June 5, 2010

At the Trillium Café...


... let's get together.

What's that brown ooze?

And why all the egg cartons?

Wait. This is nicer. Or is it? The evil you don't see is scarier, perhaps. I'm getting a "The Shining" vibe from it.

Maybe this one will make you happier.

Helen Thomas...

... had enough of her yet?

Rush Limbaugh crashed a wedding... and it made him want to get married again.

"[Limbaugh] set the date to make much younger Kathryn 'Kate' Rogers his bride after slipping into a Washington, D.C., wedding when they were in town to take in a Redskins game, say insiders. 'Rush had so much fun at the event, he made up his mind it was time to set the date,' a source close to the right-wing firebrand told The ENQUIRER."

Ah, yes! I remember the show where he talked about that. Here — September 21, 2009 — "Rush Limbaugh, Wedding Crasher":
So the band kicks up and starts playing music and people start strolling by and looking with the most perplexed facial expressions, "Who? What the hell is he doing here? Why is the guy on the microphone at the band saying 'Rush Limbaugh is in the house'?" So the groom comes over and he has a big smile on his face, "Hi, I'm the groom."... Then the bride came over and she brought the official wedding photographer with her, and we are posing -- now, follow me on this -- we're posing for pictures, you know, being good because we've crashed the thing. I mean, we're wedding crashers... I just got an e-mail from the groom of the wedding I crashed on Saturday night.... "Rush, half the room was current and former Hillary staffers, half the room was conservatives with huge ties to the military and the Midwest.  It was great to have you crash our wedding!  I'm converting as many as I can."
Getting married because you really want a wedding? I thought only women... young women... thought like that.

IN THE COMMENTS: bagoh20 said: "Rush is a Groomzilla!"

"But she found the Party of the Right students compassionate, intellectual and not terribly exercised about her homosexuality."

"She was drawn to the Catholics among them, who corrected her misimpression that the existence of sin 'means you are bad.' It means 'precisely the opposite,' they taught her. 'It means you have a chance to come back and repent and be saved,' she says."

The NYT has an article about Eve Tushnet, the daughter of lefty lawprof Mark Tushnet. As a Yale student, she first attended a meeting of the conservative group "specifically to laugh at them, to see the zoo animals." Now, she advises individuals with a homosexual orientation to abstain from sex.
As the hundred or so daily readers of eve-tushnet.blogspot.com, and a larger audience for her magazine writing, know by now, Ms. Tushnet can seem a paradox: fervently Catholic, proudly gay, happily celibate. She does not see herself as disordered; she does not struggle to be straight, but she insists that her religion forbids her a sex life.
That blog has been on my blogroll for a long time. Her father, now a Harvard lawprof, is one of the many former Wisconsin lawprofs who are out there at other law schools carrying on what people here like to think of as the Wisconsin tradition.
Her father, a nonobservant Jew, and her mother, a Unitarian, both belonged to progressive traditions, tolerant of her sexuality.
Eve became a Catholic in her sophomore year at Yale.
[S]ince 2002 she has made a meager living through writing, computer programming and freelance research. She lives in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of downtown Washington and volunteers two hours a week at a Christian pregnancy-counseling center.
ADDED: Queerty says:
Tushnet's website receives "hundreds" of visits per day — hardly enough to call her an influential blogger. But that reach comes through her scribblings for magazines like the National Review, titles that are apt to give space to people "on the inside" of gays advocating against them. Her writings are interesting, we'll give her that; ex-gays! sublimation vs. repression! And so is her story.... But she is a person with a platform who is out harming human beings with her instruction, and that's simply unacceptable.

Obama's "Pet Goat."

The Anchoress:
We’ve just spent years listening to ungenerous, miserable people excoriate President Bush for calmly taking 7 minutes, after learning of the attacks of 9/11, to allow his Secret Service to do their thing and to–with a great deal of composure–take his leave from a classroom without managing to scare the children or give an impression of fear that would be put before the nation and the world.

After watching President Obama take six weeks to process the terrible news he was given–pressing forward with golf, vacations, parties and fund-raisers in order to not scare the nation–even if that it meant he seemed a little disengaged from the BP Oil disaster, I never want to hear another sneering, idiotic My Pet Goat joke, again.
IN THE COMMENTS: Fred4Pres said: "My Pet Pelican."


"What Pets Can Teach Us About Marriage."

I will not click on that link no matter how long it lingers on the "Most Popular" list on the NYT website. No no no. I see what they are doing, and I'm interested that so many people are so easily played by that title, but I will not go there. I resist!

UPDATE: Uh oh! Looks like somebody could have used a little NYT advice:
Even the Dog Whisperer couldn't talk, demand or otherwise coax his way out of this one.

Cesar Millan's wife, Ilusion, filed for divorce Friday after 16 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason....

A story about a mural in Prescott resonates with the meme that Arizonans have a race problem.

Here's the story, about a mural that some citizens complained about because it depicted "a black guy" or 2.

I'd like to see a "before" picture, showing the entire mural, because there's some complexity about what it meant for the artist to be told to "lighten" the faces in the painting. The school officials said "to make the kids look like they were 'radiating with happiness,'" so there might be some issue of them conveying the wrong mood. "Lighten" is an ambiguous word — lighten up! — but it's also highly inflammatory to say "lighten" with respect to the skin tone of the faces in the mural.

And then there's City Councilman Steve Blair who had — he's now fired — a local radio talk show, who's been saying things like: "I disagree with the whole perspective that you would have a black guy painted on two sides of that building when the history of Prescott never had a culture issue." You do now.

Speaking of painting, Arizonans are being painted in the media as racists. With the hot national issue about immigration enforcement, any little thing like this will be picked up and used to propagate the meme. You may think you've got a local issue and be willing to engage in loose talk and feel sure you're not really a bad person, but you will look like hell when it's picked up nationally. I've seen a lot of bad murals around town, using big looming faces to convey "progressive" political messages, and I can imagine someone who wasn't a racist at all bitching about them in words that would look quite awful quoted in the national press.

I deplore racism — don't we all? — but can we also talk about the atrocious murals that get slathered onto the walls of our towns? The "diversity" theme is so common in these monstrosities, and I'd hate to see accusations of racism work to silence criticism of artwork that needs to complained about.

IN THE COMMENTS: lemondog links to what I think are pre-alteration photos of the mural, and it's hard to detect a surly, hostile, or aggressive look on the faces. They are already "radiating with happiness." How ecstatic do you want kids to be about going green? I dislike government propaganda murals (and anti-government propaganda murals), but the idea of lightening the faces is bad.

The NYT has an article about Mickey Kaus and his Senate campaign, but...

... it's in the "Fashion & Style" section.

Getting to a peek at his living conditions seems to be a big point of the piece:
...his two-bedroom apartment in the Venice neighborhood.... Ikea furniture buried under a flurry of political tomes, magazines, printouts, cellphone manuals, and two-year-old Christmas card photos starring his friends’ children. A red laptop balances on a stool. 
A stool or a DAVE?
A small TV sits on a table. In the kitchen, spilled coffee grounds share counter space with a spread of vitamins and nonalcoholic beer....

