero's welcome.

Photograph. Just how "terminally ill" is that guy? He should be on a stretcher and have tubes attached if there was any reason for Scotland to show mercy on on the man who blew up 270 human beings. He doesn't look anywhere near close enough to dying. What kind of death panel decided he was dying?

Meanwhile, back in America — and consider that most of Megrahi's victims were American — Barack Obama is displeased:
"We have been in contact with the Scottish government indicating that we objected to it," President Barack Obama said of Thursday's release.

"We thought it was a mistake. We are now in contact with the Libyan government, and want to make sure that if in fact this transfer has taken place, he is not welcomed back in some way but instead should be under house arrest...."
Indicating that we objected... Let me indicate that I find Barack Obama infuriatingly bland. Has he ever showed passion (this purveyor of empathy) – has he ever showed staunch resolve in the war on terror?

Janet Daley writes:
The credibility of Barack Obama’s influence on the world is going to take at least as hard a knock. In the end, all the protests and all the diplomatic pressure from the White House counted for nothing. Scotland’s determination to return Megrahi to the bosom of his family and his homeland was not going to be blocked.

The rehabilitation of America’s standing in the world was going to be one of the great gains, if you remember, of the Obama election victory.... The President and his Secretary of State could do nothing - for all their administration’s supposed global prestige - to prevent what they considered to be an outrage. On yet another score, Mr Obama could not deliver the goods.

"[Neil] Hamburger’s sets of hackneyed, setup-and-punch line jokes with a side of the bitter are built to bomb..."

"... and rely on pop-culture references that are either too soon for good taste (look for some Michael Jackson jokes on his current tour) or stale going on oblivious. (Who else is still talking about Smash Mouth in 2009?) Yet this rumpled husk of a comic also proclaims his adoration for good old showbiz and laments its decline, especially when he interrupts his shows to scream at audience members who egg on his pitifully out-of-date shtick."

(Clips at that link illustrate the technique well.)

Were you at Neil Hamburger's show at the High Noon Saloon last night? We were. Let this fuzzy iPhone pic prove it:


Or did you make it to "RiffTrax Live: Plan 9 from Outer Space"? We missed that unfortunately, but had a lot of fun laughing at Neil Hamburger and his painfully bad jokes — and JP Inc. and his theme songs for TV shows that don't exist.

August 20, 2009

"It’s more or less, I want to be alive again. Going here, going there. My husband, I want to be able to do things for him."

So says the patient to the palliative care doctor. Palliative care doctor? " They study how to deliver bad news, and they do it again and again. They know secrets like who, as a rule, takes it better. They know who is more likely to suffer silently, and when is the best time to suggest a do-not-resuscitate order."

"Primiti Too Taa" on YouTube, at last!

I loved this when I saw it at some animation festival years ago and am so pleased to find it — Via Metafilter — on YouTube:

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee po!

"People can say whatever they like but the truth will remain, which is that my child is a girl."

"She is my little girl. I raised her and I have never doubted her gender. She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times."

Caster Semenya.

Talk about an "arrogant bastard"!

Is it Bob Dylan... or Graeme Wood?

Wood quotes every jackass he can find in Hibbing, Minnesota and never even considers the theory that Dylan sings not like the townsfolk he heard talk but the singers he heard sing.

"Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served but mercy be shown."

Mercy to the man who exploded 259 human beings into the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Obama would like you to see government as religion.

