Seriously, I’m trying to make sure I’m reading this right. Is John Boehner being forced out of Congress for not shutting the government down enough? Because I would have thought — and bear with me here — that keeping the governing actually happening is one of the things one might like in one’s elected representatives.

I am stunned to find myself actually feeling kinda bad for the guy.

Two Things

One super-depressing (not least for how close to home it hits):

Imagine a small, developing country of perhaps 3 million people. Like many other small developing countries, our imaginary nation is rich in natural resources, its economy has prospered on the export of agricultural crops and benefited from the revenue generated by petroleum production, refining, and support services. Its history, like some of its counterparts in the developing world, reflects a constant structural economic weakness covered by a colorful culture, truly creative and charming people, and an often dramatic sequence of past events. Civil wars, civilian uprisings, and the failure to compete with more dynamic and successful nations have left our country with a small, wealthy, interbred, and interconnected elite, a growing entrepreneurial middle class, and a large much less prosperous population of rural residents and urban poor.

Riven by cultural conflicts generations old and struggling with an archaic political system, the country periodically falls into the hands of populist demagogues and petty tyrants. In between, often when prosperity strikes, the country’s significant group of responsible leaders seeks to enhance legal and institutional structures to improve its ability to attract and retain internationally competitive economic enterprises, but the periods of responsible leadership fade fast, and the nation reverts to a pattern of clientele government, backroom deals, and populist rhetoric.

Over all, its population remains significantly less educated relative to its peers in nearby nations, although a structure of incentives and subsidies support good education for the children of the growing middle class and the political and economic elite. Other groups of citizens struggle through underfunded and inadequate schools, and those who survive often find themselves excluded from post-secondary opportunities by weak academic preparation and high cost….

One which gives me hope:

We believe in the power of the Internet to foster innovation, research, and education. Requiring the published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted on the Internet in human and machine readable form would provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research. Expanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our investment in scientific research…

Go sign onto the latter. And if you live in the “small, developing country” of the former, speak up, and prevent the populist demagogues and petty tyrants from undoing the programs and services its people deserve.



Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result,see FF 64-66; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment without bond in favor of plaintiffs and plaintiff-intervenors and against defendants and defendant-intervenors pursuant to FRCP 58.


Dr. George Tiller, RIP

Thankfully, other folks are doing a much better job of responding to this horror than I can right now, so I’ll just direct you their way, except to say a quiet thank you for a life of extraordinary courage, and a small prayer of hope that this act of terrorism might be recognized for what it is.

[Update, 2.29 pm: Holy effing crap. This is what I’m talking about: “[Randall] Terry said he was now concerned that the Obama administration ‘will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions.'” Am I wrong in interpreting “our most effective rhetoric and actions” as acts specifically designed to terrorize?]


It’ll no doubt shock everyone to hear that I’ve been starkly unproductive today. Weirdly unable to focus. Distracted. Nervous.

The good news is that I had errands to run, which allowed me to feel like I was accomplishing something, and a big stack of files to start sorting through.

And there was that voting thing. I decided to wait until after the polls had been open for an hour, hoping that the early birds would have worked through the system by that point. And I was mostly right, though there was still a 20 minute wait when I arrived, a wait easily four times longer than it’s ever been for me at this particular polling station. No problems at all once I got in; the poll workers were helpful and friendly, and the whole thing seemed to be working like it should. The line, though, was a little longer as I left than it was when I arrived.

Of course it was nowhere near as annoying as my trip to the doctor today, where I was taken into an exam room just a few minutes after my appointment time and then left sitting on a table, wearing a paper sheet, for 45 minutes before the doctor came in.

In my fantasy world, at least, the outcome of the former event might help fix the latter. So cross your fingers, folks.

Now I’m going to pretend to get some grading done, while calculating how long I have to wait before it’s reasonable to turn on the television.


I’m utterly flabbergasted by this story, from the afternoon update of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

MIT Student Sporting Circuit-Board Artwork Is Arrested in Airport Bomb Scare

Police officers arrested an MIT student at gunpoint this morning when they thought she was carrying a bomb into Logan International Airport, The Boston Globe reported.

