June 19, 2010

We paid $11 for a pint of ice cream in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ice cream imported from... Ohio.


Jeni's. Flavor: Salty Caramel. I'm a sucker for caramel.

"I want someone w/ personality and energy; someone devoted to our planet and to doing things right."

(Enlarge to read.)

Saturday details, found on the street in Madison. I have no idea how that slip of paper came to rest on the sidewalk near the Wisconsin state capitol.

(Enlarge to see cigarette.)

I know how that cigarette came to be in that hole by the door at The Haze. I saw the man who was smoking it stow it there. I think he planned to come back out for more.


Does a flamingo tablecloth clip, a plastic strawberry, a beer, and a hairy arm require an explanation?


Is this turkey even right? This was a decal with marker-graffiti on the side of an old trailer parked on the street on the East Side. I imagine the turkey is belatedly making his argument for why the turkey and not the eagle should have been the U.S. national bird. In fact, bald eagles are scavengers, and as Ben Franklin wrote:
I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country, he is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly, you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to its nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him.... Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest. . . of America.. . . For a truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.
The turkey has personality and energy. He is devoted to our planet and to doing things right.

"Rand Paul Feels Sorry For Barton, While Limbaugh Doubles Down On Barton’s 'Shakedown' Claims."

Oh? Well, then, I guess Rush totally out-macho'd Rand. Rand needs to man up!

At the Double Rainbow Café...


... we're feeling twice as optimistic.

Now, get out of the duckweed pond and carry on your open-threading up here, in the new day, the day we call: June 19th! Yay! Hooray for June 19th! Isn't it gorgeous? I did get some gorgeous late-sleeping accomplished, so the day is off to a smashing start.

And here's the coolest version of a great old song:

There was a semester when I listened to that in my car every day when I drove my 5 minute drive to work. Someday you'll find it... And then I found it!


June 18, 2010

At the Duckweed Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

"Finally, Mississippi and Alabama get a room!"


And: "Panhandle Alert." The epidemic spreads.

There's nothing Wisconsin-related in those New Yorker cartoons about state maps. I remember seeing a hand-drawn cartoon in that State Street liquor store window that used to be full of funny signs. It had a map of Wisconsin and writing that said something like: "The Upper Pennisula! WTF? Did we lose a war or something?" That was many years ago. It still makes me laugh. I mean look at the map:

That is ours, baby. It's like that mitten is reaching up there an yanking off our manhood. And speaking of manhood, I think, if we had that peninsula that is rightfully ours, the politics of Wisconsin might shift from Mommy Party to Daddy Party.

A bus driver told a 20-year-old Madison man — whose underwear and buttocks were showing — to pull up his pants...

Public transportation in Madison, Wisconsin:
"[Larry] Wilks and three other unidentified subjects began to verbally attack the 45-year-old bus driver," said police spokesman Howard Payne. "He said 'You can't tell me what to do, and you better drive this bus.'"...

Wilks told police that he "didn't have to do anything" and allegedly got into a fight with the officer before being put into handcuffs, under arrest.

Others at the scene, apparently angered over the arrest, encircled the officer and Wilks, prompting the officer to call for backup.

"After the scene was calmed, Wilks stated he was not afraid to go to jail, and that proved to be directly in line with the officer's decision," Payne said.
IN THE COMMENTS: Sofa King said:
See, this is why I drive a car.
Oh, but what if we invested a billion dollars and got some wonderfully sleek and spiffy light rail trains? Surely, the Wilks ilk would pull up their pants.

United States versus Slovenia.

The controversy.

It's kind of pathetic that the refs manufactured a before-the-goal foul that no one else saw or can even describe, in spite the multiple cameras pointed at the field and the varied POVs the videos can show.
And you wonder why Americans don't like soccer? The refs wanted us to lose but had to settle for the tie.
Yeah, f•ck soccer.

Should cats be on leashes outside?

That's the yes/no question posed by USA Today. "No" is winning (though not by a lot), in part, I think because people think a cat on a leash is ridiculous or sad. It's a misinterpretation of the question, which should be understood to ask whether a cat should be on a leash if it is to be allowed outside at all. So "Yes" includes the idea that cats should indoors (or on the catio).

Oh! They're digging the body of Bobby Fischer out of his cold grave in Iceland.

They need to carve out some of his flesh in order to determine if 9-year-old Jinky Young is his daughter.

Photographs of photographs in a hairdo magazine.

There are uses for a digital camera other than to get to a photo that you want as a photo. One thing is to take a photograph of something that you need for reference, including a photograph of a photograph, like when you want to show your hairstylist what you have in mind....

It's always so extreme in these magazines. But you get the idea?

UPDATE: I showed my stylist those 3 pictures, and she laughed. My observation is that it seems as though people cutting hair are annoyed by the fact that women have faces and actual physical needs, such as the need to see.

An art installation in NYC: pianos plunked down in 50 different places where anyone can step up and play.

Art is important, but it's not more important the real hour-to-hour life of the people who must live with big and intrusive works of public art. Consider:
The concept, devised by British artist Luke Jerram, has put more than 130 pianos in parks, squares and bus stations since 2008 in cities including London, Sydney and Sao Paulo. And now it's New York City's turn to play, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday.