He addresses a group of religious leaders:
“I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Mr. Obama told a multidenominational group of pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders who support his goal to remake the nation’s health care system.
Bearing false witness? Breaking the 9th Commandment? So his opponents are sinners. I'm trying to imagine the separation-of-church-and-state freakout if George Bush had taken this approach to arguing for one of his policies.
According to the lede paragraph in the linked NYT article:
President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.
Strangely, the context of that quote — "a core ethical and moral obligation" — is missing from the body of the article. Was something cut? Was it too embarrassing? Too Bush-y? I have to go elsewhere:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: OK, for some, that public option has gone over like a lead balloon. So how about plan B, morality? Is that the secret weapon strategy to get health care reform? President Obama went on a conference call today with thousands of religious people, arguing health care reform is a moral issue. The president also argued against what he calls "ludicrous lies" made up about his health plan.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation. That is that we look out for one other, that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. And in the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.
Now, we know that Barack Obama doesn't "keep" his actual brother — we remember George Hussein Onyango Obama, the brother who lives a hut — and it's clear that what he means is that government has the moral obligation to regard all citizens as brothers and sisters — I'm coining the word sibizens — and to care for them.

I'd really like to find the full text of what was — if I'm to believe Van Susteren — a big telephone call. It's not on the White House website. There's a bit more here (at ABC):
Mr. Obama called on the religious leaders to help him share the good word about health care reform and set the record straight.

“I need you to knock on doors, talk to your neighbors. I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth,” he said.
Sharing the "good word"? Good Lord! Is this the Gospel? Mark 16:
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
Obama says believe. Believe or be condemned as sinners. And go forth into the world. Preach the good news. Speak the truth.
"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
Talk about the blue pill! Just wait until the government lays its hands on you. In Barack's name, you will get well.

Government as religion — it's a poisonous notion! But drink it, drink it. Believe! It will not hurt you at all!

"We are God's partners in matters of life and death," Obama said, according to [Rabbi Jack] Moline (paging Sarah Palin...), quoting from the Rosh Hashanah prayer that says that in the holiday period, it is decided "who shall live and who shall die."

"We got plenty of gas in the grill, Fire up the cat."

Ill-timed joke.

"I think we're going to see somebody, you know, some sort of Squeaky Frromme, some sort of Mark Hinckley figure..."

You mean John Hinckley? Or Mark David Chapman? Or are you just making everything up?

MSNBC in full fantasy mode, raving about assassination and racists — and editing out the inconvenient fact that the man with a gun was black.

Jobs migrate into government...

... as the private sector shrinks.

The kilogram. Really, *the* kilogram.

It's a particular cylinder. Don't sneeze on it. Be careful washing it. Dislodge a molecule and you throw off all the weights in the world.

August 19, 2009

At the Thistle Tavern...


... be sharp, be prickly.

"Compared to 99 percent of the world, she makes a vast fortune."

"The problem occurs when a person becomes so famous that they start feeling that they’re more in line financially with Oprah or Madonna.

The linked article is long — but fascinating.

"It is difficult to imagine how you can have something as soft and sloppy..."

".. as an ink sac fossilised in three dimension, still black, and inside a rock that is 150 million years old."

A picture of the 150-million-year-old squid was drawn with its own ink.

"The ugliness of the Armadillo is what makes it unique."

"A police car is not a particular stigma, but if people see that thing in front of your house, they know something bad is going on in there."

Okay, now, take a deep breath.


Everybody calm down.

If the end-of-life consultation is supposed to be voluntary...

... then "what did Obama mean when he said, '[T]here is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place'? If the only issue were voluntarily providing people with information about hospice care and the like — well, that doesn't sound controversial at all! Why would that require a 'very difficult democratic conversation'? Why would Obama say it raises 'very difficult moral issues'?"

Quite aside from what the 1000-page bill says, it's hard to figure out what Obama is talking about. He's pushing the bill, and yet he keeps saying the most disturbing things... as if he's breaking it to us gently.

"I thought, why wouldn’t I take this case? Because someone at the Federalist Society thinks I’d be making bad law? I wouldn’t be making bad law."

Ted Olson.

"On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

Barney Frank answers a question:

"You want me to talk about it or do you want to yell?" he asked over and over when interrupted while trying to answer. Continued shouting brought a sterner rebuke.

"Disruption never helps your cause," he said more than once. "It just looks like you're afraid to have rational discussion."...

