August 21, 2010

That grass you planted...


... wow!


One third of Britons take a teddy bear to bed.

And 25% of men take teddy with them when they travel.
Corrine Sweet, a psychologist, said cuddling a teddy bear was an "important part of our national psyche... it evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort. It’s human nature to crave these feelings from childhood to adult life. It’s not surprising, then, that taking a teddy bear on a business trip is popular. As a bedtime bear evokes feelings of home, warmth, and can help you nod off – just like in babyhood.”

The study also found that the traditional teddy bear was the most popular cuddly toy among adults, with Winnie the Pooh second and Paddington Bear third.
So... it's a special British thing?

Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
Yes. I need to cuddle my childhood toy to get to sleep.
A little, but I don't really need it and can travel without it.
Only when my human or living animal bedmate isn't around.
No, but I do require extra pillows.
No! free polls

ADDED: This post brought back a long-lost memory. When I was a child, I wanted to be the child that takes a stuffed animal or doll to bed. I had a mental "ideal girl" image in mind. I tried... and failed. I couldn't put up with it. I liked to sleep on my stomach and extend my hands flat under the pillow, and I cared a lot about the underside of the pillow being very cool. I used to turn the pillow over to get the cool side facing down.

Ted Olson...

... "softened"? By his new wife? I find it hard to believe. But if he gets a new haircut and new glasses, then I might believe.

"It’s a sad commentary that it even has to be stated what faith the president observes, as if it should matter whether he follows Christianity, or any religion at all."

"What if he were a Muslim? What if he were an atheist? Why should that matter? And let’s not forget that some of the same critics who insist that Obama is a Muslim criticized him for going to a Christian church where prayed for 20 years, got married, and baptized his children.”

Tobin Harshaw quotes Alan Colmes, and let me respond in list form:

1. Who are the critics who insist that Obama is a Muslim? The poll just said 20% of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim. That doesn't mean they "insist" that he is or that they are "critics." Isn't it funny when commentator puzzling over how Americans can believe such things displays his own propensity to leap to conclusions beyond what the evidence supports?

2.  It would matter if Obama is really a Muslim or an atheist, because it would mean that he'd lied about religion — for political advantage. If you want to find out more generally whether Americans are willing to accept non-Christian candidates, show me how they respond to a candidate who doesn't purport to be a Christian. The candidate's fear of discrimination — if that's what happened — isn't fairly used to tar Americans as intolerant.

3. There's nothing inconsistent with thinking Obama is a Muslim and criticizing him for going to a Christian church for 20 years. The criticism about the church had to do with the preaching of Jeremiah Wright, which offended and outraged a lot of people during the 2008 campaign. Obama himself chose to denounce him and separate himself from Wright's church (Trinity).

4. Does Obama's past association with Trinity Church prove that he was (and is) a Christian? My source is "Dreams from My Father," chapter 14. While working as a community organizer, Obama was told that it would "help [his] mission if [he] had a church home" and that Jeremiah Wright "might be worth talking to" because "his message seemed to appeal to young people like [him]." Obama wrote that "not all of what these people [who went to Trinity] sought was strictly religious... it wasn't just Jesus they were coming home to." He was told that "if you joined the church you could help us start a community program," and he didn't want to "confess that [he] could no longer distinguish between faith and mere folly." He was, he writes, "a reluctant skeptic." Thereafter, he attends a church service and hears Wright give a sermon titled "The Audacity of Hope" (which would, of course, be the title of Obama's second book). He describes how moved he was by the service, but what moves him is the others around him as they respond to a sermon about black culture and history. He never says he felt the presence of God or accepted Jesus as his savior or anything that suggests he let go of his skepticism. Obama's own book makes him look like an agnostic (or an atheist). He respects religion because he responds to the people who believe, and he seems oriented toward leveraging the religious beliefs of the people for worldly, political ends.

"For a teenage boy who is fasting during Ramadan on a hot August afternoon, temptations abound. Ice cream. Water. Basketball."

The NYT has an upbeat article about NY teens who observe Ramadan.

The Good Habits of an Ideal Boy.

Titus emails this photo of a poster on a shop door in Brattleboro, Vermont.

(Click photo to enlarge and read.)

"A mosque at the edge of Ground Zero would be much more than a house of worship; it would be a symbol, interpreted differently by different audiences."

"For some it would be the ultimate expression of the freedom of religion we enjoy in America; for others, a searing reminder of terrible deaths at the hands of murderers calling themselves Muslims. I suspect that the terrorists might celebrate its presence as a twisted victory over our society's freedoms. Rauf and his congregation are certainly free to locate their mosque near Ground Zero. But I hope and pray that they will show uncommon courtesy and decide not to."

Karen Hughes weighs in on the mosque controversy.

"Who knows how many of [his] stories were thought up and written while Salinger sat on this throne!"

The uncleaned toilet of J.D. Salinger, on sale at eBay for $1 million.

That's almost as good as this:

What do you egg-spect?

What a waste! I always assume raw eggs are tainted with salmonella and handle them accordingly. Cook them. Wash your hands!

Haiti's constitution rules out a Wyclef Jean presidency.

He's Haitian, but the constitution requires presidential candidates to have lived in the country for the past 5 years.
The musician had argued that his appointment as a roving ambassador for Haiti in 2007 exempted him from the residency requirement.
Apparently, textualism beat out fancier notions of interpretation. No "active liberty" or whatever?

"Cities are the world's experimental laboratories and thus a metaphor for an uncertain age."

"They are both the cancer and the foundation of our networked world, both virus and antibody."

A double metaphor... a meta-metaphor?

(Via Arts & Letters Daily.)

Was Art Nouveau "the clumsy process of trying to 'dress up' the inorganic forms of modern construction in the false clothing of the natural world"?

That's what Walter Benjamin thought.
If Benjamin was right about Art Nouveau in general, then Jean Carriès was a dissenter from the movement who refused to play along with the lie. Carriès did not carry the prettifying gene. He had an eye for the monstrous, for the contortions of nature and its abnormalities. If Carriès accepted the idea that the modern city is an extension of the natural world, he did so with the proviso that the extension was a malignant tumor.
The dissent from the lie looked like this:

Space toilet — bet you're not ready for that.

"Looking for confidential minded person that is a people person and well manicured."

"We do some work with the adult entertainment business so it is not for everyone. Looking for the classic super manicured secretary at a younger progressive firm."

A Craigslist ad... in need of interpretation.

What's with the double use of "manicured"? Are we to think of something like this (SFW!)?

A dubious album cover.

Via Roger Ebert's twitpic page, which is also the source of the previous 2 posts.

I remember when most girls tried to get their hair to do that. It's not easy, and it takes nerve — or possibly help from Jesus — to tease your hair that big. Funny... it was considered wrong back then — in the early 60s — to tease your hair. There were all sorts of warnings, notably that your hair would fall out, but also that insects would grow in it.

I remember one particularly harrowing — hair-rowing — story about a girl who kept teasing her hair, day after day, teasing and spraying, without washing it. One day, at school, blood suddenly began streaming down her face. Then, she died! Her hair detached from her head in one big clump. Somebody picked it up and then, in horror, threw it against the wall. Thousands of roaches ran out of it!

