April 19, 2014

"I told my mom that if I get kicked off sometime, I’m gonna get a teepee and just live in the woods for a few days and get out of the city..."

"... ’cause I’m all about the outdoors and stuff. But I’m going to keep my singing career and hopefully have a hunting show one day. That’s my dream, my big dream. I want to try to get, like, turkeys and ducks and whitetails, stuff like that. I’m gonna hit up Nashville...."

It's interesting — the specificity of a young person's vision of modest success and how to deal with it.

Knocking the cover off the baseball, literally.

Not a metaphor.

Obama treats Keystone as the political football he apparently thinks it is.

I like the football metaphor in the Time headline: "Obama Punts On Keystone Pipeline."

ADDED: Wikipedia has an article on "Political football." It quotes William Safire's "Political Dictionary" definition — "To thrust a social, national security, or otherwise ostensibly non-political matter into partisan politics" — and displays this 1889 cartoon satirizing the doings of the Benjamin Harrison administration:

The caption is: "What can I do when both parties insist on kicking?"

AND: The (unlinkable) OED traces the term back to 1833 (and I assume it's not what Americans call "football")
1833   Essex Standard (Colchester) 9 Nov.,   Out-generalled by every petty state that choses [sic] to make it worth its while to deceive us—the political football of Europe—England.
The second example has a mixed metaphor:
1841   Congressional Globe 30 Jan. 119/1   These lands were nothing but a bone of contention—a political football, bandied about first by one party and than the other.
That example makes me wonder not only about the origin of "bone of contention" but also "bandy."  "Bone of contention" is (obviously) something that people fight over the way dogs fight over a bone. But does "bandy" inject a third metaphor into the mix?

"To those who see an inconsistency in this column's criticizing Obama for using a gag we've employed in the past..."

"... let us clarify things with a Shermanesque answer to a question nobody is asking: We promise that we will never run for, or serve as, president."

Says James Taranto, addressing my mockery of Obama for using the "stages of grief" meme to mock Republicans, a meme Taranto has himself employed to mock Obama.

April 18, 2014

"Chicago has come up with a really big idea to boost tourism: giant puppets roaming the city's streets for days..."

"... in an elaborate theatrical presentation... including a giant elephant that sprays water on spectators, and a 30-foot little girl. The characters act out a play over the course of days, incorporating locales throughout the city as backdrops."

"... I really expect Limbaugh and all the wannabees to scream bloody murder that Chelsea's announcement was staged, a set-up plot which is being aided by the librul media to cover up Benghazzzzzzzziiii!"

John Amato smelt it.

"If I live to be 100, I’m never going to be a fan of the flowers-in-the-pubic-hair episode."

"But Lawrence’s attempts at describing the transcendent possibilities of 'warmhearted' sex no longer seemed quite so ludicrous. Next to the 'yuk' I had scribbled as a 20-year-old, there now stands a new note: 'Not so bad after all.'"

Why is New York willing to throw its Electoral College votes to the Republican presidential candidate?

"N.P.V. is a good idea for all sorts of high-minded civic reasons," Hendrik Hertzberg instructs us, on the occasion of New York signing onto the National Popular Vote interstate compact.
When an election is for a single office and only one candidate can win, it’s obviously outrageous when the candidate who gets more votes somehow loses to the one who gets fewer. But that doesn’t happen very often — "only" four of our thirty-nine elected Presidents, including "only" one of the two most recent, made it to the White House despite the citizenry’s preference for somebody else. What’s more outrageous is what happens every time: four-fifths of the states are ignored in the general election.
But that's what happens without the compact! You have to picture what would happen with it.

There are now 10 states in the compact — Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Rhode Island, and New York — plus the District of Columbia, representing 165 electoral votes. The commitment to switch a state's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote will kick in once a total of 270 electoral votes are represented by the states committed to switching. 270 is the majority needed to win, so the plan won't go into effect until the states in the plan have the power to determine that the national vote winner will in fact win.

Jerry Lewis explains the analysis of gestures.

Johnny Depp, "uploaded onto the Internet... expands like the universe, growing larger and mutating..."

".... into a being who is godlike and yet far from divine," in the "predictable and ridiculous" movie "Transcendence."

