February 9, 2013

At the Watchful Dog Café...

Untitled

... I will be here, intent, intense, absolutely as long as there is... oh! Was it anything more profound than bacon?

"'Genocide,' one eulogist called it, lamenting that guns had 'become part of our wardrobe.'"

"Another exhorted the politicians in the pews, 'Don’t give us lip service.'"

In the pews were Michelle Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Arne Duncan, Rahm Emanuel, Pat Quinn, and  Jesse Jackson. In the casket was Hadiya Pendleton, who lived to the age of 15.

"Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence..."

"... that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire."

This is today's sentence from "The Great Gatsby." (As you may have noticed, one of many quirks of the Althouse blog is the "Gatsby" project: Every day we zero in on one sentence — freeze it, personalize it, polarize it — go at it in isolation. The sentence may say: "Why do you center on me when there are other sentences that might put me in context and give me support?" Our hearts are hardened to that pathetic plea.

"Meet the 'Cuomo.' It’s a new printed magazine for your AR-15 rifle..."

"... soon to be available for download, and it holds 30 bullets."

Tina Brown: "I mean, he'd be impeached by now for drones, if he was George W. Bush."

That was her off-topic outburst after Bill Maher said: "The Obama administration has been heavily targeting whistleblowers — true — and information activists. What can we do to hold the government accountable for this harsh crackdown?" (Maher was driving at the Aaron Swartz incident.)

And here's Eleanor Clift calling drones "a blessing."
Well, first of all, drones are here to stay. They are the 21st Century modern tool of war. And in many ways they are a blessing. Much better than bombers because they can be more effective and targeted than bomber planes just raining bombs down. With an enemy that is harbored in various places, in countries where we are not at war with the country, it’s the only way you can really get at them short of invading that country which we did and discovered that isn’t so hot. So I would say they are, they are a blessing. But, they bring all sorts of ethical and moral concerns, and there should be some sort of judicial review....

"Willow was supposed to be doing 'Annie,' we got Jay-Z to do the movie, got the studio to come in..."

"... and Willow had such a difficult time on tour with 'Whip my Hair' and she said, 'You know Daddy, I don't think so... I said, 'Baby, hold up!' I said, 'No, no, no, listen; you'll be in New York with all of your friends and Beyoncé will be there. You will be singing and dancing,' and she looked at me and said, 'Daddy, I have a better idea, how about I just be 12.'"

"Bush, of course, is not a formally trained painter, raising the question of whether he is an outsider artist."

"[Jack] Fischer, who exhibits outsider art, which is made by artists who are self-taught or work outside the mainstream art world, said that Bush 'in a sense' fit the definition because he was never interested in having his work looked at or shown."

IN THE COMMENTS: john said:
If he is the same Jack Fischer, art critic, who died in San Francisco yesterday, then his Hitler/Bush comparison must have been his dying words. 
Chuck Currie said:
John - One and the same Jack Fischer dead at 59.

So it's not true that only the good die young.
Let's be careful. I didn't highlight the Hitler point, but there is no sign that Fischer said Bush was in some moral or political fashion like Hitler. He was contacted, apparently because his gallery specializes in outsider art, and he said:
"What immediately comes to mind is Hitler's paintings and the immediate brouhaha that that caused... There's this peculiar sort of interest in a famous figure having painted."
In fact, it is the first thing you think of. Maybe you should refrain from blurting it out. Another thing you can do, once you've thought of that, is to point out that Hitler tried to be an artist and failed. Then he became a politician. When that failed, he committed suicide. Bush became a businessman first, had some success, parlayed that into politics, and when his term ended — as a matter of law, not failure — he graciously disappeared into retirement and took up painting for reasons other than a desire to be recognized as an artist.

The Jack Fischer Gallery has a nice-looking website. You can check out the artists here. Sympathy to the man's family.

"This Is The Most Depressing Version Of Google Maps I’ve Ever Seen."

What is depressing? That when people get more money they move to the suburbs? That people flock to cities when they are young and at the lower end of the income scale? That childless people often have these 2 characteristics: they aren't making enough money yet and they are comfortable with the housing options in the city? Our easily depressed map viewer assumes he's looking at an image of nothing but racial segregation:
What do you get when you combine Google maps and a bunch of info about household income? Only one of the most fascinating things ever to happen because of the census. Colder colors mean wealthier neighborhoods; warmer colors mean poorer ones. Whoever thought segregation could be this hypnotic, am I right? 
Since you are so fascinated, how about thinking your way out of that hypnosis, which perhaps is something you got put under in college. Wake up. Think of other dimensions. And look up the word "median."

"The conventional view of Chinese history is that of alternating periods of political unity and disunity..."

"... with China occasionally being dominated by steppe peoples, most of whom were in turn assimilated into the Han Chinese population. Cultural and political influences from many parts of Asia, carried by successive waves of immigration, expansion, and cultural assimilation, are part of the modern culture of China."

Today's "History of" country is China, a country with so much history, it makes my "History of" project — in which we go in alphabetical order and read the Wikipedia page for the "History of" each of the 206 countries in the world — more absurd than usual. I've devised a few strategies for getting through these posts. Maybe go for the picture that appeals to me....



I could pick a sentence or so that seems to embody as much of the story as possible (above) or pull something out that seems distant and strange yet compelling...
In the 8th century BC, power became decentralized during the Spring and Autumn period, named after the influential Spring and Autumn Annals.... The Spring and Autumn Period is marked by a falling apart of the central Zhou power. In each of the hundreds of states that eventually arose, local strongmen held most of the political power and continued their subservience to the Zhou kings in name only. Some local leaders even started using royal titles for themselves. China now consisted of hundreds of states, some of them only as large as a village with a fort.

The Hundred Schools of Thought of Chinese philosophy blossomed during this period, and such influential intellectual movements as Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism and Mohism were founded, partly in response to the changing political world.
There are other strategies....

"While the 1971 Sorcery Act technically outlaws the burning of alleged witches, the practice persists."

In Papua, New Guinea.

Elsewhere, murder is outlawed, yet the practice persists.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes about the TV show "Girls."

Says it's okay if a story about white people only has white people in it, and thinks "The guys are more interesting than the girls."

"Would she, like me, have found a cosy coffeehouse environment on the internet, a way to connect with people who understood her aesthetic and validated her experience?"

"Would she have been less dependent on the approval of viewers and critics and more aware of the positive effect her book was having on splintered psyches and girls with short bangs everywhere? Or would that kind of connectedness and access to unmitigated and misspelled negativity have driven her even madder?"

Reflections on the 50th anniversary of a suicide.

"Go out into the scary wonderful crazy broken world, sweet tender Fred."

"I may not have milk to give you, but I have a heart forever etched with your name... Thank you, Fred, for being my nursling."

"Grandma called very worried that you would get lost in the snow and eaten by penguins."

"Give her a call to reassure her if you get the chance. Stay warm."

Have you expressed sufficient concern over your East Coast adult children?

And make sure they know not to eat yellow snow:
It's a very important point.... Let me explain this to you.  Snow is white.  That is, until cars drive on it, and of course they just turn it black and dirty like they do to the environment anyway.  But sometimes when you're in the snow where cars haven't been, and it's just lovely, beautiful and white and you're walking in it, which again you shouldn't do.  Don't go outside.  But if you do, and if you've stretched and if you're not exerting yourself, you're walking and you might see a patch of yellow snow, and say, "Whoa, what is that?"