Think about that when you're teasing your hair. This was back in the days before the coining of the term "urban legend." It would give you pause. Most of us went for a relatively subtle "bump"...

... and denied that we achieved it through teasing.

Anyway, The Faith Tones... What I don't get is... Christian music, but they don't look wholesome. Maybe I'm still scarred from the adolescent lessons about hair-teasing. It would make boys think you were a bad girl. Is this the way to present yourself to Jesus? Sincerely? I couldn't find any Faith Tones music on Amazon or iTunes. They seem to exist entirely as an internet meme, based on mocking this album cover.

Are The Faith Tones themselves an urban legend? Or — alternate theory — is this album cover the work of the devil, who is tempting you to laugh at religion?

"Body Search."

A  portrait of Blago.

Forget Mama Grizzly...

... here's Mama Squirrel!

August 20, 2010

At the Green Glass Café..


... a clay angel.

"why would you leave me and my life in tatters like this and get angrier and angrier to justify it, i feel you missing me and i miss you too..."

"... just come home,. it took a year but i got the sickest townhouse in the village, theres 4 floors, just come home, i pray to god snap out ofit... i love you but your 18 now do NOT allow any guardianship to continue whatsoever! theyll lie to you tell you it 'has' to,. no it doesnt!... i shouldve hooked up in some loveless marriage to a powerful hedgefund guy then youd be safe, im sorry i didnt. for your sake.i love you..."

I've developed this quirk...

... of not completely shutting cabinet doors and drawers. What's that about?

I blame Bush.

The moon is shrinking.

Clearly anthropogenic.

Mickey Kaus tried to do a 3-hour radio talk show, but "They said I lacked intimacy, Bob."

Kaus says:
"Basically, you're talking to people who are alone in their apartments. And I knew I dropped the ball on that. I forgot that. I was proclaiming like Rush Limbaugh, you know, denouncing people, as if I was talking to talking to a crowd of 10,000 people. And I knew I screwed that up."
Now, wait a minute. Your mistake was that you were too much like Rush? But Rush is very successful on the radio. I'm not hearing your show — can we get an audio clip? — but I'm willing to bet that you tried to talk the way you imagine Rush talks — "proclaiming... denouncing... as if I was talking to talking to a crowd of 10,000 people" — but that you are wrong about him.

In fact, Rush does not lack intimacy. The show doesn't feel like an oration to a crowd. Even though Rush gets loud and rowdy, he only does that some of the time, and he pulls back and gets confidential or off on some little digression about his dogs or his Apple computers. He travels a very wide range of soft to loud and back again. There's a musical range of tone, with good pauses and changes of pace. There's a big emotional range too, from serious to funny and from angry to silly. There's a tremendous amount of artistry to the performance, and the effect is like having a very interesting, talkative, demonstrative friend watching the news on TV with you.

In fact, as Zev Chafets wrote about Rush in the NYT Magazine a few years back, Rush picked up his style from his father:
Limbaugh’s father, Rush Jr., was a lawyer... a prominent local Republican activist and the most influential figure in his sons’ lives. He served as a pilot in World War II and became vehemently anti-Communist and very much committed to the ideas and ideals of small-town Protestant America... To this day, Limbaugh calls his father “the smartest man I’ve ever met.”

Certainly he was one of the most opinionated and autocratic. “On Friday nights my friends would come over to the house just to listen to my dad rant about politics,” Limbaugh recalls. “He was doing the same thing as I do today, without the humor or the satire. He didn’t approve of making fun of presidents. He didn’t think that sort of thing was funny.”

Dick Adams, Rush’s boyhood friend and high-school debate partner, told me: “Mr. Limbaugh didn’t suffer fools lightly, let’s just put it like that. Many times I was over there when he called down Rush or David in harsh tones. There was usually a string of expletives attached.”
See? It's the feeling of being in that living room with the smartest — and funniest — man I’ve ever met. Here's this middle-aged guy that the young kids will go out of their way to hear rant — in his home. Not to a crowd of 10,000. It's home-style talking... sound you would like to fill your apartment (or car) with when you're alone. It does not lack intimacy. Don't underestimate what he does. It's something no one else has been able to achieve — including Rush, Sr., who didn't have the humor.

"Your call will be answered in the order it was received."

Why does this common phrase feel grammatically wrong? I was on hold long enough to find the answer:
... a single thing cannot be received in a particular order. "Your call will be answered in the order your call was received?"

Suggestion: Calls will be answered in the order they were received.
I feel much better now.

The DNC uses George "can't get fooled again" Bush in its first 2010 TV ad.

Check it out.

How did you react to seeing George Bush in that ad?
It gave real bite to the message that we must not go back to the past.
If only Bush could pull us back to that past, which might have been bad, but not this bad.
It distracted me from my dislike of Obama, because, man, do I hate Bush.
Ah! George Bush! I really miss that guy.
I pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday. free polls

UPDATE: The DNC pulled its ad, so the embedded video above no longer works. But things don't die so easily on the web. Watch it here:

"Obama isn't a Muslim. But here are other things that 20 percent of Americans believe."

Says the Washington Post, a propos of the Pew poll. Well, can we have a poll about whether Americans believe that admitting to peeing in pools is a belief? I say it's not, but maybe that puts me in the 20% of Americans that WaPo would like us to be seen as marginal.

"Have you never wanted to do anything that was dangerous?"

That's a montage I happened upon while looking for something else. Make of it what you will, but there's some truly fabulous female (and male) beauty to be gawked at. Tallulah is the most beautiful, is she not? And there she was, in that least glamorous setting, the lifeboat, of Hitchcock's "Lifeboat," which is what I was Googling for, looking for that scene with William Bendix (as "Gus") drinking sea water, a propos of lemondog's comment in the "Irony pursues Barack Obama" post.

"Check out the Drudge photo that makes it look like Obama has wings over the story: 'White House: Obama is obviously Christian.'"

Today's Drudge comedy — Drudgedy — was found by commenter t-man/wurly/henry buck. Screen capture:

The Drudge links go to:

1. That poll we talked about yesterday.

2. "White House says Obama is Christian, prays daily."

3. "President Apostate?"

4.  "Obama a Muslim? Rumors gain steam, defying facts."

ADDED: Rush Limbaugh begins his show today (Friday) talking about the Drudge angel wings. He should at least say "hi" to me.

Irony pursues Barack Obama.

"President Obama, who took a plunge in the Gulf last week to show Americans it was safe to swim the oil spill-plagued area, arrived on this supposedly pristine island [Martha’s Vineyard] yesterday in the midst of a rash of bacteria-induced beach closings."

Okay, who pooped in the Atlantic Ocean?

"Will the new Forbes Law School Rankings reduce the influence of the U.S. News rankings?"

Asks Instapundit, linking here, and what's a harried law school applicant to think? Forget Harvard! I'm aiming for Williams Law School. And if I can't get into Williams, here's hoping for Princeton Law School — good old Princeton Law School. It's always been so well thought of! *

Now, I can see that way down at the bottom of his post — the one headed "Forbes Law School Rankings" and displaying a list of 50 schools that are not law schools — TaxProf gets around to saying:
Forbes reportedly is at work on its first law school rankings, based in part on an alumni survey and salary information (immediately after graduation and five years out), which Forbes will use to produce a "return on investment."
An interesting calculation. I can already hear the lawprofs' complaints about penalizing schools that support students going into public service. Ah, but here at Wisconsin, the tuition is relatively low. Let's see how we rank, relative to our U.S. News ranking, before we snipe at Forbes. That was my first thought, and I'll bet it's the way most lawprofs think.


