May 8, 2004

Bush visits Wisconsin.

Bush is always coming to Wisconsin, but he never comes to Madison. Check out all the negativity the Madison-based newspaper stuffs into its report of Bush's Wisconsin visit and you won't wonder why he avoids Madison.

UPDATE: Picture removed. You can go to the link and see it, but it's not my photograph and it's kind of annoying after a while. Jeez, a cow's head is big!

"Supersize Me."

Everybody seems to like "Supersize Me," that new comic documentary about a guy who eats (and overeats) every meal at McDonald's for a month and gains weight. Boring quip I heard on TV: "Everybody but McDonald's." Oh yeah? I bet McDonald's loves the movie. I'll bet plenty of people leave the movie and go straight to McDonald's. They are hungry and they could practically smell the french fries while they were sitting there watching the thing. They aren't planning to overeat and they aren't going to go more than once a day, so whatever comical, horrendous results are depicted in the film obviously don't apply to them. I say McDonald's is perfectly happy about this film.

Coffee conversation.

ME [Reading this]: "Shakespeare didn't have coffee!"

JOHN: "But Beethoven did. He cared so much about his coffee that he counted out the beans. He had to have 60 beans per cup.

That last link also has Bach's Coffee Cantata:
Mmm! How sweet the coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses, mellower than muscatel wine. Coffee, coffee I must have, and if someone wishes to give me a treat, ah, then pour me out some coffee!

You'll know you're a real coffee person if reading that makes you go get some coffee.

Where did coffee originate? Ethiopia! "Abyssinian goat herder Kaldi observed his herd's interest in eating berries of a certain tree whereupon they would become excited and spirited for periods of time, and often wanted to neither rest nor sleep at night." So thanks to Kaldi's perceptive goats for the centuries of enhanced perception their discovery bestowed upon us.

Opportunities pursued elsewhere.

Gordon has a post on the Forbes article about Madison, in which he spells my first name both correctly and incorrectly, which leads me into the sort of discussion that exemplifies the kind of thing (other than extra photographs) that I house on my other blog. Even though I don't resist digressions and odd ramblings on this blog, I actually do have standards here. So go to that link if you want to know the travails of a lifetime of saying "no e," the subject of "no e-mail," the Simpsons episode with no "e" key on the typewriter, my mother's answer to the question of "Where do babies come from?" in its entirety, and speculation about the connection between my parents' practices and why I became a law professor.

ADDED: In the interest of preservation, 8 years after this post was published, I'm pasting in the material from the other blog:

The travails of having a name that's perfectly easy to spell and misspell.
I see Gordon linked to me on his blog and managed to spell my name correctly and incorrectly in the same post. There are people in the Law School who have known me for 20 years and still spell my name wrong. "Ann" is such a simple name, the plainest possible name, so plain that it seems people feel a pull to make it less plain. Surely, it can't just be "Ann." It seems to need the kind of fancying up that only an "e" can provide. There, now, doesn't it look so much more elegant, so much more anglophilically royal? I tried to use Google to trace down the reason for the two spellings. I had a theory that "Anne" related to various English queens in a way that led Americans to go for the "Ann" spelling, and a related theory that "Ann" was chosen by various severe Protestant groups who rejected adornment. (I note the Shaker leader Ann Lee.) It's very hard to write a Google search for this, and I was stymied by the tendency of "no e" to draw in "no e-mail." Well, at least that connected two of the banes of my existence: junk email and the "junk" e people want to put on my name--and how hard it is to stop both things. When telling my name to a stranger who is writing it down--such as when making an appointment or placing an order--if I anticipate the problem and say "Ann A-N-N...," the person frequently seems disturbed, as if I think they are an idiot because I'm spelling out such an easy to spell name. If I say "Ann, that's Ann with no e," they often don't hear what I'm saying. (As for my last name, I've learned to spell out the first three letters and then say "house," with no warning that I'm going to stop saying letters in a row, and people always get it. I used to try to say the first three letters, then say "and then just house," which people found puzzling, because of the intrusive "and then" which they just couldn't hear straight. There's no similar solution for spelling "Ann.")

(Hmmm.... my little Google search turned up this episode of The Simpsons, in which Ann Landers is a character and Homer has trouble writing on a typewriter because it has no "e" key. Maybe I'm too lazy to read enough about this episode to see if the answer is on this page, but did Ann steal the "e" key as a protest? Kinda like that "w" key vandalism by the outgoing Clinton people?)

But why did my parents choose "Ann" and spell it that way? My parents thought avoiding nicknames was important and deliberately gave all three children one syllable names so they were unshortenable. They chose "Ann" to produce all As--my middle initial is A too. They liked the idea of "triple A" for some reason, and maybe it helped me be a good student by giving me the sense that I had a special relationship with "A." But why did they pick Ann and not Anne? Why give me the plainest possible name and deprive me of even the last morsel of decoration? Were they interested in rejecting anglophilia? Did they think it was more Protestant? Or was it some concept about being modern? My parents were great at leaving me to figure out things for myself, even if I asked a direct question. For example, the answer to the question "Where do babies come from?" was, in its entirety, "You know how men and women are physically built." So even if you asked, you could at best hope for a clue--oh and an implicit expression of confidence that you could figure it out for yourself or maybe only that you're better off with something to figure out than an answer handed to you on a plate. This may explain why I became a law professor. And it even suggests why they named me Ann in the first place: because it created the question, why Ann and not Anne, which I could wonder about for the rest of my life, without ever reaching an answer, but having various theories along that way that would give me something to think about. That thought reminded me of something my mother used to say, her favorite answer, and possibly her only answer, to the childish habit of asking why: "That's so little girls like you can ask questions." Hmmmm.... that reminds me to try to use the Socratic method more in class, in honor of my mysterious mother, who is no longer in a position even to deflect my questions.
That post contained a couple links, but clicking them now gets me nowhere, which reinforces my commitment to preservation.

May 7, 2004

Remember liner notes?

Here's a ripe example of just one sentence in a much longer expanse of writing:
Back to the drum opening--12:8, 6:8, 9:8, 3:4--whatever musical stenographers may care to title what the composer heard in his head, is part of a very old idea that someday all good music will return from its assorted labels which inhibit it with fashions, styles, and certain celebrated rhythms of pounding exactness that lead this composer to believe that either the musician or the audience playing or liking such repeated debuts of so-called musical inventions must be nuts to need drums, bass, guitar, and piano to pound out the already too obvious time night after night 'til actually if sanity can't be sustained one begins to like it without twisting or even dancing, popping fingers, or at least working out one's frenzy in ye old brass bed mama.

That's Charles Mingus, writing about this. Which is "absolutely essential," according to this. Thanks to John for pointing that out. And buying the CD.

"All for the joy of writing."

Ruth Franklin writes in TNR (it's a review of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves," but I'm not addressing that):
As a professional who almost never writes anything without getting paid, I am continually amazed that the Internet is full of people who sit down at their computers every day and send out thoughtful commentary on politics, books, music, even grammar--all for the joy of writing. There are plenty of swine amid the pearls, but the case could be made that blogs constitute the contemporary revival of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century commonplace books--journals of sorts in which people would collect and comment on passages from their reading, with the difference that blogs enrich the experience by inviting commentary from others.
As a professional who talks for a living, I am continually amazed that the world is full of people yammering away all for the sheer pleasure of expressing themselves. Nah! Obviously, people (some of us) live in words--spoken, or written or swirling around in our heads. What else can we do? (I say rhetorically, not soliciting suggestions.)

