September 3, 2011

At the Thai Garden Café...

... you can chat about anything.

How did Chevrolet manage to make such an effective commercial?

We use a DVR to scroll through the commercials, and this one was effective even when sped through. It also made us go back to watch it, and then rewind and watch it again. We both nearly cried both times!

Now, I see that this was an entry in a "short film" contest that Chevrolet ran. More here.

Just think how many of those got crushed during cash For Clunkers - that was sick.

"9/11 anniversary programming: Is there too much of it?"

Ken Tucker scolds you for asking:
The argument against the volume of 9/11 programming, which has cropped up on various blogs and in newspapers such as The New York Post, has been articulated most reasonably by Brian Lowry in Variety. In a piece titled “Cacophony of voices dull anniversary,” Lowry writes, “So many networks have scheduled specials, movies, even entire themed weeks centered on Sept. 11 that they risk trivializing the event, making it equivalent to... Halloween or Christmas episodes… networks with no logical connection to the story have piled on, defensively or opportunistically. Either way, it’s unnecessary.” Lowry concludes: “TV’s immersive approach to marking the anniversary unwittingly seems more reminiscent of another tower — the biblical one in Babel.”...

Too much? You mean, as opposed to airing Big Brother three times a week? Or the hours and hours of Bravo’s various Real Housewives franchises also coming this same week? It’s “too much,” too numbing, to replay footage of the planes going into the World Trade Center towers, but it’s not too much to air two hours of Bachelor Pad and two hours of America’s Got Talent, which combine to form four hours of entertainment that are numbing in a different way, not emotionally but intellectually numbing?
So... if you're going to be numbed, get numbed the lofty way? I think it's fine to preempt the usual junk on TV, but the problem is trying to make something profound and, as so often happens, making junk anyway. That is the definition of profanity.

And one other thing: After 10 years of remembering what happened on the day we sustained a great loss in a war, have we ever — as a nation — celebrated a victory? I remember when President Bush tried to do that. And he was crushed by criticism so harsh that it has served as a warning: never ever savor a victory. Now, it's: "we don't... spike the football... that's not who we are."

And who are we?  Is our preferred self-image the collapsed towers?

10 Principles of Modern Design...

... from Dieter Rams (who was chief of design for Braun — the German manufacturer — from 1961 to 1995).

Oddly, I came away feeling that the 10 principles were all the same, and if that principle was simple functionality, the make that one thing into 10 is a violation of the principle itself. But then Rams wasn't purporting to dictate the principles of website content, so there really is no paradox.

"If Biker Guy shares your orientation, there are two things that you can most impress him with..."

"... your glutes and your quads."

Meade gives advice to Banana Seat Betty.

"Don't You Fret."

Hey! I feel like I made this video...

But it's from jenzeppelin, who says: "Don't You Fret" is "a beautiful song, often overlooked." I wasn't overlooking it. I was scanning the songs in my computer picking out a Kinks song I was in the mood to hear, and that was the song I picked. And the driving-around-the-city-to-music video is just the sort of thing I'd been doing.

"Don't You Fret" was originally on the album "Kinkdom." I have the CD set "Remastered," but if you want a CD available these days, I recommend "Well Respected Kinks." 10 songs, all richly playable after — gasp! — almost half a century.

And here's jenzeppelin's channel. She's got a driving-around-video for "I Am Free" and a bunch of other Kinks songs. She specializes in The Kinks and... who would go with The Kinks if you had exactly one other musical passion?

Django Reinhardt!

"Tripoli Zoo: Libyan Lions Left Behind."

A HuffPo headline suggests the notion of a Rapture for animals.

If there were a Rapture for animals, which animals would be left behind? I'd say hummingbirds and butterflies. They are jerks.

And, sorry, I don't mean to seem unsympathetic to the zoo animals who are suffering in Libya. Who thinks of the zoo animals when there is a war? Here's a book: "The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo."

And a truly cool novel about zoo animals at the mercy of a human-made disaster is "Life of Pi." It's not a war, but a ship wreck after a zoo in India is dismantled and some of the animals are packed on board en route to Canadian.

"Bush was flayed for Enron. Where does that put Obama and his green-energy pet?"

Rich Lowry on Solyndra.

Via Hot Air.
The White House insists it didn’t intervene with DOE on Solyndra’s behalf, but — go figure — the company’s key investor was a foundation headed by George Kaiser, a billionaire known for raising boatloads of money for Barack Obama.
Via Instapundit.

"Dark brown and shiny worm-like pieces of batter, soft to the touch, piled in a biodegradable cup."

"It comes topped with cola syrup, more icing sugar, whipped cream, and two cherries."

Fried Coke!

What are you deep frying these days?

Sarah says: "I think there’s room for more, though, because..."

"... spirited debate and more competition will allow an even better discourse and more rigorous discourse that the public deserves."

Rigorous, spirited discourse. I love it.

When America thinks of rigorous, spirited discourse, it thinks of...
Sarah Palin!
The current field of Republicans plus Sarah Palin.
The current field of Republicans.
Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, head to head.
Thaddeus McCotter! free polls 

"Tripoli Files Show CIA Working With Libya."

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Central Intelligence Agency and Libyan intelligence services developed such a tight relationship during the George W. Bush administration that the U.S. shipped terror suspects to Libya for interrogation and suggested the questions they should be asked, according to documents found in Libya's External Security agency headquarters...

The files provide an extraordinary window into the highly secretive and controversial practice of rendition, whereby the agency would send detainees to other countries for interrogation, including ones known for harsh treatment of detainees. The program was ramped up for terror detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks.

When taking over the CIA at the outset of the Obama administration, then-director Leon Panetta said the agency would continue to use rendition, but would seek assurances that the detainee wouldn't be tortured—which has been the standing U.S. policy...

September 2, 2011

At the Purple Café...

... curl up.

The anguish of coffee.

ADDED: Oh, [expletive deleted] I meant to put up the non-remix:

It's like... do you want caffeinated or decaffeinated.

BONUS: A poll:

Are these old commercials sexist?
Yes. That's what we were taught in school.
Yes. That's why they're so hilarious.
Yes. And wipe that smirk off your face.
No. It's a comic exaggeration that everyone at the time got.
No. "Sexist" is just a word that's supposed to make us feel sensitive about meaningless crap.
No. It's a simple truth that women have trouble making decent coffee. free polls 

An Isthmus writer finds it "startling" to see an attack ad against Tommy Thompson so long before the primaries for the Herb Kohl Senate seat.

Here's the ad:

Judith Davidoff writes:
[T]he ultraconservative Club for Growth... has made it a habit in recent years to oppose moderate Republicans.... [but] Thompson has not officially entered the race and the Republican primary is still a year away.

"I think it is pretty remarkable," says Barry Burden, a political science professor at UW-Madison. "It tells me something is at stake here. Conservatives in the party are really concerned about Tommy winning the election. They are trying to head off his really owning the nomination at this point, and I think that's why they're in so early."
I remember back in 2010, when people thought Thompson would challenge Russ Feingold. I video-recorded the speech he made to the Tea Party crowd, when he said he would not. He said "I told my family... that it's time for new voices and new faces." He declined the hard work of unseating the longtime incumbent, and Ron Johnson stepped up to that task. Now, it's a year later and nobody's gotten any younger, yet Thompson sees himself as the man for the Senate. What happened to the need for "new voices and new faces"? Why are old faces good? Because now it's a shot at a vacant seat?

The 2012 GOP primaries are about defining conservatism, and the Club for Growth ad has its idea of what the conservative message should be, and it's not Tommy Thompson. Let Thompson present a crisp version of his definition.

On the other side of the equation, the Democrats have to define liberalism, and if Isthmus is genuinely worried about candidates swinging too far to the extreme and losing the moderate voters in our passionately purple state, they ought to handwring about Tammy Baldwin. (But they won't.)

Who's this baby?

