February 21, 2004

What do you call ...? I like this dialect survey (recommended by Andrew Sullivan).

"What do you call the area of grass between the sidewalk and the road?" Lots of names for that, I see now, but where I come from it was called the "extension," which is apparently an even more minor term than "terrace," which they call it here in Madison.

It's too late to participate in the survey, but you can get an assessment of your regional tendency by taking a quiz here. I came out 43% Yankee on the quiz, which is probably a pretty accurate way to describe someone who started in northern Delaware (Newark and Wilmington)(and had a Delaware father), spent her teens in northern New Jersey (Wayne), lived 5 years in Michigan (and had a Michigan mother), 10 years in New York City, and, having reached the age of dialect impermeability, 20 years in Wisconsin.
Words needed. Here are two things that it would be nice to have a word for:

1. The inaccurate sense of bodily dimension caused by wearing a backpack that leads a person to think they can turn around in a space that would be adequate if they were not wearing a backpack.

2. The sense that a word is the wrong word because when you think of it you add on some other words that it is often found with in a phrase, even though you are not using that phrase. For example, I cannot stand the use of the word "Likewise" to begin a sentence. I've got to change it to "Similarly" because it causes me to think "Likewise, I'm sure"--which is a bit weird because people don't say "Likewise, I'm sure" anymore and in fact it's hard to remember why they ever did. For some reason, I picture Jean Harlow saying it.

UPDATE: My son John offers two more examples of the "sense that a word is wrong...":
"Presume" suggests "Dr. Livingstone, I presume"
"Surely" suggests "Surely you jest"
What do you want, a medal? Let me offer Banuchi a more apt analogy than his gold and sandstone, so it will make more sense to be concerned with how government labels something: marriage is like a medal. If the government had a medal that had previously been given only to soldiers who had been wounded in battle while saving the life of another, and it then starts giving the medal to all soldiers wounded in battle, the soldiers who met the higher standard would suffer a devaluation of their medal.

But why should government be involved in giving out medals for the quality of our personal relationships? But let's say we think that government should be giving out medals to honor people's relationships and that marriage is the highest honor to be paid. Shouldn't government have to apply a more substantive standard for handing out honors than just the sex of the proposed recipients? Government does not and cannot examine what is really deeply valuable about a relationship. That would be an outrageous intrusion. All that is left then is to honor people because of their genitalia.

So the new analogy--which I think is better than any other analogy I've seen--is also defective. The devalued medal had once designated a particularly worthy performance in battle, and now no longer communicates that the person who received the medal had that additional distinction. The label marriage, when restricted to different sex couples, isn't needed to communicate that a couple in fact has the distinction of having two kinds of genitalia. If people could marry without the two sex requirement, we'd still be able to detect which couples met the man + woman standard. What we would lose is the government's expression of the belief that higher honor is due. People need to think clearly about not just whether that belief is correct but about whether government ought to be expressing it.
For the annals of bad analogies. After the NYT wrote an editorial favoring gay marriage, the Executive Director of the New York Christian Coalition, Rev. Bill Banuchi, wrote in to offer an analogy to show how recognizing gay marriage hurts traditional marriage:
If I have an ounce of gold and the government suddenly announces that sandstone will now be called gold and valued equally, what will happen to the value of my gold? It will crash, and so will the economy.

So will it be with gay marriage. Marriage will be further devalued, and so will our entire social order.
I suspect the Times chose this letter because it is such a monumentally bad analogy. Gold is, obviously, not like marriage, because people have an interest in accumulating quantities of gold, but each person can only have one other person in the marriage market. Once you have your one, you have no interest in whether someone else also has one. You have no interest in maintaining the scarcity of marriage, because there is no less value in your relationship to another person if other people also have relationships. In fact, you're better off if other people are also securely paired off, because then rivals for your spouse are less likely to interfere with your relationship. Preserving the scarcity of a traded good like gold may bolster its price, but there is no equivalent point where you "sell" your marriage.

Banuchi's attitude toward government labeling also doesn't make sense. If the government were to say "sandstone will now be called gold and valued equally," as long as I could see the two products and choose my vendor, I would still buy the real gold. Who would buy sandstone at the price of gold? In fact, people would stop buying sandstone at all if government fixed its price at the same level as gold! If somehow people did want to buy sandstone at the price of gold, it must be because they have found some amazing quality to standstone that inspires them to buy it. Thus, Banuchi may think that a gay relationship is like a worthless stone compared to gold, but if people are choosing it over heterosexual marriage when both impose the same obligations, it must be because they have found real value in it. It would not be the government labeling that caused that value to come into being, but the experiences of the people engaging in the relationship.

