November 20, 2010

I talk to Jacob Weisberg about his book "Palinisms."

Why "Palinisms" after his famous "Bushisms" — why not "Obamisms"? And many other questions:

If you'd like to buy the book, go here.

ADDED: If you need the pause button or other controls, watch the video here.

Daniel Day-Lewis will play Lincoln in a Spielberg movie.

Great choice!

ADDED: From the article (as noted in the comments by John):
Spielberg just committed to Robopocalypse, but it looks like Lincoln will be shot first.
Lincoln will be shot first!

A mathematical walk.

The Fibonacci chimes at the new Morgridge Center here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Some nerdy graffiti near the math buildings:


The courtyard at Sterling Hall:


Van Vleck:


The "Reform and Revolt" plaque:


You can read the plaque here.

TSA bumper stickers.

I don't know there original source for this, but it's going around in email:

I'm searching for video of Janet Napolitano doing a decent job of explaining the new TSA procedures.

I'm working on the thesis that such video does not exist. Please disprove it if you can. I came up with this video, which is interesting for a lot of reasons. Napolitano appears at 1:22 and is laughably unconvincing:

(Most of the video is about San Mateo County's Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe threatening to prosecute for sexual assault. Love the name "Wagstaffe" in this context.)

"How Bad Are Bananas?"

"The Carbon Footprint of Everything."

Oh, the carbon footprint... What a diverse range of possibilities ran through my head when I saw the question "How Bad Are Bananas?" And how dreary the reality: The carbon footprint. Of everything.

A Madison liberal struggles to understand the 2010 elections and runs to the classic liberal explanation: The people are stupid.

Bill Lueders's Isthmus article is subtitled "The Triumph of Stupidity." He asks UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin how people could vote the way they did, and when Franklin answers "They're pretty damn stupid," he says "Thank you, professor... That's the answer I was looking for."
Frankly, it's an answer embraced by many people I know. One of my Isthmus colleagues sent me a study showing that Dane County, which bucked the trends on Election Day, is by far the most educated county in the state. "When conservatives cut support for education," she mused, "they do so to keep people dumb and their own interests in power."
Welcome to my world: Dane County, Wisconsin, home of people who tell themselves they are the smart people and those who disagree with them must certainly be dumb. They don't go through the exercise of putting themselves in the place of someone who thinks differently from the way they do. But how would it feel to be intelligent, informed, and well-meaning and to think what conservatives think? Isn't that the right way for an intelligent, informed, and well-meaning person to understand other people? If you short circuit that process and go right to the assumption that people who don't agree with you are stupid, how do you maintain the belief that you are, in fact, intelligent, informed, and well-meaning?

What is liberal about this attitude toward other people? You wallow in self-love, and what is it you love yourself for? For wanting to shower benefits on people... that you have nothing but contempt for.

IN THE COMMENTS: Prof. Franklin responds. I front-page his comment here.

Sex and the UW student.

Biochemistry student Charlie Gorichanaz conducted a fairly extensive survey of University of Wisconsin-Madison students. He got 3,190 responses (after emailing surveys to 38,812 students). There's lots of background on the methodology and many details and charts at the link. I'll just highlight a few things that seemed particularly interesting to me:
Gender preferences

Students were asked separately to which genders they are sexually and emotionally attracted....

Sexual attraction: Males were more likely to characterize their sexual attractions at the extreme ends of the spectrum. About 81.6 percent of males said they are completely straight with no exceptions, compared to 68.1 percent of females. Surprisingly, males were more than seven times as likely as females to say they are completely gay, with 3.1 percent versus 0.4 percent. Females were more than twice as likely as males to be at least somewhat bisexual, with 30.9 percent of females and 14.4 percent of males ranking somewhere between totally straight and totally gay. For sexual attraction, 17.5 percent of males said they were at least sometimes attracted to males, and 31.4 percent of females said they were at least sometimes attracted to females....

Emotional attraction: Females were a little more likely to be emotionally rather than sexually attracted to either gender at times, and males were more than twice as likely to be at times attracted to both genders emotionally. For emotional attraction, 37.4 percent of males said they were at least sometimes attracted to males, and 40.9 percent of females said they were at least sometimes attracted to females....
Here's a chart. [Chart #6.] I'm amused at the expression "at least two thirds straight." Time for some new slang!

There are some interesting questions about what students think is "wrong" — as summarized in these pie charts.  For example, is it wrong to have sex when you're not cheating on anyone but the other person is?
... 63.3 percent of respondents said it is wrong to take part in sexual acts with someone you know to be in a monogamous relationship, 24.8 percent said it is too complicated to answer and 2.2 percent were not sure. That leaves 9.7 percent who said being a party to someone else’s cheating is not wrong.
I'm impressed by how many people think this is wrong. But we're not surveying them at the point when they are making a decision whether or  not to do something they are intensely in the mood to do. I imagine human self-deception is at its height over this particular point of morality. But, at least, coolly examined, a big majority knows it's just wrong. The 24.8% "It's complicated" group deserve some credit for honesty. It gets exquisitely complicated when you're looking to justify your own behavior. But it's good to get the clear reading: It's wrong! ... Isn't it? What if.... It's wrong!

Why did the NYC cops single out this woman?

Too many excessively cute doggies?

"A Chemist Explains Why Gold Beat Out Lithium, Osmium, Einsteinium."

It had to be gold.

"When October came, I thought, gee, you know, what's going to happen at Thanksgiving?"

"So I just thought, well, there must be some other people that are in the same boat. Why should they have that rotten feeling? Why should they be stuck home alone?"

What do you do when you see Thanksgiving looming ahead and no one has included you in their plans?

"Voting is a pleasure" ad, depicting female voter experiencing sexual pleasure, is criticized as "misleading" and an "attack on the dignity of women."

It's a socialist ad — in Spain — and the critics are conservative.

Geoffrey Dunn Slams Sarah Palin in Racially Charged Article at Huffington Post.

Did that catch your eye? Maybe not, since the name Geoffrey Dunn probably doesn't mean much to you,* but the title of his article caught mine: "Sarah Palin Slams Michelle Obama in Racially Charged Passage From New Book." Oh? Did Sarah Palin — and her editors — lose their minds and wield anti-black epithets and stereotypes against the First Lady? No, of course not. Here's what Dunn wrote:
In passages leaked from her forthcoming book America by Heart, Sarah Palin... has taken another cheap shot at First Lady Michelle Obama.
That link goes to another HuffPo post by Dunn claiming it was a "cheap shot" for Palin to refer to "people" saying "they've never been proud of America." Back to the new Dunn item:
In a passage on perceptions of racial inequality in the United States, Palin slams President Barack Obama, who, she asserts, "seems to believe" that "America -- at least America as it currently exists -- is a fundamentally unjust and unequal country."

