June 17, 2006

"We have Potato!"

These shoes are weird.

But they're supposed to be good.

UPDATE: We're all buying these shoes now, including me! And we're all having a potato too.

"I wouldn't think that just leaving the car would amount to aiding another person's suicide attempt."

Is it a crime to get out of the car just before the driver plunges off a cliff?

A high school with 41 valedictorians?

Yes!
The push for multiple valedictorians began years ago, prompted by concerns that high school had become too competitive -- so competitive that a few students seeking the title filed lawsuits. As more students enrolled in weighted advanced classes and earned grade-point averages far above 4.0, educators wondered whether it was fair to single out one teenager. There was concern a student would take a less challenging class to guarantee an A or take on an unreasonable workload of weighted classes to boost a GPA.
Interesting multiple causation. First, there's that horror of competition that we were just talking about yesterday. Second, lawyers. (They're everywhere!) Third, the students, unsurprisingly, pursue their self interest. They engage in the age-old search for the easy A. And now they've got the second strategy of taking classes where you can get, essentially, more than an A.

If there were no weighted grades, you'd know that if you had a 4.0, you would be valedictorian (but you'd still share it with everyone else who got a 4.0). Weighted grades create an amorphous system. You don't know how much you need to come in first. Pursuing the actual number one spot in a weighted GPA system has to cause a lot of stress and uncertainty, but it seems like a good idea to keep the easy-A strategy from working too well.

The title of valedictorian is a terrific prize, and it becomes meaningless if every great student wins it. Why replicate the message that is already present in the academic records? Just give the prize to the person with the highest GPA and be done with it. State the rule in advance and follow it. That's certainly the best lawyer repellent.

June 16, 2006

Is a fashion-and-makeup workshop a ridiculous proposal for community service?

The judge in Boy George's case thought so.
His lawyer [Louis Freeman] said O'Dowd [AKA Boy George] hoped to do something more worthwhile than sweeping streets and sidewalks.

"There's nothing wrong with that if that's part of his punishment, but it will turn into a media circus, and the press will be following him every day," Freeman said.

The judge said he understood the objection to street cleaning: "It's humiliation." However, he said, O'Dowd "got out from under a felony, and he took a (misdemeanor) deal that had an element of humiliation..."
A celebrity shouldn't get special treatment, but the lawyer -- naturally -- is going to argue that to be treated the same is to be treated differently. There's more humiliation. It's a media circus.

So you think you can watch this show?

Kim Cosmopolitan explains the new rules on "So You Think You Can Dance." I didn't watch last season, so I'm not puzzled by the changes, just trying to figure it out for the first time. And I'm trying to decide if I want to watch that much dancing and that many dancers smiling ecstatically after they've danced and couples acting like they love each other much more than they possibly could. The highlight of Wednesday's show was when they made one guy -- Benji -- do some extremely sexual sort of dancing with the sexy partner they assigned to him and then, in the judging session, had him reveal that he'd just come back from his missionary work and was, apparently, dancing in a way that conflicted with his religion in a heroic demonstration of how desperately he wanted to win.

"Innocence is a distraction."

University of Houston lawprof David R. Dow has a NYT op-ed arguing that death penalty opponents ought to shift away from arguments about innocence, which he calls "a distraction":
Of the 50 or so death row inmates I have represented, I have serious doubts about the guilt of three or four — that is, 6 to 8 percent, about what scholars estimate to be the percentage of innocent people on death row.

In 98 percent of the cases, however, in 49 out of 50, there were appalling violations of legal principles: prosecutors struck jurors based on their race; the police hid or manufactured evidence; prosecutors reached secret deals with jailhouse snitches; lab analysts misrepresented forensic results. Most of the cases do not involve bogus claims of innocence, like the one that swirled for 15 years around Roger Coleman, but the government corruption that the federal courts overlook so that the states can go about their business of executing.

