August 25, 2012

"[D]evelopments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects."

Writes Arthur S. Brisbane, in his last column as the NYT "Public Editor."
Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.

Engaging in a trend called "Trash the Dress" — "where recent brides playfully destroy their wedding dress"...

... a beautiful woman dies:
The distraught photographer, Louis Pagakis, told CTV Montreal that he did everything he could to save [30-year-old Maria] Pantazopoulos after she got into danger.

She had her wedding dress on and she said, ‘take some pictures of me while I swim a little bit in the lake,’ she went in and her dress got heavy, I tried everything I could to save her,” he told the station, visibly emotional....

'She was doing the photo shoot in about 6 inches or 1-foot of water when part of her wedding dress got soaked and became extremely heavy,' [police spokesman Sgt. Ronald[ McInnis told MailOnline.
She was found 100 feet from the photo spot, sunk to the bottom, dragged down by the wedding dress.

"I was mostly looking for a symbol that wasn’t used much."

"And there weren’t a lot of options — an exclamation point or a comma. I could have used an equal sign, but that wouldn’t have made much sense."

The story of @.

"Ultimately the question is, does 'mankind' really need men?"

"With human cloning technology just around the corner and enough frozen sperm in the world to already populate many generations, perhaps we should perform a cost-benefit analysis."
[W]omen live longer, are healthier and are far less likely to commit a violent offense. If men were cars, who would buy the model that doesn’t last as long, is given to lethal incidents and ends up impounded more often?
That's from the NYT, which is, of course, written for women. Stuff like this is considered light entertainment. It will be interspersed with serious articles about the "war on women." Enjoy!

That last link goes to a search within the NYT for "war on women." I was amused by the old things that popped up.

From 1927: "Berlin Men War on Women Who 'Doll Up' at Meals."

Also 1927: "Stanley (Wis.) Bachelors War On Nuptial Lures by Women." (I don't want to buy the article, but I can see this snippet: "... of Stanley have declared 'war on women.' An organization has been tentatively for 'mutual protection from devices now used by the fair sex to entangle single...'")

1911: "WAR ON WOMEN GAMBLERS.; Chicago Detective Visits Fashionable Houses to Stop Poker Games." ("Chief of Police McWeeny declared war to-day on poker playing by women in private.")

1972: "The Church's War on Women." ("Pope Paul VI has reaffirmed the rules of priestly celibacy and debarred women from formal investiture by bishops in Roman Catholic orders. There were to be no female deacons, let alone female priests.")

1943: "Dr. Mead, Anthropologist, Reports On Effect of War on Women's Garb; She Tells Members of Fashion Group, Inc., That Utility Clothes in England Will Do Much to Reduce Class Consciousness." (What? Again I'm not paying to get to the article, but, Googling, I found a Smithsonian article saying that during WWII, the U.S. and British commands commissioned Margaret Mead to try to figure out why American and British soldiers had trouble understanding each other. She discovered that the British couldn't answer the question what's your favorite color without getting all complicated about it and concluded it had to do with their class consciousness.)

Most apt, when it comes to the 2012 election, is this February 2011 editorial, "The War on Women."
These are treacherous times for women’s reproductive rights and access to essential health care. House Republicans mistakenly believe they have a mandate to drastically scale back both even as abortion warfare is accelerating in the states. To stop them, President Obama’s firm leadership will be crucial. So will the rising voices of alarmed Americans.
I'm guessing that the current usage of the term began right there.

"Neil Armstrong was... a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job."

Good job!

"Tropical Storm Isaac Crashes Party-Crasher Joe Biden's Party Crashing."

I'm crushed.

"You went from very boxy clothes to the slim fit... Those shirts are a little tighter than the usual Paul Ryan shirts."

"The girls at our studio notice."/"Some of 'em are big and some of 'em fit real well."

At the Alpine Café...


... we notice the small things too.

"Your 'Pregnant' Other."

#1 on a list of "The Five Worst Pregnancy Trends on Pinterest."

(You'll love the photo!)

"How does an agency that is supposed to regulate drug testing strip a guy of seven titles without a single positive drug test?"

"How is it that an American agency can decide to invalidate somebody’s results achieved in Europe, in a sport it doesn’t control?"

Why is Bill Clinton appearing at the Democratic Convention and George Bush not appearing at the GOP Convention?

Just a question.

At the Empire State Building yesterday, the 9 bystanders who got shot were all shot by the police.

"Officers fired a total of 16 rounds; one officer shot nine while another one shot seven."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the bystanders were not hit directly by police, but rather the officers' struck "flowerpots and other objects around, so ... their bullets fragmented and, in essence, that's what caused the wounds."
ADDED: More evidence of the need for gun control!

Obama's campaign is nothing but negativity against Romney.

Observes Toby Harnden, noting a corresponding crankiness in the crowds that come out to see him.
... Obama is on the defensive and knows the only way he can win re-election is by the narrowest of margins, by ‘slicing and dicing’ – his own pejorative term – and eking out a 51 to 49 per cent victory, crawling across the line to 270 electoral college votes.
Via Rush Limbaugh, who says
Let me ask you this, any of you paying attention to Obama at these campaign appearances: Have you heard him say what he wants to do the next four years?... Have you heard anything that would qualify as a second-term agenda?...

[H]is entire campaign consists of trying to scare everybody in his pathetic base of voters about what a bad guy Romney is. That's all he's got. His agenda is to try to get people to hate Mitt Romney....

There is nothing comparable in this year's campaign to what Obama was getting away with in 2008. That was lofty....
He's implicitly saying that we should stay the course, but I can see why he's not leaning on that message. He can't do the old hope-and-change message, because he's the status quo. Getting us excited about hope and change could only push us toward Romney (and Ryan).

"Their goal is to dehumanize everyone’s sexuality and reduce us to using sex for the sole purpose of perpetuating our species."

"To that end, they will criminalize your entire sex life..."

"They" = those who oppose same-sex marriage.

"Hatching of The Lord Howe Island stick insect."

"... one of the rarest, and largest, insects in the world..."


Chez Meadhouse, we watched the whole 6 minutes. Top Althouse comment: "If you could get your art project to do that, it would be a great sculpture." Top Meade comment: "This would be a good opportunity for a bird to swoop in."

The devil is not defeated.

A cheer!

"At home at one of the raucous, joyous, impromptu eight-hour dinners we often found ourselves hosting..."

"... where the table was so crammed with ambassadors, hacks, political dissidents, college students and children that elbows were colliding and it was hard to find the space to put down a glass of wine, my husband would rise to give a toast that could go on for a stirring, spellbinding, hysterically funny 20 minutes of poetry and limerick reciting, a call to arms for a cause, and jokes. 'How good it is to be us,' he would say in his perfect voice."

Writes Carol Blue, the widow of Christopher Hitchens.

August 24, 2012

On the Beartooth Highway....


"It would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only to have the name-calling return the next day."

