January 8, 2011

You remember this dog.


You saw her in many posts, back in 2009, when I sojourned in Cincinnati and lived, for a time, in a little love nest with Meade. She was the dog next door, but Meade borrowed her and took her on many adventures, chasing deer, encountering skunks, and fending off coyotes. Her name was Holly, and I've made a tag to collect the 20+ posts with pictures of her.

She died yesterday.

At the Frozen Playground Café...


... all you cold-hearted bastards can have your fun. Nice people... be careful!

"He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in '07, asked her a question & he told me she was 'stupid & unintelligent.'"

One of many tweets from catieparker, a woman who supposedly knew Jared Lee Loughner, the man who supposedly has been detained as a suspect in the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. She says: "I haven't seen him since '07. Then, he was left wing."

Via Jeralyn at TalkLeft. Also at TalkLeft, screenshots from Loughner's YouTube page, which make him look deranged. His favorite books include "The Communist Manifesto" and "Mein Kampf" — for what it's worth.

Giffords has apparently survived, but a federal district judge, who was also shot, has died:
Appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, Federal Judge John McCarthy Roll was shot and killed today when an assailant opened fire in a Safeway parking lot in Ariz., where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. was meeting with constituents.

Just two years ago, he was targeted with death threats -- and given a security detail -- after ruling that a group of illegal immigrants could go forward with a multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit against a state rancher....

Kite-assisted ice skating.

Video by Meade, who braved the cold out on the ice of Lake Mendota today, while I took refuge in the car.

Hans Rosling's "200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes."

The Capitol at midday, seen from the ice on Lake Mendota.

Meade took this shot:


Enlarge to appreciate the way the sun glints on the tips of the frozen waves.

"Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem."

"They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently."

Go read the whole thing. It's very interesting, beginning with a list of 10 rules that few American parents would be able to accept — at least not without modification. Never "get any grade less than an A"?! How can the parent dictate such a thing?

U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot, along with at least 11 others, at a political event...

... in Tuscon.

UPDATE: Dead?  That's NPR (linked by Drudge). The NYT, updated 4 minutes ago, says her condition is unknown.

ADDED: Gabrielle Giffords was the member of Congress who had the honor of reading the First Amendment when the Constitution was read on the House floor January 6th. Video
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Peaceably to assemble.

AND: Linking to my post, Instapundit says:
And judging from the comments to this post, people are already trying to score political points. Well, they kind of telegraphed this strategy, didn’t they? Remember Bloomberg making a fool of himself by blaming the Times Square bombing on the Tea Party? How about waiting until we actually know something, this time? That’s likely to be soon enough.
Yes. Please.

"May your bare ass always be shining" — a telegraph message from Eleanor Roosevelt...

... to Gypsy Rose Lee.

"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government..."

The part of the Constitution that by accident was not read in the House's Constitution-reading ritual. Somebody turned 2 pages at once. Intentionally left out was the Three-Fifths Clause. Obviously, the accidental omission was unfortunate, but was the intentional omission wise?

You can read some of the debate on that question at the link. I think it's quite interesting that we list the amendments after the original document instead of integrating them into a new, amended document. Considering how much shame we now feel for the parts about slavery and how much we want to revere the document, you might think we'd have changed our approach to formatting by now. But our traditionalism about the Constitution extends even to the placement of the amendments.

The ad yanked from Pepsi's Super Bowl contest.

There are over 5,000 entries in the contest, but this was so "irredeemably offensive" it couldn't even be permitted to contend:

So... if Christians are really that touchy, maybe you shouldn't even be using the expression "irredeemably offensive." Don't be having any fun with The Redeemer.


Did you used to play "Communion" with with Necco wafers? Was that okay in a way that Doritos would not be?

Don't miss the regatta.

The iceboat regatta.

Best vantage point: James Madison Park... scheduled to begin at 10. Yesterday, they got started at 11 (and it was over before 1).

The main Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club page is here. And pics here. Hey, this is me.

"The biggest hero of the Vietnam War" has died.

Vang Pao was 81.
The Hmong are a tribe in the fog-shrouded mountains separating Laos from southern China, and they were natural allies for the C.I.A. because of their enmity toward Laotian lowlanders to the south, who dominated the Communist leadership.

General Vang Pao quickly organized 7,000 guerrillas, then steadily increased the force to 39,000, leading them in many successful battles, often against daunting odds. William Colby, C.I.A. director in the mid-1970s, called him “the biggest hero of the Vietnam War.”

Lionel Rosenblatt, president emeritus of Refugees International, in an interview with The New York Times Magazine in 2008, put it more bluntly, saying General Vang Pao’s Hmong were put “into this meat grinder, mostly to save U.S. soldiers from fighting and dying there.”

"I do not own a dog and never have, but I do own a television, and from the evidence it emits..."

"... the whole danged species needs to go on a lengthy timeout."

By "species," you do mean human being, right?

January 7, 2011

At the Sweet Potato Café...


... you can vent.

Suing the government because it didn't stop you from becoming the fattest man...

... in the world.

Is this what happens when the government is in charge of health care? Yes, it's delusional. But delusions are what happen when the government succeeds in convincing people that it is the solution for all of the problems.


"Just remember: No dates 'til you're 30."

(Via Bloggingheads.)

Oh, no! Fluoride in the water!

The government finally acknowledges the harm it has done — vindicating all those nuts who've been freaking out about it since the 50s....

