January 1, 2011

The Rose Bowl.

Watch with us. The pregame show is on now, and a panoramic view of the stadium shows it's about 70% red.

UPDATE 1: J.J. Watt says: "A bowl game isn't a vacation for us. It's not a chance for us to enjoy Disneyland. We're going down to Pasadena to win a football game against a great football team in TCU."

I love the way the football players have learned/been taught to say just the right thing. That sportsmanship stuff. I find it sweet. Touching.

J.J. Watt is Meade's favorite player. Keep an eye on him.

UPDATE 2: "I think I forgot to look at the clock," says the incredibly lame announcer who was so busy promoting other ESPN shows that he didn't notice that there was barely enough time to kick a field goal. There was no analysis of the strategy and the clock didn't even appear on screen at one point until suddenly they showed there were 8 seconds left and the announcer made his embarrassing admission.

UPDATE 3: It's a close football game, but we clearly won halftime. The UW Marching Band looked great. Meanwhile, the announcers do nothing to try to get to an explanation of why no time outs were called.

UPDATE 4: Okay, we lost. Let's listen to Erin Andrews, female sportscaster, getting up close and personal with Gary Patterson, the TCU coach — pushing that microphone right up into his face — saying, "You're getting very emotional now." Patterson's all: "I can't tell you how much I love my guys." She's extracting the emotion. "Emotion" is her word. "Tell me what your emotions were when you saw the deflection when they were trying to go for 2 points to tie this thing up." He says: "It was 'oh, my goodness' and then 'yes.'" Who knew football coach emotions sounded like that? Oh, my goodness. How did the vocalization of your emotions sound when you saw that deflection? Did you keep it as squeaky clean as a football coach talking to the lady sportscaster?

Meade sees a new bird.

"You really don't know what it is?"


"Is it big?"

"I've seen bigger."

"You've seen an ostrich."


Is your partner helping you with your "self-expansion"?

It's the secret to a happy marriage, according to some experts:
While the notion of self-expansion may sound inherently self-serving, it can lead to stronger, more sustainable relationships, [says Professor Gary W. Lewandowski Jr.,].

“If you’re seeking self-growth and obtain it from your partner, then that puts your partner in a pretty important position,” he explains. “And being able to help your partner’s self-expansion would be pretty pleasing to yourself.”

The concept explains why people are delighted when dates treat them to new experiences, like a weekend away. But self-expansion isn’t just about exotic experiences. Individuals experience personal growth through their partners in big and small ways. It happens when they introduce new friends, or casually talk about a new restaurant or a fascinating story in the news.
Introducing you to a fascinating story in the news? The secret to happiness is, perhaps, marrying a blogger!

Pictured on the front page of the NYT: "Scott Walker, the governor elect, brings his lunch to work."

It's not still on the front page. That was a few hours ago. A nice image of Walker, don't you think? Flattering because he's eating lunch at his desk. It's not conventionally flattering to catch the bald spot like that, but it's politically flattering to have him bending over his work. (On the other hand, what's the big deal? I eat lunch while working almost every day. Don't you? Breakfast too, and often dinner. But I like to see my public servant working, and it's nice of the NYT to offer political support to a new governor who doesn't represent the newspaper's political preference.

Here's the article:
Mr. Walker, who has said publicly that he hopes to force public employees’ wages and benefits “into line” with everyone else’s, urged leaders against the session, saying he needed “maximum flexibility” to handle the state’s coming budgets, but Democrats argued that the contracts were not particularly beneficial to workers anyway (they included no raises and furlough time that amounted to a pay cut)....

State workers here are predicting a flood of retirements by those who will not want to bear the uncertainty of it all, and particularly the prospect of shrinking pension benefits. Some employees were already talking about moving elsewhere, getting new jobs, retiring.
I'm one of those state employees. Should I retire? (I'll be 60 on January 12th.) Is that the way to get while the getting is good?

Meade is watching the Rose Bowl.

The 1999 Rose Bowl is on TV, and he's watching.

'11 is so eleventy....


... here in Madison, Wisconsin.

"They go out and see all these new condos that have them... and it plants a seed in their head."

"Them" = a washer and dryer.
Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel, the appraisal company, said that “while there is no known empirical data to reliably measure this amenity,” a washing machine can add as much as 5 percent to an apartment’s price tag.

“It is the ultimate convenience,” said Doug Steinberg, whose one-bedroom condo, at 315 Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, is now on the market for $739,000. The apartment, No. 7B, has its own laundry tucked behind a louvered door, with shelves for detergent and towels.
5% of $739,000 is $36,950.

It's so hard to live in New York City. You need to be rich to have such ordinary things. (It's tough going to a laundromat, but sometimes that's what you have to do.)

Young Ezra Klein found himself in a strange predicament.

He'd said something utterly banal. It's what everyone around him has been saying for years. He must have expected that people would either ignore him or shrug him off as a man with no original or interesting ideas. And suddenly he's getting derided, called an idiot or worse. How can that happen?!

The banal thing was that reading the text of the Constitution doesn't get you to the answers to the difficult questions that arise today. The text must be interpreted, and political preferences will tend to pull people along toward the interpretation they want.

Don Surber says (via Instapundit):
Ezra Klein made the biggest mistake that can be made by a liberal — progressive — socialist — communist — no labelist — whatever the heck they call themselves on the 31st of the month.

