February 12, 2011

Does the most powerful woman in Hollywood drive a Yaris?

A peppermint green Toyota Yaris? The Columbia Journalism Review would like you to know how pathetic it is that "the first big scoop from Rupert’s great black tablet-sized hope is a picture of a blogger in a Toyota?"

"Workspaces of Highly Creative People."

I'll take Martin Amis's — or, actually, I prefer my own! — but click backward and forward to see some of the others. I love pictures like this.


... at Owen Park.

"For top-ranked Ohio State teams this school year, this city has turned into a graveyard for undefeated seasons."

"This city" is Madison, Wisconsin, as the Badgers beat the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes, 71-67. 
Badger fans stormed the court, just like they stormed the football field after upsetting the No. 1 Buckeyes in October.

The 13th-ranked Badgers erased a 15-point deficit in the second half behind the hot shooting of guard Jordan Taylor, who finished with 27 points.

Bill Maher about Barack Obama: "I think he's a centrist the way he's a Christian... not really."

Via Instapundit:

And Cornel West says "being a Christian is not a political orientation for the President." Oh, thanks for putting it that way. An apt turn of words, Cornel. Because that's exactly what I think Obama's Christianity is: a political orientation.

My source? I said it before:
My source is "Dreams from My Father," chapter 14. While working as a community organizer, Obama was told that it would "help [his] mission if [he] had a church home" and that Jeremiah Wright "might be worth talking to" because "his message seemed to appeal to young people like [him]." Obama wrote that "not all of what these people [who went to Trinity] sought was strictly religious... it wasn't just Jesus they were coming home to." He was told that "if you joined the church you could help us start a community program," and he didn't want to "confess that [he] could no longer distinguish between faith and mere folly." He was, he writes, "a reluctant skeptic." Thereafter, he attends a church service and hears Wright give a sermon titled "The Audacity of Hope" (which would, of course, be the title of Obama's second book). He describes how moved he was by the service, but what moves him is the others around him as they respond to a sermon about black culture and history. He never says he felt the presence of God or accepted Jesus as his savior or anything that suggests he let go of his skepticism. Obama's own book makes him look like an agnostic (or an atheist). He respects religion because he responds to the people who believe, and he seems oriented toward leveraging the religious beliefs of the people for worldly, political ends.

So I watched the "Atlas Shrugged" movie trailer...

... over at Instapundit. And when I got to the end, I said "Part One"?! People are supposed to put up with more than one movie full of that stuff?! It was all I could do to look at 2 and a half minutes of that sloshy melodrama.

Is that opus really the rich repository of conservative values it purports to be? Quite aside from the flabby aesthetics, we're supposed to get all righteous about — of all things — building railroads?

And, no, I haven't read the book. I don't read long, badly written novels. A simple summary of the idea Rand strains to propound is quite enough for me. As a general rule, I stay away from novels that were written to make some big political or philosophical point. Writing that last sentence, I realized I needed to quote something Vladimir Nabokov said about art. Googling, I came to this old article by Allen Barra in Salon — "Reading 'Lolita' in Alabama" — and I'm delighted to see that Barra brings up Ayn Rand in the first paragraph:
I knew of only one other writer who inspired such an odd cult among high schoolers, Ayn Rand, who, like Nabokov, was a Russian émigré with an intense hatred of communism. Aside from that, the two could not have been more different. Rand's novels were the kind of transparent philosophical tracts that Nabokov loathed as much as he loathed Marxism. The similarities between the Nabokov and Rand cults was creepy; even more creepy was that I almost never came across anyone who read both of them.
Put me on the Nabokov side of that dichotomy. Anyway, here's what I was looking for from Nabokov:
"Why did I write any of my books, after all? For the sake of pleasure, for the sake of the difficulty. I have no social purpose, no moral message; I've no general ideas to exploit, I just like composing riddles with elegant solutions."... "I don't give a damn for the group... the community, the masses, and so forth ... there can be no question that what makes a work of fiction safe from larvae and rust is not its social importance but its art, only its art." And: "I have neither the intent nor the temperament to be a moralist or satirist." Mediocrity, he thought, "thrives on ideas"... "general ideas, the big, sincere ideas which permeate a so-called great novel, and which, in the inevitable long run, amount to bloated topicalities stranded like dead whales."

"We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didn’t come through."

"I personally take responsibility; although we worked with a professional ad agency, in the end, it was my decision to run the ads."

Groupon founder Andrew Mason takes responsibility for America's lack of a sense of humor and Christopher Guest can go search for a better place to ply his comic genius.
The Chicago Tribune, Groupon's hometown paper, quoted a New Yorker who said he felt like he'd been "punched in the face" when he saw the Tibet ad.
Ah! The power of comedy! How horrible to actually feel punched by a punchline.

AND: Here's the Tibet ad. Watch it before it disappears:

AND: I know I'm being played. Mason's statement is a well-done strategy to make the video viral in a new way. Notice that he doesn't really apologize. There's a sop to the people who were offended, but a cue to people who want to think we have a sense of humor to give it a cult following. We're the special people who get it and who respect Christopher Guest and laugh at the oversensitive twits, etc. etc. I know!

ALSO: At the Althouse Super Bowl party, we got the joke in real time.

"It's most likely an industrial-type diamond, not gem quality."

If you scorn the merchandise enough, can you get out of the felony range... if you're Lindsay Lohan?

ADDED: You know who I feel sorry for? Jewelers. Here is is, 2 days before Valentine's Day, and you know they're hoping guys will run in and pay $950 and up for something that looks like the sort of thing that might make a woman feel that he didn't fuck up. And just at that moment, the clueless males of this world are getting an insider's tip: The junk in those stores isn't worth anywhere near what you see on the price tags. Diamonds? You Valentine's Day chumps need to know there are mere industrial-type diamonds, and you have no idea what you're buying, do you?

Here, buy a diamond necklace — see how cheap they are?

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the airline smoking ban already covers electronic cigarettes — which do not smoke or burn in any way.

