December 3, 2011


... win the Big 10 Conference Championship!

Alan Sues "tended to perform with over-the-top flamboyance on the show, displaying stereotypically gay mannerisms."

"It wasn’t because he was ashamed of being gay; it was because he was surviving as a performer... Many gay men came up to him and said how important he was when they were young because he was the only gay man they could see on television...."

We loved him on "Laugh-In." Alan Sues, dead at the age of 85.

At the Corona Café...


... you can get lost here for a while.

The "microhome"...

"... 7 by 12 feet stem-to-stern, including a wood-burning stove, an antique parlor chair that also serves as a seat for the compost toilet beneath it, and a shower under the bed....."

Herman Cain is about to speak.

I guess that means I'm live-blogging it.

12:18 Central Time: I'm watching Fox News, and they're talking about what it will mean if Mrs. Cain is not standing by his side. But she's never standing by his side, so that won't me anything. If she is... well, that would be unusual.

12:29: Gloria's there!

12:41: "It hurts... We know that these false and unproved allegations are not true... I am at peace with my God. I am at peace with my wife. And she is at peace with me. And I'm at peace with my family. And I am at peace with myself."

12:43: "I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we are not fighters, not because I am not a fighter...."

12:45: "I am not going to be silenced and I am not going away." He has "Plan B: The Cain Solutions dot com."

12:46: I get the feeling Plan B is Sarah Palin mode.

12:48: Drudge: "No, We Cain't."

Christine Todd Whitman encourages Jon Huntsman to run as a 3rd party candidate — but wouldn't it hurt Obama?

Although Huntsman and Whitman are nominally Republicans, I can't read this without assuming their agenda is to help President Obama win reelection. If you're with me this far, then, consider whether they've got a good strategy. Would Huntsman, running as a 3d party candidate, draw more voters away from the Republican (presumably Romney) or from Obama? I'm picturing dissatisfied Democrats going for Huntsman in protest... people who feel that Obama has abandoned their segment of the "Obama Coalition." It's harder to picture voters who'd be thinking of voting for Romney who'd get the idea of switching to Huntsman. Why would anyone do that?

Mic check... old style... with Vicki McKenna...

...and New Media Meade:

"Aaron, Aaron, we all sing your glory."

"Aaron, Aaron, I could be your Jordy."

ADDED: I resist tag proliferation, but this is the post where I finally broke down and made an "Aaron Rodgers" tag. In honor of this blog breakthrough, I extracted this clip from a diavlog recorded February 1, 2011:

"The next time Dylan played nearby, he invited Jobs to drop by his tricked-up tour bus just before the concert."

"When Dylan asked what his favorite song was, Jobs said 'One Too Many Mornings.' So Dylan sang it that night. After the concert, as Jobs was walking out the back, the tour bus came by and screeched to a stop. The door flipped open. 'So, did you hear my song I sang for you?' Dylan rasped. Then he drove off."

Another bit from that Steve Jobs bio.

What has happened to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser?

He's taking a month off "to recover from a serious [but not life-threatening] health issue," we're told.
That will leave six justices to hear several cases, raising the possibility of 3-3 splits on the deeply divided court....

Prosser did not participate in orders this week in a fast-moving, politically charged case over recall elections...
Prosser is the conservative justice who was involved in that bizarre "chokehold" incident. (There was no actual chokehold, apparently.) He won a hotly contested campaign for reelection this summer after the Wisconsin protesters focused their energy on defeating him. At present the protest effort is aimed at various recall elections, and there is a current controversy before the court about whether the next round of recall elections against legislators will use the newly drawn legislative districts (which favor Republicans) or the old districts that were drawn back in 2002, when Democrats controlled the process.

I wonder what is wrong with Justice Prosser. Based on what I've read about the "chokehold" incident, I imagine an intense degree of interpersonal conflict and stress inside the court. One could speculate about the kind of health problems such a workplace environment might cause or exacerbate. Is this month off a prelude to resignation? If he were to resign, the Governor — the Democrats' nemesis Scott Walker — would have the power to appoint the person who will replace him, but that person will need to stand for reelection next year. [NOTE: Text edited for accuracy.]

Walker, of course, is facing a petition drive to force him into a recall election some time next year. Under the circumstances, it would be interesting to see what kind of justice he would pick to replace Prosser. Prosser is the 4th vote in the conservative group that determines the outcome in all of the ideologically split 4-3 cases. Obviously, Walker would want a reliable conservative. But beyond that, he should want to burnish his own reputation by picking someone with impressive legal credentials. And considering the situation inside the court, he should want someone with strong leadership skills and a great capacity to operate in a psychologically stressful work environment.

ADDED: Maybe something else happened, something like the "chokehold" incident, and he's been pressured to get that "anger management" treatment he was previously told to get.  There could have been an ultimatum: Get that treatment now, or we'll go public.

Sandusky gives the NYT a 4-hour interview.

Here. Excerpt:
"They’ve taken everything that I ever did for any young person and twisted it to say that my motives were sexual or whatever... I had kid after kid after kid who might say I was a father figure. And they just twisted that all."...

He... characterized his close experiences with children he took under his wing as “precious times,” and said that the physical aspect of the relationships “just happened that way.”

December 2, 2011

Great horned owls, hooting outside our house, just now.

Meade shot what is more audio than video, but you can catch a glimpse of me in the light of my iMac.

Donald Trump will moderate the Dec. 27th Republican debate.

How very strange... but interesting!

