May 11, 2013

"A dropout from a life of privilege, [Taylor] Mead allied himself with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and other early leaders of the San Francisco Beat scene of the 1950s..."

"... before settling in New York to eke out a living as a member of its thriving arts underground." I loved this man. I'm glad to see he lived to the very old age of 88.
Indie auteur Jim Jarmusch, who cast Mead in a moving vignette that closed his 2003 film "Coffee and Cigarettes," considered Mead one of his heroes.
One of my favorite movies. Here's the movie that made me a big fan: Andy Warhol's "Lonesome Cowboys."
He was a familiar face on Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he wandered the streets with a notebook, read his poetry in coffeehouses – often against a background of a Charles Mingus recording – and fed feral cats in the predawn hours....

Born on the last day of 1924 in Grosse Pointe, Mich., Mead was the son of a wealthy businessman and his socialite wife who divorced before he was born. He floated through boarding schools and a number of colleges before his father found him a job in a brokerage house, which was not to his liking...
Here, you can watch the Taylor Mead segment of "Coffee and Cigarettes" on YouTube, but it will look a lot better — and the entire movie is recommended — on Amazon instant video or DVD.

Goodbye to Taylor Mead. Real tears shed for you here at Meadhouse.

ADDED: "Let's pretend this coffee is champagne... to celebrate life... like the rich, classy people do."

IN THE COMMENTS: betamax3000 said:
I was feeding apple slices to the baby alligators in the sewer through an open manhole cover when the headlights came upon me like two drunk angels. The police had beaten my dead horse before, and I sure was not going to stick around this time for another pony ride. Through the alley I went, past the passed-out vagrants and the virgin hookers and the baking-powder salesman who looked like Woodrow Wilson, then down the stairs to the jazz club in the basement below the Italian restaurant that served great Chinese if you asked right. I had my usual -- gin with an orange marmalade chaser -- when I heard someone call my name above the honk-and-skitter of the saxophone trio: it was Speedy Johnny, free from jail. The cops had busted him for contributing to the delinquency of minors with intent to double-park, and now he looked as pale as a night-school oyster.
More in that vein, inside.

"The Top 5 Underrated Sci-Fi Movie Masterpieces."

Come on. Let's watch "Primer." And "Dark City." And "Gattaca."

"Over the past decade, we’ve seen the rise of the foodie class and decline of the record industry."

"Are the two related? When did we start talking about new food trucks instead of new bands? When did the line outside El Centro D.F. taqueria get longer than the line outside the Black Cat? Is $8 a reasonable price for an order of duck fat french fries just because we can stream our music for free on Spotify?"

Discussed — improperly, I think — at Metafilter, here.

IN THE COMMENTS: betamax3000:
The source of this:
I Buried Paul = Cranberry Sauce.

(look it up)

The Beatles saw the End of Rock and Roll in a Side-Dish Food Item. Paul Is Dead, and now Glass Onions and Savoy Truffles will Assume the Cultural High Position.

Yoko Ono had an art piece called "Grapefruit". It is All Connected.

Pop Music: ephemeral. Strawberry Post Tarts: Forever.
Yes, clearly. We had to have them all pulled out after the Savoy Truffles.

"First question to Hillary Clinton: Where in the hell were the Marines?"

Rand Paul in — of all places — Iowa.

"Troubled Life in Malcolm X’s Shadow Comes to a Violent End."

Malcolm Shabazz was 28.
[H]e died early Thursday morning in a popular tourist area [in Mexico City] after being assaulted outside a bar, the authorities said. It was a violent end to a young and tumultuous life....

Mr. Shabazz... spent much of his life seeking to make peace with his past. After pleading guilty to the juvenile equivalent of manslaughter and arson in his grandmother’s death in 1997, he was sentenced to institutions for many of his teenage years, followed by later stints in prison for other crimes.
The grandmother was the widow of Malcolm X.

At the Angel-and-Tulips Café...

... don't just sit there all by your lonesome.

"A Brooklyn teacher got so fed up with a notorious 8-year-old class bully that she taught him a lesson in street justice..."

"... having him stand in front of the class while his latest bullying victim 'hit him back' for all the abuse. The kid clocked his tormenter — and the bully cried like a baby. 'Well, that’s what you get,'the teacher told the wild child, according to Department of Education documents."

"Every filmmaker in Hollywood worth his final cut has a signature visual flourish that functions something like a filmic fingerprint."

"For Martin Scorsese, it’s the long, uninterrupted tracking shot. For John Woo, the balletic deployment of two-handed gun violence. Wes Anderson never met a painterly tableau he didn’t like. And Steven Spielberg favors the slow zoom in just about every one of his movies. J.J. Abrams, meanwhile...."

Mimolette cheese can't possibly meet the FDA's target of no more than 6 cheese mites per inch.

"Cheese mites are microscopic little bugs that live on the surfaces of aged cheeses, munching the microscopic molds that grow there. For many aged cheeses, they're something of an industry nuisance, gently brushed off the cheeses. But for Mimolette, a bright orange French cheese, they're actually encouraged."

French cheeses sing out in protest against U.S. government regulation:

ADDED: Is there some reason why we should be more upset about microscopic insects than we are with microscopic bacteria? From Bill Bryson's (delightful!) book "At Home: A Short History of Private Life":
Your bed alone, if it is averagely clean, averagely old, averagely dimensioned, and turned averagely often (which is to say almost never) is likely to be home to some two million tiny bed mites, too small to be seen with the naked eye but unquestionably there. It has been calculated that if your pillow is six years old (which is the average age for a pillow), one-tenth of its weight will be made up of sloughed skin, living and dead mites, and mite dung—or frass, as it is known to entomologists....

If you had the right equipment and a peculiar measure of motivation, you could find numberless millions of dinky creatures living with you—vast tribes of isopods, pleopods, endopodites, myriapods, chilopods, pauropods, and other all-but-invisible specks. Some of these little creatures are practically ineradicable. An insect named Niptus hololeucus has been found living in cayenne pepper and in the cork stoppers of cyanide bottles. Some, like flour mites and cheese mites, dine with you pretty regularly.

Move down to the next level of living things, to the world of microbes, and the numbers swell beyond counting. Your skin alone is home to about a trillion bacteria. Inside you are many thousands of trillions more, many of them engaged in necessary and helpful tasks like breaking down food in the gut. Altogether you hold about a hundred quadrillion bacterial cells in your body. If you took them out and put them in a pile, they would weigh about four pounds....

Concerned... and vindictive...

... in Montana:
A concerned Lakeside Boulevard resident reported two men and three women, all drunk, were shooting a potato gun in the park to the south, and wanted to know if the activity was legal....

A concerned passerby reported a vehicle parked in the middle of 13th Street West with a rifle leaning against the passenger seat. The passerby just wanted the motorist advised that he can’t park in the middle of the street.

A vindictive 12th Avenue West resident contacted the Columbia Falls Police Department to report that her neighbor complained about her on Monday, and now she wanted to complain about the neighbor.
ALSO: "After receiving a 911 hang-up call, [Whitefish Police Department] called the man back to check on his well-being. He said everything was OK and that he was testing his phone and that he thought he hung up before it went through. He then said he was a 'sovereign United States citizen' who pays taxes, and that the person who called him back was invading his space."

"The problem wasn’t that the IRS was skeptical of tea party groups registering as 501(c)4s."