You know that's the way your hard core commie works:
Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation? Fluoridation of water? Well, do you know what it is?...  Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?... Mandrake, do you realize that in addition to fluoridated water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake. Children's ice cream?... You know when fluoridation first began?...  Nineteen hundred and forty six. Nineteen fortysix, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your postwar commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice.



Oh, yeah! I'm ready. Helmet... goggles....


Thanks for the ride...


I loved it out there, speeding along at...


... did you say 70 miles an hour?

ADDED: Raw footage from Meade's ride:

"The president didn't have enough backbone. He became too milquetoast... He actually surcame too easily to big business and big banks..."


IN THE COMMENTS: Someone calls this solecism "ebonics," and I say:
No, this is nothing like ebonics. It's the opposite of ebonics, if anything. Cornel West may be black, but his speech is not at all ebonics. It's pretentious straining at erudition, which is why it's so damned funny when he screws up.

I would not put up a post making fun of someone who lapses into an ebonics-type usage. I don't see the value in mocking that. I do see big value in puncturing a puffed-up academic — even though political correctness nags at me to refrain from making fun of the way a black person speaks.

I do have some sympathy for West here, though, because I think PC folk have failed — over a long period of time — to give him the feedback that would have kept him from developing this absurdly inflated style of speech, with its danger of missteps like this, and the self-serious demeanor that makes his mistakes especially funny.

"This couple are so desperate for a baby girl that they terminated twin boys and are fighting to choose the sex of their next child."

A lawsuit in Australia:
The couple, who have three sons and still grieve for a daughter they lost soon after birth, are going to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to win the right to select sex by IVF treatment....
The man said: "After what we have been through we are due for a bit of luck. We want to be given the opportunity to have a girl."

The woman, who is consumed by grief over the daughter who died soon after birth, admits she has become obsessed with having a daughter and it has become vital to her psychological health.
Victoria's Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 bans sex selection unless it is necessary to avoid the risk of transmission of a genetic abnormality or genetic disease to a child.
How would you analyze this question? Abortion is legal there, and the woman has already used abortion as a method of sex selection. The case is about who may have access to advanced treatments. 

"That last post wrecked my blog theme. I was working on a theme."

Meade: "What theme?"

Me: "My piss theme. I had a piss theme going. That's how I got to the dog that pissed off the Nazis. I Googled 'piss,' because I saw I had a theme going."

Meade: "What?"

Me: "There was the 'pee-o-meter' and... "

Meade: "Where was the piss in the first post, the Johnny Weir..."

Me (suddenly realizing I didn't use Johnny Weir's "pissed me off" and "heard worse in bathrooms" until the the second post): "Oh, yeah."

Meade: "Johnny Wee-er."

Me: "You're good with the homophones. The homophobe homophones."

Meade: "I'm afraid of homophones."

"We’re given menus, but they’re in Portuguese. The waiter has a handful of English words and as best as..."/"Asbestos? They had asbestos?!"

Meade interrupts me in the middle of my reading of Nina's post about her trip to Cascais, Portugal, which you can get to from here if you take "two Madison buses, three separate flights, one Lisbon bus, and finally one Portuguese train."

"Jackie the Hitler Saluting Dog Really Pissed Off the Nazis."

"The documents reveal that three German ministries became involved in the investigation of a Finnish pharmaceutical magnate, Tor Borg, and his dog Jackie, over reports that the dog was trained to ... [respond] to the command 'Hitler' by raising its paw."

I can't find video of the dog, but here's Hitler's reaction:

"Edmonton's Gold Medal Hockey Pee-O-Meter."

Things found in the sidebar of a Canadian website while looking for other things.

What I was looking for was that quote about poutine.

Eh. The whole quote isn't even there. It's here:
It was them criticizing me as a person, and that was something that frankly pissed me off. I’ve heard worse in bathrooms about me.... If I had the chance to sit down with them over a poutine, I think we'd all be, like, lovely people together.

"All the gay websites couldn't figure out why I was such a jerk that I wouldn't talk about it."

Said the ice skater Johnny Weir (who people have long assumed is gay, even though he wouldn't say it):
"But pressure is the last thing that would make me want to 'join' a community... The massive backlash against me in the gay media and community only made me dig my 'closeted' heels in further."
So, what do we learn from this? Possible lessons:

1. Although in the past, it was fear of negativity from heterosexuals that kept gay people in the closet, these days, a gay person might choose the closet because of the negativity of other gay people.

2. If a celebrity wants to write a successful book about himself, he needs to withhold at least one juicy piece of information. For Weir, this was that news — even though the only real news was that he's saying what he'd never said before.

3. Some people think of themselves as, above all, individuals, and when others think the most important thing is their membership in a particular group, they resist. They don't want to be defined by a single quality, especially when it's a quality that makes other people see them in terms of the group stereotype, and not personal uniqueness. There was a special playfulness to this notion in Weir's case, because he engaged in the very open "flamboyant" style that people think of as stereotypically gay.

4. Just because you're gay doesn't mean you like other gay people and want to join their team. Heterosexuals don't naturally love all the other heterosexuals. Gay men may need to look for their sexual partners in the pool of gay men,* but there's no reason why you have to like everyone in your category of potential sexual partners, and, indeed, it's a good idea to reject the vast majority of potential sexual partners. You only need one (at most). You're entitled to think that most of them are jerks.

5. Ice skating is not a team sport.


*By the way, this is the pool of gay men:

January 6, 2011

"One day I'm gonna whistle?"

The little girl asks at 1:47:

Highest rated comment at YouTube: "If I ever have a daughter, I'm going to have this relationship with her. I promise."

