June 10, 2006

What we saw in Wausau.

I thought I was going to Wauwatosa, but really it was Wausau. Well, I got the "Wau" right. I saw "Wau," and naturally, I assumed Wauwatosa. Who wouldn't? Wauwatosa is, relative to Madison, almost all the way to Milwaukee. Wausau is dead center in Wisconsin, which means it's way north of here -- a two and a half hour drive. That's means five hours of talking in the car, which we did, and it was scintillating. Really.

Why did we go to Wausau? To me, and probably to you, Wausau is an insurance company, not so much a real place. But it's a pretty big city, by Wisconsin standards, and there have been enough wealthy people there over the years -- dealing in lumber and insurance -- that there are some excellent houses. We went on an architectural tour.

The best thing on the tour was the Charles and Dorothy Manson House, built by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1938-41:

Wausau architecture

There was another Wright house, the Duey-Wright House, done in 1957, shortly before Wright's death:

Wausau architecture

I also liked the Aytchmonde and Leigh Yawkey Woodson House, designed by George Washington Maher, 1913-14. Here's a detail:

Wausau architecture

There were tons of cool details inside all the houses, but, unfortunately, photography was only allowed outside.

Here's the lovely arbor outside the Cyrus and Alice Yawkey House:

Wausau architecture

We saw a couple Wright-inspired houses built in the last decade. They're at the bottom of the page at the link. We loved one and scorned the other. The Letarski house was designed by a guy who had really internalized Wright's ideas and had an artist's feeling for what he was doing. He lived in the house with his family. The Sorenson House was built by an architect who said he was given free rein by his clients -- two doctors -- and he had collected elements from three Wright designs and fitted them together, but it didn't have a believable, genuine spirit to it. It didn't make sense. The difference between the two houses was quite striking. I felt as though the Sorenson House could be an exam for architecture students: What do you count as mistakes and why?

I hope your day was as Usonian as ours.

The NYT covers the YearlyKos convention.

And you gotta love the photograph:



Yikes... bloggers. They took off their jammies and put on their shorts. They've come out of the house and walk among us. Black socks go with shorts, right, moonbeambushhater?

I'm looking at the paper NYT, and the photo is twice as wide. What are you missing? To the left of the white-legged ones is a slouching young woman with scraggly hair. There's a sign on the wall behind her -- something about "swing states" -- and the photo is framed so that we see the word "swing" is next to her head. To the right, we see a banner -- "Mark Warner/President '08" -- and standing above it is a very tubby man in short sleeves and wrinkled pants. To his right is a guy with a beard and hair growing past his shoulders.

Okay, let's read the text:
They may think of themselves as rebels, separate from mainstream politics and media. But by the end of a day on which the convention halls were shoulder to shoulder with bloggers, Democratic operatives, candidates and Washington reporters, it seemed that bloggers were well on the way to becoming — dare we say it? — part of the American political establishment. Indeed, the convention, the first of what organizers said would become an annual event, seems on the way to becoming as much a part of the Democratic political circuit as the Iowa State Fair.
The horror! It's bad enough Iowa gets so much power....
"It's 2006, and I think we have arrived," Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the Daily Kos and the man for whom the conference was named, announced after being greeted with the kind of reception Elvis, or at least Wayne Newton to a more traditional Las Vegas audience, might have received had he walked into the dowdy ballroom at the Riviera Hotel and Casino.
Is the tone of contempt subtle enough? Wayne Newton... Las Vegas... dowdy ballroom...
The ceremony and self-celebration notwithstanding, the actual extent of the blogging community's power is still unclear. For one thing, it was hard to find a single Republican in the crowd here, though organizers insisted that a few had registered. For another, as the presidential campaign of Howard Dean demonstrated in 2004, the excitement and energy of the Web does not necessarily translate into winning at the polls.

"I do believe that each day, they have more impact," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, who will deliver the keynote speech to the group on Saturday night. "Now how far that will go, I don't think we know that yet."

But, Mr. Reid added: "One of the reasons I so admire them is they have the ability to spread the truth like no entities I've dealt with in recent years. We could never have won the battle to stop privatization of Social Security without them."
Hey, that's a good tag line for a blog: Spreading the truth like no entities I've dealt with in recent years.

Yeah, all you politicians: deal with this entity!

One Democrat who declined to attend: Hillary Clinton. What did Kos say when asked if she was popular with his crowd? "Oh my God, no way!"

Mark Warner was there though. And Howard Dean. Tom Vilsack. Wesley Clark "was spotted on Thursday night looking somewhat out of place as he roamed the halls in a pin-striped suit before heading to the Hard Rock Cafe to hold his own reception for bloggers." The poor man!

Ha, ha... they must all kneel to the lefty bloggers!

Maureen Dowd was there too. If you've got TimesSelect, you can check out her column today. A taste:
I ... wad[ed] through a sea of Kossacks, who were sitting on the floor in the hall with their laptops or at tables where they blogged, BlackBerried, texted and cellphoned — sometimes contacting someone only a few feet away. They were paler and more earnest than your typical Vegas visitors, but the mood was like a masquerade. This was the first time many of the bloggers had met, and they delighted in discovering whether their online companions were, as one woman told me, male, female, black, white, old, young or "in a wheelchair."...

As I wandered around workshops, I began to wonder if the outsiders just wanted to get in. One was devoted to training bloggers, who had heretofore not given much thought to grooming and glossy presentation, on how to be TV pundits and avoid the stereotype of nutty radical kids.

Mr. Moulitsas said he had a media coach who taught him how to stand, dress, speak, breathe and even get up from his chair.
How to dress? First, get out of the pajamas. Okay, now, about those socks....

The death penalty for rape of a child.

Five states have authorized the death penalty for the rape of a child:
In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty could not be imposed for the rape of an adult woman. The penalty was, the court ruled, disproportionate to the crime and therefore forbidden as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

"Life is over for the victim of the murderer," Justice Byron R. White wrote for the majority. "For the rape victim, life may not be nearly so happy as it was, but it is not over and normally is not beyond repair."

The defendant in that case, Ehrlich Coker, escaped from a state prison in Georgia where he was serving time for a murder and two rapes. He soon raped another woman in front of her husband. He was sentenced to death for that last crime.

