January 14, 2012

Hilarious hypocrisy.

Is she playing along... or is it really as hilariously hypocritical as it looks?

Pictures of Austin, Texas.

Bicycle wheel chandelier at the Bouldin Creek Café:


Masculine fashions:


In the Spider House Café:


On Lady Bird Lake, a monument to the homeless...


... and a monument to Stevie Ray Vaughan (who died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin):


Barton Springs:


Reflection in the Japanese garden:


At the Cherrywood Coffeehouse... outside....


... and inside:


"Oh, yes! There is a gossamer of a story line — the heroine’s all-engrossing search for sexual gratification..."

"... and when all sexual endeavors fail to gratify, her unique problem is successfully diagnosed to exist in her throat... The alleged story lines are the facade, the sheer negligee through which clearly shines the producer’s and the defendant’s true and only purpose, that is, the presentation of unmistakably hard-core pornography."

Wrote Judge Joel J. Tyler, finding "Deep Throat" obscene in 1973. The judge has died at the age of 90.

"I have always been scared of those boats, but my girlfriend kept on saying that it was romantic, and I gave in."

"There were not enough lifeboats. The pilots were not sailors but waiters who had no idea how to maneuver and kept on having us turning in circles. It was the first and certainly the last cruise of my life."

Have you ever given in and — against your better instincts — gotten on a cruise ship? I haven't. But I have read "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" — PDF — perhaps the most amusing essay I've ever read. Apparently, it's all quite awful even when it's not some "Titanic"/"Poseidon Adventure" experience.

"Shame on NPR for reporting only the money Walker is receiving..."

"... and not even mentioning the millions coming from labor unions from outside the state."

(I'm quoting the 5th commenter on here.)

At the Teacup Café...


... it's a coffee tea house, that is, a completely open thread.

This blog is 8 years old today.

It was back on January 14, 2004 that I crossed the line into the blogosphere. (That's what we called it then, the blogosphere.) After posting every single day — absolutely never even one day away — I'm still having a grand time.

I'm delighted to still be here and able to type out the letters: Thanks for reading!

January 13, 2012

At the Dragon Café...


... things won't last forever.

"Actually, Patron X said he had no idea he was the culprit."

"He said his company replaced his BlackBerry with an iPhone the day before the concert. He said he made sure to turn it off before the concert, not realizing that the alarm clock had accidentally been set and would sound even if the phone was in silent mode."
“I didn’t even know phones came with alarms,” the man said.

He's from Massachusetts... and he speaks French!

"... just like John Kerry..."

"Laissez les bon temps rouler"/"Bonjour, je m'appelle Mitt Romney."

"Let Bee Fly Out of Car Window."


Advice from an old newspaper. I'll leave it to you to guess how old this is.

ADDED: More clues on this page:


"I'm delighted to announce the launch of HuffPost Good News..."

"... a new section that will shine a much-needed spotlight on what's inspiring, what's positive, what's working -- and what's missing from what most of the media chooses to cover."

How perfectly insipid. It's like Martha Stewart, but for news. Is it bad of me to feel like this is meant to work as news for women? Relatedly, my father used to insist that the news should be entirely about people who died. Dying being such a profoundly important matter. As long as anyone has died — and there's never a day when no one dies (if there was, would we notice?) — that's what the news should focus on. I tried to say, but wouldn't that be monotonous? It's banal, isn't it? Why not report that people are breathing? The real question is: What are people doing that's different and important now, not who did something in the past that makes it seem significant that he has now died? It's that thing, that for the newly dead makes us care that he has now died, that we should be learning about now. No, whatever that thing was, death is bigger. Death is the news. The news for men.

AND: Here's HuffPo's news for men: Weird News.

"Giraffes Drawn By People Who Should Not Be Drawing Giraffes."

A website. (Via Metafilter.)

What kind of sale?!

Oh... that explains it.
Super Happy Awesome also discovered the real reason why there was a "fuckin sale" in the first place. Apparently fuckin is an unfortunate pun on fukubukuro — "lucky bags." It's a New Years tradition for Japanese retailers to put their overstock from last year into big grab bags and sell them at a discount....

