March 18, 2006

"A friend of ours saw 'four killed in cartoon violence,' and added, 'by anvil.'”

Comic writing, analyzed.

"Incompetent," "good," "idiot," "liar," "Christian," "honest," "arrogant," "strong," "integrity," and "ass."

Those are words to describe President Bush, in rank order, according to a recent Pew poll.

The link is to a New Republic article by Ryan Lizza, who goes on to talk about Senator Feingold's censure effort. Read the details. Here's the conclusion:
[T]he partisans on the left cheering Feingold appear to have both the policy and the politics wrong. Censure is meaningless. Changing the FISA law is the way to address Bush's overreach. And the only way for Democrats to change FISA is for them to take back the Senate. This week, Feingold's censure petition has made that goal just a little bit more difficult to achieve. What an ass.
Via Scott Lemieux, who thinks Lizza is expressing "TNR center-right contrarianism at its most vacuous." Why? Because if you think it's politically damaging to censure the President -- per Lemieux -- you ought also to be afraid to put stronger, more explicit limits in th FISA law. But I think Lizza's point is that censure is just blowing off steam, incurring political damage without changing anything. Playing it carefully now, in Lizza's view, would help the Democrats win over Congress in the '06 elections, at which point they could amend the statute and have a real effect. Lemieux, nevertheless, asks "And if the Democrats believe that he was breaking the law, why on earth shouldn't he be censured?" I don't quite think he's the best person to be deciding who's "vacuous."

Off keynote.

Today is the WisPolitics blog summit. I'll be going first, giving the keynote address, but I've got a feeling that the chance of my striking the keynote are slim.

UPDATE: James Widgerson describes the event. And he's really right about that reporter's photograph.

"We're now two generations into a lack of culinary knowledge being passed down from our parents."

Says one cooking teacher. And cookbook writers are dumbing down the recipes, not trusting you to understand words like "sauté" and "simmer." Then there's the guy who emailed General Mills to ask if he could substitute a peach for the eggs in a recipe. And yet three quarters of meals are still prepared at home. Presumably, people are microwaving frozen things, making sandwiches, pouring bowls of cereal, opening bags of chips, and that sort of thing. Is this so wrong? Every other day you get a real meal in a restaurant, and the rest of the time you tide yourself over with sandwiches, cereal, and snack food. And don't forget to eat it in front of the TV. I think "Top Chef" is on.

March 17, 2006

"Elevator to the Gallows."

Today, I saw this brilliant poster:



This 1957 film will play at the Orpheum soon. Here's an NPR segment from last summer about the newly restored film. They've got the original poster over at that link. Here it is:



Don't you love Jean Moreau? Don't you love Louis Malle? This is one of his first films. An early Malle film that we love chez Althouse is "Zazie Dans Le Metro." A later Malle film, which happens to be my favorite film ever, is "My Dinner With Andre."

By the way, this is a pretty great poster too:



Would you see a film on the strength of the poster? I wouldn't. But the poster could be a strong factor. If "V for Vendetta" were playing in a theater here, I would have gone out to see it today, based on the poster and the fact that I still have enough love left over for the Wachowski brothers, even though I suffered through "The Matrix Reloaded." "Bound" and "The Matrix" were quite something. But, alas, "V for Vendetta" is not playing in Madison, and by the time it comes around, I'm sure my feeling for seeing it will have dissipated. That's either a good or a bad thing about living in Madison.

CORRECTION: "V for Vendetta" is playing in Madison now. The website I checked this morning was pathetically un-updated.

"Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies."

Such is the statement to Daily Variety, signed "Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu," addressing the mysterious substitution of an old episode of "South Park" for the scheduled "Trapped in the Closet" episode (the one that shreds Scientology):
"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!"
Variety reports the rumor that Comedy Central was catering to Tom Cruise, who threatened not to promote "Mission: Impossible 3," Paramount's big summer movie. Paramount and Comedy Central have the same parent company, Viacom.

Andrew Sullivan is urging readers to email Viacom at press@viacom.com and demand that they show the episode.
Comedy Central has already yanked one South Park episode, under pressure from the Catholic League. Now they're caving in to the Scientologists. Can you see them allowing another South Park episode which includes Muhammad? South Park has portrayed Muhammad before, but that was before the Islamist bullies took to the streets. You think Viacom cares about freedom of expression?
Sullivan recommends "Support Freedom of Speech" as the title of your message, so you should do that, if the spirit moves you.

Comedy Central's official excuse, by the way, is that they wanted to show "Chef's Salty Balls" as a tribute to Isaac Hayes, who just quit the show because of the way it mocked Scientology. We were just talking about Hayes's quitting, and, in the comments to that post, the subject of the episode swap comes up, and I offer the explanation that they were paying tribute to Hayes. I note that "Chef's Salty Balls" really is a prime Hayes episode, and it has the added timeliness of making fun of artsy movies about gay cowboys (eating pudding). Hey, is Comedy Central reading my blog in search of feeble excuses?

"All types of competitive activities should be positive, healthy, cheerful and have a favorable influence on morality."

So says the Chinese government, clamping down on TV shows of the "American Idol" type.
The rules threaten programs like the copycat singing competition "Super Girl" and its planned male version, "I Love Real Men," the South China Morning Post reported Friday.

The directive, posted on the administration's Web site, limits the number of competitive programs and forbids them from copying others' formats. It also criticizes the "star worship" generated by televised singing competitions.

Television stations cannot award prizes or cash, and the clothing and hairstyles of participants cannot be "vulgar," the rules say.
Does this elevate your opinion of our reality shows?

More seriously:
A Shanghai academic, who declined to be named, said authorities were worried about the way national competition programs organized large numbers of people to vote, the Post reported.
Learning democracy, "American Idol" style. Isn't the love of democracy a big part of why we love "American Idol"?

"America voted and..." -- these are the words Ryan Seacrest uses to capture our attention again and again.

We love having the choice and seeing who wins. But is this love of ours positive, healthy, and cheerful? Does it have a favorable influence on morality? Well, of course it does!

(Link via Drudge.)

Distinguishing gay marriage and polygamy.

Charles Krauthammer says legalizing gay marriage paves the way to legalizing polygamy:
In an essay 10 years ago, I pointed out that it is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights. After all, if traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender, and if, as gay marriage advocates insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one's autonomous choices in love, then the first requirement -- the number restriction (two and only two) -- is a similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible denial of individual choice...

To simplify the logic, take out the complicating factor of gender mixing. Posit a union of, say, three gay women all deeply devoted to each other. On what grounds would gay activists dismiss their union as mere activity rather than authentic love and self-expression? On what grounds do they insist upon the traditional, arbitrary and exclusionary number of two?
If Krauthammer has been writing about this subject for 10 years, it boggles the mind that the obvious distinction has not yet dawned on him.

