September 18, 2010

At the Prairie Sunset Café...


... there's a soft, unreal glow.

"New memorial signs to mark deaths caused by distracted drivers in 2011."

But... signs are a distraction.

40% turnout for the Afghan elections — despite the Taliban threats of violence.

The "people of Afghanistan sent a powerful message," said General Petraeus. "The voice of Afghanistan's future does not belong to the violent extremists and terror networks."

"The 5th Freedom! Freedom from unnecessary drudgery!"

I love the "Word to the Wives" film short (c. 1955) at this story about modern kitchens.  

Grape jelly and light mustard! Continuous ice circles!

Ron Paul! You need to come speak at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Yesterday, after the faculty meeting, I walked down Bascom Hill, which was extremely well-posted with student activist posters....


... including this one, which is horrifying for so many reasons...


"Fast Trains Are Cool." As if the government should provide us with everything, even coolness. Big Brother loves you, and Big Brother will also supply the coolness that's currently missing in your gray little life. Wow! We can go fast. Train go fast. Student not think about who pay for cool fast train. Ride train. Train cool.

I kept walking, down to library mall, where I was accosted by a guy with a clipboard, a sort of campus character I would normally discreetly evade, but he was part of a group of students I'd noticed earlier, telling people it was Constitution Day, and therefore we ought to sign a petition to bring Ron Paul to campus to speak, so I stop...


... and even sign the petition. He tells me Ron Paul has said that if students collect 1000 signatures, he'll come to the campus to speak. I ask him if he's finding many conservative or libertarian students on this campus. He admits that there don't seem to be too many, but that he does think the students these days are pretty open-minded and interested in hearing different points of view. Is it possible that the new generation of UW students is more flexible and less rigidly committed to left/liberal ideology? He thought so. I asked if I could take his picture, and I got the picture above, and that sparked this convergence...


... and I asked if it was okay if I blogged them, and the answer was "Blog?!" as if it were 2004 again. I felt young. Cool. On my own. Without a fast train or a Big Brother. And I'm thinking: Ron Paul! Come to the University of Wisconsin! I need to blog this to help get Ron Paul to the University of Wisconsin to talk to our possibly really open-minded young people before they get swept too far by the empty promises of cool things. Before they get... railroaded.

"Incumbent sore loser to launch desperate bid to keep power."

Writes Allahpundit about Lisa Murkowski.

Everyone commenting on this story is looking back to see how they wrote about Joe Lieberman in 2006, right? Gotta do a hypocrisy check before posting on this one. I'm sure Allahpundit did though, because I'm reading "sore loser" as a wink. Yeah, I remember Lieberman/Loserman.

Christine O'Donnell: " I dabbled into witchcraft — I never joined a coven. But I did, I did. … I dabbled into witchcraft."

She said that in 1999. I don't know when the dabbling itself took place. It bugs me more that she says "dabbled into" than that she actually did it (or claimed to). It's "dabbled in." Here's the clip, from Bill Maher's show:

1. Maher obviously knows her well and likes her. "She's nice," he says. She was on his show a lot, and he's just exploiting the clips he has, which, he tells us, he's going to keep doing until she comes on his show. He's blackmailing her and giggling about what he's doing to this nice person he likes.

2. It's a good attention-getting ploy by Maher. He's got the video and he's taking clips out of context for the maximum shock/comic effect. It's perfectly okay to do that with video, right? Remember when Andrew Breitbart did something like that to Shirley Sherrod, and all the liberals got all righteous about taking things out of context?

3. Did O'Donnell ever practice witchcraft? I doubt it. Even in the out-of-context clip, I'm seeing a young woman trying to get the hipper kids to believe she isn't really a complete square. In the story she tells, she went out with someone who, she thought, was into Satanism, and they had a picnic. A picnic! Even when she's straining to sound cool, she's square.

4. But she "dabbled into" witchcraft — doesn't that mean she did some witchcraft things? Frankly, I don't think she knows what "dabbled" means. The use of the wrong preposition is a hint. I think she means something more like she stumbled into witchcraft. She knew some people who did such things, and I'll bet the point she was making was that she was able to be friends with them, that she hasn't spent her whole life cocooned in squeaky clean conservative religion and she's able to relate to a wide variety of people.

5. Even if she had participated in some witchcraft, she'd only be like thousands of other young people who dabble in such nonsense. Do you want to string them all up? It's typical pop culture junk these days.

"Hendrix is remembered as the greatest rock guitarist of all time not because he was more adept than anyone else..."

"... at moving his fingers along a fretboard (countless guitarists have surpassed him at this), but because he had the most profound effect on how we make and hear music."

