May 3, 2008

Oh, I don't know.

What do you want to talk about?


May 2, 2008

"It's a very sickly-sweet, dark biscuit and I was expecting more from it."

Brits — who don't even know the word "cookie" — try to deal with Oreos.
The slogan is "twist, lick, dunk" and the television advert features a boy demonstrating the technique to his dog.

"This ritual that comes with Oreo makes it more than a biscuit," says Ms McNulty. "The ritual elevates it to a moment of child-like delight and a warm family moment. 'Twist, lick and dunk' is the language we use. Around the world, 'twist, lick and dunk' is Oreo."...

But self-appointed biscuit expert Stuart Payne, author of A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down, says he was under-whelmed and disappointed by them.

"It's like someone rudely coming into your home and telling you how to arrange your settee. It arrives here and says: 'I'm Oreo and this is what you do with me.'" [Said Stuart Payne, author of "A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down."]

"Well we've had biscuits for a long time and we know what to do."
The linked article, from, has comments. Here's one that amuses me:
I've been eating Oreos for a few months and while they are nice enough I have to say that the whole twist thing is rubbish. You cannot just twist it apart if you try it will just shatter in your hand. I found that you have to use the same method used for the custard cream ... bite one half of the biscuit off. And taste wise the custard cream beats it hands down, all in all i cant see it beating our British fave anytime soon.
I've tried these, and was disappointed. The dark colouring makes them look as if they'll be really dark-chocolatey, which would be great, but they aren't at all. Give me a plain chocolate digestive any day!
Ugh! These monstrosities, like Hershey's revolting "chocolate" just go to reinforce the stereotype that Americans have no sense of quality. Give me a custard cream every time!
Hey, come on. It's not like these are out best cookies. They are children's cookies.

And here's a Wall Street Journal article about Oreos in China
The company developed 20 prototypes of reduced-sugar Oreos and tested them with Chinese consumers before arriving at a formula that tasted right....
In China, Kraft began a grassroots marketing campaign to educate Chinese consumers about the American tradition of pairing milk with cookies. ...

Still, Kraft realized it needed to do more than just tweak its recipe to capture a bigger share of the Chinese biscuit market. China's cookie-wafer segment was growing faster than traditional biscuit-like cookies...

So in China in 2006 Kraft remade the Oreo itself, introducing for the first time an Oreo that looked almost nothing like the original. The new Chinese Oreo consisted of four layers of crispy wafer filled with vanilla and chocolate cream, coated in chocolate....

NOTE: Nice video at the last link, which I used to have embedded, but removed. Too slow-loading.

The trees that resist the touch of springtime.

You've got to respect them.

Gnarly trees resist spring

They have ways of their own.

Gnarly trees resist spring

They aren't going to prettify themselves just because you think it's the time of year to primp.

Gnarly trees resist spring

There are some old, old attitudes that need to be what they are.

Gnarly trees resist spring

"I'm proud to say that LSD-25 has contributed positively to my life."

It's a Facebook group:
Given the recent death of Dr. Albert Hofmann, we feel compelled to let it be known that we feel blessed that LSD has been a part of our lives.

We may use it for one or more purposes, including spiritual / introspective exploration, recreation, healing, psychotherapy, group bonding, or some combination of these.

Some of us may never have even ingested this sacred material, but we nonetheless recognize its positive influence on a wide array of cultural phenomena, including not only the obvious elements such as music, art, poetry, prose, dance, religious studies, adademic [sic] pursuit, etc., but also on modern science, information technology (UNIX / Linux would likely not exist without LSD), physiological psychology, and micro/molecular biology.
Haven't you at least benefited from the music... and the posters?
We believe that this compound is one of the truly magnificient [sic] discoveries of the 20th century and that it has only just begun to be realized as a path to the future of humankind.
Fix the spelling, man. It's freaking me out.
"The function of the brain is to reduce all the available information and lock us into a limited experience of the world. LSD frees us from this restriction and opens us to a much larger experience." - Stanislav Grof

"“There are two major products that came out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence.” - Jeremy Anderson

"I think that in human evolution it has never been more necessary to have this substance LSD. It is a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be." - Dr. Albert Hoffman

"LSD burst over the dreary domain of the constipated bourgeoisie like the angelic herald of a new psychedelic millennium. We have never been the same since, nor will we ever be, for LSD demonstrated, even to skeptics, that the mansions of heaven and gardens of paradise lie within each and all of us." - Terence McKenna

"The LSD experience usually changes forever the worldview and basic life-orientation of all who experience it." - Ralph Metzner

IN THE COMMENTS: Ben Masel writes:
Kudos on the courage to accept the invite. As yet, none of the "A list' lefty bloggers I simultaneously invited have signed on.

Spelling fixed, seems I've been made an admin.
Yeah, well, the A-list lefty bloggers are pussies. But you have framed the description so that joining is not a confession of drug use — or even to say that the benefits, overall, to society, outweigh the harm. I could perceive, even without the aid of mind-expanding drugs, that anyone could join this group.

"I love how I’m going to get blamed for a vid clip circulated by the nutroots."

Says Michelle Malkin. I wish I'd been on this story earlier, because I've watched the documentary "The War Room" many times. It's a favorite DVD in my family, and we've watched it together and talked about it many times. Ben Smith talked to the director D.A. Pennebaker about what looks like a dirty trick, but then he updates that he "spoke to the editor of the video who said that he enhanced, but didn't alter, the audio in the second portion of the video." So the mystery is alive. But how much do we care what Mickey Kantor muttered 16 years ago?

Whatever you think of all that, you can buy "The War Room" on Amazon for $11. You can make a great triple feature if you add "Primary" (about JFK and Hubert Humphrey fighting it out in Wisconsin in 1960) and "Journeys with George" (Nancy Pelosi's daughter Alexandra films the travails of the journalists who follow the Bush campaign in 2000). But "The War Room" is the best of them all. Or take a different path and make it a cool double feature with "Don't Look Back," Pennebaker's great documentary about Bob Dylan — 1965 Bob Dylan.

"I ask my class for a gift – to help me while I’m grading papers."

"I like music, but I don’t listen to the radio much and I don’t follow music trends. Write down a title of a song I should download and listen to. Put your name by it and I’ll associate it with you when you’re long gone into the attorney world."

For the annals of incredibly nice teachers.

Suddenly — and sensibly — the Dems want on Fox News.

Netroots irked.

ADDED: And I should say that I think Hillary Clinton looked great sparring with Bill O'Reilly. It worked out really well — for both of them. It's insane for Democrats not to try to reach all the people who watch Fox News. And you only look weak avoiding it. Now, the netroots look foolish bitching about it — but all their muscle-flexing and bragging about power and vengeful foot-stamping has always looked foolish.

You lost me at 8.

People's list of 100 most beautiful people. As usual, there's not a chance in hell that these are the 100 most beautiful people, but the egregious untruth of it is somewhat funny.

UPDATE: They've changed the numbers at the link. #8 at the time I put up this post was Rumer Willis.

Same tree, different angle.

The same tree

Uma Thurman in court — how can an actress witness convey real emotion?

The Daily News reports:
In films like "Pulp Fiction," "Kill Bill" and "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," Thurman has played fierce heroines, the kind of gals who could squash a pathetic pest like Jack Jordan without ruining their makeup.

That kick-ass Uma was nowhere to be found Thursday in room 1300 in the Manhattan Criminal Court building.

Dressed in funereal black, her face bare and her hair messily pulled back, she practically cowered in a courtroom so new it almost looked like a Hollywood set.

Her hands trembled as she read Jordan's creepy letters in a monotone that wouldn't have gotten her a gig as an extra on a NYU student film.
I don't think an actress witness wants to sound like an actress.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob aptly adds: "Or perhaps she was doing a performance of an actress traumatized by a stalker to the point that she forgets to put on makeup and speaks in a lifeless monotone."

"Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog."

