May 23, 2009

"Tell the chef to ditch the extra oil and substitute an extra sprinkle of herbs."

I have a love-hate relationship with the writing in women's magazines. I've read a lot of them — mainly, because for 2 years (before I went to law school) I had a job that required me to read all the women's magazines, month after month. I try not to let them upset me. I try to laugh. And often I do laugh. In fact, when I had that job — it was a day job, back when I fancied myself an artist — we laughed a lot. Everything seemed absurd. The most absurd thing I ever read was the idea that you could knit the string that bakeries tie around cake boxes into dishrags.

That quote up there is from a recent issue of some health/fitness magazine for women. The concern is that Chinese restaurants might put a lot of oil in their dishes, and the advice is to ask the waiter to "tell the chef to ditch the extra oil and substitute an extra sprinkle of herbs." Now, what I want you to do is: Next time you go to a Chinese restaurant, say that to the waiter: "tell the chef to ditch the extra oil and substitute an extra sprinkle of herbs." You must say that verbatim. You must use the words "ditch" and "sprinkle." Then come back here and tell me all about it.

It's not as silly as knitting bakery string into dishrags, but it's something that I'd nonetheless like to refer to as a bakery-string dishrag. It's just crazy women's magazine talk. No one in the history of the world has ever knitted a bakery-string dishrag. And no sane person would ever say to a Chinese waiter to "ditch" oil or add "an extra sprinkle of herbs." Unless they were on a mission from the Althouse blog. Please! It's so much easier than knitting a dishrag from saved string.

"When a [bridge] partner starts to slip, you can’t trust them. That’s what it comes down to."

"It’s terrible to say it that way, and worse to watch it happen. But other players get very annoyed. You can’t help yourself."

Very old people play bridge and stave off dementia.

"High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become 'knowledge workers.'"

"The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses."

I greatly enjoyed this essay by Matthew B. Crawford, which is adapted from his book "Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work." Crawford is highly educated and has worked in information economy jobs and the sort of jobs you learn to do in shop class. He's got a lot to say about what these different kinds of jobs have to offer. I do have 3 criticisms, however.

1. Crawford's hands-on real-world job is working in his own business as a motorcycle mechanic and his reward-for-going-to-college job was cranking out abstracts of scholarly articles that he couldn't understand for $23,000 a year. So the "real world" job was particularly good and the "information" job was particularly bad. You've got to concede that there are plently of good, bad, and middling jobs in both categories and to match up 2 good ones or 2 bad ones or 2 middling ones to make a fair comparison about what different sorts of work do to your soul.

2. Crawford had a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, so he is not just another guy that got shuffled into college on the theory that the whole economy is going to be about knowledge and you're going to have to fit into it. He had big hopes of an academic career, and ending up in that article-summarizing job must have hurt him in ways that have little to do with how average guys who could have learned trades feel when they end up slotted into Dilbert cubicles. Now, the plight of those average guys is tremendously important, but Crawford is not one of those guys. His experience was different. He belonged in a university, but the job market in academia is tough.

3. Crawford has written a book about it all, and book-writing is an "information" job. So he can't really say that working with your hands is completely fulfilling. He had to think about and analyze his experience and make it into an intellectual project. That's fine, but this making it into a book is a proper part of the story about his soul that he wants to tell. It's not in the essay. Maybe it's in the book.

What does Obama mean by "some short-term investments in health care"?

He's talking about how we're "operating in deep deficits" and why it is therefore important to distinguish between short-term and long term spending:
So we've got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it's putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.

So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare. If we don't reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can't get control of the deficit.

So, one option is just to do nothing. We say, well, it's too expensive for us to make some short-term investments in health care. We can't afford it. We've got this big deficit. Let's just keep the health care system that we've got now.

Along that trajectory, we will see health care cost as an overall share of our federal spending grow and grow and grow and grow until essentially it consumes everything...
Okay, but why is his health care proposal classified as a "short-term investment"? Isn't it long-term spending? I'm not talking about whether it's a good idea or not, but just whether he's bamboozling us by calling it both "short-term" and "investment."

