December 8, 2012

Freshman wins Heisman.

A first.

"That the Supreme Court is taking this up is truly exhilarating, but I’m very nervous and unnerved by the possibilities of what could come out of this."

"It is frightening to have our basic rights as citizens in the hands of just nine people, when four or five of them are deeply ambivalent, at best, about our very existence."

First of all, if you lose in court, you could still win in Congress. But second,  you probably won't lose. In fact, I predict a win by more than a 5-4 margin.

"The Power of Negative Thinking."

"Both ancient philosophy and modern psychology suggest that darker thoughts can make us happier."
Just thinking in sober detail about worst-case scenarios—a technique the Stoics called “the premeditation of evils”—can help to sap the future of its anxiety-producing power. The psychologist Julie Norem estimates that about one-third of Americans instinctively use this strategy, which she terms “defensive pessimism.” Positive thinking, by contrast, is the effort to convince yourself that things will turn out fine, which can reinforce the belief that it would be absolutely terrible if they didn’t.
That's from a new article in the WSJ. There's a similar chapter in David Rakoff's great collection of essays "Half Empty." Excerpt:

"Five Bloggers I’d Like To See On FOX News."

American Glob.

"Every so often, Grant Risdon looks out his living room window and sees a stranger staring up at him, waving."

"Mr. Risdon isn't a celebrity... But his house has a very public persona..."
Its second floor is almost entirely encased in glass, making it look like a transparent box floating above the more traditional homes in a densely populated Seattle neighborhood.

Mr. Risdon says he wanted to feel connected to the outside but didn't want to leave the city. He says he and his wife don't use blinds—even at night. "I don't feel exposed. I don't worry about it. We have nothing to hide," Mr. Risdon says.
Why not be seen? Bring warmth and humanity to the surrounding streets. It's something like the traditional custom of sitting on front porches, engaging with passersby. It's far from having people into your house, but also far from shutting the place up and depriving the neighborhood of its human presence.

"'Wanker' is a leftie blog cliché used to describe people who deviate from the left-liberal line but aren’t conservatives. Say, Tom Friedman."

"It has been a long time since I’ve won Wanker of the Day, and the rush of gratitude has me feeling a bit flustered. So many people to thank!"

"The Internet's most ostentatiously blissful women — the curators of domesticity on Pinterest, Tumblr, and thousands of female-driven blogs..."

"... occupy a sexless aspirational world, a modern Douglas Sirk fantasy of color-saturated feminine mystique."
So-called “food porn” or “shelter porn” is as close as we get to corporeal abandon. Forget teen sexters posting DIY erotica online. At the forefront of female cyber-exhibitionism, lifestyle blogging barely even acknowledges that physical pleasure exists, never mind its key role in domestic bliss.

"There is no, 'Trust us, changes are coming' clause in the Constitution."

"To the contrary, the Bill of Rights itself, and the First Amendment in particular, reflect a degree of skepticism towards governmental self-restraint and self-correction."

Today is "Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day."

Geekdad proclaims it "genius." (Via Instapundit.)
- Walk up to random people and say "WHAT YEAR IS THIS?" and when they tell you, get quiet and then say "Then there’s still time!" and run off.

- Stand in front of a statue (any statue, really), fall to your knees, and yell "NOOOOOOOOO"....

- Take some trinket with you (it can be anything really), hand it to some stranger, along with a phone number and say "In thirty years dial this number. You’ll know what to do after that." Then slip away.
Pranks. Aren't we supposed to give up pranks now that that one lady committed suicide?

What it takes to save someone who's fallen on the subway tracks.

It takes a woman applying moral pressure on men who have the strength to do it. You need the strength and the will. The woman created the will in the men.

Same as it ever was. But women need to know this.


Oh, no, the fun is over, and just when Obama was having a Christmas party.

"[T]he reason shoes are especially appealing is that unlike dresses, jackets, or sweaters, they still fit if you gain ten pounds."

"At least, that’s my conclusion as to why women are crazy about shoes," says Instapundit, claiming authority as a former shoe salesman.

A sweater will still fit! So will plenty of dresses and jackets — just look at how they are designed today. All that knit, stretchiness, and so forth. You could gain 20 pounds and maybe more and still wear these things.

The problem with the kind of shoes these shoe-freak ladies are buying is that they are never comfortable, so it's less that they'll continue to fit than that they never fit. There's always a fantasy that these new shoes you're trying on really do fit, because they feel okay in the store. Later — like a boyfriend who seemed so good at first — they'll hurt you. And so you constantly need replacements. This looks cute. 

Well, to keep this analogy going, maybe shoes are like the bad boy who gets you hot and then disappoints you. Shopping for sewn fabric to cover your torso requires you, right there in the store, to deal with the practical needs of your particular body. So boring! That dress is the dull, nice guy who might work out longterm, but you can't get excited. What makes that dress (or husband-material) untempting is you — your body, your real needs.

ADDED: Manolo the Shoeblogger has some ideas about what makes shoes special. First: they "have magic in them."
Our fairy tales are filled with stories of fantasy shoes: glass slippers, hundred league boots, ruby slippers, shoes in which old women reside, boots for sword fighting cats, shoes made by elvish cobbles at night, red ballet shoes which cause the wearer to dance incessantly, and on, and on.
Don't forget "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf."
So Inge put on her best clothes, and her new shoes, drew her dress up around her, and set out, stepping very carefully, that she might be clean and neat about the feet, and there was nothing wrong in doing so. But when she came to the place where the footpath led across the moor, she found small pools of water, and a great deal of mud, so she threw the loaf into the mud, and trod upon it, that she might pass without wetting her feet. But as she stood with one foot on the loaf and the other lifted up to step forward, the loaf began to sink under her, lower and lower, till she disappeared altogether, and only a few bubbles on the surface of the muddy pool remained to show where she had sunk. 

But where did Inge go? She sank into the ground, and went down to the Marsh Woman, who is always brewing there....
Read the whole thing.

The ultimate reason to switch to ebooks.


That's hot news in the NYT, but of course, insects have been enjoying the nourishment of books for a long long time, and book-readers love to use the metaphor of insects-feeding-on-books for themselves. What do you think a bookworm is?
Bookworm is a popular generalization for any insect which supposedly bores through books. Actual book-borers are uncommon....

A major book-feeding insect is the book or paper louse (aka booklouse or paperlouse).... It is not actually a true louse.

Many other insects, like the silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) or cockroach (various Blattodea), will consume these molds and also degraded paper or the starch-based binding pastes – warmth and moisture or high humidity are prerequisites, so damage is more common in the tropics. Modern glues and paper are less attractive to insects....
Even less attractive: iPad, Nook, and Kindle.

"I just like diamond teeth and I didn’t feel like having to take them out all the time."

"I just thought that diamonds were cooler. It's just something that rock stars are supposed to do."

"The Drug War is about control."

"Obama likes control."

And here's the NYT reporting on the way the Obama administration is supposedly mulling over what to do about Colorado and Washington.
Some law enforcement officials, alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly, are said to be pushing for a stern response. But such a response would raise political complications for President Obama because marijuana legalization is popular among liberal Democrats who just turned out to re-elect him.
It's all about Obama!

(Why didn't I have a tag "Obama and drugs" before? All that "choom" stuff and so on....)

ADDED: Meade riffs on Obama and hope and segues into "pocketful of hope... money for dope... money for rope..." and I find the old John Lennon song in my iTunes:
No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of Tricky Dicky
Is gonna Mother Hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope 
That makes me think about and "10 For 2: John Sinclair Freedom Rally" which took place in Ann Arbor in 1971 — where I was in town, listening to the live feed on the radio — and John Lennon himself showed up and that "inspired the creation of Ann Arbor’s annual pro-legalization Hash Bash rally, which continues to be held as of 2012."

