August 29, 2009

Everyone's talking about this normal-size woman.

Lizzie Miller is a size 12.

At the Another Uneaten Thing Café...


... you can remember everything you previously forgot.

"Oh, we gotta keep grandma alive so she can tell us more about Woodstock."

What are the chances the younger generations are going to want to keep us Baby Boomers alive? I say we'd better be careful not to be so annoying!

Meade shoots a bunny.


Things we ate and didn't eat.

There were these:


And these:


And these:


None of which we ate. But what have you got there?




All the blackberries we could eat. Doesn't anybody else walk around here?

Satiated and leaving a ton back there for you, we drove home, making one stop:




"Now, I would assume that Dylan was *joking.*"

I said.


At the Orange Mushroom Café...


... you may find the other side of what.

WaPo vindicates Cheney.

Per Politico, WaPo describes "the transformation of [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] from an avowed and truculent enemy of the United States into what the CIA called its 'preeminent source' on al-Qaeda":
This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques.
Critics of "harsh interrogation techniques" — they, of course, call it torture — bolster their moral arguments with the pragmatic argument that it doesn't even work. How unusual it is for the media to disillusion us about that and force the moralists to get by on moral ideals alone!

ADDED: Obsidian Wings quotes me and comes up with 4 questions, but the 4 questions have absolutely nothing to do with the point I made. Here are the questions:
(1) Is beating a detainee to death with a metal flashlight torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (2) Is beating detainees with butts of rifles torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (3) Is choking a detainee with your bare hands until he almost passes out torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (4) Is threatening to rape wives and murder children torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"?
These questions are about the definition of "torture," but my point is that the Washington Post has said that the techniques — whatever you want to call them — were effective, and, if this is true, it means that people who oppose their use are deprived of a pragmatic argument they normally make. I'm not saying anything about the choice of which term ought to be used, but I do observe that it is the usual practice for people try to make arguments by labeling. Saying "torture" to argue against the techniques is like saying "death panels" to alarm people about the experts who, under ObamaCare, will (it seems) decide who will get which medical treatments. I don't approach these issues by asking what does the word "torture" mean, with the assumption that if it is within that definition, then we should never do it. I would look directly at the question what should we do and not do. I'm not going to weight the issue one way or the other by deciding first whether to say "torture." Let's look straight at the issue and not get abstract and linguistic.

The New Republic redesigned its webpage to make things look nicer...

... and wrecked all the old links to it!

"He liked actors. I didn't know then, of course, that he was a celibate homosexual."

"If he cast you as the lead in a movie, it's probably because he fell in love with you. I didn't understand any of this. I just thought he liked me because I was very talented. It was that too, but it was much more complex. He fell in love with people who were unavailable."

So says Malcolm McDowell about Lindsay Anderson, whom he contrasts to Stanley Kubrick: "Stanley was sort of anti-actor and anti-drama. He didn't know what the hell you were talking about if you wanted to actually analyze the scene... Then I realized that it was an enormous gift because he was saying to me, 'You can do it. Create it. Find it.' That was really fabulous, and I really went for it."

Everyone remembers Kubrick. Do you still think about Lindsay Anderson? I remember when everyone was talking about "O Lucky Man." Here's the scene — with McDowell — that freaked us out something awful:

Today, Google redoes its logo to celebrate...

... no, not Teddy Kennedy — how would you do that? — Michael Jackson!

It's his birthday, you know.

He was murdered.

Teddy wasn't murdered. Teddy Kennedy died of cancer at the age of 77.

August 28, 2009

At the Country Road Café...


... you can go on and on and on...

No! Don't do that to your poodle!

That's just wrong! (And hilarious.)

It's absurd to use Teddy Kennedy's death to push the health care bill.

First, a collection of clips:
Speaking of naming the bill under Ted Kennedy, we have a State-Run Media montage here, day two: pushing health care for Kennedy. Here we have John King of CNN, Jessica Yellin of CNN, Roger Simon of Politico, David Gregory at NBC, David "Rodham" Gergen at CNN, Brian Williams of NBC, Kelly O'Donnell at NBC, and Kiran Chetry at CNN all talking about the passing of Senator Kennedy and health care reform.

KING: There was a change in the political dynamic after President Kennedy's assassination. Will there be a change in the health care dynamic after his passing?

YELLIN: Senator Kennedy's death will inspire his colleagues in Congress to find a way to pass health care reform.

SIMON: If President Obama wants to carry the torch that the Kennedys had passed to him, President Obama's going to have to pass health care.

GREGORY: the result of the Senator's death, because he was such a champion for health care.

GERGEN: This may open a new window for Barack Obama to bring Democrats and Republicans back to the table in Teddy Kennedy's memory.

O'DONNELL: Democrats are saying respect for Kennedy could change minds now. National sorrow has created political momentum before.

WILLIAMS: I received an e-mail today that said, "In lieu of flowers, let's pass health care reform."

CHETRY: To honor his memory, could lawmakers find the inspiration to reach across the aisle and get health care reform passed?
It's absurd to expect the death of a 77-year-old political figure, who was known to suffer from a fatal cancer, to be anything like the response to the sudden, violent death of a 46-year-old President. Even assuming both men were equally beloved and even if the older man had also been President, the emotion cannot be anywhere near the same.

The murder of John Kennedy was a profound shock that had the power to reconfigure our minds. It made us want to find something positive to do in response. The death of a sick old man, who had had more than the usual allotment of years, is sad for those close to him, but otherwise is an utterly normal event, sad only in the way that it is sad that we are all mortal.

There is nothing to be done about it. It is absurd to use that phenomenally mundane event to push and prod us to take political action.

"I don’t know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself."

"And he would ask people, 'have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?' That is just the most amazing thing. It’s not that he didn’t feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things, too."

