January 16, 2017

"Cobb said the final play was not an actual playcall. Rodgers just told each receiver what to do..."

"... like a kid drawing in the dirt. Seriously."

"It’s very hard to lose weight in the Trump era.... I’m trying so hard to have it not turn into 30 pounds."

"I think it tests our ability to not want to numb out. There’s so many things that are hard to hear every day that you do want to have some Oreos. Like people say, what do you invest in during the Trump era? I feel like, Hostess Cakes. Most of us are just scared and eating ice cream."

Said Judd Apatow. He was talking Maureen Dowd, whom he treated to a meal of "spinach omelets with hash browns and hot sauce that he has picked up after dropping off his daughter at school."

I extract these details from the column because:

1. It's a somewhat charming, self-effacing confession that anyone might make: What's happening in politics seems horrible to me, so I comfort myself with the sweet, creamy foods of childhood.

2. Apatow is a big old powerful movie maker, so why is he being such a big baby? My guess is that his success lies in channeling the mundane reactions of young and powerless people, so it serves him well to relax into immature thinking patterns. It's creative, lucrative work for him. Easy work! What a lucky guy!

3. He's eating Oreos? That's his food reference? Trump owns Oreos foolery:

4. What kind of rich man entertains his NYT interviewer by serving her a take-out spinach omelet with hash browns and hot sauce? Take-out is bad enough, but a take-out omelet? I think an omelet is something you get out of the pan and onto the table in seconds or you just don't serve it at all. And then to make it spinach? What the hell are you trying to say? It would make more sense to serve Oreos and ice cream.

5. Has Maureen Dowd ever indicated her amenability to omelets? Back in February 2010, she forefronted an omelet served to her in a restaurant — so presumably she ordered it — in the presence of Harold Ford Jr. — or maybe it's only what he's eating — and she connected said eggs to the grossness of Harold Ford's feet:
Between bites of an egg-white garden omelet at a bistro in his Union Square neighborhood, Harold Ford Jr. defended himself on pedicures and flip-flops.

“I either run or try to play basketball every day,” he said. “I have severe athlete’s foot — feet. I get a foot scrub out of respect for my wife because getting into bed with what I have when I take my socks off isn’t respectful to anybody.”
I'm not reading that as an OK on omelets. I'm reading that as wafting methanethiol. And that was a high-tone, fresh-cooked, designed-for-a-lady egg-white garden omelet, not something that would be dumped into a styrofoam container to be called back to life with hot sauce.

January 15, 2017

Rockslide on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Photograph by Zion National Park.

That's approximately 200 tons of rocks that slid down on Friday evening.

We'd been thinking of Zion National Park as a good winter road trip destination. We are recalibrating.

Trump has interviewed 11th Circuit Judge William Pryor — one of the candidates on the list for Supreme Court nominees.

David Lat reports and explains why Pryor's chances are so good:
First, Sessions is a major Pryor proponent — and now that Sessions is definitely going to be AG, having killed it at his hearings, his Trumpworld stock is way up and his views enjoy greater sway within the administration. Sessions and Pryor are close friends and have known each for more than 20 years....

Second, the success of Sessions shows that what gets liberals all hot and bothered isn’t necessarily enough to stop a nominee — and this might encourage the Trump Administration to “go bold,” swing for the fences, and put up Pryor. Judge Pryor, more than any other potential Trump nominee, triggers strong opposition from liberal interest groups — civil rights groups, LGBT groups, and especially pro-abortion groups, who loathe his comments about Roe v. Wade (“worst abomination in the history of constitutional law”)....

Judge Pryor is very conservative and very outspoken — but he’s also very smart and a stickler for preparation, and he would likely perform well at confirmation hearings....

"They are the opposition party. I want 'em out of the building. We are taking back the press room."