When I was born my granddad wanted to send a telegram to the president. Both sides of my family were staunch New Deal Democrats, and Granddad was sure that FDR would want to know about the “little stranger” with whom he now had a birthday in common.
After you've answered, click here.

ADDED: Page 29:
I traveled from job to job with one large suitcase, driving a 1949 Chevy for a while. When it had to be junked, I hitched a ride or caught a bus until I managed to buy a ’58 Ford. Living accommodations were never fancy, usually a room in an old hotel or roadside motel....

After work, the guys on the crew would spend considerable time in one of the local bars, ideally a place that would cash our checks or carry a tab until we made our first payday. We consumed vast quantities of beer. If something stronger was called for, we’d drink shots of bourbon with beer chasers—a combination that helps explain how I managed to get arrested twice within a year for driving while under the influence....

And I was sleeping off a hangover in the Rock Springs jail. It had taken a lot to drive the message home, but I realized the morning I woke up in that jail that if I didn’t fundamentally change my ways, I was going to come to a bad end.

"ATVs and (off-road) motorcycles have a pretty bad name in terms of the relationship with environmentalists and things like that."

"They don't really care for ATVers ... but it seems like they're the only ones really saving anybody right now."

Watch Obama's press secretary Jay Carney change the question into the one he's willing to answer.

Can we get the answer to the question asked?

"Large numbers of Parisians could not see the point of placing an enormous functionless derrick in the middle of the city."

Writes Bill Bryson, in "At Home: A Short History of Private Life":
The Eiffel Tower wasn’t just the largest thing that anyone had ever proposed to build, it was the largest completely useless thing. It wasn’t a palace or burial chamber or place of worship. It didn’t even commemorate a fallen hero. Eiffel gamely insisted that his tower would have many practical applications—that it would make a terrific military lookout and that one could do useful aeronautical and meteorological experiments from its upper reaches—but eventually even he admitted that mostly he wished to build it simply for the slightly strange pleasure of making something really quite enormous. Many people loathed it, especially artists and intellectuals. A group of notables that included Alexandre Dumas, Émile Zola, Paul Verlaine, and Guy de Maupassant submitted a long, rather overexcited letter protesting at “the deflowering of Paris” and arguing that “when foreigners come to see our exhibition they will cry out in astonishment, ‘What! This is the atrocity which the French have created to give us an idea of their boasted taste!’ ” The Eiffel Tower, they continued, was “the grotesque, mercenary invention of a machine builder.” Eiffel accepted the insults with cheerful equanimity and merely pointed out that one of the outraged signatories of the petition, the architect Charles Garnier, was in fact a member of the commission that had approved the tower in the first place.
Do large useless things bother you?

ADDED: If you're wondering what got me to post about the Eiffel Tower, it was this.

"Now that is the way you open the college football season against a game but overmatched opponent."

A 51-17 victory for the Badgers.

Do you remember Obama and Honduras?

It was back in July 2009:
As military "coups" go, the one this weekend in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic. The military didn't oust President Manuel Zelaya on its own but instead followed an order of the Supreme Court. It also quickly turned power over to the president of the Honduran Congress, a man from the same party as Mr. Zelaya. The legislature and legal authorities all remain intact.

We mention these not so small details because they are being overlooked as the world, including the U.S. President, denounces tiny Honduras in a way that it never has, say, Iran. President Obama is joining the U.N., Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and other model democrats in demanding that Mr. Zelaya be allowed to return from exile and restored to power. Maybe it's time to sort the real from the phony Latin American democrats.
Please compare Obama 2009 to this year's Obama, reacting to events in Arab countries.

"Working in the Coal Mine."

At Meadhouse this morning, we're talking about the song "Working In The Coal Mine," not because of the abysmal jobs situation these days, but because... well, because there was a little too much milk in my coffee. (This stream of consciousness has nothing to do with the suffering of unemployment and working in coal mines, so please forgive me.)

Meade decided to make me a double-shot, and I — helpful in my usual abstracted way — started playing "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" (by the Swingin' Medallions) — a song about a woman who "loved [her man] so hard" that he woke up with... "the worst hangover [he] ever had."

That got me talking about the frat rock cassette recording that I bought when my kids were very young. It had "Double Shot" along with stuff like "Hang On Sloopy" and "Louie Louie." It was one of a series of tapes that I bought to play in the car after I realized that rock and roll oldies were good children's music. (Well, not "Double Shot.") I first had this realization back in the 1980s when, for some reason — maybe a toddler said "ya ya" — I started singing "Sitting in Ya Ya Waiting for my La La." Baby talk!

"Who sang that?" I ask, playing it on YouTube. Meade says "Sam Cooke." No! It's Lee Dorsey! Do you know any other Lee Dorsey songs? There's only one other that you might remember. It's this. "Working in the Coal Mine." (Not to be confused with this Sam Cooke song, which is, frankly, much better... as a recording. I will not compare the degree of workplace suffering described in the 2 songs.)

But check out these 2 other recordings of "Working in the Coal Mine" — this and this. I can't picture any of those people actually working in a coal mine, but in a pinch, if I had to say, I'd pick The Judds.

Have you had enough coffee this morning? I have.

ADDED: "Get your ya-yas out." Remember when Barack Obama said it? Back in June 2008, when he was thanking his campaign workers for "submerging their egos." The "Ya-yas" remark comes at 10:45. But start here:

Based on that part — before the "ya-yas," I think he didn't expect to win in Iowa. "If I'd lost Iowa, it would have been okay." But: "Because we won, we now have no choice." It seems as though he'd intended to make his mark, then reemerge in 2012 or 2016 as the frontrunner. But he won. It came too soon. Yet he had to plunge forward. It was all a crazy miscalculation. He just didn't expect to be that loved in Iowa.

And now, it's 2011, primary time once again, and our nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Iowa, ya ya ya.

0 and O — Zero and Obama — visual harmony, at least, as the new job numbers for August are announced.

"The U.S. says the economy added no jobs in August, the worst number since September 2010. The jobless rate was unchanged at 9.1%."

Email alert from CNN. Here's the article:
"We expected a weak report, and what we got was even weaker," said Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at J.H. Cohn.

The report was partially distorted by 22,000 state workers in Minnesota returning to work after a temporary government shutdown in July, as well as 45,000 Verizon workers on strike in August.

Those effects made it hard to compare the August jobs number to the 85,000 jobs gained in July.

Still though, the overall figure is considered dismal in comparison to job gains of about 200,000-a-month earlier this year.

"When our attention is drawn to the Verizon strike and the Minnesota situation, it's akin to saying that a skunk had bad breath, and then it took a dinner mint. That doesn't suddenly change the fact that it's still a skunk and it still stinks," O'Keefe said.
Ah, but wait. The President is about to give a speech about to a Joint Session of Congress. Perhaps he has an idea for a better and stronger after-dinner mint for the skunk!

September 1, 2011

At the Lotus Café...

... you can talk about anything you want (including the Badger game).

Don't cry for me Qaddafi/Obama...

Look at what Drudge has going on right now.

First you've got the 2 leaders — Qaddafi and Obama — both frowning.

Qaddafi says "No surrender!" And Obama says — Drudge is paraphrasing — "OK, let's do it before the game." That is, he's surrendering to pressure and doing his speech before the Packers/Saints game.

Next, we get a symphony of hands: the painting behind Berlusconi (who's got a good rhyme for Italy — in English, anyway), Madonna (whose movie about the wife of a former king of England is apparently shitty), Hillary (who's happy in Paris), Margaret Thatcher (presumably in England), Venus Williams (like Thatcher, she's ill), and Cher (gripping the shoulder of her soon-to-be-dancing, former-daughter Chaz):

Now let's interpret this symphony. One clue is the link under Madonna, after the reference to "Death in Venice": "BOOK SHOCK: Evita 'kept Nazi treasure taken from Jews'...." Of course, Madonna played Evita in the movie "Evita," and if there's one thing we think about when we think about the musical "Evita," it's the hands in the air gesture that goes with the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."

