February 25, 2012

Kites on ice, kids on marble.

Today on Lake Mendota, guys with kites (and sails) to pull skis (and sleds):



And in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda — a year after the protests — it looks like this:



The kids (and adults) are lying on the ground not because they sleep overnight there — like last year's protesters — but to gaze up into the dome.

A year ago today at the Wisconsin protests — signs and piles of personal belongings everywhere, even on the Veterans Memorial.

In the early morning hours, Democrats filibustered, and then Republicans suddenly, quickly took a vote, enraging the Democrats, who shout "Shame! Shame!"

Meade and I arrived at the Capitol midday, and I'm stunned at the signs taped everywhere, many more than there had been before. There are pillows and sleeping bags and other things piled up, and many people are sitting or lying on the floor.

DSC00300

As we walk around on the first floor, we find some protesters have pushed a table loaded with junk up against the back of the Veterans Memorial and have taped their various notices to the back of it and piled stuff up around its base. Meade insists that they move their table and take down those signs and tells them they are hurting their own cause by disrespecting the monument, and instead of simply apologizing, they defend their actions — they're using the back of the monument, and they are passionate about their cause — even as those who died in wars were passionate. Here's the 9-minute video, which were, for us, among the tensest moments of the protests:

"The fervor of the sixties penetrated law schools quite passionately."

Strikingly sexual imagery from a 2005 article called "Introduction to Clinical Legal Education" (which I'm reading in connection with my law school's "self-study" of its clinical program). (PDF.) Here's the quote in context:
During the second wave of clinical legal education - a period spanning from the 1960's through the late 1990's - clinical legal education solidified and expanded its foothold in the academy. The factors that contributed to this transformation included demands for social relevance in law school, the development of clinical teaching methodology, the emergence of external funding to start and expand clinical programs, and an increase in the number of faculty capable of and interested in teaching clinical courses. Perhaps the most powerful of these factors was the zeitgeist of the 60's, which produced "student demands for relevance." In reflecting on the growth and direction of clinical legal education, Professor Dean Hill Rivkin has noted: "It was the societal legacy of the sixties . . . that most shaped clinical legal education. The fervor of the sixties penetrated law schools quite passionately."
ADDED: Speaking of passionate fervor, I love Wikipedia. It has an article titled "Relevance." Excerpt:
During the 1960s, relevance became a fashionable buzzword, meaning roughly 'relevance to social concerns', such as racial equality, poverty, social justice, world hunger, world economic development, and so on. The implication was that some subjects, e.g., the study of medieval poetry and the practice of corporate law, were not worthwhile because they did not address pressing social issues.[citation needed]
Of course, that passage contains many links to other Wikipedia articles, including this one called "Social justice." Excerpt:
The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in 1840 based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and given further exposure in 1848 by Antonio Rosmini-Serbati.... It is a part of Catholic social teaching, the Episcopalians' Social Gospel, and is one of the Four Pillars of the Green Party upheld by green parties worldwide. Social justice as a secular concept, distinct from religious teachings, emerged mainly in the late twentieth century, influenced primarily by philosopher John Rawls. Some tenets of social justice have been adopted by those on the left of the political spectrum....
Ah! Religious roots. I note the resonance with Rick Santorum's observation that President Obama believes in "some phony theology." Sorry. The 60s penetrated me too passionately, and I've still got the fervor for relevance.

The Internet!

"Stated briefly, I will simply try to clarify what the debate over climate change is really about."

"It most certainly is not about whether climate is changing: it always is."
It is not about whether CO2 is increasing: it clearly is. It is not about whether the increase in CO2, by itself, will lead to some warming: it should. The debate is simply over the matter of how much warming the increase in CO2 can lead to, and the connection of such warming to the innumerable claimed catastrophes. The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal. The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest.
Professor Richard Lindzen, via Instapundit, who compares the global warming hysteria to Y2K.

ADDED: "Why the Climate Skeptics Are Winning/Too many of their opponents are intellectual thugs."
The Gleick episode exposes again a movement that disdains arguing with its critics, choosing demonization over persuasion and debate. A confident movement would face and crush its critics if its case were unassailable, as it claims.

Indoor mountain biking parks.

Very nice!
[Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park, b]uilt in the shell of a defunct 110,000-square-foot Menards home and lumber store [in Milwaukee], ... is a facsimile of the original Ray’s in Cleveland, which occupies the hulk of a World War II-era rayon and parachute factory.


Also at the link, the other winter biking option: fat bike:
“It’s like snowshoes for your bike,” [said Greg Smith of Milwaukee], explaining how the giant tires spread out over snow, sand and marshland. Until last winter, when Surly and Salsa, two Minnesota companies, began offering ready-to-ride fat bikes, the only option for true snow biking was to cobble together expensive parts.

"Seven Other Seinfeld Quotes That Apply to Mitt Romney."

Too easy?

"The vocabulary of class warfare may have begun on the left—a very socialist left..."

"... but in mainstream American politics it didn’t gain much traction until the Republicans took it up."
Framing the struggle as cultural and tribal rather than as economic, they proved to be more effective class warriors than the Democrats. Richard Nixon won over the “silent majority” by casting intellectuals, student radicals, and the media as enemies of those he awkwardly termed “the so-called unimportant people.” Ronald Reagan called out “welfare queens” for bilking the government. The Bushes brought down their opponents by igniting incipient racial and cultural resentments. Michael Dukakis fell to the vicious Willie Horton ad. The infamous Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry impugned his war heroism; an ad showing him windsurfing off Nantucket became an emblem of unseemly privilege.
 So what's Obama supposed to do?

"Caricature is the most evanescent and pedantic of the visual arts."

It's hard to look back.

"President Obama’s attempt to 'soften' U.S. immigration enforcement — in what has been widely viewed as an election-year appeal to Hispanic voters..."

"... has so far produced mixed results on both practical and political fronts, according to a new Syracuse University report and anecdotal accounts from immigrant advocates."

"I've tried to explain my belief that a man should not be 'buddies' with another man's wife, but my wife doesn't see it and says they’re just pals."

"At the conference my wife will essentially be 'dating' this guy for five days. I do trust my wife completely. But this guy is single... I’m annoyed that I will be home with the boys while she is on vacation with another man. I can't ask her not to go, and I can't join her. What can I do?"

Advice?

February 24, 2012

At the Ambulance Café...



... you can enhance your performance.

"The girls always make bad decisions and are always losers. Since I'm a girl, then I'm a loser!"

Maybe you shouldn't let your children watch this season of "Survivor," where they've divided males and females into separate tribes.

"The defendant’s acts were not a prank, they were not an accident and they were not a mistake."

"They were mean-spirited, they were malicious and they were criminal.”

"You gotta keep things in perspective... He might be stupid at times, but he was an 18-year-old boy and certainly not a criminal. There was no bullying...He’s not a bigot."

"This is my livelihood, this is my integrity, this is my character."

Said Ryan Braun. "This is everything I've worked for in my life being called into question."

A year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: "And if Scott Walker gets in our way, we're going to roll right over him.

Here's how it looked in the rotunda, as things we're getting a little nasty and surreal:



And a UW professor retires after after only 21 years to "protect" herself from "depressing and threatening" clauses in Governor Walker's bill.

People seem to be losing their bearings.

Kodokushi.

Lonely deaths.

"Dr. Seuss' The Lorax... has been licensed to advertise an SUV."

Oh, my.

Well, that's just terrible — melding this heavy-handed moralizing scold to a perfectly decent little Mazda.

Karen Santorum says she was against her husband's running for President, but finally decided it was "God's will."