The possible plan to move the press corps out of the White House press room over to the White House Conference Center or to the Old Executive Office Building.
Reporters have had some sort of workspace at the White House since Teddy Roosevelt's time, but the current press room is an artifact of the Richard Nixon era, the dawn of the symbiosis of the press and the modern presidency. The "room" is actually a space containing work stations and broadcast booths, as well as the briefing area that is so familiar to viewers of presidential news conferences.

For the media, the White House press room—situated on the first floor, in the space between the presidential residence and the West Wing—is not only a convenience, with prime sources just steps away. It is also a symbol of the press' cherished role as representatives of the American people.....
Should they be ousted if they are not playing the role the place supposedly symbolizes? Are they representing us, the People, who, collectively, elected Trump, or are they representing the Democratic Party?

I don't know that the symbolism is what should determine whether the press has that space or some other space, but I don't think the press — with respect to the Trump administration — represents the people. I think the statement "They are the opposition party" is much more accurate. Too bad they did that to themselves. We could use a vigorous, professional press.

"Don't give up blogging; our minds would rust without you. But I think you have earned a retirement from watching those Sunday morning panel shows."

I'm reading the comments on yesterday's post "This blog is 13 years old today" just after shutting off the TV — after 2 minutes — with the thought I don't have to do this. Not that I ever had to do it. It wasn't my job to monitor the Sunday morning shows.

The quote is from WA-mom. And thanks to all who commented on my bloggiversary post — and on all posts, which (I assure you) are written because I have genuinely found something interesting. I'm not under assignment to do any of this. It's not like the way I had to submit myself to the task of reading, say, Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, when it was my job to teach Conlaw1.

Why have I watched the Sunday shows? It's a one-day-a-week variation from the usual approach to looking around for something to talk about. Often I do sit through 3 or even 4 or 5 of them. This morning, I couldn't get started even on the first one.

What's blocking me isn't that I just retired and I'm living in a new way. It's that — or so it seemed from the first 2 minutes — the shows are grinding through all the complaints about Donald Trump. I feel I've heard them, I've had my fill of the grousing, and I think a new President deserves his moment of elevated pomp followed by a fair chance to show he can do something beneficial for the country. I've never seen anything like this kind of hostility and opposition thrown in front of a new President.

I think Trump has figured out how to thrive on hostility and opposition, and I know it causes me to root for him. It's my instinct to pull for the underdog, even as I recognize the absurdity of seeing the most powerful man in the world as the underdog. But that's what the Trump haters have done. Congratulations, you nitwits. Now, could you sing me a song about your triumph?

By the way, celebrities, "I Will Survive" is not "by Gloria Gaynor." The song was written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. The big hit version was sung by Gloria Gaynor, but when it's you singing it, you're not singing a song by Gloria Gaynor. But I appreciate your underscoring how embarrassingly stupid you are. That helps the rest of us "survive" — by ignoring everything you have to say.

It's not just something that happens in cartoons.

The circus is over.

After 156 years, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end.
"It's been through world wars, and it's been through every kind of economic cycle and it's been through a lot of change," said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, owner of the Ringling Bros. "In the past decade there's been more change in the world than in the 50 or 75 years prior to that. And I think it isn't relevant to people in the same way."...

Movies, television, video games and the internet captured young minds. The circus didn't have savvy product merchandising tie-ins or Saturday morning cartoons to shore up its image. After 1956, the circus no longer performed under tents, moving to arenas....

Animal rights activists put pressure on cities where the circus toured.... In 2014, Feld Entertainment won $25.2 million in settlements from groups including the Humane Society of the United States, ending a 14-year legal battle over allegations that circus employees mistreated elephants.

The initial lawsuit was filed by a former Ringling barn helper who accepted at least $190,000 from animal-rights groups. The judge called him "essentially a paid plaintiff" who lacked credibility and standing to sue, and rejected the abuse claims.

Kenneth Feld testified about the elephants' importance to the show at that 2009 trial. "The symbol of the 'Greatest Show on Earth' is the elephant, and that's what we've been known for throughout the world for more than a hundred years," he said. Asked whether the show would be the same without elephants, Feld replied, "No, it wouldn't."

