August 24, 2013

Sunset on Lake Wingra.

This evening, with paddleboard and dog:

The Nevada Supreme Court upholds letting the defendant's rap song "Drug Deala" in as evidence in a murder trial.

Deyundrea Orlando Holmes wrote the song in jail and included lyrics about the details of the crime.

"You know, it's hard to die. It takes a long time, and it's not easy to get killed."

A Rush Limbaugh pronouncement, made the other day, that's stuck with me. I like it out of context, but here's the context:

Cop at a memorial for a dead cyclist "then told me explicitly that he 'would not leave until I ‘understood’ that ‘it was the bicyclist’s fault."

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition said that SFPD Sgt. Richard Ernst made his "apparent disdain for 'you people,' bicyclists, disturbingly clear."
Shahum said that she tried to be diplomatic with Ernst and asked him to please move his patrol car out of the bike lane and into an available parking space that was right next to it, saying that it presented an unnecessary hazard to bicyclists riding past.
Diplomatically asking a cop to move his patrol car? Is that possible?
And apparently Ernst didn’t stop at denouncing [24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac] for causing her own death, in front of people who are still mourning that death. Shahum said Ernst also blamed the other two bicyclist deaths in SF this year on the cyclists, and on “you people” in the SFBC for not teaching cyclists how to avoid cars.

"Some rock stars get tragic as time passes... That would never happen to Rod."

"He doesn’t take any of this nonsense personally.... You don’t get to be Rod Stewart unless you have an element of the cold-blooded showbiz huckster... But you also don’t get to be a husband unless you have some Rod Stewart in you — grinding through the years, getting off on repetition."

From a review of Rob Sheffied's book "Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love & Karaoke."

Speaking of men in shorts...

Here's a NYT article about how Richard Simmons has gotten a new lease on fame through the internet, even though he's 65 years old and like "a lot of older people in show business, Mr. Simmons has been slow to fully grasp social media."
In late July, Mr. Simmons started a weekly YouTube series called “Workout Wednesdays,” with theAudience pairing him with young Web celebrities like Cassey Ho, whose YouTube fitness channel has more than 800,000 subscribers. Coming soon is a separate video series involving the D.J. Steve Aoki, who has 2.4 million Facebook fans. Mr. Aoki will go teach at Slimmons; Mr. Simmons plans to go crowd-surfing at a concert.

“There’s just something so cool about the way he does his thing, it’s punk rock,” Mr. Aoki said. “I’m definitely wearing a pair of those super-short shorts when I go. Those are dope, man!”
So... we's got Steve Aoki vouching for him... and his shorts. Your logical fallacy is: appeal to authority.

He's "stale, hairy and vanilla."

The reasons — according to the NY Post — why 100s of 1000s of people think Ben Affleck should not play the role of Batman.

The conservatives' high ground on race is colorblindness, and they'd be fools to abandon it.

That's a general piece of advice I'd like to deliver, prompted by this specific headline, seen just now at Twitchy:
Slain World War II vet Delbert Belton honored at candlelight vigil [photos]
I know there are those who think there's a need to rebalance public opinion after the distortions that surrounded the George Zimmerman case, which skewed racial discourse in this country over the past year, but it's a terrible idea to go looking for incidents in where the killers are black and the victims are white and to exploit them in what seems like an effort to undo the distortions. I saw this happening earlier this week over the Christopher Lane murder, I labeled it "counter-Trayvonistic," which was a too-subtle way to say: Don't fight skewing with skewing in the opposite direction.

"If someone says I believe God requires me to wear a hat..."

"... it's considered completely inappropriate for the authorities or people who aren't intimate with the person to pressure him about whether there really is a God and whether that God cares about who's wearing hats."

The last sentence of my long comment at the end of the thread on the post "Not much is getting said about the Chelsea/Bradley Manning transgender announcement."

The great-great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian has died on Pitcairn Island...

... where the population is now 51.
Pitcairn, settled by the mutineers and their Tahitian consorts in 1790, is a rocky speck of about two square miles. (Manhattan, by comparison, is about 24 square miles.) Most of its inhabitants are descended from the mutineers and the Tahitian women they brought with them.

[Tom] Christian, who for his services to Pitcairn was named a Member of the British Empire in 1983, was long considered an elder statesman on the island.
Read the whole obituary for details of the old mutiny and what it's like living in such a tiny and remote place. (It's midway between Peru and New Zealand. There are no cars. A supply ship arrives quarterly.) But let me highlight the legal dispute that occurred in 2004: 7 men were charged with sexually assaulting underage girls. The defense was "that initiating girls into sex was a time-honored South Seas custom and that they were unaware that British law was in effect on Pitcairn." Christian "publicly disputed the defendants’ contention, as did his wife." The men were convicted, and "Mr. and Mrs. Christian were shunned by much of the island for years afterward." He and his wife continued to live there on the island, tending their garden[s].

August 23, 2013

"I was out with a white person and I had not done this intentionally. And he was out with a black woman and didn’t know it."

"The schools in my town in Arkansas were just being integrated, but I graduated from an all-black high school. I just did not know white people. And even though I am very fair, everyone knew my family and they knew I was black. This was the first time I realized that it wasn’t obvious that I was black."

Civil War cannon mortar.

Untitled

Closer look:

Untitled
(Click to enlarge.)

Right in front of the Iowa State Capitol. Come on, Iowa!

About that Speedo...

The continuing saga of Madison's Brett Hulsey.

Cory Booker does standup.

"The Newark mayor and candidate for an open U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey was one of five political performers who appeared at the annual Stu Bykofsky Candidate Comedy Night in Philadelphia."



"I'm kind of tired of people comparing me to President Obama... I coordinated neighborhoods; he organized them." Can someone explain that joke?

"As you are too thin, I am too white. I am so white I literally appear to glow in the dark."

"'Get some sun,' I'm often told. 'Haven't you ever heard of a tanning bed?' It's hurtful, and neither of us should be shamed by anyone for our bodies. HOWEVER. I do not write nonsense comparing myself to long-oppressed people of more pigmented ancestry and taking cheap shots at their intelligence, will-power, and self-discipline just because someone who saw me on the beach failed to understand that my skin color options are white, pink, or red. This piece you've written? It is ridiculous."

A comment on this Daily Beast piece which I got to via this Kate Waldman item that began: "I must yawp my indignation after hate-reading the Daily Beast’s Emma Woolf bemoan the scourge of 'thin-shaming' in Western society."

Hate-reading. I like that. I looked it up in Urban Dictionary and saw it had an entry from January 2012, but only one person had voted on it. 

Not much is getting said about the Chelsea/Bradley Manning transgender announcement.

I'm thinking it must be disappointing to some people that mean/stupid things haven't been said. Or did I miss something? There's nothing about Manning at all currently trending on Memeorandum. A search for "Chelsea Manning" at rushlimbaugh.comcomes up empty. The Blaze only quotes the Washington Post on the difficulty of reporting about someone who's acted in the past under one name and gender and now asks to be referred to differently.