Rick Warren, cancelling the presidential forum that would have corresponded to the Saddleback Forum in 2008.

"No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place where we were born and raised."

Said Mitt Romney at a campaign stop today in Michigan — "this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born." Video at the link.

I'm seeing some charges that this was a "birther" joke and even that it was racist. I guess it hit a nerve.

Anyway, it's obviously not racist. In fact, it's more racist to call it racist. To see it as racist, you have to have a background belief that to think of someone as a natural-born citizen is to think of him as white. Who thinks that?!

And it's also not "birther" to say what Romney said. A birther is someone who thinks or isn't sure that Obama was born in one of the United States. But the joke doesn't depend on the listener being a birther. You simply have to understand that people had enough questions about where Obama was born that they wanted to see the proof. People don't have those questions about Romney, so no one ever asked him to prove it. That's all Romney said.

Now, we could look more deeply into why people had these questions about Obama. These questions certainly weren't because Obama is black (or half-black). The questions were because his father was not an American citizen, because his mother — and young Obama — lived for a substantial amount of time outside of the United States, and because — to some people at least — Obama hasn't seemed sufficiently American. (He doesn't identify with American exceptionalism, he sat still for "God damn America" sermons, and so forth.)

Romney is saying — in so many words — I'm more truly and fundamentally American than Barack Obama. And the implication is: I want you to think about the ways that Obama hasn't fully embraced American values of freedom, capitalism, etc. etc.

Of course, you don't have to be born in America to have those values. I imagine Ted Cruz has those values, and he was born in Canada. He might make a great Senator from Texas soon, but he can never be President. We don't need to see his birth certificate, because it's no secret. He's not qualified to be President, and it's no disparagement of him to say that. But notably — and pay attention now, because this should help with understanding Romney's joke — no one running against Cruz would make a joke about his being born outside of the United States. Romney's (implicit) joke about Obama works not because of where he was actually born, but because of much more substantive ideas about commitment to foundational American values.

ADDED: Instapundit agrees with me and adds that the press will miss this point and, thinking the joke hurts Romney, will "spread the idea further than Romney could on his own." He also prints email from a reader saying  "Why does Ann Althouse assume Ted Cruz is not eligible to be President just because he was born in Calgary? Both of his parents were American at the time of his birth, and his mother was American by birth." I didn't mean to be the first Ted Cruz birther! I agree that if both your parents are American citizens and you are therefore an American citizen at birth, that's good enough for the constitutional requirement.

Ann Romney: "I love tithing. When Mitt and I give that check, I actually cry."

Mitt Romney: "So do I, but for a different reason."

ADDED: Romney tells us which performers he'd like to see perform at the White House:
Well, I would certainly want to hear from the Beach Boys, even though I know it's not the same group it used to be. Also Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith, and today's rock stars—The Killers are one group I enjoy.... I'd let Alabama come back and sing again, and Aerosmith. Different eras.

AR: We have a friend in the Eagles.

MR: These are not all Republicans, by the way. Some may turn us down....

"Allow for a mix of introverted and extroverted spaces when shaping an office space."

"It is important to have areas where employees can interact and communicate. It is equally important however to have space where employees can be alone and work undisturbed...."
Creating open office spaces does not allow for areas for introverts to work alone and really center themselves for the day. Work days are now so often characterized by group collaboration and meeting that some employees can often feel overwhelmed with all the interaction.
I felt overwhelmed just reading that last sentence.


Dialogue at Meadhouse: "I'm taking a quiz about whether I'm an introvert or an extrovert. Leave me alone."

Word verification for commenting.

I know people have been having more trouble with it lately. I'm going to take it off as an experiment. I've had it on so long, I've forgotten what it was like without it, and who knows if whatever it was will be the situation now? So please don't over-rejoice at its removal, because I might have to turn it back on. I presume I'll get a spate of horrible spam, including endless commercial links dumped in the early morning hours in thousands of old (and new) threads. You think the word verification is difficult, but I can't spend hours a day finding and deleting spam.

If (when) I put the word verification back on, here's a tip: Click the ⟳ until you get one that you find relatively easy to see. Don't waste your time attempting a difficult one.

UPDATE, next morning: It was a pretty good, low-spam over-night here on the blog. I think only 5 or 6 spam comments came in (only one of which was caught by the spam filter, but I found them because I get all comments emailed to me).

The Horse Dance.

From Korea.

Willful anosmia?

You've heard of willful blindness, where someone doesn't see what they don't want to see. Something is happening that you approve of, and you don't want to have to do something about it, so you keep yourself in a state of unseeing to avoid responsibility. The term "willful blindness" is used to assign responsibility.

Consider willful anosmia — not smelling what you don't want to smell. ("Anosmia" is the word that corresponds to blindness in the olfactory realm.) I'm looking at the case of Donald Harvey, a hospital orderly who — over a period of 24 years — killed something like 70 patients, mostly poisoning them with cyanide. Murder was finally recognized by a pathologist who smelled cyanide during an autopsy.

Once caught, Harvey began confessing:
[A]n unrepentant Harvey described details of his murders matter of factly – “Like he would tell you that he had gone out to get a sandwich for lunch.”...

“Some of those (patients) might have lasted a few more hours, or a few more days, but they were all going to die. I know you think I played God, and I did,” Harvey said. “I believe God has forgiven me.”...
In all those years — all those other murders — why did no one else smell the cyanide? Harvey chose patients who were expected to die and thus absorbing hospital resources for no particularly useful end. The orderly's euthanasia, once known, would have to be stopped. But this activity that would be condemned if discovered benefited the institution that failed to discover it.

Was there willful anosmia?

IN THE COMMENTS: billo said:
I'm a forensic pathologist. The ability to smell cyanide is genetically determined, and most people, in fact, cannot smell it or smell it as an unrecognizeable odor (some say it smells more like bleach than "bitter almonds").

When I was in training, an unsuspected cyanide case came in -- none of the people on the case were perceivers, and we all became a bit ill from the outgassing. After awhile one of the people who could perceive cyanide came in and recognized it. Our Chief then had everybody in the office come in and take a whiff so we would know who could and could not smell it. That way, we could call the right people into the room if we suspected it the next time. 
So, billo, what does this tell us about the hospital missing so many murders by cyanide all those years?

"The Republicans are smart enough to get the ‘pope of America,’ and the Democrats are stupid enough not to invite him."

"The Catholic vote is the most critical vote. They’re the wild card... So, why wouldn’t you ingratiate yourself to the pope of America and send a wink and a nod to Catholics?"

Who's the "pope of America"? It's Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan:
He's also a scholar and a passionate defender of the church's traditional views on what he calls "settled questions." If you've ever wondered why exactly the Catholic church opposes gay marriage and ordination of women as priests, listen to Dolan articulate the church's beliefs. It's far from a simple matter of saying "no."...

