May 1, 2010

"Couple of weeks ago, the President, our President said, 'It turns out the oil rigs today generally don't cause oil spills. They are technologically very advanced.'"

"Now if, if I was quoting George Bush, this crowd would be laughing in hysterics.... So, why isn't Barack Obama getting more shit for this? I think he should."

That's Bill Maher.

Birds and bee.



(Today, in Madison.)

"This shifting landscape is ripe for a row over Roe."

Wielding a triple-mixed metaphor, Charles M. Blow notes some new legislation that will provoke  litigation over abortion.

There's a Nebraska law that bans "most abortions after 20 weeks on the theory that that’s when the fetus can feel pain." There's a Mississippi bill forbidding public financing of abortions. And there are 2 new Oklahoma laws: "One requires women, even those seeking to end a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, to have an ultrasound and have the fetus described to them. The other prevents mothers from suing doctors who withhold information about fetal birth defects." Florida also has a new law requiring ultrasound before an abortion.

Blow frets that the Supreme Court will reconsider Roe. Of course, the Court reconsidered Roe back in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and any new litigation is highly likely to be only about applying the Casey standard to new legislation.

Blow points to polls:
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Friday found that the percentage of people who think that the Supreme Court is too liberal is at its highest since they began asking the question, as is the percentage of people who say that if Roe v. Wade were to come before the court again, the next justice should vote to overturn it. They’re not the majority, but it’s still not good.
Look at the poll. The question goes back to 7/21/05, when John Roberts was first nominated. 65% of those polled wanted Roe upheld. One month later, the percentage somehow went down to 60%.  When Alito was nominated, the number was 64% and then a few weeks later, down to 61%. With Sotomayor, the percentage came in at 60, and now, it's 59%. I'd say the percentage is pretty stable, and there isn't any real downward trend.
According to a Gallup report released on Wednesday, the percentage of college-educated people who favor legal abortion under any circumstances has been dropping since the early 1990s and has now reached a new low. And while the largest overall drop was among men over 65, it was closely followed by a drop among women under 30.
Note that the Gallup question isn't asking about abortion rights. If the Supreme Court stopped protecting access to abortion as a matter of constitutional law,  the states could keep it legal. Read the material at the Gallup link, and you'll see that it mostly shows stability in opinion on the subject.

In the end, Blow show why he's pushing readers to think there's a big fight coming. He wants Obama to "nominate a warrior" to the Supreme Court. Instead of recognizing the stability of the case law and of public opinion and accepting the idea of a dignified Supreme Court that applies itself diligently to the task of deciding cases according to an orthodox legal methodology, Blow would like us to view the Court as a political battleground, and he wants a well armed new Justice. The metaphor here is military.

He says he'd like his Supreme Court "warrior" to be someone "who agrees with Representative Long." Here's what Blow said about Long (after noting the new state laws "enacted mostly by men, that seek legal control over women’s bodies"):
I happen to agree with Representative Janet Long of Florida, who said on Friday that you should “stand down if you don’t have ovaries.”
"Stand down." There's that military metaphor again.

ADDED: Chip japes.

Is Rush Limbaugh an oil-spill truther?

Or is Ezra Klein a humor-deaf Rush-hater?

"A panic surged through me as I realized there were only two weeks until taping — and over two hundred countries whose capitals and major geographical landmarks had to be committed to relatively long-term memory."

My colleague Shubha Ghosh writes about his experience on "Jeopardy":
I also had to start watching the show again. The program guide on the Jeopardy web site indicated that the show aired at the same time accident attorneys, payday loan makers, and diet doctors advertise on the airways, and I set the DVR accordingly. The show used to be on after dinner, a nice way to end the day and begin the evening.  Re-engaging with Jeopardy, I asked myself: What had I committed to by agreeing to be a contestant? Was I a part of a desperate franchise?  Such thoughts were put aside quickly as I worked through, among other lists, the countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States and the names of people who would succeed President Obama.  VP, Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, and so forth....
That's from part 1. The series continues, but the show aired yesterday, so we already know what happened. I won't spoil it for you, but it set my thoughts flowing back to my junior high school guidance counselor, Mr. Hannan. He was on "Jeopardy" in the early 1960s, and it was horrifying when he lost because he confused cirrus and cumulus clouds — probably on a big "Double Jeopardy" bet. We'd all learned the different kinds of clouds, and Mr. Hannan had even taught science! How could it be! But he was good natured about it, and we accepted that you've got to understand what it's really like trying to think and remember things when you're caught in the bright camera lights. [CORRECTION: The teacher I'm remembering wasn't Mr. Hannan, but a science teacher whose name I've forgotten. The material that follows, however, about Mr. Hannan, is, as far as I know, correct.]

The coolest thing about Mr. Hannan — Joseph Hannan — was not that he went on "Jeopardy." It was that he wrote a novel about being a teacher — "Never Tease a Dinosaur" — and it was made into a TV pilot — "Hey, Teacher" — that starred Dwayne Hickman. Dwayne Hickman was Mr. Hannan. So, practically, Mr. Hannan was Dobie Gillis!