He was being honest.

He does not believe in the Constitution.

He is cynical about it and he projects that same cynicism onto those who disagree with him.
Now, Klein walked right into that criticism. He stated the banality with an off-handed, wise-guy flippancy. That was red meat for the kind of conservative who likes to stress the constitutional text.

And now we see the value of this notion of reading the text out loud on the House floor. It sets up a trap for people like Klein to say things that let conservatives — like Don Surber — rail against the lefties.

Does that mean that I, like Klein, think reading the Constitution on the floor of the House is a "gimmick"?
In marketing language, a gimmick is a unique or quirky special feature that makes something "stand out"... [T]he special feature is typically thought to be of little relevance or use.... [A] gimmick is a special feature for the sake of having a special feature. It began... as a slang term for something that a con artist or magician had his assistant manipulate to make appearances different from reality.
In the musical "Gypsy," the experienced strippers advise young Gypsy Rose Lee that she has to get a gimmick:

I wouldn't use the word "gimmick" for what the GOP has proposed. But, like stripping, it is theatrical. It's a performance. A performance of belief. I think of the point in the church service when everyone reads the Apostles' Creed out loud. Obviously, many people say it who don't believe it, and you could keep silent and still believe it. But don't mock the ritual unless you're good at predicting the reaction and how you'll respond to that and you have some good reason for wanting the exchange.

Back to Surber:
For 8 years, the Left’s railed against Bush shredding the Constitution, a phrase which came to mean nothing....
See how much Surber is like Klein? He's accusing the other side of saying the words, but not really believing. But Surber has done better at picking his fight. He's got he hypocrisy angle: All those times you lefties acted all aghast at what Bush was doing? You must admit that was all theater, right?


Happy New Year everybody!

It's one one one one: 1/1/11.

December 31, 2010

New Year's greetings from the Central Time Zone.

Here it's 11:11 PM, but where you are, it's 1/1/11.


At the New Year's Eve Café...

... what are you cooking up tonight?

"Wisconsin fans will be taking this very seriously while enjoying $8 brats, $7 fried cheese curls and $10 pitchers of beer at Mad River Bar & Grille, 1442 Third Ave."

The NY Post is telling New York City folk where to go out to watch the various bowl games, and this is the advice for Badger fans. That's all very nice. But it's not cheese curls! It's cheese curds! Unless they've got some sort of homemade Cheetos over there at the "grille," it's cheese curds.

And, by the way "grille" is the thing on the front of a car. "Grill" is the thing you cook on. But that's not the Post's fault. Maybe the curl/curd mix-up isn't the Post's fault either. I see the Mad River Bar & Grille's idea of a Wisconsin experience is Coors beer. Come on! Pick a Wisconsin beer!

"Comedian Russell Brand posted an unflattering picture today of his wife Katy Perry on his Twitter page."

"Perry may have shown her displeasure with Brand, 35, since the picture was removed from his Twitter account."

But you can see the picture at the link.

Oh, man... marry a comedian....

"The protection accorded under Irish law to the right to life of the unborn was based on profound moral values deeply embedded in the fabric of society in Ireland and the legal position was defined through equally intense debate."

Wrote the European Court of Human Rights in Case of A, B, and C v. Ireland, which Linda Greenhouse discusses in the NYT:
No right under the [European] Convention was violated [where the plaintiffs were able to travel to another country to obtain an abortion], the court said by a vote of 11 to 6. Granted, “the process of traveling abroad for an abortion was psychologically and physically arduous” for these women. And granted also that in their particular circumstances, they could have obtained legal abortions in 35 to 40 other countries covered by the Convention. But because Ireland’s law is based “on the profound moral views of the Irish people as to the nature of life,” the court said, Ireland was entitled to an extra “margin of appreciation.” This phrase expresses a measure of deference toward a country’s right within the framework of international law to chart its own domestic course. With its extra margin, Irish law prevailed.
Greenhouse notes that the European Court accepted a situation similar to what would come into being if the United States Supreme Court withdrew the constitutional right to abortion and the matter were left to state law. She says the case gave her "the eerie feeling that I was peering into a domestic future."
Obviously, not all states would choose to join the anti-abortion bandwagon, even if they had the Supreme Court’s permission. California, New York, the District of Columbia, Connecticut and Massachusetts (once two of the most anti-abortion states, but times change) would remain places of refuge for desperate women, Englands to the Irelands that are Wyoming (which has no abortion provider), the Dakotas, or the Deep South, where a shrinking handful of doctors provide abortions in a hostile regulatory climate. More than a third of all women live in counties without an abortion provider, and that number is growing. Long-distance travel is made more onerous in the half of the states that require 24-hour waiting periods after “counseling,” necessitating two trips or an overnight stay.
The second commenter over there brings up Justice Kennedy's interest in referring to international law:
The right has roundly criticized Justice Kennedy for his interest in international law. Whaddaya bet they won't criticize him for citing the case of A, B & C v. Ireland? Watch the Court chip, chip, chip away at Roe & at Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Well, what about the left? What about those who approve of the use of the decisions from foreign court in the analysis of American constitutional law? Whaddaya bet they won't want to have to pay any attention to "the right to life of the unborn... based on profound moral values deeply embedded in the fabric of society"?

