April 22, 2006

Art bikes.

Art bikes

Art bikes

Art bikes

Tulips and politics.

Today, in the public square, it's all tulips and politics.

Tulips and Politics

Closeup on the politics:

A Madison Saturday


Still life with Starbucks

"It creates a habit of fluency that pours right over the surliest block."

The surliest writer's block, that is. So says Amba, talking about blogging, in response to -- thanks! -- my little "pseudo-blog" of an essay (written for next week's "Bloggership" conference). More from Amba (about my piece):
Even though it's written to coax a specialized audience off its safe shore of stodginess, timidity and pomposity and into the fast-moving waters of blogging, it's one of the best all-round blogging manifesti yet, especially for any blogger who does other kinds of writing for a living and/or calling.
Read the whole thing. Hers, I mean. Which will perhaps send you over to mine.

And read the other conference papers too. Here's a tribute to the other papers, received via email, from one of our regular commenters (not Amba):
OK, I'm a nerd. I ended up spending quite a chunk of this afternoon and evening reading the papers, and I'm very glad I did. It has literally shifted my thinking about the way I should be, well, thinking about certain things. I'm very open to learning to new information and do that all the time, but it's not so often anymore that I feel this sort of "stop and think" (in a good way), outside of encounters with art and other non-info-oriented things.

I'm very much hoping that your commenters--in particular those who are also bloggers, but small, and not lawyers, and perhaps without other sorts of useful backgrounds--go over and read some of those papers and think about them.

I love the free-ness (more potential on my part, but I'm working on that) of blogging and of the blogosphere. But like any morphing and maturing media, there are certain caveats -- and most especially as/if people start thinking of themselves as citizen journalists. I'm not sure that those caveats come under consideration as much as they should, at last not by bloggers not in the "higher ranks", or not lawyers, or whatever. Some day, that may come home to roost for some poor blogger who's ill-equipped to deal with it.

ADDED: The commenter who wrote the email is Reader_Iam, who actually wrote a post on here about it.

The naked carpenter.

Percy Honniball. (Love the name!)
He told officers he stripped before crawling under the client's house to do electrical work because he didn't want to soil his clothes, police said.

Honniball said Thursday that working in the nude gave him a better range of motion and that a skilled craftsman can work clothing -- and injury -- free....

Honniball was caught working naked in Berkeley three times in the last six years and put on probation for violating a city ordinance.
Oh, come on. You're allowed to do things like that in Berkeley aren't you?

But really, naked carpentry? It sounds dangerous -- though somehow I'm not getting a mental picture of the precise accident I'm afraid of. And I'm not believing the cleanliness argument. He's got to put his clothes back on to leave the job, right? And he's not showering on the job, presumably. So he's just getting the insides of his clothes dirty. If you're going to say then he preserves the appearance of his clothes by keeping the outside clean, the simplest solution is wear the clothes inside out on the job.

Oh, my lord, I'm thinking way too much about the naked carpenter!

What I hate about movies.

I've been avoiding going to the movie theater for a while. After years of weekly attendance, I've cut down to perhaps five times a year. Recently, I developed the suspicion that what keeps me away is the sound.

My sudden decline in attendance coincides with dramatic sound enhancements made at the local theaters. Movie sound had been bothering me for years. This 1997 movie had sound effects that drove me up the wall. No one could walk anywhere -- even when they are sneaking up on someone -- without tromping footsteps. I avoided seeing the movie "Gladiator" after I heard the trailer: the clanking sound effects were absurd and distracting.

Worst of all is movie music. Are you supposed to be able to ignore it? The music is terrible, loud, and intrusive. It is constantly ordering you about, telling you when to feel what. You don't have the chance to have your own feelings based on what is happening on the screen.

Yesterday, I was flipping channels on the television, and the movie "Troy" came on. There was a big battle scene, with spears and shields and burning arrows. It was semi-ridiculous. Still, I might have been able to imagine what it would have been like to be there, fighting like that. They went to a lot of trouble to depict the battle techniques. But the blaring, insane music made that kind of engagement with the story utterly impossible.

I know "Troy" is supposed to be a bad movie. But looking at it yesterday crystallized my thinking about what I hate about movies. It's the sound. What torture "Troy" would have been in a theater with all those oppressive speakers bearing down on me!

Making movies into an intensely physical auditory experience has ruined them.

"A remarkably beautiful woman who was surprisingly shy, yet spoke her mind fearlessly... who thought little of herself as an actress..."

Peter Bogdonovich on Ava Gardner.

I must confess that I've never understood why people -- is it just men? -- are enthralled by Ava Gardner. Was she ever good in a movie? Is she really so especially beautiful? I don't see it in the stills, and maybe I've never seen one of her movies. She made a hell of a lot of them, but look at the list. What a shocking lot of crap!

Anyway, I like that she was good with the snappy remark. Bogdonovich quotes this crack about Clark Gable: "Clark is the sort of guy that if you say, 'Hiya, Clark, how are you?' he's stuck for an answer."

Photos from the set.

Rick Lee has photos from the set of the movie "We... Are Marshall." The movie is set in 1970s, so the costumes are horrifying, especially on Matthew McConaughey. It's one thing to have to look like a guy in 1970, quite another to have to look like a coach in 1970. That's a truly humbling hairstyle and a frightening mixture of stripes and plaid.

April 21, 2006

An evening walk.

It's nice to make it to the end of what was a grueling week here in Madison, Wisconsin, but let's step outside for a little walk. There is beauty just outside my door. Within three blocks of home:

An Evening Walk in University Heights

An Evening Walk in University Heights

An Evening Walk in University Heights

An Evening Walk in University Heights

"Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned/Homosexuality is Shameful."