It might look like a natural snow cone to you.  Don't eat it.  Do not scoop it up and eat it.  Yellow snow is not good for you.  It is sterile, I mean, you can rest assured that it is sterile.  But you know what the problem with this is, though?  It's like when I say, "Don't think pink," what are you doing?  You're thinking pink.  Don't eat yellow snow, people are gonna go, "Oh, yellow snow, Limbaugh said don't eat it. I wonder why."  Just don't.

"Do you recognize this as the international sign for 'maybe I'll have another sandwich'?"

One of 38 questions to tell whether you had a great childhood.

After Beyonce's publicists asks Buzzfeed to remove some unflattering photographs of her (from her Super Bowl show)...

... Buzzfeed publishes the email, and the photos become a meme. Why don't publicists get the internet? What the publicist wrote:
"I am certain you will be able to find some better photos. The worst are #5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 19 and 22."
What the internet heard: I am certain you will be able to photoshop these photos. May I recommend #5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 19 and 22.

ADDED: The Daily Mail link in the post doesn't work anymore. Here's Buzzfeed's original article, including the email and unflattering photos, but not the Photoshops. Google beyonce photoshop if you want to see some of them.

"I got it because we got drunk and it was just a really funny idea and my friend said he’d do it for free."

"I sat on it for a couple days and was finally like, 'Man, I’m gonna get a butthole tattoo that says "Let It Be" with a bumblebee flying out!'"

She sat on it for a couple days and now she will sit on it for the rest of her life.

She's not even a Beatles fan. Well, no. If she were, she'd have a beetle crawling out.

"A lot of politicians use political donations as lifestyle enhancements—getting work done on their homes, taking fancy vacations, etc."

Says Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association, a Chicago-based good-government group.
“At the very least they’re bending the rules of campaign finance and sometimes they violate them blatantly. Unfortunately the IRS and state election boards are stretched too thin to investigate. But if you end up under the microscope of the U.S. Attorney that all changes … Jesse Jackson Jr. is not an outlier here, but he’s the one who got caught. There are a lot of politicians who are probably saying ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’”
Chicago politics... another federal prosecutor persecuting somebody... what angle do you want to take here?

"Using masking tape, [the super] connected the [garden] hose to the [water] heater, just inches from the flame, cops said."

Jeez. At least use duct tape!

Purchase of the day.

Yesterday, February 8. "What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster" [Kindle Edition] Jonathan V. Last (Author) (Earnings to Althouse blog = $0.90)

P.J. O’Rourke quipped of this book: "A powerful argument that the only thing worse than having children is not having them. I'm reading What To Expect When No One's Expecting aloud to the three little arguments for birth control at my house in hope they'll quit squabbling and making messes and start acting so cute that all my neighbors decide to conceive."

Thank you to all who used the Althouse portal yesterday to make a total of 60 purchases and caused the blogger to think, they like me... they really like me!

Why does a telephone have 1-2-3 at the top instead of at the bottom, like a calculator?

Because "a modest man" with "variegated accomplishments (he had a doctorate in mathematical psychology, was trained in electrical engineering and had been a professional violinist)" applied behavioral science to telephone design. He was John E. Karlin, who died on January 28th at the age of 94.

Karlin also determined "the optimal length for a phone cord":
Telephone company executives wondered whether the standard cord, then about three feet long, might be shortened. Mr. Karlin’s staff stole into colleagues’ offices every three days and covertly shortened their phone cords, an inch at time. No one noticed, they found, until the cords had lost an entire foot.

From then on, phones came with shorter cords.

Mr. Karlin also introduced the white dot inside each finger hole that was a fixture of rotary phones in later years. After the phone was redesigned at midcentury, with the letters and numbers moved outside the finger holes, users, to AT&T’s bewilderment, could no longer dial as quickly.

With blank space at the center of the holes, Mr. Karlin found, callers no longer had a target at which to aim their fingers. The dot restored the speed.
Despite these efforts at helping, he found himself referred to as "the most hated man in America," because his name was attached to the decision — made in the 1960s — to switch to all-digit phone numbers instead of things like PEnnsylvania 6-5000." The phone system was running out of numbers made from pronounceable words, and it was Karlin figured out that people would be able to remember 7 digits.

I'm old enough to have lived through the big switch from named "exchanges" to all numbers. There was a lot of anguish, back then, over whether the human individual was being turned into a number. It was also in the 60s — 1963 to be exact — that the post office forced ZIP codes on us. Before then, you had a number in between the city and the state names. I remember the last line of my address being Wilmington 3, Delaware. The government tried to soothe us by personifying the number as a human character, Mr. ZIP:



It's hard to imagine the government today using such an obvious, laughable technique as it pushes us into a life of regimentation. Mockery would be made. But those were simpler times.

"Faithful is not love. Faithful is a subservient position..."

"... in which insecure people can not accept that, despite their tremendous talents, they might be wrong. That's why I like cats and independent dogs."

So says Dante in at 3:01 a.m. in The Faithful Dog Café.

Faithful is not love? That made me think Love is faithful and kind... But it's "Love is patient and kind..."
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. 
Does that sound like a cat or a dog?
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful....
Cat?
... it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 
Cat?!

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Cat?!!
Love never ends. 
That sounds like what we mean when we say faithful. (I know Paul goes on to put "love" in a category with "faith" and "hope" and says "love" is the greatest, but the love he describes includes complete faithfulness to the loved one.)

"I have completed the task the Lord hath assignedeth me of creating the templates and instructions for a simple Valentine's Day pop-up card."

"So now I am released of my duty to humankind," says Chip Ahoy in yesterday's café, The Faithful Dog:
The templates are so simple it's embarrassing.

Nevertheless, here are some 30 or so photos that show a step by step process any child can follow. The 3 little files are png files to drag and drop. They fit an 8.5 X 11 sheet of card stock, to print, but you will not need the templates, just use the idea instead. They are put there for your human comfort.

And I tell you what, if you were to take a moment and fashion such a card for your sweetie, it will be the best card they ever receive and I'm not kidding. It will be treasured, I learned, and saved. Forever. When the person dies their survivors will go through their things, and go, "no wait, what? what? this person got Valentines cards like this when they were alive? That's awesome! Man, I wish I had friends who gave me cards like this."
And it's a simple one too. Part 2 Doubles the awesomeness of this card, and Part 3 intensifies that!
The super-clear photo instructions are entertaining even for those of us who would never hand-make a card, even for those who don't send cards of any kind, and even those who have a Valentine's-equivalent-of-Scrooge-like attitude about Valentine's Day.

"There’s a new stigma in town: guns + mental illness = violence."

Says Scott Bryant-Comstock, president of the Children’s Mental Health Network, "And it should break the hearts of advocates nationwide."

Quoted in the Capital Times (a Wisconsin newspaper) under the headline "Some say efforts to boost mental health treatment to combat gun violence are misguided." Also quoted, Jeri Bonavia, director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort:
"We know that there are some problems with getting mental health records into the background check system, and I think that needs to be addressed," she says. "But it can’t be that we turn our attention just to mental health issues related to gun violence because people suffering from mental illness make up a very small percentage of the perpetrators of gun violence."....
A poll this week by Quinnipiac University shows that more than 90 percent of American voters support background checks for all gun buyers, which would close the so-called gun show loophole. And that's where Bonavia says Wisconsin should be focusing its effort. Her group is currently in the midst of a petition drive to urge Walker to propose background checks. 
So first Bonavia implies that we ought to make policy based on the percentages. But then she says, make a pervasive law that applies to everyone, without mentioning the very small percentage of perpetrators of gun violence within the truly vast category of Americans who buy guns. And by the way, the category "gun violence" lumps things together. Gun control has become a hot issue because of a few massacres. If you make a category out of the set of incidents that has inflamed present-day opinion, people suffering from mental illness seem to be 100% of the perpetrators! You only get your very small percentage if you throw in other types of incidents, such as gangsters wiping each other out. Wake me up when 90% of Americans want to do something about that. And explain to me how background checks have any curative power over that problem.

