February 18, 2012

The Houdini shop...

... outside of the "Houdini: Art and Magic" show.

The Return of the Heart-Shaped Balloon.

You might remember last year's protest kitsch: a red heart-shaped balloon that — for months — remained inflated and trapped high up in the Wisconsin Capitol dome.

We were at the Capitol today, and somebody's managed to get a balloon back up there....

A year ago at the Wisconsin protests: Jesse Jackson Came town.

He compared the scene to the recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

There were people with signs: "This is what happens when nobody votes." And I wondered...
Who's she calling nobody? Well, the good people didn't vote, and look what the hell happened: "Adolf Walker/Union Buster."
There was a lady with a "Dread Scott" sign, and I asked her if "she meant to suggest a connection between Scott Walker and the era of slavery. She said 'Of course.'"

There was an American flag on the ground next to a sign that said "Never have so few ignored so many," but it was an American flag with a picture of a fish on it, so that meant whatever it meant.

There were signs likening Scott Walker to Stalin and to the Wicked Witch of the West.

Inside the rotunda, there were huge, chanting crowds...

... but I said "I've seen absolutely no anger, nastiness, or rudeness. Not even any pushing to get into a better position. Everyone is quite nice, really. You need to understand that. Even when my dear bodyguard is not close to me, I don't feel at all endangered." Later, I would not be saying that, but this was February 18, 2011.

At he end of the evening, Jesse Jackson gives what I call "a generic speech" outdoors to a crowd he'd kept waiting "a long, cold time." I thought he was grandstanding, making the day "in a state that is not his state, revolve around him." I said:
It was quite selfish, especially when you contemplate the Wisconsin citizens the protesters are trying to influence. Why would Jesse Jackson's generically left-wing speech sway the people of Wisconsin to throw their support to the employees who have well-paid jobs with excellent benefits that they don't want to lose?

"Santorum Mocks Romney Over Olympic Games Experience."

"He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games... by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bailout the Salt Lake Olympic Games. In an earmark."

At the Shadowy Figure Café...

... skies are slippery grey.

"Islamists’ Ideas on Democracy and Faith Face Test in Tunisia."

A new article by Anthony Shadid, the "gifted foreign correspondent whose graceful dispatches for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Associated Press covered nearly two decades of Middle East conflict and turmoil" who "died, apparently of an asthma attack, on Thursday while on a reporting assignment in Syria."

From the new article:
[T]he generation embodied by [Said] Ferjani [was] shaped by jail, exile and repression and bound by faith and alliances years in the making....

“We don’t fear freedom of expression, but we cannot allow disorder,” he said. “People have to be responsible. They have to know there is law and order.”...

“Everybody has to be careful not to be dragged into a dictatorial instinct, no matter what happens,” he said. “We can’t lose the soul of our revolution.”

"Consumption smoothing" — the right way to die penniless.

It's done by putting all your money into annuities. If you think it's wrong not to leave something to your children, just make gifts from the annuity income.

The 69-year-old Paul McCartney announces he's quitting smoking pot after 50 years.

For the sake of his 8-year-old daughter (not that he hasn't had other children over the years).
"I smoked my share... When you're bringing up a youngster, your sense of responsibility does kick in, if you're lucky, at some point."
And that point, for Sir Paul, is age 69.

Come on, everyone in the world, let's all go to the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey today.

There's a big funeral, and you're all invited.

Oprah Winfrey will be there. And Alicia Keys. Dionne Warwick. And the love of a lifetime, Bobby Brown.

"It turns out that 'the party of science' really is just the old-fashioned 'party of equality,' science be damned..."

"... Left-wing biocons seem to believe that protecting human dignity requires the rich and poor to remain equally diseased, disabled, and dead."

February 17, 2012

At the Late Night Tavern...

... you can talk all night.

How to win "Survivor."

10 astutely crafted rules.

Are you watching the new season? They've got the 2 tribes living together, and one tribe is all women and the other all men (including "The Gayest Gay Man In The History Of Survivor," who keeps trying to cross over to the female team, but maybe he's got a clever plan). At least the way they've got it edited, the women seem to be acting out the stereotype of women in groups of women: They're destroying each other with emotional crossfire. Everything has way too much meaning. Meanwhile, the men hang together and laugh. Since the women are all on the other team, they don't need to play up to them in the usual fashion. It's interesting.

A year ago today here in Wisconsin...

... the Joint Finance Committee had just passed Gov. Walker's budget repair bill, and Meade and I were talking about the previous days protests...
He laughed... did the exaggerated flailing arms and stomping legs of drumbeat dancing, accompanied by the chant "THIS is WHAT deMOCracy LOOKS like." Putting the mock in democracy....

The fact is that the Republicans decisively won the governorship and both houses of the state legislature — probably with next to no votes from the people who came to the demonstration. If you're asking — like Shilling — for the Republican legislators to listen to democracy, they should look at the last election, the people all over the state who voted for them and, presumably, for fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice.
I posted a bunch of photos Meade had taken the previous day, showing the big mess of signs and sticks that were thrown around outside the entrance to the Capitol.
"Educators... care..." enough to leave signs to be trampled into the texture of the wet concrete....
"Proud" pile of dirty snow promises to "fight."
I contrast this to the tea party rallies where people famously leave the place clean. I think this post of mine had an effect. It got picked up by various pro-Walker sites and shows, and thereafter the protesters were fairly scrupulous about litter — of the horizontal, outdoor type. Taped-up signs, signs stuck in snow piles, and horizontal indoor arrays of signs would proliferate like mad.

Meade interviewed a woman who had a sign portraying Scott Walker as Hitler. At 0:46 she does a take that we've never forgotten.

I took a photo of a woman holding a Walker-as-Hitler sign in front of her face.
I asked the woman if she thought Scott Walker was like Hitler, and she said "Yes." So I said, "Are you saying that you think fascism could come to America," and she said, "It's what's happening."
I video'd a guy with a "Sic Semper Tyrannis" sign, which is an allusion to assassination.

A collection of photos I took of signs at the day's protests — including "Trap the Rat."

More signs, by Meade and me, including a misspelling of the sort lefties had been mocking as "Teabonics" when made by tea partiers.

Protest dogs.

One of my favorite videos
from last year's protests, showing very enthusiastic teenagers marching from West High School toward the Capitol. Lots of screaming and jumping. Meade quips: "They're so happy to be out of school."

Late that evening, we got the word that the 14 Senate Democrats had fled the state. And I saw a news story that said "It appears that tomorrow may well be the biggest day yet at the Capitol in the current wave of activity...." I asked — it's funny in retrospect — "Could things get any bigger?"

