April 2, 2005

Democracy that swept across a continent.

The Washington Post reports President Bush's statement about the death of Pope John Paul II:
President Bush today hailed Pope John Paul II as "a hero for the ages" and said ... "[T]he world has lost a champion of human freedom ... [who] launched a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe and changed the course of history."

Is it too obvious that Bush must hope that he will be remembered in similar terms?

"Is the Pope Polish?"

That's the title of Nina's post, a nice twist on the question "Is the Pope Catholic?," suitable to Nina, who is Polish, but not Catholic. Hearing the current media filling the airtime with stories of Karol Wojtyla's early life in Poland, she writes:
I am reminded again and again of why Poles, for a few decades, felt that their tiny complexed voice could be heard through this man and why they suffer the loss of their spokesperson, because really, in their eyes, this leaves them alone and vulnerable on the map all over again. And if you think I am exaggerating, listen to the spot TV interviews with Poles and the recurring themes: “other countries noticed us” “we felt protected” “he gave us courage” etc.

Yes, of course, the religiousness of the nation comes through. But it would be wrong to view this particular transition as important to only the devout Poles. History has created a pained nation. Not many world leaders pay much attention to this anymore. The Pope, of course, did, during all his years at the Vatican.

UPDATE: And now, at 2:23 CT, comes the announcement that the Pope has died. Such a well-lived life! Like Nina, I'm not Catholic. Still, I greatly admire the man. Hearing the news stories about him today and yesterday, I wondered if it was not the case that he was the greatest human being to have lived during my own lifetime. The world is a poorer place.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Nina has more from the Polish perspective here. (Excerpt: "Brzezinski was right in saying that of the 35 million Poles, 30 million realized, with that first Papal visit, that they shared a voice. But I don’t think it was a voice of utter hatred toward communism.")

What kind of man drives a Prius?

I don't really know, but let me just add a data point, in case you're working on the concept. I just saw a man driving a Prius and shaving at the same time. I'm disturbed to see people driving and talking on a cell phone -- I saw a man driving a full size bus while talking on a cell phone last week -- but driving and shaving is not just dangerous, it's disgusting. Depilate in private, people! And, yes, yes, it was an electric shaver. An electric car and an electric shaver. When I see a guy driving a nonelectric car and razoring off a faceful of shaving cream, I'll let you know.

Our "Tung's Minutes" of fame are so over.

Nice sign-off by Adam of the "Tung's Minutes" group. Well, we fooled Conglomerate and a few others.

UPDATE: Be was not tricked, as attested to by les poissons.

"It helped that he looked like a chicken."

Frank Perdue died:
In the 1970's, Mr. Perdue started the ad campaigns that would make him famous. He appeared in 200 different ads from 1971 to 1994.

It helped that he looked like a chicken. And Ross Perot. And Edward I. Koch, the mayor of New York. His bald head, droopy-eyed expression and prominent nose made people smile and feel comfortable with him. They tended to trust him more than they did slick-looking announcers.

Did "South Park" mock the Schiavo case?

The other day, I recommended the new episode of "South Park" ("Best Friends Forever"), which deals with the Schiavo case. I was surprised, reading the paper Times on Saturday morning, to see a teaser at the bottom of page A15 that read: "'South Park' Mocks Schiavo Case." I got ready to write a blog post about how the NYT misinterpreted the ideas expressed in that episode. But the actual piece, in the "Arts, Briefly" section, is headed "'South Park' Echoes Schiavo Case" and it doesn't disparage the show. It mostly admires it for covering the issue so expeditiously:
According to Matt Stone, who created the series with Trey Parker, "South Park" was able to parody the politics of the Terri Schiavo legal battle so quickly because they began the episode from scratch the Thursday before it was telecast. "There's kind of nothing funny about the Terri Schiavo thing," Mr. Stone said on the telephone from Los Angeles, "so that's why we did it." He added: "We, like everyone else, found that whole thing fascinating. That show, and humor in general, is how we work it out."

The Times does have a quote that might offend people who don't get the show -- "Kenny is the same he ever was ... It's just that now he's more like a tomato" -- but the piece is quite positive about the show.

By the way, though I don't want a living will, I certainly agree with the wish expressed by Kenny in his living will:
"If I should ever be in a vegetative state and kept alive on life support, please, for the love of God, don't ever show me in that condition on national television."

"They encircled me in a very menacing and hostile stance."

That's Pauline Park's description of the security guards who blocked the entry to the women's room at the Manhattan Mall and demanded to know "Are you a man or a woman?" Park, who was born male, answered "I identify as a woman." Park sued under an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law, which, the NYT reports, "forbids discrimination based on sexual identity whether or not it differs from a person's biological sex." Park won a settlement against the security company requiring it to "adopt and enforce a policy allowing people to use bathrooms 'consistent with their gender identity.'"

If you think only those born female (or only those who currently lack male genitalia) should be in the women's room, have you already lost in New York City? Is bathroom selection now a matter of individual self-perception? The NYT has been quite sympathetic to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and to persons like Park who have had unpleasant experiences, but I am concerned about the progress of a movement, already well under way, that is making it unacceptable for women to object to men in women's room. I note that Park and the security company reached a settlement, so there was no judicial decision interpreting the New York City law to apply to bathrooms. Were the interests of the women, who can no longer rely on one mall's security guards to exclude men from the women's rooms, represented in this settlement? When the NYC law was amended, did the general public realize that it would be applied to bathrooms?

UPDATE: An emailer with a law enforcement background notes that posing as a woman can be a rapist's strategy. The security guards are being portrayed in the press as bigoted and cruel, but weren't they concerned about the safety of the women and girls in the restroom? How would you feel, if you were a father and had to send your young daughter into a women's room alone and saw what you thought was a man going in? I remember when the politically correct crowd was fired up about violence against women. Now, it seems that we are supposed to keep silent about that or else we'll look like bigots.

The same emailer connects this controversy to the Ward Churchill matter: do we accept the individual's self-identification with a racial or ethnic group or an Indian tribe? A person may have a motivation to identify with a group in order to obtain a particular job or status within a field, and we could be pressured to accept what people feel they really are. Prying into such matters seems offensive and intrusive, just like encircling a decent person who is only trying to go to the bathroom, but there are really problems of fraud and deceit, and there are people who are hurt.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Another emailer writes:
I remember back in the 70s when the NRA was going to be passed. Opponents were saying it meant no more gender-segregated public toilets. The proponents responded with the usual three things: vilification of their opponents as bigots, saying it was an illusory fear and of course it didn't mean that, and that if that happened it would be OK. I recall David Brudnoy, RIP, having cops on his radio show who were seriously alarmed by this. Women get attacked in public bathrooms all the time, and if the cops could not remove men who were in there they were stumped about what they were going to do. I remember one cop with a thick Boston accent saying "the whole thing is ludicrist." He was right. This would be a serious problem of safety for women. Another consideration. Every time the Left puts some abstract ideal of equality ahead of public safety, they suffer in the democratic process. As a Republican I welcome that, but not at the cost of women -- like my mother, my sister, my wife or my daughters -- being hurt, or even made to feel unsafe. If someone looks like a man and has a man's build, that person may just have to evacuate his/her bladder and bowels in the men's room. We all suffer some impositions for the sake of public safety.
Women get attacked in public bathrooms all the time. I know if I went into a women's room and thought someone in there was a man, I would leave. If I had a daughter, I would teach her to do the same thing. Before we change the law to accommodate the tiny number of people who have made personal choices about how they want to live and who feel uncomfortable or threatened going into a men's room, consider the huge number of women who are going to be disaccommodated and threatened and the significant number who will actually be attacked.

