July 27, 2013

Reel mowing a semi-circular lawn.

Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, tries to explain.

He objected to his own "complicity... on behalf of a government that openly acknowledges that it would hate for the law of Almighty Allah to be the supreme law of the land." He apologized to "the Mujahideen, the believers, and the innocent" and "ask[s] for their forgiveness for participating in the illegal and immoral aggression against Muslims, their religion and their lands." He wanted to be able to argue "defense of others" at trial, but the judge has denied that.
At a hearing earlier this month, Hasan, who is paralyzed from the abdomen down after being shot by police the day of the Fort Hood shooting, said he wanted jurors to know that he was being forced to wear a camouflage uniform that he believes represents 'an enemy of Islam.'
Is there some crazy notion about camouflage that he objects to or is this simply the main idea that he felt like a traitor to his religion by serving in the U.S. Army? When I first read this, I thought, is there some misreading of the camouflage pattern that is troubling some people? I looked around on line but found nothing, and I'm ready to assume that I was the one doing the misreading.

"Parkinson's itself there's nothing horrifying to me. It's not horrible."

"I don't think it's gothic nastiness. There's nothing on the surface horrible about someone with shaking hands," said Michael J. Fox, who will have a new sitcom in which he plays a dad who, of course, must have Parkinson's disease, since Fox has it. But the disease, we're told, won't be central to the plotlines.
"'The way I look at life and the reality of Parkinson's, sometimes it's frustrating and sometimes it's funny. I need to look at it that way and other people need to look at it that way."

Travel bloggers organizing travel bloggers to leverage travel blogging for travel.

It's not just the old problem of how to monetize your blog. It's the special travel blogger's problem of needing to pay for the raw material for your writing, and these people can barely talk about the problem of writing well (or usefully) about things they've been given free in anticipation of good publicity.

You have to get deeply into this NYT article to get to the really complicated commerce that made me write the post title above:
In order to make a go of it, some [travel bloggers have] contractual partnerships with outfitters like G Adventures, which created Wanderers in Residence in 2010. The program currently includes five bloggers, who lead tours, do speaking engagements and write blog posts for the company (the bloggers are compensated monthly)...

A different sort of outlet is IAmbassador, which [a travel blogger] started in 2011. The program...  organizes bloggers and pitches campaigns to tourism boards. There are now about 40 bloggers participating in the resulting sponsored trips, Mr. Jenkins said; he has also formed partnerships with travel blogging networks in Germany and Brazil.
I'm not a travel buff and I don't care about travel blogs or other travel writing, but I understand the appeal of real life activities with other bloggers and the desire to have good travel companions, and why shouldn't some bloggers make money organizing trips? It's just another form of packaged vacation, but part of the organizer's clout is some sort of offer of good press. Once the freebie is acquired, do the bloggers feel compelled to be nice? I'd be inclined to be the blogger who calls bullshit on the other bloggers on my tour who effused too much. Maybe I'd get banned (as a troll).


(From Irene.)

ADDED: I've added the "poodle" tag. Having blogged about breed-specific dog food today, I'm interested in my breed-specific tag. But only for poodles.

"Walter Cronkite hosted a special about Sinatra in 1965..."

"... and as part of that production, a CBS film crew was there for the recording of 'It Was A Very Good Year,'" writes an emailer who read yesterday's post about the Gordon Jenkin's record "Manhattan Tower."

Here's the video, in which you see a lot of Jenkins, conducting the orchestra, which is there in real time as Sinatra does the vocal:

Dachshund food.

I had no idea there was breed-specific dog food. But Dachshund food was one of the items bought through the Althouse Amazon portal yesterday. Whatever you need to buy — on whatever level of specificity — you can choose to enter Amazon through that link and thereby bark, howl, and yap your appreciation for this blog, where there's always another biscuit.

What if a black widow spider were to nest in a prisoner's dreadlocks?

That happened once. There might also be a fungus hidden in the hair-covered scalp. Weapons might be stowed in the hair, and guards searching for them by hand are afraid of getting cut by razor blades. Moreover, if a long-haired prisoner were to escape, he'd have a ready means of disguise: cut off that hair. These and other reasons were the "compelling interests" that worked for the government in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected a claim for a religious exemption to the no-long-hair policy in prison.

Did the Pope say "allow ourselves to be smitten" by the love of Jesus?

Last night's "Smitten by his love" post brought email from ddh:
Your suspicion that the Pope did not say "smitten" is correct. After an introductory paragraph in Portuguese, the Pope switched to his native Spanish and said, according to the Vatican:
Pero la Cruz invita también a dejarnos contagiar por este amor, nos enseña así a mirar siempre al otro con misericordia y amor, sobre todo a quien sufre, a quien tiene necesidad de ayuda, a quien espera una palabra, un gesto.
I translate this sentence as:

Nothing insectoid. It's not a theme day.

Purely canine:

That just happened.

When I was editing this, whenever Abby heard herself, she went into action as a guard dog, to protect us from the unseen threat, which was her in the movie. I had to put on headphones to finish.

Larvae Day.

After writing about larvae in my first 2 posts this morning, I go check out what's new at Instapundit, and the first post over there is about larvae — and not the same larvae. It's not as if some big larvae story hit the news overnight and everybody's got to talk about larvae.

If this were the first scene in a movie, this morning laughing about larvae would feel ominous, and within the next half hour, larvae would be threatening all of humanity.

The movie industry is "laying down too many big bets without anything else on the agenda."

Said Steven Gaydos, of Variety magazine. "They have to kick their dependency on $300m blockbusters. If they don't, they're going out of business." But it's not going to happen:
"Look at Comic-Con and then tell me if you think Hollywood is going to cut back on its comic-book dependency.... Look at how that event was covered by the critical establishment.... By and large, people are not looking for intelligent, edgy, mid-range movies. They're looking for superheroes and special effects. They're looking for amusement rides. They're like the kids in Pinocchio who still want to go to Pleasure Island. They're voting to be donkeys."

Coming up: Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Thor 2, Fantastic Four 3 and another Godzilla.

Looking at this from the distance — I am old, and I haven't gone to the movies in a year — I think: Good, I hope they fail. Why should I care if these studios collapse of their own rot? I try to summon up some empathy. In the last post, I was surprised by empathy for the soldier fly, bred inside a closed appliance for the purpose of food. (I refuse to consume non-free-range larvae.)

Who are the workers of Hollywood, that we should care? They seem quite awful. Maybe Hollywood should make more movies about the good people who work behind the scenes. A fantastic 4 of The Gaffer, The Grip, The Best Boy, and The Seamstress. We mainly see the snobbish bastards who — as movies have taught us — inspire our lust to gaze upon downfall.

A countertop kitchen appliance for growing your own insects, to be used as food.

University of Vienna grad designer Katarina Unger has invented Unger's Farm 432:
... a small-scale fly incubator... which "enables people to turn against the dysfunctional system of current meat production by growing their own protein source." In particular, Unger focused on black soldier fly larvae as her research showed that they are the most efficient insect converters of protein at 42 percent, plus a lot of calcium and amino acids.

The video is so good — with its cheer-inducing music — that instead of feeling disgust at the idea of eating the larvae, I felt empathy for the li'l guys, which is a whole other reason to stick to steak.

July 26, 2013

"Smitten by his love."

"The cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness," said Pope Francis, in Brazil. I don't think he was speaking English. But... smitten.

