November 18, 2006

Two approaches to a well-lit space.

If you walk in at street level from the high end of the slope, you might go up to the railing and look down into the Rotunda like this little girl:

Looking into the Rotunda

Maybe that's more exciting than your half eaten candy bar. There's music. It's Clare Norelle, the multilingual folksinger:

The Rotunda crowd

Isn't it sweet how there's room for little kids to dance right in front of the singer or to lean on the stage? Anyone could traipse in and enjoy the show. Look at all the kids and parents sprawled on the carpeted tiers, lit by the natural light of the dome over the Rotunda:

The Rotunda crowd

But I entered from the low end of the slope of State Street, and the approach from this angle was a bit like "The Shining":

Spoon shadow.

Place setting with spoon image.

I wanted to leave you with an image. I like a picture at the top of the blog when I'm going to be away for a while. How long? Not that long. Don't worry. Just a few hours. I've got some writing to do and need to exile myself from the lure of WiFi.

This is a picture from a few days back. I thought this place setting was somewhat freaky with that powdered sugar negative image of the missing spoon. It has a kind of nuclear war vibe... to me, anyway. A nuclear war vibe... ridiculous phrase!

Note the cell phone on the table. I'm not normally the cell-phone-on-the-table type but that was there because we were missing a guest and I needed to be available. But I can't put myself with the best-behaved cell phoners anymore.

Here's a list of what I did during one phone call yesterday (and bear in mind that I was holding the phone to my ear, not using an earpiece):
Paced around the house
Got in the car and drove to the bank
Used the drive-in teller to deposit a check
Drove to the grocery store
Got $145 worth of stuff into the cart (and used my elbow when turning corners)
Checked out
Got my stuff into the car
Drove home
Unloaded the car
Put the groceries away
Cooked dinner (that is, heated up soup)
Absurd, it's true. But is it more or less absurd that a nuclear-war-evoking spoon shadow next to the creme brulée on two square plates?

Should the Burqa -- and other face coverings -- be banned?

That's the proposal in the Netherlands:
[Immigration Minister Rita] Verdonk insisted the burqa was not an acceptable part of public life in the Netherlands.

"The Cabinet finds it undesirable that face-covering clothing - including the burqa - is worn in public places for reasons of public order, security and protection of citizens," she said.

Critics of the proposed ban say it would violate civil rights.

The main Muslim organisation in the Netherlands, CMO, said the plan was an "over-reaction to a very marginal problem", the Associated Press reported.

But the minister told the BBC that social interaction would be easier if faces were not covered.

"It is very important that we can see each other and can communicate with each other. Because we are so tolerant we want to respect each other."
Because we are so tolerant... It's an interesting perspective. You claim to be tolerant, but then you want to prevent people from doing something their religion motivates them to do. Obviously, some things motivated by religion really are so harmful to public order that a ban shows no disrespect toward religion. (For example: murder.) The question is where to draw the line, and hiding one's face is not an obvious harm. Verdonk cites the need to interact and communicate, and people who cover their faces do seem to be excluding others. Yet, it is part of freedom to decline to interact with other people as you go about your life, walking around in public, and it's a common thing to dress in a way that signals to people you are not open to interaction. But if you lived in a place where more and more people were entirely hiding their faces and signaling exclusion of others, life would feel scarily different. At what point would you want to use government power to make them stop?

"Controversial Assignment Leads To Teacher's Resignation."

Controversial? It's completely insane. (Via Memeorandum.)

"At the nearby Trattoria del Castello, guests could order a 'Tom e Kat' - a basket of parmesan cheese with truffles and mushrooms."

So who's the truffle and who's the mushroom? I don't know, but I'm so relieved that now -- finally -- when the mushroomy/truffly Tom Cruise snuggles up in his baskety bed with his truffly/mushroomy Katie Holmes, that it will be with blessing of matrimony, sprinkled over them like Parmesan cheese. They traveled to Italy for this wedding, which didn't particularly tap into Italian tradition, since it was a Scientology wedding, where, I'm further relieved to see, the couple takes a vow "never to go to bed without communicating about any differences." I do hope this vow can be met with brief statements, otherwise every night becomes a talk fest, and what if you're really tired?

But here's the part about the Scientology wedding -- and having it in Italy -- that really gets me:
A spokesman for the Church of Scientology for Rome, Fabrizio D'Agostino, said an exchange of vows with a Scientology rite was not legally recognized in Italy, and would have to be preceded or followed by a civil union.

[Bracciano Mayor Patrizia] Riccioni said her office had not received a request to celebrate a civil wedding as of midday Friday.
Oh, for the love of... Hubbard! They aren't even getting married!!!

Can these two characters get off the public stage... perhaps by burrowing under a huge pile of shredded cheese?

UPDATE: According to the last line of this report of the wedding: "the couple had a legal civil ceremony before they left L.A., their publicists said."

"That is not Michigan," elites exclaim, looking at how Michigan citizens voted.

In the aftermath of Michigan's vote against affirmative action:
"The voters went to the polls and Proposition 2 passed, and we have to live with it now," said Matt Allen, the mayor's spokesman. "As of December 22, there can be no more gender or race preferences."...

"There will be both offense lawsuits and defensive lawsuits filed to understand what this actually means for Michigan," said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the Michigan office of the American Civil Liberties Union. "I do think it's necessary for the courts to slow this thing down and . . . interpret some of the language."...

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D) and her Republican opponent, businessman Dick DeVos, opposed Proposal 2, as did much of the state's government, business and civic elite....

"I am standing here today to tell you that I will not allow this university to go down the path of mediocrity," [University of Michigan president Mary Sue] Coleman said. "That is not Michigan. Diversity makes us strong, and it is too critical to our mission, too critical to our excellence and too critical to our future to simply abandon."
The article describes the way these elites could not translate their reasons for supporting affirmative action into something that resonated with voters. Meanwhile, Jennifer Gratz -- who failed to win also won over the U.S. Supreme Court with her reasons for opposing affirmative action -- conveyed a message that voters responded to. One reason for her success, it seems, is the large number of citizens turned away from the University each year. People don't know exactly why the University rejects them, but missing out on such a significant opportunity offered by the state naturally makes them sensitive to arguments that the process was unfair. It is not surprising that they are hostile to the assurances by the elite decisionmakers that they have a benevolent plan and they are deploying their power competently.