I can't find anyone saying anything that gives pro-transgender advocates an opportunity to pounce. Where did all this restraint come from?

Here's James Joyner at Outside the Beltway handling the issue with great sensitivity a day after an almost agonizingly reticent discussion of the topic with Joshua Foust on Bloggingheads:



I don't think I've ever heard more hemming and hawing on Bloggingheads (and that's saying a lot).

ADDED: I do see this piece in NRO by Kevin D. Williamson, "Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman," which comes across as serious and not mean-spirited. Key passage:
We have created a rhetoric of “gender identity” that is disconnected from biological sexual fact, and we have done so largely in the service of enabling the sexual mutilation of physically healthy men and women (significantly more men) by medical authorities who should be barred by professional convention if not by conscience from the removal of healthy organs (and limbs, more on that later), an act that by any reasonable standard ought to be considered mutilation rather than therapy. This is not to discount the feelings of people who suffer from gender-identity disorders — to the contrary, those feelings must be taken into account in determining courses of treatment for people who have severe personality disorders.
That's very focused on surgical intervention, which requires the participation of doctors. Speaking of things that can be disconnected, you could disconnect that surgery from more speech- and expression-based things about names, pronouns, dress, and behavior. Why can't those things be treated more like other matters of conscience, like religion, where we leave people to their own notions?

"The last month, if you read Politico or anything that linked to Politico or CNN or ABC or anywhere else, you were reading that it was over for me."

"That I was bad news for broadcast stations. They could not sell advertising and all of this was because of me and the controversy I engender and therefore I wasn't gonna be gone overnight, but three to four years, and that's it. Fini, totala completa, out of there, gone. Once and for all the left would be rid of me. "

Said Rush Limbaugh on his show today — audio here —announcing the renewal of his contract with Cumulus Media.
But the media believed everything that was being said because they wanted to. And the image, I guess, that was created was that my heyday was gone, it was over with, and if you listen to me now, you better like it while you can, because you're not gonna be able to at the end of the year, 'cause I'm gonna be gone.
People believe what they want to believe. And... that's a precept not unrelated to the popularity of Rush's radio show.

"A Personal Trainer Explains How To Take A Magazine Quality 'Transformation' Photo In 15 Minutes."

Including the revelation that she "stood up a bit taller, sucked in my guts, popped my hip- threw in a skinny arm, stood a bit wider #boxgap, pulled my shoulders back and added a bit of a cheeky/Im so proud of my results smile."

This is a topic I blogged about back in '08, noting a hilarious segment in the excellent documentary movie "Bigger, Stronger, Faster," but I'm blogging this anyway, because: 1. Do you remember some post from 5 years ago? (Let me remind you.) and 2. #boxgap... that caught my eye. #boxgap, eh? That's a thing? Is it like "thigh gap" — which I have blogged — but... higher up?

"Antoinette Tuff Had Empathy for the Georgia School Gunman. We Can Learn a Lot From Her."

Writes Dahlia Lithwick.
In her first interview after the standoff, Tuff mentions that in the initial terrible moments she thought about a sermon series on “anchoring” that her pastor had been preaching, and it helped her to see that Hill was bereaved and in pain, and she was praying for him. I don’t know anything about anchoring, but I know I want to learn. Tuff’s compassion and her ability to see herself in her assailant (and him in her) might be as useful a way to think about school violence as any other I’ve seen. In the course of a few days, Tuff proved that the national debate doesn’t have to be about “bad” guys and “tough” guys (or even just “guys” at all). This doesn’t have to be about lose-lose split-second decisions or the simplification of complicated situations for political gain. She shows that this debate is about ongoing, years-in-the-making problems: isolation and loneliness, medical failures, depression, and the allure of being a copycat in a culture that celebrates violence. She shows that polarizing debates about bad guys and good guys in the heat of battle are both fatuous and pointless.
Much more here, with details about the hour-long interview Anderson Cooper did with Tuff last night. I highly recommend that. You'll see that Tuff is very strongly grounded in religion — more than Lithwick seems to want to talk about. I don't think religion is essential to developing the kind of skill that Tuff displayed, but it is most certainly Tuff's own understanding of why she was able to do what she did, as she continually returned to statements like "God gives us a purpose in life" and "God has a way of showing you what's really in you."

Martin Manley's suicide website.

Yahoo took it down, his sister thinks it should be put back up — that photo at the link is not the sister, btw — and the group known as Anonymous has put the whole thing up.

So I went over there (to the link at the line) and read some of Manley's suicide website. Some. Not all. It's quite long. Multipaged. You'd think someone that chatty wouldn't be so impatient with the way life is not over yet. So why did he kill himself? I still don't know! And I skimmed a few pages, including "Why suicide?"

Some people are afraid a website like that will encourage suicide. It encouraged me to wisecrack that if I had to read this whole thing, I'd kill myself. But that's just it. You don't have to read the whole thing. And you won't be lured into Martin Manley's little world of suicide. I don't think. I predict, if you browse around over there, before you figure out what his point was, you'll get bored and click back into the real world, the world where life goes on, and you can always think of something better to do than check out early.

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"When you buy a condo, you don’t think you’re going to have a bike rack right in front."

"Who would want that?"

"Whitefish Police got a strange report Wednesday about a man falling out of a pickup truck that continued to roll down East Sixth Street."

"The man got up and chased the truck, but the reporting party wasn’t sure if he caught up to it or not."

"Due to budget constraints, the Berkeley Animal Shelter did not make the 1.5% of its eligible budget available for Public Art."

"Many Berkeley residents had expressed to staff and to the Civic Arts Commissioners their disappointment that there would be no public art in the new facility."

Here's my favorite comment over there: "We can live without more über-banal 'artistic flare' [sic] in this risible artistic backwater. I am sure there are plenty of other indefensible things they can waste our money on."

"[T]all trees slip into a sinkhole hidden beneath metallic-sheened swamp water..."

"... like spaghetti noodles surrendering to a pot of boiling water."

Don't wash the chicken.

You're going to cook the chicken, but rinsing it off while it's raw disperses germs into the air and onto various surfaces. Take a look:



What are you going to do?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

NYC mayor candidates asked at debate whether they support letting people drink beer on their stoops all say yes.

(Except that one guy who's a minister.) 

What else can they do? Well, there's this:
“I should be able to drink ’em in a park and at the beach, too,” Anthony Weiner added.

"Ronney Jenkins cannot be sure whether chronic traumatic encephalopathy is clawing through his brain tissue right now, but he suspects that it is."

So begins a CNN medical news report about football and brain damage.
"I'd be talking to a cousin of mine, disagree with him, and I'd just want to do something to him," Jenkins said. "I don't know why I had those thoughts, but I wanted to hurt him."