"It’s that it hasn’t been skeptical of Organizing for America, Crossroads GPS, Priorities USA and Heritage Action Fund registering as 501(c)4s. The IRS should be treating all these groups equally and appropriately — which would mean much more harshly."

Says Ezra Klein, who's afraid that now the IRS will go wimpy on everything.

I'm not enough of a policy wonk to have any opinion about how harshly 501(c)4s should be scrutinized, but I do have a strong opinion about the relative seriousness of the 2 problems Klein identifies and distinguishes, and I'm sure he's wrong.

The unequal, politically skewed enforcement of a law is a far more serious problem than the level of harshness of a neutrally enforced law. We can disagree about what the tax laws should be and how strictly or harshly they should be enforced, but everyone knows it is fundamentally wrong to vary the degree of enforcement, selecting victims by their politics. If government cannot be trusted to avoid that fundamental wrong, it cannot be trusted with any power at all. It would be better to wipe the tax code clean and rebuild it without any complicated corners where government officials — great or small — have a place to do their dirty work.

ADDED: Instapundit writes:
Remember, Obama joked about auditing his enemies in 2009. At the time, I warned about the damage to the “trust and voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends,” but Obama didn’t get much pushback elsewhere. Now, however, people need to be fired, and most likely prosecuted, to drive home the appropriate lesson. And Obama himself needs to be taken to task. The Post editorial is just a start.
Here's that Washington Post editorial.

"Crunchy Cons took a pretty hard line against suburban living..."

Rod Dreher, reconsiders suburbia

"Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots" is the name of a book he wrote, back in 2006. As the italics indicate, the quote above refers to what he said in his book, not what the people he labeled "crunchy" did — at least not directly.

In his new article, Dreher describes himself "someone who used to live in big cities, and who now lives in a small town [and therefore] more understanding of why someone with a family would choose to live in the suburbs." The same old reasons people move to the suburbs affected him and his family, so now he sees the point.
While I still believe there are serious objections to the way our suburbs are designed, and ways to design them to be more aesthetically pleasing and human-scaled, I appreciate very much Keith Miller’s critique, and how he urges us to think about whether we are not simply baptizing and moralizing aesthetic preferences. Don’t get me wrong: I do believe that the material order in some real sense reflects, or should reflect, the sacred order. Aesthetics are rarely completely divorced from metaphysics or morals. On a more practical level, though, I think we ought to all give more grace to each other. Not everybody who moves to the suburbs wants to build a gargantuan McMansion and live the full-consumerist lifestyle. Not everyone who chooses to live in the city is driven by morally pure motives; they could be refusing one kind of consumerist narcissism for the sake of embracing a more attractive version of same.
What aesthetic preferences have you tricked up as moral imperatives?

"To solicit funds from health-care executives to help pay for the implementation of the President’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is absurd."

Said Senator Orrin G. Hatch. "I will be seeking more information from the Administration about these actions to help better understand whether there are conflicts of interest and if it violated federal law.”
Over the past three months, [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law, according to an HHS official and an industry person familiar with the secretary’s activities. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk openly about private discussions.
An HHS spokesperson said Sebelius was within the bounds of her authority in asking for help. But Republicans charged that Sebelius’s outreach was improper because it pressured private companies and other groups to support the Affordable Care Act. ...

Federal regulations do not allow department officials to fundraise in their professional capacity. They do, however, allow Cabinet members to solicit donations as private citizens “if you do not solicit funds from a subordinate or from someone who has or seeks business with the Department, and you do not use your official title,” according to Justice Department regulations.

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May 10, 2013

At the Bloodroot Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Reaching heights of 1,776 feet, One World Trade has surpassed the Empire State Building to become the tallest building in New York City."

"Previously dubbed the Freedom Tower, the building proudly stands tall in Lower Manhattan as a reminder of the resilience of New York City after a grave act of terror."


Why was "Freedom" dropped? Corny? Bush-y? Disagreement over whether they hate us because of our freedom?
Americans are asking "Why do they hate us?"

They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
I hope it was because "One World Trade" is dignified and traditional.

"A sex-ed teacher seduced her eighth-grade student after he said he had a problem with his manhood and she demanded to see it..."

"Marlena Mints, 31, allegedly performed oral sex on the 13-year-old in her classroom during recess at Bessie Coleman Middle School in Cedar Hill, near Dallas."

Is the word "seduced" — used by The Daily News — appropriate?

"Diagnosed with moderate to severe autism at the age of 2, Jacob spent years in the clutches of a special education system..."

"... that didn’t understand what he needed. His teachers at school would try to dissuade Kristine from hoping to teach Jacob any more than the most basic skills."
One day, his mom took him stargazing. A few months later, they visited a planetarium where a professor was giving a lecture. Whenever the teacher asked questions, Jacob’s little hand shot up and he began to answer questions — easily understanding complicated theories about physics and the movement of planets.
Here's the mother's book, "The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius."

"The Nation's Best College Town."

RGIII is getting married... to a woman who and his mom texts him a scripture before every game — "whatever the Lord lays on my heart..."

"... to let him know that this is just another battle and you’re gonna do this with God’s help. And it works for us."

And his mom says, "he still has that shyness to him and that quietness to him... He loves being at home, quiet and to himself. That hasn’t changed."


ADDED: As KLDAVIS corrects me in the comments, it's the mom who texts the Bible verses.

"I kid you not: The IRS just released a statement on its improper harassment of conservative groups in the run-up to the 2012 election including the words: 'mistakes were made.'"

Says Instapundit, under the heading "It just gets worse."

I see that "Mistakes were made" has its own Wikipedia page:
The New York Times has called the phrase a "classic Washington linguistic construct." Political consultant William Schneider suggested that this usage be referred to as the "past exonerative" tense, and commentator William Safire has defined the phrase as "[a] passive-evasive way of acknowledging error while distancing the speaker from responsibility for it." While perhaps most famous in politics, the phrase has also been used in business, sports, and entertainment.
The phrase is most associated with Richard Nixon and his press secretary Ron Ziegler:
U.S. President Richard Nixon used the phrase several times in reference to wrongdoings by his own electoral organization and presidential administration.

On May 1, 1973, White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler stated "I would apologize to the Post, and I would apologize to Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein" (referring to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post). He continued, "We would all have to say that mistakes were made in terms of comments. I was overenthusiastic in my comments about the Post, particularly if you look at them in the context of developments that have taken place." The previous day, White House counsel John Dean and Nixon aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman had resigned, as the Watergate scandal progressed.
But it's not as though the association with Nixon has worked over the years to warn off other politicians. As you can see at the Wikipedia page, President Reagan used it in 1987 (about Iran-Contra, President Clinton used it in 1997 (about Democratic Party fundraising scandals. Senator McCain used it in 2005 (about the Iraq war). There are more items on the list, including — I love Wikipedia —today's statement by the IRS.

Under the "see also" heading:
List of political catch phrases
Non-apology apology
Non-denial denial
Spin (public relations)
IN THE COMMENTS: Erich said: "Calls to mind the classic Matt Groening cartoon."

"I wanted people to see the issues that can happen to your body, to your skin, when you put an extreme amount of weight on..."

"A lot of people think that's just going to shrink back, but it doesn't. If people find it shocking, perhaps they will think twice that they mustn't get themselves in that state."
[Paul Mason] said about eight stone [112 pounds] would be lost if he could have the three operations he needs to remove loose skin around his midriff, legs and under his arms.