"The movie pejoratively claims that the 'Bain Way' was shorthand for being able to 'turn the misfortunes of others into their enormous financial gains.'"

"Bain Capital was actually an offshoot of Bain & Company, a consulting firm, and the 'Bain Way' refers to its heavily analytical and data-driven approach to problems."

More here:
Bain didn’t make “people lose their jobs;” on the contrary, it created all of the jobs in Gaffney that [Rick] Perry is talking about. It would have been good if the jobs had lasted more than four years, but there was obviously a net benefit of four years’ work to the employees.

"Most of Apple’s $82 billion cash stockpile is ‘trapped’ overseas."

"Which means [it's] not available to create jobs."

"I feel like my own little Barbie doll — I get to dress myself up."

The enthusiasm of the post-fat Jennifer Hudson.

Question what she'll say about that I'm-my-own-Barbie comment if/when she refattens. Barbie oppressed her?

"The defendants insisted on representing themselves; no one cross-examined witnesses on their behalf."

"When Clark appeared in court to make a closing argument, she merely confirmed her guilt. 'Revolutionary violence is necessary, and it is a liberating force," she told the jury."

"He would rather have the poor poorer, provided that the rich were less rich. That is the Liberal policy."

We were talking about income disparity and income mobility yesterday, and somebody remembered this memorable clip. I want you to have it in your memory bank too.

January 12, 2012

A minute-by-minute summary of "King of Bain."

A helpful guide... in case you're thinking of watching the big anti-Mitt video.

Imagine traveling all the way from Madison, Wisconsin to Austin, Texas only to run into an anti-Scott Walker rally.

No, I don't think the Governor is stalking me. He seems to be in town to give a talk to conservatives. We caught up with the tail-end of the protest. We heard that some of them tried to make their way into the Hilton so they could "mic check" Walker. They were stopped by security, but Meade and I were told maybe we could get in — they presumed we'd go in for some "mic checking" — because we looked "casual." Casual? Is that some new slang that means non-protester-y?


"Learn how to LOVE... or get the FUCK OUT." Oh... okay. I'm still working on that love thing you're teaching. Let me try to take a lesson: Fuck you! There. Loving enough?

Too much -pie: 3 Occupies in 6 days.

Occupy Lincoln, Occupy Denver, and Occupy Austin... experienced in less than a week.

The last couple seconds — which are not part of the protest — show something Meade and I call "an army of Jeremys."

The left blogosphere freaks out over its own inability to distinguish between hard to believe and falsifiable.

It's all pretty much summarized here:
New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane asked this morning “whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”
As was, I think, obvious to any calm, careful, competent reader, Brisbane was wondering about repeating assertions that politicians (and others) make about their thoughts and motivations, matters about which they have sole access. What can the reporter do? Insinuate disbelief? Pummel the newsmaker with pointless "Oh, really? Are you sure?"-type questions?

But left-wing bloggers acted like Brisbane had asked the head-slappingly stupid question "Should reporters care about truth?"

Brisbane sort of asked for it by writing "'facts'" — so I half-suspect he was setting a trap for the unwary. I'd like to ask him if he was trying to trick bloggers into paying attention to him. He'd probably say "Of course not. I was genuinely interested in what reporters should do about this pesky, recurrent problem." And then what would I say: "Oh, really? Are you sure?"?

Purple angles.


A found spotlight.

"Smokin' the Competition."


(Somewhere in the middle of Texas.)

"Sure, it's tiny."

"But is it the tiniest?"

66% of Americans think there's a conflict between rich and poor.

Pew: "Not only have perceptions of class conflict grown more prevalent; so, too, has the belief that these disputes are intense."

"A newly discovered hormone produced in response to exercise may be turning people’s white fat brown..."

"... Brown fat, as many of us have heard, is physiologically desirable. While white fat cells are essentially inert storehouses for fat, brown fat cells are metabolically active. They use oxygen and require energy. They burn calories."

This study confirms what the experts— and many promoters of the healthy-looking lifestyle — dearly want to believe. I'm skeptical.