It's sad that there's so little trace on line of the things from that era. I wish I could find the full text of "Never Tease a Dinosaur." I wish I could find a video clip of "Hey, Teacher." (The pilot aired in1964 — back when the networks filled in the summer schedule with pilot episodes of shows that never got sold.) I did find a tiny obituary for my old guidance counselor. The obit spells his name 2 ways — Hannon and Hannan — and makes me wonder now if I got it right.
Author Joseph Hannon died at age 84. Mr. Hannan wrote the book 1961 "Never Tease a Dinosaur." The book dealt with his experiences as an elementary school teacher in the 1950s. His observation of a man working in what was then a mainly woman's job. The book was the basis for the 1964 "Vacation Playhouse" TV pilot "Hey, Teacher." Dwayne Hickman starred as Mr. Hannan. Mr. Hannan served his country in the US Coast Guard during WWII.
So I don't have a clip of Shubha missing his shot on "Jeopardy," and I sure don't have a clip of Mr. Hannan fluffing the cloud names on "Jeopardy," and I don't have a clip of Dwayne Hickman playing Mr. Hannan in "Hey, Teacher," but I do have a clip of Dwayne Hickman screwing up on "The Match Game":

Teachers and TV quiz shows. It's all good.

ADDED: A reader sends me the  January 13, 2008 obituary in The Record (nicely written by Jay Levin). This isn't otherwise available on line, so I can't give a link. Text after the jump:

April 30, 2010

"As Watergate taught us, we rightfully reject illegally breaking into candidates' private communications for political intrigue in an attempt to derail an election."

Says Sarah Palin, after the man who broke into her personal email account was found guilty of obstructing justice and unauthorized access to a computer.

(The 22-year-old student, who faces a 20-year prison term, would like you to see what he did as a mere prank.)

"If these people go ahead banning polygamous marriages it means many women will go into prostitution."

"Every woman has the right to be under the shelter of a man."

What are we looking for?


What are we finding?

A toad.


AND: Before there was Althouse + Meade, there was Meade + toad.

"It is what it is. Whatever it was, it wasn't good enough.''

Tiger Woods misses the cut... by 8 shots.

The new shark that looks oddly human.

The Iceland catshark.

Reminds me of... who? Ringo?

Come on, guys! Take the nasal spray that will help you care about other people — like women do!

Some scientists "found that inhaling the 'cuddle hormone' oxytocin made men just as empathetic as women."

Empathy, eh? So Obama didn't have to appoint the "wise Latina." We could have male judges and spray hormones up their noses.

"Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women..."

"... handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged 'immodest.'"

Harvard 3L Stephanie Grace writes "I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African-Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent" — and is publicly reamed.

... at her law school, on the internet, and in the press. Grace's statement came in email sent to 2 friends, who'd had a private conversation about affirmative action. She felt a need to extend her remarks. And at some point the email got out on the internet, and all hell broke loose:
“Here at Harvard Law School, we are committed to preventing degradation of any individual or group, including race-based insensitivity or hostility,’’ [Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School] wrote in a message to Harvard’s law school community.

Minow said she had met with leaders of Harvard’s Black Law Students Association on Wednesday to discuss the hurt caused by Grace’s e-mail....

... Minow called the incident “sad and unfortunate’’ but said she was heartened by the student’s apology. She added: “We seek to encourage freedom of expression, but freedom of speech should be accompanied by responsibility.’’
(Via TaxProf, who collects a bunch of other links on the story, including links that will get you to the full text of the email.)

Grace has apologized. Of course, she's sorry now. "I am heartbroken and devastated by the harm that has ensued. I would give anything to take it back." Note the passive voice: "the harm that ensued." A  new way to say I'm sorry you were offended. She also says "I understand why my words expressing even a doubt [that African-Americans are genetically inferior] were and are offensive." She's learned something: This is a subject where you can't play with ideas and speculate. People get very angry, and the speaker had better be ready to deal with it.

Did Dean Minow handle this the right way? One question is: Why does the dean even get involved with something one student said in private email? If the answer is because the Black Law Students Association came to her and demanded a response, then maybe the question should be why did the  Black Law Students Association go to the dean for help? Why didn't the students all just argue and debate and express themselves to each other? These are Harvard students. Law students. Why not dig in and have it out and show your stuff? Why go to the nearest, biggest authority figure? Stephanie hurt me!

Here's the full text of Minow's message. (By the way, Martha Minow's father was FCC chairman Newton Minow, the man who called television "a vast wasteland.")
This sad and unfortunate incident prompts both reflection and reassertion of important community principles and ideals. We seek to encourage freedom of expression, but freedom of speech should be accompanied by responsibility. This is a community dedicated to intellectual pursuit and social justice....
Law school is a community with shared ideals. One of the ideals could be: When a student makes a point that contains what you think is an outrageous statement, unless she's been actively insulting to you, you should engage her in debate and not not expose her to a public trashing. And don't bring the dean into the fray as your champion. More from Minow:
As news of the email emerged yesterday, I met with leaders of our Black Law Students Association to discuss how to address the hurt that this has brought to this community. For BLSA, repercussions of the email have been compounded by false reports that BLSA made the email public and pressed the student’s future employer to rescind a job offer. 
I was going to say that "the hurt" to Grace and her reputation was much greater than the hurt to those students who only read the email. It's not as if she shouted ugly words in their face. But now I see that the BLSA students had reason to worry that they were the ones who would look bad because they were believed to have overreacted and taken some nasty revenge. Minow may have been activated by the need to clear their reputation.
A troubling event and its reverberations can offer an opportunity to increase awareness, and to foster dialogue and understanding. 
Minow tries to be even-handed and control the fallout. She frames it as a teaching moment. But what has everyone learned?

April 29, 2010

Did Obama drop immigration reform...

... because that poll showed a majority of Americans support that new Arizona law?

"What’s an externality?"

"My friends tell me that in the Vondelpark, a delightful reserve in central Amsterdam, it is illegal to let your dog off a leash. But it’s perfectly legal to have sex in the park, so long as it is not in view of a children’s playground. The argument is that the dog may make a mess that imposes costs on the unwary walker, while the couple imposes no costs on other park users. I wonder which of these two actions would be more likely to be outlawed in the U.S. Implicitly, how do attitudes toward negative externalities, as expressed in city ordinances, differ between the U.S. and the Netherlands—or among other Western countries?"

