June 12, 2010



The roses were blooming up a storm today.



Stop me when you've had enough roses. I mean... try to stop me. I'm not stopping. The roses were thrillingly voluptuous today.

At the end of the walk...

At the Big Rose Café...


... this is only the beginning.

"It is amazing how brave you can be when you have no choice."

"Also, I am on a lot of drugs."

Saw the movie "Changeling" last night but I don't like to write movie reviews...

... so let me do what I did for the last Clint Eastwood movie I saw and challenge myself to write a list of 10 things. Here goes:

1. There were several points in this movie where, if I didn't know it was a true story, I would have turned it off. It's incredibly melodramatic. But if it's true, it's not incredible. It's credible.

2. I loathe movies about children in danger, both because I don't enjoy seeing children suffer and because I don't want to watch an actress ham it up pretending to be a mother who is agonizing over her suffering child. But I shielded myself from knowing what the story was going to be because I was told — by my son Chris — that the movie contained the greatest acting performance of the last decade and once I decide I will see a movie, I avoid reading anything about the plot.

3. I'd never seen an Angelina Jolie movie before. Looking at the list of movies she's made, I can see why. Although she seems like the biggest movie star in the world, she hasn't made many movies, and they aren't very good. She's done genres that I don't much follow (anymore). For example, she did one of the voices in "Kung Fu Panda." When I think of "Kung Fu Panda," I think of the Joshua Ferris short story "The Dinner Party":
“They just got their dates wrong, is all,” he said, “and tomorrow, when they call, they’ll tell you how sorry they are. They had to turn their phones off during the late showing of ‘Kung Fu Panda’ or something.”

“So they went to see ‘Kung Fu Panda’ tonight,” she said.

“Or something like it.”

“And they turned their phones off so they wouldn’t ring during ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ ”

“Or,” he said. “Or.” He put his finger up. They were standing near the bedroom doorway. There was dim light coming from the dark room and he was suddenly irrationally afraid, as he had been as a child, that if anyone stepped inside, if she stepped inside, she would plummet to the center of the earth. He lowered his finger. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t think they went to see ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ ”
One wouldn't see "Kung Fu Panda."

4. Jolie emotes. That's for sure. It's what's called for and she does it. She goes all out and does it. She's the female Jack Nicholson. And this movie has a good dose of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in it. Now, take your medication. Or we'll give you an electroshock treatment. "Changeling" also made me think about another great Jack Nicholson movie, "Chinatown." Lots of L.A., lots of corruption.

5. Did Jolie out-act Kate Winslet? Winslet won the Oscar that year — for "The Reader." "The Reader" is also a melodrama, but it presents itself in less of a melodramatic style. Although "The Reader" is set in the Holocaust, the character is fictional, and her story is presented in a more dignified Oscar-worthy vehicle.

6. Quite oddly, there is a scene in "Changeling" in which the main character is listening to the Oscars presentation on the radio and rooting for her favorite movie to win. The movie is "It Happened One Night," and Jolie's character expresses her fondness for Claudette Colbert, who won an Oscar for her role. "It Happened One Night" swept the top 5 categories at the Oscars, and it wasn't until "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that another movie swept the Oscars. I wondered what Clint Eastwood thought he was saying to the Academy by putting that Oscars scene in "Changeling." I don't think he was kissing their ass trying to get Oscars. Maybe it was a way to say Oscars are amusement for the people and they don't really matter to me anymore. But it would be pretty funny for Jolie to win an Oscar for a role where we'd have a clip of her in character getting excited about an Oscar win. It would be cute. Maybe she got some votes from Academy members who liked that.

7. Like "The Reader," "Changeling" has a scene that depicts
a hanging and uses a closeup of the hanged person's dangling feet — or is it just the shoes on the floor in "The Reader"? I forget.
(Mouse over Highlight to reveal spoiler.)(I think that's the first time I've used HTML that way.)

8. If you like red lipstick, this is the ultimate red lipstick movie. You've got, first of all, Angelina Jolie's famous, immense lips, and then you've got red red lipstick — of the historically accurate matte texture. And it looks like it was put on amateurishly by the character.

