August 5, 2006

"As they leave, in an aside to Eve, Adam imitates the expression on God’s face."

I love Jack Handey's "Ideas for Paintings." I heard this on the radio when I was out somewhere in the middle of my long drive. I remembered it tonight as I was reading this humor test -- reading it aloud for someone who was trying to answer the questions and when I got to question 10 -- "Which of the following 'Deep Thoughts' by Jack Handey is the funniest to you?" -- it took me about 10 tries before I could get the second "Deep Thought" out without breaking down into hysteria. And the second one wasn't even the funniest one. I haven't laughed that hard in years.

(Thanks to Diane Meyer for the link to the test.)

"Men don’t marry because women like myself don't need to rely on them."

There are lots of explanations -- like that one -- for why men are not marrying so much anymore.
About 18 percent of men ages 40 to 44 with less than four years of college have never married, according to census estimates. That is up from about 6 percent a quarter-century ago. Among similar men ages 35 to 39, the portion jumped to 22 percent from 8 percent in that time....

Perhaps most significant, many men without college degrees are not marrying because the pool of women in their social circles — those without college degrees — has shrunk. And the dwindling pool of women in this category often look for a mate with more education and hence better financial prospects.
This is a long article, so go read or skim it and come back and talk about it. The article is very much like the kind of article that is often written about women: profiles of wistful, sympathetic individuals who can't quite get what they want in life and make a valiant, poignant effort to say it's not that terrible. Then there is an undercurrent that seems to imply that we need liberal economic policies to boost men so that women will be able to accept them. And there's a big overtone suggesting that for all the loneliness, marriage really isn't all that appealing to people. Now that we don't march lockstep into marriage anymore and now that women don't require men for economic support, the reasons for marrying -- for a lot of people -- are never going to mount up to the point where they justify giving up the status quo of singlehood.

"Iceberg lettuce is the *only* way to go when it comes to lettuce."

"Some people complain that Iceberg lettuce is just water, but this is why I like it. Anything else is too damned leafy. If I want that I can eat the trees out front thank you."

Amazon is selling groceries now, and the usual Amazon reviewers are serving up reviews of the various items. It seems silly, and many of the reviews are pure humor vignettes, but it seems to me that there's a real need to review your basic foods.

Take the tomato, for example:
I find tomatoes to be overrated. They're an important ingredient in many things, obviously, but as an item themselves they're of limited use. They taste alright, but their texture is too screwed up. The only time I ever really eat raw tomatoes is on hamburgers and sandwiches, and usually prefer not to have them, as they destablilize the whole sandwich so that it all falls apart. Obnoxious, that is.
We need to hear this! That's useful. It helps focus your thoughts about these ordinary foods that we're just witlessly eating. There are some specific problems that you might not really notice until someone pins it down with the right phraseology. Like once, decades ago, I heard someone say okra is mucilaginous. That was about it for me and okra. Now, with these Amazon reviews, the chances of me being grossed out by food previously thought inoffensive are vastly increased. On the other hand, it becomes possible to see the good in a previously scorned food, like iceberg lettuce. It's just water. And that's good.

The Badlands.

All my Badlands photos are collected in this photoset. Here are a few:

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

After not watching any television for 10 days, I came home to a brimming TiVo...

What did I choose to watch? In two days, I've watched exactly two things: the two saved episodes of "Project Runway." Proving it's the best thing on TV, right?

In the older episode, they all get little dogs of the sort that according to the iconography of "Why Mommy Is a Democrat" would signify that the model to be accessorized with it is a Republican. They're supposed to make an outfit for the dog and the model and to somehow have it tell a story. The only person who puts any detail in to the story part is Angela, and then the judges act like it was wacky to have a whole story to go with the woman-and-dog get up. Meanwhile, the pissy, snooty Keith won't deign to make an outfit of any sort for his dog, and then he tries to lie his way out of this flouting of the assignment by claiming he put a lot of work into the collar. Heidi comes right over to the dog's neck and declares it's a readymade bracelet. But they still don't oust the nasty liar.

He lives on to be destroyed in the next episode.

About this newer episode, Jeff at Television Without Pity says:
Wow. This was probably the most tension-filled episode of Project Runway ever. And it was awesome.