40 years ago. Obama was 10. It was the year Obama returned from Indonesia to Honolulu to live with his grandparents and go to prep school. As David Maraniss tells it:
A self-selected group of boys at Punahou School who loved basketball and good times called themselves the Choom Gang. 180 Choom is a verb, meaning “to smoke marijuana.” As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled. When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around. “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated,” explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo.
Obama likes control!

"Court keeps alive inmate's quest for pork feast."

Headline at the National Law Journal makes the "quest" sound more absurd than it is. The prisoner, Derek Kramer, is an Odinist and he's suing in pursuit of his rights under the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

From the 7th Circuit court's opinion (PDF):
Odinism is a polytheistic religion, which was practiced for millennia in northern Europe before the rise of Christianity and has been revived in recent decades. The practice of Odinism includes group worship ceremonies. Pork is a sacred food to Odinists....

Specifically, Kramer asked for a feast on December 21st for the “High Feast of Yule” and “further requested that HAM/PORK be included in with the FEAST MEAL.”...
Kramer had a larger problem with the group worship at the Green Bay Correctional Institution: The Department of Corrections lumps the "Pagan" religions together for group worship purposes, and he objected to a specifically Wiccan ritual at the service. The demand for an annual pork feast was part of a larger effort to separate the Odinists from the Wiccans.

Kramer's loss on everything but the pork feast (which he hasn't yet won) is based on procedural matters that are probably only interesting to lawyers — unless you know how to be interested in the way procedure can operate to undermine rights.

December 7, 2012

At the Last Day of School Café...


... a dog and husband waited for me in the fast-falling darkness.

Why was Superman wearing underpants over his tights in the first place?

Rob Bricken pushes back against those who are outraged at Superman's redesigned outfit. The original outfit (from 1933) was based on what circus strongmen of the time wore. But no one gets that reference anymore. So:
No one is looking at Superman's redesigned outfit in DC's New 52 and saying, "Boy, now that Superman doesn't have underpants, he no longer looks like a circus strongman, which was a visual that had no value to me!" Maybe a few people are saying, "Boy, Superman's skin-tight unitard sure looks adult and manly now that he isn't wearing underwear!" …maybe. But most people are saying, "He looks weird without it."
Think about why old-time circus strongmen dressed like they did: They wanted to show off their muscles in a leotard and tights, but they needed to avoid all that precise definition around their genitalia. If it's just a drawing though, the artists can render the crotch any way they want. They don't need pants, but the lack of pants makes you think about it:
I have no idea why this is - maybe our brains instinctively know when a guy is effectively wearing a unitard, his junk should be visible. You don't have to want to see it, you don't even have to think about it for more than a second, but the lack of underpants forces us to acknowledge the super-crotch, while underpants allow us to ignore the region entirely.
And then there's movie Superman. (Photo of underpantsless Superman at the link.)
By taking away Superman's briefs in both the comics and the movies, DC is working against 80 years of tradition, a tradition that superheroes have completely claimed from their original inspiration. They aren't making Superman look any less "silly" - he's still wearing tights and a cape, for fuck's sake. They're simply making people think about Superman's penis now, and not everybody wants to. 
 (Via Metafilter.)

"As for your term papers, I should like them to be both cynical and religious."

"I want you to adore the Universe, to be easily delighted, but to be prompt as well with impatience with those artists who offend your own deep notions of what the Universe is or should be."

Kurt Vonnegut, to his Iowa Writers' Workshop class in 1965 (reprinted in this collection of his letters).

"University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez made a choice this week based on nothing more than what he thought was right."

"Mr. Alvarez's and Mr. Chryst's emphasis on commitment and ethics is unusual in a college sports landscape that has seen universities break 50-year-old conference ties for a few extra million dollars in TV revenue or coaches who issue statements of commitment only to leave for a 'dream job' a few days or weeks later."

Katie Roiphe tries to fathom the depths of why she's buying really expensive shoes.

She writes about herself in the second person saying things like: 
You have read Adorno. You are able to think critically about your desire for the shoes. Furthermore, you have a healthy class-hatred for people who dress habitually in clothes from this store...
If you do walk out with the shoes...  they work like a drug—the anxieties that were plaguing you before you enter the store have lifted. As you step out into traffic, the still and stagnant city is suddenly charged with possibility

The parties you have scribbled in your calendar seem more glittery or interesting or fun, and you in the shoes, more daunting, more sylphlike, more free, more invulnerable....

Do you want to be the kind of person who sacrifices, overreaches, for a pair of shoes, who imbues them with a romantic overlay that a material object cannot possibly sustain?
That's where the internal argument ends up, and obviously she buys the shoes. Obviously, there's a huge mental element to consumerism, both before and after the purchase. Note that anxieties must be stirred up to provide an additional argument: I need to dispel these anxieties! She gets off on the purchase.

My question: Why shoes? There's some discussion of how shoes "will transform you into someone else" — special shoe magic. (See "The Wizard of Oz.") There's oddly little reference to sex. Roiphe ignores Freud, who famously saw shoes as vagina symbols. Roiphe wants — or wants "you" — to be daunting, sylphlike, free, and invulnerable.

A sylph is a female fairy. In Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock," "women who are full of spleen and vanity turn into sylphs when they die because their spirits are too full of dark vapors to ascend to the skies." (Here is "The Rape of the Lock," with the illustrations by Aubry Beardsley, for only 99¢ on Kindle!)

So, maybe, why shoes? Why not dresses, jackets, jewelry, sweaters? I think it's that you've got to specialize — unless you're actually rich — if you're going to shop in the really expensive places. You can trick yourself into thinking you've been indulged. Still, why specialize in shoes?

Waiting for an order granting Supreme Court review in a same-sex marriage case. [UPDATE: Granted!!]

They're live-blogging the anticipation over at SCOTUSblog.
The Conference is over for today; that was some time ago. What's going on now is composing orders, if any are to be released today. Simple grants are easier to write than, say, consolidated grants among several picked cases....

I expect the Court to act today on the gay-marriage petitions for two reasons. First, it has to rule on the petitions at this Conference if they are going to be argued in March. Otherwise, it has to wait until April. And the Court would prefer to have more time between the argument and when the Court ends the Term in late-June.
UPDATE:  "Prop. 8 is grant[d]. So is Windsor. Those are the only two marriage cases granted."
Prop. 8 is granted on the petition question -- whether 14th Am. bars Calif. from defining marriage in traditional way. Plus an added question: Whether the backers of Prop. 8 have standing in the case under Art. III.
In Windsor, the government petition (12-307) is the one granted. In addition to the petition question -- whether Sec. 3 of DOMA violates equal protection under 5th Amendment, there are two other questions: does the fact that government agreed with the 2d CA decision deprive the Court of jurisdiction to hear and decide the case, and whether BLAG (House GOP leaders) has Art. III standing in this case.
AND: "The Court... has agreed to take up virtually all of the key issues about same-sex marriage, but has given itself a way to avoid final decisions on the merits issues."

"I have no problem with people in this country trying to earn a profit..."

"... but I would ask them: Would they do this to their own children, in their own neighborhood, in their own home state?"

Leave West Virginia alone!

"In some ways DeMint and Heritage are like divorcees who didn’t fit in their prior relationships, but now have found each other."