Oh, and of course blogs are like commonplace books. I've always liked commonplace books: here's one by E.M. Forster that I keep on the desk in my bedroom.

"An irresponsible, intellectually dishonest windbag like Moore."

In TNR, Michelle Cottle writes about the Michael Moore/Disney tangle:
On his website, the filmmaker portrays himself as a courageous, long-suffering truth-teller, lamenting the "profound censorship obstacles" he often encounters and characterizing this latest "struggle" as part of a larger "lesson in just how difficult it is in the country to create a piece of art that might upset those in charge." Fortunately for the American people, the resolute Moore vows to keep fighting for our right to view his latest masterpiece--"because, after all, it's a free country."

Yes, it is a free country, but it is not a perfect one. Because in a perfect country, an irresponsible, intellectually dishonest windbag like Moore would not be a rich, successful, Oscar-winning documentarian. He would instead be just another anonymous nutter, mumbling about fluoride in the water and penning anti-establishment tracts by candlelight in some backwoods Appalachian shack.

Why assume every crackpot belongs in Appalachia? He'd be in Michigan. And I think a perfect country needs its share of blowhard, dishonest filmmakers. My idea of a perfect country would be one with plenty of great artists and smart, educated citizens who know better than to think that artists are telling the straight truth. It would also have professional, ethical journalists, who preserve the long term value of journalism and don't just use it in the short term to make their own political statements. Oh, and it would have people who make political statements be making them because they genuinely believe the truth of what they are saying and therefore rationally choose to persuade through sound evidence and argument--because the citizens are smart and educated. Where does the documentary filmmaker fit in, then? Well, you can either be a journalist-documentarian or an artist-documentarian. I include the comedian-documentarian in the second category. That's what Moore is. If you don't like him, don't pay attention to him.

Do I think Disney is wrong not to distribute his film? No. They didn't break any deals, as Cottle's article, like other articles, explains. (I assumed the contrary here, and take it back.) They have an interest in preserving the wide appeal of the Disney name by not affiliating it with strong political statements, like Moore's, and they built that interest into their arrangement with Miramax. So Moore (it appears) hasn't been wronged. But do I blame Moore for grandstanding and milking this and dragging in Jeb Bush? Nah! Those are typical Moore antics. Stop paying attention to him. You're only giving him power! Disney gave him power, too--the point of my earlier post--by tangling with him.


Cliff made the cut! Tiger had a good day too.

UPDATE: Cliff actually didn't make the cut. Things looked just fine, then something awful happened on the last two holes. I guess there is no limit, in golf, to how much ground you can lose on one hole. (Note: Cliff is my nephew.)

What's for dinner in Kyoto?

Go read Nina Camic's blogging from Kyoto, with not just food but geishas and geisha-related insight. And scroll down for gardens and shrines and a chance meeting with the famous priest of Nan-ji.


Three minutes to go, and still no one has left.

UPDATE: Finally, someone left!

Really winding down.

Down to the last 15 minutes of the FedJur exam, and still no one has left. And these are nearly all third year students .... Hmmmm.... I'll have to ask if it was too hard. I'm thinking these were just the sort of questions that you could always think of something more to say, so one just stays around and keeps saying one more thing until time is called. But perhaps it is too hard. Perhaps the fourth question is a real puzzler ...

How's Rumsfeld doing?

I considered TiVo-ing the CNN coverage of Rumsfeld talking to Congress, but I stopped myself at the last minute, because I had a vision of it going something like the Rice appearance before the 9/11 Commission, with horrible, unseemly grandstanding by a panel of scolds. I'll read about it. Submit it in writing.

Winding down.

We're down to the last half hour of the exam. The laptop battery is down to 46%. The carillon bells just tolled the hour, possibly unnerving the exam-takers. No one has left the exam yet, even though there are only 4 questions. I gaze out the window. There are many more students than earlier outside walking about and sprawling on the Mall. Mrawlling.

The Google oogle ogle conversation.

So I took a break from the exam room to get some hot coffee and said hi to Gordon and asked him what he was up to. He said Googling. I asked if he was "finding anything ... finding everything." And he specified that he was actually blogging about Google (the whole IPO story, about which he is outblogging everyone, I think). He said he was "oogling Google," but is "oogle" a word? I said I think it's "ogle," but people mix up "ogle" with "oodles," and end up sometimes saying "oogle." "Oogle" was then Googled, it was verified that the word is not "oogle," but "ogle." But how do you pronounce "ogle," with a short "o" or a long "o"? I said I think it's the short "o," and "ogle" was Googled and it was shown that either long or short was okay. I said I liked "ogle" with a short "o," because it reminds me of Og Oggilby.

Hey, remember this?

More simulproctorblogging.

So now I'm proctoring the Federal Jurisdiction exam, and, yay!, there's WiFi. In fact there's a nice little Apple AirPort router in view. I don't know why, in a school that did all it could to freeze out Mac users, they have Apple routers. You'd think the University of Wisconsin would be a hotbed of Mac rebels, but in fact, cooler minds prevailed and long ago decided the future was non-Mac, and the chance for computer happiness was blown. I got my first computer in 1984 or 85--right at the time of the famous Mac 1984 commercial. You'd think that would have impressed people around here. Was the main concern money or was it the old buzzword "compatibility"? I've been offered various computers over the years to switch, and they managed to get everyone else to resist Mac or give it up, but they didn't get me. I am the lone Mac holdout here in the school (though a number of people here have gotten Macs at home). I had a Mac back when there was no hard drive and you had to have a big external disc drive. I used Microsoft Word (replacing MacWrite because MacWrite didn't do footnotes) back before it hit version 2.0. I think it was maybe 1.5 when I started. Of course, you could fit Word on a single-sided disc that had room left for your documents, then. And the system fit on the other disc that you put in the internal drive. I've had many Macs over the years. I've lost count. (10?) One old one I kept was the first Classic that came with a hard drive. How wonderful it seemed then to have a hard drive. Getting a hard drive and a laser printer in 1991 was a real breakthrough in convenience. The only comparable hardware experience since then: setting up the laptop in a café with WiFi, downloading digital photos into iPhoto, and importing them into the blog.

Okay, so you've established that there is WiFi in the exam room. Next topic? We've been given the nicest room in the Law School for the exam. It is the trial courtroom, a quarter of which is a gallery with three long rows of seating so it can be used as a classroom. One student has chosen to sit in the jury box. I'm sitting at one of the lawyers' tables. There is a big wall of windows looking out on Bascom Mall. I'd take a picture and post it here, but that would intrude on the students, who are hard at work. So I'll just say, it's a lovely day, the rows of trees that line the hill are in full spring green, and the banner poles have red and white banners with "W" logos on them, and the banners are flapping in the breeze. We are one hour into the three hour exam. The wall of windows behind the students makes a cheerful atmosphere, as exam atmospheres go. Good light for writing and reading. And an ideal view for the teacher, who faces the windows.