My son John pays his tribute to Jimi Hendrix — who died 40 years ago today. There's some good discussion over there about why art is more important than politics, which, of course, it is.

September 17, 2010

At the Textured Wall Café...


... you can scribble aimlessly.

Sarah goes to Iowa.

Look out.

We've found those "mice with fully functioning human brains" that Christine O'Donnell was worried about.

It's Pinky and the Brain, brain, brain, brain...

Good lord! She's right to be worried. Every night, they try to take over the world!

(Thanks to HKatz — katz and mice! — and, in the email, sonicfrog — frogz and mice.)

"State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond..."

"... parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off. One record shows how a man was branded with hot metal. People were forced to work naked in the middle of winter; 80 per cent of all the villagers in one region of a quarter of a million Chinese were banned from the official canteen because they were too old or ill to be effective workers, so were deliberately starved to death."

New details from the Great Leap Forward, 1958-1962, in which 45 million people died.

Justice Breyer responds to pushback.

Or something.

(Whatever happened to refusing to comment on issues that might reach the Court in real cases? Or is that just get-through-the-Judiciary-Committee blather?)

ADDED: What scares me is the thought that, if Justice Breyer had heard cheers at the hint that he might protect the feelings of Muslims over the free speech of Rev. Jones, he would have gone the other way.

Jon Stewart on the Tea Party Primaries.

Really funny... and he does a good job of mocking everyone:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tea Party Primaries - Beyond the Palin
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Is your law school as good as Marquette?

We're judging you by your commercials now. Are we doing commercials?

(The hyper-glamorous building in the ad cost $85 million.)

September 16, 2010

At the Disorientation Café...


... get thy bearings.

"American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains."

Uh oh! That's Christine O'Donnell, my dear friends.

Via Memeorandum.

ADDED: And here she is with Eddie Izzard!

The Squirrel Rights Song.

"We didn't sign a release!"

"Living in her gilded cage all these years, Madonna, once a frequenter of dirty Manhattan bars, clubs, and pizza joints, has lost touch with the Real New York...."

And then she encountered our Palladian!
If only he had stuck around. He might have heard a whispered "Thank you."
Ha ha ha ha.

Who will play Freddie Mercury in the movie about the great rock star?

Sacha Baron Cohen. Interesting!

"Really? Ann Althouse made mistakes in a job interview?"

Jeez. I am such a stereotype!


Please define.

Let's reenact sex scenes from the movies and see how good it would be in real life.

Now, let's see... which movie scenes....

(Enlarge to read.)

Oh, good lord. It's like they wanted it to be bad.

The magazine is Glamour. I'm reading it because it's on the table in front of me at the hair salon (right next to that Architectural Digest).

So the Joaquin Phoenix "I'm Still Here" thing was an act, which everybody pretty much knew...

... except Roger Ebert (kind of), who gave it a terrible review, which everyone else did too. So now, the director (Casey Affleck) is trying to claw his way back into respectability by taking the stage to tell us it was a Borat-ish fake, except that no one cares anymore, because the film wasn't entertaining, partly because it made the few people who saw it feel bad about the druggy dissolution of a once-great actor.

Well, so maybe it could become entertaining now that Affleck has unburdened us of the sadness we felt to see Phoenix fall — a burden, Affleck had to know, hit people with the additional weight of reminding them of the death of Joaquin's brother River — and we know that Joaquin is acting!

But when Joaquin was traveling about making the film, clips leaked out, people suspected it was an act, and the clips weren't funny then, which I suspect is why they decided to put the film together in a way that deprived the audience of the ability to confirm that it was an act. Make it a puzzle. Stir people up. But that didn't work.

It's so pathetic to try to get a second chance at attracting attention to your movie. But we're all glad, I take it, that Joaquin's okay. Now, will somebody give the actor a script?

Hey! What happened to Architectural Digest?


I remember when it was about, you know, architecture. Gerard Butler, eh? Who is he, and am I really supposed to believe he relaxes like that, curled up in that velvet chair, in tight jeans and bare feet and a shirt opened just so? Plus! Sting and Lance Armstrong!

So, it's all about people now. And why are they all guys? I guess this is the real architecture we magazine readers (women) are looking for these days. It all coheres if you think of the right word: erection. It's what we want: a house and a man.

But something seems... off. It's so blatant. The bearded "Joy of Sex"-type guy. His name is Butler. I need a butler. And a lance. And a sting. Ha. Or is it that little girl's watch he's wearing?

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

What Carla Bruni says Michelle Obama said about being First Lady.

"It’s hell. I can’t stand it!"