At the Arboreal Sunset Café...


... you can stretch out...


... and feel the last glow of the day.

"He defies the laws of physics as his daily exercise, but without him the universe just wouldn't be as friendly to humans."

Bono effuses inanely over Bill Clinton.

"I followed my heart, and I believe it was the right thing to do, which is weird — I get how weird that is..."

"... because I didn’t make a commitment to Elizabeth. I wasn’t the one lying, like, to her, and I was supporting him in his process, and his intentions never wavered. I knew that he wanted — he just had a really unique way of getting there — to live a life of truth."

Rielle Hunter, being weird, on "Oprah."

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said:
If she would have, like, made a commitment to Elizabeth, then it wouldn't have been weird.

Like, she could have made a commitment to respect Elizabeth's marriage to John? - it would have been, like, a really unique way of getting there? Getting to, you know, that space of living a life of truth?

But it wouldn't have been weird. It would have been just, you know, like a really really real... process.
Oh! It's Everybody Talk Like Rielle Hunter Day!

It's time to be with trees.


They're reaching out to you.


Feel them!


"Now, what we’re doing, I want to be clear, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned."

"I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

"Mythic Giant Earthworm Not Extinct, Spitting, or Sweet Smelling."

If only it were extinct, we could imagine that it spit and smelled sweet. Is it better to know it's still around, but not that interesting, or would you prefer it gone and looming large in our heads?

It's not really too late for magnolias...


... if you look at them the right way.


A socialist, an atheist, and a Muslim.

Ah! I've unwittingly written a "Jeopardy"-style answer. Now, you tell me the question!

ADDED: You could also take it as a Karnak answer.

WE HAVE A WINNER: Irene says: "Which affiliation do most Americans agree would disqualify a person from nomination to the US Supreme Court?"

Yes, there is a new poll about replacing Justice Stevens, and in one part of it, Americans are asked if they would be "comfortable" with various sorts of nominees. Here's the PDF of the results. A socialist, an atheist, and a Muslim are the 3 types of nominees that a majority of Americans would not be "comfortable" with. 64% were uncomfortable with the socialist (though Democrats were split 47/47%). 58% were uncomfortable with an atheist, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. And 53% were uncomfortable with a Muslim (though only 45% of Democrats had a problem). Interestingly, in contrast to the socialist, libertarians did pretty well. 57% were comfortable, including 53% of Democrats. The poll also asked about Mormons and Christians who take the Bible literally. Both of those types did quite will, with 65% and 62%, respectively, feeling comfortable.

"Meetings between great men don't always result in elevated colloquies; sometimes they tend towards the crudely basic."

For example:
When Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald met in Paris, at Le Dingo Bar on the rue Delambre in April 1925, Hemingway was disconcerted to be asked: "Did you have sex with your wife before you were married, Ernest?" They became friends, however. Their most intimate conversation (as reported by Hemingway) was also about wives. One evening, Scott Fitzgerald confessed to his friend that his wife, Zelda, had told him his penis was unusually small, and that he could never satisfy any woman. Hemingway said it was just typical of Zelda's undermining ways, but Scott wasn't reassured. So Hemingway asked him to come to the lavatory, where he inspected his friend's lance of manhood. Back in the bar, he explained:

"You're perfectly fine," I said. "You're okay. There's nothing wrong with you. You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened. Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues and then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile." Now there was an act of friendship between creative giants, if not an especially artistic conversation.
Oh, I think it's artistic as hell.

"We will not stop! We will take up our shovels and pickaxes and we...we will use them against you! Believe that!"

Imagine if this level of anger and threatening speech had come from the Tea Party people?

We need cameras in the courtroom, because of the "long, slow decline of the newspaper industry" and the rise of "pseudo-journalist."

Says Judge Kozinski.

What word in what Frank Sinatra song would Siobvan Magnus have magnificently shrieked?

She got sent home last night, so it's alternate reality speculation. But look at the song list — after the jump — it's real. "American Idol" will do Sinatra next week. (Via Throwing Things, where Adam realizes he can't understand America's taste.)

Which of the 5 that are left will do best with this sort of material, and what do you want to hear each one sing?

Isn't Apple about love? Where's the love Apple?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

A great coinage: "Appholes."

CONFESSION: The video clip looked beautiful in full screen size on the 27" screen of the iMac I picked up at the Apple store 2 days ago. So crisp I exclaimed "He needs to get his knuckles waxed."

$8,875,000 for "an ocean-view villa... with a swimming pool, spa and fountains... 6 fireplaces, 5 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms."

Another place for Al Gore and his lovely wife "Tipper" to snuggle up and keep warm.

It's nothing but jealousy and pure peevishness to mock and complain when this delightful, public-spirited man takes another modest step to find some little comfort for himself and his wife.

April 28, 2010

At the Catkin Café...


... let the feline family meow.

Peter Beinart asks a question that annoys me even without the thesis I know he's working on: "Put a Mom on the Court."

The question is: "Why should we want more women on the court at all?" Grr. Shut up.

