December 4, 2010

We walked out in the snow.




Picnic Point, today.

Meadhouse breakfast.


Obama pardons a man who was convicted of mutilating coins in 1963.

Why? Why does that win the attention of the President of the United States? The pardoned man, Ronald Lee Foster of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, received probation and a $20 fine. This was one of 9 pardons, the first set of pardons by President Obama. The NYT characterized all the pardoned crimes as "small-scale offenses committed many years ago," but 4 of the cases involved cocaine. Maybe the coin-mutilating is in there to make cocaine look small scale.

I wonder what, exactly, Ronald Lee Foster did to coins? From CoinTalk:
I looked but can not find out anything about what he did to coins. I wonder if he is the first person to produce the infamous "Lincoln looks at Kennedy" pennies? There was a guy back in the 1960's who used a machine to shave pennies to the size of dimes and passed them in vending machines. Now what is "mutilation of coins" and what did this guy do?


In 1963, he was earning $82 a month as a Marine at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, when he says he and 16 others hatched a scheme to cut pennies into dimes so they could use them in vending machines. But the Secret Service caught them....
Hmmm, that reminds me. We used to try to turn quarters — back when they were silver — into rings. Step 1 was banging on the edge with a spoon to flatten and broaden it. No one ever got to step 2, which would have required some drilling.

Our Madison weekly — Isthmus — does an article on Auric Gold, a Madison gun rights advocate.

And he shows up in the first comment:
It would have been more accurate to label me as a "gun rights advocate" than "gun advocate."  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I certainly do not advocate guns for everyone.  Don't like guns?  Don't get one.  Not sure of your ability or willingness to use one to protect yourself?  Don't get one.  Not sure of your ability to be responsible and safe in your handling of a gun?  Don't get one.  Not confident in your ability to keep a gun under your control and out of the hands of others?  Don't get one.  Don't want to know the laws?  Don't get one.  I advocate for the right and freedom to have the choice to have a gun available as one of many options available for one's personal security.

It's not true that there will no longer be a reason to carry weapons openly once concealed carry laws change in Wisconsin.  It will only be true that there is no longer a legal necessity to carry openly.  Finally there will be a choice whether to carry openly or concealed, and under certain circumstances one option may make more sense than the other.

Joe Tarr opines that "Gold spends what seems an inordinate amout [sic] of time preparing to shoot his way out of dangerous situations."  Joe is entitled to his opinion.  But first, as a gun instructor, if people hire me with the expectation that I will be able to share some knowledge and improve their proficiency with a firearm and enhance their ability to survive a bad situation, I cannot simply be "adequate" with a gun.  I have to be good.  As good as I can possibly become.  I owe it to them, because while I may be fortunate and never need a gun to protect myself or others, I can neither predict nor control the circumstances I will find myself in, or that of any person who comes to me wanting to become more proficient with a firearm or to enhance their personal and household security.

Secondly, nobody in their right mind sees "shooting their way out" as the first choice, or even second choice, for getting "out of dangerous situations."  Use of a firearm always ought to be one's absolutely LAST way of getting out of a dangerous situation.  Having a gun makes one's list of options a longer list than when you don't have a gun.  But use of that gun belongs at the very end of the list-- when there are no other options.  Anything else is irresponsible.

O'Hern suggests that public attitude and laws will quickly change if folks "go nutso" or if "gunfights erupt in a bar."  Perhaps, but it should be noted than no state that has passed concealed carry has gone back and rescinded it.  The predictions of blood in the streets have been made in every state that considered concealed carry legislation.  Those predictions have never come true.  Once Illinois stands alone as the only state not allowing concealed carry in some form, they'll still be predicting bloodshed in Illinois as a consequence of any concealed carry legislation under consideration there, even though it never came true in the other 49 states.  Anti-gun people care little for the facts and much about pushing an agenda.  Gun control is not so much about guns, as it is about control.

I look like a member of the Allman Brothers?  Thanks Joe, you added another half-decade to my age!  If you had suggested Metallica I would have been happier.  Or Blue Oyster Cult-- I know, they're older, but I prefer them musically.
You may remember when Isthmus did an article about me. Unlike Gold, I refused to let them photograph me for the cover. Looking at the picture they did of Gold, I'm reminded of why I didn't trust them to do a picture of me! I assumed they'd choose an unflattering picture. They've got a low angle on Gold, looking up his nostrils. He's got an unpleasant expression on his face. He's plunked squarely in front of a blocky building, which makes him look blocky. I don't know how blocky he really is, but I'd feel terrible if some unsympathetic photographer framed the background and my body to make me look bad.

I didn't submit to the interview either. (The Isthmus writer made stuff up about what my refusal to be interviewed meant. He decided that my avoidance of publicity was evidence of my egotism. Whatever. If he'd approved of my politics, I'm sure the interpretation would signify modesty.)

"FBI issues warning over Barbie 'Video Girl' which could be used by paedophiles to make child pornography."

The doll has a camera built into it.

The movie we watched last night.


I'd seen it before, but others here hadn't. I'd forgotten some of the details, but I remembered the key surprises. So I wallowed in the old-fashioned acting, especially Joan Fontaine moving her eyebrows asymmetrically in a way that only a comic actress today would use...

"Rebecca" won the best picture Oscar in 1940, beating "The Grapes of Wrath." I guess people preferred watching the melodramatically exaggerated travails of rich people in gigantic houses more than they liked watching the melodramatically exaggerated travails of poor people in gritty hovels.

At the First Snow Café...


... I'd say that counts.

December 3, 2010

Hillary says: "I think I will serve as secretary of state as my last public position."

Oh? You "think." You don't know. And that's "think," in the present tense. So it's your current vision of your future? Is there anything that could possibly cause you to think differently, in the future, about how you see your future?

