July 7, 2012

At the Night Owl Café...

"Urban Fantasy"

... night thoughts are different.

"Once upon a time there was a Democratic president who, despite his faults, championed the power of markets, technology, and the global economy."

"He spoke about building 'a bridge to the 21st century.' He ratified major trade agreements like NAFTA and the WTO. He supported balanced budgets and signed into law a tough welfare reform. He cut the capital gains tax. He boasted that government spending as a share of the economy fell on his watch. He went so far as to call himself (privately) an Eisenhower Republican."


Revolution Gothic.

Obama's new font.

Aren't we cute?

With our abbreves.

"Rob Portman had flowing locks. Rand Paul dissects a cat."

Pictures of politicians, when they were in high school. Don't miss Scott Walker "the Desperado."

My favorite is Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano:

Hands and heads, positioned by Drudge.

Let's analyze this. (Click to enlarge.)

In the first column, we see Barack Obama holding his head, as if he's got a headache.

The middle column shows 2 politicians, both governors, gesturing outward, not holding anything.

The third column shows a bear holding a slice of watermelon and George Bush holding a little African orphan, grasping his/her head.

That is to say, the outer columns feature hands (or paws) holding something, and in 2 of the 3 pictures, what is held is a black person's head, and in the other what is held is watermelon.

Analyze the Drudgetaposition.

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"Listen, we’re just politicians. I wasn’t elected to play God."

Said John Boehner:
The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. I’ll tell you this: 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney has some friends, relatives and fellow Mormons ... some people that are going to vote for him. But that’s not what this election is about. This election is going to be a referendum on the president’s failed economic policies.

Mitt Romney believes, just like we do, that if we’re going to get the economy back, if we’re going to put the American people back to work, we need to fix the tax code, we need to stop the regulatory juggernaut that’s going on in Washington and we need to fix our economy. Solid guy, he’s going to do a great job, even if you don’t fall in love with him.
I think we've had enough love for a while. Let's not idolize politicians.

The Madness of Madison.

State Street, today:


ME (reading aloud, to my companion): Walker is not above the law and will go to prison.

CHALKING MAN (to me): It's true! John Doe!

ME (to the chalking man): Live the fantasy. (To my companion:) The madness of Madison.

One hour earlier — about a block from there — we walked past a man who was lying supine on a low concrete wall. Eyes closed, he intoned repeatedly:
I am a good slave
Free to a good owner
I will obey my master

At the Fake-Hand Café...


... it looks pretty real.


"The survey found that 74 percent of black women and 70 percent of black men said that 'living a religious life' is very important."

"On that same question, the number falls to 57 percent of white women and 43 percent of white men."

So not only is there less religion among the white people, there's a much larger gender gap.

The linked article — in the Washington Post — concentrates on how religious black women are, but I'm noticing how religious black men are. Casual observation of life in the United States has made us think women are much more religious than men. I'm surprised to see how close the percentages are for black people. The 57%/43% gap — which the poll shows among white people — comes much closer to what I would expect.

ADDED: I'm looking at the poll details, and it's interesting to see the differences in how satisfied people are with their lives.  The most satisfied people are the white women. 90% say they are very or somewhat satisfied. Next come the white men, with 86%, and the black women with 85%. Last, but not far behind, are the black men at 83%. I'm surprised so many people are satisfied!

"Stack ranking" — the management technique that ruined Microsoft.

Stack ranking "forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor."
"Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”
ADDED: Stack ranking seems designed to overcome the standard problem in group projects, that people take advantage of each other. If we're all going to get the same credit, what do you do? Work really hard or let others do the work? What can you do to prevent that dysfunction? Apparently, the answer is to create a different dysfunction.

"Why drive? Why own a car? Why ‘go’ anywhere?"

Generation Y doesn't see why.

The grossly underenforced zoning law that preserves loft space in SoHo for artists.

The effort to get the law changed involves revealing how many property owners are in violation of the law.
At issue is a 1971 zoning change that allowed artists to legally live in lofts they had converted from industrial space in SoHo. Technically, much of the neighborhood is still zoned to permit manufacturing, and a condition has been placed on the old industrial buildings: Each loft must have at least one artist or successor, and the use of retail spaces must be wholesale without a special permit.

Thaddeus McCotter — after "nightmarish month and a half" — resigns from Congress.

He says:
The recent event’s totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits have weighed most heavily upon my family. Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must ‘strike another match, go start anew’ by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.”
The quote about the match is from Bob Dylan.

And what will he do now? He says he faces "diminishing prospects" and is "both unwilling and ill-suited to lobby," but I think it's pretty obvious he's got a cool personal style and a way with words. And he's made a TV pilot:
"Bumper Sticker: Made On Motown" starred McCotter hosting a crude variety show cast with characters bearing the nicknames of his congressional staffers, his brother and a drunk, perverted "Black Santa." They take pot shots about McCotter's ill-fated bid for the White House while spewing banter about drinking, sex, race, flatulence, puking and women's anatomy....


Here'sa list of the bestselling books at Amazon. I know women are reading "Fifty Shades of Grey," but I'm amazed to see that the top 4 bestselling books are "Fifty Shades of Grey." It's a trilogy, so that makes 3. The 4th one is a boxed set of the 3.

There's an incredible amount of junk in the top 100 books, but for some reason #17 is "The Great Gatsby." Oh, I know the reason. It's a new movie. Here's the trailer. It looks awful, with horrible acting. But then I think it's like "Moulin Rouge," which can seem bad if you look at it the wrong way, and this new "Gatsby" is in fact directed by the same person, Baz Luhrmann. And now I see that Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of Gatsby. So the book is moving. Googling, I turn up this article in The Daily News:
Now, we haven't read "The Great Gatsby" around here (hadn't even heard of it, in fact, until we learned of the movie). But from these stills, and the trailer, we've deduced that it is the story of some dapper hipsters with a serious retro aesthetic who open an artisanal distillery somewhere on Long Island. Also, they seem to inexplicably like disco.
Anyway, what are you reading today... in book form?