But let's see how deeply he steps in it:
[Why?] For two reasons. First, because female justices, on average, will be more sensitive to the problems women face. Since they will have likely encountered gender bias themselves, they will be more likely to support government action to remedy it. And that firsthand experience of injustice may also sensitize them to the plight of other groups that have historically experienced discrimination. These are crude generalizations, of course, but they have a basis in fact. Just look at the women in Congress, who are far more likely to be pro-choice—and to lean left more broadly—than are the men.
In other words, you want more lefties on the Court, and femaleness is a rough proxy for leftism.
Our government is actually doing a pretty good job of providing role models for the 20 percent of American women who don’t want kids. Where it’s failing is in providing role models for the 80 percent that do.
But there’s a second reason we should want more women on the court. It’s not just that they may alleviate gender injustice through their rulings; they may alleviate it through their example as well. Just as Barack Obama empowers African-American kids to believe that there are no limits to what they can achieve, female Supreme Court justices send the same message to young women. As anyone who has ever watched their daughter eye a Barbie Doll can attest, role models matter.
Oh, for the love of God! As if it's 1975! I was irked in 1985 to be told that I had the role of being a role model. I thought the male law professor who told me that was discriminating against me. The men didn't have that extra dimension to their job — that basis for being valued apart from the strength doing the real work. Frankly, I found it diminishing. So that's me being "be more sensitive to the problems women face." One of the problems is men portraying our success as some kind of Oprahesque self-esteem lesson for the backward.
And that’s why it’s important not just to have lots of women in positions of political power, but to have lots of women with kids. It’s important because otherwise, the message you’re sending young women is that they can achieve professionally, or they can have a family, but they can’t do both. 
Hey, buddy. My career is not your messaging device. My birth canal is not a beacon of light to the unenlightened.
And without quite realizing it, that is the message our government has been sending. According to the Census Bureau, 80 percent of American women over the age of 40 have children. But look at the women who have held Cabinet posts in the last three presidential administrations. Only two of the Clinton administration’s five female Cabinet secretaries had kids.... In the Bush administration, the figure was two of seven. In the Obama administration, so far, it is two of four. And if Obama chooses Elena Kagan for the High Court, the figure there will be one of three.
Let's roll back to Reason #1 for wanting a woman on the Court: to get a bigger leftist. So why are you knocking Kagan? Because she's childless, or because you prefer Diane Wood, the woman with kids who is — so they say — the bigger leftist?

Beinart, I call bullshit.

AND: Consider this NYT article from 1922 (as reacted to by me, pretending to be a blogger of the time):
The NYT contends that the 12 greatest women "are women that have never been heard of outside of their own homes, and seldom appreciated there; who have put aside their own ambitions ... to build careers for which their husbands got credit." But the [National League for Women Voters] is looking for famous women, so the Times names 12 famous women: Geraldine Farrar, Edith Wharton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Molla Mallory, Alice Paul, Ida Tarbell, Jane Addams, Amy Lowell, Minnie Maddern Fiske, M. Carey Thomas, Mary Pickford, and Agnes Repplier. Ah, but "six of the twelve have never married," and the married ones are all childless. "Let those who think it is easy to manage a first-rate career and a first-rate home simultaneously find an explanation for that."

Well, my first attempt at an explanation would be to guess that the NYT composed its list of twelve with an eye toward who was childless. But, yet, it's certainly true that it's not easy to balance career and family. Why can't we factor that in as we select the greatest women? First, you say the really greatest women are the ones who put aside all career ambitions for the sake of the family, and then you present us with a list of great women who are all childless. It's obvious what you want to say. You want to warn women away from careers. Unless we are willing to abandon the hope for a good family, we should forget about having a career. This is a terrible message. Try harder to find good examples of women who have balanced family and work and show us how they have done it — or modern women should toss this reactionary newspaper aside. We deserve better.

"I took a weekend class at NYU on speed fiction."

"The instructor would hold up a picture or postcard for 20 seconds or so. Then the class would write a short story about what they saw — in five minutes."

Great idea! Okay, here:

Striped wall with tulips

Quick now! Time yourself! 5 minutes!

"Has the appeal of painter's tape ever led someone to trim their walls in blue?"

"I often wonder that when painting."

"You're the first friend from television I ever had."

"And probably the closest, I think."

(That's not really the clip I intended to find, but I got sidetracked. I was looking for something from 1954 to go with this obit for Allen Swift.)

The tiniest horse in the world.

I thought I was resistant to this sort of thing, but I vocalized a heartfelt "aw" — with my office door open, and I'm a little embarrassed. The teensy-tiniest bit.

"Imagine if Obama's gaffe about 'clinging to guns and religion' had been uttered by John McCain, about his own base."

It would look like this...

But, actually, to be fair, that is worse than the hypothetical McCain scenario. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was caught on tape insulting a particular individual — Gillian Duffy — calling her a "bigot" right after talking to her, and her reaction to hearing about it (and then listening to it) is caught on video.

More of Gillian Duffy's amazing real-time response here. (I like when she gets a cell phone call and the reporters can't believe she'd take a phone call while she's on live TV.) Brown has now given Duffy an in-personal apology, but as you can see in that video she says she doesn't want that. She wants to know why her comments were counted as bigotry.

IN THE COMMENTS: Class factotum said:
Josephine the Plumber has been born.
Hey! Wait a minute! Josephine the Plumber? Jane Withers!

When my mother saw those Comet ads, she's always exclaim about how mean Jane Withers was to Shirley Temple. She was the child actress who was most emphatically not Shirley Temple:

And the actor in the wheelchair is Charles Sellon — or as I insist on calling him, Mr. Muckle. Now, open the door for Mr. Muckle:

"Women appear much less happy when spending time with their children and parents than men do."

Now, how are you going to explain that? I mean, the way you have to, so that women are the good ones and it's the men who are bad.

"In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins."

"We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."

"A nuclear reaction so intense that it will make a star bloom on the surface of the Earth."

Great! I hope.

A Meadhouse counterscape...

... with morels.


Found somewhere in Wisconsin.

It only hurts when I'm wet.

