July 17, 2010

At the Café Why...


... you know who you are.

Eliminate cash and you eliminate (much) robbery.

It would also cut down on street musicians and panhandlers. And what else? Privacy:
"If it's impossible to pay cash when you buy stuff, it's also impossible not to leave electronic footprints behind you, and the electronic footprints from what you buy put together can tell the entire story about your life. This can be very sensitive information... Most people don't want this total surveillance society."

"I was nearly 30 before I realized that my parents had been talking a Wodehousian language during my youth..."

"... and that normal people didn't refer to each other as 'old bean' or 'the mammal' or share a refreshing snort before dinner."

So do the Republicans need any actual ideas...

... or should they just shut up and take advantage of the way we're terrified of the Democrats?

The Artichoke MRI....

... insight into fruits and vegetables here. (Via Metafilter.)

ADDED: I took the artichoke GIF off the page. It seemed to be causing trouble. I'm not going to let a vegetable screw things up around here.

"Bellesiles’s piece reads as if it were a short story (perhaps inspired by a real case) with himself playing the part of the sensitive, caring professor."

Layering suspicions of narcissism on top of suspicions of lying.

"The online dating industry is even bigger than the porn industry, and more than 30 percent of first dates end up in coitus yet its customers are much less satisfied than the customers of the porn industry."

"Let me break it down for you, those who go out, partake in a social activity and perhaps later on, sleep with a living human being feel more miserable than those who look at naked women, with fake breasts, online, all day, and alone…. But why?"

Hmmm. What I wonder is: Why is he surprised? Real people — in the flesh — cause a lot of trouble. Works of art — including bad but amusing art like porn — can be enjoyed at leisure and turned off at will.


I arrived at the linked blog post — "Algorithmic Online Dating and the Paradox of Choice" — after I Googled "The Paradox of Choice," the title of a book that I referred to yesterday. This notion that choice won't make us happy is — or I've been calling it — a liberal meme.

From the Algorithmic Online Dating" post:
[Barry Schwartz’s "The Paradox of Choice"] basically says if you need a jar of jam and you go to a supermarket that has 3 types of jams you’ll leave much happier than when you go to a supermarket that has 30 different types of jams on the shelf. This is a beautiful dilemma, in the first case your chance of buying the best jam available is 33 percent and even if you fail to chose the best jam there is 66 percent chance that you will get at least the second best jam or better. In the second case the likelihood of buying the best available jam is only 3 percent. So you’ll be less happier knowing that you have probably selected the jam that is not the best.
But what do I care about whether I'm picking the best of the 3 things the store happens to have? It might have 3 mediocre jars of jam. A store with 30 jams probably has some excellent jams in there. Is Schwartz saying that when you can only see 3 jams, you don't get any big ideas about how good jam can be, so you're happy with Smucker's, but when you see 30 jams, you imagine that jam can be really amazing, and you're left feeling hollow and hopeless when the Bonne Maman doesn't give you an orgasm?
The problem is that assortative mating is a very complex game theoretical problem. If you have watched the movie, beautiful mind, you probably remember that John Nash (Russell Crowe) talks about the best strategy to get the blond lady!
Here. Watch that scene.
Now add 5 million more online single guys to the pool of competitors and you got yourself an unsolvable game theoretical problem....
Why? First of all, the John Nash character in the movie was talking about the group dynamic in a real-life room in which 4 males encounter 5 women. If the men all go for the most beautiful one — "the blonde" — then no one gets anyone because the guys block each other's way to "the blonde" and simultaneously alienate the 4 less-than-most-beautiful women. By contrast, a dating site is virtual space in which you interact one-to-one without seeing your rivals and without letting your target see her/his rivals. If you arrange to meet in the flesh, the rivals won't be there. Of course, it's probably going to go badly, but whose fault is that?

"I intend to keep things small. Really small. Thoughts and memories don't need closets. I shouldn't need closets."

Expansively contracting.

The John Edwards bio is "an extraordinary story filled with motivations, decisions and consequences that would have lit Shakespeare up."

Aaron Sorkin is making a movie of Andrew Young's "The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down."

Would the John Edwards story "have lit Shakespeare up"?
Yes. John Edwards is a grand tragic hero with fascinating flaws.
Yes. Shakespeare loved to apply his gifts to tacky, melodramatic tales.
No. Shakespeare was too high class for that sort of muck.
No. John Edwards didn't reach a high enough height for Shakespeare to care about his fall.
pollcode.com free polls

"This doesn't have to do with the Black Panthers..."

"... this has to do with their fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration... My fellow conservatives on the [U.S. Commission on Civil Rights] had this wild notion they could bring Eric Holder down and really damage the president."

July 16, 2010

Government computers, government employees, private email, and state open records laws.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules in favor of individual privacy.

Bristol and Levi...

... the reality show.

The Nation promotes the anti-choice liberal meme.

A couple weeks ago, I pointed to "that trendy liberal theme: Choice won't make you happy."  Here it is again in "The Trouble with Amazon":
Many would argue that the efflorescence of new publishing that Amazon has encouraged can only be a good thing, that it enriches cultural diversity and expands choice. But that picture is not so clear: a number of studies have shown that when people are offered a narrower range of options, their selections are likely to be more diverse than if they are presented with a number of choices so vast as to be overwhelming. In this situation people often respond by retreating into the security of what they already know.

As Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, explains, "When the choice set is larger, people tend to make worse choices. They choose on the basis of what's easiest to evaluate, rather than what's important to evaluate...the safe, highly marketed option usually comes out on top."