The appeal to statistics and reason falls flat when you shape it to suit the policy you already want.
"Only 4 to 5 percent of violent crimes are committed by people with mental illness," Dilip Jeste, the president of the [American Psychiatric Association], says in a statement. "About one quarter of all Americans have a mental disorder in any given year, and only a very small percentage of them will ever commit violent crimes."
See what I mean? Questions for Dr. Jeste: 1. What percentage of school shootings are committed by persons with mental illness? 2. If we cut the category "violent crimes" down to massacre-type shootings where the motive isn't robbery and the victim isn't someone with whom the shooter has a personal dispute, what percentage of those crimes are committed by persons with mental illness? 3. If we break the category "mental disorder" into subparts, so that depression and schizophrenia aren't lumped together, is there any category within which you cannot say that only very small percentage will ever commit violent crimes? 4. In your effort to shield the mentally ill from unnecessary stigma, are you giving cover to a set of persons who could and should be identified as dangerous? 5. What are the interests of the psychiatric profession that could affect whether you are giving truly honest answers to all of these questions, including this one?

February 8, 2013

At the Faithful Dog Café...

Untitled

... share the love.

"The truth is, I have never sat at my desk and thought, 'Today, I shall pen a mighty portrait of coitus!'"

"No, these imaginative encounters seem to creep up on me in the first draft, sort of like when two people fall in love, or lust. One minute you're chatting away about the legacy of Robert Bork and the next you're trying to meld your bodies into one ecstatic pulsating organism. When it's happening on the page, though, things get tricky. We might have the tendency to quickly cover up from the embarrassment of seeing our characters in the buff or else take on the role of salacious puppeteer. The prose can suffer from these reactions, as well as from overly clinical description, or, in some notorious cases, overcooked metaphor. Being caught with your aesthetic pants down can be a writer's worst fear."

From "The Smitten Word: The awkward art of writing about sex," by Sam Lipsyte.

Salacious puppeteer... what a phrase! I had to Google to see if anyone had ever put those 2 words together and....



One minute you're chatting away about the legacy of Robert Bork...

Paintings by George Bush of his feet in the bathtub and his back in the shower.

Part of what we are seeing because a Bush family account was hacked. I wasn't going to link to the hacking, but I'm fascinated by George Bush as a painter. (Via Metafilter.)

The feet-in-the-bath pic brought to mind the wonderful paintings Pierre Bonnard made of his wife in the bathtub:



"The other night, when [redacted] asked me why I switched from computer science to sociology, I said..."

"... it was because Computer Science was hard and I wasn’t really good at it, which really isn’t true at all... The real reason is because I want to save the world," wrote Aaron Swartz, quoted in a long article titled "The Idealist: Aaron Swartz wanted to save the world. Why couldn’t he save himself?"

"Some people might automatically assume that an adult owning a toy animal is an indicator of the owner's immaturity."

But "there was no association of adult toy animal ownership with emotion regulation and maturity."

"It is remarkable that it is so common for cells from one individual to integrate into the tissues of another distinct person."

"We are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as singular autonomous individuals, and these foreign cells seem to belie that notion, and suggest that most people carry remnants of other individuals. As remarkable as this may be, stunning results from a new study show that cells from other individuals are also found in the brain. In this study, male cells were found in the brains of women and had been living there, in some cases, for several decades. What impact they may have had is now only a guess, but this study revealed that these cells were less common in the brains of women who had Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting they may be related to the health of the brain."

Beauty pageant contestant ordered to pay Donald Trump $5 million.

Former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin inopportunely asserted that the Miss USA pageant was "rigged."

"Did you know that if you can't catch your breath and start hyperventilating, you will lose feeling in your legs and hands..."

"... and they will start to cramp, which you will not feel but see? I did not know this, but I think it is a good thing to know as otherwise the loss of feeling and cramping are a bit frightening."

Info to remember, in case you get the flu that's going around.

"The jelly looked like pus, the peanut butter like God knows what and the bread was hard as a rock..."

So says Frank Hannibal, describing the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches in jail, where he was sent after he joked about his expensive peanut butter. When the TSA agent at LaGuardia Airport opened the jar, Hannibal said "They’re looking to confiscate my explosives."

What idiot doesn't know not to joke about bombs in the airport security line? Now, this guy is suing for $5 million.

This lawsuit looks like pus. There. Whatever judge gets stuck with it is welcome to use my joke against this phenomenally stupid man who purports to be a connoisseur of humor and peanut butter. Hannibal should have to reimburse the taxpayers for all the public money he's consumed and will continue to consume.

In one week, "an office-building-size asteroid will speed past Earth faster than a bullet and closer than some communications satellites."

"The good news: There’s no chance of an impact. At its closest, asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass about 17,000 miles above Earth."

Wow. I had no idea communications satellites were that far away!

But anyway, an office building, eh? Which office building? Are we talking Pentagon-size? The Pentagon, you know, is the world's largest office building. Obviously, this asteroid isn't Pentagon-sized or the WaPo would have said an asteroid the size of the Pentagon, which would have sounded much more amusing (and scary) than "office-building-size asteroid," which leads me to picture an ordinary place downtown in my own city.

So, I'm picturing it, this office-building-size asteroid. What happens if it hits?
Meteor Crater in Arizona — nearly a mile wide — was... probably gouged by an office-building-size space rock about 50,000 years ago.
How big must we go before we're talking wiping-out-the-dinosaurs apocalypse? Apparently, that would be about 5 miles wide. And, no, the Pentagon is not 5 miles wide. It's 921 feet along each outer side facade.

ADDED: A reader writes:
While the physics that I do for a living doesn't have a whole lot to do with planets or asteroids, I do enjoy the stuff and am fairly well versed in it. Since you were wondering on the blog today what a 150 foot asteroid would do, it's about half the length of the asteroid that did the Tunguska event. Remember that mass goes more or less like length-cubed, so the 150 foot asteroid would be about 1/8th the weight/power.

Tunguska had the power of 1000 Hiroshima bombs. So 1/8th of that still would more or less destroy a city if it landed on it. Most likely, of course, any asteroid would hit the ocean. But that would still cause a massive tsunami like we haven't seen in recorded history.

I don't know if you've heard of the Apophis asteroid, but it's more than 3x the length of the Tunguska asteroid and it's going to come very close to Earth in 2029, and then again in 2036 (though it will not hit either year, it's still been mixed in with a lot of silly 2012-style apocalypse myths). Scientists have already accomplished the task of landing a spacecraft on another asteroid, so there is a lot of talk of attaching a beacon to Apophis in 2029 so we could follow it on its path. Would be really fascinating science.

"For those who suffer from #fomo (fear of missing out)..."

"... it’s a good idea to avoid the Instagram feed of Dannijo, a fashion jewelry line favored by downtown socialites and celebrities."

I'm impressed by the intrepid marketing here and the very extravagant bib necklaces (which go way out onto the shoulders, like epaulettes, and drape around the breasts, like a brassiere). You cannot find Dannijo necklaces on Amazon. (I checked.) You cannot even find a bib necklace that extensive. I don't know how much metal and rock you'd enjoy hanging from your neck, but I did search for bib necklaces. There's an awful lot of crap under that designation, and Valentine's Day is coming up. I don't want to steer you wrong. I think something like this is not what your wife/girlfriend is likely to want to think you think reminds you of her. This is a possibility, for the right person. And this or this. If she's adventurous (albeit not at the Dannijo level). This is one I'd pick if I had to have a bib necklace. And finally, if the 2 of you are all about Scrabble, I have located the perfect Valentine's gift.