WaPo reports:
Speaking in deeply spiritual terms, Karen Santorum said she had been reluctant to throw her support behind the idea because her husband’s failed 2006 Senate re-election campaign had been so brutal. Also, she said, her husband had become more involved with the family after leaving the Senate, and was even coaching Little League...
Karen Santorum has been largely behind the scenes during the campaign, busy in part taking care of the couple’s youngest child, Bella, who suffers from a terminal disorder.
But God must want the children's father out on the road, pouring his life's energy into a quest for power. Just when he was getting more involved with the family, coaching Little League, faced with the terribly ill baby, he got called away. But through prayer, you can ground yourself in faith that these things all happen for a reason. There are other men offering their services to the country, men with grown children, but God wants Rick out there too, vying for the top spot.

"I have these other aspects of my life that no one knows about. I’m an artist. I’m a musician."

"Nobody knows that... They just see me at the guy who tried to kill Reagan.”
In the wake of last year’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by accused gunman Jared Loughner, John Hinckley asked one of his therapists, “Wow. Is that how people see me?”

"Michigan GOP Primary: Romney 40%, Santorum 34%."

Rasmussen's new poll, conducted yesterday — that is, the day after the last debate. The margin of error is +/-4.

"Sarah Palin’s top aides held a conference call to denounce the forthcoming HBO movie 'Game Change'..."

"... which like any ultraliberal media production, knocks Palin as a mentally imbalanced moron. Reporters are already underlining the Palin aides haven’t seen the movie."

Already?

Somebody sounds mentally unbalanced.

"The photographs are not self-portraits but rather depictions of invented personas and tableaus..."

"... shot in her studio without the help of any assistants, costume designers or hair and make-up experts."

"Mr. Blow may attempt to delete that Tweet..."

But Jim Geraghty has preserved the Mormon-bashing outburst of the NYT columnist.
One of your columnists responds to a comment he does not like, from a Mormon presidential candidate, and responds, “Stick that in your magic underwear.”...

We just witnessed ESPN firing an employee for using the phrase “chink in the armor” in a headline about the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin. While no one could prove a desire to mock Lin’s ethnic heritage, and the employee expressed great regret for what he insisted was an unthinking lapse, it was deemed unacceptable even as an honest mistake. Regardless of what one thinks of ESPN’s reaction, one is left to marvel at the contrast before us. Would the New York Times find it acceptable if one of their columnists chose to mock Muslim religious practices? Jewish faith practices?
You want the counter-argument? That we should mock religion?  Nobody does it better than The Crack Emcee.

When Satan set his sights on America, the place were he was "most successful and first successful was in academia."

Said Rick Santorum in that 2008 speech at Ava Maria University. I've lived in that purported stronghold of Satan for the last quarter century, so that caught my attention.
He understood the pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were, in fact, smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different. Pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they're smart. And so academia, a long time ago, fell.

And you say "what could be the impact of academia falling?" Well, I would have the argument that the other structures that I'm going to talk about here had root of their destruction because of academia. Because what academia does is educate the elites in our society, educates the leaders in our society, particularly at the college level. And they were the first to fall.

And so what we saw this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being educated in our institutions, the next was the church.
Interesting that he said "domino effect" while speaking at Ave Maria University and saying that Satan has reached into academia and the church. Ave Maria University was founded with the fortune that Tom Monaghan made selling Domino Pizza. Exactly how deep does this Satanic plot go? All the way back to Ypsilanti in 1960 when Tom and his brother bought that small pizza store. I have lived in Ypsilanti. I know Ypsilanti. I have seen the mark of the devil in Ypsilanti. The Domino's Pizza logo has 3 dots. They were going to add dots for each store that they opened, but they stopped at 3, the number of stores they had in 1969, when the logo was designed. The company headquarters is in Ann Arbor, the location of the University of Michigan, where I arrived in 1969. Was the Devil digging his hoofs into academia, beginning right there and then? I'm no expert at numerology, but I can't help noticing that if you take the 1 in 1969, grip it tightly, and knock the two 9s over, you get 666.

But here's where my blood ran cold. I said "Oh, Lord!" out loud. (Causing Meade to say: "Lord? The Dark Lord?!") I was reading on in the above-linked Wikipedia article on Domino's Pizza, and I came to this:
In 1998, after 38 years of ownership, Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan announced his retirement and sold 93 percent of the company to Bain Capital, Inc. for about $1 billion and ceased being involved in day-to-day operations of the company.
Bain Capital! The bane of our existence!
To say that something or someone is "the bane of my existence" means that the person or thing is a constant irritant or source of misery. As a cliché, "bane of my existence" has lost its edge to a large degree over the years...

But "bane" was once a very serious word.  The Old English "bana" meant literally "slayer" in the sense we now use "killer" or "murderer."  Early on, the English "bane" was also used in the more general sense of "cause of death," and by the 14th century "bane" was used in the specialized sense of "poison," a sense which lives on in the names of various poisonous plants such as "henbane" and "wolfbane."
Connect the dots, people! The dots. Not just the 3 dots in the Domino's Pizza logo. There were many more dots, but they withheld them from the logo. They didn't want you to see that many dots. You must struggle to see the dots before you can even hope to connect them. Bain/Bane Capital is reaching everywhere, into our pizza, into our university. It was Bain's billion that built Ave Maria University where Santorum came to deliver his warning about Satan in academia. And now we have the 2 men left standing. Santorum, who is warning us, and Romney — r omney/r money/our money — who is the Bain/Bane of our existence. We've lost Cain — Cain ≠ Bain — a man — her man — who rose like Ave Maria, out of pizza. But it was Godfather Pizza. God the Father's pizza, not the Satanic 3-dots pizza.

Connect the dots! Find all the dots and connect them, lest Satan's already successful plot further succeed, perhaps vaulting the baneful Romney to the Presidency! But, oh, you say, Althouse is herself an academic. She is swollen with the pride of smart people, and therefore vulnerable to Satan's depredations, pleased to offer up something new and different, tantalizing us with new truths, denying the existence of truth, playing with truth because she's so smart.

Close the box — that 3-dot box — on the melted cheesy atrocity. Move along, smart people. There's nothing see here. Look, over there. It's Mitt, that terribly handsome man. Hail, President Romney!

Why did Rick Santorum deliver a yank-your-arm-out-of-its-shoulder-socket handshake to Ron Paul?

At the end of the debate on Wednesday. Video at the link, where the headline reads "Ron Paul Fans Outraged At Hearty Post-Debate Handshake." I watched the video, and you don't have to be a Ron Paul fan to be outraged. I had to wonder about Santorum's sanity. That wasn't just a hearty handshake. That was... evil. There is evil in the world. Could it be... Satan?

Hey, Rick. Take a lesson from a master:



IN THE COMMENTS: Chip Ahoy said:
Ron Paul was ready for Santorum at the fifty-seventh debate and wore a prop rubber arm. At the end of the debate when Santorum vigorously shook Ron Paul's prop arm it warbled and stretched right out of the jacket sleeve. Ron Paul yelled "Ow! WTF, you freak?!" The rubber arm snapped back and 2% of Santorum's vote flowed over to Ron Paul in repulsion to the aggression but in a twist 1% of Ron Paul's votes and 3% of Gingrich's votes, and 2% of Romney's votes flowed to Santorum because those voters thought the sight of pulling out Ron Paul's arm was awesome.

By the time the fifty-eighth debate rolled around Ron Paul's supporters had fashioned an electrified arm to use on Santorum at the end of the debate but that was detected at the debate entrance and viewers were denied the chance of seeing Santorum electrified by his own aggressive handshake.
And perhaps for the 59th debate, the prop arm might pull out altogether, creating an image something like the animation Chip made for us yesterday, when we were trying to understand not Satan, but Mammon (one of the 7 princes of Hell), and a painting by Evelyn De Morgan called "The Worship of Mammon" had a strangely meaningful extended arm. The illuminating animation:



And the lesson we learn, at long last? The man who gives an extremely vigorous, super-macho handshake — what is it, really, that he is afraid of?