A photograph of protesters in the Capitol around a big American flag hung upside down, and I sympathetically opined: "I don't think most of those people posing around it realized they were part of a tableau of disrespect." Some commenters informed me that the flag hung upside down is a signal of distress and snarked "google and basic deduction can be your friend." I Googled and came back:
This isn't a ship in distress. It's an appropriation of our national symbol to make a political statement. I'm very familiar with this from the 1960s.
Debate ensues.

We get the news that the Madison schools would close for a second day it becomes known that teachers will do another sick-out to protest.

"In no scenes were these maidens seen navigating the oozing bits of Gauguin's body, but once you know even a little about him, you find that he is just so vividly, eye-catchingly gross."

"If you flay him as a historical figure and lay him out on a table, you find a maggoty cross section of the monster the postcolonial 20th century became, presided over by whiny, violent, and jaw-droppingly self-centered white dudes. One of the direct effects of the century of French colonization that preceded Gauguin's arrival—whose effects he loudly decried both in his writings and in his paintings—was the decimation of the population from causes including diseases like the one he brought into the bedroom of his final girlfriend."

Jen Graves emotes about art.

What's so bad about a college course on the Occupy [Your City] movement?

Glenn Reynolds has some fine ideas about what could be taught:
1) The Higher Education Bubble and Debt Slavery Throughout History....

2) Bourgeois vs. Non-Bourgeois Revolutions: A Comparison and Contrast.... [S]ocial-protest movements are sometimes orderly and sometimes disorderly as a matter of approach, and it would compare the effectiveness and ultimate success of such relentlessly bourgeois movements as the tea party, the pre-1964 Civil Rights movement, Women's Suffrage activists, and the American Revolution, against such anti-Bourgeois movements as the post-1968 Black Power and New Left movements, and the French Revolution....

3) Class struggles and the New Class...

4) Scapegoating and anti-Semitism in mass economic-protest movements....

5) The Fragility of Public Health....

6) Class Differences Within Economic Protest Movements. ...

2 women do the math about women and math — and science and engineering — and say it may take 100 years before 50% of professors in the STEM fields are women.

Cheryl Geisler, dean of the faculty of communication, art, and technology at Simon Fraser University, says:
"In the last four years we're seeing 27 percent of new hires in science and engineering are women... It was 25 percent earlier in the decade, so it's just been creeping up."
Her co-author, Deborah A. Kaminski, a professor of mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says:
At that rate, it may be 2050 before 50 percent of new hires in science and engineering are female... And even after one-half of all faculty members hired are women, "it will likely take at least another 40 years before the actual population of science, engineering, and mathematics professors is 50 percent women"...
They did the math about women and math. Care to check their work, guys?

NYT plumps up a few quotes from Ron Paul into a story about 2 unlikely best friends.

Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. They set out on a journey across America — on a quest to win the hearts of a hundred million American voters — and what they found.... was a quirky... wacky... friendship!!! that would last a lifetime.

Let's look at the actual quotes Richard A. Oppel Jr. strews before us:
“I talk to Romney more than the rest on a friendly basis,” Mr. Paul said. ”I throw Romney’s name out because he’s made a bigger attempt to do it. The others are sort of just real flat.”
So Gingrich and Santorum are real flat... and Romney's a personable guy, one on one.
The candidates’ spouses, Ann Romney and Carol Paul, “know each other better than any of the other wives,” Mr. Paul said. He and Mr. Romney talk “all the time” and “we’ve met all their kids.” Once he telephoned Mr. Romney just as Mr. Romney was calling him. “Sometimes I’m never sure who issued a call,” he said.
They just gossip on the phone for hours and hours! But seriously, there's something important here. Ron Paul is methodically gathering delegates, and he's got his people doing the kind of hard behind-the-scenes work with the caucuses and state-level conventions that made the difference in 2008 between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
... Mr. Paul has slowly been collecting delegates, and is now threatening Mr. Gingrich for third place on that front. And his supporters plan to pack state party conventions to grab more delegates in states like Iowa, Maine and Minnesota, which will probably give Mr. Paul more leverage as the nominating battle progresses.
Implicit in the article is the suggestion that Ron Paul will have something important to give, and if Gingrich/Santorum hold on long enough to keep the convention open, Paul will be the kingmaker, and the king will be Romney.

Knees together, panties in a twist... or: Do you want Friess with that?

A right-wing geezer who doesn't know how to tell a groaner of an old joke confuses some lefty bloggers who don't know what they've just heard.  The joke, as phrased by Santorum's best billionaire friend, Foster Friess, was:
Back in my day, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.
Alex Seitz-Wald at ThinkProgress is all:
Given that Aspirin is not a contraceptive, Friess seems to be suggesting that women keep the pill between their knees in order to ensure they legs [sic] stay closed to prevent having sex. Conspicuously, Friess doesn’t put the same burden on men.
I love the way he [she?] throws in the cursory feminist analysis to offset his plodding getting of the joke.

Michael Falcone at ABCNews's The Note, is stuck under the embarrassing headline "Santorum's Top Super  PAC Donor Suggests Women Should Use Aspirin For Contraception." Falcone soberly delivers the news that it's a joke: "He smiled as he said it, but wasn’t laughing. The remark alludes to an old joke about abstinence."

Aspirin's not a contraceptive, but have you heard about Coca-Cola? Back in my day...
Coke (and Dr Pepper in the southern States) douches have been part of contraceptive lore at least since the 1950s, with the common belief being that the carbonic acid in Coke killed the sperm and "exploded" the sperm cells, while the carbonation of the drink forced the jet of liquid into the vagina....
That is, after intercourse, you shake up the bottle, stick it in, and let it shoot up in there! If you think that's stupid, check over the home remedies you think work, all your "holistic" and "alternative" things.

February 16, 2012

A year ago today in the Wisconsin protests...

... on the Althouse blog:

1. "Madison schools close for the day to allow teachers to protest Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting budget plan."
[I]sn't it interesting how well the students used the internet to organize their political activity? Why not close all the schools altogether and let the students romp and play and be political and speak and learn via the internet and internet-organized activities... forever?
2. Paul Soglin beats Mayor Dave in the Madison mayoral primary, and I publish the picture of him I took at the low key protest on the 13th.

3. Meade goes up to the Capitol and grabs some shots of the protests: "Dick move, Scotty!," "Hosni + Hitler = Dictator Scott Walker," ""We have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers."

4. The late evening announcement that the schools will be closed for a second day on the 17th.

5. At 10 p.m., I've finally got my edit of Meade's video up:
There's singing of the national anthem at the beginning and end of this video. In between, there's some chanting — "... what's disgusting? Union busting!" — and "Don't Stop Believing" and drumming and so forth.
This is our first posted video of the protests, and it's kind of charming. At 3:21, you can see a "Recall Walker" sign. At 4:21, that's our first "Recall!/Walker!" chant.

