April 3, 2010

Got my iPad!

Down at the Apple Store in the West Towne Mall in Madison, Wisconsin. Things were hopping:


That's "Specialist" Chuck Sholdt handing over the goods. He recognized me and said he "felt like [he was] in the presence of royalty." He recognized Meade too — said he'd read all about him.

Back home now, in my favorite reading position...


UPDATE: I'm typing this on the keyboard. I do think I could use this to blog, something I can't do on the iPhone (without a great deal of trouble).

UPDATE2: I bought the iPad app Pages to do word processing and I just plain cannot get it to work. It seems that there should be a toolbar, but I can't get one to display, so I'm at a dead end. Any ideas? AND: I turned it upright, out of landscape mode, and that worked. AND: I wish I could figure out how to get iDisk documents into the Pages App. (And I really am trying to find the answer in various "help" pages. It's especially frustrating because "pages" isn't a distinctive word.)

UPDATE3: Apple confirms that you can't get your iDisk documents into Pages.

"Scozzafava writing election memoir."

I guess she hasn't had enough of being a butt of jokes.
"I have been kind of putting pieces together, yes, just, I think, more so for me, just to kind of go back and recall different moments, and I had jotted down certain occasions and I've got a whole calendar of events, and I'm kind of thinking about it again," said Scozzafava.

She doesn't yet have a title for the book.
Oh? Maybe we can help!

"On Good Friday, Dagwood makes the risen Christ weep with his horrifying rabbit fursuit."

"85 percent of the people in the 'furfans' and 'Blondie fans' Venn diagram overlap are now writing clarifying letters to King Features, emphasizing that Dagwood was not the character they wanted to see dressed in a sexy bunny outfit."

Bonus at the link: "Oh, your husband’s a terrible lout, is he? If you ever need a sympathetic ear, I’m here for you … listening … nodding thoughtfully … drinking your pain, your darkest emotional pain, like the sweet, sweet divine nectar that it is … oh, God, tell me, tell me, TELL ME…"

Obama bypasses the biracial option on the census form.

Even though "he could have checked white, checked both black and white, or checked the last category on the form, 'some other race,' which he would then have been asked to identify in writing." In the last census, in 2000, 6.8 million Americans opted to present themselves as bi- or multi-racial. Presumably, a lot more people will do that in 2010. Why didn't Obama?

The census form, we should see, extracts an opinion about race from us. And what do we think of the opinion of the President who, some of us thought, would move us into a new era of race?

My first thought was that he disrespected his mother and maternal grandparents, who contributed so much more to his upbringing than his father ever did. My second thought was that his experiences in society, including his rise into vast political power, had so much to do with being perceived as black (and not white). My third thought was that he wants to preserve his designation as The First Black President. He's into himself as a historical figure, and First Mixed Race President doesn't have the same cachet — and there'd be all those pesky arguments about whether he was the first. Out on the internet, I'm seeing claims that various former Presidents — Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge — had a mixed racial ancestry. I can see not wanting to get bogged down in that.

"Live Blogging the iPad’s Big Day."

From the long lines at the NYC store(s).

I expect to just drop by the West Towne Apple store and pick mine up easily. We'll see how different Madison is from New York.

UPDATE: Am I pathetic to have searched Twitter to find out about the line at West Towne Mall? And here. I found a picture. I'm not the type to wait outside before the store opens, and since others are, I allow a little time for the door-crasher bulge to process.

UPDATE 2: I got it! A manageable line:


There's a big epidemic, no, not of sex addiction...

... but of wives deciding their husbands are sex addicts who must get treatment.
I’ve been a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist for 30 years.... But until about three years ago no one ever came in claiming to be a sex addict, or saying that his partner told him he was one....

I don’t treat sex addiction. The concept is superficial. It isn’t clearly defined or clinically validated, and it’s completely pathology-oriented. It presents no healthy model of non-monogamy, pornography use, or stuff like S/M. Some programs eliminate masturbation, which is inhumane, naïve, and crazy....
Oh, I observe people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and a few other exotic states. That accounts for some of what laypeople call “sex addiction.”

What I mostly see instead of “sex addicts” is people who are neurotic or narcissistic....
Thanks to regular commenter Julius Ray Hoffman, for sending me that link.

Read the whole post by Dr. Marty Klein. It's pretty funny, these men sent in by their wives to get treatment, after learning from their wives that "either I’m a sex addict and I couldn’t help it and I need treatment, or I’m just a selfish bastard and she wants a divorce."

How come so many women have gotten the idea they can diagnose this ailment? It's easy to figure out that wives grasp at the idea of addiction instead of facing the pain of rejection and betrayal, but why the big change in the last 3 years? There are people — not Dr. Klein — who make money in the addiction treatment racket, and they've managed to get their pitch out to the public, but how and why now? Some "Oprah" show?