In a world where it depends on what the meaning of is is, all the government needs to do is interpret. Regulating interstate commerce includes forcing people to buy things they don't want to buy, and smoking includes not smoking. You can make anything you want be true, if you only believe. And "you" means "the government," and "believe" means "dictate."
E-cigarettes are plastic and metal devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge, creating vapor that the "smoker" inhales. A tiny light on the tip even glows like a real cigarette. They have prompted debate over how risky they are and whether they're even legal....

Numerous videos on YouTube show passengers using the devices on airplanes. ... [S]ome passengers have interpreted flight attendant instructions to mean that the devices were only prohibited when other electronic devices were not allowed during takeoff and landing.
It sounds like the passengers are doing a pretty good job at interpretation. It's an electronic device, not a smoking device.
Many airlines already have begun informing passengers that the devices are not allowed on flights, but [Senator Frank Lautenberg, author of the 1987 smoking ban] said there had been confusion over their use and wanted to make sure officials were solidly opposed to opening the door to e-smoking on planes. 
Opening the door? How dare a politician talk to us like that! The doors are open until they close them with laws.
"I understand from an airline's point of view the hassles it could create," [said Jason Healy, president of e-cigarette maker Blu Cigs.] "It's not the actual product, it's the disruption and explaining to everyone else that it's not smoke."
Not smoking does not become smoking because you have to keep explaining that it is not smoking. If the disruption of people thinking these things are smoking is important enough to deny the physical needs and pleasures of the individuals who use them, then summon up the political will to ban them explicitly.  And quit lying.

People need to quit smoking and quit lying. If you're trying to quit smoking, maybe it will help you to have an e-cigarette that delivers some of the satisfaction you get from smoking. There is no corresponding device to wean you off your lying. Oh, but you say you're not lying, you're interpreting. Hey, your interpreting looks more like lying that an e-cigarette looks like smoking, and I'm going to grab it right out of your mouth with my blog. How dare you disrupt me like that!


February 11, 2011

"We are broke in this state. We have been broke for years. People have ignored that for years, and it's about time somebody stood up and told the truth."

Wisconsin's new GOP governor delivers the harsh news.
Gov. Scott Walker said Friday thousands of state workers would be laid off if the Legislature does not adopt his plan to repair the budget that includes cutting benefits and taking away almost all union bargaining rights from public workers.

Walker also signaled that in a larger budget plan coming later this month he would cut aid to local governments and let local officials deal with those cuts at least in part through savings on their employee costs. Walker wants the Legislature - which is controlled by his fellow Republicans - to act quickly on the plan, approving it by Feb. 25. It could move even faster than that, likely going before lawmakers next week.

The governor also said the National Guard is at the ready to take control of state prisons if correctional officers strike or take job actions. No union official has endorsed such a job action, but Walker said he was prepared for any contingency.

At the Mystery Photo Café...

Last Sunday.

... I have thoughts of my own, and maybe you do too. Maybe you know what's special about that photograph.

Hey, look, I'm the "Alumna of the Month"...

... from NYU School of Law.

Are you excited about the new Lady Gaga single or did you feel compelled to hit pause and start singing Madonna's "Express Yourself"?

You can listen to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" here. And here's Madonna over at YouTube, where there are lots of new comments about "Born This Way."

Gaga is singing about self-affirmation in this form:
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby you were Born This Way

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life
I'm on the right track baby
I was born to survive
Madonna's "Express Yourself" had you expressing yourself and demanding that your man express himself:
What you need is a big strong hand
To lift you to your higher ground
Make you feel like a queen on a throne
Make him love you till you can't come down

"Don’t think the Republicans’ move to get America’s vaginas back to cherished 50s-era restrictions will end with banning abortion and restricting contraception."

"After that’s done, the next step is moving us back to the god-fearing age when women wore thick pads and belts. Proper ladies know that menstruation is god’s reminder that we’re evil, and should be dealt with in a way that maximizes discomfort and humiliation."

Amanda Marcotte attempts some broad humor. The clip is funny:

"President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt turned over all power to the military..."

"... and left the Egyptian capital for his resort home in Sharm el-Sheik, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced on state television on Friday."

The crowd shouts "Egypt is free!" and let's hope that it's so.

"But what about Beck? Are his comments about Piven fairly characterized as having crossed some line into dangerous irresponsibility?"

Asks Peter Wood in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
What Beck does on the air is certainly not scholarship. He isn’t drawing careful distinctions, seeking nuance, or searching for contextual understanding. He is, rather, engaged in polemic. This is, however, a form that requires some mastery of the facts and considerable ability to frame a persuasive argument. He or his assistants have done their research. I doubt that he has factually misrepresented Piven’s statements. He has, however, offered a strong interpretation of what those mean, and his conclusion is that she is a deep source of intellectual mischief in American life.

Those who are culturally or politically more or less on Piven’s side resent this picture of themselves, and some have responded hyperbolically....

The left explodes in anger if you suggest it is the more rageful of the two [sides]. The right tends to laugh at the idea....

Higher education has no special immunity from the angri-culture. On the contrary, it is a privileged haunt for those who delight in scorn, derision, and wrathful dislike of mainstream American culture...

To claim academic freedom as a protection of one’s own diatribes while crying “no fair” when someone aims a diatribe back at you requires a clownish degree of self-regard.
Yes, and let's also question the assumption that what goes on in academia is certainly scholarship (and not polemic). Drawing careful distinctions, seeking nuance, or searching for contextual understanding...

"Is it all one?" "It would be all one if you weren't here."

A "normal" woman — tests have verified that she's psychologically normal — submits to a scientific study of LSD, in 1956:

I'm fascinated by how completely stereotypically hippie her expression becomes and by the odd situation of talking to a scientist while having a transcendent experience.

"[A]ny male at any time will be permitted in girls’ bathrooms, showers and change rooms as long as they have an ‘innate feeling’ of being female..."

That's what opponents say about Bill C-389 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to forbid discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" or "gender expression."

