July 14, 2012

At the Flower Beetle Café...


... you can find a place inside.

"The Lessons For Facebook, Twitter And Reddit In Digg's Demise."

"If one virtual community can go from being worth almost $164 million to getting sold for parts in just a few years, why not another one?"
Reddit has largely supplanted Digg as the go-to watering hole for social new, avoiding the sort of sudden moves that could have spooked its users. Its growth trajectory has been strong, but Scorcini believes it will soon hit a ceiling. “As successful as Reddit has been in the wake of Digg’s downfall, it’s kind of a dinosaur,” he says. “They’ll be superseded by the larger social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.” Still, as Matt Drudge can tell you, even a dinosaur can hang around for a long time as long as it knows its niche.

Ant Theory.

"Women Are Awkwardly Attempting to Go to Lunch With New Internet Friends."

"Let's just be honest for a second: making female friends is hard in a new city."
You want to be like, "Hey, want to get a drink sometime?" and then you don't because you're scared, and then a few days later she Tweets something about how much she likes Dane Cook or how much she hates abortion, and you're like "FUUUUUU," and then you just gestate sadly at your computer until the next person you sorta-know invites you out and you go girl-hunting once again.
The link goes to a Jezebel item, which links to this NYT article

By the way, there's a very extensive discussion about abortion in the comments to yesterday's post about Condoleeza Rice, including lots of participation by me (starting about halfway down).

ADDED: Gestate?

"Depression-era green was the enduring color scheme."

Remembering Drake's Sandwich Shops.
Through the Great Depression, World War II, the Baby Boom, the Beatles, Vietnam, Watergate, disco, and Reagan, Drake's sold chocolate cordials, orange marmalade sandwiches, pecan rolls, and limeade (fresh-squeezed, with the rind in the glass) to three generations of University of Michigan students....

When the Michigan Alumnus solicited memories of Drake's from readers, a surprising number said they had dated their future spouses there.
I know I did. I'm no longer married to my old Michigan classmate, but we loved the limeade, and now I'm with l.meade.

Randy Barnett talks about winning on the Commerce Clause, but losing the Obamacare case.

"Jerry, just remember. It's not a lie... if you believe it..."

"[I]f they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff."

"But don’t forget nothing is really free. It has to paid for by people in the private sector creating goods and services, and if people want jobs more than they want free stuff from government, then they are going to have to get government to be smaller. And if they don’t want to repeal Obamacare they are going to have to give me some other stuff they are thinking about cutting, but my list takes Obamacare off first and I have a lot of other things I am thinking of cutting."

This is a Romney quote that is getting a lot of play right now, notably from Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone, who goes all racial:
Wow. If you live long enough, you’ll see some truly gross things in politics, but Mitt Romney’s work this past week "courting black support" was enough to turn even the strongest stomach.

Romney really showed us something in his luridly self-congratulating N.A.A.C.P. gambit, followed by the awesomely disgusting "free stuff" post-mortem speech he delivered the next night in front of friendlier audiences. The twin appearances revealed the candidate to be not merely unlikable, and not merely a fatuous, unoriginal hack of a politician, but also a genuinely repugnant human being, a grasping corporate hypocrite with so little feel for how to get along with people that he has to dream up elaborate schemes just to try to pander to the mob.
Taibbi takes the quote out of context, ending with the line in the title, and omitting the important "But don’t forget nothing is really free" and the rest of Romney's simple exposition of economic truth.

So... something's disgusting. There are some truly gross things in politics. I agree about that.

"How can you keep on loving someone when he turns your world upside down?"

"Be afraid. Be very afraid."

I ended the previous post with that old sci-fi movie tag line.
I think what is going on right now is an effort to create a mindset, and emotional orientation toward Romney. Business is an alien entity. It's scary and mystifying, and Romney is part of that. You can't understand it, so don't even try. [NYT columnist Gail] Collins is planting the seed of fear. You laugh now. You won't even feel it. But it will grow. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Please pay attention to that. It's what's happening right now, and it is an effort to emotionally manipulate people in a way Obamans are counting on. It's The Framing.

But what is the source of "Be afraid, be very afraid"? I was thinking "Alien." But the original "Alien" tagline was "In space no one can hear you scream."

"Be afraid, be very afraid" came from... Googling... the 1986 version of "The Fly." I love that movie, the one with Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis.

Speaking of tags, this blog has long had a tag for "insect politics" — based on the line from "The Fly" "Have you heard of insect politics? Neither have I."

Full text: "Have you heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects don't have politics.... they're very brutal. No compassion.... no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first insect politician. I'd like to, but.... I'm an insect.... who dreamed he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake."

And speaking of Obama and "The Fly," remember Obama and the fly?

And speaking of dreams being over? Remember the dream?

"It was Romney’s Star Trek moment. They were always talking about entities on Star Trek, and entities were very seldom good news."

Bizarre paragraph in a NYT op-ed column by Gail Collins. Why did she write that? It follows this:
Romney gave five network television interviews... on Friday. While it was true that a bunch of Securities and Exchange Commission filings submitted into the new millennium described Romney as Bain Capital’s boss, that was a technicality, he told CNN.

Well, actually, he said, “I was the owner of an entity that is filing that information.” Also that there’s a difference between an owner and “a person who’s running an entity.”
So... he used the word "entity," and I guess if you don't have much familiarity with the world of business or law but you have watched television, "entity" sounds like something from outer space to you.

"He sure as heck ought to say that he’s sorry for the kinds of attacks that are coming from his team."

That's how Romney demands an apology (from Obama).

What do you think of the form of expression?
pollcode.com free polls 

July 13, 2012

"Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style."

An aphorism by Matthew Arnold that begins the first of 10 lessons in the excellent book "Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace."

"During that conversation, the police officials said, the officer allegedly said he would shoot the first lady..."

"... and then used his phone to retrieve a picture of the firearm that he said he would use. It was not immediately clear what type of firearm was allegedly shown."
[In a Friday television interview on NewsChannel 8, District Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D)] called the allegations “ridiculous in the sense that it’s hard to believe a police officer would do something, you know, say the kinds of things that were said, and I hope he didn’t, to be honest with you. But there’s no room for jokes or frivolity when you’re dealing with the first family.”...

On Thursday, a Secret Service spokesman said... [t]he agency “respects the right to free speech... However, we have an obligation to determine the intent of the speaker.”

"Not wearing hoodies or not wearing skirts isn’t going to change anything."

Key sentence in a column by Petula Dvorak titled "Blog post about sexual assault in D.C. unleashes torrent of women’s stories."

Russ Feingold on the Wisconsin recall: "I wouldn't have won either."

The audience gasped.

These were 500 people at First Unitarian Society who'd showed up for a talk  organized by the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin — on "the role of interfaith communities in the labor movement."
Feingold said that interfaith groups will play a key role in healing the current partisan divide in the state. He said he saw that dynamic in action while in the Senate.

"Whenever we had a really tough fight," said Feingold, "we'd bring in the clergy. They seemed to just briefly lift us from our egos, our own infighting politics. They seemed to momentarily elevate us to talk more about fundamental values that underlie the political effort in this country."

What happened to all the manly men?