ADDED: Here's the one I can wholeheartedly endorse. It's the official Althouse blog Valentine's Day present for 2013. Here's the official alternative.

February 7, 2013

At the Lustreless Sun Café...

Untitled

.... it's nighttime now, so what does it matter?

"Beauty and the Beast... Loneliness... Old Grocery Horse... Brook’n Bridge...."

That's it! That's today's sentence from "The Great Gatsby" — taken out of context. That is really out of context. It's impossible to locate yourself in whatever meaning it would have in the book. I'm tempted to scroll back one sentence to get some footing, and I do, but it sends me reeling:

The stay-at-home husband in a household with no kids.

Outrageous, pathetic, or totally sensible?
By contrast, I have self-identified as a homemaker first. Certainly, I see a need to channel my creative side into something at some point. But that feeling is pretty abstract. For the time being, I have my hands full getting better at meal-planning and mending: It actually feels the same to me as improving in my “profession.” But more than that, I find satisfaction twice over in making a good home — once for supporting my partner, and again for myself.
Are people allowed to live like this?

"The name Patagonia comes from the word patagón used by Magellan to describe the native people whom his expedition thought to be giants."

"It is now believed the Patagons were actually Tehuelches with an average height of 1.80 m (~5′11″) compared to the 1.55 m (~5′1″) average for Spaniards of the time."

In Chile, today's "History of" country.

"I'm not sure why, but it seems like straight women are more interested in gay sex than gay men are."

"So I've decided to answer five of the most common questions I've been asked about gay sex by straight women."



(Via Buzzfeed.)

Black man in a KKK outfit on a street corner in Philadelphia...

... holds a sign saying that black-on-black murder today exceeds — every 6 months — the total number of murders the KKK inflicted on black people over a period of 86 years. 

The man, Sixx King, is a filmmaker. A lot of people are angry at him.

"Panetta: Obama Absent Night of Benghazi."

"Panetta said that Obama left operational details, including knowledge of what resources were available to help the Americans under seize, 'up to us.'"
Panetta said that, save their 5 o'clock prescheduled meeting with the president the day of September 11, Obama did not call or communicate in anyway with the defense secretary that day. There were no calls about the what was going on in Benghazi. He never called to check-in.

How to tell look-alike politicans apart.

There are various techniques reporters employ:
I used to make notes next to the names of members I was looking for — intentionally sloppy so they wouldn't be legible to the member as we huddled over my notebook off the floor of the House chamber — of their distinguishing characteristics. "Bald. Bald with glasses. Combover. Close-talker." And there is this classic method, offered by a former colleague on the beat: "My trick is, when you're talking to a member and you don't remember who they are, you ask at the end of the conversation — even if you couldn’t give a shit — 'And how will this affect your district?' So that way it narrows it down, and you can return to the picture book to look them up."
Several great examples of look-alikes at the link, including:

 

Freaky! I'd scribble the illegible note that Yoder is the one with the slightly devilish eyebrows. 

If your teenaged son had nightmares after reading "Beloved" in Advanced Placement English class...

... can you imagine responding by seeking to get the book removed from the classroom, engaging in public activism that included talking about the boy's dreams? Quite aside from the censorship angle, is this any way to treat your son?

IN THE COMMENTS: I said:
The book is a pain to read if you're not into [it]. I would never force anyone to read that book. The writing style is enough to give nightmares.
Robert Cook said:
Oh, rather like THE GREAT GATSBY, eh?
Let me answer that here on the front page, because this is important. Yes. It is like "The Great Gatsby." Neither book should be forced on anyone. It's destructive of the capacity to appreciate exactly what is most notable, the strange locutions. If you are not in the mood to get inside those sentences and luxuriate and ideate, it's a damned pain. If you've been assigned the book and so you feel like powering through it, everything that's good about it will feel like a speed bump. People hate speed bumps. These English teachers who imagine they are serving up delight are making it hateful.

I've said this already, but I don't keep repeating it as I've blogged about isolated sentences from "The Great Gatsby" in my "Gatsby" project. So let me point out one place where I made the point clearly:
My initial motivation was love. I thought of all the high school students — I remember being one — who were assigned this book and made to read the whole thing. That being the task, the really interesting sentences are speed bumps. They're completely annoying. You can't take the time to figure them out. What should be loved is hated. Later in life, I reread the book and enjoyed it, because of the worthiness of individual sentences.
The writing style of "Beloved" is, in my opinion, much, much worse than "The Great Gatsby." Chances are, a high school student will resist the project of reading this material, especially since the teacher might not emphasize the artistry of the style. It may be administered medicinally, by a teacher who wants her presumably bland and cosseted students to vicariously inhabit the condition of slavery. This is a terrible idea. Recommend "Beloved" for optional, outside reading and give the students the 19th century narratives written by Americans who were themselves enslaved. That's real and that's free of the pretensions of poetry.

"Is Obama's drone war giving us..."

"... exactly what we want?"

ADDED: CIA nominee John O. Brennan defends the drones.
"We must, however, use these technologies carefully and responsibly.... Consequently, we apply rigorous standards and a rigorous process of review." He added that "we are working to refine, clarify and strengthen this process and our standards." But the government currently has the authority to conduct drone strikes "against al-Qaeda and associated forces" without "geographical limitation," he said.

At the Ice Pellet Café...

Untitled

... have a drink of your favorite precipitation. Please make me a drink of grain alcohol and rainwater, and help yourself to whatever you'd like. No one seems to be ordering ice pellets but I'm thinking it's a bit like bubble tea.

Purchase of the day.

Yesterday, February 7: Poulenc: Les Mamelles de Tiresias (Duval, Cluytens) / Bal Masque (Pretre) F. Poulenc (Artist) | Format: Audio CD (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $0.98) Poulenc Plaque

Honorable mentions: SSwix F4 Combi Brush felt/nylon by Swix (Earnings to Althouse blog = $0.98) 

Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop (Earnings to Althouse blog = $0.90)

13 purchases under the category "Camera" (Earnings to Althouse blog = $111.26)

And 61 other items.

Thanks for showing your appreciation for a blog called Althouse!

The man who played trombone with Glenn Miller and the theremin with The Beach Boys...

... was Paul Tanner, who has died at the age of 95.
Tanner's involvement with electronic musical instruments began in the '50s, when he was drawn to the sound of the theremin, with its eerie, sliding notes. (It was notably present in the film scores for "The Lost Weekend" and "Spellbound.")

Fond of its unique tonal qualities, he was bothered by the theremin's playing technique, which required the performer to control it by waving one's hands. Working with inventor Bob Whitsell, Tanner designed an instrument that initially he called the electro-theremin. Eventually, it also received the name Tannerin, although Tanner preferred the title Paul's Box. Unlike the theremin, its method of playing was closer to that of traditional keyboard instruments.
Much as I understand the ease of the keyboard, I love the hand waving used on the original Theremin, which you can see played here by its inventor Leon Theremin:



Here's a terrific documentary about the Theremin. And here's how it looked when The Glenn Miller Orchestra played "In the Mood":



Not an electronic instrument in sight. This was my parents' favorite music, and I wish I had videos of the arguments I had with my father in the 1960s in which he took the position that if the instruments were electrified, it was — as a matter of definition — not music at all, and I got extremely exasperated, staunchly refused to submit to the playing of his old records, and repeatedly asserted that I liked rock and roll because of "the sound." The sound? Define your terms!