"Baad involves giving a young woman, often a child, into slavery and forced marriage."

"It is largely hidden because the girls are given to compensate for 'shameful' crimes like murder, adultery and elopement...."
The strength of the traditional justice system and the continuing use of baad is a sign both of Afghans’ lack of faith in the government’s justice system, which they say is corrupt, and their extreme sense of insecurity. Baad is most common in areas where it is dangerous for people to seek out government institutions. Instead of turning to the courts, they go to jirgas, assemblies of tribal elders, that use tribal law, which allows the exchange of women.

The Obama Administration clearly states that the individual mandate is not a tax.

Notes Jonathan Adler, pointing to this video:

But of course, the government is arguing in the Supreme Court that the individual mandate is a tax, authorized by Congress's taxing power. Read the brief for the United States — PDF — beginning at page 50:
The “practical operation” of the minimum coverage provision is as a tax.... It amends the Internal Revenue Code to provide that a non-exempted individual who fails to maintain a minimum level of insurance shall pay a monthly penalty for so long as he fails to do so. 26 U.S.C.A. § 5000A. The amount of the penalty is calculated as a percentage of household income for federal income tax purposes, above a flat dollar amount and subject to a cap. Id. § 5000A(c). It is reported on the individual’s federal income tax return for the taxable year, ibid., and “assessed and collected in the same manner as” other specified federal tax penalties. Id. § 5000A(b)(2), (g).

Individuals who are not required to file income tax returns for a given year are not required to pay the penalty. Id. § 5000A(e)(2). The taxpayer’s responsibility for family members depends on their status as dependents under the Internal Revenue Code. Id. § 5000A(a), (b)(3). Taxpayers filing a joint tax return are jointly liable for the penalty. Id. § 5000A(b)(3)(B). And the Secretary of the Treasury is empowered to enforce the penalty provision. Id. § 5000A(g)....

Although the taxing power may not be used to impose “punishment for an unlawful act,” United States v. LaFranca, 282 U.S. 568, 572 (1931), the minimum coverage provision does not impose punishment. It does not apply retrospectively; instead, it imposes a month-to-month penalty for a failure to maintain adequate coverage, with liability ceasing when adequate coverage is obtained. 26 U.S.C.A. § 5000A(a)-(c). The tax cannot exceed the cost of qualifying insurance, id. § 5000A(c), does not apply to persons below a certain income level who do not need to file a federal income tax return, id. § 5000A(e)(2), and contains a “hardship” exemption, id. § 5000A(e)(5). It has no scienter requirement, and bars criminal prosecution for failure to pay. Id. § 5000A(g)(2)(A).
That sounds pretty sincere. And yet President Obama's acting budget director Jeffrey Zients acted completely confused when House Budget Committee Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., asked him if the penalty for failure to buy insurance was a tax.

Well, I suppose it depends on what the meaning of the word "tax" is. It's one thing for the purpose of political argument: Democrats in Congress didn't want to call it a tax when they were jamming it through, and Obama doesn't want to call it a tax now as he's promoting a budget with no new taxes for those making less than $250,000 a year. But for the purposes of legal argument, you might want to characterize it as a tax. The serious question is whether the Supreme Court will accept that characterization for the purpose of upholding the law, even though for political purposes the word was not — and is not — used.

And the answer to that question depends on whether the Justices think that analysis of the political dynamics matters in the interpretation of the scope of Congress's enumerated powers. Whatever the vigor of the Court's role here — and obviously much is left to Congress's political will — it is crucial for the people — exercising their political pressure on the Congress that works its political will — to see what is happening. Even in the thrall of judicial restraint, the Court should reject an argument based on fooling the people about what Congress is doing. The people are especially vigilant about new taxes, so denying that something is a tax is an important maneuver in the political arena. If that move is made to ward off public outrage, it should not be easy to turn around win the favor of judges by calling it what you did not dare tell the people it was.

"[T]he whole enterprise of bioethics as tainted by conflicts of interest..."

"[I]t’s always in bioethicists’ professional interest to suggest that a new technology raises troubling moral issues that require deep (funded) thought and extensive (lucrative) conferences..."


"Without kisspeptin, a human being cannot attain sexual characteristics of his/her gender and child-bearing capacity. Kisspeptin is absolutely required for the start of the puberty process in humans."

In "Combative Top Democrat Gains Clout in Campaign," a Wall Street Journal piece on Debbie Wasserman Schultz...

... the most interesting part is personal:
[S]ince being named national party chairwoman last spring, Ms. Wasserman Schultz has struggled to meet the demands from the party, from her husband and their three young children and from her South Florida congressional district filled with senior citizens. "I have three full-time jobs," she says. "There's a lot of tension."

At 6 a.m. in her Weston, Florida, home one recent day, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, wearing wet hair, no makeup and a coral-colored suit, talked to two staff members assembled in her kitchen about possible topics for her appearance within the hour on MSNBC. While she packed her bag of diet food to combat the few pounds she gained after breast-cancer treatment, her husband Steve Schultz fed their youngest child and four barking dogs....

She didn't tell her House colleagues, constituents or even her children about her breast-cancer diagnosis and treatment until after it was finished. Ms. Wasserman Schultz wanted to protect her then 8-year-old twins and 4-year-old, but says she also didn't want others stopping her from fulfilling her congressional and political roles.

When some colleagues saw her on the shortlist to be party chair, they held an "intervention" of sorts. "We wanted her to reassure us that the extra work wouldn't be a threat to her personal well-being," says Rep. Bruce Braley, a close friend.

"The Free Library of Philadelphia is hosting speed-dating sessions where each potential suitor has to bring a representative book as an icebreaker..."

"... and we couldn't help but wonder: if you were (or are) on the market, which book would you bring to introduce yourself?  And which book, in the hands of the person across the table, would have you wincing and hoping for the next rotation to happen quickly?"

I'd bring "Get Me a Table Without Flies, Harry."

As for the books that would be off-putting in the other person's hands... there are so many things. The first thing that pops into my head is: astrology. But you don't need to go to a special library-sponsored book-in-hand dating event for would-be suitors to disqualify themselves with astrology.

Rick Santorum — in a 2006 interview — said birth control is "harmful to women."