The challenge was to create a three-piece outfit for Inc., which is a clothing brand sold at Macy's. One of the executives at Macy's chooses four team leaders -- Keith, Robert, Bonnie, and, uh, Angela. Yeah, weird.
Jeff haaaaaates Angela, but I was rooting for her. She was the underdog (in this dogfree episode). At one point she was making those poofy little circles again -- those things that have some mysterious, special meaning for her -- and her teammates Michael and Laura were miming their opinion that she's hopeless, and then Laura took four of the circles in her hands and placed them just so on the front of the jacket where they would look like buttons, and it was so perfect and beautiful that it made me cry!

I'm so damned sentimental about poofy buttonoids.

And then there was Keith.... The man had pattern books in his room. That's totally against the rules. I loved the scene where the other boys decided to rat him out. Rules matter! Justice!... and Keith is their biggest competition... and the judges all like him in a way that's really only about how oddly good he is at bullshitting.
[W]ith much fanfare, Tim Gunn arrives and tells Keith that he has to leave! It was amazing. The best part, though, is when he's leaving, he gives an apology to the other designers and it was uncomfortable and entertaining and I'm conflicted but I hate him… it was heaven.
Keith's ragged apology was truly wonderful. We'll see how cruelly he's raked over the coals for it when the reunion show comes around. His effort to make the other guys feel guilty with his you-ruined-my-life routine put him in a delightfully ugly light.

Then Keith's teammates, tattoo'd neck guy and the incredibly cute Allison have to finish the project -- Keith's design -- with only two-thirds of the manpower of the other teams. They nearly win. Actually winning is underdog Angela with Laura's brilliantly placed buttonoids. Yay!

We hate sprawl, but we also hate density.

People in Madison are always complaining about sprawl, but whenever buildings of any real size go up downtown, they freak out about that too. Check out this forum, complaining that Madison is becoming a "sardine can." Don't you want the city to grow? Don't you want a substantial urban core to this place?

Some of the criticism, like this editorial in yesterday's Wisconsin State Journal, takes the form of saying that people probably don't want to live in condos and that the city, by promoting this sort of development, is somehow trying to force people to live on a smaller scale and drive them out of the suburban lifestyle they love.

Are these the same people who also fret about how too much driving is hurting the environment? Why shouldn't the city adopt policies that reward people who abandon their green lawns for a greener urban lifestyle?

The official explanation of the gay marriage amendment, written by the attorney general who opposes it.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager sent two ballot explanations of the gay marriage and death penalty referendums to the state Elections Board Friday, providing the plain English translation that voters will use when they weigh in on the hot-button issues in November....

[O]pponents of the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions praised Lautenschlager's reading of the amendment question for pointing out its uncertain effect on joint benefits for unmarried couples. Supporters said it reflected Lautenschlager's personal bias against the proposal.

State law requires Lautenschlager to produce the explanations, which matter both because they might influence voters and because they could play a role in later court decisions that involve the intent of the proposal.

"It certainly could be something that feeds into (voter) intent," said Jane Schacter, a Stanford Law School professor and former UW-Madison faculty member. "This might be one of the few things that you know voters at least in theory have access to."...

The attorney general's explanation tells voters that it would be up to courts or the Legislature to determine whether that second clause would affect so-called domestic partner benefits between same-sex and other unmarried couples.
[Julaine Appling, of the Vote Yes for Marriage coalition] said only full-fledged civil unions or "look-alike" marriages would be affected by the measure.
I agree with Lautenschlager that the language of the proposed amendment is unclear and will have to be given its final meaning by the courts. I said so here. I also think this unclarity is a reason to vote against the amendment.

Still, pointing out this unclarity in the official explanation does seem to be influenced by Lautenschlager's opposition to the amendment. But should we be more disturbed by that than we would be if Lautenschlager had favored the amendment and put Appling's assurance in the explanation? You could say that the Appling assurance would influence the courts to read the amendment narrowly, but it wouldn't guarantee that they will, so it would be at least as troubling as Lautenschlager's pointing out the unclarity. The amendment's proponents need to downplay this unclarity and minimize the creative role that will be left for the courts to play. After all, they assert that the reason we need the amendment is that the courts will be too creative. This fear of the courts is supposed to stimulate the "yes" vote, and now people like Lautenschlager are tapping into the fear of the courts to stimulate the "no" vote.

