January 29, 2011

At the Under-the-Table Café...



... come on! I dare you to say anything you think!


Photographs by Meade at the Milwaukee Art Museum today. The sculpture — called "Under the Table" — is by Robert Therrien.

"I had hoped... with millions of people, that our children will live in a more human society..."

"... but this society we have, lucky enough, that the heroes in Egypt are making today. They are not waiting for our children to dream. They are bringing all of our dreams true today.... The biggest square in the Arab world is being liberated today.... I'm proud to be an Egyptian today.... I kiss the dust under your feet."

(From the NYT live blog.)

"Lawyer Trades $1,100 Monthly Porsche Bill for $700-Per-Month BMW, But Loses Bid for Alimony Cut."

Oh, the sacrifices!

"Although it would have been illegal to fire him based on, say, his race or religion, firing him because of what he wore or because he is a Packers fan is not illegal."

"John Stone says it didn't occur to him that wearing a Green Bay Packers tie to work on Monday could get him fired."

"The crowd went unchallenged by troops, who... smiled and shook hands with protesters and invited them up onto their tanks."

"On Friday, the troops had appeared steadfastly neutral. Late Saturday, however, they were doing nothing to move demonstrators out of the streets..."
Asked if they would enforce the curfew, soldiers said they would not.

"We are with the people," said Ahmed, a 20-year-old conscript.

Soldiers accepted fruit, water and soda handed out by protesters in Tahrir Square and smiled as protesters chanted, "Go, Mubarak, go!" Children were hoisted up on tanks in the middle of the square to have their photos taken with troops as the hulking remains of the National Democratic Party headquarters building, home to Mubarak's ruling organization, burned in the background.

"A year ago, pretty much all law professors dismissed the argument as frivolous.... The law professors had a failure of imagination."

That's Randy Barnett — talking about the constitutional challenges to the health care law — quoted in Politico's ominously titled article "Right takes refuge in Constitution."

By the way, last Wednesday, I attended a Federalist Society-sponsored panel discussion here in Madison about this topic. One of the speakers was Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who has just taken steps to join the Florida lawsuit challenging the law. Also on the panel were Jon Richards, a state legislator who supports the law, and Ilya Somin, the George Mason law professor who has written that the lawsuits are at least not frivolous.

Scrambling to find 2 of the last few seats, Meade and I sat at a table which seemed to be full of lawyers who supported health care reform. One lawyer haughtily informed me that whatever law professors might think about the Constitution, it's really all politics, and this health care reform represents a big, important political effort and that's why it's going to be upheld in the courts. I said, if it's all politics, then what of all the politics pushing back against the law? What about the polls that show most people are against it and what about the last election? If you're going to say politics determines the outcome, then don't you have to take that politics into account too? The lawyer looked either alarmed or angry, because I, a law professor, didn't simply assert that the Constitution matters, which would have made it easy for him to irritatingly chuckle about naivete. But right then, the panel started, saving him from having to try to wriggle off my skewer.

Van Hollen kicked off the discussion with assertions that he joined the lawsuit not because he's opposed to the health care statute, but because of the rule of law. The litigation is important to test the scope of congressional power. We have a system of a balance of powers, which he likened to a "teeter-totter." The states have to take their position on the other side of the teeter totter or things aren't going to work very well. The idea is to push back against federal power and to give the courts the opportunity to clarify the law. Van Hollen speaks like the well-polished politician he is.

Richards was having none of this abstract rule-of-law business. Economic realities should trump legal jargon, he said. He portrayed constitutional law as a matter of technical conceptions that shouldn't be allowed to stop government from doing the things that need to be done. He focused on the policy reasons for supporting the law and the argument that the law is constitutional flowed naturally from his support of the law. As for lawsuits: "Lawsuits are a real distraction."

Somin said the rule of law is "technical conceptions" — which was the punchline of the day, in my view. He gave a measured presentation, explaining the case law in a professorly style, and assessing the odds that the Supreme Court would overturn the individual mandate. (He said the 4 liberals would stick together and uphold it, that the conservatives were a more "fractious" bunch, so although Scalia, Thomas, and Alito would vote against it, he doesn't know what Roberts and Kennedy will do.)

Here's my page of notes from the Somin part of the panel:


After that, there were some questions from the audience. One questioner, trying to get his mind around the notion that the failure to buy insurance is inactivity and arguably therefore not "economic activity" within the meaning of the Commerce Clause case law, said "If you look at a human being as a going concern...." — which I thought was pretty funny. Yes, the government sees us as little businesses, as we sit here ostensibly doing nothing: our hearts pump blood, our gut digests food, and our brain cells spark with resistance to the purchase of products the government knows we should be buying.

ADDED: Video of the panel, via Ilya.

"The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning 'regime change' for the past three years."

Reports the UK Telegraph, looking at a WikiLeaked document:
In a secret diplomatic dispatch, sent on December 30 2008, Margaret Scobey, the US Ambassador to Cairo, recorded that opposition groups had allegedly drawn up secret plans for “regime change” to take place before elections, scheduled for September this year...
Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. However, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and received extensive support for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.
That's 2008 — pre-Obama. And here's Elliott Abrams in the Washington Post: "Egypt protests show George W. Bush was right about freedom in the Arab world."
[The developments in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen] seem to come as a surprise to the Obama administration, which dismissed Bush's "freedom agenda" as overly ideological and meant essentially to defend the invasion of Iraq. But as Bush's support for the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and for a democratic Palestinian state showed, he was defending self-government, not the use of force. Consider what Bush said in that 2003 speech, which marked the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, an institution established by President Ronald Reagan precisely to support the expansion of freedom.