Evita, of course, was the wife of President, and, of course, so was Hillary. Now, clearly, Drudge is picturing Hillary that way for a reason.

The hands make a graceful composition, guiding our eyes from left to right. The woman in the painting appears to hold a glowing globe in her hand. Madonna, her hand in a similar upcurved position, blows the kiss that symbolically had been place on her fingertips, and Hillary opens her arms to receive, receive, receive.

A step down, we see the elderly, elegant Thatcher reaching out, palm toward us, grasping nothing, and perhaps there is nothing left in her head as she drifts into oblivion. She is dappled with jewelry: earrings, necklace, brooch. The missing item of jewelry is a ring, and we shift our eyes slightly to right and see a ring. It's on the hand of Venus Williams, whose fingers are curved inward, grasping not a glowing globe, but a neon-colored ball. Venus is sick! She has Sjögren's syndrome. Take one more step and it's Cher, her fingers delicately curved over the shoulder of the offspring she's fiercely defending with Tweets.

Ryan Braun: "I think I got excited, and I tried to run faster than I needed to and lost my form...."

"... I felt it coming. There's not much you can do at that point.... I've gotten a lot of trash talk today from every one of my friends who plays another sport... All of my basketball and football friends are texting me about my lack of athleticism. I take a pride in my athleticism, so I've been taking a lot of trash talk."

The video of the inside-the-park-home-run-that-wasn't is genuinely funny, and we need some laughs after the Cardinals' sweep of the Brewers. Scroll ahead to 1:00 if you're impatient.

The police-style "chalk" outlines on the field today were funny too, in the 2 spots between 3d and home where Braun fell.

"I just want regular jeans. You know, the kind that used to be the only kind.”

This is the anecdote that begins Barry Schwartz's book "The Paradox of Choice." He "spluttered" that after a Gap salesgirl asked him if he wanted "slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit, baggy, or extra baggy... stonewashed, acid-washed, or distressed... button-fly or zipper-fly?" His anguish was supposed to exemplify a big problem we have these days.
By creating all these options, the store undoubtedly had done a favor for customers with varied tastes and body types. However, by vastly expanding the range of choices, they had also created a new problem that needed to be solved. Before these options were available, a buyer like myself had to settle for an imperfect fit, but at least purchasing jeans was a five-minute affair. Now it was a complex decision in which I was forced to invest time, energy, and no small amount of self-doubt, anxiety, and dread.

Buying jeans is a trivial matter, but it suggests a much larger theme we will pursue throughout this book, which is this: When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are powerful and But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize.
Get a grip, Barry! I feel like Barry I-just-want-normal-jeans Schwartz was the guy who inspired one of my favorite songs:

That was linked to in the comments — by bagoh20 — over on the Obama and the Packers post:
When I think of Obama and sports I always am reminded of this video that Althouse showed quite a while back. I watch it ever now and then, and I don't know why.
Why you watch it... or why Obama and sports reminds you of it? You watch it because it's so infectious. And comforting. And infectiously comforting, like friendly jeans. It reminds you of Obama and sports, I think, because you've had this picture in your head for so long: "Obama Celebrates Win By Riding Bike." He was a winner, about to coast downhill, and the regrettable jeans were the first foreshadowing of a failed presidency. He was not, as we'd thought, the hero. He was the man in Randy Normal Jeans. And then there are the dance moves:

They were so cool at the time, but now? I'm seeing Randy.

"Twenty Iconic Male Movie Roles In Which Helen Mirren Would Have Ruled."

Adam points to that list, and that causes Isaac Spaceman to list "five iconic male roles in which Helen Mirren would have been terrible."

Heh. Love that, Isaac. Can I call you Isaac Personal Space Bubbleman?

"If Mitt Romney doesn't 'know' global warming is mostly caused by humans, is he 'against science'?"

John Althouse Cohen challenges Krugman... and quotes Richard Feynman, who wrote:
It is necessary and true that all of the things we say in science, all of the conclusions, are uncertain, because they are only conclusions. They are guesses as to what is going to happen, and you cannot know what will happen, because you have not made the most complete experiments....

Scientists, therefore, are used to dealing with doubt and uncertainty. All scientific knowledge is uncertain....

So what we call scientific knowledge today is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty....
John says:
If Krugman is terrified at the idea of not 'knowing,' maybe he's the one who's against science.
I was going to challenge that "maybe," but that would be unscientific.

There are way too many political speakers embarrassing themselves these days by preening about how scientific they are, when all they mean is that they defer to authority. And there are way too many scientists who step up and pose as authorities to be deferred to (and given grants to).

"If this was an attempt to make Republicans look unreasonable, then, in almost every conceivable way, it failed spectacularly."

"And scheduling the speech during the GOP debate, even if Boehner had immediately acceded, is the one way the White House could guarantee a) that fewer voters would be watching and that b) viewers and pundits would pay less attention to the speech’s content and more to the theatrics around it. In other words, it’s the easiest way to lessen the speech’s chances at success. If this is a preview of Obama’s re-election campaign, Democrats should be very worried."

WaPo's James Downie.

But wait. It occurs to me that Obama may want to divert attention from the speech's content. What do you think the content is? For a month, he's been saying the big speech is coming — he's got a plan to restore jobs. If he really had an answer to the chronic problem, why didn't he reveal it right away? He's been working on something that would sound like he's got an answer, and, in all likelihood, he knew it wouldn't go through Congress, so the point was simply to be able to say: It's Congress's fault. I had a plan, but they wouldn't pass it. But he couldn't say that unless he really had a plan that would impress people. My guess is: He didn't even have that. That's why he reverted to the theatrics, lame as they were.

We'll see. It's my hypothesis. He went for theatrics because the actual content of the speech will be an embarrassing fizzle after the big build-up. His bluff was called, so the theatrics look particularly lame, but he may even prefer our gabbing about the lameness of the failed theatrics to our scrutiny of the actual substance of the plan.

"Obama Rolls Out a Jobs Plan That Doesn't Need Congress."

According to The Atlantic:
[Yesterday], Obama took a now-familiar path in adopting a program — this time a jobs and infrastructure effort--that can happen entirely within his domain. Obama directed several federal agencies to identify "high-impact, job-creating infrastructure projects" that can be expedited now, without congressional approval.

One week before he will make a major address to Congress on jobs, Obama is making sure they know he plans to move forward without them. The president has also directed the Education Department to come up with a "Plan B" updating the 2001 No Child Left Behind law in the absence of congressional action. The message to Congress is clear: Do your work or we'll do it for you....
Do your work or we'll do it for you....  Is that the tone Obama actually wants to take?

If there's a conflict between Obama's speech and the Packer game, WTMJ wants to show the football game.

"Steve Wexler, vice president of radio and TV operations for Journal Broadcast Group, said Thursday that WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) had asked that both Obama's speech and the football game be made available to NBC affiliates across the country. That way, each station can make a decision on which event to broadcast. In the case of the Milwaukee market, Wexler said WTMJ would show the game. The president's speech would be carried on a secondary digital channel, he said."

It's an NBC game, and NBC is interacting with the White House, but here in Wisconsin, we want to watch the game.

I don't know about New Orleans, but Packer fans want the game. At least give us the choice! Does the leader have to take over all the channels? What kind of message is that, in America? Give us choice. And give us football.

You know, a football game merits watching, play by play, in real time. A speech... we can read it quickly later. Like during half time.

From a blogger's perspective, I prefer the text because I can cut and paste and do commentary. Now, that's a reason why Obama should prefer to impose the real-time experience on us. We have to wait to pull it apart. Except we don't really. We live-blog. We tweet. This urge to control, by claiming all the channels, making us sit through the whole thing... it doesn't really work anymore. It doesn't work for the people who want to jump all over the President's words and critique them, and it doesn't work for people who would prefer different entertainments. There are always other channels on cable. There's the internet. Video games. Video on Demand. You can't really commandeer our attention.

But you can mess with a football game we're excited about seeing at a particular time.

