May 29, 2010

Perfect game.

Roy Halladay.


The Rule of 3.

After Art Linkletter and Gary Coleman departed, the Rule of 3 demanded one more celebrity move on to the next world. And though he wasn't born to follow...

... Dennis Hopper followed.

Dennis Hopper has died.

Cancer. He was 74.

Talk about your favorite Dennis Hopper movies. "Easy Rider," "Blue Velvet," "Basquiat," "True Romance," "River's Edge," "Rumble Fish," "Apocalypse Now," "The Trip," "Head"... a huge list. And look at all the old TV shows he had parts in... "Surfside 6," "The Naked City," "The Millionaire," "Petticoat Junction," "Wagon Train," "Swiss Family Robinson"... on and on.

ADDED: This is "The Trip":

AND: Here he is talking about James Dean teaching him how to act:

Here's his screen test for Andy Warhol, from 1965:

AND: That great scene in "True Romance":

NOW: What kind of beer are you drinking?

AND: Don't wait for heaven, get out and fly, just glide there, through the clear air, making figure eights, through the pearly gates, where the soul and the universe meet....

"And I said, ‘Why did you let me marry this idiot?'"

"He said, ‘I thought you liked him! You look so happy. Your dress was so beautiful. I don’t know. Let me go!’ And I said, ‘Michael, how could you.’ He said, ‘It’s over, relax.’ Then we looked at each other and we started to laugh, we really started to laugh."

When Minelli manhandled Michael.

Malawi yields.

Pardons gay couple.

"Is there the slightest possibility that SATC2 is actually satirizing the shallow absurdity of its protagonists..."

"... but a large fraction of its audience has not realized that they are the target of its mockery?"

Answer: no.

Cat party.

And real cat wants nothing to do with it.

The unnatural complexities of marriage and motherhood.

A new translation of Simone de Beauvoir's "Second Sex" is reviewed by Francine du Plessix Gray. Here's a paragraph about marriage and motherhood:
Wedding nights “transform the erotic experience into an ordeal” that “often dooms the woman to frigidity forever.” It isn’t surprising, she adds, “that ‘conjugal duties’ are often only a repugnant chore for the wife.” “No one,” she argues, “dreams of denying the tragedies and nastiness of married life.” Conjugal love, in Beauvoir’s view, is “a complex mixture of attachment, resentment, hatred, rules, resignation, laziness and hypocrisy.” Even marriages that “work well” suffer “a curse they rarely escape: boredom.” Already alarmed? Wait until you come to the discussion of motherhood. A woman experiences the fetus as “a parasite.” “Maternity is a strange compromise of narcissism, altruism, dream, sincerity, bad faith, devotion and cynicism.” “There is nothing like an ‘unnatural mother,’ since maternal love has nothing natural about it.” It is significant that the only stage of a woman’s life Beauvoir has good things to say about is widowhood, which, in her view, most bear quite cheerfully. Upon losing their spouses, she tells us, women, “now lucid and wary, . . . often attain a delicious cynicism.” In old age, they maintain “a stoic defiance or skeptical irony.”...
[A] pivotal notion at the heart of “The Second Sex” ... is her belief that... “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” This preposterous assertion [is] intended to bolster her argument that marriage and motherhood are institutions imposed by men to curb women’s freedom....
De Beauvoir herself, did not marry. But her longtime companion Jean-Paul Sartre did propose to her. She told him he was being "silly."

"In an idyllic world, getting rid of 'don't ask, don't tell' and saying 'Everyone here is welcome' is great."

"But the policy actually allowed for a lot of protections.... Getting rid of it completely without modifying it is kind of worrisome. The number of incidents against gays in the military is going to increase."

"Which 'Hoity-Toity' Author Wants 'Chick-Lit Love'?"

"Feuds involving people named 'Weiner.'"

"As we mix the clay, the clay mixes us."

Clay-stomping (and artist-philosophy) for schoolkids.

A cool scene from that movie that led to Werner Herzog eating his shoe.

It's just this woman talking. Barely moving, but talking. She grew up on a farm...

The movie is "Gates of Heaven," a documentary about a pet cemetery, by Errol Morris. Herzog promised to eat his shoe if Morris finished his movie about a pet cemetery. At that link, you can watch the 20-minute film "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" ("We cooked it for 5 hours.")

"I think it's this long-term, intense loneliness that many people don't understand."

"They don't realise that loneliness can come alive, that it can start to snap and hound at a life."

Emily White — author of "Lonely: A Memoir" — writes:
I felt a certain dumbing down in the midst of my loneliness. I couldn't read as quickly or as well as I used to. I wasn't as imaginative. I said less. Without people around me, I began to feel as though I were taking up less space. I sometimes felt so ungrounded, so immaterial and unreal, that I thought I might just drift away....
I became less spontaneous, less confident and secure. Interacting with others, I had to hide my feeling of marginalisation, and since marginalisation had come to define my life, I wound up hiding most of myself. I wanted to turn back into the former me, the connected me, but I couldn't find my way back.

"Our minds are quite scattered with planning and remembering and tracking and we don't live much in the present."

"We can be so lost in our minds that we don't see the sunset over the Pacific, we don't see the eyes of our children when we come home, we don't see the garden."

"When people smoke marijuana, they smoke it to get high. In every case, when most people drink, they drink to be sociable."

Said Art Linkletter to Richard Nixon, who responded: "That's right, that's right. A person does not drink to get drunk. . . . A person drinks to have fun."