Those are words on the front and back of a T-shirt, worn to school by a student reacting to the school's Gay-Straight Alliance events. At Volokh Conspiracy, there is a vivid discussion of the Ninth Circuit's decision upholding the district judge's denial of a preliminary injunction to the student, after the school's principal required him to remove the shirt. (PDF.) I don't have the time right now to read the decision, but I wanted to give readers a chance to talk about this very interesting free speech problem.

The majority is concerned about what it calls "speech that intrudes upon the rights of other students." Judge Kozinski, dissenting, cares about that too:
I ... have sympathy for defendants’ position that students in school are a captive audience and should not be forced to endure speech that they find offensive and demeaning. There is surely something to the notion that a Jewish student might not be able to devote his full attention to school activities if the fellow in the seat next to him is wearing a t-shirt with the message “Hitler Had the Right Idea” in front and “Let’s Finish the Job!” on the back. This t-shirt may well interfere with the educational experience even if the two students never come to blows or
even have words about it.
How different is that hypothetical shirt from the one the principal banned? Did the principal disapprove of the shirt because it was disruptive or because it contradicted the school's official message?

"Bullet and teardrop shapes and parallel 'speed lines'..."

Streamlining -- "the paring down of shape until it presents the least possible resistance to the flow of air or water" -- is a modernistic design trend that belongs to the 1930s and 40s. Do you love the futurism of the past? Or does it make you feel sad? If you get a bad twinge from it, is it nostalgia or disappointment? That is, that we live in this place that was once called the future, and we see that it doesn't have that exciting futuristic look we once imagined? We got tired of the future before it ever arrived, and we decided to preserve the look of past, except that part of the past that was the futuristic vision.

April 20, 2006

Getting some words written.

Today was the deadline for the papers for next week's "Bloggership" conference. Here's a list of the words in my essay least likely to appear in any of the other essays: oblivion, lollipop, Sopranos, bloxxing, psychotic, whore, squishy, gooey, strumpet's, ankle, fairy.

UPDATE: The papers will be posted here. Some are up already.


The hill warms up.

At dawn, Bascom Hill is austere:

Bascom Mall

Later, warm springtime firms up its grip on us, and some feel it more than others:

Bascom Mall

Ah, the boyfriend -- as supportive as a chair!

"Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host Bob Dylan."

I'm glad Bob Dylan's XM Radio show is finally going to debut (on May 3rd), but what's with the title? Well, he is going to have themes. The first one is "weather" -- which seems like some vague nod to "you don't need a weatherman" and "blowin' in the wind." Then on to such startling topics as "dance," "police," "cars" and "whiskey."
Bootlegged whiskey in his hand...

The whiskey's in the jar and the money's in the bank...

Don't need a shot of whiskey, help me be president....

I'm gonna buy me a barrel of whiskey - I'll die before I turn senile...

Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk,
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread,
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed...

You're going to have to play something.

UPDATE: I have a lot more to say about the show -- which I love! -- here.

The 100 unsexiest men in the world.

Surely, there's someone less sexy than Gilbert Gottfried, but when you're making a list, you've got to put famous people on it. But anyway, Gottfried is funny, and don't all those surveys about what women find sexy always put humor near the top? I know... but still... There's got to be a guy who looks and sounds like Gottfried but isn't funny.

I'm not going to pick over this whole list. I'll just focus on #38, Larry David. I've had spontaneous discussions with women on the precise subject: Larry David is sexy.

And let me single out one choice to agree with: #45, Nick Nolte. I don't know exactly what it is, but I have a physical aversion to him. (Which makes me want to ask: why isn't Michael Douglas on the list?)

And what's with throwing in Osama Bin Laden -- at #8. (And why 8, specifically? Just to stick it to guys like Alan Colmes, who fared worse?) If the list is open to the likes of bin Laden, this guy springs to mind.

"She makes her entrance in the first act and freezes with the unyielding stiffness of an industrial lamppost...."

Julia Roberts is in a Broadway play.
Ms. Roberts often gives the impression that she is parsing her lines, leaving lots of dead air between fragments.

And yet, and yet. I found myself fascinated by the way her facial structure (ah, those cheekbones!) seems to change according to how the light hits her. In repose, her face seems impossibly, hauntingly eloquent.
Well, maybe that is exactly what works in film: having an amazing face and giving people lots of time to gaze upon it. Loving the film idol, you're drawn to the theater where you can be in the presence of the star. Does that ever work right?

"A lot of birds are nesting inside the sarcophagus."

Chernobyl as paradise, for animals.
As humans were evacuated from the area 20 years ago, animals moved in. Existing populations multiplied and species not seen for decades, such as the lynx and eagle owl, began to return.

There are even tantalising footprints of a bear, an animal that has not trodden this part of Ukraine for centuries....

There is nothing to disturb the wild boar - said to have multiplied eightfold between 1986 and 1988 - except its similarly resurgent predator, the wolf....

[T]he benefits to wildlife of removing people from the zone, have far outweighed any harm from radiation.
Does this story make you ashamed of what human beings have done to the world? For the animals, a nuclear disaster is preferable to life with us.

April 19, 2006

"American Idol" -- the results.

NOTE: To read about the most recent "Amercian Idol" results show, click on the "Althouse" banner above and scroll down to the top "results" post.


I must confess that I adore Ryan Seacrest! He perfectly manages our excitement and makes sure the cruelty is just enough that we feel good about it. Tonight, he creates two groups of three: Elliott, Kellie, and Katharine on one side, and Chris, Paris, and Ace on the other. Then, Taylor -- told he's safe -- is asked to go join the group that he thinks is the bottom three. But first a commercial. TiVo...