The House case will make it hard for abolitionists to shift their focus from the question of innocence, but that is what they ought to do. They ought to focus on the far more pervasive problem: that the machinery of death in America is lawless, and in carrying out death sentences, we violate our legal principles nearly all of the time.
Is Dow right about how "to erode support for capital punishment in America"? It's hard to get ordinary people excited about procedure. The main way of getting people to care is to create anxiety that an innocent man will be executed. Even if, as a matter of fact, nearly everyone convicted is guilty, people do have a very intense feeling about the risk of executing the innocent. I think if Americans believed that every 20th person executed was innocent, they would reject the death penalty.

And we ought to care about the problems of procedure whether we have the death penalty or not. Paradoxically, the death penalty may cause people to care about procedural problems that they wouldn't pay attention to if those who were unfairly convicted were quietly serving their long sentences in prisons.

Visualizing the school that favors boys as much as school really does favor girls.

Responding to a recent David Brooks column (TimesSelect link) that looked at why boys are doing so much worse than girls at school, a professor of medicine named Nelson D. Horseman has a great letter in today's NYT:
Imagine a school where the vast majority of teachers and administrators are men and where competitive sports are compulsory.

Imagine that students get rewarded for being overtly aggressive in school and that there is a zero tolerance policy for being passive.

Imagine getting extra credit for resisting authority, and having points deducted for being compliant with arbitrary rules and meaningless deadlines.
Well, I would have loved a school like that when I was a kid, but the point is, on the average, that would favor boys and hurt girls.

"A zero tolerance policy for being passive" -- that's my favorite part of Horseman's visualization. It's what law school once was, before we backed off. Change one letter in "Horseman" and you get "Houseman."

I can't resist ending this post by saying one of my favorite teachers was a poetry professor -- a male! -- who especially loved to quote the line:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

The National Popular Vote proposal.

Working around the Electoral College -- which is impervious to constitutional amendment -- through state-by-state legislation. I think it's unconstitutional and doubt that its supporters foresee the strange effects it would have. What would presidential campaigns be like if candidates were basically trying to win through the Electoral College, but also had to worry that some big state that they had no shot at winning might mobilize a high turnout and tip the popular vote?

"He once liked all-night poker games and now plays bridge online under the handle 'Chalengr.'"

If I had $50 billion dollars and wanted to play bridge a lot, I be a patron of the bridge players. I'd build a little village for them off in some corner of my property.

"It has been a tough 10 days for those who see current events through the prisms of Vietnam and Watergate."

So writes Michael Barone in the Wall Street Journal. The piece is mostly about the strange obsession with seeing Karl Rove indicted:
Vietnam and Watergate were arguably triumphs for honest reporting. But they were also defeats for America--and for millions of freedom-loving people in the world. They ushered in an era when the political opposition and much of the press have sought not just to defeat administrations but to delegitimize them. The pursuit of Karl Rove by the left and the press has been just the latest episode in the attempted criminalization of political differences. Is there any hope that it might turn out to be the last?

June 15, 2006

How uniform does a uniform need to be?

We were talking about Civil War uniforms today -- a digression in a discussion of the Geneva Conventions and the requirement that a lawful combatant wear a uniform. How uniform do uniforms need to be to be uniforms, I asked, realizing that I know very little about uniforms. I was surprised to read recently that in the Civil War, some Wisconsin soldiers had gray uniforms, because they ran out of blue cloth.

Well, did you know about the Zouave-style uniforms in the Civil War?



No! That astounded me. It seems so unmilitary to go for a fashion craze.

Happy together.

Here's a nice picture of the Justices looking happy together:



Well, Breyer seems to be doing a Larry David imitation. But everybody else.

The event was a tribute to the late Chief Justice Rehnquist. Revelations:
Rehnquist, who often wore Hush Puppies with business suits, was the only person [his former clerk John] Roberts said he'd ever seen get down on his stomach to line up a shot in croquet.

A trivia buff, tennis player and friendly gambler, Rehnquist loved history and geography and liked to bet on how much snow would fall....

Maureen Mahoney, one of the most frequent practitioners before the high court, said Rehnquist was not the sexist conservative that some groups painted him after President Reagan nominated him to be chief justice....

Mahoney recalled that Rehnquist told an interviewer how his wife, Nan, reacted when she learned of his nomination to be chief justice. "She replied, 'Put the dishes in the dishwasher.'"
Nice.