"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe - because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," Bush said. "As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export."

I defend Tracy Morgan for what he said about Sarah Palin and masturbation.

"It’s unfortunate Mr. Morgan showed a lack of judgment on our air with his inappropriate comments. We apologize for any embarrassment or offense it may have caused," says TNT, apologizing in nonapology form — Sorry if you were offended — for what Tracy Morgan said on "Inside the NBA."
During yesterday’s live broadcast, co-hosts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley handed 30 Rock‘s Morgan a microphone and asked him to settle a bet: Tina Fey or Sarah Palin? “Me and him have this argument all the time, ” crowed Smith, referring to Barkley. “[Morgan's] the only one who can settle it. Tina Fey or Sarah Palin?”
I'm going to defend Morgan. He did exactly what a great comedian should do. He called bullshit on Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley. They were doing their little show and keeping it light with fully deniable sexual innuendo. The question "Tina Fey or Sarah Palin?" implied sex. What Tracy Morgan did was not to bring sex up out of nowhere. It was seeing the sex that was already being talked about — in TV-friendly maybe-we're-not-really-talking-about-it style — and to surprise with a sudden jab of straight talk as if Kenny and Charles were already openly talking about masturbation. He called bullshit on their innuendo. Now, TNT prissily withdraws. Ha. I'm offended by their prissy withdrawal. They want the benefit of Smith and Barkley's roundabout references but they don't like the comedian undercutting the deniability.

"Adults who make love first thing in the morning apparently not only feel more upbeat for the rest of the day, but also benefit from a stronger immune system."

"Research suggests that adults who begin their day this way are healthier and happier than those who simply opt for a cup of tea and some toast before heading out of the door."

What do you think of this news about sex in the morning?
It's really unsexy! Sex isn't a health treatment.
It confirms my experience. I attribute my good health and mood to my sex-in-the-morning regime.
Good propaganda for getting my partner to go along with quickies.
It's depressing to hear one more reason why I'm feeling so bad.

pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: I think people are misunderstanding response #1, which I think is the best answer. "It" doesn't refer to sex in the morning. It refers to the news (that sex in the morning is good for your health). Let's have sex in the morning because it's a good heath treatment — that's unsexy. Ah! The aggravation I get for being subtle!

"In 1970, only one N.F.L. player weighed as much as 300 pounds..." and today there are over 500.


What do you think of all these 300 pound football players?
Impressive! I love Raji and those other big guys.
Huge mass is one way to do well in football, not the most impressive way, but... whatever works.
Sports should be a display of athletic prowess and ideal bodies, so this is not good.
The NFL flaunts its disregard for the health of the players.
pollcode.com free polls

January 28, 2011

"Rosie O'Donnell Show On Rush's Hu Mocking: Why Can't Chinese Accents Be Imitated?"

Rosie basically defends Rush. If what Rush did was so bad, how can we tolerate the Swedish Chef?

Here's Rush defending himself, bringing up Sid Caesar and Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Back in the old days, Sid Caesar, for those of you old enough to remember, was called a comic genius for impersonating foreign languages that he couldn't speak. But today the left says that was racism; it was bigotry; it was insulting. And it wasn't....

Have you ever seen the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's?... Then somebody needs to call Mickey Rooney and say, "Pal, that movie is very popular. You don't know how much of Chinese, Japanese culture you destroyed." They had Mickey Rooney playing, I forget whether it was a Japanese or Chinese character, complete with the buckteeth and the fake phony accent. I mean it's one of the greatest movies reputed of all time, Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, any number of people in that movie.
But do you really want to use Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" as part of your self-defense?

ADDED: I must say, I never found the Swedish Chef funny. It's just about laughing at the sound of a foreign language. Pretty low humor. I think the criticisms of the humor are overdone and obviously politically motivated.

AND: In case you didn't listen to the Rosie clip, Rosie's defense of Rush is interesting because she herself was savaged for imitating Chinese speech. That was back in 2006. Here's Michelle Malkin attacking her — mainly for hypocrisy. Malkin's point is: Don't ever go PC on conservatives, now, because you yourself were not PC.

Remember when comedy on TV looked like this?

Charlie Callas. Dead at 83.

Obama sounds "corporate and airy."

"Let me tell you something about Sarah Palin..."

"Good masturbation material. Great masturbation material."

Tracy Morgan answers the question asked.

"No one thought anything bad would happen. It was an adventure."

"So teachers made a special point of showing the lift-off to their classes.... And we needed to tell them something's gone wrong. And they kept asking, you know, are those people dead? And we had to tell them yes."

Don't you need some stuff?

If you're buying something anyway, please enter Amazon through this search box:

You'll be channeling a chunk of the purchase price to me, showing some appreciation for the writing I do here, which would warm my heart on this gray January afternoon in Wisconsin. You won't pay any more for the item you purchase.

Maybe you'd like a Curious George hat? Or a polar bear hat? We like these hats that transform you head into an animal head. I've seen some adorable 20-somethings wearing things like this around town. And we just bought 5 of the Bucky Badger heads, which you have to buy from the UW Book Store (which doesn't give me a cut of the price, unfortunately).

How to know everything you need to know.

I overheard this snippet of conversation today, as I was walking down State Street here in Madison, Wisconsin. 2 college-age guys, one in shorts. (The temperature is in the 20s.)
"Where's Mount Everest?"