Last night on "American Idol," it was Shania Twain night. There was some talk about how the guys — there are 4 left — would sing such feminine songs. After Michael Lynche sang "It Only Hurts When I Breathe," Simon Cowell said "I thought the performance, however, was a little bit wet, as if you were in a musical acting out the words."

Wet, eh? Questioned about what that meant, Cowell was coy: "the opposite of dry." Further grilled, he said "It was a little bit girly for you." I think he was signaling the people at home that it's time to let go of poor Michael, who is a big burly guy whose fatherhood the show has touted since his first appearance. Now, when they'd like us to dump him, Simon injects doubt about his manhood into the American mind.

Meanwhile, Kara DioGuardia snarked about how the little guy, Aaron Kelly, wisely changed the words "when we made love" in Twain's "Way About You." Kara wriggled around as though she was uncomfortable referring to the fact that he's so young he must be a virgin. (He just turned 17.) And then Aaron upped the discomfort level by letting us know he was "singing the song to my mom." A wave of "aw" rose up in the audience, and Aaron bit his lip as if he might sob with love for his mother. No way he's voted out! Moms watch the show, and moms vote. If they were trying to signal that we should drop Aaron, they botched it.

Anyway, I suddenly realize I know that damned "breathe" song. Yeah! Here it is! A blog post written on March 31, 2004. I'd gone to the dentist:
The dentist pipes in music that most resembles the kinds of songs that contestants on American Idol sing. When I'm at the dentist I'm hyper-aware of how much I hate that kind of music, which makes me wonder what strange force makes me watch American Idol. Oh, the Motown stuff last night was good--I like Fantasia--but it's that generic bellowing anthemic crap that I can't tolerate (for example, at the dentist today, Melissa Etheridge singing something along the lines of "It only hurts when I breathe....," where the approach seems to be come up with one line that appears clever and just emote the hell out of that one line over and over). But that is all to say: I really do have a lot of work to get on to. I've got a Conlaw class at 11...
Ha ha. More than 5 years later, I'm still watching "Idol," and they finally do that song. (And I did correct the Melissa Etheridge mistake in an update at the time, even though I don't really care which lung-y woman is which.

And, actually, I've got a Conlaw class at 11 today too. The last class of the Spring semester....

"In an angry hearing peppered with shouts and potty talk, Goldman Sachs brass doggedly insisted Tuesday they have no regrets about dubious mortgage deals that soaked investors."

Pepper... potty... brass... dogs... soaking.... The Daily News madly mixes the metaphors as it challenges us to understand who, if anybody, are the good guys in the big showdown.

The potty talk was the repeated use of the word "shitty," which began in some Goldman Sachs email, and then got flung back at them by Carl Levin, who somehow thought it was a good idea to try to intimidate the Wall Greed Guys with lines like "Your own employees believed they are crap, a piece of junk, or a shitty deal."

NSFW video:

If your scatalogical stream of consciousness flows like mine, you may be thinking about the "soaked investors" being soaked in shit — something like that scene in "Slumdog Millionaire."

But the old expression "soak the rich" was not originally based on an image of dunking the rich in a vat of water or other liquid or somehow hosing them down or otherwise wetting them. The original etymology of "soak" is "suck." So "soak the rich" is more like suck the rich dry. I haven't been able to Google that answer successfully (suck-sessfully, as Bob Dylan would say).  But I wondered about this expression back in 1990, when we had to look things up in real books. Take my book-learned word for it and don't picture those "soaked investors" drenched in shit (or anything else). Picture them dessicated. Not wet.

April 27, 2010

Trillium Erectum.


Ah! Trillium Erectum! We found a flower we didn't know could be found in Wisconsin. And we had all kinds of other adventures today....


Tom Goldstein predicts that Obama will nominate Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court.

He'd already predicted it, and he still thinks so:
It seems clear to me that none of the three nominees—including even Diane Wood—will generate a knock-down, drag-out fight in the Senate. In effect, the White House preempted the prospect of an all-out war by not including the leading liberal prospects in its published short list of finalists. The Bush White House took a similar approach when it nominated the conservative Samuel Alito, but passed on then-Fourth Circuit Judge Michael Luttig, to whom Democrats had signaled their very strong objections....

More surprising, institutional Republicans have not been particularly vocal in their objections to the potential nomination of Diane Wood. Judge Wood’s abortion-related opinions would mean that she would receive only in the range of 55 to 60 votes. But confirmation would still be all but assured....

It is ... true that Judge Wood is the nominee whom progressives would prefer to see nominated, by an order of magnitude. While criticism from the left of General Kagan (who as the perceived front runner has received the most attention) and Judge Garland has been limited to a few, very vocal liberal commentators, it nonetheless exists.... So to the extent that Wood presents the potential downsides of some fight in the Senate and mobilizing conservatives in the election, she has the upside of appealing to and mobilizing core constituencies of the president....

On the ability of the three to persuade a conservative member of the Court such as Justice Kennedy, all have significant strengths as well.... Diane Wood is not only personally charming but has gone toe to toe with Judges Easterbrook and Posner and persuaded them on significant issues. Elena Kagan has significant demonstrated success in working with conservatives at Harvard Law School, which is an exceptionally challenging environment, and has parallels to the relationships at the Court. But she has never been a judge, and would as a consequence presumably take longer than the others to adapt to the new role.
I don't quite get it. Why won't Obama give liberals what they want? The strongest argument for Kagan over Wood seems to be age. Kagan's 49. Wood is 59.

At the Pulpit Café...


... sermonize and harmonize.

"Our reflexive response to 'Everybody Draw Mohammad Day'... was sympathetic. But Althouse prompted us to reconsider."