"There's going to be a huge amount of talent here," Jerram said in an interview. "The piano's actually a blank canvas for everyone's creativity, really, so I just hope that the city enjoys it."
So I just hope.... I just hope, if your apartment or office is within earshot of one of those pianos that you like "Chopsticks," "Für Elise," Billy Joel songs, and the way it sounds when someone drags their fingers the full length of the keyboard. Why do Jerram and Bloomberg think that saccharine everyman "creativity" will blossom? Hey, New Yorkers, have you seen this extremely popular YouTube tutorial — "How to play EXTREMELY annoying songs on piano"?

Oh, why am I so cynical?
Jerram got the idea at his local coin-operated laundry, according to a website about the project. He saw the same people there every weekend, but none of them talked to each other. He thought a piano might help bring people together in places like that.
You know, years ago, when we remodeled the law school building here at the University of Wisconsin, some lawprofs — I won't say who — thought it would be a wonderful idea to put a piano in the atrium — a big open space where the students hang out to talk or rest or study. These professors enthused about the existence of perhaps one student who was an accomplished classical pianist. They imagined bringing people together through the music that would be unleashed from the hulking object. I was horrified. It was one of the few times over the years — and I've been here for a quarter century — when I spoke out and told people — in person — that their well-intended project was unlikely to produce the human happiness they envisioned. (I hope a metaphor alert is unnecessary, but... liberal policies....)
The results in other cities have been surprising and life-changing, [the artist] said in an interview. A woman in Sao Paulo heard her daughter play for the first time on one of Jerram's pianos in a train station. The mother had worked to pay for lessons for four years, but the family had no piano at home.

In Sydney, a couple met at a piano and are now married, Jerram said.
So 4 individuals had a warm experience that they could have had in some other way. But then it wouldn't have pumped up the egos of the artist and the mayor.
"It seems like a good idea that brings a sense of fun and playfulness to the city," said David Rosenfeld, who was riding his bike in the area.
A man on a mechanical device that will scoot him right out of there if somebody's granddad decides to play "Woolly Bully" or "96 Tears."
Most pianos will be open for song until 10 p.m.
Oh, fine then. 10. After your nerves have been jangled for — what? — 14 hours, you can try to settle down to get enough sleep before it all starts again.

At least "Tilted Arc" was quiet.

June 17, 2010

Let's compare 2 men and 2 women in the same situation — about to hang up the phone.

2 men (the subject is Israel):

2 women (talking about Obama's and Palin's books):


The sunset, a few minutes ago.


Seen from Picnic Point. It was really pretty, complete with Corgi. See the Corgi?




Just a stranger's dogs. Not ours. We're dogless and get our dog-love where we can find it. A Corgi tonight. Perhaps poodles tomorrow.

It was quite beautiful. It was the first evening I saw fireflies. Fireflies, a runner in the dark, and...

... from over the lake, lights and crowd-squeals from a semi-final game of the 35th Annual Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Softball State Championships.

Yes, a mosquito bit me. But only one. There's nothing closer to perfection.

At the Dapple Café...



... no one will glare at you.

The NYT headline says: "Housing Market Slows as Buyers Get Picky."

But the text of the article says:
Everyone expected the housing market to suffer at least a temporary hangover after the government’s $8,000 tax credit expired, but not necessarily this much. Preliminary data from around the country indicates that the housing market began swooning last month immediately after the credit was no longer available.....
There isn't some new pickiness in the human character. The tax credit expired. Can we get a frank analysis of whether or not it was a bad policy? 

"As a liberal I can say that some horrible part of me almost relishes the unctuous drink of water at the end of the dingalink after Ann makes her point."

A comment at Bloggingheads, with a link — they call it a "dingalink" — to a very short video clip in which I'm supposedly being quite vile...

... quite delightfully vile.

And I think he only came up with "unctuous" because I said "lustrous."

8 Presidents on an energy independence mission.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
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The clock on the mantle ticks, Teddy Roosevelt is a faded image of military readiness, the VP bows his head in (pseudo?) prayer...

... and the grim ladies in coral and turquoise look to their leader, Barack Obama...


... who seems to be making a very precise point. Look at his hands:

And let's get a closer look at those BP executives (BP CEO Tony Hayward, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP General Counsel Rupert Bondy):

Svanberg, especially, seems capable of overmatching the President's determination.

But, of course, they are all posing. Including the usually lethargic Janet Napolitano — at the right, turned from the camera, dressed in electric blue — who seems roused for action. Not as roused as Teddy Roosevelt and his horse... and think about how difficult it would have been for a horse to pose for a painting like that. It's all phony of course, all the way down to TR and the horse he rode in on.

"Our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government."

"In fact, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies."

What do you think of that statement by Sharron Angle?
It's a solid, straightforward statement of traditional American values.
It's an troubling statement that suggests the candidate is violent or unstable.
It's political rhetoric that works on some people but is unwise because it will be used against her.
It's clever bait that invites her opponents to flaunt their antagonism to guns.
pollcode.com free polls

The fall of Perez Hilton.

He thought that was within the range of things we were doing, but he got that wrong. You can be edgy and daring and laughingly rude, but you can't do that.

"Men who go there are branded pigs. Gals who do it are denounced as catty, bitchy perpetuators of a system that fixates, unjustly and insultingly, on..."