"This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms."

"We expressly ask the US government to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime." — Hamid Karzai.

"Women, more than men, are staying out of the work force to pursue higher education."

"When the economy improves, will this education gap break the glass ceiling? Or will men still be better off because they were gaining work experience while women were taking on student loan debt?"

What are the women studying? What are the men working at? I suspect the higher-ed/no higher-ed distinction is the wrong distinction.

Kos's blatant use of the shooting metaphor that we weren't supposed to use anymore.

"MD-04: Donna Edwards wins primary without a single shot fired."

It's only a few days after the anniversary of the Tucson shootings, after which Sarah Palin was pilloried for using a target symbol on a campaign map.

You say it's your birthday?

It's my birthday too!

January 11, 2012


Our pool...


Their pool...




"The Supreme Court ruled for the first time Wednesday that federal discrimination laws do not protect employees of religious organizations who perform 'ministerial' duties."

"The court ruled unanimously that the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion dictates the organizations 'be free to choose those who will guide it on its way.'"
The case involved a Michigan schoolteacher who said Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church violated the Americans with Disability Act in 2005 when it fired her after she tried to return to work after being diagnosed with narcolepsy.

"There are also aspects of her that make me think of spirited Katharine Hepburn in Holiday, elegant Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca..."

"... wise and proud Greer Garson in The Valley of Decision, and adventurous Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Michelle Obama is not any of these characters, of course, but bears traces of the universal characteristics these women brought to life."
She ranks with the iconic and trailblazing Ruby Dee, Lena Horne and Suzette Harbin because she is a woman who simply knows how to be.

"To help prevent overtesting and overtreatment of older patients — or undertreatment for those who remain robust at advanced ages..."

"... medical guidelines increasingly call for doctors to consider life expectancy as a factor in their decision-making. But clinicians, research has shown, are notoriously poor at predicting how many years their patients have left."

So, let a website figure it out: ePrognosis.

As Bette Davis once said: "I think I'll have a large order of prognosis negative!"


"Oh, Ann. Don't be sorry. About anything."

If you could corner Scott Walker at a party and had a chance to tell him what he needs to understand...

... what would you say to him?

"If You Pay For Cable, You're A Hostage Of Sports."

"Pay up for sports, or you don't get anything else you might want to watch on cable, un-live."

Aren't people who watch sports the main customers for cable TV, what with Netflix and the internet and so forth? The linked NPR article is trying to generate outrage about cable TV, but it seems to me that cable TV is obsolescent. And I say that as someone who pays $200 a month for cable TV.
Understand: ESPN is an entirely different programming animal than, say, CBS, which dominates prime time –– or A&E, or HBO, or Showtime — on cable. Those networks must create programming.

ESPN and the other sports networks are essentially just brokers. They take your subscription money, buy games and then "bring them" to you, pocketing a nice broker's fee. And because games are live, advertisers love it, because you can't fast-forward their commercials. And, hey, you only need to go to the bathroom so many times.

It's a great business model, taxing American households.
Well, our cable works with a box that lets us record while watching the show live. And we, in fact, do fast-forward through the commercials! If you don't understand how to watch live and still fast-forward commercials, you don't have the remote-control skills we do. It's not that hard. Let the live recording get a little ahead of where you're watching, so you'll be able to skip ahead. If you "catch up to live," do some more pausing/replays. That's what I do. I only watch commercials if I think they look amusing, which they are from time to time.

"On social issues, Romney embraces all of the right’s litmus tests."

Writes Katrina vanden Heuvel in The Nation:
He pledges to repeal President Obama’s health-care reform, even though it was modeled on the plan Romney signed as Massachusetts governor.
Obamacare is a "social issue"? Am I a right-winger if I think it's an economic issue?
He favors repealing Roe v. Wade, outlawing women’s right to choose.
You don't "repeal" a Supreme Court case. You get it overturned. And a "right" can't be "outlawed." The Court would need to decide that the right doesn't exist as a matter of constitutional law, and then there would need to be a statute "outlawing," not the right, but the procedure. There's something highly spurious about the way vanden Heuvel writes about these things.
... Advised on legal matters by the reactionary crank Robert Bork, he repeatedly calls for more judges in the activist right-wing tradition of the gang of four—Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito.
Bork is advising Romney? Okay, I learned something here. I had not noticed that before. Whatever Bork is doing, Romney must at least intend to send the message that he's planning to appoint Scalia/Thomas/Roberts/Alito-type judges. I have no idea whether that means he will, but I certainly understand why he wants to send that message.

