April 30, 2011

Ben Masel — the great Madison activist — has died.

Very sad.
Ben Masel, prominent marijuana activist and professional rabble rouser, died Saturday from complications due to lung cancer. He was 56....

Masel was born in the Bronx and grew up in New Jersey. He moved to Madison in 1971 and quickly became a fixture of the counter-culture, known specifically for acts of civil disobedience in the cause of legalizing pot...

"He wasn't just some pothead," said Sal Serio, a longtime friend. "He respected the constitution. He respected the system. And he fought to make sure others did too."

In fact, Masel made his living fighting those who tried to limit personal freedoms and rights. He was, for lack of a better term, a professional activist....
Meade and I had coffee with Ben less than a month ago. He looked and sounded like someone who was going to beat the terrible odds. It was possible to survive. You have to get into the "long tail." He was vibrant and completely engaged in the recent political events of Madison and took great pleasure in telling us about the many free speech battles he'd fought over the years. He talked about moving to another apartment and wanted to find a place that would accommodate his tall bookcases and all his books. With death staring him in the face, he was fully alive.
Jeff Scott Olson, Masel's attorney for the past 20 years, said his client focused mainly on challenging limitations to free speech and right to assemble. Whenever police departments or cities tried to stop him from collecting signatures or protesting, he would sue. And according to Olson, he almost always won.

Said Amy Gros-Louis, a friend of 25 years, "Ben knew the laws better than the police did."
And better than a lot of law professors! He was quite a brilliant guy.

Here's video Meade shot on March 24 at the Wisconsin Capitol, with Ben reading the free speech guarantees in the Wisconsin Constitution:

ADDED: Here's Ben's Facebook page for the event he called "Take back Wisconsin Constitution."
Yesterday the police issued the first citations for holding signs on the first floor ring of the Capitol building, in contravention of the court order which directed the department of Administration to return speech options to January. individuals have been free to hold political signs in this area for at least 25 years.

It's particularly ironic thatbthe Departmet of Adminisration's sign announcing the ban on protest ias immediately adjacent to an originalcopy of our State's Constitution, open to the very section which guarantees our right to protest there.

"One family. One room. Four screens. Four realities, basically."

"While it may look like some domestic version of 'The Matrix' — families sharing a common space, but plugged into entirely separate planes of existence through technology — a scene like this has become an increasingly familiar evening ritual. As a result, the American living room in 2011 can often seem less like an oasis for shared activity, even if that just means watching television together, than an entangled intersection of data traffic — everyone huddled in a cyber-cocoon."

It's a NYT culture article.

Is there a problem here? If a family of 4 were sitting around together reading books, it would seem better than if they were all watching the same show on TV. And yet, with books, you wouldn't be able to IM stuff to each other.

With either books or computers, if you're with other people, you can easily read something out loud to the people in the room and start a conversation. My grandfather used to do that with the newspaper, and I've come to think of it as a kind of proto-blogging.

These days, if I'm reading something and finding it interesting, I might blog it to the whole world and try to start a conversation on line, but we still interact in real space. Meade might read something out loud to me, and that might lead to a long conversation, or it might get one of my all-too-typical responses: 1. "IM me the link," 2. "I already blogged that." 3. "I'm blogging that right now."

One of Qaddafi's sons was killed in a NATO airstrike that targeted Qaddafi's house.

Qaddafi and his wife were in the house at the time.

ADDED: The NYT reports:
“Tonight and only a short time ago, the Western crusader aggression against the Libyan nation continued and proved again that it has no moral foundation, no legal foundation and no political foundation,” said Moussa Ibrahim, the government spokesman. “The attack resulted in the martyrdom of brother Seif al-Arab Muammar el-Qaddafi, 29 years old, and three of the leader’s grandchildren.”...

Footage broadcast on the satellite channel Al Jazeera showed the wreckage of the house, including a wall with an enormous hole and shattered concrete. There was no immediate reaction from NATO or independent confirmation of the attack....

The airstrike against the Qaddafis marked the most significant escalation so far in the Western air campaign intended to help push him from power. In recent days, NATO leaders have described their growing frustration at the resilience of Colonel Qaddafi’s military forces, which have begun to disguise themselves, hide equipment and otherwise evade NATO airstrikes....

"If the bunny from Donnie Darko turned into a snap dragon and opened up to reveal Mickey Rourke’s face..."

It's "Immortals," the new Tarsem Singh movie, about Theseus.

I'm very resistant to seeing movies these days, but the director's previous movie, "The Fall" was my favorite movie of 2008, a year in which I saw 17 movies. (Here's my last-night-of-2008 post that contains my official ranking.)

I truly appreciate Singh's avoidance of CGI (in movies that would seem to require CGI). I hate CGI. Viscerally.

Monkeytail beards.

Hilarious and repellent. Via ALOTT5MA, which also made look at these pictures of Adam Lambert. Try to resist.

A Drudge photo juxtaposition, presented for your intepretation.

You've got Obama, turning to his right, gleefully chomping a chocolate-dipped strawberry, with the heading "Obama Ready to Eat the Press." (The linked article is about the White House Correspondents' Dinner tonight.) The photo underneath Obama is his father, turning in the opposite direction, a pipe clenched in his teeth. (The heading beneath that pic is "Obama's father forced out at Harvard...," linking to an article referring to Harvard's "difficulty... figur[ing] out how many wives he had.") The third picture freezes Mitch Daniels in a gesture that gives the impression — to my eye — of being quite rude.

Come on, Matt. What's this supposed to mean? A wider view may flesh out the meaning:

At the Most Difficult Café...


... you can challenge yourself or annoy everybody else.

Oh, give Romney a break. He didn't say "We're gonna lynch him."

He said "We're gonna hang him."

Uh, so to speak... metaphorically...

Bad science and why we get fat.

A diavlog with Gary Taubes.

And here's his book: "Why We Get Fat."

And here's his NYT article: "Is Sugar Toxic?"

Mid-recount, Prosser's lead has gone from 7,316 to 13,735.

525 of 3,602 precincts have finished their work. Maybe the slower-counting precincts will trend toward Kloppenburg, but it looks pretty hopeless.

ADDED: Actually, if Prosser picked up 6,419 in the first 525 precincts, there are perhaps 26,000 votes that could be netted by one candidate or the other in the remaining precincts. If there are more Kloppenburg-leaning counties that haven't finished yet, why couldn't she win? Prosser supporters should not get complacent. Pay attention! [ADDED: Most likely, the increased margin after counting only about 1/7 of the votes is purely a result of Prosser-leaning precincts having finished counting at this point. The precincts that are reporting on the recount may be coming up with exactly the same totals they had the first time.]

