December 11, 2004

Work habits.

George Carlin, as described in tomorrow's NYT:
Mr. Carlin is constantly scribbling notions down in a notebook or recording them on a small voice recorder, and he spends most of his time typing, organizing and reorganizing his ideas in a library of 2,300 files he keeps on his computer — raw material he may someday forge into actual jokes, monologues or material for his books. And as soon as he has recorded a new HBO routine, he begins cycling in fresh material, so that over the course of two years, his entire routine is replaced, and he's ready to record another.

"It's like a sock," Mr. Carlin said. "I darn the sock so much that none of the original material is left. It's the same sock — it's my show — but the old material is gone."

"I have no hobbies and I have no leisure activities," Mr. Carlin added. "My greatest joy is working at the computer with my ideas."

Replacing William Safire.

After New York Magazine ran a piece cataloguing the candidates to replace William Safire on the NYT op-ed page, Slate went looking for more daring ideas, one of which is Alex Kozinski, whom Slate calls "a world-class shit-stirrer." Well, they also call the judge a "practicing lawyer," so I can't trust their terminology. But I do think it's a cool idea.

Mainstream media.

Maybe there is always a theme to the first two posts of the day. There was yesterday. The theme was food, and I went on to restrict my posts yesterday to that theme. That would be a strange way to run a blog. Start with whatever strikes you that day for the first two posts, then derive a theme, then adhere to that theme for the day. I'm not saying I'm going to go on to run my blog that way, but I can easily see the theme for today from the last two posts, and, being a lawprof, I feel that I pretty much always could, if necessary, look at two things and find something they have in common.

Today's theme, then, would be mainstream media.

1. On that theme, I like this recent piece by Jonah Goldberg about the arrogance of mainstream media:
In the Middle Ages, aristocrats and clerics were protected by a panoply of rules and customs - sumptuary laws, for example - that separated them from the peons. Henry VIII declared that no man below the rank of earl could "wear cloth of gold or silver, or silk of purple color" in an effort to maintain a color-coding system for the lower classes.

Well, elite journalists may not want a color-coding system for the rabble, but they do seem keen on having special laws just for them.
2. Then there's the retirement of Bill Moyers, who goes out criticizing. MSM criticizing MSM, apparently from another planet:
"I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee," says Moyers. "We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."
3. Give credit to the many dedicated journalists who serve us. Fifty-four of them were killed this past year. Twenty-three of these were in Iraq -- mostly Iraqis, deliberately targeted for working with western media. The second most dangerous place for journalists: the Philippines. Here's a Philippine editorial (with a sad cartoon) discussing the problem:
[W]hile journalists in other countries are jailed, or are subject to harsh censorship and media laws, media practitioners in the Philippines are paying an even greater -- indeed, the ultimate -- price: They are being murdered with impunity.
4. Janet Museveni, the first lady of Uganda urges journalists to report the good news: "Do not bring Uganda down in the eyes of the world. We are a country on this globe that is so blessed. Show what is beautiful and not just kids with big tummies and brown hair." (Loss of hair pigmentation is a symptom of malnutrition.)

Eyewitness accounts.

The NYT prints website firsthand accounts of the Dimebag Darrell Abbott murder:
Soon after the shooting, eyewitnesses posted their accounts. "Oh, my God," one reported on Metal-Sludge.com. "I'm shaking so bad I can hardly type this. I went to see Damageplan tonight at the Alrosa Villa here in Columbus. And I'm afraid I may be the bearer of some VERY TRAGIC news. Less than a minute into Damageplan's set, some guy ran onstage, grabbed Dimebag and just started pumping shots into him!!!"

Metal-Rules.com picked up a post from Australia that included another firsthand account: "I saw the guy jump out of the crowd onto the stage. He was yelling something about how 'you broke up Pantera! You ruined my life!' The whole time I thought it was part of the show. I had blood on me I was so close. I'm still freakin' out here."

We're used to non-mainstream media piecing together posts by grabbing choice quotes from mainstream media. This is the man-bites-dog reverse phenomenon. The Times article goes on to portray the reaction of of Abbott's fans through website quotes:
One Dimebag fan promised he would be visiting a grave soon - not that of Dimebag, but of his killer. The reason? To urinate on his headstone and defecate on the grass near his head. "I bet I won't be the first person there," he predicted. Another fan intimated that Mr. Gale's mother should have tried oral sex instead of intercourse.

I wouldn't have printed that here, except it was in the New York Times, so it had to be "fit to print."

"Public" wireless internet in Madison?

The Capital Times reports:
Wireless Internet could be available in downtown Madison and at the Dane County Regional Airport by this spring, said mayoral spokesman George Twigg.

The state Department of Administration is putting out a request for proposals today seeking vendors interested in building the network...

But how "public" is it?
[I]t is expected that the chosen vendor, not taxpayers, would pay for installation of the network and then recapture the cost through user fees.

Twigg said some access to basic sites on the Internet might be free, but anything beyond that would incur a charge.

But, he added, "It is our hope that it will be less expensive than Internet access fees from other commercial vendors."

Twigg said the city is trying to strike a balance between imposing user fees and building the cost of using the network onto the property tax.

Well, it sounds like wireless internet, but it doesn't sound all that public. One vendor is going to get the deal for the whole city, and we're all left paying user fees forever? And who's going to decide which are the "basic sites" that you don't have to pay for? Since millions of non-basic sites are offered for free, why is the provider collecting a fee on these? Is this the way for mainstream media to recapture its dominance?

Should we want "public" wireless internet in this form or should we be quite actively opposed to it? Seriously, email me. Is this good or bad?

UPDATE: Here's the Wisconsin State Journal's article today on the subject, suggesting that the only the local government sites would be free. Which is basically saying, nothing is going to be free. Actually, that's better than letting only some MSM through. I could support this project I think if only the fees are kept very low. It should be cheap and easy so that students and short-term visitors will participate.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The WiFi in Milwaukee is really free, an emailer writes. Several people have written to express suspicion of the proposed deal between the city and an individual provider.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: An emailer writes that the plan is bad:
Sounds to me like the "cable TV licensing" model applied to wireless networking (with the free access to government web sites being equivalent to the "community access" channels). City picks exclusive vendor, gets cut of revenue (either now or eventually), other vendors are restricted (either now or eventually). Doesn't sound promising.

