January 22, 2011

"It is clear that the moment we now face demands a vision for how we as a people will win the future."

Says Obama in an email titled "Winning the future." It came with this video previewing the State of the Union address (he's "still workin' on it"):

ADDED: No sooner had I watched that than I got an email from an anti-Obama group with this picture:

What a crappy graphic! I don't know what primal emotions that was supposed to stir up or what it stirs up in other people, but it makes me feel: These people are mean-spirited and unfair.

"Romney Wins New Hampshire Republican Party Committee Straw Poll."

With 35% of the 276 valid ballots cast. Ron Paul took 11%. Tim Pawlenty 8%. Sarah Palin, 7%.

Palladian's Gadsden flag redesign.

Here's my original challenge to redesign the Gadsden flag. Click here to collect all the responses.

When Faida Hamdy slapped Mohamed Bouazizi in the face and set off a revolution.

What happened in Tunisia:
Faida Hamdy, a 45-year-old municipal inspector in Sidi Bouzid, a police officer’s daughter, was single, had a “strong personality” and an unblemished record, her supervisor said. She inspected buildings, investigated noise complaints and fined vendors like Mr. Bouazizi, whose itinerant trade may or may not have been legal; no one seems to know.

On the morning of Dec. 17, when other vendors say Ms. Hamdy tried to confiscate Mr. Bouazizi’s fruit, and then slapped him in the face for trying to yank back his apples, he became the hero — now the martyred hero — and she became the villain in a remarkable swirl of events in which Tunisians have risen up to topple a 23-year dictatorship and march on, demanding radical change in their government.

The revolution has rippled beyond Tunisia, shaking other authoritarian Arab states, whose frustrated young people are often written off as complacent when faced with stifling bureaucracy and an impenetrable and intimidating security apparatus. That assumption was badly shaken with Mr. Bouazizi’s reaction to his slap...
So a woman humiliated a man...

ADDED: Eve gave Adam an apple, and Hamdi took away Bouazizi's apples. In Eden, the man took the apple from the woman, and we know what happened. In Tunisia, the man tried "to yank back his apples." So much meaning lies in the giving and taking of apples between a man and a woman.

"As a cartoonist, my main response when I saw this was..."

"... well, no matter how bad my work might be, at least I had nothing to do with Steampunk Palin."

Chicago versus Green Bay — the cities.

Cliff Christl — author of "Mudbaths & Bloodbaths: The Inside Story of the Bears-Packers Rivalry"compares the Illinois city of 3 million to Wisconsin city of 100,000:
Chicago might have more skyscrapers than Green Bay has elevators. And while the Second City overflows with magnificent museums, five-star restaurants and renowned universities, in Green Bay, life centers around much simpler pleasures like Friday night fish fries and 25-cent rides at the Bay Beach Amusement Park.

Many Chicagoans would tell you that the differences basically boil down to urbane vs. hick.... But... Green Bay's shoulders might not be as broad as Chicago's, but both are Midwestern cities built long ago on paper making and meat packing by a wide range of European immigrants. They sprouted, albeit on different scales, as heavily Catholic, blue-collar and bibulous strongholds.

Then there's the other kinship they share: football....
Go to the link for lots of colorful details about the rivalry, which has been relatively "civil" in recent years, partly because since the mid-1960s "when he Bears have been good, the Packers have generally been bad, and vice versa."  This year, then, is a momentous exception — especially exciting for the people of the northern half of what — look at a map — is properly termed the Wisconsin column of the United States.

January 21, 2011

"What did you want? attention? congratulations, i know you. i also know who hitler, ted bundy, and michael vick are."

Maybe serving lion tacos wasn't such a great idea.

Years ago, I took my sons to a restaurant, and one item on the menu was baby loin ribs. My younger son said "Oh, no! That's terrible!" What's so terrible? "Baby lion ribs!"

Olbermann ousted.

"As God as my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my earpiece and he said, 'um, can you cut it down to 15 seconds so we get in this tennis result from Stuttgart.'... So I'm grateful I have a little more time to sign off here. Regardless this is the last edition of 'Countdown.'"

The young man who discovered the photographer Vivian Maier.

The young man, John Maloof, keeps this blog dedicated to Maier.

"The Most Emailed 'New York Times' Article Ever."

I noticed this the other day, but Instapundit beating me over the head with it got me to read it. Hilariously apt.

Why did Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie make a show of saying he was going to produce Obama's birth certificate if he wasn't sure he'd be able to do that?

Watch out! It's a trick question. Here's Rush Limbaugh, unpacking the problem today. Read the whole thing, but here's a super-tight edit:
I would think that if Abercrombie is gonna [say he'll produce the birth certificate], he's not the Lone Ranger. He's gotta be calling the White House, "Okay, look, we have a potential problem here. I want to find this thing and I want to make it public."  If that happened, somebody at the regime did not say, "No, don't do it," because Abercrombie is still alive.  If they had said, "No, don't do it," and Abercrombie is still doing it....

I can't imagine Abercrombie being a free agent on this.  Abercrombie gets inaugurated governor and out of the blue says, "Ah, you know what, I'm worried about this birther thing, they may have something there.  I gotta find that birth certificate, and I'm gonna release it, I'm gonna prove it once and for all."  Then he says, "I can't find it. Oh no, I'm in trouble. I'm really embarrassing myself here."  And that's the hook and the bait, the unsuspecting and the beguiled are expected to chomp on that hook, line, and sinker and be reeled in.
So Rush thinks the birth certificate is there and the delay is about trying to get Obama's opponents to go on record spouting birtherisms that will make them look stupid and mean-spirited when the birth certificate is finally whipped out.

By the way, if it were actually true that Obama is not a natural-born citizen — as the Constitution requires as a qualification for the presidency — wouldn't it be the case that Obama is not a citizen at all?

"As part of the health care reform, we have to ask you for your race."

Tung Yin finds something else that's obnoxious about Obamacare. "Obnoxious" is his word.
"You're free to decline to answer," [the hospital receptionist] said, and added that it used to be really hard for her to ask this question.

I said that I was, quite obviously Asian, but apparently that was not precise enough for the requirements of the new health reform act. It was necessary for some reason to classify me as not just "Asian" but "Chinese."
Is this meaningless bureaucratic collection of information, possibly useful for medical reasons, or something more nefarious?

"Indeed, there is an internal logic to Santorum's remarks that represents the exact opposite of racism."

Concedes Joe Klein, who supports abortion rights.

ADDED: James Taranto:
Klein ... misses the point.... What makes it racially invidious is not the underlying argument or the rhetorical inelegance with which Santorum makes it. It is the implication that because Obama is "a black man," he is obliged to agree with Santorum.

The notion that the range of acceptable opinion is narrower for a black person than for a white person (or for a woman than a man, or a homosexual than a heterosexual) is a pernicious form of bigotry. It is usually heard from left-wing multiculturalists, as when they attack Clarence Thomas for being black and taking the position that racial preferences are unconstitutional....

Paul Ryan — of Wisconsin — will give the official GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address.

The NYT reports:
In previous years, members of the minority party have turned to new, young governors to present a fresh face to the country during the brief response that is shown on television after the president’s speech. But that has not always worked.
Example given: Bobby Jindal, last year in 2009.
Instead, this year, Republicans are turning to one of their senior members who has been given broad authority by Mr. Boehner to use his new position on the budget committee to drive the Republican fiscal agenda through the House.

More variations on the Gadsden flag: "It's For The Children" and "Shovel Ready."

From Omaha1:

(Click here to see all the Gadsden flag redesigns.)

"The iconography of the hamburger is crucial to fitness magazines..."

"... with grotesque double-patty pile-ups and surreal towers of lettuce leaves variously signing repulsion and signifying obsession. In this month's Shape, a male model is jamming one sloppy sandwich into himself whole, without chewing or even swallowing, for the sake of promoting a story titled 'Sex, Beer, and Burgers: Why Guys Are Healthier Than You Think.' This is one of those numbers about embracing male desires: Eat a bigger lunch. Drink bottled beer as a matter of portion control. Masturbate more frequently in order to release "feel-good hormones including endorphins and oxytocin," they quote an Ivy League gynecologist, the science classing up the matter."