Here's a 10-CD set of Glenn Miller music for less than $20. You'll have to use electricity to play it, but I think my father would approve.

"Digging up the buried beer at Hotel Timbuktu."

"After months of Islamist rule, Timbuktu is getting back to normal - with thirsty journalists replacing the traditional tourists and backpackers."

"Ecuador prides itself on being pro-environment. Its constitution gives nature special rights."

"But Ecuador is a relatively poor country that could desperately use the money from the oil."

Fighting over posters... it's like something that would happen in a dorm room

But it happened in the Wisconsin legislative assembly.

"This is a sham," cried Brett Hulsey.

I read that aloud and Meade went "Sham! Sham! Sham!" — which is amusing if you know your Wisconsin protest references. (If you don't, look at this and this and this.)

"There is only one savior, and it is not me."

Rubio tweets up Jesus... on the occasion of this Time Magazine cover:

"Fashionista jumps to her death from George Washington Bridge — leaving Louis Vuitton bag containing 'suicide diary' naming five girls banned from funeral."

Headline at the Daily Mail.

The coming scourge of Baby Boomers with Alzheimer's disease.

Get ready. We're being softened up. Pay attention... while you still can.

"Significant jail time" for Jesse Jackson, Jr.?

That's what they say is in the plea deal.

"Lincoln" smears Connecticut.

"I could not believe my own eyes and ears," said Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney. "Placing the State of Connecticut on the wrong side of the historic and divisive fight over slavery is a distortion of easily verifiable facts."
"It is historical fiction -- a noble genre going back to Shakespeare and well before -- not history," [said Columbia University historian Eric Foner].
And yet we're pressured to go see that movie because of the way it explains history. 

By coincidence, Shakespeare is getting some negative press this week, after bones found under a parking lot in England were determined to have belonged to Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, supplanted by the Tudors, whom Shakespeare had reason to flatter as he portrayed Richard III as a villain.
No “bunch-backed toad,” no “slave of nature and the son of hell,” no “bottled spider,” the exhumed Richard is enjoying a remake as a physically challenged fellow with spinal curvature who might have starred in last year’s London Paralympics if given the chance.

Alas he got clobbered several times with a halberd (presumably wielded by a halberdier ignoring late 15th century safety regulations), and may have suffered the ignominy of being sodomized with an unlicensed dagger while being carried naked on horseback to Leicester. ....

“I’ve spoken to scoliosis experts and they say acute scoliosis like that was painful,” Philippa Langley, a Richard III enthusiast, told The Guardian. “So we know that he was working through the pain barrier every day just to do his job.... He had an incredibly powerful, strong work ethic. This man never stopped. He was on a horse every day, fighting skirmishes, doing everything they had to do.”
Imagine a movie about Lincoln that does not cater to the tastes of the present-day dynasty. There's plenty of old material to rake over. He wasn't called "bunch-backed toad" or a "bottled spider," but he was called "The obscene ape of Illinois." And:
The illustrious Honest Old Abe has continued during the last week to make a fool of himself and to mortify and shame the intelligent people of this great nation. His speeches have demonstrated the fact that although originally a Herculean rail splitter and more lately a whimsical story teller and side splitter, he is no more capable of becoming a statesman, nay, even a moderate one, than the braying ass can become a noble lion. People now marvel how it came to pass that Mr. Lincoln should have been selected as the representative man of any party. His weak, wishy-washy, namby-pamby efforts, imbecile in matter, disgusting in manner, have made us the laughing stock of the whole world. The European powers will despise us because we have no better material out of which to make a President. The truth is, Lincoln is only a moderate lawyer and in the larger cities of the Union could pass for no more than a facetious pettifogger. Take him from his vocation and he loses even these small characteristics and indulges in simple twaddle which would disgrace a well bred school boy.

No more Saturday mail.

Do you care that Saturday mail is gone?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Wisconsin is #1...

... in "Elections Performance Index."

Check your state here.

Quokka.

Another sign people are tired of having to think about politics.

February 6, 2013

"Republicans and Fox News are moving to purge the controversial political creatures they created."

"Both were damaged badly in 2012 by loud, partisan voices that stoked the base — but that scared the hell out of many voters. Now, the GOP, with its dismal image, and Fox News, with its depressed ratings in January, are scrambling to dim those voices."

That's the way Politico puts it.

The game of Monopoly is losing a game piece: the iron!

The idea was a publicity stunt, to replace on piece with another: "And because it asked the Internet, it wound up with a cat."

And they got rid of the iron! I always chose the iron. I liked its stability. It didn't fall over like the damned shoe.

"For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man’s..."

"... as though there was more struggling upon them
than a wisp of startled air."

That's today's sentence in the "Gatsby" project, in which we isolate one sentence, each day, from "The Great Gatsby" and try to figure out what the hell is going on.
This one isn't hard. It's just a guy trying to talk. Imagine how you would write this sentence if you only wanted to express: I had trouble talking. There's only a slight chance you'd end up with a sentence this long. And if you did, could you have sustained the drama like this, from moment to air? What lightness in moment and a phrase trying to take shape, then blah blah blah wisp of started air.

The narrator is struggling to speak, and the author is struggling to drag out a long sentence about this struggle. It's a sentence that begins and ends in lightness and that has heaviness in the middle. I'm counting 3 things as heavy: 1.  the near redundancy of mouth and lips (each with its own my), 2. the intrusion of the unwanted character a dumb man, and 2. more struggling upon them than.

There was nothing but air on the man's mouth-and-lips, but it seemed like more could be there, struggling.

ADDED: Chip Ahoy animates the sentence:

"Imagine that, you know, you built a table. Maybe it came out a little bit crooked."

"Probably your wife or your neighbor would see it for what it is, you know? A shoddy piece of workmanship. But to you that table might seem really great, because you're the one who created it. It's the fruit of your labor. And that is really the idea behind the Ikea Effect."

Said Daniel Mochon, a Tulane University marketing professor.

I don't identify with that feeling. If I've done something myself, I'm particularly irritated by the flaws (and I'm more likely to know where they are). If someone I cared about had made it, I'd be more lenient.

"The Kanem Empire originated in the 9th century AD to the northeast of Lake Chad."

"Historians agree that the leaders of the new state were ancestors of the Kanembu people. Toward the end of the 11th century the Sayfawa king (or mai, the title of the Sayfawa rulers) Hummay, converted to Islam. In the following century the Sayfawa rulers expandeded southward into Kanem, where was to rise their first capital, Njimi. Kanem's expansion peaked during the long and energetic reign of Mai Dunama Dabbalemi (c. 1221–1259)."

 

In Chad, today's "History of" country.

Is government an "impetuous vortex" or a "hideous monster [with] devouring jaws"?

Reading the Obamacare case in class preparation today, I notice those 2 metaphors, both taken from the Federalist Papers, both used in the process of saying that the Commerce Power doesn't support the requirement that everyone buy health insurance. "Impetuous vortex" — from The Federalist No. 48, written by James Madison — is quoted in  Chief Justice Roberts's opinion:
The Government’s theory [of the scope of the commerce power] would erode those limits, permitting Congress to reach beyond the natural extent of its authority, “everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.”
The "hideous monster [with] devouring jaws" — written by Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 33 — appears in Justice Scalia's opinion:
If Congress can reach out and command even those furthest removed from an interstate market to participate in the market, then the Commerce Clause becomes a font of unlimited power, or in Hamilton’s words, “the hideous monster whose devouring jaws... spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.” The Federalist No. 33, p. 202 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961).
Many have noted that Scalia (joined by Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito) did not join the Roberts opinion on the Commerce Clause, even though they said basically the same thing about it. Their spirit of resistance shows even through their choice of a different Federalist Paper with a different author and a different metaphor for government's voracious maw.