UPDATE: If you read this earlier, you might have seen that I had "diamonds" instead of gold at one point. That was caused by bad editing. I was going to offer Banuchi the tip that he'd have a better analogy if he used diamonds and cubic zirconium instead of gold and sandstone, because there would be some potential to mistake one for the other. That got too complicated and I'd meant to take it out. Sorry.

February 20, 2004

Gay marriage in .... Cambodia! King Norodom Sihanouk has an opinion, according to BBC news:
After watching television images of gay marriages in San Francisco, the 81-year-old monarch has decided that single sex weddings should be allowed in Cambodia too.

He expressed his views in a hand written message on his website which has proved extremely popular in Cambodia.

The king said that as a "liberal democracy", Cambodia should allow "marriage between man and man... or between woman and woman."

He said he had respect for homosexual and lesbians and said they were as they were because God loved a "wide range of tastes."
Those televised images are powerful.
How Madison Voted in the Primary. Once again I've seen something in The Isthmus (our local free tabloid) but can't link it to their website, because their website is woefully deficient. (Uh-oh, second use of the word "woefully" today! Should I be concerned about my mood or my woefully deficient vocabulary?)

The Isthmus has the city mapped by region showing how people voted. There was so much Dean-related activity through the whole campaign season, yet Dean only won the isthmus area, that is, the studenty part of town. Kerry won most of the city, so what did Edwards win? Interestingly enough, Edwards won the wealthiest neighborhoods, Shorewood and Maple Bluff! Edwards is the one who stresses his humble background and claims special connection to the least wealthy people. That resonates with the most wealthy people, which for some reason, doesn't surprise me.
Watching for the cobra. Prof. Yin has a nice analysis of last night's The Apprentice. There are lots of reasons for watching this show. As you may know, I was going to quit watching, right at the point when Trump promoted his golf course as the best golf course in NY State. But, yeah, I'm watching again, even though last night he went on about how great his "yooge" house in the suburbs is. One reason people watch, apparently, judging from Prof. Yin's comments, is to see Trump snap his fingers in the the cobra-strike motion when he says "You're fired." I think I've heard of people going about saying "You're fired" and doing the cobra gesture just for fun. That could be really annoying. Imagine if lawprofs did that to students who gave bad answers in classroom Socratic dialogues.

My comment on the competition last night is this. They spent way too much effort and, especially, time fixing up the apartments. More of a markup on the previous rental price for either apartment could have been achieved if they had just basically cleaned up the apartment on the first day and spent far more of the time drumming up prospective tenants and negotiating with them. The apartments were already quite valuable, and the teams were going to be judged on how much of a markup they achieved over the old rent. But there was no way to determine how much of the markup to attribute to improvements made. They left too little time to sell the apartment and completely reeked of desperation in the end. As usual, they were reduced to running out in the street and begging passersby to do business with them. That was a bad approach to lemonade, but even worse when trying to get people to sign a lease.
Advertising America in Arabic. The U.S. broadcasts television in Arabic in the Middle East. The NYT reports:
Between programs, Al Hurra presents unsubtle promotional spots. Heavy orchestral music surges behind images of horses running free, or men walking against the crowd, or eye after eye opening wide. "You think, you aspire, you chose, you express, you are free, Al Hurra, just the way you are," read the text on one.
I love the Mr. Rogers line at the end.

The overall tone of this, however, isn't really any sillier or more condescending than bad commercials aimed at Americans, which are really sillier in a way since they tend to assert that a car or a soda will bring us freedom and self-expression.

Mustafa B. Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, is critical:
"The people they have hired look modern, hip, and the beat is fast, but it won't have an impact on the perception of the United States ... I think the Americans are mistaken if they assume they can change their image in the region. ... People became anti-American because they don't like American policies."