It's just the past participle of "smite," which is a strange old word that we associate with God striking someone dead. We think of it used comically, affecting an old-time locution.

"I’m just asking you to wrap your mind around that, wrap your mind around: No prom for Trayvon."

"No high school graduation for Trayvon. No college for Trayvon. No grandkids coming from Trayvon, all because of a law, a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable and to pay for his awful crime."

That's terribly sad, but what law? George Zimmerman was acquitted because of the due process law that requires the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and I don't think Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton means to attack that law. There's something sickening about seeing this poor woman wheeled about in her tragedy to mouth words of attack on the Stand Your Ground law that had nothing to do with Zimmerman's acquittal. Subjectively, perhaps Ms. Fulton gets satisfaction, but those who are using her should be identified, shamed, and denounced.

What happens when the under-the-desk spot is invaded by Pony Dog?

Records From My Father, Part 4: "Manhattan Tower."

I had made my selection for the next entry in the Records From My Father series before doing that last blog post, showing the New Yorker cover making an Anthony Weiner phallic joke out of the Empire State Building. Here's the album cover for "Manhattan Tower," showing the Chrysler Building.


This record might be the polar opposite of a Weiner sext. It's very grand and striving, with lush orchestration, florid singing, and spoken narration. It acts like it's telling a momentous love story, a story that could only happen in New York City, a story on the scale of the Manhattan skyscrapers, but there's nothing important at all about Steve and Julie, who meet in a bar, go to a few New York places, and then separate. This was very hard to sit through, and I have a hard time believing my father found it too amusing.

The Anthony Weiner New Yorker cover.


"When I showed my cervix to 40,000 people on stage with Public cervix announcement..."

"... it was a loving gesture; it wasn’t about shocking people or turning people on."

Death penalty for killing an unborn child?

We won't find out in the Ariel Castro case whether it's legal to impose the death penalty for causing the death of a fetus, because he's pleaded guilty and received the sentence of life in prison plus 1,000 years.

"Why don't men pursue women anymore?"

A question someone Googled, which brought them to this old blog post of mine, which links to a 2006 NYT Magazine article that I remember very well. Coincidentally, I had reread that post a couple days ago and had been wanting to re-blog it.  My post title is a quote from the article: "Men don’t marry because women like myself don't need to rely on them." I'd said:

Call me Carmela Calamity.

What's your name?

"Sweetie, we don’t mean to alarm you..."

"... but there is smoke positively pouring out of your vagina."

(No, this isn't Monica Lewinsky theme day on the blog. Despite 2 earlier posts today on Lewinsky and despite the cigar thing, I'm quoting a caption to a photograph in a recap of last night's "Project Runway." Click through. I guarantee a laugh.)

"Self-esteem. This organ is situated at the vertex or top of the head..."

"... a little above the posterior or sagittal angle of the parietal bones."

In phrenology, self-esteem is: "One of the mental faculties with which an ‘organ’ or ‘bump’ in the cranium is associated; the ‘bump’ itself." That's from the (unlinkable) OED, where I was looking up "self-esteem," after blogging about Monica Lewinsky's 40th birthday and cherry-picking the old Barbara Walters prompt "Where was your self-esteem?"

Monica, had she known phrenology, might have said: Where? It's at the top of my head, of course, a little above the posterior or sagittal angle of the parietal bones.

Too bad I don't have comments or you could supply me with the jokes about Clinton's "organ" and the location of his self-esteem. I won't go there, other than to say that I see that one could. I've got lofty plans for the direction of this blog post.

"That's not a plot hole. Allow me to explain."

Scott Ney explains the movie device of having the characters themselves take note of the plot hole you the audience member are going to notice so there can be dialogue bullshitting about why it actually should not be viewed as a plot hole. This device, once you start noticing it, is much more irritating than the plot holes you might have been able to ignore.
I first noticed this tactic being employed in... "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" [which goes into] underworld to rescue Jack Sparrow, following his death at the climax of "Dead Man's Chest." Since that film ended with Captain Barbossa's resurrection, courtesy of voodoo priestess Tia Dalma, two comic relief sidekicks can't help but inquire, as anyone in the audience who's even kept track of the plot might as well, why she didn't apply the same treatment to Captain Jack? Ah, she answers, but Barbossa was only dead in spirit, his body still earthbound, while Jack has gone to the other side body and soul....
Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
God, this drives me nuts. The last Star Trek film was full of it. Like ten minutes in, when Scotty was freaking out about how being underwater would wreck the Enterprise, I leaned over to my husband and said, "Pointing out how stupid this is doesn't excuse how stupid this is."
And here's every question Ellen Page asks in "Inception":

Kitty Tongue, the Glove.

"Just like the surface of a cat's tongue: gentle, gradual and soothing grooming action."

That's something someone bought through my Amazon portal yesterday. Please consider giving me some gentle, gradual and soothing grooming action by doing whatever shopping you may have today through that link. Hear my loud purrs of gratitude for all who stroked me thusly Thursday.

"I failed for a long time in this project.... In some ways, really poor places are quite easy to photograph...."

The photographer, Aaron Huey, realizes he must take a point of view. The result is, of course, propaganda. Beautiful propaganda.

Imagine if he'd chosen a different point of view. What would that propaganda have looked like?

Clearly, from the artistic perspective, Huey chose the best point of view.

Tallness correlates with cancer?

"After all, cancer is basically uncontrolled growth, so factors that simulate developmental growth may extend to it as well."

The God Dog Can't Look Up.

"Where was your self-esteem?"

That's the question Barbara Walters asked Monica Lewinsky in 1999, I'm reading this morning as I belatedly catch up on the news that Lewinsky — once famously young — has passed through the portal into middle age and is 40.

I don't remember what her answer was, but here's something she could have said: My self-esteem was sky high. I was having sex — yes, sex, sex, sex, it sure as hell was sex — with the President of the fucking United States. How about you, Babs?

In 2008, Walters would tattle on herself in a memoir:
["Audition: A Memoir"] includes all the affairs she had – when she was married, when she was single with married men, and when she was single with men you might consider fug who happened to be powerful. Walters promoted the book by confessing to Oprah of an affair 30 years ago with married US senator Edward Brooke. Brooke’s wife passed away 13 years ago, and... an insider claims “she hated Barbara Walters till the day she died” and blamed her for their divorce.
So Senator for Walters. Lewinsky had the President. But then Walters also had Alan Greenspan. She spanned Greenspan:

Self-esteem. It's a highly nuanced topic, but I will nevertheless reduce it to this simple poll.

Who had more self-esteem?
pollcode.com free polls 

How can you expect to edit your own life, when it's "just life," with "lots of twists"?

"I've found the perfect woman. Gorgeous, sexy and like a bit of crazy."

Texted Anthony Weiner to Sydney Leathers. I imagine that about what Bill Clinton might have thought about Monica Lewinsky. Oh, these men who marry excellent wives and then find there's not enough sex and — more perversely — none of the old crazy.

That made me think about the old political phrase "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty." It was an attack, not a description of the perfect woman. Here's David Brock explaining the phrase:
If [Clarence] Thomas was completely innocent, Anita Hill would have had to be insane to go on national television and tell a lie under oath. Grasping for an explanation of the inexplicable, doing everything I could to ruin Hill's credibility, I took a scattershot approach, dumping virtually every derogatory—and often contradictory—allegation I had collected on Hill from the Thomas camp into the mix.... She was, in my words, "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty."...

