December 12, 2009

"I really doubt this gesture is about making the world a better place..."

"... for the serendipity-loving people and their penchant for maidens playing banjos under trees."

At the Frosted-On-1-Side Nightclub...


... you can tell your side of the story.

Late night...

... cuteness.

(Here's the song he's "singing.")

Crunching the virgin snow.

Now, stop:


Aw, come on Joe, what if a blind person saw it?

The designer of a Braille dreidel — the Braidel — doesn't appreciate a blogger's appreciation of it.

CNN idiotically imagines: "Al Qaeda offers 'condolences' for innocent victims."

That is a CNN headline purporting to summarize an English-language apology that is phrased thusly:
"We express our condolences to the families of the Muslim men, women and children killed in these criminal acts and we ask Allah to have mercy on those killed and accept them as shohadaa (martyrs)...

"We also express the same in regard to the unintended Muslim victims of the mujahedeen's operations against the crusaders and their allies and puppets, and to the countless faceless and nameless Muslim victims of the murderous crusades..."
In the body of the article, outside of the quotes, CNN says things like:
Adam Gadahn, also known as Azzam the American, appeared in a 17-minute video released on Islamist online forums late Friday, offering condolences to the families of innocent people killed in al Qaeda attacks....

It is a rare example of al Qaeda offering condolences to the families of those killed in the group's own attacks.
Is this willful misreading or crashing idiocy? Gadahn says "Muslim" and CNN turns it into "innocent." Read on and we see that these are not peaceful sentiments. This is a call specifically aimed at Muslims to side with al Qaeda. Gadahn says:
"Those who have made the foolish decision to stand with America and its allies in their losing war against Islam ... you have not only betrayed Islam and Muslims and left the fold of faith, but you have also caused the destabilization of nations and the displacement ... of thousands of weak and oppressed people," Gadahn said.

"The blood of countless Muslims is on your hands, and the security and very future of the countries you claim to defend and serve has been placed in jeopardy because your external enemies are taking advantage of your heedlessness as you fight and kill your fellow countrymen for American dollars."
Clearly, he does not regard the peace-loving citizens as innocent. He is explicitly saying they are guilty. They have betrayed the faith and the blood of countless Muslims is on their hands.

There isn't even an expression of "'condolences' for" the victims. It is "condolences to." To not for. If you went to the funeral of a murder victim, you'd express condolences to the family, and it would in no way suggest that you were taking responsibility for the death. The murderer could express condolences for what he did. And here, the people CNN portrays as "innocent" are the very people Gadahn is calling the murderers!

It is mind-boggling stupidity. At least the quotes are there to let readers see how embarrassingly stupid it is.

"The country is indeed ungovernable."

"By Democrats."

Shatner! Palin! On Conan!

(I couldn't find the Shatner-on-Carson "Mr. Tambourine Man" that Palin invokes, but you can listen to the album version here.)

"All you need to do is stay away from street and house lights and look up anywhere in the sky."

"It’s a fallacy that you need to point in one particular direction. Provided it is reasonably clear and dark, you should see about one meteor per minute."

Where will you go to watch the Geminids?

"In Defense of Monogamy, or What to do about Our Polyamorous Genes."

"Because of our ancestors’ polygynous and polyamorous sexual behavior, where a small group of powerful men, mostly traveling military warriors and merchants, had children with numerous women of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds and nationalities, more diversity was passed along to us along our ancestors’ X chromosomes than their Y chromosomes. Both men and women inherit diverse genes from their mothers and pass along these diverse sex genes on the X chromosome to their children."

What, then, did you expect from Tiger Woods?

And, speaking of genes:

I made a mess in my genes....

Get friendly with randy, normal genes.

Our favorite atheist, Christopher Hitchens, takes up arms in the War on Christmas.

"[T]he placement of a creche surrounded by a motley crew of humans and animals has no more Scriptural warrant than does 'The Life of Brian.'"

But the lack of "Scriptural warrant" for the modern American form of the Christmas celebration isn't where Hitchens is going with this piece. In fact, it's because Christmas is religious that he's opposed to the Christmas decorations in the public part of the White House. Why isn't it enough, he asks, that there are Christmas decorations on all sorts of private property?
It is not the business of the Chief Executive to take any part in this business, and he has already sworn an oath to put the Constitution first, last and above all. This oath is not general but specific, which means that any detail however trivial is important. May his daughters' stockings be well-stuffed, may a mythical Saint Nick from ancient mythology delight them, may visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads, and may they be little drummer girls for baby Jesus but please, not in the parts of the White House that belong to the world's first secular Republic.
Can you imagine what a fool Barack Obama would be if he took on the project of banishing Christmas decorations from the White House? He of all Presidents — because his Christianity has been questioned — needs to put on the usual display. Oh, we could credit him with bravery if he made this his issue, but his political power is at stake, and I don't want a Commander in Chief who throws away power to gesture at an ideal. And, ironically, it would be the sort of gesture that would stir up political opposition and tend to lead to bold gestures in the other direction if Obama is ousted in 2012. Better to stand on the middle ground and adopt an easygoing maintenance of American Christmas traditions in the White House.

