August 31, 2013

Look out!

This happened in Taiwan:



(Via Metafilter.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Ivy observes that you can see the beginning of this amazing incident at 0:03. She tells you where to look, but I won't put that on the front page. It's more interesting to watch the first time without the spoiler. If you watch this once, you will watch it more than once. I had watched this about 10 times without seeing what she pointed out.

Looking for the war protest. Part 2: The video.

Meade and I approach the Capitol, here in Madison, Wisconsin, on a Saturday morning, thinking if there's going to be action, it will be here. This is before Obama emerged to say that he was going to ask permission from Congress. This is a 10 minute video, but it's edited and moves quickly, I think. Look at the tags below to get an idea of what's in store:

Looking for the war protest... this morning in Madison, Wisconsin.

"Make love, not war" says the chalking.

Untitled

But most folks down at the Capitol were browsing the Farmers Market:

Untitled

"Obama = Bush."

Nicely played, Mr. Obama.

Besieged on all sides, he made the right move. He's asking Congress, obviously because he wants to be told "no," but this way he'll be able to blame Congress for any bad consequences or accusations of such.
In a hastily organized appearance in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama said he had decided that the United States should use force but would wait for a vote from lawmakers, who are not due to return to town for more than a week. Mr. Obama said he believed he has authority to act on his own but did not say whether he would if Congress rejects his plan.
Hastily organized... Congress out of town... Cameron just got out of having to participate by getting his "no" from the legislature... sending Kerry out yesterday to test the reaction was a total bomb. It's kind of a little obvious, and he didn't really have another good move, but I'm going to celebrate the occasion with a Nicely played, Mr. Obama.

ADDED: I would have put this post up a lot sooner, but Meade and I went downtown to see what kind of anti-war protests there might be here in Madison. I'll have some amusing video soon.

“How do you ask a man to be the [first] man to die for a mistake?”

Meade IM's a rewrite of John Kerry's famous Vietnam question: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"



The rewrite is on the occasion of John Kerry's new role as Secretary of Defense State:
Kerry Becomes Chief Advocate for U.S. Attack
Jabbing his finger at the lectern, his voice forceful, his words brimming with indignation, John Kerry laid out the case like the prosecutor he once was, making a closing argument to a skeptical jury.

Again and again, some 24 times in all, he used the phrase “we know” as he described the intelligence that Syria’s government massacred more than 1,400 people with chemical weapons. And then, while saying no decision had been made, he left no doubt that the United States would respond with military power.
Here's Bruce Springsteen in 2007 — back when Bush was Prez and everything sounded different —  yelling and guitarizing the morality of "Last to Die":
Who'll be the last to die for a mistake
The last to die for a mistake
Darlin' will tyrants and kings fall to the same fate
Strung up at your city gates
And you're the last to die for a mistake
I don't know, darlin', but darlin' Barack is President now. Let's check the Springsteen set lists. "Last to Die" is #108 on his most-played list and — by coincidence — it's been played 108 times. (For comparison: "Born to Run" is #1 and has been played 1347 times.) Springsteen has only played "Last to Die" 4 times during the Obama administration, 3 times in October 2009 and 1 last March. (The other 104 times were from September 2007, when it was first played, to August 30, 2008.)

Bruce's current tour is called the "Wrecking Ball Tour" so maybe his more into destruction these days, but I suspect the tour name is just a 64-year-old man's effort to maintain the ethos of rock and roll. Maybe he supports Barack Obama's military adventures, because, you know, it's Barack Obama, man.

I mean, I am just generally wondering, where are all the war protests? I was thinking about going down to the Capital Square this morning. It's a summer Saturday here in Madison, Wisconsin, and the crowds are there, at least for the Farmers Market. There should be some protesters, don't you think? Anti-war protesters, not just anti-governor-trying-to-balance-the-budget protesters.

But I'd like to see Bruce Springsteen whip out "Last to Die" and tweak it to "First to Die." 

"Washington Post’s ‘second look at statutory rape’ click-trolling inspires #WaPoPitches."

"Is the Washington Post getting into Slate’s business of click-trolling, or do the paper’s editors really think it’s time for a national conversation on sex between teachers and underage students?"

"I don’t care who you are; it’s not right to put a human person’s ashes in a Wal-Mart bag."

When you get cremated remains, they're in a plastic bag inside whatever outer container you ordered — perhaps the standard cardboard box, perhaps some urn that you imagined was what urns are supposed to look like. How you feel when you receive that package will depend on a lot of things, but seeing the plastic bag — especially if you chose the ancient-bronze-looking Vessel of Somber Respect — is probably going to hurt. So then what if you pull the bag out and see that it's the cut off bottom of a bag that you recognize as a Wal-Mart bag?

If you're this lady in Ohio, you call the local TV station and let them put you in front of a camera to enact your grief. And you name the funeral home on television and to the Kentucky attorney general’s office and the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. The woman's ex-husband, father of the 17-year-old boy who died of a heart condition, also appears on camera, just to say what the funeral home did was "not malicious."

What if your family member had died, and you discovered the ground-up bones they gave you — they aren't really "ashes" — are in a Wal-Mart bag? Fragile souls should close that container back up and forget about it. Cover memories of the bag with memories of the dead person. Look at your best photographs. Remember life.

For less fragile souls: Find the humor. A remark about the value of recycling or what the dead one thought of Wal-Mart — for example: "He was always trying to get me to shop at Wal-Mart and I said I wanted a more posh shopping experience, and now, I can hear him laughing at me for wanting a more posh urn experience. Laughing at me from the grave. I mean from the goddamned Wal-Mart bag. No, not damned. He's not damned. He's gone to the Big Box Store in the Sky."

ADDED: Inevitable movie reference:

August 30, 2013

The NYT public editor has "found that The Times sometimes writes about the administration’s point of view in The Times’s own voice..."

