May 8, 2010

The Red Bud pond.


Captcha of the Day.

IN THE COMMENTS: Lou Minatti says "Hey!"

"Mrs. Ann, do you have (or could you produce) a list of 'DVD's you deem essential?'"

C Black sees a phrase I used and makes a request. I'm here to answer your questions, so, based on a quick scan of the shelf and probably leaving a few things out, here's my list (in alphabetical order) of 40 DVDs I'd try to get you to watch if you lived with me:
32 Short Films About Glenn Gould
American Movie
Aguirre the Wrath of God
Clockwork Orange
Coffee and Cigarettes
Divorce Italian Style
Don't Look Back
Dr. Strangelove
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
Fight Club
Grave of the Fireflies
Grey Gardens
Grizzy Man
It's a Gift
Modern Times
My Dinner With Andre
Nights of Cabiria
Pulp Fiction
Room with a View
Rosemary's Baby
Royal Tenenbaums
Serial Mom
Spirited Away
Streetcar Named Desire
The Blood of a Poet
The Shining
The War Room
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl
Wisconsin Death Trip
Wuthering Heights
Now, you may wonder which of these movies Meade had already seen and which ones have I succeeded in getting him to watch. You may wonder which ones, once watched, produced a negative reaction and about which ones did we see eye to eye. I'll leave that for Meade to say in the comments if he wants. The rest of you are welcome to guess, to produce your own lists, or to opine about mine.

At the Koi Café...


... you can surface.

"The Tea Party is a Frankenstein movement — an odd collection of factions, loosely stitched together, where the head, to the extent that it exists, fails to control the body."

Says Charles M. Blow, apparently longing for political parties with powerful leaders who tell all the little people what to do. Grassroots democracy is a monstrous thing... to Blow.

Oh, and also, per Blow, you're a big bunch of racists.

Did Coyote ever catch Road Runner?


I think this works as a political allegory, by the way. But for what?

"If we just told parents, 'No, this is wrong,' ... they may take their daughters back to their home countries, where the procedure may be more extensive cutting..."

"... and may even be done without anesthesia, with unsterilized knives or even glass. A just-say-no policy may end up alienating these families, who are going to then find an alternative that will do more harm than good."

And so the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on bioethics has issued a policy statement recommending an exception to the criminal law against "any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals" of a girl. A small cut of some kind... for the greater good. A ritual nick is that's "supposed to be as benign as getting a girl's ears pierced. It’s taking a pin and creating a drop of blood."

Creating a drop of blood.

Things singers sing that they do that they actually never do.

I'm starting a list:
  1. Hop a train.
  2. ...
  3. ...
I need some help with this one. I don't want fantasies, but real things that are intended to make the singers sound gritty and deeply in touch with life, but you know damned well they don't do.

(Here's the song that was playing....)

"A thousand years ago, popular birth control methods in the Western world included spitting into the mouth of a frog, eating bees and wearing the testicles of a weasel."

Actually, all those things work.

"The Strategic Imperative Not to Hire Anybody."

"[CEOs have] decided that we've touched bottom, or they wouldn't be talking to me... They're starting to think about growing their businesses again.... But boy, I don't see employment coming back, not for years. My clients were amazed by how much productivity they could squeeze out of their people in the downturn. They're not going to start hiring again — well, maybe temps or contract workers, but not regular, full-time employees... In fact, the CEOs are mad at their middle managers for not having eliminated more jobs earlier."

Brandon Hardesty plays "Goodfellas" as Jimmy Stewart and Stephen Hawking.

It's #2 in a series that is up to #56. Why haven't I noticed this YouTube channel before? This adorable reenactment is quite brilliant (with the familiar "Goodfellas" language):

The video that got my attention is Hardesty's reenactment of the famous bunker scene from the movie "Downfall." This was embedded at BoingBoing a few days ago and linked in the NYT last night. There's that annoying German production company that got YouTube to take down all the "Downfall" parodies that used the original footage from their movie. I hope they don't come after this use of the script.

I'm not going to watch the other 54 videos all at once, but I'm going to get to all of them. I was going to watch the "Fight Club" one, but I see that it's the scene that reveals the key secret, and I can't play it while Meade is in the room. He's never watched "Fight Club," though we've started the DVD a couple times.

(How long is it supposed to take to get your new lover/spouse to get through all of the DVDs you deem essential? I don't think we're going to live that long.)

"It doesn’t happen very often, but you’re obviously not attached to the principles of the Constitution if you’re being trained in bomb-making in Waziristan when you take the oath."

Bomb-fizzler Faisal Shahzad got to become a U.S. citizen, despite the requirement that he swear to "support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies." Imagine that!

"If Twitter is the new CNN, then @annalthouse is the new Oprah!"

I just retweeted that and then had to admit that I don't really know what it means.

"A nice" or "an ice"?

Think you can hear the difference?

I hope so, because I need people to hear the difference between "Ann Althouse" and "an Althouse." I feel so indeterminate sometimes.

May 7, 2010

"So, there's a Japanese artistic concept called a Thomasson."

"In short, they are 'defunct and useless objects, attached to someone's property and aesthetically maintained.'"


"You see these in every city; how many apartments, like ours in Hell's Kitchen, had a fireplace mantlepiece but no fireplace? Semi-blocked doors, walled-off terraces, connecting passageways of an old large house blocked off to make two smaller houses, staircases deprived of their entryways, all common sights. And while I enjoy all the mystical connotations of these, they also kind of make me sad; poor abandoned things. And also a little annoyed at what, most of the time, is just poorly-done renovation work."

ADDED: Wisconsin Law School old-timers remember — before the renovation — there was a short stairway near the library that ended in a bit of floorspace just big enough for the old sofa someone put there. Above it was a sign that read "Reality Checkpoint."

"Some humans are 4% Neanderthal."


Would it trouble you to learn that you are part Neanderthal?
Yes! I'd be upset to know that I am not entirely human.
Not at all! It would be thrilling. I'd be proud and fascinated.
I am whatever I am and have always been. It would make no difference. free polls

"People travel from all ends of the country on what is almost a pilgrimage to view the plant in bloom and are often overcome with emotion at the sight."

A flower requires and receives police protection.

"Chaz couldn't be happier."

"This is an important step in his transition and will allow him to change a variety of his identity documents to show who he truly is."

"I'm mad that they wore their stuff, but we were just mad the we were asked to change our stuff, but they could still wear their stuff."

"Yeah, I would have took my stuff off if they had to take their stuff off too."

It's a big controversy about... stuff.

No, it's a controversy about some high school kids wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo. Watch the video at the link. You can see that the kids who were into Cinco de Mayo felt "disrespected" by the display of the American flag on what they thought of as their day. It felt like a response... a debate. And I understand how all those kids felt. But the flag shirts were, of course, speech, and the school cannot go down the road of viewpoint discrimination, even if the school officials have some well-intended idea about making members of the minority group feel comfortable.

What the school needs is a neutral ban on T-shirts with symbols or writing. Require real shirts, with no writing or picture. Or go with uniforms. But if you let some kids speak via shirts, you have to let others respond via shirt.