Blogger tells me as I try to post this morning:
Your blog requires word verification

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

We received your unlock request on May 2, 2008.
In other words, I successfully perceived a set of crushed together, distorted letters and managed to type them into a box.
On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog.
On behalf of the robots = geek humor.
Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.
Just don't ask my enemies.
Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs.
No, thanks, but I understand. You have to fight the spam, and Blogger has done a great job of nearly eliminating the spam comments that are much worse than dealing with this occasional perception — by robots — that I am a spammer.

But I understand that robots think I write too much.

Good morning.

Early spring

May 1, 2008

Baptist minister talks dirty to John McCain.

I don't know what I was doing on April 7th that I missed this important story about John McCain:
The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter, which will arrive in bookstores next month, reports an angry exchange between McCain and his wife that happened in full view of aides and reporters during a 1992 campaign stop....
Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.
Oh, what do I care what pet names a husband and wife have for each other? Trollop... cunt... sounds a little British to me. Isn't that what the Sex Pistols called each other... trollop?

At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop... that suggests that McCain takes the "natural look" approach to applying his makeup.

But I got caught up on cuntgate when I saw this news story in the Des Moines Register today:
A Clive man drew gasps from fellow audience members at today’s presidential candidate forum by using a four-letter word in a question to Sen. John McCain.
A "Clive man" seems to be some sort of hominid.
[MARTY] PARRISH: This question goes to mental health and mental health care. Previously, I’ve been married to a woman that was verbally abusive to me. Is it true that you called your wife a (expletive)?

MCCAIN: Now, now. You don’t want to … Um, you know that’s the great thing about town hall meetings, sir, but we really don’t, there’s people here who don’t respect that kind of language. So I’ll move on to the next questioner in the back.
People here who don’t respect that kind of language....? Those people better learn to show some respect.

Turns out the guy is a Baptist minister, just trying to get a straight answer about whether McCain is too much of a hothead to be a good President. McCain didn't get pissed at him, so didn't he get an answer?

The "DC Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey, has killed herself.

The Raw Story:
Two weeks after being convicted on federal charges for running a prostitution ring, "DC Madam" Deborah Jean Palfrey has committed suicide at a Florida home, according to several news reports....

Palfrey faced a maximum of 55 years in prison and was free pending her sentencing July 24....

One of the escort service employees was former University of Maryland, Baltimore County, professor Brandy Britton, who was arrested on prostitution charges in 2006. She committed suicide in January before she was scheduled to go to trial.

Last year, Palfrey said she, too, was humiliated by her prostitution charges, but said: "I guess I'm made of something that Brandy Britton wasn't made of."
Video from a year ago:

More purveying of sex toys at institutions of higher learning.

After that Wisconsin Law School sex toy controversy, I happened to run across this story, from back in February, about a sex toy party at NYU (not the law school):
While the idea of "Sex Toy Bingo" may be both compelling and unsettling for many, the event, held Wednesday night in Kimmel, drew 22 students...

Janice Formichella, a Wagner '09 student and Passion Parties representative, hosted the event. Wearing a shirt that said "Vaginas are coming!," Formichella called out the provocative Bingo words and educated attendees about everything from adult toy storage to the hazards of sugary body powder....

Only one prize was specifically designed for men - "Gigi," the masturbation sleeve - yet the male turnout surprised organizers and female attendees. Six men took part, and three won coveted prizes.
The male turnout surprised organizers... because... why? (And why is the product called "Gigi"? Is "Lolita" too pedophilic?)
The final two prizes - a Magic Bullet and Flashlight and a Jelly Osaki vibrator - were claimed in a tie between CAS sophomore Ryan Stechler and a female student who refused to be named. While many of the girls left talking about their disappointing luck, they also came away with newfound know-how about the Passion Parties inventory.
Eh. What does this story say about whether the event at Wisconsin was a promotion of commercial products?

(More about the enterprise of sex toy parties here.)

Lesbians versus lesbians.

BBC reports:
Campaigners on the Greek island of Lesbos are to go to court in an attempt to stop a gay rights organisation from using the term "lesbian".

The islanders say that if they are successful they may then start to fight the word lesbian internationally....

The man spearheading the case, publisher Dimitris Lambrou, claims that international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of the islanders, and disgraces them around the world.

He says it causes daily problems to the social life of Lesbos's inhabitants.
To add to your problems, Dimitris, we're all laughing at you now, you whiny Lesbian.

2 things blogged about yesterday make me want to post some photos of Mr. Pointy.

Murakami's "Mr. Pointy" at the Brooklyn Museum

Murakami's "Mr. Pointy" at the Brooklyn Museum
Slightly different enlarged view of this detail.

Murakami's "Mr. Pointy" at the Brooklyn Museum

An incredibly cool sculpture by Takashi Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. If you're in New York City and you haven't been out to see it, are you crazy?

(More of my pics of it here.)

"Richardson drops out. Grows a beard."

The whole story of the race for the Democratic nomination in 7 minutes of short sentences and sentence fragments. Funny! Spiffy graphics. Pretty fair and balanced too. [Bad code fixed.] BUT: The wrong code was for another Slate video that people liked. It's here. AND: Wow! The still image on the embedded video is great. Slate deserves huge credit for raising the standards for web video. This is really beautiful and brilliant!

Ancient images.

In the Greek and Roman gallery

In the Greek and Roman gallery

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the Greek and Roman gallery, with a fisheye lens.

The "long and painful falling out" between Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright — and what made Obama snap.

At the NYT, Michael Powell and Jodi Kantor have background on the Obama's decision to speak out more forcefully against Jeremiah Wright:
Late Monday night, in the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C., Barack Obama’s long, slow fuse burned to an end. Earlier that day he had thumbed through his BlackBerry, reading accounts of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s latest explosive comments on race and America. But his remarks to the press this day had amounted to a shrug of frustration.

Only in this hotel room, confronted with the televised replay of the combustible pastor, did the candidate realize the full import of the remarks, his aides say.
Yes, there really was something infuriating about Wright's smirks and mannerisms. You could bend over backwards and excuse the text — if you were so inclined — but on the video, it's unmistakable that Wright has contempt for Obama and fully intended to harm him.
[The] long and painful falling out [was] marked by a degree of mutual incomprehension, friends and aides say. It began at the moment Mr. Obama declared his candidacy, when he abruptly uninvited his pastor from delivering an invocation, injuring the older man’s pride and fueling his anger....

Only a few years ago, the tightness of the bond between Mr. Obama and Mr. Wright was difficult to overstate....

In this learned and radical pastor, Mr. Obama found a guide who could explain Jesus and faith in terms intellectual no less than emotional, and who helped a man of mixed racial parentage come to understand himself as an African-American. “Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black,” Mr. Obama wrote in his autobiography “Dreams From My Father.”

At the same time, as Mr. Obama’s friends and aides now acknowledge, he was aware that, shorn of their South Side Chicago context, the words and cadences of a politically left-wing black minister could have a very problematic echo. So Mr. Obama haltingly distanced himself from his pastor.
Read the whole article. There's too much to excerpt. One key point is that Wright blames David Axelrod:
[Wright] repeatedly mentioned Mr. Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, saying that while he was expert at promoting black candidates with white voters, he did not know much about relating to the black community.

“They’re spiriting him away from people in the African-American community,” Mr. Wright said, “David doesn’t know the African-American church scene.”
And Powell and Kantor credit (or blame) blogs for keeping the controversy alive:
Blogs, and a few print reporters, kept asking questions about Mr. Wright’s politics, his black liberation theology. Snippets of his fiery, soaring sermons began to appear on cable televisions and in blog posts.
We learn that that the cruise, which had Wright out-of-touch at the time of Obama's Philadelphia speech, was long planned, not a convenient exile. Wright "returned to find his name a term of opprobrium all across the nation." (Don't cruise ships have TV and newspapers and internet connection? If you were Wright, wouldn't you be monitoring what people were saying about you?)
Mr. Wright... wanted only to explain himself.
Not to punish Obama?
His first steps seemed to go well enough, particularly a relatively temperate interview with Bill Moyers on PBS. But at the National Press Club on Monday, Mr. Wright took a few questions, and his scholarly mien fell away.

“His initial statement was fine,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church in Chicago and a friend of Mr. Wright. “But the questions caused a response from Reverend Wright that I wasn’t expecting.”