"The gloomy present situation" in Iraq.

You're not one of those people whose heart lifts at bad news from Iraq, are you? But cheer up, this quote is from al Qaeda's perspective.

"We try to save people from dying from dehydration."

Or: "This is simply aiding and abetting criminal activity." Which is it?

"Is there no policy of protecting the home owner a little bit and the sanctity of the home from this immediate entry?"

Worried Justice O'Connor at oral argument in Hudson v. Michigan last Janauary. The case was reargued after Alito replaced O'Connor, and now, with Alito's vote, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state, permitting the use of evidence where the police failed to follow the "knock-and-announce" rule established in Fourth Amendment law.

Justice Scalia wrote the opinion:
When the knock-and-announce rule does apply, it is not easy to determine precisely what officers must do. How many seconds’ wait are too few?...

Happily, these issues do not confront us here. From the trial level onward, Michigan has conceded that the entry was a knock-and-announce violation. The issue here is remedy....

Suppression of evidence... has always been our last resort, not our first impulse. The exclusionary rule generates “substantial social costs,” ... which sometimes include setting the guilty free and the dangerous at large...

What the knock-and-announce rule has never protected, however, is one’s interest in preventing the government from seeing or taking evidence described in a warrant. Since the interests that were violated in this case have nothing to do with the seizure of the evidence, the exclusionary rule is inapplicable.
Justice Kennedy's vote was needed for the majority, and he wrote a separate opinion, denying that "violations of the [knock-and-announce] requirement are trivial or beyond the law’s concern" and that "the continued operation of the exclusionary rule, as settled and defined by our precedents, is not in doubt."

That's not how the dissenters saw it. Justice Breyer worried about letting the "police know that they can ignore the Constitution’s requirements without risking suppression of evidence discovered after an unreasonable entry." For a spirited defense of the exclusionary rule, read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The press is doing a bad job of reporting this case! I keep hearing and reading assertions that the Court said the police didn't commit a violation, when the government conceded that they did! This case was about what remedy was available for the violation.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Nina Totenberg gets it right.

If we come to think of ourselves in genetic terms, how will that change us?

A conundrum! It can't change us, because what we are is in our genes. But this article is about how thinking it's all in the genes affects us:
A growing understanding of human genetics is prompting fresh consideration of how much control people have over who they are and how they act. The recent discoveries include genes that seem to influence whether an individual is fat, has a gift for dance or will be addicted to cigarettes. Pronouncements about the power of genes seem to be in the news almost daily, and are changing the way some Americans feel about themselves, their flaws and their talents, as well as the decisions they make.

For some people, the idea that they may not be entirely at fault for some of their less desirable qualities is liberating, conferring a scientifically backed reprieve from guilt and self-doubt. Others feel doomed by their own DNA, which seems less changeable than the more traditional culprits for personal failings, like a lack of discipline or bad childhoods. And many find it simply depressing to think that their accomplishments might not be the result of their own efforts.

Now, wait a minute! If you're depressed, it's because of your genes.
Parents, too, are rethinking their contributions. Perhaps they have not scarred their wayward children so much as given them bad genes. Maybe it was not their superior parenting skills that produced that Nobel laureate.
Yes, quit blaming us, kids. Quit blaming yourselves too. There now, isn't life easier? No! The easiness or difficulty you feel as you try to live your life is determined by your genetic makeup.
Whether a new emphasis on genes will breed tolerance or bigotry for inborn differences remains an open question. If a trait like being overweight comes to be seen as largely the result of genetic influence rather than lack of discipline, the social stigma connected to it could dissipate, for instance. Or fat people could start being viewed as genetically inferior.
Come on! Our tendency toward bigotry and our urge to harass those we perceive as inferior is in our genes.
The public embrace of genetics may be driven as much by wishful thinking as scientific truth. In an age of uncertainty, biology can appear to provide a concrete answer for behavior that is difficult to explain. And the faith that genetics can illuminate the metaphysical aspects of being human is for some a logical extension of the growing hope that it can cure disease.
Hey, wishful thinking... it's in our genes.

