February 13, 2010

At the Driving Through Indiana Hotel...

... we feel what really is.

Amy Bishop killed her brother back in 1986...

... with 3 blasts from a shotgun. And she was never charged with a crime.

If we could only look closely enough...

... would we sympathize with the mosquito?

I said: "If you meet the Buddha in the museum, stare at him."

And Chip said: "Now look, you get one warning and only one warning. Do NOT stare at the Buddha too long":

I'll just offer some more enchanting raw material, from the south Asian collection at the Art Institute:





ADDED: I didn't intend to refer to my own photographs as "enchanting," but I see — in the middle of the night, with the perspective of insomnia — that it looks like I did. It was the art that I wanted to call enchanting.

Leaving Chicago.

I stop to memorialize the botanical arrangements in the hotel's 2 lobbies:



Pic #1: 7th floor. Pic #2: ground floor.

Looking up from street level at the building we still call the Sears Tower, which was visible — from the 39th floor — along the right edge of the second picture in The Chicago Breakfast Café:


Meade took the wheel of the TT, and I tried taking pictures from the passenger seat. Unlike that time we drove home at night in the rain after the Dylan concert, the blur of movement didn't work too well. I had to wait for red lights, and I liked this one, with that onion dome:


ADDED: I'm not going to "still" call that the Sears Tower, since that was never the Sears Tower. That's the John Hancock Center — as several commenters, including, here, Jessica, have let me know.

"All I've ever wanted out of Althouse was a place to hang out with a bunch of cool people."

Yes, that's it. And we want to hang out with you.

"Something very important happened here."

That's the title of this picture in my Flickr photostream:

Something very important happened here

It was blogged as "Althouse on the road" a year ago:
Somewhere in America. In the heartland.
It's the Greyhouse Coffee & Supply Co. in West Lafayette — the site of the momentous second date of Althouse + Meade. We're here now, for our Valentine's Eve anniversary.


Beyond the edgy excitement, it's even more beautiful. Cozily married. A weekend in Indiana. Bliss!

"She began to talk about her problems getting tenure in a very forceful and animated way..."

"She seemed to be one of these persons who was just very open with her feelings. A very smart, intense person who had a variety of opinions on issues."

That was said about a woman who is now — apparently — in custody after shooting 3 of her faculty colleagues to death. Those statements sound like PR for murderers: They're forceful and intense and very open with their feelings. So expressive!

ADDED: 3 were killed:
Dr. Gopi Podila, biology department chair and professor of plant molecular biology and biotechnology; Dr. Maria Ragland Davis, professor of biotechnology and plant genomics; and Dr. Adriel Johnson, professor of physiology.
And 3 more were shot and survive:
Dr. Joseph Leahy, professor of microbiology, and Stephanie Monticciolo, department assistant, were in critical condition Friday night; Dr. Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera, professor of molecular biology, was stable. 
The woman charged with the crimes is Amy Bishop.

"Squishy mom" Angelina Jolie buys Brad Pitt an $18,500 tree.

Link for squishy mom.

Link for $18,000 tree.

Promises from Our President — migrated into the Tea Party.

Great opening for an op-ed — in the WSJ — by Glenn Reynolds.

February 12, 2010

Sculptural space.




(Art by Giacometti and Picasso, in the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.)

"Poll Finds Edge for Obama Over G.O.P. Among the Public."

This NYT headline reminds me of the trite riposte "It's better than a swift kick in the head."

At the Chicago Dusk Café...


... what happened to you a year ago?

Luger Nodar "Kumaritashvili struck the inside wall of the track on the final turn."

"His body went airborne and cleared the ice-coated concrete wall along the left side of the sliding surface. His sled remained in the track, and it appeared his helmet visor skidded down the ice."

Death shadows the opening of the Olympics.

ADDED: Here is the MSNBC video report, which includes repeated viewings of the accident and left me feeling that the track is not properly designed. The announcers keep speaking of sorrow and "heartbreak," but I think the word "outrage" is more appropriate. 

The paradox of "insisting" that words have no "fixed or stable set of meanings."

If you really believed what you are insisting, you wouldn't be insisting, you'd be, perhaps, entertaining a suggestion or toying with a notion or musing about the possibility, now wouldn't you?


And how can you inscribe a suggestion/notion/possibility like that on a big solid wall in a place called an "institute." It's the Art Institute of Chicago — the new Modern Wing — and when I voiced these thoughts (to Meade) the museum guard overheard, laughed, and nodded knowingly.

Here's a closeup of the artwork that supposedly expresses the fancy-schmancy idea that words have no fixed meaning:


You're not supposed to take video, but if this were video, you'd see that the words blink on and off. There is a tapping sound that corresponds to the rhythm of the blinks, and beyond the wall, in a dark room, there is a black-and-white video playing of a man tapping his feet from one side to the other along the sides of a square marked by tape on the floor. I decided the neon was the sign on the Store of Life, and the stepping, tapping man inside is the reality of what you get in that store — according to the artist (Bruce Nauman) who has not committed suicide, surprisingly.

