December 25, 2010

What did you get for Christmas?


I got ice skates...


... and the boys are in town.

"It's a hamburger wedged between two grilled cheese sandwiches."

1 of the 10 worst fast food products of 2010. And it's not the only grilled cheese-based one. There's also a grilled cheese sandwich with 4 fried mozzarella sticks inside.

"On behalf of the entire team here at the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas."

Least Christmassy Christmas email of the day.

Eat your Christmas tree.

"At my restaurant we use their needles as a spice. You can cook with a branch of spruce or fir as you would a sprig of rosemary or thyme. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if families gathered after Christmas, festively removed the decorations and then cut off the tasty needles of the tree to flavor their food?"

"O Holy Night"... over and over.

What's your favorite version? When have you had enough?

I was going to pretty much do exactly that post a couple days ago! But I never completely got my act together and now I've been scooped.

Ah, well... I did it with "Blue Christmas" in 2004, in the first Christmas on this blog, and things were much harder then... because we didn't have YouTube.

The traditional Althouse Christmas photograph.

Christmas 1953

(What we wore and how we looked in 1953.)

Merry Christmas!


December 24, 2010

Did you find your way home...


... for Christmas?

It's Grande Conservative Blogress Diva time again.

There are 16 nominees this year, including, once again, me.
Remember, to qualify as a conservative blogress diva, a nominee need only be a strong woman who commands the respect of gay male conservatives. She need not be conservative herself.
Get it, guys?

Christmas greetings!

A card from Palladian. Check out his cool sketchbook here.

The music...

... that died.

"But if the Volt appeals to you, my hunch is that you’re going to love it more than any car you’ve driven in years."

From the enigmatically written NYT rave review of the Chevy Volt. So... it's the kind of thing that people who like that kind of thing like.

How I learned to stop worrying and...

... love the global warming.

(Via Instapundit.)

There's a reason why you don't hear much talk on this subject. I'm tempted to say the reason is people don't really believe global warming is happening. But leave that to the side.

The reason is that when [IF!] global warming sets in, there will be winners and losers, and those who predict that they will win understand the value of circumspection and restraint. It's best for the Russians and the Canadians to keep quiet about the coming riches and pleasures. Don't prematurely rouse the future's losers. Global warming is a growling lamb. 

Go ahead. Argue with me. I'm ready for the malign blog war.

ADDED:  For the purposes of this discussion, assume global warming will occur.

If redistricting produces new Hispanic-majority districts, will that benefit Democrats?

It's a complicated set of variables, explained by Nate Silver. After the 2010 census, Texas will get 4 new districts, and under the Voting Rights Act, that might mean that 3 of them will need to be "majority minority" districts deliberately concentrating Hispanic voters. That seems as though it undercuts the idea that the GOP benefits from the new districts in the red state of Texas. But majority minority districts can hurt Democrats overall, even if the districts themselves easily and predictably yield a Democratic congressperson every single time.
If a new Democratic district is created, those Democrats must be taken from somewhere else. It is quite possible that in the process of creating one new Democratic district, two or more districts will be tipped toward Republicans.

The key is how efficiently each party’s voters are allocated. What a party would prefer is that, in the districts where it has a majority, that majority is as small as possible, so as not to waste any of its voters.... Conversely, in those districts where it didn’t have the majority, it would prefer to lose by as many votes as possible — in fact, it would prefer to have none of its voters there at all.

What a party wants to avoid, meanwhile, is districts where it has say 45 percent of the vote: it’s using up a fair number of its voters, but not enough to give it a majority. It would also like to avoid districts where it has close to 100 percent of the vote, since so many of those votes will be superfluous.
Silver is explaining how complicated it is, but he's actually also oversimplifying, because he's assuming each vote is either a Democrat or a Republican. But if you set up a district with 45% Republicans and 55% Democrats, the Republicans might be able to win with a relatively liberal candidate, especially if the Democrats had a candidate who leaned too far to the left. How safe do you want the district to be? If it's super-safe, you waste votes, but the narrower you make the margin, the more likely it is that the other party can swing enough of your party's voters to win.

How predictably Democratic are Hispanic voters? As Silver notes, they are not as locked in for the Democrats as are black voters. Silver says that's what makes Hispanic-majority districts more helpful to the Democrats than black majority districts: A majority minority district can be created without "wasting" as many Democratic votes. That only works, of course, if these Hispanic voters still go for the Democratic candidate.

Silver doesn't talk about the fact that the GOP controls the Texas legislature, so it will dominate the decisionmaking about where the district lines are drawn. It may be able to craft majority minority districts that have a close enough political balance to allow them to win, or it may be able to figure out how to pack the consistently Democratic voters into one district. It's a subtle game, and the parties have gotten really good at playing it over the years.

ADDED: Please note that I've expressed no opinion about whether the Voting Rights Act actually does require Texas to make 3 of the 4 new districts majority Hispanic. I assume there will be plenty of litigation over this.

"Washington's currency is power, and fashion helps to bring order to the power structure."

"Clothes provide the first hint of how we relate to one another and how seriously we should be taken. (Remember that, dear interns in your flip-flops and miniskirts.) Gentlemen may pull on a bespoke suit or rebel against that brand of traditionalism with rumpled jeans and T-shirts. Power is now a woman in a sleek sheath, not one in a frumpy suit and a pair of commuter sneakers."