December 10, 2004

More food.

1. There's Carnival of the Recipes.

2. I finally got around to finishing watching Super Size Me, which I never liked very much. I thought the central character was smug and annoying. I'm sure he was massively disappointed that his final blood tests showed an improvement, which he admits before quickly moving on. The movie was a strange mix of interest in science and the complete flouting of science. But forget science: isn't the movie funny? If you begin with hostility to the fast food industry, you probably find lots of laughs. But what if you begin with antagonism to sanctimonious health nannies?

3. Do we live in a "toxic food environment"? And should the government clean it up? Here's a nice article on the subject.

4. More amusing: Nina is blogging from Poland this week, and today's posts include kielbasa. She writes: "Each nation defends its sausage. The Germans stand by their bratwurst, the Italians love their pepperoni, the Poles cling to their kielbasa." The American sausage is the hot dog, but here in Wisconsin, we have our brats.

Food Blog Awards.

In keeping with today's food theme, let me call attention to the new Food Blog Awards. Nominations are currently open. Are there a lot of blogs that are just or mostly about food? Presumably so. I don't think I'd want to write a single-issue blog. But doing that last post, I figured out some easy techniques for scaring up links for a limited topic that could easily be followed on a daily basis. I mean easy if you really had an abiding, passionate interest in one topic. I think it's fun to have a topic of the day, but not a topic of the blog!

Is today's theme food?

So far, the theme for today's seems to be food, a humble little theme that just accidentally seems to have established itself, so let's continue with it.

1. The big food story of the day is that the astronauts are running out of food on the International Space Station. The astronauts have to cut back, but don't worry too much about them: they are cutting back from 3,000 calories a day to 2,700. It is a little troublesome though because "[s]pace station meals come in individual packages that cannot be separated into smaller portions and saved for later." You can only cut back by skipping whole meals.

2. Starbucks is adding some more substantial food items. Instead of just cookies and cakes, there will be some sandwiches. That's an excellent idea. Our independent cafés here in Madison usually have some nice sandwiches and sometimes soups. I like these places for lunch because they are comfortable when you're eating alone and want to read or work on your laptop. But if Starbucks is just going to have wrapped, cold sandwiches, it won't be that great. The cafés I like here in Madison give their pre-made sandwiches the panini grill treatment. It makes a big difference. [UPDATE: I note that the Starbucks plan is to somehow heat the pre-packaged sandwiches.]

3. Here's a report about a dog food cookbook. "The idea was that if I were a dog, what would I want to eat?" No, the idea is: If I had a life, what would I want to do with it?

4. Here's my favorite sentence in an article about a book-signing appearance by cookbook writer Ruth Reichl: "Christ has been reading Reichl for years, going back to when Christ used to run 'a little gourmet food store' in Rhinebeck, N.Y." In search of new loaves and fishes recipes, no doubt.

5. Here's a report of a scientific study I'm pretty skeptical about: "Dieting Moms Likely To Have Lesbian Babies."

6. Speaking of dieting and scientific studies, this suggests it's best not to get liposuctioned. You'll just get fat all over again unless you diet.

7. My favorite food that seems as if it should just be for kids is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But what is the history of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It's all about World War II. And here's the FDA taking itself and the PB&J very seriously: "The peanut butter and jelly sandwich, itself a staple in American life, will enter the twenty first century as a living history lesson on the importance of regulating, but not over-regulating a wide variety of foodstuffs in a dynamic marketplace."

8. If you get tired of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you can do the Elvis variation (no jelly, nanner).

9. And if there are no nanners handy, surely you have some Fluff and can make a fluffernutter. Please go here and click on the "Fluffernutter theme." Here's the history of Fluff, which begins with two WWI veterans returning from France and giving their product the Frenchy name "Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff."

Having reached the point of blogging about complete fluff, I'll stop.

UPDATE: Looks like Drudge is stealing my food theme with:
Man Charged With Sandwich Rage in Houston...

Inmate charged with assault with pork chop...

Why I love business.

My UW parking spot is in Grainger Hall, which is the Business School. Every day I ride up the elevator and enter the beautiful lobby and... what's that smell? Someone is baking yummy cinnamon buns... People selling houses often make a point of baking cinnamon buns when prospective buyers are tromping through. The idea is to reach deeply into their emotional minds and make them feel soft, cushy feelings of home and motherly love. Is that the devious scheme of the Business School? Or is it the simple consequence of the snack bar on the ground floor? We have a little snack bar on the ground floor of the Law School, but I never smell anything even when I walk right by it. There's certainly no smell pervading the entire atrium. How do we expect to instill love for the law without some nice, homey aromas?

Truffle story.

The NYT reports:
It was one of the most expensive truffles in the world, costing a group of regulars at the London restaurant Zafferano - said to include Gwyneth Paltrow - $53,000 dollars at a charity auction last month. But it met its end before anyone had even a taste of it, undone by its allure. The purchase of the 30-ounce white truffle, unearthed in Tuscany, caused so much excitement the restaurant put it on display, for five days. Then the chef went on vacation, locking the truffle in the fridge, and taking the keys with him. When he returned after four days, he found it had rotted. It was buried near a tree and "died a very happy truffle, back in the ground, unsliced," the restaurant's owner said.
This sounds like a fable. It should have a moral. Any ideas? Email me. If I get some good ones, I'll do an update.

UPDATE: The "virgin, unsliced" truffle has inspired a poem parody: "Fungus had we enough, and time,/Chilliness, chef, would be no crime."

December 9, 2004

Blogging and physics!

The best email of the day comes from UW Physics professor Clint Sprott:
I enjoyed reading the article in today's Wisconsin State Journal about blogs... I would like to invite you to give a talk on that or a related topic of your choosing at the interdisciplinary Chaos and Complex Systems Seminar next spring. We are especially interested in the dynamical and self-organizing aspects of this phenomenon, but just to hear about your experiences and impressions would be very enlightening.

You know, I'm interested in the the dynamical and self-organizing aspects of this phenomenon as well. How cool!

Check out Sprott's fractal gallery! I love the fractal background music!