"Around my middle and on my legs the skin keeps splitting because of the weight of it..."
Under Obamacare, if stomach surgery for weight loss is covered by insurance — and I assume political pressure will make that happen — will the skin surgery this man needs also be covered? There will be great sympathy for individuals who find themselves in this horrible predicament, but at the same time, there will be strife over having to pay for this.

"We will never change the name of the team. As a lifelong Redskins fan..."

"... and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season. We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps."

"'Of course, a little later on, we'll be revealing who is leaving our show,' Ryan said...

"... turning Randy's chair slightly and giving him a pointed look. The veteran judge played coy, shaking his head and laughing as if he didn't know what Ryan could possibly be referring to."

Meanwhile, as for the contestants, Angie Miller got sent home: 1. for lacking the courage to play the piano during the Elton John song that had been chosen to give her one more chance to show off her singing-while-playing-the-piano style that they repeatedly told her was her best look, 2. for having the least heart-tugging of the visits home (despite the attempt to incorporate the Boston bombing into her story, she being a Massachusetts resident), and 3. because she was the last of the skinny girls and just as we learned early on that it's not a boy year, it's not a skinny girl year. That's just how these things go.

As long as we're talking about reality shows, here's a nice discussion of this week's episode of "Survivor," which links to this video of the subtly devious Cochran paying tribute to his mother, with whom he's watched every episode of "Survivor" for the last 11 years. Have you been watching "Survivor" or "American Idol" or some other reality show for many years with a son or daughter, analyzing the characters and the strategies, as a very important part of your parent-child relationship? If you watch that video of Cochran, you might think yeah, that's like the way it's been at our house, or you might think wow, I wish I had a kid that shared something like that with me. I'm sure many of you feel like saying reality shows are a waste of time and parents should want to do better things with their children. If so, don't just scoff at the people who've found a beautiful bond in the watching of a TV show. Say what you did (or will do in the future) that is so much better (as, obviously, many things are).

At the Woodland Path Café...


... meander.

Rand Paul: "When I took Hillary Rodham Clinton to task in January for the mishandling of security in Benghazi, Libya..."

"... I told her that if I had been president at the time, I would have relieved her of her post. Some politicians and pundits took offense at my line of questioning.... Too many questions remain unanswered. Now, there are too many new questions. The evidence we had in January already suggested that Mrs. Clinton ignored repeated requests for more security in Benghazi. The new evidence we have today — and that continues to mount — suggests that at the very least, Mrs. Clinton should never hold high office again."

"The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election..."

"... to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday."
Organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.

"That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review," Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.

"The IRS would like to apologize for that," she added.


"Eristic, from the ancient Greek word Eris meaning wrangle or strife, often refers to a type of argument where the participants fight and quarrel without any reasonable goal."
The aim usually is to win the argument and/or to engage into a conflict for the sole purpose of wasting time through arguments, not to potentially discover a true or probable answer to any specific question or topic. Eristic is arguing for the sake of conflict as opposed to the seeking of conflict resolution....

According to Schopenhauer, Eristic Dialectic is mainly concerned to tabulate and analyze dishonest stratagems, so that they may at once be recognized and defeated, in order to continue with a productive dialectic debate. It is for this very reason that Eristic Dialectic must admittedly take victory, and not objective truth, for its selfish aim and purpose.
Have you noticed any good eristic lately?

ADDED: I've discovered that what I like to do is something that's just about the opposite of eristic. I like to have conversations in which I'm looking for the truth and I don't care about whether what I'm saying is working to persuade anyone. It's simply a performance of truth-seeking for its own sake and with the full freedom to say everything without concern for whether it drives the reader/listener even further from what I think is the right answer. What's the Greek word for that?

"I found this article piquant and slightly nutty with overtones of ripe boysenberry and green tea and a finish reminiscent of early morning in a Scandinavian forest."

Comment at Metafilter on a thread linking to an article titled "Wine-tasting is Bullshit and Here's Why."

"ABC News, which acquired 12 different drafts of the [Benghazi] talking points, disclosed that the State Department requested that the CIA scrub references to an Al Qaeda-linked group, Ansar Al-Sharia."

"A State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, specifically asked the CIA to delete a paragraph citing warnings prior [to] attacks because that 'could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?' according to email reviewed by ABC. The paragraph was struck entirely."

Meanwhile, Elijah Cummings — the key Democrat in this week's committee hearings on Benghazi — said:
“I have not seen the e-mails... But I do know for a fact that our intelligence committee, [the] House Intelligence Committee, has seen every single one of the changes and they have concluded that there was no manipulation for political reasons.”
The political manipulations, he says, are on the other side — a premature attack on his party's presumptive 2016 candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, here's the ad the Republican National Committee made, exploiting the Benghazi story, to attack Obama before the election. Powerful, and you can say now — now that you know Mitt Romney lost — that it should have been used:

I think it's easy to see why this was not run. You can say with hindsight that you think it might have worked, now that you know that what was done did not work, but you need to picture the outcry from the Obama campaign — the ugliness, the damage to national security interests, Romney's unreadiness to play on the international stage, the disrespect for the dead and their mourning families, and — it worked against Hillary's original 3 a.m. ad — the dog-whistle racism.

"I guess no one actually watches these clips, since not one comment refers to anything we said."

"Am I wasting my time doing this kind of thing?" say I, in the comments to a post embedding a clip from a Bloggingheads episode I did with Bob Wright. I thought it was a pretty juicy segment, with lots of topics you'd be interested in hearing us talk about, but the comments — maybe because they are the earliest comments — don't riff on what we said and in some cases present ideas as if they were not in the video when they are.

Am I wasting my time doing Bloggingheads? free polls 

"I was expelled from Syracuse University for comments that I posted on Facebook."

"Syracuse University School of Education graduate student Matthew Werenczak was just trying to finish his masters degree early when he decided to take a summer course that involved tutoring at a local middle school..."
On the first day of Werenczak's tutoring program at Danforth Middle School, he and another Syracuse student were introduced to their students by a member of the Concerned Citizens Action Program (CCAP). They happened to be the only two white people in the room. Shortly after the introduction, in the presence of Werenczak and the other white student teacher, the CCAP member, who is black, said that he thought that the city schools should hire more teachers from historically black colleges.

"This [comment] offended me, as well as the other student teacher in the room," says Werenczak in FIRE's latest video. "It just seemed inappropriate considering that the two student teachers happened to be from Syracuse and a not a historically black college."

So Werenczak took to Facebook to write about the incident.

"Just making sure we're okay with racism," wrote Werenczak. "It's not enough I'm ... tutoring in the worst school in the city, I suppose I oughta be black or stay in my own side of town."

"I was kind of trying to see if my friends or other peers, classmates would have a similar reaction to what I had," says Werenczak about the reason for his posting the comment....
Via Instapundit.  Video at the links.

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Bounty Huge Roll, Select a Size, White

Since the days of TV, have we ever had a fat President?

And will the Chris Christie surgical approach to defattifying play politically? What does this approach to problem-solving say about presidential qualifications?

Also: How Newt Gingrich could have been President, how Obamacare is going to have to cover weight-loss surgery, and why Obamacare should lead to the legalization of marijuana.

"A woman in a car who saw the attack honked her horn to try to get the dogs to stop..."