"Hottest Bachelor."

This is always a dubious concept, but this year, especially so. It's Taylor Hicks!

The man continues to confuse America. First, with the help of a TV show, we came to understand him as a pop idol. Now, with the help of a magazine, we've supposed to see the pudgy grayhair as a sex object.



Is something very, very wrong with us?

"If I continued to headbang on stage, I could have had a brain hemorrhage and dropped dead on the spot."

That would make you a legend, but don't do it.

The new AFI top 100 list: "most inspiring films."

All the predictable stuff is there. Please try not to look. Oh, go ahead. I'm pointing at it: "It's a Wonderful Life," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Schindler's List," "Rocky," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,""E.T.," "The Grapes of Wrath," "Breaking Away,""Miracle on 34th Street," "Saving Private Ryan." These American Film Institute lists are always about spelling out the conventional wisdom.

How about some countervailing commentary? Tell me reasons why these things that are supposed to be inspiring are not inspiring and why something that isn't trying to manipulate us into feelings of elevated hopefulness is actually inspiring. Critique the whole concept of "inspiring" as something good about art/entertainment. Please, do anything except take this list they way they want you to take it. Be the antidote.

UPDATE: Here's the whole 100. And here's my GlennReynolds.com post on this theme. (It should be up soon.) [It's up.]

The world's largest photograph.

It will be 31 feet by 111 feet and will take 10 days to develop. It will use 20 gallons of emulsion, 200 gallons of black-and-white developer solution, and 600 gallons of fixer. What image is worth this grand effort? El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Why that? Because the hangar is the camera.

June 14, 2006

"I'm just trying to swallow my outrage at your placement of an image on the front page."

Metafilter goes wild after a front page post displays a tiny red moving dot and Mathowie declines to delete it. Keep scrolling.

TV.

Is there anything good on? I kind of like to watch an hour or two of TV at night, but everything I was watching just ended. "American Idol," "The Apprentice," "Top Chef," "The Sopranos," "Big Love" -- all gone. I'm reduced to watching episodes of "I Shouldn't Be Alive" the TiVo dragged in weeks ago.

UPDATE: "So You Think You Can Dance?" is on. Shall we watch?

Sorry, I originally put this update on the next post by mistake.

There's one thing about So You Think You Can Dance?" that scares me off: Mary's teeth. I can't understand them. Are they plastic teeth that fit on over her real teeth? She seems to need to bite them together to keep them in place. And they are so huge. And so white.

Why don't they make a reality shows about teeth? "Top Teeth," "So You Think You Have Teeth?," "America's Scariest Teeth"....

Zarqawi's body.

An argument against returning it to his family.

Strangest thing Bob Dylan said on the new "Theme Time Radio Hour" today.

The theme was: Fathers. Toward the end of the show Bob always reads and answers what he says is an email message he's received. Today, he says: "I got an email from Johnny Depp in France. He asks who was the father of Communism?" Bob answers it's Karl Marx and proceeds to say a few things about Karl Marx's relationship with his own children.

Hey, why pick on dear, sweet Johnny? Is it something about this picture?

Memorable songs from today's show:

The Temptations, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." What a great song!

The Winstons, "Color Him Father." Really touching lyrics:
My real old man he got killed in the war
And she knows she and seven kids couldn't have got very far
She said she thought that she could never love again
And then there he stood with that big wide grin
He married my mother and he took us in
And now we belong to the man with that big wide grin

Think I'll color this man father
I think I'll color him love

Julie London, "Daddy" ("I want a diamond ring, bracelets, everything..."). Before playing it, Bob quoted the lines "Here's an amazing revelation/With a bit of stimulation/I'd be a great sensation/I'd be your inspiration," and I thought that sounded like sequence of rhymes Bob himself would do. But in fact, Bob has only used one of those four words in a song, and it wasn't at the end of a line.

Julie London song that could have been on today's playlist but wasn't: "My Heart Belongs To Daddy."

My father adored Julie London. Growing up, I was deeply affected by album covers like this:

Flickr is doing a juried show in NYC.

And Chris is looking for your advice.

