May 22, 2010

If you're going to criticize the new social studies curriculum adopted by the Texas Board of Education, you'd better quote it.

Or at least link to the text. And if you choose to paraphrase and not even link, and I have to look up the text myself, and your paraphrase is not accurate, it is my job to embarrass you by pointing that out.

Let me embarrass the Washington Post. Below, the material from the WaPo article, written by Michael Birnbaum, is indented. After the indented part, I've located the relevant quote from the Board of Education text, found here. (I'm searching 3 PDF documents: Economics with Emphasis on the Free Enterprise System and Its Benefits Subchapter A. High School; Social Studies Subchapter B. Middle School; Social Studies Subchapter C. High School.)

The Washington Post writes:
The Texas state school board gave final approval Friday to controversial social studies standards....

The new standards say that the McCarthyism of the 1950s was later vindicated -- something most historians deny --...
The students are required to "describe how McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the arms race, and the space race increased Cold War tensions and how the later release of the Venona Papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government..." The word "vindicated" is inflammatory and unfair. What is the Washington Post saying historians deny? One can be informed of the reality of what the Venona Papers revealed about communist infiltration into the U.S. government and still understand and deplore the excesses of "McCarthyism."
...draw an equivalency between Jefferson Davis's and Abraham Lincoln's inaugural addresses...
Students are required to "analyze the ideas contained in Jefferson Davis' inaugural address and Abraham Lincoln's ideas about liberty, equality, union, and government as contained in his first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address." The word "equivalency" is uncalled for. The requirement is to analyze, not to be indoctrinated that the ideas are the same.
... say that international institutions such as the United Nations imperil American sovereignty...
What I'm seeing is "explain the significance of the League of Nations and the United Nations" and "analyze the human and physical factors that influence the power to control territory, create conflict/war, and impact international political relations such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), or the control of resources." Where is the language that can be paraphrased "imperil American sovereignty"?
.... and include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.
Students are required to "explain the roles played by significant individuals and heroes during the Civil War, including Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and congressional Medal of Honor recipients William Carney and Philip Bazaar." Only Davis and Lee were Confederate officials! There is also this: "describe the role of individuals such as governors George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Maddox and groups, including the Congressional bloc of southern Democrats, that sought to maintain the status quo [in the Civil Rights Era]." That's obviously not from the Civil War, but I can see why it's annoying to Democrats.
They also removed references to capitalism and replaced them with the term "free-enterprise system."
The document on economics does use the term "free enterprise system" throughout, but students are required to "understand that the terms free enterprise, free market, and capitalism are synonymous terms to describe the U.S. economic system," so what is the problem?

Virtually everything cited in the article to make the curriculum seem controversial is misstated! Appalling!

ADDED: Birnbaum had an article in the previous day's Washington Post that does contain quotes, and these have to do with changes that went through on Thursday (and which do not — but should! — appear in the documents that are available at the Board of Education website):
Students will now study "efforts by global organizations to undermine U.S. sovereignty," an addition late Thursday evening encouraged by board member Don McLeroy (R), who has put forward many of the most contentious changes....

Another one of the seven conservative board members, David Bradley (R), added a list of Confederate generals and officials to the list of topics that students must study. ...
This provides support for Birnbaum's statement that the standards "include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn." And it answers my question "Where is the language that can be paraphrased 'imperil American sovereignty'?" My criticisms about "vindicating" McCarthyism, "the equivalency between Jefferson Davis's and Abraham Lincoln's inaugural addresses," and the term "free-enterprise system" remain.

I have not been defending the Texas standards, only attacking the quality of the journalism that fails to quote or link to a text that is referred to. Birnbaum's Friday article contains some useful quotes (though still not a link to the whole text). The Saturday article was unanchored to text and forced me to look for what I could find on line. I'm also criticizing inaccurate paraphrasing, like the use of the words "vindicating" and "equivalency." Birnbaum's take on the standards might be true, but in an article that refers to a text, I do need to see the text. Paraphrasing, without the text, raises suspicions, and I don't apologize for having those suspicions.

ALSO: I'm critical of the Board of Education for not posting all the relevant text on its website. And — as should be obvious — I'm not endorsing the standards themselves. The complexity and detail alone tends to show that the Board did not have the best interests of children at the center of their project. And it didn't seem to care much about the capacity of teachers. The material on law, for example, would be difficult for a law professor to teach to law students.

At the Living Roof Café....


... you can come alive.

"You will be better off looking for the future."

I see that in that last poll, I wrote, as the third option: "you will be better off looking for the future and not dwelling on the past." Looking for the future. I meant to the future. Or at least at. Looking for the future? Where's my future?

It's like what Marlene Dietrich said to Orson Welles in "Touch of Evil":

Should Elin settle for $750 million from Tiger...

... if it includes "a lifetime 'confidentiality clause' that would prevent her from writing a book or doing any interviews about the split"?

Should Elin take the money and shut up?
Yes. That's so much money!
Yes. We'll all be better off if that nasty material never sees the light of day.
Yes. Elin, you will be better off looking for the future and not dwelling on the past.
No. Tiger must pay for what he did and shouldn't get anything back in exchange.
No. You need to explore and air this all out for your own good.
No. I want to read all about it! Come on! Dish it out! free polls


You're all sinners/You're all racists.

We're all sinners, the preacher tells us. We get what that means, don't we? Why then don't we understand the idea that we're all racists? Why does that bother people so? I've been listening to Critical Race Theory for the last 25 years, so saying that everyone is afflicted by racism seems more tedious and trite to me than truly offensive. Is it usefulis it helpful — to approach problems this way, that's what I would ask. But I've been living in a hothouse — among the lawprofs. Out there in the larger social and political world, people feel quite offended and genuinely threatened at the suggestion that their ideas and beliefs have any relationship to racism.

James Taranto got Salon's Joan Walsh to "regret" her application of the term "racist" to the Tea Party.
"Racist" is a personal insult, and it's almost as impossible to prove it as to disprove it. It's not a terribly illuminating term, either: If you call me a racist, you haven't really described anything I've done that's objectionable. You've just somehow designated me, and my so-far unchallenged arguments, outside the pale, so to speak.
Taranto resorts to the dictionary — the Oxford English Dictionary (hello! we're Americans!) — to tell us what "racism" means. It's a restrictive definition that preserves the strong pejorative. This is like restricting "sin" to the truly terrible things that other people do, which allows you to maintain a pious sense that of course you are one of the good people. The sinners are those other people. It is possible to think of racism as a much more pervasive phenomenon that we should all contemplate in an honest and self-critical way.

