December 31, 2010

New Year's greetings from the Central Time Zone.

Here it's 11:11 PM, but where you are, it's 1/1/11.


At the New Year's Eve Café...

... what are you cooking up tonight?

"Wisconsin fans will be taking this very seriously while enjoying $8 brats, $7 fried cheese curls and $10 pitchers of beer at Mad River Bar & Grille, 1442 Third Ave."

The NY Post is telling New York City folk where to go out to watch the various bowl games, and this is the advice for Badger fans. That's all very nice. But it's not cheese curls! It's cheese curds! Unless they've got some sort of homemade Cheetos over there at the "grille," it's cheese curds.

And, by the way "grille" is the thing on the front of a car. "Grill" is the thing you cook on. But that's not the Post's fault. Maybe the curl/curd mix-up isn't the Post's fault either. I see the Mad River Bar & Grille's idea of a Wisconsin experience is Coors beer. Come on! Pick a Wisconsin beer!

"Comedian Russell Brand posted an unflattering picture today of his wife Katy Perry on his Twitter page."

"Perry may have shown her displeasure with Brand, 35, since the picture was removed from his Twitter account."

But you can see the picture at the link.

Oh, man... marry a comedian....

"The protection accorded under Irish law to the right to life of the unborn was based on profound moral values deeply embedded in the fabric of society in Ireland and the legal position was defined through equally intense debate."

Wrote the European Court of Human Rights in Case of A, B, and C v. Ireland, which Linda Greenhouse discusses in the NYT:
No right under the [European] Convention was violated [where the plaintiffs were able to travel to another country to obtain an abortion], the court said by a vote of 11 to 6. Granted, “the process of traveling abroad for an abortion was psychologically and physically arduous” for these women. And granted also that in their particular circumstances, they could have obtained legal abortions in 35 to 40 other countries covered by the Convention. But because Ireland’s law is based “on the profound moral views of the Irish people as to the nature of life,” the court said, Ireland was entitled to an extra “margin of appreciation.” This phrase expresses a measure of deference toward a country’s right within the framework of international law to chart its own domestic course. With its extra margin, Irish law prevailed.
Greenhouse notes that the European Court accepted a situation similar to what would come into being if the United States Supreme Court withdrew the constitutional right to abortion and the matter were left to state law. She says the case gave her "the eerie feeling that I was peering into a domestic future."
Obviously, not all states would choose to join the anti-abortion bandwagon, even if they had the Supreme Court’s permission. California, New York, the District of Columbia, Connecticut and Massachusetts (once two of the most anti-abortion states, but times change) would remain places of refuge for desperate women, Englands to the Irelands that are Wyoming (which has no abortion provider), the Dakotas, or the Deep South, where a shrinking handful of doctors provide abortions in a hostile regulatory climate. More than a third of all women live in counties without an abortion provider, and that number is growing. Long-distance travel is made more onerous in the half of the states that require 24-hour waiting periods after “counseling,” necessitating two trips or an overnight stay.
The second commenter over there brings up Justice Kennedy's interest in referring to international law:
The right has roundly criticized Justice Kennedy for his interest in international law. Whaddaya bet they won't criticize him for citing the case of A, B & C v. Ireland? Watch the Court chip, chip, chip away at Roe & at Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Well, what about the left? What about those who approve of the use of the decisions from foreign court in the analysis of American constitutional law? Whaddaya bet they won't want to have to pay any attention to "the right to life of the unborn... based on profound moral values deeply embedded in the fabric of society"?

Are you going on a diet for the new year...

... like everyone else with the #1 most common and boring New Year's resolution?

Are you going on a diet?
I'm doing something but there's something about the term "diet" that brings out the quibbler in me. free polls

Are you finishing up that bag of chips right now so you can get the house ready for the virtuous tomorrow? And what will you eat on that diet? Tell us in detail, but first, weigh in here:

What are you thinking of eating in the new year?
The same old stuff.
A variety of truly health-enhancing foods.
Smaller portions of basically the same stuff, leaning a bit more toward the healthful.
I'll cut out carbohydrates.
Cut the junk food, but otherwise the same basic stuff.
I'll set a calorie limit and count calories.
I'll pick a few foods that I'm allowed to eat -- maybe only one food.
Tiny plates. I can eat what I want, but it must fit on that plate.
A liquid diet.
Fasting, maybe one day a week. free polls

How much do you want to lose?
5-10 pounds
Over 10 pounds but less than 25 pounds
More than 25 pounds but less than 50 pounds
More than 50 pounds free polls

Will you meet your goal?
No, of course not. It never works.
Yes, because I'm strong and determined.
Yes, because I'm saying "yes" here and that's gives me new incentive.
Probably not. I may lose some, but these things tend not to work out in the long run. free polls

On his last day in office, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson reveals that he will not pardon Billy the Kid.

The NYT reports a "sigh of relief."

"Last but not least, I'd like to thank Droopy (Robert Wright) for bringing us bloggingheads so we can actually see who we've been reading."

"It does tell us something to be able to see these awful people. Except for, of course, Mickey Kaus, there's no one I could see being a friend of mine, offline, and - after seeing them here - would ever want to read again. Bloggingheads is providing a valuable service in that way."

Hey! What about me?!!

"Retire early, unless some interesting project is underway on the computer. Rise at 3am."

It's the New Year's Eve plan of one of our very favorite commenters, rhhardin. He continues:
Chinese folk song I just put up; having recorded it in 1998 off Radio Taiwan.

Maybe somebody knows the recording, I was thinking. YouTube goes everywhere, unless they've banned it.

It's been through four transcodings, as well as being off shortwave in the first place; but the original has a nice bass line. Video is of transcoding 3 from real audio to mp3. Transcoding from mp3 to wmv was still to come.

Beats Rufus Wainwright.
I featured Rufus in the post where rh comments. He continues:
I may set the backyard bird microphone to record the midnight gunshots before bed, though, if the wind is quiet and the grain elevators shut down for a while.

The shots last for about a half hour; and some guy always starts five minutes early. The clocks are not good out here.

Dogs respond.

It's the Ohio way.
We look forward to the gunshots recording, to more information about "At the Faraway Place - Love Song of the Plain" by Zai Na Yao Yuan De Di Fang, and to all the other recordings and photographs that rh might bestow upon us in the coming year, capturing the mystic essence of Ohio.

"Fashion forward: 10 things to get excited about in 2011."

From the L.A. Times "image staff":
1) Skirts falling. At last, some clothes for women who don't look to the Kardashians for style tips. The tyranny of the mini is over and skirts are falling. Midi, maxi and knee-length skirts were all over the runways for spring at Jil Sander, Michael Kors, Yves Saint Laurent and more. But they're going mass, too....
I led this trend beginning in '09. Took a break from it in fall '10, but after buying these boots yesterday, I've been contemplating regressing to my long skirts. (Bonus Althouse skirt-length material here. (Scroll to "Note about me."))

Oh, well, let's read on. Blah blah blah... oh!
6) The new political guard. If there is one person I'm eager to observe dressing for today's political stage, it's California Governor-elect Jerry Brown. In his 1970s heyday, he was a rake in double-breasted suits with sharp lapels. But now, almost nothing is known about what he wears.

Compared with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who favors suits by Armani, Brioni, Prada and Gucci, has been known to carry a Prada weekend bag and refers to himself as a "shoe queen," Brown is practically anti-fashion--which could almost be more interesting. 
Shoe queen, eh? Where are the pictures to prove this? All they've got is a pic of his head, which is bald on top and pensive in front, with an ear on at least one side. I'm skeptical!