"What's the matter with you all?" he said. "I don't know if you get angrier when I answer the questions, or when you don't think I do."
Ha ha. I love hearing Frank voice his confusion about whether people are accepting his answers as serious efforts at fully answering the questions. He doesn't know if they hate his actual answers or if they know he's not really answering. I'm guessing he knows he's not fully answering, and he knows they hate his partial answers, and he's trying to calculate whether giving full answers would get a better result. On the one hand, they'd be full answers, but on the other hand, they'd be there presenting a big target for the crowd's contempt.

August 18, 2009

The view from Gibraltar.

Gibraltar, in Lodi, Wisconsin

Gibraltar, in Lodi, Wisconsin

Gibraltar, in Lodi, Wisconsin

In Lodi, Wisconsin, about 30 miles north of Madison, where we hiked today.

It's the new Bloggingheads — with me and Bob Wright.

ADDED: Chip Ahoy offers this:

At the Placemat Crayon Café...


... start scribbling!

AND: Paddy O said, "Let's see Meade's portrait of you." Okay:


"An' there the police sat so patiently/waiting to find out white rice..."

"... you can put sardines on to get out of / eating all those leftovers twice."


(Remedial reading for the Dylan-deprived: here. Remedial listening: here. Best Dylan ever, arguably. Approximately.)

(Re-meade-ial reading.)

What we watched off the TiVo last night.

1. "Death Camp of Tolerance." (And no, we're not going to using "Lemmiwinks" as a pet name for our dear commenter Lem.) ("Death Camp" ≈ "death panels," no?)

2. "The Colbert Report," #05108 with Barbara Boxer. (Haven't watched Colbert in a while. He's less funny pretending to hate Democrats than he was pretending to love Republicans.)

3. "Trapped Under a Boulder." (This one never gets old. Well, what would you do if you were out camping amongst the Australian boulders and you had to pee in the middle of the night? Watch for the crawfish cameo.)

"But seriously, in this movie there is no sex. No violence. No eye candy. No action, really, except what’s in your imagination."

"But there are ideas. Oh, how there are ideas! And there is a kind of benevolent godliness to it. And there is a way to live your life."

All I can say is just: Be sure to drink your Ovaltine®.

Michael Kors does not wear the same thing every day.

"No! There's fat black jackets, medium black jackets, skinny black jackets. Black T shirts that are brand new that look really black, black T shirts that you sleep in that are kind of gray, and midtone black T shirts."

And let Michael tell you about the biggest fashion mistake:
I think most people's clothes don't fit. I'm always bewildered. I'm like, "Do people ever look at themselves in the three-way mirror? Like, did you see what your ass looks like?" Americans get hung up on the actual size tag.

"That's fried mush, baby! You're a Hoosier now."


1. Meade makes mush ... apropos of all that grits talk in the Whole Foods threads (1 & 2). And yes, we bought the corn meal mush at Whole Foods.

2. Enlarge for details — but don't think you'll be able read the papers. I've blurred out all the text.

3. To answer the question I'm sure is coming first: Yes, the bacon is Nueskes. And you can't buy that at Whole Foods.

4. Answer to that other question: Ate Berries in the Canaries.

5. Note the hinge defect. Unpropped, the thing lies flat. I've heard of the much-rumored Apple tablet, but the Air should not pretend to be one.

6. That stool is a Swopper. (Buy one: here.)

7. Popcorn.

The adorable little house.


In Silverton, Colorado.

Instead of bemoaning this "Will shag for beer" T-shirt...


... that's too easy... let's make up theories according to which it's a brilliant idea to wear it.

(Photo taken at the Starbucks near the Capitol in Madison.)

"If zombies actually existed, an attack by them would lead to the collapse of civilisation unless dealt with quickly and aggressively."

"That is the conclusion of a mathematical exercise carried out by researchers in Canada. They say only frequent counter-attacks with increasing force would eradicate the fictional creatures."

"Screw you! I'm a beta male!"

Bob states a theory for the evolution of sex difference in that clip, but doesn't it depend on an incorrect assumption that sons inherit their characteristics from their fathers and daughters from their mothers?







