February 4, 2012

Aaron Rodgers wins NFL MVP.

He's still not in the Super Bowl, but... nice.

"Romney holds large lead in Nevada."

"With 9% of the results in, Romney had about 45% of the vote while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas were tied far behind with 22% each. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who had largely bypassed the state, had 11% of the vote. Those numbers were gathered from vote counters at caucus sites across the state."

At the Monitor Café...

Photo on 2-2-12 at 9.06 PM

... if you let the light shining from you computer screen be your only light, you may lose the uniqueness that is you.

"While Americans fret over modern parenthood, the French are raising happy, well-behaved children without all the anxiety."

"Pamela Druckerman on the Gallic secrets for avoiding tantrums, teaching patience and saying 'non' with authority."

That's a column, but I'm not surprised to see it a book. Another book in the "Tiger Mother" genre — about other cultures' superior child-rearing methods. It's here — "Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting" — in case you'd like to buy it. It's also in the "French Women Don't Get Fat" genre — the "French is better" genre.

"The cat is a living human animal and doesn't deserve to be basically murdered...."

So said Circuit Judge David Hansher, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The cat is a living human animal!?

Anyway, the judge sent a man to jail for 6 months for killing a stray cat who was damaging his property. When people kill feral animals on their property, it's inflammatory to call it "murder." The method of killing the cat sound horrible — swinging it by the tail and cracking its head — but the man discovered the cat living in his vacant rental property, where it had been "urinating and defecating all over and tearing up furniture":
He told Hansher that he opened the doors and windows and tried to chase the animal outside, but that it instead hid under the kitchen sink. He said he tried to grab it by the neck but could only reach the tail, and once he pulled it out, the cat began viciously clawing and biting at him.
The judge said: "It's abhorrent and repulsive what you did... I'd rather have an armed robber in front of me than someone like you."


What is the truth about the Susan G. Komen foundation and Planned Parenthood?

There's a huge lump of politics, rhetoric, emotion, and ideology here — and here — and I'm not ready to make a diagnosis.

Milwaukee man with a concealed-carry permit shoots a robber in a store... but the store had a sign prohibiting weapons.

Should the man who stopped the robber be charged for bringing the weapon into the store? The DA has decided not to charge the man, Nazir Al-Mujaahid:
Fearing for the safety of himself, his wife and others in the store, he said, he unholstered his semi-automatic 9mm handgun, cocked it and kept it down at his side as he motioned another customer behind the robber to move away.

When the robber turned the shotgun toward him, Al-Mujaahid said, he fired six or seven shots from about 20 feet away. He said he hit the suspect in the leg and forehead. The robber then dropped the shotgun and bag, and fled the store....
(I guess that says something about a 9mm handgun. Hitting the robber in the forehead seems to have merely changed his mind.)
[Al-Mujaahid] said he did not notice the sign at Aldi prohibiting weapons in the store, and that if he had, he would have gone elsewhere. He said since he began to carry a concealed gun, he has stopped from going into other businesses where he did see the sign.
Okay, now what is the effect of those signs? Are they meaningless when we're happy about the use of the gun?

From the comments at the link:
This person illegally carried a weapon into a public store which prohibits firearms. Now he want to be a hero? What a pathetic loser, fine example of why CC is a failed policy. The ends do not justify the means. Nazir should be happy he did not get killed himself.
NOTE: As a matter of the law on the books, it's defined as a crime to violate those "no weapons" signs, even if you have a concealed-carry permit.

"A burbled value of $100 billion would price [Facebook] at an earnings multiple of 100 to one."

"Fast-growing Apple is currently valued at 13 to one. Google is valued at 20 to one. Facebook isn't LinkedIn or eToys or even Google."
Like a bank, it must care about its dignity and an image for stability because of its intimate relationship of trust with its 845 million members, who know their unparalleled cache of personal information is about to turn Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg into a billionaire 24 times over.

So far, Mr. Zuckerberg and colleagues have been more cautious in exploiting customer data than they get credit for. But let us be frank: There is no way the company can grow into such a gargantuan market value by adding even hundreds of millions of new members if it continues to extract only $1 in profit per year per user.
ADDED: In evaluating the worth of Facebook, can we take their judgment in interior design into account?

That is Facebook's own photo, so they are not ashamed to go out into the world looking like that. Disturbing! Those paper lanterns projecting out into the doorway or stuck back behind a trashcan and a rolling chair. The diagonal stripes on the carpet and continuing — miniaturized and de-diagonalized — on one wall. The horrid clock as the only thing hanging on the wall. I couldn't work in an environment like that, and yet the 2 individuals sitting on that crappy brown sectional couch are both billionaires. And they are billionaires in the business of creating something that will occupy the visual field of hundreds of millions of human beings. Something is terribly wrong!

The NYT "pounced on a murky tale about a star athlete" instead of "the erosion of due process at Yale and throughout American higher education."

Writes Peter Berkowitz in the Wall Street Journal:
The [sexual assault] complaint lodged against [quarterback Patrick] Witt was part of a new system for dealing with sexual-assault accusations at Yale. The school put the system in place at least partly in response to an investigation by the Department of Education stemming from allegations in early 2011 that Yale maintains a campus atmosphere hostile to women. Under the new system, the Times reported, Mr. Witt's accuser chose to file an informal complaint, which does not involve a full investigation or a finding of guilt or innocence....

February 3, 2012

"My entire taxable income, plus some, went to the payment of taxes."

