February 2, 2013

At the Black-and-White Cafe...

... you can be positive or negative.

(Animation of my photograph by Hazy Dave.)

ADDED: If the image doesn't show up for you — it does for me — it may have something to do with the form HD set the image. I don't know how to change that. Feel free to advise me. I'll put the image below the fold. I think I need to upload a GIF somehow, and I have no idea how to work with that. Maybe this is my cue that I need to learn how to do GIFs myself!

AND: This should work:

Why petting feels good.

"Researchers looked at this phenomenon in lab mice and found that stroking stimulates a very specific set of neurons that have to do with hair."
The results suggest that mammals may have evolved this propensity for caressing to encourage good hygiene through social grooming. It may also explain why certain hair-covered areas of the human body (think armpits, pubic hair) are more sensitive to touch or associated with pleasure.

"It kind of threw me off the first time I climbed down in there."

"He said, 'Climb down in there and holler, see if we can hear you.' That was a little bit of a red flag."

"In discussions of the film 'Groundhog Day' on this blog, I’ve noticed a couple of people questioning..."

"... why the Bill Murray character would find Andie McDowell’s Rita deserving of all those years of his devotion and energy. For example, '…[W]hat, exactly, made the lovely but, let’s face it, vapid Rita worthy of Phil’s centuries of effort?'"

Was it centuries? I haven't seen that movie since it came out. I didn't remember the extent of the time frame. I can't picture myself in the mood — ever — to rewatch that one, but I do have a special affinity for stories and, especially, humor that has to do with extravagant comparisons or variations in size. So, here, that would be what appears to be a day is reframed as a century. The single funniest thing I ever heard in my life was: I was cutting someone's hair and I noticed a bright red dot on his scalp. I said: "What's this red dot?" And he said: "That's my Santa Claus hat."

I wish I'd made a tag for this concept long ago, because it would have collected a lot of different things that are impossible to put together retrospectively. It's not like, for example, deciding after 9 years of blogging that I ought to have an Andie McDowell tag. I could easily do a search. Also, that tag could only have one possible name. This other tag... what would I call it? Size? That size thing I like? Size-osity? Big and small? I have a "light and shade" tag, so I think I'd do big and small. Too late now. But not a century too late. Only 9 years. Oh, what the hell. I'll start now.

That reminds me: Have you ever seen this? It's the best graphic representation of all time (and all space).

"I feel like the taser and the camera are the two most effective tools that I have. Do what you're supposed to do or you get what's coming to you."

Mall cop becomes YouTube sensation.

"When the British evacuated New York City in 1783, they took many Loyalist refugees to Nova Scotia..."

"... while other Loyalists went to southwestern Quebec. So many Loyalists arrived on the shores of the St. John River that a separate colony — New Brunswick — was created in 1784..."
... followed in 1791 by the division of Quebec into the largely French-speaking Lower Canada (French Canada) along the St. Lawrence River and Gaspé Peninsula and an anglophone Loyalist Upper Canada, with its capital settled by 1796 in York, in present-day Toronto. After 1790 most of the new settlers were American farmers searching for new lands; although generally favorable to republicanism, they were relatively non-political and stayed neutral in the War of 1812....

"[English Canada] inherited, not the benefits, but the bitterness of the Revolution. It got no shining scriptures out of it. It got little release of energy and no new horizons of the spirit were opened up. It had been a calamity, pure and simple. And to take the place of the internal fire that was urging Americans westward across the continent there was only melancholy contemplation of things as they might have been and dingy reflection of that ineffably glorious world across the stormy Atlantic. English Canada started its life with as powerful a nostalgic shove backward into the past as the Conquest had given to French Canada: two little peoples officially devoted to counter-revolution, to lost causes, to the tawdry ideals of a society of men and masters, not to the self-reliant freedom alongside of them."
Today's "History of" country is Canada.

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.

Here's a case the Supreme Court accepted for review last month that's about a father who gave up his parental rights via text message:

Now, both male and female Marines will need to do 3 "dead hang" pull-ups.

Until now — with the decision to include women in combat unites — women only needed to hold a "flexed arm hang" for 15 seconds.
But... [t]o get a perfect grade, women will have to do only 8, compared with the 20 required for men.

“I don’t think it’s a very high bar,” said Capt. Ann G. Fox, a Marine Reserve officer who during her first deployment in 2004 worked with the Iraqi Army and who thinks women could do better if it was required of them. “I think the test should be the same as the men 20 pull-ups. People train to what they’re tested on."

Obama, skeet-shooting last August.

The photographic evidence — responding to skepticism — uploaded at the presidential Flickr page today:


IN THE COMMENTS: mccullough said: "Cool picture. I want a poster of it to put next to my poster of Nixon bowling."

ADDED: White House coins the term "skeeters" to make fun of people don't believe Obama goes skeet shooting all the time at Camp David.

At the Cabin-Fever Café...


... we finally got the snow that reopened the ski trails, but it's 4.6 °F — "Feels Like -11 °F" — here in Madison, and that's beyond the point where you can say to yourself be tough, be strong. Not for mere recreation or the general principle of getting out of the house.

Within this shut-in-ism, let me offer another exam in my capacity as Freewheeling Lawprof of the Internet. Open the door to the exam room carefully....

The last exam was in media bias, and some excellent answers were turned in there. This is a difficult assignment for a class in Creative Misinterpretation. You've got to get up to speed with the "Gatsby" project sentences. I think there are about 30 or so of them by now. If you've been following along,  you have your favorite phrases — "leaking isolated and unpunctual tears," "contiguous to absolutely nothing," "a puddle of water glaring tragically," "I suppose it is the latest thing to sit back and...," "stirred the gray haze," "warm human magic,""mashed potatoes and coffee," "hot whips of panic," "the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling," "shadows... rouged and powdered,"  the "continually smouldering" nerves under the "spotted dress," the "crowded hams," cooking things through bewitchery, "suck on the pap of life," "tortuously, fashionably," "the real snow, our snow," nibbling "at the edge of stale ideas," "a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden," and — of course — running out of a room calling "Ewing!" and returning with "an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair."

Either you've been following along or you haven't. If you haven't, you could try to catch up, or you might want to run right out of the room, in which case, just humor me by calling "Ewing!" as you go.

Now, what happened yesterday was that I toyed with the idea, suggested by Original Commenter Genius Palladian, that we should abandon "Gatsby" and switch to "Paradise Lost." I only veered into that because the "Gatsby" sentence included "rivulets," and I looked up "rivulet" in the OED and saw a quote from "Paradise Lost." I found the entire "rivulet" sentence — 18 lines! — and reprinted it in the post, and that led Upstart Commenter Genius betamax3000 to riff in a strange manner:
"The tears coursed down her cheeks — not freely, however, for when they came into contact with her heavily bedded buttocks they assumed an inky color. She went out of the room calling 'Ewing!' and returned in a few minutes accompanied by an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair. Tears coursed down his cheeks, too, an indefinite procession of cheeks, that rouged and powdered on an invisible ass...."
It goes on, collecting and repurposing sentence fragments from past posts (into which we are borne back ceaselessly).  That gave me the idea for a new exam. You can decide if you want to compete at the basic or the advanced level. At the basic level, you need only combine fragments from the "Gatsby" project sentences in any way that you think might amuse us.

If you would like to compete at the advanced level, I'm a little worried. You'll have to be very tough. At this altitude, it's 4.6 °F and feels like -11 °F. You have to take the 18 lines of "Paradise Lost" and redo them using the fragments from "Gatsby" project sentences. You know, Gatsby is the snake, trying to get Daisy alone. Daisy is futzing with the drooping flour/flower stalks.  The Garden of Eden becomes the "Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden."