The bill probably won't pass, but here's a column favoring it. Excerpt:
Society takes for granted that there are two distinct sexes, with two corresponding ways of expressing gender identity. And we have concocted a range of stereotypes to reinforce the supposed chasms of difference between men and women, boys and girls.
Despite the fact that biologists such as Brown University professor Anne Fausto-Sterling have demonstrated that “nature” itself yields not two distinct sexes but as many as five in a small but still significant number of cases, we still think male or female is something constant and unchanging. Sex is not only something viewed as uncomplicated and self-evident, but masculinity and femininity are tied to one’s birth-assigned sex.

Transsexual and transgendered individuals expose the shortcomings of our narrow categories. Because they trouble this vision of male and female, they have been “socially erased,” to borrow a term from Concordia Professor Viviane Namaste...

As faculty members teaching in the sexual studies minor program at Carleton University, we are not surprised by the comments offered by Charles McVety, president of the Canada Christian College in Toronto in The Globe. [see blog post title, above.] Mr. McVety’s use of the language of pedophilia, and other forms of sexual predation, criminal opportunism and violence within female-specific spaces serves as a perfect example of the pathologization, criminalization and fear-mongering that continues to mark the lives of those within the trans communities.

February 10, 2011

At the Taco Café...


... come on! It'll be fun.

"What is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It's a moment of transformation that's taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change."

Maybe the world doesn't actually work according to the transformative moments visualizations of President Obama.

"I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal. I'll let his wife call him that instead."

Said Sarah Palin about Rick Santorum.

Mubarak refuses to validate the news reports that revealed that Mubarak was going to step down.


I knew it. I declined to link to the reports earlier today that said he was stepping down. He will step down when he steps down and not when the news media fall over each other trying to pre-scoop the news.

CPAC. Live feed + live blog.

At WaPo.

"Halle Berry may have chosen the wrong words but she makes the right point."

"It is important to read past her ugly custody case to have a larger conversation about race (one the baby's father apparently does not want to have). Her daughter will have to choose a racial identity, the way she had to choose a racial identity. In America, that means it will probably be chosen, at least in part, by the way people react to her. In America, her skin color (black or white) will be something that people use to define her. I applaud Halle Berry's courage, if not her choice of words. When she says, 'I believe in the one drop theory,' of course, she does not mean to endorse racism. But she does have the courage to do something so few Americans can: talk about race."

Either that or she's using whatever weapons she finds at hand as she fights for what she wants in her child custody battle.

"The campaign for 'intellectual diversity' legislation is a neoconservative ploy to secure the teaching of right-wing propaganda in the classroom, plain and simple."

"The authors of the campaign hide behind the mask of educational reformer, but what they seek is nothing short of educational control."

That's what I read when I followed the link at the end of this comment of Irene's:
Using the phrase "intellectual diversity" is itself an act of courage in the academic arena.

I once uttered "intellectual diversity" in a debate with a leftie (I use that term endearingly, of course).

The "discussion" ended with a link to an explanation that the phrase is code for a neoconservative plot.
Later, in that comments thread, there's this:
Scott M said... If "intellectual diversity" and "personal responsibility" have been deemed as code words of right-wing oppression, just what the hell words or phrases do they use when they are trying to talk about intellectual diversity or personal responsibility?...

Irene said... @Scott M, "Social Justice."

"Last fall anthropology declared itself no longer to be a science."

Is that a fair statement of what happened?

Note that John Hawks is at the University of Wisconsin—Madison (where I am), which made this other segment — "Does academic blogging fit a university’s mission?" — especially interesting to me. According to Hawks, the UW has always been especially savvy about the value of blogging professors. And here's Hawks's blog. (Did you know it's "Darwin Day" here on campus today and also Friday and Saturday? I guess the commitment to science represented by the celebration of Darwin doesn't exclude calling 3 days a "day.")

"I used to think the New Yorker was for cutting edge intellectuals, but now that I see its articles are matching the current story line of Mary Worth..."

Writes Jason (the commenter), responding to Jaltcoh's reaction to the "one great passage" in Adam Gopnik's article on "How the Internet gets inside us."

Here's Mary fretting about the internet:

The best way to keep up with Mary Worth is via The Comics Curmudgeon:
Now we know why now why Mary shuns the Internet: it’s full of people, talking about their lives, unprompted by Mary’s probing questions, a prospect she finds completely ghastly.

Food price warning.

The severe drought in China:
"China’s grain situation is critical to the rest of the world — if they are forced to go out on the market to procure adequate supplies for their population, it could send huge shock waves through the world’s grain markets..."

"The Army and the people in one hand."

Chanted in Egypt.

"But yeah, smart administrators understand that intellectual diversity on the faculty is a good thing, for purely self-interested reasons alone."

"Back in the 1990s when I was writing a lot of second amendment stuff, somebody tried to get my dean to fire me, saying that I was fomenting domestic terrorism. But my dean told me that he was glad to have me writing that stuff, because when alumni or legislators talked about ivory-tower liberal faculties, he could just send 'em a copy of my 'Critical Guide To The Second Amendment.'"

Heh. Yeah. Think about it. Let's say you have a state law school the legislators and alums imagine must be about 95% left-wing. Get one conservative lawprof out there in the public eye — maybe with a blog that's supposedly right-wing — and that vague mental percentage might readjust to 80% or so. That's value! Treasure your house conservative, oh lefty law school!

Why did Congressman Christopher Lee give up so easily?

It's weird, isn't it?
Lee resigned less than four hours after Gawker posted the emails and photo.

His office first claimed his email account had been hacked - which didn't really explain the topless photo of himself flexing his biceps in a mirror.

About two hours later, Lee told Fox News he couldn't discuss the issue because "I have to work this out with my wife."

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Lee issued a brief statement saying he was resigning the seat he won in 2008. "I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents," he said. "I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. ... I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness."
There must be a lot more below the surface, and the quick resignation was to get us to move on. I'd like to know what inspired the desperation. Or was it that he got no support from his GOP colleagues in Congress. Perhaps he was told, quite clearly, that they didn't want to burn any political capital defending him. If so, I think that was probably an excellent choice. They can't want him as the torso face of the party for the next month.

"Pedal misapplications."

"Now there's a euphemism for the bureaucratic ages."

February 9, 2011

At the Blue Snow Café...


... you can talk all night.

Do you need anything?

If you can find it through this portal...