"My fiancée, who collects friends like a baleen whale collects plankton, finds my lack of friends odd."

Says Christopher Orlet:
It's not that I am unable to play well with others. It is rather that I have a hard time finding persons who interest me enough to want to be friends. This is, I suppose, what attracted me to books and magazines so many years ago -- the opportunity to be in the company of interesting people with engaging stories to tell.

"overrated—indulgent, didactic, and verbose."

David Hajdu says "much of"  Harvey Pekar's work is.

Look at this GOP website.

It's interactive!

Via CNN:
The Republican National Convention launched a website blasting what it considers Obama's "leisure activities or missteps" during the oil disaster, like playing golf, attending concerts and vacationing in Asheville, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; and now Maine."

Obama has also faced criticism for scheduling a trip up north, instead of vacationing in the Gulf, as he advised other Americans to do.
Aw, come on, what is the problem? Republicans will complain about anything. Why aren't they happy to see him doing things other than governing. That government is best which governs least....

Real Clear Politics notes that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has proposed a truce on social issues so we can deal with financial problems...

... and asks Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty if he agrees. Answer:
I'm not sure what Mitch had in mind there but there's a whole coalition of people and interests and issues that comprise the conservative movement and the conservative perspective. I'm a fiscal conservative as well as a social conservative, so I don't think it's an either/or. I think it's both. And right now the economy is a pressing issue for the nation, and we're all primarily focused on that and jobs and the like, but that's not to say there isn't space to discuss other issues.
That's a lot of words. I feel like I'm still Trapped Under Wreckage. But if I take off my high-heeled shoe and I tap on something hard to attract attention, I think an answer emerges from the debris. It's faint, but my hearing is really sharp. The answer is yes.

"If you are trapped under wreckage..."

"... tap on something hard to attract attention."

Just an image I ran across Googling "Conelrad." Who among you remembers Conelrad? I only got to thinking about it because "Talkin' World War III Blues" attracted my attention:
Well, I remember seein’ some ad
So I turned on my Conelrad
But I didn’t pay my Con Ed bill
So the radio didn’t work so well
Turned on my record player—
It was Rock-a-day Johnny singin’, “Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa
Our Love’s A-gonna Grow Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah”
Why did Bob Dylan's record player work when the radio didn't? You'd be more likely to have a battery-operated radio than a battery-operated record player. But you probably don't even have a record player anymore, do you? And I don't think your radio has the Conelrad symbol on it. Do you even remember what the symbol looks like? I don't. Some triangle? That's what I wanted to see when I got distracted by that poor trapped woman, who was not so unfortunate that she didn't have a stiletto shoe to use to tap out her distress.

What took me back to the old Dylan song? I wasn't worrying about World War III. (I have a book in the house — it was given to me — called "World War IV" and one of my sons, puzzled, said "When did we have World War III?") I wasn't worrying about that, I was selecting the ideal pronunciation of the word "paw" (or "pa") to explain how to pronounce the name "Pawlenty" so it didn't confuse me by sounding like "polenta." Now, Tim Pawlenty, like Bob Dylan, is a Minnesotan. We were talking about him, because he's in a bit of a dispute with Mitch Daniels — who, unlike Bob Dylan, is a Hoosier (like my interlocutor in this conversation I'm alluding too). I need to do a separate post on the Pawlenty/Daniels dust-up, though, because in this post, I'm trapped under wreckage.

"The Museum of Modern Art has turned down the volume on Yoko Ono's atrium art installation...."

The installation features a microphone, speakers, and the instructions to visitors: "Scream against the wind/ against the wall/ against the sky" on the far wall. But according to museum employees, the loud, sporadic screams that resulted startled visitors, while staff members strained to speak to museum-goers over the noise. "It was disturbing to the staff at the information desk," said one employee who wished to remain anonymous because MoMA discourages its staff from commenting on artwork or internal affairs.

The Ono piece is featured prominently at the entrance to the museum's just-opened "Contemporary Art from the Collection" exhibition, a radical re-installation of its collection that adds nine Ono works. One employee said that the fitful, high-pitched screams caused visitors and even guards to jump with surprise. "Visitors complained," he said.
Shame on MoMA! They put Yoko Ono in there in the first place to lure the throngs of people who still pay attention to anything Beatles-related. Then, when the piece had its intended effect of startling and troubling people, they changed it, squelched it, undermining the artists' point to please the lame-oids they lured.

(Via Expecting Rain.)

"We in Britain are rightly proud of our toilets, and the onus is on people who come to this country to appreciate them for what they are."

"It's absolutely ludicrous - Thomas Crapper would be turning in his grave!"

Ha. I love the way The Daily Mail — stirring the shit — illustrates this article with a photograph of a
not-clean toilet.

(Via Memeorandum.)

The return of "Beavis and Butt-head" ... with new episodes!

Reports the NY Post:
The return of "Beavis and Butt-head" will be a backdoor means for MTV to return to showing music videos -- something the network was founded upon but abandoned in the last decade to make room for popular reality shows....
Great! I love "Beavis and Butt-head." Back in 1993, when the show premiered, people really were watching a lot of music videos, and it was great to have a show that helped us view them critically. The big joke on us was that it took 2 idiots — Beavis and Butt-head — to make us more perfectly hypercritical of the stupid junk we'd been watching.
The basic plotline revolved around two shorts-wearing, spectacularly immature teenage pals whose banter was delivered against the backbeat of their constant idiotic laughter.
Key word: shorts-wearing.