IN THE COMMENTS: Larry J says:
Of course the precincts that trend towards Kloppenburg will be slow to report. They want to see how many votes they have to manufacture. It's a very old tactic that has been proven quite effective (e.g. Kennedy, Franken).
And traditionalguy said:
Or the recount is revealing the vote packing fraud practiced by the Kloppenburgers that aimed to win by just enough against a known count for Prosser. But the "mistake" of leaving out a city's report from the totals skewed the target that the Kloppenberger vote packers had to aim for. Damn those cheating Republicans.
That made me realize that I was assuming Prosser's net gain was the result of finding previously uncounted votes. But it could just as well be the result of Kloppenburg losing votes. The linked article is minimal, but it does say the recounters haven't found any "major anomalies."

MORE: Commenter Dual Freq gives us the cite to get to the running totals, so we can see how the new counts in each precinct. When you do that, you can see that nothing dramatic has happened. Even though the margin at this point is 6,419 more than the original margin for the whole state, the comparison of the previous totals in the recounted precincts reveals that Prosser has only netted 33 votes so far in the recount. That is, the original count was pretty accurate.

Looking closer at the totals from the GAB's spreadsheet, the differences are mostly 0, 1, 2 or 3 votes in each ward. Except two wards. Prosser lost 4 and Kloppenburg gained for for a net loss of 8 votes in Bailey's Harbor Ward 1&2 in Door county. Prosser also netted 15 in Eau Pleine Ward 1 in Portage County when Prosser gained 7 and Kloppenburg lost 8 from the original totals. That's a huge error there because there were only 339 votes in that ward.
T J Sawyer saYS:
The title of the post reads like a report from the MSM. It's a good thing we have DualFreq on the job!
Yes! Many thanks to Dual Freq!

"In a pants-on-fire moment, the White House press office today denied anyone there had issued threats..."

"... to remove Carla Marinucci and possibly other Hearst reporters from the press pool covering the President in the Bay Area. Chronicle editor Ward Bushee called the press office on its fib..."
"It is not a truthful response. It follows a day of off-the-record exchanges with key people in the White House communications office who told us they would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all."
Marinucci was in the "print pool" at an Obama event, and she used her cell phone to make a video of protesters singing "We paid our dues/Where's our change?"

The White House seems to have objected to a reporter taking advantage of her "print pool" access to do something other than writing. Obviously, they've also got to be annoyed by the negative coverage. And now, the Chronicle, revealing confidential communications, is continuing to make the White House look bad.

Meanwhile, Marinucci isn't just some print reporter who spontaneously grabbed her cell phone to capture an unplanned event:
In fact, Carla and her reporting colleague, Joe Garofoli, founded something called "Shaky Hand Productions" - the semi-pro, sometimes vertiginous use of a Flip or phone camera by Hearst reporters to catch more impromptu or urgent moments during last year's California gubernatorial race that might otherwise be missed by TV.

The name has become its own brand; often politicians even ask if anyone from Shaky Hand will show at their event. For Carla, Joe and reporters at other Hearst newsrooms where Shaky Hand has taken hold, this was an appropriate dive into use of other media by traditional journalists catering to audiences who expect their news delivered in all modes and manners.
Well, this is great publicity for Marinucci's "semi-pro" enterprise, isn't it? But if she has this enterprise, should she be able to exploit "print pool" access? The Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein says that all journalists have their little video cams now and that, even though many journalists are denied access altogether, the ones who do get in should be able to use their ordinary tools.

And then there's the threat argument that the Obama administration will wreck its "hip, transparent and social media-loving" image if it doesn't back off on this issue.

8-year-old boy in a tornado: "He said it was like he was floating in the air and then just floated back down."

The grateful dad:
"I was reaching up for him, but my hands never made it. The walls crumpled like paper, and he just went with them...

"Like someone had him on a string and snatched him away real quick...

"It was like a nightmare. I wasn't sure exactly what was happening...I just held on to what I had and asked God for protection...

"I looked up and saw a silhouette, his little shadowy figure walking back over the debris... It was wonderful..."

April 29, 2011

Here comes the story of Elmer McGuirt...

Seems like a poem should be written about Elmer McGuirt.

"People are free to discriminate based on sex, religion, race, and so on in their wills..."

... but what if, instead of specifying how much specific individuals get, the will says to divide things up according to religious law? Is the court supposed to figure out what the religious law requires? Eugene Volokh has a very interesting post about a case in which the court decided that the sons should get twice as much as the daughters because the will said to follow "Islamic Laws and Sharia." Looking at a Supreme Court case from 1968, Volokh thinks the Establishment Clause requires the court to refuse to make such a religious decision. Volokh also thinks "this rule is right..."
...  even though it does make things difficult for religious people who want the religious terms of their wills and contracts enforced. The alternative, after all, is for courts to take sides in deciding which rival religious view — say, which understanding of Islamic law — is right and which is wrong...

Fortunately, religious observers who want their disputes settled according to religious law generally have a simple solution: They can provide for arbitration by some religious tribunal that they choose, and courts will generally then enforce the result of that arbitration. Civil courts will no longer be called to decide what Islamic/Jewish/etc. law “really” requires, yet religious believers can have their disputes adjudicated under religious principles.
ADDED: Here's a hypothetical with religion taken out of it. A man has 2 children by 2 different women, who are of 2 different races. The will says that his estate shall go to the child who is racially superior.

Obama views...

... tornado destruction.

And gets criticized for failing to respond to wildfire destruction.

"The truck was just cruising down the highway when he rolled up to it and pointed."

"I wasn't sure what he was gonna do until he was under it. It couldn't have been for more than a minute."

Aftermath: "To be honest, it was completely stupid and reckless. God was definitely looking out for me and I've promised myself no more bullshit. I have an awesome life and a lot to live for and I have taken my life for granted. I'm not anymore."


... detail.

Think Progress says: "Storms Kill Over 250 Americans In States Represented By Climate Pollution Deniers."

What a terrible thing even to think of saying!

Of Mice and Men... and dogs.

"I'm looking for a broken dog..."

“These Brats Bust Unions!”

The anti-Scott Walker sticker campaign.
“You don’t have to be in Madison or NYC to participate!!... You can be anywhere where there are stores. Here’s the deal: the struggle in Wisconsin is not over. It has just changed course. One of the current tactics is a boycott of the companies that donated to the Scott Walker campaign last year. No matter where we live, we can support Wisconsinites, spread the word about the boycott, and let these companies know that we are taking action against them.”
So... vandalism is the tactic. Another "peaceful" protest. If you don't like this political attack on grocery stores, buy the products the protesters have targeted. Johnsonville Brats. You know you need toilet paper: Get Angel Soft toilet paper for your angel-soft ass.  Sargento Cheese and Coors beer — the menu suggests itself.

Meanwhile, there's this "Post-It Campaign" that Instapundit is pushing, which I never thought was cute. (Meade can verify that when I heard about it, I called it "littering" and expressed contempt for it.) "Ten Rules for Liberty Guerrillas." Ugh.

How about some respect for the work of people who run small businesses? Hang your scrappy signs on your own damned property.

Man, I have seen too many signs this year!

(Date of photo: February 25, 2011.)

"This beatification is different because this pope is different."