Here in Wisconsin, where voters recently defied the elites by voting against same-sex marriage (58 percent to 42 percent) and for the death penalty (55 percent to 45 ), we need to realize that what happened in Michigan could easily happen here. Surely, this state is full of people who wanted to attend UW-Madison -- many of whom felt entitled to attend -- and received rejection letters. After the marriage and death penalty votes, it would be foolish -- regardless of how many liberals we elect to public office -- to rely complacently on the state's progressive tradition.

CORRECTION: Jennifer Gratz won her lawsuit against the University of Michigan. She challenged the undergraduate admissions program. There was a second case, Grutter v. Bollinger, decided the same year, that upheld the University of Michigan Law School's approach to affirmative action.

November 17, 2006

Finally! It's the podcast!

Maybe you didn't think there would ever be a new episode of the podcast, but here it is, Audible Althouse #71. I talk about why I haven't been podcasting, the CNN "e-lection" night party,, Buster Keaton, Rod Stewart, O.J. Simpson, that guy who had sex with a deer carcass... etc., etc. It's a podcast, in other words.

Stream it right through your computer here. But all crazily busy people know it's best to subscribe on iTunes:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

Wait a sec.

I've finally done another podcast. Just finishing it up... and drinking a glass of red wine, which is incredibly good for you... did you know?

The return of the silicone breast.

Now, once again, you can get that special, smooshy siliconicality you love so much.

Loose norms.

This morning I exiled myself at Espresso Royale -- no computer, just a pad and pen. I needed to get some writing done. Much as I like to write on the computer, I had to cut myself off from any temptations. But there are always the temptations of the visual world. Like that truck out there:

Because vice matters.

But pay attention. Pay attention. Hmmmm.... Staring at an old page of the notes I took back at the conference... Even with the help of that cappuccino...What do these old notes even mean?


WWSD. It must mean what would Scalia do, right?

But what's this other thing?

Puzzling old notes

Well, the norms of my note taking are loose.

The same place, in different places.

Two photos.

"The euphoria that I had about the election is giving way to nagging doubts about the Democrat's strategic prowess."

Says Bob Wright -- at about 2:20 on the new edition of How funny do you think Bob is trying to be, with his subtly overelaborate locutions and his poker face? I'm under the impression that he is trying to be hilarious, and I believe he's succeeding! He's the Buster Keaton of political talking heads... except Buster Keaton wasn't political... and Buster Keaton didn't talk. Despite all that, I'm getting a Buster Keaton vibe.

ADDED: I should say that most of the show is quite serious, though it's still amusing to the extent that intent wonkiness is amusing. And I should say that Mickey Kaus is also very funny. At the very beginning of the episode he's got some good prop humor (with a mask that isn't a Hillary Clinton mask), and, somewhere around the 25 minute mark, when Bob, needling him about his (shred of) optimism about Iraq, says he'd like him to speak at his funeral, Mickey's all: "Here's a man who threw his life away on something called 'diavlogs.'"

For $3.5 million, would you confess to murders for which you were certain you could not be prosecuted?

Ignore O.J. Simpson and his lurid, meaningless book. If you can.

When the gifts for teacher include a condo.

A lawsuit brought by parents of a severely autistic boy:
The Lins, immigrants from Taiwan, contend that what began as gestures of goodwill common in their native country soon spiraled out of control.

According to their claim, school and district faculty coerced them into buying extravagant presents, including St. John outfits, $1,000 gift certificates from Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's, a $700 dinner at the Four Seasons hotel, $500 a month in pastries for the school, and a "priceless" jade bracelet considered a family heirloom.

[Spokesperson Lynne] Arnold said that when Liya Lin's gift-giving waned, their son's care appeared to deteriorate. School employees "started getting more aggressive with her — calling her, telling her what they wanted" for gifts, Arnold said.

Those who received gifts sent the Lins thank-you cards, a dozen of which are included in their claim. One, from Jonathan's special-education teacher, Nancy Wilson, reads: "I love the jacket and coat! Wow!!" The coat and pearl necklace "will look so wonderful together! The gift card was such a wonderful surprise! You are so amazingly generous."
I have no idea whether these claims are true, but I find it awfully hard to believe that you can be functioning on a high enough level to have the money to do this -- Lin is a pediatrician -- and still be this clueless about the norms in your community -- even if you have come from elsewhere. And how could so many teachers believe they could behave like this?

The 2006 Weblog Awards.

They're taking nominations.

Discontinued categories: Best Group Blog (though there still is best individual blog, interestingly), Best Blog Design (who cares anymore... is that it?), and Best Religious Blog (yet there remain categories for science, technology, and medicine...).

November 16, 2006

"The shelves and bench-tops were crowded with volt-ammeters, rheostats, transformers, arc lamps whole and in pieces..."

"... half-used carbons, calcium burners, Oxone tablets, high-tension magnetos, alternators store-bought and home-made, vibrator coils, cut-outs and interruptors, worm drives, Nicol prisms, generating valves, glassblowing torches, Navy surplus Thalofide cells, brand-new Aeolight tubes freshly fallen from the delivery truck, British Blattnerphone components and tons of other stuff Chick had never recalled seeing before."

Either you're the sort of person who yearns to read 1000+ pages of that sort of thing or you're not. (Via A&L Daily.)

IN THE COMMENTS: George points to a grand literary tradition of listing. That makes me think of the not-so-grand pop culture list craze. There's a nice take on that here (with a comment by me somewhere in there). And don't forget 1977's "Book of Lists," a page of which I scanned the other day and -- given the new timeliness -- feel like posting again:

A page from

(Click here to enlarge.)

1. Who I thought I heard. 2. Who it really was. 3. What I think it means.

1. Roseanne Barr. 2. Hillary Clinton. 3. Hillary Clinton will not get have a tough time getting elected President.

When I got home from work today, I flicked on the TV, but I didn't look at it. The channel happened -- just happened -- to be C-Span. Hillary Clinton was giving a speech about the minimum wage, but I wasn't paying attention to what was being said. I was just hearing the voice, thinking it sounded familiar, and wondering who it was. I concluded it was Roseanne Barr and started to focus, waiting for the punchline. I glanced over at the screen and saw it was Hillary.

Oh, no! No, no, no!
How is that going to resonate with ordinary Americans? Personally, I like -- or have liked -- Roseanne, and I don't have a problem with women sounding like that. And maybe I shouldn't put myself in the place of other Americans and imagine their resistance to certain womanly types. I'm just offering up my observation for whatever it's worth. I can't see into the future, and I don't know who the first woman President will be. (I assume there will be one some day.)