Speech by shirt is a type of debate, but it's hardly the best kind of debate. It's quite close to the signaling that gang members do, which has no place in school. There is an appropriate worry about violence. There should be order in schools, and there can be strict rules limiting what students wear. Instead, teach students to express themselves with words. Help them develop their ideas beyond the rudimentary level of calling the flag stuff.

I remember when the use of the flag in clothing was all about disrespect. It was the kind of hippie shit that enraged WWII veterans. That was back when you weren't allowed to wear any sort of T-shirt to school. And now these young schoolboys are being used by right-wingers to make various political points. I would prefer to teach all the students to dress better and to speak better — not to say "I would have took my stuff" — and to have vigorous, substantive debates about politics.

And I like the way these schoolboys put on real shirts, shirts with collars, to do their TV interview. It is up to us adults to reach out to them and to help them. They are not our pawns. They mean well, I believe, and they are trying. It is time for all the adults in their world to help them and their antagonists to become the kind of adults who will make our country a better place.

"As it turns out, no, you cannot draw depictions of Muhammad in Madison."

"At least, not without having them immediately changed to pictures of Muhammad Ali, and not without having them censored the next day. Let's imagine an alternate universe. Let's say the drawings were never tampered with, but instead were met with nothing more than shrugged shoulders and public admonishment for our childish behavior. In this scenario the egg would be on our faces. Instead, suffice it to say that our point has been proven. The right to criticize religion and perform blasphemous acts needs to be defended more than ever."

Say the UW-Madison Atheists, Humanists & Agnostics. Via Jack Craver)

(Here's my position on the Mohammad-drawing protest.)

"Either the best YouTube video ever or the cinematic equivalent of birth control."

Are you going to see "Babies"? Am I?

"Look for President Obama to name his Supreme Court pick Monday, and look for it to be Solicitor General Elena Kagan...."

Says Mike Allen at Politico:
The pick isn’t official, but top White House aides will be shocked if it’s otherwise. Kagan’s relative youth (50) is a huge asset for the lifetime post. And President Obama considers her to be a persuasive, fearless advocate who would serve as an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia, and could lure swing Justice Kennedy into some coalitions. The West Wing may leak the pick to AP’s Ben Feller on the later side Sunday, then confirm it for others for morning editions. For now, aides say POTUS hasn’t decided, to their knowledge.
Well, then, Jeffrey Rosen, lick your wounds, and welcome Justice Kagan!

"The hope that the next justice will be a check on the power of corporations is entirely appropriate."

Writes Jeffrey Rosen:
After all, Stevens holds the seat that was previously occupied by William O. Douglas and Louis Brandeis, two of the leading anti-corporate crusaders of the twentieth century....
Anti-corporate crusaders? Sure, pick an anti-corporate crusader, Obama, and let's see how the back-and-forth in the Senate Judiciary Committee plays out. I mean, the nominee will still be confirmed, but in the rest of the political arena, leading up to the November elections? That would be brutal for the Democrats.
Yet none of the leading candidates for the Court appears to be an economic populist....

Why the absence of liberal economic populists from the shortlist?...

Since the 1960s, grassroots progressives have focused on non-economic issues: reproductive choice, for example, or civil liberties in an age of terrorism. That means that the current Supreme Court candidates had their legal sensibilities shaped in a political environment that was less preoccupied with questions of economic justice....
The Supreme Court itself stopped its own progressive forward glide when the opportunities for expanding constitutional rights arose in the context of redistribution of wealth (which is what Rosen and his ilk spin as "economic justice").
That’s a shame, because the most important issues the Roberts Court will confront over the next decade involve the constitutionality of environmental measures and economic regulations passed in the wake of the crash of 2008.... [I]t will not be enough for liberals simply to champion judicial deference for its own sake. The next justice will, like Brandeis and Douglas, need to make a substantive case for why these regulations are indispensable to protecting American democracy from the narrow interests of a corporate oligarchy....
If "environmental measures and economic regulations" are going to be passed, then why is anything more than deference to legislatures needed? Why should a Supreme Court Justice think he could bolster arguments for deference to democracy by expressing enthusiasm for the substance of the choices that legislatures have made?

The judicial role is strengthened by the appearance of neutrality and fidelity to law. Conversely, judges undercut their own power when they make it sound as though they are reaching their decisions because of their support for legislation that is challenged as a violation of constitutional rights. When arguments for constitutional rights fail, it should be (or at least appear to be) because the claimed rights don't exist, not because the rights claimants' interests are "narrow" and run counter to what the majority wants. Rights are supposed to work against the preference of the majority, so we should be wary of someone who says courts must "protect[] American democracy from... narrow interests." He is saying rights are not rights.
Although the next justice may not be an economic populist, the confirmation hearings ahead are an opportunity to cast the spotlight on the intersection between economic populism and the law. Leahy and other Senate Democrats should use the hearings to ask the nominee to discuss these questions in depth. 
Great! A bloodbath. Sounds exciting. I'll watch.

"This is a totally -- I don't know what, biorhythms, karma, I don't know what it is, but nothing about this day is making sense to me."

"I'm not sure that I'm actually conscious and awake, living in a dream here. (interruption) No, no, no. I don't know how to explain this. But in the news today, I've got all kinds of people saying this and that. None of what anybody thinks is interesting is interesting to me. And the stuff that does interest me, I'm still not sure why it does. So this is going to be very, very weird today because I look at the stacks of stuff here and maybe in five stacks I got three things here I really care about. The rest of it is, 'Okay I gotta do a service here and get involved in this because this is news that needs to be discussed, analyzed as only I can,' but it's tough to explain here. It's not that I don't care about it. It's that I'm confused. I've got all kinds of people all fired up about all kinds of stuff and I can't for the life of me understand why. (interruption) No, Snerdley, I do get confused at times. It's just that I never admit it. Here I am admitting it."

Rush Limbaugh, beginning his show yesterday.

What we're seeing there is...
a man confused by what's happening in the news and his own reaction to it.
a man with a disordered mind and the arrogance to think it's okay to let it show.
a disoriented man without the sense to disguise his embarrassing state.
a clever showman warming up and drawing us in. free polls

Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey — "We always seem to get rid of the good dames."

"[Courtney] Love is keen to align herself to these historical figures [who appear on the cover of her new album]. Strong, misunderstood women, all of whom met a grisly end."

Also pictured on the album cover, Courtney herself: "This picture is when I was very skinny - I'm almost six feet tall and at this point I'm about 101 lbs. No drugs, just total neuroses making this record."

6 feet tall and 101 pounds? If you say that's strong, then you will be misunderstood.

These super-skinny people who claim it just happened when they so focused on work. Such dedication to art that they forgot to eat. I've got to suspect they are lying, but if they are not... try writing the diet book about that weight-loss method.

If your suspicion is that Courtney is using drugs, this is a funny sentence: "The 45-year-old says she has been sober for 'seven years' and currently only takes prescription medications." Oh? Prescription medications? Okay? Or... grisly.

(Or, at least, gristly.)

May 6, 2010

At the Red Bud Café...





