MadCity Blogs

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 7:00pm

"My casual choice to use the word 'smarter' really provoked a reaction!"

Althouse - 1 hour 13 min ago
"I could just have easily written 'I prefer LD's tweet.' But people are so touchy about anything that suggests an actual comparison of IQs. A lot of pride and anxiety at that location, I suspect."

Said I, commenting at 5:01 AM at what is at the moment the end of a comments thread on a post where I'd called Lena Dunham's tweet about the naked-celebrity-pics leak "smarter" than the tweet by Ricky Gervais.

I didn't even say I thought Lena is smarter than Ricky, though it sure would be fun to watch them go head to head on the LSAT.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

50 years ago this month: the first time Pete Townshend destroyed his guitar as part of an on-stage performance.

Althouse - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 8:38pm
"Pete Townshend said it was an accident the first time he smashed his guitar. He was playing with The Who in a small cramped room at the Railway Hotel in Harrow, west London. The ceiling was damp with condensation, the room smoky, a smell of sweat and stale beer. The Who were playing 'Smokestack Lightning,' 'I’m a Man,' and 'Road Runner' when..."

I don't think the precise day is known, so I can't say "50 years ago today" as I normally do, and it wasn't a planned action, so this is an ambiguous milestone. Later, Townsend would do it on purpose. But even if it was intentional, it was long after the first planned performance of instrument destruction. I don't know what was the first, but Wikipedia has an article titled "Instrument destruction," which gives the honor to a performance that took place in 1956, amazingly enough, on the Lawrence Welk TV show. It was Rocky Rockwell, doing an Elvis Presley impersonation, and it looked a little something like this:

Maybe because that was comical, it shouldn't count. Rockwell wasn't sincere in his Elvisosity, so the destruction expressed only a rejection of the music he was inviting us to laugh at and reject. And they say Jerry Lee Lewis set his piano on fire in the 1950s. Charles Mingus famously got mad at someone and broke his $20,000 bass.

But there's some restriction of the definition of the feat that puts Pete Townsend first. Here's Jeff Beck aping Pete's routine in the 1966 movie "Blowup":

Categories: MadCity Blogs

"Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on the computer."

Althouse - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 3:24pm
Tweeted Ricky Gervais, after a big naked-celebrity security leak at iCloud.

He's getting reamed for saying that.

A smarter tweet from Lena Dunham: "Remember, when you look at these pictures you are violating these women again and again. It’s not okay. Seriously, do not forget that the person who stole these pictures and leaked them is not a hacker: they’re a sex offender."

And: "Also sad I can’t make one joke about having shown my t*ts on purpose without a massive qualitative tit debate. Some of y’all, dang. The 'don’t take naked pics if you don’t want them online' argument is the 'she was wearing a short skirt' of the web. Ugh."

IN THE COMMENTS: John Nowak said:
I wish people would stop saying "the Cloud" and replace it with "Someone else's server."

I think that would make some decisions more clear for what they are. I don't think people realize that they may have their iPhone set to store photos automatically on Apple's servers. Many lovers just fool around with the phone camera. Are you smart enough to know how stupid you need to be to make the "Jennifer Lawrence mistake"?
Categories: MadCity Blogs

In the buff.

Althouse - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 1:53pm
"What color is buff?" I was asked recently, after I mentioned that the English dandy Beau Brummel mostly only ever wore the colors white, blue-black, and buff.

I answered "in the buff," as if the color is the color of a random naked person, but I looked it up in the OED, and the relevant meaning is "Of the colour of buff leather; a light brownish yellow." Buff leather is buffalo leather, and from that comes the meaning that "buff" is naked skin and "in the buff" means naked. I'd never thought of the the nakedness usage of "buff" as having anything to do with "buffalo." The word "buff" meaning an enthusiast — as in "film buff" — comes from the enthusiasm for going to fires, in that NYC volunteer firemen at one time wore buff-colored uniforms.

I guess Americans don't use the color name "buff" so much anymore. We do have a tendency to identify light brownish colors as "tan." Obama's summer suit, much-discussed last week, was almost invariably called "tan." Some said "khaki," which the OED calls a "dull brownish yellow." As for "tan," the OED calls it "The brown colour of tan; tawny," "tan" being a cocoction made from oak bark, used in tanning leather. I've long been influenced by the Crayola crayon that was labeled "tan" (at least in the 1950s and 60s), so I see this more as the color of a suntan. Of course, back then, Crayola had a crayon labeled "flesh." That got re-named "peach" in 1962. We knew the Civil Rights Movement had momentum.