He offers his guest water in a disposable plastic cup (“I hate doing dishes,” he apologizes). 
There's stuff about his background — jumping from a law career into mainstream journalism and then to political blogging. But the campaign itself, per the NYT, is "quixotic" and "insane" with "grim" prospects. The writer, Janelle Brown, catches him complaining "I’m completely allergic to Washington, D.C. I was literally developing asthma." (He worked at The New Republic and lived in Washington before retreating to his homeland, California.) She needles him by pointing out that the Senate meets in Washington. He "grimaces" and backfills with "I’ll invest in a lot of air-purifying technology."

Then Brown makes one of the funniest gaffes ever in the NYT:
For a solitary blogger, Mickey Kaus is astonishingly social and well connected: It’s difficult to find a writer or politico in Los Angeles who hasn’t knocked boots (or opinions) with Mr. Kaus at a party....
That's a lot of sexual intercourse! (Glenn Reynolds has already pointed out this gaffe.)

We eventually get to his positions on the issues, and really, Mickey can't complain about this. When does a candidate with no chance at winning get written up in the NYT? They can't be covering the political positions of everyone who qualifies to be on the ballot, even in a big state. You have to go in by the "Style & Fashion" door.

June 4, 2010

Palin is thinking about Iowa.

And you know what that means.

Botox interferes not only with the ability to display emotions, but also with the ability to understand emotion.

"We know that language moves us emotionally," said the lead author, David Havas, a psychology graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "What this study shows is that that's partly because it moves us physically."...

Is it really so hard to understand the French McDonald's "gay-themed" ad?

Here's the ad:

Allahpundit is mystified:
French McDonald’s running gay-themed ads for … no apparent reason

More specifically: This isn’t an ad about how awesome the burgers are, with a gay protagonist singing the praises of Le Big Mac. That wouldn’t be a “gay-themed ad” so much as a “food-themed ad” with a gay pitchman.This is a true gay-themed ad, with the product almost wholly incidental to young Jacques experiencing l’amour fou with a guy while papa blathers on ironically about being a ladies’ man. Why’d McDonald’s do it? Er … no one seems to know. Apparently there was no anti-gay incident at McD’s over there that they’re trying to atone for. The obvious explanation is “controversy for controversy’s sake,” but I can’t believe French viewers will bat an eye. Maybe they hired a director who fancies himself an aspiring Godard and he simply decided to indulge his inner auteur, burgers be damned? All theories welcome!

Actually, maybe the “controversy” theory does make sense. Below you’ll find O’Reilly making an offhand comparison to Al Qaeda, which was enough to provide Media Matters with hours of content. It’s great when everyone wins, my friends.

As stated at the end of the O'Reilly clip, the ad is part of a series, showing different characters. I haven't looked at the other examples, but it's easy for me to understand the ad. Like many American ads I've seen over the last few decades, the viewer is drawn in by something other than the product itself. We're shown characters that interest us for some reason, and the product is woven in subtly in way that feels positive. In this example, we see a young man and understand something about him — he's gay — and then we see his father doesn't really get that, but they love each other and spend time with each other... at McDonald's. They don't share everything, but they can share a meal at McDonald's. It's really a typical McDonald's ad, showing the restaurant as an easy, comforting family place. It's not about controversy at all. It's about commonality. We're different in a lot of ways, but we can all agree that it will be good to eat at McDonald's. The ad is well-done, charming, and sweet, and it creates a good feeling about McDonald's.

Obviously, it is also true that the ad won't work on people who get riled when they see gay people presented as regular people who are part of ordinary life. I'm sure, back in 1980, some people didn't like to see a little white boy give his Coke to the black football player Mean Joe Green in the famous Super Bowl ad. And Coke might have thought about that. This will alienate some people who are not ready to see black and white people sharing a simple intimacy.  But Coke chose to do the ad and take advantage of the good feeling it would give a lot of people, a feeling that would halo around the product. They were right, too.

When O'Reilly jokes about McDonald's doing an ad in this series showing a member of Al Qaeda, he's revealing that he thinks gay people are a group that most people view with justified hostility. McDonald's, operating in France, hasn't analyzed things that way. That's their judgment call, and I hope it's a good one.

Some people say that gay people should keep their sexuality private: Why does anyone need to hear about what anyone else does in bed? But the reaction to this ad shows how obtuse that is. This young man is looking at a photograph and talking to another male on the phone in a way that lets us know he's in love. It isn't at all leering or overtly sexual. It's mild and innocent. It doesn't make any sense to say that's something that belongs only in the bedroom. The idea that expression like this should be kept hidden only makes sense if you actually believe homosexuality is shameful.

This would be funnier if it were a Queen-size.


"'Chick Cars' Don't, in Fact, Castrate Men."

That's Mother Jones objecting to some press release purporting to identify the top 10 "chick cars" that men should never drive. MJ sayeth:
I suppose it’s not that surprising that the idea of a gendered car exists or that certain members of the doucheoisie wouldn’t be caught dead in a Mini Cooper. After all, driving is fraught with gender stereotypes and assumptions....

[I]sn’t it time we shifted male virility away from large, gas-guzzling automobiles, especially in light of the recent, horribly costly, and damaging oil spill in the Gulf? Maybe the sexes will never agree on who’s the better driver; but can’t we at least, for the sake of humanity, retire the phrase “chick cars” and the embarrassing PR it inspires?
I don't see anything wrong with thinking about the masculinity and femininity of the inanimate objects you associate yourself with. I can decide to wear a frilly dress or a mannish pantsuit or to paint my living room a girlie pink color or a manly dark gray. So what's wrong with shopping for a car and thinking about whether I want a chicky Mini or a tomboyish pickup truck?

Ah, I see. The real problem isn't the gendered object. It's the way men avoid feminine things.

Obama singing "Hey Jude."

You like?
Yeah. Love the song. Love the Prez singing it and having a bit of fun.
Eh. Don't like the song, and the Prez shouldn't be goofing around.
No. Hate the song, and the Prez should do his work and take any down time off camera.
Hate the song, but the Prez is fine having some fun.
Love the song, but get the Prez off camera and back to work.
pollcode.com free polls

IN THE COMMENTS: Commenters start naming Beatles songs that could have been sung to/by Obama. Mesquito begins it with "Taxman."

I haven't had the slightest interest in seeing any of the summer movies until...


"WHAT HATH CATHARINE MACKINNON WROUGHT? Woman Says Citibank Fired Her Because She Was Too Hot."

That's Instapundit's take on the truly annoying lawsuit/lawsuit-as-publicity that I mostly don't want to talk about.

Why blame Catharine MacKinnon? MacKinnon is the key figure in the creation of claims for sexual harassment.

"Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, did not believe it was his place to overturn Joyce's call."