Time limit: You have until the temperature hits 32° in Madison. Answers may be submitted in the comments. Grades will be arbitrary or nonexistent or the incomparable milk of wonder.

"Perhaps we could design 'love drugs,' pharmaceutical cocktails that could boost affection between partners..."

"... whisking them back to the exquisite set of pleasures that colored their first years together. The ability to do this kind of fine-tuned emotional engineering is beyond the power of current science, but there is a growing field of research devoted to it. Some have even suggested developing 'anti-love drugs' that could dissolve abusive relationships, or reduce someone's attachment to a charismatic cult leader. Others just want a pill to ease the pain of a wrenching breakup."

What's to prevent your abusive-relationship person from committing further abuse by slipping the drug to his/her victim Oberon-style?
What thou seest when thou dost wake,
Do it for thy true-love take,
Love and languish for his sake:
Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
In thy eye that shall appear
When thou wakest, it is thy dear:
Wake when some vile thing is near.
IN THE COMMENTS: furious_a said:
Artificially aroused men pursuing artificially enhanced women under the influence of artificially induced emotions.

Who says "Romance is dead"?
Kevin said:
I wonder if they watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and are going forward in spite of, or are going forward because of.

"Am I going to die today? Just give me a percentage."

Senator Mark Kirk tells about his stroke. (The percentage the doctor gave him — in the ambulance — was 98% in favor of not dying.)
I was in my hospital bed when the waves came and I began to lose control of my body and mind. Unbelievable, I thought. I’m only 52. I didn’t even know anyone who’d had a stroke.

More than a week later, I regained a confused consciousness in the intensive care unit. I knew I was lying in a bed. I thought someone was sharing the bed with me, but it was my own leg. I vaguely remember a party the ICU staff had for the Super Bowl and the smell of the food they brought.
I regarded my left leg as a lifeless appendage. Mike kept insisting that it would bear weight. The moment I realized that it would, and that I could swing it from my hip and propel myself forward, was the breakthrough revelation of my rehabilitation.
IN THE COMMENTS: Someone snarks: "Show me when this paper has done a similar story for a Republican. *crickets*" — only to be told that Kirk is a Republican. I blogged this item without remembering Kirk's party affiliation or caring enough to check. But when the subject came up in the comments, I did check, went to Kirk's website, and saw his statement, released yesterday, rejecting Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense:
During yesterday's confirmation hearing, Senator Hagel instinctively called the Iranian government both elected and legitimate.  He initially offered strong support for containment of Iran, rather than President Obama's stated policy of preventing an Iranian nuclear breakout.  He could not clearly explain his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran – opposition as recent as 2008.  And at no time did he state his position on whether the European Union should formally designate Iran's terror proxy, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organization – a critical step to cut off the flow of funds to a group responsible for the murders of some 280 American citizens.
The statement is illustrated with the chilling photograph of "Neda Agha-Soltan who was killed during 2009 Iranian election protests."

Am I going to die today? Just give me a percentage.

There are 41 sinkholes in the Pennsylvania state capital Harrisburg and the city isn't fixing them.

Too broke. The city borrowed $300 million to upgrade a trash incinerator. Meanwhile, the pipes under the city are a disaster and the sewage plant is polluting the Susquehanna River.

One sinkhole is 50 feet across and 8 feet deep, and they've just put police barricades around it. To deal with the desperate decay, locals are using the old strategy of humor — naming it "Super Sinkhole Walter" and designating it as a sightseeing point of interest on the travel website Foursquare.

"To think that I would go on a national TV show and get away with continuing a lie so big... is ridiculous."

Says the "extremely remorseful" Matthew Farmer, who went on "American Idol" and told a story of military combat service replete with exploding IED, brain damage, and PTSD. In fact, though he was in the army, he never saw combat.
Soldiers who served with Farmer claim that Farmer's injury came from mixing Accutane, a prescription medication for acne, and alcohol.

Farmer denies allegations that he was sent home for unauthorized use of medicine. He blames the producers of "American Idol" for distorting his story through editing.

The contestant, who sang Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" for the judging panel, blames "Idol" for focusing on his war stories rather than on his little girl, who accompanied him to the audition.

Farmer accuses the editors of "chopping up" parts of his interview and focusing unduly on his story of being medically evacuated from Iraq.
He meant to exploit the child, not the military service. Watch the clip at the link. The poor child looks exceedingly displeased with her father, as if she knows he's shaming himself, lying.

On the death of Barney the dog, George Bush reveals a portrait he painted of his "faithful friend."

"Barney was by my side during our eight years in the White House... He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend. Laura and I will miss our pal."

I like the "43" signature. Did you know the Bush had taken up oil painting? I'd missed the snarky notes about it last summer, like this from ArtFagCity:

This is all the information we have: at a hospital fundraiser in Memphis Monday night, former President George W. Bush mentioned his new hobby, oil painting. He told the crowd he’s “kinda stuck” to painting dogs. Tragically, there are no pictures. [The Daily Beast] Relatedly, we’ll totally pay you if you find pictures of George W. Bush’s dog paintings.
I guess Bush knew his dog was dying — it was 12 years old and had lymphoma — and he intended to show his first artwork when the time came to announce the dog's death.

And then there was this, last October: "George W. Bush Painting Dogs All Day, Becoming ‘Agoraphobic,’ Is Skeptical Of Romney’s Chances, New Profile Of Bush Fam Reveals."
The mag describes a Bush that is hiding away from the public eye, with one unnamed person observing: “He’s become increasingly agoraphobic… he doesn’t like people, he never did, he doesn’t now.”

The profile also says: “The most unpopular president in recent political history, W. left a record of big-government spending and intractable wars that remains difficult even for allies to defend … W. remains convinced history will vindicate him...."
He doesn’t like people, he never did, he doesn’t now.... So says an unnamed person.

A hug for President Bush today. And I think the painting is very good. Of course, there will always be Bush haters. Can't stop the Bush haters from hating their Chimpy McHitler.

You know, Hitler painted.

February 1, 2013

"The tears coursed down her cheeks — not freely, however..."

"... for when they came into contact with her heavily beaded eyelashes they assumed an inky color, and pursued the rest of their way in slow black rivulets."

That's the sentence from "The Great Gatsby" today, in the "Gatsby" project.

Tears coursed. The subject and the predicate are right up there at the outset. No teasing about where the foundation of this sentence is. Course is a strange verb for ran. There are reasons to choose the odder word. Course, for example, is more woody, less tinny than ran. The tears coursed, but not freely, because they got stuck on the woman's mascaraed eyelashes. It's thickly applied black mascara. We know it's thickly applied, because it's the excess blobs of mascara that give the impression of beads, and inky means black. So the tears got stuck on the blobs and became a coagulated black liquid, slowed down, but still, on each cheek, a little river, a rivulet.

"Birth Control Rule Altered to Allay Religious Objections."

"Under the proposal, female employees could get free birth control coverage through a separate plan that would be provided by a health insurer."
The institution objecting to the coverage would not pay for the contraceptives. The costs would instead be paid by the insurance company, with the possibility of recouping the costs through lower health care expenses resulting in part from fewer births.
Is the system better with fewer births? You know, they are babies at first, but eventually they will be workers and therefore taxpayers, and we're especially going to need young workers to be the health care providers for the aging population that will need more and more care.

But if the social engineers are thinking about fewer births, they must also be thinking about more deaths. What better way to avoid costs than for the aging people to depart? How can they not be thinking about that too? At least they're sensitive enough not to spit it in our faces the way they celebrate the savings inherent in fewer births.

And do you really understand the new plan to accommodate religion? Do you see how the religious objectors are absolved from their connection to what they see as sin? Isn't it all sleight of hand? But what is absolution?

"Pornography 'Weakens our Resistance to the Communist Masters of Deceit.'"