Some conservative friends... did warn me quietly that the "little bit nutty and a little bit slutty" line, a reference to the classic nuts-and-sluts defense in sexual harassment cases, was in poor taste, or at least politically foolish, in that it handed my critics a club with which to beat me. The phrase certainly stuck, and it would be unearthed and brandished in my face in all future controversies over my work... I had fallen in with radicals of the Gingrich-Limbaugh stripe. After all, how far was the "nutty/slutty" line from Newt's rants about the "grotesque" and "sick" Democrats, or Limbaugh's slurs on blacks and women?
What works as an attack on a woman's fitness for public life is also a description of the perfect woman.

My Imaginary Reader gasps and splutters out: Different times, different parties, different purposes.

Have I made you uncomfortable enough to call me crazy?

July 25, 2013

Why isn't your dress...

... a boat?

Someone's a hot knife and someone's a pat of butter.

Not sure which is which, but this is Fiona Apple:

(Buy it.)

How to dress your hair like Empress Plotina.

I'm loving this hair archaeology by Janet Stephens:

Here's her YouTube channel. I'm going to watch everything, but I wanted you to see this. She's figured out how to replicate the hairstyles that you see in the art of ancient Roman, using the historical tools.

Abby, today.


(For video of Abby today, go here.)

ADDED: Compare this very similar shot of Abby last February.

I'm inviting comments, filtered by moderation...

... for the posts in my "Records From My Father" series. As described in Part 1:

Records From My Father, Part 3: "Memories Are Made of This."

For Part 3 of this series, I chose "Memories Are Made of This," a 1960 album by Ray Conniff/His Orchestra and Chorus. This is extremely, possibly insanely cheerful music.


There are vocals, but no words, indeed, no individuality. We hear blended voices bopping along, making "ba" and "ah" sounds, as if they were another section of the orchestra, a section less important then the trumpets which get way out in front at times. Whoa! Settle down, you might want to say to Doc Severinson, blaring out in "Three Coins in the Fountain."

The idea is to take "biggest hits of the past ten years" — like "Three Coins" — and put them through the Conniff-grinder, which processes familiar songs into bright, incredibly perky instrumentals. Check out "Tammy."

My favorite rendition was "Unchained Melody," which you can listen to here. If you're used to The Righteous Brothers' achingly soulful version, you might find this hilarious or awesomely refreshing. Since, as noted, the words are never sung, you can use this as a karaoke background track, perhaps inspired to revise the words to fit the very cheerful instrumentation:
Time goes by so quickly
But time can't mean too much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
If not your love
Some other love for me!
Oh, my love, my darling
I'm hungry for some lunch
It is lunch tiiiiiime!
Like both of my parents, Ray Conniff served in the U.S. Army in World War II.  I was 9 years old when this album came out, and I conveniently avoided living through the Depression and WWII, so I was in no position to understand the emotional impact this music had on the people it was designed for. When I look at the 1960 Top 100, I remember liking "The Twist," "Cathy's Clown," "Running Bear," "Puppy Love," "Ally-oop," "Chain Gang," and "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini." I liked the singers and the words of these songs (whether I knew what a chain gang was or not, I got "Give me water! I'm thirsty!").

But my father enjoyed the wordless Conniff, who explained his musical revelation like this:
"One time I was recording an album with Mitch Miller - we had a big band and a small choir. I decided to have the choir sing along with the big band using wordless lyrics. The women were doubled with the trumpets and the men were doubled with the trombones. In the booth Mitch was totally surprised and excited at how well it worked."
I love the front cover of "Memories Are Made of This." That lady in what we used to call a bulky knit sweater is charmed by her charm bracelet. But the back cover is pretty dull, so I'm hiding it below the jump:


The back covers for albums often had, like this, advertisements for other albums. In this case, lots of other albums by Ray Conniff. When I finally got around to buying my own record albums — this was my first — in 1962, I did not like seeing any ads for records my father might buy. I wanted clear separation from the things that were his and the things that were mine. In the 1960s, this was called the "generation gap." This series, "Records From My Father," is a belated effort to bridge that gap.

"Psychopaths do not lack empathy, rather they can switch it on at will..."

"... according to new research."
Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterised by superficial charm, pathological lying and a diminished capacity for remorse. Now scientists have found that only when asked to empathise did the criminals' empathy reaction, also known as the mirror system, fire up the same way as it did for the controls. Without instruction, they show reduced activity in the regions of the brain associated with pain.
I'll remember this next time I'm contemplating whether it's worth the effort to beg for mercy. I've always assumed that asking for empathy would only heighten whatever thrill the monster was obtaining from the attack.

Baked Into the Dog Cake.

Continued carnage by pro executioners.

After yesterday's post about the The Executioner PRO Fly Swat Wasp Bug Mosquito Swatter Zapper, I see that 4 of you readers decided to step up and get your wasp-swatting done. And that's just those of you who bought your executioner's tools through the Althouse Amazon portal.

And here's Meade's recommended reel mower... and here's the fancy Fiskars mower he's contemplating. Meade assures me all the unusual looking parts are functional. It does have less of the classic look that's functional when your enterprise is making romanticized photographs.

"I remember my father's reel mower," I say. "It had a wooden handle."

Meade moves the headphones off his ears — he's listening to "Brokedown Palace" — and I repeat myself. He says: "Oh, yeah. I would love to have one of those."

Ebay? Nah. All the wooden-handled reel mowers seem to have the words "antique" and "vintage" attached to them, like you're just supposed to lean them up against the wall for decoration in your brokedown palace.
Fare you well, my honey, fare you well, my only true one.
All the birds that were singing are flown, except you alone.
Cue to my exiled commenters to say Althouse is mourning the loss of all the commenters.
Going to leave this brokedown palace,
On my hands and my knees, I will roll, roll, roll.
Make myself a bed by the waterside,
In my time, in my time, I will roll, roll, roll.

78 dead as a high-speed train leaps off the tracks.

In Spain.
Video footage showed carriages crumpled and lying on their side. Almost all those who perished were found dead on the scene, in an indication of the force of the derailment. A local official likened the scene to Dante’s "Inferno."
I'm blogging this because it's not an atypical incident and because too many people in America have unrealistic, idealized notions of the goodness of trains and their capacity to whisk everyone around everywhere at high speed. 

"We were all sort of awestruck because her body looked amazing.... She looked just as comfortable in Manolos as she does when she was about to ski."

Says a Vogue editor, pushing the August issue.
The powerful, sexy image of [Lindsey] Vonn skiing on a hotel table, which appears in the August issue of Vogue, is just the latest notch in her stylish belt. In the past few months, the Olympic gold medalist has catapulted onto the fashion scene like she was jumping out of the starting gates.

With her svelte, 5-foot-10 figure and gorgeous blond mane, insiders say Vonn is poised to make a sports-to-fashion crossover....
Where does the competition end? The relationship with Tiger Woods is part of sexing her up for general celebrityhood, right?
That Woods, who was disgraced for cheating on his wife with a string of hookers, porn stars and waitresses, could be considered by Vonn to be an excellent suitor was shocking to some. Until that point, she had been perceived as a wholesome, all-American girl. But clearly she was ready for change in her life.
Win win.

"I'm trying my best not to be cynical, but: Is subtracting context par for the course for NYT editorialists?"

"In this case it was almost as if the columnist was so eager to seize upon the Godwin's reference that she failed to even attempt to comprehend why Scalia said what he did, and instead relied on knee-jerk preconceptions to inform her judgement. If that's not the epitome of bias there, I don't know what is."

