November 27, 2010

Photo blues.

Oh dear...

Image-40979FA079BC11D8

You know what that is? It's the first digital photograph I ever took. I'm uploading it to Flickr tonight along with 2,000+ other photographs from 2004 to 2005. These were all pictures I originally uploaded to Mac.com, before I started using Flickr. I just discovered that when Apple started Me.com, all the photographs on Mac.com stopped displaying. I can still download them, but then I need to re-upload them, and they will have different code at that point, which means every blog post that originally displayed those photographs will need to be redone.

I have to go through all the old posts to find the ones that had photographs, open them up for editing, and enter the new code for the old photographs. Part of the process will be figuring out which photos belong in the post, which will not be easy. Maybe you think it doesn't matter what's in the archive 5 or 6 years ago, but it matters to me. A lot.

I'm so annoyed at Apple for doing this. I've paid every year to have a Mac.com account, mainly only to preserve those old photo displays. I have sometimes thought of putting the pictures on Flickr so I can stop making those annual payments. At least now I can stop paying, but I'm disgusted that after making all those payments to Apple, it saw fit to wreck all that work of mine.

***

By the way, thanks for using my links — my Black Friday gift selections — to buy things on Amazon. It really is nice to get the support from readers. I'm saying this here in case you're wondering what that book on the table is. It's "Strong Opinions" — and if you buy it at that link, some of the money will pay me for tending this blog, including the massive — 20,000+ posts — archive. It also works to use this search box:

"That Fat Lip Might Give Obama Some Street Cred."

An NPR headline for a Scott Simon piece:
I wonder if having a larger scar wouldn't actually fortify President Obama's profile, as he contends with Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Vladimir Putin. Imagine a president with a gnarly, vivid scar telling the rulers of China, "Nice country ya' got here. I'd hate to see something happen to it if you didn't stop foolin' around with the value of your currency. Know what I mean?"
Uh... I think the reason he got 12 stitches was because they were very tiny stitches so there won't be a visible scar. But here's NPR trying to rise above its wimpy reputation.

The last football Saturday of the year.

P1040167

If you've got something to say about it, say it here.

ADDED: And now, it's on to the Rose Bowl. But first... pick up that trash:



(Thanks to Chip Ahoy for animating my photo.)

"I have an old-fashioned rubber bicycle horn that I thought I'd stuff down into my junk before the pat-down."

"Hilarity ensues! Besides, anything that increases my junk profile has to be a good thing, right?"

No video of this actually happening at a real TSA groping at the link. Just some (genitalia-free) artwork.

"A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman says country singer Willie Nelson was charged with marijuana possession after 6 ounces was found aboard his tour bus in Texas..."

"Patrol spokesman Bill Brooks ... says an officer smelled pot when a door was opened and a search turned up marijuana."

Come on. Leave Willie alone.

"Religion doesn't do policy. All my decisions were based on policy and so they should be..."

"... and you may disagree with those decisions but they were made because I genuinely believed them to be right."

Said Tony Blair, as if a religious person can think about what what he believes is right without religion being part of the idea of what is right. That Blair blur happened in a debate with Christopher Hitchens, who asked:
"Is it good for the world to worship a deity that takes sides in wars and human affairs, to appeal to our fear and to our guilt — is it good for the world?...

"To terrify children with the image of hell ... to consider women an inferior creation. Is that good for the world?...
In the end, the audience got to vote on who won the debate, and Hitchens got 68% — 68% of those who would go to a debate — in Toronto — about whether or not religion is a force for the good.

(Via Crack Emcee — "Kick Ass: You Believers Are Little Kim Jong-Ils.")

Remember "Sorry Everybody"?

It was all the rage just about exactly 6 years ago. Americans were apologizing to the world for reelecting George Bush. Remember these people, displaying their sweet faces in an adorable attempt to let the world know that lots of us Americans are so sorry.

"The threat was very real. Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale."

The NYT reports on an Oregon teenager's attempt to blow up fake explosives — given him by the FBI — that he thought were real. According to the FBI, he wanted to kill everyone who showed up for a Christmas tree lighting in Portland.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. Friday just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would set off the blast but instead brought federal agents and police swooping down on him.

Yelling "Allahu Akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — Mohamud tried to kick agents and police after he was taken into custody, according to prosecutors....

[T]he sting operation began in June after an undercover agent learned that Mohamud had been in regular e-mail contact with an "unindicted associate" in Pakistan's northwest, a frontier region where al-Qaida and Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents are strong....
ADDED: I already had the tag "Christmas bomber," so I used that again. There's a new spin on the "War on Christmas."

November 26, 2010

"I can measure your body, in 3D..."

"... and I can make you perfectly fitting garments in the future without any sewing and stitching, making the needle and the thread obsolete."

The Prez gets an elbow to the face while playing basketball.

It takes 12 stitches to close up the wound.

"I am no fan of Ann Althouse, but I had to admit to a shudder of recognition when I read her criticism of liberals last week."

Says Maria Bustillos. She quotes this from me:
What is liberal about this attitude toward other people? You wallow in self-love, and what is it you love yourself for? For wanting to shower benefits on people… that you have nothing but contempt for.
Then she says:
This may not be such a very good description of liberals in general but it is an excellent description of J.K. Rowling. In the “touching” climactic scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the house-elf Dobby has been “liberated” by, and now sacrifices himself to save, Harry Potter & co. The house-elves as depicted in the movies are horrifyingly pathetic, small, cringing, grateful; the sad, brave little creature Dobby literally expires with the name of Harry Potter on his lips. It’s like freedom is the gift of the chosen ones to bestow, and those thus benefited can die of gratitude and be “properly buried," which really, there is this long burial scene complete with Harry Potter and shovel. It’s a perfect illustration of the “liberal condescension” that conservatives are always yodeling about, and it made my hair stand on end.
I haven't been following Harry Potter. Can anyone explain that?

At the Dying Light Café...



... there's still time to talk.



"Music is God. In difficult times, you feel it. Especially when you are suffering."

Today is the 107th birthday of Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest living Holocaust survivor.

"I am richer than other people."

If the individual mandate is unconstitutional, will the entire healthcare law be invalidated?

Judges Henry E. Hudson (in Virginia) and Judge Roger Vinson (in Florida) will rule on their case soon. Both of these judges were appointed by Republican Presidents. (The federal judge in Michigan who, in a case decided last month, found the mandate constitutional, was appointed by Bill Clinton.)

Assuming one of these judges says that Congress's power regulate commerce clause does not include a power to make private citizens buy insurance, what happens to the rest of the law? The law does not contain a severability clause. That is, it does not explicitly say what should happen to the rest of the law if part of it is stricken down.
An earlier version of the legislation, which passed the House last November, included severability language. But that clause did not make it into the Senate version, which ultimately became law. A Democratic aide who helped write the bill characterized the omission as an oversight.
Well, that's one hell of an oversight! I can certainly see why someone who wants the bill to survive would attempt to portray this as an oversight, but I don't think that's believable. The need for a severability clause is well-known and obvious.
Without such language, the Supreme Court, through its prior rulings, essentially requires judges to try to determine whether Congress would have enacted the rest of a law without the unconstitutional provisions.