And, it wasn't. Feld Entertainment removed the elephants in 2016, sending all 40 of them to their Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. Ticket sales plummeted. The circus, already an afterthought for many, receded further in the public mind....
So it wasn't all that complex. The end of the circus is explained in one word: elephants.

January 14, 2017

"How could I have this much hate spewing at me, and I haven't even done anything?"

"I guess it's not like those old days when political views were your own and you had freedom of speech. ... We live in a different time now and a decision to go and do something for America is not so clear-cut anymore."

Said Jennifer Holliday, who was going to to perform at the Trump inauguration. I'm completely unsurprised that she's been bullied into withdrawing.

50 years ago today: The Human Be-In.

Ah! Watch it in its 1967 glory — San Francisco takes off toward the Summer of Love:

In the early 60s, we'd had "sit-ins," when civil rights advocates quite logically made a protest out of sitting at lunch-counters where black people had been excluded. The "-in" suffix got attached to "teach" when the Students for a Democratic Society held a teach-in at the University of Michigan in March 1965. The "Be-In" of January 14, 1967 preceded the "love-in" and the TV show "Laugh-In."

In the hippie era, the idea that we could simple "be" felt — often with the prompting of LSD — so right. To hold an event that was patterned on a protest with that "-in" but at which you would just be... well, it was very 1967, as was the delight at the cosmic pun on "human being." Remember, this was before hippies seemed dumb. Imagine a time when hippies felt like the cutting edge of enlightenment:
The Human Be-In focused the key ideas of the 1960s counterculture: personal empowerment, cultural and political decentralization, communal living, ecological awareness, higher consciousness (with the aid of psychedelic drugs), acceptance of illicit drug use, and radical liberal political consciousness....
California had, only a few months earlier, banned LSD, shutting the door to cosmic perception. Timothy Leary was there to say "Turn on, tune in, drop out." Among the other gurus: Richard Alpert ("Ram Dass"), Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Dick Gregory, Lenore Kandel, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Jerry Rubin. Yes, there were also women in those days, but it was before prideful enlightened men noticed a need to perform gender-diversity theater. Male human was human enough for the Human Be-In. There is, however, a snakily sexy lady dancing in the audience in that video.

Hells Angels provided security. Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service played music. There was "White Lightning" LSD from Owsley Stanley and free turkey provided by the Diggers.

The serious adults who ran the mainstream news and covered the Human Be-In didn't think they were running free ads for LSD and the counterculture but they were. And those ads were vastly more effective than ads for conventional trips to tourist destinations. We teenagers watched and dreamed of making it out to San Francisco where life was beautiful and love was everywhere.

ADDED: "There was an awakening going on, and we knew it was happening across the country, and we knew there were pockets of people out there who felt isolated and alone and scared. We wanted to send a signal out to them: 'Hey, it’s OK to come out and spread your wings. Be your fully glorified self in all your beauty and joy. … You are not alone.'"

"The bikers are certainly used to being outnumbered and we are prepared to form a wall of meat."

Said Chris Cox, founder of Bikers for Trump, who are attending the inauguration.

That quote dragged the word "Altamont" up out of the swamp of my memories.

"A 1989 photograph of Donald Trump tossing a red apple was installed today at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C."

"This photograph has led many lives, nearly disappearing into obscurity. In 1989, Trump posed for [Michael] O'Brien, who was on assignment for a Fortune magazine story on American billionaires. From the beginning, O'Brien knew he wanted to place Trump against a backdrop of a bright blue sky and cotton ball clouds, a sky he says was inspired by the surrealist painter Rene Magritte. The apple was a last-minute addition, he told NPR. 'On the day of the shoot I thought, "It needs some type of action, something unexpected but telling." Bingo! A big red apple popped into my head ... It was sort of subconscious the apple. It was sparked by a color scheme, and I later realized it was symbolic of New York.'... [A]bout a year later, Random House asked O'Brien for the rights to use the image for the cover of Trump's autobiography Trump: Surviving at the Top. Over 20 years after that, the image was acquired by the museum. Today the portrait hangs under wall text that reads ' 2017 Inauguration, Donald J. Trump.'" Reports NPR.

