July 15, 2006

"Because you only let me take pictures of you when you're drunk."

Overheard, in a café this morning. I didn't hear the question that provoked this answer, so I'm just offering it up as a contest. You compose the question, you know, like in those New Yorker caption writing contests, which I despise. The reason I don't despise my own little contest is not (just) because it's mine, but because The New Yorker uses some damned picture that was drawn without a caption in mind, the readers come up with such poor ideas, and The New Yorker keeps doing it in spite of the nauseating mediocrity. On the other hand, I really did hear this quote, so there is a true answer somewhere out there lost in the past, and you will probably have some good ideas, and I'm not going to keep doing this if you don't.

IN THE COMMENTS: Lots of funny suggestions, but I'm going to declare a winner. It's AJ Lynch for
"How come we get always get drunk before we have sex?"

Books, umbrellas, shopping, fashion, tattoos, religion.

Here in Madison, Wisconsin:

Outdoor Book Shopping

There's a lot of hot sun today, so shop in the shade, find a nice book and get into some air conditioning to do your reading:

Outdoor Book Shopping

Or just read the blogs and look at the pictures. And think about adding some commentary. A little fashion criticism, perhaps. Or ponder things religious, like does Jesus appreciate that tattoo?

Cross tattoo

When this young woman felt her skin pierced by the tattoo needle, did she think it was a fitting tribute to Christ?

As for that manly-esque leg.... just looking at it is suffering enough for me.

"The problem for Kevin Barrett is that a lot of politicians who hate the University of Wisconsin listen to loony, right-wing radio shows."

Joel McNally, columnist for The Capital Times (our afternoon newspaper here in Madison), aims his mental apparatus at the problem of having a 9/11 denialist teach an introductory course on Islam here at the University of Wisconsin.

And the Cap Times editors go after Mark Green:
The Republican candidate for governor objected to the decision of University of Wisconsin Provost Patrick Farrell to allow lecturer Kevin Barrett to continue teaching on campus.

"(Not) a dime of either taxpayer or tuition dollars should be going to facilitate Mr. Barrett telling students that the September 11 attacks were a creation of the U.S. government," Green declared. "Mr. Barrett can dwell all he wants on the fringe left of society, but he should not be doing it under the banner of the University of Wisconsin."...

How would the Republican's response be distinguished from that of the Democratic governor who expressed disdain for Barrett's ideas but accepted that UW officials have leeway in these matters?

Does Green think he could overrule Farrell? If so, would he have done so?

Would Green cut UW funding to punish the institution for failing to meet his demands?

Would Green appoint regents who are explicitly opposed to academic freedom and the UW tradition of encouraging the "continual and fearless sifting and winnowing" of ideas and information as part of the search for truth?

Mark Green has made some pretty bold statements about the UW.

Now the man who would be governor needs to explain how he would actually respond to challenging circumstances on campus.
Hey, I have the same questions! I'm not surprised that the Cap Times's favorite angle on this is how bad right-wingers are, but in fact the elections are more important than one part-time instructor teaching one course that no one has to take. (I urge students to participate in the marketplace of ideas by choosing a better course to spend their time on. You have the power to strand Mr. Barrett in an empty lecture hall.)

If Mark Green is going to hurt the University of Wisconsin there is no way I'm going to support him.

Smelling the truthiness.

Via Etch-a-Sketch.


Hilarious Google referral of the day....

... where I came up third in a pretty funny idea for a search and the number one hit is a joke in the form of a question that conjures up an image that makes me laugh out loud.

The view from my desk...

... is an infinite regression.

I hope you can resist falling into the void. Me, I plan to fall into the real world for a while today and do that life-living thing I've heard so much about. But you, you're being mesmerized by Althouse Vlog #4. Only 1 minute and 16 seconds, but 100% vloggy goodness.

The microphone drops out a phrase at one point -- my fault for setting up conflicting preferences. The phrase is "cut down in the Civil War."

It's too much stress.

Mark DelCore, the plaintiff who filed a case demanding accommodations for his stress-caused injury, tells reporters why he may not continue the lawsuit. Note: it's the man who claims a right to sunbathe nude with his dog.

"I have to decide whether the amount of energy I am spending on this makes it worthwhile."

Do people who bring frivolous lawsuits ever think about whether their consumption of public resources is worthwhile?

The dog -- whose name is Cheekies -- was not brought to court. Presumably, DelCore knew enough not to press his luck by toting Cheekies to court. But the judge must nevertheless realize that if emotional support pets are covered by policy that applies to trained service animals like Seeing Eye dogs, many stressed out witnesses and parties and perhaps even lawyers will be stroking ragged lapdogs in the courtroom.

Well, so, anyway... DelCore is stressed out about the lawsuit, perhaps because the news reports are subjecting him to ridicule. What did he expect? Perhaps, this is what he wanted. He is a bodybuilder. He could be a publicity hound. Or just a publicity rat terrier.

July 14, 2006

There's kind of a theme here today...

Don't you think? Althouse Vlog #3 explains:



Where is the ninki-nanka?

Cryptozoology is a risky business: "there seems to be this thing when you see the ninki-nanka you will die usually within a few weeks."

"It's a large, hallucinatory square of spectacular gold filigree."

"Adele looks almost as if she has inserted her head into one of those carnival cutouts, her thin face partly cast in shadow, obscured by the glare. Her lips are parted, eyelids heavy, cheeks pink."

The Klimt portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is now on view at the Neue Galerie.

That description gives me an idea for a new effect that could be added to Apple's Photo Booth, which currently allows you to take a picture of yourself -- as you idle away the minutes in front of your computer -- with an effect like this:

Photo Booth

"Gay man sues for right to tan naked with his terrier."

Well, what's your favorite Daily New headline of the day?

And come on, it's got to have at least as much merit as the Plame lawsuit I didn't talk about in the previous post.

And read the linked article for a return to an old Althouse blog theme: the emotional support pet.

Also, is there any relevance to the fact that the man is gay? The Daily News seems to think so. The guy, on the other hand, seems to think the 9/11 terror attacks are relevant to his need to be nude on the beach with his dog.

Terror and the terrier. You figure it out.

This is not a bear.

Nina treks the Canadian Rockies.

Don't Plame me....

... if I don't wanna talk about the Plame civil suit. Has anyone ever sought more attention about wanting to be unknown? It's uncanny.

ADDED: Here's a test of whether Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame are sincere in seeking damages for what they say is a wrongful behavior. If the defendants were to agree to settle the case this way, would they agree to have a neutral arbiter calculate the amount they made because of what has happened to them and the amount they would have made if it had not happened, and have the defendants pay them the difference if the second number is larger, and have them pay the defendants the difference if the first number is larger?

CORRECTION MADE: That's was "neutral arbiter," not "neutral artbiter," but I assure you, I have a whole program of performance art based on typos, and I will be neutrally artbiting soon, in your town.