"This does not include real estate taxes, sales taxes and other taxes I paid for 2010."

Oh? We should care? He's 1%. He should pay. Jesus wants him to pay.

Anyway, the key word is "taxable." Throw all the deductions back in and he's only paying 20%. Obviously, then, he should be paying even more. Jesus wants him to pay more.
"For me as a Christian, it... coincides with Jesus's teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required," Obama said, quoting the Gospel of Luke.

"If they began this project where they want it to go — between San Francisco and Los Angeles..."

"... they would run into so much opposition from the environmentalists, and from local politicians influenced by the environmentalists, that the delays could take the high-speed rail advocates beyond the time limit for using the federal subsidy money. But the green fanatics have not yet taken over politically out in the San Joaquin Valley."

Writes Thomas Sowell about the high-speed rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield, California.
In other words, they are going to start wasting money out in the valley, so that they will be able to waste more money later on, along the coast. This may not make any sense economically, but it can make sense politically for Jerry Brown and Barack Obama.

Scott Walker supporters advocate writing in Scott Walker's name in the primary that will determine who will be his recall opponent.

A devious notion!
It started as a conversation on Facebook, but less than a week ago [it became] the page Operation: Write in Scott Walker in Democrat Primary...
And it's got 834 "likes" as I write this.
Wisconsin's system of open primaries means voters do not have to share a political party's affiliation to vote in its primary. So, there's nothing to stop Republicans from voting in a Democratic recall primary — and from writing in Walker's name.

If this effort were successful, it's unclear what the effect would be on the general recall election. The Government Accounability Board was contacted Friday, but didn't immediately provide an answer....

When asked about his initial impression of the write-in campaign, Wisconsin Democratic Party Spokesman Graeme Zielinksi said it was, “Surprise, then laughter.” Zielinski said the effort has no chance of succeeding.

“Republicans seem frightened by democracy and the will of the people and, given what Scott Walker has done to ruin Wisconsin, they should be,” Zielinski said.
Ha ha. I'm laughing too!

ADDED: I'm working on a parody "I'm My Own Recall Opponent," to the tune of "I'm My Own Grandpa." ("I'm My Own Grandpa" lyrics here.)

AND: I like the diagrammed version:

(The voice there is Ray Stevens. The first version, above, was Grandpa Jones. The second one... ?)

"Avoid the gruesome pitfalls of overdressing or underdressing."

"Simply dress like you are going someplace better later."

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor tells a joke about Romney and Mormons and polygamy and Gingrich.

"One is a practicing polygamist, and he's not even the Mormon."

That sounds like a joke that's just out there waiting for everyone to discover it. I find it hard to believe that she's the first person to say it... and also that she did say it.

"The NFL Has an 'L' of a Problem."

In 2016, it will be Super Bowl L... unless they give up the Roman numerals thing.

The Roman numerals got hard to read quite a while ago, but getting to the simple "L" for 50 is going to look weirder than any of the elaborate configurations of letters we've had to puzzle over — or ignore — in recent years.

What do you want to see in 2016?
Super Bowl L
Super Bowl 50
pollcode.com free polls 

"What Time Does the Superbowl Start?"

= the best-ever string of words for pulling internet traffic.

Part of the strategy is the missing space. It should be: Superb Owl.

AND: Speaking of the Super Bowl, here's Madonna:

Who doesn't want to walk along the helmeted heads of football players as if they were a cobblestone street? And... where can I get wall-sconces like that (see 2:25)?

"When Iyal is distressed, Chancer is distressed. Unlike Iyal, Chancer knows what to do about it."

"Iyal rages by crossing his arms, sitting down hard on the floor and screaming and kicking. Chancer unknots the crossed arms by inserting his wide muzzle through the locked arms from below, opening them up and nuzzling toward Iyal’s face, licking and slobbering, until the boy’s screams turn to tears of remorse or to laughter.... Chancer doesn’t know that Iyal is cognitively impaired. What he knows is that Iyal is his boy."

A dog and his boy.

Shouldn't Democrats have had a viable candidate lined up before they went to all the trouble to get a million signatures on those Recall Walker petitions?

This list of 11 potential candidates is horrifying — or hilarious, depending on how much you like Governor Scott Walker. I mean, Citizen Dave has the 11 in order, and #1 is Herb Kohl! Herb Kohl is a 76-year-old man who's retiring from the U.S. Senate after a quarter century (and very little to show for it). According to Dave, the great thing about Kohl is that he's very rich, so he can use his own money. Note the implied concession: People aren't going to want to make contributions to the other candidates. But, look, there are no donation limits in the recall election. If Kohl wants to dump his money into the election, he can hand it to whomever he wants.Maybe one of the other 10 characters on Dave's list. Maybe #6, Kathleen Falk, who is, you know, the only person on the list who's actually announced her/his candidacy.

ADDED: Here's the Government Accountability Boards memo about contributions for recall expenses. The exemption applies to money used "for the purpose of payment of legal fees and other expenses incurred in connection with the circulation, offer to file or filing, or with the response to the circulation, offer to file or filing, of a petition to recall an officer prior to the time a recall primary or election is ordered, or after that time if incurred in contesting or defending the order."

"Even if he has the proportions of a porn star..."

"... no intellectual woman with an ounce of self-respect would flop around in the mud with an imbecile like Meade."

The people over in the Isthmus forum are trying to understand Meade.

