June 3, 2006

"Match Point."

Is this movie any good? Chris says some things I agree with. We were laughing at it a lot early on, and I thought it was incredibly empty and stultifying. Woody Allen is mindnumbingly interested in rich people. But it ended well, and Scarlett Johansson did some terrific acting. She was quite fascinating even as she was saying rather dull lines. And both of the lead actors did have immense and shapely upper lips. That's gotta count for something.

The blog swarm, Chinese style.

"Many draw disturbing parallels to the Cultural Revolution, whose 40th anniversary is this year, when mobs of students taunted and beat their professors."

Another one of those art-cow things...

Madison's got one of these art-cow things going on this summer:


You feel compelled to stop and take a photo:


UPDATE: That's Chris in the second photo, and here's his photo essay from the same walk. (Warning: snakes!)

"Have a brewski together, have a hot dog together or whatever they want outdoors."

Said Jeb Bush, referring to you and your dog, after he signed some damned dog-lover pandering bill into law yesterday. He borrowed some politician's dog for the photo-op:

There, now, don't you love Jebby? Because he loves doggies.

Wait, I'm going to give Jeb a couple bonus points for the comic detail of suggesting "hot dog" as the food to eat with your dog. And I'm going to give him some additional bonus points because the law does not require restaurants to allow dogs. It empowers local government to permit restaurant owners to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. The law is just loosening up the health code. If you don't like it, go to another restaurant. If you think it's disgustingly unhealthy, why are you not upset by all the dogs people have in their homes, running about the kitchen and the dining room? Finger-sucking babies crawl around on those floors!

Blind item.

Somewhere out there are two bloggers who have, in times past, been rather nasty to me, both in my comments and on their blogs. Recently, they got into a nasty squabble with each other. The squabble was not about me, but my name came up several times in the context of pointing out how nasty the nastier of the two bloggers was, as this nastier blogger really did have an unhealthy obsession with me. Well, the less nasty blogger has now conquered the nastier one, to the point where the nastier blogger has deleted his whole lame obsessing-about-me blog. Thanks, less nasty blogger!

ADDED: Let me be clear that the nastier guy chose to delete his own blog. The less nasty blogger merely created the conditions that made him want to do so.

Commenter gets NYT quote.

Remember that NYT Book Review piece from a while back about the best work of American fiction in the last 25 years"? This week's Book Review prints a collection of blog reactions and links to various blogs. The squib from this blog isn't from me, but from the comments to my post. So I'm posting here to alert PatCA that she got quoted in the NYT. (Here's PatCA's group blog.)

June 2, 2006

In you, dear animals...

We see ourselves.

Henry Vilas Zoo

Henry Vilas Zoo

Henry Vilas Zoo

"Is it petty and mean for a dear friend to pull such a woman aside and explain that today, at this moment, she is a blight on the scenery?"

Robin Givhan thinks you're fat. Don't be wearing those leggings, that shrug, or those low-rise pants. And you can lose all that disgusting weight and you still shouldn't wear flip-flops. I don't care how young you are or how cute your feet are. No one gets to wear flip-flops. Thwackety-thwack, thwackety-thwack, thwackety-thwack, thwackety-thwack, thwackety-thwack, thwackety-thwack. Robin does not want you walking anywhere near her in those filthy things.

And what's this thing of men carrying around towels? "The subtext of the sweat rag seems to be that vigorous perspiring is a sign of manliness. Thus a fellow who carries thick, absorbent terry cloth to mop up his sweat must be drowning in testosterone." They are so, so, so very wrong, and Robin's had enough. Get your act together, guys. It's summer. Deal with it. Discreetly.

An extremely general, multi-part question about relationships.

If you wanted to be thoroughly selfish, concerned about your own pleasures and benefits, should you prefer living alone or with a partner? If you wanted to be unselfish, concerned about virtue and service to others, should you prefer living alone or with a partner? Which question has the clearer answer? Save all the hedging about how what matters are the details of the specific relationship. I want to hear you try to answer the question in the abstract. To help you focus: assume that in starting out in life, you are required to commit either to a solitary or a partnered existence, and you are making your decision by weighing the question first from the selfish perspective and then from the unselfish perspective. Is the answer from the unselfish perspective different from the selfish one? If it's not, were you really honest? If it is, which path do you choose? Does your answer to these questions match what you are actually doing? Are you sorry?

Searching the congressman's office.