Robin Givhan opines on fashion and Washington as she steps away from her fashion beat at the Washington Post (and into the more stylish Daily Beast). She thanks the Post and pleads for the importance of fashion writing — "fashion [can] provide a window on who we are... amid the frippery and parties, fashion is also business, politics, religion, sociology and ultimately, life." And she links to a few choice old items, going back as far as 1998 — I wish I were blogging then! — to a thing about Paula Jones:
She has smoothed the frizzy mane of curls that once reached to such dazzling heights. Her makeup is now subtle and based on natural, not neon, hues. Her clothing is inspired by the boardroom instead of the secretarial pool. She has embraced the markers of dignity, refinement and power.
So... the frumpy suit and not the sleek sheath? Funny how these "markers" get switched around, isn't it?
"I had been very aware of the horrible things the White House was saying about her. The main thing we looked at was what could we do to do away with all those things," says her California-based spokeswoman, Susan Carpenter-McMillan.

"She is not white trash," she says. "She is not a big-haired floozy."
Whatever the woman is, she needs to be the opposite. Do you have big hair and they're calling you a white-trash floozy? Get small hair! Wouldn't it be funny if men under attack made their big hair small or their small hair big and changed from — what would it be? — a conservative suit to a less conservative suit or a less conservative suit to a more conservative suit? Bill Clinton didn't alter his appearance when he got into trouble. (But see Al Gore.)

Tattoo OSU.

Terrelle Pryor and four of his Ohio State teammates will be suspended from the first five games of the 2011 season ... for first accepting discounted rates on tattoos and then letting that escalate into selling personal OSU memorabilia to the owner of a local tattoo parlor....

December 23, 2010

At the Pomegranate Café...


... you don't need to be so careful.

The Virgin Mary in Wisconsin.

Officially validated by the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1859, the year after Mary is said to have appeared in Lourdes, a Belgian immigrant here named Adele Brise said she was visited three times by Mary, who hovered between two trees in a bright light, clothed in dazzling white with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars above her flowing blond locks. As instructed, Ms. Brise devoted her life to teaching Catholic beliefs to children.

Jonah Goldberg identifies "24 people who are beneficiaries of nontrivial presidential buzz."

"Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John Thune, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, David Petraeus, Ron Paul, Jeb Bush, John Bolton, Bob McDonnell, Jim DeMint, Chris Christie, Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Judd Gregg, Marco Rubio, and Rick Perry."

He then whittles it down to:
Romney, Palin, Gingrich, Pawlenty, and Daniels. Romney is the organizational front-runner; Daniels is the first pick of wonks and D. C. eggheads; Palin probably has the most devoted following among actual voters; Gingrich will dominate the debates; and Pawlenty (vying with Daniels) is the least disliked.

Why won't the Obama say that polar bears are endangered and thus make it possible to use the Endangered Species Act to deal with global warming?

"U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan sent the [Bush administration's] controversial listing decision back to the Obama administration in October, asking officials to clarify the language the agency used when it determined that polar bears aren’t 'endangered' under federal law. Environmentalists ... had hoped that Obama administration officials would ... protections to the species."

I'm guessing that wasn't changed because polar bears aren't endangered and because using the Endangered Species Act to fight global warming is a bad idea.

Why is Obama's plan to close Guantanamo "in shambles"?

David Remes, lawyer for 14 detainees, says:
“From the outside it appears to be in shambles because he was never sufficiently committed to the success of his own plan and, as a result, Republicans were able to mobilize to turn the issue against him and he provided the Congressional Democrats no leadership.”
I'm guessing it's in shambles because Obama faced the reality that closing Guantanamo is a bad idea.

"Phallocracy, penocracy, jockocracy, cockocracy — call it whatever," Mary Daly fought it.

She's one of the dead-this-year individuals profiled in the NYT Magazine's annual "Lives They Lived" issue.
When Boston College became fully coeducational in 1971, Daly said she would no longer admit men into her classes, though if they showed genuine interest, she would tutor them privately. For the next 30 years, any time a man tried to register for one of her women’s studies or theology seminars, he was rebuffed. Men were a distraction, she felt. They sucked up the energy in a classroom. “I hear words like ‘separate’ and ‘equal,’ ” she told an interviewer. “I don’t care about those words. I want there to be women’s space, where there can be explosions of thought.”...

At speaking engagements, she refused to take questions from men, saying it was important for them to understand what it feels like to be voiceless and ignored. “There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard,” she wrote in “Outercourse,” her 1992 autobiography. “Let them rest assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imaginations, and that I will continue to do so.”

"This is pretty much proof that rock music is dead, right?"

"We're not gonna tell Nickelback to come back because all is forgiven, but this warm washcloth of facepalmy puns and cutey-poo pukulele might be why Captain Beefheart died."

(Also via ALOTT5MA.)

"The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English."

Click. Hey, for me, click is one of the most beautiful words. But the words on this list tend to be multisyllabic with aesthetically pleasing sounds: evanescent, efflorescence, effervescent, emollient.


The "Comeback Brands" of 2011.

According to Forbes. These are actual commercial brands. Not political stuff ... like the GOP.
“Consumers are not as optimistic,” says Miriam Quart, president of ad agency Madison Avenue Consortium. “They are looking back at the ‘good ol’ days.’ It’s a great time to work the nostalgia angle in advertising.” Instead of positioning traditional products as aspirational, several marketers hope to reconnect consumers with forgotten comfort brands.
And, supposedly, we feel like washing our hair with Pert and chowing down on Little Debbie cakes and Planter's peanuts.

"Steven Spielberg advising Nancy Pelosi on rebranding Democrats."