Dissenting from the majority decision to overturn Mr. Coker's death sentence, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote that the ruling "prevents the state from imposing any effective punishment upon Coker for his latest rape."

... In recent decisions barring the execution of juvenile offenders and the mentally retarded, the court took careful stock of state laws and trends in state legislatures to evaluate whether a societal consensus existed to permit or bar capital punishment in given classes of cases.

Trey Walker, chief executive assistant to Attorney General Henry McMaster of South Carolina, said in an interview yesterday that "there will be more and more" laws making sex crimes against children capital offenses.

"This is something the Supreme Court takes into account," Mr. Walker said. "There is not much doubt that this law would be upheld and found constitutional."
In Coker, Georgia was the only state with the death penalty for the rape of an adult. The case largely preceded the very intense political activity aimed at making people take rape much more seriously than they had before. Here's Justice White's description of the rape:
Coker then raped Mrs. Carver. Soon thereafter, petitioner drove away in the Carver car, taking Mrs. Carver with him. Mr. Carver, freeing himself, notified the police; and not long thereafter petitioner was apprehended. Mrs. Carver was unharmed.
Mrs. Carver was unharmed. How many law professors have read that line sarcastically in class? I know I have. I can't imagine White writing like that 10 years later, after all the discussion of rape that took place in that time. Brownmiller's "Against Our Will" was published in 1975 and the author was one of a collection of women who were named Time magazine's "Persons of the Year" in 1975, two years before Coker, so I still have to say that the Court, at the very least, had a tin ear. Even when you're striking down the death penalty, the convention is to show great respect for the suffering of the victim. But Mrs. Carver was unharmed. Really, that belongs on the list of worst sentences ever written by a Supreme Court Justice.

So Georgia's anomalous law made it easier to strike down the death penalty for rape of an adult. What happens now as more and more states adopt the death penalty for the rape of a child? The public understanding of the harm to children has grown over the years, as has the conviction that persons who commit this crime are hopeless and even inhuman. You may say that you think the Constitution should not be interpreted to take account of the current understanding of what is "cruel and unusual," but the Justices who agree with you can be counted on to accept what the states are doing now. What should the Justices who go by "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society" say about the death penalty for child rape?

Consider the unintended consequence: authorizing the death penalty will stimulate sympathy for child rapists. Death penalty opponents will be motivated to paint a strong picture of the rapist as a pitiable creature with a terrible mental health problem.

Need to replace your iPod?

Advice from a spellcheck looking at "iPods": Replace with aphids.

Rudy Giuliani picks the top 5 biographies of leaders.

How can you read this list and not think that he first decided which 5 leaders should be on his list and in what order and then came up with the names of books for the 5 slots?

I'm not blaming him. He's a politician. It's like all those politicians who let us know what is in their iPods. The demonstration of balance is too obvious, the need to show the right frame of mind, so we'll trust them with what they want us to let them do.

Giuliani briefly explains why he picked each book, and each explanation is perfectly honed as a campaign pitch -- deniable, yet unmistakable.

For book #1:
On the night after the attacks of Sept. 11, I remember getting home at about 2:30 a.m. and seeing on my nightstand a book I had been reading, a prepublication copy of Roy Jenkins's forthcoming "Churchill."...
Mmmm... yeah... who's to say it didn't happen?

Book 2 is about Jefferson. Book 3 is about... guess!... Lincoln:
My mother was a great storyteller and a natural teacher. She introduced me as a child to the life of Abraham Lincoln....
Don't you tell me she didn't! You don't appreciate Mom?

Book 4 is... love me Democrats... President Kennedy's "Profiles in Courtage"!
One profile in particular that stuck with me was that of Edmund Ross, the Kansas Republican who cast the deciding vote for acquittal in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Ross was no fan of Johnson's but sensed that the trial was more about rounding up votes than weighing the evidence. His decision to break ranks with his party ended Ross's political career, but his principled stand has been vindicated by history....
Yay, Republican!

Book 5 is... note, Democrats, I put him after Kennedy... Ronald Reagan!
My wife, Judith, recently bought me Richard Reeves's book (subtitled "The Triumph of Imagination"), which excels in depicting Ronald Reagan's management style and unrelenting pursuit of his core principles: the restoration of the American spirit, limited government, a strong defense and the defeat of communism.
First, Kennedy, then, Reagan. First, Mom, then, Wife. Do you love me yet? Did I present my admiration for Reagan in a way that makes both Democrats and Republicans feel good? Management style! Principles! Like the principles I extracted? Come on, they're really good ones! What? You're for unlimited government?

Hey, I love the guy. I'm just saying I can read.

June 9, 2006

Caricature.

I have adored David Levine's caricatures for decades, but this one of George Bush just doesn't look a thing like him.

Here are all his Bush caricatures, most of which are great. I'm just wondering what strange perception shift took place in Levine's brain.

Mazzu's Canine & Feline Hotel.

A luxury hotel for pets. Not a luxury hotel where you can stay with your pet, a luxury hotel where you leave your pet. Hey, you're the one with the pet. If you're leaving town, this is what you ought to do for for your dog... and what your cat expects you to do. The slide show (with audio) made me think this is a pretty smart business idea.

Vykhukhol.

It's not a Blogger verification word. It's this li'l endangered guy:

"She's got Dad's baby blues and just a soft crop of fair hair, but it's those lips - check out the super-size pout - that most give her away."

People Magazine effuses about the Pitt-Jolie entity Shiloh. Angelina lips on an infant? If the kid actually looked like that it would be horrifying. Photoshop that. I assume it's already been done.

I mean, really.... do you want to see "super-size" anything on a baby? And as far as "pouting" is concerned... pouting and kids? Well, what's more annoying? Pouting kids or grown women who "pout" not because of any emotion but out of the delusion that they are making their lips more attractive. Didn't Ben Stiller convince us of the sheer idiocy of that facial maneuver five years ago?
Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?

"He mumbled something but it was indistinguishable and it was very short."

The "he" was al-Zarqawi, still alive after the bombing:
[A military spokesman] said that when the terrorist "attempted to sort of turn away off the stretcher, everybody resecured him back onto the stretcher. ... He died almost immediately thereafter from the wounds he'd received from this airstrike."

"We did in fact see him alive," Caldwell said. "There was some sort of movement he had on the stretcher and he did die a short time later. There was confirmation from the Iraqi police that he was found alive."
In case you were hoping he suffered, you got your wish.