Jenkins cannot shake the feeling that these and other symptoms he has add up to CTE, but he will never be sure. The only way to diagnose CTE is after death -- by analyzing brain tissue and finding microscopic clumps of an abnormal protein called tau.

"When Reagan called Nixon about Watergate."

From the newly released Watergate tapes

August 22, 2013

"When you don't know who has said/written/done something, don't take the expression at face value."

"Where the identity of the speaker/writer/actor is hidden, think about who has a motive, who has an interest."

That's what I said back in March, when Oberlin canceled classes over some purported racial incident.

Today, the truth comes out. It was, as anyone who's been paying attention should have guessed, a hoax.

"The good news about America in 2013 is that if you’re a lefty and you want a racial incident to fire up the troops, you pretty much have to make it up yourself."

"Right now, I’ve got my hands full being governor... I’m not real involved yet."

"Strike that last word."

Said Scott Walker, quoted in a Politico article titled "Scott Walker’s stealth 2016 strategy."

"Fallen Princesses..."

"... When The Happily-Ever-After Doesn’t Happen."

Oh, this is the civil rights issue of our time. Good to see Obama's on it.

"Obama Comes Out Against Dog Breed-Specific Legislation, Joins The Fight For Pit Bulls."

According to the divorce docs, the couple owns an asset described as 'Bob Dylan Hair.'"

"Here comes the story of Bob Dylan's hair... which apparently belongs to the ex-wife of Black Keys singer Dan Auerbach...."

Only one Bob Dylan song contains the word "divorce":
She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess
But I used a little too much force
"Tangled Up In Blue."  Tangled up?! You might want to use a comb on that.

"The hilly, wooded area of southwestern Wisconsin where frac sand mining has exploded goes by the romantic name of the Driftless Area..."

"... so called because it was bypassed by the glaciers that ironed flat the rest of the Midwest during the last Ice Age. 'It is the most beautiful part of the state,' said Kevin Lien, the director of the Trempealeau County Department of Land Management. It is also, thanks to its unique geology, the best source in the nation for diamond-strong kernels of silica sand: smooth, round grains of almost pure quartz that can be found in lower Wisconsin’s sandstone bluffs."

From a New Republic article with the polemical title "Scott Walker's Sand Grab: Wisconsin Wants a Piece of the Fracking Boom, No Matter Who Gets Hurt."

"I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood..."

"... I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition."

Said Bradley Manning, in a statement released after he received his sentence of 35 years.
The statement went on to request that Private Manning’s supporters “refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).” It was signed, “Chelsea Manning.”
Woke up, it was a Chelsea Manning.... and the first thing that I knew/There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too...

My favorite Google Doodle ever.

Watch it here (that link will only get you to the one I'm talking about today.)

Read about it here, today and on later days.

"Healing Waters"... really?

I'm going to need something to heal me after looking at that picture.

"Fossil Reveals Long-Lived Mammal Group's Secret."

And the secret is...

Highly rotatable ankles!

Bill de Blasio — with the help of Maureen Dowd and her untrustworthy tape recorder — hands Christine Quinn the gay card and she plays it...

... for all it's worth:
“I have a family. In my apartment, my wife and I, we’re a family,” she said, her voice cracking slightly. “Our 10 nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews, we’re a family. My father and I, Kim’s dad. we’re a family. When I took care of my mother when she was dying, that’s a family. Kim and I lost our mothers. People make personal decision, for medical reasons, all kinds of reasons, that go into why people do and don’t have children. And no one should comment about that and make it a political issue.”
Here's the background, in case you haven't been keeping up. Quinn and de Blasio are running for Mayor of NYC. Quinn is a childless lesbian. De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, said something to Maureen Dowd that Dowd transcribed as a statement that Quinn is "not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave."

Quinn jumped on that, de Blasio said his wife was misquoted, and Dowd's column was corrected, and the NYT revealed McCray's full quote, which came in response to Dowd's question why Quinn "was not rallying women." McCray said:
"Well, I’m a woman, and she’s not speaking to the issues that I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, issues in the workplace — she’s not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that I feel that I can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things, and I suspect that other women feel the same thing that I’m feeling."
So McCray's point was that Quinn isn't speaking the right way, not that her being lesbian makes her not the kind of person who can relate to women with children. Maybe McCray was cleverly creating an occasion for people to think that, but she didn't say it.

And now, wait. I'm just now seeing Dowd's next paragraph, and it shatters the mental image I'd had of McCray:
Last spring, McCray did an interview with Essence magazine about her feelings about being a black lesbian who fell in love with a white heterosexual, back in 1991, when she worked for the New York Commission on Human Rights and wore African clothing and a nose ring and he was an aide to then-Mayor David Dinkins. With her husband, she was also interviewed by the press in December and was asked if she was no longer a lesbian, and she answered ambiguously: “I am married. I have two children. Sexuality is a fluid thing, and it’s personal. I don’t even understand the question, quite frankly.”
Whoa! Why isn't this the part of Dowd's column that's getting more attention?

Dowd goes on to talk about how Quinn has been "unable to get traction, even with women, despite talking more freely about the historical nature of her bid to become the first woman and lesbian to be mayor." Good. People shouldn't vote just to rack up another first.

NYC had a gay mayor in Ed Koch — right? He won in 1977, when his sexuality was known well enough that there were posters reading "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo." He said in a 1989 interview: "I happen to believe that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. It's whatever God made you. It happens that I'm a heterosexual."

So it's great if people find Quinn boring despite her firstiness. Dowd — either craftily or bumbling — found a way to make her interesting, and Quinn is displaying some political skill, exploiting what is exploitable.

August 21, 2013

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing.

Reprinted on the occasion of his death. After all the rules, he has one more rule, which purportedly sums up all the rules: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." I love that.

Of the more specific rules, I'm strangely fond of #6:
6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
You can tell he doesn't just mean don't use “suddenly” and “all hell broke loose.” He means don't use any of the typical words writers use to nudge us to get excited.

I like Rule #10 too:
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Here's the whole book, in case I skipped something.

Who was the first Italian-American in major league baseball?

Buttercup Dickerson.

Obama's Organizing for Action exploits the memory of Columbine.

In my email inbox:

"Miss Ruth Kellogg demonstrating correct postures for various forms of housework."



From 1921.

More pics at the link. Doesn't this make you want to perform diligent housework in a full-length apron?

"Why Women Prefer Working Together (and Why Men Prefer Working Alone)."

There's a new study, and what do you want to bet the women's preference is based on the goodness of women and the men's preference is based on the badness of men? That's The Rule you know.

The squib at the first link is not very clear. It seems to assume that team work should be preferred, and the reason for rejecting it is a false belief that you're better than the people you'd be teamed with. There's no consideration of whether the perception might be true or whether there's an increased motivation to do better work when you're going solo. There's also this:
[Women] were... much more sensitive to increasing their potential partner's incomes, reinforcing a well-established idea that women demonstrate more "inequity aversion" than men. That is, they're less comfortable with their colleagues making dramatically different salaries.
No mention of the incentive to work harder and do better because you want to make more money.