... on hairstyles and, generally, the way women look. Michelle Cottle is ruminating over what Carly Fiorina said about Barbara Boxer's hair and, more specifically, how Carly tried to save herself from opprobrium by playing the breast cancer card:
“My goodness, my hair has been talked about by a million people, you know. It sort of goes with the territory.... Especially when you don’t have any hair. As you remember, I started out with none.”
Fiorina also likes to say things like: “After chemotherapy, Barbara Boxer isn’t very scary anymore.”
While overcoming any serious disease can make for a compelling political narrative, beating breast cancer is a struggle that resonates with, and makes a candidate more relatable to, women in particular....
From a purely strategic perspective, the heroic cancer narrative is hard to counter. ...

Invoking a breast cancer battle as a kind of character testimony is one thing; brandishing it as a partisan weapon is more problematic....

This kind of naked exploitation is risky—as is Fiorina’s using her survivor status to deflect criticism when she makes a bush-league mistake like Hairgate. But if the candidate can avoid such heavy-handedness, her more subtle invocations of her cancer battle could prove devastating in her fight for California women in particular.
Should a candidate can talk about his or her diseases? I remember Paul Tsongas doing it well, many years ago. It made him look sympathetic and strong... at least until it turned out he was actually too ill:
If Mr. Tsongas had gone on to win, America would now [in 1992] have a President-elect stricken with a debilitating, conceivably life-threatening disease....

When Mr. Tsongas' health became an issue during the primaries, his doctors at first said he had been free of all traces of cancer ever since, suggesting that the radical procedure had cured him. Only after he dropped out of the campaign did they acknowledge that he had suffered a "localized relapse," suggesting that the cure may not have been complete.

Now a cancerous growth has been found in Mr. Tsongas' abdomen....
Tsongas died of his cancer in 1997.

Exploiting one's cancer is a self-limiting political enterprise.

"The NYT is totally on this important urban trend story."

The Catio. That's from The Corner, but it made me wonder what's going on at Stuff White People Like these days. SWPL used to be all over stories like this. Now, it doesn't even manage a post a month. And yet the NYT still comes up with those style articles that were once mocked so skillfully there under the heading "White People in the News."

Here's one from April 2009 about people doing yoga with their dogs. Like the new "catio" article, it had a cutesy, pet-related coined word: Doga. The best part of these old "News" posts, was the list at the end of "Stuff Mentioned in the Article"
#53 Dogs
#15 Yoga
#26 Manhattan (now Brooklyn too!)
Portland, Oregon (Book)
#11 Asian Girls
#92 Book Deals
#101 Being Offended
Each item links to an old post that added an item to the master list of stuff white people like (or refers to the SWPL book). I guess we could do that ourselves for the catio article, but I can't help but feel that SWPL has been the victim of its own success. It can't be bothered, even when powerfully baited. I can't be bothered with it either. Plus, I can't put up with actually reading an article about city folk who encase their tiny balconies in wire fencing so the cat won't jump over the railing. If it were sickening hipsteresque, it might be fun, but that's just pathetic to put yourself in a cat cage.

The newest SWPL piece, from a couple weeks ago, is on the timely topic of the World Cup, which I've noticed the NYT is featuring right at the top of its front webpage these days. I thought Americans didn't care, but SWPL was never about white people or white Americans generally. It's about the subcategory of folk who read the NYT. Anyway:
[B]efore you start planning out long watching sessions with white people you should be aware of exactly why white people get so excited about the World Cup. Though you may be waiting on baited breath for your favorite sport on a global scale, white people like the World Cup because it allows them to pretend they are European for a few weeks....
By the way, the expression is "waiting with" — not "on" — "bated" — not "baited" — "breath," and if this guy knows so much about what white people like, he ought to know we like proper spelling, proper use of prepositions, and knowledge of idiomatic expressions. I do anyway.
Geoffrey Taylor, in his little poem Cruel, Clever Cat, 1933, used the confusion over the word to good comic effect:
Sally, having swallowed cheese
Directs down holes the scented breeze
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.
Cats! They're heartless killers. Of mice and, now, an unobscured view from the balcony.

"Death penalty scholars say that legislators tend to like lethal injection because it appears dignified and medical."

"When Utah officials were planning the state's most recent firing squad execution, they were met with interest from the international press, repeated comparisons to Old West justice, and a flurry of volunteers offering their services as executioners. Maybe firing squads get people going not just because they're unusual, but because they cater to a certain bloodthirstiness and obsession with guns. And because they seem like a more heroic way to die."

"The man drove up to a Hell's Angels clubhouse near Munich, wearing only a pair of shorts and carrying a puppy."

"He dropped his shorts and threw the dog, escaping on a bulldozer from a nearby building site."

The news from Europe, as reported by the BBC.

June 16, 2010

At the Overaggressive Rose Café...


... you don't have to do all the talking. Let the little buds get a word in.

"Some Kid."


(And don't miss this week's "Sunday Morning Talking Heads." "They're not being sufficiently subservient.")

How about a pill to increase a woman's sex drive?

But the side effects are dizziness, nausea and fatigue! Do take into account that a nausea pill would be helpful for weight loss.