* That sent me looking for a quote I remember about how well the nonexistent Princeton Law School would rank in any survey of the reputation of law schools. Ah, here it is: a 1998 NYT article by Jan Hoffman — I love Jan Hoffman! — about the problems with the U.S. News rankings:
The deans said that law schools should not be ranked at all.... They protested the reputation questionnaires, which ask respondents their opinion of all the law schools in the country.

''If they were asked about Princeton Law School, it would appear on the top 20 -- but it doesn't exist,'' said John Sexton, dean of New York University's law school.


ADDED: A propos of my anticipated criticism of the Forbes ranking, I feel I must reference this oft-referenced Michelle Obama speech:
And I went from college to law school to a big ol' fancy law firm where I was making more money than both of my parents combined. I thought I had arrived....

.... and I had to ask myself whether, if I died tomorrow, would I want this to be my legacy, working in a corporate firm, working for big companies? And when I asked myself the question, the resounding answer was, absolutely not. This isn't what I want to leave behind, this isn't why I went to Princeton and Harvard, this isn't why I was doing what I was doing. I thought I had more to give.

So people were quite surprised when I told them at the firm that I was going to leave this big lucrative paycheck behind and a promising career, and go on to do something more service-oriented....
Also, there's Lionel Hutz...

... he went to Princeton Law School.

"[M]en, like women, are bound by stereotypes, perpetuated in society and legitimized by law..."

"... that preclude opportunities for self-definition and coerce men into stifling identities. The Equal Protection Clause should not...  presumptively tolerate such burdens on a man’s right of self-definition."

Lawprof John M. Kang argues that the law of gender discrimination should not protect men merely as "collateral beneficiaries of the protection afforded women, but in their own right." The article is called "The Burdens of Manliness."

Kang denies that he's a throwback to the "the sensitive troglodyte yearnings of the 1980s Men’s Movement," and I hear echoes of criticisms he must have received on drafts of this article. I was already a law professor back then, and my school (Wisconsin) was a hotbed of feminism theory. My own orientation at that the time — and now — was to see gender roles as limiting freedom for everyone. I remember suggesting to one of the most prominent feminist lawprofs that I thought feminism would be better if it expanded more generally into concern about the burdens of gender roles, which men felt too, in interestingly different ways. Individual freedom for all could be the overarching goal.

The response was not, as I'd naively anticipated at the time, that I had a great idea or that it was at least an intriguing proposal that we could casually converse about for a minute or 2. No, not at all. I mean, I'm still alive. But there was pushback. Swift, sharp snapback. Men get nothing from feminism. They must give ground. Much ground. For all that they have taken from us, for all the crushing and raping. Never give them the hint of a glimmer of hope that there is anything more that they can get. This is for us.

But —I tried to defend my humble, untenured self — wouldn't more freedom for everyone be better? No! My elder laid down what was, she assured me, the lesson of long political experience: If men think there's anything in it for them, they will use their superior power to take more and more, and the subordination of women will worsen. We must all follow the same strategy: to demand that men give up power and wealth for the benefit of women.

As for the Men's Movement... remember "Iron John: A Book About Men"? Remember thinking it was important to hate Robert Bly?

And what are the burdens of manliness? Ironically — ironjohnically — men are made to feel unmanly for developing their set of grievances and whining and moaning about the unfairness of it. But please don't let that stop you from expressing yourself in the comments.

ADDED: By the way, during the same period, you'd get similar sharp pushback from lefties if you said you thought gay people had the right to marry each other.  That was viewed as a conservative position that would undermine the feminist critique of marriage as patriarchy. I also got an instant, angry response from a lefty feminist law professor when I said that the cause of gay rights might be advanced by scientific findings that homosexuality may have a biological cause. Back then, you see, homosexuality was supposed to be a choice, and scientists were condemned even for researching the matter. Today, of course, lefty lawprofs will get mad at you if you don't endorse gay marriage and the biological origin of homosexuality. Oh, how I wish I'd had a blog circa 1990! And I hope this post gives you a glimpse of why there is so much emotional energy behind my blogging.

August 19, 2010

"Family Becomes Extinct, To Be Replaced with Feminism and Gender Equality."

A headline in Pravda.
The Russians gradually lose interest in marriage and family. Recent opinion polls conducted in the Krasnoyarsk region showed that 72 of each 100 marriages end with divorce. Demographers say that family as a social unit became irrational because of the financial crisis. Psychologists explain the current trend with the development of new culture and substitution of notions. It is not ruled out that the institute of marriage will vanish in the near future....

What makes Russians live in loneliness? Every specialist would have their own opinion regarding the subject and all of them would be right in their own way.
As long as I'm reading Pravda...

"Pregnancy: Mystical Condition Full of Superstitions."
It was believed that by denying a pregnant woman’s request, people incurred all kinds of misfortune. If a pregnant stranger knocked at someone's door, she had to be let in, fed and given overnight shelter. You could not raise voice at or scold a pregnant woman.
"Hellish hairy sea monster cast ashore." (Oh, now I may have to skip dinner.)

"Belka and Strelka: 50th Anniversary of Space Dogs Flight."
Russia on Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the space flight of two dogs who became the first living creatures to circle the Earth and come back alive.
How many came back dead?

"Cat crosses Siberia to find its home."

"Bush's Legs Strike Back." What?!
American chicken legs, widely known in Russia as Bush's legs...

"In an act of shockingly retro, sexist stupidity, a local unit of the Republican Party of Minnesota..."

"... has broadcast a new reason you should vote Republican: GOP women are hot, and Democratic women are not."

My comments, in list form:

1. That's not just some guy's viral video, that's an official Republican group? Uh, speaking of "Who Let the Dogs Out," put a leash on those guys. They're not helping.

2. Did they pay royalties to appropriate "She's a Lady" and "Who Let the Dogs Out"?

3. There's a certain silliness to picking (what you think are) the prettiest pictures of one party's women and (what you think are) the ugliest pictures of the other party's women, which might be enjoyable if it was just some YouTube foolery.

4. I liked the natural look of some of the Democratic women who were supposed to be unattractive. Most of the ugliness had to do with making faces. Good for them if they can make faces. It means they aren't botoxed into expressionlessness. Too much of the supposed prettiness of the Republican women came in the form of glitzy TV makeup and hair. I got really tired of looking at them. Too much sameness.

5. The old cliché GOP argument that your women are better than your opponents' women is offputting and sad.

6.  Whoever made this video is ugly.

"A simple question from a six-year-old about hangman turned into another analysis obsession that made me play 15 million games of hangman recently."

Bottom line: the best hangman word is "jazz."

Via Metafilter.

"Andre Jones and Richard Wise have a 700-gallon trank suspended from the ceiling of their West Village town house apartment."

"The filled tank weighs more than 6,000 pounds and has cost the couple some $200,000 in equipment and service."

How much would it cost to get rid of it? Because that's the calculation I'd do if I were buying that place.