The death of Darrell Abbott.

I wrote earlier today about the murder of former Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. I see in the BBC report that some people in the audience heard the murderer accuse Abbott of breaking up Pantera. Police shot the murderer, Nathan Gale, to death, so maybe we'll never know why he did it.

My post brought an email from a reader who wrote: "I was amused to see you had been to a NIN concert and now a Pantera concert as well? I shall never cease to be amazed." Well, it's less amazing than you may think. I have two sons, one born in 1981, and the other born in 1983. What music do you think they listened too? When they were in their early teens, I was happy to drive them to concerts, and I didn't just drop them off. I stayed for the show! As a result, I saw quite a few great concerts that I would never have gone to on my own. Nine Inch Nails (with an opening act of Marilyn Manson) was probably the best one I saw in those days. Sonic Youth, Green Day, and Smashing Pumpkins were the closest to something I would have been interested in on my own. Pantera was beyond the limit of what I really wanted to hear, but they were undeniably great at what they were doing, and I admired the intense commitment to that extreme form of music. I enjoyed watching the show, including the crowd of kids who just loved them, but I was watching as more of an objective outsider. The opening act was beyond what I could enjoy on any level, the only band of the many I saw in those days that I can honestly say I hated: Type O Negative. And I'm sure if any of my readers are Type O Negative fans, they don't want people like me to enjoy their band anyway.

But my son John called today and said he saw my post about Darrell Abbott. [UPDATE: The next sentence is wrong.] He said I should have said in my post that half of Pantera died: Abbott's brother, Vinnie Paul, was also murdered. [UPDATE: No, Vinnie was not among those who were murdered. Sorry for the misreporting, though it's clearly good news. I'll leave the tribute to Vinnie that follows.] Vinnie was the drummer, and he was, John tells me, a truly great drummer, who wrote the Pantera songs with his brother. The two musicians had a great style, a brilliant way of playing together in lockstep, John tells me. He says the drumbeats were so distinctive that by thinking the drumbeat, you think the song, just as normally when you think the vocal melody, you think the song. Vinnie's drumming was not just the background, John says. It was the song.

John also informs me that Darrell Abbott was not just "a" guitarist in Pantera. He was the guitarist. He says that most bands who have only one guitarist have trouble when they play concerts, because in making their records, the guitarist has recorded a continuous rhythm track and then made a separate track for the solo parts. As a result, when the band plays in concert, it seems that a second guitarist is needed to keep up the rhythm track, so it won't sound empty during the solos. But in a rock band, John says, once you have people on the stage they have to play all the time, so adding an extra guitarist can be a problem. If you just have that one guitarist, it's going to sound awkward when he switches from playing the rhythm part to doing the solo and it's going to sound too thin. What was distinctive about Abbott, John says, is that he played in concert as the sole guitarist and it sounded full the whole time and there was no awkward shift from rhythm to solo. He says that in the Pantera recordings you can hear that the rhythm guitar track does not extend under the solos. So what Abbott did on the record, he could also do single-handedly in concert. It was brilliant!

Go up in my room and get the CD of "Vulgar Display of Power," John says, and listen to the third track, "Walk." You can really hear it in that song. I do. I listen to "Walk," and I listen to "This Love." "Vulgar Display of Power" is their best album, John assures me. I've put an Amazon button for it in the sidebar, and you can hear short clips of both of those songs over there. [UPDATE: Button replaced by hot link.]

Very sad!

UPDATE: Title of the post changed to reflect the correction in the third paragraph.

ANOTHER UPDATE: MTV has a detailed article about Abbott and lots of video clips.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Interesting discussion at Metafilter. Someone wonders whether anyone has ever been murdered on stage like this before. There's a link to a Snopes page listing many performers who've had fatal heart attacks and the like on stage, but none who were murdered.

STILL MORE: An emailer notes that the great jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan was murdered on stage (by his wife).

Household minutiae.

It's a gray day here in Madison, but the temperature is 46 degrees. At this time of year, it would not be surprising for it to be 50 degrees colder. I drove home after my morning office hours to meet the plumber who should be showing up at any minute to fix a shower that's been dripping for a long time. Shower dripping is especially noisy because of the long distance of the drop. I hear the splat all the way downstairs in the dining room, my favorite place to work. I don't like to call in the plumber to fix just one thing. (Cf. this post, explaining how I don't like to buy only one item.) But yesterday the shower drip rate crossed the line where waiting for some other plumbing problem to occur no longer made sense, so today is plumbing day. It's also the day to get my Civil Procedure exam written, I think, as I get out of the car and walk toward the house. But I get a little distracted and stop to photograph three things on the way from the car to my front door.

Here's a bird's nest, revealed when the leaves fell from my redbud tree. I'm going to guess it's a cardinal's nest, because I often saw a cardinal couple fooling around in the tree and because it seems fitting for red birds to go for redbuds.

Image-9F702E384A1711D9

And here's a second newly revealed bird's nest. It's in my neighbor's hedge:

Image-9F708AAA4A1711D9

Next to the hedge on the other side of my front yard is this pumpkin belonging to my other neighbors. My guess is that the pumpkin does not represent a failure to put out the trash, but a beneficent gesture toward the squirrels and raccoons. Eat your vegetable! Have some vitamin A! Note the gnaw marks.

Image-9F70AF924A1711D9

UPDATE: The plumber had to do a makeshift repair. The shower handle is 80 years old, and you can't buy replacement parts. To replace the handle altogether would entail an elaborate reconfiguration of the pipe work, which would be better done when I undertake the much-needed restoration of the bathroom. Having just survived the carpentry work shoring up the back of my house and the receipt of the $15,000 bill for that work, I'm not ready to do the bathroom just yet. I wonder if the plumber found the ancient fixture interesting to figure out. I've had electricians work on my house and comment on how unusual some old switch or outlet is. I like to think they find it relatively amusing to deal with these "This Old House" problems.

Metal Massacre.

How sad to read of the death of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and others who were gunned down last night in Columbus, Ohio. Abbott, who was playing last night with his new band Damageplan, was once a guitarist for the great metal band Pantera. Though not a fan of heavy metal music, I happened to see Pantera in concert once, and the musicianship was brilliant.

