August 7, 2010

A desperate scenario...


... on a windowsill.

The sexiest soda.

(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

In the 90s, when I drew the news, I liked to capture someone saying something I completely disagreed with.



I look at it now and see how it would be a blog post.

At the Yard Work Café...


... get out your manure forks.



"The answer is quite simple, it's because I'm a woman, it's because they think they can do anything to women in this country."

The woman is Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. The country, Iran.
"It's because for them adultery is worse than murder – but not all kinds of adultery: an adulterous man might not even be imprisoned but an adulterous women is the end of the world for them. It's because I'm in a country where its women do not have the right to divorce their husbands and are deprived of their basic rights."...

"When the judge handed down my sentence, I even didn't realise I'm supposed to be stoned to death because I didn't know what 'rajam' means. They asked me to sign my sentence which I did, then I went back to the prison and my cellmates told me that I was going to be stoned to death and I instantly fainted."...

"They wanted to get rid of my lawyer so that they can easily accuse me of whatever they want without having him to speak out. If it was not for his attempts, I would have been stoned to death by now."

"How are you?" "I'm... I'm dying."

Christopher Hitchens has, it seems, decided to perform the drama of dying of cancer on camera, being interviewed by whatever media people are willing to step up and ask him how does it feel...

... and when if ever will you start praying.

"The New Deal is demographically obsolete. You can’t fund the dream of the 1960s on the economy of 2010."

Says Richard Lamm, the former Governor of Colorado. A Democrat.

"Dear all. Cut my hair off a few days ago. Feels incredible. I love it."

Hermione's haircut. I say: Beautiful!

Just like Mia Farrow!

"I miss nothing more than just driving right along Lake Shore Drive. I would love to hop in a convertible right now."

Obama's lament. (One hopes Michelle, who's been vacationing, conspicuously, without him, doesn't take that the wrong way.)

Spare an invisible tear, perhaps, for the death of a mime.

Lorene Yarnell, of Shields and Yarnell, has died at the age of 66.

Here's the marionette routine. And here they are as street performers in 1973.

August 6, 2010

An "anti-imperialist freedom fighter" dies of uterine cancer at the age of 62.

"Marilyn Buck, who served more than two decades in prison for her role in the 1981 Brink’s armored-car robbery in Rockland County, N.Y., in which three people were killed, died on Tuesday at her home in Brooklyn."

She was sentenced to 50 years in prison but was released last month... to die.

"He stands swaying, his actions only slightly interrupted by the amputation of half his head."

Writes Gordon Grice in "The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators."
Then, while she is still eating, he crawls onto her back. He seems in this semiheadless state to have found a renewed vigor and sense of purpose. There will be no more showy stunts. His pale penis emerges from the rear of his body, extruded between the plates of his exoskeleton. His abdomen snakes around beside hers and forms a painful-looking curve. They begin to copulate.
Mantis sex. That description! Whew! It goes on...
Turning her face almost 180 degrees, she regards him for a moment, as if his attentions were a distasteful surprise. Then, twisting with some difficulty, she brings her raptorial forelimbs into position and strikes again. This time she retrieves the remainder of his head and a scrap of his thorax, from which one foreleg dangles.

He doesn't seem to mind.
He doesn't seem to mind! Ha. Well, try minding something when you have no mind. Anyway, there's quite a bit more, and the main idea is that the male insect's sexual performance is improved by the absence of a head: "He performs with more gusto once he's decapitated." Apparently, the brain is a source of inhibition.

I have exclamation points in the margin in this passage of the book, which I read a dozen years ago (when I went through a period of intense fascination with the essay form). I just got the book down from the shelf to answer a question over on Ask MetaFilter: "Can you please recommend good books (fiction or nonfiction) or websites about insects and/or spiders..? Not so much identification books, but ones about how they live, interact, etc." It was fun reading that again. I should leaf through other old books of mine and pluck out passages with exclamatory marginalia.

"Judge Vaughn R. Walker is not Anthony Kennedy. But when the chips are down, he certainly knows how to write like him."

Writes Dahlia Lithwick, seemingly knowingly...
I count—in his opinion today—seven citations to Justice Kennedy's 1996 opinion in Romer v. Evans (striking down an anti-gay Colorado ballot initiative) and eight citations to his 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas (striking down Texas' gay-sodomy law). In a stunning decision this afternoon, finding California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative banning gay marriage unconstitutional, Walker trod heavily on the path Kennedy has blazed on gay rights: "[I]t would demean a married couple were it to be said marriage is simply about the right to have sexual intercourse," quotes Walker. "'[M]oral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest,' has never been a rational basis for legislation," cites Walker. "Animus towards gays and lesbians or simply a belief that a relationship between a man and a woman is inherently better than a relationship between two men or two women, this belief is not a proper basis on which to legislate," Walker notes, with a jerk of the thumb at Kennedy.

Justice Kennedy? Hot sauce to go with those words?...
Any way you look at it, today's decision was written for a court of one—Kennedy—the man who has written most eloquently about dignity and freedom and the right to determine one's own humanity.
Justice Kennedy is certainly very important in the prediction of what the Supreme Court will do, and Walker may have written with the intent to influence him, but let's give Sandra Day O'Connor the respect she deserves. The line "moral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest,' has never been a rational basis for legislation" is from O'Connor's concurring opinion in Lawrence — and Walker's opinion is clear about that (on p. 133).