That is a quote, not from one of Teddy Kennedy's enemies, but from Ed Klein, who was a close friend.

Listen to the audio:

It's apparent that Klein imagines that joking about Chappaquiddick was an endearing trait.

(Thanks to Fred4Pres for the tip.)

ADDED: All the funniest comedians wear a neck brace.

AND: If Teddy always "saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things," then that's an open invitation. Despite his death, we can make all the Teddy Kennedy jokes we want. If anyone should see fit to criticize us, they need to know: Teddy wouldn't have wanted it that way. Don't defile the memory of the man by drawing the line on humor.

"I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill, with..."

I'm listening to the old Dion song this morning:

No, it's not because I'm trying to come up with a verse about Teddy Kennedy... or that I picture him — accompanied by angel-harp music — walking into Heaven with various beloved dead political heroes. (Get a grip, people, Teddy lived to a ripe old age and died in the normal course of things, which is the best any of us can hope for. He was not cut down in his prime like Abraham, Martin, John, and Bobby.) It's because I need to pull this comment just buried under the "Third Man" post and elevate it to the heaven of today's front page. It's a comment about lost commenters — a song parody. And please, write new verses for that song. The collection of beloved old commenters who have wandered off is longer than Trooper, Titus, and Palladian. And they haven't died. I'm picturing them not in Heaven, but drinking and talking late into the night in some bar over on Atlantic Avenue.

Should I go see the new Ang Lee movie... something "Woodstock"?

Now, that seems to answer the question. I was just reading about it, talking about it, and when I stop to write about it, I realize I don't know the title anymore. It slipped right out of my head.

I look back to that LA Times review that got me started writing this post and sent me over to YouTube to find "Jokes With Guitar":
The soft center of the film and its unlikely protagonist is Elliot, a 34-year-old New York City interior designer still wearing polyester and polos played by Demetri Martin, probably best known for his very funny observational stand-up (check out "Jokes With Guitar" on YouTube.
So, come on, walk beside me, down to YouTube — set your soul free, life is for learning, etc. etc.:

To put a fine point on it, Elliot's a classic '60s head case and theoretically a perfect prism through which to view the Woodstock phenomenon. That the character is based on Elliot Tiber and his book, "Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life," who more by chance than initiative snagged the festival at the last minute after nearby Wallkill, N.Y., turned the concert promoters down, gives the film an organic feel.
Oh, it's "Taking Woodstock." "Taking"? Why "taking"? Is that "taking" in the sense of military or sexual conquest or is this "taking," meaning ingestion, like taking LSD, and Elliot takes the drug we call "Woodstock" and gets we-are-stardust-we-are-golden high. Well, Ang Lee carried over the title Tiber put on his book.

I'm not going to reject the movie because I don't like the title. My point is simply that I couldn't remember the title, and if I can't remember the title, then I think my soul — which, I'll have you know, is already set free — resists seeing this recreation of Woodstock.

Since I could watch the great documentary "Woodstock" and see film of the actual people and bands of Woodstock, do I really want to endure the spectacle of young actors of today pretending to be those people? Possible answers to that question:

1. Yes, it would be interesting if only to look for the slippage between the actual event and how it is now imagined, by people who always knew Woodstock as a myth from the past.

2. Yes, because most of the story is Elliot's personal adventure, and it merges with the big historical event in ways that are specific to his story and, of course, not depicted in the documentary footage.

3. No, because I cringe even at the thought of today's actor kids pretending to be enthralled by what it was annoying enough to see the kids tormented by the awful things that happened in 1969 going all mushy about.

4. No, because the movie isn't getting that good of reviews, I've been avoiding Ang Lee movies since "The Ice Storm" in 1997 (which was also about a young man trying to find himself), and I still haven't seen "Inglourious Basterds."

Should I see "Taking Woodstock"?
Yes, for reason #1.
Yes, for reason #2.
No, for reason #3.
No, for reason #4. free polls

Quentin Tarantino says something that reminds me of Ayn Rand.

Tarantino (in a 41 second clip):

Rand (in a long clip that will start in the right place, and you needn't watch all the way to the end, just until you see my point):

August 27, 2009

"I feel much better now. This is a process that needed to take place."

Says the monster from his jail cell.
"You're going to find the most powerful story coming from the witness, from the victim," [Phillip Garrido] said. "If you take this a step at a time, you're going to fall over backward and in the end you're going to find the most powerful, heartwarming story."

He added, "Wait 'til you hear the story of what took place at this house. You're going to be absolutely impressed. It's a disgusting thing that took place with me in the beginning, but I turned my life completely around."

At the Natural Bridge.

I went up to Natural Bridge State Park 4 years ago.

Today, I went back... armed with my fisheye lens:



Back in 1950, Sammy Petrillo got a haircut, and then everyone started laughing at him and telling him he looked like Jerry Lewis.

From his obituary:
[A]fter several appearances on television variety shows, Mr. Petrillo moved to Los Angeles, where he teamed up with Duke Mitchell, a singer who sang in the smooth-baritone style of Frankie Laine, Vaughn Monroe — and Dean Martin. They put together a nightclub act based primarily on their impersonations of the comedy team Martin and Lewis.

Based on that, the movie producer Jack Broder cast them in a low-budget comedy, “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla,” opposite Mr. Lugosi. In the movie they played nightclub performers, stranded on a tropical island, who act very much like Martin and Lewis....

... Mr. Lewis’s eldest son, Gary, said: "When Sammy and the other guy played in that gorilla movie, I remember my dad and Dean saying, 'We got to sue these guys — this is no good.'"

See for yourself:

Bonus: Gary Lewis plays drums and sings.

"I thought it was the most exhaustingly didactic bodice-ripper I had ever read."

It's Aunt Feminina Boots, talking about the Ayn Rand book club.