And then she goes after Michelle Obama:
Certainly his wife expressed this view when she said during the 2008 campaign that she had never felt proud of her country until her husband started winning elections. In retrospect, I guess this shouldn't surprise us, since both of them spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church listening to his rants against America and white people.
That's it?! Palin had the audacity to remind us about Jeremiah Wright's highly racial tirades? She doesn't even call Wright racist! She refers to the statements he made "against... white people." That's an astoundingly tame reference to the outrageously inflammatory sermons by Wright that surfaced during the 2008 campaign and amazingly didn't sink the Obama candidacy. Watch the video at that link. Wright is yelling at the congregation to reject Hillary Clinton because she's white.

Shamefully lame, Mr. Dunn. Even as an effort to prop up President Obama, it's lame. Do you think it benefits him for us to go back to Jeremiah Wright?

* Don't you know Geoffrey Dunn is an "[a]ward-winning journalist, filmmaker and historian"? That's what it says at the post.  According to his bio:
Dunn has produced and directed more than a dozen award-winning documentary films, including Dollar a Day, 10¢ a Dance: A Historic Portrait of Filipino Farm Workers in America; Miss…or Myth?; and the recently completed Calypso Dreams.
Oh, that Geoffrey Dunn. Not to be confused with Griffin Dunne (who was so cool in "After Hours") or the Geoffrey Dunn who was born in 1903 and played the part of Mr. Lunnis in "The Leather Boys."

November 19, 2010

The (possible) return of incandescent light bulbs.

Politico reports:
... Rep. Fred Upton is promising to reexamine a controversial ban on incandescent light bulbs if he becomes chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Michigan Republican told POLITICO on Thursday that he's not afraid to go back after an issue he once supported but that has come under withering assault on the conservative airwaves, including on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck's talk shows.
It's not just a right-wing thing. It has to do with beauty, freedom, and the psychological well-being of individuals who are sensitive to the quality of light. I've been stockpiling incandescent light bulbs, because I don't want to live with the ugliness of fluorescents. I've been disgusted that politicians who think such things don't matter. They lack perception of some aspects of life and yet they think it's acceptable to make decision about these things. Apparently, we're not supposed to have any feeling about the things they lack feeling about.

TSA agent: "What is this?" American citizen: "It's my prosthesis because I've had breast cancer."

TSA agent: "Well, you'll need to show me that."

Late afternoon on the prairie.


 But we're not out in the middle of nowhere. Civilization is just at hand:


Quite lovely, I think!

"Pro-choicers think this is a scam against them."

"Now, while pro-lifers are becoming incensed and begging the couple not to abort, pro-choicers are becoming incensed and wanting the couple to be shot. Reading more closely what the couple writes, I've come to agree this is a pro-life stunt. A pro-choicer, unless a real sicko, would not go into this sort of detail about the 16-week development of the baby she may abort..."

Yes, obviously it's a stunt. I'm amazed that bloggers are willing to drive traffic to such things....

World Toilet Day is today... and it's no joke.

"Haiti is in the throes of a cholera epidemic. The disease is easily treated, and can be prevented outright if people have access to good sanitation and purified water, health experts say. But the country, debilitated by the earthquake, poverty and hurricanes, lacks access to clean water, toilets or health care. Lack of sanitation is the leading cause of infection in the world...."

This reminds me of a passage in the truly engrossing Bill Bryson book "At Home: A Short History of Private Life," describing the sanitary conditions in England in the 19th century:
[C]esspits in poorer districts were seldom emptied and frequently overflowed... In St. Giles... 54,000 people crowded into just a few streets. By one count, 1100 people lived in 27 houses along one alley; that is more than 40 people per dwelling. In Spitalfields, farther east, inspectors found 63 people living in a single house. The house had 9 beds — one for every 7 occupants....

Such masses of humanity naturally produced enormous volumes of waste — far more than any system of cesspits could cope with. In one fairly typical report an inspector recorded visiting 2 houses in St. Giles where the cellars were filled with human waste to a depth of 3 feet. Outside the inspector continued, the yard was 6 inches deep in excrement. Bricks had been stacked like stepping-stones to let the occupants cross the yard.

At Leeds in the 1830s, a survey of the poorer districts found that many streets were "floating with sewage"; one street, housing 176 families, had not been cleaned for 15 years. In Liverpool, as many as one-sixth of the populace lived in dark cellars, where wastes could all too easily seep in.

"The last thing Wisconsin needed was another rich guy to serve as fodder for the Feingold political machine. Just who did this thin-faced, white-haired guy think he was?"

Christian Schneider, of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, has a long, juicy article about Ron Johnson:
In early April of 2010, Michelle Litjens, the chairwoman of the Winnebago Republican Party, found some local guy that was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate.   She brought him down to a meeting of a handful of conservative operatives in Madison.  He didn’t even know he was supposed to speak at this meeting, and patched together a few talking points in the car on the way down.

When Litjens introduced businessman Ron Johnson to the group, people rolled their eyes and checked their watches as he ambled through his reasons for running.  There were already a few people thinking about running for senate, and even Wisconsin political legend Tommy Thompson was considering getting in the race.  The last thing Wisconsin needed was another rich guy to serve as fodder for the Feingold political machine.  Just who did this thin-faced, white-haired guy think he was?

Six months later, everyone found out who he was.  He was Ron Johnson, Republican Senator from Wisconsin.
That's the very end of the article. The "thin-faced" business refers back to this:
In his remote cubicle, [36-year old deputy campaign manager Jack] Jablonski is holding court with the other staffers, detailing a study he read that could bode well for RonJon.  Apparently, some political scientists have determined that voters are more likely to support the candidate with the narrower face.  It makes them look more trustworthy, or something.  These researchers actually used Feingold’s 2004 race against construction company owner Tim Michels to prove their point – Feingold’s face was narrower that Michels’ giant meaty head, so study respondents correctly picked Feingold as the winner by overwhelming margins.

“Ron’s face is even narrower than Feingold’s” Jablonski points out.  “Let’s all just go home – it’s a done deal,” he jokes.
I'd forgotten about the hopes that were pinned on Thompson. You may remember that I attended the Tea Party rally at the Capitol where Thompson announced that he wouldn't run. Leaking the news the day before, Firedoglake wrote:
[T]here was really only one Republican lurking out there who would have given Russ Feingold a tough race. In this case it was Tommy Thompson... [His decision not to run] all but assures that Feingold will be able to win re-election; the two candidates currently in the race against him are running well behind....

How about a little empathy for the people who work for the TSA?

How would you like it if your job suddenly changed to requiring you to feel people up all day long? And everyone started to hate you? And it seemed as though maybe you could be accused of committing crimes — thousands of crimes — including the molestation of children?

Well, how would you like it?
I'd hate it, and I would sacrifice my livelihood and quit.
I'd hate it, but I wouldn't quit because these are hard times and you don't walk away from a job.
I'd bring my mind into alignment with the government mission and soldier on.
I'd find a way to see the work as challenging and fun and do it with energy and good cheer.
I'd get a sexual thrill from the power trip of feeling up people who are compelled to submit. free polls

Who's getting rich selling those see-you-naked TSA body scanners?