I looked back into my blog archives to see what relevant things started 3 years ago. In 2007, there was the Larry Craig story. That got processed as "sex addiction" to some extent. In 2008, there was the Eliot Spitzer thing. Hmm. I wonder why something so inherently unbelievable gained traction when politicians were using it. It's testimony to the strong appeal of the sex addiction theory of marital infidelity that women bought it when they heard it from such low-credibility sources.


Is "sex addiction" one of these things that's going to be treated under the new health care regime, even as Medicare patients are given pain pills in lieu of hip replacements and heart valves?

ADDED: Why aren't wives more worried about treatment for sex addiction? You want the man to be "sexually addicted" to you. How would health workers remove the part of his sexuality that's goes toward other women and leave the part that goes to you? Even assuming this is a disease, the cure seems dangerous, unless you want a desexualized husband.

"Could Coach be more of a douchebag? Seriously."

"Voting for a third person when you know that two people are targeted is the same as voting out the person with whom you were allegedly allied. It doesn't help him at all because he knows he can't trust Russell, and therefore he had to, had to get rid of him here."

In the "Heroes and Villains" season of "Survivor," the contestants were out filming when the previous season was on TV, so they didn't know what Russell had done to distinguish himself as a villain. Boston Rob, in his exit interview, said: "... I realized that 20 seasons in, you have 10 people that are considered the most villainous to ever play the game, and here’s a guy from the most recent season, so he had to do something so outlandish to get picked over all those other contestants." The other contestants may not have done as well in figuring out whether to trust Russell over Rob.

Rob on Coach:
Coach really wants to play with honor and integrity, and at the end of the day, he has the opportunity to do that and chooses another path. But that’s on him.

Coach actually appeared to take the easiest path possible in not voting for you, yet casting a vote that he knew ensured you going home. That seems like he was almost trying to not own up to his decision.

I think he’s a guy that was conflicted and he didn’t have it in him to do the right thing in this situation. So, it’s bad for me because it makes me go home, but he’s the one who has to live with it.
And what does Jeff Probst have to say about it? He's been Coach's biggest fan:
I love Coach. Always loved Coach. I still want to develop a show centered around “Tales of The Dragon Slayer.” But right now The Dragon Slayer is depressed. He’s lost his way. As much as he wants to live by a code, he finds himself trapped in a corner on a game called Survivor and there appears no way out. If this were a movie, this would be the end of Act II when all seems lost. Is it? Or can he rise up from the ashes and be reborn yet again?
On Rob's saying to Coach, after the vote, "You’re a little man":
I love how Rob went out. He didn’t pretend it didn’t matter, he didn’t say “good luck”, he simply said what was on his mind, the subtext of which was clear: Coach, you suck.
Coach. Coach. Coach. I too am a bit dismayed. I will need time to sort through this emotionally. I will certainly need more therapy to help me understand and try to forgive.

The difference between women...

... and girls.

"You're as cute as me. You are. In some cultures, maybe cuter."

Socks — with skirts — are a big fashion trend... but we're told not to wear them if we're over 30:
First of all, don’t even try this at home if you’re over 30; this is very much a girl’s game - and a girl with great pins, at that.
Over 30!

Well, too bad, I'm nearly twice the limit, and I've been relying on socks for nearly the length of time it would take a newborn baby to reach the limit, and nothing can stop me. But I get the point: You can do what you want, but it's not the fashion trend unless you're young enough to be entitled to believe without derangement that you're really cute.


Does this — Helena Bonham Carter, age 43 — seem deranged?

Can I wear these...


... when I'm over 50 and I'm operating in my law professor capacity?


Bonus movie dialogue:
Romy: I can't believe how cute I look.

Michele: I know!

Romy: You know what? This is, like, the cutest we've ever looked.

Michele: Oh, it's definitely the cutest.

Romy: Don't you love how we can say that to each other... and know we're not being conceited?

Michele: Oh, I know. No, we're just being honest.


Michele: Yeah, I let you have the ideas... so you won't feel bad that I'm cuter.

Romy: You are not cuter, Michele.

Michele: I am so cuter. It's, like, common knowledge, Romy. Everybody thinks so. I'm the Mary and you're the Rhoda.

Romy: That's Ridiculous. You're the Rhoda. You're the Jewish one.

Michele: Oh, my God. I'm talking about cuteness-wise, okay? And cuteness-wise, I'm the Mary.

Romy: That's crazy! You have absolutely no proof that you're cuter!


Michele: I can't stand that we're mad at each other. Okay, I'm sorry I said all those things. You're as cute as me. You are. In some cultures, maybe cuter.

April 2, 2010

"They want 'blow jobs' first. Then you have to be on good behavior for a bit or be willing to deal, and then you get access."

A White House reporter grouses about what one has to do to get the kind of access to that will enable you to write the book about Obama that the White House reporters are all trying to write.