Oh, here's the next picture. Caption:
Mr. Jones, left, and Mr. Wise sitting next to their suspended fish tank. "At night, we sit in the living room and sort of get lost in it, instead of the television set," Mr. Jones said of the tank.
I love the tagged-on  phrase "of the tank." Like there was ambiguity before. You might have thought they got lost in their living room. And I love the implication that this home Sea World makes them superior to peons who watch actual television. Because... why would that be? You can get a big flat screen TV and play a DVD of fish swimming. It looks pretty much like that fish tank these guys have. And you'll have at least $180,000 left to buy 60+ years of cable service.

Then there's this couple, the Wilzigs, who have an aquarium with a lighting device that allows them to choose any of 64 colors to reflect off the colorless fish inside. Posing with his wife on a white settee, Mr. Wilzig said:
"The whole essence of the house was to be push-button color-changing. The apotheosis of that was to take the fish themselves and have them be swimming in whatever color you want."
I was going to say this article should be blogged over at Stuff White People Like, and then I thought about how the Wilzigs, when they had their white friends over, could use their push buttons to make them any color they want. Come on! That would be the apotheosis.

(By the way, Mr. Wilzig looks like a character in one of Eric Bogosian's performance pieces.)

ADDED: "Trank"?

IN THE COMMENTS: Sixty Grit said, "There was a line in BttF2 about 'tranks' and other drug users. Or maybe they spelled it 'tranqs.' Do not know. But I think it is a city thing." Found!
(The police car arrives. The signs outside say "Hilldale - The Address Of Success" but have been altered to say "The Address Of Suckers". The car lands outside a house and the officers open the door.)

Reese: Hilldale. Nothing but a breeding ground for tranqs, lobos and zipheads.

Foley: Yeah, they ought to tear this whole place down.

(The officers press Jennifer's thumb to a panel next to the front door, and it opens.)

Voice: (v.o) Welcome home Jennifer.

(Jennifer is beginning to wake up.)

Jennifer: What?

Reese: You got a little tranked, but I think you can walk.
Well, it makes sense. The fish are presented as tranquilizers. So get a fish tank and get tanked. But that's so lowly. In NYC now, you can get a fish trank and get tranked!

Fashion-hip women are now dressing like Elaine Benes— the Julia Louis-Dreyfus character from "Seinfeld."

The NYT reports:
Over the years, Elaine has stood out as a beacon of a faded era, in long floral skirts, blazers with padded shoulders and granny shoes with socks. Just about every inch of her skin was covered as if she were photosensitive. Unlike other 1990s series with a more easily imitable style (see “Melrose Place”), “Seinfeld” was decidedly anti-fashion. But now, if you happen upon an old episode, Elaine just looks cool — and of-the-moment....
“The... shirts Elaine wore,” Ms. Louis-Dreyfus said. “They were often very lacey or had a lace inset or a demure collar and were worn underneath something tough, like a leather coat or denim jacket. For a long time, actually, the jacket was mine. It was a Ralph Lauren cowboy jacket with fringe. I have that somewhere. I wonder where that is? That was a lot of the look. And also cowboy boots.”...
How does one explain the head-to-toe Elaine fashion renaissance?... “The look doesn’t come from outer space,” he said. “Girls who were obsessed with micro-minis are now so anti-that, and they’re embarrassed at what they were wearing two years ago. This is a more covered-up look and looking like you have a brain....”
So... very feminine + the relatively masculine = brainy? That may be true. Try it. In fashion. In everything. For women, that is. For men, perhaps... very masculine + relatively feminine = ????.

Americans who believe Obama is a Christian: 34%.

Americans who believe Obama is a Muslim: 20%.
More than a third of conservative Republicans now say Obama is a Muslim, nearly double the percentage saying so early last year. Independents, too, are now more apt to see the president as a Muslim: Among independents, 18 percent say he is a Muslim, up eight percentage points.
So the less popular Obama is generally, the more likely he is to be perceived as a Muslim? Is this fair to Obama? Is this fair to Muslims?

The linked WaPo article tags on this final paragraph:
In the Time poll, 25 percent say most Muslims in the United States are not patriotic Americans. But the survey also indicates that the public's opposition to the center may be more complicated than just anti-Muslim sentiment. Fifty-five percent said they would accept a Muslim community center and place of worship two blocks from their own home.
May be more complicated! Good lord! The Washington Post has a low opinion of Americans!

Encouraging students and professors to communicate by texting.

Georgia Gwinnett College is spending $1000 per professor to pay for smart phones for professors who are supposed to respond to student texts within 24 hours. Professors already have computers and respond to email, so what is the point of this? You want students dashing off little notes full of typos and abbreviations and professors struggling with teensy keyboards and adapting to the ultra-concise writing form? And what happens when there are misunderstandings? These are inevitable in texting.

Leave texting to friends and family and to coworkers who interact casually. Professors — however friendly they may seem in person — must relate to students in a professional way.
Tee Barron, an associate professor of mathematics, says she sometimes gets texts from students asking questions that they could easily have answered by consulting a classmate or the syllabus, but that can be corrected with a benign rebuke. “I’ll sometimes text back, ‘Hahaha by the time it took me to e-mail or text me you could have found this out yourself and now you’re going to have to anyway,' ” Barron says. “I think after the first couple times the [students] who are high-maintenance and try that — they start getting it.”
So you're going to taunt and tease them into behaving appropriately? But you're not modeling appropriateness! You're letting them think you have a cutesy, jokey relationship. And who would text the 27 words "Hahaha by the time it took me to e-mail or text me you could have found this out yourself and now you’re going to have to anyway." (I'm counting "hahaha," a misspelling of "ha ha ha," as 1 word.) In the real world of texting, it's going to be more like "get it yrsf" or "u gotta b kiddng" or something even more abbreviated and subject to misreading.

It might work for Tee Barron, a math prof. Maybe math students are coolly unemotional, consuming messages, but I think student-teacher texting is likely to go bad... very bad. And that's assuming fully virtuous professors who don't even dream of entering into inappropriate relations with students.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the mosque in the Ground Zero zone...

... and on other "religious tolerance" issues in the news lately (such as "the eviction of American missionaries from Morocco earlier this year, the minaret ban in Switzerland last year, and the recent burka ban in France"). She'd like to reframe these issues in terms "of what the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington called the 'Clash of Civilizations.'"
[T]he survival of the West depends on Americans, Europeans and other Westerners reaffirming their shared civilization as unique—and uniting to defend it against challenges from non-Western civilizations....
President Obama, in his own way, is a One Worlder. In his 2009 Cairo speech, he called for a new era of understanding between America and the Muslim world. It would be a world based on "mutual respect, and . . . upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles."

The president's hope was that moderate Muslims would eagerly accept this invitation to be friends. The extremist minority—nonstate actors like al Qaeda—could then be picked off with drones....

The greatest advantage of Huntington's civilizational model of international relations is that it reflects the world as it is—not as we wish it to be. It allows us to distinguish friends from enemies....

Our civilization is not indestructible: It needs to be actively defended. This was perhaps Huntington's most important insight. The first step towards winning this clash of civilizations is to understand how the other side is waging it—and to rid ourselves of the One World illusion.
I question whether either model is really "the world as it is," but I certainly agree that it's crucial to face reality. Nevertheless, our ideals form a part of the reality that exists now and the reality that we are making for the future.  Ali never explains why the "Clash of Civilizations" template works better in the real world than Obama's idea. I'd guess that one needs to check one's perceptions alternately with both templates and that Obama does that and more as he decides what actions to take and what to say in speeches. He may do that badly on many occasions, but it's inconceivable that his aspirations toward mutual respect and shared principles blot out his awareness of the discord and disconnect.