Taylor chooses correctly, joining the Elliott set. Then Paris is told she's safe. Surely, Ace is leaving. But if my Chrissy goes... Oh, no! ...

Ah, but it is Ace who is leaving... Which is exactly what we expected. He deserves it.

Aw, Ace, you should never have pulled back your lustrous curls!

Oh, and Rod Stewart sang. He kind of sang badly, but I still have a lot of love for Rod. Take me back, carry me back, down to gasoline alley where I started from.

ADDED: Did you have a vague memory of a show a while back where they used the seventh person the way they used Taylor tonight? I did. I dug out the old post from April 2004:
American Idol: The Outrage. What the hell happened? That was the worst thing ever on American Idol. See my post from this morning for how I read the show last night: I thought Jennifer was the best. I thought the three Divas would be the final three. They were the bottom three! How could that happen? Jennifer was my original favorite, from the first audition. I can only think that the strong praise for the Divas caused people to think they didn't need help, and people speed dialed for two hours for favorites they believed were in danger. I must say they really revealed the results dramatically, telling George to join the safe group, causing him to walk over to the Divas (forming a group that was my predicted final four: George and the Divas), then telling him he'd joined the wrong group. Oh, the outrage!
But Jennifer Hudson is now starring in the movie "Dream Girls." So that worked out rather well.

YET MORE: The final 7 results were also done this way in 2005. Here's my post:
The results will be revealed by bringing everyone on stage into one of two groups and then saying which is the bottom group. We saw this last season in the shocking results show where the three black female singers were grouped and, to our amazement, told they were the bottom. (One of them, Fantasia, went on to win the contest.) So I'm expecting that the group that looks safe will be the bottom, but I can't see how that can happen with these contestants, since clearly Bo and Constantine will not be in the bottom group. Vonzell too. Vonzell goes to the left, Anthony to the right. The right must be bad. Anwar joins Anthony. Okay, then there is no question. Right is bad. Constantine joins Vonzell. What scintilla of suspense can there be? Carrie goes to the left. Scott goes to the right. What about Bo? The groups are even. So he's just told he's safe and then he's asked to join the group he thinks is the top. He goes to the middle. He's not playing games. Why should he take orders?

After the break, we're told what we already know. The Scott, Anthony, Anwar group is at risk. And the loser, as I, and many others, predicted, is Anwar.

"The hookah is 3,500 years old, it's part of culture, it's part of religion, and everyone loves it."

Here's a NYT article on the college tobacco hookah-smoking trend. And here's the part about UW:
Near the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus, hookah smokers were disappointed last summer when a smoking ban stopped the Casbah Bar and Lounge from offering hookahs indoors. Sales plummeted from about 300 hookahs a month to about 30, for outdoor customers.

"We've been experimenting with a nontobacco product, for $12, a mixture of hibiscus, eucalyptus and molasses," said Sabi Atteyih, the owner. "Hookah cafes are an important cultural experience, a place where Muslims and Jews and Catholics and people of color can sit side by side, and share."
I like the idea of smoothing over cultural differences. It's probably a good idea to develop that theme when dealing with the City Council and the health-oriented anti-smoking forces. Diversity trumps health in this town, right? Anyway, it has a shot.

"I don't want a 'competent' lawyer. I want a lawyer to get me off. I want a lawyer to invent the Twinkie defense. I want to win."

Said Justice Scalia yesterday, in a case about whether a criminal defendant has an absolute right to the lawyer of his choice.
The government argued in its appeal that a new trial was not warranted unless the defendant could show that the preferred lawyer would have made a difference in the outcome....

Justice Antonin Scalia was clearly unimpressed by the argument that as long as the trial was fair and the lawyer competent, the Sixth Amendment was not violated.
Compare Justice Alito:
"Let's say the defendant wanted to be represented by a relative who specialized in real estate law," Justice Alito said. If that lawyer was disqualified and the defendant was eventually represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer with a national reputation, "why wouldn't that be harmless error?" he asked.

That would still be "unquestionably a Sixth Amendment violation," [the defendant's lawyer] replied.

April 18, 2006

"American Idol" -- the final 7 sing old standards.

Rod Stewart is here tonight to lead the kids into "the great American songbook." "I've always loved these songs. I was brought up on them." Okay. I'm willing to believe that. Now, just get the kids to sing these songs well.

Chris Daughtry. "What a Wonderful World." Lovely! Simon: "Great!"

Paris Bennett. "These Foolish Things." Rod is impressed by Paris. She's only 17! "I was still digging graves when I was 17." A little phonily over-mature and over-enunciated. The judges are entirely complimentary, which is nice of them.

Taylor Hicks. He's doing "You Send Me," which doesn't seem to be from the right era, but it's a cool song. Rod, approving of Taylor: "You've got to grab the audience by the balls... Will that be allowed?" (It's not.) The band is way too loud tonight, and it makes him seem subdued, until the end where he kind of rocks out ... or something. The judges love that make-it-your-own ending.

A huge commercial break follows and makes me think the potential losers are about to follow. Losers and Kellie.

Elliott Yamin. "It Had to Be You." This song always makes me think of "Annie Hall." Wow! I finally get Elliott. He's the only one so far who really seems natural inside this music. Simon is a bit mean, but this is helpful to him. People need to know to vote. (Not that I vote. I only voted in Season 2, I think.)

