Quote of the week

What we used to call “public spirit” has fallen into desuetude, says Francis W. Porretto:

Aristotle has told us that the path to virtue lies in the practice of virtue — that we become virtuous individuals by regularly performing virtuous acts. The inverse is true as well: When we cease to perform virtuous acts, whatever virtue we might have possessed drains away from disuse. Decade after decade of abstention from virtuous acts has drained us of nearly all the virtue our grandfathers and theirs would have recognized as quintessentially American. We all but uniformly leave the pursuit of lawbreakers to the uniformed police. The notion that charitable works should be taken out of the State’s demesne and returned to the sole province of individuals and voluntary institutions seems laughable to the overwhelmingly greater number of us. Few of us are even capable of criticizing public littering or rudeness. We’re all much too busy!

That suits the seekers of unbounded power just fine.

Which it would, since they have long sought to redefine virtue in their own corrupt image.

Comments (3)




With an eye toward Linsertion

Linsanity — the obsession with New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin — has even reached Dr Ruth Westheimer, who issued several tweets relevant to her own career path:

For those missing out on Lin-sation because of TW-MSG no-deal, I propose you do your own scoring while Knicks are playing.

What might a good Lin position be? Pick and roll, where you turn over while together so he starts out on top and you switch places.

Back door play? You can figure that one out.

Just remember there’s no 24 second clock in your bedroom so I don’t want you guys stopping and popping too quickly now.

[Insert "flagrant foul" joke here.]

And come to think of it, Liz Claman thinks the youngster’s Linovations will force an end to the ongoing Time Warner/Madison Square Garden impasse.

(Via Basketbawful, which also features Hitler’s response to the arrival of the Linfantry.)

Comments off




Ladies and gentlemen, your next Car Czar

Why is this person even breathing? (Never mind driving.)

Screen capture from Yahoo! Answers

The answers, at least, have been suitably rude.

Comments (17)




The view from Canterlot

Lauren Faust, who developed My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic for television, defends the colts and stallions in the audience:

In general, I am still inspired by Bronies. As a group, they have not succumbed to society’s pressure that young men must hold contempt for anything feminine no matter what.

Which, incidentally, isn’t the first time she’s done so.

I must point out here that MLP:FIM is now on TV Tropes, where I found this little blurb:

The Brony Commentaries recount the story of a college student who had the show so much on his mind that he began a paper with “Dear Princess Celestia,” not realizing it until after he’d turned it in. When the paper was graded, the professor’s comments began with “My faithful student.”

And as everyone knows, I’d much rather deal with Twilight Sparkle than with sparkly Twilight.

Comments (1)




Downsparkles galore

Laura sits through a Twilight film so you don’t have to:

The story is crap, the acting is crap, the special effects are crap, but I LOVE THEM. I really do. In this latest one emo Bella and Edward played by Robert Pattinson (my imaginary boyfriend) get married and Bella gets impregnated the first night and it grows really fast in her belly and she’s too weak and stupid and it’s quickly killing her and Jacob the werewolf is all pissy wanting to kill Edward, but he helps, because, well, he’s Jacob, and he is all sensitive and shit.

The Breaking Dawn novel, I note in passing, won the 2009 British Children’s Book of the Year award. I wonder how many of those British children covet the official Alfred Angelo Twilight Bridal Gown.

Comments (8)




This may explain much

Laurie Notaro goes to the post office:

I witnessed a lady trying to cram a pound of pistachios and a pound of corn nuts into one regular, letter-sized Priority Mail envelope. I couldn’t figure out where that lady could possibly be sending corn nuts where there aren’t corn nuts already, unless there was a corn-nut-less province that I was unaware of. And at two pounds in a Priority envelope, it was going to cost her more money to send corn nuts than the corn nuts cost in the first place (unless she was sending them to a prison, but even then, I’ll bet corn nuts are a staple in the vending machines). She ripped through three Priority envelopes before the man behind her pointed out that a box would be a better fit and there were several options eight inches away from her right foot at the center counter, which she was leaning on. She tossed the envelope aside and went in for a box, but her delight soon turned to unbridled horror when she attempted to close it. Immediately, she began to complain that the box, which was free, courtesy of the post office, was not equipped with “automatic tape,” which I think meant “adhesive strip” to those people who don’t buy corn nuts by the pound. I then saw two different women with the same unique bear-claw tattoo and a middle-aged woman with bangs cut from the middle of one ear to the middle of the next, who never closed her mouth the entire time she stood in line, which, by the way, was long enough to hatch an egg. From any species.