Oh, Carla, you attention whore. I want the whole context and the inflection. I can think of a hundred ways those words could have been spoken (assuming they were spoken). There's a way to say it that actually means "of course, it's wonderful." There's a context in which it refers only to a part of the experience, such as the way you don't get much time alone with your husband anymore.

But Carla appropriates the line to spice up the book she's selling.

I'm giving Michelle a complete pass on this one.

ADDED: Ed Driscoll assembles a lot of background material, including something I said a while ago.

Is lust a sin? Is masturbation a sin?

Back in the 90s, Christine O'Donnell — the new GOP candidate for Delaware Senator — said: "The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. You can't masturbate without lust!" She's getting teased or denounced or whatever for saying that, but it's not a stupid thing for a Christian to say.

The Sermon on the Mount is central to Christianity. In it, Jesus calls us to a higher level of morality than what traditional law requires. The law forbids murder, for example, but Jesus says that even to be angry with someone or to call him a "fool" is to expose yourself to the danger of God's judgment. (Are you sure you want to call O'Donnell a fool?)

Continuing with that theme, Jesus says:
You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
So what have you been doing with that hand, eh?

O'Donnell, unlike Jesus, did not go so far as to say that you ought to be lopping off your own masturbating hand. (If you think that, I recommend masturbating with your left hand, if you're right-handed.) O'Donnell took a much more moderate approach to the sacred text (as many believers do). In her view, the real offense against God is abusing the gift of sexuality by disconnecting it from the context of deep love in a marital relationship. In that interpretation, masturbation is sinful. It is mere lust, without love. Is lust a sin? You decide for yourself. She wasn't recommending that the law enforce this higher morality, but what is wrong with it as a personal, religious doctrine? Why is it not respected?

And let's remember: This was back in the 90s. Do you remember how insane everyone was back then? Here's a quick refresher course.

President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, fired Jocelyn Elders in 1994, after people freaked out when she said that young people should "perhaps ... be taught" about masturbation, because it is "is part of human sexuality" and useful in keeping them from doing riskier sexual things.

"I yelled at Madonna today, and I didn't even realize it until later!"

So Madonna is filming this movie in Brooklyn... and our longtime commenter Palladian has an encounter:
I yelled at Madonna today, and I didn't even realize it until later!

She's apparently directing a film (!) and was shooting right in front of my house in Brooklyn on Wednesday. I came outside to do my morning walk and there were crowds of people all over the place: screaming black girls, curious Chassidim, hipsters in Ray-Bans feigning disinterest, irritated cops... I saw a bunch of Arri equipment boxes and realized it was a film shoot of some sort. I walked a few feet down my block and a chick with a headset held up her arm and said "You have to cross the street, sir!" I replied: "I don't have to do anything. This is my neighborhood, and a public sidewalk, and I'll go where I please!"

I walked a few more feet and another drone with a headset came rushing up to me and said "The sidewalk's closed. Please cross the street!" I replied: "This is a public sidewalk. I will continue to walk where I please."

I pushed past him and a I came upon a haggard woman in sunglasses, a baseball cap and a scarf printed with a stylized skull pattern holding a clipboard and looking into a hand-held monitor along with a couple of other people. Being a veteran of the terrible world of film production, I recognized that this woman was probably the director. I paused as I passed and said to her: "You need to inform your brain-dead P.A.s that they need to treat us residents a little better, honey." She looked at me, expressionless behind her sunglasses for a moment before one of the men with her said "Move along, sir." I replied "a hearty fuck you to both of you" and I walked onward.

Later, when I was on my way home, I stopped in the local market and the Korean guy who runs the place said to me: "what do you think of that mess out there?" I told him of my encounter with the production assistants and the director. He laughed and said: "do you know who that director is? Madonna!"

I smiled and said "No, I didn't recognize her.. but she looks like hell and sure runs a shitty location shoot."


"Well, now I'm tempted to link to this, but maybe that would require more intensely intra-Meta talking, and who knows where the echo would end. Chez Althouse, we call that the vortex. Please be careful."

September 15, 2010

At the Frozen Custard stand...


... watch out for drips and larger-than-they-appear objects.

"Do you remember when we met?/That's the day I knew you were my pet."

Just a song suggestion — "Sea of Love" — for Harry Reid to sing to li'l Chrissy Coons.

I want to tell you, oh, how much I love you.

Sunset, moonrise.



Tonight, on Lake Wingra.

Molly Norris, the "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" cartoonist, is "going ghost."