Anyway, the main issue here is what counts as sexual dysfunction in a female? And what comes first, the pill or the condition it's supposed to treat?
“This is really a classic case of disease branding,” said Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s medical school who researches drug marketing and has studied the campaign. “The messages are aimed at medicalizing normal conditions, and also preying on the insecurity of both the clinician and the patient.”

The world is so pretty and all a-glow...

... when you're drunk.

ADDED: Via commenter Seven Machos, the AV Club says:
Landscape painter Thomas Kinkade—known as the “Painter Of Light” because he trademarked that phrase for himself, and as a purveyor of patriotic and Christian-themed images that are meant to contain a “larger moral dimension”—has been busted for drunk driving. It’s part of a pervasive pattern of self-destructive behavior for Kinkade, whose innocuous, assembly-line images of peaceful cottages, Jesuses, and snow scenes have made him the nation’s self-described “most collected artist,” which is sort of like Velveeta bragging that it’s “America’s most sought-after cheese.” As Kinkade himself once said, “We have found a way to bring to millions of people an art that they can understand,” which just about sums up his Norman Rockwell-meets-Walmart approach.
Go to the link to see a few attempts Photoshop the mug shop into a Kinkadesque vision of light.

At the Shy Bee Café...

DSC_0010 copy

... creep into this delicate shade, hide from the cruel word, and tell me your tender secrets.

"It is not unheard of for First Ladies to skip town unnoticed... But Michelle Obama's absence raised a critical question: Who is tending to the garden?"

WaPo drivel for mush-headed ladies reaches a new low.

"Barack spent so much time by himself that it was like he was raised by wolves."

Said Michelle Obama, as quoted by a friend, as quoted by Maureen Dowd, who is writing about how, when voting for Obama, we had the feeling that we were (finally) getting a President who's very normal. How does that work? Raised-by-wolfishness leads to (a semblance of) normality? Solitude fosters a deep longing to be with others and one overachieves in the appearance of normal department?

Maureen doesn't answer those questions. She merely murmurs "he seemed to have come through exceptionally well adjusted. " She quotes an Obama hagiographer's dubious quotation:
“His aides from the Senate, the presidential campaign, and the White House routinely described him with the same words: ‘psychologically healthy,’ ” writes Jonathan Alter in “The Promise”...
Isn't it funny that Alter put "psychologically healthy" in quotes when referring to the words of what appears to be a large crowd of individuals? If anything, that large crowd of individuals sounds a bit deranged, if they were really all mouthing the same mantra about their leader.
So it’s unnerving now to have yet another president elevating personal quirks into a management style.
We thought he was so normal that now we're unnerved — we're so unstable! — to find out that, like all those nutty other Presidents — Dowd cites Bush, Clinton, LBJ, and Nixon — Obama's got his quirks too.

Hey, Maureen, how about peering into the complexities of the appearance of normal? Whenever I hear the word "normal" used to gloss over things, I think of one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies, Kubrick's "Lolita." It's the one where Peter Sellers, as Clare Quilty, is pretending to be a cop and inquiring into what Professor Humbert is doing at a hotel with that "pretty, tall, lovely little girl":
I said to myself when I saw you... there's a guy with the most normal-looking face I ever saw in my life... It's great to see a normal face, 'cause I'm a normal guy. Be great for two normal guys to get together and talk about world events, in a normal way....

What was the matter with your wife?... She had an accident! That's terrible! Fancy a normal guy's wife having an accident like that! What happened to her?... I get sort of carried away, being so normal and all....
I could easily have a word with George Swine. He's a really normal, nice sort of guy and I've only got to have a normal word in his ear and you'd be surprised what things could happen.... It's his job to fix you up with something nice. He gets paid for doing that and when he sees a guy like you, all normal... I think you're really normal.... Before you go, I was wondering whether maybe in the morning, you know... me being lonely and normal....
I'm sorry. The word "normal" has had extra texture to me since I saw that movie about 40 years ago.

But Dowd says "normal" and moves on. She describes the emergent quirkiness of the man whose normality supposedly impressed us so much we made him President. (Here's another Peter Sellers movie you need to see, by the way, if you want to fully experience the political chatter around Barack Obama.) Dowd, then:
How can a man who was a dazzling enough politician to become the first black president at age 47 suddenly become so obdurately self-destructive about politics?

President Obama’s bloodless quality about people and events, the emotional detachment that his aides said allowed him to see things more clearly, has instead obscured his vision. 
Oh, but isn't it so much more likely that we were the ones whose vision was obscured? We need to take responsibility. In the end the story of Barack Obama will make perfect sense. It will all fit together. The lonely man — raised by wolves — swept up into our American psychosis.
“Even though I’m president of the United States, my power is not limitless,” Obama, who has forced himself to ingest a load of gulf crab cakes, shrimp and crawfish tails, whinged to Grand Isle, La., residents on Friday. “So I can’t dive down there and plug the hole. I can’t suck it up with a straw.”
We need to suck it up. We need to see what we've done. We've elected a man, and we need to cast aside our silly illusions and see what we've done. He's not the essence of magical "normal." He's a particular man with skills and limitations, and he is our President for the next few years. Now, shape up, see clearly, and deal with it.



Time passes slowly ....

That video is from one of our longtime favorite commenters, rhhardin, who says:
Approaching Turkey in the Straw diagnosed and awaited, video from Monday bike commute.