ADDED: "Even the opening line of her novel—'I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror'—has at least two too many words." Yeah, you criticize, but you just wrote "two too."

"Sometimes when people ask what do you do for your fun time, he says I just learn, and people just don't understand that."

Tanishq Abraham, the brilliant 9 year old.

His mom: "Home schooling is much better than normal, regular school." (Because there's no way for regular school not to be boring.)

Tanishq: "It's never boring, talking to any college student... With my friends from kid classes, you get to play with them, and that kind of stuff... I kind of miss having friends, I guess."

In the end of the video, we hear him say he'd like to be a scientist or a President of the United States. As President, he'd "make the United States more healthy for us and more efficient."

July 6, 2012

"We are against tourism. They foster debauchery."

And soon the ancient buildings will be gone, razed by fanatics who imagine themselves saving the local people from the sin of worshipping idols.

In Timbuktu.

They destroyed the wooden door of the old mosque:
“I asked them why they were doing it... They said, ‘People believe that if that door is opened, the world will end’ ”— an un-Islamic superstition, the men explained, that had to be disproved....

"Romney and the Republicans announced yesterday that they brought in more than $100 million in June."

"For context, that's about what we raised in April and May combined. We're still tallying our own numbers, but this means their gap is getting wider, and if it continues at this pace, it could cost us the election."

Email, just now, from the Obama campaign.

Looking for a new hairstyle?

Try "The Bow":

"I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you..."

"... they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, ‘What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?’ Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position."

Said Judge Richard Posner.

(Via AlphaLiberal.)

ADDED: Posner is admitting that there is a psychodynamic among judges that affects how judges decide cases.

IN THE COMMENTS: YoungHegelian said:
Because, when you're a grown man at the top of your game, like Chief Justice, and you screw up big time, and your friends of long standing tell you "John, you screwed up big time," what you do is go find another bunch of friends who'll kiss your ass every time you screw up big time.
What if the other bunch is the cool kids?

AND: Remember when Laurence Tribe advised Barack Obama about how Elena Kagan might have some "purchase on Tony Kennedy's mind." (I said: "I'm sure Justice Kennedy doesn't need to be tipped off to this political scheme to clamber over the crusty crags of the convolutions of his brain." But there were always other mountains to climb.)

"Twenty years ago, 12-year-old Jeremiah McDonald recorded himself asking his future self questions about how his life had turned out."

"Twenty years later, McDonald, now a filmmaker, finally sat down to answer those questions."

(Via MadisonMan.)

"I hope you don't see much of it because I don't want to be in the news."

"In other words, I believe that quiet service is the best kind of service."

That's George Bush, helping out in Zambia.

He also said: "I believe freedom is important for peace and I believe one aspect of freedom is people to be free from disease," which reminds me of something the Solicitor General, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., argued to the Supreme Court about the health care law:
“There will be millions of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease... and as a result of the health care that they will get, they will be unshackled from the disabilities that those diseases put on them and have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of liberty.”

"Gov. Walker has $1.6 million in the bank 'giving him a strong start toward a 2014 re-election race.'"

"Thanks a lot, recall suckers!"

Nostalgia for old sounds...

... that once exemplified newness.

What are the sounds you hear now that will soon enough disappear into the history of lost sounds?

We remember old songs and we take the trouble to listen to music, but do we pay attention to all the sounds that form our environment, the sounds that would represent the past to us if they were gone? What is the content of the sound in the place where you are right now? Do you mask it with music? Are you uneasy when things are too quiet, or do you settle down and notice that it's never completely quiet, that there are always sounds, little sounds that emerge in the near quiet? Are you taking the trouble to love them before they are gone?

"I enjoy your ideas and content, but mostly avoid your blog because of the juvenile vulgarity that appears all over it."

Email from a guy who signs his name with Ph.D. after it, quoting somebody somewhere who wrote "Sorry, I have to call BS on this" and adding "This is how an adult with class handles this phrase in a blog." In other words, this is somebody objecting to my use of the word "bullshit" when calling bullshit.

Adult with class.

Actually, I don't think it's classy to say "BS." Either say bullshit or don't. It's like telling someone who announces "I've got to take a piss" that he should have said "I've got to go pee pee." Either say "bullshit" or don't, but I'm calling bullshit on the candyass substitute "BS."

Once again, I will recommend the serious philosophical book "On Bullshit," by Harry G. Frankfurt. Frankfurt identifies "humbug" as the closest polite alternative to "bullshit." Also: balderdash, claptrap, hokum, drivel, buncombe, imposture, and quackery.

He doesn't mention "BS," which I think is embarrassingly prissy and unnatural. I've never been around people who say "BS." Maybe somewhere, there are the "adults with class" who say "BS." If you find them and like them, go ahead and read their blogs. I'm sure they're fucking scintillating.

"When a child is transported without a car seat and dies, the siblings may be removed from the home by child welfare authorities..."

"... the California Supreme Court rules in a Los Angeles County case."
The state high court ruled in favor of Los Angeles County social workers who placed two young boys in foster care after their 18-month-old sister, held on the lap of an aunt, was killed when a driver ran a stop sign and plowed into the car their father was driving.
Lose one child... then lose them all.

At the Blue-and-Orange Café...


... you can think long and hard.

"The economy continued its sluggish performance in June as employers added just 80,000 jobs..."

"... and the nation’s unemployment rate remained at 8.2 percent, the government reported Friday...."
During the first quarter of 2012, employers added an average of 226,000 jobs a month, the Labor Department said. But job creation slowed in the second quarter to an average of 75,000 a month--far below the level that is needed to make a dent in the unemployment rate.

The job market seemed to flatline on all fronts in June, as only professional and business services added jobs, while other industries showed little change. The number of people officially labeled unemployed held steady at 12.7 million, and the number of people who have been out of work for six months or more remained at 5.4 million, accounting for nearly 42 percent of the overall unemployed.

Did this "Human Sexuality" class amount to sexual harassment of the "hostile environment" kind?