"He’s a man with a role in history, not just in church history... The seal of sainthood doesn’t close the debate on history... In a certain sense, for many Catholics he’s already a saint, even without beatification and, let’s be honest, even without a miracle."

ADDED: Longer video here.

Birtherism and racism.

John McWhorter and Glenn Loury talk it out. The diavlog begins with McWhorter asserting that birtherism is not about race:

"Leading from behind is not leading. It is abdicating. It is also an oxymoron."

"Yet a sympathetic journalist, channeling an Obama adviser, elevates it to a doctrine. The president is no doubt flattered. The rest of us are merely stunned."

Donald Trump, redefining presidential, sublimely entertaining, or...

... fucking stupid?
During a 30-minute stump speech focused mostly on foreign affairs, Trump blasted Obama's handling of Libya, Iraq, China and Afghanistan, and in one of his many curse-bombs, he lamented the nation's focus on building schools in war-torn Iraq, while neglecting education in the United States.

"In the meantime we can't get a f---ing school in Brooklyn," he said.

He also cursed the spike in gas prices: "We have nobody in Washington that sits back and said, you're not going to raise that f---ing price."

Trump even dropped what's considered the most offensive f-bomb when he promised to use swear words while negotiating with China.

"Listen you mother f---ers, we're going to tax you 25 percent," he said.

Trump also sprinkled in a number of insults directed toward the nation's leaders.

"Our leaders are stupid, they are stupid people," he said. "It's just very, very sad."
He knows what he's doing, but do we?

ADDED: It looks and sounds like this:

The audience loved it.

"Why portray the king as a cross-dressing homosexual who shoots Protestants dressed as birds in his royal park for fun?"

"Because that's exactly as I saw him," answers Ken Russell, looking back 40 years at his truly outrageous film "The Devils."
Russell's film was adapted from Aldous Huxley's 1952 non-fiction novel The Devils of Loudon, as well as John Whiting's follow-up 1960 play The Devils. They were all inspired by the notorious case of supposed demonic possession in 17th-century France, in which a charismatic Catholic priest, Urbain Grandier, was accused of bewitching nuns. The accusation was trumped up by Richelieu as an excuse to destroy a Protestant stronghold....

Russell mentions he was inspired by one particular line in Huxley's book. "The exorcism of sister Jeanne," wrote Huxley, "was equivalent to rape in a public lavatory." Hence the film's vision of Loudon as a pristine, white-stone city and the convent as clad in white tiles.... Russell recalls the film's final shot: "The girl goes up the hill of broken bricks." The girl (Grandier's recently widowed wife) walks over Loudun's ruins into a landscape in which the only objects are posts topped by carriage wheels, on which Protestant corpses turn in the wind. "Polanski is said to have been inspired by that shot for the last scene of The Pianist," [says Russell's wife  Lisi Tribble].

Russell then suggests The Devils is a religious film that takes inspiration from his own Catholic faith. "It's about the degradation of religious principles," he says. "And about a sinner who becomes a saint."
I had a list of my 5 favorite films that remained the same 5 films for quite a few years, and "The Devils" on the list. What was the rest of the list? Can I remember? "Aguirre the Wrath of God," "My Dinner With Andre," "Mahler," and "It's a Gift." I have had the same 11 films on my Blogger profile list for a long time, maybe going all the way back to 2004. 3 of my old 5 favorites are still on the list. The 2 that are not are Ken Russell films. Ken Russell was really important back in the 1970s and 80s, and I've forgotten about him in the last 20 years. I wonder what sort of impression "The Devils" would make on me now. Or "Mahler." Or all those other fabulous Ken Russell movies we submerged ourselves in, in the isolation chamber of the movie theater.

"I pronounce that they be man and wife together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

The wedding is accomplished.

The bride wore a dress that had been designed by a designer.

Mr. Bean was there.

April 28, 2011

“Do you want to wait this market out in your current house or do you want to wait it out in your next house?”

Are you irrationally loss averse?
[M]ost of us wildly overestimate the benefits of waiting. We convince ourselves that avoiding a potential future loss is the same as saving money. We underestimate the risks that we’ll face by waiting another year. And we totally ignore the real, measurable costs of staying in a home that’s too big or too small or poorly located....
Lots of detail at the link. Here's an analogy:
Overall, it’s helpful to think of house prices as a river that flows forward and, on very rare occasions, backward. It’s natural for us to prefer to jump from one raft to the next when the river is moving forward—that is, when prices are rising, not falling. But even when the river is flowing backward, jumping rafts midstream can make sense. When the river is flowing backward, we tend to fixate on the speed of the next raft relative to the stationary riverbank (e.g., “My next home is going to fall 5% in value after I buy it”). We should focus instead on the speed of the two rafts relative to each other (e.g., “Both homes are going to fall 5% in value”).
Thus, "only first-time buyers face a substantial risk when buying in a declining market."

"[T]he courts have no obligation to entertain pure speculation and conjecture."

Said the Court of Appeals for the 2d Circuit, threatening sanctions against the plaintiffs' lawyer:
[T]he appeals court said, the plaintiff advanced inconsistent theories, including that the defendants may have ordered explosives to be planted in the Pentagon, may have hired Muslims extremists to carry out the attacks, may have used Muslims as dupes or patsies, or may have fired a missile into the Pentagon. Nor did the plaintiff cite any facts to support a conspiracy among the defendants, according to the opinion....
The lawyer, William Veale, said the judges were "dishonest" and "didn’t mention half of what we presented to them in the complaint. They simply disregarded mountains of evidence.”

Here's the opinion (PDF):
While, as a general matter, Gallop or any other plaintiff certainly may allege that the most senior members of the United States government conspired to commit acts of terrorism against the Untied States, the courts have no obligation to entertain pure speculation and conjecture.
The Untied States? Perhaps that's another clue for your imaginary mountain range, Mr. Veale.
Indeed, in attempting to marshal a series of unsubstantiated and inconsistent allegations in order to explain why American Airlines Flight 77 did not crash into the Pentagon, the complaint utterly fails to set forth a consistent, much less plausible, theory for what actually happened that morning in Arlington, Virginia. See, e.g., Complaint & 3 (alleging that defendants may have caused “high explosive charges to be detonated inside the Pentagon”); & 21 (alleging that defendants “may have employed Muslim extremists to carry out suicide attacks; or . . . may have used Muslim extremists as dupes or patsies”); id. (alleging that “four planes” were in fact hijacked on the morning of September 11); & 33 (alleging that “[i]f Flight 77, or a substitute, did swoop low over the [Pentagon], to create the false impression of a suicide attack, it was then flown away by its pilot, or remote control, and apparently crashed somewhere else”); & 40(d)(3) (alleging that apart from Flight 77 “a different, additional, flying object . . . hit the Pentagon”); & 43 (alleging that there “may have been a missile strike, perhaps penetrating through to the back wall, which helped collapse the section that fell in, possibly augmented by explosives placed inside”).