Andre Thomas, sentenced to death for killing his wife and 2 children, plucked out his eyes and then argued that his blindness made the death penalty unconstitutional.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said that the question whether he is a continuing threat to society is to be answered at the time of conviction. 

By proclaiming a National Day of Prayer, "the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."

So wrote Wisconsin's own Barbara Crabb, in a lawsuit brought by Madison's own Freedom From Religion Foundation.

But the injunction won't go into effect unless the ruling is upheld on appeal, which is, I think, unlikely. Meanwhile, the nefarious violator of the Establishment Clause is none other than our friendly President, Barack Obama, who says:
"I call upon the citizens of our nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God's continued guidance, grace, and protection as we meet the challenges before us."
It's that special day when the President pushes you to pray... or otherwise give thanks... depending on how you feel about these things.

There, now, has anyone been made to feel "that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community"?


The too-easy satire of The Onion's "Supreme Court Upholds Freedom Of Speech In Obscenity-Filled Ruling."

Everyone's linking to this thing, and it is pretty funny, but see what my problem is with it:
"It is the opinion of this court that the right to speak without censorship or fear of intimidation is fundamental to a healthy democracy," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority.... "In short, freedom of speech means the freedom of fucking speech, you ignorant cocksuckers."
The decision came Monday in response to the case of a Charleston, WV theater troupe that had been sued by city officials for staging a sexually explicit play with public funds. Reversing the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the theater, an outcome free-speech advocates are calling a victory and Justice Ginsburg called "a bitch-slap in the face of all those uptight limp-dicks."...
The Onion goes after social conservatives clamping down on sexually explicit speech.
"I'm beginning to wonder if you really understand what 'abridging the freedom of speech' means at all," said Stevens, a 34-year veteran of the court known for his often-nuanced interpretations of the First Amendment. "I'm also wondering whether you and your fat-faced plaintiffs over there need to have some respect for constitutionally protected expression fucked into your empty hick skulls."

Are hicks the threat to free speech? Maybe 20 or 30 years ago.

The Onion quotes Justice Breyer:
It likewise bears noting that, even if everyone on this court got brain damage and ruled against protected speech, we're sure as fuck not starting on some harmless bullshit play. We'd start on that ignorant-ass, Bible-thumping, Fred Phelps homophobe shit. How would those Jesus-blowing backwoods cracker motherfuckers like that?
See? The liberal urge — which is what motivates The Onion's writers — is to repress the speech it disapproves of. And that is the real threat to free speech that we experience today. At first glance this satire appears to be vigorously pro-free-speech, but I suspect that it's only pro-liberal speech. Maybe my suspicion is wrong, but I'd find The Onion a lot funnier if its satire caused its readers a little pain, instead of nudging them to laugh at people they already hold in contempt.

To test your commitment to free speech rights, think of some expression you hate and imagine protecting that. Don't think of something you love and imagine someone else repressing it. That's the test of whether you support free speech rights. The Onion doesn't test itself or its readers. And that makes The Onion's speech too bland. Come on, it's The Onion. Onion. Bland isn't true to that name.

Faisal Shahzad, in happier times.

It's that man from Connecticut who lost his home to foreclosure.
As a newlywed, the wedding guest said of Mr. Shahzad by e-mail from Pakistan, “there was no sign of him being extremist or, for that matter, he wasn’t a bit religious.” But in the past couple of years, after changing jobs and fathering two children, Mr. Shahzad “started talking more of Islam.”...
It must have been the economic downturn that made him want to melt the flesh off everyone who happened to be standing in Times Square. These are hard times.
“The recession had taken a toll on them, I guess,” he wrote in an e-mail message from Pakistan. He said that their money worries became apparent in 2008 or 2009 and that Mr. Shahzad “lost his way during the financial problems.” JPMorgan Chase has since moved to foreclose on the Shelton house, which the couple had abandoned in a hurry, leaving behind clothes and toys.
Because, you know, in all these foreclosures, people just suddenly run off and leave all their belongings. It's so sad — children without their toys.

I said Lady Gaga looked like she'd been swimming in seaweed, got caught in a net, and then, without removing the net, took up beekeeping.

But let's hear how Television Without Pity's Jacob describes her woeful "American Idol" performace:
A giant angel statue under blue lights, a naked gay man having spazzers on the floor, and Gaga at the piano covered in spray-painted black branches, herself in a black chiffon version of the costumes they had to wear in The Handmaid's Tale....
Link added.
She's still got a fishnet thing over her face, because she's weird about her face. Because it's weird.... The song is very slow and not my favorite of the catalog...
Yes, it was slow. Leaden. Odd when a [big star's] mediocre performance takes place on the "American Idol" stage. Even though the judges won't judge it, you construct judgely comments in your head. Man, if she were a contestant, they'd flay her. They'd peel off that seaweed and netting and flay her.
Lady Gaga stalks over to a giant Halloween Tree/Meat God, and plays the piano hardcore and things get kind of Shakira for a second, musically, but now she's singing about somebody named "Roberto." Maybe this song is actually written from the perspective of somebody named Roberto and she's even more about appropriating gay men's sex lives than usual, taking it global. Or maybe those are the names of two of her dancers and she's just making this song up as she goes along. Or maybe this is a tribute to Cinco de Mayo, because she keeps talking about Mexico....
I thought it might be some sort of commentary on the immigration crisis. What I heard was: hostile words for a series of men with Hispanic names — get away from me Hispanic men. I imagined that she might be on the anti-immigrant side of the debate — or trying to tap into that side of The American Brain.

May 5, 2010

At the Lone Cloud Café...

... shimmer.... scintillate.

Top 100 Academic Law Twitter Feeds.

Yikes! I'm on it...

What does that mean?
You'd better tweet more than once a week now.
Not much, since it's pretty hard to come up with 100 tweeting lawprofs.
The list was about getting traffic so they included you to get traffic from your blog.
Your tweets are rare but genuinely pithy and delicious. free polls

The lawprof on "Jeopardy."

Going back to that Saturday post reminds me to link to the rest of the "Jeopardy" series by my colleague Shubha Ghosh. Part II:
At various points during the green room briefing, each of the contestants was called into a side room for make-up.  Our make-up artist also does Vanna White and had just come back from a shoot in the Philippines with the hostess and famous right of publicity plaintiff.  Between applications of powder and eyeliner, I learned that make-up artists in Los Angeles are all free lance and look around on a day by day basis for gigs like the one in Jeopardy.  I wish I had more time to talk with the make-up artist, and not only about how better to highlight my features....
Ha ha. (Shubha is a guy.)
... I have to admit my heart skipped several beats as the door was opened and a short walk down the hallway revealed the Board and the glaring neon blue and silver of the contemporary Jeopardy stage.  Recent repeated viewings of the broadcast had imprinted  the design, totem-like, on my brain.  The set had a familiarity beyond the television viewings....
Part III:
... We saw how the Board was set and  reset, where the videoclues were displayed, how the sidelights came on and off indicating when we could buzz in... We practiced a game with easy questions, some involving Sony products, to get used to the feel of the buzzer, the flash of lights, the cadence of the questions as they filled the sound stage. I fumbled with the buzzer, kicked myself for not getting “what is a walkman?,” and ever so briefly worried whether I had on too much make-up....
Part 4:
... At one point, the judges stopped the game for an interminable period of time to see if my answer “prehistorical” was close enough to what they wanted “prehistory.”  What the…?...