But using the term to assault your political opponents is different. You're not being self-critical. You're still saying there's something terrible about those other people. There could be a serious and valuable inquiry into widespread and largely unconscious racism in American society, but the cheap use of the term "racist" for political gain pushes that inquiry out of reach. What is useful? What is helpful? Maybe it is to wield the restrictive OED definition and lambaste anybody who doesn't stick to it.

CNN is clinging to women readers.

It's so pathetic and obvious. Here's a screen grab of the center of the home page at CNN:

What makes people happy? Engagement... unhappy? Baby sloths enjoy the sweet life... aw... A big fish is in trouble! Miss USA! The lighter side of Elena Kagan! The style of the First Lady! A sitcom! Dancing With the Stars!

Reading CNN to find out the latest about happiness... that's not going to make this woman happy.

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian switches the captions around:

May 21, 2010

"I don’t see Judge Weinstein as a judge."

"I see him as my father. He helps people. He doesn’t destroy lives the way the prosecutor has. He’s the one who is going to set me free from the court."

Mystery photo.


Taken by me, today. What is it?

At the Woodpecker Art Café...


... you can hole up as long as you want.

"I am shocked and disappointed at the news of Bradford resorting to suicide..."

"... as I looked forward to facing him in the court room this Fall, and now feel as though I was robbed of that opportunity."

"Those offended by Kehowski's ideas should engage him in debate or hit the 'delete' button' when they receive his e-mails."

"They may not invoke the power of the government to shut him up."

"We have ridiculed Hitler in a way that invites young people to create their own style and not to be influenced by their peers."

An ad agency tries to convey the fuzzy thinking about nonconformity behind this 18-foot-high poster:

"After a while, you start to go on automatic pilot. Too many times I was sitting there bored."

"The audience deserves more than that ... and I can't hide when I'm bored."

(Great pic at the link.)

A poll about the way we feel about things.

I was just thinking about the way we feel about the things that belong to us. Picture all the personal and real property that you own and don't own — furniture, clothing, cars, houses, toys, gadgets, etc. etc. Now, let me set out 3 categories of how we might feel:

A. When I own something, it takes on special value and feels more precious to me than it did before I owned it or in comparison to similar things that I don't own.

B. When I own something, I'm more aware of its imperfections and problems, and I tend to feel that it's worse than it seemed before I owned it or in comparison to similar things that I don't own.

C. I have a pretty objective feeling about things, and they don't seem either better or worse when they  belong to me.

And here are 3 categories of how you might feel about acquiring more things.

D. I feel a fairly strong urge to acquire more things, not just what I'm sure I need, but additional things that will give me pleasure and satisfaction.

E. I am trying to resist acquiring more things.

F. I get what I need and maybe some extra things, but I don't put much mental energy into wanting to buy things or resisting.

Now, here's the poll, and please be honest:

Which of these combinations is closest to the way you feel?
A and D
A and E
A and F
B and D
B and E
B and F
C and D
C and E
C and F free polls

Nick Gillespie gets soooo intellectual about the basis for judging Reason Magazine's "Everybody Draw Mohammed" contest...

... that I was forced to look up his educational background. Turns out he has a PhD in English literature. Ah, it makes too much sense to me.

Now, they got 190 entries in the contest. (I disapprove of the "Draw Mohammed" day, you should know.) I would love to see what the whole pile of drawings looked like. How many were stick figures or crude scratchings on the level of the "Draw Me" pirate? How many were loaded with embarrassingly violent or racial fantasy? I wish someone had had the foresight to film a documentary of these Reason guys cooking up their contest and then opening the various envelopes? I wonder if there was a point — one particular drawing? — when they felt bad about what they were doing.  And then something pushed them in the direction of getting super-elitist intellectual about picking the winners.
In coming to a consensus, we discussed standard concerns such as originality of vision, playfulness, a sense of proportion (both in terms of craftmanship and message), and relevance to the goals of the contest.
See? Read between the lines! What were they looking at when they reached that consensus? How many pieces of paper went into the discard pile over "craftsmanship"? How much did they laugh as they did a first cut over craftsmanship, and what did they say as they tossed these things aside? I would love to have been a fly on the wall... or a vole in the corner. "Sense of proportion"... what were the drawings that made them frame that standard? "Originality"? What percent of the artists drew Muhammad as a dog or as a guy with a turban-bomb? "Playfulness"... throw all the gruesome, gory things over there. "Relevance to the goals of the contest"... ha ha... so many of you scribblers did not get it. You thought it was about telling Muslims their prophet is evil, and not that free expression is precious. You fools! Did you think Nick Gillespie went to grad school for this?! 

Okay, I'm picturing approximately 90% of the drawings eliminated over these standards.

So Gillespie reveals the true test of a proper "Draw Mohammed" drawing.
The single most important element...
It's one thing.
.... and the thing that ties these selections together–is that each image forces the viewer to do two things.
I mean... it's 2 things!
First, they consciously call into question the nature of representation, no small matter in fights over whether it is allowed under Islamic law to depict Mohammed (for the historical record, there is no question that the idea that is always wrong is only of recent vintage; there is a long history of sacred and superficial images of the Prophet). The homage to Rene Magritte below states "This is not a pipe. This is Muhammed"...
He's translating the French for us. (And respelling "Muhammad" as "Muhammed," splitting the difference between the contest-name spelling — "Mohammed"— and the artist's use of the presumably politically correct spelling — "Muhammad.")
... playing with the surrealist's famous statement about the necessary disjuncture between a picture and the thing it seeks to represent. 
An insight that somehow fascinated people who studied post-modernism circa 1990. (Gillespie received his English PhD in 1996. I'd love to know more about what he studied. Can we see his dissertation?)
Just as the drawing is not a pipe (it's a drawing of a pipe), it cannot be Mohammed even as it insists it is. Even more, it is plainly not even a drawing of Mohammed or of any human figure.

Similarly, the invocation of the popular Where's Waldo? series forces the viewer to ask Where's Mohammed?, and to begin a hunt for a figure in the midst of an overstuffed scene. One assumes the black-robed character in the upper right-hand quadrant of the image is our quarry, but then what does it mean to confer on a small dot any significance whatsoever?