A comment, at an Instapundit post about my supplying the NYT with the context it missed. But I only had the context because when I wrote about the NYT piece, someone who was at the conference emailed me with a detailed account. That information wanted to be heard, and somehow I was the portal for it. I think the NYT had to be actively looking for crap to throw at Scalia and keeping its door shut to the flow of information. And I think my blogging the context only resulted in a correction because it was picked up by the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, and that got the NYT's attention, but initially only to try to shrug off the problem:
Only joking. Ha ha. Get it. Joking about the Holocaust. Heh heh. What's the problem?

Taranto kept up the pressure:
"Ahhh, I did not realize your post was comedy!" And the NYT thought better of its don't-you-get-the-Holocaust-jokes stance and put up the correction.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall, the other target of Taranto's tweet, stood his ground: "Again, anything in the Althouse post that in any way contradicts my post? Or are you just trolling?" And: "Hey Jim, You might want to read what I actually wrote since nothing in that post contradicts it." That is: So what if I left out the context as long as I didn't have any incorrect statements?

Context is a funny topic. Remember when Andrew Breitbart was pilloried for quoting Shirley Sherrod out of context?

Context itself must be understood in context.
If your rules about putting quotes in context depend on whether you're quoting people you like or people you hate, then you are a hack. I think both Marshall and Lapidos showed themselves to be hacks here, but at least Lapidos or the organization that controls her is ashamed when exposed and tries to cover its tracks. Marshall is out and proud.

"He once described himself to me as an argumentative, perpetually horny, middle-aged man — and that’s completely correct."

Said Sydney Leathers — if that really is her name — about Carlos Danger — which is the dorky and possibly anti-Hispanic name Anthony Weiner devised for himself.
Leathers said after meeting on Facebook last summer, their private chats turned from politics to steamy sex almost instantly.

“I had messaged him, he poked me, we started talking a lot, became Facebook friends and started talking on other, more private channels,” she said. “It quickly got sexual, obviously. Which is strange. I was disappointed in him [in 2011], I thought he was a better man.”
People have some strange ideas about what's strange. And they also lie — even to themselves — about what's strange.
“Anthony Weiner was not good at phone sex,” said [TheDirty.com editor Nik] Richie, quoting Leathers. “[He] would orgasm in 30 seconds.”
It depends on what the meaning of "good" is. We are talking about phone sex. Some people hate long telephone calls. You can never get off the phone. They'll talk your ear off. But when Carlos Danger was on the phone, Leathers would never have to think I don't have time for this. It could always be simply Good old Carlos, what a funny, fast talker, and quite efficient at getting what he wants. But then he didn't call anymore. Sads!

Then: I'll finally get my satisfaction. I can be famous. Hey, journalist boys! I've got a story for you!

ADDED: I had the wrong link before. Fixed.

"What's up with Cleveland?"

"Why so many high-profile crimes in such a short span? Why such violence against the metro area's women?"
Cleveland's police department declined a CNN request to talk about the recent crimes. But to those who study the city, some patterns do emerge: crushing poverty, dehumanizing unemployment and thousands of tumbledown vacant homes -- ideal places to rape and kill in the shadows.

"I hate to say this, but in a sense, to a large degree, we have an underclass in the city of Cleveland of those that truly are disconnected from the social fabric, from the mainstream economy and society," said Ronnie Dunn, an urban studies professor at Cleveland State University. "They're left without anything to grasp onto."
Who are "they"? The murder rate in Cleveland is lower than in Baltimore and Detroit, but the rape rate is more than double that of Baltimore or Detroit.

July 24, 2013

Madison, today.


"Is this really the message we want to send to the rest of the world? That this is Wisconsin? A place where people can’t come and express themselves in their state capitol? That’s bologna."

So said state senator Bob Jauch, about the arrest of 22 of the "Solidarity Singers," for singing in the Wisconsin Capitol building without a permit. This singing has been a regular event since the big protests in 2011. The arrests followed a singalong that defied the police chief's message — posted on a sign — "I have determined that your group does not have the required permits. I am declaring this an unlawful event. Please either move outside or disperse immediately. If you do not, each participant is subject to arrest."

By the way, I think it's funny to write "That’s bologna." Normally, one sees the spelling "baloney," when the reference is to humbug/nonsense. My authority is the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary, which gives the alternative "boloney."

"I have no way of knowing whether Huma, for whom I have great respect, is responding out of new motherhood, the Stockholm syndrome or a mystery."

Said Gloria Steinem, quoted in a NYT piece called "Many New York Women Are Baffled at Loyalty Shown by Weiner’s Wife."

Why puzzle? Go with the simplest solution: They had an understanding. Must I explain the world to Gloria Steinem? I doubt it. I believe she is bullshitting, because what is the basis for having "great respect" for Huma Abedin? None!

And it's perfectly silly to say "Stockholm syndrome."
Stockholm syndrome, or capture–bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. 
A wife is not a hostage! She's someone who chose a life mate and voluntarily made vows to stand by him.  Transferring that concept onto marriage is ridiculous (unless there's some actual imprisonment going on).

Death in "a gallery of gruesomely twisted sandstone, resembling deformed pillars, cones, mushrooms and other odd creations..."

"… with the unique blending of color twisted in the rock, creating a dramatic rainbow of pastel yellows, pinks and reds."


The baby — the baby! — is named George.

My brother, who was born in 1954, was named George — after my father's father. My mother always said she found it very hard to accept George as the name for a baby. It seemed like something you'd call an old man.

In America, hearing the name George, perhaps we think of George Bush or George Washington or — since we've lost our mind — George Zimmerman.

But in England, "It is a very, very royal name," according to some "royal historian" quoted at the link.

Yeah, King George.

Which reminds me. We fought a revolution. We don't have to pay any attention to this nonsense.

"Is there a section at the bottom for comments?"

A New Yorker cartoon, pointed out by a reader, who's observed the end of commenting on this blog.

The return of a reader who had stayed away because it "became apparent that your blog had been held hostage by repetitive, inane, banal and ad hominem comments."

Here's some interesting email:
I have been a very long time reader and admirer. I just learned yesterday via Instapundit that you closed comments.


"Ann - love you, Meade, the blog, the dogs, bikes, travel, food, photos, etc., etc."

"Veeerrry long time daily reader, long time lawyer too, first time emailer. Don't care comments or not.  I really must remember better to follow the Amazon portal. This is the song.  Lyrics.  Video."

ADDED: That was email from Gary in Colorado.

The NYT accepts my correction on its attack on Justice Scalia.

Juliet Lapidos's item on the NYT Editorial Page Editor's Blog, titled "Scalia’s Latest Outburst," has an update added this morning:
Ann Althouse puts Justice Scalia’s remarks in context. He spoke on day 3 of a convention. The day before, William F. Meinecke of the Holocaust Memorial Museum gave a presentation on law, justice and the holocaust. Justice Scalia’s musings appear to have grown out of that talk. The Godwin’s Law joke, then, was inapt.

Edward Snowden's Russian lawyer said "he has brought several books for Snowden to read, including... Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel 'Crime and Punishment.'"

"The novel is about the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of a poor ex-student who kills a pawnbroker for her cash, and [the lawyer] said Snowden might find it interesting. But the lawyer added: 'I'm not implying he's going through a similar mental anguish.'"

Krapp's Last Webdesign.

Ah, well!

