January 24, 2004

If blogging is the way your mind looks on the web, then going back and rereading one’s miscellaneous back entries ought to give a person some new insight into their own minds. After ten days of blogging I decided to take account, not of my soul, but of the names I had managed to drop.

Total names dropped (not counting journalists other than Diane Sawyer, but counting fictional characters): 100.

Major categories:
Human movie personalities: 16%
Current political figures: 14%
Human TV personalities: 12%
Artists: 11%
Writers (fiction writers & public intellectual types): 11%
Fictional characters (other than puppets): 9%
5% in each of these categories:
Historical figures.
Fashion people/royalty.
Things to write in an obituary for a photographer:
•His images were calculated to shock, often featuring tall, blond, sometimes naked women in heels, perhaps illuminated by headlights or trapped in a dark alley. ...

•"Helmut was very clear that he liked a big girl and blond girl, in an impeccable suit and high heels," said Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue. ...

•At 18, … he was forced to flee the Nazis, eventually arriving in Singapore, where, he wrote, he became a gigolo. ...
Info in “The Arts” article but not in the obituary in the same issue of the NYT:

•In one 1973 series of photos, [his wife] was portrayed as Hitler wearing a cropped mustache with model Jerry Hall posing as Eva Braun.

Helmut Newton, at age 83, left the Chateau Marmont Hotel and crashed his Cadillac into a wall across the street with sufficient force to kill himself. Both articles in the Times say that he “lost control” of the car.
More about Captain Kangaroo, Bob Keeshan, from the NYT obituary. He started out in show business with the job of seating children in the audience--the Peanut Gallery--for "The Howdy Doody Show." When he did "Captain Kangaroo," he had no studio audience. Asked why, he expressed his concern for the children watching at home:
"The children should never be excluded from what I am doing and should never have the feeling of being part of an audience."
How sensitive that was to the feelings of a child! I remember watching "The Howdy Doody Show" and feeling left out of the Peanut Gallery. Who were those children? How did they get there? Was there something that made some children "Peanuts" that allowed them into the wonderful television world, while I was left stranded on the other side of the screen--screened out? Mr. Rogers followed the same intuition.

Strangely, shows for nonchildren--Oprah, Letterman, MTV's Spring Break--go on the assumption that an audience tends to make the home viewer feel more included. Perhaps that's because nonchildren understand how to get out of the house and into the audience and can therefore project themselves into the audience, which they know is composed of people like them. They have shaken off the feeling that the people on TV are a different breed--they aren't Peanuts, just people like me getting out of the house.

It's funny that back in the 1950s, the kids on TV were Peanuts, while now, we name the people at home after foodstuffs: Couch Potatoes.

Back to Keeshan: He was elevated from audience-seating to a character role on "The Howdy Doody Show," in 1948. He was

"Clarabell, a clown who said nary a word but who jumped around the stage a lot and, to the delight of the members of the Peanut Gallery, frequently sprayed [the show's host Buffalo Bob] Smith in the nose with his seltzer bottle.

Buffalo Bob fired Keeshan/Clarabell because he thought he was trying to form a union! That was in 1950, a couple years before I was in a position to be watching the show, so the Clarabell I remember was Keeshan's replacement. (I remember Clarabell as the best-loved character on the show (along with Flub-a-Dub). I could never understand why Doody got top billing.)

Keeshan got started with "Captain Kangaroo" (which was originally called "Tinker's Workshop"), in 1954. I may very well have watched the first episode and believe I remember the original title.

To play Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Keeshan had to catch the 4:20 a.m. train from Babylon, on Long Island, to be at CBS by 6. He lived in constant fear of oversleeping and employed three alarm clocks plus a phone service. He never missed a broadcast.

In the beginning, he would do "Captain Kangaroo" live twice a day, an 8 a.m. broadcast for the East Coast and then, after a break of less than a minute, a repeat of the whole show for the Midwest.