"He did not want to open that sort of Pandora's box, and it is absolutely a fair and reasonable position to take. Selig has never used his immense best-interests-of-the-game powers even though he has threatened to do that a few times, and didn't do it here, even though I believe he should have." 

Why did it take police 4 days to gain access to this man's phone records....

... which turned out to be the way to locate him and save his life?
Thomas Wopat-Moreau, 22, lost control of his BMW sport wagon along the Taconic State Parkway, 40 miles south of Albany, after storming out of a party in East Fishkill early Sunday morning, state police said.

The vehicle flipped over, went airborne and soared down an embankment - finally coming to rest in heavy vegetation about 480 feet from the highway....

Lacking feeling in his legs and suffering from internal injuries, Wopat-Moreau crawled away from the wrecked BMW... beat his way through waist-high marsh grasses, but could only make it 150 feet away from the BMW.

For four days, as dehydration set in and insects swarmed, Wopat-Moreau survived on swamp water and a gritty determination to live. 

"I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people, but that's not the job I was hired to do."

"My job is to solve this problem and ultimately this isn't about me and how angry I am."

Barack Obama declines to put on a show of emotion for our edification.

But he did go on the Larry King show. What was the point of that except to massage our emotions? I guess it's a way to spend some time on camera without being pestered by any difficult questions. That way, we can gaze upon him and perhaps draw comfort from his flickering TV image, as we did in ages past. 

"Help Us Congratulate Rush Limbaugh on His Wedding Day."

Now, this headline really is about Rush Limbaugh. Sorry to make the link to Gawker, because they're being a little mean about it, but that's where I saw it first. Somehow, I didn't expect it, even though I heard him say on Wednesday's show that he was going to be away until June 16th. The reason he gave was that he was going to get another English sheepdog to drive his cat crazy.

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, 59, is marrying his 33-year-old girlfriend Kathryn Rogers in Palm Beach this Saturday. He's said some nice things about Gawker in the past, so we wanted to wish him and his betrothed a lifetime of happiness. But Rush is not inviting members of the media to the event for some reason. So we came up with a work-around and rented one of those big airborne billboards to fly down the coast—and over his house—during the wedding.

Now we need your help in coming up with a pithy slogan to share with Rush, his bride-to-be, and the assembled guests. Submit them in the comments, please!
Nothing too amusing in the comments there so far.

By chance, Rush's last show before the wedding hiatus had to cover the breakup of the Gore marriage. He was noticeably kind-hearted about it:
Ladies and gentlemen, Algore and Tipper amidst all of this, separated.  Forty years of marriage.  The interesting thing about this, you can't say, "You know, they just didn't really know each other.  They got married too soon.  Their lives changed just way too much."  Forty years.  Forty years and you split up.  That is not comforting....
He quotes Sally Quinn on CBS saying: "I've been on the phone with friends ever since I heard it yesterday, and everyone feels as though somehow their own marriages have split up.  It's -- you know, watching the Gores is sort of looking at the possibilities of what a good marriage could be, and when they -- when it doesn't work for them you sort of think, 'Oh, my God, maybe it's not possible.'" Rush finds that quite bizarre:
How many of you, I must ask, how many of you who have known friends who got divorced felt like your marriage was dissolving at the same time?  Any of you?  You know what you're thinking about when a couple you know gets divorced?  You're thinking, "Okay, which one of them do we like best?  Which one are we going to continue to socialize with and which one are we gonna ostracize."  That's what you're thinking.  You're not thinking, "Oh, my God, oh, my God, my marriage is in trouble, too.  Why, Biff and Sally here just split up."
He's into believing in marriage there — even as he zeroes in on the hilarious (and painful!) truth.
All right, you want me to explain it to you? The Gore divorce.  I'm stunned none of my bright, overrated staff understand what really happened here.  You separate after a 40-year marriage? I mean, that's... (sigh) That's just not done. 
He sighs!
How often do you hear about that?  Now, what it seems to me... This a pure, wild guess speculation, but it's also intelligence guided by experience.  If you are separating after 40 years, it means that there's been trouble in paradise for many years.  However, look at what's happened now.  The kids are all gone; they're out of the nest. 

She stood out of the way and let Algore make his gazillions.  She gets out just before Algore starts the drooling old man part of his life.  She's rich and she's got her whole life ahead of her....
A caller suggests that Al cheated on Tipper:
RUSH:  That's hard to envision....
Another caller:
CALLER:  The key word, Rush, is money.  Whichever way it goes.  I think it's to protect his fortune somehow.

RUSH:  Or... Well, yeah. That's not exactly my theory.  You said you were calling to agree with my theory.

CALLER:  Yeah.  Well, it's something to do with money. That's all I know.

RUSH:  Well, my theory -- I don't need to go through it again but my theory -- basically was if you're going to get divorced after 40 years, it can't all have been hunky-dory but you hang in there for various reasons. The kids...

CALLER:  Yeah.  I would hate to think it's an affair, I really would. 

RUSH:  Yeah, that's just... That's the stuff of nightmares.  That wouldn't compute. I totally agree.
He ends it there, sounding genuinely circumspect.

"Rand Paul can't play 'Tom Sawyer' on the campaign trail? Rush says no!"

There's a headline I completely misinterpreted. I imagined Rush Limbaugh had made some argument that Rand Paul can't behave like the Mark Twain character. Was Paul attempting to pass himself off as a good-hearted, mischievous boy? But no, "Rush" is the rock band Rush, and "Tom Sawyer" is one of their songs. Paul had been blasting the song at rallies and the band — which is Canadian, by the way — has objected, citing copyright law. The song, despite copyright law, is embedded at the link. Here are the lyrics. Sample:
Today's Tom Sawyer
He gets high on you
And the space he invades
He gets by on you

No his mind is not for rent
To any god or government
Always hopeful, yet discontent
He knows changes aren't permanent
But change is
Hmmph. Silly song. God rents? God owns.

"Yeah, we water-boarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.... I'd do it again to save lives."

George W. Bush said in a Q&A at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids on Wednesday.

June 3, 2010

At the Green TV Café...


... reflect on how monochrome you are.

Are we keeping a constant eye on the BP oil leak?

I don't normally watch the news on TV, but today, we were sitting at the bar and eating cheeseburgers for lunch at The Old Fashioned and there was a big HDTV right in front of us. CNN. Sound off. Closed captioning on. Virtually the entire time, the screen was taken up with that live video feed from bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Oil endlessly spewing. High definition TV, and the very low definition bottom-of-the-sea cam. Okay, already. I get it.

When you're on line, you set your own speed. By comparison, news TV is ridiculous. Are there people monitoring the oil leak all day, day after day, for 45 days? Of course, the leak is a huge problem, but it's not as if you're learning anything more by keeping an eye on it.

The more you watch, the more you start to feel that it's a vision of everything going wrong everywhere. I'm a little worried that this is the mental image of the Obama administration millions of people are going to have. Pollution, waste, corruption... despair!

"Stand leg came bent. We had to put it in a vise and straighten it. Also box came with obscenities written on the outside of the box."