"...  rather than providing distance through clear attribution. This is a subtle thing, and individual examples are bound to seem unimportant, but consider, for example, the second paragraph of Friday’s lead story. (The boldface emphasis is mine.)"
The negative vote in Britain’s Parliament was a heavy blow to Prime Minister David Cameron, who had pledged his support to Mr. Obama and called on lawmakers to endorse Britain’s involvement in a brief operation to punish the government of President Bashar al-Assad for apparently launching a deadly chemical weapons attack last week that killed hundreds.
"With the use of the word 'apparently' – rather than directly attributing the administration, The Times seems to take the government’s position at face value."

ADDED: The quoted sentence is bad for another reason. There's way too much happening in that sentence ,and phrases end up saying things that are not intended and that we're supposed to straighten out in our heads. Specifically, Cameron didn't call for punishing Assad "for apparently launching" the attack.

Cameron called for punishment for launching the attack, which Cameron believes happened. You only impose the punishment if you're satisfied that the thing deserving punishment happened. It's a separate issue whether it happened. The writer of the sentence and the editor who accepted it realized they don't know, so they wedged "apparently" into the sentence.

That's a type of error that you see all the time, often with the word "allegedly," as in: "John Smith was charged with allegedly murdering Joe Blow." No! Smith was charged with murdering Blow. Whether he did it or not may be in question, but the charge is murder, not alleged murder. You could say that it is alleged that Smith murdered Blow, but no one is charged with alleged murder.

Quite aside from the problem of journalists psychically merging with the government, there's flat out bad writing. Write better sentences that say only exactly what you know. Words like "allegedly" and "apparently" can help, but pay attention to where you put them and whether you're creating new, unintended inaccuracies.

"What Did the Rebel Yell Sound Like?"

"In this exclusive clip from the 1930s, Confederate veterans step up to the mic and let out their version of the fearsome rallying cry:"

"You're short, fat and white. Don't talk to me like that."

Said the Waukesha bus driver.

"All right, you guys. I like some of you. I hate some of you. Uhhhh."

"I forgive some of you. But I don't forgive all of you. You guys have totally ruined my chances of running for Congress or something. Thank you. Good night."

ADDED: "'Was any of it intentional? Like when Andy Kaufman read all of The Great Gatsby onstage, was part of this anti-comedy?' I don’t think so."

Obama has "not made any decisions" on Syria.

But he's "not considering any open-ended commitment." And "In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long-term campaign."

Does Taylor Swift sound like Hitler?

Take the Taylor-or-Hitler test. I did. I only got 60%.

Do not compare yourself to others. If you do so you are insulting yourself.

"I would like to relive my entire childhood with a mother like this, please."

"Thanks."

AND: There's a comparison to "The Monster Engine" ("What would a child’s drawing look like if it were painted realistically?").

"If a father and his son take a widow and her daughter in marriage, so that the son marries the mother and the father the daughter..."

"... say, please, what is the relationship between the sons they will bear?"

ADDED: Based on the comments, nobody got what I found amusing here, undoubtedly because they didn't click through.

"David Miranda was carrying password for secret files on piece of paper."

Reckless.

A level of concern for security lower than what I have for my Facebook page.

#13 is not like the other photos that won the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest 2013.

The photographer's explanation of his photograph:
I was in Barcelona for a week shooting the local BMX scene. Barcelona is definitely one of the most interesting BMX Meccas in the world, with many street spots where you can ride all day. After a hard day of searching for different spots, I shot this picture where an old man was angry with one of the local riders (Nil Soler), thinking that what he was doing was a bad thing for the city. He doesn't understand it's only BMX! After this mishap, which is usual in Barcelona lately, we continued our search for new images, new spots and new sensations.
From the comments:
The man in #13 is of course right. All this stunting should be limited to locations not in nature and not on other people's property including public space and infrastructure.

And despite the prettiness of some photos all this Red Bull crazy acting stuff is dangerous and people die in attempts to please Red Bull in commisioned shoots. So don't give away your photos for a tray of Red Bull or for nothing but a name quote. Nobody reads these but yourself.
Yeah, look at photo #3 and think of Mario Richard. Or — what the hell? — continue your search for new images, new spots, and new sensations.

And the award for Getting to the High Ground While Ditching Your Spouse Who Got Cancer goes to Catherine Zeta-Jones.

"The Welsh actress, 43, split from [Michael] Douglas, 68, after he claimed that his throat cancer was caused by the HPV virus, which he contracted from giving oral sex. Douglas did not make it clear he was exposed to HPV BEFORE meeting his wife, who felt this was the last straw."

Hey, old man, while you're busy dying of cancer, how about making it clear whose parts you were tonguing at the time you contracted that damned cancer that's screwing up my life too. Huh? Would it be too much trouble?!

I'm dying and you're going to needle me about the precision of speech?! The precision of the speech coming out of my CANCEROUS THROAT??!!!!

This is the last straw!

The last straw? The last straw?! Like there were all those other straws?

As a matter of fact, yes. There's the straw that's the fact that you are 25 year older than me and the straw that's me being so much prettier than you. Especially now that you've got throat cancer.

You monster! You won't look so pretty when the whole world sees what a monster you are.

The world will see one thing and one thing only: You said you got throat cancer from cunnilingus with me.

"I dress left. Way left. Far left, filling the pant leg."

"I have always dressed left. I will always dress left. It’s just the way it is. I do not and cannot go right. It defies logic. It does not compute. When I am with people who dress right, I feel like a member of the Star Ship Enterprise listening to Klingons without the help of a universal translator.
I feel that left dressers are open minded.

I feel that those whose appendages sway right are often – pardon the pun – rigid and dogmatic.

I feel that left dressers are compassionate.  I feel right dressers are penurious.
Ha ha. Read the whole thing. That's something I found while looking for something to put at the link on "dress right or dress left" in my "hideously asymmetrical" post.

The blogger — A Desperate Man — is Stephen Metcalfe, who's a playwright, screenwriter and director. His film credits include some movies I've seen, like "Arachnophobia" and "Pretty Woman."

"Barely a third of U.S. senators pay their interns — and embarrassingly for Democrats, a party focused on workplace welfare, most of them are Republicans."

Under the heading "EXPLOITATION," Instapundit links to this piece in The Atlantic.