Democrats and Islamo-fascists.

Thomas Friedman -- behind the TimesSelect wall -- uses the occasion of the Zarqawi obliteration to lecture Democrats about their political prospects. Don't get too smug reading Bush's poll numbers, he says:
What the polls show is largely the result of President Bush's incompetent performance in Iraq, rather than the emergence of a convincing Democratic national security message or group of candidates respected on defense....

What Zarqawi and the recently arrested group of terrorists in Canada remind us of is that, whatever you think about the Iraq war, open societies today are threatened by these utterly ruthless jihadists. Many Americans feel that. If Democrats want to really seize control of the national security issue, they must persuade the country — in its gut — that they have a convincing post-Iraq strategy to rally the world against these Islamo-totalitarians.
Do Democrats even use the expression "Islamo-totalitarians" (or "Islamo-fascist")?

ADDED: And I must say that I'm enough of a Democrat that it bothers me to use the term "Islamo-fascist." I just looked at my blog after publishing this and felt a twinge seeing the word in the title to the post. Frankly, I think it's repulsive to see the word "fascist" next to the name of a religion.

"Peace, Love and Higher Returns."

Hedgestock:
This week, on spacious lawns surrounding a turreted, gargoyle-encrusted mansion north of London, thousands of hedge fund managers and the bankers and lawyers who love them gathered for their own alternative festival, called Hedgestock....

The Who, who played at Woodstock, headlined Hedgestock, and the band's guitarist, Pete Townshend, now 61 years old, did, in fact, do his trademark windmill guitar moves....

Unlike the perfectly polished, traditionally dressed and generally suave investment bankers who top the food chain in big banks, hedge fund managers have carved out a niche as the finance industry's iconoclasts. They do yoga; they buy modern art; they're often socially awkward.
I wonder if, in every area of economic activity, there is a subdivision that attracts the "socially awkward," the iconoclasts, and whatever the equivalent of a hippie is. For example, in law, it's got to be the law professors (and some subjects more than others).

"I am continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves."

Amid all the efforts to stir up public outrage about the evils of government invading our privacy, MySpace and Friendster stand as monuments to our willingness to invade our own privacy. Do you expect the government not to take advantage of the information people post about themselves?
New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals....

"You should always assume anything you write online is stapled to your resumé. People don't realise you get Googled just to get a job interview these days," says [Jon Callas, chief security officer at PGP, a Silicon Valley-based maker of encryption software].
But I used a pseudonym!... But I left off my last name!

There's also the problem of trying to make people care about the government listening in on phone calls when we walk around everywhere with our phones and talk in front of people all the time.

UPDATE: If you think this post is an argument about what rights are, your reading is very poor.

"Zarq is blown right to hell."

Daily News Headline.

Stephen Colbert, on last night's show: "al-Zarqawi is al-Kablooey."

Heard any other good lines? (And do these things ever go too far? A man did die...)

June 8, 2006

2 "American Idol" things.

1. Here's a clip of Kellie Pickler doing comic interviews at the MTV Movie Awards. I've said it before, and this proves me right: that girl's a gifted comedienne who ought to have her own show.

2. "The Daily Show" tonight did a play on "American Idol": saying al-Zarqawi's "journey ends here" and launching into a montage with "You Had a Bad Day" on the soundtrack.

Blogger?

Is Blogger behaving again yet?

No comments allowed here. If Blogger's accepting new comments, put some comments on the other posts that went up today. They need commentary. And don't put crap about Blogger over there. Really, I've heard it all and answered it all. Asked and answered. Move on.

UPDATE: As you can see from the Blogger Status page, there have been some serious problems today. Sorry if you've been trying to comment and not getting through.

A survey of Muslim women

A Gallup poll of Muslim women:
When asked what they resented most about their own societies, a majority of Muslim women polled said that a lack of unity among Muslim nations, violent extremism, and political and economic corruption were their main concerns. The hijab, or head scarf, and burqa, the garment covering face and body, seen by some Westerners as tools of oppression, were never mentioned in the women's answers to the open-ended questions, the poll analysts said.
That sounds perfectly rational to this Western woman. I don't like the gratuitous characterization of "some Westerners" here. Even those of us who are critical of forcing women to wear religious garb don't think this belongs at the top of the list when there are so many other problems.
Concerning women's rights in general, most Muslim women polled associated sex equality with the West. Seventy-eight percent of Moroccan women, 71 percent of Lebanese women and 48 percent of Saudi women polled linked legal equality with the West. Still, a majority of the respondents did not think adopting Western values would help the Muslim world's political and economic progress.

The most frequent response to the question, "What do you admire least about the West?" was the general perception of moral decay, promiscuity and pornography that pollsters called the "Hollywood image" that is regarded as degrading to women.
A lot of us here in the West aren't thrilled with those things. The key question -- was it asked? -- is whether you think you can extract the good values from a tradition not your own and adapt it for your own use.

Instead of the short vacation your job offers, just quit.

Come back whenever you want, whenever the money runs out, and get a new job. The NYT says it's a trend.

I remember this sort of thing in the 1970s. People would work to pile up enough money to go "bum around Europe" for an indefinite period. The whole idea of working was to get to the point where you could stop working and go on without work. Not retirement, you square. Time off, as much as you could squeeze out, when you're young.

Get out there and live... Out where?... Any old where!

The experiences out there will be sharper if you go places when you're young, you'll have more years to enjoy them as memories, and the money will go much further, because you can put up with much less cushy accommodations.

Or do you worry about how it will look on your resume or your law school application. Just use some of that free time to concoct a slick way to characterize the material. Aren't you so much better than that drudge who stayed at that desk for years and accepted a two-week vacation?

(But don't come crying to me in five years if it doesn't work out. You're on your own. I'm just talking off of the top of my head.)

"How I Became A Famous Weblogger and Achieved Rock Star Status as a Lawyer."

See? He was right. It worked.

"Oh, please, tell me how bad I am."

Another headline. An apt one. Let me just quote my mother, what she used to say when we expressed outrage at a sibling's evildoings: "You're only encouraging him." Or, in this case, make that her. Don't help people with their PR, especially when they are using such a tediously old PR trick. Don't you have something better to think about?

"Leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq Has Been Killed."

Savor the headline.

Text:
Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in an American air strike on an isolated safe house north of Baghdad at 6.15 p.m. local time on Wednesday....

"Today, we have managed to put an end to Zarqawi," said a beaming [Nuri Kamal al-Maliki], who took office three weeks ago at the head of Iraq's first full-term government since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He said the death should be a warning to other insurgent leaders. "They should stop now," he said. "They should review their situation and resort to logic while there is still time."
I assume that's a translation, but I love the line "They should review their situation and resort to logic...." If only we could all be logical. We did need to kill someone, but the killing is now a premise to put in your syllogism and conclude it's time to stop.

June 7, 2006

Make a list of places you're not.

Richard did.

"I'm dying for me to shut up. I get on my own nerves, like, 'Please, not again. Please.'"

So says Sean Yazbeck, the winner of the recent "Apprentice" season, in an interview with TV Guide.

Here's the context:
TVGuide.com: I want to thank you and Tammy for bringing a hint of romance to what to date has been a surprisingly asexual reality series.

Sean: I have to say... I cringe every time I see myself go on about Tammy. [Laughs] I'm dying for me to shut up. I get on my own nerves, like, "Please, not again. Please."

Ha ha. We don't hear enough about what it's like for reality show contestants to watch their edited selves on TV. And really, wouldn't we all, watching a video of our own lives, get on our own nerves?

Speaking of things rarely heard, how about this question asked by TV Guide:
[C]an you discuss Aristotle's concept of "eudaimonia"...?
And they really mean it, and he really answers. And the answer makes you think: my God, why do I watch TV?

Stop the ghostwriting, let's go back to orality.

We were just talking about Supreme Court clerks here yesterday, and now there's a New Republic piece by Judge Posner, reviewing two new books on the subject:
Today's opinions are longer--a dubious virtue. There are more separate opinions, most of which are ephemeral. Today's opinions are more polished, more "scholarly," and more carefully cite-checked, but these are modest virtues. Neither judges nor their clerks are scholars. The scholarly apparatus of judicial opinions belongs to the rhetoric rather than the substance of judicial decision-making....

Although today's Supreme Court opinions are no more poorly written on average than opinions from the era in which the justices wrote their own opinions, there is nonetheless a loss when opinions are ghostwritten. Most of the law clerks are very bright, but they are inexperienced; and judges fool themselves when they think that by careful editing they can make a judicial opinion their own.
To say the least! Editing is not writing. You can try to make it look as though you've written something, but unless you've done the drafting, the ideas did not come out of your head. No touch-up job can compensate for the failure to do the real work of composing, of reading the cases and briefs and fitting the ideas together to see if the answers really lie where you intuitively believed. If someone else fits the pieces together for you, you haven't faced up to the lapses and disconnects. Someone has worked to fill in the gaps and make things look coherent.

Am I right to be so suspicious of the Supreme Court's work? It comes out of a black box, and as Posner says, the Court is preoccupied with confidentiality:
The Court's preoccupation with the confidentiality of its internal workings makes an illuminating contrast with the English judicial tradition (now in rapid decline because of caseload pressures) of "orality." Everything English judges did was to be done in public, so that their performance could be monitored. They did not deliberate, they had no staff, they did not have libraries, they did not read briefs: on the bench they read the cases, the statutes, and the other materials that the lawyers handed up to them. (So appeals might take days to argue, which is why the tradition has eroded.) Our Supreme Court (imitated in this by most other American courts) has gone to the opposite extreme, imposing--or attempting with mixed success to impose--a regime of secrecy on the judicial decision-making process.
So, what do you think? Would you like to see a return to the orality tradition? And, of course, it should all take place on television.

"They don't have the electric chair anymore."

"But if they did, they wouldn't name it," said Bob Dylan, after noting the names of a couple of defunct electric chairs, Old Sparky and Gruesome Gertie. Wikipedia lists a few more electric chair names: Sizzlin' Sally, Old Smokey, Yellow Mama. These days, execution is by lethal injection, and I don't suppose they name the needles, either, do they? There's something wrong with naming the deadly device, isn't there? We're supposed to be serious and somber about manipulating the machinery of death. But it's the prisoners that get the nicknaming going, isn't it? They're the ones who need to laugh at death. Do we really think these folks will ease up on the morbid humor? Somewhere, someone is calling the lethal injection Little Pricky.

Anyway, the theme of this week's "Theme Time Radio with Bob Dylan" was prison, but Bob branched out to some prison-related things like chain gangs ("Back on the Chain Gang" by the Pretenders) and electric chairs (Bessie Smith doing "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair"). The last song -- I forget the title and artist -- was about a guy told he couldn't be executed until they'd brought him his last meal and if they didn't have the ingredients on had they'd go out and get them. The song is a list of items like dinosaur steak and crocodile tears. Most predictable song: "Folsom Prison Blues." He played that first, so you didn't have to think about when he would play it. Bob tells us Cash came up with the line "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" after deciding he wanted the worst reason to kill somebody -- and it didn't take long to think of that reason. The singer who impressed me the most: Wanda Jackson ("There's a Riot Going On"). What a voice!

What was Bob's attitude toward prison? I kept trying to discern it, but he was his usual enigmatic self. There was no preachiness about injustice. He was mostly matter of fact. People commit crimes, and then they go to prison, and it's bad. He didn't seem too sympathetic, nor was he channeling society's vindictiveness -- though at one point he seemed to approve of the chain gang. They're out there by the side of the road, and you can point them out and say don't let that happen to you. Mostly, as on all the shows, you can hear how much he loves all the singers.

Business etiquette, Vietnam style.

21 oil company officials must write self-criticism reports for failing to sing karaoke at a contract-signing ceremony:
"No one has been laid off yet but they have to criticize themselves for not participating in collective activities."
Is part of your job participating in office "fun"? Don't you hate that? Isn't that what the TV show "The Office" is about? I'd just like to see the Vietnam version of the show.

A policy of grade deflation.

Is this any way for a university to seek to distinguish itself?

"I know in many meetings of our colleagues when the issue of marriage comes up, heads drop."

Said Senator Rick Santorum, who's pushing the constitutional amendment against gay marriage. "It is just an issue that people just feel uncomfortable talking about. It's something that maybe in some respects they feel like, why do we even have to? Why is this even an issue?"