"Test Flags Babies With Autism, But Also Feeds False Alarms."

It's a 5-minute questionnaire, to be answered by the parents of 1-year-olds. The point would be to begin treatments earlier, when they might be more effective. I'm not sure what the treatments are... but perhaps there are exercises that could beneficially be done with all babies, so that it would not be crucial to know early on if a child is autistic.

"What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence."

The NYT interviews, Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who was sexually assaulted in Egypt on February 11th:
She was ripped away from her producer and bodyguard by a group of men who tore at her clothes and groped and beat her body. “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands”.... She estimated that the attack lasted for about 40 minutes and involved 200 to 300 men....

As the cameraman, Richard Butler, was swapping out a battery, Egyptian colleagues who were accompanying the camera crew heard men nearby talking about wanting to take Ms. Logan’s pants off. She said: “Our local people with us said, ‘We’ve gotta get out of here.’ That was literally the moment the mob set on me.”
And from Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News:
Mr. Butler, Ms. Logan’s producer, Max McClellan, and two locally hired drivers were “helpless... because the mob was just so powerful.” A bodyguard who had been hired to accompany the team was able to stay with Ms. Logan for a brief period of time.

... Ms. Logan “described how her hand was sore for days after — and then she realized it was from holding on so tight” to the bodyguard’s hand.
From the CBS interview with Logan:
"There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying... I thought not only am I going to die, but it's going to be just a torturous death that's going to go on forever..."
She says that to try to survive, she thought about her children, and when she saw them again: "I felt like I had been given a second chance that I didn't deserve...because I did that to them. I came so close to leaving them, to abandoning them."

"I don't know how anyone survived."

"We're used to tornadoes here in Tuscaloosa. It's part of growing up. But when you look at the path of destruction that's likely 5 to 7 miles long in an area half a mile to a mile wide ... it's an amazing scene. There's parts of the city I don't recognize, and that's someone that's lived here his entire life."

Effort to recall Wisconsin State Senator Mark Miller ends... in a somewhat strange way.

There's a local effort to collect signatures, which came up little short. Those signatures could have been merged with signatures collected by a Utah-based group, but the leader of the local effort is suspicious of the leader of the Utah group based on "troubling news articles and blog posts" that raise questions about "his integrity and values": "We’ve gone out of our way to run our campaign above board and with integrity. I don’t want to sully our reputation.”

That sounds like a good decision.  Meanwhile, the signatures have been filed for 8 recall campaigns — against 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

Justice Stevens: "that was the day I decided to resign... I learned giving that talk that I had a speech problem."

"That talk" = the announcement of his dissenting opinion in Citizens United, which you can listen to here.

From an interview published today in The Atlantic.
Stevens said he retired because, while he still loved the job of judging, he had no desire to linger beyond his physical prime. He had witnessed the final years on the bench of [William O.] Douglas, Thurgood Marshall and others who should have retired earlier for health reasons. A few years ago, he secretly asked Associate Justice David Souter to tell him when it was time for him to go. But Souter left first, in 2009.

"When he retired, I knew I didn't have any safety valve anymore."
The suggestion, as I read it, is that Stevens had to judge himself strictly because he didn't have Souter to reassure him that the time to go had not yet arrived. (How can you tell if you've lost your mental powers?)

Why Souter was a unique confidante, the interviewer did not ask.

Rush Limbaugh talks about Critical Legal Studies... and Obama's legal education at Harvard.

From yesterday's show:
[Obama] attended Harvard Law School at the height of something that it was promoting, education technique or a theory.  It was called critical legal studies.  Critical legal studies was in its ascendancy at Harvard Law when Obama was there.  You can look it up.  Just Google critical legal studies.  It is out and out Marxism. 

In a nutshell, critical legal studies claims that law is just politics by other means.  It is a way for the rich to keep the poor working man down and deny him opportunities for prosperity.  That is what Obama was taught at Harvard and based on what he believes and is doing it looks to me like he probably did get good grades.  Look it up if you want.  Critical legal studies.  Law is just politics by other means.  You can even turn it around.  Politics is just law by other means.

"And yeah, I hear that she wants to now engage in more multidimensional storytelling."

"Versus, I guess, just the straight-on reading-into-that-teleprompter-screen storytelling. So more power to her. I wish her well with her multidimensional storytelling."

Sarah Palin mocks her nemesis Katie Couric.

Multidimensional storytelling is an expression that lends itself to comic riffing. Palin's jab isn't particularly clever. It's mainly just the sarcastic repeating of Couric's own term. How did the term "storytelling" catch on over the last quarter century as a positive way to talk about narration of real-world events? If I remember correctly, before about 1980, the term "storytelling" mainly referred to fiction or lying.

There was a real fad in the legal academy for writing and pontificating about "telling stories" about this or that aspect of law, and it was meant in a positive way. I hate to pick on an individual lawprof, but here's an example of what I'm talking about from a recent law review article:
Narratives matter, place matters, and care's embrace of storytelling situates law in a more robust dialogue on the allocation of rights to controlling our surroundings.
Like most law review article sentences, it has a footnote:

"Dozens of tornadoes spawned by a powerful storm system wiped out neighborhoods across a wide swath of the South..."

"... killing at least 201 people in the deadliest outbreak in nearly 40 years... Alabama's state emergency management agency said it had confirmed 131 deaths, while there were 32 in Mississippi, 16 in Tennessee, 13 in Georgia, eight in Virginia and one in Kentucky."

Were you in the path of the storms?

Will no one shed a tear for Jerome Corsi?

Corsi wrote the much promoted book: "Where's the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President."
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#1 in Books > Nonfiction > Law > One-L
#1 in Books > Nonfiction > Government
#1 in Books > Nonfiction > Law > Constitutional Law
#1 in Constitutional Law? Does that hurt, o fellow conlawprofs? Check out the rest of the list? How far down do you have to go before you see a book on constitutional law that you respect? But anyway... who can pity Corsi? He got his #1 book. But no, the book won't be released until May 17, so everyone who's put in an order for the book, everyone who made that book #1, should go right into their Amazon account and delete the book. Or will the publisher find a way to withdraw it and redo it so that it becomes super-timely? Some new chapter espousing some trumped up conspiracy theory about the birth certificate and its release.

James Taranto got me thinking about Corsi:
Jerome Corsi's "Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case That Barack Obama Is Not Eligible to Be President" has an official release date of May 17. Corsi must be wishing he'd pushed the date up to yesterday...

Presumably Obama could have made this request [Hawaii's Department of Health] at any time, so why now?...

It's an amusing thought if an idle one that perhaps Obama did this just to stick it to Corsi, whose book reportedly hit No. 1 on Amazon after Drudge promoted it. John Kerry, the haughty, French-looking former junior senator from Massachusetts who by the way served in Vietnam, is probably smiling. After all, Corsi was co-author, with John O'Neill, of "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry."