(From It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy, her 2011 collection. You can’t tell me that LeeAnn hasn’t seen these same people on a regular basis.)

Comments (9)




Galactic weirdness in Space City

The first-quarter score was alarming enough: Houston 29, Oklahoma City 13. That couldn’t stand for long, and it didn’t; it was 44-43 Rockets at the half, and the lead see-sawed most of the rest of the way. Four technicals were assessed. (Yes, Kendrick Perkins got one of them.) With 60 seconds left, the Thunder were up by one; with 24 seconds left, Kevin Martin sank two free throws to give Houston a one-point edge, and the Thunder came up empty on three (!) possessions. With 0.8 second left, Goran Dragić went to the line, sent up a pair of bricks, and that was it: Houston 96, OKC 95.

Telltale statistic: Royal Ivey, inserted into the lineup twice for a total of ten minutes, took no shots, committed one foul and reeled in one rebound. He was +10 for the night. In fact, all the OKC bench was on the positive side of the ledger, a place you’d find none of the starters — even Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 33.

Samuel Dalembert, meanwhile, seems to be blossoming in Houston: he scored only once, but he bagged 12 boards and blocked three shots. And the four other Rocket starters were in double figures — Martin’s last-minute freebies gave him 32 — though Houston, at 42.5 percent, didn’t shoot all that well. (OKC was hardly better, at 43.4, though the Thunder were plus-four on the glass.)

On the plane home, Scott Brooks will probably say “turnover” at least 21 times, one for each Thunder giveaway. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he made everyone run laps.

The Warriors will come to the ‘Peake Friday night, followed by the Nuggets on Sunday. Neither can be expected to lie down and die.

Comments off




In a fit of peek

Robert Stacy McCain, Voice of Fashion Moderation:

No one can responsibly disagree with Melissa’s argument against the super-short and super-tight party dresses which some Republican coeds seem to consider de rigueur for a night on the town. Also, the bare cleavage — c’mon, guys, testify for me here — makes it quite difficult to concentrate on anything else except the bare cleavage.

Nevertheless, while emphasizing my responsible agreement with Melissa’s argument, I also understand that not every girl who goes out clubbing in high heels and a skintight dress with a daring display of décolletage is a hussy, a floozy or a tramp.

Certainly Ann Coulter isn’t, and she’s dressed to kill, or at least maim, even to go to the post office.

Although (which I just typed “althigh,” which shows you where my mind is) it must be noted that Melissa Clouthier, in said argument, does refer to the process as “Jersey Shore-ification,” which is scary enough. And I can’t really argue with her closing premise:

If a woman is looking for a man, don’t act like a little girl, don’t dress provocatively and then be appalled when you’re propositioned, and have a couple standards for behavior — your own and his.

These sorts of things used to be taught. Now the rules and expectations are so blurred and confusing, there’s a certain amount of blithering hysteria involved in the Western mating ritual. Girls really have no concept of their own value and are shocked at being treated as a commodity.

And by “a certain amount,” I suspect she means “more than you ever thought possible.”

Comments (1)




Someone like her

No, actually, it’s really her. Sort of. Adele, photographed for Vogue:

Adele in 3/12 Vogue

Rather a lot of people are complaining that the cover was Photoshopped — Google News offered seven pages to this effect almost immediately upon the magazine’s appearance on newsstands — but this shot from elsewhere in the pictorial might be, um, more so.

I’m going to assume that this was done without her knowledge, and when she sees the pictures, she’s gonna hit the roof.

For comparison, here’s a shot from the Grammy Awards:

Adele at the Grammy Awards

You make the call.

Comments (10)




Mitt sounds off

Mitt Romney, in an op-ed in The Detroit News:

The Obama administration needs to act now to divest itself of its ownership position in GM. The shares need to be sold in a responsible fashion and the proceeds turned over to the nation’s taxpayers.

We should not be back on a road like the one that brought us Freddie Mac and the housing crisis. It is a road with endless hazards. It is not the American way of making cars.