Mr. Wright seemed to sense nothing wrong. A friend said he appeared buoyant and relieved afterward.
He got high off the crowd somehow. Manic. He thought he was doing fine.
But a couple hundred miles south, Mr. Obama was soon seething.
"Soon" is funny. It took him a long time to get mad. But it looks like a very personal kind of mad. It's not so much that Wright's ideas were anti-American and his politics were extremist and left-wing. Obama had to have known that from a 20-year association with the man (unless he only had the association for appearances and political advancement and never really cared what Wright thought). Obama got mad, it seems, because he could see that Wright meant to hurt him and was getting fired up moving for the kill.

"President Bush has f----- everything up so much, he’s even made it hard for a white man to become president!"

Chris Rock at Madison Square Garden last night:
Noting that “President Bush has f----- everything up so much, he’s even made it hard for a white man to become president!,” Rock became the voice of the electorate: “‘Give me a black man, a white woman, a giraffe, a zebra, a mongoose ... anything else!” He goofed on people’s perceptions of Barack Obama’s name (“Like he should have his foot on a dead lion, holding a spear!”) and their fears about Hillary Clinton’s gender (on the wrong day of the month, she could bomb North Carolina).
Eh. Sounds like material that could have been written a year ago. Remember when comedians did timely commentary? And were actually daring? Say something new about Jeremiah Wright, why don't you?

"Where, when he could have used them, were Obama's oh-so-famous endorsers?"

Daniel Henniger notes the famous names:
Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, Oprah, John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy, Tom Daschle, Amy Klobuchar, Claire McCaskill, Jay Rockefeller, John Lewis, Toni Morrison, Roger Wilkins, Eric Holder, Robert Reich, Ted Sorenson, Alice Walker, David Wilhelm, Cornel West, Clifford Alexander, Donald McHenry, Patricia Wald, Newton Minow?

Where were all the big-city mayors who went over to the Obama camp: Chicago's Richard Daley, Cleveland's Frank Jackson, Atlanta's Shirley Franklin, Washington's Adrian Fenty, Newark's Cory Booker, Baltimore's Sheila Dixon?

It isn't hard for big names to get on talk TV to make a point. Any major op-ed page would have stopped the presses to print a statement of support from Ted Kennedy or such for the senator. None appeared. Call it profiles in gopher-holing.
Why is Obama so alone? Are his powerful supporters afraid of saying the wrong thing and angering black voters? Or does precisely the right thing need to be said — and Obama is the only person on the face of the earth who is capable of determining what that precisely right thing is?

Perhaps it's the unpleasantness of trying to draw the line between religion and politics. Or of drawing the line between race and religion. Is the line between religion and politics different in the black community for historical and cultural reasons? But these are not such exquisitely delicate matters, that you can't make bland but emphatic statements of support, and the people listed above aren't the type who hold their tongues until they know what to say.

So why did they hang Obama out to dry?

April 30, 2008

"Can you believe this Reverend Wright guy?" Bill O'Reilly asks Hillary Clinton.

In a clip from the show that airs tonight. (Set your TiVo.)

UPDATE: I liked the part when he told her that Obama's a nice guy, but she's a jerk like he is.

AND: Here's the video: Part 1. Part 2.

Things not to think about during a Beckett play.

1. What to put on the conlaw exam.

2. ...

3. ...

ADDED: Here's the link I had in the title before. And here's a link that includes this great photo of John Turturro:

The play is "Endgame." And I really do need to get my conlaw exam written. I'm dreading hearing lines like "Finished, it's finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished" and thinking about the exam.

What is the "sex toy controversy" at the UW Law School?

The Badger Herald tells the story with clickable pictures of the fliers that were posted at the Law School. The enlarged pictures are NSFW, but I guess if the women put them up, then it's not sexual harassment.
The Wisconsin Law Students for Reproductive Justice had planned an event called “Sex Toys 101” to promote safe alternatives to sex, educate about sexual health and pleasure, and discuss law concerning sex toys, according to the group.

Members of the organization submitted a formal complaint to Law School Dean Ken Davis Friday, requesting a formal apology, refund of event expenses and clarification of student organization event rules.

In an interview Monday, Law School Associate Dean Walter Dickey said the event was canceled for content-neutral reasons, pointing to a Student Organization Office policy that prohibits the promotion or sale of commercial products by a private company...

In their complaint sent Friday, however, the students contend even after they told Law School administrators the event did not involve any sales or promotions, Dickey indicated the event should be canceled.

“Dean Dickey’s response was that it did not matter whether it was a sale or not, there were to be ‘no sex toys on law school premises,’” the group said, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Badger Herald....

Organizers also took issue with the removal of their posters advertising the event within the halls of the Law School. The posters advertised sex toys as trivia contest prizes, included bondage references and said the event was to be “presented by A Woman’s Touch.”

“We believe they were taken down because some people found them offensive,” [said the student who chairs he Wisconsin Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chair.] “If some people did find them offensive, that’s one thing, but to go around ripping them down we don’t feel is the proper way to go about the situation.”
So the question is whether the event was canceled because it violated some neutral rule about selling things. As for the posters, though, surely the law school is allowed to forbid plastering images of penises on our walls.

ADDED: I'm looking at the letter the Law School dean, Kenneth B. Davis, sent to the student, which makes some important assertions of fact:
[T]he only previous formal communication from your group had proposed an event at which the vendor’s products would be sold. Your subsequent internal correspondence, which you attached to your complaint, reveals after reviewing the University’s guidelines as recommended by Dean Robarts, you proposed telling the vendor that it could feature its products (rather than sell them) and get good PR from the event. However, those guidelines prohibit not only sales, but the use of University facilities “to promote or endorse commercial products or businesses.”

Because the posters advertising the event named the vendor and pictured specific products, Dean Dickey deemed them inappropriate. He ordered that the posters, many of which had been hung in unauthorized locations, be removed. He also determined that because it was inappropriate to sell, promote, or advertise the vendor’s products on Law School premises, the event should be canceled, and Dean Robarts then undertook to notify the students to that effect.
So, note, that the official position is not that you can't post pictures of dildos — which I am calling depictions of penises — around the law school. It's that you can't post pictures of commercial products you're promoting or selling.
When the students responded that no sales had been planned, Dean Dickey determined that the event could go ahead so long as it did not involve the sale or promotion of commercial products. That important distinction may not have been communicated to all the students as unambiguously or on as timely a basis as we might have desired. For that, the Law School administration bears the responsibility.

Given that background, I will honor your request for reimbursement for the food and beverages you purchased. I cannot, however, use Law School funds to repay you for the merchandise you had intended to give away.

I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in the early evening.

And there was that one guy skateboarding across:

Skateboarding across the Brooklyn Bridge

Oh! I was ravenous when I got to the other side:

Pizza sign

I craved sustenance:

Beer-drinking shark

And I found a comfortable little corner:


In an old favorite place:

Restaurant view

Where I ate, among other things, a fig:

Salad with fig

Arkansas Lawprof Richard J. Peltz is suing two students and the Black Law Student Association.

Inside Higher Ed reports. (Via Instapundit.)
Peltz charges them with defamation, saying that his comments about affirmative action were used unfairly to accuse him of racism in a way that tarnished his reputation....

The dispute over Peltz concerns his opposition to affirmative action — and how he expressed it. Complicating matters is that no one who was present when the statements were actually made is discussing them....

In a memo sent to Charles Goldner, dean of the law school, the students accuse Peltz of engaging in a “rant” about affirmative action, of saying that affirmative action helps “unqualified black people,” of displaying a satirical article from The Onion about the death of Rosa Parks, of allowing a student to give “incorrect facts” about a key affirmative action case, of passing out a form on which he asked for students’ name and race and linking this form to grades, and of denigrating black students in a debate about affirmative action, among other charges.

The student memo said that the organization had “no problem with the difference of opinion about affirmative action,” but that Peltz’s actions were “hateful and inciting speech” and were used “to attack and demean the black students in class.”