But if that were really true, why would Americans spend so much money advertising to other Americans, about political matters as well as ordinary products? Why would we concern ourselves so much with the effect of money on political campaigns? It must be that advertising works, even on educated and sophisticated people. I can understand thinking that one is being talked down to and patronized when advertising (aka propaganda) is aimed their way, but I hope Al Hurra's target audience realizes that Americans advertise to Americans in the same way.
It's wrong to laugh at memorials, isn't it? But some of these are woefully absurd. Click on the slideshow for pictures of losing proposals for the WTC memorial. Which is worst: two jet planes, a giant question mark, a large steel globe with sprawling legs and long arms with hands that hold a smaller globe, a giant apple impaled on a 900 foot spike, the artificial heart doctor's heart-shaped box kitsch? If you go here, you can search by state or country and find proposals from individual cities. The losing entries implicitly make the argument for Maya Lin-style minimalism.

February 19, 2004

Prospects for a one-on-one debate. I wonder if Kerry will take up Edwards' challenge to have a two-man debate. I'd like to see them do it. It would be different, and so they might be able to get some new people to watch. Kerry should be able to trust Edwards to keep it sunny, since that is the Edwards' gimmick. The two are likely to end up on the same ticket, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to share the spotlight, just the two of them?

One problem, raised by Dennis Miller on his show last night:
How craggy is Kerry going to look at that point--when you got a kid at the next podium who's got a baby's bottom for a face?
It's a vast right-wing con... ... I mean ... "it's a political, you know, witch hunt...."

It's Roll-Out-the-First-Lady time again!
Forget Whole Foods, what about Pure Foods? Speaking of Atkins-ing, there's this new development:
In Southern California, two entrepreneurs (and Atkins dieters) last month opened the first two in a chain of low-carb supermarkets called Pure Foods, and individual low-carb markets are opening nationwide....

Cathryn Kennedi, 42, had gone to Pure Foods in Santa Monica, Calif., to pick up low-carb bagels, pasta and cereal (made with soy protein instead of flour). Like others at the store, she said she did not think she needed to lose weight. Still, she said, "I think there's some truth to not grabbing carbs. I feel more energy when I eat low-carb.

"I've been eating healthy for a long time, but when you get home from work, the things you grab are all carbs," she said. "The easiest thing is to grab a bagel. If they can make it easy to grab one that's low-carb, it's more convenient."
Have you noticed that people don't "eat" food anymore, they "grab" it? Well, if we were only grabbing food items, we really wouldn't have this weight problem, would we?

Of course, the cutting-edge Californians who shop at Pure Foods don't even need to lose weight. They just Atkins for "health" and "energy."
"A Pleasure Palace Without the Guilt." That encounter with the evil scale caused me to go to Whole Foods and buy a lot of meat and vegetables. I see they've just gotten their first Whole Foods in New York City and they seem to be getting all weird about it. This is from the NYT (the quote above is the effusive headline):
Whole Foods subscribes to a religion that might be called moralistic hedonism. With an eye to pleasing presentation and attractive packaging, it offers a Venusberg of gustatory temptations, often rarefied, and all guaranteed to be good for you.
Oh, really? You'd think people in New York would be more jaded, but here they are, all jazzed up about Whole Foods, which is a nice but normal amenity out here in the hinterlands.

Hinterlands? Did I write that? It's only because I'm coming down with a cold and raving absurdly. I've never written "hinterlands" before in my life. I'm not even sure what makes lands "hinter," though sure the quality of hinterness (aka hintertude) is something that would make you want to go forward out of the lands in question.
Feeling groggy not bloggy today. Sorry for not posting yet today, but I seem to be getting a cold, and I haven't had a cold in over ten years, so I am a complete baby about it. I must have woken up every hour last night. I'm up to disc 3 in The Life of Pi, and it's the part with the sinking ship and the scary lifeboat doings. That was all quite interesting, but not very sleepable-to.

I would prefer at this point to go home and spend the rest of the day alternating peacefully between reading admissions files and trying to finish going over the edit of my law review article, but I have agreed to help some students with their moot court problem at 1:30. I'd also like to go home for lunch, because I'm Atkins-ing again after an unfortunate run-in with an evil doctor's scale yesterday. I let my doctor know that her scale was weighing me 20 pounds higher than my home digital scale and she said she never gets on that scale and a lot of patients refuse to be weighed. I said I didn't know you could refuse, and she made a big point of blacking out the unfair weight statistic on my chart and saying she was definitely going have that scale checked. She said that about three times. That's the kind of obliging health service we get in Madison, Wisconsin.