... you will effortlessly and costlessly make a contribution to this blog, and I am thanking you in advance.

"Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, has decided not to run for re-election..."

"...  avoiding a blockbuster rematch with the man he beat in 2006, George Allen, and giving Senate Republicans another opportunity to help them reclaim the majority."

Care to speculate on why Webb won't put up with a second electoral encounter with Allen?  Or should I say why he doesn't feel enough affinity for Senate Democrats to want to help them keep their numbers up?

"Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, recovering from shooting, regains ability to speak — asks for toast..."


("Breaking news" email from CNN. Story here.)

Arianna Huffington "has always been on the move ideologically..."

"... from her early squabbles with feminism to her role as a minister with the new-age Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness, from her membership in Newt Gingrich's brain trust to her stint as populist activist - all before her greatest act, the Huffington Post."

Says Dana Milbank "with admiration."
Huffington deserves every one of those millions she'll be paid by AOL for creating this online sensation. She was once derided as "the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus" because of her many well-connected friends, but Huffington has earned her place as one of the extraordinary personalities of our time: an entrepreneur and writer who is always chasing the next big idea, wherever it is on the ideological spectrum.
Good for her. We need some extraordinary personalities for our time.

"The Patriot Act represents the undermining of civil liberties," says Dennis Kucinich, who got 26 Republicans on his side.

What happened in the House yesterday?!
House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party's tea-party bloc.

The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures....

The vote was the latest signal... that on certain matters House leaders could face a sizable resistance to compromise from within their own ranks, both from the 87 GOP freshmen and from conservative veterans who have been emboldened by the newcomers.
Good! The Republicans don't own the Tea Party movement.

"God Bless America and the Anthem? And the fly-by? Could you militarize this event just a tad more?"

"And what in the name of the FSM was the point of giving us both Sam Elliott and Michael Douglas for the pregame Heroic Voiceover Brigade? And, Michael Douglas, how exactly do we link JFK's inaugural, MLK's Dream speech, the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, Ali's KO of Liston in Lewiston, and this football game? A journey? More like a trip, actually. The pregame show was what Leni Riefenstahl would have done had she emigrated here as a child and gone to work for Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price."

So wrote Charles P. Pierce about the Super Bowl intro, and I almost didn't post that because I had to check the Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price reference  — is it "Mad Men"? yeah, sorry, I still don't want to watch it — not to mention the FSM reference — eh. It flicked my bloggable toggle switch and then came very close to toggling back. But I'm quoting it, really because I agree that they overdid it. Leni would have been much more insidiously subtle. But that's a good thing, right? You can defend against the ridiculously overdone. We can feel patriotic and festive in a mixed up clutter of history and pop culture, and then it's on to the football game.

The Pierce quote is embedded in this James Wolcott blog post. Wolcott is crankier than Pierce:
I had the pre-game on mute and every time I glanced up I wondered if we had declared war on Iraq or a hologram of Ronald Reagan was going to materialize on stage, raising a ruddy hand in blessing as Peggy Noonan ascended into heaven. The Super Bowl is bombastic enough without being a fanfare for World War III or IV, but who's counting? Or is it that the country requires this much self-affirmation now to reassure itself that it's still proud and virile? Maybe Stanley Fish can figure this out for us.
No link on the Stanley Fish reference, which is not something I can untangle with a Google search. I know who Stanley Fish is. I'm even in the middle of reading his new book, "How to Write a Sentence." (Check it out: I just wrote a sentence!) I'll assume Wolcott means to say something like: All those words and images require interpretation and Fish is the interpretation-meister.

But let's try to answer Wolcott's question: Does the country require this much self-affirmation now to reassure itself that it's still proud and virile?

I anticipate, instead of real answers, your snarky reframings of the question, asking whether Wolcott needs to reassure himself that he's still proud and virile. Indeed, I got the impression that his paragraph paralleled Pierce's, that he was envious of Pierce's writing prowess and trying to outmatch it. Ending with that limp Fish, he failed, which probably explains the flailing about "the county" and its imagined self-esteem problem. It's so problematic, raising the flag.

O'Reilly interrupting Obama 48 times — in 3-minute montage form.

ADDED: This, of course, make O'Reilly look very rude, but I didn't watch the interview and I don't know how rude it actually was. To some extent, I like interruptions. I like the back and forth of overlapping conversation with someone who does it well and isn't actually trying to dominate. Overtalking can be an important component of flowing conversations. It's no good when one person holds forth and the other one, instead of listening, is distracted thinking about when it's going to be his turn.

That said, an interview of the President is different. He commands respect. But he can abuse that. Obama could have pursued the strategy of running out the clock, blathering tediously and preventing good pointed probing by the interviewer he perceived as an opponent (if not an enemy). He'd have played O'Reilly, I suspect, if O'Reilly hadn't broken in with questions. The YouTube montage is effective at making O'Reilly look brutish, but that's not necessarily so, and if O'Reilly had patiently waited for Obama to bring each meandering answer in for a landing, it would not have been possible to make a YouTube montage that would show Obama's running out the clock to avoid serious questions.

"Tweets from @MayorEmanuel — which the candidate reportedly called 'hilarious'..."

"... detail the vulgar and obscene adventures of Emanuel, David Axelrod and host of other big names in the political world."

Might as well say you find it hilarious. Wonder what he's said about it in private. It would be cool if that were on tape.

Teams with stadium names that are just too sacred to sacrifice for the big money that comes from selling naming rights.

It's an issue in the Chicago mayoral race:
‘‘Soldier Field is a sacred Chicago landmark that honors our veterans and, as mayor, Gery would be very careful to protect that,’’ said Brooke Anderson, spokeswoman for candidate Gery Chico. ‘‘He would be open to exploring creative ideas that could attract sponsors while preserving the Soldier Field name and stadium to give soldiers the respect they deserve.’’