De-stressing law students by getting them to cuddle with the homeless...

... puppies.

"You have embarrassing material in your supposedly professional journal that is out there festering right now."

"And I really don't care about amends you 'may' make next year."

A little shopping today, perhaps?

If you must shop, start here, and you'll be demonstrating your appreciation for what I do here on this blog. (A nice percentage of your purchase price will be sent my way, at no cost to you.)

May I recommend?
The new Kindle Fire.

The "daily deal" on Kindle books.

Kindle accessories.

WaPo's Jonathan Capehart says Gingrich made an "unbelievably disgusting" "blanket condemnation of 'really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods.'"

But what did Newt say?
"Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday...

"They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal"....
Now, obviously, it's Newt's style to provoke people like Capehart, and, indeed, Capehart's denouncement of Newt in the pages of WaPo leverages Newt's message for him. Capehart lambastes Gingrich for his wealth and for his disrespect toward "the overwhelming majority of those children and their families who live their lives with far more integrity and far less cash than Gingrich ever will." Capehart is doing what he is hired to do, and he gets some cash for that.

Both Gingrich and Capehart probably care to some extent about poor children. It's impossible to say how much. There's nothing about Capehart's liberal orientation that guarantees that he's more caring, though it's liberal style to pose as if you are. It's conservative style to offer love in "tough love" form, and that's what we get from Gingrich.

Liberal style, Capehart stirs up emotion: What a bad, greedy man Gingrich is! He condemns and disrespects children! Conservative style, Gingrich risks that we'll think he's mean as he invites us to think beyond those initial reflexive emotions.

Capehart declines the invitation.

"That sound you hear is an uptick in pens scratching signatures on recall petitions."

Says Triangle Man, commenting on the last post.

When 4 or 5 are gathered against my name, I'm going to require a permit, applied for 72 hours in advance.

Sayeth Scott Walker. (Compare Jesus: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.")

The rule applies inside the Capitol, where lengthy, noisy, wild protests raged last winter. Outside the Capitol — where there have been many spontaneous gatherings of tens of thousands — the permit requirement kicks it at 100. Even worse:
Groups holding demonstrations could be charged for the costs of having extra police on hand for the event. Costs associated with a counterprotest could be charged to that second group. The costs would be $50 per hour per Capitol Police officer - costs for police officers from outside agencies would depend on the costs billed to the state. The police could require an advance payment as a requirement for getting a permit and also could require liability insurance or a bond....

Any damage or cleanup after a demonstration could be charged to organizers. During the court fight earlier this year over access to the Capitol, Walker's administration said the demonstrators had done $7.5 million in damage to the building with the signs and other wear and tear. But almost immediately the administration sharply backpedaled from that claim, conceding the damage was significantly less.
Conservative politicians, forced to meet in Madison, Wisconsin, have the problem that the sudden, troublesome crowds consist overwhelmingly of their antagonists. The Governor's seemingly neutral rules obviously fall heavily on his opponents. The stricter the limitations — and these are absurdly strict — the more non-neutral they really are. But even if you can pretend these rules are as neutral as they look on the surface and need only be reasonable to satisfy the First Amendment, these rules are plainly unreasonable.

This is craven repression and a shocking violation of free speech rights.

December 1, 2011

"And... my video is now leaking like an old tampon."

Tweets Lady Gaga... feigning displeasure or actually displeased that her new video is available on line.

ABA Journal, listing 100 law blogs, identifies 2 as "conservative" and none as "liberal."

The 2 identified as conservative are mine and Volokh Conspiracy.

Do you find that odd?

ADDED: Here's email I sent in response to email sent to me by an ABA Journal editor:
Thanks for responding.

Your description of my blog is embarrassingly inaccurate. What "altercation" are you even talking about? The one where I was filming other people arguing and a man suddenly assaulted me? You portray me as jumping at every chance to say conservative things, but I've blogged about why I voted for Obama, written continually in support of same-sex marriage since the first month of my blog, written in support of abortion [rights], and many, many other things that challenge conservative readers. And my comments section has many liberal readers who argue with the conservatives. I resent the crude label, which wasn't imposed on any other bloggers.

You "admire" my blog, but you don't know much about it. As for "reader engagement," I believe you do admire/envy that, and I think that is why I was included on the list. I have the capacity to send traffic to your website, which, I would assume, is the main reason you do a top 100 list and set up a voting process.

I am not impressed. And I really don't care about amends you "may" make next year. You have embarrassing material in your supposedly professional journal that is out there festering right now.

"RJ Reynolds v. FDA and the Hidden Danger of Denying Free Speech Protection to Corporations."

Aaron Worthing has an excellent post about the litigation over the FDA rules requiring new warning labels on cigarettes.

IN THE COMMENTS: caplight said:
This is great, so now the government can require abortionists to post pictures of the developmental stages of a human being in utero and pictures of chopped up baby parts. Oh, and the link between abortion and breast cancer too.

"But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers..."

"... for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them."

37 Christmas trees in the White House.

And, yes, they persist in calling them "Christmas trees"... as if they hadn't noticed how divisive such terminology can be... in Wisconsin.

"If I see somebody who’s earning over $50,000 a year, who has made the calculated decision not to buy health insurance..."

"I’m looking at somebody who is absolutely as irresponsible as anybody who was ever on welfare."
Because what they’ve said is, a) I’m gambling that I won’t get sick, and b) I’m gambling that if I do get sick, I can cheat all my neighbors.