Steve Martin is in trouble.

For luring people to pay $50 to hear him interviewed and then having the interview be all about the art world and his book about the art world.
It is exactly — exactly — like demanding your money back because Elton John didn't play "Rocket Man." 
No, it's like going to see Elton John and demanding your money back because he played only classical music — and not at the level of a professional classical pianist.

"I haven't been out to check on him for five hours but I went outside for a fag and he's gone."

A woman in the UK calls the police to report the theft of her snowman. And she's a smoker.

"It's troubling that he had a cellphone since he's a person who got other people to murder on his behalf."

Charles Manson had a cell phone.

Bristol Palin gets sarcastic on Facebook about Keith Olbermann.

After he called her "the worst person in the world."

Linda Greenhouse purports to be impressed by the post-retirement activities of Justices Stevens and O'Connor.

But there's also this:
Not so long ago, it was typical for justices to remain on the court until they died (the exit strategy of 49 of the 103 justices not currently serving) or became enfeebled by age (recall the explanation that Justice Thurgood Marshall gave when he retired in 1991 at the age of 83: “I’m old and falling apart.”) I can’t remember when the country was blessed by the presence of three retired justices who can get themselves from one place to another unaided.
This is a not-too-subtle hint to the older Justices to retire. Please vacate your seats and give some younger folks a shot. And give the young President an appointment. See? We will notice you as you go about giving innocuous speeches and publishes simple enough essays in the New York Review of Books — especially if you tell us you wish you voted differently on some case we journalists disapproved of or indicate you "her dismay at seeing some of her own work 'dismantled' by the current court." Come on out here where we can help you burnish your reputation.

UPDATE: I rewrote the headline, because it was so boring I was afraid no one would read through to the possibly amusing sarcasm.

Paul Krugman adds a new layer of shellac to Barack Obama.

"... a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him."

December 2, 2010

"It’s the most sane and moral weapon ever devised."

"It’s the only nuclear weapon in history that makes sense in waging war. When the war is over, the world is still intact."

The neutron bomb — so sensible to its inventor — was so intensely reviled.

Samuel T. Cohen, dead of stomach cancer at age 89.


Dialogue from the movie "Repo Man":
I had a lobotomy in the end.

Lobotomy? Isn't that for loonies?

Not at all. A friend of mine had one. Designer of the neutron bomb. You ever hear of the neutron bomb? Destroys people, but leaves buildings standing. It fits in a suitcase. So small. No one knows it's there, until... blammo!


"I like that I got an ugly girl's personality."

"In other words, a homely girl always has to develop that muscle. And I did. But the good news is that I never considered myself beautiful at all. And I still don't."

"I know in my heart I am not going to be judged by this Congress. I’ll be judged by my life in its entirety."

Said Charles Rangel... after the House voted 333-79 to censure him.

Thanks, once again...

... for showing your appreciation for my diligent bloggerly scribblings by starting your shopping here:

On most items, Amazon is sharing 7% of the purchase price with me, so it's really quite a big deal... costing you nothing more than you'd pay anyway. So, if you've been enjoying the daily nuggets of interestingness on this blog, make it the jumping-off point for whatever diverse consumerism is on your personal agenda.

2 Harvard law students sue Janet Napolitano and the TSA administrator over the airport scanning and groping.

They say it violates the 4th Amendment.

IN THE COMMENTS: lyssalovelyredhead said:
On a related note, I heard from a lawyer today... that his client, an employer, is being sued by a frequent flying employee, who is alleging forced flying under these conditions constitutes hostile work environment.

"Women follow rules better than men do, so the women do better in school."

"But, there is no correlation between doing well in school and doing well in adult life. And there might be a reverse correlation, because school is about doing what you’re told, but strong performers in business make their own rules. Maybe this is why most big law firms have no women in their top 10 rainmakers. This is because it’s an ill-defined, outside-the-rules-of-what-you-learn-in-law-school kind of job. But these are the people who make the money and have the flexibility to have a lifestyle they want outside of work—one not so hours-bound. So for women to really get the kind of workplace they want – flexible, responsive, and engaging, the women are going to need to break some rules."

Says Penelope Trunk, who advises men to encourage women to break the rules, assuming men want to make work better for women... in which case they should also display their forearms... because women like to look at men's forearms. Wait! Forearms? Rule-breaking? I'm picturing intra-office sexual affairs. That might make going to work incredibly exciting, but it makes work much more difficult.

But forearms aside, I do think Trunk is right about women, rules, school, and work.

"All I knew was that I had to cross the line."

A 16-year-old runner collapses, then crawls to the finish line. "It took over 20 seconds for her to crawl two yards."

I was touched by this story. (There's also an angle about the coach having Lou Gehrig's disease, and her team won the state championship only because she finished.) But I wonder if officials should allow a kid who's collapsed to keep going.
[A]n assistant coach... said that if [Holland] Reynolds had appeared to be in immediate danger, he would not have let her continue. “I would have picked her up and carried her straight to the ambulance,” he said. “But she was able to make eye contact with me. Her body was tired, but she was mentally all there.”
Is that medically right? If a kid collapses playing sports but makes eye contact, she's not in immediate danger?

Check the video. The breakdown begins at 19:30. Should this be celebrated in the national press, or should we worry that encouraging kids to this point risks death or serious injury?

"It’s like if you or I morphed into fully functioning cyborgs after being thrown into a room of electronic scrap with nothing to eat."

The newly discovered arsenic-eating bacteria. But it's not really that weird:
Arsenic sits right beneath phosphorus in the periodic table of the elements and shares many of its chemical properties. Indeed, that chemical closeness is what makes it toxic, Dr. Wolfe-Simon said, allowing it to slip easily into a cell’s machinery where it then gums things up, like bad oil in a car engine.