Her newspaper, Seattle Weekly, reports:
[O]n the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is... moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity... in effect, being put into a witness-protection program—except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It's all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" cartoon.
Terrible. My heart goes out to you, Molly, even though I was always opposed to the "everybody draw Mohammed" approach to protesting the threats against the cartoonists who had drawn Muhammad. I believe strongly in free speech rights, but I think people should, in deciding how to exercise their rights, think about the effect their speech has on others who don't deserve to be offended. I imagine (and hope) that Molly is drawing her adventures and telling her story in what will be a widely read comic book. She has a charming drawing style and a nice sense of humor — plus the panache of unjust persecution and danger. Good luck!

ADDED: There's a big Metafilter thread about it, which I'm reading after writing that. A surprising number of people are blaming Norris for bringing the death threats on herself.

Shrimp attack!

"Killer shrimp assault British shrimp, threaten ecosystem."

The Brit shrimps need to man up.

Another Palin pick snags a victory.

Hey! Kelly Ayotte was just declared the winner of the NH GOP primary. Hmmm. Ha.

Corpse flower alert!

Here at the University of Wisconsin.

I was there for the great 2005 blooming. Blogged day and night.

"Because of this primary we are tested and we are ready to take on the liberals in Madison."

Said Mark Scott Walker, after winning the primary here in Wisconsin. He's the GOP candidate for Governor, running against Tom Barrett.
Wisconsin's governorship has been a top target for both parties, with groups aligned with each side running ads to disparage Walker or Barrett. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, who has helped Barrett raise money, has visited Wisconsin three times since June and is scheduled to hold a Madison rally on Sept. 28.
Calendar marked! Marked and Tommed.

(Back in August, we were admiring Walker's excellent anti-high-speed-rail ad.)

IN THE COMMENTS... Okay, okay, so it's Scott Walker... and my "marked and tommed" joke makes even less sense than originally. I'm bored with the names Mark and Scott.

Romney chooses a side.

"Support for Christine O'Donnell appears to have emerged this morning as a kind of grassroots litmus test, and the Establishment is scrambling to pass it."

"Are you wearing your 'Survivor' T-shirt because 'Survivor' starts again on TV tonight?"

Yeah, the show's back, with the tribes split into old (40 and over) and young (30 and under), and it's on Wednesdays now. And Meade's wearing his "Survivor" T-shirt.


It all makes sense. Except... Meade should have been  there on the oldie team. He's way over 40. But he did earn that T-shirt. (Enlarge to read.)

To continue on the subject "politics should not be that emotional or that big a part of our lives," I have a confession to make.

I didn't vote in the Wisconsin primary. And I took refuge in the back of my house many times when candidates — actual candidates, not their acolytes — rang my doorbell in the hope of getting to talk to me personally. They left handwritten "sorry I missed you" notes.

Like many Americans, I have an aversion to politics. I may write about politics every day, but it's from a distance... an intentional, heartfelt distance.

"If we learned anything tonight it's that New Yorkers are as mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."

Said Carl Paladino. And if they don't feel quite so mad, they can have good old Andrew Cuomo as their governor.
Regardless of whether Paladino can pull off another upset, his victory Tuesday night served as a wakeup call to the state's Republican establishment.

"The old party leaders can do one of two things," he told reporters after his victory speech. "They can do what the people want - or they can quit."
Meanwhile, in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell is hearing that the National Republican Senatorial Committee isn't going to fund her campaign, because she's not sufficiently competitive with the Democrat, even though she just smashed Republican Party regular Mike Castle.

The story today is the complacency of established Republicans who imagined they could waltz in and take over after people got horrifically sick of Democrats. As if there were nowhere else to go. And maybe there isn't. (Are Paladino and O'Donnell suitable heirs to the immense power Democrats have been abusing?) But that doesn't make the Republicans any more enticing.

When you have to break up with your abusive, hot boyfriend, it's not as if you want to go out with the dweeb you wouldn't be seen with before. Or... no. That's a terrible analogy, because politics should not be that emotional or that big a part of our lives. The Tea Party seems to embody anger at government, but its candidates need to be serious and competent now.

"If you’ve got, so to speak, the devil inside the elevator, press the call button. Call Otis."

"You’re trying to make this fun, I can understand that. But I’ve never heard of anything like this."

"Okay, what if one of your fellow passengers bites you?"

"Smack the person across the face."

Elevator expert is questioned a propos of this movie trailer:

Oh, I see. All our ridiculous primal fears about elevators are going to be exploited. IF... and I stress if... we subject ourselves to another M. Night Shyamalan movie.

It seems silly to make big expensive wide-screen movies about a few people stuck in a small space. Such things would do better on a theater stage. Like "No Exit." Or, even better, on TV. Like "Five Characters in Search of an Exit." ("Twilight Zone" video begins here.)