9. You like cloche hats? You will see cloche hats. Angelina Jolie's character seems to require a cloche hat — and gloves. (I couldn't figure out how she avoided getting red lipstick all over her gloves.) This is the ultimate cloche hat movie. What does the cloche hat mean? It speaks of the character's vulnerability and need for armor, which makes it
especially painful for us to see her without its protection when she's thrown into the psycho hospital.

10. What's with Angelina Jolie's hands?

11. Jolie calls Clint Eastwood "very much the ideal man":
Maybe it's generational, but I think we could use more of it. People look up to him. He is absolutely who he is. He doesn't apologize to anybody. He has very, very strong, decisive opinions and is very gracious as a man, as a friend and somebody on set as a director, too.
She tags on the wifely niceness — "Brad knows that he's my ideal man" — but, reading that, I hear the emphasis on "my." Brad may be her ideal man, but Eastwood is the ideal man.

Oh! I went to 11. I thought it would be hard to get to 10. Ha. I guess I enjoyed that movie. Maybe I'll watch it again with somebody who hasn't seen it before. Back in the 80s, we used to love showing "The Terminator" to people who hadn't seen it yet. All the surprises would be new again. Last week, I was flipping channels and came to rest on "From Dusk to Dawn," which had just started. I'd seen it before, but Meade hadn't. Great vicarious fun for me.

"I saved the money from the Army. Army, Army, Army, Army money. My personal Army money."

That's Alvin Greene's answer to the question a lot of people are asking:
How did Alvin M. Greene, an unemployed military veteran who lives with his father, come up with the $10,400 filing fee for the Democratic Senate primary he won Tuesday?...

South Carolina has a history of political plants being placed in elections to skew turnout. In 1992, Republican operative Rod Shealy was convicted of hiring an African-American fisherman to run for congressional office in hopes of stimulating white turnout to help his sister get elected lieutenant governor. The case of Greene, who is African American, has reminded many here of the Shealy incident, though political sleuths have not come up with any logical meddler or motive.
Wait. One thing that's not much like what just happened is being used to show a "history" of things like this happening?  And it's from 19 years ago?! What would be the point of using Greene this way? Speaking of patterns, isn't there a pattern of quirky outsiders blowing their own money running for office?

Is it in the Democratic Party's interest to hound this man? He got 60% of the vote for some reason. It's not as if the guy he beat had any chance of winning. Without harder information, it seems as if people are trying to humiliate and intimidate Greene. He's already got a criminal charge pending against him. And what kind of a criminal charge is that anyway? Asking another adult to look at a pornographic picture? Would you call the police on someone who did that? Would you want your tax money used to prosecute someone who did that?

At the Spring Pine Cone Café...


... perk up and pay attention.

June 11, 2010

Why do people keep going to law school?

An interesting question. Another interesting question is: Is that picture of me now the universal icon of the student?

The people picked their candidate, but he's so terrible that it must be a conspiracy.

Democrats freaking out about Alvin Greene. Here's Balloon Juice:
I’ve seen a lot of shitty primary candidates in my time, so I’m ready to buy that a relatively inarticulate nobody with a closet full of skeletons would spend $10K on a quixotic run for Senate. What feels off about Greene is his complete lack of excitement and engagement. Usually a nut who’s going to blow his last dollar on a campaign does it for some crazy reason that animates them, and they talk about it incessantly. Greene has none of that. Put that together with his resume, and I smell a ratfuck.
Well, at least he's only "relatively inarticulate." What induced that restraint? Why not call him inarticulate? There's a longstanding issue of patronizing black people by calling them "articulate." Remember discussions like this after some clueless folk — e.g., Joe Biden — called Barack Obama "articulate"? (And here's the old "He speaks so well" Chris Rock riff about Colin Powell.)

Now, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn has called for an investigation. Into what? People had to vote for Alvin Greene, and he got 60% of the vote. It would be interesting to know why the people of South Carolina voted the way they did, but I don't think you should sic the government on someone who wins against the odds. Bring out the information informally, if you like. Don't use the government to intimidate him.