As noted in the previous post, I want to follow the money. Let's start with this article in The Examiner. It lists these "research results":
  • In 2008, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff authored a 38 page report warning of terrorists exploiting our security deficiencies – including air travel.
  • On Christmas Day 2009, just before the “attempted bombing incident” on board flight 253, there were a total of 40 body scanners in use in 19 airports in the U.S.
  • On Christmas Day 2009, numerous witnesses watched while Abdulmutallab, the supposed 'terrorist' was escorted TO the plane by several men in suits.
  • After the 'bombing attempt' Chertoff made a flurry of media appearances suggesting that the “attempted bombing incident” could have been avoided if all airports were using full body scanners.
  • The Washington Post printed an article on January 1, 2010, calling Chertoff out for using his government credentials to promote a product that benefits his clients. It was revealed that Rapiscan Systems, the manufacturer of the naked body scanner Chertoff was recommending, was a client of Chertoff's security consulting agency.
  • Rapiscan has since received over $250 million in scanner orders.
Abdulmutallab, the supposed 'terrorist'... Oh, lord. That's too conspiracy-theory for  me. And the Washington Post story from last January is behind a pay-wall now. There's this time line at Firedoglake:
  • 2005: Michael Chertoff, as head of Homeland Security, orders the first batch of porno scanners from a company called Rapiscan Systems. After his departure, Chertoff gave dozens of interviews using his government credentials to promote the device. What he didn’t tell people was that Rapiscan was one of the clients of his consulting company, The Chertoff group.
  • March 2009: The Department of Homeland Security says they will apply $1 billion in stimulus money to the nation’s airports. Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, personally promises to oversee the distribution of stimulus funds so money goes toward the goal of creating “4 million jobs” and not on “boondoggles”
  • December 2009: Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz inserted language into the Homeland Security appropriations bill barring the use of full-body image scans as “primary” screening tools at airports, and it passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 310-118. Both the ACLU and the NRA backed it. The amendment also made it illegal to store and copy these images. It died in the Senate.
  • December 25, 2009: The “Christmas bomber” attempts to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board a flight to Detroit.
  • December 29, 2009: Joe Lieberman calls for “more widespread use of the full-body scanners after the aborted attack.”
  • January 2010: Since they couldn’t get money for the porno scanners from Congress, TSA uses the “Christmas bomber” scare to appropriate $25 million they had received in stimulus money to buy the “backscatter” scanners — from Rapiscan, Chertoff’s client. Rapiscan said the contract “helped create” 25 jobs. The government gives the TSA the green light to spend a total of $173 million on the scanners. TSA spokesperson Sarah Horowitz said “the agency has enough funds that would come from the stimulus program and other federal sources” to purchase 300 more porno scanners, per CNN. Total jobs created, per the government’s own website: 1.
  • April 2010: The GAO reports that “it remains unclear whether the AIT would have detected the weapon used in the December 2009 incident based on the preliminary information GAO has received.”
  • November 8, 2010: US Airline Pilots Association tells its members “NOT to submit to AIT screenings.”
  • November 15, 2010: Joe Lieberman says he “comes down on the side of the patdowns.”
The boldfacing is mine, but go to the link for the internal links in that text.
So the “groping” technique was developed as a way to punish people into using the scanners — because there are $148 million more on the way. And just so nobody gets the idea to follow Tyner’s lead, the TSA is using threats and intimidation to guarantee the market for the porno scanners. Whether Tyner is prosecuted or not, people will hear about what happened to him and think twice before refusing to become fodder for their new machines.

CORRECTION: I had the wrong link to the Examiner, which went to a website I didn't want to link to. Why is it so hard to find this information about the scanners?! I couldn't find anything recent in the NYT or the Washington Post.

"Don't touch my junk." It's the new "Don't Tread on Me."

Says Charles Krauthammer.
Don't touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter. Don't touch my junk, Obamacare - get out of my doctor's examining room, I'm wearing a paper-thin gown slit down the back. Don't touch my junk, Google - Street View is cool, but get off my street. Don't touch my junk, you airport security goon - my package belongs to no one but me....
Do you remember how the government presented this newly intensified bodily search? Why did the Obama administration — which I associate with opposition to enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorists — adopt enhanced pat-downs on ordinary citizens to protect us from terrorists? Was it done because of the introduction of the enhanced imagining scanners? I really don't know. Did the government explain this to us when I wasn't paying attention? Because I monitor the news for hours every day, and I don't know the explanation.

It seems to me that these 2 things happened together: new machines that see you naked and newly intense body searches. Am I wrong to believe that the new groping procedure was intended to get more people into the scanners they would otherwise resist? Someone, at some level of the Obama administration, decided that the only way to channel people into the see-you-naked machines was to make the alternative more offensive to nearly everyone. Personally, I'd take the grope over being seen naked, but I did a poll yesterday, and I see that the scanner is significantly more popular than the grope.  I suspect that was the calibration. And I suspect that if too many people choose the grope over nakedness, the plan is to intensify the grope until they get the scanner acceptance rate they need.

But why were the scanners introduced when they had to know people didn't want them? With healthcare reform, the Obama administration became associated with ramming things down our throats. The government knows what we should want and doesn't bother to find out what we do want or even to persuade us to want what they think we should. The scanners are the ultimate graphic example of forcing something on us without asking. We're only asked: Well, would you prefer to have us feeling all around your genitals? That's the kind of consent of the governed we're facing these days.

But why push the scanners on us? Do you remember hearing Obama or Janet Napolitano or anyone say anything persuasive about why these machines were bought? (Suddenly, I want to follow the money. For that, I will  move to a new post.)

(In my unscientific poll, 73%  of those who would keep flying, picked the scanner over the grope. I suspect the government needs a better acceptance rate than that to keep the lines flowing and justify the investment in the machines. But most of those of us who picked the grope haven't been groped yet, and if being seen naked becomes the norm, more of us may fall into that brain-dulled line that shuffles into the machine.)

A thought experiment on intelligence and the presidency.

A hypothetical: The next President of the United States will be chosen from the group of individuals with whom you have worked in your field — your colleagues/co-workers. (I'm especially interested in hearing from law professors!) Assume there is a method that allows these individuals to be ranked from most intelligent to least intelligent. You cannot look at this list, but you are assured that the ranking is accurate. The President will be chosen randomly from one segment of this list, and you have been given the power to choose a segment constituting 10% of the individuals on the list. That 10% will be the pool for what will be a random drawing. What do you choose? The top 10%?

November 18, 2010

Prairie sunset.



"'I don’t know how much longer I have to live,' said Mr. Rangel, 80, his eyes watery and his voice quivering."

The octogenarian faces censure.

At the Curly Light Café...


... we can drive into the night.

Moonrise on the prairie.


"Adam Liptak has a somewhat puzzling critique of Supreme Court opinions in the New York Times..."

Says Orin Kerr, taking it all very seriously.

Cher is awesomely old.

Who are you?

"In this anti-establishment year, Ron Johnson is perhaps the only member of his freshman Republican Senate class who can truly lay claim to the Washington outsider label."

"Wisconsin’s newly elected senator has never served in public office. He didn’t benefit from family political connections, as did Rand Paul of Kentucky or Mike Lee of Utah. He funded most of his campaign with his personal fortune, keeping special interests at bay."