No other Justice joined O'Connor, who rested on the Equal Protection ground. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion relying on the Due Process ground — talking about "the heart of liberty" being "the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." That's what Lithwick refers to in her last sentence about writing "eloquently about dignity and freedom." But the O'Connor opinion in Lawrence will be more important in determining the same-sex marriage question, because that isn't a request to be left alone. It's a request for equal legal status — for recognition from the state.

O'Connor wrote:
Moral disapproval of this group, like a bare desire to harm the group, is an interest that is insufficient to satisfy rational basis review under the Equal Protection Clause.... Indeed, we have never held that moral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest, is a sufficient rationale under the Equal Protection Clause to justify a law that discriminates among groups of persons. 
Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate governmental interest under the Equal Protection Clause because legal classifications must not be “drawn for the purpose of disadvantaging the group burdened by the law.” Texas’ invocation of moral disapproval as a legitimate state interest proves nothing more than Texas’ desire to criminalize homosexual sodomy. But the Equal Protection Clause prevents a State from creating “a classification of persons undertaken for its own sake.” And because Texas so rarely enforces its sodomy law as applied to private, consensual acts, the law serves more as a statement of dislike and disapproval against homosexuals than as a tool to stop criminal behavior. The Texas sodomy law “raise[s] the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected.” 
... The Equal Protection Clause “ ‘neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.’ ” Id., at 623 (quoting Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 559 (1896) (Harlan, J. dissenting)).
Let's give Sandra Day O'Connor her due. She said some things no one else said.

ADDED: Indeed, the language from Kennedy's Lawrence opinion that speaks "most eloquently about dignity and freedom and the right to determine one's own humanity" is itself a quote from the plurality opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey — which was jointly written by O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter.  Here's Kennedy in Lawrence:
In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), the Court reaffirmed the substantive force of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause. The Casey decision again confirmed that our laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education. Id., at 851. In explaining the respect the Constitution demands for the autonomy of the person in making these choices, we stated as follows:

“These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” Ibid.

Persons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do.

In the Kettle Moraine.


It's very pretty here, but the mosquitoes are insane.

"The tepid job creation figure comes as the White House economic team is in transition."

"Christina Romer is leaving her post as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Budget director Peter Orszag recently departed."

"If you truly believe that the demographics of Hunter represent the distribution of intelligence in this city..."

"... then you must believe that the Upper West Side, Bayside and Flushing are intrinsically more intelligent than the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Washington Heights. And I refuse to accept that."

"Coked-up stimulus monkeys."

Catchy drugs-'n'-animals phrase of the day.

Axelrod squirms his way through questions about Obama and same-sex marriage.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The NYT describes that:
[T]he dread over the same-sex marriage issue was almost palpable as Mr. Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod tried to explain on MSNBC on Thursday that Mr. Obama opposed same-sex marriage, “But he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples, and benefits and other issues, and that has been effectuated in federal agencies under his control.”

"The New York Times has an amusingly uninformative piece, the gist of which is that hardly anyone is willing to venture a prediction."

"So it all comes down to that wild and crazy Justice Kennedy, and by gosh, you just never know what he's going to do!"

James Taranto laughs at the NYT, and I'm laughing too. You can agonize and puzzle for the next year or 2 if you want, but the answer is in the cards. There are 5 votes for a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and 5 is all you need.

"During the ceremony, Hiroshima’s mayor welcomed the ambassador, John Roos, and praised President Obama..."

"... as one of the world leaders who 'wielded their powerful influence' to rid the world of nuclear weapons."

This is the first time a U.S. ambassador has attended the ceremony. The bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 65 years ago.
The White House and War Department announced today that an atomic bomb, possessing more power than 20,000 tons of TNT, a destructive force equal to the load of 2,000 B-29's and more than 2,000 times the blast power of what previously was the world's most devastating bomb, had been dropped on Japan.

The announcement, first given to the world in utmost solemnity by President Truman, made it plain that one of the scientific landmarks of the century had been passed, and that the "age of atomic energy," which can be a tremendous force for the advancement of civilization as well as for destruction, was at hand....

What happened at Hiroshima is not yet known. The War Department said it "as yet was unable to make an accurate report" because "an impenetrable cloud of dust and smoke" masked the target area from reconnaissance planes. The Secretary of War will release the story "as soon as accurate details of the results of the bombing become available."...

Not the slightest spirit of braggadocio is discernible either in the wording of the official announcements or in the mien of the officials who gave out the news. There was an element of elation in the realization that we had perfected this devastating weapon for employment against an enemy who started the war and has told us she would rather be destroyed than surrender, but it was grim elation. There was sobering awareness of the tremendous responsibility involved....

August 5, 2010

At the I-Didn't-Think-I'd-Be-Noticed Tavern...


... reflect upon the image you present.


"Would anyone really care if primary caregivers didn't climb the corporate ladder as quickly as primary professionals if gender weren't involved?"

"Wouldn't that just make logical sense? If men more often take on the primary professional role, consequently working more intensely and taking fewer vacations than women, then they should be promoted more aggressively."

The state and the kid's lemonade stand.

Cute girl sells lemonade, state says not without a $120 license.

What to do about the kid's lemonade stand?
The government should do nothing and people should buy the lemonade to encourage the child.
The government should do nothing and people should buy the lemonade if they actually want lemonade.
The government should do nothing and you should avoid the possibly contaminated lemonade.
The government should treat it like any other food vendor to protect the public health.
The government should regulate, but with gentle restraint.
The government should ban the sale of food and drink by children. free polls

Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham, Richard Lugar, and Judd Gregg.