A paragraph in an article about various fitness magazines forced me to copy it and paste it here.

"Barack Obama is the most partisan politician since Richard Nixon."

Says Victor Davis Hanson, explaining why call for "civility" is bogus:
His brief Senate record, his health-care partisanship of 2009, his snickering amid audience applause after the “inadvertent” middle-fingering of Hillary Clinton, and his polarizing metaphorical speech (e.g., knives, guns, kicking ass, getting angry, getting in their face, hostage takers, trigger fingers, tearing up) all attest to that.

That Obama is a postracial mellifluent Chicago politician does not mean that he is not a Chicago politician. That he blasts the “fat cats,” the “stupidly” acting police, and the limb-lopping surgeons, or that his attorney general calls the American people “cowards,” is typical, not aberrant. For 2012, President Obama will have raised $1 billion in cash. He knows from 2008 (“cling to guns or religion,” “typical white person,” “gun to a knife fight”) that his own emotionalism and polarization both earn him cash and create the “them” against “us” (minorities, youth, gays, women) binaries that might draw attention away from an agenda that a majority simply does not want. Obama has always used polarizing politics, coupled with calls for bipartisanship, to great effect, and he surely — as we just saw again in October 2010 (“punish,” “backseat,” “enemies”) — cannot stop now....

Indeed, hours after President Obama’s calls for a new landscape of civility, Rep. Steven Cohen (D., Tenn.) was comparing Republican opponents of the health-care legislation to Nazis from the House floor, while Slate published a screed by Emily Bazelon on  “Why I Loathe My Connecticut Senator,” with serial expressions of how she “loathed” and “despised” Sen. Joe Lieberman.

"I have to confess that I now regard 'the case for theism' as a fraud and I can no longer take it seriously enough to present it to a class as a respectable philosophical position..."

"... no more than I could present intelligent design as a legitimate biological theory. BTW, in saying that I now consider the case for theism to be a fraud, I do not mean to charge that the people making that case are frauds who aim to fool us with claims they know to be empty. No, theistic philosophers and apologists are almost painfully earnest and honest... I just cannot take their arguments seriously any more, and if you cannot take something seriously, you should not try to devote serious academic attention to it."

A religion philosophy professor packs it in. 

A thrill went up Chris Matthew's other leg.

"Josh Marshall, I'm falling in love with you."

"I think of the whole history of classical music as a mountain."

"You start at the bottom of one side, which is medieval chant. You climb up the mountain, go down the other side, and when you reach the ground again, you're at late 20th century minimalism.... At the top of the mountain — fusing the best aspects of Baroque, Classical, and Romantic (with a dash of prophetic modernism) in magnificent, awe-inspiring structures — is Beethoven."

Jaltcoh completes his countdown of the top 10 greatest classical composers.

From the comments to yesterday's post (##4 and 3): "Wow. I thought that I love Brahms about as much as anyone, and even I can only put him 4th. I respect your courage."

AND: Here's the corresponding NYT analysis by Anthony Tommasini, putting Bach 1st — and Brahms  7th.

"Do Not Feed Donuts To Your Obese Children."

"Every time I read something about childhood obesity... this Tim Minchin song starts to play in my head. Yes, it's harsh, brutal even, very nearly bullying. But... um... you gotta admit that there's a grain Cinnabun or two of truth to it."

Says Dan Savage — who needs to say more about what he really thinks about the role of bullying in the process of growing up. He writes about bullying a lot and I think his promotion of this song shows he's not too consistent about it. Is it that it's bad to bully gay kids but good to bully fat kids — because it's good to be gay but bad to be fat? Bullying is a mechanism of social control. Is the mechanism itself wrong, or is the wrong limited to using the mechanism for the wrong end?

By the way, it's Cinnabon — "bon" as in "C'est Si Bon" — and you can be a fan of it on Facebook.

ADDED: The awesomeness of that Jane Morgan video made me pick it over a couple of fabulous alternatives. Check out Eartha Kitt and Louis Armstrong.

"Last week, all humanity thrilled to the footage caught on a mall security camera of a walking-and-texting woman falling into a fountain."

"This week, the once-anonymous woman is doing an airing-of-grievances media blitz, complete with threats of legal action against those who made her hilarious klutziness an internet sensation."

Is there a cause of action for the invasion of privacy that takes place these days when someone catches something stupid that you do — in public — and puts it on YouTube? Hey, don't be stupid! The consequences are much higher today with the internet and viral video. It's a big deterrent. If the legal system turns that deterrent into a monetary gain, it will be incentivizing stupidity.

We need to learn how to live in the world as it is. When we're in public, we have a new dimension of visibility because of digital cameras and the internet. I've been thinking about the effect this is having on politics. Politicians have to watch every single thing they say. That's difficult.

Remember how one word uttered by George Allen destroyed him, because he foolishly thought he was speaking only to a small group and did not foresee how it would play on YouTube. Politicians will have to speak clearly, with a consistent message, and not something tailored to the particular group that they are speaking to at the moment. Obama was able to overcome his "bitter clingers" remark, which was specially designed to reach the hearts of wealthy San Franciscans. But it wasn't easy, and it still dogs him.

Heads up, everybody. Don't stare at the one thing that's right in front of your nose — whether it's your Blackberry or your biggest, wealthiest fans. Pay attention. There's a low wall just ahead, you're about to tumble into the fountain, and the internet is waiting to make you the next sensation.

"We Just Witnessed The Media's Test Run To Re-Elect Barack Obama."

Brilliant blog post by William A. Jacobson:
The ruthless efficiency with which the left-wing blogosphere tied Palin to the shooting, and the success of their efforts in equating Palin with mass murder, is a lesson we should not forget....

Having created a false narrative of Palin's responsibility for the shooting, the mainstream media tried to deprive Palin of the ability to defend herself against the charges. And unfortunately, some who supposedly are on our side have jumped on that bandwagon.

And all the while, Barack Obama stood back for days and let his supporters in the media rip Palin apart, much as he left it to his supporters to go after the Clintons during the primary, only then to proclaim that we don't really know why Jared Loughner did what he did. And the media narrative was how wonderful Obama was, how he helped heal the nation.

Any Republican or conservative or Tea Party supporter who dumps on Palin in any way over the Tucson shooting or her defense of herself should just stop talking now.

It does not matter whether you support Palin for President, whether you think she is electable, or even whether you like her. This is not about Palin, it is about the mainstream media's desire to have Barack Obama re-elected at any cost and to take down any Republican candidate who stands in the way.
Rush Limbaugh gave an excellent dramatic reading of this post yesterday, and Jacobson has the video. Here's the transcript, with this commentary from Rush:
If Republicans are gonna sit by and watch Palin savaged, they'd better be prepared to sit by and watch the next one get savaged and the next one. Because that's what's coming.  If the Republicans cannot defend themselves over this kind of scurrilous, baseless, libelous charge, they got no business running.

They'll not be able to elect anybody.  If we shut up and be silent on this -- if we've got Republicans like Frum who will agree with the left-wing blogosphere and the mainstream media that Palin should shut up, that she should stop defending herself and it's a horrible travesty of just what Palin did; if we're gonna have Republicans sit around and give Obama credit for sitting by for four days while his allies try to take her out, then give a speech and get credit for the wonderful things he said about it -- then we got more idiots in our party than we would want to know....

This call for "civility"? They don't want us to be civil.  They want us to be cowed.  They want all of us to become Frumized.
Go to the links and read the whole thing to see why David Frum is tagged as the exemplar of a useful idiot. Wouldn't you like to see Jacobson and Frum is a dialogue on Bloggingheads? Frum has been on many times. Based on segment headings, he's never talked about Sarah Palin, though. Kind of odd, considering how hard it is not to talk about Sarah Palin. I'm going to recommend a Jacobson/Frum pairing. I think that would be quite delicious.

January 20, 2011

The best way to learn: Practice retrieving what you've studied.

