October 29, 2011

What the "Occupy Madison" encampment looked like today...


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It's exiled on East Washington Avenue. Meanwhile, at the Capitol Square... the protesting is enigmatic and infiltrated with Halloween — Freakfest — spirit....


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Would you eat that carrot?

"We are shamelessly promoting our dad..."

Jon Huntsman's daughters:

At the Broccoli Restaurant...



... you can have your fill.

"Why were we born?"

"What were we born for?"

The link goes to a commercial — in Japanese, with subtitles — for an insurance company. I am presenting it neutrally for you to comment on.

ADDED: After I watched that, YouTube suggested that I watch this ad, which I will comment on and say I liked:

"Are you just occupying space?"

The Occupy Wall Street — or Occupy [Your City] — movement made me remember an old expression: "Are you just occupying space?" It was normally preceded by another question. For example: "Are you getting any work done or are you just occupying space?" In the expression, to "occupy" is to be irritatingly passive and ineffectual. In my experience, it was a relatively mild insult, usually deployed by mothers and schoolteachers.

Should protesters want to convey an aura of inaction? Perhaps! Think of the old protest slogan: "We're here/We're queer/Get used to it." The message is: look, we exist. The onlooker is challenged to stop denying the existence of the people who are making their existence apparent by just occupying space. That's all.

What's perplexing about Occupy [Your City] is that the onlookers already know that people affected by the economy exist. Everyone is affected. The onlookers don't feel that they are at any sort of distanced relationship to the problem the protesters are attempting to highlight. The protesters are simply the people who have taken up urban camping as a manifestation of concern about the problem.

The onlookers might admire the protesters for their stamina and hardiness, but they might also be annoyed by the filth and chaos, especially if it undermines their ability to pursue their own livelihood. Why do these people who are just occupying space think they are heroic when I work all day and go home at night to take care of my family?

The protesters should be able to connect with the nonprotesters, since the economic problems are shared and there's little emphasis on solutions. (Did you see this Onion piece: "Nation Finally Breaks Down And Begs Its Smart People To Just Fix Everything"?) There shouldn't be an us/them relationship between the protesters and onlookers. It's a shared predicament, and the protesters don't have superior knowledge about the problems or what to do about them. But they are there, out on the street. Then what?

They could turn inward and resist communication, like the Occupy Oakland protesters who wore masks and then turned their backs on a reporter who wanted to interview them about what they were doing. But it would be better for them to turn outward, adopting a demeanor that would allow onlookers to talk with them and have real conversations about shared problems. Of course, a conversation goes both ways. You can't just harangue people. There must be back and forth, and since the protesters don't really know what to do about the problems, they can demonstrate their good faith by really engaging.

An outsider to the protest should be able to move into the crowd and get a dialogue going, the way investment guru Peter Schiff did the other day:



Last March, during the height of the occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol, we were impressed by a man — we call him "The Man in the Middle" — who was not one of protesters, who took a seat in the center of the rotunda and invited people to sit down and talk to him one on one. That was one of the best moments in the protests.

Why don't people talk to each other? There was a popular chant last winter — now taken up by the Occupy crowds — "This is what democracy looks like." But democracy should look like people talking to each other. Not staring each other down from a secure distance.

October 28, 2011

At the Prairie Café...



... you can hang out with us all night. (We're watching Game 7. Are you?)

UPDATE: Nice work by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Critiquing mainstream media and praising Occupy Wall Street, Dahlia Lithwick accidentally slams Barack Obama.

This essay rambles along, excusing OWS for its vague message on the theory that cable TV newsfolk just don't understand:
Occupy Wall Street is... a movement that has wisely shunned the one-note, pre-chewed, simple-minded messaging required for cable television as it now exists....

The mainstream media... has no idea whatsoever of how to report on a story that isn’t about easy fixes so much as it is about anguished human frustration and fear....

While the mainstream media expresses puzzlement and fear at these incomprehensible “protesters” with their oddly well-worded “signs,” the rest of us see our own concerns reflected back at us and understand perfectly....
Okay.  The media doesn't get it. Check. Now, look at the final paragraph.
By refusing to take a ragtag, complicated, and leaderless movement seriously, the mainstream media has succeeded only in ensuring its own irrelevance. The rest of America has little trouble understanding that these are ragtag, complicated, and leaderless times. This may not make for great television, but any movement that acknowledges that fact deserves enormous credit.
These are leaderless times?! Whatever happened to The One?

Why do people have so much trouble understanding Herman Cain's smoking guy ad?

Back in 2007, we were able to get Mike Gravel's throwing-a-rock-in-the-water ad:



Maybe some day Mark Block — the smoking guy — will explain his ad the way Mike Gravel explained his ad here:



All right, now... try again. Here's the smoking guy ad:



Do you understand now? It is a little different, but there are similarities, and I don't just mean that both ads are weird and went viral as a result. Both have an old white guy, who seems pretty boring and rather surly, with his face right up in the camera. In both ads, you endure that face. How long must I look at this old guy?

Finally, something happens. In the Gravel ad, the old guy throws a rock in the water. Ah! In the Herman Cain ad, what happens is... the music comes on — "I am America!" — and the old guy starts smoking. It's absurd and still about oldness. This old man is doing that old thing from the past — smoking! What the hell? Then suddenly... Cain! He looks so fresh-faced, and he's not surly at all. He's got this slow-breaking smile. It takes 5 seconds for the smile to broaden to the point where the teeth begin to show. And those are not smoker's teeth. They are sparkling white teeth. We see that smile for 10 whole seconds.