Now when you talk to hospitals, a very significant part of their non-collectables are people who have money, but have calculated that it’s not worth the cost to collect it.

And so I’m actually in favor of finding a way to say, if you’re above whatever — whatever the appropriate income level is, you oughtta have either health insurance, or you oughtta post a bond. But we have no right, we have no right in this society, to have a free-rider approach if you’re well off economically, to say we’ll cheat our neighbors.
Who said it?

"My Governor's a Jedi."

I don't know about your governor, but...

(Via yoSAMite says.)

A little lunch hour shopping?

Some gift ideas in the book category.

Kindle books... daily deal.

A nice Kindle "Fire."

And everything else at Amazon.

The 2012 presidential race was supposed to be really expensive, but it's been incredibly cheap.

The reason is obvious: It's been done with debates.

Wouldn't it be funny if after all the hand-wringing and Constitution-violating drama about getting the money out of politics, the problem solved itself, because televised debates replaced all the in-person campaigning? And, at some point, viral web ads, boosted by reporting, should become more important than those paid ads on television... the ones we fast-forward through, unless we decide to watch them, the way we decide to watch the things on the internet, like this:

If you'd called something "unadultered complete nonsense"...

... would you highlight that phrase in a self-promoting ad?

You would if you were Wisconsin legislator Brett Hulsey, who's made himself the central character in his new ad against Governor Scott Walker. And the non-word "unadultered" is not the most embarrassing thing about the ad:
The ad continues with Hulsey saying, "I stood up to Gov. Walker. I went to his press conference and said, 'What you have just heard is unadultered [sic] complete nonsense.'"

... The governor did hold a news conference that day, but Hulsey never directly confronted him. What actually happened was that Hulsey waited until the governor had left the room, took over the podium and directed his comments to reporters.
ADDED: I Googled "unadultered" and the first hit took me to some unbelievably evil song lyrics apparently written by a band significant enough to have a Wikipedia page. I have no idea whether Hulsey is into this "Illinois-based hardcore punk, grindcore, and death metal band," but sometimes song lyrics give someone the idea that a non-word is a word. It can be embarrassing. For example, maybe you thought it made sense to call something "swonderful."

IN THE COMMENTS: David said:
Althouse speaks the pompatus of truth.

Building a better thermostat...

The Nest Learning Thermostat.
You can also use a free iPhone or Android app, from anywhere you happen to be, to see the current temperature and change it — to warm up the house before you arrive, for example....

Over the course of a week or so, the thermostat learns from your manual adjustments. It notes when that happened, and what the temperature and humidity were, and so on. And it begins to set its own schedule based on your living patterns.
When you set a new temperature, it tells you how long it will take for the room to reach that temperature, which "is intended to discourage people from setting their thermostats to 90 degrees, for example, thinking that the temperature will rise to 70 faster." That is, it's smart enough to know how stupid we are. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with people?

I can't tell you how many times I have walked into a sweltering classroom and found that someone has set the temperature above 80°, presumably under the delusion that he/she was turning on a more powerful heating process. How can you be teaching/attending law school and not understand what a thermostat is?

Email: "From: Michelle Obama/Subject: Me, Barack, and Ann."

"I really hope you give this a shot."

November 30, 2011

"I'm willing to lead but I'm not willing to preside over people who are cannibals...."

"Frankly, Marianne and I could use a break."

Who said it?

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln.


"If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

"If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome."

"President Obama is coming to town solely to raise money from the richest of the rich."

OWS protest Obama.

ADDED: Non-OWS folk ticked too.

New Media Meade... on the radio, for the first time.


ADDED: The main subject is what Meade is talking about here: "Where does Brian Solomon go to get his reputation back?"

"Who cares about duplicate signatures in Wisconsin Recall?"

"Anti-recall forces will have to establish their own database and run checks for duplicates, in other words, do the government’s work for it."

AND: "Is Hulsey running for governor?" (Remember Hulsey? Hint: He used to run from...)

Need to shop?

May I recommend Amazon? (Purchases made through that link will result in a contribution to this blog, with no difference in the price you pay. Thanks for showing your appreciation that way. Believe me, I notice and am encouraged.)

ADDED: May I recommend this lens kit for iPhone 4 (and some other phones) and iPad? Wide angle, micro, and fisheye! You know my obsession with fisheye! I use this lens, which I highly recommend if you have a Nikon SLR camera. I prefer the big, harder-to-steal camera for an urban environment.

"Fiction just doesn't reach me the way nonfiction does."

"Even when nonfiction tries to be engaging by using personal narratives, I often lose patience with the details and just want the writer to get to the abstract point."

What kind of writing reaches you?
Fiction, because of the concrete details about people and things.
Fiction, when it conveys valuable abstract ideas.
Nonfiction, when there is concrete detail about people and things.
Nonfiction, when there are valuable abstract ideas. free polls 

"No political correctness, no caring about anyone's feelings... or any of that - these are just ideas, finally free..."

"... and they must (and will) be dealt with. Fortunately, people do laugh at what he says," says Crack Emcee about Patrice O'Neal:
[H]is mind is one of the best examples of why the black male experience can be so difficult to integrate into the American WASP experience. His comedy is almost an x-ray of why black guys must be contained** by the wider society - there's no barriers on his brain.
Patrice O'Neal, who died yesterday, at the age of 41.

Mark Steyn on Newt Gingrich: "It’s all ‘profoundly, dramatically deeply compelling.'"