Republicans who voted for Elena Kagan, who was confirmed by the Senate today, by a vote of 63-37.

The Democrat who voted no was Ben Nelson.

"Go get it, Shelley!"

"She is ROCKING the shit out of this look."

"Shelley" = Michelle Obama... who is in Spain, where she is dodging racists, hogging not 30 but 60 (!!!!) ultra-posh hotel rooms, and celebrating her husband's birthday without the pesky presence of said husband.

"The wise and sassy janitor was Man of the Year in 1969."

#5 of "8 Things You Never Noticed In The Breakfast Club."

"Date From Hell."

My DVR dragged in a new episode of one of my favorite shows "I Shouldn't Be Alive." This is one where the people really are too dumb to live. All they need to do is stay on the path, which they were told to do — even warned about rattlesnakes and cougars if they leave the path. So, of course, la la la, they leave the path. They hear a waterfall. It sounds so close by! 
As for the Hell Date, I knew they were morons as soon as they made the conscious decision to leave their cell phones behind (I take my phone with me just to walk over to the mailbox, for fuck's sake, and they're hiking in a canyon where, you know, something could go really wrong very quickly!). Therefore, I was not a whit surprised that they wandered off looking for fairies and unicorns.

And what was up with that tour guide? She's sitting there with a list of passengers and goes, "Hmm, two people didn't return... I guess they went home! OK let's go!" ... Holy Fail.
Ha. Holy Fail. But it would also be moronic to assume your cell phone would work out there in the wilderness.

"I want my kids to know when I'm pissed, when I'm happy and when I'm confounded.."

Why Julia Roberts won't get Botox.
"It's unfortunate that we live in such a panicked, dysmorphic society where women don't even give themselves a chance to see what they'll look like as older persons.... I want to have some idea of what I'll look like before I start cleaning the slates."
Cleaning the slates? As in wiping the slate clean, the slate being the face? If I get that correctly, I think she's saying you should initially let yourself age and see how that is going, then make a judgment about whether to erase the signs of aging.

And... does Julia Roberts really talk like that? Confounded... dysmorphic... These quotes are in a British newspaper and they sound like their were written by a Brit.

It's also interesting that she says she wants to keep her natural face so her children will see her emotions. We moviegoers need to see that emotion too. I say "we," but the truth is, my moviegoing habit has decreased over the years, seemingly in proportion to the destruction of the human face. I don't want to see it. Ah, but I don't know. I remember a few years back — in my peak moviegoing times — hating a halfway good movie because I got sick of the big closeups, and it was a Julia Roberts movie, "My Best Friend's Wedding." My reaction was: Yes! I get it! You have a face! Now, step back!

It was around the same time that I walked out on a movie because the closeups were inducing nausea. That movie was "Antz." And I don't know what I hate more, plasticized human actors or computer generated animation. But those 2 phenomena are a big part of why I almost never go to the movies anymore.

"The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage 'exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage... That time has passed.'"

From the NYT editorial about Perry v. Schwarzenegger:
One of Judge Walker’s strongest points was that traditional notions of marriage can no longer be used to justify discrimination, just as gender roles in opposite-sex marriage have changed dramatically over the decades. All marriages are now unions of equals, he wrote, and there is no reason to restrict that equality to straight couples. The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage “exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage,” he wrote. “That time has passed.”
That is, the conventional idea that marriage is between a man and a woman rests on gender stereotypes about what men and women are like. Since the sex discrimination cases already reject laws based on gender stereotypes, that conventional idea can't be the basis for rejecting same-sex marriage.
To justify the proposition’s inherent discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation, he wrote, there would have to be a compelling state interest in banning same-sex marriage. But no rational basis for discrimination was presented at the two-and-a-half-week trial in January, he said. The real reason for Proposition 8, he wrote, is a moral view “that there is something wrong with same-sex couples,” and that is not a permissible reason for legislation.

“Moral disapproval alone,” he wrote, in words that could someday help change history, “is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and women.”
That is the Supreme Court case law. As Justice Scalia complained in his Lawrence dissent:
The Court embraces ... Justice Stevens’ declaration in his Bowers dissent, that “the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice”.... This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation. If, as the Court asserts, the promotion of majoritarian sexual morality is not even a legitimate state interest, none of the above-mentioned laws can survive rational-basis review....
It was no stretch to end up where Judge Walker did. Now, the 9th Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court may struggle to find their way back from the routine legal reasoning that took Judge Walker where many people are unhappy he went. But to do that will require stretching for a preferred result, given the precedent.

Why not cheer yourself up by thinking about the boost this will give to conservatives in the upcoming election? And leave gay people alone.



IN THE COMMENTS: garage mahal starts us off with a comment, that based on previous gay marriage threads, predicts where this thread is destined to go:
Great. Now now I can marry a desk. Or a freezer. Oh wait... 


... crocodile.

August 4, 2010

At the Cicada Café...


... you can make all the noise you want.

It's the President's birthday!

He's 49, and having dinner with friends — no family — at a restaurant in Chicago.

Can lady lawyers wear peep-toe shoes?

That's the hot question of the day.