Second, each of the images forces the viewer to actively participate not simply in the creation of meaning but of actually constructing the image itself. This is clearest in our grand prize winner, the image below, which pushes iman and infidel alike to do the work that would condemn them to death under the most extreme reading of injunctions against representing Mohammed.
I like the way the winner — with a connect-the-dots puzzle — avoided drawing Muhammad altogether. Man, if I entered a "draw Mohammed" contest and the winner didn't even draw Mohammed, I'd be kind of pissed... and reading Gillespie's revelation of the highly intellectual but previously secret standards would not calm me down. "Reason"?! Bah!

"He was going to get the tattoo whether he liked it or not."

"He would not be picked on anymore if he got it done."

"Still I am a Marxist..."

... says the Dalai Lama, conceding that capitalism has done China some good: "Millions of people's living standards improved." Marxism remains dear to him because it has "moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits." Only. Only improving the lives of millions.

(Also posted at Instapundit.)


The Dalai Lama also cited the election of Barack Obama as a sign that "human beings being more mature."

Should John Brennan be the new Director of National Intelligence?

Dennis Blair has resigned, and Obama says he has "more confidence" in Brennan. Michael Anton looks at some things Brennan has said:
First, in prepared remarks in Washington, Brennan referred to his love for “al-Quds,” which happens to be the Arab revanchist name for the city that the rest of us call “Jerusalem.” This terminology is routinely used by Islamist terror groups to rally the faithful....

[Second, a]t a conference in Washington, he said that the Obama administration is exploring ways to strengthen the hand of “moderate elements” within Hezbollah....

Earlier this year Brennan said that the 20% recidivism rate of the Gitmo detainees released up to that point was “not that bad.” See, he explained, the rate for American criminals sometimes approaches 50%....

"In his battle with the titans of Wall Street, President Barack Obama almost got upstaged by a rat."

"But he didn't even seem to notice. Assuming that's what it was, scurrying in front of his podium Thursday in a sun-drenched Rose Garden."

1. It wasn't a rat. It was a vole.

2. Our own animal nature is revealed by the way we are distracted by animals. We are critters too, and we have a sharp eye for prey, even when it's something we don't eat anymore.

3. I bet Obama was thinking about the time a fly tried to upstage him at the White House:

Can't do that with a vole, can you? Poor Obama! Things don't go his way as easily as they did a year ago when he "got the sucker" (the fly).

4. The "sucker" symbolizes his opponents. Last year, it was a slow-moving fly, handily squelched. This year, the vole skitters unscathed. By next summer, the White House is going to look like this:

UPDATE: Hours later, scientists determine that it was in fact a vole. Told ya. Thanks to Meade, a man who can tell one rodent from another.

May 20, 2010

"I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example."

Contemptible. Horrible. The horrendous example is you, Malawi. Shame!

Did Obama's speechwriters write Calderon's speech?

That's what I thought when I heard this:
In Arizona, there is some racial profiling criteria in order to enforce the law that it's against any sense of human rights; and, of course, is provoking very disappointing, uh, things -- or very disappointing opinion -- in Mexico and around the world, even here in America.  So to introduce this kind of elements, especially racial profiling aspect that are attempting against what we consider human rights, it's the principle of discrimination which is against the values of this great nation.
I thought that before I heard Rush Limbaugh say that's what he thought. Read the whole thing. Don't miss the Wolf Blitzer interview.

The Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, takes the fall.

"On the heels of a number of intelligence failures involving the Fort Hood shooter, failed Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmuttalab, and questions about failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad...."

"Republican success in 2010 can be boiled down to two words..."

"... Rush Limbaugh."

Has Obama failed to nominate a strongly liberal Supreme Court Justice because of the insufficient supply of liberal law professors?

Recounting the history of Harvard's struggle with Critical Legal Studies in the 1980s and the "postradical" period that followed, lawprof David Fontana writes:
The stories of the postradical generation are not only of intellectual interest but also affect the future of American government. Obama has been criticized by many for not nominating enough theoretically ambitious and bold liberals to the federal courts. Part of the reason for that dynamic, however, has less to do with politics than with the supply of such theoretically ambitious liberals—particularly law professors.

Many of the more-radical jurisprudential movements from the earlier generations have succeeded in opening eyes to the flaws in the legal system, but beyond that have largely disappeared. The Old Left efforts to push courts to be more aggressively liberal floundered after years of courts dominated by Republican appointees. The New Left efforts by the critical-legal-studies movement and others floundered, in part because, like with the Old Left, their ideas were met with sustained resistance from the elite institutions of the legal system.
Spare me! There are plenty of strongly liberal and lefty lawprofs and if you want theoretical ambition you can find it. The reason these folks don't get nominated to the Supreme Court is crushingly obviously because they'd be soundly rejected by the American people and borked in the Senate.
The country has moved to the right, so there are fewer law professors who are truly liberals. 
Yeah, there's a little balance now. I can imagine what "truly liberal" means to Fontana. I think they're nearly all liberal from the standard that prevails among American voters, but that's not truly liberal.
Many of those on the left today are simply trying to maintain older decisions... Others on the left, who once might have aggressively pursued liberal legal ideas, are now increasingly writing about law from a more theoretical or quantitative, and therefore less practical, perspective—making their writing less related to the issues judges decide and making them less obviously candidates for future judgeships.

And some on the left who write more directly about cases and courts, like Tushnet or Dean Larry Kramer of Stanford Law School, and Dean Robert C. Post of Yale Law School, are now increasingly members of the "popular constitutionalism" movement, who believe that courts should be stripped of all or most of their decisional powers—hardly the prejudicial profile that one wants.
"Prejudicial"? I know what he meant to say but... what a hilarious word!

Anyway, yes, many brilliant liberal/lefty lawprofs have applied their minds to generating arguments for why courts shouldn't enforce rights, but I think the reason they have gone in that direction is that they have perceived that it is the most effective way to push back against the conservative and liberal-but-not-truly-liberal jurists who get appointed to the Supreme Court. The "popular constitutionalism" movement is further evidence that the American people have a pretty conservative view of what judges should do and how the Constitution should be interpreted. And that's why the nominees aren't "theoretically ambitious and bold liberals."

"If you really want to help someone who suffers from Morgellons or any other psychogenic condition..."

"... you can't only rely on telling them they're wrong and depending on them to take all the steps. But you also don't have to dishonestly pretend their self-diagnosis is true."

"Surrender Dorothy."

The movie... and the clip from "After Hours."

"People know what long hair looks like. So if you have to do it, you have to do it right. You have to individually animate each one."

Letting a cartoon character wear her hair down is a big deal, requiring a special dispensation from the suits and a team of 20 animators.