"Police have warned residents to be on the lookout for the pit bulls, which remain on the loose..."
Sheriff officials say they are using a helicopter to search for the four tan-coloured dogs in the rural community of Littlerock, about 40 miles (65km) northeast of the city of Los Angeles.

"When the first deputy on scene saw one dog still attacking the woman, he tried to chase the dog away," Lt Corina said. "The dog ran off into the desert, then turned around and attacked the deputy, the deputy fired a round at the dog and tried to kill the dog, and the dog took off into the desert."...
"It's really scary... I really think I'm going to be getting a gun to protect myself," Littlerock resident Diane Huffman told KABC-TV.
It's great to take action to protect yourself, but I note that the multiple cops were unsuccessful trying to shoot one dog when they showed up prepared for the attack and the dog was running away. The woman was jumped by 4 dogs in a sudden, surprising attack. If she'd had a gun, would she have won the fight?

Woman found alive after 17 days in the wreckage...

... of the building that collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On Friday afternoon, as soldiers cleared a floor, they heard sounds below, correspondents say. Officers immediately ordered workers to stop clearing the site.

Detection equipment was sent in and they saw a woman waving her hand. She shouted "I'm still here" and said her name was Reshma....

Rescuers said it was possible that the woman survived because of the large quantities of oxygen and water that were pumped into the ruins in the early stages of the rescue effort.
She had no serious injuries, but how did she keep from dying of thirst? Are we to understand that they hosed the immense pile of rubble and bodies — 1,000+ people died — and she drank the water dripped through to the place where she was enclosed? Astounding!

"It's not religion just because it's dressed up like religion; it's a blasphemy against religion."

Speaking in Mexico city, the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, called the worship of Santa Muerte — Saint Death — the "degeneration of religion." ""Religion celebrates life, but here you have death."
The cult, which reveres death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico. It is represented by a cloaked female skeleton clutching a scythe. It is particularly popular in areas of Mexico that have suffered from extreme violence carried out by the country's drug cartels. The cult is believed to date back to colonial times.

It merges indigenous beliefs with the tradition of venerating saints introduced by Christian missionaries after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Devotees pray to the saint at home-made altars and often offer votive candles, fruit and tequila in the hope Santa Muerte will grant their wishes....

Cardinal Ravasi said a country like Mexico, where more than 70,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug-related violence over the past six years, had to send out a clear message to its young generation.

May 9, 2013

A paywall at Politico?!

"As recently as a few months ago, we thought it was premature for POLITICO to start asking readers to pay for content, outside of Pro. But, it is increasingly clear that readers are more willing than we once thought to pay for content they value and enjoy. With more than 300 media companies now charging for online content in the U.S., the notion of paying to read expensive-to-produce journalism is no longer that exotic for sophisticated consumers."

Sophisticated, eh? I can't believe people will pay for Politico or that Politico would want to restrict access.

"Should a five-year-old have a gun?/Why Ann doesn't like to take positions on policy questions/Gun deaths are declining, but what about spree killings?..."

"Chris Christie: Can a fat man win the presidency?/Howard Kurtz, Jason Collins, Tina Brown, and honesty/Benghazi: scandal or hype?" — those are the basic topics, as framed by the Bloggingheads enterprise, as I talk for 70+ minutes with Bob Wright.

Here's the whole thing:

I'll pull out some choice bits in a little while.

"On Tuesday, when Madison residents enjoyed temperatures that hit 78 degrees, a number of calls filtered into the state capital's 911 system with reports of dead people in the grass."

"Also known as, you know, sunbathers. It got so bad that the authorities had to take to Wisconsin Capital Newspapers's to get the word out: 'Please tell cellphone users that people lying in the grass are not necessarily dead,' a dispatcher at the 911 center told'... Basically — and now tragically, if rather strangely — Madison residents were so unaccustomed to the good weather, and especially sunbathers, that they were very quick to assume the worst. They saw something, but maybe they said a little too much."

Says Alexander Abad-Santos at The Atlantic Wire, via Steve Elbow at the Cap Times, via Rob Thomas at the Cap Times.

Thomas's piece is extra amusing because it begins with something about — of all people — Meade.

Alexander Abad-Santos's was a little less amusing than it would be if it hadn't happened that, a year ago, a sunbather, lying on the grass in a Madison park, was run over by a city truck and killed.

ADDED: We were out on Picnic Point yesterday evening and saw this:


It turned out to be part of a medical school exercise. Groups of students would arrive and, led by an instructor, attempt to diagnose the medical problem, which was — I happen to know — a collapsed lung.

"Nakoula Basseley Nakoula deserves a place in American history."

"He is the first person in this country jailed for violating Islamic anti-blasphemy laws."

An iPhone, especially the latest model, makes you a big theft target.

Here are a few things you can do to limit the risk and the damage.


"1. Look around the random Google Street View and try to figure out where you are. 2. Click the world map to guess!"

A great game... really teaches you how wrong you can be. (Note: You can zoom in on the map (and the street view).)

At the Canoe Café...


... yes, you can.

(Enlarge to perceive the Capitol in the center of the photo. This was taken from the end of Picnic Point yesterday evening. There was some sort of canoe race going on.)

Purchase of the day.

From the May 8, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Ringer 3050 Compost Plus 2 Pound Box
By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want, pay nothing extra, and make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And only if you show us the fingerprints of your unique microorganisms will we know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: Contains 100% of the necessary organisms and nutrients.

"Vetoes Have Gone Out Of Style."

5 reasons why.

It's the architectural equivalent of a mullet!

"You won't feel this presence of a building right on top of you," says architect Jeff Zelisko, deflecting criticisms that this mixed use project won't fit the ambiance of Madison's State Street. The building — for the block of State Street closest to the University — is supposed to "feel like it belongs" because of the way it looks like a series of short buildings up front, with a separate-looking tower in the back.

Business in the front, party in the back!

I feel sorry for architects that have to try to satisfy the tastes of Madison urban design authorities. I see one Madison alderman is criticizing this building as another entry in something he calls "the luxury student market." (Did you know there was such a thing?)

Madisonians are fussy about the old-timey facades on State Street. At the State Capitol end, there's a big project that preserves a couple historical storefronts and integrates them into the new construction. A similar approach was taken to the Overture Center project a few years back when there was an immense struggle that forced internationally renowned architect Cesar Pelli to include a second old facade (one of dubious distinction) into his otherwise quite modern design.

This new project — called The Hub — is all new construction, and seems as though fitting into State Street now includes the idea of looking like the mishmash we get over historical preservation when there's sentimentality over existing facades.

The body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been "entombed."

Somewhere. They're not saying where.
The burial location was approved by Ruslan Tsarni, the suspected terrorist’s uncle who has represented the family as he and funeral home director Peter Stefan tried to find a cemetery willing to accept the remains for burial, the [Worcester police] official said....

Stefan’s funeral home has been surrounded by media, protesters, and Worcester police, whose chief, Gary J. Gemme, on Wednesday publicly appealed for someone to step forward and end the controversy that cost his department some $30,000 in extra expenses.

‘‘We are not barbarians; we bury the dead,” Gemme said on Thursday.
$30,000... not barbarians... entombed... 

"A gastric band is not the answer to curing an overweight child."

"I just wish it was out of me... I’ve been through hell because of it. I think every doctor should refuse to do them on anyone under 18."

Follow your bliss: "Jeff Bliss launched into a tirade after being ordered to leave his World History class at Duncanville High School in Texas..."