STILL MORE: A reader sends this link to an article sympathetic to the needs of transgender persons and asks:
Who has a greater chance of being beat up or raped in a public bathroom; Transsexuals or "normal" women? I dare you to statistically prove that "normal" women are at greater danger and that therefore we should be protected at the cost of our transsexual sisters' freedom and rights.
I sent the emailer a personal reply, but the email address was rejected. Apparently, it's not a real email address. And here I was dared. Actually, I readily concede that a transsexual who looks like a man and uses a women's bathroom is in the greatest danger of getting beaten up, precisely because women feel extremely threatened by a man in the women's bathroom. Any person who looks like a man who goes in the women's bathroom has to know, unless he or she is in deep denial, that it is going to cause anxiety and fear. I cannot imagine wanting to disturb other people that way.

I understand that transgender persons would like to educate people about their needs and think somehow this will cause women to settle down and accept male-looking persons in their bathrooms, but it won't, because the fear of actual male attackers will remain. It's not bigotry to retain this fear. It's basic self-defense.

No matter how sympathetic I might feel to transgender persons, I would not be able to use a bathroom with a man in it. If I were driving on the interstate and stopped at a rest area and saw what looked like a man in the women's room, I'd rush back to my car, feeling quite upset, and drive to the next rest area, no matter how severe my physical needs were. I would seriously reassess my options: not traveling, restricting fluids, wearing an adult diaper, or carrying a weapon. I'll leave it to you to guess which one I'd pick.

So, let's see... you were talking about freedom.

The Platonic ideal of the celebrity trial reporter.

It's hard being a well-educated person, interested in the life of the mind, blessed with the job of writing for the New York Times, covering the Michael Jackson trial. You need to find ways to distinguish yourself, to preserve your dignity. Here's John M. Broder:
Drawn by the flame of the klieg lights and the television money that powers them, lawyer-commentators have been a fixture at widely publicized trials at least since William Kennedy Smith was tried and acquitted of rape in Palm Beach, Fla., in 1991. The tribulations of O. J. Simpson, Kobe Bryant, Scott Peterson and now Michael Jackson have brought this traveling band of analysts to the media bivouacs that spring up around America's celebrity show trials.

Greta Van Susteren, who cut her television teeth on Mr. Smith's trial and then gained nationwide fame covering Mr. Simpson's trial, was one of the trailblazers and remains the Platonic ideal of the talking head, with a law degree and her own television show. (Plato himself, who offered expert commentary on Socrates' bombshell trial in 399 B.C., would have been the first, except there was no cable back then.)
Nicely played. I particularly like the phrase "television teeth."

"This evening or this night, Christ opens the door."

I'm touched by the beautiful photographs of throngs of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square, praying for the dying Pope, the great man, Karol Wojtyla. But when a very old, very sick man dies, though we are sad to lose him, there is no need to pray that he stays alive longer. Do we pray for his eternal soul? "This evening or this night, Christ opens the door to the pope," Bishop Angelo Comastri, the vicar of the Vatican, said yesterday. Not to say anything against all the reverent people gathered in the square and praying all over the world for the Pope, but wouldn't it make more sense to pray for all the obscure people who are dying all the time and whose eternal souls are in far greater danger than the Pope's?

UPDATE: A reader writes:
We’re not praying for him, really.  We’re praying for ourselves and for our Church. At a time when the Catholic Church desperately needs principled leadership, we’re losing one of our greatest leaders. So, although we do pray for his peaceful death and in gratitude for his life of service, we pray mostly for guidance and grace in a time of great uncertainty.

I appreciate that. I just can't help but think, in a week where I've seen big crowds of people praying for Terri Schiavo and the Pope, that there are so many people who are dying alone right now. I imagine them watching the TV reports, seeing all the people lavishing care on these two souls, and feeling terribly sad and lonely. These throngs of people standing in high-profile vigils could disperse and go individually to thousands of bedsides and visit those who suffer in isolation.

April 1, 2005

Things that remind me of Pop.

Originally uploaded by anna banana.
My grandfather -- Pop -- used to call me Anna Banana. I was struck by this photograph I found on Flickr -- just following some links.

Family nicknames are nice. Did I ever tell you that my mother, for many years, called me Susie (not all of the time, but a lot of the time). She called my sister Pat (and her name wasn't Pat). And she called my brother Sam (and his name wasn't Sam). Strangely, she often called him Sam the Cake Man.

This calls to mind a very old TV commercial that had the sweet tag line "Mothers are strange... yeah, they are."

UPDATE: The ad copy should read "Mothers are like that ... yeah, they are." Don't know why I dredged that up from the past.

ANOTHER UPDATE: An emailer writes:
[My family nickname] was Suze (Sooze). For some reason I rebelled against it in about 4th grade. In junior high I began to hate (still do at age 58) my name, Myrna, and wanted Suze back -- but it was too late -- they couldn't get back into the swing of it.

I've always liked this old proverb: "A child that is loved has many names."
I love the name Myrna! If the vowels switched places, it would be Marny, which would be quite dull. Putting a "y" in the first syllable of a name is distinctive, because there are so many names with a "y" on the end, and "y" is so often excluded from the early part of words and relegated to the tail end. This is why "Cynthia" is such a great name, and if you're lucky enough to have it, you shouldn't use the nickname "Cindy." And don't think you can fix the nickname by writing in "Cyndi," because that just looks wrong -- it makes me feel cynical ... cyndical ... cylindrical. It makes me think of cyanide. But "Myrna," I like.

Let me add that my mother not only called my sister Pat, but frequently Princess Pat. My "Susie" did not have an extra part, like Princess Pat and Sam the Cake Man. Somehow, my siblings were named as if they were characters that had wandered out of a storybook I didn't know. Just now, I Googled "Sam the Cake Man" to see if maybe there was a fictional character of some kind, but the search came up empty. How about "Princess Pat"? Hmmm... there's this campfire song, which introduces new mysteries: "The Rickabamboo/Now what is that?"


I drove home at 5:50 today, along the road called the Speedway that runs between the two graveyards. A white pebble-like thing, coming nearly straight down from the sky, suddenly struck my car hard. No one could have thrown a stone that hard or that straight down. Was it a single, entirely isolated hailstone? Does that ever happen?

Home, I saw the sky shift through some strange colors. I kept expecting a dramatic storm. Then, sitting in the dark with my computer in the dining room, I realized that night had fallen, and no excitement at all was in the offing.


Here's a bullentin board at the law school with lots of signs:

signs in the law school

I know which one you're looking at. But look at this one:

signs in the law school

Personally, I have no interest in filling out one of these forms. But if you want to, come by the law school atrium all next week and the Elder Law clinic people will help you free of charge. It's open to anyone who wants to come by -- not just university folks.

If you are a UW student, you might be interested in this protest:

signs in the law school

Or perhaps you find this more appealing:

signs in the law school

Maybe just some comfy seating would be enough:

leather couches sign

UPDATE: An emailer aptly suggests that those tuition protesters who are calling for a "mass demostation" ought to ask for their money back.

Can the independence of the individual, autonomous blogger continue?

The new blog Tung's Minutes of Five Things More Libinal really demonstrates how terrible this trend of combining perfectly good blogs has gotten! And to threaten a hostile takeover of my blog, by name? That's just scary.

UPDATE: HA! Hostile takeover accomplished. Ha ha ha!!!!!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Help! I've been invaded!

MORE: I've fought them off!

"I didn't feel guilty because I didn't do anything wrong."