"And other warnings from the 1961 film Perversion for Profit, the Reefer Madness of porn."
Unlike today, criticism of pornography proceeded as if the average viewer would be unfamiliar with it. "These highly colorful magazines depict stark nudity on slick paper," Putnam patiently explained. "They often present their subject on a bed or couch, in positions indicative of intercourse or other sex acts, obviously calculated to stimulate the reader." Back then, they also thought that "the nakedness, the nudity of these magazines is defended and foisted on the people by a vociferous minority in our society," an argument even anti-porn crusaders don't make today.  

"The earliest inhabitants of Cameroon were probably the Baka (Pygmies)."

"They still inhabit the forests of the south and east provinces...."

"Instantly Improve Your Day With This Magical Baby Tapir."

I instantly knew this Buzzfeed piece could only have been written by Summer Anne Burton.
Just remember that tapirs are real, actual creatures that live on the same earth as me and you.

They look like... miracularious little sepia watermelons.

2 men try to carjack a Corvette at gunpoint, but can't make it go, because it's a stick shift.

The owner of the car — one Mr. Bean — even tried to explain it to them. 
"I had to tell him four different times to push in the clutch... My first thought was I guess we don't have driver's ed. in school anymore... And my second thing was, don't shoot me because you can't start the car," Bean said. "I'm trying to help you out here, you know. Thankfully they didn't."

"World Hijab Day calls on non-Muslim women to try out life under the traditional head scarf."

BBC reports:
[Jess Rhodes, 21, a student from Norwich in the UK] was concerned about the reaction, but after eight days of wearing the headscarf she has actually been surprised by how positive it has been.

"I can't explain it really but people have been really very helpful, especially in shops," she says.... I will wear it from time to time...  I'm saying to the world, my beauty is for my family and my partner. Any woman can wear this."
So let's assume you are a woman with no religious basis whatsoever for wearing a headscarf, but you wear one because of World Hijab Day, and you find yourself receiving more respect and more deference from strangers. Rhodes says she got more help in shops, but when she talks about wearing it in the future, she doesn't refer to an interest in getting better treatment from others, but in expressing something about excluding them from her beauty. Of course, there are all sorts of clothing items that can be worn to exclude others from your beauty. Why — if expression is key —adopt an item of clothing that is read as an expression of belief in a religion that isn't yours?

"I was trying to make the horse have a baby."

"I was thinking it would have a horseman baby."

"Have you ever eaten bread?"/"I have. But they have not. They have never seen it."

"At least he was intelligible. The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. 'When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing.'"
The old man's name was Karp Lykov, and he was an Old Believer—a member of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, worshiping in a style unchanged since the 17th century....
[In 1936] Karp; his wife, Akulina; a son named Savin, 9 years old, and Natalia, a daughter who was only 2... had retreated ever deeper into the taiga, building themselves a succession of crude dwelling places, until at last they had fetched up in this desolate spot. Two more children had been born in the wild—Dmitry in 1940 and Agafia in 1943—and neither of the youngest Lykov children had ever seen a human being who was not a member of their family. All that Agafia and Dmitry knew of the outside world they learned entirely from their parents' stories.....

The Lykov children knew there were places called cities where humans lived crammed together in tall buildings. They had heard there were countries other than Russia. But such concepts were no more than abstractions to them.
Video here

"I don’t ask writers about their work habits. I really don’t care."

"Joyce Carol Oates says somewhere that when writers ask each other what time they start working and when they finish and how much time they take for lunch, they’re actually trying to find out 'Is he as crazy as I am?' I don’t need that question answered."

That's a quote from Philip Roth, which I read just now on rereading one of the books I'd be most inclined to keep if I pared my book-books down to the minimum — "The Writer's Desk." I was going to type out the quote, but I tried Googling roth oates habits and found a whole interview surrounding it — from 1984.

Here's an interview with Jill Krementz, the photographer whose work is collected in the book. My favorite writer-and-desk in the book this one of E.B. White.

Scott Brown will not run for the Senate again.

"I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time."

I'm thinking that he didn't want to hear the criticism: you just lost. Why should he win on this fluke of the other seat opening when the people just voted him down? Exactly what would you say to that?

At the Dog Fight Café...

... get scrappy.

"Confusion over sources or indifference to them can be a paradoxical strength..."

"... if we could tag the sources of all our knowledge, we would be overwhelmed with often irrelevant information," writes Oliver Sacks in an essay about memory.
Indifference to source allows us to assimilate what we read, what we are told, what others say and think and write and paint, as intensely and richly as if they were primary experiences. It allows us to see and hear with other eyes and ears, to enter into other minds, to assimilate the art and science and religion of the whole culture, to enter into and contribute to the common mind, the general commonwealth of knowledge. This sort of sharing and participation, this communion, would not be possible if all our knowledge, our memories, were tagged and identified, seen as private, exclusively ours. Memory is dialogic and arises not only from direct experience but from the intercourse of many minds.

"Landowning societies all over the world have faced an excess of men at one point or another and have dealt with this..."

"... by sending these men to the priesthood, to fight in wars, or to explore or make a name for themselves [elsewhere]... It is clear that these countries will have to do something with all of the excess men, but polyandry will probably not occur as a widespread solution."

Polyandry — a kinder, gentler answer to the problem of too many men.

Steven Tyler appears in drag on "American Idol" and quotes Bob Dylan's "Talkin' World War III Blues."

He came out as if he were the last contestant and maybe it took half a second to recognize the big rock star (who was on the judge's panel last season). The news reports of the little stunt emphasize the drag and the (miniscule) surprise, but even where the lyric is quoted, the attribution to Bob Dylan is missing. Here's the NY Daily News:
"What the, what?" Randy Jackson said when he got a first glimpse of his former co-star on stage.
"My name is Pepper. I'm going to sing a song called 'Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa, Our Love Going to Grow, Wah Wah,'" he joked to judging panel. "But before I do I'm going to judge you all (bleeps) first."
I'm not finding any news reports that place the lyric — which I have engraved on my brain — in the old Bob Dylan song. "Talkin' World War III Blues" has 12 verses of Bob talking his way through a dream he had about walking through post-nuclear NYC, with all the people gone from the "lonesome town." Here's the 9th verse:
Well, I remember seein’ some ad
So I turned on my Conelrad
But I didn’t pay my Con Ed bill
So the radio didn’t work so well
Turned on my record player—
It was Rock-a-day Johnny singin’, “Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa
Our Love’s A-gonna Grow Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah”
Tyler said "Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah," by the way, just like Dylan, not "Wah Wah," as the Daily News would have it.

Now that you get the reference, is there anything to be made of it? Maybe Dylan was making an in joke at the time and Tyler was referring to that joke. Maybe Tyler wanted to alert us to the threat of nuclear war. Maybe Tyler wanted to wink at Dylan fans. But the best clue I found — as I did a Google search to see if anyone had recognized the Dylan quote — was an article from back in November about  friction between Tyler and current-season judge Nicki Manaj. Tyler had said in an interview:
“If it was Bob Dylan, Nicki Minaj would have had him sent to the cornfield! Whereas, if it was Bob Dylan with us, we would have brought the best of him out, as we did with Phillip Phillips....”
Manaj thereafter tweeted:
“Steven Tyler said I would have sent Bob Dylan to a cornfield??? Steven, you haven’t seen me judge one single solitary contestant yet!”
“I understand you really wanted to keep your job but take that up with the producers. I haven’t done anything to you. That’s a racist comment.” 
Racist because it's against her... or because sending someone "to the cornfield" is a reference to slavery?
“You assume that I wouldn’t have liked Bob Dylan??? why? black? rapper? what? go f— yourself and worry about yourself babe.”
To quote Bob Dylan — especially while dressed in a garish blonde wig and big inflated breasts — is to tweak Nicki. Talking blues is related to rap, somewhere in the ancestry. The quoted line, which is talked, is about singing, singing like a rockabilly guy — "Rock-a-day Johnny" — and Tyler was acting as though he were going to sing the song Bob Dylan heard. Dylan is all alone in his dream, looking for company, and in his desperation, he turns on the radio, and then puts on a record, and it's this pop culture idiot, singing nonsense — ooh-wah, ooh-wah —but it's very poignant, because, after the war, Bob is longing for any kind of a voice. In the 10th verse, he calls the telephone number where a recorded voice says the time, and he listens to that voice, repeating the same time — 3 o'clock, the time the war started — for over an hour.

