November 24, 2007

"So then I realized I was in trouble."

Matter of fact recognition of what you have to do to survive.

Just started cutting the meat away from the bone...

Wow! What a great guy!

A child's skeleton, masks made of human skin, stuffed animals, Nazi memorabilia...

Things Marilyn Manson bought using his band's money, according to a lawsuit filed by keyboardist Stephen "Pogo" Bier. Showing a tin ear for public relations — or a keen ear for what pleases a certain niche fan — Manson said:
"The fact that he's claiming that I've treated him unfairly, financially, is really ridiculous."

Don't you realize that all this creepy stuff is the reason we've made so much money. Prove it's a waste!
"And I would never spend my money on a Chinese girl skeleton. That would be crossing the line. It's a Chinese boy, for the record."

Dead child humor.

"You are sometimes on the point of saying that so-and-so’s thighs showed that he wanted to travel in India!"

Some critic said that to Leo Tolstoy. But, so what? Let's read "War and Peace" again: There's a new translation by the wonderful Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

If "every campaign is... a narrative," what's Hillary Clinton's narrative?

Mickey Kaus looks at John Ellis's idea, which he gleaned from the Nixon campaign. Ellis says:
She knows what it's like to get her head kicked in every day, day after day after day, for months and years on end. She endures....

...I think her narrative is not "she's inevitable because she's experienced and the others are too light." I think her narrative is "formidable, battle-scarred, flawed, but important." I think [Hillary strategist Mark] Penn thinks he can micro-target to victory. I think they need a large macro theme that enables people to vote for Hillary, even though they don't want to.

It's obviously late now. This is work they should have done in 2006 and 2007: setting the context for "understanding" her candidacy ...
Ha ha. They need to explain to us how to vote for Hillary, even though we don't want to

But I'm not really laughing. Actually, I picture myself doing exactly that. I don't like her, and I don't want to vote for her, but somehow, I assume that in the end I will. I'm resisting now — look at all my recent Hillary posts — but it's probably because I see myself ending up doing what I don't want to do.

So Mickey says:
Campaigning as tough, battle-scarred fixture, etc. would certainly serve Hillary better, should she lose Iowa and New Hampshire, than campaigning as "inevitable." It seems entirely possible... that primary voters might feel like resurrecting Ms. Durability after she's suffered a bit by way of a New Hampshire loss. (Making her suffer a bit might even be the point...) But there's no point in resurrecting a failed Ms. Inevitability. ...
So "enduring" is the new "inevitable." It's all "inevitable" can be when you're not — you know — inevitable. Plus, "enduring" seems almost charmingly complex. Which has that pseudo-warmth that's as warm as you can be when you're ... Nixonian.



(By the way, where the video of Rick Lazio invading Hillary's space in that old debate? Is it not available on line? If not, why not?)

ADDED: The video is hard to find, but Ruth Anne Adams found "The Daily Show"'s version of it.

"Patronage does not mean giving a job to someone who supported you politically."

"It means giving a job to someone only because he supported you politically." So wrote Rudy Giuliani in his book "Leadership," quoted in this WaPo article, which airs the views of his critics:
Giuliani "had a blind spot when it came to people he knew well" and "very little respect for the vetting process," [said Jerome Hauer, who briefly headed the office emergency management.] "The competent people in the administration all tended to leave because they got tired of the borderline-incompetent people who got in. He ran off the professionals because they were difficult to work with. If they didn't do things the way he wanted or overshadowed him, he got furious."

Fran Reiter, a deputy mayor under Giuliani, said most initial Cabinet hires came via a "very extensive search process," but the mayor was more likely to emphasize personal ties when it came to public safety jobs. Giuliani wanted ownership over that realm because of his law enforcement background, she said. And he worried that department veterans who he did not have ties with would have more allegiance to the departments than to him.

"These were areas where he just really wanted people whom he trusted and who were not going to do anything other than what he wanted them to do," she said.

Giuliani's most ill-fated promotion, other than Kerik's, was his 1998 choice to run the city's Housing Development Corp.: Russell Harding, the son of the former head of New York's Liberal Party, whose backing of Giuliani was crucial in his election. Harding had no college degree or background in housing and finance, and was eventually convicted of stealing more than $300,000 from the agency and sentenced to more than five years in prison for the embezzlement and for possessing child pornography.
More in the article. This is an aspect of the Giuliani candidacy we need to study carefully. 

"These patients are still people, they are still emotional and they still need love."

The story of Justice O'Connor and her husband, who, debilitated by Alzheimer's, found a new love, makes us want to think more deeply about what it means to have a relationship with someone who can no longer remember you:
Laura L. Carstensen, a psychology professor and founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, said new relationships among dementia patients can often be very hard on families....

"The emotion center of the brain tends to be relatively well preserved in dementia patients, even as their memory disappears. ... The key to understanding these relationships is that that these patients are still people, they are still emotional and they still need love," she said....
Is there any choice but to manifest acceptance of what has happened, to be generous to the person who is — after all — dying? The real pain and jealousy — if it exists — must be endured privately. But one need not tell the world about any of it, as Justice O'Connor has chosen to do. There is little point in her saying: Look what is happening to me and how well I am taking it. I'm thinking that, knowing this is common occurrence, she is offering some moral support for others who are facing what she is. It's a generosity extending outward, to strangers.

It happens that there is an excellent movie on the subject this year called "Away From Her," an adaptation of an Alice Munro story called "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" (available now as a separate book).  I watched the movie the other day, then read the story. I wanted to read the story to understand more of something I thought I saw in the movie, but what I was interested in was not part of Munro's story at all. It was introduced by the screenplay writer, the film's director, Sarah Polley.

Early in the movie, the husband, Grant, tours the nursing home where he will put his wife, Fiona. We see that there are 2 floors to the facility, the first floor, where patients are continually involved in socializing, and the second floor, where they put more "progressed" patients. Grant refuses to look at the second floor or even to think of Fiona ending up there. Later, we see that on the second floor, there are simple rooms and no socializing. 

Don't we all, always, move between the first and second floor, the life of socializing and the life of solitude? We have different preferences, and some of us are more introverted and choose to live on the second floor. I thought there was a larger concept to the movie, and I have to spoil the ending to say what I mean.

On the first floor, Fiona becomes attached to another resident, a man named Aubrey. She sits with him and watches him play bridge, and she tends to him. She's absorbed in him. Her husband tries to reach her, by bringing her books and reading to her as he had done in the past. (He was a professor of Icelandic literature, and she was of Icelandic ancestry, and the book is about Iceland.) She can't understand him, and she what she likes about Aubrey is that he doesn't confuse her. 

When Aubrey leaves the facility, Fiona declines and, consequently, they move her to the second floor. Grant does what he can to get Aubrey back, but in the end, before Aubrey's return, Grant enters the room and finds Fiona reading the book about Iceland. She seems alive again, restored by reading, and she can, to some extent, recognize and love her husband again. She isn't confused by a book or a man who is devoted to books, she's reoriented.

I thought this meant something about solitude, reading, and the life of the mind. I thought the message was something like: We fall out of touch with our humanity, we lose our grip on our own identity if our life is filled with socializing. Or: Institutions are designed by extroverts, who think there's something wrong if there isn't continual social interaction, and an introverted person, who thrives in the life of the mind, is ruined in such a place.

I don't think Munro's story says anything like this, but I think it is the leavening that Sarah Polley — who is only 27 — brought to the story, giving it a much broader and more universal meaning. 

"Maybe yellow blotches, wrinkles, and phantom fetuses really get a pubescent neotenic mole salamander in the mood for love."

What's the web's most reliable source of amazing sentences? I think it's Go Fug Yourself.

November 23, 2007

"I'm coming to your planet, but with gifts."

Don't you love Elisa? Spit and all.

How dare you question her! To question her is to wish my son had died!

Howard Kurtz notes that the candidates are using a type of ad that looks very mellow but is designed to inoculate them against future attacks.

Here's the Hillary ad he mentions:



UPDATE, Sunday, November 25: "Using a man to talk about trust — is that an admission that she has a problem with men and that she has a problem with the trust factor?" Tim Russert asks on today's "Meet the Press."

How I know who the NYT wants to be President.

I looked at these 3 photos.

(Thanks to my son John for this insight. And here's an earlier post on the linked article.)

ADDED: Hey, remember "plaidgate"?

"The wind of freedom blows." "No, that slogan blows."

Think you've got a good college slogan? Think again.

Consider Cornell's motto, "rated No. 1 by Motto" (there's a Motto magazine for some reason):
It's a statement made by the university's founder, Ezra Cornell: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." Still, that mouthful leaves Scott White, who runs the Web site Brand Identity Guru, nonplussed. "Wow. Okay. I don't know what to say to that," he says. "I think that's just awful."

The University of California has "Fiat Lux" — in other words, "Let There Be Light." A tad grandiose. On the "light" theme, but not mentioned in the article is the University of Wisconsin's motto: "Numen Lumen." What does it mean? It rhymes. It's fun to say. It sounds like a guy's name. (Newman Louman.) But what does it mean? I've never known — through all these 20+ years of reading it. And apparently, no one else does either!

What Lola wants...

... is to be a star.

(And that first commenter over there is mean... and also uninformed about the significance of Frida Kahlo in the mind of Madonna.)

"Our prescribed drugs do extra duty as political sedatives."

Frederick C. Crews looks at the dynamics of "Big Pharma."
[T]he pharmaceutical companies haven't so much answered a need as turbocharged it. And because self-reporting is the only means by which nonpsychotic mental ailments come to notice, a wave of induced panic may wildly inflate the epidemiological numbers, which will then drive the funding of public health campaigns to combat the chosen affliction.

This dynamic also applies to a variety of commonplace if bothersome states that the drug makers want us to regard as chemically reparable. They range from excitability and poor concentration to menstrual and menopausal effects and "female sexual dysfunction," whose signature is frustration in bed with the presumably blameless husband or lover.... As patients on a prophylactic regimen, we are grateful for any risk reduction, however minuscule; but our gratitude leaves us disinclined to ask whether the progressively lowered thresholds for intervention were set without any commercial influence. In that sense our prescribed drugs do extra duty as political sedatives.

"Iowa is a state where, if you work very hard and are a very good speaker..."

"...you can get to speak at a gazillion small meetings and have a gazillion people say, 'Holy heck, this guy is really good.'"

People are trying to explain why Mike Huckabee suddenly appears to be doing so well in Iowa. He isn't using direct mail, he's just started with a TV commercial, and he has little money and few staffers.

The candidates and their food issues.

The NYT presents the full array.

Hmmm.... Barack Obama was "chubby" as a child. 

Mitt Romney "eats the same thing every day."

Gerald R. Ford "bit into a tamale with the corn husk still on" in 1976.

Bill Richardson is "a veteran of the Atkins and liquid diets who wears a double chin despite daily workouts."

Mike Huckabee — the anti-Richardson — once lost 110 pounds and now says "If you’re really overweight, some people just look at you and immediately sort of write you off. They just assume you’re undisciplined.”

Big problem for everyone: They have to eat the local delicacies whether they like it or not.

This make me want to dredge up the old Bob Dylan rap song — "I Shall Be Free":
Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote,
He's a-runnin' for office on the ballot note.
He's out there preachin' in front of the steeple,
Tellin' me he loves all kinds-a people.
(He's eatin' bagels
He's eatin' pizza
He's eatin' chitlins
He's eatin' bullshit!)

Ha ha. Very hard to understand that last word from the recording. I've listened to that song hundreds of times — mostly back when I let Bob Dylan rearrange all my opinions circa 1966. And right now, this morning, is the first time I've known what the word was.

ADDED: John IMs: "hm, I wonder who the NYT is supporting based on the photos they chose for that food article." LOL.

Come on, Democrats, please, attack Hillary!

Kimberly A. Strassel looks for weakness in Hillary Clinton's campaign:
Mr. Obama has come the closest to delving into Mrs. Clinton's past, though you need an Enigma machine to decode it. His campaign slogan is "Change We Can Believe In." (Translation: If you elect her, don't be surprised what she discovers in a box under a table.) He's mused about "character and judgment." (Translation: I don't trade in cattle futures.) Freudian psychology this is, Mortal Kombat it is not. Yet while the squeaky clean Mr. Obama may be best positioned to make a moral case against Mrs. Clinton, his own "politics of hope" has made it difficult to pull out the brass knuckles.