No pay is the ultimate defense against the accusation of low pay.

It's the difference between a girlfriend and a cheap prostitute.

If you don't have the money to buy something at a price that won't offend the seller, you should try to get it for free. Then the seller is flattered.

This is the way the world works. Not everything is commerce, or — I should say — not everything is always usefully portrayed as commerce. The only hypocrisy I see in Congress here is that whenever they want to use their Commerce Power, they'll argue that their regulatory target is commerce.

"Obviously not designed by a heterosexual man. It looks damaged and hideously asymmetrical."

Says Clyde, in the comments to the post about that very bizarre (and asymmetrical dress Cate Blanchett wore to the Paris premiere of "Blue Jasmine").

I say:
Heteros are bugs for symmetry and on guard for hideousness and damage? What evidence is there of that?

I see hetero men around all the time who don't seem to mind hideousness and damage.
Clyde says:

August 29, 2013

A white supremacist buys up land in a little North Dakota town, gets an NYT article written about him.

"People have knocked on [Paul Craig] Cobb’s red door to offer to buy back his land and to preach the Gospel."
The City Council is looking into potential ordinance or health code violations (his home has no septic tank or running water). There is a doomsday plan in place, Mr. Schock explained: If enough of Mr. Cobb’s friends move in to gain a majority that could vote out the current government, the Council would immediately dissolve the town....

“Just want to let you know I’m not going to cause any trouble,” he said to Don Hauge, 61, who rolled up in a red Chevy pickup truck to where Mr. Cobb was sitting on a bench, peering through smudged rectangular glasses that slid down the bridge of his nose. Mr. Cobb is a lanky figure, dressed neatly in a button-down shirt tucked into slender black slacks he says he bought from someone who had stolen them, and rubber sandals.
It's a little hard to figure out what the issue is, in this, a free country.  Here's a key paragraph:
The Southern Poverty Law Center and The Bismarck Tribune revealed that the man, Paul Craig Cobb, 61, has been buying up property in this town of 24 people in an effort to transform it into a colony for white supremacists.
What constitutes a "colony"? Like-minded people converging on the same place? What makes that wrong? Isn't that the story of America?

I'm not a fan of white supremacists, just of the freedom of thought and speech and the right to migrate and to buy property. The fact that Cobb is "wanted in Canada on charges of promoting hatred" only underscores these American values, which are also offended by looking for health code violations because you don't like someone's political opinions.

"The Obama administration on Thursday said it would not sue to undo laws legalizing marijuana in 20 states..."

"... although it will monitor operations in those states to make sure they do not run afoul of several enforcement priorities."
In a memo sent to federal prosecutors nationwide on Thursday, James M. Cole, the deputy attorney general, laid out eight priority enforcement areas. They are aimed at preventing marijuana sales to children, illegal cartel activity, interstate trafficking of marijuana, and violence and accidents involving the drug.
But:
Last week, the White House said President Obama did not support changing federal laws regulating marijuana, which treat the drug as a highly dangerous substance with no medical purpose.

"What Happens When You Stand For 2 Years."

"I didn’t develop any knee, foot, back, or hip pains. I don’t feel exhausted at the end of the day or week.... My posture improved. My neck and shoulders no longer pitch forward. My legs became more muscular. I no longer get back pain...."

I enjoyed reading that. You know I'm a big fan of my motorized sit/stand desk, and I need more reason to opt for the up position.

Somehow, this topic got me around to buying an Indo Board IndoFLO Balance Stimulator. It hasn't arrived yet, but I'll let you know how it works out. This video influenced me. (If you are younger/more athletic, consider this.)

"He’s like the biker angel of Kotex."

It's Johnny Weir and it's getting the men in shorts tag.

"All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes."

The U.S. Department of the Treasury adopts its position in response to the Supreme Court's DOMA case. This in my view is unquestionably the correct response. It means that if a couple marries in a place that permits same-sex marriage, they'll be considered legally married regardless of where they currently reside and whether that place recognizes same-sex marriage.
“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”
As for past tax years that are still open under the statute of limitations, you're given an option to file an amended return and be accepted as married, but you don't have to. So, if your tax bill would be less being considered unmarried, even when you were, you get to keep that advantage you had for those years. If you'll pay less by filing as married, you should file the amended return. Going forward, if you're married, you're married for federal tax purposes. You can't move to a state that doesn't recognize your marriage as a way to reduce your tax bill.

Rush Limbaugh cites facts that raise the "the obvious question: How do elections happen the way they do?"

The facts:
CNN is down, the networks are down, while conservative books sell through the wazoo and end up number one on the New York Times list.

The most listened to radio talk shows are conservative.  The most watched cable news network is conservative. ... We own books; we own talk radio; we own cable news. 
His answer is:
We're nowhere in the pop culture.  We are nowhere in movies.  We're nowhere in television shows.  We are nowhere in music.  Nowhere!

On the fiction side of books, we're nowhere, in terms of what conservatism is, being cool and plot lines and that kind of thing.  We're not in the classroom, we're not in academia, we're not the professors and the presidents of universities.  We are not school superintendents.  Those are very crucial because they get people when they're young, young skulls full of mush. They get to make and form those brains and basically propagandize them and indoctrinate them however they wish.
It wasn't liberals who originated the idea that has most famously been phrased: "Give me the child for his first seven years, and I'll give you the man." That was the methodology of traditional religion. Liberals — of both the right and left — should value the autonomy of the young. They should revere it. They should perform their sacred duty to develop and guide young mind. Yet they fight for the power to indoctrinate. Shame on all of them.

The central characters in good pop culture stories tend to be free and independent, so Rush's frustration that conservatives can't get hold of the "fiction side" of things is reason for hope. Left-wingers of the big government variety should have the same problem appropriating pop culture. Even if the various stars mouth left-wing propaganda, they can't imprint that agenda in the stories, which require strongly autonomous heroes and heroines.

Kim Jong-Un has his ex-girlfriend — a North Korean pop star — executed by firing squad.