I'm trying to think why I haven't posted on the search of Representative Jefferson's congressional office. I've been eyeing it from a distance, feeling insufficiently outraged at the intrusion or hot to defend it. But I see Adam Liptak has some analysis today, quoting various lawprofs, so let's take a look:
The Justice Department is probably correct in saying that it was legally entitled to search a congressman's office last month. But in ignoring history and established conventions in that case, some legal scholars say, the Bush administration has again unsettled widely shared understandings of constitutional relationships and freedoms that have existed for generations.....

[T]he argument that Congressional offices are immune from law enforcement searches has something in common with the argument that the president has the authority to reinterpret the bills he signs into law, said Douglas W. Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University.

"They have no taproot in the constitutional document," Professor Kmiec said of arguments. "They're all sound and fury."

Several legal scholars went further, saying they found it hard to take at face value the objections of many legislators about the search of Mr. Jefferson's office.

"Like a lot of these issues where separation-of-powers rhetoric is deployed and where you see cross-party lines of agreement, there's often a competing story," said Daryl J. Levinson, a law professor at Harvard. "Here the story that leaps out at you is that the Republicans are worried that they're next."
Does it bug you that when reporters ask lawprofs for a legal opinion, they get a political opinion? But that really does reflect the way many (most?) lawprofs think about difficult constitutional law problems. Liptak ends his piece with a quote from Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson that is always cited for this attitude:
"While the Constitution diffuses power the better to secure liberty, it also contemplates that practice will integrate the dispersed powers into a workable government," Justice Jackson wrote. "It enjoins upon its branches separateness but interdependence, autonomy but reciprocity."
"Workable government" -- it's a nice phrase, but what does it mean? Does it "work" or doesn't it "work" for the Justice Department to search the offices of members of Congress when it has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed? And do you like the answer to that question serving as the answer to what the Constitution means?


Enron, Enron, Enron, Enron, Enron.


Chris is 23! Happy Birthday!

"How do I phrase this diplomatically?"

New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi introduced Senator Schumer this way:
"The man who, how do I phrase this diplomatically, who will put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it. The toughest senator, the best representative. A great, great member of the Congress of the United States."
He has since apologized.
"I do speak extemporaneously," he said. "And I've never said anything like this."
I'll bet. But anyway, thanks for apologizing.

June 1, 2006

The Spelling Bee.

Are you watching the Scripps Howard Spelling Bee? It's the best reality show on TV, is it not? Over at Throwing Things, they've been blogging up a storm. They're asking who are your favorites. In these parts, we love Isabel Jacobson, a Madison 7th grader, who made it to the final 45 by spelling "affenpinscher" and "tangential." Yeah, "tangential" we all know. "Affenpinscher"? It takes flights of fantasy even to imagine what that means.

Over at Throwing Things, they can't seem to say Samir Patel often enough. Pay some attention to our Isabel!

Hey, Isabel has a blog. Here. She hasn't posted since Tuesday, though. Let's not needle her about getting her blogging done, though. She's got spelling to do. Let's see what she wrote on Tuesday:
Before coming here, I was curious about what the other spellers would be like. Now I've met a few of them, and there's quite a variety. Some are as normal as anyone at my school. But some are not so normal. Quite a few are geniuses in other fields besides spelling. One boy I talked to is a nationally ranked chess champion. Another girl seemed very normal, until she revealed that she's been taking college-level math courses.

I studied for four hours the day before we left, but now that I'm actually here I haven't studied much; I feel like I'm as ready as I need to be. My main goal is to make it into the top 45 spellers, who will go on to Thursday's competition. I don't really know what my chances of this are; I've never competed at this level before, so I don't know how tough the other spellers are. I guess I'll just have to wait until tomorrow to find out.
Well, you made your goal, so is it all just for fun now? I've got to think all 45 finalists really want to win. I can't help thinking she sounds way less hardcore than most of them.

UPDATE: A quote from Theodore Yuan: "It's kind of hard to enjoy spelling, but I do it because I'm good at it."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, Isabel made it to 14th place and went out on the word "symminct." The prime time final rounds went very quickly, especially when it came down to Fiola Hackett and Katharine Close battling for first place. Both girls seemed to know all the words and spelled them with few questions, until Fiola paused a long and hard before making the gaffe of spelling "weltschmerz" with a "v" ... when she knew it was German! How??? It was like the boy who had to spell "giocoso" and, knowing it was Italian, began with a "j." How can you get that far and not know such basic sounds in such common languages? Do they just hit the wall and get tired, get spellschmerz? So Fiola couldn't hack it, and Katharine didn't just come close, she won ... on that word she totally knew, ursprachte!