The NYT asks a bunch of people, including Natasha Scripture, who says:
Come to think of it, I haven’t met a manly man in quite some time. Maybe because most of them live in Montana. Or Texas. Or Sicily! They’re certainly rare sightings in New York City because here the abundant local species seems to be the metrosexual.
Oh! Metrosexual. I haven't seen that word for a long time. I'm thinking it fell out of fashion because... Barack Obama? But it's reviving because somebody at the NYT thinks Obama is manlier than Mitt Romney. (He just points at a name on a list and a guy half a globe away explodes — to smithereens.) But, no, maybe it's not that. Maybe it's "50 Shades of Grey" being a big bestseller and somebody at the NYT inferring that their female readers are tired of less manly men, so it's time to bring back the old epithet. Or, hell, maybe ladies are reading "50 Shades of Grey" because of Barack Obama. Whatever. Anyway, back to Natasha Scripture (love the name):
And as much as I can appreciate a man who knows his sashimi, the more carnal, female side of me wants to see him tuck into a heaping plate of meat and potatoes; and to toss aside the cologne and let pheromones take charge. Yes, gentlemen, you’re allowed to sweat in my divine presence.

Also, when it comes to so-called manly traits, I would be kind of a masochist if I didn’t want a man with some level of emotional availability. But please, is it too much to ask that he not cry on a first date?...

I hope we don’t become so much like each other that we end up essentially morphing into one androgynous being. That would just be plain weird.
Lots of things are weird. Like longing for masculinity, then calling yourself "divine" and dispensing precise instructions for just enough but not much manliness. But it's not so weird to sigh about how everyone you think you might want is somewhere other than on the small island where you live. But what can you do? Go to Montana?

There are 7 other essays in this NYT set....

Mark Simpson, author of "Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story," says:
Continuing to fret about [manliness] means men being sold prissy lists of “manly” dos and don'ts. Or reactionary ideology, such as the mendacious “menaissance.” Or a dodgy daydream of a “manly” past, such as an impossibly pretty, fastidious advertising creative, who is also a basket-case army deserter. And entirely fictional.
What? Those are words, and I know what they all mean. But I don't know what they mean together. Presumably: Stop thinking about it.

Joel Stein,  author of "Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity," says:
I got messed up by my feminist mom in the 1970s, who taught me that gender was a social construct. I can’t believe that social experiment went on as long as it did, since it’s clear by month six of having a child that William does not want a doll....
His boy is masculine. Problem solved for Joel Stein.

Still 5 more essays, but that's it for me.

"For the bridge [of 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin''], Phil experimented on the piano with a 'Hang On Sloopy' riff. It was brilliant."

That would be Phil Spector, as described by the songwriter Barry Mann, who says:
I built a melody on the riff while Cynthia shouted out lyrics: "Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you" and so on. When we met the Righteous Brothers a few days later, we were nervous they might not like it.
Cynthia is co-writer Cynthia Weil, who says:
Bill and Bobby [Hatfield, The Righteous Brothers] stood at the piano while Barry played and sang the melody and Phil sang harmony. At the end, there was dead silence. Bill said, "Sounds good — for the Everly Brothers." At first he didn't hear the soul. So Phil asked them to try it.

Mr. Mann: But Phil wanted Bill to sing the verses alone, with Bobby joining on the chorus.

Ms. Weil: They had always sung together, and Bobby wasn't happy. He said to Phil, "What am I supposed to do while the big guy is singing?" Phil snapped, "You can go to the bank."
Phil snapped, eh? Well, look out. Phil Spector is in prison right now, for killing a woman. Had you forgotten?

I love the picture of Mann and Weil at the link. It's exactly the way I like to think songwriting teams of that era looked. It makes me want to get a shag rug and some index cards and lie down on the floor with my bare feet up on the sofa where Meade is stretched out, dressed in white (including white crew socks), strumming out some chords on the guitar. And I come up with lines about something beautiful dying or whatever and then our crazy friend comes in and bangs out the intro to "Louie Louie" or "Mony Mony" or "I Want Candy" and suddenly that's the bridge and I'm jotting on the index cards "We had a love...a love...a love you don't find every day..."

The screw, screwed.



Text: "What is happening to the tip of this sculpture? The polyurethane is undergoing reversion, a very slow irreversible process whereby the solid converts to a viscous liquid."

Now, the screw curving over isn't part of this slow, irreversible process of reversion. The sculpture is "Soft Screw," by Claes Oldenburg, and he intended the big screw to droop like that. Only the slow dripping from the tip — see the drop on the plinth? — is unintended. The "soft screw" wasn't supposed to be that soft. Ironic. Sad.

Are you undergoing any reversion or other very slow irreversible processes?

"Given that a firework is basically a bomb, Stephenson has been charged with attempted second degree murder of a law enforcement officer."

"This is a very serious offense, especially so given that the intended victims were cops. [Khasim] Stephenson could face life imprisonment for the fireworks attack even though he didn't injure anyone."

"A Kentucky man's family was able to satisfy his dying wish this week and give a local waitress an emotional surprise when they gave her a $500 tip on a pizza."

I loved this story — which includes a viral video of the delighted waitress — until I got to the part about the website using this video to collect donations which will purportedly be used to give more giant tips to unsuspecting waiters and waitresses. Yes, it's charming at first, including the dead guy's will:
“He left us a will full of his personality,” his brother Seth wrote in a July 9 post on a tribute website. “He asked that any debt he owed his parents be repaid should he have money in the bank at his death, but also had the following request: Third, leave an awesome tip (and I don’t mean 25%. I mean $500 on a f***ing pizza) for a waiter or waitress.”
I have no idea how sincere or trustworthy these people are, but they're getting massive publicity of the kind that can unleash torrents of donations. Remember all the pity in the form of money that flowed in to the bus monitor lady who had no idea how to monitor her bus? (Did you know she rejected the apologies the kids offered?)

Money sloshes around all over the internet. People get a kick out of tossing a few dollars into something that made their heart swell. The kick is real and probably better than the kick people get from buying a lottery ticket. Why raise suspicions when it's all about feelings? You might give money to a guy on the street who tells you a sob story or just asks for money in a way that amuses you. What's the difference? It's a free market.

Do you want more rationality in charity? Or is it all about feelings? 

WaPo Fact Checker gives the Obama campaign 3 "Pinocchios" for using Bain's SEC documents to portray Romney as a criminal.

Glenn Kessler went back over the story (which yesterday he characterized as already well-studied and rejected). Excerpt:
We readily admit that there is grey area about Romney’s involvement with Bain in the 1999-2002 period, because his future post-Olympics role had not been settled and the future of Bain Capital was in flux. Some have seized on the SEC documents as evidence, but we think there are two stronger pieces of evidence that trump these random filings.

"The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."

They "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest."
The findings of the 267-page report could be seen as evidence of a changing university climate in which the corporate brand — and a blind faith in big-time athletics—is often seen as more important than the educational mission....
In a confidential note, [Gary C. Schultz, the former senior vice president for finance and business] wrote, "Behavior — at best inappropriate @ worst sexual improprieties." He also noted, "Is this the opening of Pandora's box?" and "Other children?"...