But Kerry really was unfit for command, whereas contrary to Corsi's new book, Obama, fit or not, is legally qualified to be president. "We don't have time for such silliness," Obama said at his briefing today. Then, as John Podhoretz notes, the president "flew off to Chicago to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The NYT calls the "birther" issue "a baseless attack with heavy racial undertones."

The editors want to make sure you see the issue as racial:
[T]he birther question was never really about citizenship; it was simply a proxy for those who never accepted the president’s legitimacy, for a toxic mix of reasons involving ideology, deep political anger and, most insidious of all, race....

It is inconceivable that this campaign to portray Mr. Obama as the insidious “other” would have been conducted against a white president.
Inconceivable? Really?
There was a price to the party for keeping the issue alive; inevitably, it was picked up by a cartoon candidate, Donald Trump, who rode birtherism directly to the prime-time promontories of cable TV. The Republican establishment began to wince as it became increasingly tied to Mr. Trump’s flirtations with racial provocation, and Karl Rove told him to knock it off.
Oh! The evil Karl Rove is back... seemingly as a measure of how much more evil the birthers are.

"... Obama's political handlers decided to cauterize The Donald sideshow with a nifty piece of political choreography..."

"...releasing the 'long-form' birth certificate the very day Trump was wooing voters in New Hampshire."

Says The Daily News, crediting Obama with brilliant timing. Given the pro-Obama slant to the article, the poll in the sidebar over there has 74% of poll-takers saying the "birther" controversy is not over. Screen cap, just now:

April 27, 2011

At the Sunset Café...


... you can keep your spirits up.

"Certainly my defense of flogging is more thought experiment than policy proposal."

"I do not expect to see flogging reinstated any time soon. And deep down, I wouldn't want to see it. And yet, in the course of writing what is, at its core, a quaintly retro abolish-prison book, I've come to see the benefits of wrapping a liberal argument in a conservative facade. If the notion of tying people to a rack and caning them on their behinds à la Singapore disturbs you, if it takes contemplating whipping to wake you up and to see prison for what it is, so be it! The passive moral high ground has gotten us nowhere."

Says Peter Moskos, who's written a book called "In Defense of Flogging."

What liberal arguments wrapped in a conservative facade have you seen lately? Is it also sometimes efficacious to wrap a conservative argument in a liberal facade? Examples, please.

"When I kick the bucket... which can't be too long from now. I think I'm getting out just in time."

"Watching the news, everything seems to be in disorder. Everybody seems to be unhappy. We've lost the knack of living in the world with the sensation of safety.... I wonder why people still have children. I mean, why put kids in the world when the world is so insecure? This is how old people rationalize their death. You get a little crotchety with the world."

Said Maurice Sendak. (Via A&L Daily.)

What if you knew you would live for another 100 or 200 years? How would you prepare? Would you work on your survivalist skills? Would you acquire real estate in the far north?

The 20 "most useless" college degrees.

According to The Daily Beast. #1 is, ironically, journalism.

Actually, I think a lot of these degrees look damned useful, and I would scratch this post* — but the photo at #13 (Art History) is worth the clicking.

*Sounds like something a cat would do!

David Foster Wallace's marginalia-filled self-help books.

Maria Bustillos got access and reports in great detail.
That Wallace even had a copy of Bradshaw On: The Family came as a great surprise to me, as I mentioned earlier. But later I talked with my very old friend, S., who went into recovery almost exactly when Wallace did. S. explained that John Bradshaw was all the rage in AA circles at that time. (Bradshaw is the guy who popularized the idea of the "inner child" in the '90s, and he had a TV show on PBS that was hugely popular.)...

A highlighted passage in Bradshaw On: The Family:
Thought Disorders:
You are always reading about your problems, learning why you are the way you are.
You are numb
You control your emotions and feel shame when you can't
You gauge your behavior by how it looks–by the image you believe you're making.
Lots more at the linked piece, which reads a bit too much like the author's raw notes. The extensive thing ends with this, a quiz Wallace gave to students:

Bustillos offers her answer: "My only stab at a guess is that these are words that can be used to describe writing itself, though I feel like 'pulchritude' is kind of wrong, that way. I would love to hear other ideas." No way she'd win the lunch! Isn't it obvious that Wallace was offering up an inkblot to open up the writer's minds? He could then pick the person who'd be most amusing to talk to for an hour. If you just want a correct answer, it's: They're all adjectives. But who wants to eat lunch with someone who'd say that?

ADDED: As several commenters point out, "pulchritude" is a noun. I need to be more careful. At lunch, I would spill the iced tea.

"The SaVE Act implicitly assumes the guilt of students accused of sexual violence or stalking and ensures that guilt is fairly easy to establish."

Writes Wendy Kaminer in The Atlantic:
It requires schools to employ the lowest possible standard of proof -- a preponderance of evidence -- in disciplinary hearings....

Violence prevention programs mandated by the SaVE Act are almost as worrying as the mandatory disciplinary proceedings. Schools must conduct prevention and awareness programs for all new students and employees. In addition to providing relatively objective information about reporting, protective measures, and disciplinary procedures, administrators must lay down the law on highly subjective matters, like "the elements of healthy relationships" and "bystander intervention"  -- the "safe and positive options" open to someone who perceives a risk of violence or stalking.

Prevention programs must also include a "definition of consent in reference to sexual activity," a requirement reminiscent of the notorious, unself-consciously absurd sexual consent guidelines issued by the late Antioch College in the 1990s. Its detailed prescription for consensual sex included these mandates: "The person(s) who initiate(s) the sexual activity is responsible for asking for consent. The person(s) who are asked are responsible for verbally responding. Each new level of sexual activity requires consent."

Policies like these are easily mocked, but there's nothing funny about the prospect of enforcing them with little regard for due process.

"The White House released President Obama's original birth certificate Wednesday."

"The surprise release follows recent and sustained remarks by businessman Donald Trump, among others, that raised doubts as to whether the president was born in the United States."

Trump gets results. So... is there anything surprising on it to suggest why this controversy wasn't nipped in the bud?

ADDED: See it and marvel!!!

AND: So it says "Certificate of Live Birth" at the top. Is this still the "short form" and not the "long form" that the "birthers" say they want?

ALSO: This is — according to the NYT — the "long form."
“Over the last two and a half years, I have watched with bemusement,” [Obama] said in brief remarks. “I’ve been puzzled by the degree to which this thing just kept on going.”

Mr. Obama said there would be a “segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.” But he said that he was “speaking to the vast majority of the American people as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness.”
Extra points to Obama for correct use of (a form of) the frequently misused word "bemused."

AND: Let me answer my own question. I'd say, the reason Obama did not release the long-form birth certificate before is that he thought it was to his advantage to allow other people to look bad or crazy in one way or another by going on in the birtherist mode. But there was a tipping point, as Trump got traction and polls showed huge numbers of Americans entertaining doubts. So, it was all political strategy. You could criticize Obama for wasting our time by not just releasing the damned thing earlier. But he could have thought it was demeaning to have to do this, so I'm inclined to give him a pass.