For example, here's the archbishop on gay marriage: "I have a strong desire to play shortstop for the Yankees. I don't have a right to because I don't have what it takes. And that would be what the church would say about marriage."
I was playing the video on that, and Meade said: "He sounds like Scalia." And I said: "That's what I thought!"
And here's Dolan arguing against the ordination of women as priests: "Jesus gave women positions of responsibility. The only ones at the foot of the cross except for St. John? Women. The people that discovered his resurrection? Women. The people that were with him on his journeys? Women. People say, 'This guy was kind of a pioneer in women's rights.' So, if he were going to intend them for the priesthood, he woulda done it. And he didn't."
Got that?

"In an attack reminiscent of 'Cujo' four pit bulls attack Dodge minivan trying to get to cat hiding in fender."

The kitty cat survives and the car owner is the owner of the dogs, so it's pure entertainment.

Mitt Romney: "I know what it takes to turn around difficult situations. And I will put that experience to work..."

The argument that the Bain Capital experience translates neatly to the government job.

"Why Afghanistan Isn’t a Campaign Issue: Neither Obama nor Romney Have a Solution."

Nobody wants to talk about it:
It’s generally recognized across the board, now, that the Taliban won’t be militarily defeated, nor is there any immediate prospect of a political solution to the conflict....

So, the U.S. will leave Afghanistan locked in the throes of the same civil war that was underway when it first invaded in late 2001, albeit with the scoreboard having been reversed: The Taliban is now the insurgent force, while its erstwhile enemies, the Northern Alliance, form the basis of the regime in Kabul...

"We’re not going to be canoodling."

(Via Ace.)

"So do Chinese netizens really believe that a body double was used to shield Gu..."

"... or do they simply want to express their mistrust of the judicial system and of the authorities in general?"

Anders Behring Breivik — who killed 77 and injured 242 others — is sentenced to 21 years max and maybe only 10 years.

He admitted the murders and claimed he was sane. The court — in Norway — found him. But the sentence — for all of that — is 10 to 21 years. Is Norway sane?

ADDED: It's Norway's "restorative" justice approach:
A comfortable cell, clean and relaxing environment, and nice daily activities such as cooking classes are all meant to prepare the criminal for potentially difficult or painful internal reformation. Incarceration, in this thinking, is the treatment for whatever social or psychological disease led them to transgress. The criminals are not primarily wrongdoers to be punished, but broken people to be fixed....

Despite the lighter sentences, restorative justice systems seem to reduce crime, reduce the cost of imprisoning criminals, and reduce recidivism....

August 23, 2012

Debbie Wasserman Schultz under maximum stress...

... as Anderson Cooper proves he's not a complete liberal hack. Amazing!

Via Instapundit.

At the Z&Broz Café...


... you have a ghost of a chance.

"Romney criticism of controversial cancer ad effective with swing voters."

"The study found that Romney's 'America Deserves Better' commercial was resonating with swing voters, moving 'pure independents' who remained undecided some 6 percentage points in the Republican's favor."

"There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.'"

"The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense."

Lance Armstrong gives up.
His decision means he will almost certainly be stripped of his seven Tour titles, the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics and all other titles, awards and money he won from August 1998 on.

"In an interminable article on the president's fund-raising problems, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer puts it down in part to his aversion to schmoozing."

James Taranto quotes Mayer quoting a "a frustrated Obama fund-raiser":
"Unlike Republicans, they have no business interest being furthered by the donation — they just like to be involved. So it makes them more needy. It's like, 'If you're not going to deregulate my industry, or lower my taxes, can't I at least get a picture?'"
Taranto paraphrases: "[T]he claim is that whereas billionaires who support Romney are greedy and selfish, those who back Obama are altruistic — or, to the extent they have a selfish motive, it is a relatively benign one, a simple desire to be in the presence of the Dear Leader."

"To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture."

"And to a surprising degree, it is women — not men — who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future."

Writes Hanna Rosin, looking at what women have lost and gained in the sexual revolution.

Babb, Montana... we came for the pie — huckleberry pie.



"Drinking on top of the Ellicott City sign."

Tweeted — a last tweet — along with a pic of "bare feet dangling over the edge of the bridge as they sat just above the words 'Ellicott City,' painted on the side of the bridge that is a portal to the community."

"Should President Obama be trying to persuade voters that the economy is recovering?"

"Some Democratic strategists think that could jar against public perceptions that things aren’t really getting better."

Worried that people won't believe what their own experience tells them is not true, the Obama campaign deploys an experienced liar:

Ecce... oh, no!

"An elderly parishioner has stunned Spanish cultural officials with an alarming and unauthorised attempt to restore a prized Jesus Christ fresco."
Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) by Elias Garcia Martinez has held pride of place in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza for more than 100 years.
Terrible and sad, but it's hard not to burst out laughing when you see what the well-meaning old lady did.
Cecilia Gimenez, who is in her 80s, was reportedly upset at the way the fresco had deteriorated and took it on herself to "restore" the image.

She claimed to have had the permission of the priest to carry out the job.

"(The) priest knew it! He did! How could you do something like that without permission? He knew it!"
 For the annals of good intentions

"'Seniores' and 'Señoritas' events held at an Anaheim high school — in which students dressed as gang members and a pregnant woman pushing a baby stroller..."

"... have been canceled after officials concluded the activities were demeaning toward Latinos and their culture."

Why was this ever approved in the first place?
"I conclude there was a lack of oversight/supervision and that the school administration should not have allowed this activity," Aileen M. Sterling, executive director of secondary education for the district, wrote in an Aug. 10 letter summarizing her inquiry.

"Even if strict guidelines were provided," Sterling said, "the result would still lead to hurtful and demeaning messages about the Mexican culture and to the students of the Mexican, Hispanic and Latino descent."
It took an after-the-fact inquiry.

"A German rabbi is facing charges for performing a circumcision..."

"... less than two months after a Cologne court outraged Jews and Muslims by outlawing the procedure."
"It has been many decades since a Jew was charged for practicing Judaism openly and is reminiscent of far darker times," [said Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress.] "We hope that in Germany, of all places, the authorities would remain far more sensitive to this issue."

"The irony here is that the argument for setting these areas aside as national forests and parks was... to protect them from fire..."

"Instead, over time they became the major habitat for free-burning fire."
So instead of a few dozen trees per acre, the Southwestern mountains of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah are now choked with trees of all sizes, and grass and shrubs. Essentially, it's fuel....

"Now the fire behaviors are just off the charts.... I mean, they are extraordinary. Actually, I think in some cases, they're fire behavior that probably these forests haven't seen in millennia or maybe even tens of thousands of years."...

"Basically, the mountains in the Southwest — you can almost think of them as caskets of fuel.... Gunpowder has been building up in these things for a century, and now it's dangerous to try to defuse."
 For the annals of unintended consequences.

McCaskill 48%, Akin 38%.

Rasmussen, today.

"Can you imagine protesters in penis costumes?"

Asks Meade after I send him this picture of protesters in vulva costumes (which commenter paul a'barge linked to after I linked to a picture of Todd Akin posing as a super-powered uterus).