August 17, 2009

At the Orange and Purple Café...


... you can be colorful as you like.

(Photo from Silverton, Colorado.)

Doyle won't run for reelection.

So who should be the next governor of Wisconsin?

40% of Americans now call themselves "conservative" or "very conservative," while only 21% say they are "liberal" or "very liberal."

A new Gallup poll.

Obama retreats on and the public option.

1. "Following a furor over how the data would be used, the White House has shut down an electronic tip box — — that was set up to receive information on 'fishy' claims about President Barack Obama’s health plan."

2. "The 'public option,' a new government insurance program akin to Medicare, has been a central component of Mr. Obama’s agenda for overhauling the health care system, but it has also emerged as a flashpoint for anger and opposition.... For Mr. Obama, giving up on the public plan would have risks and rewards. The reward is that he could punch a hole in Republican arguments that he wants a 'government takeover' of health care and possibly win some Republican votes." (Republican? If the anger was restricted to Republicans, would he care?)

"I'm dreading watching the skit where Michael Ian Black walks down the street in his underwear to some song other than the Breeders' 'Cannonball'..."

"... I might need to mute the TV and listen to it on my iPod for that skit. It was one of the first things that got me interested in rock music."

1. What first got you interested in rock music? Probably not "Cannonball"/underwear, but surely it was something.

2. Did you used to watch "The State" on MTV? Did you know you can buy it now on DVD (but not necessarily with the same songs on the the soundtrack)?

3. Do you understand exactly what made "The State" so funny? (Analysis and "The Jew, the Italian, and the Redhead Gay" at the link.)

"Sebelius Misspoke."

LOL. Speaking of euphemisms....

"Death panel" rhetoric — and other dysphemisms.

I'm trying to think of other examples like "death panels." Proponents of a policy will naturally give it a positive-sounding — even euphemistic — name. Opponents make their rhetorical move with a label of their own. Help me think of some examples that parallel Sarah Palin's extremely effective "death panels." I'm especially interested in terms used by Bush opponents.

I'm also trying to think of the proper term for the opposite of a euphemism. I'm seeing dysphemism, malphemism, and cacophemism on line, but not in my "hard" dictionary. (What's the retronym for a good, authoritative dictionary in book form? I've been calling it my "hard dictionary," the way you'd say "hard line" for a non-cell telephone. And I've started using my hard dictionary more and more lately, because the internet seems to verify the existence of every word and meaning.)

For the opposite of euphemism, I'm going to use dysphemism, because I think dys- is the precise opposite of eu-. Proponents tend to name their policies euphemistically, so it's fair for opponents to counter with the opposite. Dysphemism suggests that an appropriate term has been chosen to balance the positive term used by the other side. I do like the word cacophemism, but it calls to mind cacophony which — to my ear — makes it seem as though the speaker is just making noise, trying to confuse things.

Yes, yes, I know. You — some of you — think Sarah Palin was trying to confuse things when she said "death panels." But that's not my point. My point is that it's an ordinary part of debate to put new — and inflammatory — labels on policies you are opposed to.

So let's look at some dysphemisms deployed by the opponents of George W. Bush. I've come up with 2 to get us started. 1. "Eavedropping" (and "spying") to refer to Bush's domestic surveillance program (which, of course, Obama has carried on), and 2. "Gulag" for Guantanamo.

August 16, 2009

"In thanksgiving to Christ of the Mines for deliverance of the entire work force when Lake Emma flooded Sunnyside Mine."



In the Anvil Mountains overlooking Silverton, Colorado.


Please leave a message....


"Hello Ms. Althouse. My name is Tyrone Steels II and I am the site/server administrator (and sometimes co-blogger) of The Moderate Voice..."