Writes Jennifer Rubin:
Heritage cannot keep up with AEI, Hoover and others on the serious scholarship, so why not get a huge fundraiser, a headline- grabber and household name? DeMint, meanwhile, can vastly increase his earnings (he is among the poorest members of the Senate), enjoy a lavish expense budget and not be bothered with the late hours and constituent complaints that make for a certain drudgery in the Senate. Moreover, he wasn’t doing anything in the Senate for years other than taunting colleagues and trying to stop legislation that failed the purity test (all of it). That in part is a function of a do-nothing Senate, but it was also DeMint’s choice to eschew lawmaking, policy enactment, bridge-building and steady but slow progress in passing a conservative agenda. Ultimately, that’s not very fulfilling, especially if you aren’t paid very well.

"On Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor..."

"... I was working as a reporter for the Hono­lulu Star-Bulletin."
After a week of war, I wrote a story directed at Hawaii’s women; I thought it would be useful for them to know what I had seen. It might help prepare them for what lay ahead. But my editors thought the graphic content would be too upsetting for readers and decided not to run my article. It appears here for the first time.

"Almost every politician professes to admire it, almost none of them are willing to vote for it, and almost none of its supporters know what’s in it."

The Simpson-Bowles plan.

"A hospital nurse caring for the Duchess of Cambridge, who was duped by two DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles..."

"... is understood to have committed suicide."
The DJs... apologized for the hoax — sheepishly noting that they were surprised that the call was put through and that their Australian accents were not detected.

"Would Zeus like to come over and take me for my daily walk?"

Says Meade, over the phone to the neighbor. I watch from the window:

"[T]he target of my investigation – the man I had publicly shamed – had killed himself."

"I’m used to the people I investigate hating my guts. I’m somewhat used to them screaming at me. I’m used to their attempts to pressure me. Having them commit suicide is somewhat new."

"There are some good things" about being "robotic."

"Discipline comes to mind. But it sounds like there is just no emotion. People that know me, I don’t think they would say that. I certainly am not a fist-pounder. That isn’t my style. But that and emotion are two different things. One is just a way of expressing it, basically. So, anyway."

Says Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple (picked by Steve Jobs).

Cheer up about your genitalia.

Constructing the last post, I ran across this other Planned Parenthood video, which is nicely done (but NSFW). (Teased at PP's Facebook page like this.)

"Monsters: Planned Parenthood tells teens ‘look your best’ after being beaten with these make-up tips."

Twitchy is aghast... after not getting it.

Do I really need to explain? Maybe I do, because those people are so dumb... or maybe only playing dumb. Let me take an intelligence test over here. You've got to watch the video first: here. Now, here's the test:

Did Twitchy understand the video it condemns as shameful? free polls 

Also legal starting today in Washington...

... same-sex marrying.

"Does this mean you should flagrantly roll up a mega-spliff and light up in the middle of the street?"

If you’re smoking pot in public, officers will be giving helpful reminders to folks about the rules and regulations under I-502 (like not smoking pot in public). But the police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a Lord of the Rings marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to.
That's the Seattle Police Department, writing that, by the way. Don't you like police department humor?

AND: "I'm not sure where you're suppose to get it," King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg told CNN. "If you stumble across some on the street or it falls from the sky, then you can have it. Otherwise, you are part of a criminal chain of distribution."
The Washington State Liquor Control Board has until December 1, 2013, to establish clear guidelines for the regulation of marijuana sale and distribution. Until then, obtaining marijuana by any means remains illegal.

Also, marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law, but the government hasn't said what it intends to do about Initiative 502. The U.S. attorney's office released a statement yesterday reaffirming its position on the illegality of any action involving marijuana, stressing that federal properties such as military bases and national parks remain off-limits to Washington tokers.
The line between the risk-taking transgressors and timid rule-followers remains, even today. As I said, that's not fair

December 6, 2012

Mountain bike with Meade.

In the Kettle Moraine:

17 minutes... edited from a 2-hour ride, with this GoPro camera strapped to his helmet.

(If you're doing any shopping through Amazon, please use the Althouse portal. Unrelated to mountain biking: I'm a big fan of Butter London Nail Polish and the Butter London "Top and Tails" base coat and top coat for nails.)

"George Zimmerman has filed his defamation lawsuit against NBC and three reporters for their false editing..."

"... of his non-emergency call to police to report Trayvon Martin..."
The 24-page complaint alleges “NBC News saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain.”
ADDED: More detail here.

"Despite the passage of time since second-wave feminism erupted in the late 1960s, we’ve somehow been thrown back to the demure girly-girl days of the white-bread 1950s."

"It feels positively nightmarish to survivors like me of that rigidly conformist and man-pleasing era, when girls had to be simple, peppy, cheerful and modest. Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Dee formed the national template -- that trinity of blond oppressors!"

Camille Paglia is displeased with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

At the Black Dog Café...


... curl up.

"'The Hobbit' looks really, really strange."

"At least it does when projected in 3-D, at the 48 frames per second rate (known as high-frame rate, or HFR) that Jackson intends as the preferred format...."
It’s not easy to describe the hyperreal, ultra-clear, sharp-edged look of the 48fps image, except by way of analogy. As one critic was heard to say on the sidewalk outside a Manhattan screening, “I turned that setting off on my TV.” Some viewers have said that “The Hobbit” has the harsh video shimmer of a 1980s soap opera, with, of course, many times the resolution. Another guy I know said the whole movie looked like a cutting-edge screen saver from the early days of digital imaging, around 2000 or so. That’s getting close. To me, “The Hobbit” looked like a prototype of some new computer game, or a demonstration video that some dude at Best Buy was using to sell a $1,700 HDTV monitor while murmuring, “Someday, man, all movies will look like this.”
So... it's some kind of sharpness beyond what the eye sees in real life, causing it to seem unreal? I'd be curious to check that out, but perhaps not willing to sit through it.

"Birds Appear to 'Self-Medicate' With Our Cigarette Butts."

Headline at The Atlantic. What birds are actually doing, apparently, is using the butts in nest-building, and nicotine works as an arthropod repellent.

"I’m not so sure why we want more people on our crowded, overheated planet..."

"... where world population is projected to increase by 2 billion before finally beginning to fall. But if [NYT conservative columnist Ross] Douthat really thought through what it means to have and raise a child these days, I’m sure he could come up with a lot of great ways to help women and families. The trouble is, he couldn’t be a Republican anymore. He’d be a socialist."

That's Katha Pollitt over at The Nation, reacting to Douthat's reaction to the plummeting birthrate in the United States, which we were talking about here. I'd asked:
If it is an emergency, what could be done? Is there a role for government? What if government wanted to get involved, really deeply involved? Suggestions? Don't violate any rights. This is a government of laws, in which women have reproductive freedom. But there is the taxing power and the spending power and so forth.
So I agree with Pollitt on where the solution to the problem lies... except that she's not ready to see how it's a problem.

"We're all adults here, it's time we take our freedom back."

Fabulous slogan from ad — viewable at the link — for blu eCigs.
Most living Americans had never before seen a cigarette advertised on television - they were banned in 1971.

But the electronic cigarettes fall outside that law, since they contain no tobacco. That is just one way they fall into what one anti-smoking campaigner calls a regulatory "no man's land."...

Unless they make a therapeutic claim, for example that they can help people quit smoking, they fall in the cracks between federal tobacco regulations and rules covering drug devices like insulin pumps...

In the new commercial, Lorillard appears to have reached into the bag of advertising tricks that got previous generations of Americans hooked on cigarettes, tobacco industry critics say.

"It feels like what they're trying to do is re-establish a norm that smoking is okay, that smoking is glamorous and acceptable," says Cynthia Hallett, executive director of Americans for Non-Smokers' Rights.
Step back, nanny.