The piece is called "Human Nature/Life Death."

At the Chicago Breakfast Café...

... I blog alongside the Great Lake...


... in the shadow of the Great Tower...


... but this is not our destination. This is a stopover on a Great Pilgrimage.

"It is all about male genitalia this week."

"Yesterday it was dick. Today it is balls."

Ah! A prod to post the next pic from last night's visit to the Art Institute:


An inane list of tips that will supposedly help those with the (inane?) goal of dating lawyers.

E.g., "Use Latin whenever possible. Lawyers feel warm and fuzzy when they hear Latin."

(Hey, did that "e.g." of mine warm your lawyer cockles?)

"A judge's race or gender makes for a dramatic difference in the outcome of cases they hear..."

The ABA Journal reports on 2 studies:
In federal racial harassment cases, one study found that plaintiffs lost just 54 percent of the time when the judge handling the case was an African-American. Yet plaintiffs lost 81 percent of the time when the judge was Hispanic, 79 percent when the judge was white, and 67 percent of the time when the judge was Asian American....

A second study, looked at 556 federal appellate cases involving allegations of sexual harassment or sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The finding: plaintiffs were at least twice as likely to win if a female judge was on the appellate panel....
More grist for the empathy/"wise Latina" conversation.

The best place in the world to live? They say it's France.

For the 5th year in a row. (The U.S. has dropped from 3th to 7th place.)

"You have to have a lot of balls to talk to a woman wearing my clothes."

Said the fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who has committed suicide, which may or may not take a lot of balls.

February 11, 2010

At the Great Man Nightclub...

... if you meet the Buddha in the museum...


...stare at him.

And if you should encounter Picasso...


... talk behind his back.

At the Thursday Café...


... get into your end-of-the-week attitude.

David Broder on Sarah Palin: "The lady is good."

"Those who want to stop her will need more ammunition than deriding her habit of writing on her hand."

And that band on her wrist.

I'm going to have to defend my fellow garbage pail kid, John Mayer.

I'm only noticing this story because a "Human Garbage" listmate asked me what John Mayer was doing there with us. So, let's look at what Mayer said:
Mayer, 32, told [a Playboy] interviewer: "Someone asked me the other day, 'What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?' And by the way, it's sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a n*gger pass."...
I think he's musing about whether it's fair for him to see himself as having earned credibility in the way that a black person would. That's deferential to black people. He's also using the N-word, which is never a good idea for a white person, but if really had a "hood pass," it might be an argument that he should be able to use the taboo word the way a black person can. By actually using the word, he's implicitly making that argument.

He goes on to say:
"What is being black?" He then answers himself: "It's making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that's seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you'll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude's."
That supports my interpretation of what he was trying to say. My point isn't that he should use the word, only that he didn't have a hateful reason for saying it. Substantively, he is sympathetic to black people and thoughtful. But form can eclipse substance. In short: Don't use the N-word, even to make an enlightened point about race. It's inflammatory, distracting, and likely to be taken the wrong way.

And then there's this:
When asked by the interviewer, "Do black women throw themselves at you?", Mayer responds: "I don't think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I've got a Benetton heart and a fuckin' David Duke cock. I'm going to start dating separately from my dick."
He's being outrageous there, but read, people. He's insulting his own penis! He's saying his penis is a big racist. That is, he's always gone out with white women, because he's been following his cock. Now, he's saying, he'd like to be more open-minded and have his heart take over. Let the cock be the follower now. He's trying to entertain Playboy readers, and that actually is funny.

Why not read and think first before attacking this man? Let your mind go first, not your... whatever you have instead of a dick that gives you a stupid instinct for racial excitement.

Now, Mayer tweets that he was wrong — about the N-word:
"I am sorry that I used the word. And it's a shame that I did because the point I was trying to make was the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualise using it, because I realise there's no intellectualising a word that is so emotionally charged."
It was arrogant — he's saying — to think other people would be intellectually sharp and interested in ideas. It's a bit of a nonapology. He's pretty close to saying: I'm sorry people are stupid. But obviously he knows what is obvious: The word is what it is because it transcends thought and stimulates emotion. The decision to use it is a decision to go for emotion. You can't really complain that people got distracted by the distraction you created.

Now, if you're really smart and you do it right — or maybe only if you're Lenny Bruce — you might find a way to use the very emotional distraction to leverage your way to a brilliant, enlightened, substantive statement about race. But Lenny Bruce wouldn't have tweeted an apology if he were misunderstood. He'd have said something else smart, not whined about how other people aren't smart enough to get him.

February 10, 2010

At the Ski Trail Café...