Legal marriage isn't just about love, it's an economic arrangement. Having the state authorize your union is not the same thing as having your friends and neighbors approve of you and your religious leaders bless you. It affects taxes and employee benefits -- huge amounts of money. A gay person with a pension and a health insurance plan is incapable of extending those benefits to his (or her) partner. He (or she) can't file a joint tax return. That's not fair. A polygamous marriage, however, puts a group of persons in a position to claim more economic benefits than the traditional heterosexual couple. That doesn't appeal to our sense of fairness.

The law doesn't assess how much two people love each other. Two persons of opposite sexes can marry for all sorts of reasons. If there were a device that could look into their souls and measure their love, we wouldn't accept the outrageous invasion of privacy it would take for the government to use it. Excluding gay couples from marrying does generate the complaint that society does not sufficiently respect homosexual love, and by harping on this point, proponents of gay marriage activate their opponents who think that's a good thing.

But it's not all about love and who respects what. It's also about economics. And in that dimension, it's easy to distinguish polygamy.

UPDATE: This one has a lot of comments! And then there are the other bloggers writing about it. Eugene Volokh is disagreeing with me, but only because he's misreading me, and if he's misreading me, I've got to expect that misreading is rampant. I've tried to keep the commenters here focused on what I'm actually saying, but I can't rein in everyone who's talking about me. There are 98 comments right now on the Volokh post, and I'm probably not going to read many of them. But let me just say why I think Volokh has misread me. He seems takes that last clause "it's easy to distinguish polygamy" to mean what it literally says ripped out of its context. But I'm not saying that the distinction is so obvious that everyone will accept it. I'm just refuting Krauthammer, who thinks there is no way to stop the slip down the slope from gay marriage to polygamy. I'm against the scare tactic that is being widely used: don't accept gay marriage or nothing will stave off polygamy. All I'm saying is that there is a principled basis for drawing a line between the two. Nothing compels us to choose that line, however. I freely admit that.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

And, therefore: Happy Birthday, John!

"And would those cheering, white 'Bama football fans check her name when they're in the privacy of the voting booth?"

WaPo op-ed columnist Eugene Robinson contemplates Condoleezza Rice running for President:
Black conservative Shelby Steele recently speculated with an interviewer from the American Enterprise, a conservative journal, about how a race between Hillary Clinton and Rice might turn out. "If Hillary runs against a man, my guess is there's a certain women's vote out there that will go for her, even many Republicans," he said. "But if she's running against Condoleezza Rice, that would disappear. A large bit of the black vote that Democrats are so desperately dependent upon would also disappear. If Condoleezza Rice ran, she could win by simply taking an extra 15 percent of the black vote."

But from my own anecdotal observation, Spike Lee speaks for a lot of African Americans who have strong negative feelings about Rice. If she runs, he told the New York Observer, "African Americans will have to really, really, really, really, really , REALLY analyze the secretary of state's record, and get past the pigmentation of her skin. . . . I'm not going to vote for that woman. No. Way. "

Steele acknowledges that he might be wrong, that Rice might turn out to be a lousy politician. Lee acknowledges that "I'm not the spokesperson for 45 million African Americans." The truth is that nobody knows how voters would respond to a black woman who loyally serves an administration so reviled in the black community.

And would those cheering, white 'Bama football fans check her name when they're in the privacy of the voting booth?

Nobody knows. But I'll bet that someday -- maybe not soon, but someday -- we'll find out.
I hope we do.

March 16, 2006

"The days when a man's beer belly was shown off as a symbol of his manliness are over."

Who knew men thought a pregnancy-like protruberance was manly? The report is from Britain, so apparently it was some strange British perspective on the male body. Anyway, it's over.

Snowy exile.

It's pouring snow here in Madison, Wisconsin, and I'm exiled from my house again. I'm very happy for the snow, because the house looks far prettier at this time of year with the dull yard and bare branches coated with snow. Does Nature want me to sell my house today?

I drove downtown to set up in a State Street café, but there is a sports event -- basketball? -- at the Kohl Center and the area was badly parked up, so I turned west and, feeling hungry, stopped at The Atlantic Bread Company. They have sandwiches and WiFi, so why not give them a chance? I got the turkey club panini, which turned out to be inedible. I think the parts were assembled some time ago and something -- tomato-oids? -- liquefied, sogging the bread into a slimy dough. The coffee is okay, and the music is classical. At the next table, a man and two women, Bibles open, quietly share interpretations.

Camille Paglia in black and white.

Christopher Althouse Cohen frames the shot in Austin, Texas.

Camille Paglia in black and white

Click here for a better view.

"I'm not going to be threatened by Arianna Huffington!"

Says George Clooney:
Yesterday, Clooney released an angry statement calling Huffington's methods "purposefully misleading," and she acknowledged that his so-called blog - slamming Dems who voted for the war in Iraq for fear of being labeled "liberal" - was actually compiled from Clooney's recent interviews with the UK's Guardian and CNN's Larry King.

But Huffington insisted (and forwarded me E-mails that seemed to back her up) that she believed she had explicit permission from one of Clooney's PR reps to publish his disparate quotes as a single piece of writing. "This was a misunderstanding," she told me yesterday, as the disputed blog was removed from her Web site.

Clooney told me: "Nobody has ever written an op-ed piece for me. If I say I've written something, I've written it. When I go to the Oscars, I write everything I say...I stand by what I do, but I'm very cautious not to take giant steps onto soapboxes because I think they're polarizing."

Clooney said that when he demanded a disclaimer from Huffington, she refused. "She told me that it's a big no-no in the blogosphere, where people are supposed to write their own pieces."
There's a minor and boring problem here: Who speaks for George Clooney? He has PR people, and if they agree to things on his behalf, and afterwards he decides he doesn't like it, it seems a bit unfair for him to portray the other party to the agreement as underhanded.

The interesting thing is that Clooney's willingness to embarrass Huffington over what his PR people did throws light on how The Huffington Post operates. Now, the celebrity blog part of the Huffington Post looks like just a PR outlet, a place for assorted quotes and press releases to assemble in the form of a blog. Why looking like a blog works as a way to win readers is something of a mystery, of course. But there are all sorts of blog-looking things out there trying to get your attention. Do they detract from real blogs? Do you know the difference between a real blog and a fake one?

Do you know the difference between a real book and a fake one?