ADDED: Heh. I got distracted by the shorts theme and forgot to make the point I was aiming at. When the show first came out, we'd been really into watching music videos. But, as noted in the article, MTV abandoned its video mission long ago. The new plan is to use the show to bring back to music videos. So The original design of B&B was to make us laugh at something we were caught up in — and, essentially, to laugh at the funniest thing: ourselves. Since we're not currently into music videos, indeed the point of bringing back B&B is to get music videos back onto MTV, we won't have that element of seeing the absurdity in something we take at all seriously. But presumably Mike Judge — the genius behind "Beavis and Butt-head" — will find new ways to make it good.

AND: "This sucks. Change it... It better start rocking or I'll really give them something to cry about."

"Dodd-Frank is a full-employment act for regulators that addresses everything but the root causes of the financial collapse."

Write James S. Henry and Laurence Kotlikoff in Forbes:
It serves up a dog's breakfast covering proprietary trading, consumer financial protection, derivatives trading, executive pay, credit card fees, whistle-blowers, minority inclusion and Congolese minerals. Dodd-Frank also mandates 68 new studies of carbon markets, Chinese drywalls, and person-to-person lending, and many other irrelevancies.

None of this deals with the central problem--Wall Street's ability to hide behind claims of proprietary information to facilitate the production and sale of trillions of dollars in securities whose true values are almost impossible for outsiders to determine.

This policy of "systematic non-disclosure"--the absence of complete transparency about what financial firms really owe and are owed--left only its CEOs and their top consiglieres in a position to know what their companies really owned and owed. Consequently, the valuation of Wall Street firms came down to trusting the bank's senior executives--those who often had the greatest stakes in the non-disclosure system.

All this malfeasance was no organized conspiracy, but a self-organizing, automatically expanding gravy train. Its participants included many of the world's largest and most prestigious banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, credit raters, law firms and accounting firms.
Read the whole thing.

July 15, 2010

At the Lily Hotel...


... we'll stay the night.

"My friends and I have even coined the phrase: 'My Mohammed is different'..."

Stupid female tourists.

"In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy..."

"... how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in a political protest."

At the Cool Water Café...


... dive in:

P1000704 copy

P1000704 copy

Obama in 2012?

"He trails Mitt Romney 46-43, Mike Huckabee 47-45, Newt Gingrich 46-45, and is even tied with Sarah Palin at 46.... It's not that any of the Republican candidates are particularly well liked. Only Huckabee has positive favorability numbers at 37/28. Romney's at 32/33, Gingrich at 32/42, Palin at 37/52... But with a majority of Americans now disapproving of Obama it's no surprise that a large chunk of them would replace him as President if they had that choice today."

I still think that once the race gets going and people really look at, say, Romney right next to Obama — really picture the other guy as President — the eagerness to oust Obama will cool off.

French-style female aging.

They reject the notion that "you either have to disguise that process with Botox, eye-lifts, lip plumpers and all sorts of procedures that convey a desperate 'youthful' look, or else just give up altogether and let the ravages of time take their toll."

I love the photo of Isabelle Huppert. She looks great, even as she looks older than her age. She's 57, and it would be easy to believe that she's 67 or even older, but she still seems youthful, because of the expression and life in her face. The contrast is the American Ellen Barkin, looking smoothly dead-faced at 56.

"Tack's Cartoon Tips."

A 1923 instructional booklet, in Flickr sideshow form. It plays fast, so note the pause button. It's interesting to see how some things that are really offensive by current standards —  at pages 6 and 9 — are presented casually as if they are just part of the silly circus of everyday life.

"The writer ... is too busy dealing with people to have time to deliver messages to anyone."

"The messages happen just by chance. That he is interested in — in creating flesh and blood people to do the — the tragic or the comic things which people do for — for pleasure. That is, I think that one should read for pleasure, that one doesn't necessarily have to read for pleasure, but I myself read for pleasure, not for ideas. That if it's — I've got to hunt around in a book to — looking for an idea, then I'd rather do something else. I'd rather do something that's more fun than that. It won't be reading."

That's William Faulkner on an occasion labeled "Evening Meeting with Wives of Law Students," dated May 16, 1957. There is audio at the link. There are many more audio recordings, newly available at the Faulkner at Virginia archive. (Via NPR.)

Do you read for pleasure or find something that's more fun than reading?
Yes. I read only to the extent that it's pleasurable.
I read for pleasure, but I also read to work at digging out messages.
Reading is work, but I do it and then look for other things for pleasure.
Reading is work, but I like work. Pleasure-seeking isn't my way.
pollcode.com free polls

Pear-shaped women have bad memories.

As you already know, it's bad to be fat. But there's always more news about fat. The way you are fat matters. You've probably already heard that it's bad to be apple-shaped, and maybe you were taking comfort in the fact that you are fat, but pear-shaped. The new news is here to rip that comfort away from you. On the other hand, it will be easier to forget.

"This is precisely the position taken by [Instapundit's] Nigerian relatives..."

"... who see all these annoying — but very fat — geese running around, with no one even trying to eat them."

Now, when I suggested eating the Canada geese that are ruining our lakefront parks, my commenters quickly informed me that they don't taste good enough. Surely, there must be some recipes to overcome whatever the problem is. Google indicates the answer is yes.