I'm waiting for the day when there will be legal THC-delivering eCigs. And here I am smoking a blu eCig. I've never been a tobacco smoker. So I think these things might be nice for people who want to play-smoke and have a bit of nicotine — which is a stimulant and a relaxant.
Nicotine appears to enhance concentration and memory... It also appears to enhance alertness.... Arousal is increased...  Pain is reduced... Anxiety is reduced...

Research suggests that, when smokers wish to achieve a stimulating effect, they take short quick puffs, which produce a low level of blood nicotine. This stimulates nerve transmission. When they wish to relax, they take deep puffs, which produce a high level of blood nicotine, which depresses the passage of nerve impulses, producing a mild sedative effect.
Anyway, watch the ad at the first link. When I showed it to Meade — who, like me, loved the "take our freedom back" slogan — he said that was the key to understanding the famous "smoking guy" ad for Herman Cain.

The atheist, building churches, said he "avoided conventional solutions, which had produced the old dark cathedrals reminding us of sin."

Oscar Niemeyer. Dead, now, at 104. He was also a communist. (Fidel Castro was a personal friend.) He won the International Lenin Peace Prize in 1963, which he accepted in Moscow, saying:
“On the politics, I’m with you.... But your architecture is awful. Look, I didn’t come here to criticize, but you asked. It’s terrible.”

"I managed to get my head up and scream 'croc' and then this giant dragged me under again."

"I got my head above water again and this time I was swearing and saying get this thing off me. I was just screaming for help. I couldn't feel any pain but I could see his teeth sinking into my leg. I thought I was going to die. I could only see about four centimetres of the top of my leg and the rest was in the croc's gob."

Well, clearly she survived, since we have that quote, but how did she survive? (The saltwater crocodile was 3 meters long.) Her friend on the shore — Al Sartori — went in:
"I jumped into the water and on to its back and stuck my thumbs into its eyes until I felt it start to slacken off.... I picked up the croc and chucked it back into the water and it came back at me. It was pretty heavy."
Great heroism by Satori! A euonym? "Satori is considered a 'first step' or embarkation toward nirvana."
The student's mind must be prepared by rigorous study, with the use of koans, and the practice of meditation to concentrate the mind, under the guidance of a teacher.... Chinese Zen master Wumen Hui-k'ai (無門慧開)... struggled for six years with koan "Zhaozhou’s dog"...
The koan is: "Does a dog have Buddha nature or not?" Does a crocodile?

Wumen, having understood the koan wrote this poem:
A thunderclap under the clear blue sky
All beings on earth open their eyes;
Everything under heaven bows together;
Mount Sumeru leaps up and dances.
I know a poem about a crocodile:
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

DeMint quits.

He'd already said he wasn't running for reelection, but his term wasn't up until 2017.
“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight. I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas....”
Which implicitly says something about the Senate and the future of the GOP (and the tea party within it).

"I want to become a doctor... because I want to save people."

"And when I do, I won't take any money from them."


It might work.

Man shoots his girlfriend in an argument about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse.

"He felt very adamant there could be a military mishap that would result in some sort of virus being released that could cause terrible things to happen," said the cop. “She felt it was ridiculous. He’s passionate about it. And it escalated from there."

"The Lakers have just pooped their big-boy pants..."

"Why did America change its mind about legal marijuana?"

Asks the Christian Science Monitor, reacting to the Quinnipiac Poll — which we were talking about yesterday. Our discussion focused on the gender difference, which the CSM doesn't mention. It just says 51% of Americans support legalization, when in fact, as I highlighted "Men support legalization by a much wider margin, 59-36%, and women oppose it, 52-44%." You can get some different insights into why "America change[d] its mind" if you know the gender profile of that "mind."

But the CSM, gender-blind, speculates thusly:
The dramatic change in public opinion, experts say, has been driven by pop culture and generational shifts, and also a simple reality. While pot is illegal, it is common at parties and concerts....

"With the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes legal in about 20 states, and Washington and Colorado voting this November to legalize the drug for recreational use, American voters seem to have a more favorable opinion about this once-dreaded drug," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, told CBS News. "There are large differences on this question among the American people."

Though boosted by successes in Colorado and Washington, pro-marijuana advocates say their toughest challenge is convincing Congress and President Obama to declassify pot as a Schedule 1 drug – or at least to ensure that Congress doesn't interfere with state experimentation on marijuana taxation. After all, Mr. Obama allowed his Justice Department to begin a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries despite a campaign promise to not do so....
There's one more step needed in this analysis, and it's why I changed my mind. There's too much legal disorder, and it can only be decently cured by changing the federal law. Years ago, the states all agreed with the federal government's ban and helped out with the enforcement. But the states had the power to go their own way, and now that some have, there's a huge enforcement gap, which makes at least some people in those states feel that marijuana is legal. This is confusing to the point of unfairness.

I don't like the federal government lurking in the background and sending mixed signals about whether it will or will not enforce. Those who aren't too risk averse or who are not big rule-followers get to use a product that more timorous or punctilious individuals feel they're not allowed to use. And the medical marijuana approach makes it even worse, creating absurd temptations to lie and dissemble and even fantasize about ailments and the curative effect of the drug.

It's a mess that can only cleaned up by legalizing the drug at the federal level and letting the states take over the lawmaking and law enforcement.

"It's broadly accepted by those who have known them, an outdoor dog indoors lives a rich imaginative life."

"Some do. Special dogs do. Handlers and owners respond to these special animals automatically without even realizing sometimes exactly the nobility they're close to. They give them names of authority, kings, philosophers, warriors and such, people of note, even gods. The dogs do quietly exercise their unique magical talents when time allows and calm prevails and there are no noisy people around pestering their singular canid repose."

Says Chip Ahoy, appropriating yesterday's photograph of our borrowed god-dog Zeus:

(Here's the "God Dog" music to play in the background.)

Do you even know what the "fiscal cliff" is?

"I'm a 21-year-old female who is becoming increasingly fearful of aging."

"Since I was 18, I've tended to date men who were in their mid-20s to 30s which I figured that was about my attraction to the intelligence and maturity that comes with age. But I'm starting to realize that a large factor in my choice of mates is that I enjoy being cherished for my youth. I'm terrified of losing what I see as my most desirable trait. I am surrounded by beautiful women who are decades older than I am. But in my mind, youth precedes even physical attractiveness when it comes to sexual desirability. This sentiment has been echoed by the men I've dated. I've started exercising and using anti-aging skin products, but is there anything I can do to ease my apprehension?"

A letter to Dear Prudence.

Why didn't those Hollywood lefties pick "2016: Obama's America" for the documentary Oscars?

Here's some ripe PR. Dinesh D'Souza put out the bait and Slate took it:
A total of 126 documentaries were eligible for an Academy Award this year, and a selection committee recently narrowed those down to 15 hopefuls for five nominations. Dozens were snubbed, but the producers of 2016: Obama's America say their film's exclusion is evidence of something more sinister.

The anti-Obama film directed by Dinesh D'Souza was roundly panned by critics, though it rode word of mouth to a $33 million gross. D'Souza said the film's success would have resulted in a nomination if it weren't for Hollywood's bias. "Liberal political ideology, not excellence, is the true standard of what receives awards," he said.
Obviously, there's no reason why D'Souza's movie — even if it was popular — should be a finalist instead of those other movies — which we know little or nothing about, but which the selection committee supposedly watched and judged according to a set of principles about what makes a movie Oscar-worthy. Big box office is never the key to winning an Oscar, and in the documentary category, there are some traditional standards that skew toward more neutral, historical/scientific presentations.

I'm sure D'Souza knows all this. It was savvy of him to leverage the occasion to get attention for his film, and I suspect Slate knows that. Slate will get attention for debunking D'Souza, even as it give him the publicity he wants. Everybody wins.