At the Grass Closeup Café...

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... you can relax and take it easy. And maybe wonder why I ever took a picture like this. There is a reason, of course. There's a reason for everything. You crazy fool!

May 22, 2009

Mystery video clip.



Context to be provided later.

ADDED: Here's the context. The clip is in the first few minutes.

I'm telling you for the last time.

If there is a troll here who talks too much, don't talk to him. That's what he wants and that makes him talk more. Don't post to bitch about it. If you do, you are the problem. Get it? You are the problem.

ADDED: If you want to interact with another commenter, go right ahead. But if your point is to make him stop, don't get him fired up by talking to him. And don't debate with him and also tell me I should do something to get rid of him. If you consider someone a troll, don't talk to him. On the other hand, if you are worried that you might be the troll, put that energy into writing better comments. Be concise and interesting. Be creative or funny or something

Women are unhappier than ever.

According to a new study.

That's what we get for being more in touch with how we feel — we notice it, we admit it to ourselves and others. And we get attention because of it. If men were/are sad, who would know? Who would care?

But the linked blog post, by Meghan O'Rourke, asks — assuming it's really true that women are less happy than men and less happy than they were 35 years ago — why would this be so?
[T]he drop in happiness is pegged to an anxiety caused by the plethora of choices available (Barry Schwarz's paradox of choice) and women's feeling that they have to perform well across more categories. This is not exactly the same as struggling to balance so-called work and life (i.e., children): The study's authors are quick to point out that the decline in happiness is consistent across many categories, irrespective of marital or employment status or whether you have young children....
Oh, how I loathe this liberal meme about choice and happiness! Though liberals believe fondly in "the right to choose," they also love to say that choice makes us sad — but they only seem to mean that choice in the economic sphere is bad. (Notice how it softens you up to accept the crappy car the government wants you to drive and the good-for-everybody health care system it would like to provide.)

Anyway, why are women so sad? I think it's because we think about our feelings so much and care so much about being happy.

What happened in the twilight down there in the bottoms.

Our resident animation master Chip Ahoy took my photo from the Twilight Café and played out its forboding mood:

It was worth losing "American Idol" to not have to sing that crappy "No Boundaries" song.

When Adam Lambert heard he'd lost, he hugged Kris Allen and said "You have to sing that song now."

Ha ha. The winner has to close the show with a rendition of the special finale song, which is always bad — always bad in the same damned way. One difference this year was that the song was written by Kara DioGuardi — who's also on the judge's panel. (A terribly irritating intrusion on the show, by the way.)

Kris said:
"I was like ‘Ohhhh gosh!' I was like ‘OK, just sing it!’ I thought it went OK.”
You just know the 2 of them talked before the big results show and decided it was a win-win situation: Either you get to be the American Idol or you get to avoid singing that damned song.
“I like the song. It’s tough to sing, I’m not gonna lie. It’s a rough song, but Kara's a great writer,” Kris said. “It was so much fun working with her in the studio. She’s a lot of fun to work with.”
Kara's a great writer... but even great writers write a lot of crap.

Here's Kris performing the onerous task.

(Also in the linked article: Kris won by a lot.)

Disney's animatronic Obama: "Young children watch this, and you want them to feel a sense of identification with the president."

Since when are American children expected to identify with the President?

May 21, 2009

Do you notice anything about the picture of Obama that's on Drudge right now?



I know the impression it made on me. I showed it to my tablemate and, without any prompting, he said exactly what I had thought.

IN THE COMMENTS: Roger von Oech said: "Louis Farrakhan — all the way. The teleprompter makes it look like a bow tie."

At the Twilight Café...

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... talk to me about your fears. Last night, I was afraid of coyotes, skunks, poison ivy... scary trees....

"If fine speech-making, appeals to reason or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field."

"And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don't stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for — our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity."

Cheney responds to Obama. Read the full text.

The red-winged black coyote.

The red-winged black coyote

"The American people are not absolutist, and they don’t elect us to impose a rigid ideology on our problems."