And then there is the obscenity charge, based on Greene's supposedly asking a woman "to look at pornography on his screen at a computer lab in a University of South Carolina dormitory" and saying "Let's go to your room." That could have been talked about during the primary campaign, but apparently, no one saw fit to say anything until afterward. Now, Greene says:
"I'm on the not-guilty side of things...  I have to be. I mean, I mean, I mean. I have no comment, I mean."... Greene is at first reluctant to talk about the charge. But once he starts, he goes on at length.

"It can go away," Greene says. "Just think about a charge. It can be dropped by the solicitor. It can be dropped and erased like it never happened. . . .
I kind of think it will be remembered.
"Folks should be given a chance to correct themselves. Somebody could just be trying to get somebody in trouble. You see, somebody, you know -- you just can't work around somebody. It's hard. I'm just trying to talk about something, frankly. I'm just trying to talk from my perspective. People should be friendly. I mean, leave it alone."

"It almost feels as if all these women winning are kind of a blow to feminism."

"Because, each one of them, really, most of them, are, you know, very much, uh, uh, you know, against so many of things that women have fought for such a long time."

That's Tina Brown trying to babble her way to saying something that makes sense. Watch the video at the link. I think she realizes in the middle — at the "you know, very much, uh, uh, you know" — that after invoking the big idea "feminism," she doesn't know how to say the right thing about feminism. It's not right to say according to feminism, women aren't supposed to be Republicans, so she can't say that. What then can she say? She goes with the weak, mealy-mouthed "against so many of things that women have fought for such a long time." So many of the things, eh? What? And fought for such a long time — as if women are supposed to — what? — adhere to traditional values and not make waves?

And what about the idea that there is variety within feminism and vivid debate about what is good for women? George Stephanopoulos pushes Brown with "Well, you could argue they're different kinds of feminists...." And Brown settles in to the routine partisanship that is easy to spit out clearly: "Women, too, can be wing nuts, is the point." Yeah, that's cogent and clear. Funny too. Brown's attempt at a point about feminism was flabby blather because it was dishonest. "Women, too, can be wing nuts" — she's telling it straight now and shows it with the kicker that it's "the point." Thanks for abandoning your pretense of intellectual analysis for some plain politics. We get it, Tina. You're a liberal. You don't like when strong candidates emerge on the other side. And you have nothing interesting or insightful to say about feminism. Noted.

And speaking of the poverty of feminist analysis on "Good Morning America," the discussion turns immediately to Carly Fiorini's comment about Barbara Boxer's hair:
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...Carly Fiorina after the election, getting caught on tape....

CARLY FIORINI: Laura saw Barbara Boxer briefly on television this morning. And said what everyone says. God, what is that hair? So yesterday....

BROWN: You know what I love about it so much? It's like, as we were saying... it was great that it was gender-neutral. Then, all of a sudden, you've suddenly switched to absolute claws come out. And it's like — the women. What really killed? It was so yesterday. It wasn't just women. It was rich women. That's the point.
Oh! Brown is declaring something else to be "the point." I'm not sure what, though. Rich women. Stephanopoulos cuts her off and crashes headlong into what will be the next underdeveloped topic (that Fiorini and Meg Whitman were CEOs). Presumably, if given a little room, Brown would have spouted some class politics about hair. Think of all the middle aged women who heard the rich lady's catty remark and looked at themselves in the mirror and saw a overgrown, undercolored, Boxeresque mops of hair and wondered if they could squeeze enough dollars out of the family budget to make a trip to the salon. Boxer's floppy, grizzled tresses will get knotted up with the heartstrings of California working women.

But Brown didn't get to say that, because it was time — fast-moving "Good Morning America" time — to opine about whether America could admire a corporate CEO these days. As if Hewlett Packard and eBay were spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

June 10, 2010

"I don't feel sad when over-privileged children who think nothing can touch them attempt to subvert the awesome and fearsome powers of nature."

That's one opinion.

UPDATE: Saved!

Do we have to talk about Alvin Greene?

You know if this had happened to the GOP, liberals would have a feloniously obscene orgy of mockery.

"Now the Coffee Party is sweeping the country...."

Oh... yeah... whatever happened to the Coffee Party?