Okay. Here's an idea. Get all the other Democrats to wear black suits, and Nancy wears a red dress...

AND: Can somebody Photoshop John Boehner's face onto a shark? Make Barney Frank's finger light up?

How to get people to watch women's sports: "1. More singing.... 2. No more uniforms.... 3. More dating intrigue."

Joel Achenbach is using the hoary old tactic of trying to get a rise out of the feminists.
1. More singing. When U-Conn tips off against FSU with the all-time record on the line, we know that U-Conn is going to clobber the overmatched Seminoles. But what if the teams were also required to conduct a singing competition at halftime and, say, in the closing seconds? And they don't know if they'll have to do a hip-hop number or some country-and-western? Nothing but suspense.

2. No more uniforms. I am not suggesting nudity! I am suggesting that, rather than the players wearing identical outfits, they get to wear whatever they want, ideally clothes that they have personally made. And not even with real fabric, but with items purchased at, say, a hardware store! And this would be rated by judges. A player could have a rough night at the free throw line, making only three of ten shots, but she could still come out with extra points for having fashioned her outfit out of a heavy industrial tarp.

3. More dating intrigue. Break-ups, hook-ups, emotional anguish, betrayal, reconciliation. Friendships damaged and repaired. Gossip. Melodrama! Less emphasis on teamwork, more emphasis on the mating competition. If you can't steal the ball, maybe you can steal a boyfriend. Nothin' but viewers, my friends.

DeLynn Woodside, the Sharpie harpy.

"A 13-year-old boy was arrested Friday for using a permanent marker while in class at his Oklahoma City middle school, a violation of an obscure city ordinance. According to an Oklahoma City Police Department report, the boy was spotted 'in possession of a permanent marker' by Roosevelt Middle School teacher DeLynn Woodside. The 50-year-old educator told cop Miguel Campos that the student was 'writing on a piece of paper, which caused it to bleed over onto the desk.'"

The "unmitigated disaster" of Broadway's "Spiderman."

"'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,' the Broadway show currently in previews in New York, aspires to redefine the genre with music from Irish rocker Bono and death-defying aerial stuntwork."

It's been death-defying so far, but not injury-defying. When you're watching a movie, you know that if somebody died making that stunt, they wouldn't show it. Remember Brandon Lee?
The mysterious death of Bruce Lee's son was sure to achieve a cult status all its own. The story goes that actor Brandon Lee was shot on the set of his final film, The Crow, in the middle of filming a scene; and that his death was left in the final cut of the movie....

Brandon Lee was indeed shot while filming. It was a tragic accident involving a gun firing blanks. A fragment of a dummy bullet, from a previous scene, was lodged in the gun and fired into Lee, fatally wounding him. Some mystery remains surrounding the film of the incident, with some saying it was destroyed, and others saying it was confiscated by police. It was not used in the movie. The scene was rewritten and reshot using a double, and the manner of his death is different than what happened in the fatal accident.
But if someone gets killed in a live-theater stunt, the audience witnesses the death. It's supposed to be part of the entertainment that the stunts look risky, but if you are not confident that the actors and stuntmen are perfectly safe, deriving pleasure from watching that feels wrong — or it should. And taking a child to the show becomes utterly unacceptable.

Which raises other questions: Why are Broadway shows aimed at children in the first place? Why did they move into the special-effects/adolescent domain that movies dominate? Remember when theater was aimed at adults, and the more snobbish adults would look down on things like "Carousel" and "South Pacific" as too middle-brow? Now, the heights of "Carousel" and "South Pacific" seem unreachable — except in revivals of "Carousel" and "South Pacific."

Broadway, it's all wreckage.

Shouldn't we have more respect and reverence for the President of the United States?

That's the question raised in this NPR segment:
[D]oes our increasingly informal relationship with the man in the White House — not just President Obama, but any sitting president — diminish our respect for the man and reverence for the office? Should we leave the uncovering of private and behind-closed-doors habits to the historians?...

Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University, believes there are pros and cons to having Too Much Information. "Knowing too much about a president makes them seem more human, but it certainly detracts from some of the prestige that Americans once held for the office," says Zelizer. "If the president is too much like us ... we have more trouble developing respect for the officeholder and we start to find fault, too easily, about issues that don't really matter."
I thought the American tradition was disrespecting authority. I can't remember a President who wasn't disrespected. (And I can remember back to Eisenhower.) Disrespecting authority is a check on power. When I hear journalists, historians, and other purported experts promoting reverence for the President, I suspect them of having the political agenda of increasing his power. Did NPR and that Princeton history enthuse about reverence for authority when George W. Bush was President?


The 2012 presidential campaign season has begun and the usual media outlets are shoring up President Obama. I'm seeing many articles this week touting the President's amazing achievements in 2010.

We were already "more naked, as a nation, than we've ever been" — which is why we're accepting the airport naked-body scanners.

Asserts Libby Copeland:
We are more naked, as a nation, than we've ever been. We are forever baring our souls, revealing the mundane and the sacred. We are naked in our curiosity about the semi-famous and the strange, we are naked in our aspirations (to be semi-famous, even for something strange), we are naked online - or, at least, considerably more exposed than we tend to realize.

All of which may help explain why most Americans seem unconcerned about those full-body airport scanners, the ones that see under your clothes. In an existential sense, we are used to this sort of thing. Go on, take a gander, we seem to be saying. We have nothing to hide.
So if I choose to reveal myself in various ways, I will accept someone else forcing me to reveal myself? That's like the old and much-maligned argument that if a woman is sexually active, then raping her isn't such a serious crime — and that it's impossible to rape a prostitute.