Is it only an accident that the subject of race has arisen in the context of what to call the color of Obama's suit? Is the concern about the color of his suit unconscious displacement of concern over the color of his skin? Consult this chart:

Here's the suit:

Buff? Maybe it depends on whether you're an Obama buff. "Buff" also means — referring to a man — "muscular, well-toned; physically attractive." A Google image search for "Obama's buff suit" turns up pictures of him in a bathing suit, presumably in admiration of his bare chest, but perhaps because he's partially in the buff. Be careful though. The etymology all goes back to "buffalo." Remember the infamous "Water Buffalo Incident" of 1993?

On a lighter note, it's Labor Day: Don't wear white after Labor Day.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

That was the biggest hunk of bait I've ever seen on this blog...

Althouse - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 9:53am
... the first comment, totally off topic and saying obscene things about the Christian religion. Admirably, you talked about what I'd invited you to talk about, Ted Cruz saying "Sadly, the state of the world is the Russian bear is encountering the Obama kitty cat."

Said troll arrived just as Meade and I were leaving to go to the theater, another drive out to Spring Green to the American Players Theater, this time to re-see "Travesties," that Tom Stoppard play that has Vladimir Lenin and James Joyce as characters and uses elements of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." We saw the Wilde play on Friday, dodging lightning. And that made the second viewing of "Travesties" more different from the first than most re-seeings. Re-seeings are always different though, in good ways. Anything I like enough to see a second time I prefer to see with the experience of having seen it before. The surprises are gone, and undistracted by predicting and looking for surprises, you notice everything that's been planted along the way to make the coming surprises surprising. It's at least different. Do you agree that it's better?

Anyway, I left moderation off and you didn't take the bait. Good work! That's all you need to do. Sometimes I put moderation on and exclude the trolls, and sometimes I post-moderate. If you like the free flow that comes from post-moderation — which is never for viewpoint, only to exclude a couple well-known trolls, outright spam, no-content ejaculations, and off-topic material at the beginning of the thread — then help me the way you did last night. Sometimes I put moderation on to block some of those things I prefer to post-moderate when I'm not going to be around to moderate, which I might have done last night, but then you wouldn't have had all that conversation about Ted Cruz calling Obama a "kitty cat."

Here's what Lenin's wife says about her husband in "Travesties":
Ilyich wrote very little about art and literature, generally, but he enjoyed it. We sometimes went to concerts and the theatre, even the music hall – he laughed a lot at the clowns – and he was moved to tears when he saw La Dame aux Camélias in London in 1907.... Ilyich admired Tolstoy, especially War and Peace, but, as he put it in an article in 1908 on Tolstoy’s eightieth birthday… "On the one hand we have the great artist; on the other hand we have the landlord obsessed with Christ. On the one hand the strong and sincere protester against social injustice, and on the other hand the jaded hysterical sniveller known as the Russian intellectual beating his breast in public and wailing, I am a bad wicked man, but I am practising moral self-perfection. I don’t eat meat, I now eat rice cutlets. Tolstoy reflected the stored-up hatred and the readiness for a new future – and at the same time the immature dreaming and political flabbiness which was one of the main causes for the failure of the 1905 revolution."... However, he respected Tolstoy’s traditional values. The new art seemed somehow alien and incomprehensible to him. Clara Zetkin, in her memoirs, remembers him bursting out... "We are good revolutionaries but we seem to be somehow obliged to keep up with modern art. Well, as for me I’m a barbarian."Okay, you barbarians and kitty cats. Surprise me and don't surprise me. 
Categories: MadCity Blogs

CAVALCADE OF CORRECTNESS: Your mainstream news update

Uppity Wisconsin - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 9:17am

Yesterday I ranted about how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had, on its editorial pages, evaded the top two issues in the Wisconsin gubernatorial election: The Walker administration's crossing of a legal "bright line" when the governor and his team coordinated campaign themes with supposedly independent and apolitical interest groups, and Walker's terrible job-creation record.