ADDED: Oops. I misread. It's Queen Arnold. There's nothing at all about what Jerry Brown wears. Here's some fashion advice for Brown: wear... brown! Oh, sorry. I thought I was Naomi Wolf for a moment there. Advising Gore.

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Alone? At home?

Not alone? Out?

And now for some great Bloggingheads.

It's the masters: Bob and Mickey! New year predictions from Mickey Kaus about the revival of death panels and the coming "huge debate about income inequality"...

"Swedish prison. Like, I could live there, like it's nice ..."

We join the inane chatter about Julian Assange somewhere near the end of the 50th minute:

"... just because he's a rapist doesn't mean I'm saying he's some some sort of violent... It's such a loaded term...."

There's much more, of course, but that gives you a feeling for the discussion. Continue at your own risk.

ADDED: Instapundit repeats the "just because he's a rapist" quote and snarks "It's not rape-rape," which is a reference to what Whoopi Goldberg said about Roman Polanski.

AND: Back in the 1970s, beginning with the extremely influential book "Against Our Will" by Susan Brownmiller, feminist doctrine portrayed rape as an act of violence. I have been in the presence of feminists who would jump on you, quite harshly, if you said there was some sexuality involved. No, it was 100% violence. You were a heretic if you didn't accept that doctrine. I would challenge Maureen Tkacik with the proposition that if you don't think it's violence, then you shouldn't call it rape.

December 30, 2010


... bathrooms.

"The Rose Bowl will be a fascinating matchup of football physics."

"Wisconsin’s average offensive lineman stands 6-foot-5 and weighs more than 320 pounds. The largest T.C.U. defensive lineman, Cory Grant, is 6-2, 305 pounds. The Badgers (11-1) have plowed over the competition, but their offense is far from plodding."

"Because the Constitution is so old, it is written in the 'old-timey' language of people of more than one century ago..."

"... which leads many modern people to get confused and frustrated by it. 'What is this stupid boring thing?' they will ask, then go back to playing Super Mario Cart. These modern people could not be any more wrong, because hidden underneath all the 'so-called' confusing words is an exciting story with twists and turns everywhere. Fortunately, and most importantly, the Founding Fathers also invented the Supreme Court which does a good job of translating the Constitution into modern words and juxtaposing them for all of us, the American people of the United States."

Iowahawk spoofs young Ezra Klein, who's not impressed with the GOP's new requirement that legislation expressly identify the provision of the Constitution that supports Congress's exercise of power.

Here's Ezra Klein's actual column.



"Boney M's Bobby Farrell dies on the same day and in the same town as Rasputin..."

"... the subject of one of the band's biggest hits."

Speaking of Boney M and death, I first heard of Boney M in the context of the near-death experience depicted in the movie "Touching the Void," where the memorable line is: "Bloody hell, I'm going to die to Boney M."

The anecdote you've been waiting for...

... to make your anti-Obamacare arguments complete.

"That's pretty cool. I love the open buckles and how they pick up the silver of the tin foil/duct tape..."

Comments on a Sartorialist photo from the scene of the NYC blizzard:
Awesome! I love the boots, but it's the duct tape in classic silver that made me take notice. It just goes to show that even a homeless person or city worker or whoever this person is can accessorize with wit and style, given what's available to them....

Whoever this person is, there's always a slight line between what's ridiculous and what's considered "fashionable"...nowadays it seems that everything can work and be "cool"! ...

I battled with this photo. It affects the emotions in that it could be of a homeless or an eccentric person. Maybe you could have indicated that the guy is a construction worker. It comes close to the bone....

Anorexia awareness...

... taken to a new level.

"Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest."

Headlines the NY Post in an article that begins:
These garbage men really stink.

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned....

New York's Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process -- and pad overtime checks -- which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.

The snow-removal snitches said they were told to keep their plows off most streets and to wait for orders before attacking the accumulating piles of snow.

Speaking of Venn diagrams...

... that popular Venn diagram with circles for prostitutes, doctors, and TSA agents and the "get paid to touch your junk" punchline in the center is not a proper Venn diagram, as brilliantly and amusingly explained by Rich Skrenta (via Techdirt).

"Relationships are better if you wait over a month to have sex. Huh. I’m not sure I ever did that."

"I’m not even sure I know anyone who did that...."

Says Instapundit, who should picture a Venn diagram with: 1. people who have sex within a month of beginning a relationship, 2. people who wait a month before having sex, and 3. people who inform their acquaintances about the first time they had sex with their partner.

ADDED: After reading some more about Venn diagrams, I don't think you can picture the Venn diagram I've described — unless you can use squares instead of circles.

"Am I the only person left in the world who worries about spilling his coffee on his laptop?"

2 years ago.

ADDED: I ran across that after reading the colloquy between AllenS and Meade in the comments to the post about Brett's fuzzy penis:
AllenS: Jenn Sterger (the woman) was hired because of some sexy pictures of her in Sports Illustrated mag, that Brent Musberger thought would be a good matchup for the male dominated football sports sceen. Jenn and Brent are just as much at fault here. I'm thinking of sending the woman a picture of my penis also. Could I borrow the fish bowl lens?...

Meade: It's a fish eye lens. Fish eye. It's for taking shots of massive objects or scenes which a normal lens can't take all in. A fish bowl lens would be for taking shots of tiny things. Like Brett Favre's... ability to make good judgments.
AllenS: Ok, ok. Can I borrow the lens that makes stuff look bigger?
But, in fact, the fisheye works really well to make something look large if you get the camera lens right up at it. Lots of other stuff is including in the picture, arrayed all around and looking comparatively small. Frankly — and this is not an offer to AllenS — it would be really interesting to take pictures of naked men and get the extreme closeup on the genitalia with a well-composed and interesting background. I went looking through my old posts with the "fisheye" tag to find some that prove my point.

The second picture here of the fisheye dog makes this point very well. Get right up to the nose. The scenery in the background isn't as interesting as I'd want for my proposed compositions, but you can see how tiny Meade looks in the background (when in fact he was quite close by). Here's another photograph that illustrates the point, albeit with the female body:

Cambodian sculpture at the Met

That's from the Khmer Dynasty room at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. Here's the effect of the lens looking at the room from the other side:

Cambodian sculpture at the Met

Here's some male and female nudity, to be fair:

Museum of Natural History

That's the Museum of Natural History — not Brett and Jenn. You may recognize that couple from the movie "Election" — which is a great cautionary tale about the inadvisability of cheating on... many things (including your spouse).

And then — searching through the fisheye pictures — I found something that was extremely important to me: the purple tree, which had this.

"Do you guys TRY to not get laid?"

Rosie the Riveter, AKA Geraldine Doyle...

... has died at the age of 86.
[T]he woman in the patriotic poster...

... was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., took a job at a metal factory, her family said.

One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.

In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.

Smitten with the UPI photo, Miller reportedly was said to have decided to base one of his posters on the anonymous, slender metal worker - Mrs. Doyle.

For four decades, this fact escaped Mrs. Doyle, who shortly after the photo was taken left her job at the factory. She barely lasted two weeks.