"Now Might Be A Really Great Time (For Republicans) To Weaken The Filibuster."


December 22, 2010

Pat Robertson: "I'm not exactly for the use of drugs, don't get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana..."

"... criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it's just, it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That's not a good thing."

At the Winter Sky Café...


... it's getting warmer and the light is breaking through.

"No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie..."

"... or look over their shoulder in order to serve the country that they love."

Says Barack Obama, signing the repeal of the odious Clinton-era legislation known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

It's shameful that it's taken so long, and I have previously commented on Obama's lackluster efforts in this area. It remains to be seen how well he will do truly implementing the end to discrimination against gay people in the military, but today's signing is a step along the way, and it deserves acknowledgment.
The law will not actually change until the Pentagon certifies to Congress that the military has met several conditions, including education and training programs for the troops.

"In the coming days, we will begin the process laid out by this law" to implement the repeal, Obama said. Meanwhile, he cautioned, "the old policy remains in effect." But he pledged that all the service chiefs are "committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently," and he vowed, "We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done."
I'll be watching those feet.

"When I thought my dogs and I were having deep, meaningful conversations, I knew it was time to get out of the house."

"And I needed the money."

Huckabee takes sides in the Michelle v. Sarah food fight.

Sarah Palin took a very gentle shot at Michelle Obama... on the subject of dessert:
In her TLC show Sarah Palin's Alaska, the former GOP vice presidential nominee is seen opening cupboards in search of chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers, asking "Where are the s'mores ingredients?"

"This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert," Palin said.
Mike Huckabee, famously once quite fat and actually pretty fat again, opined:
“With all due respect to my colleague and friend Sarah Palin, I think she's misunderstood what Michelle Obama is trying to do... Michelle Obama's not trying to tell people what to eat or not trying to force the government's desires on people... She’s stating the obvious, that we do have an obesity problem in this country."
Well, he's not running for President against Michelle Obama. He's running (potentially) against Sarah Palin. Ironically, Sarah Palin is the one who's thin.

Now... is it true that Michelle Obama isn't "trying to tell people what to eat" and "not trying to force the government's desires on people"? Is it true that she's only "stating the obvious, that we do have an obesity problem in this country"? I don't know why Michelle Obama looks better if she's simply "stating the obvious" fact that there are a lot of fat people in this country. If it's so obvious, why point it out? And it's rude to do nothing more that point out that people are fat.

Here's Michelle Obama looming over some little boy as Barack Obama signs the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Looming large. You decide what's obvious. Or ask Huck, the arbiter of obvious. I just want to note that this bill seems to be about telling people what to eat and forcing the government's desires on people. (Forcing the government's desires on people? That sounds weirdly rape-y.)
But as the school-nutrition bill evolved, the first lady became involved in the sometimes messy world of legislative sausage-making to help push it through. 
This government that forces its desires on us pushes through with a messy sausage. Yikes. The imagery. Avert your eyes.

Anyway, what's in that bill? It's not about telling us what to eat? The linked article says it "will set national nutritional standards for public schools, boost funding for low-income meal programs and advance [Barack Obama's] wife’s campaign against childhood obesity." And in those "national nutritional standards," do the kids get s'mores or not? I don't know, but I see that as Obama signed the bill, he said:
“Not only am I very proud of the bill... but had I not been able to get this passed, I would be sleeping on the couch.”
Is it cool for the President to pose as pussy-whipped?

What do you think of Ron Reagan's "My Father at 100"?

I'm noticing this book because Instapundit did one of his "IN THE MAIL" posts that acknowledge the receipt of a free book but express no opinion. Sending one free book is a frightfully cheap way to buy publicity. I get free books, but I wouldn't post about them unless I took the time to form some kind of opinion about them, and sending me a free book is a frightfully cheap way to buy my time, the time it would take to form an opinion of a book.

But I don't even need to look beyond the author and title of Ron Reagan's "My Father at 100" to form an opinion. It annoys me. I've seen too much — not all that much — TV commentary by Ron Reagan to want to read a book he wrote about the iconic conservative President. Example:
Reagan: My father knew what he stood for, you can agree with it or disagree with it, he knew how -- what he stood for, he could explain what he stood for. He was conversant in domestic and foreign policy -- [Sarah Palin is] neither! She can't explain where she stands on anything!

Geller: Your father would love her, and frankly I don't think you can speak for your father, because you -- you don't even espouse --

Reagan: No, Pam, actually, have you ever met my father, Pam? Pam, did you ever meet my father?... Did you ever meet my father? I'm asking you a simple question. You can't answer that because the answer is no. So why don't you rely on someone who knew him very well to tell you what he would think of Sarah Palin.
Yes, the 100th anniversary of his birth is an occasion, an excuse, but the birthdayness of it also says: twaddle.

"Stalin vouches for renewable energy."

A headline.

"No, I wasn’t contacted or interviewed or given any opportunity to opine on any of it, including having my seven-year-old daughter’s picture in the paper."

"The primary story here is not that interesting... People lie and cheat and steal all the time. That’s a fact of life. But rarely does a national news organization give them an unverified megaphone to whitewash it."