Nixon continues, in a global politics vein:
"I have seen the countries of Asia and the Middle East, portions of Latin America, and I have seen what drugs have done to those countries. Everybody knows what it's done to the Chinese, the Indians are hopeless anyway, the Burmese. . . . they've all gone down....
"Why the hell are those Communists so hard on drugs? Well why they're so hard on drugs is because, uh, they love to booze. I mean, the Russians, they drink pretty good. . . . but they don't allow any drugs."

"And look at the north countries... The Swedes drink too much, the Finns drink too much, the British have always been heavy boozers and all the rest, but uh, and the Irish of course the most, uh, but uh, on the other hand, they survive as strong races."
Nixon concludes that "drug societies... inevitably come apart." Linkletter agrees: "They lose motivation. No discipline." Nixon reaffirms the superiority of the American way of life: "At least with liquor, I don't lose motivation.”

P.J. O'Rourke wants newspapers to publish pre-obituaries for the not-yet-dead.

So they can have their feelings hurt.
The main advantage of the Pre-Obit over the traditional obituary is the knowledge of reader and writer alike that the as-good-as-dead people are still around to have their feelings hurt. It was a travesty of literary justice that we waited until J. D. Salinger finally hit the delete key at 91 before admitting that Catcher in the Rye stinks.....

Bea Arthur (1922-2009) performed a grievous disservice to popular culture by uniting two equally dreadful but previously discrete American types. In her portrayal of loud, Bolshie Maude, Arthur taught every angry feminist to be a common scold and every termagant housewife to be Emma Goldman. Once Arthur had become respectable by dying no one had the nerve to title her funeral notice “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Paul Newman (1925-2008) was not, in and of himself, a bad person. But he deserved to be damned to his face for lending charm to the smirk of liberalism. And after he’d become an immortal only a heartless writer would have pointed out that for an entire generation of young people, Paul Newman is, mainly, a salad dressing.

"We are not living off the grid as much as we are creating a new grid, a more wholesome grid."

Conservative Christians drop out.
"We are following a different path that we think is healthier, promotes better families, and better communities."...

"Christians should be looking for a way to take care of one another without forcing their neighbor to contribute to their welfare. In essence that's coveting your neighbor's goods through the agency of the governments you create."...

"Making the government an idol is the problem. That's what stands in the way of Christian sanctification... It's hands off mainly things like our family, our children, our bodies, our health, and even our money, the fruits of our labor. These don't belong to government."...

"We originally anticipated thousands and thousands of people overwhelming these smaller counties.... We had people moving, that were moving, but they were kind of putting the cart before the horse, because they weren't living independently. They were just showing up and saying 'Okay, where's my house and where's my job?' We're like, 'Uh, no, it doesn't work like that. '"....

"Personal secession are things like homeschooling, house churches, home gardening, home-based economics, just regaining privacy and a sense of community rather than worrying about what's going on in Washington, D.C... What's the latest thing from the Supreme Court?"

May 28, 2010

Obama "tells us he thinks that if he somehow gets people to think about him and how much he's thinking about what he thinks they think he should be thinking about"...

... he's done his job.

Now is that fair? He said:
My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.
This was at his press conference, and I think he was a little too frankly reciting his big talking point for the event. That's why he said "my job right now." Kind of like the time President George H.W. Bush said: "Message: I care."

A Madison bratscape.


(I have bratblogged before.)

The 1-word exam.

A tradition at Oxford, scrapped.

Sestak... Plame...


NYT: Rahm used Bill Clinton to ask Sestak to drop out of the Senate race.

According to a "briefed individual":
The White House did not offer Mr. Sestak a full-time paid position because Mr. Emanuel wanted him to stay in the House rather than risk losing his seat. Among the positions explored by the White House was an appointment to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, which provides independent oversight and advice the president. But White House officials discovered it would not work because Mr. Sestak could not serve on the board while still serving in Congress....

The office of Robert F. Bauer, the White House counsel, has concluded that Mr. Emanuel’s proposal did not violate laws prohibiting government employees from promising employment as a reward for political activity because the position being offered was unpaid. The office also found other examples of presidents offering positions to political allies to achieve political aims....

Whether that constitutes ordinary political horse trading or crosses a legal line has been debated in Washington for months. Democrats and some Republicans have said it is hardly unusual for presidents to offer political appointments to clear the way for allies. But Republicans have suggested such actions may constitute a crime.
I'm laughing at comment #3 over there:
First we had the outrageous hit job on Dick Blumenthal by Hernandez and others, and now this, granted, more responsible story about an event almost a year old, that doesn't exactly make the Democrats look good.

How about balancing the books by digging up, or slinging, dirt on the Republicans? There should be a lot yet to write about Bush, Cheney, Palin, Limbaugh, McMahon in Connecticut, etc.

Let's go, NY Times. How about some "fair and balanced?"

Why is President Obama skipping the traditional Memorial Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery?

You'd think with the criticism he's been getting lately — the meme is he's disengaged and doesn't care — that he would do the standard things Presidents do to show that he is caring and engaged. Here, you have a traditional ceremonial presence in a unique place on a specific day, and he leaves it to Biden.

Also, with "don't ask, don't tell" ending — or perhaps ending — Obama has an additional reason to make a showing of his dedication to veterans.

What is he thinking?

The Sistine Chapel.

An amazingly complete photographic view.

(WARNING: some nudity.)

Rush Limbaugh: "I know I am a target and I know I will be destroyed eventually."

"I fear that all I have accomplished and all the wealth I have accumulated will be taken from me, to the cheers of the crowd. I know I am hated and despised by the American Left."

(Via Instapundit.)

It's hard to imagine how it would feel to be singled out for such intense hostility for so long, especially if, at the same time, you were bathed in love from supporters, making huge piles of cash, and exercising immense power. It doesn't make sense to talk about whether he sounds paranoid. We're not seeing the hate mail and threats he receives. We don't know the security precautions he needs to take. Who knows what it would be like to be a sane man in that position? But he should also see that he has been able to build his media empire and speak freely, attacking government officials over the public airwaves for 15 hours a week, year after year. They haven't stopped him.