He, of course, goes on to defend the posturing in the Senate, which any sensible onlooker can see is about motivating social conservatives to vote for Republicans this fall. The assumption must be that these folks are too dumb to see what a hollow stunt it is. As for the rest of us, presumably we're supposed to acknowledge political realities and avert our eyes.

June 6, 2006

"God will save me, if he exists."

Shouted a man who crept into the lioness's enclosure at a zoo in Kiev. The lioness lunged straight at him and severed his carotid artery.

Tornado warning.

The first tornado warning of the season. The sirens are going now, joined at the end by thunder. I used to gather the whole family together and go down to the basement. But now, I just hang out close to the basement door.

Here's the '05 first-tornado-warning-of-the-year post. It was March 30th. Interesting. Why so late this year? Global warming? Global cooling?

Here 's the first mention ever on this blog of a tornado, "Tagliatelle Bolognese ... with tornado":
I don't spend much time cooking, and I normally go to great lengths to avoid setting foot in a grocery store, but when I saw [a recipe] the NYT Magazine today, I tore out the page, got in my car, drove to the store, bought all the ingredients on the list, drove home, and immediately put together the meat sauce. As I was checking out with the ingredients and some extra bottles of red wine, the young man behind me in line said, "I want go to your party." So now the sauce is almost done -- it needs to cook for 3 hours -- and the pasta water is coming to a boil. If there is one food I love it's Bolognese meat sauce. For many years, I've used the recipe in in this book. I'm not really looking to replace that fine, fine recipe, but ... YIKES!! The tornado warning just went off!!! Ah, don't worry about me .... I'm well positioned near my basement door and ready to seek shelter if I see some significant wind activity from this vantage point. I'm not going to the basement yet though. Because I'm still hungry.... and I fully intend to eat some pasta if it's the last thing I do.

Yeah, that's what I'm doing now. Waiting out the tornado. Wish I had some Bolognese sauce on the stove.

Wow.

Strap-on stealth wings.

First, fire all the law clerks.

Stuart Taylor Jr. and Benjamin Wittes think the Supreme Court Justices have too much free time -- what's with O'Connor taking 28 junkets in '04 and publishing 3 books in 4 years? -- and it's making them arrogant. (Link for subscribers to The Atlantic... or use this link, which is good for 3 days.)
Eliminating the law clerks would ... make them more “independent” than they really want to be, by ending their debilitating reliance on twentysomething law-school graduates. Perhaps best of all, it would effectively shorten their tenure by forcing them to do their own work, making their jobs harder and inducing them to retire before power corrupts absolutely or decrepitude sets in.

No justice worth his or her salt should need a bunch of kids who have never (or barely) practiced law to draft opinions for him or her....

Justice Harry Blackmun’s papers show that, especially in his later years, clerks did most of the opinion writing and the justice often did little more than minor editing, as well as checking the accuracy of spelling and citations. Ginsburg, Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy reportedly have clerks write most or all of their first drafts—according to more or less detailed instructions—and often make few substantial changes. Some of O’Connor’s clerks have suggested that she rarely touched clerk drafts; others say she sometimes did substantial rewrites, depending on the opinion.

There’s no reason why seats on the highest court in the land, which will always offer their occupants great power and prestige, should also allow them to delegate the detailed writing to smart but unseasoned underlings. Any competent justice should be able to handle more than the current average of about nine majority opinions a year. And those who don’t want to work hard ought to resign in favor of people who do.
I heartily agree!

D-Day.

There is something unseemly -- a reader reminds me -- about all this talk of 666 and the Devil when it is also the anniversary of D-Day.

How is the "actual Satanist community" reacting to 6/6/06?

The BBC investigates:
Rev. John D Allee is the founder of the First Church of Satan in Salem, America, which split from the original Church of Satan 12 years ago.

"I plan to take Lillee, my High Priestess, to the opening of The Omen movie," says the self-styled Dark Pope. "Then it's out for dinner."

The Temple of Set takes a more solemn view. This is another breakaway from the Church of Satan, claiming a history of several thousand years, and "formally incorporated in 1975 CE".

Louise Renard is a priestess and assistant to the executive director in London. "There is nothing significant about that day or that number" she says. "Unless the new Omen movie turns out to be better than expected."

Meanwhile, Vexen Crabtree, the Minister of the London Church of Satan, plans to go to one of the alternative clubs that are celebrating 06/06/06. "My official take on it is that 666 is really only a Christian number," he explains. "But any excuse for a party is a good one."

Crabtree dissociates the Church of Satan from the Temple of Set and the First Church of Satan, saying it is the only Satanist group that is "sane and worthwhile".

He says any Satanists who actually worship the Devil, rather than revering "Satan" as an abstract value, are "immature, unstable and nothing to do with us".
I've got to say that the thing that upsets me the most about that passage is the placement of punctuation in relation to quotation marks! The Satanists themselves seem amusingly ordinary. Or is that a trick? But really, what's with the Satanic British punctuation? I know the argument for why it makes more sense than what we do, that our approach was to make things easier for printers, but it looks so wrong.

"I love to serve. I love the Senate. I love the Constitution. If I could live another 100 years, I'd like to continue in the Senate."

No 666 jokes. It's not until next Monday that Robert Byrd becomes the longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate.

The left and right blogohemispheres.

Jack Hawkins interviews RNC eCampaign Director Patrick Ruffini:
John Hawkins: Does the RNC have any sort of organized method for checking out what the blogosphere is doing on a daily basis?