I don't know what psychological barriers people will need to cross to accept a woman President. She has to be strong enough to overcome the doubts people will have that a woman won't be strong enough, and she has to have some undefined additional quality that makes it acceptable for her to be a woman and to be that strong.

Can the first woman to get at all close succeed in leaping the whole way? I'm not going to say she can't.

IN THE COMMENTS: Someone posts a link to this clip of Don Imus and Rush Limbaugh listening to and freaking out about Hillary's voice. I think there's a pretty simple solution. Hillary Clinton needs to be carefully miked so that her voice is plenty loud for the room without her trying to project as if she were not miked, and she needs to remember to speak in a microphone voice. Her problem is very similar to Howard Dean's disastrous scream: What might seem fine and even thrilling in a crowded, lively room sounds ugly on the recording. I realize that you've got to excite the people in the room and the recording will also be bad if the crowd is listless and unresponsive, but it's the recording that millions will hear, and anything awful will be replayed endlessly. In that clip, Hillary Clinton goes into what Don and Rush hear as an insane hag voice because she's trying to make sure that when she gets to the end of that line the crowd will burst into a great, roaring cheer. In person, she gets her crowd roar and feels successful, but she's generating audio clips that will be used to make people hate her.

"Who knew the tankini phenomenon all started with a dude?"

Don't look! I will not be responsible for any trauma you may suffer if you look.


1. Yesterday, I was driving in my car, listening to my favorite XM radio channel, 60s on 6, and they played the great Temptations recording "I'm Losing You," and I could hear the Rod Stewart version of the song playing in my head. Rod's version was better.

2. For quite some time, as I've watched so many people wearing super-low-cut pants, I've been thinking the next step in shockingly low cut pants would be... well, it's what Rod's showing in the picture at the link. It would probably be more amusingly done with some sort of fake fur, though.

"The election was not an affirmation of the other party’s program...."

John McCain said at the Federalist Society convention today:
Try as hard as I could, I couldn’t find much evidence that my Democratic friends were offering anything that resembled a coherent platform or principled leadership on the critical issues that confront us today.

Nor do I believe Americans rejected our values and governing philosophy. On the contrary, I think they rejected us because they felt we had come to value our incumbency over our principles, and partisanship, from both parties, was no longer a contest of ideas, but an ever cruder and uncivil brawl over the spoils of power.

I am convinced that a majority of Americans still consider themselves conservatives or right of center. They still prefer common sense conservatism to the alternative. Americans had elected us to change government, and they rejected us because they believed government had changed us. We must spend the next two years reacquainting the public and ourselves with the reason we came to office in the first place: to serve a cause greater than our self-interest.

Common sense conservatives believe that the government that governs least governs best; that government should do only those things individuals cannot do for themselves, and do them efficiently. Much rides on that principle: the integrity of the government, our prosperity; and every American’s self-respect, which depends, as it always has, on one’s own decisions and actions, and cannot be provided as another government benefit....
Well observed.

(Sorry, no link. The text of the speech was emailed to me. But here's a news story noting the speech.)

"The president has exceeded his constitutional authority by intruding into the independent powers of the judiciary."

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals brushes off President Bush and the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that 51 Mexicans on death row in the United States were entitled to “review and reconsideration” of their claims that their rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations had been violated.

The convention requires that arrested foreigners be told of their right to speak with consular officials. If asked, local officials must contact the appropriate consulate. Both actions, the convention says, must be taken “without delay.”

The international court added that American courts performing the required review and reconsideration could not rely on a doctrine known as procedural default to decline to hear arguments not raised at trial. That is at odds with recent death penalty jurisprudence in the United States and with state and federal laws that limit what kinds of arguments may be made if they are not raised early on.

When the question of whether the international tribunal’s ruling must be followed reached the United States Supreme Court last year, President Bush issued a memorandum to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales directing state courts to abide by the decision of the tribunal.

No further Murtha.

Steny Hoyer wins the vote for House Majority Leader by a wide 149-86 margin.

UPDATE: Kathryn Jean Lopez sez:
I was floating around the Capitol this morning as the voting was happening and the Republican staff response was just a wee bit bummed that Hoyer won. Murtha would obviously make for, well, a lot of colorful crap, to use his lingo. Hoyer's obviously the better choice for the Dems and will be more effective (and better for the country than Murtha, even if he's all wrong).
Mickey Kaus quips:
For some reason House Democrats decided they didn't want an old-school influence jockey who couldn't string five coherent sentences together without embarrassing himself to be their #2 national spokesman.

Is a burrito a sandwich? Is a dead animal an animal?

One thing I like about law is the way it can become important and serious to answer what would otherwise be a pointless, stupid question. Earlier this week, everyone was talking about whether a burrito is a sandwich. (It mattered because there was a contract barring a second sandwich place at a shopping center.) Today, the question is whether a dead animal is an animal. It matters because a man who had sex with a dead deer is charged with the crime of having sex with an animal:
“I’m a little surprised this issue hasn’t been tackled before in another case,” [Judge Michael] Lucci said.

The Webster’s dictionary defines “animal” as “any of a kingdom of living beings,” [the man's lawyer] said.

If you include carcasses in that definition, he said, “you really go down a slippery slope with absurd results.”

[The lawyer] argued: When does a turkey cease to be an animal? When it is dead?

When it is wrapped in plastic packaging in the freezer? When it is served, fully cooked?...

“The common and ordinary meaning of a word can be found in how people actually use the word,” [the district attorney] wrote in his response to the motion.

When a person’s pet dog dies, he told Lucci, the person still refers to the dog as his or her dog, not a carcass.

“It stays a dog for some time,” [the D.A.] said....

“It did not lose its essence as a deer, an animal, when it died,” he said.
That's getting pretty metaphysical... more metaphysical than the burrito's essence of sandwich!