But Rahm Emanuel, Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel del Valle are adopting the same hard-line stance as Mayor Daley, who insisted the stadium name remain untouched for his support of a $587  million renovation of Soldier Field in 2003.
Teams with stadiums names like "Giants Stadium" and "Cowboy Stadium" are in a much better position to cash in. But maybe it's better to have a name that can't be swapped for a sponsor's name, like Lambeau Field. Then you're not tempted to scramble for the money and end up with a horrible name like "Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome," which really is the name of the place where the Vikings play. You're Vikings. That's your image. Legendary conquerors... traipsing around the mall with Hubert Humphrey. What a picture!

And I love this grandiose term "metrodome." There are metrodomes, stadiums, and fields. Notice the inverse relationship between grandiosity and greatness.

ADDED: I'm just noticing that Minnesota inserted "field" into its ridiculous new name that still contains "metrodome." Make up your mind. Interesting that the big corporation wanted to associate itself with the old-fashioned charm of "field," while the politician's name is stuck with the overinflated term "metrodome." And I do mean overinflated, because remember how it collapsed? And it's a good word to associate with Hubert Humphrey, since he had quite a large dome of a head.

It has nothing to do with football, but on the subject of Hubert H. Humphrey — Hubert Horatio Humphrey — and names, this is always hilarious:

And as long as I'm descending into Humphrey-related YouTube hell, there's this:

February 8, 2011

At the Winter Flower Café...


... it takes next to nothing to charm us silly.

"Yes, she’s got political views, but gosh, look how political views have worked for Fox."

"There’s certainly the opportunity to create a much more powerful liberal voice in the country. The fact that it hasn’t been done yet, doesn’t mean it can’t be done."

And since you paid $315 million for it...

Cockpit panoramas.

Scrollably spherical.

(Via Metafilter.)

"Giddy Green Bay Packers fans poured into the frigid Lambeau Field parking lots early Tuesday to fire up their grills and throw down beers..."

"... in a final tailgate to cap a magical season that ended in Super Bowl victory. At $5 each, the 50,000 tickets for Tuesday's 'Return to Titletown' celebration at the stadium sold out in a matter of hours Monday...  Tuesday's cold didn't bother Ken Hampp, 23, of Appleton, as he sipped a Budweiser. 'The weather's fine. I can barely feel it,' he said. 'That's my favorite thing about winter. You can just stick your beer in the snow.'"

LOL. That's Wisconsin.

ADDED: It was 3°.

Not since Napoleon XIV have psychotic individuals suffered such awful abuse from the pop culture.

Oh! Shame! Shame on Waunakee High School:
Waunakee High School's varsity dance team is headed to a state competition today, but advocates for the mentally ill are upset by what got them there — a "we get crazy" routine featuring all 18 dancers bouncing to hip-hop music, their hair wild, heavy black makeup on their snarling faces, and costumes made to resemble straitjackets and restraints with the words "Psych Ward" on them.

News of the routine spread fast this week after photos of the dancers in their costumes were published in the Waunakee Tribune. "The pictures are quite disturbing," says Hugh Davis, executive director of Wisconsin Family Ties. "We had parents and kids with mental health issues standing in the office with tears in their eyes. This brings up painful memories. It is incredibly insensitive."
Do you remember the terrible tizzy in 1966 over "They're Coming to Take Me Away"? We all loved it, thought it was hilarious, it was played on the radio... and then it was gone... squelched by political correctness back before we'd seen enough political correctness to say "political correctness."

Here's some guy's video of the song...

... which you can find on this nice collection of 21 songs by Napoleon XIV.

If only there were a lefty version of the Tea Party...

... The Nation would love it so.

"In my world, the most important thing that matters is Instapundit. I'm very Instapundit-dependent."

Heh. In my world too! That's why I clipped and embedded that. Note to Glenn...

"There is no electronic-based cause for unintended acceleration in Toyotas," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells us now.


Now, let's try to remember how much trouble the Obama administration caused Toyota. Here's an article from last March:
Ever since the Transportation Department stepped up pressure on Toyota over its recalls several months ago, two delicate questions have hung over regulators: Is the Obama administration trying to help the Detroit carmakers it bailed out last year by attacking Toyota? And, will those attacks lead to new trade tensions with Japan?...

“It’s doubly convenient for the Obama administration to hammer Toyota excessively,” [Weekly Asahi magazine] said. “By picking on Toyota, Mr. Obama wants to reverse his falling popularity.”
And from last February:
Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota, was billed as the main attraction at a House hearing Wednesday into the company’s recalls of millions of cars — recalls for which he profusely apologized and took personal responsibility....

He was criticized by a representative on the committee for failing to show adequate remorse for those who had been killed in accidents involving acceleration problems.

“I extend my condolences from the deepest part of my heart,” Mr. Toyoda said.

I have to take a 3rd shot at Larry Tribe's op-ed: That big word "choice."

Here's my first shot and here's my second shot at Larry Tribe's op-ed purporting to say why the Supreme Court will come down in favor of the constitutionality of the individual mandate to buy health insurance. I didn't set out to write one post after another about the op-ed, but I must go on to talk about his use of the word "choice" — which is monumentally important in the discussion of abortion rights. Tribe's op-ed has nothing to say about abortion. I wonder if he would have written it differently if abortion had crossed his mind, but I can't believe that a constitutional law professor would overlook the abortion-related significance of the word "choice."

Tribe's op-ed, as I wrote in the first post, rests very heavily on misrepresenting the Supreme Court's commerce power doctrine as referring to "commercial choices." In fact, the cases refer to "commercial activities," and a switch from "activity" to "choice" is immensely important in the health care litigation, in which opponents stress that the failure to buy insurance is inactivity, not activity, and therefore beyond even the broadest interpretations the Supreme Court has ever given to the Commerce Clause.

Tribe attempted to skew opinion by substituting "choice" for "activity," and I have called him on that. But I need to go further, because someone who uses words to get things done needs to be kept honest not only about shifting from one word to another, but also about changing the meaning of the same word from case to case. Let's look at how Tribe talked about "choice" and health insurance and then see how that squares with what "choice" is supposed to mean in the abortion context.

A very cool Google logo today.

Do you get it?

"If a group circles around sacred values, they will evolve into a tribal-moral community."

"They’ll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they’ll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value."