Well, what are the students consuming this time? As on the previous exam, water is by far the most popular drink. This group, which is much smaller than the Conlaw group, with only 16 students, seems to favor personal container water slightly over the bottled water that held first place on the Conlaw students sippable liquids list (scroll down). The only other drink is coffee. A surprising number of students are taking the exam in the "classic" mode: nothing to eat or drink. Personally, I've got a cup of coffee in a green cup, but by now the coffee is completely cold. I drink it anyway.

Only 16 students took Federal Jurisdiction? Yes! Shocking, isn't it? This is the only section of the course offered all year, and only 16 students, the smallest FedJur class ever for me, I think. Too bad! But it will be easier to do the grading ...

What's the difference between a "hotbed" and a "seedbed"?

Both terms come from gardening, though it's less obvious in the case of "hotbed," which allows the fertile mind to sprout more colorful thoughts. Both terms refer to a place to start plants, but "seedbed" is a more generic term for a place where seedlings are grown. A "hotbed," according to Webster's 1913 dictionary is:
1. (Gardening) A bed of earth heated by fermenting manure or
other substances, and covered with glass, intended for
raising early plants, or for nourishing exotics.

2. A place which favors rapid growth or development; as, a
hotbed of sedition.

So the metaphorical use for "hotbed" is pretty old. Why did Forbes choose "hotbed" for a place that grows radical politics and "seedbed" for a place that grows businesses? (See previous post.) Possibly, it wanted to tap into the "fermenting manure" imagery or to suggest that radical politics only grow in an artificial, glassed-in environment. A Google search for "hotbed politics" produces 37,000 returns. "Seedbed politics" only returns 5,160. "Seedbed business" produces 15,000 returns. Ah, but "hotbed business" brings in 79,700, so now I need a new theory! The new theory is, people just like the word "hotbed." It's more exciting.

So, Forbes, the hotbed didn't become a seedbed. Madison was and is a hotbed. But something different is growing in the hotbed right now. Same hotbed, different flora.

Hotbed becomes seedbed: Madison is #1.

The WSJ--Wisconsin State Journal--reports:
Madison has been ranked as the top city in the nation for business and careers by Forbes Magazine, edging out larger competitors like Austin, Texas, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Madison ranked first among the 150 largest metropolitan areas based on the education of the work force, percentage of the population with college degrees, low unemployment and crime rate, cost of housing, income and job growth.

"This hotbed of radicalism has grown into a seedbed of bio-capitalism, propelling the region to the number one slot on our list of Best Places for Business and Careers," writes Mark Tatge in a May 24 Forbes article titled "Miracle in the Midwest." ...

"Madison offers a unique combination of assets that is very difficult to replicate in other cities," said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. "It's hard to find a city with the depth of technology transfer and company formation as well as quality of life." ...

"People choose Madison for the lifestyle first and they create business opportunities that grow into major companies," said Terrence Wall of T. Wall Properties, a development company. "They turn wild and wacky ideas into new businesses." ...

Great! Biggest problem:
Lack of investment capital is a problem in the Madison area, according to Forbes. The magazine cited a recent study by the venture capital industry ranking the Madison area 35th in the nation for per capita investment funds under management.

So come to Madison ... and bring money!

May 6, 2004

Wild animals in the city: 3 things.

The Capital Times reports this discovery in Milwaukee:
More than 70 ducks in a basement pen were only part of the menagerie authorities found in [Jamie L. Verburgt's] Milwaukee area apartment after other residents complained of the stench coming from the unit.... Others among about 200 live creatures in the apartment included snakes, rats, turtles, a pair of alligators, toads and scorpions. ...

John Walters, Verburgt's boyfriend, was prosecuted in 2000 for mistreatment of exotic animals. At that time, police found a female cougar, female leopard, silver-tailed fox, monitor lizard, two caracals, a coatimundi, chinchilla and a reticulated python in Walter's apartment in Greenfield, another Milwaukee suburb. ...
(Ah, see: there's someone for everybody.) (Mmmm... "reticulated"!) That story reminded me of this passage from "The Life of Pi":
If you took the city of Tokyo and turned it upside down and shook it, you'd be amazed at all the animals that would fall out: badgers, wolves, boa constrictors, Komodo dragons, crocodiles, ostriches, baboons, capybaras, wild boars, leopards, manatees, ruminants in untold numbers. There is no doubt in my mind that feral giraffes and feral hippos have been living in Tokyo for generations without being seen by a soul.
And that reminds me of the movie "12 Monkeys," which has a great animals-in-the-city theme. (And to say that is to allow Brad Pitt to make a second appearance on my blog today. So I'll just add that I'm not really a Brad Pitt fan, but I do love a couple of his movies, "12 Monkeys" and "Fight Club.")

The TiVo dialogue. has the transcript of Colin Powell on Larry King from the other day. I just read the part about TiVo (which Throwing Things linked to). I love Larry King transcripts, because Larry has his own special way of talking that just seems so funny transcribed. And he seems like a bit of an idiot (doesn't know the word "Luddite") and a bit nutty (afraid of email). King views push-button phones as new technology: they came out in the 60s!
KING: Is it true -- I learned from sources, that you are a technocrat, that you like TiVo, that you like all of these -- you like it.

POWELL: Yes. I like TiVo, I like computers.

KING: Why?

POWELL: Because it makes work easier for me. It speeds up communicating with people. ... And I understand that you are an absolute Luddite.

KING: What's a Luddite?

POWELL: Nevermind.

KING: Sounds like some division of my faith. I'm a Luddite. No, I don't ...

POWELL: You don't do any of this stuff.

KING: I don't like computers, I don't ...

POWELL: How can you not like computers?

KING: I don't like e-mail. Because it's scary. Do you like cell phones?

POWELL: Yes. Cell phones, e-mail, TiVo ...

KING: Push-button phones.

POWELL: TiVo would change your whole way of viewing television.

KING: My wife likes it.

POWELL: Yes. We don't want to get into product endorsement here.

KING: Well, the ability to tape without tape.

POWELL: Yes, right. Right.

KING: So, you do that a lot.

POWELL: Do that a lot.


POWELL: Yes, Larry, every night.

Aw, that's sweet. I wonder what TiVo "season passes" Powell has and what "wish lists." I was asked today what I used my TiVo for if I don't care about sitcoms. Reality shows? Not really. I watched "The Apprentice," and "American Idol" is different, but I don't watch any of those dating shows (everyone's boring!) and I don't watch "Survivor" (I watched the first season until the episode where there was a long contest to see who could stand on a stump longest: how is that entertainment?). I TiVo "Meet the Press" and "The Daily Show" and Letterman (so I can watch the part between the monologue and the first guest) and Conan and some other things that I usually don't watch (news and talk and non-sitcom comedy). I TiVo "Joan of Arcadia," but I've just about had it with God telling Joan to start something new (get a job in the bookstore, join the band, join the chess club, become a babysitter, join the yearbook, learn the piano, build a boat). Is that what God wants, shallow club-joining? Anyway, lately I've enjoyed HBO-on-demand more than TiVo. It's basically TiVo but out there somewhere, with all HBO. But what does Colin Powell TiVo? Probably a lot of C-Span. Maybe the History channel. Probably sports. Maybe he watches old movies with his wife.