Oh, no. It's what you might call The Moderate Email...from Tyrone Steels II (if that is his real name)...
As a regular reader of your blog...
I'll bet.
... I was disappointed...
Oh? You had such hopes for me, didn't you?
... when you attributed the post "Whole Food Boycott Picks Up Steam" to TMV writers. Editor-in-chief regularly posts "Guest Voice" posts on the site.
Well, then editor-in-chief must have thought he had something that fit in the place he calls The Moderate Voice.
The post was clearly identified as a Guest Voice and not a regular TMV contributor. Mr. Gandelman likes posting "Guest Voices" to stir the pot, if you will (Michael Reagan has been posted many times as a "Guest Voice").
To stir the pot, if you will... (What if I won't?) Stirring the pot is consistent with voice moderation? It's fine if "Mr. Gandelman" does whatever he likes, but I like saying when the name of a blog doesn't fit with what goes on under that name.... whether you will or not.
The Moderate Voice as [sic] many writers. Some conservative and some liberal. We don't hold writers [sic] feet to the fire but there have [sic] been a larger percentage of the liberal viewpoint rather than the conservative viewpoint recently. This is simply due to conservative writers not posting as much. So the site does tilt but it isn't an intentional thing. But that is regarding the regular writers, not "Guest Voices".
It's not my job to monitor your site, but my impression is that it leans left, as I think you are conceding. But I don't care about that. I was talking about moderation of the voice, and the way saying someone "shot his company in the face" is not a moderate way to speak.
In the future, if you could, please distinguish between "Guest Voices" and regular writers at The Moderate Voice?
No. If you put up a post, it's part of your blog. It's under the name "The Moderate Voice," and if I want to say a post on that blog is inconsistent with the name of the blog, I will say just that — and I'll give you a link. If you want some disclaimer, put it where you want on your blog, as big as you want it. I'm not cluttering my posts with hedging that doesn't mean anything to me. I linked. That's what I give you.
I think it would be beneficial to all bloggers to be very clear who they are agreeing or disagreeing with so their aren't any misunderstandings.
I'll be the judge of what's beneficial to me and my readers. If you don't want a writer associated with the name of your blog, don't let them post on your blog. The details of which writers you're vouching for and which are there to "stir the pot" are your business, not mine. I linked. That's the blogging ethic, in my view. My readers click on the link and can see what I'm talking about. If you haven't made it clear, you fix it.
Thank you very much and keep up the great writing!
Oh, ridiculous. You give a damn about my writing?
Tyrone Steels II
Chief Technology Officer
ENXIT Group, LLC " Equity Opportunity For The New Century"......
Office: (678) 701-XXXX
Fax: (678) 954-XXXX
Okay, why is the
Chief Technology Officer guy schooling me on blogging ethics? And ENXIT? What is it? I go to the URL:
Enx·it [eng-zit, enk-sit]

1. An act of entering
2. A way or passage out
3. A combination of entrance and exit point(s).
So... they don't know if they are coming or going? (Like this?)
The Enxit Group L.L.C. was created out of a group of ideas formulated at the virtual consortium SEMTAN Media in late 2005. The theme of Enxit was developed around a requirement to incorporate flexibility into a commerce model and endeavor which could identify and manage opportunities employing technological antecedents to improve efficiency. The Enxit Group is deigned to be facilitate PEST [political, economic, socio-cultural, and technological] antecedents which are rapidly integrating our global society, creating equity for all participants.
And I am deigned to be damned if I know what the hell you are talking about, but.... thank you very much and keep up the great writing!

ADDED: I had what was for me a very memorable run-in with The Moderate Voice back in November 2006: "So much for moderation.... I think Joe [Gandelman] had a nice blog going, one that lived up to its title. Maybe it's not a good idea to have a blog title that makes such a distinct claim, but...."

Are we having a conversation yet?

"I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place."