Why is the Condi-for-VP rumor being floated?

1. It's a slow week, and everybody's looking for page views.

2. It helps offset the story about Romney getting booed at the NAACP convention, which conveyed the vague message that Romney has nothing to offer black people. What if he had Condi? That puts everything in a different light. Suddenly, he's not — what the hell did Rush Limbaugh call him? — "Snow White with testicles."

3. It's not much fun dragging out the veepstakes over the prospect that it's going to be Rob Portman, but it could be Tim Pawlenty. Quite aside from the white-with-testicles problem, it's just so predictable and dull. We need to be tantalized first, and nobody's more tantalizing than Condoleezza Rice. Except Sarah Palin. But Romney's too white-bread to tantalize us with Sarah. It's "white-bread" to go with the black lady? Yes! She's very solid and serious. She's gravitas personified.

4. Send the Obama campaign into a tizzy. Make them spend time and money preparing to push back Condi. Will they have to worry that she's more authentically black — American black — than Barack Obama? How will that debate about race be framed? Complicated. Here's something Rice said to the Republican National Convention in 2000: "My father joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did." What will the Obama people do if that sort of thing is thrown in their face? Let them worry about it.

5. Somebody trying to make money on Intrade?

Condoleeza Rice is "either very worried about a socialist threat to America, or she wants to be Vice President."

Said a "Romney surrogate" about the 13-minutes speech Condi gave at a recent "closed-door fundraising retreat" for Romney in Park City. Audio of the speech at the link.

I arrived at that link via Drudge, who is pushing the Condi-for-VP story big time. Here's what Drudge looks like as I write this. Continuing with its recent black-and-white design theme, Drudge has a big photo of Condi, with a headline leading to a Drudge Report "exclusive":
Late Thursday evening, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign launched a new fundraising drive, 'Meet The VP' -- just as Romney himself has narrowed the field of candidates to a handful, sources reveal.

And a surprise name is now near the top of the list: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice!

The timing of the announcement is now set for 'coming weeks'....

It was Condi who received two standing ovations at Romney's Utah retreat a few weeks ago, and everyone left with her name on their lips.

Rice made an extended argument for American leadership in the world.
Romney could use a sidekick who will speak with gravitas about foreign policy. But does Condi know how to run for office? (She knows how to behave in the national spotlight, so she's in a better position to jump into this role than Sarah Palin was, even though Palin had run for office in Alaska.) What about the fact that Rice supports abortion rights? (Romney is going to need a lot of votes from people, like me, who support abortion rights. If we are willing to vote for him even though he opposes abortion rights, pro-lifers should be able to deal with a pro-choice VP.)

"Copying Is Not Theft."

ADDED: Some analysis by a lawprof, Stuart P. Green:
The problem is that most people simply don’t buy the claim that illegally downloading a song or video from the Internet really is like stealing a car. According to a range of empirical studies, including one conducted by me and my social psychologist collaborator, Matthew Kugler, lay observers draw a sharp moral distinction between file sharing and genuine theft, even when the value of the property is the same....

[W]e should recognize that the criminal law is least effective — and least legitimate — when it is at odds with widely held moral intuitions.

... People who work hard to produce creative works are entitled to enjoy legal protection to reap the benefits of their labors. And if others want to enjoy those creative works, it’s reasonable to make them pay for the privilege. But framing illegal downloading as a form of stealing doesn’t, and probably never will, work. We would do better to consider a range of legal concepts that fit the problem more appropriately: concepts like unauthorized use, trespass, conversion and misappropriation.
That is, let's be realistic and honest about what we really think is morally wrong in this area and adapt the law to that. Obviously, our ideas about morality and intellectual property have shifted with the changing technology and — let's face it — our desire to justify what we've done and what we want to do. We're talking about statutory law, and this is a democracy, so we can have what we want. We just need to think rationally and long-term about what will give us what we want.

Here's Stuart P. Green's book, upon which the linked op-ed is based — "Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle: Theft Law in the Information Age."

July 12, 2012

At the Karloff Café...

... Boris Karloff seems strangely familiar.

(Via Michael Stipe's Tumblr, via this NYT article about Tumblr.)

ADDED: For reference:



"It's funny - when I ran, everybody said, well he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job?"

"And in my first two years, I think the notion was, 'Well, he's been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where's the story that tells us where he's going?' And I think that was a legitimate criticism."

President Obama, explaining his "biggest mistake" which was "thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right" and missing that "the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times."

The people who voted for him, including me, really did expect him to bring the country "a sense of unity and purpose and optimism," but I don't think a "story" is what we needed. He came to us with a story — his life story, told in his "Dreams" book, and somehow that led to people imagining him able to bring the country a new sense of unity and purpose and optimism. He chose, however, to do policy that simply wasn't unifying. It was highly partisan and divisive, and for the longest time it has felt as though he is simply running for reelection. So the "story" of Barack Obama, the President, is not a compelling story at all.

And now, he seems to be saying: I'm such a great speechmaker, so if only I'd speechified more I could have sold all my policies as a good story, like I sold myself in the first place as a good story. As if all he really needed was more words. He's so good with words.

Oh, that reminds me of something from the David Maraniss biography of Obama, which is, interestingly, called "Barack Obama: The Story" (pp. 299-300):
One of his English teachers at Punahou was Barbara Czurles-Nelson.... Barry was not the most talkative student in her class, she recalled. He would sit near the back of the room, relaxed, waiting for his opening in the conversation. One day they were dealing with a philosophical question about what people should most fear. The answers included loneliness, death, hell, and war. Then Barry straightened up. That was the sign that he was ready to participate, Nelson thought, when he was sure to sharpen the class discussion. “Words,” he said. “Words are the power to be feared most.… Whether directed personally or internationally, words can be weapons of destruction.”
Words! How fearsome! If only he could put them in the right order, into a story, this would all work out all right. Does he really believe that?

WaPo Fact Checker is "considering whether to once again take a deeper look at this, though it really feels like Groundhog Day again."

It's the old Romney-departure-from-Bain story:
There appears to be some confusion about how partnerships are structured and managed, or what SEC documents mean. (Just because you are listed as an owner of shares does not mean you have a managerial role.)
Why's everyone digging around in this again: "Millions of dollars of attack ads by the Obama campaign are hanging in the balance. "

ADDED: Here's how the Obama campaign is exploiting this story in email received at 8:07 pm this evening. The subject line is "Romney's Bain lie exposed":



Via Metafilter, where the song association was "You spin me right round, baby, right round like a record." Mine was "Dizzy."

The average rent in Manhattan is $3,778, up 9% in a year.

And for a studio, it's $2,569 — up 18.8% in the past year.
Real-estate agent Josh Lichy, 27, appreciated the rental crunch first-hand when he and his girlfriend were hit with a $300 increase, from $3,000 to $3,300 for their 750-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment at 160 Riverside Drive. “It’s too much. We want to have money to spend so we’re not rent-poor,” he said.
Rent-poor. That's derived from house poor, but quite different. If you're house poor, you're building wealth in the form of equity (unless prices fall). But a rented apartment isn't a repository of money set aside for the future. It's as gone as if you'd blown it on a European vacation.