The black student group demanded that Peltz be “openly reprimanded,” that he be barred from teaching constitutional law “or any other required course where black students would be forced to have him as a professor,” that the university mention in his personnel file that he is unable “to deal fairly with black students,” and that he be required to attend diversity training.
Suing students! It seems unthinkable. But this is the direction we head when free speech and academic freedom lose their grip on us. Do we feel like blaming the students for trying to suppress the teacher first, or should we blame the teachers who taught them that they are entitled not to hear what to them feels "hateful and inciting"? Or is it just obvious that teachers should never sue our students for even the most horrible things they about us? What a sad, sad story!

I'd like to hear from other law professors and law students about whether classroom critique of affirmative action gets called racism at your school. I have encountered people in law schools who will cry racism when all you have done is seriously present the legal reasoning in the affirmative action opinions of Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and William Rehnquist.

The Peltz story hits close to home for me because of something that you can read about in my old posts with the tag "Kaplan story."

It's not a recession.

It's just not:
Economy grows by only 0.6 percent in 1st quarter of 2008

The bruised economy limped through the first quarter of this year at only 0.6 percent as housing and credit problems forced people and businesses alike to hunker down.

The country's economic growth during January through March was the same as in the final three months of last year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The statistic did not meet what economists consider the classic definition of a recession, which is a retraction of the economy. This means that although the economy is stuck in a rut, it is still managing to grow, even if modestly.
Damned economists with their "classic" "definitions"... Why can't we just report what we know we all feel?

Thoughts on reading the transcript of Barack Obama's press conference about Jeremiah Wright.

Let's read the transcript of Barack Obama's press conference about Jeremiah Wright. I'll make some excerpts and comments, concentrating on things other than the quotes I read yesterday (which I discussed here):
The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago.
This is carefully phrased. He does not say he saw something new yesterday or how big a difference there was between yesterday's Jeremiah and the Jeremiah of the last few years. But you're meant to think that he suddenly faced new facts, so that there is no concession of bad judgment earlier.
Now, I've already denounced the comments that had appeared in these previous sermons. As I said, I had not heard them before.
See how precisely he's implying that he always made correct judgments on the facts he had at the time? (Presidents need to do this, by the way. Ironically, it reminds me of the way President Bush has justified his decisions on the Iraq war.)
I'm particularly distressed that this has caused such a distraction from what this campaign should be about, which is the American people.... And the fact that Reverend Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage, for three or four consecutive days, in the midst of this major debate, is something that not only makes me angry but also saddens me.
Oh, how I wish I could have heard the way that feeling was expressed behind closed doors! What an outrageous betrayal Obama experienced! And I would love to have heard Wright's thoughts as he decided to wreak havoc on his protege.

Surely, we'll have a movie someday that will flesh all this out. Jeremiah and Barack. In my screenplay, Jeremiah the main character. He's the one with the fire and the complex problems and emotions, the jealousy that turns him to villainous betrayal.

Back to the transcript, we're up to the Q&A:
Q: Why the change of tone from yesterday? When you spoke to us on the tarmac yesterday, you didn't have this sense of anger, outrage --

SEN. OBAMA: Yeah. I'll be honest with you: because I hadn't seen it yet.
Watch for a politician's verbal tics. I'll be honest with you. Let me make one thing perfectly clear.
Q: Had you heard the reports about the AIDS comment?

SEN. OBAMA: I had not. I had not seen the transcript. What I had heard was that he had given a performance. And I thought at the time that it would be sufficient simply to reiterate what I had said in Philadelphia. Upon watching it, what became clear to me was that it was more than just a -- it was more than just him defending himself. What became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that -- that -- that contradicts who I am and what I stand for. And what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that -- that I am about trying to bridge gaps and that I see the -- the commonality in all people.
That — that — that.... What sets a man to stuttering? Here I must choose my words carefully. What might he have said that he needed to shape his words not to say? Look at sentences that follow the stutter. Obama is saying that his campaign is framed around carefully composed ideas about bringing people together, and those ideas conflicted with Wright's racialized "world view." Obama is not saying here that the racial critique is untenable only that it is not what he has chosen to present in his campaign rhetoric.

But it's not mere political posturing, and he's mad at Wright for saying it is. Now, why exactly is it not political posturing? Obama does not say that the racial critique of what's wrong with America is false. He hasn't said that. He's said that he's the kind of person who desires national unity — it's in his DNA! — and racial critique must be edited out to achieve that effect.
And so when I start hearing comments about conspiracy theories and AIDS and suggestions that somehow Minister Farrakhan has -- has been a great voice in the 20th century, then that goes directly at who I am and what I believe this country needs.
See what I mean? These ideas are not helpful to his agenda. Notice that he does not say that Farrakhan has been an odious voice or even that he's not a great voice, only that the idea of Farrakhan's greatness is not helpful to the country and is not an element that fits the Obama political persona.

Obama makes this point again in a long answer to another question:
You know, after seeing Reverend Wright's performance, I felt as if there was a complete disregard, for what the American people are going through and the need for them to rally together to solve these problems.

You know, now is the time for us not to get distracted. Now is the time for us to pull together.

And that's what we've been doing in this campaign. And, you know, there was a sense that that did not matter to Reverend Wright. What mattered was him What mattered was him commanding center stage.
Wright has intruded himself on the American public to say the things that Obama believes are not useful to be saying now. In my screenplay, which would give Wright center stage, Wright is a wounded and outraged egomaniac, but he also has righteous anger against the young man who wants to suppress racial critique and who has won favor from white people because of that.
I don't think that he showed much concern for me. I don't -- more importantly, I don't think he showed much concern for what we are trying to do in this campaign and what we're trying to do for the American people and with the American people.
Oh, he's concerned for you. He just hates what you are doing.
And obviously, he's free to speak out on issues that are of concern to him and he can do it in any ways that he wants. But I feel very strongly that -- well, I want to make absolutely clear that I do not subscribe to the views that he expressed. I believe they are wrong. I think they are destructive. And to the extent that he continues to speak out, I do not expect those views to be attributed to me.
That boldfaced line is something he did not say in his prepared remarks, as noted above.
[W]hat I tried to do in Philadelphia was to provide a context and to lift up some of the contradictions and complexities of race in America -- of which, you know, Reverend Wright is a part and we're all a part -- and try to make something constructive out of it. But there wasn't anything constructive out of yesterday. All it was, was a bunch of rants that -- that aren't grounded in truth, and you know, I can't construct something positive out of that. I can understand it. I, you know, the -- you know, people do all sorts of things.
Now, he is combining a rejection of the racial critique with the insight that it is not helpful to his campaign. And "a bunch of rants" is a harsh insult to Wright, as Obama tries to package him away as a senile old man.

Now, here's an excellent set of questions:
Q: Reverend Wright said that it was not an attack on him but an attack on the black church. First of all, do you agree with that?

And second of all, the strain of theology that he preached, black liberation theology, you explained something about the anger, that feeds some of the sentiments in the church, in Philadelphia.

How important a strain is liberation theology in the black church? And why did you choose to attend a church that preached that?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, in terms of liberation theology, I'm not a theologian. So I think to some theologians, there might be some well-worked-out theory of what constitutes liberation theology versus non-liberation-theology.
Cop out. If he can't understand a black liberation sermon, how can it be preached? He's grasping at the word "theology" to distance himself from the very serious question.
I went to church and listened to sermons. And in the sermons that I heard, and this is true, I do think, across the board in many black churches, there is an emphasis on the importance of social struggle, the importance of striving for equality and justice and fairness -- a social gospel.
Okay. He's saying that whatever "black liberation theology" is, he and other parishioners hear it as a call to action for social justice.
So I think a lot of people would rather, rather than using a fancy word like that, simply talk about preaching the social gospel. And that -- there's nothing particularly odd about that. Dr. King obviously was the most prominent example of that kind of preaching.
Well put. The question is refocused on what Obama's politics are — and whether they are too left wing for Americans.
But you know, what I do think can happen, and I didn't see this as a member of the church but I saw it yesterday, is when you start focusing so much on the plight of the historically oppressed, that you lose sight of what we have in common; that it overrides everything else; that we're not concerned about the struggles of others because we're looking at things only through a particular lens. Then it doesn't describe properly what I believe, in the power of faith, to overcome but also to bring people together.
Excellent! Back to his original theme. People who like to say he's terrible when he's off script should study this passage.