"The loser lettuces..."

"... romaine and — dare I suggest it — iceberg."

"[S]omething the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka."

"It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth... no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote."

Cory Doctorow parlays a William Gibson quote
— defining the consumer — in service of his argument against buying an iPad. Me, I've reserved an iPad for pick-up tomorrow. But then "Apple's model customer is that same stupid stereotype of a technophobic, timid, scatterbrained mother as appears in a billion renditions of 'that's too complicated for my mom'...."

Now, now, you boys. Moms may not care about fiddling with the inner workings of technological devices, but that doesn't mean we're not mentally sharp. And — mom-o-phobia aside for a second —  in general, smart people are not interested in paying attention to computer stuff. We just want tools to get to and engage in the things we're interested in. Maybe, you're missing that because computers happen to be one of the things you're interested in.


Cleaver retracts.

"Ten Most Cited Female Faculty 2005-2009."

A special list, because the "Ten Most Cited Faculty 2005-2009" is 100% male.

(Via Orin Kerr.)

A Congressman who doesn't know much about the Constitution.

Or YouTube.

"When you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, it's pretty apparent, but keep in mind that there have been periods in American history where this kind of vitriol comes out."

"It happens often when you've got an economy that is making people more anxious, and people are feeling that there's a lot of change that needs to take place. But that's not the vast majority of Americans. But that's not the vast majority of Americans."

So said Obama today, being characteristically understanding in that patronizing way we've seen before. We all remember the "bitter clingers" remark:
"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them... And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Obama understands why you feel those negative emotions. The actual ideas you express don't really matter. They are to be disregarded — they're the things you say when you get mad or depressed, because of all the problems — problems that he aims to solve, in his way, for your sake, because he knows better. Now, if you would please, quiet down, and let him get on with the work of giving you what you need.

ADDED:  Funny for Obama of all people to be musing about that "feeling that there's a lot of change that needs to take place." You know, a politician might come along and leverage a presidential campaign on an amorphous emotion like that.

Sign at a rest stop somewhere along I-80 in Nebraska.


I laughed the most I have ever laughed in Nebraska. And now Nebraska is on my Top 20 list of States Where I have Laughed the Most.

Who are the Mobys?

I think that lately the comments section of this blog has been attracting a lot Mobys. Yesterday, I called attention to a commenter who wrote something outrageous (and actually funny, if you recognize it as fake). A very high-traffic blog had exposed me to criticism for having that in my comments, and a commenter over there suggested it was a "false flag operation," and linked to a post by SEK over at Lawyers, Guns, & Money, that begins: "I went over to Althouse’s and wrote a number of insanely offensive comments, but everyone started agreeing with me before I could declare 'April Fools'!" Now, I already thought I was dealing with a Moby, and here was SEK, apparently, bragging about being a Moby. So I threw him a link and quoted him. He then showed up in my comments and said:
Dear Ann,

I didn't write any of those comments. You just got fooled twice over by your own racist and misogynist commenters. Please, feel free to check the IP addresses of the comments I claimed, all April-Foolsy, to have written.
I was in the middle of a 1000-mile drive, so I wasn't exactly anguishing over my failure to pick up whatever-the-hell SEK had layered into his blog post that was written in the form of a confession. My response to that — written at 11:23 at night from an I-80 rest stop in Iowa — was:
Someone was fooling, either you, per your confession, or someone else, if you're not fooling now. It makes no difference to me who did it. It wasn't one of our regulars and it wasn't a believable story.

The attempt to paint my commenters (or me!) as racist or whatever is inflammatory and ugly, and I've lost track of who wants that to stop.
Now, SEK has updated his post, with a not-too-attractive mix of hostile insults and whiny fears for his own fate:
You Althouse people really aren’t very bright.  To anyone who thinks that I actually wrote the comments paraphrased above, I suggest you click here and enter my last name into the “Instructor” field.  I’ll wait … so are you really ready to accuse me of writing that?  
Well, you'll have to wait a long time, because I don't know your last name, SEK. Is that me being not very bright? Or are you patently a fool?
I’m only asking because, unlike Althouse, who has tenure and can misbehave as she pleases, I’m a lowly lecturer who, if he steps out of line, will be fired on the spot.  
So why are you being so hostile and calling people names? It's interesting that you feel vulnerable, but what are you doing slugging people and then claiming vulnerability when you get a response.
Ann has the IP addresses of the people who left those comments and knows that it wasn’t me.  If she insists on lying, I can’t afford to prove her wrong in a court of law; however, I’m willing to put my name and career on the line and proclaim, in no uncertain terms, that I didn’t write the racist comments I mocked her for brooking on her blog.  She can’t be fired for besmirching her university in public like this, but if I’m lying, I can be dismissed with two snaps from an irate bureaucrat.  So in the interests of truth, I demand that should Althouse insist on claiming that I wrote those comments, she publish the IP addresses of the authors of the comments I linked to.  If they all resolve to Corona, California, I’ll exit the internet for life.
As noted above, I do not have a collection of IP addresses. I have no way to check who's behind the various pseudonyms, so you're on your own denying that you wrote what you previously said you wrote. I believed you then, and you ask me to believe you now, and the reason you're supposed to be believable now is that you have a strong self-interest in disassociating yourself from your own words. You made your own problem, and yet you are still being nasty to me, trying to smear me with racism for nothing but maintaining a free-speech forum. You accuse me of lying for quoting you. You threaten to sue me — for quoting you! — and at the same time whine that you can't afford to sue me. You stress that you would like to see me fired — for what?! — and yet you beg in the most pusillanimous fashion that I should pity you because you could be fired.