Maybe, in the end they will stop him. And then, think of the glee! The cries of joy will be even louder than the celebration that broke out yesterday when the feds charged Kenneth Starr, the prosecutor who persecuted President Clinton, with.... uh oh uh never mind.....

Female legal secretaries critique female lawyers.

Lawprof Felice Batlan surveyed 164 legal secretaries:
Legal secretaries said they preferred to work for male associates and partners. In written responses, the secretaries said females were emotional and demanding, with "more to prove" and a penchant to "put on airs," the story says.

"Working for a woman exposes some very complex class dynamics," Batlan told Missouri Lawyers Media. "A woman working for a man is naturalized," she said. "It's what's expected. It seems ordinary."

May 27, 2010

Subliminal sex on Drudge.

Clipped from the screen of Drudge, just now. The link goes to news of Obama's press conference:
... Obama said the gulf is the first thing on his mind in the morning and the last thing as he goes to bed, and that even his young daughters ask him about it. 
"When I woke up this morning and I'm shaving," he said, "Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, 'Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?'"

At the Pink Peony Café...


... a toast!

Do you have to plan? But then if it's all planned...

[Redacted] Guy wants to have sex in a public place just once before he dies. But he has 4 fears...

The Obama press conference.

Here's the NYT live-blog.

So far, it's all about the oil spill. Is this his Katrina? He declines to say.

ADDED: He's asked about the Sestak mess, and he declines to answer. He's going to answer that later.

Russ Feingold 46%, Ron Johnson 44%.

That's "virtually even."

ADDED: George Will writes his column today about Ron Johnson:
This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh, Wis., is what the Tea Party looks like.

He is trim, gray-haired and suddenly gray-suited. For years he has worn jeans and running shoes to his office...

The theme of his campaign, the genesis of which was an invitation to address a Tea Party rally, is: "First of all, freedom." Then? "Then you've got to put meat on the bones." He gets much of his meat from the Wall Street Journal's opinion pages....

"The most basic right," Johnson says, "is the right to keep your property." Remembering the golden age when, thanks to Ronald Reagan, the top income tax rate was 28 percent, Johnson says: "For a brief moment we were 72 percent free."
Here's video of Johnson speaking at the April 15th Tea Party in Madison. I saw some of the speakers there that day, when Tommy Thompson dropped out of the Senate race, creating the opportunity for new Republicans to run.

Where to eat in Madison, Wisconsin.

As recommended by the UW Law School faculty and staff.

"I know enough about a lot of things to be interesting, but I’m not interested enough in any one thing to be boring."

"I’m like everybody’s next-door neighbor, only a little bit smarter."

That sounds like something a blogger might say, but it was Art Linkletter, speaking in 1965, back when he was one of the most familiar faces on television. He died yesterday at the age of 97.

I remember watching him when I was a kid. He had kids on his show.

Being a kid, I was very interested in... how do I get on that show?

Later, young people my age turned against him. It had to do with this:
In 1969 Mr. Linkletter’s daughter Diane leapt to her death from her sixth-story apartment. Her father said that LSD had contributed to her death, and although an autopsy showed no signs of the drug in her body, the personal tragedy became a national event, suggesting to many Americans that drugs and the counterculture were making inroads even into seemingly model families like the Linkletters.

Mr. Linkletter, rather than retreating from the attention, became a crusader against drug use and an adviser to President Richard M. Nixon on drug policy...
Oh, how we callow youths mocked the poor man who, having lost his daughter, wanted to spoil our good times. LSD became associated with the urge to leap from windows and rooftops — an idea that many took seriously but many others — e.g., everyone I knew — thought was hilarious. Some of us seem to remember a National Lampoon illustration picturing the daughter at her window gazing at a hallucination of Art Linkletter floating in the air and beckoning to her.  I hope we won't go to hell for laughing at things like that.

Meanwhile, in heaven, there's "gold and diamonds." That's from the first kid interview in the YouTube clip above. Art asks little Roger Wong — a kid who wants to be a doctor — what heaven is like, and the kid says "gold and diamonds." Art suggests that, as a doctor, the boy will "keep people from going to heaven," which the boy takes the wrong way and denies. Art has to rephrase it: "I mean, you're just going to delay them a little, aren't you?"

Strangely, the same joke — that saving lives is only delaying death — appears in the current issue of The Onion. Humor is a funny thing. Sometimes cornball and hip merge, like that, and sometimes they are so thoroughly different — as with that beckoning hallucination — that it drives a sharp wedge between us.


... in your backyard — in southern Wisconsin.

Songs that equate the feeling of love to the symptoms of illness.

Help me compile a list of songs that compare the effects of love (or sexual feeling) to illness. I've been struggling with a virus — it's making the rounds here in Madison — that begins with the symptom called vertigo (the sense of reeling and whirling). I'm interested in the way songs often describe love or the effect of a lover's embraces as if it were producing this effect — and as if it's were wonderfully delightful. It's not.

I'll start with this:

There's a related category: Songs that equate the absence of love to illness (and love to health). I was feelin'... so bad, I asked my family doctor just what I had...

Willie Nelson cuts his hair...

... but not enough.

I'm not enjoying the jaunty bob on an old man.

"Top kill" stops the BP leak!

Great news at last. I hope it's true.

"Pregnancy is an extremely contested area of human relationships."