UPDATE: Here is Arianna Huffington's explanation of her interaction with Clooney, along with various assertions about how The Huffington Posts generally gets blog posts from celebrities. The claim is that 99% of the bloggers (which includes a lot of journalists and other non-stars) type directly into the blog software, and only 1% email, fax, or phone in their material. Presumably, the big name celebrities are in the 1%.
Very, very rarely (in 10 months, it's fewer times than you can count on your hand), we will work with a first-time blogger the way editors do in other, traditional media -- suggesting ideas and offering direction on what makes a blog different from, say, a New York Times op-ed. Part of what we've always tried to do with HuffPost is bring to the blogosphere some of the most interesting voices of our time that are not already there. This is the first time there was no back and forth with the writer -- our sample was approved 'as is' -- which is where the misunderstanding occurred.
I read this as an open invitation to bloggers to find other HuffPo posts there that are cobbled together from various sources the way Clooney's was -- though we won't have any way to know if the star was involved in the approval process. I find it hard to believe that it only happened this way once and just by chance this was a person who would choose to make a public stink about it and embarrass Huffington.

MORE: An emailer writes:
I work for a Public Relations/Marketing firm.

The basic rule is that NOTHING goes out without the expressed approval of the client. When you write a statement for the client the person whose name appears on the statement personally reads and approves it. If you ghost an article for the client, the client reads and approves said article.

It is not uncommon for releases. etc. to go through 10 to 20 revisions before the client gives approval.

If things happened as described by Huffington, Clooney’s PR people did a very unprofessional job.
Yeah, it doesn't make any sense why he's pissed at her and not his own people.

"American Idol" -- results.

I'm late getting around to covering tonight's show. But TiVo preserved it, and I was predicting Melissa would get sent home tonight. That turned out to be true. But it wasn't predictable that Ace and Lisa would be the other two in the bottom three. I predicted Kevin and Bucky for that. Both those guys looked awfully relieved.]

UPDATE: If you're looking for the results of this week's show, click on the banner at the top of this blog and then scroll down to the newest episode!

March 15, 2006

"The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink..."

The NYT has quite a correction today:
The cover photograph in The Times Magazine on Sunday rendered colors incorrectly for the jacket, shirt and tie worn by Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor who is a possible candidate for the presidency. The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink; the tie was dark blue with stripes, not maroon.

The Times's policy rules out alteration of photographs that depict actual news scenes and, even in a contrived illustration, requires acknowledgment in a credit. In this case, the film that was used can cause colors to shift, and the processing altered them further; the change escaped notice because of a misunderstanding by the editors.
Here's the original article with a tiny version of the photograph. (Today's correction is preserved there.) I've got the original magazine in front of me, and I can tell you the depiction of Warner is simply horrifying. When I first saw it, I was mesmerized by how they made him so unattractive, so ridiculous. I was fixated on the big Chiclet-teeth and didn't notice the jacket was maroon and the shirt pink. The effect of those things was purely subliminal. But making a man's blue shirt pink? Why do that? In the hope of reaching some unguarded, homophobic part of the reader's mind? Maroon jacket? No competent politician would ever wear a maroon jacket! You're reaching into our heads and making us think he's weird and untrustworthy.

There's still no explanation of how they got his whole face to look so bizarre. Here's how people who like him present him.

UPDATE: The Anchoress blames Warner:
[H]e should have known better. The New York Times Magazine has madea habit of putting deplorable, awful, really cheesy pictures on its front cover when it comes to two sorts of people: Any Republican, and Anyone Who Might Run Against a Clinton.

But isn't the article pretty positive? And doesn't the NYT Magazine routinely publish strange photographs of celebrities' faces? It wasn't long ago that they made George Clooney look like an alien! Here's something I wrote in the comments to this post:
I think someone over at the magazine just believes in anti-flattery for the celebrities that other magazines cater to. I think they want to make us laugh [at] and not fawn over the big shots. It's like caricature, but done with photography.

"We need a different strategy, one that shows we stand for something."

Says Russ Feingold, defending his political maneuver of calling for the censure of President Bush:
The left wing of the party has greeted Feingold's censure call ecstatically. He was the front-runner in a Jan. 31 survey of 2008 presidential candidates by the liberal blog Daily Kos. Feingold garnered 30 percent support among the more than 11,000 respondents, eclipsing retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who dropped to second place after leading in the previous five bimonthly polls.

Feingold said he is "extremely pleased with the way this is going." He said he is particularly buoyed the barrage of criticism from Republicans. "If such a crazy idea has such limited appeal, why do they have the attack dogs calling all over the country about this?" Feingold asked. "It touches a nerve."
Someone has to stake out the left wing of the Democratic Party. I'm glad it's someone as decent and smart as Russ Feingold.

MORE: Dana Milbank has a hilarious description of Feingold's colleagues:
Democratic senators, filing in for their weekly caucus lunch yesterday, looked as if they'd seen a ghost.

"I haven't read it," demurred Barack Obama (Ill.).

"I just don't have enough information," protested Ben Nelson (Neb.). "I really can't right now," John Kerry (Mass.) said as he hurried past a knot of reporters -- an excuse that fell apart when Kerry was forced into an awkward wait as Capitol Police stopped an aide at the magnetometer.

Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) brushed past the press pack, shaking her head and waving her hand over her shoulder. When an errant food cart blocked her entrance to the meeting room, she tried to hide from reporters behind the 4-foot-11 Barbara Mikulski (Md.).

"Ask her after lunch," offered Clinton's spokesman, Philippe Reines. But Clinton, with most of her colleagues, fled the lunch out a back door as if escaping a fire....

So nonplused were Democrats that even Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), known for his near-daily news conferences, made history by declaring, "I'm not going to comment." Would he have a comment later? "I dunno," the suddenly shy senator said.
Too funny! But Feingold didn't mean to set the stage for a big comic performance by his fellow Democrats, did he?

YET MORE: When will it be fair to say that Congress has tacitly approved of the President's surveillance program?

"I am the head of state."

Saddam Hussein begins his defense.

"Arab progressives are stunned by our behavior."

Thomas Friedman writes about the Dubai ports issue:
As an Arab businessman friend said to me of the Dubai saga: "This deal has left a real bad taste in many mouths. I mean this was Dubai, for God's sake! You could not have a better friend and more of a symbol of globalization and openness. If they are a security danger to the U.S., then who is not?"

So whatever happens with the Iraq experiment — but especially if it fails — we need Dubai to succeed. Dubai is where we should want the Arab world to go. Unfortunately, we just told Dubai to go to hell.
(TimesSelect link.)

"Are the gender-bending freakazoids of the world becoming pointlessly mired in P.C. dogma and victimhood?"

Simon Doonan asks.
Are the increased sensitivities of a previously tough marginalized group sucking all the life—not to mention the joie de vivre—out of the very cause that they are supposed to serve?
Good questions, though I don't think persons who have physical difficulties ought to feel obliged to amuse us. The more disturbing problem he raises is that transgenderism has become a fad, enticing many young persons to do drastic and irreversible things to their bodies:
The recent LOGO documentary series TransGeneration followed the lives of a group of deadly earnest college kids undergoing gender reassignment. (I predict that the majority of those featured will live to regret doing something so drastic at such a young age, but, with tranny politics abounding, there was no room for common sense.)