"If Newt Is Perot..."

"... then Romney should avoid being Bush."

Nothin' Butt Smokes!


Light up, and settle in.

(Photo from a small town in Texas.)

January 10, 2012

Listening to the results of the New Hampshire primary....

... on the satellite radio of a car in the heart of Texas.

At the Sweetwater Café...


... on a Tuesday...


"It felt really good to get even a little bit of revenge for the Rose Bowl..."

"... because obviously that was a tough time for us as Badgers."

Former Badger, current Texan, J.J. Watt takes some satisfaction in what was the completion of a football narrative arc, when, in the playoffs, he intercepted a pass thrown by Andy Dalton, the current Bengal, former Horned Frog.

CNN loves Huntsman! Huntsman! Huntsman!

I'm sitting in a hotel lobby where — beyond my control — CNN has been playing. I've been here for over an hour, and I'm reading and writing, trying not to be distracted by CNN, which is mostly covering the New Hampshire primary.

So the post title is just an impression.

"Someday William Daley may tell the world what went wrong during his short, unhappy tenure as White House chief of staff..."

"... but even now it's safe to say it was a lost year for him—and the country."

"[Y]ou have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable."

"If you believe in the centrality of family..."


NYU student emails her outrage about being forced to do an ethnography of Occupy Wall Street...

... and now it's in the news, which is full of insinuations about her mental health.

More — including all the email — here:
Sara Ackerman’s beef with NYU started over an assignment that involved going down to Zuccotti Park and writing an ethnography on the Occupy Wall Street protestors. Sara says she refused to go down because of ethical disagreements and concerns about “the criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill people” that were there. She requested an alternative assignment, but wasn’t granted one by CAS Dean Kalb until, she had already gone down to OWS “with two other young girls, who are quite attractive and thin, and don’t look particularly physically fit enough to take on a potential predator, rapist, paranoid schizophrenic, etc” and felt like she “escaped an extremely dangerous — and even, life threatening — situation.”
IN THE COMMENTS: Jay said...
Ackerman sent seven very long e-mails and a total of 4,000 words to everyone in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis

Gee, what could go wrong?
Here's an idea for an "alternative assignment": do a "social and cultural analysis" of the 4,000 words of email. If we're doing "ethnography," step back and see the larger picture of the 5-foot-1-inch, 105-pound female forced by her elders into a rough city milieu. She's an interesting object of ethnography as she resists being an ethnographer to people she feels intimidated by. And whatever happened to feminist analysis? There is formal equality when all students receive the same assignment, but in a more subtle understanding of equality, there is discrimination against tiny women.

A Slate resident feminist hears Gov. Christie talking about oral sex when he's obviously not.

What a joke! Christie — responding to hecklers who used the words "going down" in connection with jobs — said: "You know, something may be going down tonight, but it ain’t going to be jobs, sweetheart." Torie Bosch calls this "an offensive oral sex joke" and acts amazed that Christie put video of it on his YouTube site as if he were "proud" of it "rather than recognizing it as flagrantly demeaning, even misogynistic."

Now, obviously, the words "going down" mean happening, especially when the subject of the verb isn't a person and when there's no object preceded by the word "on." That is, to refer to oral sex, he would have something closer to "somebody's going down on something tonight." Moreover, if one were inclined to make an oral sex joke when the word "jobs" is already in the mix, you'd jape about "jobs." Going down? Oh, there will be some going down tonight, and there will be jobs, maybe not the kind of jobs you want, but there will be jobs.