Forbes interviews the husband of that woman who had her wedding story told in the New York Times. We talked about the NYT story yesterday, and (my husband) Meade, in the comments there, draws attention to the quotes that I'm using here.
[Bob Ennis, former husband of TV reporter Carol Anne Riddell], now head of the digital media practice at the investment bank Petsky Prunier, did not have a high opinion of the Times even before this incident. “I’m happy if they spell all the headlines on the front page correctly,” he says. “The idea that they’d fact-check a style story — I don’t think that’s incumbent on them. But there’s a difference between that and publishing a choreographed, self-serving piece of revisionist history for two people who are both members of the media industry.”
Oh! I love how this is turning into a Forbes vs. NYT journalism showdown — with the help of the jilted husband, who's got the help of Forbes now, getting his side of the marriage breakdown into the national press. 
Although his ex-wife said she and her new husband volunteered to tell their story to the “Vows” column partly “for our kids’ sakes,” Ennis says he is angry primarily because of the effect he sees this episode having on those same kids. 
Right. Don't forget the kids. Everyone is premising his/her self-serving statements on the kids now.
“These folks are well within their rights to tell whatever version of reality they want to tell, and if The New York Times is gullible enough to print it, that mostly reflects poorly on the Times,” he says. “The picture of my daughter is another matter. I sure as hell would have objected if they had told me they were going to print it.”
Which one is his daughter? Is it the sad-faced girl with the bow in her hair in profile at the right-hand side of the photograph? Look at her and think about how she might feel as she gazes at the brown wedding-cake about to be put asunder by the gleaming knife gripped by her outreaching mother whose hand is overclasped  by the (diamond?) ring-wearing paw of her new husband, the erst-while friend of her parents, whom she's long known as the dad of her kid-friends, who are now strangely intruded into the confusing, ever-changing zone that bears the label "family."

Or is his daughter the sweet little child in the husband's arms? Imagine how her father's heart aches to see that man with one hand grasping his daughter's rear and the other hand grasping his ex-wife's hand and, inside that, a knife. The new husband and wife are performing wedding theater for the NYT photographer, and they don't know that the frame the Times will select is the one where their smiles look like predatory grimaces and everyone else in the photograph looks like they belong at a funeral.
“Maybe The New York Times has forgotten, but New York can still be a dangerous town for children of wealthy people. I want to find out from the Times how that occurred and I will expect some sort of response and if I don’t get one I’ll take further measures to achieve one.”
Ugh, the stink of a threatened lawsuit drifts into the room. But don't worry: It's for the children.


And don't miss the extra photograph at the original NYT story. The woman's long-clawed hand drapes over the shoulder of her conquered beast, who seems drained of life force. His ring-wearing hand lies limply on the table next to a drained bottle of beer. In the original story, when he told her he loved her, she knocked a beer "into his lap" — that is, onto his genitals. The liquids have all spilled out, and the phallic symbols are empty.

December 21, 2010

"Hallelujah Chorus" flashmob fiasco.

"... as they burst into song, there were reports that the building's floor began to move and creak, and witnesses reported hearing popping sounds."

Settle in!


The table's all set up for you.

I love seeing these shoes get the respect and status of the Sartorialist presentation.

Dansko clogs.

(Buy them here.)

Arlen Specter accuses John Roberts and Samuel Alito of violating the oath they took at their confirmation hearings.

The former Republican, on the way out of the Senate, thinks this is worth saying:
"The Supreme Court has been eating Congress' lunch by invalidating legislation with judicial activism after nominees commit under oath in confirmation proceedings to respect congressional fact finding and precedents...

"Ignoring a massive congressional record and reversing recent decisions, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito repudiated their confirmation testimony given under oath and provided the key votes to permit corporations and unions to secretly pay for political advertising — thus effectively undermining the basic Democratic principle of the power of one person, one vote...  Chief Justice Roberts promised to just call balls and strikes and then he moved the bases."
Bleh. You just disagree with the call.  I hate this sort of political posturing. It's not the massiveness of the congressional record that makes a statute constitutional. It's fitting within the Constitution.

Specter is acting as if the question at the confirmation hearing was: If we put a really, really huge number of words into the record, do you promise to let us do anything we want? And the answer was: Yes, of course. When I see a lot of pages, I always think, wow, that must be true.

Sit down on the plush white upholstery...


... and talk a while.

"Cornel West cries out to be Auto-Tuned."

(Clip chosen for highlighting by Bloggingheads.)

(I love the hand-gesture.)

"He bounds into a room... He doesn’t walk in, he explodes in."/"She’s such a force... She rocks back and forth on her feet as if she can’t contain her energy as she’s talking to you."

The story of their marrying is told in the NYT "Vows" column, but both of them already had spouses when they fell in love. So why did the NYT present their story as if it were something to be celebrated? Or is the "Vows" column more complex than that." Okay. First, let's look at some of the details of the story:
The connection was immediate, but platonic. In fact, as they became friends so did their spouses. There were dinners, Christmas parties and even family vacations together.

So [Carol Anne] Riddell was surprised to find herself eagerly looking for [John] Partilla at school events — and missing him when he wasn’t there. “I didn’t admit to anyone how I felt,” she said. “To even think about it was disruptive and disloyal.”

Ms. Riddell said she remembered crying in the shower, asking: “Why am I being punished? Why did someone throw him in my path when I can’t have him?”

In May 2008, Mr. Partilla invited her for a drink at O’Connell’s, a neighborhood bar. She said she knew something was up, because they had never met on their own before.