"This is not a crowd that rides the highs and lows."

But they are enjoying the "the spate of good news" at the White House.

"You're Pitiful."

New, from Weird Al. (Via Entertainment Weekly.)

"I hate it."

Tom Friedman on TimesSelect. (Via Kausfiles.)

Vexed about lollipops?

Arise, vexillologists!

"It was Nan Rehnquist's death, then, that in effect changed Supreme Court -- and American -- history."

Writes Noel Augustyn, who was Rehnquist's administrative assistant in the late 1980s. The quote appears at the end of an article by Tony Mauro that surveys various recent writings assessing the work of the late Chief Justice.

June 13, 2006

Small talk.

We were just talking about small talk. Some people hate small talk, but I think most people like it if it's on subjects that inspire them to lighten up and open up, which is the point of small talk, isn't it? So here's my question -- a visualization exercise, really. Imagine that you're going to be in a situation where there will be a lot of small talk. Picture yourself really enjoying the small talk. What 5 subjects came up in the conversation?

"She wondered if a Republican's marrow had save[d] her body."

The beautiful folksinger Mary Travers, a Democrat, had her life saved.

"I have expressed our country's desire to work with you but I appreciate you recognize the fact that the future of your country is in your hands."

Bush in Baghdad.

Maliki's response: "God willing, all of the suffering will be over, and all of the soldiers will be able to return to their countries with our gratitude for what they have offered."

The lethal injection case.

Linda Greenhouse writes about yesterday's lethal injection case, Hill v. McDonough:
The case was filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1871 [Section 1983, which] permits suits against government officials for violation of rights guaranteed by the Constitution or federal laws.

The lower federal courts dismissed the suit, however, on the ground that the only way for an inmate to challenge the method by which he is to be executed is through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus....

In his opinion for the Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Kennedy said ... that while a habeas corpus petition was the only way to challenge the constitutionality of a sentence, Mr. Hill was challenging not his "lethal injection sentence as a general matter," but only the way in which the sentence was to be carried out.
As the unanimous opinion indicates, this is the clear right answer (in a troublesome area of jurisdictional doctrine). Left for another day is the underlying question about the substance of the 8th Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. There the question is how well the different chemicals work. Do they really block the pain or do they only cause the subject to appear to be feeling nothing? As the article says, the Court recently turned down a case that presented the question directly and has avoided intervening in a number of executions where the issue could have been raised.

IN THE COMMENTS: This painting gets discussed:

Rove!

Once again, he escapes the forces of justice! Oh, the pain that will wrack the lefty blogosphere today!

"From an evolutionary perspective, the potential for physical threat from a male is greater than that from a female."

Here's another one of those articles about the difference between men and women:
Trying to get someone's attention? Looking angry may be the key. The face most likely to stand out in a crowd is an irate one, according to a new study, and men are better than women at picking up the anger that a face conveys.

On the other hand, women are more adept at detecting more socially relevant expressions that communicate happiness, sadness, surprise and disgust....

Detecting the angry man in a sea of faces, the authors say, has a survival advantage for both sexes.

"From an evolutionary perspective," [postdoctoral fellow Mark A. Williams and psychology professor Jason B. Mattingley] write, "the potential for physical threat from a male is greater than that from a female."

So any perceptual system that helps detect an angry man is an advantage.
That seems rather glib and over-committed to evolutionary biology. One could just as well crank out a theory that women today have learned to blunt their perception of anger in faces so that they can form and preserve relationships with men. Even within the evolutionary theorizing: Why is it more helpful to a man to see anger? If the man is more able to fight, and the woman needs to rely more on fleeing, then the woman has the greater advantage in quickly perceiving anger.

I don't like the way sociobiologists observe something and then generate a reason why it would have had a survival advantage. If they'd observed the opposite, they'd have been able to generate a reason to support it too. The fixed point is their belief that the quality they've discovered exists at a biological level, and it's easy enough to make everything fit.

(People who think everything is socially constructed are at least as irritating.)

Grade-skipping.

That's the old-fashioned alternative to "accelerated" classes and "tracking" for the "gifted." It's making a comeback.