At a conference at Arizona State about alien life in 2006, however, Dr. [Felisa] Wolfe-Simon suggested that an organism that could cope with arsenic might actually have incorporated arsenic instead of phosphorus into its lifestyle. In a subsequent paper in The International Journal of Astrobiology, she and Ariel Anbar and Paul Davies, both of Arizona State University, predicted the existence of arsenic-loving life forms....

Reasoning that such organisms were more likely to be found in environments already rich in arsenic, Dr. Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues scooped up a test tube full of mud from Mono Lake, which is salty, alkaline and already heavy in arsenic, and gradually fed them more and more.

"The government has never brought an Espionage Act prosecution that would look remotely like this one."

"I suspect that has a lot to do with why nothing has happened yet," says lawprof Stephen I. Vladeck, puzzling over why the U.S. Justice Department has yet to bring charges against Julian Assange.

"A Month After Elections, 200,000 Votes Found."

In New York. That's 17% more votes than originally reported.

"Norman Rockwell would get the boot... if I believed in pulling everything that I'm offended by: I can't stand the view of America that he presents..."

"... which I feel insults a huge number of us non-mainstream folks. But I didn't call for the Smithsonian American Art Museum to pull the Rockwell show that runs through Jan. 2, just down the hall from 'Hide/Seek.' Rockwell and his admirers got to have their say, and his detractors, including me, got to rant about how much they hated his art. Censorship would have prevented that discussion, and that's why we don't allow it."

Writes Blake Gopnik about the ants-on-Jesus to-do.

Rush Limbaugh reacted:
Now, what is there to hate about Norman Rockwell? Very simply answered question: pro-America. Classic Americana. If you hate Norman Rockwell, you hate the flag. If you hate Norman Rockwell, you hate biscuits and gravy. If you hate Norman Rockwell, you hate breakfast. If you hate Norman Rockwell, you hate farms. If you hate Norman Rockwell, you hate grandmother. If you hate Norman Rockwell, you hate the family. What in the world is there to hate about Norman Rockwell?
Ha. I remember when everyone hated Norman Rockwell... and not just because he was regarded as an excessively literal illustrator and not a real artist.

(And by "everyone," I mean that in the sense that everyone voted against Nixon.)

Should the Constitution be amended to empower the states, by a 2/3 vote, to repeal provisions of federal law?

Dana Milbank notes "the unfortunate echo of nullification," but nullification was the idea that individual states could disregard federal law they opposed. The Repeal Amendment would institute an orderly structural safeguard as part of the Constitution, a check on federal power that requires a supermajority vote of the states.

Instapundit thinks Milbank is being — pretending to be? — too obeisant to the original Constitution:
The amendment process, after all, is part of the Constitution. The Framers had no illusions that they were creating perfection, and believed in the sovereignty of the people and in the power of the people to revise the Constitution as needed, through the process they created. The idea that the text of the Constitution should be revised only through judicial reinterpretation is a modern conceit, and one that does no honor to the Framers at all.
Since the Repeal Amendment, proposed by Randy Barnett, can easily be portrayed as an effort to return to something closer to the balance of power provided for in the original Constitution, it is pretty silly to portray yourself as brimming with respect for the Founders when what you really support is the shift of power to the national government that occurred over the long stretch of time, a shift that the courts have allowed to take place.

You know what else is silly? This, from Milbank:
Lest you think this is a hair-brained scheme by one Republican lawmaker, consider that the Repeal Amendment... has won the endorsement of the man who will be the next House majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
Let me dig up William Safire:
Folk etymology is the term for the creation of new words by mistake or misunderstanding or mispronunciation....In today's language, "Hare-brained" is often giddily and irresponsibly misspelled "Hairbrained," perhaps on the notion that the hair is near the brain.
Folk etymology... hmmm. There's also folk constitutional interpretation, isn't there? Or is folk the wrong word when it's journalists purveying the bogus constitutional wisdom?

"Twinkling Stars May Reveal Human-Size Wormholes."


"Funny, only a few months ago [Obama] said his opponents talk about him like a dog."

"Now he is talking about himself, like a dog, but of the blue variety."

"It's like Charles Darwin and his theory is a saint. You can't touch it."

Some Louisiana citizens think the Louisiana textbook advisory panel isn't doing a good enough job of implementing the Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008.
The LSEA instructs educators to promote "critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." It also allows teachers and school districts to use "supplemental textbooks," which are just code words for creationist and pro-intelligent design materials.

"If members have homosexual thoughts or feelings or engage in homosexual behavior..."

"... Church leaders should help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth."

"Why are liberals more intelligent than conservatives? Because liberalism is 'evolutionarily novel.'"

Says the evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa:
[Kanazawa's study] showed that young adults who identified themselves as "very liberal" had an average IQ of 106 while those who identified themselves as "very conservative" had an average IQ of 95.

"The ability to think and reason endowed our ancestors with advantages in solving evolutionarily novel problems for which they did not have innate solutions. As a result, more intelligent people are more likely to recognise and understand such novel entities and situations than less intelligent people, and some of these entities and situations are preferences, values, and lifestyles," Dr Kanazawa said.

Humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends. Being liberal and caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers is evolutionarily novel. So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.
Evolutionary psychologists certainly have a lot of leeway to explain anything that they see in the data and to pick the explanation that pleases them the most.

The study is of young adults. Intelligent young adults might be liberal because they are going to better schools, and schools promote the liberal world view. What happens when these intelligent folks — and they're not that intelligent! — get a little older?

The linked article summarizes the material in the book "Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire-- Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do." I read that book a while back. It's pretty interesting.

