Monthly Archives: July 2008

July 22, 2008, 10:23 am


Just, wow. I know everyone else is doing it, but this is amazingly cool. Below is a Wordle for Blessed among Nations.

And here is one for Edge of the American West. This is less satisfactory because it apparently picks the recent RSS feed, so it overrepresents very new stuff. Still:

July 22, 2008, 9:25 am

Court, unpacked.

On this day in 1937 the Senate shelved President Franklin Roosevelt’s court-packing plan, which would have allowed him to appoint new judges and justices to the federal bench for each who did not retire within six months of his (it would have been “his”, then) seventieth birthday.

The court-packing story awaits the fullest possible treatment. The general outline goes something like this: The Supreme Court had struck down legislation key to the New Deal by what seemed arbitrary reasoning—and indeed had gone so far as to strike down state laws regulating conditions of labor, which struck even some Republicans, including Herbert Hoover, as unduly intransigent. The Republicans decided to make the 1936 presidential election about the New Deal vs. the Constitution, with themselves as the Court’s political allies. The New Deal, and Roosevelt, won in the record-setting landslide of 1936…

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July 22, 2008, 5:42 am

Mainstreaming ageism.

I nod my head approvingly gravely while casting admiring censorious glances in the direction of writers from Politico, who’ve found so many clever appalling ways to call The Maverick old — and perhaps addled. How dare these journalists leftist propagandists refer so decorously “to the sensitive issue of McCain’s advanced age” in the context of a rather more muted than I would have liked deeply unfair essay hit piece detailing his recent egregious gaffe’s minor slips of the tongue: Czechoslovakia, the Steelers, the Iraq-Pakistan border? Be warned: America-hating whippersnappers will say anything to get a Muslim elected president.

(Seriously, I tend to find credible the McCain camp’s explanation for why their guy has so many verbal miscues: he speaks extemporaneously all the time, and thus increases his opportunities for such mistakes. Still, given how often McCain talks about…

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July 22, 2008, 12:01 am

I am filled with joy.

Blogging just got so much easier. Why? Because the folks at Jim Henson Studios (maybe?) are posting new Muppet videos to the YouTubes. And if you watch through to the end, Statler and Waldorf make digital-age cameos.

Via Gaijin Biker at unfogged.

July 21, 2008, 9:05 pm

“I do not think about things I don’t think about.”

[Author's Note/Update: Thanks to Vance Maverick for the link to the above vid.]

On this day in 1925, Judge John Raulston handed down a guilty verdict in the case of Tennessee v. John Scopes, known at the time and ever since as the Monkey Trial.

The trouble began early in the spring of that year, when Tennessee’s progressive governor, Austin Peay, abandoned his better judgment in a fit of political expedience and signed a new anti-evolution law. The so-called Butler Law made it

unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals…

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July 21, 2008, 8:16 am

Casting notes.

(1) Every time I hear or read that Jim Gordon is in charge of the “Major Crimes Unit” in The Dark Knight, I imagine him as played by Lance Reddick.

(2) Jim Gordon, Batman; McNulty, Stringer Bell; Gregory House; Apollo. All British actors playing American types. Does that seem like a lot?

July 20, 2008, 9:58 pm

Cripple Creek

I challenge anyone to find another Sesame Street performance dedicated to the evanescent pleasures of the drunken, bi-weekly booty call.

I’ve been trying all night to find Street clips about doing blow, drinking moonshine, or waking up after a bad meth party, but it appears that Sabbath, Uncle Tupelo, and The Drive-By Truckers were never invited to the show. Which only shows you what a load of fascists have taken over the Children’s Television Workshop.

July 20, 2008, 12:30 pm

More on satire. Sort of. And also other stuff.

This strikes me as at the very least a telling and perhaps even a significant moment in recent television history. Or not. Regardless, the women of The View begin by considering the meaning of Jesse Jackson’s disparaging remarks about Barack Obama. From there, though, Whoopi Goldberg tries to explain the linguistics of power dynamics — Subvert the Dominant Paradigm! — to Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck just doesn’t get it. Because she’s oppressed, too, you see. And there’s just so much hate in the world. So why add more by using coarse language?