"Did you say Seattle?!"


"I think it's in India somewhere."

"I don't care."
Now, there's wisdom in this ignorance. Is there not? As long as you don't care about whatever it is you don't know, you've got perfect intellectual equilibrium. You know everything you need to know. Unshakable wisdom. Sublime.

"Don’t Let Your Kids Do Their Own Taxes."

"It might backfire."

"Why won't the birther issue die?"


"While witches enjoy popular support in Romania..."

"... many in the government view them as swindlers whose presence makes their country seem superstitious and backwards.... It seems that tensions will diffuse when witches feel respected by their government and Romania feels respected by the West."

"[T]he long-fantasized-about meeting between Gervais' David Brent (the lead of the original British version of the show) and Steve Carell's Michael Scott..."

... was unfortunately leaked in advance, wrecking the surprise element, but pretty cool nonetheless:

"Comedy is where the mind goes to tickle itself."

"What happens when you disconnect a modern economy and 80,000,000 people from the Internet?"

"What will happen tomorrow, on the streets and in the credit markets? This has never happened before, and the unknowns are piling up. We will continue to dig into the event, and will update this story as we learn more. As Friday dawns in Cairo under this unprecedented communications blackout, keep the Egyptian people in your thoughts."

Links to commentary on this article can be found at Memeorandum.

January 27, 2011

Leopard vs. crocodile.

"It just doesn't make sense. The meat you get out of a crocodile is just not worth the risk it takes a predator to acquire.... I drove away, elated in disbelief. It may have been the most amazing thing I've ever seen."

"Himalayan glaciers are actually advancing rather than retreating..."

"... claims the first major study since a controversial UN report said they would be melted within quarter of a century."

"Two Wisconsin men are grateful to be alive after surviving two terrifying hours on ice floes in Lake Superior as heavy waves crashed around them."

"Skip Wick, 80, of Hurley, and Mike Popko, 61, of Saxon, ... were among 50 to 75 ice anglers fishing on 1-foot-thick ice near Ashland. Wick was about 500 yards from shore when cracks suddenly appeared. He and Popko made their way shoreward as heavy swells below the ice expanded the fractures. But as they jumped from one ice chunk to another they ran out of steppingstones. They rode out the storm on separate floes while waves raged as high as 12 feet."

"I wanted to fix the offending tip ... remove the whole phallic aspect. I told her I'd just swing it upwards."

The problem with Brandy's elephant tattoo.

Rahm's back.

Illinois Supreme Court puts Emanuel back on the mayoral ballot.

David Kato, the Ugandan gay rights activist, beaten to death with a hammer.

The NYT reports:
Police officials were quick to chalk up the motive to robbery, but the small and increasingly besieged gay community in Uganda suspects otherwise.

“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S Evangelicals in 2009,” said Val Kalende, the chairperson of one of Uganda’s gay rights groups, in a statement. “The Ugandan Government and the so-called U.S Evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.”

Mrs. Kalende was referring to visits in March 2009 by a group of American evangelicals, who held rallies and workshops in Uganda discussing how to make gay people straight, how gay men sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” intended to “defeat the marriage-based society.”

The Americans involved said they had no intention of stoking a violent reaction. But the anti-gay bill came shortly thereafter.

Pissed off prof...

... pissing.

"I could use one of those special helmets that Aaron Rodgers has to protect his head."

"My post Tuesday questioning whether our star quarterback might have suffered another concussion Sunday (and wondering why nobody was talking about that possibility given what a big deal concussions have been in national news lately) took some pretty nasty hits from outraged readers."

"Wisconsin isn't actually the center of the universe. A convergence of events has just made it seem that way."

Writes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
This week alone, President Barack Obama visited the state, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address, and the Green Bay Packers were on the fast track to becoming America's sweethearts.

Wednesday night's "American Idol," spotlighting auditions it conducted in Milwaukee in the summer and fall of 2010, was just icing on the cake....

Performers stood in front of a blue scrim with the "Idol" logo, judges sat at the prow-like front of the [Windhover Hall of the Milwaukee Art Museum] and interviews were conducted in the museum's whalebone white hallways.

A stormy Lake Michigan was a feature throughout and could be seen dramatically changing colors and textures behind the judges....
Jennifer Lopez referred to it as "the ocean."

Hey, we were already planning to go to the Milwaukee Art Museum this weekend. So don't think, when you see my photographs, that we only went there because of "American Idol." We're going there because we're excited about seeing Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware:
The exhibition explores, among others, work... by Moravian immigrant potters who...  found a home in the North Carolina Moravian missionary settlement. Superior in quality to the pottery the early American colonists were creating, the slip-decorated earthenware, though utilitarian, represented the religious beliefs for which their makers had once been persecuted, and allowed the settlers to maintain a sense of cultural identity in the new world.
I'm a descendant of Moravian refugees from persecution, and maybe the mysterious Meade will tell you why he's interested in the show too.

"Horrific video footage has emerged of Taliban insurgents stoning a couple to death for alleged adultery in northern Afghanistan."

"Hundreds of villagers can be seen on the video standing around as the woman, Siddqa, is buried up to her waist in a four foot hole in the ground. Two mullahs pass sentence before the crowd begins to throw rocks at her head and body as she desperately tries to crawl free...."

Overachievement in the genre of hatefulness... makes me skeptical.

