July 23, 2011

At the Rocky Ledge Café...


... be edgy!

"[I]n addition to being violent and degenerate, pie-throwing simply isn't the incisively satirical act the pie-throwers seem to think it is."

"In fact, it's the opposite of what it's trying to be. People don't have trouble understanding why Marbles would want to do this because pie-throwing is too surreal or subversive for our comprehension; we have trouble seeing the point because pie-throwing is trite, formulaic, old-fashioned, humanizing toward the target, and ultimately meaningless."

Writes John Cohen (my son), building on T.A. Frank's New Republic piece "Is Pie-Throwing Ever Morally Justifiable?"

(I have avoided mentioning the Murdoch pie-throwing incident until now because I despise the usual portrayals of pie-throwing.)

"Singer Amy Winehouse was found dead at her apartment in London on Saturday..."

"She was 27."

ADDED: "Last month, the north Londoner pulled out of her European tour after she was jeered at her comeback gig in Serbia for appearing too drunk to perform."

Extremely sad.

AND: Another member of the "27 Club":
The 27 Club, also occasionally known as the Forever 27 Club or Club 27, is a name for a group of influential rock music artists who died at the age of 27. The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll details the history of the phenomenon.
The big ones from circa 1970 were Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. More recently, Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse's name has already been added to the list at the link.

ALSO: My son Chris IM's: "this is the video i always thought would be referenced if she died young."
My odds are stacked
I'll go back to black...
We only said good-bye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to black
Chris says: "and if you wanna see something really sad, here's her trying to perform the same song about a month ago"

AND: Last dance.

AND: From the WSJ article:
"Her music was extraordinary," said local resident Tessa Crockett, 58, who bundled a bouquet of arum lillies to place outside a police cordon around Ms. Winehouse's flat. "She wasn't able to handle anything like the fame that she had. I feel very much for her parents."...

"She kind of started the whole 60s-style singer songwriting," said 23-year-old Natasha Wynarczyk, a Londoner who described the singer's style as "fierce" and sometimes copied Ms. Winehouse's beehive hairstyle on nights out. "She definitely spearheaded the movement for new female artists. At the time it was male dominated music or male-fronted bands."...

"She didn't want to be controlled," said 30-year-old Andrew Tunesi, an administrator from South London, who brought roses along with a friend to Ms. Winehouse's home. "She had a mind of her own and wanted to do her own thing."

"Does Allen West hate women?... [T]he answer seems to be more that Allen West hates everyone."

Oh, boy. It's Amanda Marcotte responding Michelle Goldberg:
That doesn't spare him from being a sexist, however, since his hatred for women has an ugly, gendered tone to it, as evidenced by his strange war on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose main sin seems to be a willingness to disagree with West while in possession of a vagina, causing West to claim she's "not a Lady."...

That said, calling a Democrat "not a Lady" and claiming that liberal women are the source of the country's economic woes because we supposedly neuter men are, if anything, the least worrisome parts of the entire Allen West phenomenon. 
Wait. West said ball-busting women have wrecked the economy? Let's refer to the source material: Michelle Goldberg:
Liberal women, he claimed, helped cause the debt by “neutering American men,” which apparently undermined their fiscal rectitude. 
No link for that quote. Isn't it funny that Shirley Sherrod is suing Andrew Breitbart for presenting a quote of hers out of context? Imagine if the law permitted that! We'd all be afraid to say anything. But, okay, I'll go find the context myself. Here. It's a bit rambly, but he's calling for people to be strong and staunch in their conservative virtues. Speaking to a group a women, he praises strong women — even quotes Sarah Palin's "fight like a girl" — but calls on women to demand strength from men. Palin's "fight like a girl" was a "poke in the chest" to men, goading men to fight.

A little more Marcotte:
As Goldberg recounts, West acts erratically, lashes out randomly, has a victim complex that makes Sarah Palin look thick-skinned, and has acted out violently from his rage issues. But the space between Tea Party ideology and unhinged rage is whisker-thin.
So... Palin and West are telling conservatives to stand up and fight, and Goldberg and Marcotte are, really, trying to say no, don't fight. They are happier with tame, sedate Republicans. The method they are using is to portray the fighting Republicans as angry and crazy. I'd like to say that Marcotte and Goldberg are hacks using a boring old rhetorical device, but I think these angry/crazy characterizations do leave an impression.

People are trying very hard to ruin Allen West right now, before he gets anywhere, and they are trying to ensure that Sarah Palin stays down where they think they crushed her.

ADDED: Instapundit says:
Yeah, first Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, now Amanda Marcotte: What is it with the Democrats sending white women to attack a black man, anyway? Are they trying to play on gendered racial fears among white voters? It’s some kind of dog-whistle, isn’t it?

Democratic congressman David Wu is accused of "aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior" by "the daughter of a longtime friend and campaign donor."

This is a strange story, because there is no report to the police. We're told of a "distraught" message left on the phone machine at Wu's Portland office, and we're not told how old this "young woman" is. Was she underage? Wu acknowledges what the article refers to as an "encounter," but says it was consensual.
Reporters could not verify the young woman's age. Notes on Facebook over the past 18 months indicate she graduated from high school in 2010. California records show she registered to vote in August.
So, she's above the age of consent. Since when do breathless messages on answering machines get reported in the newspaper? The newspaper — The Oregonian — continues:
The alleged incident raises new questions about Wu's behavior during the 1st District congressman's re-election campaign last year...
At this point, we hear about "erratic" behavior that doesn't ostensibly involve sex. What exactly are the "new questions"? This is a cheap and ridiculous article in my view. A woman who is unhappy with her sexual relationship with Wu has called his office but has not called the police, and now we're supposed to review everything else we know about him in some new context? Is this the way we are to do politics in America now?