A worthy successor to our much-loved Senator Feingold.

Are you going to stop flying?

Megan McArdle is.

What will you do?
I'll continue, as usual, and accept the scanners seeing me naked.
I'll continue, as usual, and opt for the grope.
I'll cut back, and when I fly, accept the scanners seeing me naked.
I'll cut back, and when I fly, opt for the grope.
I'm quitting flying. free polls

Only 51% of Americans say Obama's religious beliefs are different from their own.

I'd say that's an amazingly low number. And yet Politico frets that this will make it hard for him to "reconnect" with us. We live in a pluralistic society. What does it matter how close a politician's religious beliefs are to our own? But assuming it does, it's impressive that so many American's feel that they more or less share Obama's religious faith (whatever it is):
The post-election survey by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute offers a glimpse into the challenge facing Obama as he tries to reconnect with those voters who have soured on him: 51 percent say his religious beliefs are different while 40 percent say he shares similar views.

And there’s a strong overlap between those who think he holds different religious views and those who disapprove of him. Only a fifth of Democrats say his religious beliefs are different from their own while 78 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents say so.
This is more of a test of whether we generally like Obama or not. What does "similar" even mean? If you like him and you believe in God and think he probably does too, you'll say his beliefs are similar. If you don't like him and think he's not a sufficiently avid churchgoer you'll say he's not.

At the Thorax Café...


... it's a theme day today.

Abstinence... "It has the word ‘abs’ in it."

Bristol Palin and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino do a pregnancy-avoidance ad.

From her new book "America by Heart," Sarah Palin denounces the powerful media folk who exploit young people.

Young people who go on "American Idol":
“On American Idol, of course, these self-esteem-enhanced but talent deprived performers eventually learn the truth. After they've embarrassed themselves for the benefit of the producers, they are told in no uncertain terms that they, in fact, can't sing, regardless of what they have been told by others.”

She goes on to argue that someone should tell those without musical talent who audition for “Idol” that they need to work on their ear-piercingly bad voices before trying out for the show. “Instead, a growing chorus of voices is trying to convince our kids that hard work isn't necessary anymore,” Palin writes.
And flawed, naive Levi Johnston:
"Of course, we all had to bite our tongues - more than once - as Tripp's father went on a media tour through Hollywood and New York, spreading untruths and exaggerated rhetoric. It was disgusting to watch as his fifteen minutes of fame were exploited by supposed adults taking advantage of a lost kid. But we knew him well enough to see how confused he was during that time, and our hearts broke for him and the price he would pay."


If you're going to buy Sarah's new book, please use this link (and make a cost-free contribution to this blog).

How is it a crime to lie to a woman and thereby obtain her consent to have her breasts touched?

I don't understand this:
Police in Idaho have arrested a woman who impersonated a plastic surgeon so she could carry out breast exams to random strangers....

The victims said they believed [Kristina] Ross because she used medical vocabulary.

She said Ross even gave them a phone number to an actual plastic surgeon's office in order for them to make follow-up appointments.
Ross is charged with a felony — "practising medicine without a licence." Oh, blech, it's the Daily Mail. Why do I keep reading that lurid trash! The charge is practicing medicine without a license. Oh, what bullshit. She wasn't practicing medicine. She was lying to ladies in a bar.

The Daily Mail also makes a big deal out of the fact that Ross's "gender category" is "male to female."

"Mark Twain had a very tender heart."

"He liked to say nasty things – he's really good at it – but he didn't like the idea of being there when the person heard them, and was hurt by them!"

An interesting definition of a tender heart!


Please use this link if you want to buy Mark Twain's autobiography.

"American justice can be rendered calmly, deliberately and fairly by ordinary people..."

"... people who are not beholden to any government, not even ours. It can be rendered with fidelity to the Constitution. You have a right to be proud of your service in this case."

Judge Lewis Kaplan speaks words of inspiration to the jury that acquitted Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani of 284 of 285 criminal charges relating to the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa.

"I'd be dripping with sweat before every shift, I was so nervous and scared about people's reactions..."

"... but at the same time I met so many nice people who were genuinely interested in me and my face."

"In a major turnabout, Madison and Overture Center representatives are now discussing private — rather than city — ownership of the arts facility as part of a path to erase Overture's $28.6 million debt."

Well, well, well. The climate changes. Even here in Madison, Wisconsin:
City Council President Mark Clear on Wednesday sent a memo to council colleagues saying he now believes the city should not acquire Overture and that Overture representatives are willing to consider private ownership of the $205 million building.

That's a huge shift from a June 22 deal among Overture officials, banks and donors to eliminate the $28.6 million debt — including $15 million pledged by donors — which required that the city buy the arts center on State Street for $1 by year's end.
The Overture Center...

Overture Center

... is an over-expensive, over-glamorous monument to the over-sized opinion elite Madisonians have of themselves... and of the humble citizens' appetite for The Arts.

"A vote of not much confidence in Nancy Pelosi."

Dana Milbank highlights the negativity:
The first rebuke of Pelosi by her colleagues came Tuesday, when Democratic dissidents forced a six-hour caucus meeting to vent their frustrations. The next blow came Wednesday, when the dissidents forced a secret ballot on whether to postpone a vote on Pelosi - and then won a larger-than-expected 68 votes. That essentially meant a vote of no-confidence in Pelosi by 35 percent of the incoming Democratic caucus.

And in yet another rebuke of the fallen speaker, 43 Democrats voted for her symbolic challenger, moderate Heath Shuler (N.C.) - even though few regarded Shuler as a qualified candidate and only a couple dozen of Shuler's colleagues in the moderate Blue Dog Coalition could vote....

[A]s the closed-door session dragged on, the soon-to-be-minority lawmakers grew restless. Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.), taking a break from the proceedings, told reporters that his colleagues were delayed because "they're having trouble spelling 'Murkowski' "...

The face of the Democratic Party puts on a brave face:

"They know her will! Most important, they know her heart! And that was what was felt today: the heartfelt feeling of this caucus behind this great leader!"

I love that quote, from Rep. John Larson. Will, I mean HEART. Heart! Heart! Heart! That's so deeply symbolic of everything the House Democrats have been up to these last few years.

"I would take her on. I like her, but I'd take her on" — says Donald Trump, about Sarah Palin.

IN THE COMMENTS: Irene answers my question: "The fact that we elected The Apprentice?"

Paul Zrimsek observes that "Trump" sounds like a name one of the Palin females would give to a baby boy.

UPDATE: Years later, Trump in fact runs for President and I return to this post but find that the link (to Politico) has — in what feels like a metaphor — gone crazy. Via the Wayback Machine, here's the article:
Does Donald Trump want to offer his trademark “You’re fired” line to President Obama?

The business magnate and host of "The Apprentice" says he's once again thinking about throwing his hat in the ring and running for president.

"I am thinking about things. And I'm looking at this country ... and what's happened in terms of respect, and the respect for this country is just not there," Trump tells ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos.

"I have many people from China that I do business with, they laugh at us. They feel we're fools. And almost being led by fools. And they can't believe what they're getting away with.”