Check it out. I'm looking at the fax somebody sent to California State Sen. Leland Yee and wondering if it's from a fan of Rush Limbaugh's or somebody hoping to make Rush Limbaugh look like the horrible man the left would so dearly love you to believe he is.

Somebody's faxing racist death threats to Yee? Trace it down. I want to know who. Racist death threats are intolerable and so is the generic dispersal of blame.

"His theme last night was wtf, winning the future," said Sarah Palin.

"I thought, okay, that acronym — spot on. There were a lot of wtf moments throughout that speech."

Watch your acronyms, people. Or the saucy ex-governor will watch them for you.

"I respectfully decline your offer," said the judge. "You are a danger to all civilized members of society."

The offer, from Zaire Paige, 24, who had just received a 107-year sentence, was: "With all due respect and from the bottom of my heart, suck my dick."

Crowdsourced Law School Rankings v. U.S. News Peer Rankings.

Paul Caron identifies the law schools that most over-perform in the crowdsourced ranking: Michigan State, Baylor, Syracuse, South Carolina, Duquesne, Gonzaga...

Who knows why? I think people are just reacting to names. "Gonzaga"... that sounds cool. I'll pick Gonzaga.

Speaking of law school names, all the law schools have "School of Law" or "Law School" as part of their name. (Well, there's also "College of Law.") I've long thought "Law School" was better. It's spiffier. Omit needless words. I was a student at one of the "of law" law schools (NYU), and I teach at one of the "law school" law schools (Wisconsin), and I don't think my preference is any sort of home-team loyalty. It's all about style. For a long time, I thought my style preference was just picking the less verbose format — to be more sleek and modern. The "of law" business sounded a little pretentious and faux lofty.

Then yesterday, after all these years, I noticed the homophones. School of Law sounds like School o' Flaw. And Law School sounds like Law's Cool. It's funny. Why don't people hear what they are saying. When you're branding a product (or an institution), you need to listen to yourself. Look and listen.

By the way, Gonzaga's law school is officially called Gonzago University School of Law. See? They tried to go all fancy. It should just be Gonzaga Law School. On the other hand, does crowdsourcing lie? Yes, of course, but probably not with respect to the psychological impact of the name.

Gladys Horton, the lead singer of The Marvelettes...

... has died at the age of 66.
As a student at Inkster High School, Horton helped found the group that would eventually become the Marvelettes, linking up with fellow glee club members Katherine Anderson, Juanita Cowart, Georgeanna Tillman and Georgia Dobbins.

A successful audition for Motown Records was followed in 1961 by the group's debut single, "Please Mr. Postman," with 17-year-old Horton on lead vocals. It became Motown's biggest pop crossover hit to that point, reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100.

The audio is a lot better here. And here are The Beatles covering the song, pretty much adopting The Marvelettes' style. (You know The Beatles took a large component of what they were from the great girl groups of the early 60s.)

My favorite Marvelettes song was always "Beechwood 4-5789." Another really cool one is "Don't Mess With Bill":

Love the bows! We girls used to go to school dressed just like that in the early 60s. Tried to tease our hair that big too. It wasn't easy! It wasn't even possible.

I love looking back at these old styles and this old music. I'm sorry that these days the occasion for celebrating someone from back then is an obituary. I'm sad to hear that Glady Horton has died, but let's talk about how great The Marvelettes were.

January 26, 2011

"No people of color have been nominated for Oscars."

"... You have a very powerful industry run by liberal Democrats, very rich liberal Democrats, and they have their top ten best movies, nominated best movies, and not a single person of color nominated for anything, not even best supporting stooge...."

Said Rush Limbaugh today, prompting Bo Snerdley to go on the air and comment:
Rush, there is something tremendously insidious and vile underneath this resegregation, resegregation of Hollywood. Our leading Hollywood producers -- and we all know who they are -- the Spielbergs, the bigwigs are simply look at black and Latino America in the face, especially black America, and you know what they're saying to 'em? They're saying, "Look, we gave you people enough. We elected him president. We did that. We don't have to put any of you people in movies anymore."

RUSH: You people?

"Jerry the Great."

(Via Metafilter.)

"When I was younger, I drank a quart of blood a day for about six weeks."

"I'd get it at the slaughterhouse. I'd heard about those Masais, you know, those seven-foot African guys; they'd drink cattle blood for strength. Then one day a little clot got stuck in my throat and that was it for me."

After the SOTU: Wisconsin!

We must be quite important!

"I found last night's speech very dull, and I turned it off less than an hour into it."

From Jaltcoh, who's been a big Obama supporter for years.
The idea that we're supposed to be alarmed that other countries are making too much progress relative to us, and that this is going to be our motivation to make economic and technological progress, leaves me cold.

"Lawyers turn vicious because they hate their jobs. They don’t want to be there."

"If you are stranded on a miserable island with the same people for a long time, eyeing one another as candidates for lunch, you begin to turn poisonous. Everything turns poisonous. You watch the damn penguin die, and you’re glad it’s not you. It starts to feel like a law firm."

That's the therapist speaking oddly enough. He sounds very angry.

"[Obama] was then followed by a guy who was bumming us out. I felt like I just needed a drink when I was done with Paul Ryan."

Said Rep. Anthony Weiner, who found Obama's SOTU "uplifting" and Ryan's rejoinder not so much.

Now, let's think about this. He didn't need a drink after Obama's talk, but he did after Ryan's. What does that mean? Apparently, Obama's rhetoric comes with its own high, while Ryan's is more of a plain glass of water. Is Weiner interested in reality or not? I think we deserve sober Congresspeople at this point.