March 14, 2006

"American Idol" --singing Stevie.

Aw, I love all the kids that made it to the top 12. I have a feeling the next few weeks will eliminate Kevin, Melissa, and Bucky. It seems obvious. Too predictable. But maybe something surprising will happen.

Tonight, they are all singing Stevie Wonder songs, and we begin with a quick biographical montage. I remember when the only Stevie Wonder record was "Fingertips," and "Little" Stevie Wonder first appeared on "American Bandstand." It was his thirteenth birthday. Yeah, Stevie Wonder is overplayed on "American Idol," to the point where the judges have criticized some contestants for "playing it safe" by singing his songs. But here they are devoting a whole 2-hour show to him. Well, why not? His songs really are great. They're our standards. Do you have a favorite? I'm going to say: "For Once in My Life." We see the 12 finalists practicing "My Cherie Amour," and, suprising them, Stevie Wonder is ushered in. Extra points to Kellie Pickler and Elliott Yamin for crying genuine tears.

Ace Young ("Do I Do") is awful. He's overwhelmed by the bigger band and bigger stage. He's imitating that breath-holding thing that Wonder does.

Kellie Pickler ("Blame It on the Sun") is very dull. Randy: "It was kind like a nonevent, like it didn't even really happen."

Elliott ("Knocks Me Off My Feet") bores me at first but then gets good in the end when it's challenging.

Mandisa ("Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing") sings the high notes well but doesn't thrill.

Bucky Covington ("Superstition"). For once, his hair looks clean. Not just clean, but all fluffy and curled, like something Austin Scarlett would concoct. Wait, the hair was so distracting... How about the song? It was okay.

Melissa McGhee ("Lately") blows her voice out, straining all the way through.

Lisa Tucker ("Signed, Sealed, Delivered") misses the spirit of the song.

Kevin Covais ("Part-Time Lover"). Ooh, he's too young for this song! And he makes a point of saying how sexy he's going to make it. Nooooo!

Katharine McPhee ("Until You Come Back to Me"). Screetchy. Empty. They love her though.

Taylor Hicks has my favorite song choice: "Living for the City." Nice singing and dancing. He brings joy... to a song of pain.

Paris Bennett ("All I Do") wails somewhat appealingly.

Chris Daughtry -- he's my favorite. He's not too familiar with Stevie Wonder: he expressed relief at finding out that "Higher Ground" is a Stevie Wonder song. He knew it as a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. I love this song choice too. Bo-like, he brings out a mike stand to interact with. This is by far the best of the night. Simon agrees, saying, "Best tonight, by a mile."

Come on, Chris is going to win the season -- don't we all know that?

"How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!"

Just the beginning of a mnemonic device for remembering a sequence of pi digits, that is, a little piphilology. It is pi day, you know.

"No one ever writes a book to make money."

So says Kos. You might want to try to say things that at least seem true.

The most famous quote on the subject is nearly the opposite: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." I've never believed that one either... although if you say it fast enough, it might sound like "No man but a blogger ever wrote except for money." And that's got truthiness.

The Lost Liberty Hotel.

John Tierney writes about the effort to take over Justice Souter's house by eminent domain to protest the Kelo case. (Limited access link to TimesSelect.)
[Keith] Lacasse, a local architect, [proposed] turning it into the Lost Liberty Hotel.

"Actually, it would be more like a bed and breakfast," Lacasse said. "We'd use the front of the house for a cafe and a little museum. There'd be nine suites, with a black robe in each of the closets."

So far Souter has not joined the local debate on the proposal, something that makes him fairly unusual in this country town near Manchester. The Lost Liberty Hotel has dominated the campaign debate and the pages of The Weare Free Press. There seem to be two main factions: those who oppose the Kelo decision and want to punish Souter by taking his property, and those who oppose the Kelo decision but want to leave him alone....

[A]s much as I admire Lacasse's plans for the Lost Liberty Hotel, at this point I think it would be overkill.

However the vote comes out today, Lacasse and his allies have succeeded in embarrassing Souter, and that's enough. ... [A] judge should be able to make a bad or unpopular decision without losing his home. But he does deserve a reality check, and Souter's neighbors have obliged.
I don't think they've "succeeded in embarrassing Souter." They've only tried to intimidate him, which is embarrassing to them. He decided the case based on the precedents, calling it as he saw it. To retaliate against him personally is to say that you want cases to be decided based on personal interest. And yet you think you're standing up for the rule of law. Incoherent!

"But they wake up to find telltale clues: mouthfuls of peanut butter, Tostitos in their beds..."

Ambien-induced sleep eating.
A woman in Salinas, Calif., whose case is to be included in the Minnesota study, said she would awaken to find candy bar wrappers next to her bed and Popsicle sticks on the floor near the refrigerator. She blamed her husband and sons before finally believing their claims that she was eating at night, unaware.

Worried that she would choke, "my son was so afraid at night, he'd come sit by the bed and watch me," said the woman, Brenda Pobre, 54. Despite seeing several doctors, Ms. Pobre did not link Ambien to her nocturnal eating until after she gained 100 pounds.

Then there's this lady:
"I got up — my husband describes this in great detail — I got a package of hamburger buns and I just tore it open like a grizzly bear and just stood there and ate the whole package. He said a couple things to me and then he realized I was asleep."

I'd be rather pissed at the guy for not waking me up or at least offering me a pint of Haagen-Dazs. I mean, if I'm going to eat that many calories... Hamburger buns! Ugh!

"The Apprentice" -- Andrea vs. Theresa.

Last night's "Apprentice," recapped at Television Without Pity:
We return mere moments after the last episode left off, with Brent and Michael returning to the suite; Andrea greets this turn of events by locking herself in the bathroom and weeping drama-queenily for what was edited to look like half an hour. When she emerges, she takes over the PM reins, intending to manage the holy hell out of the Superfund project that is Brent. Sounds like a set-up for her impending ouster, no?

I thought so too, but girlfriend pulls it off.....

Her Brent strategy? Hear him out; tell him they're doing something else; give him busywork.
And food!
[M]eanwhile, on Gold Rush, there is a wretched "comedian," a horse and buggy, and Theresa, one of those PMs who thinks delegating a job is the end of the story, and does not understand that "I told them to do X" is for shit if X did not get done.
Hey, wait, she did trot alongside the horse-and-buggy, desperately yelling facts about about the Chevy Tahoe to the car dealers.

Isaac Hayes quits "South Park."

He's upset about they way it disrespects religion. His religion? Scientology.
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins."
The response from Matt Stone:
"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."...

Stone told The AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."
Well, Stone got the better of that exchange! Who has a better ear for hypocrisy than Stone?