Movies about computers... are they ever any good?

John Edwards comes full circle: He's a medical malpractice lawyer representing a little child.

Edwards represents a 4-year-old Virginia boy who allegedly suffered brain damage during surgery.

For reference, here's the January 2004 NYT article "In Trial Work, Edwards Left A Trademark":
In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl.

Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, Mr. Edwards told the jury: ''She said at 3, 'I'm fine.' She said at 4, 'I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing O.K.' Five, she said, 'I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, 'I need out.' ''...

''She speaks to you through me,'' the lawyer went on in his closing argument. ''And I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you.''
Those were the days, when John Edwards was in his depth. It was 1985, and he was fine. By October 2007, he was saying I'm having a little trouble. In 2011, he was saying I need out. He speaks to you through me. I didn't plan to blog about this, but right now I feel him. I feel him inside me... Ugh! Get out of me, you creepy old man. Back to your malpractice practice, speaking in the voice of brain-damaged children, springing open the hearts of fully brained, but mushy jurors in some cloistered little courtroom in a southern state.

"You should kiss the ground you walk on if you were born in this country — take it from an old man who once had to wear the Star of David on his shirt."

"There's a safety to living in such a diverse place. It's much more difficult to brainwash a population that is composed of so many different nationalities and so many different viewpoints."

"Proof That Typos Are Racist."

"The partner evaluators found an average of 2.9 spelling and grammar errors for the ‘Caucasian’ authors and 5.8 such errors for the ‘African American’ authors."

Labs photobomb a corgi.

For the corgi's more dignified self-presentation, see "Don Diego el Guapo," at Dogging Meade.

"In our quasi-religious fervor to compete, we have expected fabulous efficiencies, miraculous economies, infinite creativity, and dazzling innovation."

"Instead, we have found ourselves gasping for air in a sea of corruption, dysfunction, environmental degradation, waste, disenchantment and inequality—and the harder we compete, the more unequal we become."

So writes Margaret Hefferman in "A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition," which is trashed in The Wall Street Journal by Marc Levinson.

"Hard Choices" is the title of Hillary Clinton's forthcoming book about her time as Secretary of State.

1. We could talk about the title, which, like the similar title "Decision Points" (George W. Bush's book), suggests there will be a sequence of narratives highlighting the author's role as decisionmaker. I wonder how hard they thought about the word hard, which — like "bossy" and "shrill" — seems to be one of those words used to insinuate that a woman is insufficiently feminine. Why write "hard" across the image of a woman? You've got to know that's going to bring out the haters. Which is why it's bait. If you take it, you'll be called a sexist. As for "Choices" — choice is a buzz word in the War on Women. Would you take away a woman's Right to Choose, including this woman's right to choose to be the one to choose everything that the most powerful person in the world gets to choose for all of us? If so, shame on you, you enemy in the War on Women.

2. I could prompt you to pre-order the book here, which would work as a way to show your support for the hard, shrill, bossy woman who writes this blog, amusing you day after day, year after year, making the relatively simple choices about what to blog — like Hillary's book title — and how to blog it — like a list of how something only marginally bloggable could be blogged and could stir up antagonism toward the blogger by warriors on both sides of the War on Women. That's not as easy as you might think.

3. I could detour into the territory of the contemporaneous announcement of the coming grandmotherhood of Hillary, the aging woman, the woman whose oldness the rightest of the right-wingers — Rush Limbaugh and Stephen Colbert — have warned us about.

Suddenly — oh! — she's a granny! I'm assuming the Chelsea pregnancy isn't a hoax, some manufactured PR. There have been rumors of the fakeness of all things Chelsea for years. Maybe some people will take that bait, and what a glorious skirmish that would make in the abovementioned war. But the more obvious bait, the bait Drudge took is the old Hillary-is-old/Old-women-are-worthless meme, and the Hillary PR people, I presume, want the anti-Hillary folk to say exactly that. War on Women, baby!