"All the action is in the adverbs. One of my problems again with Newt is like he’s bursting with ideas that sound all as if they are coming from a self-help manual. If you remember back in his [heyday], he had something called 'The Triangle of American Progress.' And that evolved into the 'Four Pillars of American Civilization,’ which in turn expanded into the ‘Five Pillars of the Twenty-First Century.'"

Audio here.

ADDED: The bracketed "heyday" above replaces the Daily Caller's "hay day." Did you think someone's "heyday" had something to do with hay? Were you picturing something like this:

No! You are wrong:
late 16c., alteration of heyda (1520s), exclamation of playfulness or surprise, something like Mod.Eng. hurrah, apparently an extended form of M.E. interjection hey or hei (see hey). Modern sense of "stage of greatest vigor" first recorded 1751, which altered the spelling on model of day, with which this word apparently has no etymological connection.

Asking Siri "Where can I get an abortion?"

Prompted by this blog post — "10 things the iPhone Siri will help you get instead of an abortion" — I asked my iPhone "Where can I get an abortion?" and this is the answer I got:

Here's Associated Pregnancy Services. You can see that, despite what Siri says, it's not an abortion clinic. It's also "a little ways" from me, 71 miles away. A search of the Planned Parenthood site reveals that there are 2 abortion-providing clinics within 7 miles of my location and 20 within 80 miles. What's going on with Siri and abortion? I asked the same question 4 times, and each time I got only the one result that you see in the screen shot.

"The Longest Argument Ever."

This is the point of DVDs with extra features.

If you're amused by 2 females insulting each other and you think the more the better — when you think they can't go on any longer, they've only just begun — then this should be your thing.

Adorable rickshaw — a terrible or an awesome gift?

According to Jessica Grose at XXfactor ("What women really think"), this is a terrible gift — "completely insane" — because "even if your wealth is at Bloombergian levels, no one in the universe needs a $2,200 limited-edition rickshaw from Anthropologie.... Populist outrage is way too easy to inspire with such fripperies..."

Populist outrage? Fripperies? If that's supposed to be economic analysis... hello! Consumer spending drives the economy. The country needs people to buy things. What's with the Puritanical whining about having fun tooling around town in a colorful rickshaw? And the price is $2,200? Has Grose noticed the prices of normal bikes? This thing is a bargain! In fact, if you click through to Anthropologie, you'll see "This product is no longer available." I'm not surprised. It's totally adorable. I had fantasies of riding around Madison in the passenger seat of this thing. Why, it would be the perfect gift for Meade!

What women really think... You tell me: Who's speaking The Mind of the Woman: me or Jessica Grose?

Whatever happened to Occupy [Your City]?

The Occupy movement seems to have dropped out of the news lately. Why did that happen? I think the people are still out there, but the coverage is mostly gone. There is this Drudge-linked AP report about campers in LA and Philadelphia getting rousted by the police. That's a news event — cops in riot gear, people arrested — and it's covered. What's missing is all the attention to the demands and critiques of the protesters — the political substance of the movement.

I'm guessing that the expression of the protesters — in form and substance — wasn't serving the interests journalists favor. Excessively left-wing speech coming out of an angry/confused/unclean face... it's not helping the mainstream Democrats.

"For a time, our culture celebrated the rebel and the outsider."

"The most miserable of my correspondents fit this mold. They were forever in revolt against the world and ended up sourly achieving little."

One of the conclusions made by David Brooks after reading the essays he solicited from readers over 70, assessing the successes and failures of their lives. (Oddly, the man who gave himself an "F" in everything seems to be the most interesting person.)

Bloggingheads collapses.

Essentially. Remnants will remain, but, basically, it was never economically viable. Here's the whole clip explaining it, and here's the most interesting part saying it's particularly hard to build a site based on putting ideologically adverse interlocutors together:

Bob Wright says that "you need huge numbers" to monetize a website adequately, and the sites with big traffic, Bob says, are the ones where like-minded people get together — "where you just sit around and tell each other how stupid people on the outside are."

Mickey Kaus offers the theory that video is the problem: Video commentary is never going to get as many hits as text. Bob concedes: "Video is an inefficient medium." That's sad for Bloggingheads, but wonderful, really. There was a time when we thought that the future of humankind was staring at televisions. The web has revived reading. People prefer to look at text. I find it hard to watch any kind of video commentary or reporting, but I read it for hours a day.

As a blogger, I interact with text fluidly, copying this and that and pasting it interwoven with my writing. You can make a clip from a Bloggingheads video, but finding something you want to clip entails putting up with a lot of yammering, with the hope that you might find something you'd like to write about. With text, you can see from a distance — e.g., Drudge or Memeorandum or a Google alert — whether you even want to click over to a page. If you do, you can instantly scan it, search for key words, focus on the interesting parts, and copy the bits you want to riff on. And your post is up and creating new text-based effects of its own.

Another problem Bob talks about is that his "heads" — often writers and academics — had endless problems dealing with the technology involved in video recording their performance and sending the file to Bloggingheads to be made into their nice, split-screen presentation. It's easy to screw up, even if you have a Mac with a built-in camera and QuickTime software. I've botched recordings and then needed to redo them. (Oddly, the redone videos were, in both cases — here and here — particularly good: The dry run improved the performance.) Because of the technical issues, Bloggingheads employed 5 assistants. No wonder it wasn't economically viable!