The business model is doubtful, with the kids safely indoors in modern times.
That's from last night's "café" post — the one with the orange flower — where another favorite commenter, Lem, transports us into a long car ride with his wonderful father:
Anyway.. I had a good time driving my dad.. for about seven hours.. he drove the rest.

I caught a sign in PA that said "where is the birth certificate?"..

We both happen to see it and when I finally did a half hearted ha ha (because I didn't get it right away) my father asked me what do you think?

..he eventually told me about what he calls the "American Concupiscence of Obama".

and of course he told me ther is a price to pay for that kind of thing.

He told me that "codicia" (lust) is not only a material, nor only a sexual mater the way people like to pretend.
The conversation was, I think, in Spanish.
He said that [like] any object of desire that is able to overcome fears, it is a (for lack of a better explanation) godlike.

According to my father.. the seemingly "impossibility" of Obama becoming president played right into his theme of "hope and change".. So that when it did happened (he became president) people assigned to it a divine like experience/intervention.. and now with the spill he is (unlike Bush) "uniquely qualified" to stop it.. or everything they believed is in jeopardy.

I wish I could put it to you all in the poetic way my father does.

When he spoke.. it was as if I already knew it.. It felt good.

For people to blame themselves for the spill is a stretch.. it is the only thing keeping Obamas hopes alive.

If people blame Obama.. in their minds (says my father) they might as well blame themselves.. specially if they voted for him (i said) ... and my father said after a pause that seemed jarring dislocated.. my father voted for Obama.
I didn't react to that.. (thank God) It would have been disrespectful to him.. the fact that he told me it was not so as to give me an opportunity to call it into question. I think it it was more to brace waht he had been telling me about.. "The American Concupiscence of Obama" had been real enough to carry him away like a Hoover Dam Relief.

I wish Lem could capture that poetry on video. I picture Lem's father as a YouTube wise man.

Some commenters told me that the flower photograph looks like a painting. I've been a painter in my time, and the truth is: It doesn't look like a painting at all. I said:
The reason this flower looks like a painting is because it lacks something that — ironically — I would put in if I were doing a painting of it. There are no black/gray shadowy areas demarcating the depths of the folds. It's just more orange. It's not what the brain thinks will be there, but it's what the camera sees.
You could look at that photograph and paint without thinking so much and thereby produce a painting that looks like a photograph. Artists have done that, creating the illusion that some photographs look like paintings. But it is, most assuredly, the other way around.


Time passes slowly up here in the daylight
We stare straight ahead and try so hard to stay right
Like the [orange] rose of [late spring] that blooms in the day
Time passes slowly and fades away...

June 15, 2010

At the Perfectly Orange Café...


... everything is perfectly arranged.

"Life is about people and friends and the relationships you have with the people you love."

"That's what life is all about, and when you look back, the nostalgic moments, the warm moments of your life always will be about that, always will be about relationships that you had with people that you love, always will be about events that you have experienced with people that you love."

(That's Rush Limbaugh, at the end of a long monologue about his wedding.)

Let's watch Obama's big speech.

7:06: He's laying out a "battle plan" to fight the leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. He's "deploying" the military.

7:08: What to do during the "siege." A decision has been made to speak in military terms. Of course, he's not the first President to ask us to think about a nonmilitary problem in military terms. The War on X... the moral equivalent of war....

7:12: To make sure this won't happen again, Obama is establishing a commission.

7:15: We need to "jump start" the "clean energy" future. There's "the potential" to create "millions of jobs" but "only" if we "act together." We need to do something big at the national level to make this happen. Some people say we can't afford this, but he's saying we can't afford not to do it. He's vague about what this will be. The only thing he won't accept is doing nothing. He won't accept the "paltry limits of conventional wisdom." So even though we don't "precisely know" what we need to do, we will do it. Like we did in WWII and in going to the moon. We'll do something. And it will have to be big, but we don't know what it is. Then he drops from that scarily high level of abstraction and the unknown to... shrimpers. Something about shrimp people. We must think BIG and... shrimpy.

7:20: And suddenly, it's getting religious. I think he's bringing this speech in for a landing, because... it's a bit prayer-like. There's a "hand" that will "guide us." And — yes — it is the end: "May God bless America."

7:26: Well, that was a terrible speech! When it wasn't grim and dreary, it was grandiose. But the grandiosity was so vague... and half-hearted. Oh! The malaise!

AND: Here's the text of the speech. This is the part that interested me most:
As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs -– but only if we accelerate that transition.  Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation –- workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors.  
This is the anti-capitalist move. There is all this opportunity, but free enterprise and capitalism can't take advantage of it. We need a top-down, government-imposed scheme, he announces. He doesn't explain why. It's an article of faith.
Now, there are costs associated with this transition [towards energy independence].  And there are some who believe that we can’t afford those costs right now.  I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy....
This is such embarrassing cliché rhetoric: Some say we can't do it. I say we can't not do it.