The Justice Department, which represents the Obama administration, acknowledges that several of the law’s central provisions, like the requirement that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions, cannot work unless both the healthy and the unhealthy are mandated to have insurance. Otherwise, consumers could simply buy coverage when they needed treatment, causing the insurance market to “implode,” the federal government asserts.
So the individual mandate is plainly not severable from at least some of the rest of the law.
In a hearing last month, Judge Hudson remarked on the difficulty of determining Congress’s intent regarding a law with hundreds of disparate provisions. “This bill has more moving parts than a Swiss watch,” he said.
The administration, in arguing for the constitutionality of the individual mandate, has stressed how crucial it is to the success of the entire reform, but that inherently works as an argument against severability.

Black Friday on the Althouse blog.

Okay, I can help you and you can help me. I write for you every day, and you don't have to give me anything. But if you're shopping anyway, a cut of the price you would pay anyway will go to me if you use the links below — which helpfully give you some Althouse-tested gift ideas. If you already know what you want to buy, you can use the Amazon search box in my sidebar and that too will work as a contribution to this blog — again, without raising the price to you. So show some cheap free love for Althouse and click through from here.

Althouse's favorite movie.

Meade's favorite movie.


The Meadhouse blender.

The Meadhouse way to make coffee.

The camera Althouse carries around all the time.

Althouse's favorite Nikon lens.

The chocolate Althouse eats every day.

A device Althouse uses for drawing with the computer.

The book Althouse most enjoyed reading this year.

Possibly the only movie we bothered to see in the theater this year.

The trekking poles we use all the time.

My small-but-nice hydrating backpack.

My too-much-information scale.

The Meadhouse trail stove.

The soil knife Meade planted over 1,000 bulbs with.

The newest old stuff from Meadhouse's favorite artist.

I love my iPad.

The iPhone I'm getting when my old iPhone dies.

Some memoirs I read and liked: Patti Smith, Keith Richards, Hitch, Bush, Franzen, Orwell ...

And one I will read: Mark Twain.

How we squish and heat our sandwiches.

4 new trucks Meade wants to put on AllenS's wish list.

A game for a young person.

A game I like to play.

The original version of the game they'll make me play, which I'm ordering right now, because the wood pieces will give me $22 worth of pleasure over the plastic pieces in the game we have in the house.

So let's get the vintage version of this game I loved as a kid.

The hiking shoes Althouse likes a lot.

The clogs Althouse keeps by the door to step into and then kick off as soon as she's in the car.

The Meadhouse salad spinner.

Althouse's noise-canceling headphones.

Althouse splurges on lip balm.

My all-time favorite TV-comedy.

The official Meadhouse chips.

The official Althouse crackers.

Where we sit.

The Althouse desk lamp.

Expensive, but this has helped me so much and made daily life so pleasurable.

It works for me: night and day creams.

What I picked out when I went perfume-shopping with Palladian.

What Palladian picked out for me based on my love of smoke-flavored things.

The fragrance I picked out long ago
based initially on the shape of the bottle and which is actually really great if you like roses.

The Meadhouse drinking glasses.

The Althouse sketchbook.

Gift card!

Lotsa gift cards!

The Meadhouse coffee: espresso ground and whole bean.

"Across the country, Four Loko 'vigil' parties have ... been held to say goodbye to the drink."

The FDA — with pressure short of an actual ban — has driven the product off the market. Four Loko combines one cup of coffee's worth of caffeine with 4 beers' worth of alcohol.
The fight against Four Loko has led many consumers – especially young ones – to defend their favorite party pop – and stock up....

"Every time I drank a Four Loko, something terrible happened," one person told the website Gothamist at a tribute march to the drink in New York City. "And each time I grew from it."

Facebook groups, petitions and even YouTube videos have also sprouted up in support of the drink.

"Get the government out of my Loko!" wrote one petitioner.
It's hard to believe the government gets involved in such matters. It's almost a kind of snobbery. It's not a classy product, by design. It's like Smucker's Goober. Some people think you seem like an idiot not being able to get peanut butter out of one jar and jelly out of another... and why are you eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches anyway? Why don't you make a sandwich with thinly sliced turkey and fresh greens? You... goober!

So, without Four Loko, what will you do? Let alcohol have its effect without the offsetting effect of a cup of coffee? Eh. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you can drink coffee with your alcohol. I'm sure simpler approaches easily occur even to drunks. You could take a big swig out of a can of Red Bull or DoubleShotEspresso and top it up with vodka. Or you can do what I observed Ohio State fans doing here last month:
They drink beer and guzzle 5-Hour Energy in berry and grape flavors. Run yourself down with alcohol and then pep yourself up again with that awful glop?
See? I'm a snob. "Awful glop." But I'm not the government enacting my snobbery into law. I'm just insulting your taste, exercising my free speech. It seems to me that if I can sip French-press coffee with a single-malt Scotch, you should be able to slug Four Loko.

And, in honor of Black Friday, here's a Christmas present idea: a nice case of Jolt Caffeine Energy Gum. Or: Penguin Caffeinated Peppermints.

"I felt like Neo from 'The Matrix.' I began hearing voices and feeling powerful."

"They were asking about the difference between mom and mother. It was a sign."

I don't think that a mentally ill person facing a murder charge should be giving — be allowed to give? — a press interview. Perhaps I shouldn't be interested in reading this.
His mother ... knocked on the door and asked him to go to the kitchen and pour water from a pot in which she was cooking three chickens. "I looked at these chickens lying dead in the pot and a voice told me it was a sacrifice. It was black magic," he said.

Brea left the chickens alone and went back to his room. When his mother asked why he did not do what she had asked, he said she spoke with a different voice.

"She had the voice of the demon. I opened the door with the dagger at my side and the sword," he said....
"To you it might sound silly, but in my culture demons are very real."

November 25, 2010

At the First Ice Café...



... oh, it's cold...



... but we're not crusted over yet...



... share the last glow of warmth here tonight.

Pretending to be pretending to be alone at Indian Lake.



Thanksgiving, at sunset, 2010.

Irradiating food. Irradiating people.

Irradiation is a great way to improve food safety:
Bacteria, viruses, and everything else are all sterilized by the radiation. Ionizing radiation is used because it's high energy, and is extremely dangerous to living tissue.... [T]he food coming out the other end — be it bread, milk, meat, fruit, or cheese — is absolutely sterile and, if properly sealed, will last longer on your shelf than virtually anything else in the supermarket....
But Americans are too freaked out by it:
The circular green logo along with the words "Treated with irradiation" are so terrifying to much of the American public that the process has been put virtually out of business. Most Americans would prefer to accept a few E. coli deaths....
Even though there is absolutely no radiation in the food that we would buy:
Food irradiation... does not place radioactive material onto the food. The food is placed in the radiation field, and then it's removed. Run a Geiger counter over it, and it shows zero. Food that's been irradiated is not radioactive.
But we're too scared of this radiation to use it to protect ourselves from the very real bacteria in food that can kill us.