"What we recall becomes more recallable in the future. In a sense you are practicing what you are going to need to do later."

In the study reported at the link, the students who wrote a free-form essay on what they remembered from what they'd read learned the material best, even though they felt least confident that they had remembered well.

"I have never seen a wildly successful adult who got there because his mother made him cry over his grades."

Says Ben Stein:
Men and women succeed because they find a field of endeavor that matches their interests and abilities. It's that simple. They then motivate themselves and achieve.... I don't believe the most successful people are the ones who got the best grades, got into the best schools, or made the most money. The most successful ones are those who find peace of mind. If they can do it with mothers who manufacture self-loathing the way Ms. Chua or Ms. Waldman do, it's despite those Moms and not because of them. This whole idea that there is something noble about browbeating your own children is just plain sick.
And then there's Lee Siegel:
Ms. Chua's book is a case study in how lack of self-knowledge, absence of empathy, and poor writing skills can be a blessing if you possess enough robotic ambition, callousness toward other people and lack of honesty about yourself and your subject. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an inspiration to aggressive mediocrities everywhere. The book wasn't written; it was assembled. 

Is anyone watching OWN?

Do you even know what it is?
When I started watching OWN, a couple of days after it began, on January 1st, I truly thought I was watching reruns from other cable channels.... From what I’ve seen so far, it’s numbingly unimaginative and middle of the road. What that road is, and where it’s going, and why we need to be on it remains to be seen. Promoting the channel, [Oprah] Winfrey likes to say that it will air nothing that will keep you from sleeping at night. “The intention of this channel is to bring good energy”...
Oh, but Oprah, the very idea of energy keeps me up at night.

The very first episode of Skeptoid was about the horror that is energy...
Energy is a measurement of something's ability to perform work. Given this context, when spiritualists talk about your body's energy fields, they're really saying nothing that's even remotely meaningful. Yet this kind of talk has become so pervasive in our society that the vast majority of Americans accept that energy exists as a self-contained force, floating around in glowing clouds, and can be commanded by spiritualist adepts to do just about anything....

"[O]nly the color of [Michelle Obama's] dress paid direct homage to China..."

"... red symbolizes good luck and happiness."

And Communism.

"It's amazing to watch them feed. They really do not like crawling on human skin."

"They crawl around on fabric to find some skin, then extend their rostrum to feed. That's one reason why people do not feel the feeding. They prefer not to crawl on you."

Thanks, bedbugs.

"[T]he new Beach Garbage Hotel in Madrid, Spain, which was made entirely out of trash and constructed to draw attention to pollution in the world's oceans."

Looks great in the pictures. Not as a hotel.

"The Worst Reality TV Judges of All Time."

From Padma Lakshmi to Twiggy.

"Once purified, the water is then frozen, where it is aged for at least 48 hours, increasing its density and making it colder and stronger."

Gourmet ice.

Discussion at Metafilter . Example:
These are the sorts of people our society rewards. I thought about that and I shivered a bit.


I'm quitting America guys.

"Do you dream of a fairytale wedding?"/'I think I’m well beyond the fairytale marriage stage."

Piers Morgan inanely interrogating Condoleezza Rice about marriage.

"The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner hosted a dinner for the guy holding the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner in prison..."

"... and the media does not get the irony of this at all."

Half a century ago, the inauguration of JFK.

Ian Crouch comments:
It was a bright and blustery day in Washington fifty years ago today for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. An old newsreel reporting the day’s events notes that the city was recovering from a blizzard and that “battalions of snow fighters kept Pennsylvania Avenue clear for the swearing-in ceremony.” That earnest footage also communicates the enthusiasm that accompanied the event for many in the country. It was “the smoothest transition of power in history” from Eisenhower to Kennedy, the newsreader informs us. Nixon, recently defeated, even manages to smile brightly. Yet it was a new day, a new age: Kennedy was, at forty-three, then the youngest President and the first born in the twentieth century....

What's so bad about shuffling Republicans and Democrats together for the State of the Union Address?

The Washington Times hates the idea:
A letter to congressional leaders signed by proponents of this exercise in musical chairs claims...
Musical chairs? Clearly, the Washington Times has never played musical chairs. Musical chairs would be quite funny: Make the Congresspeople scramble for what are too few chairs, and kick out everyone who can't find a seat. Where's your kinder, gentler more civil politics then?
... "the choreographed standing and clapping of one side of the room - while the other side sits - is unbecoming of a serious institution. And the message that it sends is that even on a night when the president is addressing the entire nation, we in Congress cannot sit as one, but must be divided as two." [Senator Mark] Udall is clearly focused on the wrong problem. Presumably orgiastic clapping, not sitting stonefaced, is what offends the seriousness of the august institution.
I don't know much about the Washington Times's sex life, but I think it's got orgasms wrong too. I'll bet, if you did a scientific study, you'd find that, during orgasm, remaining stonefaced is much more common than applause. But I do agree that it would offend the seriousness of the august institution if the President's admirers really acted like they were having orgasms.

Shifting the seats around will not alter the president's applause lines. Democrats, wherever placed in the chamber, will still faithfully rise and clap at the appointed times. If such demonstrations are what Mr. Udall believes are "unbecoming" to the Congress, then Democrats should instruct their members to refrain from such demonstrations, similar to how the NFL has tried to promote civility by cracking down on post-touchdown celebrations.
I think the Democrats should instruct their members to show a little more NFL-style enthusiasm:

If clapping isn't banned, the primary effect of the seating change would be to distribute standing ovations across the chamber, making it appear that the president enjoys more congressional support than he does in fact.
That's the theory that's going around, but I'd like to see how it really would look. When the cameras can't zero in on a clump of idolators and must show the President's friends next to his enemies skeptics, we will see exactly what is going on: We've got a partisan Congress. There are a lot more Republicans than Democrats these days: The disproportion may be more likely to look obvious if they are all mixed up. And the juxtaposition of fans and sourpusses will be more amusing in close-up shots.

I say mix it up!

"A lot of bloggers will just grab stuff and make judgments... I love the fact that he’s successful because he’s not trying to be negative."

The celebrity PR people love the extra-nice blogger, who apparently gets invited everywhere (and makes millions). The blogger's name is Jared Eng, and the blog is called Just Jared. Man, I was just thinking about how nobody's going to use the name Jared anymore. Before the recent massacre, Jared was a good new baby name, likely to be chosen by parents attracted to the ultra-popular "J" names — Jacob, Joshua, Justin — and wanting to get a bit more unusual. But, post-massacre, there's a new thirst for syrup...
[M]ore than a few publicists have taken to nicknaming Mr. Eng the “nice Perez Hilton”...

“I don’t throw anyone under the bus,” he said. “It’s all objective and/or positive.”...

Mr. Eng had a very sheltered childhood, growing up in Fresh Meadows, Queens, the third oldest among five boys. His Chinese-American parents raised him strictly, limiting his television diet to 30 minutes per week....
30 minutes! Outrageous slacking! Somebody call Amy Chua! That boy's a disgrace!

"This is my little hourglass, and it has like over 5,000 little diamonds in it. And they're real."

A view from inside what Kimora Lee Simmons calls her "brain" — that is, her closet, her "satellite closet, a smaller version of the the mother ship."


Meade overhead me playing the video that's at the link, and asked, from across the big room, who it is...
Me: Kimora Lee Simmos.

Meade: Mara Liasson? NPR?
Which — you've got to watch the video — is really quite hilarious. Imagine Mara Liasson showing off her fancy shoes and handbags like that. But maybe the NPR folk actually do go home to posh mansions and wealth beyond belief.

Now, "go in peace, and be fabulous." That could be an NPR sign-off, don't you think?

"When I look at her, I can see me. With that other lady..."

"... I would always be searching for stuff we had in common, but I had nothing in common with her... I'm so happy. At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand new. It's like being born again."

She was lost, but now she's found.

"The 50 Most Loathsome Americans of 2010."