ADDED: I arrived at that very retro site because I wanted a link for the "Yesterday!" in the previous post. I felt like I remembered Krapp exclaiming "Yesterday!," But the Beckett play with all the "yesterdays" — though not quite the exclamation I feel I remember — is "Waiting For Godot," which I figured out after buying, in Kindle, "The Complete Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett," and doing a search.
VLADIMIR: We met yesterday. (Silence.) Do you not remember?

POZZO: I don’t remember having met anyone yesterday. But to-morrow I won’t remember having met anyone to-day. So don’t count on me to enlighten you.

The point of view shot.

Right now:


Some people wear paper slippers. I wear dog slippers. But you can't be shuffling around in your slippers indoors all day, even when it seems that there is always one more blog post to be blogged. I remember yesterday:



There's road ahead:


ADDED: Meade takes a point-of-view shot:


"President Barack Obama today is giving the first of several speeches this summer that he hopes will get people talking about the economy."

That's "breaking news" according to CNN email.

Obama is giving a speech. He's talking again. It's all about the talk.

And yet... having just said what I said about Jesus... I'm struck mute. 

What did Jesus do during the "unknown" — or "lost" or "silent" — years, between the ages of 12 and 30?

Here's a Wikipedia article on this gap in the Biblical record, which seems to invite speculation:
Some Arthurian legends hold that Jesus traveled to Britain as a boy, lived at Priddy in the Mendips, and built the first wattle cabin at Glastonbury. William Blake's early 19th century poem And did those feet in ancient time was inspired by the story of Jesus traveling to Britain. ...
In 1908 Levi H. Dowling published the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ which he claimed was channeled to him by a supernatural being called "Akashic Records" as the true story of the life of Jesus, including "the 'lost' eighteen years silent in the New Testament." The narrative follows the young Jesus across India, Tibet, Persia, Assyria, Greece and Egypt....
The usual story is that he "simply lived in Galilee during that period."

"When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing?" asked Anthony Weiner.

I know what you're thinking, but — and this is from March 2011, when Weiner was still a Congressman and while in the presence of Mayor Bloomberg — he said: "I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes."

I got there this morning via Dan Savage, because I wanted to react to the current denouncements of Weiner, and I knew Savage had written in support of Weiner. On his podcast, he'd said something like: All your kids are already sexting constantly, and you'd better adjust, the sooner the better, to a future in which everybody's going to have pictures like that out there. Here's some relevant Savage writing (from before Weiner resigned):
While I hope Weiner comes clean, I hope [he] comes out swinging: He didn't do anything wrong, he didn't do anything millions of other Americans aren't also doing, he didn't break any laws. His privacy has been invaded. He's being attacked. He is the victim here. And if doing what Weiner has done disqualifies a person from public life, there won't be anyone qualified to be [in] public life in ten years time save the Amish.

"Sell Ryan Braun to the highest bidder. Unload him. The Brewers own the rights to the lying doper for several more years..."

"... so they should be able to get some value. Yeah, the disgraced left fielder could veto the trade, but he won’t.... 'Braun, you’re through in Milwaukee. I can’t stand the sight of you, now get out!'"

What do you think of when you hear this phrase: "institutional flip-flops"?

I ask Meade, as I'm reading this op-ed by Cass Sunstein, that begins:
What are the legitimate powers of the president? Of Congress? Some people’s answers to these enduring questions seem to shift dramatically depending on a single (and seemingly irrelevant) fact: whether the current president is a Democrat or a Republican. These shifts amount to “institutional flip-flops,” a defining feature of modern political life.

In recent weeks, the filibuster has been the most prominent example...
Meade says:
I'm picturing the characters in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," shuffling about in paper slippers...
He demonstrates the drugged mental-patient walk.

Sunstein recommends the "veil of ignorance" as a solution to "institutional flip-flops." He's actually saying something smart, so smart it feels obvious and mundane at the point when you understand. You're all: Everybody already knows that. I'm distracted by the accidental metaphor "institutional flip-flops" — I know he didn't mean to make us think about footwear — which is intensified by the old intentional metaphor "veil of ignorance."

The veil goes over your face and puts a barrier between your eyes and the world you'd otherwise see, and the flip-flops go up between your toes and put a barrier between the soles of your feet and the ground they would otherwise come into contact with, not that the filth of wherever it is your walking doesn't rage up and contaminate the insole.


I'm distracted by the concrete.

I could tell she was a lefty from the way she wrote the ampersand.

Here's a woman at a pro-Zimmerman rally, giving the pro-Zimms bad PR:

Was anyone fooled by that? I hope not, but Renee Vaughan — an Austin activist — is getting reamed for her evil prank. Instapundit says:
Her name is Renee Vaughan. Her employer, the Texas Campaign For The Environment, has also apologized. Nonetheless, I hope the picture of her standing with a sign reading "We’re Racist And Proud" winds up being tagged to both....
It's a harsh consequence to become — for all time, on the web — Renee "Racist and Proud" Vaughan. She's apologized — sorry she got busted. You know how apologies are. But I doubt that she'd be sorry if her trick had worked and amplified the legend of the racism of Zimmerman and his defenders.

It's entirely fitting that her name should be forever linked to the motto "Racist and Proud," because that isn't a lie. It's true. It is racist to press the racism template onto the Zimmerman story, and it is done with full intent to stimulate feelings of race-based anxiety in vulnerable minds. That is heartless and evil.

Remedial reading: "How to write ampersands by hand." Images here. Most useful comparison:

Left and right. Learn your American shibboleths.

The Executioner PRO Fly Swat Wasp Bug Mosquito Swatter Zapper.

Is this a sport? Is it wrong?

Of all the things bought at Amazon through the Althouse Amazon Portal yesterday, that's the one that caught my eye... and kind of scared me.

Remember: When you swat at the wasp, you must kill him.

And: Thanks to all who do their shopping through the Althouse Amazon Portal. It feels like a vote of confidence in this blog and inspires me ever onward, swatting (if not executing) all manner of insectoid foolishness found on the web.

Why I pay to get through the paywall at the NYT but not the Washington Post.

I'm looking for material to link to from this blog, and if I link to the NYT, my readers can click through to the article without hitting the paywall. That doesn't happen at the Washington Post, so I don't want to spend time reading there. Before WaPo put up the paywall, I had not subscribed to the NYT. I had migrated over to the Washington Post to find material that wasn't obstructed. But when the Post put up the paywall that blocks readers arriving at specific pages through links, it sent me back to the NYT, where I subscribed.

It's one thing to have a paywall, quite another to have a link-deflecting paywall.

A song for lawn boy.

Yesterday's post showing Lawnmaster Meade deploying the reel mower prompts a reader to send a link to this song by Otis Lee Crenshaw.
Well, ladies and gentlemen you know we all miss Elvis, you know we do deep inside, and all the other musicians like Hank and Janis and Jimmy and . . . for every musician who passed on up to heaven, generally due to poor physical maintenance there's another musician whose died and gone to heaven due to lawn and garden accidents. That's right. Quite a handful of them actually, like the drummer for Toto, God how we miss him. Jeff Porcaro was his name, who died just spraying weeds in his own backyard. Or Merle Watson, the great bluegrass guitarist who passed away in a similar agriculture related accident. Nobody's ever gonna write a song about these gentlemen so we thought we would. This is for all the men who fought the lawn . . . and the lawn won....
(Full text of lyrics here.)

"I have been giving your new no-comments policy a lot of thought since it was implemented."