"I do think that just like a lot of American people, the President is taking a little time with his family to recharge his batteries."

Said Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.

Recharge his batteries? Hmmmm.

"Guys, when women don't get you and your explanation has 'Star Wars' in it..."

"... you probably should think again about making wisecracks about women not being sexy enough."

Blagojevich juror: "It was like, ‘Here’s a manual, go fly the space shuttle."

The work was too complicated!
Jurors said it took them several days just to figure out how to begin to break down their assignment into manageable tasks — not to mention how to understand the legal terminology (what exactly is conspiracy to commit extortion?). These were early hints of the multiple stumbling blocks they would find as they struggled, but failed, over 14 days of deliberations, to reach a verdict on any of the counts but one.

It also became clear early on that some jurors believed that much of Mr. Blagojevich’s crass political talk — captured in hours of secretly recorded phone calls — amounted to dreamy thoughts of what he might gain, not criminal demands.
You know, when someone is blabbing a lot dreamy thoughts, it might add up to a whole bunch of nothing. Wait. I got distracted. We're still talking about Blagojevich, right?
“A lot of it came down to, ‘What was his intent?’ ” [Steve] Wlodek said. “You could infer something if you looked at it one way, or not if you looked another.”
That's reasonable doubt. Didn't you at least get the memo that when there's reasonable doubt, you're supposed to find the defendant not guilty?
After initial frustration and confusion upon arriving in the deliberation room with little sense of what to do next, the jurors laid out a plan.

On large sheets of paper, they wrote down crimes Mr. Blagojevich was accused of committing, and taped each one on the walls around the room. On the sheets: a claim that he had sought political contributions in exchange for legislation to help a local pediatric hospital; another that he had sought a political fund-raising event in exchange for state financing for a school; another that he had sought payments for a law that would benefit the horse racing industry; and so on.
Good for them.  There must have a been a temptation to look at the whole big tangle and make an intuitive guess that he's a crook, then try to see where the actual crimes are.  Ah, but that's sort of what they did. Read the linked article. The votes kept splitting over all the crimes except the charge Blagojevich tried to sell the Senate seat. On that one, there was a lone holdout. None of the jurors will reveal who this person was, except to say that she was one of the women.
Mr. Wlodek described her stance as “very noble,” adding: “She did not see it as a violation of any laws. It was politics. It was more of conversations of what-ifs.”
If it were a play, she'd gradually win the rest of them over.

The linked NYT article seems to be written around the theme that if only the prosecutor had simplified the case and concentrated on the charge of selling the Senate seat, Blagojevich would have been convicted on a corruption charge. If that's the case, then, on retrial, the prosecutors know what to do. Won't they win?

Consider what the defense has learned. Even though only one juror held out, she held out for a long time, under great pressure. The other jurors clearly respect her. She was "very noble." On retrial, the defense will, I presume, try to make all the jurors feel the doubt she did. Was it not reasonable doubt?

August 18, 2010

Althouse in the NYT.

Talking about feminism and the First Lady. (A Bloggingheads clip.)

"So here we have government-anointed medical patriarchs substituting their own subjective view of Avastin's risks and costs for the value that doctors and patients recognize."

"If Avastin is rescinded, thousands of dying women will lose more than proverbial false hope in the time they have left. They will lose a genuinely useful medicine."


There are death panels. They don't want to be seen as death panels, because to be seen as death panels will undermine their relentless, bureaucratic work. So see them.

"How is this opposition to the mosque being funded? How is this being ginned up?”

Asks Pelosi, going all conspiracy theory. It just can't be that people — and it's the vast majority of Americans! — actually read/hear news reports and commentary and arrive at opinions.

Meanwhile, the right is headed over to the conspiracy place too.

The Emily's List "Mama Grizzlies" ad — is it funny/good/accurate?

Ace hates it, but Ace is not in the category of people/bears the ad is trying to win over. I thought the ad was charming and well done. Ace does a "Top 10" list of problems the ad, and the #1 thing wrong with the ad is: "Wicket just emailed me to say only one was worth 'nutting on.'" Nutting on, i.e., ejaculating on. Yeah? That's how you criticize women? They aren't good enough for you to ejaculate on? Despicable.

ADDED: Ace participates in the comments and is very gracious about it:
I can't say the Wicket joke was *funny.* It was obligatory, and it had a funny set of elements behind it, but in the end it was... not a good joke. Best I could do. (I had to do the whole list in 10 minutes ....)

So I concede it wasn't a strong joke....

But despicable?

At some point I think the objection here is something that can't even be expressed without sounding lunatic -- the idea that men cannot take notice of women as sexually desirable, at least not publicly, even as a joke, even as an *Ewok* commenting upon another *Ewok's* sexual desirability.

And because that idea is so transparently absurd as to dissolve upon first contact with sunlight, it's hidden within the conclusory word "despicable."
Lots of commenters seemed to think I didn't get the Ewok joke, but did they get my Daffy Duck joke? I'm kidding, but really: Guys, when women don't get you and your explanation has "Star Wars" in it, you probably should think again about making wisecracks about women not being sexy enough.

Harry Reid rails against birthright citizenship: "No sane country would do that."

In 1993:

I note that he's bumbling along, reading as if he'd never seen the text before and barely understood the words as he said them.

"[A] female juror ... was the lone holdout on convicting Blagojevich of attempting to sell the Senate seat 'wanted clear-cut evidence, and not everything was clear-cut.'"

According to one juror.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger says she's going to end her radio show and everyone seems to believe her.

But I don't! I accused Dr. Laura of doing a media stunt — saying the n-word over and over on the radio — to get attention, and — lo and behold! — she gets right onto the Larry King show. So far, so good, with this stunt.

Having made it to center stage, she makes a dramatic announcement:
“I want to regain my First Amendment rights,” she said. “I want to be able to say what’s on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors. I’m sort of done with that.”

But she stressed that she was not retiring, only ending her show, and would continue to write books and appear at speaking engagements.

“I’m not quitting,” she told Larry King. “I feel energized actually — stronger and freer to say the things that I believe need to be said for people in this country.”...

Shortly after Dr. Schlessinger made her announcement, one of the groups that had called for advertisers to back away from her show, Media Matters for America, issued a statement applauding the outcome.
She's not quitting right away. That's a key clue. She's just "made a decision not to renew her contract when it expires at the end of the year." She's fighting back, lighting a fire under her supporters, betting — I think — that her audience will increase as a result of the new attention.

Media Matters may want to intimidate advertisers, and without advertisers her new contract negotiations would not have gone well. It's better to quit than to go down defeated.  But the controversy is also great leverage. If her ratings go up — and I bet they do — the advertisers will be there.

Think about it: Rush Limbaugh is still on the air, with plenty of advertisers. If the Media Matters strategy for destroying radio careers worked, he'd have been gone long ago. Yeah, the strategy sort of worked against Imus, but only temporarily, and it made him seem important and relevant (even as the "nappy-headed hos" incident was probably painful for him). 