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said:
Obama is a Bears fan (purportedly).
Hey! And remember when he had the Packers to the White House — because they won the Super Bowl — and he kind of snubbed them?

More Meade:
If Obama succeeds in his Packers/Saints blackout, I propose we take direct action.

UPDATE: "White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer told The Associated Press the speech would be completed in time. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m." New controversy: What about the "pregame festivities"? "The NFL and NBC are planning a kickoff concert and other pregame activities to mark the opening of the NFL season."

Obama "will still be able to cut off some of the free media oxygen of whatever narrative emerges from the debate..."

"... by speaking to the nation the next day, which was almost certainly the goal of choosing the night of the face-off in the first place."

Cut off some of the free media oxygen? Ack! Chokehold!!

"'I cannot imagine [Justice Bradley] hitting [Justice Gableman] in anger because he called Justice Abrahamson 'Shirley' — because everybody calls her Shirley'... even the custodial staff."

So said former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, quoted in a Capital Times article called "Justices dispute Gableman account of second altercation involving Bradley."

Is that so? Everyone calls her "Shirley" — not "Chief"? Even the custodians?

ADDED: But I do not want to impugn Geske's credibility. She said it. I presume it's true. Court personnel of all kinds: Have no qualms about calling the Chief Justice "Shirley." Like you always do.

 UPDATE: Justice Michael Gableman issues a statement relating to the date of the alleged hitting:
During my interview with the officers, I was uncertain as to whether Justice Bradley struck me on September 18, 2008, or September 18, 2009. I knew it was September 18 because that happens to be my birthday. Court records indicate that the seven Justices did, in fact, meet in closed conference on September 18, 2009. In any event, the incident happened exactly as I related it to the officers and as it was set forth in the report. While Justice Bradley might not be able to recall it, I certainly do. 
Does anyone else who was there remember it? 

August 31, 2011

Obama tries to schedule a Joint Session of Congress to conflict with the Republican debate.

The Republican debate was scheduled first. (And it's an important one, at the Reagan Library, with Rick Perry's first appearance in a debate.) Obama swiftly relocating his personal speech bubble into the media space bubble currently occupied by his GOP challengers. But following the Emily Mills rule of political bocce ball, the GOP media bubble must honor the Obama bubble and bounce out of the way (because the second-arriving bubble has the power to oust the first bubble, especially when the incoming bubble come in from the left).

But the President can't just barge into Congress whenever he wants. (Ever heard of the notion of separate co-equal branches of government?) He's got to ask, and he's got to ask John Boehner, and Boehner says no. But not because of the debate. Oh, no no no. Because the House isn't reconvening until the following day and because it's a lot of work setting up the security for a presidential visit.

I just have 2 more questions:

1. If all the other networks aired the Obama speech, do you think fewer people would watch the debate (assuming MSNBC and CNBC would stick to their plan and show the debate) or do you think more people would watch? That is, if Obama preempted the regular shows people like, they might flip over to the debate. How many of the people who want to watch the debate would pick an Obama speech instead?

2. Should Obama be criticized just for doing a Joint Session of Congress, quite aside from the debate? This proposal isn't going to amount to anything, is it? It's political grandstanding. There's something dreadful about locking all the members of Congress in place where they're supposed to sit silently — God forbid anyone yells "you lie!" or whatever — or cheer and laud the President. Frankly, I don't think it's presidential, because — in America — we have 3 branches of government, and the President's forays into the Capitol should be rare, dignified rituals of a nonpartisan nature.

Honor my personal space bubble!

David Blaska notes a hilarious assertion by Isthmus blogger Emily Mills (who still owes me an apology). Mills, in an effort to spin the Wisconsin Supreme Court "chokehold" incident, says:
Yes, everyone agrees that Bradley was moving toward Prosser.... And if I were moving toward someone, asking them to leave a room, I would also expect them to move. You don't have to be "charging" someone to expect that. It's called a personal space bubble - most people reflexively honor it.
So... when you're standing there in your personal space bubble, and I decide to swiftly relocate my personal space bubble into the place currently occupied by your bubble, you need to move your bubble? I'm picturing something like bocce ball, but more bouncy. There's honor for you!

Fighting the revolution in Iran with squirt guns.

Innocent fun or serious political threat?
After heeding a call on Facebook, a group of nearly 800 young men and women were among those who showed up at the park....

They chased strangers around a giant water fountain, screaming and laughing as they splashed each other with water from toy guns, bottles and plastic bags.

"We had a blast. It was a rare chance for boys and girls to hang out in a public place and have fun," said Shaghayegh...
Facebook... flash mobs... is it just fun and games? Look at London. In Iran, perhaps the regime is threatened by something that is only fun and games. But now that the authorities have cracked down, it's become political... and politicizing to the young people — the under-30s — who make up 35% of the population.
Farzan, a 22-year-old university student who was one of the organizers of the Tehran water war, says police tracked him down through Facebook and raided his house in the middle of the night. He was arrested, held for three days and beaten up, he says.

Young Iranians say although the event started out as innocent fun, it has now turned political. They are vowing to challenge them with more events.

A nationwide water war is scheduled for Friday, after the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Didn't the American revolution begin with a snowball fight?

At the Blue Pond Café...

... ponder.

EcoKat backlash.

What's the matter with Kansas?  (Via Instapundit.)
Kansas State University recently introduced EcoKat, a special mascot to promote environmental causes -- and the fans are not thrilled. The Kansas City Star reported that, on Twitter, the #ecokat hashtag suggests considerable dislike, and that a #fakeecokat has also emerged on Twitter. Among recent tweets: "#EcoKat makes me want to leave my porch light on 24hours and drive two blocks to the gas station for a pack of gum," "EcoKat: The worst idea since the Power Towel" and from a University of Kansas fan "MY GOD. What is #kstate thinking? And you ask why you get made fun of ... #EcoKat. Please never change."
Oh, how bad can it be? Aaaah!

Sorry, I was totally distracted by the cat head. But that's Willie the Wildcat, which is apparently the school's regular sports mascot, their Bucky Badger, if you will. EcoKat is the lady: "played by a K-State student who auditioned for the role... outfitted in a costume made of 90 percent repurposed materials." They say her outfit is "sustainable." But it is not sustainable! Because people will not stand for it.... or wait. Is this a trick? So bad it's good? So bad it gets people to tweet and blog about how bad it is? Kind of like the Burger King king? But the Burger King king is passé. He's ousted. Dethroned. Get with it Kansas! Creepily bad is not somehow cool. Not anymore.

"Sarah Palin Appearance at Tea Party Rally in Iowa 'No Longer Confirmed.'"

That seems to suggest — am I reading too much into it? — that she had intended to declare her candidacy for President has changed her mind — or is in the process of changing her mind — due to the meteoric rise of Rick Perry.

“Some of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me…hanging on a tree.”

So said Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indiana. A Hoosier!

"In his two weeks as a presidential candidate, Rick Perry has done something that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney could do..."

"... wake up the left."

Says Politico.

From my perspective here in Wisconsin, I had not noticed that the left was asleep. Indeed, I've noticed that it could use some sleep. A long, restful, sanity-restoring snooze. In a bed, not on a marble floor.

Don't call me Shirley/Buddy.

The file on the police investigation of the Wisconsin Supreme Court "chokehold" incident contains accounts of 2 incidents in which someone used a too-familiar name and the immediate consequence was an inappropriate touching. In putting these 2 accounts together here, I don't mean to vouch for their truth. I simply want to juxtapose them for the purpose of examining their similarity.

First is the "chokehold" incident itself, as described by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley (page 34):  Justice Bradley said when she approached Justice Prosser, she said to him, "Buddy, get out of my office." Justice Bradley explained that the sobriquet "Buddy" put her "in control" and Justice Prosser "in the diminutive." By "in the diminutive," Bradley meant something like making him seem small or putting him in the state "of being familiarly known, lovable, pitiable, or contemptible." There were accompanying gestures from Bradley, and, as we know by now, Prosser proceeded to put his hands around her neck.