Overachievement...

... in the category of little girl hairstyles.

ADDED: And then there's Guys With Fancy Lady Hair. The names for the hairdos alone are worth the click, e.g., Desperately Vintage and Hippie Wedding. Via Metafilter, where somebody says: "Yes to the baby's breath in dude's beard. Nice touch."

"If a TV Shrink makes my daughter feel guilty b/c she was date raped while drunk, can I punch him in his dick?"

Just one of the #DrPhilQuestions Dr. Phil inspired — simply by asking "if a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her?"

"Even though the feminist project has been underway for decades now, plenty of people still view women doing work..."

"... especially nonservice work, in the same boggled way that you look at a dog walking on its hind legs. Is it still a dog? How can this be?"

Writes Amanda Marcotte, mangling or accidentally getting close to the famous Samuel Johnson quote:
I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
It's not that anyone thinks the woman preaching ceases to be a woman or the dog walking on its hind legs ceases to be a dog. It's that people act impressed simply because it happened and fail to hold the creature to the normal standard that would apply to men. I think Johnson's quote is regarded as quite sexist, but — looking only at this quote and not the whole body of Johnson's sayings and writings — it can almost be defended. It's patronizing to mention that a woman did something as if that's remarkable. Did she do it well? If you think women are as capable as men, that should be the question. But Johnson speaks in an aphoristic form that implies that women will never be able to preach well. He did not say — or Boswell did not transcribe his saying —You say a woman preached as you might say a dog walked on his hind legs; let me know when a woman preaches well.

"When have I ever criticized anyone’s fetish? I am a libertarian."

"Go right ahead — set up plastic figurines of 1950s-era moppets to bow down to in the privacy of your boudoir. No one will scold! Then whip down to the kitchen to heat up those foil-wrapped TV dinners. I still gaze back fondly at Swanson’s fried-chicken entree. The twinkly green peas! The moist apple fritter! Meg Ryan — the spitting image of all those perky counselors at my Girl Scout camp in the Adirondacks. Gwyneth Paltrow — a simpering sorority queen with field-hockey-stick legs. I will leave you to your retro pursuits while I dash off to moon over multiracial Brazilian divas."

Says Camille Paglia, reacting to the Salon interviewer's question "Why do you come down so hard on skinny white girls? Your views on sexuality leave so much room for individuality, so why is it so bad if I am attracted to Meg Ryan or Gwyneth Paltrow?"

My first thought was: Who can talk like that — spontaneously spluttering alliteration like "simpering sorority" and "moon over multiracial" and sumptuously sprinkling images like field-hockey-stick legs and foil-wrapped peas and fried chicken? But then I saw that this was all done in writing: "I spoke with Paglia by email." Spoke, yeah. I get it.

6 opinions on regulating vaping e-cigarettes.

Should people be allowed to deliver nicotine to themselves, in public, while looking quite a bit like they are smoking?

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's multiple injuries.

"He was questioned for two days before this hearing, without being advised of his right to counsel. He was also being administered Diluadid, a potent pain killer, every three hours."

Using the Christopher Lane murder to argue for gun control.

Promoters of gun control seem willing to use any shooting as an argument for gun control, but the murder of the jogging Australian baseball player is especially inapt. Here's Steve Clemons polemicizing in The Atlantic:
I have been greatly affected by sad news from Oklahoma today, another case of a victim of gun violence that deserves as much attention and public concern as the more grisly mass slayings we have heard so much about and which still have not produced progress on gun control....

The young college baseball player... was allegedly shot and killed by three juveniles, one of whom confessed to the police saying,  "We were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody."
The accused teenagers were in a car. Lane was jogging by the side of the road. If it's really true that they were simply bored and wanted to amuse themselves by killing that particular man in that situation but they didn't have a gun, they could have run Lane down with the car. Wouldn't that have been easier than taking aim while driving? And if their mental state really was what the reported confession makes it sound like, wouldn't that have been more entertaining?

***

In last night's post about this murder, I said "Why is this murder story the lead story? I've got to assume it's counter-Trayvonistic." That is, unlike The Atlantic, some commentators are presenting this story as an example of black people targeting a white person, as if to rebalance things after media made the Trayvon Martin incident the symbol of a larger racial problem. I recommend noticing who's doing what in America's endless discourse about race, but what I want to add here is that Trayvon Martin — according to evidence presented at trial — beat George Zimmerman's head against the pavement. As Zimmerman's lawyer put it in the closing argument, Martin armed himself with the concrete curb. The pavement was appropriated as a deadly weapon, and Zimmerman used the gun in self-defense.

Promoters of gun control portray handguns as a special sort of object, because they are useful only for wounding or killing other living beings and they are designed and possessed for exactly that reason. Concrete curbs and automobiles are designed, purchased, and used for nonviolent purposes, though they can be repurposed to maim and kill. If you like gun control, this difference is important. If you don't, you'll probably say: Because there are so many ways to inflict violence — including innumerable household objects and the bare fists of whoever happens to be stronger — decent people have a right to bear arms in self-defense.

***

Only yesterday, in New York City, a cab driver, in a rage, turned a car into a deadly weapon.
“It was like a damn movie,’’ said the bike messenger, Kenneth Olivo.

He and rogue hack Mohammed Himon, 24, of The Bronx were heading north on Sixth Avenue when the cyclist cut off the cabby, law-enforcement sources said. Himon, in his yellow cab, chased Olivo to 49th Street, where the cyclist allegedly banged on the taxi. Himon “wanted to turn, but he didn’t want to wait . . . He wants to be Number 1,’’ Olivo said.

“I told him to calm down . . . He gets angry, he honks his horn, and he accelerates, and that’s it — I’m on the hood of the car, and the woman is under his car . . . He accelerated, because I couldn’t escape him.”
The woman, a British tourist named Sian Green had "her left leg... severed below the shin, and part of her right leg was left hanging by just the skin. "

Yeah, Mohammed Himon. Let's see if anyone jams this story into their larger "global jihad" template.

August 20, 2013

"Over the years, we've discussed Elmore Leonard at least as often as any other writer..."

Says Language Log (on the occasion of Leonard's death). What was it about Leonard's writing that caught the linguist's attention? There are a bunch of links to old posts. I clicked on "Elmore's Adverbs":

Drudge has the upper hand.

There's a hand theme at Drudge right now:


But who can see all that hand business when it's tucked down underneath this in-your-face racial presentation of a murder?

The links are:
COPS: 'Bored' Black Teens Kill White Baseball Player 'For Fun'...
Were Accused Killers Really 'Bored?'
Australian tourists urged to boycott USA...
Why is this murder story the lead story? I've got to assume it's counter-Trayvonistic.