(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

"I think it is good news for NPR if they can get someone who I think has been the keeper of a flame of liberal orthodox out of NPR."

"I think she represented a very ingrown, incestuous culture in that institution that's not open to not only different ways of thinking but angry at the fact that I would even talk or be on FOX."

Juan Williams reacts to NPR's ousting of Ellen Weiss, the woman who fired him. I'm linking to NPR's own story, and you have to click on the video that's posted there to hear the words I'm quoting. It's worth listening to the whole interview Williams does with Meghan Kelly (on FoxNews). He lashes into NPR.

I'm always looking for the fisheye lens.


Found, yesterday, on ski goggles.

How the Sartorialist does his work.

Great 7-minute video showing how the wonderful fashion blogger wanders the streets looking for people dressed in a way he wants to show us and how he approaches them about being the subject of his photography. His seemingly candid shots are not taken by surprise. He asks. At 2:25, there's a perfect demonstration of how to obtain permission from a stranger. I'm going to use that!

ADDED: The Sartorialist — using almost no words, only photographs of real people — teaches us far more about what is stylish, what will be stylish, what is good in fashion, and what we should like in fashion than any mainstream fashion magazine. It's truly brilliantly done, and the video shows how the Sartorialist — Scott Schuman — works on natural instinct — and that is, I think, the key to blogging. It's what distinguishes blogging from journalism: the feeling of being in direct contact with a real and distinctive person.

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin sends us to his "sartorial commentary":


Start a blog right there. That's the basis of the first post. Then continue in the "anti-sartorial" vein.

"I suffered through Huckleberry Finn in high school, with the white kids going out of their way..."

"... to say 'Nigger Jim' and the teacher’s tortured explanation that Twain’s 'nigger' didn’t really mean nigger, or meant it ironically, or historically, or symbolically. Whatever. I could live my whole life fine if I never read that book again. If some teachers have the audacity to believe that Mark Twain’s work is still meaningful, even absent the words 'nigger' and 'injun,' more power to them. If other teachers think keeping those epitaphs in is worth the pain they will cause students of color, I understand that too. This isn’t about censorship, it’s about choice. Either choice will have unfortunate consequences."

From the law professor's contribution to the series of essays in the NYT on an edition of "Huckleberry Finn" without the n-word. There are 11 essays total. (The lawprof is Paul Butler of George Washington University.)

I must say that I think there should be an edition with the offensive words removed. It's not as though the uncensored versions disappear as a result of its existence. If you think seeing those words is crucial to understanding the book, that's fine, but not everyone does, and there's also the opinion that it's detrimental, as Professor Butler explains very well. I think high school and middle school students are inclined to dislike anything you impose on them. They might be more interested in Mark Twain if they knew the teachers were pushing the censored version and an uncensored version is accessible — like porn — through the internet. Here, kids, you can get right to it, the instant you want.

UPDATE: "keeping those epitaphs in..." Hey, NYT! Can we get a word editor?!

UPDATE 2: The NYT heard my plea and corrected "epitaphs" to "epithets."

How Pelosi handed the gavel to Boehner compared to how Boehner handed the gavel to Pelosi.

Byron York points out the difference.

One thing I noticed (and York doesn't mention) is that Pelosi made a snide remark about the size of the gavel Boehner picked out for the gavel-passing ritual:
I now pass this gavel, which is larger than most gavels here but the gavel of choice of Mr. Speaker Boehner…
Now, my ears have been tuned by decades of immersion in feminism and Freudianism, and I say that's an intentional reference to the phallus and the will toward domination it symbolizes. Nancy Pelosi intended to provoke disrespectful titters, I think — with deniability, of course.

Instead of calling Pelosi on her disrespect, comedian Jimmy Kimmel runs with the feminism and visualizes domestic* violence:


* It's the House, so domestic is apt.

Starbucks, beyond words.

Image alone.

Obama re-nominates 2 of my Wisconsin Law School colleagues to the federal bench.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
President Barack Obama isn't giving up in his attempt to hand a federal judgeship to former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler.
Attempt to hand — that's a weird way to put it. The President has the appointment power. There's no way to get federal judges other than by having the President "attempt to hand" out the positions.
For the third time, Obama has sent Butler's name to the U.S. Senate as his nominee to become a federal judge for Wisconsin's Western District, based in Madison, the White House announced Wednesday....

Also renominated Wednesday was Victoria Nourse, a UW law professor the president has tapped for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Nourse would replace Judge Terence Evans, who has moved to senior status.
And here's the Wall Street Journal on the confirmation issue:
Expect little change in the partisan grudge match over court picks, which Chief Justice John Roberts decried as a "recurring problem" in his year-end report Friday. Democrats will continue to control the Senate, which confirms federal judges. In the last Congress, however, judicial nominations were low on Democrats' priority list, disappointing liberal activists who felt the ex-law professor in the White House and his filibuster-resistant Senate majority squandered an opportunity to reshape the federal judiciary.

In contrast, Republicans long have made molding the courts a top objective. As they did in the last Congress, Republicans likely will make up in energy what they lack in numbers, using parliamentary privileges to slow or block Obama nominees.

Are you watching the reading of the Constitution on the House floor?

I just turned on C-SPAN and hit the 2d Amendment right on the nose. Do I have some kind of right-wing instinct?

Here, you can watch on the internet. Hurry! They're up to the 6th Amendment.

UPDATE: The 10th Amendment won a spatter of applause.