He cites a bunch of modest ideas that have been suggested and says we should think about them, then says that we have to do something, even though you could take all those things together, impose them, and still not break what he calls our "addiction" to fossil fuel. He blathers about WWII and the moon landing -- as noted above --  and talks about "what has defined us as a nation": "the capacity to shape our destiny....  Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like.  Even if we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there.  We know we’ll get there." That is so hopelessly grandiose and vague, and to keep us from looking at it too long and despairing, he's all: Look! Shrimp!
Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe.  It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea....
It's the shrimp and religion combo platter. Yummy!

It is plain that extreme measures are required to stave off global warming.

"President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies plan a major new push for a broad global warming bill... Obama plans to include a call for an energy bill in his Oval Office address about the Gulf on Tuesday night. And the Obama administration has told key senators that 'an energy deal must include some serious effort to price carbon as a way to slow climate change'..."

You see why this is absolutely necessary, don't you? What if nothing is done and global warming... doesn't happen? What a disaster! But if disastrously extreme measures are taken and then global warming doesn't happen? What a great relief! It will be impossible to tell whether the solution worked or whether global warming just wasn't going to happen anyway. Win-win!

So what's Larry David cooking up for the new season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"?

Oh, nooooooooooo!

Second thought: oh, yes! I completely want to see what Larry does with this: his wife having sex with... gasp!... Al Gore.

Run with it, Larry. I loved when "South Park" mocked Al Gore — as ManBearPig. He makes a great figure of fun. Come on, Larry. Puncture that inflated globe of a man.

We were just checking out Laurie David's website. My, she looks distinguished there. And I love that Albert Einstein quote she uses in her banner: "We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if manbearpig is to survive.

Details from the Daily News:
[Star Magazine] says the ex-veep and the comedian's ex have been involved for two years....

Laurie David ... co-produced "An Inconvenient Truth," the Oscar-winning documentary about Gore and his campaign against global warming....

"The story is completely untrue," Laurie David said in a statement. "It's a total fabrication. I adore both Al and Tipper. I look at them both as family. And I have happily been in a serious relationship since my divorce."....

The Gores' stunning split after 40 years of marriage has prompted wildly varying explanations in the gossip sheets: Globe magazine said Al was gay, and the National Enquirer said Tipper was crazy.
 Hmmm.  Those tabloids!

If you're so smart, why don't you want to work with your hands?

"They started out studying aerospace engineering, creative writing and urban planning. But somewhere on the path to accumulating academic credentials, they decided that working with their hands sounded more pleasant -- and lucrative -- than a lot of white-collar work. So bye-bye to term papers and graduate theses, and hello to apprenticeships to become plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics and carpenters."

Via Instapundit
, who says these hands-on kinds of jobs "are harder to send offshore." I'd like to add that, quite aside from the problems with the job market these days, that there is no reason why individuals with strong intellectual aptitude need to be tracked into jobs that fully employ the mind.

Why not prefer to work primarily with your hands (and your body) and keep your mind free so you can do what you want with it? There are jobs that enhance the contemplative environment for your mind. (What are they? Carpentry?) If you have a good mind, why not keep it for yourself instead of selling it to an employer?

Isn't physical labor preferable, even — especially! — for the most intellectually gifted persons?

There will be no cat fight...

... over this hat fight.

Would you hang a portrait of yourself in your house?

Even if it were painted by a convicted murderer?

Lightning hit a 62-foot-high Jesus Christ at the Solid Rock Church in Ohio and burned it down.

Pics of "Touchdown Jesus" and video of the fire at the link."
As fire gorged the iconic statue, several motorists along I-75 pulled over to photograph the sight....

The sculpture stretches 40 feet wide at the base. It was made of plastic form and fiberglass over a steel frame.
Plastic foam and fiberglass... at the Solid Rock Church.
A pond surrounding the statue that used to be full of fish is now filled with remnants of the structure, made of fiber glass and foam. All the fish are either dead or dying....
No miracle for these fish. I was going to Google some relevant stuff about the miracle of the fish, but Google being what it is, a search for "miracle of the fish" turned up things like:
How Miracle Whip, Plenty of Fish Tap Lady Gaga's 'Telephone ...
Mar 13, 2010 ... At least nine different brands make appearances in Lady Gaga's nine-minute music video, "Telephone," from HP Envy to Miracle Whip and Wonder ...
adage.com/madisonandvine/article?article_id=142794 - Cached
Ah! The world is strange, but perhaps God is trying to tell us something.

"Gah! I'd rather hear the Insane Clown Posse attempting to sing KISS song backwards in Chinese."

The Crack Emcee has strong opinions about music and he does not want to hear "that arrogant adulterous asshat hypocrite douchebag."

And read Crack's blog. He's always ranting hilariously about something. And the pictures are unreal.

June 14, 2010

At the Bee Café...


... keep the buzz going all night.

I talk to Eve Tushnet about sex, religion, and being the "freak of the week" in the New York Times.

"See that man over there? He's a movie star, and I get to sleep with him every night."

Catherine Zeta-Jones "can't believe [she] said something as crass as that," which she did, looking gorgeous and genuinely surprised, as she accepted the Tony award she won last night.

"The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself..."

Reports the NYT:

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
Wow. Great. Of course...
“The big question is, can this be developed in a responsible way, in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible?... No one knows how this will work.
ADDED: If Afghanistan needs a new national anthem, there's always the greatest grunge song of all time.

Apparently, to North Carolinians, the words "Do you fully support the Obama agenda?" are fighting words.