"They know that we need not sacrifice our security for our values, nor sacrifice our values for our security, so long as we approach difficult questions with honesty, and care, and a dose of common sense. That, after all, is the unique genius of America. That is the challenge laid down by our Constitution. That has been the source of our strength through the ages. That is what makes the United States of America different as a nation.... I can stand here today, as President of the United States, and say without exception or equivocation that we do not torture, and that we will vigorously protect our people while forging a strong and durable framework that allows us to fight terrorism while abiding by the rule of law. Make no mistake: if we fail to turn the page on the approach that was taken over the past several years, then I will not be able to say that as President. And if we cannot stand for those core values, then we are not keeping faith with the documents that are enshrined in this hall."

Obama the moderate pragmatist. He's oh-so-different from Bush and also — let's not be rigid and ideological — really also exactly the same. He's going to do everything right and get everything done, and whatever it is he does, you can be sure that it's not torture and it's within the rule of law, because he's standing near these documents and Bush was terrible.

"It’s like you are getting less fabric and less workmanship for more money... Isn’t this the same as the semi-constructed jacket syndrome?"

Men in shorts — very expensive men's shorts.

Jeffrey Rosen loves Diane Wood.

After what he said about Sotomayer, this is ardent admiration:
After nearly 14 years on the appellate court, she has proved to be such an impressive match for her conservative colleagues that it appears that, of all the current Supreme Court candidates, her temperament and moderate, incremental liberalism most resemble Ginsburg's. "She is very careful, she is respectful of precedent, she is a craftsperson, and she is fairly incremental in her approach," says Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago and the author of a book on the suppression of speech during war. "I think she does believe that the role of judges, in part, is to ensure that the oppressed and the disenfranchised and dissenters get a fair shake in the political system, which would be a significant part of the moderate liberal element of Diane. But she's certainly not in any way result-oriented."
Don't worry, conservatives!

"As a college professor, I've heard many excuses for plagiarism over the years, but I don't believe that I've ever heard one quite that lame."

Language Log shows why you shouldn't believe Maureen Dowd. People just don't remember that sort of thing verbatim. Or is the non-lame response: Everyone these days understands that "talking to" includes emailing and IM'ing?

Certainly, in blogging, we say "X said" to mean "X wrote." And I see that I just said "we say" to mean "we write"... And I just said "I just said" to mean...

Oh, enough! Let me say instead that I didn't even bother to blog the Maureen Dowd "plagiarism" story (until now) because I don't consider that kind of thing serious plagiarism. It's sloppy and embarrassing, but it's completely unintentional and not a deliberate effort to pass off someone else's writing as one's own.

It was dull prose, not an eloquent phrasing or snappy quip. So this was was the sort of faux-plagiarism that constantly threatens all of us in these days of quick cutting and pasting. You think you know what is a quote when you're compiling your notes, but maybe later you see it and think it's yours.

Now, I like to believe I'll remember what blocks of text I dropped into my documents, and if I'm not too rushed or I think I might forget, I put quote marks or indentations to remind me what's not mine. Also, I think if I look back on something that I didn't write, I'll recognize that it's not my style.

But it's possible to slip up, and what Dowd did looks like exactly the sort of thing that can only be a slip.

The real fault is not making it a point always to write sharp, distinctive prose. Prose like the stuff Dowd lifted called out for rewriting. She might not have known to think I can't use that because I didn't write it. But she should at least have thought I can't use that because it's dull.

It's sad, because Dowd tends to err in the other direction — rewriting things into the snappiest possible prose. That quirk should have saved her from this slip. It didn't this time. She's been embarrassed. That's all.

Photos from Rome.

Very enticing. And more the next day. With plenty of ice cream, etc.

Blackberries.

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Yummy.

"There are people out there motivated by religious hatred, hatred against Jews frankly..."

"... but the good news is that the N.Y.P.D. and F.B.I. were on top of this from the very beginning."

The simple rules.

Via Metafilter. Via Jac.

The "American Idol" upset.

View the last 5 minutes of the show.