Nice picture. Especially because the apple represents the geographic place Trump dominated, it makes me think of Chaplin tossing the globe around in "The Great Dictator":

But O'Brien says he was inspired by Magritte:

That's the one with the apple, but the sky is not bright blue with cotton-ball clouds. That seems to point to this famous Magritte image:

Perhaps O'Brien conflated the images. Question which of the 2 relates more to Trump. Trump doesn't seem to get obscured by things in front of his face, so I think the second image is more relevant. The surrealism is the nighttime on the ground while it is daylight in the sky. These are dark days, it seems, to many of us as we short-sightedly observe our immediate surroundings. But perhaps it is Morning in America, and those with their head hung down cannot see it.

"California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more."

"And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco," the L.A. Times reports.
A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion....

“Despite past issues with funding this boondoggle, we were repeatedly assured in an August field hearing that construction costs were under control,” [said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), chairman of the House rail subcommittee]. “They continue to reaffirm my belief that this is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The railroad administration’s analysis shows that the state authority could lose $220 million in one of the federal grants this year if it cannot submit paperwork by June 30, to meet the Sept. 30 deadline of the Obama administration’s stimulus act. To hit those milestones requires spending $3.2 million per day, a very high rate of construction spending....

The California system is being built by an independent authority that has never built anything and depends on a large network of consultants and contractors for advice....
Isn't it ironic that we're about to get a President who is the opposite of "never built anything"? How will Obama's train fare under President Trump?

From last March:
In a freewheeling speech Thursday afternoon, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump stumbled into a riff about how great trains are. It’s sad, he said, that the American rail system is so dilapidated while China’s is now slicker than ever.

“They have trains that go 300 miles per hour,” the populist billionaire exclaimed. “We have trains that go chug … chug … chug.”...

“Our airports, bridges, water tunnels, power grids, rail systems—our nation’s entire infrastructure is crumbling, and we aren’t doing anything about it,” he wrote in his 2015 book, Crippled America. He went on to promise that fixing it would spur economic growth.

“These projects put people to work—not just the people doing the work but also the manufacturers, the suppliers, the designers, and, yes, even the lawyers. The Senate Budget Committee estimates that rebuilding America will create 13 million jobs,” he wrote. Which, incidentally, was Obama’s point in 2011, when Congressional Republicans blocked his $60 billion infrastructure jobs bill.
I don't think Trump is about thinking small and scrimping. But we will not tolerate him dreaming big and throwing money at sprawling projects that never get done. Dreaming was Obama's gig. Trump will have to do that on-time-and-under-budget magic he's bragged about. The pressure is on. 

What if, in the end, it's the Obama-fan types who like Trump the most? 

Behold the uroplatus gecko!

It's like one of those "grey" aliens....

"The most important question surrounding Uber is not whether it is a platform or a transportation company, or whether its drivers are employees."

"It’s whether it can only recoup its investors’ billions by building a monopoly (or at least duopoly with Lyft) on the ruins of public transportation – and it may not take much to tear it all down."

This blog is 13 years old today.

If you want to read in chronological order, you'll have to start here, January 14, 2004:
This blog is called Marginalia, because I'm writing from Madison, Wisconsin, and Marginalia is a fictionalized name for Madison that I thought up a long time ago when I seriously believed I would write a fictionalized account of my life in Madison, Wisconsin. There is nothing terribly marginal about Madison, really, but I do like writing in the margins of books, something I once caused a librarian to gasp by saying. Writing in a blog is both less and more permanent than writing in the margin of a book.
If you keep reading, you'll have to read 47,395 posts before you get to this one. Imagine all the transitory matters — big and small — you'd have to get your mind around again to read through these posts — an average of 10 per day for all those days. And — as I've said every year on January 14th — I've written every single day. Never one day without writing. And I'm still going on the intrinsic joy of writing. It's incredibly rewarding to have readers.