If we're overcautious to the point of irrationality about radiation, why then are we at all willing to let the government irradiate our bodies?
In April, four scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote a public letter to the White House warning that the government may have underestimated the dosage of ionizing radiation delivered to a person's skin from a backscatter machine by one or two orders of magnitude. The scientists, who have expertise in biochemistry, biophysics, oncology, and X-ray crystallography, pointed out that the government's estimate was based on radiation exposure for the entire body. During scanning, the majority of radiation will be focused on the surface of the body, meaning a more concentrated dose of radiation is delivered to the skin....
Ed Nickoloff, professor of radiology at Columbia University and chief hospital physicist at Columbia University Medical Center, says the data isn't yet clear either way. "At this point, until I knew more information, I'd tell people to take the pat-down," he says.
Is it that we are not only irrational, but we are also irrational in our choice of what to be irrational about? I don't think so. Food radiation was something that businesses were permitted to do, but they stopped because we avoided buying the product. The government isn't asking us whether we want our bodies irradiated if we want to travel by plane. It's not like going to the grocery store and picking one package of hamburger instead of another. We still get our hamburger. We don't have a choice of flying with radiation or without radiation. The only choice the government gives us is not to fly or to accept a groping.

In the UK, a 15-year-old girl is arrested for burning the Koran — and posting a video of her conduct/speech on Facebook.

This is happening in the U.K.!
It is thought the girl, who lives in the Sandwell Council area, was allegedly filmed setting the booklet alight while other pupils watched.
Booklet?
It is understood that the group who published that version of the Koran have since been to the school to talk to pupils.
Were Korans distributed by public school officials? Under what circumstances? If you want a book to be treated with respect, don't hand it out free to teenagers. Maybe the school officials should be arrested.
Bob Badham, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council cabinet member for education, said he had visited the school and believed the atmosphere was generally good among pupils. He added that he did not believe there was a "deeper problem" in the area.
Is contempt for religious indoctrination a "deeper problem" that government should concern itself with? I think the deeper problem is that government officials in the U.K. seem to have lost touch with basic principles of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

These kids today are so afraid of looking stupid that they won't get serious, collectivize, and change the world — declaims Mark Ames, spittle flying.

Stephen Green (via Instapundit) calls attention to this Mark Ames article (from October) "The Rally to Restore Vanity: Generation X Celebrates Its Homeric Struggle Against Lameness." Green cherrypicks a remark that appears at the very end:
Anytime anyone says anything libertarian, spit on them. Libertarians are by definition enemies of the state: they are against promoting American citizens’ general welfare and against policies that create a perfect union. Like Communists before them, they are actively subverting the Constitution and the American Dream, and replacing it with a Kleptocratic Nightmare.
Green — without noting that the Ames's whole article is about lameness — snarks that spitting is "lame." Instapundit grimly labels it "The Descent of the Left."

But let's look at Ames's whole article — and not be distracted by the terrible practice of spitting on libertarians. (I will not be side-tracked into blogging about what the lefties would say if the spit were flying in the opposite direction.)

Ames was reacting to the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally, which to him was the manifestation of the younger generation's need to keep an ironic distance from politics — an effort to avoid lameness. Ames wants young people to rediscover liberalism, which was "once devoted to impossible causes like ending racism and inequality, empowering the powerless, fighting against militarism, and all that silly hippie shit." (Ames himself is 45, by the way, too young to have been a real hippie, but older than the people he criticizes.)

Ames found the Rally to Restore Sanity "depressing and grotesque" — like "some kind of sick funeral party  for Liberalism, in which Liberals are led, at last, by a clown." (Aw, come on, Ames. The liberals have been led by a clown before. Just not a very funny clown.) Ames is disgusted by the way the rally-goers take pride in how smart they are because they "don’t take themselves too seriously":
That’s why they’re following a clown like Stewart, whose entire political program comes down to this: not being stupid, the way the other guys are stupid–or when being stupid, only stupid in a self-consciously stupid way, which is to say, not stupid. That’s it, that’s all this is about: Not to protest wars or oligarchical theft or declining health care or crushing debt or a corrupt political system or imperial decay—nope, the only thing that motivates Liberals to gather in the their thousands is the chance to celebrate their own lack of stupidity! Woo-hoo!
It's a liberal trope that I've been following over the past week, after Isthmus reporter Bill Lueders wrote a piece called "The Triumph of Stupidity," in which he triumphed over getting UW polisci professor to say the voters are "pretty damn stupid." It's that "What's the Matter with Kansas?" notion that liberals have — that people who don't vote for liberal candidates are too dumb to know where their own interests lie. Ames is looking at the other side of that phenomenon: Liberals themselves are caught up in their self-image of not being the stupid ones, and, Ames is saying, this obsession of theirs undercuts the old-time, serious liberal project of remaking the world in pursuit of big, broad ideals like equality.

Ames has a great insight into "why so many Gen-X/Yers turned against Obama": "he made them look stupid."  They took Obama seriously. They believed. And that set them up to look.... lame!

Ames writes many paragraphs trashing E. A. Hanks's "Dear The Left: A Breakup Letter." (She's Tom Hanks's daughter!) Hanks seems to want to separate herself from political movements and embrace something like libertarianism. Ames declaims:
If the ruling class has enormous amounts of money and power and collectivizes in a variety of billionaires’ unions and special interests unions, and your answer is, “I’ll go it alone, at least I won’t look stupid” then you’re just fucking stupid.
So it is all about not looking stupid? Anyway, after much verbiage, which I'm skipping, including the part about Bob Dylan — marvel at my restraint! — he gets to his point, which is that liberals need to cast individualism aside and get collectivized, even though that's not distanced and ironic and unserious:
Collective action is the only possible way to change shit. Large numbers of collectivized nobodies rallying to demand what they want–a better cut of the pie...
Pie! Michelle said we could have pie!
... and a better world to live in. It’s the only thing that power-elites fear and the only way to get them to negotiate.... You’ll have to stomach being around people who are lame, and who say lame things, and you’ll feel lame—so you’ll have to decide which is lamer: the fear of being lame, or forming an alliance with people lamer than you in order to struggle against people far meaner, far more greedy and destructive than the lame people you hate—people who have no qualms about being lame when they collectivize, so long as they destroy you and grab everything they want. 
In other words, don't mock the Tea Party. Get out there. Be like them. Be mockable. That's the first of 3 prescriptions Ames ends with. The third is the one Green quoted: Anathematize libertarians. (The metaphor is to spit.) And the reason for anathematizing libertarians is Ames's second prescription:  liberalism needs a big, serious goal to collectivize about and that goal is the redistribution of wealth:
[P]eople need money. Then if they have money, they need Life. Then they might be interested in “ideals” set out in the contract that this country is founded on. Ever read the preamble to the Constitution? There’s nothing about private property there and self-interest. Nothing at all about that. It’s a contract whose purpose is ...  a “more Perfect Union”—that’s “union,” as in the pairing of the words “perfect” and “union”—not sovereign, not states, not local, not selfish, but “union.” And that other purpose at the end of the Constitution’s contractual obligations: promote the “General Welfare.” That means “welfare.” Not “everyone for himself” but “General Welfare.” That’s what it is to be American: to strive to form the most perfect union with each other, and to promote everyone’s general betterment. That’s it. The definition of an American patriot is anyone promoting the General Welfare of every single American, and anyone helping to form the most perfect Union—that’s “union”, repeat, “Union” you dumb fucks. 
Ames is still playing on his audience's fear of being the stupid ones — even as he spews some crazy shit he wants us to hear as brilliant. Don't be a dumb fuck, believe me when I tell you: This individualism is a trick the billionaires are playing on you. Come together, live as One.