Finally, some snow...



... as I sit down to the morning's blogging.

February 23, 2012

Russ Feingold's new book has a title that's so right wing... and I mean 1960s right wing.

"While America Sleeps."

Freaky!

Will living alone — without "social checks and balances" — make you too eccentric?

This is one of these NYT lifestyle articles with anecdotes about women who do things like leaving their bra on the kitchen table. Then there's the woman who wears "this pair of white flax bloomers that go down to my knee. They’re like pantaloons. They’re so weird." She never lets anyone see them. "No, no... That would be the height of intimacy..." And yet, she's telling us all about them. She also "grazes on nuts and seeds."
What emerges over time, for those who live alone, is an at-home self that is markedly different — in ways big and small — from the self they present to the world. 
Until they're interviewed by the NYT. Then they present that self to the world.

Oh, well... anyway... I enjoyed reading this article, because I had this attitude myself as a woman living alone, and it's an attitude that curls back on itself and makes you think you have these special freedoms that would hurt too much to sacrifice. Here I am, expressing myself on the subject in the summer of 2008:



In the summer of 2009, I would get married, after learning that I really can be myself and be free in the constant presence of another human being. I had no idea!

"The gradual yellowing of the lens and the narrowing of the pupil that occur with age disturb the body’s circadian rhythm..."

With age, it becomes more important to open our eyes to bright sunlight.

Leave the sunglasses off, and you will sleep better, think better, and feel better.

Ryan Braun becomes the first baseball player — as far as we know — to win an appeal after a positive drug test.

These things aren't supposed to be public, so there may have been other cases:
The panel consisted of Shyam Das, baseball’s independent arbitrator; Michael Weiner, the head of baseball’s players union; and Rob Manfred, the head of labor relations for Major League Baseball and the baseball official who has presided over the sport’s evolving drug-testing program during the last decade.

It was Das who cast the deciding vote to exonerate Braun and it was Manfred who angrily weighed in with his own statement shortly after the appeal was officially upheld.

“Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das,” the statement read in part.
Braun argued that the test results were flawed, and MLB has a huge stake in the integrity of its procedures.

I love Braun and I'm celebrating the outcome, but I hate to think MLB is screwing up the testing. Do you think Braun got away with something, or do you think the test might have gone wrong and that what happened to Braun suggests that some of the other players were punished as a result of flawed tests?

The man who published all those dirty books... and turned down "Lord of the Rings" because he "couldn’t understand a word."

Barney Rosset, of Grove Press and Evergreen Review, dead now at 89.
Besides publishing [Samuel] Beckett, he brought early exposure to European writers like Eugène Ionesco and Jean Genet and gave intellectual ammunition to the New Left by publishing Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”...

He defied censors in the 1960s by publishing D. H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer," ultimately winning legal victories that opened the door to sexually provocative language and subject matter in literature published in the United States. He did the same thing on movie screens by importing the sexually frank Swedish film “I Am Curious (Yellow).”
Grove Press also published "Naked Lunch" and "The Story of O." And Evergreen Review published Allen Ginsberg's "Howl."

What a great free speech hero! Thanks, Barney! RIP.

"If you have freedom of speech, you have freedom of speech," he said.

"Former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter said Thursday that Rick Santorum got his facts wrong..."

"... when he said that he endorsed Specter only after securing a promise that Specter would support GOP Supreme Court nominees."

Santorum, last night:
"I said will you support the president's nominees? We had a 51-to-49 majority in the Senate. He said, 'I'll support the president's nominees as chairman.'"
Specter, today:
"He is not correct. I made no commitment to him about supporting judges... I made no deal."

So... was Santorum destroyed at last night's debate?

That's what I heard.

A year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: a camel was tormented by "The Daily Show" and Gov. Walker was pranked with a phone call.

Here's my post about the "Daily Show"'s nauseating exploitation of a camel here in Wisconsin. (But look here to see some good "Daily Show" coverage of the protests from 2/22/11.)

Here's what I had to say about the phone call, in which someone pretended to be David Koch:
Walker opponents would love to make something of this phone call, but all they have are a few over-the-line things the Koch impersonator said like "You gotta crush that union." Walker just ignores that stuff and goes on with his standard points, which is probably the standard strategy that most politicians use when people interact with them....

Doesn't this prank call prove that Scott Walker is not close to Koch? He doesn't recognize his voice! He doesn't drift into a more personal style of speech. He treats him like a generic political supporter.
There was a big "teach-in" at the UW Law School.

Chip unlocks a dirty visual secret.

"That painting is subversively pornographic. It's shocking my eyeballs."

Later:
See what I mean.

I was going to make her head bob and then I thought, no, you must consider the children. And then I thought, if I would make the head bob then I might learn where it is that Photobucket is drawing the line about taking down my stuff. Since they never tell me.
Wow! I haven't seen such a convincing animation since Rathergate.

IN THE COMMENTS: t-man corrects:
That's a dude, Chip, not a woman.

"When should knowing lies be restrictable on the ground that they cause emotional distress?"

Eugene Volokh paraphrases the question the Supreme Court Justices were asking yesterday, as they considered whether the Stolen Valor Act violates the First Amendment. Volokh opines:
[T]he potential chilling effect on true speech of punishing the lies about oneself (a matter on which one should rarely fear an honest mistake that could be misinterpreted as a deliberate lie) is less than the potential chilling effect on true speech of punishing lies about others. So this is one of the things that leads me to think that the Stolen Valor Act should be upheld....

Self-medicating with alcohol...

... by fruit flies.

"Irish call for apology following 'Drunk Vomiting Shamrocks' clothing line."

"Urban Outfitters' St. Patrick's Day products, including a trucker’s cap illustrated with a drunk vomiting shamrocks and a 'Leprechaun P***' beer jug have, angered the Irish community in the United States and Ireland."

Thinking about Mr. Kruger.

My son John was live-blogging the GOP debate last night:
8:08 - Mitt Romney cuts short his own introduction: "As George Costanza would say, when they're applauding, stop." [UPDATE: Jason (the commenter) points out that Romney was referring to this episode of Seinfeld:
At the coffee shop, George laments to Jerry about losing respect at a project meeting led by Mr. Kruger after following a good suggestion with a bad joke. . . . At the next Kruger meeting, George takes Jerry's suggestion and actually leaves the room after a well-received joke.]
Here's something that happened on Monday, but appeared in the news late last night:
[Daniel von Bargen, "best known for his role as Mr. Kruger on 'Seinfeld,'"] was in critical condition Wednesday after shooting himself in the head in an apparent failed suicide attempt.

Paramedics went to the 61-year-old actor’s Cincinnati, Ohio, apartment Monday after he called 911, saying, “I’ve shot myself in the head ... and I need help,”...

"The boiling of millions of penguins on a remote Antarctic island triggered one of the first international wildlife campaigns."

"A century on, DNA analysis proves it has been a success. Now, Macquarie Island's king penguins must face rampaging rabbits."

Boiled penguins. Rampaging rabbits. I'm deep into the science news this morning.

"The shocking result that neutrinos apparently travelled from Switzerland to Italy faster than the speed of light..."

"... may have been due to a malfunctioning fibre-optic cable, says OPERA, the Italian collaboration of physicists that made the first, surprising claim."

"A 99-year-old Italian man is divorcing his wife of 77 years after he stumbled across letters she had written to a secret lover in the 1940s."

"The 96-year-old woman, identified in court papers as Rosa C., reportedly confessed to having an affair 60 years ago, and then tried desperately to persuade her hubby to stay.... Once the divorce is finalized, the pair could take the record for world’s oldest divorcees."

"Gay hair stylist drops New Mexico governor as client because she opposes same-sex marriage."

Is there anything wrong with that?