1) You

Charges: Your brain’s been cobbled together over millions of years of blind evolution and it shows. You’re clumsy, stupid, weak and motivated by the basest of urges. Your MO is both grotesquely selfish and unquestionably deferential to questionable authority. You’re not in control of your life. You wear your ignorance like a badge of honor and gleefully submit to oppression, malfeasance and kleptocracy. You will buy anything. You will believe anything. You believe that evolution is a matter of belief. You likely scrolled down to #1, without reading the rest, because you’re an impatient, semi-literate Philistine who’s either unable or unwilling to digest more than 140 characters at a time. You think Epic Beard Man is a national hero and that Bradley Manning might be Eli and Payton’s brother. You believe in American exceptionalism despite the contrary, compelling and overwhelming evidence. You tacitly partake in all manner of atrocity without batting a lash. You’re actively participating in our species’ extinction and you’re either in denial or you just don’t give a shit. You escape into every sort of mind-numbing distraction and ridiculous, convoluted fantasy, so you don’t have to face the bitter, terrifying fact that your life is utterly meaningless.

Aggravating factors: The careers of Rush Limbaugh, Oprah Winfrey, John Stossel and Justin Bieber; the success of The Secret, “Medium” and Atlas Shrugged; the election of Rand Paul; the existence of Kentucky, Texas and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”

Sentence: Bad teeth, an affinity for afternoon tea and the guilt-plagued, nostalgic psyche of a fallen empire.
Click through to see who "you" beat. Barack Obama is on the list, but it's not exactly bipartisan. Great illustration. Good detail. Many pop culture and sports characters are included.

January 19, 2011

At the Orange Pancake Café...


... did you put sweet potatoes in that?

"Pennsylvania is not a Third World country."

"There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago."

Why, then, was nothing done? Prosecuting Gosnell is not enough.

"Hawaii governor can't find Obama birth certificate."


ADDED: Here's what the Governer said today when asked about his plans "to release more information regarding President Barack Obama's birth certificate":
I got a letter from someone the other day who was genuinely concerned about it; it is not all just political agenda. They were talking on Olelo last night about this; it has a political implication for 2012 that we simply cannot have.... It was actually written I am told, this is what our investigation is showing, it actually exists in the archives, written down... What I can do, and all I have ever said, is that I am going to see to it as governor that I can verify to anyone who is honest about it that this is the case. If there is a political agenda then there is nothing I can do about that, nor can the president.

Are you going to watch the new season of "American Idol"?

I'm going to check it out. I'm interested in how they deal with the absence of Simon and whether there's some resonance with America's (supposed) new civility.

UPDATE: I think they've done a reasonably good job of rolling in the new judges, but too much time was spent trying to establish that Jennifer Lopez is the "new Paula." I'm not interested in her preening over how nice she is. If she can't judge, she shouldn't be a judge. But I blame the editors. They think — I assume — that a "new Paula" is what the people want. Steven Tyler is focused and crisp. He'll be okay. But everyone needs to sharpen up. I don't want to watch Jennifer Lopez show us that she's a nice person, and I don't want to see the contestants demonstrating their love for her either.

UPDATE 2: Basically, a successful adjustment to Simonlessness. Steven Tyler is particularly good at simple, short, varied statements. Both Tyler and Lopez have interesting and expressive faces — which saved a lot of time, when, really, all we need to hear is yes or  no. Randy seems to take naturally to the seat of authority. We never saw the judges fight or even disagree, so the emphasis was on the contestants, and we mainly saw good ones. No one was humiliated, and we weren't subjected to the usual demonstrations of delusion and the mundane fact that many people sing off-key. Yeah, it might get boring as they sift through all the cities in Stage 1 of the competition, but it might get better as it becomes less urgent to convince us that Lopez and Tyler will be okay.

"Gays are greener than heterosexuals."

"Most (55%) of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) adults say they 'personally care a great deal about the current state and future of the environment,' compared with 33% of heterosexuals, according to the Harris Interactive survey. Also, 40% of LGBT adults say they 'encourage others to be more environmentally friendly,' compared with 24% of heterosexuals."

Is it possible to ski after class, when class ends at 4:50 and it's January?


Yes, with some help from the moon.

"In truth, Ms. Chua’s memoir is about one little narcissist’s book-length search for happiness."

"And for all its quotable outbursts from Mama Grisly (the nickname was inevitable), it will gratify the same people who made a hit out of the granola-hearted 'Eat, Pray, Love.'"

CORRECTION: Lord knows how I changed "Eat, Pray, Love" into "Hat, Pray, Love." Corrected. But laughing. I hate crap like "Eat, Pray, Love." "Hat, Pray, Love"? Shoulda been "Hate, Pray, Love."

The House votes to repeal Obamacare.

With all 242 Republicans voting yes, and all but 4 Democrats voting no. 3 Democrats voted yes. (Gabrielle Giffords was the only member of the House who did not vote.)

"Pwease Don't Twead on Me."

Hazy Dave tweaks his Gadsden flag design. (For all the Gadsden redesigns, click here.)

In the new "informational privacy" case — Justice Scalia talks about evaporated, refreshing, Lincolnesque honesty; pontificating in the guise of judicial minimalism; and what I think are McGuffins.

"I agree with the Court, of course, that background checks of employees of government contractors do not offend the Constitution," writes Justice Scalia in a concurring opinion in NASA v. Nelson, a unanimously decided case issued this morning:
But rather than reach this conclusion on the basis of the never-explained assumption that the Constitution requires courts to “balance” the Government’s interests in data collection against its contractor employees’ interest in privacy, I reach it on simpler grounds. Like many other desirable things not included in the Constitution, “informational privacy” seems like a good idea—wherefore the People have enacted laws at the federal level and in the states restricting the government’s collection and use of information. But it is up to the People to enact those laws, to shape them, and, when they think it appropriate, to repeal them. A federal constitutional right to “informational privacy” does not exist.
Scalia notes the "remarkable and telling fact," which he says he has never seen before in the Supreme Court, that the party saying his rights have been violated does not — even once —cite a constitutional text in his brief:
To tell the truth, I found this approach refreshingly honest. One who asks us to invent a constitutional right out of whole cloth should spare himself and us the pretense of tying it to some words of the Constitution.

Regrettably, this Lincolnesque honesty evaporated at oral argument....
Questioned at oral argument, Nelson's lawyer said what you'd expect him to say: the Due Process Clause. And then Scalia goes on to say what you'd expect him to say, disparaging "the infinitely plastic concept of 'substantive' due process."

Scalia also attacks the majority's "judicial minimalism" — manifested in its failure to say whether at some point — though not in this case — there may be a violation of a constitutional right to informational privacy. It's "not actually minimalist" to decide cases this way, Scalia says, because the Court took the opportunity able "to pontificate upon a matter that" — if there is no such right — "is none of its business: the appropriate balance between security and privacy." And if there is such a right...
I fail to see the minimalist virtues in delivering a lengthy opinion analyzing that right while coyly noting that the right is “assumed” rather than “decided.” Thirty-three years have passed since the Court first suggested that the right may, or may not, exist. It is past time for the Court to abandon this Alfred Hitchcock line of our jurisprudence.
Alfred Hitchcock line of jurisprudence...  I think that has something to do with McGuffins.

ADDED: I moved the erstwhile title of this post into the first line so I could write a more exciting headline. I've got to push myself to be more sensationalistic. I hope you appreciate the effort.

"I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death..."

"... unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country."

"I was kind of, really mad, sort of... I was trying to think back, 'What did I miss? What did I do wrong?'"

That's what Abhinav Venigalla thought when he fell 10 points short of a perfect score on the math SAT, which he took in 7th grade as part of a part of a Johns Hopkins University competition.

Factor that into your thinking about teaching kids self-esteem.

The NYT picks up part of my diavlog with Glenn Loury...

... the gun control part.

The National Enquirer says that Obama is "scary skinny" because he's "secretly battling stomach parasites."