February 18, 2004

The effect of pictures from San Francisco on the American psyche. The cable news channels are covering the San Francisco gay marriage events and showing various film clips of people waiting in line to marry, marrying, and celebrating afterwards. They must have miles of footage, giving them great power to shape public opinion. Let's say they need five brief clips to go with their story. There are thousands of couples to choose from. They could try to increase public acceptance of gay marriage by picking five couples who look very clean-cut and friendly, who look warmly happy to marry, perhaps with sweet children at their sides. They could do the opposite by picking the five couples who most seem to be only using the occasion to demonstrate a political position and who seem most likely to threaten or disturb the average American.
Why not scream? I watched Dean's speech today. As he got toward the end, he started using that growly voice that he used in Iowa just before his fateful scream. He even ended with a big sweep of the arm that seemed like the Iowa arm move that accompanied the scream. I was kind of hoping for him to do the big scream again, just for fun and because he could have done it with impunity now. Ah well, nice concession speech anyway. It's good to go out with grace and style. I remember Al Gore giving his final concession speech in 2000, after the Supreme Court's decision. He was at his very best that day.
I don't even want to talk about last night's American Idol. I don't want to have to think about it. Each singer was worse than the one that went before. Everyone this week was worse than anyone last week. I think they deliberately group them unevenly to set up the wild card show. Bring back Jennifer Hudson.
Backward! If there is one way to give a boring speech in Wisconsin, it is to start out with the observation that the state's motto is "Forward." Senator Kerry, I'm looking at you.
"The motto of the state of Wisconsin is 'Forward'," Mr. Kerry said. "And I want to thank the state of Wisconsin for moving this cause and this campaign forward tonight here in this great state."
That motto was thought up in 1851, which is approximately the year Kerry's rhetorical style was last in fashion.

I was about to give him credit for not festooning his speech with adjectives. I was going to say it must have been hard to resist saying "the great state" of Wisconsin. But then I glanced back up there and saw he didn't resist.

I wonder, what state isn't a "great state"? Can we ever get another adjective for a state? No? That's just great.

February 17, 2004

The pundits are just loving the Edwards surge. I'm watching Hardball and the energy is bursting off the screen tonight: they had gotten tired of the story of how Kerry somehow pulled into an immense lead, leaving Dean in the dust. The new story is Edwards, Edwards, Edwards. It seems as if we are not engaged in choosing a President, but keeping the commentators excited.
Voting in a church. So what's it like voting at the First Congregational Church, my polling place, in Madison, Wisconsin? The booths are set up in a charming high-ceilinged library at the end of a long hallway, past a closed door to a chapel. Are there shelves all around, piled with Bibles and other religious books? Why, yes! Oh, but surely they wouldn't leave up a fabric wall hanging, about 4 feet wide and 6 feet high, with 5 inch letters reading:
More light shall break forth from out God's word
No, they wouldn't just leave that up right over where we're voting, would they? Why, yes they would!

And was there a sign outside on the street identifying the church as a polling place? Well, why not just put a cardboard "polling place" insert into the church's regular wooden sign holder? It doesn't matter that there's a lovely cross painted at the top of that sign, does it? How picky can you get!
It's scary. So last night I was tying up the phone line for a long time with my computer modem. (Yes, I am too lazy to go through the trouble of getting some sort of high speed access for home--not even too cheap, just purely too lazy.) I finally got off the phone and within 60 seconds it rings, which I think means it's pretty likely to be a computer-dialed call, especially since anyone who might eagerly call and recall me would know my cell phone number.

I pick up and out booms, "This is John Kerry!" I hang up immediately and say "It's Kerry," then realize I've also just said, "It's scary."
Primary day at last. My polling place is a church. I find that rather strange! Anyway, the skies are clear and the temperature is on the way up. On my short drive in to work, as I stopped at a traffic light near the Congregational church that is my polling place, there were two young women standing in place holding a large Dean sign. I also saw Dean signs stapled to lamp posts and telephone poles. No signs for anyone else.

