July 9, 2005

Motels with WiFi.

Are there U.S. motel chains that consistently provide WiFi (or at least high-speed internet connections)?

I'd like to know, as I'm driving across the country, which brand names to associate with the internet access I simply must have when I stop. I consider this more important than a television, and of course, you take it for granted that there will be a television. If I knew a particular brand-name motel always had WiFi, I would keep driving until I got to one of those. So, if there isn't such a chain, this is just a suggestion: WiFi should become a standard amenity.


After September 11th, I had a conversation with my sons about whether there could ever be a movie about it. I clearly remember John saying it could never be made into a movie. I noted "Titanic." Surely, after, say, 50 years, a movie could be made? No, John said. Never.

Now, I read that not only is a movie too be made now, only four years after that terrible day, but that the movie is to be made by Oliver Stone. God, I despise that man.

UPDATE: This movie is to be made by Paramount Pictures. Perhaps you will join me in refusing to buy tickets to any Paramount Pictures production as long as it is backing this film. Here is their current line-up:
In Theatres Now:
· War of the Worlds
· The Honeymooners
· The Longest Yard

Coming Soon:
· Hustle and Flow
· Bad News Bears
· Four Brothers
· Elizabethtown
· Aeon Flux
· Get Rich Or Die Tryin'

IN THE COMMENTS: A commenter prompted this response from me:
Your comment underscores for me why I think a movie using special effects would be an obscenity. We already have the images. What is the point of recreating them? To show it can be done? To be more vivid? To put us even closer? To have a roaring sound effect along with it? To show it in slow motion from many angles? To let us see the people inside expressing anguish, then getting crushed? To instruct us with a montage connecting this person suffering and this destruction with someone somewhere else suffering and some destruction somewhere else?

Unappeasable grievances.

Christopher Hitchens on why there is not a political solution for the grievances raised by the Islamist terrorists as there was for the grievances raised by the IRA:
We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way....

The[se] grievances ... are unappeasable, one of many reasons why the jihadists will lose.

They demand the impossible - the cessation of all life in favour of prostration before a totalitarian vision. Plainly, we cannot surrender.

Academic appointments committees that fear the blogger.

Here's a pseudonymously written article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about all the many, many problems bloggers present to the appointments committees who may be considering hiring them.

Yeah, all you academics who might be blogging or considering blogging. Be afraid, be very afraid. Don't you dare blog. Close down right now. You've got to choose. Do you want to be an academic or do you want to be a blogger?


There, now. More room in the blogosphere for me.

Well, really... Here's the Metafilter discussion of the topic. I suppose if I were desperate for a job, this article might scare me into not blogging. So you can discount what I'm saying if you want. But, for me, blogging is so phenomenally satisfying that I would find the possible career advancement sacrifices worth it, and, what's more, I love the idea that this blog automatically functions to deflect people from me who don't like it. Saves me a lot of damned time interacting with people I'm not going to like.

UPDATE: I went back and reread this article, looking for the one really serious danger that a responsible, high-quality blogger faces: revealing your politics. The article has nothing on this, perhaps because it would reflect poorly on the appointments committee. But I think there are people on appointments committees who would set themselves against a candidate who, say, voted for Bush or supported the war in Iraq. If you blog about politics, you're quite likely to write things that will make someone you're going to need to like you hate you.

Another thing I noticed on rereading was this paragraph:
We felt deceived by his overstatement of his academic expertise. In this case, it was not the candidate's own blog, but that of a boasting friend, that revealed the truth. The lesson? Be careful what you let a close associate's blog say about you. What that associate sees as complimentary may cast you in an unflattering light in the eyes of a search committee.
Well, there's little you can do about that! This is the same problem anyone has confiding in anyone. I guess there's just the extra concern that confidences can nowadays be violated on a spectacular scale. Or maybe the point is: don't let any bloggers near you. They might up and tell the whole world just about anything. Scary, scary bloggers!
The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.
What idiocy! Anyone on the faculty at any time might start a blog and hang out the dirty laundry. It doesn't matter that the person doesn't have an established traffic flow. All he needs is a link -- easy enough to get if you have a juicy post -- and the traffic will gush over. A person with an established blog has a track record of responsibility and an interest in maintaining the blog long term. It's that rash newcomer who's most likely to do something outrageous. How many of my readers think one day they are going to read something nasty about the University of Wisconsin on Althouse?

Man, these people are just too stupid to be trusted with appointments -- and too timorous to deserve to a university position from which to dribble out the contents of their weak little minds.

"MTV's 10-Hour Apology."

The NYT reports:
Stung by criticism of its interrupted coverage of last week's Live 8 concerts, MTV Networks has announced plans to offer 10 consecutive hours of commercial-free performance coverage today. VH1 will broadcast highlights from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and MTV will show highlights from 3 to 8 p.m. "At MTV and VH1, we're in a constant and candid dialogue with our audience, and in the wake of the live events last Saturday, our viewers have resoundingly told us online they want to see full-set performances from their favorite artists," said Van Toffler, the president of MTV Networks Group, who called the concerts "one of the most important music events of our time."

I didn't read the on-line forums, but it's fun (and easy) to think of the colorful statements represented by the word "resoundingly."

News flash: Catholics believe in God.

It's front-page news, apparently, that the theory of evolution as accepted by the Catholic Church actually envisions a role for God.

What would the world be like if everyone talked like Christopher Hitchens?

Did you see Andrew Sullivan's "Quote of the Day" yesterday?
"JOE SCARBOROUGH: Mr. Hitchens, is Senator Clinton correct?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: I have no idea. My presumption would be that she's just fooling with the numbers. But that's just because I don't like her and can't stand the sight of her."

Oh, that's rich. What would the world be like if everyone talked like Christopher Hitchens? I think it would be paradise!

Out on Highway 14.

Many times, I'd driven by Peck's, a market on Highway 14. Despite the eyecatching sights, I'd never stopped, until yesterday:

Wisconsin roadside market

Wisconsin roadside market

Wisconsin roadside market

(The flag is at half staff for Gaylord Nelson.)

What to wear for a sentencing walk.