In the second incident, from 2008 (page 64), Justice Gableman "remembers making a comment to the chief justice in a joking manner and used her first name, Shirley, during this comment towards her."
Justice Gableman said right after he said the chief justice's first name, Justice Bradley came over to him, hit him on the back of the head and told him that he needed to show respect to the chief. Justice Gableman said that he believed Justice Bradley was not joking because nobody was laughing at the time. Justice Gableman said he has not told anyone about that incident and has not talked about that incident with anyone, including Justice Bradley, after it happened.
In both instances, a name is used and it's Justice Bradley who regards the name as disrespectful. In both instances, the name immediately precedes a regrettable touching. In one instance, Justice Bradley is the person who says the name and receives the regrettable touching, and in the other, she hears the name and performs the regrettable touching.

In the first instance, the person who used the name did so with an intent to express disrespect, and the named person is the one who does the touching. In the second instance, the named person's reaction isn't even described. We don't know what the Chief Justice thought of Justice Gableman calling her "Shirley." (It's simply her first name, not a diminutive.) It is Justice Bradley who imposed the interpretation of disrespect and who inflicted retribution (in this story, as told by Gableman, whose veracity remains in issue).

So we have 2 stories depicting Justice Bradley as having a heightened sensitivity to the wounding effect of an over-familiar form of address. In one, she deliberately uses a hostile epithet to diminish and control someone who is already the target of her anger. In the other, someone becomes the target of her anger after he uses someone's real name in what seems to have been a reasonably friendly if awkward effort at conversation.

Analogizing the Wisconsin Supreme Court "chokehold" incident to... basketball.

This is email from a reader, which I am posting in full, without additional comment, except to say that it's a theory and I don't agree with every aspect of this theory, nor do I understand whether the statements made about the rules of basketball are entirely correct. This is a framework for discussion, presented in that spirit. (If you need more background on the incident, click the Wisconsin Supreme Court tag and scroll.)

A reader writes:
I admire your blog and, as a distinctly separate matter, some evident personal traits. You are willing to research, document and state clearly, the conclusions you draw from those findings. That, though important, is secondary to your tenacity. I have read every post on the Prosser-Bradley Affair known as the "Choke-Hold Incident" and until recently, every comment made to each. It is evident by the content of your posts that you have intentionally avoided a "post simply to post" redundancy, keeping it fresh by adding newly found material and incorporating new conclusions in their proper place, to include a summary and time-line when it became appropriate.

Still, even with such praise, I write with some objections because I believe that this issue is of major importance, not just for the city or your state but nationally, and this will only become obvious in time, when looking back on it. The principle reason that I have become reluctant to read every comment is not because of the sheer number of contributions, but their repetition and the rather narrow framework within which the issue has fallen, in the matter as it is addressed.

Perhaps I should tell you why I do not like or follow sports.

"you cannot ride bikes in NYC. too many fatalities every year even when you follow the rules"

Comment on a very sad story of the death of a 29-year-old woman.

Deceptive Daily News headline: "Muslims, police scuffle at Rye Playland over amusement park's head scarf ban."

Did Rye Playland have a head scarf ban?
One woman, Entisai Ali, began arguing with cops over the amusement park's head scarf, or hijab, rule, said Dena Meawad, 18, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The ban, which is not Muslim specific, was imposed about 3 years ago mostly to prevent hats from falling onto the tracks of roller coasters and other rides, park officials said.
What is the actual rule? No hats? The ban was "not Muslim specific," so what was it exactly? If you read far enough into the article, you finally get to this:
Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks, said the Muslim American Society of New York was warned in advance of the rule barring head scarves on rides for safety reasons.
The rule barring head scarves? That paraphrase dissserves Tartaglia, but at least they finally give us a direct quote:
"Part of our rules and regulations, which we painstakingly told them over and over again, is that certain rides you cannot wear any sort of headgear," Tartaglia said. "It's a safety issue for us on rides, it could become a projectile."
You cannot wear any sort of headgear...
Many Muslims were given refunds as they left the park disappointed.

"In this heightened state of Islamaphobia, a woman wearing a hajib is an easy target these days," said Zead Ramadan, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations - New York. 
I'd say they were the opposite of an easy target. It was, in fact, very difficult to hold them to a rule that applies to everyone. They demanded a special exception, caused a scene when the didn't get it, extracted refunds, and brought some terrible press to the park and the police.

"But for the incandescent aficionados, fluorescent lights tend to be associated with morgues, prisons and tenement hallways."

Cultural historian Christopher Cook says they have a "'cold creepiness' and make you feel like you're being interrogated."

An apt feeling, conveying the message of government coercion. But they'll get used to it, even the sensitive ones.

From "At Home: A Short History of Private Life," by Bill Bryson (page 112):
We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity. A candle—a good candle—provides barely a hundredth of the illumination of a single 100-watt lightbulb. Open your refrigerator door and you summon forth more light than the total amount enjoyed by most households in the eighteenth century. The world at night for much of history was a very dark place indeed.

Occasionally we can see into the dimness, as it were, when we find descriptions of what was considered sumptuous, as when a guest at a Virginia plantation, Nomini Hall, marveled in his diary how “luminous and splendid” the dining room was during a banquet because seven candles were burning—four on the table and three elsewhere in the room. To him this was a blaze of light. At about the same time, across the ocean in England, a gifted amateur artist named John Harden left a charming set of drawings showing family life at his home, Brathay Hall in Westmorland. What is striking is how little illumination the family expected or required. A typical drawing shows four members sitting companionably at a table sewing or reading by the light of a single candle, and there is no sense of hardship or deprivation, and certainly no sign of the desperate postures of people trying to get a tiny bit of light to fall more productively on a page or piece of embroidery. A Rembrandt drawing, Student at a Table by Candlelight, is actually much closer to the reality. It shows a youth sitting at a table, all but lost in a depth of shadow and gloom that a single candle on the wall beside him cannot begin to penetrate. Yet he has a newspaper. The fact is that people put up with dim evenings because they knew no other kind.
The world at night for much of history was a very dark place indeed. And history extends into the future, where it may not be so dark, but it is cold and creepy.

August 30, 2011

At the Showerhead Café...

... rain your clear thoughts upon us.

"A green alternative to cremation... dissolving the body in heated alkaline water."

"Body tissue is dissolved and the liquid poured into the municipal water system. Mr Sullivan, a biochemist by training, says tests have proven the effluent is sterile and contains no DNA, and poses no environmental risk. The bones are then removed from the unit and processed in a 'cremulator,' the same machine that is used to crush bone fragments following cremation into ash. Metals including mercury and artificial joints and implants are safely recovered."

Or... try Promession:
Coffins are fed in one end [of a machine], and the body removed from the coffin within the unit and then treated with liquid nitrogen.

The body is then vibrated until the body fragments, after which the remains are dried and refined further, and then passed through filters to remove metals, including dental amalgam. The remains are then poured into a square biodegradable coffin, again automatically, for shallow burial.
And the whole thing is supposed to become soil fairly quickly.

Here's my question: Isn't old-fashioned burial greener? It's carbon sequestration, right?

"We would walk through the country with our guitars on our shoulders, stop at people’s houses, play a little music, walk on..."

"We could hitchhike, transfer from truck to truck, or, if we couldn’t catch one of them, we’d go to the train yard, ’cause the railroad was all through that part of the country then... Man, we played for a lot of peoples."

"I never imagined it would be this bad... I'm not a bad man. I'm really not."

"We had no intention of stealing TVs, anything that was of value to them, real value. I just seen a couple bottles of liquor there and figured they wouldn't miss it... I didn't know [the cameras] were rolling, so I was caught red handed... I never had no felonies, got a six-year-old daughter I'm taking care of by myself. I'd be pissed if someone came in my house and took some liquor, too... I apologize. I shouldn't have snatched the liquor. I didn't think it was gonna be this big of a deal, really. It's just bottles of liquor, but I'll help you rebuild your house Ms. Robinson. I really want to apologize."