... follow us in here.

Bob Dylan at the White House: "The Times They Are A-Changin'."


The song choice was all but dictated by the theme of the event: Music from the Civil Rights Movement. The event will be on PBS tomorrow night, February 11 at 8 p.m. ET.

When did liberals start hating Arianna Huffington?

Hmm. This is surprising. She's up 12 in the ranking of "Human Garbage"? What's up with that? I thought she was some kind of liberal queen. Now, she's on a list with me.

Something emailed to me exactly 1 year ago.

Ah! The memories!
And A. felt herself released, in another world, she felt she breathed differently.  But still she was afraid of how many of her roots, perhaps mortal ones, were tangled with her blog.  Yet still, she breathed freer, a new phase was going to begin in her life.

Reader_iam also kept a cherishing eye on A., feeling she must extend to her her female and professional protection.  She was always urging her ladyprofessorship to walk out to a cafe, to motor over to Beaver Dam, to be in the air.  For A. had got into the habit of  sitting still by the laptop, pretending to read, or to make strawberry smoothies feebly, and hardly going out at all.

It was a blowy day, soon after the boys had gone back to Texas and California respectively, that reader_iam tweeted: 'Now why don't you go for a walk through the arb around the lake, and look at the daffs behind that new gardener's cottage?  They're the prettiest sight you'd see in a day's march.  And you could put some in your room:  wild daffs are always so cheerful-looking, aren't they?'

A. took it in good part, even daffs for daffodils.  Wild daffodils! After all, one could not stew in one's own juice.  The spring came back... 'Seasons return, but not to me returns Day, or the sweet approach of Ev'n or Morn.'

And the new gardener, his thin, white body, like a lonely pistil of an invisible flower!  She had forgotten him in her unspeakable depression.  But now something roused... 'Pale beyond porch and portal'... the thing to do was to pass the porches and the portals.

She was stronger, and with the injections in her toe she could walk better,  and in the arb the wind would not be so tiring as it was across the lake, flatten against her.  She wanted to forget, to forget the world wide web and all the dreadful, carrion-bodied people.  'Ye must be born again!  I believe in the resurrection of the body! Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it shall by no means bring forth.  When the crocus cometh forth I too will emerge and see the sun!'  In the wind of March endless phrases swept through her consciousness.

Little gust of sunshine blew, strangely bright, and lit up the celandines at the arb's edge, under the Sycamores, they spangled out bright and yellow.  And the arb was still, stiller, but yet gusty with crossing sun.  The first windflowers were out, and all the arb seemed pale with the pallor of endless little anemones, sprinkling the shaken floor.  'The world has grown pale with thy breath.'  But it was the breath of Persephone, this time; she was out of hell on a cold morning.  Cold breaths of wind came, and overhead there was an anger of entangled wind caught among the twigs.  It, too was caught and trying to tear itself free, the wind, like Absalom.  How cold the anemones looked, bobbing their naked white shoulders over crinoline skirts of green.  But they stood it.  A few first bleached little primroses too, by the path, and yellow buds unfolding themselves.

The roaring and swaying was overhead, only cold currents came down below.  A. was strangely excited in the wood, and the color flew in her cheeks, and burned blue in her eyes.  She walked ploddingly, picking a few primroses and the first violets, that smelled sweet and cold, sweet and cold.  And she drifted on without knowing where she was.

Til she came to the clearing, at the end of the arb, and saw the green-stained stone cottage, looking almost rosy, like the flesh underneath a mushroom, its stone warmed in a burst of sun.  And there was a sprinkle of yellow jasmine by the door;  the closed door.  But no sound, no smoke from the chimney, no dog barking.

She went quietly round to the back, where the bank rose up.  She had an excuse: to see the daffodils.

And they were there, the short-stemmed flowers, rustling and fluttering and shivering, so bright and alive, but with nowhere to hide their faces, as they turned them away from the wind.

They shook their bright, sunny little rags in bouts of distress.  But perhaps they liked it really:  perhaps they really liked the tossing.

A. sat down with her back to a young pine tree that swayed against her with curious life, elastic, and powerful, rising up.  The erect, alive thing, with it top in the sun!  And she watched the daffodils turn golden, in a burst of sun that was warm on her hands and lap.  Even she caught the faint, tarry scent of the flowers.  And then, being so still and alone, she seemed to get into the current of her own proper destiny.  She had been fastened by a rope, and jagging and snarring like a boat at its moorings, now she was loose and adrift.

The sunshine gave way to chill, the daffodils were in shadow, dipping silently.  So they would dip through the day and the long cold night. So strong in their frailty!

She rose, a little stiff, took a few daffodils, and went down.  She hated breaking the flowers, but she wanted just one or two to go with her.  She would have to go back to Bascom and its walls, and now she hated it, especially its thick walls.  Walls!  Always walls!  Yet one needed them in this wind.