At the end of it all, a dollar separated me from a tie with first place....

As they tape the end credits, the contestants stand on the stage next to Alex Trebek and engage in banter.  Alex asked me what kind of law I was involved with, and I said intellectual property. “That must be really interesting with the Internet and all, “ he said.  “Yes, the Internet and other things,” I replied, launching into a law professor shtick on the reasons intellectual property is interesting. He interrupted me: “Well, I think all you need to protect intellectual property is a good gun.”  I stared back at him: “Yes, well, that seems to be how the rap industry operates.”  Blank stare back.....
Wow, awkward banter with Alex Trebek! How many people get to do that?

"The sultan has a duty to the harem. You will be called upon countless times to perform duties only a man can carry out successfully."

"For example, you will: change flat tires, put on snow chains, unlock locked bumpers and carry in bulky packages."

A line from an obituary that I put at the end of this post from last Saturday. It's about my old teacher, Mr. Hannan, who wrote a novel about being the only male teacher at an elementary school. The name of another teacher comes up in the obit, and it sends me into an old memory:
Mr. Ginter! The man whose office I was sent to by teachers who didn't like my short skirts and long bangs! Ha. He tried to reason with me, hypothesizing what if a girl came to school in a bikini. What would happen to the poor boys? I reasoned back: I was not wearing a bikini, but a skirt — in the length that was fashionable. Let the girls wear pants then, but don't force me to wear a skirt that's the wrong length.
Here's a picture of me from that era, but that's not a mini-skirt, it's what you call a skort, and I would have been disciplined for wearing that even if it had been knee length.


Reacting to a NYT story about the problem women outnumbering men at various universities these day, Tung Yin writes:
... I went to Caltech for college in the mid- to late 1980s, where the male-female ratio was 8-1. From a social standpoint, it wasn't clear that 8-1 was better than infinity. I learned the term "glomming," which described the phenomenon of 6-8 guys standing around a single woman, usually with only one of the guys actually talking to her, and the rest just nodding their heads.
Glomming... it checks out in Urban Dictionary.

Glom is a funny word. I've always mixed it up with grok. Only grok is a Martian word.

"We haven't seen a typo that unfortunate since ... the Moops invaded Spain in the 8th century."


Reference video:


... screams Drudge. But go to the link:
BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.

On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.

During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years....
Eh. What's $77,051 to Obama? According to his spokesperson, he didn't take any money from corporate PACs when he was running for President. That actually makes the $77,051 more significant. He got it in earlier stages of his political career and, as they say, "Early money is like yeast, because it helps to raise the dough." Still... I find it hard to believe that $77,051, even adjusted for earliness, means anything to Obama.

"What do we know about the retirement of Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.)?"

Asks David Weigel, noting the hot political news of the day:
Why would one of the most powerful men in Congress, elected in 1968, in a district that went for the Obama-Biden ticket, bail out of reelection? Republicans point to the campaign of Sean Duffy, a telegenic (literally) district attorney who raised a lot of money, built a following among national conservatives and, according to everything I'm hearing, was giving Obey a real battle in his internal polls.

I've talked to Duffy several times and been so impressed...
Talk like that attracted the attention of conservatives who helped Duffy raise about $500,000 -- less than half as much as Obey, but for a campaign that explicitly promised to replace a power-broker who could bring money to the district with a small government conservative who would be totally disinterested in pork. You'll hear people credit the endorsements of Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty for Duffy's success, but that gets the story backward.
You may remember that we were talking about the Obey/Duffy face-off a few days ago, in the context of the problem of Republicans having a big advantage looking toward November but needing real candidates. Duffy is real. (And he was on "The Real World.")

ADDED: I was just reading Obey's bio on Wikipedia. It's surprisingly short — considering that he's been in Congress since 1969. (He replaced Melvin Laird, who became Nixon's Secretary of Defense.) Under "Controversies," there's only one item. If you're going to have exactly one controversy, it might as well be this:
On June 25, 2009, Obey got into a fight on the House floor with fellow Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California.
LOL at the dumb Wikipedia writing (which makes Obey a woman). Let's switch to the Roll Call text...

I shush Jim Pinkerton.

He's trying to disclose my Supreme Court plot!

Pet therapy.

For students.

Let's read "The Lifelong Single Gay Virgin."

This is another episode in a NY Magazine series, presenting, each week, a 7-days diary from a different anonymous individual. (I assume these are not fiction. Am I wrong?)

We're told the diarist is "27 years old, male, single, Upper West Side, gay":
6:30 a.m.: Consume oatmeal, orange juice, and coffee while watching Remains of the Day. Anthony Hopkins manages to inadvertently seduce Emma Thompson despite being a sociopath. What am I doing wrong?
Ha. Answer: Life isn't a movie. Imagine how different it would be if it was. Little random details would pay off big a few days/scenes later. Deja vu! I said Life isn't a movie to someone... yesterday. Ah, yes! A neighbor was describing her fight against gypsy moth caterpillars. Once she poisoned a tree full of them, and zillions of them fell to the ground and were writhing and bloody looking. (The juice that oozes out of them looks like human blood.) Later, she went out to clear the carcasses off the walkway, and they were all gone. She had a vision of them off somewhere gathering strength and plotting their revenge. Actually, her neighbor had swept the walk. But if it were a movie, the enraged caterpillars would be back — enlarged and superstrong as a result of the poison, Toxic Avenger-style — ready for human blood.

Back to the virgin:
7 a.m.: Lest anyone forget, Christopher Reeve was devastatingly handsome. Super. Smoking. Hot. Playing a principled American congressman doesn't hurt, either.

8:30 a.m.: Commute to nonprofit job. No one on my trains are cute enough to tear me away from my crossword puzzle. Thomas Edison's middle name: Alva....
Ah! This is exceedingly charming. Have you never experienced extended virginity/celibacy? I'd say this captures the vibe brilliantly. Was Thomas Edison — little Alvy — ever cute?

Maybe. In 1879.


5:30 a.m.: Commute to Penn Station. Dear day laborers who crowd the early morning trains, please touch me with your rough, dirty, work-worn hands. Much obliged.

7:30 a.m.: Business trip to New Jersey. This state is worse than I remembered. My penis is inverting....

6:30 p.m.: Call non-boyfriend and tell him not to visit. He is upset. I feel like a jerk. Perhaps I am a jerk.

8 p.m.: I wonder if being single forever is the curse that everyone says it is. I'm single, have always been single. I used to think that despite a dearth in sexual partners and romantic relationships, I was genuinely happy. But now I think that because of a dearth in sexual partners and romantic relationships, I'm genuinely happy.
And that is the dangerous thought. But what is more seductive than dangerous thoughts? Did you recoil from that idea as from a bloody, enraged gypsy moth caterpillar? Did you shrink from it like a penis reacting to New Jersey? Do you immediately assume this young man is deluded and pathetic? He could be right. What would the world be like if he were right? Take a moment to imagine it. Did you imagine the world we are in? If not, why not?