Note: Here in Wisconsin, a court dismissed a criminal case when it found there was no written law making it a crime to have sex with a dead human being. The prosecutor -- faced with behavior that is far more serious than some idiot having sex with a dead deer -- didn't try to argue it was a rape case. [CORRECTION: The prosecutor did try to argue that the case fit the sexual assault statute, which has specific language relating to a deceased victim: "This section applies whether a victim is dead or alive at the time of the sexual contact or sexual intercourse." The judge rejected this argument, it seems, because, as the defendant's attorney contended, the legislature included that language to prevent a murderer from escaping a rape charge by saying the death preceded the sexual act. The statute's use of the word "victim," rather than "corpse" supports this interpretation. The prosecutor's argument in the deer case, about how the deer remains a deer for some space of time after its death, seems similar to the idea the defense used in that earlier case. So what is the statutory language in the deer case? The crime charged is §944.17(2)(c), which is "an act of sexual gratification involving his or her sex organ and the sex organ, mouth or anus of an animal." This would exclude the "Portnoy's Complaint" sort of behavior -- masturbating with a slab of raw liver -- but it also makes it rather clear that the concern is not for the animal's welfare but about the perversion of the person engaging in the behavior of "gratifying" himself.]

Added observation: The expression "slippery slope" is grossing me out here. I'm thinking of the raw liver in "Portnoy's Complaint." (There's a search-inside-the-book function at the link, so go ahead and relive the excitement.)

UPDATE: The dead deer lover's conviction is upheld.

Sacha Baron Cohen, working as a tool.

Rolling Stone has an interview with Sacha Baron Cohen that's billed as his only out-of-character interview. (Via Metafilter.) He's really smart -- smart enough to play idiots brilliantly -- and I'm not positive I want to hear him explain the theory behind it. Is it a little like a magician ruining his magic by revealing what the trick is? Let's read it anyway:
"Borat essentially works as a tool," Baron Cohen says. "By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it's anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism. 'Throw the Jew Down the Well' [a song performed at a country & western bar during Da Ali G Show] was a very controversial sketch, and some members of the Jewish community thought that it was actually going to encourage anti-Semitism. But to me it revealed something about that bar in Tucson. And the question is: Did it reveal that they were anti-Semitic? Perhaps. But maybe it just revealed that they were indifferent to anti-Semitism.

"I remember, when I was in university I studied history, and there was this one major historian of the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw. And his quote was, 'The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference.' I know it's not very funny being a comedian talking about the Holocaust, but I think it's an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany had to be a raving anti-Semite. They just had to be apathetic."

Baron Cohen doesn't make this grand statement with confidence. He makes it shyly, as if he's speaking out of turn. It's interesting to watch Baron Cohen get bashful, because it is the exact opposite of the characters he portrays....

There is a certain sadism to Baron Cohen, who seems most comfortable when making others uncomfortable. To some degree, Borat and Ali G are safe refuges for him, masks he can hide behind. If everything that comes out of your mouth is parody, then you never have to be accountable for what you say -- because you didn't really mean it anyway. You only said it to lead your interview subjects to the thin line between patience and intolerance in order for their true personality to reveal itself....

"I think I'd find it hard to," he admits. "I think you can hide behind the characters and do things that you yourself find difficult."
One hears this sort of thing about many comics. It's really the biggest cliché about comics, isn't it?

James Lipton -- of "Inside the Actor's Studio" -- describes
the release form he signed before letting Ali G interview him and what an obvious red flag it was. (Go to 17:45 in the audio clip.) The person you're talking to may not be the person he says he is. You waive your right to sue. He may do things that will embarrass you. Etc. I just watched the episode from Season 1 of "Da Ali G Show" where Lipton appears, and it's very clear that Lipton understands the situation. Why did he do it? "I looked at this guy, and he looked very funny and very clever." Lipton says the interview went on for 2 hours and expresses admiration for the improvised performance. Lipton says that in the end, after hearing Ali G say all sorts of racist and sexist things and worrying about how the edit would be done, he told him that if they did not use the material that establishes that Lipton was not complicit in the racism and sexism, he would test that release contract in a lawsuit. In the final cut, we see Lipton firmly chiding Ali G about his language. But Lipton is unusually smart and he -- of all people -- is onto the ways of actors. Easy as it may be to see what's in that release and that Cohen is an actor... a lot of people aren't going to see it.

"I chose to be a writer rather than a politician for a reason."

Andrew Sullivan describes what it feels like to be nonpartisan. (If people don't believe him that he's nonpartisan... I can empathize.)

"Experience in the minority and knowing what the tactics and rules of engagement are."

Why Trent Lott won the vote for minority whip, according to Senator John Thune (who supported him).

More here:
In the throes of his crisis in 2002, Mr. Lott spent hours bunkered in his home in Pascagoula, Miss., methodically calling friends and colleagues — 50 calls a day — in an effort to save his job. It was a rigorous and disciplined process, similar to the one he followed in recent days as he campaigned quietly for the whip post. He contacted colleagues by phone and in person, emphasizing his ability to get results, his encyclopedic grasp of Senate rules and his skill in working closely with the House....

Mr. Lott largely undertook his campaign for whip in one-on-one discussions, figuring that a visible effort would bring attention to his past troubles and perhaps scare off potential supporters.

“Nobody knew where he was; it was a stealth candidacy,” said former Senator John B. Breaux, Democrat of Louisiana and one of Mr. Lott’s closest friends. “His strategy was, ‘Run silent, run deep,’ like the old submarine.”

November 15, 2006

The Wisconsin gulag.

Seventh Circuit Judge Terence Evans on the Behavioral Modification Program at the Wisconsin Supermax prison:
"Stripped naked in a small prison cell with nothing except a toilet; forced to sleep on a concrete floor or slab; denied any human contact; fed nothing but 'nutri-loaf;' and given just a modicum of toilet papers - four squares - only a few times. Although this might sound like a stay at a Soviet gulag in the 1930s, it is, according to the claims in this case, Wisconsin in 2002..."

"The bill will turn Pakistan into a free-sex zone."

Worried Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the leader of the alliance of Pakistan's religious political parties about the Women's Protection Bill, which will authorize the prosecution of rape outside of the Sharia courts (where four male witnesses are required). Surely, you understand Rahman's logic.

Swarthmore, conquering heteronormativity with pornographic chalkings.

That's what some people think:
At Swarthmore College, the first day of Coming Out Week each fall dawns reliably, the first light falling on sexually explicit messages chalked on campus sidewalks by gay student groups the night before. It is a tradition, organizers say, meant to facilitate free expression among gay students and encourage all students to question the reigning “heteronormative” culture....

Among the most controversial chalkings were a “cartoonish” depiction of a female with a “strap-on” device engaged in a**l s*x with the caption, “A**l S*x is for Everyone,” and a drawing of a vagina on the patio of the college’s dining hall that was intentionally washed away, said Tatiana Cozzarelli, a junior at Swarthmore and one of the organizers of the National Coming Out Week activities...