But quite aside from that — assume some other President taking Hitchens's teachings to heart — what is the good of taking away the evergreens and lights that make the darkest part of winter feel especially warm and happy? Does the Constitution require sanitizing religion out of public spaces? It was quite recently — in the case about the stone 10 Commandments monument — that the sensible, practical Justice Breyer wrote:
Where the Establishment Clause is at issue, tests designed to measure “neutrality” alone are insufficient, both because it is sometimes difficult to determine when a legal rule is “neutral,” and because
“untutored devotion to the concept of neutrality can lead to invocation or approval of results which partake not simply of that noninterference and noninvolvement with the religious which the Constitution commands, but of a brooding and pervasive devotion to the secular and a passive, or even active, hostility to the religious.” [School Dist. of Abington Township v. Schempp.]

... [T[he relation between government and religion is one of separation, but not of mutual hostility and suspicion...

Justices Goldberg and Harlan concluded in Schempp that
“[t]he First Amendment does not prohibit practices which by any realistic measure create none of the dangers which it is designed to prevent and which do not so directly or substantially involve the state in religious exercise or in the favoring of religion as to have meaningful and practical impact.”
Peace, Christmastopher.

"On page 12, where Scrooge takes Marley’s ghost to be evidence not of the supernatural, but of his own indigestion, ('more of gravy than of grave,')..."

"... he converts the offending bit of food from being a 'spot of mustard' to a less digestible 'blot of mustard.'"

That's an example of an interesting edit, found in the manuscript of "A Christmas Carol." The NYT has made the entire manuscript available in high resolution, and there's an invitation to compete to find the other interesting edits. You're supposed to put your contest entries in the comments section over there, and I waded through a lot of reader scribblings without finding any legitimate attempts at finding an interesting edit. There are innumerable musings on the character of Scrooge, and I'm seeing a few people quoting inserted passages they like. I guess actually poring over the manuscript and finding another "blot" for "spot" is just too taxing.

Next: helicopter skiing!

And that's just the beginning!

December 11, 2009

Night skiing deserves a quiet night.



"Women like men in pink."

Pink! It's for men too!

Don't think it's too girly. It's the ultimate power color.

ADDED: The 1959 hit from Dodie Stevens, "Pink Shoelaces":

A 98-year-old woman is charged with suffocating a 100-year-old woman to death.

It seems the dead one had complained that her nursing home roommate had too many visitors.

"After much soul-searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf."

"I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father and person."

At the Snow Tree Café...



... you can come in and warm up.

"To every con artist, he is the godfather, the don."

Madoff in prison.

Want to take advantage of the proposed buy-in to the federal health care plan? Got $9,900?

But you think you're getting a government subsidy? Oh, but you are. The buy-in will cost $20,000 — according to a CBO estimate — and — assuming you make only $54,000, on which you are attempting to raise a family of 4 — you will get a government subsidy of $10,100.

Or are you over 55 and thinking you'll get to buy into Medicare? That's estimated to cost $7,600 a year per person — $15,200 for a couple. No subsidies until 2014.

Do people who support what the Democrats are trying to do really understand how much money they will be required to come up with to comply?

PLUS: Here comes the VAT!

Internal stuttering to tease the word "art" out of the middle of "heart."

It's the number 1 song of the first decade of the 21st century.

"The idea of playing a saddle-type cowboy was repulsive to me."

"Then he told me about the derby hat and cane, and I went by the costume department and saw the outfit that Masterson would wear, and I couldn’t resist."

RIP Gene Barry AKA Bat Masterson.

"I just finished watching 'The Last Dragon.' I feel sorry for a cop if he think I'm getting into his paddy wagon."

Handwritten note — poem? — found — after the shootout — on the dead body of a Times Square street peddler of illegal DVDs.

The 8th Annual Right Wing News Conservative Blog Awards.


"The lesbian sex was between a Spanish teacher and a French teacher..."

"... which begs the question: Where was the field hockey coach?"

The late-night talk-show comics scrambled to concoct jokes about the 2 high school teachers who were discovered by the janitor. I've highlighted the Conan O'Brien effort. How awful it must be to get caught naked at work! That's bad enough. But then to be vaulted — naked! — into the national spotlight and to becomee the biggest joke target in the country — even with Tiger Woods begging for more.... What a nightmare!