"It started with five words — 'I want to go home' — even though this is her home."

"It's a cruel disease."

"You have to stop thinking logically, because the people you’re looking for are no longer capable of logic."

After Harry Connick night (AKA Frank Sinatra night) all of the Idol contestants are at risk.

And with only one female left in the group of 5, I bet the producers are desperately regretting that they tucked Crystal Bowersox in the center of the lineup and the judges all went so negative on her. Simon thought her lovely version of "Summer Wind" was too much like something you'd hear in a jazz club. He said that with a sneer so we'd understand what a bad thing that is.

She was criticized for sleepiness and lack of urgency. They want more of a strenuous demonstration that you really want this thing — which is the grotesque way most of the contestants act. Now, Lee Dewyze has also had a shy style, but somehow they've decided he's the one they want to win — or at least he's the one they want to provide competition for Crystal, who has long seemed like the predestined winner.

But what if, in trying to make Lee into her worthy competitor, they've let her slip through the cracks? If she goes home tonight, there will be 4 left, all male, and all pretty boring. Do you really want to tune in and not to be able to see any females? It will be grim! There was once a season that became all male when there were 3 left, and there were 2 more with a male final 2.  If Crystal goes... ratings disaster.

Anyway... Harry Connick Jr. was the best mentor guest they've ever had on the show. He didn't just listen to the contestants and give them some advice. He did the arrangements and played on stage with them. And he's so charming. Lee is lucky he kinda looks like Harry. It gave him a sexiness boost to be seen with Harry. I was thinking, yeah, he could be like that.

And here's Lee DeWyze singing his Sinatra song: "That's Life." Are you an obsessive enough reader of this blog to remember that I wrote about this song — back in 2008 in a post with photographs of a foggy cemetery?
As I drove into the cemetery, just by chance, on the radio's "Sinatra" channel, Van Morrison was singing "That's Life." I can't find the Van Morrison version, but here's Frank Sinatra. Lyrics (by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon):
I said that's life, and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks,
Stompin' on a dream
But I don't let it, let it get me down,
'Cause this fine ol' world it keeps spinning around...

That's life and I can't deny it
Many times I thought of cutting out
But my heart won't buy it
But if there's nothing shakin' come this here July
I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die
What a crazy song! It's all life affirming and then, impetuously, suicidal.
So I was excited that Lee was singing that song. How would he do the crazy big-ball-and-die climax? Answer: He didn't. It was arranged to end with "this fine ol' world it keeps spinning around." Life affirming. Blah. It's "American Idol" and any possible sharp edges must be dulled.

It's Let's Talk Like Rahm Emanuel Day!

Come on, everybody! It's exciting. It's liberating.

Somebody not talking straight to you?
"Take your f***ing tampon out and tell me what you have to say."
Dog getting under foot?
"I’m going to kill that f***ing dog."
(Those 2 quotes are from this Ed Driscoll piece, where I arrived via Instapundit.)

What's worse, the tampon remark or threatening the dog?
Threatening the dog, because I love pets.
Threatening the dog, because death is horrible.
The tampon remark, because it implies that women are inferior to men.
The tampon remark, because it's so odd and icky. free polls

ADDED: Tung Yin notes a semi-scientific test that might explain the connection between Rahm's way of talking and his success. It's all about pain.

May 4, 2010

A new Bloggingheads — called "Dangerous Minds" — with me and Jim Pinkerton.

This was recorded just a few hours ago. They got it up quick, so it must be good:

Here's a list of the highlighted topics:
The Times Square bomber, immigration, and assimilation
Does fighting terrorism require policing minds?
Jim defends Arizona’s new immigration law
Ann reveals her devious Supreme Court plot
Intellectual diversity and a Harvard student’s controversial email
Note that they've got me on the left side of the split screen for this one. With good reason!

At the Wild Turkey Café...


... go wild.

How did Faisal Shahzad — the accused failed Times Square bomber — get to be an American citizen?

He married an American woman — born in Colorado. And she and her 2 children are reportedly still in Pakistan, where Shazad was born and trained in bomb-making.

"Socially, artistically, it was totally worth it."

"Financially, it wasn't worth it."

"New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling."

"But there are other cities. Detroit. Poughkeepsie. New York City has been taken away from you. So my advice is: Find a new city."

Also, Newark... says Patti Smith.

"So Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are in a row boat, and it springs a leak and starts to sink. Who gets saved? The American people."

Senator Kyl tells a poor joke and gets "a big laugh" at the National Republican Senatorial Committee retreat.

Kyl's joke is...
... terrible because it envisions the death of real human beings.
... terrible because it's either old or it sounds like it's old.
... okay because who cares what dumb verbiage was used to loosen up a crowd.
... okay because it conveys a core truth that justifies a little sadism. free polls

"White House in P.R. 'panic' over spill."

Says Politico.

They can't pontificate about Bush and Katrina anymore. Wouldn't it be amazing if Obama were to empathize with Bush's predicament? That would change the tenor of political discourse in Washington.

"If you’re a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website. "

"It may make your blood boil; your mind may not be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship."

So said Obama in his University of Michigan graduation address.

Limbaugh's response:
Now, this from the guy who said in the first month of his administration, you'll remember when I remind you, he had a meeting of Republican and Democrat congressional leaders in the White House and he looked at John Boehner, and he said, "You gotta stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. That's not how things get done in Washington."...

Now, he also said -- we don't have this on the bite -- but he did say if you're a fan of something else you should try Fox News.
What Obama said was "if you’re somebody who only reads the editorial page of The New York Times, try glancing at the page of The Wall Street Journal once in a while." He didn't mention Fox News. He's still not recommending Fox News (or Rush Limbaugh).

Back to Rush:
I mean he tried to balance this out, but the problem with it is that it's not what he does. He's as closed-minded a president as we've ever had. He doesn't listen to opposing points of views. He doesn't want to hear them. Remember the health care summit, the look on his face when Paul Ryan told the truth about health care, you could see the rage. Obama wasn't open to it. He's not open to anybody else's ideas. He may want you to think so, but he's not. What Obama doesn't understand is that you do watch other media. You do read other media. You do listen to other media. You may not do it as much because you don't trust it and like it anymore. You know the New York Times is what it is. You know that the Huffing and Puffington Post is what it is. You know what you're going to get out of TIME Magazine. I play for you on this program what they say.

The sound bites that we play on this show are primarily of people who oppose me or have opposing points of view. I'm not afraid for you to hear what they think. But here's Obama telling the students at University of Michigan Ann Arbor, "Don't be afraid, you know, you Limbaugh fans, don't be afraid." People that listen to this show know more of what Obama and the liberals are saying than people who listen to left-wing shows. We don't hide from it. And the people in this audience are not by any stretch of the imagination uninformed or ignorant about what Obama is, who he is and what he believes.
It is true. Limbaugh's show is mainly him reading or playing sound bites from the liberal media and liberal politicians and then commenting on it. The liberal commentary is always there. He's just also there showing you how to be critical of it. It's very much like blogging, where you have a political blogger who is choosing items he disagrees with and then... as we say... fisking.