“There’s not one message of the chalkings. But some of them challenge heteronormativity and make straight people think about their sexuality in a way they often haven’t in the past.”...

Students counter-chalked following the original chalkings, and after a rain, gay students chalked again, Westphal said — an escalation of a “chalk talk” that hasn’t been seen in previous years. Cozzarelli said many gay students were disappointed with the counter-chalking, feeling that they had one week per year to express their voices, “not to create a dialogue of voices of people who aren’t normally silenced on top of the chalkings of people who are silenced.” One of the counter-chalkings, “Why don’t you shut the f**k up already?” was particularly upsetting, Cozzarelli said, as it “contributed to this norm of silencing queer people.”
Well, at least they're having a dialogue.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ron says something especially funny.

Palladian finds reason to exclaim "Geez, aren't there any gay boys at Swarthmore?" and says:
May I, once again, register my extreme irritation at the term "heteronormative"? Not only is it an ugly "word", but it's expressing a stupid concept. Of course heterosexuality is "normative"! If these silly queer club kidz (who, no doubt, consider themselves members of the "Reality-based" community) spent less time chalking strap-ons and taking Peace and Gender studies courses and more time studying biology, they'd understand that reproduction is a biological imperative and is naturally the primary focus of all life. There's nothing discriminatory about this, and nothing that can or should be changed. It doesn't invalidate the people who aren't geared toward the opposite sex.

What any marginally intelligent person with an "activist" streak should be focused on is constructive changes to public policy, not "challenging heteronormativity" or silly pseudo-psychological street theater that does little but annoy and disgust people who have more important things to think about. And if you can't stop doing this sort of thing, don't be so damned serious about it for God's sake! Becoming self-righteous about someone defacing your chalk pussy drawing makes you look both humorless, naive and, above all, stupid.
Ernst brings up Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons":
As I recall the story was that gay students chalked explicit drawings, and the campus maintenance workers erased it because they believed it was anti-gay. Of course the campus gay groups demanded an apology for the insensitive and opporessive erasure of chalk drawings.
Ha ha. Perfect!

Must we keep calling Nancy Pelosi a grandmother?

There's no male politician we keep calling a grandfather! It's ridiculous. It's offending me. But, looking into the matter, I see it seems to be Pelosi herself who is encouraging this sexist labeling.

Chief Justice Roberts -- he's telegenic.

And he's helping the home viewer tolerate the power of the judiciary... says Dahlia Lithwick:
Unlike Justice David Souter, who loathes the cameras to the point of some kind of pathology, Roberts embraces the lens, which adores him right back. Unlike Justice Clarence Thomas, whose view of all media is—perhaps understandably — constrained by an us/them isolationism, and unlike Justice Antonin Scalia, whose prickly contempt for the media keeps crashing head-on with his desire to have a voice in the broader national conversation about the law, only the chief understands the whole honey/vinegar problem.

Individual politics and ideology notwithstanding, what's most important about this unprecedented new era of the Talk Show Jurist is just this: As Americans begin to see their justices as real people with real concerns and real dandruff, their fear of an isolated, elitist, and out-of-touch judiciary begins to recede. We may not all be completely sold on Roberts' idea of minimalism or on O'Connor's opposition to judicial oversight. But we are at least beginning to see our justices taking their case to the American people and grappling to justify their own role in this democracy. Trivial as it may sound, it's awfully nice to know that they care enough to finally talk to us.
Despite the seeming perfection of John Roberts, we need to know how to resist the telegenic personality. You can be good on TV and still make bad decisions and bad on TV -- or completely TV-averse -- and be a great judge. Surely some great judges are ugly and gruff or unable to string words together in crisp TV-sized bites. And some judges who would overreach and abuse their power can look good and sound nice and friendly on the tube.

But I do agree with Lithwick that it's good for the judges to talk to us and to help people understand the judicial role. What the judges say when they go on TV is -- to my ear -- an astoundingly basic and repetitive civics lesson, but based on my own experience, it is a lesson people find strangely difficult to absorb.

Remembering Abscam... and why Murtha shouldn't be majority leader.

Ruth Marcus reminds us:
"I'm not interested -- at this point," he says of the dangled bribe. "You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't, you know." Indeed, he acknowledges, even though he needs to be careful -- "I expect to be in the [expletive] leadership of the House," he notes -- the money's awfully tempting. "It's hard for me to say, just the hell with it."

This is John Murtha, incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi's choice to be her majority leader, snared but not charged in the Abscam probe in 1980. "The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.
I hadn't remembered that. My objection to Murtha as a leader is based on an opinion I formed watching him on "Meet the Press" back in June. I just don't think he's mentally with it at all. He was embarrassingly inarticulate and confused.

"If I had a hammer, I am hammering in the morning."

Just an imagined song lyric, running through my head, as I think about grammar, on the occasion of seeing the TV show title: "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened."

November 14, 2006

"Chocolate thins blood and protects the heart in the same way as aspirin."

Okay, then. We'll eat chocolate!
You have to eat at least a couple of tablespoons of dark chocolate a day to see some benefit -- and it's still not as effective as a single baby aspirin, which is usually prescribed to heart patients.

Matching aspirin would require eating several bars of chocolate a day, which could lead to other problems, such as obesity and diabetes -- to say nothing of tooth decay.

"I would never tell people to go ahead and eat chocolate because chocolate travels with a lot of friends, like fat and sugar," said epidemiologist Diane Becker, who led the study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
So.... Never mind. Why I read the nutrition news.... I don't know.

IN THE COMMENTS: Lots of first hand experience with heart attacks. (Why isn't there any first heart experience with hand attacks?)


Some people wanted to know who was the 6,666,666th visitor to this blog. Here's some info from Site Meter:
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It does seem a little evil... just a little.

Does the University live up to its own diversity values?

Adam Schmidt, a UW junior who voted to amend the Wisconsin constitution to ban same-sex marriage, has this op-ed in today's Wisconsin State Journal:
In a statement Wednesday specifically crafted for the student body - on university letterhead - Interim Dean of Students Lori Berquam expressed her "extreme disappointment" in the marriage amendment's passage, characterizing the decision of 1.2 million Wisconsin voters a "strike against equality" and a "shameful aberration."