"... reportedly for asking too many questions. His impassioned speech telling his teacher Mrs Phung how to do her job, secretly filmed by a fellow classmate, has gone viral since it was posted on YouTube earlier this week."

"Taking over the controls of a drone is beyond the capabilities of members of such militant organizations."

"For that to happen they need to hack into the private encrypted network of the Pentagon or physically overpower the links between the drone and GPS with airplanes, which these organization do not have."

Okay, then.

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian said:
"It is the stated position of the U.S. Air Force that their safeguards would prevent the occurrence of such events as are depicted in this film."

"I rarely read the comments at the bottom of my blogs and I almost never respond. I'm ambivalent at best about sparking a dialogue."

"The reason I don't do social writing is that occasionally I actually do read the comments. There's this one guy (hi Laurence!) who writes a comment almost every time I happen to look at them and it's almost always something along the lines of what a liberal idiot I am."

Interestingly, Laurence — that is to say, our Meade — never calls Citizen Dave (the erstwhile Mayor Dave of Madison, Wisconsin) an "idiot." That's Dave's paraphrase.

To paraphrase is to reveal the inner workings of one's own mind. If someone holds up a mirror and you say "I look like an idiot," is the mirror-holder calling you an idiot?
I've rarely read anything associated with my writing — or for that matter with online news stories or columns — that I would consider worth my time or anyone else's.

In short, if that's blogging, then I'm not doing it and never will. Blogging does not work in any useful way as a form of social intercourse. The small number of people who comment seem very angry and very bitter. Why would you want to spend your time with them?

Everyone else seems to be following their "passion."

"Assume I have no such passion. Furthermore, I am a fairly well-qualified young generalist. What paths should most appeal to me if my goal is to maximize doing 'interesting' work? Doing meaningful work? Achieving social status? (Which of these goals should be primary?) Need I try to develop a passion before selecting a life path/career, and if so, how do I do it?"

"Do the maths. We can function - sometimes quite brilliantly - on six hours' sleep a night."

"Eight hours of work was more than good enough for centuries (oh the desperate irony that we actually work longer hours since the invention of the internet and smartphones). Four hours will amply cover picking the kids up, cleaning the flat, eating, washing and the various etceteras. We are left with six hours. 360 minutes to do whatever we want. Is what we want simply to numb out and give Simon Cowell even more money? To scroll through Twitter and Facebook looking for romance, bromance, cats, weather reports, obituaries and gossip? To get nostalgically, painfully drunk in a pub where you can't even smoke?"

"I believe death is the ultimate freedom."

"So I’d rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it."

ADDED: Meadhouse dialogue:
MEADE (on reading this post): So when she killed the guy, she was setting him free.

ALTHOUSE: Liberating his soul from his body. What's that line in a movie — "Go ahead and shoot, you'll be doing me a favor"? Casablanca!

MEADE: I hope you never murder me.

ALTHOUSE: I won't.

MEADE: Just for the record, I don't consider death the ultimate freedom.

"[I]nfants whose parents sucked on their pacifiers to clean them developed fewer allergies..."

"... than children whose parents typically rinsed or boiled them. They also had lower rates of eczema, fewer signs of asthma and smaller amounts of a type of white blood cell that rises in response to allergies and other disorders."

ADDED: Saliva is underrated. From the chapter about spit in Mary Roach's "Gulp":
We are large, mobile vessels of the very substances we find most repulsive. Provided they stay within the boundaries of the self, we feel no disgust. They’re part of the whole, the thing we cherish most.

[University of Pennsylvania psychologist] Paul Rozin has given a lot of thought to what he calls the psychological microanatomy of the mouth: Where, precisely, is the boundary between self and nonself? If you stick your tongue out of your mouth while eating and then withdraw it, does the ensalivated food now disgust you? It does not. The border of the self extends the distance of the tongue’s reach. The lips too are considered an extension of the mouth’s interior, and thus are part of the self. Though culture shifts the boundaries. Among religious Brahmin Indians, writes Edward Harper, even the saliva on one’s own lips is considered “extremely defiling,” to the extent that if one “inadvertently touches his fingers to his lips, he should bathe or at the least change his clothes.”

The boundaries of the self are routinely extended to include the bodily substances of those we love. I’m going to let Rozin say this: “Saliva and vaginal secretions or semen can achieve positive value among lovers, and some parents do not find their young children’s body products disgusting.”

Squat, plank, lunge, crunch.. and stop wasting your time.

"In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, [the 7-minute workout] fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science."

"The women were chained in the basement during the first years of their captivity..."

"... but were eventually allowed to live unchained upstairs, behind secured doors."

ADDED: "In the note found in [Ariel] Castro’s Seymour Avenue home in Cleveland after his arrest, the former school-bus driver scoffed at the stupidity of his captives for getting into his car on the days they vanished...."

"I said that death is a part of life, but so often we have to find a way to make life a part of death."

Yesterday at the Benghazi hearings, Elijah Cummings saw fit to quote something he'd said recently at a family funeral. Why was this member of Congress, sitting through a committing hearing going into what happened before, during, and after the Benghazi attacks, reminiscing about remarks he himself made the other day to help grieving people come to terms with a death in the family?

Is it that he admired his own words? That would take some strange self-regard, because the words  are no special wisdom, but the generic stuff of funerals. In the midst of life we are in death....

It must be that he equated the witnesses at the hearing to the mourners at a funeral, who experience the abrupt upheaval of a death in the family and need a way to pull themselves together and continue with their lives. A funeral is decidedly not the time to ask questions about why the death occurred. Leaders at a funeral set about tending to the emotional and spiritual lives of those who must keep living and who are at risk of becoming despondent or obsessed with questions about how it could have happened.

Cummings was on message with the Democratic Party talking point on Benghazi: It happened. Move on. Hillary Clinton chose an indignant, accusatory "What difference, at this point, does it make?" Cummings assumed the pose of the family elder, comforting the suffering, as if the witnesses emotionally were weak mourners who don't know how to let go of the painful memories and go forward to live productive lives.

The analogy is telling and quite outrageous.

IN THE COMMENTS ddh said: "Can someone explain to me how we can make life a part of death?" Ah, yes. My post is about the first part of Cummings's quote, a standard sentiment at funerals. The second part of his quote "life a part of death" is puzzling. Maybe at the funeral he talked about the afterlife. Maybe he talked about the fact that living people are spending some of their alive time in the company of a corpse. What that has to do with a congressional hearing... who knows? Maybe he's thinking: I'm alive and yet I must spend some of my precious time with this corpse of a political issue.

May 8, 2013

At the Dog Swim Café...


... it's getting dark.

"Secular youth used Facebook and Twitter two years ago to help topple President Hosni Mubarak from power..."

"... but now Salafi Islamists are gaining sway in Egypt because of TV sheiks like Khaled Abdullah."
Mr. Abdullah, a bearded 48-year-old, isn't a real sheik. But he plays one on a popular Egyptian religious satellite station, where he has blasted the secular-leaning opposition as homosexuals and atheists and decried legislation that would ban marital rape.

"Here in Egypt, anyone who has a beard can be called a sheik," said a smiling Mr. Abdullah, whose daily show on the Al Nas network is watched by millions.

"The sense I got was that I needed to stop the line of questioning."