Like I said...

That's a phrase used by Obama spokesperson Josh Earnest, fending off a question about U.S. involvement in the David Miranda incident, a phrase I quoted and then repeated in a post earlier today, titled "Juxtaposition highlights the politics of distraction." The commenter Bob Ellison — who seems to have missed that I was repeating Earnest's spoken words — criticized my writing:
[D]on't ever say "like I said" (or "as I said"), or "as I have written before", or "I have commented on this numerous times, but...". If you made an impression the first time, you'll only diminish the impression when you keep hammering on it. And most of us haven't read everything you've written.

Lots of online writers make these mistakes.
Ahem! I responded:

"It's not that I think everyone to 'the left' of me is a posing emo-prog and everyone to 'the right' of me is a posing o-bot."

Reading that, I see I need to catch up on lefty lingo.

"As governors, as state leaders, we’re more optimistic than our friends in Washington."

"We’re not just against something, we’re laying out a plan, laying out a vision. You don’t just sit back and nick the other side – you got to lay out a plan."

Said Scott Walker on "Morning Joe" yesterday. And then today:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker slammed fellow Republicans Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) for thinking ahead to the 2016 election.

“At least on the Republican side I think it's too early,” Walker said on Fox News Tuesday morning. “I think it's a disservice both to the party and to the country.”
That's a slam? I'd like to see the whole transcript. What was the question, and was Walker doing anything other than declining to talk about speculation that he'll be a candidate?

"Increasingly, when diving solo in their free time, the two wore wingsuits, sometimes called squirrel suits, to extend their flights before pulling the parachute."

"The suits are webbed under the arms and between the legs to slow the fall to earth and give experienced users some ability to maneuver through the air before pulling the parachute."

It works, but not all the time. BASE jumper Mario Richard hits a cliff on the way down and dies. He was 47.

ADDED: Here's video of the kind of human behavior we're talking about:



There's the age-old dream of flying like a bird, but I don't think birds do that, deliberately flying against a cliff, touching it, feeling the thrill of the dare. Watching that video, I thought: These people are consenting to death, if death should reach out and grab them. Thrilling. That's the video they generate, for us... to live vicariously. We're not the ones who die.

Michael Kinsley asks NYT executive editor Jill Abramson whether there's an ideological bias in the paper's news articles.

I know, you can't expect her to admit it. But the way she avoids admitting it is fascinating:
Um, I think that they would recognize a sort of cosmopolitan outlook that reflects that, even as we become international, we’re a New York–based news institution. 
"They" = a genuinely objectively reader. (Kinsley actually posited "someone from Mars," which is a silly image, since such an entity, even assuming he could read English, would lack the cultural reference points needed to understand what our various ideologies are and how they are expressed subtly in text written in a superficially neutral style.)

"But as it stands only 3 people know you're the biological father of the boy, and while it may take all your will power, I think it should remain that way."

Says Prudie, noting that it's only a cousin marriage in the offing and not mentioning the thrilling line in the wedding ceremony — often used for drama in fiction — "Speak now or forever hold your peace." That line is there because of problems like the one raised by the advice seeker.  In fictional stories, it tends to be used to create tension over problems like — spoiler alert! — this:

"'Pep, The Cat-Murdering Dog' was a black Labrador Retriever admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary on August 12, 1924."

"Prison folklore tells us that Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot used his executive powers to sentence Pep to Life Without Parole for killing his wife’s cherished cat. Prison records support this story..."



That's the story at Mugshots.com. This might be more accurate.

Naming the baby after a mass murderer.

SHE: Isn't he cute? Let's name him Manson. Or... I know... Dahmer! Berkowitz just doesn't sound like a first name, but otherwise, that would be cool, you know, like maybe he'd grow up thinking he was hearing what dogs were saying, what dogs wanted him to do. Like we catch him with his hand in the cookie jar and he's all Sunny told me to get a cookie.

HE: No, no, no. Speck! I insist. Forget dogs. Nurses. Richard Speck was all about those nurses, student nurses, murdered one by one. That's the association I like for our little boy.

SHE: But a speck is like a tiny little mark.

HE: People call their kids "Mark" all the time. And he is tiny.

***

"The younger of John Mellencamp's two adult sons, Speck Mellencamp, turned himself in to Monroe County authorities Friday, then was out on $5,000 bond the same day... Court documents describe a brutal beating during the early hours of July 29, when a 19-year-old man told police the Mellencamps and Smith came to his Bloomington home after a party. According to a probable cause affidavit, Speck Mellencamp thought the man had punched him at the party. The man told police Speck Mellencamp punched him so hard in the face that he fell down."

The older son, who has also turned himself in on felony charges, is named Hud. I would have recommended for the follow-on son Harper. But they decided Speck for some reason. One can only attempt to imagine why.

Juxtaposition highlights the politics of distraction.

Captured just now at Memeorandum (which auto-aggregates news and opinion pieces based on what's being written about right now by "experts and pundits, insiders and outsiders, media professionals and amateur bloggers"):



Here's "White House Had Advance Notice on Heathrow Detention," implicating the Obama administration in the British government's 9-hour detention of David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the most conspicuous journalist dealing with Edward Snowden.

But, look, a puppy!!! The Obamas got another dog, a girl puppy this time. Isn't she cute? She's named Sunny. Aw, doesn't that make you feel sunny? Sunny, thank you for the truth you've let me see. Sunny, thank you for the facts from A to Z. My life was torn like a windblown sand, then a rock was formed when we held hands. Sunny one so true, I love you.

"The United States is not a nation of black and white people. Any fool can see that white people are not really white, and that black people are not black."

Wrote Albert Murray in his 1970 book "The Omni-Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and American Culture."
America, he maintained, “even in its most rigidly segregated precincts,” was a “nation of multicolored people,” or Omni-Americans: “part Yankee, part backwoodsman and Indian — and part Negro.”

The book also challenged what Mr. Murray called the “social science fiction” pronouncements of writers like James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who he said had exaggerated racial and ethnic differences in postulating a pathology of black life. As Mr. Murray put it, they had simply countered “the folklore of white supremacy” with “the fakelore of black pathology.”
Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote a New Yorker article called "King of Cats" about Murray (and Murray's close friend Ralph Ellison), which said:
"Both men were militant integrationists, and they shared an almost messianic view of the importance of art.... In their ardent belief that Negro culture was a constitutive part of American culture, they had defied an entrenched literary mainstream, which preferred to regard black culture as so much exotica — amusing perhaps, but eminently dispensable. Now they were also defying a new black vanguard, which regarded authentic black culture as separate from the rest of American culture — something that was created, and could be appreciated, in splendid isolation."
Murray died last Sunday at the age of 97. The quotes above come from the NYT obituary. You can read the New Yorker article, from 1996, here.