Is it possible to declare a "Sputnik moment"?

The President tried last night:
Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation's Sputnik moment.
But how do you have Sputnik without Sputnik? The Soviets launching their satellite shocked Americans into a period of intense activity and achievement. It's nice to want to do that again, but there's not an equivalent incentivizing advance by an imposing and feared foreign competitor.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment. What is? Are we playing let's pretend? Nothing is scaring us and lighting a fire under us. In fact, it's hard for us now, with our long perspective, even to understand why Sputnik was such a huge motivation. Ask some under-50 Americans today: Why was it so important to beat the Soviets in sending men to the moon? Ask them when/if the Soviets got a man to the moon. I'll bet they can't even give plausible answers. I'll bet even the over-50s are hit-or-miss when it comes to answering the question whether the Soviets got a man to the moon.

So what on earth — or on the moon — does Obama think he will get out of the mere verbal tag "Sputnik"? If you remember how Sputnik felt — and I do — you'll probably say, but there is  no equivalent of Sputnik. There are just a lot of countries, full of human beings, trying to get ahead economically, like us — not against us. There's no race with dramatic consequences for the winners and losers, and there's no impressive physical object that signifies that bad guys are winning the race. If you don't remember Sputnik, you're like: Sputnik?


Bonus Bob Dylan lyric:
Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been told
The streets in heaven are lined with gold
I ask you how things could get much worse
If the Russians happen to get up there first
Wowee! pretty scary!

Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree
I want ev’rybody to be free
But if you think that I’ll let Barry Goldwater
Move in next door and marry my daughter
You must think I’m crazy!
I wouldn’t let him do it for all the farms in Cuba

The morning after the State of the Union.

I hope you're feeling okay. Hope you didn't smoke too much salmon last night. Here's the video of the whole thing, in case you missed it... or forgot it... or just want to relive every scintillating moment of it...

ADDED, THE EVENING AFTER... I embedded last year's SOTU. So... quite a morning after for me. LOL. Delete.

Man! Getting Nancy back. That's quite an aftereffect!

January 25, 2011

A midday ski.

Meade and I squeezed in a lunch-hour ski break today.


Feel free to talk about anything you want in the comments. The photography — by Meade — is just for fun. This is an open thread.

ADDED: I changed the video. This one has more of a semblance of motion.

Here's where I blog everything about the State of the Union address that doesn't involve the text.

I've already blogged the text. That's done! No more fretting over typing out what the Prez is saying in real time. Been there. Done that. This post is for everything else. What are they wearing? Who's falling asleep? What was that funny look? Where did he stumble over the text? All style and no substance, except to the extent that style is substance, baby.

UPDATE: Thanks for keeping this going in the comments. I don't have much to say about the visuals. The House fixtures looked surprisingly shabby on HDtv. Obama spoke slowly, had some gray hair, and made stabbing gestures with the pinched-together fingers of his left had. The mixing of the Democrats and Republicans in the audience really did — as critics warned — have the effect of making it look as though everyone supported him, but perhaps the demonstrations of support were a bit more toned down than they would have been if the parties had kept separated.

UPDATE 2: Instapundit has a grim screen capture. Was O's suit that blue?!

AND: As for that look, I think that's the Boris Karloff look.

CONFESSION: I slept through parts of it.

The text of the State of the Union Address from a Democratic insider who has violated the White House embargo.

Via the National Journal.

With their votes, [the people] determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.
But the challenges were "bigger than party, and bigger than politics" before, when you "move[d] forward" on your own, with only your party. Now, you're into togetherness, and it's togetherness with the party that isn't into "moving forward."
At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. 
Ha. What a lie! The next election is completely at stake. As for the last election, some of us think it was really important. But you're saying: Eh, it's over. Let's turn away from electoral politics. But we know damned well you're working on 2012, and you opponents want some attention paid to what just happened last November.

Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion....
When was that true? Who is he talking about? I'm 60 and I don't remember that ever being true.
That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I’ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main Streets. I’ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear – proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game....
Proud... and bitter, clinging to their guns and religion. 
What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook....
Edison? Can I have my incandescent light bulbs back?

UPDATE 3: I'm skipping a ton of stuff to get to health care:
Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
He'll work together with Republicans, but only if they offer little tweaks to the big overhaul he rammed through, with no consideration for their opinion, when they didn't hold the seats in Congress.

UPDATE 4: Hey! I'm just noticing that Obama never says "The state of the union is [?]."

And now, what will I do when the actual speech comes on television? I don't know, but I feel so liberated! I'll just give you some chit-chat about whatever strikes me. The visuals. The screw-ups. The intonations. The hints of gray...

UPDATE 5: I've put up a new post for all the real-time style-over-substance chit-chat.

"If the history of the American sentence were a John Ford movie..."

"... its second act would conclude with the young Ernest [Hemingway] walking into a saloon, finding an etiolated Henry James slumped at the bar in a haze of indecision, and shooting him dead."

"[T]he conservative nightmare of radicals taking over the university has in part come to pass."

"But if this book exemplifies academic Marxism, conservatives can rest easy. We should all fear, however, what it suggests about the contemporary university and its scholarship."

"Sociology does not enjoy an especially elevated reputation in the academy, and the American Sociological Association provides an object lesson in why that is."