As the male ousts the female from the Speaker's chair....

... he chivalrously provides all the ladies of the House with  very important seats.


But I'm sure Nancy Pelosi has her own private bathroom and wouldn't stoop (or squat) to use some shared bathroom.

"If Charles Darwin were alive today, I think he would find something very attractive about punk rock."

Writes Greg Graffin in "Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God." Graffin was (is?) the lead singer of the rock group Bad Religion and he's now a professor of life Sciences at UCLA.
At 16, he took the final words from Richard Leakey's and Roger Lewin's book, "Origins" ("To have arrived on this Earth ... only to depart it through arrogance, would be the ultimate irony") as inspiration for Bad Religion's first noteworthy song, "We're Only Going to Die from Our Own Arrogance." It was recorded for the band's 1981 debut album....

In his book, Graffin says a detailed study of evolution led him to become a "naturalist," a scientist who believes the overall story of species' development or failure is more complex than "survival of the fittest."...

Organisms, Graffin says, adapt, for better or worse, to changes in their environment and to the constant absorption of new traits through procreation. Evolution is anarchic — something, he says, is true of punk culture as well as the world at large.

Righty bloggers pick their Conservative Of The Year: Chris Christie.

Second Place: Sarah Palin. Third: Mark Rubio.

December 1, 2010

Mickey Kaus hates the Dream Act.

"For only the second time in Wisconsin state history, no one was killed during gun deer season..."

"... except for deer."

"Now I am scared I am going to wake up with a decapitated moose head in my bed..."

Says Margaret Cho, possible evincing the guilt she really ought to feel.

"The Select Committee on Global Warming – which was created to provide a political forum to promote Washington Democrats' job-killing national energy tax..."

"... it will not continue in the 112th Congress."

No, that's not the first snow.


That doesn't count. We have a standard for what counts as the first snow, so you have not won your bet. Not yet.

Meade said the first snow will be before we get up and look out the window on December 2. I said after.

Sissy on "sissy."

Yesterday, I had a problem with Rush Limbaugh using the word "sissy" over and over again to express his feelings about Julian Assange. That, understandably, caught the attention of Sissy Willis. Because she's a Sissy but not a sissy, she did not react with I Feel Bad About My Name: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman. She wrote to riff on something I said in my listening-to-Rush-Limbaugh video:
"To say men are being like women when you want to say they're being cowardly and weak — I don't like it ... Also, some chickification is a good thing. Women have a lot to offer. Think about it."
Sissy says she's been saying it for a while: "postmodern, identity-politics 'feminism'" is not the same thing as "feminization." And that makes me want to remind Rush and everyone else that there are many different manifestations of the feminine. You have something in mind when you say "chickification" or "feminization." I get it. But if you want to be able to criticize the forms of the feminine that you loathe, don't sweep all women into a stereotype. If you do, you are, ironically, acting like a cartoon of a radical feminist — a woman who thinks of men as sexist brutes.

Now, I know that Rush Limbaugh isn't a sexist. I listen to the show. I know he doesn't think women are all alike, and I think he loves women. He's first in line to promote the women who embrace conservatism. That's his thing: He loves conservatism. He's enthusiastic about conservative women in politics and critical of those who try to drag down Sarah Palin (and, for example, Christine O'Donnell). He does the thing that I do: He points it out when a liberal says something about a female conservative that liberals would call sexist if it were said about a female liberal. He notices — as I do — the way liberals expect women to be liberal and discipline us harshly when we are not.

Also, Rush isn't exactly the model of stereotypical masculinity. And I'm not just referring to the fact that he hasn't kept his body in optimum shape over the years. I'm talking about the hours of show time he's spent telling us about the details of his wedding. The times he's admitted getting emotional over some movie. And just yesterday, he went on and on about his pets. He's got 2 dogs and a cat. And the dogs are because of his wife. When he was living alone, he was living alone with a cat. A pussy!

November 30, 2010

A shopping reminder.

Remember, you can painlessly show some love for the Althouse blog if you do your shopping beginning here:

I really do appreciate it!

AND: Special thanks to whoever bought the Humminbird 898c SI Combo 7-Inch Waterproof Marine GPS and Chartplotter with Sounder. You gave me 51 dollars. And thanks too to whoever bought the cock soup. You gave me 51 cents... and a laugh.

AND: This is a pretty nice sweater somebody picked out for their guy.

Violence against women...

... amuses liberals sometimes.

Allowing gays to serve openly in the miliary "would not be the wrenching, traumatic change that many have feared and predicted," said Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.

At a news conference today, after the release of a 9-month Pentagon study. 
He said it was a “matter of urgency” that the lame-duck Senate vote in the next weeks to repeal the law.  If not, Mr. Gates predicted fights in the courts and the possibility that the repeal would be “imposed immediately by judicial fiat.”...
... Gates acknowledged the higher levels of “discomfort” about repealing the law among those in the combat branches of the military. He said that those findings remained a concern to him as well as to the chiefs of the service branches, but that the concerns were not insurmountable as long as any repeal was carried out carefully and with what he said was “sufficient time and preparation to get the job done right.”

What Sarah Palin is doing to her children.

The ratings are up for "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Oh, that's so sad for the people who exulted last week when the ratings were down. I skipped last week myself, but I watched this week's show. It was pretty cool seeing the Palins hauling in fish nets, slicing salmon into strips, tying the strips with string, and hanging them up in a smokehouse, with Todd's Eskimo grandmother demonstrating how to set up the fire to get the smoke just right.