Gregory Hicks "was soon given a scathing review of his management style, he said, and was later 'effectively demoted' to desk officer at headquarters, in what he believes was retaliation for speaking up."
Mr. Hicks offered an unbecoming view of political supervision and intimidation inside the Obama administration. When Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, visited Libya after the attack, Mr. Hicks said his bosses told him not to talk to the congressman. When he did anyway, and a State Department lawyer was excluded from one meeting because he lacked the necessary security clearance, Mr. Hicks said he received an angry phone call from Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills.

The Kermit Gosnell jury has been deliberating for 7 days.

Still no verdict.

Purchase of the day.

From the May 7, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Bags, 13 Gallon (130 Bags)
By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want, pay nothing extra, and make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And only if you blurt out all your passwords will we know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: Fill it, stretch it and stuff it with just about anything...

"House Hearing on U.S. Consulate Attack in Benghazi, Libya."

"The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee conducts a hearing with Foreign Service officers focusing on information turned over to the committee by administration whistle-blowers on the Benghazi terrorist attacks." Live streaming here — on C-Span3, beginning in a few minutes.

"Federal tax revenue is up and spending is down..."

"... thanks to an improving economy, tax increases that took effect in January and the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester."

"Gun crime has plunged in the United States since its peak in the middle of the 1990s..."

".... including gun killings, assaults, robberies and other crimes, two new studies of government data show."

"It's the right of all Afghans to have their ethnicity listed on the card."

"Ethnicity is mentioned in the constitution and in the national anthem, so it should be on the card too."

The controversy isn't over whether the government will put each person's ethnic identity on the official ID card. It's over the new cards that will have the information only within an electronic chip.
"In Afghanistan, everything is divided according to population size of the ethnicities," [says one student.] "The military, government jobs, spots in universities — if we are shown as less, then we get less."

He argues it's critical to list ethnicity so that the government and society know the exact percentage of each group. He and many others argue the percentage of Pashtuns is overstated, and as a result, they get a larger share of power and jobs.

"It's a competition," says Mohsen. "We want to have more power over other ethnicities."

"Enjoy your basement, enjoy your conspiracies."

"Back here in reality, I will try to cover the world as it is."

It wasn't the best day to use the expression "enjoy your basement," but other than that... an interesting example of a TV talking head rejecting the normal project of responding to a caller.

"But did she drink Diet Dr. Pepper while chain-smoking? I need my villains made clear, though preferably without an Ouija board scene."

Matthew Sablan, exemplifying excellence in blog commenting, on a post this morning, satirizing Hillary and Washington Post journalism by appropriating material from yesterday's post about moviemaking and NYT journalism.

When even the most clueless get a clue.

"'I remember you on Montel Williams telling the family of Amanda Berry she was dead,' wrote Facebook commenter Lisa Lupas on ['psychic' Sylvia] Browne's Facebook page. 'What do you have to say for yourself? You are a fraud! What a horrible horrible thing to say to a family holding on to nothing but hope and faith. Shame on you!'"

"What's left to say about affirmative action?" Glenn Loury asks John McWhorter...

... on the occasion of the imminent Supreme Court opinion on the subject. Loury identifies himself as a former opponent of affirmative action who is now a defender. McWhorter says he's never had any problem with putting a "thumb on the scale" in order to get "a certain proportion" of diversity, but he objects to redefining "what qualifications are."

A perfect display of lameness at the Washington Post.

"Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, a persistent voice of media skepticism on Benghazi" — The Washington Post puts that article under its "Style" heading — and teases it along with "Met Gala 2013 goes punk," "What to wear to a summer wedding," and "Wedding gift ideas."

This is the main front-paged story on Benghazi this morning in The Washington Post, inviting readers to admire a feisty female:
“I’m a political agnostic,” she says. “I don’t think about who’s good and who’s bad. I just go where the story leads.... People can say what they want about me, I don’t care. I just want to get the information out there.”

But Attkisson, who holds a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, takes a fighting stance when she feels she’s being stonewalled. Which is exactly what she thinks the White House has done to her on Benghazi. In particular, she is irked by the administration’s non-response to a petition for documents that she filed in November under the Freedom of Information Act.
The lady is irked! Irked! She stomps her well-shod foot and looks pretty when angry, I presume. What nonsense! Where was the WaPo's once-legendary investigative reporting? Why the hell are we looking at the Benghazi story today from the perspective of Sharyl Attkisson?
The story has made Attkisson — strong-willed, supremely confident and often controversial — a kind of Rorschach test among journalists.
Oh? She's a Rorschach test? Well, then let me unload my brain — my female and presumably wedding-fashion-gifts-ridden brain — on this WaPo article. I think they're saying hey, look at this lady so we won't look at that other lady: Hillary Clinton, whose actions in the Benghazi affair really do need looking into.

On the home page, WaPo does tease a second Benghazi-related story. It's tucked under the Sharyl Attkisson!!! thing and in fine print: "Republican probe of Benghazi attacks turns to Hillary Clinton."
To Democrats, the efforts amount to a baseless and less-than-subtle crusade to tarnish the credentials of Clinton, one of the country’s most popular political figures and the overwhelming favorite for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination....

Clinton also emerged largely unscathed in January when she testified before Congress about Benghazi.

“She was very smart — at some level because she’s been through so many of these kinds of situations in the past — not to say or do anything that was inaccurate or would in any way be inconsistent with the enormous credibility she earned as secretary of state,” Democratic strategist Chris Lehane said. “Because she protected her credibility, their ability to make a bigger issue out of it is very limited.”
Nothing to see here. Just those terrible Republicans being terrible again, trying to get the jump on 2016, and as for what happened in 2012, well, what difference, at this point, does it make? And take a look: Sharyl Attkisson!!!!

Sanford easily beats Colbert Busch — 54 to 45%.

Now that it's happened, it's obvious that it's what was going to happen. It's a big Republican district. What did anyone expect? Some kind of amazing story for Elizabeth Colbert Busch, built on top of an extreme unwillingness to forgive Mark Sanford for cheating on his wife and lying about it?

Sanford took his humiliation. With little fuss he stepped down as governor. He laid low for 4 years. He offered himself to the public once again at the congressional district level where he had begun his political career in 1994.

ADDED: From the above-linked article:
A turning point in the race came two weeks ago, when Sanford held a mock debate with a cardboard cutout of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, implying that the California Democrat — persona non grata in conservative South Carolina — was a stand-in for his Democratic opponent.

The former governor endured days of derision from the press for the move — Mark Sanford, once regarded as a viable potential presidential candidate, was debating a piece of cardboard.

But behind the scenes, Sanford’s aides grinned: Every time a reporter put “Pelosi” and “Colbert Busch” in the same sentence, the Republican was winning. And some Democratic aides began to worry, too.
Be careful with mockery. It's a wild beast. Once unleashed, who knows what it will do? Liberals may think their side owns comedy. And not just when their candidate is the sibling of political humorist.

"The Cleveland police should be ashamed of themselves.... These girls were five minutes away."

"They were looking for years and years. They were right under their nose."
One neighbor remembered occasional late-night deliveries of groceries to the boarded-up shoe box of a house in a rough-edged West Side neighborhood here.

Another remarked on a porch light that burned at night, even though many of the windows were covered.

“Why would an abandoned house have a porch light on?” he recalled thinking.

Still another said his sister had once seen a figure in an upstairs window, pounding on the glass.
ADDED: The quotes above are from the NYT. The Daily News puts it more bluntly: "Cleveland kidnapping house of horrors: Neighbors reported seeing naked women crawling on leashes, a woman with a baby pounding on a window for help... but cops walked away 3 times."
“They didn’t take it seriously,” said Elsie Cintron, who lived three doors down from the ramshackle residence where the three victims finally broke free Monday evening....