"A Rhode Island teen is learning that it pays to deny the existence of God..."

"... Prominent atheists plan to present Jessica Ahlquist with a scholarship of at least $44,000 — and possibly more."

If you subsidize something, you'll get more of it. Come on, atheists — pass out more money!

You cannot serve God and Mammon.

Come on, Mammon: Make a better offer.

Who the hell is "Mammon" anyway? Here's where Wikipedia is so fine. You just know, even before you look, there will be a whole article on mammon, and the question that's been dogging you since the first time you read the Gospel of Matthew will finally get a solid answer:
Mammon is a term, derived from the Christian Bible, used to describe material wealth or greed, most often personified as a deity, and sometimes included in the seven princes of Hell....

The Christians began to use the name of Mammon as a pejorative, a term that was used to describe greed, avarice, and unjust worldly gain in Biblical literature. It was personified as a false god in the New Testament.... The term is often used to refer to excessive materialism or greed as a negative influence....

Mammon is somewhat similar to the Greek god Plutus, and the Roman Dis Pater, in his description, and it is likely that he was at some point based on them; especially since Plutus appears in The Divine Comedy as a wolf-like demon of wealth, wolves being associated with greed in the Middle Ages. Thomas Aquinas metaphorically described the sin of Avarice as "Mammon being carried up from Hell by a wolf, coming to inflame the human heart with Greed".
Satan was the big topic yesterday. I've moved on to Mammon.

Wisconsin redistricting: If the Voces de la Frontera get what they want, the Hispanics for Leadership will sue.

"Zeus Rodriguez said the Leadership group believes the GOP’s maps will help Latinos, not hurt them...."
One of the GOP’s districts at issue is just under 50 percent Hispanic, while another is just over 40 percent. Rodriguez says that’s enough to influence voters to choose Hispanic lawmakers in both districts.

February 22, 2012

A year ago at the Wisconsin protests: Jesse Jackson — with Tammy Baldwin at his side — held court in the Capitol.

Meade followed them about (and I edited his video):



By the way, we have much more video of these 2 moving about in the crowd, interacting with people. Meade followed them around for a long time.

And here are some of Meade's stills from that day — for example, a sign reading "If you voted for Walker, then you voted for Nazism."

Meanwhile, the Democratic senators were hiding out in Illinois.

The GOP debate tonight.

Any impressions? We just got home from dinner and are catching up, via DVR.

"What I’d love to see at tonight’s debate..."

"... Ashes."

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob says:
Get real. They have to wear stage makeup for the debate, so if Santorum is wearing ashes for the event, it means he either had an aide prepare ashes for it, or has a priest backstage.

"Nice work, squirrels."

"Oh, and scientists."

The new diet idea: breakfast with dessert.

"During an initial 16-week period, the average weight loss in each group was identical — about 32 pounds. But over a 16-week follow-up, people on the dessert-with-breakfast diet lost an additional 13 pounds on average, while the others gained back all but 3.5 of the pounds they had lost."

Ah! It's about ghrelin. How strange to run into that immediately after getting my attention directed, once again, to the subject of first sleep, second sleep, which I originally captivated me in 2006. I had just read this other blog post of mine from the last day of 2006, "The two most useful health stories of the year." The second one was first sleep, second sleep, and the first one was ghrelin:
This one, explaining why your brain will be sharper if you stay a bit hungry. Maybe you've been trying to lose weight, but feeling that it's always important to stave off any feeling of hunger, for fear you might become weak or dim-witted. No! The opposite is true. We evolved to perform especially well when we feel the need for food. Sate yourself, and you'll be duller. Using this information, invent a better weight-loss diet.
Now, that's the diet idea of staying hungry, not topping off breakfast with cookies or ice cream. But I like the freaky coincidence of 2 old topics popping up today in succession, like twin comets on a 6 year orbit.

Another funny thing is that, back when I first learned about first sleep, second sleep, I wrote a post at 2:27 a.m., talking about how I was between sleeps and worrying about raking my leaves before the snows came and ruined my lawn and imagining how if the lawn were ruined it would give me reason to hire people next year to "make it thickly plush, satisfyingly level, and shockingly green." And then there's Meade, in the first comment, at 3:32 a.m., also between sleeps, advising me about how to re-green the lawn. How nice that these days, when I'm caught between sleeps, Meade is here in the flesh.

The article I'd read back in 2006 said:
This time after the first sleep was praised as uniquely suited for sexual intimacy; rested couples have "more enjoyment" and "do it better," as one 16th-century French doctor wrote.
The time after second sleep is also good for many things, including breakfast alone or with your true love, with or without dessert.

First sleep, second sleep.

I've written about this subject before. In 2006, I was amazed: "That's not insomnia, that's the natural sleep pattern breaking through!"
I'm fascinated by the idea of valuing this wakeful interlude by engaging in activities that, for one reason or another, are done especially well in an hour between two sleeps.
But here's a new article on the subject at BBC.com that a reader pointed out, and it made me want to revive the subject:
"For most of evolution we slept a certain way," says sleep psychologist Gregg Jacobs. "Waking up during the night is part of normal human physiology."

The idea that we must sleep in a consolidated block could be damaging, he says, if it makes people who wake up at night anxious, as this anxiety can itself prohibit sleeps and is likely to seep into waking life too.

Russell Foster, a professor of circadian [body clock] neuroscience at Oxford, shares this point of view.

"Many people wake up at night and panic," he says. "I tell them that what they are experiencing is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern."
When I first heard about this back in 2006, I thought it might "change my way of living":
I have been thinking that it's just terrible to go to bed as early as 9 only to wake up and see that it's midnight. I've thought that it's important to stay up late enough that you won't just be taking what turns out to be merely a nap, a sleep snack that spoils my appetite for a full meal of sleep. Now, I'm going to think, it's time for first sleep. On waking at midnight, instead of thinking, oh, no, there's no way I can start the day this early if I can't get back to sleep. I'm going to think it's a valuable opportunity, use the time, and feel confident about the arrival of the wholly natural and not at all weird second sleep.
Ah! But I did not change my way of living. And just last night, I encountered and experienced as a problem the very thing I was going to reconceptualize as a valuable opportunity. How fortuitous to have this reminder today!

"If [Gleick's] judgement is this bad, how is his judgement on matters of science?"

"For that matter, what about the judgement of all the others in the movement who apparently see nothing worth dwelling on in his actions? When skeptics complain that global warming activists are apparently willing to go to any lengths–including lying–to advance their worldview, I’d say one of the movement’s top priorities should be not proving them right."

Satanorum, can we ignore 'im?

Everybody's talking about Satan, Satan and Santorum. I tried to ignore 'em. Back in 2008, Santorum said:
"This is a spiritual war. And the father of lies has his sights on what you would think the father of lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country — the United States of America... If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age?"
Satan?!!



Now, Santorum's saying pay no attention to that Ruler of Demons, that Prince of the Power of the Air, that Spirit That Now Worketh in the Children of Unbelief, that Dragon, that Tempter, that Beelzebub.
"You know, I'm a person of faith. I believe in good and evil," he told reporters following a rally here. "I think if somehow or another because you're a person of faith you believe in good and evil is a disqualifier for president we're going to have a very small pool of candidates who can run for president."...

"If they want to dig up old speeches of me talking to religious groups, they can go ahead and do so, but I'm going to stay on message and I'm going to talk about things that Americans want to talk about which is creating jobs, making our country more secure, and yeah, taking on the forces around his [sic] world who want to do harm to America, and you bet I will take them on"....
Oddly enough, if I were Satan — and it's Santorum who pushed me into this flight of fancy — that's exactly what I would tell my followers to say if they were challenged about whether I'd set my sights on America. I'd say any references to me are merely colorful ways of expressing the abstraction of evil, and now, let's get back to what everyone really wants to talk about: how to get more jobs, more wealth and material goods, for the the people of America.