And then you go on to talk about — not the 10-second long smile — but the smoker guy. Why was that man smoking?! You watch it again and get other people to watch it as your conscious mind dithers over the puzzle of the smoking man. And all along, you're falling — unwittingly — in love with the man with the beautiful smile.

Watch it again. See the smile. Sly!

Paul Ryan at the Heritage Foundation: "Saving the American Idea."

Here's 52 whole minutes if you've got the time for a full serving of Paul Ryanosity:

Posters, with window reflections.

Some interesting sayings, especially for Madison:


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Inside the Overture Center, it was a demonstration of poster printing.

ADDED: I enlarged a photograph enough to see the printer's name "Kennedy Prints," and Googling, I got here and found this trailer for a documentary about Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.:



Wow! Click on the last link in the post for a picture of Kennedy. Click through to the enlargements. The aphorisms on the posters are really terrific.

What are Americans watching on TV?

In a word: football.

A quote from Bill Daley, the White House Chief of Staff. Guess what he's talking about?

"That was a freakin’ drag out, knockout, every day sort of bing-bang-bong. There isn’t that now. There isn’t a sort of 'woe is us,' kind of dragging around, tail between the legs. Maybe there ought to be, but there sure isn’t."

What is he comparing to what?

"Juggalos are traditionally fans of the musical group the Insane Clown Posse."

Says the FBI in its 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. Jesse Walker at Hit & Run comments: "I'd love to learn more about those non-traditional Juggalos who are not fans of Insane Clown Posse."

"The continuing economic downturn has drastically altered the internal migration habits of Americans..."

"... turning the flood of migrants into the Sun Belt and out of states like New York, Massachusetts and California into a relative trickle..."
Essentially, millions of Americans have become frozen in place, researchers say, unable to sell their homes and unsure they would find jobs elsewhere anyway.
Go West nowhere, young man.

Person-based praise and process-based praise — are you praising your kids the best way?

"The parents who gave more process-praise had children who believe their intelligence and social qualities could be developed and they were more eager for challenges" — according to Stanford researcher Carol Dweck, quoted in this essay by Jenny Anderson.

I haven't delved through Dweck's study, but I wonder whether correlation is causation here. Maybe less intelligent parents are the ones who make "person-based" comments like "You're so smart!" and more intelligent parents figure out that it is better not to tell the child what he is but to talk about the specifics of the thing that he is attempting to do. If so, the difference in intelligence may be simply inborn. 

"In the history of baseball, there have been a small collection of World Series games identified solely by the moniker 'Game 6.'"

So begins David Waldstein in his write-up of last night's World Series game. It's an exciting read. But there are 2 more new essays on the game in the NYT alone.

Tyler Kpner begins:
The two men, both in their 70’s, with decades in baseball and a fortune to their names, huddled together in the runway outside the home clubhouse at Busch Stadium early Friday morning. They could have been caffeinated Little Leaguers at a pizza parlor, celebrating the most thrilling game of their lives.
Pat Borzi begins:
He guessed right on a changeup, and once the ball left David Freese’s bat, he saw everything. The soaring drive deep to center field. Josh Hamilton chasing it for a few steps, then giving up. And a solitary usher in the bleachers trying to stop joyous St. Louis Cardinals fans from jumping onto the grassy batter’s eye in pursuit of Freese’s game-winning home run.
It's a sportswriters' contest. Fabulous raw material. As the teams compete to determine who's the best in the land, so do the sportswriters.

NY police union threatens to bring civil lawsuits against the protesters who assault police officers.

The NY Daily News reports:
[T]he president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association warned demonstrators that he will pursue civil suits against anyone who assaults any union member.

"New York's police officers are working around the clock as the already overburdened economy in New York is being drained by 'occupiers' who intentionally and maliciously instigate needless and violent confrontations with the police," SBA President Ed Mullins said in a statement....

Seventeen demonstrators were arrested and six officers were assaulted during a chaotic march to Union Square on Wednesday night, police said.
A protester responds:
"We have been brutalized and mass-arrested by the NYPD. They can threaten us all they want - we've got lawyers, too."
That's the classic informed citizen's response: You sue me, and I'll sue you.

The "Slumdog Millionaire" scenario...

... plays out in real life.

"Four Reasons Keynesians Keep Getting It Wrong."

Allan H. Meltzer in the WSJ:
First, big increases in spending and government deficits raise the prospect of future tax increases...

Second, most of the government spending programs redistribute income from workers to the unemployed....

Third, Keynesian models totally ignore the negative effects of the stream of costly new regulations that pour out of the Obama bureaucracy....

Fourth, U.S. fiscal and monetary policies are mainly directed at getting a near-term result....

October 27, 2011

Rangers about to win the World Series?

Are you watching?

ADDED: For some reason, Meade and I have fallen into rooting for different teams. I'm for Texas.

AND: The game continues.

PLUS: Freese! The series continues.

Cute tiny robot rides a bike.



(Via Metafilter.)

"Why Don't More Law Schools Teach Reproductive Rights Classes?"