The last question:
Q: You talked about giving the benefit of the doubt before -- mostly, I guess, in the Philadelphia speech, trying to create something positive about that. Did you consult with him before the speech or talk to him after the speech in Philadelphia to get his reaction -- (off mike) --

SEN. OBAMA: You know, I tried to talk to him before the speech in Philadelphia. Wasn't able to reach him because he was on a -- he was on a cruise.
Aw, come on. I've never been on a cruise, but they get telephone reception, don't they? And why was he on a cruise in the first place? Too bad for Obama it wasn't a longer cruise.

Screenplay notes: What happened on that cruise? There is Wright is sitting on his deck chair, pondering his passivity. He's been put out in the middle of the ocean's nothingness, and back home, there's this upstart who's swathing America in comforting nothingness.... He must go back! He must speak! Suddenly, he's running from one end of the ship to the other. Wait. No. That's "Titanic."

"At home, I lay down and sank into a not-unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination."

"In a dreamlike state I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours, this condition faded away."

Albert Hofmann, the man who discovered LSD
, has died at the grand age of 102.
"Before, I had believed there was only one reality: the reality of everyday life.

"Under LSD, however, I entered into realities which were as real and even more real than the one of everyday." He also "became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the plant and animal kingdom. I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us."
Reading those lines, does it not make you sad that LSD is illegal?

April 29, 2008

Neil Diamond on "American Idol."

I'm just catching up with the TiVo'd show. (As I said, I was walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Just an after work walk. Midway through the bridge I realized I was starving, and I felt like a zombie stalking the rest of the way over and for blocks into Manhattan to get to a restaurant. Restaurant! Restaurant! It was gruesome.)

Neil is doing a great job. He's been well advised: Be like Barry Manilow. Not Dolly! Help the nice, young kids. Don't self-promote. Does Neil actually care about these the kids? I don't know, but he seems like he does, and that's enough to make me like him.

They're singing 2 songs each, and — in a shocking break from tradition — the contestants sing their first songs without hearing from the judges. Then they're lined up on the stage together for judgment. Horrible idea. Randy goes down the line and gives each one a little opinion on their first song. Then Paula starts with Jason and tells him what she thinks of his first and his second song, even though he hasn't sung his second song yet. This is the biggest Paula screw-up of all time. We see Ryan Seacrest glance nervously over to the side. The audience giggles. She's about to go on to David Cook, and Randy interrupts and says, "We should just do the first song, uh." And now the truth is out! They prepare beforehand, based on rehearsal performances! Arrrggghhh! My AI world is torn apart. Ryan relies on his tiny wit: "You're seein' the future." Simon is making that hand gesture where he holds his thumb to his forehead and flares out his fingers. What is it? The half moose? Simon squelches Paula. Just say who your favorite was and shut up. Then Simon tells all the kids they sucked.

Then we get another round of songs, but we don't see Neil again, and it's all quite forgettable.

I think we all know either Jason or Brooke is going to leave. And, frankly, I think we know that Jason, Brooke, and Syesha are going to be leaving in the next 3 weeks. The only interesting question is: Which David will win?

IN THE COMMENTS: Jennifer says:
Oh, and I thought you would say that Neil Diamond didn't go the Barry Manilow route. He didn't seem to give a whole lot of advice...? But, I guess they gave him very little screen time.
Hmm. Yeah. He wasn't making the Dolly mistake (making it all about oneself), but he didn't really achieve Manilosity, because he didn't have a lot of detailed, individualized advice. Maybe he's just not as smart or he didn't take the time with the singers. And there was a time issue. Was it caused by cramming 10 songs into 1 hour, or did they choose to make it 1 hour because Diamond didn't give them enough material?

Ruth Anne wants a palate cleanser.



Sorry. I was out walking over the Brooklyn Bridge.

"The rooms are described as being neat and tidy. There are no windows."

"The three children who lived in the cellar, 19-year-old Kerstin and her two brothers aged 18 and five, had never seen daylight, and grew up with artificial light."

This is such a horrible story. I hate even to mention it. But this link goes to a story that depicts the underground living quarters Josef Fritzl somehow constructed and maintained and kept hidden for 24 years... as he went about his life as perhaps the most evil father ever.

AND: Could it be that it wasn't so dreadful for the youngest children?
Professor Jay Belsky, an expert in the field of child development and family studies at Birkbeck College, University of London, says the fact that the children were with their mother - a source of security - and with each other, could have mitigated the amount of trauma they suffered.

"Potentially, the children could have led tolerably rich social lives - there were four people there, at least three of them for a long period of time. This isn't a story about a child being locked in a closet all by himself," he told the BBC News website.

He said that in terms of the five-year-old, he would have been unlikely to have known what he was missing.

"As a youngster, your immediate environment is your whole world," he says.

"If there were books, games and a TV, there were things for all the children to make a psychological life around. It need not be as atrocious as it might first appear," he says.
That reminds me of Dr. Strangelove's description of life underground. But at this point, one hopes the professor is right.

Did Obama "denounce Wright"?

That's what the headline at the Politico says. But read the body of the post by Ben Smith:
"I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That’s in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That’s who I am, that’s what I believe, and that’s what this campaign has been about," Obama said.

"I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday," he said.

Obama also distanced himself from the man in a way he has been reluctant to in the past.

"The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago," he said. "His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church."

"They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs," he said.

"If Reverend Wright thinks that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, I may not know him as well as I thought either."

"I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church," he said. "But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the U.S. wartime efforts with terrorism – then there are no [excuses]. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced, and that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today."

"It is antithetical to my campaign. It is antithetical to what I’m about. It is not what I think America stands for," he said.
They should be denounced? There's a lot of "they" in that statement. The antecedent is "his comments." It's a strong statement, but it does stop short of denouncing the man. He's denounced his comments before. Remember, in the last debate, he held back, as I noted:
Obama is asked why didn't he disassociate himself from Jeremiah Wright sooner. He mainly relies on the assertion that he hadn't heard most of the bad statements. At some point he says "someone I've disowned" and has to correct it to "statements I've disowned."
And, of course, in the Philadelphia speech, he famously said:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
He's stuck to this refusal to denounce, and give him some credit for maintaining integrity over this concept that "these people are a part of me." Whether Americans want him as President if Jeremiah Wright is a part of him is another question.

ADDED: Glenn Reynolds collects links — including to here — and opines that Obama's being "too lawyerly"... and characterizes my criticism as calling him too lawyerly. Meanwhile, one reader seems to think I'm the one that's being too lawyerly about this. He emails:
You always come up with some way to say that people weren't saying what they clearly were saying. You might have a valid semantic point, but you're missing the big picture. Just endlessly parsing words — boring.
WELL: We're all law professors: me, Glenn, Obama... Or should I parse some words again about whether Obama was really a law professor? And "was" not "is," depending on what the meaning of... I need to get some fresh air.... It's a lovely day now... not like this morning.... almost 5 o'clock....

Jeremiah Wright may drive us into the arms of Barack Obama.

Jeremiah Wright is "angry at Barack Obama for trying to be disingenuous," said Newt Gingrich. Wright is outraged that Obama tried to suppress and minimize him. Asked if Wright was trying to hurt Obama, Newt said: "I think Reverend Wright has a greater investment in his own self-importance than he does in Senator Obama's victory." Yes, Reverend Wright is on a tear. He's an egomaniac lit afire by this opportunity of a lifetime.

But I see a way for this awful problem to help Obama. It ties back to the original reason he became so popular. Obama seemed to offer a path out of the old-style racial politics that is based on grievances and demands and race as victimhood. Obama did not talk about race. He was black but he didn't talk about race. Now, Wright is rubbing our faces in the racial issues that Obama didn't want to talk about, and maybe he was disingenuous for submerging these things. But if Obama loses, Wright and his ilk will be magnified. They will have been instrumental in destroying Obama, yet they will use fact that Americans rejected Obama to reinforce their critique of America.