Fred Korematsu died this week, but his name is permanently enshrined in constitutional law. He was one of the hardy souls who resist government action and produce the cases that test the limits of government power. He resisted the order to remove persons of Japanese ancestry from the west coast during WWII. He wanted to be left alone, to continue living and working where he was, and to marry the woman he loved, an Italian-American.
"I didn't feel guilty because I didn't do anything wrong," he told The New York Times four decades later. "Every day in school, we said the pledge to the flag, 'with liberty and justice for all,' and I believed all that. I was an American citizen, and I had as many rights as anyone else."

How the Schiavo case will change the law.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, in the NYT, analyzes how the Schiavo case may affect American law:
Nearly 30 years after the parents of another brain-damaged woman, Karen Ann Quinlan, injected the phrase "right to die" into the lexicon as they fought to unplug her respirator, Ms. Schiavo's case swung the pendulum in the other direction, pushing the debate toward what Wesley J. Smith, an author of books on bioethics, calls " the right to live."

"This is the counterrevolution," said Mr. Smith, who has been challenging what he calls the liberal assumptions of most bioethicists. "I have been frustrated at how difficult it is to bring the starkness of these issues into a bright public discussion. Schiavo did it."

Experts say that unlike the Quinlan case, which established the concept that families can prevail over the state in end-of-life decisions, the Schiavo case created no major legal precedents. But it could well lead to new laws. Already, some states are considering more restrictive end-of-life measures like preventing the withdrawal of a feeding tube without explicit written directions.
It will be hard to craft legislation that satisfies everyone, since the interests are so profoundly and fundamentally opposed.
Around the country, state lawmakers are contemplating changes, as well. The Alabama Starvation and Dehydration Prevention Act would bar the withdrawal of a feeding tube without explicit written instructions. A lawmaker in Michigan is proposing a measure that would prevent an adulterer from making medical decisions for an incapacitated spouse.

Some medical ethicists say they are horrified. R. Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, foresees a chilling effect on hospitals and doctors, who may become uncomfortable carrying out a patient's wishes against the backdrop of a family feud. Professor Charo said there was no way for lawmakers to predict all the permutations that play into decisions on death and dying.

"If you go back to Cruzan, the presumption was in favor of extending biological life," she said. "Over the last 30 years, the presumption has slowly shifted toward allowing people to die. What we are seeing is the counterinsurgency."
Just as the fight over abortion must go on forever, this controversy will never be resolved, and it will never be disentangled from the political struggles that exploit the deep beliefs and genuine emotions people feel about life, death, killing, autonomy, and the terrible disputes that take place within families.

(Note: Alta Charo, quoted above, is my colleague here at the law school.)

Dandruff is everywhere!

"A researcher has discovered unexpectedly large amounts of dandruff and other flaking skin, fur, pollen and similar materials in air pollutants known as aerosols," reports the AP. Is this suprising? I read a long time ago that the dust in your house is mostly flaked off skin cells. What would you prefer it to be?

In a similar vein, have you ever thought about how many dead skin cells are on your sheets when you haven't put on newly washed sheets? My grandmother used to vacuum the sheets to get the skin cells out.

UPDATE: Here's an example of one of the many things I love about blogging. First, some stray newspaper article gets my attention and stirs up an old memory of mine, about my grandmother, which I can share with the world, all in the space of five minutes' time. Then, within fifteen minutes, someone has read my post, had his own memory stirred, and emailed me:
This brought back memories I haven't thought about in years. I spent a day, 30 some years ago, in a Kirby vacuum cleaner sales training session. That was one of the recommended demonstrations. Take the vac head with the special demo filter attachment and vacuum a bed. Then show the potential customer what you pulled out of the sheets/pillow/mattress etc. Suposed to be a real deal closer for a certain kind of housewife. Did your grandmother have a Kirby, by any chance?
I can't remember the brand name Kirby, but I would be willing to bet that a vacuum cleaner salesman taught her to concern herself with the skin cells in her bed.

Back to how blogging is so cool: five minutes after I got the reader's email, I've added it to my post. It's all just about dandruff .... but still....

ANOTHER UPDATE: So my grandmother fell into the category that salesmen would consider a "certain kind of housewife"? Actually, Mom had many fussy extra things she did around the house involving extra wrapping and so on, and we used to joke about some of the things she did. But I can't really remember many of the things. She used to punch several holes in the front of her canvas shoes, so her feet could "breathe." She used to put the bananas inside the cellar door. (They needed to be kept in the dark.) She would add feather stitch embroidery to the neckline of the plain housedresses she bought. But what else? I've forgotten!

YET MORE: Another emailer writes:
Just one of my mother's oddities -- she'd always cut about an inch off the top of one end of a cucumber, then rub it around the cut end "to get the poison out" before she sliced it up to serve her family.

Hey, that made me remember something else about Mom! It's vegetable-related: she would try to cure warts by cutting a potato in half, rubbing it on the wart, then burying the potato in the yard. If it weren't for the burying it in the yard part, you might be willing to believe there was some useful substance in the potato, but burying it in the yard is just admitting that you're being strange. She also thought you could get rid of pimples by dotting some Lestoil on them. (Does Lestoil still exist? It was like Fantastik -- a general-purpose cleaning liquid.)

What I noticed about daylight savings time through Site Meter.

I've been getting up too early all week, and I suspect it's because daylight saving time is needed to get the daylight out of the early morning and put it in the evening where we can use it instead of having it interfere with our sleep. Checking my Site Meter hour-by-hour graph this week, I'm thinking this sleep disturbance is quite common. Until this week, it was clear that the lowest traffic hour of the day was the four o'clock hour. Now the distinctive dip in the graph keeps hitting the three o'clock hour.

Here's a relevant piece, an op-ed in yesterday's NYT by David Prerau, who wrote a book about daylight saving time:
Under the present law we have daylight time in October but not in March, even though the sun rises at similar times in both months. The European Union starts daylight time on the last Sunday in March, with few complaints. Adding one spring week of daylight time would synchronize us with Europe. Adding two weeks in the spring would double the benefit while not making a single sunrise later than those we already experience in October, thus reducing concerns about dark mornings for farmers and children heading for school.

March 31, 2005

"Right for the wrong reasons ... wrong for the right reasons."

The new "South Park" had an excellent presentation of [SPOILER ALERT!] issues from the Terri Schiavo case. The episode, "Best Friends Forever," is playing again tonight (at 9 and 11 Central Time). Highly recommended! You can see a preview of the episode here.

Doughnuts and movies.

Why are we all gathered here this morning -- in the lovely Lubar Faculty Library at the University of Wisconsin Law School?

Coffee & Doughnuts

Well, for one thing, there are doughnuts.

Coffee & Doughnuts

Lots and lots of doughnuts. (I'm only photographing the leftovers!)

Coffee & Doughnuts

And Ralph Cagle is showing us clips from movies about law and lawyers.

Coffee & Doughnuts

See? It's Joe Pesci in "My Cousin Vinnie":

Coffee & Doughnuts

We do a "Coffee & Doughnuts" session on one subject or another most Thursdays during the semester. The idea is to show we're capable of thinking and talking about something other than law. Back at the beginning of the semester, I took part in one about blogging. So, at least for those students who are able to make it in early enough in the morning, we try to amuse you and ply you with sugar-glazed goodness.

God is up to His "mysterious ways" again.