"This could have all happened during shipping but it was a Christmas present and a little disappointing. I do want to add that after we straightened the stand it has been working great for us."

That's a review somebody posted at Amazon. Ha. I love that. I also love the Herman Miller "Scooter" stand for a laptop computer. I've had one for years and want to get another one. And not because the one I have got bent or has obscenities written on it. It's great. I just want 2.  Actually, I wouldn't mind having 2 in 3 different rooms.

“Whatever Israel does, Amnesty is still going to say it was acting illegally/violating human rights.”

David Bernstein paraphrases.

When the audience has a laugh leader.

Mark Liberman at Language Log complains about an "inappropriate" laugh leader in an audience at a Chekhov play:
There was someone in the back of the theater with a  loud and infectious laugh,  who didn't laugh at any of the obviously funny lines, but instead laughed — maybe a hundred times — at a selection of lines that is not easy to characterize....

The laugher's interventions mostly seemed to me to be points where a character changed the subject, or said something that was unexpected in the context of the previous discourse, or said or did something awkward or socially uneasy....

But there were other theories.  One person thought that the laugher might have been a friend of a couple of the actors, who reacted whenever one of them entered the on-stage conversation. Another theory was that the laugher was reacting when the actors made certain expressive faces. These are obviously overlapping theories, and many others might be devised as well.
In the comments, Richard Bell said:
Is it possible this laugher was the one person who best understood and reacted to Chekhov's special comic gift? What you have suggested is, in fact, a pretty good description of Chekhovian comedy. His characters don't really listen to each other. Someone once said there is no dialogue in Chekhov; only interrupted monologues. They change the subject because they don't know what the subject is; they have not been listening.
Now, Liberman says the laugh leader was "loud" and goes on to describe the actors seemingly reacting negatively to the laughing. So, it seems as though the laughing was bad in some special way that makes Bell's comment an incomplete response.

But I am very interested in laugh leading. When I go to the movies or a play, I find that I myself am a laugh leader. It don't laugh loudly, but I am the first person to laugh at a lot of things, and I get other people laughing.  I'm not trying to go first. It's just that a lot of Americans — especially at high-art type movies and plays — are too polite or insecure about laughing. They'll sit there silently while all sorts of subtly funny things are happening as if they need to laugh lines and broad comedy to give them confidence. People seem to be unsure of their own perceptions or just numbed to nonobvious comedy.

A good laugh leader can lubricate the audience and intensify the pleasure of witnessing a performance with others. Of course, a bad laugh leader is a problem, especially if there are live actors on stage. But it's that fear of laughing first and laughing wrongly that holds so many people back and puts a premium on good laugh leading.

It's Spelling Bee time again.

And, as usual, the best place to hang out is ALOTT5MA.

Do the Sestak and Romanoff revelations warrant a special prosecutor?

The NYT writes:
The White House confirmed on Thursday that it had explored the possibility of an administration job for a Democratic politician in Colorado to sidetrack his primary challenge to Senator Michael Bennet, much as it did in a Pennsylvania primary.... Mr. Romanoff... said that while no job was formally offered, three specific positions were mentioned as possibilities last September....

It is not unusual for presidents of either party to offer political appointments to achieve political aims, such as clearing the nomination field for an ally, and Mr. Obama’s aides have said they did nothing wrong. But Republicans have called for a special prosecutor, citing a federal law making it illegal to offer a position to influence a primary election.
Either it's a crime or it isn't.  The phrase "political aims, such as" is odd. Have other Presidents offered political appointments to clear out competition in a primary or not? That phrase hides whether the NYT knows the answer to that question. Maybe the other Presidents have only offered political appointments to achieve other political aims.

In any event, if it is a crime, it has kept some Presidents from doing some things they otherwise would have done. If those things are acceptable, repeal the law and remove the constraint that binds only meticulous law followers.

But the argument that others have violated a law with impunity can't be good enough. Many federal crimes are enforced against persons who don't get too far with the defense that others have violated the same law and escaped prosecution. It's a laughably childish argument: But, mom, all the other kids are doing it. Ever try to get out of a speeding ticket by informing the cop that lots of other drivers are speeding? That sort of thing doesn't work for ordinary people, and the President owes a higher duty to the law, not a lower one.
The Justice Department so far has rebuffed calls for an investigation and even some Republicans, including former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and President George W. Bush’s top ethics lawyer, have said it would be a stretch to call the White House action regarding Mr. Sestak a crime. But the focus on such tactics undercuts the image Mr. Obama has tried to cultivate as a reformer above the usual politics.
So some Republicans want an independent investigation and other Republicans say — well, there's no quote — that it would be a stretch — did they say "a stretch"? — to call it a crime. Apparently, they didn't say "It's not a crime." Does anyone say "It's not a crime?" And "it" means "the White House action regarding Mr. Sestak a crime." But what exactly happened "regarding Mr. Sestak"? Without an investigation, we don't really know. And what about Mr. Romanoff? How did the NYT pose the question that procured semi-absolution from Mukasey and some — how many? who? — nameless Republicans.

Instead of that vague expert/counter-partisan opinion, what I'd like to see in the NYT is the text of the criminal statute. Or at least the statutory section number (with a link to the text). 

The Heritage Foundation has some detail on the statutes:
A 1980 opinion issued by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Justice Department outlines the key distinction between what is legal and what is illegal under federal law. What is perfectly legal and what happens all the time in Washington is individuals being offered jobs for past political activity....

However, what is illegal and not normal practice in Washington is to promise a federal job or appointment to an individual in exchange for future political activity. 18 U.S.C. § 600 prohibits the use of government-funded jobs or programs to advance partisan political interests. The statute makes it unlawful for anyone to “promise any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit” to any person as a “consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party…in connection with any primary election.” As the OLC opinion says, § 600 “punishes those who promise federal employment or benefits as an enticement to or reward for future political activity, but does not prohibit rewards for past political activity.”...

Another federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 595, prohibits any person employed in any administrative position by the United States “in connection with any activity which is financed…by the United States…us[ing] his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of…member of the Senate.” Any administration position offered to Sestak would be financed by the United States, so Rahm Emanuel offering such an appointment through Bill Clinton to interfere with the Senate race in Pennsylvania would also constitute a possible violation of this statute.
If the NYT would like us to accept the view of Mukasey and some unnamed Republicans that there is no crime — or it's hard to say there was a crime — I would like to see more depth of expert opinion. Why do those statutory words not apply? Eh, Mukasey? Explain that. What are people allowed to do behind the scenes to win elections? Instead of resorting to the childish argument that the other guys are doing it too, tell us exactly why we haven't been presented with enough evidence of a crime that an independent investigation is warranted.

The official portrait of Jerry Brown (from his old governor days).

Interesting, no? I ran across that at Wikipedia as I was looking up some things this morning. I wasn't checking up on his new campaign for governor. I was trying to remember what had happened in the 1992 Democratic primaries. We'd been talking about Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Would we be better off now if Hillary were President?) And I remembered that back in 1992, early on in the primary season when there were a lot of candidates, my shorthand reason for rejecting Bill Clinton was: He's a Republican. Then I was trying to remember who I voted for in the Wisconsin primary, which I knew was late, after many of those candidates had dropped out. Who was the last man standing in the 1992 Democratic primaries challenging Bill Clinton? It was Jerry Brown. Did you remember that?
As the press now focused on the primaries in New York and Wisconsin, which were both to be held on the same day, Brown, who had taken the lead in polls in both states, made a serious gaffe: he announced to an audience of various leaders of New York City's Jewish community that, if nominated, he would consider the Reverend Jesse Jackson as a vice-presidential candidate. Jackson, who had made a pair of anti-Semitic comments about Jews in general and New York City's Jews in particular while running for president in 1984, was still a widely hated figure in that community and Brown's polling numbers suffered. On April 7, he lost narrowly to Bill Clinton in Wisconsin (37–34), and dramatically in New York (41–26).
Here's a New York Times report, from just before the primary:
Mr. Clinton yesterday appeared to be straddling the divisions between the two groups [blacks and Jews], at once putting an advertisement on black radio stations touting his civil rights record and accusing Mr. Brown of pandering to blacks by saying he would choose the Rev. Jesse Jackson as his running mate.

"I think that we should not play politics with the Vice Presidency, even though it can be a vote-getter," Mr. Clinton said....

At a meeting with a Jewish group on Thursday, Mr. Brown was repeatedly asked how he could expect to win the Jewish vote after embracing Mr. Jackson, who referred to New York City as "Hymietown" in the 1984 Presidential campaign.

For his part, Mr. Brown has tried to appeal to appeal to black and Jewish voters alike with a television advertisement that criticizes Mr. Clinton for playing golf at an all-white country club. Yesterday, Mr. Clinton attacked Mr. Brown for the commercial, which he said distorted his record on civil rights.

"Let me tell you something," Mr. Clinton said. "A few years ago Jerry Brown said the real solution to racial problems was for the white boys to teach black boys how to read and for black boys to teach white boys how to fight. Now, I could have run an ad on that and made him look like a bigot."
Ha ha. I could have run an ad on that and made him look like a bigot. He just said it and got it quoted as if he were refraining from using it. Hilarious. I cannot remember if, in the end, I voted for Clinton or Brown. Probably Brown. What an amazing career that man has had. Astounding that after all these years, he's worked his way back to the California governorship.

And, for an unusual guy, an unusual official portrait, by Don Barchardy.


Things going on at the same time. 
[A] second Democrat has come forward to confirm that the Obama administration dangled high-ranking government jobs in an attempt to move him out of a challenge to a Democratic incumbent senator.

Andrew Romanoff, a former state legislator in Colorado, said Wednesday evening that deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina said three separate government jobs “might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race.”

Also Thursday, the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will begin in Chicago. The proceedings will last several months and have begun to gain notice in the press because of the potential for embarrassing information about the president or some of his top advisers – chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, top advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett and others – to emerge....

Romanoff made his admission largely because pressure on him to confirm or deny reports from last fall was renewed after the White House was forced last Friday to detail what they offered to Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, to get him out of his Senate primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter.

June 2, 2010

''I just cost that kid a perfect game.''

"I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.''

ADDED: "Joyce’s decision is easily the most egregious blown call in baseball over the last 25 years." Apparently, you have to go back to Game 6 of the 1985 World Series to get to a worse call. 

"The American lawyer jailed by the authorities in Rwanda last week on accusations of denying the nation’s genocide..."

"... tried to kill himself with a pill overdose in his cell, officials there said Wednesday, and he now may face a new charge under Rwandan law: attempted suicide...."
Rwanda, a close American ally that has received hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid, is tightening restrictions on political opponents and critics of the government in the months leading up to elections in August, several human rights groups have said. No subject seems to be touchier than the genocide in 1994, in which hundreds of thousands of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by government-backed death squads. In recent years, thousands of Rwandans have been charged with genocide ideology, an Orwellian-sounding and vaguely defined crime often leveled against anyone who challenges the government’s version of events in 1994.

But Mr. Erlinder’s case is the first time Rwanda has leveled such charges against a Westerner. And the charges against [American law professor Peter Erlinder], 62, seem to have nothing to do with what he may have said or done in Rwanda, but more with his earlier work as a defense lawyer at a United Nations-backed tribunal in Tanzania.

At that tribunal, Mr. Erlinder, who represented a top genocide suspect, disputed the standard characterization of the bloodshed in Rwanda as Hutu victimizers slaughtering innocent Tutsis. Instead, he said that the violence was more spontaneous and possibly the result of Tutsi rebels killing Hutu civilians. He even went as far as to say that the Tutsi rebels, who now rule Rwanda, assassinated Rwanda’s president in 1994, the event that set off the widespread murder.

"I’m hopeful that a bunch of states with crummy standards will end up with better ones this way."

The new education standards for English and math, produced by the state governors.
[T]he English standards do not prescribe a reading list, but point to classic poems, plays, short stories, novels, and essays to demonstrate the advancing complexity of texts that students should be able to master. On the list of exemplary read-aloud books for second and third graders, for instance, is James Thurber’s “The Thirteen Clocks.” One play cited as appropriate for high school students is “Oedipus Rex,” by Sophocles.

Five English texts are required reading. High school juniors and seniors must study the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. Also, said Susan Pimentel, a consultant in New Hampshire who was lead writer on the English standards, “Students have to read one Shakespeare play — that’s a requirement.”
You can read the standards here. This document lists the exemplary readings, if you want to see what got singled out. A 9th or 10th grader is expected to understand Shakespeare's Sonnet #73. Ah! If only!

I was thinking that the problem of making a copy of a copy of a copy had become a thing of the past because of digital files.

But that is not the case. Upload your file to YouTube, then download it, then upload it, then download it, etc. etc., and see what happens. After 775 ups and downs — I know, who has the time? — it looks like this:

"We have a temperamental WASP in the White House."

Writes Andrew Sullivan.

At first I thought Sullivan's sentence was missing a word, that he was referring to the past and meant to write "We have had..." So, we used to have a "temperamental WASP" in the WH, but now we don't and people need to understand that somehow. Then I decided what he meant was "temperamental" not in the sense of moody and unpredictable, but as the adjectival form of "temperament." So, Obama has the temperament of a WASP. I guess you're allowed to have a big old stereotype about white people. And he's applying that stereotype to Obama.
John Stodder wrote:
For the record, I think Karl Rove was the first guy to compare Obama to the WASP stereotype of the sarcastic guy at the country club, leaning against the wall, smoking a cigarette and making comments about everyone else at the party. I always thought that was the oddest perception, but it's turned out to be very apt.
Correct! ("He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.")

How did the Republicans get this popular?


Don't get smug though. The generic Republican is popular. I'm sure when actual human Republicans present their faces for our approval or disapproval, we won't find them so attractive.

The "story line" of Obama's presidency is "passivity, detachment, acquiescence and compromise" — says Maureen Dowd.

She wants him to "seize control of the story line." Hard to do that if you really are passive and detached.

Here's an exploration into Obama's attempt to demonstrate how focused and resolute he is:

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

"The propaganda for the flotilla has been in the works for months. Most of it was simply false...."

"Who is behind this overhyped mission of mercy? And who is its beneficiary? It is none other than Hamas, the Gazan outpost of the global jihad, cousin of the Taliban, second cousin once-removed of Hezbollah.... The law is on Israel’s side. Ethics and history are on Israel’s side. Those who are on the side of Hamas are actually enemies of civilization."

ADDED: David Harsanyi:
[U]nlike the typical "humanitarian" aid vessels, these were filled with violent activists rather than the normal caches of weaponry.

[R]ather than allow an Israeli search for armaments — a blockade necessitated by Hamas rockets falling on Israel daily — the mob, chanting songs about invading Israel, attacked those who boarded with sharpened iron bars, poles, rifles and clubs.

Before boats were boarded, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, whose Jew-hating would make Himmler proud, already had said, "If ships reach Gaza — victory. If terrorized by Zionists — victory."

Using civilians as human shields, stocking weapons in schools, mosques and boats, and relying on death and martyrdom as forms of depraved propaganda is the game plan.

"The Tea Party Movement Isn’t Racist," says John B. Judis...

... because he's found a way to say it's worse than racist.
If the Tea Party movement, with its fanatic libertarianism and selfish individualism, were to gain any measure of power, it would wreak havoc on the economy (imagine America without a Federal Reserve System), shred the social safety net, and undermine what exists of the great American community.... it’s very possible to believe that the Tea Party is not the latest manifestation of the Ku Klux Klan or White Citizens’ Councils—while still believing that it is a terrible menace, nonetheless.

"What's the best opening track ever?"

A possibly interesting question for people who listen to music in album form. But the answers are too skewed by the assumption that the best albums must have the best opening songs. And I'd disqualify every track that put first because it's thought to be the best song on the album, the intended hit single or whatever. Tell me about an opening track that draws us in... in some special way. Like "Here Comes the Sun," if you play "Abbey Road" the way I always did, Side 2 first.

Oh, hi!

Chris at Barrique's

Happy birthday!

(And extra happy birthday to the new family member with the same birthday.)

June 1, 2010

Things watched just now.

There's this really cool Mickey Kaus ad:

I found that via Mickey's Twitter feed, where he thanked Instapundit for embedding it, so why didn't I see it on Instapundit too? Must have been that, scrolling, I got sidetracked by the monitor lizard. Anyway, I was over on Twitter to write:
Got M to watch the movie "Slacker," which made us look up "Growing Up Absurd" in Amazon, which recommended we buy the movie "Slacker."
We almost never watch movies. We're too fragmented. But "Slacker" is fragmented, and, thinking we could put up with that, we ended up watching the whole thing. In the end of the movie — and I realize I've watched the beginning many times and the end only a few — the camera flashes on the book "Growing Up Absurd." We were trying to remember the author's name, and Meade got it right. We were talking about what a verbal tic it used to be to call everything "absurd."

Sarah Palin denies that she aimed any "ugly innuendo" against Joe McGinniss.

"How that equates me with the Nazis is quite beyond me."

But fortunately, there is Facebook to let her get her message out that she is not a Nazi and that the "'lamestream' media" should be ashamed of itself.

What McGinniss said was:
And I think it's probably a lesson for the American people of the power Palin has to incite hatred and her willingness and readiness to do it. She has pushed a button and unleashed the Hounds of Hell, and now that they're out there slavering and barking and growling. And that's the same kind of tactic and I'm not calling her a Nazi, but that's the same kind of tactic that the Nazi troopers used in Germany in the '30s. And I don't think there is any place for it in America.
So Palin has Facebook and a button to release the Hounds of Hell!

Man, McGinniss is getting a ton of publicity for his book project! I'm sure he's not one bit sorry he rented that house next door to Palin. There is no amount of shaming or "ugly innuendo" that will outbalance the immense benefit he's grabbed for himself.

Palin is milking this whole thing for publicity too, of course (even as she has every right to be royally pissed that the book-flogger moved in next door).

"Justice John Paul Stevens is the greatest Justice in Supreme Court history."

Argues Cliff Sloan, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom and a former Stevens law clerk. A key move in this argument is excluding the Chief Justices on the theory that they have extra powers so it's not a proper comparison. Then Sloan has 4 reasons:
First, his record of protecting and maintaining the rule of law during the “war on terror” stands unique in Supreme Court annals....

Second, Justice Stevens has fundamentally changed – and strengthened – the Court’s jurisprudence regarding personal freedom.... [He] has successfully re-framed the Court’s conceptual framework for personal freedom from a general “privacy” right, which is not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution, to a “liberty” right, which is prominently and explicitly protected in the Constitution....
Third, Justice Stevens has steadfastly sought to enforce the rule of law even when the Presidency hangs in the balance....
Fourth, Justice Stevens has powerfully re-shaped the law in an astonishing range of areas....
Go to the link to see the cases Sloan discusses. I would note that in some of the cases, Stevens has had something akin to the superpower that Sloan used to exclude Chief Justices from the analysis. When the Chief Justice isn't in the majority, the most senior Justice in the majority decides who will write the opinion. As such, over the last 20 years, he's authored many of the important opinions where the liberal side of the Court had the majority. That he wrote the opinion on the side that Sloan prefers isn't the evidence of a personal stamp on the law that Sloan would have us think.

Once Sloan gets to identifying and excluding the the competition for greatest Justice, the argument falls badly apart. He has to really strain to minimize Brandeis, Holmes, Brennan, Story, and the first Justice Harlan. He lost me here, but you've got to give Sloan credit for writing what would be a strong entry in a competition requiring an essay titled "Justice John Paul Stevens is the greatest Justice in Supreme Court history."

Nancy and The Word.

Pelosi brings her Catholicism to the project of governing America:

The worst part of that is:
Her politics don't correlate well to Christianity.
We don't want religion in our politics.
We don't want politics in our religion.
She's not being honest.
pollcode.com free polls

"[M]uttering to yourself and talking about things out loud helps improve your memory and the knowledge that you retain."

"You may look a little odd talking to yourself, but studying out loud improves information retention by differentiating bits of knowledge."

(And don't miss the photograph at the link!)

"The River of Crawling Death." "Red Tide of Death." "Mad Monkeys Manned the Life Boats." "Flying Rodents Ripped My Flesh." "Chewed to Bits by Giant Turtles."

Let's read vintage men's magazines.

I love the artwork!

And this one reminds me that Meade and I need to go out for a walk:

At the Pink Edge Café...

DSC00023 copy

... things are beautiful and optimistic.

DSC00023 copy

"Peter Kinloch, 28... appeared 'elated, cheery and bubbly' as he posed for photographs on the summit" of Mount Everest....