UPDATE 2: John Lewis read the 13th Amendment – abolishing slavery — and that got a big round of applause. Section 1 of the 14th Amendment — read by Democrat Mel Watt — also got some healthy applause.

UPDATE 3: Silence at the 17th Amendment.

UPDATE 4: The word "sex" is in the Constitution.

UPDATE 5: You have one sentence to read: How can you mispronounce one of the words? Compulsatory, etc. etc.

UPDATE 6: Applause... either for the document as a whole, now completely read, or for the idea that they shouldn't give themselves a raise, which was the last thing read.

UPDATE 7: I missed the birther outburst. Did it really happen?
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) tweeted from the House floor that a "birther" had interrupted the Constitution reading that's been taking place.
Yes, it happened...

... from the gallery. It wasn't another Joe Wilson "You lie"-type situation.

UPDATE 8: The heckler — who has been arrested — yelled "Except Obama, except Obama. Help us Jesus." Jesus? Why drag in Jesus?

What if you fall through the ice?

Let hypothermia expert Professor Gordon Giesbrecht show you:

More here.

The homeless guy with the "golden radio" voice triumphs...

... or so it seems.

"Two adult brothers and a paternal uncle in the U.K. all appear to be normal males — but genetically are women with two X chromosomes."

"Both brothers are married to women, and they and their uncle have the sexual anatomy, behavior, growth, and skeletal development of males. All have normal health and intelligence.... While it's extremely rare for sex reversal to run in a family, it's not unheard of for genetic females to develop as men or for genetic males to develop as women."

More birds crashing into flying saucers...

... and tumbling to the ground.

"A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an 'elaborate fraud'..."

CNN reports:
An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study's author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study -- and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible.

"It's one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors," Fiona Godlee, BMJ's editor-in-chief, told CNN. "But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data."
What psychological suffering this man caused in so many vulnerable parents of little children! For a scientist to subvert science — why don't we have a much more intense feeling of horror about that? How dare those trained in science to misuse it and undermine the enterprise of science? Our shared interest in science is so strong – our need to rely on experts so great — that we should severely punish those who betray it. But we can't, really, can we? If we tried, we might only exacerbate the pressures on scientists to toe the line and give us the answers we want, lest we target them for destruction.


Our shared interest in the rule of law is equivalent, yet how could we punish the lawyers and judges who push the law beyond what is truly legal? We'd only end up with worse legal arguments, and our "rule of law" would lose the qualities that made us value it in the first place. Nevertheless, science is different. The scientific method is more agreed-upon. But scientists, like lawyers and judges, go looking for the answers they want. Something non-neutral pulls them along. And yet we expect them — like judges (if not lawyers) — to conduct their search within a professional methodology. We'd like to be able to trust them, and yet we'd be fools to trust them. But we need to trust them, and we trust them all the time....

"Ann Althouse may look like your typical law professor, but she's much more than that."

"Althouse has been writing a popular eponymous blog since 2004, where she posts photographs along with biting commentary on law, politics and pop-culture. Her site, which promises to eat 'intellectually inert brats for lunch' attracts 500,000 monthly visitors, including some suitors. In 2009, Althouse made headlines in the blogosphere and even The New York Times after announcing her engagement to a commentator she met through her blog. Who needs dating sites?"

From MSNBC's "Who's Who of Political Bloggers."

I wonder if they know what brats are?

(Man, that's an old picture. I don't even remember that jacket.)

January 5, 2011

Ice skating conditions on Lake Mendota today...

... after yesterday's sun on clear black ice, it's hard to tell that thing is the sun and the ice is powdered over with snow:

It was a bit unnerving to skate so far from shore without the visual confirmation of the thickness of the ice that we had yesterday. But the ice couldn't have melted since yesterday. Could it? What was that strange pinging sound, like the lake was a tight-stretched drum and some unseen hand was dropping boulders on it somewhere in the distance?

The Obama administration gets cold feet on death panels.

"The Obama administration, reversing course, will revise a Medicare regulation to delete references to end-of-life planning as part of the annual physical examinations covered under the new health care law...."

Is it wrong to use the inflammatory rhetorical term "death panels"? It sure gets results!

At the White Ice Café...


... today is so different from yesterday.

95.83% of NPR website readers think it's wrong to publish an edition of "Huckleberry Finn" with the n-word removed.

Of NPR readers.

"The Internet is now the main national and international news source for people ages 18 to 29..."

"In 2010, 65% of people younger than 30 cited the Internet as their go-to source for news, nearly doubling from 34% in 2007. The number who consider television as their main news source dropped from 68% to 52% during that time."

Good lord, I can't believe the switch over to the internet is going so slowly. Who on earth is watching TV news? I'm checking out the internet all day long, and I never watch TV news. And I'm nearly 60 (I say on the 7th day of my countdown to age 60).

"The University of Wisconsin at Madison beat out the University of Chicago and Harvard to be the top national university by internet brand equity."

Internet brand equity, baby! You hear that? We're #1!
What's internet brand equity? It's a measure of who's talking about you online, based on Internet data, social media, blogs and the top 75,000 print and electronic media outlets. The resulting tool, the group claims, gauges the relative value of the various institutions and how they change over time.

The Global Language Monitor created their ranking system in order to eliminate what they described as inherent bias in the other published ranking systems. Rather than emphasizing the opinions of college deans, high school guidance counselors and the ratio of the endowment to the number of students, GLM believes their method reflects the opinion of the world at large.

"Senator Feingold joins Marquette Law School with a substantial academic, legal and legislative background."