Hyon Song-wol was one of a dozen pop singers who were machine gunned for (supposedly) violating anti-pornography laws.
One source told [South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo] that some of the victims were clutching Bibles as they were killed in front of their loved ones — who were then ordered to live in the country’s notorious prison camps after they were found guilty by association.
Here's video of Hyon Song-wol singing "A Girl in the Saddle of a Steed":



According to Wikipedia, that was her greatest hit:
Our factory comrades say in jest,
Why, they tell me I am a virgin on a stallion,
After a full day's work I still have energy left...
They say I am a virgin on a stallion,
Mounting a stallion my Dear Leader gave me.
All my life I will live to uphold his name!

"A Colorado man brutally battered a raccoon to death with a nail-studded board to avenge the killing of his cat years before..."

"'All raccoon must die,' Moller allegedly screamed.... Cops called to the scene found one dead raccoon. The other injured animal escaped before they could catch it."

"Honestly, to whatever extent this is working, it’s working because it’s on Cate Blanchett."

"Except for maybe Tilda, we doubt anyone else could wear this without looking batshit insane or like they just walked away from some horrible, flaming industrial accident."

"Rare candid shots by Andy Warhol..."

"... released."

What should you be paying attention to right now?

"Errol Morris' documentary 'The Unknown Known,' a look at former Secretary of Defense and Iraq war architect Donald Rumsfeld will also hit the festival trifecta."
The director famously profiled another polarizing defense secretary, Robert McNamara, in his 2003 film 'The Fog of War'; that movie brought Morris and Michael Williams the Oscar for best documentary. The Rumsfeld film's U.S. release date has not been finalized.
I love Morris, and "Fog of War" was great. I look forward to seeing how Rumsfeld handles the intense Interrotron interrogation. By the way, I see that Rumsfeld is criticizing Obama's approach to war in Syria.

And here's McCain urging Obama along (via Real Clear Politics).

But don't get distracted. Pay attention to something that's truly alarming: Sandra Bullock in SPACE!

Miley Cyrus "stepped out in some comfy pajamas and unicorn slippers (and a Chanel handbag...)."

Good move (presumably by her stylist). Keep people guessing. Keep people looking. Keep people off balance wondering/worrying whether they are feeling sexual toward a child.

August 28, 2013

Thanks...

... to everyone who's been using the Althouse Amazon Portal to do their shopping. It's a nice way to show your appreciation for this blog. It's encouraging!

"Corey Feldman threw himself a $250-per-guy birthday party with lingerie girls..."

"... and some jerk made it look kinda sad."
The problem began with the publication of VICE editor Jamie Lee Curtis Taete’s “I Went To Corey Feldman’s Birthday Party,” a firsthand account of a soiree recently Feldman threw himself in “The Feldmansion”....

Unfortunately, despite Taete’s introductory note explaining he was only allowed to attend on condition of allowing Feldman final edit of the piece—and that the story thus represented “text approved by Corey Feldman”—something about the way Taete captured his Corey’s Angels party didn’t sit well with Feldman....

“It’s called defamation of character and slander n I’m pretty sure those things r still illegal n this country,” Feldman tweeted....
Feldman approved the text, yet he's crying defamation... apparently because of the photographs. Well, go over and look at the photographs. As the headline says: some jerk made it look kinda sad.

A new "Dictionary of Received Ideas."

I've been threatening to write a new "Dictionary of Received Ideas" for years — as clicking on the "Dictionary of Received Ideas" tag will prove — so a reader sent me the link to this new New Yorker piece, by Teju Cole, which is exactly that, beginning with an explanation of the original "Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues," by Gustave Flaubert:
What galls Flaubert most is the inevitability, given an action, of a certain standard reaction. We could learn from his impatience: there are too many standard formulations in our language. They stand in place of thought, but we proclaim them each time—due to laziness, prejudice, or hypocrisy—as though they were fresh insight.
The great thing about pinning down these things is that now, anyone serving up the received idea can be forced to acknowledge that their insight is totally stale. If the book isn't written however, you're forced to say things like: If I were writing a new "Dictionary of Received Ideas," I would put [whatever you just said] next to [name the topic that had come up in conversation]. For example, to draw on a topic discussed earlier today on this blog: Travel. My entry for "Travel" would be: It broadens the mind. 

ADDED: Here is my collection, gathered from old posts. I could generate many more using my tags, but here are the 11 entries I've literally said belong in a new "Dictionary of Received Ideas," arranged alphabetically:
Action: When referring to the government, assert that it shouldn't be taken "unilaterally."
Alito: refer to him as Scalito.
Blackmun: Quote "Poor Joshua!"
Barbie: Imagine how she'd look if her proportions matched those of a real woman.
Contradiction: If accused of contradiction, quote Walt Whitman: "Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself/(I am large, I contain multitudes.)" Shorter form: say you "contain multitudes."
David Brooks: Impressed by the crease in Barack Obama's pants.
Federal Jurisdiction: Arcane.
Mark Madoff: Hanged himself with a dog leash.
Opposed: Always add "unequivocally."
Presidential nominating conventions: Be sure to use the phrase "tightly scripted."
Weather: When cold, make wry comment about global warming.
NOTE: The entry for "Action" was written in 2004. It would need to be updated to account for the Obama years: 
Action: When referring to the government, assert that it shouldn't be taken "unilaterally." If desired action can only be taken unilaterally, say that your opponents are "obstructionist."
The "Contradiction" entry should have "see 'Consistency,' and there should be an entry:
Consistency: "The hobgoblin of little minds." Emerson said that.

The quadruple take is in a completely different category from the single, double, and triple takes.

Patrick Stewart explains:



(The feet belong to his girlfriend.)

"The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains."

"We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain."

James Taranto considers my warnings against counter-Trayvonism.

In his Best of the Web column today. Excerpt:
We are... dubious of Althouse's assertion that counter-Trayvonism plays into the hands of the left....

Saul Alinsky's fourth rule was: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." The counter-Trayvonists may ultimately be wrongheaded, but if they can provoke as conventional a liberal as Josh Marshall into disparaging "the racial victimization bus" — a colorblind sentiment if ever there was one — then perhaps they serve a dialetical purpose.