A new lawsuit by a 60-year-old student, who dropped the class that required the students to write weekly journal entries about their sexual thoughts and practices.
According to the complaint, during the fourth week of class, the journal entry of student sitting next to Royce was discussed in detail....

The complaint contains plenty of other instances of such classroom occurrences (including Kubistant requiring students to masturbate “twice as often” and to journal about it).
The teacher had students sign a waiver at the beginning of the course, and Royce signed, but we're not seeing the text of the waiver. How far would you go in allowing teachers to use waivers to avoid liability in situations like this? Aside from the waiver, do you think what this teacher did should be dealt with through a lawsuit? Would you like to see this teacher stopped from teaching the class as he does (through some means other than a lawsuit)? Do you accept this approach to teaching the class as within the teacher's academic freedom? Do you want to know more about the facts, such as the tone of voice and the inflection that the teacher used when reading the students' journal entries out loud?

I got to that link via Above The Law, which makes much of the waiver and takes a flippant attitude toward the not-young woman:  "It’s kind of sad that she’s evidently made it all the way to 60 without reading the stuff she signs." If that's sad, you must be really, really sad. I'll bet you clicked yes without reading to at least 10 things in the last year, trusting the source — e.g., your school — and figuring that other people are making sure that there's nothing bizarre in it and that if there were anything bizarre, it would never be enforced.

HBO drops Roger Ailes TV movie because it "could never be seen as objective."

That's their asserted reason. They cite their "CNN affiliation," which would supposedly interfere with their presentation of a movie that was being executive produced by MSNBC.
The HBO movie would have been based on the upcoming manuscript by media writer Gabriel Sherman who has written two cover stories for New York magazine on Ailes and Fox News, including his mammoth article “The Elephant In The Green Room” which prompted complaints from the Fox News CEO.
How can the reason be true? It it were true, they wouldn't have started the project in the first place.

The news of dropping the project comes after Nikki Finke revealed that it existed, saying:
HBO appears obsessed by GOP Conservatives. There have been movies about the 2000 Bush vs Gore election standoff and Sarah Palin and most recently a TV series featuring George W Bush’s severed head. Now HBO has done a secret deal for an Untitled Roger Ailes Project....

"Study shows Palin treated differently by media as vice presidential candidate than Biden."

I know. Big surprise. But it's a study.

July 5, 2012

What happens if states turn down the Medicaid expansion money and decline to set up the health-insurance exchanges.

Michael D. Tanner explains the surprisingly extreme consequences.
[I]f a state doesn't expand its Medicaid program, most of those who would've been eligible for Medicaid will now become eligible for subsidies through ObamaCare's health-insurance exchanges. And those subsidies are paid in full by the feds.

Thus, New York, for example, would shift most of that $52 billion in new costs back to the federal government.

Of course, if states do shift those costs back to the feds, that will cause the federal cost of ObamaCare to skyrocket. If every state were to refuse to expand its Medicaid program, the feds would save roughly $130 billion in their share of Medicaid costs in 2014, but would have to pay $230 billion more in new exchange-based subsidies — for a net added cost of $100 billion. And that's just for the first year...

ObamaCare gives the feds the authority to step in, setting up and operating an exchange in any state that doesn't set up its own... [But f]ederal subsidies are available only through exchanges that the states set up. The feds can't offer subsidies through a federally run exchange.

Thus, if states neither expanded Medicaid nor set up exchanges, that would effectively block most of ObamaCare's new entitlement spending.
Given the potential for chaos in the Obamacare scheme if the states decline to participate, it's surprising that Justices Breyer and Kagan went along with the Chief Justice's opinion on the spending power.  The original legislation had the states locked in, because they'd lose all their Medicaid funding if they didn't participate. That was held to be coercive, and thus not supportable by the spending power, which requires that states be given a choice whether to run federal programs and accept various related conditions. Under the Court's ruling, the states only lose the funding for the expansion of Medicaid, which makes it possible for them to say no, as many seem to be doing.

There's an elaborate set of moves in the future, and I wonder how far ahead the Chief Justice looked when he chose his position. Perhaps Obamacare is doomed by the seemingly modest, miminalist hit it took on the spending power issue. But wouldn't Breyer and Kagan have seen ahead too? Why did they join him? I'm not ready to give him genius points for skillful playing of the long game.

Michael Bloomberg gives a speech and then mutters "Who Wrote This Shit?"

It's fine with me, but why is he presiding over a hot-dog-eating contest? Of all politicians, he's the one I most associate with control over what people eat.


Lots of interesting photographs here, quite aside from whether the tattoos are wise choices or well done. I love #19, done with a fisheye lens, which shows a man whose large upper arm is consumed by a technically excellent monochrome depiction of the face of Bruce Springsteen. A terrible idea. Sickeningly earnest to me, but the guy is quite pleased with it, and he's at a Bruce Springsteen concert, so there's something charming about it. Horrible and charming.

The next photo — #20 — takes us in a completely different direction:
"Vinnie" Myers specializes in tattooing nipples and areolas onto women who have undergone breast cancer surgery. Using precisely mixed pigments, he creates a perfect 3-D illusion of the real thing...

$5 billion spent on camouflage uniforms that make soldiers easier to see.

"The mixture of the Army's gray-green color scheme with the pixel pattern turns out to be quite eye-catching — not a good quality in camouflage."
Apparently, Army commanders were "envious" of the dust-colored pixelated camouflage being developed for the Marine Corps, and rushed to demand a similar pattern in their own colors, instead of playing it safe with the classic cloudy globs traditionally used for Army camouflage. Things went haywire when officials insisted on using the Army's traditional grey-green color scheme, which, when paired with the pixels — not to mention darker gear — turned soldiers into walking targets. "Brand identity trumped camouflage utility," says military journalist Eric Graves. "That's what this really comes down to." 
Envious... of the fabric print...

This gives new meaning to the term "fashion victim."
Fashion victim is a term claimed to have been coined by Oscar de la Rental that is used to identify a person who is unable to identify commonly recognized boundaries of style.

