August 2, 2015

Photo search: U.S. President wearing shorts.

Results: 1. Bill Clinton:



2. Barack Obama:



3. George W. Bush:



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Who is this?



How old is he in this picture?

Do you like his tie enough to recommend that men today wear something like that? I do.

Hitting the wall.

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It's very hot here in Madison today, hot and windy. Hiding indoors, I watched 4 — 4! — of the morning talking-heads shows, but there's nothing I want to write about them. Or... okay: Donald Trump was on at least 3 of them, literally phoning it in, saying the same thing in response to the same questions. How will he act in the debate? He doesn't know. He's never been in a debate before. He's not a debater... like those other guys. He won't be on the attack, because he's a "nice guy," but if others attack him, he'll punch back twice as hard (not that he used the Obama-associated phrase "punch back twice as hard"). He wants to make America great again, and he's the one who can do it, because he's a guy who gets things done. And:
CHUCK TODD: Who would you rather face: Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I don't have a choice. I would say this. I think with what she's doing and how she's coming out, you know, she's got a terrible record. She's probably the worst secretary of state in the history of this country. And, she's now, the email thing, I mean, what they did with Petraeus is they destroyed his life. What she did is far greater and far worse than Petraeus did. So I would think that she at some point you're going to get a prosecutor who's going to be an honorable prosecutor. And there's going to be major problems for her. So I would think other people would be looking.
That's from "Meet the Press," but he made the Hillary-Petraeus comparison in each of his phoned-in interviews.

"Just as conservatives who hearken for a return to the ’50s are sure to be disappointed, urban advocates who suggest a 'return to the city' for middle class families will be as well."

"Both minorities and millennials, often thought of as spearheading a 'back to the city' drive, are, according to most indicators, moving out to the suburbs as they enter their thirties and start families. Dense urbanity, of course, remains a huge contributor to the nation’s economy and culture. Urban centers are great places for the talented, the young, and childless affluent adults. But for most Americans, the central city offers at best a temporary lifestyle. It does not fit with what people can afford and where they want to live. There is a reason why 70 to 80 percent of Americans in our metropolitan areas live in suburbs, and those numbers are not likely to change appreciably in the coming decade. Cities... have indeed experienced a renaissance, but not in the form [described in 'Death and Life of Great American Cities']. To be sure, this revival is a hell of lot better than the urban dystopia that developed [post-1960]. But it’s time to recognize that we are not seeing a renaissance of the kind of middle class urbanity that she loved and championed. That city has passed into myth, and, unless society changes in very radical ways, it is never going to come back."

From "What Jane Jacobs Got Wrong About Cities."

"Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture."

A Vox piece.

"The weather-beaten forms of cuddly toys hanging from buildings are a common sight in Albania."

"Who put them there, and why?"
In Albanian they're just called "majmune", meaning "monkeys" - the word used for any soft toy...

Is it to do with religion? I ask. But whether the answer comes from a Muslim or a Catholic, it's the same - a shrug. "Religion isn't important," says one man....

"It stops the evil eye seeing our money," says one man outside his bustling furniture workshop. He is pleased to talk to me, full of reminiscences of his time working in London's Gloucester Road four years ago. He explains that at first he hadn't hung a monkey up when he was building this place. "And then the police came. They were causing trouble. My son went out and bought a monkey and we've not had any trouble since."

August 1, 2015

"As a kid, I was searching for my tribe of other people who saw through the matrix."

"Even as a kid I could never buy into the status quo. I just thought it was a joke; I couldn't believe other people weren't laughing at it."

At Psychedelic Wall Café...

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... take a look at your landscape.

"Caitlyn has every right to be just as conservative as she chooses. But many transgender men and women need social programs to survive..."

"... and that's nothing to be ashamed of. If Cait's going to be a spokesperson for the community. This is something she's going to have to understand."

Pushback... as Caitlyn Jenner shows her political conservatism. Eh. Or something like that. The quoted dialogue comes from a trailer for the show, as does Jenner's expression of conservatism. I think what's going on is more that show needs dramatic tension, so something was set up, and the show needs a narrative arc, and there will be one. Thus, early on, Jenner expresses the view that people can get "totally dependent on" government, because they think "they can make more not working with social programs than they actually can with an entry-level job," and they start thinking "Why should I work?" and they "get in trouble." Later, I'm betting, Jenner will become more aware of social problems and the value of government programs. Narrative arc achieved. Quite boring of course, but not so boring that I'm trashing this post.

"Professor what's your stand on kilts?"

Asks Mac McConnell in the comments to this morning's men-in-shorts post.

My answer: "They should not be so long that I can stand on them."

If you're thinking of wearing a kilt that has a train...



... guys, don't.

Federal judge dismisses Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson's effort to win back her position of chief justice.

"Abrahamson filed suit April 8, a day after voters had approved a constitutional amendment to change how the chief justice was elected to a majority vote among the justices every two years."
“The court concludes that Wisconsin’s new method of selecting its chief justice was effective on April 29, 2015, when the referendum was certified, and that the Wisconsin Supreme Court was authorized to implement that method and to elect a new chief justice on that day,” wrote Judge James Peterson in Friday’s decision....
“The court has some misgivings about whether [the Justices' vote to elect Patience Roggensack as their new chief] actually reflects a judicial interpretation of the amendment, because the issue was not presented to the court in the usual manner with advocates presenting the competing positions,” Peterson wrote. “Nor was it resolved in the usual manner, which typically involves at least some measure of deliberation in which all the justices participate. But the down-and-dirty interpretation (which defendants dignify with the term 'de facto') will do for the purposes of this case.”...