ADDED: "... taking on the forces around his world..." Is that a typo or did he say "his"? And if he said "his," who is he

James Taranto has a question and a prediction about social conservatism.

The question:
If liberal baby boomers stubbornly refuse to see the damage that their idea of "progress" has wrought, what about younger generations, for whom the sexual revolution was an inheritance, not a choice, and therefore perhaps not an essential component of personal identity, even among those on the left?
The prediction:
Even if Rick Santorum is not the next president, and even if Barack Obama crushes him in the general election (the latter, though not the former, is a big if), social conservatism will continue to grow in size and importance over the next couple of decades. That is to say, if Santorum loses, it will be in part because he is ahead of his time.
And speaking of James Taranto, I don't think he gets enough appreciation for the diligent work he (or some assistant) does cranking out comedy, day after day, based on headlines. So let me give him some. This made me laugh out loud:
Unappreciated Comic Book Heroes

"Tenant Allegedly Tapes Super Sodomizing Dog"--headline, Journal News (White Plains, N.Y.), Feb. 18
Isn't comedy like that inconsistent with social conservatism?  I don't know. I'm a baby boomer and a social liberal. I am Taranto's demons. And speaking of demons, it's time for me to do my post about Santorum and Satan. I'm calling it: Satanorum, can we ignore 'im?

Wisconsin Republican legislators — in federal court — argue that state constitutional law forbids redrawing the election districts they drew last year.

The case, brought by Democrats and Voces de la Frontera (an immigrant rights group), is before a 3-judge panel (at the trial level), and yesterday, with the trial about to begin, the panel had "asked both sides to spend the day determining whether lawmakers would consider drawing new maps that would address the plaintiff's concerns."
Presiding Judge J.P. Stadtmueller explained the request by citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court case that said redistricting is best left up to the lawmakers, not judges.
It was at that point that the Republicans grounded their position on state law. I doubt if they want to move the lines, but you can see why it's an appealing argument to say the state constitution doesn't permit it.
Attorney Daniel Kelly said a 1954 ruling by the state Supreme Court established that new voter maps can be drawn only once every 10 years, to avert a never-ending stream of calls for fresh changes.

An attorney for the plaintiffs disagreed. State law only requires that new voter maps be completed in the first legislative session, attorney Douglas Poland said, and this first legislative session hasn't ended.
Now, you've got a disputed question of state law, which the federal panel could attempt to resolve, except it's not part of resolving the legal questions presented in the case, it has to do with the panel's effort to push the parties into settlement, which, it seems, the panel suggested because of the weakness of the federal claim.

What is that federal claim? It seems to be about legislative secrecy: the public didn't get enough information about what was going on in the legislature.
Bills to redraw voting boundaries for state legislative districts, congressional districts and municipalities -- allegedly in ways skewed to benefit Republicans -- were introduced last July 11. The bills promptly passed the GOP-controlled Legislature and were signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker.

Republicans in the Legislature produced completed maps before inviting any public comment. And now it's emerged that GOP lawmakers signed secrecy agreements regarding the process, stirring fresh controversy and potential legal challenges.

"The state redistricting map is rotten and the process by which it passed is rotten," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, a Latino advocacy group whose federal lawsuit challenging the maps brought the secrecy pacts to light. The Legislature, she said at a Feb. 8 press conference, "willfully shut out any public opinion."
I haven't been following the lawsuit, but, just looking at the report this morning, I do not understand what the federal claim is supposed to be. Why is this case going to trial? It sounds like a purely political dispute, and perhaps the 3-judge panel got cold feet yesterday, when the trial was supposed to begin.

February 21, 2012

"I keep my door open. Anyone can come in and see everything I have."



(Via Metafilter.)

At the Spring Primary Café...



... cast your vote.

Talk about anything you want, but this was what it looked like at our polling place... on the first day where the new Wisconsin voter I.D. applied:
Election officials reported no problems enforcing the new law....

With April's elections are expected to be much bigger, especially with a presidential primary on the ballot, Tuesday's sparse ballot provided local officials a more relaxed rollout to the new law requiring all voters show a photo ID before getting a ballot.
I enjoyed showing my I.D. for the first time, and I took the opportunity to ask the poll workers if there had been any I.D.-related troubles. I was told that there was one woman who'd forgotten her I.D., but she cast a provisional ballot, which will become official when she comes back with her I.D.

A year ago today at the Wisconsin protests, things had drifted from the Walker budget to more generic left-wing causes.

It was no longer apparent that the protesters were mostly Wisconsin school teachers. There were more UW students and teaching assistants.

"The crowd was a bit thinner," inside the Capitol. "Lots of drumming." The sound of vuvuzela. Outside, there are some marchers. It's a bit wan. It's a Monday.

The teachers prepare to go back to school, and there are intimations that the schoolkids will be drawn into the controversy. "I  can't believe people who are fighting to preserve their job benefits would even think to appropriate the children this way. It's mind boggling."

"What Obama Should Say About the Texas Affirmative Action Case."

Richard Kahlenberg observes that Fisher v. Texas, the case the Supreme Court just agreed to hear, is "potentially perilous for America’s first black president, politically speaking."
The best thing the Supreme Court could do is make universities focus on the looming class divide in higher education. Racial affirmative action rarely benefits low-income and working class students; one study found that 86 percent of African-Americans at selective colleges are middle or upper-middle class....

Polls by the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek have found that Americans oppose racial preferences in college admissions by 2:1 but favor income preferences by the same margin. The facts in the University of Texas case are tailor-made for President Obama to help the Democratic Party transition from supporting affirmative action based on race to preferences based on class. It’s not whether we should have affirmative action or whether we shouldn’t, it’s what kind of affirmative action should we stress: race-based or race-neutral?

Although Obama’s Justice Department sided with Texas in the lower courts, the president has himself always sent mixed messages about affirmative action, even suggesting that his own daughters do not deserve preference in college admission. And throughout his administration, Obama has wisely taken pains to avoid policies that smack of racial favoritism. When he came under pressure to address black unemployment, for example, Obama declared: “I can’t pass laws that say I’m just helping black folks. I’m the president of the United States.” Of course, affirmative action can be framed as a policy that helps nonminorities too, because the education of white students is enriched when colleges are racially and ethnically diverse. 
Yeah, that's pretty much the theory the Supreme Court used in Grutter.
But it’s not clear how well that argument still washes with the public. And Obama has gained in the polls as he has pivoted toward economic populism in anticipation of a likely race against Mitt Romney and all his many millions. If the president uses the Texas case to side with class-based affirmative action, and low-income and working-class people of all races, he will solidify the populist case he’s trying to make.
So, Obama could abandon affirmative action — a liberal cause for decades — and make it all about class. Abandon all the resonance he might get with the ideal of racial equality and sound the theme of economic justice — or, as the conservatives love to say, redistribution of the wealth and socialism.

Is that the best bet for Obama? He could also express respect for the rule of law and the institution that is the Supreme Court and make us worry about the current personnel and who's going to be appointing the next couple Justices.

Here's where it's really going to matter that Samuel Alito has replaced Sandra Day O'Connor.

The Supreme Court just granted cert. in an affirmative action case:
The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to consider whether the University of Texas at Austin has the right to consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. Those bringing the case hope the Supreme Court will restrict or even eliminate the right of colleges to consider race in admissions – a prerogative last affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2003 in a case involving the University of Michigan’s law school.
O'Connor was the 5th vote — joining 4 liberal Justices — to accept the use of race as a factor in admissions.

Verifying the signatures on the Scott Walker recall petitions.