"So heavy was the defense of corporate expression in the opening stages of the argument in Sorrell v. IMS Health... that the lawyer for Vermont... obviously had to continue her argument under siege."

"Only later did it seem that some of the Justices wanted to provide some leeway for states to regulate data-mining that threatened to invade privacy, perhaps by crafting a less far-reaching final decision...."

"Without Colonel Qaddafi, she predicted, illegal immigrants from Africa would pour into Europe..."

"... Islamic radicals would establish a base on the Mediterranean’s shores, and Libyan tribes would turn their guns on one another."

She = Qaddafi's daughter, Aisha el-Qaddafi, who did an interview with the NYT.

She presents this critique of democracy:
In an election where one candidate won with 50 percent of the vote and another lost with 48 percent, she asked, “Do you call this democracy? Just this one vote? What happened to the 48 percent who said ‘no’?”

If you want to live alone in Manhattan, go super-small — if you can.

Here's how one woman lives in 90 square feet (and a block away from Central Park). It's an interesting space. I could see living (and, as she does, working) in that space, but I wouldn't choose to arrange it like that.

Have you ever seen this book: "Tokyo: A Certain Style"? It shows people living in even smaller spaces, with lots of good ideas about how to do it. It's fascinating to see how different people edit their possession to live in a tight space. Do you accept clutter or do you organize the hell out of it? Do you cut back on things to reclaim more empty space? What little luxuries and decorative items get in?

"President Barack Obama will name CIA Director Leon Panetta as his nominee to succeed Robert Gates as defense secretary..."

"... Obama is considering Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, as the next possible CIA director."

April 26, 2011

Republicans Rush Limbaugh wants to see run in 2012: Allen West, Bobby Jindal, and Marco Rubio.

Blatant racial politics from the right, right?

5 reasons why Republicans don't want to run in 2012

According to the NYT blog The Caucus:
1. Biden.
The idea is that Biden's too old to run in 2016, and that will make 2016 an easier year.
2. The economy.
It might improve.
3. Money. Mr. Obama is expected in some quarters to raise $1 billion for his re-election campaign, and he has no serious primary opposition, which means he will be free to aim that firepower at his Republican adversaries....

4. The Tea Party. The emergence of the Tea Party movement as a force inside the Republican Party requires potential presidential candidates to pick sides in an intraparty philosophical struggle....

5. The media glare. Candidates for president have always had to contend with scrutiny from the press. But the intense, Internet-driven political environment in 2011, when everyone has a camera phone and every offhand comment can be recorded, is enough to scare away even the most hearty of politicians....

"New deal for bike-sharing program would cost city $1 per year."

Score 1 for Soglin.

(I complained about the original deal, back here.)

"The Wisconsin State Legislature is considering a new proposal that would increase the difficulty of college students to register to vote..."

"... by requiring them to present identification with an up-to-date address on it. The plan, which according to Republicans would curb voter fraud, has been raising eyebrows of young people all across the state. By voiding student IDs and other proofs of residence as a legitimate source of identification, the potential law would require constituents to obtain IDs through the local DMV. Not only would this law be costly for students, but it would need to be a yearly commitment. Students are a mobile group, as they continuously look for more reliable and economic places of living, a change on their ID cards would need to accompany the already-burdensome process of moving. A reliable Democratic vote, the student voting bloc would be reduced to those willing to change their ID cards repeatedly."

The Badger Herald reports.

Phoebe Snow...


$30 million in wealth, created in 3 months, with one iPhone app.

IntoNow lets people show each other what TV shows they're watching. The app reads the audio waves and knows what you're watching.

"Aflac Duck gets a Minnesota accent."

Daniel McKeague won the competition to replace Gilbert Gottfried (who got the boot for tweeting/quacking tsunami jokes).

(Listen here.)

"If Mitch Daniels is going to run, he is the greatest beneficiary of Haley not running."

"If Mitch Daniels doesn’t run, it will get sprinkled across the entire campaign field."

Why King & Spalding backed out of the DOMA case.

TPM reports:
Sources with knowledge of the backlash confirm that one of King & Spalding's top clients, Coca Cola, also based in Atlanta, directly intervened to press the firm to extricate itself from the case....

Other King & Spalding clients likewise conveyed to the firm that its decision to take the DOMA case could cause them problems, both internally and with customers...

King & Spalding also faced escalating protests from gay rights groups. The LGBT community in Atlanta has significant political influence, and the firm quickly became a target for major gay rights organizations including the Human Rights Campaign and the group Georgia Equality -- the largest gay rights advocate in the state. The groups planned an aggressive ad campaign, direct communication with the firm's clients, and a diminution of its Corporate Equality Index ranking -- the metric HRC uses to track corporate support for gay rights....

Complicating matters for King & Spalding, the firm's contract with the House of Representatives contained a curious provision that seemingly barred firm employees -- even those not involved with the case -- from advocating for gay equality in their private capacities outside the firm, so long as the firm was defending DOMA. Employees, the contract stated, "will not engage in lobbying or advocacy for or against any legislation [to] alter or amend in any way the Defense of Marriage Act."

According to the National Law Journal, "Gay-rights lawyers interpret that to be a gag order for firm employees." That includes one employee, Atlanta associate Brian Basinger, who is president of the Stonewall Bar Association of Georgia, a group that pushes for gay rights.

A book about what's annoying is entertaining... to people I find annoying.

Here's a NYT review of a book called "Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us."  The review is actually annoying me, maybe because the reviewer couldn't find entertaining enough tidbits (and consequently it's much less bloggable than I'd predicted). Now, the reviewer does assert that the book is "immensely entertaining," and I note that it's written by Joe Palca, a science correspondent for National Public Radio, and Flora Lichtman, an editor for the network’s “Science Friday” program, and so I'm thinking it's "immensely entertaining" the way NPR is immensely entertaining... to people I find annoying.

Here's the most annoying sentence in the review:
And so when you begin to kick my chair, I could try to pretend that I am Japanese, for it seems that the Asian ideal of subjugation of the self to the group makes for less annoyance with one’s neighbor.

Here's an old post of mine "Will you quit annoying me?" It contains the ultimate film clip about annoyingness.

The ravages of Title IX.

Read this NYT article, which has a perspective — more should be done for women — but reveals much about "roster management" that should spark a discussion from many perspectives. Excerpt:
[A]s women have grown to 57 percent of American colleges’ enrollment, athletic programs have increasingly struggled to field a proportional number of female athletes. And instead of pouring money into new women’s teams or trimming the rosters of prized football teams, many colleges are turning to a sleight of hand known as roster management.... [M]any are padding women’s team rosters with underqualified, even unwitting, athletes. They are counting male practice players as women. And they are trimming the rosters of men’s teams....

Shrinking budgets also spur universities to use these tactics, said Jake Crouthamel, a former Syracuse athletic director. “It’s easier to add more people on a roster than it is to start a new sport,” he said.