Trump added that if "the country continues to be taken advantage of by the world," and his poll numbers are there, he would get in the race as a Republican.

As for potential challenger Sarah Palin, Trump says, "She's very interesting. And don't underestimate her."

The former Alaska governor wouldn’t deter him, though. "I would take her on. I like her, but I'd take her on," he said.

63% of Americans define the term "family" to include a gay couple living with at least one child.

According to a new Pew survey.

When I read that I thought...
I'm surprised so many people think that.
I'm surprised so few people think that.
Sounds about right. free polls

"Airport staff 'exposed woman's breasts, laughed.'"

Here come the lawsuits, riding on a wave of public emotion and credulity.

"President Barack Obama took steps on Wednesday to force a Senate vote on legislation that would begin to dismantle the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy..."

"... banning openly gay service members during the ongoing lame-duck legislative session, hosting a second White House strategy session with gay rights advocates and personally lobbying a key lawmaker who favors repeal of the ban."

I been worrying about the mischief the Democrats might make in the lame-duck session, but if this is the one they choose, I will be happy.

"There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book," says Patti Smith, winning the National Book Award.

Last night, in the nonfiction category, for her memoir "Just Kids" about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe:
Accepting the award to applause and cheers, Ms. Smith — clearly the favorite of the night — choked up as she recalled her days as a clerk in the Scribner bookstore as a young woman.

“I dreamed of having a book of my own, of writing one that I could put on a shelf,” she said. “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.”
Congratulations to Patti Smith. She's a longtime favorite of mine.

I used to hang out in bookstores and buy piles of books. Nowadays, I hang out of the internet, and though I read many, many hours a day, it's mostly on the computer screen. When I've had enough screen time, I like to listen to audiobooks. There are 27 audiobooks in my iPhone at the moment. But I do occasionally choose to have my reading in old-fashioned book form. This year, of the few books I bought, one was "Just Kids."

I'm not really into the romanticism of the physical object that is the book. I think the internet is more beautiful than a book. But is the internet "in our material world"?

November 17, 2010

At the Moonrise Café...


... you can talk all night.

"The first former Guantánamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court was acquitted on Wednesday..."

"... of all but one of more than 280 charges of conspiracy and murder in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The case has been seen as a test of President Obama’s goal of trying detainees in federal court whenever feasible, and the result may again fuel debate over whether civilian courts are appropriate for trying terrorists."


"People who do not believe in God are actually kinder, gentler people."

Says an atheist minister here in Madison — Jane Esbensen, of the Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society. 
Esbensen has found acceptance among fellow Unitarians, where humanists are a known quantity. But people from other faiths, when they learn she's an atheist, are often "a little puzzled and concerned." Most tragically, when she became a minister she lost her best friend, who felt this was not an appropriate role for a nonbeliever.

"That is so arrogant," clucks Esbensen. "There can be a lot of arrogance attached to people who believe in God."
There are people on both sides of the God line who are arrogant and who are kind and gentle. I think it's best not to stereotype.

As for whether atheists can be good ministers, I'm sure they can. The question is: Should they admit they are atheists? Surely, there must be many, many religious leaders who, in their hearts, are atheists.

Neil Young's hybrid car emits some serious carbon.

It bursts into flames and destroys a million dollars worth of his memorabilia.

This is like that story about the reusable shopping bags that turn out to contain lead. You try so hard to do what's right and that's the very thing that takes you into the wrong.

"'I am,' Sarah Palin told me the next day when I asked her if she was already weighing a run for president."

Here's the big NYT Magazine article by Robert Draper.
“I’m engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here.” Palin went on to say that there weren’t meaningful differences in policy among the field of G.O.P. hopefuls “but that in fact there’s more to the presidency than that” and that her decision would involve evaluating whether she could bring unique qualities to the table....

[D]idn’t she believe that the Republican establishment’s predominant worry was that she would lose to Obama? “Then perhaps they should vent some of their paranoia toward all of the potential G.O.P. candidates,” she said. “Because obviously there’s no guarantee that any one of us would win. But I do believe that much of this is a threat to their hierarchy, because I’ve never shied away from a battle and because I’ll put principle before politics.”

In a sense, Palin views Beltway Republicans as she does the Obama administration: aloof, self-interested and vulnerable to the populist power that she believes she wields. “They’re in an isolated bubble — Barack Obama mentioned that in his press conference, and I agree with him, he is isolated from what average Americans are talking about,” she said, referring to the president’s words after the midterm elections. “But what he was meaning, of course, was that he’s not in touch with average Americans. I am — because that’s who I am. That’s who surrounds me, common-sense Americans who just want government on their side, not riding their backs. And I tweet to reach out to them.”
Much more at the link.

As Bristol Palin makes the DWTS finals, the anti-Palin forces say look over here: It's Willow Palin's "homophobic rant."

The 16-year-old Palin was hanging out on Facebook:
Willow's target, a person named Tre who goes to school with the Palin kids, wrote a status update on the night of the show's premiere, which read "Sarah Palin's Alaska is failing so hard right now."

Willow quipped back, "Haha your so gay. I have no idea who you are, But what I've seen pictures of, your disgusting ... My sister had a kid and is still hot," referring to her 20-year-old sibling, Bristol.

She later added, "Tre stfu. You such a f*ggot," and "I'm sticking up for my family," TMZ reported.

Bristol then came to her family's defense, writing to Tre, "You're running your mouth just to talk sh*t."
Do decent people read a 16-year-old girl's Facebook page? But we've read it, so let's at least be decent enough to be fair to teenagers. It's common and casual speech to use the words "gay" and "faggot" like that. It upsets upright people, and it would better if the kids didn't do it — or so it seems, as we look down on the young from our lofty adulthood.

We might say that anyone who cares about gay people should strike those words from their vocabulary. But not everyone who hasn't already laundered their speech of those offensive words is "homophobic." (And not everyone who has, isn't.) You're "homophobic" if you actually feel antagonism toward gay people. There's absolutely zero indication that Willow has any negativity at all toward gay people. She's just pissed at Tre and talking like a teenager (or a "South Park" character). To tar her as homophobic is like saying if you call someone an "idiot," you hate persons with Down Syndrome.

So leave Willow alone, you creeps. And in saying "creeps," I mean no antagonism toward arthropods.

If we should be talking about the Palin kids at all today, we should be talking about Bristol. A complete underdog, Bristol Palin made it to the finals of "Dancing With the Stars." She had no experience as a performer, certainly not as a dancer, and it's incredible that she kept going at all, as the judges and others either tore her down or — when they saw the votes flowing in? — were modestly supportive. Week after week, she landed at the bottom of the judges' scores, but she made it up time and again as regular people called in enough votes to overcome the disadvantage the judges had imposed.

This week, the people bumped her ahead of the judges' darling Brandy:
Last night, Bristol Palin made the finals of Dancing with the Stars, and I think nobody was more shocked than Brandy, who got eliminated. Brandy was so shocked she didn’t even congratulate Bristol! Brandy really wanted that spot; in face earlier in the show, they had shown us a video tape of her saying how much she wants it, and that she “humbly” thinks she deserves it. Most people would agree with her, but Bristol beat her out anyway.