Further, Dean Berquam's remarks were deliberate to thank those who "fought against" the amendment and gave praise to "young people and students (who) overwhelmingly rejected the amendment," seemingly disapproving my convictions and rejecting my value to the university community...

On a university campus obsessed with equality, diversity and freedom of self-expression, I prayed there would be room for my opinion as well.

Most aggravating, Berquam's remarks come mere months after administrators rolled-out the campus "Think" campaign to encourage respect for everyone's views.

Chancellor Wiley has said, "We want a campus that embraces difference and where respect is rampant."
I've been critical of the "Think. Respect" program for various reasons, but not really on this ground. Schmidt raises the question of whether a University that promotes diversity and respectful communication can also express some specific ideas of its own. I think it can. For example, university officials can -- and should -- express a belief that men and women are equal. But an individual student is free to argue that they are not.

My objection to "Think. Respect" is that it pressures students to be respectful when they interact with each other, but I think they have a right to express ideas with harsh brutality. They are entitled to scoff at and belittle someone who says something they find loathsome. It's preferable to frame articulate arguments based on facts and serious contemplation, but the university cannot require an idealized form of expression.

If the university expressed specific opinions in a disrespectful way, that would be hypocritical, but expressing specific opinions is not inconsistent with supporting diversity. As for the same-sex marriage issue, the university had a strong institutional reason for taking a position: The ban hurts our interest in attracting faculty and staff here. The university was not obliged to keep silent on the issue in order to prove our commitment to fostering open debate.

ADDED: Here's Berquam's letter (PDF). Read the whole thing and try to understand her motivations for writing it as well as Schmidt's reaction to it. Here's the final paragraph:
As we reflect upon the impact of this vote, it is important that we also remember the positives: young people and students overwhelmingly rejected the amendment. A diverse and wonderful coalition of people -- Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; numerous faith communities; people of all sexual orientations; lawyers, businessmen and women, clergy members, educators, and students; and people of all ages -- came together to fight this amendment. Though it may be but small consolation right now, it is hard to imagine that history will not one day prove this to be a shameful aberration in our otherwise progressive tradition.
The letter, taken as a whole, characterizes the passage of the amendment as a blow against diversity (because of the way it excludes gay persons from the institution of marriage) and makes an effort to soothe the feelings of students who feel disrespected by the vote. Schmidt's point is that he feels disrespected by the letter, because he voted for the amendment and he's getting the message that his university thinks people like him are bad: Why is there no concern about his feelings? Isn't part of caring about diversity making people who believe different things feel welcome in the university environment?

I do think the letter would have been much better if it had shown respect and understanding for the students who supported the amendment and that it is inconsistent with the values of the "Think. Respect" program. If you want students to be able to debate about controversial issues, like this one, you shouldn't foment the idea that those disagree with you are the kind of people you should shun. If you want to equip your students to operate in the real world, you should encourage them to try to understand why their opponents think they way they do and to develop the kinds of arguments that can persuade them.

The $160,406 truffle!

Will it be eaten or just displayed? Eaten!

"These people are poor and they were tricked by people more intelligent than us."

More news of the quickly expanding legal field we call Borat law.


The new Jimmy Carter book.

How many books is this man going to write, anyway? Do Jimmy Carter books make the perfect Christmas present in some circles?

A review:
It is not difficult to understand why Democrats wanted the publication of Jimmy Carter’s slim new book (216 pages of text, large print and no footnotes), with its tendentious title and its superficial analysis, delayed until today, a week after the election. The anti-Israel bias is so clear, the credulous description of Arab positions so cringe-producing, the key “facts” on which Carter relies so easily refuted by public documents, that the book is an embarrassment to Carter, the Democrats, the presidency and Americans.

That title is "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid."

"She can command $100,000 just to show up at a restaurant or club opening for an hour."

Well, I'm just amazed at that fact. But if you want to read a long meditation on why it's fun to hate Paris Hilton, go to the link. (Via A&L Daily.)


Washed out chalking.

Faded chalking

Life was vivid once:

Chalk artist

"The Internet is an environment. You can't be addicted to the environment."

That's one position. The other is that internet addiction is a big problem:
"The Internet problem is still in its infancy," said lead study author Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist and director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford. No single online activity is to blame for excessive use, he said. "They're online in chat rooms, checking e-mail every two minutes, blogs. It really runs the gamut. [The problem is] not limited to porn or gambling" Web sites....

Excessive Internet use should be defined not by the number of hours spent online but "in terms of losses," said Maressa Hecht Orzack, a Harvard University professor and director of Computer Addiction Services at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., founded in 1995. "If it is a loss [where] you are not getting to work, and family relationships are breaking down as a result around it and this is something you can't handle, then it's too much."

Since the early 1990s, several clinics have been established in the United States to treat heavy Internet users. They include the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, in Bradford, Pa., and the Connecticut-based Center for Internet Behavior....
Uh-oh, I'm sensing convoluted recovery-movement styles of deploying power. I'm siding with the guy who says you can't be addicted to an environment.

(Bonus gripe: I've had it with "Caught in the Web" as a headline for articles about the internet.)

ADDED: La Shawn Barber has this post on internet addiction... with lots of comments.

AND: Eugene Volokh raises the alarm about an even more widespread problem: Communication Addiction! All I can say is that I take some solace in our society's brilliant success at stemming the spread of Thinking Addiction. This rare but distastrous disease can be hard for friends and family to detect as the sufferers may appear to be doing nothing at all or to be engaged in some relatively innocuous activity such as walking or doodling. These addicts fall prey to a dangerous sense of well-being or euphoria; they crave more and more time to think, often to the exclusion of family and friends; they may feel empty, depressed or irritable if they don't have time to think; often they lie to employers and family about activities -- e.g., "What are you thinking about?" "Nothing."; they have trouble stopping thinking; and this thinking may even interfere with school and work.

"Convoluted recovery-movement styles of deploying power."

Just a phrase that caught my eye in a review of the HBO documentary -- called "Thin" -- about an anorexia treatment center.

Sensory deprivation.

That last photograph makes me realize I'm suffering from sensory deprivation here in the depths of November in Madison, Wisconsin. I'm desperate for some visual stimulation around here. Maybe a thrilling blizzard or something.

November 13, 2006

It's the All New Mobile Footnote Check Station!