So Steven Tyler had a lot to say, if anybody wants to notice. He's saying we don't get artists like Bob Dylan anymore. The music industry — like NYC after the bomb — is devoid of real people. We're desperate for a human voice. And Nicki Manaj is the embodiment — for all her voluptuous physicality — of emptiness. He was spoofing her, critiquing everything, crying out for real human art, which — for him — Bob Dylan embodies.

But did anyone hear him? He pranced out as a clown. He was dressed as a woman. It resonated in the hollowness that has always been television. In drag, with that wide smile, he even looked like Milton Berle.

IN THE COMMENTS: In this post where I chide others for missing the Dylan reference, Mumpsimus dings me for missing a reference:
"To the cornfield" refers to the SF/Horror story "It's A Good Life" by Jerome Bixby. Or, more likely in this context, to the Twilight Zone episode based on that story.
Dust Bunny Queen links to this TZ clip.

"Vote for Cuomo, not the homo."

A campaign slogan from 1978. Noted in the new documentary "Koch," which opens today, the day Ed Koch died.
[Filmmaker Neil] Barsky... doesn’t varnish Koch’s shift rightward in 1978 against mayoral opponents like Mario Cuomo. But he does make you sympathize with Koch’s 1978 beard-and-pony show, in which he held hands with Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America, and broadly hinted at a marriage announcement after the election. Flyers reading “Vote for Cuomo, not the homo” had been plastered all over the place...

Barsky poses the right questions to Koch but doesn’t bother asking them a second, third, or fourth time. He knows there are places the man won’t — or can’t — go. Bess Myerson was Koch’s good friend, and there was never anything more! Whether he’s gay or not is no one’s damn business! It would have been easier to cave in to pressure from the African-American community — maybe he should have — but he stuck to his principles! Blah blah blah....

Prize winning closeup of a sea urchin's teeth.

Credit: Pupa U. P. A. Gilbert and Christopher E. Killian; University of Wisconsin, Madison

Pupa Gilbert is a physics professor here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Here are some more — less close up — pictures of sea urchins by Professor Gilbert. And here's the National Science Foundation's announcement of the results of the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, in which Gilbert wins first place and "people's choice" in the photography category. Honorable mentions and winners in other categories at the link. Also details about that very strange image of sea urchin teeth.
Instead of flat sides and sharp edges, the sea urchin produces "incredibly complex, intertwined" curved plates and fibers that interlock and fill space in the tooth as they grow. Though made of a substance normally as soft as chalk, the teeth are hard enough to grind rock....

Was Hagel "just not very bright" or "too professorial"?

Weird that both things are being said... 

.... unless you think professors are not very bright....

... which actually does make a certain kind of sense. (Professors may employ their brightness to delve into some intellectual matter, leaving behind the world's practical affairs, which are geared to and conducted by men and women of average and just-above average intelligence. Academia is a comfortable cul-de-sac for the over-smart, taking them out of the running so that humanity's shared enterprises — business, politics, culture, family life — will be suitable for the vast majority of people. That's my theory anyway. But I'm saying that as a professor, and I'm really out of touch, here in my comfortable cul-de-sac, where I can only be right paradoxically.)

7-year-old Wilson Reyes "deserved to be cuffed," said his purported victim....

... Seth Acevedo. “He acts like an animal.... People are trying to say, poor Wilson, but he’s nothing but a big bully.”

Yikes. Quite aside from the way the police handled this case, why is the press naming and showing photographs of these 2 young boys? Acevedo is pictured — in the NY Daily News — with tears running down his chubby cheeks and his mother caressing and comforting him.
“I would have handcuffed him, too,” snapped the boy’s mother, Janet Ramos.
Reyes's mother is shown wearing bright pink pants with the words "kiss" and "flirt" written all over them.

Meanwhile, lawyer for Reyes is talking about suing the city and the police department for $250 million.

CORRECTION: To put the right woman in the kiss pants.

ADDED: The original NY Post piece has the headline, "Cops handcuff and interrogate boy, 7, for hours over missing $5: family." Key word: family. The police side of it is: “We responded to a 911 call of a robbery and assault . . . Eventually, [Wilson] was taken back to the precinct and placed in the juvenile room.... He was charged with robbery. The allegation was that he punched the kid and took his money. He took the money forcibly. The kid came into the precinct a little bit after 3 p.m., and he was out by 7:45 p.m. . . . That’s standard for a juvenile arrest."

Lady Gaga, deposed.

Law office. Litigation. That kind of deposed. She wasn't deposed from her position as Queen of the Universe. She maintains that, or so she maintained in the deposition.

“She’s just — she thinks she’s just like the queen of the universe,” Gaga said about the former personal assistant who is suing her (seeking overtime pay).  “And, you know what, she didn’t want to be a slave to one, because in my work and what I do, I’m the queen of the universe every day.”
[Jennifer] O’Neill says she put in 7,168 hours of unpaid overtime... and is owed more than $393,000, plus damages.

... Gaga said none of her employees get paid overtime, adding that O’Neill “knew exactly what she was getting into, and she knew there was no overtime, and I never paid her overtime the first time I hired her, so why would she be paid overtime the second time? This whole case is bulls--t, and you know it.... I’m quite wonderful to everybody that works for me, and I am completely aghast to what a disgusting human being that you have become to sue me like this.... Because she slept in Egyptian cotton sheets every night, in five-star hotels, on private planes, eating caviar, partying with [photographer] Terry Richardson all night, wearing my clothes, asking YSL [Yves Saint Laurent] to send her free shoes without my permission, using my YSL discount without my permission.”
Interesting that Gaga would put herself through the stress of 6 hours of testifying like this. You'd think she'd pay $393,000 to make O'Neill go away. It' was a job where O'Neill on call round the clock, apparently, but only working in spurts, unpacking luggage, going down to the drugstore, whatever it was the star wouldn't — or couldn't —  do for herself. If you read the whole article at the link, you'll see that O'Neill worked so closely with Gaga that she seems to have gotten the idea of herself as the star's friend and assumed various privileges — the second bed on the private plane, the extra pillows, etc.

This seems to have led to the split. Perhaps O'Neill, fired and forced to think of herself as a mere employee, went legal, seeking an employee's compensation. This relationship should have been managed for Gaga by someone else. Another kind of personal assistant.

But Gaga doesn't sound like she has good business sense about what she is doing. If you've got tons of money and you spend it being "quite wonderful to everybody" as you travel, how do you extract professional work from them? They are supposed to adore you in exchange for your beneficence? If they lose the job, they're not going to love you, and you've got so much money, you're a target for a lawsuit. Why didn't she see that coming?

Edward Koch has died.

He was 88.
With his trademark — 'How’m I doin?' — Mr. Koch stood at subway entrances on countless mornings wringing the hands and votes of constituents, who elected him 21 times in 26 years, with only three defeats....
I lived in Koch's legislative district in the early 1970s — before he became mayor — and I remember going to work, needing to get down into the subway, and he'd be there at the top of the stairs wanting to shake hands. Want to ride the subway? You'll have to get past Ed Koch. It seemed so small-time, such a corny, unlikely way to get somewhere in politics.