ADDED: That's from page 5 of a thread that begins with the question why the forum — called "Daily Page" forum or "TDPF" — doesn't seem to have any participants who are "non-white." By page 3, there's some bizarre race-baiting about intelligence, in which — you figure out why — it is demanded that Meade admit he is less intelligent than Barack Obama.

ALSO: If you really want to go deeply into the background here, the subject of the thread "TDPF: whites only" is a play on an earlier thread "South Carolina GOP: whites only," which began "South Carolina's population is nearly 30% black. Yet in yesterday's voting, blacks made up approximately 1% of the electorate. It's remarkable how little discussion there is about this...." In that conversation, Meade tells the good liberals of the forum that they are displaying "covert racism," and much defensive posturing ensues.

February 2, 2012

At the No Photograph Café...

This is an open thread with no photograph. I'm sorry. You should see what it's like here in Wisconsin. There's nothing to photograph. We're stuck in this slough of not-winter in mid-winter. Please! Chat with me. Dissipate the bleakness!

"Xylophone-powered pop is still a rarity and this Como track is almost entirely lost to history, even though it is a great hellzapoppin romp through falling in love."

"Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)" is #99 on the countdown of 100 greatest songs that reached #2 — but not #1! — on the Billboard list over the years going back to 1955. This is List-a-Beefy's new project. (Click on my List-a-Beefy tag to see past posts linking to the previous Top 100, which was limited to recordings that reached #1.)

"Hot Diggity" was #2 for 5 weeks in April and May of 1956. Rightfully blocking its ascent was "Heartbreak Hotel" (my favorite Elvis Presley record). I say that now. But at the time, when I was 5 years old, I adored Perry Como (and I didn't quite get Elvis Presley). I watched his television show, and I loved his very calm, gentle way of singing and speaking. This is how it looked in 1956. (Yikes! Be careful watching that. It's really wholesome.)

What proportion of libertarians...

... are just liberals who want their marijuana?

I'm talking about Americans who call themselves "libertarian" or who say they like Ron Paul and so forth...
More than 50%.
Maybe 20-50%.
Less than 5%.
pollcode.com free polls 

"Donald Trump to endorse Mitt Romney for president today in Las Vegas, sources with knowledge of endorsement tell CNN."

Email just received.

Trump's a businessman. He can see who the winner is, and he's backing the winner. Rumors were that he was going to endorse Gingrich, as if Trump is all about conservatism (and Newt constitutes the conservative). Not so!

"In truth, the art project is akin to a massive resource extraction project, and under federal law should be treated as one..."

So reads the complaint in a lawsuit brought by a group of University of Denver law students against federal land managers who approved Christo's draping fabric over 6 miles of the Arkansas River.
[I]n classifying an art project as a “recreation activity,” the suit says, the federal analysts framed their assessment in ways that excused the impact of the thousands of bore-holes, rock-bolts and anchors that will have a cumulative effect, the suit says, not unlike industrial mining.
This is a new twist on the old "what is art?" question. These law students are arguing about the art/mining distinction.

Let me add: I love Christo. I used to hate him.

"12 More Law Schools Sued Over Reporting of Law Grad Employment and Salary Stats."

ABA Journal reports:
Plaintiffs contend that they were misled by the statistics into taking on a heavy debt burden in pursuit of employment as attorneys that was much harder to find than the job stats provided by the law schools suggested. They also allege that salary figures may have been compiled from a small sample of law grads with fatter-than-average paychecks.

"That the man who wrote the song 'Say It Loud — I'm Black and I'm Proud' and who recorded the soundtrack to the Black Power movement..."

"... could scarcely comprehend that a black man like Cornelius both owned and helmed this kind of enterprise without white patronage is a testament to the magnitude and the improbability of Cornelius' achievements."

From a column at NPR.org titled "Why Don Cornelius Matters."

(Unfortunately, Don Cornelius committed suicide.)

Under the "Adopt a Vortex" program, Mini Cooper paid to have a cold front named "Cooper."

But now the cold front has caused many cases of hypothermia and frostbite and at least 100 deaths.

"She said her cat died after getting entangled in piles of Etsy fabrics..."

"... boxes of paperwork, trash and other possessions, while a dog died allegedly after swallowing a pile of Love’s pills."

Graffiti artist makes $200 million.

David Choe painted some walls at Facebook's offices in 2005 and — given a choice to be paid in dollars or company shares — took the shares.

The walls look pretty awful, by the way, but presumably they inspired the people in that place at that time, and how can you not feel good that Choe made the right choice?

The Government Accountability Board puts scanned recall petitions on line — even though the ACLU raised concerns about privacy.

The petitions show over a million names and addresses of (purported) Wisconsin citizens who (presumably) want a recall election to remove Governor Scott Walker.

I'm saying "purported" because I don't know the extent to which there are fake names or names of non-Wisconsinites in there. And I'm saying "presumably" because I don't know whether people signed their names as a result of what they truly want and whether they all understood what they were signing.

Anyway, the ACLU concern seems to be about stalkers. Some people have good reason not to want their name connected to an address in such a visible manner. In fact, I assume that there are some people who signed the petition who would not have signed if they had been warned that this would happen.