Ames boldly palms this off as constitutional interpretation. The "more perfect union" in the Preamble isn't the reallocation of powers between the federal government and the state governments to deal with the problems that arose under the Articles of Confederation. No, Ames's big, serious lie — and you should worry that you're a dumb fuck if you don't believe it — is that the Constitution compels us to set aside our individual pursuit of happiness and dedicate ourselves to the collective.

Food writers hate Thanksgiving because they have to write once again about basically the same meal.

Hey. I see what you did there. You had to write about Thanksgiving again, so you wrote about hating to have to write about Thanksgiving again. What will you do next year? Write about writing about having to write about Thanksgiving again? You're not going to be able to keep up that meta game.

"This is the time" — I hope you're thankful.

I hope you made it to your destination okay. Or, if you're staying home, that you're warm and cozy. Feel free to eat pie: Michelle Obama has given us a dispensation to eat pie.

I liked this shopping-for-Thanksgiving story Chip Ahoy told in the comments at last night's Lake Dusk Café:
The grocery was crowded tonight. Everybody is in high spirits and eager to engage. I encountered two guys picking out a GIGANTIC turkey that barely fit into their cart. The turkey was frozen solid. I remarked on its size and they were filled with glee and good cheer, pleased with their choice. I suggested they might consider an ostrich and they laughed like they just met a hilarious stranger. I did not have the heart to tell them there is no way that thing is going to thaw by tomorrow. No way. I can see it all now; they will cook it anyway. Guy are like that. The outside will be charred and the inside will still be ice. The sequence of events is set, there is no escaping the inevitability, their turkey will be a complete disaster. Years on they will recall tomorrow as a favorite Thanksgiving coming of age fiasco story.
Are you cooking anything? Or did you cook everything already? I'm told real feast-masters do the Thanksgiving cooking before Thanksgiving, and by that standard, I've never cooked a real Thanksgiving dinner. I'm thankful that I've made it nearly to the age of 60 without ever going on the guilt-trip that my Thanksgivings were not sufficiently Thanksgiving-y because I didn't start the preparations days in advance.

Well, maybe I once made a pie — maybe even 2 pies — on the Wednesday. Did I tell you it's officially okay in America today to eat pie? Our national mother has said we may.
Michelle Obama has granted permission for all of us to totally forget anything she says about eating 'cause it's Thanksgiving.  It's okay [today] to go ahead and have pie.  It was in her interview with Barbara Walters.  It's Thanksgiving, eat whatever you want.  But on Friday you gotta get back to what Michelle says you have to do. 
Oh, yeah, she said:
"Don't worry about how much you eat. Just enjoy it.... This is the time. Have pie."
This is the time. Our time to turn the page on the abstemious diets of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new appetite to the piled-high platters we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the food we love. The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. We face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of our own limitations. But we also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide pie for the sick and pie to the jobless; this was the moment when the tightening of the belts began to slow and our gluttony began to increase; this was the moment when we ended our self-denial and secured our yummies and restored our image as the chubbiest humans on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great dinner so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.  Thank you, God. And God bless the United States of America.

November 24, 2010

At the Lake Dusk Café...

P1040984

P1040992

P1040988

... we can drift off into a fantasy of the past.

"It's kind of like a turkey version of 'Dancing With the Stars,' except the stakes for the contestants was much higher."

"Only one pair would survive and win the big prize: life."

Obama turkey pardoning joke with a hint of cultural relevancy and a possibly accidental implication of ill will toward Bristol Palin. Hey. Wait a minute. That reminds me...



Memories!

Sarah Palin plays the class card.

Calls the Bushes "blue bloods" for wanting her to stay in Alaska.

"To tell you the truth, I'm not 100 percent certain America is made up of states. We might be living in a fiefdom, for all I know."

"Am I spelling that right? 'Wisconsin.' It looks weird written out.... Ladies and gentlemen, isn't it time you elected someone who only learned five minutes ago that there are three branches of government, not 14?... Russ Feingold could point out Washington, D.C. with his eyes closed, and I have never quite grasped the difference between a map and a light-up globe. That is the difference I bring to the race, and that is the kind of leadership we need.... What we don't need is Russ Feingold, who is a Democrat capable of conjugating verbs and composing thoughts in sentence form. I'll be honest, I have absolutely no clue what I've been saying here this entire time. What is time? Where am I? Who are you? How do telescopes work, and why am I writing this right now? I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. Because I am an outsider and Russ Feingold is a man with dark hair. Furthermore, overspending, the left-wing media, tax cuts, class warfare, Muslims, Obamacare, Nancy Pelosi, corporate giveaways, socialism, Nancy Pelosi. Washington, D.C. Voter-people of Wisoncassinn, my name is Rob Jameson, and I want to be your congressman or Parliament or surgeon general or whatever the hell it is I'm running for. Thank you."

Just ran across that Onion shredding of Ron Johnson. It's really funny. Especially now. The voters are pretty damn stupid.... ha ha ha.

"Mom, Jeremy Won't Let Me Create An Atmosphere Of Sustained Menace."

"C'mon, make him stop, Mom! Make him surrender to the mood of anxiety and fear I am actively trying to entrap him with! I was just attempting to conjure a sense of unrelenting dread through verbal and physical intimidation, but Jeremy's ruining it, God, what's his problem! Constructing a fearful ambience wherein I torment and threaten Jeremy in an effort to make him aware of his own inferiority to me is really fun and he won't go along with it, Mom!"

"Is it just me, or is George Bush the worst President in the history of the United States?"

UPDATE: The video went dead. It showed the comedian Neil Hamburger saying that line, listening while the audience cheered and hooted anti-Bushily, and then saying: "Which makes it all the harder to understand why his son, George W. Bush, is in fact the best president we’ve ever had." Ha ha. I love that.

The iPhone captures an antique look.

As Meade photographs Althouse on the north shore of Lake Mendota, yesterday, at sunset:

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(Enlarge.)

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"The essence of Progressivism, the narrative behind the Wisconsin Idea, is that the 'experts' on Bascom Hill would instruct their lessers..."

"... especially legislators popularly elected by the rabble, to scrape the manure off their boots before they enter the State Capitol.”

Says David Blaska, having his say on the Charles Franklin dust-up.

For nonWisconsinites: "Bascom Hill" means the University of Wisconsin—Madison and "The Wisconsin Idea" means this.

"This is the old 'bitter clingers' (or 'What's the Matter With Kansas?') argument reduced to utter incoherence."

James Taranto quotes Gov. Ed Rendell...
[P]eople don't always vote on logical reasons. Emotion drives voters particularly when they have reason to be angry and frustrated. If you lost your job or lost your house or lost your 401k, you had every reason to be angry and frustrated and when you are, you have a tendency to blame the people who are in office...
... and — via me — UW polisci professor Charles Franklin:
I'm not endorsing the American voter... They're pretty damn stupid.
Taranto — being much nicer to Franklin than Rush Limbaugh was — includes the self-defense Franklin wrote in the comments to my blog:
... [V]oters embraced Ron Johnson before they knew much about him. . . . The race wasn't about specific details of Johnson vs Feingold, it was a rejection of Democrats more or less regardless of what voters knew about the GOP candidate... [D]espite not knowing the details of Johnson's policy positions, the voters did NOT make a mistake in choosing Johnson as the more conservative candidate and certain to be more favorable to cutting government....
Taranto finds this incoherent: "In other words, the electorate was smart. So why did Franklin call them stupid?"