Says Instapundit, linking to my fisking of the sociologists' expression of outrage. He emphasizes the violence inherent in the Greek riots Francis Fox Piven rhapsodized about, quoting this Wall Street Journal article:
[T]ens of thousands of protesters marched through Athens in the largest and most violent protests since the country’s budget crisis began last fall. Angry youths rampaged through the center of Athens, torching several businesses and vehicles and smashing shop windows. Protesters and police clashed in front of parliament and fought running street battles around the city.

Witnesses said hooded protesters smashed the front window of Marfin Bank in central Athens and hurled a Molotov cocktail inside. The three victims died from asphyxiation from smoke inhalation, the Athens coroner’s office said. Four others were seriously injured there, fire department officials said.

"Ann, any drinking words proposed for the SOTU?"

Asked Fred4Pres.

Florida said, 2 are enough: "investment" and "competitive."

Scott M suggested: "Let me be clear" and "together."

"Together." That's my favorite. But help add to the list. And plan to join me for some hot live-blogging tonight.

ADDED: You know what I would like to hear? (And if this is a drinking game, I will stand up, give a toast, and down my glass.) I would like to hear a few words of respect and admiration for George W. Bush.

"They’d still like you to perform a bris but don’t want to put him through any unnecessary pain."

"Can you do it after he dies?"

"History tells us" something that history doesn't tell us, say sociologists stumbling to protect Frances Fox Piven.

Here's the expression of "outrage" by the officers of the American Sociological Association:
Scholars of her caliber, intellectuals of her stature, and especially those who tackle social conflicts and contradictions, mass movements and political action, should stimulate equal levels of serious challenge and creative dialogue. Being called by Glenn Beck one of the “nine most dangerous people in the world,” and an “enemy of the Constitution” is not a credible challenge; it is plain demagoguery.
So vigorous debate about Piven's ideas is really important, but it better be the right kind of debate by the right kind of people and most certainly not that terrible, terrible man Glenn Beck. She's very lofty and serious, so, while she should be challenged, she must be challenged only by lofty and serious individuals, and of course, Glenn Beck is not one.
Despite its lack of substance, Beck’s attacks have resulted in a flood of hate mail and internet postings attacking Professor Piven, including a series of death threats. While it is true that death threats are generally only a form of extremist rhetoric, they indicate an overheated emotional atmosphere that researchers on collective violence call “the hysteria zone.” It is a zone in which deranged individuals can be motivated to real violence against those targeted by demagoguery. History tells us that such things as the attempted assassination of Representative Giffords that resulted in six deaths in Tucson, Arizona can be examples of how abundant, polarizing rhetoric by political leaders and commentators can spur mass murder.
Does lofty, serious, intellectual sociology involve looking at evidence and analyzing it rationally? Linking the Tucson massacre to hot political rhetoric was a rash mistake made by demagogues — you want to talk about demagogues?! — demagogues who were slavering over the prospect of a right-wing massacre that would prove politically useful.
We call on Fox News to take steps to control the encouragement of violence that has run rampant in recent months. 
Fox News? And do you also call on The Nation, which published "Mobilizing the Jobless," by Frances Fox Piven, the article Glenn Beck brought to the attention of his large audience? Piven called for riots. She wrote:
An effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union, or like the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees....
When did Glenn Beck call for violence?  Back to the sociologists' letter of outrage:
Serious and honest, undistorted disagreement and public debate on unemployment, economic crisis, the rights and tactics of welfare recipients, government intervention and the erosion of the American way of life should be supported. 
Undistorted? Okay, let's see you do it first. The "American way of life"? By that term, do you mean — in an undistorted sort of way — like Greece?
We in no way advocate restricting the freedom of speech of political commentators.... Where we all should draw the line is at name-calling and invective rising to the level of inciting others to violence.
So Piven should not have called for "something like" Greek-style riots, and it was good of Glenn Beck to point out that Piven crossed the line, right? I mean, we're dedicating ourselves to serious, undistorted analysis here. That's what you said you wanted, didn't you?

"The money would come from the contingency reserve fund, where money is mainly used for unexpected expenses."

Oh! The contingency reserve fund, where we get money when we need more money, because we hadn't expected that we were going to spend money on that.

That in this case is a bicycle-sharing program, called B-Cycle, here in Madison, so it's just another project the City Council thinks it would be nice to have. It's regular old spending on a fancy (and probably terrible) supposed improvement, that in no way seems to be an "unexpected expense."
The proposal includes the installation of 35 stations and would bring 350 bikes to Madison in May.

The tentative user fees range from $10 day passes to $65 annual passes, and there is a proposed student annual price of $45.

Users would use credit or debit cards to pay for the passes.

Chicago, Denver and some European cities are among those with bike sharing systems already installed. According to [Director of Operations for B-Cycle Danielle] Dejean, in Denver the use of the rented bikes replaced 43 percent of car trips.
According to Dejean... Sorry, I don't believe it!
"Bike sharing is synonymous with world-class cities," Dejean said.
So get a bike-sharing system and be a world-class city.

ADDED: The only way this is an "unexpected expense" is if this is an impulse purchase. Either it was carefully planned and thought-through, in which case they shouldn't tap the contingency reserve fund. Or it's a sudden flight of fancy, in which case they should calm down and figure out exactly what they're doing and whether it's a good idea.

By the way, what happens if the bike gets stolen en route from one station to the next? What keeps annual pass holders from stowing the bikes at home between rides? What happens when kids don't use helmets? Etc. etc.

The Academy Awards nominations.

Here's the live-stream of the announcement, beginning right now!