I was touched by Sarah's interaction with Trig and with another boy with Down Syndrome (a member of her extended family). It made me cry and it made me think about this post by Andrew Sullivan criticizing Sarah Palin for combining motherhood and a career in national politics:
Anyone one who genuinely cared about the privacy of her kids would have either said no [to the vice presidential nomination] or been extremely careful to release the information as soberly as possible....

[S]he parades a special needs infant in front of the press, dangles him half-naked in front of book tour crowds, uses him constantly as a rhetorical campaign prop, and cites him at almost every speech to appeal to pro-life voters....

What Palin has done with her young children is unprecedented. Think of how Obama strictly protects his daughters, and how George W. Bush did the same. 
Think of how the press — including you — regards those daughters as off-limits but goes after Palin's daughters.
What Palin has done is use her children, having failed to actually rear them. She is still doing it on her reality show. That she has gone so far as to use and thereby abuse a child with Down Syndrome whose interests are clearly in seclusion, careful nurturing and care, and constant parental attention, tells you a huge amount. 
Seclusion? Is that right, tucking those kids away from the rest of the society? Why not be out and proud?

"If they’ve got money to squander like this – of a crucifix being eaten by ants, of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, men in chains, naked brothers kissing..."

"... then I think we should look at their budget," said Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, scaring the Smithsonian Institution into taking down the ants-on-Jesus video. Cowed, the Institution nevertheless defended the artist, whose "intention was to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim." The museum assures us it had no "intention to offend."

Why aren't there any black Senators?

James Taranto reacts to the inflammatory assertion that "Mark Kirk Re-Segregates the Senate." It's true that "of the four blacks who've served in the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction, three of them held what is now Kirk's seat: Carol Moseley Braun, Obama and [Roland] Burris." So a black person's chances of getting elected to the Senate seem best in Illinois, but it didn't happen this year. But why aren't black candidates more successful in running for statewide office? Taranto blames the Voting Rights Act:
In the interest of increasing minority representation in the House and state legislatures, the act mandates the drawing of "majority minority" districts.

On its own terms, this has worked very well. The size of the Congressional Black Caucus relative to the House is within a few percentage points of the black proportion of the population. Seats in state legislatures and the House frequently are stepping stones to statewide office. But because black politicians need not cultivate a transracial appeal to win office in the first place, they are at a disadvantage when they consider a statewide run.

Moseley Braun and Obama are exceptions. (The unelected Burris is irrelevant to this analysis.) Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, both served in the Illinois Legislature from Chicago's Hyde Park, which, although a decidedly left-wing constituency, is one of the most racially integrated in the nation.

Here I am listening — for the first time — to Rush Limbaugh talking about me.

I've got the podcast of today's show, where he's reading from this blog post of mine:

And let me invite Rush to go on and diavlog with me about the so-called chickification problems that plague our world today.

ADDED: Here's the show transcript including the text of what's in my video clip. Rush continues, with some talk about the Wikileaks leaks, a few paragraphs, and then:
And you have this little sissy, Julian Assange, thrown in the middle of it.  Assange is a community organizer on the world stage, and who's his enemy?  The United States of America. 

... I mean, look, to those of you who are offended by my description of Assange as a sissy, would you want him in the foxhole with you?...

Look, the chickification of our culture and society is rampant.  We've become defensive.  We've become politically correct.  We've been overly concerned with everybody's feelings about things...
Ironically, this sounds defensive. Keep thinking about it, Rush. (I want to live rent-free inside his head.)

Depriving people who crave attention from getting attention?

DSM-5 eliminates narcissism as an official personality disorder.

The conflict is nowhere near as amusingly ironic as my post title or the headline at the link suggests.

Rush Limbaugh just mentioned me.

I'm told (via email). I don't listen until the podcast comes out. Anyone know what he said?

UPDATE: I listen to the podcast here.

"With biking, you feel in control until you have an accident."

"Then all of a sudden you realize you are not in control. That can have a dramatic effect — you can shift abruptly from excessive daring to exaggerated caution."

"WikiLeaks Fallout: Should Hillary Clinton Resign?"

Asks David Corn.
Clinton... signed orders instructing U.S. foreign service officers to spy on the diplomats of other nations....

Diplomats are not spies (though spies do pose as diplomats)....

The administration's strategy -- as is to be expected -- is to focus on the easy-to-demonize messenger, not the hard-to-explain message. But Diplomatgate ought to be a top priority for the oversight committees of Congress....

... [O]ne can expect Clinton to dig in her heels, as the administration decries the leaker and ignores the leaks.

Julian Assange — "He's a sissy; he's a waif, purely and simply an Internet creation."

That's how Rush Limbaugh talked about Julian Assange on his show yesterday. What I'm interested in here is not Assange per se or what Limbaugh thinks of him. I'm interested in the gratuitous disparagement of men whose looks and personal style fail to track the masculine stereotype:
Let's look at Julian Assange. In a contest between Janet Napolitano and Julian Assange, who do you think would win?  Big Sis, there's no question about it.  Now, if Janet Napolitano, Big Sis, can put her hands down our underwear at any airport in America she chooses, why can't she get her hands on the State Department leaker?  Why can't she get her hands around the scrawny little neck of Julian Assange and all the other people at WikiLeaks?  This little guy, this little waif, this little Peter Pan, Julian Assange, does anybody really believe that is his real name?...

I'm in the mood to listen to a sissy, and we have an audio sound bite here from Julian Assange, who looks like a sissy and is a sissy....

No, I just don't like the guy in general principles.  I don't like the name. I don't like the way he looks. I don't like the way he sounds. He's a sissy; he's a waif, purely and simply an Internet creation.
Here's the graphic:

Limbaugh seems to have a general aversion to effeminate men (not to mention mannish women), and he's not processing this rather low reflex into much of anything but the repetition of the word "sissy." I like Rush Limbaugh and have defended him many times, in front of people who tend to hate you if you say anything good about him, so I think my opinion on the subject of Rush Limbaugh has special weight. I think this "sissy" business is beneath him.