3 Instapundit posts...

... repeated here for your commenting pleasure:

Posted at 10:29 am by Ann Althouse


Posted at 10:03 am by Ann Althouse

IS ORGANIC FOOD BETTER? Wild birds say “no.”

Posted at 9:25 am by Ann Althouse
Extra credit for comments that combine all 3 topics.

"What helped bring Whitman to earth, he said, was what vaulted her skyward: money."

"Except in this case it was Poizner's money — the $24 million he has put into his campaign."

What Rand Paul really said about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Rand Paul is coming under attack for things he said about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed race discrimination in privately owned restaurants and hotels. He's also being defended, of course, notably here, by Allahpundit:
I don’t like to go back-to-back on the same subject but a hot rumor hit Twitter as the last post was being published that Paul told NPR he would have voted against the 1964 CRA. (Much like certain Democrats who are still serving in the Senate did.) As you’ll see, it’s not true. The reporter, smelling blood, badgers him about it, but Paul never quite gives him a straight answer. And he qualifies his response with enough virtue — he opposes institutional racism, would have marched with MLK, likes a lot of what was in the CRA — that there’s really no wound inflicted here. His reservations about the law have to do not with the ends but with the means of federal compulsion; he wants business owners to serve everyone but clearly prefers using boycotts and local laws to pressure them. It’s not a question of being pro- or anti-discrimination, in other words, it’s a question of how federalism and civil-rights enforcement mesh. The left’s going to give him plenty of grief for that — expect questions soon about whether he would have voted to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment — but the “closet Klansman” narrative that NPR’s going for here is D.O.A.
It's true that Rand made many expressions of his opposition to race discrimination in what was a hearty effort to blunt the effect of what he was saying, but it is not true that his "reservations" were limited to federalism concerns. (As to federalism, there was an argument, rejected long ago by the Supreme Court, that the Constitution did not empower Congress to regulate in this area.)

Rand was also expressing the view that owners of private businesses have a right to decide whom they will serve. Such a right would not run counter to the 14th Amendment, because the 14th Amendment only protects individuals from the actions of the state and privately owned restaurants and hotels are not the state. If you want a legal requirement that these businesses treat people equally, you need to pass a statute, which is why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.  And that statute was susceptible to arguments it violated the right of the business owners to do what they wanted with their own property. When the Supreme Court upheld the Civil Rights Act of 1964, not only did it need to find an enumerated power for Congress to act, but it also had to deal with the argument that the Act violated the Due Process Clause. Rand's statement harkened back to both of those old arguments.

Look at what he said:
I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners—I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind....

I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent, um, but, the hard part—and this is the hard part about believing in freedom—is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example—you have too, for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. . . . It’s the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior.
He likens private property rights to free speech rights. If you care about free speech rights, you defend even the people who say horrible things — Nazis, the KKK, etc. That's standard constitutional law doctrine. In Rand's view — and in the view of many libertarians — property rights work the same way. So you could have this horrible racist restauranteur who excluded black people, and the government would have to leave him alone, just as the government couldn't do anything about it if a white person had a dinner party at his house and only invited his white friends.


A few years ago, I was at a conference with libertarians, and I was confronted with exactly this point of view. I expressed my concern that they were putting an extreme and abstract idea above things that really matter in the world. I challenged them — in what I thought was a friendly conversation — to explain to me how I could know that their commitment to the extreme abstraction did not, in fact, have an origin in racism. Which came first, the proud defense of private property or the shameful prejudices that polite people don't admit to anymore?

For raising the subject, I was loudly denounced, both at the dinner table, and on the Reason Magazine website. As I said at the time:
I am struck -- you may think it is absurd for me to be suddenly struck by this -- but I am struck by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I'm used to the way lefties and liberals take themselves seriously and how deeply they believe. Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening. 
I appreciate libertarians up to a point, but the extreme ones are missing something that is needed if you are to be trusted with power. I'm glad Rand Paul is on the scene, but I'm going to hold him to his own statements, and it is plain to me that Allahpundit has misunderstood or misrepresented what he said. I'm certainly not saying he's a racist, but he seems to support a legal position that would place racist private businesses beyond the power of anti-discrimination statutes.

UPDATE: Rand Paul goes on the Laura Ingraham show and, with the help of her very supportive questions, finally gets around to saying that if he were in Congress in 1964, he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act.  Here's audio of the entire segment. Here's a text summary.

UPDATE 2: Allahpundit responds to me:
Althouse’s point is that Paul opposes any government interference in how someone runs their business, which would be strong form laissez faire; I assumed, because he danced around NPR’s questions and because this was obviously about to become a major headache for him, that he was taking the more palatable, weaker form position that it’s more acceptable for state and local agencies to act against discrimination but that the feds should stay out. (As it turned out, he now says having the feds interfere is fine.) That’s why I brought federalism into it, and that’s why I thought the Fourteenth Amendment would eventually end up in the discussion. If Paul doesn’t want the feds meddling in private businesses to protect minority rights, does he at least support letting them meddle with state governments that refuse to do so?
"Meddle" in what way? Require the states to legislate? Under New York v. United States, that is more of a constitutional problem than directly regulating. Do you mean putting conditions on accepting federal funds? That could be done most easily. If you mean using §5 of the 14th Amendment, that shouldn't work, because the states are not violating rights by failing to control the choices private citizens that are not, in fact, rights violations. It's hard to believe Paul would support these things (even before he conceded that he'd vote for the CRA of 1964).

"I wanted to escape the picture..."

"... because the more famous it got, the more it cost me my private life. It seemed to me that my picture would not let me go."

"The top 10 blogs, based on cumulative Postrank engagement scores..."

Hmmm. Either I totally rule, or I'm the blogger most in need of my own domain.

May 19, 2010

Bas relief of the insectoid kind.



It's so strange that insects can make such artful things. Unthinking, of course. And yet....

Wenlock and Mandeville.

No, I don't understand.
Wenlock looks dangerous and Mandeville seems to have wet his man-da-pants.

"So is Rand Paul, on a personal level, just a deeply unlikeable guy?"