“I’ve fallen in love with you,” he recalled saying to her. She jumped up, knocking a glass of beer into his lap, and rushed out of the bar. Five minutes later, he said, she returned and told him, “I feel exactly the same way.”
Before sleeping together, they told their spouses, and Partilla considered himself to be doing the "terrible thing as honorably as I could." Partilla then, as the NYT phrased it  "moved out of his home, reluctantly leaving his three children." Then he came back, then left, back and forth, feeling lots of "pain."
The pain he had predicted pervaded both of their lives as they faced distraught children and devastated spouses, while the grapevine buzzed and neighbors ostracized them.

“He said, ‘Remind me every day that the kids will be O.K.,’ ” Ms. Riddell recalled. “I would say the kids are going to be great, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives making it so.”
Riddell "came to realize" that her predicament "wasn’t a punishment, it was a gift." And in this framing of the tale, the heroine needed to "earn" the gift. How? By being "brave enough to hold hands and jump."

There are 139 comments over at the NYT, many of them very critical of the Times:
Why does the Times glorify home-wrecking? Is it a sign of our times that personal responsibility to one's spouse and children takes a back seat to selfish, self-centered love....

The notions of "Vows" has a deliciously ironic depth of meaning here - the ones they made, but the ones they felt less compelled to honor. I doubt very much there's not more than what is related here - What a rationalization as to why it's OK to "befriend" another family then break up two in one shot. "It was just love!" Methinks it's the selfishness that's big and noisy!
They not only broke up their own families. They broke up the big friendship that had interwoven the 2 families. The left-behind spouses not only trusted their own partner, they also believed that, together with that partner, they enjoyed a great friendship with a wonderful couple and their kids. All those memories of social times spent together are now to be understood in a new way.

Forbes has a story about the controversy:
In addition to strong condemnation from numerous bloggers and many of the paper’s own commenters, the article, as a first of sorts for the Times, invited a number of questions. Why were the ex-spouses of the newlyweds not mentioned by name in the story? Did the reporter call them for comment, as basic journalistic practice would dictate? Why did the Times open up the comment board when most Vows stories are off-limits? And above all, what were the couple thinking in telling their story in a space normally reserved for feel-good, soft-focus meet-cute tales?

“We did this because we just wanted one honest account of how this happened for our sakes and for our kids’ sakes,” Riddell told me. “We are really proud of our family and proud of the way we’ve handled this situation over the past year. There was nothing in the story we were ashamed of.”

Riddell says the backlash is “sort of surprising to me. I think people are focusing a lot on the negative, but there was a lot of positive.” But, she notes, “we’ve had a lot of people say to us how brave we are to do this, how commendable it was that we were as honest as we were.” 
The things people will say... to your face.
So did the story’s author, Devan Sipher, seek comment from the exes?... [A] Times spokeswoman says, “We do not comment on the process of editing and reporting including who was and was not contacted for interviews related to a specific story. The Vows/Wedding column adheres to the standards of the Times.” The paper’s Weddings/Celebrations editor, Robert Woletz, did not return a message; nor did the exes, who, like their former spouses, both have high-level jobs in the media industry. (In both cases, the first marriage was also written up in the Times.)
That's all very complex. But I'm happy with the notion that the Times writes up marriage stories because they raise interesting issues. Happy families are all alike. Who wants to read about them?

"U.S. population grew 9.7% in the past decade to 308,745,538, the slowest rate since the Great Depression."

CNN emails "breaking news."

ADDED: So who gains and who loses congressional seats?
By that new count, Texas will gain four seats, Florida will gain two, while New York and Ohio each lose two. Fourteen other states gained or lost one seat. The gainers included Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah, and the losers included Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey....

Mr. Obama won eight of the nine states that are expected to lose seats, including Illinois, New York and Ohio. And of the eight states that were expected to gain one seat or more, five were carried by the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona.

While Republicans will see their biggest and most lasting political gains in the House of Representatives, the landscape for the next presidential race will add another layer of complication to Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign. The battleground state of Florida, which he carried in 2008, will become even more critical to his efforts to win a second term and to Republican attempts to defeat him.

"You know what 'Survivor' is like? It's like marriage with the guarantee that you will divorce."

Things overheard at Meadehouse. 

Wait. It needs some tweaking. It's like marriage with the guarantee that you will divorce, and one partner will get all the assets.

"That snow outside is what global warming looks like."

"Unusually cold winters may make you think scientists have got it all wrong. But the data reveal a chilling truth."

When everything is evidence of the thing you want to believe, it might be time to stop pretending you're all about science.

"Manchin stands by skirting votes."

Stands by skirting.

Are you distracted by language the way I am? Stands by skirting... It's like...  sits by pantsing... runs by shortsing....

And... while I'm at it... Manchin is a good name for a powerful masculine character. The feminine equivalent might be... Ladyfingers.

Secretary Ladyfingers sits by pantsing.

"In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks: ... And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy."

A book title... on the list of things readers have bought via my Amazon portal...

Now, I'm doing a search inside that book — it's by Adam Corolla — and — what can I look for? — shorts! What does Corolla have to say about men in shorts?
When the Patriot Act cam back in the news in 2005, every single one of my faggoty, lefty Hollywood friends squealed like a stuck pig. "I don't want the government eavesdropping on my e-mail exchanges or listening in on my cell-phone conversations." Everyone had their cargo shorts in a bunch over it. I was the only one I knew who was like, "Hey, Agent Double-O Douchebag, if the government intercepts any of your e-mails all they're going to find out is that you're not funny. And how about spending a little less time worrying about the government and a little more time focusing on your narcissistic disorder, the one that leads you to believe the government actually gives a shit about you."
It's dangerous for a comedian to do a riff about how other people are not funny. He'd better be seriously funny at that point or he's asking for it.