Why did it happen? The Daily News has some theories. There's also a poll — where "Adam's look didn't appeal to Middle America" is currently winning, with "Adam's sexuality played a role" coming in second. Isn't "Adam's sexuality played a role" just a blunter way of saying "Adam's look didn't appeal to Middle America."

I think there may have been a sense among many of the hardcore voters — and they're the ones who matter, what with almost 100 million votes on the finale — that the American Idol should be a good role model for kids. In the final comparison between Kris and Adam, Kris Allen was the good boy whom they could picture as their own son or their high school boyfriend. That's the nature of the show.

Some of the voters surely thought that the idol, the role model, shouldn't be (or seem) gay, but I wouldn't get too bent out of shape about it. Adam Lambert did extraordinarily well and was embraced and eagerly loved. I didn't see any nasty homophobia on line that was about trying to make him lose — or win (there was no equivalent of the "vote for the worst" campaigns that in previous years have raged among the show's haters). And Kris was really sweet and natural standing alongside Adam week after week and talking about what good friends they are and so forth. That has been part of his role modeling.

IN THE COMMENTS: 2 gay males — Treacle and Palladian — make the same point: They prefer the Kris type. [Is Treacle gay? He hasn't be explicit.]

May 20, 2009

"American Idol" — the last show, and I'm not watching.

But I'm reading the live chat at Throwing Things.

Guns.

Guns!

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Guns!1!!!1

At the Staring-at-the-Ceiling Café...

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... you can ventilate your grievances... perceive the patterns...

"Ross serves as a putter... where Plaintiff needs a sand wedge..."

The magistrate goes crazy with the golf jokes as he dismisses the ridiculous lawsuit Andrew Giuliani brought against Duke University for kicking him off the golf team.
Plaintiff's promissory estoppel claim... brings to mind Carl Spackler's analysis from the movie Caddyshack (Orion Pictures 1980): "He's on his final hole. He's about 455 yards away, he's gonna hit about a 2 iron, I think."

I'm going to have to use a household drill to make a hole in your boy's skull.

Said the country doctor, who'd never attempted such an operation before but was following the directions of the neurosurgeon on the telephone.

Blood clots liberated, the boy was saved.

Diane Wood?

That's what Intrade says.

"Exceptionally nonsensical bounteousness" confuses David Post.

Why? Isn't it obvious? The internet is written for robots.

"You know when I first got together with Susan..."

How to be gay on TV.

Love Land...

... demolished.

Is the bad economy good for artists?

The NYT interviewed a lot of artists and extracted the insight that not being able make money unleashes creativity. Starving artists, you know. They are the good guys. The patrons they would kowtow to are the bad guys.
[Artist Cadine Navarro said] that she hoped the economic pressure would weed out “market-oriented art that is being churned out by the bulk. Onward!”
When the patrons disappear, art flourishes. Do you believe that?

"It is a shame. But you have to come to a realization around here that at this point in time, the N.R.A. gets the votes."

"Either you are going to bring down the whole Senate and never do anything or you or going to swallow hard and say, ‘I will just vote my conscience on those amendments and speak out until people get a hold of their senses.’ ”

Senator Boxer said. The bill permits us to carry concealed guns in National Parks.

"People who routinely pay off their credit card balances have been enjoying the equivalent of a free ride..."

You need to see it that way, so you'll understand why you should pay interest from the time you pay for something with a credit card. I'm one of those people that pay the entire balance every month to avoid paying any interest, and being told I've been taking a free ride all these years does not soften me up to pay my supposed fair share to support the credit card system. I just won't use the card if that's the deal. I'll switch to a debit card or pay cash.

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin said:
The reason not to ever use a debit card is that in case of fraudulent charges, you're the one out the money, so help is hard to find.

With a credit card, they're the ones out the money because you simply don't pay the contested charges, and everybody is really motivated to help you clear the thing up.

Don't give up that protection easily.
I'm instantly convinced not to use a debit card!