Patrick Ruffini: Sure! Each morning we start off with a blog report that gets sent out in the morning and afternoon...that tells the entire building what bloggers are talking about that day.
Ruffini on the left blogohemisphere:
We read about the perfect Kos 0-19 record. It's not important how big you are, it's how effective you are, frankly, at winning elections and in all aspects of the campaign, be it money, be it volunteers, be it media buzz.
Hmmm.... did you see Markos Moulitsas (with Jerome Armstrong) on Tim Russert's CNBC show? Yeah, I know, insert wisecracks about how no one watches CNBC. I TiVo Tim Russert's show and usually check it out. I was struck by how un-camera-ready Kos and Armstrong were (as they continued to promote their book "Crashing the Gate"). Ah, well, what the hell does it matter? Russert himself isn't camera-ready. I'm always distracted by the way he gently sways, like a large, tethered balloon. But Armstrong seemed robotic, with his utterly frozen face. And Kos looked wild-eyed and rabbit-y, as he came right out and said the Democratic Party needs to become more aggressively left-wing:
Well, there was this, I think, notion in the progressive movement that politics is a pendulum, and all we got to do is sit and wait back for this pendulum to swing back in our direction. And [the 2004] election, I think in a lot of ways, brought home that even though we had the money -- money was always an excuse -- we had the money, we had the issues, we had the numbers in our favor, it still was not enough to win. So, therefore, there had to be something else. And as we write about, it's the lack of a left-wing message machine. It's lack of left-wing machinery, like a vast left-wing conspiracy to counter this incredible and very efficient, very effective machine on the right.
What do you think Russert was thinking then? Oh good lord, these are the guys who are supposed to help the Democratic Party?

Back to the Ruffini interview:
John Hawkins: Are there any issues or ways things were handled internally at the RNC over the last couple of years where you think the blogosphere may have had a particular impact?

Patrick Ruffini: I could probably spew off a few examples...

John Hawkins: Sure! Go ahead.

Patrick Ruffini: ...But, I think it would probably be in the realm of the, "inside the playbook," kind of stuff which we generally don't talk about. ...One of the very helpful aspects of the conservative blogosphere is that I think you cover...a wider variety of issues perhaps than your counterparts on the left. The blogs are talking about one thing and the RNC might be talking about something that day. I don't see that as a weakness, per se.
So much for the assertions that we bloggers just serve up the party's talking points. We can only guess at what Ruffini is not saying there.

It seems the left blogohemisphere wants to be a big machine for its party (but it foolishly wants to grind out a message that's too left wing). And the right blogohemisphere is all over the place, unwilling to provide mechanical services. Neither party can really get what it wants from the bloggers. That's a good thing.

But the style of not doing what the party wants is different on the right and the left. Which party is more threatened by the bloggers it perceives as allies? It should be the bloggers who oppose you that threaten to do the most damage, but I don't think it is. It's those bloggers who are trying to help that you've got to watch out for.

UPDATE: And here's Cox on Kos (via Instapundit):
Moulitsas’s rhetoric and passion have made him a posterboy bomb-thrower. He's the left's own Kurt Cobain and Che Guevera rolled into one, dripping sex appeal for progressives for whom debate has become synonymous with losing, who need a muscular liberal answer to the cowboy swagger adopted by the Bush Administration and its fans.
Sex appeal? Don't drip any of that on me.
Moulitsas does know he has become the face of the netroots, though he insists that it's a position he has inherited only by default. The left lacks many telegenic spokespeople, he says, "It's the difference between the Fox News anchors — you know, blond, put-together — and our people. It's like, 'You know, lady, put on a bra. Would it kill you to put on a bra?'"
Yeah, lefty ladies, your leader wants you to wear a bra. Put yourself together. Can't you bleach your hair and put on some of that high gloss lip goo? I'm hearing echoes of that famous old lefty line "the only position for women ... is prone."

Lefties assume they've got a solid image as feminist so they can say things like this and smile. They don't deserve that image, and people who care about feminism ought to resist it hardily. I recommend seeing feminism as something quite apart from other party politics. One party may seem to be on your side while it comes in handy, but they won't be there when it's not. Cultivate independence.

"John Updike writing about terrorism?"

Michiko Kakutani goes after "[t]he bard of the middle-class mundane, the chronicler of suburban adultery and angst" for his look into the mind of a jihadist in his new book "Terrorist":
[T]he journalistic portraits of the 9/11 hijackers that Terry McDermott of The Los Angeles Times pieced together — from interviews with acquaintances of the hijackers, "The 9/11 Commission Report" and material from interrogations of captured terrorists — in his 2005 book "Perfect Soldiers" are a hundred times more fascinating, more nuanced and more psychologically intriguing than the cartoonish stick figure named Ahmad whom Mr. Updike has created in these pages....

[He] is given to saying things like "the American way is the way of infidels," and the country "is headed for a terrible doom." Or: "Purity is its own end." Or: "I thirst for Paradise."

In other words, Ahmad talks not like a teenager who was born and grew up in New Jersey but like an Islamic terrorist in a bad action-adventure movie, or someone who has been brainwashed and programmed to spout jihadist clichés. Much of the time he sounds like someone who has learned English as a second language.

Mr. Updike does an equally lousy job of showing us why Ahmad is willing to die and kill for jihad. We're told that the imam who teaches Ahmad the Koran has become a surrogate father to the fatherless boy. We're told that Ahmad is disgusted with his flirtatious mother and her succession of boyfriends. And we're told that he wants a mission in life and can't think of anything else he wants to do after high school.
How I wish some filmmaker would do to this book what Stanley Kubrick did to "Red Alert"!

Actually, the first movie this review made me think of was not "Dr. Strangelove," it was "Napoleon Dynamite." Something about the teenager who doesn't fit in and talks funny called to mind the unforgettable dialogue:
Do the chickens have large talons?

Do they have what?

Large talons.

I don't understand a word you just said.
We need to make more fun of the terrorists. I don't want to see the World Trade Center burning in a horror movie. I want to see merciless fun made of the terrorists. Updike seems to be trying to understand terror-boy. Somebody throw a Kubrick at him.

We are horrified....

...by the new horror movie, "The Omen":
Early in the movie a shot of the World Trade Center in flames, introduced as a portent of Armageddon, sharpens this remake's sour tang of exploitation.
... horrified by the filmmakers' despicable greediness to manipulate emotion that they would appropriate and desecrate this image.

Alito is not Scalito.

Linda Greenhouse also writes about Zedner v. United States, a case the Court issued yesterday, dealing with the right to a speedy trial:
Justice Antonin Scalia refused to sign the paragraph of the opinion in which Justice Alito cited the legislative history of the Speedy Trial Act as further evidence for his interpretation of the statute.

"The use of legislative history is illegitimate and ill advised in the interpretation of any statute," Justice Scalia's concurring opinion declared in what has become a familiar theme from him.
Just one more reason not to call him Scalito.

UPDATE: WaPo echo.

Once again, the Supreme Court takes up the question of racial balance in education.