"He will draw on all of this in working with students in their analysis of some of the most complex legal issues facing our nation and world today. I look forward to his service on our faculty."

His course: Current Legal Issues: The U.S. Senate.

What current U.S. Senate legal issues would you put in a law school course? Perhaps something about the way the Senate takes account of constitutional values like federalism and individual rights and why that does (or doesn't) deserve deference from the judiciary?

ADDED: In 2005, Feingold gave a lecture at my law school called "Upholding an Oath to the Constitution: A Legislator's Responsibilities." (Coincidentally, we're talking about the congressional oath today on this blog.) In my 2005 post on the lecture, I said:

Catching up on comment moderation.

If you comment on an older post — over 2 weeks old — or if Blogger thinks it's seeing spam, your comment won't go up until I moderate it. I need to do that every day, at least once, and it had slipped my mind. Sorry. Keep commenting. And feel free to prompt me by email if something seems to have fallen through the cracks. The moderation I'm doing is solely about blocking spam.

"It’s not a matter of luxury, it’s a matter of loss of identity, loss of connections…"

"... and all the time seeing something really unusual and strange, which was the religious theocracy unfolding inside the country."

The suicide of Alireza Pahlavi, the youngest son of the Shah of Iran...
"I can only imagine [the trauma felt by] someone who had lived at a level of near adoration by those around him, and seen the grandeur with which his father was treated,” said Ms. Afkhami, who now also lives in exile in the US.

“And then to suddenly, really quite suddenly, be dislocated, separated from his parents and also when he was with them to witness his father, whom all heads of state almost universally had courted and admired and flattered, was suddenly a pariah, there was no place for him."

"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you."

Gerry Rafferty, the singer and songwriter of Stealers Wheel has died at the age of 63.

"Even the dead can't escape the ineptitude of the city's Sanitation Department."

"Sanitation crews dumped tons of dirty snow from the Christmas-weekend blizzard into the city's biggest Jewish cemetery, toppling 21 gravestones and wrecking an iron fence."

"Who Is Boehner's Super Tall Guy Friend/Staffer?"

"Has anyone else noticed that this man is enormous?"

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States..."

"... against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

That's the wording of the oath of office taken by members of Congress, used yesterday as Chief Justice John Roberts "presided over a closed-door ceremony in the offices of the soon-to-be House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, to swear in his staff a day before Republicans are scheduled to take control of the chamber."

I'm linking to the NYT, where the first comment is "did he cry?" Boehner, famously, cries easily, and I think the oath actually is the sort of thing that would move him to tears. Read it. Seriously. Does it reach you in a deep place that gives rise to tears? If not, why not?

How many members of Congress take that oath with mental reservation and purpose of evasion and don't even feel a twinge of conscience when they say those words? How many members of Congress take that oath and it's just words — written more than a hundred years ago — and they don't even have a spark of awareness of what they are promising to do, so the purpose of evasion doesn't even flicker across a synapse?

IN THE COMMENTS: The Crack Emcee says:
And, after all that, you're surprised how I talk about marriage?
Strangely, the news that Russ Feingold will teach a course at Marquette Law School got me looking back at a post I wrote in 2005 about a lecture he gave at Wisconsin Law School, and I see that the lecture focused on the congressional oath and I brought up the issue of the marital oath:
I would never have said this out loud, but I couldn't help thinking how interesting it was that Feingold shaped his whole lecture around the sanctity of the oath, when just a few days ago he announced that he was getting a divorce, his second. Was I the only one who thought how strange it was to hear a man piously invoke a passionate fidelity to an oath when he had -- so conspicuously -- gone back on the marriage oath twice?\

But I like Senator Feingold. I do think he's a good man. I don't presume to know what happens to people in their marriages, and I am divorced myself. Nevertheless, he could have discussed his devotion to the Constitution from some perspective other than the fact that he'd sworn an oath. Taking an oath to the Constitution, after all, is not the strongest reason to support it.

"I think it’s natural for someone like Robert [Gibbs] to want to step back for a second to reflect, retool..."

Said President Obama, about the departure of his press secretary.

"Glenda Cleveland was Jeffrey Dahmer's neighbor, and the serial killer could have been stopped two months earlier if police had only listened to her."

"God knows she tried. 'Are you sure?'  she kept asking police on the phone when they insisted that a dazed and naked boy trying to escape from Dahmer was actually an adult involved in a lovers' spat with him. We know now, of course, that he was 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone, and that he was about to become Dahmer's next homicide victim. Cleveland's daughter, Sandra Smith, and niece, Nicole Childress, had spotted the boy fleeing from Dahmer in the alley on May 27, 1991. They were rebuffed by police at the scene, but they told Cleveland who then called police numerous times."

Cleveland died on Christmas Eve at the age of 56.

A 911 call transcript:
Cleveland: “Yeah, uh, what happened? I mean my daughter and my niece witnessed what was going on. Was anything done about the situation? Do you need their names or information or anything from them?”

Officer: “No, not at all.”

Cleveland: “You don’t?”

Officer: “Nope. It was an intoxicated boyfriend of another boyfriend.”

Cleveland: “Well, how old was this child?”

Officer: “It wasn’t a child. It was an adult.”

Cleveland: “Are you sure?”

Officer: “Yup.”

Cleveland: “Are you positive? Because this child doesn’t even speak English. My daughter had, you know, dealt with him before, seeing him on the street. You know, catching earthworms.”

Was Issa just "pandering to Rush Limbaugh" when he called Obama "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times"?

That's not the way Rush Limbaugh sees it:

Ted Williams, the homeless man with a radio voice.