December 10, 2009

"And for Christmas, buy her a drum."

That's a line from one of the great old Bob Dylan songs. Right now, we've got another kind of Bob Dylan Christmas drum... in video:

Why is Ta-Nehisi Coates shouting an obscenity at me?

He writes:
Ta-Nahesi Coates. Fuckin' Althouse. My name's at the top of the blog and I still can't get Ann's respect.
The link on "Fuckin' Althouse" goes to this post of mine:
Hey! That's sexism against Sarah Palin!

When Glenn Beck says it.
My post links to Coates calling out Glenn Beck for sounding like a sexist. It's phrased to imply that Coates probably wouldn't call out a liberal for sexism, but now that there's an opportunity to slam Beck, he's up for defending Palin. Now, explain what set Coates off in this new post where he curses me. Maybe he didn't understand my post and thinks I didn't realize I was reading his blog (since I didn't use his name in my post — I just linked). I'm not really sure. Perhaps he's so ready to hate me that he didn't pick up my bloggerly comic concision. But — wow! — there he is on The Atlantic website spewing an obscenity at me for...  nothing.

As if to cover up his brutishness, he combed through my comments section and found something offensive that one person said. He quotes someone named "grapp" — with no available profile— who said "I might respect Ta-Nehisi Coates more if he has less of a jackass ghetto name and was more of a serious thinker." Grapp — who claims to be a black woman — wrote at the end of a long thread, and 2 of the 4 comments left on the thread take Grapp to task. Nevertheless, Coates goes on to say "She'd respect me more if I "has less of a jackass ghetto name." He says he finds the comment hilarious — presumably because of the typo/grammar error. Because of the way he began his post by weirdly accusing me of some sort of disrespect related to his name, he's cued his commenters to trash me, which they basically do.

I guess to be like him I should select the nastiest comment to make him look even worse than he made himself look. But I'm not going to do that. I'm going to quote a sensible commenter there:
Come on, TNC, just a couple of days ago you rightfully chided people for talking at strawmen, and here you're writing as if Althouse herself, and not a commenter, made the crack about the name. It looks as if a number of the commenters here have not realized it wasn't Althouse herself who wrote it. The commenter is not the blogger.
There's no rule that says a blogger has to police her comment section and delete offensive posts; some like an open comments policy and some like a moderated comments policy. Althouse has an open comments policy and as a direct result attracts some odious commenters as well as some very good ones.
Come on, Ta-Nehisi Coates. A very serious apology is in order.

ADDED: Now, I see that the problem was that I had a tag for his name and I misspelled it. That brought an obscenity... and a connection to a commenter who took a racial point of view. What a jerk.

I was curious to see how many other places on the net misspelled his name in the same way (as "Nahesi") that Althouse did.

1. Salon's Glenn Greenwald has it spelled that way on his blogroll.

2. Here's a post by "Bitch Ph.D." praising him as wise.

3. Mark Hemmingway has a post on The Corner mentioning Coates, Obama, and hip-hop.

4. This post on Pandagon "corrects" Coates that one cannot be both a feminist and a PUMA.

5. It's also spelled "Nahesi" on the blogroll of The New Yorker.

6. There's a post by Enchanting Juno who says "Ta-Nahesi Coates - who may just be my favorite blogger of all time..."

And that's when I got bored, after browsing through just the first 3 pages of the over 20,000 Bing results for "Nahesi".

I didn't go through any of the 256 instances of "fuckin'" on that Bing found, so it's possible that he's also hurled the vulgarity he graced Althouse with at every other person on the internet who's dared to dis him by unintentionally misspelling his name when linking to his blog. But for some reason, I rather doubt it.
The New Yorker, eh? Ha ha. Apparently, the topic of sexism is like the topic of having your name misspelled for Coates. (AC245 provides links for his 6 items. Go inside if you want that.)

And grapp came back and said:
Althouse, I apologize for leaving a comment that caused Ta-Nehisi Coates to cuss you out.

Yes, I am a black woman. Really. Moreover, I'm heartily sick of names that no one can pronounce, and fed up of people in the community who get angry cuz they seem to think that ALL blacks automatically know how to pronounce the crazy names.

Coates has demonstrated to you why I have no respect for him as a thinker. Ah, there I go, marching out of lockstep again!
I had a typo with 'has' which should've been 'had', I think. Coates, that great mental giant, seems to think that a typo is worth crowing over. Lame.
I assume he found it funny because it gave you the appearance of speaking like a stereotypical black person while you were making fun of his name for being stereotypically black. It's like correcting spelling while making a spelling error.

AND: My own first name is also hard to spell, even as it is easy to spell.