"It’s likely that there are women who try to get pregnant on purpose in order to maintain or change a relationship. But now we can also say that there is another part of this story that we have not paid enough attention to: men’s direct role in promoting pregnancy against women’s wishes. It’s not the only cause of teen pregnancy, but it’s one that we’d managed to miss for a very long time."

Have we really missed this? I thought it was the oldest story in the book — embodied in the phrase "keep them barefoot and pregnant."

"There I was, former president of the United States, with a plastic bag in my hand, picking up what I had been dodging for eight solid years."

George W. Bush makes a poop joke.

May 26, 2010

At the White Peony Café...


... be delightful all night long.

Kagan: 41% favorable, 47% unfavorable.

Why? She's the President's pick, an apparently highly competent and amiable person, and she's not on record with much of anything specific. Why the hostility?
By comparison, the president’s first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, maintained favorables around 50% through the first three surveys following her selection, with unfavorables falling to 40%.
Maybe it's just that Obama himself has gotten less popular.

And the blue-eyed boy beats the single mom.

America picks Lee.

In the garden...







"And it just looks like he's not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this!"

"Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We're about to die down here!"

"By structuring Race to the Top in the guise of a competition, Obama cleverly gets states on board with his formulas for school reform they would have otherwise resisted."

"Even if a state doesn't get a dollar of federal funding, the competition is making it easier to start new charter schools, subject teachers to private sector-style performance management, and force districts to fix their schools. It also forces states to begin addressing the single biggest threat to their fiscal solvency: the $600 billion in unfunded teachers' pensions and retirement obligations. Best of all, these steps cannot be easily overturned (unless the state wants to lose future federal funding). It also means that Obama isn't accused of imposing unfunded mandates on state and local governments even if, in essence, that's exactly what he is doing."

"They were only in study groups together. They weren't friends. Yet he now goes on TV every night yammering on about her."

The NY Post reports what "one source" says about Jeffrey Toobin and Elena Kagan.

IN THE COMMENTS: danielle says:
this snippet is like teenage gossip where somone (Jeffrey in this case) knows the cool kids, but they dont like him as much as he thinks they do and so they make fun of him behind his back.

"And when in doubt, go with the particularly American feelings about gender that would rather see Martha Stewart go down than Lee Iacocca..."

"... that would choose almost anybody, for any public office, over Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sarah Palin's entire narrative is based on the audacity, the sheer gall. Accusations of female arrogance have been big over the last year, taking up about half of the political discourse and even more of the conversation about entertainment...."

"What makes Rand Paul’s position... noteworthy is that it’s a pure, unadulterated expression of Lockean anti-statism with little admixture of Hobbesian sentiments at all."

"Paul, like many libertarians and Tea Party activists, is so obsessed with the possibility that the state might commit an injustice that he’s indifferent to the reality of actually existing injustice at the hands of private citizens. As far as these radical Lockeans are concerned, the former is tyranny, pure and simple, while the latter is just life: yeah, it’s sometimes unfair, but freedom requires that we (or rather, in this case, blacks living under Jim Crow in the South) get over it."

"Police chiefs from about a dozen cities are scheduled to meet with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday to talk about concerns they have with Arizona's new immigration law."

"The chiefs will tell Holder that they worry the new law will 'drive a wedge' between the community and police, and damage the trust that officers have worked to build 'over many years'...."

It's political theater, of course. But wouldn't the show work better if the script weren't circulated to the press in advance? Why not create the sense that there will be an actual meeting — a vivid exchange of ideas culled from real-life experience in different cities across the nation? Then afterwards, deliver what seems to be a surprising consensus that the new law will drive a wedge between the community and police and damage the trust that officers have worked to build over many years.

Where's the theatrical magic needed to induce the suspension of disbelief?

May 25, 2010

"So, putting on the shorts and tank top to catch that too-brief northern summer sun and placing a giddy Trig in his toddler backpack for a lawn-mowing adventure..."

"... I looked up in surprise to see a 'new neighbor' overlooking my property just a stone’s throw away. Needless to say, our outdoor adventure ended quickly after Todd went to introduce himself to the stranger who was peering in...."

Okay. So a journo-stalker — Joe McGinniss — has moved in next door to Sarah Palin. That happened. But I'm distracted by the idea of Sarah Palin mowing her own lawn while wearing a baby in a backpack.


Back when I had my first baby, I thought it would be great to use a backpack, and I used it exactly once, and only for a few minutes. It was terrible! I'm not going to carry anything that weighs more than 3 pounds unless I really have to.

That reminds me... I've been listening to these New Yorker podcasts of authors reading other authors' short stories.  I love them. It's cool to hear the voice of an author who really loves some other author's story. The first one I listened to was Monica Ali reading Joshua Ferris’s "The Dinner Party" (which you can live stream at that link or download.) At one point in that story, 2 characters are showing what seems to be a present-day attitude about baby carriers versus strollers:
“How much you wanna bet they buy a stroller?”
“A stroller?”
“A stroller.”
“A stroller,” she said. “To cart the baby around.”
He put cheese on a cracker. “For to cart the baby around in, yes,” he said.
“And you, if you had a baby, there’d be no stroller, right, because it would be oh so predictable? Absolutely no stroller?”
“I was thinking we could duct-tape the child,” he said. “It would be cheaper.”
“Like a BabyBjörn, but duct tape.”
“Would the baby face in or out?”
“If it was sleeping, in. Not sleeping, kind of kicking its feet, wanting to see the world, duct-tape it out, so it has a view.”
“Allowing the child to be curious,” she said. “Feeding its desire to marvel at this new experience called life.”
“Something like that.”
“The child must be so relieved that I’m barren,” she said.
He left the kitchen. He stood in the living room with his drink, listening to the sounds of her cooking.
What that says about Sarah Palin, I'll leave it to you to divine.