The 3 defeats were: "a forgettable 1962 State Assembly race; a memorable 1982 primary in a race for governor won by Mario M. Cuomo; and a last Koch hurrah, a Democratic primary in 1989 won by David N. Dinkins, who would be his one-term successor."
Black leaders were... unhappy with Mr. Koch’s decision to purge antipoverty programs and comments he made that they considered insensitive. He said, for example, that busing and racial quotas had done more to divide the races than to achieve integration, and that Jews would be “crazy” to vote for the Rev. Jesse Jackson in his 1988 presidential campaign after Mr. Jackson’s 1984 reference to New York as “Hymietown” and his call for a Palestinian homeland in Israel....

[I]n August 1989, a black youth, Yusuf K. Hawkins, 16, who went to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to see a used car, was attacked by a group of white youths and shot dead.

Mr. Dinkins, pledging to bring the city together again in a “gorgeous mosaic,” narrowly defeated Mr. Koch in the primary and went on to beat Mr. Giuliani, who ran on the Republican and Liberal lines, by a slender margin in the general election.

“I was defeated because of longevity, not because Yusuf Hawkins was murdered six weeks before the election, although that was a factor,” Mr. Koch wrote.... “People get tired of you. So they decided to throw me out. And so help me God, as the numbers were coming in, I said to myself, ‘I’m free at last.’ ”

January 31, 2013

At the Black-and-White Café...


... let's get together.

"IRS: Cheapest Obamacare Plan Will Be $20,000 Per Family."

How can this possibly work?

"Legend has it that in 802 CE, Jayavarman II, king of the Khmers, first came to the Kuhlen hills, the future site of Angkor Wat."

"Later, under Jayavarman VII (1181–ca. 1218), Khmer reached its zenith of political power and cultural creativity. Jayavarman VII gained power and territory in a series of successful wars. Khmer conquests were almost unstoppable as they raided home cities of powerful seafaring Chams.... Following Jayavarman VII's death, Khmer experienced a gradual decline.... The Angkorian monarchy survived until 1431...."

In Cambodia, today's "History of" country.

Al Gore performs a breathing exercise...

... when he realizes that Jon Stewart's use of the phrase "voracious over-eater" isn't going to turn into a reference to Gore's obesity:

(My edit, my interpretation of what's going on here.)

Did Ted Cruz bully Chuck Hagel?

David Weigel thinks so.

My impression is that Hagel wasn't as bad as the naysayers are saying, but he should be tougher and more ready to fight if he's supposed to be the Secretary of Defense. Really: Why Hagel?

I'm inclined to think the President deserves the Cabinet he chooses, and I don't approve of destroying a guy just because there's blood in the water. But honestly, don't we need a stronger Secretary of Defense than Chuck Hagel?

"In the ’80s and ’90s, a liberal arts graduate who didn’t know what to do went to law school."

"Now you get $120,000 in debt and a default plan of last resort whose value is just too speculative. Students are voting with their feet. There are going to be massive layoffs in law schools this fall. We won’t have the bodies we need to meet the payroll."

Today's wedding photos are "all about the unexpected," because: "Brides are older these days..."

".... and have been to more weddings than you can shake a stick at. They’re tired of anything that feels cookie-cutter."

Plan the unexpected. People expect it these days. They are old, and they've been shaking a stick and cutting cookies for a long, long time.

"I’m a very upstanding person with a crystal clear reputation."

Said the real-and-fake antiques dealer. "People believe what they want to believe."

Lawsuit for $1.2 million brought by a man named Butt, who learned his Faberge egg wasn't real at an Antiques Roadshow event.

McCain "pressed Hagel on whether he stood by his opposition to the decision to surge U.S. troops into Iraq in 2007."

"Hagel, who once called the surge the 'most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam' resisted McCain’s repeated attempts to solicit a 'yes' or 'no' answer."
"I’m not going to give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I’ll defer that to the judgment of history... I did question the surge. I always ask the question: Is this going to be worth the sacrifice? We lost almost 1,200 Americans and thousands of wounded. Was it required? Was it necessary? I’m not sure. I’m not that certain that it was required."

Althouse unfair to F. Scott Fitzgerald?

Midway through my journey of isolating and writing about sentences from "The Great Gatsby," I find myself confronted by one creeley23 — a commenter within the confines of this Althouse blog — who says: "Hmm... rereading the first ten pages of Gatsby I see that Ann is picking klunky, atypical sentences out of the text."

I have chosen things like: "Sometimes a shadow moved against a dressing-room blind above, gave way to another shadow, an indefinite procession of shadows, that rouged and powdered in an invisible glass." And: "A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea."

But, in my defense, I have also chosen: "A breeze stirred the gray haze of Daisy’s fur collar." And: "Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry."

What's The Frequency?

It's a bar in Madison, where they won't have hip-hop shows anymore because there was a fight outside the other night and a gun was fired. The bar's owner, Darwin Sampson says: “It is truly unfortunate that I cannot host an entire genre of music and artists because of the idiocy of a couple people and the ineptitude of the security company that evening.”

What's the frequency?

"And Guy sank upon a couch of flowers/In an ice-ribbed underworld..."

"Awash in blossoming gold from a new sun/Tumbling out dark long-ago clouds..."

Maurice Sendak's last work.

This might help you bike in winter.

The jaunty music makes it seem like fun. I can do this. At 0:33, we got a laugh. ("Go out and buy or find a bike...") At 0:57 — "completely filthy with road grime" — I say, "This is where we lose all the women." At 1:30, the real problem emerges: You've got to keep going forward. You'll fall if you brake or slow way down or do anything other than "Let your momentum go. You are usually okay." Usually! But if 1 of my 60 minutes of riding is not okay, that's absurdly dangerous. "It's a skill," we're told, that you learn over time. But that assumes you don't die! Right after the expert says we can learn, we see a bike going down an icy path toward a curve with the icy lake straight ahead.

Cycling News to Lance Armstrong: "When you came into the sport, it probably wasn't to dope, it wasn't to cheat..."

"... but at what point, specifically, did you realize that was how cycling worked and that the governing body weren't dealing with the situation?"

Armstrong: "My generation was no different than any other. The 'help' has evolved over the years but the fact remains that our sport is damn hard, the Tour was invented as a 'stunt, and very tough mother f**kers have competed for a century and all looked for advantages. From hopping on trains a 100 years ago to EPO now. No generation was exempt or 'clean'. Not Merckx's, not Hinault's, not LeMond's, not Coppi's, not Gimondi's, not Indurain's, not Anquetil's, not Bartali's, and not mine."

Who's missing the point here where Sen. Durbin shouts "you missed that point" at the NRA's Wayne LaPierre?

Here's the video, featured at Talking Points Memo, under the heading, "Durbin Hits Back At NRA’s LaPierre: 'You Missed That Point Completely.'" TPM uses the words "sharply admonished" to characterize the drama in Durbin's voice and notes the "applause from some in the audience."

Full text at the link, but you have to watch the video to understand the incivility of Durbin's tone. Durbin does have a point that LaPierre missed, but why didn't he address LaPierre with respect and invite him to reflect upon the missed point or to refute it he can?

I asked that question out loud, and Meade said, "You're missing the point." 

Of course, Durbin's real point was not that background checks deter criminals from buying guns. The point was to find an opportunity for drama and to seize it. These so-called hearings have little to do with gathering information for the purpose of writing sound legislation. It's political theater to build support for... oh, what difference does it make what they really do as long as they do something?

I ask Meade if I can use his quote in this post, and he says yes, adding that I should let people know that he spoke in a completely civil tone.