Jennifer Rubin wants you to know:
Now, he qualifies his religious views by saying he doesn’t vote against contraception “because it’s not the taking of a human life” (in other contexts he has emphasized that as a legal matter he has no problem with contraception). But how does that square with his professed belief that a candidate’s values are essential to understanding and predicting his behavior? Perhaps that’s an abortion-only rule.
Watch the video at the link. Santorum says:
"I vote and have supported birth control because it is not the taking of a human life. But I’m not a believer in birth control and — artificial birth control — again, I think it goes down the line of being able to do whatever you want to do without having the responsibility that comes with that.... I think it breaks that … this is from a personal point of view. From a governmental point of view, I support Title 10 (I guess it is) and have voted for contraception — although I don’t think it works. I think it’s harmful to women. I think it’s harmful to our society to have a society that says that sex outside of marriage is something that should be encouraged or tolerated, particularly among the young. And I think it has  it has — and we’ve seen — very, very harmful long-term consequences to a society. So, birth control — to me — enables that and I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for our country.”
I'd like to see the whole transcript — and I will check his 2005 book, which I presume he was talking about. It's pretty clear just from that quote that he wasn't saying what he would do with governmental power. He was speaking "from a personal point of view," expressing the opinion something that people are now free to do isn't good for them and isn't good for society. It's a separate question whether he would deny us this freedom. He would deny us the freedom to have abortions, presumably, because that is "the taking of a human life" and thus important to him "from a governmental point of view."

Should voters worry about what Santorum might do with his personal beliefs if he gets into power? Note that the issue today isn't about banning birth control. It's about subsidies.  What behavior are we incentivizing with government spending? The Obama administration wants to nudge people into using birth control, on the theory that's good policy. Santorum represents the opposite policy position, and not merely because he wants much less government spending. From his book ("It Takes a Family"):
[I]n this country, we continue to pour millions more dollars into comprehensive sex ed, which “protects” against the “effects” of unhealthy behavior, rather than promoting virtue, which will lead to healthy behavior. In 2002, the federal and state governments spent an estimated $1.73 billion on a wide variety of contraception promotion and pregnancy prevention programs. More than a third of that money—$653 million—was spent specifically to fund contraceptive programs for teens. In contrast, programs teaching teens to abstain from sexual activity received only an estimated $144.1 million in 2002. Overall, the government spent 12 dollars to promote contraception for every dollar spent to encourage abstinence. When I have attempted to increase abstinence funding at the expense of contraceptive funding, I have been scolded for “trying to impose religious values on children.” As if telling children to go ahead and have sex all they want as long as they use a condom is not a value statement. It may not be held by many formal religions, but it is certainly held by the materialist philosophy of the left that defends free-sex-and-condoms with religious zeal. If you ever wondered what moral message was being delivered to your children from Uncle Sam—or should I say Uncle Sigmund?—now you know.
Santorum goes on to criticize the Supreme Court for finding a constitutional right to use contraception (even though, he says, if he'd been a legislator, he wouldn't have voted for the law). 
The dissenting justices [in Griswold v. Connecticut] mocked the reasoning of the majority, which in some cases based itself not on the Constitution's text, but rather on the “traditions and [collective] conscience of our people.” How, asked the dissenters, could the Court know the conscience of the people better than legislators? Did not such reliance lead only to the substitution of judges' “personal and private notions” for the decisions of legislatures?...
See? There's that idea of personal beliefs. Santorum doesn't like judges using "personal" views in the development of constitutional law. Of course, the judges — when they talk about the meaning of "liberty" in the Due Process Clause — say that they are finding a "principle of justice... rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people." Justice Black simply didn't think judges could do that.

Santorum's not running for judge, and the Justice Black approach leaves these things to the political branches of government. So, if Black was right, and personal views are going to affect decisions, then we can't get away from the reality that Santorum's personal views will affect his decisionmaking — including whom he will appoint to the Supreme Court, which has the power to reshape our due process rights, perhaps giving a lot more leeway to the political branches of government where Santorum's personal views will affect decisionmaking.

"[Governor Scott] Walker and his legislative cronies have utterly dishonored the institutions they represent."

Writes Brian Austin — a Dane County police officer and former Assistant District Attorney in Milwaukee and Kenosha counties — in Isthmus, laying out evidence of a "corruption scandal":
By supporting these people, you are losing a part of yourselves that is not easy to reclaim. How do you tell your children that these are the people you want to lead our government? Please, put aside your anger at liberals for a moment and recognize that these people are destroying your party for their own gain. Consider the fact that a small number of people are robbing us all of a real political discourse.

"I suppose to an 8, 9 or 10-year-old that might seem like child abuse if you like cheeseburgers, French [fries] and pizza."

"He wanted to get them from behind the TV, the games and fast food."

A 45-year-old Indianapolis man is on trial, facing life in prison, after taking his 3 grandsons on a hike in the Grand Canyon.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Williams portrayed [Christopher Alan] Carlson as an active health nut who had a firm hand and wanted to show the boys the world. Like anyone after a long hike, the boys were tired, hungry and thirsty, but Carlson only allowed the boys to eat healthy food like tofu, hummus and veggie burgers, Williams said in his opening...

The 9-year-old, the youngest of the three brothers, testified that he experienced cramping, nausea and hunger during the miles-long treks.

But he also told jurors that his grandfather took the boys on many “awesome” adventurous trips. In between the two hikes, Carlson took the boys on a tour of the Hoover Dam, to rides atop the Stratosphere hotel and a Criss Angel magic show in Las Vegas, and to Disneyland in California.

Jurors smiled as the boy also spoke of trips to Mexico, Belize, Honduras and across the western United States last summer with Carlson and his two older brothers. The trips often included long hikes, swimming and fishing in the ocean and thrill rides at amusement parks.

Although investigators have said Carlson withheld food and water, the boy testified that he and his brothers were allowed to drink water most of the time and snacked on celery, carrots, tofu and low-carb hummus during the hikes.
Key words: "jurors smiled." UPDATE: The man was found guilty on March 1st. Reading about the evidence produced at trial, it is easy to see why he was convicted.

February 15, 2012

Flu-ridden Scott Walker greets Pres. Obama in Milwaukee and gives him a Brewers jersey...

... with "Obama" and the number 1 on it.

Walker already gave Obama a Green Bay Packers jersey... last year.

You have to go to the front page — here — to see the photo of today's encounter... which did not include any finger-waggling of the Arizonan kind.

ADDED: Here's the photo.

Romney's bad joke about keeping "Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage."

Look at what he's comparing. Las Vegas is a place where couples who have a right to get married anywhere go to get married because it's quick and easy. Massachusetts was to become a place where couples who are unable to marry elsewhere would go in order to have the right to marry. It disrespects marriage and it disrespects gay people and it disrespects the nature of rights to make a joke out of this comparison.

It's one thing to believe there should be no right for gay people to marry. But if you want to take that position, you should still be decent and respectful about it. It's not funny to say to people who have sincere and important personal relationships that they cannot acquire the same stamp of honor that other people can get. It is another matter to treat gay couples who want to marry as if they are like the couples who just don't want to have to put up with the waiting period and red tape that blocks the path to marriage in their home state.