To deal with this problem, you should want to know what methodology the Wisconsin Supreme Court uses to interpret state constitutional amendments. Here is its most recent statement, from Dairyland Greyhound Park, Inc. v. Doyle -- PDF -- decided a few weeks ago:
Constitutional provisions do not become law until they are approved by the people. Voters do not have the same access to the "words" of a provision as the legislators who framed those words; and most voters are not familiar with the debates in the legislature. As a result, voters necessarily consider second-hand explanations and discussion at the time of ratification....

[O]ur traditional methodology on constitutional interpretation may be restated as follows:

1. Courts should give priority to the plain meaning of the words of a constitutional provision in the context used. Buse v. Smith, 74 Wis. 2d 550, 568, 247 N.W.2d 141 (1976). The plain meaning of the words is best discerned by understanding their obvious and ordinary meaning at the time the provision was adopted, taking into account other (especially contemporary) provisions of the constitution. See State ex rel. Bare v. Schinz, 194 Wis. 397, 403-04, 216 N.W. 509 (1927).

2. Courts may view the "historical analysis of the constitutional debates and of what practices were in existence in 1848 which the court may reasonably presume were also known to the framers of the 1848 constitution." Id. This principle permits courts to consider the debates surrounding amendments to the constitution and the circumstances at the time these amendments were adopted. We have said that courts may examine "the history of the times," meaning not only the legislative history of a provision (including word changes in the drafts of amendments) but also "the state of society at the time," with special emphasis on the "practices and usages" then in existence, so as to identify the concerns the provision sought to address. See Bd. of Educ. v. Sinclair, 65 Wis. 2d 179, 184, 222 N.W.2d 143 (1974) (quoting State ex rel. Zimmerman v. Dammann, 201 Wis. 84, 89, 228 N.W. 593 (1930)). These concerns are often illuminated by contemporary debates and explanations of the provision both inside and outside legislative chambers.

3. Courts may scrutinize the earliest interpretations of the provision by the legislature as manifested in the first laws passed following adoption of the provision. Buse, 74 Wis. 2d at 568 (citing Payne v. Racine, 217 Wis. 550, 259 N.W. 437 (1935)). Legislation that implements a constitutional provision is thought to be a fair gauge of contemporary interpretation and is entitled to great deference.
This three-part approach is repeated in many cases.

So, can you predict how the Court would interpret the amendment? Here's the text:
Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.
Do you know what "the obvious and ordinary meaning" of that is? Do "the debates surrounding" the amendment and "the circumstances at the time" indicate that the text applies to more than "full-fledged civil unions"?

Well, if the amendment passes with the Lautenschlager explanation in place, it would, ironically, support a broader interpretation. Lautenschlager hopes the unclarity she cites will keep people from voting yes, but if they do vote yes, opponents of gay rights will exploit her language in subsequent litigation.

I oppose the amendment, so I'd like to say that this is one more reason to vote against it, but I understand the frustration of the the proponents who don't think what Lautenschlager is doing is sufficiently neutral. And I sympathize in advance with the litigants who -- if the amendment passes -- will be tasked to explain the explanation away.

"If Farrell is not going to apply that reasoning across the board, why is he inflicting it on Barrett?"

That's a question I'm asking, over on Instapundit.

August 4, 2006

High and low color.

Somber neutral tones dominate the austere -- and quite excellent -- exhibit on the printmaking techniques of Chuck Close at the ultra-tasteful Madison Museum of Contemporary Art:

Gallery

At the other end of State Street, we encounter a baby sporting an orange romper in the vicinity of a pop art-style box of licorice from Iceland:

Baby and candy

A vlog.

Back in Madison, in my office, I'm talking about feeling awfully fried after my long drive and showing you some books: "Why Mommy Is a Democrat" and "Meet My Grandmother, She's a Supreme Court Justice."

Beautiful Badlands.

Seeking out the cosmic aesthetic of the Badlands:

The Badlands

I encounter the human aesthetic:

Horse mural

denim vest

Disciplining the prisoner who paints with the juice of the M&M.

Harsh.

"The first so-called black hippie."

Arthur Lee died of leukemia, aged 61. His band was called Love, and if you remember one record, it's probably "My Little Red Book." (A song written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach.)

Black hippies... an interesting subject. We usually think of Jimi Hendrix. Here's an Amazon listmania list of black hippie music to remind you of some of the others.