If Christie wanted to make a blow-job joke, he'd make a much better blow-job joke. The joke here is Bosch. If Bosch were not already a joke at this point, it would be easy to make a joke about Bosch. Wordplay is easy when your name means "nonsense."

But it's not enough here to say Bosch is an idiot or that Bosch's idiocy exemplifies the pathetic present-day feminist web-writers and impugns the entire enterprise of feminism — which has been and should be noble.

It's not enough, because Bosch has infected the internet with a meme, and it's powerfully viral. There will be many, many people now who will get the idea that Chris Christie is a sexist. They just know — they feel — he's an immense misogynist. He's got misogyny on him — and like a blue dress kept in the back of the closet, that stain isn't going to get washed out any time soon.

Bosch has propagated the lie, and her liberal allies — who would love to destroy a rising conservative star — are hard at work spreading it. And I do mean hard at work. These slimy little dweebs who write at places I won't link to, but whom you can find by clicking on that last link, get obscenely excited at the prospect of wrecking a righty.

January 9, 2012

Comanche Grasslands sunset.


The lawsuit against the University of Iowa College of Law for rejecting a conservative applicant for a lawprof job.

The applicant, Teresa R. Wagner, was active in the Right to Life cause, and the associate law school dean is caught in writing saying "Frankly, one thing that worries me is that some people may be opposed to Teresa serving in any role in part at least because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it)."

In the NYT, Adam Liptak calls attention to the dissonance conservatives ought to feel about litigation:
“I have serious misgivings about asking the courts to fix this through lawsuits,” [Walter Olson, a fellow at the Cato Institute, said]. “It threatens to intrude on collegiality, empower some with sharp elbows to sue their way into faculty jobs, invite judges into making subjective calls of their own which may reflect their assumptions and biases, all while costing a lot of money and grief.”

“At the same time,” he added, “there’s a karma factor here. Law faculties at Iowa and elsewhere have been enthusiastic advocates of wider liability for other employers that get sued. They’re not really going to ask for an exemption for themselves, are they?”

"Kantor nails her story... and casts it all in the stock lexicon of D.C. confrontations: Gibbs 'shook with rage' and soon 'stormed out.'"

Writes David Remnick:
The rest of the group “sat stunned.” The conflict, the profanity, the yelling: it’s the sort of vivid, if ultimately meaningless, detail that provides books like “Renegade,” “Game Change,” and, now, “The Obamas” with their lurid and irresistible zing. Such books regard more earnest matters like history, context, and ideas the way a child looks at a plate of Brussels sprouts. They aim to serve up big bowls of ice cream. And, no matter what Michelle Obama counsels, we political gluttons will lick the spoon clean.
Indeed, Remnick can't resist copying out a dialogue between Robert Gibbs and Valerie Jarrett that contains 4 "fucks," including "fuck her too!" — "her," being the First Lady. Mmmm. Ice cream! But I've had too much. I'm not interested in dessert.

Santorum's South Carolina stock...

... is falling.

Men and women are really different.

Really. More than previously thought... by experts... who discovered this.

Fighting off the Ice Age...

... with Global Warming.

Madisonians — including Police Chief Noble Wray — fret about the new concealed carry law in action.

Our local liberal rag, the Cap Times, displays and magnifies the worrying for its skittish readers.
What really trips Wray's trigger is the lack of a meaningful training requirement. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen prepared rules requiring four hours of training courses, but fellow Republicans thought even that low bar overly onerous and GOP Gov. Scott Walker agreed. Says Wray, "I thought four hours was a bare minimum," adding that almost all state law enforcement officials agree.
What exactly do you do for 4 hours? It seems as though the point of making it 4 hours was to deter people from exercising their rights. That is, it wasn't really to serve the state's legitimate interest in safety, but for the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of the citizen who chooses to carry a gun. (Do you recognize the italicized words? Google them if you don't, especially if you enjoy irony, the exposure of hypocrisy, and fun stuff like that.)
Madison's concealed gun crowd has to be minuscule, I'd guess. After all, it's hard for me to imagine the biomolecular chemistry professor or the pediatric oncologist yearning to tote a concealed sidearm. So how many are seeking permits in Madison?
I love the smug elitism. Madison people are all professors and doctors. Not even just run-of-the-mill professors and doctors. We're a steaming mass of biomolecular chemistry professors and pediatric oncologists. It's those lowlifes from beyond the gleaming city's limits who want guns. Ugh! These benighted folk want to cling to some guns along with their religion. They don't belong here, just like that fiend Scott Walker and all the Republicans in the legislature don't belong here. They are bringing their what's-the-matter-with-Wisconsin values to our beautiful city!