"... but lost his sight and stumbled and slipped on the descent. Progress became painfully slow. Three sherpas administered drugs and oxygen over a 12 hour period attempted to coax him down the mountain but finally had to abandon him at an altitude of 8,600 metres as the weather closed in."

Al and Tipper Gore separate.

"We are announcing today that after a great deal of thought and discussion, we have decided to separate. This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration. We ask for respect for our privacy and that of our family, and we do not intend to comment further."

They've been married for 41 years. What's happened?

In happier times:

ADDED: There may be global warming, but there's household cooling.

AND: Everyone's tweaking the same joke. Meade, in the comments, writes: "Gore-ball cooling."

Skip college?

Go to college but take a more career-oriented major? Or...
Consider Stephen Law, a professor of philosophy at the University of London, who started his working life delivering mail for the British postal service, began reading works of philosophy in his spare time, decided that he’d like to know more, and went on to study the discipline at City University, in London, and at Oxford University....  Indeed, if even a professionally oriented college degree is no longer a guarantee of easily found employment, an argument might be made in favor of a student’s pursuing an education that is less, rather than more, pragmatic. (More theology, less accounting.) That way, regardless of each graduate’s ultimate path, all might be qualified to be carriers of arts and letters, of which the nation can never have too many.

"I didn't understand anything he said. We took him to the bedroom and laid him down to rest."

Laid him down to die. Ted Koppel's son.

Do you know when it's okay to let somebody sleep it off?

"It’s a very encouraging fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s than we were in our 20s."

"And it’s not being driven predominantly by things that happen in life. It’s something very deep and quite human that seems to be driving this."

Remaining silent is not an invocation of the right to remain silent.

Says the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision, Berghuis v. Thompkins.
''Thompkins did not say that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk to police,'' [wrote Justice Kennedy for the Court]. ''Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his 'right to cut off questioning.' Here he did neither, so he did not invoke his right to remain silent.''....

''Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent -- which counterintuitively, requires them to speak,'' [wrote Justice Sotomayor for the dissenters]. ''At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results, in my view, find no basis in Miranda or our subsequent cases and are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles on which those precedents are grounded.''
ADDED: Pinkerton predicted it:

The Flotilla.

Collected links.

Photographs by/of Dennis Hopper.

Hopper took some cool photographs in the 1960s — cool not just because he had access to some of the celebrities of that era (Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Bill Cosby, Brian Jones, Tuesday Weld, Andy Warhol, etc.).

And Terry Richardson did a nice cigar-smoking sequence of Hopper.

Via Metafilter, which highlights the great photoblog Chasing Light.

"[N]ot every closely divided opinion splits the Supreme Court along ideological lines."

Says Jonathan Adler:
In Carr v. United States, the Supreme Court held, 6–3, that the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), which requires convicted sex offenders to register with local authorities when they move from one state to another, does not apply to sex offenders whose interstate travel occurred before the Act went into effect. This holding enabled the Court to avoid consideration of whether SORNA’s registration requirement violates the ex post facto clause. Justice Sotomayor wrote the opinion for the Court, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Stevens, Kennedy, and Breyer. Justice Scalia concurred in part and in the judgment. Justice Alito dissented, joined by Justices Thomas and Ginsburg.

"[T]wentysomethings just don't care if their Supreme Court justices are black, white, Jewish, Protestant, gay, or straight."

"Every day someone under the age of 30 either sends me an e-mail or tweet or a Facebook post reminding me that those of us making a huge big fat media deal about the nominee's race, religion, sexual preferences or marital status are quickly becoming cultural dinosaurs."

May 31, 2010

Sunset, tonight.


On Picnic Point.

On my back in the front yard, I look up and see the robins have built a nest...

... in the oak tree:


I wouldn't have been lying there to notice that if you hadn't made the lawn so plush and lagged behind when it was 6 p.m. and finally cool enough to leave the homestead. Then we set out. Into the woods:


Ah! The wild asparagus!


"The subject of pain is the business I am in. To give meaning and shape to frustration and suffering."

"The existence of pain cannot be denied. I propose no remedies or excuses."

Said the grand sculptor Louise Bourgeois, who, at 98, has arrived at last at that remedy for pain which no one ever needed to propose.

At the age of 20, she studied math: "I got peace of mind... only through the study of rules nobody could change."

She moved on to art:
"I have a religious temperament," Ms. Bourgeois, a professed atheist, said about the emotional and spiritual energy that she poured into her work. "I have not been educated to use it. I’m afraid of power. It makes me nervous. In real life, I identify with the victim. That’s why I went into art."

"If Google told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?"

For some the answer is: Yes, I would and then I'd sue.


Bonus lawsuit story that I wouldn't have blogged if I hadn't run across that other one:
Upper West Side couples counselor Jeffrey Mechanic is being sued [for $4 million] by two of his former clients who say he nearly destroyed their marriage in his wacky attempts to save it....

"He would tell me constantly that my wife was not capable of satisfying me... For 10 years, I was faithful. Then I just caved in and had an affair, and [Mechanic] said there was nothing wrong with that"....
Aren't marriage counselors always dealing death blows to marriages? That's my observation. But this couple actually stayed together, so... seems the husband got good mileage out of Mechanic when he used him as an excuse for cheating.

"I would like [blank] to become more self-aware."

Who would you like to become more self-aware?
Hanna Rosin
Hanna Rosin's cat
Maureen Tkacik
Sarah Palin
pollcode.com free polls

Memorial Day.

WWII Monument

From "her inwardness is violated" to: she "is like a raped interiority."

Virginia Postrel, noting the "needlessly ugly and opaque the prose" of academics, quotes Francine du Plessix Gray's review of the new translation of Simone de Beauvoir's "Second Sex":
Writing about the aggressive nature of man’s penetration of woman, [earlier translator] Parshley felicitously translates a Beauvoir phrase as “her inwardness is violated.” In contrast, [new translators] Borde and Malovany- Chevallier’s rendering states that woman “is like a raped interiority.” And where Parshley has Beauvoir saying of woman, “It is she who defines herself by dealing with nature on her own account in her emotional life,” the new translators substitute, “It is she who defines herself by reclaiming nature for herself in her affectivity.” In yet another example, man’s approach to woman’s “dangerous magic” is seen this way in Parshley: “He sets her up as the essential, it is he who poses her as such and thus he really acts as the essential in this voluntary alienation.” But in Borde and Malovany-Chevallier, “it is he who posits her, and he who realizes himself thereby as the essential in this alienation he grants.” Throughout, there are truly inexcusable passages in which the translators even lack a proper sense of English syntax: “Moments women consider revelations are those where they discover they are in harmony with a reality based on peace with one’s self.”
You may wonder who will read writing like that, but the book will be assigned in courses... that you'd probably be wise not to take. So the good news is: repellent writing is a good thing. Like evil-tasting poison.

Sunday's talking heads.