And I say that as someone in an opposite-sex marriage who traveled to another state in order to avoid the waiting period and red tape that blocks the path to marriage in my home state.

Mitt Romney, trying to look grounded in traditional moral values, comes across as flimsy and clownish.

A small crowd gathers and marks a 1-year anniversay at the Wisconsin Capitol.


As I did yesterday and will continue to do for the next few weeks, I'm looking back exactly one year to see what I had on the blog. Surprisingly, I had absolutely nothing about the protests on February 15, 2011. Things seemed so slow to me I was watching snow melt.

Feds sue NY co-op — which has a no-pets policy — for refusing to allow a "comfort dog."

"Sandra Biegel died in 2007 at age 74, a month after her family gave up the miniature schnauzer due to threats of litigation and fines by Woodbury Gardens. However, the U.S. Attorney's office is suing the Long Island co-op in federal court in Brooklyn, seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering...."

It's one thing to require these places to allow a seeing-eye dog for a blind person, but quite another to subordinate no-pets policies to those who present psychological desires/needs in medical terms. It's like the predicament we have in places that try to legalize medical marijuana. There's some core of medical need that most people recognize — such as cancer patients who are wasting away — but then you get fairly ordinary people who just want their way and are willing to portray their preferences in the requisite medical light. Drawing the line to let all those people in is worse than just allowing everyone to use marijuana.

"Maybe there are good legal arguments why Kagan need not recuse herself..."

"... but there is no good reason that she shouldn't at least come forward and publicly explain her decision."
Not doing so suggests that there is something deeply political (and maybe, like Bush vs. Gore, even something partisan) going on, and that possibility could negatively infect what many of us on the left hope to be Supreme Court affirmation of the constitutional validity of the Affordable Care Act.

Why painting the bike lanes green is a big problem in L.A.

You can't be "bike-friendly and film-friendly at the same time":
That mile and a half of Spring Street turns out to be the most filmed stretch of street in town. Or rather, it was until about last November, when the green lane spoiled the shots that made Spring the perfect stand-in for Anytown, USA. It was the perfect street for car commercials, the perfect backdrop of stolid bank buildings, the perfect mix of marble columns and Art Deco spandrels, the perfect modern or 1920s downtown — until the wide green stripe appeared.

"Why a Saudi blogger faces a possible death sentence for three tweets."

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the case of a 23-year-old man, Hamza Kashgari, who tweeted a birthday message to the prophet Muhammad:
"On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you've always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you," read his first tweet, translated here from the original Arabic. "I shall not pray for you."
By the end of the day thousands were tweeting for his execution. Kashgari fled the country and "got as far as Malaysia before being deported back home to face charges of blasphemy, apostasy, and atheism."

"His face was framed by a coat that gave him the look of a 1960’s guru — or perhaps Cousin Itt’s pet."

Malachy, the Pekingese that won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

ADDED: Did you know that in the 136 years of the show, the most popular breed in America has never won best in show?

"What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly."

Says the mother of a child in North Carolina whose home-packed, turkey-sandwich lunch was deemed insufficiently healthful by the school authorities, apparently because there was no vegetable. The child was given cafeteria food, which included a vegetable, but the child only ate the chicken nuggets, and the family was charged $1.25. I was going to say the family should send the school a bill for the cost of the confiscated food, but the forbidden food was sent home with the child.

What is the best lesson learned here?
pollcode.com free polls 

February 14, 2012

Althouse and Meade encounter a strange vehicle.

Here's the website referred to on the bus... with the 2 VW vans attached. Seems like some kind of art/life project that's mainly about the bus per se and how people respond to it, so consider this blog post and the ensuing comments as a response. And good luck!

Maine madness.

Paulites hold out hope.

"I’ve been wondering for a while now when we were going to see an Obama-inflected Hollywood cinema."

Writes J. Hoberman in a New York Review of Books blog post that begins with an analysis of the "Halftime in America" Super Bowl ad.
The longing for Obama (or an Obama) can be found in two prescient 2008 movies—WALL-E (the world saved by an endearing little dingbot, community organizer for an extinct community) and Milk (portrait of another creative community organizer—not to mention a precedent-shattering politician who, it’s very often reiterated, presented himself as a Messenger of Hope). Nothing comparable has appeared since Obama’s inauguration although there is a mildly Obama-iste aspect to any movie featuring an unconventional protagonist, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Haywire (both with very tough gals) or even The Social Network (celebration of world-historical nerd), as well as the not undeserved love showered on The Hurt Locker—a two-fisted, Howard Hawks-type war movie directed by a lady!
Seems like, for Hoberman, Obama is always there and always not there. Movies about "very tough gals" have to do with Obama? Movies directed by a lady are Obama-iste?! Hoberman's longing for an Obama tinged world is somehow all about women. And robots and gay guys. Intimations of Obama, leaving us still longing for Obama, wondering where he is. And now, suddenly... Clint Eastwood!

Ha ha. That was the most fatuous thing I've read all day. Including a few Supreme Court cases.

"Severely conservative."

Romney called himself that, but where else do we see that phrase?

Having read that collection of quotes, do you feel that you see something about Romney's nature? Or was it a meaningless grab for an adverb or an attempt to get to "seriously" that didn't quite make it?

President Obama comes to Wisconsin tomorrow and will do a public appearance with Governor Scott Walker.

You see what's going on there, don't you? Why would our Democratic President do some high-profile hobnobbing with the Republican Governor that Democrats have targeted with protests and a recall effort for the past year, even as the recall election is still pending?

I'd say Barack Obama is looking down the road to November, making some predictions and hedging his bets. He doesn't want to be bogged down with seeming connections to the most belligerent and left-wing elements of his party. He wants to stand separate and independent, and ready to be loved by one and all throughout the lovely swing state of Wisconsin. A walk with Walker is a fine readjustment to the political center. Well played, Mr. President!

Obama wants the recall effort to fail, no?

Justice Scalia gives law students some advice: have a life, perhaps in Cleveland, and take serious" classes, not "made-up stuff."

Speaking at the University of Chicago, he said:
“Try to find a practice that enables you to maintain a human existence … time for your family, your church or synagogue, community … boy scouts, little league,” Scalia said, noting he started with Jones, Day in Cleveland. “You should look for a place like that. I’m sure they’re still out there. Maybe you have to go to Cleveland.”