I truly loathe the movie techniques used in that trailer — music, swooping shots, editing — to try to make something inherently small fill the big screen. Our fears are in our heads. Put us in touch with that. Don't hurl screenfuls of flashing lights in our face and blast us with cheeseball music. That just makes me feel bad, and then I get angry. To scare me, you must be subtle.

Just a barrel, a dark depository where are kept the counterfeit, make-believe pieces of plaster and cloth, wrought in the distorted image of human life. But this added, hopeful note: perhaps they are unloved only for the moment. In the arms of children, there can be nothing but love. A clown, a tramp, a bagpipe player, a ballet dancer, and a major. Tonight's cast of players on the odd stage known as the Twilight Zone.

September 14, 2010

"Christine O’Donnell, whose candidacy was supported Tea Party activists and backed by Sarah Palin, stunned Republicans Tuesday night..."

" beating a party-backed candidate, Representative Michael N. Castle, in the Senate primary in Delaware."

I don't know that much about O'Donnell, but I was dismayed by efforts to portray her as unstable because she went to court after she was subjected to what she thought was sex discrimination. And I don't know much about Castle, but why was a 70-year-old man running for a first term in the Senate? That struck me as self-centered vanity at odds with the interests of his party — which was particularly suspect given his RINO record. So — good for O'Donnell.

UPDATE: NRSC reverses itself. A little slow on the uptake. They need to readjust their attitude fast.

President Obama's back to school speech contained blatant lies...

... and if there were any students not bright enough to notice that they were hearing lies, the lies, in their particular cases, were, ironically, bigger lies. Check it out:
Nobody gets to write your destiny but you. Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing -- absolutely nothing -- is beyond your reach, so long as you’re willing to dream big, so long as you’re willing to work hard. So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education, there is not a single thing that any of you cannot accomplish, not a single thing. I believe that.
If you believe that, you are so dumb that your chances of controlling your own destiny are especially small. But it's absurd to tell kids that if only they dream big, work hard, and get an education, they can have anything they want. Do you know what kind of dream job kids today have?  A recent Marist poll showed that 32% would like to be an actor/actress. 29% want to be a professional athlete.  13% want to be President of the United States.  That's not going to happen.

Even young people with more modest dreams — like getting a decent law job after getting good grades at an excellent law school — are not getting what they want. To say "nothing -- absolutely nothing -- is beyond your reach" is a blatant lie, and Barack Obama knows that very well. The assertion "I believe that" is on the level of Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar, adding "Yeahhh! That's the ticket!"

And even if economic times were not so miserable, Barack Obama's political philosophy would not be "Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it." That's the sort of thing Rush Limbaugh likes to say. If Obama believed that, he'd be all about reducing the role of government and unleashing private enterprise. He'd be a big right winger. Does he look at a poor person and say, his life is what he made it? Of course not.

Free Carrie!

Let her live again.

Did Justice Breyer actually say anything about the right to burn the Koran?

Here's the colloquy from today's "Good Morning America":
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, when we spoke several years ago, you talked about how the process of globalization was changing our understanding of the law. When you think about the internet and when you think about the possibility that, you know, a pastor in Florida with a flock of 30, can threaten to burn the Koran and that leads to riots and killings in Afghanistan, does that pose a challenge to the First Amendment, to how you interpret it? Does it change the nature of what we can allow and protect?

BREYER: Well, in a sense, yes. In a sense, no. People can express their views in debate. No matter how awful those views are. In debate. A conversation. People exchanging ideas. That's the model. So that, in fact, we are better informed when we cast that ballot. Those core values remain. How they apply can-

STEPHANOPOULOS: The conversation is now global.

BREYER: Indeed. And you can say, with the internet, you can say this. Holmes said, it doesn't mean you can shout fire in a crowded theater. Well, what is it? Why? Well people will be trampled to death. What is the crowded theater today? What is-

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's exactly my question.

BREYER: Yes. Well, perhaps that will be answered by- if it's answered, by our court. It will be answered over time, in a series of cases, which force people to think carefully. That's the virtue of cases.
To me, Breyer is doing nothing more than smearing around the usual platitudes about how judges interpret law and decide cases in the context of ever-changing real world facts and let's have a fine day in the classroom cogitating about the elaborateness of all that.

But maybe you think he's revealing that he thinks that ill-behaved hot-heads in other countries are changing the scope of our First Amendment freedoms, now that the internet transmits every local free speaker's performance art around the world.

Unsaid, but implicit, Breyer:

'What fun we could have re-interpreting the Constitution if only Scalia and Thomas would drop dead while we still have Obama as President and a Democratic majority in the Senate'

Seems like he knows there isn't a plurality of justices that agree with his implied stance that freedom of speech should be limited based on the global sensitivities, so he dances around saying what he really wants to say.