Are you going on a diet for the new year...

... like everyone else with the #1 most common and boring New Year's resolution?

Are you going on a diet?
I'm doing something but there's something about the term "diet" that brings out the quibbler in me.
pollcode.com free polls

Are you finishing up that bag of chips right now so you can get the house ready for the virtuous tomorrow? And what will you eat on that diet? Tell us in detail, but first, weigh in here:

What are you thinking of eating in the new year?
The same old stuff.
A variety of truly health-enhancing foods.
Smaller portions of basically the same stuff, leaning a bit more toward the healthful.
I'll cut out carbohydrates.
Cut the junk food, but otherwise the same basic stuff.
I'll set a calorie limit and count calories.
I'll pick a few foods that I'm allowed to eat -- maybe only one food.
Tiny plates. I can eat what I want, but it must fit on that plate.
A liquid diet.
Fasting, maybe one day a week.
pollcode.com free polls

How much do you want to lose?
5-10 pounds
Over 10 pounds but less than 25 pounds
More than 25 pounds but less than 50 pounds
More than 50 pounds
pollcode.com free polls

Will you meet your goal?
No, of course not. It never works.
Yes, because I'm strong and determined.
Yes, because I'm saying "yes" here and that's gives me new incentive.
Probably not. I may lose some, but these things tend not to work out in the long run.
pollcode.com free polls

On his last day in office, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson reveals that he will not pardon Billy the Kid.

The NYT reports a "sigh of relief."

"Last but not least, I'd like to thank Droopy (Robert Wright) for bringing us bloggingheads so we can actually see who we've been reading."

"It does tell us something to be able to see these awful people. Except for, of course, Mickey Kaus, there's no one I could see being a friend of mine, offline, and - after seeing them here - would ever want to read again. Bloggingheads is providing a valuable service in that way."

Hey! What about me?!!

"Retire early, unless some interesting project is underway on the computer. Rise at 3am."

It's the New Year's Eve plan of one of our very favorite commenters, rhhardin. He continues:
Chinese folk song I just put up; having recorded it in 1998 off Radio Taiwan.

Maybe somebody knows the recording, I was thinking. YouTube goes everywhere, unless they've banned it.

It's been through four transcodings, as well as being off shortwave in the first place; but the original has a nice bass line. Video is of transcoding 3 from real audio to mp3. Transcoding from mp3 to wmv was still to come.

Beats Rufus Wainwright.
I featured Rufus in the post where rh comments. He continues:
I may set the backyard bird microphone to record the midnight gunshots before bed, though, if the wind is quiet and the grain elevators shut down for a while.

The shots last for about a half hour; and some guy always starts five minutes early. The clocks are not good out here.

Dogs respond.

It's the Ohio way.
We look forward to the gunshots recording, to more information about "At the Faraway Place - Love Song of the Plain" by Zai Na Yao Yuan De Di Fang, and to all the other recordings and photographs that rh might bestow upon us in the coming year, capturing the mystic essence of Ohio.

"Fashion forward: 10 things to get excited about in 2011."

From the L.A. Times "image staff":
1) Skirts falling. At last, some clothes for women who don't look to the Kardashians for style tips. The tyranny of the mini is over and skirts are falling. Midi, maxi and knee-length skirts were all over the runways for spring at Jil Sander, Michael Kors, Yves Saint Laurent and more. But they're going mass, too....
I led this trend beginning in '09. Took a break from it in fall '10, but after buying these boots yesterday, I've been contemplating regressing to my long skirts. (Bonus Althouse skirt-length material here. (Scroll to "Note about me."))

Oh, well, let's read on. Blah blah blah... oh!
6) The new political guard. If there is one person I'm eager to observe dressing for today's political stage, it's California Governor-elect Jerry Brown. In his 1970s heyday, he was a rake in double-breasted suits with sharp lapels. But now, almost nothing is known about what he wears.

Compared with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who favors suits by Armani, Brioni, Prada and Gucci, has been known to carry a Prada weekend bag and refers to himself as a "shoe queen," Brown is practically anti-fashion--which could almost be more interesting. 
Shoe queen, eh? Where are the pictures to prove this? All they've got is a pic of his head, which is bald on top and pensive in front, with an ear on at least one side. I'm skeptical!

ADDED: Oops. I misread. It's Queen Arnold. There's nothing at all about what Jerry Brown wears. Here's some fashion advice for Brown: wear... brown! Oh, sorry. I thought I was Naomi Wolf for a moment there. Advising Gore.

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Alone? At home?

Not alone? Out?

And now for some great Bloggingheads.

It's the masters: Bob and Mickey! New year predictions from Mickey Kaus about the revival of death panels and the coming "huge debate about income inequality"...

"Swedish prison. Like, I could live there, like it's nice ..."

We join the inane chatter about Julian Assange somewhere near the end of the 50th minute:

"... just because he's a rapist doesn't mean I'm saying he's some some sort of violent... It's such a loaded term...."

There's much more, of course, but that gives you a feeling for the discussion. Continue at your own risk.

ADDED: Instapundit repeats the "just because he's a rapist" quote and snarks "It's not rape-rape," which is a reference to what Whoopi Goldberg said about Roman Polanski.