Purchase of the day.

Yesterday, February 5. "'Fenris Unchained' is a dark comedy with a splash of horror, taking Norse mythology and putting a 21st Century spin on it." (Earnings to Althouse blog = $1.00)

Honorable mentions:

Sakkas Mens Cotton Blend Ribbed Dress Socks Value Assorted 6-Pack (Earnings to Althouse blog = $0.98)

Life in a Bucket of Soil (Dover Children's Science Books) [Paperback] Alvin Silverstein (Author), Virginia Silverstein (Author) (Earnings to Althouse blog = $0.42)

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 Mac (Earnings to Althouse blog = $45.50)

And 51 other items. Thanks!

"Ahmadinejad: Iran already a nuclear state..."

"... but has no intention of launching attack on Israel."

The reason for saying that is incompletely aligned with its being true.

ADDED: There are 2 statements, and the reason for saying either one of them is incompletely aligned with its being true. One or both could be true. One or both could be false. Let's call "Iran already a nuclear state" statement A, and "Iran has no intention of launching attack on Israel" statement B:

Which is most likely?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

At the New Snow Café...

Untitled

... this is a blank slate for your writings.

Why is the CEO of an outdoor gear retailer qualified to head the Department of the Interior?

Obama nominates REI's chief executive Sally Jewell.
In 2011 Jewell introduced Obama at the White House conference on “America’s Great Outdoor Initiative,” noting that the $289 billion outdoor-recreation industry supports 6.5 million jobs....

Jewell has pushed for land conservation in Washington state, where she lives, as well as nationally. She is a founding board member of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, which focuses on a stretch of land from Puget Sound across the Cascades, and helped lay out a plan for the National Park Service as a commissioner on the “National Parks Second Century Commission.”...

National Park Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan, on whose board Jewell sits, noted that she focused on how to broaden the national park system’s appeal as head of the “Connecting People and Parks Subcommittee” during its planning process. He described her overall approach as being “about connecting people and the out of doors, to the benefit of both.”
Jewell was also an engineer for Mobil Oil:
“Her experience as a petroleum engineer and business leader will bring a unique perspective to an office that is key to our nation’s energy portfolio,” said [Tim Wigley, president of the Western Energy Alliance, which represents independent oil and gas producers in the West]. “We hope to see a better balance of productive development on non-park, non-wilderness public lands that enhances the wealth of America and creates jobs while protecting the environment.”
From what I'm reading at the link, this is a nice change from the usual career politician who cares about environmentalism.

"My duck does a wonderful trick. My duck can lay an egg!"



Via EDH in the comments to "Signs that people are tired of thinking about politics," which highlighted the Washington Post article about the amazing fact that a bird laid an egg. And who better than Shirley Temple to epitomize the desire for distraction from politics?

"[U]ntil recently DFW was in that place in the dusty warehouses of my attention economy occupied by the things people have been a little too insistent I should check out..."

"... a place also occupied by Hemingway, Khalil Gibran, 'E.T.,' 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' and for reasons that would take a lot of tedious explaining, Cointreau."

DFW = David Foster Wallace.

What are you keeping in the dusty warehouses of your attention economy? And what, by your insistence are you causing other people to store in their warehouses?

"'I am Obama!... I have been sent by God to rid the county of drug dealers and prostitutes.'"

From a report about a crazed man in Florida who tried to kidnap a woman and her 4-year-old daughter. According to the headline, the 2 females were saved by "Mystery hero teens."

"Like any physically-demanding, socially-vexed form of labor, sex work isn't easy work...."

"... not least because of the stigma and meager income.... We should remember to celebrate Arpad, the sexy man behind the scenes and in front of the camera who gave so much of himself for our desire, and not condemn a choice privately considered and personally significant enough to result in such extreme measures."

Arpad Miklos, popular star of gay porn, commits suicide at age 45.

***

From the essay "Big Red Son," which is about the porn business, by David Foster Wallace (himself a suicide):
Thirty-four-year-old porn actor Cal Jammer killed himself in 1995. Starlets Shauna Grant, Nancy Kelly, Alex Jordan, and Savannah have all killed themselves in the last decade. Savannah and Jordan received AVN's Best New Starlet awards in 1991 and 1992, respectively. Savannah killed herself after getting mildly disfigured in a car accident. Alex Jordan is famous for having addressed her suicide note to her pet bird. Crewman and performer Israel Gonzalez killed himself at a porn company warehouse in 1997.

An LA-based support group called PAW (=Protecting Adult Welfare) runs a 24-hour crisis line for people in the adult industry. A fundraiser for PAW was held at a Mission Hills CA bowling alley last November. It was a nude bowling tournament. Dozens of starlets agreed to take part. Two or three hundred adult-video fans showed up and paid to watch them bowl naked. No production companies or their executives participated or gave money. The fundraiser took in $6,000, which is slightly less than two one-millionths of porn's yearly gross.
That essay, published in 1998, quotes the industry's gross income at an estimated $2-2.5 billion. You might guess that the number has shrunken since then, what with piracy and all the free stuff on the internet, but I'm seeing a recent estimate that puts the number at $14 billion.

"99.99% of the gun owners of America are wonderful people that you are hanging around with here today."

"Perfectly safe. Perfectly harmless. Wonderful, loving, generous, giving, caring people. Would you leave us the hell alone? Go after the nut jobs, go after the murderers, because I don’t know any. We need to lock up the bad guys and when people show dangerous, murderous intent, which everyone one of these mass-murderers showed."

Signs that people are tired of thinking about politics.

Here are the "most popular" stories in The Washington Post right now:



#1 is Michelle Obama's ass. #4 is a bird laid an egg. And both of these are stories that I blogged yesterday. The First Lady's ass attracted 197 commenters here on the blog. I blogged the bird story too. In the comments, Inga made fun of the WaPo headline saying that the bird had given birth, and I note this morning that the headline has been rewritten, and now it's producing a chick. But there we were, talking about whether it's silly to say a bird gave birth.

Give birth is an interesting expression, even as applied to mammals. Which is my point: What is interesting this morning? Something tells me it's not politics.

Meanwhile, even politicians seem to know we're tired of dreary politics. Apparently, Republicans want to win us over with "happy talk" — #3 on that list:
At a retreat for Republican leaders last month, former House speaker Newt Gingrich told them to “learn to be a happy party” and a “cheerful” one, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said they should be a party “that smiles.”...

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took this don’t­worry-be-happy strategy seriously, and in a heavily promoted “major” speech to the American Enterprise Institute [that]... began with an uplifting anecdote about the Wright brothers and quoted the inspirational words of Emma Lazarus. He spoke from a lectern decorated with a foam board carrying the slogan “Making life work for more people”....
Decorated with a foam board... That's like a bird giving birth. The WaPo is bumping up the rhetoric inanely. Even when mocking the GOP for its strained cheeriness, they're goosing us with inappropriate but exciting words.

And then there's that coin. It's moving closer to reality.  Here I am over here in Reality. And there... somewhere out there.... a coin... it approaches!

Words, words, words... What kind of words do you have an appetite for this morning?

February 5, 2013

At the Snow Tree Café...

DSC02782

... it's so quiet in here.

(Photo taken today at about noon, as we took lunch break out on our favorite golf course ski trail.)

Purchase of the day.

Yesterday. Divatex Home Fashions Microfiber Sheet Set by Divatex Home Fashions. Amazon Associates earnings to Althouse blog: $1.00. Sweet. Sleep well, portal users.

"He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath..."

"... his mind would never romp again like the mind of God."