The message Obama needs to convey is: Take me now, whatever my flaws, or you will be saddled with people like Wright for decades. If we are disgusted by Wright, we shouldn't reject Obama. We should embrace him as the best hope we're ever going to have.

ADDED: Amba responds:
But the best hope of what?... Obama has been thrown up there like a litmus test to prove how racist the nation still is or isn't. And if you question his judgment or maturity or readiness, that becomes a checkmark on the "racist" side. That's infuriating. In fact, it could be argued that to judge Obama as sternly as you'd judge any human being who wanted to be president is less racist than insisting he be elected to prove we're not racist!
I have often said that we need to test Obama, and that letting him off easy is basically racist. But here my point is that his becoming President would quell the power of the Wrights of this world and we might overcome what will otherwise be a long impasse on race.

George Jones, Tom Waits, Dinah Washington, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Louis Armstrong, Van Morrison...

Those are the artists Bob Dylan has played most often on "Theme Time Radio Hour" — from a nice, long set of lists of things from the brilliant radio show. Poets referenced, authors referenced, movies referenced, TV shows... Here are the TV shows:
The Beverly Hillbillies, Chico and the Man, The Ed Sullivan Show, Hee Haw, Josie and the Pussycats, The Honeymooners, Leave it to Beaver, Lil’ Abner, Welcome Back Kotter, Sanford and Son, Roots, 60 Minutes, The Simpsons, The Sopranos, The Tonight Show, The Wire
Li'l — put the apostrophe in the right place — Abner was a TV show? I don't think so. I remember the movie musical with Stubby Kaye, but that just-linked Wikipedia article notes an earlier movie version of the comic strip. And it had Buster Keaton in it. Do you think it's in YouTube? Yes! Scroll in to about 2:00 to get to the Buster Keaton part. (Warning: It's not politically correct.)

Back to the Bob Dylan stuff. (Sorry for the stream-of-consciousness. Not really.) History Lessons From Bob:
Famous Electric Chairs (e.g. Old Sparky and Gruesome Gerty) Famous People Who Were Cheerleaders (e.g. Ann Margaret, George W. Bush) Famous People Who Were Valedictorians (e.g. Cindy Crawford, William Rehnquist, Weird Al – “I wonder if William Rehnquist gave the same type of speech as Weird Al. Somehow I doubt it.”) Famous People Who Had Burials At Sea (e.g. Steve McQueen, Ingrid Bergman, Vincent Price, Jerry Garcia) History of the Wobblies, the U.S. labor organization People Who Died While Playing Cards (e.g. Wild Bill Hickok, Al Jolson, Buster Keaton, the gangster Arnold Rothstein) Famous People Who Drove Cadillacs (e.g. Pope Pius XII, Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Clinton) History of Constantinople
Speaking of people who died while playing cards, have you ever noticed how many poker blogs there are? I wonder if anybody ever died while blogging about poker? (Cf., death by blogging.)

Useful tips (How to Walk Like A Runway Model)... One-Liners (“I always liked songs with parentheses in the title.”)... Deep Thoughts (“I leave you with the words of Benjamin Franklin. ‘He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.’ Thank you, Ben. Peace out.”)... Bad Jokes (“I gave a bald-headed friend a comb. You know what he said? ‘I’ll never part with it.’”)... Recipes (Figgy Pudding)...

Read the whole thing. It's pretty cool. By the way, what's your favorite song with parentheses in the title? I can only think of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."


Some animals really piss Natalie Angier off. And she's looking into her bigotry problem:
Our proneness to biobigotry, experts said, arises from several salient human traits. For one, we are equipped with an often overactive theory of mind — the conviction that those around you have their own minds, goals and desires, and that it might behoove you to anticipate what they’ll do next. We spin elaborate narratives out of the slenderest of observational threads: Look, the blue jay is trying to dislodge the cowbird from the feeder. Could the jay know the cowbird is a nest parasite and be trying to drum it out of town? “We interpret animal behaviors through a human lens and human morality,” said Mr. Fraser, the conservation psychologist.
Yeah? Well, I'm mad. And that's a fact:

"I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted," said the famous photographer Annie Leibovitz.

"Miley and I looked at fashion photographs together and we discussed the picture in that context before we shot it. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful."

Vanity Fair got millions of hits, and Disney says: "A situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old" ... whose father was right there the whole time.

Here's the slideshow at Vanity Fair. Judge for yourself. I think the photographs were intended to get the attention they got, but don't actually cross the line into scandalous. The girl is beautiful. Deal with it. Bare shoulders are not nudity. But to say "very little makeup" when there is red lipstick... well, that's disingenuous.

ADDED: Compare this, from another era. Scroll to 2:51 to start.

It's not that I didn't see it. It's that I didn't see it.

It's hard being a feminist, you know. You know everything, and there are so many things you know, and then it's like you don't know a damned thing. Look at this tragic attempt at thinking on the page or pretending to think on the page:
I read It’s a Jungle Out There. And it’s not that I didn’t notice the images were racist — it’s that I didn’t bother to look at the images. It’s not that I don’t understand why images of white women kicking dark-skinned natives are problematic. It’s that I was a sloppy reader who didn’t check out the pictures, even though they’re part of the book and I should have. My not looking at the pictures is part of the problem. Obviously I saw the pictures, because I had to turn the page. If I had taken two seconds to look at them, I would have been pretty pissed. But I didn’t — because, as a white girl, there’s nothing about “jungle theme” that puts me on notice. There’s nothing in my experience that makes me take notice and actually look when I glance past a retro jungle cartoon. That is privilege. I failed to check mine. I failed in a lot of ways.
Someone you were in solidarity with had a book and so you had to promote it.
I initially promoted the book because it’s a fun, funny, quick read.
Why are you helping sell books that are mere fluff? This blog post goes on and on, and I'm too busy to wade through it. But skipping ahead:
The feminist blogosphere has been poison lately. A lot of people have left. Tonight, for the first time in a long while, I’ve seriously considered dropping out, too. I promised myself that I would quit when I felt like blogging was doing me more harm than good; that is how I feel right now....
That post, by Jill of Feministe went up a few days ago. Today, she says she's quitting blogging:
... I feel like an untrustworthy back-stabbing bitch who threw someone she likes and respects under the bus in order to give herself some undeserved moral superiority and undo un-doable wrongs. That wasn’t my intention, of course. It never is. But that’s what it feels like....

That isn’t to say that I don’t stand by what I wrote in the apology post. I do. I just I feel like I’m spinning in circles and I have no idea what I’m even trying to accomplish anymore....

So I need to just stop.
You know, I don't read the feminist blogs, but from what little I've seen of them, I can see why someone would wake up screaming let me the hell out of here. Feminism should feel like freedom. Obviously, it doesn't. I don't really know what you characters have been doing to each other lately, but get some sleep. Get some fresh air.

IN THE COMMENTS: Cyrus writes:
I know you say that you "don't read the feminist blogs," ... [b]ut ... Jill ends the blog entry you link to... with the sentence: "I'll come back in a couple of weeks"...
You're right. I confess that I stopped when I got to the line "So I need to just stop." It's also clear that she was going to quit for a few weeks anyway to work on exams. So really, what was all this parading of angst about? Ugh. Must go back to not reading feminist blogs. Involuted nonsense. Life goes on.

April 28, 2008

"We will be looking for anti-racist trainings offered here in the Bay Area."

Oops. What a hilarious screw up! Not that we needed our comic relief of the day on a racial theme.

(Via Instapundit and Protein Wisdom.)

Obama is letting Wright overpower him.

Dana Milbank says that Wright's speech today may have doomed the Obama candidacy. He summarizes the Q&A session pithily:
His claim that the September 11 attacks mean "America's chickens are coming home to roost"?

Wright defended it: "Jesus said, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic divisive principles."

His views on Farrakhan and Israel? "Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion. He was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter's being vilified for and Bishop Tutu's being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I'm anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago. He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century; that's what I think about him.... Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery, and he didn't make me this color."