Obama blames Republicans for "set[ting] the tenor for the whole year... that helped to create the tea-baggers..."

Tea baggers!

Talk about setting the tenor... He's setting the countertenor.

"The Obama admin hoped the Times Square bomber was a R-wing extremist. Rush hoped the oil rig was sabotaged by environmentalists."

The audacity shame of hope...

"I only eat the light bulb during my breakfast, and each day no more than one bulb."

Wang Xianjun likes eating light bulbs. They're "crispy and delicious." He's 54 and he's being doing it since he was 12:
"I accidentally swallowed a piece of thick fish bone, but nothing happened. With curiosity, I tried several pieces of broken glasses secretly and nothing happened also."
Ha. Why do we love these stories about people eating non-food items? I remember reading Natalie Goldberg's essay "Man Eats Car":
There was an article in the newspaper several years ago — I did not read it, it was told to me — about a yogi in India who ate a car. Not all at once, but slowly over a year's time. Now, I like a story like that. How much weight did he gain? How old was he? Did he have a full set of teeth? Even the carburetor, the steering wheel, the radio? What make was the car? Did he drink the oil?

"Harvard Law students are not in the 'pursuit of truth.' They’re not scientists. They’re not researchers."

"They’re law students and legal academics. I presume that everyone there is manifestly unqualified to evaluate the scientific evidence one way or the other. It’s rebuttable. If they show me their scientific creds, I’ll listen. Until then, STFU."

So says a commenter over at Volokh, provoking are great response from Volokh:
Now if these comments just complained about people who write definitive-sounding op-eds or blog posts about subjects they know nothing about, I wouldn’t be responding to it here. But of course the author of the e-mail wasn’t writing an op-ed aimed at persuading the public. She was continuing a conversation with a friend. The recommendation is that non-scientists who don’t know much about the subject shouldn’t even discuss it....

[W]hat a narrow, stultifying notion of education that is. Read quietly, on your own, with no discussion with others who are interested in the subject, until you become knowledgeable enough. Only then should you feel authorized to discuss it. Only then will we be “sympathetic” should you be publicly pilloried for your e-mail to a friend that raises the question — because only then could we say that “actual science is being foreclosed” by the condemnation of you.
The law school classroom experience requires students to discuss complicated and sensitive subjects in front of other students. How on earth are we going to be able to do that if the students think there's a terrible risk in saying the wrong thing — or the right thing the wrong way?
The way most people actually educate themselves effectively, it seems to me, is very different. They get interested in a subject. They talk to friends about it. They read some more. They talk some more about their readings, perhaps especially with people who are also learning about the matter. Their friends might help correct their errors. Enlightenment might emerge in a conversation when it didn’t emerge in mere reading.
Yes. Exactly. Human culture emerges as people interact with each other. Life would be very different if it was all about reading and studying. In fact, this is why we value diversity in the classroom, so that different kinds of individuals will converse and react. We will get to a better understanding of things that way.

Now, part of that really is seeing and feeling what makes other people angry. This conversation that is so valuable can't be bland and emotionless. Emotion is a part of reasoning and learning. But what does the group do to itself? What should the law school classroom (or any classroom) be like? There is an ideal level of interaction that includes ease and care in the expression of ideas and the response to what other people are saying. I want students to debate and even argue, to get excited and even angry, but not to the point where the exchange breaks down.

Back to Volokh:
That’s supposed to be one of the joys of intellectual life. It’s supposed to be one of the advantages of life in a university, where you can find classmates who — like you — have intellectual interests beyond your narrow field of study.
My law school, the University of Wisconsin, prides itself on interdisciplinary study. We encourage students (and faculty) to import other fields of study into working within law. We like the cross-fertilization and don't see the academic disciplines walled off from each other (with the walls staunchly guarded by the experts). Do you think law should be aridly academic? Do you think cases should be argued and decided by people who are intensely specialized in the study of legal texts? If you think you do, I don't think you'd keep thinking that if we had a way to run the experiment and see the results.

Back to Volokh:
Some of the people who learn about the subject may end up working on it professionally. People with Ph.D.s in physiology and membrane biophysics might write prominent books on anthropology and geography. Computer programmers who get interested in law, and who spend years talking to their friends about policy questions unrelated to their formal educations, might become lawyers. 
Volokh himself is that computer programmer. Jared Diamond is the biophysicist.

I think the lesson here is that we should want to experience our full humanity and to understand and respect and help each other as full human beings. This is an idea that completely harmonizes with the rejection of racism.

May 3, 2010

At the Chickens and Pug Café...


... don't turn away.


"To many members of the public, this Court’s main entrance and front steps are not only a means to, but also a metaphor for, access to the Court itself."

"This is why, even though visitors will remain able to leave via the front entrance, I find dispiriting the Court’s decision to refuse to permit the public to enter."

"This is where Kaitlyn is. This is where we feel her and this is where we visit her."

The touchy problem of roadside memorials. I've written about this a number of times. This is a really awful-looking one.

"The United States is correct that it need not wait until people are killed before it arrests conspirators."

"But, the Defendants are also correct: their right to engage in hate-filled, venomous speech, is a right that deserves First Amendment protection."

"Racist Harvard Law Email: The Cat Fight That Turned Into a National Scandal."

Oh, no!

We cannot absolutely rule out the the possibility that women are, on average, genetically predisposed to be....

Ha. How horribly, embarrassingly messy for everyone at Harvard who took the bait. They got sucked into the vortex. They got played.

AND:  David Lat has some details. And some opinion:
Heck, this episode probably won’t even stop Steph from landing a Supreme Court clerkship. If I were in her shoes, I’d focus my efforts on Justice Clarence Thomas. Of all the members of the Court, he’d probably be most open to hiring the victim of what some conservatives might call, to paraphrase CT himself, the “high-tech lynching [of conservative females] who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas.”
He also has an update from the woman whom some accused of leaking the email. She writes:
There was no fight over a guy (this isn’t Mean Girls). I certainly didn’t yell that I would ruin Stephanie’s life.

Moreover, I didn’t forward the e-mail to BLSA, anyone in BLSA, or ATL....

I know that you would prefer anything related to two girls to be a catfight... but that just isn’t how it happened.


If you're trying to remember the "Seinfeld" reference for "cat fight," it's "The Summer of George":
Jerry: Did you tell Peterman about this?

Elaine: Well, I tried, but he thought it was some sort of cat fight.

Kramer: Cat fight?

Elaine: Ok, why? Why do guys do this? What is so appealing to men about a cat fight?

Kramer: Yeye cat fight!

The new leaves are crisply pleated...


Jonah Goldberg goes for the GOP jugular.

He's summarizing Frum's argument to Frum there, but it's funny to hear him say it. (The clip was clipped by Bloggingheads commenter claymisher.)

The "we know where you live" tax amnesty ad: creepy or awesome?