Sorry. It's slimy even to link to this. But I'm linking to debunk it.
The pencil-thin president caught the parasites on a trip last year to Hawaii, where he and his family also vacationed over Christmas, according to top political insiders.
If that were really true, people would be flocking to Hawaii to get the parasites so they could lose weight. Oh? You think that's absurd? People wouldn't do that? They get surgery on their stomachs— surgery that could kill them — and that only makes them lose weight because they eat less. If there were parasites that made you ultra-thin, people would buy them and swallow them whole. We'd be seeing ads on the internet.

Things said about Dick Cheney lead me to reaffirm my decision to vote for Obama.

Instapundit picked up on the Cheney-hate wisecrack I blogged yesterday:
CIVILITY CAMPAIGN NOT CATCHING ON: “Cheney’s heart transplant. Wouldn’t that be the worst day ever? Not only are you dead but they’ve given your heart to THAT prick!”

Plus, from the comments: “Obama ends up adopting half these policies in his continuance of his war on terror. And yet, whereas these policies made Cheney Darth Vader and the Emperor rolled into one, under Obama these policies are not even worth mentioning.” That Obama adopted them too only makes Cheney more evil — for undermining the fierce moral urgency of change. And then mocking The One for going along.
That last link goes to Tom Maguire, who notes Glenn Greenwald's moaning over Cheney's solemn observation that Obama, as President, has recognized the importance of the Bush administration's policies and made them his own:
“I think he’s been through the fires of becoming president and having to make decisions and live with the consequences,” Cheney said. “I think he’s learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate ... I think he’s learned from experience.”
And I just want to say that this is part of why I voted for Obama. I explained my vote on November 9, 2008, just after the election and made a prediction that I think you should now see was right. Here's the key part, where I quote what I blogged on October 30:
October 30: I come to terms with the problem of 1-party government:
Usually, I prefer divided government, but that doesn't mean I need to support McCain. I've seen McCain put way too much effort into pleasing Democrats and flouting his own party, and I can picture Obama standing up to the Democratic Congress and being his own man. What, really, will he owe them? McCain, by contrast, will need them. And we've seen that he wants to be loved by them.

Sometimes, I think that letting the Democrats control everything for 2 years would work out just fine. Let one party take responsibility for everything. When they can't whine and finger-point, what will they actually step up and do? It will be interesting to know. And it will do the Republicans good to retool and define themselves, with an eye toward the 2010 election. I'd like to see this clarification after so many years of obfuscation.
This goes along with my problem that McCain had abandoned the effort to define himself as conservative. I could see myself voting for a conservative. I would like some good conservatism. But I did not see it in McCain. Certainly, just bringing in Palin was no substitute for having his own clear principles.
Also in that November 9th post I quote something I wrote on November 3:
One thing I don't like about John McCain is that he never showed respect for Bush. He was all about distancing himself from Bush, but if it's distance you want from Bush, there's Obama. And Obama had no reason to defend the other party's President, but for all his criticism of Bush's policies, I don't remember Obama taking ugly potshots at Bush. McCain treated Bush like an outcast. Was there even a word of defense for the man who protected us from terrorist attacks for 7 years?
Before you bitch about Obama, do a clear, honest visualization of where we'd be right now if McCain were President. Take account of the benefit we have received as the Obama administration has had to embrace many of Bush's policies, and these things have become the norm. And look at what the Republicans have done with their period of exile. Now, seriously picture what the political discourse would be if the Republicans had held onto power.

I know some of you are ready to list the terrible things the Democrats did in their 2 years of dominance. I'm not saying there wasn't a down side. The Democrats did a lot more damage than I thought possible. But McCain would have gone along with a lot of things, and there would be continuing partisan criticism about the wars. Everything having to do with national security would be pinned on McCain and presented in the worst possible light, for the aggrandizement of the Democratic Party.

If McCain had won, we would not have experienced the revitalization of the conservative movement that had such a tremendous effect on the 2010 elections and is shaping the next presidential election. Finally, think about all the angst there would be right now over the lost opportunity to experience the brilliant hope that was Barack Obama. Instead of the wistful imaginings of the glories of Obama administration that could have been, we have the reality. We get to see it, criticize it, and sharpen our conservative politics on it.

"You're more liberated to act when you've internalized those low approval ratings."

"This is a White House and a president that are in some ways galvanized by a crisis."

(A quote from 2008.)

"People grew up in church, so a lot of us lived in shame."

"What did we do? We wandered around lost. We married men, and then couldn’t understand why every night we had a headache."

From a NYT article about how it's a lot easier to be gay in the South than it used to be — with special attention to gay people with children:
A large number of gay couples, possibly a majority, entered into their current relationship after first having children with partners in heterosexual relationships, [demographer Gary] Gates said. That seemed to be the case for many blacks and Latinos in Jacksonville, for whom church disapproval weighed heavily.

Bob Dylan will write 6 books.

Seeking an 8-figure sum, he got a deal with Simon & Shuster for an undisclosed amount.

Does the old man have 6 books in him? There are 2 more volumes of "Chronicles" to come. I loved Volume 1. A third book will be a compilation of dialogue from his "Theme Time" radio show (so that's something that doesn't need to be written). What are the other 3 books? Photographs, letters, song lyrics... coffee table type gift books. How hard can it be, really? Writing Volumes 2 and 4 of "Chronicles" will be difficult. I'm not suggesting he's cashing in and taking us for a ride. 8-figures? Sure. Give it to him.

"Tread on me, please, I'm a masochist!"

Dr. Weevil adapts Hazy Dave's version of the Gadsden flag.


You can collect all the entries in my "Redesign the Gadsden flag" enterprise by clicking here.

Powerline picked up "It's OK to Tread on Me Now/I Have Health Insurance" for a post about Obamacare.

ADDED: I like Dr. Weevil's quip: "Here’s my submission."

January 18, 2011

At the Heart of Gold Café...


... slice into the meat of things and show us what you're really like.

"How you answer the question 'What do you do?' is important..."

"... because it frames your story for you in a much more visceral way than it frames it for anyone else."

"Cheney's heart transplant. Wouldn't that be the worst day ever? Not only are you dead but they've given your heart to THAT prick!"

A comment on Facebook (from one of my friends) on this article.

"Well, given that we prize women for sex rather than childbearing nowadays..."

"... maybe it makes sense that women want to look at what’s supposed to be their sexual, rather than reproductive, peak — age 36!"

Glenn Reynolds makes a great point about the "zero face" article we were talking about yesterday.

Another "civility flag."

That one is from Hazy Dave, who says he "fooled around with putting a baby rattle on the tail a bit, but didn't think the complication was necessary."

"Find ways to be unemployed, doing nothing, finding enough time on your hands, after you've met your basic needs, to wander into unknown realms of thought and imagination."

"You can't do it when you're busy working like everyone else, collecting a paycheck, keeping regular hours, depending on the goodwill and collegiality of customers, coworkers, bosses — if you choose employment in academia, it's no different, you still have clients and bosses to please. Avoid this gentle poison by figuring out ways you can mock the system by taking from it what it needs to give you to maintain your writing, and give it nothing back in return."

From Anis Shivani's "New Rules for Writers," specifically, Rule #4: "Seek Unemployment."

ADDED: I had a link to a book of Shivani's before. The link is corrected. There's a whole, very interesting article to read!

AND: Thanks to Instapundit for linking — "ADVICE TO WRITERS: Go John Galt?" — and getting me to notice my bad link. Perhaps the trend of the comments will change with the whole context of the quote and the cue from Glenn to think in Randian terms.

"What is government if words have no meaning?" — Jared Loughner's question to Gabrielle Giffords is " the stuff, not just of right-wing suspicion of government, or of radical left-wing suspicion of same, but of scores of Hollywood movies."

Writes Lee Siegel:
... from Taxi Driver and Three Days of the Condor, to Guilty by Suspicion and Mercury Rising, to The Sentinel and Syriana, and, well, I can't keep up. For at least half a century, our movies, from simple to complex, have been driven by the idea that official words have no meaning and that government is either criminal or a sham.
If you haven't seen the movies:
...you have probably read the standard texts of advanced American attitudes. Thus you have absorbed throughout college, like any number of Hollywood screenwriters and American tastemakers, the idea — from Nietzsche to Wittgenstein to Foucault to Derrida to Chomsky to Stanley Fish — that the words used by any type of official, political entity, like a government, are nonsense. "What is government if words have no meaning?" That could be the motto of The Daily Show.
If we're soaking in a culture of nihilism, why are most of us holding up so well?