Asks Alexandra Harwin over at Slate's XXfactor. What a phony issue!

The subject is taught as part of Constitutional Law, which virtually every law student takes. In the Constitutional Law casebooks I've seen, it's the main subtopic under the Due Process Clause. Yes, a lawprof might decide to offer an upper-level seminar concentrating on reproductive rights, but the absence of a course like that scarcely means students walk away from law school without studying the key cases on birth control and abortion.

It would make more sense to complain about how much time is spent in Constitutional Law trying to comb through the multiple discordant opinions in these cases, considering the limited usefulness of the enlightenment to be derived.

Occupy Wall Street food servers get sick of the "professional homeless people."

"They know what they’re doing."
For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day.
What if everyone suddenly got sick of freeloaders?

Santorum ad goes after Herman Cain on abortion.



The ad uses video from Cain's interview with Piers Morgan, which I've blogged about here, and also this interview with John Stossel. A friend sent me that Stossel interview a couple days ago along with the comment that Cain is an idiot, and my response was:
I don't think he's being idiotic, actually. His position is much like Obama's position on marijuana. Keep it illegal, but don't enforce the law. Let people do what they want, but knowing that the community as a whole has stigmatized it as criminal.

I don't like that use of law, but it's not incomprehensible. Cain states and restates the position clearly. It's just a decision to put the expression of disapproval in the criminal law and then do nothing about the violation.

Same thing as with marijuana possession (in small amounts or whatever the hell the policy is).
It seems to me that Herman Cain would like to take us back to the good/bad old days when abortion was not a right, there were criminal laws, but women got illegal abortions. In Herman Cain's dream scenario, abortions would be available, but no one would be prosecuted. What's the point? The point is, women would know they were doing something criminal, and maybe that would affect their choice, and the people as a polity would be able to express themselves through the criminal law saying that abortion is murder.

Cain's position on abortion, as interpreted by Althouse...
does a good job of valuing both unborn life and a woman's control over her own body.
basically preserves access to abortion, with some bad use of criminal law as a smokescreen.
is basically anti-abortion, leavened with a bit of leniency to account for rape and incest.
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Jesus Ween.

"Jesus Weeners might be seen as fun-trouncers."

Is it a contradiction to allow guns in the Wisconsin Assembly gallery and to arrest people who use cameras?

Under the new law, guns will be allowed in most parts of the Wisconsin Capitol building but just this week "a dozen people were removed from the Assembly galleries and arrested for videotaping proceedings and holding up signs."

Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says there's no contradiction: "You can have a gun, but you can't shoot."

"I went to the bar and I ordered a Jack and coke and I turned around and locked eyes with Tania..."

"... and before I took the drink I set it down and I walked over and I asked her if she wanted to go and have a cup of coffee with me - and we haven't been apart since."

Don't you already know whether you want to believe the stories Glenn Beck tells?

The woman who presented childbirth as performance art in a gallery "didn’t understand it was going to be in the news."

According to her husband. "She didn’t understand it was going to freak people out.’

So what are you saying? She's an idiot? No, he saying you're an idiot:
Mr Bell said he chose the name Ajax as an ‘intelligence test’ to see if people how people would react:  - if they said the detergent instead of the Greek God then he knew they an idiot.
Wouldn't it be ironic if using your child into an intelligence test for other people made you an idiot?

Let's think of some other "intelligence test" baby names. We'll call the baby Trojan so that if anyone says "so I guess the condom broke," we'll be able to say, "Gotcha! You're not familiar with Homer's Iliad!"

And by the way, Mr. Intelligence Test Man. Ajax was not a Greek god. See? Gotcha! You're not familiar with Homer's Iliad!

What's gone wrong with The Daily Beast?

Kaus looks at the evidence. There's a theory that "Tina Brown has now decamped for Newsweek magazine with all her favorite hires, leaving the remnants at the Beast web site feeling abandoned like unwanted stepchildren." But even so... it's weird for page views to fall. Are the "unwanted stepchildren" really that bad?

Who gets to take advantage of Obama's new changes to the student loan program?

Not as many as you might think. The new rules only apply to federal loans, not loans from private banks, and...
This new income-based plan is not available to people who graduated in 2011 or earlier and have no plans to take out any new federal loans. Instead, you must have at least one federal loan from no earlier than 2008 and also take out one more in 2012 or later to qualify.
If you're already in default, you're ineligible.

"If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl..."

"... Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout."

But what if a child is presented as a boy who has a strong identification with things that are traditionally female? Here's Bobby Montoya, whose mother tried to get him into the Girl Scouts, but didn't claim he was female:



My problem with this is that the argument that he belongs in the Girl Scouts is premised on stereotyping girls. I think the better argument for kids like Bobby is: Let children choose their own toys, hairstyles, clothes and don't make a big deal about whether he or she has chosen things that are more often chosen by members of the opposite sex. Emphasize individual freedom!

Bobby's family put him in a situation where he was excluded because — as the troop leader allegedly put it — he has "boy parts." He has a real physical difference from the girls, and he was classified based on that, not his personal preferences and interests. Now, he's focused on genitalia-based limitations, as if his natural body parts are his problem!

AND: When is it appropriate to make your child a gender celebrity?

Public masturbation at Occupy Madison?