Well, the good news is that the score is now 1-1, thanks to the newspaper's editorial this morning that focuses on Wisconsin job creation since Walker took office. Despite their view that governors don't have much impact on job creation, the editors went ahead and bit the bullet. The editors said that after all is the standard by which Walker himself sought to be rated when he campaigned for the office. Now, the results are nearly all in. The editors cited "tepid" and even "anemic" job numbers as "bad news" for Walker, whom, they said, was "reckless" in promising 250,000 new jobs by the end of his first term. Instead, actual job growth has been noticeably less than half that level.

The editors went on to observe the disturbing fact that state revenue is way down under Walker budgeting, presenting the threat of a serious deficit in what was billed as a "balanced" budget. That, the editors noted, is because Walker unwisely enacted huge tax cuts.

Meanwhile, in the same edition, the paper's Politifact column rated job rhetoric by Walker and his challenger Mary Burke in paired, front-page articles jointly entitled, "How can Scott Walker's and Mary Burke's job claims both be right?". The obvious answer: They crunch or spin the data differently. Nevertheless, in considering recent Burke ads that say "Wisconsin's dead last" in Midwest job creation, Politifact awarded a "true" rating. Meanwhile, Walker's own claims -- that Wisconsin's performance is third in the Midwest -- rated a "mostly true." 

It's also mostly true that, overall, past Politifact ratings on Walker statements, including some on job creation, usually come up as "false." And -- just based on the newspaper's own editorial -- you'd have to ask why this latest review of Walker wasn't a bit more skeptical. After all, in his latest jobs ad, Walker was using monthly data he had previously decried as unreliable.

Oh, well, the facts do come out -- if only haltingly, in dribs and drabs, and barely in time for voters to absorb, if they hear those facts at all before the election.

Although it did mention Walker's choice of data, Politifact underplayed the fact that Walker shifted his statistics from what he regards as the "gold standard" of measurement -- quarterlies -- as opposed to monthly data. The Journal Sentinel editorial made a bit more out of this shift. "For all of 2013, Wisconsin's growth rate was a dismal 1.2% growth [sic] -- 37th among 50 states and about half the national rate." That's the "good" news, in context, that the latest Walker ads are touting as proof he deserves re-election.

Categories: MadCity Blogs

At the elite level, the Supreme Court cogitates about the subtle psychological pressure to pray when a private chaplain performs an invocation at a government meeting.

Althouse - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 9:10am
Here, for example, is Justice Kagan dissenting in the Supreme Court case Town of Greece v. Galloway:
A person goes to court, to the polls, to a naturalization ceremony — and a government official or his hand-picked minister asks her, as the first order of official business, to stand and pray with others in a way conflicting with her own religious beliefs. Perhaps she feels sufficient pressure to go along — to rise, bow her head, and join in whatever others are saying: After all, she wants, very badly, what the judge or poll worker or immigration official has to offer. Or perhaps she is made of stronger mettle, and she opts not to participate in what she does not believe — indeed, what would, for her, be something like blasphemy. She then must make known her dissent from the common religious view, and place herself apart from other citizens, as well as from the officials responsible for the invocations. And so a civic function of some kind brings religious differences to the fore: That public proceeding becomes (whether intentionally or not) an instrument for dividing her from adherents to the community’s majority religion, and for altering the very nature of her relationship with her government.At the non-elite level, say Winter Garden, Florida, the mayor himself performs the invocation, calls out a citizen who fails to rise on his order, chastises the citizen who quietly cites his desire and right to decline to participate, and — when the man also declines to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance kicks the man out of the meeting. Witness Mayor John Rees:

Categories: MadCity Blogs

"Why Uber must be stopped/The touted start-up is proving to be the embodiment of unrestrained hyper-capitalism. What happens when it wins?"

Althouse - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 8:43am
Hysterical headline at Salon, illustrated by a photoshop of Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko and Leonardo Di Caprio as the Wolf of Wall Street, together at last, glaring at us rapaciously.

Here's Power Line's attack on Salon.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

Bella De Paulo — author of "Singled Out" — notices her role in causing the marriage of Althouse and Meade.

Althouse - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 3:35pm
"Weirdest Thing Ever – at Least in My Life/How could a book on single life lead to this?"
Now here's something else weird.... My first idea for the title was, "Weirdest thing ever – at least in my uneccentric life." I think of my life as fairly ordinary and innocuous...

But as many of you know, I'm also single, and at 60, I have been single all my life and I plan to stay single for the rest of my life – by choice....Yeah, that's what I thought too. I was 57 at the time of my diavlog with Bella and 58 when I married Meade. So just think how weird it would be if Bella's Meade arrived over there in her comments.

ADDED: By "that's what I thought too," I meant that I'd been single so long and to such an advanced age that my mindset was that I would be single for the rest of my life. But I got married in 1973 at the age of 22, and we separated in 1987 and later divorced.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

In the thunderstorm theater.

Althouse - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 2:04pm

There we were, Friday night, out under the open, darkening sky at 8 p.m. in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The play was "The Importance of Being Earnest," and the weather forecast was: thunderstorms. As the winds stirred up the surrounding foliage, we of Row O had to strain to catch the Wildean witticisms. Lightning flashed, seemingly synchronized with emotional outbursts on stage. A particularly striking strike perfectly accompanied one of Cecily's exclamations, perhaps "Horrid Political Economy! Horrid Geography! Horrid, horrid German!"

The play continued, the actors utterly ignoring the wind and the lightning and even the rain, until the lights came up and a voice over a loudspeaker announced that a rain break was needed, at which point the actors halted, the audience wildly cheered them, and we all filed out to our separate shelters. The actorly voice on the loudspeaker radiated assurance of knowledge of the weather patterns: The break would be short. And it was. The play resumed, overlapping with the last minute or 2 of what we'd just seen. Perhaps Lady Bracknell repeated the advice "Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon.  Only people who can’t get into it do that."

We didn't get very much further, only to Miss Prism's breakdown into tears. The loudspeaker voice knew that the lightning was about to get dangerous. I guess it wasn't before, when I'd taken comfort in the thought that the big lighting towers would take the hit and not some random audience member like me, not that I'd have enjoyed the play so much if someone else had taken the jolt, even that lady in the red shirt who got back from intermission late and walked across part of the downstage as Act II began. The happy ending for all was in sight, and it was after 11 p.m., but no one seemed willing to leave. Was it camaraderie with the actors or the fear that if we took the woodland walk from the theater down to the parking lot, we'd make good targets for that dangerous lightning?

We got back to our wet seats, and Miss Prism had to redo her waterworks. "In a moment of mental abstraction, for which I never can forgive myself...." And soon all the mysteries were solved, the 3 sets of lovers had embraced in true love —  "At last!" — and Jack (AKA Ernest) had realized for "the first time in [his] life the vital importance of being earnest." The audience was overjoyed, not just at the perfectly happy ending but at the heroic thunderstorm performance of the actors, and we gave a loud, elated — wild/Wilde — standing ovation for everyone, including ourselves. Did we not deserve it too, we who sat in the rain, strained to hear through the rustling of leaves, we who stood around for 2 intermissions and 2 storm breaks? We were kind of heroes too, heroes of a passive sort, and we were giddy by then, after midnight.

We tripped down the woodland path to the car and fiddled with the radio to get the baseball game  from the Pacific Time Zone to keep us going for the hour-long car ride home. It's the 6th inning. What's the score? The Giants already have 16 hits!

It was a good night to get out to the theater.

"What shall we do after dinner? Go to a theatre?"/"Oh no! I loathe listening."
Categories: MadCity Blogs

"Mickey Mouse is not a mouse. If you look very closely at him, you can see that he wears gloves."

Althouse - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 9:47am
"Mice do not have the capability, nor the desire, to put gloves on their hands. He also is depicted wearing a pair of shorts with large buttons, which a mouse would be unable to fasten given its mental limitations, not to mention the fact that it has claws without opposable thumbs. Furthermore, the viewer should not be misled into thinking that Mickey is a mouse because he uses the name 'Mouse.' This is merely Mr. Mouse’s surname, and is not intended to confer any mouselike qualities upon him. If you met a man who was named, say, Alan Bird, you would not assume that he was a member of the avian family, even if he happened to have a beak instead of the traditional mouth-and-nose combination seen in most humans, would you? Obviously, Mr. Mouse is simply a man with a loving wife, Mrs. Mouse (a female human), and a normal Homo sapiens existence, just like the rest of us. He even owns a dog called Pluto! How many mice do you know who own dogs?"

Reaction to "Hello Kitty is not a cat..."

ADDED: There! This is the post that pushed me over the line to make a Hello Kitty tag. Going back into the archive to do the necessary retrospective tagging, I find 4 other posts:

1. January 3, 2006: "Cute!" looked at Natalie Angier's "The Cute Factor." She said:
Experts point out that the cuteness craze is particularly acute in Japan, where it goes by the name "kawaii" and has infiltrated the most masculine of redoubts. Truck drivers display Hello Kitty-style figurines on their dashboards....

Behind the kawaii phenomenon, according to Brian J. McVeigh, a scholar of East Asian studies at the University of Arizona, is the strongly hierarchical nature of Japanese culture. "Cuteness is used to soften up the vertical society," he said, "to soften power relations and present authority without being threatening."Watch out for cute.

2. June 24, 2007: "Is it wrong to tattoo your dog?"
On the positive side: The dog was under anesthesia. On the negative side: It was a tattoo of a cat, and not just any cat -- Hello Kitty.Yeah, I need to update that, with the news that Hello Kitty is known to be not a cat, but a little girl. Good news for that dog. Also at that old post: links to the Hello Kitty Hell blog and the Hello Kitty text, which I might want to re-take to try to get a better score, i.e., better than self-centered and evil.

(From the anti-Hello Kitty blog, Hello Kitty Hell, found via Metafilter.)

(And take the Hello Kitty test, which is cute and which told me people must think I'm self-centered and evil.)

3. July 17, 2013: "Does anyone in the Bible ever say 'hello'?" Somehow the last paragraph of this post is:
"Heil Hitler" is translated as "Hail Hitler." It's not "Hello Hitler," which seems edgily absurd. You could sing it to the tune of "Hello, Dolly," which has a comma, I might note, unlike Hello Kitty.By the way, I put my fascism tag on this post after writing about the 2006 post.

4. April 25, 2014: "Avril Lavigne picked a bad week to go all racist." Someone at Vox had written:
"RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!!," Avril tweeted. "I love Japanese culture...." In her defense, this kind of makes sense. Japanese pop does have a pretty camp vein running through it, one that "Hello Kitty" apes.And I said:
"Hello Kitty" apes? I love those 3 words together, because I can picture "Hello Kitty" Apes... just like I can picture "King Kong" Kitties, but do not market a product called King Kong Kitties. That would be racist.King Kong is not an ape. He is a... I want to say: He is a little boy. But I google "is King Kong fascist." That turns up a lot, including a book called — I know — "Sartre and Adorno: The Dialectics of Subjectivity," which quotes Theodor Adorno:
"While appearing as a superman, the leader must at the same time work the miracle of appearing as an average person, just as Hitler posed as a composite of King Kong and the suburban barber."AND: I considered googling "Is Mickey Mouse fascist," but switched to "did Hitler like Mickey Mouse." I found many references to the Art Spiegelman's "Maus," a graphic memoir about his father, a Holocaust survivor, in which the father's memories have the Jewish characters drawn as mice and the Nazis as cats. The second volume of "Maus" begins with a quote from a German newspaper article from the mid-1930s:
Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed.... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.... Away with Jewish brutalization of the people! Down with Mickey Mouse! Wear the Swastika Cross!ALSO: Here's "A Guide For the Purrplexed/How Maimonides explains the Hello Kitty controversy":
“Know that likeness is a certain relation between two things and that in cases where no relation can be supposed to exist between two things, no likeness between them can be represented to oneself,” the old master wrote in his Guide For the Perplexed. “Similarly it behooves those who believe that there are essential attributes that may be predicated of the Creator—namely, that He is existent, living, possessing power, knowing, and willing—to understand that these notions are not ascribed to Him and to us in the same sense. According to what they think, the difference between these attributes and ours lies in the former being greater, more perfect, more permanent, or more durable than ours, so that His existence is more durable than our existence, His life more permanent than our life, His power greater than our power, His knowledge more perfect than our knowledge, and His will more universal than our will.”

And that, of course, is wrong, because God is nothing like man. He hasn’t a face or a temper or anything else we might recognize....

To paraphrase Maimonides, it behooves those who were outraged this week over Sanrio’s revelation and who believe that there are essential attributes that may be predicated of Hello Kitty—namely, that She is existent, living, possessing power, knowing, and willing—to understand that these notions are not ascribed to Her and to us in the same sense.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

POLITIFRAK: Once again, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel feature rates claim mostly false, even though it's entirely true

Uppity Wisconsin - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 9:32am

This is precisely the definition of cognitive dissonance -- knowing one thing to be factually true while maintaining a contrary belief. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Politifact column today -- as it does too often -- moves into an alternate universe where language as we know it break downs, where it is able to explain away a devastating anti-Walker argument made by the AFL-CIO:

"Scott Walker gave $10,000 private school tax break to millionaires, AFL-CIO says"

Politifact rules the labor union's assertion as "mostly false." Now, Scott Walker signed into law a measure that DID give to millionaires tax breaks of up to $10,000 for private school tuition -- which fact Politifact lays out in detail, before then ruling to the contrary.  Believing six impossible things before breakfast used to be the domain of Alice in Wonderland's Queen of Hearts. But read Politifact yourself (link below) and see if -- even before coffee -- you can find any logic in this latest political frakking.

Meanwhile, I'll read through the Sunday edition of the Journal Sentinel again and see if, this time, I can spot any editorial comment on the astonishing John Doe document revelation back on August 22. You may recall the revelation, namely, that Scott Walker apparently was directly involved in coordinating his campaign's own activity with supposedly independent and untouchable third-party advocacy groups -- on the face of it, a gross violation of state election laws. Nope, upon second reading of the paper, I find no mention. Guess I'll just have to vote my gut, minus JS guidance.

The newspaper ran a news story on the August 22 revelation and several followup news stories in which interviewees including Walker himself defended Walker, himself. But where are the JS editors on that issue, opinion-wise? Will they ever bring it up? And if so, will they, as they are often predisposed, say it's either no big deal or that everyone does it? Or didn't it even happen in the alternate universe that Journal Sentinel editors seem to flick into when certain inconvenient truths arise?

[Jim Rowen over at the Political Environment blog has some sharp thoughts about this same silence, and the newspaper's inconsistency on the matter. See link below.]

The main thing the JS editors have gotten worked up about with respect to the Walker campaign wasn't evidence of possible money laundering or election law violations, but Walker's decision a few weeks ago to attack the Wisconsin firm that opposing candidate Mary Burke's family owns. Apparently, attacking Wisconsin businesses (the parent firm of the Journal Sentinel is, for the moment, still one of those) is where the JS editorial board draws the line. Do not speak ill of capitalism or the profit motive. 

Regarding two of the biggest issues of the race for governor -- the latest evidence of Walker campaign malfeasance and Walker's key platform plank on job creation: The JS has in the case of the first said nothing so far; in the case of the second it has dismissed Walker's dismal performance by declaring that governors don't really have any influence over job creation. Ah, well, never mind, then! If you're Walker, the JS stance amounts to a campaign get-out-of-jail-free card, because Burke has been hammering him on his job-creation and economic-development failures. But, no matter, really, because the JS editorial board has said it won't endorse candidates for public office anymore -- well, maybe except in "special" cases, that is.

In so many words: Walker and his staffers aren't the Droids you are looking for. Thanks, Milwaukee Jedi Sentinel!

Situational ethics, anyone?

Related Links
Categories: MadCity Blogs

Fighting Bob Fest is in two weeks

Fighting Bob - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 2:00am
Fighting Bob Fest number 13 is now less than two weeks away, September 13, 2014, at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo. This year's slate of excellent speakers includes Chris Hedges, Karen Lewis, Mike Wiggins Jr., Will Durst, Michael Copps, Robert McChesney, Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Mark Pocan, and Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

Register now!

The Bob Fest kick-off event is Friday night, September 12, at 7 p.m. at the Barrymore Theater in Madison. Sanders and Durst will join Ed Garvey, Lisa Graves, Ruth Conniff, Matt Rothschild, and a number of musicians and elected officials to get the Bob Fest ball rolling. Tickets for the kick-off are $10 and can be ordered online or by calling the Barrymore (608-241-8633) or the Progressive magazine offices (608-257-4626).

Join the Fighting Bob Fest page on Facebook to keep up with all the latest news.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

Houses made from bricks made of mushrooms.

Althouse - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 6:17pm
"The mushroom brick is 'grown' by mixing together chopped-up corn husks with mycelium."

Wake me up when you actually grow a house. Right now the mushroom house is in the courtyard of an art gallery in NYC. So I think I'll just get very small and curl up for a long rest on my cushiony toadstool:

Here's a reading from R. Gordon Wasson, "The Hallucinogenic Fungi Of Mexico/An Inquiry Into The Origins of The Religious Idea Among Primitive Peoples" (1961):

Two psychiatrists who have taken the mushroom and known the experience in its full dimensions have been criticised in professional circles as being no longer "objective." Thus it comes about that we are all divided into two classes: those who have taken the mushroom and are disqualified by our subjective experience, and those who have not taken the mushroom and are disqualified by their total ignorance of the subject! As for me, a simple layman, I am profoundly grateful to my Indian friends for having initiated me into the tremendous Mystery of the mushroom. In describing what happens, I shall be using familiar phrases that may seem to give you some idea of the bemushroomed state....