Here's something I've seen many times without laughing that suddenly amuses the hell out of me:

All New Mobile Footnote Check Station

I don't know if it's the obvious oldness of the thing labeled "all new," or if it's the idea that putting books on a wheeled cart was ever exciting enough to warrant a painted label trumpeting it's newness and mobility. Or is it that I have a vague memory of a time when the expression "check station" would seem very strikingly modern? Or is it poignancy of the variations in the typeface, the way it begs us to really feel how new "new" is and how mobile "mobile" is? Is it the crazy redundancy of the little check in a box at the end? Is there something funny about the idea of law students feeling really, really urgent about getting footnotes checked? Or is it the way -- despite the label -- it's quite obviously not a footnote check station at all?

ADDED: Or was it always meant to be funny, in some lost 1970s hippie way?

"We'd be very surprised if Lieberman switched parties."

"In fact, his refusal to take the option off the table makes it even less likely he will exercise it."

Are you resisting the ego-strengthening exercise of indiscriminate submission?

Amba worries about what bloggers are losing.

"The sad fate of George Allen's A-list advisers."

From TNR. Poor Ed Gillespie:
[CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. The macaca thing, I think that's what started all this. ...

How do you explain that? Coming up with a word used as an anti-black term in North Africa years ago. ... He just made up a word that we know can be traced back to North Africa where his mother came from? Do you believe that, that he just made up the word macaca out of nowhere?

GILLESPIE: Well I know that he calls his finance director Jabba. I don't know why, and I don't know where that comes from.

MATTHEWS: Jabba the Hut.
Poor Mary Matalin:
TUCKER CARLSON: Wait a second, Mary. ... [T]he Allen campaign has beat Jim Webb over the head with this piece he wrote. ...

MATALIN: ... [W]hat was offensive about that was the language that was used. You know me, Tucker--I am no raving feminist here. But any man that ever says, in any context, or professes to know something about any woman's horny dreams, is not somebody that I want representing me or even in the same room with me.

"I like your clothings. Are nice! Please may I buying? I want have sex with it."

It's dangerous to just say things like that to people on the street, even if you're playing an evil-but-lovable fictional character. Some guys will beat you up. But we don't feel sorry for Sacha Baron Cohen. Not only is he making a fortune with his Borat persona, but he also got rescued by Hugh Laurie.

Two concert venues: The Fillmore East and Las Vegas.

I see Prince has set up his act in a permanent spot in Las Vegas. I approve! He doesn't have to come to us. We'll make our pilgrimmage to him. And it will justify that trip to Las Vegas that might otherwise seem too ridiculous but which is actually pretty fun.

And Neil Young is putting out the album "Live at the Fillmore East: March 6 & 7, 1970."
[His band, Crazy Horse,] featured the guitarist Danny Whitten, who died in 1972; the drummer Ralph Molina; the bassist Billy Talbot; and Jack Nitzsche on electric piano. The rhythm section (except for Mr. Nitzsche) had only basic skills. The band was constructed for open-ended songs with a boom-boom-prap beat at a slouchy medium tempo — does any popular rock band play this slowly anymore? — and acres of Mr. Young’s soloing. (He had just found his true sound through a combination of the right guitar and the right amplifier, his tremolo bar imitating his trembly voice, the low-end roar counterbalancing that vulnerability.) But despite the slobby phrasing, the obdurate needling quality of Mr. Young’s straight eighth notes and the weird effect of a casual delivery at high volume, this music has a serene and direct purpose.

More than half the tracks are concise tunes, less than four minutes, including “Winterlong,” “Wonderin’ ” and “Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown.” But they’re just palate cleansers. The real action is in the long songs — a 12-minute “Down By the River,” in particular, and a 14-minute “Cowgirl in the Sand” — in which the band works within the dimensions of its gigantic, rolling, spacious sound. The record is a blast, but it’s also possibly the first stage in an entirely new way of understanding what Neil Young has done with his life.
Slobby phrasing, the obdurate needling quality... I love that! And please indulge this aging Baby Boomer's gloat: I was there!

"I like to attack Democrats. He likes to present a united front with Democrats."

Mickey Kaus says, referring to Robert Wright, in this New York Sun article about
A great virtue of diavlogs, Mr. Kaus said, is that they are an antidote to the cocoons bloggers can get into when linking to friends and pointing out stories they agree with. Having to convince another person in real time, he said, forces bloggers to confront alternative opinions, and prevents them from lapsing into complete disjuncture from reality....

Mr. Kaus said an advantage of video dialogs is they give one an indication of the human mind behind the byline: "You can't hide behind the printed page. It may raise your overall opinion of the speakers as ‘nice guys,'" Mr. Kaus said, but they can lower your sense of their "intellectual worth," because it's harder to maintain the dignity of appearing on a page and weighing in on chosen issues. He said the viewers realize: "These are human beings like everyone else."
So it's your chance to study the bloggers, to get them out from behind the written word, to see them in raw action. I can't help but compare that to the law school class -- the law school class at its Socratic best, anyway.

Speaking of law school, here's something from the article:
A course at Princeton with essayist John McPhee gave Mr. Wright the confidence to be a writer; otherwise, "I was destined for law school," he said.
Does that hurt? There are so many interesting people who almost went to law school... or who went to law school and ventured out onto some path other than law practice. Being a lawprof doesn't really count as venturing out, though, does it? I tend to think that the lawprof is the least venturesome law school graduate.... the one who dared not even venture into the practice of law.

But don't get me wrong! Being a lawprof is a wonderful career -- I say in my role as the chair of the Appointments Committee here -- especially if they don't stop you from blogging... and being on the incredibly cool -- if supremely nerdy --

(And no extra credit for the first commenter to cite "White and Nerdy." I think Bob and Mickey know bloggingheads is "too white and nerdy.")

November 12, 2006

"Through the long, bloody summer and fall of 1864, the South had hung on only because of the belief that the North might tire of the conflict."

"But Lincoln did not tire. Instead, he doubled the bet--and won the war," writes William Stuntz (via Instapundit).

Of course, he's talking about Iraq:
Why do insurgent gangs, who have vastly smaller resources and manpower than the American soldiers they fight, continue to try to kill those soldiers? The answer is, because they believe they only have to kill a few more, and the soldiers will leave. They need not inflict a military defeat (which would be impossible, given the strength of the American military)--all they need to do is survive until American voters decide to throw in the towel, which might happen at any moment.

The proper response to that calculation is to make emphatically clear that the fight will not end until one side or the other wins, decisively
Much more at the link. Stuntz's main point is that people -- like Rumsfeld -- who apply the principles of business to war are making a profound mistake.