Noting his son joined a California-based law firm, Scalia laughed and said, “My son Gene went to Gibson Dunn. Any big firm has the basic ethos of its head office and if the head office is in La La land, it’s gonna be a little laid back.”
Scalia as for classes:
“I took nothing but bread-and-butter classes, not 'Law and Poverty,' or other made-up stuff," Scalia said to laughter. He said his advice to law students at the time was: “Take serious classes. There’s so much law to learn. Don’t waste your time.”
Oh, now, now, there's plenty of made-up stuff in classes with conventional names like "Contracts" and a decent amount of regular old doctrine in classes that have "Law and —" names. Unless what you care about is how it looks on your transcript, you need to know more than the name of the course to figure out where you're going to get law and what's going to waste your time.

"To those Christians who have venomously and vomitously cursed the Court family..."

"... and threatened bodily harm and assassination: In His name, I forgive you.... To those in the executive and legislative branches of government who have demagogued this case for their own political goals: You should be ashamed of yourselves...."

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, writing an order approving a settlement in a school prayer case.

A year ago today... the big Wisconsin protests began.

The Badger Herald has some reflections, including one by my assemblyman Brett Hulsey ("Gov. Scott Walker dropped a bomb on the people of Wisconsin") and one by UW polisci prof Donald Downs ("The country cries out for genuine vision that goes beyond the entrenched interests and shibboleths of the present right and left.")

Here's my February 13, 2011 post about the "very low key" crowd at the Capitol that day. Typical sign, from before things blew up: "Bullying Is NOT the Answer! Fix if the Plan Needed!" I went on about the lameness of the protest:
You can see that it wasn't a very big crowd. There was an effort to get cars to honk, and when they honked, the honkees went "Wooo!"

There were no speakers and no chants.
No chants! I need to be careful what I agitate for.
There was one man — I have video but I'm not posting it — who seemed a bit disoriented, who did something that is comically easy to do in a low-key protest. He started speaking, haranguing, like he was the leader. The group of nice, tolerant people did nothing to shoo him away. It was rather touching, even as it underlined the ineffectiveness of the protest.

It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm Sunday, and our new governor has just dropped a shocking union-busting proposal that our newly Republican legislature is likely to step up and pass. This is the push-back from the unions?
Ha ha. Is this all you got? I asked.

It was the next day, the 14th, that things started getting big. All I had that day was a link to Isthmus columnist Bill Lueders who said protests would be "a colossal waste of everybody's time, and exactly the reaction Gov. Walker hopes to inspire." The protests would boost Walker?
Either they are peaceful and accomplish nothing; or they turn violent and create a massive backlash against the unions and their members. Either way, Walker wins.
My reaction was: "Wow. When did Madison lefties become so cynical about protests?"

That's all very funny in retrospect. And I was definitely wrong. Madison lefties were immensely, passionately optimistic about protests. And Lueders was right, wasn't he? The protests, in the end — we're not quite at the end yet — will have boosted Walker.

There are 1.8 million dead people registered to vote in the United States — and 24 million invalid/inaccurate registrations.

A Pew Center study finds. This doesn't mean anyone actually votes in their name, just that the names are in the registries.

"For them the whole mountain is a temple..."

"... and the gold and silver below the ground are there for a reason — they contribute to the energy, and it would be best if they just left it alone."

Religion versus mining.

Linguistic cues that a person is lying on his/her on-line dating profile.

Discerned by a UW communications prof Catalina Toma:
The more deceptive a dater's profile, the less likely they were to use the first-person pronoun "I."...

The liars often employed negation, a flip of the language that would restate "happy" as "not sad" or "exciting" as "not boring." And the fabricators tended to write shorter self-descriptions in their profiles....

"They don't want to say too much," Toma says. "Liars experience a lot of cognitive load. They have a lot to think about. The less they write, the fewer untrue things they may have to remember and support later."
Cognitive load. What an expression! It suggests a new answer for the old question: "Are you shitting me?"

Great beauties of Renaissance art, slimmed down, via Photoshopping.

By Italian artist Anna Utopia Giordano, supposedly demonstrating how tastes have changed.

Quite aside from the passage of time, taste in beauty has something to do with whether the model will be dressed or nude. As a former art-school student, I've done numerous "life drawing" classes, and good as thin models look in clothes, they make terrible nudes. As I blogged back in '05, if I wanted to draw landscapes, I'd go to the mountains, not the plains.

The right to be forgotten.

A new privacy right. From Europe.

Cartoon faces...

... made real.

ADDED: Lesser efforts.

February 13, 2012

"Appropriately, Adele’s ascension happened during one of the dullest Grammy ceremonies in recent memory..."

"... a tour de force of bumbling anti-imagination hampered even further by the death of Whitney Houston the day before the show, which left producers scrambling to fit in raw tribute with shimmering and gauche spectacle."

The NYT's Jon Caramanica, carps about the dead diva, hampering from a bathtub.

AND: In other Grammy news, how many people tweeted that they'd let Chris Brown beat them up?

"You might be interested in letting your readers know that a restaurant meal is a 'sale of goods' under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code."

"The code provides that where the buyer and seller have agreed to a contract but have not agreed on the price, the price is not what the seller subsequently demands. It’s a reasonable price for the goods at issue. Thus a customer has no obligation to pay for anything more than the reasonable price of a pasta meal at a trendy restaurant."

Lawprof weighing in on a story about a customer who ordered the pasta with white truffles and was shocked to get the bill and see the price: $275.

Here's the $65 worth of white truffles 'n' pasta I had last fall. I knew the price in advance. Cheap, apparently... compared to New York.

Santorum surge.

Oh, my!

"The Ponytail Shape Equation represents the first scientific understanding of the distribution of hairs in a ponytail...."

"It provides new understanding of how a bundle is swelled by the outward pressure which arises from collisions between the component hairs. Together with a new mathematical quantity known as the Rapunzel Number, the equation can - they say - be used to predict the shape of any ponytail.... This will resonate with some in the computer graphics and animation industry, where a realistic representation of hair and fur has proven a tough challenge."

BBC reports.

At the Winter Night Hotel...

... we're speaking in whispers.

"Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed last week by an intruder armed with a machete..."

At the Justice's vacation home on the Caribbean island of Nevis.

Isn't it funny how that happens?

It seems like the blog has a theme today: animals.

"President Obama on Monday unveiled a $3.8 trillion spending plan that seeks to pump billions of dollars into the economy while raising taxes on the rich..."

"... to tame a soaring national debt now projected to grow significantly faster than previously forecast."

President Obama, the debt-tamer.

"Voters Are Gung-Ho for Use of Drones But Not Over the United States."

76% favor the use of drones to kill terrorists, but when asked about using drones for surveillance — not even killing — only 9% are drone-friendly.

This gives real insight into how Americans perceive rights: We see ourselves as having strong rights as Americans. We don't have an international human rights perspective.