Asks Josh Marshall, and I'm trying to understand what his problem is:
One of the weird things about his acceptance speech last night was that he held it at the local country club -- to what looked uncannily like a members only crowd.
So Josh's uncanniness-sensors were activated. That is weird.
More to the point, news came out overnight that Paul allegedly refused to take Trey Grayson's concession phone call last night.
But he goes on to admit that the "news" wasn't too reliable and hedges "So who knows?"
But I am getting the impression that Paul -- aside from just being very unlikeable in personal terms...
Getting the impression... Josh's sensors are a-tingling.
... may be a much more divisive figure than one might from any Tea Party candidate who snatches away a nomination from an establishment party figure. 
Than one might... what? I assume Josh is hoping for divisiveness.
... But a poll out yesterday showed that Grayson supporters in Kentucky simply hate Rand Paul in a way that goes way beyond the normal aftermath of a contested primary. From PPP's write-up of their poll ...

53% of likely Grayson voters for today have an unfavorable opinion of Paul to only 23% with a positive opinion of him. More importantly though just 40% of Grayson voters say they'll support Paul in the general election if he wins the Republican nomination with 43% explicitly saying they will not.
I get the sense there's a whole issue of personality (and messianism) that's going to be in play in that race beyond quite apart from ideology narrowly construed.
Well, I guess I'll have to start paying attention to Paul, because I have no idea what Josh Marshall is talking about.  My sensors are saying Marshall is terrified of Paul and hot to bring him down. If so, he'll need more substance. That was really an inanely empty post.

"Citizenship should be experienced with an uncovered face."

Says Nicolas Sarkozy. "There can be no other solution but a ban in all public places."

"Add a couple in Banlon pantsuits and the dry look and you'd have a KTEL or Sessions album cover..."

Palladian critiques my photograph and does the artwork to drive home what cheeseball hicks he thinks we are to like sunsets:

"Worried" writes to a Salon advice columnist over her father's increasing right-winginess.

"This is not the man I grew up with. I think he fears a future he cannot control, and longs for a past that never existed. He is responding to this existential crisis with fear, anger and paranoia. I feel for his situation, but cannot respect the viewpoint it generates. We are at a point where we can barely speak about current events or politics without deeply offending one another. I feel I cannot reconcile myself to his beliefs, and I know it is profoundly changing our relationship. How can I help him embrace a progressive, inclusive future? How do I bring back rationality, sensitivity and temperance into our discussions?"

Impressively, the advice columnist tells her she's asking the wrong question:
I think a better question to ask is, "How can I be closer to my father?" or "How can I accept him as a human being and seek his acceptance of me?"
It's really a terrible idea to have a political debate/argument with someone if your point of view is that they are irrational, insensitive, angry, fearful, etc. You can't convince him to change what he thinks by saying — essentially — his ideas are the product of his twisted mind. That's not an argument. It's just a counter-wave of emotion. And how could he possibly agree with you? He'd have to use that twisted mind to do it.
So I suggest you seek areas of commonality in nature or art, and in feeling rather than idea. Have some fun together. Build trust and enjoyment through shared experiences. Have patience. Be gentle.
Yeah, people learn how to avoid talking about politics if they or the person they are talking to isn't up for it. Is talking about politics really the main thing you should be doing with the people you want to love?

Elie Wiesel does not want to be a character in your play...

... even if you meant to use him as the embodiment of "decency, morality, the struggle for human dignity and kindness." Now, if you want to use him as the embodiment of not wanting to be turned into an abstraction and fictionalized....

"The word voluntary is a little complicated...." and it actually somehow includes forcing you to do what we think you should do.

Cass Sunstein in full Orwellian mode (back in 2001):

Sites of one point of view agree to provide links to other sites, so that if you're reading a conservative magazine, they would provide a link to a liberal site and vice versa, just to make it easy for people to get access to competing views. Or maybe a pop-up on your screen that would show an advertisement or maybe even a quick argument for a competing view. [break] The best would be for this to be done voluntarily, but the word "voluntary" is a little complicated, and sometimes people don't do what's best for our society unless Congress holds hearings or unless the public demands it. And the idea would be to have a legal mandate as the last resort, and to make sure it's as neutral as possible if we have to get there, but to have that as, you know, an ultimate weapon designed to encourage people to do better.
I got to the link from Jonah Goldberg, and I also heard the audio on the Rush Limbaugh show yesterday, and I took the text from Media Matters, which critiques Rush (for associating Elena Kagan with the idea and for botching the meaning of "net neutrality") and refers us to a 2008 Bloggingheads diavlog in which Sunstein calls his own idea "bad." Here's the Bloggingheads segment (with Eugene Volokh!). I have not listened through it to figure out how far Sunstein may have walked back from his idea (and why).

Barack Obama on Chatroulette.


(Via Metafilter.)

May 18, 2010

Well, if you wanna see the sun set...

Honey, I know where/We’ll go out and see it sometime/We’ll both just sit there and stare....


Grotesque favoritism tonight...

... don't you think?

Rand Paul is in. And Specter is out.

It's been a big night.
"It’s been a great privilege to serve the people of Pennsylvania,” said Mr. Specter, looking drawn and downcast as he delivered a brief concession speech.... “And I’ll be working hard for the people of Pennsylvania very hard for the coming months.”...

“I have a message,” Mr. Paul said, delivering a victory speech in Bowling Green. “A message from the Tea Party. A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back.”

"China used the so-called charge of 'hooliganism,' a catchall term that criminalized everything from premarital sex to dancing with members of the other sex and listening to Western music."

Ma Yaohai, a 53-year-old college professor, is on trial — for participating in a swingers' club.
Ma said his decision to join the swingers was voluntary. "Marriage is like water. You have to drink it. Swinging is like a cup of wine. You can drink it if you like. If you don't like it, don't drink it," he said in interviews with Chinese media.

In arguing that his activities involved consenting adults meeting in nonpublic places, Ma's defiance seemed to strike a chord in an era of relative sexual freedom, where extramarital affairs and prostitution are common — drawing support from those who believe the Chinese government should stay out of the bedroom.

Entering the court at the start of the two-day trial on April 7, he blurted out, "How can I disturb social order? What happens in my house is a private matter."

"There are business foreclosures, storefronts closing. There's a lot of instability and anxiety."

In California. Because the price of marijuana has crashed.

"We start analyzing these things rationally or logically or logically, it's not going to make any sense."

I was going to analyze that assertion rationally but I was afraid it wasn't going to make any sense.

The quote is from Rush Limbaugh, who proceeds to complain that everything's gotten too politicized.

AND: Speaking of internally inconsistent assertions....

The accents of New York City.

(Via Language Log.

""Now that the sex lives of Supreme Court justices have become grist for commentators, we are finally free to discuss a question formerly only whispered about in the shadows..."