I seem to remember some protesters in penis costumes, I said, Googling. I had in mind a mascot-like friendly penis, maybe offering condoms, but the first thing I found was this (NSFW). What on earth?! Here's some explanation. It happened in Kiev. A Ukrainian feminist group called FEMEN, protesting — of all things — having the Euro 2012 soccer championships in Ukraine.

"3 Interesting Moments From Dan Savage's Debate With a Gay Marriage Opponent."

Conor Friedersdorf selects some morsels (and has embedded video of the entire 1-hour debate). I've listened to the whole thing and found Savage's opening statement quite well done. The same-sex marriage opponent, Brian Brown, mostly fails to address Savage's presentation and goes on about the importance of civility (which had more to do with an earlier incident in which Savage called some students "pansies" for walking out on him after he said the Bible contained some "bullshit"). Savage has apologized for the "bullshit"/"pansies" incident, and Brown had accepted Savage's invitation to talk about same-sex marriage after dinner at Savage's house, moderated by journalist Mark Oppenheimer.

Here's Oppenheimer's write-up in The New York Times. He begins:
The ancient Greek symposium, which combined drinking with elevated discussion, was often held in a private house; at Parisian salons, conversation frequently took place in the bedroom. Once upon a time, intellectuals knew they could do their best thinking at home, not in a public venue, and that debate would be helped along by food and drink.
But Oppenheimer was actually not hoping for vigorous, deep debate. He imagined home (and drink) creating an atmosphere of warmth and affinity:
It was my hope, of course, that Mr. Brown might witness a sane, functional, happy family in a bourgeois home, and consider it as another piece of evidence, something more for reason to operate on.
Savage himself thought the home setting made him to "solicitous and considerate" — since it was his home, and he was therefore the host. And it's not surprising that Brown didn't cave on his principles when confronted with the reality of gay partnership in a nice home. So that was that.

By the way, Savage's newest podcast, #304 (downloadable in the sidebar here), begins with a discussion of the shooting at the Family Research Center, which he condemns while standing by the characterization of the FRC as a "hate group." In the course of making the argument — too bad there's no transcript — he quotes this quote:
"I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix...."
He mocks that, but says that's not enough to count as hate. He then stuns us with the revelation that the speaker of the quote is...

“Why does Ann Coulter call Todd Akin ‘a selfish swine?’”

Asked Lawrence O’Donnell (who, strangely, looks almost exactly like Todd Akin).
“Because Todd Akin’s bat-crap crazy ideas on rape are going to make it so much harder for [R]epublicans to win control of the Senate. Right now, Democrats hold 51 Senate seats, Republicans 47, independents 2. Republicans would need to pick up four seats to gain control of the Senate. They would need only three seats if Mitt Romney actually won the election, because then the vice president, Paul Ryan, would be able to cast a tie-breaking votes.”

But according to Coulter, O’Donnell['s] failure to invite her to appear on his show makes him “a complete pussy”....
The link goes to The Daily Caller (which badly needs proofreading — I had to fix 2 things in this short cut-and-paste). The main reason I'm linking to this item is that the picture of O'Donnell looks so much like Akin.

I looked for a picture of Akin to make my point and got distracted by — speaking of "a complete pussy" — this.

ADDED: Selfish swine or kind toad?

"I emphatically denounce Paul Ryan’s use of my song ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’..."

"... as recorded by my band Twisted Sister. There is almost nothing on which I agree with Paul Ryan, except perhaps the use of the P90X."

It's a rare entertainer who wants the association with Republicans. What's the upside? You might get some publicity, but the better publicity is in this sort of righteous refusal.

What was it, anyway, that Twisted Sister was saying it was not gonna take? Here are the lyrics. And here's the full-length video that includes the beginning with the dad yelling at the kid (who suddenly turns into Dee Snider). The thing not to be taken is pretty generic. The band claims the "the right to choose" and to "pick our destiny." They're also annoyed at whomever it is they are talking to, from whom they want "nothing" (which sounds pretty un-left-wing to me). The "you" addressed in the song is called "jaded," "trite," "worthless," and "weak" — which sounds like they're more opposed to the welfare state than to rugged individualism.

I'd say it's pretty good as a right-wing song, whether it was originally intended that way or not. But I can see why a performer embedded in our culture would cringe seeing his fairly generic protest song take on specifically right-wing meaning.

You can buy Twitter followers — a penny apiece.

It's easy!

"There’s a tremendous cachet associated with having a large number" of followers, and real readers might become interested in you because you've got all those followers. But the cachet depends on people believing that the followers are real people who chose to follow you.

There's a tool, Fake Follower Check, that purports to be able to tell what percentage of a Twitter-writer's followers are fake. It says:
... 71 percent of Lady Gaga’s nearly 29 million followers are “fake” or “inactive.” So are 70 percent of President Obama’s nearly 19 million followers.

But Twitter is starting to clamp down. In April, it filed suit in federal court in San Francisco against five spammers, including those who create fake Twitter followers....
A court is supposed to save them? 

What's so bad about soliciting "no strings attached" sex, through Craigslist, with a person over the age of consent?

Will you shed a tear for Kerry Gauthier, the Minnesota legislator who will not run for reelection because it's "too much... just too much"?

What's so terrible that his political career must end?

1. That the partner was only 17. Minnesota has 16 as the age of consent, so it's not technically criminal, but a decent person as old as Gauthier — who's 56 — should know it's morally wrong to have sex with someone that young.

2. That he doesn't have a stable love relationship in his life and, instead of looking for a serious relationship or figuring out how to live solo, he goes looking for commitment-free sex.

3. That the sex occurred at a public rest stop. Even if the partner were a woman his own age and even if they had a solid relationship, he needs to find a private place for his sexual activities.

August 22, 2012

"Democratic Convention To Become Celebration of Abortion Rights."

Notes Instapundit, who says:
[B]oth pro- and anti-abortion groups are focusing on the “legitimate rape” part because it distracts from the very issue Akin himself was trying to hide from: What about pregnancy that results from rape. Akin doesn’t want to confront that this happens, which is why he put forth his dumb rape-doesn’t-cause-pregnancy theory. Pro-choicers, for the most part, don’t want to confront that an abortion that happens after a rape is still just as much an abortion as one that happens because nobody bothered with birth control.

I think both sides should own it. Stand in your truth and be straightforward about what you really believe. 
Rush Limbaugh had a similar theme on his show today:

"Wisconsin’s Top 10 conservative bloggers..."

According to David Blaska.

"Are there still young people piling books in their garages, hoping to have a real shop some day?"

"I didn’t know. Calling for the auction was a way to find out...."
Everything sold but the fiction.... Many people asked me if I was sad to see so many books go. I wasn’t—mainly I was irritated to discover that I still had 30,000 novels to sell.

"I know what I've achieved and the fact that I don't want to give an apology, maybe I'll never get my diploma and that's fine."

Valedictorian who said "hell" in her speech tells the school authorities to go to hell.