4. We could read the press release, and I know what you are looking for: Benghazi!!! What "hard choices" did she make there?, I hear you asking, out there on the internet. How dare she purport to sell us a book, dragging us through her elaborate challenges and the "hard choices" she made when she snapped "What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?" at the Senators who wanted to know. If it doesn't make a difference, why write a book? A book about the past. The past is past. What difference does it make? From the press release:
Secretary Clinton and President Obama had to decide how to repair fractured alliances, wind down two wars, and address a global financial crisis.... [T]hey grappled with some of the toughest dilemmas of US foreign policy, especially the decision to send Americans into harm’s way, from Afghanistan to Libya to the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Libya, AKA Benghazi. The decision made was to send Americans into harm’s way. To send them. After they got there, well... they knew where they were going, and a hard choice was made to send them there.

5. The press release begins with the line that we're told begins the book: "All of us face hard choices in our lives." And "Life is about making these choices, and how we handle them shapes the people we become." Perfectly banal, yet perfectly ready to make Hillary a perfect guest for all the daytime talk shows aimed at women. Contentless, cushy-soft, self-help psychological material. About all of us. Aren't we all really the same? My choices, your choices, choices for you and me, choices for me by you. We become the choices we make, don't we? Maybe you feel a revulsion at pap like that, but the country is full of voters, many of whom think with their feelings, and if last time boyfriend Barack captured their emotions, maybe this time Hillary can be their best girlfriend.

ADDED: 6. "Hard" is a variation on "not easy," the key words in Hillary's greatest moment in presidential campaigning and gender politics:
"It's not easy, it's not easy," Clinton said shaking her head. Her eyes began to get watery as she finished answering the question, "I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. This is very personal for me. I have so many ideas for this country and I just don't want to see us fall backwards. It's about our country, it's about our kids' future," she said softly crying, her voice breaking.

April 17, 2014

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Col. Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

"At that time Macondo was a village of 20 adobe houses built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.”


Goodbye to Gabriel García Marquez.

Obama says the Republican Party, on Obamacare, "has gone through the stages of grief — anger and denial and all that stuff."

I transcribed that from the press conference that's going on right now. He's answering a question about whether there could be some legislative amendments to the Affordable Care Act, to deal with some flaws, and he's saying that nothing can be done until Republicans change their attitude. They need to get through their "stages of grief" "stuff." Why the Kübler-Ross model? It's that meme that the Republicans are dying! They need to deal with their death, eh?!

Well, the first stage, which Obama put second of the 2 stages he bothered to enumerate before resorting to "all that stuff," is denial, and of course, the Republicans are going to deny that they are dying. As for anger, that's stage 2, and why shouldn't a political party get angry over its setbacks and want to fight for what it believes? Obviously, in life, when we are actually dying, getting angry is a stage, because anger isn't going to conquer death. But this is politics, not dying, and plainly the fire will rage on.

The stages Obama failed to enumerate are: 3. bargaining, 4. depression, and 5. acceptance. Maybe he didn't want to say bargaining, because he doesn't want his party to have to bargain with the other side. He just wants the GOP to get over it. The analogy to dying is, once again, terrible. Because in the stages of death scenario, the dying person seeks to avert death by somehow finding a way to make a deal, perhaps with God. Obama doesn't want to talk about deal-making. He wants the Republicans to give up and die already.

As for depression, I guess he's hoping the GOP will reach that point, but that's unlikely in this election year, and clearly he knows it. Ditto acceptance. But let's not talk about "all that stuff."

By the way, the Kübler-Ross model isn't too scientific. And to tell someone who's angry and unaccepting of a political situation that they should go away until they've accepted what is being done to them sounds to me like taunting and bullying. There's absolutely no reason why they should back down because some of their emotions correspond to Kübler-Ross's (bogus) stages. You're saying if someone doesn't believe that a political cause is dying or feels angry at the idea that it's dying, all you need to do is wait out the process, because bargaining and depression need to occur and then you win because finally there will be acceptance. Infuriating nonsense! It only intensifies and justifies the anger. Your opponents aren't just going through a "stage," and you sound inert and supercilious talking about them that way.

"An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck..."

"Balal, black-hooded and standing on a chair before a makeshift gallows, had the noose around his neck when [the mother, Samereh] Alinejad approached."
“I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place… After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer... The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down,” she said. “Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.”

Balal said the “slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness.”

"Hollywood has a problem with the sexual exploitation of children."

"This is the first of many cases I will be filing to give these victims a voice and to expose the issue."