Man's Life, Man's Exploits, Real Men.

Lurid men's adventure magazines from the 1950s are the subject of a new book, reviewed in today's NYT. Don't miss the glorious, hilarious covers. I love the one of the manly guy saving a curvaceous lady from turtles.

A classic showdown between lawyer and judge.

Adam Liptak reports on the argument before a D.C. Circuit panel about whether journalists have a privilege to protect their sources. Judge David Sentelle addresses famed First Amendment advocate Floyd Abrams:
"I take it you do not have a material difference between this case and Branzburg," Judge Sentelle finally said, "or you would have given me an answer on the first, third, fourth or fifth opportunities you had."

A classic showdown between lawyer and judge. The precedents are powerful, but some things you still want to fight to the hilt.

UPDATE: I named the wrong circuit court and have correct it.

Deliberating speed.

Gay rights groups deliberate about the speed of their own movement, John M. Broder writes in today's NYT:
The leadership of the Human Rights Campaign, at a meeting last weekend in Las Vegas, concluded that the group must bow to political reality and moderate its message and its goals. One official said the group would consider supporting President Bush's efforts to privatize Social Security partly in exchange for the right of gay partners to receive benefits under the program.

"The feeling this weekend in Las Vegas was that we had to get beyond the political and return to the personal," said Michael Berman, a Democratic lobbyist and consultant who was elected the first non-gay co-chairman of the Human Rights Campaign's board last week. "We need to reintroduce ourselves to America with the stories of our lives."
These are tough choices. I remember opposition to civil rights legislation in the 1960s that was based on the idea that "you can't legislate morality." The argument was that you have to change people's hearts and not force change on them. In retrospect, that seems like a completely inadequate reason to oppose the legislation. But there is a tipping point, where enough people agree with you and those who disagree look like laggards who deserve to be pushed up to speed. What was learned in the last election and what has motivated the Human Rights Campaign to moderate their strategy is that not enough people do agree with them yet.

As the article notes, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force disagrees with this new moderation. Its executive director Matt Foreman says:
"A lot of gay people understand the concept of bullies. The worst thing you can do with a bully is not fight back because you'll only get hit harder the next day."

The passion behind that statement is understandable. But I'm sure people who oppose gay marriage also feel that they are being bullied, and it's hard to see the political sense of ratcheting up the hostilities. Notably, Representatives Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin are supporting the more pragmatic, moderate approach.

"This weird window into the mind of the professor."

The lawprof blog, described by a law student blogger, in this Wisconsin State Journal article. Some quotes in there from me as well. Too bad the article, discussing many blogs, doesn't have hot links, but then WSJ is none too web-savvy. Half the time when I link to one of its articles, the article disappears after a few days. I used my interview with the reporter in part to harangue her about how blogging depends on linking, you should want to be linked by bloggers, and you need to be good about preserving the material we link to.

Here's the quoted law student's blog. Actually, it's not the greatest time for a law student blog to get attention. It's exam time.

December 8, 2004

Death days.

Let's not make a regular occasion out of someone's death day. We celebrate Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. on their birthdays. We don't put the holiday on date they were gunned down. Mark October 9th on your calendar, people, not today.

UPDATE: Not long after I wrote this, a great rock musician was shot to death on stage. Scroll up for two posts on "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. Who knows if the annual recognition of John Lennon's murder stimulated the mind of Abbott's murderer?

I received an email from a reader defending the recogintion of death dates. He wrote:
Your point is well taken about not 'celebrating' someone's death day. But it is a time to remember, where I was when I heard, what I thought about, how people reacted. The day of his death has a resonance, and an emotional connection I think most of us don't have with the day of his birth. And death is so much more emotionally affecting than birth or the cessation of death. I think Dec 7th is more notorious and marked every year than VE Day or VJ Day for the same reason, not to mention 9/11. No one is there for the birth of great or notorious people, so they have little reason to relate with that date. Everyone alive remembers the day of Kennedy's death, Lennon's death because of the emotion they have invested in those dates as opposed to their births. By all means make their birthday a holiday or recognized day of celebration, but nothing can stop people's visceral response to the day of their death. And commemorating those days is a good thing because it did make me think about that day in '80 and that isn't always bad to reflect on such things. Its more real to me than to have an announcer say "Today Lennon would have been 64."

I understand this position, but I'm genuinely tired of commemorating murders! And I'm tired of the trite "I remember where I was" reminiscing. Yeah, I remember where I was when I heard John Lennon died: in bed turning on the radio in the morning. I have an identical story to tell about me and Bobby Kennedy. But Bobby Kennedy's death isn't about me, nor is John Lennon's. But I've had enough of it, really. I've been asked a thousand times do you remember where you were when you heard President Kennedy got shot, and I feel like saying, no actually I'm the only one who went ahead and forgot that scintillating fact. But I always say, "I was in a stairwell." But, so what? I remember being in a stairwell, but so the hell what? After forty years, what are we talking about?

At the Annex.

Instapundit notes that his brother's band is playing at the Annex here in Madison tonight (aka "Free Music Wednesday." All you can drink for $10--yikes!). Here's what the Annex looks like.

UPDATE: Link corrected. Now you can actually see what the Annex looks like. It has what I think of as a distinctly midwestern look.

"Dude."

A linguist studies the word "dude."
To decode the word's meaning, Kiesling listened to conversations with fraternity members he taped in 1993. He also had undergraduate students in sociolinguistics classes in 2001 and 2002 write down the first 20 times they heard "dude" and who said it during a three-day period.

Some fields of research just seem a whole lot easier than others. But who knows? Maybe you start off analyzing the detail to the meaning of one word. ("It's like man or buddy, there is often this male-male addressed term that says, 'I'm your friend but not much more than your friend.") But then it leads you into insights about all sorts of sociological and psychological phenomena. ("He found the word taps into nonconformity and a new American image of leisurely success.") Well, you decide.

Here's the history of the word:
Historically, dude originally meant "old rags" -- a "dudesman" was a scarecrow. In the late 1800s, a "dude" was akin to a "dandy," a meticulously dressed man, especially out West. It became "cool" in the 1930s and 1940s, according to Kiesling. Dude began its rise in the teenage lexicon with the 1981 movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

How can you talk about "dude" and movies and not include "The Big Lebowski"?