I shall take you now to the monolingual villages in the uplands of southern Mexico.... The men are appallingly given to the abuse of alcohol, but in their minds the mushrooms are utterly different, not in degree, but in kind. Of alcohol they speak with the same jocular vulgarity that we do. But about mushrooms they prefer not to speak at all, at least when they are in company and especially when strangers, white strangers, are present. If you are wise, you will talk about something, anything, else....
Categories: MadCity Blogs

"If the hate-crimes law is used to punish intra-religious crimes, it could change from a shield to protect minorities into a weapon against them."

Althouse - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 2:57pm
"Religious groups whose beliefs pervade their whole world view see everyone in terms of religion. Any assault they commit might be considered a federal crime," writes Noah Feldman, defending the 6th Circuit's reversal of the conviction in the Amish beard-cutting case.
The defendants in the Amish case asked the appellate court to rule that the law never applies to intra-religious disputes. This might have made sense as a matter of policy, but not as a legal matter in the case at hand. As the law is written, it covers hate crimes by co-religionists. The court instead pragmatically restricted the law’s reach to cases where a religious motive predominates.How do we know when people are co-religionists? Seemingly co-religionists have been attacking each other for thousands of years. Some of the worst disputes are over the scope of the religion — who's the heretic? — and the outsider's perception that they're in the same religion ignores the nature of the fight. Is it the same religion or different? It would be unwise to interpret the federal hate crime statute to force judges and juries to determine whether criminal defendants and their victims belong to the same religion. It's too close to having trials about religious orthodoxy. That's not what we do in America.

The 6th Circuit still leaves the courts looking into the minds of religionists and assessing the religiosity of their motivations, when it would be better to be "done with this business of judicially examining other people's faiths" (to quote the last line of my all-time favorite judicial opinion, Justice Jackson dissenting in United States v. Ballard). But we've got this federal hate-crimes statute, and it's stood up to judicial review, and what choice does an intermediate appellate court have but to muddle through?
Categories: MadCity Blogs

"A lost chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral... has been published for the first time."

Althouse - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 2:46pm
"In the chapter Charlie Bucket – accompanied by his mother, not his sprightly grandfather – and the other children are led into the Vanilla Fudge Room, where they face the sinister prospect of the Pounding and Cutting Room."
"In the centre of the room there was an actual mountain, a colossal jagged mountain as high as a five-storey building, and the whole thing was made of pale-brown, creamy, vanilla fudge," the chapter reads. "All the way up the sides of the mountain, hundreds of men were working away with picks and drills, hacking great hunks of fudge out of the mountainside...  As the huge hunks of fudge were pried loose, they went tumbling and bouncing down the mountain and when they reached the bottom they were picked up by cranes with grab-buckets, and the cranes dumped the fudge into open wagons."...

Timmy Troutbeck and "a rather bumptious little boy called Wilbur Rice," backed by their vile parents, shout abuse at Willy Wonka's warnings, scramble into the wagons, and are carried off through a hole in the wall.

"That hole," said Mr Wonka, "leads directly to what we call the Pounding and Cutting Room. In there the rough fudge gets tipped out of the wagons into the mouth of a huge machine. The machine then pounds it against the floor until it is all nice and smooth and thin. After that, a whole lot of knives come down and go chop chop chop, cutting it up into neat little squares, ready for the shops."Was it really "deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral," or was it deemed less fanciful and funny than the other child killings? And how many kids do we need to see die? Cut the least interesting scene.

Alternatively, it was too obviously susceptible to the Freudian interpretation about symbolic excrement and sodomy. Pale-brown, creamy... great hunks of fudge. "That hole." And then men with "picks and drills"! Maybe that's what The Guardian means by "too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral," but that's a studiously euphemistic way to say it. They want us to be excited to get to read this wonderful new material that the prudes couldn't accept 50 years ago. But if you understood what they didn't accept, you wouldn't accept it either.

Here's the whole chapter, with a Quentin Blake illustration.
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