Linda Greenhouse writes:
The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to rule on what measures, if any, public school systems may use to maintain racial balance in individual schools....

The action came three years after the court upheld a racially conscious admissions plan at the University of Michigan Law School. Writing for the majority in that 5-to-4 decision, Grutter v. Bollinger, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor suggested that, at least in higher education, affirmative action might be necessary for another 25 years.
Greenhouse notes that the back in December, before Alito replaced O'Connor, the Court denied cert in a similar case. That is, it seemed as though there were not four Justices who were ready to go back to the issue that so recently roiled the Court in Grutter and now there are.
Briefs are now likely to pour into the court in advance of a November argument; the University of Michigan case drew more than 100 briefs. But one of the more influential analyses may prove to be a brief concurring opinion in the Seattle case by Judge Alex Kozinski, the Ninth Circuit judge whose views carry great weight among legal conservatives.

Describing the Seattle plan as one "that gives the American melting pot a healthy stir without benefiting or burdening any particular group," Judge Kozinski addressed the Supreme Court justices directly, on the assumption that they would soon be reviewing the decision.

"There is much to be said for returning primacy on matters of educational policy to local officials," he said.
Grutter had a similar theme appealing to conservatives: leave university officials alone to shape policy as they think is right, as they look at complex factors. This is not just a matter of deferring to education experts. It's a recognition that courts may not be able to make better decisions and that more litigation will drain resources that can be better spent elsewhere.

There are many differences between universities and early schooling however. Young children are compelled to attend school, and parents care a lot about sending their children to a nearby school. We can easily understand why they feel wronged when their child is turned away from the nearest school explicitly because of race, especially in a city (like Seattle) that never practiced segregation.

But there is local government, and these parents had their chance to participate in it and lost. The question is whether they should be able to enlist courts in the project of changing the policy produced by that democratic process. Can you say that they should without repudiating Grutter?

June 5, 2006

"The Apprentice" -- the finale!

Sean or Lee. Lee's young. Sean's in love. Oh, it's obvious! Sean is the most charismatic finalist they've ever had on the show. Lee is a cool guy, but Sean's an original. Who care's about the boring charity tasks they just did? We're looking at the big picture, the whole season. Come on! It's Sean, right?

UPDATE: And it's Sean! Who just said he's going to marry Tammy, by the way. The ultimate winner. He gets the job and the girl. And he's adorable.

666.

Tomorrow's the big 666 day. June 6th, '06.
It all started with Revelation 13:18 in the Bible: "This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six."
If there is a God, do you think there's a chance in Hell that he smiles on your superstitiousness?

This calls for wisdom...

Why doesn't that phrase get more attention? Wise up, people! Numerology, in all its manifestations, is utterly pathetic.

Do you think there are people in this world who think I'm an agent of Satan for writing this post? I do!

"A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry pure and simple."

Says Senator Kennedy. I'd say it's a vote for political gain -- whichever side you're voting on -- and it's not the least bit pure, though it is rather simple. You call them bigots. They emit sentences like: "Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society... Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all." I'm not going to listen to the details of this shameless talk. We've been through it all before, and there isn't a chance in hell that the damned thing is going to pass (given the required supermajorities).

Welcome to the new week.

How are you doing? Just starting a vacation, maybe? Embarking on an exciting new job? Congratulations! Me, I've just reached the day when the deadlines are kicking in. I've taken the pile of exams out of the drawer where they've been aging, like a fine cheese, for about one month. I have actually completely forgotten what the questions on the exam are. But the deadline is Friday, and it will be met. You can't put the exams in a drawer for a month and then not meet the deadline, especially if you're going to be cheeky enough to compare them to a fine cheese, in writing, on line. I've got three other obligations to meet this week, and I hope to interweave these projects with the exam-grading in some deft, energizing way. Will there be blogging too? Yes, blogging will occur. I will blog in the spaces to moderate the pressure. But I need this pressure. I've been waiting for it. This is the week.

June 4, 2006

"Sopranos," "Big Love."

Big finales tonight. Unfortunately, I had to do something in the real world, so I haven't watched any of it. I'll catch up in a day or so. But you can go ahead and talk about the shows. Don't worry about spoiling in the comments.

Audible Althouse #52.

Idle talk, convergences, and a blind item about some nasty bloggers. It's a hot new podcast. Stream it here.

And subscribe:

Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

"Screw all them people who don't like him."

"George is doing a hell of a job during very difficult times, more power to him." I know they keep saying, week by week, that George Bush's poll numbers have fallen even lower, and even lower than that, to the lowest of the low, 'til you'd just about think there was no person in the history of the world less popular. But take heart, Mr. President, you've got Mickey Rourke on your side. So screw all them people who don't like him.

Convergences.

When John was in town we watched the movie "Coffee and Cigarettes" one evening, and then the next day we listened to that Rufus Wainwright song "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk." Later, I was in the café and didn't like the music they were piping in, so I put in my earphones and fired up Pandora and meant to type in "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" to get to some more music like that. Mixing in the movie title and influenced by that coffee I was drinking, I typed in "Cigarettes and Coffee." Pandora turned up a song I'd never heard before called "Cigarettes and Coffee" -- by Otis Redding. I wasn't meaning to listen to that kind of music but I liked it well enough.

I'd been too busy this week to do my Wednesday morning drive to listen to "Theme Time Radio With Bob Dylan," but I went to check the website to see when the replays of the new show were, and I saw the theme this week is "Coffee," and one of the songs on the playlist was "Cigarettes and Coffee" by Otis Redding. Now When it's time for one of the replays, so I'm going to get in my car and go for a drive. If I kill myself in an accident, be sure to say she died doing something she loved, and link to this post. Have a cup of coffee and talk about convergences, including whatever it was my car converged with.

UPDATE, after hearing the show: More convergences. On the death theme, Bob mentions how Otis died, converging by airplane with a lake here in Madison, Wisconsin. And he plays a clip from the movie "Coffee and Cigarettes," the part where Iggy Pop tells Tom Waits he ordered coffee for him and then worries if that's okay.

Idle talk.

I love this Dave Barry review of Tom Lutz's book "Doing Nothing."
Lutz was inspired to write it by his 18-year-old son, Cody, who decided to take a year off before starting college, and seemed content to spend his time lying on Lutz's couch watching TV. Lutz found that his son's behavior angered him, and this anger troubled him, because in his own youth he had spent a fair number of years engaged in countercultural activities not widely considered productive....