When she returned to her office, reader_iam tweeted her: 'Where did you go?'

'Over to the arb for a walk!  Here, here I shall post a photo I took of the little daffodils, aren't they adorable?  To think they should come out of the earth!'

'Just as much out of air and sunshine,' garage mahal commented, peevishly.

'But modeled in the earth,' she retorted, with a prompt contradiction that surprised her a little.

The next afternoon she went to the arb again....
So that was going on back then, and it was manifested on the blog — the slightest hint — like this.

"Dubai court annuls marriage to 'bearded lady.'"

What's under that veil may not be what you'd hoped for.

"I just think the idea that she doesn't believe in global warming is bizarre..."

"... we just kind of have to walk around the world at this point and look at what is happening to nature and earthquakes and tsunamis."

Here's a tip: When you want to call somebody dumb, try not to say anything dumb.

Now, Eve Ensler, to make up for your embarrassing derision, you can "walk around the world." Make sure to take a running leap when you get to the oceans.

And newspaper articles are too damned long.

Says Michael Kinsley in an article in The Atlantic which he sure as hell better not expand into a book.

(Thanks to Freeman Hunt for linking to that in the comments section of the post about books that are inflated versions of articles that ran in The Atlantic.)

Kinsley says:
Take, for example, the lead story in The New York Times on Sunday, November 8, 2009, headlined “Sweeping Health Care Plan Passes House.” There is nothing special about this article. November 8 is just the day I happened to need an example for this column. And there it was. The 1,456-word report begins:
 Handing President Obama a hard-fought victory, the House narrowly approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system on Saturday night, advancing legislation that Democrats said could stand as their defining social policy achievement.
Fewer than half the words in this opening sentence are devoted to saying what happened. If someone saw you reading the paper and asked, “So what’s going on?,” you would not likely begin by saying that President Obama had won a hard-fought victory. You would say, “The House passed health-care reform last night.” And maybe, “It was a close vote.” And just possibly, “There was a kerfuffle about abortion.” You would not likely refer to “a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system,” as if your friend was unaware that health-care reform was going on. Nor would you feel the need to inform your friend first thing that unnamed Democrats were bragging about what a big deal this is—an unsurprising development if ever there was one.
Oh! That should hurt. It's not just padded. It's padded with cheerleading for the Democrats. No wonder we feel such revulsion.

"Books which are... extended versions of articles written for The Atlantic, The Public Interest or what have you are especially likely to be over-long for their topic..."

"...  don’t remember ever reading one of these books and feeling that I got substantial insights which were unavailable in the original article (in some cases it might have been useful to have a better sourced and slightly better fleshed out version of the original piece available somewhere, perhaps half the length again of the original piece, but there doesn’t appear to be a market for that)."

Wow. Does that ever resonate with me! I just paid $25+ for a 300+-page book that was an expansion of an article from The Atlantic. I did that for a Bloggingheads diavlog, and — you'll see when it's up — the author scolded me for skimming. Did that open the door for me to scold her for padding? Readers and writers — we all have our tactics and must guard our own interests. You pad. I skim. Or I take a look in the bookstore and put that thing right back on the pile. Unless I'm scheduled for a diavlog. In which case, I tough it out. Up to a point. Then I just scream. On my blog.

Candy-loving kid = future drunk.

Scientist = killjoy.

Crying Haitians spliced with bellowing pop stars...

... heartrending outreach or charity porn?

What makes somebody an expert "bioethicist" — other than a "willingness to issue life-and-death pronouncements involving other people"?

Who are these people?

Movie star is confronted by a printout from the airport scanner that showed his genitalia.

And he autographs it.
“I was in London recently going through the airport and these new machines have come up, the body scans. You’ve got to see them. It makes you embarrassed – if you’re not well endowed,” said [Indian actor Shahrukh] Khan....
On the downside: Airport personnel are going to be looking at all of us naked and will have the power — if they choose to violate official policy — to print out pictures that could be distributed and displayed anywhere. On the upside: Shahrukh Khan is well endowed.

Stealing that joke about shoplifting?

Sorry that joke was lying on the sidewalk, there for anyone with a sharp eye to pick it up. The first person to blurt it out on Twitter doesn't get to attach his name to it. Not guilty.

February 9, 2010

At the Comedy Club...


... oh, lord, I need to laugh!

"How Your Pet’s Diet Threatens Your Marriage, and Why It’s Bush’s Fault."

That seems to be the new "Lincoln's Doctor's Dog."

"Miss me yet?"

A billboard out in Minnesota, in a place called Wyoming...

I've been saying "I miss Bush" for a while. Here, I said it in a post at the end of the year. And at least one commenter said it a year ago:
Patm said...

I miss Bush. He never said the time for talk was over.