I managed to avoid laying eyes on the candidates, even when events--like Clark endorsing Dean--were taking place just a couple blocks from my office. If the debate had been in Madison, though, I would have gone. In fact, I've watched all the debates this primary season. I just detest rallies.
Re-creating the brand of San Francisco? As travelers flood into San Francisco to take advantage of its (perhaps temporary) gay marriage policy, consider whether that policy is part of a larger local economic plan. Only last Sunday, Joan Ryan wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle about
San Francisco's growing realization that its singular charm is not enough anymore to counterbalance the high cost of workers' compensation in California, the ragged men and women slumped outside department stores and cafes, the $500,000 fixer-upper homes, the uneven public schools, the 1.5 percent payroll tax. …

"This city is no longer going to sit back and wait," [San Francisco Mayor] Newsom told a gathering of businesspeople soon after he took office last month. "San Francisco is on the move."

To that end, Newsom is establishing a marketing department in his office of economic development. … San Francisco is taking the counterintuitive tact of attracting big business not by downplaying the city's antiestablishment spirit but also by emphasizing it. …

Just as the mayor's office and the airport have ramped up their marketing, San Francisco's Convention and Visitors Bureau is about to start an ambitious campaign to lure tourists back. Officials are careful to say they are not "re-creating the brand" of San Francisco. "It's about how to re-express it in a new way," said Laurie Armstrong, the bureau's vice president of public relations.

February 16, 2004

Is Mayor Newsom like Judge Roy Moore? Rod Dreher at The Corner poses a question with an easy answer--and not the easy answer he implies is the easy answer:
What I don't get is this: why was it wrong for Judge Roy Moore of Alabama to unilaterally declare federal law wrong, and defy it by installing a Ten Commandments monument in a courthouse rotunda ... but it's okay for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to unilaterally declare state law wrong in prohibiting same-sex marriage, and defy it by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples? I mean, I know why the media was outraged by the former episode of grandstanding and not the latter, but as a legal matter, what's the difference?
Moore was made a party to a lawsuit, which he lost. He was ordered to remove the monument, and he defied the court order. If a court orders Newsom to stop and he continues, then he'll be like Moore. It's one thing to act upon one's own "unilateral" decision about what the law means in the first instance, quite another to defy a court order. Moore had his opportunity to defend his legal interpretation in court. Newsom is basing his actions on an interpretation of law, and his day in court has not yet occurred.

There are some similarities too, though. Both men decided to use their position of power to stage a demonstration that stirred the intense passion of a large group of supporters and made them feel deeply invested in preserving the new state of affairs. Maybe I'm not reading enough of the news stories about Newsom, but I don't think he's getting much approval from the press. The events are being covered, but Newsom isn't being hailed as a hero at this point. I think the coverage of the two men at the same stage in the events has been roughly similar. If Newsom is ordered to stop and he persists, he will undermine his own reputation the way Moore did.

UPDATE: Prof. Yin agrees with me (or "tends to agree" with me) about the Moore-Newsom distinction. He goes on to make the point, which is surely correct, that just because what Newsom is doing isn't as bad as what Moore did doesn't necessarily mean it's laudable: there were other ways to test the state law and produce a court opinion on the issue. On the other hand, as I discussed here, there is something to a big, visible demonstration that affects (in both directions) how people think about the legal issues. Eugene Volokh has some good discussion of the Moore-Newsom distinction and of the basis for Newsom's legal interpretation here.
Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You? I got this from Prof. Yin. He was Rule 11. I too am Rule 11. Ah, I bet everyone comes out Rule 11. Rule 11 is just more of a person than the other rules.

I'm still waiting for the "Which Federal Courts Doctrine Are You?" quiz, where you can be mootness or abstention or the independent and adequate state ground doctrine.

UPDATE: This blog thinks I was somehow saying or implying that people who don't come out as Rule 11 on the Civpro quiz are "inferior." How do you get that? Somehow now the term "everyone" means the superior people? Or is it the "Rule 11 is just more of a person than the other rules." That clearly means Rule 11 seems to contain more human-being-ish attributes. For a nonhuman thing to be more like a human being doesn't imply superiority. Remember "to err is human"--being human implies a whole range of qualities, good and bad.