Ah, the travails of live television! Those guys were heroes!
It's nice to see Ryan Lizza's new campaign journal in The New Republic. His take on Wesley Clark's campaign is particularly pithy:
The crowds at Clark's events also seem to skew further left than I expected. Recently he's campaigned with Michael Moore and received the endorsement of George McGovern. I think two things explain this. One, as a newcomer to the party, he overestimates how liberal Democrats really are. He still has a slightly caricatured view of his new home, and so he doesn't realize how silly he sounds when he calls Michael Moore "a great American leader," as he did in the debate. The other reason is more straightforward. He's still being attacked for voting for Republicans and praising George W. Bush, and so he's constantly having to demonstrate his liberal credentials.

Newcomerishness is an especially damaging problem when your campaign is premised on depth of experience.

January 23, 2004

It was a bit "peculiar" of Al Sharpton to say he was "unilaterally opposed" to states' rights, as Robert Garcia Tagorda notes.

Surely, he meant to drag up the word "unequivocally" from the old memory bank of cliches. If Flaubert were still keeping his "Dictionary of Received Ideas," there would be an entry:
Opposed. Always add "unequivocally."
Oh, and:
Action. When referring to the government, assert that it shouldn't be taken "unilaterally."
Investment schemes. Gawker writes:
He got married and bought an apartment on the Lower East Side and THEN wrote a massive New York Times article about it. (Isn't that sort of like purchasing stock and then telling everyone to buy it?)
Thinking about Spalding Gray.
2Blowhards write about rethinking reading habits (from A&L Daily):

• I'm always in the middle of a half dozen books. Often I finish none of them. This doesn't bother me -- it's part of how I like conducting my reading and writing life, dammit. …

•I own a ton of books I'll never read, and that's OK with me. I enjoy having them around. Some I wouldn't read all the way through even if I had the time. They're there for reference, for grazing through, and for company….

•So far as nonfiction goes, I see no reason not to consider websurfing the equal of plowing through a nonfiction book. If you're interested in a topic, a website -- or a bunch of websites, since there's no reason to stop at one -- can be as good as a book. …

It's funny how one is always thinking, I need to read more, envisioning oneself in the living room armchair, under the reading light, reading a classy literary novel or a scholarly history book. Why not just credit yourself with all the reading you really are doing all day long, reading websites, parts of books, stray signage, etc.?

It's a bit like people who think they should exercise more, then they just buy a pedometer, see how much walking they really are doing around the house, at work, and in stores, thereby solving the whole problem. I think it would be possible to design a readometer, perhaps as part of reading glasses, that would recognize the distinctive eye movements of reading and convert that into the number of books read, like a pedometer's miles walked.

There's no equivalent solution for doing too much of something, like eating too much. No way to prove to yourself that you really are eating less.
Professor Yin thinks Dean (at the debate) looked like Tom Cruise in "Top Gun."
Timothy Noah watched Dean's Sawyer interview:
Seeing Dean beg for mercy over what was merely an untelegenic display of enthusiasm called to mind the last scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, when Chief Bromden finds McMurphy, and he's been lobotomized, all rebellion and mischief sucked out of him, and you don't know whether to rage or weep.
Dean as Nicholson? Nicholson did make a good President.
Captain Kangaroo--Bob Keeshan--has died. So long!

Though, as a kangaroo, he was well suited to jumping, he never jumped the shark.

I remember the show from the 1950s, not the later color version. We had to take in on faith that Mr. Greenjeans was wearing green jeans, back then. I could never understand why Bunny Rabbit was so mean.
I watched the debate last night. I even TiVo'd it and a segment of commentary following it. But I did not watch Howard Dean and his wife being smarmed up to by Diane Sawyer. I resist the Sawyer nuzzle-fest. So I just read about it in the NYT.
"Look, I'm not a perfect person, I've got plenty of warts," Dr. Dean said between coughing spasms and sips from a mug of hot water at the Lebanon forum, where he received numerous ovations. "I say things that get me in trouble. I wear suits that are cheap. But I say what I think, and I believe what I say, and I'm willing to say things that are not popular, but that ordinary people know are right.

"In other words," he added, "I lead with my heart and not my head."
Is that a good explanation? I know he's sick. (He looked pretty ill or very tired at the debate.) But if the concern is that we think he's angry, why would we be reassured to hear that he's going to act from emotion, without thinking it through?
"He just doesn't get that angry," Mrs. Dean, 50, told Ms. Sawyer ... "I mean, he doesn't. You know, he just, he's very kind, very considerate, and, it just doesn't happen."....