She's the "hell" girl now, and she's sticking to it. Going on the "Today" show as the heroine of "hell."

Romney said "bless his heart" about Obama.

How disrespectful is that?
A preemptive “don’t even try it” to the media: It is not racist in the slightest.
Here's the Urban Dictionary's top entry for "bless your heart":
1. This is a term used by the people of the southern United States particularly near the Gulf of Mexico to express to someone that they are an idiot without saying such harsh words.

2. "You are an idiot but I like you and care about you so I dont want to hurt your feelings."
 ADDED: Here's an old Metafilter discussion:
"Well, bless your heart!" and "How nice for you!" are two of my favorite barely-veiled criticisms. Can you provide me with some more?...

"Isn't that special."...

"Duly noted."...

"Good luck with that."

"Thank you for sharing."...

"I'll keep that in mind." 

Speaking of distractions...

... Taylor Swift showed up at a Kennedy wedding — she's dating Conor Kennedy — and was told to leave.
“They texted me an hour before the wedding and asked if they could come,” Vicki Kennedy said. “I responded with a very clear, ‘Please do not come.’ They came anyway. ... I personally went up to Ms. Swift, whose entrance distracted the entire event, politely introduced myself to her, and asked her as nicely as I could to leave. It was like talking to a ghost. She seemed to look right past me.”
She seemed to look right past me.... Why do I find that so funny?

ADDED: Was Swift invited?
Conor was reportedly invited solo to the wedding of Kyle Kennedy and Liam Kerr last Saturday — but never sent a response, according to Victoria Kennedy....

The wedding-crashing couple, despite Victoria’s protestations, apparently danced the night away at the reception without any further complaints.

A Swift spokeswoman denied the reports of any mixup, insisting the singer was definitely on the guest list.

“There is no truth to that,” said Paula Erikson. “Taylor was invited to the wedding, and the bride thanked her profusely.”
There are 3 separate etiquette issues here. 1. Should Swift have attended, given her degree of invitedness? I don't know all the facts, but more probably should have been done by Conor. 2. Once Swift arrived, should she have been confronted? Maybe not. Finally: 3. Afterwards, should one blab about the whole thing to the press? That question is easy: no. The clearest violation of etiquette is Vicki's in airing her grievances to the press and deliberately humiliating and embarrassing Swift. I love the way she claimed to have been polite and nice in her own impolite and not nice statement to the press. Going public and presenting yourself in a flattering light? Horrid!

Sarah Palin wants Akin out.

"... Palin championed Sarah Steelman, who was her choice for the ticket in Missouri’s bloody Republican primary, and added that if Akin doesn’t drop out by the end of September, 'it’s going to be a third party then.'"

AND: This, from Bill Kristol:
Now is the time for kind, unassuming—and private—persuasion by conservatives, by pro-life and pro-marriage advocates, by serious people who've worked with Akin and by his fellow Missourians. I have reason to believe that's now beginning to happen behind the scenes. And I suspect that by the Democratic convention, by Labor Day, Akin will have stepped aside. 

$14.5 million settlement to a brain-damaged boy struck by a baseball hit by a metal bat.

The legal theory was that the metal bat was unsafe because it propelled the ball faster than the old wooden bats.

"If Jennifer Lopez or Madonna just showed up in a place of worship, stripped down to their skivvies and started dancing around the altar..."

"... would that fly in any Western democracy?"

Wild Goose Island.


In Glacier National Park.


"How To Deal With An 'Unruly Passenger' On A Cross Country Flight."

"An independent film producer on a flight from New York to L.A. shares his conversation with a man who was so unstable that the plane had to land early in Denver."
I want to write this all down before I forget it even though its 3.45am. I just got home.

Some one please tell me -- WTF did he write all of this down 'after the fact' and use multiple Twitter posts to do so?
The Twitter approach gave it a feeling of immediacy, even if it was fictional. Like the old "epistolary" novels.

"So maybe I am too idealistic, but I believe way deep inside me that we can make things better for everyone."

"I will be a catalyst. I will do what it takes. I will. Watch me."

At the Cautiously Spontaneous Café...


... it's an open thread for all your reflections.

(The photo is from Fargo.)

At last. Romney gets revenge for all that mockery over spelling "America" "Amercia."

Obama spells "Ohio" "Oiho."

It will be the final season for "The Office" — and "all questions will be answered."

Including who's been making the documentary. Who are the people on the other side of the fictional camera that the characters have been talking to all these years? And why would any documentary about a relatively dull and unimportant office keep filming and filming for 9 years?
The news has no impact on the possible Dwight-centric spin-off The Farm, which will be introduced in an episode of The Office to air this fall.
Via Throwing Things, which says "Do we care about Schrute Farms, which is apparently going to make its first appearance as a backdoor pilot during this season?" and which also notes:
Starting next January, ABC is flip-flopping Nightline and Jimmy Kimmel Live, with Kimmel going head to head with Letterman and Leno.  I'm not a huge Kimmel fan, but will be interesting to see how folks respond to a younger option in the timeslot.
I think it says something about American politics that the run-up to a presidential election seemed like the right time to make it harder to watch the serious news analysis show. (Cue the comments that Nightline is more comedy that Kimmel could ever hope to be.)

Vote Republican or go to Hell.

Harvesting uranium from shrimp shells.

There's a very tiny concentration of uranium in seawater — 3 parts per billion — but what if you could extract it from with the vast quantities of shells left over from shrimping?

Big UK lefty George Galloway fired for saying something about rape.

There's Todd Akin over there on the right, but the left is screwing up over rape too:
Mandy Rhodes, the editor of Holyrood, said the Respect party MP's remarks that Assange was guilty of just "bad manners" by failing to ask permission to have sex with a sleeping woman, had left her "frankly gobsmacked".
See? Galloway thought the incident was outside of the category that Todd Akin would label "legitimate rape" (and, to drag in another lefty, Whoopi Goldberg would call "rape rape").
[Rhodes] said it was impossible for [Galloway] to continue his column following his remark that having sex with a sleeping woman was "not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it" if she had already had sex with that man.

"There is no excuse, ever, for sex without consent, and regardless of the details of the Assange case, Galloway's comments and inappropriate language about rape per se are alarming," Rhodes said in a statement on the magazine's website....

"According to my Facebook profile, I'm doing about as well as their stock price..."

"... my "outreach" is -80%, whatever that, and 'outreach,' means."

At the Hands of Our Future Daycare, the childcare workers set up toddler fights.

Allegedly. In Delaware.
In the video, police say one child can be heard crying and yelling, ‘He’s pinching me,’ while a daycare worker responds, ‘No pinching, only punching.’”

“Clearly one of the children is crying and does not want to continue on and he is pushed back into the fray by one of the adults,” Dover Police Captain Tim Stump said.
The unbelievable things that video has made believable.

God disapproves of Republicans.