Says University of Virginia social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, quoted in this John Tierney piece in the NYT, which gets pretty good if you read past the first half. The first half invites mockery for being so head-slappingly obvious. Glenn Reynolds already wrote just about exactly the post I was about to write. I might have gone even shorter, though. "Duh" is shorter than "Indeed." So, yeah, conservatives are so radically underrepresented in academia that it can't be mere chance.

But let's skip into the middle of the piece and think about the mechanisms of exclusion, these "sacred values" that displace scientific thinking. Haidt notes the example of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, back in 1965, who "warned about the rise of unmarried parenthood and welfare dependency among blacks" and "was shunned by many of his colleagues at Harvard as racist."
Similarly, Larry Summers, then president of Harvard, was ostracized in 2005 for wondering publicly whether the preponderance of male professors in some top math and science departments might be due partly to the larger variance in I.Q. scores among men (meaning there are more men at the very high and very low ends). “This was not a permissible hypothesis,” Dr. Haidt said. “It blamed the victims rather than the powerful. The outrage ultimately led to his resignation. We psychologists should have been outraged by the outrage. We should have defended his right to think freely.”
According to Tierney, Haidt's audience of social psychologists "seemed refreshingly receptive to his argument."
A few even endorsed his call for a new affirmative-action goal: a membership that’s 10 percent conservative by 2020. 
Affirmative action? Why not just stop giving affirmative action to liberals? I think that would get you way above the 10% quota... if you could do it. Ironically, talking "affirmative action" is inherently off-putting to conservatives. It's more of those sacred values from the tribal-moral community that ward off outsiders.


Here's Haidt on Bloggingheads, back in 2008, talking about the social psychology of conservatives and liberals. And here's Haidt's "Your Morals" website project about morality and political ideology.

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher.

"I am trying to approach the role with as much zeal, fervour and attention to detail as the real Lady Thatcher possesses - I can only hope my stamina will begin to approach her own.”


"Individuals who don’t purchase insurance they can afford have made a choice to take a free ride on the health care system."

That's a sentence I've already quoted in the previous post, but focusing on it in isolation, I see it's a stunning example of something I've been observing more and more: Today's liberals sound like yesterday's right-wingers.

Read that sentence closely: "Individuals who don’t purchase insurance they can afford have made a choice to take a free ride on the health care system." Doesn't Larry Tribe sound like your old man carping about welfare queens? There's no pity for people who are struggling to cover their basic expenses: Ah, don't be a bleeding heart — Larry/The Old Man scoffs — these people are choosing to sponge off the rest of us.

Tribe had to block out the possibility that people without health insurance aren't really making a choice. After paying for the things they think they need, they just don't have enough money left to cover a major expense that doesn't bring them a present good, only insurance against something that could go wrong.

Yeah, but that's why we need to force them to take responsibility, make them put insurance into their household budget along with the extra cupcakes and cars they're always blowing their money on — Larry/The Old Man snaps back at you.

Maybe now, you're thinking The Old Man was right! I'm not saying he wasn't. I'm just saying the liberals of today sound like The Old Man who used to enrage us with his heartlessness and his cynical observations about the lives of the people we thought of as vulnerable and unfortunate. That doesn't mean today's liberals are wrong. And I'll leave it to you to tease out the corresponding observation about the conservatives of today. Are they saying things that we Boomers, in our hippie days, used to scream back at The Old Man?

Professor Tribe would like you to know how nonpartisan the Supreme Court Justices are ... I mean, will be, when they decide the individual mandate question the way he would like.

The NYT has an op-ed by lawprof Larry Tribe that purports to demonstrate how obvious it supposedly is that the Supreme Court will find the health care law constitutional.
The justices aren’t likely to be misled by the reasoning that prompted two of the four federal courts that have ruled on this legislation to invalidate it on the theory that Congress is entitled to regulate only economic “activity,” not “inactivity,” like the decision not to purchase insurance. This distinction is illusory. Individuals who don’t purchase insurance they can afford have made a choice to take a free ride on the health care system. They know that if they need emergency-room care that they can’t pay for, the public will pick up the tab. This conscious choice carries serious economic consequences for the national health care market, which makes it a proper subject for federal regulation.
Of course, the argument Tribe likes was presented, considered, and rejected in the 2 federal court cases. It's a perfectly comprehensible argument, but that doesn't make its success in the Supreme Court a sure thing. Acting as if it does, Tribe says "it’s distressing that many assume its fate will be decided by a partisan, closely divided Supreme Court." Oh, you terrible people who fail to bow to the obviousness of one side of a constitutional argument! You compound your sins by falling prey to the upsetting belief that the Supreme Court Justices are politically partisan!
To imagine Justice Scalia would abandon that fundamental understanding of the Constitution’s necessary and proper clause because he was appointed by a Republican president is to insult both his intellect and his integrity.
That's not sarcasm. Read the whole thing. You'll see, it's not intentional sarcasm. It might be an attempt to sweet-talk Scalia into using the health-care litigation to score some political neutrality points, but it's not sarcasm. It's more: Ah! What a fine Justice, full of integrity and intellect, I will say Justice Scalia is if he decides this case my way!
Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom many unfairly caricature as the “swing vote,” deserves better as well. 
Oh! People are sooooo unfair to Justice Kennedy. I, Larry Tribe, will protect him from the scurrilous "swing vote" remarks people make.... when he decides this case my way!
Yes, his opinion in the 5-4 decision invalidating the federal ban on possession of guns near schools is frequently cited by opponents of the health care law. 
I hope they do a better job of pointing at the Lopez case than that NYT link does. Here's the right link, in case anyone cares.
But that decision in 1995 drew a bright line between commercial choices, all of which Congress has presumptive power to regulate, and conduct like gun possession that is not in itself “commercial” or “economic,” however likely it might be to set off a cascade of economic effects. 
Drew a bright line, eh? But the line, if you can call it a line, isn't about "commercial choices." That's Tribe's phrase — as he assures us the line is bright! — and what the Court said was "commercial activity" — which is why the argument about the distinction between activity and inactivity has been so important in the health care litigation. Tribe declares lines to be bright precisely at the point when he is shedding darkness. (If you think you can't shed darkness, I agree. I'm just riffing on the linguistic oddity of the lawyer's expression "bright line." Aren't easy-to-see lines usually dark — like black ink on white paper?)
The decision about how to pay for health care is a quintessentially commercial choice in itself, not merely a decision that might have economic consequences.
"Quintessentially" is such a strong word that perhaps you will not notice that it's next to the phrase that is not "economic activity."
Only a crude prediction that justices will vote based on politics rather than principle would lead anybody to imagine that Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Samuel Alito would agree with the judges in Florida and Virginia who have ruled against the health care law.
Oh, come on. Tribe's rhetorical move has become comical at this point. It reminds me of an old-fashioned mother exerting moral pressure on a child by telling him how sure she is that he is such a good little boy that he could never do whatever it is she doesn't want him to do. Put more directly, it's an assertion of authority: I'm telling you what's right and if you don't do it, you'll be wrong. Could the Justices possibly yield to pressure like that? It's crude to think that they would, isn't it? It's an insult both their intellect and their integrity.

