October 1, 2005

"The Iraqis are going to have to stand on their own at some point."

Says Russ Feingold -- in, significantly, New Hampshire.
He called it a formula for disaster if Iraqis get the idea Americans will remain indefinitely.

"That is going to hurt us. It's going to hurt Iraq and most importantly it's going to help the terrorist elements that use the idea of an unending American occupation as a recruiting tool."
That is well-framed statement of opposition to the war.

More on that right wing meme.

I really like this take -- by Fiona de Londras -- on my "great artists are essentially right wing" meme. She seems to get what I'm talking about. Read the whole thing, especially the part about why, in this analysis, Noam Chomsky would be distinctly right wing. That's not an argument against my concept, but a recognition of the usefulness of the concept.

Any second now.

I've been spending a long morning reading the news and blogging, sitting at the dining table, and right here next to me -- I look at it from time to time -- is a To Do list I wrote the other day, during the week, when I couldn't realistically expect myself to do much. These are weekend things to do. Hmmm, let me jot down another item. It's still Saturday morning, so at the moment I can believe I'm going to do many, maybe even all of these things over the weekend. Wouldn't that be swell? How nice I'll feel Sunday evening if that happens. I hope it does! I have a vivid image of me, leaping up and plunging into the set of tasks. It feels so very much like something I'm going to do any second now.

About that pink locker room....

WaPo sports columnist Sally Jenkins takes on the big pink locker room controversy. Is it a significant feminist issue that the visiting team's locker room at the University of Iowa has a pink decor?
An Iowa law professor has deconstructed those pink walls in Kinnick Stadium, and, instead of seeing them as a joke, has found semiotic messages of misogyny and homophobia there. "The pink locker room is a subtle way of painting the words 'sissy,' 'girlie man' . . . on the walls," Erin Buzuvis charges. She is suggesting that the locker room be redone, presumably in a more serious-minded and gender-neutral taupe, gunmetal or ochre....

"In this context, putting your opponent in a pink locker room is saying, 'You are weak like a girl,' or 'You are weak like a gay man,' " Buzuvis wrote in her blog....

You have to try awfully hard to take offense at what's implied in a color....

If you are not offended by Iowa's pink locker room, it may be because you recognize a joke, a tease, and a riff. You realize that contact with the dread color pink does not actually make a man weak, or a woman, either.
Okay, there's a lot going here, and I need to break it down into several points.

1. The fact that something is a joke doesn't mean it can't be offensive, and taking offense at something meant as a joke doesn't mean you don't get the joke. You can imagine a blatantly racist or sexist joke that is also hilarious that you would nevertheless know damn well not to tell. You'd never think saying "Hey, it's a joke" would get you out of trouble. And it shouldn't.

2. I'm sure Buzuvis understands the humor of the pink locker room. (I'd link to Buzuvis's blog, but she seems to have taken it down.) She's just offended by the University's engaging in humor that is widely perceived as making a connection between women and weakness. (I realize the original reason for pink is supposedly that it is a restful color, not that it is a girly color.)

3. The real question is what feminists ought to do about it. We could laugh along, ignore it, blog an objection once, write and complain about it a lot, or go all activist about it and demand that the University apologize and redecorate. There's a whole range of possible reactions.

Some people at Iowa seem to have decided to take the activist route:
''I want the locker room gone,'' law school professor Jill Gaulding told a university committee studying the athletic department's compliance with NCAA standards, including gender equity.
I wouldn't have picked this battle. The pink locker room is a long tradition -- a sports tradition, at a big sports school. Most people think it's funny and in good fun. Feminists have long had the problem of looking like they don't have a sense of humor. (I remember a Ms. Magazine story from the early 1970s on the subject. I remember it so vividly I can describe the cover. It had a picture of Wonder Woman and the lines: "Do you know feminists have no sense of humor?" and "No, but if you hum a few bars, I'll play along.") It doesn't help feminism to trigger the old prejudice that feminism is grim and puritanical.

It's one thing to lay out feminist critique on your blog. If you do, it's important to work out ways to be good at feminist blogging. That would include sharp-tongued humor, strong observation, and surprising insights, not platitudes and legalisms.

It's quite another thing to threaten to take away the things people love. Some things people love are worth destroying. The pink locker room isn't one of them.

UPDATE: Iowa lawprof Tung Yin wrote about the controvery a while back, here and here. Lots of heated comments over there too.

The Amba-Althouse dialogue about Barack Obama.

Yesterday, Ambivablog gushed over Barack Obama's written justification for voting against John Roberts. You know what I think about the Senators who voted no:
[In my front page persona] As to those 22 Democrats who voted no, they have openly embraced an ideological view of the Court from which they can never credibly step back. For them, appointing Supreme Court Justices is a processes of trying to lock outcomes in place, and we shouldn't believe them if in the future they try to say otherwise.

[In my comments persona] Roberts is ... stunningly, brilliantly qualified. You can't vote against what he is without permanently branding yourself an ideologue who does not respect judicial independence. I'm disgusted with all 22 of those characters. They have abused their constitutional power, and I won't forget it when they run for President.
Well, Amba had read all that too, yet somehow thought she could convince me to view Obama as distinctly different from those other no voters. She emailed me, and we had an exchange, which she's now rendered in dialogue form and set out in an update. It goes like this:
AG: Have you seen Sen. Obama's statement on why he voted against Roberts? Like you, I tarred him with the same brush the Democrat pack deserved, but after reading this statement I regret it.

AA: Nothing stood out to me in that other than that it was incredibly verbose. I can't tell from your post what exactly impressed you, and you cut and pasted so much of his windy prose.

AG: Chacun a son gout, I guess. . . . which is to say, I didn't find it so verbose. I might have edited it a little, maybe. His writing, and speechwriting, has always seemed to me to achieve clarity without sacrificing complexity. So that's just my taste in style -- I'm more verbose than you myself, right?

What impressed me about it was his civility and collegiality towards those with opposing views (rare enough among Dems). And though the concerns he expressed were the conventionally liberal ones, he's got a point about the company Roberts has kept and he's got a point about the minority of cases where there's inevitably more involved than judiciousness, and even more than ideology.

AA: To me, it doesn't matter what the written justifications his lawyers wrote out are. Those are not the actual reasons. As writing, it amounts to the same blather I heard throughout the hearings. In no way does he stand out in a special way. And the chances those are his words are close to zero.

It's written the way judicial decisions are written, saying what is appropriate, revealing nothing of what is inappropriate. I have to spend my life reading things like that. It comes across as entirely generic to me. I'm sure he has excellent lawyers and speechwriters working with him, setting up his career. They take the tone that it is advantageous to take. The bottom line for me is what it is for all of the no-voting Senators. There was no decent reason to oppose him.

AG: I'm surprised at the intensity of your venom. And from what I have heard of Obama from fellow Chicagoans who know him, he writes his own stuff.

AA: I'm supposed to believe political speeches at face value? I'm not venomous, just realistic.

AG: The "they" who are "setting up his career," then, are a lot smarter than the average Democrat's handlers, as they seek to put a moderate spin even on his liberalism, if you insist on seeing it all as spin. If that's the tone it's now advantageous to take, that's good news.

Maybe I'm terribly naïve in wanting at least a few politicians to be genuine and sincere. Lindsey Graham is the other one who gives me that, possibly false, impression. or do you think only Democrats are phonies?

AA: I think they all present a false surface, just like judicial opinions. It's my job to look through that and I've been practicing for a quarter of a century.

AG: [being more verbose, true to form] That may be true, but some ring falser than others. I don't know what the cues are, and it would be interesting to hear what an analyst of body language, vocal tone, and facial cues has to say, but a few politicians give an impression of being present and being themselves when they talk, which in turn suggests sincerity and integrity. Are they just the slickest, the best performers of the bunch? (Do they say "That ought to hold the little bastards" when they think the mike has been turned off?) Or is our innate ear for this too keen to fool? I don't know.

AA: Are you sure you're not a fan of the guy? I'm a fan of no politician. I'm sure plenty of them are decent enough as they ply their trade, and I'm willing to believe Obama is decent enough, but he's an ambitious man with a highly skilled staff.

AG: [red-faced] "Fan"? The word wouldn't have occurred to me in connection with politicians. I am guilty of getting my hopes up when somebody plays the game with a little more class and independence than usual. Both Graham and Obama have impressed me that way, so it's not about party or ideology, in fact it's about independence from slavish adherence to party or ideology (which can coexist with loyalty).
I'm sure all the politicians have some measure of individual character mixed in with their ideology and party loyalty and that the proportions vary from politician to politician. And I'm interested, to some extent, in trying to discern the proportions. I just find a press release or a speech written by someone on the staff to be very weak evidence. Even if the Senator wrote the material himself, on this occasion he's got a job to do, justifying what I regard as an unjustifiable vote. That can at most demonstrate lawyerly writing skills. Suffice it to say, there's a limit to how much that sort of thing can impress me.

The panda has "increased two Tupperware sizes."

How else would you measure your panda?

Professor Butz's beer mat.

I just learned another Britishism: "beer mat." Don't laugh: "coaster" makes a lot less sense. I was wondering if the British have to change the term depending on the drink. (Is there a "martini mat"?) But what's with "coaster"? We don't expect or even want the thing to help the glass go sliding about.

Anyway, this Professor Butz character has invented an elaborate electronic beer mat that sends out signals when the glass needs a refill. Presumably, some human somewhere gets the signal and responds. Of course, since you need a human being anyway, why not rely on that person's ability to see when glasses need refilling? Apparently, that deficiency in the invention has led to efforts at reconceptualization, and they are now blabbering about using the thing to cast votes in bar games. Too bad the glass is going to be on it though. The devices cost $100 to manufacture, but Professor Butz has visions of selling enough that he can get the cost down to $10. Good luck, Professor Butz!

Right wing Bob.

Right Wing Bob got a lot of traffic directed his way as a result of my hotly disputed assertion that "great artists are inherently right wing," and that made him want to give a precise explanation for the point of his site, which may appear to be devoted to the proposition that Bob Dylan is right wing. Officially, then, his site is devoted to:
(a) refuting the long-propagated notion that [Bob Dylan's] work (including the early part of it) belongs to the left, and

(b) making the case that conservatives can find much to cherish and little that attacks their own sensibilities in the work of this great American songwriter. And that is something to say, considering how rarely you could say it about other major pop-culture or rock’n'roll figures.
I haven't read enough of this blog to know, but that sounds as though the writer is a conservative and a longtime Dylan fan, who's probably heard a lot of people say things like "How can you like Dylan? He's a big lefty!" So he found himself wanting to make the argument that Dylan has something to offer righties and got into it enough to make it into a blog.

"A very fine choice."

Justice Stevens on John Roberts. But what's with the headline to this article? "Justice Stevens Stresses Growth on Court." Don't they check these things for double meanings?

September 30, 2005

Is there a squirrel in my house?

Okay, here's what's troubling me. Two days ago, I found a cracked open shell of an acorn on the carpet over near a wall. Is there any other explanation than that there is or was a squirrel in my house? I can't think of one, and I'm mildly terrified about the whole thing.

People are saying it's a big year for acorns, and you know I've been complaining about the noise they make hitting the roof at night. But that doesn't explain the broken shell getting into the house. And it wasn't just a crushed bit that could have come in on a shoe. It was a big, curved shell part, and, besides, we take our shoes off when we come in.

MORE: In the comments, people are giving me advice on how to trap a squirrel, but if there is an animal in my house, I'm calling the professional who solved the bats-in-the-attic problem a few years ago. My only question is, do I have a problem, not what to do about it.

So, is there a squirrel in my house? Why would a squirrel bring an acorn into my house and then eat it? The squirrels in my yard are running all over the place and burying lots of acorns. Why would one suddenly think eating one inside is a good idea?

Is it kind of like they way we humans go on picnics? We usually eat indoors, and then, on a lark, we say, why not eat outside for a change? So it's like a squirrel reverse-picnic. But you know I have trouble understanding even why humans picnic. Who am I to fathom the mind of the squirrel.

NOTE: There never actually was a squirrel in this house.

"There's loads of room for judgment. The judges do judge."

Justice Breyer talks to Nina Totenberg about his new book, "Active Liberty." Totenberg does a nice job of challenging him -- after he's emphasized the democratic process over constitutional limitations -- by citing laws against abortion and laws regulating homosexual behavior, which the majority tries to enact and the Court insists on striking down. Breyer responds, conceding, as he must, that it's not all about the majority, that there are also constitutional rights for individuals and minorities, and that the judge still must do the hard work of drawing the lines: "There's loads of room for judgment. The judges do judge."

He doesn't talk about it in the interview, but presumably in the book, he uses the principle of democracy to define the scope of countermajoritarian rights. That's the real test of his theory, and that's where all the problems arise.

"The Apprentice": Round 2.

After the second week of comparing Donald and Martha, what do you think? Last night, I took the pro-Donald position, pointing out perfect meld of dramatic photography, pounding music, and oppressive taskmaster. Chris said all those things have been the same for years and it's gotten old. He took the pro-Martha position. Donald's show had Lamborghinis. Martha's had flowers. Donald's was another ad campaign. Martha's was another sell-a-thon. Maybe it's all gotten old.

Both shows featured a wacky, hyper guy. In both cases, a more somber project manager got axed so the trickster could go on to make trouble another week. The format now relies on the Omarosas and Sams. Trump even made a lame reference to Omarosa on last night's show. Oooh, he said Omarosa! Maybe someone will behave badly tonight!

Is "The Apprentice" in its final phase, emphasizing jokers over competence?

Diversity Day: the elegiac mood dissolves into tears.

The Daily Cardinal -- a UW student newspaper -- reports:
The day-long event, which kicked off with speeches from Chancellor John Wiley and Provost Peter Spear, was intended to stimulate discussion of race issues on campus and promote a new campaign, entitled "Creating Community," a theme expected to be the centerpiece of Plan 2008 for the 2005-'06 school year.

Early in the day, enthusiasm for the new motif swelled, as each round table in the Great Hall filled with minority and white students and faculty. Later in the afternoon, however, the ranks diminished to around 50. The upbeat mood dissolved and the open-mic session took on an elegiac air as frustrated students and faculty lambasted the low attendance, perceived indifference of the campus and generally poor reputation of UW-Madison as a school friendly to minorities. Several speakers cried, and some angrily scorned Plan 2008's strategy, arguing there should be more concrete plans to diversify.
Crying over low attendance in the late afternoon? You had good attendance in the morning! How do you expect to come up with a plan to affect the decisions of real human beings when you have so little feeling for their humanity? Ordinary folks won't sit through a whole day of something like this. You're scolding them about that? I hope whoever makes the "more concrete plans" has more sense about why people do what they do.

September 29, 2005

Podcast time!

Time for the big podcast! Podcast #7, full of talk about bras and Right Wing Bob Dylan... and all my trials as I am dogged by lefty bloggers and commenters who think I've misdefined "right wing" and outrageously accused lefties of being irresponsible. The squid is there too and the sandcastles and John Roberts and the meat slurry and Anna Nicole Smith and, yeah, even Justice Scalia. You don't want to miss this podcast. This is by far the longest one -- over 53 minutes of rich podcasty goodness!

"I would not want to call down the wrath of Althouse."

Ramesh Ponnuru makes a play for a spot in the Althouse masthead.

Eight parts sand to one part water = "Maximum angle of stability of a wet granular pile."

Scientists discover the right proportion for making a sandcastle.

When the Court will "become unpoliticized," per Scalia.

Yesterday, Scalia and Breyer debated at Harvard Law School (via How Appealing). Much of it is more of the usual stuff about citing foreign law, but this is interesting:
During a question-and-answer session, one student asked the panel about the potential political pressures involved in the controversial Bush v. Gore case. Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz had suggested that he direct the question toward Scalia, he explained.

“He’s still mad at me, isn’t he?” Scalia retorted jokingly, before adding, more seriously, that he had not witnessed any justice take into account “political considerations” in deciding the case.

Breyer added that he had never seen any evidence of politics influencing a court decision. Even so, he said, ideological beliefs occasionally surface.

Scalia said that the politicization of the Supreme Court could be attributed to the emergence of a “judicial philosophy which says the Constitution is indeterminate.”

“It will become unpoliticized, as it relatively used to be, as soon as we go back to saying the Constitution means what it says, and it means what it meant when it was adopted,” he said.
Seems highly unlikely. By the way, Roberts -- the Chief Justice -- never embraced that view of the judicial role.


Great! Roberts is confirmed by a margin of 78 to 22. As to those 22 Democrats who voted no, they have openly embraced an ideological view of the Court from which they can never credibly step back. For them, appointing Supreme Court Justices is a process of trying to lock outcomes in place, and we shouldn't believe them if in the future they try to say otherwise.

UPDATE: Correction to the number made. And here's the list of the 22 Democrats:
Evan Bayh of Indiana
Joseph Biden of Delaware
Barbara Boxer of California
Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York
Jon Corzine of New Jersey
Mark Dayton of Minnesota
Dick Durbin of Illinois
Dianne Feinstein of California
Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts
John Kerry of Massachusetts
Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey
Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
Barack Obama of Illinois
Harry Reid of Nevada
Charles Schumer of New York
Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
Jack Reed of Rhode Island
Tom Harkin of Iowa
Daniel Inouye of Hawaii
Paul Sarbanes of Maryland
Maria Cantwell of Washington
Daniel Akaka of Hawaii

I hope no one on that list is running for President.

"Have you been given a gift, in a sense?"

So Harry Reid is asked in an NPR interview about who the next Supreme Court nominee ought to be. The gift in question is President Bush's low popularity numbers. Don't they give the Democrats more leverage? Reid astutely declines the bait. The low numbers represent sad problems that are "not a gift for anyone," he deftly says.

Reid refers to a list of names, which he's conveyed to the President, of persons who are unacceptable to the Democrats, whose nomination would be felt as "a poke in the eye with a sharp stick." That turns out to be another way of saying these are the nominees we would filibuster.

For some reason, he emphasizes that he wants a nominee who is more of a trial lawyer. He seems passionate faulting John Roberts for never having argued to a jury or taken a deposition. What's that about?

UPDATE: Well, Harry, I hope you like Harriet.

"Was I really in love or was I just pretending he was the man of my dreams?"

Nora Ephron is all out of love for Bill Clinton. It starts off with some good material about Clinton's betrayal of women and gay people but winds up as just a plea for Clinton to come out in opposition to the war.

Side note: I got to this NYT op-ed via the list of the 25 most emailed articles, which I was checking to see how the TimesSelect walled-off columnists were doing. As I've noted before, they used to dominate this list, holding most of the top spots. Today, there is only one column on the list, way down at #17. It's marked with the sad little orange TimesSelect logo, which I'm sure the Times hoped would be dotted all over this list, making readers think I've got to get TimesSelect. Oh, how I'd love to hear the screaming and crying that must be going on now amongst the star columnists! How they've been wronged! Well, it's true!

September 28, 2005

The Althouse comments persona.

Here at Althouse, there's the Althouse of the front page posts and the Althouse of the comments. Things are a little more experimental and brainstormy in the comments. I'm used to having my posts linked, but it's surprising to get something I toss out in the comments linked. Not that I think it's off limits. I like links!

Today, I risked saying this in the comments section of that Bob Dylan post:
To be a great artist is inherently right wing. A great artist like Dylan or Picasso may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but underneath, where it counts, there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that.
That got linked over at Volokh Conspiracy (from the elusive Juan Non-Volokh), which led to a link at Crooked Timber, and now people are talking about my comment in the comments at both places, saying things like:
"Jesus, what an absolute load of bollocks. Artists are (in)famously left wing. Reading Althouse and Reynolds is like stepping through the looking glass. They say the most inane things as if they are just God’s own truth."
"Are they actually insane? Has it come to this, that the insane now have tenured positions in law schools across the country? It’s clearly a product of wrongheaded liberal do-gooders in the 70s who made it harder to commit the delusional."
(I love the way Glenn Reynolds comes in for a gratuitous beating.)

Anyway, I was just trying on a little idea there in the back room, in honor of Right Wing Bob, giving you folks something to react to in the ranging conversation that is the comments page. So, react away. But try to focus on the actual point. I'm not saying great artists consciously adopt the agenda of the political right. I'm saying there is something right wing about the sort of mentality you have to adopt in order to be a great artist! Think it through people. Don't just blow a gasket!

UPDATE: Here's a comment that I'm going to leave over at Volokh in response to a commenter:
Dustin writes, "I feel somewhat disconnected from the discussion. How do 'left-wing' and 'right-wing', political classifications, apply to art and artists? Since 99% of artists who try to be 'political' an any which way, end up failing miserably and ebarassing [sic] themselves, I'm lincined [sic] to believe that good artists are neither left or right wing; and I don't mean that in a sesame street way."

You're asking a question that very nicely represents the way people keep misunderstanding my statement. I'm not saying that the great artist adopts a right wing political ideology. If fact, I agree with you that the great artist needs to separate himself from politics and certainly to get it out of his art. I'm saying there's something right wing about doing that. My comment arose in a discussion of the Scorsese documentary on Bob Dylan, which shows how he did not fit in with the left wing folksingers who tried very hard to keep him in their fold and felt betrayed when he alienated himself from them. My observation is that he was, at heart, a great artist, and it was not possible to do what was needed to be a good lefty, which would require a strong focus on group goals and communal values. He certainly wasn't switching to right wing politics. He was getting out of politics.

I'm calling that right wing. It's certainly antithetical to left wing politics, which requires you to remain engaged and would require the artist to include politics in his art. The great artist sees that those requirements will drag him down. That's what I'm theorizing. Feel free to debate that and reject it if you want. All I'd like to ask is that you get your mind around what I'm trying to say before reflexively rejecting it. I'm not surprised that lefty bloggers and commenters can't do this. They've got to enforce the kind of values that freaked Bob Dylan out and made him want to disengage from their clutches. And don't even get me started on my experience with lefty bloggers. They treat me miserably, and if I tried to get along with them, it would guarantee mediocrity. And thus, I am a right wing blogger – even though I don’t share many beliefs with right wing politicos.

Dare I drop it over at CT too?

UPDATE: I'm glad I've started a conversation. But why are the people on the other side of the conversation so boring? All they say is that I'm "stupid" or my comment is "nonsense." What I said is apparently interesting enough to respond to, but you don't say anything interesting in response. Say something about art! Say something new and unusual about why I'm so wrong! Dammit! I can see people are talking about me, and I go over to hear what they are saying, and it's a thuddingly dull remark.

"Does the NYT have an exit strategy?"

Asks Mickey Kaus about TimesSelect, which we're all assuming has failed to bring in much money, while disastrously cutting the readership of the NYT's top columnists. What do you do about all the people who paid $49.95 for the service?

It makes me think of Woodstock, where a lot of folks paid $17 for tickets and then had to endure hearing the concert declared free. They just got stuck having paid $17 extra dollars. Me, I didn't go with my friends to Woodstock, because I didn't have $17 to buy tickets, and I had to endure hearing that I could have gotten in free. But those are the breaks. The kids who went ahead and showed up without tickets made the right call. Deal with it!

So what can the Times do? Just restructure what the $49.95 bought. Make the website free again and turn the $49.95 into a different offer: more or longer access to the archives, or a $50 credit at the NYT Store, or a discount on home delivery. Give the chumps who fell for the deal a choice of something good enough that they won't opt for a refund.

"Extremely aggressive and just barely possible.”

Such was the design of the space shuttle, according to NASA chief Michael Griffin, who calls seems to consider the whole shuttle program a big mistake!
The shuttle has cost the lives of 14 astronauts since the first flight in 1982. Roger Pielke Jr., a space policy expert at the University of Colorado, estimates that NASA has spent about $150 billion on the program since its inception in 1971. The total cost of the space station by the time it's finished — in 2010 or later — may exceed $100 billion, though other nations will bear some of that.
That's just half a Katrina, so I don't have a problem with the money. The deaths are an obvious problem, but so is the sheer, clunky dullness of endlessly orbiting Earth. Can't we please go somewhere?

UPDATE: Edited for accuracy as noted. He's not so blunt.

"I dreamed I [?] in my Maidenform bra."

The greatest bra ad campaign of all time was the endlessly fascinating depiction of a woman out in the world doing something amazing, brazenly exposing her Maidenform bra. The absurd spectacle was justified by the notion that it was a dream -- a variation on all those dreams everyone's had where they are out and about naked. I remember seeing these ads when I was young and not quite understanding them. We kids just thought they were funny -- in 1962, we laughed at the Mad Magazine spoof -- but they were also early manifestations of feminism. You could be a powerful woman, out in the world and loving it. Structure your loosely hanging femininity with a quality foundation garment and go. Achieve your dreams.

What has that ad campaign become?
In one ad, a woman holds a baby, who, the implication is, she tried hard to conceive. The tagline: "Dreams do come true." Another shows a young couple on a beach, with the line, "I dreamed every day was Sunday." And some have a touch of the implied risqué - "Some dreams are best unspoken."
First thought: If you have a baby, you're not a "maiden." Maybe they should change the company name to "Matronform."

Second thought: I'm nostalgic for the vanguard feminism of the past! This ad campaign is reminding me of that story about women wanting to stay home with the kids that we were just talking about. Is this the spirit of the times? But, come on! What's the business sense of this? If I'm staying home with kids, that bra is coming off! A bra is for going out into the male-dominated world and achieving. As soon as you cross the home threshold, that bra is off. Right, ladies? What is the lag time for you between when you walk through the door and when you take off the bra? Five minutes, tops? Is it the first, second, or third thing you do when you come home?

Third thought: Maidenform really does make a great bra. You can waste your time trying on more expensive ones, but the Maidenform one will be better. And the new campaign seems to be about a much more comfortable bra, so maybe they are trying to reach the currently braless stay-at-homes.

UPDATE: Great discussion in the comments, including whether wearing a bra prevents or causes sagging and a Halloween costume idea. But I also wanted to update to say that I'm unhappy with the ad I've got pictured above (taken from the linked NYT article). It's clearly from the 1970s. I wish I had one of the older classic ads from the 50s and early 60s.

MORE: One of the commenters found this old ad:

Free speech and campaign finance.

Here is Linda Greenhouse's article on yesterday's cert grants in two campaign spending cases. She speculates that the Court might be ready to reconsider the key precedent, Buckley v. Valeo -- as it did not do a few years ago when it upheld the McCain-Feingold law, in a 5-4 case. Justice O'Connor contributed that fifth vote -- the others were Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer -- so expect to see the Senate Judiciary Committee to do some probing questions when Bush's next nominee shows up.

Greenhouse describes the key case, challeging state regulation:
The Vermont law was enacted in 1997 as a direct challenge to the Supreme Court's campaign finance precedents, or as Vermont's secretary of state, Deborah L. Markowitz, put it in an official memorandum, with the "express legislative goal of giving the Supreme Court an opportunity to re-evaluate its decision in Buckley v. Valeo."

While the law's strict contribution limits were notable, its main departure was in restricting campaign expenditures. Candidates for governor, for example, are limited to spending $300,000 in a two-year election cycle, regardless of whether the cycle includes a primary election.

In a 2-to-1 ruling last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which includes Vermont, endorsed the state's basic approach. It held that the state had correctly concluded that Buckley v. Valeo was not a complete prohibition on spending limits, but that such limits could be justified by rationales beyond the anticorruption rationale that the Supreme Court considered at the time.

These additional rationales included two that the appeals court panel's majority said were now "compelling": addressing the growing public cynicism about the impact of money on politics, and limiting the amount of time that candidates had to devote to raising money.

The appeals court then sent the case back to the federal district court in Vermont for a determination of whether in setting its spending limits, Vermont had chosen a sufficiently "narrowly tailored" means of achieving its valid objectives. In another portion of its ruling, the appeals court upheld the contribution limits.

The full appeals court then debated whether all 11 judges should rehear the case, and decided against rehearing by a vote of 6 to 5. The dissenters argued forcefully that no matter what state officials or lower court judges had to say, only the Supreme Court itself had the authority to cast Buckley v. Valeo in a new light.
This promises to be a very telling test of the new Court! It will be fun to see the defer-to-us routine the Judiciary Committee Democrats used against Roberts redone in the context where it entails minimizing Free Speech rights. That will be a little tricky, since the Democrats also like to project the image that they are the ones who really care about constitutional rights. Of course, Feingold himself will be on the Committee, and no one is better suited to articulating the tricky position than he is.

No more meat slurry for you.

Foods to be banned in British schools:
  • Burgers and sausages from 'meat slurry' and 'mechanically recovered meat'
  • Sweets including chewing gum, liquorice, mints, fruit pastilles, toffees and marsh mallows
  • Chocolates and chocolate biscuits
  • Snacks such as crisps, tortilla chips, salted nuts, onion rings and rice crackers
I love the Britishisms like "crisps" and "pastilles." And I see they call the cafeteria the "canteen." Nice to make two words out of "marshmallows," so it seem like a hazard spot in the game of Candyland.

It actually was "impossibly small."

The iPod Nano. Apple admits to the problem with the screen. But as to all the whining about scratching: deal with it. Why isn't my pristinely perfect possession pristinely perfect?

September 27, 2005

"The size of a bus, with vast eyes and a querulous beak."

At long last! A giant squid seen live for the first time.

If you have no feeling for how cool this is, please get Errol Morris's "Person to Person" and watch the episode "Eyeball to Eyeball" -- about Clyde Roper, a man who has devoted his life to the quest to become the first human being to see a live giant squid.

It wasn't Roper who saw the squid though. Poor guy.

UPDATE: More here. "The squid finally escaped but lost a tentacle."

A quick trip through prison.

For Lynndie England. At the sentencing:
In a calm, deliberate voice, England recounted how her relationship with Graner, 14 years her senior, developed as they prepared for deployment to Iraq with the 372nd Military Police Company in 2003.

"He was very charming, funny and at the time it looked to me like he was interested in the same things I was. ... He made me feel good about myself," she said. "I trusted him and I loved him. ... Now I know it was just an act to lure me in."
Well, you already know what I think about that.

"So what exactly did Scorsese do?"

I'm not quite getting all the fuss over the "No Direction Home" documentary about Bob Dylan. I had the same questions the reviewer in The Guardian had:
I think most people watching will assume that [the interview with Bob Dylan] is new, most probably with Scorsese himself asking the questions. Certainly there's nothing to suggest that it isn't. It turns out though, that this interview happened in 2000, and it was conducted by Jeff Rosen, Dylan's manager. ...

It seems strange that Scorsese apparently turned down the opportunity to speak more with Dylan, and instead ran with the old stuff from five years ago. So what exactly did Scorsese do? An (admittedly very beautiful) editing job? But then what did David Tedeschi, the editor, do? Was Scorsese principally just a name to use as ammunition in persuading people to surrender their archive material?
Now, I haven't watched the whole documentary yet. I've only watched the second half of the first half. But it seemed amazingly old fashioned to me. I'm not surprised it's on PBS. It looks quite PBS-y. And I'll admit to being bored by now with the basic Bob Dylan story -- you know, the one where the climax is that he goes electric and pisses off folksingers. I'd prefer something with a little more edge, like the old documentary "Don't Look Back" or the book "Positively 4th Street" or Dylan's own book "Chronicles." I really detested all the drawn out, reverent material about about the role of folksinging in politics. It just didn't bring out how phony that was for Dylan. The most authentic thing about him is the way he felt like a phony doing that -- as I see it. "Another Side of Bob Dylan" -- I love that album -- that meant the non-phony side, didn't it? ("Ah, but I was much older then. I'm younger than that now.")

I'll watch the whole thing and come back and admit it if I think this preliminary view is wrong. Feel free to argue with me in the comments.

Harriet Miers?

A new name surfaces in the O'Connor replacement talk:
Bush on Monday hinted he might choose a woman or minority member. But some outside advisers were intrigued by another part of Bush's reply. The president said he had interviewed and considered people from "all walks of life."

That raised speculation that Bush was actively considering people who were not on the bench -- such as Miers....

"It could be someone outside of the legal judicial field like a Larry Thompson, or it could be a senator," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a public interest legal group founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

Sekulow said he's heard Miers' name mentioned "fairly significantly" during the past two days. She doesn't have judicial experience, but she's a "well-respected lawyer-- someone the president trusts."

"I think Harriet could certainly be in the mix," he said....

Miers is leading the White House effort to help Bush choose nominees to the Supreme Court so naming her would follow a move Bush made in 2000 when he tapped the man leading his search committee for a running mate -- Dick Cheney.
The old Cheney maneuver!

Here's the White House press release from when she was elevated to the position vacated by Alberto Gonzales:
"Harriet Miers is a trusted adviser, on whom I have long relied for straightforward advice. Harriet has the keen judgment and discerning intellect necessary to be an outstanding Counsel. She is a talented lawyer whose great integrity, legal scholarship, and grace have long marked her as one of America's finest lawyers. I have deep respect for Harriet and look forward to her continued counsel in this new role," stated President Bush.

Ms. Miers currently serves as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff. Most recently, she served as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary. Prior to joining the White House staff, Ms. Miers was Co-Managing Partner at Locke Liddell & Sapp, LLP, where she helped manage an over 400-lawyer firm. Previously, she was President of Locke, Purnell, Rain & Harrell, where she worked for 26 years. In 1992, Ms. Miers became the first woman elected Texas State Bar President following her selection in 1985 as the first woman to become President of the Dallas Bar Association. She also served as a Member-At-Large on the Dallas City Council. Ms. Miers received her bachelor's degree and J.D. from Southern Methodist University.

UPDATE: For many more posts about Harriet Miers, go to the October 3 posts on blog.


New York Magazine has a big article about Conan O'Brien. (Via Throwing Things.) Here's my favorite paragraph (because it's the meanest):
O’Brien does have some sharp edges, mostly stemming from his differentiation between dumb people and smart people—he sneers at the writers from time to time and calls out to his assistant in a tone of voice that gave me chills (he makes free use of a button he can press on his desk to slam his door shut, too). Oh, the villainy! And he goes on and on about his own work ethic and has little respect for guests he deems not worthy of his show—his highest praise is calling them “likable.”

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional."

Ousted FEMA director Michael D. Brown testifies before a House panel today and lays the blame on the governor and the mayor:
Brown told the committee, FEMA's approach worked in Mississippi and Alabama, whose governors are both Republicans.

Of the disastrous flooding that stranded thousands for days in New Orleans, he said, "The only variable was the state government officials involved."

The way FEMA works with state officials in disasters is "well established and works well," Brown said in emphatic tones in his opening statement, pointing his finger and shaking a clenched hand at lawmakers. "Unfortunately, this is the approach that FEMA had great difficulty in getting established in Louisiana."

... "I very strongly, personally regret that I was unable to persuade Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together. . . . I just couldn't pull that off."

Anna Nicole Smith takes her case to the Supreme Court.

And they grant cert! I wonder if she will benefit -- as she tries to get to the fortune her very elderly husband left -- from the having her case heard by our rather elderly Justices.
At issue for the court is a relatively mundane technical issue: when federal courts may hear claims that are also involved state probate proceedings....

The appellate ruling that federal courts in California never had jurisdiction, erased a lower court finding that Smith was entitled to compensatory and punitive damages because Marshall's son tried to keep her from receiving money from his father's estate.

The Supreme Court filings included only a hint of the nastiness and sleaze from the family fight. The dispute has involved a "a bizarre set of events," justices were told in a filing by G. Eric Brunstad Jr., a Yale Law School professor who represents Marshall's son.

Smith, whose real name is Vickie Lynn Marshall, had received more than $6 million in gifts from her late husband, but was not included in his will, justices were told.

Brunstad said that Smith began her legal fight for her husband's money even before his death.

Smith's attorney, Kent Richland, told justices that Marshall's son "devotes nearly half his brief to manipulating the record to cast (Vickie) in a bad light." Richland said that J. Howard Marshall intended to provide for his wife throughout her life.

"His efforts failed, however, because -- as both lower courts found -- Pierce suppressed or destroyed the trust instrument and stripped Howard of all his assets before his death," Richland wrote.
Two jurisidiction posts in a row for me. Did you know the topic could be so entrancing?! Or is it just me, doing my usual thing of getting excited about jurisdiction when everyone around me thinks it's mind-numbingly dull?

UPDATE: I gave "The Daily Show" another chance last night and was quite amused to see Jon Stewart run with the idea that the old Justices took the case because ,like the ancient guy Vickie married, they really liked her.

Jurisdictional metaphors.

I don't know if you follow the jurisdiction cases, but I sure do. It is an area of judicial opinion-writing where metaphors abound. The favorite metaphor is the "courthouse door." It's very hard, apparently, to discuss a court's power to hear a particular case without talking about the door. In a recent case (about the scope of federal question jurisdiction), Justice Souter ran with the metaphor:
The Court [in Merrell Dow] saw the missing cause of action not as a missing federal door key, always required, but as a missing welcome mat, required in the circumstances, when exercising federal jurisdiction over a state misbranding action would have attracted a horde of original filings and removal cases raising other state claims with embedded federal issues....

Expressing concern over the "increased volume of federal litigation," and noting the importance of adhering to "legislative intent," Merrell Dow thought it improbable that the Congress, having made no provision for a federal cause of action, would have meant to welcome any state-law tort case implicating federal law "solely because the violation of the federal statute is said to [create] a rebuttable presumption [of negligence] ... under state law." 478 U. S., at 811-812 (internal quotation marks omitted). In this situation, no welcome mat meant keep out.
I don't know if I like the whole welcome mat/door key addition to the usual door metaphor in jurisdiction, since courthouse doors never have welcome mats and litigants don't need keys to get in the courthouse door.

Maybe try something with a metal detector next time.

Correcting the gender imbalance problem.

Yesterday, I linked to Richard Posner's discussion about the perceived problem of women in professional schools who say they plan to stay home full-time when their children are born. Though he did not suggest that schools should give preferences to men, some of what he said about women failing to fulfill expectations seemed to me as though it would encourage others to want to discriminate. In an update to my post, I worried about what is much more likely to cause schools to lead to affirmative action for males: the simple gender imbalance that has resulted from fewer males choosing to pursue higher education.

I detest the idea of giving preference to men to correct the imbalance, so I was glad to see this from Glenn Reynolds, saying that schools ought to look at themselves and ask: What are we doing to make men feel that they don't belong here?
There seems little doubt that universities have become less male-friendly in recent decades, to the point of being downright unfriendly in many cases. The kind of statements that are routinely made about males and masculinity in classrooms and hallways would get professors fired if they were made about blacks, gays, or many other groups.
It's assumed that males can take it, and that it's not the same thing when you're knocking the traditionally advantaged group. But whether you think that's true or not, if the gender imbalance is the school's own problem, it's bad strategy. So you could have a lot of sensitivity training and open men's centers on campus and so on. That will be extremely hard to do well. We're used to reaching out to those we've seen as disadvantaged. It will seem awkward and insincere to reach out to males in the same way. But at the very least, we can commit ourselves to ending the hostility to males, which has always been inappropriate anyway.

Reynolds entertains the notion that the real problem might be that too many women pursue higher education. Maybe too many people go to college, but more men are able to opt out because they can find better jobs without college than women can. Arguably, both males and females are behaving rationally, under the circumstances. Some of these circumstances are caused by discrimination against women in the traditional workplace. Credentialing is more important for us. Some of it is the physical difference between women and men, on the average, which makes it harder for us to get or want jobs requiring physical strength. But I'm sure some of it has to do with different preferences: more women are interested in studying and in pursuing the kind of work -- like law -- that in many ways resembles studying.

If that is so, why not let things take their natural course? Would it be a problem if, some day, 80% of law students were women? It would certainly be a social problem at the schools for many students, and the schools would suffer if students chose to go elsewhere to avoid skewing. Maybe a real tipping point would be reached if the ratio got as far off as 60/40. There's also the social problem outside of schools, as highly educated women have difficulty finding suitable partners.

We seem to be headed inexorably into affirmative action for men, which will go on with no end in sight.

UPDATE: Cathy Young, who's participating in the comments here, has a very informative post.

September 26, 2005

New podcast.

It's longer -- 46 minutes -- and meaner. Here.

"Lessons from the Past."

In the email just now:

2005 Kastenmeier Lecture
and the
Wisconsin Union Directorate Distinguished Lecture Series


The Iraq War: Lessons from the Past
Senator George McGovern

7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 14, 2005

UW Memorial Union

Union Theater
800 Langdon Street
Madison, Wisconsin

"Mughal emperor Shahjahan's unfulfilled last wish of building a black Taj Mahal facing the white one at Agra has come true."

In black sand. (No photo yet!)

"She was a follower, she was an individual who was smitten with Graner.... She just did whatever he wanted her to do."

Said the lawyer for Lynndie England. Duly noted, and duly convicted. All you "overly compliant" folks out there: heads up. You actually are expected to take responsibility for yourself.

Looking for "Creeole Ladde."

A couple weeks ago, we were talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, here, and a reader who called himself herself "Creeole Ladde" wrote:
Let's not be blind to the continued stratification of people of Louisiana. Why was I not swimming with the masses...because my European ancestry allowed my father to move to California and get a job that payed enough to send me to private school, which allowed me to become well educated. However, I do not disregard my African ancestry. People of mixed backgrounds such as Louisiana Creoles of color, but that is not to say it may not be available to all. It's a Creole thing. You have to be one to perhaps understand.
Now, I've received an inquiry from a reporter for a large news organization who is "writing about this stratification – trying to get a handle on how this will change or not change as New Orleans is rebuilt." If you are "Creeole Ladde" and would be willing to correspond with the reporter, please email me. (My email address is the name of this blog followed by @wisc.edu.)

Anticipating the next nomination.

The Senate vote on John Roberts is scheduled for this Thursday. I wonder how soon thereafter Bush will announce the new nomination. Immediately, I hope.

Bork yuk.

Rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork tells a joke about Alberto Gonzales and makes an observation about his own immortality.


Got a problem with the mascot?

After four years of debate, Edgewood High School decides to keep the mascot.

"Were admission to [professional] schools based on a prediction of the social value of the education offered, fewer women would be admitted."

Judge Posner blogs about that NYT article "Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood" (which we talked about a lot here last week). Posner:
The principal effect of professional education of women who are not going to have full working careers is to reduce the contribution of professional schools to the output of professional services. Not that the professional education the women who drop out of the workforce receive is worthless; if it were, such women would not enroll. Whether the benefit these women derive consists of satisfying their intellectual curiosity, reducing marital search costs, obtaining an expected income from part-time work, or obtaining a hedge against divorce or other economic misfortune, it will be on average a smaller benefit than the person (usually a man) whose place she took who would have a full working career would obtain from the same education.
Read the whole thing before getting completely steamed at Posner. He's got an elaborate incentive scheme that avoids sex discrimination. The words "raise tuition" jumped out at me.

UPDATE: I think there is strong pressure on law schools to maintain an even balance of male and female students. It is because of this, not worries about full-time motherhood, that new preferences for males are likely to creep into the process.

Curbing my enthusiasm.

Did you watch the premiere of the new season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"? It got off to a fine start. (Any scene with Shelley Berman ascends to a new level of greatness. My all-time favorite scene on the show was the old one where Berman kept beating around the bush, not wanting to reveal to Larry that his (Larry's) mother had died. "She didn't want to bother you. You were busy.")

I loved all the stuff last night about the Larry David sandwich. They put a lot of thought into concocting a really terrible sandwich. Two kinds of fish and cream cheese -- and capers! ("Sable? What's sable?") And that sandwich is interwoven with the unsandwich-y them of getting religion. (Or is religion like a sandwich? I'll bet some boring minister has built a sermon on that trope.)

But then I decided to reposition myself on a more comfortable piece of furniture and fell asleep for part of it. I'll have to catch it again on HBO on Demand.

There was also "Extras," which I was looking forward to seeing, but I only managed to catch a few snippets as I intermittently resurfaced from the grip of sleep. Sleep and I were like the ocean and Larry David in that first scene of "The Larry David Sandwich."

The end of the early post-Katrina period.

We're in the middle post-Katrina period now -- aren't we? -- where fear of greed and corruption have replaced our initial love and generosity. And rightly so. Our instant readiness to spend seeemingly any amount of money naturally activated people to do what they can to get the money to flow in their direction. It's not unlike the the way the flood itself set off looting. There is just far more money at stake, and it's harder to catch people taking advantage of the situation on camera.

Breyer's book.

Adam Cohen writes about Justice Breyer in the NYT:
In law school, I took a yearlong administrative law course from Stephen Breyer.... At the end of every class, we made a point of checking how much chalk there was on his suit, since he tended to back into the blackboard in his excitement over topics like "agency nonacquiescence."
That's especially funny to a lawprof, because most of us spend our classroom hours getting far more excited about the topic under discussion than it would make any sense for a normal young person to feel.

Anyway, Justice Breyer has a new book, "Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution." I don't know about you, but I always balk at reading a book written by a Supreme Court Justice. They already hog such a large proportion of my reading time with their grossly bloated opinions. And now they want to claim even more of my time? (Though I'd love to read their blogs!)

Well, Breyer is writing to push back at Justice Scalia, who's successfully used book-writing to raise his profile as a Justice with a theory of interpretation, "original meaning." (Though he hasn't raised it high enough for the NYT to get it right. They call it "the 'original intent' of the founders," which is what Scalia takes pains to distinguish it from.)

Breyer calls his book "Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution."
"Active liberty," according to Justice Breyer, is the ability of ordinary citizens to play a role in government decisions. As he sees it, the Constitution's drafters were most interested in creating a government that remained under the control of, as the first three words of the document say, "We the People."
Shouldn't that be: under the control of Us the People? (I'm sorry. That's my pet peeve about constitutional pontificators: throwing "We the People" around without noticing when you're using it as the object and not the subject of your sentence.)
Originalists like Justice Scalia see the Constitution as a set of rights and rules that were frozen in time when they were written. Justice Breyer argues that the better What-would-the-founders-do? approach is to interpret the Constitution in ways that promote its essential purpose: helping citizens get the knowledge and power they need to influence government policies on important issues.
Cohen informs us that Breyer demonstrates that his "active liberty" interpretive methodology supports various postions Breyer has taken on the Court: affirmative action doesn't violate Equal Protection; campaign finance regulation doesn't violate Free Speech. It's useful for a judge to fit his opinions into a framework. I'm glad there's a book from Breyer to set alongside Scalia's book. But I've read the opinions, and I expect the Justices to be able to make the argument that all that they've done is coherent.

If I want to spend more time thinking about how Breyer (or any other Supreme Court Justice) interprets the Constitution, it will be to discover for myself the ways in which the diverse opinions don't fit together.

IN THE COMMENTS: The question is raised: Which Supreme Court Justice would make the best blogger? I think it would depend on whether they were blogging openly in their own name, like Judge Posner, or running with an "Anonymous Supreme Court Justice" concept. It's pretty clear Scalia would be the best at blogging in his own name, but how could we know who has an inner blogger persona waiting to break free? I'd guess Clarence Thomas. Now, I realize the "Anonymous Supreme Court Justice" wouldn't work well enough to provide cover. What I suggest is that the Justice blog in the guise of an anonymous Supreme Court law clerk. It would be similar to the way Justice Stewart flew under the radar as a source for "The Brethren."

September 25, 2005

"Cuisine is sacrifice. There may be joy but there is also pain."

Writes the sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann, (via A&L Daily):
"I work in the ordinary and the banal," Kaufmann says. "It interests me and it interests more and more readers." He had thought that mealtimes would provide a droll light subject but found it complex and grave instead.

The complexity lies in the fact that French housewives dream that cooking will bring them happiness and love.... There may be a bit of narcissism there, notes Kaufmann, who adds that cooking is not all virtue and grace....

There has ... been a revolution in French eating habits.... A recipe is no longer a guide for beginners, Kaufmann says, "but an instrument to perform an existential rupture." Nothing in family cooking is anodyne, he writes at least twice, and the seemingly modest phrase "Oh, it's just something simple" merits detailed deconstruction.
What is more risky: cooking for others or allowing someone to cook for you? No wonder we prefer to nourish ourselves with casual snacks and fast food.

Frida Kahlo, whose female fans have the "washed-out, slightly embittered look of British women novelists."

Or so says Anthony Daniels, in The New Criterion (via A&L Daily):
[T]here is something unhealthy, of equal intensity, about the disproportionate adulation that Frida Kahlo has received over the last two or three decades. I think that what has happened is that people with no objective right to do so have equated her suffering with their own, and have appropriated her work as a symbolic representation of their own minor dissatisfactions and frustrations, victimhood being the present equivalent of beatitude.

They say, “I too have known a faithless or a worthless man; I too have suffered from persistent headaches, dymenorrhoea, or sciatica; therefore, Frida Kahlo has understood me, and I have understood Frida Kahlo. After all, I have suffered just like her. Moreover, like me, she was a moral person, which is to say that she had all the right attitudes; she was on the side of the oppressed, at least those who were not in the Gulag; she loved indigenes as a matter of principle; and she took part in the holy work of dissolving boundaries, the boundaries between sexes (or rather, genders) and between cultures.”
The critic likes the artist well enough. He's just repulsed by her fans. But are we not a little repulsed at how invasively he projects himself into the thoughts of the women in the museum whose looks he doesn't like?

And Eddie Izzard will play Mr. Kite.

In a movie called "Across the Universe":
It is a romantic musical, told mainly through Beatles songs, in which a young man from Liverpool comes to America during the Vietnam War to find his father, ending up in Greenwich Village.
I adore Eddie Izzard. Bono's in the movie too. It's directed by Julie Taymor, who did some pretty cool things bringing the story of Frida Kahlo to the screen. So even if you're skeptical of efforts to make productions out of Beatles songs -- based on things like this and this -- you can hold out some hope that this will be worthwhile.

Can I show you my baby pictures?



Thanks to John (in the top picture) for scanning and uploading this nice set of photos, mostly taken by me, from 22 years ago. I like this one too -- just hanging out in the backyard of our brownstone apartment in Park Slope:



Last night, as the crowd from the early evening showing of "The 40 Year Old Virgin" emptied out, one man took a turn away from the direction of the exits and walked to the end of a hallway to stand in front of a poster for the movie "Doom." He lifted his hands, as if in praise, and, in a deep voice, proclaimed "Doom!" Had he learned nothing from the movie he'd just seen?

One Friedmanism too many.

"The tectonic plates of politics in this country have all shifted," said Thomas Friedman on "Meet the Press" today, causing me to impulsively flick off the TV. He'd just gotten done saying "[9/11] put the wind at [the President's] back. And Katrina brought that to an end. It put the wind in his face." I wish I could come up with an Earth Science metaphor for my reaction.

Nina's take on the movie, with photo.

Here I am at the pre-movie dinner:

Althouse at Japanese Restaurant

Nina describes the movie here, linking my post from earlier today, and calls me out on two things that I have to defend myself against in her comments.

A blogger's work is never done!

Football mysteries.

I know I'm out of the loop, but I'd like to find out if the Badgers won last night's game. I got caught in the stadium traffic last night, but, as usual, I couldn't tell from looking at the people walking away from the game whether the team had won or lost. Now, I'm checking the local paper, and I can't tell from reading the article whether we won! Oh, wait, there's the phrase "winning drive" in the second to the last sentence in the article. Well, okay then! Here's the article in the other local paper, and I see it was one of the biggest wins for the team ever.
"I think that was probably the most unbelievable atmosphere I've ever been in in my life," Stocco said. "The fans are unbelievable. I couldn't believe how loud it was."
Strange. Can anyone tell me why there is zero celebratory attitude visible on the folks on the streets around the stadium? Is the midwestern demeanor really so restrained? There was nary a woo-hoo. And yet somehow we are the #1 party school in the country. After 20 years, there are things about Wisconsin I cannot fathom.

Strange Google search...

That brought someone here.

UPDATE: And then there's this.

"What? She's having sex? Bloody Luddite.'"

According to this article, lots of women who could get pregnant the old-fashioned way, are going to doctors for in vitro fertilization:
Many fertility experts believe that IVF offers women the best chance of pregnancy - a one in three chance of success or better in one cycle if the woman is under 35, whereas natural conception has no better than a one in four chance for a woman of the same age even if a couple have an active sex life.

An active sex life aimed at pregnancy is considered to be unprotected sex at least once every three days....

Michael Dooley, a gynaecologist, obstetrician and fertility expert, said that in the past five years he has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of patients seeking "inappropriate or premature" IVF treatment.

"Many of these couples are simply not having sex or not having enough sex," he said. "Conception has become medicalised. It's too clinical. There has been a trend away from having sex and loving relationships towards medicalised conception."...

Emma Cannon, who runs the fertility programme at Westover House, said: "I have patients who diary sex in. When the they don't fall pregnant they panic and think they need IVF.

"People want everything now. If they can't have a baby now, they want IVF. They think it's no different from putting your name down for a handbag. Some people are horrified by the idea that they have to have sex two to three times a week. About 10 per cent of people I see don't have time to have sex. It's usually when you have two professionals who are based in the city and are very busy.

"Mothers might be working or their children sleep in their bed. I told one of my patients who is going through IVF that another IVF patient had just conceived naturally. She said: 'What? She's having sex? Bloody Luddite'."
As you can tell from the spelling (or if you went to the link), the news comes from England. Though the article plays up weird-sounding anti-sex attitudes, I think the phenomenon has more to do with anticipating fertility problems and worrying about confirming the problem after it is too late to get the government to pay for the treatment (which costs at least £2,500):
Government guidelines on when women should receive treatment (on the NHS) say IVF should be given only to those aged between 23 and 39 who have an identified cause for the fertility problem or who have suffered unexplained fertility problems for at least three years."
So I tend to think the quote I put in the title is entirely a joke, and it's really all about money.

Movie with a religion-sized hole in it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie "The 40 Year Old Virgin," and this comment should not in any way be taken to mean I think it should have been changed in the slightest. It was a perfectly done contemporary Hollywood comedy. I just want to say that the Steve Carell character Andy really did represent a very religious man who was saving himself for marriage. Not even the slightest reference to religion is ever made in the movie, but his behavior -- which included rejecting pornography and masturbation -- could only be explained, in an actual human being, by extremely conservative religious scruple. I note that he lived in an apartment full of science fiction action figures, which he intensely revered, and contend that these figures stood in for the Virgin Mary.

The movie is full of hilarious sexual things that will appeal to a broad, youthful audience, but I think it also exists to confirm the values of persons who, on moral grounds, resist sex outside of marriage.