What do I think? I worked in a big Wall Street law firm — Sullivan & Cromwell — from 1982 to 1984, and I can remember the shoes I wore back then. I was especially fond of 2 pairs of closed-toe T-strap Ferragamo shoes — 1 brown and 1 tan. I had a pair of black Bruno Magli pumps — low-heeled — that were very comfortable and useful. I had beautiful Perry Ellis black suede high heels with thin, buttoned straps. I still have those fabulous shoes in my closet. They were by far the most expensive shoes I'd ever bought. I remember the price: $210. And I had beige Evan Picone shoes that were sling-back and — yes! — peep-toe. It never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with them. Maybe I missed a dress-for-success memo, but they were beautiful, dressy-looking shoes. They looked perfect... a quarter century ago.

"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license."

"Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."

"It’s interesting to watch Katie Couric drop her pretense of impartiality..."

"... as with JournoList, it’s nice to have solid confirmation of what we’ve long suspected."

Oh, ridiculous. In private, who didn't have a laugh at the names of Sarah and Bristol Palin's kids? I bet the Palin family members themselves laugh about it. "Solid confirmation"?! Spare me.

Another comic Drudge juxaposition.

A reader sends this new example of what I like to call Drudgedy:

(The link for the "world's creepiest robot" went here.)

"I came to consciousness feeling as if I were actually shackled to my own corpse."

Christopher Hitchens writes about crossing the border from well to sick.

It happened the morning after of this appearance on "The Daily Show," when he was still in denial:
I would not cancel these appearances or let down my friends or miss the chance of selling a stack of books. I managed to pull off both gigs without anyone noticing anything amiss, though I did vomit two times, with an extraordinary combination of accuracy, neatness, violence, and profusion, just before each show. This is what citizens of the sick country do while they are still hopelessly clinging to their old domicile.
In "the land of malady," where he now finds himself...
Everybody smiles encouragingly and there appears to be absolutely no racism. A generally egalitarian spirit prevails, and those who run the place have obviously got where they are on merit and hard work.... [T]here seems to be almost no talk of sex, and the cuisine is the worst of any destination I have ever visited.....
He wonders whether the famous Kübler-Ross stages of dying are appropriate for him, given the way he's lived:
... I can’t see myself smiting my brow with shock or hear myself whining about how it’s all so unfair: I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me. Rage would be beside the point for the same reason. Instead, I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger? But I understand this sort of non-thinking for what it is: sentimentality and self-pity. 
To Hitch, "Why me?" is a "dumb question." "Why not?" — he quips.

CORRECTION: The appearance on "The Daily Show" occurred after he woke up feeling as if he were shackled to his own corpse. I read the phrase "The night of the terrible morning...." as meaning the eve of the terrible morning.

Bee climbs goldenrod.


"There are several reasons why I don’t object to a mosque being built near the World Trade Center site, but the key reason is my affection for Broadway show tunes."

Thomas Friedman's opening line.

I am...
... intrigued and amused.
... outraged and disgusted.
... amused to think of how others must be outraged.
... disgusted to think of NYT readers who are amused thinking of people like me getting outraged.
... so tired of Thomas Friedman's self-loving cuteness. free polls

I have now read beyond the first sentence of the column, and in case you found yourself unable to proceed, I'm here to tell you that Thomas Friedman wants us to know that he and his wife got to attend "A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House," and he would like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
Feeling the pulsating energy of this performance was such a vivid reminder of America’s most important competitive advantage: the sheer creative energy that comes when you mix all our diverse people and cultures together.
Some people get to experience "A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House," and some people get to experience a mosque built near 9/11. Get it? If that doesn't cohere for you, remember the all-purpose glue: Diversity. When you're trying to fit things together that are completely unrelated, but, hell, you went to a White House concert and you're still pretty jazzed up by it, remember you can stick most anything together with goopy diversity.

Please be creative and express yourself with diverse pulsating energy in the comments.

ADDED: 1. The poll seems to be malfunctioning. [AND: Looks okay now.] 2. "built near 9/11" isn't really the right way to say built near the WTC site, but something made me say it that way, and I will leave it as is.

"[William F.] Buckley was charming because he had to be."

"He got a lot of attention because it was a time when liberalism was at its zenith, and so was its control of the media. Liberals were secure enough to let guys like Buckley on, but only guys like Buckley, whose I’m-a-member-of-the-club aristocratic credentials made him seem safe. And only so long as he was sufficiently nonthreatening."

It doesn't work like that anymore. And by the way, as I remember it — and I watched "Firing Line" in the 60s — Buckley wasn't a charming, refined guy — or not just a charming, refined guy. There was something freakish and weird about him. I remember the exaggerated imitations of him emphasizing elaborate squirming in his seat, his tongue darting in and out of his mouth, the long pauses with abrupt spates of words, the crazy gesturing with a pencil, and the bizarre reaching for big words people had never heard before. Maybe upper class people and Yale graduates were able to perceive him as one of their own, but to average TV viewers, he was a big oddball.


Ah, yes! Here it is: Joe Flaherty's impersonation (the second character shown in the SCTV sketch).

The xkcd cartoon that got their attention.

Inside Higher Education says:
The xkcd cartoon was particularly apt in skewering three useless but nevertheless common features on a college’s home page, said Mark Greenfield, director of Web services at the State University of New York at Buffalo and an associate consultant at the major higher-ed consulting firm Noel-Levitz. Specifically: the statement of philosophy, the letter from the president or provost, and the campus news feed.

Having those up there might seem like a good idea to the administrative committees that tend to dictate website content, Greenfield said, but they are rarely useful to the website’s most strategically important kind of visitor: the prospective student. Prospective students are more interested in information about majors or financial aid than administrative rhetoric or photos or “pretty girls studying under trees” — a trope so recurrent that it became a running joke at last year’s HighEdWeb Association conference, Greenfield said. “[Prospective students] have been marketed to their entire lives, and they are not looking for that marketing hype,” he said. “They’re looking for authenticity.”