It's time for calm reflection about... "Snakes on a Plane."

Rob Walker is pretty smart in this analysis of the "Snakes on a Plane" phenomenon. (Note: the phenomenon ≠ the film.)
“I always feel kind of bad for them,” [Brian] Finkelstein says now of the film’s marketers. “They make this kind of action movie, and people get a hold of it” and create a tremendous amount of attention and awareness that “doesn’t actually match the movie,” he says. “You could see where they tried to make the movie a little more campy, to meet expectations.” But there was still a fundamental genre disconnect. “They were in kind of an awkward position,” he says.

The most obvious precedent for “snakes on a plane” as blockbuster phrase was not “Blair Witch Project” but “all your base are belong to us,” a badly translated phrase from a Japanese video game that a few years ago became the inspiration for many, many Internet-spread jokes, gags, Photoshop riffs, computer animations and T-shirts. The game was something called Zero Wing, but nobody mistook the “all your base” thing for “citizen marketing” or even an expression of fandom. In fact, most participants in the “snakes on a plane” phenomenon were not fans “collaborating” with New Line. Instead, they were a disparate ensemble collaborating with one another on a separate work. New Line didn’t get a free ride from these creators; if anything, the creators got a boost from New Line: The movie promoted the hype more than the hype promoted the movie.
The movie promoted the hype more than the hype promoted the movie. Is this the way things will be in the future, with "instant, mutable, unmoored" doings on the web taking the place of thought-out cultural productions like movies? I wonder.

There's something about getting absorbed into the web that changes the whole structure of your mind, I think. (And I acknowledge the theory out there -- I read it on the web! -- that, in my personal case, I'm simply crazy. So don't go by just me.) I have lost all taste for things that are planned out and long. I no longer want to sit through anything. Once there's a script that's going to be followed, I'm looking around for something to click to see what else is happening.

ADDED: And as soon as I'm halfway into expressing some theory, I get antsy and look for a "publish" button to hit before any more time passes.

More election night nostalgia.

Downloading my Veterans Day pictures yesterday, I saw I had some photos from the election night party that I'd never checked out. Here are two:

Blogging the election

Blogging the election

IN THE COMMENTS: "Surely you have another picture of Mary Katherine Ham you could post. Please?" Okay, how about this one?

The election night blog party

That's MKH in the background. In front: Captain Ed and Nick Gillespie!

"I'm sure a campaign for president would have been a great adventure and helpful in advancing a progressive agenda."

Russ Feingold won't run! What's the story there?

UPDATE: Much more here:
"I began with the feeling I didn't really want to do this but was open to the possibility that getting around the country would make me want to do it. That never happened," he said.

"People have always portrayed me as ambitious. I'm not ashamed of that.

"But I have never had a craving to be president of the United States. I used to say it when I was 5 or 7 years old. But I haven't really been saying it as an adult," said Feingold, who said he didn't rule out running in the future.

Feingold's thinking about the race crystallized in the last few weeks, he said. The Democratic takeover of Congress on Tuesday was a final factor because it added to the appeal of focusing entirely on his position in the Senate, he said....

"This may sound immodest, but I thought, 'I can do this. I can be the candidate, that rational, effective, presentable candidate for Democrats that would not be threatening, yet very progressive,' " Feingold said.

Feingold said he was not concerned about the personal scrutiny that comes with a presidential candidacy.

"I've been through three U.S. Senate campaigns. The people I've run against have not been pansies," said Feingold, referring to the aggressiveness of his opponents. "I feel like my life is an open book."
(Pansies! Are we still talking like that? I thought, post-Macaca, no politician would ever use a slur word again.)

Anyway, I still want to hear the real story. Something to do with his position within the Senate?

Wearing street clothes on the beach, looking at women dressed in bathing suits.

Such are the crimes of the poor working men of Dubai.

Other Bob Dylan fiascos.

The awful failure of the Bob Dylan musical prompts Mark Caro to list other Dylan-related disasters:
1. "Tarantula."...

2. "Dylan."...

3. "Renaldo and Clara."...

4. "At Budokan."...

5. "Masked and Anonymous."...
Surely, this list could be lengthened.

"Your tax dollars are paying for the killing of American soldiers in Iraq. The CIA is paying for resistance in Iraq."

So said UW lecturer Kevin Barrett, ending his last lecture in the part of his course on Islam that deals with the 9/11 attacks:
The part-time teacher vowed to teach the official version of the attacks alongside the Sept. 11 theory to which he subscribes. He said he would neither tell his students what his view was nor penalize them for not buying the theory....

Andrea Bromley, a sophomore, came away saying Barrett had failed to be impartial.

"It's become much more opinionated now that we're doing 9-11," Bromley said, referring to the tone and progress of the course. "He's trying to explain both views, but he's biased. I don't feel like he's presented enough info on the other side."

Freshman Jesse Moya disagreed, saying Barrett had been "very objective."

Moya, who said his uncle died in the World Trade Center attacks, said he had entered the course believing the attacks were the work of Islamic terrorists. He now believes otherwise.

"It seems like a more logical explanation that it was the U.S. government," he said.
How interesting that the student who did not perceive bias is the one who became convinced of the truth of the conspiracy theory. It's not surprising. Trying not to show bias -- as Barrett was told he needed to do -- doesn't necessarily produce neutrality. It is more likely that it will package the message in a more palatable form.

Here's an earlier post on the subject of Barrett's class and the required neutrality pose, with much discussion of a Stanley Fish's op-ed about it.


= blogging, in Arabic.
Young women make up half the bloggers in [Saudi Arabia]... Lured by the possible anonymity of the medium, Saudi women have produced a string of blogs filled with feminist poetry, steamy romantic episodes and rants against their restricted lives and patriarchal society....

When the woman who blogs anonymously under the name Mystique finally shows up for an appointment at Starbucks on trendy Tahlia Street, she seems used to causing a stir....

She orders a Frappuccino, then sits down to talk. "I've been in touch with my sexuality ever since I was 13," she said. "Why shouldn't I write erotic fiction? It's one way of expressing myself."...

But Mystique has received the most scathing criticism for her feminist poetry and religious comments. A question posted on her blog -- "How imperfect can a perfect Creator be?" -- garnered dozens of angry missives calling her an apostate who is besmirching her country's reputation.

"Sometimes I push. I want to show that women are oppressed," she said. The situation "is not normal. I would like people to see that."