Fashion victims are victims because they are vulnerable to faddishness and materialism, two of the widely recognized excesses of fashion, and consequently are at the mercy of society's prejudices or of the commercial interest of the fashion industry, or of both. According to Versace, "When a woman alters her look too much from season to season, she becomes a fashion victim."
You'd think military men would be beyond this kind of thing, but then again... military uniforms nearly always have nonfunctional aspects, and thoughts about how one will look in uniform surely affects the male mind, as those in charge of ordering new uniforms must know.

"Nobody can explain to you what the Higgs boson is, because if they try..."

"... they'll say things like: The Higgs boson is the particle that imparts mass to the other particles."
And if you're thinking clearly you'll say: Wait, what does that mean? You mean if the Higgs boson disappeared, then the other particles would exist but wouldn't have mass? So how could they be particles at all--I mean, how could they be particles in the sense that I think of "particles"?
What's your position on the Higgs boson?

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Governor Christie presents you with these, the 1-liners he wants you to remember him by.

This is from the governor's own YouTube page.

What do you think?
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Drawn into the artistic vortex.

I showed you the vortex in the museum, where the unsuspecting black-booted woman strode by. And Chip Ahoy said "Stupid square post modernistic painting, your dumb little untalented post modernistic kids could make it, that doesn't do anything at all..."

And it was only 2 years ago, that I showed you that transfixed R. Crumb-type woman and Chip said "Now look, you get one warning and only one warning. Do NOT stare at the Buddha too long..."

What did you think you'd get from the photographer who photographed Obama with a statue...

... like this?
When U.S. President Barack Obama visited Prague in April, the world's press establishment followed. Photographers scrambled to capture an iconic image. Joe Klamar succeeded. 

"It seemed like an obvious shot at the time. I thought all the other photographers would get it, as well," says Klamar, winner of the Czech Press Photo (CPP) "Photo of the Year" award for 2009.
It's an eccentric aesthetic, and that's what they got for these pictures of the U.S. Olympic team, which many people are complaining about

Mitt Romney says "The Supreme Court has the final word. And their final word is that Obamacare is a tax."

Interviewed by Jan Crawford, Romney takes the clear, straightforward separation-of-powers position. The judiciary has the work of saying what the law is:
So it is a tax and it's constitutional. That's -- that's the final word. That's what it is. Now, I agreed with the dissent. I would have taken a different course. But the dissent wasn't the majority. The majority has ruled. And their rule is final.
Crawford moves in with the challenge Romney will always have to deal with: You did the same thing in Massachusetts. If this was a tax, then that was a tax. And we expect him always to answer in about the same way: There's a difference between doing something at the federal level and doing it at the state level.

As a lawprof, I see the consistent separation-of-powers theme.

Ann Romney feels like all Obama's doing is saying "Let's kill this guy" — "this guy," meaning Romney.

"And I feel like that's not really a very good campaign policy."
"I feel like Mitt's got the answers to turn this country around," she continued. "He's the one that's got to bring back hope for this country, which is what they ran on last time. But the truth is, this is the one that has the hope for the - for America."
I was going to say: That's all very well put; Ann's a fine communicator; but she shouldn't have said "kill"; it's not the right way to talk in the context of presidential politics.

But then I saw:
In August, some Democratic strategists let leak to the press that Obama's top aides were looking at a massive character takedown of Romney in light of a deterring economy; "kill Romney" was a phrase used by one. "That was their memo that came out from their campaign," Ann Romney said. "And it's like, 'not when I'm next to him you better not."
Perfect! She got our attention by saying "kill," but it was their word, spoken a year ago. Who remembered? We remember now.

ADDED: "Remember all that 'civility' bullshit from last year?"

July 4, 2012

At the Square Vortex Café...


... you can get sucked right in.

Diagramming a Sentence About Blogging on Independence Day.

Don't Do It!

The "Do It!" image came via Meade who saw it at Magnificent Ruin and IM'd it to me, where it appeared in my iChat window right under the Saul Steinberg "Don't," which I'd IM'd to him after he IM'd me this Saul Steinberg "No!," which he'd IM'd to me because of my first post of the day, quoting Bob Dylan, asking about that carried-in-arms daughter who always told her father "no," which I blogged about because Meade had started singing "Tears of Rage," a song that mentions Independence Day, which it is, and which — fittingly — embodies the spirit embodied in "Do It!"

"DO IT!: Scenarios of the Revolution," is a book by Jerry Rubin — Introduction by Eldridge Cleaver — which you can buy at that Amazon link. That's the Simon & Schuster publication, but in the poster image above, we see the tiny logo — in the lower right-hand corner — for a different publisher: Erectile Press. Erectile Press?! Maybe that was the hard-cover edition.

UPDATE, 11/16/17: I'm adding a tag and seeing the "Do It!" image is gone. I tried to use the "Wayback Machine" to recover it, but could not. Sorry! Sad to see this post go to ruin. They did call that place Magnificent Ruin. I could have preserved the image if I'd handled it differently. Ah, well...

"There's a lot of different scenarios. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it."

"But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

Said Rick Perry... a while back.

"We’re making a safe motorcycle."

Is that a motorcycle? 
The C1 is gyroscopically stabilized – sort of along the lines of a Segway – so it can’t tip over.
Do 2 wheels, motorized, make a motorcycle? Isn't there a soul to the thing? A soul that has something to do with exposure — danger... freedom.... Ah! Here's the picture I'm looking for:


I took that picture in Augusta, Kentucky back in 2009.

"53% of American Adults agree that the United States is a nation with liberty and justice for all..."

Rasmussen learns.
Forty percent (40%) disagree and say the United States is not like that....

Still, 79% of Americans say that if they had a choice to live anywhere in the world, they would still choose to live in the United States. Just 11% disagree, while 10% more are undecided.

For the first time since 2006, more Americans now consider Thomas Jefferson the greatest Founding Father. Thirty-five percent (35%) name Jefferson, the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, as the most important Founder, while 32% feel that way about George Washington.  In a distant third is Benjamin Franklin with 11%, John Adams at 10% and James Madison with just one percent (1%). With the exception of Franklin, the others constitute the first four presidents of the United States.