"... Why does Justice Antonin Scalia, by common consent the leading intellectual force on the Court, have nine children? Is this normal? Or should I say 'normal,' as some people choose to define it? Can he represent the views of ordinary Americans when he practices such a minority lifestyle? After all, having nine children is far more unusual in this country than, say, being a lesbian."

At the Lunchtime Café...


... Meade made a fruit salad.

"The Justice Department's official position as of now is that local law enforcement has the inherent authority to enforce federal immigration law."

"How can you blame someone for exercising authority that the department says they have?"

"But my opinion of Russell changed when he admitted to Boston Rob that he did not play to win."

"You can’t be the best if you’re not playing to win. He can hoop and holler all he wants about 'America choosing' but that’s not this game. This game is about convincing a jury of your peers that you are the most deserving person. He didn’t do that. But my problem is not that he didn’t accomplish that goal, it’s that it wasn’t his goal in the first place."

So says Jeff Probst who owes us an apology then for that "All Stars" season where, upon revealing who the jury gave $1 million to, he announced that they were giving away another million dollars to the player America votes for. And it was so obviously a device to give money to the player that won in the alternative way of entertaining America — Rupert. If Russell was playing to win in the alternative Rupert fashion of making himself a popular TV character, then Jeff should take some responsibility for that.


Don't miss the video interview with Queen Sandra at the link.

"Man, talking about 'literally' to mean 'figuratively' is sooo 2005."

A commenter scoffs at David Bernstein (linking here.

And someone else links to this:

So Bernstein didn't get the fun he'd hoped for out of quoting Jeremiah Wright's "When Obama threw me under the bus, he threw me under the bus literally!" and quipping "Obama Accused of Attempted Murder?"

And I'm glad I didn't bother with the usage humor yesterday when I quoted "I was literally transformed back to that little snot nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier..." Even though that's a much funnier image than a man crushed by bus wheels.

Please don't kill the neighborhood children with your sculptural evocation of the Holocaust.

"[Lewis Greenberg, 66, a] retired art teacher in Ballwin was sentenced to 20 days in jail Monday after he refused to make changes to art pieces in his front yard that the court and city officials have deemed dangerous. ... For years, Greenberg's wood, plastic, steel and aluminum structures have vexed neighbors in the Whispering Oakwood subdivision. He has said the works are a statement on the Holocaust."

Maybe you ought to marry someone who is in your age range.

A study shows that women who marry much older men or much younger men are more likely to die than women who marry men who are around their age. You can speculate about the reasons for that. Assuming the study is accurate, I wonder whether something about a husband who's not your age tends somehow to wear us out or whether women who are in better condition in the first place are drawn to men who are close to their age. I'm going to guess it's the latter — i.e., correlation, not causation. And I confess prejudice: I prefer to be with someone who's my age. I wouldn't want a marriage that had any kind of a parent-and-child feeling to it. It's great to be parents together or to feel like 2 kids sometimes, but who wants to always be the elder or always the junior? People who die more easily, apparently.


It's best in the city.

What not to name your baby.

Don't pick something popular... especially something that you think seems unusual, but actually is terribly popular -- like Isabella. And don't fancy up a plain-seeming name and bumble into a more common name. For example, you might think "Ann" is a ridiculously plain name, but it's much less common than fancier variations, listed below with their rank among names given to baby girls in the U.S. in 2009:
Ana    182
Anahi    458
Anaya    471
Ann    926
Anna    29
Anne    544
Annie    382
Anya    363
"Ann" is by far the least popular. Way behind even Anahi, a name I can't recall ever seeing. Basically, "Anna" has become the Ann-name of choice.

"Annette" is 869. "Annabelle" is 156! Annabelle! When I was a kid, it was considered a patently absurd name that I had a friend who called me "Annabelle" when she wanted to annoy me:


"The people who grew up afraid to go in parks at night now supervise their own children with fanatical attention..."

"... even though crime rates have plummeted. It’s as if they’re responding to the sense of menace they felt while young, not the actual conditions of today."

"To see resistance from a woman means a lot."

"People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance."

My double life as a blogger.

I'm blogging over at Instapundit this week — with a big cast of co-guest-bloggers. I'm semi-responsible for keeping up a Reynoldsian flow. I'm not that good at semi-responsibility. Group projects.... If the flow were entirely up to me, maybe I could "be" Instapundit for a week... if I didn't also need to be Althouse.

It's pretty all-consuming just being Althouse. And by Althouse, I mean on-blog Althouse. To be on-blog Althouse and off-blog Althouse takes all my time. But this week, I deflect some of that time to being one-seventh of Instapundit. One-seventh, in that I am one of seven guest-bloggers, but it's more than one-seventh of the work, because I'm always fretting about the maintenance of the Reynoldsian flow. There's a certain look and feel to that place that I want to see as a reader, so I want to preserve it when it's up to me.

And I'm still smarting from what Richard Brookhiser said 2 years ago.

How do you manage the day's last spurt of energy?

"The way I do it, there are still 56 minutes left to watch two episodes of The Brady Bunch on TV Land and I [have] enough energy to go downstairs and make a ham and swiss with horseradish, tomato and lettuce on artisian bread during the first commercial break. If I watch The Brady Bunch first, and Marsha's in it a lot, then we're down to two minutes."

May 17, 2010

"President Obama signed the Press Freedom Act, and then promptly refused to take any questions."

And the press is free to write that.

Colors that affected us recently.

There was that acorn that made you want to repaint biggest room in the house...


There was this...


... which made me fantasize that I was a contestant on "Project Runway" and the challenge was to design a dress it inspired...

And this...


... which made me think of the old days when I painted with real paint on canvas. What was that red? Alizarin?

"Very bad news for constitutional federalism."

Says Ilya Somin about today's decision in Comstock...

Why is Anthony Lewis so in love with Barry Friedman's book?

Here's Anthony Lewis:
We think of the Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions as lofty, lonely, unchallengeable. But in truth they are part of a dialogue with public opinion and political leadership—and in the long run the Court does not stray far from the public. That is the convincing conclusion of Barry Friedman’s stunning, fascinating history.
Here's a review of Friedman's book in The New Republic:
In Friedman’s assessment, no journalist was more closely attuned to the sentiments of ordinary Americans in the latter half of the twentieth century than Anthony Lewis of The New York Times. “In a probing 1962 feature story,” Friedman writes, “Lewis explained that the Supreme Court’s rapid development of the law in the areas of race relations, legislative apportionment, and the rights of criminal suspects reflected ‘a demand of the national conscience.’” Unburdened by data, Lewis unabashedly identified national trends that just happened to coincide perfectly with the Warren Court’s jurisprudence. Lewis explained the Court’s decision in Brown as follows: “Once again no complicated motive need be sought. The Supreme Court was reflecting a national moral consensus on segregation--perhaps anticipating a feeling that had not yet fully taken shape.”