MORE: Or was that ursprache?

"Just because he was inspired by the sea does not mean that no one else can use the sea to make glass art."

Says Bryan Rubino, a glass-blowing artist who is being sued by the glass-blowing artist, Dale Chihuly. (Rubino worked for Chihuly for 14 years.) "If anything, Mother Nature should be suing Dale Chihuly."
The suit, rare in art circles, offers a sometimes unflattering glimpse at how high-powered commercial artists like Mr. Chihuly work. The two glass blowers say that he has very little to do with much of the art, and that he sometimes buys objects and puts the Chihuly name on them, a contention that Mr. Chihuly strongly denies.

He acknowledges that he has not blown glass for 27 years, dating from a surfing accident that cost him the full range of shoulder motion, an injury that struck three years after he had lost sight in his left eye in a traffic accident.

Still, Mr. Chihuly said, he works with sketches, faxes and through exhortation. Nothing with his name on it ever came from anyone but himself, he said....

...Mr. Chihuly called Mr. Rubino a "gaffer," a term for a glassblower who labors around a furnace at the instruction of an artist. Asked to assess Mr. Rubino, Mr. Chihuly said, "He was an excellent craftsman" with little vision of his own.

"You think I would ever let Rubino decide what something looks like?" Mr. Chihuly asked.
Why is this a copyright case and not a contracts case? If Chihuly hired Rubino and kept him on for 14 years, why did he he never make Rubino sign a contract that would have limited Rubino from making similar shapes to sell on his own?

Bonus photo: a closeup of the big Chihuly sculpture at the Milwaukee Art Museum, taken last Saturday:

Chihuly Sculpture

There is a signature look to the work. It's impossible for me to tell from the linked article how close to Chihuly's Rubino's designs are. This article gives some more context:
Chihuly sued Rubino and Redmond art entrepreneur Robert Kaindl in October, accusing them of copying his designs and selling "knockoffs" at several local galleries. Last week, Chihuly alleged in court documents that the two had pored over books of Chihuly's works and picked out designs that Rubino would make for Kaindl to sell....

...Rubino says he created or co-authored some of the works that Chihuly is suing to protect, and that some of the work he did for the artist was done "without any creative input whatsoever from (Chihuly Inc.) or Dale Chihuly."

As evidence, Rubino submitted a fax he says he received from Chihuly. The fax includes sticklike drawings and the following instructions: "Here's a little sketch but make whatever you want. We'll get everything up to Tacoma when you're done and I'll try to come down while you're blowing. Till then, Chihuly."...

Rubino is asking the court to declare him a co-author of some of Chihuly's more famous pieces, and award him profits associated with those works.

Chihuly acknowledged in his suit that "Rubino worked on virtually every series created by Chihuly." But he claimed that Rubino signed away any rights to the work when he was Chihuly's employee, and that as a contractor, all of the work Rubino made for Chihuly was done under Chihuly's direction and control.
So what do you think, copyright experts? I'm guessing that it's rather obvious that the "work for hire" Rubino did for Chihuly makes him not a co-author and that this claim is a bargaining chip in the litigation process. Rubino just wants to be able to sell his own work now, even though it's similar to the work he did with Chihuly. Should he win on that claim? Artists are always copying each other's styles. It's disturbing to think that they should have to worry about being sued by the more successful artists who came before them. The old could prey on the young mercilessly, and the development of artistic styles would be crippled by litigious artists.

Chihuly's designs are way too distinctive to make me buy Rubino's argument that they are nothing more than nature's design. Chihuly may like to say that he's inspired by the sea, but these swirls and curlicues don't look much like any sea I've ever gazed upon. But perhaps his designs come quite directly from the inherent limitations of glassblowing, the traditional techniques of the craft, and the decision to work very large. If so, Chihuly is trying to monopolize the field of art glass.

May 31, 2006

45 pages? Couldn't they have finished with just a second sentence?

Something along the lines of "Need we say more?"
"The principal question presented by this appeal is whether a special condition of parole that prohibited the possession of 'pornographic material' would have given notice to a reasonable parolee who had been convicted of sexual crimes involving minors, or his parole officer, that the condition prohibited possession of the book Scum: True Homosexual Experiences, which contains sexually explicit pictures and lurid descriptions of sex between men and boys." So begins a 45-page opinion that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued today.