"The more he talked, the more he got upset... He needs to take a valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans..."

"... and just calm down, and don’t take anything so seriously. If you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re attacking their motives — and he takes it that way and tends then to lecture and then gets upset."

Said Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) about President Barack Obama.

"My wife calls me Mr. Clueless."

Says Justice Scalia, sitting next to Justice Breyer, who seems quite a bit less clueless.

"My gut feeling here is that Sestak is holding this alleged proffer of a job over the White House's head to try and make sure that the West Wing does everything it can to support his candidacy."

"That's bothersome, because it means that someone believes they can use an allegation to divert the attention and resources of the seat of government. I also think the White House, and Rahm, have plausible legal-political-practical defenses. Moreover, Sestak might have decided to overstate the terms of the proffer -- maybe Rahm just floated the idea -- to puff up the drama to the story. The admiral was known for being a savvy political player when he was on active duty."

A nasty mess.

ADDED: Blackfive quotes Sestak's pathetic stonewalling on "Meet the Press" and says:
[T]he fact that Joe Sestak -- even after being called a liar by Robert Gibbs -- has not come forward and made a statement to the authorities about felony corruption he claims to have witnessed says something about Joe Sestak.  And what it says is this:  Joe Sestak is either a coward, a liar, a political sycophant or -- and this is where I'd put my money -- all three of these things.  
(Via Fen, in the comments here.)

"One of the things that I find really cool about her is what I consider her caginess."

"And I think maybe the mystery surrounding her, and that sort of silence that she decided to maintain with the media, that becomes part of the legend of the book."

So said Wally Lamb, about Harper Lee. Both Lamb and Lee liken Lee to Boo Radley, a character in Lee's book "To Kill a Mockingbird," which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.


I blogged about "Mockingbird"
back in 2005, noting: 1. the Law Review essay I wrote defending Atticus Finch from a feminist attack and 2. the controversy about whether Truman Capote actually wrote the book. That last link goes to a blog post where I participate in the comments thread:
I actually think "Mockingbird" isn't a good enough work of art to be Capote's. People love it, but... it's rather cartoonish artistically. It's didactic and lacks complexity. He could have helped her, but it doesn't seem to represent his mind.
It's a funny thread, with Jeremy (the blogger) at one point saying:
... I just finished spending the last five hours reading In Cold Blood from cover-to-cover. I was skeptical of the idea that this was the same author who had written To Kill a Mockingbird, until at the end where they are going to hang one of the killers and they dress him in a giant ham costume.


A free iPhone app:
PocketJustice brings the U.S. Supreme Court down to earth through abstracts of the Court's constitutional decisions and access to its public sessions. The application includes voting alignments and biographical sketches for all 110 justices. PocketJustice harnesses recordings of the Court's public proceedings to deliver hundreds of hours of oral arguments and opinion announcements. In many of these cases, PocketJustice provides synchronized, searchable transcripts identifying all speakers. This version offers information and audio for the top 100 constitutional law cases. 
Wow! Downloaded.

"6 Ways Rand Paul Is Like Sarah Palin."

Collected by Max Fisher:
  1. Troubled 'Great White Hopes' of Hard Right...
  2. Hostile to Media...
  3. Their 'Artless Honesty'...
  4. Use 'Dog Whistle' Politics...
  5. Call Obama 'Un-American'...
  6. Both Get Made Fun of a lot... "How to describe Rand Paul? I mean, he's a doctor. It's as if Sarah Palin somehow made it through medical school."
Links and details at the link.

"I kind of see myself as a man of God and being like Joseph."

"In a sense, I feel like a bear, coming out of hibernation. Like, they come out to eat, mine would be coming out to enjoy what I have missed."

"Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?"

"Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature...."

"Watch J.J. Abrams Say 'Lost' Is Not About That Thing It Turned Out to Sort of Be About."

"We're sure in the weeks to come, there will be lots of discussion about the distinctions between 'purgatory' and 'heaven,' and 'the afterlife' and 'being dead,' and 'misleading information' and 'flash sideways is not the island,' and 'when did the Lost creators actually know how the show was going to end' and 'why didn't Darlton care at all about the show's mythology?!' — but in the instant aftermath of the finale, it seems that something sort of like purgatory, insofar as purgatory is a place full of dead people, did in fact have something to do with this here series called Lost."

Hey, you know what would really be funny? After we really die, if we find ourselves somewhere and we're talking about the distinctions between "purgatory" and "heaven," and "the afterlife" and "being dead," and somebody says "Deja vu! This is like exactly the same conversation I had after the last episode of Lost."

"Dear Lord: As You probably know, because I guess You sort of know everything, I’m thinking about having a mini brow lift..."

"... lipo on my neck, waist, hips, and thighs; a chin reduction; an ear job; fat injections in my cheeks, nasolabial folds, and lips; a revision of my previous rhinoplasty; a redo of my earlier breast implants; Botox injections in my forehead and frown area; and a buttocks augmentation, if that is Thy will. I won’t go ahead with any of this if You don’t approve, but I keep thinking, Why would God have made my plastic surgeon, Dr. Frank Ryan, so totally cute if He didn’t want me to use him? Although, of course, I also wondered, Why did God make my hips and thighs, both inner and outer, a teeny bit chunky, and why did He dig those grooves around my nose?"

"I'd also like to know whether Paul really believes in a conspiracy among the U.S., Canadian and Mexican governments..."

"... to turn North America into a 'borderless, mass continent' bisected by a 10-lane superhighway. Because that's what he said in 2008. 'It's a real thing,' he said of the imaginary threat to U.S. sovereignty, 'and when you talk about it, the thing you just have to be aware of is that if you talk about it like it's a conspiracy, they'll paint you as a nut.' Very little paint is needed."