According to email from the Verify the Recall effort, "over 13,000 volunteers" — typing in the data from scanned petitions — are "78% of the way through the 152,000 pages."
Scott Walker has signed his own petition 4 TIMES so far!
His wife Karen only signed it twice!
Yes, there will be some fake names on the petitions. (Walker's wife's name is Tonette, and "Karen Walker" sounds like a common name, so I'm presuming the name had Walker's actual address, or that exclamation point is very annoying.)

From the website:
We've built a system that will check the submitted signatures and give a full account of the findings - but first over one million petition signatures must be entered into the database so that the information can be analyzed for duplicate entries, false names or addresses, and other errant data.
I'm surprised they concede there are "over one million petition signatures." That's the claim the signature-gatherers made, but I doubt that anyone has counted the signatures... or even the pages. 152,000 is too round of a number. I'll bet they measured the stacks of pages and multiplied by some number of pages they believed were in any given inch. Moreover, if you divide a million by 152,000 you get 6.58. The individual pages have 10 lines, but not all lines are necessarily filled out. They must have estimated 7 signatures per page and multiplied to get to "over 1 million." I'd like to know how many signatures there really are, first, and then it's a matter of challenging bad signatures. Since only about 540,000 signatures are needed, there's an effort to make us think the exact numbers don't matter, because there are twice as many as needed. But that's propaganda for the recall, and it's important for the people to know that the procedure is fair and accurate. Give us the truth.

Meanwhile:
[Dane County Judge Richard Niess] denied Gov. Scott Walker's second request for more time to review signatures on his recall petitions, leaving a Feb. 27 deadline in place.
That means Walker is getting 30 days to review the material, including keying in the data (with thousands of volunteers).
Walker's attorneys claimed, "the potential margin of error found by the campaign committee to date (excluding the search for duplicates) was between 10 and 20 percent."
That was a statement made after 25% of that data was keyed in.
Judge Niess decided that with that margin of error there is "little likelihood" that enough signatures will be flagged to stop the recall.
Won't the rate of finding duplicates increase as the data entry approaches 100%? And, again, do we  know how many signatures there actually are? I don't believe they've ever been counted. As Democrats used to say during the old Bush v. Gore controversy, "count all the [signatures]."
The state Democratic Party said in a statement that it hoped Niess's ruling would end Walker's "heinous attempt to avoid accountability," and stop the governor's defenders from "smear(ing) what was a miracle of democracy."
Heinous. Smear. Miracle. Here's my advice to the Democratic Party: Don't declare yourself to be a "miracle" and don't call your opposition "heinous." There is a process here, and you want people to respect the steps you've taken in the process. Be circumspect, and do everything you can to convince the people of Wisconsin that the process is sound.

Rushing along the thousands of people who are working at typing in the handwritten names and addresses makes you seem as though you're trying to prevent people from finding errors. You should calmly and virtuously invite the other side to check your work carefully. Portray the petitions as the result of diligent work that realistically demonstrates what the people of Wisconsin want. Not a "miracle."

As you seek to wrest power away from the man the people gave it to in the last election, try to look like competent managers who can be trusted to handle the state's serious business. Not like childish enthusiasts who infuse politics with a misplaced religious fervor.

ADDED: If you live in Dane County, you might want to vote in the primary elections today, which include one circuit judge position. Here's the League of Women Voters website with candidate's answers to various questions.

How could you be lost in the Cozumel jungle for 19 days?

I love the TV show "I Shouldn't Be Alive," but the new episode, which has a man wandering into the jungle on Cozumel and unable to bumble his way out of it for 19 days was just ridiculous. The show inserted aerial views of the jungle, with voiceover narration intended to make it seem really scary, but Cozumel is an island. It's 30 miles north-south and 9.9 miles east-west. The shots were framed to exclude the shoreline which encircled the area where he was lost.

The man knew he was on an island, and he could see the sun. Pick a direction, preferably east or west, and — even if you can only cover a mile a day — you'll get to the shore (or a road) within 5 days or so. What was really going on here? He seemed like a nice person. In the end, he said what he'd learned was to be kinder to people. But I'm not inclined to be kind to the TV hacks who wrote the script making his story into an "I Shouldn't Be Alive" as if it's the terrible jungle of Cozumel that should have killed him. It was incomprehensible stupidity/insanity that nearly got him.

Because of the importance of clarity in a debate with muddied waters, Peter Gleick admits that he muddied the waters in the interest of clarifying muddied waters.

This is rich:
... I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute's climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute's apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document....

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else's name....
And then he mixed it all up together for our delectation. Mmmm. Taste it: the Real-and-Fake cocktail. Much better than straight real, which is quite bland. No kick! And "climate change" is so very, very important.

Soccer moms, the Macarena, Bob Dole, and Rules Girls.

You know why they're together? Right, they are the "four strange phenomena, inextricably linked, that will forever be associated with 1996."

Somehow, we're still talking about soccer moms, which is the title of the Wikipedia article I was reading when I came across that link.
The term came into widespread use near the time of the 1996 Republican National Convention. The first use of the term in a news article about that election appeared in the July 21, 1996 edition of The Washington Post. E. J. Dionne, the article's author, quoted Alex Castellanos (at the time a senior media advisor to Bob Dole) suggesting that Bill Clinton was targeting a voting demographic whom Castellanos called the "soccer mom." The soccer mom was described in the article as "the overburdened middle income working mother who ferries her kids from soccer practice to scouts to school." The article suggested that the term soccer mom was a creation of political consultants. Castellanos was later quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying "She's the key swing consumer in the marketplace, and the key swing voter who will decide the election."
Clinton, of course, won the election, perhaps because he wrapped those "soccer moms" around his little, crooked... finger.

And ever since, political consultants and candidates, have tried to milk the emotions of the voters they call "moms." This has always irritated me. Though I have 2 sons and have spent a good portion of my life's energy caring for them in all sorts of ways, I have never decided how to vote by thinking of myself as a mom. I don't think I have ever said "I'm a mom" or "as a mother" in framing a question about politics. If a politician addressed me as a mother — and especially as a soccer mom — as if my political thinking revolved around conventional housewifely activities, I would regard him or her as sexist. Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.

What got me searching the term "soccer mom" this morning was a blog post — I could see in Site Meter that it linked to me — insulting me over what I'd written the other day about the newly coined term "birth control moms." You may remember that I'd noted that the term is "distractingly oxymoronic: if you use birth control, it's to avoid motherhood." I went on to criticize politicos who patronize women by calling them "moms" and treating them as if they "emote and intuit their way through elections."

Since the blogger is a lefty blogger, and lefty bloggers stereotype me as a righty blogger, the blogger could not perceive any feminist critique in what I was saying. His idea was that I'd just said the "stupidest thing [he'd] ever seen Ann Althouse say." He proceeded to make a huge deal out of the mundane fact that a woman who'd had children — and thus was a "mom" — would still use birth control to stave off unwanted additional pregnancies. At that point, she couldn't "avoid motherhood" — my phrase — because she would already be a mother. Crushingly obvious fact noted. "Birth control moms" is still an awkward term, containing a distracting contradiction. You're distracted even if you stop and think about the way some women with children use birth control not to avoid acquiring the status of mom, but to avoid additional mothering responsibilities.

Said lefty blogger goes on to state the true definition of the recently coined term: a "birth control mom" is "a woman who demands her birth control medication paid for according to the terms of her employment as regards insurance, even if she works for the Catholic Church. As well she fucking should."

First, birth control mom is "a woman..."? But some of these women don't have children. (If I had the instincts of a lefty blogger, I would call him a fucking idiot.) Second, "paid for according to the terms of her employment as regards insurance" — what? Could you write in English, please? Apparently, we're talking about women who are not merely going to be manipulated by scaring them that the government might ban birth control, but who are adamant about their entitlement to have their insurance fully cover birth control pills and who hate the idea of giving exemptions to the religious organizations that are portraying the proposed insurance requirement as a violation of their religious freedom rights.