IN THE COMMENTS, PART 2: Susan said:
I'm a TNC reader, but what a weird issue for him to flip out over, given that his grammar and spelling are atrocious.


Jim Treacher said:
Ann, I can't believe you showed such fuckin' disrespect to Ta-Tasilly Coat.

Randy Barnett and Eugene Volokh on the constitutionality of the health care mandate.

This video, which goes for over an hour, begins with former Attorney General Ed Meese introducing Senator Orrin Hatch and Orrin Hatch introducing the professors:


ADDED: I apologize for spelling Randy's last name wrong. Corrected now. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional orthography, it's that there is no "e" on the end of Randy's last name. (And I need to finish writing my Religion and the Constitution exam.)

For the mixed-up annals of gay rights.

"The Irish Supreme Court has ruled that a gay man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple should be permitted to see his 3-year-old son regularly — in part because Ireland's constitution doesn't recognize the lesbians as a valid family unit."

UPDATE: Details here:
The case arose out of a situation where the lesbian couple, who were in a long-term committed relationship, decided they wanted to have a child with the aid of a sperm donor. They decided it would be better for the child if the sperm donor was known to them and the child, and had a relationship with the child, who would know this was his or her biological father.

They drew up an agreement with the father, in this case specifying the nature of the relationship between him and the child, including the fact that the couple would parent the child, while he would occupy the role of “favourite uncle”. He would have no financial or other obligations towards the child, and his contact with the child would be by agreement with the couple.

When the child, a boy, was born, the father wanted more involvement than the couple felt appropriate and after a number of fraught meetings, relations between the father and the couple broke down.

They decided to visit Australia for a year and he took legal proceedings to prevent this, along with proceedings seeking guardianship and access to the child. He lost in the High Court and appealed to the Supreme Court, where he won the right of access, though not guardianship.

44% of Americans would prefer to have George Bush back as President.

Bush's numbers were low, but compared to what? Putting Obama next to Bush, 44% of us pick Bush. You miss him now that he's gone, huh, America? You kicked him when you had him, and now...

I got that link via Meade. Remember Meade, talking to Texans?
When we got up to leave, Meade leaned over to the man and said: "When you go back home, say hi to my favorite Texan."


"George W.!"

You should have seen the man's reaction. It was as if someone had suddenly sprayed water in his face.
These days they long for that cooling spray of water to the face.

Please, let me remember to use this Christopher Hitchens rhetorical device.

I love it!

"The stomach is just a swelling in the gut - it's primarily a vessel."

"You can manage very well with no stomach and the sisters will live perfectly normal lives."

2 sisters have their stomachs removed as a precaution against a rare form of cancer that runs in their family. The stomach, I'm surprised to read, is not essential, and the young women will still be able to eat. They must eat tiny amounts, but they can still consume and digest. They've just lost the holding tank for food.

First steps.


Having practiced in the front yard the previous evening, yesterday, I was deemed ready to ski from one end of our block to the other. Then, we threw the skis in the back of the car and drove over to Picnic Point. I think I put in close to a mile on skis. Haven't fallen yet. Haven't scooted out of control anywhere. Just loving the snow... and the ski instructor.

Speaking of atheists...

... Christopher Hitchens is flaying Bob Wright over on Bloggingheads.

Obama gratuitously insults atheists.

See the update in this morning's Nobel speech post.

"Sounds like... another great town (Madison is really a great place from my experience) is about to be screwed up..."

"... just like Portland has."

Snowed shirtless.

At yesterday's big Bascom Hill snowball fight between the lake shore dorms and the southeast dorms. 3,000 students, including these guys:

That photo is by Isabel Alvarez of The Daily Cardinal. Lots more pics at the link, not all of which are by Alvarez, but here's another cool Alvarez picture — of a guy using a snowball to stanch a bloody nose.

You've got to love those endlessly hardy Wisconsin students. It's really quite wonderful! It says here that was the "first-ever full day of canceled classes" — crazy! — and what better time to show up on campus?
“We just don’t have what it takes to win a snowball fight,” said Greg Stravinski, a junior and Witte Hall resident who fought for the southeast dorms. Stravinski admited the lake shore dorms easily won the fight.

“Southeast comes out stylish,” he said. “We’re all prettied up and the second the snow starts flying we get worried ... lake shore is always there until it’s over.”

Most of the snowball attendees wore standard winter attire, but some of the more enthusiastic students donned goggles, helmets, shields, gorilla and penguin costumes, gigantic slingshots and shovels.

One student from Witte left all his winter gear behind and charged Bascom Hill in only his boots and underwear on a $45 bet.
$45? I bet there are many guys here who would do it just for fun.