The dream of the Motor City is and always has been one of ideas, innovation, enterprise, and opportunity. It started with Henry Ford and continued with visionaries like William Durant, Walter Chrysler, and the Dodge Brothers. These giants never envisioned a role for government in their business, but relied on the hard work and commitment of private individuals.

Two observations:

  • The President could respond to Romney’s call for divestiture by pointing out that GM shares have been tanking of late, and that selling off at this point would result in even greater losses to the taxpayers;
  • Willard is probably the only person ever associated with the auto industry who referred to Billy Durant as “William.”

And you’ll note that Romney’s choice of “visionaries” includes all three Detroit automakers, lest he appear to be playing favorites.

Comments (2)




Special weather statement

Motown, by and large, was not your one-stop shop for Really Depressing Records: as Smokey Robinson once said (albeit in an HDH composition), “I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying,” and even some downright mournful songs — think “7 Rooms of Gloom” — still have that Funk Brothers rhythmic kick.

Which is not to say that Motown couldn’t break your heart. Jimmy Ruffin came close with “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” about which I said many years ago:

Ruffin’s bad dream, if you take the lyrics at face value, is about nothing more than the consequences of a failed love affair: pretty horrible stuff, yes, but not enough to cause ongoing paralysis of the spirit. With some notable exceptions (can you say “Ophelia”?), most people survive this sort of thing.

The operative word here is “most.”

The Temptations did two really good songs on the subject of romantic desolation. “Since I Lost My Baby,” a Smokey confection, contains some excellent wordplay — “Fun is a bore / And with money I’m poor” — but our narrator is still, um, inclined to find her, which suggests hope, however faint.

That leaves the crown (of thorns) to “I Wish It Would Rain,” with a gorgeous Barrett Strong piano figure that telegraphs purest despair from the opening bar. The lyrics are by Roger Penzabene, based on a theme by Dee Clark: it’s not really tears you’re seeing. But while Clark is, for lack of a better term, generically sad, Penzabene’s words well up from the very depths of his soul. As it turns out, poor Roger was spinning out an autobiography: his wife had been unfaithful, yet he couldn’t let her go to save his life.

Norman Whitfield finished up the production in August 1967; Motown scheduled the release for the 30th of December. The next day — New Year’s Eve — Roger Penzabene killed himself. And in case you missed his point, the next Tempts single was called “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You),” and it contained Roger’s very last lyric. Motown itself demonstrated its own ability to miss the point by subsequently shoving both these songs into a superfluous compilation series called The Good-Feeling Music of the Big Chill Generation.

(Disclosure: This has been kicking around in the back of my head literally for months. It didn’t quite force itself to the foreground until yesterday, when the song came pouring into the car on the way home; but I was damned if I was going to post this on Valentine’s Day.)

Comments (2)




Bebopped

How big a blowout was this? Ryan Reid, who’s been toiling in the D-League, was not only on hand but active, and he got to play. Four whole minutes. Within that first minute he got off a 14-foot jumper, and it went. You want weirder than that? Kendrick Perkins had six assists, more than Russell Westbrook — but fewer than Reggie Jackson. Of course, if all you want is a W, you got it: 111-85, the widest margin of victory the Thunder have come up with all season.

The Jazz didn’t look tired, particularly, despite being on the trailing edge of a back-to-back-to-back. But of their first sixteen shots, exactly one went through the net, and you have to figure that this didn’t encourage them much. Al Jefferson did manage 15 points, but it took him 19 shots to get there. Utah was fairly effective on the offensive glass — 19 rebounds therefrom, including six by rookie center Enes Kanter — but second chances didn’t translate into second-chance points: the Jazz got off 13 more shots but came up with ten fewer makes.

And speaking of Reggie Jackson, the new kid on the point had a career-high eight assists in 24 minutes, at least partially because Westbrook was stuck on the sidelines with four fouls early in the third. (Nobody on the floor played more than 30.) The Thunder bench was good for 49 points, 22 of which were contributed by James Harden, one more than Kevin Durant. OKC shot a sterling 54.5 percent, holding Utah to less than 36. And you have to figure Serge Ibaka’s place at the top of this year’s shot blockers won’t be jeopardized: he swatted half a dozen tonight and still rolled up 16 points.