As for small apartments in NYC, we've been talking about Mayor Bloomberg's competition for designing tiny apartments called "micro-units." Well, here's a NYT article about furnishing your micro-unit. It's bizarrely — mockingly — unhelpful, suggesting a chewable toothbrush, a very small dog, and growing plants on your wall in some doodad that hangs over the fireplace. Hello? Get a normal toothbrush. Don't keep any pets. And you won't even have a fireplace. But I love the idea — in the photo at the NYT link — of putting your handgun right there next to your objets on one of the étagères that flank the fireplace that you won't have in your micro-unit.

But if you have a micro-unit, you may want to compensate by getting a gun.

49% of likely voters want "strict legal interpretation" of the Constitution.

And only 21% think that's what we're getting. 60% think the Supreme Court is giving us the so-called "living" version of the document.
Male voters are more inclined to favor strict interpretation of the Constitution, while female voters prefer more legal flexibility and tend to see it as a living document. Most voters under 40 see the Constitution as a living document; most older voters think the Constitution should be strictly interpreted.
Why are women like younger folk and men like older folk? Strict/flexible — what's that about?

What, exactly, makes some people express beliefs in the value of flexibility — or is it "living" — and others in the value of strictness? It would be simplistic to think that women (and young people) are themselves loose and flexible, while men (and old people) are strict and inflexible, because we learn perhaps only what feelings superficially attract them and how they like to think about themselves. I'm tough and neutral/I'm nuanced and merciful. So you say.

The 200 greatest novels, stories, and poems...

... for $2.99. (The Complete Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction, "carefully selected by the world's leading experts on literature and philosophy at Harvard University.")

The complete works of Tolstoy for $1.99.

The complete works of Dickens for $2.99.

And here are the complete works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau — together at last — for $1.99

What a world we live in! You can carry it all with you in a 6-ounce device. (Or something fancier.)


Somebody asked recently if I can see what it is you buy when you enter Amazon through my links, and the answer is yes. For example, somebody bought a compressor. Thanks!

ADDED: It's not the complete works of Leo Tolstoy, but — as revealed at the link once you get past the mistranscribed titled — 25+ works by Leo Tolstoy. It's missing some things I like, including "What Is Art?" I'm guessing the omissions have to do with the lack of translations. I'm always wary of these low-priced editions of literature to be read in translation. Personally, I bought all the items linked in this post except the Tolstoy. But note: there are some works in translation in the Harvard Classics collection (e.g., "Old Goriot").

"With the help of a three-month, multi-million-dollar ad blitz, first-time candidate and wealthy businessman Eric Hovde..."

"... has reshuffled the Republican race for US Senate and emerged as a legitimate threat to the best-known figure in the field, former governor Tommy Thompson, two new polls suggest."

Where's the tipping point? The received wisdom is Tommy said he wants it and therefore it's Tommy's. But look at these new polls. I think there is potential for a sudden shift toward Hovde if people overcome the presumption that the nomination belongs to Tommy.

Understand: Hovde is one of the conservative alternatives to Thompson, and serious conservatives find Thompson insufficiently conservative, but of course they want to win the Senate seat in the end. So there's some risk-taking in jumping from Tommy to one of the conservatives. There are 2 other conservatives in the race — former congressman Mark Neumann and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald — and both of them were much more well-known than Hovde, though much less well-known than Tommy Thompson. Hovde has now leveraged himself to the top of the conservative triad, which means that those who want someone from the conservative triad now know, with these 2 new polls, that they must coalesce around Hovde, or yield to the massive force that is Thompson.

"Basically, if she wins, then every single junior office worker in law or finance should be able to sue their employers."

"Which makes me think she’s not going to win."

ADDED: But if she wins... maybe women will be able to have it all.

"Report: Penn State leaders, including ex-coach Joe Paterno, concealed Jerry Sandusky's activities to avoid bad publicity."

Email from CNN Breaking News.

Breaking news? It's some kind of weird mind game. You get breaking news and the news is that you didn't already know that.

CNN is using "Breaking News" the way the least-funny guy who thinks he's a comedian uses the phrase to try to make jokes.

ADDED: Here's a detailed story about the release of the independent report, which is the work of former FBI director Louis J. Freeh.

"Cleansing" — basically, juice-drinking — with co-workers is a big trend in NYC.

Or so the NYT says in this big article, which seems a bit like an ad for a product called "Cooler Cleanse":
Eric Helms, who founded the four-year-old Cooler Cleanse company with the actress Salma Hayek, says office cleansers now make up 30 percent of his business, and in the last year he has hired three customer-service employees just to handle the details of them.
Salma Hayek! She has something to do with you working in an office. Buy this juice.
Last year Oprah Winfrey’s entire production staff in Chicago completed a three-day cleanse...

Recent six-juice-a-day-dieters include employees at Merrill Lynch and the Carlyle Group, she said. In May, Citigroup began offering BluePrintCleanse in some of its Manhattan cafeterias, a spokeswoman said. Restaurant Associates, which runs the cafeteria, declined to explain the decision.

The popularity of cleanses continues to rise, even as health experts seem dubious about the efficacy of some of these diets. “Your liver and kidneys can handle toxins just fine,” said Joan Salge Blake, a Boston University associate professor of nutrition, who has studied fad diets. “There’s no science to back up cleansing.”
Seem dubious?!

The thing about the "corporate cleanse" is that it reaches men. Without this new approach to marketing the dubious product, the customers would be mostly women.
Jina Wye, director of sales and marketing for BluePrintCleanse...  said: “These Type-A men have an all-or-none perspective. If they’re going to commit, they do it whole hog.” Most popular among male en masse cleansers: the Excavation cleanse, described on the Web site as “the most intense.”
Now, I'm thinking about the corporate bathrooms, and I'm a little scared.
Office cleanses are rarely corporate sponsored, subsidized or sanctioned. Several companies declined to allow employees to speak publicly about them because cleansing is a sensitive issue.