There's something in the linked rant that was worth saying. If you read the whole thing, you'll see that Limbaugh was criticizing our government for not being able to catch Assange. In that context, the apparent feebleness of the man is relevant. If Limbaugh wants to say Assange is a weak little man and he's making us look weak, that's fine. What I don't like is the implication that in general men who look small, thin, and weak don't count as real men.

Now, Limbaugh's own critics frequently, gratuitously point out that Limbaugh is fat. I'm sure that creates a temptation for the big man to swing back at little men. I'm not saying he has to resist that temptation every single time, but process it into something better than saying "sissy" over and over. The subject, after all, was strength and weakness, and that was weak comic rhetoric.

UPDATE: I get word that Rush is talking about me on today's show, and, later, I listen to the podcast of the show and respond in real time.

"It's my theory that this chap Meade is the arch-criminal and he's behind the whole thing."

"Meade" is in 210 phrases in 30 movies (with a lot of repetitions in "Gone With the Wind"), but "Althouse" is in none. I'm especially enjoying the Meades in the 1942 movie "Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror."
Meade has led us to the Voice of Terror.
Go ahead, use the movie/TV search tool to find your own name.

Go ahead!


Via Metafilter, where I also found out (via email from Jaltcoh) about this amazing website where you can search for phrases in movie and TV scripts. So, for example, it found "Go ahead! Jump!" — or things quite close to that — in 27 phrases from 25 movies, including "Diva" ("Go ahead, jump."), "Back to the Future Part II" ("Go ahead, kid. Jump."), and "Mean Streets" ("Go ahead. Jump out the fuckin' window.")

Oh, I know what I'm going to search for. That line I've heard is in every movie. "2987 phrases from 2252 movies and series..." LOL. Hundreds of movies have it more than once.

November 29, 2010

Did Oklahoma single out Muslims for disapproval?

A federal judge bars the state's Save Our State Amendment pending further proceedings.
“While defendants contend that the amendment is merely a choice of law provision that bans state courts from applying the law of other nations or cultures, regardless of what faith they may be based on, if any, the actual language of the amendment reasonably, and perhaps more reasonably, may be viewed as specifically singling out Shariah law, conveying a message of disapproval of plaintiff’s faith,” the judge wrote.
... Scott Boughton, an assistant attorney general for the state, defended the measure, saying it was only intended to keep Oklahoma judges from looking at the legal principles of other nations and cultures in applying state and federal law. When the judge asked if that had ever happened in Oklahoma, Mr. Boughton acknowledged that he did not know of an instance in which Shariah law had been invoked by the courts....

The director of the best "Star Wars" movie has died.

Do you even remember his name?

"Would you ever in your wildest dreams imagine Chris Matthews flatteringly comparing Sarah Palin to former President Bill Clinton?"

Noel Sheppard asks before speculating:
Are Obama-loving press members trying to orchestrate an outcome by giving an abundance of attention to the person they hope Obama will face in November 2012?
That's basically what they did in 2008, he notes.

But the press liked McCain, I think, because he was relatively liberal. Palin isn't. Palin is good at getting all the attention, and I worry that it will prevent better candidates from getting the early support they need to survive the caucuses and primaries.

As for Chris Matthews, I suspect he's just desperate for ratings and knows how many viewers he could get if Sarah would bring her celebrity-power to his little show.

Things we talked about here over the weekend.

If a retired Supreme Court Justice is going to publish an essay in a classy literary tabloid, he should do better than this.

If an erudite Kenyan goes on a lesser Sunday talking heads show, he needs to call bullshit.

Don't let your bleeding heart bleed for geese.

And by "bleeding heart," I mean Dane County (as in Madison), but you Danes (as in Denmark) have problems of your own, even if that bleeding-heart radio organization thinks you are the exemplars of happiness.

Black Friday shopping links for Althouse-tested items.

I'm a snob about what I'll drink but I defend your right to drink what the government is prying from your numb, shaky hands.

Irradiating irrationality.

Oh, those young people, so irony-oriented and lameness-avoidant... how it hurt to fall in love with Obama!

If you want respect, don't demand it from teenagers.

This is the time... this is the moment... for pie!

"... Sinatra was a singularly fluorescent vocal phenomenon."

No, of course that's not what the NYT review of that new book about Frank Sinatra says. It says "Sinatra was a singularly incandescent vocal phenomenon."

Do you see my point? Incandescent means something. There is feeling and beauty in the concept that is missing — to the point of comedy — in the word "fluorescent."

Or maybe you are on the extreme end of the spectrum that has feeling and sensitivity to aesthetic details at one end and whatever it is you are on the other — logical, medicinal, remorseless. Maybe you are like those people who want to take away my incandescent light bulbs. What will it take to convince you that your perceptions are not the same as everybody else's?


Bonus literary reference:
Look, Mother, do you think I’m crazy about the warehouse? You think I’m in love with the Continental Shoemakers? You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that - - celotex interior! with -- fluorescent tubes?! Honest to God, I’d rather somebody picked up a crow-bar and battered out my brains -- than go back mornings! But I go! Every time you come in yelling that Rise and Shine! Rise and shine!! I think how lucky dead people are! But I get up. I go! For sixty-five dollars a month I give up all that I dream of doing and being ever!

"All right. I've read the entire Wikileaks dump. And there's nothing in it."

Overheard at Meadhouse.

November 28, 2010

"I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you."

Goodbye to Leslie Nielsen. Goodbye and good luck.

Althouse in 1970.