So whatever the reason: Tea Party Conspiracy, Brandy’s arrogance, Bristol getting all the teen votes, Bristol working her “butt off,” or Mark Ballas’ incredibly good teaching…the question remains: Can Bristol win DWTS season 11?
Maybe she will! Congratulations to the shy, unassuming teenager who didn't particularly ask to be thrust into the spotlight 2 years ago, who went through an accidental pregnancy in front of millions of people (many of whom didn't mind insulting her in any manner they found amusing), who didn't hide herself away in shame, and who tried, again, in front of all of us, to dance. How many of the people who snipe at her, are too big of a pussy to dance anywhere, including on crowded dance floor at a local club?

Yeah, I said "pussy." Does that make me a misogynist?

November 16, 2010

"In Defense of Going to Law School: A Prudential Perspective."

Ahem. Love the picture!

Sunset on the University Ridge leg of the Ice Age Trail.



Right after "Yellow Submarine," he'll move on to "Wizard of Oz."

That would be Robert Zemeckis.

They'll use the original script of "Wizard of Oz," so what's the point? Better scenery and special effects. More realistic characters? Have Dorothy be a real child... but do we want a real Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man as opposed to guys in Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man costumes? Maybe just better Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man costumes? Eh... it's hard to picture. Warner Brothers wants to do it because they already own the script and they want to compete with Sam Raimi's Disney project "The Great and Powerful Oz."

"Bristol Palin’s dancing on TV set off man in standoff..."

In Black Earth, Wisconsin.
According to the [criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court], [Steven N. Cowan, 66] and his wife were watching “Dancing with the Stars” when Cowan jumped up and swore as Bristol Palin appeared, saying something about “the (expletive) politics.” Cowan was upset that a political figure’s daughter was on the show when he didn’t think she was a good dancer, the complaint states....

Cowan went upstairs for about 20 minutes and returned, demanding his pistols, which had been taken by his daughter about a month ago for safety reasons. He was carrying a single-shot shotgun, which he loaded and fired into the television...
UPDATE: Bristol makes it to the finals.

"If I hear one more of these overly loud yawns, get up and walk the hell out."

"You should be asking yourself: Why am I the one loser who has to do that and 220 other people know better?"

Via TaxProf, who says "Cornell Prof Goes Nuts After Student Yawns in Class."

Frankly, I don't think what this teacher (Mark Talbert) did is that bad. The student didn't just yawn, he yawned in an exaggerated, loud way that sounds like intentional disrespect. The teacher indicates that this has happened more than once. How dare one student disrupt a class — a large, serious class — for his personal amusement? 220 students are there, working hard, having paid big tuition, and one loser is appropriating their time and attention and knocking the professor off stride. It's not acceptable, and why doesn't the student know that? Why should a college professor have to give remedial etiquette lessons?

"Guantánamo Bay prisoners to get millions from British government."

"The payments will be controversial with some claiming the former prisoners are using the courts to extract cash from a British state they allegedly intended to destroy."

"Trying to sell a bag of his hair online to murderabilia buffs for $35."

"A dishwasher convicted of the serial rapes and slaughters of seven Springfield women is..."

"This is not a university if you only have one non-English European language program left standing."

Outcry from a French professor after SUNY Albany, in a budget crunch, says you can no longer major in French, Italian, Russian, classics, and theater. 

When is a university not a university?

"Rangel Convicted of 12 Ethics Violations."

"The convictions cast a cloud over the half-century political career of Mr. Rangel, an 80-year-old Democrat who was recently reelected to a 21st term representing Harlem and who was the longtime head of the House Ways and Means Committee."

The consequence of this conviction will be "a letter of reprimand or formal censure," not expulsion.

"Your name is Brian Mitchell, and you're attracted to young girls, and you're just a loser."

"... you're not going down as a servant of God. You're going down as a child rapist. You're going down as the lowest of the low.... I hate to tell you this, Brian, but the Rapture has not happened. You are still in this room. You cannot escape.... She gave you up. She thinks that you are a child rapist. She finds you rather smelly, and disgusting."

The police interrogation of the man who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart. His response:
"She was converted by the spirit of God.... The Lord God delivered her.... I'm just obedient to what God told me to do... I have only done what the Lord God almighty commanded me to do... You're asking me to speak about things which are sacred and holy and which I cannot talk about.... I thought she was 18. And she willingly chose to be sealed... Get thee behind me Satan!"

John Tyner, the young man who resisted the TSA's groin-grope, will now be probed.

"Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a news conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. He said the investigation could lead to prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000."

Love the use of the word "probe."

There's some really deep feeling brewing out there about the TSA's newly intensified searches of airline passengers. I'm wondering what potential this very particular issue has for skewing politics more generally.

Think about why this issue has such a strong emotional impact: The government wants to see you naked or grope your genitals. It is conditioning an important aspect of personal freedom — flying in airplanes — on your resigning yourself — and your children — to sexual assault. I was chatting with someone the other day who seemed more angry about this than any other political issue.

Now, I think this TSA issue has the potential to affect the political orientation of many individuals. How might the political parties and other political participants seize this opportunity?

Royal wedding in the offing.

Do you care?

Lovely. A ray of light in this somber world.
I don't care but don't begrudge the British their sentimental amusement.
It's actively annoying. Phony. Irrelevant.
Boring. Tedious. I don't care.
This is the one I'd vote for if I even cared enough to read this far. free polls

November 15, 2010

Lawsuit goes after Arianna Huffington for stealing the idea for a website.

Politico reports:
“Huffington has styled herself as a ‘new media’ maven and an expert on the effective deployment of news and celebrity on the Internet in the service of political ends,” says the complaint. “As will be shown at trial, Huffington’s and Lerer’s image with respect to the Huffington Post is founded on false impressions and inaccuracies: They presented the ‘new media’ ideas and plans of Peter Daou and James Boyce as their own in order to raise money for the website and enhance their image, and breached their promises to work with Peter and James to develop the site together."...

Democrats need “to develop a dominant position within the Internet,” Daou said during an early meeting about the site, according to the complaint. “It is a system [for] pushing the message, not just for fundraising,” he allegedly said.

Huffington called the charge of stolen ideas and broken deals “a completely absurd, ludicrous supposition” from men whom she’d turned down for jobs on the site.
This might be interesting  — a stark presentation of the Huffington Post's political agenda. But, really, I'm not too impressed with this notion of stealing "the idea" for a business. Was there a contract or a partnership or not? And it's not much of an idea anyway — a "dominant" website with a political slant. The trick is to do it well and get the traffic. Anyone could try to do it. Huffington did it. Possibly because she picked the right people to work with, and it wasn't Boyce and Daou.
The lawsuit touches on the same legal frontiers of intellectual property and deal-making as did a famous lawsuit Facebook settled in 2008. The success of the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, will hinge on whether Daou and Boyce can prove they had offered “something more specific than a generalized notion” and that Huffington had agreed to make them part of the deal, said Dan Kornstein, a prominent New York litigator.
What is the "more specific" thing? The complaint says the idea was for "a collective of blogs by notable personalities, non-partisan news aggregation, issue-specific web pages, scoops and exclusives derived from the founders’ personal relationships with Democratic Party and media insiders, and online community-building, with the purpose of driving Internet traffic and ‘page views’ for politically progressive messaging.” I'm not impressed.