And here she is on the feminist book club. ("I want to read about hermaphrodites and Lizzy Borden. Every other woman in the group wants to read Barbara Kingsolver, Barbara Kingsolver, Barbara Kingsolver.")

(Via Metafilter.)

"It was almost written in stone that you’ll end up in a law firm, almost like a birthright."

"It" — law school — "was thought to be this green pasture of stability, a more comfortable life."

Thanks, New York Times. Thanks for depressing every law student in America. Fall semester is about to begin, and I wasn't going to talk about this major drag of an article, but it's charting as #1 on the NYT's most-emailed list.

Now, the sheer depressingness of the thing isn't what's annoying me most. It's that it relies absurdly heavily on quotes from one Derek Fanciullo, who "lost his job as a television reporter two years ago" and borrowed $210,000 to go to NYU School of Law. Why Fanciullo is the big source, you tell me. He was a reporter, and the article was — duh — written by a reporter. Maybe reporters believe reporters, but it looks kind of lazy to me. What is life like for a law student looking for work? Let's report the quotes of a reporter who went to law school.

Getting a job in a law firm was a sure thing? A birthright? Law was a green pasture of stability, a comfortable life? Of course, things have changed:
This fall, law students are competing for half as many openings at big firms as they were last year in what is shaping up to be the most wrenching job search season in over 50 years.
That's harsh. Terrible. It needs to be said. But let's not pretend that it was ever right to waltz into law school thinking if I pay up what they're asking, I get a lock on a great-paying job. Fanciullo is building his complaint on a shaky foundation.
With the cost of law school skyrocketing over the years, the implicit arrangement between students and the most expensive and prestigious schools has only strengthened: the student takes on hefty debt to pay tuition, and the school issues the golden ticket to a job at a high-paying firm — if that’s what the student wants.
See? The reporter is endorsing Fanciullo's fantasy that the student, by paying big tuition, got a deal, an "implicit arrangement." You mean a contract? This notion seems to implicitly cite this recently reported case, where a graduate sues her school because she didn't get a job.

The NYT article also quotes a Penn law student, Julia Figurelli saying: "Had I seen where the market was going, I would’ve gone to a lower-ranked but less expensive public school." Well, there's a ray of light for students at some schools, including mine (the University of Wisconsin). Here's a ranking of law schools according to value. Wisconsin with a #20 value ranking and a #35 U.S. News ranking is apparently one of the best choices. Georgia, Alabama, George Mason, and Iowa also look very good, along with plenty of others. State schools are especially good choices if you want to remain in that state — where, if it's Wisconsin, you will not have to take the bar exam...

... unless...

"Tap-tap-tapping at your chamber door (only this and nothing more)."

Just one of 60 literary expressions signifying masturbation.

(Via Metafilter, where the list is immensely extended.)

"In the six weeks since my baby was born, I seem to have lost all worldly ambition."

"I can think about September, when I am supposed to go back to work, only with dread. I have a class to teach. I have to start writing again. But the idea of talking about ideas in front of students or typing a coherent sentence (i.e., my normal life) seems totally implausible. Even now, the prospect of writing a few paragraphs about this problem seems almost out of reach. Taking care of the baby—physical, draining, exhilarating—is more like farming: following the rhythms of the earth, getting up at dawn, watching the corn flush in the sunrise. It is not at all like writing."

And yet, you are writing this article, Katie Roiphe. And yet you are writing this article.

The sense that there is a "third man" — a ghostly companion giving support in difficult times.

"The theories for explaining the third-man experience vary widely. Ron DiFrancesco, the 9/11 survivor who walked out of the South Tower, is convinced that a divine being was by his side, and indeed a spiritual interpretation is common. Scientists, by contrast, have discovered how to evoke the sensation of a shared presence by stimulating the brain with electricity. [One mountaineer who had the experience] leans toward the idea that the third-man phenomenon is a survival strategy hard-wired into the brain. 'The body is inventing ways to provide company,' he says."

Think of why this sense that someone is with you would have had survival value in human evolution. Think too of how the someone who seems to accompany survivors of extreme ordeals might also accompany those who die and never tell their stories. Don't assume the "third man," if you ever see him, will save you. He may comfort you as you give up the fight to stay alive. On the up side, you will probably feel quite wonderful.
"Imagine the impact on our lives if we could learn to access this feeling at will," [says John Geiger, author of "The Third Man Factor."] "There could be no loneliness with so constant a companion. There could be no stress in life that we would ever again have to confront alone."
Response #1: Religious people have learned to access that feeling at will. Response #2: It's not a "learned" "feeling," it really is God/Jesus/your guardian angel. Response #3: We need the feeling of loneliness to get us out of the house and connecting with other people, without which there will be no survival of the species, so therefore — if the scientific evolutionary theory is the true one — then the "third man" phenomenon must remain a sometime thing. Response #4: If #3 is correct, then how can religion have survived? Response #5: Therefore, there is a God. Response #6: No, therefore religions require rules that ban or limit masturbation and push believers into marriage and procreation.

"Be My Baby," "Leader of the Pack," "Then He Kissed Me," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Chapel of Love," "Doo Wah Diddy"...

Songwriter Ellie Greenwich has died.

Here's the whole musicography. There are so many great songs here, but.... let's listen to "Hanky Panky":

The lyrics are minimal yet incoherent — I saw her... I saw her... I never saw her, never, ever saw her — yet fabulous.

And here's "River Deep, Mountain High":

I'll love you just the way I loved that rag doll....

"Michael Jackson::Ted Kennedy = Farrah Fawcett::Dominick Dunne."

Analogy offered up for those of you who choose to laugh at death.

Orin Kerr thinks the 9th Circuit has made "every computer search warrant that has ever been obtained — and every offsite search" unconstitutional.