Cafés and deadlines.

The air conditioning in my favorite café is broken, so I've had to set up in my fallback café, where I usually sit in the front. But there's a little back area. I almost never sit here, but it beckons me today, maybe because I have some work to do and there, that table by the back garden window: didn't I once sit there and write an op-ed in three hours to meet a deadline? That's my magic table. Well, it was. I'm not getting that much done. I think it's not so much the table as the deadline. Right now, the deadlines aren't close enough. I see them approaching. I'm uneasy -- enough to push myself a bit. But I've been through this too many times. Right now, I'm at the stage where I think this is how I always feel when the deadline is at this distance. I always think I've got to get to work, and I always dawdle and wheel-spin. The deadline needs to be closer. I may as well laze and luxuriate.

Gen-Xers for hypocrisy.

Andrew Sullivan writes:
Dan [Savage] and I agreed that moderate hypocrisy - especially in marriages - is often the best policy. Momogamy [sic] is very hard for men, straight or gay, and if one partner falters occasionally (and I don't mean regularly), sometimes discretion is perfectly acceptable. You could see [Erica] Jong bridle at the thought of such dishonesty. But I think the post-seventies generation - those of us who grew up while our parents were having a sexual revolution - both appreciate the gains for sexual and emotional freedom, while being a little more aware of their potential hazards. An acceptance of mild hypocrisy as essential social and marital glue is not a revolutionary statement. It's a post-revolutionary one. As is, I'd say, my generation as a whole.
Erica squirms at hypocrisy because she's old? Accepting or rejecting dishonesty is a generational matter? Does this have the ring of truth? I don't think it does. There has always been a range of opinion and tolerance for lies in relationships. And what people squirm at in public or say they accept may not be the same in private. And you don't really know exactly what Jong's nonverbal expression meant. Maybe she was remembering something she was dishonest about. Maybe Dan and Andrew were preening about their "discretion," and it rubbed her the wrong way. I mean, Andrew's preening about it now isn't he?

ADDED: Sullivan's typo "momogamy" just kills me. It's the ultimate in Oedipal.

"The best thing about naming your kid Shiloh?"

Kim Cosmopolitan muses about the first name of the new Jolie-Pitt entity ... and links to this article that wonders whether the French are fretting about gender and that middle name, Nouvel, and concludes:
[N]ames needn't conform to foreign orthographic strictures. Brad and Angelina can call their baby whatever they want, although if they'd chosen France Fat Racist Whore of Nation States Jolie-Pitt, they might have had a little difficulty checking into the Ritz.
This reminds me of the old game of looking through your French vocabulary lists to find words that look like names but have inappropriate meanings. We laughed a lot about naming the baby Poubelle.

"Unless she has lesbian superpowers ... it really doesn't change her character..."

Are you yawning over the news that Batwoman is a lesbian?

May 30, 2006

Speculating about why Luttig left the bench.

Is it okay to speculate? This ABA Journal article is full of speculation, including the ample portion I dished up.

"It just tells you how selfish he is. He comes on, not a word - 'I'm not gonna sing with anybody else, I'm not gonna say goodbye.'..."

"Thank you for your generosity, Prince." Says Simon Cowell. Because Prince appeared on the "American Idol" finale, but as Ryan Seacrest was coming over to encounter him, he turned his back and walked off, kind of flounced off -- he did this shoulder-y thing -- in a way that seemed to say I don't want your cooties. I want your publicity, but not your cooties.

So Cowell had to hit back. Ow!

Oh, it's probably a strategic move, the first in a series of moves that will end with an official Prince night next season.

"When public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes..."

"...and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline," writes Justice Kennedy in Garcetti v. Caballos, issued today.

Justice Alito was part of the 5 man majority....

(Yeah, I'm saying "5 man majority," not "5 person majority." Justice Ginsburg was in the dissent. I'm going to say "man" for whatever group Ginsburg isn't in. It's a solid, concrete word -- "man," unlike "person" -- so I like it from a plain English perspective, but I think it's good to highlight the gender disproportion on the Court.)