Link via Memeorandum, so let's see who else is talking about the Hayes-Stone face-off. (Invocation of John Travolta unintended!)

Captain Ed: "It seems that Chef can't take what he dishes out."

Patterico: "Look to see Chef die a particularly bloody, horrible, and painful death."

Does Chef have to go? I don't think he's been an important character in recent years, but since Stone and Parker have been blithely doing so many voices, why not do his too? In fact, why weren't they doing that voice themselves all along? Here's Stone's answer, from a transcript of "Fresh Air" (date: 10/24/04, no link available):
[A]ctually with Chef--Trey and I were doing all the voices, and we actually--me or Trey wanted to do that voice. We were going to be like, 'Hey, what's going on, children?' and just kind of do that voice ourselves. And we were going to pitch it down, so it was really, really low, like an older black man's voice, how they can just be really, really low. And we wanted to do it ourselves. At the time Comedy Central was like, 'You can't do that.' And it's kind of true in a lot of Disney cartoons and a lot of other cartoons, they won't let their gender--Their gender?--race specific with the voiceover; they won't allow a white person to do a black person's voiceover. They probably don't care the other way. But at the time they were like, 'You know, you need to have a black person do this.' And we were like, `Well, you know, we have this character who sings all these soul songs.' I was like, 'Why don't we get ...(unintelligible)?'

So we had a really short list. It was--Isaac Hayes was our first choice. Then I think we had Lou Rawls on there. And what's the other guy? Barry White. And so we sent out tapes to them to them. I don't think we ever heard from Lou Rawls. Barry White respectfully declined because he's a very Christian man, and he thought it didn't reach his standards. We sent out 'The Spirit of Christmas.' And Isaac Hayes called back and said, 'Sure, I'll do it.'

So Trey and I flew to New York to record Isaac Hayes. We were so freaked out. You know, we'd never even worked with anybody except for our own friends in Colorado, and here we are doing Isaac Hayes. So then Isaac Hayes--he shows up, and he has no idea what he's going to do. So now we're sitting in the studio. He goes, 'All right, what's going on?' And his agent had basically just said, 'Yeah, you know, he's into it. He wants to do it.' But Isaac really was, like, just going to a gig to do a voiceover. And so we had to sit there and explain to him, 'Well, you're this big, fat black guy that lives in this little town in Colorado. You're the only black person there, and you sing soul songs.' And he was, like, 'OK. That sounds good.' So we were, like, 'All right.'
Think "Comedy Central" would let them do the voice now? Think Stone and Parker will have some more fun with Scientology over this? I hope so!

By the way, the episode that mocked Scientology was "Trapped in the Closet," and it was quite brilliant and hilarious. The press paid most of its attention to the material about Tom Cruise being "in the closet" (which he was, literally). I wrote at the time:
[CNN has a] segment on the new episode of "South Park" that mocked Scientology and Tom Cruise. CNN jumbles a lot of things together and titles the segment "Did 'South Park' go too far in mocking Tom Cruise?" Why not ask whether "South Park" went to far in mocking Scientology? That was what most of the episode was about.

Not shown in the CNN clip is the show's hilarious animated depiction of the deep secrets of Scientology. Instead, CNN reruns rumors about Cruise's sexual orientation, replete with the usual clip of him jumping on Oprah's couch. It's true the "South Park" episode repeatedly used the phrase "Tom Cruise come out of the closet." (Cruise literally hides in a closet for a reason that has nothing to do with his sexual orientation.) CNN shows many of those repetitions and informs us that they counted 39 of them. It's very funny.

But religion is the real target of "South Park's" mockery, and CNN opted for the easy approach of tweaking Cruise one more time about the rumors. In a lame attempt to appear journalistic, CNN presented the rumors as a report on how other people are spreading rumors. (Isn't that usually how one spreads rumors?) Can you picture CNN actually going after Scientology the way "South Park" did?
Thank God somebody's willing to mock religion!

"Every day I look at John Paul Stevens who's about to turn 86 and I think maybe I can make it too."

Said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg yesterday at the University of Toledo, in answer to a question about how long she would stay on the Supreme Court.

Is there anything wrong with holding one's seat on the Court as long as it is physically possible, in an exercise of political will, because you do not want the current President to appoint your replacement?

March 13, 2006

Feingold's censure effort.

The AP reports:
Democrats distanced themselves Monday from Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold's effort to censure President Bush over domestic spying, preventing a floor vote that could alienate swing voters....

Republicans dared Democrats to vote for the proposal....

Throughout the day, Feingold's fellow Democrats said they understood his frustration but they held back overt support for the resolution..
Why start the censure movement if you don't even have the support of your fellow Democrats?

Conservative skepticism about the Wisconsin gay marriage amendment.

Conservative radio commentator Charlie Sykes is skeptical about the gay marriage amendment:
[M]arriage will be redefined either through evolutionary or revolutionary means. Society will either gradually change its attitiudes in response to the sorts of relationships that develop in its midst, or the change will be rammed down its throat by court order or government dictat.

Does the amendment – which seeks to avoid a judicial mandate – itself veer too far in the opposite direction, by freezing both social and legal policy and removing it from the give and take of legislative compromise and social evolution?...

Exactly how does allowing gays to enter into legal, monogamous relationships undermine the institution of marriage? Isn’t in society’s interest to foster and recognize such stable relationships? And why would that be something that conservatives would oppose?...

Gays who wish to marry don’t want to tear down marriage. They want in on it.
Sykes cautions advocates on both sides of the question not to be so extreme, lest they alienate voters. [ADDED: I've also written many times -- like here -- that I think gay marriage advocates ought to be more patient with people who don't agree with them.] I've already said that I think the amendment as written is alienating to centrists. Wouldn't it be nice if the political debate on the amendment, instead of stirring up hostility, brought us into civil, rational conversations with each other?

Sykes collects the responses of other Wisconsin bloggers here.

Spanish performance artist turns a synagogue into a gas chamber and invites Germans in.

Maybe you've forgotten to think very much about performance art lately. Along comes Santiago Sierra to help you get excited about that moribund art form all over again:
Sierra, known internationally for his controversial work, led hoses from the exhaust pipes of six parked cars into the building in the town of Pulheim-Stommeln near Cologne to create lethal levels of carbon monoxide there.

Around 200 visitors who lined up for the first gassing session on Sunday had to sign a declaration that they were aware of the risks before being allowed in wearing a breathing apparatus and accompanied by a fireman....

Sierra, 39, who lives in Mexico, was not present at the start and could not be reached for comment. He said in a statement distributed outside the synagogue that he was trying to counter the "trivialization of our memory of the Holocaust."
He was trying to counter the trivialization of our memory of the Holocaust. Don't you get it? Oh, sure, we get it. The artist is not hard to understand. What's hard to understand is the 200 Germans who were all where do I line up for the gas chamber.