AND: I'm instantly unconvinced as John Lynch said:
I protect my debit card by simply not keeping much money in the account its drawn from. If I'm making more than a trivial purchase, I transfer the money from another checking account, which costs nothing at my bank. So, if someone gets my number it's no big deal because all they can steal is lunch money. There's no overdraft allowed on that account, either.
And TMink said:
I was recently charged $810 on my debit card to the WalMart in Seneca, South Carolina. This occured while I was home in Nashville. Seems I was part of the Heartland Compromise.

My bank refunded the $810 quickly and kindly.

"I have a little confession: I don't like ['A Change is Gonna Come']."

Kim Cosmopolitan confesses (in the Throwing Things recap of last night's "American Idol" finale):
I'm sure that flags me as a social reactionary or something, but I don't like the song...
Ha ha. Yeah. I do like that song so I don't have that problem, but I certainly would be careful about expressing dislike of it. (Lyrics. Here's Sam Cooke singing it. And here's Adam Lambert singing it in last night's finale.)

It's like: Don't you care about civil rights? Really: Don't you hate when there's some work of art — e.g., "Schindler's List" — that you don't even want to risk looking at with a neutrally critical eye? Don't you hate when a work of art comes to you encrusted with moral/political importance that denies you the freedom to say it's bad? Well, say it's bad then! Fight back. It's a matter of moral and political importance.

Anyway, back at Throwing Things, Adam responds to Kim:
I'm just going to assume that the people who don't like Adam will find his "A Change Is Gonna Come" indulgent. I guess I was hoping for that little wink that acknowledged the gravity of the change Sam Cooke was singing about and which Lambert presumably was connecting with in his own interpretation. But he cut both the "too hard living but I'm afraid to die" and "go downtown"/"don't hang around" verses, the latter of which especially would have brought that home, and so what we were left with was a song sung well but without the depth that could have made it transcendent. What change, Adam?
Transform a song about black people into a song about gay people? Gay people aren't born by the river in a little tent. Would you buy a glammed up gay guy asking for sympathy for his troubles in words written about poverty and race discrimination? I guess it's possible to do that, but also probably in bad taste to horn in on the unique suffering memorialized in "A Change Is Gonna Come."

Not buying shoes.

Yesterday, I was looking at some shoes in a store, contemplating buying them, and a little bearded salesman came over to me and said: "These are great shoes. They're made to dissolve in landfills, and no animals were used."

What should I have said?

May 19, 2009

"Kris from American Idol should have definitely shaved his creep-stache before performing tonight."

With no TV, I'm reduced to "watching" on Twitter again. Snatching at shreds. Tell me stuff I don't know.

"He was such a lovely doggy/And to me he was such fun..."

"... But today as we played by the way/A drunken man got mad at him/ Because he barked in joy/ He beat him and he's dying here today."

UPDATE: Oops.

"President Barack Obama's allies in the Senate will not provide funds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison..."

"... until the administration comes up with a satisfactory plan for transferring the detainees there, a top Democrat said Tuesday."

Key word: "allies." Obama doesn't want to close Guantanamo, but he doesn't want to be the one to say it, and these people are giving him cover. Well played... reasonably well played, that is. I mean, I see right through it.

"Shrew Shot Venom Through Blood-Red Teeth."

My favorite headline today.

The black coyote.

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For Althouse blog insiders only.

"Treacle, we'd like to introduce you to our very good friend Titus."

"They should have listened to the warnings from the ants."

They should have listened to the warnings from the ants.

Jeffrey Toobin has at Chief Justice John Roberts.

In the New Yorker.

1. Things Roberts did to Deputy Solicitor General Neal K. Katyal during the oral argument in the voting rights case: a. "pounced," b. "removed his glasses and stared down at," and c. "was relentless in challenging.”

2. The tone of Roberts's questions aimed at a lawyer arguing in favor of a city's affirmative action policy: "belligerent."

3. What Roberts is like compared to Scalia: "extreme" and more "effervescent."

4. Why Roberts's style is inconsistent with the self-image as an "umpire" that he promoted at his confirmation hearings: "In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff." And "Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party."