A cellist, Mrs. Doyle was horrified to learn that a previous worker at the factory had badly injured her hands working at the machines. She found safer employment at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, where she wooed a young dental school student and later became his wife.
Oh, the irony! She couldn't do it. But she could inspire others to do it. And she could do other things, like play the cello and rear 6 children. "We" can do it, each in our own way. You work the machines, I'll help people find the right books.

Here's the Norman Rockwell version of Rosie, who's not nearly so glamorous and is clearly not based on Mrs. Doyle:
The 52-by-40-inch oil on canvas depicts "Rosie" on lunch break, her riveting gun on her lap as she uses a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf as a foot stool.
Great symbolism, Norman. And I don't mean the book. I mean the manly power tool.
Rockwell's Rosie is posed as an homage to Michelangelo's frescoed depiction of the prophet Isaiah from the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Here's Michelangelo's Isaiah, who's more respectful of his book, which is about God, not his struggle against lies, stupidity and cowardice.

"The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger."

Aw, come on! Did they examine his penis and compare it to the picture? Yes, the picture may have been fuzzy... but maybe his penis is fuzzy.

Favre has to pay $50,000 anyway, because he "was not candid in several respects during the investigation." Either he failed to cover up in the first instance or he inappropriately covered up in the second.

What Tucker Carlson said about Michael Vick.

"I’m Christian. I’ve made mistakes. I believe fervently in second chances. Michael Vick killed dogs in a heartless and cruel way. I think, firstly, he should have been executed for that. The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale."

December 29, 2010

"It's really almost criminal what they do with our President."

"There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he's doing certain things that he's not. It's just a big old political game that I don't want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I'm sure some of it's true and some of it's not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be."

Merle Haggard, on meeting President Obama.

"He's not conceited. He's very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we've had who come across like they don't need anybody's help. I think he knows he's in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot."

I know. You focused on "he knows he's in over his head," didn't you?

At the Red Tail Hawk Café...


... you can be as hawkish as you like. Or dovish.

"The worst thing I ever smelled was a 40-yard dumpster full of shrimp shells fermenting outside of a cannery in Kodiak."

"I came very close to losing my lunch. You could actually see a heavier-than-air fog of ammonia rolling out of the top of the bin, but I wasn't allowed to puke. I worked for the company that picked up all the cannery offal and recycled it into useful products. I actually deserve some kind of eco-medal."

Said Tyrone Slothrop at 8:33 PM in the comments on my post mocking the notion that it's romantic to roast lobster on a stick in your fireplace. That made me 1. wonder what's the worst thing I've ever smelled and 2. realize I'd never smelled anything truly awful. I remember one time, back in the 70s in NYC, we bought some expensive cheese at Dean & DeLuca, and it smelled exactly like shit. We thought we were sophisticated. At first. When we ate it. Then we thought we were stupid. And we stopped eating it. But if you want to compare notes with Tyrone Slothrop, you've obviously got to come up with something that smells worse than shit.


Don't criticize me for writing a blog post on this subject. Do you realize that I'm not allowed to work today? I'm literally forbidden by the state. There was something I wanted to do too!

IN THE COMMENTS: Irene says: "I think furlough day is tomorrow??" Oh, that's true! It's Wednesday. I keep thinking it's Thursday. Okay, then. I'm all about transforming the syllabus!

Hamid Karzai, nostalgic about the "golden age" — when George Bush was President....

... in a leaked cable from July 2009.

"[T]he worst pop song designed to reflect a profound moral conscience. I.e. the smuggest, most pretentious pop song in history."

Andrew Sullivan sets up a poll for what he (a bit inaptly) calls the "Shut Up and Sing" award. You can't really shut up and sing. He's just looking for bad lyrics of a particular sort.

I only know 4 of the 10 songs on his list, and they don't really bother me. I mean, it's fun to knock Sting, but other than that, who cares what Madonna was actually saying in "American Life"? And if Stevie Wonder wants to sing with Paul McCartney about racial harmony using a piano keyboard metaphor, that's too sweet to get upset about. As for "Okie From Muskogee," that song has aged fabulously well. I was around in the 1960s when we hippies loved hating Merle Haggard for the things he said in that song, but it's nuts to take it the way we did back then:
"Okie From Muskogee," 1969's apparent political statement, was actually written as an abjectly humorous character portrait. Haggard called the song a "documentation of the uneducated that lived in America at the time."... "I wrote it when I recently got out of the joint. I knew what it was like to lose my freedom, and I was getting really mad at these protesters. They didn't know anything more about the war in Vietnam than I did. I thought how my dad, who was from Oklahoma, would have felt. I felt I knew how those boys fighting in Vietnam felt."
That text is from Wikipedia. "Abjectly humorous character portrait"? Somebody doesn't know the meaning of "abjectly." But I'm inclined to say that Andrew Sullivan is abjectly humorless... at least when it comes to marijuana....

"We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee..."

Smug? Pretentious? Absurd!

You know what deserves to win the award Sullivan defines. It's damned obvious and it's not on the list. Imagine all the peeepull....

Really, this award is no fun if you take shots at lightweights like The Partridge Family and the New Kids on the Block — as Sullivan does. Get the guys who've been taken seriously, like Bob Dylan. ("He that gets hurt will be he who has stalled...") Pick a worthy target or... as they say... shut up.

A storm tens of thousands of miles wide.

On Saturn.

"The mayor has to stop acting like 'Baghdad Bob' saying the streets are fine. No they aren't. Where the hell are the plows?"

"Forty ambulances were still stuck in snowdrifts Tuesday night."

"DADT dead-enders latch onto 'shower issue.'"

"Gay troops have been showering alongside straight troops for quite a while. The same is true of professional athletes, students at dorms with communal showers, and gyms across the country."

Yes, this is obvious.

Those who are harping on the shower issue have lost track of the pervasive reality that we can't know and can't police what is in another person's mind — and that people frequently think sexual thoughts. It's utterly routine to encounter people who are thinking about having sex with you. Sometimes these are people you would regard as acceptable sexual partners and sometimes they're not. So what? It's insane to let that bother you. If they don't say anything or do anything or act out in any way, it's nothing to us. If your ability to go about doing what you need to do is undermined by worrying about other people's sexual thoughts, then you are abnormal. It's ironic for the people who think homosexuals are abnormal to believe that heterosexuals are abnormal.

"The idea today was to produce steamed buns that contain egg yolks that break open like a real eggs."

"Shut up, it's an experiment."

December 28, 2010

A purportedly romantic idea: roasting lobster in the fireplace.

Ugh! And look at the picture! The same blogger — at The Atlantic website — who tells us it will be sexy to roast a big old lobster tail at the end of a stick the way you'd toast a marshmallow also attempts to artfully arrange a photographic still-life depicting said lobster-on-a-stick and includes — in the upper right-hand corner — a sculpted ass. An ass! This romantic snack is ass.

Is the blogger — a woman — suggesting this as something a man would try to get a woman excited about or is a woman supposed to cajole a man into this nonsense? Who is this for? It's quite disgusting. Lobster juice dripping into the ashes. What's that going to look and smell like the next day?

Now that I look at what I've written, maybe there is something sex-related about that last question. You meet someone. You're trying to decide what you're interested in doing. Maybe you ask yourself: What's that going to look and smell like the next day?

At the Gin Rummy Café...


... deal with it.


The app. Love it.

"Everything you like to do is wrong."