In Austin, Texas, a vanity license plate reading "PS 105" makes RLC think he's found someone who went to his old school -- PS 105 (Public School 105) in the Bronx. He follows the car and finds an opportunity to ask about the plate, and it turns out to be a reference to Psalm 105. Does that mean anything? I mean, anything profound? Is reaching out to people via ambiguous vanity plates one of "His deeds among the peoples" that we are called upon to "make known"? Well, I'm doing my part making it known. How about you?

Difficult childbirth story of the day.


"When was the last time some Democrat from another part of the country went into Greenville, Alabama, and just said, 'What's the deal here?'"

Russ Feingold goes to Alabama, as reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Is he running for President? A more interesting question, perhaps, is how he would run for President?
[O]ver the course of his visit, he laid out what sounded like the elements of an embryonic Feingold strategy - for himself or his party - for how to win back lapsed and teetering Democrats.

Put another way, he provided some clues about how a "Russ Feingold for President" campaign, were it ever to happen, might look.

If the theme of the trip was making inroads in red states dominated by culturally conservative voters, Feingold's prescriptions involved both style and substance.

Along with jobs and health care, he repeatedly brought up the deficit and trade, suggesting both issues could be used to win back conservative and blue collar voters upset by the nation's growing debt or the loss of jobs overseas. He argued that the environment could be a winning issue in red states, especially if Democrats linked it to hunting and fishing and conservation, something John Kerry sought with mixed success to do in 2004.

"John Kerry was a laughingstock in his hunting attire," complained one Democratic activist at a meeting with Feingold in Birmingham.

"I don't think the answer was having hunting attire," said Feingold, who doesn't hunt.

Feingold, unlike some other Democrats, is not writing off the South, and he's done some serious thinking about how Democratic candidates need to change to reach Southern voters:
Feingold, a hunting-state senator who voted against renewal of the assault weapons ban, singled out guns as a hot-button cultural issue that Democrats could neutralize by convincing pro-gun voters that Democrats respect their right to bear arms.

"If we can change the perception about guns, I believe that would be the most useful thing we can do, not only in the state of Alabama, but also in Wisconsin," he said in an interview Tuesday.

Feingold suggested that abortion and gay rights represented more fundamental differences, less easily bridged. But he argued that some voters can live with such differences "if we present ourselves as pragmatic, honest and willing to listen."

In fact, much of what Feingold had to say in Alabama about expanding the party's appeal was stylistic, about speaking "straight" and "connecting" with ordinary people, the sort of things Kerry was criticized for failing to do.

"Maybe it's more about character and about how we present ourselves as people," Feingold said at the listening session he held for some 20 Alabamians in a heavily Republican suburban county south of Birmingham.

Throughout the trip, he criticized the tone of Bush's harshest critics, saying that "some of the language I heard Democrats use was very bad. . . . Don't say, 'I hate the president.' Don't say things like, 'We need regime change in the United States.'"

Well put! I don't know how this plays in the South, but, according to the article, wherever he went, Feingold handed out cheese, bratwurst and kringle. Don't know what kringle is? Won't you be excited when Russ comes to your town and you can find out?

UPDATE: Gordon is kringle-blogging, and he's kringle-blogged before! Can't wait for Russ to come to your town and bring you kringle? Go here!

March 30, 2005

Is this sex discrimination?

A NY appellate court rejected a claim of sex discrimination against a landlord who refused to renew the lease of an AIDS education group because the group's transgender clients, born male, were using the women's room in the common areas of the building.
The panel ... said bathroom exclusion based on biological "gender" rather than "self-image" is not discrimination...

Emanuel Gold, lawyer for the landlord, the estate of Joseph Bruno, said he argued before the Appellate Division in May 2004 that, "If you're biologically a man, if you're born a man, then you use the men's room. There's no bias against anyone."

Gold said women and girls who worked in or visited other offices in the building were startled and frightened when they found men in the women's rest rooms.

"I don't think there's anybody in America who doesn't understand this," he said.

But [the plaintiff's lawyer Edward] Hernstadt said, "This is not a bathroom case."

"This is a case about whether transgendered people are covered under New York state and New York City civil rights laws," he said. "This decision does a disservice to the transgendered community."
I've seen arguments demanding that special bathrooms be set up to accommodate transgender persons, but this is different. This is denying people the right to chose which sex to identify with when they choose whether to use the men's or the women's room. The issue of frightening women and girls is interesting. Frightening only occurs if the person is perceived as a man. Should it matter how masculine or feminine the transgender person in question actually looks?

UPDATE: I’ve read the case, Hispanic Aids Forum v. Estate of Joseph Bruno. At the time the landlord refused to renew the lease, the New York State Human Rights Law mades it unlawful “to refuse to sell, rent, lease or otherwise deny to or withhold from any person . . . land or commercial space because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, or familial status of such person or persons …” And the New York City Human Rights Law mades it unlawful ”to refuse to sell, rent, lease . . . or otherwise deny or to withhold from any person or group of persons land or commercial space . . . because of the actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status or alienage or citizenship status …” Later, in 2002, that City law was amended to specify that "gender" includes "a person's gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned to that person at birth.” The State Legislature rejected a similar amendment for the state statute. There was some question whether the law in force at the time protected transgender persons, but the court said it didn’t matter here, because even assuming it did, the plaintiff failed to state a claim:
[T]he complaint, as it stands, alleges not that the transgender individuals were selectively excluded from the bathrooms, which might trigger one or both of the Human Rights Laws, but that they were excluded on the same basis as all biological males and/or females are excluded from certain bathrooms -- their biological sexual assignment.”

Strange weather, Part 2.

Strange weather.
Originally uploaded by Ann Althouse.
Look at the photograph in the previous post, and look at this. Both pictures were taken from the same spot in my front yard at the same time of day -- 4:45 p.m. The greenly sunny photograph in the previous post is the view looking east. This photograph looks west. Is it not bizarre that the dark photograph is the one that looks straight into the sun?

UPDATE: An emailer suggests that the difference between the two pictures is a fluke of backlighting and the camera's automatic light meter. I assure you that these photos represent how it looked to the naked eye. There was bright blue sky in the east, with brilliant light making the mossy trees glow green. A terrible storm was coming in from the west, blocking that sun. The sun looked pale and moonlike, behind clouds, as in the picture. And the sky was worrisomely dark.

Strange weather.

Strange weather.
Originally uploaded by Ann Althouse.
This afternoon the tornado sirens went off, and I sat in my big room next to the basement door, ready to dart below ground level if the branches outside started to shake. Nothing happened but a big crack of lightning. I went out to an appointment, through splatting rain and clumps of fog, and when I drove onto my home street, the sky was bright blue and the trees were all glowing green. Like this one.

Student protest, circa 2005.

Student protest, circa 2005
Originally uploaded by Ann Althouse.
Here's another chalk-on-the-sidewalk student protest that asks students to do something they are inclined to do anyway: walk out of class. Is it somehow less lame because you walk out of class to get the U.S. out of Iraq?

By the way, blogging from Blogger has been really pesky lately, but you can bypass all the problems by working through Flickr, which is what I'm doing now. Click "blog this" above a photo and you can get to a "compose your blog entry" window, click post, and get the post up immediately, without the Blogger hangups!

UPDATE: I'm loving working with Flickr. I just signed onto a two year upgrade -- only $80 or so. Unlike my older photos, these are 3.1 megapixels. If you click on the thumbnails, you'll see the medium sized version, but you can also choose large or full size. There's lots of additional detail in the pictures that you can see if you click on the displayed thumbnail. Also, you'll get into my whole "photostream." And you can comment over there too. So, even though I don't allow comments on my blog, you can get some comments in over at the photographs. I've taken a liberal version of the Creative Commons license, so I think this means you can blog my photos, with credit to me, if you want. In just two days, I've become a raving Flickr fanatic!

The life of a law professor.

Here's the view from my table this morning at Espresso Royale. I was reading National League of Cities v. Usery for the hundredth time and drinking a medium cappucino for the ten-thousandth time.

Espresso Royale
Originally uploaded by Ann Althouse.

The first tornado warning of the year.

Do I run down into the basement when the tornado siren goes off, as it's doing right now? No. But I do stay close to the basement door. Right now, the sky is darkening, but there isn't the slightest bit of wind. See how dangerously I live?

Don't fall for this blog scam! I did!

So you have a blog, and you have a Site Meter. And you check the "Referrals" page, and you see the name of a blog you don't know, so you click on it. But it's one of those automatically updated, machine-made bogus blogs that advertise some damned thing. I'm thinking they've automated coming to your blog to entice you to go there. Of course, that is a version of something bloggers themselves do to get attention, isn't it?

UPDATE: Maybe all that happened was someone clicking on the "next blog" button. Maybe Blogger never should have added that. I thought it was cool at first, but didn't it inspire the bogus blogs? And so many real blogs are just one post that says something like "Hey, I started a blog."

Don't speak ill of the dead?

Actually, the law prefers it.

Ideas first, charisma last.

On the NYT op-ed page, Former Senator Bill Bradley tries to figure out what the Democratic Party can do to rebuild itself. He bases his idea on a plan Lewis Powell (who went on to become a Supreme Court Justice) devised for the Republican Party, after the Goldwater defeat in 1964. Powell's design led to the construction of a "pyramid."At the base are large donors, who fund the conservative research centers at the next level. Above them are the political strategists who take and deploy the ideas produced in the centers. Next are the partisan news media through which the strategists work. Finally, at the top, is the President.
Because the pyramid is stable, all you have to do is put a different top on it and it works fine.

It is not quite the "right wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton described, but it is an impressive organization built consciously, carefully and single-mindedly. The Ann Coulters and Grover Norquists don't want to be candidates for anything or cabinet officers for anyone. They know their roles and execute them because they're paid well and believe, I think, in what they're saying. True, there's lots of money involved, but the money makes a difference because it goes toward reinforcing a structure that is already stable.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have a completely unstable, inverted pyramid. The point is at the bottom, and the whole party structure needs to balance on the strength of the one charismatic character who is able to win the Presidency. When he's gone, they're back to nothing.
There is no clearly identifiable funding base for Democratic policy organizations, and in the frantic campaign rush there is no time for patient, long-term development of new ideas or of new ways to sell old ideas. Campaigns don't start thinking about a Democratic brand until halfway through the election year, by which time winning the daily news cycle takes precedence over building a consistent message. The closest that Democrats get to a brand is a catchy slogan....

Candidates don't risk talking about big ideas because the ideas have never been sufficiently tested. Instead they usually wind up arguing about minor issues and express few deep convictions. ...

If Democrats are serious about preparing for the next election or the next election after that, some influential Democrats will have to resist entrusting their dreams to individual candidates and instead make a commitment to build a stable pyramid from the base up. It will take at least a decade's commitment, and it won't come cheap. But there really is no other choice.
Very well put -- by a man with a fancy educational background who once ran for President and wiped out early, because of a woeful lack of charisma. He's right, though, isn't he?

Is it a mystery that academics tend to vote for the Democratic candidate, despite this lack of coherent ideas? Academics are -- I'm thinking -- a lot less interested in elaborately structured ideologies than nonacademics imagine. Perhaps intellectuals are more comfortable with freewheeling, pragmatic politics than the average citizen. But Bradley is still right: the Democrats should develop a coherent ideology in order to speak persuasively to that average citizen, who longs for ideas that make sense. And plenty of academics would freewheelingly and pragmatically enjoy raking in lots of money while they produce the necessary structure of ideas.

UPDATE: Gerry Daly has a different perspective on the Bradley piece.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's another perspective, from Tigerhawk (who reveals that he went to law school with Ann Coulter).

The fight over domestic partner benefits.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
Two key lawmakers said Tuesday they would recommend removing a provision of Gov. Jim Doyle's proposed budget extending insurance benefits to the domestic partners of unmarried University of Wisconsin System employees.

Rep. Dean Kaufert, R- Neenah, co-chairman of the Legislature's budget-writing committee, and committee member Rep. David Ward, R- Fort Atkinson, said the $1 million proposal was ill-timed.

"It is impossible to think of extending employee benefits to a whole new demographic of people at the same time we are watching the UW System struggle to cover their current set of bills," Kaufert said, calling the decision "a fiscal issue, plain and simple."

But university officials who testified before the Joint Finance Committee at a daylong hearing on the budget said the provision is a key part of an overall effort to attract and retain star faculty, which also includes $5 million for campuses to counter offers from competing institutions.

"On a fairness basis, I think there's a pretty strong case that can be made for extending domestic partner benefits," Regent Charles Pruitt said. "But on a competitive basis, it's an even stronger case. We are the only university system in the Big Ten that doesn't offer domestic partner benefits."

Gov. Jim Doyle has budgeted $500,000 in each of the next two years for the benefit, which would let same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples qualify for the same family insurance coverage spouses of university employees get.

The provision is seen as a long shot in a Republican- controlled Legislature seeking to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions....
I would argue that those who are against same-sex marriage ought to support equalizing benefits. Gay state employees shouldn't be stuck with a systematically inferior pay package and shouldn't be singled out for special burdens when we need to save money. Those who want to make an argument about the essential nature of marriage shouldn't want to connect that argument -- which they try to phrase in lofty, idealistic terms -- with shortchanging a set of employees. A lot of us are already skeptical of your lofty -- we might say sanctimonious -- presentation of the argument against same-sex marriage. If you link this argument with rank cost-cutting, you can expect us to become even more skeptical.

Must bicyclists obey traffic laws?

The Badger Herald reports that the UW Police are going to make some new efforts to enforce traffic laws against bicycle and moped riders.

Ever notice how we call them riders, not drivers? It's part of the whole aura of irresponsibility.

I speak as a pedestrian in Madison. For fifteen years, I walked to work. (I live a little over a mile from the Law School.) I switched to driving largely because I got tired of the bicyclists riding, full speed, on the sidewalk. It was especially irksome to share the sidewalk with them on University Avenue -- most of my walk -- because University Avenue has bicycle lanes going in both directions.

Now, I park in the Business School garage, and I cross University Avenue to get to the Law School. For cars, University Avenue is one-way, but the bicyclists can still come through from both directions, which they do, light or no light, without slowing down for the groups of pedestrians who've waited for the crossing light and are especially unlikely to notice anything coming from west-to-east direction.

Sometimes I wonder what goes through the mind of the campus bicyclists. Do they think they are more virtuous because they go without gasoline? But their reckless sense of entitlement made me take up driving. You would think that bicyclists would have a positive image, and that people who walk would admire those who bike instead of driving. But the selfish behavior of bicylists on campus has made us pedestrians despise them.

UPDATE: A emailer makes a good point about drive/ride:
I always just thought it was the verb having to do with the seating and form locomotion. Train conductors drive a train, passengers ride on it. You drive a team of oxen, but you ride a horse. You especially ride a motorcycle, and drive a car (or drive a "cage").

I believe it comes from something to do with "mounting" astride the horse or the bike, as opposed to sitting-down on an upholstered bench in a cocoon of comfort.

You especially only ride a dirtbike until you fall off - it's a temporary thing, the riding. That's why we wear a lot of protective gear.

If you say that you drove a motorcycle you'd be laughed out of the big Harley gathering at Sturgis, even though many ostensibly badass-looking accountants and dentists types trailer their bikes to a nearby motel, and then ride-in.

I kind of think I'd be laughed out of a big Harley gathering at Sturgis no matter what I did.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several Madison bicyclists have emailed to say that they follow the rules and are dismayed that other bicyclists don't and ruin everybody's reputation.

March 29, 2005

"But I also know if I can get music without buying it, I'm going to do so."

So said Justice Souter -- of all people -- in the oral argument in the Grokster case today. Doesn't look too good for the music industry side, does it?
But by the end of the lively argument pitting Grokster and its allies on the electronic frontier against the entertainment community's stalwart defense of intellectual property rights, any prediction about what the court will actually decide appeared perilous.

It's a difficult case, and the question, based on the old Sony case about videotaping, is whether there's a "substantial noninfringing use" for the technology:
Justice Antonin Scalia said he was concerned that legitimate uses of a new technology might need some time to become established; in the meantime, the developer would be defenseless against a copyright infringement suit. "What I worry about is a suit right out of the box," he said. "Do you give a company a couple of years to show 'substantial' noninfringement?"

[Acting Solicitor General] Clement replied that in the government's view, there should be "a lot of leeway at the beginning." But that was "not this case," he said, asserting that Grokster and StreamCast had "a business plan from Day 1 to capitalize on Napster."

See? It's really difficult!

Building electronic circuits out of bacteria.

From Wisconsin Public Radio (audio):
A team of scientists at UW-Madison have found a new use of bacteria to build tiny electronic circuits. Eventually the discovery could lead to the creation of micro sensing devices that could warn of the presence of dangerous biological agents such as anthrax.

"American Idol" -- It Came From the Nineties.

The theme tonight is the nineties. I'm thinking of all the great Alternative Rock songs early in the decade, but no... that's not how it will be! Bo Bice sings some chaotic, unmusical Black Crowes song. He tries to make us like him by wearing a huge, floppy black-and-white cowhide-patterned hat and by dancing on the judges' table, something you know Simon will experience as appalling. Jessica Sierra does a Leann Rimes song, and it's completely dull. My mind wanders. Oh, it's over. Good. And Anwar sings "I Believe I Can Fly," making the beginning astoundingly singsong, then doing some Stevie Wonderish high notes to try to distract us from the mediocrity of it all. Paula lays it on thick -- so disgustingly that I'm writhing on the floor gagging. Anwar raises a fist in victory and it's all so terribly unreal that I'm hoping for Simon to slam Anwar, even though Anwar seems to be such a sweet guy that you don't normally want anything bad ever to happen to him. Simon agrees with Randy about the complete inadequacy of the low notes, reminding the voters not to fall for the glorious high notes but to penalize poor Anwar for the really bad half of the song.

Nadia's hair is back to full-on Nadiosity, and she sings "I'm the Only One." Didn't Nikki McKibbin sing that in Season 1? I'd say she's a lot worse than Nikki, as an exciting singer. But after what happened to Nadia last week, I bet the judges try to help her. Randy damns her with the faint praise she always gets: you're not the best singer in the competition, but... Simon likes her but is critical of the song: it's not melodic. Which has been my problem all night: unmelodic songs! Was that some 90s trend? Also, let me say something about the words:
Please baby can’t you see
My mind’s a burnin’ hell
I got razors a rippin’ and tearin’ and strippin’
My heart apart as well

Is this the way to convince your lover to come back? I'd say it's time to get a restraining order! That's just ugly!

Here's Constantine! I started liking him last week, you know. And in his interview, he's talking about Grunge. Finally, something that really says 90s! But what is this cheesy love song? It doesn't seem grungy at all! What kind of a bait-and-switch is this? "I Can't Make You Love Me." I don't get it. I was expecting Nirvana or at least Pearl Jam. But this is Bonnie Raitt! This isn't Grunge! Paula and Randy love it, but Simon likes him too! "Classic pop star." So much for Grunge!

Nikko... It's this song, which I've never heard before -- or never been conscious of hearing. Total nonsong. Randy raves. Paula raves. Simon thinks it was a good copy of the original. Eh...

Anthony Fedorov is driveling something about the way you look tonight, which focuses me on the horrible green shirt he's wearing tonight. Ooh, he's awful! "I want to be nice," Simon says, "because I like you"... but he isn't nice -- quite appropriately!

Carrie Underwood sings "Independence Day," and they all love her. Simon tells her she has "that It factor -- and that's what it's all about." Does nothing for me.

Scott Savol. Aaarrrggghhhh. Singsong beginning. Weird high-low stuff. What is this song? It's all over the place. It's this. "Ambitious song... all right" ... "I was swaying... vibing it... you got my heart" ... "Get real here. Whoever wins this competition has to enter the real world."

Vonzell goes last? She does an old "American Idol" favorite, "I Have Nothing." I never need to hear this song again. The judges like it!

So what do I think of tonight? I think they were in a completely different 90s from what I remember. There was some great music, but they didn't sing any of it. These bellow-y ballads? I hate them all! Who should go? They all should go! If I ever motivated myself to dial the telephone and try to save anyone -- which I don't -- who would I vote for? Oh, Vonzell, because I like her. And Constantine, because he's sweet and self-effacing. Who would I kick out? Carrie, because the Powers That Be like her too much. Anthony, because he hurt my ears. Anwar, because that singsonging thing was lame.

UPDATE: Adam at Throwing Things seems to share my basic take on the contestants. Plus he says a lot of funny things. I especially liked: "Nikko -- Welcome to Charles Grigsby/Rickey Smith World; Population: Three."

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: So Jessica's gone. That's what I predicted. Well, either her or Anwar. And Anwar came in next to the last. It's striking how well the voters get it. The show itself was boring tonight. There was another dreadful group sing.

I imagined it.

Howard Kurtz reports:
College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

Harvard's faculty of arts and sciences hit President Lawrence Summers with a vote of no confidence after he privately wondered about the abilities of women in science and math.

The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.

"What's most striking is how few conservatives there are in any field," said Robert Lichter, a professor at George Mason University and a co-author of the study. "There was no field we studied in which there were more conservatives than liberals or more Republicans than Democrats. It's a very homogenous environment, not just in the places you'd expect to be dominated by liberals."

Studies need to try harder to amaze me.

(And, yes, I know, everyone has already linked to this. But I've been trying to put up this post since this morning, and Blogger's been down -- they really were fixing something today -- so I'm going to put this up at long last.)

"Drawn into a vortex of irrationality and nastiness that generates its own energy."

Christopher Hitchens regrets starting to talk about the Schiavo case, but, having started, he goes on to say a lot more. It's harsh, but I think he says some things a lot of people think but won't say.

How are things in Latvia?

Check out this new blog, written by an American. As his first post shows, he emailed me something about my blog, and I encouraged him.

Jurors consulting the Bible.

The NYT reports on a Colorado state court opinion that threw out a death sentence because the jurors consulted a Bible. Now, clearly, jurors are not supposed to bring in their own materials, but here they used the Bible in considering moral values after they were given the instruction, required by Colorado law, that each juror should make an "individual moral assessment."
In the decision on Monday, the dissenting judges said the majority had confused the internal codes of right and wrong that juries are expected to possess in such weighty moral matters with the outside influences that are always to be avoided, like newspaper articles or television programs about the case. The jurors consulted Bibles, the minority said, not to look for facts or alternative legal interpretations, but for wisdom.

"The biblical passages the jurors discussed constituted either a part of the jurors' moral and religious precepts or their general knowledge, and thus were relevant to their court-sanctioned moral assessment," the minority wrote.

Legal experts said that Colorado was unusual in its language requiring jurors in capital felony cases to explicitly consult a moral compass. ...

"The court says we're asking you to be moral men and women, to make a moral judgment of the right thing to do," said Thane Rosenbaum, a professor of law at Fordham University School of Law in New York City, and author of the book "The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What's Right" (HarperCollins, 2004). "But then we say the juror cheated because he brought in a book that forms the basis of his moral universe," Professor Rosenbaum said. "The thing is, he would have done it anyway, in his head."

Other legal experts say the Colorado decision touches on an issue that courts do not like to talk about: that jurors, under traditions dating to the days of English common law, can consider higher authority all they want, and can convict or acquit using whatever internal thoughts and discussions they consider appropriate.

In this instance, lawyers said, there was simply a clearer trail of evidence, with admissions by the jurors during Mr. Harlan's appeal that Bibles had been used in their discussion. One juror testified she studied Romans and Leviticus, including Leviticus 24, which includes the famous articulation of Old Testament justice: "eye for eye, tooth for tooth."...

The Bible is hardly monolithic about what constitutes justice. Some legal experts say the jurors might just as easily have found guidance that led them to vote to spare Mr. Harlan's life. Lawyers for Mr. Harlan also specifically urged the jurors to consider biblical wisdom, according to the Supreme Court's decision, with a request that they find mercy in their hearts "as God ultimately took mercy on Abraham."

The lawyers also made several references to Mr. Harlan's soul and his habit of reading the Bible with his father, the court said....
Most American jurors, I would think, remember "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" along with other Biblical sayings. They are going to think about these moral concepts that have become part of their minds and, unless carefully instructed to refrain from saying such things, they are likely to quote the verses they know. But is an important line crossed when the actual text is seen in the jury room?

I don't have time this morning to read the case, but I'll take a look at it later and update if I can.

UPDATE: Oh, Blogger's been awful today, but finally I can update. I’ve read the case, People v. Harlan, and the key point really is bringing in the text – “extraneous evidence”:
The jury deliberated on the penalty phase late into Friday evening, but did not reach a unanimous verdict. Several jurors studied Bibles Friday night in their hotel rooms, looking for passages relating to capital punishment and a citizen's duty to obey the law, and took notes on the location of particular passages.

Juror Eaton-Ochoa took notes on two passages. The first was Leviticus 24:2021: "fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it, but whoever kills a man shall be put to death." The second was Romans 13:1: "let every soul be subject to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God."

Juror Eaton-Ochoa brought a Bible into the jury room Saturday morning when deliberations resumed. Other jurors testified that more than one juror brought in a Bible, and that one of the Bibles present contained a study index with which a reader could locate passages on particular subjects. Jurors Eaton-Ochoa and Trujillo also brought their notes on biblical passages into the jury room. Juror Eaton-Ochoa showed juror Cordova the Bible text from Leviticus commanding the death penalty for murder, as well as the Romans text. By noon that day, the jury returned a unanimous verdict imposing the death penalty on Harlan.
Thus, it was like earlier cases – one in which jurors looked up the word “burglary” in the dictionary, and another where jurors looked up “Paxil” on the internet. The court was explicit about the distinction between bringing the book into the jury room and holding the same text in one’s head and even quoting it aloud in the jury room:
We do not hold that an individual juror may not rely on and discuss with the other jurors during deliberation his or her religious upbringing, education, and beliefs in making the extremely difficult "reasoned judgment" and "moral decision" he or she is called upon to make in the fourth step of the penalty phase under Colorado law. We hold only that it was improper for a juror to bring the Bible into the jury room to share with other jurors the written Leviticus and Romans texts during deliberations; the texts had not been admitted into evidence or allowed pursuant to the trial court's instructions.

We expect jurors to bring their backgrounds and beliefs to bear on their deliberations but to give ultimate consideration only to the facts admitted and the law as instructed. The judicial system works very hard to emphasize the rarified, solemn and sequestered nature of jury deliberations; jurors must deliberate in that atmosphere without the aid or distraction of extraneous texts that could prejudicially influence the verdict.

The written word persuasively conveys the authentic ring of reliable authority in a way the recollected spoken word does not. Some jurors may view biblical texts like the Leviticus passage at issue here as a factual representation of God's will. The text may also be viewed as a legal instruction, issuing from God, requiring a particular and mandatory punishment for murder. Such a "fact" is not one presented in evidence in this case and such a "legal instruction" is not the law of the state or part of the court's instructions.

The secret to being Amazon's #1 reviewer.

Read four (or five) books a day and only give positive reviews -- that's the message from this WSJ interview with Harriet Klausner.
It would be overstating things to suggest that Ms. Klausner, 53, has never met a book she didn't like. It would be more on the money to say she's of the "if you don't have anything nice to write, don't write anything at all" school of literary criticism. "If a book doesn't hold my interest by page 50 I'll stop reading, which is one of the reasons I give a lot of good ratings," says Ms. Klausner, whose voice suggests she's taken more than a few nips of helium. "And why review a book to give it a low rating or to tear it apart? Nothing in that."...

Ms. Klausner's taste runs to fantasy, chick-lit romance--particularly the paranormal and supernatural variety--horror and science fiction. Pet authors include Laurell K. Hamilton, Jan Burke, Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz and particularly Patricia Cornwell. "I need a lot of variety. There's never enough for me to read," says Ms. Klausner, who has zero truck with poetry, westerns ("You put on a cowboy hat, place the story in the wild west and you have a police procedural") or nonfiction ("unless it's a subject I'm really into. Otherwise it's too time-consuming.")

Well, tons of people enjoy her advice, but personally, I feel no connection to her way of thinking about things. Not enough to read, yet nonfiction is too time-consuming?

March 28, 2005

Waiting for grilled cheese.

Marigold Café
Originally uploaded by Ann Althouse.
So here I am at the Marigold Café, with my casebook open to the habeas corpus chapter. My number is 67, which seems lucky, because it's the street address of the first house I ever lived in. I'm waiting for a grilled cheese sandwich. I mean, I was, four hours ago. Right now, I'm testing out Flickr, used with Flickr Export from iPhoto. all my past photoblogging has used Mac.com and has involved some painstaking coding. Let's see how this works.

UPDATE: So let's assess how that worked. Most glaringly, it screwed up the accent over the "e" in café. A small thing, now fixed. Second, it puts the picture over on the side and makes the border too dark to suit the Minima template. But I can fiddle with the coding and fix that too. There, I've lightened the border. But third, it pulls me into the world of Flickr, which I know has some cool aspects to it, but, for example, I don't know if I want to get that email saying "You are so-and-so's newest contact!" Am I going to regret this?

Teaching the Schiavo case.

I wonder if lawprofs are going to teach the Schiavo case in their classes, at least this semester, when the issue is very present in everyone's mind. I don't know if I'd put it in my Constitutional Law class, but it seems to me to fit well with Federal Courts/Federal Jurisdiction, which is my other class. We've studied Congress's power to regulate the jurisdiction of the federal courts and various federalism-based doctrines limiting the intrusion of federal courts into state court matters, and we are about to study habeas corpus, which deals with federal court review of state court judgments in criminal cases.

Examining a hot, current case takes time away from planned topics. Certainly, we did it back in the days of Bush v. Gore. I remember coming in to teach about federal question jurisdiction in Civil Procedure when the Bush-Gore litigation was just starting and the class expressing shock that I wasn't going to talk about it. So I talked about it, but a doggedly made it about federal question jurisdiction too!

Back when I went to college, we Baby Boomer students expected every teacher to put every subject to the side and talk about Vietnam. A vogue word of the time was "relevant," and we were very harsh about informing teachers that they weren't "relevant." I remember the the professors accommodating us -- following their own political hearts? -- by reordering the Western Civilization class so that every topic was "revolution" -- which seems so laughably lame now.

The "impishly fun" President.

Elisabeth Bumiller writes about how much President Bush seems to enjoy press conferences these days.
At a news conference last week, Mr. Bush joked that he did not have the time "to sit around and wander, lonely, in the Oval Office, kind of asking different portraits, 'How do you think my standing will be?' "

And at the end of an interview with a Belgian television correspondent last month, Mr. Bush blurted out to the young woman that she had "great eyes," glanced away slyly and then a little sheepishly, but for the most part seemed sorry that the session was over.

Is this a new George Bush?...

Clay Johnson III, the deputy director for management in the White House budget office and Mr. Bush's roommate at Yale, had a simple explanation for the president's mood: "He never, ever has to run for office again."
That reminds me of how a lawprof feels a liberation and a new sense of fun in the last few days of the semester, after the students have written their evaluations.

March 27, 2005

Easter on State Street.

I took a yellow pad and a book I need to write about down to a café on State Street. I also brought the NYT crossword puzzle and some admissions files. I did not bring my computer, because I feared the usual mesmerization. At one point, taking notes on my book, I paused and then felt I needed to do something and then realized it was that feeling of needing to save. I've really gotten out of the habit of taking notes with a pen and paper. I read three admissions files. I do the puzzle. I notice a figure looming over my table. It's Chris -- my younger son. He's here to get some writing done and takes a table in the back. I'm using all the room on my little table. Later, I get up to leave and stop over at his table to say goodbye. I take a picture:

He takes a picture of me:

I leave and take a walk on State Street. It's a sunny warm day. Someone is playing the saxophone. One of those people who hang around in Peace Park saw a man walking a golden retriever and called out to the dog, "Hey, Lassie." Most of the shops were closed, but there was some good window shopping to be done. My camera battery conked out, or I would have taken a picture of the big store window where they'd built a pyramid out of cigarette cartons and posted a big sign that read "Dip Your Lungs In Sunshine."

That was Madison in the early afternoon. Later in the afternoon, some sports-related unhappiness settled on the city.

UPDATE: I started the diagramless puzzle in the café, but it was tricky, and, using a pen, I found myself in need of Wite-Out soon enough. I switched to the far, far easier regular crossword. Later, at home, I finished the diagramless puzzle, and it was a puzzle for the ages! Wow! Just plain: wow! And "wow" was actually one of the answers. But ... wow! I can only think of one diagramless puzzle that was more impressive. And if you do the diagramlesses, you know what I'm talking about: Connect the Dots, the most amazing puzzle ever to appear in the NYT.

Arguing with your ex, in the comments.

I think I'll resist.

UPDATE: Readers, banish all sentimental thoughts! R and I broke up nearly twenty years ago.

"Jeopardy!" in Madison.

"Jeopardy!" is coming to Madison, looking for contestants, on April 20th and 21st. Submit your application here.

Easter and the end of Spring Break.

It's Easter and barely 30 degrees here in Madison, but it's sunny, the birds are singing in a springtime style, and, supposedly, it's going to warm up to 50 degrees. I should get out and around. I'm sure many young Madison kids will be out in shorts, T-shirts, and sandals -- if they are back from Spring Break yet.

I've seen my son John off, and he's on his way back to Ithaca, after his own Spring Break. It was nice to have him home. Both of us were trying to get a lot of work done while enjoying the leisurely pace of a week without law school classes. Of course, as usual, I didn't get half of what I meant to get done done.

If you ever wish you could have more time to get something done, just remember: if you did have more time, you wouldn't get more done. The extra time would melt away, and you'd be back feeling pressure to get it done in too little time. You might as well enjoy the free time and not moan about the things you didn't achieve. Idle moments at the dining table, talking about this and that, are much more your real life than all those grand accomplishments, achieved and unachieved.

"They all got their piece of Terri Schiavo."

Carl Hiaasen has some harsh words about the Schiavo controversy:
That the Congress basically climbed into Terri Schiavo's private deathbed is not only disgraceful, it's scary.

This was a family matter and nobody else's business. Five years ago, in the midst of their guardianship battle with her husband, Schiavo's parents conceded that their daughter was in a persistent vegetative state.

Then they went national, and that's when the circus started -- the wailing Bible-thumpers, the goofballs with their homemade crucifixes, the pious anti-abortion lobby and their rabidly misinformed bloggers.

Close behind were politicians on the scent of votes and money....

The whole thing was one of the most cynical charades in memory. From the Congress to the White House to the statehouse, they all got their piece of Terri Schiavo.

By the time this column appears, she might be gone, but you can be sure that the politicians and the zealots they're courting will never let this poor woman die.

Even when she's dead.

Did you enjoy that slab of red meat? I thought it had an off taste.

Easter candy controversy.

The Russell Stover candy company is taking some heat for producing a chocolate cross as an Easter candy.
"Obviously they've seen that there's a market for chocolate crosses at Easter," said Lisbeth Echeandia, a consultant for Candy Information Service, which monitors candy-industry trends. "I don't see it growing tremendously, but I think there would be growth in the Christian market." However, not all Christians are happy about it. Chomping on a chocolate cross can be offensive to some, said Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut "The cross should be venerated, not eaten, nor tossed casually in an Easter basket beside the jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps," he said. "It's insulting."
But the point of the Easter candy cross is to satisfy people who think it's offensive to make Easter about rabbits and chicks. And is it wrong to eat a cross? What about the longstanding tradition of hot cross buns? UPDATE: A reader writes:
Not just hot cross buns. What about pretzels, which were designed by monks to resemble arms folded in a traditional prayer posture? Christianity is an incarnational religion. Eating signs of the faith isn't disrespectful. After all, the Eucharist is a preeminent expression of faith. If you can consume God, I can't imagine why you can't nibble on a cross.

Schiavo politics, judicial politics.

I notice we're not talking about Social Security anymore. It was too tedious to talk about -- too tedious to think about. But everyone can think and talk, talk, talk about Terri. This is a problem with a face -- and in that face we can see all the things that we become emotional about.

But when Terri has died, will the political effect linger on?

We are also on a death watch for our Supreme Court justices, who have held their seats for so long. Politicos and ideologues long for the opportunity to replace them, and some would like to see the Schiavo vigil as a warm-up for the next Supreme Court appointment ordeal.

Here's the slant from Jeffrey Bell & Frank Cannon at The Weekly Standard:
For President Bush and the social conservatives who comprise the central rampart of his base, the courts' naked assertion of judicial supremacy in deciding the fate of Terri Schiavo represents an important moment. This is because the premise of the Democratic filibuster of the president's conservative judicial nominees is that the Roe v. Wade decision must never again be called into question.

The judicial confirmation debate will now unavoidably be about whether democratic decision-making on abortion should continue to be prohibited by our courts and (effectively) by the American legal profession. From the beginning, those who believed Roe would corrupt the rule of law feared that state sanction of private killing would put all public order and all private restraint in doubt. The fate of Terri Schiavo makes clear that those fears were utterly on target.
Did you enjoy that slab of red meat? I thought it had an off taste.

UPDATE: If you didn't enjoy this slab of red meat, try this cut from the other side.