In March, @VeraWanggang tweeted: “Have been inspired by @glamour to try @coolercleanse. We are doing it as a team so none of us flake.” But the spokeswoman Priya Shukla said in an e-mail that she decided recently that the company won’t comment on diet or nutrition, which she noted are “personal choices.”
Ha ha. You can see why it's "sensitive." Management bullying everyone to participate in a completely unscientific pseudo-medical treatment? We are doing it as a team so none of us flake. "Flake" is the perfectly ironic word choice. You may not flake, but you are flakes. I'd rather get stuck with a boss who insisted that the underlings join his prayer groups.
“I felt like I kept hearing about juice cleanses, and I thought, ‘I’ll try anything, let me see what this is all about,’ ” said [Peter Alfano, a Citigroup vice president, 37]. Cleansing with colleagues appealed to him because of the moral support. “We would all hang out together at lunchtime, and we’d take our bottles to the park,” he said. “You can’t wait for it to end, but the feeling of accomplishment is amazing.”
You drank a bottle of juice in the park. Something a toddler does. Yet you have an amazing feeling of accomplishment. And you needed a support group to do it. And you wanted to do it because you kept hearing about it. Not because you looked up the research on the subject. Just: People are talking about this, so I'll try it and see what it's all about. Could people please start talking about science and behaving like an adult so maybe this corporate VP might try it? He says he's try anything.
Those who choose to drink the kale at other offices reported enjoying creating rituals around the cleanse, if not always the juices (and the endless trips to the bathroom). 
See? People lapse into religion mode. Your childish take-my-bottle-to-the-park and going-poopie is now a cult. Congratulations, morons!
At the Madison Avenue office of the fashion Web site Moda Operandi, every empty bottle was slammed triumphantly on the Ping-Pong table. 
Ooh! Macho. What big (ping pong) balls you have!
At the Brooklyn outpost of a Big Four accounting firm, there was a first tentative sip in unison of that hour’s concoction, followed by tasting notes — while cleanse dropouts were referred to as “doing the walk of shame” to the refrigerator....
Shaming. In the office. And what are "tasting notes"? Like that crap people write about wine?
Co-workers don’t let co-workers drink alone, suggests the BluePrintCleanse Web site, noting that “happy side effects include increased energy, productivity, focus and clarity (which come in handy at the office.)” Cleansers may dispute the promise of alertness (“I felt like I was jet-lagged,” said Cynthia Rooney, who drank with 10 Ralph Lauren colleagues), but many agreed they were more productive.
Many agreed. Who's going to volunteer that they are less productive?

And who's going to puncture all that happiness with an explanation of the placebo effect? Not the New York Times.

The most "universally impactful" televised events.

But it's based on a survey, so here are some things that people think were more powerful than the Kennedy assassination:
3. O.J. Simpson verdict (1995)...
6. O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase (1994)...
9. BP oil spill (2010)
10. Princess Diana's funeral (1997)
11. Death of Whitney Houston (2012)...
13. Barack Obama's acceptance speech (2008)
14. The Royal Wedding (2011)
The Kennedy funeral is a separate TV presentation, coming in at #20, right after the Casey Anthony verdict.

ADDED: The shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, live on TV, was a separate event, not on the list at all.

July 11, 2012

At the Althouse Café...

... you can talk all night.

No photographs today. Sorry. Here's a portal to Amazon, in case you want to buy something and simultaneously show appreciation for this blog.

Please use the comments section to talk about whatever you like.

Lower self-confidence might make you more successful.

Says this item in the Harvard Business Review.
1. Lower self-confidence makes you pay attention to negative feedback and be self-critical...

2. Lower self-confidence can motivate you to work harder and prepare more....

3. Lower self-confidence reduces the chances of coming across as arrogant or being deluded....

Harvard lawprof Laurence Tribe predicted the way the Supreme Court would resolve the Obamacare case.

Long before the case was decided, he clearly and repeatedly stated the taxing power argument that Chief Justice Roberts ultimately adopted:

That's a lengthy video, but it's well worth watching. It has an amusing segment with Rush Limbaugh emphatically stating that nobody predicted what Roberts would say. Maybe "predicted" is the wrong word. Maybe what Tribe did was influence Roberts (his former student).

Nancy Pelosi says Mitt Romney wanted to get booed at the NAACP convention.

It was "a calculated move."

Here's a CSM columnist relaying similar opinion (and you can watch the video clip there):
Is it possible that the booing incident will actually be good for the Romney campaign?

Some conservative analysts think it will. Their argument is that Romney will win few African American votes anyway, and that his willingness to say things he knew would be unpopular to the NAACP audience will win him support from other demographic groups.

"When we travel, though, we are asking for hospitality. There’s great vulnerability in this."

"It also requires considerable strength."
To be a good guest — like being a good host — one needs to be secure in one’s own premises: where you stand, who you are... Travel is a search for meaning, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others. The humility required for genuine travel is exactly what is missing from its opposite extreme, tourism.
Vulnerability? Humility? And — at the same time — it's supposed to be loftier than mere tourism?
The kind of travel to which we aspire should tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. It isn’t about pain or excessive strain — travel doesn’t need to be an extreme sport — but we need to permit ourselves to be clumsy, inexpert and even a bit lonely.
I used to throw myself out of my own country like that. Buy tickets to somewhere and then have to go. I wished I could back out. I was lonely when I was there. I spent a lot of money. I'm actually not a good tourist at all. It was always some kind of spiritual journey for me, a pilgrimage. So I don't identify with the tourism the linked authors sniff at. But I have become very skeptical of the notion that we are supposed to travel for lofty purposes. Is it humble to believe you're above those other tourists and somehow able to commune with foreign locals?

"Finally, something is being done to address the critical shortage of Elis in the rapidly growing field of legal education!"

Biff, talking about this.

On the other side of the vortex...

Chip Ahoy follows my advice to "keep looking"...

... and he found the other side of that vortex.

There are portals everywhere!

"Money the government is spending on old people means young people are free not to take care of them."

A response to the argument that young Americans should support vigorous spending cuts because so much more is spent on old people than on young people.

Note the deep implications of that response. The government is taking over the role once provided by family. It was not so long ago that people believed that if they didn't save up money and provide for their own old age that they would be a burden on their children. And it was quite common to worry that your aging parents would need to move in with you and be economically dependent on you. Many families had a grandmother living in their home.

And now, the government has become the basis of our expectations. There's a feeling of security (especially if you don't think too hard). And there's a freedom from the bondage of family. The government is more your family than your family.

Aren't you happy? Aren't you free? Don't you love Big Brother?


He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.


The struggle is finished. There's nothing else to run for....

Suicide by tiger.

It's bad enough that human beings cage these magnificent animals in zoos. This is already exploitation. But to appropriate their grandeur for one's own scurrilous, self-murderous ends is truly disgusting.


In the new lawprof blog rankings. Althouse is up 14.1% in page views in the past year (with 17,041,898).

"This will be my last political campaign, no matter what. I've got nothing else to run for."

President Obama, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, yesterday. The "I've got nothing else to run for" is a response to a sad "oh" that follows the "last campaign" remark.

Via Drudge, which is continuing its black-and-white theme, now with Putin top and center — crouching and exposing his muscular arms — above a smiling Romney and an eye-blacked Drew Brees. The picture of Obama is, as it was yesterday, in the right-hand column. Today, it's a photograph — a nice photograph, with a hint of a smile. Also in Obama's column, Chinese ideograms above a link "China Ascends to No. 2 on FORTUNE 500..." Maybe the ideograms say "We're #2" (or "We try harder"). The stack of links between Obama's image and the Chinese writing reads:
'This Will Be My Last Political Campaign No Matter What'...
Women outnumber men on US Olympic team...
Swedish billionaire's son arrested as U.S.-born wife found dead...
I'm getting a decline-of-Western-civilization theme out of Drudge's new black-and-white trend. There's Putin on top, looking hyper-masculine. The Chinese are rising up (economically). And Obama's all used up. Nowhere to go. We talked about that back in April, after I received email from his campaign saying  "In a few days, I'll be hitting the trail for my last campaign." I said:
The man is 50 years old. His career is young. He's packing it in so early? This troubles me. Why no more stamina in the political arena?

I mean, what if he loses in November? He could run again. He could let 3 presidential terms pass and come back and only be as old as Romney is right now!