This is all so pathetic. Or is this another satire that I'm not bright enough to understand?

Anyway, to my commenters: Please understand that there are Mobys here. There are commenters who pretend to mean what they are saying, when what they are trying to do is to make us look bad somehow. Take that into account when you interact with people here.

"The child molester was also a brilliant, generous, talented man — the only person who ever read me a bedtime story."

"I will love him forever, for that, even when I wake up gasping and afraid."

A startling passage — in an essay by Elizabeth Scalia — AKA The Anchoress — that tries to explain — on this Good Friday — how she can be a Catholic after so many revelations about priests who sexually abuse children and the kindly protection they have received within the power structure of the Church.


It occurs to me that these priests — and Scalia's family pedophile — are the opposite of Boo Radley. Boo Radley — a character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" — was the reclusive neighbor who, failing to make a conventional show of friendliness, scared the children. But when the children are endangered, he saves them.


A Tom Toles cartoon:

Tea Party-haters see racism everywhere — except in themselves.

Yesterday, we were talking about the Flickr page set up to collect photographs of Tea Party signs with grammar and spelling errors. The page is called "Teabonics," a term intended to express how stupid Tea Partiers are. But the coinage "Teabonics" is a play on "Ebonics." The word "Ebonics" isn't supposed to make fun of mistakes made by black people. It embodies the claim that speech that may sound nonstandard is, in fact, a language with its own grammar, that may be studied and learned.

Working on this post, I saw that Language Log had written about "Teabonics," and I assumed I would get some good analysis about the misuse of "Ebonics" in coining the new word. But here's what I found:

March 31, 2010 @ 6:38 pm · Filed by Mark Liberman under Humor

Pictures here.

Including some nice examples of Muphry's Law in action....
Muphry's Law? Muphry's Law? Ha! Hang on a second, I need to recover from deep pangs of irony. Mock spelling, and you'd better make sure you never ever ever ever ever make a typo.

It takes more than 2 hours before anyone shows up on the popular linguistics blog to take Liberman to task for failing to see the swipe at black people:
Elizabeth Herrington said,
March 31, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

This is funny, sure. But we need to remember Ebonics (inglorious word it be) is based on a grammar. Teabonics is just plain ignorance.


Lance said,
March 31, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

... I'm sort of sorry that LanguageLog is propagating this. The common tagline is that "linguists are calling [this] Teabonics"; except that, as Elizabeth Herrington says above, recognizing Ebonics is deeply rooted in linguistic concepts, whereas this is just making fun of misspelling. And while I'm in favor politically of making fun of tea-partiers, I'm professionally against calling it "Teabonics", which elevates this to actual academic study and debases Ebonics as being equivalently illiterate.
So, why the blindness to racism? I suspect that it is a combination of the conventional liberal self-love — the mind-dulling confidence that they are the good people — and the embarrassing secret that the study of Ebonics was never truly grounded in respect for black people.

CORRECTION: "Muphry's Law," spelled like that, is something that has been talked about in the past on Language Log. Liberman's writing "Muphry's Law" would be an example of Muphry's Law if the term "Muphry's Law" hadn't been coined to refer to things like that. Thanks to the commenter Dewb for pointing this out.

Back in Madison.

We drove 1,000+ miles, taking turns sleeping on the passenger side. Pre-dawn, we crossed the Mississippi River, and we made it to our driveway in the first light of morning. After 5 more hours of sleep — blessed, own-bed sleep — I need to reappear in this space and disperse any stray notions about whether we made it home all right. We did!

April 1, 2010

"I went over to Althouse’s and wrote a number of insanely offensive comments, but everyone started agreeing with me before I could declare 'April Fools’!'"

Oh, bullshit! No one agreed with you. They just didn't let you wind them up like you tried. It was pretty obvious what was going on, but you did fool TBogg, a lefty blogger, who was so eager to believe the commenters over here are bad people that he was thoroughly humor deaf... even on April Fool's Day.