ADDED: You can, of course, purchase the movie, but if I were recommending documentaries that weren't nominated for Oscars, I'd have plenty of others ahead of that. ""Grey Gardens" and "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control" to begin with.

December 5, 2012

Finding surreal Google street views...

... and presenting them as your own art. 

It is (or is like) the old tradition of found art.

"Kate Middleton's pregnancy: 10 stories I don't want to read."

Aw, come on. We're not supposed to amuse ourselves with the reproduction of the royals?

"Congress Holds An Anti-Vaccination Hearing."

"Congressman Dan Burton... rehash[ed] a series of some of the most thoroughly discredited anti-vaccine positions of the past decade."
In a classic political move, the committee called on scientists Alan Guttmacher from the NIH and Colleen Boyle from the CDC to testify, but in fact the committee just wanted to bully the scientists.  Committee members lectured the scientists, throwing out bad science claims, often disguised as questions, thick and fast....

Quinnipiac poll: Americans favor legalization of marijuana, 54-44%.

Men support legalization by a much wider margin, 59-36%, and women oppose it, 52-44%.

Care to speculate on what that gender difference is about?

ADDED: Instapundit: "Is it just that men are more libertarian, and women more controlling?"

AND: Why I changed my mind.

"President Obama is 'genuinely conflicted' about whether to nominate his favored candidate, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, or Sen. John Kerry as his next secretary of State..."

Why are we being told this?
Despite harsh criticism of Rice from Republicans, Obama is leaning hard toward her because she’s been one of his closest advisers since 2007, and “she and the president are on exactly the same page on all foreign-policy issues,” said an Obama team official who is privy to the transition discussions. “She represents Obama’s foreign policy in a way that Kerry doesn’t, in other words a new way of being a Democrat on foreign policy.” It was a reference to Obama’s carefully cultivated self-image as a tough commander in chief willing to apply diplomatic leverage to get what he wants and use power aggressively, especially covertly.

In addition, Obama is developing an ambitious foreign-policy agenda for the second term, including nuclear nonproliferation, and “it would be clear to foreign leaders that when Susan Rice is speaking she’s speaking for the president,” the official said. At the same time “he really respects John Kerry, who did an amazing job on debate prep. He respects Sen. Kerry as a leading figure in our party,” said this official, who like others spoke only on condition of anonymity about transition deliberations. Both this official and a senior administration official used the same words in describing the president as “genuinely conflicted” over the choice, which could come as early as next week.
That doesn't sound "genuinely conflicted," so the question is why does he want to be seen as "genuinely conflicted"?

Dave Brubeck has died.

He was 91.

Take eternity.

ADDED: I changed the link to a much better obituary (at BBC), which says that "Take Five" is the best-selling jazz single of all time. He composed many jazz pieces, but "Take Five" wasn't one of them. Also, his mother was a piano-player and she tutored him when he was a child, living on the family's cattle ranch. In 2007, he said:
"When you start out with goals - mine were to play polytonally and polyrhythmically - you never exhaust that... I started doing that in the 1940s. It's still a challenge to discover what can be done with just those two elements."

"A federal court in Indiana has rejected atheists’ requests to preside at wedding ceremonies..."

"... saying only clergy or public officials are licensed to solemnize marriages."
A lawsuit filed by the Indiana chapter of the Center for Inquiry argued that an Indiana law that requires marriages to be “solemnized” — made official by signing a marriage license — only by clergy, judges, mayors or local government clerks — violates the Constitution.
If you don't want a religious officiant, you're forced to use a government official. In Indiana.

May I suggest Colorado, where you can be your own officiant?

Russian children find a lion cub on the steppe and bring it to school.

"While waiting for police, children petted and played with the cub, named Barsik. One boy even tried to ride it like a horse while it mewled and swiped at the air."

"Some men were here to learn, and it's not a simple binary, not all of us are men or women."

2 reasons given for why it was wrong to kick all the men out of the discussion session at the London Feminist Film Festival after the screening of Myriam Fougère's "Lesbiana – A Parallel Revolution." The exclusion was at the demand of anti-porn activist and academic Julia Long who asserts that it's "politically disastrous" to have men at feminist events.

Here's a trailer for the film, which is about lesbian separatism in the 1980s. It's interesting to look back to the time before what is now the strongly enforced belief in the proposition that homosexuality is inborn and biological. The 80s ideology entailed political ideas, fighting the patriarchy, and conscious choice, but the film leans heavily on interviews with people today, and there's a temptation — you see it in the trailer — to imposed today's template on the story. Listen to the woman who begins speaking at 0:58 ("I'd like to claim it was my feminist politics, but it was not...").


... edge avoidance.

"Palin Rejects 'Seventh Python' Claim in Court Case."

That's Michael Palin... testifying in a case about whether the producer of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" deserves a share of the profits from "Spamalot," the Broadway show based on the movie.
Of [Mark] Forstater, Palin said: "He was not the creator of the film. The film had been created by the Python team entirely. Mark was not part of our team."...

[Eric] Idle and [Terry] Jones, who sat at the back of the small, modern courtroom in central London, occasionally chuckled at what was being said, but mostly Idle had his eyes closed and Jones could not resist a yawn.
How do you know he couldn't resist?

Sperm decline...

... in France.
Prof Richard Sharpe, from the University of Edinburgh, said: "Something in our modern lifestyle, diet or environment like chemical exposure, is causing this.

"We still do not know which are the most important factors, but perhaps the most likely is a combination, a double whammy of changes, such as a high-fat diet combined with increased environmental chemical exposures."
I love the way it's the usual suspects — things you're supposed to want to fix anyway, and here's one more reason why. How about considering the possibility of some causes that would be uncomfortable to admit, things you don't want to perceive as problems?

"Some of the people closest to Bret Bielema had absolutely no idea before the news broke on Tuesday afternoon..."

"... that the University of Wisconsin football coach was leaving for Arkansas. The news stunned not only Badgers fans but several people in Bielema’s inner circle" including UW athletic director Barry Alvarez (who'd picked Bielema as his successor).
Bielema will not coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl....

As recently as Friday — before the Badgers’ 70-31 win over Nebraska in the Big Ten Conference championship game — Bielema expressed his excitement for next year’s team....

As successful as Bielema has been, a portion of Badgers fans has never quite embraced him. He is viewed by some people as being brash, or even cocky. He was criticized at times last season for running up the score on opponents.
Running up the score! I have never understood that concept.
"Everyone bashes him for losing two Rose Bowls, but I don't think people appreciate how hard it is to get to two Rose Bowls."
Well, at least they won't be able to bash him for losing 3 Rose Bowls. But why didn't he wait until after the Rose Bowl was over to announce? Was it the plan to announce after the last game and the assumption was we'd lose to Nebraska? Or was he prompted by the desire not to get stuck with another Rose Bowl loss, because we are going to lose, aren't we?

Pre-dawn at Meadhouse.


Meade insisted on my taking this picture.

Is "the whole tea party movement... in a state of disarray"? The story of FreedomWorks and Dick Armey.

Armey (the chairman) just got an $8 million buyout after questioning Matt Kibbe (the president) over the deal Kibbe made for his book “Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America.”
Armey was concerned that Kibbe structured the deal to personally profit from the book despite relying on FreedomWorks staff and resources to research, help write and promote it — an arrangement he and others at the group believed could jeopardize its tax-exempt status. (In 2010, Kibbe and Armey co-authored a book through HarperCollins, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto,” that was written with significant help from FreedomWorks staff and all proceeds had gone to the organization.)
So Armey declined to sign a memorandum presented to him in his capacity as a member of the board of trustees stating that the book was written without significant FreedomWorks resources and clearing the way for Kibbe to personally own the rights to the book and any royalties from it...
Armey says he was being asked to lie "and it was a lie that I thought brought the organization in harm’s way."