I have no knowledge of goose-hunting laws, but I'd like to see it made legal to hunt Canada geese wherever they are found within the city. Now, assuming it were permitted and we knew how to cook them into deliciousness, is there an easy, humane, safe technique for taking them? They are not afraid of people right now. You can walk right up to them. In fact, they walk right up to me — and not in a nice way. In an angry, bite-y way.

University of Wisconsin lawprof Victoria F. Nourse has been nominated to the 7th Circuit.

Congratulations to my esteemed colleague!
Nourse was special counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1990 to 1993, where she was staff drafter of the Violence Against Women Act. She was also an appellate attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice from 1988 to 1990 and assistant counsel for the Senate Committee to Investigate the Iran-Contra Affair in 1987 and 1988.
Here's the Accuracy in Media report on her role working on the Violence Against Women Act, written in 2007, when then-Senator Joseph Biden was running for President:
... Biden has just released a book acknowledging that he wasn’t the sole author of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This bill was Biden’s signature legislation. It resulted in tons of favorable publicity for him. But the book, Promises to Keep, reveals on page 240 that a female staffer was actually involved in drafting the legislation.

“The staffer, Victoria Nourse, and I wrote” the legislation, says Biden. However, his presidential website gives Biden sole credit for the legislation. It quotes Biden as saying that “What I’m most proud of in my entire career was writing the Violence Against Women’s Act because it is evidence we can change people’s lives, but the change is always one person at a time.” The term “writing,” as commonly understood, means that he wrote it. His office sent out a release calling the senator the “author” of the legislation. But “author,” like the term “writer,” has a definite meaning....

It’s true that Biden “introduced” VAWA. It is also accurate to say that he sponsored it. But to have paraded around the country for many years claiming to be the “author” or “writer” of the bill diminished the work of the female staffer who had been doing the bulk of the work behind the scenes. Later in the book, Biden refers to Nourse as his “lead staffer” on the bill, but that description, too, diminishes her work in this area.
This seems like a pretty minor criticism of Biden, but Nourse is honored to receive the recognition.

But — you may be asking yourself —wasn't the Violence Against Women Act held unconstitutional? The act had many provisions, and one of them — giving private citizens a federal tort claim against other private citizens — was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in 2000. It does not manifest a lack of legal expertise for Nourse to have thought that this provision was constitutional back in 1994 when the act was passed. That was before the Gun Free School Zones Act case in which the Supreme Court, for the first time in over half a century, found that Congress couldn't rely on the Commerce Clause to legislate in a particular area. You may argue about whether VAWA was a good use of federal power and whether it was a good idea to use the federal courts to handle gender-based violence cases. Was VAWA good federalism and the wise allocation of judicial resources? But, I think, VAWA reflects well on Nourse, Nourse is an excellent nomination of the sort one would expect Obama to make, and Obama is the President with the judicial appointment power.

July 14, 2010

In the Silk Upholstered Chair Café



... you can talk to some rich folk that you know and ignore the ragged company at the next table.


I prefer lilies in their decline. Dead flowers. They look like inky brushstrokes to me. See the enlargements: here and here.

30 million.

Some time this evening, this blog reached a big goal: 30 million visits. There have been over 50 million page views, but I've always focused on visits. It took over a year to get the first million, and I got to 2 million in less than 2 years. Now, 30 million. How cool! Thanks for reading.

Advice to the Dylan neophyte.

What order to listen to the albums. There are other orders. Perhaps you can suggest. But what I liked about the list is that it begins where I began, in 1965 — and I mean, for me, it was literally 1965 — with "Bringing It All Back Home." (Note how the album title suggests we have a history with Bob, but I was coming in new.) It goes on to "Highway 61 Revisited," and I'm not sure if that's where I went next or if I went backwards to "Another Side of Bob Dylan" (1964 and #7 on the list) or "The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan" (1963 and #6 on the list) or and "The Times They Are-a-Changin'" (1964 and #8 on the list) Amazingly, "Highway 61 Revisited," like "Bringing It All Back Home," were both in the year 1965. Ah! 1965! I was 14.

Women without institutional affiliation.

Click, even if you're phobic about Bloggingheads diavlogs. This is a 49-second clip:

Ha! Adorable!

Our beer taste test.

We're comparing:

1. St. Bernardus Abt 12, our classic favorite over the last year.

2. Trappistes Rochefort 10, the new upstart. New for us.

I tasted blind. Meade, having set up the test, was non-blind. Meade picked the St. Bernardus. I favored the Trappistes Rochefort, for its fascinating extra dimension of flavor. It's been made by monks at he Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy since 1595. "There are approximately 15 monks resident at the monastery. The monks are very secretive about the brewing process, and the brewery is not open to the public...." Good work, secretive monks! "[T]he beer is only sold in order to financially support the monastery and some other good causes." Well, then! I feel like a real humanitarian.


And no jokes, please, about us (or me) being blind drunk. We attended a play last night, and, in that play, blindness was batted about:
I am blind.

Perhaps he can see into the future.... 
I woke up one fine day as blind as Fortune. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not still asleep.

And when was that?

I don't know.

But no later than yesterday—

Don't question me! The blind have no notion of time. The things of time are hidden from them too.

Well, just fancy that! I could have sworn it was just the opposite....

Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It's abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we'll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

The Giving Tree needed a sassy gay friend.

"When it's healthy and cared for, our skin has the natural ability to maintain a light tone and clear texture."

"Unfortunately, when it's exposed to the sun, the skin's natural lightening processes are interrupted. Pigment producing cells become increasingly active, tanning the skin, and leaving it several shades darker than it's supposed to be."