"Sarah Palin, she won't listen to their bunk. Sarah Palin's coming south to hunt some skunk."

Via Andrew Sullivan, who calls this "a fantastic nugget of hathos." I call it awesome. I do think "hunt some skunk" is an inappropriate metaphor after the Tucson massacre (though this performance predates that).

I got to Sullivan through the commenter 1jpb, who said: "Sully's got some funny stuff up. And, it's very civil (as it is when cons mock the BHO tribute videos)."

Singing to the glory of politicians should always appear ridiculous if not repulsive. Let's remember the classic benchmark of absurdity:

FROM THE COMMENTS: EDH says: "Notice, the 'Sarah Palin Battle Hymn' shares a martial theme if not metaphor with Amy Chua's 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.'"


... roadkill silhouette in frost and warmth.

"Everything you touch turns to gold. Could you touch me?"

Piers Morgan embarrasses himself trying to interview Oprah.

Andrew Sullivan reflects on the "difficult task is summoning the right amount of anger with the right amount of generosity of spirit."

Including the way he has treated Sarah Palin:
Here, there is no conceivable way in which, in my judgment, her presence on the national stage can improve our discourse, help solve our problems or improve public life. But that does not forbid one from noting the great example she has shown in rearing a child with Down Syndrome, whatever his provenance, or noting her effectiveness as a demagogue, or from admiring her father's genuineness or her skill in exploiting new media. I've consistently tried to do this without undercutting my still-raw amazement that an advanced democratic society could even contemplate putting such an unstable and irresponsible person in a position of any real power.
His approach to the new civility, he says, will be "generous anger: a classically Orwellian term." The idea is "to make strong and lively points without demonization."

The Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

"The L&E Clinic provides legal education on the role of lawyers in entrepreneurship, researches legal issues facing start-up businesses, and provides service to fledgling businesses."

(I'm excited about the location: the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, which is a very cool new building on campus that includes a beautiful "Town Center.")

Classrooms with no teachers? Of course not.

These aren't "classrooms." These are "e-learning labs." If they were "classrooms," they'd be covered by Florida’s Class Size Reduction Amendment.

You know what would be a good subject to teach in an e-learning lab? How to Evade Legal Requirements.

"House Republicans plan to vote tomorrow to repeal last year’s health care overhaul."

"One of the key defenses of the law is that it will reduce the deficit over the next decade and the decades to come. But the projections employed to make this argument just aren’t believable. Democrats gamed the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring process, producing a score that distorted the long-term numbers and was believable only under a set of fantastic and improbable assumptions."

Stanley Fish finds "a unity" to Sarah Palin book "America by Heart," but "it is not one Palin proclaims or works out discursively."

NYT readers will have their Sarah Palin processed through the Mind of Fish:
Rather, the unity is conveyed by the quotations that carry the argument, long (sometimes two-page) quotations from an impressive variety of authors, quotations that are strong in isolation and even stronger when they are laid next to one another. The book is really an anthology. The author does not present herself as controlling or magisterial; she gives her authorities space and then she gets out of the way. Her performance mimes the book’s lesson: rather than acting as a central authority, she lets individual voices speak for themselves. Humility is not something Palin is usually credited with, but here she enacts it by yielding the stage as others proclaims the truths she wants us to carry away.
Sarah Palin is doing something that is, perhaps, pure genius, and it takes the brilliant professor to say what she is doing so that the ideas are apparent even to New York Times readers, who are well-defended against the notion that Palin is anything but stupid. Even slapped in the face by Fish...

... they resist. I'll be the professor translating the diverse items into a unity for your easy consumption: NOOOOOOOOO! Favorite way of saying "no": surely, the book was actually written by Bill Ayers some ghostwriter.

"President Barack Obama plans a government-wide review of federal regulations, aiming to eliminate rules that stymie economic growth."

"The move is the latest effort by the White House to repair relations with corporate America, hoping to spur investment by the nation's largest multinationals and reduce unemployment."

And here's the underlying Wall Street Journal op-ed by Barack Obama, which features an illustration of a man — not Obama... he looks a bit like Don Imus — in a gray business suit, running with scissors — running with scissors! — cutting his way through an abstract field of red tape. In the op-ed, Obama is all about carefully and thoughtfully weighing the value of particular regulations in relation to the burdens they impose, so the picture is amusingly inapt.

"I am working to make a delicious Wisconsin human cheddar."

"I purchased the milk from [a woman who] shipped it to me in ice, from Wisconsin... I found [her] on an online marketplace for breast milk – where women regularly arrange to sell and donate their milk. It’s pretty interesting, women set the price of their breast milk depending on if they provide blood work, and also the health of their diet."

Via Metafilter.

This remind me of Ricky Gervais and that rice pudding. From his Newsweek list of things that annoy him:
People who think they're "eccentric." What does that mean? You wear lots of different hats? You ride a funny-colored bike? That makes you eccentric? A friend of mine moved out to the country, and the woman next door came round; she was sort of hippie-ish, very long hair, back to nature, all that stuff. And she says, "I've made you a rice pudding, and I've made it with breast milk, because, you know, waste not, want not!" So my friend took it, threw it away, washed the dish and gave it back. He said to her, "Thanks, that was great!" I couldn't believe it. I told him that he should've said, "No, there is no way I'm eating that. Definitely not. Do not bring me any other bodily-function puddings."
That's the cleaned-up-for-Newsweek version. Get the podcast, Series 5 Episode 2. I don't have a complete transcript, but Wikipedia quotes:
Ricky: Surely you draw the line there, of a stranger’s breastmilk.

Steve: Oh yeah yeah, no absolutely… any kind of jizz flan....

Ricky: Here’s a cum sandwich. It doesn’t matter if it’s natural, it’s fucking disgusting.
ADDED: The A.V. Club says:
Of course, anyone looking to whip up some human cheese should definitely hit up the Dairy State for the breast milk, but that’s not the argument here. No, the real question is: Is cheese really the best place to start the “human milk” dairy product revolution?

David Brooks thinks Amy "Chua would do better to see the classroom as a cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood."

"Where do they learn how to manage people? Where do they learn to construct and manipulate metaphors? Where do they learn to perceive details of a scene the way a hunter reads a landscape? Where do they learn how to detect their own shortcomings? Where do they learn how to put themselves in others’ minds and anticipate others’ reactions?"

Brooks is talking about the much-talked-about book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother."

"Study: Many college students not learning to think critically."

Not surprising.
Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study....
I'd like a study analyzing whether the professors know how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument, and objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event.
Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education known for his theory of multiple intelligences, said the study underscores the need for higher education to push students harder.

"No one concerned with education can be pleased with the findings of this study," Gardner said. "I think that higher education in general is not demanding enough of students — academics are simply of less importance than they were a generation ago."

But the solution, in Gardner's view, shouldn't be to introduce high-stakes tests to measure learning in college because, "The cure is likely to be worse than the disease."
Hmm. Continuing my refocus to the failings of the teacher, let's analyze the critical thinking skills of Harvard professor Howard Gardner. Faculty ought to push students harder, but not resort to high-stakes testing? Why not? What's "likely" to be worse about that solution? Gardner blathers out some verbiage in pseudo-response to the study. He sounds as though he just knee-jerk hates the pressure of exams. Presumably, it has something to do with his famous theory of multiple intelligences, but I wish he'd be honest and specific about why he thinks these things.

How about adding to the list of "intelligences" the capacity to evade critical thinking without getting caught?

Sarah Palin talks about Tucson with Sean Hannity.

The video.

January 17, 2011

"Are there any 'unlovely aspects' to female sexuality? And, if so, what social institutions legitimize them?"

Glenn Reynolds reacts to Natasha Vargas-Cooper "going on and on and on about 'the unlovely aspects of male sexuality that porn legitimizes.'"