Law school WiFi at the faculty meeting.

Ah, what a pleasure it is to have WiFi around the Law School. I easily sat through my exam proctoring the other day with my laptop, and today, right now, I'm sitting through a faculty meeting. I'm much less antsy than usual, with my connection at hand. The faculty meetings are important and interesting enough, but there is always potential for some droning little speeches and I like having the power to opt out. And to simulblog! You can either use the laptop to escape or to more deeply engage. Gordon Smith is sitting across the room and is mouthing the words "Are you on line?" or something. I nod. He's not picking up a signal. He pantomimes to Anuj to switch seats so he can move over near where I'm getting a signal.

The meeting topic right now is a new grading system. For years, from before I arrived here in 1984, we've had a mysterious numerical system, which goes as low as 65 (no lower, even if you hand in a blank sheet of paper) and as high as 95, but usually stopping at 94, so that a 95 is a special honor. Outsiders to the Law School are duly mystified, but for years, the faculty has clung to the system for various mysterious reasons. What are they? Oh, something about how letter grades are too ... what? ... meaningful? And something about how great it is to have a lot of fine gradations, so that no grading decision is momentous enough, like the decision where to draw the line between an A and a B or a B and a C. Somehow, we've come to our senses and are going to the traditional letter approach (with pluses and minuses). Which I of course like, because I'm basically a retro lawprof.

Are you going to watch the finale episode of Friends?

No, I don't care about Friends. I watched an early episode once and wondered about how they had such a nice apartment. Then once TiVo recorded one for me and it had Brad Pitt in it, so I watched it. Other than that, I'd have to be forced to watch a show like that. Lots of canned wisecracks. Pretty people with neat little sitcom-y problems. Let's just say I watched a lifetime's worth of sitcoms by the time I was 18. I'd watch reruns of my favorite old shows if they would only run them (especially Dobie Gillis), but, though I did have a Seinfeld phase and I watch some things on HBO, I'm just not interested in any post-1970 network sitcoms.

Not verbose

Concise! But prolific. Think about that, Patrick. And don't look here.

May 5, 2004

American Idol: the last man falls.

So it's good-bye to George Huff, who I thought was safe. And bad me, for still not voting. It's now a matter of four female singers. How strange! Well, this might enhance fairness, because probably most of us tend to have a preference for male or female when it comes to singers. I'm sure my record collection reveals a strong preference for male singers. So now I can focus and be fair to the four remaining. I do have a clear favorite in the group: Fantasia!

A really lawrev-y thing to do ...

... would be to call into question my inconsistent capitalization of the term "Law Review" in the two posts below that talk about law reviews. And if you were asking that yourself or you think it's a really interesting issue, then you probably are lawrev material. It's certainly not that I don't care about about capitalization and consistency. I think I was following some damn principle about Law Review as the grand institution and law review as just some given law review. Just like I might talk about law or Law. And wouldn't you like to have a heated debate about whether that principle is right or is worth the look of inconsistency? If so, I'm telling you, you really are Law Review Material. You're LRM, man.

So I thought you were going to write something about Law Review?

Yes, well, Gordon was pushing me to respond to his lawrev post, so let me try to say a couple of things. I did law review a long time ago, back in the early 80s, and I can't say I found it a terribly rewarding experience. I'm sure I was one of those lost souls who found the process of entering into The Law so unfamiliar and overwhelming that I wanted to make sure to do all the things I heard were the things that people who become successful do. This was an impossible scheme, though, because one of the things I wanted to make sure to do was to attend every class, and I soon discovered that the ethic of Law Review was to disdain attending class and even to view attending class as defaulting on your commitment to Law Review. To be dedicated to learning from the classes (something that as a lawprof I now see as central to the law school experience), one had almost to sneak to class and not talk about it. Law Review was a strange little society, run by students. The 3Ls had power over the 2Ls, culminating in a big secret meeting at which next year's editorial board was chosen. The power to choose the next year's editors stoked an unseemly but unspoken competition among the 2Ls. Gordon reports having a rewarding friendly experience with other members of Law Review, and that could happen, but you certainly have no guarantee. It might be far more rewarding to choose your own law school pals to study with, to debate about law and politics with, and to have fun with. Then you can hang out with people you like, not the enforced companions that happen to have made Law Review. Law Review is a hothouse of work and ambition that you may not want to be trapped in.

There are other scholarly outlets, like taking seminars that require papers and then turning the paper into a publishable article that you can place in one of the many law reviews. (Prof. Volokh's book "Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, and Seminar Papers" is a great help.) Working as a professor's research assistant can be a good experience (or a bad one!). Law Review is especially good for people who like to edit other people's work, and it is also a good discipline for people who want to learn how to edit. Editing is important in law, and law review will give you some incentive to learn how to do it right, but it will by no means train you how to do it systematically. It might just as well reinforce bad editing practices or help homogenize your writing into a standardized form.

So look very carefully at what the law review is really like at your school. How good is the review? How solid is the tradition of working hard and upholding high writing and research standards? What is the social atmosphere like? Don't just take it like medicine. Do it because the experience will be worth it in your case. If you want to bolster your credentials, consider the different ways you might do that. To do law review is extremely time-consuming: you necessarily give something up if you do it. So, in your case, what sacrifice will you be making? You know, you could go through your whole life doing things because this is the next thing that you've been made to feel is the best thing to do, but if you do that you lose track of who you really are and you may even lose the ability to become the person you ought to be. Get possession of yourself and make it a practice to step back and ask is this something I want to do--not just about Law Review, but about everything--and then you won't find yourself ten years from now feeling unsatisfied and ready to chuck all the glossy rewards you achieved draining the precious passion and power of your youth.

Interesting Wisconsin poll results.

The Capital Times reports its survey of 511 Wisconsin residents taken between April 21 and 28:
Fifty percent of those polled last month said the president's overall performance was either excellent or good, compared to 46 percent in March....

[A] majority of Wisconsin residents continues to believe Bush's justification for the war in Iraq - to deprive Saddam Hussein of so-called weapons of mass destruction - and to believe that those weapons haven't been found because the Iraqis hid them.

And, despite a barrage of news coverage suggesting the president wanted to invade Iraq for reasons other than those weapons, 76 percent said they thought Bush actually believed the weapons were there.

Typical Kerry campaign explanation (from George Twigg the Wisconsin campaign manager): "This is what happens when the Bush-Cheney campaign machine throws $60 million in TV ads up against us." I guess with all the new Kerry TV ads, they will have to get a different poll result soon or abandon this excuse. No! They'll still say they've been outspent.

Love ... Disobey ... Freedom.

Ancient themes are sounded on State Street--in a window and on a sign:



Madison: studying on the Terrace, making a dollar on State Street.

There's a mellow Terrace scene this afternoon, as many people study, well positioned to gaze out on Lake Mendota.


On State Street, a child dances in front of the fortuneteller.


More State Street life and commerce, here, with the Salmon P. Chase-related commerce here. More Terrace views here, with the duck stuff over here.

You should blog about that ... and ping!