5. I skimmed the rest of the article.

IN THE COMMENTS: Juris Dentist said:
On the Althouse blog:

1. We went to the laundromat!

2. We took a drive.

3. We took a walk.

4. Boo hoo, why does Jeffrey Toobin get to write articles that should be written be me!!!

5. I skimmed the rest.

At the Peony and Stink Bug Café...

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... the beautiful and the ugly can intermingle casually.

"I had the thought last week that this entire thing is charade designed to sell a book."

Yeah, my thought too. That's why I didn't blog about "My Personal Credit Crisis" — by Edmund L. Andrews — when I read it last week. And it's a long article. It's very rare that I go all the way through a long article and refrain from blogging it. Normally, I taste things, and the decision to consume them in full is automatically a decision to blog them. But I felt aggressively hostile to giving Andrews any attention. It was a readable article. I'll give him that. But I wanted to smack him.

AND: Neo-Neocon wants to smack him too. In the comments, Beth said...
I read this with disbelief. This guy, after child support, was bringing home less than $3k a month, and his fiancee at the time had no job at all, and it made sense to borrow HALF A MILLION BUCKS???? He keeps saying how easy it was to borrow it, but until months after the bills actually start coming in, he never thought about how hard it would be to pay back. That's the kind of thinking I've seen in friends with manic depression, in a manic phase.
It seemed to me that the guy did whatever he could get away with. And now he writes a confessional memoir about his shamelessness with the NYT as his springboard.

"Vice president Cheney does not have a death squad. I have no idea who killed Mr Hariri or Mrs Bhutto," Seymour Hersh said.

Okaaaay.

What is this madness in The Nation?

The GOP has lost people in every demographic group except...

... frequent churchgoers.

"For me, I hope that having the Christian vote doesn't help with anything."

Said "American Idol" finalist Kris Allen.
[Allen is] a 23-year-old college student who has worked as a worship leader at the New Life Church in his hometown of Conway, Ark. "I hope it has to do with your talent and the performance that you give and the package that you have. It's not about religion and all that kind of stuff."
So... some people think they are voting for religion and — what? — against some presumed immorality of Adam Lambert?
Lambert, a 27-year-old theater actor from San Diego who once worked in the Los Angeles cast of "Wicked," heartily agreed. He said he does not think the contest "has anything to do with your religious background, what color you are, your gender. It doesn't have anything to do with that. It's about music....."
Music and your package. That's what Kris said.

How can one computer kick another computer off the WiFi?

Maybe someone can help me with this. I have several computers, but I like using my MacBook Air around this house. It works fine with the WiFi here when I'm the only one on, but if the other person uses his MacBook (the original MacBook), it breaks my connection. Using the Network Diagnostics application, I can restore my connection, but it will break again, perhaps the every time the other user clicks from one website to another. If I get on one of my older laptops, I don't have the problem. My own old MacBook (original MacBook) interferes with my Air exactly the same way. When we're at our other house, I don't have this problem. I also have this problem at some cafés but not others.

How can this happen, and what could fix it?

"How bad can he be on abortion if Notre Dame is willing to honor him?"

"It was precisely the message President Obama wanted to send."

Well played, Mr. President, says William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal. In contrast, we see "the poverty of Notre Dame's institutional witness."
In a letter to Notre Dame's Class of 2009, the university's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, stated that the honors for Mr. Obama do not indicate any "ambiguity" about Notre Dame's commitment to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life. The reality is that it was this ambiguity that the White House was counting on; this ambiguity that was furthered by the adoring reaction to Mr. Obama's visit; and this ambiguity that disheartens those working for an America that respects the dignity of life inside the womb.
And here's the Rush Limbaugh treatment of the topic:
The New York Times in a story today, headline: "At Notre Dame, Obama Calls for Dialogue on Abortion." Now, what exactly has been going on in this country for 40 years? It's no different than the libs saying, "You know what, we need to have that national conversation about race." What have we been doing since the founding of this country but having a conversation about race? What have we been doing the last 40 years but having a dialogue on abortion? And Obama appealed to partisans on each side to find ways to respect one another's basic decency and even work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.... I have often asked, "Where is the middle ground between good and evil? Where do you compromise? Where's the compromise between life and death? Where's the compromise between killing and birth? Where do you compromise on that?"