UPDATE: Man, they have so many nominees for Best Picture now that they're forced to include movies that aren't even good! I say that with confidence even though I've seen none of the nominated films.

UPDATE2: The list of nominees is at the link. Just scroll down. Now, if I were going to go see a few of these movies — partly so watching the Oscars might be fun and partly to actually see a good movie — what would I see? I'll make a list:
  1. True Grit
  2. The Social Network
  3. The Fighter
  4. The King's Speech
  5. Black Swan
The chances of my getting even that far are very low. The chances of my getting even to #1 are only about 50%. I would find it an ordeal to go even to 2. If I have 3 free hours, I would rather sit at the computer and read assorted items on the internet. I have an active resistance to going to the movies. I don't want to go see "Black Swan." I feel so detached from the machinery of movie promotion that is designed to force me to see "Black Swan." I'm not going to do it.

"'Call me garbage,' one of the twins said again. 'I dare you.'"

"'O.K.,' I said, trying, for once, to be a good mother. 'You’re garbage.'"

Elizabeth Kolbert writes about "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" in the New Yorker. Bonus: An illustration by Barry Blitt. (Click my Barry Blitt tag if you can't remember by loving Barry Blitt.)

January 24, 2011

100 cheesy movie quotes.

I'll let you decide if they're the "cheesiest... of all time." Nearly all are post-1980, so it seems unlikely.

Via Unreality Mag.

"Somewhere in Hell, your hero, Richard M. Nixon, is laughing his ass off at you."

That's the subject line on email just sent to me and other bloggers to inform us of an article in a left-wing newspapers about the how right-wing bloggers dealt with the Hu Jintao visit to the White House.

An Illinois appellate court says Rahm Emanuel isn't a Chicago resident and can't run for mayor.

There's still the Illinois Supreme Court. He has another level of appeal, but the election is less than a month away.

First the Bears, and now this. Life is hard in Chicago.

"Cutler appeared genuinely hurt..."

"... He then turned his back to reporters, fiddled with some things on a shelf and bit his lip as tears welled."

"[T]hink a play about a bunch of conservatives getting together each week to kill a lefty (and then maybe having second thoughts) would get such a favorable review?"

"Or get produced, by any theater company, anywhere?"

The first comment following a positive review of a play called "The Last Supper," on stage here in Madison, Wisconsin.  First line of the review: "It's almost eerie that a play about extreme political rhetoric and vitriol would open just two weeks after the terrible shootings in Tucson."

The phony fuss over Scalia's lecture to members of Congress.

Politico writes: 
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will speak on Monday on the separation of powers at an event organized by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and her Tea Party Caucus.
Organized by... but every member of Congress has received an invitation to attend.
The lecture is going on despite the objections of some observers. The New York Times editorial board called for Scalia to cancel his commitment.

“By meeting behind closed doors, as is planned, and by presiding over a seminar, implying give and take, the justice would give the impression that he was joining the throng — confirming his new moniker as the ‘Justice from the Tea Party,’” the board wrote in December.

The Times said it would oppose a similar event featuring a liberal Supreme Court justice and targeted at Democratic members of Congress. “The ideological nature of the group and the seminar would eclipse the justice’s independence and leave him looking rash and biased.”
Wouldn't it be ironic if that editorial left the NYT looking rash and biased? Some liberal members of Congress will attend the session. If anything fishy goes on, they'll let us know. I presume Justice Scalia will give the lecture he always gives about the proper role of courts in our constitutional system. I look forward to hearing about the supposedly outrageous statements that turn out to be entirely mundane within the set of things Scalia has been saying for decades.

What it all boils down to is: Liberals don't like it that Scalia is on the Supreme Court. They've never liked it. And the NYT is especially dedicated to making people think that his being on the Court is something untoward, some abuse of power. I'm sure there are some NYT readers who are titillated by that sensationalism, but I find it embarrassing.

"If you put a gun to their head and they had to choose between one or the other..."

"... they'd pay the higher taxes without a peep. That's because, on the level of raw power, they know how the world works."

That's Kevin Drum in Mother Jones on January 22, providing an egregious example of the left using violent gun imagery to make a political point, even after the Tucson massacre and all those calls for new civility. I found that via Matt Yglesias, who quotes Drum and even puts the gun-to-the-head business in boldface but takes absolutely zero note of the extremely violent rhetoric.

"So who’s inciting violence here?"

The Glenn Beck/Frances Fox Piven controversy.

ADDED: Do academics mean to have influence or not? Are we supposed to think of them as oversmart flakes who are tucked away in institutions where they won't screw up real life for the rest of us? Because that's the only way in which it makes sense to portray Glenn Beck as the villain. He took an academic seriously, as if she meant what she said and expected real people to hear and act.

"The average person thinks... this body is made of cigarettes and coffees and cakes and pies and doughnuts and french fries."

Jack LaLanne. The Good Lord Above has taken his wonderful body back, after 96 years of trying to talk us into get in shape.
“People thought I was a charlatan and a nut,” he remembered. “The doctors were against me — they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.”
Lots more Jack LaLanne video here. Here's one you probably don't need. And here he is with his dog Happy ("Right in the mouth with the foot he's putting"):

"We're getting very close to the point where we could have states default on their debts for the first time."

"What should happen then?" Right Wing News asks Thomas Sowell, who answers: "They should go bankrupt. I'm looking forward to it."

"What happens when a professor decides to take an easy class seriously and teach it as a difficult class?"