"Am I right that the Ninth Circuit's Fourth Amendment decision in United States v. Comprehensive Drug Testing has rendered every computer search warrant that has ever been obtained — and every offsite search — unconstitutional? I've been working in this area for over a decade, and I have never heard of a case that satisfies the Ninth Circuit's new procedural standards."

Let's discuss this album title and cover art from 1968.

Quick. Before I freak out.

Here's the Amazon link for the album, which I encountered after random breakfast-table conversation led inexorably to the singing of "Indian Lake."

NOTE: 1968 was the pre-mime-hating time. AND: Damn! The clip from the end of Michelangelo Antonioni's highly respected film "Blow-Up" no longer works. Take my word for it. It's full of mimes, and mimes are deep:
[A]ttention to the visual dimensions of perception underscores the subtext represented by the mime troupe. If words are indeed superficial to the photographer, they are totally superfluous to (and consequently discarded by) the mimes. The mimes are presented to us as a framing device—they open and close the film. At the beginning, they are seen gadding about the bustling streets panhandling; at the end, the same troupe engages in a mock tennis match. At the beginning, the photographer simply finds them a momentary amusement; by the ending, however, he actually shares their experience. It is, in fact, the mime troupe that serves as the spiritual barometer by which we measure the photographer's transformation. The act of miming is crucial for Antonioni and Blow-Up because it is the mime who brings our attention to objects by their absence. For the mime, the imaginary tennis ball is every bit as "real" as the evidential photograph is "illusory."

It is of course, significant that the tennis match takes place at the end. It is less a conclusion than a speculation. The photographer, an outer-directed man in the beginning, would never have retrieved the tennis ball and thrown it back at the outset of the film. He is only able to perform this act of assistance to the players because of what has happened to him in the interim. However, Antonioni does not have him abandon his camera as he fetches the ball; rather, he carries it with him. What the photographer has learned is that the camera and the tennis ball can (and do) exist in the same plane of perception—reality, illusion and appearance do not fall into neat and convenient categories.
Nothing is taken that seriously anymore!

"Towards the end I realized: it would be one thing to have a career that I could be great at..."

"... but it was another thing to have a career that I could be passionate about."

That's what Ra'Mon said about leaving medical school and the study of neurosurgery to become a fashion designer.
Forgive me, but did brother just say he left med school towards the END? To make clothes? If he wins this thing, I guess he'll be using the money to pay off the loans he took out to learn how to save people's lives from debilitating brain disorders.
Yeah, what's the whole story on why Ra'Mon walked away from a career in neurosurgery at the last minute? I'm thinking he must have screwed up somehow, or do you think he's a brilliant artist who simply must follow his passion? And by the way, if you needed brain surgery, would you trust a doctor who said he was passionate about neurosurgery?

So, to review. The questions are:

1. Did Ram'on really leave medical school at the end of the study of neurosurgery?

2. Do you think a background in neurosurgery would help in the design and construction of clothing? Be specific.

3. Should we abandon careers into which we have poured our time, effort, and money when we detect that we lack passion, assuming there is something else about which we do feel passion?

4. When do you want the provider of goods or services to be passionate about what he or she is doing and when do you see passion as a warning sign?

Bonus topic: Is leaving neurosurgery for fashion analogous to being married and having an affair, and does that suggest that Ra'Mon has made a mistake?

August 26, 2009

"The owner of a dog is being sent to jail for 90 days based on his failure to do something he could not know he was supposed to do."

"'Vicious' dogs must be restrained. ... But Traylor's dog was not 'vicious' until the moment it bit a human, at which point it was too late for Traylor to restrain his dog."

From the dissenting opinion by Justice Paul Pfeifer in the Ohio Supreme Court.

"Rightbloggers Observe Kennedy's Passing Pretty Much the Way You Would Expect."

Roy Edroso exposes those awful right bloggers — including me — for the edification of Village Voice readers.

Justice Souter has kept a lifelong diary, and he's donated it to the New Hampshire Historical Society.

We'll be able to read it... in 50 years.

I don't know if I can live that long. I'm going to try. In the meantime, please imagine some Souter diary items.

"Boffin on quest to make 'chickenosaurus."

Yes. It's true. "Boffin on quest to make 'chickenosaurus."

"'Christmas In The Heart' will be the 47th album from Bob Dylan."

"Songs performed by Dylan on this new album include, 'Here Comes Santa Claus,' 'Winter Wonderland,' 'Little Drummer Boy' and 'Must Be Santa.'"

"If you really want a man to be nice to you, never give him a hard time, never talk about emotions and never ask him how he is feeling."

Says the famously feminist Fay Weldon — author of "The Lives and Loves of a She Devil." She also thinks women should just do the housework already and give up on trying to get men to do their share. Also:
"I think we should have more teenage pregnancies, and work afterwards.

"If you have children late you have no energy left for sex, and then men wander off to find someone else.

"The definition of a good man has become ridiculous. I just think that as long as you have a sort of semi-good looking, able-bodied, intelligent man, you should have his baby."
Okay, now we're talking about Fay Weldon again after all these years? Like we were in 1989...

That time Teddy Kennedy called Obama "Osama bin Laden."

What Ted Kennedy said about Robert Bork.

"The up side of blogging: you can be reasonably confident people aren’t reading you on the john."

A seriously deluded comment on a post about the difference between what bloggers know about their readers' habits and what magazine writers know.

The post, by Matthew Ygesias, is mainly about how bloggers know they've got to write short items. Ironically, the post is way too long.

Faking the hate.

Meet Maurice Schwenkler, the new Ashley Todd.

Our young Mr. Schwenkler, a/k/a the Gangster of Love, would have done better to have spent his spare time watching reruns of "thirtysomething," learning how to be an adult.

Let's speak of the pompatous of politics.