August 3, 2010

Autumn approaches.



Seen today at Picnic Point.

Size matters.

Science discovers why.

"a 2 A.M. snack of grilled cheese sandwiches, brownies and popcorn..."

Offered to the guests at Chelsea Clinton's wedding....

It's nice to think that the hyper-glamorous affair went humble and comfy as the night wore on. Or am I being a chump to consume this PR that's intended to make people — face it, women — think the Clintons are just folks?

"We were fooling around and found out there was a machine that extruded cornmeal and it almost popped like popcorn."

The inventor the Cheez Doodle, Morrie Yohai, has died. He was 90.
"We were looking for another snack item"... [T]hey decided to chop the cornmeal product into small pieces and coat it with cheese. "We wanted to make it as healthy as possible," he said, "so it was baked, not fried."
The name Doodle occurred to him as they sat round a table sampling various kinds of cheese for snacks.
That last sentence cracks me up. It looks like it's going to explain why the food is a "doodle," but there isn't a clue!

Why would you call a snack food "doodle"?
It's based on "doodie" -- after somebody joked that it tasted like pooh.
Because men like snack food -- the idea was it's for dudes.
It tasted like dog food, someone said "poodle," and it was changed to "doodle."
It's food. You play with the word "food" -- bood... cood... dood! free polls

"Normally a blast of radiation like this could be expected to wipe out much of the human race..."

"... but fortunately we are protected by the Earth's magnetic field. Instead the deadly solar plasma is expected to stream down the planetary field lines towards the poles, crashing into oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere and so lighting them up to form aurorae - the so-called Northern Lights."

Will we see the aurorae in Wisconsin? I need to know whether and when to look.

A bingo card for the upcoming Kagan debate.

I'm told this is making the rounds in Washington, D.C.

kagan bingo-2

(Enlarge for easy reading.)

ADDED: I'm told this bingo card was distributed by Senator Cornyn's office for the Roberts confirmation:


At the Lousy Service Casino...


... I'm sorry I can't help you. Or, no, I'm not sorry. Sorry isn't sufficiently lousy. Deal with your own issues and stop being such a wussy.

(Photograph from downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin.)

The mountain whose foot is bathed by water.


Trempealeau Mountain (in Wisconsin's Perrot Park, on the Mississippi River). I can't find this information through Google, but according to the signs that I should have photographed, the Indians believed this mountain had been moved from the shore out to this place. See how oddly carved off it looks? It is a unique geological feature on the Mississippi River, used as a landmark in navigation, I think, because it's an island that is taller than the surrounding bluffs. I couldn't get a better picture, because, though we were on a high bluff — Brady Bluff — there was vegetation blocking part of the water that rings the mountain, and it was also pretty hazy. Anyway, it's a mountain whose foot is bathed by water and whose grandeur is not conveyed by my photograph.

"So the best thing you can do for your career is to go to the crappiest law school you can get into and dominate your competition?"

"That sounds vaguely anti-intellectual. Shouldn’t students want to compete against the best, as opposed to dominate the weak? Sander and Yakowitz apparently believe that students shouldn’t 'trade-up' and transfer to better law schools if they have the opportunity."

Well, "crappiest" seems to be an exaggeration. It seems to argue for going to a law school where you will be in the high end of the LSAT/GPA numbers admitted. You don't have to be a big outlier, just nicely within the usual top end. Then work hard but comfortably and rank at the top of your class.

You know, some of us are — against our will — forced into essentially that strategy because our soft credentials suck. I know. I applied to law schools with a BFA degree, a painting major, 5 years of unimpressive day jobs, and the lack of savvy and sophistication to bullshit my way out of it in my personal statement.

Now, to look at another angle: Affirmative action pushes students into the opposite strategy. If Sander and Yakowitz are right, doesn't it mean that affirmative action harms those it means to help?

"Don’t get the shorts in the picture!.... If that leaked to Europe, I wouldn’t get any sales there!"

Said Gary Shteyngart, author of  "Super Sad True Love Story."
In the near future world of Super Sad True Love Story, books are called “media artifacts” and are regarded as too smelly to own.

When I ask Gary if he is really as pessimistic about the future of books as all that, he proclaims, “Over!  So over! Oh my god.”   When I point out that there will always be bookish types such as ourselves, he counters, “How many of us will remain?  Will there be 3 million of us?  Will there be 300,000 of us?  Will there be 30,000 of us?  How much will it take for me to sustain a living doing what I do best, well, doing the only thing I know how to do?  Well, actually, I don’t even know how to read.”

... According to Shteyngart, the bookless future is going to be very “slutty,” which is what he likes about it.  It’s going to be great, with see-through jeans, and he can’t wait.

"After a protracted battle that set off a national debate over freedom of religion, a Muslim center and mosque to be built two blocks from ground zero surmounted a final hurdle on Tuesday."

Writes the NYT, reporting the city's 9-0 vote against designating the building on the site a landmark. Now, as a matter of freedom of religion, it really was crucial not to let religion (or political ideology) affect the question whether that building should be classified under the law as a landmark, thus limiting the property rights of the owner. The requirement of neutrality in decisionmaking like that is fundamental to the rule of law.
One by one, members of the commission debated the aesthetic significance of the building, designed in the Italian Renaissance Palazzo style by an unknown architect.
That is clearly the way it had to be done. But what should not be lost, in understanding that, is that the owner's freedom means that the owner has a choice. The owner is certainly not required to build a Muslim center and mosque on that site. Because it is a choice, it's not wrong for the community to ask: Why are you making this choice? Why are you doing something that feels so painful to us? The community isn't wrong to plead with the owner to choose to do something else with that property. It's not enough of an answer to say we are doing it because we have a right to do it.