.... Should we call Alito the "deciding vote"? It seems more appropriate to think of Kennedy as the deciding vote, that is, the man among the 5 most likely to have voted with the dissenting group. But Alito replaced O'Connor, and O'Connor might well have voted with the dissenters. In that sense, we may perceive him as the deciding vote. As Marty Lederman writes:
[The case was] originally argued in the [October] sitting and then reargued after Justice Alito joined the Court. ... As I predicted here, Justice Souter -- who likely was assigned to write the majority before Justice O'Connor's retirement -- wrote a dissent, joined by Justices Stevens and Ginsburg.
As to the substance of the decision, Lederman explains some of the complexities of what he calls "a very significant doctrinal development" in the case:
[I]t appears that if one's duties are to expose wrongdoing in the workplace, such exposure is entitled to no constitutional protection, but that if an employee whose duties do not involve such whistleblowing makes the exact same complaint, then Pickering/Connick analysis still applies. A somewhat odd result, at least on first glance. And odder still: Under today's opinion, if Mr. Ceballos had written a newspaper article complaining about the wrongdoing in question, rather than taking the matter to his supervisor, he would at least be entitled to whatever constitutiional [sic] protection Pickering/Connick offers. Does today's decision therefore give employees an incentive to go outside the established channels -- to take their concerns to the newspapers, instead of up the established chain to their supervisors?
Is that a perverse incentive? Why might it make sense? Justice Kennedy writes:
Official communications have official consequences, creating a need for substantive consistency and clarity. Supervisors must ensure that their employees’ official communications are accurate, demonstrate sound judgment, and promote the employer’s mission. Ceballos’ memo is illustrative. It demanded the attention of his supervisors and led to a heated meeting with employees from the sheriff’s department. If Ceballos’ superiors thought his memo was inflammatory or misguided, they had the authority to take proper corrective action.

Ceballos’ proposed contrary rule, adopted by the Court of Appeals, would commit state and federal courts to a new, permanent, and intrusive role, mandating judicial oversight of communications between and among government employees and their superiors in the course of official business. This displacement of managerial discretion by judicial supervision finds no support in our precedents. When an employee speaks as a citizen addressing a matter of public concern, the First Amendment requires a delicate balancing of the competing interests surrounding the speech and its consequences. When, however, the employee is simply performing his or her job duties, there is no warrant for a similar degree of scrutiny. To hold otherwise would be to demand permanent judicial intervention in the conduct of governmental operations to a degree inconsistent with sound principles of federalism and the separation of powers.

Childbearing compensation.

Here's a Slate piece about offering women money to have another child -- which is the approach to the problem of the declining birthrate that Vladimir Putin is taking in Russia. Could it work in the U.S.?
Extremists on the left (Marxists) and right (supply-siders) believe firmly in the power of economic incentives to change behavior. But the sums involved are generally rather small. According to the CIA, Russia's gross domestic product per capita in 2005 was $10,700, compared with $42,000 in the United States. So giving a Russian $9,200 in cash is like giving an American $36,112. Would that be enough to convince lots of Americans to assume the financial responsibilities associated with an additional child? For most, probably not. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has data on the price of human husbandry. According to the latest estimates, depending on your income, it costs anywhere from $139,110 to $279,450 to raise a child to age 17. And that doesn't include college, or graduate school, or help with the down payment for a starter home. Phillip Longman argues that these are lowball estimates, because they don't account for the forgone wages of a mother. "For a middle-class couple in which the wife works, but takes some time off, I came up with a total per-child cost of $1 million in direct and indirect costs."

For many, of course, having children has nothing to do with financial calculations. Having children fulfills powerful psychological, human, and religious needs. There are some people whom you wouldn't have to pay anything to have another child. And there are some people who are so entirely satisfied with the two wonderful children they already have—and who, given their age, energy level, and real estate prices in the Northeast—would require a Trump-sized incentive to embark on the adventure of parenthood again.
So how much money would it take to change your mind and cause you to have one more child that you had (or plan to have) on your own? I mean, quite aside from whether you approve of bribing people into parenthood or you worry that the wrong people would take the money and produce the extra kids, how much would it take?

"We're just gonna bury them so deep, you know?"