What is wrong with that man tortfeasor?

How can Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC2) think he can lay hands on someone for asking a question like that? Why did that question make him so angry? Look how much he believes in his own capacity and right to intimidate! Quite aside from the manhandling, where does Etheridge get the idea that someone who asks a question is required to divulge his name? Is he completely deranged? Does he not remember what a camera is? Has he never heard of YouTube? I bet he has now.

ADDED: Here's how WaPo's Dave Weigel minimizes the story:
But without any name or organizational support, just by riling up a member of Congress, the students have created the first conservative meme of the week. They seem to have learned from organizations such as ThinkProgress that any video of a member acting strangely, no matter how grainy, is grist for the Web.
And Weigel is aptly embarrassed by the first comment:
You refer to this dismissively as "video of a member acting strangely." Sorry, this isn't so easily dismissed. It's video of a member acting thuggishly, committing an assault and battery. And it's video of a member who has the arrogance to claim he has a right to know the identity of someone who asked me a question on the street. He doesn't have any such right. What he has is the dangerous notion that he's exempt from the laws of the District of Columbia and from the dictates of a civil society. And by your so cavalierly dismissing his outrageous behavior, you're complicit.

Posted by: Rob_ | June 14, 2010 10:52 AM...
Of course, the big question now — for anyone with a Weigel-y mentality — is: Who's Rob_?

MORE: This came in the email:
I'm Rob_ 

I know your question at the end of the Etheridge post was facetious, but I figured I'd answer it anyway. I'm Robert Cantor, a retired lawyer and amateur photographer in Rockville, Maryland, unaffiliated with Andrew Breitbart or any other political or journalistic operation but fascinated both by Etheridge's outrageous behavior and the way it was covered in the media. Not only did Weigel mischaracterize it and treat it dismissively, but others like CBS chose to edit down the battery to eliminate Etheridge's very rough grabbing of the young man's neck as well as the repeated requests from the young man that Etheridge let him go. The New York Times, following the pattern of its coverage of Van Jones and Helen Thomas, waited to report anything about the incident until Etheridge had apologized, then made his apology the story and reported little about the incident itself. Thank goodness for Glenn Greenwald, who had the integrity to call for Etheridge to be arrested and the courage to call out the commenters to his post who defended Etheridge.
(Rob gave me permission to copy this.)

"Wow! Jimmy Dean. He was pretty cute when he was young!"

What I exclaimed, after seeing that Jimmy Dean had died and Googling "Jimmy Dean" and seeing this...

... and it took me a couple seconds to recover from the dazzle of male beauty and realize the essential stupidity of Google.

What I was really looking for was the old TV show, "The Jimmy Dean Show." What passed for entertainment in 1964:

Was Rowlf the Dog the original Muppet? He was the first Muppet star!

I remember watching that show. I don't have much to say about Jimmy Dean. He seemed like a nice man — I've heard otherwise, but I won't pass the story on. He's dead. Here's a piece about whether, now that Dean's dead, Dean's song "Virginia" ought become the Virginia state song:
Virginia is one of the few states that has no official tune. It's been without one since 1997, when the General Assembly retired "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," because its lyrics were deemed racist. 
"Deemed racist"? "Virginny" was "where the old darke'ys heart am long'd to go."
The state has repeatedly tried to choose a replacement, notably by appointing a 12-member committee that sifted through 400 suggestions and whittled them down to eight finalists.

One of those finalists was the appropriately titled "Virginia." It was a ditty played for legislative committees by its composer, song-writer and Varina resident Jimmy Dean.
Is the song any good? I can't find an on-line video rendition of it, and apparently neither could the author of the linked column. There's video there, but not of the song "Virginia." It's a video of Jimmy Dean singing his hit song "Big Bad John." Which he didn't write. (It's by Dean and Roy Acuff.) [CORRECTION: Dean co-wrote the song. Somehow I managed to read "Dean and Roy Acuff" as referring to Roy Acuff and some other guy named Dean Acuff! Ha.] And it's a big, big song. I love it. I listen to it every time it comes on "60s on 6" (my favorite satellite radio channel). Go listen to it. I don't think there's a better storytelling song. 

Do I have to mention the sausage too? (NSFW:)

June 14th, Flag Day.

June 13, 2010

The Tea Party movement in Wisconsin is doing very well, but it's not clear that it will endorse Russ Feingold's Republican opponent Ron Johnson.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
[Ron] Johnson associated himself with the movement, and erroneous media reports portrayed him as an Oshkosh tea party founder, creating the false impression he had received a tea party endorsement.

Johnson has fueled the confusion at times, talking about "taking the tea party to Washington" while downplaying his association at other times. The situation created a mini-backlash among tea party folks who knew little or nothing of Johnson, an Oshkosh businessman who entered the Republican primary race in early May.

Now Johnson has told tea-party leaders he will be glad to accept their invitations to attend sessions in which group members quiz candidates on their views....

The Democrat seeking re-election in the Senate race, Russ Feingold, has cast votes against bank bailouts and the Patriot Act that match up with tea party views, his campaign says.

"We're going to fight for every voter in the state," said John Kraus, Feingold's senior campaign strategist. "We have a good record on many of the issues these folks care about."
I like seeing the Democratic Party candidate fight for the Tea Partiers. Republican candidates shouldn't be able to automatically appropriate the energy of the Tea Party movement.