"I was once given that task, and the students revolted. When we went over the syllabus on the first day of class, several students told me that my class was supposed to be their easy class and that they would have to drop it and find another. I told the students that my chair had asked me to make this class more academically rigorous. They just looked at me in disbelief, and several students did drop it."

The problem of "easy" classes. The discussion continues here.

"When I arrived, it was dead-on winter."

"The cold was brutal and every artery of the city was snowpacked, but I'd started out from the frostbitten North Country, a little corner of the earth where the dark frozen woods and icy roads didn't faze me. I could transcend the limitations. It wasn't money or love that I was looking for...."

50 years ago today.

January 23, 2011

At Meadhouse, we're watching Packers game.

Watch with us!

UPDATE: Packers in the Super Bowl!

AND: Now, Obama won't go to the Super Bowl.

AND: We're watching the Jets and Steelers. Meade announces that we're for the Jets, because we want the Super Bowl to be the two 6 seeds who beat the #1 teams.

"Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House: US humiliated in eyes of Chinese by song used to inspire anti-Americanism."

Memeorandum points us to this article in the Epoch Times:
Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain."...

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades....

The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, “When friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.” The “jackal” in the song is the United States....

“In the eyes of all Chinese, this will not be seen as anything other than a big insult to the U.S.,” says Yang Jingduan, a Chinese psychiatrist now living in Philadelphia who had in China been a doctor in the Chinese military. “It’s like insulting you in your face and you don’t know it, it’s humiliating...

[One] Chinese commenting on a forum responded to the Lang Lang performance by writing, “Defeat America, defeat Obama” (writing Obama’s name with the wrong first character, one meaning “sunken” or “dented.”)
IN THE COMMENTS: Irene says:
The media in general will make less of this than they did of Michaele and Tareq Salahi.

This is "fuck you, ignorant barbarians" crashing.
William says:
Didn't the Red Chinese lose tens of thousands of men in the Korean War in order to insure the prolonged rule of one of the most fucked up regimes in that region's long history of fucked up regimes? I would think that playing that tune is more likely to remind the world of the stupidity of Communist rulers than humiliate the United States. I think Obama should get Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen to write a commemorative song about Carter's failed rescue mission to Iran. He should play that song at all state functions. Same deal as this.

The top 6 auditions...

... from the first week of the new season of "American Idol." 3 from New Jersey and 3 from New Orleans. The last one in the New Orleans group is my favorite...

... Jacee Badeaux.

Bono sings at Sargent Shriver’s funeral.

"MSNBC pulls plug on gasbag Olbermann."

That's the headline at the NY Post. Gasbag? MSNB didn't pull the plug on Olbermann because he's a gasbag. MSNBC runs on gas.
"Keith will be feeling, ironically, like the 'Worst Person In The World' tonight," said CNN's Piers Morgan, referring to Olbermann's regular segment that lambasted his political enemies. "But as my grandmother always says, 'One day you're the cock of the walk, the next a feather duster.' "
Spoken like a future feather duster.

Why would a mainstream news outlet do a story based on the assertion by a private company that its Super Bowl ad got rejected?

The network refuses to comment on claims it has rejected an ad, so all you've got is a company with an immense self-interest in lying about it. You know, I'm not even going to link to the news website I'm talking about, because the answer to the question in the post title is that the news site is whoring for traffic. The private company would like to promote its product without forking out the millions needed to buy air time on the Super Bowl, and the news site would like to be the go-to place for ad, which isn't clever enough to go viral without the boost of the banned-from-the-Super-Bowl claim. Moreover, the product is shoddy and not worth talking about. Don't be a sucker.

2 things about the impending government takeover of medicine.

These items are side-by-side at Memeorandum:

1. In the Boston Globe, a Harvard nanophysics researcher named Mike Stopa says the term "death panels" "persists... because it denotes, in a pithy way, the economic realities of scarcity inherent in nationalizing a rapidly developing, high-technology industry on which people’s lives depend in a rather immediate way."

2. The NYT reports that "The Obama administration has become so concerned about the slowing pace of new drugs coming out of the pharmaceutical industry that officials have decided to start a billion-dollar government drug development center to help create medicines."

Life and death — it's economics, and the government is here to help.

The best cheeseburger in NYC is at the Corner Bistro.

This interests me for 2 reasons:

1. In the late 1970s, we lived in the apartment building across the street from the Corner Bistro. From my window on the third floor of what is still called "The Rembrandt," I watched people going in and out of the good old Corner Bistro. It had good cheeseburgers.

2. Why doesn't the best cheeseburger in NYC have a good tomato on it? From 1,000 miles away, I can see that the Corner Bistro puts one of those things on its burger that I'd get my hands messed up pulling out. I don't even use the word "tomato" for that.

IN THE COMMENTS: Richard Lawrence Cohen, the other half of the "we" referred to in point #1, says:
The burgers were thick with high-quality beef, but slow-grilled, which didn't thrill me, and if you ordered rare you wouldn't get it rare. But the atmosphere was homegrown urban hip, with knife-gouged wooden tables, and customers who were longtime Villagers perpetually anxious about their media deals and their love lives. A holdover from the Dylan Thomas era (he'd drunk his last set of eighteen whiskies in another burger bar, a couple of blocks away), and great eavesdropping. The silent, bland owner, short and wide with balding red hair and what might conceivably have been interpreted as a fractional smile, was a reassuring enigma, lovingly rolling down his awning and sweeping the front sidewalk every morning. And then there was the psychotic psychiatrist who lived and worked next door.