The jury grants Nidal Malik Hasan's request for martyrdom.

Or: The jury agrees with the prosecutor's argument that to give Hasan the death penalty would not be to make him a martyr.
“Do not be fooled,” Colonel Mulligan said. “He is not giving his life. We are taking his life. This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society.”

"My mobile phone rang and when I asked who it was, he responded, 'The Pope.'"

"I just froze."

"8 Reasons Not to Go to War in Syria."

"1. If the rebels win, it’s bad news for the U.S.... 2. If Assad wins, it’s bad news for the U.S...."

"They're not from here; they're tourists... They don't even speak English. They were very confused. "

"They had no idea how they wound up on the bridge," said the cop.
"I don't know how that would happen," said tourist Mike Norton to ABC. "They give you a little training before. They tell you don't take any bridges. I don't know what would possess you to take the bridge!"
Meanwhile: "Lost Tourist assumes all these people are in the wrong place not the other way around."

The philosophy of travel... the psychology of travel...

I've been looking into the philosophy of travel, and I'm trying to get beyond the psychology of travel. It's not an easy journey, but at least I don't have to go through a metal detector and TSA patdown, and I can surround myself with >4 oz. glasses of whatever liquids I like. Here's the first substantial thing I found, a March 2000 essay by Pico Iyer: "Why we travel."

Let's see how far I can get on this leg of my journey. Iyer begins:
We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more....
See? This is mostly psychology. What motivates us to go. (And I really don't believe people travel in order to spread their wealth to places that are relatively poor. Just give to charity. Or does he mean that we benefit the less fortunate by inflicting our physical presence upon them?)

The speech by the speechmaker about The Speech by The Speechmaker.

The 50-year anniversary of Martin Luther King's "Dream" speech isn't about Obama except to the extent it is.

We'll see what happens in the speeches today, speeches about a speech, but MLK was much more than that speech, though over the years MLK has been reframed as That Speech, which works to align Obama with MLK, since Obama is, above all, the speechmaker, even though he too is so much more. He's the President of the United States, and we need him to do so much more than give another speech — my God, we are going to war, war over weapons of mass destruction, war without the United Nations, without the coalition of the willing, without the authorization of Congress — but today he'll be giving another speech, a speech about The Speech, the speech by the speechmaker about The Speech by The Speechmaker.

August 27, 2013

What's happening these days at Grey Gardens?

For many of us, Grey Gardens means Big Edie and Little Edie in a movie engraved on our hearts. Rufus Wainwright sang about that.

But here it is mentioned by Howie Kurtz, who's at Fox News these days, taking a shot at Pari Bradlee, the daughter-in-law of Ben Bradlee, who once ran WaPo, the newspaper Kurtz abandoned:

"Why are Feminists Judging Miley Cyrus?"

Asks Rush Limbaugh.
I thought we didn't have the right to judge somebody else's morality, and I thought we didn't have a right to comment.... Why does this upset these "progressive" women?...

Feminists.  Women who proudly think of themselves as independent, don't need a man for any reason whatsoever, don't need a relationship for any reason whatsoever -- a sperm bank is all you need and a dog -- are the ones who are upset about it.  (Not a cat.  It's gotta be a dog.)  Miley Cyrus, do I think she's being...? (interruption) Oh, do the upset feminazis think she's being subservient to men by doing this?  It's [an] interesting question....

Because they're the ones who told us, "Little girls are gonna have sex. You can't stop it. So introduce them to Planned Parenthood, introduce them to condoms, introduce them to cigarettes afterwards on the nightstand, introduce 'em to rooms in your house instead of the backseat of the car."  Yeah.  Why are they upset about it?  It's an interesting question.
Speaking of questions... what's this Not a cat/It's gotta be a dog?

But back to the main question: Obviously, our culture is deeply confused about young people and sexuality. It's not just feminists.

UPDATE: Miley toys with the confusion.

"12 Personal Finance Lessons, Broken Down, In Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine.'"

A nicely done piece in Forbes, which I arrived at after Googling "blue jasmine is a movie about handbags," because that's what I said at the end of the closing credits: "That movie was about handbags." In the middle of the movie, I nudged Meade and said: "I've never seen a movie with so many women so attached to their handbags."

The 2 main female characters were constantly carrying around big handbags. One of them was dancing at a party with a big, clunky bag hanging from her shoulder. There was a scene where the 2 women carried big bags while buying a smaller bag, and yet they continued to carry big bags after that. We saw the main character — Jasmine, played by Cate Blanchett — dig in her bag for money, throw her bag on a sofa in a tantrum, accidentally dump the contents of the bag on the street in a moment of hysteria.

That darned bag — Hermes — should get a nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role.

But importantly — spoiler alert — when Jasmine leaves the apartment in the final scene, after she takes the shower, she walks out to go wandering the streets talking to herself, she has no handbag. That's how you know she's really crazy now. She was pretty much crazy from the first scene, but she had her handbag every step of the way. And now: No handbag!

Why don't those who advocate locavore cooking and native plants in gardening...

... also oppose traveling to foreign places?

Once you make it a matter of principle that we should eat and garden within our local environment of plants and animals, shouldn't you recognize yourself as an animal, belonging properly to your area, and refrain from sojourns to exotic places? Perhaps you ought to restrict yourself to a walkable radius?

This post has 2 points:

1. To notice the incompleteness of the ideology of ideologues.

2. To explore the philosophy of travel.

ADDED: What would be the word for moving about only locally, the word to correspond to "locavore"? Shouldn't it be locomotive? According to the OED, "locomotive" is composed of the Latin locō (the ablative of locus, which means "place") and motivus (which means "motive" or that which causes motion). 

"Locavore" is not in the OED, but I wonder what the "a" is doing in that word. Wikitionary shows the etymology as "From loca- by analogy with local, location, locomotive, locus, and so on, and -vore by analogy with carnivore, herbivore, and so on. Coined by Jen Maiser, Jessica Prentice, Sage Van Wing, and DeDe Sampson, co-founders of the 'Locavores' Web site." Was it ignorance of Latin roots or fear of being taken to be loco (i.e., crazy)?