ADDED: Speaking of culture, why wasn't this man in the forefront of American culture all these years?

August 19, 2013

A Wingra interlude.

On the lake, this evening.

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"We are nuns. We rely on God and the angels to protect us."

"At the end, [the mob] paraded us like prisoners of war and hurled abuse at us as they led us from one alley to another without telling us where they were taking us."

"The India of dirt, danger and determination that I saw as a child was far more interesting."

"This was the India of villages, village politics, poverty, many smiles, laughter and strong social ties," said the poor little rich girl of Delhi.

Why did a Time senior editor tweet "I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange"?

The editor, Michael Grunwald, drew a big pushback and quickly deleted it, and that's easy to understand. The interesting question is: Why did he say it in the first place? The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf says that Grunwald is a type of radical ideologue that is not normally recognized in America — not an extreme leftist or rightist — but someone who seems to be a pragmatic centrist.
Grunwald's tweet took a lot of centrists by surprise, as if it was way beyond the pale. And I think it was! But it didn't surprise me. It was totally consistent with his ideology for him to write, "I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange."
Before he deleted the tweet, he fought off some criticism, saying "Thanks for your input, Don't Tread on Me crowd" and linking to an article he'd written titled "Tread on Me: The Case for Freedom From Terrorist Bombings, School Shootings and Exploding Factories/The past few months show that the government must protect the public even if it has to limit individual rights."

Friedersdorf says:
No single violation [of rights] is fatal, but Grunwald appears oblivious to the danger of undermining the culture, and to how radical it is to call for one-off departures of convenience from long established norms.... Grunwald was advancing a far more radical proposition: that a painstakingly developed, widely accepted, longstanding process should be abandoned in one special case. He invoked "the republic will still stand" language to make himself seem like a pragmatist....

Grunwald seems to stand for whatever it is that he and the authorities think is best in a given instance, to hell with any procedural constants or absolute checks on power, like the Bill of Rights, getting in the way....  He trusts those in power not to abuse it, is averse to absolute liberties (like the one about not being deprived of life without due process of law), and regards established legal and prudential protocols as overvalued formalities that gets in the way of pragmatism.

"On M*A*S*H you never heard the lyrics to the theme song. (But, doesn't everyone know them anyway?)"

Said Auntie Ann, reacting to my implication that the lyrics — heard in the movie — were omitted from the TV show because they were about suicide. Actually, I don't know whether taking the words out was a kind of censorship or whether — more likely — they were rejected because they didn't set up the story for an ongoing series of episodes. It wasn't like "The Beverly Hillbillies" or "Green Acres," where the song fills you in on how these characters got into this situation.

And I'd be surprised if even 50% of audience for the "M*A*S*H" TV show knew the lyrics from the movie version. That TV show became much bigger than the movie. The movie came out in 1970, and the TV show was on from 1972 until 1983, back in the days when people didn't have VCRs, so it wasn't easy to go back and check out a movie you'd missed. But even if it had been easy, I think people became very attached to Alan Alda in the main role and wouldn't have enjoyed seeing Donald Sutherland horn in on it. And the main character in the movie is the Elliot Gould character, Trapper John. [OR: He was equally important.] These barriers are hard to cross. I loved the movie, and I didn't want to see the actors that I knew replaced by the warmer, fuzzier TV personalities.

On the subject of TV themes played without the lyrics, do you know the words to the theme whistled on "The Andy Griffith Show"? Here's Andy singing them. [ADDED: The words are about fishing. Wouldn't it be a kick in the head if it turned out that theme was also about suicide?]

Speaking of Prince...

... he just did something amazing.

"'The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,' Judge Ballew said."

"The word Judge is a title that should not apply to anyone who would ever say that in a ruling."

Yes, and also "Judge" could be a name — Judge Reinhold — and other "titles" are used as names. I think of Prince Rogers Nelson and Sargent Shriver. And Earl Butz.

It is confusing and invites jokes. A bad idea. I don't recommend it. But not everything inadvisable is a legal issue, and the Jesus-is-the-one argument is blatantly wrong.

Interestingly, the Judge in the Messiah incident changed the baby's name to Martin. I was going to add "Dean" as another title that is used as a name and is therefore confusing. But isn't it more confusing to name the kid Martin, since if he ever acquires the title Dean, he'll be Dean Martin, which was the joke of a name used for the Dean in Rodney Dangerfield's "Back to School"?

Brick smokestacks.

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From the Des Moines cityscape.

"This is old potatoes indeed, but Scotland Yard is taking it seriously enough to announce an investigation."

"And perhaps the most interesting aspect is that this time the allegations have not come from Dodi’s crazed, vengeful father, Mohamed Al Fayed, who spent 11 years accusing Prince Philip of ordering up the hit team to assassinate Diana to stop her from marrying a Muslim (by whom, he claimed, she was pregnant)."

Writes Tina Brown, who goes on to summarize vividly what she knows very well from the research for her (excellent!) book "The Diana Chronicles."

Okay, Ted Cruz birthers.

Here's the birth certificate.

ADDED: Was I the first Ted Cruz birther? A year ago, discussing Mitt Romney's remark "No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate," I said:
Romney is saying — in so many words — I'm more truly and fundamentally American than Barack Obama. And the implication is: I want you to think about the ways that Obama hasn't fully embraced American values of freedom, capitalism, etc. etc.

Of course, you don't have to be born in America to have those values. I imagine Ted Cruz has those values, and he was born in Canada. He might make a great Senator from Texas soon, but he can never be President. We don't need to see his birth certificate, because it's no secret. He's not qualified to be President, and it's no disparagement of him to say that. But notably — and pay attention now, because this should help with understanding Romney's joke — no one running against Cruz would make a joke about his being born outside of the United States. Romney's (implicit) joke about Obama works not because of where he was actually born, but because of much more substantive ideas about commitment to foundational American values.

ADDED: Instapundit agrees with me and adds that the press will miss this point and, thinking the joke hurts Romney, will "spread the idea further than Romney could on his own." He also prints email from a reader saying "Why does Ann Althouse assume Ted Cruz is not eligible to be President just because he was born in Calgary? Both of his parents were American at the time of his birth, and his mother was American by birth." I didn't mean to be the first Ted Cruz birther! I agree that if both your parents are American citizens and you are therefore an American citizen at birth, that's good enough for the constitutional requirement.

"I didn't know I was skinny-fat until my Russian boyfriend told me so."

"Actually, I didn't even know that was a thing until he told me so."
The longer I stared at myself, the more I began to notice what it was that made Julio cringe. My chest was dystrophic. My arms were unformed. My neck was frail. Skin hung over the band of my underwear and, on top of that, I was hairy. Everywhere.
Yes, we're talking about 2 men here, but that doesn't let you heterosexual men off the hook. That just means that if your love partner wasn't female, he might tell you some things she's thinking but is too nice to say.