So the time for end-of-the-year contract negotiations will come up for Dr. Laura, and we'll see what happens. I predict she'll be offered good money, and she'll announce a change of plans, along with heaps of self-praise for her bravery standing up for her First Amendment rights. Remember, she "feels energized," and she wants"to say what’s on [her] mind and in [her] heart," and she won't tolerate "some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent."

Stay tuned.

August 17, 2010

At the Red Squirrel Café...


... you can cringe... or scamper for your life.

"Here's the Random Girl Who Just K.O.'d Half of Young Hollywood."

Here's the Random Girl Who Just K.O.'d Half of Young Hollywood

It's Rooney Mara.

"I think all the time I've felt that life is a wager, and that I was probably getting more out of leading a bohemian existence, as a writer, than I would have if I didn't."

"Writing is what's important to me and anything that helps me do that — or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation — is worth it to me, sure."

At this point, it's best not to have regrets.

(The whole show is here.)

AND: Andrew Sullivan says:
Hitch is dying as he lives, with integrity and passion. And since we all die in the end, alone, it is an impertinence even to enter this zone of another's last things. But for me, the human being, for good and ill, is more than reason. Reason must govern us, but it cannot explain us.

"Now, maybe you think my mom's 'nuts.' You're entitled to your opinion. I don't think she's nuts."


"Well, you know, the Feds passed the Age Discrimination In Employment Act, and abolished mandatory retirement ages."

"What did people think was going to happen? It’s just more pressing now, with all the higher education bubble talk."

Old professors who won't retire.

Pick one.
Professors should have tenure and no mandatory retirement.
No mandatory retirement, but get rid of tenure.
Keep tenure, but impose mandatory retirement.
Impose mandatory retire and get rid of tenure too. free polls

"This list isn't about the mindset of the class of 2014. It's about the mindset of the people who write it."

"It's about what makes them feel ancient. It's not about how college students think at 18; it's about how we think at 40 and 50 and 60. It's about how we think about the markers we once drove into the ground to mark what we considered Now, and how alarming it is to note that they are farther away than they used to be."

NPR reacts to the new Beloit College "mindset list."

From the list:
1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive....

17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection....
19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
(Have they ever used a dial on a phone?)
42. Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.
Okay. That one distracted me. (I'm distractable, and no, I wasn't the youngest in my class when I was a schoolkid. I was the oldest.) This gets me to something I wanted to talk about. Yesterday, I was reading the "Religion" chapter of Thomas Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia," and I came across this:
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
That's the famous quote I was looking for. But read on:
... Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion, by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only. Had not the Roman government permitted free enquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not free enquiry been indulged, at the aera of the reformation, the corruptions of Christianity could not have been purged away. If it be restrained now, the present corruptions will be protected, and new ones encouraged. Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in France the emetic was once forbidden as a medicine, and the potatoe as an article of food.
So Dan Quayle gets a boost from Thomas Jefferson. (And so does Tom Coburn, who recently pressed Elena Kagan with the question: "If I wanted to sponsor a bill and it said Americans, you have to eat three vegetables and three fruits every day and I got it through Congress and that’s now the law of the land, got to do it, does that violate the commerce clause?")

ADDED: I found the facsimile of the manuscript on line and determined that Jefferson did write "potatoe." See for yourself.

Diagnosed as ADHD?

Maybe you're just the youngest kid in the class.

Won't somebody please calculate the carbon footprint?

"The massive traffic jam that resulted from President Obama's motorcade and speech Monday night in Hancock Park is prompting calls for an investigation from some residents, who say they were caught in traffic for hours."

"... Obama stood on a stage and read the speech from teleprompters on his left and right that were placed at his eye-level – well above the heads of the crowd."

"So Obama seemed to be looking beyond the group of people gathered at his feet rather than engaging them."

"Critics say Obama's message becoming 'incoherent.'"

Yes, of course. It was built into Obama's style of communication that it would become incoherent when it moved from campaign oratory — which he seemed so good at — to the real work of governing — which requires you to make specific decisions about the details. At a high plane of principle and abstraction, there is a beautiful harmony. For example, most Americans believe in freedom of religion and reject discriminating against a particular religion. That's not what the dispute over the mosque near Ground Zero is about. Yet Obama thought he could participate in the dispute by doing nothing more than celebrating those principles.

What happened was, most people thought he was taking a position on the wisdom of building the mosque. That is, they didn't see that he was remaining aloof on the high plane of abstraction, beckoning them to join him up there and bask once again in the beautiful harmony that radiated from his glorious presidential campaign. But they'd moved on to trying to solve particular problems, and — like a law student handing in a D exam — Obama hadn't done the hard work of applying the doctrine to the fact pattern.

Obama's response, when he saw that people had misunderstood what he'd said, was to chide them for misreading. He didn't take advantage of the opportunity to do a rewrite and apply the uncontroversial principles to the controversial real-world problem. He stood firm on his lofty pillar of abstraction.
"The danger here is an incoherent presidency," said David Morey, vice chairman of the Core Strategy Group, who provided communications advice to Obama's 2008 campaign. "Simpler is better, and rising above these issues and leading by controlling the dialogue is what the presidency is all about. So I think that's the job they have to do more effectively as they have in the past [in the campaign]."
No! Simpler is only better if people accept the invitation to ascend to that high plane of abstraction where no particular decisions are made. Even if they do, it's only a temporary harmony, because when a particular decision needs to be made, disagreement will reemerge. That's what Morey is perceiving as "incoherence." To say, Obama should use abstraction to achieve coherence is to say Obama should hide our disagreements by avoiding the hard work of governing.
"There is no question they are having messaging problems at the White House," Morey said. "They've lost control of the dialogue, and they've gotten pulled down by the extremes on the left and right. They've just not had a coherent set of themes."
But Obama should descend on his own from that level of abstraction — that "coherent set of themes." If he doesn't do it himself, he will be "pulled down" by whoever fills the gap and takes specific positions about the details he likes to rise above.
"Communicating as a law professor does not work as president. It's not worked," [Morey] said. "You're drawing fine distinctions and speaking in long enough paragraphs that they can be misconstrued and taken out of context and frankly, handed to your opposition to exploit. And that's clearly what's going on here [with the Islamic center/mosque comments]."
Only a bad law professor operates that way. A good law professor speaks as clearly as possible and draws attention to anything the courts have glossed over or left ambiguous. We lawprofs try to extract the doctrinal rules and point up any place where courts have left the rule mushy. Then we apply those rules to particular factual settings. We hypothesize the most difficult applications of law to fact and help the students work through these hard problems. Obama's lolling at high levels of abstract principle and avoiding the specifics of applying principle to real problems is not the way of the law professor.

Firedoglake deploys mockery of Mormons to criticize the Mormon Harry Reid for opposing the the mosque near Ground Zero.

Making the cliché move of anti-Mormon bigots everywhere, Attaturk homes in on the undewear, titling his post "That’s no Sacred Undergarment, it’s 'Depends.'"