"40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World."

Please check these out. Spend as much time as you like. Then, I'd like to ask you a question. Don't click "more" until you've looked at the maps.

Bubonic plague death.

From eating infected marmot.

The rodeo clown speaks.



"I didn't do this to do any hating on anyone. I did it to be funny. I did it to be a joke."
This bit, this clown bit has been around for generations. And I didn't think anything more of it than what we've done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we've done it with Bush and Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

I actually think that a lot of people have lost their ability to laugh. Look at the country as a whole. There's a lot more to be mad at than a rodeo clown at a rodeo trying to make somebody laugh.

"It would be hours before officials in Washington woke up on Wednesday to learn the extent of the massacre."

"President Obama, who had recently returned from a weeklong vacation and planned a quiet day at the White House before departing for a two-day bus tour across New York and Pennsylvania, was told of the attack in the Oval Office that morning during his regular intelligence briefing."

That's paragraph 6 of a NYT article headlined "Advertise on NYTimes.com
Blasts in the Night, a Smell, and a Flood of Syrian Victims."
Read the previous 5 paragraphs and think about what the NYT is trying tell us about Obama.

Remember the notion of the "3 a.m. call."

August 26, 2013

"How to cleans the sweatie and sluttish Complexion..."

"Take thirty Snails prepared, a quart of Goats milk, hogs suet three ounces, camfre poudred two drams, beat them together, and distil them in an Alembick."

Advice from 1665, from the blog Ask the Past, which was linked today at Metafilter.

Let's try one more. This is "How to Tell Jokes, 1558":
"Where your pleasantries are not rewarded with the laughter of listeners, cease and desist from telling jokes in the future. The defect is in you, not in your listeners... For these are movements of the mind, and if they are pleasant and lively, they are an indication and a testimonial of the nimble mind and the good habits of the speaker-- this is particularly liked by other men and endears us to them. But if they are without grace and charm, they have the contrary effect, so it appears a jackass is joking, or that someone very fat with an enormous butt is dancing and hopping about in a tight-fitting vest."
Someone... with an enormous butt is dancing and hopping about... which is actually all we do these days, in case you want to Ask Last Night at the VMAs (go to 1:45).

"I forgot my phone."

"There is a speed of touch in Dylan’s portraits, an aggression, which points to the tactile quality of pastel..."

"... the capacity of those sticks of colour to break and crumble against the page as you draw. Dylan does manage to convey a sense of emotional intensity and existential paranoia."

(Click on the photograph to enlarge it and click the side arrow for a closeup one of the drawings.)

"Julian Assange Sang And Danced In A Parody Rap Video For Some Awful Reason."

"Wikileaks founder Julian Assange guest-starred in a satirical music video (he shows up around 3:30) and parodied an Australian ’80s pop hit… while wearing a mullet."

The Onion Newsroom, 2008: "Sources Warn Miley Cyrus Will Be Depleted by 2013."

After last night's VMA performance, this old video is charting on Reddit (where the top comment is "When can we start using The Onion as a credible source?"):



We were talking about the VMA performance in a post earlier this morning, and you can see it here. I was going to watch it closely and opine on the race-and-gender politics and the symbolism of teddy bears, but then I didn't. Let's just watch the old Bjork video, directed by Michael Gondry, for "Human Behavior." That had some strange bears around a puzzling young woman:



If you ever get close to a human/And human behavior/You'd better be ready to get confused....

"Your Unhealthy Love For Public Health..."

"... In 14 Images."

"Schools as we know them today are a product of history, not of research into how children learn."

Writes Peter Gray in Salon.
The blueprint still used for today’s schools was developed during the Protestant Reformation, when schools were created to teach children to read the Bible, to believe scripture without questioning it, and to obey authority figures without questioning them. The early founders of schools were quite clear about this in their writings. The idea that schools might be places for nurturing critical thought, creativity, self-initiative or ability to learn on one’s own — the kinds of skills most needed for success in today’s economy — was the furthest thing from their minds. To them, willfulness was sinfulness, to be drilled or beaten out of children, not encouraged.

When schools were taken over by the state and made compulsory, and directed toward secular ends, the basic structure and methods of schooling remained unchanged....

"'New York Times' to New York Democrats: Get Over That 'Hope and Idealism.'"

Headline at The Nation for John Nichols's column decrying the NYT endorsement of Christine Quinn in the mayoral race.

"We were OK with Miley wearing a one-piece with a bear sticking its tongue out on it."

"We were OK with Miley sticking her face all up in that ladies big butt. However, when she ripped off her clothes to grind all up on Beetlejuice Robin Thicke, that was the twerk that broke the camel's back."

From NY Magazine's selections of the highs and lows of last night's VMA show. I watched the segment described above. It made me feel bad. But they were trying so hard to make people (admittedly, not me) feel good. Like they were bursting with barely containable sexual energy. Like they were. The most entertaining parts were the occasional shots of sad-looking men in the audience who seemed to be averting their eyes.

"Designed by Doofuses in California."

"Apple’s new ads make the company look lame."

Yes. And let me add: The slogan "Designed by Apple in California" is designed to keep us from thinking about how these things are not manufactured in California or anywhere else in America. You're not supposed to think of any possible suffering that has taken place making this things. You're supposed to imagine — ♫ imagine there's no factories, I wonder if you can — that these nifty items sprang fully formed from the minds of Californians.

Which raises the question: Are we in love with the Californian mind? If so, aren't we crazy?

"The fire came boiling out, just cooking. It was so hot it created its own weather."

"It was like dropping a boulder in a pond; fire spread out in every direction."

August 25, 2013

Reading Elmore Leonard.

I paid some attention when Elmore Leonard died, but the truth is that I'd never read any Elmore Leonard books. I toyed with the idea of ordering an Elmore Leonard book, but I hadn't pulled the trigger. But then I was tearing everything out of the bookcases in the room where we just redid the floors. My agenda is to get all our books onto the existing bookshelves, a process that's involved filling 8 shopping bags with books to be taken to Half Price Books for recycling.