2/10/09 4:26 PM
Ha! What a funny context. Patm was responding to this, from me:
Barack Obama says:
We’ve had a good debate, but the time for talking is over.
You hear that? Shut up!
That goes so deliciously well with the top story of the last couple days: Obama wanting to hold a summit with the Republicans over exactly the subject about which — a year ago — the time for talk was over.

Sometimes it's too late, and then, after that, it's morning again....

"If you make sure that nothing bad ever happens to you..."

"... you'll also make sure nothing really good ever happens to you either."

Why do people go to cafés to sit alone and work on their laptops?

To be with other people.

Health care summit update: Boehner & Cantor respond to Obama and Gibbs to Boehner & Cantor.

Boehner (and Cantor) said:
[L]ast May, Republicans asked President Obama to hold bipartisan discussions on health care in an attempt to find common ground, but he declined and instead chose to work with only Democrats....

Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward on health care in a bipartisan way, does that mean he will agree to start over so that we can develop a bill that is truly worthy of the support and confidence of the American people?...

Will the President include in this discussion congressional Democrats who have opposed the House and Senate health care bills?...

Will the President be inviting officials and lawmakers from the states to participate in this discussion?...

Will the President require that any and all future health care discussions, including those held on Capitol Hill, meet this common-sense standard of openness and transparency?

Your answers to these critical questions will help determine whether this will be a truly open, bipartisan discussion or merely an intramural exercise before Democrats attempt to jam through a job-killing health care bill that the American people can’t afford and don’t support.  ‘Bipartisanship’ is not writing proposals of your own behind closed doors, then unveiling them and demanding Republican support.  Bipartisan ends require bipartisan means....

Gibbs responded:
That wasn't meant to be a joke. It just turned out that way. I edited the Boehner/Cantor letter down as I read it and saw that it was a series of questions, so I started reading Gibbs's letter with the idea of editing it down to the parts that responded to the questions. You see what happened.

February 8, 2010

"The View" women — joined by Meghan McCain — trash Sarah Palin and Tom Tancredo.

The smugness and condescension of these women is irritating as hell, but please watch, so we can talk about this:

There's no balance, with Meghan McCain in lieu of Elisabeth Hasselbeck. McCain is way too eager to win the love of liberals. She says:
Congressman Tancredo went on TV, and he was the first opening speaker, and he said, "People who could not even spell the word 'vote' or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House whose name is Barack Hussein Obama." And then he went on to say that people at the convention should have to pass literacy tests in order to be able to vote in this country, which is the same thing that happened in the 50s to prevent African-Americans from voting. It's innate racism, and I think it's why young people are turned off by this movement. And I'm sorry, but revolutions start with young people, not with 65-year-old people talking about literacy tests and people who can't say the word 'vote' in English.
Now, the funny thing to me about that is, if you think racism is bad, you should also reject the idea that ideas are inborn. And you should reject categorizing people by groups like young and old. People are individuals, and they are what they develop into as they live and act in this world, not what was programmed into their genes. Maybe McCain doesn't know the meaning of the word "innate." Maybe she meant something like "ingrained." She's borderline incoherent, and that's almost as annoying as her need for liberal love (which she's not going to get!).

And, by the way, I think it was foolish of Tancredo to bring up literacy tests. They were used in some parts of the country in the past to keep black people (and poor white people) from voting. There are better ways to say that people were dumb/uninformed, and that's why they voted for Obama, if that's what Tancredo meant to say. Maybe he did intend to resonate with racism, or he has fond feelings about the bad old days. Who knows? In any case, in complaining about people being dumb, he was dumb. Whether he's also suffering from racism is another matter. But if he is, it's not innate racism — which makes him more responsible for it, not less.

John Murtha has died...

... and the Democrats must again fight for their political power in another special election.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Video of her entire speech and Q&A at the University of Wisconsin last week.

IN THE COMMENTS: Chip Ahoy said:
Great reception. She was reading form cards! CARDS! That proves she doesn't know what she's talking about, and LOOK! Now, there's this:

"We need a Commander in Chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern."

Look at her, sneering at law professors!

Ha ha. I enjoyed Sarah Palin's contempt there. (And good for her, saying "lectern," instead of, like most lawprofs I've heard, "podium.") She's not contemptuous of law professors, generally. Just law professors out of place.

And that's kind of the way I feel about Sarah Palin. The question is: What is the right place for her? I think she does really well observing national politics, commenting, critiquing, and campaigning. Campaigning for others, though, I think. In office, maybe she's as out of place as a professor of law posing as Commander in Chief.

There are so many levels to that "green police" Audi green car ad.

Some people think this Audi ad was the best of the Super Bowl ads. It's the one we had the longest conversation about:

At the time I said: How is that supposed to be an ad for the car? It's an ad against environmentalists. Doesn't that make people want to get a big old SUV?