This assertion is historically inaccurate. A great deal more opposition and ambivalence greeted Brown than is revealed by such a tale of moral triumph. But Friedman’s admiration for Lewis knows no bounds. “Though critics complained constantly that the Warren Court was running ahead of the crowd,” he remarks, “at least one perceptive observer understood that the Court did what it did because the public supported these outcomes and no other organ of government would provide them. That was Anthony Lewis.” In extolling Lewis’s coverage of Bickel’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Lectures at Harvard Law School, Friedman gushes: “Ultimately, it was Anthony Lewis who proved the Court’s most perceptive spectator.”

A psychologist at University College Cork is subjected to a "a 2-year period of intensive monitoring and counselling after discussing a scientific paper with a colleague."

The paper was titled "Fellatio in fruit bats prolongs copulation time," and Dylan Evans is accused of sexual harassment.
"There was not a shred of a sign of offence taken at the time," Evans says. "She asked for a copy of the article."

A week later he got a letter informing him that he was being accused of sexual harassment. Evans says the whole case is "utterly bizarre". The complainant's side of the argument is that she was "hurt and disgusted", and asked Evans to leave a copy of the paper with her as way of cutting short the meeting.

What schools belong in the Big 10?

Wisconsin lawprof Walter Dickey says: "There is a strong feeling of Midwestern values and culture that is a part of the conference." Would that apply to Notre Dame, Nebraska, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Texas, Rutgers and Syracuse — schools rumored to be in the running?

I love the Midwestern chauvinism. Reminds me of Bob Dylan:
Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest

I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that the land that I live in
Has God on its side

"I love it when you talk dirty to us, Althouse."

The ultimate in link-whoring. And yes, I am ashamed. But not of my position on sex: It is less of an effort than watching a BBC TV drama.

Also: "I'm a virgin ... as relates to BBC dramas. I respect myself too much let some limey have his way with me."

There are 2 reactions to the knowledge that we're all going to die.

"One: religion. You create an afterlife. Now I think it's a good idea, it makes people calmer. And then there's humor. At its basis humor is a very strange, nervous reaction to, you know, death. To me that's the only explanation of why so much of what makes people laugh really hard is scary. There are so many death jokes, so many movies where the humor situation is based on great danger—just a slight twist and it would be a horror movie. So to me that's how we're coping with it. We see right through our own narrative that everything's OK, and the way we handle the resulting anxiety is to make jokes about it."

Says Dave Barry.

"I was literally transformed back to that little snot nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier..."

"... and it was such a fucking honor and a dream come true to share a stage with you and the rest of the legends in Heaven and Hell."

"Cut deeper, pull harder."

Heard by a woman having her eye surgically removed.
Although normally a patient does not remember anything about surgery that involves general anesthesia, about one or two people in every 1,000 may wake up during general anesthesia, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most of these cases involve the person being aware of the surrounding environment, but some experience severe pain and go on to have psychological problems.
If not remembering is part of the process, do we really know how many people experience awareness during surgery? If you've ever had general anesthesia, are you sure this didn't happen to you? If you somehow, now, could find out that it had happened, but you still could not remember it, it wouldn't bother you as much as it should, would it?

The Supreme Court's new federalism decision.

United States v. Comstock, today's Supreme Court case upholding the federal civil-commitment statute, deals only with the question whether Congress has an enumerated power to make a law that authorizes the continued detention of sexual dangerous or mentally ill persons after they have completed serving their federal prison sentences. That is, the case is not about whether there is an individual right to be free of this deprivation of liberty — only whether the federal government can do it.

On this federalism question, the Court relies on the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution. The persons who are detained have, in every case, been convicted of federal crimes. If there was federal power to create those crimes and to impose criminal punishment for them, then why wouldn't it follow that the federal government could do something more to those individuals? Justice Breyer writes for the majority: "the same enumerated power that justifies the creation of a federal criminal statute... justifies civil commitment...."
[T]he statute is a “necessary and proper” means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned, and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others. The Constitution consequently authorizes Congress to enact the statute.
Justice Kennedy writes separately to note that federalism concerns have been adequately tended to: "this is a discrete and narrow exercise of authority over a small class of persons already subject to the federal power." Ditto Alito: "This is not a case in which it is merely possible for a court to think of a rational basis on which Congress might have perceived an attenuated link between the powers underlying the federal criminal statutes and the challenged civil commitment provision. Here, there is a substantial link to Congress’ constitutional powers."

Justice Thomas dissents (joined by Justice Scalia):
Absent congressional action that is in accordance with, or necessary and proper to, an enumerated power, the duty to protect citizens from violent crime, including acts of sexual violence, belongs solely to the States....

Not long ago, this Court described the Necessary and Proper Clause as “the last, best hope of those who defend ultra vires congressional action.” ... Regrettably, today’s opinion breathes new life into that Clause, and... comes perilously close to transforming the Necessary and Proper Clause into a basis for the federal police power that “we always have rejected"... In so doing, the Court endorses the precise abuse of power Article I is designed to prevent—the use of a limited grant of authority as a “pretext . . . for the accomplishment of objects not intrusted to the government.”

The new NYT philosophy blog gets started by calling lawyers small-souled shysters.

Simon Critchley writes:
Socrates says that those in the constant press of business, like lawyers, policy-makers, mortgage brokers and hedge fund managers, become ”bent and stunted” and they are compelled “to do crooked things.” The pettifogger is undoubtedly successful, wealthy and extraordinarily honey-tongued, but, Socrates adds, “small in his soul and shrewd and a shyster.” The philosopher, by contrast, is free by virtue of his or her otherworldliness, by their capacity to fall into wells and appear silly.
The title of the post is "What Is a Philosopher?" and I'm thinking somebody who pretends to be self-deprecating while running down people who make more money than he does.

Constitutionally, death is different... youth is different.

(Also posted at Instapundit.)

WITHOUT MURDER, it's cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without parole, writes Justice Kennedy for a 6-3 Court. Dissenting, Justice Thomas criticizes the majority for imposing "an exacting constraint on democratic sentencing choices based on ... such an untestable philosophical conclusion": "that a 17-year-old who pulls the trigger on a firearm can demonstrate sufficient depravity and irredeemability to be denied reentry into society, but... a 17-year-old who rapes an 8- year-old and leaves her for dead does not."