You might not control what you wear on a perp walk, but you may be able to style yourself for a sentencing walk. WaPo's fashion writer Robin Givhan comments on what Judith Miller and Li'l Kim wore:
[Kimberly] Jones emerged from Manhattan federal court dressed in a blue-gray blazer and trim trousers with a simple white blouse. A belt with a large decorative buckle hung low around her hips. She was carrying a rather large blue Louis Vuitton handbag -- Le Fabuleux. It is $3,200 worth of goatskin and brass hardware that says "fabulous." One can imagine that a cell phone, a lipstick and a tin of Altoids make up its entire contents.

Jones's hair, which during her trial was often worn in a prim bun or sweet ringlets, hung loose and straight down her back. Her jaw was set. She did not look angry or sad as much as she looked resigned. (Indeed, her face displayed more emotion when she arrived -- and before punishment had been meted out -- and she had to squeeze through the crowd to get into the courthouse.) To use a description often used in the context of hip-hop, Jones looked hard. She released a statement in which she thanked her fans for their support and noted that her prison sentence was just one more hurdle in her short but difficult life. No worries; she would persevere.

In contrast, Miller arrived at U.S. federal district court dressed in black trousers, a quilted black jacket, a yellow shirt and tortoise frame sunglasses. She was clutching a wad of papers and the usual wireless, digital gear. She was also carrying a black shoulder bag whose most distinguishing feature was its ability to keep a multitude of writing tools within easy reach. In essence, it was an elaborate form of pocket protector. Miller was smiling. It was a pleasant smile. And it was still spread across her face as she was driven off to jail.

The women seemed acutely aware that the sentencing walk -- like its predecessor, the perp walk -- defines them in the public's mind. In its execution, it is not enough to stand straight and hold one's head high. This is a powerful visual image capable of conveying subtleties and broad strokes. Both women were playing to their fans.
Givhan goes on to describe the effect serving time will have on the two women's careers. Since Li'l Kim is a rap artist, according to Givhan, it can only help. For rap fans: "The prison term seems less an ordeal than a right of passage." Well, you can argue about whether that's politically incorrect, but it sure is a usage error. Where are the WaPo proofreaders?

July 8, 2005

A little Friday goat-blogging.

Wisconsin roadside market


From a roadside market in Wisconsin, near Spring Green.

The shortest movie source material.

The previous post asks about movies and the books they were based on, and in the comments to the post, we are also talking about short stories that were made into movies. As has often been noted, short stories are better material for movies because you can cover all the material and even expand upon it. Books, you have to cut down, and so readers are often disappointed.

This made me wonder what the shortest written source material for a movie is. There must be movies based on a single sentence -- perhaps a squib of a newspaper story or a line of scripture or one famous quote. I know often a movie (like many books) begins with a written quote displayed on screen, but that doesn't necessarily mean the the quote was the basis for the movie. I'd like to hear about movies based on a really short, short source. Got anything?

When the movie is better than the book.

When I started to write this post, I had the misimpression that the article I was linking to was going to be about movies that are better than the book they are based on. Obviously, usually people think the book is better than the movie (although people who've read the book may be a special subcategory of moviegoer whose opinion is not entirely trustworthy for those who don't like to read fiction books that much). So it's interesting when the movie actually is better. I was going to set up a post so that the comments could give a lot of examples, but then that post took a different direction.

Still, one of the commenters -- Joseph Angier -- picked up this theme and wrote:
One thing Caryn James only vaguely alluded to were the times when the movie-makers actually improved on the source book. Of course it's subjective, but off the top of my head I'd include "The Verdict" and "The Shining" on that list. Both times, the filmmakers saw powerful themes that had been given short shrift in the books. In the first, David Mamet and Sidney Lumet turned a so-so legal thriller into a meditation on Irish fatalism (yeah, I know, they're both Jewish). In the second, Kubrick and his writer (Diane Johnson?) added the writer's bloc, plus the word versus image battle between father and son. I read somewhere that Stephen King hated this movie, but as Nicholas Ray once told me (about the author of the book "Thieves Like Us," who'd written the first screenplay draft of what became "They Live By Night"): "He didn't understand his own book!"

So let's have a discussion on this topic. I'll throw out the really, really obvious example: "The Godfather." And I'll add two I feel strongly about: "Fight Club" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

Okay, your turn.

UPDATE: Botched backwards post title fixed.

Hidden away images.

John's Paris photo (in the previous post) heightened my awareness of street art as I walked home from State Street today. Here are two pictures. (Click and hit "all sizes" to triple the size.)

Street art. Street art.

Paris graffiti.

Originally uploaded by John Cohen.
Another photo from my son John, who's in Paris. I love this one!

Oooh, look at my shaved head! Did you know it's for my movie "V for Vendetta"?

So Natalie Portman is driving through NYC with an expired registration, the cops stop her, and now she's all:
"I've never had that happen to me before. It's supposedly random... My registration was expired because I had been out of town, and it was my first day back. I'd been in Israel and Berlin for the shooting. They wouldn't let me go in. But he said to take the bridge instead. And I didn't understand that logic. If you're a suspect, don't take the tunnel, take the bridge?"
So the police must have targetted her because of her shaved head, she tells Newsweek.

You know Natalie, just shut up and deal with it. Don't use it as an occasion for disrespecting the police and -- oh, just by chance! -- promoting your damned movie.

And you "don't understand the logic" that relates to car bombs in tunnels as opposed to on bridges? You were a straight-A Harvard student and you can't run that through your head and come up with anything?

Rehnquist retiring?

Drudge has the siren going.

UPDATE: And the whole day goes by with nothing more than Rehnquist saying "That's for me to know and for your to find out." What a card! How near death can he be if he's horsing around like that? But wasn't the original rumor that he'd retire by the "end of the week"? Presumably, Saturday counts, and Saturday is presidential radio address day. Other things inopportune about today: Bush spent most of it traveling; it's too soon after yesterday's terrorist attack in London.

Such sheep.

Sheep are such sheep.

Movies and their books -- especially "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Usually people who've seen the film and read the book think the book is better. But lots of people just see the films and feel that's as close as they need to get to the underlying the book. Here's a piece by Caryn James in the NYT about various movies that overwhelm the books they are based on.