Emails a long-time reader:
Like most people, I don't respond well to change, and when I found that my favorite online haunt was no longer the nouveau salon that I had come to love, I was taken aback.

The problem for me, first, is that so many of your posts literally invite comments. You write, presenting an event or a situation, and then you comment, and then you question.  You write to provoke thought, and I love that about your blog. But now that comments are turned off, I am much less inclined to take the time to think, because there is no place for me to respond. I still read every post, but I don't think about them as much.

Second, I miss the opportunity to say thank you for posts like one today with Meade giving advice about the mower. I know, I can send an email, but I think it's nice to be appreciative (and appreciated) publicly, and email is private.

My experience of Althouse blog is sadly diminished.
I still read every post, but I don't think about them as much. Here's something to think about, even though you won't think as much. Why don't you think as much? In the old days, when you read books — imagine the greatest books you ever read — did you say to yourself This is all very thought provoking, but unless I can immediately jot down the thoughts it provokes in me, in a place where the author and other readers can see it, I'm really not inclined to pursue those thoughts?

There is a place for your thoughts. It's really the only place for your thoughts: Your head. Do you think What's the point of that, thoughts just in my head, not immediately strewn under the writings of the author who made me think of something just now?

Human connection is valuable, but why must it come — why is it considered better — in the form of immediate expression in response to whatever provoked a thought? I understand the love of spontaneous interaction (and I maintained the "nouveau salon" for 9 years). But there are other time-lines to relationships. There is slowness and gestation. There is the thought as it exists in the purely intimate space of your own head. There is turning to your own writing, in your own place (not the author's). And there is finding another human being to talk to... perhaps about a blog post you read somewhere this morning.

July 23, 2013

Questions for Lawnboy.

A reader emails:
I have a reel mower and would love to benefit from Meade's great wisdom. Does he have a favorite kind? 
He recommends this.
How does he keep the blades sharp?

Scott Walker is disappointed in Ryan Braun.

"It was bad enough that he broke the rules, but the fact that he didn't immediately fess up to it, that he dragged it all out... It's not just what he did, it's that he strung us out for so long."
He said Braun seemed to him to be the all-American guy, soft-spoken, not too cocky.

"All the more reason why it's disappointing," Walker said.
Forgiveness? It's going to take "a long time."

The incorrigible Weiner kept sexting even after his resignation from Congress.

New texts and pics have gone up on line, forcing Weiner to do an emergency press conference.

Huma was by his side:
And in her first public remarks on the scandal, a clearly nervous Abedin said it took “a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy” to put her marriage back together.

"It was not an easy choice in any way but I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage,” she said. “I didn’t know how it would work out but I did know that I wanted to give it a try. I love him. I have forgiven him. I believe in him.... And, as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”
They're a power couple, yoked for power. Of course, they move forward. It's not that complicated. I don't even believe they indulged in "a whole lot of therapy."

They call him "Lawnboy."

People try to put him down.


Just because he mows around.


Things they do look awful cold.


As summer turns to orange from gold.


"Heather Barnes, 20... was on a school trip and decided to do some early-morning coral collecting when her leg cramped..."

"... and the tide pulled her away from the reef, starting a 16-hour nightmare that would leave Barnes hallucinating from dehydration with severe sunburns, jellyfish stings and blisters."
At first Barnes thought it would be safer to try and stay in the same place, thinking that her group would soon notice her missing and send search and rescue crews after her. After two hours of idling and no sign of other life, she decided she would have to swim back herself....

'It's kind of strange because even when I didn't feel like I was strong enough, there was enough of me that still wanted to keep going. It didn't seem like a choice. I just - I had to keep going,' Barnes told....
Young women, swimming for their lives... it's a theme this week, along with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge plunger.

"A crowbar, a candle, stale bread, dried beans, an iron spike, a drill, a stick with a cloth on the end of it, a bag of sand – and crucially, a tortoise."

The toolkit of a "secretive and highly organised group of medieval burglars" called The Banu Sasan.
"The tortoise is employed thus. The burglar has with him a flint-stone and a candle about as big as a little finger. He lights the candle and sticks it on the tortoise’s back. The tortoise is then introduced through the breach into the house, and it crawls slowly around, thereby illuminating the house and its contents."

Once the tortoise had been set up, the burglar employed his bag of sand to check for sleeping inhabitants elsewhere in the house. He would throw out handfuls of sand at intervals, and if no one stirred he entered the house.... [T]he burglar might chew noisily on some stale bread and beans to impersonate a cat eating a rat or mouse so as not alarm any sleeping people in the house.
That worked in the Middle Ages, apparently, when people practiced the art of sleeping through the maraudings of mice.

"The family rescued by George Zimmerman after a rollover crash in Florida are terrified they will become targets for hate mobs."

"Mark and Dana Michelle Gerstle told friends they do not want to talk publicly about Zimmerman for fear they will be accused of portraying him as a hero — and face a backlash from those who consider he got away with murder. 'They are very grateful to Zimmerman for what he did, but they do not want to get involved,' said a friend, who asked not to be named."

This is a great origin story for a superhero. This is why he needs a costume... with a mask... if he wants to roam around finding people who need help and rushing to the rescue.

Who was that masked man? people will ask.

The answer will be: He was that man that all the important people called a racist, and they wanted to see him put away for a long, long time, but the jury — following the judge's instructions to adhere to truth, justice, and the American way — acquitted. He left the courthouse a free man, and determined to continue in the guardian role that led to branding him as a racist and knowing that anyone he ever helped would simultaneously be hurt by the linkage to the man known as racist, he put on that mask.

Some people don't quite get the polls I put up around here.

Here's recent, typical criticism, aimed at the poll called "Althouse without comments." The aggrieved emailer writes:
I wanted to point out that you chose the options for the attitudes we might have towards your new policy. Exactly two of those choices implied that the new policy was detrimental, and both of those choices were framed in terms of emotionally negative or dismissive attitudes. You did not, for example, provide a choice like "I loved reading and writing comments, I will miss them, and I don't see how the blog can be the same without them." You gave us "I am aggrieved and grudging" and "the blog is nothing to me." You then pointed out that the only people who objected to the change were negative soreheads, and good riddance. OK, have it your way.
The sentence that begins "You then pointed out" is (badly) paraphrasing what I wrote here.

I wrote back:
The polls are a form of expression for me. No one has to take them, and I make no claim that they are anything but a kind of poem that I've written that you're allowed to play with.
Do you see how Althouse thinks of her polls?
pollcode.com free polls 

Looking downwards at the dog.

My point of view, right now:


You can find peace with your downward dog, and I with mine.

AND: The cinematic version:

"Chock Full o’Nuts is that heavenly coffee".. and the lady who sang that tune now drinks her coffee in heaven.

Page Morton Black was 97.
Mrs. Black, the widow of William Black, the founder of the Chock Full o’Nuts company, curtailed her singing career after their marriage. But her voice lived on in the jingle, which was broadcast for more than 20 years....

The jingle’s original last line, “Better coffee Rockefeller’s money can’t buy,” was changed in 1957, after John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family complained.
The line became "Better coffee a millionaire’s money can’t buy." Today, they've changed the word to "billionaires."

I wish I could find my favorite old Chock Full o'Nuts commercial — the one with the line "many times, in many suitcases," which became an all-purpose catchphrase for years with me and RLC (who emailed me the link above). Instead, I'll have to give you this a dreadful old commercial, in which Page Morton Black appears dressed up, atrociously, as Snow White.