Note that the woman who has brought this chaos into Wu's career is shielded by the newspaper's policy not to "use the names of victims of sexual assault without their permission." That's convenient. I think if you are going to have a policy like that, you should not report at all unless the alleged victim has reported a crime to the police. It's not fair.

Giant rolls of toilet paper clog a river in Idaho.

Great example of an article that would be so much better with a picture.

"What we know is that he is right-wing and a Christian fundamentalist."

The police describe Anders Behring Breivik, accused in the Norwegian bombing/shooting that killed at least 91 persons.

The prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg said: “Compared to other countries I wouldn’t say we have a big problem with right-wing extremists in Norway... But we have had some groups, we have followed them before, and our police is aware that there are some right-wing groups.”

He looks like this:

Adjust your stereotypes accordingly.
A Facebook page matching his name and the photo given out by the police was set up just a few days ago. It listed his religion as Christian and his politics as conservative. It said he enjoys hunting, the video games World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2, and books including Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and George Orwell’s “1984.”
So, this is the information he wanted you to find. Assuming he set up this page and he is the murderer, these statement could either be precisely true, deliberate misinformation, or something in between.

The man knows about Machiavelli. What would Machiavelli post on Facebook before embarking on a massacre?

ADDED: Of course, disinformation is a big theme in Orwell’s "1984." I'm tempted to say that the cues that his statements are lies are so strong that they suggest paradoxically that he is not lying.

"Why don't atheists just move on? Okay, there's no God. Do something else!"

"Why do you have to congregate over being an atheist?"

I talk to "Skepchick" Rebecca Watson, whose story of getting hit on in an elevator at an atheist convention went viral on the internet. The short clip above is me setting up the story. Click continue to the whole discussion.

ADDED: Here's the description of the elevator incident and the discussion that follows:

July 22, 2011

"Suit Filed Arguing Title IX Uses Quotas."

The NYT reports:
A group that advocates for changes to the gender-equity law known as Title IX announced Thursday that it was suing the Department of Education, arguing that the department is violating the Constitution by forcing high schools to use what it claims is a quota system to afford greater opportunities for female athletes.

At issue in the lawsuit, sent Thursday to Federal District Court in Washington, is a 1979 test that is used to measure compliance with Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in education.

The test gives schools three options for showing they are meeting the needs of female athletes. They can demonstrate that they are offering athletic opportunities that are proportionate to overall enrollment; that they have a history of expanding sports for women; or that they are meeting the athletic interests and abilities of their female student body.
Where is the quota? There are 3 options. Only one looks like a quota. Is the Department of Education to blame if schools pick the first option and not one of the others? Maybe it is. If you say there are 3 ways to avoid a legal problem, you are encouraging the one that is a quota, even if the schools could have picked one of the other routes. You're legitimating the quota approach.

Althouse and Meade travel to Wauwatosa to see "The Undefeated."

1. We located the cavernous AMC multiplex within the humongous Mayfair Mall, bought a bag of popcorn bits, and found our way to theater 4 where we chose seats in the crowd of about 50 mostly older people.

2. There was no cheering or laughing during the movie, but in the end there was a big, enthusiastic round of applause.

3. As we left the theater, we encountered a man who asked us if we liked the movie and handed us a glossy card with a picture of Sarah Palin and a list of her political positions: "Drill Now, Strong Defense, Stop Spending." In the sort of way that you say "fine" when a stranger ask how are you, I said "Great!"

4. The filmmakers did not film Sarah Palin, so we see only stock footage of Sarah Palin along with some audio taken from the audio version of her book "Going Rogue." That meant we saw a lot of grainy film that made us wish we could just be home watching it on TV. (Or not watching it.) The old family-movie stills and video were nice, and Meade said they were the best part of the movie.

5. We mostly hear various Palin associates telling us about things, including quite a bit of technical material about how she dealt with the oil and gas business and politics in Alaska. I would have preferred to read about these things, because I couldn't trust that I was getting the story straight. There was never, for example, a professor in his study explaining things in a seemingly neutral way... not that I would have trusted him.

6. Throughout there was a pounding, driving music soundtrack that seemed like it wanted to make sure we were excited, but it was extremely annoying and distracting. There were also metaphorical visuals like black oil pouring into water or bombs dropping or lions chasing zebras. These visuals were undoubtedly intended to add interest and drama, but they seemed pretty amateurish. We glanced at each other and laughed a few times. But the music was no laughing matter. At one point, I leaned over and said, "This music is killing me." If I had been in that movie when I said that, you would have seen a lion leap onto a zebra.

7. The movie tried to make it seem as though the Tea Party grew out of Palin's seeming defeat in the '08 election and the Tea Party was a continuation of the Reagan revolution and Sarah Palin is a continuation of Ronald Reagan. Reagan, Palin, and the Tea Party stand most emphatically apart from establishment Republicans, who are good for just about nothing. A closeup of Mitch McConnell's waxen face makes that rather obvious.

8. There were some pretty good montages of Palin antagonists saying mean things about her. They seemed insane (and misogynistic), in part because we weren't seeing any of her supposed gaffes. It would have been interesting to explore how well the attacks matched up with her missteps, but it was nevertheless entertaining to see all that stuff strung together. Entertaining like a good YouTube video. But this, of course, is a movie in a movie theater...

9. ... which I saw for you, dear readers. I hope this list of 9 items pleases you.

"Norway suffered two shocking attacks on Friday..."

"... when powerful explosions shook the government center in the capital and, shortly after, a gunman stalked youths on an island summer camp for children of members of the governing Labor Party. Police were treating the assaults, which together killed at least 16 people, as connected, according to Norweigian news media, though it remained unclear who was behind them."