UPDATE: There are some strange levels of complexity to this, explored here

Iowa, I salute you.

You know, I judge the states by their rest stops. Iowa rules supreme. It's breezy and 77°, the sun is setting over the semis on I-80, and we're sitting outside with our laptops at a picnic table — and we can plug in our power cords and pick up free WiFi.

Photo 22

We're somewhere between the 500th and the 600th mile of our trek home from Boulder.

(The photo was taken — as the mirror-image hints — with Photo Booth. From my MacBook Pro. The other computer is Meade's Air.)

At The Kitchen...


... if you show up for dinner, lunch, and then dinner — all within a 24-hour period — maybe they'll treat you to glasses of Prosecco.

Talk about whatever you want here, and, when you're in Boulder, Colorado, eat at The Kitchen — over and over again.

In the Boulder Creek Café...


... you should be bold — experimental. Nature is beautiful, but so is art.


Those little rock piles remind me of drawings by Yves Tanguy, like this one, which I photographed at the Chicago Institute of Art a few weeks ago:


"My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize."

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) is worried about Guam, and, oh, is he getting mocked for stupidity.

Advice to Johnson: Just say you didn't mean it literally. It's obviously a figure of speech. Guam is a tiny island, and it's a vivid image to picture it tipping and capsizing. If you'd used a more well-worn image — like, I'm afraid the island will be crushed by over population — no one would visualize a crushing. You chose a fresh metaphor, and your listeners couldn't handle the task of digesting it.

How nannies cause little boys to grow up to be adulterers.

"Having two women care for a baby boy may cause his little brain to internalize the idea that there are multiple females to meet his needs."

And then he grows into a man whose little brain thinks he needs more than one woman.

"Picture an addiction so lethal it has the potential to render an entire generation incapable of forming lasting marriages..."

"... and so widespread that it produces more annual revenue — $97 billion worldwide in 2006 — than all of the leading technology companies combined."

National Review freaks out about pornography... in an article by an anonymous woman who thinks her husband rejected her and left her for another woman because of pornography.

iPad reviews.

Assembled in a handy chart.

"This is no time to be FRAIL!"

Eat bread.

Propagating the notion that Tea Partiers must be stupid.

It's the "Teabonics" Flickr set, collecting photographs from Tea Party events that depict signs with spelling or grammar errors. Example:

The first commenter says: "I guess that's why they call it 'fee'-dom." A few comments down someone asks if maybe it's Photoshopping. Yes, it's so easy to Photoshop errors onto people's signs. (I wonder if there are any defamation lawsuits based on the photographic lie that results.)

Via Wonkette, where commenters are having fun mocking someone who wrote "I did’nt serve 22 years for Socialism":
I love the “Did’NT Serve” sign.

Seems the three Rs for Teabaggers is Retardism, Racism, and Recidivism not that librul reading, riting and rithmatics.

Simpleton white dumbfuck retards, all.
So, one man served in the military for more than 2 decades and then misplaced an apostrophe, and another is skilled in the detection of racism and the use of mental disability as metaphor.

"A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s program of surveillance without warrants was illegal"... except he didn't.

Orin Kerr catches the NYT's misreading of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama.

March 31, 2010

At the Pulsatilla Vulgaris Club...


... pulsate, you vulgar creatures.

Have you been to any of the 100 highest-grossing independent restaurants in the U.S.?

It looks like a good list of places to avoid, actually. I've been to exactly one: Cliff House (in San Francisco).

You walk up into the mountains...


... I'll just photograph the sunset from the hotel window.

Man, this thin atmosphere is making me lazy.

Tom Toles talks about cartooning.

With Bob Wright on Blogggingheads.

And he's got a blog now. It's got regular writing along with cartoons, and there are some cool "outtakes" from cartoons, like this one...

... which has such a charmingly recognizable quick sketch of Obama.

At the Earth Goddess Café...


... deliver.

"Suicide is generally considered taboo in Hinduism, the religion of most Indians, because it disrupts the cycle of reincarnation that is central to the soul’s progress...."

"But the willingness to die for a cause, as exemplified by Gandhi’s epic fasts during the struggle for independence, is seen as noble and worthy. Ancient warriors in Tamil Nadu, in southeastern India, would commit suicide if their commander was killed.... And the practice of sati, or widow burning, although outlawed, remains a potent symbol of wifely devotion."

"But if the old bowing and boyish president is receding, a new and more ominous president is emerging."

Shelby Steele examines the new Barack Obama, after the health care fight:
A historic figure making history, this is emerging as an over-arching theme—if not obsession—in the Obama presidency....

The old fashioned, big government liberalism that Mr. Obama uses to make himself history-making also alienates him in the center-right America of today. It makes him the most divisive president in memory—a president who elicits narcissistic identification on the one hand and an enraged tea party movement on the other. His health-care victory has renewed his narcissistic charge for the moment, but if he continues to be a 1965 liberal it will become more and more impossible for Americans to see themselves in him.