Here's a paragraph in a UW student newspaper story about the Occupy Madison protesters:
A neighboring hotel's staff alleged voiced [sic] concerns about having to recently escort hotel employees to and from bus stops late at night due to inappropriate behavior, such as public masturbation, from street protesters.
Imagine paying for an expensive hotel right next to Madison's glamorous convention center and then not being able to walk alone from the hotel to the convention center.

October 26, 2011

"Be amazing."



Suggested by YouTube after watching this...



Which was suggested by Metafilter and really is similar amazingness... of the goatish kind.

At Red Oak Café...



... there's a warm glow.

At Occupy Wall Street, "children are becoming an increasing presence..."

"... as parents try to seize a 'teachable moment' to enlighten them on matters ranging from income inequality to the right to protest."

The NYT paints a pretty picture of the practice of taking little kids to protests. I think it's a terrible idea to bring children. I wouldn't expose a child to the various health hazards (including loud noise), and I don't think it's right to use children as props. If the child isn't old enough to understand what is going on and to choose to go, it's exploitation. Now, I know the parents who spoke to the Times portrayed themselves as teaching their children about the protest, but why do you have to go down there in person to talk about the various political and economic issues? Why overwhelm a child with crowds and passionate adult expression? Are you really developing the child's mind? Or are these justifications you've made up after you've decided, for your own reasons, to drag your child along to something that's important to you?

In 2008, Madoff and his wife "swallowed handfuls of sedatives before climbing into their chintz-draped canopy bed."

Like Madoff's Ponzi scheme, his suicide scheme did not work. The Madoffs woke up the next morning. In this botched suicide story, as told by Mrs. Madoff, she was "glad to wake up" but "not sure how I felt about him waking up."

A Democratic Party-affiliated poll reveals that it's unlikely any Democrat will succeed in a recall election against Scott Walker.

Public Policy Polling reports:
Walker's still not popular- 47% of voters approve of him, compared to 51% who disapprove. But those numbers represent continuing improvement over the course of the year. He hit his lowest point in PPP's polling in May at 43/54. By August he'd improved to 45/53, and now that improvement has continued over the last couple months. Republicans continue to stand pretty uniformly behind Walker, and Democrats pretty uniformly against him. Where the shift is occurring is with independents. In May only 40% approved of him with 56% disapproving. Now those numbers are almost flipped with 52% approving to 44% who disapprove.

Walker's not out of the woods by any means. 48% of voters in the state want to recall him, while 49% are opposed to such a move. But it's not clear if Democrats will have a candidate strong enough to unseat Walker. The only one who beats him in a hypothetical recall is Russ Feingold. But Feingold's already said he's probably not going to run, and his margin over Walker is just 3 points at 49-46. In May Feingold led Walker 52-42 and in August Feingold had a 52-45 advantage. So even with their strongest possible candidate Democrats' prospects against Walker are slipping.
But Walker opponents will still sign that recall petition, I'll bet. It will set up an opportunity for the normally low-profile Walker to step into the light and defend himself. I predict he'll become quite a bit more popular as people pay direct attention to his policies (as opposed to picking up the demonization message from his antagonists).

"Marni Kotak, an artist whose plans to give birth in a New York gallery as an act of performance art provoked criticism and concern..."

"... delivered a healthy baby boy Tuesday. Kotak, 36, gave birth to baby Ajax, weighing nine pounds and two ounces at 21 inches at 10:17 a.m., before an audience in a home birthing center she constructed at the Microscope Gallery. The gallery did not disclose how many people were present for the birth."
"The beautiful baby boy was wide-eyed, and as quiet as could be, staring blankly into the camera and video lenses that hovered above him."
Get used to it, Ajax, old man. This is the future you've arrived into. Staring blankly into lenses that hover ever about.

ADDED: When your last name sounds like a sanitary napkin, why not have a first name that sounds like scouring powder? The dirty and the clean! And it's all commercial.

"The Steve Jobs' iPod Autopsy: Apple Innovator Stuck in the '60s."

Says Spin:
"His iPod selections were those of a kid from the '70s with his heart in the '60s"...

In fact, loaded on his iPod were a total of 21 Dylan albums, including all six volumes of the singer's bootleg series, but no studio recordings more recent than 1989's Oh Mercy, Isaacson writes. The artists appearing next most frequently on Jobs' iPod were the Beatles, with songs from seven of their albums, followed by the Rolling Stones, with six albums. Others making the cut: Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Buddy Holly, Buffalo Springfield, Don McLean, Donovan, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, John Mellencamp, and Simon and Garfunkel, plus the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" and Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs' "Wooly Bully."
What if your iPod contents were splattered across the headlines? Would you be embarrassed?

Police versus Occupy protesters in Oakland.

Lots of photos and video.
At around 9:30 p.m., there was a tense faceoff between protesters and police officers on Broadway at 14th Street. About 100 officers, some appearing to be sheriff’s deputies, stood behind a metal barricade in full riot gear and wearing gas masks, while on the other side people pressed against the barricade, waving peace signs and chanting slogans. A few protesters hurled objects — what looked like water bottles — at the police, while over a loud speaker, officers instructed people to disperse or risk “chemical agents.”
The street-level video looks very chaotic and dramatic. It's pure emotion. Hard for the police to look good from this perspective:

"Education in this country is conducted on the model of a public utility owned by the government."