What troubles me about the way the NYT presents the problem is that it tries to make it seem as though the people who question the choice to build the mosque don't understand or don't support the principle of freedom of religion — that they just hate (or dislike) Muslims and, for that reason, would deny them the same freedom other religious persons enjoy. Rights don't work like that. But we can completely understand and support a principle of freedom and still be critical of the way someone chooses to behave in this world. For example, I'm a big supporter of freedom of the press, and I don't feel the slightest bit hypocritical condemning something stupid I read in the newspaper.

Do we really need to worry, as Jack Balkin does, that the states will bring too many lawsuits challenging federal tax laws?

Lawprof Jack Balkin doesn't like the way Judge Hudson dealt with the Anti-Injunction Act in the opinion that allowed Virginia to go forward in its attack on the Obamacare individual mandate:
In essence, Judge Hudson argues that by passing [the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act] that says that Virginia will interpose itself to protect its citizens from the individual mandate, Virginia has succeeded ... in getting around the federal tax-anti-injunction act. 
... The fact that Virginia can get around the tax anti-injunction act simply by passing a statute saying that it thinks the federal law is unconstitutional means that every state in the Union can do so as well. This undermines the purposes of the tax anti-injunction act, which was to keep tax protesters from littering the federal courts with protest litigation; the act requires that challenges to tax laws proceed in an orderly fashion through requesting refunds.
Tax protesters? You see the states, acting through their legislatures, as presenting the same problem of frivolous, wasteful litigation posed by private litigants?

There is a built-in check here that is not present for those private litigants, which is that elected representatives of the people of a state have gone through a deliberative process in making that statute, and, in addition, the state executive branch has made the decision to bring the lawsuit. These tiers of public accountability make a difference with respect to the necessity of the Anti-Injunction Act.

That act, as Judge Hudson noted, does not refer to a state as being barred from bringing suits for injunctions, only a "person." There's a question of interpretation about whether a state should be included in the word "person," and there's good reason to think it should  not. For one thing, the general rule of statutory interpretation is that "person" does not mean state. And, even more important, as I've just explained, structural checks mean that the state as a litigant doesn't present the same problems posed by an individual litigant.
Indeed, the logic of the opinion seems to suggest that if Virginia had objections to any other part of the federal tax laws, it could pass a Virgina Tax Freedom Act related to that provision, claiming that the tax provision was beyond the reserved powers of the states under the Tenth Amendment. 
How big of a threat is that? The federal tax power is extremely broad, so that virtually any lawsuit like this would be easily dismissed on the merits. You don't need a broad interpretation of the Anti-Injunction Act to solve this problem. Nearly all of the cases you ask us to fret about would either never be brought or be dismissed quickly for failure to state a claim. In the Virginia case, by contrast, the question on the merits is very difficult, and the judge held back from resolving it. How often could that happen? And when it does happen, should there be a way to challenge it in court?

(Also, Balkin can't mean the state would be "claiming that the tax provision was beyond the reserved powers of the states under the Tenth Amendment." He must have meant to write that the claim would be "the tax provision was beyond the enumerated powers of Congress and thus reserved to the states the states under the Tenth Amendment.")

1 year!

We made it!


August 2, 2010

"Hey! Don't just sit there! Come on and sing!"

Mitch Miller, who had us all singing at the television, back in the 1960s, has died. He was 99. The show was considered ridiculously square at the time, you should understand, when you watch that clip. But we watched, fascinated by Miller's overenthusiastic smile, his beard, his idiosyncratic arm movements — he was very easy to imitate! — and the peppy pop songs.

A second night at the Scenic Overlook Café...

... you need to be careful you're not tricked into wasting your time.


(That was the view we got when we pulled over at the blue "scenic overlook" sign I showed you last night.)

"Put Some Pants On!""

"Because We All Can't Look Good In Shorts."

Oh, but the trick is know if you can. Like, what about this guy?

"This is what being a little girl is all about... if only the Miley Cyrus lookalikes of today could follow suit."

Commenters respond to a photograph of a girl in Pennsylvania, taken by the great fashion blogger, The Sartorialist. Was it ethical to photograph this child? Did she dress this way as a matter of style, or is she just poor? Does she represent some ideal that we should emulate today or is this a weird flashback to our lost past? Are there little details — unintentional? — that trendy urbanites can adopt — the juxtaposition of patterns? The rolled sleeves? The dirt? Do we see a character from a storybook? A religious devotee? What does the expression on her face mean? Do we read in it a rebuke to the little girls we actually know?

The federal district court has denied the motion to dismiss in the Virginia lawsuit challenging the Obamacare individual mandate.

Ilya Somin comments on the opinion, which I'm about to read. I'll have more soon.

ADDED: Half of the opinion is about the state's standing to bring the lawsuit. Judge Hudson wrote that the state was not suing on behalf of taxpayers but based on its own interests defending the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act from preemption by federal law. Under this theory, it doesn't matter that the state of Virginia won't have to pay the penalties the federal law imposes on those who don't buy health insurance. It's enough that Virginia's power to pass its own law has been impinged on by the allegedly unconstitutional federal law. That theory also avoids a problem with the Anti-Injunction Act. The judge also found the case satisfied the ripeness requirement because the issues are "fully framed" and "the underlying facts are well settled."