So the assumption here is, find ways to respect one another's basic decency. Well, what's decent? Language still matters to me. What the hell is decent about abortion? What's decent about it? This is the first time I've ever heard abortion categorized as a form of decency. Even the pro-choice crowd in trying to justify it, has tried to say that pregnancy is a disease, or that pregnancy is a sickness that can threaten the life of the mother, or a fetus is an unviable tissue mass. But I've never heard them say that abortion is decency. But Obama has now just said that both sides of the argument feature people who are advocating decency.
Ambiguity... compromise... You see the point. Obama's side of the debate wins simply by getting people to think that there can be a debate. By allowing Obama to be heard at all on the subject of abortion, Notre Dame loses ground, because the pro-Life position is not debatable, ambiguous or subject to compromise. That's a big political problem for pro-Lifers — their unwillingness to engage with the other side. And Obama is successfully exacerbating it.

May 18, 2009

At the Peony Café...

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... you can be big and showy.

See it?

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ADDED: As a few of you have seen, there's a groundhog. You may remember that a few days ago, there were 2 coyotes in the yard here (in Ohio) and they were gnawing on a groundhog. Yesterday, I saw a few groundhogs in the yard and running into that spooky old garage. Today, we were walking down in the meadow at dusk, and, just after Holly (the dog) chased after a deer, we saw a coyote in the tall grass. It was keeping an eye on us. Were there pups somewhere? Were there coyotes all over the place in that grass? We made our way back to the house. Would a beast suddenly lunge at our backs? No, we're here. Unscathed.

When Seacrest high-fived the blind guy.

And other worst things about Season 8 "American Idol."

"Most popular baby names + Medicare advice + awful Elvis impersonation = EPIC FAIL."

Yeesh. The worst.

Have you ever noticed the arrow hidden in the FedEx logo?

Things hidden in logos.

Via Metafilter, where somebody inevitably links to that famous accidental image.

ADDED: A Metafilter commenter detects plagiarism.

Knowledge of disparate impact on Arab Muslims is not the same as intent to discriminate against them.

Justice Kennedy writes for the majority in a 5-4 decision, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, announced today:
[Iqbal's] only factual allegation against [John Ashcroft, the former Attorney General of the United States, and Robert Mueller, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation] accuses them of adopting a policy approving “restrictive conditions of confinement” for post-September-11 detainees until they were “ ‘cleared’ by the FBI.” Accepting the truth of that allegation, the complaint does not show, or even intimate, that petitioners purposefully housed detainees in the ADMAX SHU due to their race, religion, or national origin. All it plausibly suggests is that the Nation’s top law enforcement officers, in the aftermath of a devastating terrorist attack, sought to keep suspected terrorists in the most secure conditions available until the suspects could be cleared of terrorist activity. Respondent does not argue, nor can he, that such a motive would violate petitioners’ constitutional obligations. He would need to allege more by way of factual content to “nudg[e]” his claim of purposeful discrimination “across the line from conceivable to plausible.”

"Lawyers had argued the advertisements... did not have a commercial purpose..."

Lawyers. They'll say anything.

Dancer in a blue shirt.

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"He insisted he would not attend his First Communion... unless he could wear a pretty white dress."

"Their church said absolutely not, so the parents found a new one that let them."

Gender identity disorder in Omaha.

Rumsfeld to Bush: "Commit to the LORD, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed - Proverbs 16:3."

And: "Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps the faith - Isaiah 26:2." Captions for Iraq war photos.

May a President joke about the power of the presidency?