And so Lutz set out to trace the history of society's attitudes toward working and slacking. He begins with two 18th-century giants who professed opposite views. On one side stands Benjamin Franklin, creator of the archetypal workaholic, Poor Richard, who believes man has a moral duty to waste not a single moment in the relentless effort to accumulate wealth. On the other side stands Samuel Johnson, creator of the "Idler," who believes the only value of work is to enable leisure, and the highest calling is to do as little as possible....
Both were bullshitting, Lutz tells us.
Lutz concludes that most of us are both workaholic and slacker — "we all tend to embody a bit of both ends of the spectrum." We feel we work too hard, but also that we fritter away much of our time. We scorn the lazy and unproductive, but we long to win the lottery so we can hit the hammock ourselves. We criticize our kids for doing exactly what we did when we were their age.
I put a lot of mental energy into thinking about whether I'm working too hard and about whether I'm goofing off all the time. Then there's that strange intermediate idea -- Barry talks about it -- where you think about how the seeming goofing off is really part of the work -- warming up, somehow, or gestating material. This blog is the very essence of all that.

One of the benefits of being single -- a topic we were just talking about -- is that there's no one keeping an eye on you, passing judgment on you for working too hard and goofing off too much -- which you know you are. You're probably doing both, right? You're surely doing at least one. And shouldn't your goofing off time be more active and pleasurable, more dynamic and outdoorsy? And shouldn't your work be more productive, more efficient, more beneficial to all mankind? More importantly, what's on TV?

The artist drops dead at his drawing table.

Goodbye to Alex Toth:
Before working in animation, Toth was a comic book artist, widely regarded as brilliant, who had some success but even more frustration.

He rarely held on to an artist job for long because of a simple, subtle drawing style and a stubborn adherence to his artistic principles. And he preferred pirate tales and westerns over the more popular super hero comics.

"Toth was one of the most brilliant artists ever in comic books but also someone who was the odd man out in many ways," said comics publisher and critic Gary Groth. "He was never associated with a particular character, and he was pushed off to marginal titles."

But Toth's forms would prove influential in underground comics and graphic novels in later decades. Comic artist Will Eisner called him "a mastery of realism within a stunning illustrative style."...

Drawing for Hanna Barbera in the 1960s and 1970s, Toth designed characters for adventure cartoons "Jonny Quest" and "The Herculoids" in addition to "The Superfriends" and "Space Ghost," and he achieved the wider recognition and commercial success that had eluded him.
Dying at the drawing table -- how often does that happen? Many times, when someone has died, I have heard the claim made that the person died doing what he loved, and it usually seems to be a sad search for something positive to say. But here was Toth, 77 years old and in failing health, still immersed in his life's work.

UPDATE: If I drop dead next to my laptop, be sure to link to this post and say you know what.

Photos...

By Bill Wyman:



The one of Brian Jones, seen in a rear view mirror, is very evocative. Brian Jones looked so smudged up just before he died. I think of his picture here:



When that album came out I was shocked to see how bad he'd come to look, like some shrunken gnome.

(This is the album they play in the tent in "The Royal Tenenbaums." Though they are playing the vinyl disc, the right song doesn't follow "Ruby Tuesday" -- very striking to someone who's played the album more than a thousand times.)

ADDED: I'm just reading over quotes from the movie "The Royal Tenenbaums." I love that movie.
I did find it odd when you said you were in love with her. She's married you know.

Yeah.

And she's your sister.

Adopted.
So much better than "Match Point," which we watched last night. Why compare them? Just because we watched "Match Point" last night, and something today reminded me of "The Royal Tenenbaums." They do both have a lot of tennis in them -- and loving the wrong person -- but they play out quite differently. And TRT is immensely better.

"Match Point" quotes:
I don't know what I'm doing with you, you're never going to leave Chloe!

Maybe I will.

Stop playing games with me!

Keep your voice down.
Huh? That was typed in as "memorable"? Pathetic.

MORE: Hmmm.... I knew I'd blogged about "The Royal Tenenbaums" before. And it's that the right song doesn't precede "Ruby Tuesday."

"The only thing I want to see that early, is coffee, the paper, and t*ts."

Said some guy explaining why he missed a morning basketball game, according to a column in Ladies Home Journal.

Did you read this post title and think hey, what's with that language on Althouse? It's from Ladies Home Journal. What's with that language in Ladies Home Journal?

And how bad is "t*ts," anyway? It's on the original George Carlin 7 Words You Can't Say on TV list, but even he, even way back when he started the list, immediately said "t*ts" didn't really belong on the list:
T*ts doesn't even belong on the list, you know. It's such a friendly sounding word. It sounds like a nickname. 'Hey, T*ts, come here. T*ts, meet Toots, Toots, T*ts, T*ts, Toots.' It sounds like a snack doesn't it? Yes, I know, it is, right. But I don't mean the sexist snack, I mean, New Nabisco T*ts. The new Cheese T*ts, and Corn T*ts and Pizza T*ts, Sesame T*ts Onion T*ts, Tater T*ts, Yeah. Betcha can't eat just one. That's true I usually switch off . But I mean that word does not belong on the list.

"Is it a good time for black men? Is it bad? It's right in between."

A WaPo poll.

The likelihood that a single 40-year old woman will marry....

It's not 5%, as Newsweek announced back in 1986. It's 40%. Newsweek now admits it was wrong. The statistic, we're told, was distorted by the failure to recognize that women would marry later in life than they had in years past.

The statistic itself became a vital part of pop culture:
In "Sleepless in Seattle," the character played by Meg Ryan informed a co-worker that the terrorist statistic was not true. The co-worker, played by Rosie O'Donnell, responded, "It's not true, but it feels true."
(Fake but accurate!)

I wonder if the fake statistic itself changed behavior. If you think your chances are slim, you may accept a mate you would have rejected if you believed there would be more options down the road. A great deal of pressure was created, urging women not to "forget to have children." And yet it's also likely that some women would give up and think: I'm 35 and not married, so I need to focus on trying to accomplish something that's within reach.

I really do wonder how much pop culture, including pop statistics, changed us and how it changed us. How much more powerful than feminism was all that? ... is all that?