Sunday Morning Talking Heads.

Crack Skull Bob is doing his wonderful drawings again.


Making advertising as insidious as possible through neuroscience:
Neuromarketing’s raison d’être derives from the fact that the brain expends only 2 percent of its energy on conscious activity, with the rest devoted largely to unconscious processing. Thus, neuromarketers believe, traditional market research methods — like consumer surveys and focus groups — are inherently inaccurate because the participants can never articulate the unconscious impressions that whet their appetites for certain products.

If pitches are to succeed, they need to reach the subconscious level of the brain, the place where consumers develop initial interest in products, inclinations to buy them and brand loyalty...

But should we worry that a technique that probes subconscious brain patterns might be used to unduly influence consumers, turning them into shopping robots without their knowledge and consent?
And, obviously, the same methods would work in political advertising, ending democracy as we know it. On the plus side: We won't know it. It already happened, right? I mean... #1: Look at who's President. And #2: We're seeing crazy-ass commercials like this:

Obama has written a children's book.

"President Obama's picture book for kids, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters (Knopf, $17.99), pays tribute to 13 Americans whose traits he sees in his own children. The 31-page book, for kids ages 3 and up, is filled with lyrical questions for Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, opening with, 'Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?'"

Harry Reid ran the best campaign of the 2010 election season.

Says Chris Cillizza:
He had the worst possible situation for a politician seeking reelection: he was both universally known and not at all well liked by Nevada voters....

From the moment Angle officially won the Republican nomination, the Reid team began a systematic negative campaign against her that will go down in history as one of the best ever. Angle was constantly on defense in the fall -- trying to beat back Reid-generated stories about her comments on Social Security, Medicare and just about everything else.

The strategy reflected the simple reality of Reid's political predicament: his only chance to win the race was to turn it into a "devil you know versus the one you don't" choice for voters.
Cillizza is impressed by Reid's acceptance of the reality that he couldn't make himself more popular. He saw what he had to do — grimly tear down his opponent — and he did it.

There are runners up, including 2 Wisconsinites — Ron Johnson and Scott Walker.

"'Sarah Palin's Alaska' Breaks TLC Ratings Record," "Refudiate" is the word of the year, and Bristol is still on "Dancing With the Stars."


"I don't think that the government has any business seeing me naked as a condition of traveling about the country."

Don't get snippy. It's either see you naked or feel you up. Just kidding. You also have the option not to travel by plane.

What will you do?
Go through the "naked" screener thing.
Submit to the quick feel-up.
Not fly. free polls

ADDED: "The 'don’t touch my junk' guy speaks."

"Students chatting on Twitter both inside and outside the classroom got higher grades than their nontweeting peers..."

According to a recent study reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
At the end of the semester, the tweeters had grade-point averages half a point higher, on average, than did their nontweeting counterparts. And students who tweeted were more engaged. Twitter users scored higher than those who didn’t use the tool on a 19-question student-engagement survey over the course of the semester—using parameters like how frequently students contributed to classroom discussion, and how often they interacted with their instructor about course material.
I have a lot of colleagues who oppose computers in the classroom and even ban them, and I wonder if this will flip any opinion. I've always been very pro computers in the classroom.

The 2010 "word of the year" is "refudiate."

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary:
An unquestionable buzzmaker in 2010, the word refudiate instantly evokes the name of Sarah Palin, who tweeted her way into a flurry of media activity when she used the word in certain statements posted on Twitter. Critics pounced on Palin, lampooning what they saw as nonsensical vocabulary and speculating on whether she meant “refute” or “repudiate.”

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used “refudiate,” we have concluded that neither “refute” nor “repudiate” seems consistently precise, and that “refudiate” more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of “reject.”
Congratulations to wordsmith Sarah and to all her detractors and fans. We just can't get enough of Sarah and her unique way of expressing herself.

Was there much competition? The rest of the short list, in alphabetical order, was: bankster, crowdsourcing, double-dip (describing a recession), gleek, nom nom, retweet (did "tweet" win in some previous year?), Tea Party, top kill, vuvuzela, webisode.

So the real question is: Why not Tea Party? My political sensors detect liberal bias. There were 2 words associated with the conservative backlash against Obama and the Democratic Congress, and one carried the connotation that the backlash is full of stupid people. If you say, then why wasn't "tea bagger" on the list? The answer is obviously that it's too scurrilous for the dictionary folk. The best argument against the liberal bias theory is that "refudiate" is a coinage that can be used in all sorts of places. It functions as a new word, not simply a name to designate a new thing.

At the Windswept Café...


... don't stumble.

Daniel Radcliffe is awesomely nerdy.

Singing "The Elements":

IN THE COMMENTS: Chip Ahoy links to this:

"By instinct and archetype, comedy is usually phallic..."

"... Chaplin has his cane, Harpo his horn, Groucho his cigar, and Dame Edna her gladioli, with which to poke, probe, and goose the world. Pee-wee, by contrast, is the comedian of non-phallic fun."

IN THE COMMENTS: Deborah said:
Unless Pee-wee himself is a phallic symbol. Of sorts:

"Now, as then, Pee-wee is a round-shouldered, knock-kneed picture of arrested development. His voice is high and strangulated, his laugh shrill and affectless, a sound that comes from the throat, not the belly. He occasionally lets out a scream of fear or a wail of loathing; when he throws himself on the floor in a tantrum, he adopts a kind of fetal position."
Yeah. Good point. The name too. Pee Wee. Wee wee. Pee pee.

McCain on Don't Ask Don't Tell.

WaPo reports:
McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday that he did not think the Senate should lift the ban during the lame-duck session that begins this week.

"Once we get this study, we need to have hearings. And we need to examine it. And we need to look at whether it's the kind of study that we wanted," McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

McCain, who had previously signaled a willingness to support the will of troops, also has mounted an effort to strip it from the defense authorization bill that sets Pentagon policy.
This statement comes after it has leaked out that the Pentagon study group conducted a survey of active-duty and reserve troops and a majority rejected the the idea that allowing openly gay people to serve in the military would have a negative effect. McCain seems to be gearing up to say it wasn't the right kind of study. I can understand thinking the study group was result-oriented in its research and that the lame duck Congress doesn't have the moral authority to make this decision, but it's sad to see McCain making this issue his legacy.

"I object to the proceeding," said Charles Rangel as an 8-member House panel began his trial on corruption charges.

"With all due respect, since I don't have counsel to advise me, I'm going to have to excuse myself from these proceedings."

UPDATE: The hearing goes on without Rangel's presence.

"Bummer! We’re still not doing the right thing."

The trouble with trying to get everything right is that you'll never get everything right.

UPDATE: But that one thing might be right.