"It's a government monopoly, full of unionized workers, delivering a government-subsidized product to people who are required by the government to be there."

And — Kevin D. Williamson says — this is what the Occupy [Your City] folks want generally... for health care and so forth. Williamson wants the government out of all of it... including education.

The dog poop trial.

The jury says: not guilty.
“This case wasn’t about whether I picked up after Baxter. It was about two women who wanted to harass me,” a teary [Kimberly] Zakrzewski...

The enmity between Zakrzewski and the Cornell sisters was palpable. All three testified that they had feuded for years and felt unsafe in one another’s presence. Police were regularly called to their building over accusations of slashed tires, damaged doormats and more.
Cat fight about dog poop.
“Is that consistent with the stool Baxter creates?” Zakrzewski’s attorney, Kosa So, asked [Michelle Berman, Baxter’s owner], presenting a photograph that the defense had submitted as evidence.
Creates. I love that.
Berman glanced over and answered definitively: “I’ve never seen something that big come out of my little dog.”
The defense was lucky the photo was a closeup. Shit looks huge in a closeup.

At the Apple Café...



... sometimes an apple is really an apple.

"Readers can expect to learn more about some the world's craziest and nastiest animals."

"The animals in the book are all fabulously unusual in some way; my book sheds light on these creatures. Expect to be terrified of nature, yet in awe at the same time. And oh, laughs galore--apparently, my talent for wildlife narration has translated well to the printed page, love!"

"The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger"
is so inherently YouTube that it's hard to figure out how Randall will work as a book. Do you read it out loud in that voice?

But think about how bookselling works these days. The book is a media event, an occasion for appearances on various radio and TV shows. Remember, book is also a verb. And who wouldn't want to book Randall? And therefore it makes commercial sense to publish Randall's book, even if all people really want is to watch hisYouTube videos.

"Are Law Schools and Bar Exams Necessary?"

A NYT op-ed by the Brookings Institution economist Clifford Winston, an economist and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. (His book is “First Thing We Do, Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers.”)
Rather than improving quality, the barriers to entry exist simply to protect lawyers from competition with non-lawyers and firms that are not lawyer-owned — competition that could reduce legal costs and give the public greater access to legal assistance.

In fact, the existing legal licensing system doesn’t even do a great job at protecting clients from exploitation. In 2009, the state disciplinary agencies that cover the roughly one million lawyers practicing in the United States received more than 125,000 complaints, according to an A.B.A. survey. But only 800 of those complaints — a mere 0.6 percent — resulted in disbarment.

What if the barriers to entry were simply done away with?
By the way, if you want to become a lawyer without taking the bar exam, go to the University of Wisconsin Law School (or Marquette)... and stay in Wisconsin

"At the root of the reality distortion was Jobs’s belief that the rules didn’t apply to him."

"He had some evidence for this; in his childhood, he had often been able to bend reality to his desires. Rebelliousness and willfulness were ingrained in his character. He had the sense that he was special, a chosen one, an enlightened one. 'He thinks there are a few people who are special — people like Einstein and Gandhi and the gurus he met in India — and he’s one of them,' said [Andy] Hertzfeld. 'He told Chrisann this. Once he even hinted to me that he was enlightened. It’s almost like Nietzsche.' Jobs never studied Nietzsche, but the philosopher’s concept of the will to power and the special nature of the Überman came naturally to him. As Nietzsche wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 'The spirit now wills his own will, and he who had been lost to the world now conquers the world.' If reality did not comport with his will, he would ignore it, as he had done with the birth of his daughter and would do years later, when first diagnosed with cancer. Even in small everyday rebellions, such as not putting a license plate on his car and parking it in handicapped spaces, he acted as if he were not subject to the strictures around him."

A paragraph from Walter Isaacson's fabulous biography "Steve Jobs." I'm reading it and loving it. I'll share some more stuff as I go along.

I'd give you a page cite, but I'm reading it in the Kindle (the app, on iPad) so I can only give you "Kindle location 2242-2251." Is that how we will do cites in the future?

"I don’t know whose bright idea is was to send Romney to Ohio, have him rally the troops at a call center..."

"... and then refuse to support the policy they’re fighting for, but one thing appears certain: this unforced error is going to leave a mark."

That's the thing. It's good for Romney to stand aloof from Ohio's overheated collective bargaining mess, especially if the side he'd have to take is about to acquire the stink of losing. But do that standing somewhere where aloofness looks prettier.

UPDATE: Romney clarifies:
"I fully support Gov. Kasich's Question 2 in Ohio... I'm sorry if I created any confusion there."
He claims he was being careful not to seem to be saying anything about some other issues also on the ballot which he wasn't familiar with.

SNL's Darrell Hammond "was a victim of systematic and lengthy brutality."

"My mom did some things which have cost me dearly."
The actor is well known as the funnyman who graced "SNL" to spoof celebrities like Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Sean Connery. He said there was a darker side that played out in his life, before he became known for those roles, and then later on, backstage before he went out to perform....
Hammond says he was medicated almost all of the time he performed on "SNL" each week, but that wasn't all that was happening behind the stage doors.