“This federal court does not have to guess what that interpretation would be, because on April 29, 2015, the day that the referendum was certified, four justices voted to elect Justice Roggensack as the new chief,” he wrote.
That is, the federal judge wouldn't say what the meaning of the Wisconsin constitutional amendment is, because the state supreme court has authority over the meaning of state law, and by taking the vote for a new chief, the court revealed its interpretation of the amendment. That eliminated the argument that the Wisconsin constitutional amendment should be understood to leave Abrahamson in her old position until her present term ends. Beyond that, there was an argument that it violated due process, under the U.S. Constitution, for the people of Wisconsin to change the method of determining who would be chief justice. The judge rejected that argument.

"I had been wondering why so many people seem to hate Donald Trump."

"Calling him egotistical or a 'loudmouth' doesn't really explain it — those are reasons to find someone off-putting and to avoid him, but not to hate him. After watching this previously unreleased movie about Trump from the early '90s, I finally understand. A large part of my job involves construction-site safety, which is something I feel strongly about. The description of the construction work on Trump Tower (where Trump lived in luxury after developing it), starting at 31:20 in the movie, is outrageous."

Writes Jaltcoh.

"Funhouse Psychotherapy With Poker Chips."

"In a thousand ways, [gambling] has taught me two main lessons: that the odds are the odds, and they will always ultimately prevail; and that the mind (and particularly the ego) is full of trickery. These tricks take myriad forms, but they share a common theme: The odds apply chiefly to others. You are special."

An essay by Walter Kirn at Good, which you should click to if only for the illustration, which I don't think was intended to evoke a burqa but does.

More email.

"Always wanted to ask if Meade wears shorts. If he doesn't, did he used to and give them up for you?"

"Or did he never wear shorts and was that a point in his favor with you? Or did you just tell him that if he ever wears shorts you'll kill him?"

Email from a reader, which I answered "Meade does whatever he wants."

My problem with men in shorts has always been that it makes the man look like a boy. I don't want a boy-man. You know what else makes a man look like a boy? When mommy dresses him.

July 31, 2015

At the Sidewalk Café...

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... you can find the light.

"To hold ancient books, incunabula, in my own hands was a new experience for me..."

"... I particularly adored Conrad Gesner’s Historiae animalium (1551), richly illustrated (it had Albrecht Dürer’s famous drawing of a rhinoceros), and there, too, that I fell in love with all the works of Sir Thomas Browne— his Religio Medici, his Hydriotaphia, and The Garden of Cyrus (The Quincunciall Lozenge). It was in the stacks that I saw all of Darwin’s works in their original editions. How absurd some of these were, but how magnificent the language! And if Browne’s classical magniloquence became too much at times, one could switch to the lapidary cut and thrust of Swift, all of whose works, of course, were there in their original editions."

Writes Oliver Sacks, in his memoir "On the Move: A Life," which I'm reading in Kindle form, and,  reading on my iPad, I can Google my way into things that jump out, like that rhinoceros. There's a whole Wikipedia article, "Dürer's Rhinoceros":
The image was based on a written description and brief sketch by an unknown artist of an Indian rhinoceros that had arrived in Lisbon earlier that year. Dürer never saw the actual rhinoceros, which was the first living example seen in Europe since Roman times... Dürer's... depicts an animal with hard plates that cover its body like sheets of armour, with a gorget at the throat, a solid-looking breastplate, and rivets along the seams. He places a small twisted horn on its back, and gives it scaly legs and saw-like rear quarters... Despite its anatomical inaccuracies, Dürer's woodcut became very popular in Europe and was copied many times in the following three centuries. It was regarded by Westerners as a true representation of a rhinoceros into the late 18th century.


I'm also fascinated by that word "incunabula," which the OED defines as "1. The earliest stages or first traces in the development of anything" and "2. Books produced in the infancy of the art of printing; spec. those printed before 1500." The literal original meaning is: swaddling-clothes.

"7 College Students Talk About Their Instagrams and the Pressure to Seem Happy."

In New York Magazine.

"New Law School Courses Explore Nietzsche, Guns and Bible."

This doesn't surprise me in the slightest. It's the same-old-same-old from my point of view, but it might surprise you. Let me know if it does.

"Banking regulators just said no to a financial institution that aims to be the first to serve the expanding marijuana industry in Colorado."

"The Fourth Corner Credit Union in Denver applied in November to the Federal Reserve for a 'master account,' which would allow it to interact with other financial institutions and open its doors to some of the hundreds of state-licensed marijuana businesses in Colorado...."
The credit union, which has the backing of Colorado’s governor, fired back on Thursday night by filing a lawsuit in federal court in Denver against the Fed, demanding “equal access” to the financial system....

Many small-business owners in the state have had to improvise with safes, armored cars and other alternatives to banking. Colorado’s state government has said that the lack of access to banks is a public safety issue, as well as a deterrent in the state’s effort to collect taxes....