Remember the famous debate between Justices Scalia and Breyer about using foreign law in the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution? I live-blogged it here:
Justice Scalia [says] it might be "nice" to know our law is like that of the rest of the world, but it isn't. The Framers would have been "appalled" if you'd have told them what they were doing is making us like the rest of the world. They didn't have much respect for European countries. He notes that Madison was contemptuous of countries that were "afraid" to let their citizens bear arms.
We think we're different. We think we're special.

Told to "relax and allow this" writing assignment "to work for you," a college student describes his sexual attraction to various female instructors...

... and is suspended — from Oakland University — for violating a rule that says "nor shall any person in any way intimidate, harass, threaten or assault any person engaged in lawful activities on the campus."
While the entries describe various women in ways that might make them identifiable to those on campus, and are written in ways many would find immature or insulting, the entries don't contain threats against any of the women. 
Oh, lord, they've scanned his Mead composition book and posted it on line, with his name. Talk about intimidation and harassment! Oh, no wait. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is representing the student, has put the PDF up, so any humiliation involved in making the writing available is self-inflicted. I wasn't going to link to it or name the young man if it was the university that was exposing it, but Joseph Corlett is doing this to himself. Reading. Crossing out "young" because I just read the part, under the title "Hot for Teacher" where he writes: "She is short, height/weight proportionate and brunette like my wife of thirty (30) years..."
I'll be 56 in November of 2011... It was refreshing to have some space in my brain to think about thoughts other than sex. Like dropping from a hundred times a day to just 20. What a relief, but you don't get wood at the titty bars anymore. Small tradeoff.

I can't believe I just wrote that but I did and it's staying. I don't give a fuck. It is what it is. I WILL NOT TEAR THIS PAGE. 
You know, in those Mead composition books, one page is attached to another one, on the other side of the binding. Actions have consequences.

Back to the article link:
FIRE maintains that Corlett's rights were violated by the university, and that there was no reason to treat him as threatening. "It is not against the law to be — or to be perceived as — a creep," said Adam Kissel, vice president of FIRE. Noting that many great writers have expressed their admiration for women (in ways that shocked and offended many), Kissel said, "I can hardly imagine what kind of counseling Oakland would have required for Quentin Tarantino, Vladimir Nabokov, or Stephen King."
Officials at Oakland, a public institution in Michigan, declined to comment on the case, and said that the institution could not do so without violating privacy rules. 
Rights. Everywhere: rights. Boxed in on all sides. One question is: If Quentin Tarantino, Vladimir Nabokov, or Stephen King submitted to a writing class at a university in California Michigan that authorities wielding rules against sexual harassment, what would they write? One answer is: That's a big "if."

Now, the teachers' feelings of intimidation also had to do with guns. The file contains a complaint about Corlett's "gun obsession." Corlett had, in fact written a letter to the student newspaper in support of concealed carry rights on campus.
"I cannot feel safe knowing that he might have a weapon with him at any time. He might have had a gun in his backpack when he sat 20 feet away from me at the writing center last week..." [a teacher wrote].
The article, at Inside Higher Ed, continues:
The Corlett dispute is one in a series of instances in which students have been scrutinized for their work in writing classes -- more typically when the writing is explicitly dealing with violence. Colleges and universities have been criticized both for failing to act on student writing and for overreacting. The issue is complicated, writing instructors say. Instructors note that many students are immature, aren't good writers and mix fantasy and reality without much attempt to differentiate the two...
The article fails to include the fact — which jumped out at me when I read the notebook — that the man is 56 years old. That's part of the factual context of the case. Many students are immature, but when the immature student is 56 years old, that affects the assessment of the evidence.

Let's not jump to assume he was suspended solely for writing about his sexual attraction to the teachers (or for speaking out about gun rights). We don't know the totality of the facts here, only that the man has engaged representation and gone public in a context where the school is not able to explain its action.

By the way, when I think of great writers and Oakland, I don't think of Quentin Tarantino, Vladimir Nabokov, or Stephen King, I think of Gertrude Stein, who famously remarked: "The trouble with Oakland is that when you get there, there isn't any there there." 

Anyway, I don't know what the there here is, and neither do you.

ADDED: I really didn't know where the there there was. Oakland University is in Michigan, not in Stein's no-there-there Oakland, which was the one that's always there there in your head, the one in California.


1. Delightful on "60 Minutes."

2. In depth analysis of why her songs make people cry.

"Why are you giving this animal a platform?" said the commenter at the feminist website Feministe.

"There are three-and-a-half billion women on this planet with inspiring, thought-provoking stories and insights to share, and you choose instead to promote the self-serving rhetoric of a narcissistic sexual predator."
Oddly enough, this outrage came just days after Schwyzer had proclaimed his solidarity with the feminist movement by withdrawing from an online magazine called The Good Men Project. As its name suggests, the site was built around a simple question -- "What does it mean to be a good man?" -- and Schwyzer had welcomed the opportunity to preach his brand of feminism to a mostly male audience. But on December 14, 2011, the site's founder, Tom Matlack, published a piece called "Being a Dude Is a Good Thing" in which he argued that men and women were fundamentally different, and that women refused to "accept men for who they really are." It wasn't "ethically possible," [Hugo] Schwyzer wrote on his site, "to remain silent while the site with which I am now best associated took an increasingly anti-feminist stance."
And then Schwyzer was kicked off Feministe.

"Why America Keeps Getting More Conservative."

Despite that article title, Richard Florida — Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management — stresses that he's only identifying correlations to "the deep cleavages of income, education, and class that divide America."

Why is it, for example, that working class correlates to conservatism?
Conservative political affiliation is strongly positively correlated with the percentage of a state's workforce in blue-collar occupations (.73), and highly negatively correlated with the proportion of the workforce engaged in knowledge-based professional and creative work (-.61). Both are also associated with the tilt toward conservatism in the past year.
All these liberal, knowledge-based professionals ought to be able to apply their big brains to the puzzle of why the working class folk they'd like to think they champion.
The ongoing economic crisis only appears to have deepened America's conservative drift - a trend which is most pronounced in its least well off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states.
A deep drift, in the deep cleavage of America.

"'Eyes Gazing Into the Distance As If in Memory of Ages Past.'"

"The accidental poetry of American Kennel Club breed standards."

Oh, I wouldn't say "accidental."

AND: A quiz: "Westminster Champion or Line From Ginsberg’s 'Howl'?" Hint: McMagic’s Candied Ham of Pebbles Run is a dog. Starry Dynamo in the Machinery of Night is Ginsberg.

February 12, 2012

I'm glad The Grammys...