It's been great being a law professor for the last 32.5 years. There are many rewards as well as challenges working with colleagues and students, but there is always the element of coercion. You must do your job — obligations continually arise — and the people you interact with are stuck with you. They may like some of it, but they won't like all of it. And there's always a mystery about where the line is between love and tolerance and between tolerance and loathing.

I've withdrawn into the purely voluntary world of blogging. January 12th, the last day of Fall semester and my birthday, was my last day at work. We will see what happens to the blog now with my new dosage of time and freedom. I'm curious to see! I not only have more time and freedom, I have the curiosity to see how the new time and freedom will affect the writing here.

If you don't give a damn, fine! I am weary of inflicting myself on people who may not continually consent to listening to me. I don't like imposing on anyone, and it's not my favorite thing to consume words for which I do not feel an ongoing hunger. How much Supreme Court prose must I drag my eyes across without even the hope of getting to a Scalia opinion? 32.5 years of obligation to slog — 32.5 years of slogligation — is enough.

We're about to get our low-attention-span President, and I will indulge my low-attention-span reading propensities. We will see what happens. So far what has happened, doing only what I love here, is 13 years of 10-post-a-day blogging without a single day's break. It's not as though I'm doggedly plugging away here trying to keep a record going. It's only blogging if it runs on intrinsic reward.

The heart is still beating, and it's one more morning on Althouse. Or as it was for just that first day, Marginalia.

January 13, 2017

Nancy Pelosi: "Defunding Planned Parenthood — that's a manhood thing, you know."

Seen on CNN this evening.

I was struck by the wild hand gesture and the consequent sound of rattling jewelry. It was only when we rewound to grab the video that we heard her "manhood thing" insult.

"Critics of those designers who’ve voiced their reluctance to dress the new first lady have maintained that it’s a designer’s job to simply make clothes..."

"... that they should keep personal opinions out of it and not pass judgment on people who wear their clothes. But over time, society has demanded much more from the fashion industry. It expects Seventh Avenue to be cognizant of its impact on young women predisposed to eating disorders. It rallied against the industry’s lack of diversity. It has pressured the industry to concern itself with the labor practices of its subcontractors and to create clothes that empower women instead of objectify them. Society expects fashion to be philanthropic and awake to the world in which it exists. So doesn’t taking a stand on a new administration and its policies — in the most direct manner possible — fall into that category?"

Writes Robin Givhan in The Washington Post.

She makes a good argument, but I don't know whom she is arguing against. Who says "it’s a designer’s job to simply make clothes"? Is that a straw man?

Fashion is an medium of expression. Of course, designers have the freedom to choose not to attach their works to persons they don't want to be associated with. I don't think we're talking Melania and Ivanka attempting to buy something off the rack in a store. It's a more active relationship, expressive of endorsement. The designers can choose to sit that out. It's a bit sad if designers feel pressured to avoid association with the Trump family out of fear of boycotts and other retaliations. But when something is sad — in Trump times — we just say "Sad!" and move on to other things that work out better.

"To borrow from Woody Allen’s distinction between the miserable (something we all are) and the horrible (fortunately suffered by only a few)..."

"... we must now distinguish resolutely between the sickening and the terrifying. Many programs and policies with which progressive-minded people passionately disagree will be put forward over the next few years. However much or strongly one opposes them, they are, like it or not, the actual agreed-on platform of a dominant national party... One may oppose these things—and one should, passionately and permanently—but they are in no sense illegitimate.... Calm but consistent opposition shared by a broad front of committed and constitutionally-minded protesters—it’s easy to say, fiendishly hard to do, and necessary to accomplish if we are to save the beautiful music of American democracy."

From Adam Gopnik's most recent meditation on the coming Trump presidency.

That's in The New Yorker, which just came out with this cover for the inauguration week issue:

Paul Anka takes the highway.

It won't be "My Way."

Who got to him?