Yet football, the pride of many universities and a draw for alumni, rarely faces cuts. The average Division I football team went from 95 players 30 years ago to 111 players in 2009-10.

“Football is the elephant in the whole thing,” Mr. Crouthamel said. “That’s the monster.”
So more and more women go to college, and that results in more pressure to limit men's sports and the immensely important activity of watching the men play sports. Isn't that a terrible downward spiral?
After South Florida added more than 100 football players... Lamar Daniel, a gender-equity consultant, ...  recommended adding a women’s swimming team and warned that trying to comply with the proportionality option would be difficult because South Florida’s female participation numbers were too low.

But university officials tried anyway. A primary strategy was to expand the women’s running teams. Female runners can be a bonanza because a single athlete can be counted up to three times, as a member of the cross-country and the indoor and outdoor track teams.

In 2002, 21 South Florida women competed in cross-country. By 2008, the number had grown to 75 — more than quadruple the size of an average Division I cross-country team....
What an embarrassing farce!

April 25, 2011

At the Bird's Nest Nightclub...


... things are not necessarily what they seem.


"This spring, Obama officials often expressed impatience with questions about theory or about the elusive quest for an Obama doctrine...."

"... Obama has emphasized bureaucratic efficiency over ideology, and approached foreign policy as if it were case law, deciding his response to every threat or crisis on its own merits. 'When you start applying blanket policies on the complexities of the current world situation, you’re going to get yourself into trouble,' he said...."

Writes Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker.

But even for case law, you need doctrine!

"Parents can rid campuses of communists..."

"... who cloak themselves in 'academic freedom.'"

"It hurts when I know how much authenticity and how much genuine blood is in my spirit."

Lady Gaga goes on a crying jag. Not for herself but for... everyone.

At the Trout Lily Café...


... look hard and find something new.

Haley Barbour will not run.

"For months, Mr. Barbour has been traveling to the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, testing his support among Republican activists. He was widely expected to enter the race this week, particularly among contributors and the party establishment, but he said that he was unsure about the long-term commitment."

I see I haven't made a tag for him yet. I've been restricting myself in the creation of new tags for this blog, especially on the names of individuals. I guess I had a premonition about this one.

I hope this gives new pull to the state governors left among the possible candidates for the GOP nomination.

The Guantanamo suicides: acts of asymmetric warfare or expressions of despair?

The NYT examines the divergent characterizations.

Do I even have to say it?

I'm reading this NYRB essay by Lorrie Moore and I get to this passage:
Barbara dies at fifty-five—the halfway point of the book. Meghan O’Rourke has up until now proceeded with the vitality of a first-rate dramatist and her mother is a character well suited to it, equipped with an irrepressible spirit and a Christmas Day death, on a bed in the middle of the living room (so that death will be less “bureaucratic and fluorescent”), breaking the heart of everyone.
You know, what I'm going to say now, don't you? It's not about death or Christmas or writing style.

Former Solicitor General Paul Clement quits King & Spalding over his defending the Defense of Marriage Act.

He writes:
"I resign out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do... I recognized from the outset that this statute implicates very sensitive issues that prompt strong views on both sides. But having undertaken the representation, I believe there is no honorable course for me but to complete it."
Politico's Ben Smith reported the firm's withdrawal from the case as "a real victory for supporters of same-sex marriage -- and marking what seems like real marginalization for its foes." It quoted the chairman of the firm, Robert D. Hays, Jr., saying: "In reviewing this assignment further, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate." I'd love to hear the gory details.

Anyway, we talked about Clement's role last week, here. I said:
I would like to see the Defense of Marriage Act go, and I encouraged the Obama administration to decline to defend it, but I don't think it's "indefensible," and in fact, it deserves to be defended, and the House Republicans did the right thing in hiring Clement. The country deserves a well-briefed, well-argued case presented to the Supreme Court. The other side is already represented by Theodore Olson, another former Solicitor General. I hope Olson wins, but not because he's the better lawyer. It is absolutely fitting that he be matched with a lawyer of equal stature, skill, and will to prevail.

"Court refuses Virginia’s plea for fast-track review of the constitutional challenge to the new health care law."

SCOTUSblog reports:
The Court’s denial of review in Virginia v. Sebelius (10-1014) was entirely expected. The Justices have the authority to take a case for review before any federal appeals court rules, but they seldom do so. But another factor that may have figured in Monday’s action was that it is late in the current Term so the case could only be reviewed promptly by setting up an unusually fast briefing and argument schedule, and, if that were not done, the case would go over to the new Term starting in October, anyway. One or more of the cases now under review in the federal appeals courts is expected to reach the Court in the new Term. It is widely assumed that, when that happens, the Court will step in.

"How law schools completely misrepresent their job numbers."

Lawprof Paul Campos in The New Republic:
Until little more than a month ago, almost all 198 ABA-accredited law schools were reporting nine-month employment rates of more than 90 percent, and it was a rare top 100 school that had a rate of less than 95 percent. 
It's a key number in the U.S. News ranking of law school, which puts the schools in a desperate struggle against each other, and there's so much lying that the price of honesty may be a big drop in rank.
But last month, in the wake of criticisms that these figures were literally incredible, USNWR revised its employment statistics in an effort to combat some of the legerdemain law schools engaged in, such as excluding from their calculations graduates who described themselves as unemployed but not seeking work. 
Amusingly, that's the way the government keeps unemployment statistics down and mostly gets away with it. What's the unemployment percentage if you throw the people who have given up back in?

Despite the U.S. News fix, there's still plenty of inaccuracy.
How many of the graduates who report doing full-time legal work have permanent jobs—in the employment law sense of permanent—as opposed to doing temp work, such as being paid $20 an hour to proofread financial documents in a warehouse, or $12 an hour to do slightly glorified secretarial tasks?
What percentage of graduates have jobs that you would go to law school if you knew in advance that was the job you'd get? That's the relevant question.

Campos looked at "employment data drawn from 183 individual [National Association for Law Placement] forms, in which graduates of one top 50 school self-reported their employment status nine months after graduation," and found that "fully one-third of those graduates who report they are working in full-time jobs that require a law degree are in temporary, rather than permanent, positions." (Go to the link if you want to know how he dealt with judicial clerkships, which are temporary, but usually excellent jobs.) Counting temporary and permanent jobs, only 45% had "real legal jobs." Drop below the "top 50," and the percentages are almost certainly worse.

"If the male brain is like a single toggle switch, then the female brain is 'the cockpit of an F-1 fighter jet.'"

Typical sex nonsense, this time coming from neuroscientists who used the internet as their raw material to be analyzed.

Here's the book they generated: "A Billion Wicked Thoughts." I love the way they seem to have intentionally chosen a title that reminds us of "A Million Little Pieces," the famously fake memoir.

"A Million Little Pieces" is #8 on the list of "Top 10 Infamous Fake Memoirs."