"Can one man unilaterally change the zodiac?"

An astronomer brings science to what isn't science but refers to some scientific facts that are susceptible to being set straight, and suddenly you might find yourself Ophiuchus, the Snake Annoyer.

Why does Ross Douthat use marriage (bad marriage) as an analogy for the way media deals with Sarah Palin?

"The whole business felt less like an episode in American political history than a scene from a particularly toxic marriage — more 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' than 'The Making of the President.' The press and Palin have been at war with each other almost from the first, but their mutual antipathy looks increasingly like co-dependency: they can’t get along, but they can’t live without each other either."

Why does it feel like a marriage to Ross Douthat? I'll offer 2 possible answers. See if you get it right:

1. Because Sarah Palin is a woman.

2. Because Sarah Palin is a conservative.

"There’s no news cycle anymore."

"You don’t want to be coming into the office at 8 a.m., and everyone is saying, 'Oh my God, can you believe what happened?' And you’re going, 'What happened?'"

Hmm. Do I need to get up really early in the morning to try to "win the day"? Or should I put stuff up at midnight to snag these creepy people who get up at 4 a.m.?

In the future, everyone will be...

... 36.

I talk with Glenn Loury about the Arizona massacre.

This goes for about 48 minutes. I think it's pretty good. I'll listen to it myself now and pick out some high spots.

JFK's "application to Harvard, including mediocre test scores and a refreshingly banal personal essay."

Found in the JFK Library's digital archives. You know, there really was a time when you filled out the application form in handwriting, dashing off a few sentences in the space provided to answer the question "Why do you wish to come to Harvard?" (or whatever school you were applying to). These separate pages of ultra-tweaked writing that people attached to the form in later decades are really just as banal. I mean, seriously, "Why do you wish to come to Harvard?" is a stupid question that deserves an answer like the one JFK scrawled in 1935: "To be a 'Harvard Man' is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain."

Also refreshing is the letter from JFK's father:
Jack has a very brilliant mind for the things in which he is interested, but is careless and lacks application in those in which he is not interested. This is, of course, a bad fault.

Remember when Joe Biden said "Say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time"?

That was last June. What counted as "smartass" was a Kopp’s Frozen Custard stand owner saying — in response to Biden's asking what he owed for the ice cream cone — "Nothing, just lower our taxes." A reader — perhaps prompted by yesterday's  "bite me" post — reminded me of what I wrote at the time:
Bite me. When the powerful seek to work their will upon us and demand that we be nice about it, that's the right response: Bite me. Even if he were the one being nice about it, we shouldn't have to put up with it without complaint.

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - "Bite me!" Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, "Bite me!" Then we'll figure out what to do about the recession and the taxes and the oil spill. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "Bite me."
The second paragraph, is, of course, a play on the famous scene from the 1976 movie "Network":

Did you watch the clip? How did it affect you today, after all the talk last week about the need for newly civil discourse in America? What is the role of angry speech? "First, you've got to get mad," we're told. "Mad as hell." You've got to yell. This is a dramatic speech that has resonated with Americans for 35 years. Why? And what does that tell you about the importance of maintaining civility?

Help me generate a list of smart, articulate Palin supporters who would do well in a Bloggingheads-type diavlog with a Palin-hater.

We were talking about the fact that Bloggingheads, despite endless talk about Sarah Palin, never has anyone on who actually supports her. But who could they have? It needs to be someone who would actually do it. You have to put up with and respond to whatever the other person throws at you in an unedited hour of telephone conversation. The pay is $0. Help me generate some names.

"I give Ben Roethlisberger a lot of credit. He's man enough to stand in the pocket and look down the barrel of a gun and take the hit."

"There's not a lot of quarterbacks in the league that do that. Most quarterbacks don't like getting hit. They get hit and they turn into a totally different person.''

How does football fit into the new civility? As Original Mike said in the comments yesterday:
Oh, great. The Packers are playing the Bears for the NFC championship and it's "let's all be civil" week.
Maybe a civil AFC game would make more sense, but I'd rather watch Roethlisberger look down the barrel of a gun and take the hit. (I've got to admit, it seems wrong to write that... even though Sports Illustrated wrote it.

"Who are the top 10 greatest classical composers?"

"That question has prompted over a thousand commenters in the New York Times to give their opinions..."

Jaltcoh has his response, with argument and YouTube clips to justify his choices. (He's beginning a countdown, so the linked post only has #10 and #9.)
Debussy started the ignition of the 20th century, but Stravinsky drove down most of its roads.
And then what happened to this metaphorical 20th century music-car?  Who drove it into the ditch? Who's standing by the side of the road drinking on a Slurpee or something? (Sorry... I'm more of a connoisseur of metaphor than music.)

"Just remember, amid all these new calls for civility, no one on the left thought this ad was over the top — even though it advocated murdering global warming skeptics."

Bryan Preston (via Instapundit).

I remember a lot of criticism of that ad though, and I'm skeptical of the assertion that "no one on the left thought this ad was over the top." Anyone who liked the ad, I assume, would say that because it's so exaggerated, everyone understands that it's a joke. If that's true, then it's wrong to assert that it "advocated murdering" anybody. But I think some people on the left did criticize it:
[The ad] elicited a furious reaction from some environmentalists. Bill McKibben of 350.org felt moved to write on the popular Climate Progress blog that the film was "noxious":
The climate skeptics can crow. It's the kind of stupidity that hurts our side, reinforcing in people's minds a series of preconceived notions, not the least of which is that we're out-of-control and out of touch — not to mention off the wall, and also with completely misplaced sense of humor.
Under a blogpost titled 'That 10:10 video... not in my name', Rob Hopkins of the Transition Town movement for more sustainble communities, wrote:
I have to say I am shocked, and appalled by this, and I'm on their side!...
More at the link.
Nevertheless, it's still fair to say that there are a lot of extreme and uncivil graphic depictions and statements that come from the left. The existence of that ad shows that it was believed — by people with the resources to make a very high-quality short film — that they could reach the general public with communication like that. I don't think a right-wing group with a serious intention to reach ordinary people would concoct such a thing.

Maybe I'm wrong about that. I don't like to see the power of violence exploited to sell political messages, but it is an easy way to get people's attention. That ad became viral — and I'm carrying the virus now — because it was so extreme. At some point, extremism backfires, but it's natural for the manufacturers of advertising to push it as far as they can.

What are the other ways to get our attention? Sex? It's hard to get that just right in a political setting. You'll irritate too many women before you do anything interesting. So, you can see why they go for violence. It's a psychological button just waiting to be pushed, and they've got to push something.

Try making ads that sell candidates or policies using the "civility" theme. I mean... try convincing your political opponents that they ought to try to sell their candidates and policies using the "civility" theme.

"You and I have each befriended each other on Facebook. And you will note that I am not using 'friend' as a verb."

Defining geezerhood, it's George Johnson:

Speaking of Facebook, "'The Social Network' Dominates Golden Globes." So the big movie of the year, the one that they were celebrating last night on television, as about something on the internet. Sorry. I didn't go out to the movie, and I didn't watch the TV awards show, because I was spending time on the internet — and I kind of think that was true of an awful lot of people.

"It's okay to tread on me now. I have health insurance."

You remember my challenge to redesign the Gadsden flag to reflect the new civility. That one is from Chip Cannon.

I've got more to come, and I'm still accepting entries. The idea is that the old threatening snake is inappropriate and must be toned down, lest unstable individuals take it the wrong way. You can go off the civility message, however. Just use the Gadsden flag and be interesting or amusing or something.

January 16, 2011

At the Ski Trail Café..


... we can glide along all night.

"Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation’s promise through civility, courage, compassion and character."

"America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness... We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment."

Who said that? Did he get what he asked for?