Suggests Dana Milbank noting the following trinity of occurrences:
●A report comes out that a couple dozen House Republicans engaged in an alcohol-induced frolic, in one case nude, in the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus is believed to have walked on water, calmed the storm and, nearby, turned water into wine and performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

●Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri’s Republican nominee for Senate, suggests there is such a thing as “legitimate rape” and purports that women’s bodies have mysterious ways to repel the seed of rapists. He spends the next 48 hours rejecting GOP leaders’ demands that he quit the race.

●Weather forecasts show that a storm, likely to grow into Hurricane Isaac, may be chugging toward . . . Tampa, where Republicans will open their quadrennial nominating convention on Monday.
If these 3 things belong in a set, I'd say it's a set of things that Democrats and their allied media have gotten excited about pumping up beyond any meaning. Dragging God into the mix is just part of that. Now, I suspect that Todd Akin himself believes that God has sent him this tribulation to overcome, and that's why he's got the spirit to defy the worldly establishment Republicans for the salvation of millions of innocent unborns.

But the other 2 things are the essence of stupid. It's stupid to push them as significant issues, and bringing in God is close to flaunting that you think God is some kind of joke — as fictional as the humanity social conservatives attribute to an embryo.

If God controls the weather, let's not worry about global warming. Or are you going to say He controls the weather but not the climate? We're talking omnipotence, or do you think that's some kind of joke?

But this skinny dipping story... what the hell? Hell, I say. Swimming naked has been the normal way to go swimming since forever. I'm virtually certain Jesus and his disciples swam naked in the Sea of Galilee. God sends us into the world naked. The unborn — are they human? — float naked in the waters of the womb. Is there something wrong with nakedness that the Democrats would like to make a big deal about? Some Republicans were unholy in the Holy Land?

Explain your theory/theology and why it's consistent with American principles of keeping religion and politics separate. (You define your concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life, and I'll define mine. That's liberty for you.)


The hurricane that approaches is named Isaac, which makes me think of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" (a song he played at the concerts we just saw in Missoula and Fargo):
Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
God says, “Out on Highway 61”
Driving somewhere between Fargo and Madison the other day, Meade asked me what's Bob Dylan's greatest line. I said "The next time you see me comin’ you better run."

If you really believed in God, you'd be careful how you used his name. You'd be afraid. Dylan's Abraham, told to kill Isaac, said: Man, you must be puttin’ me on... Do you think God is joking?

Do you think He's some kind of joke?

College Insurrection...

... an offshoot of Professor Jacobson's Legal Insurrection.

"Insurrection" — a brand. (Like "Occupy"?)

ADDED: Maybe "Althouse" should be a brand, sending off shoots. But what could it be? I mean the name could be "-house," but what could the substance of the brand be? My blog has always only been: topics I'm interested in, written about from my point of view. If anyone else did that, it would have no relationship to what I'm doing. It would just be another blog.

August 21, 2012

At the Pool Table Café...


... you can call the shots.

(The photograph was taken yesterday at The Raw Deal in Menomonie, Wisconsin.)

"Representative Todd Akin said definitively on Tuesday that he would not leave the race for the Senate in Missouri..."

"... saying on Mike Huckabee’s radio show that 'there’s a cause here' and that an outpouring of grass-roots support would propel him to victory without the support of the Republican establishment."
"We’re created by God for some special purpose," Mr. Akin told Mr. Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas.
If God is for us, who can be against us?

The first link goes to the NYT, which has that as its top story on the front page. And right under it is: "G.O.P. Approves Strict Anti-Abortion Language in Party Platform."

"Is Niall Ferguson's Newsweek attack on Obama 'embarrassing' and 'unethical'?"

"Paul Krugman is among the intellectual heavyweights tearing apart the British historian for a 'careless and unconvincing' article."
In a forthright cover story for Newsweek magazine entitled Hit the Road, Barack, Ferguson argues that Obama has broken almost all of his campaign promises of four years ago, and attacks the US president's foreign policy, healthcare reforms and economic and fiscal policy.

To say that commentators in the US have criticised the piece would be an understatement....

"Paul Ryan had staked out a spot between the workout bench and the weights."

"He wore a red Wisconsin Badgers baseball cap, a green short-sleeved workout shirt, gray running shorts, and Asics running shoes...."
Another woman walked up, requested a photo, and asked about his routine....

At one point he laughed and told her he doesn't do the "Insanity" workouts in a hotel fitness center. "If I did, I'd look like that guy," Ryan said, pointing at me....
Writes Ari Shapiro... (who looks just fine... and was thus a good target for Ryan's joshing).

"Immigrants make up roughly the same share of the U.S. population today as they did a century ago."

"But changes in the global economy, and in U.S. immigration law, have dramatically shifted where U.S. immigrants are coming from."

2 graphs.

Sri Lanka prosecutes 3 French tourists for photographs of themselves pretending to kiss Buddha statues.

Somehow in this age of digital photography they were using a photo lab and they didn't wait until they got home to process the photos. The local lab called the police.
On Tuesday a magistrate sentenced the trio to six months in prison with hard labour, suspended for five years - which means they will not actually serve any time in jail. The court also levied a small fine on them.

They were convicted under a section of the Penal Code which outlaws deeds intended to wound or insult "the religious feelings of any class of persons" through acts committed in, upon or near sacred objects or places of worship.

Last month there were reports that five Arabs visiting the island were arrested for distributing "literature insulting to Buddhism."

Diana Nyad fails — again — to swim from Cuba to Florida.

But the photos are fabulous (if you love survival).
She was aiming to be the first person to make the 103-mile journey without a shark cage, long rest breaks, or any physical contact from another person. It was her fourth attempt.
She's 62.

Meanwhile, in other swimming news:
A married couple in their 60s drowned while apparently trying to rescue their dog from a pond in Westfield Monday evening....

State Police said preliminary reports indicate the man ­entered the water to retrieve the couple’s small dog after it jumped off the boat.

Then, State Police said, the man became distressed while trying to reach the dog, and the woman entered the water to ­assist him, before she, too, ­became distressed....

The dog survived, Manos said.

"I'm Todd Akin... Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize."

Can you find it in your heart to forgive him? If you forgive him, should you say, nevertheless: Get out, you're hurting your party right now, and it's a big distraction? It's a wrong irreparable in a short time span. Now, you've got until 5 p.m. to get out of the race.

It's like some cowboy movie: You've got until sundown to get out of Dodge.

Now, I think Akin should drop out. It's not fair for him to hold the spotlight, and he's hurt his entire party. From the party's point of view, every day that's about him — and the war-on-women topic rape — is a day that not about the economy and what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan might do to save us from the depredations of the Democrats.

And yet... would the Democrats oust one of their own because he said one thing wrong? The GOP got played into destroying George Allen over the inane word "macaca." Democrats have their ways of disparaging Republicans for being racist/sexist/homophobe/whatever. It's not like they're going to stop. Each time they take a guy out it creates incentive to take another guy out. We can ruin X, like we ruined Allen and Akin.... It's a fun game... for them.