It's a very short post. Other than the reference to Reid's interest in reelection —  that's something we all thought of, right? — there's a question that I take as a rhetorical question meant to accuse Reid of inconsistency:
By the way Harry, I imagine you were up front in making sure the Mormon Church didn’t build some sort of Memorial at the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, because that would be, y’know, offensive to the memories of the victims for the same reasons?
You may need to do a little research to feel the bite that criticism. In the implicit analogy, 1. Mormans are to Muslims as the Mountain Meadow Massacre is to the WTC attack and 2. the memorial at the Mountain Meadows Massacre site is to the Mountain Meadows Massacre as the mosque near the WTC site is to the WTC attack.

I don't really see how the analogy holds up. As I understand it — and please correct me if I'm wrong — the Mountain Meadows memorial is a monument to the victims of the massacre (which occured in 1857). It was put up by Mormons in recent years, and, though today's Mormons were born long after the event and could not possibly have had a causal role in the massacre, they nevertheless take it upon themselves to express regret for what happened. Indeed, there is debate among Mormons about whether the apologies have gone deep enough.

An accurate analogy would be if today's Mormons put their efforts into making public statements informing us that they are not the ones who committed the massacre and that the vast majority of Mormons don't advocate doing that sort of thing, and then they wanted to build a place of worship for themselves near the site of the massacre which they want us to honor because of the way they would be making a show of the moderation of their form of Mormonism.

Come on, Attaturk! You can't even picture Mormons doing that, and certainly if they did, there would be screams of horror and disgust!

August 16, 2010

Scott Walker on the high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee: "I will put a stop to this boondoggle the day I take office."

Ed Morrissey says:
Only fifty-five permanent jobs? [For $810 million. $14.5 million per job.] Wisconsin shouldn’t be the only state demanding an explanation of this boondoggle. And we thought that spending $300K or more for every claimed job “saved or created” was bad. Porkulus looks like bargain basement in comparison.

9th Circuit stays the Prop 8 case pending appeal.

So... no same-sex marriages in California until the appellate court hears the case. The question whether the Prop 8 proponents have standing to appeal is a threshold question that is still unresolved.

Morgan Falls.


In Chequamegon National Forest.

"No lucid demonstration of the logic and inevitableness of Socialism affects me as profoundly and convincingly..."

"... as I was affected on the day when I first saw the walls of the Social Pit rise around me and felt myself slipping down, down, into the shambles at the bottom."

"A few people lined the streets of the business and industrial park that houses ZBB, hoping to get a glimpse of Obama's motorcade when it arrived."

"A few people lined the streets"? How do a few people line streets? Or even one street? Instead of saying something ridiculously nonsensical, why not admit it? When Obama came to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, basically nobody gave a damn.

"I'm sure [Tom DeLay] wishes it didn’t take 6 years of his life, with a cloud hanging over him."

"I am pleased with the outcome. They just took longer than we would have preferred. He said he was gratified and thanked us.”

At the Glowing Grass Café...



... the morning light was so beautiful here in your garden.

"I just wanted a multigrain bagel. I refused to say 'without butter or cheese.'"

"When you go to Burger King, you don't have to list the six things you don't want. Linguistically, it's stupid, and I'm a stickler for correct English... I yelled, 'I want my multigrain bagel!' The barista said, 'You're not going to get anything unless you say butter or cheese!'"

Meet this week's mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore character, Lynne Rosenthal.

"The true measure of affirmative action's staying power is that its absence now is virtually inconceivable."

Writes Harvard lawprof Randall Kennedy:
Liberalism has made racial homogeneity uncool and unacceptable. Even many conservatives are made uncomfortable by lily-white gatherings -- hence the enhanced value to the right of Clarence Thomas, Shelby Steele, Condoleezza Rice, Linda Chavez, and any well-spoken Negro or Latino who consorts with the Tea Party crowd. That conservatives practice affirmative action even as they condemn it is a tribute to liberalism's handiwork.

"There was a big crowd of people... The Taliban made the women wear black clothes and the men were made to stand."

"The Taliban started throwing stones. We were also asked to throw stones. After a while, the Taliban left. The woman was dead but the man was still alive. Some Taliban then came and shot him three times. The Taliban warned villagers if anyone does anything un-Islamic, this will be their fate."

In Kunduz, Afghanistan.

The "Should I Skip Class Today?" Calculator.

When you not only don't want to go to class, you don't even want to make a decision for yourself.

(Via Inside Higher Ed.)

As a teacher, I need to reverse-engineer my classroom policies. I can see students using this calculator would be encouraged to skip!

Hmm... I just tried to do that. It seems the only way I can change something to get a different result is to give pop quizzes. That would be bizarre in law school. But the equivalent — which is  not accounted for in the calculator — is to call on students randomly and have class participation be part of the grade.

"Paul Ryan will need all the friends he can make."

Writes G. Tracy Mehan, III in The American Spectator:
The stakes are too high for the Republicans to simply stand by, quietly, hoping the Democrats will self-immolate. The GOP needs to embrace a big, visionary idea, something like Ryan's "Roadmap," which addresses the most important political challenge of the age: the runaway costs of entitlements which were irresponsibly put on autopilot under both Democratic and Republican governments.

"Michael Bloomberg tells people where to smoke and where to walk in Times Square, how much fat they can have in their food..."

"... how much fat they can have in their food, bullies anybody who gets in his way. Now anybody who disagrees with him on the building of this mosque is against freedom of religion and the First Amendment. Why? Because Bloomberg stamps his foot and says so, that's why."

Suckers prefer Democrats.

"Like other constituents in the run-up to midterm elections, bedbugs are expressing their distaste for the Democrats' inability to use their majority status to pass progressive legislation."

(I love when I get to use my "insect politics" tag.)

"Top White House aides were shocked to learn in 1997 that Clinton was having sex with Lewinsky because she had been constantly flirting with..."

... George Stephanopoulos.

"Soo incredibly lost and devistated my thoughts and prayers go out to all the familys and friends involved."

"Thank you too all my friends for sticking with me even thru these tragic times I love you all."

Brett Sloppy.

Al Franken responds.

A bhtv commenter notices something:

August 15, 2010

Death panel.

"[F]or the first time in history, an FDA-approved anti-cancer therapy may not be covered by Medicare."

IN THE COMMENTS: Irene said (after I said "Picture someone who wants that drug to live. It isn't funded. FDA approved, but you can't get it under Medicare. We don't have to go by their euphemisms. Why isn't "Death Panel" an appropriate statement and an important way to create alarm?"):
If Avastin is what stands between you and death, then yes, "Death Panel" is an "appropriate statement" and yes, it is appropriate to cause alarm.

Full disclosure. I have advanced ovarian cancer. Hello friends and relatives.

The statistics for my stage of ovarian cancer (Stage IIIc) project an 18% survival rate two years after diagnosis.

I took part in a clinical trial for Avastin. My provider recently revealed to me that I received the test drug.

I am approaching that two-year mark of initial diagnosis, and so far, I am doing well. I attribute that good result to Avastin, which prevents the regeneration of cancer cells. Yeah, I had some lousy side effects, but it seems to have worked.

Thank you, and good night, Irene.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has a long article about this controversy over Avastin.
The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the recommendation of influential scientific advisers to revoke authorization of the drug to treat metastatic breast cancer. Contrary to initial research, new studies indicate that the benefits of the drug, which costs $8,000 a month, do not outweigh its risks, the advisory panel concluded.