Right now, it's very hard to look up names, because the GAB website only has scanned petition PDFs up. You can't do a search for names.
Walker supporters have until Feb. 26 to challenge signatures. The Republican Party has more than 2,000 volunteers lined up to review signatures. It takes 540,208 to force a recall.
Obviously, these people could type all the names and addresses and post them on line. That would make it very easy to look up names, and I've said before that I want that so people (like me) can make sure our names were not appropriated by others and so we can look for duplicate names and suspiciously overused addresses. But since the total number of signatures submitted is so much larger than the number required, it's much less important to work at weeding out all the bad names. Not that there shouldn't be any checking. There should a process of sampling petitions to get a sense of the degree of accuracy, and if the incidence of bad signatures does not exceed, say, 5%, then we could feel confident that there are enough signatures (since nearly 50% of the signatures would need to be bad to avoid the recall election).

On the other hand, as a political matter, in fighting the recall, Walker supporters have an interest in portraying the recall effort as spurious, so if they can point to petition fraud, even if it is insufficient to avoid the election, it may help Walker win.

2 Instapundit posts show some sharp, clear things that Romney can't say... but I like picturing Romney saying.

1. Here, Instapundit deals with Romney's supposedly unfortunate remark that he's "not concerned about the very poor":
Frankly, I think he’s got a point. People whose livelihood comes from the government — whether the very poor, or the government employees — are doing fine. It’s people who depend on the actual economy who are hurting.
2. This one links to something I said to Andrew Sullivan who'd taken shot at Romney/Mormons. Instapundit then prints email from Will Collier that says:
Disclaimer: I’ve got no particular use for Romney or anybody else still running this year. That said, whenever a yahoo like Sullivan pulls the “fake friendly” Mormon card over the next year, the response ought to be this speech from the end of the (in)famous South Park “All About Mormons” episode
Look, maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life. and a great family, and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people. And even though people in this town might think that’s stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you’re so high and mighty you couldn’t look past my religion and just be my friend back. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls.

"Why are we laughing?"/"I'm not sure."

That's the last line of this montage of moments from David Letterman's 30-years of TV. That's at Gawker, and I'm seeing it this morning, so I missed the tip that there was a 30-years celebration on the show last night. I didn't record it, and I don't keep a DVR subscription to the show, a show that I watched all the time 10 years ago. Or was it 15 years ago?

February 1, 2012

Andrew Sullivan purports to know about "the Mormon mask."

"It's the kind of public presentation that a Mormon with real church authority deploys when dealing with less elevated believers, talking to them, and advising them. The cheery aw-shucks fake niceness in person is a function in part, some believe, of the role he has long played in the church: always a leader."

ADDED: Actually, he doesn't purport to know. He's just passing along some bullshit he heard.
I have no way to know whether this is true or not. But I'd love to hear from Mormon readers if this analysis of Mitt strikes them in any way as accurate.
When is it okay to spread stuff like this around? Isn't this prejudice and bigotry? Is it a special thing reserved for Mormons? For your political enemies? Test yourself out, Andrew. Imagine some friend of yours told you something like that about some other religious group. Test it with every religious group can think of, referring to political candidates that you like and dislike. Hold yourself to a neutral standard. Are you satisfied with what you've put out there?

Tim Cullen drops out of the recall-Walker race after he fails to raise a decent amount of money.

Wisconsin State Journal reports:
Cullen, a moderate who once served a top position in Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson's administration, said he wants to try to bring the two parties together. But he said a recall election against Walker would be a "non-stop political war."

"The person who comes out of that race is going to be in a terrible position to bring this state together," the 67-year-old Cullen said. "I came to Madison as a centrist and I discovered there was no center."

Cullen also faced a nearly insurmountable financial disadvantaged [sic]. He had raised just over $11,000 last year while Walker raised more than $12 million.
The recall is such a mess. Now, the only one left is former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. I wonder where she is on the money continuum between $11,000 and $12 million. Is there any serious person out there who believes the recall will be successful?

"The Romney-Paul alliance is more than a curious connection."

"It is a strategic partnership: for Paul, an opportunity to gain a seat at the table if his long-shot bid for the presidency fails; for Romney, a chance to gain support from one of the most vibrant subgroups within the Republican Party."

"When I was young I had a moment of believing in the Communist doctrine."

"I wanted to save the world through Communism. Quite soon I understood that it doesn’t work, but I’ve never pretended it didn’t happen to me. At the very beginning of my creative life I loved humanity. I wanted to do something good for mankind. Soon I understood that it isn’t possible to save mankind."

Wislawa Szymborska. RIP.

"I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly."

Writes Benjamin Nugent:
As I came into my adult personality, it became clear to me and my mother that I didn’t have Asperger syndrome....

I wonder: If I had been born five years later and given the diagnosis at the more impressionable age of 12, what would have happened?...

The authors of the next edition of the diagnostic manual, the D.S.M.-5, are considering a narrower definition of the autism spectrum. This may reverse the drastic increase in Asperger diagnoses that has taken place over the last 10 to 15 years....

The definition should be narrowed. I don’t want a kid with mild autism to go untreated. But I don’t want a school psychologist to give a clumsy, lonely teenager a description of his mind that isn’t true.
I see that Nugent has a book called "American Nerd: The Story of My People." Great title. I'm going to download it right now.

Are Japanese youths uninterested in sex?

Instapundit links to this article that cites a survey that supposedly shows that "A startling number of Japanese youths have turned their backs on sex and relationships."
CNN spoke to a Midori Saida, a 24-year-old Japanese woman who described "herbivore men" as "flaky and weak."

"We like manly men," she said. "We are not interested in those boys — at all."