Kellie Pickler. "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered." Cute interaction with Rob. Super red dress! Pretty... devolving into thin and whiny. I was ready to love her. Really! Randy: "What am I going to say?" Kellie: "Ah butchered it!" Okay, that's my favorite thing she's ever done. What nerve to concede badness before anyone's even rubbed your face in it! Cool! Simon: "It wasn't great." Kellie: "Ah agree." Nice!

One bad performance can destroy you on this show. (Remember "New Attitude"?) And Kellie astutely got ahead of the problem, using a new technique. She is so not dumb!

Ace Young. "That's All." Rod thinks he's "absolutely brilliant." His curls are all slicked back into a -- what's that? -- a bun? The band is overpowering and he seems desperate. I don't know. Without the hair... For some reason, as Randy is talking to him, the camera pans down to his shoes. Yeah? He has huge feet. We're impressed. The judges aren't mean, and that may be just the kiss of death needed to lull his fans.

Katharine McPhee. "Someone to Watch Over Me." Rod is totally in love with her. We get some beautiful extreme closeups. I love this song, especially as Frank Sinatra sings it. So her singing seems too harsh to me. Simon: "So much better than the others."

My ranking: Elliott, Chris, Katharine, Taylor, Paris, Ace, Kellie.

"I thought that would be good. Very nutritious."

Said Tom Cruise, about his baby's placenta. (Is the placenta the baby's or the mother's? And which way troubles you more?) It seems now that he was just joking, though some folks really do believe in eating the placenta.

I want to say that I wish the new baby well. It's a little girl, named Suri. Let's be nice!

But first, I want to say that in the interim before the only-joking word came out, Christopher Althouse Cohen emailed:
My question is: if you're going to eat the placenta after childbirth, why not eat the foreskin after circumcision?
There's more to that email, but out of respect for little Suri, I won't reprint it (though it was quite hilarious).

My response:
Why isn't placenta-eating cannibalism? The way biting your cuticles is cannibalism... Or should I say, biting someone else's cuticles?

"American Idol" is really "Southern Idol"... but why?

Some analysis from WaPo writer Neely Tucker. It's not that southerners watch the show more and vote more and vote for their own, Tucker argues.
"Idol" kids grew up in the postmodern era, long after the throes of the civil rights movement, long after interstates and Wal-Marts had made small towns in north Alabama look a whole lot like small towns in Michigan. The old days are gone. Listen to two iconic Southern recordings: Hank Williams's (Alabama) "Your Cheating Heart" and Robert Johnson's (Mississippi) "32-20 Blues." The first is twangy beyond description and the second is almost incomprehensible.

People don't talk like that anymore. But a softer Southern accent persists, as does the cultural memory of things long gone. There is still an emphasis on church and family, both entities that, in the course of Southern life, heavily influence music, particularly among the working class.

"There's still an awful lot of old-school singers who got their starts in church, and many mainstream country musicians still do a gospel album," said John Reed Shelton, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of North Carolina and one of the region's most respected observers. "Everybody tends to go to church, and Southern evangelical Protestantism, both black and white, emphasizes and rewards musical performance."

Plus, as Wilson, the Mississippi scholar, points out, the only way a lot of kids stuck in one-horse towns know that they can find life-changing fame and fortune is on the stage.

Writing about blogging and blogging about writing about blogging...

I see from this Prawfsblog post by Paul Horwitz that Orin Kerr has posted his paper for the Harvard Bloggership conference. The conference is next week and the papers are due Thursday. Kerr's paper is only 10 pages long. The papers are only supposed to be that long. I'm not done with mine yet.

You'd think it would be easy for me to bang out that much verbiage on the subject of blogging, considering how much I write on the blog, but it's always different writing a paper, intriguingly, weirdly different. It's not just the style or content of an essay for publication. It's the mental place where you find yourself. It's really different! Blogging is so much more fun because you find yourself in a much freer place. That's sort of what I'm trying to write about, actually. But I have much I need to do to finish by Thursday.

Let's see what Horwitz has to say about Kerr:
First, Kerr starts his paper by suggesting that the contributions to the symposium will likely have "a slightly self-congratulatory flavor. When asked to opine on blogs and legal scholarship, law professors who blog will tend to present a rosy picture. Call it self-selection, or maybe just self-interest." ... Kerr is ... likely right, but I'm not sure I'd lead with my chin so much; maybe everyone will show up with papers that begin, "I'm sure the rest of you will be triumphalist, but here are my second thoughts...."
Well, now that we've been tipped off that we're going to be scrutinized for self-congratulation, maybe we'll all go back over the draft and do a humility edit. Or -- here's where it gets complex -- maybe we think everyone else is going to do that, so the better strategy is to go ahead and be the triumphalist.

It's a fun job... and somebody's got to do it.

I'm glad to see that Robin Givhan won a Pulitzer Prize.

Here's the report in her newspaper, The Washington Post. The category is Criticism. Criticize all you want, but she's my favorite bloggable columnist. There was that column on Condoleezza Rice's stiletto boots:
As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy.
Blogged here:
Robin Givhan... heavy-breathes about the sexuality of Rice's clothes, even though all we're really talking about here is that the outfit was all black ("The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding"), that the boots had high heels ("Heels … alter her posture in myriad enticing ways, all of which are politically incorrect to discuss"), and that women often dress much less attractively ("She was not wearing a bland suit with a loose-fitting skirt and short boxy jacket with a pair of sensible pumps").

Women with power easily unleash ideation about sex -- and sex and power. If the woman can't be contained by the thought that her powerfulness has removed her sexuality altogether, then the thought becomes that her sexuality has merged with her power. In the case of Condoleezza Rice, who has a high position of power and is distinctly attractive, she seems to become a strange new being -- a superhero – like Neo in "The Matrix"!

Is it wrong to talk about powerful women this way? I say no. Image, fashion, and beauty are all important. And we certainly didn't refrain from talking about how the male candidates for President looked in 2004. We obsessed over their ties, their hair and their makeup, and the bulges under their clothes. So go ahead and spout your theories about the meaning of Condoleezza Rice's high-heeled boots.

Mine is: these boots are made for running for President.

There was the one about John Bolton:
The fulsome silhouette of the mustache makes for a particularly dreary distraction and seems to pull his whole face downward. It makes Bolton, who is only 56, look hoary and dour. For a man who has shown little evidence of a capacity to charm -- an ability that can come in handy for an ambassador -- the mustache makes him appear unwelcoming. For all of the testimony about his spiteful dealings with both colleagues and underlings, and his denials of such behavior, he managed to look mean.
Blogged here:
Well, that goes along with my longtime opinion of mustaches: they make men look mean. Charlie Chaplin might be the only exception. Please men! Let us see your philtrum! Nothing makes a man more adorable than a well-shaped philtrum. And nothing uglifies like a mustache!
There was the one about what Judith Miller and Li'l Kim wore for their sentencing walks:
The women seemed acutely aware that the sentencing walk -- like its predecessor, the perp walk -- defines them in the public's mind. In its execution, it is not enough to stand straight and hold one's head high. This is a powerful visual image capable of conveying subtleties and broad strokes. Both women were playing to their fans.
Blogged here:
Givhan goes on to describe the effect serving time will have on the two women's careers. Since Li'l Kim is a rap artist, according to Givhan, it can only help. For rap fans: "The prison term seems less an ordeal than a right of passage." Well, you can argue about whether that's politically incorrect, but it sure is a usage error. Where are the WaPo proofreaders?

There was the one blogged here:
"Why dress in 'ho gear' and risk being treated like a hooker?"

Oh, come on. You're not going to blog every single essay Robin Givhan writes, are you?

Well, I don't know, maybe I should. You know she does ask some pretty tantalizing questions:
If clothes function as semiotics, where does the power lie -- with the sender or the receiver? And what happens when the sender is purposefully offering up misinformation?

Yeah, you find those questions tantalizing?

Uh, no, I guess not. Now that you mention it.
There was the one about Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish:
All of ["The Comeback"]'s nuances are reflected in Cherish's most distinctive physical characteristic, her long red hair with its painstakingly organized curls that have been flipped back and away from her face. That hair is gloriously thick and the waves fall with an unnatural precision. The hair appears Breck Girl clean, devoid of the styling products now used to give hair an informal, slightly messy appearance. Hers is hair meant to be tossed in slow motion during the opening montage of "Baywatch."

In constructing the character, Kudrow has said that Cherish's hair color was a calculated decision. In Cherish's mind, "blond is dumb comedy, red hair is smart, sexy comedy." And, presumably, brunette isn't funny at all.
Blogged here:
Givhan doesn't mention it, but red hair and comedy are indelibly associated with Lucille Ball. But of course, Cherish is wrong about a lot of things, so Kudrow's analysis of how Cherish thinks must be understood in that light. But I have a feeling Lisa loves Lucy....

Why is red hair so meaningful?
There was the one blogged here:

"Standing alone, Mrs. Bush looked lovely."

"But next to Camilla, whose Robinson Valentino blazer and skirt made her look like a large rectangle, the first lady reminded one of a radiant bride shining brightly next to a dutifully bland bridesmaid." That's the description from WaPo's Robin Givhan, who also takes note of the President: "The president looked handsome in his tuxedo. For once he didn't have the body language of a kid with a bad sunburn forced to wear a wool suit."
The one blogged here:

Saddam on trial -- in a Western suit with a pocket square but no tie!

Robin Givhan wonders what that means:
The pocket square was a particularly distracting flourish. Paired with a tie, a pocket square tends to make a man look more formally attired. But without that accompaniment, it can look almost jaunty and rakish -- like Sinatra or Dino in Vegas.

Hussein's style choice throws the viewer off balance. Is his modest paean to the Flamingo a simple reflection of his hair-dyeing, gold-leaf-loving, frightful vanity? Or has he decided to beat the "occupiers" from within their own system? Take it over, or mock it?
There was the infamous slam at the Alitos, as blogged here:

"They often looked as though they had coordinated their ensembles in the manner of a family heading off to the Sears photo studio."

WaPo's Robin Givhan analyzes the Alitos from the fashion standpoint:
He and his wife of almost 21 years wore similar wire-rimmed glasses. His were only slightly more angular than hers. They both have short-cropped brown hair....On the first day of hearings, her red suit with its contrasting piping matched his red tie. On the second day, she echoed his pale blue shirt with her blue sweater, which fell discreetly to mid-thigh. On the fourth day, her white jacket over a red dress mirrored his white shirt and red tie.

Givhan skirts very close to sneering, but in the end, she seems rather admiring. Or is that patronizing?
Earlier she'd written about the more perfectly dressed John Roberts family, in a column called "An Image a Little Too Carefully Coordinated":
Dressing appropriately is a somewhat selfless act. It's not about catering to personal comfort. One can't give in fully to private aesthetic preferences. Instead, one asks what would make other people feel respected? What would mark the occasion as noteworthy? What signifies that the moment is bigger than the individual?

But the Roberts family went too far. In announcing John Roberts as his Supreme Court nominee, the president inextricably linked the individual -- and his family -- to the sweep of tradition. In their attire, there was nothing too informal; there was nothing immodest. There was only the feeling that, in the desire to be appropriate and respectful of history, the children had been costumed in it.
Reading about the Pulitzer Prize reminded me first of that column, which I was suprised to see I didn't blog about. Didn't everyone blog about that one? Looking back at my blog from that time, I can see why I didn't get to it. I was incredibly busy dealing with the nomination itself.

Givhan put down Hillary Clinton too:
After eight years as first lady wearing innumerable skirt suits that did little to flatter her physique, she now wears pants almost exclusively. As a matter of personal style, this is a good thing. The senator looks more streamlined and elegant.
Oh, don't say that's not a putdown. No woman wants to hear a compliment like that! Blogged here (getting to the subject of men in skirts).

Most recently, she caught my eye with this one about the way they dress on "American Idol," blogged here.

So congratulations to Robin Givhan! Keep up the richly bloggable work.

April 17, 2006

"I want to thank all of the children here today who brought their parents with them."

Said Laura Bush to all the kids who came to the White House Easter Party. The parents included many gay parents, who made a special point of coming to the party this year to see how they would be treated. They were treated like every other kid's parents.

There was a rule articulated in advance about who could be admitted:
[C]hildren of all ages are welcome but there must be at least one aged under seven in each group and no more than two adults in each group.
No heterosexism there.

"One Life, With Each Other, Sisters, Brothers."

Best line in a song, ever? It was voted so, in a VH1 survey, beating out "So You Go, And You Stand On Your Own, And You Leave On Your Own, And You Go Home, And You Cry, And You Want To Die." Well, it's a hell of a lot cheerier, and since optimistic, hopeful lines -- like "Look At The Stars, Look How They Shine For You" -- are all over the place on this list of 20, I think it's a very impressive showing for The Smiths.

Re "One":
U2 classic One is often played at weddings, but guitarist Edge has in the past said: “It’s not that kind of song”.

The three videos that the band made for the single – depicting everything from the band in drag, Bono singing at a restaurant table, and buffalos running across a plain – shed no light on the meaning of the song either.
I think people especially love song lyrics that they can't quite understand. A few evocative words, sung with passion and style, but just enough out of reach that you can pour your own meaning in -- we love that.

Picture buttons at a murder trial.

Does it violate the rights of a criminal defendant if the jurors see family members in court wearing buttons with a picture of the victim? The Supreme Court has decided to hear the case.
[Mathew] Musladin contends he shot Tom Studer in self-defense in 1994. Appeals court Judge Stephen Reinhardt said the buttons sent the message that Studer was the victim and Musladin the attacker.

IN THE COMMENTS: A lot of people think the defendant's rights were violated, but I write:
You need to take into account that the 9th Circuit was looking at a habeas petition, which was governed by the limitations created by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which permits relief only if the state court's decision was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." It's not enough that allowing the buttons violated the defendant's rights, even if it was not harmless error. You have to look at the existing Supreme Court cases -- which include nothing specifically on point -- and say the judge was unreasonable to [have] interpreted them to permit the buttons.

Seen this way, it seems clear that the Supreme Court will have to reverse.

"Human frailty, it makes me sick sometimes."

Said Christopher somewhere near the beginning of last night's "Sopranos." I jotted down the quote and meant to do a substantial post last night, but I got tired of the episode, which was relentlessly about Vito's homosexuality. Okay, I get it! I don't think Vito was ever an interesting character, and now we're watching whole episodes full of his comic/tragic end? That is, I think it was the whole episode. I fell asleep halfway through, and now I'll have to start over again. Did it get better? Adam at Throwing Things says it was the worst episode this season.

Actually, I don't find Vito comic or tragic. It's as though they were planning endings for different characters, and they came to Vito, realized they'd never given him any interesting qualities, and quite apart from that, noticed that they'd never dealt with issues of homosexuality, so they just went ahead and made Vito gay so he'd have a final story as they wrapped up all the characters in the final season.

I woke up in time to watch the new episode of "Big Love." This was a well-written episode, with lots of characters and story lines, but a single theme: the problem the first wife -- the only legally married wife -- presents for the other wives. Grace Zabriskie got a lot of screen time, which I love. I could watch her fret and purse her lips for a whole hour. I love when she seems both very confused and sharply knowing. And I quite adore Chloe Sevigny -- so grim and conniving, but sad. Both Zabriskie and Sevigny play second wives on the show, and both are ravaged by their second-rate status. The hope they see lies in lording it over wives lower in the hierarchy. Sevigny's Nicki loves to oppress third wife Margene and is thrilled at the prospect of a fourth wife, as if having another dog to kick would really make life swell.

Another (alleged) murderer with a blog.

I'm not linking to the blog but to an excellent discussion of it at Metafilter. I suppose we'll see this more and more: someone is arrested, and then we get to read his blog, find the parts that seem to relate to the crime, and wonder whether the blog really seems much different from so many other blogs we've seen. And then the general public takes over the blog, writing comments to whatever happened to be the last post, talking about Hell and prison rape.

Playboy in Indonesia.

Since you can go on line in Indonesia and get to all the pornography you want, why is there an uproar over the availability of a version of Playboy that doesn't even have photographs of naked women in it?
In a country that boasts of its embrace of moderate Islam and cultural diversity, many analysts and politicians say the attempt to establish a strict Islamic standard of behavior is at odds with the thinking of a vast majority of the people. They give little chance of Parliament passing such an extreme law. Opponents of the law argue that trying to legislate morality is like trying to protect matrimony by abolishing divorce.

But in the years since the fall of President Suharto, hard-line Islamic groups have grown in strength and organizational ability and are now a formidable social force. They often get what they want through social pressure alone....

Muhyiddin Junadi, a scholar from the Indonesian Ulama Council and Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, acknowledged an agenda to sharply alter the moral character of Indonesia, where it is still possible to buy alcohol, even in the middle of Ramadan.

"We don't want to make Indonesia an Islamic country, but what we demand is that Muslims must apply Islamic teaching and Islamic principles to their lives," Mr. Junadi said in an interview. To him, Playboy is "very dangerous" because it risks spoiling "the morality of Indonesian society as a whole, especially the young generation."

Mr. Carolus, however, takes the position that it is other media, not his magazine, that offer the moral danger. "If I want to see naked pictures," he said, "I go to the Internet. It costs nothing. U.S. Playboy costs me about $12."

Indeed, a Web site with explicit sexual content that claims to have received more than 46 million hits last month lists Indonesia as its No. 1 source of viewers. Malaysia, another majority Muslim country, was listed at No. 4.
It seems that the fight is not over whether people can actually see risqué photographs. It is a struggle for political power on the ground, and, I would guess, the appearance of the famous magazine name on the newsstands means a lot. So I wouldn't laugh off this fight because of the stunning reality of the internet and the tameness of the magazine.

"The rage was just calmed and here, with an absurd and criminal logic, they go and stir things up."

Another cartoon about Muhammad:
The drawing appears in Studi Cattolici, a monthly magazine with links to the ultra-conservative Roman Catholic group, Opus Dei. It shows the poets Virgil and Dante on the edge of a circle of flame looking down on Mohammed.

"Isn't that man there, split in two from head to navel, Mohammed?" Dante asks Virgil.

"Yes and he is cut in two because he has divided society," Virgil replies. "While that woman there, with the burning coals, represents the politics of Italy towards Islam."

Cesare Cavalleri, the editor of the magazine, said last night that he had not meant to cause offence. "If, contrary to my intentions and those of the author, anyone felt offended in his religious feelings, I freely ask him in a Christian manner for forgiveness."

That was a marked change of tone from an earlier statement, when he said: "We must not fear freedom of opinion." If the cartoon provoked an attack, it would only confirm "the idiotic positions" of Muslim extremists.

"This is not a cartoon against Mohammed. It is a cartoon which addresses the loss of the West's identity.

"Why all the fuss over a cartoon which only represents that which has already been written centuries ago by Dante Alighieri?"
Why print it now if not for the current fuss?

Michelle Malkin has the actual cartoon, which does not, in fact, show Muhammad. It only depicts Dante and Virgil looking at Hell, calling to mind the many illustrations of Muhammad that already exist in the many versions of "The Divine Comedy" that have been made over the years.

April 16, 2006

Audible Althouse #45.

I hope you have some time to listen to my little podcast. It's about hail, using hail for ice in your drink, drinking way too much in the 18th century, eating leeches in the Outback, sun-crisping frogs and other culinary techniques, caring about a cat trapped in a wall in New York City, waiting for help which doesn't come because the people who could help you seriously think you are trying to commit suicide, subjective perceptions of my blog post about Camille Paglia and how I got uninvited from a dinner, and the subjective perception of time and why time is so different for children from the way it is for us.

And you don't need an iPod to listen to the podcast. (But do you know the Pope has an iPod?) You can stream it right through your computer, here.

Bluebooking blog comments.

So I'm writing this little essay for a conference about blogging. I'm arguing in favor of blogging on a multitude of topics and had this paragraph:
Even some of the people who get blogging still hate the idea that the fun of blogging should have to be shared with older bloggers, with professors. They will say: Don’t you have a life? Who do you think you are? If a lawprof receives too much attention blogging outside of the lawprof box, there will be push-back. Bloggers will make it their business to tell you to get back in the box.
I wanted a footnote at "older bloggers," that would refer to a comment over at Wonkette. The subject over there is Stanley Fish's new blog at the New York Times, and the first commenter, one "Chris," writes "Another step in the geezerfication of the blogosphere."

What's the Bluebook citation form for blog comments? I make this up:
See"Stanley Fish Has A Blog?," http://www.wonkette.com/politics/stanley-fish/stanley-fish-
has-a-blog-167381.php (4/14/06) (comment by Chris on 4/14/06 03:34 PM) ("Another step in the geezerfication of the blogosphere.")
Then I email that attempt to my son John -- currently a law review editor -- with the subject line "not really meaning to bug you about citation form but..." and ask "how far off is this?" Now, you could say, why are you bugging John about it? You should look up the citation form. But the alternative for me would be just leaving the citation in the form I'd guessed might be right. I'm not going to look it up, but I thought John would be interested in the citation problem.

He wrote back:
Well, I think the Bluebook's blog cite form (rule 18.2.4) is very problematic, but assuming you're following that, it should be:

See Posting of Chris to Wonkette, http://www.wonkette.com/politics/stanley-fish/stanley-fish-
has-a-blog-167381.php (Apr. 14, 2006, 15:34 EST).

That assumes you know it was posted in the Eastern time zone.

The BB doesn't mention comments to blogs as opposed to authors' posts. I am using the "multiple posters" cite form, which is meant to parallel the form used for web discussion forums. I can't see why you would cite comments any differently from authors' posts if you're using the BB.

The BB doesn't provide for giving the titles of blog posts, which I think is a problem.

That's followed immediately by a second email:
And of course you can have the parenthetical with the quote at the end.

And put a period at the end.
Responding to the first email, I write:
Thanks. You could say "Comment by Chris" etc.

I'd like to be able to use the title! I guess you could put it in a parenthetical, right? Not using the title puts a premium software that makes URLs that pick up the title (like that one).
(Responding to the second email, I compliment him on his eye for the missing dot.)