"If I read all the vile stuff about me on the Internet, I’d never come to work."

"I’d scamper off and live my dream of being a cocktail waitress in a militia bar in Wyoming."

... a cocktail waitress in a militia bar in Wyoming... a cocktail waitress in a militia bar in Wyoming... a cocktail waitress in a militia bar in Wyoming....

Why a cocktail waitress in a militia bar in Wyoming....?

Of all the images Maureen Dowd could conjure up for her alternate self — the self who cares what nasty strangers say — why a cocktail waitress in a militia bar in Wyoming? It's got something to do with right-wing extremists, but I can't put my finger on what.

(I've quoted the first 2 sentences of what is a column about that model who sued the blogger who called her a skank. Dowd has nothing interesting to say on the subject of pseudonymity on the internet.)

Teddy Kennedy's death will be used to rekindle the old argument that we need to shut up and hurry up about health care reform.

So I assume.

But now the Democrats are short a vote in the Senate, and Democratic Governor Deval Patrick can't just appoint a new Democratic Senator for Massachusetts, despite the fact that Kennedy himself, less than a month ago, urged state legislators to change the law of successsion and give Patrick the power to appoint a Senator, because back in 2004, anticipating that John Kerry would win the presidency, Kennedy was instrumental in getting state legislative change designed to wrest the power from the Massachusetts governor, when the governor was the Republican Mitt Romney.

So there are 2 questions: 1. Is the death of Teddy Kennedy a sufficiently powerful event to counter the opposition to the health care bill? and 2. Is the death of Teddy Kennedy a sufficiently powerful event to overcome the embarrassment of changing the Massachusetts law back to what it was before it was changed to thwart a Republican?

"Brought to the 'black site' in diapers... the prisoner’s head and face were shaved..."

"... he was stripped and photographed and sleep deprivation and a diet limited to Ensure Plus, a dietary drink, began. 'The interrogators’ objective... is to transition the HVD to a point where he is participating in a predictable, reliable and sustainable manner.' The policy was to use the 'least coercive measure' to achieve the goal. The harsh treatment began with the 'attention slap,' and for 3 prisoners of the nearly 100 who passed through the program, the endpoint was waterboarding."

Teaching self-esteem and diversity.

From a review of "NurtureShock," by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman:
[H]igh self-esteem doesn't improve grades, reduce anti-social behavior, deter alcohol drinking or do much of anything good for kids. In fact, telling kids how smart they are can be counterproductive. Many children who are convinced that they are little geniuses tend not to put much effort into their work. Others are troubled by the latent anxiety of adults who feel it necessary to praise them constantly.

... [A] lot of well-meaning adult nostrums—"we're all friends," "we're all equal"—pass right over the heads of young children. Attempts to increase racial sensitivity in older students can even lead to unintended consequences. One ­researcher found that "more diversity translates into more divisions between students." Another warns that too much discussion of past discrimination can make minority children over-reactive to perceived future slights. As for trying to increase emotional intelligence, the education fad of the 1990s, it doesn't seem to promote "pro-social values" either. It turns out that bullies use their considerable EQ, as it is called, to ­control their peers.

"My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man..."

"... who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: 'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'"

Edward M. Kennedy, Address at the Public Memorial Service for Robert F. Kennedy, June 8, 1968.

Teddy Kennedy is gone.

"He was a Rabelaisian figure in the Senate and in life, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair, his florid, oversize face, his booming Boston brogue, his powerful but pained stride. He was a celebrity, sometimes a self-parody, a hearty friend, an implacable foe, a man of large faith and large flaws, a melancholy character who persevered, drank deeply and sang loudly. He was a Kennedy.... Born to one of the wealthiest American families, Mr. Kennedy spoke for the downtrodden in his public life while living the heedless private life of a playboy and a rake for many of his years. Dismissed early in his career as a lightweight and an unworthy successor to his revered brothers, he grew in stature over time by sheer longevity and by hewing to liberal principles while often crossing the partisan aisle to enact legislation. A man of unbridled appetites at times, he nevertheless brought a discipline to his public work that resulted in an impressive catalog of legislative achievement across a broad landscape of social policy."

August 25, 2009

"As the writer Katha Pollitt (who is also my ex-wife) puts it: 'I get a ton of hostile, misogynous, idiotic comments from anonymous trolls...'"

"'...when I blog at The Nation. Sometimes I feel like I am dancing on the table for an audience of drunks. Not only is it dispiriting — and let’s not forget that women writers on the Internet receive vastly more hateful comments than male writers — it has nothing to do with the brisk and vigorous exchange of ideas often said to be the reason for anonymity. Because there are no ideas and no exchange.'"

Oh, no?

"John Schnatter sold the gold-and-black 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 for $2,800 in 1983."

"The money helped save his father's tavern in Jeffersonville, Ind., and he used the rest to start what would become a worldwide pizza business. But he still missed his beloved Camaro and spent years searching for it. He created a Web site on the search, held promotional appearances and eventually offered $250,000 to whoever found it. t turns out he didn't have to leave Kentucky, where the pizza chain is based in Louisville. The car only changed hands twice from the original buyers, ending up with Jeffery Robinson in Flatwoods, about 165 miles to the east."

The pizza business is Papa John's, and the story is delightful.

"WOW!! Althouse, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard."

"At no point in your rambling, incoherent writing were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone who read this is now dumber for having read it. May God have mercy on your soul."

A comment that someone made and then — for some reason — deleted, on this old post.

ADDED: Oh! I thought it was a little too well-written:

(Thanks, Awesome.)

What famous voice would you like as the voice of your GPS? Bob Dylan?

The Guardian says that 2 car makers are talking to Bob Dylan about making him their GPS voice:
"I think it would be good," Dylan said, "if you are looking for directions and hear my voice saying something like 'left at the next street, no a right – y'know what? Just go straight.'"...