25 more films enter the National Film Registry — "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

Which ones have you seen?
1. AIRPLANE! (1980)
3. THE BARGAIN (1914)
4. CRY OF JAZZ (1959)
7. THE EXORCIST (1973)
8. THE FRONT PAGE (1931)
9. GREY GARDENS (1976)
10. I AM JOAQUIN (1969)
11. IT'S A GIFT (1934)
13. LONESOME (1928)
15. MALCOLM X (1992)
22. STUDY OF A RIVER (1996)
23. TARANTELLA (1940)
List the ones you've seen in the order of their what you think is their cultural/historical/aesthetic significance. Here's mine:
1. It's a Gift
2. Grey Gardens
3. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
4. Saturday Night Fever
5. THX 1138
6. All the President's Men
The first 2 on my list have long been high on my personal list of favorite moves. The 3d one is also on my list of favorite movies, but not so high.

The "risk in over-learning" the lesson that Presidents can win reelection after getting slammed in the midterms.

Nate Silver writes:
Mr. Clinton and Mr. Reagan, though they are two recent examples, are nevertheless just two examples, and they were both once-in-a-generation political talents.
Reagan was in the "greatest generation" and Bill Clinton is a Baby Boomer. This makes me want to dredge up the old question whether Obama is a Baby Boomer. Taking Silver's assertion seriously, if Bill is the "once-in-a-generation" talent, then Obama's not at the Clinton level. But I'll just link back to that time I assumed Obama was not a Baby Boomer and you readers argued with me about it. Well, maybe you've changed your mind. I haven't.
[Would Obama] win re-election if an election were held tomorrow[?] His approval ratings right now are quite similar to where George W. Bush’s were at the end of 2004. Mr. Bush won re-election, albeit very narrowly and against a relatively weak Democratic nominee.

Then again, the set of prospective Republican nominees is also perhaps rather weak.... [I]f an election were held tomorrow, Mr. Obama would be a clear favorite against Ms. Palin, and probably about even money (although perhaps a very slight favorite) against a less divisive Republican nominee....

[But] an election won’t be held tomorrow. Do we have any inkling yet about whether Mr. Obama’s standing with the public is likely to improve or decline by 2012?
There's the economy, which might improve. And there's the post-election flurry of activity by the doomed Democratic majority in Congress, and then, whatever will happen with the Republicans in the next session.
Mr. Obama will be fighting from a defensive posture on health care, which remains unpopular with the public....

Ultimately, however, Mr. Obama is more popular than the Republican Congress — an advantage that Bill Clinton did not have after 1994, nor Ronald Reagan after 1982. With the equally unpopular Democratic Congress largely being marginalized, that may work to his advantage....

Until we get a better sense for how the dynamics between Mr. Obama and the Republicans will play out — or in which direction the economy is headed — I would be skeptical of analyses that seem to express a significant amount of confidence on either side of that figure.
It seems to me that people generally tend to hate Congress, so it will help the President to have an oppositional Congress.

A pro-abortion rights spokesman cries out against a Supreme Court decision that's like a planted seed, growing and eventually "popping out."

There's new state-level legislation banning abortion after the 20th week, premised on the notion of fetal pain and building on the legal precedent in Gonzales v. Carhart. (Carhart upheld the federal statute banning "partial birth" abortion.)
"I believe the decision was like planting a bunch of seeds, and we're just starting to see the shoots popping out of the ground," said Roger Evans, who is in charge of litigation for Planned Parenthood of America.
A man has the right to choose... his metaphors.


The linked article, by WaPo's Robert Barnes, goes on at length about the conservative/liberal balance on the Supreme Court, the importance of Justice O'Connor's retirement, and the things Justice Kennedy wrote in Gonzales v. Carhart. (Kennedy would in all likelihood cast the deciding vote if there were a 5-4 case on the subject of abortion in the with the current array of Supreme Court Justices.)
Kennedy's [opinion for the majority in Carhart] was shot through with references to government's interest in protecting the unborn and in making sure women knew the consequences of their actions.
But Kennedy made it clear that the pregnant woman gets to make the final call about whether to abort a pre-viability fetus. A ban on abortions after 20 weeks is plainly inconsistent with that. In Carhart, there was absolutely no question that woman got to exercise her choice to end the pregnancy. The issue was only about whether one way of removing the fetus could be banned (when another method remained available).

A "disaster scenario": the Giants, trounced by the Packers, get stuck in Wisconsin.

This looked bloggable, because I thought there'd be some amusing quotes bitching about Wisconsin. There weren't, and I was about to not blog this at all, but I just wanted to give the Giants credit for professionalism, for only letting out quotes like "So we quickly adapted and went right to work." That makes the life of the blogger a lot harder, but I quickly adapted and went right to work, looking for amusing quotes in the political stories, where the spokespeople screw up every day.

Obama opines on Michael Vick's being given a second chance.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie described the phone call he received from the President:
"He said, 'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,' " said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. "He said, 'It's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.' And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.''
How inspiring is the return of Michael Vick? Will it hearten those who are attempting to return to society after serving time and make the rest of us more likely to welcome them back? Or will it make us more likely to think cynically that the rich and famous get special exceptions from the rules? Does Vick make the field look more level or less level?

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade (adopting the commenting style of Trooper York) wrote:
"Pot had helped, spreading genital herpes; maybe a little felony conspiracy in interstate commerce/aid of unlawful animal fighting venture when you could afford it."

- Dreams from My Blotter: A Short Memoir by Barrrk "OokieRonMexico" Obama (2010), pp. 93–94.
Rialby said...
"They talk about me like a dog" - BHO

I guess talking about him like a dog is better than what Michael Vick might do... pick him up by his tail, swing him around and smash his head against a cinder block wall.
Hmmm. You know, I've never gotten the impression Obama had much affection for Bo.

December 27, 2010

"When life gives you lemonade..."

"... make a highly caffeinated, alcoholic lemon-flavored drink."

Identical triplets, aged 11, 11, and newborn.

The third one, previously frozen, arrives at long last.

"Farewell To Teena Marie, The 'Ivory Queen Of Soul.'"

NPR puts up 2 old pieces that include some real singing.

"UW, TCU a big mismatch — off the field."

"Big vs. small. Public vs. private. Midwestern vs. southern. Mammal vs. amphibian.... 'In general, people at TCU acknowledge there's somebody higher and bigger than us'...."

"I eat as much as I want, whenever I want but at this time of year I really go all out."

"Christmas should give you carte blanche to do whatever you want.... People who feel guilty about eating are hilarious."

Politico picks the "best quotes" of 2010.

And the definition of "best" seems to be: the speaker was a politico whose own statement defined him/her in a negative way — e.g., "I'm not a witch."

Too bad no one ever comes out with brilliantly wise and witty epigrams anymore.

"YouTube City, man."

Says a man who's frustrated that his presumably video-capable "phone can't come out of the scanner fast enough." Someone else is there with a video device capturing him saying that about the scene at the airport as a woman....

Well, what the hell is her game? Is she the victim of horrific TSA intrusion or a fame-seeker seizing the viral video route to celebrity? She's awfully carefully coiffed and made-up for the occasion of her humiliation....

The NYT asks whether Jon Stewart is "the modern-day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow."

"Did the bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders become law in the waning hours of the 111th Congress only because a comedian took it up as a personal cause?"

December 26, 2010

At the Meadhouse Pizzaria...


... a robot dances for joy at the Nueske bacon topping.

Talk about whatever you want, but if you want more stuff for pizza, get some Bob's Red Mill Semolina, a good pizza stone, and a pizza peel. And here's the music we're playing.