Remember the great call for civility that went out — from President Obama and many others — after the Tucson shootings? I've always used the tag "civility bullshit" for that topic, because I never believed that it was intended to apply across the board. Imagine the reaction in the media if LaPierre had used the tone employed by Durbin.

January 30, 2013

Having sex does not burn 100 to 300 calories.

It's more like 21 calories — according to a scientific study that reveals the average length of the oft-touted exercise is a mere 6 minutes.

"Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart."

Oh! For a minute there, I saw "nimble," and I was flummoxed. But nibble.... I can picture that. Nibble at the edge... The "stale ideas" seem to be a wafer cookie with a thin edge, suitable for nibbling.

This is our sentence for the day, taken out of context from "The Great Gatsby," in our "Gatsby" project.

"Sally Starr is an icon, and she will always be remembered as an icon. She was someone who was pure."

"Her persona was always Sally Starr. She understood the importance of being a personality on and off the air. She was always in costume. She represented the true style of what it was to be a personality."

Goodbye to Sally Starr, who died 2 days before her 90th birthday. When I think of days in the 1950s in front of the television, I think of "Popeye Theater" and Sally Starr, "your gal Sal," forever in our hearts!

"Update: It turns out that Giffords's speech therapist wrote the note, not Giffords herself..."

"... and that Americans for Responsible Solution's reference to 'Gabby Giffords' handwritten testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee' meant 'handwritten' in a general sense. I've updated the headline and text of this post to make that clear."

Oh... so... all that meaning....

"Yes! I am always thinking of two-toned shoes. I’m never not thinking about them."

"This is perfection. Why are most shoes so boringly monochromatic?"

(Bonus: Amazon shopping link for 2-toned shoes. Special recommendations: here and here.)

"At-Home Dads Make Parenting More of a 'Guy' Thing."

From the Wall Street Journal:
At-home dads... take pride in letting their children take more risks on the playground, compared with their spouses. They tend to jettison daily routines in favor of spontaneous adventures with the kids. And many use technology or DIY skills to squeeze household budgets, or find shortcuts through projects and chores, says the study, based on interviews, observation of father-child outings and an analysis of thousands of pages of at-home dads' blogs and online commentary.

"Just as we saw a feminization of the workplace in the past few decades, with more emphasis on such skills as empathy and listening, we are seeing the opposite at home—a masculinization of domestic tasks and routines," says Gokcen Coskuner-Balli, an assistant professor of marketing at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and lead author of the study. "Many men are building this alternative model of home life that is outdoorsy, playful and more technology-oriented."

Forget Beyonce. It will be Bob Dylan entertaining us at Super Bowl half-time.

That's what Tim Heidecker says:
[Dylan] is replacing Beyonce who dropped out after her inauguration lip synching scandal.

“Running Out The Clock” is a previously unreleased song from Dylan’s 1983 “Infidels” album. I guess it makes sense… the football metaphors and references.
Song audio at the link. I find this a tad hard to believe. I love old Bob, but I don't picture him in this setting, and I can't imagine Beyonce is so easily embarrassed.

ADDED: The "Infidels" album has a song with the phrase "running out the clock" in it. It's called "Neighborhood Bully," and whatever they tell you about violence in football, it's not about football. It's about Israel. Lyrics here. Audio. Buy it here.

Gomer is gay: Jim Nabors marries his partner of 38 years.

"I haven’t ever made a public spectacle of it.... Well, I’ve known since I was a child, so, come on."
"It’s not that kind of a thing. I’ve never made a huge secret of it at all. My friend and I, my partner, we went through all of this 38 years ago. So I mean, we made our vows and that was it. It was to each other, but nevertheless, we were a couple.”

At the Alien Abduction Café...

... pay attention.

(Animation of my photograph by Chip Ahoy.)

"A man is only as old as the woman he can feel inside of him trying to express herself."

A translation of the French that was itself a translation of "You’re only as old as the woman you feel" — an old Groucho Marx joke — which had been given as an example of an untranslatable sentence.

"Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. "

"Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard. But the time to act is now... You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you."

Gabrielle Giffords speaks very slowly and very briefly to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

ADDED: Is she a witness or an exhibit?

What is dehumanizing?
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Welcome to Bonehouse.

(This morning.)

"European explorers and missionaries.... compared the organisation of the kingdom of Burundi with that of the old Greek empire."

"It was not until 1899 that Burundi became a part of German East Africa."
Unlike the Rwandan monarchy, which decided to accept the German advances, the Burundian king Mwezi IV Gisabo opposed all European influence, refusing to wear European clothing and resisting the advance of European missionaries or administrators. The Germans used armed force and succeeded in doing great damage, but did not destroy the king’s power. Eventually they backed one of the king's sons-in-law Maconco in a revolt against Gisabo. Gisabo was eventually forced to concede and agreed to German suzerainty.....
With WWI, Belgium took over, running things "through indirect rule, building on the Tutsi-dominated aristocratic hierarchy." Independence came in 1962, and "Tutsi King Mwambutsa IV Bangiriceng established a constitutional monarchy comprising equal numbers of Hutus and Tutsis." Horrific events follow.

In Burundi, today's "History of" country.

Let me see your workspace.

Lots of links to photos, collected in a Metafilter post, but the links all go to LinkedIn, and there's some serious hostility to LinkedIn for spamming us all these years. And it's not just that....
I'd be happy if they'd just get rid of the "influencers". It seems as if they had deliberately set out to make a list of the most annoying, unselfconscious people on Earth. I mean, which other list manages to contain the globular egos of David Cameron, Deepak Chopra, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Martin Varsavsky, a.o.?
If you want to see the workspaces of some admirable people, I love this book, "Writer's Desk," with excellent photographs by Jill Krementz (who was married to Kurt Vonnegut) and an introductory essay by John Updike.

And here's what my desk looks like right now:

(Partial view, with snow.)

ADDED: What's with "a.o." in the blockquote above? Is this another call for me to check Urban Dictionary?

Thomas Friedman calls on Obama to stress "the private side..., a lot more entrepreneurship, a lot more start-ups and a lot more individual risk-taking..."

"... things the president rarely speaks about."

Somehow, this column is called "It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q." It's some lingo that replaces entrepreneurship and individualism:
The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime. Government can and must help, but the president needs to explain that this won’t just be an era of “Yes We Can.” It will also be an era of “Yes You Can” and “Yes You Must.”
Why did Friedman use the terms P.Q. and C.Q.?
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"How the left-wing media lied about Newtown 'hecklers.'"


You know you're really old...

... when the Urban Dictionary "Urban Word of the Day" distinguishes 2 definitions, one for young hip folk and one for old businessmen and you've never even noticed the old-businessman one. The word — phrase, actually, but it's the height of oldness to be pedantic about that — is "out of pocket."

And, no, the old businessman meaning is not paid for with one's own money, like "out of pocket expenses." The new old meaning is unreachable by the normal means of communication (which, I suppose, is the coverage of a cell phone network).

The supposedly hip and young newer meaning seems to be just another way to say out of control.

Instapundit reviews Al Gore's new book.

The book is "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change." Yeesh. What a title. Drivers. But he couldn't just call it "The Future." That would be dumb. And people love lists. Lists make it seem possible to read a whole book.

So Six Drivers. Sounds almost sexy. Six ≈ sex, and driver seems like a way to refer to one's chakra in old songs like "Me and My Chauffeur Blues."

That's all I have to say because I haven't read the book. It just came out today yesterday. Instapundit got to drive into the future, and having read "The Future," can give a substantive account. So go read his review. It's mixed.

Rubio: "The president clearly outlined that he was gonna push on [immigration], the media was gonna focus on this..."