Ed Morrissey calls it "creepy" because it's not a "friendly invitation." They're trying to get people to pay up. How friendly should it be? I think it's awesome, because it's motivating. And it provides some amusement to those of us who pay our taxes and have the nagging feeling that we're paying more because other people are delinquent.

Also, for some reason, I don't find robotic voices intimidating. If I'm interacting with a bureaucrat, I prefer a robot.


"I was lucky that my physical fitness levels were very high before my arms were fractured and after six weeks in plaster I was still in pretty good shape.... It hasn’t affected my ability as a sniper."

"He preferred, like many another marijuana enthusiast, to take his dope in the form of large handfuls of cookies and brownies."

From the upcoming Christopher Hitchens memoir "Hitch-22." The "he" referred to in the quote is Bill "Didn't Inhale" Clinton. I have no idea if Hitchens is joking or actually has access to info.

Advice not taken.

"If you're a Democrat, you make fun of Democrats and go easy on the Republicans; if you're a Republican, you do the opposite."

"My favorite thought-piece about Ferris Bueller is the 'Fight Club' theory..."

Do not read on if you have not already seen "Fight Club." The way the secret in that movie is revealed is the most thrilling cinematic moment ever for me. Watch "Fight Club" tonight. Watch "Fight Club" as a double feature with "Ferris Bueller" and then come back here and discuss the incredibly cool theory. Or if you're a properly prepared member of our popular culture and have seen "Fight Club" and "Ferris Bueller," then read on and join the conversation now.

The quote is from MetaTalk via Throwing Things:
My favorite thought-piece about Ferris Bueller is the "Fight Club" theory, in which Ferris Bueller, the person, is just a figment of Cameron's imagination, like Tyler Durden, and Sloane is the girl Cameron secretly loves.

One day while he's lying sick in bed, Cameron lets "Ferris" steal his father's car and take the day off, and as Cameron wanders around the city, all of his interactions with Ferris and Sloane, and all the impossible hijinks, are all just played out in his head. This is part of the reason why the "three" characters can see so much of Chicago in less than one day -- Cameron is alone, just imagining it all.

It isn't until he destroys the front of the car in a fugue state does he finally get a grip and decide to confront his father, after which he imagines a final, impossible escape for Ferris and a storybook happy ending for Sloane ("He's gonna marry me!"), the girl that Cameron knows he can never have.
Ha ha. Brilliant. (I've never seen a Metafilter comment with that many "favorite" votes — 381, including mine.)

I wonder what other movies are susceptible to the "Fight Club" theory.

AND: For law fans, here's the AskMetafilter thread aimed at listing all the crimes Ferris Bueller and his friends commit during "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

"I think this is all just a clever ploy to get people talking about how much better Harvard Law was when Elena Kagan was Dean."


Why Roger Ebert hates 3D and why I hate when the top story at Slate right now takes me to a 3-day-old article in Newsweek.

Okay. Roger Ebert hates 3D because:
3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood's current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.
I agree. Fine.

But I didn't go to Slate last night to read Newsweek, and I don't think the top story at Slate should be 3 days old, whether it's really a Slate article or not.

What has happened to Slate? For years and years, I went there every day. Lately, I've noticed that I avoid the place, and I'd been wondering why. That Newsweek thing really irritated me, but it's not just that. When I go there I find a a list of tempting titles — must clicks. But click and be disappointed. I've been through that too many times. Now, I scan the teasers and just think: They're trying to make me click. Like I'm in some kind of battle with them and I win by refusing to click.

I don't go to the movies much either. Ads for movies feel the same way. They're trying to make me click give them $10.

Is Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein too empathetic about the 9/11 lawsuits?

The NYT channels criticisms of a federal judge who has involved himself in judging the fairness and adequacy of settlements in non-class action lawsuits. (In a class action, the judge is required to determine that a setttlement "is fair, reasonable, and adequate.")

The NYT article portrays the 76-year-old as having lost his bearings:
The struggle over control of the settlement has underscored two different, but not necessarily contradictory views of the judge: the compassionate jurist driven by a sense of social responsibility and with a wealth of experience with victims’ suffering, and the aggressive judge unwilling to cede ground on cases he has shepherded for years...
“This is history for him,” said Arthur Miller, a professor at New York University School of Law who specializes in federal procedure. “This is an awesome responsibility. He wants to be the person who brought peace to this entire situation. He would not be human if he didn’t feel a personal interest in this.”...

Donald A. Migliori, a lawyer for survivors in airline-related cases whose settlement amounts were reduced, said that such intervention was unusual in a non-class-action suit. “It’s a very frustrating thing for lawyers,” he said. “He’s guided by a concept of fairness that’s not in the law.”...

... John Feal, who works as an advocate for the 9/11 workers through his FealGood Foundation, counters that Judge Hellerstein himself has emerged as a ground zero hero.

“The judge is now like Elvis in the 9/11 community,” he said. “For years these guys have been neglected, and now there’s someone who cares.”

"[C]oncern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa."

"To the man of action the first criterion in determining which means to employ is to assess what means are available. Reviewing and selecting available means is done on a straight utilitarian basis -- will it work? Moral questions may enter when one chooses among equally effective alternate means."

From a list of Saul Alinsky quotes selected by Right Wing News.

I also liked this story:
The difference between fact and history was brought home when I was a visiting professor at a certain Eastern university. Two candidates there were taking their written examinations for the doctorate in community organization and criminology. I persuaded the president of this college to get me a copy of this examination and when I answered the questions the departmental head graded my paper, knowing only that I was an anonymous friend of the president. Three of the questions were on the philosophy of Saul Alinksy. I answered two of them incorrectly. I did not know what my philosophy or motivations were; but they did!
I wonder if that is as severe of a criticism of the teachers as he seemed to think. The teachers haed learned and taught Alinsky's philosophy based on what he put in writing, but he had access to his own brain, which was continually creating new material and choosing, when writing, what to include and how to frame things.

Note how he shifted from the phrase "the philosophy of Saul Alinksy" (the subject of the questions) to the "philosophy or motivations" of Saul Alinsky. He had unique access to knowledge of his motivations, and I wonder how honest he was with himself or in his written answer to the questions about what his motivations were (if that's what a question called for). The teachers might have wanted some critical thinking about Alinsky, while he may have flattered himself.

The author is not the best judge of what is contained in his own books, because it is confused with all the other things he thinks and the things he meant to say but didn't or wishes he had (or hadn't) said.

On the other hand, there's Woody Allen's great fantasy of producing the author to refute some jackass's assertion about what is in a book:

May 2, 2010

"I am not homophobic but sometimes I do say that the Bible says homosexuality is a crime against the Creator," said the preacher who was arrested.

"Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act."

"Apparently Massa claimed that Rahm came up to him one day in the House locker room, stark naked, started screaming obscenities at him — to which I say, welcome to my world."

President Obama at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

Roman Polanski can remain silent no longer.

Read his statement. I don't see that it adds anything new. His lawyers have already said all this. But he'd like you to think he's been holding something back all this time and now has simply got to say it.

Sunday afternoon on Lake Mendota.