He denounced those who "can worship God on Sunday morning, wearing a black clergy robe, and kill others on Sunday evening, wearing a white Klan robe." He praised the communist Sandinista regime of Nicaragua. He renewed his belief that the government created AIDS as a means of genocide against people of color ("I believe our government is capable of doing anything").
Obama needs to take control of the situation. But what is he saying today?
Some of the comments that Reverend Wright has made offended me and I understand why they offend the American people. He does not speak for me. He does not speak for the campaign.
So bland. So uninspiring. Obama is letting Wright overpower him.

"Wright has now removed any guilt or conflict Obama might feel about denouncing him and his approach to race and politics," says Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan had been giving Wright a pass, but now he says:
[What Wright] said today extemporaneously, the way in which he said it, the unrepentant manner in which he reiterated some of his most absurd and offensive views, his attempt to equate everything he believes with the black church as a whole, and his open public embrace of Farrakhan and hostility to the existence of Israel Zionism, make any further defense of him impossible. This was a calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism, and self-regard.

ADDED: Video of the Q&A:

Live-streaming Madonna's "Hard Candy."

My son Christopher Althouse Cohen — a longtime Madonna fan — emails:
Madonna just recently put her whole new album, which comes out tomorrow, on her myspace page, and I just listened to it. I just barely like it enough to buy it, even though the only Madonna album I've never purchased is "American Life." Several of the songs are well-written, but I just hate the way it's produced. She collaborated with mainstream hip hop producers for all these songs, and that just ruins the album for me. If you go on her myspace page and listen to the song "Incredible," you'll hear the problem. She comes up with a quality hook, and they add a big, overbearing hip hop beat that has nothing to do with the song and drowns everything else out. The style only really works with the first three songs ("Candy Shop," "4 Minutes," and "Give It 2 Me"), which seem written for that kind of production.

Madonna has always seemed a little bit out of the mainstream, or at least worked with people who were experimental or against the current trends in some way. Here, she decided to collaborate with the most mainstream people she could find and just generically follow the trend of female pop singers working with hip hop producers. She also sold more than half the songs on the album for use in commercials. It's a little strange to sell out after you've already sold 200 million records.

I think she's trying to reconnect with American audiences. Her last album was a big hit in other countries, but not as big here. "Hung Up" was one of the biggest hit songs ever worldwide, and was #1 in 45 countries, but only peaked at #7 here. So, I guess that's the reason. Or maybe she's influenced by her children's taste in music, if that's what they like. Seems unnecessary, though, and you feel much less that you're listening to a real artist with this album than with any other Madonna album.

Why Christopher Hitchens tries never to wear a tie.

It's "the advantage that it so easily confers on anyone who goes berserk on you."
There you are, with a ready-made noose already fastened around your neck.
Said in the course of cogitating about whether John McCain's angriness ought to worry us.

If you think I'm supposed to feel bad about...

... this. You don't know my history with it.

Jimmy Carter defends his Hamas trip...

... and pushes his 23d book. Much as I'm outraged by his Hamas trip, I'm also outraged that he's published 23 books. Who does he think he is, that he has 23 books in him? This one is about his mother, just in time for Mother's Day. Get out your wallets, please, for the smiling fuzzball of an ex-President.

Jeramiah Wright is not lying low.

Speaking at the National Press Club:
... Wright said that political opponents of Senator Obama were exploiting the fact that the style of prayer and preaching in black churches was different from European church traditions....
As if the problems are all a matter of form and not content.
In questions and answers after his prepared remarks, Mr. Wright bristled when it was suggested that some of his past statements seemed unpatriotic. He served six years in the military, he declared, adding a jibe at the vice president, “How many years did Cheney serve?”
That's not an answer, but a classroom-perfect example of 2 types of faulty argument. That he was in the military in the past doesn't give him some sort of lifetime patriotism insurance. And Cheney's military service is utterly irrelevant. I wonder how approvingly the National Press Club received these clever non-answers — that is, I wonder if they responded like journalists.

ADDED: Christopher Beam argues that Wright's current publicity tour is good for Obama. I'm not seeing it, but it's a good "what if you had to argue" argument.

AND: Here's Rush Limbaugh arguing that Wright is destroying Obama — intentionally, to serve his own ends. I think Wright is a man with a tremendous ego and very strong left-wing politics who has been lit afire by the criticism and sees the opportunity of a lifetime to advance his cause.

It's not unconstitutional to make voters show a photo ID.

The Supreme Court rules, 6-3, in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board:
The voter ID ruling may turn out to be a significant victory for Republicans at election time, since the requirement for proof of identification is likely to fall most heavily on voters long assumed to be identified with the Democrats — particularly, minority and poor voters. The GOP for years has been actively pursuing a campaign against what it calls “voter fraud,” and the Court’s ruling Monday appears to validate that effort....
The plurality opinion leaves room for an "as-applied" challenge, and I'll have more in a little while about what it would take to succeed in such a case.

UPDATE: There are two opinions with 3 votes each and then 2 dissenting opinions. The first opinion is written by Justice Stevens, joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Kennedy. Stevens demands "that burdens on a political party, an individual voter, or a discrete class of voters... however slight... must be justified by relevant and legitimate state interests 'sufficiently weighty to justify the limitation." And the record in this case, which challenged the law on its face, does not show an excessive burden.

What to make of the fact that all the Republicans in the Indiana legislature voted for the law and all the Democrats voted against it?
[I]f a nondiscriminatory law is supported by valid neutral justifications, those justifications should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators.
Since preserving the "integrity and reliability of the electoral process" is a neutral justification for the law, it doesn't matter to constitutional interpretation that Republicans saw partisan advantage in it and Democrats saw the opposite.

The other 3 votes for upholding the law came from Justice Scalia joined by Justices Thomas and Alito. Scalia doesn't approve of the mushiness of Stevens's free-form balancing test, which he thinks invites "endless" litigation:
That sort of detailed judicial supervision of the election process would flout the Constitution’s express commitment of the task to the States.
For Justice Scalia, the "universally applicable requirements of Indiana’s voter-identification law are eminently reasonable," and that is enough. I'm seeing some criticisms of the case that emphasize that Indiana did have enough of a reason to pass such a strict law, but Scalia's point is that the democratic process came up with this law, and there is not enough reason for the courts to overturn it.

I want to look at Justice Breyer's dissent next:
Were I ... to believe, as Justice Stevens believes, that the burden imposed by the Indiana statute on eligible voters who lack photo IDs is indeterminate “on the basis of the record that has been made in this litigation,” or were I to believe, as Justice Scalia believes, that the burden the statute imposes is “minimal” or “justified,” then I too would reject the petitioners’ facial attack... I cannot agree, however...

[A]n Indiana nondriver, most likely to be poor, elderly, or disabled, will find it difficult and expensive to travel to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, particularly if he or she resides in one of the many Indiana counties lacking a public transportation system. For another, many of these individuals may be uncertain about how to obtain the underlying documentation, usually a passport or a birth certificate, upon which the statute insists. And some may find the costs associated with these documents unduly burdensome (up to $12 for a copy of a birth certificate; up to $100 for a passport). By way of comparison, this Court previously found unconstitutionally burdensome a poll tax of $1.50 (less than $10 today, inflation-adjusted).
Breyer emphasizes that other states with ID requirements are less demanding. Florida, for example, accepts an "employee badge or ID, a debit or credit card, a student ID, a retirement center ID, a neighborhood association ID, and a public assistance ID." Quite simply, Breyer sees an unjustified burden.

Finally, here's Justice Souter's dissenting opinion, which is joined by Justice Ginsburg:
Without a shred of evidence that in-person voter impersonation is a problem in the State, much less a crisis, Indiana has adopted one of the most restrictive photo identification requirements in the country....

[The law] targets the poor and the weak.... [B]eing poor has nothing to do with being qualified to vote.... [T]he onus of the Indiana law is illegitimate just because it correlates with no state interest so well as it does with the object of deterring poorer residents from exercising the franchise.



... in your own quirky way.

"As the Ghost of a Person dead these 250 Years and more, who had seen enough of Bedlam..."

"... I may tell you than an Imbalance of Humours was ever at the Root of a Madman’s Distemper."