ADDED: I got to that quote through a New Republic article written at the time of the Obama inauguration that had the teaser-title "Screw Civility: Why Bush-Bashing Should Be Obama's Eeelection Strategy." The link goes to my blogging about it (which riffs on the misspelling "eeelection"). Anyway, check out the advice the lofty news journal gave to Obama:
Obama should save the civility shtick for Republicans he'll have to work with. As for the guy retiring to Texas, the new administration should ensure he remains the useful foil he was during the 2008 campaign. That starts with letting nothing--not public amnesia, not nostalgia, and certainly not a statesmanlike gesture from the White House--lift him from the PR cellar. When the new crew opens up the books on Bush's government, they ought to let every embarrassing detail out....
Democrats ran against Herbert Hoover for decades; Republicans kicked around Jimmy Carter for a dozen years. If Bush's successors play their cards right, Democrats could use his legacy as a thumb on their side of the scale for a generation....
Civility shtick. Mmm hmm. Use it when it's useful. Don't be a chump.

Football update: both 6-seeded teams have beaten 1 seeds and will go on to face 2 seeds.

It seems apt — right? — to regard these 2 erstwhile 6 seeds as the new #1 teams. So, let's predict that the Packers and the Jets will defeat those 2 seeds — the Bears and the Steelers — next week. As for the Super Bowl, let's remember what happened last time the Jets encountered the Packers:
Ugly. Sloppy. And, perhaps, a little rusty.

It all added up to one big dud for the New York Jets.

Mason Crosby kicked three field goals for Green Bay, and that was all the Packers needed as they held the Jets off the scoreboard for a 9-0 victory Sunday....

I got some help from Meade writing that, I confess. We were watching the Jets game, and I supported the Jets (in that game) based on my assessment of the costumes, which as you know, are very similar. However, in my view, the red faceguards on the Patriots helmets were garishly decorative (and possibly vision-impairing). After they won, the Jets, to my dismay, pranced off the field with their arms flung out and weaving around like a kid pretending to be an airplane. It was like those kids on the old PBS show "Zoom":


"The left wants us to be civil — after being so uncivil for a decade."

Notes Don Surber, whose response is: "Bite me."
When people protested lefties made vulgar remarks about tea-bagging and giggled.

So screw you and your civil discourse.

I don’t want to hear it.

I have been screamed at for 10 years.

It’s my turn now. I am not going to scream back. But I refuse to allow anyone to dictate what I say or how I say it. I refuse to allow the same foul-mouthed, foul-spirited foul people who dumped on me to now try to tell me what I may or may not say.... 
So screw you.

"If I had a potato launcher...I'd make somebody pay..."

"... for some potatoes, so I could safely bombard a paper target."

Golden Globes... are you watching?

I've set the DVR but I don't know if I'll look in.  I haven't seen any of the movies that are up for awards. (I've seen one or 2 of the TV things, but I've never cared about TV awards.)

I'm just not interested in sitting through movies these days. I find them boring and annoying. It's not the way I want to spend my time, and I don't believe the people of Hollywood have anything particularly interesting or useful to say to me. Yes, there is pure pleasure to be had... but in movies? Not so much.

Still, if you're watching, please feel free to hang out here. If something cool happens, I do have it recorded, and I'll go back and check it out.

ADDED: I'm not watching, but I did check out this slide show of the fashions. Angelina Jolie arrived as the Good Witch of Emerald City, Helena Bonham Carter came as an insane person, and most of the rest of them look like adults who, in the 1960s, looked like they belonged in the 50s.

During the last episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," TLC put up this teaser for its special "Kennedys' Home Movies."

Yes, they are both TLC shows, but why did TLC think the people watching a show about Sarah Palin and her family would be susceptible to a show about the Kennedys? (Meade raised this question in the comments to the post earlier today about "Sarah Palin's Alaska.")

Your first thought might be that it doesn't make much sense because liberals love the Kennedys and conservatives love the Palins. But let's assume TLC isn't run by idiots, that they know how to appeal to viewers. If you had to argue that a good chunk of the "Sarah Palin's Alaska" audience would like to watch "Kennedys' Home Movies," what would you argue?

I'd say: Not all American TV-watchers are strongly grounded in one political party or the other. These people are not cemented to abstract ideology. They may feel their way into politics through personalities. Or they may not care that much about politics at all and simply enjoy peering into the family lives of celebrities, and politicians are a special, elite breed of celebrity, like royalty. The Kennedys have been, for many people, America's royalty, and the Palins may be the new royal family that people who like that sort of thing like.

Obviously, there are differences. The Kennedys posed as European-style aristocracy, and the Palins present themselves as working-class Americans. But both are very much big, colorful families with a strong sense of geographical place — Massachusetts/Alaska — and a mesmerizingly beautiful and feminine woman to fascinate us. Both families have a lot of children who we get to see looking robust and active in outdoor settings — especially boats.

There's a romanticism of the family about it all. I'm not saying that's good. It's a point of entry by which political opinion seeps into a certain very common type of American brain. And it happens through television. Pay attention.


By the way, what do you think of the crazy culture clash that is Johnny Cash singing the Beatles ("In My Life") over home movies of the Kennedys?

My vision of the Super Bowl.

The Packers defeated the Eagles and the Falcons, so birds need to watch out. It will be more fun (next week) to see them go after the Bears. "Packers" refers to meat-packing, so I think Bears are more meat than Seahawks. Enough fowl. We want red meat. (So I want the Bears to win today.)

Now, after we the Packers butcher the Bears, it's on to the Super Bowl (which suggests a bird, Superb Owl, but there will be no birds in the Super Bowl). Who will face the Packers: Jets, Patriots, or Steelers. The best image isn't Packers against Jets. Jets are planes. I don't like the imagery. So Patriots or Steelers. Both are human beings. I think Steelers makes for the best imagery, because Packers and Steelers are both working guys. There's a nice parallelism to that, which pleases me.

I also care about what I like to call their "costumes." Certainly, yesterday, the Steelers' costumes were much better than the Ravens costumes. Man, the Ravens looked like they were wearing ladies' leggings. I think you want some color break at the knee, so I was for the Steelers.

I'm all about: How do they look? It's a spectator sport!

(Originally written as a comment, here.)

UPDATE: I'm watching the Seahawks and Bears game right now, and I'm seeing there's a player named Herring on the Seahawks team. That's like having a player named Honey on the Bears team. This reinforces my support for the Bears (this week).

UPDATE 2: The Jets and the Patriots have quite similar costumes. To understand the game, I need to keep trying to remember which team is dark on top and white on bottom and which is the other way around. It's like that "Last Battlefield" episode of "Star Trek" where one guy is white on the left side his face and black on the right side and the other guy is the reverse. To people who aren't intimately connected to the struggle, like Captain Kirk, it just doesn't look different enough to matter. And by the way, that episode of "Star Trek" was bogus as hell unless it's established that these people don't have mirrors. Anyway, I concede that top and bottom are easier to distinguish than right and left, and I also realize the dark color is different for the Jets and the Patriots, but I need more contrast.

"Is marriage responsible for turning the beastly male into a well-behaved husband?"

"Or are the upstanding men the ones who marry in the first place?"

An old mystery. The linked article is about a study that shows there's combined causality: Marriage tends to make men more upstanding citizens and more upstanding male citizens are more likely to find and commit to a mate.

Related mysteries: Should we incentivize marriage and pressure men into marriage in order to make society better for all of us? Must men marry women to get this social improvement or will gay marriage work too? Should women be enthusiastic about performing the function of improving men? Is the restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples a way to enlist unwilling women in the social enterprise of improving men?

CORRECTION: I'd originally written "same-sex" in that last question.

Holy Jeez! What if Sarah Palin is awesome?

HuffPo makes a montage from "Sarah Palin's Alaska" in an effort to make her look like the idiot they just know she is...

... and it totally backfires. She comes across as thoroughly lovable. Remember, as NYT columnist Charles Blow said:
"She’s like the ominous blob in the horror films: the more you shoot at it, the bigger and stronger it becomes."
By the way, has Blow walked back from his violent metaphor yet? Not only did he plant the image of shooting repeatedly at Sarah Palin in the minds of America's psychopaths and assorted young left-wing idealists, he compounded it with the suggestion that she isn't even human, that she is a monster who ought to be destroyed. Come on, Charles! Does the new civility apply to you or not?