The author of the Cap Times piece — Paul Fanlund — tries to find out how many Madisonians there are among the the 67,000 who have applied for permits and is surprised to learn that it's illegal to disclose that information. Law-abiding gun owners actually have privacy interests the state wants to protect. What a surprise! But it would be so interesting to know what loathsome, Republican-voting communities they came from. Surely not the teeming-with-physicists-and-oncologists Madison!

Fanlund quotes Chief Wray:
"What I can't understand is how come we have not evolved beyond the point that the best way to protect ourselves is a gun? How come we cannot come up with something that is less destructive and less permanent."
I don't know, Chief. I'm pretty evolved myself, being a Madisonian professor, but I don't know. I do have a question for you though: Why haven't the police — the police you lead — eliminated crime in our neighborhoods? Why are there still rapes and robberies? Why are there still gangs? Why haven't your police evolved to the point where you have solved these problems for us? Because, I know that I, personally, would love to depend on government for all my personal protection. How come you cannot come up with something?

Fabric that works like a touch screen.

The new smart fabric.

Touch it... swipe it.... and... what? What do you want to have happen as a result of touching fabric? I mean stuff that a computer would do for you. The article suggests controlling your car radio by touching the fabric of the car seat or dimming your lights by rubbing your armchair. Who wants that? What are the applications for this? All I could think about is... some kind of sex machine....
Because you can clean it, the material will be practical for everyday use.

"As flames of desire sensuously circle around the tub and weightless bubbles become candy clouds..."

"... I step my bare body into a delicious dream."

(Check out the whole slide show. I don't know if this is funny or sad. I'm definitely nauseated, and I had to check to see if I had a tag for "horrifying." I didn't, and I'm not going to make one for this. I have a threshold of restraint when it comes to creating new tags. But if I'd already had a tag for "horrifying," I'd have added it here. Oddly, I did already have a tag for "bubbles.")

"Record-High 40% of Americans Identify as Independents..."

"... based on more than 20,000 interviews conducted in 20 separate Gallup polls in 2011."

Should the "digital project" replace dissertations in PhD programs?

Inside Higher Education examines the emerging trend:
Graduate students need to learn "what it means to write for the web, with the web," which is not the same thing, [said Rutgers English prof Richard E. Miller], "as making PDFs of your [print] articles."

Whether departments want it to happen or not, the form of scholarship is going to change, he said. Rather than avoiding that, scholars should consider the ramifications, he said, by redesigning dissertations. "Once you lose the monograph, what’s the future of the long argument?"
There's not much of a future for your English PhDs, monograph or no monograph, and you know it.  ← short argument.

"Santorum... is more of a Catholic than a conservative..."

"... which means he's good on 60 percent of the issues, but bad on others, such as big government social programs. He'd be Ted Kennedy if he didn't believe in God."

Quips Ann Coulter, via  WaPo's "On Faith... Conversation about Religion and Politics."

January 8, 2012

State Capitols, seen on 2 consecutive days.






Broncos defeat the Steelers.

(We're watching — on TV — in Denver.)

ADDED: And Thomas!

AND: Here's the extremely cool sudden-death touchdown.

"Unbeknownst to reporters, the State Dining Room had... been transformed into a secretive White House Wonderland."

According to the new book by Jodi Kantor.
Tim Burton decorated it “in his signature creepy-comic style. His film version was about to be released, and he had turned the room into the Mad Hatter’s tea party...