"I probably shouldn't do it... because whichever way I go I always end up at one place, Lonely Avenue."
Now, I would assume that Dylan was joking. It was on his radio show, where he's always floating from fact to fiction. But the truth is, I'd love to have Bob Dylan telling me where to go.

"By the way, leave our penises alone, too... Leave our penises alone, too, Obama!"

Rush Limbaugh cries out.

"Doesn't the perception of Hitler as an artist make him seem less evil?"

"No. In fact, his love of art led directly into the heart of evil. But neither is it the root of everything else."

Dressing for golf — as President/with the President.

Here's the picture:

I like that Obama is dressing on the level that is required for players on the PGA Tour. ("Male participants must wear slacks and participants shall not wear shorts anywhere on club property. Jeans are not to be considered slacks.") I'd recommend a less blouse-y shirt, but, basically, fine.

Now, check out his friend, Eric Whitaker . He's in shorts — the kind of baggy, old-man shorts that look like a skirt. Aside from the usual problems of a man in shorts, he's dressed more casually than the President. When you're with the President, you don't dress more casually than he does. Remember?

Another article about the DVD of "thirtysomething" by someone who loved the show as a teenager and is now in her/his 30s.

There was this one in the NYT, by Porochista Khakpour, which we talked about here. And now Slate's got virtually the same thing, by Seth Stevenson.

As I said in the earlier post, I had no interest in watching the show when it originally aired, though I was myself in my 30s (and dealing with the problems of marriage, career, and raising young children that the show explored). I'm wondering if the show really was aimed at the younger generation, the kids who wanted to learn what adulthood was really like.

I suppose I could watch the show now — now that it wouldn't be a boring depiction of the ordinary — and see how I'd react to it. Would it feel like looking back on my own past? At the time, I thought that I and my family were very individualistic and not representative of my generation, but I've often thought, looking back, that for all of the individuality I thought I (and we) had, that I really did ride the curve of times quite closely — and that even that illusion of individuality was a conceit typical of Baby Boomers.

The radical notion that "all courses listed as courses in composition teach grammar and rhetoric and nothing else."

"This advice was contemptuously dismissed by the composition establishment, and I was accused of being a reactionary who knew nothing about current trends in research."

The last Flamingo dies.

John E. Carter was 75.
"We rehearsed a long time on that song... In fact we were almost ready to give it up. We couldn’t get it like we wanted to. And Johnny started bringing in that tenor and it started fitting in."

"To say you can’t improve scores is to say you can’t improve students, and I disagree with that."

Said Stanley Kaplan, dead now, at 90.
He began by preparing students for the New York State Regents exams. But when a student showed up in 1946 asking for help on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (as the SAT was then called), he saw an opportunity. And when students later sought his help on medical school exams, he signed them on, too.

For decades his services remained local, marketed to Roman Catholic schools and to yeshivas. Most students arrived by word of mouth. But he gradually began to attract students from around the country....

Despite his growing success, Mr. Kaplan faced resistance from the College Board, which continued to assert that gains from test-preparation courses were minimal. Opposition was so strong, Mr. Kaplan recalled, that some students felt a need to register under false names, like Jane Doe and Albert Einstein.

In Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania student newspaper refused to run his advertisements, and the university denied his requests to hang posters and rent rooms for his courses. He called the opposition “elitist” and distributed T-shirts on campus. Students flocked to his classes.

Michael Jackson's death a "homicide"... you mean, in the sense of assisted suicide?

Smoking Gun:
A search warrant affidavit sworn by a Los Angeles detective provides a detailed account of the police probe into the death of Michael Jackson, whose doctor told cops that he had been treating the pop star's insomnia by intravenously administering the powerful anesthetic propofol in the weeks before Jackson's June 25 death. The affidavit of LAPD Detective Orlando Martinez was included in a search warrant application filed last month in Houston, Texas, where Dr. Conrad Murray maintained an office and a storage unit. A copy of Martinez's affidavit, prepared last month, can be found below. Murray, reportedly the subject of a criminal probe stemming from Jackson's death, told investigators that he "felt that Jackson may have been forming an addiction to" propofol, and tried to "wean Jackson off the drug." The affidavit notes that Jackson "was very familiar with the drug and referred to it as his 'milk.'" The affidavit also quotes an L.A. coroner's official saying that preliminary toxicology results showed that "Jackson's cause of death was due to lethal levels of propofol." The coroner has classified Jackson's death a homicide, according to a law enforcement source cited today by the Associated Press, which reported that the ruling makes it "more likely" that criminal charges will be filed against the 56-year-old Murray.
Not to say Murray doesn't deserve criminal punishment, but wasn't he acceding to Jackson's demands?

"Personally, I preferred huge classes with curved grades."

"My theory was those classes always had a bunch of people who had no real interest in the subject, signed up because it was a core subject, and could be relied upon to slack off and make the curve easier for the rest of us."

From the comments on a post at Volokh Conspiracy that advises law students that "An Easy Way to Improve Law School Grades" is to take at least one course where the grade is based on a paper and to involve the professor in commenting on an early draft — a strategy one commenter mocks thusly:
Professors love it when students ask for advice.

"Tell me what to do, oh wise one."

That's the most effective form of brown-nosing.
Believe it or not, some of us lawprofs hate brown-nosing. But I almost hate to say that because I'm afraid of scaring off students who resist the advice that you should talk to your professors so that they get to know you — which helps when you need recommendation letters — and because you can have some interesting and enlightening conversations outside of class. I don't want them to think oh, she hates brown-nosing and she's going to think I'm a brown-noser.

"We are no longer at the point that it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks."

"There was a time probably when the community was more forgiving of things that were inaccurate or fudged in some fashion — whether simply misunderstood or an author had some ax to grind. There is less tolerance for that sort of problem now."