"There was cutting backstage," he said, adding that one time, he was taken from the studio to a psychiatric ward because of his actions. "In fact, the week that I did the Gore debates, I believe I was taken away in a straitjacket."
Here's an older clip of Hammond explaining how he worked out his impersonations of Bill Clinton and Al Gore and how he thought in terms of color, for example, picturing both Ted Koppel and Dick Cheney as — for some inexplicable reason — "plush blue." (Like this?)

October 25, 2011

NYT "Frugal Traveler" comes to Madison.

Concentrates on biking, eating burgers, and drinking Wisconsin beer (including Leinenkugel). Following some rule of frugal traveling, he stays in the outlying town of MacFarland, and then has to bike 10 miles to get back to his room at night — after tanking up with beer. I don't quite get that. He went to some of my favorite places — Olbrich Gardens, Picnic Point, the Capitol building. But he doesn't seem to notice any protesting. In fact, there's nothing about politics at all!

At the Sunset Café...



... I hope you had a beautiful day. Beautiful or not though... tell us about it.

"New Tricks for Old Malls... Gun Ranges, Aquariums, Go-Carts."

The WSJ reports:
Jin Dong, the manager of a Mattress Giant store that shares a wall with the Arms Room, is one of the gun range's happy neighbors. "People do come in here with guns, and that's kind of weird. But they have brought a lot of traffic. It's way better than nothing," he said. "I'll tell you one thing, I don't have to worry about getting robbed, that's for sure."

"I think you need to have a tax system that basically is flat, fair and simple."

"And that you can put on a postcard. Americans, I hope, aspire to be wealthy."

Rick Perry, answering — in the affirmative — the question whether he's against a progressive tax system.

2-week-old baby rescued from collapsed building 2 days after the earthquake.

In Turkey. The baby, Azra Karaduman, was held in the arms of her mother, Semiha, who also survived. The mother was "pinned down next to a sofa," and freed 2 hours later. Imagine the relief you would feel, even while still trapped, to know that the baby was finally getting help beyond the heroic 2-day help you were able to give, by simply holding her.

(Video of the baby at the link.)

"If your spiritual life, which is a serious responsibility, and your intellectual life is a serious responsibility, why is it that if we assume you can have free decisions there..."

"... why shouldn’t you have free decisions on what you eat, drink, smoke and put into your own body?"

"Bizarre denial" from the NYT? It depends on what the meaning of "fringe" is.

In the Twittersphere, James Taranto caught Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of the NYT, taking a shot at Herman Cain, saying "McCain was fringe. Cain is fringe."
We tweeted back: "Says the editor whose page endorsed him [McCain] in the Republican primary." Which prompted a surprising reply from Rosenthal: "Was wondering where you were. Might read the editorial. We said he was best of BAD choices. No endorsement."

We did read the editorial, which appeared Jan. 25, 2008. Not only did it appear to us to be an endorsement--albeit a backhanded one--but it contradicted Rosenthal's assertion that "McCain is fringe": "Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe."
"Fringe" is a key word at NYT. Taranto is making a big deal about what counts as endorsement, but the NYT wasn't really endorsing any Republicans over Hillary/Obama in '08. No one was fooled. The only potentially "bizarre" thing here is the fringe/not fringe characterization of McCain.

And even that isn't bizarre, since it's all a matter of perspective. What is the "fringe"? It depends on what you're looking at. If you're the NYT, looking only at the group of Republican candidates in 2008, everyone but McCain is way out there on the fringe. But if you're the NYT looking at a collection of Republicans and Democrats, all the Republicans, including McCain, are on the fringe.

Everything is utterly what you'd expect and not at all bizarre.

#1.

Lawprof blog rankings.

(Blogs without Site Meter aren't counted. That's why there's no Instapundit. Otherwise, Instapundit would be #1 by a wide margin.)

"Eat debt, screw you, Occupy UW" — the student debt wing of the Occupy [Your City] movement.

That was the chant yesterday as 20 students marched from Union South to the Memorial Union, here at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. 20 isn't very much, but it was Monday morning, that is, it was half past noon in a city where weekends are (perhaps) grueling (that Hail Mary pass!). 20 students when you expect — what? — 100. That's rough.

It reminded me of the old anti-war slogan: "Suppose they gave a war and no one came?” The phrase was used in the 1968 Monkees song "Zor and Zam," and their video of the song looks something like the protest marches I've seen in Madison this year.



Why aren't students more interested in protesting about student problems?
UW freshman Noah Phillips, who led the march, said it is difficult for most to attain a college degree without enormous debt in the current economic climate.
Students are in a difficult bind. If you're hyper-aware of this problem and you're still here in school, racking up the debt, do you march around with signs or do you get much more serious and study as hard as you can? That is, do you visualize your plight as a something that aligns you with others and put your efforts into seeking political and social change, or do you get fired up about your individual cause and do what you can to win in what looks like a very tough fight for economic gain? (Or do you just drag on, avoiding politics and taking your studies and your career one step at a time, and hope for the best?)
Associated Students of Madison member Justin Bloesch said "What we were told … is that if we work hard, if we stay honest, if we shine by our merit then this society will take care of us; that's the American Dream"...
Who told you that? This society will take care of you? Shine by your merit? How did the "American Dream" evolve into that message?
"But if that's ever how the game worked, that's not how it works now."
Well, it's not really how the "game" ever worked. Bloesch seems to be thinking about those public-school games where everybody wins: if you play and don't cheat, you are a winner.
Phillips said the movement, which recruited demonstrators via Facebook, hopes to build student participation in upcoming weeks by passing out flyers and speaking in lectures....
You might not even win at protesting. Even if you follow the rules of organizing: Facebook page, check... build momentum...
Once participation is higher, Phillips said the movement can take larger actions such as "occupying a building" or forming a teach in.
Occupying a building... that really does sound like 1968.