Boehner: "The deal was never reached, and was never really close."

"In the end we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities but because of different visions for our country."

At the Sweet Potato Café...


... let's deep fry everything.

An abstruse argument for keeping the politics in the higher education classroom.

From sociology professor Michael Brown:
This disparagement of politics and of those who take society seriously as a shared project is characteristic of certain currents of the “right,” but not necessarily of conservatism as such. It is important to recognize that there is a logical connection between this disparagement and attempts to describe “republican virtues” according to an extreme individualism, to assert a morality whose primary function is to distinguish the good “us” from the bad “them,” to define “freedom” as “freedom to own.” Perhaps most important, it can be seen in the attempts to demonstrate that the very notions of society and government are essentially “totalitarian.”

Such an attitude easily shades into a dread of “change,” hence the misuse—by those who identify themselves with today’s radical right—of the label “conservative.” This is not a fear of change as such; it is a fear of the sort of change that encourages rethinking basic assumptions about the social world and moral principles.
Read the whole thing, if that is possible. Points to anyone who can paraphrase concisely.
The humanities bring to the forefront of thought the existence of society, disclosing the necessity to recognize the politics that comes with collective life.
I'm afraid, and I don't know why.

"Why on those increasingly rare occasions when I look at Slate these days do I feel like I might be reading Parade Magazine?"

Heh. Really.

Madison public schools may deploy drug-sniffing dogs.

The proposed K9 sweeps will take place outside of school hours, when students are in classes, and when there are "exigent circumstances."

There's a FAQ at the link. Excerpt:
Will the dogs sniff employees’ desks and belongings too?

Typically desks are not in school common areas such as hallways and storage facilities....

Won't certain groups of students be unfairly targeted for drug sweeps? How will you prevent racial and ethnic bias in conducting checks?
Hey, that's easy. Don't use a racist dog!

By the way, I completely support this program. I'd even be fine with the dogs sniffing the employees' desks. The state compels children to go to school, and most people meet this requirement by accepting the public schools. Obviously, dangerous criminal activity in schools should be solved. What about the students who are just carrying small amounts of marijuana to school? As the FAQ says:
Prevention of drug-related offenses is one way to keep students on the right track and reverse negative patterns. The potential for getting caught deters students from bringing drugs to school.
That's just one more thing to learn, kids.

"It sounds counterintuitive, but it's important to leave the object in place."

Medical advice that might prove useful some day.

Defense lawyer quits because of "the horrific way this boy was killed."

Gerard Marrone was a lawyer for Levi Aron, who is accused of murdering Leiby Kletzky:
"I have three little boys," he said. "You can't look at your kids and then look at yourself in the mirror, knowing that a little boy, who's close in age to my eldest son, was murdered so brutally."
What is the argument that it is ethical for a lawyer to express himself publicly like this, to the detriment of his former client?

If you can't come up with the money to buy an iPad, "you are not suitable to learn finance or be my students."

"Henry Liang, who teaches finance in English at Shanghai Maritime University, notified students on his personal blog last week that all course materials, including tests and PowerPoint presentations, would be in iPad format only."

Let's judge Michele Bachmann by how she deals with her migraine headaches.

Says Judith Warner (who, herself, gets migraines):
While there is much about migraines that will forever elude her control — weather changes, for example, can trigger terrible headaches — managing migraines involves a lot of meaningful decision-making. 
So... like... being President involves a lot of meaningful decisision-making, so... how you deal with headaches is a test of what kind of President you'll be.

Warner observes that the Bachmann campaign has only disclosed that she takes medicine to prevent migraines and medicine to relieve migraines. But what medicine? And how much?
I’m not a doctor, but reports that Mrs. Bachmann’s condition had her admitted to an urgent care facility three times in six months suggest that she is perhaps suffering more than she has to. It’s fair to ask: Is she getting the best possible care from doctors who practice mainstream science? Does she fully acknowledge the reality of having a chronic disability by regulating her diet, sleep, exercise and stress levels, as frequent migraine sufferers must? Or does she refuse to acknowledge her limitations?
In the absence of information about the preventive steps she is taking to, as she puts it, control her migraines, we are left with the impression that it’s the migraines that control her.
Are we left with that impression? Or do we just think she has a common affliction and — her achievements reveal — she deals with it well.

Warner seems to be applying a liberal political template to Bachmann's headache issue: She shouldn't just rely on pills (like a right-winger dealing with problems through military force and tough prison sentences). She should regulate all aspects of her life: diet, sleep, exercise and stress levels (like a left-winger with endless regulations and social programs).

July 21, 2011

Madeline Island.

The beach:


The walkway to the beach:


The honor system canoes:


(Enlarge to read the honor system rules.)

A place to canoe:


"Under the legislation, Democrats have little chance of attaining and retaining a majority in either the Senate or the Assembly, or in the congressional delegation..."

"... giving them little ability to overcome minority status at any point over the next decade."

That is a quote from the complaint in the lawsuit challenging the redistricting done this past week in Wisconsin. Read that again. Does it even pass the laugh test?

Let me trot this out again:

ADDED: Back in 1986, Justice O'Connor cogently observed that "there is good reason to think that political gerrymandering is a self-limiting enterprise":
In order to gerrymander, the legislative majority must weaken some of its safe seats, thus exposing its own incumbents to greater risks of defeat -- risks they may refuse to accept past a certain point. Similarly, an overambitious gerrymander can lead to disaster for the legislative majority: because it has created more seats in which it hopes to win relatively narrow victories, the same swing in overall voting strength will tend to cost the legislative majority more and more seats as the gerrymander becomes more ambitious. More generally, each major party presumably has ample weapons at its disposal to conduct the partisan struggle that often leads to a partisan apportionment, but also often leads to a bipartisan one. There is no proof before us that political gerrymandering is an evil that cannot be checked or cured by the people or by the parties themselves. Absent such proof, I see no basis for concluding that there is a need, let alone a constitutional basis, for judicial intervention.