At least 476 "political prisoners" escaped — through a long tunnel — from prison in Kandahar...

The NYT reports
In a deft propaganda ploy, the Taliban gave a gripping description of the prison break in a statement they sent out to the news media ahead of any comment from the security authorities who were just in the process of discovering the tunnel.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said in the statement: “We have planned and worked on this for five months, and the tunnel is 360 meters long”...

“Our mujahedeen worked in a very careful way” so as not to be discovered, Mr. Mujahid said. The tunnel wound under security check posts outside the prison and under a main highway.

At 11 p.m. Sunday, three Taliban prisoners, who he said were the only ones who knew, “Went from cell to cell waking people and guiding each of them to the tunnel. More Taliban were on hand as the prisoners emerged from the dirt and dust of the tunnel to guide the dazed prisoners to waiting vehicles. Also on hand were Taliban fighters and suicide bombers in case the security forces woke up and there was a fight.

“Luckily we did not have to use them,” Mr. Mujahid said. “The security forces did not know until sunrise.”
"Gripping description" indeed. Doesn't it make any rational person suspect that the security forces were in on it?

"TrendingRight: an automated news service that monitors social networks for the most popular conservative news."

According to the press release: "Trending Right shows the most linked conservative stories on Twitter for EACH HOUR. So, if you want to know what’s hot on the Right, RIGHT NOW, then you read Trending Right."

How does it know which stories are conservative? Trending at #21 at the moment is: "Christ the Lord is risen today." By Michelle Malkin.

So... we'll see how this works. I'm always looking for ways to get to things I want to blog about. I love Memeorandum (which "auto-generates a news summary every 5 minutes, drawing on experts and pundits, insiders and outsiders, media professionals and amateur bloggers"). It works in a sophisticated way to produce an array of links. How well is Trending Right programmed?

April 24, 2011

"A trove of more than 700 classified military documents provides new and detailed accounts of the men who have done time at the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba..."

The NYT gained access through WikiLeaks.

ADDED: Here's the WaPo article on the documents — "intelligence assessments of nearly every one of the 779 individuals who have been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002. In them, analysts have created detailed portraits of detainees based on raw intelligence, including material gleaned from interrogations."

We tried to figure out what that hawk was eating.

There are close-up frames in the video in the previous post. Commenters had ideas:
Rick Lee said...
Mmmmm... bunny.

Bruce said...
The kids are gonna be pissed off when they don't get any candy or Easter eggs this year.

galdosiana said...
It's hard to tell, but it looks kind of like a weasel. Were you guys able to figure it out?

Jason (the commenter) said...
"Why can't I just eat my otter?"

Irene said...
Squirrel is a nice, sweet meat.

Big Mike said...
If neighborhood kids come around putting up posters about a missing kitty, I maybe know what happened to it.
No, it wasn't a kitty or a bunny. It wasn't a squirrel either. Weasel and otter were our 2 best guesses. I was leaning toward otter because of the black-tipped tail. Quaestor — another commenter — said groundhog, but it's just not the right shape.

So we gave up and went out to bike the Capitol City Trail. Oddly enough, we spotted the same animal by the side of the bike path. Like the creature in the video, it's dead, but its fur and skin were intact. Help us identify it. Photos after the jump:

The red tail hawk would like to dine alone.

It's evening in the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, and the daffodils are in bloom. But there's a hawk, and what's he got there?

A confrontation between man and bird:

Photographed by Meade, edited by me.

"I believe that with sufficient and efficient, sufficient and efficient use of airpower, we can bring Gadhafi to his knees. "

"It's ideal terrain and situation for doing so.  Have no doubt, though, that he and his forces are adapting to this situation by hiding in houses and doing various things that prevent the airpower from being so effective.  But I'll tell you, when you're flying around at 25,000 feet, it's pretty hide--it's pretty easy to hide from them.  But we need to recognize the government as a legitimate voice of the Libyan people so they can have access to the funds that we have frozen of Gadhafi's.  We need to help them with communications, we need to help them with humanitarian assistance.  We need to--my view, would be very helpful if we took out Gadhafi's television because when the Libyan people see Gadhafi on television it scares them.  This guy is, you know, in the--by the courthouse in Benghazi, there are pictures of the 1,200 people that he had massacred in one day in a prison.  And so we need to, we need to be more helpful, but troops on the ground is out of the question."

John McCain, in full babble mode, on "Meet the Press" this morning. I'm only reading the transcript. I didn't watch it on the television, which I don't find very helpful, because when I see  John McCain on television, it scares me. Maybe you can explain what he's saying. Libya has "ideal terrain and situation" for doing what we need to do from 25,000 feet in the air. No boots on the ground ever ever ever. But because we're only in the air it's easy for them to hide from us, despite the "ideal terrain and situation." But surely if we're sufficient and efficient — such a cute phrase, he said it twice — we'll somehow get rid of Gadhafi and find the right people to give Gadhafi's frozen money to, because people are dying there, and we need to help them. But we can't go anywhere near them, so here, catch, it's $30 billion. Thrown from a plane! Hope the right people catch it!

David Gregory asks whether airpower alone is enough, and McCain says:
I think you can do it with airpower and sufficiently trained and equipped liberation forces.  Look, these people hate Gadhafi.  That's why I think there's still hope and a chance he may crumble from within.  But the longer we delay, the more likely it is there's a stalemate.  And if you're worried about al-Qaeda entering into this fight, nothing would bring al-Qaeda in more rapidly and more dangerously than a stalemate.
So they're already there, in all likelihood.  As long as we're talking about things one can still hope for, I hope al Qaeda doesn't get the $30 billion.

"Unclog your mind. Unclog your room."

"Arrange your room in a way you wish your mind would be."

"Y'know who'd make an awesome Easter flick about Christ's Resurrection? George Romero."

Kevin Smith dabbles in the obviousness/blasphemy that is Twitter's #HesComingToRedeemYouBarbara.

"Through... cellphone research projects, scientists are able to pinpoint 'influencers,' the people most likely to make others change their minds."

"The data can predict with uncanny accuracy where people are likely to be at any given time in the future...."
[A]t MIT, scientists who tracked student cellphones during the latest presidential election were able to deduce that two people were talking about politics, even though the researchers didn't know the content of the conversation. By analyzing changes in movement and communication patterns, researchers could also detect flu symptoms before the students themselves realized they were getting sick.

"Well, if we did do it in Betty Ford then I don’t remember."

Larry Fortensky remembers.
He tells of long rides on the Harley along California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway. ‘She would wear a helmet and no one knew who she was. We could be alone and free.’

They would stop for burgers in greasy biker bars. ‘People would pretend not to know who she was. Elizabeth loved that. She loved a burger and a beer....

‘We travelled the world. We had a dinner in Japan which cost $30,000 (around £20,000 then). The beef had been hand-massaged or something. It was a real good steak but at thirty grand it should have been.’
Burgers, steak... it's all good.

In the Easter Chapel...


... you can celebrate anything.