At the Orange-Pink Café...



... there's never enough color.

"Instead of simply vanishing, a large bubble disperses into a ring of smaller bubbles."

"Pop" science.

"A cougar, a guido and a nerd walk up to a bar..."

"And none got in. At least not at the uber-hip Boom Boom Room."

"I think it's appropriate to give my kids whatever I want to give my kids" — including a $360,000 car.

Sean "Diddy" Combs's son turns 16 and gets a Maybach.
"I feel the way I raise my children, I don't have to explain to you or anyone else, 'cause nobody knows the way I raise my children. So nobody knows the lessons that I've taught my children to understand, if they are mentally ready for that."
Asked whether he's teaching the teenager the wrong lesson:
"It wasn't even about a lesson; it's what I wanted to do... I could do whatever I want to do and you can't question me about it."
Yeah, it's none of our business. So... why do we even know about it?

I rewatched "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

I saw this movie when it came out and wrote about it — using my random list blogging approach — on August 15, 2008. The movie is all about romantic love and sexual feeling, and when I saw if the first time, I hadn't been in love in a long while. So it was fun to see it again and to go back and read that old post about it. And it was really fun to dip into the comments and find my then-future-husband Meade, who said: "If only I had a nickel for every time someone has come up to me on the street and mistaken me for a lesbian Javier Barden..." Ha. Lord knows what I pictured back then, before Meade ever sent me his photograph. But did the movie affect me differently now that I have my dear Meade? I'd say it made a deeper impression when I was love-deprived, because it's about people trying to understand and get to the love they want.

Too much personal happiness may diminish one's appreciation of art!

In the movie, Javier Bardem — Meade typo'd his name — plays an artist who can't maintain a stable attachment to his wife. He passionately loves her, but it's all tempestuous and violent. And it makes his art fabulous, of course. He's splattering paint all over the canvas — as painters in movies usually do, because it's not sufficiently cinematic to be dabbing paint carefully. A great exception to the movie rule that every painter must fling paint like Jackson Pollock is the Catherine Keener character in "Synecdoche, New York." She paints pictures so extremely tiny they require magnifying glasses to view.

But painting in movies is always a metaphor for sex, is it not? It's different sex in Synecdoche and Barcelona. And that makes me wonder if, on rewatch today, "Synecdoche, New York" would make a deeper impression.

What are the works of art that become more profound when you are, in real life, experiencing great happiness?

Sarah Palin had breast implants, she's divorcing Todd, she bought a place in the Hamptons, and Trig is not her own child.

Things that are equally untrue, per Sarah Palin.
"Nooo, I have not had implants," said Palin. "I think a report like that is about as real and truthful that Todd and I are divorcing or that I bought a place in the Hamptons or that Trig is not my own child.

"And we still put up with that garbage, too."

Speculation was rampant after photos of the former Alaskan governor at the Belmont Stakes showed her looking a little more buxom than usual.

"'Boobgate' is all over the Internet, because there are a lot of bored, idle bloggers and reporters with nothing else to talk about," Palin said in the interview.
Come on, Sarah, don't put down bloggers generally. And don't put down talking about breasts generally. I reject the idea that breasts belong at the bottom of the list of things to talk about. Breasts are important. They mean something. Let's not minimize their significance in our culture. They are the subject of many journals, books, and movies. I have taken my knocks for talking about the meaning of breasts in politics (though, of course, the knockers were my political opponents, motivated to squelch what was a criticism of Bill Clinton, whose attraction to Lewinskis was well-known ). So I will talk about breasts, and it's not at all for lack of better raw material. Breasts are big! Let's talk about them!

Now, speaking of breasts and bloggers, what amuses me — aside from the endless obsession with Sarah Palin, specifically, and with the physical aspects of female politicians, generally — is the low level of knowledge of breasts on the part of the Boobgate bloggers. They didn't seem to realize that different bras and different kinds of shirts and jackets affect the way breasts look. A woman can draw attention to her breasts or downplay them. In professional settings and for political appearances, women tend to wear jackets. Even when jackets are fitted through the midsection, they flatten and disguise the curve of the chest. That's the point: to blunt the point.

By contrast, the contour of the breasts is accentuated by a knit top — especially if it's thin, clingy, and light-colored, like the one Sarah Palin wore to the Belmont Stakes. And when a woman wears such a shirt, it's particularly easy to perceive the existence of nipples. Everyone knows they are in there, but reasonably modest women — like Sarah Palin — try to avoid the nipple protrusion of the sort you can see in this photo of that woman who's suing her ex-employer for objecting to the way she dressed for work. The way to do that — and I laugh at people who write about breasts but don't know this! — is to wear a bra with a reasonably thick layer of foam padding.

I feel sorry for the bloggers who know so little about breasts that when they saw that Palin photograph, their first explanation was surgery. Before you think scalpel, think Occam's razor: the simplest explanation is most likely. Palin was wearing a t-shirt and a t-shirt bra. Now, go, get a life, and some real experience of your own in this fleshly world, you blogger losers.

ADDED: Thanks to Crack Emcee (in the comments) for pointing out my typo:  "a reasonably think layer of foam padding." Corrected.