Defend yourself...

Against hypercorrecting grammarians. (Via Boing Boing.)

"Save us all from certain death?"

"Less talk, more action."

(Via EW, which interviews Al Gore, who says, "I didn't see how the slide show could be a movie.")

"Less is more."

Eugene riffs.

"The poster for the show was creepy, too."

"It had all these plants growing out from what looked like a coffin."

July 13, 2006

Audible Althouse #58.

Material things -- computer, camera, car, radio -- and spiritual things -- found via hallucinogens and old songs that maybe you only heard once or you heard many times years ago.

Here's the podcast page. Here's the place to live-stream. But all the cool people subscribe:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

"Project Runway"!

It's back. Season Three. Did you watch the opening two shows? I saw it last night when I was very tired, so I'm not sure I absorbed it all that well. So, just a few stray observations:

1. Malan is sooooooo annoying. Was he put on the show just because he was that annoying and willing to go about being so openly annoying all the time? I've got a bit too much of a feeling that he deliberately presented himself that way to get onto the show and it worked. I don't want to reward that by enjoying him. But isn't it absurd to spend any time thinking about reality show ethics? I'm going to argue no, it's not. We're talking about a world in which you are already watching the show, devoting your attention to it. You might as well benefit from the pleasurable side effects of having a human brain. This sophisticated organ can be exploited for sheer, pointless fun.

2. That guy with the writing tattoo'd all over his neck? I'm fed up to here with looking at his neck! Why would you go and mess up your whole neck like that? How can his judgment about anything be trusted?

3. That basket-hat guy who looks like the young Elton John? Vincent. We're worried about him. But I bet he pulls it together. Andrae seemed loony in that crying jag scene early in Season 2, but he turned out to have a sound mind to go along with his brimming emotions. (Similar: Dave on "Top Chef.") I don't think they'd edit in so much footage if he really was mentally compromised.

4. I hated seeing everyone ripping up the apartment to show their dedication to competition. Ordinarily, in the past, contestants have had to scrimp or be judicious in gathering raw material. You'd have X amount of money in a particular store, in most cases. Here, it was first come, first served, and players greedily stuffed as much as they could into their bags. It reminded me of one of that old supermarket shopping spree game show where they put all the hams in the cart. Too ugly! And then we were supposed to laugh that they had to deal with the consequences of their own destruction by having to live in their ruined apartments!

5. The woman that got kicked off? Well, of course, she deserved it. She didn't know how to work a sewing machine! And no one wants to wear grandmother's underpants...

ADDED: A commenter offers this link of an NPR interview with WaPo fashion critic Robin Givhan. She refers to a new column of hers... ah, here it is. There's a lot about Malan -- Malan Breton: "Breton dresses in formal suits and wears his dark hair slicked back. He has the sleepy eyes of Macaulay Culkin and a self-conscious accent that sounds like a mix of Madonna, Martin Bashir and the Geico gecko." [Link fixed.]

What is this seeming compromise on the NSA surveillance program?

The NYT reports:
The White House has agreed to allow limited judicial review of the eavesdropping program run by the National Security Agency, Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a White House spokeswoman said today.

Mr. Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who has sharply questioned the propriety of the program since it was disclosed several months ago, said the White House had agreed to a bill that provides for the highly secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to “consider the program as a whole and to make a decision on it.”...

A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said today that a crucial factor in the agreement was that the bill “recognizes the president’s constitutional authority."...

Mr. Specter held a Capitol Hill news briefing after informing members of his committee about the agreement. He told panel members that the proposed bill would, among other things, demand that government investigators explain why they believe intercepted communications involve terrorism and create new penalties if officials misuse information....

Asked whether the review by the court would be continuing or a one-time affair, the senator said it would be the latter, unless the eavesdropping program is changed. “What we’re looking for is the existing program to be submitted to the F.I.S.A. Court on a one-time review; they make a decision, that’s it,” Mr. Specter said. He declined to speculate on whether the court would announce its decision.
I'd like to see more information on this, but based on this report, I can't tell what the court is being asked to do or who is supposed to have standing to bring the lawsuit the bill purports to authorize. A one-time review of the legality of the program? Who is suing whom in this lawsuit, and how does it avoid the problem encountered in Raines v. Byrd, where Congress tried to set up judicial review of the Line-Item Veto Act? Even if there is a concretely injured plaintiff to bring the lawsuit, what is the question the court is to answer? I thought the primary legal argument against the NSA program was that it didn't follow the letter of the statutory law. If the statutory law is changed to explicitly permit it, what is left? A Fourth Amendment argument? Does anyone think there is much to that?

"[T]he proposed bill would... demand that government investigators explain why they believe intercepted communications involve terrorism." In a one-time review? So the bill authorizes the program, but on condition the government proffer a good-enough explanation that it is indeed a method for tracking terrorists. Isn't that just a policy decision that Congress should be making right now as it passes a bill that authorizes the program? Please argue with me. I'm sure I'm missing something. But I'm just seeing a complete fizzle when this gets into the court.

Porsche Boxster vs. Mercedes SLK.

Okay, car fans. Please compare the Porsche Boxster and the Mercedes SLK. I'm just sitting here waiting for my Audi TT Coupe to be serviced. I'm halfway through the lease on this car and browsing around the new car showrooms, wondering, if I'm not replacing my Audi TT Coupe with another Audi TT Coupe, what is my next car? I want a beautiful, exciting car, but I live in Wisconsin, and I need to deal with some ice and snow. The Audi TT Coupe is rock solid. I can't help feeling that there's nothing to compare to it. But the Boxster and the SLK are pretty nice. The Boxster is clearly more beautiful to me, but the SLK has a brilliantly retractable hard roof. The SLK tries awfully hard to get a racing car look to it, but the salesman was clear that it was meant to have less of a racing car feeling to it than the Boxster. So, obviously, the Boxster, right? No, he said that in response to my ice-and-snow question. I sat in the SLK, and I got the feeling it was designed for a much larger, taller person than me. (I'm 5'5".) So... advice?

"University of Wisconsin crazy professor."

Just a Google search where I come in #1, as I noticed this morning from my Site Meter referrals page. The search takes you to this post, but the more vivid ongoing comments discussion is on this post, where I was struck by something Sippican Cottage wrote yesterday at 11:59, after some dissection of conspiracy theory points: "You're all f*cking evil to say these things for your own amusement or personal and political gain." I responded: "I've been continually saying the theory is crazy or nutty, but I think that's a big pulled punch. I think the smart people involved in propagating it know they are lying."

ADDED: And then there's the Google Search of the Day for me, where I'm not just #1, I'm the only one.

UPDATE: Here's an op-ed in the local newspaper about Barrett, written by UW history grad student Patrick Michelson. Excerpt:
Academic freedom rightly protects scholars who wish to examine controversial issues and unfashionable ideas. But Barrett's conspiracy theories do not fall into those categories. His assertions are not informative, enlightening, or even provocative. At best they are delusions - at worst, lies - that he tells to promote a personal agenda. The University of Wisconsin should have treated them as such.

"It is a great national day that will be registered in the history of Iraq."

The transfer of power in Muthanna.

That Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad.

Watch this new ad for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Try to put yourself in the frame of mind of a person who isn't committed to either party, and see how you react. At Ankle Biting Pundits, they're assuming this is such a plainly despicable ad that it will backfire. But I think it's an effective ad, although, absurdly, what's most effective is the voice of Bill Clinton. The effect of Bill Clinton, to me, is so strong that it blocked out my memory of everything else in the commercial. I went back and watched it a second time to keep track of my response. The ominous, pounding music was baldly manipulative. The series of images is so clearly meant to make you think yes, everything really is terrible.... and it's the Republicans' fault that the manipulation is easy to resist. A hurricane map? As if forces of nature are part of a big plot! But, when we hear the familar voice say "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America"... well, it seems there is nothing wrong with this commercial that cannot be cured by what we really loved about Bill Clinton.

(I'm just being honest. Go ahead and insist that Bill Clinton is contemptible, but you'll be missing the point. )

UPDATE: The DCCC has pulled the ad for the reason chezDiva brings up in the fourth comment here: the use of the flag-draped coffins of soldiers.

"She does not project a sense of what is inside of her like her husband did."

WaPo has a front page story about how people have their doubts about Hillary Clinton as President.

Other quotes from the article: "People want to see authentic human beings, and she has overly managed herself." "It seems that her public image is different from her private image." "I find her too stiff and packaged."

All these quotes say roughly the same thing: That she's phony. But isn't that standard for a politician? Why is it a special problem for her? That's the question. Is it because we're so much more likely to compare her to Bill Clinton? But it's odd for us to think of him as the model of honesty! Perhaps we should prefer a leader whose falseness is easily perceived.

IN THE COMMENTS: We start with a good laugh.

"Today, 'slut,' even 'ho' -- girls use it in a fun way, a positive way."

So says Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Atoosa Rubenstein.
Beyond the word itself, cultivating an exhibitionistic, slutty appearance — donning the trappings of promiscuity as opposed to actually being promiscuous — has been a growing influence on fashion and popular culture for a decade.
Biggest cultural development: This long fashion/culture piece contains no reference to Madonna. Am I telling you to go read this whole NYT article? It's a rambling grab bag of observations about young women and sluttery. And I don't mean that as a compliment.

IN THE COMMENTS: Thecla Mauro writes:
While shopping for my ten year old neice one day I overheard one mother say to another, of her eight year old daughter (standing right beside her) "she has a sexy little body, why shouldn't she show it off?"

The mother was busily looking through racks of 'ho clothes for her child. Blew my mind.
For more Mauro, read her blog. For more talk about this subject, read the comments.

Look at us!

No, don't look at us!

We're important!

No, we're nobodies, and you've got some weird obsession if you think we're worth talking about.

July 12, 2006

Speaking of drugs....

This is brilliant... and harrowing.


Do I even have to tell you where I saw this?


"Cuter than Glenn Reynolds, less cute than Markos Moulitsas."

Alex Pareene (of Wonkette) answers the question: "Would you say you're cute? Pretty? Hot? Beautiful?"

Read the whole FishbowlDC interview. Photo of Pareene at the link, so you can decide for yourself what's the true order of cuteness for Glenn, Kos, and Alex. I'll just say that Alex's photo looks like it belongs on the back cover of "Bringing It All Back Home." That's completely distracting me.

"Pure awareness... merging with ultimate reality, a transcendence of time and space, a feeling of sacredness or awe..."

Funded by the federal government, scientists study the effects of psilocybin:
Psilocybin's effects lasted for up to six hours, [said Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine]. Twenty-two of the 36 volunteers reported having a "complete" mystical experience, compared to four of those getting methylphenidate [Ritalin].

That experience included such things as a sense of pure awareness and a merging with ultimate reality, a transcendence of time and space, a feeling of sacredness or awe, and deeply felt positive mood like joy, peace and love. People say "they can't possibly put it into words," Griffiths said.

Two months later, 24 of the participants filled out a questionnaire. Two-thirds called their reaction to psilocybin one of the five top most meaningful experiences of their lives. On another measure, one-third called it the most spiritually significant experience of their lives, with another 40 percent ranking it in the top five.

About 80 percent said that because of the psilocybin experience, they still had a sense of well-being or life satisfaction that was raised either "moderately" or "very much."
So legalize it. Don't you care about religious freedom? Don't you think that at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Griffith, I should note, is very clear that your should absolutely not use this drug on your own. Its very power is the reason why you can't be trusted. Maybe you'd better be refrain from thinking about God and life and death on your own too. You know, it can be frightening even in a very controlled setting.

"Bean fest, but not Times Square... insect zoo but not the Statue of Liberty."

This really is shameful.

Bob's flower theme.

Bob's theme today -- on "Theme Time Radio With Bob Dylan" -- was, officially, flowers. But nearly every song was about roses. What happened? Did he start out with roses as the theme and run short? He missed plenty of rose songs, though. He did not play "Kiss From a Rose" or "The Yellow Rose of Texas" or even "some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed blah blah blah in the spring becomes the rose." There's "Sally Go Round the Roses" and "Roses Are Red" and "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." There must be a thousand rose songs he didn't play.

To fill in his non-rose slots, he used two grass songs. I don't think grass ought to count as a flower. Then the only other plant/flower I remember him doing was tulips. In keeping with the first syllable of the word, he played two tulip songs. Duke Ellington, "Tulip or Turnip." And Tiny Tim, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips."

I felt that "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" was the emotional high point of the show. We know from reading "Chronicles" that Bob Dylan was friends with Tiny Tim, and introducing the song, he swept aside the superficial view of Tim as just a joke. He was a great historian of music, Dylan said. He knew a lot of songs that were available only on sheet music, and when he died, he took a lot of songs with him. It's not like Tim died in a fire of burning sheet music, so I don't really understand how the music was lost, but it felt very profound and poignant when Dylan said it.

At the end of the show last week, when this week's theme was announced, I tried to guess which songs he'd play. The first flower song that sprang to my mind was that atrocious song about going to San Francisco and making sure you show up already besprigged with flowers. Then I thought of the song that deeply enchanted me when I was a young girl: "Sweet Violets." I wrote about it back here, embedded in a long simulblog of an episode of "American Idol" where the contestants had to sing songs from the year they were born:
I start thinking about what songs would be available to me, if I could be on the show. I'm way too old and I'm a horrible singer, but still ... Here's the list from my year, and my song from that list is "Sweet Violets." I remember hearing it once. I was in bed and overheard my parents playing it. I loved it deeply and the next day asked my parents about it. They told me, it was not for children and I couldn't hear it. Was it about sex? Death? Oddly, though I've always remembered it, I have never bothered to find the song and listen to it. I can still hear it in my head from that one listen, but I've never heard it again. I rush over to iTunes. The Dinah Shore hit is not there (only a Mitch Miller version). Ah! here are the lyrics. It's a bizarrely veiled filthy song from the past! Good thing my parents protected me, or protected themselves from having to deal with my questions.
That's an unusual old song, and it has a flower other that rose, tulip, or grass. Too bad he missed it.

Next week the theme is cars. If I had to bet on one song -- taking into account that Bob likes to tell the life story of the singer -- I'd bet on "Rocket 88." But that wasn't the first car song that popped into my head when I heard the theme. (What was yours?) That was "Little GTO." Looking up the lyrics, I land right on a page of "Muscle Car Songs." Nice! I should have thought of "409" first. My office number was 409 for a long time, and I thought it was really cool that my room number was a Beach Boys song. Students would ask me what my office number was, and I liked to say "It's a Beach Boys song." No one ever said, "409!" But it would have made me happy if they had. I would have picked up good vibrations.

Having found a page of muscle car songs, I think of looking for a page of death car songs. That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track... I couldn't stop, so I swerved to the right... We were buggin' each other while we sat out the light/We both popped the clutch when the light turned green/You shoulda heard the whine from my screamin' machine!... Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!...

Wait. That last one's a motorcycle. Can motorcycles get in on the car theme -- the way grass got in on the flower theme? Or it motorcycle crashing a very special theme for Bob, due for it's own show some day.

Things I don't want to talk about.

Then why are you talking about them?

That's a mystery explored shallowly in the new vlog:

ADDED: Here's the link to BloggingHeads, so you'll get my reference to Mickey Kaus.

Even split on the gay marriage amendment.

A Wisconsin poll.
About 49 percent surveyed in the telephone poll conducted June 18-19 supported the amendment while 48 percent said they were opposed. The rest were undecided. The poll of 600 randomly selected adults has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Other polls conducted earlier this year have shown a higher percentage in favor of the proposal, typically around 60 percent in favor and 40 percent against.

There's a trend.
Wisconsin Republicans hope the issue will help them bring conservative and religious voters to the polls in their bid to defeat Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who opposes the ban. His Republican challenger, Mark Green, favors the constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows Doyle 13 percentage points ahead of Green. And, incredibly lamely, the Republicans don't even have a serious candidate running against Senator Herb Kohl. (But you can blame Tommy Thompson for that.)

Waiting for Kos.

I think this is a pretty cute -- if substanceless ad -- for Ned Lamont. But when we finally see the candidate, he's standing in front of a window, and I just kept looking at the window, waiting for Kos to show up.

So is this inadvertent, or a clever trick to get me to propagate the ad?

July 11, 2006

Title IX and the new male minority on campus.

John Tierney is writing about Title IX. (TimesSelect link.)
Suppose you’re the head of a school whose students belong to two ethnic groups, the Alphas and the Betas. The Alphas get better grades and are more likely to graduate. They dominate the school newspaper and yearbook, the band and the choir, the debate team and the drama club — virtually all extracurricular activities except for sports.

How much time would you spend worrying about the shortage of Alpha jocks?

Not much — unless, of course, the Alphas were women, the Betas were men, and you were being sued for not complying with Title IX. Then you would be desperately trying to end this outrageous discrimination.

When Title IX was enacted in 1972, women were a minority on college campuses, and it sounded reasonable to fight any discrimination against them. But now men are the underachieving minority on campus, as a series by The Times has been documenting. So why is it so important to cling to the myth behind Title IX: that women need sports as much as men do?
Good question!

Much of the material from the column that you can't reach without a NYT subscription comes from this article: "The New Gender Divide: Small Colleges, Short of Men, Embrace Football."
Officials at small colleges say that adding football raises campus morale and alumni contributions and gives an institution exposure in local or statewide media. But the biggest attraction remains football's ability to bring in male applicants....

At Utica College in upstate New York, which fielded its first football team in 2001, Mike Kemp, the coach, reaches out to the sons of working-class families who might not otherwise attend college.

"Hockey, lacrosse and tennis players, they all have money and 1,500 SAT scores," said Mr. Kemp, who brings about 70 players a year to Utica. "Those kids are going to college somewhere. But I come across high school football players from blue-collar backgrounds, and as seniors in high school, they're not sure what they're going to do. They're considering a college here or there. But if you give them a chance to keep playing football, then they get motivated to come."...

[Few] institutions adopting football said they were trying to show Title IX compliance through proportionality. They were relying on other options, which allow them either to demonstrate that they are accommodating the athletic interests and abilities of women or to exhibit a consistent expansion of opportunities for women....

Donna Lopiano, chief executive of the Women's Sports Foundation and a former college player, coach and administrator, said the trend toward small colleges adding football teams did not raise Title IX concerns by itself.

"But it accentuates the problem," Dr. Lopiano said. "Because Division III schools are already not in compliance. That was true before they started football." She added that colleges had an obligation to do more than conduct surveys, arguing that the creation of women's teams would lead to the recruitment of women in the same way it does for men.
I've got to run, as I'm doing a presentation at noon today. More about that later. In the meantime, I thought you'd like to discuss this. I'll try to add more commentary later. Perhaps by vlogging! Anyway, you folks can get the discussion started without me.

Kids' books.

I see Glenn Reynolds's daughter is reading the "All-of-a-Kind Family" series of books. That was my favorite when I was a child. I wrote about it here.

The UW 9/11 denialist appears on "Hannity and Colmes."

The day the university announced its decision to permit Kevin Barrett to teach the one course he was hired to teach, he appeared on "Hannity and Colmes," introduced by Alan Colmes as "University of Wisconsin professor Kevin Barrett." If those words had come out of Sean Hannity's mouth, it would have provided a good occasion to accuse Hannity of being slanted and out to paint UW as a bunch of radical crazies. But it came from Colmes, the show's liberal, so it's just a nice demonstration of how lots of folks don't notice the distinction between professors and lecturers, even part time lecturers like Barrett. He's teaching here. He's one of the professors as far as the general public is concerned.

Let's go to the videotape:

Colmes begins and tries to present Barrett in a fairly positive light by bringing out the facts that the course is not required, that the 9/11 conspiracy theory will take up "only about one week" of the course, that the students will not be required to "regurgitate" his theory, and that he means to inspire "critical thinking." (Smarter students, I note, may want to regurgitate.)

From the moment he begins speaking, Barrett twitches and jerks around quite oddly and speaks in a breathless, excited way. He tries to unload a torrent of words about the theory and won't stop to give Colmes a chance to get through his series of questions, which are quite clearly designed to put Barrett in a positive light. Barrett, however, is so keen on his theory, he'd rather spout conspiracy. He looks nutty even before Hannity starts the questions that are meant to trash him. That is, Barrett's a witness who mucks up the direct examination. It doesn't take cross-examination to bring out the problems.

When Hannity takes over, Barrett interrupts him in the middle of his first question. When Hannity insists on finishing the question, Barrett smugly goes "Yeah, yeah, finish up." On Hannity's show! As if he thinks the only people who are watching are folks who think Hannity's a jackass. Hannity asks him if he really believes 9/11 and other terrorists attacks were "an inside job." Barrett, inspiring no confidence that he will allow students to debate with him, says sharply, "I don't believe, I do know that 9/11 was an inside job." Barrett then tries to lay out the details of the theory. The word "thermate" comes out of his mouth. (It's supposed to be "thermite," but why be precise?) [ADDED: Apparently, there is something called "thermate," which, like thermite, has a role in the conspiracy theory.]

Hannity breaks in to say, "All right, so you believe that the buildings came down in a controlled demolition." Again, Barrett excludes the possibility of alternate theories: "Well, I don't believe it. I've looked at the evidence, and the evidence is overwhelming." Hannity's response is perfect: "All right, the evidence is overwhelming to you because you're a conspiracy nut." Hannity tries to set up his next question: "But putting that all aside..." That's perhaps the funniest line of the night, but it's stepped all over by Barrett, who motormouths conspiracy theory. Hannity goes ahead and asks his question with Barrett yammering over him. Hannity finally just lets the man babble. Then, he mutters, "Okay, I wish I had the 'Twilight Zone' music."

Hannity says, "Okay, here's my next question," and Barrett breaks in with a laugh and says "Okay, friend," and shrugs, looking quite pleased with himself, as if he believes he's getting the better of the exchange. As Hannity tries to ask the question, Barrett keeps interrupting, offering survey statistics that he seems to think show that people agree with him -- 60%! "You're in the minority," he tells Hannity. That is, we see Barrett garbling facts in real time, on camera.

Finally, Hannity gets Barrett to hear the question: Should extremists like you be allowed to teach? Barrett says: "No, you're the extremist. Fox News is the biggest bunch of extremists on the planet." He's got a huge laughing grin now. Hannity doesn't think Barrett should be teaching, and Barrett responds that he doesn't think Hannity should be on the air. "I think you guys should be taken off the airwaves, because you are the guys who are..." A desperate Colmes breaks in: "All right, we don't want to silence anybody...."

Colmes's attempt at the beginning to present Barrett in a good light by emphasizing that Barrett will bring debate and critical thinking to the classroom is all shot to hell. We've seen Barrett in action. Barrett retained his position here because we care about free speech values, but he slammed us in the face with his disrespect for free speech.

July 10, 2006

"One fears everywhere the competition of the expelled 'brainy' Jews. We are even more burdened by our strength than by our weakness."

New letters from the "wild-haired Jewish-German scientist, renowned for his theory of relativity," Albert Einstein. Despite the material that relates to the Holocaust, like the quote I pulled for this post title, the press highlights his sexual misdeeds: "Out of all the dames, I am in fact attached only to Mrs. L., who is absolutely harmless and decent."

Nasty blogging.

Are you watching this Frisch/Goldstein thing? Must we all stop and rubberneck at every bloody blogging collision? I mean, I truly enjoyed rubbernecking at this one. There's some nasty stuff out there, and it tends to propagate. Some folks -- notably Goldstein -- have control over the nasty. Others get a taste of the stuff and don't know where to stop.

"There was an undercurrent of fear in the comments of most of the other panelists..."

Cathy Gellis opines -- a little belatedly -- on the Bloggership conference.

News flash: Members of Congress are not above the law.

CNN reports:
Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said members of Congress are not above the law. He rejected requests from lawmakers and Democratic Rep. William Jefferson to return material seized by the FBI in a May 20-21 search of Jefferson's office....

"No one argues that the warrant executed upon Congressman Jefferson's office was not properly administered," Hogan wrote. "Therefore, there was no impermissible intrusion on the Legislature. The fact that some privileged material was incidentally captured by the search does not constitute an unlawful intrusion."

Beyond Fuel.

Chris Daughtry, whom we kinda loved last "American Idol" season, has a new deal better than the Fuel offer he turned down and, really, probably better than what the winner got.
[He] has signed with music mogul Clive Davis in conjunction with 19 Recordings Unlimited.... will form a band "and has already begun to work with A-list collaborators" to write and record material for an album, expected to be released later this year.

Good luck!

"Continual and fearless sifting and winnowing."

UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell announced that, after a review, 9/11 denialist Kevin Barrett will be allowed teach his course here:
"There is no question that Mr. Barrett holds personal opinions that many people find unconventional," Farrell says. "These views are expected to take a small, but significant, role in the class. To the extent that his views are discussed, Mr. Barrett has assured me that students will be free - and encouraged - to challenge his viewpoint."...

"I am satisfied that Mr. Barrett appreciates his responsibility as an instructor. I also believe that he will attempt to provide students with a classroom experience that respects and welcomes open dialogue on all topics," Farrell says. "And I fully expect that the vast majority of his teaching will involve aspects of Islamic culture and religion wholly unrelated to his controversial views of the events of 9/11, which we know had a profound impact on the world and many members of our campus community."
This is almost surely the best way to deal with the reality that Barrett was already hired. What really matters is the larger problem of why he was hired in the first place. The announcement doesn't allow us to see how Farrell is handling that.
"It is in cases like this - difficult cases involving unconventional ideas - that we define our principles and determine our future," Farrell adds. "Instead of restricting politically unpopular speech, we will take our cue from the bronze plaque in front of Bascom Hall that calls for the 'continual and fearless sifting and winnowing' of ideas."
I would like to see some "continual and fearless" judgment about who should be given the opportunity to amass the pile of material that students are assigned to sift and winnow.

(My earlier posts about the Barrett matter are here and here and here.)

UPDATE: Well, as long as we're sifting and winnowing and coming up with unconventional, speculative notions about the nefarious ways of government, let me throw out a question for you to apply your critical thinking to. How do we know Kevin Barrett is not a government agent? Wouldn't it be a pretty brilliant scheme to set up someone to teach this 9/11 theory at this university and see which students take the course? Your average, ordinary student will simply shun this horror. So who will take the course? Wouldn't the roster make a good list for the CIA?


I figured out how to make a little video using my new iMac with its built-in iSight camera, using Quick Time Pro. My first attempt was rejected by YouTube as a "Terms of Service Violation," and I was crushed. I really felt quite chastened and hurt that I'd committed a wrong. You might think I have a thicker skin that that, but apparently not! I felt shame and confusion. Finally, I figured out that it was more than 10 minutes long. The burden of my sins felt lighter, but I did have to spend some time figuring out how to edit, to strip away about 2 minutes, which I did a bit crudely. Anyway, let me know what you think of vlogging as an addition to the blog. It's in an update to this post about Eugene Volokh responding to me. Let's see him vlog a response!

ADDED: And if someone can tell me how to get the picture to align left, I'd appreciate it. AND: Problem solved.

The Massachusetts court opens itself to overruling by citizen-initiated amendment.

AP reports:
The same court that made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage ruled Monday that a proposed constitutional amendment to ban future same-sex marriages can be placed on the ballot, if approved by the Legislature.

The ruling was in a lawsuit brought by gay-rights supporters who argued that Attorney General Tom Reilly was wrong to approve the ballot measure because the state constitution bars any citizen-initiated amendment that seeks to reverse a judicial ruling.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Judicial Court said the constitution does not bar citizen initiatives from making prospective changes to the constitution, even if that effectively overrules the effect of a prior court decision.
Because two consecutive legislative sessions must approve the measure, it won't go on the ballot until 2008. Meanwhile, same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, and if the amendment is passed, it won't undo the existing marriages. That will be an odd state of affairs. Don't you think that anomaly will make some citizens want to vote against the amendment?

A response.

Eugene Volokh responds to my "oh, please."

MORE: In vlog form!

"The media glare is not something I crave.”

Kos, protesting too much, quoted in New York Magazine.

Let's read the whole big article. Some excerpts:
The sudden Democratic obeisance to the Netroots fills many in the party’s centrist cadres with despair bordering on panic—for they see the likes of Stoller and Moulitsas as “McGovernites with modems,” in the choice phrase of Marshall Wittman, a Republican apostate now ensconced at the Democratic Leadership Council.
Typical nitwit Democratic attempt at a catchy phrase. I'm putting this on my list with "Stay and pay."
More than a few leading GOP lights agree, happily foreseeing the liberal bloggers’ leading the opposition down (okay, further down) the primrose path into lefty irrelevance. As Newt Gingrich put it bluntly in Newsweek, “I think the Republican Party has few allies more effective than the Daily Kos.”
I've quoted that one before myself. It's the meme. Is it true?
[Many observers point out] that Kos and his allies see themselves not as ideologues but as pragmatists, aspiring players. And, indeed, time and again, Kos has declared that his main interest is in regaining power, by whatever means necessary. In his keynote at his Las Vegas convocation, he declared, “Republicans have failed us because they can’t govern; Democrats have failed us because they can’t get elected.” His mantra on other occasions has been “I’m just all about winning.”
So Kos just wants to be the mechanism by which Democrats obtain power? There's no substantive content, just trust in this party?
[There is] utter disarray on display over money in the Democratic Party’s upper echelons. A little more than a month ago, a meeting between party chair Howard Dean and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rahm Emanuel broke out into a yelling match. The dispute centered on Dean’s insistence on a “50-state strategy,” with resources being invested broadly and with an eye beyond 2006, and Emanuel’s belief that cash should be funneled predominantly into races where Democrats stand the best chance of making gains. (Democrats must pick up fifteen seats in the House and six in the Senate to retake control of Congress.) The two men haven’t spoken since.

As confused and conflicted as the Democrats appear on matters pecuniary, they are even worse when it comes to formulating a coherent governing agenda. For more than a year, there was talk on Capitol Hill of the need to devise some Democratic version of Gingrich’s famous Contract With America. Then, last month, the document emerged at last. On the plus side, the party had abandoned its previous slogan: the syntactically challenged “Together, America Can Do Better.”
Yeah, that goes on my list too. I never had a problem with that syntax though. I thought it was like get it together, man. You can say that to one guy. See, I'm sticking up for Democrats. Give me some credit!
On the minus side, the replacement was an object lesson in vacuity—“New Direction for America”—and the contents it framed turned out to be a shopworn list of vaguely stated Democratic goals—lowering the cost of college, lowering gas prices, restoring fiscal responsibility, blah blah blah—without any coherent vision, never mind firm programmatic commitments, to animate or back them up.
Oh, they are so dismally uninspiring. Note the absence of national security substance in that. That's something Kos and others notice:
Observing that in recent polls 75 percent of Democrats say they favor withdrawing some or all of the troops now stationed in Iraq, [Matt Stoller at MyDD] wrote, “When the Democratic ‘leadership’ holds positions in contrast to the vast majority of self-identified Democrats, then what we have is not a division. That is, instead, a dislocation.”

More than any other single factor, that dislocation has created the context in which Kos and his allies have found their traction.... Though they often pay a degree of lip service to a panoply of left-bent concerns, they are essentially single- (or, being generous, double-) issue activists: more than happy to wage the 2006 campaign as a referendum on the Iraq war—and on a generalized indictment of the Bush administration’s incompetence and mendacity. Their populist impulses are real enough, but they are wedded to no overarching set of policies, let alone an encompassing philosophy. They no more have a fully elaborated or articulated vision of what a 21st-century Democratic Party should stand for than do the hated members of the Washington hierarchy.
So depressing.

"Pee-wee's Playhouse."

Set your TiVo. The Cartoon Network will be running the show late at night, which is a way of saying this is a cult show or a nostalgia show, not a kids show anymore. I remember when the show originally came out. It was great fun for kids. Why can't we see it that way again?
But although some do find the "Playhouse" itself creepy — and so rife with hidden meaning that they write articles with titles like "The Playhouse of the Signifier," "Pee-wee Herman: The Homosexual Subtext" and "The Cabinet of Dr. Pee-wee: Consumerism and Sexual Terror" — the show itself is a thing of pure celebration.

"I've been really careful to try to not dissect what I do, what I did, too much," Paul Reubens said one afternoon in his publicist's West Hollywood office....

"There are college dissertations on 'Pee-wee's Playhouse,' Miss Yvonne and her raincoat, and what does it all mean, and reading things in that I really didn't feel like I meant or was trying to do," he said. "People writing about the underlying whatever in both the 'Playhouse' and the movies, and some of it, I go, 'Well, that's not hidden, it's all right out on the table.' "
Aw, the college kids need something to keep them busy. Better to contemplate Miss Yvonne's raincoat than to how the government blew up the World Trade Center. And please ignore the Mecca in mekka-lekka hi mekka hiney ho.

The music is by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, and Cyndi Lauper sings the theme song -- quite brilliantly.

Will Paul Reubens ever play Pee-wee again?
It is widely believed that Reubens' 1991 arrest killed Pee-wee forever, but Reubens is not done with him. He has two Pee-wee scripts finished: One is a revised version of an unproduced screenplay he wrote with Panter, a "Playhouse" adventure featuring the usual suspects. The other is "dark," a "Valley of the Dolls" story that seems from reports to obliquely refer to some of his own personal trials.

"I never said it was over or I didn't want to do it anymore," Reubens said about the possibility of putting on the suit and bow tie again. "That's something that's been said by other people."

Do it, Paul!

The Condi for President trend.

ABC News reports:
A disparate group of Internet gurus, political junkies and foes of Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is pushing a Rice candidacy even though President Bush's top diplomat has said repeatedly that she has no desire to be president.

But the Republican also has declined invitations to rule out a bid in 2008, spoken about the likelihood of a minority winning the White House in her lifetime and taken steps to soften her image words and deeds that have provided a glimmer of hope to her fans.

Mick Wright, a webmaster in Memphis, Tenn., is one of more than a dozen people who registered draft-Rice Web sites in the year after Bush was re-elected.

"Once that was all over, you started thinking, what's going to happen in the next election?" said Wright, a co-founder of http://www.condipundit.com. "The first one to come to mind as a viable candidate was Condoleezza Rice."
(I made that a hot link. In a classic demonstration of MSM obtuseness, ABC didn't.)

More in the article. I'll just note this part, about whether Rice is planning to run:
Greg Haas, an Ohio-based Democratic strategist, said Rice's image makeover is a telltale sign.

"The fact of the matter is when you see somebody revolutionize their style, their appearance and their speaking manner, that is not happening all by itself," said Haas, who ran Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign in Ohio. "She has clearly begun presenting a different image, moving from a harsh persona to one of a more warm public official."

Rice has showcased her talents as a pianist at the Kennedy Center, lifted weights for a local Washington TV news show and discussed her musical favorites, from Elton John to Aretha Franklin to Mozart, for a British newspaper. The latter was a favor to rock star Bono.
Run, Condi!

July 9, 2006

Madison, Sunday.

Here's a big park -- James Madison Park -- in downtown Madison, photographed in late morning today. Where is everyone?

James Madison Park

I mean there is that guy sleeping under the tree. But still. Pretty deserted! Everyone's thronged up at the Capitol, milling around the Art Fair on the Square, something I make sure to steer clear of.

Leaving the park, I walk by the Gates of Heaven Synagogue:

Gates of Heaven Synagogue

Closeup on the sign:

Gates of Heaven Synagogue

Brooks on Kos.

David Brooks keeps talking about the "netsroots." (Is that some knowing nod to the people who think it's funny to say "internets"?)

"Under that Cheney risk-rubric, Kim is easily the gravest threat to American lives since Bush took office."

Andrew Sullivan detects incoherence:
[W]hat you cannot do is argue as Dick Cheney and Bush have consistently argued about the WMD threat, then look at their current position on North Korea and consequently make any coherent sense at all.

The Cheney argument, as outlined in Ron Suskind’s book-length brief for the CIA, The One Percent Doctrine, is clear. It is that if there is a 1% chance that terrorists can get access to WMDs, the US, after 9/11, must treat that chance as a 100% certainty.

Under that Cheney risk-rubric, Kim is easily the gravest threat to American lives since Bush took office. He has the materials; he has the motive; all he lacks is a delivery system.

And the failure of his missile delivery system is not a cause for relief. It merely means that if he is to deliver the nuclear goods to his enemies, he has to find another way.

A suitcase? An Al-Qaeda suicide bomber? A Pakistani intelligence agent?

You think these options aren’t available to him? If you live anywhere near a western city you should be concerned.

After an absence, "absent."

Sasha Volokh is back at Volokh Conspiracy after an absence of 2 years. It's nice to see him back and nice to get a chance to see what's the first thing he wants to talk about when he gets back. It's the surpassingly nerdy dual topic of the way anyone can contribute information about word usage to the Oxford English Dictionary and whether the use of the word "absent" as a preposition is really, as some blog commenter recently said, just a lawyer's tic.

Don't get me wrong. I love this subject matter. The lawyer's "absent" has been driving me crazy for years, and I love almost any sort of discussion of the OED. My iPod Shuffle contains Simon Winchester's unabridged reading of "The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary." So I'm completely on board with the nerdiness Sasha brings to his reemergence as a VConspirator.

Anyway, Sasha came up with some info on the prepositional use of "absent," which he puts in OED style:
1888 South Western Reporter VIII. 898 If the deed had been made by a stranger to the wife, then a separate estate in her would not have been created, absent the necessary words; but, being made to the wife by the husband, a separate estate, as against him, was the result. 1893 South Western Reporter XII. 629 Absent any evidence to the contrary, a proper and legitimate purpose will be presumed. 1898 South Western Reporter XLV. 303 Absent any one of these ingredients, there is no contract. 1906 South Western Reporter XCIV. 591 Absent one of these ingredients, there is no contract. 1914 South Western Reporter CLXXII. 17 A mere barren and abandoned conspiracy sounding in words, but jejune of acts or results, is not actionable, absent a statute so declaring. 1929 South Western Reporter (2d series) XVIII. 490 Absent a tender of an instruction properly defining said words, it was not error for the court to fail to do so. 1938 Federal Suppl. XXV. 861-62 The design, absent the color and display thereby created, is not more ornamental than many types of similar shoes.
This doesn't refute the blog commenter, of course. It demonstrates the ugly lawyer's use of the word. Is it limited to lawyers? It's so often used by lawyers that it's hard to believe it hasn't infected nonlegal writing, but it's still ugly and feels abnormal. I'd recommend avoiding it even in legal writing, precisely because it sounds like legalese.

Anticipating "Project Runway."

Jeff at Television Without Pity has an interview with Jay McCarroll. The interview's old, but it's being published now because we're gearing up for a new season of "Project Runway," which starts this week. Aren't you excited? I certainly am. I love that show, and I like having at least one reality show to follow and currently have zero. Yeah, I tried to watch "Hell's Kitchen," which couldn't reach me at all, and "So You Think You Can Dance?," which I kept with a little longer until my continual fast forwarding forced me to notice that I really don't want to watch people dance. But watching people cut and sew... that's great fun.

Let's find something quotable from the interview. There's this, about how he likes living in New York City:
It's sufficient. [laughs] It is what it is, you know? It's exciting, I guess. I've never been one of those, um, "Oh my God, I've gotta live there. I love New York" kind of people. But…it's frighteningly tall. Yeah, the buildings are so high. And, it's dirty. And, there's too many people. And, I'm scared when I'm underground. Or above ground. But, other than that, it's great!

"It's like a turkey leg on a Cornish hen."

That would be People Magazine, as part of Time Inc., described by an unnamed Time Inc. reporter.

Per People founder Richard Stolley: "For years during (Time Inc.'s) history, one magazine has been dominant. Time was that magazine until World War II, when Life exploded... It's built into the history of the company."

Aren't you glad you live in the People era?


"Oh, get over it... So what if people want to make fun of us? Every city has its own particular brand of strangeness. For some it may be gangs or drugs or troubled youth. We just happen to have some over-Botoxed blonds with oversexed tendencies."

"I particularly picked Socialism, because of several things in its philosophy."

"One was the brotherhood of people all over the world. Another was its struggle for peace. Another was the equal distribution of economic goods. Another was the idea of cooperation. A fifth was the idea of democratic planning in order to achieve your goals. Those were pretty good ideas."

Let's not cavil today. Let's say goodbye to a Frank Zeidler, the last Socialist mayor of a large American city.
Milwaukee has had non-partisan elections since 1912, but Socialism had developed a strong foothold in the largely German and working-class Milwaukee of the turn of the century, said Milwaukee historian John Gurda.

"They were creative; they were incorruptible; they were absolutely incorruptible; they were frugal," Gurda said of the Socialists.
Zeidler served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1948 to 1960, and died at the age of 93.
"Historians described him in the tradition of Milwaukee's sewer socialists," said Zeidler's youngest daughter, Jeanne, who followed her father into politics and is mayor of Williamsburg, Va.

"They were community leaders, mayors of Milwaukee who thought everyone should have access to plumbing in their homes," she said. "But he also had a bigger vision than that. He really was an activist of world peace, of tolerance, of people working together."

His three terms as mayor were marked by large-scale construction of public housing, creation of the first educational television station in Wisconsin and city beautification programs.

Some hipness and squareness about John Roberts.

Hey! I spot my name in today's NYT in an article by Linda Greenhouse called "His Hipness, John G. Roberts." Let's see:
WRITING in April for a unanimous Supreme Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. found that the police in Brigham City, Utah, acted properly in entering a home without a warrant after they peered through a window and saw a fight in progress that had left one man spitting blood.

"The role of a police officer includes preventing violence and restoring order, not simply rendering first aid to casualties," the chief justice said, rejecting the argument that the police should have waited until the altercation ended more conclusively. "An officer is not like a boxing (or hockey) referee, poised to stop a bout only if it becomes too one-sided," he explained.

The chief justice's sports imagery galvanized the legal blogs. Some found his boxing reference inapt. "The whole point of boxing is fighting!" wrote a participant on the Althouse blog, run by Ann Althouse, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Others took issue with the hockey reference. "Given all the padding that hockey players wear, being punched by an opponent hardly is more significant than being hit by a toddler," one said.

Finally, another writer took a step back and observed that "this shows another side of Roberts as a good writer: displaying some wry humor and hipness."
There is a hot link in that passage, but it's for "University of Wisconsin" and it just goes to a page of hits for a search within the NYT site for "University of Wisconsin." How about a link to the post? Come on, Times! You've got to do internet properly. It's not Greenhouse's fault, but really, that approach to links is unbelievably obtuse.

Here's the missing link. I started off the conversation this way:
We're familiar with the way a referee in a boxing can stop a fight if it becomes too one-sided. Why throw in "(or hockey)"? It not only clutters the sentence, it makes the concept harder to grasp. I don't even know about hockey referees stopping one-sided games. Since Roberts is known for the high quality of his writing style, I've got to think that parenthetical really adds something. But what?

Is it that in hockey fights break out, and the refs don't stop them unless they're one-sided, and it's actually more like the police situation because the fighting isn't legitimate in the first place, but some people might think the police should ignore fights unless someone is outmatched? In that case, hockey is a more apt analogy in light of the argument that the search was unreasonable.
The quote "The whole point of boxing is fighting!" is not mine. It's by what Greenhouse called "a participant on the Althouse blog, run by Ann Althouse." In other words, a commenter. Actually, it's Joan H. -- here's her blog .

She wrote:
Fighting is tolerated in the NHL, and referees often let the players involved work out their frustrations as long as neither party is getting beaten to a pulp and the other team members are staying out of the fray. Most fights are just scuffles, and are to be expected in a game in which shoving your opponents out of the way is legitimate.

I think the hockey analogy is better just for that reason, and can't understand why boxing was included at all. The whole point of boxing is the fighting! In hockey, fighting is always penalized, whether or not the refs break it up, just as it should be in life. I think Roberts included the boxing reference because frankly there aren't so many hockey fans around these days.
The second quote -- "Given all the padding that hockey players wear, being punched by an opponent hardly is more significant than being hit by a toddler" -- is by Dave Friedman. The "wry humor and hipness" one is from paulfrommpls. Here's his blog.

Greenhouse ends the opening passage to her article -- the part I've quoted -- with:
It is no surprise that the new chief justice's every vote is being tabulated and scrutinized. But so is his every metaphor.
Well, the attention to the metaphor is partly in the nature of blogging. It was a nice specific, textual thing to talk about. I love when something like that pops out in a Supreme Court case (or somewhere else in the news). It's one of those things that says bloggable to me. Indeed, I'm scrutinizing the writing in the NYT right now because it said bloggable to me... which it would have said even without calling my name (which gets my attention big time).

The NYT piece isn't about blogging phenomena, though. It's about judging John Roberts. The part about our little boxing/hockey conversation is followed by some quotes about Roberts' writing by usual suspect quotemeisters Erwin Chemerinsky (Roberts' "prose style is clear and easy to follow") and Akhil Amar (praising the "elegance and economy" and "occasionally snappy line"). This leads to a discussion about whether Roberts is really a judicial "minimalist." No overarching conclusions there.

The piece rolls toward a conclusion with the observation that Roberts doesn't much like quoting law review articles (a quality shared by most judges, I'd say). Here, the key quote is from Harvard lawprof David Barron: "It's as if the answers to all questions are already there, completely internal to the court, to be teased out of the existing cases."
Relying on precedent as the only source of law is an approach with strengths and weaknesses, Professor Barron said, noting that on the one hand, precedent can be a smokescreen, "a rhetorical device to hide the inevitable policy making," while on the other, "it has its own constraining effects," making a judge less likely to embrace dramatic change in the status quo.
True enough, but it's an observation that you can make about nearly any judge. This rhetoric about rhetorical devices is the stock in trade of the law professor...

...including the lawprof blogger. So bring on the judicial metaphors and rhetoric... I need bloggables.

Oh, but the term is over. No new material! We'll have to go back over the old. In fact, I'm running a series of seminars over the rest of the summer here at the law school in which we hash over one case each Tuesday. I'm taking over the first slot, which I'd previously given to someone else, who has an out-of-town opportunity to pursue. I'm the emergency fill-in. I'll be doing the hallucinogenic tea case, which happens to be the first case Akhil Amar talks about in illustrating Roberts' penchant for the "occasionally snappy line":
[Amar point to] a majority opinion that rejected the government's application of federal narcotics law to stop a Brazil-based religious group from importing a hallucinogenic tea for use in its rituals. "The government's argument echoes the classic rejoinder of bureaucrats throughout history: If I make an exception for you, I'll have to make one for everybody, so no exceptions," the chief justice wrote.
Ah, good place to end a rambling blog post about hipness! We've got your hallucinogenic drugs and that hippie irritation with the government and all its rules, man.