"Rand Paul is... strongly against abortion rights, which many libertarians disagree with."

"What is the libertarian position on abortion?"
I don't think there is a libertarian position on abortion. There was a study done by a graduate student at UCLA that found that about two-thirds of people you would identify as libertarian are pro-choice. From a philosophical perspective, libertarians generally believe the appropriate role of government is to protect life, liberty, and property. The question is, is forbidding abortion a way of protecting life, or should it be viewed as a restriction of liberty? There's a plausible libertarian case on both sides. People who are consciously libertarian are more respectful of the other position on abortion, in my experience, than most pro-lifers and pro-choicers. I do not think there is an official position.
From an interesting Atlantic interview — via Instapundit — titled "America's Libertarian Moment" ("A longtime libertarian policy wonk talks about whether the philosophy can save the GOP -- and why he still doesn't think Rand Paul can win the presidency"). Via Instapundit, who says: "Rand Paul doesn’t have to be elected President to change the direction of the country."

I like libertarians when they back off from stark ideology, which really is not presentable to the American people, who require a closer approximation to something that feels like humanity. It's fascinating to watch Rand Paul supply the performance in the role of Libertarian that Americans can watch.

"By 1970, Dylan was ready for a new game. He was absolutely done with fitting into other people's categories."

"He'd retreated to Nashville to learn from country music, and to upstate New York to woodshed with musicians who loved old hokum and parlor ballads as much as he did. Another Self Portrait captures the casual daring of that time, when Dylan was militant about just one thing: pleasure. The 35 songs that form the heart of this collection, most newly discovered in the Sony vaults and including less heavily produced "mix-down" versions of songs from Self-Portrait and New Morning, shows how Dylan reinvented himself by finding new and rich ways to sing, and freer ways to think musically. The 15 songs you can sample here capture the depth and variety of the larger collection."

From the NPR story on the new/old Dylan album.  Click over there, where you can play 46+ minutes of highlights from the album.

The links in the quote above go to Amazon, in case you want to buy any of those albums, all of which I have bought. "New Morning" is one of my all-time favorite albums. If you know it, you know "Went to See the Gypsy," and the audio at the link begins with another version of "Went to See the Gypsy," a really enjoyable one. A little further in, there's also a version of "Time Passes Slowly," which is also on "New Morning."

"Comedian Amy Schumer says that Comedy Central steered her away from making a suicide joke on her TV show."

"This prompts Emma Garman to wonder whether suicide is the last taboo in comedy. But Michelle Dean suspects Schumer’s set-up just wasn’t funny enough."

More here, with examples of suicide humor in pop culture, including:
Oh my gosh, you can’t consider suicide humor with Joan Rivers, who began making jokes about her husband Edgar almost immediately after he took his own life. She has continued to so, and it was a theme of her roast.  Not too long ago, she made Terry Gross almost speechless with her comic references to it.
And let me add the original movie "MASH." On the TV show, they used the theme music without the lyrics, which were:
Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...
that suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please....
It goes on. Read the plot summary if you don't know sequence about suicide:
Walt Waldowski, the unit's dentist... tells Hawkeye that he suffered a "lack of performance" with a visiting nurse and now believes he has latent homosexual tendencies. He wants to commit suicide, and asks advice on a reliable method. Hawkeye, Trapper and Duke suggest that he use the "black capsule," a fictitious fast-acting poison. At a farewell banquet that apes The Last Supper, Walt takes the capsule (actually a sleeping pill) and falls asleep in a coffin. Hawkeye persuades Lt. Maria Schneider to spend the night with Walt and cure him of his "problem."
I think suicide is an especially apt subject for comedy, and not just because it's a release to be frank or even mean about something serious. I think it's helpful as a deterrent to the suicidal logic that says this will punish those who hurt me or everyone will see how sad I was and feel so sorry for me. If suicide is sacrosanct, it leverages that logic. I know, no one wants to hurt the family and friends of those who have already committed suicide, but on that reasoning, we should never joke about car crashes, cancer, and murder.

Pistorius, indicted on a charge of premeditated murder.

"As he waited for the brief court hearing to begin on Monday, Mr. Pistorius prayed with his family and wept openly. Close friends of Ms. Steenkamp sat on court benches just a few feet away."

The photograph of Pistorious in the courtroom is so artistically dramatic that it looks like a still from a courtroom drama movie that would make me scoff and say: A real courtroom would never have lighting like that — expanses of darkness, spots of light on key faces in the perfectly assembled backdrop of interesting characters, a light fixture "halo" behind the head of the accused, his face lit from the side to heighten his handsome, chiseled features, a light creating a glow behind his neck and shoulders, his clasped hands, hands that so recently prayed, popping with light from... where exactly? Who is that lavishly scarved woman, perfectly lit, placed just at his elbow? What deep meaning lies in that trio of dark ladies lined up between the accused's other elbow and that theatrically ugly man at the extreme right? Witness that man, center right, who lifts his arm as if to shield himself from The Lord's Justice or to swim away through The Souls of The Damned.

Real life never looks like those cheesy, idiotic movies.

"Little Chrissy, say sugar."

Here's a clip from one of my favorite movies, "Pecker"...



... which I was watching this morning, because I saw that I'd been mentioned on Facebook. It was Annie Gottlieb saying "Ann Althouse, do not watch" about a pre-production trailer to a movie called "Squirrels."



I said, " So... that did make me click, but I stopped at 0:43. I don't want to see the squirrel bite off the girl's finger. And isn't that the girl who played Little Chrissy in 'Pecker'?"

I looked it up and saw that "Pecker" was made a long time ago, in 1998. I am getting old! So is the actress that played Little Chrissy, whose name, I see, is Lauren Hulsey. She looks like this now and seems to work not so much as an actress, but in visual effects. Perhaps she got into that through her experience making "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2," where they made her look like this.

I guess there's a creepy kid category within child acting. Back when I was a kid, the #1 creepy kid was Billy Mumy. And I mean pre-"Lost in Space," particularly the "Twilight Zone" episode "It's a Good Life."

Recommended Amazon Instant Video: "It's a Good Life" and "Pecker."

August 18, 2013

The Slow Bicycle Movement.

"Participants say slower riding is a backlash to today's hard-core fitness world, brimming with boot camps and mud runs."
Average cycling speeds are hard to figure since bikes differ widely. But Ms. Peterson's group in Alabama says its riders mosey along at the low end of a range of 8 to 10 miles an hour. Over in Huntsville, Ala., the Spring City Cycling Club's "steady-pace fat-burning ride" touts an average pace of 15-17 mph...
I'm interested to see that I've been part of a movement these last 4 years.

"This was supposed to be a cube."

"I thought it was some kind of sea life, or a walking brain, someone else mentioned Cthulu, then there's the War of the Worlds tentacle walking machine, though some variations have a tripod of stick legs."

From the Flickr set "The Art of 3D Print Failure," via BBC.com.