"Now, Limbaugh has a mantra: 'Real conservatism wins every time it's tried.' "

"By 'real conservative,' he means Reaganite conservatism. Whether that's true or not remains to be seen. But it looks to me like it's going to be tested in 2010. And if the Republican Party, having moved to the Limbaugh-Reagan right, scores a big victory, I think that's going to be interpreted in the Republican party as vindication of Limbaugh's belief."

So says Zev Chafets, who has a big new book about the big man. Nice excerpt from the book at the link. And here's an Althouse-blog-supporting link for buying the book.

"Years ago, I watched an array of law students lingering in a hotel lobby, waiting to be interviewed by visiting firms."

Writes Wendy Kaminer:
The men were completely, conventionally covered by their suits; the women seemed half naked by comparison, in fitted jackets, often showing a little cleavage, and above the knee, or shorter, skirts. Maybe they hoped to benefit from these reveals, but I suspect they were subtly disadvantaged by them. The men were free to focus on their interviews; at least some women were likely to be distracted (however, unconsciously) by concern about their looks and the need to sit and display themselves appropriately. How much skin is just enough? Stilettos, kitten heels, or flats? Hollywood or D.C? These are questions men never have to ask. Will they ever cease to matter to women?
Okay. My bullshit alarm went off. What year was this? In what city did this supposedly happen? I see law students dressed for interviews all the time, and as far as I can tell from my excellent perspective, this problem Kaminer would like us to fret about does not exist. Women law students know how to dress exactly appropriately for interviews.

I'm reacting to the ending of a piece titled "Kagan, Palin, and Lipstick Feminism," which is mainly riff on that Robin Givhan column about the way Elena Kagan dresses. Kaminer begins:
What do Elena Kagan and Sarah Palin have in common?  They each offer complementary cautionary tales about the continuing appeal of an ersatz, "Sex in the City" feminism that rewards beauty and punishes plainness with all the subtlety and compassion of a Playboy centerfold.  Kagan's appearance and fashion sense are mocked or savaged, especially but not exclusively by pundits on the right, following a familiar script.  Hillary Clinton and Janet Napolitano endured similar hazings.  Sarah Palin, to say the least, did not. 
You know, the standards of male and female beauty are different. That isn't wrong. We talk about how everybody looks. And we poke fun at anybody who exercises power. It's not wrong. It's right. It's perfectly fine to talk about the glamorous or dowdy way some female politico dresses. We talk about men's clothes too, even though it's usually a more boring subject because professional men stay within a narrower range of options.
Men are armored by their unrevealing suits; women are expected to expose themselves, with various degrees of discretion. 
Oh, bullshit. Women aren't expected to expose themselves. We don't even have to wear skirts anymore. Hillary gets away with pantsuits and complete coverage. If she chooses to expose herself, we're going to notice, and we will talk about it. But it is true that men are "armored by their unrevealing suits." Here, I talk with Robin Givhan about exactly that (in 2007):

Older entrepreneurs.

When you're 55+, maybe it's a good time for adventure and risk-taking.

As "American Idol," the season, comes to an end tonight, we've got to wonder if "American Idol," the series, is also dying.

It's fallen in the ratings, and this season seemed wan...
Lead judge Simon Cowell is fleeing to bring Fox his own show next year, the British hit "The X Factor," though rumors fly that producers are talking about Cowell's retaining some sort of on-air role with "Idol." Although plenty of names have been bandied about — Harry Connick Jr., Jamie Foxx, Elton John — producers have been mum about who will replace him....
Mum, probably because they don't have a good name. Connick is the best of those 3, all of whom were guest mentors this season. The worst is Elton John, though he does have an English accent. 
"I don't think anyone can replace Simon; he became the Capt. Kirk of the show," said veteran reality producer Scott Sternberg, who is not connected to "Idol."
Because you could never do a "Star Trek" season without Captain Kirk.

And then there was Ellen:
"She played it very safe," Sternberg said. "She said not a lot, a few jokes here and there. She was extraordinarily neutral. … I'm not sure whether Fox reaped the benefits of casting her."
Eh. Sternberg's kind of dense. Ellen did what she was supposed to. She kept it brief and provided humor and niceness. But it really was a mistake to think it was a good idea to have a judge with no music expertise.

Anyway... we're still watching. I guess I hope Lee wins, even though it's annoyed me that the judges have shown extreme favoritism for him over these last few weeks. He's the paint store guy, the everyman, who went through the classic narrative arc. Crystal began and ended the same way: excellent, secure, professional. She maintained her cool and didn't get swept up in the show the way they wanted. There's something nicely subtle and modest about her that will work better without the burden of winning the show.

A poll, to be answered only by people who care about the outcome tonight. That is, there's no "who cares?" option, because I don't care that a lot of people don't care. I mean, duh. Don't vote if you don't care.

Who should win?
Crystal free polls

9/11 and the death of unborn boys.

This is strange:
A study in BMC Public Health found 12% more male babies were lost in September 2001 after the 20th week of pregnancy than in a "normal" September.

Data says fewer boys were born in all states three to four months after 9/11....

Dr Tim Bruckner, who led the research at the University of California, Irvine... said: "Across many species, stressful times reportedly reduce the male birth rate.

"This is commonly thought to reflect some mechanism conserved by natural selection to improve the mother's overall reproductive success."

"What is going on at the deep level of the brain is pretty much the same everywhere."

"But of course how we talk and think about it, what we do to show it to others, etc., may well be shaped by culture."

"Merton told me he could be perfectly faithful to Christianity, yet learn in depth from other religions like Buddhism."

"The same is true for me as an ardent Buddhist learning from the world’s other great religions."