BBC News spoke to one such "herbivore" man (see video above). The man, Yusaki Yakahashi said: "Building a relationship seems like too much effort. To get her to like me and for me to like her... I'd have to give up everything I do at the weekend for her. I don't want to do that."
Are we really talking about sex or relationships? I think it is quite common for individuals to feel sexual and to want sex but to opt out of relationships. They've just lost hope that relationships are worth all the effort and the negatives. I think the distinction is terribly important.

"I'm not concerned about the very poor."

Romney phrase sets off a lefty feeding frenzy.

Of course, this is completely silly. The full context is:
I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich.... I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.
The ideologues are embarrassing themselves by trying to turn this into a statement that he doesn't care about or empathize with the very poor.

ADDED: Romney handles glitter-bombing with aplomb.
“This is an exciting time. I’m happy for a little celebration. This is confetti: We just won Florida.... We’re going to win the White House next. Let me tell you, President Obama is not going to be seeing a lot of confetti.”

Gallup's state-by-state numbers look very grim for Obama.

Conn Carroll says:
If President Obama carries only those states where he had a net positive approval rating in 2011 (e.g. Michigan where he is up 48 percent to 44 percent), Obama would lose the 2012 election to the Republican nominee 323 electoral votes to 215.
Here are the details at Gallup.

"My entire life had been waiting for this moment where I would get to interact — I'm serious! — with a sloth."

AND: Kristin explains the intensity of her emotions:

It's about baby sloths.

Non-native pythons and anacondas are eating all the native mammals in the southern part of the Everglades.

WaPo reports:
The snakes are literally fighting with alligators to sit atop the swamp’s food chain. In October, a 16-foot python was found resting after devouring a deer.

“There aren’t many native mammals that pythons can’t choke down,” said Robert N. Reed, a research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geologial Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center....

The snakes were released by pet owners into the Everglades, where they started to breed....

The Obama administration recently banned the import and interstate commerce of Burmese python, two species of African pythons, and the yellow anaconda. But under pressure from the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, trade of the world’s longest snake, the reticulated python, and the boa constrictor were allowed to continue....
What's the point? Is the solution to ban pet snakes or not? If you don't have the political will to do it, why do it part way? But if the real problem is the idiots who release pets into the wild, why not punish them severely enough to get some deterrence? And yet, the problem is already out there. The swamp is full of snakes that are lunching on everything and breeding like mad.

I love the last line of the article. It's like the ending of a 1950s monster movie:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicted that a new generations of Burmese pythons on the edge of their non-native range can adapt and “expand to colder climates.”
And now... they're coming for you!

IN THE COMMENTS: ~N. quoting the article — "The snakes are literally fighting with alligators to sit atop the swamp’s food chain" — said:
Yeah. They made a movie about this.
Ah, yes! I found the fabulous trailer:

"The nation’s leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates..."

"... creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women."

The White House refuses to respond to the petition to investigate Chris Dodd, even though it got 25,000+ signatures...

... and they promised to respond, if there were that many signatures. 

To be fair, saying we're not going to respond is a kind of response. In fact, it's an especially meaningful response in the context where one is obligated to respond.

Or perhaps they were never obligated. Look at the text of the refusal to respond:
Why We Can't Comment

Thank you for signing this petition. We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on Whitehouse.gov. However, consistent with the We the People Terms of Participation and our responses to similar petitions in the past, the White House declines to comment on this petition because it requests a specific law enforcement action.
The link is in the original text. Maybe you're not supposed to click on it. Maybe you're just supposed to assume that it goes to a page of official terms of participation that would show that there was always an exception for petitions that request a specific law enforcement action. But if you click, you'll see it just goes to the currently active petitions, and if you search that page for the word "terms" or "participation," you get nothing.

I spent some time looking for the terms of participation, and I couldn't find any. What is the rule? Was it really a rule? I see a button "Helpful Hints," but the only hint is to check your spelling and grammar because you won't be allowed to edit or delete.

And what were the "similar petitions" that were rejected in the past? I'd like to see how much like those other petitions this one was and also whether all similar petitions were rejected. What if the "similar" ones were the ones that named individuals the administration chooses to protect?

January 31, 2012

Landslide... for Romney in Florida.

Says Drudge. The various cable news networks are showing Romney at 49/50% and Gingrich at 30%.

UPDATE: With the polls closed, FoxNews calls it for Romney with 48%. 31% for Newt. 13% for Santorum and 7% for Paul.

UPDATE 2: Mitt Romney's victory speech: "A competitive primary does not divide us. It prepares us." The campaign "is about saving the soul of America." He's about "restoring America's greatness." He wants you to remember "an America that is still out there.... Let's fight for the America we love. We believe in America."

"To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion..."

"... Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication."

"Newt Gingrich Robocall: Mitt Romney Forced Holocaust Survivors To Eat Non-Kosher Food."

"As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney vetoed a bill paying for kosher food for our seniors in nursing homes. Holocaust survivors, who for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher. Where is Mitt Romney's compassion for our seniors? Tuesday you can end Mitt Romney's hypocrisy on religious freedom, with a vote for Newt Gingrich. Paid for by Newt 2012."

That Gingrich: He's a survivor.

"I’ve kept silent all these years because I didn’t want to hurt any of these [big Hollywood stars]."

"And I never saw the fascination. So they liked sex how they liked it. Who cares?"

Cynthia Nixon gets right with ideologues.