If Scalia, Thomas, Roberts or Alito were to leave, and we had the likes of Breyer in the majority in the Supreme Court, all sorts of new 'rights' would be established, and all sorts of old rights would be curtailed.
I think you're right. By the way, "he dances around saying what he really wants to say" has a second meaning, which I know you didn't intend.

"My friends, don't ever try to hug a polar bear."

"You will die."
A polar bear will rip your head off. If a polar bear shows up in your driveway, run for the hills -- or don't leave your house. Do not go out there and let it hug you. Headline: "Polar Bear Attacks Woman in Berlin Zoo -- April 11, 2009. A polar bear attacked a woman in Berlin Zoo Friday afternoon after she climbed a fence and jumped into its habitat during feeding time." She wanted to show the polar bear that she felt sorry for it, that she understood and supported efforts to make its habitat safer. 
Nissan is making the world unsafe for people who take things literally.

You decide:
It's delightful, charming, well-made.
It's dangerously stupid.
A bit piano-tinklingly sentimental, but okay. free polls

A man named Carr, distressed by cars, got a speed hump installed in front of his house.

A man named Patton, hating the way the hump slowed his car, stopped Carr... with a bullet to the brain.

The war against swimming pools?


1. "If we are going to pour such a carbon intensive material into the ground doesn't it make environmental sense to reserve it for public pools that we can all use?"

2. "[S]ubstances form in pool water from reactions between disinfectants such as chlorine and organic matter that is present naturally in the water or is introduced by swimmers from sweat, skin cells and urine. Long-term exposure to the substances has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer...."

3. ???!!!

Let's cha cha!

"I'm simply appalled by the double standard you men try to impose on us women."

Dialogue written by... Joseph Heller.

School refusal... "It’s not a diagnosis... It’s not a disorder; it’s a symptom.”

The medical symptom of avoiding school.

I am nobody.

I read it in the Wall Street Journal.

"I am nobody."

Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
Ah, yes! The Emily Dickinson poem:
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring blog!
(I added a letter!)

What's more surprising, that these too are both officially stylish...

... or that they are a couple?

There's something unnerving about the extreme sexual dimorphism. The man looks like he's kidnapped a child.

"Not backing down... President Obama has formally renominated five judges whose candidacies were previously derailed by Senate Republicans."

Sam Stein reports. (Is "reports' the right word?)
Obama's decision to renominate these figures demonstrates that the White House is not just willing, but eager to spotlight the remarkably slow pace of its judicial confirmations...

The administration has been left largely powerless to move Senate Republicans, save for somewhat-idle threats to keep Congress in session while individual nominations are debated. But they are finding more and more allies in their frustration from prominent judicial and political figures. On Monday, the American Constitution Society began circulating a letter signed by a group of former federal court judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, urging the Senate to take immediate action on languishing nominations.
Former federal court judges appointed by... Republican presidents? Surely, this is impressively neutral support for the President...  or so I will believe when we have a Republican President facing foot-dragging Democratic Senators and there's an equivalent letter signed by former federal court judges appointed by  Democratic Presidents.

"Her bodice looks like the outside of the rib. Over the shoulder looks like it does come from the shoulder."

How fitting!
"There are no expensive cuts here, no real steaks," he said. "The best you've got is the flank steak on top of her head."...

"It's the cheaper end cuts - not including her. You got about $100 of meat there," said Mark Cacioppo, 30, of Queens....

"It ain't refrigerated. It's probably stinking bad. She's in the lights: It's cooking," said Peter Cacioppo....

"What's next: the family cat made into a hat?" asked Ingrid Newkirk, head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA always uses that rhetorical move. Instead of that animal you don't care about, picture the family pet.

Anyway, Lady Gaga went on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" — too bad YouTube hasn't yet perfected the internet equivalent of Smell-O-Vision — and explained herself...

... with delightful incoherence. She doesn't want to be "just another bitch in a dress." She claims it has to do with her opposition to Don't Ask Don't Tell, which flummoxes the poor vegan Ellen.

I love the part where she proclaims herself "The most judgment-free person on the face of the earth." Ha. When did "judgment" acquire a 100% negative meaning.

"I regard the afterlife as a fairy story for people who are afraid of the dark."

"All religions are in their nature mild and benign, and united with principles of morality."

"They could not have made proselytes at first, by professing anything that was vicious, cruel, persecuting or immoral. Like every thing else, they had their beginning; and they proceeded by persuasion, exhortation, and example. How then is it that they lose their native mildness, and become morose and intolerant?"

September 13, 2010

"I Like Ike."