Most Republicans (56%) and Democrats (58%) believe America is a nation with liberty and justice for all. Adults not affiliated with either political party are evenly divided on this question.

GOP voters are more likely to name Washington as the greatest Founding Father, while Democrats and unaffiliated voters lean more towards Jefferson.
America, love it or leave it. That's the old saying, popular with right-wingers back in the Vietnam era. There was a lefty response — what was it? — America, love it and change it? Something like that.

GOP voters are more likely to embrace the long American tradition and see it in a positive light. It's always been good, always exceptional. The City on a Hill. They pick George Washington.

Democratic voters are more the love it and change it type....

... and that tends to draw you to Jefferson, with the strong association to the revolution — to the Declaration — and not to the Constitution. He was in France when the Constitution was drafted, and his stay there continued until 1789, the year the French Revolution began.
Only after his return to America in 1789 did Jefferson's rhetoric about the revolution become more heated...

The execution of aristocrats by popular tribunals led to nervous arguments in America and Jefferson's famous letter on which he falls into arguing that the revolution's glorious ends justified apocalyptic means: "My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to the cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam & Eve left in every country, & left free, it would be better than as it now is."...

When Jefferson wrote these words, he did not know that Louis XVI had been executed... By the end of the year... Jefferson concluded that the French people were not yet "virtuous" enough to accept a sudden republicanism after so many years of superstition and despotism and that Louis XVI could have been retained as a limited monarch, thus staving off "those enormities which demoralized the nations of the world, and destroyed, and is yet to destroy, millions and millions of its inhabitants."
What's your American orientation, Washington or Jefferson? Or will you give the 1-percenter his due? I mean James Madison. What would he have had to have done to get more than 1% in that poll?

2 websites were a-merging/The fans began to howl.

"Fans Howl After Weather Site Buys Out Rival."
In the eyes of Weather Underground’s ardent fans, the Weather Channel appears to represent the wrong kind of weather information: personality-driven sunniness and hype, they say, rather than the pure science of data. As Mike Tucker, a computer professional in New Hampshire, put it on Facebook, reacting to news of the deal: “Nooooooooooooooooo! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

The controversy illustrates the deep national divide between those people who just want to know if it’s going to rain, and people who really, really, care about the data underlying the weather. Christopher Maxwell, a manager at a solar energy company in Richmond, Va., is in the really-really-cares-about-the-weather camp. He said he saw the Weather Channel deal as a sad sellout for Weather Underground.

“It seems to happen all the time,” he said. “Something great gets invented and sold in the United States, and it gets bought up and destroyed.”

Weather Underground was founded in 1995 in Ann Arbor, where it grew out of the University of Michigan’s online weather database. The name was a winking reference to the radical group that also had its roots in Ann Arbor....
And the radical group — is it really okay to wink at terrorists? — got its name from Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues": "You don’t need a weatherman/To know which way the wind blows." My post title refers to another Bob Dylan song "All Along The Watchtower": "Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl."

Now, from the first-linked article, I see:
[Wunderground and Weatherbug] are dwarfed by Weather.com and the other properties owned by the Weather Channel, which is owned by a consortium that includes Comcast, Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group. The Weather Channel sites draw almost 50 million visitors a month. But only half of Weather Underground’s users also use Weather.com in a given month, which might be considered a silent protest of sorts.
Bain Capital!

You know, it's 2012 and 2 riders are approaching. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Barack Obama... Bill Ayers... Weather Underground. Make your own connections. Mitt Romney... Bain... Weather Channel....

"'There must be some way out of here,' said the joker to the thief/'There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief'/Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth/None of them along the line know what any of it is worth..."

Do you think this is but a joke?

"Americans had the highest per capita income in the civilized world, paid the lowest taxes—and were determined to keep it that way."

In 1776.
Men wore clothes that were as colorful as the ladies' garb. One male fashion plate in New York ordered a suit of "superfine scarlet plush and a vest of light blue plush." Among the ladies, the beauty business was already a major force in the economy. "Fashion dolls" wearing the latest styles circulated through the city and the country. Women regularly spent a half day getting their hair "permanented" for a ball. Ladies seeking to preserve the sheen of youth spent a fortune on "paints" from China and lip salves from India.
I googled "superfine scarlet plush and light blue plush" and discovered "Colonial Folkways - A Chronicle Of American Life In the Reign of the Georges":
Cuyler of New York ordered a suit of superfine scarlet plush, with shalloon and all trimmings, a coat and vest of light blue hair plush with all the trimmings, and fine shalloon suitable for each. One merchant wanted a claret-colored duffel, another a gay broadcloth coat, vest, and breeches, and still another two pieces of colored gingham for a summer suit. All clothes, even those which were fairly simple and worn by people of moderate means, were adorned with buttons made of brass and other metals, pearl, or cloth covered.
And you, in shorts and a T-shirt, on Independence Day!

"Nothing of importance happened today."

Wrote King George III in his diary, July 4, 1776. Not. He didn't even keep a diary.

From a list of "10 Things You Didn't Know About the Fourth of July."

Happy 4th!

Also, a Meadhouse dialogue:
MEADE (singing): We carried you in our arms...

ME: Why are you singing "Tears of Rage"?

MEADE (talk singing): ... on Independence Day...

ME: Oh....
And here I was thinking he was reading about the Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise divorce, within which there's the topic of Suri getting carried everywhere. I'd just read: "Kids as young as five can be sent to the military like Sea Org. I’m guessing she can’t bring her child-heels or get carried everywhere, which is something Katie would not approve of."
Oh what dear daughter ’neath the sun
Would treat a father so
To wait upon him hand and foot
And always tell him, “No?”
That's what Bob asked, mysteriously. Who is this daughter who always says "no," but waits upon him hand and foot? She sounds pretty devoted. The opposite of a daughter who says "yes," but does nothing. I'm assuming the official Bob Dylan website erroneously placed the question mark inside the quotation mark.

