“Language Related Efforts to Help Out in Haiti”

A post at Language Log.

Cindy McCain in Favor of Recognizing Homosexuals as People


Sane Mrs. McCain

The Nation, 8 February 2010

I had never heard of Alice Guy Blaché before I saw a review in this issue of a biography of her;  that turns out to have been a severe gap in my knowledge of the early history of cinema. 

An editorial calls for forgiving the foreign debt that has done so much to harm Haiti over the years; a short essay by Amy Wilentz decries the “genteel racism” of many who have shown disdain for that nation; and Calvin Trillin’s doggerel verse expresses disgust at a couple of idiots who said ugly things in the aftermath of the earthquake. 

An editorial about the election of Senator Naked (R-Massachusetts) reminded me of some info I owe to blogger Maggie Jochild.  Maggie quotes a mass email from Democracy for America:

Last night, Democrats lost Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in a bitter special election. This is already a sad day for all of us who loved Ted Kennedy. But to make it even worse, conservative Democrats and Washington talking heads are claiming that the loss happened because Congress was “too far to the left.”

They’re wrong again — and we can prove it.

We had Research 2000 poll voters immediately after the Election ended: Even Scott Brown voters want Democrats to be bolder and they want healthcare reform that includes a public option.

You read that right. By a margin of three-to-two, former Obama voters who voted for Republican Scott Brown yesterday said the Senate healthcare bill “doesn’t go far enough.” Six-to-one Obama voters who stayed home agreed. And to top it off, 80% of all voters still want the choice of a public option in the bill.

The message is clear, there is only one way out of this mess if Democrats want to win in 2010. It’s time to pass healthcare with 51 votes in the Senate using the budget reconciliation process. And it must include the most popular piece of bold reform: the choice of a public option.

Jo Ann Wypiewski reminds us of one reason why Senator Naked’s election is not entirely bad news; his opponent did make her name by hounding innocent people into prison.

The return of Ukulele Hunt

After his long and well-earned Christmas vacation, Al Wood has resumed Ukulele Hunt, the web’s best site, with a terrific set of links.

Cicero would have been great on Twitter

 That’s what Forbes magazine says, anyway.

Gametime for Hitler

Don "Moose" Lewis

I suppose everyone has heard of The Producers, the 1968 Mel Brooks movie, the Broadway musical based on it, and the 2005 movie based on the Broadway musical.  Max Bialystock makes a living sweet-talks lonely old ladies into investing in plays that never succeed; his new partner, Leo Bloom, points out that if each “investor” bought a share of the profits, the producers could make a fortune by putting on a play that did not earn profits.  They get hold of the script they deem least likely to attract an audience, a musical called Springtime for Hitler, and sell several hundred percent of the profits to Max’s marks.  To their horror, the play does attracts an audience.  New York theater-goers decide it’s a satire, and that it’s hilarious.  It become a runaway hit.   Faced with profits they have already oversold, Bialystock and Bloom end up in jail. 

Where Bialystock and Bloom made their mistake was in actually producing the play.  Introduce the ticket-buying public to the equation, and you can never be certain how it will turn out.  A man named Don “Moose” Lewis has found a way around this problem. 

The day before the national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr, Lewis and his associates announced that they were starting a new professional basketball league, the All-American Basketball Association.  The All-American Basketball Association will be open only to players who are “natural born American citizens with both parents of Caucasian race.”  Asked where the proposed league will play its games, Lewis has said that “he hopes to find kindred spirits at private white-flight academies that are prevalent across the southern regions,” according to the Augusta, Georgia Chronicle

To me, this last remark is the surest proof that Lewis is another Max Bialystock.  White-flight academies are sitting ducks for anti-discrimination lawsuits, and they know it.  The last thing any of them would do is to make an overt public statement like the one implied in renting a venue to the “All-American Basketball Association.”  Since they know they won’t have to worry about distributing any revenue, Lewis and his confederates can recruit capital from as many people as they can find who are deranged by a powerful love of basketball, an even more powerful hatred of black people, and a weak sense of business.  When the league fails to get off the ground, their subscribers are less likely to demand their money back than they are to hold Lewis and his fellows up as martyrs to their anti-black cause.

Colin Newman; The Residents; Vinnie-P

Some connections

How do you pronounce "deeaaaaaaad"?

“Gay Teen Worried He Might be Christian” [The Onion, via Roger Hollander]

Cliff Clavin’s role in the Massachusetts Senate race; or, hold it right there, Doy-enne- it’s a little known fact that some of America’s greatest senators have been naked guys

A novelty Periodic Table lists common uses for particular elements.  Included are such valuable services as being a component of radioactive waste.  Hey, that’s better than anything Senator Naked (R-Massachusetts) is likely to do.  [haha.nu]

Some of Max Fleischer’s early avant-garde animation [Liza Cowan]

Lucy Knisley remembers bottle-base sidewalks.  I remember them too, but Google doesn’t seem to, at least not under that name. 

Conan O’Brien’s Funniest Show [The New York Times, via Steve Sailer]

Left-wing college professors

From yesterday’s New York Times:

First paragraph:

The overwhelmingly liberal tilt of university professors has been explained by everything from outright bias to higher I.Q. scores. Now new research suggests that critics may have been asking the wrong question. Instead of looking at why most professors are liberal, they should ask why so many liberals — and so few conservatives — want to be professors.

Last paragraph:

To Mr. Gross, accusations by conservatives of bias and student brainwashing are self-defeating. “The irony is that the more conservatives complain about academia’s liberalism,” he said, “the more likely it’s going to remain a bastion of liberalism.”

As someone who’s spent the last 25 years on and around US college campuses, what strikes me about the political views of American professors is not their leftward tilt, but their fundamental unseriousness.  Their opinions are consistent only in their conformity to campus fashions.  So if a shop near the school starts selling Fair Trade coffee, it can count on good business from faculty who want to show their support for the rights of coffee growers in Latin America.  Meanwhile, graduate assistants who want to unionize will get a chilly reception from every quarter, and faculty members who express an interest in organizing their colleagues into unions and demanding the right of collective bargaining will invariably be branded as kooks and malcontents.  It’s simply impossible for me to listen to a left-wing rant from a colleague and not translate it into the right-wing rant that same colleague would be delivering in a setting where the fashions were reversed. 

Depressing as this conformism is, I wouldn’t really expect anything different.  The average tenure-track faculty member in the USA puts in something like 70 hours a week working at a job that involves little or no contact with the political system.  In the years between entering grad school and receiving tenure, an American academic walks a tightrope that might at any point send all of that work down the drain and him or her out to start a new career from scratch.  So it would be strange if a large percentage of US professors found time to form and voice their own, possibly unfashionable, political opinions.  Academics are much likelier to collect the reward of their labors if they reliably voice agreement with the prevailing opinions, perhaps vying with each other to be the one who expresses those opinions in the most memorable words. 


Jesus Guns


US military uses rifles marked with Bible codes.