And yet, Larry Tribe does think it, right? That's what's behind his rhetoric. I believe. Crudely.

UPDATE: I have 2 more posts about this op-ed, one dealing with Tribe's disapproval of people who fail to take responsibility and one dealing with the meaning of "choice."

February 7, 2011

At Mr. Ice's Café...


... you can pour yourself a cold one on this very cold, long night. So keep the conversation flowing.

"The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early."

"After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from 'How can $65 million look so cheap?' to 'How long before I’m out of here?'"

From the ex-governor and his federal judge wife, who are separating after 40 years of marriage: "Please do not hesitate to include both of us in social occasions as we will not find it awkward or uncomfortable."

Ed and Majorie Rendell are breaking up, but please don't think you have to exclude one or the other as you plan your parties and other networking opportunities.

Are they Democrats or Republicans? Here's a clue: neither the word Democrat or Republican appears in the linked article. So?

"Good fighters and good boxers, they keep pounding away at the cut. We knew they would come after us."

"It was like a heavyweight fight."

"Will.i.am said his attempt to tweet during the performance was thwarted after he discovered his cell phone had no service."

"His Twitter handle was silent until after the game, when he sent out a series of tweets beginning with: 'Att crashed ... ahhhh!!!! The worse.'"

Blame AT&T. AT&T is to blame for everything. Why not blame AT&T for how bad the Black Eyed Peas were?
The choice of the Black Eyed Peas was intended to bring some youthful vigor back to the halftime show after the NFL — feeling burned by the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" of Janet Jackson with the aid of Justin Timberlake in 2004 — chose a string of safe, near-geriatric icons for the halftime for the next six years, ending on a low note with a much-maligned concert by The Who last year.
You did "Sweet Child O' Mine" and near-geriatric icon Slash appeared. Then you did "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." Did near-geriatric icon Jennifer Grey back out at the last moment?

Why is the New York Times just noticing this?

Liberals (including President Obama) think the Supreme Court was wrong in Citizens United to say that corporations have free speech rights, but newspaper and book publishers are corporations. For some reason, the NYT is acting like it took a year to notice this hitch (which has been perfectly evident since the Citizens United litgation began in the lower courts). I guess the excuse for pretending not to see what was obvious is that it has been hoping to rely on the notion that some corporations have more rights than others. This new piece — a column by Adam Liptak — begins to concede that is an unworkable argument.
“There is no precedent supporting laws that attempt to distinguish between corporations which are deemed to be exempt as media corporations and those which are not,” Justice Kennedy wrote in Citizens United....

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has reviewed the historical evidence. The bottom line, he said, is this: “If ordinary business corporations lack First Amendment rights, so do those business corporations that we call media corporations.”
But Liptak's column peters out with a quote from a lawprof who calls it a "difficult question" and...
There good arguments both ways about whether corporations ought to be covered by the First Amendment. But it is harder to say that some corporations have First Amendment rights and others do not.
Yes, yes, it's obvious what the answer needs to be, and yet the debate must go on and on because it's so important to restrict the speech of people who organize themselves into corporations. Some of them. The bad guys. Not the good guys, like the ones who take a year to getting around to half-conceding the crushingly obvious.

"Where are the liberal civil rights leaders in response to the openly racist comments and calls for violence against America's black Supreme Court Justice?"

"These same men -- all men, I believe, as per usual with the black civil rights groups -- got all in a multi-week, if not many month, tizzy with their allegation that what obviously was a 'say it don't spray it' situation at a Tea Party rally was a spit attack on a black Member of Congress, but they evidently do not care when persons at an event affiliated with one of the nation's most established liberal groups, Common Cause, publicly say they want Clarence Thomas physically attacked and put into slavery."

Says Amy Ridenour, via Instapundit, who uses the word "hypocrisy." It's something beyond hypocrisy, though, I think.

Obama: "Over the first two years of my presidency, we had a complete disaster. Right?"


Remember when it was fun to mock Arianna and her little HuffPo project?

Begun with $1 million, it's now being sold to AOL for $315 million, with Arianna reigning as as president and editor in chief.
By handing so much control over to Ms. Huffington and making her a public face of the company, AOL, which has been seen as apolitical, risks losing its nonpartisan image. Ms. Huffington said her politics would have no bearing on how she ran the new business.
What difference does it make? AOL as a brand meant something to me in the 1990s, but not now. Who cares whether AOL retains a semblance of political neutrality? In any case, mainstream media always feels pretty liberal, so why would anyone really notice. Now, that quote is from the NYT, so... think about it. The NYT would like to be the big news site that looks neutral (but satisfies liberals). HuffPo is the raging competition, which needs to be put in its place.

Mitch Daniels in the WSJ: "Unless you're in favor of a fully nationalized health-care system, the president's health-care reform law is a massive mistake.."

The Indiana Governor (and potential GOP presidential candidate) ponders what the states can do if the law is not repealed or judicially voided. The states cannot be commandeered to run the program, so there is leverage to bargain. These are the conditions that 21 governors have proposed to the Secretary of Health and Services:
• We are given the flexibility to decide which insurers are permitted to offer their products.