The BP oil spill — as coffee and comedy.

About that warning label on the reprint of the Constitution (and other documents from the Founding Era).

"This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work."

Why a warning label?
Had you heard of Wilder Publications before? It's PR, plain and simple.
It will help young people get into something they might otherwise reflexively reject.
It's a cute way to get parents thinking about discussing the Founding documents with their kids.
The Founding documents deserve (and invite!) critique, especially on the subject of equality.
These documents live and evolve and it's good to cue readers to interpret them appropriately.
Here's the edition for liberals to buy. They can see that it irks conservatives.
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How to choose between 2 female candidates?

Who's got better hair?

"The White House was forced to respond Wednesday to a conspiracy theory too silly for even the birthers..."

"Did Barack Obama appear in the video for Tag Team's 1993 one-hit wonder 'Whoomp! (There it is)'?"

The Taliban put a 7-year-old boy on trial for spying.

He was found guilty and hanged.

What if there were an immense political triumph for women...

... but the women were conservatives?
The overriding theme of Tuesday night’s primary coverage was that it was a big night for female politicians. But there is a noticeable dearth of rah-rah sisterhood going on...
I’m not surprised that the only primary race to be noted by Feministing is Kamala Harris’ victory in the Democratic race for California attorney general or that the comments on a straightforward who’s-who post at Jezebel are full of bile regarding Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. But it is disappointing that many liberal women don’t even seem to want the GOP to have strong female candidates. As Sara Libby wrote in Slate yesterday, “Do you still cheer if the ceiling is crashed by two conservative businesswomen?”
You know, it's fine with me if we just start treating women like people. We women are not a team. And this isn't a game. The failure of liberals to cheer about the female GOP candidates is an indication that they are strong candidates. That's good!

Isn't it ironic that a feminist frets that there aren't more cheerleaders?

G.M. sends a corporate memo telling its employees to stop using the word "Chevy."

“We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward... When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding. Why is this consistency so important? The more consistent a brand becomes, the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer.”

But — as the linked NYT article notes — "Coke" is short for "Coca-Cola" and the company name Apple doesn't overwhelm the product names like iPhone and Mac. How obtuse can a corporation get?

If Coke had to pick one name for its product would it pick Coke or Coca-Cola? It would pick Coke, so why doesn't G.M. tell its employees to stop saying Chevrolet? The longer, Frenchier word is preferable to the very American nickname?

But I agree that consistency is important. The more consistently stupid a company is, the more its stupidity will be prominent and recognizable with the consumer.


What about all the pop songs?
Elton John, Bob Seger, Mötley Crüe and the Beastie Boys have all sung about Chevy, and hip-hop artists rap about “Chevy Ridin’ High” or “Ridin’ in My Chevy.”
Bye-bye, indeed, Miss American Pie. If General Motors has its way, you won’t be driving your Chevy to the levee ever again.
(Hey! Did the NYT write this article to try to cancel out that embarrassing misspelling — "levy" for "levee" — in David Brooks's column the other day?)

UPDATE: "We love it when people call us Chevy."

June 9, 2010

"We've almost gotten where we think it's funny. Now we're all blaming George for something in our family."

Laura Bush on how she and her family deal with the way the Democrats these days try to blame everything on George Bush.

"God, baby, look how beautiful it is."

Last words spoken on a mountaintop, just before lightning strikes and kills a young woman whose boyfriend was about to propose marriage.
"I crawled to her... I did CPR for probably 15 minutes, and the whole time was trying her cell phone, but I couldn't get anything out....

"I put the ring on her finger while the EMTs were working on her...

"I picked that spot because she actually said she would like to get married there... She absolutely loved the outdoors."

For public lewdness, should the charge of public lewdness be augmented with a charge of adultery?

The state doesn't go looking for adulterers and charge them with the crime of adultery, but this married woman was having sex in public and deserves the charge of public lewdness:

Watch the clip. The woman's self-justifications are priceless. ("Nothing was out there, nothing was showing. His genitals were exposed perhaps by the zipper, but that's it. But no one would see that.")

"The Gores have handled their decision to separate with dignity and grace. In doing so, they have given us all a great gift..."