Man — caught on camera looting a house wrecked by a Hurricane Irene tornado — now, on camera again, cries his regrets.

IN THE COMMENTS: pbAndjFellowRepublican said:
That Robinson house tried to seduce him.

"Break into my house in the middle of the night and it's nightie night."

Milwaukee State Journal readers react to a news story about a Waukesha County  prosecutor delaying making a decision whether to charge a man who shot a home intruder to death.
The incident... will likely prompt more debate about the status of Wisconsin's self-defense law and efforts to broaden it to include the so-called castle doctrine.
Judging from the debate in the comments, the people favor the pending bill, which "would extend a presumption of reasonableness to anyone using deadly force against people unlawfully in their residence, whether they were armed or threatening or not."

I favor the bill myself, because people who are considering breaking into a house shouldn't have a complicated set of risk/benefit factors to weigh. It should be really clear.

Greta Van Susteren asks if anyone is demanding that Justices Prosser and Bradley step down.

"Are any of the newspaper asking for them to step down? People have very serious disputes and their whole lives depend on decisions on the Supreme Court, and this isn't fair to the people. Are newspaper editors saying they got to go?"

The answer from her guest, Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
You are right this is sort of funny, but no joke. One thing that I've heard the time when this all came out Governor Walker talked about the possibility of having an appointed rather than elected court. And that didn't go anywhere. It didn't seem like that proposal -- seems like it would be dead on arrival in our legislature. But certainly there's been a number of people saying, look, this can't go on. Something has got to change.
Total failure to answer the question!

Should Prosser and/or Bradley resign?
Yes. Both.
Yes. Bradley.
Yes. Prosser.
Yes. Prosser, Bradley, and at least one more.
Yes. They should all resign!
No. Keep them all. Move on. free polls 

By the way, I'm hearing a rumor that Justice Crooks might resign. I don't know what that's about, but I was just reading about the 1995 election that originally brought Justice Bradley to the court. She defeated none other than Patrick Crooks in that election, and Crooks (who later won election, in 1996), was the conservative in the race, with the backing of Gov. Tommy Thompson and many Republicans. Bradley had the liberal backing, including the AFL-CIO. Both candidates portrayed themselves as "strict constructionists," and Bradley emphasized judicial independence and the importance of keeping the judiciary above politics. Crooks criticized her for her unwillingness to talk about how she would decide even cases that had been decided in the past. (Sorry for the absence of links there. I'm reading old newspaper articles, and they are not up on line.)

Crooks — who now votes in a bloc with Chief Justice Abrahamson and Justice Bradley, reaching liberal outcomes — called himself "the conservative for the court." When Bradley cited judicial ethics as her reason for refusing to address the issues, he said, after he lost: "I think it's unfortunate we didn't have a chance to show there was a clear, ideological difference between the two of us... It's important for the public to have a sense of candidates' judicial philosophy and how they go about making decisions." Bradley, by contrast, said she won because she refrained from labeling herself and Crooks did not. She said: "I think people ended up not wanting those kinds of conservative labels in a Supreme Court race... You have to be careful not to politicize the court."

A mere 3 years after joining the court, in 1999, Crooks considered resigning. He told the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the problem was the “way Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson is running the court.... abusing her position by micromanaging the court system, making unilateral decisions on administrative matters that should come to the full court, and jeopardizing the court’s neutrality by awarding grants to groups with lobbyists and social agendas."

Crooks, you may remember, was the only justice who was not present for the "chokehold" incident. He had gone home for the day. On another occasion — in 2008, when Justice Bradley allegedly hit Justice Gableman in the head for calling the Chief "Shirley" — Crooks was — allegedly — reading the horoscopes. Crooks was born May 16, 1938. That makes him a Taurus. It says here: "Can you take the day off? Now is the perfect time to do just that. If you’re locked in for some level of responsibility, you can still make the most of your freewheeling energy by creating a party atmosphere." So... no announcement today, probably.

ADDED: From the investigative file (and relevant to Crooks's attitude toward the recent incident):
Justice Crooks said early in his tenure as Supreme Court Justice, he recalls a meeting in which Justice Prosser had called him a "viper" in an aggressive manner. Justice Crooks believed it was sometime around the fall of 1999 when Chief Justice Abrahamson was running for re-election for supreme court. Justice Crooks said he was not supporting her re-election at the time, and Justice Prosser was. It was during a meeting with the other Justices that Justice Crooks stated he was not going to support the Chief Justice's re-election. Justice Prosser had stood up and aggressively called him a "viper" during that meeting because he was not supporting the Chief Justice.  Justice Crooks recalled Justice Prosser had walked out of the room, and slammed the door hard enough to cause the glass to vibrate.    Justice Crooks said he had never forgotten that incident, and believes since then things have been either just as aggressive from Justice Prosser, and in some cases they have escalated.

Romney having trouble raising money from Jewish donors who say they prefer "the Jewish candidate" — Michele Bachmann.

What's going on here? Republican fund raisers are exploiting Obama's weak support for Israel, but Mitt Romney is not doing so well with Jewish donors. If these donors aren't responding to Romney, and if they are indeed calling Bachmann "the Jewish candidate," are they really making a mistake, as the NY Post puts it, not realizing that she's Christian? I doubt it! Bachmann flaunts her Christianity, and her critics critique her for it. And a mere mistake could simply be corrected.
[S]ome in Romney's camp have been wondering whether Bachmann and her allies are pushing the "Jewish" rumor to help their own fund-raising, sources said.
Some! The dreaded some! Sources said. Maybe some in Romney's camp are pushing the Jewish rumor rumor to to help their own fund-raising!

The NY Post article goes on to say:
[Bachmann] has enjoyed strong popularity among Jewish voters and often talks about her stay on a kibbutz during the summer of 1974, when she was a teenager.
In a speech to the American Israel Political Action Committee last year, Bachmann recalled being guarded by soldiers while working on the kibbutz.

"While we were working, the soldiers were walking around looking for land mines," she said. "I really learned a lot in Israel."

She went on to say, "I am a Christian, but I consider my heritage Jewish, because it is the foundation, the roots of my faith as a Christian."

Bachmann also told an AIPAC gathering earlier this year that she and her family make sure each year to attend at least one Jewish-theme play or movie.
I think if any of these donors are calling Michele Bachmann "the Jewish candidate" they mean it in the figurative and satirical sense that Toni Morrison used when she called Bill Clinton the first black President.
People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race.
There's a somewhat common phrase "honorary jew." It's noted in the Urban Dictionary. It turns up over 20,000 Google hits, and, on the first page, we see discussion of whether Sarah Palin and, elsewhere, Hillary Clinton should be counted as "honorary Jews." Here's a cute blog post about Sarah Palin, noting 10 reasons why Palin counts as a Jew. You get the idea. The big one is support for Israel.

What might have motivated the Romney people to get the idea out there that Michele Bachmann is really Jewish? It could be to generate unease among voters who have some anti-Semitism.Think of the rumor that Barack Obama is really Muslim. The Romney people should not want people to think they meant to ignite that kind of suspicion about Bachmann. Oddly, Romney himself has to deal with the antagonism toward his religion — the religion he actually follows. You'd think his campaign folk would be more sensitive. It's almost as if they're trying to generate a rumor that Bachmann's not Christian at all to deal with his problem with some people thinking Mormons aren't Christian enough (or at all).

But what was the point of saying that the prospective donors are mistaken about such a basic fact about Bachmann? If you're trying to warm people up to your candidate, you don't normally insult them!

UPDATE: I'm told this proves she's not Jewish:

"What could Chaz Bono and Nancy Grace possibly have in common?"

We shall see!

"Top stylists from New York to Hollywood told me their liberal clients are guiltily requesting the Bachmann Look."

Forget politics! They love her hair:
"A lot of clients have asked for Sarah Palin hair in the past four years, and now, it's Bachmann," says Andi Scarbrough of Byu-ty Hair Therapy in L.A. "Politicians are the new celebrities, because they're real. They didn't just spring up out of the red carpet."