Perhaps the song really is about Independence Day, and the daughter is the United States, carried in the arms of England....

July 3, 2012

Liberals worry that Chief Justice John Roberts has built up political capital...

... which he will spend next term in what will be conservative decisions on things like affirmative action, voting rights, and same-sex marriage.

At the Painted Crackers Café...


... come on, why didn't you think of making a painting of crackers?

(Here's the whole painting, "Metaphysical Interior with Biscuits" ("Interno metafisico con biscotti") by Giorgio de Chirico — at the Chazen Museum in Madison, Wisconsin.)

"I’ll never buy Oreo again."

And: "Disgusted with oreos Being gay is an abmonitation in GOd’s eyes i wont be buying them anymore."

"Here’s a visual for compartmentalization..."

"... pretend as if everything you’re dealing with in your life is a room where you have to walk in and solve an equation on a white board."
You have a countdown clock with less than an hour to get the problem solved, or take a single step in the right direction, and then shut the door and go into another room equally as important. You spend your entire life going from compartment to compartment.

Why did the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration bother to deny the existence of mermaids?

"After all, there are many mythical things that the government doesn’t explicitly deny exist. The United States Bureau of Mines doesn’t issue statements clarifying that no dragons or trolls have been discovered in underground caves or mines, for example."

Pelosi says it's a tax on "free riders" and Limbaugh says "This is the party that celebrates free riders."

After the Supreme Court decision accepting the individual mandate provision of Obamacare by regarding the penalty for not buying insurance as a tax, Nancy Pelosi said:
Who is the penalty on? The penalty is on people who have the wherewithal but refuse to buy health insurance, figuring they won't be sick, and if they do, other people will have to cover it. So these free riders, as they were identified by Governor Romney himself, he said, people have the ability to pay and can't expect to be free riders, and I think that he termed it exactly right. These free riders make health insurance for those who are taking responsibility more expensive. Personal responsibility is a principle of our country. Conservatives claim it. Progressives claim it. Liberals claim it. We all claim it.
So she's using the conservative rhetoric of responsibility. People who don't buy insurance and then take advantage of the healthcare system have been free riders, and it's this free-rider behavior that identifies them as the targets of the new tax. Rush says this is a big "attitude shift" for Democrats. When getting the bill passed, the Democrats mostly called upon us to feel sympathy for people who lacked insurance and to want to help them — a typical liberal theme. They rarely portrayed the uninsured as people who deserved our negative judgment for taking and not contributing — which would sound more conservative.

Rush acts irritated to hear the conservative theme coming from Pelosi.

"As an ideologically based movement, socialism is no longer vital."

"Today it’s a combination of democracy, rule of law and the welfare state, and I’d say a vast majority of Europeans defend this — the British Tories can’t touch the National Health Service without being beheaded."

Andy Griffith has died.

He was 86.

ADDED: I love that Constitution clip, but maybe you think I should have found a clip that featured Andy more than whoever it was he was interacting with (such as Don Knotts in this case). But wasn't it true that Andy was always being low-key like that and letting the other actor bounce off him like crazy?


... from 1881.

Middle-aged women of the 1960s.

We were so much older then.

The Progressive finds it unfair to attack Tammy Baldwin like this.

Baldwin is the Democrat running for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Herb Kohl. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has an ad showing Baldwin participating in last year's Wisconsin protests (along with scenes of the protests that don't include Baldwin).
To independent voters, this ad could play very well. Many people in the state, especially in areas outside of Madison, have very negative connotations of last year’s rallies. Unless you were there and participated in the peaceful demonstrations, this ad confirms what you probably already believe.

As Jim Cavanaugh, former president of the South Central Federation of Labor of Wisconsin, wrote in one of the best recaps of the recall, “Ordinary Wisconsinites outside of Madison have a very negative view of this city of large government office buildings, a fairly high standard of living, and liberal politics. Walker simply exploited an existing bias.”

If the frame worked once, it can work again. So the NRSC is playing the fear of freaky Madison card again.
Is it unfair to stoke the fear of freaky Madison? It correlates pretty well to a fear of too much liberalism (or leftism).

Another fake hate crime.

Student admits that she wrote notes to herself attacking herself for being a lesbian.

Let's remember what lawprof (and Nation columnist) Patricia J. Williams wrote years ago about the Tawana Brawley story: She was "the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there. No matter who did it to her and even if she did it to herself."

Is theft of a "Vote Satan" sign a hate crime?

"We are Satanists… Satanists," said Luigi Bellaviste.
Luigi and Angie Bellaviste belong to the Church of Satan. They even have a Satanic Bible in their home....

“Everybody that sees that sign says, ‘What is going on with those people?,’” said neighbor Mary Morasco.

The couple’s home and yard are decorated with items like a Christmas tree that has been painted black, skulls and the number 666....

“I feel like we’re being treated unfairly because it’s not a so-called mainstream religion,” said Luigi.

“I know of many people who have the Virgin Mary and tons of Jesus memorabilia ‘I Love Jesus’ and what is the difference?” said Angie.
There's your question: What is the difference?

July 2, 2012

A second look at Jan Crawford's "Roberts switched views to uphold health care law."

Reading this article last night, I guessed that one of Crawford's sources was Justice Kennedy and that Chief Justice Roberts shifted his position in the process of writing about the question of severability (that is, whether to strike down the whole law if the individual mandate is unconstitutional). I reread the article today, and I want to highlight and stress 4 points.

1. Crawford never says that Roberts committed to a decision on severability. At the conference after the oral arguments, she says, Roberts voted with the conservative group that the commerce power did not support the mandate, but Roberts was "less clear" on severability. He assigned himself the opinion, and he followed through on the commerce power.

2. One of the sources describes Roberts as becoming "wobbly" by May and failing to adequately explain what he was doing. Once it emerged that Roberts would rely on the taxing power, there was "fair amount of give-and-take with Kennedy and other justices," that one justice described as "arm-twisting." (At least they weren't neck-wringing! (A Wisconsin joke.))