Drill, baby, drill.

Obama goes Palin.

The unselfish husband.

"If a man were to invite a lady to marry him on the ground that he ardently desired her happiness and at the same time considered that she would afford him ideal opportunities of self-abnegation, I think it may be doubted whether she would be altogether pleased."

At the Sunset Café...


... every evening is different, beautiful.

March 30, 2010

Althouse in Boulder.


Is this where I belong?

A 15-year-old girl kills herself, and 9 of her classmates are arrested on various charges... but what did they do?

Of course, it's terrible when a young person commits suicide. And a suicide may have chosen self-murder because of the bad relationships in her environment. But if we don't favor arresting people who are very mean to people who don't commit suicide, why would we favor these arrests when someone does commit suicide?

Assume you are a teenager contemplating suicide. If you knew the 9 kids at school who were meanest to you would get criminally prosecuted if you killed yourself, would you be more likely to kill yourself or less? I don't know enough about the psychology of suicide to answer my own question, but my intuitive sense is that self-murderers — or some self-murderers — intend to deal a severe blow to the people they leave behind. And knowing your enemies will be prosecuted might spur you on.

Anyway, here's the article about the Phoebe Prince, who hanged herself, prompting the authorities to arrest 9 of her classmates. See if you can figure out how the shock and sorrow of the young girl's death got processed into criminal charges against 9 teenagers and whether this reaction is helpful or just.

Things that make John Cole think about his testicles...

... if he has any testicles.


"Now is not the time to search for nonexistent loopholes that preserve a broken system."

Writes Kathleen Sebelius, cowing the insurance companies into foregoing the use of a loophole that existed in the text the Democrats hastily scribbled.

"This activity was not eligible for reimbursement" — this "Eyes Wide Shut"-themed sex show.

And the Republican National Committee has now fired the staffer who expensed it.
The late-night excursion followed an official RNC event in Los Angeles for donors in its “Young Eagles” program...
[Erik Brown,] the donor who was reimbursed for footing the bill... “has verbally agreed to repay the funds to the RNC.”
... Brown, a church-going mid-level political operative, “was not entirely thrilled with the venue that people ended up at,” but nonetheless agreed to foot the bill after the RNC staffer in question told him the committee would reimburse the cost.
Why is Brown's name in the article and the staffer's name isn't? Seems Brown got screwed. He didn't even want to go. Apparently, he paid only because he was going to be reimbursed. And now he's the one whose name has a sex-smear on it. And he's out $2,000.

ADDED NOTE: This post isn't meant to excuse Michael Steele or any other RNC fool. It's just a shred of sympathy for the devil Brown.

UPDATE: The staffer has been identified as Allison Meyers, the director of Young Eagles. 

He's only saying this now because no one cares anymore.

It's only a play for our attention, after all else has failed. Absolutely zero credit for coming out — to Ricky Martin.

"If she had drive and ambition, what's wrong with that?"

That's how June Havoc — dead now at 97 — defended her mother, who was portrayed — unsympathetically, for those not given to excessive sympathy — in the musical "Gypsy." The musical was based on the memoir written by her sister Gypsy Rose Lee. How would you like the world to know the story of your childhood through the eyes of your jealous older sister?


But "Gypsy" is such a great musical. It transcends whatever may have been true about the 2 sisters and their mother.  Wouldn't you take great satisfaction to have played a part in the generation of sublime work of art, even if it meant that the real you would forever be submerged under someone else's fictionalized version of you?

"What this film was about for me, which are the moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from."

Said Sandra Bullock, accepting her Oscar, after fighting alongside her husband Jesse James to win full custody of his 6-year-old daughter, Sunny. There are 2 other James kids — Chandler, 15, and Jesse Jr., 12 — who have had Bullock as a mom. Moms take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from... but what is she supposed to do now that her husband has betrayed her? Stay together for his children? Or are they her children now? She has dropped plans to adopt them. Presumably, James's children will go back to their real mothers, now that James is consorting with that tattooed, Nazi-arm-band-wearing stripper.

"After 16 years and $10 billion — and a long morning of electrical groaning and sweating — there was joy..."

Scientists jubilate over whatever it is the Hadron collider did.
Following two false starts due to electrical failures, protons whipped to more than 99 percent of the speed of light and to energy levels of 3.5 trillion electron volts apiece around a 17-mile underground magnetic racetrack outside of Geneva a little after 1 p.m. local time. They crashed together inside apartment-building sized detectors designed to capture every evanescent flash and fragment from microscopic fireballs thought to hold insights into the beginning of the world.
I'm just relieved we weren't swallowed by a black hole.

March 29, 2010

Support for closing Guantanamo has dropped 12 points in the last 14 months.