It wasn't just that the various 'heads were technically inept and in need of expensive hand-holding. The 'heads were nearly all print-based folks. Writers. They weren't oriented to video. They made little effort to look and sound interesting on camera. When I was on, I tried to get back-and-forth action going for the sake of the viewer, but most of the 'heads would take turns making long-winded statements while the other stared blankly into the camera.

The key Bloggingheads technology was the split screen, but if the nonspeaker does nothing, you might as well have edited video — technically easy to do — showing one speaker and then the other. You could take out all the pauses and boring stuff too. But then the immediacy is lost, the thrill of real-time interaction. But it was that very thrill that made most 'heads boring! Writers, speaking, with no ability to edit? That tends to result the kind of talking that reminds me of the way I spoke when I tried to use a Dictaphone, back in the days when professionals didn't do their own typing.

Anyway, Bob says he's going to concentrate on blogging now, and he's going to be blogging at The Atlantic, which is a great perch. So, congratulations on that.

And goodbye to Bloggingheads as we've known it.

November 29, 2011

At the Museum Café...

... you can talk all night.

Cain "reassessing."

"We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth...."
It’s also taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine... Any time you put another cloud of doubt, unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, for some people, you’re guilty until proven innocent. And so, the public will have to decide whether they believe her or whether they believe me. That’s why we’re going to give it time, to see what type of response we get from our supporters.
IN THE COMMENTS: mccullough has a theory:
I'm guessing that Cain asked this woman to come forward and tell about their affair so he could have an excuse to get out of the race.

He never had any serious intention of being President.

"The only career I wanted — as his wife — was just beginning!"

Meade sent me that a propos of the discussion the other day about the little girl who said "When I’m a mom I’m not going to get a job. I’m just going to look after my children." There are 249 comments at the moment on that thread, many of them very good, but let me pull out one that's stuck in my head. Jessica said:
Thank you, Ann! Eight months ago I left Big Law (and a $200,000) salary to stay home with my daughter. After we tallied all the economic costs of working (extra car, extra gas, work wardrobe, dry cleaning, child care, increased meals at restaurants) and the utility costs (a hectic and stressful life, and a shallow and reduced role in my daughter's life), our choice could not have been more clear. Thanks for making the point!
I'd identify the artist, but Meade doesn't remember where he found it, and Googling the text, the closest I can get is Comically Vintage, which takes comic panels out of context. It's clever and often hilarious — e.g., this ("I... don't understand it! It feels so... so... hot!") — but I'd like to know the original context and the artist's name.

Elvis Costello finds himself "unable to recommend this lovely item to you as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire."

The statement is, of course, getting far more publicity for his fancy gift box of 3 CDS, vinyl record, concert DVD, and book — which you can buy for $202 here — than some effort urging you to buy the darned thing. A nice publicity gambit, since people — including Drudge — have fallen for it. Elvis thinks you'd be better off paying $150 for this collection of 10 Louis Armstrong CDS. Which is probably true, making you like him all the more... and want to buy his boxed set because he's so amusingly self-effacing.

Shopping for toys?

Here are some links:
Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals Week.

Amazon's Holiday Toy List.
ADDED: I'd get this: Crayon Maker.

"The climate religion fades in spasms of anger and twitches of boredom."

Bret Stephens characterizes belief in cataclysmic global warming as a religion and examining how religions die:
As with religion, it is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term "climate change" when thermometers don't oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other "deniers." And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit....

Religions are sustained in the long run by the consolations of their teachings and the charisma of their leaders. With global warming, we have a religion whose leaders are prone to spasms of anger and whose followers are beginning to twitch with boredom. Perhaps that's another way religions die.
That's it: It's a religion devoid of consolations.

"If you are a Democrat or independent who has lost confidence in Mr. Obama, what might you like about Mr. Romney?"

"You might like that he's proved himself successful in business. You might find that especially attractive if you are someone who has lost your job or worry that you might lose your job."

William McGurn, in the WSJ, commenting on Obama's supposed abandonment of the working class.

Chris Christie asks Obama: "What the hell are we paying you for?"

Calls him a "bystander."

Women's racist rant on a London train goes viral... and now she's been arrested.

Here's the report of her arrest. Here's the clip, posted 2 days ago, with almost 7,000 comments.

Here's the Metafilter discussion, where one commenter says "I'm ambivalent about this in that there is a part of me that doesn't want to feel any sympathy for her at all... [b]ut there's a tinge of pitchforkery (jumped on by the usually deeply racist media) that gives me huge pause for thought" and links to this aggregration of Tweets:
[O]n Twitter, the righteous have massed. The Twitter Hunters are in favour of shooting the mother and leaving her child possibly orphaned. Some order a hit. Others want her to be sent to Africa where intolerant blacks will judge her. Others want “the slag” raped. Intolerance will not be tolerated.

"I don't really want to get into the sexual assault stuff at all."

"What I'm amazed by is how these alders apparently pack away the booze."

So begins a forum, over at Isthmus, about "the Solomon situation." At the factual level, this story is very intra-Madison. (A city clerk staffer accused Madison Alderman Brian Solomon of sexual assault, the D.A. declined to charge him, and there's a detail-filled police report.) I'm wary of sending you over there (to another Isthmus forum) unless you're very intra-Madison, but I'm fascinated by a few things: how Democrats close ranks around one of their own, how much these people drink together, and the hypocrisy about feminist matters. There's some good participation by Meade, pointing out how differently Democrats treated conservative Justice David Prosser last summer, when he was accused of "choking" his female colleague.