The blogger — who is a married man whose wife is "on birth control" — ends:
And they are fucking with my intimate relationships?

Who the fuck are they coming after next? Rich people?

Bitch about stupid Politico phrasing, sure, but don't pretend that makes obnoxious, sexist insurance coverage decisions inoffensive.
Apparently, after the notion of fucking with his fucking crossed his mind, this man lost his mind. My post said nothing about insurance. It was only about the "stupid Politico phrasing." It was language analysis, from a feminist perspective.

And if I may continue in a feminist mode... this is the most egregious example of phallocratic writing I've seen in a long time.

February 20, 2012

At the Stairway Café...



... come in here for a landing.

"Judge Mental."

Ever heard of him?

A year ago today at the Wisconsin protests, I video'd Madison city salt trucks circling the Capitol Square, blowing horns in solidarity with the protesters.

"Two city salt trucks circle the block at least twice, with horns blaring. Only one is visibly spreading salt."
The protesters wave and hold up fists, indicating that it is their interpretation that the city workers are sounding support for the protests. Obviously, we taxpayers pay for the salt trucks and the employees who drive them and we expect those trucks to be used to make the streets all over town safe, not to circle the Capitol Square for other purposes.
The next day I would receive a death threat: "whoever video taped this has no life and needs to be shot in the head."

Inside the Capitol, the drum beating and hooting, the signs and the dazed, pacing protesters felt lurid and surreal.



"This is what class warfare looks like," reads one sign.

A sign indicates that people are staying overnight in the Capitol, and I talk to a security guard and find out that is indeed happening: "The doors are locked at a particular time, but people are not cleared out of the building."

This, then, was the day when things really did cross the line into weird. Late that evening, we got the word that Madison school teachers would take another day off from work, after a somewhat strange voting process in which union members were required to leave the meeting room and walk back in through one of 2 doors, to indicate a "yes" or "no" vote.

More Hitler comparisons:
"Do you think Scott Walker deserves to be compared to the Nazis?" I ask and the answer is "Yes, I do."

The dark side of wind turbines.



Meade (via Mead) showed me this, knowing it's why I'm afraid to buy a tiny dream house in what looks to be an idyllic country landscape.

"Physicists Create a Working Transistor From a Single Atom."

It's "a single phosphorus atom embedded in a silicon crystal."

UC Berkeley's "amazing incompetence" selling off a huge sculpture — supposedly worth $1+ million — for $164.63.

The 22-foot long carved panel was made by Sargent Johnson (1888-1967), "a celebrated African-American sculptor."
Arthur Monroe, an African-American artist and friend of Johnson’s, said that if the missing art had been by a white sculptor, "the university would have turned the campus upside down to find it."

Apparently, nowadays you can get arrested for leaving a kid home alone...

... when that kid is older than the kids we hired to babysit really little kids back in the 1980s.

I used babysitters who were only 12 or even 11. These days, in some states at least, they expect you to hire a babysitter for a 13 year old. Who are these babysitters supposed to be? It's younger teens who want to earn money babysitting, isn't it? Older teens can work in shops and restaurants.

This is a bizarre notion of progress. The message to young parents is: Never go out. Or: Never go out together. It's a good rule for keeping young mothers housebound!

And then there's this crazy story about the mother who got arrested for making her 10-year-old walk to school — 4.5 miles — after he missed the school bus. (Via Instapundit.)

"[T]here’s more to life than crackers. But not much more."

Things said to Karma.

"The ESPN editor fired Sunday for using 'chink in the armor' in a headline about Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin..."

"... said the racial slur never crossed his mind - and he was devastated when he realized his mistake."
[Anthony Federico] said he has used the phrase "at least 100 times" in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story.

Federico called Lin one of his heroes - not just because he's a big Knicks fan, but because he feels a kinship with a fellow "outspoken Christian."
Swift move, playing the Christian card. I'm sure the right-wing commentators will now be super-motivated to defend this poor man.

But let me say something cold-hearted: This is what happens when you use clichés. George Orwell told you long ago — in "Politics and the English Language": "Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print." Not only did you use one, your defense — other that that Christian business — is that you've used that same tired old figure of speech over and over and over again.
A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" (e.g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles' heel, swan song, hotbed...
... and chink in the armor.

Nobody even wears armor anymore, and the word "chink" is only used — other than in its moronic racial denotation — in that dying metaphor. Here's my rule: No one should ever use the expression "chink in the armor" again. Fire everyone who lets it go out in a final draft of anything.

"Ah, Godspell. How you shaped our ’70s Catholic school childhoods by influencing an entire generation..."

"... of semi-closeted nuns to pick up their guitars and force us to learn half the songbook. Do they still have guitar masses? Or did all those Birkenstock’d nuns finally drop the veil and head off to the Lilith Fair?"

The first paragraph of Tom and Lorenzo's recap of the most recent episode of "Project Runway All Stars."

Are you watching this season? I am. I still can't tell you the names of the 2 people they've got in the Heidi and Tim positions, but they're doing a decent job helping us deal with being deprived of familiar things.

And, as long as I'm rummaging around at Tom and Lorenzo's, check out these stiletto-heeled ice skates.

"Oh, it's Presidents Day. Some people have the day off."

My outburst, on glancing at my Twitter feed this morning. Excuse me for not sufficiently valuing the generic President of the United States, but I remember when we knew exactly which day Abraham Lincoln was born on and that it was a different day from the one George Washington was born on. We had Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday, and we paid tribute to them separately and individually. I'm not trying to be an insufferable old fogy here doing a back-in-my-day routine, but without a day off, which I don't have, Presidents Day means nothing to me. It seems to me we talk about Presidents — past, present, and future — every damned day. How about a day when we don't think about the government?

Here's a Talking Heads song: "Don't Worry About the Government."
I see the states, across this big nation
I see the laws made in Washington, D.C.
I think of the ones I consider my favorites
I think of the people that are working for me
Here's a Bob Dylan lyric: "I'm on the pavement, thinking about the government."

"Question: Where is the political Left on education reform?"

"Answer: In the trenches alongside the reactionary teachers unions fighting to preserve the failed status quo."

The phony Catch-22 of conservative commentary.

"Unless you are wise and scrupulous, your efforts to debunk the popular mythos will only result in your ostracism and the diminution of your influence."

You'd think with her husband's reelection on the line, Michelle Obama would not go on another vacation.

"Well it has been a whole month! Just weeks after 17-day Hawaii vacation Michelle hits the slopes with daughters on Aspen ski trip." That's the Daily Mail, where I arrived after clicking on Drudge, which also links to "16th vacation in 3 years..."

My reaction? She must really need to get out of the White House. It looks awful for the campaign, which attempts to radiate concern for the economically downtrodden, to have her romping on another luxurious vacation. Aspen, for skiing, after Christmas in Hawaii, and — a while back — summer on Martha's Vineyard. These selections couldn't be more precisely chosen to inspire envy. You'd think they'd rein her in... or at least moderate the optics. What's going on? Are they super-confident of victory in November? Counting on our short memories? Or is getting Michelle away from the White House a big priority?

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs" — the Maya Angelou prank show.



I dvr "Saturday Night Live," but I rarely watch any of it. But we got sucked into this week's show, with Maya Rudolph hosting, and that Maya Angelou imitation cracked me up.

The second link goes to the whole show, which includes Rudolph playing Michelle Obama in a "Cosby Show" spoof in which Fred Amisen has to play a merged Barack/Cosby character. Rudolph also plays Beyonce (with her new baby) in a scene that I didn't watch but heard Meade laughing at, and there was a very noisy segment called "What's Up With That?" about an incredibly irritating TV show. The real Bill O'Reilly appeared as himself in that sketch, and Meade seemed to find it hilarious, as I — 10 feet away from the TV — was trying to get through some work that I'd been putting off all weekend.