"If being woven into a giant global brain means the further intertwining of our fates with the fates of others, maybe there’s something to be said for giant global brains."

"And if people respond wisely to this spiritually challenging predicament, maybe the life of a cell won’t be such a bad life after all."

My child, the advanced moralist.

"[Y]our child may wonder why you have twice the home you need. Kevin Salwen and his wife were so taken by their daughter’s conviction in this particular matter that their family of four decided to sell their 6,500-square-foot home. They bought a new one less than half the size and are giving away about $850,000, more than the price difference between the homes."

It's a conundrum of pride!

What should you learn from your child's moralistic inquiries?
How to reach a higher standard of morality.
How to talk about substantive issues with a child.
How to resist being shaken from your own decisions about how to live.
How to be proud of yourself AND your seemingly brilliant offspring.
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Phrases from a NYT article about a store in Manhattan that sells pants, nothing but khaki pants.

1. "insouciance and dignity."

2. "inject it with purpose and vision."

3. "reimagined khaki pants as an artisanal product."

4. "jean approximants."

5. "burlap-wrapped bales of cotton (or the equivalent thereof) — a touch of rural whimsy."

6. "an attitude or a process, an art or a mood?"

7. "Testosterone and calluses."

Gassing geese.


Madison has a geese problem too. These filthy, vicious fowl have newly infested the area around Picnic Point. But is gassing the best solution? Shouldn't we be eating them?

"Jail booking policy today calls for reporting directly to immigration authorities any inmate who can’t produce proof of being in the United States legally."

In Madison, Wisconsin!
The Dane County Immigration Task Force in May recommended an end to routine reporting to ICE at booking. Weeks later, the Madison City Council went on record in overwhelming opposition to the jail reporting policy, recommending that only inmates charged with felonies be flagged for ICE.

[Dane County Sheriff Dave] Mahoney says he won’t change his policy. “I have a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure the security of everyone in my institution,” he says....

Local professionals who work with undocumented immigrants, mostly Latinos, speak passionately of how fear of deportation because of the jail policy affects lives of immigrant families.

The fear can paralyze, says Prudencio Oyarbide, coordinator of Clinica Latina at Mental Health Center of Dane County, a nonprofit agency serving low-income people. He says that some of his clients greatly fear making a misstep that brings them to the attention of police, to jail, and then to deportation: “They have significant impairment. They can’t work, they can’t sleep, they obsess all day long about making a mistake that ends life as they know it.” He estimates that 10 percent of his caseload of 45 to 55 clients shows fear that rises to this level of disorder.

Amy Kucin oversees Mental Health Center programs for adults with drug and alcohol issues. She sees how the fear of deportation complicates the challenges of kicking a habit. “I have a client who was arrested for drinking and driving and is working on sobriety,” she says. “He has so much fear about being out in public that he has to remind himself that his problem is drinking and driving — not looking Latino in public. The anxiety around that is really a struggle. He drives to work and goes home. Other than that, he does not go out."...
Meanwhile, also in Madison, Wisconsin:
Gov. Jim Doyle denied a request Tuesday by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit against Arizona over its new immigration law.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, talks about leadership.

First, let me say that I ordered these sandals from Zappos and had them at my door less than 20 hours later. And that was with the free shipping option, not any kind of express service. So that makes me very pro-Zappos right now. So here's Hsieh:
Tony Hsieh: Every employee understands that part of their job description is actually to live and inspire the culture in others. A lot of it is done on the front end; during the hiring process we do two sets of interviews. The first set is kind of the standard -- the hiring manager and his or her team will look for someone to a fit within the team, relevant experience, technical ability and so on, but then we do a separate, second set of interviews with our HR team, and they look purely for a culture fit, and they have to pass both in order to be hired. We have passed on a lot of smart and talented people that we know can make an immediate impact on our top or bottom line but if they are not a culture fit, we won't hire them.

Tom Heath: What do you ask them, when you want to know if they can fit in the culture, and whether they will or not?

Tony Hsieh: We offer tours to the public, and our headquarters are in Las Vegas. We will pick you up at the airport, ride in the Zappos shuttle, take an hour long tour and then drop you off at the hotel.

For candidates we do the same thing: We pick them up, give them a tour, and then they spend the day interviewing. But at the end of the interview process, our head of recruiting goes back to the shuttle driver and asks them how they were treated. If they were not treated well when they thought they were off the clock then we won't hire them, it's not even a question.

About that NAACP resolution condemning "racist elements" in the Tea Party.

NPR reports:
The fray began when NAACP President Benjamin Jealous issued a challenge to the Tea Party:

"You must expel the bigots and racists in your ranks or take full responsibility for all of their actions."
How would that even be done? Random people show up at rallies in public places and have signs that occasionally, in the opinion of some people, cross the line into what deserves to be called racist. Who is supposed to do what, and why would the failure to do that require taking "full responsibility for all of their actions" (whatever that means)? Does the NAACP apply the same standard to itself? I don't really mean for you to answer those questions, only to see that Jealous isn't trying to make sense. He's just stirring people up.

For a response, NPR calls on Mark Williams, who is identified as "a national spokesman for the Tea Party Express":
"I don't recall the NAACP ever standing up and saying we need to civilize discourse when Republicans were in the White House," Williams [said]....