Anyway, there's a nice special edition DVD of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" for only $14.99, featuring commentary by director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe and a "Reliving our Fast Times at Ridgemont High" documentary. A nice and cheap Christmas present for the dude on your list. And "The Big Lebowski" is only $11.24 (but no special features). One thing I love about Amazon, by the way, is the information about where a particular item is "uniquely popular." "The Big Lebowski" is currently number 1 on the Amherst, Massachusetts list.

Oh, and as long as I'm giving shopping tips related to "The Big Lebowski," let me add that I love the soundtrack from that movie, which is worth buying on CD, and I especially love the way the Bob Dylan song "The Man in Me" is used in that movie. Rereading the lyrics to that song, maybe you can find something of an explanation for Dylan's taciturn turn on "60 Minutes" the other night:
The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein' seen,
But that's just because he doesn't want to turn into some machine.

All right. Enough free-associating. I've got some exam writing to do and a million loose ends to tie up.

UPDATE: I take a pause in the tying up of loose ends to check my email and learn from a reader that the dude linguist looks exactly like Calvin's dad.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Another emailing dude writes:
I ... saw the discussion on the word "dude," but noticed that you omitted "Baseketball" from your list of films. If you are not familiar with this movie, and its relevance, there is an exchange (approximately 20-30 seconds in length) between the two main characters where the only word spoken (repeatedly, with varied inflection and tone) is "dude."

And "Baseketball" is only $11.24, so for $37.47, you can give a great 3 DVD dude-themed gift.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Metafilter is discussing the dude research. Oh, and this Dylan song is my favorite song with the wold "dude" in it.

EVEN MORE: Let me just say there's also "Dude, Where's My Car?" so you won't feel you need to email me about it. And another great song with "dude" (used maybe too cleverly) is "Heroes and Villains." ("But she’s still dancing in the night/Unafraid of what a dude’ll do in a town full of heroes and villains.")

"UW’s in-state dominance continues."

I just wanted to do a post about UW basketball so I could say that this picture, from the Badger Herald, seems to need the caption: let me get a really close look at that nipple.

The next Supreme Court nomination.

The NYT reports on the gathering fight over the next Supreme Court nomination:
"This will be a repeat, and all the organizations that were engaged in work around the election, from big groups to small groups, will feel that this is their own personal fight," said Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group.

Ms. Aron said her office had been flooded with calls from students, lawyers and activists "who were involved in get-out-the-vote work and now want to turn their attention to the Supreme Court."

The energy for the get-out-the-vote effort re-channels itself.

Here's a quote from Senator Shumer:
"If a candidate is a mainstream candidate, even with conservative leanings, it will be hard," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who serves on the judiciary panel. "But if the candidate is a hard right-wing candidate, it will not be that hard. The more the hard right rattles its sabers, the more resolved our caucus is not to cave."

Note the advance signaling from the minority party. Perhaps its best hope is to cow the President into nominating someone the other side will be willing to give the magic label "mainstream." I suspect that the Shumers of the Senate will tend to say that any Bush nominee is not "mainstream," but the believability of the nearly inevitable "not mainstream" rhetoric will depend on how far from liberal preferences the nominee seems to be. We did not want to have to filibuster, and if only the President had heeded our plea and nominated a mainstream candidate....

"You say that, but how?"

A great, succinct question from Justice Souter at oral argument yesterday, to a lawyer who was trying to defend a state's ban on shipping wine from out-of-state to consumers in the state on the theory that it was needed to protect children. Since in-state wineries are allowed to ship the product to the consumer, this theory looks like a skimpy veil for protectionism.

"This Supreme Court obsession of yours."

A father's plea:
Son, could you come in here for a second?... Now, I know it may make you feel uncomfortable to talk about it, but this Supreme Court obsession of yours has become a problem.

It sounds as though this boy has spent some time staring at page 99 of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book)." And, please, I'm begging you. Don't go to the bookstore and open that book up to that page! I happened to do that by accident the other day. You'd be doing it on purpose. And that page is just very wrong.

December 7, 2004

Anonymous lawprof?

I say this is a law student, very awkwardly imagining what goes on in a lawprof's mind. Clue to law students: we don't sit around obsessing about how much we don't like you and how we can hurt you. I have never in twenty years of teaching law school encountered a law professor who had an attitude like this about students.

UPDATE: I should note that I don't like to link to this this blog. I'm only linking to it because it has been double linked by JD2B and linked by Volokh Conspiracy, How Appealing, and various law student blogs, which means that many law students and prospective law students are likely to read it and have their anxieties about law school stoked. On the positive side, the blog offers an opportunity to hone one's critical reading skills. I think you can find evidence in nearly every sentence that the author is a law student. Now, there is nothing wrong with writing a fictionalized blog from the perspective of someone other than yourself--and this blog does identify itself as fiction--but readers seem to be assuming the writer is a lawprof adopting the veil of anonymity in order to reveal the dirty secrets that he's in a position to know and not a law student projecting his own emotions.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eric Muller has renamed this guy "Anonymous Law Student" and is having fun pointing out his obvious gaffes.

A emailer suggests that the writer is a former law student, based on today's post, which has the fictional lawprof serving on what the writer clumsily calls the "re-admission committee," but which an actual lawprof would probably call the Retentions Committee. Perhaps, our writer has failed at law school. (Maybe it's that possibly nonfictional drinking problem.) Which law school is it? I wonder. I Google "re-admissions committee" and discover that a couple schools do have a "re-admissions committee." If I were looking for the blog writer, I'd start at Fordham Law School.

By the way, do lawprofs use the U.S. News terminology to refer to their schools? I think the expression "first tier law school" is mostly law student talk. A lawprof is unlikely to introduce himself as a "tenured law professor at a first tier law school."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: An emailer with some experience talking to lawprofs says he's heard the term "first tier law school" used to identify their schools when those schools are in the lower part of what U.S. News calls the "first tier" (that is, its top 100). Those at higher level schools would tend use the smallest available rounded off number and say they teach at a top 20, top 30, or top 40 school.

Things that remind me of Pop.