Sally Quinn smarms it up revoltingly.
Separation and divorce are supposed to be bad. Marriage is a sacrament to many, a promise and a moral commitment to God and each other....
This is published in the WaPo's wretched "On Faith" section.
Not only should we respect their decision, but in some ways we should rejoice in it.....

They were together for 40 years, raised four kids, shared a lot of pain and a lot of joy, they have had an extraordinarily exciting life together and they should be proud of that. But people change, even those who are deeply committed to each other.....

People change and grow in different directions. That's seems to be what happened to the Gores....
That's seems to be it all right. I rejoice in your careful writing on this matter of deep and possibly sacred import.
There are those who will argue that marriage is a commitment that should be honored no matter what. That separating or divorcing because you are not totally fulfilled is egotistical or selfish. But what are you committing to when you get married? An institution? A spoken obligation?

Or are you committing yourself to a full partnership where each person is equal, mutually respectful and in love?

If that is the case, then Al and Tipper Gore made the right decision 40 years ago. And they made the right decision now.
But look, Sally, here's something new to massage into the squishy goo of your analysis:
The eldest daughter of Al and Tipper Gore, Karenna, has been separated from her husband, Andrew Schiff, for a couple months....

Karenna is 36. Andrew is 44. They married in 1997 and have three young children.
Rejoice? Great gift? Dignity and grace? Pride in the past shared life?

"Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am? It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title."

It's just a thing! And another thing is that a sharper, abler... ma'am is eager to undo all the hard work:
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and GOP candidate Carly Fiorina have already started sharply attacking each other and offering a preview of what could become one of the most compelling Senate races in the country this fall.

"In her 28 years as a career politician, Barbara Boxer is a bitter partisan who has said much but done little," Fiorina said in speech full of barbs at Boxer as she accepted the GOP nomination Tuesday night here. "She gets an A in politics, but she gets an F in achievement."....

Boxer, meanwhile, is one of the more liberal members of the Senate and voted three years ago against a war funding bill that did not include a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. She is one of the key backers of the climate change legislation in Congress and has voted for almost every part of President Obama's agenda in Washington...

In 2007, in criticizing the Bush administration's policy on Iraq, she highlighted the fact that then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice didn't have children, drawing ire from conservatives.

"Who pays the price?" Boxer asked Rice at a hearing while discussing families who might send their children to war. "I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families."
You may have a title, but you don't have an entitlement.

Citizens United — that dreaded Supreme Court case — empowered unions to "flush $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise."

The quote is from some unnamed White House aide. The money was spent trying to defeat the moderate Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in favor of a more labor-pleasing opponent (Bill Halter):
In recent weeks, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the AFL-CIO have begun to use the new Citizens United rules to promote their preferred candidates.... In a television ad that started airing late last month, AFSCME whacked Lincoln for moving her family permanently to Washington and taking money from corporate interests....

This ad is an example of "express advocacy"—defined as explicitly telling the public to vote for or against a specific candidate. Before the Citizens United ruling, corporations, unions, and other independent groups could only run express advocacy ads if they were funded by political action committees, which are restricted to $5,000 donations each year from individuals.... Now, those groups can use any funds for these campaign efforts....

Campaign finance experts say the AFSCME ad is a good example of what’s possible in a post-Citizens United world....
We shouldn't pretend ads don't work, but they don't work the way people who spend money on them want. For one thing, we get to see who paid for the ad, and if we're too dumb to put 2 and 2 together, we don't deserve a democracy. Arkansans could see that the unions wanted to get rid of Lincoln.

So it's nice to get a glimpse into what Citizens United will really mean:
Unions deployed "express advocacy" ads—which urge viewers to vote specifically for or against a certain candidate—using their own general funds, something they couldn’t do a year ago. And even then, they couldn’t push their man over the top.....
Of course, if unions aren't going to get much value out of the new power of free speech under Citizens United, the decision should become even more unpopular among those who already oppose it because it gives power to corporations. But I think there's a good chance that people will be skeptical of the express advocacy ads coming from corporations too. I think we're smart enough to think: They're for him? Then I'm against him.

"It's not a good sign when their anointed choice for Senator, a well-known three-term incumbent..."

"... loses 20% of the vote in their own primary against a couple of complete unknowns--after two transcontinental trips by President Obama to support her."

Mickey Kaus, about Barbara Boxer, to whom he had to concede.

June 8, 2010

"Bertrand Russell was so inept, physically, that he could never learn to make a pot of tea."

"Immanuel Kant could not manage to sharpen a quill pen with a penknife.

"John Stuart Mill could barely tie a simple knot."

A few lines from page 5 of "This Is Not a Novel." I love that book.

Written by David Markson, who died last Friday, at the age of 82.

"The film begins moments after the sinking of the Titanic."

"All who have drowned are brought back to life by a futuristic race of mermaids, called the Mantocks, who welcome the humans to their underwater paradise. Soon after, JACK DAWSON is elected king of the underwater humans. DAWSON requests that all humans be returned above water, a request that is denied by KING MANTROCK. The humans are slowly brainwashed into worshiping their mermaid saviors. Meanwhile, the sunken TITANIC has become a haunted underwater wasteland inhabited by RAGGARO and his band of mermaid pirates. Will the humans ever free themselves from their mermaid slavery? Will the mermaid pirates wage war on Mantock?"

(Via Cinematical, via NY Mag.)

"I don't sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

Obama talking tough. Reminds me of George Bush's "dead or alive" cowboy style.

The main difference between Obama's statement and Bush's is...
Bush actually intended to do what he said. Literally.
Obama's line is not true self-expression, but what others seemed to push him to say.
It's one thing to allude to the cowboy tradition, quite another to sound like a schoolyard bully.
Obama is trying to counterbalance his professorial image, but Bush was pretty much all cowboy.
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The perils of using children as political scenery.

Here's a kid you might feel like laughing at, especially if you enjoy watching things go wrong for President Obama. But please note that this child is sitting where he is sitting because he's in the choir, and the speech is at night. What time is it, and what time is he rousted out of bed in the morning?

A speech, even a pretty good speech, is boring, and it's hard to sit still, whether you are a kid or not. It's terrible to be watched by a big crowd when all you have to do is listen to somebody go on and on in a solemn oration. Here's a boy who participates in choir and probably didn't ask to be placed within the camera frame behind the President of the United States.

The poor kid is now an internet meme. Lots of LOLs. I just want to give him an internet hug and tell all the the adults to stop using kids as political props.

"The Japanese have their own eldercare crisis because of the size of their WWII widow population."

"Due to their understanding of the high costs of sufficient and appropriate eldercare, the Japanese government has spent one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) in grants (to Sanyo, Toshiba, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NEC, etc.) over the last eight to ten years to develop personal robots for their own eldercare crisis, yet no viable solutions have been developed by them to date."

"Viable" is a poignant word to use.

1828, from Fr. viable "capable of life" (1539), from vie "life" (from L. vita "life;" see vital) + -able. Originally of newborn infants; generalized sense is first recorded 1848.
It's a familiar word in the American law relating to abortion.

Is the eldercare problem in Japan really about all the men who died in WWII, or is more about the failure to produce new human beings who might take care of the old?

Will an electric bike make you lazy?

Or is it more of a danger to your feelings as real cyclists mock you?

"Great. A Soylent Green assisted suicide bathtub."

"I'm getting buried in mine. The wake will be sweet. Videos of me on the OLED at the service. Then when the lid is closed the mirror can remind everyone of their own mortality. Or something."

Are liberals terrible at understanding economics?

That's suppposedly what this survey shows. I think it may be possible to poke some holes in it, as this concession in paragraph 11 suggests:
To be sure, none of the eight questions specifically challenge the political sensibilities of conservatives and libertarians. Still, not all of the eight questions are tied directly...
... directly...
...to left-wing concerns about inequality and redistribution. In particular, the questions about mandatory licensing, the standard of living, the definition of monopoly, and free trade do not specifically challenge leftist sensibilities.
... specifically....

June 7, 2010

At the Helengoyle Café...

... take a good look at what you've done.

(Thanks to Palladian for the image.)

"Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing."