Sir Archy visits the comments section of "I don't get too high when I'm high, and I don't get too low when I'm low" (the post where I called Barack Obama phlegmatic).

Going to the dump to shoot rats.

= Megan McArdle's "weirdest date."

What is the Instapundit formula?

If it's so easy, why don't more people do it? Acephalous has an excuse — I mean other than his absence of a head — he doesn't "think disjointedly" and he can't "stop thinking about something seconds after I've started." And, I add, can't stop complimenting himself for his extensive thinking. (Are we calling that being your own Chris Matthews now?)

There's a reason that Glenn Reynolds gets 250 times as much traffic as Acephalous, and it can't be that what he is doing is so easy to do. Don't be so proud of your arduous lengthiness. The trick is to make it look effortless and to get yourself into a place where you don't seem to be about showcasing your intelligence.

Thanks to Simon for the link.

A new week buds.

Onion flower

Happy Monday.

AND: Please, please, please feel free to amuse me by Photoshopping my photographs the way Chip Ahoy did yesterday. I am still laughing about that.

"When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web."

Well, at least I know that's not about me. Because I'm not young.

How to fold a t-shirt in 2 seconds.

How To Fold A T-Shirt In 2 Seconds

Perfect! Don't try to learn it from watching the video. It's methodically explained here, and after one watch, you too will fold t-shirts amazingly. But be careful. You can become absorbed for hours poking into how-to videos once you go to that link.

Obama needs to "stop citing the world-historical greatness of his own speeches as if [he] were his own personal Chris Matthews."

Mickey Kaus wants to see some fake humility.

"I have to restore myself to not looking ridiculous."

A quote from Courtney Love, talking (only!) about getting her face redone after screwing it up with plastic surgery. From an article about bad plastic surgery, linked by Glenn Reynolds, who says: "My theory is that certain celebrities and socialites are around so many people who've had lots of work done that what looks weird to everyone else just looks normal to them."

But what is normal? The standard is constantly changing, and these socialites and celebrities are on the leading edge of that change. We've already adjusted to some of the things that looked abnormal to us a few years back. In a few years, seeing a smooth, tight, immobile face won't cause us look awry... and that's assuming our own faces will retain any capacity to look awry.

Hillary Clinton is a schoolyard bully.

Says Michael Goodwin:
It's a gang-girl taunt when she tells a big rally she will go anywhere, anytime for a throw down.

She offers to [debate] without a moderator, just the two of them asking and answering questions. Stripped of her gauzy spin that it could be like Lincoln-Douglas, she's really challenging him to a bareknuckle punchout. On TV.

It's what a schoolyard tough would do: Knock on a rival's door and dare him to come out and fight on the street. Right here, right now. No rules, just a slugfest, you and me.
And that's a good thing, right? I want this in my President. Don't you?

IN THE COMMENTS: Somefeller said:
The Goodwin article is further evidence of a certain wussy factor among many of Obama's supporters. I don't know if Goodwin is an official supporter, but he sounds like a standard Obama press fanboy. I was going to use another word that ends in "ssy" to describe this phenomenon, but I didn't want Ann to say I was sexist.
I'll say it: sissy. Obama should debate.

Drew W said:
The nastier Hillary gets, the more I like her, I agree.
Me too.

Maguro said:
This is a lot better than the crying schtick. You go, girl!

Fen said:
Iran is a bit of a bully too.

Maybe Obama can ask his teacher to speak with Ahmadinejad's parents.
Owie. That hurt.

Let's read an excerpt from Justice Scalia's book "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges."

Last night, on "60 Minutes," Justice Scalia talked about his new book — written with legal writing whiz Bryan Garner — "Making Your Case: Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges." Now, the ABA Journal provides a nice, long excerpt.

The Journal also quotes me in the intro, saying I "constantly dearly" wish the other Justices would write as well as Scalia. "Constantly dearly" — oh, good Lord, I wonder what Bryan Garner thinks of that sort of writing. It sounds like I'm having a Harlequin romance with the pugnacious jurist. I just wrote "pugnacious jurist" as a language joke to try to make Bryan Garner laugh. Anyway, I had to dig deeply, industriously, to find the old post where I said "constantly dearly" in some fulsome plaudit to the scrappy jurisprudent. It was way back in May 2004, in the fifth month of the blog:
Slogging through Supreme Court opinions and imposing them on my students, I constantly dearly wish all the Justices would write like Scalia (or Jackson or Holmes, to whom Scalia is compared elsewhere in the article). Like most law review articles, the Justices' opinions are usually written in a characterless, "learned" tone. Does persuasion consist of boring your opponent into submission? If you were going to write ten (or twenty or forty) pages that thousands of students were going to meticuously study, shouldn't you take the trouble--the opportunity!--to write something engaging? Reading the opinions of the other Justices, I often suspect the point is to give everything a look of tedious, unexceptionable regularity to disguise all the seams and shortcomings.
I guess I could write a book aimed at judges — "Writing Your Case: The Art of Enlightening the People Who Ought to Believe You Deserve Your Vast Power." But Scalia and Garner are writing to the lawyers who must beseech those judges, and let's get to the excerpt:
In brief-writing, one feature of a good style trumps all others. Literary elegance, erudition, sophistication of expression—these and all other qualities must be sac­rificed if they detract from clarity....

[Shun] puffed-up, legalistic language. Make your points and ask for your relief in a blunt, straightforward manner....

The clearer your arguments, the harder it will be for your opponent to mischaracterize them. Put yourself in the shoes of a lawyer confronting an opposing brief that is almost incomprehensible. You struggle to figure out what it means—and so does the court. What an opportunity to characterize the opposing argument in a way that makes it weak!
This is great stuff. Writing a book like this, the co-authors had to make sure their own writing style was terrific.

It's a long excerpt, so go to the link and read the whole thing or, better, buy the book. I'll just pick out some highlights.

1. Now, we have a Scalia cite for the important point that it's just fine to begin a sentence with a conjunction:
There’s a myth abroad that you should never begin a sentence with a conjunction. But look at any species of reputable writing—whether it’s a good newspaper, journal, novel or nonfiction work—and you’re likely to find several sentences per page beginning with one of those little connectives. You can hardly achieve a flowing narrative or argument without them.
And Virginia Woolf begins a whole book with one.

2. Don't be boring! It's the loser's way to try to look legalistic.
Banish jargon, hackneyed expressions and needless Latin. By “jargon” we mean the words and phrases used almost exclusively by lawyers in place of plain-English words and phrases that express the same thought. Jargon adds nothing but a phony air of expertise. A nexus, for example, is nothing more or less than a link or a connection. And what is the instant case? Does it have anything to do with instant coffee? Alas, to tell the truth, it’s no different from this case or even here.
We readers of Scalia opinions already know he loathes the word "nexus."

3. Stop saying "fatally flawed," "flies in the face of," "painting with a broad brush," and all those other things that you imagine make you sound like a lawyer. They just make you sound like a hack. Don't say "beyond peradventure." Ha ha. I have been making fun of the use of "beyond peradventure" for a long time. (See my old post "It cannot be gainsaid" — which is aimed at judicial writing.)

4. They tell us to avoid Latin phrases like ceteris paribus, inter alia, mutatis mutandis and pari passu. And I was just about to cite Scalia opinions that use them when I was brought up short by the next 2 sentences: "Judges are permitted to show off in this fashion, but lawyers must not. And the judge who does not happen to know the obscure Latin phrase you have flaunted will think you a twit." So the judge is allowed to lord it over you in a way that you dare not lord it over him? Are we talking strategy now or good writing? I contend that the judge ought to talk straight and not be any more obscure than the material requires. The judge is wielding power and ought to feel compelled constantly (dearly!) to prove to us that he deserves it. With those Latin phrases, it's as if he's chortling ha, ha, I have the power. I wonder if the judicial exception was in the first draft. I'm picturing Scalia making additions to a passage composed by Garner.

Oh, even my highlights are going on too long for a blog post, mainly because the text is inspiring commentary — which is an excellent thing. So I'll stop here for now. More highlights with commentary later. Buy the book and read along with me.