Yesterday, one of my posts was on the Rip & Read Blogger Podcast, so I gave it a listen. It was funny to hear the reader read my paragraph out loud and then say something like "Yeah, I agree with that." It reminded me of my grandfather, Pop, who used to read the newspaper, and if he ran across a sentence or two that seemed interesting, he'd just read it out loud to whoever was in the room and then maybe add a little comment. My grandmother (Mom) did that too, come to think about it. Was that a widespread practice among people who were born before the days of radio? It was a bit like blogging, wasn't it?

Oh...

... the semester just ended!

Polandblogging.

Nina has made it back to her homeland Poland, arriving in Warsaw and taking the train to Krakow. She writes:
I love Warsaw and I am fiercely protective of her. Krakow, the beauty queen, did not suffer in the way Warsaw did in the twentieth century. Warsaw has scars like the kid who once had a bad case of acne. Scars that are difficult for others to understand. Scars of destruction followed by poverty. Warsaw has grit and determination to make something of herself and I just love her to death for it.

Once when colleagues traveled here and later showed me photos they took – I remember vividly one of a decrepit park bench – I cried. Is this the way you see her? --I asked.

Loving her as much as I do allows me to look critically as well. Driving in from the airport is revealing. These are the streets I remember: blocks of apartments that westerners regard as quaintly decrepit in their ugliness. I think—oh how happy are the inhabitants! They have their own apartment in Warsaw and they have their neighborhood and I bet they feel at home there.

Go over there and read it all and see the photographs. More, much more, will surely ensue.

Awards I've never cared about.

The new Grammy nominations just came out, and I couldn't care less. Back in the 1960s when I really cared about new music, the Grammys were clueless and irrelevant. Check out what won record of the year and album of the year back in those days. I'll never get over the feeling that the Grammys are utterly pointless.

Fear of tall buildings.

How do you build up the urban center of a city with a central landmark that everyone wants to be able to see from any position on the ground?

A miswritten law.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals notices a nonsensical "and," retrieves the original parchment signed by President Clinton, and the case of a man convicted of distributing child pornography is remanded for resentencing, permitting the judge to impose only a fine.
"It is inconceivable," prosecutors wrote, "that Congress meant to permit judges to impose either a fine or a 10-year term, and nothing in between, on first offenders."...

Judge [Gerard E.] Lynch, when he sentenced [Jorge Pabon-Cruz], called the 10-year penalty "unjust and harmful." He said that it had "the potential to do disastrous damage to someone who himself is not much more than a child."

The fortuitous discovery of a drafting error enabled the judges to wriggle out of the mandatory sentencing I presume they hate.

"People now just let thoughts drool out onto the screen."

The NYT reports on abysmal business memos. What makes this front page news? Haven't business memos always been badly written? ("Whadya Know" has long ridiculed business memos on its "Thanks for the Memos" feature.)

The hook in today's Times piece is that email is making people write badly in new ways. The young can't write business email because they are carrying over the style they developed in text messaging and personal email. Older workers are finding their language skills newly exposed as email replaces the telephone. Things that sounded fine spoken are an embarrassing mess written down.

UPDATE: I just corrected two typos, which, I'm told, were "ironic typos."

So why don't I just admit it?

I set up a poll the other day asking readers to help me understand why my blog qualified to be nominated in the "Best Conservative Blog" category on the Weblog Awards. (And feel free to vote for me again!) As I write this, 718 people have answered my poll, and the big winner seems to be "Because you really are a big right-winger, so why don't you just admit it?" with 29.8% of the vote. So, what, am I supposed to "admit it" now?

The way I see it "Because you really are a big right-winger, so why don't you just admit it?" is like "moral values" coming in first on that exit poll in the last election. It's first, because another, better option has been broken down into two ideas. In the exit poll, "moral values" did not place first if you combined Iraq and war on terrorism percentages into a single "national security" item. By the same token, I think it makes some sense to make one item out of "Because you live in Madison, Wisconsin and are so far from the local norm, which is a conservative distinction worthy of note" and "Because you've devised a fascinating, individualized way of being conservative." This "individualistically conservative" option is polling at 40.6 percent.

What I'll admit is that I prefer that interpretation of the poll. I'll also admit that the option I believed to be the most accurate explanation when I wrote the poll is the one that is coming in last: "Because they were scattering blogs they wanted to nominate into various categories and that's just where you ended up." And I can see a theory for putting that into a single category with "Because the vast right-wing conspiracy has a plot to win you over through positive reinforcement" under the theory that it's not about me at all but something the pollmaker was up to. That option is polling at 29.7%, practically the same as "big right-winger."

UPDATE: An emailer has a better answer:
I think you're missing an important feature of internet polls: The
funny answers win, not the correct ones. :)

For instance, the last place option, the one you think is correct, is
the only answer that was written seriously, instead of amusingly. I
think it's the correct option too. Yet, I voted for "Because the vast
right-wing conspiracy has a plot to win you over through positive
reinforcement," because the concept amused me...

Don't worry, I read your blog precisely because I see you as NOT being
a right-winger, but instead a common-sense moderate.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Another theory:
[T]he real reason for the best conservative blog nomination is a vast LEFT-wing conspiracy to get you labeled as a right-wing blog so that leftists won't read it... :)

The shunning instinct on the left is powerful, I've noticed.

December 6, 2004

The economics of religion.

Business Week has an article about the economic analysis of religion. Here's an interesting passage about terrorism:
The idea that religion involves rational choices extends even to suicide bombers who strike in the name of God. Studies show they are far from depressed loners or brainwashed robots. Instead, says Eli Berman, an associate professor of economics at the University of California at San Diego, suicide bombers typically are motivated young men -- and, rarely, women -- from average backgrounds. Berman, who has studied Hamas, the Taliban, and like groups, says the bombers share a sense of obligation to what amounts to a "mutual-aid society." Says Berman: "They think of themselves as making great sacrifices for a cause -- the way we would think of pilots in the Battle of Britain, or the way the kamikaze thought of themselves."

How should the West fight such terrorism? Berman says one approach would be to promote prosperity through freer markets, which would reduce the supply of potential bombers. [George Mason Professor Laurance R.] Iannaccone gives another answer to the question in a paper called The Market for Martyrs that he presented earlier this year to the American Economic Assn. He argues that the supply of would-be terrorists is impossible to suppress. Instead, it makes sense to reduce demand by disrupting the "firms" that sponsor them.