He stood by the side of Interstate 71 in Columbus, Ohio with a homemade sign about his "God-given gift of a great radio voice." A reporter made a video...

He's been through "alcohol and drugs and a few other things" and now he's facing viral video fame.

January 4, 2011

Skating on Lake Mendota, Part 3.

At the Black Ice Café...


... there's plenty of room.

"In the face of a Strangelovian apocalypse, ['Duck and Cover'] might only have produced a slower death..."

"... but for those facing a terrorist bomb such protection is likely to be adequate, and much safer than, say, being stuck in traffic on the Beltway when the fallout begins to settle. Also, people sheltering in place won't tie up roads, making it easier for emergency services to get where they're needed. So the Obama Administration wants to encourage people to shelter in place rather than head for the hills in the event of a nuclear attack. Even sheltering for a few hours, or a couple of days, lets radiation levels fall dramatically and avoids road tie-ups for later evacuation."

Think about it.

Everyone's all atwitter at the Sarah Palin re-tweet of a pro-gay tweet.

"I think @SarahPalinUSA RT my tweet is her first comment on DADT, treatment of gays & attempts to marginalize us–thank you Governor."

The original tweet, from Tammy Bruce, was:

But this hypocrisy is just truly too much. Enuf already--the more someone complains about the homos the more we should look under their bed

"Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go."

Said Nancy Pelosi.

"The nipple mania is just a runway styling conceit."

"Our only issue (and it's really not that big an issue) is when a trend like this gets so saturated so quickly."

Saturated? Here, use these.

Randy Barnett, on Bloggingheads, talking about his "repeal amendment"...

... with UT lawprof Sanford Levinson:

(I'm just starting to listen. I'll pick some clips out and add them below. Here's the NYT article on Randy's proposed constitutional amendment — which would empower the legislatures of 2/3 of the states to repeal any federal law.

ADDED: Randy talks about the repeal amendment here, and Sandy dumps on it here.

Skating on Lake Mendota, Part 2.

In the Prop 8 case, the 9th Circuit panel has decided to ask the California Supreme Court to answer a key question of state law.

The state law question is whether the official proponents Prop 8 have "authority to assert the State’s interest in the initiative’s validity... when the public officials charged with that duty refuse to do so."

This is the threshold standing question. Standing is a matter of federal constitutional law, but the 9th Circuit has apparently perceived an element of the issue to depend on state law, and it is seeking an authoritative interpretation of state law from the state's highest court.

Skating on Lake Mendota.

We started out from Picnic Point...


... and skated across toward downtown....


... and then back, against the wind.


Man in shorts!

Everyone is alerting me to this picture on Drudge:

Shorts... and very skinny!

Michael Steele says his favorite book is “War and Peace” and he quotes the first line as: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

D'oh! Bad times for Michael Steele. The 5 candidates for RNC were asked, in their debate, what's their favorite book? It's not like anybody else said anything good. ("To Kill a Mockingbird" — give me a break!)

The actual opening lines of "War and Peace":

"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist — I really believe he is Antichrist — I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see I have frightened you- sit down and tell me all the news.""
Here's "A Tale of Two Cities":
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Pretty much the same thing, no? Close enough for RNC work.

Oh, no, it wasn't the alien spacecraft...

... it was a loud noise that killed the birds.

"Most days Mr. Boehner, 61 years old, spends the early-morning hours vacuuming his apartment or ironing."

"He eats breakfast alone at Pete's Diner, a cramped eatery a few blocks from the Capitol, and checks his Facebook page on an iPad. At night, he stops whatever he's doing at 10 o'clock."

That's my favorite part of the WSJ's profile of John Boehner.

Boehner's got a nice, humble image that suits the times — these post-Pelosi times. I like the picture of the man who's replacing the woman being a man with a vacuum cleaner...

... and it's not even a metaphorical vacuum cleaner. (I seem to remember a magazine cover illustration of Gerald Ford after the Nixon resignation. He was vacuuming the Oval Office.)

"Some of the resumes that have come across my desk are from attorneys who have good skills and impressive work histories, and they are offering to work for free."

"Rather than sit at home with no salary and nothing to do, many of these attorneys are offering to work for free in exchange for something to put on their resumes. Their strategy is to keep their resumes fresh with the hopes of finding something long term."

Are you looking for a law job — facing competition like that?

Via Instapundit, who says: "It’s like there’s some kind of . . . higher education bubble . . . that’s bursting or something."

Somehow Scalia gets people talking about him again...

... by saying the same thing he always does.

HuffPo headlines: "Women Don't Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination." The writer, Amanda Terkel, quotes the 14th Amendment, and concludes, with unironic textualism: "That would seem to include protection against exactly the kind of discrimination to which Scalia referred." Thanks for the analysis, Amanda.

Terkel also called up Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, who professed to find Scalia's opinion "shocking" — even though he's been saying it for at least 15 years.

ADDED: Here's the interview with Scalia. From this lawprof's perspective, the most interesting thing he says is about pizza:
You more or less grew up in New York. Being a child of Sicilian immigrants, how do you think New York City pizza rates?

I think it is infinitely better than Washington pizza, and infinitely better than Chicago pizza. You know these deep-dish pizzas—it's not pizza. It's very good, but ... call it tomato pie or something. ... I'm a traditionalist, what can I tell you?
He's applying his legalistic language fussiness to food, but then what's with "infinitely"? What happened to verbal precision all of a sudden? He's gushing like... a girl.

"What is failing us is not our people or our places. What is failing us is the expanse of government."