RE-UPDATE: Craig has reinterpreted my post now, so all is forgiven. Or, I mean ... Rule 11-ishly ... sanctions will be imposed!
Speaking of good taste, the NYT ran an article yesterday about rudeness and driving, which began:
The comedian George Carlin has observed that all the other drivers on the road fall into one of two categories: idiots or lunatics. The former are the slowpokes blocking you; the latter are the leadfoots zooming past you.
"Lunatics"? That's not the way I heard it!
The return of low-tech spelling. Gawker has the Dow Jones memo outlawing the use of computer spell checking devices.
We have had too many incidents where the use of the spell-check program within our editorial production system (news station) led to our publication of errors on Dow Jones Newswires. Most typically, this has involved the inadvertent changing, based on a spell-check suggestion, of a proper name of a person or company into a non-related word.
How one longs to know the specific errors that went out over the wire! Gawker has a funny guess over there, but it's cruder than the taste level I'm enforcing for myself here. I'll just say I've often found the suggested changes in legal materials pretty funny. The computer seems so intent on calling Scalia "Scalier." It wants to call me "Alehouse."
Some idiosyncratic arrangements. It's a nice cold morning in Wisconsin. The phone rang at 11:30 last night, after I was asleep, so I ended up having the opportunity to read a few pieces in the new New Yorker last night. I read Peter Schjeldahl's article on the Barnes Foundation:
Thousands of wonderful objects fill a graceful ch√Ęteau that was finished in 1925. Among them, hundreds of School of Paris modern paintings and a smattering of Old Masters and American moderns are massed on walls covered in warm tan burlap, labelled only with the artists’ names. The pictures are interspersed with items of skilled metalwork (hinges, lock plates, utensils). Antique furniture, African sculpture, Pennsylvania folk art, Egyptian and Greek antiquities, and Southwest Indian rugs and ceramics and jewelry cluster throughout.
The question is whether this place can be kept intact, in its idiosyncratic form, according to the terms of the donor's will or whether a court will see the financial difficulties as sufficient to justify breaking it up. Schjeldahl begs for it to be kept as it is:
The Barnes is a work of art in itself, more than the sum of its fabulous parts. The same may be said for other institutionalized private collections—New York’s Frick, Boston’s Gardner—but without equal justice. None so engages visitors in an adventure of sensibility. As you test the virtues of the collection, they test you, probing the depths and exposing the limits of your perceptive powers. You don’t view the installation so much as live it, undergoing an experience that will persist in your memory like a love affair that taught you some thrilling, and some dismaying, things about your character. If there were other places like the Barnes, dispensing with it would not be tragic. But one minus one is zero.
You'll have to buy the paper copy to see the beautiful photograph of one orange-burlapped wall, a case of African sculptures, assorted paintings by Matisse and Picasso, and other items in an arrangement constituting one sector of the grand work of art by "the strange Dr. Albert Barnes."

The paper copy of this issue is also needed to read the David Sedaris story, "The Living Dead," which I also read last night. Serious mouse lovers should beware. Driving into work this morning, I was listening to slot 4 in the CD player which was also David Sedaris, the part where his sister Lisa is expressing her excessive concern about dogs and the story of the exotic turtles and the racoon that chewed two legs off each of them leaving them looking like half-stripped Volkswagens.

I pulled my nonstripped turtle-morphic green Volkswagen into the garage at Grainger Hall and came into my office where post-Impressionist reproductions (Matisse, Gaugin, Denis, Bonnard) are idiosyncratically arrayed on taxi-yellow walls.

February 15, 2004

Undertaker: No Poo. The guru--she prefers "do-roo"--of curly hair has lots of tips, including don't use shampoo--which she prefers to call "poo." Why she hasn't washed her hair for years! And people pay her $200 a session for advice. So yeah, don't wash your hair, just rinse it out, or "wash" it with conditioner! Don't even touch it when it's drying and fingers only for combing. She's really quite serious:
"I have instructions in my will," she said. "The mortician must know you can't brush my hair, no pooing and leave the curls as they are."
"The gay studies department, whatever that is." Robert Rauschenberg answers some questions from Deborah Solomon in today's NYT:
Aren't you having another show now at Yale?

Yes. I am not happy with it. It was organized by the gay studies department, whatever that is. It's not an approach that makes sense. I refused to give them permission to reproduce the works in a catalog.
Hmmm.... a little more info would be nice! There's this description:
"Robert Rauschenberg: Gifts to Terry Van Brunt'' features about 40 pieces that Rauschenberg gave as presents to his former lover, Terry Van Brunt. ... Jonathan Katz, an associate professor at Yale who launched the gay and lesbian studies program there in 2002, organized the exhibit.

"Rauschenberg himself does not want the work talked about in a gay context,'' Katz said. "But I am not responsible to the artist's wishes. I am responsible to the work.''