October 24, 2011

Sunset on the Ice Age Trail.







This evening. Stills by me, video by Meade.

"Is America built on a lie?"

That's #1 on the "Most Popular" list at bbc.com. The actual title of the article when you click on it is: "Is the US Declaration of Independence illegal?"
[A debate in Philadelphia], presented by the Temple American Inn of Court in conjunction with Gray's Inn, London, pitted British barristers against American lawyers to determine whether or not the American colonists had legal grounds to declare secession.

For American lawyers, the answer is simple: "The English had used their own Declaration of Rights to depose James II and these acts were deemed completely lawful and justified," they say in their summary.

To the British, however, secession isn't the legal or proper tool by which to settle internal disputes. "What if Texas decided today it wanted to secede from the Union? Lincoln made the case against secession and he was right," they argue in their brief.
That's all very interesting and relatively sedate compared to: Is America built on a lie?

"Gov. Scott Walker has launched a new website touting the results of changes he pushed this year...

"... including his proposal taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most state workers.The website launched Monday comes less than a month before his opponents say they will start a petition drive to force a recall election next year. Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate accuses Walker of using taxpayer money to launch what he calls a campaign website."

Reports Channel3000.

Here's the website.

"The Constitutional Right to Insult Your Neighbors With Tombstone Displays."

Just one section of an article — PDF — in the New York State Bar Association Journal about Halloween-related lawsuits. (Via ABAJournal.)
The tombstones referenced the petitioning neighbors by name, and each contained a date of death based on that neighbor’s address. For example, one tombstone referencing a neighbor named Betty Gargarz stated:

142 legal secretaries surveyed and not one preferred working with a woman partner.

Why? Lawprof Felice Batlan elicited these comments:
• “Females are harder on their female assistants, more detail oriented, and they have to try harder to prove themselves, so they put that on you. And they are passive aggressive where a guy will just tell you the task and not get emotionally involved and make it personal.”

• “I just feel that men are a little more flexible and less emotional than women. This could be because the female partners feel more pressure to perform.”

• “Female attorneys have a tendency to downgrade a legal secretary.”

• “I am a female legal secretary, but I avoid working for women because [they are] such a pain in the ass! They are too emotional and demeaning.”

• “Female attorneys are either mean because they're trying to be like their male counterparts or too nice/too emotional because they can't handle the stress. Either way, their attitude/lack of maturity somehow involves you being a punching bag.”

• Women lawyers have “an air about them.”
The most obvious theme there is: emotion. It's the old: Women are more emotional. A secondary theme is: Women display the effects of the discrimination they've experienced. It's a complex mix, apparently.

Obviously, the secretaries' perspectives are subjective, and they themselves are women (95% of those surveyed were) so whatever is true of women — they're emotional/they're victims of discrimination — would, presumably, also be true of them.

"Why Do Southerners Call Mormonism a Cult?"

There's some history to it.

"The Pentagon already includes unmanned drone attacks in its arsenal."

"Next up: housefly-sized surveillance craft, shape-changing 'chemical robots,' and tracking agents sprayed from the sky."

The future of war.

"When I got the part, I thought, 'Dear God,' because she sings, 'island of tropic diseases'..."

"... and I thought, 'I can't say that about my beautiful little island'... island of tropic diseases? Whew!"

Rita Moreno won an Oscar for playing Anita in "West Side Story," but she felt bad about having to trash Puerto Rico — you ugly island.
There were other issues, too. Co-directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins wanted a big contrast between the warring gangs, the Sharks and the Jets.

"So the white kids had to have their hair bleached and have extra-pale makeup," Moreno recalls, "and we had to wear all one-color makeup, almost the color of mud — and it felt like it. We all had to have accents — many of us who were Hispanic did not have them. I asked the makeup artist, 'Why do we have to be one color? Because Hispanics are many different colors.'"....

During the filming of West Side Story, she created her own Puerto Rican character with an amusing, exaggerated accent: Googie Gomez. "One day I hiccupped her," Moreno says, before singing, a la Googie: "'I had a drean, a drean about chu, bebe.'"
Here that is on YouTube, from "The Ritz," which as a Broadway show won Rita Moreno a Tony. Of course, Moreno had to fight off the accusations that she herself, with this Googie Gomez character, was trading in offensive ethnic stereotypes. Her answer seems to be: No, because it was so funny and because it was an exaggeration of a particular type of person that people recognize. Make sure you understand how to distinguish and an actual offensive ethnic stereotypes.

Wikileaks stops leaking.

Out of money, due to "what the group called a blockade by US-based finance companies."

"I have 17 kills throughout the Northeast United States."

"Perfect victims and well executed, controlled endeavors."

Lacking in "commitment and control" was the partner in murder he found after he "searched my whole life for someone who could embrace and had the capacity for evil as I possess."

"Taxation is theft when you take money from one group to give it to another, when you transfer the wealth."