The article mentions that Adam Smith wrote about religion in "The Wealth of Nations." Here's a passage from Smith that I've used in my Religion and the Constitution class.

A drawing for the last Monday of the semester.

This was drawn while I listened to someone else speak last week, so let me use it to mark the last day my Monday-Wednesday-Friday class will listen to me speak. Who knows what doodles they've drawn in the margins of their notebooks? I suppose with laptop computers, far fewer doodles are drawn and far more games of solitaire are played. Of course, one could compose a blog entry. If I went to law school these days, I'd have a laptop, and I'd keep my fingers typing constantly, mixing observations about the teacher, my classmates, and my mood with the substantive content of the course. After class, I'd cut out the extraneous material as I compressed my notes down to a study-able outline. If I had the time, I'd paste the cut material into another document which I'd compress and rewrite for whatever insight and humor I could find. If I had the nerve, I'd make that a blog entry. Yes, now that I think about it, law school would be much better with a laptop and a blog than with a Pelikan pen to doodle in the margin of a legal pad.

Image-9F961AEC3E1911D9

Really "the other side of the ocean."

Keep an eye on Nina's blog this week:
In this one month I am privileged to be spending time in four cities and two villages that have easily been the most important places in my life. I have work to do, yes, but I also have time to spend with my Polish family and pals, and then with my residing-on-the-East Coast family.

And she's dedicated to blogging:
I have already told my sister (who lives in Warsaw) that I will basically not leave her apartment because I have too much blogging to do and so she may as well not coax me into any other activities.

Seriously, ever since I started blogging in January, I have wanted to post from Poland. I am traveling with my computer and my camera and my tested trusty world Internet access (dial-up, but oh well), so I should be fine. Ocean is crossing the ocean and she and I can’t wait to plunge right into my homeland with vignettes of life as I know it, remember it, miss it. The next 24 hours may be thin on writing as I am on a bus, then in the air, then in the air again, then on a train. But after that, if you are curious about life Over There, tune in.

December 5, 2004

Bob Dylan on "60 Minutes."

For the first third of the "60 Minutes" interview, I am racking my brain trying to figure out who he reminds me of, with his deliberately taciturn answers and his odd, wary look. Then I realize it's Tom Waits, maybe somewhere around the point when he says he always thought you were supposed to lie to the press (as opposed to God and to yourself). I can't tell how much he is playing a role and how much he is just a sad, strange guy. He speaks of his writing as magical, not in a boastful way, but wistfully remembering how the songs once flowed out of him. He recites...
Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon

... and wonders at how a person could just come out with something like that. But maybe he does know and pretending not to know is part of the mystique act, the lie he's been telling to the press and to the world. But what's his motivation? Who knows? If I had to guess I'd say that he's afraid he doesn't have enough inside to reveal. The phantom Bob is much more substantial.

The interview ends with Bob seeming to want to stir up a Robert Johnson-style legend of making a pact with the devil:
ED BRADLEY: You're still out here, doing these songs. You're still on tour.

BOB DYLAN: I do, but I don't take it for granted.

BRADLEY: Why do you still do it? Why are you still out here?

DYLAN: Well, it goes back to that destiny thing. You know, I made a bargain with it, you know, long time ago. I'm holding up my end.

BRADLEY: What was your bargain?

DYLAN: Get where I am now.

BRADLEY (smiling): Should I ask who you made the bargain with?

DYLAN (laughing): With, with, with, with, you know, the chief, the chief commander.

BRADLEY: On this earth?

DYLAN: On this earth, and in the world we can't see.

Dylan purses his lips, maybe to keep from laughing at himself or laughing at Bradley for letting him get away with saying such things.

Harry Reid on Scalia and Thomas.

The new Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid, was on "Meet the Press" today. Tim Russert questioned him about Supreme Court nominees:
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to judicial nominations. Again, Harry Reid on National Public Radio, November 19: "If they"--the Bush White House--"for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong. If they give us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his opinions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind."

Could you support Antonin Scalia to be chief justice of the Supreme Court?

SEN. REID: If he can overcome the ethics problems that have arisen since he was selected as a justice of the Supreme Court. And those ethics problems--you've talked about them; every people talk--every reporter's talked about them in town--where he took trips that were probably not in keeping with the code of judicial ethics. So we have to get over this. I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy. And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute. So...

MR. RUSSERT: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?

SEN. REID: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.

Is that the tack the Democrats are going to take if Scalia or Thomas is nominated to succeed Chief Justice Rehnquist? Scalia has an ethics problem, and Thomas is an "embarrassment"? Roundly acknowledge that Scalia is brilliant, but slur Thomas as someone who can't even put his written opinions together?? It is my observation that liberals tend to lapse into the lazy belief that those who don't agree with them must be stupid or evil, and to me Reid's remarks look a bit like that. But I realize the Senators can't get away with opposing a judicial nomination on the ground that they simply disagree with their opinions. They've got to say the person either has an ethical problem or isn't smart enough. I'm prepared to put up with the Democrats hashing through the duck hunting controversy if Scalia is nominated, but to attack Thomas's intelligence is shameless. Even now, Reid is signaling to the President not to choose Thomas. Reprehensible!

UPDATE: Calling attention to Reid's attack on Thomas are: CNN, Washington Post.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stuart Buck comments on Reid's remarks and quotes lawprof Mark Tushnet as saying, "It's nearly impossible to find anyone who is dispassionate about Justice Thomas." I'm glad he said "nearly." Let me make it easy for people to find someone: I'm dispassionate about Justice Thomas!

Protesting the "racist dress code."

A few days ago, I wrote about a protest planned for this Friday aimed at bars with dress codes deemed "racist." The MSM news coverage is thin--as well it should be. Fortunately, Law and Alcoholism has a detailed account here.