On one occasion in the spring of 2012, four local senior citizens called police — and waited two hours in vain for authorities to appear....
AND: The 911 transcript is evidence of the depth of the problem.

Headline misread.

I've been reading too many articles about making the morning after pill available to females of all ages. I saw — under the NYT category "Room for Debate" — "At What Age Should Sex Education Begin?" and thought the debate was: "At What Age Should Sex Begin?"

Genetically engineering trees so they will glow in the dark and replace street lights.

Research by "a small group of hobbyist scientists," funded through Kickstarter.

What a dilemma for environmentalists! All the fossil-fuel burning that could be averted, and yet.... Frankenstein!
Two environmental organizations, Friends of the Earth and the ETC Group, have written to Kickstarter and to the Agriculture Department, which regulates genetically modified crops, in an effort to shut down the glowing plant effort.

The project “will likely result in widespread, random and uncontrolled release of bioengineered seeds and plants produced through the controversial and risky techniques of synthetic biology,” the two groups said in their letter demanding that Kickstarter remove the project from its Web site....

May 7, 2013

Purchase of the day.

From the May 6, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Silver Plated Shaving Soap Cup with Handle
By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want, pay nothing extra, and make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And only if you show us a note from your mother will we know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: silver-plated for his pleasure.

Are people laughing at Charles Ramsey?

And if so, is it racist? Or is the Slate blogger talking about "The Troubling Viral Trend of the 'Hilarious' Black Neighbor" the one who's channeling racism?

Here's our earlier discussion of this video, and what I see in the comments is admiration for the guy — for what he did and for his straight-talking. For example: "I loved this guy when I saw him interviewed. Straight, honest, and not an ounce of pc!"

"Judge rips Obama’s right-wing Plan B stance."

The headline at Salon. Text excerpts:
“It turns out that the same policies that President Bush followed were followed by President Obama,” said District Court Judge Edward Korman on Tuesday morning, in a charged and dramatic two-hour hearing in which the Obama administration defended its arbitrary policy to limit contraceptive access....

This morning, Korman repeatedly slammed his hand down on the table for emphasis, interrupting the government counsel’s every other sentence with assertions like, “You’re just playing games here,” “You’re making an intellectually dishonest argument,” “You’re basically lying,” “This whole thing is a charade,” “I’m entitled to say this is a lot of nonsense, am I not?” and “Contrary to the baloney you were giving me …” He also accused the administration of hypocrisy for opposing voter ID laws but being engaged in the “suppression of the rights of women” with the ID requirement for the drug....

“The irony is that I would be allowing what the FDA wanted. This has got to be one of the most unusual administrative law cases I have ever seen,” Korman said, adding, “I would have thought that on the day I handed down my decision, they would be drinking champagne at the FDA.”

At the Tulip Café...


... you can say what you want.

"I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them. I had an economic system imposed on me."

Said Lauryn Hill, in court. 

She also said: "Over-commercialisation and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual."

She's now in jail (for failing to pay $500,000 in taxes).

ADDED: Ideas that would work perfectly well in song lyrics can sound so wrong in court. The artist describes feelings, impressionistically. It's in no way an excuse or justification. But sometimes artists/politicos use court as a forum for expression without any expectation that it will advance their legal cause. One can intelligently and consciously eschew persuasion and victory.

"Lil Wayne Puts Mountain Dew in Crisis Mode."

"How much street cred is too much?"
The family [of 1955 murder victim Emmett Till] was not satisfied with [Lil Wayne's acknowledgement of the offense they took at his lyric likening Till's murder to sexual enthusiasm] and instead called for a meeting with executives at PepsiCo. At the same time, a publicist for the family said, they found an additional way to pressure Mountain Dew: to bring to public attention an offensive Mountain Dew video ad created by the hip-hop producer and rap artist known as Tyler, the Creator, that featured a battered white waitress, bandaged and on crutches, trying to identify her assailant from a lineup that included African-American men and a goat.
What niche of meaning does each particular soda occupy? The Mountain Dew brand was always transgressive:
"Mountain Dew" was originally Southern and/or Scots/Irish slang for moonshine (i.e., homemade whiskey).... Using it as the name for the soda was originally suggested by Carl E. Retzke at an Owens-Illinois Inc meeting in Toledo, Ohio, and was first trademarked by Ally and Barney Hartman in the 1940s. Early bottles and signage carried the reference forward by showing a cartoon-stylized mountaineer. 
Mountaineer? That's Wikipedia text. I guess someone edited "hillbilly," trying to get to something more decorous. To my ear, a "mountaineer" is "A person who engages in or is skilled at mountain climbing" — and that is the 5th definition in the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary. I'm surprised to see the first definition is: "A person who is native to or lives in a mountainous region; (occas.) such a person regarded as ignorant, uncivilized, or uneducated; (U.S.) a hillbilly." This usage goes back to Shakespeare:
a1616   Shakespeare Cymbeline (1623) iv. ii. 102   Yeeld, Rusticke Mountaineer.
a1616   Shakespeare Tempest (1623) iii. iii. 44   When wee were Boyes Who would beleeue that there were Mountayneeres, Dew-lapt [etc.].
The word "hillbilly" — "A person from a remote rural or mountainous area, esp. of the south-eastern U.S." — is only traced back to 1900:
1900   N.Y. Jrnl. 23 Apr. 2/5   In short, a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammelled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him.
Has anyone ever before written a blog post that went from Lil Wayne to Shakespeare so quickly? I don't know, but I'm interested in how the product's branding evolved from low-class white to low-class black. But the branding has always been low-class. How do you do that well and remain current when there are high-minded groups getting press, demanding apologies, stirring up outrage?

IN THE COMMENTS: richlb said:
...poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed...
All right, then. That settles it.

"Maker's Mark's Plain Dumb Move Proved To Be Pure Marketing Genius."

"Customers started hoarding what they were led to believe were to be the last 90-proof Maker’s bourbon bottles."

"Who is so devoted to the park, and to the rules of grammar..."

"... that he or she would break the law to correct these mistakes?"

"A chain-smoking former statistics professor named Vinny Bruzzese... has started to aggressively pitch a service he calls script evaluation."

"For as much as $20,000 per script, Mr. Bruzzese and a team of analysts compare the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success."
“Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,” Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. “If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”
Ironically, Bruzzese sounds like a villain in a movie about making movies. Cue the hisses and boos:
“This is my worst nightmare” said Ol Parker, a writer whose film credits include “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” “It’s the enemy of creativity, nothing more than an attempt to mimic that which has worked before. It can only result in an increasingly bland homogenization, a pell-mell rush for the middle of the road.”
Like any movie villain, he implores us to see it his way and sympathize:
“I understand that writing is an art, and I deeply respect that,” he said. “But the earlier you get in with testing and research, the more successful movies you will make.”...
“All screenwriters think their babies are beautiful,” he said, taking a chug of Diet Dr Pepper followed by a gulp of Diet Coke and a drag on a Camel. “I’m here to tell it like it is: Some babies are ugly.”
But as our villain delivers these lines, the heavy-handed moviemakers, who think we might be too dumb to get it, have him carry out ludicrous stage-business gestures — taking a chug of Diet Dr Pepper followed by a gulp of Diet Coke and a drag on a Camel — to make sure we understand he's the bad guy.