***

By the way, I love Taranto's Best of the Web. This, from the same link, had me in hysterics:
Such as: What the Heck Is Tomosynthesis?
"Breast Tomosynthesis on Verge of U.S. Approval, but Questions Linger"--headline, DotMed.com, Nov. 24

Matt Bai identifies "the central theme of Mr. Obama’s presidency: America’s faltering confidence in the ability of government to make things work."

He begins with the example of the the new get-naked-or-groped TSA policy and goes on:
From stimulus spending and the health care law to the federal response to oil in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Obama has continually stumbled...
I add my longtime blog tag "Obama stumbles" to this post.
... blindly, it seems — into some version of the same debate, which is about whether we can trust federal bureaucracies to expand their reach without harming citizens or industry....
Bai notes that during the Reagan and Clinton years, America turned away from "the era of big government," but then:
[T]he unraveling of the second Bush administration and the 2008 election... persuaded a lot of long-dispirited liberals that their philosophy, and not simply their party, had been restored. 
What a delusion!

"The Most Hilarious Piece You'll Ever Read About Gays in the Military."

Choire Sicha points at a really, really bad effort at satire:
D.C. comedy site "The Daily Caller" has a hilarious piece today, extremely Swiftian and sophisticated in its humor and irony! It is by a former Tennessee District Attorney, named Joe Rehyansky. It goes like this: "I have never encountered my eminently sensible proposal, one that protects the patriotic urges of some homosexuals as well as the national interest on the basis of 'force readiness' arguments which should govern the thinking of those charged with implementing the defense of our country: Lesbians should be allowed to serve, gay men (hereafter 'gays') should not."...

"Obama's looking weak for re-election in 2012."

According to a new McClatchy-Marist poll:
Nearly half of his own base — 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents — want someone to challenge him for the Democratic nomination...

And, assuming he wins re-nomination, barely more than 1 in 3 voters, or 36 percent, said they'll definitely vote for him, while nearly half, 48 percent, said they'll definitely vote against him....

Among groups lining up against Obama early:

Whites, by a margin of 57-27
  • Men, 55-31
  • Independents, 50-30
  • Midwesterners, 51-35
  • Southerners, 54-32
  • Westerners, 47-41
Those planning definitely to vote for him rather than against him:
  • Minorities, by a margin of 57-28
  • Northeasterners, 39-36
  • Liberals, 74-17
The strategy for Obama is obvious: Make more liberals!

"[T]he very essence of old-line Democratic feminism is to reject feminine appeal."

Claims Glenn Reynolds, responding to Elizabeth Wurtzel who calls Democrats "total morons for not finding their own hot mama."

Hey! What about Hillary? She's likable hot enough.

November 23, 2010

Bristol Palin: "Going out there and winning ... would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me."

Awaiting the results on "Dancing with the Stars."

UPDATE: And the winner is...

A very cold sunset, tonight, near the north shore of Lake Mendota.

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A few minutes earlier:

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"It is not comfortable to come to work knowing full well that my hands will be feeling another man’s private parts, their butt, their inner thigh."

"Even worse is having to try and feel inside the flab rolls of obese passengers and we seem to get a lot of obese passengers!"

Ron Paul on the TSA: "This one is just such an affront, so much out in the open, and government being so bold as to molest in public..."

"... and say they're doing it for our interest. If we tolerate this, there's something wrong with us. I mean something wrong with it. It's almost like... It's probably not fair to say this, because so many people don't deserve it. We deserve some of this stuff. If we don't do something about it. And hopefully, the American people will do something. They'll eventually have to boycott the airlines or whatever. Or throw more of the bums out. Maybe the Congress will get off their duff and do something in January and insist we rein in the TSA."

"Fox News Commentators Caught On Camera Mocking Sarah Palin's Show."

Interesting clip, but I note that there are 5 commentators, and 3 sit silently while 2 do all the talking. The 3 are all men. The 2 are women. I'm picking up a real female-against-female vibe in this clip. It's not just what the women say and how they say it, it's the way the men sit back and maintain steely silence.

What shoes do you wear...

... when you go biking?

"The South Korean military went to 'crisis status' on Tuesday..."

"... and threatened military strikes after the North fired dozens of shells at a South Korean island, killing two of the South’s soldiers and setting off an exchange of fire in one of the most serious clashes between the two sides in decades."

You can freak out quite a lot in 4 minutes and 14 seconds.

A montage of Nicolas Cage (containing a lot of yelling and many iterations of "fuck"):



Via Metafilter
.

"He's a scourge on the whole profession of political science."

Yikes.

Look what I started. (Limbaugh doesn't name me but reads from the Byron York piece that plays off of a blog post of mine.)

Hey!

I'm in the NYT.

Talking about Sarah Palin with Jacob Weisberg.

Sally Quinn — who says "Dancing is my religion" — denounces Bristol Palin's success on "Dancing with the Stars" as "unholy."

And this strangely sanctimonious journalist — she's writing in the always awful "On Faith" section of The Washington Post — condemns Palin voters for "cheating" 7 paragraphs after she confesses to doing something that is at least as much cheating as what the Palin fans are said to be doing.
My husband and I are "DWTS" fanatics.  We plan our social life around it, often regretting invitations that fall on the night of the show....
Ridiculous!
Not only that, but I vote.  Under the show's rules, you're allowed to vote five times on one line. I have six lines at home and my cell, so I vote as many times as I can for my favorite. 
So this lady, this longtime Washington powerbroker, has 6 phone lines, and she maxes each line out, each week, voting 30 times. But that's the show's rules. They can't tell how many individuals vote are voting. They can only see phone numbers. So if your family of 5 watches the show and you — you economic losers — only have one phone, you can make 5 calls. Sally Quinn happens to have 6 phone lines, so she gets 30 votes — under the rules.
This season, I'm voting for Jennifer Grey all the way. She is by far the best dancer on the show.
She's voting correctly. For the best dancer. You stupid people are voting for Bristol Palin. Lord knows why.
.... Brandy - a fabulous dancer -- was eliminated last week. She was definitely my runner up. (Jennifer has to win. She's head and shoulders above everyone else.) We were having a dinner party and I made my guests leave the table to watch the final half of DWTS. Norman Lear was with us. Norman is not a DWTS follower but got caught up in the moment too. As the music started and I waited breathlessly to see Bristol be told she was out. I was squeezing Norman's hand when Brandy, not Bristol, was sent home. I couldn't believe it. Neither could the judges and studio audience. Derek  and Jennifer's mouths dropped open. Boos could be heard.
Oh, the social life I'm missing! Norman Lear! Ah! And I'm stranded out here in the heartland where I can only imagine the sparkling, witty conversation. Perhaps: "The American voters are pretty damned stupid"... that sort of thing.
It seemed Bristol and her partner were just as surprised. Brandy cried. I have to confess I teared up. It just didn't seem right.