AND: Back in the 1970s, beginning with the extremely influential book "Against Our Will" by Susan Brownmiller, feminist doctrine portrayed rape as an act of violence. I have been in the presence of feminists who would jump on you, quite harshly, if you said there was some sexuality involved. No, it was 100% violence. You were a heretic if you didn't accept that doctrine. I would challenge Maureen Tkacik with the proposition that if you don't think it's violence, then you shouldn't call it rape.

December 30, 2010


... bathrooms.

"The Rose Bowl will be a fascinating matchup of football physics."

"Wisconsin’s average offensive lineman stands 6-foot-5 and weighs more than 320 pounds. The largest T.C.U. defensive lineman, Cory Grant, is 6-2, 305 pounds. The Badgers (11-1) have plowed over the competition, but their offense is far from plodding."

"Because the Constitution is so old, it is written in the 'old-timey' language of people of more than one century ago..."

"... which leads many modern people to get confused and frustrated by it. 'What is this stupid boring thing?' they will ask, then go back to playing Super Mario Cart. These modern people could not be any more wrong, because hidden underneath all the 'so-called' confusing words is an exciting story with twists and turns everywhere. Fortunately, and most importantly, the Founding Fathers also invented the Supreme Court which does a good job of translating the Constitution into modern words and juxtaposing them for all of us, the American people of the United States."

Iowahawk spoofs young Ezra Klein, who's not impressed with the GOP's new requirement that legislation expressly identify the provision of the Constitution that supports Congress's exercise of power.

Here's Ezra Klein's actual column.



"Boney M's Bobby Farrell dies on the same day and in the same town as Rasputin..."

"... the subject of one of the band's biggest hits."

Speaking of Boney M and death, I first heard of Boney M in the context of the near-death experience depicted in the movie "Touching the Void," where the memorable line is: "Bloody hell, I'm going to die to Boney M."

The anecdote you've been waiting for...

... to make your anti-Obamacare arguments complete.

"That's pretty cool. I love the open buckles and how they pick up the silver of the tin foil/duct tape..."

Comments on a Sartorialist photo from the scene of the NYC blizzard:
Awesome! I love the boots, but it's the duct tape in classic silver that made me take notice. It just goes to show that even a homeless person or city worker or whoever this person is can accessorize with wit and style, given what's available to them....

Whoever this person is, there's always a slight line between what's ridiculous and what's considered "fashionable"...nowadays it seems that everything can work and be "cool"! ...

I battled with this photo. It affects the emotions in that it could be of a homeless or an eccentric person. Maybe you could have indicated that the guy is a construction worker. It comes close to the bone....

Anorexia awareness...

... taken to a new level.

"Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest."

Headlines the NY Post in an article that begins:
These garbage men really stink.

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned....

New York's Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process -- and pad overtime checks -- which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.

The snow-removal snitches said they were told to keep their plows off most streets and to wait for orders before attacking the accumulating piles of snow.

Speaking of Venn diagrams...

... that popular Venn diagram with circles for prostitutes, doctors, and TSA agents and the "get paid to touch your junk" punchline in the center is not a proper Venn diagram, as brilliantly and amusingly explained by Rich Skrenta (via Techdirt).

"Relationships are better if you wait over a month to have sex. Huh. I’m not sure I ever did that."

"I’m not even sure I know anyone who did that...."

Says Instapundit, who should picture a Venn diagram with: 1. people who have sex within a month of beginning a relationship, 2. people who wait a month before having sex, and 3. people who inform their acquaintances about the first time they had sex with their partner.

ADDED: After reading some more about Venn diagrams, I don't think you can picture the Venn diagram I've described — unless you can use squares instead of circles.

"Am I the only person left in the world who worries about spilling his coffee on his laptop?"

2 years ago.

ADDED: I ran across that after reading the colloquy between AllenS and Meade in the comments to the post about Brett's fuzzy penis:
AllenS: Jenn Sterger (the woman) was hired because of some sexy pictures of her in Sports Illustrated mag, that Brent Musberger thought would be a good matchup for the male dominated football sports sceen. Jenn and Brent are just as much at fault here. I'm thinking of sending the woman a picture of my penis also. Could I borrow the fish bowl lens?...

Meade: It's a fish eye lens. Fish eye. It's for taking shots of massive objects or scenes which a normal lens can't take all in. A fish bowl lens would be for taking shots of tiny things. Like Brett Favre's... ability to make good judgments.
AllenS: Ok, ok. Can I borrow the lens that makes stuff look bigger?
But, in fact, the fisheye works really well to make something look large if you get the camera lens right up at it. Lots of other stuff is including in the picture, arrayed all around and looking comparatively small. Frankly — and this is not an offer to AllenS — it would be really interesting to take pictures of naked men and get the extreme closeup on the genitalia with a well-composed and interesting background. I went looking through my old posts with the "fisheye" tag to find some that prove my point.

The second picture here of the fisheye dog makes this point very well. Get right up to the nose. The scenery in the background isn't as interesting as I'd want for my proposed compositions, but you can see how tiny Meade looks in the background (when in fact he was quite close by). Here's another photograph that illustrates the point, albeit with the female body:

Cambodian sculpture at the Met

That's from the Khmer Dynasty room at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. Here's the effect of the lens looking at the room from the other side:

Cambodian sculpture at the Met

Here's some male and female nudity, to be fair:

Museum of Natural History

That's the Museum of Natural History — not Brett and Jenn. You may recognize that couple from the movie "Election" — which is a great cautionary tale about the inadvisability of cheating on... many things (including your spouse).