Then there's the special case of the film that overshadows the book, where deficiencies in the original book-to-film transition justify remaking the film to tap the aspects of the book the first film missed. Take "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." James is sure to rile a few fans of the 1971 Gene Wilder movie with this:
The Johnny Depp version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (opening next week) comes from Roald Dahl's children's novel about a boy who inherits Willy Wonka's candy factory. The book is not exactly unknown, but there are plenty of people surprised to learn that it is not called "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" like the creaky 1971 film. It's hard to get past that movie's old-Hollywood musical numbers; what child really likes the song "Candyman"?
I was just reading the recent cover story in Entertainment Weekly on the new Depp film (subscription link) which was somewhat more deferential to the old "Wonka" film, even as it reminded us of the ridiculous Gene Wilder complaints about the remake:
Whether or not 1971's Willy Wonka is a great film, or even a good film, is almost beside the point. Neither commercially nor critically successful at the time of its release, Wilder's film only later snowballed into a sort of camp classic. Now, three decades later, it's become a sugarcoated time capsule for a generation known for its nostalgic sweet tooth. On the set of Charlie, virtually everyone is careful to respectfully sing the praises of Wilder and his film, but that didn't stop Wilder from bad-mouthing the new Charlie, telling London's Daily Telegraph recently: ''It's all about money. It's just some people sitting around thinking 'How can we make some more money?' Why else would you remake Willy Wonka?'' Wilder declined to comment for this article.

Depp says he was taken aback when he heard Wilder's remarks. ''Hearing about that was disappointing,'' he says. ''But I can understand where he's coming from, I guess. The one thing I didn't understand was that apparently he was quoted as saying 'Well, they just did this for money.' Well, hey, man, where have you been? When didn't they ever do anything for money? Nobody's ever made a film in the history of cinema where they weren't expecting some return on their dough.''
Hmmm.... I see Wilder very recently retracted his criticism. Good move. He sounded like an idiot. His film just isn't that good. If the new film is great -- as it should be! -- he can't possibly hope to prevail with his contention that his film is so perfect there's no room for a remake. The fact is the 1971 film is rather crappy. Who are the people who love it? That movie always struck me as intended for the pothead/acidhead audience of the day. Then it became a cult film when those people got older and bought VCRs and needed to entertain their kids.

Ah, deterrence!

This ought to strike fear into the hearts of the agents of chaos.


My iPod shuffle is filled with my carefully selected study music (which my readers helped me select). There's lots of ambient Brian Eno things, some nice Wes Montgomery, some early music. But there's one joker deliberately inserted in the deck: "Housequake," by Prince. Every time it comes up, it startles me, then makes me laugh.

"Have you ever wondered who graduated #2?"

Gordon Smith writes:
It is well known that William Rehnquist graduated #1 and Sandra Day O'Connor graduated #3 in the Stanford Law School class of 1952. Have you ever wondered who graduated #2?
He's got the answer.

Predicting the Rehnquist retirement.

Within an hour of hearing, last week, that O'Connor was resigning, I wrote this about the potential for a Rehnquist retirement:
I think we should still expect the Chief Justice to retire and see the retirement of O'Connor as a sign that the retirement is more likely. I know in the past Justices have waited a year to let the attention be given to another retiring Justice -- at least that was the case when Justice Blackmun retired one year after Justice White. But that was back at a time when there were a lot of retirements in succession. I think that now, with all these long years without a vacancy, processing two nominees together would help the transition.

The political arena is going to go absolutely wild even over one new Justice, and it seems to me that having two to confirm at once would be a way to control and manage the emergent hysteria. There would be more leeway in political negotiations with two vacancies, and less attention to the very specific interest in replacing the first woman with another woman. And we could have one crazy summer instead of two. Whether easing the political battle is a factor the Chief would or should take into account is another matter.

From William Rehnquist's personal perspective -- not that it's for me to say -- it would seem that he's lived with and accommodated himself to a familiar group for so long, that it would be difficult, especially for an older, ailing person, to deal with a newcomer. Perhaps not. Perhaps it would be energizing to welcome a new colleague, a fresh, young ally. Frankly, if I were old and ailing, I might want to stay in the thick of stimulating, new experiences.

Is Rehnquist announcing his retirement today?

The Washington Post writes:
Talk of a possible Rehnquist retirement has reached full boil...
Time to pour a hot, steaming cup of political madness.

That Amazon concert.

Have you noticed the Amazon 10th Anniversary Concert? It will be live-streamed and free, and includes Bob Dylan (and Norah Jones).

I've been using Amazon since the very beginning. I wonder how much money I've spent there over the years, especially during the early years of DVD when I had the delusion that I could own every movie I liked that happened to come out on DVD.

July 7, 2005

We're with you.


dead starling
Originally uploaded by paul van eik.
"Sadness" is a "hot tag" on Flickr today, along with tags like "londonbombblast," "bombings," "aftermath," and "terrorism." But not every photo tagged "sadness" depicts the London bombings. This picture simply shows a little boy (in the Netherlands) who is sad that the starling he tried to save has died. The boy's pure outrage at death touched me.


I had never seen that expression -- used in India, for sexual harassment -- until I read this article:
DESPITE a high rate of literacy, it has been observed that local girls and women hesitate to approach the police when it comes to eve-teasing. Even now when someone teases them, they take it as a stigma and find it best to avoid the situation.

Newsline spoke to different sections of people on this issue. Shivali Sharma, a post-graduate student, says, ‘‘Have you heard the case, in which a police constable raped a girl in Mumbai. After hearing such cases, how can a girl even think of approaching the police,’’ she said.

Nidhi Tuli, who has recently done a diploma in export management, says, ‘‘Since childhood, we have been taught to avoid such persons and situations, so I never thought of approaching the police. I don’t even tell report an incident of eve-teasing to my parents and try to ‘solve’ the problem myself.’’