Bloggers, columnists and TV commentators jumped on the results.  There must be cheating going on, they said.  It was all a tea party plot. That could be the only explanation for this appalling miscarriage of justice.

Sarah Palin's detractors point to the Christian right as the culprits here. The say groups organized voting schemes to game the system and were telling each other how to cheat when voting at ABC.com.

Commenters on the conservative blog Hillbuzz.org said they had figured out how to enter more votes than the rules allow by creating fake e-mail addresses. One person posting on Hillbuzz said "Lord have mercy, I voted for three hours online! I got 300 in."
What is a "fake e-mail address"? The rules say you are allowed 5 votes from each email address, just as you are allowed 5 votes from each phone number. Some people have multiple phone numbers and some have multiple email addresses. What's the difference? All I can think of is that you have to spend money to have multiple phone numbers, and you can get multiple email accounts free. It feels so right for rich folk to get more. I love when liberals slip up like that.
I never remember all Ten Commandments off the top of my head, but there should be one that says, "Thou shalt not cheat while voting on 'Dancing with the Stars.'" Polls have shown that the majority of tea party members are conservative Christians. Are these Christians who are voting 300 times and not using valid email addresses? Doesn't it offend their sense of fairness, if not ethics and morals?
Well, that whole paragraph offends my sense of reason. You're just assuming that the votes are coming from Christians, imagining that these Christians pontificate about morality, and accuse them of cheating when they seem to be following the same rules that let you vote on 6 phone lines? You're blind to your own hypocrisy, even as you have a platform in the Washington Post where you can preen and try to look like you have something especially important to say about religion.

Obama's approval rating is now at 39%.

It's so low it's one point ahead of the puzzlingly popular Sarah Palin.

And it's nowhere near George Bush's low point. If Obama feels bad about his current predicament, let him take some advice from George Bush:
LAUER:  When you left office, President Bush, your popularity numbers were around 30 percent, give or take, depending on the poll.  You say it... It didn't bother you?

BUSH: No, it didn't.

LAUER: You know, I try to personalize that.  I-- I've been doin' this job for 14 years.  And if after 14 years, only 30 percent of people who've watched this show think I did a good job--

BUSH: They'll fire ya.
LAUER: Well, it's gonna hurt like hell.

BUSH: I don't think it does.  No.  Because I-- I also was, as you just mentioned, at one time over 90 percent.  I didn't take it seriously then.  I don't take it-- didn't take it seriously when I left office.  Somebody walked up to me the other day and said, "Congratulations.  Your popularity is way up since you left office."  And my answer was, "So what?"  Seriously.  I mean if you chase popularity, you're chasing a moment.  You're chasing a poof of air.
If you chase popularity... you're chasing a poof of air.

On the other hand, this is a democracy. And, like the man said, They'll fire ya.

"In 'Satisfaction' I was imagining horns, trying to imitate their sound to put on the track later when we recorded."

"I'd already heard the riff in my head the way Otis Redding did it later, thinking, this is gonna be in the horn line. But we didn't have any horns, and I was only going to lay down a dub. The fuzz tone came in handy so I could give a shape to what the horns were supposed to do. But the fuzz tone had never been heard before anywhere, and that's the sound that caught everybody's imagination. Next thing I know, we're listening to ourselves in Minnesota somewhere on the radio, 'Hit of the Week,' and we didn't even know Andrew had put the fucking thing out! At first I was mortified. As far as I was concerned that was just the dub.... And I learned that lesson — sometimes you can overwork things."

That's Keith Richards, in his autobiography, "Life," learning a lesson about spontaneity and minimalism. (Page 177.)

Here's the Otis Redding version, with the horns as Richards had originally intended. Speaking of intent, I don't think Richards intended to imply a criticism of Redding's version, only to tell the story of how he produced the sound we hear on the Rolling Stones original recording. He's essentially giving himself a double compliment: 1. I imagined the full orchestration that the best soul music people of the time produced, and 2. I ingeniously used the guitar (with a Gibson fuzz tone pedal) to produce that sound and outdid them by cranking it all out quickly.

But Richards did, backhandedly, put down Otis Redding. You can overwork things

November 22, 2010

At the Stop Light Café...

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... stop in. Talk about whatever you want.

Richard Epstein talks with great speed and substance about his former law school colleague, Barack Obama, and all sorts of details about the economy.

Auto-correct hilarity.

The Frisky picked out 10 great examples from Damn You Auto Correct. (Via Instapundit.) They had me screaming in hysterics with tears running down my face.

Looking to extend my hysteria, I went to the source blog (Damn You Auto Correct) and got pulled into a somber reverie by this one, where the question "How jealous are you?!" brings the response "Spool!" That was supposed to be "soooo!" The texters both hope that "Spool!" will become a new exclamation.

All I can say is: "Krapp's Last Tape"!

At the Birdhouse Moving Day Café...



... get all this crap out of here.

(Thanks to Chip Ahoy for animating of my photograph.)

Al Gore explains his mistaken support for the government's terrible ethanol policy.

"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

So... self-interest then. Where's his self-interest taking him these days?

Did you know there was a serious author who was being ridiculed in Jack Handey's "Deep Thoughts"?

Yes. His name was Hugh Prather, and he published a book called "Notes to Myself" in 1970. It included things like:
¶“Another day to listen and love and walk and glory. I am here for another day. I think of those who aren’t.”

¶“My prayer is: I will be what I will be, I will do what I will do.”

¶“When I get to where I can enjoy just lying on the rug picking up lint balls, I will no longer be too ambitious.”
Later, he wrote “I Touch the Earth, the Earth Touches Me” and “Wipe Your Face, You Just Swallowed My Soul.” He "founded and ran a religion, the Dispensable Church."  Also, the Moosewood Restaurant (in Ithaca) was named after his dog, Moosewood.

He's dead now, at age 72.

And I love "Deep Thoughts"....
You might think that the favorite plant of the porcupine is the cactus, but it's thinking like that that has almost ruined this country.

"What this amendment is going to do is officially disfavor and condemn the Muslim community as being a threat to Oklahoma."

Argument today in the case against that Oklahoma amendment:
The amendment would require Oklahoma courts to "rely on federal and state law when deciding cases" and "forbids courts from considering or using" either international law or Islamic religious law, known as Sharia, which the amendment defined as being based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

In bringing suit, CAIR argued that the amendment violates both the establishment and free-exercise clauses of the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. Awad has said the amendment passed "under a campaign of fearmongering" about Islam.

The Japanese justice minister had to resign after saying that his job is easy because he has 2 phrases that work whenever he's stuck for an answer.

The phrases are:
  1. "'I will not comment on specific cases."
  2. "We are dealing with the matter in line with the law and evidence."
Can you imagine an American politician even getting in much trouble for a wiseass remark like that?

Anti-Palinites lay into Bristol Palin, who performs tonight in the "Dancing With the Stars" finale.

Feel the hate:
Palin, described by one online poster as “a block of wood in a dress,” is the easily the worst hoofer to ever make it to the finals in “Dancing’s” 11 seasons.

Her most remarkable trait is her ability to drift off in a fugue state while dancing....

In mixing a political figure amid its celebrities, the No. 1 prime-time show shot itself in the foot. A Palin win Tuesday night will prove connections trump talent. What celebrities will want to sign up in the future?...