"This is the Bobbitt case, done right."

"Who cares even if he abused her. You don't go murdering people in their sleep just because. If a kid shoots up his school because he was bullied, we don't go 'oh he was bullied, so it's okay.' She has how many options to dealing with this? Murder isn't one of them, and any woman who kills for whatever reason (short of self defense) should have the book thrown at her."

My favorite view of the Iowa state capitol.

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If some artist sought to conceive of an installation and construct it on site, he could not do better. Reality! So brilliant! So perfect!

"But then most things in Des Moines in the 1950s were the best of their type."

Wrote Bill Bryson in his memoir "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid":
We had the smoothest, most mouth-pleasing banana cream pie at the Toddle House.... We had the most vividly delicious neon-colored ice creams at Reed’s, a parlor of cool opulence near Ashworth Swimming Pool (itself the handsomest, most elegant public swimming pool in the world, with the slimmest, tannest female lifeguards) in Greenwood Park (best tennis courts, most decorous lagoon, comeliest drives). Driving home from Ashworth Pool through Greenwood Park, under a flying canopy of green leaves, nicely basted in chlorine and knowing that you would shortly be plunging your face into three gooey scoops of Reed’s ice cream is the finest feeling of well-being a human can have.

"No 11-year-old child should have to see his parent treated like a criminal for no reason whatsoever."

"And no Englishman enjoying a ramble with his son should face examination by police at the roadside on suspicion of being a sexual predator. Astonishingly – and I find it difficult, some days after the event, to comprehend that I am writing this now – this is what has just  happened to my son and me."

Writes the well-known author Will Self.

"Having constructed a civilization capable of observing our still paradisiacal world from objectivity-inducing distances..."

"... we need to set aside our squabbles, recognize that we face a species-wide threat, and use our scientific-technical genius to protect the only known home of life in the universe."

(Amazing photos and videos at the link, accompanied by chiding narrative.)

Bumper stickers in a Lincoln, Nebraska parking lot.

Car #1 (click to enlarge): 3 Pro-Life stickers + "Abolish the IRS."

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Car #2: Obama hugs Michelle for "Four more years."

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"New 'Crystal Ball' frontrunner for GOP nomination: Scott Walker?"

Allahpundit says "it’s the first time I’ve seen a major elections analyst name Walker as the man to beat."
I agree with the basic outline: There’ll be a centrist champion, a right-wing champion, and then a compromise candidate who can draw from both camps. Sabato thinks that’s Christie, Rand Paul, and Walker, respectively. I think it’s likelier to be Christie, Cruz, and Rubio, with Rand Paul an X factor fueled by libertarians, but oh well.
Walker is the compromise and somebody else is right wing? That sounds so weird here in Madison.
Sabato lists one of Walker’s potential key disadvantages as being too bland a la Tim Pawlenty. Really? The guy who broke the unions in Wisconsin and then humiliated big labor by winning his recall fight? He won’t have a blandness problem. 
Could you watch the video of Walker in the recall debate and rethink why he wins around here (and by here I mean Wisconsin, not Madison)? I'm not sure people around the country really get the Midwestern style. If you know Walker for standing up to the noisy protesters, you may picture him out there fighting, but in fact, he stayed calm and mostly out of sight and waited for the protests to die down, which they eventually did. The GOP had the votes in the legislature, so they simply took action.

"Un zoo du centre de la Chine est devenu la risée des internautes du monde entier après avoir tenté de faire passer un chien – un imposant mastiff tibétain – pour un lion africain."

"Plusieurs médias chinois avaient attiré l'attention cette semaine sur ce parc animalier de Luohan, dans la province du Henan, où un gros chien roux à l'épaisse crinière était logé dans une cage dotée d'un panneau 'Lion d'Afrique.' Selon le journal Jinghua Shibao, le zoo, qui a présenté des excuses publiques, a décidé vendredi de fermer ses portes "à des fins de rectification."

I love Tibetan Mastiffs, and who really is hurt if we say it's a lion? And this, children, is the ferocious lion of Africa! Now, it's time for us to take our terrifying panther out for a walk — on a leash! — around the neighborhood.

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"When a state massacres 600 demonstrators, it is not just its own citizens it murders."

"It also kills the possibility of compromise. The perpetrators mean you to understand that there can be no going back. When they kill, they are well aware that they are shedding too much blood for normal politics to kick in and allow differences to be patched up and deals made."
The killers have the swagger of gangsters. "We know," they seem to say, "that we are breaking all the basic standards of civilised behaviour. We know people will hate us until the day we die for what we have done today. But do you know what? We don't care."

"I am new to this world of junket interviews, where journalists queue to interview a celebrity."

"I've been called awkward, or bumbling, or rookie in some of the articles about the interview..."
... but I'd rather that and be myself, and find out things I find interesting, than try to stitch up or take advantage of someone I respect.

I want to know what we may have in common, rather than the stuff that makes us different...

Yes, I'm nervous, but the junket environment makes it even harder. Sitting in front of Jennifer Aniston is a once-in-a-lifetime chance: I'm not the right guy to use that one chance to try to catch her out.
Watch the viral interview here.

Robin Thicke, getting the jump on copyright claims that "Blurred Lines" ripped off Marvin Gaye and Funkadelic.

After the owners of the rights to Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" and Funkadelic's "Sexy Ways" threatened to sue Thicke, Thicke filed a preemptive lawsuit.
The lawsuit says Thicke [and others] have "the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies," but must "reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists."
You can listen to all 3 songs at the link. I like this lawsuit, because "Blurred Lines" isn't copying those other 2 songs. It's a tribute to that old style, not a copying. Naturally, the Gaye and Funkadelic property owners feel the normal human greed and would like some "Blurred Lines" cash thrown their way, but these threats of lawsuits deserve legal pushback, and I like seeing the new artist doing something that will deter that tactic. I'm not an intellectual property expert, so I'll let others weigh in on the likelihood that Thicke will get the judicial remedy he seeks.

"You just didn’t see women taking over and beating up men in those days."

"Russ did something no one else had the imagination to do. And he was smart to use three bodied-up women, so whether the picture’s good or not, you still sort of stare at it."

Said Haji, one of the stars of the 1965 Russ Meyer movie “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.” She died last week at the age of 67.

Bodied up. Bodied out.

"'Westward'... a symbolical presentation of the Pioneers led by the spirits of Civilization and Enlightenment to the conquest by cultivation of the Great West."

The painter Edwin H. Blashfield explains his painting, which holds a place of honor in the Grand Stairway of the Iowa state capitol building, which we visited yesterday. I'm amazed at the celestial delicacy of females...

Untitled

That's not the way I'd pictured pioneers, and these lovely ladies seem mismatched to the more stereotypically pioneer males:

It's Clint Eastwood on a miniature pony in 1970.



(Just something random from the past, that is, something from Retronaut.)