Says Lenny, the Russian, expressing crazy confidence in the team Lee chose for the final task on "The Apprentice." Meanwhile, Sean chose the perfect team: Tammy, Andrea, and Tarek. These do seem to be the three best. Plus, he's in love with Tammy. He wants to win, get married, get everything. He's adorable expressing his utter confusion at Lee's choices, and jokingly theorized that Lee has some genius plan. But what Lee did was go to Lenny. He's weirdly bonded to Lenny. (And the last thing Lenny did to Lee was to bring him into The Boardroom -- nonsensically -- after Lee had supported and stood by him.) What strange mind control does Lenny have over Lee? Then Lee just sits at Lenny's knee and takes advice about who the other team members should be, completely buying the notion that what counts is how sincerely and passionately the players want Lee to win. Lenny says Roxanne and Pepi. Roxanne was Lee's opponent in the last round, and doesn't seem likely to care much about seeing him win. And the other one, Pepi, is a guy who was such an unsuccessful player -- eliminated in Round 2 -- that after Lee announces his team and leaves The Boardroom, Trump is all Pepi?! Who's Pepi? Was he even on the show? Did I ever say "Pepi, you're fired?"... while Carolyn cackles hysterically.

Nerds and rich people.

It's what you need to make the next Silicon Valley. How do you get nerds and rich people in the same place? When do rich people want to live in a place that nerds like? And what do nerds like?
What nerds like is the kind of town where people walk around smiling. This excludes LA, where no one walks at all, and also New York, where people walk, but not smiling. When I was in grad school in Boston, a friend came to visit from New York. On the subway back from the airport she asked "Why is everyone smiling?" I looked and they weren't smiling. They just looked like they were compared to the facial expressions she was used to.

Chewing gum elephant puppet.

It's creepy... and chewy. Thanks Dan Goodsell, whose cool blog I found via Metafilter.

The food police.

Are they only making kids fatter?

Liebermanhandling Hillary.

The Daily News reports:
Some Manhattan Democratic clubs are launching a backlash against Sen. Hillary Clinton amid some of her recent shifts toward the right. Once a liberal favorite, Clinton is being shunned in her reelection bid by four local Democratic groups furious over her vote in favor of the Iraq war and her newly cozy relationship with conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

"She is not in Arkansas anymore," said Yayoi Tsuchitani, campaign chairwoman of the Village Independent Democrats, which voted this month to back Jonathan Tasini, Clinton's little-known Democratic challenger for her Senate seat.

"This is New York we are dealing with, and the majority of New Yorkers are against the war," Tsuchitani added.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has a big Hillary article, analyzing her supposedly elusive political persona. Key paragraph:
On balance, most of those around Clinton say her hard-to-pigeonhole profile is a political asset -- the product, they say, of a curious intellect, the absence of rigid ideology, an instinct for problem solving and a willingness to seek consensus even across party lines. Her detractors see her career as the work of an opportunistic politician who has sanded the sharp edges off her views, so much so that there is little sense of authenticity when she speaks.

May 29, 2006

At the Veterans Museum.

In Madison, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Counterpoint, a shop window;

store window

Partisan squabbling "affects our warriors, who are frustrated by the country's lack of cohesion and the depiction of their war."

Writes Owen West, founder of Vets for Freedom, in a NYT op-ed:
Both Republicans and Democrats agree we cannot lose Iraq. The general insurgency in Iraq imperils our national interest and the hardcore insurgents are our mortal enemies. Talking of troop reductions is to lose sight of the goal.

Second, America's conscience is one of its greatest strengths. But self-flagellation, especially in the early stages of a war against an enemy whose worldview is uncompromising, is absolutely hazardous. Three years gone and Iraq's most famous soldiers are Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England, a victim and a criminal, respectively. Abu Ghraib remains the most famous battle of the war.

Soldiers are sick of apologizing for a sliver of malcontents who are not at all representative of the new breed. But they are also sick of being pitied. Our warriors are the hunters, not the hunted, and we should celebrate them as we did in the past, for while our tastes have changed, warfare — and the need to cultivate national guardians — has not. As Kipling wrote, "The strength of the pack is the wolf."

Finally, today's debates are not high-spirited so much as mean-spirited. To allow polarizing forces to dominate the argument by insinuating false motives on one side or a lack of patriotism on the other is to obscure long-term security decisions that have to be made now.
West calls this "common ground," but I can't help feeling that a lot of Democrats -- and others -- will refuse to stand here.

"Well, well. Here we are. You have exactly eight hours and fifty-four minutes to think about why you're here...."

...You may not talk, you will not move from these seats. Any questions?

Yeah. Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?

You think he's funny? You think this is cute? You think he's "bitchin," is that it? Let me tell you something. Look at him - he's a bum! You want to see something funny? You go visit John Bender in five years. You'll see how goddamned funny he is!
"The Breakfast Club" (1985).

RIP, Paul Gleason, AKA Principal Richard Vernon. Thanks for making all of us who ever got in trouble with the principal laugh a lot.
You just bought yourself another Saturday.