Expect a lot of blather tonight about “the journey.” It’s a way to anticipate and temper the controversy over a Palin victory.
Whatever happens, keep your firearms locked up. Don’t follow the example of the Wisconsin man who shot up his TV last week after watching Bristol dance.
That's a Boston Herald columnist, a grown man, attacking a teenager... for dancing. Somehow it's an injustice if Jennifer Grey doesn't win. Jennifer Grey, supposedly she's a nondancer, eligible to be a contestant even though she danced famously in a very famous movie about dancing. Bristol wasn't even an entertainer, but she stepped up and exposed herself to all manner of embarrassment, trying to dance in front of an audience for the first time. And it's not as if Jennifer Grey has relied purely on dancing. Grey — with strong help from the showvigorously milked emotions over the death of Patrick Swayze on "Dancing With the Stars." So I don't want to hear any of this "fairness" crap.

ADDED: Bristol was a teenager when the season began. She turned 20 in October.

"He'd always kiss her goodbye and hold her hand... He would never get mad at her and lose his patience."

"Whatever she asked of him, that's what he did."

"Have the Ivy League charlatans drop back to the follow-up car. We've got an election coming up. The whole point is for me to be accessible to the people."

Former Secret Service agent Jerry Blaine remembers what JFK said to him just days before the assassination:
Photos of the motorcade show, regardless of what the president said, Hill was riding on the back of the car during an earlier part of the route.

By the time the motorcade reached the stretch of roadway where the assassination occurred, however, agents could no longer ride on the fenders, Blaine says.

"We were going into a freeway, and that's where you take the speeds up to 60 and 70 miles an hour. So we would not have had any agents there anyway," he said.
That was 47 years ago, today.

Laurie "Bambi" Bembenek — Wisconsin folk heroine — dead at age 52.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a long obituary:
Laurie Bembenek was the former Milwaukee police officer charged with killing her then-husband's ex-wife, Christine Schultz. She was convicted in 1982 and sentenced to life in prison, but that was far, far from the end of the story.

In 1990, with the help of fiancé Dominic Gugliatto, the brother of another inmate, she escaped from Taycheedah Correctional Institution. They were captured three months later in Thunder Bay, Ontario. More legal proceedings resulted in her pleading guilty to second-degree murder and being released on parole for time served.

After Bembenek's 1990 escape, supporters held a rally, many of them wearing Bembenek masks so that "she'll be able to walk around more freely." T-shirts declared, "Run, Bambi, Run." One club held a Lawrencia Bembenek look-alike contest.

Events were enough to inspire books and two television movies and to make international news.....

November 21, 2010

At the Birdhouse Café...

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... it's small but nice.

Jan Crawford interviews Justice Scalia at the Federalist Society annual dinner.

David Lat reports:
Crawford asked Scalia if he ever found himself in a situation where he was torn between his personal conscience and his professional duty as a justice. He said no. After Crawford expressed a hint of incredulity — you’ve never encountered such a situation, in your many years on the bench? — Scalia quipped, “Maybe I have a lax conscience.” The resulting laughter cleared the air nicely.

Conversation turned to whether the Supreme Court’s opinions offer adequate guidance to the lower courts and litigants — a topic recently raised in this fascinating New York Times article by Adam Liptak, which Crawford explicitly referenced. Scalia appeared to agree with the general thrust of the piece.

“You can write a fuzzy decision that gets nine votes,” Scalia said, “or a very clear decision that gets five votes.”
On the subject of putting Supreme Court oral arguments on video, Scalia said he disapproved. He thought it would mainly lead to out-of-context clips. He thought he'd look great in those clips though: "I could ham it up with the best of them on television... I’d do very well." Lat calls that boasting, but I see modesty. Best of them implies that he doesn't think he is the best oral-argument entertainer. But he is!

On the subject of attending the President's State of the Union Address, he said: “It is a juvenile spectacle, and I resent being called upon to give it dignity…. It’s really not appropriate for the justices to be there.”

On the subject of hiring clerks from Harvard and Yale law schools:
"The best minds are going to the best law schools. They might not learn anything while they’re there [laughter], but they don’t get any dumber."
I should reprise that Vonnegut quote from my 10:20 post. What if you had to argue that they do get dumber? I'll bet you could.

Lat says:
Note how Scalia did not use politically correct terminology. The PC approach calls for referring to the “highest ranked” law schools rather than the “best” law schools.
I must chide Lat for not seeing the political incorrectness of saying "the best minds." Or has Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" made "best minds" seem like a standard phrase? "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked...." That's not innocuous. "Best minds" should prick up our attention and make us feel that something is not right.

Surely, the applicants that Harvard and Yale smile upon are not really our "best minds." Perhaps they are the "best minds" that are applying to law school in any given year, but I don't think even that is true. You have to do too many things right, too diligently, too early in life to hit the law school application sweet spot and get into the most selective schools. The best minds will have resisted acquiring the conventional indicia of career promise.

Come to think of it, Lat is also wrong to say that "highest ranked" is the preferred terminology for law schools. In academia, "highest ranked" implies highest ranked by U.S. News, and it is the proper thing to loathe U.S. News. It lacks the nuance to perceive the subtle qualities that make our favorite law schools so damned special.

Seriously... I think Scalia, being a good writer and speaker, simply believes that short, simple words are... best.

The 2,500-year-old bowl of noodles.

Cold now, but awesome.

"Revealingly, Sarah Palin’s potential rivals for the 2012 nomination have not joined the party establishment in publicly criticizing her."

"They are afraid of crossing Palin and the 80 percent of the party that admires her. So how do they stop her? Not by feeding their contempt in blind quotes to the press — as a Romney aide did by telling Time’s Mark Halperin she isn’t 'a serious human being.' Not by hoping against hope that Murdoch might turn off the media oxygen that feeds both Palin’s viability and News Corporation’s bottom line. Sooner or later Palin’s opponents will instead have to man up — as Palin might say — and actually summon the courage to take her on mano-a-maverick in broad daylight."

That's Frank Rich, and look out: It's a trap. But do they know how not to fall into it?

Yikes...

... or cute... I'm not sure.

If I thought that was a bird's face, I'd be sure it's cute. But it's an insect face, so... I'm not sure!

Click through to the contest winner, which is also an arthropod face... and quite gorgeous, but only because it doesn't feel alive at all.

"There are many dimensions of opinion, such as people who think opinion is 2-sided and people who do not."

"People who think the previous sentence is a fascinating paradox and people who find it annoying."

"The Afghan Constitution does not mention converting from one religion to another, so the judge will take Islamic law into account..."

CNN reports on the case of Said Musa, who faces trial for converting to Christianity:
"According to Afghanistan's constitution, if there is no clear verdict as to whether an act is criminal or not in the penal code of the Afghan Constitution, then it would be referred to sharia law where the judge has an open hand in reaching a verdict," [said Qamaruddin Shenwari, director of the Kabul courts' north zone.]

Under sharia law, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.
Four years ago, President Bush said:
"It is deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another.

"I'm troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account. That's not the universal application of the values that I talked about. I look forward to working with the government of that country to make sure that people are protected in their capacity to worship." 
Bush was talking about Abdul Rahman, who soon thereafter obtained his freedom.