"The Pentagon is set to certify that the U.S. military is prepared to accept openly gay and lesbian service members..."

"... and doing so will not harm military readiness, a U.S. official told CNN on Thursday."

Lucian Freud has died.

Having just blogged about a famous man's grandson, I find I must do it again. This is much sadder.
From the late 1950s, when he began using a stiffer brush and moving paint in great swaths around the canvas, Mr. Freud’s nudes took on a new fleshiness and mass. His subjects, pushed to the limit in exhausting extended sessions, day after day, dropped their defenses and opened up. The faces showed fatigue, distress, torpor.

The flesh was mottled, lumpy and, in the case of his 1990s portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery and the phenomenally obese civil servant Sue Tilley, shockingly abundant.
You can see that painting of Sue Tilley here, in an article from 2008 about its sale.

"If a woman’s hair is her crowning glory, Ms. Brooks’s is a particularly noteworthy diadem."

"It reminds me of nothing more than the coifs of the women beloved by so many pre-Raphaelite painters such as Rossetti, whose Helen of Troy is typical of the genre..."

Pablo Dylan, Dylan's grandson, the rapper.

"I mean, really, my grandfather, I consider him the Jay-Z of his time, and he definitely has a legacy that a lot of people look up to... He feels strongly about my music and I love him to death."

Via my Google alert on Dylan, which got me to that link in AllHipHop News via Salon.

The kid is 15. Perhaps we should refrain from listening to or judging his work, "the first project I ever came out with," which is, he says, "meant to show people what I have been working for, and how I really want to differentiate myself from everyone else." 

Should he really be pushed forward and allowed to grab all the attention he can get on his grandfather's name? But what am I saying? I don't listen to any music in this genre, so I'm not going to be the one to call it bad.

Wisconsin has "the largest one-month gain of private sector jobs since September of 2003."

The unemployment rate for June was 7.6% — up from 7.4% in May — an uptick resulting from the increased number of persons looking for work. A year ago, Wisconsin unemployment was 8.3%.

I'm sure liberals have a way to explain why this is not a reason to credit Scott Walker.

Fried butter!

At the Wisconsin State Fair.

"Ed Flesh, Designed the Wheel of Fortune, Dies at 79."

An obituary for a man with a fabulous name and flashy achievement:
Mr. Flesh used eye-catching details like enormous light bulbs, Mylar surfaces, pastel color schemes and shag carpeting in his game-show décor of the 1960s and 1970s. His large, bright sets lent shows a sense of luxury that the utilitarian designs of the 1950s and early 1960s lacked....

But Mr. Flesh’s most lasting creation may be the blinking carnival wheel that eventually mesmerized the nation. In the pilot for “Wheel of Fortune,” the wheel stood upright and was rather small, making it difficult to see on screen. Mr. Flesh laid it flat and made it big enough so that home viewers could clearly discern its markings.

The first wheel he created, in 1975, was a humble affair of cardboard, paint and light bulbs; the current incarnation is steel and Plexiglas and weighs more than 2,400 pounds.
Let us acknowledge the importance of Mr. Flesh as an artist: He made a vivid sculpture that impressed itself into American consciousness as what the 1970s look like and, beyond the 70s, what color TV is supposed to look like... all glitzy and flashy and kinetic. Before TV went wild like that, quiz shows looked like this:

"They ate them like Doritos... I had to actually ban the cricket eating at a certain point because I was afraid they’d get sick from too many."

Says Angelina Jolie, who gave her children crickets to eat in Cambodia, because "I thought, I wanted them to understand culturally, I didn’t want them to be turned off by something that was their culture."

"Regardless of whether it is a gay or plural relationship, the struggle and the issue remains the same..."

"... the right to live your life according to your own values and faith."

A NYT op-ed from Jonathan Turley, who is the lawyer for Kody Brown, the "Sister Wives" guy who has 4 wives and is suing for the right to be left alone. Note that he's not asking for the state to recognize plural marriage as marriage. He just wants to be rid of the threat of criminal prosecution.
One might expect the civil liberties community to defend those cases as a natural extension of its campaign for greater privacy and personal choice. But too many have either been silent or outright hostile to demands from polygamists for the same protections provided to other groups under [the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas].

The reason might be strategic: some view the effort to decriminalize polygamy as a threat to the recognition of same-sex marriages or gay rights generally. After all, many who opposed the decriminalization of homosexual relations used polygamy as the culmination of a parade of horribles. In his dissent in Lawrence, Justice Antonin Scalia said the case would mean the legalization of “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity.”
In his last paragraph Turley says don't be like Justice Scalia. I suspect Turley is reaching out to liberal readers, who presumably would be horrified by sounding like Justice Scalia. That's a good rhetorical move if what's really going on is that liberals resist showing favor to polygamy because it's done by people they don't like: Christianity-motivated traditionalists. 

Turley isn't trying to talk to conservatives, who generally don't mind sounding like Justice Scalia. Indeed, they get ideas about how to think from Justice Scalia.  Conservatives aren't supporting the constitutional right of privacy in other contexts, so there's no hypocrisy to point out.