Originally, she said:
I understand that for many people it's not, but for me it's a choice, and you don't get to define my gayness for me... A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it's a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn't matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.
In a second interview, she was pushed to use the term "bisexual," and she resisted:
"I don't pull out the 'bisexual' word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals... But I do completely feel that when I was in relationships with men, I was in love and in lust with those men. And then I met (her fiance) Christine and I fell in love and lust with her. I am completely the same person and I was not walking around in some kind of fog. I just responded to the people in front of me the way I truly felt."
Now, she's yielded to pressure. She gives an "exclusive statement" to The Advocate:
My recent comments... were about me and my personal story of being gay. I believe we all have different ways we came to the gay community and we can't and shouldn't be pigeon-holed into one cultural narrative which can be uninclusive and disempowering. However, to the extent that anyone wishes to interpret my words in a strictly legal context I would like to clarify...
Strictly legal?!
While I don't often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have 'chosen' is to be in a gay relationship.

... I do, however, believe that most members of our community — as well as the majority of heterosexuals — cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships because, unlike me, they are only attracted to one sex.
Interestingly, the comments over at The Advocate are about the way gay people disrespect people who say they are bisexual.

"I like fire escapes. To me, they're unintentional urban art forms."

"Think about West Side Story and the role fire escapes play in that production. Audrey Hepburn sang 'Moon River' out on a Manhattan fire escape in Breakfast at Tiffany's. How many spy thrillers have featured chases across rooftops and swings from fire escapes? Fire escapes are romantic. They're urban art, and they wait for adventure."

Citizen Dave (the erstwhile Madison Mayor Dave (Cieslewicz)) has an amusing intro to a column about a proposed project that would repurpose some elderly buildings on State Street near the Wisconsin Capitol. If you want to understand what opposition to new buildings looks like in Madison, Wisconsin, read the whole column.

It's funny the way Madison progressives revere tradition when it comes to buildings. I like the old things too, and I certainly wouldn't want to waste money on a rampage against fire escapes on the theory that they're a terrible eyesore. But it's quite another thing to reject urban development to preserve them.
It comes down to whether you can appreciate an urban aesthetic or not. It comes down to our tolerance for the grittiness of real urban spaces versus the idea of suburban tidiness — and the sterility that comes with it.
There's a continuum from the worst grit, which everyone wants to eliminate, to the most extreme sterility, which only makes sense to attempt in completely new development. The political battles take place somewhere along the continuum.

How should these battles be conducted? Do you like the "I'm urban, you're suburban/I'm gritty, you're sterile" gambit?

David Brooks: "we need a National Service Program."

"We need a program that would force members of the upper tribe and the lower tribe to live together, if only for a few years. We need a program in which people from both tribes work together to spread out the values, practices and institutions that lead to achievement."

Here's a value from my tribe (called We the People of the Unites States of America): Freedom.

"i think its totally awesome but the guy talks about money and making a living too much."

"sounds like he does this for money more than as his passion and thats really sad because this looks like an awesome place."

That comment, giving grief to this tree-house-building guy...

... is typical of the way everybody's always trying to keep the hippie down.

Instant nostalgia/protest art/fundraising for the Walker recall.

It's "Inside, at Night — Origins of an Uprising," a photo exhibit at the Tamarack Studio and Gallery here in Madison.
Produced with the help of $9,1700 in donations from a campaign on kickstarter.com, the show has a distinct political element: More than half the profits from the sale of photos and books, plus donations at the door, will be given to the gubernatorial recall campaign. Photos will be sold at a two-tier price, "so that everyone regardless of means can take home an image or three," [said John Riggs, the gallery owner]....

The photos in "Inside, at Night" are mounted to Tamarack Gallery's walls with blue tape reminiscent of the tape used to hang protest posters inside the Capitol....

Organized thematically rather than chronologically, the photos are accompanied by blocks of text written by protesters in the thick of things, excerpts from blog posts, emails, journal entries and Twitter feeds that create a real-time narrative. The exhibited photos themselves will be numbered, but photographers won't be individually credited for their work.

"The story isn't about who did it — the story is what's on the wall," said Riggs, who himself took a quarter of the pictures in the show.
The story isn't about who did it — the story is what's on the wall. Oh, the collective! Let's merge the individual into the whole. The wall. All in all you're just another brick in the wall. Says the owner, who is named and who claims virtue in not naming the other photographers.

AND: Much as I loathe the collectivist politics and the submerging of individual achievement, I salute Riggs as a businessman. It's a great idea to transform his gallery into a protest art business. You should see all the shops that sell "Wisconsin" T-shirts to Madison tourists. If people come to Madison to check out the protest vibe (or if they live in Madison because they love the cozy comfort of the left-wing cocoon), give them something relevant to buy. I know there are relevant T-shirts. But there's plenty of room in this market for a higher level of protest memorabilia in the fine art category.

Bobby Jindal compares Obama's encounter with Gov. Jan Brewer to something that happened to him.

It was a tarmac scene during Obama's first visit to Louisiana after the Gulf oil spill:
"He grabs me by the arm, takes me aside,” [Jindal] said, “Here’s the strange thing … I thought he’d be angry about the oil spill, the lack of resources; I thought he’d get down there and say, look governor, we’re going to do everything we can to work together. Instead, he was upset he was going to look bad; he was worried about some routine letter we had already sent to his administration, nothing important.”

Jindal said the reaction shocked him. “I was amazed at two things: one, that he was mad about the wrong things, and two, that he was so thin-skinned.” In a time of crisis, Jindal said the last thing he wanted or expected was for the president to stage what was “clearly a media stunt.”