4 million.

Hey, the Site Meter is about to click over to 4 million. 4 million visitors! Thanks for stopping by!

UPDATE: Who was the 4 millionth visitor? Someone from Vancouver, Washington, who came by at 3:33:44 pm.

"I have never seen such an egregious violation of a rule on witnesses."

Said Judge Brinkema, halting the Moussaoui trial:
Even prosecutor Novak conceded that the witness coaching was "horrendously wrong."
Brinkema says she needs time to figure out what to do. The defense has moved to eliminate the death penalty from the case, which would end the trial by making life without parole the only possible sentence. Brinkema has already commented that she knows of no case that imposed a death sentence for failure to act. So doesn't it seem likely that the judge will grant the defense motion?

IN THE COMMENTS: "Why are there four pictures of Moussaoui's mother? What does she have to do with the contents of this article? Wouldn't pictures of the lawyers or judge make more sense? She isn't even mentioned in the article."

UPDATE: Judge Brinkema decides to allow the government to continue to seek the death penalty, so I must update my prediction: she will not, in the end, give him the death penalty.

Women in the workplace, stereotypes in the workplace.

Mike Ballard writes:
A dominant idea in gender-based discussion is that there are masculine and feminine corporate cultures....

Two women from the University of East London asserted last summer in a paper, Implementation of Large Scale Software Applications, that a blinkered, hierarchical approach to the implementation of IT systems has also been linked to the failure of IT projects. Hierarchies, orders, supplication, obedience, puppy dogs tails - these are the things little boys are made of, as the authors pointed out.

A good way to sum up IT failures would be a lack of communication and collaboration, and that, if you have any truck with stereotypes, is what little girls are supposed to be made of.

Janice Kinory, who ushers women into SET ... industries, spent 25 years working in the automotive industry and lived through its transition from Fordism to the Kaizen system of manufacturing.

It changed, she says, from a culture in which decisions were determined by "will of the loudest, most macho male in the room" and "overlooked better ideas put forward by less forceful individuals", to a culture in which the careers of women like Ms Kinory improved along with the fortunes of the manufacturers who embraced more collaborative working practices.

A study of organisational politics published last year by Linda Holbeche, a consultant with Roffey Park, found that men were more likely to engage in divisive politics, while women were more constructive.

Yet, Holbeche says men are more able to use politics to their own advantage because they can be more goal driven and competitive - they have no glass ceilings, social stereotyping and fewer difficulties in hierarchical work environments to hamper their ambition....

Improving your bottom line is clearly not as simple as employing more women. Bismuth says he's still trying to remove glass ceilings, but there's a masculine, corporate establishment that is "resistant" to having its workplaces feminised.
All this stereotyping rubs me the wrong way. Much as I want women to advance, I hate to think this kind of talk about human beings is the key. Researchers seem to believe it's just fine to stereotype as long as they put negative spin on everything associated with men -- "[h]ierarchies, orders, supplication, obedience, puppy dogs tails" -- and sugar-coat the presentation of the supposedly feminine characteristics -- "communication and collaboration" -- which are perfectly susceptible to restatement as negatives and which have traditionally been used to obstruct the advancement of women.

ADDED: And just look at the headline:

Women improve your performance
If you become like them

Notice anything? Oh really? Women improve my performance? If I become like them?

IN THE COMMENTS: An IT guy strikes back:
I've been in IT for a bit over 20 years and I'm scratching my head over this one. Hierarchies and orders are unfortunately common in IT, but supplication and obedience? From what alternate universe IT department did they drag those? Anyone marginally worth their salt in an IT department has more than a bit of a primadonna complex. We don't supplicate to or obey because we don't have to.

Continue reading inside.

"The Roberts effect."

Terry Eastland (in the Weekly Standard) has words of praise for John Roberts:
Under Roberts the Court has decided 39 cases. Roberts himself has written three opinions. Each was unanimous.... Each is well-written. Concision and clarity distinguish the opinions.... Finally, and not a small point: His opinions are enormously persuasive....

Justices Stevens and Scalia have both complained over the years about the conferences held on the Fridays of weeks with oral arguments. It is then that the justices at least tentatively decide cases, and yet under Rehnquist the justices typically did little more than declare their votes. For Roberts to invite discussion means that Roberts himself has to come to the conference table fully prepared. That's not hard to imagine. But the other justices have to come prepared as well, or risk embarrassment.

Over time, the Roberts effect may produce not only larger majorities and more stable rulings but also a Court that, thanks to conferences that really are conferences, pays more attention to working out the relevant law and less to mere politics. The distinction between law and politics is, of course, precisely what Roberts (and Samuel Alito) insisted upon during their confirmation hearings, and it lies at the heart of judicial conservatism. The prospect of the continuing advancement of that philosophy is a happy one, and a reason to say hail to this particular chief.
Do you believe that high quality writing, more debate among the Justices, and a charismatic leader can squeeze the politics out of judicial decisionmaking? Do you believe that it is only the judicial liberals who allow politics to infuse their decisions? Do you even want all the political sensibility drained out of the opinions?

"Reform is alive and well within Islam, but it will only happen by those from within Islam..."

Last week, we took interest in Wafa Sultan, the Syrian-born woman who has strong words for Muslims. Today, the LA Times has this:
[T]he flurry of interest among non-Muslims contrasts oddly with the near silence among Muslims themselves, many of whom say she is a largely unknown figure not causing any particular stir.

"I haven't come across any indication that people are discussing her," said Abdulaziz Sachedina, a University of Virginia Islamic studies professor who was blacklisted eight years ago by Iraqi Ayatollah Ali Sistani for his reformist ideas that women were equal to men and all Abrahamic faiths were equally respectable. "Cyberspace is almost silent."

He said he first heard of her a few weeks ago, when the American Jewish Congress sent him an e-mail with a link to her Al Jazeera interview, which was translated from Arabic into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute. Sachedina said he agreed with some of her remarks, including her criticism that too many Muslim rulers fail to protect human rights. But he objected to what he called her "vilification" of the entire tradition.

Other Muslims questioned why groups outside the faith were so avidly promoting a non-Muslim to criticize Islam, a practice that has occurred before and is a sore spot in the Islamic community, particularly since many respected Muslims also advocate change.

"Reform is alive and well within Islam, but it will only happen by those from within Islam and not those who hate Islam," said Hussam Ayloush, who heads the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Some Muslims, however, have embraced at least part of Sultan's message. Ani Zonneveld of the Progressive Muslim Union in Los Angeles, who has been fighting to gain wider acceptance of female musicians in Islam, said she put the link to Sultan's Al Jazeera interview on her personal website, under the title "Wafa Sultan Rocks!" But Zonneveld said Sultan's critiques were not new. Plenty of practicing Muslims, including Zonneveld, have been outspoken in criticizing the way some Muslims interpret their tradition's teachings on women, human rights and interfaith relations, she said.
The very act of non-Muslims taking interest in someone like Sultan seems to undermine the effectiveness of her critique. We are told "Reform is alive and well within Islam." Is it good that we haven't heard much about it, in that our exclusion from the debate makes it more effective?