Surrendered baby.


Who are you?

We're the best/worst political videos of 2010.

What we're listening to at Meadhouse.

ADDED: Same song, in concert, recently.

The "Canada effect" is wearing off here in Wisconsin.

The term refers to the way students in the northern tier of states do better on standardized tests.
It's a common perception that most educational problems belong to Milwaukee Public Schools, but the state's decline goes beyond lower achievement scores in urban areas. In fourth-grade reading, the state's white students - most of whom are educated outside urban school districts - have scored below the national average for students of the same race on all four assessments given since 2003.

"I don't think that most people in other parts of Wisconsin think that their school district is having trouble; I think they clearly can see that MPS has challenges, but they don't think anybody else does," said Governor-elect Scott Walker, adding that even the state's successful school districts have some struggling schools....

Walker supports a statewide evaluation system with multiple measures of performance that would rank teachers in four categories: ineffective, needs improvement, satisfactory or exemplary....

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said people will reject efforts to evaluate teachers if they perceive them as being solely driven by ideology. 
Barrett was the Democratic candidate who lost to Walker last month.

Beautiful and 23...

... Crystal Harris is marrying an 84-year-old man.

ADDED: Or maybe she's 24.
While she was studying psychology at San Diego State University, she started modelling and was noticed by Playboy. She met Hefner on Halloween in 2008 and started dating him in January 2009 while he was also dating identical twin glamour models Kristina and Karissa Shannon. But he ended his relationship with the twins in January this year and has remained monogamous to Crystal since. Crystal once said that she believes she and Hefner were able to bond because she lost a long-time boyfriend in Iraq and he was going through a break up with Holly Madison, whom he dated for 8 years.
It all fits together!

The death panels are back.

Excised from the statutory text, death panels — or that thing that got wrongly called "death panels" — returns by way of regulations:
The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves....
Get ready to be prompted to sign a document that will sound helpful and reasonable. The advance directive. Don't you want the autonomy and control that comes from deciding in advance that you don't want people to try to save your life?
“While we are very happy with the result, we won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because we aren’t out of the woods yet,” [said the office Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon*] in an e-mail in early November to people working with him on the issue. “This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”

Moreover, the e-mail said: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”
The email said email can be too easily forwarded. Ha ha ha. And now, here it is, quoted in the NYT, cut and pasted into blogs.
The e-mail continued: “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response. The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

In the interview, Mr. Blumenauer said, “Lies can go viral if people use them for political purposes.”
But it's not a lie. You may not like the label — no labels! — attached to the policy, but the policy itself is understood — understood and presented in an inflammatory way that precisely counterbalances the soothing, lulling tones used by people who like it.
Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, and Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, led the criticism in the summer of 2009. Ms. Palin said “Obama’s death panel” would decide who was worthy of health care. Mr. Boehner, who is in line to become speaker, said, “This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.” Forced onto the defensive, Mr. Obama said that nothing in the bill would “pull the plug on grandma.”
Well, you will pull the plug on grandma, but only after grandma has signed the document the doctor explained to her long before she got into the situation she's in now, back when it seemed like autonomy and control.
“Using unwanted procedures in terminal illness is a form of assault,” [said Dr. Donald M. Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service]. 
The question is what do patients want and how what they want will be determined. It seems to me that the effort is to get people to commit in advance to death-hastening choices, by getting everyone to sign these documents. Now, all the new regulation seems to do is to authorize Medicare reimbursements for the time health care professionals spend counseling patients about the value and importance of signing the document. It's hard to see what's wrong with that. If treatments are covered but advice about forgoing treatment is not covered, then there's an incentive to do expensive things.
In a recent study of 3,700 people near the end of life, Dr. Maria J. Silveira of the University of Michigan found that many had “treatable, life-threatening conditions” but lacked decision-making capacity in their final days. With the new Medicare coverage, doctors can learn a patient’s wishes before a crisis occurs.
Treatable? You have a condition that can be treated, but you can't think well enough anymore to decide whether you'd prefer to die? If you've signed the document, the answer is you'd rather let the condition kill you, because you allowed the doctors to "learn [your] wishes before" this "crisis" occurred. You didn't know what the crisis would be or how you would feel when it happened, but you had "wishes" then and these will be taken as your "wishes" now.


*Oregon, the assisted suicide state.

Solar energy...

... where it really matters.

The east coast blizzard.

Was your flight canceled? Did you go home for Christmas only to find, Christmas night or the next morning that you're going to have a terrible time getting home... other home?

"Manhattan, the world's most famous melting pot, is losing its rich ethnic and racial diversity."

The new census figures show:
Overall, Manhattan's population has swelled by 5% to 1.6 million since 2000, and educated whites appear to account for the influx...

The white population rose by an estimated 11% to around 928,000 in the past decade...

At the same time, the number of blacks dropped by 6% to less than 250,000...

Between 2000 and 2010, whites went from 2% of Harlem's population to 9.8%. The black population shrank from 61.2% to 54.4% in the same period...
According to the article, Manhattan is becoming, more and more, a place where educated white people pay a lot so they can work a lot: "This is type-A culture... It's a work-oriented, achievement-oriented island. Because of that they want to be near their offices, it's a huge benefit to productivity."

December 25, 2010

What did you get for Christmas?


I got ice skates...


... and the boys are in town.

"It's a hamburger wedged between two grilled cheese sandwiches."

1 of the 10 worst fast food products of 2010. And it's not the only grilled cheese-based one. There's also a grilled cheese sandwich with 4 fried mozzarella sticks inside.

"On behalf of the entire team here at the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas."

Least Christmassy Christmas email of the day.

Eat your Christmas tree.

"At my restaurant we use their needles as a spice. You can cook with a branch of spruce or fir as you would a sprig of rosemary or thyme. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if families gathered after Christmas, festively removed the decorations and then cut off the tasty needles of the tree to flavor their food?"

"O Holy Night"... over and over.

What's your favorite version? When have you had enough?

I was going to pretty much do exactly that post a couple days ago! But I never completely got my act together and now I've been scooped.

Ah, well... I did it with "Blue Christmas" in 2004, in the first Christmas on this blog, and things were much harder then... because we didn't have YouTube.

The traditional Althouse Christmas photograph.

Christmas 1953

(What we wore and how we looked in 1953.)

Merry Christmas!


December 24, 2010

Did you find your way home...


... for Christmas?

It's Grande Conservative Blogress Diva time again.

There are 16 nominees this year, including, once again, me.
Remember, to qualify as a conservative blogress diva, a nominee need only be a strong woman who commands the respect of gay male conservatives. She need not be conservative herself.
Get it, guys?

Christmas greetings!

A card from Palladian. Check out his cool sketchbook here.

The music...

... that died.

"But if the Volt appeals to you, my hunch is that you’re going to love it more than any car you’ve driven in years."

From the enigmatically written NYT rave review of the Chevy Volt. So... it's the kind of thing that people who like that kind of thing like.

How I learned to stop worrying and...

... love the global warming.

(Via Instapundit.)

There's a reason why you don't hear much talk on this subject. I'm tempted to say the reason is people don't really believe global warming is happening. But leave that to the side.

The reason is that when [IF!] global warming sets in, there will be winners and losers, and those who predict that they will win understand the value of circumspection and restraint. It's best for the Russians and the Canadians to keep quiet about the coming riches and pleasures. Don't prematurely rouse the future's losers. Global warming is a growling lamb. 