Glenn Reynolds says no — at least when it's Barack Obama threatening to sic the IRS on somebody that crosses him.
Surely he's aware that other presidents, most notably Richard Nixon, have abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass their political opponents. But that abuse generated a powerful backlash and with good reason. Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system.
Glenn's being practical and focused on the special problem of our income tax system, which depends so heavily on self-reporting and compliance. He's not talking more generally about the requirement that Presidents be ever serious about their awesome powers. So don't be like bad Mr. Nixon. But, presumably, this is still okay:

"You know I don't know if there was hidden gang meaning behind it with the cross, with the skull, with the deer, with the police camera's."

"Was there something anti-police about it? I don't know what's in his mind. That's how I viewed it."

Says Chicago 11th ward alderman James Balcer, who got the city's "graffiti blasters" to blot out a mural that an artist — Gabriel Villa — had spent 2 weeks painting on a privately owned wall. (The link goes to Chicago Public Radio, which put that apostrophe in "camera's" — twice.)
Villa did the work as part of a local art festival. The mural itself was on private property, on a wall owned by the mother of a festival organizer. Villa says several Chicago Police officers approached him about the work while he painted. He thinks they may have been offended but he says the painting doesn't have an anti-police message.
Here's a photo of the ex-painting. Judge for yourself. Anti-police?
VILLA: This mural was not a quiz. A lot of contemporary art tries, you know it tries to baffle you, or tries to confuse you, or kind of flip things on its head. I wasn't asking anything.

Villa says he thinks police officers disliked the mural and they called the alderman who ordered the mural to be painted over.

BALCER: Yeah, I'm the alderman here. I was told about it and I okay'd it and I stand by it.

"Let me ask you a question, Geneva Convention. What's your problem?"

Welcome to the working week.

Coffee in the skillet:

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Rainbow in the glass:

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May 17, 2009

Give me some kind of sign.

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Musical accompaniment actually playing on the radio when I was photographing signs yesterday. It proves God is watching over me, right? The sign I really wanted though was for this guy...

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... this very fish to poke his smiling face up out of O'Bannon Creek.

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But life is not so magical, and it should be enough that there are creeks and, presumably, somewhere in them, fish.

"Group keeps weeds, snakes away from 9th U.S. president."

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What we read when we scavenge reading material.

Loveland mural.

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A drinking fountain in Loveland, Ohio.

Drinking fountain

In Wisconsin, this is called a "bubbler," which is the trademarked term for the original drinking fountain:
The Bubbler was developed in 1888 by the then-small Kohler Water Works (now Kohler Company) in Kohler, Wisconsin, which was already well-known for its faucet production. While Harlan Huckleby is credited with the actual design, it was Kohler that patented it and trademarked the name. The original Bubbler shot water one inch straight into the air, creating a bubbling texture, and the excess water ran back down over the sides of the nozzle. It was several years later before the bubbler adapted the arc projection, which allowed the drinker to partake more easily.

The Bubbler concept took off and there were many copies. Since the name was trademarked, other companies named their fountains "The Gurgler" and "The Gusher."
The "bubbler" in my photo was made by The Murdock Mfg & Supply Co., Cinncinnati, Ohio.

And it's just a coincidence that we went to Loveland yesterday, the same day I blogged about "Love Land," that awful Chinese theme park.

Alexander Rybak — the Norwegian fiddler who won Eurovision.

I don't understand Europe.

Give me "American Idol" any day. Look, here's Adam Lambert, when he was fat and blond, singing at his high school graduation:

Ohio playground.

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"Speaker Pelosi Lied? N.Y. Times Puts It On Page A-18."

I'm reading this piece by Tim Graham just about exactly 5 minutes after looking at the NYT front webpage and saying: "The NYT is boring now. I think it's because they're hiding the news."

Graham says:
Here’s what went on the front page instead [of "Pelosi Says She Knew of Waterboarding by Early 2003"]: Chrysler telling dealers to close, Mexican immigration plummeting, Afghans fault U.S. for airstrikes, the end of a pension case at the Carlyle Group, an advertising story headlined "Does Ranting Sell? Worth a Try," and the light story of the day: "For Frozen Entrees, ‘Heat and Eat’ Isn’t Enough." It came complete with a photo of a Banquet chicken pot pie box.