Oxford University Press bows to pressure from religionists...

... who were offended by an essay that said something wrong about Rama.
The press was sued in India over distribution of the essay and -- according to court documents cited in the letter sent to the press Monday and to Indian press reports -- apologized for having distributed the essay. Oxford press officials were quoted as telling the court hearing the suit: "Our client further wish to assure your client that as publishers of long standing and repute, it has been their conscious endeavour to respect the plurality of Indian culture in all publishing activities which they undertake and very much regret that the essay in question has inadvertently caused your client distress and concern."

November 28, 2011

At the Hot Soup Café...


... you can hang out all night.

Recall Walker organizers say they have 300,000 signatures.

They need 540,208 by January 17th.
Organizers' signature counts can't be independently verified. The petitions won't be submitted for verification before organizers have gathered more than the required total of signatures.

Oscar Wilde to be protected from kisses...

... on his tomb.

In "A Woman of No Importance," Oscar Wilde wrote about kissing:
MRS. ALLONBY. You think there is no woman in the world who would
object to being kissed?

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"The Democrat Party is just abandoning white working class voters."

"The Democrat Party is punting. The Democrat Party is saying, 'Sayonara, we don't care.' They are going after the welfare state full-fledged. They are going after the entitlement mentality people in this country full-fledged. They're not making any pretenses."

That's Rush Limbaugh, today, interpreting a story in the New York Times by Thomas Edsall called "The Future of the Obama Coalition."
"All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment -- professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists -- and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic."
That's Edsall. Rush says:
I am not surprised that this is their coalition. I'm just stunned that they're so publicly admitting it.... [T]o come out here and have it admitted to in the New York Times is almost a matter of pride and brilliant strategy. What this means is the white working class is the Tea Party. The white working class has abandoned the Democrat Party, is what this means. This is the old Reagan Democrat coalition in part. White working class people had decided that they're voting Republican. That's who voted in the 2010 midterms.

"People say, 'Stalin's daughter, Stalin's daughter,' meaning I'm supposed to walk around with a rifle and shoot the Americans."

"Or they say, 'No, she came here. She is an American citizen.' That means I'm with a bomb against the others. No, I'm neither one. I'm somewhere in between. That 'somewhere in between' they can't understand."

Josef Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, AKA Lana Peters, dead... in Wisconsin.

Herman Cain "made it very intriguing," says Ginger White.

"It was fun. It was something that took me away from my humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting."

I don't know if it happened or not... or what "it" even is, but... that description... it's the old adultery story, a routine story: It was exciting because it took me away from the routine. But, ironically, Ginger, that is the routine story of adultery.

Teaching school kids how to debate about politics.

It's a great idea... if you can do it right.
[University of Wisconsin-Madison education professor Diana Hess] is a nationally renowned expert on curriculum and instruction with a special focus on helping teachers in the art of leading students in effective, respectful debate of controversial topics. A key motivator: her research shows that high school students are more open-minded and intellectually flexible than adults.

"A lot of parents want schools to reflect their own ideological views," Hess says in an interview. "I argue that parents shouldn't want that. If they do, they need to rethink why they have their kids in school.

"It's not to suggest schools should be working against parents' values," she continues, "but we want schools to be ideologically diverse places. That's how we educate citizens."
Reading that, I can't help worrying that what teachers will really try to do is indoctrinate students in liberal ideology. Can we trust them to put the development of young minds first? Or will they take advantage of their "intellectually flexible" minds and the opportunity to displace conservatism that parents may have instilled.
The backdrop, of course, is one in which political incivility and intolerance seems ever more toxic in Wisconsin and across the nation. Hess agrees that the culture outside schools is more polarized than when she started focusing on the subject in 1997.
But it was specifically teachers who were at the core of the Wisconsin protests, vilifying conservatives.

And as for parents needing "to rethink why they have their kids in school." Let's be clear: Schooling is compulsory. The government forces parents to send their children to school. (Yeah, they have a right to opt out of public school if they can swing it, but it's not easy and schooling is still required.) Teachers should never forget that they have their students trapped in their classroom by the force of law.

But sure, let's teach kids how to talk about controversial issues, support their arguments, and listen to divergent opinions respectfully and critically.

“Fighting is what redneck people do.”

Police not swayed by excuse.

We're alive!

Deer congregate for the great end-of-deer-hunting-season celebration.

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"Canada will be a pariah globally if it goes through with this."

Says Green Party Leader Elizabeth May about this "very damaging act of sabotage" that "will reverberate around the world."

The era of Barney Frank...

... is over.

Law schools use search engines and Facebook to check out applicants.

According to a Kaplan Test Prep survey, 41% of law school admissions officers admit it.
Mathiew Le, director of admissions at the University of Washington School of Law, thinks the validity and reliability of information found on the Internet is questionable.
You think? But the information on law school applications might be a little questionable too (once you get past official transcripts and test scores).

The disgraced psychologist Diederik Stapel, whose findings people found so intriguing.

But they're only intriguing when you believe he really did a study producing the result.
According to [Tilburg University's] interim report, Stapel's typical modus operandi was to team up with a student or colleague to design a study to test one of the collaborator’s own hypotheses. He would then purport to carry out the study and process the data by himself or with an unknown assistant. He then provided the processed data file – which, in reality, was often entirely fabricated – to the collaborator for analysis.