Anyway, cargo shorts... wear them, guys, to walk toward the future in which you will all be chicks.

December 20, 2010

"The Pledge to America released by House Republicans in September of this year included a commitment to 'require every bill to cite its specific Constitutional Authority.'"

"To implement this proposal, the Transition Team and the Elected Republican Leadership are recommending a change to standing Rules of the House to require that each bill or joint resolution introduced in the House be accompanied by a statement citing the specific powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the proposed law."

Madison, Wisconsin is the best city for men... and Plano, Texas is the best for women.

I know.... What the hell?

At the Monochrome Café...


... all the trees are black, and the sky is gray.

"For me, I will often see a calendar in my head, and it's usually a month at a time."

"When I hear the date, it's like my brain immediately goes to a position on a calendar and once I locate it, I see what happened instantly."

Choir from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University covers “Bed Intruder Song” as X-mas carol.

(Via Bloggingheads.)

Here's the original. Kinda puts Santa in a different light doesn't it? He's climbing in your windows....

ADDED: "The Bed Intruder Song" has a long Wikipedia entry.
Critical reception

... Jason King, a music professor at NYU was quoted by NPR as saying "It's catchy. It has a really good hook, but it's problematic, too. There's a way in which the aesthetics of black poverty—the way they talk and they speak and they look — sort of becomes this fodder for humor without any interest in the context of the conditions in which people actually live." Baratunde Thurston of The Onion told NPR:
"As the remix took off, I became increasingly uncomfortable with its separation from the underlying situation. A woman was sexually assaulted and her brother was rightfully upset. People online seemed to be laughing at him and not with him (because he wasn't laughing), as Dodson fulfilled multiple stereotypes in one short news segment. Watching the wider Web jump on this meme, all but forgetting why Dodson was upset, seemed like a form of ‘class tourism.’ Folks with no exposure to the projects could dip their toes into YouTube and get a taste. [...] The creativity unleashed has been amazing, and what mitigates my fears of people minimizing the gravity of the situation is how Antoine himself has responded and taken charge of his own meme."
The original interviewee, Antoine Dodson also has a Wikipedia entry. He was chosen "Meme of the Year" in the 2010 Urlie awards. Here's a Washington Post piece declaring that Dodson "is one of the strongest people we’ve seen in a while," that he has "an inner strength that is worthy of awe and respect."

With the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," where will the gay rights movement go?

The New York Times reports on a Media Matters project called Equality Matters.
It will be run by Richard Socarides, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton who has been deeply critical of President Obama’s record on gay rights. A well-known gay journalist, Kerry Eleveld, the Washington correspondent for The Advocate, will leave that magazine in January to edit the new group’s Web site,, which is to go online Monday morning.

“Yesterday was a very important breakthrough,” Mr. Socarides said... “But we will celebrate this important victory for five minutes, and then we have to move on, because we are the last group of Americans who are discriminated against in federal law and there is a lot of work to do.”
Yes, there's the obvious issue of marriage, and one might want a federal statute forbidding employment discrimination.  All right. Fine. But let's look a little farther into the future and think about the political repercussions. What would happen to the gay rights movement if the specific discrimination ended and ordinary legal equality were achieved?

Right now, gay people look to the Democratic Party (and to judges appointed by Democratic Presidents) to get these basic rights. The Democratic Party gets a political advantage by looking like a repository of hope. But would gay people continue to favor Democrats if the Democrats actually followed through and satisfied those hopes? There'd be some gratefulness, but — unless Republicans succumb to the temptation to say mean things — wouldn't gay people melt into the general population and, from that point on, vote based on what they thought about economic policies, national defense, environmental issues and so forth? Achieving equality would liberate gay people in may ways, but one of those ways would be that they could vote for Republicans if they agreed with them about issues other than gay rights issues.

Ironic, no?

"Without a soundtrack, human interaction is meaningless."

"I once spent an evening chatting about the complexity of modern relationships with a male acquaintance, his ex-girlfriend, and her roommate. When I went to bed that night, I thought our conversation had been wonderful. Twelve hours later, I was informed that the ex-girlfriend spent the entire evening 'in a rage,' apparently becasue the other male in our foursome had been 'brooding and surly,' creating a tension that subsequently made the ex-girlfriend's roommate 'completely uncomfortable' with the nature of our dialogue. I never noticed any of this. .I never have any idea how people feel; they always appear fine to me. But if somebody had pointedly played Pat Benatars 'Love is a Battlefield' that night, I'm sure I could have constructed some empathy."

From Chuck Klosterman's  "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto" (comparing the TV shows "Big Brother" and "The Real World")

Nina Totenberg: "I Was At – Forgive the Expression – a Christmas Party at the Department of Justice...."

Brent Baker at NewsBusters does not understand why Totenberg said "forgive the expression." In his headline, he uses the same quote I've used in my headline, but he puts the ellipsis 5 words before I've put mine.

Have I made my point or do I need some more words?
More words. I don't get it. I'm as confused as Baker purports to be.
More words. Like Baker, I'm itching for a battle in the War on Christmas.
Say no more. You're hostile to Christianity. Like Baker, I get it.
Say no more. I understand the problem that Totenberg acknowledged with a friendly light touch.
Say no more. I understand the problem that elites like you and Totenberg like to trump up. free polls

ADDED: I can't say "say no more" without thinking of this.

Randy Barnett declines to "violate the well-mannered spirit of C-SPAN."