If Akin steps down, will takedowns like this continue? free polls 

When's the last time the worse looking of the 2 major party candidates won the Presidency?

A question I raise in the comments to this morning's body fat post.

Here's a list of all the candidates through American history. I'd say the answer to my question is 1976. But Jimmy Carter had a big smile that people responded to, and Ford had reached the presidency via Richard Nixon, who was quite unattractive, and people saw Nixon through Ford. That is, I could wriggle out of conceding that the "last time" was as recently as 1976. But what's the point? We get stopped at the next notch, 1972. Nixon was distinctly less pretty than George McGovern. Nixon was also less pretty than Hubert Humphrey in 1968, not that Humphrey was at all cute. 1964 was also a clear case of the uglier guy winning, LBJ being perhaps the ugliest President ever, and Barry Goldwater looking quite good. One more step back and we get to 1960, the strongest case I remember seeing beauty boosting a candidate across the line. And everyone talked about it (and still talks about it).

It's interesting that after that 1960 beauty contest, we got our spate of the uglier candidate winning. Why? The ugliest man ascended to the Presidency after the assassination of the handsome idol, and it was not odd that he was elected shortly thereafter. It took almost 20 years for us to revert to choosing the handsomer man, but ever since — more than 3 decades — we've chosen beauty.

This year, the GOP has made a strong choice in the beauty contest. It's not clear who's handsomer. Of course, it's clear if we average in the VP component, but the VP beauty boost is an iffy proposition. It didn't work — at least not enough — for John McCain or John Kerry. But I'm thinking if only Gerald Ford had picked someone prettier than Bob Dole....

"Thomas Jefferson's Crème Brûlée..."

"... How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America." A new book, by Thomas J. Craughwell, who provides this quickie version of the story in the American Spectator:
Eventually, James would speak French more fluently than Jefferson, who never mastered the language. James’ apprenticeship lasted three years, concluding in the spring and summer months of 1787, when he studied under the chef of the Prince of Condé. Initially, his lessons were held in the kitchen of the prince’s palace in Paris, but the final weeks of his training took place at the prince’s country chateau, Chantilly. Meals at Chantilly were sumptuous, and had been since the 17th century when Louis XIV came to dine. As a result, James’ training in the culinary arts under the prince’s chef meant that he was learning the most sophisticated techniques of French cuisine from an absolute master.

When he entered Condé’s kitchen, James joined an exclusive all-male world. In France, female cooks were acceptable in the homes of the bourgeoisie, but among the upper classes, a woman in the kitchen was un thinkable. La cuisine de femmes meant “home cooking,” a phrase which French chefs and French gourmands alike scorned. What the French up per crust desired -- and so did Thomas Jefferson, for that matter -- was haute cuisine: re fined, imaginative dishes served with style....

As word spread in Virginia of the remarkable meals that were being served at Monticello, Patrick Henry, one of Jefferson’s most bitter political opponents and a culinary chauvinist, denounced Jefferson as a man who had “abjured his native victuals!” 

"Ugh: really torn about which presidential ticket to vote for based on body fat percentage."

Ah! That takes me back! My first ever political post, on the second day of this blog, January 15, 2004:
Our local free tabloid, The Isthmus, has a nice set of columns comparing the Democratic candidates for President.

Hmmm.... "Little known fact: at 59, Wesley Clark has only 5% body fat."

Christopher asks, "Should it be Wesley Clark is 5% body fat?"
The link didn't go to the article in the Isthmus. I wasn't reading the article on line, but on newsprint. The link went to the entry in the Philosophical Dictionary to the "mind-body problem." Chris's question wasn't political, but philosophical (and linguistic). The Philosophical Dictionary link has died though, so I'm replacing it with the Wikipedia entry on the mind-body problem.

Now, I'm clicking back sequentially through those oldest posts: the first post about art, the first post about suicide, the first post about law, the first and second post about hair, the first post about language usage, and the first post (about blogging).

August 20, 2012

Restoring the American chestnut.

"Scientists are on the brink of engineering a blight-resistant American chestnut tree, renewing hope for a comeback of a long-celebrated species that is valued by business for its sturdy hardwood."

"In the wake of Modern Guilt and The Information, Beck’s latest album comes in an almost-forgotten form..."

"... twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded."

Sweet. People used to play their own music. Back in the 1930s, my mother bought sheet music. That was how the hit songs were purchased back then. I have a box of those old songs in my hall closet. But things are different today: Beck is inviting people to record these songs, and he's working with McSweeney's to make (some of) our versions of his songs available on line.

"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair..."

Scott McKenzie, whose air-headed song charmed us in 1967, has died at the age of 73.

"[T]here is a big difference between being a plagiarist — at bottom, lazy or sloppy — and being a fabulist."

David Carr on Fareed Zakaria and Jonah Lehrer.

It's tougher to make things up than to copy, and yet it's Lehrer who's screwed himself more deeply.

"There may well come a day, when women will be invited to join our membership..."

"... but that timetable will be ours, and not at the point of a bayonet."

Lake MacDonald.



In Glacier National Park.

Last night in Fargo.


We saw Bob Dylan again.


And now, we're back in Madison, having driven 4,000+ miles in 12 days.

Goodbye to Phyllis Diller.

She was 95.
Diller was nearly 40 when she began performing, with five children and a successful career as an advertising copywriter. At the time, women were a rarity in the world of stand-up comedy.
Thanks for all the laughs! Here she is on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1969:

AND: Here she is roasting Reagan:

"If you ever get to be President, and I think you may...."

AND: Many commenters are talking about Diller's skill on the harpsichord. Here she is flaunting her talent to Liberace:

Should Todd "legitimate rape" Akin step aside?

The editors of the Nation Review Online say he should:
While Akin is a stalwart conservative and an honorable man, we regret to say that he inspires no such confidence. That is one reason why Senator Claire McCaskill, the sitting Democratic senator, boosted him during the Republican primaries with ads calling him a “true conservative.” She knew that she is the weakest Senate incumbent on the ballot this year and that her only hope was to draw a weak opponent. Akin won a three-way primary with a plurality of the vote; there was no run-off. McCaskill’s strategy is now paying off.

Akin has backed off from his remarks, albeit with the politician’s excuse of “misspeaking.” People who make such remarks on television are typically capable of making more like them, or rather incapable of exercising the judgment to refrain. We suspect that this same lack of judgment will cause Akin to blow past tomorrow evening’s deadline for him to leave the race and allow the Republicans to select a better nominee. We hope the congressman, who surely wants to see a Senate with as much conservative strength as possible next year, will prove us wrong.
Akin should... free polls 

ADDED: "National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Tex.) informed Rep. Todd Akin on Monday that the national GOP will not spend money to help elect him to the Senate...."