That's a challenging one, today's sentence in the "Gatsby" project (wherein we examine, each day, one sentence, out of context, from "The Great Gatsby").

I'm seriously intimidated, because I can't bust out of the sentence to get a grasp of how it can be that his mind is, pre-kiss, romping like the mind of God. Oh, but suddenly it's clear! If he kisses her, he enters the concrete word, where one specific thing after another will happen. But before he takes that action, he exists within imagination — his unutterable visions. There's so much to gain and so much to lose. Within imagination, he is like God, fully free. Anything — everything — can happen. You throw that all away if you kiss her. To kiss her is not to marry her, but there is a wedding: of the mind to the body, the perishable breath.

And quite aside from the man and the resisted kiss, there's an assertion about God. God has a romping mind.

ADDED: Chip Ahoy animates the sentence:

"By all accounts, a 5-year-old in Alabama endured an unforgettable horror..."

"Held for a week in a closet-size bunker underground, a captive of a volatile killer, his only comforts a Hot Wheels car and other treats passed to him by officers."
Yet after being whisked to safety by federal agents in a raid that left his kidnapper dead, the boy appeared to be acting like a normal kid: He was running around, playing with a toy dinosaur and other action figures, eating a turkey sandwich and watching “SpongeBob SquarePants,” relatives and Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said.
Resilience. Where does it come from?

Oldest known wild bird gives birth at age 62.

I'm more amazed that people are capable of keeping track of how old wild birds are, but it seems to be just a case of a bird with an old ankle tag that got noticed giving birth because it's in a wildlife refuge on an island.

"The territory of modern Central African Republic is known to have been settled from at least the 7th century on by overlapping empires..."

"... including the Kanem-Bornu, Ouaddai, Baguirmi, and Dafour groups based on the Lake Chad region and along the Upper Nile. Later, various sultanates claimed present-day CAR, using the entire Oubangui region as a source of slave, from which slaves were traded north across the Sahara Desert."

Today's "History of" country is the Central African Republic.

"Hillary Clinton’s new website keeps speculators guessing about 2016 plans."

Oh, really?

I went to it. Here. Doesn't look ambiguous at all to me. Game on!

BBC tries to get its mind around the way it seems to be okay in the United States to say...

... kick ass.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in Kentucky, where a high-profile campaign has been launched to change the state's official slogan from "Unbridled Spirit" to "Kentucky Kicks Ass."...

According to Griffin VanMeter, one of the marketing professionals behind the rebranding push, the slogan was chosen to encapsulate the area's unpretentious dynamism.

"What it means to us is that instead of physically kicking someone's ass, it's evolved into a rallying cry that people can get behind," he says. "It's also a little risque which makes it that much better."

"Want to reduce the effects of global warming? Stop working so hard."

"Working fewer hours might help slow global warming, according to a new study released Monday by the Center for Economic Policy and Research."
A worldwide switch to a "more European" work schedule, which includes working fewer hours and more vacation time, could prevent as much as half of the expected global temperature rise by 2100, according to the analysis, which used a 2012 study that found shorter work hours could be associated with lower carbon emissions.
How about good old unemployment? Can we get some credit for that? Offsets of some kind? Or is everyone supposed to back off?

But I love this suggestion! I made my own list of similar suggestions back in 2010, following on an article that said people ought to give up air-conditioning. I had 6 ideas:
1. Your weight should be at the low end of normal, indicating that you are not overconsuming the products of agriculture.

2. You should not engage in vigorous physical exercise, as this will increase your caloric requirements. You may do simple weight-lifting or calisthenics to keep in shape. Check how many calories per hour are burned and choose a form of exercise that burns as few calories as possible.

3. Free time should be spent sitting or lying still without using electricity. Don't run the television or music playing device. Reading, done by sunlight is the best way to pass free time. After dark, why not have a pleasant conversation with friends or family? Word games or board games should replace sports or video games.

4. Get up at sunrise. Don't waste the natural light. Try never to turn on the electric lights in your house or workplace. Put compact fluorescent bulbs in all your light fixtures. The glow is so ugly that it will reduce the temptation to turn them on.

5. Restrict your use of transportation. Do not assume that walking or biking is less productive of carbon emissions than using a highly efficient small car. Do not go anywhere you don't have to go. When there is no food in the house to make dinner, instead of hopping in the car to go to the grocery store or a restaurant, take it as a cue to fast. As noted above, your weight should be at the low end of normal, and opportunities to reach or stay there should be greeted with a happy spirit.

6. If you have free time, such as a vacation from work, spend it in your home town. Read library books, redo old jigsaw puzzles, meditate, tell stories to your children — the list of activities is endless. Just thinking up more items to put on that list is an activity that could be on the list. Really embrace this new way of life. A deep satisfaction and mental peace can be achieved knowing that you are saving the earth.
Harsh, but if people really believed in global warming, they'd have gone in this direction long ago.

The Justice Department memo detailing when the U.S. can use drones to kill Americans.

The leaked document asserts that it's legal when:
• An informed, high-level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US

• Capture is infeasible and the US continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible

• The operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles

"Because of its shortcomings — driving range, cost and recharging time — the electric vehicle is not a viable replacement for most conventional cars..."

"We need something entirely new." Said Toyota’s vice chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada.

"Probably what it shows more than anything is how incredibly boring prison is."

"You've got to do something that fills in the day."

"I am Essie Mae Washington-Williams, and at last I am completely free."

Said the mixed-raced daughter of one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond in 2003. She kept the secret — because "He trusted me, and I respected him" — at the age of 100. She inherited some of his longevity and lived to the age of 87.
She was born in 1925 after Thurmond, then 22, had an affair with a 16-year-old black maid who worked in his family’s Edgefield, S.C., home. She spent years as a schoolteacher in Los Angeles, keeping in touch with her famous father.

While Thurmond never publicly acknowledged his daughter, his family acknowledged her claim after she came forward. She later said Thurmond’s widow, Nancy, was “a very wonderful person” and called Strom Thurmond Jr. “very caring, and interested in what’s going on with me.”

Goodbye to Reg Presley, the lead singer of The Troggs.

He was 71.



And here's "Wild Thing."

You make everything groovy....

"Michelle Obama's posterior again the subject of a public rant."

That's an actual headline at The Washington Post. The article informs us of an incident involving something that was said by a previously unfamous high school football coach. The erstwhile nonentity, Bob Grisham, said:
"Fat butt Michelle Obama.... Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight."
For his sins, Grisham was suspended from his job, but that's clearly not enough punishment. He must be further humiliated. As if this is enforcing good taste in talking about the First Lady! The Washington Post published an article about her ass! Halfway through it gets to the provocative question:
But what is it with Michelle Obama’s critics and the fixation with her derriere?
Does using words like "posterior" and "derriere" make this okay? The Washington Post asked the question — I'll put it in plain English: Why are so many people talking about Michelle Obama's ass?

Now, the obvious answer would seem to be that she's made childhood obesity her issue, so that's somehow asking for comment on the subject of whether she herself is at all fat. (I disagree with that sort of critique, by the way. She's made the subject obesity and how it affects health, not mere fatness and how it affects beauty. For her issue, it's fine that she doesn't come across as thin. She looks robust and not health-impaired. If she looked thin, people would say she's pushing vanity-based dieting and insufficiently concerned with the scourge of anorexia.)

The WaPo article ignores that obvious answer but does not eschew obviousness. It goes racial.
The first lady’s critics “are reacting to the culture in which they’ve grown up or they are using it as a code to racialize Michelle Obama and remind people that she’s black,” says Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University.