“I wanted him to be the president of the country, and instead he was playing political theatrics.”
It seems like the "stunt" — if that's what it is — works pretty well. It sounds like Obama knows how to look cool — photographed from a distance — even when he seems "thin-skinned" to the person he's talking to, and then that person — with less attention to how it looks — interacts with him and looks angry and disrespecful.

Obviously, it was a media op, and a politician should be good at projecting the right image on those occasions. Of course, this TV appearance of Jindal's is also a media op, and Jindal is using this one well. I assume he also managed the theatrics of his tarmac encounter with Obama — since I don't remember seeing any pictures of that incident that were used against him, like the pictures of Brewer.

And that's not to say the pictures of Brewer hurt her. I don't think they did. I think the people who are going to like Brewer will like seeing her being feisty, standing up to the President. And she's got a book to sell them — "Scorpions for Breakfast" — and she got plenty of extra publicity for it. That last link goes to Amazon, where her book is #1 in the Government/Public Policy list.

January 30, 2012

"Registered voters in 12 key swing states are almost evenly split between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney..."

"... while giving a 14-percentage-point lead to Obama over Newt Gingrich. Swing-state voters also prefer Obama to Ron Paul and to Rick Santorum. Registered voters nationally express similar preferences, although Paul does slightly better at the national level than he does in the swing states."


In a "personal development seminar," Chantal Lavigne "was accidentally 'cooked to death' during a class called 'Dying in Consciousness.'"

This happened in Canada last year:
Participants were wrapped in mud and plastic, covered with blankets, and left immobilized for about nine hours. Cardboard boxes were placed over their heads and they were encouraged to hyperventilate. Lavigne died of hyperthermia when her body was unable to dissipate heat properly.

The seminar was held at a spa called Ferme Reine de la Paix and organized by Gabrielle “Séréna” Fréchette. In her work as holistic healer, Fréchette channels “Melchizedek,” a mysterious king and priest that appears in the book of Genesis. Lavigne had already completed 85 personal development seminars at the spa, for which she paid more than $18,900....

In audio recordings of the session, Fréchette allegedly states, “The time has come for this body of death that you believe is yours… Death is freedom… death is the truth.”

"When I read a book, I'm handling a specific object in a specific time and place."

"The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that's reassuring."

Jonathan Franzen worries that ebooks — in place of print books — will reorient us in negative ways.

"They're trying to crucify this man...."

Delving into a presidential candidate's record and criticizing him vigorously is crucifixion?

How about the way we failed — back in 2008 — to delve into Obama's record and failed to criticize him?

Here's a clue: Get yourself perceived as The Messiah and the good people of the United States of America will refrain from crucifying you.

Worrying about the 1,900 tiny plastic fibers released by each item of clothing made from synthetic fabric every time it's washed.

"Microscopic plastic debris from washing clothes is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain, a study has warned."

Please do not confuse this pressing problem with "A Million Little Fibers."

Newt in '09: "We believe that... everybody should either have health insurance or if you’re an absolute libertarian..."

"... we would allow you to post a bond, but we would not allow people to be free riders failing to insure themselves and then showing up at the emergency room with no means of payment."

"The weirdest thing about the rumor that Kim Kardashian gets paid $10,000 for a Twitter endorsement is..."

"... that it’s true."
The biggest player in the pay-to-tweet market is Ad.ly, a social-media advertorial clearinghouse pairing brands with celebs to inject highly personalized advertising into their Twitter streams.

"She’s had a miraculous turnaround."

Said Rick Santorum.
"I know how she got through it... It was with the hands of these doctors and the prayers that guided those hands."
Religion and politics. Children and politics. Medical problems and politics. When is it too much? When will you say it's too much?

January 29, 2012

"But controlled rot tastes good in this case — at least to us (or most of us)."

"The key is to manage the decomposition in such a way as to get that desired flavor and to ensure that we don't get sick from consuming the food (in some cases, rot is actually necessary because the fresh version is poisonous)."

"It's all Gladys' fault! She's sending me straight to hell!"

Millie Jackson sounded too much like Gladys Knight and needed to distinguish herself.
Jackson's first hit song, a 1973 cover of "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to be Right," caused a furor. In the middle of the song, Jackson starts talking about being the "other woman" in a relationship, and loving it. The protests put her on the path to stardom, but they also created a niche Jackson has found hard to escape.
I heard the Luther Ingram version of this song the other day and — even without a spoken-word interval — I got the feeling this is a terribly dangerous song. It must have gotten an awful lot of people into trouble over the years.

A great collection of celebrity high school yearbook pictures.

Fascinating to see those who were always great looking, those who were always bad looking, and — most interestingly — those who looked awful in high school and got much, much better, the most extreme example of which is this:

At the Blonde Dog Café...

... curl up and get comfy.

Young brains.

1. Does homosexuality reside at the biological brain level? "There is substantial evidence of various connections between genes, brain, hormones and sexual identity... But those do not amount to a simple picture that A leads to B." So gay people aren't born gay? "I honestly have no idea if I was born this way. My memory doesn’t stretch to the crib. But I know that from the moment I felt romantic stirrings, it was Timmy, not Tammy, who could have me walking on air or wallowing in torch songs and tubs of ice cream."