I guess the ad is for more timid, appeasing types. They're thinking: Everybody's always on my case about ridiculous environmental crap. If I drive an obviously green car, it will establish my good standing in the community as a fellow environmentalist and then I can be free — in private — to enjoy my incandescent light, hot tub, etc. etc.

So the Audi A3 TDI... it's the green car for people who care not about the environment but about what other people think of them. Except they've seen the commercial too, and maybe they think you're driving that car because you like mocking them.

Or maybe they are a step ahead and they're laughing because they love the success of roping people — people who actually hate them — into their agenda.

But the guy that hates them can be thinking: Ha! You know I'm saying I hate you and you know you have to act like you love it.

Ad infinitum.

Men need pants.

That's the message I got from the Super Bowl.
 Super Bowl advertisements were a little bit bolder, a lot weirder and definitely featured more pantsless men than previous years. Pantsless men in the workplace. Pantsless men striding purposefully down fields of gold. Pantsless men facing sumo wrestlers.

Viewers can draw what they want from that trend, but we're declaring it a metaphor for the economy. The jobless rate is so high, even trousers aren't a guarantee in life anymore.
No. No. I'm saying it's about masculinity. Like most ads directed at men. You know how I've been railing for years about men in shorts? Here's my original men in shorts post. Key point: "shorts are children's clothes." Here's the second. Key point: "If you are in shorts, you are not a man." Note: I made some exceptions. I had an anecdote:
I recently attended a talk led by a male lawprof who wore shorts (with a T-shirt and sandals). He stood up too, putting his boy-clothes on full display.
Tom Wolfe said it better:
[The professor] had on a short-sleeved shirt that showed too much of his skinny, hairy arms, and denim shorts that showed too much of this gnarly, hairy legs. He looked for all the world like a seven-year-old who at the touch of a wand had become old, tall, bald on top, and hairy everywhere else, an ossified seven-year-old, a pair of eyeglasses with lenses thick as ice pushed up to the summit of his forehead -- unaccountably addressing thirty college students....
So I appreciated the ad that ended: "Calling all men: It's time to wear the pants."

I was all: Yes! Men need pants! I've been saying it for years. (And here's that other pantsless ad... and it's not even an ad for pants.)

Read my... hand.

We'll be looking at her hand forever. She caught us in that hand.

Your assignment today is to practice the expressions in English that use the word "hand" and to make all the snarky comments about Sarah Palin's hand.

Or here, maybe you can do something with this "Seinfeld" dialogue:
Jerry: I know, you told me you like her, everything is going good.

George: No everything is not going good. I'm very uncomfortable. I have no power. I mean, why should she have the upper hand. Once in my life I would like the upper hand. I have no hand-- no hand at all. She has the hand; I have no hand. How do I get the hand?

Jerry: We all want the hand. Hand is tough to get. You gotta get the hand right from the opening.


GEORGE: Jerry, let me tell you something, "A man without hand is not a man." I got so much hand I'm coming out of my gloves.


NOEL: I ... am breaking up ... with you!

GEORGE: You can't break up with me. I've got hand.

NOEL: And you're going to need it.
That's my favorite "Seinfeld" episode, by the way. And Noel's final line is ... unbeatable.

And: Talk to the hand.

"What I'd like to do is have a meeting whereby I'm sitting with the Republicans, sitting with the Democrats, sitting with healthcare experts, and let's just go through these bills..."

"... in a methodical way so that the American people can see and compare what makes the most sense."

President Obama is now trying to do what the Democrats had said they were going to do and didn't do.
For months, the president has endured criticism that he reneged on a promise to televise healthcare negotiations on C-SPAN. By opening up the summit to the cameras, Obama can argue he is making good on that commitment at a crucial point in the process.
You want to resort to an approach that you promised but avoided when you thought you could get away with it? To say that's the same as keeping the promise is like saying you're not a thief after you try to shoplift and then offer to pay when you get caught.

But if it was a good idea to televise negotiations once, it might be a good idea now. It would test the Republicans' assertion that although the current bills are bad, reform is needed.
[T]he summit gives the president a chance to paint Republicans as obstructionists who refuse offers of compromise. If that's how the event is perceived, it could pay off for Democrats in the November midterm elections.
Or the event could be perceived as a political tactic, which is what it is. The Republicans could participate, but only in order to make their own strong offer. Let the GOP say exactly what the GOP position would be if it had the majority power. Think of it as a debate for the fall election. Defend that plan and critique the Democrats' plan. Put the choice before the people, so we can think about which party it wants to put in power in the fall. It should be: Decision 2010 time. Not: Come on, we're on TV, now compromise.
Republicans said Sunday that they are prepared to participate in the summit, but would like a White House commitment to start from scratch.
That's the way to get out of the TV show altogether. A good parry.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said: "We always appreciate the opportunity to share ideas with the president, particularly on an issue where Americans have spoken so clearly. If we are to reach a bipartisan consensus, the White House can start by shelving the current health spending bill."
Oh, let's share ideas. An amusing/infuriating way to put it.
But starting fresh is not part of the White House plan.
In an interview Sunday night, a White House official said, "The Republicans are going to interpret this as we're starting over. We're not starting over. We're coming in with our plan. They're welcome to come in with whatever plan they'd like. But we're moving forward."
Healthcare reform is a big, overloaded truck — currently stalled — the Democrats intend to drive in a direction they like to think of as "forward." The Democrats' idea is that the Republicans can take a couple little things off the truck and then give them a jump start. But if the Republicans' plan is to go in a different direction — preferably in a Smart Car — how does the truck start moving again?