"But we can do something about it right here, right now, today."

The biggest applause line in Scott Walker's inaugural address.
[Wisconsin's new Governor has called a] special legislative session and told lawmakers he wanted them to approve a string of bills by the end of February....

The bills would: give tax breaks to business owners and income tax credits for contributions to health savings accounts; reduce business regulations; provide protections from lawsuits; give the governor more say in state rule making; turn the state Department of Commerce into a partly private entity to focus on job creation; and require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the Legislature to approve any increases to the state sales, income and franchise taxes....

"My top three priorities are simple: jobs, jobs and more jobs," Walker said.

He also promised to improve education, protect natural resources, honor the role of family and "right-size state government by ensuring government is providing only the essential services our citizens need and our taxpayers can afford."
I'm sorry I didn't walk down the street to witness the inaugural ceremony, which included "a choral rendition of 'Aquarius' and 'Let the Sunshine In' from the musical 'Hair.'" Caught in the same 1960's time warp: "Outside, dozens of protesters walked around the Capitol waving placards and shouting, 'Hey, hey, ho, ho, Scott Walker has got to go.'" Damn. I missed some photo ops!

And, by the way, Milwaukee State Journal, it's not "Let the Sunshine In." Straighten out your "Hair." Here's my favorite version of "Let the Sun Shine In." Are you familiar with this album, "Streetnoise"? (Not "Street Noise.") Julie Driscoll. This is good too. That one has a version of "Season of the Witch," which has nothing to do with Scott Walker. He is not a witch.

"Emilie lived alone with her little boy who clearly believed she was sleeping and might wake up."

"Emilie had not contacted anyone since before Christmas, suggesting that she may have died before this time. Her father spoke to her son over the phone and was simply told that she was asleep."

Emilie was 28, the boy, 3.

Photograph — of wife, daughter, and mother-in-law — includes killer with gun aimed straight at the photographer...

... now, a dead man. The point of light in the center of the gun barrel is not the shot, but the reflection of the camera flash.

Governor Cuomo: "I wanted to go first because I wanted to make the point that I am not just asking other people to do it."

"We are going to be having conversations with labor unions about just this topic, about wages, etc."

He's taking a 5% cut on his salary (which was $179,000).

Good time to go against unions — after all the bad feeling about the snow plowing.

January 3, 2011




"During a punt in the middle of the second half one of them yelled, 'kill the Christian!'"

"I suggested that would work better if TCU were playing against the 'Nittany Lions.' Someone else added, 'and playing in the Coliseum.'"

Email from a guy who went to the Rose Bowl and sat amidst the Badger fans.

Fox News.


95 things kids are afraid of, including the PBS logo...

... and lots of things that might crawl up out of the toilet.

Wild in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

"Wauwatosa police confirmed on Monday that a gun was fired outside the Mayfair Mall on Sunday in connection with an incident in which large groups of unruly youths ran through the mall, forcing an early shutdown."

At the Countertop Café...


... there's plenty to eat.

"Are you over 50 and enjoying life? Then you may well be a mappie."

"The acronym stands for Mature, Affluent, Pioneering People and has been coined to describe a growing social group of active, fun-loving fifty- and sixty-somethings."

Oh, lord, must there be a cute name for everything? I say that on Day 9 of my countdown to age 60.

The truth is, it's surprisingly good to be old — if you don't mind that closer-to-death part. But no one knows how many days are left. Are you alive and paying attention and not suffering too much today? Then this is a good day you have as a human being. Are you richer today with more lived days behind you or with the odds of more days ahead? You can't be in the future days any more than you can be in the past days. The past days can be remembered. The future days are unknown, even in number.

"'I couldn’t be a woman,' Steve Martin once joked, 'because I’d play with my breasts all day.'"

"Now he has written a novel about a young woman, but nearly the only thing he can imagine about her is wanting to play with her breasts. The Object of Beauty is a nasty exercise in narcissism, particularly in the narcissism of the famous."

A nasty review that considers a book nasty because it seems only to say look at my breasts begins with 2 sentences that say look at my breasts.

Dean search!

Come on all you brilliant, underutilized lawprofs. You know you want to step up to the new level of bliss that is life among the lefties of Madison, Wisconsin.

When does garbage get good press?

Only when it does something truly heroic.

Why can't we celebrate the little things, the random acts of kindness committed by garbage every day of the week?

(Just an idea for someone who's looking to start one of those narrow-specialty blogs.)

January 2, 2011

Anxieties over the the high-speed "train to nowhere" in California.

Reported in the NYT.

"Food is so complicated!"

"Who knows what judgments we make about people because of the way they are or seem to be about food?"

Heretofore "always... afraid of video games," Susan Orlean "felt an urgency rising in me."

Somehow, strangely, Microsoft Kinect brings out the elite scribe's sexual (-sounding) longings.

"Hey, did you hear that 1,000 blackbirds died and fell from the sky in Arkansas?"

"Nobody knows why it happened! Probably just a normal thing..."

La la la. Move along.

"There's a formless anger out there."

"Children with autism live near freeways."

"The world is laughing at us."

"The current government is a vile, despicable, tyrannical socialist machine."

The warm spell wrecked the snow for skiing...

... but it's cold again and...


... we got skates for Christmas!


"Take care of the ____ run and the ____ run will take care of itself."

Full in the blanks with the words “long” and “short.” A test originally proposed to distinguish conservative and liberal economists. I wonder if it more generally distinguishes conservatives and liberals.

At the Sweet Potato Café...