UPDATE: Here's an article about Sultan in the Israeli National News, which puts special emphasis on her positive attitude toward Jews:
Dr. Sultan explained that during her upbringing in Syria she was raised to hate Jews:

“Up to the very first day that I immigrated to America, I used to believe that Jewish people were not human creatures, that they had different features, different voices than the human race. Unfortunately this is the way I was raised."

She said that it was only through meeting and interacting with Jews on a personal basis that her views began to shift: “I have discovered how wrong we were. The more I work with them the more I find out we are all human beings. The first experience I had in the medical field was with a Jewish doctor. We were four Muslim women in his program, and he treated us very well. My experience is great, so I have to break this taboo and tell my people the truth."

During her Al-Jazeera debate, Dr. Sultan praised the high moral standard of the Jewish people, demonstrated by their restrained and resilient response to suffering....

In contrast, Dr. Sultan points to the murderous tendencies of Islam....

Instead of perpetuating the cycle of hate and bloodshed, Dr. Sultan advocates creating connection and communication between Arabs and Jews to foster tolerance and compassion. “There is a saying ‘Get to know your enemy in order to know how to fight him.’ Far from this saying I would say, ‘Get to know your enemy in order to befriend him.’ Once you know how much suffering your enemy is going through, you will be more compassionate and eventually more tolerant. Get people on both sides to know each other, to communicate with each other,” Wafa implored.

HBO's big night: "Big Love" and "The Sopranos."

I hope you got a chance to watch HBO last night. "Big Love" premiered, along with the first episode of the last season of "The Sopranos." Go ahead and discuss everything in the comments. Those who haven't watched thus risk seeing spoilers.

"The Sopranos."
• Consider this recent post of mine on the subject. It was prescient... up to a point.

• Don't you feel that you need to watch it again to pick everything up?

• Character I feel the most revulsion toward? Carmela. I can't stand her. Everything she does disgusts me, whether she's stuffing sushi in her mouth, or preening over her SUV of a Porsche, she makes me sick. You viewers who root for her when she thinks she has another chance at sexual fulfilment? What's wrong with you?

• Actor having the most fun this season? Dominic Chianese!

• They waited so long to do another season that the actors changed physically, a bit ridiculously. The fattest guy got a lot less fat, but most of them got fatter, and some look a lot older. Lorraine Bracco looks huge on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, but on the show they just forefront the legs and let the rest of the body-of-Melfi fade into the shadows of the chair.
"Big Love."
• Highly original in subject matter and treatment!

• Has there ever been anything like that last line, spoken in that condition? Hilarious and disturbing.

• Just when you start to get used to the family's polygamous lifestyle and begin to (queasily) to accept it as a form of normal, we relocate to the compound and see a horrifying version of polygamy. Bruce Dern on the floor! Harry Dean Stanton being slimily evil! You find out that young girl is his wife and you're really sympathetic... until you're not.

• Hey, it's Susan's mom from "Seinfeld"!

• I haven't read any reviews. They're good, right?

IN THE COMMENTS: For some crazy reason, there's a lot of discussion of the phrase "built like a brick shithouse."

March 12, 2006

Audible Althouse #40.

A new episode.

Fretting about:
being too Spring-Break mellow to podcast

having strangers look at my house

the word "ogle"
Analyzing:
the Oscars and the politics surrounding them

the Supreme Court's opinion in the Solomon Amendment case and what it means about the law professors who came out on the losing end of it
Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, why don't you? But you know you can live-stream it right on your computer right here.

Before the parade.

I didn't know there was a Madison St. Patrick's Day parade. I guess when I move downtown and live on the Capitol Square, I'll know more about such things. Obviously, it's not St. Patrick's Day yet, but apparently, they want a weekend day. Anyway, I was just downtown to take a walk and to sit in a café for a little while, and I happened to see some pre-parade things.

A kid, already hoisted onto parental shoulders, with the appropriate balloon headgear:

Waiting for the parade

Note the guys with placards bearing religious messages. "The fool hath said in his heart 'There is no God.'" That ought to unnerve you. Think there's no God? You've just pegged yourself a fool! And if you buy that logic, you are a fool. One of the guys was playing an accordian, and they were all singing. What were they singing? I don't know. I was wearing "earbuds" and listening to a podcast.

The Madison Area Technical College Mascot was stirring up some excitement:

Waiting for the parade

Come on, everybody. It's about green and balloons and hats:

Waiting for the parade

"This business of my having done the unthinkable and voted for George Bush..."

Tom Wolfe on George Bush:
Mr. Wolfe offers a personal incident as evidence of "what a fashion liberalism is." A reporter for the New York Times called him up to ask why George W. Bush was apparently a great fan of the "Charlotte Simmons" book. "I just assumed it was the dazzling quality of the writing," he says. In the course of the reporting, however, it came out that Mr. Wolfe had voted for the Bush ticket. "The reaction among the people I move among was really interesting. It was as if I had raised my hand and said, 'Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, I'm a child molester.'" For the sheer hilarity, he took to wearing an American flag pin, "and it was as if I was holding up a cross to werewolves."

George Bush's appeal, for Mr. Wolfe, was owing to his "great decisiveness and willingness to fight." But as to "this business of my having done the unthinkable and voted for George Bush, I would say, now look, I voted for George Bush but so did 62,040,609 other Americans. Now what does that make them? Of course, they want to say--'Fools like you!' . . . But then they catch themselves, 'Wait a minute, I can't go around saying that the majority of the American people are fools, idiots, bumblers, hicks.' So they just kind of dodge that question. And so many of them are so caught up in this kind of metropolitan intellectual atmosphere that they simply don't go across the Hudson River. They literally do not set foot in the United States. We live in New York in one of the two parenthesis states. They're usually called blue states--they're not blue states, the states on the coast. They're parenthesis states--the entire country lies in between."
That's just a couple paragraphs in an excellent piece on Tom Wolfe. Read the whole thing.

"If Clinton is elected, American politics over the next years will be as brutal and stagnant as now."

TimesSelect is so frustrating. I can't understand the decision to limit the impact of the columnists. I'm reading David Brooks's column about Hillary Clinton today, and I want to send you over there, but I can only give you their limited access link. But let me give you a taste of it anyway.
The Dubai ports deal — a politically unpopular measure that almost all experts agree was justified on the merits — was a test of character. John McCain and Chuck Hagel passed. Clinton, though, joined the ranks of the nakedly ambitious demagogues....