• All the law's expensive benefit mandates are waived, so that our citizens aren't forced to buy benefits they don't need and have a range of choice that includes more affordable plans.

• The law's provisions discriminating against consumer-driven plans, such as health savings accounts, are waived.

• We are given the freedom to move Medicaid beneficiaries into the exchange, or to utilize new approaches to the traditional program, instead of herding hundreds of thousands more people into today's broken Medicaid system.

• Our state is reimbursed the true, full cost of the administrative burden to be imposed upon us, based on the estimate of an auditor independent of HHS.

• A trustworthy projection is commissioned, by a research organization independent of the department, of how many people are likely to wind up in the exchange, given the large incentives for employers to save money by off-loading their workers.

Obviously, this is a very different system than the one the legislation intends....
That's a GOP proposal on how to tweak health care reform, which is what Obama and others have said they need. With the prospect of 21 states dropping out of the enforcement regime, there should be real pressure to work with them and try to draw them back in.

On the other hand, you really are in favor of a fully nationalized health-care system, then you might celebrate the states failure to go along with the attempt to include them. And if what happens is, as Daniels predicts, "first-rate operational catastrophe," then that sets up the collapse into the only workable fix a fully nationalized health-care system.

February 6, 2011

"I know that Ronnie would be thrilled and is thrilled to have all of you share in his 100th birthday."

"Does it seem possible?"

Watch the Super Bowl with us!

Come, hang out at Meadhouse.

UPDATE: Packers win the Super Bowl!!!!!!

UPDATE2: It's 28° outside, but guys are opening their doors to yell to each other what everybody already knows: Packers win the Super Bowl!

UPDATE3: I must say I enjoyed seeing George W. Bush there. George and Laura and Condi.

Sunday on skis.

This was our second stop...


The first was Governor Nelson, but I didn't take a picture. We stopped at Steve's Liquor Store on the way home, not because we needed anything, but because we knew they were having a pre-Super Bowl tailgate party, which is to say, free brats. So we bought some beer and Nueske's bacon and grabbed a free brat to share as we drove home.

"What's on besides the Super Bowl?"

"'Sex and the City' marathon... 'Toddlers and Tiaras' marathon... 'Bewitched' marathon... 'Worst Cooks in America' marathon... 'Jerseylicious' marathon..."

"Is it harder for women to be sports fans?"

(Bonus question: Is it harder for women to speak without sounding like everything is a question?)

Hey, everybody mistakes 4-star generals for waiters.

"In fact, when military personnel wear their dress uniforms of short jacket and striped trousers to black-tie parties, they themselves often make jokes to each other about waiting tables. [ Four-star Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli -- the No. 2 general in the U.S. Army] wears a chestful of medals, which [Valerie] Jarrett apparently did not see."

"A young Wisconsin trio could shape the direction of the GOP."

They all grew up in southern Wisconsin. They are close in age, ranging from late 30s to early 40s, and have known and worked with one another for many years. [Paul] Ryan and [Scott] Walker met when they were in their 20s. Ryan's chief of staff roomed with [Reince] Priebus in college.

They are not only friends but political soul mates. They share a worldview, a set of conservative values and a determination to show the country that conservative governance can solve many of the nation's problems. And in Wisconsin, they found a way to unify the party establishment with the tea party movement, avoiding many of the conflicts that occurred in other states.
It's all about Wisconsin....

"With a classic showman’s swagger, Bill O’Reilly has declared that more people will see his live pre-game interview with President Barack Obama..."

"... on Sunday than 'any other interview that’s ever been done in the history of mankind.'"

Blech. Why are those 2 non-football characters trying to horn in on the Super Bowl? Can you just leave us alone for one day?

Movie watched last night: "Citizen Kane."

What was the motivation to pull the old reputedly-greatest-movie-ever-made down off the shelf? Some conversation about putting together a story by interviewing various people who knew a specific individual one had never met and wanted to try to understand. I said that's the famous, highly praised narrative structure of "Citizen Kane," you realize, but you didn't realize that because you'd never seen "Citizen Kane." How do you get through life without seeing "Citizen Kane"? People are always pushing "Citizen Kane," which you rightly pointed out is a reason to resist it. So thanks for not resisting it when I pushed it, which I did not because I'm shocked that you'd failed to take in the greatest movie blah blah blah — in fact, I admire resistance to that sort of pressure — but because it had to do with an idea we were already talking about that had nothing to do with the irritating pseudo-accomplishment of seeing all the things you're supposed to see.

"Citizen Kane" questions for discussion:

1. Why did you see "Citizen Kane," or how have you managed to avoid it? Have you been bullied into seeing it, or are you one of the bullies? Do you feel like there are movies you're supposed to see, and do you see them or avoid them?

2. If you've seen it, do you like it? What don't you like about it? Do you like that kind of extreme visual composition where one actor is right up against the edge of the frame and the other actor walks away into the set and looks about one tenth the size of the other guy? Do you like that stagey acting? Do those special achievements in makeup from 1941 drive you crazy or do you find them heart-rendingly touching evidence of striving after Art?

3. With all this snow we've been having, we could make a list of movies with important snow, and "Citizen Kane" belongs on that list. What else? "The Shining"...

"Do you think it's gonna be a Packers blowout? Do you see where that could happen?"

Rush Limbaugh asked Ken Hutcherson on Friday's show:
THE HUTCH:  Well, I do.  That's why I was gonna make you promise me that you won't turn the TV off at halftime.

RUSH:  I would never turn the Super Bowl off at halftime no matter what's happening....

THE HUTCH:  ... But if you will notice, why do most advertisers want to advertise on the first half?

RUSH:  Well, Hutch, it's because the women stop watching at halftime.

THE HUTCH: (laughing) No.  Because they know, man, that the Super Bowl has a tendency to be one-sided. We've had some great Super Bowls in the last....

RUSH:  Yeah, but it hasn't been the case in the last five or six years.  This game has gone down to the last play...

THE HUTCH:  But there is a possibility that someone could be put to shame this week. I'm not gonna push, but I believe my Green Bay Packers are gonna come through....
So, Packers win in a blowout, right? Anyway, you see the subject of women came up. It comes up again at the end of the discussion: