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    Thursday, March 27, 2014

    Sursringar - A Rare Instrument from India - Recordings by Ustad Allauddin Khan & Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra from AIR

    Ustad Allauddin Khan playing the Sursringar

    Sursringar is a very rare instrument from India used in the past as an instrument for Dhrupad style Alaps. It got forgotten and nearly extinguished in the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays there a number of younger artists, basicly Sarod palyers, who occasionally play this in strument, but almost always like a Sarod.
    Here we present two older recordings by two great masters. Both have strong Dhrupad backgrounds, the first through his teacher, the Beenkar Ustad Wazir Khan of the Senia Gharana (direct descendant of Tansen), the second through one of his teachers, the Beenkar Ustad Dabir Khan, grandson and student of Wazir Khan. These recordings we found a while ago in the internet. Many thanks to the original uploaders: the first one I don't remember unfortunately, the second one being Abhimonyu Deb from Kolkata. A note about the pictures: normally the Sursringar is hold against the left shoulder, but because of Ustad Allauddin Khan being lefthanded he holds it to his right shoulder.

    1. Ustad Allauddin Khan 
    Raga Nat (31:02)
    A recording from All India Radio


    Ustad Allauddin Khan playing the Seni or Dhrupad Rabab

    2. Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra
    Raga Jaunpuri (30:26)
    A recording from All India Radio

    Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra playing the Sarod


    Another instrument that appeared in Hindustani music in the early years of the nineteenth century was the Sursringar, which was analogous to surbahar.
    Sursringar is a modified version of the Seniya rabab. The instrument rabab had some limitations. Its gut strings and skin parchment upon the resonator make the slow passages of alapchari, impossible unlike the been. Moreover, due to the dampness in the monsoons, the sound of rabab used to deteriorate so much that the notes played on it could not even be discerned. In Sursringar, the skin parchment of the resonator had been replaced by a wooden sound board, the gut strings by those of steel and the wooden fingerboard was covered with a thin iron sheet. With these modifications Sursringar became a distinct improvement over the rabab with regard to the tonal quality and for the alapchari of dhrupad anga. These modifications, in the rabab were carried out by a descendant of Tansen's named Jaffar Khan.
    Sursringar was well-suited for vilambit (slow) alap, and the techniques of both veena and rabab playing could be incorporated in it. The melodious effect of Sursringar was so overpowering that it could even outshine the veena in its vilambit alap. Thereafter, it became a tradition amongst the Rababiya gharana to play the Sursringar during the rainy season.
    The instrument was well received in the world of music and became popular in a very short time in northern India.
    Sursringar and surbahar, both these instruments were meant for playing the dhrupad anga alap in an elaborate manner. Sarod players used to play alap on the Sursringar before playing gat toda on sarod in the same manner as sitar players used to play on the surbahar before playing gat toda on the sitar. Therefore, it was customary to learn the Sursringar along with the sarod till the early years of the twentieth century. Gradually, when the sarod and sitar were modified and became well equipped with greater range of expressiveness, the popularity of the Sursringar and surbahar ebbed and these became obsolete in the latter half of the twentieth century.
    from: http://www.india-instruments.de/instrumente/instrumentenlexikon/sursringar.html

    Sursringar: Making way for sarod ?

    is the popularity of sarod responsible for elbowing out sursringar from circulation, asks richa bansal unlike most other instruments in hindustani classical tradition, sursringar, which falls in the category of stringed instruments, can be dated back to a specific time. it was devised, according to traditional accounts, by the great rabab player jafar khan in or around the year 1830. organologically, a cross between rabab and surbahar but with a distinct sound and string system, sursringar is fast declining in the modern age. sursringar consists of a large semi-spherical gourd sounding box covered with wood fitted to a hollowed tapering wooden stem. the stem has a steel plate attached to it with steel and brass wires stretched across the plate. in its present form sursringar has six main strings and three subsidiary strings. it is played with a stiff wire plectrum called 'java'. the traditional style or baaz of sursringar is extremely difficult and is slowly dying out. the instrument was mainly used for playing alaap in the complex dhrupad system. it has a marvellous tone and depth of sound and is held upright like a been or sitar during a performance. pyar khan, jafar khan and bahadur sen khan were some of the great exponents of sursringar. in bengal, ustad allauddin khan, kumar birendrakishor roychwdhury, shaukat ali khan and pandit radhika mohan maitra were the noted sursringar players. trained under ustad ali akbar khan and shri dhyanesh khan, anindya banerjee is virtually the only practising exponent of sursringar in its traditional style in india today. anindya banerjee, who is originally trained in sarod, "fell in love" with sursringar when he heard a recording of ustad allauddin khan playing the instrument sometime in the 1970's. it was much later in the 80's that he decided to revive it and his ensuing efforts since then deserve high praise. "i was the first to take this instrument abroad and use it in ballet music in the dhrupad festival in uk organized by amc in 1992," said banerjee. "i have also used it in the background music of some kolkata tv serials," he added. he has even taught music in canada in 1984 and is scheduled to leave for uk in coming november. invited to various other prestigious music festivals both in india and abroad, banerjee's cd's are expected to be released fairly soon by an american as well as a french company. banerjee feels that sursringar has declined primarily since ustad allauddin khan incorporated the different styles of rabab, sarod and sursringar into sarod alone. this made sarod so versatile that gradually sursringar and rabab lost their popularity. besides, he explains that the instrument, being very large in size, poses difficulty in transportation. the sitting style of sursringar is verasan is extremely difficult to learn. lastly, it is not an easily affordable instrument priced between rs 30-50,000. "while five years is the maximum time a student requires to learn sursringar it is much easier for a sarod student to learn it," feels banerjee drawing on his own experience. anindya banerjee owns a relatively new sursringar instrument made from tunkat with its tabli recently replaced with 200-year-old teakwood. "initially sursringar was made from teak but nowadays only tunkat is used," he said. "the main maker of sursringar in kolkata today is hemen and company with instruments ranging from rs 30,000 onwards," he added. essentially a connoisseur's delight,sadly enough, sursringar is now hardly played in front of mass audiences. however, banerjee feels that with proper instruction, it will be possible to play this instrument alongside sarod and sitar on the concert stage some day. strongly maintaining that classical music still has its select audience, even banerjee could not help but agree with the fact that the quality had deteriorated immensely over the past years. and sursringar is no exception to this rule.
    from: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/calcutta-times/Sursringar-Making-way-for-sarod-/articleshow/1375957068.cms

    See also this note about Anindya Banerjee and a recording hopefully to get published one day:

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    Java - L'Art du Gamelan - LP published in France in 1974

    Another beautiful recording of Gamelan music done by Jacques Brunet.
    For more information on this series and Jacques Brunet see:
    For our other posts from this series see:

    Side 1:
    1 - Gending WedikengserYogyakarta (RRI)24/08/1970
    Kuntul Wiranten (Kyahi)RRI Yogyakarta22'25

    Side 2:
    2 - Gending BabadYogyakarta (RRI)07/09/1972
    Sadat Pengasih (Kyahi)RRI Yogyakarta22'20

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    "I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues."

    "The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don’t want to be festooned by those issues."

    Said Rand Paul.

    Obama goes on the radio to defend himself against the charge that he wears "mom" jeans.

    "I’ve been unfairly maligned about my jeans. The truth is, generally I look very sharp in jeans. There was one episode like four years ago in which I was wearing some loose jeans, mainly because I was out on the pitcher’s mound and I didn’t want to feel confined while I was pitching, and I think I’ve paid my penance for that. I got whacked pretty good. Since that time, my jeans fit very well."

    This was on Ryan Seacrest's radio show, part of Obama's effort to reach young people and tell them to sign up for health insurance.

    "If Christie is knocked out, if Walker loses his re-election bid and if Jeb Bush decides not to run..."

    "... the chances increase that the Republicans in 2016 will opt for one of the far-right, freshman senators who’ve signaled that they’re running — Paul, Rubio or Cruz. If so, they’ll be repeating on a national scale what they did in US Senate races in Nevada, Connecticut and elsewhere, namely, running an ideological zealot who can’t appeal to independent, centrist and moderate voters, exactly Hillary Clinton’s base."

    Wielding the "ifs" at The Nation. 

    "I get that Sendik's Fine Foods wants to keep its customers happy and sell lots of groceries, but did it really need to block a tame Milwaukee Magazine cover showing two brides getting married?"

    Asks Jim Stingl at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

    The "tame cover" is one that says: "For love & money: Same-sex marriage is big business and Wisconsin is losing out on millions."

    One customer complained and the store put a black covering the offending text and photo (which of course set off other complaints).

    What was offensive about the cover? I can think of more than one way! If you support gay marriage out of a sense of justice and fairness, you might be offended to see it pushed because it's good for business. And if you think good for business is a great argument, don't you lose the high ground for arguing against the store, if it's just doing what it thinks is good for business? Or maybe it's all about throwing economic weight around, and the supporters of same-sex marriage struck back, expressing their offense at the black coverings, causing the store to read the business advantage the other way around?

    Ah, so much of it is only about money anyway! The strongest argument for same-sex marriage is that it's not fair to exclude gay people from the tax advantages and other financial advantages available to a heterosexual who can enter into the legal relationship of marriage with the person he or she feels sexually attracted to.

    The most boring argument against same-sex marriage — which I'm sure my commenters will not be able to resist restating ad nauseam —  is that marriage is a word with a definition that restricts it to one man and one woman. To put that more simply: Please address the new issues raised by this post.

    Also: The pretty wedding location in the cover photograph is the Milwaukee Art Museum.

    Surprisingly few people around the world think belief in God is essential to morality.

    "Worldwide, Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality."

    "Military radar data suggests a Malaysia Airlines jetliner missing for nearly a week was deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course..."

    "... heightening suspicions of foul play among investigators, sources told Reuters on Friday."

    That was poorly written, suggesting that what is "among investigators" is foul play, but of course, it's the suspicions that lie with the investigators. But who are they suspecting of foul play?
    The last plot on the military radar's tracking suggested the plane was flying toward India's Andaman Islands, a chain of isles between the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, they said....

    A...  source familiar with the investigation said inquiries were focusing increasingly on the theory that someone who knew how to fly a plane deliberately diverted the flight.

    Wow, that "Ban Bossy" thing is working its virality awfully effectively.

    1. I'm taking a distanced, standoffish view of the man-swarm around that Sandberg, Lean-in, Julia-ish business that James Taranto, Instapundit, and many others are talking about.

    2. Yeah, the ladies said "Ban"... so: Censorship alert!!! Beep! Beep! Beep! Did you bite at the bait? You're boosting their business. You did what they wanted you to do. Oh, how easy it is for women to manipulate men. Putting the man in manipulate. Some women wear push-up bras and red stilettos, and other women say I will control you. And those words impel you to dance your dance of freedom. Dance, man, dance!

    3. Ha ha. It's a funny dance, that dance the BanBossy made you do. Mind if I stand off over here? I'm the standoffish one.

    4. From over here, in my corner, here's how it looks. There's no banning. There's only pressure to think about the meaning of the things we think and say, to be more aware of the connotations of the words we use. "Bossy" is one word that conveys more gender meaning than the people who use it might realize. There are other words — "shrill" and "hysterical," for example — that you might want to notice are used more quickly against females and that might be unfair or dispiriting.

    5. There are words that are used against men too, and women — some women — may feel energized to level the competition by cutting down men.

    6. Why don't we all become more conscious of the meaning of words and of the basis of our opinion about other human beings? Why don't we become more generous as we interpret the experiences of other people and interact with them? Why don't we engage in the finest aspects of the life we are given and really try to understand each other and to use language in a way that expands and enlightens our shared existence?

    7. See how my point #6 isn't at all viral? You don't feel spurred to talk about that.

    8. Which is my point. It's why there is BanBossy.

    9. All that gets recorded is what's dominant at each moment.

    "Whatever you believe about where things come from, the human body is unbelievable. It's so sensitive."

    "And when you give it something, it loves it. You give it good food, it grows. It's nourished. And when you give it good input, it loves it. When it sees great art, it feels good. We all are like that. So with our music, we were deprived. And we started getting very little, a minuscule 1/20th of what we [are] capable of getting, what we used to listen to. So then one or two listenings, you'd heard it. Your body was not getting anything new after that. You've already figured it out. That's it. OK, I recognize it. And music even changed a little bit. ... Music adapted. It became beat-heavy and it became right for what the media was that was selling it. It became smart, it became clever, tricky."

    So says Neil Young, who has introduced a new musical format called Pono (which means righteous or goodness in Hawaiian).

    I still remember the rant by Neil Young that Harper's Magazine published back when CDs were first introduced. Seemingly everyone at the time was raving over how much better CDs were, and here was Neil Young crying over how bad they were. He sounded both crazy and correct. When are you pulled into believing what one person says when everyone else is saying the opposite? For me, that was one of those times. I never forgot it.

    By the way, I think one reason taste in music changed is that people started listening to it in the car and then later on portable devices. Subtlety doesn't work too well unless you're sitting quietly, like an elegant man in one of those beautiful living rooms in those old ads for very expensive stereo equipment, which we used to think about and spend more money on than would make any sense to a young person today. We read books back then too, and the book was an entirely different object from the technological device that played the music.

    Ah! I found the old Neil Young piece in Harper's (where I have a subscription). It's in the July 1992 issue, under the heading "The CD and the Damage Done," which retitles what was originally headed "Digital Is a Huge Rip-off" in Guitar Player. (PDF.) Excerpt:
    Digital is completely wrong. It's a farce... [Y]our brain and your heart are starved for a challenge, and there's no challenge, there are no possibilities, there's no imagination. You're hearing simulated music. Your brain is capable of taking in an incredible amount of information, and the beauty of music should be like water washing over you. But digitally recorded music is like ice cubes washing over you. It's not the same....

    Listening to a CD is like looking through a screen window. If you get right up next to a screen window, you can see all kinds of different colors through each hole. Well, imagine if all that color had to be reproduced to only one color per hole — that's what digital recording does to sound. All that gets recorded is what's dominant at each moment....
    All that gets recorded is what's dominant at each moment.... That sounds like a larger, scarier idea about modern life.

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

    At Taylor's Café...

    ... there's still a little snow for the Tibetan Terrier. (Click the arrow on the right side of the photo for more pics of Taylor.)

    50 years ago today: the murder of Kitty Genovese.

    "The fact that this crime, one of six hundred and thirty-six murders in New York City that year, became an American obsession—condemned by mayors and Presidents, puzzled over by academics and theologians, studied in freshman psychology courses, re-created in dozens of research experiments, even used four decades later to justify the Iraq war—can be attributed to the influence of one man, A. M. Rosenthal, of the New York Times," wrote Nicolas Lemann in The New Yorker.
    ... The manufacturing of the thirty-eight-witnesses myth had generally benign social effects. Yet there are many examples in which tendentious public renderings of violence have set off more, and worse, violence. (Many of the lynchings in the South during the Jim Crow era were undertaken to avenge a crime that the mob, confirmed in its rage by the local press, felt certain had taken place.) The real Kitty Genovese syndrome has to do with our susceptibility to narratives that echo our preconceptions and anxieties. So the lesson of the story isn’t that journalists should trust their gut, the way Abe Rosenthal did. Better to use your head.
    ADDED: In 3 months and 2 days, Winston Moseley was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. He's still alive:
    Moseley became eligible for parole in 1984. During his first parole hearing, Moseley told the parole board that the notoriety he faced due to his crimes made him a victim also, stating, "For a victim outside, it's a one-time or one-hour or one-minute affair, but for the person who's caught, it's forever."At the same hearing, Moseley claimed he never intended to kill Genovese and that he considered her murder to be a mugging because "[...] people do kill people when they mug them sometimes." The board denied his request for parole.
    What terrible arguments! Mosely has been denied parole 17 times.

    "If Republicans win a Senate majority in 2014, there's no guarantee they'll confirm anyone, no matter how moderate, to the Supreme Court during the Kenyan socialist's final two years."

    Writes Bloomberg's Jonathan Bernstein.
    Any Republican nominee for the court will be as Federalist-society solid as John Roberts or Samuel Alito.... [A] court in which Breyer and Ginsburg are replaced by nominees from any conceivable Republican president will be a court that rapidly erases their legacies....

    Ginsburg and Breyer might not prefer a Supreme Court that is highly partisan and ideologically divided, in which retirements are strategic moves. But that's the court they've got. If they care about the principles they've fought for, they should retire in time for confirmation battles this year.
    That's under-analyzed. Is there enough time left to "retire in time"? The new Senate won't be seated until January 2015, but how would it work for the Senate to be dealing with one or two Supreme Court nominees as 33 Senators face reelection and the very question of which party will get control of the Senate is hotly fought? Theoretically, Obama could nominate individuals who would present the Democratic Party in the most favorable light, but what sort of characters would they be? Could Democrats agree, and if not, is their disagreement something that would make Democrats look good in the fall election season?

    If Obama would be forced to pick innocuous moderates, he might as well wait until after the election and risk having to seek approval from a Senate that contains more Republicans. And I think that the more Republicans end up in the Senate in 2015, the more likely it is that a Democrat will be elected President in 2016, so Ginsburg and Breyer can just as well stay put. Assuming they're plotting this all out politically.

    "Despite being declared dead and kept in a deep freezer at his ashram for six weeks, an Indian guru’s followers are confident he will return to life to lead them."

    "Mission spokesman Swami Vishalanand insisted earlier this week their leader [Ashutosh Maharaj] was not dead but was in fact in a state of 'samadhi,' the highest level of meditation, and was therefore still conscious."

    How different is it from the Christian belief in Jesus returning from the dead? It's different in that Maharaj's followers are asserting that he hasn't died, but is in a state of deep meditation.

    But then why put him in the freezer? I see that a man petitioned a court and accused the followers of keeping the body frozen as a way to acquire his property, but Maharaj has been officially declared dead, so from a legal standpoint it's just a question about what to do with a dead body, which, I take it, is unrelated to inheriting the dead person's property.

    Is freezing a permissible method for dealing with a dead body? In the United States, we have our cryonics places.

    Legally, cryonics patients are treated as deceased persons. A long established legal tradition, the concept of "lost persons," permits a person who has been declared legally dead to later be declared legally alive.
    Here's a great essay the now-dead David Rakoff published back in 2003. Excerpt:
    The grand fantasy of cheating death... is as old as humanity itself.... What is brought up repeatedly as a worthy precedent is a letter Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend in 1773: "I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira wine, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country!"...

    The full-body patients are stored upside down, so that, in the unforeseen event of a nitrogen boil-off, the head would be the last to thaw. Neuros [head-only "patients"] are stacked five high.... Each head is placed in what looks like a high, narrow steel stockpot....

    I ask Hixon whether any concessions are made to preserve the neuros' faces. Not really. Neuropreservation is all about the brain. The only reason it is kept in the skull is to minimize damage. Hair is removed to reduce insulation and to allow easy access to the burr holes made in the skull for the "crackphones"—seismograph-like sensors that monitor any fissures that may result from freezing. Also, the antifreeze renders the skin translucent. "This is not a cosmetic procedure" is all Hixon will say on the record.

    "It’s a testament to how constrained and inert the city has become that the 1970s, the most unloved decade of the recent past..."

    "... now seems to so many young New Yorkers like a golden age."
    You can understand, sitting or more likely standing on a NYC subway train today, why many of us born after 1980 and now stuck in this unaffordable city might mythologize the 1970s, which for all its danger at least felt alive.
    Nostalgia for a time you didn't live in. It's a particular sort of nostalgia, especially absurd when what you feel was so much more "alive" in the time when you yourself were not alive was how much more painful it was. Find your own pain. Or better yet, figure out a way to live that isn't about longing for pain.

    And I'm saying this as someone who lived in New York City from 1973 to 1984.

    And here, reread that 1970 essay by Tom Wolfe, "Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s," that paragraph about nostalgie de la boue:
    Very nice! In fact, this sort of nostalgie de la boue, or romanticizing of primitive souls, was one of the things that brought Radical Chic to the fore in New York Society. Nostalgie de la boue is a 19th-century French term that means, literally, “nostalgia for the mud.” Within New York Society nostalgie de la boue was a great motif throughout the 1960s, from the moment two socialites, Susan Stein and Christina Paolozzi, discovered the Peppermint Lounge and the twist and two of the era’s first pet primitives, Joey Dee and Killer Joe Piro. Nostalgie de la boue tends to be a favorite motif whenever a great many new faces and a lot of new money enter Society. New arrivals have always had two ways of certifying their superiority over the hated “middle class.” They can take on the trappings of aristocracy, such as grand architecture, servants, parterre boxes and high protocol; and they can indulge in the gauche thrill of taking on certain styles of the lower orders. The two are by no means mutually exclusive; in fact, they are always used in combination. In England during the Regency period, a period much like our own—even to the point of the nation’s disastrous involvement in colonial wars during a period of mounting affluence—nostalgie de la boue was very much the rage. London socialites during the Regency adopted the flamboyant capes and wild driving styles of the coach drivers, the “bruiser” fashions and hair styles of the bare-knuckle prize fighters, the see-through, jutting-nipple fashions of the tavern girls, as well as a reckless new dance, the waltz. Such affectations were meant to convey the arrogant self-confidence of the aristocrat as opposed to the middle-class striver’s obsession with propriety and keeping up appearances. During the 1960s in New York nostalgie de la boue took the form of the vogue of rock music, the twist-frug genre of dances, Pop Art, Camp, the courting of pet primitives such as the Rolling Stones and José Torres, and innumerable dress fashions summed up in the recurrent image of the wealthy young man with his turtleneck jersey meeting his muttonchops at mid-jowl, à la the 1962 Sixth Avenue Automat bohemian, bidding good night to an aging doorman dressed in the mode of an 1870 Austrian army colonel.

    "Sharks Are Circling Around Hillary."

    Says Eleanor Clift.

    I predict Hillary does not run. I look to Rahm.

    "The Most Overrated and Underrated Law Schools."

    These variations on the 2015 U.S. News law school rankings are based on the premise that what really matters is the "peer reputation" score. What accounts for a significant discrepancy between peer reputation and the overall rank? I'm guessing — and this is an educated guess based on 30 years of experience — it's about the aggressiveness with which the school selects students based on the hard numbers (LSAT score and GPA) and limits the size of the incoming class to control where the median LSAT and GPA go.

    On this theory, the so-called "overrated" schools have played an aggressive numbers game that more than makes up for the lack of respect shown by the "peers." The so-called "underrated" schools are, I'm guessing, the ones that resist allowing U.S. News to push them to select students based on the hard numbers and have opted to build a student body out of accomplished, interesting individuals whose LSAT and GPA aren't so impressive.

    The "peers" who are surveyed to get the "peer reputation" score are "law school deans, deans of academic affairs, chairs of faculty appointments and the most recently tenured faculty members" at all the law schools. How these people are expected to have accurate opinions of 194 law schools I have never understood. I've been among the surveyed peers a number of times, and I didn't think I had an accurate opinion about any of them. You're allowed to pick I don't know, but do you trust the power-wielders who do the survey to say they don't know? And if they think they know, do you trust them to base their knowledge on current information about the school? Worst of all, knowledge of the law schools is absurdly infected with knowledge of the very U.S. News ranking that annually reinfuses itself with endlessly recycled awareness of reputation.

    For the opinion that reputation among academics is the only factor that should matter to prospective students, here's John Yoo. (For the record: My school has always done better on peer reputation than overall, though the difference isn't enough to put us on the most-underrated list.)

    Alex Sink "could not outrun the tsunami of advertisements tying her to President Obama’s health care law."

    That's the analysis, by Lizette Alvarez, in the NYT:
    The defeat was devastating at a time when Democrats are desperate to change the prevailing story line that 2014 could cost them the Senate, with the House already out of reach....

    While both Republicans and Democrats said the health care law was not the only factor in the race, Mr. Jolly’s victory guarantees it will become a focus in competitive races elsewhere....

    As early as Monday, the White House political director, David Simas, expressed anxiety about the race, phoning reporters to pre-emptively play down the health law as a factor, something that Democratic leaders continued to do on Wednesday.

    Mr. Jolly said he would vote to repeal the law. Ms. Sink said it had problems but should be fixed rather than discarded.

    “The one thing we do have to reckon with and acknowledge is that the Affordable Care Act was a motivating issue for Republicans to turn out and vote,” [said Ms. Sink’s pollster, Geoff Garin]...
    The NYT goes pretty far in revealing how freaked out the Democrats are about the fall election. Here — for contrast — is the Rush Limbaugh perspective:
    [T]he reason that the Democrats thought this was a slam dunk for them, Obama won this district in 2008 and 2012, handily....

    This race duplicated strategically the way the Republicans ran House races in 1994. They nationalized them....

    This was about Obamacare. That's a big-time national issue, and it was huge in the defeat of the Democrat and the victory for the Republican. It was the primary factor in the election, and it was people voting against. They did everything they could, the Democrats did, to try to take Obamacare out of the race, but they couldn't because people are living....

    The interesting thing, too, about this race -- and this is a little piece here from Forbes. "Alex Sink Rides Global Warming Alarmism to Surprise Congressional Defeat." The Democrats had this global warming talk-athon earlier this week, and they are doing that primarily to raise money, but they actually think they have a winning campaign issue....
    The NYT article referred to the existence of factors other than Obamacare but did not mention climate change/global warming. The Forbes article, written by a man who lives in the district (which is pretty far south in Florida, so you'd think they'd be more worried about the approaching warmth than most Americans), said "it seemed I couldn't go 15 minutes into my limited viewing schedule without seeing the same Sierra Club/League of Conservation Voters commercial excoriating Jolly for being a global warming skeptic." Rush continues:
    The point here is the Democrats lost on two of their fundamental issues. The Democrats were rejected big time on two of the most important issues they are pushing: Obamacare and global warming. And I hope they keep it up. I'm tempted to shut up about it....

    Now, in this little bellwether election last night, we found -- and the Drive-Bys are not reporting this. AP is strictly relating this election to Obamacare. But this guy at Forbes who lives there has made it known that trying to tag the Republican as a global warming denier -- and therefore a tool of Big Oil and a tool of Big Energy and a tool of planetary destruction -- bombed out big time.

    All you people who showed up in person for this lecture...

    ... shut up so I get a good recording for the people who are not here.

    Welcome to the MOOC, chumps.

    "Why did I stop midway through episode 2 [of 'True Detective']? It wasn't the sex. It was the mumbling."

    "Between McConaughey and the other guy who looks too much like him (Woody Harrelson), it was way too much 2 guys mumbling. This show could not fill the aching gap left by 'Breaking Bad,' which we watched, all 60 episodes in just about exactly 60 days. In 'Breaking Bad,' not only was it easy to tell Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston apart, but the 2 actors frequently spoke quite clearly."

    That's what I wrote yesterday, and a reader sent me this spoof from "The Soup" which had us laughing here at Meadhouse at 5:50 a.m.:


    Things Vanity Fair thinks were "wondered at" that probably were not wondered at.

    From "O.K., Glass: Make Google Eyes" (The story behind Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s liaison with Google Glass marketing manager Amanda Rosenberg — and his split from his wife, genetic-testing entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki — has a decidedly futuristic edge. But, as Vanessa Grigoriadis reports, the drama leaves Silicon Valley debating emotional issues, from office romance to fear of mortality.")
    Wojcicki must have wondered at the way a partnership built on love, pragmatism, and a shared philosophy about the way the world works can be trumped by the passion and excitement of a new relationship.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    "I was just like: I'm ready. I'm sick of hanging around on ropes. It went from being sort of like an intimidating idea to just being like: I'm kind of excited to do this."


    I said "no, no, no!" throughout this video except at one point when I paused to say: "I guess he felt truly alive."

    At the exploded apartment building in East Harlem, residents had been complaining for weeks about an "unbearable" smell of gas.

    So says one resident. I find that hard to believe.
    The fiery blast on Park Avenue at 116th Street, not far from the edge of Central Park, erupted about 9:30 a.m., around 15 minutes after a neighboring resident reported smelling gas, authorities said. Con Edison said it immediately sent utility workers to check out the report, but they didn't arrive until it was too late.
    Yes, isn't that how it works? You can call Con Ed and they respond immediately. Maybe the complaints only went to the landlord, but still, the negligence is unfathomable.

    "Clubhouse chemistry is important," said Nate Silver, displaying a chart that shows that only 6 of the 19 members of his editorial staff are female.

    Emily Bell at The Guardian says:
    It is as if Arianna Huffington never happened. Or as if diversity of leadership and ownership did not really matter, as long as the data-driven, responsively designed new news becomes a radical and successful enough departure from the drab anecdote laden guff put out by those other men....

    A clubhouse. Do we really still have to have one of those? And does the importance of clubhouse chemistry really override the need for a more thorough look at the statistical make-up of its membership?
    Nate Silver, ironically, is the big statistician. I'd use these numbers against them if they use numbers like this against anybody else. But I'd say a startup should be tight and efficient, not padded with extra people who are there for appearance's sake. They've got 6 females in the clubhouse. I don't see a reason to charge discrimination. Now, give us some great journalism.

    "[E]vidence of a vast 'wet zone; deep inside the Earth that could hold as much water as all the world's oceans put together."

    The evidence is "A small, battered diamond found in the gravel strewn along a shallow riverbed in Brazil."
    The water is not sloshing around inside the planet, but is held fast within minerals in what is known as the Earth's transition zone, which stretches from 410 to 660km (250-400 miles) beneath the surface.

    "Last night was scary, Ann."

    The subject line of email received just now from the Democratic Party.
    Republican super PACs and outside groups rode to the rescue of a straight-up corporate lobbyist -- spending $5 million to tear down his Democratic opponent....

    In a district that Republicans have held for almost six decades, we nearly pulled off an incredible upset thanks to grassroots support from Democrats like you -- but we fell short for one reason: We got outspent in a Republican district. 
    But didn't the Democrats dump money into that race first? It was a Republican district, and the Democrats decided to try to pull off an upset, and that triggered a response from the Republicans, who ultimately threw money in there too. From the Washington Post today:
    [Jolly] struggled to raise money in the campaign, lagging behind Sink, who unlike him, did not have to endure a contested primary that drained resources....

    As a result of Sink's money advantage over Jolly, she enjoyed a head start...

    GOP groups rallied to Jolly's side, spending some $5 million in an effort to narrow the financial gap, compared to about $3.75 million from Democratic organizations.
    The Republicans stepped in and deprived the Democrats of a victory that they were hoping to leverage in their fundraising email that would have gone out instead of the "Last night was scary" one I got.

    I wonder if the "Last night was scary" message only goes to female names on the Democrats' email list.

    "Recognizing life as a concept is, in many ways, liberating."

    "We no longer need to recoil from our impulse to endow [Theo] Jansen’s sculptures with 'life' because they move on their own. The real reason Strandbeest enchant us is the same reason that any so-called 'living thing' fascinates us: not because it is 'alive,' but because it is so complex and, in its complexity, beautiful."

    From a NYT op-ed titled "Why Nothing Is Truly Alive," which does not — as you might anticipate — address the Roe v. Wade concept-of-life question. Here's video of the genuinely enchanting Strandbeest:


    "Don’t get me wrong: I love a nice bouncy rack. And if a show has something smart to say about sex, bring it on."

    But Emily Nussbaum has "turned prickly, and tired of trying to be... the Cool Girl: a good sport when something smells like macho nonsense."

    She's writing about "True Detective," in a New Yorker piece titled "Cool Story, Bro/The shallow deep talk of 'True Detective.'" That's from March 3rd, before the season finale, which she writes about a week later in "The Disappointing Finale of 'True Detective.'"

    I was reading those 2 things this morning after getting halfway through the second episode last night. I'd watched episode 1 in it's entirety a few days before. I'd noticed the critical attention the show was getting, and Matthew McConaughey had just won the Oscar, so I gave it a chance. Why did I stop midway through episode 2? It wasn't the sex. It was the mumbling. Between McConaughey and the other guy who looks too much like him (Woody Harrelson), it was way too much 2 guys mumbling. This show could not fill the aching gap left by "Breaking Bad," which we watched, all 60 episodes in just about exactly 60 days. In "Breaking Bad," not only was it easy to tell Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston apart, but the 2 actors frequently spoke quite clearly.

    And don't tell me I'm getting old and my hearing must be going. I had high-level testing on my hearing quite recently (in connection with a problem with vertigo). There's just something too dull about the endless mumbling of the 2 men, as if we're continually prodded to take their problems seriously. But why? So there are some murders going on. And some clues. There are millions of stories about murders and clues. Why pick this one? Because the atmospherics are arty? Those were my questions. I don't get Nussbaum's concern about sex and nudity. I guess I didn't watch far enough into the series to get what I was supposed to be "cool" about. It wasn't the mistreatment of women that undercut my enjoyment. It was the dullness of men.

    I googled "actors who mumble," thinking I'd add some detail about the history of acting, which I assumed would get me right to Marlon Brando. I found this A.V. Club piece from 2012: "Mumblecore: 20 memorably inarticulate movie performances." Wikipedia has an entry for "Mumblecore," defining it as "a subgenre of American independent film characterized by low budget production values and amateur actors, heavily focused on naturalistic dialogue."
    The genre can trace its roots back to the French new wave of the 1960's, especially the films of Eric Rohmer, whose films focused on the romantic intrigues of characters and depicted lengthy conversations....

    Woody Allen's "Manhattan" was a high-budget Hollywood predecessor of mumblecore, as it was shot in black and white in natural locations and focused on a single protagonist....

    The directors of the films are sometimes referred to collectively as the "mumblecorps", as in press corps. Film journalists have also used the terms "bedhead cinema", and "Slackavetes", a portmanteau derived from the title of Richard Linklater's dialogue heavy, lo-fi 1990s film Slacker and the name of independent film director John Cassavetes.
    Hmm. Is that really a thing or are people just funning with the "-core" suffix these days? For the record, "Slacker" is one of my all-time favorite films. So is "Manhattan," and so is the John Cassavetes film "Husbands" (which used to be called cinéma verité).

    Bite into Spring.

    It's in there. We smelled it.

    "Did Russ Feingold Just End a War?"

    Headline at Politco. Excerpt:
    Still, as Feingold stumbled his way through the muddy, steep terrain, the [Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park] apparently reminded him of the Midwest, and he later mused about the bright tourist prospects for Congo should the country become more stable. Wildlife could be brought back. “We did that in Wisconsin,” he pointed out. “There had been elks, and one state senator said, ‘Let’s reintroduce elks.’ So they did, and now they’re all over the place.”

    "Rad Sex Week fills a need in Montreal."

    A headline in The McGill Daily that I first read in a tiny font that made it look like "Bad Sex Week fills a need in Montreal." But, anyway... what's the need for rad sex in Montreal? I'm reading this article so you won't have to. I'll summarize:

    1. The need is for conversation about rad sex, which seems to relate to the fact that every person named in the article is female.

    2. "Rad sex" does not include nonconsensual sex, and nonconsensual sex seems to be broadly construed by the Rad Sex Week folk who perceive the "sexual culture at McGill" as "pretty non-consensual." (It's also "very heteronormative and sexist.")

    3. Radical sex and radical politics "give us a chance to really explore and be free."

    4. A female playwright, performer, and sex activist named Cameryn Moore enthuses about "moving outside of the box" and "taking our sexuality outside of the box" seemingly without any awareness of the sexual double entendre of "box."

    5. Moore is the founder of Sexploreum, "an immersive art-sex project," and she "is responsible" for an event called "the Masturbate-a-thon," which is "an annual solo sex play party, where it’s all genders, no touching anybody else." (I need a tag something like: It's an art project when you say it's an art project.)

    6. The above-referenced artist informs us that sex "can transform people’s lives in a very serious way." Noted.

    How to rein in the doctors who hand out all those recommendations that let Californians buy "medical" marijuana.

    From the editors of the L.A. Times:
    [A]fter years of fighting efforts to legitimize the cannabis industry, the League of California Cities and Police Chiefs Assn. have sponsored a bill designed to regulate marijuana more like a medicine....

    The sponsors want to shut down "doctor mills," where any walk-in who can concoct a medical excuse can walk out with a recommendation for marijuana. To tighten up, the bill would allow only a person's primary care doctor or a specialist referred by that doctor to make a recommendation....

    But marijuana is still designated a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the federal government, which does not recognize medical uses. Already some doctors refuse to recommend it....

    The bill also would require any doctor who wrote more than 100 recommendations in a year to be audited by the state Medical Board. Why 100? An oncologist could reasonably issue two recommendations a week. State law says no doctor can be punished for recommending marijuana to a patient, so the audit seems more like an intimidation tactic than a legitimate enforcement measure.
    So the very mildness of the enforcement is what makes it unacceptable intimidation?

    "He shook my hand very firm, very sexy. He said today was a beautiful day to be in New York. He’s more handsome in person, very sexy."

    Said the lady shopping at the Gap in NYC who got to shake Barack Obama's hand. 

    Why was Obama shopping at the Gap in NYC?
    pollcode.com free polls 

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    Jolly wins.

    Ho ho.


    Please consider doing your Amazon shopping through the Althouse Amazon Portal.

    Smelling spring.

    It's in there.

    "My once beloved magazines sit in a forlorn pile... Television now meets many of the needs that pile previously satisfied."

    Writes David Carr in the NYT:
    I have yet to read the big heave on Amazon in The New Yorker...
    Which I blogged here last month.
    ... or the feature on the pathology of contemporary fraternities in the March issue of The Atlantic...
    Yeah, I already blogged that too, here.
    Magazines in general had a tough year...

    And then there are books. I have a hierarchy: books I’d like to read, books I should read, books I should read by friends of mine and books I should read by friends of mine whom I am likely to bump into. They all remain on standby. That tablets now contain all manner of brilliant stories that happen to be told in video, not print, may be partly why e-book sales leveled out last year. After a day of online reading that has me bathed in the information stream, when I have a little me-time, I mostly want to hit a few buttons on one of my three remotes — cable, Apple, Roku — and watch the splendors unfurl.
    Is pleasure reading dying? Not everyone spends the whole work day reading, as Carr does and I pretty much do. But if that's how you live, maybe in the evening, when you're settling in and feeling tired, you want to look at TV. Carr makes much of the supposed greatness of TV today, at least when you can watch whatever you want whenever you want and also of the problem of ebooks being on the same device where you can watch your TV shows.

    I still find I only want to watch one hour of TV a day. I like that hour, but I snap it off after an hour, even if I'm watching a movie and then have to watch the second half the next day. I don't like that much noise, and I resist being stuck with the pace of video. I prefer text, where I control the speed, can skip around, and can react with my own text, as I'm doing right now, blogging about Carr's article without having consumed the whole thing.

    At the 3 Labs Café...

    ...  we've got all the colors.

    If the FAA can regulate drones, it could be regulating "a flight in the air of a paper airplane or a toy balsa wood glider."

    Said the federal administrative law judge who rejected the agency's attempt to fine the operator of a flower-delivering drone $10,000 for "reckless flying."

    "Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama."

    Watch it, here. It's a "Funny or Die" production, which you can tell Obama was advised to do to reach the young folks on the subject of HealthCare.gov, which he does pretty well. We watched at Meadhouse, which looked like this:


    MEADE: You can tell he's reading the lines.

    ME: Yeah, well, he's a pretty good actor. You have to give him credit for that.

    MEADE, perceiving that there are 2 men on the screen: Who?

    ME, resisting adding "not Zach Galiwhatever, I have no idea if he's a good actor": Obama.

    MEADE: Yeah, he's a big actor. That's what he is. An actor. [Referencing today's McGinniss obit:] The Selling of the President.


    That's the big deal today: Jolly-Sink.
    After almost $9 million in outside spending.... The stakes are particularly high for Democrats...

    Rooftop photography...

    ... of the UW—Madison campus at dusk.

    (The second photograph shows the main portion of what is my walk from home to the law school. And note the state capitol building in the deep background.)

    ADDED: The third photograph shows the steam cloud from heat plant that I've often photographed for this blog.

    "Rand Paul 26%, Scott Walker 21%, Ted Cruz 20%. Rick Perry & Sarah Palin 5% each, Marco Rubio & Chris Christie 2% each."

    The results of Instapundit's straw poll. 

    From the comments on yesterday's post at Instapundit, I noticed the things people said about (my governor) Scott Walker:

    1. "I cast my vote for Scott Walker because he is the only one of the top three candidates who has an actual track record of executive success. We have lots of people who can give good speeches, but which other candidate has pretty much single handedly turned around a deep blue state?"

    2. "I live in WI and hope Walker is governor here forever. But I would never take him seriously as a presidential candidate and no one else will either, if he runs."

    3. "I agree. I consider Scott Walker the greatest public servant our state has had in my lifetime. But don't promote him to his level of incompetence."

    "Washington & Lee’s Experiential Learning Seems To Be A Flop."

    Above the Law looks at Washington & Lee's horrible 17-step drop in the U.S. News law school rankings (which just came out this morning, as we've been talking about here):
    Please remember this the next time a law professor or law school dean tries to sell you a load of bull about “revamping” 3L year. Washington & Lee did just that. The school changed its third-year program to focus on so-called “practice ready” skills.

    Employers didn’t take the bait. As we explained this summer, Washington & Lee’s job numbers are really down. Then this fall, we told you that W&L had the most dramatic drop in class size. The class of 2016 at W&L is down just over 40 percent.

    Now, U.S. News has come in with the hammer. W&L has dropped from #26 last year to #43 this year. When reached for comment, George Washington and Robert E. Lee said, “THE CENTER MUST HOLD! Wait, what are we talking about?”

    Just remember, when legal academics try to sell you on “practice readiness,” they might not necessarily have any idea what they’re talking about.
    1. If they dramatically dropped class size, they avoided even worse numbers on various factors (LSAT scores, GPA, and acceptance rate). Other schools did that too. Who knows what the ranking would be without all the strategies schools use to play the U.S. News game?

    2. The Washington & Lee plunge will be used against proposals to turn law schools more toward the experiential learning approach, whether that explanation for the drop is correct or not.

    3. Presumably, prospective students will be scared off of schools leaning too far into the "experiential" approach, leading to even more of a negative effect in the rankings for schools that go this route, which will further hamper efforts to radically reframe law school education.

    "We think of Hollywood as a very progressive place and a bastion of liberal thought."

    "But when you look at the numbers and the representation of women onscreen, that’s absolutely not the case. The film industry does not like change."

    Film — to the extent that it's an "industry" — likes money. Does it have political beliefs? I thought the "progressive" belief was that corporate entities lack minds and souls and can have no beliefs, so the moment you say "film industry," your concept collapses on itself.

    But let's assume these groups of people acting together within corporations really do have political, moral, philosophical, and religious beliefs. Let's get more detail about what those beliefs really are. These corporate entities may relatively successfully brand themselves as more or less liberal and progressive, but that doesn't mean that they really are and maybe they don't even want to be.

    Pressure groups — like the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, quoted in the linked NYT article — can mess with the branding. And moviegoers can vote with their ticket-buying for more woman-centered flicks. But that all keys into profit-seeking, not anything genuinely liberal.

    But it's fun to watch from a distance when those who pose as liberals are tweaked by those who stand to their left.

    Efforts at censoring the comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala heighten his appeal.

    This is happening in France, which follows the kind of anti-hate-speech approach that's pushed by some Americans who lack sufficient respect for our free-speech tradition.
    [T]he attempts to silence Mr. M’bala M’bala seem to have fueled support for him among his core audience: a social and racial cross section of French people who feel shortchanged by a ruling elite....

    Mr. M’bala M’bala... has... denied that he is an anti-Semite... In [one] of his popular routines he performs a song called “Shoahnanas” — a pun that in French sounds like the words “hot pineapple.” The word Shoah refers to the Holocaust, and Nana is a slang term for a woman akin to the English chick. The video features a thin, bedraggled man in the kind of uniform that was worn by prisoners in concentration camps, with an oversize yellow Star of David on it; the man jumps around the stage — a puppet on a string to Mr. M’bala M’bala’s satirical commentary....

    Anti-Semitic views “are not that important until it connects with the masses and that’s what Céline did in the ’30s and that’s what Dieudonné is doing now,” said Andrew Hussey, the dean of the University of London in Paris and a specialist in the history of anti-Semitism in France....

    “Dieudonné’s got this constituency out in the banlieues and he speaks to them in code, he doesn’t have to say, ‘The Holocaust never happened,’ ” Professor Hussey said, referring to the poor suburbs often populated by immigrants. “Instead he makes a joke about the Shoah, but the joke is testing the limits of French law.”
    Joking about the Holocaust should feel ugly, but when the government crushes the comedian, it's the government that feels ugly. The best defense against oppressive government is this instinctive sensitivity to oppressive government.

    The link goes to a NYT article, which doesn't link to any of the offensive material. I found this, which seems to be at least one iteration of "Shoahnanas."

    Joe McGinniss, the journalist who harassed Sarah Palin, dead at 71.

    Too bad to put in a life's work and have something creepy that you did be the #1 thing many or most people attach to your name when they see that you died.

    "The Selling of the President" was a great exposé of the what it takes to run for President. As the NYT puts it in the obituary (linked above):
    When Mr. McGinniss published “The Selling of the President,” his famous account of Richard M. Nixon’s television-centered campaign in 1969, he was only 26. The book went behind the scenes with President Nixon’s consultants and became a model for political reporting.
    1969, eh? Come on NYT! How hard is it to get the presidential election years right? Especially 1968. 1968 was by far the most dramatic election year of the 13 presidential election years I've watched personally. (I lived through 2 others, but I paid zero attention.) [ADDED: Alternatively, "in 1969" is a the old "misplaced modifier" error.]

    Here's the image of Nixon on a pack of cigarettes I've been looking at on the paperback book that's been on my bookshelf for 4 decades:

    1968 — the year was even in the title (at the time, not now). Back then, the year made the title funnier, because we understood that the book was a cheeky departure from the sober observations of Theodore H. White in his "The Making of the President 1960" and "The Making of the President 1964." In more noble times, Presidents were made, but the message was the times are now debased, and some imposter, undeserving of the presidency, posed for a bunch of ads. Advertising — !!!! — is used to sell the President and this — this! — is what we got stuck with. Blech! Ashtray mouth!!!

    McGinnis also wrote "Fatal Vision," about "the murder trial of Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army doctor and a Green Beret accused of killing his pregnant wife and 2 daughters."
    Mr. McGinniss lived with Dr. MacDonald’s defense team during the trial and eventually decided that the jury’s guilty verdict was correct.
    One of my favorite books ever, "The Journalist and the Murderer," by Janet Malcolm, examines the relationship between a journalist (McGinniss) and his subject (MacDonald). The subject imagines the journalist will be his friend and mouthpiece, getting his story out, and the journalist has every reason to help him think that — every reason if you don't count honesty, decency, and true friendship... and how much honesty, decency, and true friendship is deserved by a man who has killed his pregnant wife and 2 daughters?

    So... farewell to Joe McGinniss, who rode the pop culture end of journalism for a good long time.

    U.S. News law school rankings served up hot this morning.


    We're celebrating — though many of us are too dignified to say so — here in Madison, Wisconsin, as our law school rises 2 ranks to #31. If you click to put the schools in order of tuition and fees, we're #10. [CORRECTION: No, we're not #10, we're #35 in order of tuition and fees. I was looking at page 2.]

    (And we're the only school with the diploma privilege, so... think about it.)

    ADDED: There are 2 law schools with a higher overall rank than Wisconsin that have lower tuition and fees: University of Georgia and University of Alabama.

    Monday, March 10, 2014

    "The Senate was headed into another all-nighter Monday evening as 26 Democrats who call themselves the 'climate caucus'..."

    "... planned to speak nonstop about climate change from about 6:30 p.m. until 9 a.m. Tuesday."
    “It’s aimed towards the day when something more concrete can be legislated,” said Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, a veteran of climate and clean-energy policy battles....

    Climate change legislation — which would most likely place a price on carbon pollution — could raise gasoline and electricity costs, which would be deeply unpopular with voters. 
    That last sentence is the second-to-the-last sentence in the linked article, which is in The New York Times. The last sentence contains the phrases "fossil fuel industry" and "libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch" and "spend heavily to block."

    "For the sake of society and the economy, it's not that women should lean in, but men should lean out."

    Argues Lotte Bailyn of the MIT Sloan School of Management.

    Sharyl Attkisson resigns — after 2 decades with CBS News — "frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias..."

    "... an outsize influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said."
    She increasingly felt that her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air.

    At the same time, Attkisson’s reporting on the Obama administration, which some staffers characterized as agenda-driven, had led network executives to doubt the impartiality of her reporting. She is currently at work on a book — tentatively titled “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington” — that addresses the challenges of reporting critically on the administration.
    The book can be pre-ordered at Amazon, here, but its scheduled publication date isn't until November 4, 2014. That's election day, which is an odd choice. Why not get it out before election day... as long as you're fighting for truth? Maybe she's planning on writing it over the course of the election season, covering the elections, and hitting the airwaves after the election, analyzing things and selling the book.

    "We are all right-wingers now: How Fox News, ineffective liberals, corporate Dems and GOP money captured everything."

    A Salon headline for a piece by Thomas "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Frank.

    "Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold the freaking phone. DUKE IS NOW IN THE TOP 10 OF THE U.S. NEWS LAW SCHOOL RANKINGS."

    "The school had previously held down the fort at the #11 slot for several years, but has now climbed its way up the rankings. Welcome to the Top 10 of U.S. News, Blue Devils!"
    What other kinds of shocking changes will we see when the rankings are released?...

    We guess you’ll have to wait until midnight to get the scoop on the latest U.S. News rankings. Until then, all you can do is pray to the rankings god that is Bob Morse and hope that your alma mater fared well.
    ADDED: The excited blogger at Above the Law indulges in 2 "hold" clichés: "hold the phone" and "hold down the fort." I'd avoid all clichés myself, but I'd particularly avoid doubling up on clichés that use the same word. Also, don't misuse your clichés. "Hold the phone" is used properly. What is the image we're supposed to get?
    I believe this expression originated in the days where reporters needed to phone their stories in to newspaper editors from public phone boxes. As there was often a crush on the phones at the end of an event - like a sports game - the smart journalist would have most of the story written and get to the phone before the game had finished. However, if something exciting seemed to be happening, or if some other news event was being covered and there was some new development occurring, the reporter might even scream - 'hold the phone' - while he went to investigate this new twist in the story.
    So, it was cornball to say "hold the phone." It's "held down the fort" which has to go. I think the writer confused holding down the fort with camped out, which both seem military. You hold down the fort is something somebody born in the first half of the 20th century might have said to a housemate when she (or he) was going out for a short time. "Camped out" is the phrase you want for describing those who are stuck in one spot and waiting expectantly.

    At Libby's Café...


    ... don't see that poodle. See me!


    In Colorado, refusing service to people who smell like marijuana.

    New frontiers in discrimination.
    “I feel that it’s my right to make the statement. It’s the same thing as no shoes no service,” said shop owner Hugo Corral....

    "A mother calls and says hey we can’t go in there anymore because we don’t want it to smell like marijuana when my child’s sitting there waiting," said Corral....

    Other business owners have thanked him for taking a stand and his customers say it’s been a noticeable difference.

    After the CPAC poll...

    ... the Instapundit poll.

    100 years ago today, a suffragette attacked this Velázquez painting with a meat cleaver.

    "I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history," said Mary Richardson, after hacking 7 deep cuts into  the "Rokeby Venus" — AKA "The Toilet of Venus," "Venus at her Mirror," "Venus and Cupid," or "La Venus del espejo."

    The suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst had been arrested the previous day. Richardson got a 6-month sentence (the most that could be given for vandalizing artwork. In a much later interview — in 1952 — she said she didn't like "the way men visitors gaped at [the painting] all day long."
    Contemporary reports of the incident reveal that the picture was not widely seen as mere artwork. Journalists tended to assess the attack in terms of a murder (Richardson was nicknamed "Slasher Mary"), and used words that conjured wounds inflicted on an actual female body, rather than on a pictorial representation of a female body. The Times, in an article that contained factual inaccuracies as to the painting's provenance, described a "cruel wound in the neck", as well as incisions to the shoulders and back.
    Here's how it looked:

    Here's the full text of Richardson's statement:
    I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history. Justice is an element of beauty as much as colour and outline on canvas. Mrs. Pankhurst seeks to procure justice for womanhood, and for this she is being slowly murdered by a Government of Iscariot politicians. If there is an outcry against my deed, let every one remember that such an outcry is an hypocrisy so long as they allow the destruction of Mrs. Pankhurst and other beautiful living women, and that until the public cease to countenance human destruction the stones cast against me for the destruction of this picture are each an evidence against them of artistic as well as moral and political humbug and hypocrisy.
    From the same link, this a description of the attack from the London Times, March 11, 1914:
    Miss Richardson, who was released under the "Cat and Mouse Act" in October last and has not since been rearrested, visited the National Gallery about 11 o’clock yesterday morning. She is a small woman, and was attired in a tight-fitting grey coat and skirt. She stood in front of the Rokeby Venus for some moments, apparently in contemplation of it. There was nothing in her appearance or demeanour to arouse the suspicions of the uniformed attendant and a police constable who were on duty in the room and were standing within seven or eight yards of her. The first thought of the attendant, when he heard the smashing of glass, was that the skylight had been broken; but a moment later he saw the woman hacking furiously at the picture with a chopper which, it is assumed, she had concealed under her jacket. He ran towards her, but he was retarded somewhat by the polished and slippery floor. The constable reached the woman first and seizing her by the right arm prevented her from doing further mischief. She allowed herself to be led quietly away to the inspectors’ office. Addressing a few visitors to the Gallery who had meanwhile collected, she said, "Yes, I am a suffragette. You can get another picture, but you cannot get a life, as they are killing Mrs. Pankhurst.
    The "Cat and Mouse Act" is explained here, where you can see this poster:

    Years ago, in Amsterdam, when I traveled — like Bill Griffith — with a sketchbook instead of a camera, I encountered a ceramic version of that poster at that Cat Museum:

    Amsterdam Notebook

    ADDED: That 6-month sentence makes me want to do another one of my parodies of "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."
    In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
    To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level...
    And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
    And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
    Mary Richardson with a six-month sentence
    Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
    Bury the rag deep in your face
    For now’s the time for your tears
    You know, you can't get another Velázquez painting any more than you can get another Mrs. Pankhurst. If you can "get another picture," you can get another woman. Ah, but can you get a woman that makes accurate analogies? These women are rare, though not as rare as Velázquez paintings.

    "It’s certainly the worst Congress since I’ve been in Congress... We’ve gotten very little done."

    Said Henry Waxman, the Democrat.

    "I tell people, we’re not getting anything done and that’s good," said Tom Coburn, the Republican.

    As I like to say — it's my best aphorism — better than nothing is a high standard.

    "The passenger jet was in what is considered the safest part of a flight, the cruise portion, when it disappeared."

    "The weather conditions were reported to be good. Aviation experts say it's particularly puzzling that the pilots didn't report any kind of problems before contact was lost."

    I don't know, but doesn't that suggest that the pilots deliberately shut off communication? Who were the pilots?
    All the crew members on board the plane were Malaysian. The pilot of the missing plane is Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old with 18,365 flying hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981. The first officer, Fariq Ab Hamid, has 2,763 flying hours. Hamid, 27, started at the airline in 2007. He had been flying another jet and was transitioning to the Boeing 777-200 after having completed training in a flight simulator.
    I see that Drudge — with the teaser "Unprecedented Mystery — is linking to this Reuters article quoting Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the head of Malaysia's Civil Aviation Authority, using that phrase. But my first link, which goes to CNN, says "it's not unprecedented" and:

    In June 2009, Air France Flight 447 was en route from Rio De Janeiro to Paris when communications ended suddenly from the Airbus A330, another state-of-the-art aircraft, with 228 people on board. It took four searches over the course of nearly two years to locate the bulk of Flight 447's wreckage and the majority of the bodies in a mountain range deep under the Atlantic Ocean. It took even longer to establish the cause of the disaster.
    But that incident wasn't the same when it comes to the utter lack of communication. When Air France Flight 447 went down, the pilot was in communication and was saying "Damn it, we’re going to crash… This can’t be happening!"

    IN THE COMMENTS:  Larry J said:
    No, it doesn't suggest the pilots deliberately shut down communications. There's this widespread myth that the first things pilots do when there's an emergency is to reach for the radio. Nope, the rule is fly the plane, work the problem, navigate and then communicate.

    There are several possibilities for why they didn't communicate. One, some sort of catestrophic failure occurred so quickly that they didn't have the time or opportunity to communicate. Possible causes of that include (but are not limited to) a bomb going off in the plane or an extremely rare mechanical malfunction that tore the plane apart. An example of that was the Air Lauda 767 accident back in 1991 where a thrust reverser deployed in flight. Total electrical failure (also extremely rare) could prevent them from communicating but that's unlikely to cause the plane to crash. 
    He also observes that the Air France Flight 447 recording is probably "from the cockpit voice recorder, not an external radio communication."

    "Will de Blasio's promise to let developers build larger and taller in exchange for creating affordable housing overwhelm neighborhoods with hulking buildings that hurt the quality of life?"

    That's what "some advocates and preservationists" are asking.

    I think if you click through and look at the design, you'll scream yes.

    If the developers want people to accept huge buildings, why do they make them so ugly?

    Here's Madison's little big-building controversy, as presented by our former mayor Dave Cieslewicz. Don't miss the comments section, with much participation by Stu Levitan, who leads the Landmark Commission that rejected the proposal. ("This column is a disgrace, and shows a shocking disregard for both facts and the laws....")

    Here's some background on Levitan, an article that ends, "'Yes, I still have Nixon’s balls,' Stu Levitan said. 'Thanks for asking.'"

    I've mentioned Levitan before on this blog, for example in the post "'So Meade, in your marriage, which one of you is the whore?' A question asked in the webpages of Isthmus by Madison politico Stu Levitan." That was back before Meade got blocked from participating in the Isthmus forum for speaking inappropriately. (Isthmus is the Madison alt newspaper, i.e., the main newspaper in Madison. And here's an old post of mine that records ex-Mayor Dave's interaction with Meade at the Isthmus.)

    ADDED: Clicking around writing this post, I got to this old piece of Dave's that has Meade in the comments, and I see that Stu Levitan is also in the comments there. Dave's topic is college football, and Meade, commenting with his full name, Laurence Meade, writes:
    It's a free market, Dave. Plenty of schools don't have sports. Go to one of those schools.

    As far as brain injuries, what else are you going to ban - riding in cars? bicycling? taking showers? drinking alcohol?
    Stu Levitan reacts (and misspells Laurence):
    Lawrence, are you really asserting that the number of brain injuries from showering equals the number of brain injuries from football? My, you are a silly little fellow!
    Meade responds (deliberately misspelling Stu):
    Stw, what I am asserting is that football is only one of many activities which can lead to traumatic brain injury. Your question reflects poor reading comprehension. Is it possible that you bumped your head while playing Chutes and Ladders when you were a child?

    Or maybe you didn't play that game. Maybe you, Cowboy Stu, and your family played Go To The Head Of The Class. You probably should've worn a helmet.

    Like Dave!
    I thought that was pretty funny and read it out loud just now to Meade. He said: "Too bad they banned me. I brought some color."

    I said: "They don't want color."