And then — searching through the fisheye pictures — I found something that was extremely important to me: the purple tree, which had this.

"Do you guys TRY to not get laid?"

Rosie the Riveter, AKA Geraldine Doyle...

... has died at the age of 86.
[T]he woman in the patriotic poster...

... was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., took a job at a metal factory, her family said.

One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.

In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.

Smitten with the UPI photo, Miller reportedly was said to have decided to base one of his posters on the anonymous, slender metal worker - Mrs. Doyle.

For four decades, this fact escaped Mrs. Doyle, who shortly after the photo was taken left her job at the factory. She barely lasted two weeks.

A cellist, Mrs. Doyle was horrified to learn that a previous worker at the factory had badly injured her hands working at the machines. She found safer employment at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, where she wooed a young dental school student and later became his wife.
Oh, the irony! She couldn't do it. But she could inspire others to do it. And she could do other things, like play the cello and rear 6 children. "We" can do it, each in our own way. You work the machines, I'll help people find the right books.

Here's the Norman Rockwell version of Rosie, who's not nearly so glamorous and is clearly not based on Mrs. Doyle:
The 52-by-40-inch oil on canvas depicts "Rosie" on lunch break, her riveting gun on her lap as she uses a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf as a foot stool.
Great symbolism, Norman. And I don't mean the book. I mean the manly power tool.
Rockwell's Rosie is posed as an homage to Michelangelo's frescoed depiction of the prophet Isaiah from the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Here's Michelangelo's Isaiah, who's more respectful of his book, which is about God, not his struggle against lies, stupidity and cowardice.

"The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger."

Aw, come on! Did they examine his penis and compare it to the picture? Yes, the picture may have been fuzzy... but maybe his penis is fuzzy.

Favre has to pay $50,000 anyway, because he "was not candid in several respects during the investigation." Either he failed to cover up in the first instance or he inappropriately covered up in the second.

What Tucker Carlson said about Michael Vick.

"I’m Christian. I’ve made mistakes. I believe fervently in second chances. Michael Vick killed dogs in a heartless and cruel way. I think, firstly, he should have been executed for that. The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale."

December 29, 2010

"It's really almost criminal what they do with our President."

"There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he's doing certain things that he's not. It's just a big old political game that I don't want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I'm sure some of it's true and some of it's not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be."

Merle Haggard, on meeting President Obama.

"He's not conceited. He's very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we've had who come across like they don't need anybody's help. I think he knows he's in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot."

I know. You focused on "he knows he's in over his head," didn't you?

At the Red Tail Hawk Café...


... you can be as hawkish as you like. Or dovish.

"The worst thing I ever smelled was a 40-yard dumpster full of shrimp shells fermenting outside of a cannery in Kodiak."

"I came very close to losing my lunch. You could actually see a heavier-than-air fog of ammonia rolling out of the top of the bin, but I wasn't allowed to puke. I worked for the company that picked up all the cannery offal and recycled it into useful products. I actually deserve some kind of eco-medal."

Said Tyrone Slothrop at 8:33 PM in the comments on my post mocking the notion that it's romantic to roast lobster on a stick in your fireplace. That made me 1. wonder what's the worst thing I've ever smelled and 2. realize I'd never smelled anything truly awful. I remember one time, back in the 70s in NYC, we bought some expensive cheese at Dean & DeLuca, and it smelled exactly like shit. We thought we were sophisticated. At first. When we ate it. Then we thought we were stupid. And we stopped eating it. But if you want to compare notes with Tyrone Slothrop, you've obviously got to come up with something that smells worse than shit.


Don't criticize me for writing a blog post on this subject. Do you realize that I'm not allowed to work today? I'm literally forbidden by the state. There was something I wanted to do too!

IN THE COMMENTS: Irene says: "I think furlough day is tomorrow??" Oh, that's true! It's Wednesday. I keep thinking it's Thursday. Okay, then. I'm all about transforming the syllabus!

Hamid Karzai, nostalgic about the "golden age" — when George Bush was President....

... in a leaked cable from July 2009.

"[T]he worst pop song designed to reflect a profound moral conscience. I.e. the smuggest, most pretentious pop song in history."

Andrew Sullivan sets up a poll for what he (a bit inaptly) calls the "Shut Up and Sing" award. You can't really shut up and sing. He's just looking for bad lyrics of a particular sort.

I only know 4 of the 10 songs on his list, and they don't really bother me. I mean, it's fun to knock Sting, but other than that, who cares what Madonna was actually saying in "American Life"? And if Stevie Wonder wants to sing with Paul McCartney about racial harmony using a piano keyboard metaphor, that's too sweet to get upset about. As for "Okie From Muskogee," that song has aged fabulously well. I was around in the 1960s when we hippies loved hating Merle Haggard for the things he said in that song, but it's nuts to take it the way we did back then:
"Okie From Muskogee," 1969's apparent political statement, was actually written as an abjectly humorous character portrait. Haggard called the song a "documentation of the uneducated that lived in America at the time."... "I wrote it when I recently got out of the joint. I knew what it was like to lose my freedom, and I was getting really mad at these protesters. They didn't know anything more about the war in Vietnam than I did. I thought how my dad, who was from Oklahoma, would have felt. I felt I knew how those boys fighting in Vietnam felt."
That text is from Wikipedia. "Abjectly humorous character portrait"? Somebody doesn't know the meaning of "abjectly." But I'm inclined to say that Andrew Sullivan is abjectly humorless... at least when it comes to marijuana....