May 24, 2010

At the Dog Love Café...


... we're always here. For you.

The nuclear option... in the Gulf of Mexico.

Quite aside from that madness — it is madness, isn't it? — how can President Obama go on and on waiting and blaming BP?
There’s no doubt. The responsibility to run the effort to stanch the oil flow lies with the White House. It was pretty clear on May 14 and is clearer now: Move over, BP.

"I can't seem to get a strike to save my soul..."

"... but, fortunately, the salvation of my soul doesn't depend on my getting a strike."

Recognize the artist?

"Every murderous totalitarian government of the 20th century began with some insulated group of faux-intellectuals congratulating each other on how smart they are..."

"... and fantasizing about how, if they could just install a dictatorship-for-a-day, they could right all the wrongs in the world. It is the ultimate fantasy of the narcissist. And we’ve got whole generations of them, in control of our media and our government, all intent on 'remaking America.'"

"If you are building a business model that says that people can only copy things with your permission..."

"... your business is going to fail because whether or not you like it, people will be able to copy your product without your permission. The question is: what are you going to do about that? Are you going call them thieves or are you going to find a way to make money from them?"

"David Byrne Sues Florida Gov. Charlie Crist For $1 Million."

Crist used the song "Road to Nowhere," without permission, in a campaign ad.
"I was pretty upset by that," says Byrne, who had Warner Bros. Records contact the Crist campaign, which subsequently stopped using the ad. But, Byrne contends, "in my opinion the damage had already been done by it being out there. People that I knew had seen (the ad), so it had gotten around. The suit, he adds, "is not about politics...It's about copyright and about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and endorsed him and whatever he stands for."
What makes anybody think that's okay? Byrne's lawyer noticed that Jackson Browne successfully sued John McCain in 2008 for using "Running on Empty."

Nowhere... Empty... funny what these politicians identify with.

Sometimes I struggle over the appropriate taste level for the Althouse blog.

I was considering blogging this. Help me out:

Is that suitable for the Althouse blog?
No way!
I'm on the line, so maybe link but don't embed.
Do something cagey like a poll about it. free polls

"What do you think is interesting about the visual effect of the drug?"

"It makes people look very sexy – a lot of it is to do with the dilated eyes and increased sensual awareness the chemical causes."

Oh? Say yes to this:

"Althouse ends up more or less agreeing with us, so of course we more or less agree with her."

Says James Taranto. He concludes:
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, subject of the current national conversation about race, was necessary not because "we're all racists"--indeed, if we are, such a law would seem to be an exercise in futility--but because a racist doctrine dominated, and defined the laws of, a region of the country. If "racism" is just a universal human shortcoming, then what was the point of condemning Jim Crow?
Violent urges are universal (or nearly so), yet we outlaw all sorts of acts of violence. We don't pretend that because we've criminalized murder, assault, and rape that we've eradicated violent urges. By the same token, if we enact a law that prohibits various harmful actions that people might take based on racist thoughts,  we don't pretend that we've eradicated the thoughts. We've come together as a nation over the belief that certain actions are wrong, but we might still want to look into our own hearts and question how good we really are.

I can think of 2 reasons why we might want to do this, even if we feel quite sure we're far from the stereotypical ugly racist.

1. We may aspire to a higher morality than the conventional norm. I think of Jesus saying "Be perfect... as your heavenly Father is perfect."

2. We might be deluded about the positions and policies we believe are right. Perhaps there are some deep or repressed beliefs about race that underlie something we think will do good. For example, those who support affirmative action should want to make sure that they are not motivated by racial prejudices that they are in denial about. So should those who oppose it. Doubt yourself. Test yourself. Don't be complacent.

Iggy Pop says law is for "for hideous bald fat dead people. The living dead."

"In America, in school... I learnt creative writing, I learnt advanced algebra and geometry, but I didn’t learn there was such a thing as intellectual property. I didn’t learn how to read a contract. And I didn’t care about those things. Those things were for hideous bald fat dead people. The living dead. They still are, but now I do my living-dead s***work every day. And I can feel the hair follicles reacting.”

"The rather scathing portrayal of Muslim society no doubt will stir controversy, especially in a frothy summer entertainment..."

"... but there's something bracing about the film's saucy political incorrectness. Or is it politically correct? 'SATC 2' is at once proudly feminist and blatantly anti-Muslim, which means that it might confound liberal viewers."

Oh! Poor liberals! Beset on all sides. Even "Sex and the City" has turned on them.
Indicative of the film's contradictory stance is a scene in which the ladies perform a karaoke version of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" in an Abu Dhabi nightclub. An equally outrageous moment comes when the interlopers are rescued by a bunch of Muslim women who strip off their black robes to reveal the stylish Western outfits they are concealing beneath their discreet garb."
Ha. Check out the trailer:

Being Prime Minister was Tony's idea first!

A hilarious use of YouTube (found via Drudge). I'm jumping over the first minute or so to make it funnier, but feel free to drag the slider back to the beginning if you're the leisurely sort:

What Venus wore.

I question the hat.

ADDED: The most shocking picture has been relocated. It's here. It looks NSFW, and since NSFW is really only about how things look, it is NSFW.

"Little Dog Eats Fat Juicy Water Bugs at Sewer Air Vent."

A recent post on a photoblog that ended last Tuesday, bringing perfect meaning to its name, Neither More Nor Less, since there will be no more, but what is there — lots of fat juicy stuff — will not go away.

Christopher Hitchens admits that he's one of "those men who were never really in battle and wished they had been."

His wife said that, back in 2006, adding: "There's a whole tough-guy, 'I am violent, I will use violence, I will take some of these people out before I die' talk, which is key to his psychology – I don't care what he says. I think it is partly to do with his upbringing."