Christopher Hitchens explains his drinking habit in detail that would not be possible if he were "what the English so bluntly call a 'piss-artist.'"
The tongue must be untied. It's not a coincidence that Omar Khayyam, rebuking and ridiculing the stone-faced Iranian mullahs of his time, pointed to the value of the grape as a mockery of their joyless and sterile regime....
He offers some rules for drinking:
Don't drink on an empty stomach: the main point of the refreshment is the enhancement of food. Don't drink if you have the blues: it's a junk cure. Drink when you are in a good mood. Cheap booze is a false economy. It's not true that you shouldn't drink alone: these can be the happiest glasses you ever drain. Hangovers are another bad sign, and you should not expect to be believed if you take refuge in saying you can't properly remember last night.... Never even think about driving a car if you have taken a drop. It's much worse to see a woman drunk than a man: I don't know quite why this is true but it just is. Don't ever be responsible for it.
Speaking ill of women is another one of Hitchens's habits, but it might be true for some reason that it's worse for women to get drunk. I'm just thinking about sex in that regard. Women, drunk, could be raped. Drunk men lose their ability to perform. So I've heard, at least. But I don't mean to be dreary. Be cheerful, and you will fall within Hitch's drink when you are in a good mood rule.

It's not only okay to have 2 mommies. It's better.

A new study has found that the kids of lesbian parents turn out just as well-adjusted as their peers. What's more, they have fewer behavioral problems and greater self-confidence. That is to say, lesbian parents not only do just as well as hetero households on the child-rearing front, but they actually manage to do some things better....

Using a standard behavioral checklist, the parents evaluated their kids' emotional, social and academic behavior five times from birth until age 17, and the young'uns were interviewed at age 10 and age 17. The outcome: Kids raised by lesbians were less likely to have behavioral issues, and exhibited greater confidence and academic performance. 
So the mothers think well of their kids. Also:
[T]hese pregnancies were all planned.... [T]hese women had to actively seek out sperm donors and then undergo artificial insemination.

"Gamblers, please stop smoking... "

"... vulture brains."

The travails of a dermatologist.

Querying the advice columnist:
On an elevator, I once noticed a mole on a woman's back that looked very suspicious. Obviously she was not my patient, nor can I perform a lab test at that moment. However, I quietly mentioned that as a dermatologist, I felt she should have it checked by a doctor. Her response was very negative. I felt I was being treated like a pervert or an off-the-street weirdo. So, my question is: When I go out in public, should I shut my mole-dar off? After all, they are not my patients. Or is it the right thing to point out to someone that they may have a dangerous mole and should see a doctor as soon as possible?
It must be difficult to see skin this way. When everyone else is just enjoying ogling the fleshly parade, you're zeroing in on the flaws and speculating about cancer and death.

We were just talking about our dermatologist. It seems that every time we go in for a check-up, she finds one little dot to excise and test. I was thinking that if I were she, I'd visualize all those cut-out moles and wonder what a career's worth of moles would look like if they were all piled up into a big mountain... I mean, a mole hill.

"Everyone knows she is a nasty piece of work and has been a nasty piece of work for decades."

Jonah Goldberg tells us how he really feels about Helen Thomas:
And when I say a nasty piece of work, I don't simply mean her opinions on Israel. She's been full-spectrum awful. I've known a few people who knew her 40 years ago, and she was slimy then too...

Also, let's just get the liberal bias thing out of the way. If there was a right-winger who'd spouted so much bile, hate, and ideological agenda-driven nonsense in the White House briefing room for half a century it would be . . . oh wait, no such person would have ever been allowed to become a Washington "institution" in the first place. ..

Suddenly, all of these people and groups are stunned to discover that Helen Thomas is . . . Helen Thomas. Feh.


I can post again!

Sorry for the break in the flow of continuing bloggy goodness, but Blogger was down until just now.

Did ya miss me? I missed you!

June 6, 2010

At the Val-Dieu Tavern...


... you can talk all night.

"My truck is cooler..."

(Enlarge to read.)

"Your mother committed suicide, in a pact with a lover, in 1973. Did she suffer from lifelong depression?"