As for the question whether the individual mandate is supported by the Commerce Clause (with an assist from the Necessary and Proper Clause), the judge elaborates the "widely divergent and at times novel" arguments of the 2 sides and concludes inconclusively that he is not at this time ready to say that Virginia has failed to state a claim. Then there is the alternate power basis for the law, the taxing power. Again the judge lays out the arguments, recites the precedent, and declares the matter too uncertain to resolve as a matter of law on a motion to dismiss. Thus, the case continues.

It's not enough to wear sunscreen.


You have to put it on right!

"If you are not so worried about presenting yourself as absolutely unique, then it’s O.K. if you say other people’s words..."

"... it’s O.K. if you say things you don’t believe, it’s O.K. if you write papers you couldn’t care less about because they accomplish the task, which is turning something in and getting a grade... And it’s O.K. if you put words out there without getting any credit."

The internet is changing the way students think about plagiarism... or — I would add — they way they lie about it.

"Photo Tampering Throughout History."

An impressive collection. (Via BBC.)

"While filming 'Friends,' cast members Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow ate the same Cobb salad every day for ten years."

People who eat the same thing every day... what's that all about?


What if you had to eat the same thing every day? What would you choose? What do you think would happen?


Is it about comfort?
WALLY: I'm looking for more comfort, because the world is very abrasive, I mean, I'm trying to protect myself, because really there are these abrasive beatings to be avoided everywhere you look.
ANDRE: Yeah, but Wally, don't you see that comfort can be dangerous? I mean, you like to be comfortable and I like to be comfortable, too. But comfort can lull you into a dangerous tranquility. I mean, my mother knew a woman, Lady Hatfield, who was one of the richest women in the world, and she died of starvation because all she would eat was chicken. I mean, she just liked chicken, Wally, and that was all she would eat, and actually, her body was starving but she didn't know it 'cause she was quite happy eating her chicken and so, she finally died! See, I honestly believe that we're all like Lady Hatfield now, we're having a lovely, comfortable time with our electric blankets and our chicken, and meanwhile we're starving because we're so cut off from contact with reality that we're not getting any real sustenance.

"We must become astronauts and go out into the universe and discover the God in ourselves."

Ray Bradbury talks about religion. Some of what he says makes some sense, and some, like that quote, makes no sense at all.

Oh, how I loathe, the use of the space program for inspirational purposes. (Like this.)

The human being got smart by eating meat.

A theory:
"You can't have a large brain and big guts at the same time," explains Leslie Aiello, an anthropologist and director of the Wenner-Gren Foundation in New York City, which funds research on evolution. Digestion, she says, was the energy-hog of our primate ancestor's body. The brain was the poor stepsister who got the leftovers....
Meat is packed with lots of calories and fat. Our brain — which uses about 20 times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle...
Interesting insight into evolution, but it doesn't say anything about what we should eat today. In evolutionary times, gathering plant material and chewing and swallowing enough of it to survive took a lot of energy. Today, we get more than enough. We have "big guts" in a different sense and for a different reason. So burning extra calories digesting low-calorie plants is probably a good idea.

By the way, if the brain uses 20 times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle, why can't we lose weight by thinking hard?

These 2 books are good at showing "the intellectual bankruptcy of originalism" but not so good at telling us what could replace it.

Says Harvard lawrpof Adrian Vermeule, reviewing "Keeping Faith with the Constitution" and "The Living Constitution":
Keeping Faith with the Constitution [buy it!] is a typical manifesto written by law professors committed to public service and constitutional politics. It breaks no new ground theoretically. Their idea of constitutional fidelity is an old one, rediscovered in each generation.....

Constitutional fidelity appeals to those who wish to square the original Constitution with a commitment to the bien-pensant positions of the day, which can be justified as faithful to the founders’ higher principles, even if not to their specific expectations....

[In The Living Constitution, which you can buy here, David Strauss] says throughout that the common-law constitution not only changes, but “evolves” or “adapts”; and he implies that this evolution results in improvement over time, as morally or pragmatically undesirable features of constitutional law are weeded out...

[Strauss argues that a] common-law constitution works well, or at least better than the alternatives, because it is the work of generations of epistemically humble judges making incremental improvements over time. The common-law approach to constitutionalism thus draws upon the “accumulated wisdom” of the past, embodied in precedents....
One hopes that he will soon provide a more rigorous theoretical treatment of his common-law constitutionalism, which is to date the most promising version of living constitutionalism by far.

"I busted my chops getting them elected, and they caved. They're all lily-livered wimps, and Obama has the backbone of a worm."

The special pain of left-wing (erstwhile) Obama supporters. 

Juan Williams gets it right on the Ground Zero mosque.

And it's easy to get this one right, I think:
During Fox News Sunday's online "Panel Plus" segment, Juan Williams made the case against building the 13-story Islamic center a couple blocks from Ground Zero. Although the imam who owns the land has a right to do what he wants with his own property, Williams said, as a matter of decency the imam shouldn't build the mosque.

Williams said that the proposed mosque and the imam's actions are "a thumb in the eye to so many people who lost their lives and went through the trauma there. It's not promoting dialogue or understanding. In fact, it's polarizing. So it's not achieving his stated goal. And for that reason, I just think he's wrong to do it."
It's unfortunate that so many people confuse the right to do something — which I presume here — and whether it's a good idea to do it. Many — perhaps most — of the bad things people do are not illegal. You can say someone has a legal right to do something — and even enthusiastically support that right — and still tell them that what they are doing is horribly wrong.