Glenn predicts we'll be "lively enough."

And I'm thinking:

I need to get this week started.

It's 9:27 here in Madison, Wisconsin, and I've got nothing new up here on the blog for you yet.

And it's10:27 in Tennesee, which is Instapundit time, and — as you may have noticed — I'm playing Instapundit once again this week.
I’M HEADING OFF TO A SECURE, UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, and I’ll have a bunch of guestbloggers filling in here: Not only my usual crew of Ann Althouse, Megan McArdle, and Michael Totten, but to lighten the load on them, quite a few others: Ed Driscoll, sometime InstaPundit correspondent Stewart Baker (whose new book on counterterrorism, Skating On Stilts, will be coming out soon), Radley Balko, and Mark Tapscott. Should be lively enough that when I get back, you’ll wish I’d stayed gone longer!
Glenn posted that at 10, and you'd think somebody would have gotten the guest-blogging rolling by now. Should be lively enough... He even packed in 3 more guest-bloggers. Hellloooo? Where is everyone?

May 16, 2010

Don't be so anthropocentric.


The forest flora did not evolve to be seen at human eye-level.


If you want to see what is here, see the opportunities to stop and kneel.


Kneel, arrogant human.


"As is common in these types of situations, the officers deployed a distractionary device commonly known as a flash bang."

"The purpose of the device is to temporarily disorient occupants of the house to make it easier for officers to safely gain control of anyone inside and secure the premise."

We found 1.5 morels.


I'm not saying where.

David Gregory and Chuck Schumer demagogue the Citizens United case on "Meet the Press" today.

If there's one thing you should know about Citizens United v. FEC, it's that it's not about corporate contributions to political candidates. It's about corporations engaging in their own political speech (and spending money in the process). Now, here's today's "Meet the Press" transcript. Chuck Schumer is in the middle of singing the praises of Elena Kagan.
MR. GREGORY:  ... What, what does she mean for the overall direction of the court? ... Is she a liberal or is she a moderate?

SEN. SCHUMER:  I--look, I think she's--she tends to be a moderate when you look at her writings.  But I think that's less important.  When the president called me and asked me what was the number one criteria [sic] for a nominee--this was before he chose Kagan--I said I think it should be somebody who will be in the majority of five rather than the minority of four; someone who'll have the--not only the intellect--and everyone says she's brilliant--but the force of personality, the practicality to try and create coalitions.  I think a lot of us, at least on the Democratic side, were shocked by the Citizens United case, for instance.  And...

MR. GREGORY:  Just remind people, this was about political contributions.
No, it wasn't!
SEN. SCHUMER:  This is the case that said unlimited corporate money could flow into our politics undisclosed in any way....
No, it didn't!
... and it's really--I mean, the First Amendment's important, but so is the sanctity of our political process, so that the average person has a say.  And I was shocked at this.  
And I am shocked at you and Gregory deliberately misleading viewers. Deliberately or ignorantly. I'm guessing deliberately. At least for Schumer. Gregory might be a dunce. I don't know.
Maybe a Kagan on the court could have persuaded a Justice Kennedy that the practical--you know, the abstract notion of First Amendment triumphs everything has a balance, and the balance is the practical effects of that. And my hope would be she would do it, and that's what I'm looking for.
What? I have this TiVo'd, so let me check. That is what he said, word for word. I think there should be another dash, after "triumphs," but it's still damned near incomprehensible. I'm guessing he meant: Justice Kennedy thinks the abstract notion of the First Amendment triumphs, but in fact, abstractions should always be balanced against real world practical effects, and if Kagan were on the Court she might persuade Kennedy to move away from abstractions and focus more on real-world effects.

That's something some people want to say about constitutional interpretation, and that's fine. Say it. But: 1. Say it clearly, and 2. Don't LIE about what the real world effects are.

"I’m acutely aware that we haven’t made love for several weeks now and each morning I wake up thinking 'I’m going to make an effort tonight.'"

"Then when the evening does come round I’m so exhausted from working and looking after the children that it’s as much as I can do to sit upright and watch a BBC drama, never mind find the energy to make love."

Now, wait a minute. It's way more trouble to sit up in bed and watch a BBC drama than it is to fuck. You're about 100 times as likely to fall asleep. The lies people tell — tell themselves — about sex are just astounding.

Vehicle of [the] Day.

Seen on Willy Street in Madison:



I love the intimate contact with the road:


And the American Flag.

It's all so basic and elemental.

The best and worst of Heroes and Villains.

A nice collection of moments... as we lead up to the big finale on "Survivor" tonight. The funniest thing to me was J.T.'s letter to Russell.

"You can't say gay isn't actable in the same sentence you say overly macho acting reads as gay."

"Either there exists a certain set of characteristics, expressions, and vocal modulations that can indicate sexual orientation to an audience or there aren't. And it's pretty clear that there are."

Another entry in the debate about whether gay actors can "play straight."

This is a strange debate, because we don't know the sexual orientation of every actor. Since there are many more roles for heterosexual actors and since the perception of straightness occurs in the mind of the viewer, a gay actor who is good at playing straight has a strong motivation to keep his sexual orientation secret. And actors are actors. I assume when we see them outside of roles, as themselves, they are playing the image of themselves that they want us to see. An actor who chooses to be known as openly gay isn't quite the same as your gay friend or acquaintance in life outside of the world of acting. An actor is a  performer who is to some extent always acting. If he's openly gay, he's performing the part of an actor who is openly gay. Doing that, he can shape our ideas about what homosexuality looks like, which will affect how we determine whether an actor playing a part seems gay. Similarly, a gay actor who hides his sexual orientation is doing some sort of performance too, and what he does represents some kind of conception of what straightness is. If we never find out he's gay, he never contributes to our knowledge base about whether gay actors can play straight. And straight actors are also part of the knowledge base. They too perform in roles and as they present themselves as themselves, acting out whatever they think will work well for them and make us want to see them pretending to be characters we find authentic and worth caring about. They've shaped our perception of what straightness looks like. Is it Clint Eastwood and John Wayne? Can we even begin to shuffle through the layers of reality and pretend and discover what really is?

We need to step back and acknowledge the complexity of what we are perceiving before we can contribute anything useful to the debate about whether gay actors can "play straight."

ADDED: Judge this performance:

Meade made me a pancake.