However, she admits, "I have women who come in with photos with the face cut out sometimes."

"She has great coppery color that warms her up a little bit," said Angelo David at his E. 43rdSt. salon, who confirmed a spike in copycat requests for the candidate's look. "Not everybody wants to look like Kim Kardashian."

Bachmann's style "is safe, but not soccer mom. It's sexy," said Alma Qeraxhiu at her AlmaG Salon and Spa on E. 21st. St.

"I have found it a little bit amazing how many women have been coming in asking for her hair style, even though they don't agree with her politics."
Having the best hair is an important step. If  you're betting on who will win in politics, you'll come out ahead, I think, if you always pick the candidate with the best hair. Male or female. But with female candidates, the hair can be a distraction if it's not resolved into a predictably sensible yet pretty style.

(Remember when Carly Fiorina said Barbara Boxer's hair was "so yesterday"?)

August 29, 2011

At the Glittering Water Café...

... you can sparkle all night.

ADDED: Chip Ahoy adds a Rocky touch...

... a double Rocky touch, right? I see 2 pop culture references.

The special prosecutor said no criminal charges, but what will the Wisconsin Judicial Commission do about the "chokehold" incident?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines the case:
The judicial commission is separately investigating the case for violations of the state's code of ethics for judges. That code says that a judge "shall avoid impropriety" and "shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."
Clearly, leaking the story — and leaking it in a deceptive form — was a decision to diminish public confidence in the court. (You might want to question whether the code should say that: What if the court doesn't deserve public confidence in its integrity and impartiality? Are the judges compelled to keep quiet about it?)
If the judicial commission found any wrongdoing, the case would go first to a three-judge panel and then to the Supreme Court to consider.... If the Supreme Court finds misconduct in a judicial ethics case, it can reprimand, censure, suspend or remove a judge.
So, wouldn't Prosser and Bradley recuse themselves? That would leave a 3-2 conservative majority on the court. If the commission found wrongdoing by both Bradley and Prosser, then that majority could attempt to display neutrality by voting to remove both justices. I'm partly serious, but mainly being amusing. You do see what is amusing about portraying that as neutral-looking. Governor Scott Walker would have the power to make 2 appointments. From a political perspective, losing Prosser would put conservatives in a better position. They'd have a new justice, without the baggage, and he/she would be smart, strong, and relatively young. And, of course, Bradley would be replaced by a smart, strong, relatively young justice too. Both new justices would naturally be principled conservatives with excellent credentials.

But they aren't going to be removed. I predict a reprimand or at most censure. Still, I must say, that if the tables were turned and the liberal justice had done what Prosser did and the conservative justice had done what Bradley did, there would be cries for removing the justice who did what Bradley did. Look at the investigative file. Picture the Wisconsin protesters picking through that in search of material to make the strongest case against the justice who did what Bradley did. And if the Democratic party controlled the legislature? The protesters would be screaming for impeachment.

But the conservatives are mostly giving Bradley a pass. As long as Prosser's going to be okay, let's just forget about it. That means it paid off to frame a completely unfair charge against Prosser and demonize him in the press, which is exactly what damaged public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Who did that? Who leaked the story to the politically partisan journalist, Bill Lueders? Surely, the judicial commission is going to tell us. It may not have been relevant to the question whether there should be a criminal prosecution — which would explain why the police investigative file doesn't tell us. But it's obviously central to the inquiry into judicial ethics.

"Americans view the computer industry the most positively and the federal government the least positively..."

"... when asked to rate 25 business and industry sectors. All five of the top-rated sectors this year are related to either computers or food."

Food and computers, baby! We love that stuff!

The federal government fares worst, but no other government entity was on the list. Anyway, this is interesting, showing the decline of appreciation for the federal government over the last 8 years:

There's a steady decline in the Bush years. Things perk up when Obama steps in, but plummet faster than under Bush.

"'Ugliness' is not a personal trait that many people choose to embrace..."

"... those whom we classify as protected might not be willing to admit that they are ugly. But with the chance of obtaining extra pay and promotions amounting to $230,000 in lost lifetime earnings, there’s a large enough incentive to do so."

For enough money, you'll call yourself ugly.

Now, I see a problem in this line of thinking: It's easier for men to say I'm ugly than for women. The men are going to rake in all the money. Look at me! I'm so ugly! Imagine presenting that to a jury! Or do you think women have an advantage because they can appear in court without makeup and hairstyling?

"Liberation theology is a power set of tools and approaches within any religion."

Liberation theology is a set of power tools!

"Think You're An Auditory Or Visual Learner?"

"Scientists Say It's Unlikely."

Do you know how to drive on a "bicycle boulevard"? Do you even know what a "sharrow" is?

Well, don't drive in Madison, Wisconsin until you learn. We were biking around town for about an hour last evening, and the problem out there is obvious. Some car driver gets outraged that a bicyclist is acting like he owns the whole lane and he won't move over when you blare your horn or yell at him. Car driver, learn the rules! Or there are going to be a lot of angry encounters and — I'm afraid — fights.

We bicyclists love the "bicycle boulevards," which entitle us to use the whole lane and require the motorist to stay in line and proceed at whatever speed the bicycle is establishing. But it's not so enjoyable when the motorist can't believe we have rights like this. But we do!

Drivers need to learn the rules, and the police need to do some enforcement, especially against the drivers who use their cars to intimidate the cyclists into yielding the space that has been provided to us for our safety. And bicyclists: Get out there and use those boulevards — claim the power of the sharrow! — so it become obvious that this is the way things work around here.

Glittering: "assault" or "wonderfully fabulous way to protest"?

Diane Anderson-Minshall, executive editor of The Advocate, the gay news magazine, says throwing metallic flecks in someone's face is a "wonderfully fabulous way to protest": "It's peaceful and it doesn’t hurt anybody. But it does get a really important point across in a fun way."

Newt Gingrich, who's been on the receiving end of this supposedly "fun" protest, says: "Glitter bombing is clearly an assault and should be treated as such... When someone reaches into a bag and throws something on you, how do you know if it is acid or something that stains permanently or something that can blind you? People have every right to their beliefs but no right to assault others.”

The NYT tries to get a legal opinion by asking First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams:
"I don’t think you’d get much disagreement that like so much else in the law, it’s all a matter of degree... Touching someone’s body can be criminal. But it’s awfully unlikely that there would be a prosecution if it’s just a bit of glitter. But in theory, the more that’s dropped, the more likely is prosecution."
That's a pragmatic assessment from the point of view of police and prosecutors, not an opinion about whether it is a crime. Did Abrams address the point of view of the recipient of the attack (as Gingrich did, above)? If someone rushes at you and makes gestures of attack, but it turns out to be only glitter, you still have the fear, and you (or your bodyguards) don't know what is about to happen. Then maybe it's funny to laugh at the person who felt the fear or overreacted. And there they are covered in glitter. Ha ha.

This is like the childhood game of taking a swat at someone, without hitting him, and then hooting "You flinched!" In that childhood game — is it still played? — if the person flinched, you then have the right to punch him in the arm. Hard. But imagine adults playing with each other that way. Or would life work better? Justice Bradley charges right up to Justice Prosser, gets in his face, with fists flying but not touching him, and he flinches/touches. Well, then Justice Bradley immediately has the right to punch Prosser — hard — in the arm. And that's the end of it. Instead... oh, lord!... the troubles we have in Wisconsin!

(And here's that thread from last month where we talked about pie-throwing and where, in the comments, there was some extensive discussion of glittering.)

What we still don't know about the Wisconsin Supreme Court "chokehold" incident: Who leaked the story to the press?

Here's something I wrote in early July, a week after the story first appeared in the media:
Judges are supposed to work out their human frailty problems outside of public view. Which is why the "chokehold" incident should never have been leaked to the press. That's why my writing on the subject has focused on who leaked and why. I would like to think that it was someone other than one of the Justices, someone who didn't understand the stakes for the prestige of the court. If it was, in fact, one of the Justices, what was the reason? Why would you damage the reputation of the court like that instead of working on resolving the problems quietly internally?