But even if he wins, what's he going to do? He can't run for President again, but there are other elective offices. Look at John Quincy Adams, John Tyler, and Andrew Johnson. All of them went on to seek other elective office and to win....

Why doesn't Obama have more gumption? It makes him seem too weak even now as he seeks reelection. Last campaign. That's annoying.
By contrast, Putin has gumption. Stamina. Staying power. And, by the way, he's sending warships to Syria.

But what's in Drudge's column 1? The only photograph of a person is Obama's brother — George Obama — the one who lives in a hut. (Rush Limbaugh's been riffing about that for years.) The other Obama is being used in some right-wing propaganda film. Easy pickings.  The man needs some money.

The top photograph in column 1 is Saturn. (Yesterday's Drudge had us worrying about the sun.) There's a "Strange Vortex Discovered on Saturn Moon...." Just above Saturn is "Wasserman Schultz: 'It Would Be Nice If We Had Candidate for President Who Was Committed To America'..." Yes, yes, let's stick with the strange vortex that is the American presidential election. For some reason, the Wasserman Schultz line is the only thing Drudge italicizes. Perhaps that's a prompt to read the quote sarcastically.

Clicking through, I see that Wasserman Schultz has radically changed her hairstyle since her appearance on Fox News Sunday (June 8). Did someone decide she needed to look more conservative/conventional/feminine?

Wasserman Schultz point, in this new clip, in this new hair, is about Mitt Romney stashing money outside of the United States:
Mitt Romney needs to come clean and release multiple years of his tax returns so we can see why he invested in a Bermuda corporation and transferred it to his wife's name the day before he became Governor of Massachusetts.

So we can see why he's invested in Swiss bank accounts and accounts in the Cayman Islands. And you know, we also need to know why does -- what is the allure of investments out of the country. When he headed up Bain Capital, he was a pioneer in outsourcing and shipped jobs overseas.

It would be nice if we had a candidate for president who was committed to America. Mitt Romney is committed to making sure that either he makes the most money as humanly possible, or his investors do. 
Imagine a man who tried to make as much money as possible! The Democratic Party is hoping Americans have been trained to think of that as a bad thing.

It's the decline of Western civilization, when we no longer flex muscles, we give up and let China take over. There's nothing else to run for.

We can always run for... cover.

July 10, 2012

At the #29 Café...


... keep looking.

"There is no need to worry. It’s just another instance of random violence."

Said the head of head of student health psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, back when Errol Morris was an undergrad. Now, he says, "I feel the same way about asteroids."

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
pollcode.com free polls 

In CNBC's new "Top States For Business" rankings, Wisconsin goes from #25 to #17.

One year later, one year greater.

Interestingly, the "greatest improvement [is] in the category of infrastructure and transportation, where the state jumped from 22nd to 6th in the country." This, under the Governor who said no to all that federal money for the high-speed rail, who, by the way, says "we are on the right track." The right track is, apparently, not a railroad track.

"Americans' Confidence in Television News Drops to New Low."

And now the level of trust is lower for liberals and moderates than for conservatives.

Conservatives' confidence remained about the same (going from 23% to 22%), but liberals and moderates dropped by half  a third (from 30% to 20%/19%). What has happened in the last year to cause that change? It could be that the TV news continues with a long practice of skewing liberal, but real life has been bad and the mismatch between the news and reality has become more obvious.

"[W]rite as simply and plainly as possible and it's more likely you'll be thought of as intelligent."

"Anything that makes a text hard to read and understand, such as unnecessarily long words or complicated fonts, will lower readers' evaluations of the text and its author... The continuing popularity amongst students of using big words and attractive font styles may be due to the fact that they may not realize these techniques could backfire...."

Okay, but there's one big problem: If you make it really clear, people can see what you're saying, and if the substance is bad, you'll be caught. Which is great. Even better: In the process of making yourself clear, you may see what's bad and fix it, or — simplicity par excellence — refrain from publishing anything. That doesn't work for students who must hand something in, but it's professors who really annoy me.

"Eleven days after the windstorm, more than 2,300 Amherst County residents remain without power."

"To beat the heat, some chose to stay in an unlikely shelter — the old Amherst County Jail."
Seventeen people took refuge in the jail Monday morning. At the height of the power outages, the jail housed as many as 40 people.

The old jail, which closed Dec. 31, 2011 after a new regional facility opened in Madison Heights, served a cooling station in the aftermath of the storm.

Empty cells transformed into rooms. Children played in the recreational yard once occupied by prisoners. A crib sat inside a sparse cell.
Life in Virginia, one of the united states of America.

100 famous guitar riffs...

... played in chronological order, in one take:

Drudge's black-and-white page updated with Romney photo and "Smear: Too 'White' for NAACP Address."

Here's the freeze frame of Drudge right now. Here's the earlier discussion of Drudge's black-and-white page. Here's where the "too white" link goes.
In advance of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's speech Wednesday to the NAACP, a liberal group headed by a former New York Times reporter and ex-Media Matters executive have produced a video "satire" that claims blacks don't like Romney, who they dub so white he makes "Wonder Bread look like pumpernickel."
Oh, it's comedy. Let's watch the video. At the link.

Was that funny?
pollcode.com free polls 

The plan to dismantle Egypt's Great Pyramids.

The Assyrian International News Agency reports (via Memeorandum):
According to several reports in the Arabic media, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt's Great Pyramids--or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi'i, those "symbols of paganism," which Egypt's Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax. Most recently, Bahrain's "Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs" and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt's new president, Muhammad Morsi, to "destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not."

This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641. Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity. While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Muslim writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself — deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran — was destroyed under bin al-As's reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar's command....
The technology now exists, the pyramid-haters observe, framing question to be whether Morsi is "pious" enough "to complete the Islamization process that started under the hands of Egypt's first Islamic conqueror."


Mayor Bloomberg, stimulating the development of micro-units.

For single folk, in New York City. Here's a useful graphic:


I love the picture of the diminutive mayor, standing in a life-size floor plan of the imagined apartment, alongside the Commissioner of City Planning, Amanda Burden, who has this ineffable we-know-what's-good-for-the-little-people look on her face.

Who is Amanda Burden?
Born Amanda Jay Mortimer, she is the daughter of socialite Babe Paley (1915–1978) and her first husband, Stanley Grafton Mortimer, Jr. (1913–1999), an heir to the Standard Oil fortune. She is a descendant of the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Jay, and a granddaughter of Dr. Harvey Cushing, the "Father of American Neurosurgery" and Pulitzer Prize winning author.... In 1947, her mother married William S. Paley, the son of a successful immigrant entrepreneur who built a family acquisition into CBS. Her stepmother, Kathleen Mortimer (born 1917), was a daughter of railroad heir and United States ambassador Averell Harriman.
Wow. So...  that's how you get a look like that for your face as you let people know about how micro a living space can properly be. I thought she looked really elite, but I was still floored by that bio.

Who should be doing a city's planning, I wonder?

"This Court is not inclined to indulge [Lance] Armstrong's desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement, or vilification of Defendants..."

"... by sifting through eighty mostly unnecessary pages in search of the few kernels of factual material relevant to his claims."

Case dismissed less than 7 hours after it was filed.