Should he "just have jumped in" to get his points across about the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate?

December 19, 2010

At the White Tree Café...


... you can talk 'til dawn.

"When I was trying to live as a man, I was in conflict with God..."

"... and only by living as the woman I was created to be am I in harmony with God."

Jeff Probst analyzes the odds for tonight's big "Survivor" finale.

Video. And hang out here and talk if you're watching the show.

I'm for Fabio!

"I've been texting for a year with a couple of guys without ever going on a date with them."

"The other day I got a text from a boy, but it wasn't hot. I mean, if you're going to text me every day, you haven't seen me for months and you're trying to seduce me, you'd better spice up that text and make it more exciting than 'How was your day? I hope you're having a beautiful one.' Sadly, I haven't been doing a lot of kissing lately."

Chloe Sevingny.


Butterscotch Krimpets.

For me, this is — by far — the #1 most-nostalgia-provoking cake in the world. What kind of packaged cake did you grow up with? Hostess? Little Debbie? Drake's? Entenmann's? Sara Lee? My hometown cake is TastyKake!

What's your childhood packaged cake?
Little Debbie
Sara Lee free polls

What are the chances you'd prefer that cake to the next piece of cake someone serves you?
more than 50%
less than 50%
0% or close to 0 free polls

I have to go Christmas shopping.

Wait a minute.

No. I have to go skiing.

(I am loving Amazon Primefor 2-day shipping! Instead of trying to collect everything into an order big enough to qualify for free shipping and ordering early enough to get things in time, I can order one little thing — seriously, I just bought a wooden spoon — and get it shipped in 2 days, free.)

(And when you use the search box here — and also, always in the sidebar — you will be making a contribution to me — something like 8% of your purchase price — without paying any extra for your item. It is much appreciated. I thank all my readers who think of me and make a contribution to my writing this way when they have some shopping they need to do.)

Drama queen rhetoric of the week.

The nominees are:

1. Joe Klein: "The Senate ... did not pass the 'Dream Act,' which is a cold, cold abomination." Not just cold, but cold, cold. It's not just the exaggeration that wins Klein a nomination. It's the witless, unintentional ambiguity. He doesn't mean to say that the act was the abomination.

2. John McCain: "Today's a very sad day. The commandant of the United States Marine Corps says when your life hangs on the line, you don't want anything distracting. . . . I don't want to permit that opportunity to happen and I'll tell you why. You go up to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Marines are up there with no legs, none. You've got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs." And that's it. The speech suddenly ends there, and — as Dana Milbank puts it in the Washington Post — he "turned and, without another word, walked into the cloakroom." (Note the irony that the staunch opponent of homosexuals is the one who enters the cloakroom/closet.) McCain's argument against gay people in the military is that there are Marines who have have lost limbs. Don't you get it? Perhaps now that DADT is dead, a Marine with no legs — none! —  will speak up and with quiet dignity inform us that he is gay. What will John McCain say then? "I'm sorry"?

And the award goes to...
McCain free polls

Moving the "Ground Zero mosque" to Greenwich Village.

A cool new idea from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Makes sense to me!

I need to do some year-end type features for this blog, like Althouse's Biggest Flip-Flop.

I'm surprise to even see that I wrote this. Man, nobody called me on that, back when I was a big 1-issue voter in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race. Looking at the comments over on that first post, I'm thinking maybe you guys flipped me!

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grew out her hair."

"It was a fine rebuke to the accepted adage that a woman of a certain age must cut her hair - a symbolic gesture that she is leaving sex appeal and youthful flirtatiousness behind. Clinton's flattering shoulder-length style was a reminder to women who have unhappily submitted to the scissors that they should not allow cultural assumptions to dictate their own perceptions about themselves."

Writes Robin Givhan, collecting the "Best of 2010" items (from her fashion beat). Now, why did Hillary grow her hair out"? ("Grow your hair out" is a funny expression. It's not as if you can grow your hair in. I mean, ingrown hairs aside.) Did she grow her hair to express her perception about herself or to remind other women that they need not adopt the culture's assumptions about themselves? Was she trying to say — via hair — I think I'm sexy or you older women ought to feel that you're sexy and say it with hair? I think she was copying Sarah Palin.

But Sarah is quite a bit younger than Hillary, and the same thing looks different with an older face (and the texture of an older person's hair is different). If you really want to say that long hair on a woman over the age of 60 says sexy, then show us some examples of women that old who look sexier because of their long hair. Or is the point only how you subjectively feel. You don't actually look sexier with that long hair, but we know that it seems that way to you — though maybe signaling that you believe you're sexy is enough to make you look sexier.

But come on! Hillary isn't trying to say I'm sexy. She's trying to say I'm trustworthy and highly competent. Perhaps she's succeeded — look.

Congress repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," but — look! — ooh! — It's a baby!

Here's the CNN home page a 11:46 p.m. EST, on the day that Congress repealed the odious old Clinton-era legislation:

So, a woman has a baby. That's the main thing. Secondarily, there's North Korea. And "Dont miss" the fact that C.S. Lewis is still popular, there's a lot of Christmas trash, and geeks are "cooler than nerds." In the fine print, the DADT repeal is listed under "Latest news," after a "moderate" earthquake in Indonesia and before the fact that it's been cold in Europe.

Screen shot by Chris Althouse Cohen, who asks "How can some woman giving birth vaginally two weeks ago be a bigger story than Don't Ask Don't Tell being repealed?"

Well, I think you nailed it. Key word: vaginally. Don't worry, America. Vaginas!