3. I see vanity as a motivation to talk to Crawford:
The two sources say suggestions that parts of the dissent were originally Roberts' actual majority decision for the court are inaccurate, and that the dissent was a true joint effort.

The fact that the joint dissent doesn't mention Roberts' majority was not a sign of sloppiness, the sources said, but instead was a signal the conservatives no longer wished to engage in debate with him.
They didn't like Roberts getting credit for their work, and they didn't like getting called sloppy. It was a strange situation: Court observers were airing suspicions that Roberts had turned, which was (apparently, at least partly) true, but they were using evidence that was (apparently) not true, and that wounded the pride of the dissenting Justices who wanted it to be known that they really did write their own opinion and that they hadn't made careless mistakes. They want respect, it seems. And they don't like Roberts getting all the credit... or perhaps any of the credit.

4. The source(s) want it known that Kennedy, more generally, deserves a great deal of credit for his work over the years on the Court. Here, again, I see vanity, as Crawford — seeming like a mouthpiece — says:
Kennedy has long frustrated conservatives, because he occasionally joins with liberals to provide the key swing vote in cases involving social issues. They openly mock his writing style as grandiose and his jurisprudence as squishy - in other words, changeable and too moderate.

That's not entirely fair to Kennedy....
Kennedy mocked as squishy? But Roberts went wobbly! I'm seeing a pattern to these protestations. I'm seeing a psychodrama here, with Kennedy feeling rivalry toward the Chief, who structured the decision in a way that would tend to draw admiration from many of the media folk who shower affection on Kennedy when he does the things they like. Kennedy — or somebody — seems to have wanted it to be known that it's Roberts' judicial demeanor and craftsmanship that deserves mockery.

At the Remnants of Hard Rock Café...


... we're just trying to give it away.

Racine recall recount ends with the Democrats winning their 1-person majority in the Wisconsin senate.

Subject to challenge by the Republican Wanggaard and, more importantly, subject to the November elections when half the senate is up for grabs with the districts as redrawn by the erstwhile GOP majority.

"3D-printed sugar network to help grow artificial liver."

"Sugar is a very nice material that can be dissolved away in the presence of living tissue very friendly to biological tissue."
We then surrounded the network with the cells that we would like to be fed by the blood vessels when the tissue is implanted - and once we have this structure of pipes-to-be and tissue, we dissolve away the sugar using water...

"We showed that you can use a 3D printer to print an arbitrary network of vessels for any tissue shape or any network of blood vessels, and then surround them with cells that you would like to create the organ out of" said Prof Bhatia.

"Please quit posting pictures of your debit cards, people."

Twitpix nitwits.

A neighbor kid wanted a bike, so Meade got this old bike out of the garage...

... cleaned it up, pumped up the tires, and gave it a quick spin before giving it away.

The new young people, who vaguely remember the 2008 election which was "something about Obama saying we needed a change."

A quote from the opening paragraph of a NYT article about the kids who'll be voting for President for the first time this year.

Who are these people, the super-young voters? They're not the same people who went moony over the "Hope" poster.
“The concern for Obama, and the opportunity for Romney, is in the 18- to 24-year-olds who don’t have the historical or direct connection to the campaign or the movement of four years ago,” said John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics. “We’re also seeing that these younger members of this generation are beginning to show some more conservative traits. It doesn’t mean they are Republican. It means Republicans have an opportunity.”
An opportunity. Think they'll blow it?

"Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle."

"It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true."

Anderson Cooper comes out.

What do you think of Cooper's statement?
pollcode.com free polls 

"When I asked Rebecca Traister what hashtag she would suggest as an alternative to #havingitall..."

"... she came back with: #StumblingTowardParity,‬ #PushingForBetter,‬ #StillWorkingOnIt,‬ #GuysThisIsYourProblemToo,‬ #DemandingMoreForMoreOfUs,‬ #Feminism‬."

How about #reality?

Tweeting with Taranto.

"There were other science fiction writers, and we loved them, just as there were baseball players besides Willie Mays and rock groups besides the Beatles..."

"... but we loved him best, and when I try to remember why, I have to conclude, proudly, that it wasn’t because his alien worlds were so magazine-cover thrilling, or his dystopian predictions so convincing, or his speculative inventions so original — they were, but plenty of others’ were too."

"Johnson is incapable of bullsh*tting."

The quote in the post title, which appears at 3:34 in that video, comes from a GQ Magazine article from last November titled "Is This the Sanest Man Running for President?"

"I don't think I've ever called anybody a genius, except sarcastically."

I just said, to Meade, after he misread the title of the last post as something I'd written, when it was a quote from a Wall Street Journal editorial. (Not that the Wall Street Journal was calling anybody a genius. It was characterizing what other people were saying about John Roberts, and, in my view overstating it.)

I decided to check my impulsive assertion. Have I ever called anybody a "genius" (without sarcasm)?

On February 15, 2008, I called Jane Fonda "some kind of media genius... a media genius — a media whore." And I called Eve Ensler "genius" for thinking up a play — "The Vagina Monogues" — that's so completely easy to produce and perform — "3 women sit on stools and get to read their lines off index cards."

On June 28, 2001, Howard Kurtz had called Mitt Romney a "boring genius," and I restated that as "a genius at being boring."

On March 14, 2012, I called Rush Limbaugh a "media genius," but not "enough of a genius" to have deliberately set off the Sandra Fluke flap for publicity purposes.

On December 30, 2011, I said "The guy's a genius!" about James Franco, but that was complete sarcasm.

October 14, 2011, I say this about Steve Jobs: "Here we are, mourning our loss of a genius, and the genius (apparently) fell for the monumental stupidity of 'alternative' medicine." I'm only referring to his reputation as a genius, and I'm calling him stupid.

June 14, 2011: I say "The idiot is a genius!" about Sarah Palin.

January 24, 2008: I refer to Dolly Parton as a "pop culture genius."

I see I need to amend my original quote: I don't think I've ever called anybody a genius, except sarcastically or in the specific category of genius: media genius.