Maybe you think of what Alice Walker wrote (back in 1967):
I think there are so few Negro hippies because middle-class Negroes, although well fed, are not careless. They are required by the treacherous world they live in to be clearly aware of whoever or whatever might be trying to do them in.

There were so many reason to decline to be a hippie, and some of these reasons must have been especially appealing to black people. But there were -- are? -- also some reasons to want to be a hippie, especially in the context of late 60s/early 70s music. Thank God for the music of the black hippies!

You can make your digital photo look like a painting...

A disgustingly cheesy painting. Still... I'm fascinated by this technique and want to learn how to do it. Photography software obviously dramatically increases the potential for producing work that's in bad taste. The more you can manipulate images, the more your poor judgment can reveal itself. Nevertheless, I love the new tools.

Two signs that scared me in South Dakota.

Rattlesnakes!

DSC09721

Mysterious fat.

We're still talking about fat. Back here.

Freeman Hunt said:
[I]t ... comes down to math... There is no mystery to getting in shape.

Noumenon said:
I think it's a complete mystery. As some magazine article I read pointed out, it's impossible to do controlled experiments with diet regimens because there's no proven way to lose weight and keep it off to use as a control group. We haven't a clue.

I said:
I agree that it's a mystery, but you can extract one truth: if you're still fat, you need to eat less. It doesn't matter why other people don't get fat when they seem to eat the same thing. Look at your own situation. If you're still fat, cut down. Eat less, and weigh yourself. Do it every day for the rest of your life. There's nothing wrong with you. It's just the natural impulse that allowed your ancestors to survive through famines. You have a healthy urge and a healthy body, but in times of affluence, that will make you fat. You've got to go against your nature and eat less. Until you're not fat any more. Or, as Roseanne Barr once said: "Just be fat and shut up."
UPDATE: Some people are getting very upset at that Roseanne Barr quote -- which is from that great concert she did before she had her sitcom. It's almost as if people don't remember that she's a comedian... and that she's fat. Some folks are reading this post as insulting fat people and calling them lazy. Huh? Where is that? And many, many of the comments here and on other blogs are testament to how amazingly strong the mental defenses are. People simply do not want to face the fact that if they are fat they've been eating too much, which is all I said. It is utterly irrelevant to that point that some people can eat a lot more than others without getting fat or that if you'd exercise more you could get away with eating more. If you are fat, you are eating more than you need to fuel your body as you are using it. That doesn't mean it's easy to just eat less, and it doesn't mean that there aren't some ways of eating less that are better than others. But, good lord, it's absurd to keep denying that you're fat because you're eating too much!

Coffeehouse.

After a long sleep for the weary traveler, I am restored and once again intensely motivated to blog. But right now, my morning posts are over at Instapundit: one, two, three.

You can comment on them here, or talk about whatever you want, in the spirit of the Alt-coffee-house.

Have you been reading Althouse long enough and with a good enough memory to know that I owe my existence to coffee not once but twice.

August 3, 2006

"I have not sought publicity."

The plot thickens. (Yikes! A plot!)

IN THE COMMENTS: Wurly asks the important questions:
Farrell seems to be a scrambling to try to get out of this hole. But these warnings to Barrett, assuming that they would be applied fairly across the university, are actually a greater threat to academic freedom than a simple initial decision to cancel the class would have been.

Does Farrell make it his business to chastise all Wisconsin professors/instructor/[adjuncts] for publicly discussing the theories that they teach to university students? Isn't the point of scholarship to develop and disseminate ideas, theories, etc. Would you, Ann, accept such a limitation on your right to engage with the broader community?

I assume that you are identified as a professor at Wisconsin when you appear on the radio or on panels? Do you think you are speaking for the University on those occasions?

Home!

In case you're worrying about me driving all over God's creation... I am home.

MORE: I had all the windows closed on the house. After that freak storm that blew a screen in, I thought the windows should be left shut -- summer heat be damned. While I was away there was an even more freakish storm, which I only read about, but reading about it, I was glad I'd sealed the place up. Coming into the house tonight, with the outdoor temperature a perfect 72°, I felt like I was walking into an attic. You know the dry, oven-like feeling of an attic in summertime? The whole house was like that, and the wood floors almost crackled under foot. I opened various windows and turned on some fans, and we are closing in on equilibrium now. Oh, that sounds like some metaphor for me! How I love home.

Ozaukee, the new noun.