And what the hell? I find an Elmore Leonard book. See:

Untitled

Of all the Elmore Leonard books that somebody — not me — might have left in the house, I find "Bandits." This solves the problem of which Elmore Leonard book to order. I start reading "Bandits." I get about 15 pages in and I'm onto his game. Not saying it's not a good game. It is. Not putting down people who enjoy reading this kind of thing. I'm just saying it's not my kind of thing to read. If I had to write a novel — and I'm always getting ideas about novels that could be written — I'd get a bang out of writing like this. It's an easy way to fill out a lot of pages, even as you make your target readers feel that it's all very fast moving. I am not one of those target readers. For me, it's slow going.

What he's doing is: He has a story. Something that happened in the past. We're hearing 2 guys talk about whatever 2 guys would be talking about while doing whatever it is they're doing. In this case — in the case of "Bandits" — what they're doing is preparing a corpse for burial. So there's this whole sideline routine, telling us about some area of human expertise, which you could find out about in a couple minutes reading Wikipedia or stumbling onto an episode of "How It's Made." And as these guys talk, it slips out, every half page or so, some little dribble of information about whatever that thing was that happened in the past. You're supposed to care. What the hell happened? Who was this dead guy and who was that lady he was with and so forth. I'm just not the kind of person who cares.

A writer who wanted to take the trouble to write out descriptions of this and that might show us some event unfolding so we picture it, seemingly as it happened. But here, the thing already happened, and 2 guys are talking, while they're doing this other thing, which is an ordinary thing that's somewhat interesting to hear details about, preparing a corpse for burial. That's a great formula for having fun writing, and I know many readers find that fun to read. But I'm thinking: There's some damned thing that already happened, that could be told in a few sentences, and I'm supposed to hang out in this blather and catch the bits of the story as they float by. What's my motivation?

A 332-page book about Justice Holmes's dissenting opinion in Abrams.

Reviewed here by Alan Dershowitz, who says:
In “The Great Dissent,” Thomas Healy, a professor of law at Seton Hall Law School... postulates that a chance encounter with Learned Hand — then a district court judge — on the train between New York and Boston planted the seed that eventually blossomed into Holmes’s full-blown defense of free speech. Hand attempted to convince the 77-year-old justice that tolerance of dissenting, even obnoxious and dangerous, views was essential to democratic governance, but his effort seemed at first to fall on deaf ears: Holmes insisted that the state could legitimately enforce what a majority accepted as the truth, which he defined as “the majority vote of that nation that can lick all the others.” He accused his younger judicial colleague of striking “at the sacred right to kill the other fellow when he disagrees,” and he later invoked an absurd analogy between the power of the state to vaccinate those who might spread dangerous diseases and to imprison those who might spread dangerous ideas.

"Who was the better war poet, Rupert Brooke (i.e., WWI romantic jingoism) or Emily Dickinson? Answer: Emily Dickinson."

In the comments to this morning's post about J.D. Salinger, Richard Lawrence Cohen (my ex-husband) paraphrases something Salinger once said.

That got me looking for Emily Dickinson's war poems, but I got distracted thinking about something else I read this morning, the obituary for the actress Julie Harris. She played the part of Emily Dickenson in a 1977 play called "The Belle of Amherst." A quick search on YouTube turned up a fine print of the entire 90-minute play. It probably shouldn't be there, and I won't embed it, but here it is.

I liked the magic banana...

...  and the skateboarding dad.

But generally, I'm too old for this sort of thing, old enough to have already been old when "America's Funniest Home Videos" was the most popular show on TV.

Vintage...

... photo of a woman in a bathing suit.

It's not just the bathing suit. It's the woman.

ADDED: Try finding a bathing suit like that today. A search for "vintage one-piece bathing suit" got me to this pageful of tatters worn by mincing, wincing waifs. A search for "retro swimsuit" got me to this horror:



The suit for the out-and-proud anorexic.

Cartoon bones aside, the shape of the suit is all about rejecting a womanly body. I remember the time before the leg openings were cut way back to create the illusion that the hips and half of the ass were part of the legs. In the vintage photo, the region between the waist and legs is massive, valuable territory, owned and occupied by a woman of substance.

Why isn't lobster cheap?

"[T]he wholesale price of lobster has collapsed."

Why is the NYT publishing yet another article on the fact that Justice Ginsburg is not resigning from the Supreme Court?

I was a bit surprised to see this article, with a big picture, at the top center of the NYT on-line front page today. It's utter non-news. So what's the point? She did an interview with Adam Liptak, but just last June, we'd heard the same thing, in the pages of the NYT, from Linda Greenhouse.

Let's look at Liptak's article as opposed to the front-page teaser, which says: "Amid calls from some liberals that she step down in time for President Obama to name her successor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she was fully engaged in her work." Think about why that is the teaser. But Liptak is writing because he got an interview:

"There are three levels of of Cicerones..."

"... starting out with Certified Beer Servers (an online exam), Certified Cicerones (an in-person test, complete with a tasting component), and the top level of Master Cicerone (an in-person exam lasting two days). The exams focus on five basic components: keeping and serving beer; beer styles; flavor and tasting; brewing process and ingredients; and beer and food pairing."

"I was happy with his work — and even happier with his presence in the house because he was a great moral force."

Said the great writer Joan Didion about Harrison Ford, who worked as a carpenter on her beach house in 1971.

Imagine having a beach house in 1971, being 37 years old, having a 29-year-old Harrison Ford, doing carpentry work for you and experiencing him as a great moral force.

Didion was married, you should know. She married John Gregory Dunne in 1964, and they remained married until he dropped dead in 2003. I say "dropped dead" because I read "The Year of Magical Thinking," which begins with that scene.

But how was the young carpenter a moral force? Here's a little song:

"Themself."

Is it a word yet?

This is a question that occurred to me while writing the first sentence of the last paragraph of the previous post. It seems like a horrible non-word, but it's going to have to become a word. The only question is when. I hate to tell you. Unless one is willing to make oneself look bizarrely stilted, one is going to need to resign oneself to "themself" achieving wordhood.