"You're dealing with people who are professional race baiters, who make a very good living off this kind of thing. They make more money off of race than any slave trader ever. It's time groups like the NAACP went to the trash heap of history where they belong with all the other vile racist groups that emerged in our history," Williams said.
Well, that's pretty inflammatory. But who is Mark Williams? And why is NPR quietly conflating the Tea Party movement with the Tea Party Express? I think that last question is an easy one. Williams gave the most inflammatory quote, the one that gave the biggest boost to the Jealous rant, so NPR presented him as the voice of the movement.
Charges of racism against the Tea Party flared after African-American Congressmen said they were heckled, spat at and were called racial slurs by tea party supporters during a demonstration at the U.S. Capitol.
And were they, oh, NPR? At least give us a line saying that there were video cameras everywhere and none corroborated the Congressmen. NPR revives this phony old story in the minds of casual listeners.

Finally, we get to the most useful information about why this story is surfacing:
Polls show that black Americans still overwhelmingly support the president with approval ratings of about 90 percent. But many in 2008 were considered Obama voters who don't regularly show up to vote. So the resolution is part of a strategy to motivate potential voters to come out and vote in November.
How to get black people — who admire Obama — to see good reason to take the trouble to vote for a lot of white Democrats who want to be in Congress.... what a puzzle! And how contemptibly patronizing to think the solution is to tell them the non-Democrats are racists.

Levi and Bristol, together at last.

"When he left that night, we didn't hug or kiss, but I was thinking how different it was. He texted me: 'I miss you. I love you. I want to be with you again' ... I was in shock."

What do you think of the reunion of Levi and Bristol?
Beautiful! Love prevails!
There's some love, some need to protect each other, and real concern for their child.
Probably Levi has been paid and promised an easy out after 2012.
Palin's ravenous ambition has appropriated the lives of the mindless youngsters.
Decent people turn away and express no opinion on matters of this sort.
pollcode.com free polls

"... concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming..."

"... flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicillin and succedanea in a word I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously...."

We got [l]ucky and went to the theater last night. Waiting for the show to begin, we ate popsicles on the patio, overlooking the woods...


... and Meade saved me from a tick.

Later, the next morning, we reminisced and danced The Net. You know the new dance craze, The Net? You dance as if you are entangled in a net.

July 13, 2010

At the Fuzzy Grass Café...


... we're together again at last. We'll have to celebrate this. But how?

UPDATE: We're back from the play... the play that was quoted above (in italics).

Madison is the 95th best place to live.

According to Money Magazine, which notes: "This liberal town is packed with bookstores and has two lakes that offer plenty of recreational opportunities." Well, we have 5 lakes, so maybe we shouldn't trust you with the numbers. And these rankings are done by counting things, like the number of restaurants within 15 miles. Number of restaurants?! Are these restaurants any good? Oh, but why am I complaining when I'm linking. Obviously, I'm encouraging their crazy games.

"These friendships, relationships, are a precious and priceless gift from God."

"Here I am, a convicted felon, a murderer, a man undeserving of anything that is good and wholesome. Yet, there are people who have found it in their heart to love me and have concern for me. Also, these friendships help to connect me with the church, and with society. It’s not a one-sided relationship but one of mutual giving."

Sayeth David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, who received a 25-years-to-life sentence in 1977.

How do you begin to understand this quote?
I contemplate the profound mystery that is God.
I subtract 1977 from 2010.
pollcode.com free polls

All the best people fail the bar exam... Elizabeth Wurtzel says.

And she's among the people she's talking about:
The common denominator among the bar-failers in my class at Yale Law School—and there were a few—was a complete inability to comply with senseless rules; they weren’t the best students, but they were the tartest and the sharpest people—and the least likely to accept the constraints of Big Law that make neither financial nor intellectual sense: the fifty-state survey to prove a negative, the memo to nowhere, the repetitive brief that says nothing and gets read by no one.
Hey! That's one sentence. It's got 3 dashes, a semicolon, 3 commas, and a colon. Let me step back from the big meta- critique and extrapolate one easily followed item of advice: Write short sentences! Human beings grade bar exam essays. I have graded bar exam essays. It's hell. I was trapped in a hotel conference room and not allowed to leave until I'd graded a pile of exams that, as a lawprof, I'd take a couple weeks to grade (with refreshing breaks for snacks and walks and blog posts).

Wurtzel goes on to claim that the practice of law would be better if the sharp, tart folks who resist senseless rules had the advantage in seeking access to the profession.  Imagine the access ritual that would vault them to the front of the line. I would try to do that for you right now if I weren't distracted by thinking that writers of short sentences are the ones to be encouraged. Don't write a long sentence unless you have a good reason. And don't use a semicolon unless you'd be willing to pay $5 for the privilege of using a semicolon. Each time. That's just a test I made up. Now, stop annoying me. And don't make things more difficult than they need to be. That's a rule. It's not a senseless one. It is a rule brimming with sensibility.

"Why I gave up on Socrates and why I think teaching students to think like lawyers, as Kingsfield claimed to do, is a bad idea."

Professor Bainbridge lectures about lecturing.

"Fifty Ugliest Cars of the Past 50 Years"... Hey! I bought 2 of them!

And I've only bought 5 cars in my life!


AND: Sorry to plant that song in your brain. This, with the same catchphrase, should cure it:

July 12, 2010

"who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley..."

Memorialized in Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" was Tuli Kupferberg, founder of The Fugs, dead now at 86. The jumping off of the bridge — Manhattan, not Brooklyn — was a suicide attempt, survived.

If you really believed in global warming, you would turn off your air conditioning.