Clouds loom over tiny sailboats:


A dog is vigilant as we approach The Terrace:


The place is packed as students talk and study:


ADDED: I'm just noticing the 4 tables in the front. There's a group of female students, a group of male students, a solo female student (studying, with earbuds in), and a solo male student (studying, with earbuds in).

"Now I hasten to say that the controversy at Harvard is only a pale echo of Soviet Communism."

Writes Eugene Volokh (who knows how it felt to live in the Soviet Union):
With luck, this student won’t have her career ruined, or even much affected. I’ve seen a public call for her to be expelled.... but I doubt that this will happen. And even if some of the best future jobs are closed off to her, at least for a while, a Harvard Law diploma will get you to plenty of places. She doesn’t have to worry, I suspect, about not being able to feed herself or her future family.

Yet the public revelation of a private conversation; the public condemnation by management; the obvious danger of serious career ramifications; the apology, which I take it came out of a fear of those ramifications — all for daring to say to friends something that simply represents a basic scientific principle (the need to be open to the possibility that there are racial differences in intelligence, as one is open to other possibilities on other scientific questions) — that just sounded a little too familiar to me.

It’s a pale echo, but of something so bad that we should be wary even of pale echoes.
Isn't this a teaching moment for Harvard Law School? Dean Minow's memo dated April 29th said:
A troubling event and its reverberations can offer an opportunity to increase awareness, and to foster dialogue and understanding. The BLSA leadership brought this view to our meeting yesterday, and I share their wish to turn this moment into one that helps us make progress in a community dedicated to fairness and justice.
So the original "troubling event" was something Minow chose to use as a teaching moment to increase awareness, and to foster dialogue and understanding. She embraced the practice of turning the difficult material into an occasion to make progress in a community dedicated to fairness and justice.

Keep teaching, professor! A lot of us are prepped and eager for Lesson 2!

Terrorism and T-shirt vendors.

"At 6:28 p.m.... a video surveillance camera recorded what was believed to be the dark green Nissan S.U.V. driving west on 45th Street. Moments later, a T-shirt vendor on the sidewalk saw smoke coming out of vents near the back seat of the S.U.V., which was now parked awkwardly at the curb with its engine running and its hazard lights on. The vendor called to a mounted police officer, the mayor said, who smelled gunpowder when he approached the S.U.V. and called for assistance. The police began evacuating Times Square, starting with businesses along Seventh Avenue, including a Foot Locker store and a McDonald’s."

Take a moment to appreciate street vendors. Think of the value of their alert eyes at street level in the busiest places. Let's reflect again on what Jane Jacobs wrote in her brilliant book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities":
A well-used city street is apt to be a safe street. A deserted city street is apt to be unsafe. But how does this work, really? And what makes a city street well used or shunned? ... A city street equipped to handle strangers, and to make a safety asset, in itself, out of the presence of strangers, as the streets of successful city neighborhoods always do, must have three main qualities:
First, there must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public space and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

Second, there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers, must be oriented to the street. They cannot turn their back or blank sides on it and leave it blind.

And third, the sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously, both to add to the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch the sidewalks in sufficient numbers. Nobody enjoys sitting on a stoop or looking out a window at an empty street. ... Large numbers of people entertain themselves, off and on, by watching street activity.
The basic requisite for such surveillance is a substantial quantity of stores and other public places sprinkled along the sidewalks of a district; enterprises and public places that are used by evening and night must be among them especially. Stores, bars and restaurants, as the chief examples, work in several different and complex ways to abet sidewalk safety.
First, they give people -- both residents and strangers -- concrete reasons for using the sidewalks on which the enterprises face.

Second, they draw people along the sidewalks past places which have no attractions to public use in themselves... Moreover, there should be many different kinds of enterprises, to give people reasons for crisscrossing paths.

Third, storekeepers and other small businessmen are typically strong proponents of peace and order themselves; ... they are great street watchers and sidewalk guardians if present in sufficient numbers.

Fourth, the activity generated by people on errands, or people aiming for food or drink, is itself an attraction to still other people.
Thanks to the guardians of the street.

Neo Neo-con flunks Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow.

It's that statement of the facts.

How bad is it to say "one of our students suggested that black people are genetically inferior to white people" when what the student wrote was "I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent"? There is a difference between "suggesting" something is true and conceding that you don't have a basis for excluding the possibility that something is true.

The language in the email places itself in the context of a continuing conversation, and any attempt to interpret it should acknowledge that we have it out of context — and that it seems to have been leaked by someone who was privy to the whole conversation. The phrase "I absolutely do not rule out the possibility...," implies that that during the conversation, the student was criticized by someone else for ruling out the possibility. What does that... suggest... about the full context of the email and the motives for leaking it?

AND: In the comments, Jon said: "[T]he student didn't say 'genetically inferior,' she said 'less intelligent.' Does Dean Minnow think that everyone less intelligent than her, is genetically inferior?"

It's possible — possible! — that Minow thinks that everyone less intelligent than her is inferior, but for reasons having only to do with nurture. This must be an interesting subject for her, because she's the daughter of a highly successful man, Newton Minow (the FCC chairman who called TV a "vast wasteland"). Does she trace her high intelligence only to environmental factors? Most likely, it's a subject about which she chooses not to speak. Not in public anyway. Perhaps she once emailed someone about that.

But consider Minow's other interpretive leap — that to be less intelligent is to be inferior. Why isn't that an even more outrageous statement than what the student (Stephanie Grace) said?

Are less intelligent individuals inferior? It's time for our lesson in Elementary Class Consciousness. From Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" (PDF, page 20-21):
“Elementary Class Consciousness, did you say? Let’s have it repeated a little louder by the trumpet.”

At the end of the room a loud speaker projected from the wall. The Director walked up to it and pressed a switch.

“. all wear green,” said a soft but very distinct voice, beginning in the middle of a sentence, “and Delta Children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.”

There was a pause; then the voice began again.

“Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able .”
Are the Alphas superior? They have to work so hard and wear grey... I’m so glad I’m a Beta. Betas don't think they're inferior! They are less intelligent though.

Do you think the most intelligent people are the best? Let's hear from P.J. O'Rourke:
I’m sure up at Harvard, over at the New York Times, and inside the White House they think we just envy their smarts. Maybe we are resentful clods gawking with bitter incomprehension at the intellectual magnificence of our betters. If so, why are our betters spending so much time nervously insisting that they’re smarter than Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement?...

The C student starts a restaurant. The A student writes restaurant reviews. The input-worshipping universe of the New York Times is like New York itself—thousands of restaurant reviews and no place we can afford to eat.

Let us allow that some intelligence is involved in screwing up Wall Street, Washington, and the world. A students and Type-A politicians do discover an occasional new element—Obscurantium—or pass an occasional piece of landmark legislation (of which the health care reform bill is not one). Smart people have their uses, but our country doesn’t belong to them. As the not-too-smart Woody Guthrie said, “This land was made for you and me.” The smart set stayed in fashionable Europe, where everything was nice and neat and people were clever about looking after their own interests and didn’t need to come to America. The Mayflower was full of C students. Their idea was that, given freedom, responsibility, rule of law and some elbow room, the average, the middling, and the mediocre could create the richest, most powerful country ever.