February 7, 2010

How do we feel about The Who at the Super Bowl?


This is a music act from 40+ years ago. Imagine if in the first Super Bowl, in 1967, the half-time show featured musicians who peaked in 1927. No. It's not imaginable. The strange dominance of My Generation is unfathomable. I hope I die before I get old. Ah ha ha ha. That was just something we said to throw everyone — even ourselves — off the track. We meant to take our stand and dominate as long as we possibly could.

Smile and grin at the change all around... pick up my guitar and play... just like yesterday....

How terribly, terribly strange. I've loved The Who since I first heard "I Can't Explain" on the radio. I was 14. Loved them so much I joined their fan club before their first album was even released in the United States. I'll always love the 60s Who. Even though I got tired of what they were in the 70s, I'm happy to see them still playing now. Pete Townshend is 65. It's cool that he can rotate his arm all around like that, let alone actually pick up his guitar and play. Just like yesterday. The Who, now a duet, takes the gigantic stage.

Ah! I'm getting old. Why don't we all fade away?

IN THE COMMENTS: TheGiantPeach said:
Actually, in 1967, if they had hit on the concept of half-time entertainment that went beyond marching bands, they could very well have featured Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, who were popular 40 years earlier.

In fact, two of the early Super Bowls to feature performers were tributes to Armstrong and Ellington in the year after their deaths. 

At the Superb Owl Tavern ...

... you can watch the big game and talk about it all you want.

(Posted in response to a specific request by Trooper York. The photograph of the superb owl is by left-hand.)

Sarah Palin has had us in the palm of her hand all day.

Isn't it funny how she caught our attention with her scrawled-on hand? I picture her — hanging out with Todd today — laughing at how absurdly fascinated everyone is with her.

Hey, Palin fans! Here's an idea: Ink a list of 4 items on your left hand with the second one crossed out. Take a photo of it and link to it here.

Variation: Make up a list of 4 items with the second one crossed out for some other person's hand, for example for Barack Obama or Harry Reid or Andrew Sullivan or ... anybody. This too can be done as a photograph.

Come on. It'll be fun.

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian delves into my Flickr-stream and finds this:


AND: Palladian also says "Obama doesn't solely rely on his teleprompter friends..."

"... as you can see in this digitally-enhanced enlargement":

At the Show-Your-Face Café...


... it would be cool if people who read and never (or almost never) comment would introduce themselves  and tell us something, like why they don't like to join the conversation. This includes people who used to comment and don't comment anymore, including at least one dear commenter whose absence is making us worry that something has happened to him.

Oh! The Climategate professor is sad!


"I don't see you any longer as ... my Magical Other to rescue me from the challenges of life..."

Interesting... and it's not about Barack Obama.

What Sarah Palin had written on her hand: "Energy", "Tax," and "Lift American Spirits."

Is that a "cheat sheet" or "crib notes"? It might be a little silly to have writing on your hand, and it's definitely awkward to look at your hand in the middle of answering a question, but those few words could hardly be of much help if you actually don't know what you are talking about.

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan discerns the hard-to-see 4th item on the hand-list and posits a theory:
My favorite detail is "[Budget] Cuts". Which just about sums up the real Tea Party agenda on spending. But it also suggests that she was told in advance of the questions she would be asked, one of which was what would be you priorities if you were elected president? Now think about this: she had to write on her hand her priorities as president.
Well, she had "budget" crossed out, so if that sums it the Tea Party agenda, she doesn't share it. "Cuts" is still there, so it makes a lot more sense to assume it goes with "tax," as in: tax cuts. But what the hell? Make stuff up. Like the theory that she was told "the questions" in advance. And she had the answer to one question written on her hand? Of course, she had the words on her hand for some reason. I think the most obvious theory is that these were themes she could always find a way to, whatever the question. When in doubt, bring it around to your specialty, energy, go with the main theme tax cuts, or fall back on lifting America's spirits — some of that good old Morning-in-America/Hope-and-Change inspiration that people lap up so gratefully.

Birthers ought to worry about Sarah Palin wearing an Israeli flag pin.