Yes, it's me, age 19, sitting under a Norman-Mailer-for-Mayor poster:


Just something I ran across as I work on restoring that photo archive. And yes, do the math. I'll be 60 soon. In less than 2 months. I can't think of anything to do about that.

PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Cohen.

Spooning with the robot pillow.

Funktionide Part II from eltopo on Vimeo.

Is it sad?
I mean... I'm not asking if the blob itself is sad. But is it sad that there is — if there is — a need for things like this?

Standardized testing has embarrassed teachers into facing the fact that they've been grading kids for compliance and pleasing.

That's what I extract from this pretty garbled NYT op-ed. And by garbled I mean stuff like this:
“Over time, we began to realize that many teachers had been grading kids for compliance — not for mastering the course material,” [middle school principal Katie] Berglund said. “A portion of our A and B students were not the ones who were gaining the most knowledge but the ones who had learned to do school the best.”....

As test scores fast become the single and most powerful measurement by which educational outcomes are being judged, more schools might find themselves engaged in what has become a pivotal debate: Should students be rewarded for being friendly, prepared, compliant, a good school citizen, well organized and hard-working? Or should good grades represent exclusively a student’s mastery of the material?
How did the word "exclusively" get into that last question? It seems obvious to me that schools should give achievement in learning the primary place it deserves and should also demand appropriate behavior. Students need to be decently well-behaved, diligent, and organized, but it's wrong to treat teacher's-pet-type students as if they are the best. That drives many smart kids into rebellion. And, frankly, it's likely to create unnecessary problems for lots of boys. And it doesn't do girls any favors either, since real careers aren't about handing in all the homework and pleasing the authority figure.

ADDED: I'm told that the Week In Review pieces like this are properly referred to as news "analysis," and not "op-eds."

Madison needs to deal with its vermin - the geese.

At the Isthmus, Bill Lueders — remember him from last week? — seems disturbed by the proposal to kill the geese that are ruining our beautiful public lands.
Parks Division spokeswoman Laura Whitmore notes that the city is soliciting public input on goose management, after the brouhaha at Warner. (The eradication plan there is on hold pending further review.) One public hearing has already been held, on geese and golf courses, and another is planned, on goose management in general parklands.

"We want everyone's opinion," she says, "not just a few."
I'm sure the people who want to spare the geese will honk loudest, so I hope those of you who, like me, think the geese should be treated the way we treat rats will speak up too.

Justice John Paul Stevens writes about the death penalty in the New York Review of Books.

The book under review is David Garland's "Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition." The review itself is much more of a straightforward summary of the book than the usual NYRB essay. Toward the end:
To be reasonable, legislative imposition of death eligibility must be rooted in benefits for at least one of the five classes of persons affected by capital offenses.

First, of course, are victims. By definition murder victims are no longer alive and so have no continuing interest.
That's all he says about the victims! They're already dead. As if making murder a heavily punished crime doesn't prevent some people from becoming victims. Recent research undermines the convenient old assumption that the death penalty has no deterrent effect.  Stevens says nothing about that because, I suspect, Garland doesn't.

"The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot."

Was Mohamed Osman Mohamud entrapped?

Incandescent light bulbs.

Stock up!

UPDATE: Shining the harsh light of journalism on Arianna Huffington:
The light bulbs are the first incongruity I spot waiting for Arianna Huffington in the photo-laden living room of her Brentwood home, the one she bought for $4.1-million (U.S.) as an infamous new divorcée in 1997. The bulbs are old-time incandescents, not the compact fluorescents you might expect of someone who ran for governor of California against Arnold Schwarzenegger with the slogan “the hybrid vs. the Hummer.” 

"Normally when we think of happiness, we think of money and status, but Denmark teaches us the opposite lesson."

"There, you have a place where you are taxed to the mean. A cultural norm reminds everybody that they are no better than everybody else, so you're not going to choose your career path based on status. You're in a place where a garbage man makes as much as a lawyer. So what you have are 4 million people who excel at things like furniture design and architecture."

More from NPR.

I thought we'd finally hit the year when efforts to use "tryptophan" in Thanksgiving jokes had ended.

But hoary old NPR is still purveying them. Christmas is coming up, so I'm steeling myself for jokes about how no one actually likes fruitcake.

"I had a piece of Carefree Sugarless gum and I was still worried."

"It never kicked in, I took it back to the store and said 'Bullshit!'"

Pay $1 million or Lady Gaga (and other celebs) won't do Twitter and Facebook anymore.

It's Digital Life Sacrifice.
"It's really important and super-cool to use mediums that we naturally are on."

Presidential biographer Edmund Morris to Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation": "That's a fucked up question." [UPDATED: "That’s a bullshit question!"]

Schieffer's question was: "What would Teddy Roosevelt think of today’s politics?"
“You keep asking these presentist questions,” said the Kenyan-born, British-accented historian. 
“As the immortal Marisa Tomei said in 'My Cousin Vinny,' ‘That’s a f----- up question!'” Morris said, relishing over the word as network censors bleeped him out.