"... the Senate Democrats were gonna push on this issue, and I thought it was critically important that we outline the principles of what reform is about."
Look, I think there's this false argument that's been advanced by the left that conservatism and Republicans are anti-immigrant and anti-immigration.  And we're not.  Never have been.

On the contrary, we are pro-legal immigration.  And we recognize that our legal immigration system needs to be reformed.  We also recognize, because conservatism's always been about common sense, that we do have an existing problem that needs to be dealt with in the best way possible.  Now, it was dealt with in 1986 in a way that was counterproductive.  Well-intentioned, but counterproductive because, A, they granted a blanket amnesty to three million people at the time, or that was the estimate, and, B, they didn't do any of the enforcement mechanisms.  And so our point is if we're gonna deal with this, let's deal with it once and for all and in a way that this never, ever, happens again....

In the absence of stepping forward with our own principles, the left and the president will tell people what we stand for, and it's not necessarily gonna be true.
Much more at the link. (It's an interview conducted by Rush Limbaugh.) You see what Rubio is saying: The President and the congressional Democrats, with the help of the media, have the power to forefront this issue and to make it work powerfully for their political benefit. If the Republicans hang back, they will get portrayed as villains. So it was necessary for Rubio to step forward and be the face of the Republican Party to give it some chance at looking at least somewhat good as this issue plays out.

Cissy Houston's harsh memoir about her daughter Whitney Houston...

... may have something of a homophobic theme. I read the linked article because it's linked at Drudge: "CISSY DISSY: Whitney Houston's Mom Writes Unflinching Memoir..." The article characterizes the book, but all the interesting material comes from interviews that have been available for a while, so the article might not represent the book accurately. ("Nippy" = Whitney.)
Houston moved out of the family home an into an apartment with her friend Robyn Crawford at age 18. Crawford was gay, and Cissy did not like her. “What made Nippy’s move particularly hard for me was her decision to room with Robyn Crawford in an apartment in Woodbridge, New Jersey. She knew how I felt about Robyn, but she was determined to live with her anyway. It wasn’t that there was serious tension between Robyn and me— we just didn’t see eye to eye. Still, we tried to be respectful of each other and of our places in Nippy’s life, and we figured out how to give each other the necessary space. We had our love for Nippy in common, and though we rarely agreed, we were at least able to keep things from being too uncomfortable when we were all together.”
Later Crawford moved with Whitney into her big mansion in Mendham, New Jersey. “Early on, Robyn Crawford nicknamed me “Big Cuda”— short for barracuda— and that suited me just fine. The name stuck, and from then out, whenever I’d be coming somewhere to see Nippy, people would warn each other that Big Cuda was coming.”

But it was Crawford who had the guts to tell Cissy about Whitney’s drug problems early on, long before Bobby Brown arrived on the scene.
Seems like it's Crawford who has the interesting memoir material.

January 29, 2013

At the Sunset Café...


... you can settle in for a long night of conversation.

"The door that I pushed open, on the advice of an elevator boy, was marked 'The Swastika Holding Company,' and at first there didn’t seem to be any one inside."

What? Why is there a Swastika Holding Company in "The Great Gatsby" — which takes place in 1922 and was published in 1925? It's simply bizarre. What did a swastika mean then? Why did F. Scott Fitzgerald put that name on a door that was pushed open on the advice of an elevator boy only to reveal the seeming absence of anyone?

That's our "Gatsby" sentence today in the "Gatsby" project where each day we look at one sentence in isolation. Here, we are left to wonder. Or check Wikipedia. Swastikas go way back:
The earliest swastika known has been found from Mezine, Ukraine. It is carved on late paleolithic figurine of mammoth ivory, being dated as early as about 10,000 BC....

In India, Bronze Age swastika symbols were found at Lothal and Harappa, Pakistan on Indus Valley seals. In England, neolithic or Bronze Age stone carvings of the symbol have been found on Ilkley Moor....
Etc. etc. etc. Spin forward. What was up with the soon-to-be-abjured symbol in the early 20th century?

Caption: "The aviatrix Matilde Moisant (1878-1964) wearing a swastika medallion in 1912; the symbol was popular as a good luck charm with early aviators."

Googling around, I found this year 2000 Vanity Fair article about "The Great Gatsby" written by Christopher Hitchens:
References to Jews and the upwardly mobile are consistently disobliging in the book... but it gives one quite a turn to find Meyer Wolfshiem, he with molars for cuff links, hidden Shylock-like behind the address of “The Swastika Holding Company.” Pure coincidence: the symbol meant nothing sinister at the time. Still, you can get the sensation, from The Great Gatsby, that the 20th century is not going to be a feast of reason and a flow of soul.
A feast of reason and a flow of soul. Oh! But I want this blog to be a feast of reason and a flow of soul. And I'm drifting away from my purpose: the sentence, in glorious isolation. How can we beat that swastika back into the stark confines of the sentence? The elevator arrives, we step out, we find a door, the door is marked, and there doesn't seem to be anyone — any one — inside.

At first!

Arms transplanted.

To an Iraq War veteran who lost both arms and both legs.
Brendan Marrocco is the first Iraq War veteran to survive losing all four limbs in a bombing

His chief surgeon, Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, said Marrocco’s operation was “the most expensive and complicated arm transplant surgery ever performed."

Hillary: "I do want to see more women compete for the highest positions in their countries."

"... and I will do what I can, whether or not it is up to me to make a decision on my own future. I right now am not inclined to do that, but I will do everything I can to make sure that women compete at the highest levels not only in the United States but around the world."

Assess the degree of bullshit.
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"Soon after the fall of Ava, a new dynasty rose in Shwebo to challenge the authority of Hanthawaddy."

"Over the next 70 years, the highly militaristic Konbaung dynasty went on to create the largest Burmese empire, second only to the empire of Bayinnaung."

Empires and dynasties galore in the history of Burma, our "History of" country today.

"Me at CNN was not an easy fit."

"The first month was tumultuous with several tumultuous times throughout. I liked to think of myself as job security for the public relations department. About the only thing the far right and far left could agree on was that I did not belong at CNN."

Erick Erickson, no longer the right-wing guy at CNN. Assuming CNN needs a right-wing guy "for public relations," what kind of right-wing guy should it be... and why did CNN think Erick Erickson was the guy in the first place? I suspect a bias about the right caused the choice, but that he was never really the right choice. Nothing against Erickson, but what makes TV talking-heads shows work?

"More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats... than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons..."

"... collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes." 

Domestic cats — pet and feral — "kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year" in the United States — "most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat."

Purchase of the (yester)day.

Panasonic ER-GN30-K Vortex Wet/dry Nose and Facial Hair Trimmer, Black (Amazon Associates earnings to this blog: $1.00). Portal, vortex, orifice – wherever you enter, good grooming is never out-of-season at the Althouse blog.

I subscribed to the redesigned New Republic website, but I can't get it to work... [UPDATED].

... on my digital devices and I can't find subscriber help on the website.

"Obama Will Include Same-Sex Couples In Immigration Plan."

That's your cue, Republicans, to say something stupid. He's roping you in. Come on. You can't resist!

The ethnic studies requirement.

We've had if for years at the University of Wisconsin. Here's an upcoming event:
The roundtable will include a presentation on the history of the requirement, an open-mic portion where attendees will be asked to share experiences with classes and make suggestions, and smaller discussions led by ASM Diversity Committee members. Attendees will also be provided note cards on which they can leave comments about their class experiences.
The committee is considering whether the requirement should be able to be satisfied with classes that "incorporate facets of personal identity beyond race and ethnicity, such as sexual orientation" and whether students should be required to take their ethnic studies class in their first 2 years of undergraduate study to enable them "to apply knowledge from the class to their educational experience." There's an idea of "revamp[ing the] requirement to make the classes a 'game-changer' for students, providing them with greater insight into their identities."