...  weren't too much about Whitney Houston dying. It wouldn't make any sense to overshadow Adele, whose night it was, who seems like a sweet person, who said "snot," which seemed to amuse the crowd immensely. I liked The Band Perry. Paul McCartney was okay, still slim and spry. Good of Springsteen to play with him in the end, on "The End." I was happy to see Brian Wilson still sitting upright... and Glenn Campbell able to remember the words as he journeys into the sunset of his life. Most of the music I could barely put up with. Lots of flashy lights. Costumes. Hugely long eyelashes. I know: It's for the kids. But this was the first time I'd ever watched The Grammys. Oddly enough. Wanted to see what they'd do about Whitney.

ADDED: And then there was Lady Gaga, always only in the audience, with her head encased in thick black netting. She didn't win anything last night, but she got to see — through that net — all the elaborate stage acts that seemed to want to be like her — notably Nicki Manaj — caught in her net. But it was Adele everyone likes now. The one lady standing center stage, emoting in music. I guess we'll be getting more of that, as the followers-on look to catch the next wave.

At the Winter Blues Café...

... shake off the cobalt and cerulean.

"Even in the nuthouse, they were afraid to take me in, because I’m Sinead O’Connor."

"It is a goldfish bowl... and I can’t get away from being me.... I want to be like any other person, but I’ll have to accept that I can’t be, because sometimes me being me hurts other people... It’s not fun anymore..."

Rick Santorum fails to recognize a quote — about "radical feminists" — from his own book.

Pushed, he says his wife wrote that part!

Oh, lord. He's taken to task over a passage in his 2005 book "It Takes a Family." And it's the passage that Jennifer Rubin brought up a couple days ago in her column in The Washington Post. Remember? We talked about it here.

How lame is it not to know what's in your own book... especially something that was just spotlighted in WaPo? And then to say my wife did it? Weak!

ADDED: Below is the colloquy in the transcript. Strangely, it doesn't seem to have the part where he attributes the writing to his wife. It's not in that passage, which seems to be the relevant passage, and I've run a search of the whole document for "wife" and "Karen" and found nothing. I'm now questioning the story at the link above, which is by Brian Knowlton in The New York Times. [UPDATE: More material has been added to the transcript, supporting Knowlton's article, and I'm expanding the material below, accordingly. I'll put the newly added material in italics so you can see what was missing.]

"How is it that activities we wouldn’t in a million years be roped into doing in real life... become strangely alluring online?"

"... paging through an acquaintance’s baby album, suffering through a relative’s slide show from Turkey...."
“I had to go on a vacation-photo diet,” admitted Laura Zigman, the novelist. “I had this bizarre, voyeuristic habit of scrolling through people’s travel photos online and then feeling like, Why haven’t I walked the Great Wall of China? And guilt: I should be taking my son to Spain. I don’t even like to travel!”
This feeling is kind of like nostalgia for a past that never existed. And it's really not just about the internet. You can feel nagged by envy for things you know you don't really want or you know aren't really the way the look in pictures. When I was younger, I used to look at TV ads for various products wielded by models who were great at feigning ecstasy. I wanted to be there, on the beach with those friends who are drinking Michelob and laughing at all the hilarious things they're saying to each other....

Oh, Facebook and Twitter are different. Those really are real people, but they're crafting an image. If they're any good at doing internet.

Sarah Palin gives a lively, animated performance at CPAC.

I watched this on TV last night and got a kick out of her hammy-but-sincere inflections. Bobby Jindal was good too:

"For justices in the center, I don't think they want to be on the wrong side of history" on same-sex marriage.

Says Stanford lawprof Pamela Karlan.
"Unless we see a massive about-face (in public attitudes), 25 years from now people will look back at this and wonder why (equal marriage rights) took so long.
Chapman University lawprof John Eastman says:
"I hope [Justice Kennedy] won't be swayed by shifting public opinion, assuming there is a shift".... If the law is supposed to change along with public attitudes, he said, "the political process is adequate to the task. We don't need the courts."
Speaking of law that is/isn't changing with shifting public attitudes, I can't help changing the subject to the Constitution's Free Exercise Clause and the current flap over contraception and insurance coverage. An awful lot of conservatives — with Rush Limbaugh leading the pack — are endeavoring to shape public opinion about the meaning of these rights. Either they are genuinely ignorant about the case law interpreting the Free Exercise Clause or they are doing the very thing they normally rail against: trying to make the Constitution "evolve" so it says what they'd like it to say. Here's Rush:
The right to religious liberty in this context is unequivocal in our country and in the Constitution. It's right there in the Bill of Rights. Since when does a president have the power to threaten to issue a rule gutting religious liberty?
It's absurd to declare there's no right to gay marriage in the Constitution and turn around and say the President's rule about contraception and insurance coverage violates some obvious "unequivocal" right in the Constitution. Have one theory of the Constitution and stick to it, clowns.
The First Amendment -- the Bill of Rights of the Constitution -- explicitly says that government shall have nothing to do with religion. You hear, do you not, the left constantly caterwauling, whining and moaning about "separation of church and state"? 
Now, he's reached the Establishment Clause, and suddenly he's an arch-separation-of-church-and-state guy.  Nice to trash "the left" for inconsistency, but what's more hypocritical than being inconsistent in order to trash the other guy for inconsistency?

I've been a law professor for a long time, so it's not as though this sort of thing shocks me. But I would like to help you see how much dishonesty/ignorance is on display here. What would Rush and the other conservatives who are riding this religious freedom issue say about religiously motivated pacifists who don't want to pay taxes that fund the military?

More Rush:
Whenever a religious Republican or conservative seeks political office [the left worries] about "the imposition of religious moral values on people," and say, "This is intolerable! This is intolerable. It's not permitted! It's a violation of the Constitution." So the left hates the Constitution when it's an impediment to what they want to do. When it supports what they want to do, they're the biggest constitutionalists in the world. 
And the right? They do the same damned thing.

"I’m tired of being accused of being anti-American... They call it class warfare... if anything, it’s warfare against people who have no class..."

Says Van Jones, "the former Obama Administration green czar who resigned in controversy, [who] appears on the fast track to a political comeback — emerging as a star at this weekend’s California Democratic convention and lauded by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as a 'leader of the future.'"
[Jones] argued that under-30 voters critical to Democratic successes in 2012 will find appealing “the idea that the people that already climbed that ladder (of success) will give something back.”...

Jones apologized for some of his actions, including signing a petition for 911Truth.org which appeared to suggest the Bush Administration “may indeed deliberately have allowed 9/11 to happen.”

"At the end of another song, Brown shouted 'I love you, Whitney!'..."

"... and blew a kiss to the sky, looking visibly teary."
Despite their volatile relationship, Houston told Oprah Winfrey in 2009, "I loved him so much...He was my drug. I didn't do anything without him."