Wikipedia evolves.

August 24, 2009

The books Obama is supposedly reading on his vacation.

The list:
• The Way Home by George Pelecanos, a crime thriller based in Washington;
• Lush Life by Richard Price, a story of race and class set in New York's Lower East Side;
• Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded, on the benefits to America of an environmental revolution;
• John Adams by David McCullough;
• Plainsong by Kent Haruf, a drama about the life of eight different characters living in a Colorado prairie community.
I never believe Presidents are actually reading the books their people tell us they're reading, so, for me, the only question is what they thought they were saying with these titles and why they thought it was a good idea to say that.

If you could pick a book for Obama to read — actually read — what book would you pick? If he could make you read a book of his choice, what do you think it would be? If you picked political books or history books or economics books, please pick again and be more out there so this late night discussion isn't too boring.


I'm just noticing that all Obama's books are written by men. Maybe these really are the books he's reading. If it's PR, his PR people have a big blind spot.

ADDED: Didn't everyone who wanted to read that bloated John Adams book already read it? And wasn't Obama supposed to be reading that Tom Friedman book last year?
Friedman’s dumb books full of “I went golfing somewhere in India, reminding me of the Asian pizza I ate at the airport in Dubai” globalization-fellating idiocy are Required Reading in certain middlebrow circles....

[O]nce “going green” became so safely uncontroversial that motherfucking Garfield was eating solar-powered lasagna, it was time for Tom Friedman to incoherently rebuke everything he ever wrote before — about Earth and how for some insane reason he thinks saying it’s “flat” is some deep enigmatic statement of the times rather than, really, just an idiot trying to make up a catch phrase. So, once the carbon-farting global golfer hitched his tortured prose to the Green bandwagon, everybody in every management situation had to act like they read this awful book.

But they didn’t. Nobody read the whole thing. Of course it’s still on Barack Obama’s fake reading list. And there it will stay, year after year, just like back in the 1990s when Dan Quayle comically claimed that he tried (and failed) to read Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince each summer, because that seemed — to Dan Quayle, anyway — like the kind of thing a politician maybe should’ve know about, 20 years ago.

Is the CIA investigation an attempt to distract us ...

... from the health care mess?

Justice Stevens renews his vows.

"In a stirring display of his commitment to the institution he pledged his life to 34 years ago, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens renewed his vows to the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday. Entering the courtroom in a long flowing robe, Stevens walked down the aisle toward a misty-eyed Chief Justice John Roberts, who stood waiting to re-administer the oath. 'I, John Paul Stevens, do solemnly swear to faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me, till death do I part,' declared a radiant Stevens. 'I only wish [late President] Gerald [Ford] could have been here to give me away again.' The ceremony was followed by a modest but elegant reception at the Kennedy Center, where Roberts and the 89-year-old Stevens shared the honorary first dance."

How's that Whole Foods boycott working out?

The parking lot at Whole Foods was jammed once again today, but a car pulled out and we slipped right into a parking spot next to this car:


I've smudged out part of the license plate for the sake of privacy. You'll have to take my word for it that the missing word after the "no" would strongly reinforce the impression given by the "Free Palestine" bumper sticker and the fact that the car is a hybrid and that the store is in Madison, Wisconsin, which is that someone is shopping at Whole Foods who would be boycotting Whole Foods if the Whole Foods boycott was worth a damn.

"Hedgehogs. Why can't they just share the hedge?"

The funniest joke.

"Some folks weren't grasping how fierce the ocean can be."

Nature is not a theme park.

Relax, now.

(Devil's Lake. Enlarge.)

Take a deep breath.

"$9 trillion... it’s being treated as an inconceivable sum, far beyond anything that could possibly be handled. And it isn’t."

K. Thx.

Have you got a song that you use to eradicate another catchy song from your head?

I do. I've had it for years. It's "5D" by The Byrds. I've used it, effectively for 40 years. (And I'm still wondering how it is that I could come out to here and be still floating and never hit bottom but keep falling through, just relaxed and paying attention?)

And what's the last song you needed to eradicate? (I dislike the term "earworm" for some reason.)

Chez Althouse, the song in need of eradication is something you will hear if you play the clip that follows, which you will do at your own risk.

That's the comedian, JP Inc., who opened for Neil Hamburger, here in Madison last Thursday.

And here are photographs of President Barack Obama wearing what, if you were foolish enough to play that clip, you will now be calling — not "mom jeans" — Randy Normal jeans.

The typewriter is so romantic.

Last night I dreamed that I went to class — as a student — and found that at my place, there was a manual typewriter. What did that mean? Going back to school, to old things... my obsolescence... a desire to get my hands on writing...

Today, I see — via Boing BoingRick Poyner's "In Memoriam" to his manual typewriter:
... I'm struck by how powerfully its form and image embody and express the idea of writing, as does almost any typewriter. Like the telephone at an earlier phase in its development when it still had a distinct earpiece and mouthpiece at either end of a handle, the fully evolved typewriter is a 20th-century industrial archetype. It feels inevitable, almost elemental, like one of those object types, such as a chair or a fork, that simply had to exist in this universe of forms. Even now (but for how much longer?) a typewriter is the icon to show if you want to convey the idea of a dedicated literary life....

The point, of course, is that the computer has never been a dedicated writing tool — writing is the least of it — and everyone uses them....
Actually, I remember, in the early '80s, when secretaries had big computer-looking things on their desks that were called "word processors"... but I know what you mean....
They are somehow both more marvellous and more ordinary. That's why there isn't a shred of romance in the idea of a writer and his or her personal computer.
Not a shred of romance? I've seen an incredibly romantic photograph of a man with a laptop — a laptop called "Cupid’s bow" — under his arm.