"No. I think she was having a bad menopause, and she was losing her looks, which were pretty impressive."

Is that any way for Hitchens to talk about his mother, who killed herself when he was 6 26?
Yes. She abandoned him, intentionally. This hostility is appropriate.
Yes. It's honest analysis, plainly stated.
No. He should show reverence or empathy or at least respect.
No, because it sounds demeaning toward women generally.

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CORRECTION: Hitchen's age at the time of his mother's suicide was 26, not 6. That mistake affected the first 40 votes or so. Sorry!

"I wanna, like, be the world's known terrorist."

"A lot of people need to get killed, bro, swear to God. My soul cannot rest until I shed blood.... Freaking Major Nidal, shaved-face-Palestinian-crazy-guy. He's not better than me. I'll do twice what he did... I'm going to get a gun. I'm the type of person to use it at any time.... I'll have more bodies on it than the hairs on my beard."

It's nice to be able to laugh at this idiocy.

Barack Obama shows you how to call in to radio shows to voice your support for Elena Kagan.

Complete with "calling tips":
Some hosts may challenge your views. Stay calm and firm....
And "discussion points":
Elena Kagan understands how the law affects ordinary Americans, giving a great deal of thought to legal issues which profoundly affect Americans’ everyday lives – including freedom of speech and government policy making.
If you say that, maybe the host will say: "What do you mean she's given a great deal of thought to government policy making? What does government policy making have to do with being a Supreme Court Justice and why should I care about the large amount of thought that's been given? Has she thought well and what does she think about law?" If that happens, stay calm and firm! And say what?

"What I started noticing around 2007 was that I seemed to be losing my ability to concentrate."

"Not just when I was sitting at a computer. Even when the computer was off and I tried to read a book, to sustain a single train of thought, I found it difficult."

If you don't click through and read the whole interview, you'll be proving him right. But he wants you to read his whole book. If you need to read it, you won't be able to. You won't want to. La la. Stay here with meeeee.......

"Among the dozens of giant bouquets of white roses, the famous faces lit by the glow of hundreds of candles included those of..."

"... former Bush White House weasel Karl Rove; former presidential hopeful and Law & Order star Fred Thompson; former Kansas City Royals slugger George Brett; Fox News talker Sean Hannity; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft; former Clinton White House weasel James Carville and his wife, GOP analyst Mary Matalin; and golfer Tom Watson, among others."

Aw, come on! You reused "weasel." Can't you think of some other loathsome animal?

"Al and Tipper are clearly thinking not in terms of the years behind but the years ahead."

"For them, there is still a whole lot of 'everything' to come. It may not be the fairy tale, but it is a classically American tale, with its themes of hope and promise and new beginnings."

Is that right?
Yes, if by "a whole lot of 'everything'" you mean decline and death.
Yes, in a lot of ways, life begins at 60.
No, with 40 years of your life invested in a marriage, it's fantasy to think you can start over.
No, 60 is old. Face it, and cling to the one person who's stood with you all these years.
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"Why has Twitter become a black thing?"

"I think this word-of-mouth sharing by black tweeters could be the continuation of the griot tradition (the keeping of tribal history) brought to America by West African slaves who, according to Paul Oliver's book Yonder Come the Blues, 'extemporize on current events, chance incidents and the passing scene.' The Edison study found that 'many of the 'trending topics' on Twitter on a typical day are reflective of African-American culture, memes and topics.'"

"With our soft, mushy Obama Stress Head, you can crush those half-baked liberal ideas..."

"... before they do any more damage. Plus... you can build up an iron grip at the same time. Pin his ears back, turn that smile upside down. Come on... you know you want to."

This is a novelty item offered by The Weekly Standard, a conservative opinion journal that generally maintains an attitude of seriousness and respectability.

Is the Obama Stress Head acceptable?
Yes, it's fine to have some cute fun at the expense of the powerful.
Yes, we deserve an outlet for our justified hostility against Obama.
No, any suggestion, even in fun, of physical violence against the President is wrong.
No, Obama is a decent man with a hard job to do and he doesn't deserve this low treatment.
No, the message of violence toward any human head should be beneath The Weekly Standard's standards.
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