One student who persistently requested access to the raw data was accused by the disgraced scholar of "calling his capacities and experience as a renowned professor into question." But collaborators typically regarded Stapel's processing as a "service," and the "close bonds" he often formed with them tended to minimize their suspicion. "The last thing that colleagues, staff and students would suspect is that, of all people, the department's scientific star, and faculty dean, would systematically betray that trust," the report says.
It's not enough that Stapel is disgraced. The collaborators are also to blame. And look at this effort to at explaining Stapel, from Stephen Reicher, a professor in the University of St. Andrews School of Psychology:
Stapel's "path to corruption" was partly a symptom of the "commodification" of the academy and the pressure to publish. "Publication becomes an end in itself. You don’t have to believe in what you found, you just have to get it out," [Reicher] said. "You become more Machiavellian in how you [do that]: it is a slippery slope."
It's nice that this psychologists have a hypothesis about the psychology of the corruption of psychologists. Maybe they could design a study to test it.

The art professor who photographs himself — with his students — "in various stages of undress, enacting sexually charged (and sometimes classical) scenes."

At Michigan State University, they're talking about Professor Danny Guthrie. Check out his photographs here. He says:
In the last couple of decades many female artists have investigated the personal landscape of their sexuality, as a means to seize control of their own representation within a culture milieu whose imaging of women has a long track record of idealization and exploitation. Taking my cue from this work, through direct and indirect references to classical painting and photography, my intent is to acknowledge these various traditions and debates, twisting and blurring the codes of classical aesthetics, contemporary rhetorically motivated art, and even erotica.
Ah! So he's riffing on those feminist artists. 
In particular, I want the viewer to know I am investigating a history and practice of representation where the roles of viewer and viewed, seducer and object of seduction, are examined and perturbed. In short, I hope to move beyond simplistic notions of viewer and victim, exploring the possibility of a complicated exchange of power that informs the way these pictures come about.
But then... to use students....
Such collaboration involves considerable risk-taking and trust. The images do not mean I have this or that fantasy about a particular individual or situation, but they do explore emotions that I -- and I assume most others -- have felt.
So... the controversy is part of the art. 

Despite unemployment, there is a shortage of applicants for skilled jobs.

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the problem of unfilled job openings:
Union Pacific struggles to find enough electricians who have worked with diesel engines. Manufacturers in many places can't find enough machinists. Oil companies must fight for a limited supply of drilling-rig workers.

"There's a tremendous shortage of skilled workers," said Craig Giffi, a vice chairman of the consulting firm Deloitte. A recent survey it did found that 83% of manufacturers reported a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers to hire.

The extent and significance of the skills gap is hotly debated in economics circles, in part because of its policy implications. If companies aren't hiring primarily because of limited demand for their products or services, the standard policy prescription offered is some form of stimulus, such as lower interest rates or taxes, or more spending. But to the extent that the problem is companies' inability to find the workers they need, the remedy might instead be training or other efforts to help workers get the skills.

Most research suggests the sluggish economy is the biggest reason for the weak labor market. Data show the skills gap doesn't exist in whole industries but in specific jobs, including certain heavy-duty blue-collar ones.
This reminds me of the revelation — in Ron Suskind's book "Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President" — that, back in 2007, Obama and his advisers talked about emphasizing jobs that would reinforce masculine pride. (That led them to the rebuilding infrastructure proposal.)

According to the Wall Street Journal article, large numbers of skilled laborers are retiring these days and it's difficult to replace them in part because of the lack of high-school level vocational training. Consider all the money dumped into college tuition; young people could be getting free training in high school for "secure, well-paying jobs with good benefits... don't require a college degree."

"I believe in what I’m doing wholeheartedly, passionately, and what’s more, I simply go about my business. I suppose such a thing can be annoying to some people."

Thank you, Ken Russell, for that insight, and for committing passionately to your business. Carrying on without the great filmmaker — dead now at 84 — maybe we can can go about our business, with a little more passion and a little less attention to how annoying we are to some people.

For many years — through the 1980s and 1980s — I had a fixed list of 5 films that were my personal favorites. 2 were Ken Russell films: "Mahler" and "The Devils."*
His 1971 film “The Devils,” based on real events that had inspired a play by John Whiting and a book by Aldous Huxley, tells the grotesque story of demonic possession at a French convent, complete with exorcism rituals and blasphemous orgies. Mr. Russell, who converted to Catholicism in the 1950s, saw the film as an attack on the corrupt union of church and state.

The American funders and the British censors called for cuts. The Catholic Church condemned the movie when it was screened at the Venice Film Festival. Even in its edited version, the film was banned by several local authorities in Britain; it was further trimmed in the United States to avoid an X-rating....

Reviewing “The Devils” in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called Mr. Russell “a hobbyist determined to reproduce ‘The Last Supper’ in bottle tops.” Pauline Kael called him a “shrill, screaming gossip.”

Mr. Russell was not above fighting back. Appearing on live television shortly after the release of “The Devils” with the British critic Alexander Walker, who had denounced the film as “monstrously indecent,” Mr. Russell hit him on the head with a rolled-up newspaper.
I don't think there's a decent "Devils" DVD, or I'd order it right now. Wikipedia — with "citation needed" — says: "The British Film Institute have announced they will release the UK-theatrical Version (111 minutes) on DVD in March 2012."

I wish, when a great director dies, HBO (or some other TV channel) would put all his movies up on Video on Demand. I hesitate to link to the trailer for the movie because it's such a pathetic trailer.