Man, "conversation" has become one of those Orwellian words. There it is in Obama's NYT interview, where he's saying something that invites the relabeling that Sarah Palin so effectively slapped on it — "death panels."
It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that's part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It's not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that's part of what I suspect you'll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.
Conversations! Damn! As if the government does not have power! Oh, but it's "not determinative," you say. It's just "some guidance." He said that, see? Ugh! Spare me! We're right to be afraid now, while the man is burbling about conversation. You know damned well he's about to say and now the time for conversation is over, and we must pass legislation. Before, he was all quick, shut up, it's an emergency, pass the legislation. People freaked, so then he deemed the period of freakage part of the conversation, and there, it has occurred, and now: shut up, pass the legislation. Oh, yeah, here it is, in today's NYT, an op-ed by Barack Obama:
Our nation is now engaged in a great debate about the future of health care in America. And over the past few weeks, much of the media attention has been focused on the loudest voices. What we haven’t heard are the voices of the millions upon millions of Americans who quietly struggle every day with a system that often works better for the health-insurance companies than it does for them....
It's "debate" now, not "conversation," because the wrong people are doing the talking. The real conversation is what those people who aren't talking would say.
The long and vigorous debate about health care that’s been taking place over the past few months is a good thing. It’s what America’s all about.

But let’s make sure that we talk with one another, and not over one another. We are bound to disagree, but let’s disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed. This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.
Okay! Let's pick it all apart and examine everything. Have you read the great WSJ op-ed by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey? He had some serious ideas on some real issues, but wait, how dare he speak! How dare he get in the way of the Democrats' ramming legislation through Congress. The Democrats know what the millions upon millions of silent Americans really think, so he and those other loud voices need to quiet down, right? That's what I call conversation — when everyone shuts up and lets me give them what they'd say they want if only they weren't so silent.

Obama predictably insists that we do something now:
In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain. But for all the scare tactics out there, what’s truly scary — truly risky — is the prospect of doing nothing....
Why isn't doing the wrong thing a lot scarier than doing nothing? Don't we need to be careful and get it right? If I say that, am I a "cynic" or a "naysayer"? And don't cynics and naysayers belong in the conversation too? Obama's answer is, apparently, no, they are not the real Americans. The real Americans are silent, and I represent what they think.

Obama's final fillip:
In the end, this isn’t about politics.
Oh, come on! But this post is already too long, and it's about the rhetorical use of "conversation." "This isn’t about politics" is at least as common and at least as disingenuous, but we'll have to have our conversation about this isn’t about politics some other day.


And yet, I must keep this postscript, while we're talking about "conversation":

Remember Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign announcement?
I'm not just starting a campaign, though, I'm beginning a conversation -- with you, with America. Because we all need to be part of the discussion... And let's definitely talk about how every American can have quality affordable health care.... So let's talk. Let's chat. Let's start a dialogue about your ideas and mine.... So let the conversation begin. I have a feeling it's going to be very interesting....
Ha ha. Yeah, it was interesting. We sure enjoyed chatting with you. Now, what does your husband think? Oh, yes, he was all about conversation too:
Over the coming year I want to lead the American people in a great and unprecedented conversation about race... We have talked at each other and about each other for a long time. It's high time we all began talking with each other....
I'm sure you enjoyed that chat... which is still going on....

The ecstasy of housework.

Joy... fabulous... at your finger-tip's command... perfect, generous-sized... dishwasher fashion... absolutely different... toast'n jam... touch no dirt!... why wait for someday?... the famed Flexicorner... Dad's tickled pink... 4 heat settings... someday you'll be a star... Twindow!

Vintage ads... from back when "some day" was one word and every appliance was - apparently — a sex toy.

(Via Instapundit.)

What would be different about the health care debate today if Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, had become President?

Kevin Drum says:
Yesterday Paul Krugman reminded us that preferring Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton because you wanted to avoid the Clinton psychodrama of the 90s was always a vain hope. Back in early 2008 he wrote, "Any Democrat who makes it to the White House can expect the same treatment: an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false." Ezra Klein, chatting online about town hall hysteria, added, "This is how the conservative movement organizes against major pieces of liberal legislation. It's not about a particular moment or leader."