Turley also isn't talking to libertarians, who should find this issue so easy that no argument is needed. He does say "Civil libertarians should not be scared away by the arguments of people like Justice Scalia," but that usage of the word "libertarian" is different. It means something like liberals who take pride in thinking of themselves as supporting the kind of legal rights that good people are supposed to believe in. That's why — in a NYT op-ed — ugh, you sound like Scalia! is a good argument

"I don’t think it’s an evil corporate jet."

"I think it’s a virtuous government jet."

July 20, 2011

"The 5 Most Annoying Food/Drink Presentations."

Per Zagat:
1. Wine served in non-wine glasses...

2. Cold bread in a brown paper sack...

3. Drinks served in mason jars...

4. Dishes served on wooden boards...

5. Meat dishes with head/feet still attached: We're down with the whole nose-to-tail trend thing and all, but not all of us love to see our dinner staring back at us. Chickens served with the head and feet still attached, whole pig leg with the hoof intact – while some would argue the chef is "honoring the whole animal," in most cases it's being used as a gimmick to lure in a certain set of foodies – the annoying kind that thinks that reading Anthony Bourdain books obsessively makes you an expert on food. Hold the snouts, please.
Ha ha. Reminds me of those old furs women used to wear to church in the 1950s. The mink's heads were fitted with mouth-clips that the lady attached to the hind end of the mink, and the little legs just dangled. Hey! You can buy one... cheap!

But back to food... I'm sure you can think of some more annoying ways to serve food and drink. I remember when we were little — again, I'm talking about the 1950s — this girl had a KoolAid stand and, having run out of cups, she said: "Cup your hands!" I'd like to see a restaurant today attempt to palm that off as a hipster presentation.

ADDED: Irene (the commenter) emails: "Your post made me laugh, especially since I had just finished uploading the attached photo (from Easter, 1963) to my Facebook page! That thing is in my closet."

"The way records were sold was ridiculous... The covers were brown, tan or green paper."

"They were not attractive, and lacked sales appeal."

Alex Steinweiss, the man who invented the album cover in 1939, has died at the age of 94. And here it is, the first album cover:

Lots more images, here. I especially like this one:

Alex Steinweiss album cover for Boogie Woogie

ADDED: I decided to post that "Boogie Woogie" cover before I saw that the first name on it is Meade — Meade Lux Lewis. Meade notices and, after some Googling, informs me that Meade Lux Lewis is mentioned in Chapter 81 of Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle." Indeed, it is:
Newt now put a long-playing record on the large phonograph in the room off the terrace. He came back with the record's slipcase, which he handed to me.

The record was called Cat House Piano. It was of unaccompanied piano by Meade Lux Lewis.
Here, you can buy "Cat House Piano," which looks like it might have a cover designed by Steinweiss. I like the song title "Meade's Mambo." And here's Meade Lux Lewis playing "Low Down Dog":

Over at YouTube, the top-rate comment is: "There will never, ever be a cooler name than "Meade Lux Lewis." Now, have I wandered off topic? "If you find  your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons... that person may be a member of your karass."

At the Deep Fried Café...


... keep it crispy.

With recall elections looming, the Wisconsin Senate Republicans get their congressional redistricting done.

There are cries of outrage, of course, but, without question, Democrats in the same position would do the same thing.
The proposed maps, which would take effect for the fall 2012 elections, would make three state Senate seats in southeastern Wisconsin dramatically more Republican and help the re-election bid of GOP freshman U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy of Ashland....

Democrats decried the maps as partisan and called it insulting to hold the vote on the same day Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) faced a recall election and just weeks before eight other senators will do the same.

"This is a huge power grab by a party that's worried about losing the majority in a couple of weeks," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).
And "a huge power grab" is what your party wants. Here's Erpenbach's ex-brother-in-law Russ Feingold exhorting the protesters in Madison last month:

"This game's not over until we win."

"Victoria Nourse really has very little connection to the state of Wisconsin, and nobody in the legal community in Wisconsin knows anything about her."

Said Senator Ron Johnson, who is blocking Obama's nominee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Apparently, the University of Wisconsin Law School doesn't count as "the legal community in Wisconsin." That says something. Let's talk about what.

Wisconsin recall results.

As expected, Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay kept his seat.. He had a deeply flawed and "underfunded" challenger. There were also 2 primaries:
[A]n Eagle River tea party activist and a Pleasant Prairie attorney won Republican primaries, bringing them into general elections against the two other Democrats still facing recall.

Kim Simac, founder of the Northwoods Patriots and owner of a riding club near Eagle River, will oppose Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover) in an Aug. 16 general election.
We saw a lot of Simac signs when we drove through the area the other day.

Allen West calls Debbie Wasserman Schultz "vile, unprofessional, and despicable."

And "from this time forward," she needs to "understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior."

In other news... West is saying:
I believe we are headed towards the ultimate ideological clash in America....

I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.
What's with West? Is he — as Think Progress would have it — into "making outrageous statements just to provoke a reaction"? Or have media folk on the other side of that "ideological clash" decided that the way to ruin Allen West's potential for a brilliant career is to portray him as hotheaded and irrational?

In this context, let's remember all the discussion about how Barack Obama had to fend off the "angry black man" stereotype:
"Folks are waiting for a Samuel Jackson 'Snakes on the Plane' moment from this president as in: 'We gotta' get this $#@!!* oil back in the $#!!* rig!' But that's just not who Obama is,'' says Saladin Ambar, a political science professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania....

"It would have fed deeply into a pre-existing set of narratives about the angry black man," [says William Jelani Cobb, author of "The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress."] "The anger would have gotten in the way. He would have frightened off white voters who were interested in him because he seemed to be like the black guy they worked with or went to graduate school with -- not a black guy who is threatening."...