He's saying "Some babies are ugly," but he's ugly. Get it????!!!!

"Dame Helen Mirren was filmed on Saturday lambasting a troupe of drummers who played loudly in the street..."

"... outside her West End theatre while she was on stage. She poses for the cameras on Monday wearing a T-shirt supporting the drummers – but says she would shout at them again if they played outside the theatre while she was on stage."

Video of the original confrontation — with Mirren in costume as the Queen — here

In the video at the first link, we see Mirren making nice with the drummers, saying things like: "The irony is I love drumming and I love drummers."

From what I've seen over the years, drummers are the least self-aware of the street performers. They have the worst sense of how good they are, what they are contributing to the social space they occupy, how long and how repetitively one ought to go on, and whether anyone at all appreciates what they are doing.

And I'm not even talking about the drumming that goes on in a political protest, where it expresses anger, facilitates chanting, and is prolonged for the purpose of being annoying.

"Gatsby feels like a well-rehearsed classic in which the actors say their lines ably..."

"... but with no discernible feeling behind them."

ADDED: Rotten Tomatoes shows 38% good reviews.

"Why is Sarah Palin holding up a tin of chewing tobacco?"

"That’s what attendees at last weekend’s National Rifle Association convention in Houston might have asked if they weren’t paying close attention to the speeches."

Sarah Palin's prop comedy explained in The Christian Science Monitor, which seems to assume its readership is almost too dumb to be reading a newspaper in the first place.

"Rescued kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart said Wednesday she understands why some human trafficking victims don't run."

"Smart said she 'felt so dirty and so filthy' after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn't run 'because of that alone.'"

Remarks made at a Johns Hopkins event that predated the story of the escape of the Cleveland victims.
"I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value," Smart said. "Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value."

"Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and co-chair of 'PUNK: Chaos to Couture,' seemed to have interpreted 'punk' to mean 'charming English garden party' ..."

"...with this surprisingly upbeat Chanel creation. That's the great thing about being in charge. Themes don't apply to you."

Compare Madonna.

ADDED: The whole slideshow is amusing.

"Married high school teacher Jennifer Vigil, 31, allegedly pounced on her now 18-year-old victim at Pojoaque Valley High School..."

"... 'You're not leaving until I get something from you,' she reportedly threatened him."
He said he refused to have intercourse but agreed to let her perform oral sex so he could leave — taking a cellphone picture of the act which he later handed to police as evidence.

They then had sex some days later after Vigil dismissed a science class.

Vigil — married since July 2009 — told cops the "relationship" was consensual and says the student made the first move. But he claims he found the whole incident "disgusting."

"I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms."

"Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway."

"This means he’s running for president. He’s showing people he can get his weight in control. It was the one thing holding him back."

Chris Christie got stomach surgery to lose weight. This happened last February, and he went to some effort to keep it secret up until now.

If Christie runs, will a big weight loss after surgery help him be successful? free polls 

I only skimmed the article (cuz I detest Christie), but it sounded like he did it directly after he went on Letterman and did donut shots and said his weight was fine.

Which suggests he might be less than honest. Of course, his conduct in the last year or so also suggests that.
He also did an interview with Barbara Walters in December which engaged with the issue whether a very fat person can be President. I think those 2 performances were done to test public opinion and the surgery is evidence of the results of that test. There was the idea that perhaps people would think that being fat was endearing, humanizing, and part of his overall delightful personality. He went on 2 prominent shows, reaching different demographics, and — in so many words — made the argument for fat acceptance.

I assume internal polling was done, and he was forced to see that the "fat man" image wasn't going to work. He took action. Note that in March, the month after the surgery, he rolled out the saying "Fix it!" At the time, I made fun of him for using that slogan when he's the walking embodiment of the inability to fix something. In fact, when he was emoting for the Barbara Walters demographic, she asked him why he's fat, and he said: "If I could figure it out, I'd fix it."

"The Chief of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch of the U.S. Air Force..."

"... was arrested and charged with sexual battery in Arlington over the weekend."

WaPo's "Fact Checker" on about the Benghazi talking points.

Last fall, before the election, Glenn Kessler gave Susan Rice a mere 2 Pinocchios for her infamous 5-talk-shows delivery of the miserably wrong talking points on the Benghazi effect. More recently, he gave 4 Pinocchios to Darrell Issa for suggesting that Hillary Clinton's signature on a document means she approved it.
In his interview, Issa presented this as a “gotcha” moment, but it relies on an absurd understanding of the word “signature.” We concede that there might be some lingering questions — such as whether anyone in Clinton’s office saw this cable before it was issued — but that does not excuse using language that comes close to suggesting Clinton lied under oath.
Now, Kessler looks at the new information about the talking points:
The key new disclosure is that senior levels of the White House and State Department were closely involved in the rewriting of the talking points. Previously, Obama administration officials had strongly suggested that the talking points were developed almost exclusively by intelligence officials....

The biggest unknown is whether the “building leadership” in the State Department who objected to the initial talking points included anyone on Clinton’s immediate staff. (One presumes that nit-picking over wording would not have risen to Clinton’s level.) Certainly, someone senior made a call to the White House that resulted in quick action....

Clinton, during her testimony before the Senate and the House in January... stressed it was an “intelligence product” and said she was not involved in the “talking points process” and she “personally” was not focused on them — odd locutions that leaves open the possibility that she was aware of the internal debate at the time....

As more information emerges, we will continue to track how the administration’s statements hold up over time and whether more Pinocchio ratings are appropriate.
ADDED: As Instapundit puts it: "WaPo Fact-Checker Rowing Back Previous Support For Hillary, White House."

"You, hear me! Give this fire to that old man. Pull the black worm off the bark and give it to the mother. And no spitting in the ashes!"

"It’s an odd little speech. But if you went back 15,000 years and spoke these words to hunter-gatherers in Asia in any one of hundreds of modern languages, there is a chance they would understand at least some of what you were saying."

Ultraconserved words.

May 6, 2013

Treillage, take 2.

Chip Ahoy monkeys around with my picture from the Treillage Café:

The Formosan clouded leopard is extinct.

The last one probably died 100 years ago, but the announcement is new:
[Kurtis Pei, of National Pingtung University of Science and Technology’s Institute of Wildlife Conservation] and five other researchers set up cameras and catnip-baited hair traps, and trolled the jungle for the Formosan clouded leopards from 2000 to 2004, spending the time since then to analyze data in an area that was later made impassable by typhoons. The team took 16,000 photos in 400 spots, Pei says. They also looked for paw prints and fur. Still, despite their efforts, they found no trace of the meter-long cats named for their large cloudlike spots.

"An odd coalition of advocates for the needy, local retailers and big corporations..."

"... is opposing a fast-moving bill limiting junk food for food stamp recipients."
The proposal's lead sponsor, former potato chip salesman and state Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah), wants to require [Wisconsin] FoodShare recipients to use their taxpayer-funded benefits to buy more nutritious food. Kaufert said his bill makes sense as a response to the stories he hears from retail clerks and others about FoodShare benefits being used for large junk food purchases.
Stories he hears...
"It's wildly popular," Kaufert said of the bill. "It's one of those street or sidewalk issues where everyone has a story (about FoodShare problems)."
How about if we make all laws through this street-and-sidewalk approach? Junk food. Junk law. Junk everything!