"Us" = Best of the Web (James Taranto):
"Piss Christ" is not an entirely apposite example, for it prompted no threats of violence or calls for suppression. It was an issue not of free speech but of subsidized speech; people objected to their tax dollars' bankrolling Serrano via the National Endowment for the Arts. But it isn't hard to think of other examples in which speech that is offensive to large numbers of people has occasioned censorship or violence or the threats thereof.
I'm glad to see Taranto do what I was challenging my commenters to do. (I said: "If you don't think the 'Piss Christ' or the American flag hypos are sufficiently on point, then make a better hypo. That's my challenge. Make a hypo that is the same but without the Muslim element, and seriously test your thinking on the subject.") Taranto:
Until 1989, it was a crime in some states to burn the American flag as a political statement. In Texas v. Johnson the U.S. Supreme Court held that this is protected symbolic speech. In ensuing years members of Congress repeatedly tried to propose a constitutional amendment permitting the criminalization of flag burning. It is the view of this column that flag burning is and should remain protected speech. We deplore it nonetheless, and we think holding an "Everybody Burn the Flag Day" would be stupid, obnoxious and counterproductive if one seeks to persuade others that flag burning should be tolerated.
In my comments, Jason (the commenter) had posed the flag hypo — sarcastically: "If burning an American flag were illegal and there was a 'Burning an American Flag' Day, you can bet I'd be out there burning an American flag, because I believe the right to burn an American flag is what America is all about." Back to Taranto:
"Hate speech"--for example, shouting racial slurs, positing theories of racial supremacy or denying the Holocaust--is illegal in Canada and many European countries. In the U.S. it is protected by the First Amendment--but it has been known to provoke a violent reaction....
This column is also of the opinion that hate-speech laws are pernicious and that the First Amendment does and should protect the expression of even ugly and false ideas. But we would not endorse or participate in an "Everybody Shout a Racial Slur Day" or an "Everybody Deny the Holocaust Day" to make the point.
"Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" seems different to people, Taranto says:
Because the taboo against depictions of Muhammad is not a part of America's common culture. The taboos against flag burning, racial slurs and Holocaust denial are. The problem with the "in-your-face message" of "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" is not just that it is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others, but that it defines those others--Muslims--as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders. It is an unwise message to send, assuming that one does not wish to make an enemy of the entire Muslim world.
Okay, all you readers who drove the comments up over 400 trying to push me back. I have Taranto! What say you now?!


I'm still searching for the perfect hypo that involves upsetting Christians. How about a proposal to protest the sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic church with "Everybody Suck on a Crucifix" day?

No shun ≈ notion.

And that pun takes me back to an old song.

"Your touch has thrilled me like the rush of the wind" inspires "your blog has thrilled me like the rush of the limb... bough."

35 years of "Blood on the Tracks."

Do you remember waking up in that tenement apartment that morning in 1975 and listening to the new Dylan album on the FM radio? "'Twas in another lifetime... one of toil and blood..."
Shelter from the Storm begins with four seconds of unaccompanied acoustic guitar strumming, lively, purposeful, and then it is joined by the voice. “’Twas in another lifetime,” Dylan begins, “one of toil and blood,” immediately establishing this song as one cut from the same musical cloth as the traditional folk tales, gospel songs, and murder ballads Robert Zimmerman was learning before he “came in from the wilderness,” only not as “a creature void of form” but as “Bob Dylan”. It is a song that, thirty-five years after its original release, remains both contemporary and as timeless as one of the most basic archetypes of human experience: the hunter.

History and myth reveal three basic types of hunter: first, the hunter/gatherer who operates strictly to sustain life on either a personal or group level; second, a warrior whose primary motivation is destruction; third, a seeker whose interest lies in finding Holy Grails or a heart of gold.

The hunter in Shelter is ... a seeker with no interest in destruction but reconnection.  Despite being “burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail, poisoned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail, hunted like a crocodile (the hunter becomes the hunted), ravaged in the corn”, this quest will continue until she is found or the hunter is dead.  “Nothing really matters much,” the narrator in Shelter states, “it’s doom (destiny, fate) alone that counts.”
I made fun of the mixed metaphor — I had the ridiculous image of somebody raping a crocodile in a cornfield — and you defended Bob. That was in another lifetime, it seems.

Corn smut is tasty and good for you too.

A fungus we should be eating, not eradicating.
When huitlacoche attacks corn, the insidious-looking pustules that bubble up don't just force the husk to explode, it forces the metabolical process inside the cob to change, creating new, healthier nutrients.

Take lysine, one of those ''essential amino acids'' that the body requires but can't manufacture. We need it to fight infections and strengthen bones. Bodybuilders pound lysine when they want to build muscle, and estheticians recommend it to keep skin looking young.

Corn has virtually no lysine; huitlacoche is loaded with it. It also is packed with more beta-glucens -- the soluble fiber that gives oatmeal its well-known cholesterol-cutting power -- than, well, oatmeal.
This is a great metaphor for all the things we think are bad that could be perceived as beneficent if we just knew more about what it really is. What else is like huitlacoche?

April 26, 2010

Meade takes me hunting.

It's into the woods again today...


Where, exactly? I won't tell. I mean... look! Really, look:


Would you have seen what we saw?


Would you have had your Swiss Army Knife?


Would you have found this much?


Ha ha ha ha ha....


... la la la la la la.

The tallest teenage girl.

Originally from Jamaica, now going to school (and playing basketball) in New Jersey, Marvadene Anderson is 5" taller than Michael Jordan.
"People are friendly with me because of my height and my personality. If I was tall and mean, I think I'd have a problem," she said.

"The rudest thing anybody ever said about my height is that I'm not going to be able to find a husband."
I identify. I was told when I was a kid that I'd never be able to find a husband. Not that I was tall. I wasn't.

Meade buys food.