"Rev. Wright almost cost him his run for the presidency because of fears of the angry black man," [says author and political activist Paul Street] ....

"He is Mr. Equanimity and Mr. Consolation," says Street. "That's how he negotiated his way through multiple worlds, and reached out across bridges."


On the lawprof blogs ranking.

(Check out some of those other blogs, especially ones that are acquiring new readers. They might be kind of good.)

Robin Givhan chides Rebekah Brooks for her big, curly hairdo: "That was look-at-me hair — stare at me, remember me. Me, me, me."

"It’s always risky to attach politics, social status or cultural affinity to a hairstyle — to endow it with too much meaning," says the writer whose stock-in-trade is finding meaning in fashion and style.
Surely the many debates and lawsuits stemming from disagreements over cornrows, Afros, and dreadlocks have driven home this lesson.
But Brooks is not black, so let's put that worry on the backburner.
Still, in such a serious situation as an interrogation by Parliament, why risk being misread, mischaracterized or misunderstood?
Would you say that to a black person with a trademark extravagant hairstyle?
... One could argue that it’s to Brooks’ credit that she refrained from dramatically altering her signature look. She is who she is. She didn’t pull her hair into a trim bun or clip it into a ponytail. Either choice would have made her hair less of a distraction, but it also might have made it less of a personal comfort.
It would have been distracting to change it, and I bet Givhan would have written her column about that.
[Brooks's hair is] a spray of self-conscious indifference.... [P]erhaps... Brooks was attempting to defy presumptions.... But that’s a pretty brazen thing to do when Parliament is on your case for defying laws, ethics and common decency.

Brooks’ hair was a distraction because it was a ballsy rebuke of our expectations governing how people on the defensive are supposed to tread.
Do you, like Givhan, attribute that to brazen ego, or do you think that a powerful person, called to account by government, should maintain the basic aspects of her image and individuality? And how much of a self-defense is it, really, to become someone other than who you've been, by taking away your tangled, spangled, and spaghettied hair?

July 19, 2011

Justice David Prosser and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson split over the meaning of the phrase "acting together."

In a case in which 2 town boards voted on whether to turn a public road private.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented... To support her view, Abrahamson turned to Khalil Gibran's poem "On Marriage."
(Here's the opinion.)

Twilight, Lake Superior.




This evening, in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Tuesday sunset.


In the rain.

At the Blue Water Café...


... keep cool and happy.

"Iranians... flocking online to defy another Islamic Republic edict: buying and selling dogs."

"... Last year, Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi issued a fatwa, or religious edict, denouncing dog ownership. In April, Iran's parliament passed a bill to criminalize dog ownership, declaring the phenomenon a sign of 'vulgar Western values.'"

Pick one.
Dog ownership is a beautiful part of human life that should be available to all.
Actually, it is vulgar, but that's part of freedom -- the freedom to do vulgar things.
I agree, dog ownership is vulgar and should be suppressed.
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"How to Undress a Victorian Lady in Your Next Historical Romance."

"Authors Who Crave Verisimilitude Learn to Unlace a Corset in a Good Bodice Ripper."

Apparently, it was much harder to get the lady's clothes off than the average fiction-writer would have you believe. But, generally, in fantasies, clothes come off — even fall off! — much more easily than in real life.

This makes me think about "The Peculiar Art of Mr. Frahm."

The NYT live-blogs British parliamentary hearings.

The phone-hacking scandal is important to the United States, because....

"Wisconsin is, of course, not Egypt."

"[W]hile political imagination is blooming in Cairo, it is somewhat disappointing in Wisconsin."

"Assertions by the prosecution that Casey Anthony conducted extensive computer searches on the word 'chloroform' were based on inaccurate data...."

"... a software designer who testified at the trial said Monday."
The designer, John Bradley, said Ms. Anthony had visited what the prosecution said was a crucial Web site only once, not 84 times, as prosecutors had asserted. He came to that conclusion after redesigning his software, and immediately alerted prosecutors and the police about the mistake, he said.

The finding of 84 visits was used repeatedly during the trial to suggest that Ms. Anthony had planned to murder her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, who was found dead in 2008. Ms. Anthony, who could have faced the death penalty, was acquitted of the killing on July 5.
So... presumably, if there had been a guilty verdict, Anthony would be getting a new trial.

The death of Borders.

"Borders Group Inc. said it would liquidate after the second-largest U.S. bookstore chain failed to receive any offers to save it."

I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971 when the first Borders opened there. Before then, we browsed for books at Centicore. Whatever happened to Centicore? I don't know, but Borders went big, and back in the 1990s, I loved the big Borders in Madison, Wisconsin. I went there almost every day, usually with one or both of my sons. Many times we left with a stack of books — usually after spending money in the café. Then came the day — in the late 90s? — when I asked at the information desk if they had WiFi. The guy manning the station gave me an attitude-filled "WiFi?" — as if I was looking for something stupid.

There was a narrative arc to Borders, and my own life followed that arc... up until the point where it diverged.

ADDED: I am reminded of my January 23, 2009 post "Despite shrines to Obama, the bookstore was nearly deserted."
Where is everyone? It's about 5:30 p.m. here at Borders, and I feel as though I've stayed until after closing time. I used to like to go here to browse alongside myriad strangers and to run into people I knew. Now, there's zero "town square" ambiance.

Here's a title that made me feel good about the way my reading about current politics has, in the past few years, migrated nearly completely on-line:

Bookstore shrine to Obama

"What Obama Means." Spare me. Whatever is in that book can — I will bet you — be skimmed and understood in less than one minute.

"What will it take for my Republican colleagues to wake up to the fact that they’re playing a game of political chicken with the entire global economy?"