Geetanjali Chhabra, an undergraduate at Khalsa College, says, ‘‘I know there are numerous laws to check eve-teasing but if you approach the police even they start embarrassing you’’.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some discussion of dealing with the police in India leads me to share this story (which has nothing to do with India):
One of the downsides to travel is the strange police ways of another country -- if you should happen to need to encounter them. I got robbed in Rome and, believe me, the police were ridiculous. The criminals -- children who prey on travelers in the train station -- were caught and I had to sit around with them in the office. The kids cried (crocodile tears) and spoke with the cops in Italian. I got bits of it translated. In the end, the cops simply let the kids go and explained to me "They're children." Presumably the police got their cut, because at one point a cop came in with a stack of wallets, including mine. So I did get my wallet back, minus the cash.


I had the satellite radio tuned to BBC all day today, and I heard a lot of interviews with persons on the street in London. They were being asked: do you think you'll be able to get home? how do today's attacks make you feel? and will you come in to work tomorrow? Person after person displayed exactly the same attitude: an almost cheerful faith in the ability to get home somehow, crisp but not emotive anger about the attacks, and an uncomplicated intention to come back to work tomorrow just as they would any other day. No sobbing or even mild whining. No despair whatsoever. Inspiring!

MORE: Tony Blair exemplifies this attitude:
"It is a very sad day for the British people but we will hold true to the British way of life.

"It is through terrorism that the people who have committed this terrible act express their values and it is right at this moment that we demonstrate ours."

Well said.

STILL MORE: Slate gathers some London attitude, blogger-style. From the freely expressive, feisty Nosemonkey:
"I tell you what, if this is an 'Islamic' terrorist attack, they're doing a piss-poor job. The pubs are all packed out, people sipping their pints happily, all a tad pissed off, but basically fine with it," he noted at 2:05 p.m. "Nice one, Al Quaeda - you profess to be from a teetotal religion, and you've given the pub trade a massive mid-week boost. … Other than causing the grief of too many innocent people, these cunts will have achieved precisely fuck all. We shall not be moved."

And scroll down to the pictures at 23:20:
Nearly time for bed. All I ask is that we don't forget the others who have died today, from whom those bastard terrorists managed to distract our attention.

Reporter Miller goes to jail; judge mouths bad metaphor.

I respect civil disobedience, defying the law for a cause. Part of it is accepting the consequences, as Judith Miller is doing. It's a very powerful image, a person going willingly to jail for a principle deeply believed in. It can work to produce a change in the law.
"I have a person in front of me," Judge Hogan said, "who is defying the law."...

Ms. Miller, who conducted interviews but never wrote an article about the C.I.A. operative, joins a line of journalists who have accepted jail time rather than betray their sources' confidences. That tradition, according to Judge Hogan, does not deserve respect.

"That's the child saying: 'I'm still going to take that chocolate chip cookie and eat it. I don't care,'" the judge said.
There being no federal journalist's privilege, the judge had to punish Miller, but he didn't have to say that. His effort to strip all dignity from her as she made her grand gesture backfired and made him look small.

London terrorist attack.

Six explosions. Two dead. Are any of my readers there? If so, tell us what you can in the comments.

UPDATE: From the BBC:
An Islamist website has posted a statement - purportedly from al-Qaeda - claiming it was behind the attacks.

July 6, 2005

In search of offensive religious jokes.

BBC reports:
Ship of Fools, an online magazine which describes itself as the "Private Eye of the Christian world", is looking for the funniest, and most offensive, Christian jokes.

In the face of legislation [in Britain] it fears will limit what people can joke about in a religious context - a claim strongly rejected by ministers - it wants to provoke a debate about what is humorous and what is offensive.

"It's vital we have such criticism at the heart of our way of life and religion," says co-editor Stephen Goddard, who thinks an interactive debate is healthy for Christianity.

"But no-one knows quite where humour goes into offence, because one man's joke is another man's offensive comment. We're trying to find the theology of humour - how to understand humour from a Christian perspective, and we're giving people the chance to judge their own views by other people's."

But why is religion so often a source of comedy? Mr Goddard says it because there's a black humour to the Bible stories.

"The prophets did crazy things to draw the attention of people to repentance and a return to godly ways, like dragging dogs through the streets or sitting on a pillar for 40 years. Religion tends to draw certain extreme people, which can be very good material for humour."
Note the limitation of the search: Christians are searching for offensive jokes about Christianity. Making someone else's religion into a joke is another matter. Not that I think it should be against the law.

(Please don't be offensive in the comments!)

Is there ever a dull moment in the Life of Althouse?

Yes. Yes, there is. Like today, when I had nothing at all to pass the time, not even a scrap of paper to read, and I took this picture:

Dead end.

Actually, that picture reminds me that I kind of like this TV show.

"Women Suffer More than Men."

That's what it says here:
New research has found that women report more pain throughout their lifetime. Compared to men, women feel pain in more areas of their body and for longer durations.

"The bottom line seems to be that women are suffering more than men," said Ed Keogh, a psychologist from the Pain Management Unit at the University of Bath.

In one study, Keogh and his collaborators interviewed patients in a pain management program. Although the program reduced chronic pain for all the subjects, in follow up exams the women in the group reported pain levels as high as before the treatment -- whereas the improvements in the male group were longer lasting.

In another set of experiments, volunteers were asked to put their arms in an ice water bath. Men were found to have higher pain thresholds (the point where they began to feel pain), as well as higher pain tolerances (the point where the pain became too much)....

"Social and psychological factors cannot be ignored," Keogh said. "We have found that women will focus on the emotional response to stress."

In contrast, men typically think only of the sensation itself, which may explain their higher thresholds and tolerances.

"Women who concentrate on the emotional aspects of their pain may actually experience more pain as a result, possibly because the emotions associated with pain are negative," Keogh said.
This is interesting, because I'd always heard that women have more endurance for pain. That notion may just have formed from witnessing childbirth. Men have been looking on for millennia and thinking, I couldn't do that.

I can't help observing, though, that this study is flawed, because they relied on the subject describing his or her own pain, and men are more likely -- I would think -- to put on a stoical front. Maybe women seem to have more endurance for pain because they are more willing to call a feeling pain or to admit they have pain.

But if it's true and we women do experience heightened physical sensation because of a tendency to merge physical stimuli with emotion, then we ought to have more pleasure too. As Tiresias reported.

"I got rid of them when I finally had some authority."

Chefs against green peppers:
Brian Bistrong of the Harrison doesn't like the way green pepper lingers. "If you eat one, you're going to taste it the rest of the meal," Mr. Bistrong said. "I got rid of them when I finally had some authority. Now that I'm the boss, I can not have them."

Dan Barber, who won't let green peppers into the kitchens of either Blue Hill Restaurant in Manhattan or Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., called the problems with the vegetable "multitiered."

"First, I don't like the flavor," he said. "And I've learned more about them. They're an immature pepper. You're eating a vegetable before it's supposed to be picked."

Tasha Garcia, one of the chefs of Little Giant, recoils when she tastes anything that reminds her of it. "We had a staff tasting and with this one cabernet franc it was like, oh, green peppers," Miss Garcia said. She added that she was overwhelmed by the association. "I hated the wine, hated it, hated it," she said. "Now I'm not a big cabernet franc fan."

The Laura factor.

Why is Bush homing in on Alberto Gonzales for the Supreme Court appointment, despite all the noisemaking by social conservatives who worry that he might not be pro-life? Maybe it's the Laura factor. Don't you think Laura Bush is telling him that he can't put someone on the Court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? Appointing Gonzales is so perfect: he can pick his dear friend, he can have the distinction and the political advantage of appointing the first Hispanic Justice, he can deflect criticism from Democrats (who have to realize that Gonzales is the most liberal possible choice Bush can make) and from Republicans (who just don't have enough information to pin Gonzales down as pro-abortion), and he can do what his wife is (probably) telling him that he simply must do.

Put the Laura factor into the equation and the answer is obvious: Bush will pick Gonzales.

Found while Googling to see if anyone else was saying that: "Who influences George W. Bush?" by Howard Fineman. This is the relevant passage:
Bush has been shaped and surrounded by strong women. As he himself has said, he has had a series of them to “mother-hen me.” They include Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Karen Hughes, Condoleeza Rice and Harriet Miers, now the White House counsel but for many years before that, his personal lawyer. (Give his daughters a few more years to mature, and they will perform the same function; they already serve as jovially merciless style critics.)

What does this have to do with the Supreme Court? Plenty: as far as I know, none of these women is “pro-life” in the strict sense – certainly Barbara and Laura Bush are not. The president has said that the country is not ready to see the overturn of Roe V. Wade. Maybe what he meant was: My Mother Hens aren’t ready. Would he want to defy them with his Supreme Court choice now?
And since Bush is replacing a woman on the Court, there is all the more reason to pay attention to what the women in his life are saying to him. And, unlike Finemen, I think those daughters are telling him plenty.

My declining NYT habit.

I've just been catching up on the email and checking the blogs. I see Richard is doing some blogger meme that involves listing your five favorite things in six categories -- the five senses plus "kinetic sensation." I'm not one to take the trouble to try to come up with so many items. I mean -- what? -- for smell there's Play-Doh... but then what?

And then there's the creativity-crushing feeling of obligation to recognize loved ones: the smell of my wife, the taste of my wife, the sight of my wife, the sound of my wife, the touch of my wife, the kinetic sensation of my wife. Really, to make this meme any good, there ought to be a ban on mentioning family members.

Anyway, for sight, the one that springs immediately to my mind is: the sight of the New York Times on my front walk in the morning. [Make mental note to watch "My Dinner with Andre" again soon.]

For decades, I have begun each day at home picking up that blue bag, spreading the paper out on the dining table, and -- unless I'm rushing off to some oddly early commitment -- having my morning coffee while paging through the Times, reading whatever interests me (and doing the crossword). In the last year and a half, I've combined this habit with blogging. I've usually gotten the day's blogging going by commenting on two or three things in the NYT that have caught my eye.

But lately, I've gotten absorbed in reading things on my laptop, and the NYT has sat there longer and longer without my opening it. Today, I'm shocked to see that it's after 5 in the afternoon and I still haven't read more than a front-page headline. I'm not tired of it. I've been meaning to get to it all day. I'm just losing the habit.

The blogging habit -- which used to be merged with reading the paper Times -- has taken over the habit-space in my day.

UPDATE: Let me alert you to the existence in the comments section at the link of bickering between me and my ex-husband. It's rich, like good black soil.

Covering the unknown Supreme Court nominee.

Hmmm... just checking the Site Meter referrals and seeing that I'm getting traffic from the Washington Post. It's this article (on page 2) -- Howard Kurtz, writing about the Supreme Court appointment -- or, really, the strangeness of all the media coverage of the appointment in this period before anyone's been selected. Kurtz quotes this post of mine. And he collects lots of other commentary -- quite interesting -- about the unknown nominee and the Senate response to him/her.

I notice Kurtz refers to me only as "Ann Althouse," not "blogger Ann Althouse" or "law professor Ann Althouse" or "blogging law professor Ann Althouse" or "law professing blogger Ann Althouse." Not sure whether that makes me feel famous or obscure.

When is ideology an "extraordinary circumstance" within the meaning of the filibuster compromise?

I'm giving the prize to Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) -- one of the fourteen compromisers -- who took this postion:
"A nominee's political ideology is only relevant if it has been shown to cloud their interpretation of the law. . . . A pattern of irresponsible judgment, where decisions are based on ideology rather than the law, could potentially be 'extraordinary.' "

Change "could potentially be" to "is" and you've nailed it.

Of course, we'll still have to argue over what counts as "clouded" and "irresponsible," and I'm going to withdraw my approval if it turns out to be just the view that the decisions produced by principled originalism or textualism are wrong. Tell me, Senator Landrieu: If you applied this standard to Justice Scalia or Thomas, would they deserve a filibuster? The answer should be no.

How good is circumcision?

This good.

Toning up the rhetoric, paying attention.

Hey, Sarah Vowell is the new guest columnist at the NYT. I love her hilarious, never-padded writing. I'm immensely enjoying the audio version of her current book "Assassination Vacation." So it's great to see her here.

A taste:
Seeing [Pat] Robertson in that commercial with Bono - and Bono's hair - is a little like listening to Paul Anka's new recording of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." At first, it's jarring to hear the guy who wrote "Puppy Love" for Donny Osmond sing Kurt Cobain's lyrics: "a mosquito, my libido." But listen hard and you can hear what Anka hears. He doesn't hear the ranting of weirdos. He hears the poetry, the architecture of a justifiably standard song like "Autumn in New York," like "Fly Me to the Moon."
See how there's something to see in every phrase? I love that!

Anyway, tucked away in this piece that's mostly about aid to Africa, she has this on topic of replacing Sandra Day O'Connor:
On Monday, anticipating an epic dust-up regarding his new nominee for the Supreme Court, President Bush said he hoped that special-interest groups on both sides would "tone down the heated rhetoric." They shouldn't, though.

This is about the lifetime appointment of a person who will be making life and death decisions for millions of people for decades to come, not about some petty time waster like - come on, again? - flag burning. It's so important that we should agree to melt together on the slopes of a Kilauea of issue-ad spew.
Here's the front-page NYT story about the request to tone down the rhetoric on the Supreme Court appointment. I disapprove of exaggerated rhetoric myself, much as I enjoy selecting the juiciest nuggets of it for blogging purposes. But I do think it's right to argue about who belongs on the Court. It's terribly good for us to engage with this, especially to learn to detect when we are being played and to grasp what matters and what really doesn't. Vowell is correct to flag flag-burning as one of the unimportant issues that are used to manipulate ordinary people while the powerful jockey to get the things they really care about.

This is an excellent time for everybody to pay attention. The President would like you to calm down, sit back, and believe that he's carefully studying all the credentials and will decide whom to nominate based on the highest of principles, at which point you're supposed to boo anyone would would obstruct the slick path to confirmation. But you shouldn't do that.

UPDATE: I note that the Times let Vowell make a huge gaffe. Paul Anka did not write "Puppy Love" for Donny Osmond. Paul Anka was himself a teen idol, circa 1959, and "Puppy Love" was one of his many hits. Donny Osmond simply did a cover version, years later.

"There were very few women in law school."

So said Nina Totenberg on "Meet the Press" last Sunday. She was talking about 1981, the year Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court. A lot of people have gone soft in the head over the O'Connor retirement. Can we please get a grip?

I graduated from law school in 1981. Law School was full of women then. The editor-in-chief of the Law Review was a woman both years I was on. The top three students in the class were women. It wasn't like: Wow, there's a woman on the Supreme Court -- now, I see that women can go into the field of law!

I remember in 1981 saying to one of my many women lawprofs that I was interested in going into law teaching. One of the things she told me was that it used to help to be a woman, because law schools needed to increase the number of women on their faculties, but unfortunately I'd already missed that boat. That was too cynical, of course, but my point is that it was something you could say with a straight face in 1981, so let's not pretend O'Connor was a lone pioneer.

Here's the whole Totenberg quote for reference:
[A]s the first woman--you know, young women today may not remember, but I was there and it was an incredibly moving moment when she was named to the court. And I covered the court back then and I was amazed at myself, at how emotionally caught up I was in it. At that point in the profession, there were almost no women judges. There were very few. There were almost no women lawyers. There were very few women in law school. Today, there are women all over the federal and state bench, lots of chief judges and state chief justices. The majority of law students in major American laws schools are women. So she essentially became the symbol, the opening of the doors, as she said to me in an interview last year. It sort of threw open the doors and the profession that was once an almost exclusively male club is now a totally integrated club.
This is, in fact, ridiculous.

"The only way to stop 'borking' as a political strategy is to defy and defeat it."

The Wall Street Journal makes the argument -- and makes it well -- that Bush should appoint a strong conservative to replace Justice O'Connor. In my view, these are especially strong points:

1. Bush ran for office saying he would choose someone like Justices Scalia and Thomas.

2. There has been a strong tendency in recent decades for moderate conservatives to move to a liberal position on the Court, so conservatives have already been deprived of their share of the sort of justices they favor and are quite reasonable to guard against this with a new appointment.

3. Re Gonzales: "as former White House counsel and now head of the Justice Department, [he] would have to recuse himself from most if not all of the war-on-terror cases." The threat of 4-4 decisions alone is reason to oppose him. (Experts on recusal: is this true?)

4. "Borking" is wrong and should be confronted.

July 5, 2005

Who am I? Why am I not here?

James Stockdale, Perot's running mate in 1992, has died. He employed an unforgettable, offbeat style in the Vice Presidential debate, which will live forever in Saturday Night Live reruns, where his impersonator, Phil Hartman, is also immortal.

So that's what it takes to get a Wonkette link!


So, should I continue this new sexualizing-the-Supreme-Court thing?

UPDATE: I'd like to see Wonkette's email. Bloggers must write to her constantly seeking links, pitching posts whenever they've taken something political and sexualized it. I wonder if it make her sad sometimes.

Have you seen "War of the Worlds"?

Chris (my 22 year old son) just saw it and gives it the highest praise. Dialogue:
ME: Does it connect with political stuff -- the war on terror...?

CHRIS: Yes, because it's set in the present day, and at one point the little girl asks, "Are they terrorists?"

ME: So, is it left wing?


ME: Is it right wing?

CHRIS: I don't think it's right wing, because the people who made it are probably liberals, but I think right wing people could really get into it. If you're really into the war on terrorism, you could probably get into it as symbolic of the war on terrorism, because it shows the American military trying to fight against the aliens, and it has a teenage son who wants to join the American military in the fight against the aliens.

ME: And he's a positive character?

CHRIS: Yeah, he's the main son... he's Tom Cruise's son.

ME (noticeably typing): Is there anything else you'd like to say?

CHRIS: It's a real experience to watch the movie.

ME: That's what you want to say "it's a real experience to watch the movie"?

CHRIS: Yeah. I saw it on the Ultra-Screen and I was sitting pretty close to the front, so it was like an IMAX.
Also, we discussed the negative Roger Ebert review, and I speculated that Ebert marked it down because he picked up a right wing vibe.

Okay, you Kelo haters.

Powerline's John Hinderaker writes, in The Weekly Standard, that Kelo is not so bad. (My Kelo-is-not-so-bad posts are here and here.)



M. Diddy says house arrest is "hideous."

M. Diddy being Martha Stewart's prison nickname.

Did you know I wrote "the creepiest sentence ever" about the Supreme Court?

It's in this post (and pointed out by one of the commenters). And I really did mean to put that image in your mind.

What if no one is bisexual?

Some researchers attached sensors to 101 penises and then showed the possessors of these penises either all-male or all-female porn movies. It was kind of a lie detector test, because the men had all professed to being heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. All the bisexuals, it seems, were lying -- or deluding themselves. Once you disregard the one-third of men who weren't aroused by any of it -- which, rightly or wrongly, the scientists do -- all the men were distinctly attracted either to males or to females. This contradicts the views of Freud (who thought bisexuality was the norm) and Kinsey (who thought there was a continuum from heterosexuality to homosexuality).

I think you can critique the study in various ways, but I'm also interested in how this finding -- if we were to confirm it as a solid fact and applicable to women as well as men -- would affect various arguments about gay rights. Let me posit that believing Kinsey was right about the continuum is currently causing many people to resist the social acceptance of homosexuality. They are hoping to influence people in the middle of the continuum to choose a heterosexual "lifestyle." But if no one really is in the middle, this attempt at influence is truly misguided. You may as well remove the obstacles to the individual's free choice of sexual orientation.

Trying to control what the next Justice will have to say.

Todd Purdum has this piece in the NYT about the way Supreme Court Justices have disappointed the Presidents who chose them. The classic quotes of the miffed Presidents are there: "I could carve out of a banana a judge with more backbone than that," etc.

And here's a quote from Chief Justice Rehnquist:
[T]he court "is an institution far more dominated by centrifugal forces, pushing towards individuality and independence, than it is by centripetal forces pulling for hierarchical ordering and institutional unity."
Funny, since the front page of yesterday's NYT had Linda Greenhouse talking about the way there is a strong centripetal force on the Court (which I agreed with). But Greenhouse's centripetal force metaphor referred to the Justices' tendency to move to the ideological center, while Rehnquist used that metaphor to mean adherence to the ideology the President perceived in the judge at the time of appointment. So there is no real disagreement here. The Justices acting independently -- affected by the Chief's "centrifugal force" -- are breaking away from the ideology they brought to the Court and, if they move to the center, this Rehnquistian "centifugal" move is the Greenhousian "centripetal" move.

Strange how we picture a person's ideology as a thing existing in space and subject to the principles of physics!

Do you ever look critically at the diagram of politics you've got stored in your head that you use all the time without thinking much about? How about that mental picture of the Court? It's pretty simplistic, isn't it?

I wish Presidents would choose judges who are deep and serious thinkers with enough dimension and substance that we wouldn't be able to form such a simple picture. I wish the opinions were written by people whose work I would be interested in reading if it had no grand authoritative power to it.

July 4, 2005

The struggle against disorder.

Locally, I'm caught up in an email discussion about the struggle to keep one's house in order. I wrote:
I could use a little motivation to keep my house in order. One reason I want to move to a smaller place is to have more order. I love order just enough to appreciate it after I've cleaned up and to think I should keep it that way and then to remember that feeling, later, when disorder has taken over.
And then this:
I'm thinking of ordering a dumpster, just to fill it up. A dumpster's worth of stuff removed from my house would really make me feel better.
The idea of a yard sale was raised. My response:
It's not worth dealing with strangers pawing through my things for a few hundred bucks. You have to sort through things and display them and be pleasant to everyone and face their cheapness. Horrible!

Just a place in Paris.

Originally uploaded by John Cohen.
But, oh, I love the name!

(This is another one of John's pictures. How I would love to wander the streets of Paris and find amusing things like this to photo-blog!)

"Almost as if a constitutional centripetal force had been at work."

Linda Greenhouse sums up the Supreme Court's last term and concludes that the center has control:
The court's federalism revolution stalled, while the revival of property rights, which appeared to be taking off not long ago, crashed and burned on a riverbank in New London, Conn....

Justice Stephen G. Breyer displaced Justice O'Connor at the court's center of gravity, casting the fewest dissenting votes - 10, to Justice O'Connor's 11 - in the 74 cases that were decided with full opinions.

As the Rehnquist Court ended a 19th year and appeared poised, unexpectedly, to begin a 20th, it was almost as if a constitutional centripetal force had been at work in recent years, pulling the court back toward the middle in many areas of its docket, including federalism, affirmative action, religion and abortion. The result frustrated conservatives and raised the stakes for the appointment of Justice O'Connor's successor.

The court's six discrimination cases from this past term provide an example. Three were brought under the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection, and the others required an interpretation of three different federal statutes.

I think there really is "a constitutional centripetal force" that operates on the minds of the individuals that find themselves on the Court.

What does this say about whom Bush should pick to replace O'Connor? I think it will be hard for the newcomer to avoid the seductions of the center. The temptation to yield to the embrace of Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy will be quite strong. But if Bush remains true to his campaign statements -- and why doesn't he owe that to his supporters? -- he will appoint a hardcore conservative who can resist the centripetal force. In so doing he will only increase the effect of the centripetal force on Justice Kennedy, transforming him -- as I said last Friday -- into a reliable liberal.

"A jet-black, pickle-shaped, icy dirt ball traveling at 6.3 miles per second."

That was Tempel 1 -- 83 million miles away. And we hit it with an impactor launched from Deep Impact.
At those speeds, impactor had to be in the right place at the right time to intercept the speeding snowball.

"It's a bullet trying to hit a second bullet with the third bullet," Rick Grammier, Deep Impact project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in June.

And Deep Impact filmed the brilliant explosion and sent the pictures home.

Amazing! Spectacular! Beautiful!


I love the format and idea of the "communities" part of Truth Laid Bear. And I'm very happy to be included in the nice "Academy" community. But it just doesn't update often enough. What is labeled "fresh bloggy goodness" is a day old right now. Sorry to complain about a site that is so wonderful overall, but a big part of blogging is speed.

Independence Day.

Washington Monument

(I took this picture two years ago, and have been waiting to post it. In my family, this is known as my "most right wing photo" and jokes have been made along the lines of: "What if you put that on your office door? What would people think? What would they say?")

UPDATE: Lots of action in the comments on this one. Tonya writes: "I quite like the photo and resist the idea that the right owns the flag. " Somebody else writes: "[A]s long as displaying the flag is considered right wing, the left is not going to win nearly as many elections as they'd like." I'd say, the photo above reads as right wing. The left may love the flag too, though, but not in such a stark display. Here's my most left-wing flag photo, from the Kerry rally here in Madison last fall:


July 3, 2005

Something has gone seriously awry.... with our Birkenstocks.

They've brought in Heidi Klum. And this is the result.

Heidi seems to belong to the Tana School of Fashion Design.

UPDATE: That first shoe -- that "lace-up half boot with striking animal motifs" -- costs $600!

"It was a physical and psychological nightmare."

It's hard, playing The Thing. Take a look at the thick glued-on costume that freaked out Michael Chiklis:
Dr. Nancy Subel, the Los Angeles clinical psychologist with whom Mr. Chiklis spoke at least three times, told him to ground himself in the reality around him and to resist giving in to anxiety, lest it snowball. "She had me describe to myself everything in my dressing room and reminded me that actors often live in the moment, no matter how difficult that moment can be," he said. "Then she told me to get out of the makeup chair and walk around," advice he followed - even though his costume's shoes weighed 13 pounds each.

Quick summary of the current state of the O'Connor replacement rhetoric.

Okay, it didn't take long, looking at news articles and listening to Sunday TV newstalk to see the theme each party has got going on the O'Connor replacement.

DEMOCRATS: O'Connor was a moderate and ought to be replaced by a moderate. We Democrats can't say more than that until we see who the nominee is, at which point we will need plenty of time to do our research. (And you should get the point that this will take forever and include a filibuster if Bush doesn't get the message and choose a moderate.)

REPUBLICANS: Bush will do an exquisitely careful, thoughtful job in choosing a nominee, who, being so carefully, thoughtfully chosen, will deserve the utmost respect, which must be expressed in the form of a quick "up-or-down vote."

Tempted to tune out until we actually hear who the nominee is? Or do we have to worry that the terms of the fight are being importantly "framed" right now? If so, I feel compelled to get into the act, because the blogosphere has got to make a show for itself too.

So let me say four things.

1. I agree that O'Connor was a moderate, within the spectrum of opinion that currently reigns in constitutional interpretation -- reigns in the courts, I hasten to say, not in the academy, of course.

2. It's a contestable point whether a Justice ought to be replaced by someone as much like her (or him) as possible. I think we should notice and fight over whether a different sort of Justice is filling a vacancy, but there's no general principle here. Past Presidents have often taken advantage of vacancies to shift the Court. The President has the power of appointment under the Constitution, and the President has reached his position of power through a democratic process that today very much includes debate about the direction the Supreme Court should take. The real question is whether this Court, now, should be shifted, not whether it is legitimate in the abstract to shift the Court.

3. I don't think the failure to choose a moderate can, in itself, be portrayed as the sort of "extraordinary circumstances" that justify a filibuster under the terms of the recent filibuster compromise. Still, filling a Supreme Court vacancy is very different from putting someone on the Court of Appeals, so it's not enough to say the new nominee is no more conservative than the nominees who were confirmed after the compromise. We need to concern ourselves about the Supreme Court's power to overturn precedents, so what was not "extraordinary" at the appellate court level can become "extraordinary" at the Supreme Court level. But it would be unfair to simply assert that the circumstance of appointing a Supreme Court Justices is in itself "extraordinary."

4. The mere fact that Bush is going to "take this responsibility seriously" -- as he put it -- doesn't mean whatever he does warrants supine deference. If the Republicans chant "up-or-down vote" too much, it's going to feel really oppressive. (I'm already sick of that phrase.) There are a lot of people who worry that they are going to lose rights they believe they are entitled too. Getting all overbearing in response to this genuine fear is going to turn moderates like me against you. And I'm not one of those people insisting on a moderate.

Disconnected from the locality, tuned in to the galaxy.

Yesterday, I stopped at Borders for a quick browse and a whatever-Borders-calls-their-Frappucino. The barista, making small talk, said, "So are you on your way to Rhythm and Booms?"

I said, "Oh, is that today?" and she gave me the full gape-mouthed are-you-the-stupidest-person-in-the-world look.

The "Rhythm and Booms" fireworks display (accompanied by radio music) is quite popular around here. Last night, the crowd in attendance was larger than the population of Madison. I do realize that Monday is the Fourth of July. Presumably, the fireworks display occurs on or near that day. And here I had been listening to the radio all day on my long drive to the Natural Bridge State Park. But, of course, I didn't hear any announcements and promotions of local events. I was connected to the satellite radio -- off in space. In fact, I was tuned to the ethereal "Visions" channel, which makes driving through landscapes feel like a spiritual journey:
With its blend of soothing, inviting , magical music and inspiring and meditative messages, AudioVisions creates a place you can escape to when the world seems all too real. The music flows with an inviting pulsation and once you've accepted the invitation you'll find yourself surrounded by the joys of nature, inspired by poetry and messages of peace, and thrilled by all things beautiful.
I especially enjoyed William Orbit as I made my little local orbit to climb to a hilltop and back. They played "Adagio for Strings." I wonder what music they played on the regular radio at "Rhythm and Booms"?

Natural Bridge State Park

Goodbye to Governor Nelson.

Gaylord Nelson, the former governor of Wisconsin, founder of Earth Day, has died.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked a panel of historians and other experts to name the century's 10 most significant people in Wisconsin. Nelson ranked fourth, behind Robert M. (Fighting Bob) La Follette, naturalist, philosopher and author Aldo Leopold, and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Religion and mental illness.

The NYT has a long piece on the mentally ill Romanian nun who was killed in a botched attempt at exorcism.
"You can't take the Devil out of people with pills," the 29-year-old priest, Daniel Petre Corogeanu, told a Romanian television station during a four-hour interview taped just before he and the nuns were arrested in June.
Isn't that disturbingly similar to Tom Cruise on the "Today Show"?
All it does is mask the problem, Matt. And if you understand the history of it, it masks the problem. That's what it does. That's all it does. You're not getting to the reason why. There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.

Sex hoax of the week.

I think it's a hoax. The Metafilterers hoax-detection skills are on full display at the link.

When librarians break loose.

The UW-Madison Book Cart Drill Team.