The collection includes "Bob's Face With Fly,'' a self-portrait that shows a fly on Rauschenberg's face, and "Terry's Briefcase Piece,'' a briefcase that was painted and collaged. Katz believes the exhibit is important because it shows how Rauschenberg's personal life has shaped his work.
Meanwhile, back in the NYT interview, Rauschenberg is presenting himself as impersonally as possible. He speaks of painting from photographs. Asked “What sort of photographs do you prefer?,” he asserts that he “likes photographs of anything uninteresting. Maybe just two doors on a wall.” Asked “What is so great about the ordinary anyhow?, he answers, “I find the quietness in the ordinary much more satisfying." Asked if at 78, he thinks about dying, he says “No. Not at all” and tells a hackneyed anecdote about someone else. Asked why he left New York in 1970 to go live by the ocean in Florida, he alludes to a feeling of responsibility about “everybody … leaving their spouses,” then says a fortuneteller told him “it wasn't my fault but that I should go to sunshine and water” and he “was pleased with that.” He gives as the secret to happiness “enjoy[ing] something simple, like just looking at the ocean.”
John Edwards and the Coatless Girl. Edwards' use of the image of a "coatless girl" to represent the 35 million Americans who fall below the poverty line is coming in for some of the same sort of questioning aimed at Reagan's "welfare queen."
"Edwards would do better to say there's a girl somewhere in America who's cold because her family can't afford to fix the furnace," said Robert E. Rector of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, who has analyzed data from the Census Bureau and other agencies on the living standards of the poor. Since the typical American family below the poverty line has a car, air-conditioning, a microwave oven, a stereo and two color televisions with cable or satellite service, Mr. Rector said, it was implausible to assume the family could not afford coats.
(Nice caricature of Ralph Nader at that link too.)
Answering my own question: Point 7 in the previous post is:
Why do people say "I was thinking to myself"? Is there some way of thinking to someone other than yourself?
The answer is: Yes! It's called speaking. Notice that another way to say "I thought" is "I said to myself."

So go ahead, start saying things like, "I thought to her that she had some pretty strange ideas," and "Think to me whether I'm crazy."
Unrelated observations to get the blog started this morning:

1. The NYT Book Review leads off with a nice review of the book I've been reading this week, Sam Kashner's "When I Was Cool." The review includes some funny stuff (about Sam and the Beatniks).

2. My favorite old, old TV show, which I wish they'd release on DVD, especially since they haven't run it on cable in years as far as I can tell, is "Dobie Gillis." (Wait, that is related. Ignore this post ... unless you're in the DVD business.)

3. As you can see from the last post from yesterday, I've decided to start capitalizing the V in TiVo. It was hypocritical of me not to, because I love TiVo and because I've complained about people who are lazy about using the shift key. Also, it really does look better capitalized that way, because the V reaches over, above the i and nearly touches the T, making TV quite visible.

4. Even though I took a swipe at The White Stripes the other day, I've got nothing against them. They remind me of some things in the 70s that I liked a lot, and my favorite TV fictional character, Joan Girardi, seems to like them as well, judging from this week's episode, which I finally got around to watching yesterday.

5. Speaking of Joan of Arcadia, and going un-random again, I note that Friday's episode would be of interest to those who are following the Tennessee v. Lane case in the Supreme Court: a character who uses a wheelchair is faced with a broken elevator just as he has his first date with his beautiful co-worker who lives on the second floor. She's with him at the time and the two of them work out a way to get up the stairs. The actress is Sidney Poitier's daughter (Sydney Tamia Poitier), by the way, and the actor is John Ritter's son (Jason Ritter).

6. When I was making my link for White Stripes above, I typo'd "white strips." I wonder if The White Stripes are annoyed about Whitestrips, though I note that if you Google "white strips"--with the space in the middle--you actually do get The White Stripes, so actually it should be Crest annoyed with The White Stripes, not the other way around.

7. Why do people say "I was thinking to myself"? Is there some way of thinking to someone other than yourself?

8. Now, I've got to finish reading the Sunday NYT, which I left on the dining room table half an hour ago to go online to find out when Border's opens. I want to get to Border's early, because I want to get a table in the cafe. I've got to isolate myself from household temptations so I can get through checking the edit on my law review article. I'm quite happy with the job they did on it though so I'm no longer in the dread phase described here.