I'm reading about the the Tea Party convention, and I see that Sarah Palin wore "a small pin with two flags — for Israel and the United States." Meanwhile, some tea partiers are concerned that maybe Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

If Obama was born in Kenya — and I don't think he was — it would have nothing to do with the reasons why the Constitution requires the President to be a natural-born citizen, which is that we need an extra-strong safeguard against a President with a secret allegiance to a foreign state.

Wearing a foreign country's flag is more troubling than the geographical location of one's (American) mother at the time she gave birth. Presumably, Palin's pin, showing the 2 flags together, is meant to symbolize the alliance between America and Israel, but it seems to put the 2 countries at the same level. I think she should wear the American flag alone.

Am I questioning Sarah Palin's patriotism? Sure! I want questions about patriotism asked of anyone who runs for President or who, like her, might run. I support the constitutional principle that we need to safeguard against the calamity of a President with a secret allegiance to a foreign power.

We should have delved into Barack Obama's background and questioned him far more back in 2008. And I don't mean the possibility of a technical disqualification from the presidency. Where his mother was at the time of his birth has very little to do with anything that really matters. I'm more concerned with his mother's lack of connection to America and what she may have conveyed to him as he was growing up than her global positioning on the day he was born. Why did she marry 2 non-Americans?

I'm concerned with all the things about him that suggest a lack of devotion to America. His father was not American. His stepfather was not American. He spent formative years living in Indonesia. In adulthood, he chose to attend a church that featured sermons that harshly criticized America. Some of the people he associated with were rabidly anti-American. Campaigning for President, he gave a big  speech — and was hailed — in Berlin. He seemed to want a transnational image. He made statements apologizing for America and rejecting America's unique leadership in the world. He didn't wear a flag pin. There was an issue about whether he failed to salute the flag. Why didn't those things trouble us more?

But we voted. We made our big leap of faith. I voted for him too. He's running for reelection in 2012, one must assume. We should continue to look at these things and to add to the list. There's that bowing to foreign leaders, for example. We can look at what he's done and how well he's demonstrated his dedication to the United States. That's a continual process. But this birther business? This idea that he might be formally, technically disqualified? If it ever made any sense to go in that direction, it is now just plain too late. Look at the substance of how well he is serving American interests. He is earning or losing our trust every day, and it is absolutely right to talk about that.

And it is absolutely right to talk about the patriotism of anyone who would run for President.

Female Washington Post reporter is impressed that Sarah Palin isn't fat.

I mean, I think it's a female reporter that I'm about to tweak, but here's the text at the WaPo blog called 44 Politics and Policy in Obama's Washington:
Sarah Palin watch: She looks trim, fit -- and brimming with energy and plans
By Ann Gerhart

It had been a while since we had seen Sarah Palin live and in person. And then she popped onto stage Saturday night at the National Tea Party convention in Nashville, and we made these observations:

1) She's lost a lot of weight, perhaps 15 pounds. She looked trim and firm, like she's hoisting the barbells or maybe chopping wood. Her chair at the head table was empty; if she had the shrimp and filet mignon served to attendees, she ate in her hotel room.

2) She wore a fitted black suit, black hose and high black platform heels. She had on three opera-length strands of pearls, two white and one multi-colored. In her lapel, a small pin with two flags -- for Israel and the United States.

3) She was animated and full of energy, so much so that she kept knocking her microphone with her hand as she made her points. Hope the Texans are ready for her when she campaigns Sunday for Gov. Rick Perry. She certainly looks like a woman who has some plans.

By Denny McAuliffe | February 7, 2010; 12:08 AM ET
So who wrote it? Ann Gerhart or Denny McAuliffe? I'm trying to decide what I think about this discussion of how Sarah Palin looks. Would a male politician get such a detailed description? I doubt it. On the other hand, a male politician wouldn't be likely to be wearing anything as detailed as "three opera-length strands of pearls, two white and one multi-colored." But a woman's necklace is no more significant than a man's tie, is it? I guess "black hose and high black platform heels" is pretty interesting. It interested me enough to screen-grab a close-up from the cool pic Glenn Reynolds took:

And I do think we'd talk about a male candidate wearing 2 flag pins. I do not like to see an American politician wearing the flag of a foreign country. I'm going to write a separate post about that.

But what about this talk of Sarah Palin's body? It's called "trim, fit" in the headline and "trim and firm" in the text of the post. There's a difference between "fit" and "firm," no? Interestingly, both words can describe both a body and a person's character. SP may be "fit" for office and "firm" in her opinions. Would we talk about a male politician that way? Would we cattily drop the info that his weight had previously been up 15 pounds? Speculates about the fitness routine — "hoisting the barbells or maybe chopping wood" — Ann/Denny seems able to peek under SP's clothes. Yes, it was a "fitted black suit," but how do they know how muscular her body is? And why do they want to share that opinion with us?