To what extent does FreedomWorks = the tea party? Where did all that money come from?
The eight-year-old group has seen its influence and membership skyrocket since affiliating with the anti-establishment tea party. Its fundraising nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010 (the most recent year for which it would provide tax filings to POLITICO), when it raised $13.7 million, according to those filings with the IRS and the FEC, and played major roles in boosting tea partiers to upset GOP primary victories over establishment favorites.
If you gave them money, how do you like $8 million of it going to Armey because Armey didn't want to lie about Kibbe's supposed tapping of the organization's resources? Maybe Armey was sad that the book he co-authored with Kibbe didn't have an equivalent benefit.
“I wrote this book and it is my property,” [Kibbe] said, adding that he wrote the 416-page book entirely “on my Christmas vacation” last year. Indeed, in the book’s acknowledgements, he thanked his wife, Terry, for letting him “work through the Christmas holiday to meet overly ambitious deadlines without sacrificing the demands of my day job.”
How long is a "Christmas vacation"? Let's be generous and say 2 weeks. He only had to write 30 pages a day. Ever seen anybody write 30 pages a day?
[M]ultiple sources who worked with FreedomWorks and had knowledge of the situation said that several staffers were asked to help research and write the book as part of their work duties. The sources contend that FreedomWorks staff time and resources spent promoting the book detracted from the organization’s ability to mobilize conservative activists ahead of the election...

“The fear is the organization will become a 5 million-member marketing organization that simply sells books and movies and T-shirts and raises money,” one source said. “And that’s not what the organization used to do,” said the source, who predicted more controversy around the organization. “It’s going to get nasty.”
Armey's deal for the $8 million entailed an agreement not to leave until after the election, and Armey himself admits that, saying he was concerned the media would write "that the whole tea party movement was in a state of disarray."

"In America all cornbread is in the shape of corn, that's how you can tell if it's real. "

So saith Chip Ahoy, who tells a very old joke about learning numbers and gives a recipe bereft of numbers.

And Chip wants me to tell you that "you can get your hands on one of those pans that makes cornbread in the shape of corn... through the Althouse-Amazon portal where you'll find several styles to choose from. He's right. There's this, this, and this extra-fancy one.

December 4, 2012

"Cap City Path with Althouse in 10 minutes."

Meade has another go at editing me biking the Capital City Trail — today, over the lunch hour:

There's sound on this one, but no music track. Meade suggests you play this in the background.

Feel free to treat this post as an open thread and talk about anything you want. And if you've got any shopping to do, please use the Althouse portal into Amazon.

ADDED: Here's the GoPro camera Meade had strapped to his helmet.

"Ashton Kutcher has better lighting, is directly facing the camera, and appears to have a cabinet and computer on his desk."

"Steve Jobs wore a metallic watch (unlike Kutcher’s black watch), sat on a wooden table, and had an artificial apple obstructing the view of his THINK poster."

"Photo of Man’s Imminent Demise Covers Front Page of the New York Post, Sparks Outrage."

"Abbasi claims that he was using his camera's flash to warn the train's conductor, possibly suggesting that the photos were incidental. The Post further defends Abbasi, saying he wasn't strong enough to lift Han off the tracks."

Have we lost our soul?

Bob Costas struggles to find a proper place for himself.

He made a "mistake"... blah blah... no! He said something out of line with the beliefs of the people who watch TV football and thereby offended management. Here's some of the icky blather that leaked out:
“There are reasonable disagreements, and I respect that. But then there are things that come from every angle, where you just have to say to yourself ‘sometimes the quality of the thinking of those who oppose you speaks for itself.’ I was told — I didn’t see it — that someone compared this as a fire-able offense to situations in which people have made blatantly racist comments, or comments that had no place whatsoever....” 
Wow. Some pressure was exerted. Come on. It was bad, but it wasn't that bad.

"The woman who was listed as the world’s oldest person has died in a Georgia nursing home at age 116."

Besse Cooper.

What's going on here? The oldest person in the world... only 116? What is this ceiling about? Why can't we break through? No one in the whole world busting through 120? It's so... real.

At the Good Dog Café...


... things are just perfect.

"Federal District Judge Enjoins California's Law Prohibiting Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy."

Senior District Judge William Shubb wrote that "a mental health provider’s pursuit of SOCE is guided by the provider’s or patient’s views of homosexuality, [so] it is difficult, if not impossible, to view the conduct of performing SOCE as anything but integrally intertwined with viewpoints, messages, and expression about homosexuality."

Free speech, an American tradition, inconvenient, as ever, to lawmakers who think they know better than the people who insist on talking about things.

"Well, I guess I shouldn’t call politicians names, so I apologize for calling the wobbly ones wusses."

Sarah Palin apologizes.

"Tomorrow I’ll be on the S__ line departing at such and such a time, in car number X. Please fondle me."

Investigative journalism from Japan.

"Saudi school books feature women’s photos for the first time."

"Although the women appearing in photos in the books are veiled, the step is still regarded as a major change since only drawings of women were permitted in school books before."
An English book, part of the third year of high school, contains a picture of a nurse wearing a headscarf and a medical mask while preparing an injection. The exercise accompanying the photo asks students to discuss the changes in the percentage of men and women in traditional occupations.

There is also a photo of a girl standing in a lab. The woman was apparently not veiled in the original picture and an additional part was added in the school book to cover her face.
STEM careers for women... we still struggle with that in the U.S. (where there are plenty of photos of women).

Swimming twins.

9 months old.

"The military judge supervising the trial of accused Ft. Hood shooter Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was removed from the case Monday..."

"... with the military's highest appeals court ruling that his 'duel of wills' with Hasan over the defendant's beard gave the appearance of bias."
"Although the military judge here stated that [Hasan's] beard was a 'disruption,' there was insufficient evidence on this record to demonstrate that [Hasan's] beard materially interfered with the proceedings," the unsigned ruling said.

"Taken together.... the decision to remove [Hasan] from the courtroom, the contempt citations and the decision to order [Hasan's] forcible shaving in the absence of any command action to do the same could leave an objective observer to conclude that the military judge was not impartial."

The appeals court did not specifically rule on Hasan's claim that his beard was protected under freedom of religion.

"Jerky 'sex scion' cops to Central Park lewdness."

Hard to read headline. You have to figure out that "cops" is a verb.

(I think this is what they mean by "crash blossoms" over at Language Log.)

"A blogger who urged readers to 'take up arms' against Connecticut officials..."

"... is suing state government leaders for $50 million after being acquitted of threatening and inciting violence charges."
Harold "Hal" Turner of North Bergen, NJ... was arrested after a June 2009 blog posting suggesting Connecticut officials "obey the Constitution or die" and urging readers to "take up arms."

"They detained me in a room... They kept beating me hard... After five days, they gave me an injection and I slept... When I woke up my hand was not there."

When Ansar al-Sharia ruled Yemen's Abyan province.

"Jovan Belcher’s grieving teammates on the Kansas City Chiefs refused to blame guns for his horrifying murder-suicide."

So begins an article at The Daily News. Interesting construction "his... murder-suicide." Normally, when you say "his murder," the possessive pronoun refers to the murder victim, not the murder." "[H]is horrifying murder-suicide" seems to strain to hide Belcher's agency in killing 2 human beings. One senses that The Daily News would like to do the very thing the teammates aren't doing: blame the guns.
"If you have daughters, you should (have a gun),” Chiefs defensive lineman Shaun Smith said Monday. “You have to protect yourself. You work so hard to get to where you at, I'll be damned if I’ll just let someone take it from me.”
If you acquire wealth, you become a theft target!
Linebacker Brandon Siler, who had Thanksgiving dinner with Belcher, also had no problems with guns.