“Burton’s own Mad Hatter, the actor Johnny Depp, presided over the scene in full costume, standing up on a table to welcome everyone in character.”
The president's aides decided the party would send the wrong message at a time when the Tea Party was on the rise with its message against Washington's excesses and unemployment had risen sharply to ten per cent.

"White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywood-esque party would look to jobless Americans or their representatives in Congress, who would soon vote on health care that the event was not discussed publicly and Burton's and Depp's contributions went unacknowledged...."

"Bungee cord snaps above crocodile-infested waters..."

Erin Langworthy... had to swim with her feet tied together to the Zimbabwe side of the water, and had to free the cord when it got caught on rocks.

At the Rotunda Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

"Rio Bravo" was on TV last night...

... and — I wish I could find the perfect video clip for you — we suddenly realized Walter Brennan ("Stumpy") sounded like Ron Paul.

"He added that the employee responsible for the receipt was a teen — who he believed was misguided by 'hip hop culture.'"

A Papa John's restaurant owner tries to explain why a receipt identified a customer as "lady chinky eyes."

And no one will ever accuse him of racism ever again. 

The day iPhone turned its VoiceOver option on.

I had a hell of a time this morning after iPhone — on its own somehow — started behaving as if I'd turned on what I eventually figured out was a function designed to help the visually impaired. Suddenly, it spoke aloud everything that appeared on the screen, including the demand that I enter my security code.

But it wouldn't receive my security code in the normal way — apparently because the method of entering numbers is different once you activate the VoiceOver feature. You can interact with Siri without entering the code, but Siri would not respond to multiple different efforts at telling it to turn off VoiceOver. I'd used my laptop to search and figure out that the thing that was driving me nuts was called VoiceOver. I had many interactions with Siri like:
I do not want to hear VoiceOver.

If you don't want it, don't want it.
I worried that some extravagant virus had taken over iPhone, coopting Siri and who know what else. Why didn't Siri understand references to a feature within the iPhone software? Siri was acting insolent and obtuse, taunting me!

Eventually, using the laptop, I found instructions about how to use iTunes on the laptop screen to turn off VoiceOver in the iPhone. But, man, that was nuts.

What if I had been out with my iPhone without my laptop? What would I have done? And VoiceOver was making noise, including saying the numerals of my security code out loud. This would have been crazy in a public place!

"I smile as we pass this young man – holding hands with his girlfriend, but, too, with an arm around his mom’s shoulder."

Photos from Ronda, Spain, including the amazing gorge and ancient bridge.

Did Romney — who went to Harvard Law School — display ignorance of the Supreme Court's decisions on the right of privacy and contraception?

Here's the transcript from last night's debate:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?

ROMNEY: George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising. States have a right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so, and if I were a governor of a state or...
So Romney begins by avoiding the question. No law professor would accept a student's responding that way. The question is about whether the states have the power to do something or whether there is a constitutional right supervening that power. It's a separate question whether the state would want to use that power.

You could say: Actually, the states do have the power, and the Supreme Court was wrong when it said there was a constitutional right of privacy, but it's not something to worry about, because the states aren't going to use this power. It's not going to happen.

But Romney went straight for the second point, that the states won't use this power. Implicitly, perhaps, he's saying it's not worth discussing the question of the state's power, because this issue won't come up in the real world. There's some justification in keeping it simple. This isn't a law school class, and the point I've just made is a bit difficult for the average person to catch on the fly.

Stephanopoulos drags Romney back to the question whether there is an individual right that supervenes the state's power:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the Supreme Court has ruled --

ROMNEY: ... or a -- or a legislature of a state -- I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you’re asking -- given the fact that there’s no state that wants to do so, and I don’t know of any candidate that wants to do so, you’re asking could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our constitutionalist here.
Romney acknowledges that he can see the question Stephanopoulos is asking, but he still doesn't want to answer it. Let Ron Paul answer it. Ron Paul is always going on about the Constitution. There's something clever and cagey about what Romney is saying: I don't make a constitutional question out of everything; I live in the real world, where I deal with real problems.