(Note: That's what I would say about abortion, too.)

August 1, 2010

At the Scenic Overlook Café...


... don't miss anything.

"He respects and appreciates the thorough and professional work of the Portland authorities and is pleased that this matter has now been resolved."

Al Gore gets his happy ending.

"How to Be Alone."

"'How do you handle so many women?' Sometimes one is more difficult."

"I was married and faithful for eight years in the 1980s, and following that, as an overreaction to that failed marriage, I wound up with seven live-in girlfriends. Dealing with those seven girlfriends was easier than dealing with one wife."

Says Hugh Hefner, leaving us to fill in the details.

"We got an Obama hangover..."

"If I read the press release correctly, the ADL is opposing the building of the mosque because bigots also oppose it."

Jeffrey Goldberg reads the Anti-Defamation League's press release and opines.

They say it's about airline safety.

But you know that's crap. It's about crap.

Long ago Michael Kinsley found the most boring headline ever: "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative."

And now he may have found the most boring article:
The story that grabbed my inattention was in the New York Times on Monday, July 26. It was about a man who used to take long walks around the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, until he died last week. That’s it. That’s the story. In Silver Lake, he was wittily known as "the Walking Man." (You see, it’s because he walked all the time).

Was he a homeless man who walked because he tragically had no place to go? No, he was a family doctor named Marc Abrams. Was he an eccentric recluse who lived in squalor and scared the neighborhood children? No, he lived in a house with a hot tub next to the reservoir with his wife, Cindy. Cindy worked with him in his practice. Did he walk every day, rain or shine? No, only “near-daily.” Did he reject all conversational overtures due to the intensity of his need to keep walking, walking, walking? No, a local restaurant owner used to “walk half a block with him” and “strike up a conversation.” People along his route knew him from “years of drive-by small talk.” So what inner demons possessed him and caused him to take long walks nearly every day? The Times reporter asked neighbors. “He walked, he told them, to keep fit.” Of all things.

"[S]omething to aim for: an America where race isn't off-limits or restricted to certain times of the year but always part of our dialogue."

"The more we can talk about race in a substantive context, the more comfortably we can talk about race, period. Indeed, by regularly engaging with race, and on matters of policy especially, we can train ourselves to move beyond the typical arguments -- 'This is racist! No it isn't!' -- and toward a more nuanced discussion of racial issues."

All right, then! Let's get started: Talk about race all the time!

"Jan Brewer has the cojones that our president does not have."

Said Sarah Palin.

"Set on a bluff on the northern most tip of our state, overlooking Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior, the EDGE is a beautiful, modernist box."

"It is more akin to a lovingly crafted cabinet or piece of furniture than a house, really."

I'm fascinated by the "tiny house" phenomenon. This one, in Bayfield, Wisconsin, is remarkable. The video at the link shows what's so cool about it, but listening between the lines, you can tell it's tiresome to have to continually reassemble the table/bed and to drag the giant doors open and shut. I wondered how those doors would do in the snow and ice that's got to be there for much of the year.

There are a few contradictions in the design of the EDGE. First, while designed to make downsizing more desirable, by no fault of the architects, it is likely to appeal to many as a second home or summer cottage rather than a new way of living. And, while it has many green features, it’s created for a large parcel of land. The EDGE doesn’t address the need for density, for humans to occupy less of the planet, though it’s possible some of the design ideas may translate to urban settings.
Because it's a twee fantasy, not a real solution to the perceived problem. Exactly why isn't it at all the fault of the architects?

Feingold's opponent Ron Johnson scores a Weekly Standard article.

"Farewell to Feingold?"
None of Feingold’s victories was a landslide; he got 53 percent of the vote in 1992, 51 percent in 1998, and 55 percent in 2004. Facing a strongly anti-Democratic year for the first time, Feingold appears to believe his best hope is to paint Johnson as an extremist. “It’s becoming clear that [Johnson is] the third part of that Rand Paul, Sharron Angle tripartition,” Feingold told Politico in June. “He’s refused to say whether he favors the continuation of Social Security and Medicare. He hasn’t even said he supports the Civil Right Act.”

But unlike the Kentucky and Nevada GOP candidates, Johnson hasn’t committed any big gaffes....

Johnson’s biggest liability may be a tendency to speak honestly....
What's your biggest liability? I'm just so darned honest.

"[E]very functioning society needs a 'backstage' where people can let their hair down and speak without observing social proprieties."

Writes Glenn Reynolds in an op-ed about the Journolist:
But journalists have been destroying that backstage for everyone else for decades. Why should they be permitted to keep one, when no one else is?

No doubt publishing these never-intended-for-publication remarks is, at some level, unfair: The list members were just venting to their friends. But, of course, so were lots of other people whose off-the-cuff remarks have been blown up into national stories by journalists over the years. And efforts to covertly shape the news, hurt competitors, and influence elections (JournoList members referred to themselves as the "unofficial Obama campaign") aren't the sort of thing that journalist think deserve privacy the rest of the time when they're done by people who aren't journalists.

"... a tuxedo-themed Oompa-Loompa onesie with built-in diaper."

Something not even Heidi can wear.

"They've no class. As an Italian-American, it's offensive."

"I guess it's drumming business up, but is it the kind of business we want here?"

The Jersey shore is sick of "Jersey Shore."