Says Harry Reid, as if "chicken" is a one-sided game.

The question is: Who's the James Dean here and who's the "aaaahhhhh!" guy? We know the American people are Sal Mineo.

"On average, married heart attack victims arrived at the hospital half an hour sooner than those who were not married."

"But when the researchers analyzed the data separately for men and women, they found that while married men were more than 60 percent less likely to arrive late than their single peers, there was no statistically significant difference between married and single women."

This is like that asking-for-directions thing, isn't it? Women are more inclined to seek help, while men like to try to solve problems on their own?

Should unmarried men read this and think I should get a woman, because it might save my life? Of course not! We don't know the full causal effect of these wives. Sure, they got their man to the hospital faster, but why did the man have the heart attack? Maybe she stressed him out with all the nagging about other things he was always supposed to seeking help with, things he could do by himself, wanted to do for himself, and wanted that wife to believe he could do.

NOTE: Stereotypes refer to averages within groups, not what real human individuals do. Personally, I'm not the help-seeking type. I'm just responding to a newspaper article on the level at which it is pitched.

"Penile length alone can explain over 15% of the between-country variation in 1985 GDP."

"Startlingly the male organ coefficients are statistically significant at
the 1% level in all model specifications."


July 18, 2011

At the Deep Water Sunset Café...


... please share your superior thoughts.

"If Pawlenty was deeply annoyed to have to talk about Bachmann, a back-bencher in the state Senate when he was elected governor in 2002, who could really blame him?"

From "The Tragedy of Tim Pawlenty":
“Pawlenty has always been the establishment in Minnesota and Bachmann has always been the renegade,” says University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs. “Pawlenty thought that she was kind of a crackpot. He would roll his eyes when her name came up.” Democrat Roger Moe — the former longtime majority leader of the state Senate who lost the 2002 gubernatorial race to Pawlenty — describes his rival as “the kind of guy you can have a beer with” despite their political differences. But Moe cannot resist chuckling: “I can just tell you — I know for sure on the inside of him—that Tim Pawlenty is just seething over Bachmann. I bet they have to lock him in a room some days when he reads about her.”
Those stray quotes could be complete garbage, or, if not garbage, totally about the 2 individuals Pawlenty and Bachmann, but I can't help hearing the eternal theme of male reacting to female: The woman does not know her place. When she speaks, I hear crazy.

Missing from the Wisconsin recall election ads: the subject of collective bargaining that started all the protests.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the 9 recall elections and the massive ad campaigns:
The ads that have aired in recent weeks have delved into candidates’ personal histories, gaffes and legal problems, into the broader battle over the state budget, and into federal issues like Medicare.

Gov. Walker’s push against collective bargaining for public employees is mostly absent from the broadcast advertising, either because strategists believe most voters have made up their mind about that issue or because they think other messages are more effective....
And here's Jack Craver in the Isthmus:
WTDY, the radio station where I work part-time, can't get in touch with Democratic candidates for Senate. They're apparently not interested in discussing why "big labor" is only a big issue for Republicans now. Democrats make little mention of the issue that brought about this historic opportunity to take back the State Senate....

Democrats get tons of money from unions, but they get even more from corporations. I would argue that the party's current posture on unions is evidence of its attempt to straddle straddle both interests.
Well, the Wisconsin protests were about public employee unions, so it should be easy to avoid that conflict... unless the project of supporting public employee unions depends on confusing people.

Craver continues, with lines that may be the norm in Madison but should raise eyebrows in the rest of the state:
What's incredible, however, is how willingly the American people entertain the notion that the Democratic Party is anti-business or left wing. Let's be clear: There is no American left. There used to be. But the right has taken over the dialogue in the last 30 years, and convinced us that any move towards an economic system championed by Roosevelt, Truman or Eisenhower represents an attack against American capitalist values.
Hmmm. Let me guess why the Democratic candidates don't want to be on Craver's radio show!

The plight of the independent — right wing? — blogger.

Right Wing News has a piece called "The Slow, Painful Coming Death Of The Independent, Conservative Blogosphere," and the part that jumped out at me isn't about where one is on the political spectrum:
Most bloggers are not very good at marketing, not very good at monetizing, there are no sugar daddies giving us cash, and this isn’t the biggest market in the world to begin with. In other words, this is a time-consuming enterprise, but few people are going to make enough money to go full time. How many people can put in 20-30-40-50 hours a week on something that’s not going to ever be their full time job? Can they do it for 5 years? 10 years? 15? 20?
Actually, there are a lot of people who do that: artists, retired folk, stay-at-home spouses, people who already have enough money, the disabled, and the hardcore believer. You know when you are writing for the intrinsic value of writing (and reaching readers) and when you are writing for money (or some combination of the 2). The thought that you are "put[ting] in 20-30-40-50 hours a week" nags in the head of a person who is doing it for money.

After 1 year of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law — what good has it done?

Bloomberg editorial:
Consumer advocates, many congressional Democrats and some economists say banks are still too big, the derivatives market remains untamed and opaque, and regulators have been slow to write hundreds of rules. The financial industry and Republican lawmakers, on the other hand, say regulators have gone overboard, hobbling financial firms with onerous demands, creating regulatory uncertainty and slowing the economic recovery.

July 17, 2011

Superior sunset.


Looking out at the Apostle Islands.

At the Puffy Red Café...

... I really don't see what you're so proud of.

"IC Solutions CEO Joe Stafford, who takes time to reread the 1,100 pages of the pro-capitalism novel Atlas Shrugged every two years..."

"... says he doesn't 'have enough time in the day to bother with' the 94 pages of Cheese."