Go ahead. Argue with me. I'm ready for the malign blog war.

ADDED:  For the purposes of this discussion, assume global warming will occur.

If redistricting produces new Hispanic-majority districts, will that benefit Democrats?

It's a complicated set of variables, explained by Nate Silver. After the 2010 census, Texas will get 4 new districts, and under the Voting Rights Act, that might mean that 3 of them will need to be "majority minority" districts deliberately concentrating Hispanic voters. That seems as though it undercuts the idea that the GOP benefits from the new districts in the red state of Texas. But majority minority districts can hurt Democrats overall, even if the districts themselves easily and predictably yield a Democratic congressperson every single time.
If a new Democratic district is created, those Democrats must be taken from somewhere else. It is quite possible that in the process of creating one new Democratic district, two or more districts will be tipped toward Republicans.

The key is how efficiently each party’s voters are allocated. What a party would prefer is that, in the districts where it has a majority, that majority is as small as possible, so as not to waste any of its voters.... Conversely, in those districts where it didn’t have the majority, it would prefer to lose by as many votes as possible — in fact, it would prefer to have none of its voters there at all.

What a party wants to avoid, meanwhile, is districts where it has say 45 percent of the vote: it’s using up a fair number of its voters, but not enough to give it a majority. It would also like to avoid districts where it has close to 100 percent of the vote, since so many of those votes will be superfluous.
Silver is explaining how complicated it is, but he's actually also oversimplifying, because he's assuming each vote is either a Democrat or a Republican. But if you set up a district with 45% Republicans and 55% Democrats, the Republicans might be able to win with a relatively liberal candidate, especially if the Democrats had a candidate who leaned too far to the left. How safe do you want the district to be? If it's super-safe, you waste votes, but the narrower you make the margin, the more likely it is that the other party can swing enough of your party's voters to win.

How predictably Democratic are Hispanic voters? As Silver notes, they are not as locked in for the Democrats as are black voters. Silver says that's what makes Hispanic-majority districts more helpful to the Democrats than black majority districts: A majority minority district can be created without "wasting" as many Democratic votes. That only works, of course, if these Hispanic voters still go for the Democratic candidate.

Silver doesn't talk about the fact that the GOP controls the Texas legislature, so it will dominate the decisionmaking about where the district lines are drawn. It may be able to craft majority minority districts that have a close enough political balance to allow them to win, or it may be able to figure out how to pack the consistently Democratic voters into one district. It's a subtle game, and the parties have gotten really good at playing it over the years.

ADDED: Please note that I've expressed no opinion about whether the Voting Rights Act actually does require Texas to make 3 of the 4 new districts majority Hispanic. I assume there will be plenty of litigation over this.

"Washington's currency is power, and fashion helps to bring order to the power structure."

"Clothes provide the first hint of how we relate to one another and how seriously we should be taken. (Remember that, dear interns in your flip-flops and miniskirts.) Gentlemen may pull on a bespoke suit or rebel against that brand of traditionalism with rumpled jeans and T-shirts. Power is now a woman in a sleek sheath, not one in a frumpy suit and a pair of commuter sneakers."

Robin Givhan opines on fashion and Washington as she steps away from her fashion beat at the Washington Post (and into the more stylish Daily Beast). She thanks the Post and pleads for the importance of fashion writing — "fashion [can] provide a window on who we are... amid the frippery and parties, fashion is also business, politics, religion, sociology and ultimately, life." And she links to a few choice old items, going back as far as 1998 — I wish I were blogging then! — to a thing about Paula Jones:
She has smoothed the frizzy mane of curls that once reached to such dazzling heights. Her makeup is now subtle and based on natural, not neon, hues. Her clothing is inspired by the boardroom instead of the secretarial pool. She has embraced the markers of dignity, refinement and power.
So... the frumpy suit and not the sleek sheath? Funny how these "markers" get switched around, isn't it?
"I had been very aware of the horrible things the White House was saying about her. The main thing we looked at was what could we do to do away with all those things," says her California-based spokeswoman, Susan Carpenter-McMillan.

"She is not white trash," she says. "She is not a big-haired floozy."
Whatever the woman is, she needs to be the opposite. Do you have big hair and they're calling you a white-trash floozy? Get small hair! Wouldn't it be funny if men under attack made their big hair small or their small hair big and changed from — what would it be? — a conservative suit to a less conservative suit or a less conservative suit to a more conservative suit? Bill Clinton didn't alter his appearance when he got into trouble. (But see Al Gore.)

Tattoo OSU.

Terrelle Pryor and four of his Ohio State teammates will be suspended from the first five games of the 2011 season ... for first accepting discounted rates on tattoos and then letting that escalate into selling personal OSU memorabilia to the owner of a local tattoo parlor....

December 23, 2010

At the Pomegranate Café...


... you don't need to be so careful.

The Virgin Mary in Wisconsin.

Officially validated by the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1859, the year after Mary is said to have appeared in Lourdes, a Belgian immigrant here named Adele Brise said she was visited three times by Mary, who hovered between two trees in a bright light, clothed in dazzling white with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars above her flowing blond locks. As instructed, Ms. Brise devoted her life to teaching Catholic beliefs to children.

Jonah Goldberg identifies "24 people who are beneficiaries of nontrivial presidential buzz."

"Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John Thune, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, David Petraeus, Ron Paul, Jeb Bush, John Bolton, Bob McDonnell, Jim DeMint, Chris Christie, Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Judd Gregg, Marco Rubio, and Rick Perry."

He then whittles it down to:
Romney, Palin, Gingrich, Pawlenty, and Daniels. Romney is the organizational front-runner; Daniels is the first pick of wonks and D. C. eggheads; Palin probably has the most devoted following among actual voters; Gingrich will dominate the debates; and Pawlenty (vying with Daniels) is the least disliked.

Why won't the Obama say that polar bears are endangered and thus make it possible to use the Endangered Species Act to deal with global warming?

"U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan sent the [Bush administration's] controversial listing decision back to the Obama administration in October, asking officials to clarify the language the agency used when it determined that polar bears aren’t 'endangered' under federal law. Environmentalists ... had hoped that Obama administration officials would ... protections to the species."

I'm guessing that wasn't changed because polar bears aren't endangered and because using the Endangered Species Act to fight global warming is a bad idea.

Why is Obama's plan to close Guantanamo "in shambles"?

David Remes, lawyer for 14 detainees, says:
“From the outside it appears to be in shambles because he was never sufficiently committed to the success of his own plan and, as a result, Republicans were able to mobilize to turn the issue against him and he provided the Congressional Democrats no leadership.”
I'm guessing it's in shambles because Obama faced the reality that closing Guantanamo is a bad idea.

"Phallocracy, penocracy, jockocracy, cockocracy — call it whatever," Mary Daly fought it.

She's one of the dead-this-year individuals profiled in the NYT Magazine's annual "Lives They Lived" issue.
When Boston College became fully coeducational in 1971, Daly said she would no longer admit men into her classes, though if they showed genuine interest, she would tutor them privately. For the next 30 years, any time a man tried to register for one of her women’s studies or theology seminars, he was rebuffed. Men were a distraction, she felt. They sucked up the energy in a classroom. “I hear words like ‘separate’ and ‘equal,’ ” she told an interviewer. “I don’t care about those words. I want there to be women’s space, where there can be explosions of thought.”...

At speaking engagements, she refused to take questions from men, saying it was important for them to understand what it feels like to be voiceless and ignored. “There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard,” she wrote in “Outercourse,” her 1992 autobiography. “Let them rest assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imaginations, and that I will continue to do so.”

"This is pretty much proof that rock music is dead, right?"

"We're not gonna tell Nickelback to come back because all is forgiven, but this warm washcloth of facepalmy puns and cutey-poo pukulele might be why Captain Beefheart died."

(Also via ALOTT5MA.)

"The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English."

Click. Hey, for me, click is one of the most beautiful words. But the words on this list tend to be multisyllabic with aesthetically pleasing sounds: evanescent, efflorescence, effervescent, emollient.


The "Comeback Brands" of 2011.

According to Forbes. These are actual commercial brands. Not political stuff ... like the GOP.
“Consumers are not as optimistic,” says Miriam Quart, president of ad agency Madison Avenue Consortium. “They are looking back at the ‘good ol’ days.’ It’s a great time to work the nostalgia angle in advertising.” Instead of positioning traditional products as aspirational, several marketers hope to reconnect consumers with forgotten comfort brands.
And, supposedly, we feel like washing our hair with Pert and chowing down on Little Debbie cakes and Planter's peanuts.

"Steven Spielberg advising Nancy Pelosi on rebranding Democrats."

Okay. Here's an idea. Get all the other Democrats to wear black suits, and Nancy wears a red dress...

AND: Can somebody Photoshop John Boehner's face onto a shark? Make Barney Frank's finger light up?

How to get people to watch women's sports: "1. More singing.... 2. No more uniforms.... 3. More dating intrigue."

Joel Achenbach is using the hoary old tactic of trying to get a rise out of the feminists.
1. More singing. When U-Conn tips off against FSU with the all-time record on the line, we know that U-Conn is going to clobber the overmatched Seminoles. But what if the teams were also required to conduct a singing competition at halftime and, say, in the closing seconds? And they don't know if they'll have to do a hip-hop number or some country-and-western? Nothing but suspense.

2. No more uniforms. I am not suggesting nudity! I am suggesting that, rather than the players wearing identical outfits, they get to wear whatever they want, ideally clothes that they have personally made. And not even with real fabric, but with items purchased at, say, a hardware store! And this would be rated by judges. A player could have a rough night at the free throw line, making only three of ten shots, but she could still come out with extra points for having fashioned her outfit out of a heavy industrial tarp.

3. More dating intrigue. Break-ups, hook-ups, emotional anguish, betrayal, reconciliation. Friendships damaged and repaired. Gossip. Melodrama! Less emphasis on teamwork, more emphasis on the mating competition. If you can't steal the ball, maybe you can steal a boyfriend. Nothin' but viewers, my friends.

DeLynn Woodside, the Sharpie harpy.

"A 13-year-old boy was arrested Friday for using a permanent marker while in class at his Oklahoma City middle school, a violation of an obscure city ordinance. According to an Oklahoma City Police Department report, the boy was spotted 'in possession of a permanent marker' by Roosevelt Middle School teacher DeLynn Woodside. The 50-year-old educator told cop Miguel Campos that the student was 'writing on a piece of paper, which caused it to bleed over onto the desk.'"

The "unmitigated disaster" of Broadway's "Spiderman."

"'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,' the Broadway show currently in previews in New York, aspires to redefine the genre with music from Irish rocker Bono and death-defying aerial stuntwork."

It's been death-defying so far, but not injury-defying. When you're watching a movie, you know that if somebody died making that stunt, they wouldn't show it. Remember Brandon Lee?
The mysterious death of Bruce Lee's son was sure to achieve a cult status all its own. The story goes that actor Brandon Lee was shot on the set of his final film, The Crow, in the middle of filming a scene; and that his death was left in the final cut of the movie....

Brandon Lee was indeed shot while filming. It was a tragic accident involving a gun firing blanks. A fragment of a dummy bullet, from a previous scene, was lodged in the gun and fired into Lee, fatally wounding him. Some mystery remains surrounding the film of the incident, with some saying it was destroyed, and others saying it was confiscated by police. It was not used in the movie. The scene was rewritten and reshot using a double, and the manner of his death is different than what happened in the fatal accident.
But if someone gets killed in a live-theater stunt, the audience witnesses the death. It's supposed to be part of the entertainment that the stunts look risky, but if you are not confident that the actors and stuntmen are perfectly safe, deriving pleasure from watching that feels wrong — or it should. And taking a child to the show becomes utterly unacceptable.

Which raises other questions: Why are Broadway shows aimed at children in the first place? Why did they move into the special-effects/adolescent domain that movies dominate? Remember when theater was aimed at adults, and the more snobbish adults would look down on things like "Carousel" and "South Pacific" as too middle-brow? Now, the heights of "Carousel" and "South Pacific" seem unreachable — except in revivals of "Carousel" and "South Pacific."

Broadway, it's all wreckage.

Shouldn't we have more respect and reverence for the President of the United States?

That's the question raised in this NPR segment:
[D]oes our increasingly informal relationship with the man in the White House — not just President Obama, but any sitting president — diminish our respect for the man and reverence for the office? Should we leave the uncovering of private and behind-closed-doors habits to the historians?...

Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University, believes there are pros and cons to having Too Much Information. "Knowing too much about a president makes them seem more human, but it certainly detracts from some of the prestige that Americans once held for the office," says Zelizer. "If the president is too much like us ... we have more trouble developing respect for the officeholder and we start to find fault, too easily, about issues that don't really matter."
I thought the American tradition was disrespecting authority. I can't remember a President who wasn't disrespected. (And I can remember back to Eisenhower.) Disrespecting authority is a check on power. When I hear journalists, historians, and other purported experts promoting reverence for the President, I suspect them of having the political agenda of increasing his power. Did NPR and that Princeton history enthuse about reverence for authority when George W. Bush was President?


The 2012 presidential campaign season has begun and the usual media outlets are shoring up President Obama. I'm seeing many articles this week touting the President's amazing achievements in 2010.

We were already "more naked, as a nation, than we've ever been" — which is why we're accepting the airport naked-body scanners.

Asserts Libby Copeland:
We are more naked, as a nation, than we've ever been. We are forever baring our souls, revealing the mundane and the sacred. We are naked in our curiosity about the semi-famous and the strange, we are naked in our aspirations (to be semi-famous, even for something strange), we are naked online - or, at least, considerably more exposed than we tend to realize.

All of which may help explain why most Americans seem unconcerned about those full-body airport scanners, the ones that see under your clothes. In an existential sense, we are used to this sort of thing. Go on, take a gander, we seem to be saying. We have nothing to hide.
So if I choose to reveal myself in various ways, I will accept someone else forcing me to reveal myself? That's like the old and much-maligned argument that if a woman is sexually active, then raping her isn't such a serious crime — and that it's impossible to rape a prostitute.

"Now Might Be A Really Great Time (For Republicans) To Weaken The Filibuster."


December 22, 2010

Pat Robertson: "I'm not exactly for the use of drugs, don't get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana..."

"... criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it's just, it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That's not a good thing."

At the Winter Sky Café...


... it's getting warmer and the light is breaking through.

"No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie..."

"... or look over their shoulder in order to serve the country that they love."

Says Barack Obama, signing the repeal of the odious Clinton-era legislation known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

It's shameful that it's taken so long, and I have previously commented on Obama's lackluster efforts in this area. It remains to be seen how well he will do truly implementing the end to discrimination against gay people in the military, but today's signing is a step along the way, and it deserves acknowledgment.
The law will not actually change until the Pentagon certifies to Congress that the military has met several conditions, including education and training programs for the troops.

"In the coming days, we will begin the process laid out by this law" to implement the repeal, Obama said. Meanwhile, he cautioned, "the old policy remains in effect." But he pledged that all the service chiefs are "committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently," and he vowed, "We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done."
I'll be watching those feet.

"When I thought my dogs and I were having deep, meaningful conversations, I knew it was time to get out of the house."

"And I needed the money."

Huckabee takes sides in the Michelle v. Sarah food fight.

Sarah Palin took a very gentle shot at Michelle Obama... on the subject of dessert:
In her TLC show Sarah Palin's Alaska, the former GOP vice presidential nominee is seen opening cupboards in search of chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers, asking "Where are the s'mores ingredients?"

"This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert," Palin said.
Mike Huckabee, famously once quite fat and actually pretty fat again, opined:
“With all due respect to my colleague and friend Sarah Palin, I think she's misunderstood what Michelle Obama is trying to do... Michelle Obama's not trying to tell people what to eat or not trying to force the government's desires on people... She’s stating the obvious, that we do have an obesity problem in this country."
Well, he's not running for President against Michelle Obama. He's running (potentially) against Sarah Palin. Ironically, Sarah Palin is the one who's thin.

Now... is it true that Michelle Obama isn't "trying to tell people what to eat" and "not trying to force the government's desires on people"? Is it true that she's only "stating the obvious, that we do have an obesity problem in this country"? I don't know why Michelle Obama looks better if she's simply "stating the obvious" fact that there are a lot of fat people in this country. If it's so obvious, why point it out? And it's rude to do nothing more that point out that people are fat.

Here's Michelle Obama looming over some little boy as Barack Obama signs the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Looming large. You decide what's obvious. Or ask Huck, the arbiter of obvious. I just want to note that this bill seems to be about telling people what to eat and forcing the government's desires on people. (Forcing the government's desires on people? That sounds weirdly rape-y.)
But as the school-nutrition bill evolved, the first lady became involved in the sometimes messy world of legislative sausage-making to help push it through. 
This government that forces its desires on us pushes through with a messy sausage. Yikes. The imagery. Avert your eyes.

Anyway, what's in that bill? It's not about telling us what to eat? The linked article says it "will set national nutritional standards for public schools, boost funding for low-income meal programs and advance [Barack Obama's] wife’s campaign against childhood obesity." And in those "national nutritional standards," do the kids get s'mores or not? I don't know, but I see that as Obama signed the bill, he said:
“Not only am I very proud of the bill... but had I not been able to get this passed, I would be sleeping on the couch.”
Is it cool for the President to pose as pussy-whipped?

What do you think of Ron Reagan's "My Father at 100"?

I'm noticing this book because Instapundit did one of his "IN THE MAIL" posts that acknowledge the receipt of a free book but express no opinion. Sending one free book is a frightfully cheap way to buy publicity. I get free books, but I wouldn't post about them unless I took the time to form some kind of opinion about them, and sending me a free book is a frightfully cheap way to buy my time, the time it would take to form an opinion of a book.

But I don't even need to look beyond the author and title of Ron Reagan's "My Father at 100" to form an opinion. It annoys me. I've seen too much — not all that much — TV commentary by Ron Reagan to want to read a book he wrote about the iconic conservative President. Example:
Reagan: My father knew what he stood for, you can agree with it or disagree with it, he knew how -- what he stood for, he could explain what he stood for. He was conversant in domestic and foreign policy -- [Sarah Palin is] neither! She can't explain where she stands on anything!

Geller: Your father would love her, and frankly I don't think you can speak for your father, because you -- you don't even espouse --

Reagan: No, Pam, actually, have you ever met my father, Pam? Pam, did you ever meet my father?... Did you ever meet my father? I'm asking you a simple question. You can't answer that because the answer is no. So why don't you rely on someone who knew him very well to tell you what he would think of Sarah Palin.
Yes, the 100th anniversary of his birth is an occasion, an excuse, but the birthdayness of it also says: twaddle.

"Stalin vouches for renewable energy."

A headline.

"No, I wasn’t contacted or interviewed or given any opportunity to opine on any of it, including having my seven-year-old daughter’s picture in the paper."

"The primary story here is not that interesting... People lie and cheat and steal all the time. That’s a fact of life. But rarely does a national news organization give them an unverified megaphone to whitewash it."

Forbes interviews the husband of that woman who had her wedding story told in the New York Times. We talked about the NYT story yesterday, and (my husband) Meade, in the comments there, draws attention to the quotes that I'm using here.
[Bob Ennis, former husband of TV reporter Carol Anne Riddell], now head of the digital media practice at the investment bank Petsky Prunier, did not have a high opinion of the Times even before this incident. “I’m happy if they spell all the headlines on the front page correctly,” he says. “The idea that they’d fact-check a style story — I don’t think that’s incumbent on them. But there’s a difference between that and publishing a choreographed, self-serving piece of revisionist history for two people who are both members of the media industry.”
Oh! I love how this is turning into a Forbes vs. NYT journalism showdown — with the help of the jilted husband, who's got the help of Forbes now, getting his side of the marriage breakdown into the national press. 
Although his ex-wife said she and her new husband volunteered to tell their story to the “Vows” column partly “for our kids’ sakes,” Ennis says he is angry primarily because of the effect he sees this episode having on those same kids. 
Right. Don't forget the kids. Everyone is premising his/her self-serving statements on the kids now.
“These folks are well within their rights to tell whatever version of reality they want to tell, and if The New York Times is gullible enough to print it, that mostly reflects poorly on the Times,” he says. “The picture of my daughter is another matter. I sure as hell would have objected if they had told me they were going to print it.”
Which one is his daughter? Is it the sad-faced girl with the bow in her hair in profile at the right-hand side of the photograph? Look at her and think about how she might feel as she gazes at the brown wedding-cake about to be put asunder by the gleaming knife gripped by her outreaching mother whose hand is overclasped  by the (diamond?) ring-wearing paw of her new husband, the erst-while friend of her parents, whom she's long known as the dad of her kid-friends, who are now strangely intruded into the confusing, ever-changing zone that bears the label "family."

Or is his daughter the sweet little child in the husband's arms? Imagine how her father's heart aches to see that man with one hand grasping his daughter's rear and the other hand grasping his ex-wife's hand and, inside that, a knife. The new husband and wife are performing wedding theater for the NYT photographer, and they don't know that the frame the Times will select is the one where their smiles look like predatory grimaces and everyone else in the photograph looks like they belong at a funeral.
“Maybe The New York Times has forgotten, but New York can still be a dangerous town for children of wealthy people. I want to find out from the Times how that occurred and I will expect some sort of response and if I don’t get one I’ll take further measures to achieve one.”
Ugh, the stink of a threatened lawsuit drifts into the room. But don't worry: It's for the children.


And don't miss the extra photograph at the original NYT story. The woman's long-clawed hand drapes over the shoulder of her conquered beast, who seems drained of life force. His ring-wearing hand lies limply on the table next to a drained bottle of beer. In the original story, when he told her he loved her, she knocked a beer "into his lap" — that is, onto his genitals. The liquids have all spilled out, and the phallic symbols are empty.