I'm coining it to signify perverse but exactly proportionate retribution. Here's the original example. Now, you propose some other ozaukee.

Coffeehouse.

I'm opening the coffeehouse again today. Settle in right here for a long, lively chat about whatever, including my two Instapundit posts of the morning: the one about the James Carville/Mary Matalin reality show that you might not want at your high school and the one about the Joe-Lieberman-in-blackface blog post that Joe's now using against the candidate the blogger was trying to help. And speaking of TV, what's even going on on TV these days? I haven't watched TV in over a week. But I've been listening to the radio for -- what? -- 10 hours a day. Strangely, I hang out at XM Public Radio much of the time, where yesterday it was driven into my head that Hezbollah is achieving a profound victory that Israel cannot fathom. How can I stand it? I wonder. I'm hungry and that's the food.

Big Horn.

Yesterday, I drove from Teton Village, up through Teton and part of Yellowstone National Parks, toward Route 90, which is the long last leg of my drive back home to Madison. It was nice having the very easy and fast driving of Route 90 for the last 300 miles of Wednesday's drive, but to get from Yellowstone to 90, I chose Route 14/14A, the Big Horn Scenic Byway.

Here, Silvio takes a rest:

resting the car on the Big Horn scenic byway

And here's the view from the vertiginous height of 9430 feet. Look closely to see the distant horizon.

Big Horn

Big Horn

Climbing this mountain by car was challenging and scary. There were beautiful views that I could barely stand to look at, because of the height and the unguarded drastic edge. In this picture, there's some solid ground next to the road, but much of the time there was not. Only a flick of the wrist would send me plunging into death -- I kept pushing that thought out of my head.

I remembered that movie monologue -- the first time we ever saw the sublime creepiness of Christopher Walken, as Annie Hall's brother Duane:
Can I confess something? I tell you this as an artist. I think you'll understand. Sometimes when I'm driving... on the road at night... I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast. I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The... flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.
Don't drive with Duane on the Big Horn Scenic Byway. Think life-affirming thoughts if you're the one with the hands on the wheel. And if you're the passenger, don't say a thing or make the tiniest move that might jar the essential, steely calm of your driver.

August 2, 2006

Leaving Teton Village.

Time to hit the road again, checking out of the posh hotel I will now identify: the Jackson Hole Four Seasons. (Hey, it's 35° here!)

I'll drive most of the day, positioning myself for a quick tour of one last national park before driving the rest of the way home tomorrow. Enough driving already. The mental picture of home has gotten achingly clear.

Feel free to use the comments section here as an amiable coffeehouse. An amiable coffeehouse where everyone's obsessed with Mel Gibson. No, really, give it a rest. Surely, there are lots of other things to talk about, from light -- Is Heath Ledger a good Joker? -- to heavy -- Is Israel winning?

UPDATE: I'm still laughing about something Bissage wrote in the comments: "'the Jackson Hole Four Seasons.' Isn't that, like, you know, three different music groups?" Sippican adds:

jackson hole four seasons

Anyway, I'm pining for the Four Seasons, as I've reached today's destination, the worst of the four Holiday Inn Express motels I chose for stepping stones on the way to my two posh hotels. I picked Holiday Inn Express because of the clarity of their internet access promise. I was going to give the brand the Althouse seal of approval, but this last one had a busted ethernet wall jack (and a broken telephone), and when I went down to the lobby to say I needed another room, the desk clerk did not take me seriously -- he sniggered at my problem! He also asserted that there were no extra rooms, but obviously, since I'm posting, there was another room. I won't recount the hassle I went through after a long day's drive, but all I'll say is: Holiday Inn, protect your brand! Two of your motels were first rate. One was very slightly off. But this fourth is rather sleazy.

And I just wanted to add that I've seen all the "Batman" movies. And I watched the TV show when it was originally on and a big craze.

Struggling with synonyms (and large animals)...

Over on Instapundit. You can comment here.

Hot water.

A view into the depths of West Thumb -- Yellowstone:

West Thumb hot spring

The long view:

Cloudscape

Do you see the horrific danger?

You've heard of snakes on a plane...

There's also monkeys on a train. And only one man can save... I mean, one langur....

Fat people in denial.

Obese people -- according to a new survey -- think they have healthy eating habits. Forty percent of them even say they do "vigorous" exercise at least three times a week. Do they also not think they're fat? Or are they just mystified about how they got that way?