He writes back:
The BB form allows you to refer to a "Posting" in the case of "multiple posters" to blogs. I would apply that to comments. "Comment" is a term of art that's meaningful when used on a blog; it's not necessarily a valid distinction in the context of law review citations.

I don't see how you could put the title in a parenthetical unless it was genuinely a statement that you wanted to quote to support your proposition. The phrase "Posting of Chris" is meant to take the place of the title. If you really want the title, I would just completely ditch the blog cite form and cite it as an online periodical, using the form you'd use to cite a Slate article under rule 18.2.3(b).
Not distinguish between a post and a comment? Anyone commenting at Wonkette gets to be "posting" at Wonkette? The Bluebook must recognize the blogger/commenter distinction. It's so important. But I'm pleased to know the Bluebook has a rule about blogs. Still, if it is problematic, why not write an amendment to it? I think law reviews should tweak the rules and make in-house rules to follow instead of waiting for the next edition of the Bluebook.

(I'd like to quote the text of the rules John cited, but it seems as though the Bluebook isn't available online. That's ridiculous, but not to Harvard Law Review which asks $24.95 for the manual. An awful lot of people need that book, and do you buy a new one each time a new edition comes out? They are up to the 18th edition. That's a lot of money for Harvard!)

Archaeologists versus landowners and relic-hunters.

Landowners collect hundreds of dollars from relic-hunters, leaving archaeologists aghast as the historical context is stripped away from artifacts. Should legislators side with the archaelogists?

"You write values questions people can agree or disagree to..."

"...and then you use some fancy statistical routines to be able to characterize who's in what group and how big the groups are," and then you build planned communities. Are you going to buy the house with the "culture room" and a "central paseo" and live amongst other homeowners who bought the same architectural expression of survey-derived values? Is this really any different from picking a neighborhood that grew organically to have a particular cultural flavor?

The surveys sort prospective homebuyers into "psychographic profiles":
As it turns out, there were lots of status-conscious "Winners" in Orange County, people who tended to go for the glitziest, most expensive homes in Covenant Hills. And there were a fair number of "Winners with Heart," a hybrid group of status-conscious people with a spiritual side.

There were the religiously oriented "Traditionalists," who, it was assumed, would prefer the more classic architecture there, and more family-oriented activities, such as the annual Easter egg hunt.

On the other hand, the "Cultural Creatives" tended to be more liberal-minded, environmentally oriented and "less into conspicuous consumption," Warrick said, and Terramor was built for them.

"Their houses might have a courtyard that conceals the front door, and it's kind of cozy and nest-like," he explained. "The materials might be just as expensive as what the Winner would want, but more understated."
The most interesting thing about this to me is what emerges after the people have chosen the houses. Does the Cultural Creative neighborhood really turn out to have creative people in it? Do the neighborhoods end up with people who fit the profile? Do the people within each neighborhood have better relationships because they've been grouped -- in some way -- by their values? And how different is this from the effect of more naturally evolved places -- places like University Heights in Madison, Wisconsin, where I sit and type out these words and think about moving downtown?

"It's only the losers named Dave that think having an unusual name is bad..."

"... and who cares what they think. They're named Dave." Says Penn Jillette, if you challenge him about the fact that he named his daughter Moxie CrimeFighter.
But while middle-class parents increasingly trade in standard names like Karen and Joseph for fancier ones like Madison and Caleb, movie stars seem compelled to push the baby naming further. The names may be merely distinctive (say, Maddox, Angelina Jolie's Cambodian-born adopted son) or bizarre, like Makena'lei Gordon, Helen Hunt's daughter, inspired by a place name in Hawaii. Celebrities may not so subtly be saying that for them ordinary rules need not apply.

If celebrities are the new American aristocracy, the exotic baby name can sometimes function as the equivalent of a royal title, a way for a privileged caste to bestow the power of its legacy on future generations.

"There's a sense of 'I'm special, I'm different, and therefore my child is special and different,' " said Jenn Berman, a clinical psychologist in Beverly Hills, who has worked with actors. "It's unconscious, but they think, 'We're a creative family, you have the potential to be creative, so here, I bestow you with the name 'Joaquin,' " Dr. Berman said.
Which celebrity started it? Frank Zappa?
Just as Frank Zappa proved himself the classic hippie prankster by naming his children Moon Unit and Dweezil in the 1960's....
Frank Zappa was a hippie? I guess the past looks fuzzy from such a great distance!
Think I'll just DROP OUT
I'll go to Frisco
Buy a wig & sleep
On Owsley's floor...
I'm completely stoned
I'm hippy & I'm trippy
I'm a gypsy on my own...
I'm really just a phony
But forgive me
'Cause I'm stoned...
Frank Zappa was a hippie?

Sorry, I got sidetracked. Anyway, you middle-class losers with kids named Dave, how about showing a little imagination? And, to get to the really important question, what do you think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will name the little pittster they're cooking up for the endless amusement of the world?

"Sauvetage difficile pour la chatte Molly à New York."

The whole world got excited about a cat stuck in a wall in a deli in New York City. This raises the question: Why do we care? I mean, literally: Why do we care? What makes us care about one thing and not another? Why does a cat matter more than some other animal (such as one of the mice that Molly the cat was kept in the deli to destroy)? What about all the human beings who are suffering? Are cats so much more sympathetic? Or is it the stuck-in-a-wall part? Human beings, we would agonize over your suffering, if only it had a weirder cause. Is it that the meowings of the cat could be heard by so many passers-by on that street in New York? Human beings, your suffering would drive us to despair, if only you were crying somewhere where we had to listen to it continually.

Happy Easter.