2. Do kids with ADD have a different kind of brain that makes stimulants like Ritalin have a mysterious opposite effect, calming them down? "Putting children on drugs does nothing to change the conditions that derail their development in the first place. Yet those conditions are receiving scant attention. Policy makers are so convinced that children with attention deficits have an organic disease that they have all but called off the search for a comprehensive understanding of the condition."

3. Are teenagers defective at the brain level? "Brain research is often taken to mean that adolescents are really just defective adults—grown-ups with a missing part. Public policy debates about teenagers thus often turn on the question of when, exactly, certain areas of the brain develop, and so at what age children should be allowed to drive or marry or vote—or be held fully responsible for crimes. But the new view of the adolescent brain isn't that the prefrontal lobes just fail to show up; it's that they aren't properly instructed and exercised.... Instead of simply giving adolescents more and more school experiences—those extra hours of after-school classes and homework—we could try to arrange more opportunities for apprenticeship. "

New Rasmussen poll has Romney at 44%, Gingrich 28% in Florida.

Announced this morning:
These figures reflect a significant turnaround over the past week. Last Sunday, just after his big win in the South Carolina Primary, Gingrich led Romney by nine.  By the middle of this past week,  Romney was back in control with an eight-point advantage. Despite all the ups and downs, the results today are very similar to polling results found in Florida three weeks ago, coming off Romney’s decisive victory in the New Hampshire Primary.
What happened? Was it Romney getting tougher in the last debate? Romney's ability to advertise pervasively in the big state? All the conservative big shots who ganged up on Gingrich? That crazy moon-shot business?

"RECALL WALKER/Tell him: Keep it up/IT'S WORKING!"

Photo taken today by the commenter James.

"Apparently @TPM doesn't expense its employees' salaries."

Pithy takedown.

We've found a dog. UPDATE: "Soleil."

Meade rescued a lost dog and managed to coax him into the house. (It's 20° out.) He's got a collar, but we haven't won his trust to the point where we can read it.

Sorry the picture is blurry. I don't want to trouble him, and he (or she) is walking around panting. Meade is great with dogs. I'm a dog novice, following orders not to pay attention to it.

ADDED: He/she's starting to get accustomed to us:

UPDATE: We were able to read the tag, called the owner, and now Soleil is gone. The sun has set on our bedogged life here in Madison, and so we must go on, dogless.

AND: Dog gone. Doggone.

MORE: Here's a sequence of pictures showing Meade winning the dog's trust. This happened after the dog was sitting on the floor between us for a while.

"I walk like a runway model, but I shake hands like a lumberjack."

Says David Rakoff — one of my 2 favorite audiobook writer-readers — to Dave Hill — a comedian I'd never heard of — at the end of this amusing 2-and-a-half minute video.

Here are 2 Rakoff books: "Half Empty" and "Don't Get Too Comfortable." I've linked to the Kindle version, but you'll see the link to the audiobook version, which I personally love (in part because I use audiobooks to fall asleep and Rakoff's voice is expressive but gentle, like that of my other favorite audiobook writer-reader, Bill Bryson).

Demi Moore smokes something, and the real victim is Gloria Steinem.

I don't know exactly why Demi Moore was hospitalized.
Friends and family who were with Moore indicated she has smoked something “similar to incense” and was burning up, shaking and convulsing. They said it was not marijuana.

X17 reported doctors are speculating whether Moore smoked synthetic cannabis, which is also referred to as “K2,” “herbal incense” or “spice.” There are also reports Moore drank excessive amounts of Red Bull energy drinks.
Troubling. Sad, indeed. And there's also the divorce (from her 16-years-younger husband, the very cute Ashton Kutcher). But the person my heart goes out to is Gloria Steinem. Demi Moore has now had to pull out from the role of Gloria Steinem in a movie about Linda Lovelace, the star of the historic porn-flick "Deep Throat." Replacing her is Sarah Jessica Parker. Imagine, one day, one of the most beautiful Hollywood stars is playing the role of you in a movie. And the next day, they've recast the role with an actress who... is just not even very pretty at all.

What's Gloria Steinem doing in a biopic about Linda Lovelace? Here, read "Out of Bondage," by Linda Lovelace (with Mike McGrady), introduction by Gloria Steinem. From the 1986 Publisher's Weekly review at the link:
Steinem's introduction declares her belief in the integrity of the revelations that shocked the public when Lovelace's Ordeal appeared. 
Note: I've read "Ordeal." (And I've never seen "Deep Throat.")
With McGrady, Lovelace here writes a sequel, the story of her life after she escaped from the pimp she claimed forced her into prostitution and into filming "Deep Throat." Many of the hideous experiences detailed in the first book are repeated here, which readers will find hard to bear, unless they are intrigued by the brutalizing pornography that pays handsomely for everyone except its victims. Naming celebrities and mob figures, Lovelace makes a strong case against demeaned "entertainment." Now a wife and mother, the former "sexual zombie" is also an active supporter of human rights. She lectures at colleges on degradations suffered by women as sex objects.
So who's playing Linda Lovelace? I found an old news story that said Lindsay Lohan had the role. Ah, now, I see it's Amanda Seyfried... and that there's a second Linda Lovelace biopic in the works.
Competing films of the same variety sometimes meet poor ends, as studios start rushing to be the first to release their version, which can damage the quality of the end product.
If only they'd take their time! What a fulfillment we might achieve!

The moon base is to conservatives what high-speed rail is to liberals.

It's an extremely expensive project that springs out of a man's boyhood passions. You're begging for a toy, and I'm one of the smart, grounded mommies who know how to say no.