"We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee..."

Smug? Pretentious? Absurd!

You know what deserves to win the award Sullivan defines. It's damned obvious and it's not on the list. Imagine all the peeepull....

Really, this award is no fun if you take shots at lightweights like The Partridge Family and the New Kids on the Block — as Sullivan does. Get the guys who've been taken seriously, like Bob Dylan. ("He that gets hurt will be he who has stalled...") Pick a worthy target or... as they say... shut up.

A storm tens of thousands of miles wide.

On Saturn.

"The mayor has to stop acting like 'Baghdad Bob' saying the streets are fine. No they aren't. Where the hell are the plows?"

"Forty ambulances were still stuck in snowdrifts Tuesday night."

"DADT dead-enders latch onto 'shower issue.'"

"Gay troops have been showering alongside straight troops for quite a while. The same is true of professional athletes, students at dorms with communal showers, and gyms across the country."

Yes, this is obvious.

Those who are harping on the shower issue have lost track of the pervasive reality that we can't know and can't police what is in another person's mind — and that people frequently think sexual thoughts. It's utterly routine to encounter people who are thinking about having sex with you. Sometimes these are people you would regard as acceptable sexual partners and sometimes they're not. So what? It's insane to let that bother you. If they don't say anything or do anything or act out in any way, it's nothing to us. If your ability to go about doing what you need to do is undermined by worrying about other people's sexual thoughts, then you are abnormal. It's ironic for the people who think homosexuals are abnormal to believe that heterosexuals are abnormal.

"The idea today was to produce steamed buns that contain egg yolks that break open like a real eggs."

"Shut up, it's an experiment."

December 28, 2010

A purportedly romantic idea: roasting lobster in the fireplace.

Ugh! And look at the picture! The same blogger — at The Atlantic website — who tells us it will be sexy to roast a big old lobster tail at the end of a stick the way you'd toast a marshmallow also attempts to artfully arrange a photographic still-life depicting said lobster-on-a-stick and includes — in the upper right-hand corner — a sculpted ass. An ass! This romantic snack is ass.

Is the blogger — a woman — suggesting this as something a man would try to get a woman excited about or is a woman supposed to cajole a man into this nonsense? Who is this for? It's quite disgusting. Lobster juice dripping into the ashes. What's that going to look and smell like the next day?

Now that I look at what I've written, maybe there is something sex-related about that last question. You meet someone. You're trying to decide what you're interested in doing. Maybe you ask yourself: What's that going to look and smell like the next day?

At the Gin Rummy Café...


... deal with it.


The app. Love it.

"Everything you like to do is wrong."

25 more films enter the National Film Registry — "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

Which ones have you seen?
1. AIRPLANE! (1980)
3. THE BARGAIN (1914)
4. CRY OF JAZZ (1959)
7. THE EXORCIST (1973)
8. THE FRONT PAGE (1931)
9. GREY GARDENS (1976)
10. I AM JOAQUIN (1969)
11. IT'S A GIFT (1934)
13. LONESOME (1928)
15. MALCOLM X (1992)
22. STUDY OF A RIVER (1996)
23. TARANTELLA (1940)
List the ones you've seen in the order of their what you think is their cultural/historical/aesthetic significance. Here's mine:
1. It's a Gift
2. Grey Gardens
3. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
4. Saturday Night Fever
5. THX 1138
6. All the President's Men
The first 2 on my list have long been high on my personal list of favorite moves. The 3d one is also on my list of favorite movies, but not so high.

The "risk in over-learning" the lesson that Presidents can win reelection after getting slammed in the midterms.

Nate Silver writes:
Mr. Clinton and Mr. Reagan, though they are two recent examples, are nevertheless just two examples, and they were both once-in-a-generation political talents.
Reagan was in the "greatest generation" and Bill Clinton is a Baby Boomer. This makes me want to dredge up the old question whether Obama is a Baby Boomer. Taking Silver's assertion seriously, if Bill is the "once-in-a-generation" talent, then Obama's not at the Clinton level. But I'll just link back to that time I assumed Obama was not a Baby Boomer and you readers argued with me about it. Well, maybe you've changed your mind. I haven't.
[Would Obama] win re-election if an election were held tomorrow[?] His approval ratings right now are quite similar to where George W. Bush’s were at the end of 2004. Mr. Bush won re-election, albeit very narrowly and against a relatively weak Democratic nominee.

Then again, the set of prospective Republican nominees is also perhaps rather weak.... [I]f an election were held tomorrow, Mr. Obama would be a clear favorite against Ms. Palin, and probably about even money (although perhaps a very slight favorite) against a less divisive Republican nominee....

[But] an election won’t be held tomorrow. Do we have any inkling yet about whether Mr. Obama’s standing with the public is likely to improve or decline by 2012?
There's the economy, which might improve. And there's the post-election flurry of activity by the doomed Democratic majority in Congress, and then, whatever will happen with the Republicans in the next session.
Mr. Obama will be fighting from a defensive posture on health care, which remains unpopular with the public....