UPDATE: The Badger Herald reports on the protest. And The Daily Cardinal also reports: "When asked about the success of the protests, [Racist Dress Code Coalition spokesperson Kate] Losey was optimistic. 'I think we pretty much shut down their business,' she said." Both of these student newspapers do their reporting by interviewing a leader of the protest. Compare that to the eyewitness blog entry linked above. The reports are totally different. Either their were 60 or so highly effective protesters or there were 6 or 7 highly ineffective protesters. Those damned blogs, ruining media clarity even at the student level!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Law and Alcoholism mocks the above-cited news coverage.

Is it a blog if you only post once a week?

The Becker-Posner blog has finally checked in, with a post from Judge Posner. He begins with an introductory statement about what blogs are and then: "Initially we will be posting just once a week, on Mondays."

Is it a blog if you only post once a week? Maybe the answer is if you're Nobel-prize-winning economist and a federal circuit judge it is. Posner notes:
The rules of judicial ethics preclude Posner from commenting publicly on pending or impending litigation or participating in politics, as by endorsing candidates.

What an impediment to blogging it is to be a federal judge!

Anyway, welcome to the biggest new bloggers in the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Conglomerate answers my "Is it a blog?" question, but not really all that differently from the way I answered it. I don't care all that much about policing the meaning of the word, but I do think there is a sort of pseudoblogging, especially by MSM, that is really just column-writing, relabeled. Here's an example of a Madison newspaper that has a button to hit for its "blogs," and all you get is a collection of weekly columns. Those are not blogs!

Why I can't watch Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi is on Fox News Sunday this morning, and I'm just fast-forwarding through the whole thing. It's nothing she's saying. I'm not even going to wait to hear what she says. It's that crazily overlifted face. The eyebrows are halfway up the forehead, and the eyes are in the permanently over-opened position. (Is this the same face lift people were commenting on back in January, or has she had the facial flesh rolled up a few more notches?)

She looks perpetually surprised and startled. Just looking at her, I find myself raising my own eyebrows and opening my eyes too wide. How can a person who needs to be a good communicator subvert the expressive power of her own face? It's one thing to keep an impassive facial expression to avoid getting wrinkles, especially if you're only resisting frowning and scowling. But it's quite another to have your face surgically adjusted into what looks like a very emotional expression that never goes away. You can never get back to an expressionless face and you can never show a true emotion again. Whoever looks at you feels a sense of alarm, either because they are simply reacting to the expression they see on your face as if it were a real, human expression, or because they are horrified, thinking about what you actually did to get your face to look like that.


UPDATE: Sissy Willis agrees. You know, I don't have anything against plastic surgery per se. If people want to spend their money and go through all that pain and trouble, it's their business. My problem is with losing sight of what is good and bad, focusing on lines and sagginess, and not seeing the overall effect. This is probably the doctor's fault as much as the patient's. Lines and sagginess are objective facts, and the overall effect is more subjective. The doctor can say I removed the bags under your eyes and the hoods over them, didn't I? Wouldn't the patient have pointed to those specific things if he didn't? And if the overall effect is really weird and inhuman, the doctor can deny that. The patient may deny it too. I think it may be inherent in the nature of facial surgery that the work will focus on the objective flaws and not take enough account of the subjective look. I'm perfectly happy to have men and women make themselves more beautiful through surgery, but I'm afraid surgery will not only detract from beauty but will detract from the capacity to perceive beauty.

A genuine doodle.

Exactly what if feels like to listen to a moderately interesting speech:

Image-9F9592583E1911D9

UPDATE: This email amused me:
Gloriosky, you're channelling the chaps who carved the wall art in the ancient Incan or Mayan Temples!

Quick, tell us how the Egyptian pyramids were constructed before you fall out of this trance!

Things I don't want to pay for.

The NYT reports--on the front page--on a new weight loss drug:
With an analysis limited to those who stayed in the study, rimonabant resulted in an average weight loss of about 19 pounds, Dr. Pi-Sunyer said. In comparison, patients who received a placebo and who, like the rimonabant patients, were given a diet and consultations with a dietician, lost about 5 pounds in a year.

Patients hit plateaus after about 34 weeks, when their weight loss ceased. If they stopped taking the drug, they gained back all they had lost, but the hope is that if people continue taking the drug indefinitely, they can maintain that weight loss and gain health benefits, Dr. Pi-Sunyer said.

For 14 pounds, you'd take a drug for the rest of your life? And I suppose you'd want the government/insurance companies to pay for it? Because obesity is an illness, right?

"Weighted to the rabid right-wing blogs. "

They are complaining about the Weblog Awards over on Metafilter--mostly, it seems, because Fark is beating Metafilter in the "Best Online Community" category, but also more generally:
what's up with these awards? I've never heard of most of the sites, it must be heavily weighted towards the politcal blog spectrum, and then also weighted to the rabid right-wing blogs.

That does so little to help me understand how I got nominated for "Best Conservative Blog." (Remember, you can vote every 24 hours. And vote in my "help me understand" poll.)

Traveling to Libya.

The Sunday Times Travel Section has an article on Libya, and I was just blogging about traveling to Libya—not because I want to go there myself, but because Michael Totten just came back from Libya and had some nice pictures. Click on the slideshow at the NYT article. Here's a telling passage:

Back at the hotel, I bought some of the most amusing stamps I have seen anywhere, a set titled "American Aggression." … [T]hey featured not only the requisite defiant images of the Colonel but also a series, in blazing comic book colors, of enormous Libyan surface-to-air missiles annihilating fully armed American fighter jets.

I guess things are going relatively well if that can be experienced as amusing. And then there's this:
The Tuareg fancy themselves as desert swains. Encouraged by their reported success with European women, various members of our Tuareg posse regularly hit on the unmarried women in our group, flattering them at the same time they unintentionally insulted them, by explaining, in halting French, their preference for "large" women.

"I'm not that big!" complained one oft-approached woman, the investment banker from Seattle.

Come for the 140 degree heat, stay for the sexual harassment.

Way too early.

For no good enough reason I'm up at 3:30 a.m.—not up in the staying up late sense, up for the day. Ugh! But I look out into the dark and see the Sunday NYT is here, and that makes me happy. Making extra sure not to lock the door behind me, I run out and grab it. I pile up the sections in the order that seems right for today. I open the magazine to the puzzle page. I know it's not an acrostic week, so what is the second puzzle? Diagramless! Okay. My second favorite second puzzle format.