ADDED: Contemplate the possibility that John Roberts is a genius — a media genius.

"The commentary on John Roberts's solo walk into the Affordable Care Act wilderness is converging on a common theme: The Chief Justice is a genius."

"All of a sudden he is a chessmaster, a statesman, a Burkean minimalist, a battle-loser but war-winner, a Daniel Webster for our times."

So begins the Wall Street Journal editorial, overstating the convergence and — big surprise — setting up a critique of the Chief. His approach to the taxing power, the editors say, is new and scarily unconstrained. They're disturbed that Congress can configure a tax that shapes behavior that it could not simply command, and yet they admit — as they must — that tax law does that all the time. Congress can't compel you to go into debt to buy a house, but you'll pay less taxes if you have a mortgage interest deduction. Congress can't require you to get married, but single taxpayers get stuck with higher tax rates. Why is this new area of taxing so shocking?

"Nothing seems to me to be rarer today than genuine hypocrisy."

From a list of 35 aphorisms about lying.

But none of the aphorisms on the list is the aphorism I am looking for. You know the feeling that there is an aphorism that's already out there for something you're trying to say in aphorism form. You can say it briefly, but not in the words that must be in the aphorism.

Here's as close as I can get to saying what seems to me to be a rough paraphrase for a reasonably well-known aphorism: He who lies about small things will lie about big things. Or: Little lies foretell big lies.

What I'm looking for is the "Where there's smoke, there's fire" of lying.

July 1, 2012

Sources tell Jan Crawford that Chief Justice Roberts really did switch sides.

The CBS reporter heard from "two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations."
Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court's four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law...

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy - believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law - led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold....

"A week ago, 36% said the court was doing a good or an excellent job. That’s down to 33% today."

That's Rasmussen's new poll, which also has 28% saying the Court is doing a "poor job," which is "up 11 points over the past week." And "56% believe justices pursue their own political agenda... up five points from a week ago."
Thirty-seven percent (37%) now believe the Supreme Court is too liberal, while 22% think it's too conservative. A week ago, public opinion was much more evenly divided:  32% said it was too liberal and 25% said too conservative.
What we'll never know is what these numbers would have been if the case had gone the other way — if Chief Justice Roberts hadn't found that tax loophole.  (Am I the first person to wisecrack that Roberts found a tax loophole?)

I'm guessing that the opinion shift would have been greater if the Court had done the more dramatic thing and taken the whole health-care reform down, as the dissenting conservative justices wanted to do. For one thing, the media would have gone nuts attacking the Court. We do know that, I think, because they pre-condemned the Court pretty severely on the mere anticipation of the decision that was not to be.

St. Patrick's Old Cathedral gets 4-and-a-half stars on Yelp.

"How can you not give a Church 5-stars - maybe it's just the Catholic guilt in me but if you go to Church, even if only once a year, you should give it 5-stars :-)"

I never noticed Yelp had ratings on churches. Fascinating. I was Googling St. Patrick's Old Cathedral — which is in Little Italy in New York, prompting one Yelpist to say "it's funny when the patron saint of another country is in the wrong ethnic neighborhood." She gives 4-and-a-half stars, and perhaps that half-star deduction is for ethnicity mismatching.

The Romneys — 30 of them, on summer vacation — do the Romney Olympics, family meetings, chores from the "chore wheel," and talent shows on the sage that "Papa" (Mitt) built.

WaPo reports from Wolfeboro, New Hampshire:
The Romney Olympics have long included a mini-triathlon of biking, swimming and running that pits Mitt and his five sons and their wives against one another. But after Mitt once nearly finished last, behind a daughter-in-law who had given birth to her second child a couple of months earlier, the ultra-competitive and self-described unathletic patriarch expanded the games to give himself a better shot.

Now they also compete to see who can hang onto a pole the longest, who can throw a football the farthest and who can hammer the most nails into a board in two minutes....

By day, the Romneys kayak and water ski — one sport at which Mitt excels — play tennis and basketball, stage a “home-run derby” and horse around on a slip-and-slide. Most of the grandchildren (there are now 18) put on a talent show on a stage that Papa, as they call Mitt, constructed in the backyard....

At night, the adults gather for family meetings, with each evening focused on a frank and full discussion of a different son’s career moves and parenting worries.

Each member of the family picks a daily chore from a “chore wheel,” so as to share cleaning tasks evenly....
That's so damned wholesome, I don't know what to say. I'm considering something politically cranky like: Imagine how the media would fall over themselves describing the perfection of Obama if his family had a vacation with even one third this much family-osity. Eh. Too predictable! Make your own jokes.

"I had my tonsils out and was in the Evelyn Nursing Home feeling sorry for myself. Wittgenstein called."

Wrote Fania Pascal, back in the 1930:
I croaked: “I feel just like a dog that has been run over.” He was disgusted: “You don’t know what a dog that has been run over feels like.”
That's quoted in Harry G. Frankfurt's book "On Bullshit." Frankfurt aptly wonders if that really happened like that:
It seems extraordinary, almost unbelievable, that anyone could object seriously to what Pascal reports herself as having said. That characterization of her feelings — so innocently close to the utterly commonplace “sick as a dog” — is simply not provocative enough to arouse any response as lively or intense as disgust. If Pascal’s simile is offensive, then what figurative or allusive uses of language would not be?

"Daybreak Sunday found 789,358 in the Washington region still without power..."

"... facing another sweltering day and the prospect of returning to work Monday before electricity is restored to their homes."

Seems like an occasion to make political jokes, but I'll refrain.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz offers to "make a deal on this email thing."

Email thing. That's the way this woman addresses me (in email received this morning). She's referring to the thing of her sending fundraising email on Saturdays.
But I'm doing it because the stakes this year are so incredibly high....

So let's make a deal:

You pitch in $3, or really whatever you can, before our critical FEC fundraising deadline tonight to help those Democrats out...

And I promise you, this will be the last email you get from me today.
Comedy. It's what's for breakfast.