It's down to 39 percent, and it's no mystery why. It's one thing to speak about it in the abstract during the campaign, quite another actually to release or relocate the detainees.

On a mountaintop in Central City, Colorado.





At the Mountaintop Café...


... unspoool.

"Weapons of mass destruction."

Let's look at the news of these arrests over the weekend:
Nine members of the Christian militia group Hutaree have been indicted on multiple charges involving an alleged plot to attack police, including seditious conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. Attorney in Michigan announced this morning.

"Six Michigan residents, along with two residents of Ohio and a resident of Indiana, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence," according to the government's press release, which you can read in full below.
From the government's own press release:
The indictment further alleges that the Hutaree planned to kill an unidentified member of local law enforcement and then attack the law enforcement officers who gather in Michigan for the funeral. According to the plan, the Hutaree would attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with Improvised Explosive Devices with Explosively Formed Projectiles, which, according to the indictment, constitute weapons of mass destruction. 
Assuming these allegations are true, this is indeed a nefarious plan and it's great that these people were caught. But I must also say that it's interesting to see that Improvised Explosive Devices with Explosively Formed Projectiles, which, according to the indictment are "weapons of mass destruction." That blows a big hole in the notion that there weren't weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Lawprof Jack Balkin says the individual mandate is constitutional because it's a tax.

Interesting argument:
The individual mandate, which amends the Internal Revenue Code, is not actually a mandate at all. It is a tax. It gives people a choice: they can buy health insurance or they can pay a tax roughly equal to the cost of health insurance, which is used to subsidize the government’s health care program and families who wish to purchase health insurance....

The Constitution gives Congress the power to tax and spend money for the general welfare. This tax promotes the general welfare because it makes health care more widely available and affordable. Under existing law, therefore, the tax is clearly constitutional.

The mandate is also not a “direct” tax which must be apportioned among the states by population. Direct taxes are taxes on land or “head” taxes on the general population. The individual mandate does not tax land. It is not assessed on the population generally but only on people who don’t buy insurance and aren’t otherwise exempt. It is a tax on behavior....
But will the Obama administration want to defend the mandate this way? Millions of Americans are getting a big new tax hit? It's not just a question of whether this argument will work in court. It's a question of whether Obama wants to shout out loud that the supposedly beneficent new law is a huge new tax on the very people he assured — over and over — that he would not raise taxes on.

"I can make a firm pledge under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."


"Starting this year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions." That's what Obama said.

But it's the text of the law that matters, and:
The fine print differs from the larger political message. If a company sells insurance, it will have to cover pre-existing conditions for children covered by the policy. But it does not have to sell to somebody with a pre-existing condition. And the insurer could increase premiums to cover the additional cost.
If they screwed up something that important, what else did they screw up? Or do you think they deliberately gave the insurance companies that loophole, in which case, the question is what other surprises are tucked away in the 1000s of pages of fine print?

ADDED: This suggests an answer to mystery — discussed yesterday — of why the insurance companies didn't barrage us with "Harry and Louise"-type ads this time. They lobbied behind the scenes and got the language they wanted in the bill. Who put that language in? Who wrote the statute? We know the members of Congress who voted for it probably didn't even read much of it. They went on assurances and assertions about what was in it. And there was that outrageous idea — said with a straight-face by Nancy Pelosi — that they had to pass the bill to find out what's in it.

Now, maybe the idea was to set up the insurance companies. They'd read the text and see they could do something and shock the people by saying no to the extremely sympathetic people who have sick children and who were so trusting and happy when they saw the bill pass.

Whether that was planned or not, it is the spin now. From the first link, above:
Congressional Democrats were furious when they learned that some insurers disagreed with their interpretation of the law.

“The concept that insurance companies would even seek to deny children coverage exemplifies why we fought for this reform,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the Senate commerce committee, said: “The ink has not yet dried on the health care reform bill, and already some deplorable health insurance companies are trying to duck away from covering children with pre-existing conditions. This is outrageous.”
Oh! Bad corporations! Evil, greedy, selfish corporations! We'll hear that old refrain once again, with melodramatic new feeling. What a great opportunity to soften everyone up for the next big reform, when the government takes over everything. Down with the child-killing insurance companies! 

"Here, it's tie-dye and marijuana. It's just like the 1960s, with the Vietnam War still to protest."

John Yoo, back at Berkeley, endures his environs.

"I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism," Yoo observes, sipping iced tea in the faculty club lounge, a wan smile registering the discomfort of colleagues walking by en route to the bar.

He sees his neighbors as the human figures of "a natural history museum of the 1960s," the Telegraph Avenue tableau of a graying, long-haired, pot-smoking counterculture stuck in the ideology's half-century-old heyday.
He's happy in Berkeley, he says, and that's something I understand.

March 28, 2010

The shadow man in the rock.


"The Butt."

A painting, from a slide show of paintings, supported by this essay by Roberta Smith that argues that the art form known as painting still lives. The essay is flabbier than the ass depicted in the painting. It contains lines like: "And something else greatly reduces the chances of the death of painting: too many people — most obviously women — are just beginning to make their mark with the medium and are becoming active in its public dialogue."

The boys have fallen behind.

But why? Nicholas D. Kristof asks.
Some people think that boys are hard-wired so that they learn more slowly, perhaps because they evolved to fight off wolves more than to raise their hands in classrooms.
But why has the problem gotten worse lately?
[In “Why Boys Fail,” by Richard Whitmire] argues that the basic problem is an increased emphasis on verbal skills, often taught in sedate ways that bore boys. “The world has gotten more verbal,” he writes. “Boys haven’t.”...

Some educators say that one remedy may be to encourage lowbrow, adventure or even gross-out books that disproportionately appeal to boys....

Indeed, the more books make parents flinch, the more they seem to suck boys in. A Web site, guysread.com, offers useful lists of books to coax boys into reading, and they are helpfully sorted into categories like “ghosts,” “boxers, wrestlers, ultimate fighters,” and “at least one explosion.”
Hey, I thought we needed to worry about fanning the flames of violence. Face it, Kristof, the world of men has ended. You — you men — in your geekhood, transformed your world of action into a world of text, and we women sat down and started typing, typing circles around you, the way we talk circles around you from the earliest possible moment ...

... and so women rule and women will rule... unless somebody pulls the plug.

"Earth Hour"... and other revealing "climate change" hypocrisies.

"Some of the lights the state Capitol were turned off Saturday night as part of Earth Hour a worldwide effort to get people, institutions and governments to shut off their lights for an hour to bring awareness to climate change."

Oh, I'm getting some awareness out of this, all right. This is heightening my awareness that the people who do stunts like this do not actually believe in the "climate change" emergency. Anyone who actually believed would oppose — among many, many other things — all the decorative illumination of the exteriors of public buildings. Just turning it off for an hour? Do you think we are idiots?


This reminds me of those churchgoers who pray for an hour a week — in public — and spend the rest of their time engaging in whatever nasty behavior they please. Why do they do this? Do they think they'll get absolution? Eh. You have to actually believe to think there's absolution. If they really believed, they wouldn't behave like that.  I think they, in their selfish interest, hope to gain favor and to prompt other people to believe and behave virtuously.


Some illumination of public buildings is required by the FAA, as noted in the linked article. But that reminds me: Why are people flying all over the place anyway? If we really believed in the touted emergency, we would limit flying to the truly essential. And what would be truly essential?

Business and government meetings can be done by video conference. Close down that that government building altogether! Think of all the carbon emissions that would save. (I will concede that in a representative democracy, officials really may need to mingle together in the flesh)

Recreational travel is a monument to disbelief in the seriousness of the climate change alarm. How can you go jaunting about to Europe or wherever and turn around and expect other people to buy tiny tin-can cars?


How about if everyone stays home and reads. Read until you figure out how to write English (or whatever language you think you know). The Wisconsin State Journal writes "to bring awareness to climate change." Like "climate change" is an entity that could be jolted into conscious thought.

Under the individual mandate, will people buy the insurance or just pay the penalty... or just not buy the insurance and not pay the penalty?

Because the penalty is not going to be enforced. (Via Instapundit.) Although they've made proof of insurance or payment of a penalty something you put on your income tax return, the usual enforcement mechanisms the IRS employs to collect taxes are not going to be available. So, no liens, no civil or criminal sanctions.

Sheer, shocking incompetence by Congress? Could be. Or it could be the key to the plan to ruin insurance companies by forcing them to take any new customers who are currently inclined to pay, i.e., customers who now have conditions requiring treatment. [AND: Once the insurance companies are ruined, there will be nothing left but the long dreamed-of, single-payer government program.]

What I don't understand, then, is why insurance companies didn't campaign against the reform. They must have understood what was in the offing. (Right?) There must be some explanation for how this thing is supposed to work, otherwise, we'd have been swamped in "Harry and Louise" ads, like last time. Or is there sheer incompetence in private business too? ... in which case, what does it matter if the government takes over everything?

All I can think is that the penalties were there, the insurance companies were lulled, and then the enforcement was yanked out at the last minute, blindsiding them. And yet, even with enforcement of the penalties, the insurance companies faced the obvious risk that people would opt for the penalty — which was comparatively cheap — instead of buying insurance, until they needed treatments that were more expensive than the insurance policy (minus the penalty). The silence of the insurance companies was already a mystery.


A reading for the day: "Silver Blaze," by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

At the Too-Early Café...


... it's hard to think of anything to say in this pre-dawn light. You start the conversation.