Permanently. Hot? Sit still, drink water, and stop being so selfish. Stan Cox promotes the joys of going AC-free. But it's just a pep talk. And anyway, why should you feel joy, sinner? It will feel bad. It should feel bad. The only good feelings that are appropriate are: 1. Expiating your sins, and 2. the sheer impact with reality.

AND: Here are some more things I want to see from you to prove that you really believe in global warming.

1. Your weight should be at the low end of normal, indicating that you are not overconsuming the products of agriculture.

2. You should not engage in vigorous physical exercise, as this will increase your caloric requirements. You may do simple weight-lifting or calisthenics to keep in shape. Check how many calories per hour are burned and choose a form of exercise that burns as few calories as possible.

3. Free time should be spent sitting or lying still without using electricity. Don't run the television or music playing device. Reading, done by sunlight is the best way to pass free time. After dark, why not have a pleasant conversation with friends or family? Word games or board games should replace sports or video games.

4. Get up at sunrise. Don't waste the natural light. Try never to turn on the electric lights in your house or workplace. Put compact fluorescent bulbs in all your light fixtures. The glow is so ugly that it will reduce the temptation to turn them on.

5. Restrict your use of transportation. Do not assume that walking or biking is less productive of carbon emissions than using a highly efficient small car. Do not go anywhere you don't have to go. When there is no food in the house to make dinner, instead of hopping in the car to go to the grocery store or a restaurant, take it as a cue to fast. As noted above, your weight should be at the low end of normal, and opportunities to reach or stay there should be greeted with a happy spirit.

6. If you have free time, such as a vacation from work, spend it in your home town. Read library books, redo old jigsaw puzzles, meditate, tell stories to your children — the list of activities is endless. Just thinking up more items to put on that list is an activity that could be on the list. Really embrace this new way of life. A deep satisfaction and mental peace can be achieved knowing that you are saving the earth.

"What kind of a man is that? Hitting a woman when she’s holding a child in her hands? Breaking her teeth twice in the face! What kind of man is that?"

"Oh, you’re all angry now! You know what, you f*cking deserved it!"

The new Mel Gibson recording.

"We're glad that everyone is alive, despite being 'undead.'"

Zombie car crash.

"Ann -- For weeks, Republicans have been tripping over each other as they rush to defend BP."

Emails Brad Woodhouse, the Communications Director, the Democratic National Committee
They've apologized to the oil giant, accused the President of a shakedown, and called for deregulation of the oil and gas industry. It's as if they've forgotten that they have a responsibility to the people of the Gulf who've seen their lives and livelihoods upended by this tragedy.

We've put together a site to help get the story out and show in a very pointed way exactly how Republicans are standing with BP. Will you check it out and share it with five friends?
Sure. I'll share it with 1,000 friends. Because I like to do things in a very pointed way.
While the site we've created is a parody, this isn't a laughing matter....
Don't worry. I've looked at the site, and I'm not laughing.

"Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Finds."

At least 341 convicted felons voted, illegally, in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Franken won by 312 votes.

So... at what rate do convicted felons go Democratic... in predominantly Democratic twin cities?

Harvey Pekar, dead at age 70.

Did you like Harvey Pekar? I didn't.

"By 6:30 at night the only people who do not know what's happened that day are either drunk, stoned, or 85 years old and don't know how to use a computer and don't know how to tune a cable channel."

That's Rush Limbaugh on the death of the nightly network news shows.

For me, using the computer has also made cable news unwatchable. It's just too slow. And they are always going to commercial with a teaser like "And wait until you hear what happened when..." Either I already know what happened or, if I care, I will find out in 2 seconds, before the commercial even begins, or I do not care. I just feel sorry for the people who would sit patiently waiting to ingest that stale nugget of information.

Or... wait... do I just feel sorry for them or do I secretly hold such people in contempt, the way Limbaugh does?  Drunk, stoned, old, stupid... you know, this may be why I enjoy listening to Rush Limbaugh.

The NYT says Democratic governors "voiced deep anxiety" about Obama's lawsuit against Arizona.

When the lawsuit was filed, my main question was whether it would serve the political interests of the Democratic Party:
Assuming it's not legally ridiculous, is it politically wise? To make it work legally, won't [the Obama administration] have to own pathetically weak enforcement as a deliberate and important policy? Won't they have to be very clear that Arizona must shut up and accept the current situation? Who will get better political leverage out of this lawsuit — those who favor stronger enforcement of immigration law or those who favor leniency?
Now, it seems the Democratic governors are answering my question:
While the weak economy dominated the official agenda at the summer meeting here of the National Governors Association, concern over immigration policy pervaded the closed-door session between Democratic governors and White House officials and simmered throughout the three-day event.
At the Democrats’ meeting on Saturday, some governors bemoaned the timing of the Justice Department lawsuit, according to two governors who spoke anonymously because the discussion was private.

“Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs,’ ” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, said in an interview. “And all of a sudden we have immigration going on.”

He added, “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.”
Did the NYT use the word "anonymously" as some kind of anti-Bredesen joke? He's such a nonentity! Or were there 2 other governors who were ass-cover-y enough to demand anonymity as they breached the privacy understanding, and the NYT mentioned them just before quoting Bredesen to make Bredesen look indiscreet/bold? Or — this is awkward but most likely — were the 2 anonymous governors the ones who revealed that there was a lot of anxiety and simmering at the private meeting, and Bredesen's quote, technically, doesn't refer to the meeting. It's just his direct expression of the anxiety that was also expressed at the meeting.