AND: Hannity, talking to Akin, essentially tells him to get out:
I think there is one political reality that I think has to be faced by you and your campaign and that is that you know, the reality here is that Democrats now have a ton of ammunition and they are now going to try to use these remarks to hurt everybody they can. And if I was put in that position, I would at least be thinking about what is in the best interest of the party. hat is in the best interest of, you know, Mitt Romney in this case. What is in the best interest of the people of Missouri, are they going to be able to hear a campaign about issues or is this going to be the distraction of the campaign. Are you -- you're not even considering that?"
Krauthammer says Akin must leave:
"He's got to leave... He's toxic. Nobody will touch him. Republicans aren't going to support him. He's not going to get any money. They've tossed away a seat that they could easily have won. It isn't only that it was offensive and toxic; it was unbelievably stupid. And there is enough stupidity in Congress that we don't need to add to it in this large amount. The guy's got to leave."
It was sharp of Republicans to drop Akin cold. No one thought he was worth defending.

"If it had been a Republican vice presidential candidate who had made those gaffes, one after another, so comically..."

"... and all on tape, the subject today of the panel would be how stupid is this person, can this person possibly govern?" — Peggy Noonan.

Rudy Giuliani: "I truly believe if that were a Republican, if Sarah Palin made that level of mistakes, Dick Cheney, he'd be plastered all over the media. The New York Times would go nuts."

Newsweek's new anti-Obama cover.

It's getting rewarded with big links from Instapundit and Drudge, incentivizing (perhaps) a little less biased coverage of the campaign. We'll see. I doubt it. It could happen.

Obama calls Marco Rubio "boy": "Tell your boy to watch it. He might get his ass kicked."

He said that to a woman he knew was "close to" Rubio after she said "maybe" to his question "Is your boy going to go for [vice president]?"

That's one story in Politico's new e-book "Obama's Last Stand."

There's other interesting stuff at the first link, including Obama's disrespect for Romney — who stands for “nothing” — and his fear that Romney will get to "take credit when the economy turns around." There's also a lot of fairly generic material about the troubles in the Obama campaign. Axelrod got mad at Stephanie Cutter. An internal polls showed people don't like hearing from Debbie Wasserman Schultz. That sort of thing.

Romney and Ryan try to avoid the distraction of Akin's idiotic "legitimate rape" remark.

And this is a nice break for Obama and Joe "put y'all back in chains" Biden.

What morsel of moronicness is next on the menu of debased American politic?

And speaking of stupidity:

It's the economy, stupid.

"The biggest edge I live on is directing. That's the most scary, dangerous thing you can do in your life."

Said movie director Tony Scott, who found a bigger, more dangerous edge — a bridge — to jump off and out of life.
The scariest thing in my life is the first morning of production on all my movies. It's the fear of failing, the loss of face and a sense of guilt that everybody puts their faith in you and not coming through.

August 19, 2012

"My job was simple: Paint by numbers."

"The most intricate sections required miniature brushes, sizes 0 and 00, their bristles no longer than an eyelash. The goal was to hand-fashion a flat, seamless surface that appeared to have been manufactured by machine, which meant there could be no visible brush strokes, no blending, no mistakes."

The tribulations of an art worker, paid $14 an hour to make a painting "by" Jeff Koons that sold for $501,933. Koons does the ideas and he makes far more money. Do you have a problem with that?

"The P90X is very tough. I got the DVDs. I made it to the first part. Then I just put on 'Finding Nemo.' "

Jimmy Fallon, joking about Paul Ryan — "The guy is ripped" — with Nancy Pelosi, whose own joke was: "I don't really know him well because I've never been to the gym." And he doesn't know you because he's never been to the plastic surgeon. I'm not knocking her plastic surgery there. I'm just demonstrating how easy it is to write jokes like that.

And as long as I'm grabbing links from Drudge... those late-night joke writers better bear down and work a lot harder, seeing as NBC — home of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon"—  just axed 20 staffers from "The Tonight Show."

"It was such a crazy time, and I didn’t want to have anyone worrying about me, especially Mitt. I didn’t tell anyone, but I knew I had to quit."

Said Ann Romney, speaking about last spring.
"I started feeling tingling and a little bit of numbness coming back and I was dizzy, I started to get dizzy, the dizzy head, you caught the MS fog, the real foggy brain."
Stress triggers flare-ups, and the campaign, she notes, laughing, is a stress.

Does a landlord have an ethical obligation to disclose that the previous tenant died in the apartment you're thinking of renting?

The NYT ethicist thinks the obligation is "seemingly obvious" or even "compulsory." He's responding to somebody who wasn't informed before signing the lease and now finds it "unsettling and slightly disturbing" to know that the previous tenant died. Of an overdose. Not a murder, just an overdose. A forgotten man slipped away through the portal to the beyond that exists within that rental unit... and everywhere else on the face of the earth.

This last week, we've been driving quite a distance across that face. Maybe an eyelid's expanse of earth-face. Much of the eyelid has been Montana, where the Montana American Legion has been carrying out its White Cross Highway Fatality Marker Program since 1953.
The unique idea of marking fatal traffic accident sites with a white cross was the brain child of Floyd Eaheart, a member of the American Legion Hellgate Post #27, Missoula, Montana; after six lives were lost in the Missoula area over the 1952 Labor Day Holiday. The safety program started out as a county and later district project for the Missoula American Legion Post. However, the idea was so good that it was soon adopted as a statewide program. The Montana Highway Commission (now Department of Transportation) approved the program in January 1953, with the blessing of the then 13th governor of Montana, J. Hugo Aronson (the Galloping Swede)....

The program is intended as a highway safety, not a memorial program.  Still, many families place wreaths or other decorations on the white crosses, which may be considered a memorial to a loved one lost in an accident.  Obstruction of the white cross with these decorations defeats the purpose of the safety program.  
You appropriate an individual's death for your message of traffic safety, with the state's approval, and you don't like when the people who loved that person pile on a message of their own. Either it's a speech forum, where viewpoint discrimination is banned or it's the state's own speech, and it's an Establishment Clause violation (unless the courts say it's not).
The white crosses serve as a public service message, reminding drivers to “Please Drive Carefully.”  They are a sobering reminder of a fatal traffic accident, a place where a human being lost his/her life....

Not all highway fatalities are marked.  Due to a federal ruling, white crosses are not allowed along interstate highways.
Here's some discussion of the case. I don't see what the interstate has to do with it. The Constitution applies off the off ramp. But the crosses are all over the place in Montana, reminding us where people have died. How unsettled the skittish NYT reader might feel, driving in Montana, knowing about all that death. Or perhaps it's soothing to see so few doorways to oblivion have opened up in the years since 1953. Half a century has gone by and yet there are long spaces on the road that have never swallowed a human being. Often you can traverse an entire eyelash on the face of the earth without seeing a white cross.

Seeing the white crosses, I wonder about the places where there has been death. What if you could — everywhere — see who (and what) has ever died on that spot. How covered with death would the earth be? I'm blogging in the breakfast room of a Holiday Inn Express in Bismarck, North Dakota. Am I sitting on a dinosaur carcass?