“Well, a majority of people own one, especially in the places where they're legal. Most of the time they're for self defense or sport,” he said.
Speaking of self-defense and looking at the picture at the link, showing the huge size difference between Belcher and the woman he killed, even if your concern is domestic violence, why would you blame guns? There are any number of ways he could have killed her. A gun would have been the one way she could have defended herself.

And, by the way, I'm not swallowing the story that Belcher traveled from the murder scene — his home — to the football facility for the purpose of thanking his employers for giving him "a chance" in life. That's management's story, and it works as PR. It essentially requests that we sympathize with the murderer. I invite you into a thought experiment: Why else might Belcher have relocated?

With a theory of my own, I asked Meade that question yesterday, and he said something that hadn't occurred to me. Belcher shot his Kasandra Perkins in front of his mother. He had an audience. And he sought out an audience —  head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli — for the suicide. He chose spectators for his self-killing. Having horrified his mother, he went for new spectator-victims, individuals most likely to suffer to see him die. If he thanked them, he was saying you've invested your work and your trust in me and now watch me destroy that.

My theory was different. After the murder, Belcher thought: What do I do now? How can I get out of this? He went to management in the hope that they could bail him out somehow. He was in a terrible jam. Come on, enfold me, protect me. You've got all those ingenious defensive plays on the field, do something for me now. Protect your investment in me. You've done so much for me already. You've given me a chance in life, and a chance is what I really need now. You pulled me up out of nothing. If anyone can help me now it's you.

"We always think that there is going to be a facial identity crisis. That’s the worry of people with normal faces."

"We think how we’d feel if this happened to us... But for people with disfigurements — these people have lived lives concealed from society. That’s a very different and difficult recovery."

"What will go away, albeit slowly, is the image or the perception of the befuddled dad."

Because "Kids are going to grow up with dads that give them baths and drive them to soccer and are cutting up oranges for team snacks." That is, the marketing made men look dumb because women were making the toy-buying decisions, so look for toy design/packaging/ads that appeal to the male ego.

This is supposed to be an example of the new trend:

Can you see why?

(Whatever you guys and ladies are buying for little girls and boys this year, if you use Amazon and enter through the Althouse portal — here — you will be supporting this blog without paying any extra for your selections.)

"Every Bond Girl, with followup recent photos."

A chart. 

Strangely, the first was always — and remains! — the most beautiful. 

"Mindful of the status quo election and past exchanges on these questions..."

"... we recognize it would be counterproductive to publicly or privately propose entitlement reforms that you and the leaders of your party appear unwilling to support in the near term...."

"What I Hear You Saying Is..."

#5 of 15 Phrases That Build Bridges Between People.

I'd like to write a screenplay with a comically unlikeable character who continually used all 15 of these phrases.

December 3, 2012

"We have 54 trees in the White House... 54! That’s a lot of trees."

Said Michelle Obama, decorously refraining from calling them Christmas trees. We, the taxpayers, paid for them, whether they symbolize anything religious or not. We're also paying various costs associated with the First Family's trip to Hawaii from December 17 to January 6.

54 Christmas trees and they're leaving town a week before Christmas?!

How many followers does the Pope have?

184,908, at the moment. But he's a newby on Twitter and hasn't even tweeted yet.

Oh, now 185,914. Impressive. Climbing. Ascending!

I see he's "following" 7, but it turns out all 7 are himself, in various different languages.

I went there via Twitchy, which says: "Shameful: Pope Benedict XVI joins Twitter, vile hate starts before his first tweet."
The great thing about Ratzinger's twitter is that we can finally report the Pope for abuse. Abuse of boys, human rights & twitter @Pontifex

Ridiculous WaPo headline + photo combination.

"A detached Romney tends wounds in seclusion after failed White House bid"?

He doesn't look detached or wounded and he's obviously not in seclusion while riding a roller coaster. The text emotes:
Gone are the minute-by-minute schedules and the swarm of Secret Service agents. There’s no aide to make his peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches. Romney hangs around the house, sometimes alone, pecking away at his iPad and e-mailing his CEO buddies who have been swooping in and out of La Jolla to visit. He wrote to one who’s having a liver transplant soon: “I’ll change your bedpan, take you back and forth to treatment.”
The media never got Romney, did they? WaPo is presenting "I’ll change your bedpan" as abject and pathetic. Are they only pretending not to understand or does it truly escape them?

New light.

Invented by David Carroll, professor of physics at Wake Forest University:
He says the new plastic lighting source can be made into any shape, and it produces a better quality of light than compact fluorescent bulbs which have become very popular in recent years.

"They have a bluish, harsh tint to them," he told BBC News, "it is not really accommodating to the human eye; people complain of headaches and the reason is the spectral content of that light doesn't match the Sun - our device can match the solar spectrum perfectly. I'm saying we are brighter than one of these curly cube bulbs and I can give you any tint to that white light that you want."
Curly cube? I'm guessing the BBC didn't hear that right and they don't say curlicue in Britain.

"The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby..."

"... St James's Palace has announced."

"How can gender be 100% nurture and sexuality be 100% nature?"

The question of the day, pithily articulated.

Used toilet purportedly clean.

Email from the neighborhood listserve:
Our new neighbors across the street replaced their toilets.
They have a fully functional Mayfair toilet for anyone who is interested.
It is very clean, since it was transported in their vehicle!

If you are interested please contact...

"Again, no gay marriage orders."

"The Supreme Court on Monday released additional orders from its Friday Conference, but the list did not include any action on the ten cases dealing with the same-sex marriage issue. It now appears that those cases will be rescheduled for the Conference this Friday morning."

10 cases. They've got to resolve this, no?

The National Geographic Photo Contest...

... 33 entries here... each seemingly better than one before.

AND: Now are the foxes.

"We leaf through Bryan's drug sketchbook."

"The drawings are beautiful and compelling."
"That's lighter fluid," he says. "I used metallic crayons to give it that lighter fluid feeling. That's computer duster. If you don't do it right, it can freeze and shatter your teeth. That's crystal meth. That painting's probably the seventh or eighth on the same piece of paper, because I kept doing it over and over again. I couldn't stop. That's marijuana…"
If you don't do it right, it can freeze and shatter your teeth. Holy lord.

Anyway... here are the drawings, self-portraits done on drugs.

For comparison: Here's a series of portraits done in the course of a U.S. government experiment with LSD (back in the 1950s). 85 minutes into it, the artist was all "'I can see you clearly, so clearly. This... you... it's all ... I'm having a little trouble controlling this pencil. It seems to want to keep going.

I got to that last link via "3 Myths And 8 True Stories About LSD." Apparently, "The US Government Gave Artists LSD To See How It Would Affect Their Work."

"A newly released study finds that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are disappearing three times faster than they were two decades ago..."

"... the latest evidence supporting the existence of global warming."

Hedonic adaptation.

"It’s cruel but true:"
We’re inclined — psychologically and physiologically — to take positive experiences for granted. We move into a beautiful loft. Marry a wonderful partner. Earn our way to the top of our profession. How thrilling! For a time. Then, as if propelled by autonomic forces, our expectations change, multiply or expand and, as they do, we begin to take the new, improved circumstances for granted.
Understanding that might help you avoid making life's worst mistakes — like devaluing your marriage/throwing it away.

"Would you send your kid to a school where faceless dolls and pine-cones are the toys of choice?"

"A school where kids don't read proficiently until age 9 or 10 -- and where time spared goes to knitting and playing the recorder? A school where students sing hymns to 'spirit' every day?"