Ooh I'm crushed.

You just bought one more.

"What if the gum had been given to a student with a heart condition?"

Says the principal, justifying suspending the student who shared Jolt gum -- caffeinated gum -- with a fellow student. Hey, wait... on that theory you can't share a Coke! But they do turn off the soda vending maching during class hours. So doesn't that vindicate the principles of the principal?

Yes, kids, you'll have to suffer through the long hours of classes caffeine-free -- unless you bring your own supply of Jolt gum. Then, after class, step right up to our machines, slip in your coins, and partake of the semi-forbidden substance.

And don't you think the makers of Jolt love this story? Thanks for reminding all the kids about our little product, and thanks for forcing each student to buy his own. And thanks for glamorizing some dumb gum into an exciting drug-like product. That meshes nicely with our ad campaign and spikes it with messages we dare not say directly.

IN THE COMMENTS: Lotsa comments, so go in there and read. I'm just going to front page a long comment I made along the way:
Thanks for the link to the old "Coffee Achievers" commercials. That ad campaign dates back to a time when coffee drinking was dying out, and they really thought the new generations would only drink soda. I remember thinking the commercials were a pathetic attempt to bring back the past! I'm laughing as I type this in a café with a $3.50 coffee drink next to the laptop. I think back then people also thought written communication would die out, and the new generations would rely solely on images and the spoken word. But here we are hopelessly immersed in coffee and the written word.

Anyway, I'd like to say that I don't think all the news stories like this gum one imply that schools are full of folks who do things like this. It wouldn't be news if it were so common. That a dinky story like this gets reported proves it's anomalous. And I think a lot of the teachers themselves oppose the petty rules. I note that I'm a teacher, and I'm making fun of stuff like this.

As [one commenter observed], the principal is probably concerned about lawsuits. But the principal is probably also concerned with the way Jolt gum mimics drugs. I've seen kids drink Jolt cola and then act as if they are totally high. It's disturbing to adults to see that, but the trick is to find the right response. It's not obvious what it is.

I think opposing all gum and soda in the school -- during and after hours -- would be best. Kids have forgotten how to drink water. When I was a kid, in school, if you were thirsty, you got a drink from the water fountain. There was nothing else, except at lunch, and at lunch, there was only one drink: milk.

I'm just going to guess that the biggest cause of the obesity problem in America is soda. Years ago, a soda was a treat, and the bottles were 6 1/2 ounces. You were lucky if you got even one of those things a day.

I'm a cranky old person!

As I write this, the song playing in the café is -- I'm not kidding -- Bob Dylan's "4th Time Around," with the lines about gum:

I stood there and hummed,
I tapped on her drum and asked her how come.
And she buttoned her boot,
And straightened her suit,
Then she said, "Don't get cute."
So I forced my hands in my pockets
And felt with my thumbs,
And gallantly handed her
My very last piece of gum.

She threw me outside,
I stood in the dirt where ev'ryone walked.
And after finding I'd
Forgotten my shirt,
I went back and knocked.
I waited in the hallway, she went to get it,
And I tried to make sense
Out of that picture of you in your wheelchair
That leaned up against . . .

Her Jamaican rum
And when she did come, I asked her for some.
She said, "No, dear."
I said, "Your words aren't clear,
You'd better spit out your gum."

"Is marriage truly and inevitably a scourge for male and female scientists?"

Satoshi Kanazawa's study should daunt marriage enthusiasts. (Via A&L Daily.)
"The productivity of male scientists tends to drop right after marriage... Scientists tend to 'desist' from scientific research upon marriage, just like criminals desist from crime upon marriage.... Men conduct scientific research (or do anything else) in order to attract women and get married (albeit unconsciously)...What’s the point of doing science (or anything else) if one is already married?"
Other studies -- cited in the linked article -- show the effect of marriage on female scientists to be even more severe.

This makes me wonder whether married people encourage others to marry because they want to level the playing field. You don't want your competitors to have the no-marriage advantage. Shun that unmarried co-worker. You know, he/she is going to make it look like you're not working hard enough.

Hey sister, you're just movin too fast/You're screwin up the quota...

May 28, 2006

Audible Althouse #51.

A fresh, new podcast. Stream it here. Subscribe:

Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

I talk about comics, especially Popeye:

Popeye menu

There's some stuff about the "Masters of American Comics" show at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Art Spiegelman writing about cartoons in Harper's Magazine. Then there's that list of conservative rock songs and Pete Townsend's reaction to "Won't Get Fooled Again" being on it. I talk a bit about Bob Dylan. (The Paul Simon song I can't quite remember is "Night Game.")