Feliks Zemdegs!

That's the world record: 6.77 seconds. (Via Bloggingheads.)

Did you watch "Sarah Palin's Alaska"?

I watched for about 20 minutes. I might have been interested in a reality show — more like "The Osbournes" — where we see some semblance of everyday life in this unusual family, but — as the title warns us — it's more of a travelogue — with Sarah Palin talking almost constantly. They went fishing and saw some bears. Sarah said "wow" and "oh my gosh" a lot. They fished, Todd caught fish, and Sarah complained that Todd caught all the fish. Why shouldn't Todd catch the fish?

Here's the Television Without Pity forum for discussing the show. I love the stern moderator's rules:
What’s on topic in this thread?
  • Things you saw on the show.
What’s not on topic here?
  • Politics
  • Bristol's appearance on DWTS
  • Politics
  • Your personal judgements about Palin's fame/family/career
  • Politics
  • Posting to tell us that you're not going to watch.
  • Politics.
In other words, this isn’t a thread to snark on Palin at will. Please take extra care to follow the rules of the board and the special rules for this thread. If you don’t pay attention to the rules, and treat this as a general thread given to you to bash or praise Palin or your fellow posters, you will be warned. Thanks.
Good rules!

Did Paul Krugman endorse "death panels"?

The evidence.

I'd say he thinks you're not serious about the deficit if you let the term "death panels" scare you away from making tough decisions about what medical treatments the government should pay for.

November 14, 2010

"We should unite together to establish a Dog Party to fight for our rights."

"If anyone’s dog is taken away we should demonstrate."

In the Kettle Moraine State Forest....



... we got caught in the rain and the fast-approaching darkness.

"Seeing Meat Makes People Significantly Less Aggressive."

A study that surprised its author.

"While the president has been on a trip to Asia for the past 10 days, all but a few of his top aides stayed behind to figure out what went so wrong and what to do about it."

WaPo reports:
One adviser said they spent the past dozen days "soul-searching."

Another said that, around the White House, "people aren't just sitting around doing soul-searching. They're gaming out the short, medium and long term."
Gaming out.... Am I wrong to hear that as electoral politics?
Advisers also said it will probably take months, if not longer, to develop a strategy for restoring some of the early promise of the Obama presidency, particularly the notion that he was a different kind of Democrat.

In a nod to that ambition, his weekly address Saturday focused on earmark reform, one way, Obama said, of "restoring public trust." 
Am I wrong to hear this as a repulsive desire to re-engulf us in a mindless hopey-changey mood? I don't care about a feeling of "promise." I see America's grim sense of reality as a hard-won accomplishment. We're awake now. The dream is over.
Over the next few days, White House officials said they will begin to gauge whether they can forge an alliance with any top Republicans, many of whom are scheduled to attend a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Thursday. Although Obama could benefit from a high-profile compromise - perhaps on extending the Bush-era tax cuts or on other tax initiatives set to expire before the end of the year - officials are also prepared to point out any Republican intransigence.
The medium and long term game plan is the Republicans will screw up enough to take advantage of. The short-term plan is to look willing to so something bipartisan and beneficent.

"If I invoked the Insurrection Act against her wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African American city."

"That left me in a tough position. That would arouse controversy anywhere. To do so in the Deep South, where there had been centuries of states' rights tensions, could unleash holy hell."

I was struck by that passage in Bush's memoir, "Decision Points." Bush, of course, ended up getting criticized for seemingly not "car[ing] about black people," so it's interesting to think that his delays — at least as he presents them now — had to do with the history of the South. But look closely as the 2 concerns that slowed Bush's imposition of federal authority in New Orleans:

1. Gender. Bush didn't like the image of the male pushing the female aside. He thought he'd be criticized for that.

2. "States' rights tensions." That's a strange way to evoke the history of racism in the south if you want to convey that you cared about the suffering of black people. "States' rights" was the cry of those who resisted federal efforts to advance integration. Bush was, in fact, being deferential to the Southern governor.

Bush, sensitive to potential criticism about sexism and states' rights, exercised restraint, which exposed him to criticism about race.
There was rapper Kanye West who told TV viewers: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Jesse Jackson compared the plight of some survivors with being trapped in the "hull of a slave ship".

"Five years later, I can barely write these words without feeling disgusted. I am deeply insulted by the suggestion that we allowed American citizens to suffer because they were black... The more I thought about it, the angrier I felt. I was raised to believe that racism was one of the greatest evils in society," Bush writes. "I faced a lot of criticism as president. I didn't like hearing people claim I had lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was a racist, because of the response to Katrina, represented an all-time low. I told Laura at the time that it was the worst moment of my presidency. I feel the same way today."
He feels bad about this criticism and is contemptuous of those who expressed it, but: 1. His own words indicate that he put racism third on a list of 3 things he was worried he'd be criticized for, and 2. Jackson and West were speaking emotionally at the time when the suffering was going on.

Meanwhile, Kanye West cracked under pussycat questioning from Matt Lauer.

"The basis of democratic freedom is freedom of speech... Democracy is when the people keep a government in check."

"Please do not give up hope. There is no reason to lose heart. Even if you are not political, politics will come to you."

Pickpocketing dies out as younger folk turn away from the craft.

The police say the "picks" are all old guys now.

"You are the wrong size for this perfect pair of trousers. You have failed."

What womenswear pants "whisper" to the women who try them on.
Womenswear all too often is constructed to make women feel manipulated, shamed or unworthy. Comfort? Often it's an afterthought.... Women... all too often believe they have to alter themselves -- fix themselves -- to fit the clothes.
By contrast:
Men's apparel owns the language of power and authority. The clothes are in service to the man. They are tailored to him -- designed to make him look good and feel comfortable. Men's suits are stitched to be easily altered. Pants are sold unhemmed. The clothes are not finished until the gentleman says they are. Menswear aims to make men feel like they are the masters of their destiny.

"The Washington Post today reported that the Obama administration has given up on any hope of prosecuting Khalid Sheihk Mohammed in Lower Manhattan."

"Moreover, there is apparently little appetite in the administration to revive plans to try KSM via military commission, and they may simply allow Mohammed to remain incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, without trial."

After all the bold talk in the campaign, Obama apparently has no idea what to do with the detainees. Or, that he had ideas, but they encountered reality. Why not reach out to newly reddened America by saying Bush actually got it right and proceed with the military commissions?

Axelrod on Fox News Sunday.

Man, was he evasive. I'll put up the transcript later and show you what I mean. Meanwhile, Jim DeMint is on after the break. An excellent opportunity to look brilliant simply by answering the questions asked in a reasonably specific and concise manner. Axelrod seemed robotic and anesthetized. His mustache was cut shorter on one side than the other. Asked whether Obama would accept any of what the deficit commission came up with, Axelrod droned emptiness until he latched onto the topic of Nancy Pelosi, which he blathered about until Chris Wallace cut him off.

ADDED: Transcript. [Analysis coming soon!]

ACTUALLY: It's too boring to pick apart. I've got to give Axelrod that. After the break, you can read the interchange about the deficit commission that annoyed me so much.