ADDED: RLC emails to say thanks, "But for the life of me I can't see why you didn't use" the joke he'd suggested: "The Chock Full o'Nuts girl has gone to meet her coffee-maker!"

Why are those German home-schooling parents seeking asylum in the United States?

Germany is in the European Union, which has a right to free movement, and Ireland, for example, offers a right to home-schooling. Here's email I received after yesterday's post about the case:

"Feeling nostalgic? Can’t get enough body hair? Want to experience the celluloid life pre-Stonewall?"

"Here’s our guide to some of the most notable (and gayest) old-school flicks from before the millennium."
These films may not be perfect. In fact, some are downright offensive by today’s standards. But they are all in some way groundbreaking for their time period and considered in sequence they provide a record of mainstream culture’s changing attitudes towards gay men.
It's nice to be in a place where these movies can be seen from a distance and even enjoyed. I was living in Greenwich Village where they were filming movie "Cruising" (circa 1980) and remember the protests. By then, the pushback was already strong, and it was embarrassing for Al Pacino to be involved in the project. Now, this weird old artifact of unhappier times can be watched for fun, apparently. I guess it depends on who you are and where you are on the that's-not-funny spectrum of human psychology, which might be gender-linked.

The Pope's people took a wrong turn in Rio, plunging him into a frenzied, ecstatic throng?

This happened "in his first minutes back in South America since becoming pontiff."

I smell publicity stunt.
Francis' driver had turned into the wrong side of a boulevard at one point, missing lanes that had been cleared. Other parts of the pope's route to the city center weren't lined with fencing, giving the throngs more chances to get close, with uniformed police nowhere in sight to act as crowd control.
My skepticism alarm is clanging.
The three dozen visible Vatican and Brazilian plainclothes security officials struggled to keep the crowds at bay. Francis, however, not only looked calm but got even closer to the people. He rolled down his back-seat window, waved to the crowd and touched those who reached inside. He kissed a baby a woman handed to him.
Fabulous theater. Nicely Jesus-y.

A reading from Matthew 19:
13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
ADDED: "He rolled down his back-seat window...." The Pope's car doesn't have electric windows?

Instapundit opens up comments in a "grand experiment."

He writes:
I’ve opened ‘em up before — and, for that matter, Ann Althouse did it once when I was away, to much excitement — but this new system should be much better. 
The system is part of "the new rollout of tech at PJ Media will allow one sign-in to work across the whole site," so you've got to join their system to be able to comment. And they will be able to manage you in ways that I was not able to manage my commenters (some of whom really were trying to destroy my blog and waste all our time).

Someone at Instapundit named Stoutcat says:
Where Althouse closes a door, Reynolds opens a window! This is an excellent idea, and I'm anticipating much enjoyment and eddification from reading your commenters, who are, no doubt, as far above Althouse's commenters, as hers were above the general horde.
Instapundit responds:
Yeah, Althouse's apparent joy at being comment-free gives me pause. But there' s no connection -- this has been in the works for months as part of PJ's single sign-on thing.
As for "Althouse's apparent joy at being comment-free," if that's what he's seeing, that is in fact only appearance. The loss has been very painful, because I believed the comments gave the place a lot of energy. But some unknown proportion of the commenters were people with ill will, who wanted destruction, and deleting even the ones we knew about had become literally a full-time job. But I wasn't in some big old system with lots of tech people. I've kept independent, with the simplicity of the people's platform, Blogger, which won't let me exclude people. I could only delete, which was a technique that my most aggressive antagonists used against me (and against all the other commenters who'd contributed so much over the years).

That really hurt, but I'm an optimist, and — like a blog — I live in the present and move forward, so I find the good in whatever the situation is, continually making choices about how to keep things as good as possible, and the day came when the balance of good and bad in the comments experience tipped so severely that I couldn't maintain the sunny denial needed to put up with everything. Since then, I've felt the loss, and part of the loss is seeing exiled commenters talking about me elsewhere on the web, forgetting/ignoring the problem that made me close the comments — as if I would shut off the comments because people attacked my writings! — and saying such nasty things about me that I could get depressed brooding about the real proportion of good faith to bad faith commenters.

But I've got to resist traipsing down that detour as I continue on the road of blogging, where I've found so much joy in the past and hope to find more, doing things in this newly simplified style. Meanwhile, Instapundit gets fancier, as PJ Media makes its play to become a social media enterprise. That's the road I've diverged from. I can't be your social media website.

I've redefined my task as something I can do alone, not that I'm alone. I've got Meade — the commenter I married — walking with me every step of the way. I've got all the joy I can handle, and maybe it is joy at being comment-free. I'm a less is more kind of person. My own version of that slogan is: Better than nothing is a high standard. I do notice and take joy in the negatives that I'm free of. That's called freedom, and comment-free is a kind of freedom.

ADDED: I said it back in 2004:
Why do you blog? > To live freely in writing.

July 22, 2013

Sacha Baron Cohen will not play the role of Freddie Mercury...

... in the Queen biopic.
The reason is that the band wanted to make more of a PG movie about Queen while Cohen was counting on a gritty R-rated tell-all centered around the gifted gay singer. Given the astonishing physical resemblance, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Freddie but Sacha.
I'd be interested in a tell-all movie about this dispute. How gritty did Cohen want it? How bland were the Queen guys? (And how hard is it really to make an actor look like Freddie Mercury with a wig, a  mustache, and fake buck teeth?)

What Van Dyke Parks found "so oxygenating about the Beat era."

"When I walked into a coffeehouse, eclecticism was not a big word. It was good to be interested in a whole bunch of stuff."
Audiences embraced it. Audiences were jolted by it. They did not resent it. They didn’t need to be told what to think. I’m not prepared to tell people what to think. I may leave more questions than answers. I believe that anything worth its salt in the arts must create a wobble. We are not polestars We are here struggling in the dynamics of justice, between the absolutism of faith and reasonable doubt.
Parks, who worked years ago with The Mothers of Invention and The Beach Boys,  has a new album called "Songs Cycled." 

ADDED: I'm not sure that quote says anything. I just liked the idea of finding beatniks oxygenating. I started a beatnik tag and went back and added it to old posts, so click for all my beatnik-related postings.

"Attorneys for Christian parents who fled Germany in order to home school their children but have been denied U.S. asylum..."

"... said they are preparing to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and were working with Congress to try to change asylum law."
In May, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said the family did not meet the criteria for asylum, finding that Germany does not single out religious minorities for persecution. The court found that Germany treats all truants the same regardless of the reason, religious or not. Earlier this month, the court declined to revisit the issue.
ADDED: Why do they need to come to the United States? Germany is in the European Union, so they have a legal right to relocate to other EU countries, including Ireland, which has a right to home-school. 

Records From My Father, Part 2: "Velvet Carpet."

For the second effort in this series, I chose "Velvet Carpet," by The George Shearing Quintet with String Choir. I wasn't sure whether to capitalize "string choir," because it sounds generic, but what's a string choir? There are no vocals on this album, but perhaps there's an idea that the strings are singing. The strings are definitely in the background, with Shearing's quintet out in front. I take it the strings are more the plush, lush carpet...


... and the lady is the quintet. The lady is also perhaps the woman to be seduced by this lovely, charming music, over which a man and a woman can converse, wittily, and if there are any gaps in the conversation, they can snuggle and listen and feel elegant and sophisticated. And doesn't this woman look like a present day starlet?