"Learning of imminent law enforcement... and informing targets of them is not an activity essential, or even common, to journalism."

So wrote Second Circuit Judge Ralph Winter, rejecting claims of privilege and granting federal prosecutors access to the phone records of two NYT reporters.
The case arose from a Chicago grand jury’s investigation into who told the two reporters, Judith Miller and Philip Shenon, about actions the government was planning to take against two Islamic charities, Holy Land Foundation in Texas and Global Relief Foundation in Illinois. Though the government contended that calls from the reporters tipped off the charities to impending raids and asset seizures, the investigation appears to be focused on identifying the reporters’ sources. No testimony has been sought from the reporters, and there has been no indication that their actions are a subject of the investigation.
The NYT argued that the reporters “were conducting their journalistic duties by getting reaction to an ongoing story.” It would seem that this could always be said in the case where a reporter's inquiry tips off a target of law enforcement.

August 1, 2006

"When I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight..."

Mel's apology.

I'm off to quickly have my fill of the northwestern Wyoming scenery.

I'll return -- unless I'm terribly unlucky -- with pictures. Meanwhile, you can use this post to talk about whatever comes up today.

"You're dealing with somebody who agrees to your rules."

Says Robert Wright, explaining why male homosexuality expresses male sexuality more purely than does male heterosexuality. Watch the whole clip. It's very rich. I have more over at Instapundit. Discuss it all here in the comments.

48°.

That's the temperature here. Strange! It's supposed to go down to 33° tonight. It's raining now. Can it snow in August? Meanwhile, look how hot it is in NYC. Oh, my son Chris saw "An Inconvenient Truth." How was it? I ask. "It's hard to judge it as an actual movie, since it's essentially Al Gore giving a speech." What a crazy world, no? They make a movie out of Al Gore giving a speech. And then there's Tom Brokaw horning in on the global warming speechifying action. The reason I know about the Brokaw one is that, twirling the satellite radio dial yesterday, I happened upon Opie and Anthony making fun of it. I'd never listened to Opie and Anthony before, and all they were really doing is making fun of Brokaw's speech impediment and saying they didn't care about global warming -- not that it wasn't true, that they didn't care. But somehow it was really funny.

Things about hotels.

Douglas Coupland is doing a TimesSelect column this month. (Link for subscribers.) Today he's got a list of 7 things he hates about hotels. Go ahead, make up your own if you don't get TimesSelect. I'll bet you can come up with some funnier stuff then "incompetent front-desk staff." That's one of his entries.

I'm writing this post from a hotel room, actually, and I could bitch about the one thing I don't like, which is having to pay extra for the internet, which only seems to happen in the most expensive hotels. It just makes them look old. No one's impressed that you have the internet. We'll be pissed if you don't, which today is like not having a bathroom. So don't try to sell it to me. It's like having to pay to get to the bathroom.

(Remember pay toilets? When I was a kid, I could never understand why someone would pay a dime to use one of the stalls when the others are free. Now that I understand why, they don't have them anymore. But they were an affront to egalitarianism. Still, we tolerate "first class" on airplanes, so what's the problem?)

Coupland also offers 5 "fun secrets" about hotels. I liked this one:
Most hotels have an armoire-type thing where they stash the TV set. Next time you go into your hotel room, stand up on a chair and look on top of the armoire. When people are checking out of a room, it’s where they dump stuff they don’t want to take with them, but can’t throw away in case the maid finds it. Stuff that could get them arrested or cause them shame. Really harsh porn. Pot. Pills. Coins. Touristy things that people gave them that they don’t really want. It accumulates from one year to the next.
Hey, make up some more "fun secrets" about hotels.

Whale song.

Visualized.

"This is freedom for us... The tyrant is gone! We can see our country free at last!"

Fidel Castro isn't dead yet -- as far as I can tell -- but the exiles are already celebrating:
In South Florida, which with Castro's rise became in many ways the capital of the Cuban exile, thousands of people spilled into the streets for an impromptu euphoric celebration. People in the crowd shouted "Cuba Libre!"

Cars lined up for miles on Calle Ocho in Miami, as well as in Hialeah and Westchester, with drivers blaring horns, screaming, banging pots and pans and waving Cuban flags.

"The 9/11 commission has its conspiracy theory, and we have ours."