There's good reason to love Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

As a consequence of his proposal to build a mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has become quite famous — specifically famous for his assurances of moderation and his asserted desire to promote intercultural connection and harmony. You can doubt his motives or be suspicious of whether he's really at heart all that moderate. But the fact remains: He's world famous for his moderation now, and he's going to have to stick to it. That's great, isn't it?
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf promised on Monday to resolve the fierce dispute around plans to build a Muslim community center and mosque two blocks from ground zero, while noting that he does not believe the spot chosen for the center is “hallowed ground.”

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, he promised to find a way out of the current impasse around the planned center, which opponents say is insensitive to the memory of 9/11 and which supporters say sends the opposite message, that Muslims, like other Americans, object to and were victims of the attacks.

“Everything is on the table,” he said. “We really are focused on solving it” in a way that will be best for everyone concerned, he added. “I give you my pledge.”
He may not have meant to get himself into this position. But he's now the designated moderate imam. He's pretty much going to have to play out his role, and it's great to have someone in that role. Is he the one who deserves all this attention? Is he all that well suited to speak for others and follow through as a force for moderation? Who knows? But he's here now, and circumstances have bestowed this prominence and responsibility on him. It will be exceedingly difficult for him to back out of it now. He will have to be the man events have chosen him to be. And we need that man.

I celebrate Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

"Subject: This moment" — email from Barack Obama.

This moment. Bleh. Is he sending me the lyrics from an "American Idol" finale song?
What if I told you
It was all meant to be
Would you believe me,
Would you agree
It's almost that feelin'
That we've met before
So tell me that you don't think I'm crazy
When I tell you love has come and now...
A moment like this...
Eh. Sorry, I don't believe you, Barack. The moment is over.
Ann --

When Michelle and I decided that I would run for President, it was because of a shared belief in the power of community and connection, a commitment to the idea that we are our brothers' keepers....

There are a lot of people out there who do not believe we can continue this work.

But we've defied the naysayers before. It was supporters like you who stood up and said...
Am I one of the people who are considered the 8 million members of "Obama's Army" that seems to have melted back into the civilian population?

A Metafilter thread that begins as a celebration of a skateboarder who took a Koran from a Christian who was planning to burn it devolves into a discussion of theft.

"Why are you even interested in a 'theft' angle? Why would that be a priority for you? That's what I don't immediately see."

Ha. It's America, man. We actually care about the rule of law... and the general principles embodied therein.

"Cher held her own next to Lady Gaga, who wore a controversial dress that appeared to be made from meat..."

Advantage... Cher!

Why are there so many serious novels about 9/11 and so few about Katrina? — asks Chloe Schama who thinks it's just shameful.

She says:
In the aftermath of the attacks on the Word Trade Center, many of the most famous authors of our time have weighed in on the attacks, depicting the ways large and small in which they altered people’s lives. Some hypothesized possible motivations behind the terrorists’ actions: John Updike in Terrorist (2006) and Martin Amis in the short story “The Last Days of Muhammad Atta” (2006). Others used the events as narrative bookends: Don DeLillo’s Falling Man (2007) and Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children (2006) are two examples. Some novels commented more indirectly: At the start of Ian McEwan’s Saturday (2005), the protagonist sees a plane flying low and fears a terrorist attack, while, in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), the main character’s quest to unravel a personal mystery is motivated by his father’s death in the World Trade Center.

Meanwhile, the literary response to Hurricane Katrina, the other great American disaster of the last decade, has been almost nonexistent. In the five years since Katrina, almost no major literary figure has similarly illustrated the effects of the hurricane.
Oh, good lord, this is so stupid I hate to have to point it out. Katrina was a hurricane. We don't have to try to figure out its motivations and come to terms with its evil. Yes, there were human failings in the aftermath of the storm, but novelists have been chewing through the routine failings of humankind since the novel was invented. They don't even need a real event that had real people screwing up to get them started. They'll make up stories and characters to show the way people do bad things. You know, fiction.
But the lack of a strong literary response to the hurricane appears to have consequences.... For centuries, novels have done the important job of making devastation more concrete for people by examining individual experience, real or fictional, with that devastation.
Ugh. Art subordinated to politics and social change. Great novelists should write about Katrina to help people. No. That's not how it works.
Novelists have done a commendable job exposing us to the dust and the rubble of September 11. It’s time for more of them to churn the mud, water, blood, and decay wrought by Katrina.
As if serious novelists take their marching orders from the political hacks of this world.

AFTERTHOUGHT: "It’s time for more of them to churn the mud, water, blood, and decay wrought by Katrina." Put mud, water, blood, and decay in in the blender and press "churn." Yummy Katrina art smoothie. 

"The aesthetics of Men in Shorts is a little different when it is carbon fiber and aluminum on display, don't you think?"