Some people thought the Meadhouse refrigeratorscape looked a little food-deprived. They were right. It was time for some food-gathering. Meade wanted all of you who were worried that we weren't eating enough to see what he brought home:



A Meadhouse mountain range...

... of bread.


Meade advocates keeping bread in this position. You don't need to wrap it up. Just put the cut side of the loaf down on the cutting board and it will stay fresh just as long. This assumes you've got "artisanal" bread. I don't argue about such things. But I do photograph them sometimes when so many artisanal loaves have lined up on the cutting board.

Who could have imagined that one day the Supreme Court would take a case called Schwarzenegger...

... and Schwarzenegger would be arguing for preventing young people from viewing graphic depictions of violence? That day has come.

Don't worry kids. If you can't get your hands on those video games, you can sit quietly on the sofa and watch an old Schwarzenegger movie.

It's a game... between life and death...

Yesterday, in Wisconsin.


Today, it's bright and sunny, but it's Monday. Everything balances out, perhaps. In fact, I love the misty days with heavily filtered light, and tromping about in the woods was lovely.


I love Mondays too, in fact. It's fun to serve up dollops of doctrine at 11 a.m.

And it's the last Monday like that until 4 months from now.


Silly WaPo headline: "Obama and Democrats appeal to new voters in midterms."

By "appeal," of course, they don't mean that voters find them appealing. I know that without reading the article. Is anyone clueless enough to think otherwise?

First paragraph:
President Obama is declaring his stake in the November midterm elections, as his Democratic Party prepares to announce an ambitious strategy to appeal to independent voters in its quest to maintain control of Congress.
Declare! Ambitious! Strategy! Appeal! Independent! Quest! Control!

Could you please settle down and become a newspaper?
Obama plans to issue a call-to-action video message to his supporters on Monday. Democratic officials called the video the first in a series of personal efforts designed to rekindle the grass-roots momentum that propelled Obama to the presidency -- this time, in a way that will benefit his party's congressional and gubernatorial candidates.
Let me try to understand. The Washington Post, which aspires to prestige in journalism, is front-paging the news that the President of the United States is going to release a campaign video and that he wants his party to win in the November elections? And it presents this non-news in cheesy PR language? Do the editors have no shame?

And what the hell does "designed to rekindle the grass-roots momentum" even mean? A presidential video is the opposite of grass roots.

Also, it's a mixed metaphor. Kindle... grass. Are we growing grass or burning things? Or did you mean to make me think of a prairie fire? Remember "Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism" (1974) by Bill Ayers, et al.? ("We are a guerrilla organization. We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years.")

That's not the image WaPo wanted, I'm sure. "The name came from a quote by Mao Zedong, 'a single spark can set a prairie fire.'"

Ambitious! Strategy! Quest! Control!

Will anybody shed a tear for the last...

... floppy?

"Why do I want more haters? If someone had told me when I signed up I'd get half a million haters... It's all about the approval."

When do celebrities quit Twitting? When they don't get the love they sought. Aw. Poor celebrities!

“I wouldn’t want to show proof of citizenship, but I also don’t feel it is racial profiling."

"You are going to look different if you are an alien, and cops know."

Says an Arizonan named — to the NYT's delight? — Mr. White.
[The new Arizona law] gives the local police broad powers to check documentation “when practicable” of anyone they reasonably suspect is an illegal immigrant....
What will be seen as constituting reasonable suspicion? How will it be possible not to unfairly burden all the Hispanic citizens?
“This law might kick some of these immigrants out,” said Mr. Lowis, 76.... “They vandalize the golf course, throwing flags in the ponds. Burglaries. There are too many immigrants. I get tired of seeing all these people standing on the corner.”

Such sentiments propelled the bill through the Republican-controlled Legislature, with supporters listing well-publicized cases in which illegal immigrants committed rapes and shot and killed police officers....
The linked article is called "Growing Split in Arizona Over Immigration."
No Democrats in the Legislature supported the bill, and only one Republican voted against it.

While those opposed to the law are making the most noise....
No details in this article about that.
... the quiet support can be found here, though some people are uneasy about being cast as anti-Hispanic and several people interviewed declined to be named out of concern they would be thought of as prejudiced.

“I don’t want people to be afraid to come,” said Pam Sutherland, who is a window manufacturer and a fan of the crime sweeps but is also concerned about the state’s image. “I just want them to do it legally.”

For many, though, support for the law comes down to a way to vent frustration that, in their view, the federal government has not done enough to control immigration — particularly in a state on the border where reports of drug busts, houses overcrowded with illegal immigrants and people dying in the desert trying to get here fill the airwaves.
So where's the "growing split"? I don't get the headline, and I sense the NYT's frustration looking for evidence of anti-Hispanic attitudes. Where is the discord? It seems like ordinary people are struggling with a serious problem and the ethics of solving it. (The 2 political parties are, of course, acting in accordance with their perceived political interests.)

April 25, 2010

At the Woodpecker Café...


Leave your mark.

"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans."

Stephen Hawking warns against contacting aliens.

A Meadhouse refrigeratorscape.



ADDED: The longer view:



A Meadhouse counterscape.



"The epistemic closure on the right is how other conservatives still manage to blind themselves to the pragmatic virtues of this president's remarkable 15 month record at home and abroad."


"I'm Jewish, and I don't even know how to drive a stick shift!"

Said Amanda Pogany, whose 1996 Honda Accord was stolen and, 3 years later, returned "with a brand-new V-8 engine, tinted windows, oversized tires with special hubcaps - and custom valve stem caps shaped like bullet casings... manual transmission... leather interior... and a Dominican flag and a giant wooden cross [hanging] from the rearview mirror."
When the car disappeared from her block in 2006, Pogany said cops laughed when she asked about tracking it down....
... Pogany had basically forgotten about the car, simply using the car-sharing service Zipcar instead....