"Now, taxation could be accomplished with user fees and, you know, highway fees and gasoline taxes and import taxes. But the income tax is based on the assumption that the government owns you, owns all of your income and provides the conditions on which they allow you to keep a certain percentage. That, to me, is immoral, and the founders didn't like it. That's why the Constitution had to be amended in 1913."

Said Ron Paul on "Meet the Press."

In case you're wondering what David Gregory — NBC's Tim Russert replacement — did with that rich, ripe material: He did nothing, just read his next question on the next topic.

Ron Paul, interviewed by William F. Buckley in 1988.



"The libertarian movement has come of age. We've been around for 15 years, and I think we're going to have a real impact...."

Via a reader who wanted me to know — after this — that Ron Paul's eyebrows are real.

And, by the way, I liked Ron Paul on yesterday's Meet the Press.

"Musician suing for age bias says his 88-year-old judge is too old to preside..."

Violinist Martin Stoner knows "it sounds kind of like hypocrisy," but Judge Robert Patterson is, he says, "slow-witted and unable to function." The federal judge is 88. Stoner, who is 60, is suing the Young Concert Artist for excluding him from a their competition which is for... young concert artists (apparently capped at age 20).
Patterson refused to comment, but his defenders claim he's sharp as a tack. When another judge fell ill two years ago, Patterson stepped in midtrial, ripped through a 2,282-page legal transcript in a single weekend and handled the case with aplomb, Manhattan Federal Court Chief Judge Loretta Preska told the New York Law Journal.
Stoner — are you surprised to hear? — is representing himself in this lawsuit.

October 23, 2011

At the Roadside Café...



... there's room for everyone.

"Realistic portraits of the women of animated Disney films."

A Metafilter post with comments like: "I've never seen Hercules. Does Megara look that drunk and horny in the movie?"

And: "See these Disney characters? See how they are really gorgeous and skinny but they're animated? Imagine what they'd look like if they were gorgeous and skinny and looked like very highly photoshopped people instead of cartoons!"

3 views of the new museum.







It's the new addition to the Chazen Museum on the University of Wisconsin—Madison campus. The glass sculpture in the case is "Large E. coli," by Luke Jerram.

"A Very Simple Venn Diagram of Where the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Agree."



Blogged by Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic back on October 14th (so I don't know why my attention hasn't been directed at this before (Is it too obvious? The obviousness is what I love about it)).

"And then while your girl goes to the ladies', you go out front to smoke a cigarette..."

"... and on the way back you ask your waitress — the one with the tattoo of the meat cleaver on her grass-fed bicep — if she wants to go to a steakhouse on her night off."

A fine last sentence to an essay by Tom Junod called "The Death of the Entrée," published in the "Eat Like a Man" section of Esquire.

Madonna's homeless brother.

Reason's Hit & Run takes the opportunity to attack the big pop star:
For the Material Girl, charity, apparently, does not begin at home. Born and raised in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna gave $135,600 in campaign donations to Democrats last year. And two years ago she contributed $11 million of her own money toward Raising Malawi, an elite academy she founded for impoverished girls in Malawi. The academy was abandoned this year after $3.8 million was spent without a brick ever being laid.
It's one thing to spend on a charity — and Madonna seems to have a problem getting that right — and another to hand out money to individual friends and family. What is the whole story here? What problems led to this man's downfall? I see that he was fired from a job in his father's vineyard and winery. I know, it seems so easy to punch Madonna around, but we're talking about a 50-year-old man. There's a long history to his predicament, and we don't know what it is.

Madonna should probably...
Set up a trust to give her brother at least a modest home.
Set up that trust, unless his past behavior was truly heinous.
Set up that trust and give large sums to charities helping the homeless.
Leave him in the gutter where he belongs, since that's where he is, and spend on whatever she likes.
  
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There's no music in the politics... and no politics in the music.

Ziggy Marley bemoans the separation of politics and music.
“In the ’60s and ’70s, there was plenty of music for peaceful revolutions,” Marley said. “Where are these songs now? Who is writing them? From Occupy Wall Street to revolution in Egypt, I wonder where the music is.”...
And as for the music these days:
“I use the analogy of circus with music,” he said. “You have clowns, tightrope walkers, the man that puts his head in the lion’s mouth. But now the circus is all clowns trying to keep us laughing. The tightrope walker is still in the back, but no one’s watching him. People just want entertainment. There’s more to music than entertainment.”
Funny to think of the music without politics as a circus that's all clowns. I tend to think of politics as the clowns. If music came into our politics, it would bring more gravity, not more foolery. That's what I think. I keep seeing commentary saying the Occupy [Your City] movement needs its Bob Dylan, but if you think he would entertain and encourage you — ease you and cool you and cease the pain — you don't know your Bob Dylan. To point out the obvious:
You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you

"Babe Ruth, twice. Reggie Jackson. Albert Pujols."

"That is the complete list of players with three home runs in a World Series game."

"It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision."

"If that is your view, you are not pro-life, you are pro-having your cake and eating it too."

Said Rick Perry at last night's GOP candidate forum in Iowa. It's a well-crafted line, intended — I presume — to trip up Herman Cain, who just a few days ago delivered up precisely that "canard." He's walking (waddling?) back from the canard, but — as Rick Perry also said last night — "Being pro-life is not a matter of campaign convenience; it is a core conviction."