As a constitutional law professor, let me say that this is the way a lot of judges and scholars talk about law. Romney's engagement with law at this point is actually sophisticated, even as it looks simple. Ron Paul's continual pronouncements about constitutional law, by contrast, feel like political rhetoric to me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m sure Congressman Paul...


ROMNEY: OK, come on -- come on back...

Now, to me, Romney got the better of that. I'm reading the cold transcript now, but I did glimpse this part on TV last night. The humor and adeptness of what Romney was doing there is much more apparent in text. There is a seeming lightness and modesty to Romney when you're watching him, but, in writing, I see the cleverness. 
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... asking you, do you believe that states have that right or not?
(I wish everyone would say "power" and not "right" in that context of what governments may do.)
ROMNEY: George, I -- I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no -- no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think.
Romney recommits to his original response, but he drops in the statement that he doesn't know whether the states have that power, which is to say, he doesn't know whether individuals have a right that trumps the exercise of that power.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on a second. Governor, you went to Harvard Law School. You know very well this is based on...

ROMNEY: Has the Supreme Court -- has the Supreme Court decided that states do not have the right to provide contraception? I...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, they have. In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut.
This is the weird part of the interchange. In Griswold, the Supreme Court found the right of privacy that trumps the state's effort to ban contraceptives (used by married couples. A later case, based on Equal Protection, protects unmarried persons as well). But when Romney restates the question, he changes it to whether the states "do not have the right to provide contraception," an issue that no one was even talking about. My best guess is that Romney is stumbling here, and he needs the prompt about Griswold.
ROMNEY: The -- I believe in the -- that the law of the land is as spoken by the Supreme Court, and that if we disagree with the Supreme Court -- and occasionally I do -- then we have a process under the Constitution to change that decision. And it’s -- it’s known as the amendment process.
Here, he's resorting to generalities about the Supreme Court's authority and the supremacy of constitutional law.
And -- and where we have -- for instance, right now we’re having issues that relate to same-sex marriage. My view is, we should have a federal amendment of the Constitution defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. But I know of -- of no reason to talk about contraception in this regard.
He comes back once again to his original point, that as a real-world matter, contraception is a nonissue. We shouldn't even be talking about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’ve got the Supreme Court decision finding a right to privacy in the Constitution.

ROMNEY: I don’t believe they decided that correctly. In my view, Roe v. Wade was improperly decided. It was based upon that same principle. And in my view, if we had justices like Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia, and more justices like that, they might well decide to return this issue to states as opposed to saying it’s in the federal Constitution.
Now, he's clear that he doesn't think there is such a right. Either he finally has to talk about it, or he actually didn't realize that the Court first articulated the right of privacy in a case about contraception. Also, in addition to noting that a Supreme Court opinion can be overcome with a constitutional amendment, he's talking about something the President of the United States can do: Appoint new Justices who will overrule the case.
And by the way, if the people say it should be in the federal Constitution, then instead of having unelected judges stuff it in there when it’s not there, we should allow the people to express their own views through amendment and add it to the Constitution. But this idea that justice...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But should that be done in this case?

ROMNEY: Pardon?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should that be done in this case?

ROMNEY: Should this be done in the case -- this case to allow states to ban contraception? No. States don’t want to ban contraception. So why would we try and put it in the Constitution?

With regards to gay marriage, I’ve told you, that’s when I would amend the Constitution. Contraception, it’s working just fine, just leave it alone.
This gets a laugh and applause from the audience — proving perhaps that Romney is playing it the right way for his purposes — but it still doesn't deflect Stephanopoulos, who restates his question again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand that. But you’ve given two answers to the question. Do you believe that the Supreme Court should overturn it or not?...

ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes, I do.
Stephanopoulos shouldn't have said "it." He should have said Griswold, but, seriously, do American voters worry about Griswold? Stephanopoulos might be trying to get people worried about contraception, which nearly everyone wants to have available, instead of abortion, which lots of people want to ban, and Romney isn't allowing himself to be dragged into Stephanopoulos's agenda. Romney pulled the discussion in a different direction, a direction that served his political goals and probably won the favor of the actual voters in the audience. In short, he succeeded in making Stephanopoulos look like a pest.