The liner notes tell you how sophisticated you are:
To the sophisticates, [Shearing's] urbane piano seems to emanate from a penthouse high against an awesome city skyline.
There's a high-low ethos here too. In contrast to "the sophisticates," there are "those who like jazz." What Shearing offers them is "a beat as basic and danceable as any that rolled out of the open windows of Basin Street on a sweltering summer night."


I was surprised how much I enjoyed this music, even as I remember feeling perfectly annoyed at my father for listening to something that seemed so inanely smooth and pleasant. Here, listen to "'Round Midnight." What must he have thought of my finding these things manifestly bad? Now, I realize that I'm thinking about how I felt about his records when I was a teenager, but this album came out in 1956, when I was only 5, and I'm sure none of this annoyed me back then. In fact, I think I know that I loved it when the strings played pizzicato. And I thought everyone loved it. Everyone anticipated the switch to pizzicato and experienced delight. Listening to this record, I believe that George Shearing believed that sophisticates and jazz lovers alike would thrill when the strings went pizzicato.

Let's take a closer look at that little drawing of George Shearing:


Do you think George is giving you a sly look? If so, you are wrong. George Shearing was born blind. 
Born in Battersea, London, Shearing was the youngest of nine children. He was born blind to working class parents: his father delivered coal and his mother cleaned trains in the evening. He started to learn piano at the age of three and began formal training at Linden Lodge School for the Blind, where he spent four years.

Though he was offered several scholarships, Shearing opted to perform at a local pub, the Mason's Arms in Lambeth, for "25 bob a week" playing piano and accordion. He even joined an all-blind band during that time and was influenced by the records of Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller....

In 1947, Shearing emigrated to the United States, where his harmonically complex style mixing swing, bop and modern classical influences gained popularity.... In 1949, he formed the first 'George Shearing Quintet'... Shearing credited the Glenn Miller Orchestra's reed section of the late 1930s and early 1940s as an important influence.

Shearing's interest in classical music resulted in some performances with concert orchestras in the 1950s and 1960s, and his solos frequently drew upon the music of Satie, Delius and Debussy for inspiration. He became known for a piano technique known as "Shearing's voicing," a type of double melody block chord, with an additional fifth part that doubles the melody an octave lower....
I expected this album to be Muzak — schmaltzy, embarrassing junk. But it was detailed and crisp, and I asked the spirit of my father to forgive me for my deafness to the things that he loved.

"I wonder every day how we have reached this point where it's compoolsoorie to shave..."

"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes."

Said Ryan Braun.
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season, a 65-game ban announced Monday by Major League Baseball in what appears to be the first salvo in the league's fight against players allegedly tied to the Biogenesis lab.
It's relatively easy to accept this at this point in the season, when the Brewers are essentially hopeless. Get it done.
It appears Braun and MLB negotiated the terms of his suspension....

"Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, 'the most advanced country in the world.'"

"One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected 'the spirit of the age.' When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble."

The Aspen Times reports. That's linked in the NYT, by Juliet Lapidos, who says "Justice Scalia brought Godwin’s Law to Snowmass, suggesting in an address to the Utah State Bar Association that activist judges helped bring about the Holocaust."

Was Scalia within Godwin's Law? At The Atlantic, Abby Ohlheiser says he "approaches Godwin's Law," and takes the trouble to explain the law: "Eventually, as Godwin's law scholars are well aware, any online discussion will produce a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis."

Here's the Wikipedia article on Godwin's law. Excerpt:
Godwin's law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Nazis – often referred to as "playing the Hitler card."...
While falling afoul of Godwin's law tends to cause the individual making the comparison to lose his argument or credibility, Godwin's law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent's argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate.
So: Was Scalia's reference an exaggerated playing of the Hitler card or are his critics guilty of abusively invoking Godwin? I wouldn't answer without the full transcript of the speech. It would also be interesting to know whether these Godwin-invoking critics, who also don't have the transcript, just don't like Scalia anyway.

ADDED: An emailer who attended the Scalia event puts the remarks into context and makes the NYT and others look quite foolish for handling this matter the way they did:



... thistle.

"The baby boy was born at 4:24 p.m., weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces."

Pretty big, considering the incredibly narrow body of the Duchess, but the kid — as yet nameless — escaped into the world that — he had no way of knowing — so eagerly longed for him.

"Harassment with a Dead Squirrel."

"A Priem Road resident complained July 15 about an ongoing dispute with her neighbor that escalated into dead squirrel-throwing. The woman said she saw a dead squirrel -- decomposing and covered in maggots -- in the neighbor's yard. The next day, she found in under her kids' swingset. She flung it back over into the neighbor's yard, then called police to document the situation."

Police news, from Strongsville (Ohio).

ADDED: I forgot to check the "no comments" button, and a bunch of comments flowed into the moderation bag. Who knew so many people, so quickly, would want to talk about a dead squirrel? Yes, it's a very exciting dead squirrel, what with all the maggots and the irate neighborliness. The longtime high-quality good-faith commenter Madison Man said:
The soon-to-be-famous Dead Squirrel Exception to the no-comment policy? Non-human animals are known to carry carcasses. The only person in this story known to have moved the corpse is the complainant.

"A Norwegian woman who was sentenced to prison in Dubai after reporting that she was raped..."

"... has been given a pardon and will be heading home soon, she said Monday."

When I clicked on the front-page teaser — "Woman pardoned for rape report" — I thought I was going to a story about a false report of rape, and I was curious about the sympathy for women who do such harmful things. But that is not what happened here. Marte Deborah Dalelv reported a rape, and she was then "charged with having unlawful sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol" and given a 16-month prison sentence.

The NYT public editor: "I don’t think Nate Silver ever really fit into the Times culture..."

"... and I think he was aware of that. He was, in a word, disruptive."
Much like the Brad Pitt character in the movie “Moneyball” disrupted the old model of how to scout baseball players, Nate disrupted the traditional model of how to cover politics.
His entire probability-based way of looking at politics ran against the kind of political journalism that The Times specializes in: polling, the horse race, campaign coverage, analysis based on campaign-trail observation, and opinion writing, or “punditry,” as he put it, famously describing it as “fundamentally useless.”
That's a lot more than awareness to not fitting in. It's hard to fit in with people you are attacking.

Zimmerman haters can say: The man has a hero complex.

They're going to struggle to process today's news:
Zimmerman was one of two men who came to the aid of a family of four -- two parents and two children -- trapped inside a blue Ford Explorer SUV that had rolled over after traveling off the highway in Sanford, Fla. at approximately 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said in a statement....

It's the first known sighting of Zimmerman since he left the courtroom following his acquittal last week....
This is going to be so difficult for the Zimmerman haters, and I want to help. Remember, the FBI document said:
In an April interview with two FBI agents, Christopher Serino, the Sanford Police Department’s lead investigator on the Martin killing... “described Zimmerman as overzealous and as having a ‘little hero complex,’ but not as a racist.”
So he's out there, roaming around Sanford — not running as far out of town as he can — looking for people in trouble so he can play this demented "protector" role to his community. It's just pathetic. Here he is, prowling the streets, looking for signs of trouble and leaping into action. Wasn't he told to stay in his car?

So feel free to go ahead and use that, Zimmerman haters. I know this is tough for you. Another idea: Change the subject to the terrible problem of SUVs rolling over. That's a great old issue that could be recycled.