Ultimately, however, Mr. Obama is more popular than the Republican Congress — an advantage that Bill Clinton did not have after 1994, nor Ronald Reagan after 1982. With the equally unpopular Democratic Congress largely being marginalized, that may work to his advantage....

Until we get a better sense for how the dynamics between Mr. Obama and the Republicans will play out — or in which direction the economy is headed — I would be skeptical of analyses that seem to express a significant amount of confidence on either side of that figure.
It seems to me that people generally tend to hate Congress, so it will help the President to have an oppositional Congress.

A pro-abortion rights spokesman cries out against a Supreme Court decision that's like a planted seed, growing and eventually "popping out."

There's new state-level legislation banning abortion after the 20th week, premised on the notion of fetal pain and building on the legal precedent in Gonzales v. Carhart. (Carhart upheld the federal statute banning "partial birth" abortion.)
"I believe the decision was like planting a bunch of seeds, and we're just starting to see the shoots popping out of the ground," said Roger Evans, who is in charge of litigation for Planned Parenthood of America.
A man has the right to choose... his metaphors.


The linked article, by WaPo's Robert Barnes, goes on at length about the conservative/liberal balance on the Supreme Court, the importance of Justice O'Connor's retirement, and the things Justice Kennedy wrote in Gonzales v. Carhart. (Kennedy would in all likelihood cast the deciding vote if there were a 5-4 case on the subject of abortion in the with the current array of Supreme Court Justices.)
Kennedy's [opinion for the majority in Carhart] was shot through with references to government's interest in protecting the unborn and in making sure women knew the consequences of their actions.
But Kennedy made it clear that the pregnant woman gets to make the final call about whether to abort a pre-viability fetus. A ban on abortions after 20 weeks is plainly inconsistent with that. In Carhart, there was absolutely no question that woman got to exercise her choice to end the pregnancy. The issue was only about whether one way of removing the fetus could be banned (when another method remained available).

A "disaster scenario": the Giants, trounced by the Packers, get stuck in Wisconsin.

This looked bloggable, because I thought there'd be some amusing quotes bitching about Wisconsin. There weren't, and I was about to not blog this at all, but I just wanted to give the Giants credit for professionalism, for only letting out quotes like "So we quickly adapted and went right to work." That makes the life of the blogger a lot harder, but I quickly adapted and went right to work, looking for amusing quotes in the political stories, where the spokespeople screw up every day.

Obama opines on Michael Vick's being given a second chance.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie described the phone call he received from the President:
"He said, 'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,' " said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. "He said, 'It's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.' And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.''
How inspiring is the return of Michael Vick? Will it hearten those who are attempting to return to society after serving time and make the rest of us more likely to welcome them back? Or will it make us more likely to think cynically that the rich and famous get special exceptions from the rules? Does Vick make the field look more level or less level?

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade (adopting the commenting style of Trooper York) wrote:
"Pot had helped, spreading genital herpes; maybe a little felony conspiracy in interstate commerce/aid of unlawful animal fighting venture when you could afford it."

- Dreams from My Blotter: A Short Memoir by Barrrk "OokieRonMexico" Obama (2010), pp. 93–94.
Rialby said...
"They talk about me like a dog" - BHO

I guess talking about him like a dog is better than what Michael Vick might do... pick him up by his tail, swing him around and smash his head against a cinder block wall.
Hmmm. You know, I've never gotten the impression Obama had much affection for Bo.

December 27, 2010

"When life gives you lemonade..."

"... make a highly caffeinated, alcoholic lemon-flavored drink."

Identical triplets, aged 11, 11, and newborn.

The third one, previously frozen, arrives at long last.

"Farewell To Teena Marie, The 'Ivory Queen Of Soul.'"

NPR puts up 2 old pieces that include some real singing.

"UW, TCU a big mismatch — off the field."

"Big vs. small. Public vs. private. Midwestern vs. southern. Mammal vs. amphibian.... 'In general, people at TCU acknowledge there's somebody higher and bigger than us'...."

"I eat as much as I want, whenever I want but at this time of year I really go all out."

"Christmas should give you carte blanche to do whatever you want.... People who feel guilty about eating are hilarious."

Politico picks the "best quotes" of 2010.

And the definition of "best" seems to be: the speaker was a politico whose own statement defined him/her in a negative way — e.g., "I'm not a witch."

Too bad no one ever comes out with brilliantly wise and witty epigrams anymore.

"YouTube City, man."

Says a man who's frustrated that his presumably video-capable "phone can't come out of the scanner fast enough." Someone else is there with a video device capturing him saying that about the scene at the airport as a woman....

Well, what the hell is her game? Is she the victim of horrific TSA intrusion or a fame-seeker seizing the viral video route to celebrity? She's awfully carefully coiffed and made-up for the occasion of her humiliation....

The NYT asks whether Jon Stewart is "the modern-day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow."

"Did the bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders become law in the waning hours of the 111th Congress only because a comedian took it up as a personal cause?"

December 26, 2010

At the Meadhouse Pizzaria...


... a robot dances for joy at the Nueske bacon topping.

Talk about whatever you want, but if you want more stuff for pizza, get some Bob's Red Mill Semolina, a good pizza stone, and a pizza peel. And here's the music we're playing.