Citing a dearth of evidence of the drug's effectiveness, its potential toxic side effects, and its high cost, many cancer experts, patient advocates and others are welcoming the prospect that Avastin's authorization for breast cancer might be repealed. But the possibility is alarming other cancer specialists, women taking the drug, some members of Congress and advocates for giving patients as much access to as many treatments as possible.
The FDA is not supposed to consider costs in its decisions, but if the agency rescinds approval, insurers are likely to stop paying for treatment.

"It's hard to talk about Avastin without talking about costs," said Eric P. Winer, director of the Breast Oncology Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "For better or worse, Avastin has become in many ways the poster child of high-priced anti-cancer drugs."
In the cost-benefit analysis, your improved chance of living may not be worth $8,000 a month.

Wisconsin farmland.


Seen from Blue Mounds.

I talk with Byron York about Tiger Woods, Dr. Laura, Michelle Obama, Steven Slater, Al Franken, the Prop 8 same-sex marriage decision, and the Ground Zero mosque..

This one's called "The Luckiest Diavlog on the Face of the Earth" for reasons that become apparent near then end. Also, somewhere in there the tornado sirens (in my town) go off.

ADDED: If you need a non-Flash format, go here and pick MP3/MP4.

"Just to be clear, the president is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night. It is not his role as president to pass judgment on every local project."

Said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

What's the worst thing about Burton's statement?
It disrespects Ground Zero to characterize it as just another "local project."
The President really did change his position, and it's a lie to deny that.
The President dips into local matters when he wants to, such as Skip Gates and the Cambridge cop.
It's legalistic hair-splitting again instead of saying something clear that people can understand. free polls

ADDED: I almost feel sorry for Obama and the Democrats for their misfortune that this is the issue that has come to the fore at this time.
At least one Republican, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, seized on the confusion. “Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people? Please tell us your position. We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they? And, no, this is not above your pay grade,” Palin wrote on Facebook....

Democratic aides say that, at the very least, the president has again knocked his party's candidates off local messages and forced them to talk about a national issue that doesn't appear likely to play well with important swing voters.

These officials planned to spend this weekend talking about Social Security’s 75th anniversary....

"The main reaction is 'Why? Why now?’" said one House Democratic leadership aide. "It's just another day off message. There have been a lot of days off message.

The chief of staff to one politically vulnerable House Democrat said it "probably alienates a lot of independent voters" and "it's not a good issue to be talking about right now."

He said he suspects "there are a lot of (Democrats) who are spooked in tough districts today" and "a lot of Republicans licking their chops right now."
Almost. The Democrats would love to do the same thing to the Republicans. They wouldn't hesitate to exploit something that captures the public's attention and provides leverage for the political arguments they like to make. Remember the Mark Foley incident in 2006.

"Graphic designer will be 'Homeless for One Week' in Union Square Park to raise money, awareness."

I love the "money, awareness" form in that headline. It's so Onion-y.
Yusef Ramelize, a 33-year-old graphic designer, will leave his Ozone Park apartment Sunday and take up residence in Union Square Park. He won't shower and he won't have shelter during his "Homeless for One Week" project.

"My reasoning for doing this is to inspire people to make sacrifices within their own lives," Ramelize said of his project, now in its second year.

He raised $3,635 in March 2009 and donated it to the Coalition for the Homeless. This year's beneficiary will be the Food Bank of New York....

Ramelize chose Union Square to pay homage to his biggest inspiration, Mohandas Gandhi, who is immortalized with a statue on the west side of the park.
So you're walking through Union Square, and you see Ramelize and a homeless-year-'round person. You have a $1 bill that you want to hand out. Which man gets the dollar?

That "20 Worst Americans of all time" list compiled by Right Wing News by surveying conservative bloggers.

It's a ridiculous list, as lawprof Stephen Bainbridge points out:
Personally, I find the collated list pretty much of a joke. It reflects the partisan passions of the moment, not anything resembling a serious verdict of history.
But it was predictable that the list would be ridiculous, because of the methodology:
All [43] bloggers were allowed to make anywhere from 1-20 selections. Rank was determined simply by the number of votes received. 
So, if everyone put Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama on the list, he'd come out as the worst person in American history. (The expression "of all time" highlights the silliness of the list. When in history do we start having "Americans"? 1776... 1787... or thereabouts. There were no terrible Americans in the Middle Ages or ancient times. Saying "of all time" makes you sound like a bombastic know-nothing. (It's an expression we've been using jocosely, chez Meadhouse, ever since this happened.)

In fact, only 25 of the 43 put Jimmy Carter on their list, and that was enough to put him at #1. Obama was second with only 23 selections. They're easy to think of, so they got on a lot of lists. (Surprisingly few, actually.) More obscure but more evil Americans were less likely to come to mind, but would probably have raked in votes if the surveyed bloggers had been given a list to chose from.

So, tweak the methodology. Have 2 stages where you first take suggestions for who should be on a list, then have the voters pick however many they want from the list. If I have to pick 20, I may need to pad it out with individuals who aren't really that bad. Or give everyone 20 votes and let them pile the votes on their choices in whatever proportion they want. You could dump 15 votes on Obama and 5 on Carter, for example.

By the way, oddly enough, my name appears in the first comment over there at Right Wing News:
What an [sic] spectacularly ignorant list. I'm a progressive, and I could do a better job of being a right-wing butthole than the people who voted.....

Michael Moore over Upton Sinclair or Lincoln Steffens? Jane Fonda over Paul Robeson? Not one member of the Warren Court? Not Theodore Roosevelt? Where's Daniel Ellsberg or Seymour Hirsch-- or Julian Assange?

This is why we make fun of your lack of intellect, folks-- you can't even identify the people who've done the most damage to your belief system. It would be as if progressives compiled a list of the most vile and bigoted conservatives in history and picked Wally George, John Schmitz, Ann Althouse and Orly Taitz.
... whoever they are.

If you click over to Bainbridge, you'll see his comments on each of the individuals on the RWN list. Bainbridge also makes his own "Worst Americans" list, with a decided emphasis on traitors. He puts Aldrich Ames and Benedict Arnold at #1 and #2.

Now, for some reason he puts Paris Hilton at #11. Huh? I guess he thought there had to be a female on the list and that was the best he could do. He called her the "personification of the celebrity obsessed culture." Isn't the obsession with celebrities the fault of the people doing the obsessing? (Let's take responsibility for our own faults. It's the conservative way, I've heard.)

In an update, he defends his #11 selection of Hilton "as one of the earliest examples of how it is now possible in our culture to be famous merely for being famous without having any significant merit or worth."

Earliest examples? Earliest examples??!!! If Paris Hilton seems like an early example, you might not know so much about history.  The definition of "celebrity" as someone who is "known for his well-knownness" appears in a book that came out in 1962 — "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America" by Daniel J. Boorstin.

Can we think of some earlier examples of famous-for-being-famous Americans? Who was Boorstin writing about in 1962? We had empty celebrities then, for sure. Somebody motivated Andy Warhol to say "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Or is that why we can't remember the empty celebrities of the past? Their fame-time ran out, and we forgot.

And how about giving Paris Hilton credit as an entrepreneur? You try creating a compelling character out of yourself and making money out of that product? The fact is, she's a model and an actress, and the way she annoys people like Bainbridge and seems dumb and pointless is part of the fabulous image-product that has sold so well.