What made the show so funny? Has "SNL" gotten good again for some reason? Is Maya Rudolph a genius? Was it race? I see Ace of Spades is saying:
SNL Does Oddly Racial Episode for Black History Month

One sketch knocks the hypocrisy of sportscasters for making jokes about Jeremy Lin's race while getting all pissy about similar jokes aimed at blacks, and another sketch asks what it would take for Obama to lose the black vote.

Plus goofing on Maya Angelou.

Regarding that first sketch: I agree on the hypocrisy but I think the solution here is for everyone to lighten up, not for everyone to submit further to PC.

Saturday Night Live knows well that racial jokes are funny -- since they use them themselves a lot. Oh, they don't do it in a mean way, and they often (as here) have some kind of defensible thesis they can point to, but still. If you're using them, you're not really against them.
Isn't this the problem that drove Dave Chapelle crazy? I know Ace is trying to turn the tables on liberals. I think part of what's going on is that if there's a subject that you're not supposed to laugh about, when someone steps up and cracks jokes about it, it's especially funny. And part of why it worked is, I think, that there were some really great black actors playing, not racial stereotypes, but specific black individuals: Beyonce, Prince, Maya Angelou, Cornel West, Morgan Freeman, Michelle Obama. Specificity, not stereotypes.

Meanwhile, and speaking of Jeremy Lin, here's the NYT not-so-subtly accusing the American people of racism for getting so excited this year about Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow, when we haven't gotten comparably excited about a black athlete.

February 19, 2012

At the Coyote Café...



... come inside!

It was exactly 1 year ago today, at the Wisconsin protests, that UW doctors stood on the street corner, offering to writing excuse notes for the teachers who had called in sick to go to the protests.

"At first I thought it was some sort of comic street theater, but it was, apparently, real doctors, defending what they were doing...."
I asked if it was dishonest or unethical, and the answer was that everyone has symptoms, perhaps a migraine, diarrhea, or insomnia. I suggested "activitis."
Meanwhile: tea partiers came to town. Tea party video (including Andrew Breitbart).

A sign celebrates the legislators who fled the state, back before I'd seen the word "fleebagger." Ah, no, wait, the word "fleebagger" appears in the first comment on this post from that day, about a man holding an "Ask a Liberal" sign. He's standing amid the tea partiers, and I ask him what they are asking him.

A pretty woman has a sign that reads "Please don't teabag our children," and I interview her about the inappropriate sexuality.

Signs warn protesters to be "civil" and "peaceful" because "the nation is watching."

A born-again lady was not taking sides (except the side of the Lord).

The protest continues into the evening: "The people, united, will never be defeated."

Ronald Reagan was the most influential President of the last 50 years.

Say 40% of Americans. Bill Clinton is in second place, with a mere 16%. If you add Clinton, JFK, and Barack Obama together, you'll get to 41% and beat Reagan. Oh, basically, the country's split in 2, Republican and Democrat, but the Republicans' minds lock easily and immediately onto the same man.

The man who rowed across oceans.

John Fairfax, dead at 74.
At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle.

At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate....

When piracy lost its luster, he gave his boss the slip and fetched up in 1960s London, at loose ends....

On Jan. 20, 1969, Mr. Fairfax pushed off from the Canary Islands, bound for Florida. His 22-foot craft, the Britannia, was the Rolls-Royce of rowboats....
The long, empty days spawned a temporary madness. Desperate for female company, he talked ardently to the planet Venus.

On July 19, 1969 — Day 180 — Mr. Fairfax, tanned, tired and about 20 pounds lighter, made landfall at Hollywood, Fla. “This is bloody stupid,” he said as he came ashore.
2 years later, with a bigger boat and a woman, he rowed across the Pacific.

"What Do 'Mama's Boys' Have to Do With the Euro Debt Crisis?"

A lot, if you believe this chart.

Politico attempts to frame the meme "birth control moms."

You know, like "soccer moms" and "security moms." But it's distractingly oxymoronic: if you use birth control, it's to avoid motherhood.

Except... soccer moms don't play soccer. And security moms — is that really a famous term? — aren't providing the security. The "mom" part of the term is about... well, what is it about? It's what patronizing politicos call the women who they imagine don't think, but emote and intuit their way through elections. Or perhaps, in part, it's that women who are mothers are concerned about the children. In that light, a "birth control mom" isn't a woman who wants her birth control devices. As a soccer mom likes to see the kids playing soccer, a birth control mom likes to see the kids using birth control, when they fuck, which they will do... you can't stop 'em... or if you think you can, you might already be a Santorumite.

UPDATE: After a lefty blogger criticizes this post, I expose his phallocracy.

"Once we get through the next couple of years of mania... people will... say, 'ok the book is not dying.'"

Says Peter Meyers, author of Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience:
Is the print book diminishing in its presence? Of course, but the function of the book itself as a break and a refuge and a chance to spend immersive time with an author telling a story, I think is incredibly valuable.
A story. So that's the thing with these people who cling to books. They want a story. A refuge and a chance to spend immersive time with an author telling a story. Why it's a mommy/daddy bedtime thing, isn't it?

I read for many hours a day, usually most of the day. Paper books and ebooks and, of course, the web. (Talk about immersive! Remember when people "surfed" the web? How quaint that sounds to me now. It's deep immersion.) Anyway, I read all the time, and it's a very active process of gathering information and ideas, generating my own thoughts and expressions, putting things together and forming new questions. I don't feel that I'm taking a break from anything and seeking refuge, spending time with a storyteller.

What's your reading like? Is it a break and a refuge and a chance to spend immersive time with an author telling a story?

(By the way, if you do feel impelled to buy some books, please use my Amazon portal.)

Man survives, trapped in a snow-bound car, for 2 months.

This happened in Sweden, where the temperature was as low as -22°.
The man, who was too weak to utter more than a few words, said he had been inside since 19 December. He may have survived by drinking melted snow.

Police say they have no reason to doubt his story.
Hmmm. Isn't his survival, under those conditions, a reason?
One doctor told the newspaper that the man might have survived so long by going into a kind of hibernation.
Hibernation! Can human beings hibernate? That's a good question to ask Google. I came up with this:
A Practice closely akin to hibernation is said to be general among Russian peasants in the Pskov Government, where food is scanty to a degree almost equivalent to chronic famine. Not having provisions enough to carry them through the whole year, they adopt the economical expedient of spending one half of it in sleep. This custom has existed among them from time immemorial.

At the first fall of snow the whole family gathers round the stove, lies down, ceases to wrestle with the problems of human existence, and quietly goes to sleep. Once a day every one wakes up to eat a piece of hard bread, of which an amount sufficient to last six months has providently been baked in the previous autumn. When the bread has been washed down with a draught of water, everyone goes to sleep again. The members of the family take it in turn to watch and keep the fire alight.

After six months of this reposeful existence the family wakes up, shakes itself, goes out to see if the grass is growing, and by-and-by sets to work at summer tasks. The country remains comparatively lively till the following winter, when again all signs of life disappear and all is silent, except we presume for the snores of the sleepers.

This winter sleep is called 'lotska'. These simple folk evidently come within '0 fortunatos nimium sua si bona norint!'

In addition to the economic advantages of hibernation, the mere thought of a sleep which knits up the ravelled sleeve of care for half a year on end is calculated to fill our harassed souls with envy. We, doomed to dwell here where men sit and hear each other groan, can scarce imagine what it must be for six whole months out of the twelve to be in the state of Nirvana longed for by Eastern sages, free from the stress of life, from the need to labour, from the multitudinous burdens, anxieties, and vexations of existence.
Much more on human hibernation if you go to that link or Google as I did, but I'll stop there, because it's so cool. And cold.