Surrendered baby.


Who are you?

We're the best/worst political videos of 2010.

What we're listening to at Meadhouse.

ADDED: Same song, in concert, recently.

The "Canada effect" is wearing off here in Wisconsin.

The term refers to the way students in the northern tier of states do better on standardized tests.
It's a common perception that most educational problems belong to Milwaukee Public Schools, but the state's decline goes beyond lower achievement scores in urban areas. In fourth-grade reading, the state's white students - most of whom are educated outside urban school districts - have scored below the national average for students of the same race on all four assessments given since 2003.

"I don't think that most people in other parts of Wisconsin think that their school district is having trouble; I think they clearly can see that MPS has challenges, but they don't think anybody else does," said Governor-elect Scott Walker, adding that even the state's successful school districts have some struggling schools....

Walker supports a statewide evaluation system with multiple measures of performance that would rank teachers in four categories: ineffective, needs improvement, satisfactory or exemplary....

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said people will reject efforts to evaluate teachers if they perceive them as being solely driven by ideology. 
Barrett was the Democratic candidate who lost to Walker last month.

Beautiful and 23...

... Crystal Harris is marrying an 84-year-old man.

ADDED: Or maybe she's 24.
While she was studying psychology at San Diego State University, she started modelling and was noticed by Playboy. She met Hefner on Halloween in 2008 and started dating him in January 2009 while he was also dating identical twin glamour models Kristina and Karissa Shannon. But he ended his relationship with the twins in January this year and has remained monogamous to Crystal since. Crystal once said that she believes she and Hefner were able to bond because she lost a long-time boyfriend in Iraq and he was going through a break up with Holly Madison, whom he dated for 8 years.
It all fits together!

The death panels are back.

Excised from the statutory text, death panels — or that thing that got wrongly called "death panels" — returns by way of regulations:
The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves....
Get ready to be prompted to sign a document that will sound helpful and reasonable. The advance directive. Don't you want the autonomy and control that comes from deciding in advance that you don't want people to try to save your life?
“While we are very happy with the result, we won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because we aren’t out of the woods yet,” [said the office Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon*] in an e-mail in early November to people working with him on the issue. “This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”

Moreover, the e-mail said: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”
The email said email can be too easily forwarded. Ha ha ha. And now, here it is, quoted in the NYT, cut and pasted into blogs.
The e-mail continued: “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response. The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

In the interview, Mr. Blumenauer said, “Lies can go viral if people use them for political purposes.”
But it's not a lie. You may not like the label — no labels! — attached to the policy, but the policy itself is understood — understood and presented in an inflammatory way that precisely counterbalances the soothing, lulling tones used by people who like it.
Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, and Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, led the criticism in the summer of 2009. Ms. Palin said “Obama’s death panel” would decide who was worthy of health care. Mr. Boehner, who is in line to become speaker, said, “This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.” Forced onto the defensive, Mr. Obama said that nothing in the bill would “pull the plug on grandma.”
Well, you will pull the plug on grandma, but only after grandma has signed the document the doctor explained to her long before she got into the situation she's in now, back when it seemed like autonomy and control.
“Using unwanted procedures in terminal illness is a form of assault,” [said Dr. Donald M. Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service]. 
The question is what do patients want and how what they want will be determined. It seems to me that the effort is to get people to commit in advance to death-hastening choices, by getting everyone to sign these documents. Now, all the new regulation seems to do is to authorize Medicare reimbursements for the time health care professionals spend counseling patients about the value and importance of signing the document. It's hard to see what's wrong with that. If treatments are covered but advice about forgoing treatment is not covered, then there's an incentive to do expensive things.
In a recent study of 3,700 people near the end of life, Dr. Maria J. Silveira of the University of Michigan found that many had “treatable, life-threatening conditions” but lacked decision-making capacity in their final days. With the new Medicare coverage, doctors can learn a patient’s wishes before a crisis occurs.
Treatable? You have a condition that can be treated, but you can't think well enough anymore to decide whether you'd prefer to die? If you've signed the document, the answer is you'd rather let the condition kill you, because you allowed the doctors to "learn [your] wishes before" this "crisis" occurred. You didn't know what the crisis would be or how you would feel when it happened, but you had "wishes" then and these will be taken as your "wishes" now.


*Oregon, the assisted suicide state.

Solar energy...

... where it really matters.

The east coast blizzard.

Was your flight canceled? Did you go home for Christmas only to find, Christmas night or the next morning that you're going to have a terrible time getting home... other home?

"Manhattan, the world's most famous melting pot, is losing its rich ethnic and racial diversity."

The new census figures show:
Overall, Manhattan's population has swelled by 5% to 1.6 million since 2000, and educated whites appear to account for the influx...

The white population rose by an estimated 11% to around 928,000 in the past decade...

At the same time, the number of blacks dropped by 6% to less than 250,000...

Between 2000 and 2010, whites went from 2% of Harlem's population to 9.8%. The black population shrank from 61.2% to 54.4% in the same period...
According to the article, Manhattan is becoming, more and more, a place where educated white people pay a lot so they can work a lot: "This is type-A culture... It's a work-oriented, achievement-oriented island. Because of that they want to be near their offices, it's a huge benefit to productivity."