From a 2002 USA Today article about the popularity of the book "Who Moved My Cheese?" I stumbled across that article as a result of reading the "Who Moved My Cheese?" article in Wikipedia, which I did because I said "Who Moved My Cheese?" — in a conversation with Meade about the troubles he (like others) was having with the new comments format on this blog — and I then realized that I'd long assumed I knew what "Who Moved My Cheese?" meant and, moreover, that Wikipedia would probably summarize the book, which it did. I learned that I was kind of wrong about what "Who Moved My Cheese?" was about. I thought it was about the way fussy people are disconcerted by small changes in their environment.
Some managers are known to mass-distribute copies of the book to employees, some of whom see this as an insult, or an attempt to characterize dissent as not "moving with the cheese". In the corporate environment, management has been known to distribute this book to employees during times of "structural re-organization," or during cost-cutting measures, in an attempt to portray unfavorable or unfair changes in an optimistic or opportunistic way. 
So that's why it was a big bestseller for 5 years. People were buying it for other people.

4 Questions:

1. Have you ever been insulted by a book someone gave you to read? Have you ever — be honest — insulted anyone with a gift book?

2. What 2 things in your life are equivalent to Joe Stafford's "Atlas Shrugged" and "Who Moved My Cheese?"? (That is: You have time for something that take a lot of time, but you don't have time for something else in the same category that takes very little time.)

3. What catchphrase have you discovered yourself to be using incorrectly because you never bothered to partake of the source material?

4. If you had to think of a parable off the top of your head, do you think you could come up with something better than "Who Moved My Cheese?" and if so, does it irritate you that Dr. Spencer Johnson had that big-ass best seller? (Next time write a parable that will be useful propaganda for people with money and the motivation to make a lot of insult-gifts.)

Tweaking the template.

You may have noticed a few tweaks around here. There's the "Who is Althouse? ✼ How can I contribute?" in the banner. The picture of me in the sidebar is now the width of the Blogads (and no longer accompanied by my name and some added text). The post titles aren't orange-ish anymore. And the format for posting a comment is different.

The comments system is the same, but I've seen a little confusion about it. You have to "select a profile," using the drop-down menu showing 6 ID formats. You only need to do that the first time, and if you were commenting before, you've done it before. You just don't remember.

Also, there are 2 buttons: "Post Comment" and "Preview." If you feel like you're encountering a 2-step process, it's because you hit the "Preview" button. Just read the buttons, and pick "Post Comment" if you don't like previewing.

Please move beyond this initial confusion and take note of how much cleaner and prettier the comments page looks than they old orange-and-tan thing it has replaced.

Finally, you may wonder why I'm fussing with the Blogger aesthetics when I've been saying I'm moving out of Blogger onto an independent site. It's because I'm seriously considering staying with Blogger. I won't trouble you with the problems of moving a blog this big to a new site, but they are huge. I have — with the help of some good people at Google — gotten a full export of my archive (comments and all). But there are many more problems with the transition, and having experienced some nice treatment from Google, I'm quite likely to stay here now.

ADDED: I've gone back to the old comments format. The new one, while prettier, was preventing some people from posting.

"Should a two-time Oscar-winner like Jane Fonda really be making a spectacle out of the fact that she wanted to appear on a home-shopping channel?"

Asks Big Hollywood, noting Jane's plaint:
I was to have been on QVC today to introduce my book, “Prime Time,” about aging and the life cycle....

The network said they got a lot of calls yesterday criticizing me for my opposition to the Vietnam War and threatening to boycott the show if I was allowed to appear.

Bottom line, this has gone on far too long, this spreading of lies about me! None of it is true. NONE OF IT! I love my country. I have never done anything to hurt my country or the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us.
Big Hollywood has a few quibbles with some of those assertions.

Poor Jane! Getting old... and just wants to sell her book about getting old. We're all getting old, and Jane has always been about capturing — and purveying — the spirit of whatever time she happened to be in. With that mindset, it's hard to understand the depth of feeling some people have about the past.

Remember 80s Jane?

"Rebekah Brooks has been arrested..."

"... by police investigating allegations of phone hacking by the News of the World and allegations that police officers were bribed to leak sensitive information."
... Brooks, 43, resigned on Friday as News International's chief executive. She is a former News of the World editor and was close to Rupert Murdoch and the prime minister, David Cameron.

"When it comes to social issues like abortion, public prayer, and Church-state topics, are you politically conservative, moderate, or liberal?"

That's the wording of the "social issues" question on the Rasmussen poll (which we were discussing here).

Using that form for the question — highlighting those 3 issues — 40% of "likely voters" identified themselves as conservative, 31% said liberal, and 26% said moderate. I'm wondering how the results might have varied if 3 other issues had been used to create the impression of what "social issues" means. Obviously, the question over-emphasizes religion. It's also confusing about religion. What is "public prayer"? If you're in a church congregation, you are in public. The President says "God bless America." Saying "prayer in public schools" would have more clearly framed the issue that divides people. But that's a "Church-state topic," so why list it separately?

What if the 3 issues were: abortion, prayer in public schools, and gay rights? Or: abortion, prayer in public schools, and affirmative action? Do you think the percentages would come out different?

Sometimes people — e.g., Mitch Daniels — say that Republicans would do better if they downplayed or ignored the social issues. But "social issues" is an abstract and variable concept. The question should be which social issues to highlight in order to shape the voters' impression of what the social issues are in order to cause them to identify as conservative, moderate, or liberal.

I'm more likely to say I'm conservative if I think of "social issues" as...
Abortion, public prayer, and church-state topics
Abortion, gay rights, and affirmative action
Abortion, gay rights, and church-state topics
Abortion, prayer in school, and affirmative action
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