An officer told Pogany that cops found her Honda while busting a Queens chop shop and were able to trace it back to her even though the VIN number had been filed off.

"I was like, 'Shut up!'" said Pogany, who teaches Judaic Studies and Hebrew language at the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan.

Turns out, a major car enthusiast bought the Honda from the thieves and then put a ton of work into it, police told her. He was in the middle of paying to put in the brand-new transmission when the raid occurred.

What should Pogany do now?
Sell the car to the "enthusiast" for a price equal to what she lost in the theft.
Put the car up on eBay and get the best price for it.
Learn to drive a stick shift and have fun. free polls

The Empire Diner.

We were there in 2008.

Empire Diner

"After nearly 35 years, the iconic Empire Diner in Chelsea is closing its doors."

"The guys who run these places can't control themselves. They're around beautiful naked women all night..."

"... but they don't understand they have to keep the hands off."

Says Matthew Blit, the NY lawyer who's been successful with sexual harassment lawsuits brought by the dancers who work in those places that are called "gentlemen's clubs."

When Mary Travers was thin, Mama Cass was radiant, and Joni Mitchell did not have multicolored fibers protruding from her skin.

They say everything can be replaced...

... but they are wrong.

Any day now, any day now...

Are you still looking toward the future, or do you look back to the gorgeous, unreachable past?

Crack Skull Bob is drawing the Sunday talking heads again.

An enticing snippet:

Read and see the whole hilarious thing.

"The Democratic disaster scenario would make absolute sense if it did not also require that the Republicans do something right."

"The whole world is expecting a cataclysm for the Democrats in November," Gail Collins concedes. But she notes what is obvious: You can't beat something with nothing. You can't run Not A Democrat. You have to dig up an actual Republican that real people will vote for. It's not so easy.


Also in today's NYT is this Jeff Zeleny/Adam Nagourney piece about how Democrats who've long held seats in the House of Representatives are finding their safe districts not so safe anymore.
Representative David R. Obey has won 21 straight races, easily prevailing through wars and economic crises that have spanned presidencies from Nixon’s to Obama’s. Yet the discontent with Washington surging through politics is now threatening not only his seat but also Democratic control of Congress.
Hey, Zeleny's in Ashland. Welcome to Wisconsin!
In the Seventh District of Wisconsin, which covers 17,787 square miles from the middle of the state to Lake Superior, signs of Mr. Obey’s service in Congress are found in new bridges, highway expansions and countless other projects. Yet there are fewer signs of Mr. Obey himself. At the Democratic Party office in Wausau, his hometown, campaign placards hang in the window for Senator Russ Feingold, but none for Mr. Obey.

When asked to discuss his re-election bid, Mr. Obey declined, saying that it was too early to begin talking politics and that he was focused on his legislative duties. “I have never met anyone who thought political campaigns were too short,” he said.
Can Obey take solace in the Gail Collin's theory about the dearth of Republican opponents?
Mr. Obey, 71, was elected two years before [Sean] Duffy, 38, was born. Mr. Duffy is widely seen as leading in the Republican primary — his opponent is the candidate who lost to Mr. Obey two years ago by 22 percentage points — and his race has drawn support from party leaders in Washington, Tea Party activists and Sarah Palin.

He has been elected four times as the district attorney of Ashland County, but the attention surrounding him began in 1997 when he was on MTV’s “The Real World: Boston.” 
"The Real World"! Were you still watching "The Real World" in 1997? I bailed after Season 5 (Miami). That show peaked in San Francisco (Season 3). Here's a list of all the seasons. Boston was Season 6.
He also is well-known here as a champion lumberjack sports competitor.

He said he decided to challenge Mr. Obey because of his leading role in the economic stimulus bill, health care legislation and the growth of government. “I know that I can have a serious impact on the direction of the country if I could take out Obey,” he said.
Take out?
But Mr. Obey, who has a campaign balance of $1.4 million compared with $400,000 for Mr. Duffy, is also emblematic of a bright spot for Democrats: a financial advantage.
That's something. But $400,000 is not nothing.

ADDED: Duffy is married to Rachel from "Real World" San Francisco. Now, that means something to me. Rachel, whose full name now is Rachel Campos-Duffy, was an out-and-proud Republican on the show. And Rachel and Sean now have 6 children: Evita Pilar, Xavier Jack, Lucia-Belen, John-Paul, Paloma Pilar, and MariaVictoria Margarita.

"Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy."

"I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress."

Says Senator Lindsey Graham, who is retaliating by withdrawing his support for the climate change and energy bill.
Progress on an energy and climate bill in the Senate has relied heavily on Mr. Graham’s active participation and support. He is the only Republican to have formally endorsed a broad approach to dealing with global warming and energy issues and is needed to try to bring in support from other Republicans.

Carol M. Browner, the White House coordinator for energy and climate policy, said that the administration would work to secure bipartisan agreement on both energy and immigration measures this year....
Bipartisan. That treasured principle. If you've got one person from the other party, you can try to assert that you're pursuing it. Without even one... people might notice the exaggeration.
[Senator Harry] Reid said that Mr. Graham was under “tremendous pressure” from fellow Republicans not to cooperate with Democrats on either energy or immigration. In a swipe, he added, “But I will not allow him to play one issue off of another, and neither will the American people. They expect us to do both, and they will not accept the notion that trying to act on one is an excuse for not acting on the other.”
I love Reid's purported channeling of "the American people," which, it seems, he needs to do really quickly, before actual Americans get to the polls in November and tell him what we really think.