There were also huge snowmen all over town. Check out the video of the Great Snowman Wall of Gilman Street (and what happened when the snowplow truck came through):

More reports of snow-related Madison doings here — like those guys who rolled a 10 foot tall snowball out into University Avenue.

Now, we're supposed to feel guilty about wanting to eat fresh fish instead of frozen.

"Flying fillets from Alaska, British Columbia, Norway, Scotland or Chile so that 24 hours later they can be served 'fresh' in New York adds an enormous climate burden, one that swamps the potential benefits of organic farming or sustainable fishing... [W]e need to get over our fetish for fresh. With the challenges facing the world’s oceans mounting, buying frozen is a powerful choice that concerned eaters everywhere can make."

Well, fuck fish. We never liked it that much anyway. Is that green enough for you?

"The spark of the divine that still steers within each of us..."

Or something like that. Are you listening to the live stream of Obama's Nobel speech? I am.

Ah, it just ended. I only heard the last part. About hope. And divine steering by sparks or whatever. [ADDED: The official text was "that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls." So "stirs," not "steers."]

In the part I didn't hear, Obama acknowledged the awkwardness of accepting a peace prize while conducting 2 wars:
"Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars... One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries — including Norway — in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks...."

Urging his listeners to “think in new ways about the notions of a just war and the imperatives of a just peace,” he said the “instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.” But, he said, the practice of war should be governed by “certain rules of conduct.”

The United States, he said, “must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war.”

Peace, he went on, was “unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear.”
Presumably, the speechwriters brainstormed about all the peace-y things about war.

ADDED: I'm looking for the religion-oriented things in the speech. Obama rejects "the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam." He says "no Holy War can ever be a just war."
For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint — no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of ones own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith — for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
He's doing meta-religion, making assertions about what is in all the religions. All religions have this idea of treating outsiders to the religion the same as insiders to the religion? There's a logic loophole whereby he can deny the modifier "major" to any religion that doesn't hew to the principle. That's why the Islamic terrorists have "distorted and defiled" Islam: It's not really Islam because they weren't following the Golden Rule.
Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature.
... [W]e do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place....

So let us reach for the world that ought to be — that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls....
Although Obama acknowledges the immense evil spurred by ideas about God, he presents God as the source of our ability to find our shared humanity and to abandon unjust wars. Atheists can stew off in a corner somewhere, apparently.

December 9, 2009

Snow on wires/tree/sign.




Facebook screwups.


Digging out.


The windowbox.


The rye, after the storm.

Eugene Robinson on Tiger's women: "What's with the whole Barbie thing?"

"No offense to anyone who actually looks like Barbie, but it really is striking how much the women who've been linked to Woods resemble one another. I'm talking about the long hair, the specific body type, even the facial features. Mattel could sue for trademark infringement."

Really? Here's Barbie. Here's a montage of faces that have horizontally faced Tiger's. I'm sorry, Eugene, but these women are just not that pretty. Barbie is very pretty and glossy and made-up, but in a daytime, cheerleadery way. The Tiger women are all made-up for nighttime, indoor work, and they are not all that pretty. Tiger's wife is the Barbie. Tiger's women to cheat on Elin with are all getting away from Barbie/Elin. It strikes me as a touchingly ordinary search for sex that feels dirty.

A Woody Allen joke: "Is sex dirty? Only if it's done right."

Robinson rambles on:
If adultery is really about the power and satisfaction of conquest, Woods's self-esteem was apparently only boosted by bedding the kind of woman he thought other men lusted after -- the "Playmate of the Month" type that Hugh Hefner turned into the American gold standard.
Which Elin is, but — what is wrong with you, Eugene? — these other women are not!
But the world is full of beautiful women of all colors, shapes and sizes -- some with short hair or almond eyes, some with broad noses, some with yellow or brown skin. Woods appears to have bought into an "official" standard of beauty that is so conventional as to be almost oppressive.
What is wrong with Eugene Robinson? He is seeing race, race, race. The Tiger women look white to him — are they? — and, beyond that, some big hair, big makeup, and big boobs makes them Barbie. Hardly.
His taste in mistresses leaves the impression of a man who is, deep down, both insecure and image-conscious -- a control freak even when he's committing "transgressions."
I don't think so. I'd say he's a man who went for the Playmate ideal in choosing a wife and aimed low for cheating. He was the opposite of image conscious and controlling, and that's one of the reasons his fall from the god-like stature he had for us is so very long and hard.


If you clicked on the Barbie link and heard the voice of Barbie, don't you think she sounded an awful lot like Mira Sorvino in her Oscar-winning role — as a prostitute, naturally — in the Woody Allen movie "Mighty Aphrodite"? I say "naturally," because they are always handing out Oscars to actress who take on the amazing challenge of playing a whore.

Barbie, sluts, Woody, Woods...

The snow at dawn.

December 8, 2009

At the Christmas House Inn....


... the good conversation is just icing on the cake.

How much snow has fallen so far?

Exactly the amount that makes me discover a rhyme for "oranges."

"Schabhuttl wanted a roll. Egan, however, wanted him to eat sliced bread."

"'He said that when he refused, she attacked him with the steak,' reported Deputy Carmen Gallup, who noted observing slight redness on Schabhuttl's right cheek and the crown of his head. While Egan denied wielding the steak, she admitted slapping Schabhuttl several times 'so that he can learn.'"

The snow, as it's falling right this minute.

Plus, a bonus: a Madison car, seen this morning:


"Let's have bizarre celebrations!"

#8 in the countdown of the best 100 songs of the first decade of the century.

"UW-Madison classes canceled..."


That never happens.

Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, together at last.

In the polls.

"Wisconsin experiments with the idea of a state bacterium."

Lactococcus lactis.

We're so nerdy.

And cheesy.

An amazing beard from 1991.

(Via The Slog.)

Senator Nelson's abortion amendment fails, 54-45.

"To wrap up debate and move to a final vote, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, will need the unanimous backing of all 60 members of his caucus, including Mr. Nelson. Or he will need to win over enough Republicans to make up for any defections."

The color of the year.

It's turquoise:

All right, then. It's going to be like that.

The first big snow is about to hit Madison...

... and we just bought cross-country skis. I've never done any kind of skiing. Never so much as had a ski boot on my foot. But Meade has been skiing for 25 years, and I got him to move north, so despite my advance age of more than twice 25, I'm going to give it a go. For good measure, we bought snowshoes!

"Paramedics removed a woman from Tiger Woods's Florida home early this morning and transported her to hospital...."

"... WESH-TV reported that a patient at first refused to be taken for treatment, but was later listed as an 'advanced life support' patient and transported to hospital. WESH broadcast footage of what it called 'a middle-age' woman being taken into the hospital on a stretcher."

Another mystery. Should we avert our eyes?


ADDED: Apparently, it was TW's mother-in-law. And, hey, isn't this headline (hilariously) mean?

Could there be less of a man than Jeremy Olson, who not only would throw a tomato at a woman (Sarah Palin)... but would also miss... and hit a cop?

It happened in Minnesota.

Stanley Fish finds Sarah Palin's book "compelling and very well done."

Unlike compulsive Sarah haters — like Andrew Sullivan and Michelle Goldberg — Fish looks at the book as the form of literature it is, an autobiography:
[W]hile autobiographers certainly insist that they are telling the truth, the truth the genre promises is the truth about themselves — the kind of persons they are — and even when they are being mendacious or self-serving (and I don’t mean to imply that Palin is either), they are, necessarily, fleshing out that truth. As I remarked in a previous column, autobiographers cannot lie because anything they say will truthfully serve their project, which, again, is not to portray the facts, but to portray themselves.
Since "Going Rogue" is "satisfying and artful" and shows us what Palin is really like, it succeeds. Fish, an expert on literary art, explains the "architectonic structure" of the book in some detail. Go read that.

Now, what's especially cool about Fish's essay is that he confronts the smugness of his readers, the NYT readers. Instead of the chummy, we-hate-Sarah chatter that defines the liberal/lefty blogosphere, Fish slaps his friends in the face. You think you can write this lady off? You're idiots — he says, in so many words:
Do I believe any of [what Palin has written]? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that she does, and that her readers feel they are hearing an authentic voice. I find the voice undeniably authentic... It is the voice of small-town America, with its folk wisdom, regional pride, common sense, distrust of rhetoric (itself a rhetorical trope), love of country and instinctive (not doctrinal) piety. It says, here are some of the great things that have happened to me, but they are not what makes my life great and American. (“An American life is an extraordinary life.”) It says, don’t you agree with me that family, freedom and the beauties of nature are what sustains us? And it also says, vote for me next time. For it is the voice of a politician, of the little girl who thought she could fly, tried it, scraped her knees, dusted herself off and “kept walking.”

In the end, perseverance, the ability to absorb defeat without falling into defeatism, is the key to Palin’s character. It’s what makes her run in both senses of the word and it is no accident that the physical act of running is throughout the book the metaphor for joy and real life. Her handlers in the McCain campaign wouldn’t let her run (a mistake, I think, even at the level of photo-op), no doubt because they feared another opportunity to go “off script,” to “go rogue.”...

The message is clear. America can’t be stopped. I can’t be stopped. I’ve stumbled and fallen, but I always get up and run again.
So look out, you smug fools.  She's real. Like Reagan was real.

Here are some of the great things that have happened to me, but they are not what makes my life great and American. Family, freedom and the beauties of nature are what sustains us....

December 7, 2009

"In Face of Skeptics, Experts Affirm Climate Peril."

Affirm? We're doing affirmations now? "Skeptics"... affirmations... is this religion?

"1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges."

"If they were really worried about global warming they’d be doing this by Skype. But they live in a culture of entitlement. Energy conservation and carbon limits, like taxes, are for the little people."

Does a law school's anti-discrimination policy trump a student organization's freedom of speech and religion?

The Supreme Court granted cert in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez:
The Christian Legal Society at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law requires officers and voting members to share their religious beliefs, including that "Christians should not engage in sexual conduct outside of a marriage between a man and a woman."

The group filed a federal law suit after the San Francisco law school refused to accord it official status. The school said all official campus groups, which are eligible for funding and other benefits, may not exclude people because of religious belief, sexual orientation and other reasons.

"I had a penchant for rugged living, a sixth sense for cheapness, and an unequaled tolerance for squalor."

Living in a van, going to grad school, shunning debt... freedom.

A serene illusion.

Via ArtsJournal.

Al Gore is trying real hard to be the shepherd.

The climate doom-master has written a poem (in his new book "Our Choice"):
Here is how the poem begins:
One thin September soon
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun
Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
... Gore wrote [the poem]... because his editor nixed his request to include a separate chapter on the impacts of climate change. After all, Our Choice is supposed to be about solutions... Undeterred by his editor’s ruling, Gore re-imagined his impacts chapter in poetic form.

The result is a surprisingly accomplished, nuanced piece of writing.
Nuance. You know how I feel about nuance.
The images Gore conjures in his (untitled) poem turn a neat trick: they are visually specific and emotionally arresting even as they are scientifically accurate.
Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers floods for a season
A hard rain comes quickly
Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning’s celebration
... [T]he final lines of Gore’s poem certainly apply to the governments that will gather in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18 for what is regarded as humanity’s last chance to avert absolutely catastrophic climate change.
The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools
Is Gore himself that shepherd? No matter. What counts is that the hour of choosing has indeed arrived and, as documented in Our Choice, we do have the tools to survive—if we choose to employ them.
So it seems Gore is trying real hard to be the shepherd:

And we will know that he is the lord when he lays his vengeance upon us. Us sheep.

When did Bruce Springsteen start looking like Robert De Niro?

Oh, strangely De Niro was there too. And Obama, of course. Obama said De Niro had "emotional audacity." I love when the Prez uses his own buzzwords to praise other people.

And why wasn't Robin Williams there? Because Springsteen appears to be wearing Mork from Orc suspenders.

"Obama's Afghan Surge Proves He's Trying to Lose, Say Rightbloggers."

Roy Edroso summarizes the "rightbloggers." Including me, of course.

U. lightens up on the heavy.

Under the glare of the public spotlight, the paternalistic school looked worse than the obese students.

Another Drudge juxtaposition.

Unfair! Too cruel!

ADDED: Remember back in 2007, when Rush Limbaugh asked if the nation was ready to watch a woman age the way a President ages in office? From the archive (members-only link):
We are a culture that is obsessed with looking good and perfection because it's seen, we see, that those are the people having a good time. Those are the people that have fame. Those are the people that have wealth. Those are the people that seem to have success.  So, people out there trying to emulate it, and I saw this picture on Drudge yesterday of Mrs. Clinton taken in New Hampshire. It's not a very flattering picture...
Ha. It was Drudge back then.
I think Pamela Anderson would have a better shot at getting elected president of this country [than Margaret Thatcher]....
I challenge Limbaugh to substitute "Sarah Palin" for "Pamela Anderson" in your old riff about America's obsession with good looks and see where that takes you.

December 6, 2009

Snow on the rye.

Our front lawn, today.


It's not grass. It's rye.

"Stop 'going green.' Just stop it."

Says Mike Tidwell. Why?
[S]urveys show that very few people are willing to make significant voluntary changes, and those of us who do create the false impression of mass progress as the media hypes our actions.

Instead, most people want carbon reductions to be mandated by laws that will allow us to share both the responsibilities and the benefits of change. Ours is a nation of laws; if we want to alter our practices in a deep and lasting way, this is where we must start. After years of delay and denial and green half-measures, we must legislate a stop to the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

Of course, all this will require congressional action....
We're a nation of laws, and, in Tidwell's mind, that means not that we are free but that we need law telling us every last thing we ought to do:  Individual voluntary action is a big distraction from what we really need — compulsion.

"I feel like we're like an unemployed couple who just went out and decided to adopt a special needs baby."

"You know, I mean, that's really kind of what we're doing. And that's like, whoa, y'know, that terrifies me."

Special-needs columnist Thomas Friedman attempts to say something about Afghanistan.

ADDED: From March 2008, another Friedmanism:

Clark Hoyt, the NYT "public" editor, thinks the NYT has handled the Climategate story "appropriately."

I understand why the Times preferred to link to the database on somebody else's site instead of hosting it: They're afraid of being sued for copyright infringement (though I think if it were anti-war material they'd take the risk and argue fair use). But I can't accept the core of Hoyt's defense of his employer:
The biggest question is what the messages amount to — an embarrassing revelation that scientists can be petty and defensive and even cheat around the edges, or a major scandal that undercuts the scientific premise for global warming. The former is a story. The latter is a huge story. And the answer is tied up in complex science that is difficult even for experts to understand, and in politics in which passionate sides have been taken, sometimes regardless of the facts....

[Erica Goode, the NYT environment editor said]: “We here at The Times are not scientists. We don’t collect the data or analyze it, and so the best we can do is to give our readers a sense of what the prevailing scientific view is, based on interviews with scientists” and the expertise of reporters like [Andrew] Revkin.
They just interview scientists and don't actually try to understand the science? Even when there is evidence of deceit, they don't pry themselves away from their dependence on interviews with scientists? Drastic, mindboggingly expensive policy changes are proposed based on this science, making this potentially the biggest fraud in history.  Why isn't the NYT on fire trying to figure everything out and helping us readers see into the controversy? The best we can do is to give our readers a sense of what the prevailing scientific view is...  Really? That's the best you can do? Just a "sense" of what "prevails" among scientists? Then the best you can do is to be part of the very problem you ought to be studying: The scientists' efforts to create an impression of consensus.

Tiger Woods refusing to talk to the police ≈ Desiree Rogers refusing to talk to Congress.

Maureen Dowd doesn't really have anything new to say about Tiger,
Tiger may have been the greatest pro golfer but he was an amateur adulterer. His puffed-up ego led him to leave an electronic trail with a string of buffed and puffed babes. Like so many politicians before him, Tiger ignored the obvious rule: Never get involved with women who have 8-by-10 glossies.
Amusing writing. But with nothing much to say about Tiger, Dowd makes a column of it by forcing a parallel with Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary who purported to stand on constitutional principle as she refused to talk to Congress about the White House gate-crashers. Tiger, you see, refused to talk to the police.

But Tiger is a private citizen, and he faced potential criminal charges, either for himself or his wife. Dowd doesn't even mention the Constitution in connection with Woods — even as she's going for parallelism — but Woods had a constitutional right not to talk to the police, and I assume he was well advised by lawyers as he chose not to talk. He had a right to do what he thought was best for himself. The public may be interested in him, and he needs to worry about our loss of respect for him, which would hurt his lucrative career in product endorsement, but he doesn't owe us anything.

Rogers, on the other hand was working for the government, in a position of a public trust, and her refusal to account for herself was quite a different matter. The constitutional provision for executive privilege is not like the individual right against self-incrimination. It's a matter of separation of powers having to do with the ability of the executive branch to function independently. If it is invoked, it should not be Rogers protecting her own interests. It should be because it serves the public good for the executive branch to be free of interference from Congress. It may well be that there are legitimate reasons for maintaining secrecy about the details of planning and carrying out a big White House dinner party. There are some delicate, sensitive matters in party planning, no? One could imagine Congress picking apart such things for the devious purpose of distracting and weakening the President.

Dowd says:
Both Tiger and Desiree hid and stayed silent because they mistakenly thought they were protecting the Brand. But despite their marketing savvy, these two controlling players spiraled out of control.
That sounds clever and amusing, but only if you don't try to imagine what Woods and Rogers might be hiding and how, if they spoke, their words would be used to damage them further.  Dowd assumes that the truth has or will come out: "Don’t stonewall. Admit your mistake before others piece together the embarrassing facts." That is: It's the cover-up, not the crime. It will hurt more if you don't come clean. But I think there are things about what happened the night Woods ran into the tree that will never come to light. And who knows what more there is to the gate-crashers story? It sounds pretty frivolous, and we are expected to get over it. A slight glitch that represents nothing else of any concern. But is it?

"'Hu's the Communist?' I thought he was asking a question."

A joke about a photograph of Obama and the president of China. More jokes told by Sarah Palin here.

(And can someone tell Politico it's Hu Jintao, not Hu Jinato.)

"We have learned to be a little sad and a little lonesome, without being sickly about it."

"This feeling is caught in the song of a thousand juke boxes and the tune whistled in streets and homes, 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas.' When we sing that song we don't hate anybody. . . . Away down under, this latest hit of Irving Berlin catches us where we love peace."