(The Althouse blog, making reading the New York Times more annoying than it would be if you slogged though it alone. That's how I try to help — by heightening annoyingness. I hope you enjoy the pain.)

The lawsuit contends that controlling immigration is a federal responsibility, but polls suggest that a majority of Americans support the Arizona law, or at least the concept of a state having a strong role in immigration enforcement.

Republican governors at the Boston meeting were also critical of the lawsuit, saying it infringed on states’ rights and rallying around [Arizona Governor Jan] Brewer, whose presence spurred a raucous protest around the downtown hotel where the governors gathered.
They had to throw in that "raucous protest," didn't they? Was it, like, one guy? Because I notice there isn't a word about the size of the protest. Yet the polls only "suggest that a majority of Americans support the Arizona law." Why "suggest"? The polls I've seen show strong support for the law. Perhaps even raucous support.
“I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that almost every state in America next January is going to see a bill similar to Arizona’s,” said Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican seeking re-election.

But the unease of Democratic governors, seven of whom are seeking re-election this year, was more striking.

“I might have chosen both a different tack and a different time,” said Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado, a Democrat who was facing a tough fight for re-election and pulled out of the race earlier this year. “This is an issue that divides us politically, and I’m hopeful that their strategy doesn’t do that in a way that makes it more difficult for candidates to get elected, particularly in the West.”
Oh, shut up, Bill. The West... get over yourself. The proper term is "some of those states in the middle."
The White House would not directly respond to reports of complaints from some Democratic governors.
Indirectly, however, the answer is, as noted, shut up.


Do any of you use U-verse? Like it?

Roman Polanski, free at last.

Switzerland has rejected extradition.
The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA. The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked. This announcement was made by Mrs Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), in Berne on Monday. The reason for the decision lies in the fact that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extradition request, although the issue was thoroughly examined. Moreover, also the principles of State action deriving from international public order were taken into account.
What fault in the extradition request? What "principles of State action deriving from international public order"?

UPDATE: NYT reports:
[Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf] said the American authorities had rejected a request by her ministry for records of a hearing by the prosecutor in the case, Roger Gunson, in January 2010 which should have established whether the judge who tried the case in 1977 had assured Mr. Polanski that time he spent in a psychiatric unit would constitute the whole of the period of imprisonment he would serve.

“If this were the case, Roman Polanski would actually have already served his sentence and therefore both the proceedings on which the U.S. extradition request is founded and the request itself would have no foundation,” the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement.

July 11, 2010

"But conservatives need to recognize that the most pernicious sort of redistribution isn’t from the successful to the poor."

"It’s from savers to speculators, from outsiders to insiders, and from the industrious middle class to the reckless, unproductive rich."

"Despite protests from the West, her sentence will be carried out if the judiciary decides to carry it out..."

Iran relents in spite of/because of our objections.

Glenn rewatches "The Paper Chase"...

... and muses about the lack of any real Kingsfields these days.

Would you want a Socratic professor? Would you want to be one?

Paul was right!

"If Paul gets it wrong tomorrow, nothing is going to happen to him, to Paul. Paul has proven his mettle so far and there is nothing bad waiting for him round the corner if he gets it wrong. It could happen to anyone. Even an octopus can get it wrong."

At the Big Dessert Café...


... indulge yourself!

"I will respect both French law and Muslim law by taking off what I have on my head and not showing my hair."

Cennet Doganay, a religious/rebellious teenager, shaves her head.
France decided to ban all religious symbols in state schools, including large Christian crucifxes, Sikh turbans and Jewish skullcaps.

As the law was introduced in September, schools were told not to automatically exclude pupils who arrived wearing headscarves, but to try and avert a showdown through dialogue.
Doganay says: "I respect the law but the law doesn't respect me." She's good at expression, both in saying that and in the dramatic action of adopted the shaved-head look.

ADDED: After blogging that I saw that the story is dated October 1, 2004. That surprised me, because I clicked there from the current BBC.com "most popular" stories, specifically on the "most shared" list. There must be something in the news now that is making people look back to that story. Probably the debate over a ban on wearing burqas in public, going on now:
President Nicolas Sarkozy describes the full Islamic veil as "a sign of enslavement and debasement". Immigration minister Eric Besson calls it a "walking coffin". Even the usually restrained prime minister François Fillon accuses wearers of "hijacking Islam" and displaying a "dark sectarian image".

This kind of melodramatic language will dominate the debate currently being carried out in the national assembly in Paris as deputies consider a banning bill.... What's the point of it all? There are only around 2,000 women in France who actually wear a burqa (the cloak that covers a woman from head to foot) or a niqab (the more genuinely Islamic veil that conceals a woman's face). If the bill is passed next week, and then approved by the senate in September, then all can expect a nominal fine of €150 if they're caught wearing the garments. "Re-education" about republican values and civic responsibility is a more likely sanction....

Sarkozy and his allies say a ban will reinforce France's secular values, or laicité, with an extension of the legislation that saw all religious symbols, including the Islamic headscarf, banned in state schools in 2004. In reality, it will help the increasingly unpopular head of state to win votes....

"The crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made" — a lofty quote from Alexander Hamilton...

... quoted by William Kristol, who intones:
We are not now quite at a founding moment, or even a re-founding moment. But we have arrived at a genuine crisis, or a set of crises, and we may well be at a decisive moment for the country.
A picture of Hamilton is included, and I can't help thinking Kristol's into Hamilton in part because there's a resemblance between the 2 men:

Add a thought bubble to the Kristol pic: Can I get a tie like that?