That made me want to look up the word "identity." There are lots of different meanings, but one is (from the OED):
The sameness of a person or thing at all times or in all circumstances; the condition of being a single individual; the fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else; individuality, personality.
Another is:
Who or what a person or thing is; a distinct impression of a single person or thing presented to or perceived by others; a set of characteristics or a description that distinguishes a person or thing from others.
Among the early quotes the OED uses to exemplify the meaning of "identity," we have 2 of history's greatest philosophers:
1694   J. Locke Ess. Humane Understanding (new ed.) ii. xxvii. 180   The Identity of the same Man consists... in nothing but a participation of the same continued Life, by constantly fleeting Particles of Matter, in succession vitally united to the same organized Body.

1739   D. Hume Treat. Human Nature I. i. 34   Of all relations the most universal is that of identity, being common to every being, whose existence has any duration.
If only a philosophy course could fulfill the requirement that has to do with gaining greater insight into one's identity! But perhaps students arrive at the university with a sense of identity that suggests different building blocks at the foundation of their higher education. Or perhaps — in the future — they have such as sense of their own identity that they do not arrive at all.

"It is with the greatest confidence that I will pass on the throne on April 30 to my son, Prince of Orange."

Says the Queen of Purple.

I mean Queen Beatrix.

Take the exam in Althouse's on-line class in media bias.

First, read this post about Dana Milbank's description of the way Senator Marco Rubio looked as he waited his turn to speak about the bipartisan immigration plan. Note the literary techniques he employs. He seems to be describing what he sees, but I implied that his descriptions revealed bias, and, indeed, that Milbank would like to destroy Marco Rubio.

Now, here's a video clip showing Marco Rubio giving his presentation. Feel free to listen to what he says, but I want you to concentrate on Senator Chuck Schumer, who can be seen at the left of the screen. Observe any gestures or expressions, because the assignment will involve describing him, deploying literary techniques of the sort we saw in Milbank's description of Rubio.

Here's the assignment. Write 2 descriptions of Schumer, in the style of Dana Milbank's description of Marco Rubio.

1. You are the equivalent of Milbank, but attuned to the goals of the Republican Party. You would like to impede the advancement of Chuck Schumer.

2. You are a Milbank-style columnist at a place like The Washington Post, and you'd like to further the political career of Senator Schumer.

Cast a critical eye on your work. Are your 2 descriptions equivalent? They should be equally accurate, equally presentable as journalism, equally in service to your political agenda.

What have you learned from this exercise? Has your respect for Milbank grown or shrunken? Explain.

"Republicans shouldn’t worry that President Obama is trying to destroy the GOP."

"Why would he bother?"

Subtext: It should be destroyed. It's already destroyed. Please think that. They're hopeless. All hope lies within the Democratic Party. No hope outside the Party.

Dana Milbank says "Marco Rubio was a bundle of nervous energy" who "poked his tongue into his cheek, he clenched his jaw, and he licked his lips."

"[A]s he waited his turn to speak about the bipartisan immigration plan he had helped to draft... He fiddled with his suit-jacket button once, then again, then a third time. He rubbed his fingers together, then interlocked them."

And I'm a bundle of nervous energy, poking my tongue this way and that, clenching my jaw, licking my lips, fiddling with buttons, rubbing and interlocking my fingers, as I watch to see how the media goes about accomplishing its plan to destroy Marco Rubio.

"A woman was swept out to sea by a large wave and drowned on a Northern California beach Sunday in the third such tragedy in the region this winter..."

"The 32-year-old woman was walking on a beach near Shelter Cove in Humboldt County with her boyfriend and dog when the wave pulled her out to sea...."
"Winter is an especially dangerous time (on beaches in Northern California), and sneaker waves can catch beach goers by surprise, washing them into the sea," the Coast Guard said in a statement. "People walking along the beach should not turn their back to the ocean."

Blood donor dogs and cats.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital:
To do that, the hospital has its own Animal Blood Bank with a dedicated core [sic] of 12 dogs and 11 cats who serve as regular donors, many of them the animal companions of students or staff members at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. “We actually have a waiting list of pets to become new donors,” notes Bach.

The typical canine blood donor is a healthy, larger dog — more than 50 pounds — that has been screened for blood borne parasites and diseases that affect the qualities of blood. Importantly, the dog donor possesses a good nature.

“We don’t sedate the dogs,” explains Bach, who says a typical blood draw from a dog takes about 7 to 10 minutes. “Cats are certainly different than dogs. Cats are a little more reclusive and sometimes have a little higher stress level in the hospital. They are sedated.”
Cats also need a more compatible blood-type cross match when they are getting transfusion.

They also do horse and cow transfusions.
Their most recent resident donor horse, Drive Thru, retired this fall after seven years of donating blood and serving as a calming presence and companion for any skittish equine patients at the hospital. In the hospital’s large animal practice, Drive Thru was a star, getting presents and mail from the children of clients and visitors and occasionally popping his head into the waiting room for peppermint candy, his favorite.
The resident cow donors are Maxine and Natalie, "beautiful and pampered Holsteins." How much blood goes into a cow getting a transfusion? 6 to 12 liters.

"One hopes Mr. Obama wouldn't be so eager to come to Mr. Putin's rescue."

"If the rumors are a Kremlin hoax, the U.S. should publicly shoot them down as quickly as possible. To allow them to spread would be a display of weakness — the kind that a bully like Mr. Putin is always eager to exploit. Back in 1961, the perceived weakness of young President John F. Kennedy at his Vienna summit with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev led indirectly to the Cuban missile crisis. Only when Kennedy showed resolve did the Soviets later back down."

Writes Garry Kasparov in the WSJ.


You might want to buy Turbo Tax and minimize the pain. I know some people think the pain should be felt and the outrage kept ever raw. I used to do my taxes without even using a calculator. No more.

ADDED: I downloaded Turbo Tax and got part way into the process, which includes chatty notes "celebrating" the discovery of exemptions and photos of specific human beings —"Juan M." — smiling as if they are smiling at me and helping me.

"Sarah Palin: A political obituary."

The Washington Post teases its readers like this:

The headline at the link is different: "What Sarah Palin meant." She is gone. The living human shell that once contained Sarah Palin still walks the earth, but Sarah Palin, the repository of political meaning, is dead.

WaPo readers feel a chill of relief and ease down into another Chris Cillizza column. It's his column on the occasion of Palin's parting ways with Fox News, and he's got nothing new to say about her, other than that now, she's gone. Really dead. Ding dong.

"It was surreptitiously and illegally cast, discovered in a car wreck that killed its owner..."

"... declared a fake, forgotten in a closet for decades and then found to be the real deal."

Does an object retain the spirit of the dead?

"A month after a gunman killed 26 people at an elementary school, some Newtown parents say the building should be demolished..."

"... while others believe the school should be renovated and the areas where the killings occurred removed."

Racist, sexist graffiti in the new World Trade Center bathrooms.

Port Authority police are now investigating. Who wrote these things? The construction workers?
“Such slurs are offensive and have no place at the World Trade Center site or elsewhere,” PA spokeswoman Lisa MacSpadden said. “The Port Authority has zero tolerance for those who demonstrate intolerance.”
The construction company said it has an anti-vandalism policy which it would "reiterate" to its crews.
Hardhats who toil on the site said the foul writing on the walls is a fact of life at all job sites — and there’s not much anyone can do about it.

Black construction workers, victims of some of the most repugnant scrawls, were furious but said they don’t dare complain when they see the N-word.
“You ask any black person on the job, and they’ll say, ‘What can you do about it?’ ” said an outraged Tyson Patterson, 35, of the Bronx. “You talk and you get fired. I have to be political and pretend it doesn’t bother me.”