This is unquestionably true, but I'd just like to add one thing. If Hillary Clinton had won last year's Democratic primary and gone on to become president, and then this year's town hall meeting had turned into insane gatherings of lunatics yelling about death panels, every single pundit in Washington — Every. Single. One. — would be blaming it on her. Their unanimous take would be: Democrats knew that she was a divisive figure and chose to put her in the White House anyway. It's hardly any wonder that conservatives have gone nuts, is it?

That narrative, as we now know, would have been 100% wrong. But that would have been the narrative anyway. Caveat lector.
This is all very interesting, but I'd just like to add one thing. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama presented himself as someone who could bring us into a new era of transcendence over partisan differences. There would be Hope and Change. Obama believed — and a lot of us believed — that he was a calm, reassuring figure whom we could all love and trust.

Hillary would have known better. She'd been through it all before. She wouldn't have thought she could could ease you and cool you and cease the pain*. She wouldn't have blithely assumed Americans would quietly accept the vast, complex restructuring of health care that the congressional Democrats dumped on us. Obama naively thought that he was enough, and the more-liberal-than-America Democrats imagined they could get by on the magic of our admiration for the charming new President, who would look even lovelier as he amassed glittering accomplishments. Wouldn't he be wonderful? Wouldn't America be wonderful to have elected such a fine man President?

He and they got all puffed up. I don't think Hillary would have let that happen. He was Hope. She was Experience. Experience would have been different.

Have you ever laughed so hard at a joke that the person who told it got mad at you for laughing too much?

I have!

Not recently. Long ago. Something just reminded me of it. The something was the observation that I'm especially amused by jokes that have to do with the size of things. Oh, I'll be completely specific. We were talking about the expression "postage stamp lawn," that is, a very small lawn, perhaps the size of an area rug. But what if there really were a postage stamp the size of an area rug? That would be a huge postage stamp. Ha ha. Imagine the size of the envelope you'd put it on. Okay. That to me is hilarious, and it reminded me of the joke I found so funny — decades ago — that I laughed so hard the teller of the joke got mad at me for laughing so much. I was cutting the joker's hair — I used to think I could do haircuts and acted upon that belief — and I noticed a bright red dot on the top of his head — the size of a pimple, but not a pimple — and not something he'd ever have noticed. I said, "What's this red dot on top of your head?" He said, "That's my Santa Claus hat!"

Now, maybe the joker will read this post and get mad all over again. Or, that is, get mad for a new reason, that I've blogged about a time he got mad at me. To him, I'd say, I have remembered "That's my Santa Claus hat!" for more than 30 years, and — in my little sense of humor — I still think it's the funniest thing I've ever heard anyone say. It may not be the funniest joke I've ever heard, but I'm sure it's the funniest completely spontaneous remark I've ever been present to hear on the spot. On the dot.

"Would you look at him? Sittin' there with his hooter scrapin' away at that book!"

Schoolboy Paul, with his head in a book... a comic book.

Closeup of a school photograph, from 1952, to be auctioned, along with other Beatles memorabilia.

Would you look at him? Sittin' there with his hooter scrapin' away at that book!

Well, what's the matter with that?

Have you no natural resources of your own? Have they even robbed you of that?

You can learn from books!

You can, can you? Pahh! Sheeps' heads! You could learn more by gettin' out there and living!

Out where?

Any old where! But not our little Richard. Oh, no. When you're not thumpin' them pagan skins you're tormenting your eyes with that rubbish.

Books are good.

*Parading's* better.


Parading the streets! Trailing your coat! Bowling along! LIVING!

Well, I am living.

You? Living? When was the last time you gave a girl a pink-edged daisy? When did you last embarrass a sheila with your cool, appraising stare?

You're a bit old for that sort of chat, aren't you?

Well at least I've got a backlog of memories! All you've got is - THAT BOOK!

Big houses, small houses.

A comparison of average new house sizes:

In square meters — or "metres" — sorry. Here's a conversion engine. The average American new home is 2303 square feet, as compared to the smallest, belonging to our former rulers, the British, 818. Ouch.

But let me say that I love small houses, when they are laid out well. Still, that average British house is really small.