ADDED: Who knew a judge could decide tl;dr?

"How 'massive' is Obama’s tax cut/tax increase?"

Depends on how you look at it, but WaPo's Fact Checker ends up with 2 Pinocchios.

The fear of on-line "rock star" law professors.

Kevin O'Keefe writes:
I was having dinner this spring with, among other folks, a couple law school professors who taught at a good state school in the Midwest. 
I asked them if they had fears and trepidations like lawyers and business people do as to what they future may hold. One of the law prof’s said absolutely, online education....
What made him most afraid was his belief that we were going to see rockstar professors being paid handsomely for teaching huge online classes. If we can have rock star athletes like LeBron James making millions, he said why not professors making millions by attracting large enrollment.
LeBron James proves his worth by applying his skills against others, contributing to wins achieved through specific rules of a game, and drawing spectators who pay for the entertainment of the particular game they paid to see.

How can a lawprof demonstrate his value?

50 Shades of Gary.

Typo I just made, observed the comic potential of, and, after Googling, discovered had already been deployed.

Speaking of typos and "Shades of Grey," there was some discussion of the 2 spellings of "grey/gray" in the first "Shades of Grey" post of the day. (This is the 3d.) I said I meant to do that:
"Gray" is the long-term spelling on this blog and the normal spelling used by Americans.

"Grey" is the title of the book, the name of the character -- Christian Grey -- the British spelling, and the spelling used by Americans who have been over influenced by the British and that damned book.
You know how you know "gray" is the right spelling for Americans? You look at your Crayolas!

"I am interested in the culture... and in sexuality, so I'll talk about what it might mean that so many women are reading a novel that depicts sado-masochism."

Said I, in the comments to this morning's Drudge in B&W post, which invoked the popular novel "Shades of Grey, " and prompted a commenter (Surfed) to ask "to what effect have these novels affected [sic] Althouse that they are constantly (if not on an everyday basis) referred to? Is this a question best posed to Meade?" I said:
I don't read many novels, and I don't read any novels that are not on a fairly high literary level. So, genre romance and porn aren't in my Kindle. 
I am interested in the culture... and in sexuality, so I'll talk about what it might mean that so many women are reading a novel that depicts sado-masochism. In fact, Meade and I just had big conversation about that. I wondered whether women's fascination with this kind of fiction indicated that something is missing in present-day sexual relationships. Meade expressed the view that this is what women over the ages have in fact found titillating. I didn't disagree, so it's not as though we were opposed. I think it's a good issue, worth discussing, so feel free to carry on with that.
I'm making this into a new post, because I really do think it's a good topic for discussion and would like you to carry on — in this discussion or whatever other activities you have in mind. For example, Surfed asserted that he has "used the novel to great effect in my own personal life these last 6 months or so." All right then!

I've made a "Shades of Grey" tag so you can see the old posts on the subject and see what I've already said about this series of books.

The UW—Madison "worked with the Ho-Chunk Nation on a name for this facility, because this area was home to the Ho-Chunk for thousands of years."

The new residence hall, on the shore of Lake Mendota, will be called "Dejope," which means "4 lakes." The Ho-Chunk Nation passed a resolution approving of the use of the word on the ground that "it is in the best interest of the Nation to support and promote the education of its members and the education of others about the Ho-Chunk Nation."
The residence hall will have features that recognize the influence and importance of tribal culture and of the lakes.

A fire circle will be located on the building’s north side facing the lake, with bronze plaques representing the 11 Indian Nations in Wisconsin. Inside, on the first floor, embedded in the terrazzo floor, will be images of four of the campus effigy mound groups; Observatory Hill, Willow Drive, Picnic Point and Eagle Heights....

Drudge goes black-and-white with Rahm, Brad Pitt, Uncle Sam, and Obama.

Look. Only Pitt and Rahm are photographs. Obama — like Uncle Sam — is done with artwork. Pretty bad artwork. It looks like a bad drawing, and I'm guessing it was done by computer-processing of a photo. It's funny the way the photographiness of a photo shows through when a drawing is made. Something more timeless and grand is found when the artist draws from life. Of course, there's the usual risk that it won't look like the person. But that's why you need a good artist. Or stick with a regular photo-photo.

Unless you're looking for an odd effect. Perhaps Drudge is trying to say that Obama is drained of life. It might have something to do with the big drained-of-color idea, which does unify the 4 images. There's another processed photo further down on the page: Hugo Chavez. His image has been subjected to posterization — where all shades of gray have been eliminated.

Ah! I said it: shades of grey. Is Drudge hinting that these men have some kind of Christian Grey sadistic power over us? Speaking of photoprocessing, there was this article in the Daily Mail yesterday, imagining Christian Grey as a composite — depicted in shades of gray — of various famous guys, including Brad Pitt (but not Rahm, Uncle Sam, Obama, and Chavez).

July 9, 2012

Why are conservatives so much happier than liberals?

Studies show that they are (or at least think they are or say they are). But why? My first guess, without reading on in the article is that they mind their own business. They think taking care of their own work and family is enough, and liberals feel they must worry about how everyone else is doing.

According to the column, by Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute:
Many conservatives favor an explanation focusing on lifestyle differences, such as marriage and faith. They note that most conservatives are married; most liberals are not....

"You are embarrassing because, in spite of being ridiculous, you are not content to keep your absurdity decently to yourself..."

"... but insist on parading it around in public, greeting the 13-year-old's friends and teachers as though you were a normal human being and not a kind of ward of the state, on the brink of being permanently committed."

The polar explorer and the "depraved" penguins.

Back in 1910, on Captain Scott's expedition to the south pole, George Murray Levick studied the penguins:
He was shocked by what he described as the "depraved" sexual acts of "hooligan" males who were mating with dead females. So distressed was he that he recorded the "perverted" activities in Greek in his notebook....

"What is happening there is not in any way analogous to necrophilia in the human context," [said Douglas Russell, curator of eggs and nests at the Natural History Museum]. "It is the males seeing the positioning that is causing them to have a sexual reaction."
It is the males seeing the positioning that is causing them to have a sexual reaction.... sounds oddly human to me.
"They are not distinguishing between live females who are awaiting congress in the colony, and dead penguins from the previous year which just happen to be in the same position. It is the males seeing the positioning that is causing them to have a sexual reaction."
Yes, yes, the previous year... that's a striking lack of distinction, but they've been kept refrigerated.

On North Korean TV, "Tigger, Minnie Mouse and other Disney characters prancing in front of Kim Jong-un and an entourage of clapping generals."

"The footage also showed the boyish-faced leader in a black Mao suit watching as Mickey Mouse conducted a group of young women playing violins in skimpy black dresses."
At times, scenes from the animated Disney movies “Dumbo” and “Snow White” were projected on a large, multipanel screen behind the entertainers; an article in the state-run press said unnamed foreign songs were on the bill.
This makes me feel hopeful!

"I was surprised to find that the street where the Freewheelin’ cover was shot is so unassuming..."