There's some exciting violence involving a spider that occurs early on in this podcast. And the whole thing ends with a discussion of cool. And Kookie.

Is "Won't Get Fooled Again" conservative?

Pete Townshend responds to the selection of "Won't Get Fooled Again" as the number 1 conservative rock song.
The song was meant to let politicians and revolutionaries alike know that what lay in the centre of my life was not for sale, and could not be co-opted into any obvious cause... I am just a song-writer.... Won't Get Fooled Again - then - was a song that pleaded '….leave me alone with my family to live my life, so I can work for change in my own way….'.
A lot of conservatives will say that's precisely what is conservative.

Related post: "The 50 greatest conservative rock songs."

UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge agrees with my statement about "precisely what is conservative" and says:
[N]ote (1) the emphasis on there being an aspect of life which is not for sale, which echoes Edmund Burke's references to "the unbought grace of life," and (2) the desire to be left alone by both politicians and revolutionaries, so as to work for change individually, which echoes Burke's references to the "little platoons" of society, of which the family is first and foremost.

Althouse studying for her last law school exam.

My son John puts a lot of effort into scanning old family photographs, which he uploads to Flickr. Here's one of me, studying for my last law school exam:

Studying for last law school exam

My last law school exam was Federal Courts, which was also the first subject I taught as a lawprof.

Can you tell that I had not gone near a professional haircutter in many years? Can you believe that those glasses were entirely fashionable in 1981, the year the photo was taken? Don't laugh! The glasses you're wearing right now will look stupid in a quarter of a century.

Michael Ochs and Phil Ochs.

Here's an article about The Michael Ochs Archives of rock and roll photographs, with not enough photos at the link. (There's a nice one of Sonny and Cher with Bob Dylan, but you can't see the picture that's in the paper NYT of Gladys Knight as a child singing on "The Amateur Hour.")

Michael Ochs is the brother of Phil Ochs:
A contemporary of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, Phil Ochs was one of the primary topical songwriters and folksingers of the 60's, protesting the escalating Vietnam conflict ("I Ain't Marching Anymore") and the struggle for civil rights in the South ("Here's to the State of Mississippi"). As his causes lost relevance in the 70's, his chronic depression became unbearable. He hanged himself in 1976.

A longtime friend, the publicist Bobbi Cowan, thinks Michael Ochs collects his photographs, primarily of 1950's and 60's musicians, as a way of "preserving time so that people don't forget what that time was about, what Phil was about." Michelle Phillips is more direct: "I think it's part of keeping his brother alive."
As his causes lost relevance in the 70's, his chronic depression became unbearable. That's a lot of causality to package up in one sentence. Does a songwriter gravitate toward protest songs because he is depressed or is he depressed because of the things that move him to protest? If he gains an audience protesting a political situation that then changes, will he become more depressed or less depressed? A human being is too complicated to subject to general questions like that.

Back in the 1960s, I used to listen to Phil Ochs. I especially remember this one:
So do your duty, boys, and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die

I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over

One-legged veterans will greet the dawn
And they're whistling marches as they mow the lawn
And the gargoyles only sit and grieve
The gypsy fortune teller told me that we'd been deceived
You only are what you believe

I believe the war is over
It's over, it's over
Serve your country in her suicide.

This was from one of his later albums, which, I think I remember correctly, turned away from hardcore protest music. Notice how those lyrics give predominance to his inner life. You can go on with your involvement in the war, but I'm saying that beliefs are everything, and I'm going to believe in what I want to be true, that the war is over. This was a theme in the late 60s and early 70s, when artists got weary of political engagement and began to indulge in a naive form of politics that was really more about personal psychology. I hear that theme in John Lennon's "War is over/If you want it/War is over/Now."

RIP, Phil Ochs.

"There is a market segment we call the 'man cook with fire' types.'"

For him:

NYT gaffe of the day: "François Truffaut's 'Breathless.'"

From a pretty interesting article about copyright and the fair use of film clips in documentaries.

ADDED: And I can just hear some fact checker whine, but Truffaut's name is on the IMDB page!

Killed for wearing shorts.

"An Iraqi tennis coach and two of his players were killed because they were wearing shorts, apparently in violation of a warning by Islamic extremists."