What will President Obama do for Said Musa?

"The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently" — "rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing."

Says Harvard Med School professor Michael Rich in this "most-emailed" NYT article about these kids today.

The article begins with an anecdote about a high-school student — Vishal Singh — who wasn't making much progress reading the book he was assigned to read over the summer. Hey! The book is Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle," the book I was assigned to read in the summer of 1969. It's what the professors at the University of Michigan's experimental college — the Residential College (R.C.) — thought we ought to read to align our brains for whatever it was they planned to do to us.

Ha:
We Bokonists believe that humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass by Bokonon "If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons," writes Bokonon, "that person may be a member of your karass." At another point in The Books of Bokonon he tells us, "Man created the checkerboard; God created the karass." By that he means that a karass ignores national, institutional, occupational, familial, and class boundaries. It is as free form as an amoeba.
Now, where are you more likely to find the other members of your karass? Sitting alone in your room reading "Cat's Cradle," or weaving your way through Facebook? The great irony is that if you were really into "Cat's Cradle," you'd love the web and the way kids today swim in it.

From the Wikipedia entry on Bokononism:
The religion of the people of San Lorenzo, called Bokononism, encompasses concepts unique to the novel, with San Lorenzan names such as:
granfalloon - a false karass; i.e., a group of people who imagine they have a connection that does not really exist. An example is "Hoosiers"; Hoosiers are people from Indiana, and Hoosiers have no true spiritual destiny in common, so really share little more than a name.
Another example might be the teenagers who attend Vishal Singh's high school.
Busy, busy, busy - words Bokononists whisper upon witnessing an example of how interconnected everything is
... on the internet!

Hey, sorry. I got distracted. I was going to tell you all about that NYT article. I think something has happened to my brain. But I'm not a teenager. I'm practically a sexagenarian. Would it be wrong of me to be in your karass?

"Ahmed Ghailani's trial shows that courts should admit all reliable evidence."

Writes lawprof Akhil Reed Amar:
For more than a century after the Declaration of Independence, no court in America excluded evidence in a case like Ghailani's. Indeed, the very point of a public trial was to enable the members of the public to bring forth their evidence and have it heard by the jury and the gallery: "That's the man! And here's my proof." In 1783, an English court famously confronted a situation in which a suspect had in effect been coerced into leading the government to find a cache of stolen goods. The idea that evidence about the cache should be suppressed at trial was dismissed by the court as "novel in theory," "dangerous in practice," and "repugnant to the general principles of criminal law." A later court tartly summarized the traditional Anglo-American rule about procuring evidence: "It matters not how you get it; if you steal it, even, it would be admissible in evidence." In 1822, early America's most learned jurist, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, wrote emphatically: "In the ordinary administration of municipal law the right of using evidence does not depend … upon the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the mode, by which it is obtained. … The evidence is admissible on charges for the highest crimes, even though it may have been obtained by a trespass upon the person, or by any other forcible and illegal means."

The Founders' Fifth Amendment did operate as a rule of exclusion: It excluded the government from introducing the defendant's own involuntary testimony. But it did so precisely because such testimony was viewed as unreliable.
Amar isn't saying Judge Kaplan misunderstood the existing case law on the subject. He wants the Supreme Court to change it:
[T]he high court could categorically hold that even if physical evidence must sometimes be suppressed, live witnesses, who, after all, speak based on their own free will, should never be muzzled....

In addition, the Court could expand an important limitation on the exclusionary rule known as "inevitable discovery." This standard allows the government to use evidence that would have eventually surfaced regardless of any coerced confession or improper search. Courts thus should strongly—perhaps irrefutably—presume that a witness's conscience would have impelled him to come forward on his own.
ADDED: A key fact: The government chose not appeal Judge Kaplan's decision to suppress the evidence.

It depends on what the meaning of "am" is — Hillary Clinton said: "I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elected office."

"I love what I'm doing," she said... in the fascinating speech form we call the present tense.

"Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before..."

"... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way."

Byron York, tipped off by a post of mine, takes aim at a UW professor.

"Political reporters often rely on University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin for expertise," says York:
If you read his quotes in mainstream publications, you'll find a series of measured statements on political trends.  Democrats appealing to the youth vote in the run-up to the midterms are "betting long odds, given the very long history of low turnout in midterms among young voters," Franklin told the Washington Post recently.  Final pre-election polls suggested "a Republican wave of genuinely historical proportions," he told USA Today.  Feingold's problems had "more to do with the mood of the country than with Feingold himself," he told the Boston Globe.

It's all pretty unremarkable stuff.  And readers would have no idea what Franklin really thinks about the voters whose opinions he's measuring and commenting on.  But now they do.
Here's the post of mine that York read, and here's the Isthmus article that I drew to his attention to Franklin's opinion of the voters ("They're pretty damn stupid.").

ADDED: Professor Franklin appears in the comments section of yesterday's post and says:
Sigh. Bill's Lueder's quote is exactly accurate. I said exactly what he says I said. Normally I would just let it go at that since once such a quote is out it will spread no matter what. The only complaint I have is that Lueder's subsequent conclusions from that quote are his own and not mine.

The context was the Senate race and the point I was making, which I've made numerous times before, was that voters embraced Ron Johnson before they knew much about him. In a June 26-27 poll by Public Policy Polling, Johnson trailed Feingold by just 2 points, yet in the poll 62% said they had neither a favorable nor an unfavorable opinion of Johnson. I've used that poll frequently to illustrate the fact that voters were ready to embrace a Republican they knew almost nothing about over a three term incumbent Democrat. The race wasn't about specific details of Johnson vs Feingold, it was a rejection of Democrats more or less regardless of what voters knew about the GOP candidate.

That was the context in which I said voters are "pretty damn stupid". Too hyperbolic indeed, but I said it and have no complaint that it was quoted when I knew I was speaking to journalists.

But I wish what I said next had also been quoted. I went on to say that despite not knowing the details of Johnson's policy positions, the voters did NOT make a mistake in choosing Johnson as the more conservative candidate and certain to be more favorable to cutting government. That was indeed the correct connection by an angry electorate, even if the details were quite vague.

Voter's often act on little information and can be astonishingly unaware of things one might consider "facts". A post-election Pew poll finds less than half (46%) know the GOP won only the House but not the Senate. And at times voters appear to vote for candidates who are likely to take positions at odds with the voter's interests.

But in the Johnson-Feingold race, I think despite lack of details about Johnson, a majority of Wisconsin voter's picked the guy they wanted, and for basically the right reason. Dems may be astonished at the rejection of a favorite son, but in making this choice I think voter's properly expressed their preferences and matched them to the right candidate.

So I wish I had phrased this differently but that's my bad, no one else's. But I do not agree with the conclusion that voter's were "stupid" to pick Johnson over Feingold. In fact I believe a majority got the Senator they wanted, and that is always good for a republic.

Here's why I wish Sarah Palin wasn't so damned good at grabbing everyone's attention.

This is the time when we need other Republicans to develop their fan base. For example, look at Chris Christie:



A great communicator. (Via Instapundit and Hot Air.)

I hope Sarah Palin uses her clout to draw attention to other Republicans, to bring them to the fore where they can show their stuff to Americans, who tend not to pay attention to the presidential race until it's too late.