"... that casual passersby would never know that anything special had happened there.
It’s just a street. And it’s not even as nice-looking of a street as some of the others we encountered while walking around the West Village. There’s an alley behind a nearby Mexican restaurant that’s much more picturesque—like something that’s been frozen in time since the 1880s. But it hasn’t, of course. That Mexican restaurant, Panchito’s, wasn’t even there in Dylan’s time. It was a different establishment then: a café called The Fat Black Pussycat, where Dylan reportedly wrote “Blowin’ In The Wind” in 10 minutes one afternoon.
Here's a blog post of mine from exactly last year about what Panchito's did to The Fat Black Pussycat. I also looked for a photo of The Fat Black Pussycat that I'm sure I must have taken back when I was living in NYC 4 years ago. I didn't find it, but I found this:


British judges says Samsung tablets don't infringe on iPad because they "are not as cool.”

Samsung lacks the simplicity of Apple. Or as the judge put it — with a Samsung-like failure to simplify — they "do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design."

"Rotten Tomatoes asks some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Name Your Five Favorite Films."

Links to the various lists are well-organized in this Metafilter post.

Which name did you impulsively click on first? I clicked on Werner Herzog, who likes "Freaks," "Intolerance," "Rashomon," "Nosferatu," and a movie I don't remember ever noticing before, "Where is the Friend's Home."

About "Rashomon" — which I once wrote an article about — he said:
It is probably the only film that I've ever seen which has something like a perfect balance, which does not occur in filmmaking very often. You sense it sometimes in great music, but I haven't experienced it in cinema, and it's mind boggling. I don't know how [Akira] Kurosawa did it. It's still a mystery to me. That's greatness.

"Mick looked at David and wondered if maybe this was the wave of the future."

"Mick was very conscious of doing whatever it takes to stay hot; David was the hottest thing around at the time."

Also, way in the end of the linked article, there's this statement from a female, about Mick: "I was very, very shocked by his smallness, his fragility... Such tiny little bones. But Mick was not fragile or demure as a lover. Being with him was not like sleeping with a bag of bones. He was very aggressive as a lover, very strong and confident." This female nevertheless refutes the assertion made by Keith Richards that Mick has a "tiny todger."

I know, you probably don't care about Mick Jagger.

Or do you?
pollcode.com free polls 

If you are interested and want to buy the book, here's "Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger." (And, by the way, thanks to readers who've been using my Amazon portal to buy whatever it is they buy. I notice and I'm always encouraged to see that you've cared enough to do that.)

"Here's a tale of two states that should make Hoosiers glad they live on the east bank of the Wabash..."

"-- at least when it comes to paying for state government."
Last week in Indiana, the Daniels administration announced that the state's budget reserves had topped $2 billion, enough to trigger $100 rebates for individual tax filers and $200 for couples who file jointly. In total, the state will give back about $300 million to taxpayers....
Meanwhile, in Illinois...
Last year, Illinois lawmakers scrambled to close a budget shortfall estimated at $11 billion. Despite substantial tax increases and deep cuts in services, the state ended the 2012 fiscal year, which closed June 30, with a shortfall of more than $8 billion. In fact, Illinois' auditor general recently released a report describing the state's deficit as the nation's worst based on the percentage of revenue.
I'm observing this from the next state over, Wisconsin, where we've been fighting over which of these 2 states we'd prefer to resemble.

Do you want your university to welcome the Google trike?

It's the Google Street View University Partners project, mapping the places where Google can't drive those cars that have been photographing streets all over the world all these years.
The company’s pitch to universities is that enabling anybody with an Internet connection to virtually stroll the grounds will help institutions satisfy the curiosity of prospective students, nostalgic alumni and helicopter parents....
And if universities say no, what does that mean? They're protecting privacy? But "Google uses algorithms to automatically blur faces and license plates, and also offers an online form where people can request that certain images be removed."
It would be “really stupid,” and probably unlikely, for Google to intentionally trawl campus networks for data under the auspices of the Street View University Partners program, says [Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and a prominent critic of Google], adding that universities face a more immediate data risk by outsourcing campus e-mail and other cloud services to Google. 
We're already trusting Google. What's the point of mistrusting it about lesser things?
“We’re not talking about a great data meltdown,” says Vaidhyanathan. “But we are talking about the possibility of a person being identifiable as part of a university community” -- a person who might be dealing with a stalker, and who might not know to make a takedown request until after it is too late. Those are things that we have to keep in mind when dealing with real human beings through these systems... Google tends not to think of real human beings, but people at universities have that responsibility."
Against the good of Google's Street View, how much weight would you give to the generic stalker? What about terrorists? Why doesn't Vaidhyanathan bring them up? My theory after the jump.

"I’m the only candidate that wants to get out of Afghanistan tomorrow, end the wars."

"I’m the only candidate that wants to end the drug war. I’m the only candidate that wants to repeal the Patriot Act. I’m the only candidate that’s talking about marriage equality as being a constitutionally guaranteed right. I’m the only candidate that wants to balance the federal budget now, and that means reforming the entitlements: Medicaid, Medicare."

Someone on the conservative side of the Supreme Court "wants us to know that they’re pissed off, and they want us to know why."

Orin Kerr deduces.

But why were they so pissed that they immediately leaked? You'd think these characters would have more self-control. I'd like to suggest that it was controlled. These smart guys think fast. They made a cold calculation. There's an effect they seek — they had a political strategy — and it's simply most effective if it's put in motion at the point when everyone's involved in trying understand what happened. That's my speculation. The speculation that they are not hotheads. Which would require changing Kerr's first "know" — in the quote in my post title — to "think."

Here's what Kerr says:
If you leak to [journalist Jan] Crawford with the spin that Roberts’ decision was illegitimate, and then the mandate opponents pick up that theme and run with it, perhaps that view will gain some traction in the legal world and will help out another challenge in the future. Or perhaps there’s a smoking gun that explains what Roberts was thinking that hasn’t been made public yet. Or perhaps the health care cases just made people act strangely. It’s hard to know.
Are Justices "people"? They live in such a ridiculous environment that it's hard to know what counts as strange. It's a strange way of life.

(And yet we trust them! Presumably, we trust them because they're following some process we regard as legal, even though we don't really believe they do, and we're reduced to complaining about how they don't or positing theories that legitimate something else that we think they might do but that we can't articulate in a form that actual people — people people — can swallow.)

Global warming will expand forests over what are now grasslands.

According to a new study, "savanna trees were essentially CO2-starved under pre-industrial CO2 concentrations, and that their growth really starts taking off at the CO2 concentrations we are currently experiencing.“
These burgeoning forests will then rather neatly lock up in the biosphere all that extra carbon that we have been releasing into the atmosphere. Or some of it. But the major point of this paper is that far from climate change being a threat to the tropical forests, it looks as if it will be the cause of more of them growing....

Now all we have to hope for is that the upcoming IPCC report, the fifth, will report honestly and openly upon all the effects of rising CO2 levels so we can work out whether it's worth ditching industrial civilisation or not.... We know very well what the direct effect of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is: a 0.7 degree rise in temperature – that's just straight physics. The idea that we might get 2 or 4 or 5 degrees of temperature change comes from the interaction of positive and negative feedback mechanisms. And we don't know what all of those mechanisms are, don't know the direction of some of them and are really very unsure indeed what the total value is.