"[E]lementary school-aged boys are actually smarter than girls, but teachers screw them over by giving them lower grades based on their behavior."

That's a meme — or a distortion of the meme — but is it what the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study really showed?
Rather, its [sic] more likely that differences in noncognitive skills mediated boys' ability to demonstrate performance in the classroom. We tend to have this idea that test scores reflect the magical truth about how well children "really" perform. But the reality is that there's no magical ideal of "true" performance. There's plenty of evidence that how you score on tests has significant predictive power in life. But how children execute and demonstrate skills in classroom and real-life tasks matters, too. Teacher-assigned grades reflect students' demonstrated performance in the classroom (on both regular class and homework assignments and teacher-created tests). And it's likely that boys' weaker non-cognitive skills resulted in submitted work that demonstrated lower quality of performance than the girls did. After all, if you're not good at being organized, persisting in completing tasks, or paying attention, you're probably not going to do as well in school as someone who is good at those things.

The really interesting question, then, is what you do with that result. Some people have responded to this study by saying that it's evidence that school practices systematically discriminate against boys....

"The blog is also now unending: you can scroll down indefinitely if you so wish..."

A nice feature at Andrew Sullivan's newly independent blog. This means that the blog is set to have a  number of posts on the page when you click there, but if you want more, you don't have to click to an "older posts" page (as you do here), it automatically provides new posts as you scroll. This gives a vivid depiction of what a blog really is: a pile of posts one on top of the other. For example, my blog is a stack of 32,381 posts.

Sullivan has also moved his archive, which goes back to January 2001: "I have given a sharp dagger for anyone who wants to make me look foolish – so have at it." I don't think the archive makes him look foolish. I read him all the time back then, when he called himself conservative and tried to define conservatism in new ways. Or is the appearance of foolishness not in what those old opinions were, but in the later deviations? Would you read the sort of person who would go 12 years without contradicting himself?

The Dictionary of Received Ideas — my imagined modern American version of it — has this under "contradiction":
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
That's the reflexive quotation but you can keep scrolling in that poem, Walt Whitman's tall stack of lines:
I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.

Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through
with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too
late?
I wait on the door-slab....

February 4, 2013

"I see it as a night scene by El Greco: a hundred houses, at once conventional and grotesque, crouching under a sullen, overhanging sky and a lustreless moon.

This is the picture  — I assume — that F. Scott Fitzgerald had in his head...



... when he wrote that sentence, which is today's sentence from "The Great Gatsby." (Every day we isolate and talk about one sentence from "The Great Gatsby.")

El Greco painted that "View of Toledo" circa 1600. That seems too long ago for a man to have been painting like that. It's hard to understand how that could have happened. But maybe you are thinking: Toledo!? Was that part of the Ohio Inquisition we were just talking about?

"Every swear filled breathless account of violence should indeed be prefaced by a benediction for universal love and respect."

"This is a 5+ minute local news video of a young surfer dude who is recounting his brush with some psycho dude...."

(Warning: Some bad language.)



"Mesmerizing. He speaks like how a Beckett novel reads, just with some surferisms thrown in. Ending is about as bleak as Beckett, too. Someone get that guy a wet suit and a hug if it's real, which I doubt. Still mesmerizing either way."

I thought it seemed like an extra scene from the movie "Slacker."

"So, what happens if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run in 2016? It is hard to imagine the presidential field without a woman contender..."

"... and here’s one to keep your eye on: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Napolitano is quietly making it known that she is considering the race, and there is reason to take her seriously...."

"As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend's violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event."

"My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle’s family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies."

Ron Paul, on Facebook.

Via Memeorandum.

"Throughout the standoff, there was talk of little else in southeastern Alabama, a mostly rural region called the Wiregrass."

"Over lunch at restaurants and even at a Super Bowl party in nearby Ozark, conversations would not roam far before returning to whether that little boy had gotten out yet and what that crazy man must be thinking."

"So Clinton basically was eulogizing Koch by saying, 'Hey, he supported my agenda, and that's why I'm here.'"

"And he wasn't through.  Somehow Clinton worked Viagra into the routine."
CLINTON: He said, "You know, we've gotta do something to convince these young people to quit smoking, and there's just been a new study saying that it impacts virility."  And he said, "You know, this Viagra is a big deal."  This letter is hilarious.  He said, "Now, politicians don't like to talk about this, especially among young people, but young people are way more sophisticated than older people and they get this, and it doesn't work to tell people they're gonna get cancer or respiratory diseases, go after the virility argument."

Pomponius Mela and Pliny the Elder called Cape Verde "Gorgades" after the mythical Gorgons killed by Perseus.

Cape Verde, today's "History of" country.

"As the clerk started to give him cash from the cash register, the thief started to cry, explaining that he only wanted to feed his wife and family."

"After the clerk offered to give him pizza and chicken wings, the man waited for the food for about 10 minutes."
“I’d say the clerk was pretty astute,” [said Helena Police Chief Troy McGee.] “I mean, he knows how to talk to this person. Kind of commiserated with him a little. Talked to him about it and you know actually changed his mind about robbing the place. That was pretty good.”
But didn't he commit robbery by taking the pizza and chicken wings without paying? Apparently, the clerk gave him the food. This reminds me of the famous Calvin Coolidge story:
Coolidge gave him $32, calling it a loan so the intruder would not be a thief...

In the Blog-Has-a-Theme-Today Café...

Untitled

... it's just a feeling I have about the way things seem like they want to connect up in a sort of a head-bone-connected-to-finger-bone kind of a way.

"And by the way, Beyonce blew the electric in the Superdome twice, I’m told, during her rehearsals during the week."

Blame Beyonce?

But wasn't it all worth it, to get that monumental outline of her entire body — a colossus — for her to pose in front of and then later to get Easter-Island-sized profiles of her face facing each other? The outage gave us time to reflect on the importance of Beyonce, lest we plunge too soon back into the workaday cares of football.



ADDED: "The halftime show, as the Commissioner said, was running on a 100 percent generated power, which means it was not our grid at all."

Robot news.

1. "The Rise of the Robots Has an Upside." Adapt!

2. "British troops are using... state-of-the-art handheld tiny surveillance helicopters, which relay reliable full motion video and still images back to the devices' handlers...." Close your windows!

IN THE COMMENTS: Chef Mojo said:

3. Kia "Respect The Tech" Super Bowl commercial.

"Had I thought that there was any chance that she could have been hurt by this stuff, I would have been a lot more vigilant."

"I had no idea it was so bad... I'd never have thought we'd be in this situation. If she had bought it off the street or from a corner, that's one thing, but she bought it from convenience store."

"Experts are puzzled by the unexpected find of such a large number of skulls at what appears to have been a small, unremarkable shrine...."

"The heads were carefully deposited in rows or in small mounds, mostly facing east toward the rising sun, sometime between 660 and 860 A.D., a period when the nearby city-state of Teotihuacan had already declined but the Aztec empire, founded in 1325, was still centuries in the future."
[Georgia State University archaeologist Christopher] Morehart said some of the skulls were found with finger bones inserted into the eye sockets. “It was common enough that it was intentionally placed there in the eye socket,” Morehart said, though the ritual significance of that remains unclear.

Congressional Democrats whine that their boyfriend never calls them.

Politico reports.
Interviews with dozens of members of Congress and senior aides reveal frustration and in some cases exasperation.... These Democrats say they almost never hear from Obama personally... [T]he president evidences no interest in getting to know them or their political circumstances....

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), an early Obama supporter in 2008 and top surrogate in that race, put it this way: “Everyone loves a touch. It’s not his favorite part of the job. But it’s a necessary part of the job.”
Everyone loves a touch....