More Kevin Barrett blather, in today's NYT. More from me over on Instapundit, which you can comment on here.

July 31, 2006

Oh, look at that picture.

Who will even know it's Boy George?

Mel Gibson, you are discredited forever.

Everything you ever did is now tainted.

"Freedom!" It has no meaning anymore.

What artist has ever crashed like this? Not Michael Jackson. Not Woody Allen. Not O.J. Simpson. You've shown an evil heart and it changes the meaning of all of your artistic work. How horrible! How painful! Try to imagine the penance you must do.
Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live... at least for a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!

So sad to think of the Mel Gibson I thought existed.

IN THE COMMENTS: A lot of people are defending Gibson and complaining that people are criticizing him because he's considered right wing. I note that doesn't explain my position, which has nothing to do with his politics, whatever they're supposed to be. I concede that my comment about O.J. Simpson is extreme (and that Simpson isn't an artist, though it would be easy to make up some sports-talk bullshit declaring his athleticism artistic). My point is that what Simpson (presumably) did doesn't change the meaning of the achievements that made him a big star. Gibson, on the other hand, has revealed something loathsome about his mind that affects our interpretation of the works of art that sprang from that mind. In particular, it changes "The Passion of the Christ," which had to be defended at the time of its release from charges that it is anti-Semitic.

UPDATE: Details on the aftermath of Mel's meltdown. I note the restaurant where he'd been drinking is called Moonshadows. Do we really need to think about Cat Stevens here? Oh, if I ever lose my reputation, oh if.... I won't have to work in Hollywood no more.

Unwinding.

Here's the lobby of my hotel. Does it look familiar? Have you been here?

WiFi in the lobby

There's a nice fire over there in the fireplace. Isn't that what you want, a roaring fire on the last day of July?

I drove the Great Basin Highway today. I'd never been in Idaho before, and now I've crossed over into Wyoming.

The West is absorbing me, it seems, as I started lingering on the XM radio channel called America, where I felt utterly charmed by Willie Nelson singing "Don't Fence Me In" followed by Johnny Cash singing (talking) "Ragged Old Flag," a song I'm sure I and everyone I knew mocked when it came out. Further on down the road, I was on the channel Frank's Place, and I laughed at Frank Sinatra singing "Gentle on My Mind" -- because who can picture Sinatra in a sleeping bag or in a train yard or with his "beard a roughning coal pile" or with a "dirty hat pulled low across my face" and his hands cupped around a tin can full of soup? In the thin drizzle, the brilliant talk-singing of Fred Astaire made a lot more sense -- "Isn't This a Lovely Day to Be Caught in the Rain?" -- and it moved me to tears.

UPDATE: There's a 3-year-old boy here with his parents, and the guitarist goes and sits with him and engages him with "The People on the Bus." The boy is laughing with delight.

Elko to ??.

I've checked into my posh hotel and thought I should check in here too so you'll know I've survived to blog another evening. I maintain high hopes of waking up tomorrow and seeing, photographing, and blogging about some major landscapes. For now, there's this fireplace, that deep bathtub, and a beautiful lobby with drinks, appetizers, and -- I'm not ashamed to say it -- WiFi. More soon, here or over at Instapundit (where I'm glad to see my three co-bloggers are blogging up a storm and presumably not missing me).

While I'm away...

Feel free to use this post to comment on any news stories or other topics of interest. Comment on my Instapundit post if you like.

"I don't listen to a whole lot of new music. I just kind of scan the channels and see what's out there."

Yeah, me too. And I've got to get in the car and scan on and on for about 400 miles today, or I'd spend more time reading this nice, meaty interview with Roger McGuinn, where I snagged that quote. So you read it and talk about it and I'll come back and join the discussion when I get to my destination, if I do.

Don't you love The Byrds?

Boomer slackers.

What's with these guys? Shouldn't they get back to work? Or is one hidden secret of life that your time is really yours, and if you can figure out a way to finance the nonworking life, it's a brilliant and honorable choice?

Ever read this book?

What would you do with your time if you didn't have to use it to make money? Assume you'd have to be frugal. It's pretty obvious what I would do...

Instapunditry.