The rest of Mrs. Clinton's opponents fear an attack on her ethics would backfire, allowing her to paint herself as a female victim. You can bet they've studied the video of Rick Lazio, Mrs. Clinton's 2000 Senate opponent, invading her debate space, and Mrs. Clinton's ensuing performance as flinching, defenseless woman. (Mr. Lazio sank like a rock.) She has suggested she's not above a repeat act, dispatching Bill to warn that "the boys" were being awfully "tough" on his wife.
This made me want to go study the video myself, but I couldn't find it. Is it just me, or is that video hard to find on line? Does she really act "flinching" and "defenseless" after Lazio's idiotic invasion-of-the-space? In any case, her "repeat act" about "the boys" ganging up on her failed miserably, so what is Strassel's point?
Some Democrats seem to be relying on Republicans to raise the character question. But liberal voters aren't listening to Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney, and if they were, they'd view GOP persecution as added reason to vote for her. Mrs. Clinton thinks so, having just unveiled an ad featuring Romney and McCain attacks.

The Democratic debate has grown more personal in past days, with the barbs hitting ever closer to home. Whether this carries into a tougher discussion on Mrs. Clinton's character, who knows? It may just be inevitable.
Come on, Democrats, please, attack Hillary!

Sorry, Hillary made me say that. 

"At the moment, Giuliani and fellow moderate Mitt Romney are attacking each other for being insufficiently Tancredo-esque."

Writes David Brooks: 
[T]hey are participating in the greatest blown opportunity in recent political history. At its current nadir, the G.O.P. had been blessed with five heterodox presidential candidates who had the potential to modernize the party on a variety of fronts. They could be competing to do that, but instead they are competing to appeal to the narrowest slice of the old guard and flatter the most rigid orthodoxies of the Beltway interest groups. 

November 22, 2007

Leopard.

Ah! I'm so happy with Leopard, which I've just installed in my MacBook, and I can boil my reason for happiness down to one word: Buttons!

Since January 2004, when I started blogging, I have had to keep Mozilla/Firefox open on my computer along with my preferred browser, Apple's Safari, because, in Blogger, Safari wouldn't display a "compose window" with a set of button-icons for adding links, putting text in italics, blocking and indenting quotes, and that sort of thing. Getting buttons in Blogger was something that meant far more to me than any cool innovations like "Time Machine" or "Cover Flow."

All these years I have been keeping 2 browsers open when I used my computer. To use only Safari, I'd have had to type in HTML code whenever I wrote a post. You might think I'd have just used Firefox alone, since it had such an important advantage, but there has always been something different about the way web pages look in Safari that made the other browser insufferable. I can't pinpoint what it was — it was subtle —but I couldn't force myself to switch.

And the Safari that came with Leopard is even cleaner and crisper looking — a big aesthetic improvement over the old Safari I loved.

I also get pleasure from removing a program that isn't Apple. I enjoy the ideological purity, I have to admit. I deeply believe that everything will work out better if I stay within the tender confines of what Apple has decided is good for me (though I do make exceptions, for example, to get those buttons).

Now that I'm purging the invader Foxfire from my MacBook, I'm also going to oust my oldest invader species, Microsoft Word. I'm going to switch to Apple's word processor Pages. This will end a relationship that began in 1985, when I got my first computer, a Mac 512. (I never had the first Mac, the 128, and I distinctly remember the exact tinge of my jealousy when a colleague acquired a Mac Plus. I replaced the 512 with a Mac Classic, which I still have, and which I enjoy firing up now and then, just to reminisce about what life was like with that tiny black and white screen. It's still the best place to play Tetris.)

With that first Mac, I had the Apple program MacWrite, which seemed wonderful compared to a typewriter, but it lacked one thing that I absolutely needed as a legal scholar: footnotes. Microsoft Word for Mac came out in 1985, so I was there for version 1. That was back before people started hating Microsoft. I loved it, because it did those footnotes for me. There was no option to stay with an Apple product back then, and I got so accustomed to Word that I never wanted to look at anything else. Actually, I never much liked the bulky improvements that were added, but it was like being married to it. Word got old and ugly, but I had committed.

But now that I'm getting Firefox out of here, I'm kicking out Microsoft too. For months, maybe years, Word has been suddenly shutting down without warning, which is a really irritating flaw when you write a lot and often have deadlines, as I do.

So, I'm reveling in purification this morning.

That said, I did just order a Kindle, which — just look at it — is so not Apple.

UPDATE: Safari crashes constantly!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Yes, it's Thanksgiving. I hope you're geared up properly to observe the occasion according to your family traditions or your quirky innovations. Here at the Althouse house, we're doing things our way. I think you know what that means.

squirrel

Hint.

The Enemy

November 21, 2007

A vlog about Thanksgiving squirrel, Mancow, guns, law school, commenters, and Madison versus New York.

"The unknown can be very anxiety provoking, You don't know what will be served. You don't know who you will sit next to."

That's a quote from the front-page article in the Wisconsin State Journal: "Thanksgiving a difficult time for people with eating disorders."

Okay, react away.

You might say anything from: That woman should shut up and volunteer in a soup kitchen to That's the way I feel about Thanksgiving and I don't even have an eating disorder.

Vlog?

In some quarters, they're clamoring for a vlog. I think I might do that, in maybe about an hour. But you've got to throw some questions at me. Vloggable questions!

I meant to post this before I got on the plane in NYC.

It's a NY fall picture. I'm not sure if this is beautiful or upsetting:

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Greetings from Madison, Wisconsin.

I hope you've all made to your holiday destinations or, if not, that you'll be getting there soon. It's a little chilly here... and starting to snow. Fine with me. I love getting back home.

"[A prison doctor] said he saw in me what he called 'the consciousness of innocence.'"

"It’s very dangerous. He said if you bring it into prison with you, you will have the most horrifying experience that a human being can possibly have. You won’t survive. You have to acclimate and accept your situation and not resist. You can’t keep holding on to your innocence. You have to let go of it and start acclimating."

Says Richard Paey, who didn't take the doctor's advice and did badly in prison. He is a paraplegic with multiple sclerosis who was convicted of drug trafficking, based on his possession of a large amount of painkillers, which he contended were solely for the treatment of his own pain. In prison, the state treated him with even larger doses of painkiller than he'd been giving himself.

Governor Charlie Crist pardoned him in October, and here he gives a long, interesting interview to Radley Balko of Reason. (And here's the Metafilter discussion of the piece.)
reason: Many people have compared your case to that of Rush Limbaugh. Some have said Limbaugh was let off because of his political affiliation. But reason’s Jacob Sullum has suggested Limbaugh was let off because he played the drug warrior’s game—he admitted he was an “addict,” and took his punishment. But you refused to say you were an addict, or concede that you’d done anything wrong. You insisted you needed painkillers to live a normal life. Sullum believes that’s why Limbaugh got a slap on the wrist, while you got 25 years.

Paey: I think Sullum’s take is pretty accurate. Mr. Limbaugh chose to label himself an addict. What I didn’t understand when I went to trial is that there is a tremendous fear of addiction in this country. The prosecutor in my case didn’t see me as a patient...

This is a serious problem we have in this country—this fear of addiction, and how we perceive the use of prescription drugs. There are lots of myths and misconceptions out there.

Whoever was counseling Rush Limbaugh gave him good advice. Admitting he was an addict played to his favor. I was convicted because the prosecutor hammered away at the jury that I was an addict and that my doctor was a pusher. I was sort of blindsided when the prosecutor started to make that argument—that I was nothing more than an addict. I can’t think of a worse slur to attach to a person.

CORRECTION: The governor who pardoned Paey was Charlie Crist, not Jeb Bush.

"Probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact I spent four years overseas when I was a child in Southeast Asia."

So said Barack Obama. Terrible choice of words, "foreign relations." And Hillary Clinton takes full advantage:
"Voters will have to judge if living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face,"’ Clinton said. "I think we need a president with more experience than that, someone the rest of the world knows, looks up to and has confidence in."
(Voters will also have to judge whether being First Lady is the kind of experience we need.)

ADDED: I see now that I'm not the only one to read Hillary's mockery and think yeah, right, First Lady.

AND: It's the point of Maureen Dowd's column too: "Is living in the White House between the ages of 45 and 53 foreign policy experience?"

Come on, Barack: Attack! Of course, she'll push you back with that stern reminder that you promised to be Mr. Hopeful Sunny Dreams, but you've got to get over that.

And, by the way, I think the quote — "Probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact I spent four years overseas when I was a child in Southeast Asia" — was meant as a kind of witticism, a play on the words "foreign relations." He developed relationships with people in a foreign country. If there were a novel titled "Foreign Relations" — you'd instantly get it.

The 6 imams case survives a motion to dismiss.

In a decision by U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery:
According to a police report, the men were arrested because three had one-way tickets and no checked baggage; most had requested seat belt extensions; a passenger reported that they had prayed "very loudly" before the flight and criticized U.S. involvement with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and they were seated widely throughout the aircraft.

Montgomery said it is "dubious" that a reasonable person would conclude from those facts that the imams were about to interfere with the crew or aircraft. She said the plaintiffs had stated a plausible claim that MAC officers violated their constitutional rights...

Montgomery, considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, said the facts they alleged "support the existence of an unconstitutional custom of arresting individuals without probable cause based on their race."
Power Line reacts:
However disappointing Judge Montgomery's order, I think it is good that we will learn the facts behind plaintiffs' lawsuit. The highly capable lawyer representing the Metropolitan Airports Commission is my friend and former law partner Tim Schupp; he will leave no stone unturned on behalf of the MAC. I think it is safe to say that the case of the flying imams one in which the truth should be known, and in which the truth will set us free.
Yes, let's get to the factfinding. No need to throw this out on a motion to dismiss when the plaintiff's version of the facts must be taken as true.

What effect will the Supreme Court's gun case have on the '08 election?

Jack Balkin asks a great question. To answer his question, he predicts what the Court will say in its decision in District of Columbia v. Heller:
(1) that the 2nd amendment protects an individual right, (2) that this right applies against laws in federal territories like the District of Columbia, (3) that a relatively deferential standard of reasonableness applies, and (4) that, even under this relatively deferential statute at least one part of the D.C. gun control law is unconstitutional. That is to say, I predict a decision that tries to split the difference and is aimed roughly at the middle of public opinion, even if not the exact center.
That sounds right to me.

Will people get stirred up if the outcome is that hedged and bland? Balkin thinks the newspaper headlines will scare people — and they'll scare people into the embrace of the Democrats:
[I]f the Court strikes down any part of the D.C. handgun ban, the headlines in the newspapers will announce that the Court has protected gun owners rights and that gun control laws around the country are now constitutionally vulnerable....
So, just as a decision favoring abortion rights fires up pro-life politics, a decision recognizing gun rights will stir up the people who support gun control.
Obviously if I am wrong in my predictions, and the Court adopts the collective rights theory, conservatives will benefit. But I think there is very little chance that the Court would take this case if it a majority did not want to embrace the individual rights position. And even if members of a conservative majority understood that the appearance of a conservative result would help liberals and Democrats, I do not think it would change their decision in the case.
Is Balkin trying to mess with Justice Kennedy's head?

Anyway, Balkin's prediction is that the Court will slice it down the middle, but people, under the sway of inflammatory newspaper headlines, will misunderstand the case and vote for Hillary Clinton.

Very interesting. I think he's missing something, though.

The decision won't come for many months. (Oral argument should be in March.) During this time, it won't be a court opinion affecting voters minds, it will be a debate about gun rights and, more broadly, how to interpret the Constitution. Candidates will be asked all sorts of questions as this issue comes to the forefront.

The issue will get intertwined — I predict — with the abortion question. How should we interpret the text of the 2d Amendment, and how does that fit with the way you interpret the Constitution to protect the right of privacy? What kind of Justice will you put on the Supreme Court? If you support Roe v. Wade, you can't suddenly switch to strict constructionism to beat that pesky 2d Amendment into submission.

Things can get complicated, and it will be a difficult dance — more difficult for some that others. I'm not ready to assume Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic candidate.

Barack Obama ought to see an opportunity here. He was a constitutional law professor. He may have the skill to speak elegantly about constitutional rights when asked questions that leave Hillary Clinton spluttering for answers that don't sound hypocritical. John Edwards has legal skill too, and he may find a way to speak clearly and persuasively to people about constitutional law.

Meanwhile, the Republicans can make progress promoting a coherent approach to constitutional interpretation and sound judicial appointments, but they too are vulnerable to stumbing over the complexities. Who will do the worst? There are lots of contenders! But it's quite likely Giuliani will do the best, given his extremely strong legal background.

ADDED: Glenn Reynolds assesses the effect on the election. Unlike Balkin, he concentrates on the pre-decision debate about the issue:
[T]he court has ensured that the gun-rights issue will move to the forefront this election season, at both the presidential and congressional levels. This is probably bad for Democrats, given that most Americans believe they have some sort of right to arms under the Constitution.

It's also probably bad for Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, who have generally been less supportive of gun rights than the other GOP contenders. But maybe Hillary Clinton will prove flexible: Bill Clinton said that the gun issue cost the Democrats control of Congress in 1994, and Hillary no doubt remembers that.

November 20, 2007

Gloomy Brooklyn.

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Monday afternoon Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

Let's talk about guns.

The Supreme Court has granted cert. in the Second Amendment case from the D.C. Circuit. This should prove very exciting to those on both sides of the gun control issue and to people like me who are fascinated by constitutional interpretation.

ADDED: From WaPo's Robert Barnes:
For years, legal scholars, historians and grammarians have debated the meaning of the amendment because of its enigmatic wording and odd punctuation:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Gun rights proponents say the words guarantee the right of an individual to possess firearms. Gun-control supporters say it conveys only a civic or "collective" right to own guns as part of service in an organized military organization....

The court rewrote the question to say it would decide whether the relevant provisions of the city's law "violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes."

Hey, I'm not addicted to the internet!

I scored only 46 on this Internet Addiction Test.
You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage.
Ha ha ha. I can quit whenever I want!

I have my off-line relationships. Why only yesterday, I had a conversation with someone. It was about whether I would accept a life that consisted of nothing more than being on line — no physical body or access to the real world at all. We both agreed that it would be better than death, though my interlocutor was only willing to commit to 100 years of that existence. It might be hellish to have to pay endless attention to a world that you can't get to.

Test found via Amba, who scored 44.

Fallen leaves.

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Ted Kennedy is unhappy with Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Ted Kennedy complains about Supreme Court confirmation hearings in an American Prospect opinion piece that's as long as one of those speeches he gives when he's eating up most of the time that allotted to him for questioning a nominee at a confirmation hearing.

He begins by going on about the Ledbetter case, which involved the interpretation of the limitations period for making a discrimination claim:
[I]n a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court held that Ms. Ledbetter was entitled to nothing at all. The majority ruled that she should have filed her case within a few months after the employer decided to pay her less than her male coworkers. Never mind that she had no way of knowing what other workers made, or that the discrimination continued with each paycheck.
Yes, because you and your fellow members of Congress wrote a bad statute. Fix it.

But, no, Supreme Court justices are supposed to correct your mistakes, and if they don't, you'll huff and puff about how cruel and heartless they are. They're "dangerous."

Kennedy doesn't like their constitutional decisions either, but his argument is a mess because of the way he spotlights a statutory interpretation case.

Anyway, he thinks that nominees should have to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee how they would have voted in cases that the Supreme Court has already decided. Since the briefs and transcripts of the arguments are publicly available, Senators should be able to throw a case name at the nominee and get a decision on the spot.

How much respect for the judicial process does that show? Virtually none. In fact, it betrays Kennedy's belief that the justices are making purely political decisions. In which case, your real problem is that you don't like the person who has the appointment power, and the problem boils down to presidential elections. Or mobilizing enough opposition in the Senate — which you just can't do — and shouldn't be able to do — as long as the President picks highly qualified individuals like John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Is money illegal?

Do U.S. bills violate the Rehabilitation Act?
The case erupted last year when a judge said the government discriminated against the blind by keeping bills the same color, shape and texture....

Of the three judges on the [D.C. Circuit] panel, Judith W. Rogers seemed the most swayed by the American Council of the Blind's argument. If the entire currency system is built upon the idea that people can see the money, doesn't that deprive blind people access to it, she asked.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan F. Cohn said blind people have "meaningful access" to money because there's little evidence they are regularly defrauded by cashiers and clerks.

"Because they rely on the kindness of strangers?" Rogers asked, prompting snickers and laughs from the several blind people in the audience.
One judge noted that Congress could directly address the design of money: "Congress has had many opportunities to do exactly what you're asking us to do and they said 'No.' What's keeping us from seeing this as simply an end run on the political process?"

Well, why doesn't Congress write an explicit exception into its general law protecting the disabled from discrimination? They could do that right now if they wanted. (But they'd have to have the guts to slap the blind in the face.)

Tell me: Why should the courts spare the government from the harsh effects of laws that are written at a high level of generality? Private citizens and business get stuck with the application of general laws, which they don't write.

November 19, 2007

Althouse on Mancow.

Do you listen to the Mancow radio show? I'm going to be on it tomorrow, around 7 am ET, talking about — of all things — plastic surgery. Click on the tag "plastic surgery" to see what I've said on the subject (and why they want to hear from me).

Advice?

ADDED at 7:21 AM, Tuesday: Waiting on hold now.

DONE: Well, I was on for a little over a minute, much of which had Mancow naming celebrities I hadn't looked at recently. Kenny Rogers? What does he look like now? I have no idea. Michael Douglas? I've been avoiding looking at him for years. Nancy Pelosi? Her, I've looked at. It's disturbing to listen to political statements from someone who looks alarmed for no reason. That's about it. Worth doing? Sure, why not? I got to (had to) spend about 20 minutes on hold, listening to the show. During that time, there was a pretty interesting audio clip of a 911 call from a man watching a robbery in a neighbor's house, threatening to use his shotgun on the culprits, and then actually shooting them. Mancow seemed to think the shooting was justified.

MORE: Here are before and after pictures of Kenny Rogers. Not so bad, really. Especially good if he doesn't want to be recognized.

AND: Here's a news report on that 911 call.

"When she fell down, I felt the bones going into my legs, like a knife."

"When she fell down, I felt like I took hold of something from the grave."

Untitled evocative image of the day.

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What does it mean? Psychoanalyze me.

(Enlarge.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Mr. Forward says: "It's only a cat hose without u." So, cat house, i.e., whorehouse. This is reinforced by the way "hose" is a pun.

HuckChuck.



Critique the new Mike Huckabee ad.

"Is America ready for a President with a lisp?"



I got to this via James Taranto, who calls this a "homophobic line of attack":
It is unimaginable that a mainstream network would give this sort of treatment to, say, Barney Frank or John Edwards. We're not going to feign outrage again; the truth is that we find this all sort of amusing. But it is a reminder of just what a sham left-wing political correctness is. People who claim to oppose "homophobia" or other forms of prejudice often turn out merely to want a monopoly on it.
I guess he sort of has a point. But it seems to me Mo Rocca is mostly making fun of himself. Also he says nothing about homosexuality, and other political figure with a lisp he refers to is Winston Churchill — who, like Giuliani, is quite macho.

"Ladies! Please!"

Oh, no! Mr. Whipple died!



Dick Wilson, who was 91, made over 500 commercials as Mr. Whipple, the man who tried to stop women from squeezing the Charmin. What was squeezing Charmin all about? Whipple was an agent of sexual repression, wasn't he? But he was so delightful, and he never succeeded in stopping the ladies from.... squeezing the Charmin.

ADDED: James Lileks thinks very deeply about Mr. Whipple:
Mr. Whipple [was] the fellow who tried to impose rules he himself could not follow, and thereby revealed not only the essential hypocrisy of the puritan impulse, but the uselessness of imposing any sort of “standards” on human behavior....

Amazon's Kindle.

This is shockingly cool.
Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.

Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing.

Wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from your Kindle...

Top U.S. newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post; top magazines including TIME, Atlantic Monthly, and Forbes—all auto-delivered wirelessly....

More than 250 top blogs from the worlds of business, technology, sports, entertainment, and politics, including BoingBoing, Slashdot, TechCrunch, ESPN's Bill Simmons, The Onion, Michelle Malkin, and The Huffington Post....

Includes free wireless access to... Wikipedia.org.

Email your Word documents and pictures...
Amazon is providing free high-speed access to a cell phone network. That is, you can get newpapers, blogs, and Wikipedia anywhere, free. You can download books (from Amazon, at a price). You can get your own documents into it. And the screen is (supposedly) better on the eyes (and easier to see outdoors) than a computer screen.

Note: Please, if you're thinking of getting a Kindle and you love the Althouse blog, use the link on this post to buy it.

ADDED: Complaining here. I agree that it looks ugly.

AND: You have to subscribe to the blogs — most are 99¢ — and most of what's offered are sports blogs.

IN THE COMMENTS: George sez: "You'll see newer lighter cooler versions of this thing given away with magazine and newspaper subscriptions, the same way razor blade companies essentially give away the handles. Paper is over."

Gloomy November.

The photographs from yesterday's walk in the park are so somber. It's almost frightening.

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But hold on. There are days like this. It's not every day. And there is beauty in the darkness...

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... is there not?

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X-raying the obese is "like watching TV without cable or an antenna."

Obesity makes medical procedures difficult.
Oftentimes, patients are too obese to even attempt an image--since they either exceed the weight limit on the table or they're too wide to fit into the machine. Once, doctors could get around this problem by taking the admittedly embarrassing step of sending extremely obese patients to veterinary facilities, where table limits on imaging machines went as high as 1,100 pounds....
Worse, the people who are treating you probably don't like you:
A 2003 survey of 620 primary care physicians, for instance, found that at least 50 percent of them believed obese patients were awkward, ugly, and noncompliant. A 1989 sample of over 100 nurses, meanwhile, found that one in four of them were "repulsed" by caring for obese patients....

One explanation is simple class bias. "When you think about the socio-demographic and economic backgrounds of many physicians, they often do not belong to groups that have the highest BMIs, " says Christina Wee, an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess who researches obesity and health disparity issues. "So, in general, we physicians often have a different perspective-- the people whom we know are often not obese, or at least not as obese as the patients we see in clinical practice."

Another explanation is that the medical profession often leans more toward the profane than the sacred, as doctors and nurses seek to leaven a stressful work environment with black humor--which frequently comes at the expense of those they're caring for. That some of that black humor would be internalized and converted into actual negative attitudes is, perhaps, inevitable.
Are they laughing about you behind your back? Or do they disrespect you to your face or your...
As Lynn McAfee, a 400-plus-pound Philadelphia-area woman who serves as the director of medical advocacy for the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, elaborates: "You're laying there with your feet in stirrups, holding your own fat thighs apart and being lectured by somebody to lose weight. Or you're told, as I was by my gynecologist, 'So you're not sexually active.' And I said, 'Yeah, I am.' And she said later on, 'If you were sexually active,' and I interrupted her and said, 'I am sexually active!' And then it happened a third time. ... Gynecologists are generally not our friends."
Disturbing, but there's money to be made:
[T]he market for plus-sized medical equipment is booming--to the tune, according to some estimates, of as much as $3 billion per year. Companies with names like Big Boyz and Amplestuff now sell everything from extra-extra-large patient gowns and blood-pressure cuffs to 1,000-pound-weight-bearing hospital beds with built-in scales and double- wide wheelchairs. Even medical settings as prosaic as doctors' waiting rooms and hospital bathrooms are getting the super-size treatment: A 2002 article in the journal American Family Physician counseled doctors to equip their reception areas with "sturdy, armless chairs and high, firm sofas"; and many hospitals have begun replacing wall-mounted commodes with ones that sit on the floor.

"The American people can look to me. They’re not going to find perfection..."

"... but they’re going to find somebody who has dealt with crisis almost on a regular basis and has had results."

Critique the new Giuliani ad:



I like the slipped-in "They’re not going to find perfection."

On a cold November day in Central Park... oh, no!

It was like this, chilly and dreary, but beautiful to a photographer:

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But wait. Let's take a closer look at those pedestrians:

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Why? Just: Why?

Comparative bullet-lead analysis was discredited 2 years ago...

... and there are thousands of prisoners who were convicted in trials where this evidence was used and who are only finding out about it now.

"What else are we supposed to do?"

The NYT portrays congressional Democratics in a not-very-pretty light:
Democrats in Congress failed once again Friday to shift President Bush’s war strategy in Iraq, but insisted that they would not let up. Their explanation for their latest foiled effort seemed to boil down to a simple question: “What else are we supposed to do?”

Frustrated by the lack of political progress in Iraq, under pressure by antiwar groups and mindful of polls showing that most Americans want the war to end, the Democrats last week put forward a $50 billion war spending bill with strings attached knowing it would fail....

All signs indicate that Democrats will continue proposing such measures as long as Mr. Bush remains in office and troops remain in Iraq. “We are going to keep plugging away,” said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee....
Meanwhile, in Baghdad: "The butchery is thriving." But don't get your hopes up, Democrats:
[B]utcher Halim Sayed Ahmed, an Egyptian with a round face and hint of a moustache, is counting his lucky stars he didn't follow the rest of his family to Cairo when the conflict began ripping Baghdad apart two years ago.

"The butchery is thriving. Sales are up 80 percent compared to the beginning of the year" when violence was at its peak, he said between mounds of freshly cut chicken pieces, mincemeat and mutton.

"I have been here 30 years and I love Baghdad," he said. "Now that the security situation is improving, my family can return."

"Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband... has a romance with another woman, and the former justice is thrilled..."

O'Connor's husband has Alzheimer's disease, and she "even visits with the new couple while they hold hands on the porch swing — because it is a relief to see her husband of 55 years so content."

November 18, 2007

Central Park... November...

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The Jump Up Internet Rescue School.

It's a government-run treatment camp in South Korea, aimed at young guys who are in danger of plunging into a life lived on line.

Don't you think it's interesting that the article that is #1 on the NYT most-emailed list is about internet addiction? And, for that matter, that I'm blogging about it?

Oddities of the Klee Brasserie.

At the Klee Brasserie, they served the bread like Scrabble tiles:

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And the cup of black coffee came on a tray with these items:

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Presumably, the shot of water is for cooling the drink.

Chelsea architecture.

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Just 2 buildings in Chelsea that I liked. The first one is Chelsea House. The other — I don't know.

"A bunch of conventional wisdom patched together."

The New Yorker has a big article on Barack Obama, but I can't find anything bloggable about it. Can you help me out, John? John (my son) answers:
OK, I skimmed through the whole thing, and it seems like just a bunch of conventional wisdom patched together. (We learn that Iowa is very important, that Obama's campaign theme is to be against conventional politics but that some accuse him of being political himself, etc.) I can't see any surprising insights.

It doesn't even have the theme or structure of a TNR article. (I know it's by a TNR editor, but I've often seen the same author [Ryan Lizza] write better articles for TNR than other publications.) For instance, the first paragraph is about how as a con law prof he would always question students about the reasoning underlying their assumptions. I kept waiting for the author to make that story pay off by connecting it to something about the campaign, or even just making a broader point about Obama as a person. He didn't.

I like Obama's point about how Hillary flip-flopped on ethanol, and the last two paragraphs are mildly interesting. Other than that, nothing stands out.
Thanks!

Here's the ethanol part:
On November 5th, Obama’s campaign sent reporters a research memo that criticized Hillary Clinton for changing her position on ethanol, Iowa’s most parochial issue. The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s major daily, ignored it, but when the campaign offered Obama himself for an interview a story was assured; it appeared on November 7th, with the headline “OBAMA: CLINTON FLIP-FLOPS ON ENERGY.”

I asked Obama whether ethanol was a subject that merited such personal attention. “It has less to do with the particular issue and more to do with her change in position,” he replied. “Now, Hillary has been in the Senate for seven years now. She has consistently voted against ethanol, because the perception in New York state is that this is making gasoline more expensive and that it’s a boondoggle. Those of us in farm states, obviously, have had a different perspective on it. If she came here, and she made a cogent case as to why she doesn’t think ethanol makes sense and why she voted against it, that’d be one thing. After seven years, she comes here and suddenly she’s an ethanol proponent! Well, how did that happen?” He managed to sound genuinely astonished by such brazenness.
(Ethanol is a boondoggle, though, so HC is right about that. And she's got to compete in Iowa, like everyone else. What are you supposed to do? Go to Iowa and tell them the truth?)

Here are those last 2 paragraphs:
What was notable about Obama’s speech at the dinner—one of his finest and most passionate — was not just the roaring choreography from his red-clad supporters but the way that, at 11:30 P.M., he galvanized the entire auditorium, with a succinct description of the difference between his campaign and Clinton’s: “If we are really serious about winning this election, Democrats, we can’t live in fear of losing it.” Even many of Clinton’s troops could be seen beating yellow thunder sticks together in appreciation. Obama seemed to be making an argument about the connection between boldness and electability. With Hillary Clinton, he suggested, there is an inverse relationship between the two: she is so polarizing that she is forced to be a milquetoast candidate in order to become an electable one.

Obama is not the most liberal candidate in the race, so he’s not defining his boldness strictly in ideological terms but, rather, as a sort of anti-politics that prizes truthtelling above calculation.
Oh? Does he think he's telling the truth about ethanol? Or is it just that because he started in a farm state, he didn't have to switch positions?
When I asked him about this new tack, he seemed supremely confident. “I’ve been an observer of politics for two and a half decades, and what I’ve seen is that Democrats have not been able to move their agenda through Washington,” he said. “They have not been able to get the American people to embrace their domestic agenda, and they have been constantly on the defensive when it comes to their foreign-policy agenda. And it seems to me that, you know, if you’re not getting the outcomes you want, you might want to try something different.”
How about an agenda that people want?

Guns on campus.

The University of Wisconsin is not a gun-free zone.

IN THE COMMENTS: Rhhardin remembers his own high school days, which looked like this:

"I did shift from being against the death penalty to thinking that if it has a significant deterrent effect it’s probably justified."

Says Cass Sunstein, quoted in this article by Adam Liptak. For years, death penalty opponents used the argument that all the studies showed that the death penalty did not deter murder. But now — contrary to what we all thought we knew — the studies show deterrence:
According to roughly a dozen recent studies, executions save lives. For each inmate put to death, the studies say, 3 to 18 murders are prevented....

The studies try to explain changes in the murder rate over time, asking whether the use of the death penalty made a difference. They look at the experiences of states or counties, gauging whether executions at a given time seemed to affect the murder rate that year, the year after or at some other later time. And they try to remove the influence of broader social trends like the crime rate generally, the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, economic conditions and demographic changes.
Much more at the link. Of course, the studies are subject to criticism. Obviously, there's no way to know to what extent a decision to commit murder includes a calculation about the death penalty. But if you oppose the death penalty, you can no longer rely on the old article of faith that there is no deterrence, and you have to concede that there may be some deterrence and take that into account.

Judith Regan: Crazy or the "reincarnation of Linda Tripp"?

Roger Parloff rips into Judith Regan's 70-page complaint:
When I first got out of law school and was clerking for a federal judge in Texas, I did see a few comparable pleadings, though those were usually filed “pro se” — i.e., by the plaintiff himself, without the assistance of a lawyer. One, I remember, was a civil rights suit naming as defendants the President of the United States, all nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, the plaintiff’s ex-wife, and a local Pizza Hut.

Like that complaint, Regan’s reads like one of those humor pieces in The New Yorker, where it not-so-gradually dawns on the reader that the narrator is out of his gourd. Even though you’re hearing only one side of the story, that’s enough to make up your mind against the griper.
Ouch.
[W]hat’s remarkable about the complaint is how far it ventures beyond merely disputing that she said anything anti-Semitic in that fateful phone call — a seemingly winnable, he-said-she-said squabble had her lawyers stopped her there.

Instead, they’ve allowed her to allege that News Corp. had actually been plotting her demise for at least five years before the Simpson debacle. “This smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.’s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani’s presidential ambitions,” they write in paragraph 1 of the complaint. “Defendants knew they would be protecting Giuliani if they could preemptively discredit her,” the complaint continues.

As I understand it, Regan’s saying that News Corp. has been undermining her credibility for years because it feared she knew about unspecified skeletons in Giuliani’s closet that she had learned during her 2001 affair with then-Mayor Giuliani’s then-Police Chief Bernard Kerik and, further, that the company anticipated Regan might go public with if Giuliani ever ran for president.
Parloff finds it all manifestly crazy.

But the Regan lawsuit excites the mind of Frank Rich:
Few know more about Rudy than his perennial boon companion, Mr. Kerik. Perhaps during his romance with Ms. Regan he ... discussed everything Mr. Kerik witnessed at Mr. Giuliani’s side before, during and after 9/11. Perhaps he even explained to her why the mayor insisted, disastrously, that his city’s $61 million emergency command center be located in the World Trade Center despite the terrorist attack on the towers in 1993.

Perhaps, too, they talked about the business ventures the mayor established after leaving office....

Who at the News Corporation supposedly asked Ms. Regan to lie to protect Rudy’s secrets? Her complaint does not say....

The Giuliani story, by contrast, is relatively virgin territory. And with the filing of a lawsuit by a vengeful eyewitness who was fired from her job, it may just have gained its own reincarnation of Linda Tripp.
Eh. If there's something there, roll it out. Let us see it. It's a 70-page complaint. Why aren't we seeing it?

Into the movie theater, "Into the Wild."

I saw the movie "Into the Wild" yesterday. This was only the second movie I've seen since arriving in New York in mid-August. (The other was "Across the Universe" — blogged here.)

Why don't I see more movies? 1. I don't like the physical constraint of committing to sitting in a chair for 2 hours. 2. I only go to movies I think I'll like and still don't much like the movies I see. 3. Few movies seem like the sort of thing I'll like. 4. I have no shortage of other things to do (which is the case for anyone who loves to read). 5. I don't find myself in social situations where going to the movies is what people do together (and I don't see why people want to spend their precious time together doing something that involves so little interaction with each other).

Why did "Into the Wild" overcome my resistance? 1. I wanted to take a cab to 27th Street and 11th Avenue to begin a walk that would take me through a bunch of art galleries...

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... and then all the way back to Brooklyn Heights, and "Into the Wild" was playing at a theater on 19th Street and Broadway, so what I usually experience as noisome restraint would rest me up for the walk through downtown Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge. 2. Having read the book "Into the Wild," I was interested in seeing a visualization of it. 3. Some of my very favorite movies are about men at the existential edge: "Grizzly Man," "Touching the Void," "The Pianist," "My Dinner With André." (I know André is just sitting at a restaurant table throughout the movie, but he describes a search for his soul through mountains, deep forest, the Sahara, and the inside of a grave.)

How did I like "Into the Wild"?

1. The actor — Emile Hirsch — who played Christopher McCandless, was cute — like the young Leonardo di Caprio — but he did not radiate emotion. Compare him to Adrian Brody in "The Pianist," whose character, like McCandless, is starving. Brody made me feel what was happening to him as he descended into the most desperate human condition. Hirsch couldn't do that, though he was supported by terrific actors (especially Hal Holbrook), profound landscapes, and that squalid little bus. He seemed like a really nice kid with a lot of idealism and enthusiasm who made a few unfortunate choices and so, sadly, never got the chance to grow up. Unlike the character in "The Pianist," McCandless made his own choices. He rejected society, but we can't see much anti-social edge in Hirsch's portrayal.

2. The photography didn't move me. The beach, the canyon, the desert, the mountains — these are all beautiful locations, but this isn't a travelogue. These things should be photographed to convey emotion, but they looked about the way they'd look if you went there and saw them for yourself. There are 2 key scenes where Hirsch climbs up a hill, acts enthused, and gets the old man played by Holbrooke to climb up there too. It reminded me of the scene in "Titanic" when Leo DiCaprio shows Kate Winslet how to live by getting her to stretch out her arms on the prow of the ship. It's a Hollywood cliché. (Too bad Hirsch didn't yell "I'm king of the hill!")

3. I nearly walked out about a third of the way in. Something about Hirsch and Catherine Keener romping on the beach and plunging into the ocean felt stupid and phony. We're told the character is afraid of water, and then Keener — the mother figure he finds to replace his real and too-distant mother — makes it possible for him to go swimming. I forced myself to stay, and I see the story arc this was part of. He leaves his inadequate parents. (They're excited about the idea of him going to Harvard Law School and haven't a clue why he doesn't want them to buy him a new car.) He goes on the road where he finds replacements for his mother and father (Keener and Holbrook). He interacts with water — gets caught in a flash flood, kayaks through rapids, plunges in the ocean, fords a stream — which are probably meant to symbolize birth/mother. And he encounters a rocky terrain and kills and butchers some animals — squirrel and moose — (squirrel and moose???) — which are probably meant to symbolize his struggle with death/father.

4. The movie raises but hardly explores the issue of celibacy. We're shown this attractive young man, who seems to have a feeling for other people, in the presence of sensuous females. Kayaking, he comes upon a bare-breasted woman, but she has a boyfriend and he has to run off. (He's running from park rangers). Later, a beautiful, sensitive girl throws herself at him, but she's 16, and he's upstanding about that. (He burns his money and Social Security card, he kayaks in violation of clearly stated rules, and he steals rides on freight trains, but he's rigorous about the age-of-consent laws.) So the movie shows us the path not taken — love from a woman could replace the inadequate parents — and the character is given pat excuses for not going there. Still, why did he forswear sex? In the end, dying alone, he writes in his notebook: "Real happiness must be shared." This is very affecting, and it is an important idea in the intellectual development of this man who reads a lot of books. But something is left unexplored. Why didn't McCandless want sex?

Did you walk all the way home?

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