He now says it's true: "Yeah. Yes. One of the things I've realised, writing the book, is that it has to be true."

What did he feel on September 11, 2001?
"[E]xhilaration. Because I thought, now we have a very clearly drawn confrontation between everything I hate and everything I love. There is something exhilarating about that. Because, OK, now I know what I'm doing."...

"Do I ask myself... do I think our civilisation is superior to theirs? Yes, I do. Do I think it's worth fighting for? Most certainly."...

"Guantánamo slightly threatened at one point to change my attitude towards capital punishment. I thought it would have been good if some of those people could have been taken out and shot. Yeah, put up against a wall. Lincoln would have done it. Of course, I would have been against it if they had. But that's how I felt."
And he still believes believes he was right about the war in Iraq: "Yes, absolutely. I was right and they were wrong, that's pretty much it in a nutshell."

His mother thought there was "one unforgivable sin." It was "to be boring." And, according to the author of the linked article, there's a connection between the avoidance of boredom and the indulgence in alcohol:
He can't really manage eye contact. Once noon arrives, though, he brightens up, proposing the first scotch of the day with one of those bluff jokes about rules for drinking so dear to saloon bar bores the world over....

It seems to me so evidently the case that Hitchens is an alcoholic that to say much more feels unnecessary. But for the record, he trots out all the usual self-serving, defensive evasions: "For me, an alcoholic is someone who can't hold his drink" or, "I'm not dependent, but I'd prefer not to be without it." The longest he has ever been was a dry weekend "in fucking Libya", and he claims he drinks only to make other people less boring. So, presumably, he doesn't drink when he's with Amis? "Er, yuh, I do."

I wouldn't say he's exactly boring himself when dry, but drink certainly makes him livelier company than the 10am sober version, and we pass a highly enjoyable few hours in a pub garden, during which he tries out successive renditions of a Shakespearean sonnet, Being Your Slave, What Should I Do But Tend, on the photographer [a beautiful woman, who, earlier, had expressed disbelief in the effectiveness of seducing women with poetry].
Now, doesn't that make you want to read his memoir? It's "Hitch 22."

May 23, 2010

"[W]hat if we could just be China for a day?... You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions...."

"... and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment.  I don't want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness.  But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions."

So said Thomas Friedman on "Meet the Press" today. And the funniest part of him saying that wasn't the horrible vision of America as a dictatorship.... though it must be hilarious to think of America as a dictatorship, because famous funnyman Woody Allen said it too: "It would be good… if [President Obama] could be dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly." Nor was it the fact that he said it and at the same time tried to deny that he was saying it with all that "I don't want to be China for a second, OK" business.

No, the funniest part was that he said it right after he deplored the way the political center has been "decimated" in part by the "an Internet where I can create a digital lynch mob against you from the left or right if I don't like where you're going." He's reminding us Internet folk of our lynch-mob powers and then throws us the rope to hang him with that wish that "we could just be China for a day." Come on, everybody, let's destroy Thomas Friedman for saying he knows all the "right solutions" and wishes — or would wish if he could get away with it — that we could have a dictatorship to get it done. 

A love of autocracy often lurks beneath the liberal veneer. There's this idea that the right answers are known and the people are just too deluded and distorted to see what they are and to vote for them. And Friedman openly deplores the internet, which decimates moderation because there are people like me who who persecute elite truthbearers like him. Ooh! It's a lynch mob. Ha. Sorry. I don't want the rope. I just want to laugh at you.

It's late now. Let me sign off with a crazy old song that supposed to be beautiful but that's really dreadful, the way Friedman's lament is dreadful:
If I ruled the world, every man would be as free as a bird,
Every voice would be a voice to be heard
Take my word we would treasure each day that occurred
My world would be a beautiful place
Where we would weave such wonderful dreams
My world would wear a smile on its face
Like the man in the moon has when the moon beams
If I ruled the world every man would say the world was his friend
There'd be happiness that no man could end
No my friend, not if I ruled the world
Every head would be held up high
There'd be sunshine in everyone's sky
If the day ever dawned when I ruled the world

What did Mark Twain write...

... that he insisted we wait 100 years after his death to read?

At the Unpopped Iris Café...


... you can pop off about anything.

"In the photographs of Kagan sitting and chatting in various Capitol Hill offices, she doesn't appear to ever cross her legs."

Robin Givhan, the WaPo fashion critic observes that the Supreme Court nomineee sits "with her legs ajar":
Her posture stands out because for so many women, when they sit, they cross. People tend to mimic each other's body language during a conversation, especially if they're trying to connect with one another. But even when Kagan sits across from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has her legs crossed at the knees, Kagan keeps both feet planted firmly on the ground. Her body language will not be bullied into conformity.

She does not cross her legs at the ankles either, the way so many older women do.
Yeah, we were taught, strictly, that a woman should cross her legs at the ankles and only at the ankles.
Instead, Kagan sits, in her sensible skirts, with her legs slightly apart, hands draped in her lap. 
Here's the class picture from my kindergarten, around 1957:

Kindergarten class 1957

Looks like the girl at the far left has Supreme Court potential. And I don't.


I've displayed that picture before on the blog, back in 2006. From that post:
I think it's cute that they got nearly all the girls to cross our legs at the ankles, which was considered the only proper way for a female to cross her legs.


Does the position of Kagan's legs matter?
Yes, but only to the extent that aesthetics and style matter.
Yes, as a clue to how she thinks and feels and thus to how she will decide cases.
No, the visual aspects of a person are trivia, at best.
No. If leg position indicated judicial style, she'd pose the way that said whatever was useful. free polls