The Elder tweaks me on a subject I did not raise in my post about the MWAGA tournament. He also says:
Thank you, Ann, for your kind words and for the two of you spending the weekend at the tournament. 
Thanks for the kind words from other Commenters. By this age, we have all encountered some pain and loss in our lives. It's just more visible for some of us.
And more visible in shorts for "the leg guys." That term in quotes is used by The Elder, who presumably considers himself himself one of "the arm guys." (Yesterday, I heard the terms "amps" and "normies.")

My "Men in Shorts" opinion always contained exceptions. My original post made "a small exception for certain sports, or if you are staying at home or in your own yard." I've made some other exceptions over the years — such as "winter vigor" and "hot enough" (either in temperature — over 85° — or what this guy is). So, sure, an exception for "the leg guys." And an exception for "the arm guys" who golfed with them, who had great legs of the fleshly variety.


"By this age, we have all encountered some pain and loss in our lives. It's just more visible for some of us." Yes, there are those of us who've lost parts of our character, our honesty, our respect and love for others, and our joy in living. That shows too, but it is harder to see. And there's no skimpy garment that makes it any easier.

September 12, 2010

"Help! Stop! Listen to me! You're in danger! Please!"

This impossibly vivid ending of the original 1956 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." We'll never forget the amazing performance of Kevin McCarthy, who is dead now, at age 96.

"You're next! You're next! You're next!"

The last 2 days, we walked a golf course in northern Illinois as tournament spectators.

The PGA playoff event was at the Cog Hill Country Club in Lemont, Illinois, but we were 33 miles away at the Pheasant Run Golf Course in St. Charles, Illinois. As you may know, I don't play golf. I've never played, but I have a nephew on the PGA Tour, and I've blogged a few times about walking the course as a spectator following him. (Click the "golf" tag and scroll to find those old posts.)

But this weekend, we were following another family member, someone who occasionally comments here under the name "The Elder." It was the Midwestern Amputee Regional Championship. You can see The Elder teeing off in the top photo.



And he won the tournament. So, congratulations to The Elder.

It was a bit different from a PGA event. For one thing, I was able to take photographs (not that I took more than a handful). And the players had golf carts to ride. The Elder elected to walk the course, however, which is what the PGA tour players do. The PGA players have caddies who carry their bags, but The Elder not only walked the course, he carried his bag. Why? "Because I can."

ADDED: The Elder comments, and I make a new post about that.

Isn't Camille Paglia afraid of sounding geezerly?

Even as she led the way in Madonna appreciation, Paglia was behind the curve in lavishing attention on Lady Gaga. What to do? Go negative:
Gaga's fans are marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty. Borderlines have been blurred between public and private: reality TV shows multiply, cell phone conversations blare everywhere; secrets are heedlessly blabbed on Facebook and Twitter. Hence, Gaga gratuitously natters on about her vagina…
Negative about Gaga and modern life in general. These kids today. Get off my lawn.

Sunrise from the 12th floor.





UPDATE: This explains where we were and what we were up to this weekend.

"Kentucky man cracks, kills wife and four others over improperly cooked eggs."

Is that a properly written headline about improperly cooked eggs? 6 people are dead... Should you write "cracks... eggs"?

And am I a bad person for wanting the detail — it's not in the article — of exactly how the eggs were cooked? Were they overdone? Underdone? Scrambled instead of over-easy? Over easy? Over hard.

Asking to be insulted and getting it.

I just ran across this passage written by David Rakoff, in an essay — from this book — about Paris fashion shows:
All of the designers I have met up to this point have been very nice, although upon being introduced to Karl Lagerfeld, he looks me up and down and dismisses me with the not super-kind, “What can you write that hasn’t been written already?”

He’s absolutely right, I have no idea. I can but try. The only thing I can come up with at that moment is that Lagerfeld’s powdered white ponytail has dusted the shoulders of his suit with what looks like dandruff but isn’t. Also, not yet having undergone his alarming weight loss, seated on a tiny velvet chair, with his large doughy rump dominating the miniature piece of furniture like a loose, flabby, ass-flavored muffin over-risen from its pan, he resembles a Daumier caricature of some corpulent, overfed, inhumane oligarch drawn sitting on a commode, stuffing his greedy throat with the corpses of dead children, while from his other end he shits out huge, malodorous piles of tainted money. How’s that for new and groundbreaking, Mr. L.?

"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee..."

"... to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years."

"How did the first president of color become so colorless?"

Asks Maureen Dowd:
The president is everywhere, trying to get more aggressive and recapture some of his “Yes we can” mojo in an effort to fend off the rebuke that’s barreling toward him from voters this fall.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

Whew! Nina Paley is really freaky!