And don't tell me: Because choking somebody is a serious crime! If it were that straightforward, the choker should have been arrested — or the charge should have come to light — shortly after the incident. Instead, a politically partisan journalist broke the story 12 days later. Someone made a decision to go public through him, and that makes it look like a political tactic. Is that someone a supreme court justice? Intolerable.
Now, the investigation has taken place and we have had the opportunity to read the entire file. It does not reveal who went to the media — to Bill Lueders of — with the story. It does reveal that the story originally published by Lueders was shamefully inadequate, because it said only that Justice Prosser "allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument." It had nothing about Bradley's initiating the physical encounter by "charging at" him and suddenly and deliberately getting right in his personal space, possibly with a fist in his face. Either Lueders left out Bradley's initial physical aggression, or he received the story in that inadequate form. So who talked to Lueders, and did that person tell him the story with crucial details omitted to cast Prosser in the worst possible light?

Another thing we know from the investigation file is that, 2 days after the incident, Justice Bradley gave a carefully prepared speech to the assembled justices in which she framed — in her own terms — a problem that needed to be solved. Portraying Prosser as the workplace bully, she stated: "If I cannot get any assurance from you, the court, that this problem is going to be addressed, then I will go to the outside and take other means." Since she did not get that assurance, the record gives support to the inference that it was Justice Bradley who went to the media. The investigators did not ask her if she made good on her threat and took "other means" by going public through Bill Lueders, perhaps because it did not relate to whether a crime was committed, but I think the public deserves to know.

On page 43 of the investigative file, Justice Prosser seems to imply that it was Justice Bradley who leaked the story (and leaked it in a damagingly incomplete form):
Justice Prosser said when there is a charge made by a woman that a man choked you, and you leak it out to the press allover the world, and that man is on the WI Supreme Court, "You are doing absolute maximum damage to a public figure that you can do". Justice Prosser said he did not feel Justice Bradley was telling the truth because if she were, then she would have to say how she charged at him.
It was not damaging solely to Prosser. It was damaging to the entire court and to the viability of the rule of law in Wisconsin. As I wrote, back in early July: "Why would you damage the reputation of the court like that instead of working on resolving the problems quietly internally?" I'm still trying to understand how anyone who cared about the prestige and legitimacy of the Wisconsin Supreme Court would take this matter public.

But we do know, from the text of Justice Bradley's own speech, that she thought the threat of going public was something she could use for her own purposes to compel  the other justices to act as though the problem was Prosser and Prosser alone. Frame it my way, don't blame me at all, see me only as the victim, or I will take it upon myself to devastate this court's reputation. Even if Bradley was not the one who leaked to Lueders — in the all-Prosser's-fault form — that was, to put it mildly, injudicious and self-serving.

And I still have the question I had on July 3d:
Someone made a decision to go public through [the politically partisan journalist Bill Lueders], and that makes it look like a political tactic. Is that someone a supreme court justice?
I said it then, and I can't see any reason to change my opinion: Intolerable.

Lady Gaga's Andrew Dice Clay routine — "Joe Calderone."

She's one of the guys.

All the big pop stars want to be actors, don't they? But only 2 have succeeded, by my count. Most fail, following Elvis... not that following Elvis is such a bad thing.

"Oh my God, it's beautiful... Everyone here is so much nicer than in New York, too."

The new students are arriving in Madison. And the ones from New York, some of them, don't really get the Midwest yet. Here's a tip: If they're not nice, they won't let it show on the surface, like they do in New York. Don't make the New Yorker's mistake of thinking you're more sophisticated than the rubes in the Midwest. The truth is, you need a new kind of sophistication to detect when folks aren't nice.

But welcome to Madison, everybody. It really is beautiful... and a great place to study. Open your minds. Open your books. And step away from the politics.
Madison's long tradition of student activists included thousands rallying in the spring, during protests over the collective bargaining bill and the state budget. UW students will continue to be active, said Ben Manski of

"Students are still idealistic, and they should be," he said. "More of us should be. So, they provide inspiration for older folks to try to do things that we may have given up on."
Be wary of the grasp of the Manski! Consider majoring in science. Real science. Not the social kind. Develop your rational mind and learn some hard, useful stuff. Don't indulge what these politicos will flatter you to call idealism.

Man lives in a 78-square-foot space.

He's an architect in his 20s, living — roommate free! — in New York City.  Based on the street scene, he's right about here. He seems reasonably satisfied with it, as he describes minimalist impulses going back to childhood. There's room for a bed/sofa and a desk. My only outburst, watching that video, was "does he have WiFi?"

Picture a prison cell that size. Would it be too cruel? But inject the freedom to walk out the door at any time and have all of NYC. It's not cruel at all. When you're sleeping in your bed, the space around you doesn't really matter, and when you're sitting at that desk, it's not too different from a carrel in the library.

Hurricane Irene causes Gwyneth Paltrow to go to a book signing without wearing makeup.

Let's take full account of the effects of the monstrous storm!

August 28, 2011

At the Cloudscape Café...

... you can see, touch, and taste everything.

(If you enjoyed the music that happened to be playing on the car radio in that little clip and you don't already have it, please buy it: here.)

"Labor Day parade organizers confirm that no Republicans will be allowed to participate in this year's Labor Day Parade."

"[Marathon County Labor Council] president Randy Radtke says they choose not to invite elected officials who have 'openly attacked worker's rights' or did nothing when state public workers lost most of their right to collectively bargain."

From Congressman Sean Duffy's chief of staff: "Having walked in this parade in past years, Congressman Duffy was hoping that for a moment, we could set our differences aside and simply have some fun in a family-friendly event."

Fun? Family-friendly? Wisconsin?!

"Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi is comatose, near death and likely to take secrets of the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 to his grave."

Says who? 
CNN found al-Megrahi under the care of his family in his palatial Tripoli villa Sunday, surviving on oxygen and an intravenous drip. The cancer-stricken former Libyan intelligence officer may be the last man alive who knows precisely who in the Libya government authorized the bombing, which killed 270 people.

"We just give him oxygen. Nobody gives us any advice," his son, Khaled Elmegarhi, told CNN.... There is no doctor. There is nobody to ask. We don't have any phone line to call anybody."
Who is this "CNN"? They have a photo of a man lying in his own bed in a villa, not in a hospital, wearing an oxygen mask, and they have the statement of his son. That proves this man will never speak again? I don't believe it. We were told this guy was near death 2 years ago, when he was released from prison in Scotland. Libyans welcomed him home as a hero. Why would we accept these new assertions as true?

And "the National Transitional Council, the rebel movement that toppled Gadhafi, announced Sunday that it won't allow the dying al-Megrahi to be extradited."
"We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West," NTC Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi said.
Will President Obama speak to this?

Wisconsin "Singalong" Protesters Confront Workers and Chant About Boycotting Their Employer.

Meade recorded this video at the 8/26/11 anti-Scott Walker singalong at the Wisconsin Capitol. Toward the end of what is their regular hour-long protest, workers from The Bruce Company, who were installing a new sprinkler system, began using their noisy equipment near the singalong.

A man jumps up and shouts "Boycott the Bruce Company," and a chant immediately breaks out with lots of people raising their fists and shouting "Boycott Bruce! Boycott Bruce!" — seemingly based solely on the assumption that the workers are deliberately disrupting their singalong. An older male protester directly confronts one of the workers. The police show up to observe and, seemingly, keep the peace. A young female protester wants to know what Meade is up to. What's his take on this? Her take is that the workers started working there for the purpose of drowning out the singers. Meade is heard saying "You don't think maybe you're being a little paranoid?"

If you care about workers — and that is the subject of the songs they sing and sing and sing — why are they harassing these guys? If they care about justice, why do they instantly — based on a paranoid impulse — chant for a boycott? If they care about jobs, why would they want to denounce and injure a local business?