I'm guest-blogging on Instapundit again. Yes, I'm on the road. Nevertheless... I do have three co-bloggers: Megan McArdle, Michael Totten, and -- a new one, another lawprof -- Brannon Denning. Thanks to Glenn for having me back. He's setting the example for leaving the blog behind while going on vacation, while I have become the cautionary tale: not just continuing my own blog along, but taking on a second one. Anyway, I'll be over there -- and here as well -- through Auguest 6th, and the road is supposed to lead me back to Madison before then.

July 30, 2006

Audible Althouse #60.

A podcast recorded in a motel room in Elko, Nevada.. You can stream it right on your computer -- no iPod needed -- right here. But all the cool people subscribe on iTunes:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

Leaving San Jose.

Either the city has been invaded by giant sci-fi mutant insects or the San Jose Grand Prix continues into Sunday. It's time for me to liberate my car, which has been garaged since my arrival late Thursday night. Not wanting to deal with the Grand Prix reconfigurations of the town, I've been walking and using the light rail... and test driving a Sky. But I want my car back, and I need to get out of San Jose -- get out of California -- and back to the beautiful wasteland of Nevada, where I'll stop over somewhere for the night before making my way tomorrow to a very nice place that should be quite swell.

A few parting shots of San Jose.

The plaza by my hotel (the Fairmont) with a view of the art museum:

San Jose

A view of my feet at the art museum:

Light feet

A monumental ceramic sculpture outside the repertory theater:

sculpture

A peace vigil near San Jose State University:

Protest

Think first! Because there's your problem, George Bush. You forgot to think.

"The sort of movie that plays best when you stumble across it on cable."

I'm clicking through the Rotten Tomatoes reviews of "Leonard Cohen -- I'm Your Man," and this "Short Takes" one by Elizabeth Weitzman of The Daily News sounds apt:
The possibilities inherent in Cohen's complex life and work are extensive, which may be why [director Lian] Lunson never gets a handle on either. Extended scenes from a tribute concert featuring artists like Rufus Wainwright are interspersed with gushing compliments from Bono, and neither is half as interesting as the curiously brief interviews with Cohen himself. Offering both too little material and too much, the movie leaves us in the bizarre position of understanding its subject no better by the end than we did at the beginning.
There is some great singing in this film, and the songs are exactly what you'd want to put in front of a great singer. But Lunson simply doesn't have any documentarian panache. I get the feeling he was way too excited about the fact that he got Bono to stand in front of a door and babble about Leonard Cohen. I feel sorry for Bono -- not really, why feel sorry for Bono?! -- who quite rationally could have assumed that somewhere in the verbiage there would be a few cool phrases and these would be plucked out by the editor and it would be perfect. Instead, they ran with all the footage.

Check it out, it's Bono! He's still standing in front of that brown door! He's still got those wraparound glasses on. He's still murmuring about Leonard!
Okay, let's go watch Rufus emote charmingly around Leonard-lyrics. And now... Oh! It's Bono! And that richly paneled door! And he thinks Leonard is truly sublime.

The filmmaker must have loved the idea of Cohen as an enigma. To this end, Buddhism is used heavily. Don't Buddhists ever get sick of the use of their religion to create an aura of depth and mystery around a Western celebrity? We see a lot of shots of Leonard sitting next to a fat gnome of a monk. Hey, he's a Buddhist monk. You're supposed to be automatically impressed. He doesn't have to say a damned thing interesting about Buddhism or anything else. You're supposed to just get it. Ooh, he's a fat monk! He must be full of profound wisdom. And there's Leonard sitting right next to him.

I would have liked more substance, less abstract effusion. There was a nice sequence in there about "Suzanne," accompanied by some of Cohen's drawings. Suzanne was his friend's wife, and she really did live by the river. "And she feeds you tea and oranges/That come all the way from China." Yeah, she really did serve tea that had little bits of oranges in it. Oh, all these years, I've been eating a whole orange with my tea and thinking "Suzanne." But here's Leonard, and he's saying Suzanne's tea had the oranges in it. It was Constant Comment tea, he says. (It comes all the way from Connecticut, I note.)

What's so cool about the song "Suzanne" is that it has all the concrete detail surrounding the enigmatic character and the religious mysteries. River, boats, tea, oranges, rags, feathers, honey, garbage, flowers, seaweed...

Nothing against Cohen, but the filmmaker lacked the art to make a real documentary film. It would have made a great TV show to stumble across on cable. If you want to get a sense of what a real film would be, watch "Crumb" again.