There's some real justice to it. If you can do more work earlier, aren't you entitled to finish the task -- in this case, high school -- earlier? Why should you be burdened with additional work? It's like what I hate most about a 9 to 5 job: You don't get off early for getting a lot done.

I remember when grade-skipping went out of fashion. It was right around the time when I was in grade school. My mother told me later that they wanted me to skip, and she was adamantly against it. I was outraged that I wasn't asked and that I was stuck with a whole extra year of sitting in a classroom. She knew better. She had been skipped back in the old days, during the Depression. (She went to college at 16.) Based on her experience, she felt sure she knew skipping was bad.

Now, I know I wouldn't exist if she hadn't been skipped! She would not have graduated from college when she did and gone on to the situation in which she met my father. But you can't make a list of all the things that set the stage for your conception and count them as good. This is especially clear in my case: My parents met in the Army in WWII. Still, I regretted not skipping! The whole explanation was a social one, as if life will be so wonderful if only you're surrounded by kids your own age.

So now, some experts are saying go ahead and skip kids again.

It is stunningly efficient. You don't have to set up special classes for the quicker students, and the students themselves have their time saved. And I like that idea that these students are just going faster, replacing the idea that they are gifted, belonging in a separate room, on a separate track. "Gifted" sounds preening and even rather religious. It sounds as though there's something wrong with giving the student credit for achievement.

Getting to go faster because you're actually getting the work done faster has a more egalitarian feel to it. All kids can understand the concept, which is similar to the idea that if you finish your homework an hour early, you can do whatever you want for an hour. It's a nice incentive. Imagine if kids were told: If you finish your homework an hour early, we'll give you an extra hour's worth of homework. So letting the quick kids finish early ought to inspire the other kids to try to get their work done fast. Wouldn't that be better than for them to see those kids given harder work?

UPDATE: Lawprof Tung Yin, who did skip, says maybe it's different for boys. He notes that he was originally one of the younger kids in his class so he was really young after the skip. That was also true of my mother, and one of the reasons I was especially upset with her judgment was that I was always one of the oldest kids. I would have just taken a normal place among the youngest unskipped kids, which probably would have been a nice advantage for a girl.

"If you are sane, come celebrate the moment with us, but if not, get prepared to mourn more demons."

Mohammed Fadhil of Iraq the Model has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the reaction to Zarqawi's death -- by Iraqi and non-Iraq Arabs.

June 12, 2006

Working at home.

Ah, summer.

Working at home.

Working at home.

One second ads.

One second ads!

"Loving the large... and also the small."

That's the title of my first post this week guest-blogging for Glenn Reynolds on MSNBC.com. Go see how Taylor Hicks and several other reality show stars fit in with Justice Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts in a post that's largely about large breasts. I'm trying to start off big. And small.

Is it legal to fire a woman because her breasts are too large?

Here's a lawsuit charging sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal -- in the very particular case of a dancer hired for a role in an ensemble, whose breasts later became enlarged. It's the reverse of the story of the dancer in "A Chorus Line" who sings the song "Dance, Ten, Looks, Three," about not getting hired until she got herself enhanced. In this case, it should be noted, the dancer, Alice Alyse says she did not have surgery.
Musical theater is an entertainment outlet that routinely depicts women as sexpots, curvy dimwits and window dressing -- so if you believe Alyse's account, the hypocrisy is evident. Allegedly getting fired for the prudish-sounding sin of busting out of one's costume is even more surprising given that Tharp's all-dance spectacular bumps and grinds from start to finish. With Joel's rock-and-roll framing a Vietnam-era loss-of-innocence tale, the show ["Movin' Out"] rides on an orgy of go-go.

But the dance world doesn't necessarily view such firing decisions as hypocritical; they are merely business as usual. The Body Police enforce specifications that have nothing to do with the ability to perform. Some women have resorted to breast reduction to conform with the slim standards of ballet. Anastasia Volochkova, a leading ballerina at Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, made headlines two years ago over a similar issue, when she was fired for being too fat (at a reported weight of 110 pounds). She sued for damages and was unsuccessful, though she did get her job back.

Alyse is fighting back with a $100 million lawsuit that names Tharp, the production stage manager and the show's producers among the defendants (though not Joel). And if the dollar amount weren't attention-getting enough, Alyse has hired onetime Washington gadfly Larry Klayman, a notoriously combative attorney who, judging from his record, relishes a scandal. Klayman, founder of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, became famous for suing the Clinton administration over numerous alleged coverups and conspiracies. More recently, he has taken on top Republicans, including Vice President Cheney, over his secretive energy task force.
Oh, that's rich! I really didn't expect to find Cheney in this article. Or Judicial Watch. Apparently, they're watching out for things watched more commonly than judges.
In the suit, [Klarman] reconstructs the alleged comments of production stage manager Eric Sprosty when he first saw Alyse outside the wardrobe fitting room after she returned to the show. Such as: "We hired you at a size C and now you're a [expletive] D!... You need to lose those boobs now!"

"He was screaming at me and I was apologizing," Alyse says of her run-in with Sprosty, her forehead crinkling at the thought. "I was being apologetic that I had boobs. I thought, 'I'm going to lose my job -- and I'm still skinny!' "

"It's a virtue to have bigger breasts on Broadway, in my expert opinion," Klayman observes one balmy evening, over dinner with Alyse at a seaside restaurant called Bongos.
Wait a second... I need to laugh....
Yet big breasts cannot truly be said to be a virtue for a dancer, unless her routine includes thigh-high boots and a pole. The Ziegfeldian hourglass shape has flattened out over time. On current stages, in the view of many directors and choreographers, a B cup might be just sexy enough, while a D may be too much. From ballet companies to Broadway, the preferred look is slender, long-stemmed and minimally jiggly. Especially when we're talking about fitting into a group, whether a kick line or the corps de ballet.
Yes, come on. It's distracting. It's an aesthetic judgment.
God forbid anyone should stick out. Prevailing theater wisdom warns that an ensemble dancer must not distract, and in many shows, that means buxom chorines no longer need apply. A D cup, according to Roberta Stiehm, a musical theater veteran, could commit the major no-no of pulling focus.

"I want to stick up for this girl," said Stiehm, a Maryland ballet and Pilates teacher who had featured roles in "Cats" and "A Chorus Line." "But I have to tell you, what if Pamela Anderson were a great dancer? You couldn't use her.
But good thing there are fancy lawyers willing to stick up for those who stick out.

Wow, this article goes on and on. Washington Post articles have a way of doing that. And how often do you get a chance at a subject like this? It's very complex, with lots of angles, and it's about big breasts!

But read to the end. The dancer is actually quite sympathetic.

"His case is going to hell in public opinion. He's suffering death by a thousand cuts."

The NYT looks at the long, puzzling silence of Michael B. Nifong, the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse team rape case:
Several lawyers who know Mr. Nifong say he is no showboat and is a highly ethical prosecutor. But other lawyers said he was too rigid, too inflexible. Julian Mack, a lawyer in Durham who represented a member of the lacrosse team who was not charged, said: "He jumps to conclusions, makes up his mind, and that's it. His personality is that he's very stubborn."

[H. Wood Vann, a lawyer in Durham,] said Mr. Nifong could drop the case, but the political price would be high. "He'd have hell to pay from the African-American community," he said. "They'd say, 'Give her her day in court. What do you have to lose? If you lose, at least the jury made the decision.' So he's kind of stuck."
What do you have to lose? It's frightening to think of a prosecutor taking that attitude. And it seems that hell is already demanding payment.

How the Guantanamo suicides planned and coordinated their actions.

If accurate, doesn't this support the government's theory that these were warriors maneuvering and not individuals despairing?

Extra blogging... vacations...

I'm going to guest-blog over at GlennReynolds.com this week, while Glenn is off vacationing -- something you can barely tell by looking at Instapundit. I haven't put anything up yet. And why don't I ever go on vacation? I barely went on vacation last summer and didn't take a winter or summer break vacation in the last academic year. And now I'm trying to force myself to plan something!

I could go to New York City, where my son is working this summer. Of the millions of things to do there, I could see "Jersey Boys," which just won the Tonys for Best Musical and Best Actor. I blogged about my love for The Four Seasons before you were ever reading this blog. I'll go on living and keep on forgiving/Because you were my first love. (They were the first group I loved. Do you even know the song I just quoted?) You know, I was slow becoming a Beatles fan because I found it so very hard to accept that any singing group could ever rival my dear idols The Four Seasons.

Anyway, I've got some extra blogging to do, a pile of work, and I really should plan a vacation. Feel free to offer suggestions on recent topics to reprise and expand over there and tips on how to force oneself to go on vacation.

UPDATE: I see Glenn's vacation ended up in a beach house without the promised WiFi and in the path of Hurricane Alberto. See, that's another thing about vacations. You're betting that it's going to be good, but you can lose the bet, and it's an expensive one.

June 11, 2006

Audible Althouse #53.

666! Don't be superstitious. How about a little wisdom? The question whether Althouse is the agent of Satan. She was for Taylor Hicks and Sean on "The Apprentice." And George W. Bush in the 2004 election! Reminiscing about sitting around watching the election returns sets off a secondary digression about Burger Chef, the defunct fast food restaurant where Althouse worked, long ago. How the Satanists are responding to 6/6/06. The man who yelled "God will save me, if he exists" as he crept into the lion's den (and his death). Naming the electric chair... and the lethal injection. Jim Morrison singing "Soft Parade." Architecture! Docents! Tattoos! Including a tattoo of a bathtub. You know, Jim Morrison died in a bathtub.

It's a new podcast. You can stream it right on your computer -- no iPod needed -- right here. But all the cool people subscribe on iTunes:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

Visitors from around the world.

I'm intrigued by the Site Meter "world map," which shows where in the world my last 100 or 500 visitors came from. You see the dots all over the map, and you can click on them. If you do, you can see the "referring URL." Often, I'm touched. At first. Someone in Egypt is reading me. Why did they come here? I've been hanging out on Site Meter long enough to understand those visitors from around the world.

"Ack! It’s the Holy Fellowship of the Orange Lanyard!"

Tim Blair giggles at the innocent, self-loving kids at YearlyKos.

"When all else fails, we can whip the horse's eyes..."

Rarely, so rarely -- perhaps only this once -- am I driving alone in my car, listening to a song on the radio, and a line comes up that makes me burst out laughing. That line is at the very end of the long meandering song "Soft Parade," by The Doors. It's an awfully silly song that takes itself incredibly seriously, but I was enjoying the long lost psychedelia of it all, quite absorbed in the elaborate Zappa-esque instrumentation and tolerating Morrison's absurd self-importance until he switched to declamation for the final: "When all else fails, we can whip the horse's eyes/And make them sleep, and cry." If there is a more ridiculous song ending in the history of rock and roll, I can't think what it could possibly be.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some pretty damned good defense of Morrison's image using some high-tone literary references.

Polydream.

Hey, listen to Polydream.



The guy on the extreme left is Brit Rice, half of the the musical force behind the Audible Althouse theme song. So, really, fans of the podcast, go listen. The photo is by John Althouse Cohen, the other half.

"It's a very easy way to express something that you think represents part of your identity..."

"... that you don't have to tell someone but you can just have seen." It's a very easy way to express something that you thought represented part of your identity that will still be seen when you don't think that anymore. If I were a young, failing artist again, I'd learn how to tattoo. And I'd specialize in custom designs that add material to existing tattoos to make them express what the person with the inky skin thinks represents part of his identity now.

ADDED: As I've said before, "tattoos remind you of death," and I love the idea of your body -- your body, not mine -- as a game of Exquisite Corpse.

"I think Roberts and Alito are both men who are open to arguments, and I would trust them to think long and hard about this."

Conservative opinion on racial balancing in schools is softer than affirmative action opponents might think.

Explosive-anger disorder.

An awful lot of people have it, and, amazingly enough, the broader it's defined, the more people have it. So the question is, how many people do you want to have it?

"Not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. characterizes the three suicides that just took place at the Guantanamo prison.