Want to hear Bob Costas scold America about our terrible, terrible guns?

Here's the video from last night's NBC football broadcast. 
Well, you knew it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again: Something like this really puts it all in perspective. Well, if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf-life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.
Here's my perspective: A man committed murder and then murdered himself. But no, the perspective we're supposed to achieve is about how it's the gun that did it. Costas proceeds to read from a column by sportswriter Jason Whitlock, which I recommend reading in full. Here are my — not Costas's — extracts from that column:
A 25-year-old kid gunned down his 22-year-old girlfriend in front of his mother and three-month-old child, and all he could think to do in the immediate aftermath is rush to thank his football coach and football employer....
Kid?  A 25-year-old kid? Why are we infantalizing the adults who play sports? A man committed a vicious murder. All he could think to do? As if he were mentally deficient! When I first read this, it struck me as racist, but now I see that Whitlock himself is black. Perhaps that allows him to feel free to talk about the dead murderer as if he were a child.
... Twenty-eight hours after one of their best friends killed the mother of his child and himself, Chiefs players will take the field and play a violent game.
Their best friend transformed himself into a dead murderer. They should grind their lives to a halt in his memory? A violent game? A man kills 2 human beings and they should respond by feeling squeamish about the violence of the sport? They should equate play violence to real violence? No. I'd say it's an occasion for drawing a sharp line between a game — a game with rules, played voluntarily — and the most evil transgression.
You may argue that we all grieve differently. You may argue that playing the game is the best way to move on and heal....
Heal? Grieve? It was murder. Displays of sympathy for the murderer are inappropriate. To play the game was to deny the murderer any more power than he seized for himself. Put him at a distance. He is not you. 
I would argue that your rationalizations speak to how numb we are in this society to gun violence and murder. We’ve come to accept our insanity. We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it.
We're numb unless we react to one man's transgressions by relinquishing our attachment to traditional liberty? What other constitutional rights should we give up to prove our sensitivity to a transgressor's act of violence? Throw out free speech, because look at those riots over there? Freedom from search and seizure — that can't be worth it, now, numbsters, can it?
That is the message I wish Chiefs players, professional athletes and all of us would focus on Sunday and moving forward. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.

But we won’t. We’ll watch Sunday’s game and comfort ourselves with the false belief we’re incapable of the wickedness that exploded inside Jovan Belcher Saturday morning.
Belcher was a murderer, responsible for what he did. To say otherwise is infantalizing, dehumanizing. There's not some outside force "wickedness" — unless you believe in The Devil! — that possesses a man and "explodes." How do you know that one day, that might not happen to you? In Whitlock's view, we're blind and complacent if we don't see that potential. We might just go nuts one day and if there are any weapons around, that random explosion will lead to death. Better ban the guns.

Prof. Bainbridge rails against the "a left-liberal political agenda" of law school clinics.

He's on the appointments committee at his school and says "most of the clinical professors whose work we have reviewed this semester have pursued a model of inculcating left-liberal political values in students and deploying those students to advance left-liberal political causes."

Only most? Not all? Who were the ones who didn't? What are the forces that cause the applicants for this type of legal academic work to lean left? The "regular" professors tend to lean left as well, so it's only a question of degree, but clinical lawprof work tends to pay a lot less and to involve less pleasurable tasks than classic lawprof work.

Bainbridge's law school is UCLA. Here's a list of their clinics, including some that don't seem too lefty, like the Business Deals Clinic and Mergers & Acquisitions. But, realistically, you can see why someone with expertise practicing law in business deals mergers & acquisitions — the kind that would impress a law school appointments committee — has an incentive to stay in practice and not to shift into clinical teaching. The standard lawprof job has its obvious rewards, but why clinical teaching?

The system is founded on the reward the accrues to those with the left-liberal political agenda that Bainbridge rails against. It's baked into the cake.

December 2, 2012

Riding the Capital City Trail.

It was amazing to be able to go on a 20+-mile bike ride on the 2d of December in Madison, Wisconsin, but we did it, and it was easy. About 50°. Meade had the GoPro HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition strapped to his helmet, and he edited the trip down to 15 minutes. It's a silent movie, so I recommend playing some music of your own. This is the trail we ride over and over throughout the year, and the video shows what it's like:

Great Hairdos of 2012.

Because it was a year of great hairdos, no?

"'White turkey chili': That's what President Obama served Mitt Romney for lunch."

"Was this really an intentional (ungracious, gloating, etc.) slap? I'm a paranoid — but it is the sort of thing the hard core politicos I've known would find funny...."

ADDED: Just before Thanksgiving, The Atlantic published this item: "Why Does the White House Always Pardon White Turkeys?"


... dressed as 2 dogs carrying a present.

"A color-coded map of the world’s most and least emotional countries."

Most emotional: The Philippines. Least emotional: Singapore.

Self-reporting, so I question whether they've really measured emotion. One question was: "Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?" Depends on the meaning of "a lot," the vividness of memories of "yesterday," whether you smile and laugh when you're feeling joyful, and so forth. But... whatever. It was  nice to see a color-coded map.

It made me smile.

"Marijuana... is still illegal under federal law. State officials say the Justice Department is creating confusion..."

"... by remaining silent about what steps it may take in Washington and Colorado, which passed initiatives in November legalizing the manufacturing, distribution and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana."
After his state approved the initiative, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) called Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and wrote him a letter asking for guidance about how the federal government will react to the state’s new law.

“We need to know whether the federal government will take legal action to block the implementation of Amendment 64, or whether it will seek to prosecute grow and retail operations,” Hickenlooper wrote. He also asked Holder if Justice will prosecute Colorado state employees who regulate and oversee the growing and distribution of marijuana.
What a mess!

"[N]ot only reading the collective oeuvre of the leading luminaries in Black, Women’s, Gender, Queer, Fat, and Chicano Studies..."

"... but also traveling America to attend their conferences."
At a gathering of the Cultural Studies Association at the University of California, Berkeley, for instance, Bawer encounters the young Michele, who’s “like, a grad student at UC Davis?” She’s “sort of reviving a Gramschian-style Marxism,” involving the idea that global warming is “sort of, like, a crisis, in the human relationship to nature?” Bawer claims that his heart goes out to her. (His heart is bigger than mine.)
From a review — via A&L Daily — of "The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind," by Bruce Bawer.

"Jeffrey has his own life, and he has chosen that life, but he knows that our hearts and home are always open to him."

"He knows that, he’s well aware of that."

"President Obama honors Rosa Parks anniversary with picture of himself."

Noooo! This is so bad, I'm embarrassed for him. I want to say he meant to honor Rosa Parks, and he was thinking of the people who would feel uplifted to see the President engaging in this... this... gesture. Obviously, somebody advising him thought this was a good idea. Maybe he just sat down and got all thoughtful and the photographer caught a moment in which he just happened to look like the famous picture of Rosa Parks.... Maybe.... I don't know. I feel embarrassed for him. But... it's a question of taste. He meant well. Some will find this touching. Look away if it troubles you...

"I am such an overprotective parent that if I knew my child might get bitten, I would not have even let my daughter do this."

"But I felt safe. Everyone just imagines dolphins as smiling, non-biting animals with knobby teeth. You forget these are wild animals."

Ugh. Human beings and their attitudes about dolphins. Everyone just imagines dolphins as smiling... No. Some people realize that's just the shape of their mouth. Meanwhile, a little 8-year-old girl is bitten because she impulsively does exactly what the kids are told not to do: moves the paper tray of fish. The dolphins are all just fine taking fish from kids, but when the paper tray is moved, a dolphin immediately jumps up to grab it, biting the child.

Whose fault is this? free polls