... put your potatoes in.

Chuck Berry — who is 84 but still plays "Sweet Little 16" in concert — collapsed on stage last night.

It was a packed house in Chicago:
The show had started promisingly. Taking the stage in a red sequined shirt, black slacks and a white sailor hat, Berry began with "Roll Over Beethoven"...

Although Berry played this and following songs - "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "School Days" -- at slower tempos than the original recordings, he filled them with his classic guitar riffs and sang them with weathered authority....

Things then quickly began going off the rails. Berry played snippets of blues songs and an unsteady version of " Memphis Tennessee," before taking an extended pause to try to retune his guitar, complaining that it was out of key with the piano. He made several unsuccessful attempts at "Let It Rock," in part seated at the piano, and performed disjointed bits of "Carol" and "Johnny B. Goode."

Berry revived to lead the crowd in a sing-along of "My Ding-a-Ling" and acknowledged things weren't going well, telling the crowd he'd try to do better at entertaining them. It was not to be. After a version of "Reelin' and Rockin'" they found the band gamely following his inconsistent tempo, Berry made his way to the piano, where the show came to an end completely at odds with the joy in his music.
He tried to resume playing, but paramedics arrived, and he was taken off for examination. The fans waited, and he came back again, thanked the people and left — "using a bit of his signature 'duck walk.'"

Chuck Berry.

"Perhaps that sounds to you like an archaic feminist assertion - the kind of thing that hip women no longer say."

Rachel Henes — a social worker and "youth violence prevention specialist" — takes up the anti-pornography cause:
During countless classroom discussions, boys have told me that from a very young age, they have been taught that for a "real" man, sex is about the aggressive conquest of female bodies and scoring with as many of them as you can. While these ideas have long been around, they are more socially sanctioned now than ever before.

So what happens when individual risk factors become societal norms? And when pornography, because of its ubiquity and availability, effectively becomes sex ed?...

[Girls are] feeling depressed and worthless as they realize that real-life translations of porn don't make them feel sexy or powerful at all, since the sexual personas they're trying to emulate have been created by - and for - men.
Rachel Henes is...
1. an unhip, archaic feminist.
2. a social conservative who just doesn't call herself conservative.
3. smart and correct and we should listen to her.
4. a great wake up call to those "sex positive" feminists.
5. a boring sex-phobe.
6. all of the above.
7. 1 and 4.
8. 2 and 3.
9. 1 and 5.
pollcode.com free polls

"Setting high expectations for Madison’s often-struggling minority students is the driving force behind an all-male charter school Caire is proposing for the district."

Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire is one of the 5 Madisonians "to watch in 2012," according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The school, to be called the Madison Preparatory Academy, would have longer school days, offer a college preparatory curriculum — and require students to wear uniforms.

As the proposal heads for preliminary approval from the School Board early this year and possible final approval in the fall, it already faces opposition from the teachers union, which opposes non-unionized charter schools, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, which opposes single-gender schools.
Why does the State Journal use the term "single-gender" instead of "single-sex" in this context? Anyway, I think the problem is making a special school for males and not having an equivalent one for females. But this isn't a case of training males for elite achievement (as it was in the Supreme Court case dealing with the Virginia Military Institute). Caire seems to be saying that males have a special problem that needs remediation. Actually, he seems to be saying black males have a special problem needing remediation:
Caire views the school as a key step toward building a stronger black middle class in Madison....

An underdeveloped black middle class in Madison means fewer positive role models for youth, Caire said, which partly explains why the city has disproportionately lower graduation rates and higher incarceration rates among minorities. 
But it's not racial discrimination that's being proposed. It's sex discrimination. In equal protection law, race discrimination must be justified — at least theoretically — meeting a higher standard than sex discrimination. But if the government interest to be served by sex discrimination is characterized as racial, does that make the argument for sex discrimination weaker or stronger?

Please discuss. I'll say more later.

Panda cow.

It's a pet. It costs $30,000.

"'We know how much this means to everybody, to everybody involved,' he said, sobbing. 'We work 365 days a year for this, and then we come out here and don't execute...'"

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covers the aftermath of the Rose Bowl — with that quote from an interview with J.J. Watt. You can find the video of the interview in the sidebar over there. It was interesting to watch, because Watt is circumspect, thoughtful, humble... and completely not sobbing.

"Some adventurers have taken to exploring the sometimes dangerous subterranean world in the sewers and tunnels beneath New York."

That's the teaser on the front page right now. Here's the article it refers to. Excerpt:
We inspect our exit point — a manhole in the middle of the road. Will Hunt, a bespectacled 26-year-old who is writing a book about the underground (“The last frontier,” he says, “in an over-mapped, Google-Earthed world.”) will serve as our spotter. Will’s job is to watch for traffic: ascending from the hole, we do not wish to be hit by a car. We are to communicate by walkie-talkie. Will ties a long pink ribbon to the inside of the manhole cover. Dangling downward, this will be our signal we have reached the end....

Filthy, backpacked, smelling of the sewer, we board a rush-hour subway....

The sewer under Greene Street was only four feet high (Erling is 6 foot 3.) It got smaller and smaller, until they were forced on hands and knees, then eventually on their bellies. Crawling through raw sewage. The ceiling was higher on Canal Street, they report, but the floor was caked with so much feces they sank in it like quicksand. They were turned back by an impassable mountain of waste....
Time to hop on the subway again?

Where should the intrepid explorer go when the world is totally over-mapped and Google-Earthed? Where do you go? And why? A rewrite of my favorite quote: