April 29, 2006

Garden shadows.

In the Boston Public Garden today, the brilliant sun made lusciously dark shadows:







God bless the man...

... who chaperoned a gaggle of teenagers in Boston's Public Garden today and wore an utterly self-abnegating sweater, so that the kids who seemed only to disrespect him would be able to find him easily in case they got a little lost.

Man in a ridiculous sweater

All the bad things you thought you might one day read had happened to Keith Richards...

Was falling out of a tree even on the list?

"The Star-Spangled Banner"/"Nuestro Himno."

Is it wrong to sing the national anthem in Spanish? (Listen to it here.) When President Bush says "I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English," is he saying that it's wrong to have a Spanish language version?
Mr. Bush has tried to occupy a middle ground in the raging debate over immigration, supporting legislation that would grant immigrant workers temporary legal status and perhaps a path to citizenship, while pushing for immigrants to learn English also pressing for more steps to stop the flow of newcomers over the border. But his statement about the anthem was taken by members of both parties as a clear signal to conservatives that he stood with them on what many of them see as a clash between national identity and multiculturalism.
The middle ground is awfully hard to occupy!

I can't translate the Spanish words back into English to see the ways in which the meaning has been altered. But I can translate Bush-speak into plainer English for the purpose of fending off those Bush haters and Bush lovers who are reading more than they need to into his words.

He's said that people who want to be citizens should learn English, and to say that is not to say that they shouldn't also speak Spanish, just that wanting to be a part of the country should include wanting to be able to interact with the people here who do speak English. And he's saying that people who want to be citizens should want to learn to sing the anthem along with the rest of us, as we've sung it since it was written, in English. That doesn't mean you can't also sing it in Spanish.

Are we so partisan that we can't hear a moderate statement anymore?

In France, in a city I've never heard of, looking for an internet connection.

Nina's off on her long European trip, and the first stop is Apremont, because when you think of trekking to Europe, you think of Apremont, right? She's taking lots of beautiful pictures, and diligently seeking out an internet connection in places that -- judging by the photos -- look as though they don't even have telephones.

Meanwhile -- let's check in with all the Madison bloggers, while I'm far afield myself.

Tonya's reminiscing on the occasion of her sister's birthday, in a post that has a cool picture of her sleekly stylish family, posing back in 1970. I especially love Mother-of-Tonya's dress (and hairdo).

Oscar's doing a panel on blogging at the Journalism School:
[T]he J-school's first choice was the splendid and brilliant Ann Althouse, but she was unavailable.
I had to blab about blogging elsewhere.
The first thing I noticed as the panelists took their seats was that we were six white guys between thirty and fifty. Six married white guys. From my seat on one end of the dais, I looked to my right and caught an excellent "I wish had my camera" visual of five left hands resting in a neat row on the table, each sporting a wedding ring. From now on, if the topic is blog-related, I'm just going to take the damn photo and say "it's for my blog!"

The second thing I noticed was that the other five panelists were all professional print or broadcast journalists who seemed to believe that there are only two kinds of blogs: those that function as news clipping services -- essentially filtering and linking to useful news items that may not make the final edition of their paper or news show -- and those for people who want to post pictures of their babies.

I was dumbstruck, and kept thinking "man, if Althouse were here, she'd be ripping these guys a new one!"
Tee hee. Read the whole thing. There's lots more, and it's not all about me. But, as you go through your days, keep in mind the handy phrase: "man, if Althouse were here, she'd be ripping these guys a new one!"

Gordon's blogging the cheese we had for dinner. The cheese posed elegantly for a photo I was sharp enough to snap. Gordon's also got some pictures of the conference participants at dinner, and notes that it was hard to get good pictures in the room where the event was held. [CORRECTION: Christine Hurt took the pictures.] Yeah, I know. They had the blinds down so the big screen would have some clarity. At the end of the day, they opened the many huge blinds that had seemed like just part of the wall. Here were dozens of big windows. The room was transformed, beautiful. It made me sad that we had been oppressed by lack of shining window beauty all that day -- all for PowerPoint, damn it! I do have a kind of cool photo of Eugene Volokh speaking -- he's very animated, even when he's just eagerly awaiting his turn to talk -- but all three profs in the picture look angry, so I'm not going to post it. I find the picture amusing, but I'm not positive they would, so.... the nice side of Althouse prevails this time.

Does Jeremy count as a Madison blogger? Having given him too much trouble last week, I'll just say, here's his blog, it's the original model for the Madison blog. You should check it out every day. Jeremy's the best sociologist in the world.

April 28, 2006

Photography in buildings.

Kristian Knutsen writes about the difficult distinctions between bloggers and traditional press when it comes to taking photographs inside a public building. At issue are the photos taken on the opening day of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCa). The photos I took, blogged here, are part of the controversy. But -- as the article notes -- I asked if photography was permitted as I entered and was told yes. Now, the museum authorities are expressing concern about this photography.

Ironically, I gave them a lot of free publicity, better -- I think -- than advertisements they might shell out a lot of money for. I'm also quoted in the article saying that I think the rights of the artists need to be protected. Myself, I avoided closely picturing any artwork out of respect for the artists' rights. And I think it's important not to interfere with the aesthetic experience of museum-goers. Turning off the flash is an absolute minimum, and standing back and not intruding is a matter of basic respect for others.

As for architecture, however, I think you've got to be allowed to photograph buildings. The building authorities are now fretting about "professional photography," and saying it's different from photography "for personal use." Clearly, they haven't really grasped what photography has become in the age of Flickr. What does it mean anymore to speak of photography "for personal use"? Ordinary people upload their digital files. How repressive do public authorities really want to be about that?

Live-blogging the Bloggership conference!

I'm here, in the nerdy front row, and I'll be live-blogging all day.

Here's the link if you want to listen. No video, so you'll just have to picture a bunch of lawproffy types in a cavernous auditorium at Harvard Law School.

Next to me is Randy Barnett, who's reading my blogging on his Palm Treo 650, showing me that he's reading it, taking a picture of me blogging, and emailing me the picture to blog. Is that self-referential enough for you? It's really, really bloggy. And we're just getting started.

The photo:


Don't you love technology?

Gordon Smith is nudging me and saying pay attention. Good point! Live-blogging should entail paying attention. Paul Caron is talking. And Gordon is also live-blogging. Do we care about what the speaker is saying or what the bloggers in the audience are blogging about it and linking to each other and blogging about the blogging?

9:13: Here's the agenda, listing the times of the speakers. Paul Caron is doing the introduction, assembling a lot of statistics about blogging and scholarship. Paul used a lot of PowerPoint slides. There's a huge screen, and I haven't got slides myself. Now Doug Berman is speaking, and he's just displaying his blog on the big screen. So I guess I'll end up putting mine up too and that will mean this very post will be up on the screen. Should lawprofs be blogging?, Doug Berman asks. Hey, Randy's commenting on this post, I just noticed, causing him to turn that Treo thing away. I have to read it the tech way, after he posts it here.

9:22: Here's Gordon's live-blogging post. He notes the many empty seats in the room, so we big bloggers aren't such a huge draw. Somehow, I think the students are probably sleeping at this hour. Or are they studying or taking exams? Is anyone listening to the live feed? Gordon is putting together his PowerPoint slides, Googling for a picture for "network."

9:27: Berman rejects the notion that lawprof blogs are like listening in on a faculty lounge conversation. "It's not as robust and engaged as the law professor blogosphere is." I'm trying to think if things in Lubar Lounge are "robust and engaged." Randy tells me he can't post his comment because he doesn't have a Blogger account. Email it to me:
It is divine to be seated next to Ms. Althouse watching her at work . . . I mean at play. Maybe she will let me borrow her PC so I can post a link on the Volokh Conspiracy to her blogging here. I have not yet installed a blogging client on my Treo 650.
He used the Althouse code word "divine," but he called my PowerBook a "PC."

9:37: Larry Solum says blogs aren't changing anything about legal scholarship but are manifestations of other changes. He loves very long law review articles, but concedes that no one reads them. Yes, it's a funny thing about blogging: it's read. You have these elaborately written things that aren't read, and then everyone thinks of blogging as just thrown together. But short posts can be carefully written, and they can embody ideas that you have thought through in more formal scholarship. Larry's saying that short form "disintermediated" writing is a trend, and not just in blogging. He'd like to see a Wiki law encyclopedia.

9:47: Kate Litvak, commenting on the laptops in the audience, says she's going to ban computers in the classroom. Is she trying to tell me to to close the laptop? She's the panelist who doesn't have a blog.

10:05: Paul Butler starts the commentary on the articles, which he finds insufficiently excited about blogging. He says: "The blog is walking up to legal scholarship and slapping it in the face."

10:10: Butler asks, "What if law review articles had Site Meters?"

Eric Muller blogs a contribution to the scholarship and blogging conversation.

10:17: Jim Lindgren: "Why do you want to know if it's scholarship or not?"

10:35: Ellen Podgor says that before she started blogging -- at White Collar Crime Prof Blog -- she had never been quoted in the Wall Street Journal. She teaches at Stetson, note well. The reporters used to call lawprofs based on their law schools. Blogging can shake up the hierarchy and give different people a chance to be heard.

11:10: Gail Heriot says blogging is fun and lawprofs can do whatever we want. That's stating the problem plainly! "The legal academy has turned inward on itself," she says, describing what legal scholarship has become. It doesn't speak to lawyers and judges. Blogging lets the lawprof get back in connection with the practical legal world, to influence people on the issues of the day.

11:22: The audience has gotten a lot bigger since the break. I wonder if people in the room are reading my simulblogging. Leave a comment! Or are you going to tell me you can't register with Blogger? Email me, then (my last name, followed by @wisc.edu).

11:26: Orin Kerr starts off funny. He uses the computer on the lectern to check his Site Meter statistics. He's all, "Hold on just a sec..." Then he pretends he's accidentally brought his old notes from a 1999 conference called "Listservship: How Email Is Changing Legal Scholarship).

11:35: Orin ends by saying that if anyone is live-blogging the conference, we should say that he got thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Now, Gordon is up and he starts by displaying this post of mine, photo and all. He calls attention to the part about how he's putting together his PowerPoint slides, and then that's his intro into his PowerPoint presentation.

11:45: Gordon does care about whether blogging is considered scholarship, because he wants to legitimate what he's doing. Randy Barnett is next, and he frets about the "flight from scholarship," which has long been the "dirty little secret" of lawprofdom. "It's a syndrome," one symptom of which is saying nobody reads legal scholarship, and it doesn't matter. "I should also mention that a lot of law professors don't like teaching. Or serving on committees." Lots of lawprofs are looking for "something else." And along comes blogging, and the self-justifications of the lawprofs who get into it.

Bloggership Conference

12:00: Michael Froomkin mentions classroom blogs. He suggests that lawprofs write 1 or 2 page posts reviewing long-form scholarship.

12:10. Question time. They've got a microphone now. The first question is about the "performative" nature of blogging, meaning that bloggers are performing for an audience.

2:00. Back from lunch, and now Glenn Reynolds is video-ing in his talk. He did not -- as I thought he might -- laugh at us for going to the conference, us low-tech losers. Walking to lunch, we were talking about the coming video'd-in performance, and Randy Barnett commented on how Glenn was going to be a 12 foot head on the screen, then said that Glenn Reynolds actually was a 12 foot head, which is why he couldn't appear in person. Waiting for the talk to start, Jim Lindgren compared him to Orson on "Mork and Mindy." Glenn compared himself to some other pop culture character on a screen, but I've forgotten which one. Anyway, Glenn's talking about why there are so few libel suits against bloggers. Answer: Bloggers are unlikely to commit libel. They're big on support, and their mistakes get pointed out and corrected quickly. Also, bloggers are less trusted so the crap they (we) say causes less harm.

2:15: Eugene Volokh is talking about blogging and liability. Lots of detail: listen to the podcast. Should bloggers get worse treatment than traditional journalists? That's just one of many things he covered.

2:30: Eric Goldman has a very specific topic: group blogging activities. Being a solo blogger, I guess I don't have to worry about these problems... unless you commenters are causing problems.

2:38: Jim Lindgren types with one finger. You rarely see that anymore.

2:50: Betsy Malloy is talking about anonymous bloggers and what rights they have to preserve their privacy.

2:55: Daniel Solove is comparing Eugene Volokh and Jessica Cutler (the "Washingtonienne"): both so love to blog about sex.

3:45: My panel is about to start. I'm up on the dais now and feeling nervous, even though I think there will hardly be any audience left (except out there is cyberspace, so I guess I can't just fool around). I check my email. A student at Georgetown has sent me this:


3:50: Larry Ribstein is listing the categories of lawprof blogposts: amateur journalism, self-expression, "blogicles" (little law scholarship articles), self-promotion (getting people to download your articles), and publicly engaged academic posts ("PEAPs").

The PEAPs idea is to "leverage your expertise" as you contribute to the public debate. You tap your serious scholarship, as you write about some timely issue.

4:05: I notice that Glenn noticed I was blogging about his head.

4:22: I'm done! Having written my article in bloggish form, I tried to do the talk in podcasty form (which is bizarrely stressful!).

4:25: Christine Hurt is talking about blogging without tenure.

4:28: Christine says that by blogging -- as part of reading the news every day -- she forces herself to keep up with legal developments, which gives her a headstart on the serious projects she begins in the summer. If she weren't blogging, she says, she'd be more consumed with teaching during the school year and putting off reading up on the current developments. This is a good point: I know I read cases as soon as they come out, cases that, pre-blogging, I would have just downloaded for later consumption.

4:38: Howard Bashman is up to comment on Larry, Christine, and me. He also has a lot to say about his blog, How Appealing.

4:50. Peter Lattman, the Wall Street Journal legal blogger, is next. He says journalists don't see bloggers as competition, but as fodder.

5:12. Nice questions. Listen to them in the podcast. Now, Harvard lawprof Charles Nesson is closing and talking about the Berkman Center, which sponsored the event. The internet, he says, has thrived because large institutions haven't figured out how to use it yet. There's a danger now, and he has a proposal, which you can hear on the podcast.


ADDED: Douglas Berman was live-blogging here. And Larry Solum sort of disagrees with me here (that is, he thinks that to be taken seriously, a law scholar had better keep the fun stuff on a separate blog). Solum is concerned about how "academic administrators" will figure out how to reward the part of the blog that deserves to be considered part of one's professional work. I'll just say that I have not encountered this problem at the University of Wisconsin Law School and assert that that makes my school cooler than the schools that fret about clear line drawing, like a child eating dinner and worring that the meat is touching the mashed potatoes!

"On some level he means what he's saying, and is making fun of himself for meaning it..."

Amba on religion and "The Colbert Report":
Colbert is something far more subtle than a fundamentalist, but on some level he means what he's saying, and is making fun of himself for meaning it by impersonating a fundamentalist's absurdly over-the-top way of saying it. No wonder Harris is baffled: it's impossible to tell where Colbert is really coming from. If you assumed he was mocking religion itself and therefore agreed with you, you'd fall into a trap.
Harris is atheist Sam Harris, and you can watch Colbert's interview with him here. Enjoy all the perplexing subtleties!

So Alec Baldwin punched the wall because of the air conditioning.

Here's a puzzling story about an actress, Jan Maxwell, quitting her role in a NY play, because she can't stand Alec Baldwin, her co-star.
[Maxwell wrote] in an e-mail message to a friend that Mr. Baldwin "created an unhealthy and oppressive situation." She referred specifically to an incident in which Mr. Baldwin punched a wall because he was angry that the air-conditioning was not turned high enough....

Mr. Baldwin admitted to punching the wall, but said he had been sweating onstage and, as his character wears glasses, the sweat was making it difficult to see.
Baldwin also says that the play -- "Entertaining Mr. Sloan" -- subjects the character Maxwell plays to relentless misogyny. Is the actress broken by the "unhealthy and oppressive situation" of the play itself, or is Alec Baldwin really so terrible? That air conditioner incident just doesn't seem like enough to justify cutting out on the play. His explanation sound pretty decent, but maybe there is a whole list of scary Baldwinesque acting out on and around the stage.

Hmmm... we could try to make a Top Ten list: Things Alec Baldwin Did to Freak Out Jan Maxwell.

April 27, 2006

At the Bloggership conference.

Well, here I am at the Cambridge Hyatt, where, from your room, you hear some guy playing schmaltzy music on a grand piano that is located somewhere in the grand atrium. You know, there was a time when Hyatt atria were seen as quite wonderful. It was decades ago.

So we bloggers had a nice dinner at the Harvard Faculty Club, courtesy of Microsoft. Microsoft provided some excellent food for us humble bloggers. I met a bunch of famous bloggers, some of whom defied my mental image, like Orin Kerr -- because I always just pictured him looking like the only other person I've ever met in my life named Orin (who was an old man with a big head of white hair). Silly, but that's how the mind works, isn't it?

And now it's time to meet the public, in the Zephyr Lounge.

"I know that you will be able to read this from Heaven."

What will happen to your web space after you die? Will the commenters swoop in and talk about you, talk to you? Will new readers flow in, tipped off by MyDeathSpace, to soak up the after-death atmosphere and contribute the perspective of the -- what should we call them? -- death spectators?

Extremely fussy bedding.

Here's an article about how women are layering their beds with all sorts of fancy pillows and "bed scarves" and other paraphernalia:
"I could go weeks without ever seeing my living room," said Judy Roaman, an art collector and retailer in Manhattan and East Hampton whose bed is as crowded and graphically articulated as the wall of artwork leading into her bedroom. "The bed for me is about having everything around me. We have the takeout on trays, and lollipops and Kleenex and every magazine known to man — and the dog, who has his water bowl on the floor. I hate to tell you this, but the dead dog's ashes are right by the bed, too."

The bed, Ms. Roaman said, warming to her theme, has two lives, "a glamorous, gorgeous day life, where she's made up in the morning, all fluffed with her glammy pillows and her propping pillows and her duvet and her chic little blanket at the bottom — and she's definitely a she — and the nighttime life, where we all jump in."
The least convincing thing in this article is the repeated assertion that an exciting and messy life goes along with a complicated bed system. Do you really think a woman -- they're all women -- who maintains a bed like this is enthusiastic about sticky kids jumping in? Do you really think she lets them bring whole takeout meals on trays into her insanely fancy bed? Does anyone ever actually have sex here or does the whole setup scream sublimation?

April 26, 2006

"American Idol" -- the results.

ADDED: If you're looking for the results of the latest show, click on the banner -- "Althouse" -- at the top of the page and scroll down to the newest "American Idol" post.


Oh, good, Althouse is back to talking about "American Idol." I'm soooo sorry I complained about her blogging about "American Idol."

So, from painful hyena sex to painful Ryan Seacrest. It's almost an anagram!

What's Paula wearing? It looks like caviar.

Did you see that Donny Hathaway's greatest hits collection is at #25 in sales on Amazon today, thanks to Elliott's singing "A Song for You" last night?

Cute "Call Me" ad, with doggies and Taylor Hicks acting up.

Andrea Bocelli belts out a number. His "American Idol" appearance has his new record up to #4 on Amazon. Expect it to go higher tomorrow.

They're breaking the contestants up into 3 groups of 2. Katharine, Elliott, and Kellie start each of the 3 groups. Then, Paris is told to join Kellie, and those in the know are assuming that's the bottom group. Taylor goes with Elliott, so Elliott's safe! Chris joins Katharine, and clearly she's now safe. Elliott and Taylor are the top. Nice!

After the break, we learn that Elliott and Taylor were actually the middle group. That makes sense, doesn't it, because of Chris? Chris and Kat are seated.

And it's Kellie who's leaving! America got it right!

Aw, but she was very sweet. I think she got a little tired. Someone ought to build a sitcom around her character. We love her as a comedienne.

"The Painful Realities of Hyena Sex."

See what I found for you? An article about the painful realities of hyena sex:
[I]n the final stages of pregnancy, high-ranking females provide their developing offspring with higher levels of androgen—a male sex hormone associated with aggression—than lower-ranking mothers provide to their developing young....

But providing the extra hormones takes a toll on the mother. The dose of androgen that she received from her own alpha mother damages her ovaries, making it difficult to conceive.

It also causes female reproductive organs to grow. A lot. Her clitoris, which contains the birthing canal, protrudes 7 inches from her body.

"Imagine giving birth through a penis," said study co-author Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University. "It's really weird genitalia, but it seems to work. Although giving birth through a 'penis' isn't a trivial problem."
And now it's a problem that you can think about.

"A strange combination of religion, karaoke, and pride."

Why Birmingham, Alabama is at the core of "American Idol."

The sleek new press secretary.

So what do you think of Tony Snow as the new White House press secretary? He's got a nice polished look and demeanor. That's got to help.

I like this:
In a November column, posted on Townhall.com, Mr. Snow wrote of Mr. Bush: "His wavering conservatism has become an active concern among Republicans, who wish he would stop cowering under the bed and start fighting back against the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Wilson. The newly passive George Bush has become something of an embarrassment."

In a March column, Mr. Snow wrote, "A Republican president and a Republican Congress have lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding the public fisc." And he derided the new prescription drug benefit that Mr. Bush signed into law.

As press secretary, Mr. Snow would probably have to defend just such a program.

When asked about Mr. Snow's more critical comments, the administration official said, "What better way to pop the bubble that people think there is here."

At least it's something new.

"They possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals."

"They" being apes. (Via Memeorandum.)

"He's just a smart, funny guy."

That would be Mick Jagger, who went for an offer of a secondary role in a TV pilot. "He did a lot of ad-libbing. Some of the funniest stuff in the pilot came from him." says Rob Burnett, one of the writers of the show, which is called "Let's Rob Mick Jagger."

I like seeing Mick Jagger get recognition for his comic acting. Remember when he played the role of Keith Richards in an SNL sketch with Mike Myers (who played the part of Jagger) in a "Point/Counterpoint"? And there was another SNL sketch where Jagger and Jimmy Fallon both played Mick Jagger, as Mick Jagger looking in a mirror.

Surveying the readers of political blogs.

BlogAds surveyed readers of political blogs. Here are the composite results, and here are the results for Althouse.

Does anything surprise me? A lot of my results are close to the composite. I was surprised that only 12.29% were lawyers or judges. I guess lawprofs check the "education" category (5.08%), and law students check the "students" category (7.63%). Adding all three categories, you get 25% (which includes nonlaw teachers and students). Not as much as I thought. I like having a mix of readers, so this is nice to know! I have more engineers than teachers, strangely, and quite different from the composite.

I guess the political breakdown is important:
Apolitical -- 1.75%
Democrat -- 10.92%
Republican -- 35.81%
Libertarian -- 25.33%
Independent -- 25.76%
Green -- 0.44%
More than half my readers are libertarian/independent? And Democrats do not love me. But I already knew that.

ADDED: Am I low in the "teachers" category because Democrats do not love me?

"I'm the decider, and I decide what's best."

That Bush quote has gotten a lot of attention, including this front-page NYT article. It's not about Bush, though, and then it's not even about how regular people have started saying "I'm the decider" to their spouses. Well, one guy did, but then the article devolves into an inquiry into who makes the decisions in relationships. I feel I've been had. An article I wanted to read -- one that whispered "bloggable" to me -- was just another dumb "relationships" piece.

Anyway, I rather like the idea of "I'm the decider, and I decide what's best" catching on in relationship talk. It's a cool way to exert control, but take the edge off it with humor, shifting the attention from your controlling behavior onto our presumably ridiculous President.

And have we figured out yet if "decider" is a word? In law, we use the term "decision-maker" all the time, so if "decider" is a word, we should be ashamed of our verbosity. However, if "decider" isn't a word, the President should be ashamed -- one more time -- of his language garble-making.

Dictionary check: "Decider" is a word! Recalibrate your ridiculousness assessment.

April 25, 2006

"American Idol" -- the final 6.

ADDED: If you're looking for the results of the latest show, click on the banner -- "Althouse" -- at the top of the page and scroll down to the newest "American Idol" post.

Katharine McPhee belts "I Have Nothing," and fortunately her yellow ball gown is tight enough to show a very visible panty line -- or we'd be super-slow-mo-ing the TiVo all night to try to figure out if we saw what we thought we saw when the dress flaps open in the end. Hey, even Paula's being mean to her. Everyone says: You're not Whitney. Only Ryan refers to the "great moves with that dress."

As they say on "Project Runway": too much tootie.

Elliott Yamin, "A Song for You." (The theme is love songs.) He wants to bring Donny Hathaway "back to the forefront" (and Hathaway's beautiful daughter, Kenya, is one of the background singers). Randy's right that the arrangement was confusing. Paula is weeping. "You move me." Hilarious. "You are a handsome, evolved performer." Simon's sniggering. At Paula. For Elliott: "Superb."

Kellie Pickler does "Unchained Melody." She seems almost afraid of the song. Simon: "So monotonous and so bland. No warmth."

Paris Bennett sings "The Way We Were." She is strong, but often weirdly phoney.

Taylor Hicks is doing a song I don't know, "Just Once." He's bellowing tonight. Too formal and un-fun. Not what we've come to expect from Hicksy.

And they saved my boy Chris for last.

Chris Daughtry. "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." In the practice session, they get him to sing lying on the floor, apparently to activate the diaphragm. After his performance, they barely have enough time to fit the judges comments in, and I think Paula's going out of turn when she jumps up and does a "Love you love you love you" dance, but that turned out to be her chance. Strange! But my Chrissy was great! Wasn't he the only one who seemed to really be singing about love? Tell me have you ever really sung a love song?

Best: Chris! Second: Elliott. Last: all those others.

I forgot the most important question: Who will leave? The bottom three should be Katharine, Kellie, and Taylor. But that's quite unlikely. I think Elliott is in danger. Paris too. Just leave my Chris alone, America.

"She bulldozes out of existence every desirable innovation in urban planning during the last century..."

Ah, to write a truly great, truly influential book!

Goodbye to Jane Jacobs.

"The Death and Life of Great American Cities."

Meet the bloggers.

There's that big "Bloggership" conference at Harvard Law School this Friday. Not only can you attend this conference -- it's free and open to the public -- you can even hang out in the Zephyr Lounge with us the night before the conference, Thursday, 9 to 11 pm. (The Zephyr Lounge is at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, 575 Memorial Drive.)

It sounds disturbingly intimate, but all these characters are doing it: Randy Barnett, Howard Bashman, Douglas Berman, Paul Butler, Paul Caron, Michael Froomkin, Eric Goldman, Gail Heriot, Christine Hurt, Orin Kerr, Peter Lattman, Jim Lindgren, Betsy Malloy, Ellen Podgor, Larry Ribstein, Gordon Smith, Dan Solove, Larry Solum, Eugene Volokh, and me.

I wonder if anyone will blog about it.

A "dominant face" and a "submissive face."

Composite images:

Actually, I'm offended by the whole notion. It reminds me of an exhibit of Nazi propoganda I saw at the Anne Frank House a while back -- pseudo-scientific explanations of why a particular face was "criminal."

But those pictures are from a BBC report of a study done at Liverpool University:
Researchers in the university's School of Biological Sciences showed their subjects, all of whom were in long-term relationships, a series of 66 pictures of two facial types - dominant and submissive.

They were then asked to rate the pictures for dominance, with a dominant person being defined as someone who "appeared as if they could get what they wanted".

Those with partners in the most fertile stage of their menstrual cycle were more able to spot classic masculine face types - ie men with strong jaw lines, thinner lips and smaller eyes.

But those with partners who were not at risk of getting pregnant at that particular time were not.
The study apparently assumed what constitutes a "dominant face" and a "submissive face," and only inquires into whether having a girlfriend who's ovulating heightens a man's perception of male threats. Count me skeptical... and disgusted.

"McKinney ... kept restating her charges of discrimination and profiling - which is just how a good bluff works."

Lawprof Steven Lubet -- who's got a new book, "Lawyers' Poker: 52 Lessons That Lawyers Can Learn from Card Players" -- is blogging about Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and poker:
Bluffing depends on uncertainty. Did the Capitol Police really have a history of discrimination? Did the officer really use excessive force? Does McKinney have solid evidence to back up her claims? And how much were the Capitol police willing to pay - in the currency of reputation and credibility - in order to find out?

Whatever you think of McKinney, it was hard not to be impressed by the way that she kept raising the stakes. It would have been hard enough for federal prosecutors to take on a member of congress in any circumstance, but she put them on notice that they might be publicly branded racists - and perhaps face a civil rights lawsuit - if they filed charges against McKinney. Under that sort of pressure, no one would blame them for backing off.
Poker. It's about everything.

"Propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness."

Now, you can be even more squashed on a plane. Here's the crazy new standing section.

"I think I belong in the women's section of the jail, but I don't foresee that happening."

Where would you put pre-operative transgender inmates?

IN THE COMMENTS: A lot of folks are focusing on this: "She legally changed her name in 2004 from Michael to Michelle, and her driver's license lists her as female." They're trying to say the state is locked into a commitment to treat the person as a female. I disagree.

"I've thought about starting to pretend to be more politically conservative than I am in seminars just to feel less complicit in all this."

Suffering through sociology, where "[y]ou are asked to believe that the way to 'de-racialize' something is to take an award with no name attached to it and attach to it the name presently attached to the major sociology award associated with race."
It's like sociology is engaged in this campaign to purge the air in its hallways from heterodox thought as much as possible, and then it simultaneously wonders why students trained in this sterile environment have trouble articulating their ideas to the general public.
Well, go read all that. But here's my question for you current and recent students. Did you take or avoid classes in sociology? Tell us about it.

April 24, 2006

"There will be blood on the walls. There will be #&!*ing blood everywhere."

Allie does not want to lose on tonight's "Apprentice." She gets over-the-top fierce planning how she's going to destroy Andrea in the Boardroom. And, in fact, Andrea is destroyed in the Boardroom, but the blood isn't visible. The destruction is accomplished through clearly spoken support (for Allie) from the other team-members, especially Roxanne, who never seems the slightest bit vicious. So that's how blood is done well these days.

"I don't want that grand, visionary, transporting movie experience made for the big screen to become a thing of the past."

That's a general idea -- expressed by James Cameron -- that I can embrace whole-heartedly. But the specific idea is frightful: 3-D.

I've enjoyed some 3-D films in my time -- including "Flesh for Frankenstein" in its original theater release. (I well remember what it was like to have a human liver dangled on a spear out over the audience.) It's a fun novelty. But how could it possibly be what could save film? It's just one more thing that would make film like a theme park ride. So destructive!

Blogger is annoying me...

It just can't seem to push the posts through. This is just a post designed to ram the preceding posts through, not that I think it'll work... just that I feel like doing something.

UPDATE: Yay! It's back!

"An action can be collectively willed but enacted by small groups."

Says Paul Greengrass, director of the film "United 93," who had to find a way to tell the story and not offend the families of the victims, many of whom did not want to see the men who took action "elevated" above the other passengers.

"It ran sideways, like a crab, and all that."

Virginia Heffernan loves the Ricky Gervais podcast, but she struggles to convey why Karl Pilkington is so funny. Finally, she sort of gives up and transcribes a long thing:
"When me gran died, right, she had this rubbish dog, right? And that's all we got left. It's like this little poodle. It was rubbish, right. It's called Fluffy. And like me gran looked after it in a way like it was a human. Do you know what I mean. It had a little coat on when it went out, and all that. Anyway, so she died, we got left it, and me dad's like, 'bloody hell.' Before you know it, it only took about a month; it was a wreck. Because we weren't sort of bathing it the way she bathed it. If it wanted to go out, we took it out. It got covered in oil. It used to go under the car and everything. It went from looking like this fluffy, you know, poodle to just being a bit of a wreck. It got hit by a car. It ran sideways, like a crab, and all that. So it went from being overtreated to just being treated like a dog."
Still, if you're not hearing Karl's voice, are you getting why that is hysterical?

"We are not all the Nokia-wielding people the government would like you to think we are."

A national identity crisis:
"Finns nearly choked on their cereal when they realized we were the face Finland would be showing to the world."

IN THE COMMENTS: Are heavy metal fans nerdy?

April 23, 2006

"The Sopranos," "Big Love."

Did you watch? I thought both shows were relatively uninteresting tonight. Maybe it's just me. I'm always happy to watch Christopher act like an idiot -- and "When are you going to stop playing the Adriana card?" was a great line -- but much of what went on tonight bored me.

Ditto "Big Love." Nicky's credit cards, yawn. Somebody turns out to be gay -- what an original plot turn! Bill's car drives up and parks in front of the house -- fascinating, please show that a hundred more times. Loved the missionaries though -- especially when they rode away on bikes and did the dorky hand turn signals. Really loved every syllable uttered by Tina Majorino. She's brilliant!

Audible Althouse #46.

Here. What I hate about movies, who's beautiful and who isn't, feeling transformed by architecture, what makes a good song lyric, why animals love a nuclear disaster, and how I suffered through writing about blogging.

(You don't need an iPod. You can stream it on your computer here.)

200 photographs.

I was just thinking that my text-to-photograph ratio had shifted way too far toward the photographic -- a consequence of springtime? -- and then I went here...

Where am I?

... and ended up taking 200 photographs.

It will take me some time to tweak my digital files and upload things, but I plan to make a good Flickr set out of this material. I'll link to it when I'm done...

MORE: Here's the whole set of photos -- weeded down to 57 -- from the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which just opened today. The interior architecture -- by Cesar Pelli -- is beautiful, framing infinite enticing compositions.

There's a fabulous rooftop sculpture garden (with a café):

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Some marvelous display spaces:

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

And many nice perspectives on our charming city:

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

"We are being played by the lawyers, with leaks and well-chosen sound bites."

Do you think you know which side is telling the truth in the Duke lacrosse team rape case? You shouldn't.

IN THE COMMENTS: I defend Dahlia Lithwick as commenters rage about a line -- "our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots" -- that appears in the essay.

ADDED: A commenter links to the Slate version of Lithwick's essay and makes a persuasive argument that my defense of Lithwick is wrong. [MORE: Actually, several commenters made good arguments.]

Suddenly, something is keeping us alive.

Did you notice the stunning drop in the death rate? The National Center for Health Statistics reports that there was a 2 percent decrease in the death rate in the United States last year. 50,000 fewer people died last year than the year before.
U.S. deaths ordinarily rise slightly each year. The last decline in annual deaths occurred in 1997, a modest drop of 445 deaths from 1996, Minino said.

The number of deaths has not dropped this steeply since 1938, when there were about 69,000 fewer than in 1937. A drop in 1944 came close - about 48,000 fewer deaths than the previous year....

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death, accounting for 27 percent of the nation's deaths in 2004. Cancer was second, at about 23 percent, and strokes were third, at 6 percent.

The good news: The age-adjusted death rate for all three killers dropped. The heart disease rate declined more than 6 percent, the cancer rate about 3 percent, and the stroke rate about 6.5 percent.
And yet we've gotten so fat! Or is that layer of blubber -- like the embrace of a loving grandmother -- cushioning us as we fall through life.

"The yield of her legendary scrutiny informed by a worldliness more political than clitoral."

Do you trust a writer who writes like that to tell you why one writer is better than another?
Her spare precise locution rewards not spectatorship but collaboration: the reader's full discovery of the dread she leaves largely tacit.
It's not hard to see that Joan Didion is a better writer than Erica Jong, but that doesn't mean that trying to write like Didion and not Jong will make you a better writer.