It was Nina who encouraged me to blog in the first place, but it's my across-the-hall colleague Gordon Smith, our entrepreneurship guru, who's gotten me to pick up the entrepreneurial aspects of blogging. I would have found some things eventually on my own, like Sitemeter and Technorati, but other things, like pinging and Trackback, I would probably have ignored. Today, I'm told, I've got to learn to ping! I should blog about doing law review, because JD2B is picking up on his post on law review, and then I need to ping. But I don't wanna blog about law review, and pinging is too mysterious. What is it, like linking, but backwards, parasiting off the site you're linking? Well, what did you even say about law review that was unique and not just the conventional wisdom? I ask, which leads to a conversation in which I say enough odd things about law review that I am then assured I should blog about that. And ping! But can I ping on Blogger? Well, there's Haloscan, which Gordon pronounces in the corporate style (like Halliburton, emphasis on "Hal," like the computer in "2001"). Isn' that "Halo-scan"? I say, emphasizing the "halo," dragging religion into the conversation.

Our colleague Anuj Desai walks in and joins the conversation and takes note of my Instapundit link from last night. "Oh! You're on Instapundit!" He joins the talk about law reviews and wonders how long law reviews will be around, how something new will replace them. I say, "Blogging," and Gordon and Anuj restate the theme of this conversation: you need to blog about law review. I tell Anuj he should blog, but then remember he won't blog until after he gets tenure. Anuj wonders who will be the first person to get tenure without writing for law reviews, but by publishing only on the web. "Blog your way to tenure," I say, and am once again told to blog about that. Are conversations getting like this, where you say a few good things and then you have to stop and talk about relocating, making this conversation fodder into blogfodder.

I made "blogfodder" one word in a Google-related entrepreneurial move. But why? Why do these blog-related things that aren't so much about saying something you want to say, but making a game out using various devices to propagate your message? We discuss that. Because it's fun to play a game, and there are all these services that let us keep score and try to think up new strategies and see how they play out and convince your colleagues to try them. I say in a few years will look back on this and laugh that we had to pay attention to all these different services like Haloscan and the like. It'll be like years ago when we had to figure out Gopher and Archie and (am I just remembering a weird dream?) Veronica.

UPDATE: Just to clarify, because this has been misread at least once, Anuj's reference to "publishing only on the web" was not necessarily or even much at all about blogging. He was referring to other on line alternatives to law journals, such as this, which could replace paper formats. My reference to "blogging" was essentially humor. I certainly don't think the lawprof blogs of the sort I have count for scholarship, though an occasional post has scholarly substance; it is really more like a notebook of ideas, some of which could be expanded upon and some of which is complete in itself. I'm the lawprof who went to art school: to me the blog is like a sketchbook. Some things in a sketchbook are just things you do to keep the pen moving, to see if something happens. Other things become the basis for a year's worth of paintings. Some things you rework into something else or tear out. Blogging is just a great format. If I thought this counted as scholarship, I wouldn't be publishing on Blogspot, I'd use the UW server, now wouldn't I? But since blogging is just a format, it could be adapted to any sort of use, and it isn't beyond me that someone could have a blog journal that would be a creditable piece of scholarship.

"The Holy City of" .... New York.

I asked a while back what the standard was for calling a city "the holy city of [name of city]." Najaf seems to qualify by some standard I was trying to detect. No place in the United States ever gets called "the holy city." Of course, this is testimony to the separation of church and state, a truly great idea. But if we were going to call a U.S. city holy, which one would it be? There are some interesting choices possible, but this morning the lyrics of this song were running through my head and I realized that Laura Nyro had long ago suggested the Holy City of New York:
... New York tendaberry
Blue berry
Rugs and drapes and drugs
And capes
Sweet kids in hunger slums
Firecrackers break
And they cross
And they dust
And they skate
And the night comes
I ran away in the morning
Now I'm back
Sidewalk and pigeon
You look like a city
But you feel like a religion
To me

New York tendaberry
True berry
I lost my eyes
I east wind skies
Here where I've cried
Where I've tried
Where God and the tendaberry rise
Where Quakers and revolutionaries
Join for life
For precious years
Joined for life
Through silver tears
New York tendaberry
Lawprofs will recognize that Nyro had a Seeger-type definition of religion.

Spam awards.

Best first name of the day: "Septicemia"

Best subject line of the day: "desegregate p's lactate menzies militant tailor autopsy hashish adverb colossus serf mcclellan expenditure anticipate trauma civic croydon liberia tunisia edmonton diamagnetism scowl fasten dendritic electroencephalograph lissajous article greed withdrawal doll hieratic northernmost eli artificial blame furniture furious"

Things I Can't Stand About the Presidential Campaign.

(A new regular feature here.)

1. Our wartime President, six months before the election, is riding around in a bus, going to small towns in Ohio. (Search term used to find the article I read in the paper NYT in the NYT on line: "pancake"--something I recount here because it's part of the problem. The President is flipping pancakes to justify his reelection?)

2. Senator Kerry trying to make the problem of school dropouts central to his campaign, a typical example of making issues out of things because people care about them not because they are part of the role of the President and a typical example of trying to make it seem as though you will solve a problem by making a show of caring about a problem. In fairness, Kerry has some proposals, $550 million in new spending (for smaller high schools and more tutoring) and depriving dropouts of driver's licenses. So, as usual, spend a lot more money and, for something new, go all punitive on the kids who don't make it in school. (God forbid they might need to drive to get to work or to do a job!)

3. Disney blocking the distribution of Michael Moore's new movie because it's critical of Bush. How many times does this sort of thing have to happen before people who try to suppress speech realize they only impart an aura of righteousness to their opponents--opponents who are easily attacked for what they are saying? Other recent instances of this stupidity: trying to stop Koppel's war dead-reading episode of Nightline, Al Franken sued by O'Reilly. (But free speech is politically powerful: I'm following the progress of this movie in Iran.)

UPDATE: Disney didn't "block" distribution of Moore's movie. I have more to say about it here, but I stick to my point that standing in the way of a speaker gives him a new set of powers. You may still have interests that justify doing this, as Disney does seem to.

May 4, 2004

It’s Big Band night on American Idol—just to taunt poor John Stevens.

Diana comes out in a too-tight purple nightie and pretends to be a grown woman as she sings “Someone to Watch Over Me.” She’s allowed to hold onto the mike and give a little speech about why she choose the song and she does an ultra-sly dedication to “everyone who’s in the army” because they “watch over” us. She’s too cute and cheesy doing this speech, but you can’t blame the kid. Obviously, she was put up to it. She orders the audience to stand up—oh, how I hate when performers insist that the audience entertain them! I’ve always refused to take these orders and was reinforced in this resistance at an early age, in 1969, when Frank Zappa, leading The Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore East, instructed the audience through various steps of an elaborate performance, which I didn’t do. After everyone (else) did it, he insulted them for taking orders and acting like trained seals. It’s odd that other performers don’t insult audiences for their fawning overenthusiasm. Instead, it’s all “I can’t hear you!” Now, Diana launches into a song “made famous” by “Miss Judy Garland”: “C’mon Get Happy.” It’s too easy to say but I’ll say it: I’m not happy. By the way, the reason the song gives for getting happy is that Judgment Day is coming. So apparently, it’s the mindlessly giddy who get to go to heaven. Another side track: the greatest work of art that I can’t stand is Michelangelo’s "Last Judgment". Apparently, for Judgment Day you not only have to get happy, you have to get naked. Diana gets praise, except that Simon criticizes her for singing in an "old" style, which is an idiotic criticism considering that the style was imposed on her.

Twenty minutes into the show, the second singer, George Huff, appears, and he’s singing “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”—a song I can’t help associating with the movie "Sibyl" (not "Top Hat"). George seems pretty comfortable singing like this, and his usual innate happiness goes well with the style. He takes the mike and doesn’t embarrass himself, then goes into “What a Wonderful World.” It’s nice to see this oversmiler sing a Louis Armstrong song, because the connection to Armstrong gives profundity to the habit of excessive smiling. Suddenly, I’m a Huffite! Randy says “Safe,” Paula is enchanted, and Simon agrees with Randy. Hmmm…. I may have to vote for the first time this season. The old “cruise ship” insult is wheeled out (sailed out).

Next is La Toya London. And let me just take this occasion to say that my father, who loved Big Band music, loved a singer named London and I grew up believing that the greatest musical genius in the history of the world was Julie London. And the model for all womanhood was Julie London. (My mother loved Big Band too: her favorite was Frank Sinatra, a fact that I believe I owe my existence to, because my father, as a young man, looked enough like Frank Sinatra that people used to ask him for his autograph. My parents met in the army—they were “watching over" us in WWII. So there are good things and bad that I feel I owe my existence to.) But back to La Toya! She’s got the marcelled hair that is a bit 20s for Big Band, but who’s going to notice? She sings “Too Close For Comfort”—great lyrics. She brings some good excitement to the song. In the talk segment, she loses it and garbles everything, then goes into a song from “Funny Girl.” Hmmm…. Let’s just pretend “Don’t Rain On My Parade” is a Big Band song. Let’s see if the judges call “Broadway” on her (that, along with “cruise ship” and “wedding singer,” is a favorite insult on the show). Randy is hooting, he loves it. You were meant to sing this kind of music---hmmm …. Doesn’t that mean she’s not suited to be the American Idol? Paula says this means she can put out an album of (presumably) Broadway songs and sell “millions and millions.” Well, if that’s the music business, why has “Broadway” traditionally been an insult on this show? Let’s see if Simon has the nerve to cut through this crap: “10 out of 10 for a very good Broadway performance.” But nothing more. Well, I can put 2 and 2 together. He doesn’t want to criticize her, but he just did.

Now it’s Jasmine. “The Way You Look Tonight”—a beautiful song. She has a beautiful tone sometimes, but hits a lot of wrong notes. And what’s with wearing jeans on Big Band night? Speaking of the way you look. The second song is “It’s Almost Like Being In Love,” another beautiful song. I see a vision of Jasmine being kicked off the show tomorrow night. Randy and Paula babble. Simon predicts doom. Me too.

Finally, Fantasia. Somehow she’s allowed to sing “a Queen classic,” “This Thing Called Love." Did I hear that right? I don’t get it. Then she gets to sing “a Barbra Streisand classic” “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”—how is that the Big Band era? Anyway, Fantasia is screeching and utterly lacks the elegance for this kind of singing. These are love songs, but she says she’s singing to her little brother and her daughter. Randy finds her “absolutely brilliant.” Paula’s crying—give me a break! Simon says Fantasia and La Toya are “in a different league.” Which makes me worry that Fantasia’s in trouble--it's too much like the divas comment that led to Jennifer Hudson's ouster. And La Toya was clearly the better of the two, so that comment is going to cause people to pick which of those two they prefer. I think George was the best, and since he got comments that will make his fans see him as needing help, he'll be saved. Fantasia got overlavish praise, which could lead to complacency amongst the voters, and there have been no warnings tonight about the dangers of complacency--no reminders about Jennifer Hudson to stimulate the Fantasia fans.

I’m predicting the bottom three as: Jasmine, Fantasia, and La Toya. I see Diana and George as safe. Jasmine should go, but Fantasia might go! Tomorrow should be interesting: a possible shocker.

UPDATE: Given some of those song choices, maybe the original theme was something like "classic love songs" (or "tribute to John Stevens"). That would also have explained some of the costume choices, which were anything by the 1940s. It in no way looked like the great Big Band show from the first season (when Kelly really shone). But then, I'm thinking, they just for no good reason decided to let La Toya sing "Don't Rain on My Parade," which was the only song last night that wasn't a sweet, croony love song (of the type Stevens lives to sing), so they just renamed the theme, which left Fantasia looking silly. I almost suspect the producers of having decided to force the Fantasia-La Toya showdown to happen early, not to be the finale (which people seem to be predicting). You need that drama. But why they would want La Toya to survive and Fantasia to leave early is a bit of a puzzle? Fantasia is the most entertaining character among the contestants.

More exam simulproctorblogging.

There are 45 students taking my exam. They are all in one room: I only agree to proctor if they will all be in one room. I ran into a colleague in the elevator as I was coming in this morning. He too was arriving early to proctor an exam. I mentioned that I have a principle of only proctoring if the students will all be in one room. I get a good-humored but sarcastic response: "Oh! A principle! Someone went to law school!" Yes, I don't think it's fair that some students have easy access to the lawprof to ask a question when others would have to walk to another room. His response reminds me that the notion of purporting to be operating according to a rationally derived principle is generally held in low regard around here. Of course, had the conversation gone on much longer--our elevator rides are short in our 6-story "tower"--I'm sure I would have proposed a more Madison-appropriate version of my behavior in which I admit that I came up with the principle as a way to have a lofty-sounding excuse for refusing to proctor, because in the past my rooms were split up, and how now that they are on to my little ruse, I will need to come up with a new phoney principle to avoid the chore. Just to regain the admiration of my peers.

Anyway, there are 45 students here, still intently taking the exam. Virtually no walking in and out of the room (despite all that water), which I like to think indicates that they are getting the questions and coming up with good answers. I only left an exam once when I was a law student, and it was at the point when I was genuinely stymied (in Conflict of Laws). The two-minute break I took somehow resulted in my realizing where the answer lay. Taking a break is an oddly effective way to solve a problem. I've often observed that when doing a crossword puzzle. Generally, I plow straight through the NYT puzzle (the only one I'm interested in). But sometimes, I'm stuck and I read some article on another page, then turn back to the puzzle and can immediately see answers that I couldn't think my way to when I was trying. The mind works in mysterious ways. There is potential here for some insight into how judges decide cases or some such lawproffy thing.

Number of students wearing the Bucky Badger logo: 1
Number of students wearing hats: 5
Percentage of hats that are baseball caps: 100
Number of students who brought nothing to drink: 10
Percentage of students frantically leafing through notes for answers: 0
Percentage of students who have come up to ask questions: 0
UPDATE: A UW student blogger gives me an idea for the new phoney excuse: I'm sorry, I'm afraid as a matter of principle I must decline to proctor any exams out of concern that some students perceive the professor to be proctoring for the purpose of enjoying watching the students suffer. Thanks!

Look what Nina's Nagano chef served her.

And she didn't just photoblog it, she ate it. Bravo!

Proctoring the Conlaw exam.

I'm just doing the NYT crossword puzzle and proctoring the exam right now. It's nice that this room has a good wireless signal. I wonder if all the rooms do. If so, it must make it a lot easier to sit through a boring class or perhaps--it would be nice--to research the little questions that come up in class and offer answers. There's nothing about the exam to simulblog though. Everyone is completely absolutely absorbed. Activities in order of popularity:
1. Writing
2. Reading
3. Thinking
4. Sipping a liquid

Sippable liquids, in order of popularity:
1. Bottled water
2. Refillable container water
3. Mountain Dew
4. Coffee
5. (tie) Gatorade, Coke, chocolate milk*

* Possibly Dean Milk.

The grief that last post caused me.

I originally had that counterculture girl story on my other blog--which exists to catch overflow (spittoon-like!), to be more eccentric and frivolous, to hold more photographs, and to experiment using the software iBlog. When I edited the original post to add the Freud material I found that the blogpoll I'd done did not show up on the site. Efforts to edit the post to remove the poll failed: I couldn't get the post open again. It just reacted badly all around to the blogpoll! So I decided to just delete the post altogether and move it here. Horribly, I deleted an entire folder, my "Life in Madison" folder, which was full of photographs and lord knows what. Now, I need to try to reconstruct what I can .... I'm just kicking myself. I did "experiment" with iBlog, and that went badly. I still like iBlog, and like having another blog that proceeds with a different format, with a cover page and various lures to look inside. But that was painful.

Freud and counterculture girl.

Yesterday, I was walking down State Street and there was this young woman leaning forward with her mouth open, making an odd gurgling noise, which forced me to turn and look at her just in time to see her spew a huge green globule out onto the sidewalk. Involuntarily (I think) I let out with a perfectly audible "uuuugggghhhh." The globule-source calls out, "Wouldn't it be more disgusting if I swallowed it?" Another young woman, more the student type than the street person type, yells back, "No!" She's striding along talking on a cell phone and explains what happened into the phone as she overtakes me walking down the street. Phone girl makes me laugh, and she turns to me and says, "Counterculture!"

The story of the woman on the street and her counterculture notions of propriety calls to mind this story that Freud relates in "The Interpretation of Dreams" (note that this is a true story about himself, which he views as the source material for a dream):
When I pay my morning visit at this house I am usually seized with a desire to clear my throat; the sputum falls on the stairs. There is no spittoon on either of the two floors, and I consider that the stairs should be kept clean not at my expense, but rather by the provision of a spittoon. The housekeeper, another elderly, curmudgeonly person, but, as I willingly admit, a woman of cleanly instincts, takes a different view of the matter. She lies in wait for me, to see whether I shall take the liberty referred to, and if she sees that I do I can distinctly hear her growl. For days thereafter, when we meet, she refuses to greet me with the customary signs of respect."
Imagine thinking the lack of a spittoon entitles you to spit on the stairs repeatedly and to be disdainful of the poor old woman who has had to clean it up for being insufficiently happy to see you! And I love the expression "the sputum falls"! No agency on his part there. And the housekeeper is accused of having negative character traits--she's "curmudgeonly" and has crabbed "cleanly instincts"--and this instinctive creature ridden with disgust is such an animal she "growls" and cannot muster the "customary signs of respect."

So what do you conclude is the difference between Freud and counterculture girl?

May 3, 2004

Propane tanks with flowers.

I think it's very sweet that the owner of this foodcart has made such an effort to dress up the propane tank side of the cart.


Full bloom.

It was a day of arboreal gorgeousness here in Madison.



I have more pictures of Madison, taken today, at my other website: go here for the Turkish festival, and here for more flowering trees. [Dead links revived.]

For your "Law and The Sopranos" seminar.

Great episode of The Sopranos last night. I see Television Without Pity is giving it an A+. There was some especially choice law material. Carmela says [to Meadow] ''You have options; I have a lawyer,'' and then Tony's options are shown to include interfering with Carmela's ability to have a lawyer (as she searches for a way to reach the income not reported on Tony's tax returns). And Meadow comes out with a priceless college-class justification for her father's violent ways: some ripe sociology about the need to develop a form of conflict resolution in the old country where all levels of government were corrupt. Ha, ha. I'll have to rewatch this one to see all the angles. I love Meadow, and I love all the humor that is derived from the characters' outrageous lack of self-awareness.

UPDATE on second watching: How did Tony undermine Carmela's efforts to hire a lawyer? For one thing he consulted with the best divorce lawyers to the point where they saw a conflict of interest in representing Carmela.
Carmela: "See, I don't understand this. Why is my husband so picky? He talked to seven or eight of the top divorce attorneys in New Jersey?"

Lawyer: "Well, I think you can probably figure that maneuver out for yourself."

Later, Carmela finds one lawyer, but the effort to reach the unreported assets depends on the work of an investigator who bows out when he learns who is involved. Edie Falco is a wonderful actress: the scenes as she's learning what her situation is with respect to the divorce offer her few lines, yet we can read in her face her growing understanding. I felt that I could see in her face the moral responsibility setting in. She had made a deal with evil, and the law could not extract her from it. And then I felt myself separating from her: she deserves to be destroyed for her corrupt choices. There's a scene earlier in this episode that set me up to feel this way about her. She's meeting Tony at the restaurant and officiously informs him that she's "filing for divorce." She thinks the law is on her side and she has power. But before he stalks out he tells her off: you thought you were so innocent and that you could sit back and just enjoy the rewards, but you are infected by my corruptness. The message is: You are exiled from the benefits the law provides to other people.

Here's the Meadow line referred to above: "You know you talk about these guys like it's an anthropology class. The truth is, they bring certain modes of conflict resolution from all the way back in the old country, from the poverty of the Mezzogiorno, where all higher authority was corrupt." Extra hilarity points: She accuses him of sounding like someone who came out an anthro class, but she's straight out of Law & Sociology.

Emaciated owl saved.

This happened here.

Feeling like a woman.

The AP has an interesting interview with an Iraqi, Dhia al-Shweiri, who suffered extreme physical torture under Saddam Hussein---"he was electrocuted, beaten and hung from the ceiling with his hands tied behind his back." (Link via Drudge.) Al-Shweiri now expresses a preference for that torture over the humiliation the Americans now stand accused of. I am angry with the American soldiers who used these practices (assuming they did), but I am also angry at this statement by al-Shweiri:
"They were trying to humiliate us, break our pride. We are men. It's OK if they beat me. Beatings don't hurt us, it's just a blow. But no one would want their manhood to be shattered. They wanted us to feel as though we were women, the way women feel and this is the worst insult, to feel like a woman."

Hey, I feel like a woman. Would I be better off electrocuted and hung from the ceiling? I think men should know how women feel. If you look out on your own society and conclude it's a terrible thing to feel like a woman, you ought to do something to improve the lot of women.

Exam crunch time.

How much do I think about students studying for my exams? I imagine people halfway trying to learn the material and halfway puzzling or even agonizing over what strange personal outlook on the material I might have. I even read on a student blog that they were reading my blog to see if it might tip off what will be on the exam! What can I say? I'm doing a question session for my first year Conlaw1 students today at 11, but first I need to finish up the text of the exam and hand it in for copying. That exam is tomorrow. Then, I need to concoct some questions for the Federal Jurisdiction exam later in the week. I'm not even contemplating the grading that lies so soon in the future. There will be many hours of office hours this week, along with six hours of exam proctoring. Do the lawprofs proctor their own exams at other law schools? I don't think they do. Do you really want the lawprof around while you're dealing with the exam? I remember at NYU School of Law, there was never a lawprof in sight during the actual exam, except that one time, a lawprof walked into the room in the middle of the exam and started talking--I think just saying something jovial about the fact that we were taking his exam. It was quite surreal!

UPDATE: We don't actually have to proctor our own exams. [UPDATE WITHIN AN UPDATE: This isn't something I've just learned recently, by the way--for those who misread that.] We're just invited to and used to at least be encouraged to proctor one exam. I just proctor my own exams because I don't mind it and in case anything comes up. I don't stay in the room the whole time like a regular proctor. I like to see how many leave early (and how early), and I like to ask people "How was it?" and say "Have a good summer," or some such thing.

FURTHER UPDATE: Scroll up here and here for actual simulproctorblogging.

"Some weird visual thing."

Our own WSJ--the Wisconsin State Journal--reports on yesterday's freak snowstorm:
"From what I'm hearing, a lot of people just thought it was some weird visual thing, like white rain."

(Scroll down for pictures of the storm.)

May 2, 2004

Chan Lowe's caricature of Kerry.

Wow! Great caricature of Kerry by Chan Lowe of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (reprinted in today's paper NYT). (The drawing and humor style reminds me of Dan Piraro.)

UPDATE: I took down the cartoon "per se," though I love it, so you can go to Lowe's gallery to view it, along with lots of his cartoons. FURTHER UPDATE: To find the Kerry cartoon referred to here, go to the May 26 cartoon.

We have the biggest organ.

Just thought I'd brag about Madison, on our freak snow day:
[T]he 2,000-plus seat Overture Hall ... [will house] the Madison Symphony Orchestra's custom-made pipe organ. ... [I]t is the heaviest moveable object in any theater in the world. The Pleasant Rowland Concert Organ ... fits within a steel-wheeled chamber that, together with the instrument, weighs in at about 150 tons. It moves forward and backward on railroad-like tracks at a rate of one foot per minute, allowing it to be hidden away during non-symphonic events. ... The presence of a massive concert organ will swell the symphony's repertoire by more than 300 works. It will also lend a living, breathing presence to Overture Hall. Get ready, audiences: With more than 4,000 wood and steel pipes vibrating that rarefied air, these classical concerts will blow your hair back.

So get your massive, swelling organ jokes ready and prepare to experience heavy metal classical music.

Polling Iraqis.

USA Today has a fascinating poll of 3,444 Iraqis. It surprised me that only 21% of Iraqis have a telephone (though 95% have TV and 72% have a radio). How can decent polls be done? In fact, the polling was all done in person, with the average interview lasting 70 minutes. 98% of those asked to participate agreed.

Reading over the poll questions, I try to think what impression is made on those being interviewed. This isn't a propangandizing push poll, but a professional, neutral poll that invites the interviewee to think rationally and fairly with questions like:
To what extent can you personally justify the following actions morally: can be completely justified; can be somewhat justified, can be justified sometimes, sometimes cannot; somewhat cannot be justified; cannot be justified at all:

A. U.S.-British military action in Iraq

B. Current attacks against US forces in Iraq

C. Attacks and bombings targeting Iraqi police

I'm struck by how many Iraqis, answering questions put in this form, give the moderate "somewhat" and "sometimes" answers, and it makes me think the poll itself has the effect--perhaps especially in a face-to-face interview--of making people want to think about all the angles and take a sophisticated view of the complexities. Perhaps being polled so intelligently inherently draws the interviewee into the pleasures and responsibilities of a free political society.

Of all the questions on the poll, the most decisively clear answer, given by all the groups surveyed, is to this question:
After the invasion of Iraq by US and British forces, which of the following, if any, happened to you personally or to members of your household ... Afraid to worship?

All of the groups reported that they had this fear before the war: Total 54%, Bagdad 67%, Shi'ite areas 82%, Sunni areas 28%. The numbers today are dramatically lower: 5%, 8%, 4%, 5%. Even when asked about whether they had had this fear "at some point since invasion," the numbers were about as low: 5%, 10%, 5%, 5%.

On the other hand, the information about how well we are doing rebuilding Iraq is disheartening. On these questions the Kurds are also critical of our efforts, and they are wildly supportive of us elsewhere in the poll. This is very troubling. There may be a lot to do, but when even most Kurds don't think we are seriously trying to improve matters, how can we think we are doing well enough?

The snow in May quiz.


UPDATE: The quiz isn't working anymore, but the winner was that the snow is beautiful and much better than rain. Coming in second was that the snow presented a good opportunity to make a wisecrack about global warming.

Freak snowstorm!

Nooooooo! Here it is ... happening now:



Mmmm.... it's hard to photograph snow. The circular shapes that the eye knows to see are streaks. Take my word for it then, these are big round dots of snow. I'm a longtime fan of extra-large snowflakes.

"I was planning to go outside, but now I'm not so sure."

"It's nice. It's better than rain."


PS. For more photographs of the snow, in higher resolution, enter the House of Althouse: having accidentally destroyed a file over there, I've redone the snow photograph posts, which can now be found here and here.

"I am a textualist. I am an originalist. I am not a nut."

So says Scalia. And here's an interesting statement from Georgetown lawprof Mark Tushnet, which appears in the big frontpage NYT article about Justice Scalia:
"His writing style is entertaining in the way that shouting matches on `Hardball' are entertaining .... "Nobody persuades anyone by shouting on `Hardball.'"

Hmm... so if no one is persuaded by the shouting overtalking on Hardball, and Hardball and Scalia's writing are both entertaining in the same way, then Scalia's opinions are not persuasive? But Scalia's writing style isn't just "entertaining." The entertaining statements are more likely to be epigrams than epithets. And of course, there's no overtalking.

Slogging through Supreme Court opinions and imposing them on my students, I constantly dearly wish all the Justices would write like Scalia (or Jackson or Holmes, to whom Scalia is compared elsewhere in the article). Like most law review articles, the Justices' opinions are usually written in a characterless, "learned" tone. Does persuasion consist of boring your opponent into submission? If you were going to write ten (or twenty or forty) pages that thousands of students were going to meticuously study, shouldn't you take the trouble--the opportunity!--to write something engaging? Reading the opinions of the other Justices, I often suspect the point is to give everything a look of tedious, unexceptionable regularity to disguise all the seams and shortcomings.

There's much more in the Times article, but funniest sentence is: "Some scholars detect a rightward drift in Justice Scalia's recent decisions." And the nominees for funniest word in that sentence are:

Best summing up of the Presidential campaign.

From Donny Deutsch (of the Deutsch Inc. advertising agency):
"What Bush is trying to do in every way is to say, `You should be afraid of change right now. ... And the game for Kerry is, 'As scary as change is, it's even scarier to stay the course.' And there's the game."

That's about exactly how I feel about it. My reason for adding "about" to that sentence: I hate to think the fear factor is central in picking a President. But Deutsch is an advertising guy and he's talking about how advertising plays us.