"The White House is trying to hand over U.S. ports," Clinton charged.

"We cannot afford to surrender our port operations to foreign governments," she roared.

"We cannot cede sovereignty over critical infrastructure like our ports," she insisted.

All of these statements were deliberately misleading, since there was never any question of ceding sovereignty or security. They played to the rawest form of xenophobia....

This episode — which combines buckraking with pandering — brings back the Clinton years at their worst: the me-me-me selfishness, the occasional presumption that humanity exists to serve Team Clinton.

It also shows Clinton doesn't understand her political weaknesses. First, nobody, not even among her friends, is totally sure she actually believes in anything, or whether she just coldly calculates political advantage. This episode reinforces that sense.

Second, Clinton is the only presidential candidate who does not offer a break from the current polarization and bitter partisanship. A McCain or Mark Warner presidency would shuffle the political deck. But if Clinton is elected, American politics over the next years will be as brutal and stagnant as now. The 1960's Bush-Clinton psychodrama would go on and on.
I never trust any of the candidates, but there are some I trust less than others. It is rather hard to see why we should trust Hillary Clinton.

"The 'ridiculously obvious' point that the Supreme Court is 'a justificatory instrument' for military policy."

Adam Liptak taps lawprof opinion on why we lost the Solomon Amendment case:
There is the reactionary Supreme Court hypothesis. William N. Eskridge Jr., a Yale law professor who helped shape the losing side's arguments, said the defeat demonstrates the "ridiculously obvious" point that the Supreme Court is "a justificatory instrument" for military policy.

Then there is the clueless law professor theory.

Peter H. Schuck, a Yale law professor who thought the law schools' legal position was misguided, said that many professors were so indignant about the military's treatment of gay men and women and so scornful of the military itself that their judgment became clouded.

"There is often a feeling that if something is morally wrong it must be legally wrong and that clever arguments can bring those two things into alignment," Professor Schuck said....

"Unfortunately," said Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, "a great many very smart people were so close to the issues that they failed listen to those of us who said this was a really difficult argument."
I don't see how making an argument implies that you don't realize it's a difficult argument. And I don't think it's clueless to decide to go forward with an argument that you know is a big uphill battle. When you're fighting for a principle, even a losing battle can be worthwhile.

As for that ridiculously obvious justificatory instrument business... It doesn't explain why not one Justice even concurred to say something nice about the lawprofs. And it doesn't acknowledge that military power is one of the things that is authorized by the Constitution the Justices must interpret and enforce.

Women, alone, in restaurants.

So, what do you think of a woman, eating alone, at a good restaurant? Do you feel sorry for her? Do you think she would like you to ask her to join your group?

Etiquette tip from the linked piece: Don't approach her. Use the waiter as an intermediary.

Fashion tip for women: Wear blue silk clothes with matching high-heeled shoes.

"Thank You for Insulting Our Sandals."

Birkenstocks! It's so easy to use them as a visual joke, as in the new film "Thank You For Smoking," where we see them on the feet of the antismoking environmentalist played by William H. Macy.
"He's wearing the Vermont costume," Scott Radcliffe, the marketing director at Birkenstock Distribution USA, said of Mr. Macy's character. Mr. Radcliffe said that the "Birkenstock-wearing, granola-crunching, Volvo-driving fill-in-the blank stereotype" emerged in the broader culture without any doing on the company's part. The company finds it entertaining, he said, that the sandals have reached the kind of status that qualifies them for movie close-ups, even disparaging ones.

"To me a Birkenstock fan looks at that, laughs and is not alienated," he said....

"[They] feel like they're part of something bigger than most other shoe choices, frankly."

"After all," Mr. Radcliffe continued, "the brand's strong point is its power to elicit both positive and negative reactions. That speaks to the bigger cultural relevance of the brand. That's something I want to participate in. That's not something I'm trying to shake."
Ha. It's nice that there are products with so much excess meaning. Too bad I can't think of any offhand. Maybe you can come up with some in the comments. Ever just like a product, but then feel funny about using it because you didn't identify with the extra meaning? Ever not really like a product, but use it anyway because you did?

Bitch about your husband in the NYT.

Go ahead! It will amuse us all so.
"Adam. Why didn't you buy [the sausages] at Esposito's?"

"Because I was in the cheese store buying the bread, and they had these, so I thought I'd try them."

"Are they the fennel ones?"

"No. They didn't have the fennel ones."

"Oh no."

"You know what, Cathy?" he says throwing the wooden spoon on the counter. "Do it yourself." He goes into his office to seek refuge.

I know he's right. But on the other hand he did bring home inferior sausage product. We're cooking a sausage ragout. Sausage is the main ingredient, and it's corrupted. I knock on his door and try to apologize.

"I'm sorry, honey. I should have just been thanking you. That was so nice of you to do the shopping. Really. I just don't understand how you could not go to Esposito's. It's right next door to the cheese store. When they didn't even have the fennel ones, why didn't you just think to go next door?"

He starts yelling at me. He accuses me of torturing him. He's pounding his finger into the desk to illustrate how I pretend to apologize and then continue to stick it to him.
As you might suspect, if you're onto women who write things like this, the author -- Catherine Lloyd Burns -- is ultimately out to convince us she's got the swellest husband on the planet.

And then there's all the material about how frantic she is about her baby's problems -- not sleeping enough! -- when she's really letting you know that her baby's way better than yours: Olive -- yeah, they called her Olive -- is marvelously perky throughout the parents waking hours and then sleeps straight through for 8 hours from exactly the time the parents want to get to bed to the time they like to get up.

"I ain't gonna get blinded by some coward getting away with that."

Says John Lydon, expressing his hatred for the Sex Pistols fans who threw bottles at him: "If you're gonna pay money to go and blind someone you're the sort of person who needs to be put away for life."

He's saying why he will not tour, and that's just one of the reasons. The other is that he suffers terribly from stage fright:
"I miss the Pistols. I miss the lot of you, but when I came home from the last tour I couldn't get adjusted.

"I felt really out of place it took me a long time to get back to a real way of life.

"On tour, it was 12 hours of panic for an hour-and-a-half gig. I'm vomiting all day long with fear, stagefright, whatever it is."
"A real way of life" -- interesting. Don't the fans going to the shows feel that the band inspires a hatred of their own "real way of life" and offers some sort of hope of a way out?

Curating the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The WaPo has an interview with the curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Interesting facts:

The artists these days have become so aware of the value of their collectibles that some of the bands keep an archivist on their staff.

Bob Dylan is the artist they've had the hardest time getting donations from.

Some artists, like Green Day, demand and get private afterhours tours of the museum, while others -- unnamed -- just go in and mingle with the riffraff.

Related post: "Notes on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" (my visit to the museum).