So what are your typewriter memories? Romantic stuff, please. Anything equally romantic with computers? Obviously, you can use a computer to get to real, in-the-flesh human beings, and you can do it quickly... like: right now. With the typewriter, it will be you and the inanimate object for a long time, and that, perhaps, is why we see the romance in the thing. The typewriter is as romantic as a lonely room.

"Watch These Terrible People Yapping At Each Other."

A Wonkette headline that I tried to read out loud and said: "Watch These Terrible People Lapping At Each Other." Ah, remember the original Wonkette? Everything was sexy somehow. Now... I don't read it enough to know what the point is, other than to make everything sound funny, though in this case the headline has nothing to do with what is supposed to be so hilarious: Al Sharpton is really skinny now.

Rush Limbaugh is skinny now too.
He looks like this:

Ironically, Al Franken is quite fat.

Isn't it sweet that Rush posed in front of a picture of his kitty cat's bowl? Does Al Franken have a cat? Google image search suggests no:

"The best writer in the world is probably not even published."

Wild assertion made for effect just now (by me). Do you think it's true? If it were true, what would be the circumstances?

"Last winter I began stirring peanut butter into oatmeal; weird, maybe, but good."

"I also put it in stewed lentils and vegetables (dal) with curry powder, which may not be traditional, but it felt as if it could be.... [Other ideas include] smearing peanut butter on a wedge of raw white cabbage or a pork burger, roasting peanut-butter-stuffed jalapeños, and whipping up a simple satay-like sauce of peanut butter, soy sauce, orange marmalade and red pepper flakes."

There don't seem to be enough things to do with peanut butter.

August 23, 2009

Rock faces.



Faces seen in the quartzite today at Devil's Lake, near Madison, Wisconsin.

What we ate.




Not here:


"Amazon, WTF."

"Oh my god there are 1,103 reviews of Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 gallon."

"Don't miss the customer image gallery for Tuscan Milk."

"Zubaz. Fuck yeah. Thank you."

The model insisted on outing the blogger who called her a "skank."

And look, it's a woman — a young woman — a pretty young woman.
Speaking out for the first time since a court order forced Google to reveal her identity, blogger Rosemary Port tells the Daily News that model Liskula Cohen should blame herself for the uproar.

"This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing," said Port, whose "Skanks in NYC" site branded the 37-year-old Cohen an "old hag."

"By going to the press, she defamed herself," Port said.

"Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my Web site: One from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it," Port said. "That was before it became a spectacle. I feel my right to privacy has been violated."
But before you celebrate Port's seemingly wise anti-litigation statement, take note that she's suing Google... for $15 million federal lawsuit against the Web giant.
"When I was being defended by attorneys for Google, I thought my right to privacy was being protected," Port said.

"But that right fell through the cracks. Without any warning, I was put on a silver platter for the press to attack me. I would think that a multi-billion dollar conglomerate would protect the rights of all its users."

In her suit, she'll charge Google "breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity," said her high-powered attorney Salvatore Strazzullo.

"I'm ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court," Strazzullo said. "Our Founding Fathers wrote 'The Federalist Papers' under pseudonyms. Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously. Shouldn't that right extend to the new public square of the Internet?"
How hard did Google fight? Surely, there's no absolute right to hide your identity. Why should someone who commits the tort of defamation escape a lawsuit by hiding behind a pseudonym? It's not fair to the people who have the guts to show their names when they libel people. They get stuck being defendants in defamation suits.

The key is for courts to have a high standard in determining whether there really is defamation before they order that the name be revealed. Otherwise, someone who has not actually suffered a legally remediable injury can use a lawsuit for the wrong purpose: to inflict the injury of making a pseudonymous writer's name public.

Note that Liskula Cohen is now dropping her defamation suit against Port. That's good for Port. It's bad to be sued for $3 million. But it suggests that the disclosure of the name was the point of the lawsuit. Courts should not allow themselves to be used for that purpose. And Google's lawyers should fight hard to make courts see it that way.

Ruth Wedgwood details the evidence, the trial, and the consequences of the supposedly humanitarian release of the Lockerbie bomber.

When the prospect of the release of this convicted murderer became widely known this week, the president of the United States told a radio interviewer he had "objected" to the release. But he did not say how much body English had gone into this objection. President Obama warned that al-Megrahi should not be given a "hero's welcome" by Libya. But this thought too was, as diplomats like to say, "overtaken by events."

Meanwhile, British Foreign Minister David Miliband says it is a "slur" to speculate that the release of a mass murderer was influenced, even at the margin, by the bidding for oil extraction rights in Libya. One of England's princes has been to Libya three times recently to talk about oil.

"It is true, it is real, it is me, it is not me, it is horrible, and I love it."

The DVD set of "thirtysomething" has finally arrived. Do you dare relive the horror of your long-ago attachment to it?

And I do mean you, not we. I was one of the many people who rejected the show — and I was thirtysomething at the time. That show was certainly not me, though I suppose it actually was, and perhaps that what put off. I was married, then teetering on divorce. I had little children, a new career, and angst about unmet aspirations from the previous decade.

The author of the linked piece, Porochista Khakpour, was in grade school at the time, and she used the show to get a grip on what it meant to be an adult. (She had rejected her parents, Iranian immigrants — "fallen aristocrats" — as role models.) Now, of course, she actually is thirtysomething:
... I find myself torn between the decadent counterculture of my 20s and a desire for things “properly” adult. And this is the very no-man’s-land paralysis that “Thirtysomething” was obsessed with, that cold-sweat-panic moment when youthful rebellion runs headlong into the responsibilities, pains and joys of full-blown adulthood.

In this second-chance viewing as a thirtysomething, I am amazed and inspired by all the everything-in-between, all the nothing-happening, all the ambivalence and the stagnation.


Link to buy the DVD.