“You cannot pluck people out of the past and expect them to comment on what’s happening today,” he continued. 
Yeah, it's a fucked up question, but I bet Doris Kearns Goodwin would answer it. I mean, she'd whip out a juicy anecdote that would seem to answer it. Come on, Edmund, cast off your Kenyan-born, British-accented attitude and play the media game.
“I can only say that what he represented in his time is what we hope for in our presidents now, what we look for in our presidents now and what we’re increasingly disappointed by. He understood foreign culture, recognized the dignity of the United States. He was forceful yet dignified. And what I really feel these days is, we’ve become such an insular people.”
Bullshit... as the immortal Peter Finch said in "Network."
Good evening... this is my last broadcast. Yesterday, I announced on this program that I was going to commit public suicide, admittedly an act of madness. Well, I'll tell you what happened: I just ran out of bullshit. Am I still on the air? I really don't know any other way to say it other than I just ran out of bullshit. Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living. And if we can't think up any reasons of our own, we always have the God Bullshit. We don't know why we're going through all this pointless pain, humiliation, decay, so there better be someone somewhere who does know. That's the God Bullshit. And then, there's the noble man bullshit — that man is a noble creature that can order his own world. Who needs God? Well, if there's anybody out there that can look around this demented slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell me that man is a noble creature, believe me, that man is full of bullshit. I don't have anything going for me. I haven't got any kids. And I was married for 33 years of shrill, shrieking fraud. So I don't have any bullshit left. I just ran out of it, you see.
More from Morris the Cat Kenyan:
Morris went on to criticize the American people, who he said “are insensitive to foreign sensibilities, who are lazy, obese, complacent and increasingly perplexed as to why we are losing our place in the world to people who are more dynamic than us and more disciplined.”
So... like... the terrorists?  They do maintain more slim and toned bodies. Man, he just came out and called us fat! He ran out of bullshit!

UPDATE: My original link goes to Politico, which records Morris as saying "That’s a f----- up question!" But here's the video and, although the bleep is there, it seems that Morris said "That’s a bullshit question!"

That would correspond to what Marisa Tomei said:

Strangely, I was motivated to call bullshit on Morris and go on to discuss "bullshit" in that other movie ("Network").

New Wikileakage — "a secret chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world in an age of war and terrorism."

The NYT passes along the "brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats."
¶ Gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United States.
¶ Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in a group of detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”
Much more at the link.

Hey, thanks to the person who bought the Shun Ken Onion Serrated 5-Inch Utility Knife and used my Amazon search box.

That knife costs $139.95. I don't have a knife like this myself, but I assume the reader knew what he or she wanted. And my point — my sharp point — is that the reader didn't pay anything extra for that knife he wanted, but I'm getting $9.80 of that. Think how cool it is that you can compensate me for my writing here if you just remember — when you're going to Amazon anyway, to buy something that you want to buy — to begin your search at my blog:

You don't have to come back to this post to find the box. There's also an Amazon search box in the sidebar. I don't want to be too annoying doing posts like this, but I would really appreciate it if regular readers who want to encourage me had it in their heads to go to Amazon through this blog. It really does encourage me!

"I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement."

Cheating and enraging customers so they denounce you on the web... as a business model, thanks to Google.
Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales....

[T]he owner of DecorMyEyes might be more than just a combustible bully with a mean streak and a potty mouth. He might also be a pioneer of a new brand of anti-salesmanship — utterly noxious retail — that is facilitated by the quirks and shortcomings of Internet commerce and that tramples long-cherished traditions of customer service, like deference and charm.
The linked NYT article begins with a story about a businessman who sounds like has crossed the line into making frauds and threats. The scheme fails if you get arrested! So strain out the vivid example that bulks up the article and imagine a business that just has crappy products and nasty customer service. Would that play Google so well? Should Google be saving these eyeglass customers from their own failure to check out the business before they order? They'd easily find the complaints.

Now, one reason the eyeglass business is playing this negative game so well is that people are Googling the brand names of eyeglass frames, and the negative comments against the company talk about how they believe they didn't get the brand they ordered. They say they got fakes. Let's think about what's going on here. Who buys expensive brand-name eyeglasses without trying them on? I bet most of these customers have tried them on — in local eyeglass stores. Then, instead of paying the price the shopkeeper wants, they go to the web to find a better deal. At that point, they are doing a search for a particular brand name. They see the price and jump at the notion that the local shopkeeper is cheating them. Aha! They think they're being smart when they are being very dumb.

If you read far enough into the (long) article, you get to the part where the reporter — David Segal — interviews the businessman — a guy named Vitaly Borker:
“Look,” he says, grabbing an iPad off a small table. He types “Christian Audigier,” the name of a French designer, and “glasses” into Google. DecorMyEyes pops up high on the first page.

“Why am I there?” he asks, sounding both peeved and amazed. “I don’t belong there. I actually outrank the designer’s own Web site.”...

Despite the fear he has inspired, Mr. Borker doesn’t regard himself as a terror. He prefers to think of himself as the Howard Stern of online commerce — an outsize character prone to shocking utterances....

“People overreact,” he pshaws, often because they’re unaccustomed to plain speaking, New York-style. Anyway, he adds, if somebody messes with you, and you mess back, “how is that a threat?”...

“The customer is always right — not here, you understand?” he says, raising his voice. “I hate that phrase — the customer is always right. Why is the merchant always wrong? Can the customer ever be wrong? Is that not possible?”

The Christianist in the White House — he's President of Jesusland.

Instapundit turns the tables on the Democrats and, in the process links to a post I wrote 6 years ago — not because I was doing 6-years-ago political nostalgia yesterday, but because linking to an old post of mind called "About 'Jesusland'" was a way to get to Ken Layne's original "Jesusland" rantings (which are no longer to be found on his old website).
I've never had a problem with actual conservatives ... But I've got a big problem with Jesusland. If you want to worship the ghost of a jew from the Roman Empire, that's cool. Enjoy it! But when you people and your bizarre mystery cult claim the goddamned president as your prime convert who rules by the voices in his head, I call bullshit.
That's Ken, not me. I add some commentary that may or may not have relevance to present-day politics.


Bonus: Ben Folds sings "Jesusland." A nicely done video, which I'm linking rather than embedding because it starts with a commercial. I'm not sure what I think about that song. Something about a young guy looking judgmentally at his society seems pretentious and annoying... but isn't it that what Jesus did?