So now we know what this team can do with three days’ rest. Not that they’ll have that luxury again for a couple of weeks: tomorrow night the Thunder are in Houston; Friday they start a five-game home stand that contains two back-to-backs, finishing with the Lakers — and who doesn’t want to finish with the Lakers? — before the next demi-vacation.

Comments off




A tale of even more woe

The phrase “star-crossed lovers” dates back to Shakespeare, circa 1597; he applied it to Juliet and her Romeo, whose every action seemed somehow to be thwarted by forces beyond their control. Personally, I always thought that the fault, dear readers, was not in their stars, but in themselves, that they were underage; but your mileage may vary.

Anyway, “star-crossed,” over the centuries, seems to have lost whatever direness it had. Nancy Friedman cites several examples, including this one:

A Boston restaurant, Tryst, is running a Valentine’s Day promotion that includes “the romantic Star Crossed Lovers” cocktail, meant to be enjoyed by two smitten people.

Were the promoters true to the term’s origin, it would be the last drink the lovers ever take; but “the ingredients do not include a vial of poison.”

Then again, it’s a restaurant called “Tryst.” Who is their intended clientele? Me and Mrs Jones?

Comments off




Find me a find

Number One (chronologically) granddaughter addressed her father’s utter lack of Valentines on this day as follows:

Dad, when you get a girlfriend make sure she is nice, cute, smart, good with kids, rich, and her name should be Kristine.

Just remember: if you thought you were picky, you’ve got nothing on this almost-nine-year-old girl.

Comments (1)




Now with eukaryotes!

Most of what I know about makeup, which is not a whole lot, was derived from following up magazine pieces. The problem with this is that much of what you see is beyond the budget of mere mortals, but they know you’re still going to look. Jessica Stone Levy certainly does:

Those of us too busy with things like kid-shlepping to luxuriate at spas for the perfect glow find ourselves going the Target or Walgreen’s route. And a quick magazine immersion provided me with some new and interesting names.

One such name is “Algenist,” billed as “Biotechnology from San Francisco.” One presumes biotechnology from Des Moines would not be impressive. Jessica hasn’t tried the stuff, but she did try the name out for size:

Pro: Sounds like alchemist, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Con: Sounds like algae, and I don’t think I want that near my face.

I almost hate to tell her about the active ingredient therein:

Alguronic Acid is a group of complex polysaccharides, produced by specific strains of microalgae that function to protect and regenerate the microalgae cell. Algenist’s team developed a highly advanced process that allows us to grow microalgae and extract the highly functional Alguronic Acid compound.

So the name says it straight. And the compound in question was in fact discovered in San Francisco. You guys in Des Moines, try to keep up, okay?

Comments (1)




Picture me (or don’t)

There was a brief period when I was swapping out avatars on Twitter on what seemed to be a daily basis. The one I finally settled on is one I’d used earlier, with just a hint of — yes, I admit it — ‘shoppery.

Of course, what I look like doesn’t matter a whole lot. Get into the public eye, and suddenly it’s a Matter of Colossal Import. Here are three shots of author Virginia Postrel, a favorite in these parts, each intended for a different audience:

Three photos of Virginia Postrel

Her own discussion of the matter:

In real life, I look more or less like the photo on the left, which is a candid of me accepting the Bastiat Prize. (I’m well lit and well coiffed.) The middle photo is the one I use most of the time as my “official” portrait and is, except for reversing the hands, a characteristic post. (My hair no longer has those post-chemo curls.) The one on the right is my Bloomberg photo, for which I had professional hair and makeup and unknown amounts of retouching. But, most important, the photographer refused to let me smile. No “smirking Girls” at Bloomberg View! (For another contrast, check out Amity Shlaes at Bloomberg View, in a candid lecture shot, and on her own website.) The expression isn’t my resting or serious face either; it’s more attractive. So the picture looks like I’m an actress playing someone else — the same physiognomy but a different personality.

In the past, I have suggested that the ideal photo of me is one in which I do not actually appear, or in which I am generally unrecognizable. (“Who the hell is that?“) After a few hours of enduring a 1978 picture of myself, I decided to install The Bird (see sidebar) as the official Gravatar, which represents me fairly well without actually showing me. Then again, I’m not a particularly public person, and no one is going to ask me for an Official Photo anytime soon. (What, isn’t the passport shot good enough?) In the unlikely event that I become semi-famous, I reserve the right to modify this stance.

Comments off