Crack Skull Bob wields his swift pen:

"Having these all on the same list is kind of like saying, 'You know what my pet peeves are? People who crack their knuckles, genocide, extreme poverty, and shopping cart wheels that get stuck.'..."

"... I mean, OK, but the juxtaposition is a little insensitive."

Jac is offended by TIME's list of the 50 worst inventions.

"That's why we moan and bitch and bellyache."

"Because by doing so we hope in our next incarnation, life will, in all senses of the term, be cool."

"And [Peggy Noonan], Ann Althouse, and Megan McArdle will have to deal with it for the rest of their lives."

"Those three women have all been an intellectual blessing to public discourse in this country, but they all succombed [sic] to the same cult of personality two years ago, and we still do not know what the final price tag on that cult of personality is going to be."

Note to Little Miss Attila. Not everyone who voted for Obama voted for him for the simple stereotypical reason you keep in your head. If you want to know why I actually voted for Obama, read "How McCain Lost Me." The bottom line was:
1. [McCain] did not understand economics, the most important issue.

2. He lost the ability to make the experience argument [when he picked Sarah Palin for VP].

3. He never defined himself as a principled conservative.

4. Erratic and incoherent, he lacked sufficient mental capacity.
I'm not happy with the job Obama is doing, but it could be a lot worse, and what McCain would have done is something we will never get to see. I won't accuse you of succumbing to a cult of personality if you are imagining some wonderful McCain presidency that would have been, but you can't compare that what never happened to what is happening now.

In the end, we were stuck choosing between 2 far from perfect men, and I voted for Obama without being caught up in any sort of giddy emotionalism.

May 30, 2010


Guerrilla gardeners.

"They garden in public places with, and sometimes without, permission. Without permission, it could just be 'John,' the Williamson Street neighborhood’s 'guerrilla gardener,' planting sunflower seeds along the bicycle path or filling that tree-line gap with a plan-appropriate sapling. It could be Keedo Beebe, a shy, scarfed woman who has methodically established a tangled hosta and wildflower greenway, without official permission, along a hidden Yahara River path.... 'Why not? I like to go out and plant things, it’s what my mom and I liked to do.'"

Is this good?
Yes! I love these impish citizens with their free thinking and free work.
Yes! Gardens are good and more is more.
No! There needs to be some knowledge and order to the installation of plants.
No! Even people who believe they are good need to follow the rules.
pollcode.com free polls

"Too often it feels as though Barry is watching from a balcony, reluctant to enter the fray until the clamor of the crowd forces him to come down."

"The pattern is perverse. The man whose presidency is rooted in his ability to inspire withholds that inspiration when it is most needed."

Was it his ability?  Or were we the ones that had the ability — the ability to see him as able when he was up there on the campaign platform mouthing abstractions? He's still up there — on what Maureen Dowd calls "a balcony" — but now all the concrete problems of the world are his responsibility. He hasn't changed. He hasn't stopped doing something he was able to do before. But we have reached the end of our capacity to idealize him. We don't like him up there, looking down, where things are going so wrong. We are withholding our trust. But rightly so! This ability to trust is not a very impressive ability. Let's be critical. Being critical, we have no reason to talk about whether the President is adequately soothing us.

At the Iris Café...

... there's an edge of violet.

"It gave me pecs, gave me definition, it gave me confidence."

Spanx for men.

Fabulous, for the unnaked man.

"I can't say this is true yet, cause I don't know. Next year they asked me to possibly be the judge on 'American Idol.'"

Do you want Bret Michaels to replace Simon Cowell?

"Facebook has no charms for me. It looks inward. Twitter looks outward..."

From an essay by Roger Ebert about how the internet rewires our brains. A lot of the essay is about the importance of stepping away from the computer and reading our way through actual books — long books that you read straight through in a linear fashion (which ends up being long novels, which just happen to be something he loves doing anyway). But I was struck by the Facebook/Twitter point. We spend a lot of time on the internet, but we do different things here, so it's not just a matter of what The Internet does to our brains.

In fact, Reading Books isn't just one distinctive activity. Ebert writes about books as if book = Victorian novel. But some of us like reading nonfiction, including books that don't require linear reading at all. You can dip back and forth in a book and read snippets in very much the same style as web-surfing. When I'm reading books, I like a stack of books of different kinds. I might read a few pages in one, then switch to another, maybe rotate through the whole pile, very similar to the way I'd open up a set of tabs in my browser and cycle through them. And I like reference books and essay collections — e.g., a collection of movie reviews — that are best read by jumping around.

By the same token, on the internet, there are different ways to read. As Ebert's Facebook/Twitter point shows, reading is deeply interwoven with writing and with the feeling of interacting with other people. Sitting by yourself with a long book is quite unnatural by comparison. I think it could be said that the internet takes our urge to read and reintegrates us with society. It's more like the natural world that we evolved to live in: there should be the constant potential for interruptions and distractions; we should be giving and receiving communication to and from other people who are alive now and able to respond to us. In that light, long books distort our brains, and the internet brings us back to human society.

And being on the internet isn't just one distinctive activity. Some people like Facebook and some like Twitter. Me, I love blogging. I've done the other 2, but blogging suits me best — in part because I have so many commenters who come here and make this feel like the lively coffeehouse or salon I always hoped I could find in real life. Ebert says Facebook looks inward, and he prefers Twitter, but isn't it funny that if Facebook is really inward, it's more like the long novels that Ebert uses as an antidote to the internet experience? Ebert twits like mad — his Twitter feed is excellent — but maybe he's using it, in part, as a change of pace from those Victorian novels.

We can, each of us, design our own mix of experiences — in nature, in face-to-face human encounters, with books, with pen and paper, and using computers to read and write. We balance and offset. We seek pleasure and satisfaction and power and wisdom. We begin where we begin. One individual begins with too few real-life friends and a love of thick novels, another begins with a chattering schoolgirl clique and a Facebook page. Add something to that and then to that. Inward, outward/outward, inward. Make life better, in your own way.

"My boyfriend is a super cleaner."

"Not only does he clean, but he cooks. Am I turned on by it? Of course. He's taking charge, he's taking responsibility. And that's hot."

So your boyfriend is hot? Yawn! Why is that paired with news of a report from the London School of Economics?
The report, which surveyed 3,500 British couples, reveals that divorce rates are lower when husbands help out with housework, shopping and childcare.
It's unsurprising that the helpfulness in a husband correlates with a successful marriage. But does that mean women find it sexually stimulating? Getting the housework done is good in itself.

Would a man announce that it sexually arouses him when his woman mops the floor? Would he proudly display this attitude in The Daily News, with a photograph like the one at the link? Not unless he also got pleasure out of getting called a sexist.

But the women! The women! Keeping women sexually stimulated seems  another matter entirely. Why is it fodder for a mainstream newspaper that some women say they think it's hot that their men do housework?

Keeping women sexually stimulated is an important enterprise worthy of investigative reporting.
Getting men to think women find something sexy is a trick to get men to do things.
The point was to lure women readers: women like to read about their own sexuality.

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