I can't even find the rolled-up-newspaper incident on YouTube.

* The other 3 were: "Aguirre the Wrath of God," "My Dinner with Andre," and "City of Women."

November 27, 2011

At the Question Mark Café...

Mother Fool's

... I wonder what you can talk about.

Censored political slogan: "Tired of vegetables? Vote for [APPLE]."

The Moscow Times reports:
The head of the Moscow metro ordered election ads for the opposition party Yabloko [Russian for "apple"] to be removed...

"I understand the resentment of Mr. Besedin who was offended by the fact that a category of organisms, to which he belongs, is featured as something people are fed up with," Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin said...

"What If Our Daughters Don't Want to Work?"

Writes Dorothy Pomerantz (in Forbes), whose 7-year-old daughter said to her "When I’m a mom I’m not going to get a job. I’m just going to look after my children." Asked why, the daughter — at age 7 — showed a dramatically astute understanding of economics: She's going to marry a guy who wants to work full time, and if she works too, they'll have to hire a babysitter for their children.

At this point, you'd think the mother would praise the young girl for thinking on such a sophisticated level. Instead, she frets first about whether the daughter has perceived the mother's inadequacies and failed to learn that a woman "can work and be fulfilled professionally and have children."  Then she goes on about the importance of changing the workplace "so that both parents will be recognized as equal caregivers and employees will be encouraged to find balance and have lives outside of the office."

What's so bad about division of labor, with one parent out in the world making the money, competing vigorously, and the other home-based, controlling and avoiding expenses? Especially if you consider the tax consequences — which the 7-year-old probably hasn't analyzed yet — it's much more efficient for the husband and the wife to adopt different roles. Either the husband or the wife can be the home-based spouse.

And note how Pomerantz assumes that careers are fulfilling. Often, they are not. And anything you do consumes your time and energy. If you do one fulfilling thing, you're doing less of something else that might be fulfilling. I should think many women — and men — would get great satisfaction out of avoiding a life of money-making and concentrating on conserving the money the career-spouse brings home, raising lovely children, cooking delicious meals, developing the couple's social connections, and so forth. The benefits to the working spouse in that arrangement are obvious.

Politico's most sycophantic headline ever?

"Obama's toughest critic: Obama."

"Bush would be regarded as a lefty today."

From Crack Skull Bob, documenting this morning's talking heads:

Brilliant, as always. I love the Jon Huntsman:

See and read the whole thing.

The recall Scott Walker election will cost the state $650,000 — "with potentially millions of dollars more in costs for local governments."

They don't have the signatures yet to force the election, and the question of the cost of the election has probably just about zero effect on whether anyone signs the petition:
Top Republicans say they're assuming recall organizers will get the signatures they need and are putting their energies into winning the recall election that would follow. They said Walker and Republican lawmakers solved a $3 billion budget gap over two years without relying on tax increases and shouldn't lose their offices to a "baseless partisan power-grab."
The linked article (in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) describes the signature effort, which includes a "group of about 80 volunteers... working in shifts of six to eight people to collect signatures on a series of high-traffic Madison streets that are wide enough to let a steady stream of cars pull over." They pull in an average of 400 signatures a day, we're told. My arithmetic says that "steady stream" is 1 car every 10 minutes... not counting the cars that stop but don't sign. Apparently, some pro-Walker drivers stop to waste the volunteers' time, yell at them, and even — in one case — rip up a petition. (Ripping up a petition is criminal, and the volunteers take down the license plate number and report the crime to the police.)

Meanwhile, some anti-Walkerites are worried the signature drive will fall short.
I fear the recall is going to fall short. People are not outside in public areas in cold months. People stay home, or they drive to grocery stores, theaters and shopping malls. The problem is that this is private property, controlled by generally pro-Walker business owners.

Maybe a door-to-door effort will be necessary. But that is unpleasant, hard work.
Unpleasant, hard work? Why?
The best hope, as I see it, is door-to-door. But that takes great courage, this is a volatile issue. People in smaller cities will be reluctant to rock the local boat. There are violent threats in seemingly safe public spaces, better bring some security door-to-door.
Bring some security?! Over at the link — at the Isthmus — Meade writes:
Security? What?!! You mean like you're going to show up at my door with two big bruisers standing behind you? Wait. Believe me - that will not get you invited in.

Look: just ring my doorbell politely. I'll ask you to come in. We'll sit down by the fire and I'll brew a big pot of tea. I'll bring you your nice cup of tea - Red Zinger, Sleepytime, whatever you choose - and then I'll listen very politely as you answer each and every one of my questions.
Of course, it's the Isthmus, Madison's weekly tabloid, where the assumption is that anyone not on the left is stupid, so Meade's humor goes undetected:
You can hardly expect a group of people to spend time with you, they have to keep moving. Try Dane County Social Services if you require a case worker.
I know, I know - time is money.


Back in my day, we took the time to dialog with people. And share feelings. That was back when we got Clean For Gene. I know - a long long time ago.

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"Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca get into a fight on stage at the 2011 CFL Alumni Legends Luncheon in Vancouver."

"It appears there is still some Bad blood between these two after a controversial hit on the field nearly 48 years ago."

Who starts it? Kapp, who hands Mosca flowers, or Mosca, who replies "Stick it up your ass"? Kapp, who re-offers the flowers, right in the face, or Mosca, who clobbers him? I blame Kapp, because those are insultingly scraggly flowers.