And Mrs. Dean, who skipped an afternoon of house calls and paperwork to film the "Primetime" interview Thursday, may come to New Hampshire this weekend — despite Dr. Dean's repeated assurances that he would not use his politically uninterested wife as a prop on the trail.

"Do you feel like a prop, dear?"
I love that question! It's a brainteaser. Is yes more like no or is no more like yes?
Following Edwards's garbling of the Defense of Marriage Act, Al Sharpton took the first opportunity to push back:
Well, let me say something about the Defense of Marriage Act. I am unilaterally opposed to any civil or human right being left to states' rights. That is a dangerous precedent.
How can candidates think they will succeed with fuzzed-up federalism, when the first thing many people think of when told that a matter ought to be left to the states is segregation and resistance to civil rights?
The issue of gay marriage is taking an oversized role in thinking about who ought to be President. This is an issue that needs to ripen over time, and it is quite unfortunate that everyone needs to suddenly take a position. The candidates know they have to finesse it, and one move is to say, as John Edwards did in the debate last night (transcript here), that the decision ought to be left to the states. Of course, traditionally, marriage has been left to the states, but what do you do about the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which debate moderator Brit Hume had asked him about:
[T]he Defense of Marriage Act, as I understand it -- you're right, I wasn't there when it was passed -- but as I understand it, it would have taken away that power. And I think that's wrong. That power should not be taken away from the states.
Can you get away with finessing the gay marriage issue by failing to understand the Defense of Marriage Act (or pretending to)? Hume came back with the right follow-up question:
HUME: Does not the Defense of Marriage Act specifically say that the court rulings in one state, which might, for example, recognize a gay marriage, may not be imposed on another state? In other words, doesn't the Defense of Marriage go to the very position which you yourself take?

EDWARDS: No, the Defense of Marriage -- first of all, I wasn't in the Congress, I don't claim to be an expert on this. But as I understand the Defense of Marriage Act, it would take away the power of some states to choose whether they would recognize or not recognize gay marriages. That's my understanding of it.

"I don't claim to be an expert on this"? Come on! Edwards is a lawyer and a senator, and he's claiming a reasonably short federal statute is beyond his comprehension? Or is he claiming he's never bothered to try to understand it, even though he knows gay marriage is a key issue in the campaign and he means to get by with the leave-it-to-the-states angle?

"That's my understanding of it"? "I wasn't in the Congress"? How can that be enough?

January 22, 2004

Thanks to Iowa lawprof Tung Yin for linking to me! Nice to find another lawprof willing to opine about American Idol.
Writing about surrealism and coincidence makes me want to say something about my favorite movie, "My Dinner With Andre." Googling in search of the screenplay--hey, nice tribute to Year of the Monkey, Google--I ran across Lane's Shrine to "My Dinner With Andre." I approve of the idea, but, jeez, Lane, that background! That nearly set off a migraine.

I can't find a screenplay to link to. But there's a memorable discussion of Andre Gregory's collection of the surrealist journal Minotaur, made 40 years earlier, which he had opened to a page with the handprints of three surrealists named Andre. Wallace Shawn cannot accept Andre's belief that the journal was somehow made for him.

If you've never seen this film you should, even though you might hate it. I bought the DVD, but it is absolutely the lowest quality DVD. It really shouldn't be sold in this form. Somewhere in those 59 Amazon customer reviews is one from me ("from Madison, Wisconsin") complaining about this. If you've ever felt annoyed that a movie you care about hasn't been released on DVD, remember that it is much worse when they do this, because there seems to be little hope of getting something better later. It does have scene access, but with only nine scenes. The chapter titles--"soup," "soup finished," "entree," "dinner conversation continues," "entree ends"--are almost good for a laugh, a bitter scoff, perhaps.
Paul Auster's new book, by the way, is Oracle Night, and you can hear him discuss it (on Fresh Air).
Two of my favorite painters are Victor Brauner and Yves Tanguy. I had never heard of either until the first time I saw and was completely enchanted by a painting of his in a Museum of Modern Art. I saw Tanguy's painting "Fear" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the 1960s. I saw Brauner's "Snake Dancer" at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris in the 1980s. I was interested to learn that they were roommates for a while, but then in no mood to think coincidences were cool after reading this:
That year he moved to Paris, lived briefly with Tanguy, and painted a number of works featuring distorted human figures with mutilated eyes. Some of these paintings, dated as early as 1931, proved gruesomely prophetic when he lost his own eye in a scuffle in 1938.
Here's a better description of the incident (from an article, linked today at Arts & Letters Daily, that is really about the new Paul Auster novel):
On 28 August, 1938, the Romanian painter, Victor Brauner, lost his left eye when he was struck by a glass thrown by fellow surrealist Oscar Dominguez. Such violence was not uncommon at parties attended by the surrealist group, but what distinguished this episode was the fact that it seemed to fulfil a prophecy, begun seven years before when Brauner painted the first of a series of canvases (Self-Portrait with a Plucked Eye), in which he was depicted as having suffered various injuries, all affecting the left eye.

In one, Brauner’s eye has disappeared; in another, it seems to have melted and is running down his cheek; in yet another, the eyeball has shattered in its socket. The surrealists made much of the incident, claiming it proved the magical, premonitory power of art and, though Brauner himself played it down, he is best-known, even now, as the painter who foresaw his own partial blinding.
Go, Cliff!

I could care less about golf. That would be if my nephew weren't on the PGA tour. So I will be frequently checking the live leaderboard.
Thanks to UCLA lawprof Stephen Bainbridge for linking to this site. I especially like being mentioned right below a post about Delaware, my home state.

I sometimes wonder whether my interest in constitutional law, and specifically federalism, did not originate from my early education in Delaware schools, where we studied Delaware history and were instilled with a sense that Delaware was special because it was the first state to ratify the Constitution. I can still remember frequently singing the state song "Our Delaware," which includes a pledge of "Faith" to the "beloved" state. The song has a verse for each county--there are only three--and some strange lyrics for a kid to contemplate, like:
Dear old Sussex visions linger,
Of the holly and the pine,
Of Henlopen's Jeweled finger,
Flashing out across the brine
So, what is this image? Cape Henlopen is basically giving the Atlantic Ocean the finger?

I grew older only to learn that no one outside of Delaware cared if Delaware was the first state. The distinguishing thing about Delaware to lawyers is that that is where all the corporations are from. "Oh you're from Delaware? I didn't know any human beings were from there," is a wisecrack I've heard more than once.
So did I watch The Apprentice live, interlaced with TiVo'd American Idol during the commercials, in some sort of ultimate trash TV experience? Why, yes, I did.

Future American Idol contestants might benefit from playing this video game, described in the NYT:
In Revolution, you sing along with a pop song into a microphone; your score is determined by your ability to match the singer note for note in a rendition of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" or "Every Morning." Your virtual representative stands on a gaudy stage before an audience that will cheer and clap in time if you sing well or boo you off the stage if you hit too many sour notes.
"Revolution" is not to be confused with "Wild Divine," described in the same article:
Throughout the game, you encounter obstacles that can only be conquered through the power of the mind. Breathe evenly, and a magical stairway will appear; relax, and a door will open to reveal a roomful of belly dancers. In one of the most interesting of the game's challenges, you must synchronize your heart with your breath in order to awaken a woman who will slowly open her eyes and begin to rise as you approach your ideal body state, but will go back to sleep if you lose control.
Gadgets you may not need. You can get a plasma TV screen for "$4,500 to $10,000," with "Ambilight, a series of cold-cathode fluorescent lights that project various colors onto the wall just behind the television."
During the animated movie "Finding Nemo," for example, a deep-blue frame of light around the set "gives you a sense that you're watching the movie while you're underwater," said Jim Ninesling, vice president for digital television marketing at Philips Consumer Electronics.
Now to the twenty minutes we spend figuring out which DVD to watch, we can add another 5 for figuring out the right mood color to halo it with. But it actually is kind of cool, the lava lamp (which was supposed to be a TV lamp, you know) for the 00s.

(The locution "for the 90s" gave way to "for the new millennium," which became tedious, and inaccurate if you wanted to refer only to the decade. But no one says "for the 00s," and for good reason.)
NYT obituary today: "George Woodbridge, a cartoonist and illustrator whose hapless, baggy suburbanites peopled Mad magazine for nearly 50 years, died in a hospital on Staten Island on Tuesday."
Perhaps Mr. Woodbridge's most fondly remembered piece for the magazine was the 1965 sports satire "43-Man Squamish," written by Tom Koch: it featured a nonsensical field game played with shepherds' crooks, diving flippers, polo helmets and impossibly complicated rules.

"The different equipment was hysterical," Mr. Meglin recalled. "George was able to make that real." College students from all over the country sent in photographs of themselves playing the game.
I assume in Heaven there are the necessary Quarter-Frummerts, Overblats, and Back-Up Finks. So flourish a Frullip for one of the Mad Magazine greats from the old era.

On a personal note: I discovered Mad on a drug store magazine rack in Delaware in the early sixties. It was the first magazine I ever subscribed to. Like many others, I was thrilled by the new vistas on the culture it opened up. I tried to tip off a friend about the fabulous magazine. She said, "You read Mad? That's for boys!" If only I had been capable of rejecting that statement, which she was so sure of, instead of feeling ashamed of my inferior perceptiveness!

January 21, 2004

So Gordon asks if I'm really going to Tivo American Idol, but the real question is what do you do on Wednesday when "The Apprentice" is on? Do you have to watch one show--shudder--live, while Tivoing the other? I'm not sure I much like either of these shows, but watching them is preparation for reading the wonderful Television Without Pity recaps:
Donny explains that the aim here is "big ideas." He wants them to do it -- you guessed it -- "out of the box." I'm surprised no one ever says, "I want you to think inside the box. Just your average basic good job, that's what I'm looking for." I mean, honestly, there are advantages to the box. How do you think it got to be the box?
"Venturpreneur" reminds me ever so slightly of "Versacorp."
Well, the "Tobacco and the Law" seminar is meeting down the hall in the George Young Room. They're watching a video with the bass way up. The door is closed, but that only isolates the bass from anything human-sounding. At least they aren't smoking.

I plugged headphones into the iMac and cued up the "Most Relaxing Classical Music" compilation I downloaded from iTunes on some previous occasion when I needed to cancel out background noise. I know that isn't the real purpose of music--to approximate silence--but that was my abuse of it. Hopefully, no one will make the wisecrack that I look like an air traffic controller.

I just mentioned the problem to someone who went and got the TV turned down. See, that's the trouble with blogging.
Thanks to my across-the-hall colleague Gordon Smith for linking my site to his!

I'm jealous of the fancy side bar and so on, but glad to be linked over there. I'll upgrade this site when it can be done. I have some pictures I'd like to put up. I just bought a photo scanner and have been ransacking my house looking for the old negatives of photos I took in 1980 when I bought a good camera and wandered about New York City taking pictures of unusual signs and torn posters and the like. I got the pictures printed at one of those ordinary photo places, which systematically chop off the edges. I'm sure they think they are doing you a favor, the theory being that people just waste the edges. But I had compositions that were based on corners and edges, and it was irksome to see images were missing. If I could just find the negatives, I could scan them and see those images I intended for the first time.

But I can't find the negatives. I'm going to assume that this is for a reason and I will find other things. Sunday I found an envelope containing various documents from my mother's house, including the "Women's Army Corp Song Book," published "1 August 1944" by the War Department. It has some excellent 1940s line drawings of WACs and a nice image of the goddess Athena on the front. (Pictures of Greek goddesses on government songbooks may or may not violate the Establishment Clause.) There are also some pretty interesting song choices, like "The WAC Is a Soldier Too" and "Yes, By Cracky" ("Yes, By Cracky, I'm a little WAC-y, I'm a little soldier girl..."). The "Songs of the United Nations" chapter includes the lyrics to "Ch'i Lai": "With our own flesh and blood/Let us build our new Great Wall/China's masses have met the day of danger...."

"A singing Army is a happy Army."
US News reports:
On Dean's chartered campaign plane early Tuesday morning, there was a sense of relief to be moving on. As the plane's wheels lifted off from the runway in Des Moines, someone yelled, ''We're out of Iowa!'' Others applauded. Later, despite a midnight dinner of shrimp and lobster and free CDs from Joan Jett, who was on the plane, the mood was subdued as staffers dissected what went wrong.
Wow, how depressed do you have to be before Joan Jett CDs and lobster don't cheer you up?
The downside of youthful supporters, the NYT reports this, from Dennis J. Goldford, chairman of the department of politics and international relations at Drake University :
"You can't run a professional presidential campaign on a kiddie corps," he said. "Lots of folks said they had been approached by Dean people and that they were enthusiastic, but then they would wander off and talk about where they went to college and what their major was. Iowans don't want to be told by kids from out of state how to vote."
Strange quotes in an article about the French have having a problem with bandannas:
"Who will define what is ostensible and what is not?"

"I regret that the sovereign pontiff is misinformed."
Saturday Night Live gave Dean a chance to reconsider his persona, just as they held up a mirror for Al Gore four years ago.

Gore surely ran into the problem of appearing abnormal on TV, wearing too much make-up and sighing. A key moment came in the debate where he walked up right next to Bush, while Bush was in the middle of answering a question. When Bush took a second to give a little cowboy-style nod to Gore, the die was cast. Bush was a normal, humorous guy; Gore was weird and ridiculous.

Such long, hard work is required to run for President, and it can easily all be thrown away in a second--but perhaps only when that second confirms long-held suspicions.
Appearing normal counts for a lot in Presidential politics, which may explain the growing popularity of John Edwards. The longer with live with these characters, the more grating the seemingly odd ones become and the more we find ourselves just liking the most normal-seeming one, the one you wouldn't mind sitting around watching TV with. We kind of are sitting around watching TV with them, after all, as many of the best-loved TV personalities have realized. I remember in particular, Red Skelton ending his old TV show by saying something like "Thank you for inviting me into your living room."

Click on this link if you want to hear Red Skelton explain the Pledge of Allegiance: "Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country and two words have been added to the pledge of Allegiance.../UNDER GOD/Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer and that would be eliminated from schools too?"
So maybe Dean doesn't know the names of many of the states. But does he at least know the words of the national anthem? The NYT seems to think ("Dean Is Subdued") he did a good job yesterday by by singing the anthem as a way of responding to a man who came to the Dean rally with a Confederate flag.

The clip of Dean singing is not getting the airtime the recitation of the names of the states has gotten, but, in fact, the singing sounds desperate, and he bungles half the lyrics.

The yelling-the-state-names clip is probably much funnier, but it is also used more frequently because it seems to confirm that the candidate has the quality we have come to fear he has. In Dean's case, it's anger, so the angry-sounding clip must air. If Bush had bungled the lyrics of the national anthem, we'd see more of that, because it confirms the reputed quality, stupidity.
"We're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico. We're going to California and Texas and New York!"

How about Wisconsin? Our primary is February 19th. After the first few, it seems Dean just started naming the most obvious states.

I finally saw a TV ad here in Wisconsin for one of the candidates. It was for Wesley Clark. After the part in the end when he does the obligatory this-is-my-ad thing, he stares into the camera with those Etruscan eyes. The eyes stare for a few seconds. No, no, General Clark, that's abnormal, everyone needs you to blink. Then he blinks, once, a bit slowly, like a ventriloquist dummy:
"I never forgot a segment from the Paul Winchell show, wherein Jerry and Knucklehead were sitting at the big desk, gavel in hand. Poor Knucklehead had an inferiority complex -- he was bemoaning the fact that Jerry had 'real' hair, whereas his was only painted on. He was also jealous of the fact that Jerry had moveable eyelids and he didn't! Also, Jerry had a higher position than he did. Knucklehead was really complaining and feeling sorry for himself, and Jerry was generously trying to bolster him up. Hilarious! I never forgot it!"
Running for President means never allowing yourself to act in a way that might appear abnormal, not even for a few seconds.
"That's six ads," one [Republican] party official said, referring playfully to the number of advertisements that might be mined from that appearance to reinforce efforts to portray Dr. Dean as angry and nonpresidential.
I had thought that Kerry would fail because he speaks in an oratorical style, as if he only noticed the real people in the room and not the cameras and the people the cameras represent, who are watching TV at home or listening to the radio in their cars.

But there is much worse camera oblivion than old-fashioned oratory, as Dean found out. In the context of the room, it made sense to play cheerleader for his disappointed fans. On TV, it was a meltdown of historic proportion:
"Howard Dean scared a lot of children last night," Tucker Carlson, a Republican political commentator, declared on CNN.

January 20, 2004

Why did nothing seem bloggable today? Not the Egyptian belly dancers, the sacred mummified Egyptian lions, or the Egyptian-influenced fashion designers. Not the new film, purportedly "subtle," about an age-phobic actress named Elizabeth getting plastic surgery.

Not the Iowa caucus.

I think it had something to do with talking in class this morning nonstop for an hour and a quarter.
The semester has begun. It's nice to have everyone back in the building. It's nice to have the snack bar open again, so lunch without venturing outdoors can be tomato saffron soup instead of chocolate milk and pretzels.

I spent the first Federal Jurisdiction class refuting the anticipated charge of lunacy for starting at page 1067, then 418, back up to 987, over to 1213, down to 217, and so on. I assured them it would really be quite enlightening to go about it this way, provided they came to class, and denied the anticipated charge that I was randomizing as a strategy to compel attendance.

January 19, 2004

I just noticed that the Martin Luther King Day quotes I linked to earlier are a collection of some of his most religious statements.
My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom.
Those who advocate strict separation of church and state tend not to think of this connection between religion and government. Imagine the opposition there would be to a nominee for the federal judiciary who had written:
A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.
So I was able to get althouse.blogspot.com, but there will be no althouse.com for me.

That wasn't there five days ago. Seems like it set up in 1 minute!
Orange sticker on a vending machine:

Cup May Be "Hot"

Thank You Swanson Corporation
Yes, thank you, Swanson Corporation, for your hot liquids japery.
Observations about the Amazon page on the Hart & Wechsler casebook:
1. It's still possible to "Be the first person to review this book!"

2. Customers who bought Hart & Wechsler also bought: Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order by Robert Kagan; Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right by Al Franken.

I actually have both of those books on the shelf at home, but read (and paid for) only one. There are 2400 customer reviews of Franken's book. Lots of 5 star reviews and 1 star reviews.

That's a fruitful exchange of opinion.
I came into my office this morning, despite the holiday (and the two degree temperature), to draw up the syllabus for Federal Jurisdiction. In the twentieth year of teaching the course, I am finally going to use the grand old casebook, Hart & Wechsler’s The Federal Courts and the Federal System.

The book dates back to 1953 but has only reached a Fifth Edition. I’ve kept all the old editions, unlike all the other casebooks on my shelf, new editions of which frequently arrive in the mail. The three most recent editions I’ve received as a faculty member. The Second Edition I used as a student. The First Edition was given to me by a colleague, cleaning out his office on retirement.

Why did I never use the iconic book before?
1. There was never an up-to-date edition when I was in the mood to experiment with a new casebook.

2. It’s intimidating!
I’m now looking at 1620 pages and feeling it would be wrong to deprive my students of any of the information the authors thought worth including. This surely a delusion because:
1. The book is loaded with arcane details that I am not even interested in.

2. Just covering something in class does not cause the information to take up permanent lodging in the students’ brains—or even in my own brain.
It's one thing to put the page numbers down in the syllabus, quite another to slog through them. When you're the lawprof, you have only yourself to blame when the assignment is a drag, and you have the added burden of needing to justify the reading to the students when you really only wish you'd never assigned it.
Hmm... the ribbed sweater is up to $5,304.00.

UPDATE at 2:42 CST: It's up to $12,100.45!
Virginia Heffernan writes:
Few academics slog through [Sir Walter] Scott anymore, but English departments still need Scott scholars; you can jump the line of more modish tenure seekers, if you volunteer to play the frump.
That’s Ryan Seacrest she’s referring to.

Yes, I know, tonight it begins again. The Tivo is set.
Picking the World Trade Center memorial:
Before the day began, "Reflecting Absence" was regarded as a dark horse, though it had been transformed from Mr. Arad's stark original, losing a slablike cultural building that state officials derided as "Motel 6."

… In their arguments, opponents of the cloud — as everyone called the "Memorial Cloud" design — focused on the very quality its advocates admired: its distinctive architecture called attention to itself rather than the tragedy. "Its spectacle was so eye-absorbing," Dr. Young said, "that it took us out of ourselves, at a memorial that should encourage us to contemplate inwardly."

Ballot after ballot was taken: 8 to 5, 6 to 7, 7 to 6, 9 to 4. There was still no consensus when the jurors broke for a dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes, served with expensive bottles of Long Island estate merlot from the Gracie Mansion cellar. "The comfort food was important," Dr. Young recalled. "That break really helped."
Things to write in an obituary for a prince:
"I have watched the sun rise over the beaches of five continents and I have looked into the eyes of the most beautiful women of the universe."

Between race cars, shark-fishing and dancing the twist with Grace Kelly, he somehow found time for considerable achievements...

[H]e married Princess Ira von Furstenberg, descendant of Charlemagne and heiress to the Fiat fortune, who was 15 and had received a special dispensation from Pope Pius XII because she was under the age of consent. … [T]he bride was 45 minutes late. "You're awfully late, dear," Prince Alfonso was heard to mutter in English.

He was once said to have "the mustachioed good looks of a South American taxi driver."
From the please-don't-make-me-read-it "Metropolitan Diary": "My 2-year-old daughter, Bellamy, came home from preschool the other day..."


When does an actor's persona--"the character was described as 'charming but dull - a typical Ralph Bellamy type'"--so slip into oblivion that the sound alone remains and seems appropriate for a child's name?

Fifty years from now, in the Metropolitan Diary: "I was taking my twin sons, Paltrow and Theron, to preschool the other day..."
Good quote for a blogger:
Are you listening to me? Is anyone listening to me? Is anyone looking at me? Is anyone bothering about me at all?

January 18, 2004

It's one thing to say "wasabi" when you mean "Wahhabi," but using a homeopathic remedy? Sorry, I'm going to have to deduct judgment points, Senator Kerry.
"Gray officially becomes a missing person Monday."

He had been working on a monologue called "Life, Interrupted," about a car accident that left him with chronic injuries. Last year, he said:
"I have lost my sense of humor since the accident ... I get up to walk, and I limp and I remember the accident."
His brother:
"My hope is still that he will be able to continue and come back.''
Three Andy Warhol quotes:
[J]ust being alive is so much work at something you don't always want to do. Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery. People are working every minute. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep.
"[I]f you say that artists take 'risks,' it's insulting to the men who landed on D-Day, to stunt men, to baby-sitters, to Evel Knievel, to stepdaughters, to coal miners, and to hitch-hikers, because they're the ones who really know what 'risks' are." She didn't even hear me, she was still thinking about what glamorous "risks" artists take.
Cash. I just am not happy when I don't have it. The minute I have it I have to spend it. And I just buy STUPID THINGS.
Is this man the inspiration for Adam Rove?
Blagdon, who died in 1986 at 78, made "healing machines": ornate thickets of wire, aluminum-foil strips and wood scraps that he also called "my pretties." He was 48 when he began making these peculiar constructions, which grew to fill an 800-square-foot shed. Living in isolation, Blagdon devoted the rest of his life to his "machines." He believed they generated electromagnetic energy that could help cure arthritis and other ailments of people who stood near them. …

"We classified the wire pieces according to their shapes … . They identified groups of "cascades," in which necklacelike strings of wire objects dangle in vertical strips; "chandeliers," which resemble hanging lampshades or fluffy, daffy hats; and "balances," whose extended arms sport clusters of assorted wire elements like oversize charm bracelets.

…[Asked] to explain how his constructions generated energy. Like a Beckett character, Blagdon replied tersely: "I can't."
The ethics of duck hunting.

Justice Scalia: "I did come back with a few ducks, which tasted swell."
Embarrassingly revealing memoirs are a hot topic? Didn't that peak in 1997?

Oh, I see: two New Yorker writers are doing it.
For those who like this sign, isn't it a redundancy?

From an aesthetic point of view, it's miserable.

But let's fight about religion. That's the legal way.
Why should we read it as a compliment to depict a person smiling while floating on a sea of blood?

Maybe he should have just torn up the title card
. Without the title "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," this art-thing is inarticulate.

Art can still make people angry, but not because of what it says about art.
"When you come to the government you become a bit realistic. When you are outside, you are emotional."

Facing the quandry: How to oppress women while keeping your World Bank credits? For now, let’s just take down the mannequins.

Meanwhile: "Go Musharraf go" is not a cheer.