The student, 19-year-old Star Simpson, walked into the airport at 8 a.m. with a circuit board affixed to the front of her sweatshirt. The circuit board displayed green LED lights and trailed wires running to a 9-volt battery. When an airport employee asked her about it, she did not respond, the Globe said. Police officers wielding machine guns quickly surrounded her. They determined that her prop was harmless, but arrested her for possessing a hoax device and for disturbing the peace.

The back of Ms. Simpson’s sweatshirt said, in gold handwritten letters, “socket to me” and “Course VI,” the nickname for the program in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, the Globe reported. She told the police that her garment was an art project.

“I’m an inventor, artist, engineer, and student,” Ms. Simpson says on her MIT Web site. “I love to build things, and I love crazy ideas.”

Law-enforcement authorities weren’t too crazy about her latest idea. “I’m shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport,” Maj. Scott Pare of the Massachusetts State Police told the Globe. “Thankfully because she followed our instructions,” he said, “she ended up in our cell instead of a morgue.” –Sara Lipka

Thankfully? My assumption is that Ms. Simpson is the one who is meant, in this statement, to be thankful, displaying an appropriate level of gratitude for not having been shot for wearing a sweatshirt with flashing lights on it. Let’s leave aside, for the moment, the question of whether a battery-operated sweatshirt constitutes a “hoax device,” and therefore whether Ms. Simpson should have ended up in that cell at all (though I’m compelled to ask whether my grandmother would be arrested for disturbing the peace if she attempted to enter Logan Airport while wearing her Christmas sweatshirt on which Rudolph’s nose blinks). What I really want to know is in what universe would an actual bomb-carrying terrorist go through airport security with a prominently displayed, flashing-lighted circuit board attached to his or her chest?

That this story exists at all seems to me prima facie evidence that “they hate us for our freedom” is cynical, disingenuous nonsense. Perhaps they, whoever they are, hate us because our state apparatus is willing to shoot its own citizens for wearing a piece of blinking circuitry, which, if you ask me, is pretty much the opposite of freedom, thanks.


I’m quite behind the times on this (appropriate for mon ?┬ętat, quand je souffre du d?┬ęcalage horaire), but the talk of the lefty blogosphere a couple of weeks ago was the much that was being made of W’s having been spotted drinking what his advisors insisted was a non-alcoholic beer (and, of course, the Beeb’s somewhat tickled connection of that beverage to the “stomach bug” that apparently knocked him out of commission the next day. One might also note the gleeful reminder of H.W.’s stomachal gift to the prime minister of Japan back in 1992).

Here, however, what’s being circulated with equal schadenfreude is the video of an apparently drunken Nicolas Sarkozy in a G8 press conference. His advisors insist that Sarko never drinks, and that he simply wasn’t used to the long hours and late nights of negotiating, and that lack of sleep produced his wooziness. It’s hard, however, to imagine a late night with Vladimir Putin that could conceivably end in sobriety.

On the other hand, if I’d been asked to give a morning press conference yesterday, I might have looked much the same. Today, after a full night of sleep (though one admittedly produced with a bit of prescribed assistance), I’d be a little more on my game.

The Morning After

(cross-posted from making MediaCommons)

No doubt like many of you, I spent much of my evening last night glued to my television set, flipping between CNN and the networks, trying to keep apprised of developments in the election as best I could. I also kept my laptop nearby, in order to keep an eye my favorite political media blogs (such as Crooks and Liars), in order to get a sense not just of their reaction to the events, but of their reaction to the coverage of the events.

I’m a bit dazed by it all as yet, and what thoughts I have are obviously pretty unprocessed. But I’m interested this morning in the impact that the internet has clearly had on the outcome of this election. This is nothing terrifically new; the last few election cycles have all been affected by the presence of the blogosphere. What’s new, for me, is the circulation and discussion of political ads via the network. Ads that were once tied to local or regional television markets — unless something went very wrong, and they got picked up by the network news departments — have suddenly become visible across the country, via YouTube and other video-sharing systems. Of the ten best political ads of this season (according to Salon’s Video Dog), most, like Michael J. Fox’s ad for Missouri senator-elect Claire McCaskill, which took top honors, came to the attention of a much wider audience through their wide online distribution and discussion.

One of the truisms of recent political life has held that “all politics are local”; I’ve got to wonder whether this will continue to be so in an age in which media products are so widely dispersed — and, even more, in an age in which those who consume such products are able to respond.