Still and all, this is the kind of thing I was talking about at the end of this post. And my point isn’t that I’m vindicated or really smart or anything. Because I don’t think anyone was disagreeing with my rather obvious argument back then. It’s just that although Obama’s…

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July 20, 2008, 10:14 am

“Trust me.”

Just because this is a much better example of a singer performing with the Muppets.

July 20, 2008, 9:38 am

This day in philosophy

That’s an empirical question.

July 20, 2008, 12:01 am

Counting — but only to four.

After SEK forever ruined the Count for me, I was lucky enough to happen upon a link to this vid in the comments at unfogged (No, Wolfson, I can’t figure out exactly where. But there, you just got your hat-tip, okay?). So, hip people, do we like this Feist character? Because I’m not so sure. I think she may hate America. And it troubles me that she can only count to four. What’s up with that?

[Update: Also, this appears to be the 666th post on this blog. Coincidence? You'll have to judge for yourself, of course. For my part, though, I worry.]

[Update II: Turns out I didn't see it in the comments; it was a post over at Unfogged. I truly am an idiot. And I'm very sorry, Stanley. I hope you can forgive me. In my defense, you put the video below the fold. So it was hard to find.]

July 19, 2008, 8:25 am

Forty Whacks

Lizzie Andrew Borden emerged into the world on this date in 1860; about three weeks after her 32nd birthday, Borden discovered the body of her father, Andrew, on a couch in their home at Fall River, Massachusetts. Contrary to popular rhyme, Mr. Borden had not suffered “forty-one” whacks with a hatchet. The eleven he did sustain, however, were quite fatal — including the one that split his eye and another than severed his nose. The body of Abby Borden, which bore nineteen distinct wounds to the head and neck, was discovered upstairs in her bed a short while later.

Lizzie Borden, who was always the most likely suspect, was charged with the murders and acquitted by an all-male jury in June 1893.

Less fortunate in their own trials, five women from the town of Salem, Massachusetts — Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good and Sarah Wildes — were hanged for…

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July 18, 2008, 7:45 pm

The Depths of the American South

As the some of you caring for my cats already know, I’m off tomorrow to reacquaint myself with the depths of the American South.  (I am a Future Mississippi Landowner, after all.)  Blogging may be light, as the internet is carried in buckets uphill both ways during violent thunderstorms down there, but I’ll do what I can.  In the meantime, feast on my appreciation of The Dark Knight, or Gerry’s, or the one I’m compelling Adam to write via the Power of Link.

(And remember, kids, this ain’t a substantial academic post on an academic blog so much as announcement of future unavailability of the sort common to academic listservs, so complain at your own risk.)

July 18, 2008, 5:02 pm

Unfit for the presidency, 4.

Marshall asks, “Did he really just do that?”—did John McCain just casually reveal, for no very good reason at all, Barack Obama’s travel schedule to a war zone?

Compromising the security of an American official, just because you can, makes you unfit for the presidency.

Just to be clear, Marshall means to say: just suppose the shoe were on the other foot, and Obama had done it? Who would be impossible to trust with the nation’s security then?

(thanks to B)

July 18, 2008, 1:36 pm

Line-jumping and emotional strategies

A couple of people have linked Lance Arthur‘s interaction with a guy trying to cut in an iPhone line:

…I turn around and find a stranger standing behind me. Certain, he is nothing at all like the young Asian girl I was joking with for precious hours of my life. And the game commences.

“Are you standing in line?”


“Were you standing in line behind me outside for three and a half hours.”

“Yeah, I was.” Grin.

He stares at me. I instantly hate him. A lot. I hate everything about his self-congratulatory smart-assed grin and his cheating little heart and his idea of how life should work for him, where he can outsmart us all and get what he wants and get away with it. “No, you weren’t.”

“Yeah, I was.”

I point out to the front of the store. “She was behind me in line. You weren’t.”

“Are you gonna tell on me?” He asks this while still grinning …

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