ADDED: Some people in the comments are going on about how "you" is used to refer to one person, because we don't have a singular second person pronoun, and "them" used in the singular is a solution to the problem of lacking a gender neutral third person pronoun to refer to one person. But that shows why "themself" will become a word: "Yourself" is already a word! You don't even notice how it feels wrong to say "yourselves" when you're talking about only one person. You instinctively know to change the "-selves" to "-self." The same thing will have to happen with "themselves."

"For many gay people, the years they spent (attempting) to live a 'straight' life in the straight world were not pretty ones."

The Straight Years Project.

This is the best picture, seen large. Great expression (on both faces.)

And here's the Awkward Years Project.

What I like about these 2 projects is that they could give all sorts of people an idea of something they can do when confronted with any current photograph of themselves that they don't like. Visualize yourself in the future holding that photograph and laughing, because you like the way you look in the now that is the future. What do you look like? Go there. Get there knowing that you will be happy there, that there is a you waiting in the future and empathizing with the poor you that's here now.

The oldest globe that includes the Americas.

"Dated to the early 1500s, the globe was likely crafted in Florence, Italy, from the lower halves of two ostrich eggs."
It is engraved with then-new and vague details about the Americas garnered from European explorers like Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. It is also decorated with monsters, intertwining waves and even a shipwrecked sailor, according to the Washington Map Society, which published a study of the artifact in its journal The Portolan.
I love that they made it out of ostrich eggs.

The Democrats dream candidate to oppose Scott Walker next year.

Here's a long, long article in the Wisconsin State Journal. I'll just do a short excerpt:
a multimillionaire... who could self-finance....
From the comments:
I can easily see why the Huffington Post deemed her the "democrat version of Mitt Romney". I can't wait to find out how much she makes from dividends per year. I wonder how many tax havens she has? It will be interesting to see how the dems treat her, we all know she would be crucified if she were a republican. Heck, in her professional life she's driven by profit but since she has a 'D' next to her name she'll be thought of as brilliant, if she were a republican she would be evil.

Let the hypocrisy begin!!
And:
So let me get this straight, the Dems are thinking about shamelessly and hypocritically putter up as a candidate someone who:

1) is a 1%-er

2) comes from the Private Sector

3) relied on nepotism to succeed.

Are people that selfish, hypocritical, and willfully ignorant that they will really sacrifice their beliefs to serve their own self-interests?
And:
Run Brett Run
That refers to this.

By the way, whatever happened to the "Occupy" movement? Maybe it's taking a break out there somewhere with the Coffee Party.

J.D. Salinger "instructed his estate to publish at least five additional books..."

"... some of them entirely new, some extending past work — in a sequence that he intended to begin as early as 2015."
One collection, to be called “The Family Glass,” would add five new stories to an assembly of previously published stories about the fictional Glass family....

Another would include a retooled version of a publicly known but unpublished tale, “The Last and Best of the Peter Pans,” which is to be collected with new stories and existing work about the fictional Caulfields, including “Catcher in the Rye.” The new works are said to include a story-filled “manual” of the Vedanta religious philosophy, with which Mr. Salinger was deeply involved; a novel set during World War II and based on his first marriage; and a novella modeled on his own war experiences....
The revelation comes in the new book "Salinger," and here's a clue (from the book) about why Salinger left off publishing (but not writing) all those years:
[A]fter [WWII], Mr. Salinger met a 14-year-old girl, Jean Miller, at a beach resort in Florida. For years, they exchanged letters, spent time together in New York and eventually had a brief physical relationship. (She said, in an interview in the film and book, that Mr. Salinger dumped her the day after their first sexual encounter.)
For years... How many years? I'm trying to do the math.

"She wasn’t pretty, didn’t wear the right clothes, couldn’t find dates; and she had no intention of becoming a debutante..."

"... which was the dream of Mrs. Harris’s life. As a defense, Julie escaped into acting. As an actress she could be anyone she wanted to and her mother couldn’t stop her."

From the long NYT obituary for Julie Harris, who died yesterday at the age of 87. Her mother was a socialite (in Grosse Pointe, Michigan). Her father "was an investment banker who was also an expert on squirrels and a curator of mammals at the museum of zoology of the University of Michigan."
For decades, Ms. Harris worked almost constantly.... Her film credits include “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962), a boxing melodrama with Anthony Quinn, Mickey Rooney and Jackie Gleason, in which she played a sympathetic but manipulative social worker; “The Haunting” (1963), as a spinster beset by evil spirits; “Harper,” a detective story starring Paul Newman, in which she played a nightclub entertainer and addict...

 
... “Reflections in a Golden Eye” (1967), an adaptation of a McCullers novel set on an army base in which she played the sickly wife of an officer, played by Brian Keith, who was cheating on her with another officer’s wife (Elizabeth Taylor); “The Bell Jar” (1979), an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s novel, in which she played the mother of a suicidal young woman; “Gorillas in the Mist” (1984) in which [she] played Roz Carr, a friend to the murdered zoologist Dian Fossey (Sigourney Weaver), and “HouseSitter” (1992) a romantic comedy with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin — she played his mother.
I loved Julie Harris, an actress from back in the days before all the plastic surgery, collagen, and botox, when it was so much more interesting to watch the faces in the movies. Harris was always the one who was not too pretty, though she was pleasant enough to look at. She seemed fragile and wan. I've never seen "Reflections in a Golden Eye," but that's the type-casting they did: She's the sickly wife, and the other woman is Elizabeth Taylor (who was incredibly beautiful, back in the days when great beauty was natural and rare). By the way, when I was in high school, we did the play version of "The Haunting" — which was called "The Haunting of Hill House" (which was based on the Shirley Jackson novel and should not be confused with the very amusing, campy Vincent Price film "House on Haunted Hill"). I got the role Julie Harris played in that movie. I'd also played Laura in "The Glass Menagerie" the year before, so our theater teacher must have seen me as the fragile, wan type. That's a hell of a self-image to inflict on a young girl, but who notices when it seems so exotic and satisfying to get up on the stage?