Monday, September 30, 2002

Isn't it equally culturally blind to accuse the United States of being culturally blind? The Chicago Tribune reports that a Gallup analysis of Islamic countries reveals that "Muslims see U.S. as culturally blind." "There is a strong sense that the United States is ignorant of the realities in the Muslim world and that Western nations do not respect Arab or Islamic values, do not support Arab causes and do not exhibit fairness toward Arabs, Muslims or, more specifically, the Palestinian situation." Here is the Gallup poll to which the Trib is referring.
Alan Ehrenhalt writes in the NY Times today about "The Paradox of Corrupt Yet Effective Leadership." This is an interesting point, but not one worthy, I think, of being splashed across the Times' op-ed page. Machiavelli already wrote a book about this.
Since Kate went ahead and lowered the tone for us, I'll take the opportunity to direct your attention over to NRO for Joel Mowbray's critique of the Los Angeles DA's handling of the Winona Ryder shoplifting situation. Having seen clips of the infamous Saks surveillance tape I agree that Ryder looks less like a kleptomaniac, and more like a scatterbrained starlet too loaded down with merchandise to remember what she has and hasn't paid for. You never see her snipping off security tags. And those felony drug possession charges? Two pills of the generic form of Percocet, for which she had a prescription. It looks like the LA DA is going to charge ahead anyway. Kinda makes me want to pursue that long forgotten dream of becoming a high-profile celebrity defense attorney. My YLS application is on the way...
I know this lowers the tone significantly, but this is too good to pass up. You know what they say about men with big feet... This is the kind of critical research we need. The kind of research the Yale Law School needs to be worried about losing when determining what to do about JAG recruiting.
Ah, but the thing is, even bad movies top the box office. Sweet Home Alabama rakes in $37.5 million. I do agree that the movie benefitted greatly from Legally Blonde, which was a phenomenally funny movie. Alabama was not.

"Lovely Democratic mem'ries of the way we were..." Musings by Barbra Streisand.

Speaking of the South, Ben Jones, who played Cooter on The Dukes of Hazzard, is running for a congressional seat in the 7th District of Virginia, which is a part of the country The Kitchen Cabinet knows well. Jones, who has previous experience in Congress as a Representative from Georgia, is running as an "independent democratic" candidate, according to an article in the Culpeper Star-Exponent about a visit he paid to government classes at Culpeper County High School.

Cooter is against legalized marijuna and abortion. He supports the death penalty and war with Iraq.
I went to see Sweet Home Alabama over the weekend. What has happened to romantic comedies lately? I haven't seen a really decent one since Bridget Jones's Diary.

Two complaints about Sweet Home Alabama -- one minor, one major. Stop reading now if you haven't seen the movie and don't want to hear plot details.

1.) Minor complaint: Reese Witherspoon's character is supposed to be a big New York fashion designer, but her wardrobe in the movie was just so-so. Some of the clothes were merely dowdy, and some were downright hideous (I hated the wedding dress).

2.) Major complaint: For a romantic comedy, it wasn't very romantic (nor was it very funny, but then they rarely are). At the end of the movie, when Witherspoon's character has to choose between her son-of-the-NYC-mayor fiance and her home-grown former husband, I found myself utterly indifferent. Of course, she ends up jilting New York Guy at the altar and going back to Alabama Guy, who has loved her since they were ten and spent the past seven years trying to win her back by building a glass-blowing factory. The movie could have done a lot with the enduring love angle -- it could have convinced us that, even though the New York fiance was a good guy (and he was a sympathetic character, despite being based on Andrew Cuomo -- yech!), it was right for her to be with the old husband based on some connection between them -- because he understood her better, because he had loved her longer, because by being with him she would be staying true to her roots... whatever. I just wanted to see what it was between them that was so strong it made her go back to him, but the movie never shows us that. All it gives us is lame recountings of childhood pranks and some grim talk about Reese's long-ago miscarriage.

And one kiss. In a graveyard. Why are romantic comedies so sterile these days? Now, if Reese and Alabama Guy had made passionate love in the back of his pickup truck, that would have helped me understand why she picked him. It wouldn't have needed to be graphic. But it would have helped the plot. It could have been funny. And they were even married, for Pete's sake!

One more note: A review I read before seeing the movie complained about the film's sneering attitude toward the South and Southerners, but I personally didn't think it was overly contemptuous. (Although Abby reminds me that Virginia is hardly Alabama -- perhaps I'm too much of a Yankee to pick up on all the insults.) My favorite line of the movie was Candice Bergen, the mother of the jilted groom, telling Reese Witherspoon's mother to "Go back to your double-wide and... fry something!"
Global warming watch: the sky is falling. This reminds of these signs I saw on the sidewalk in Chicago two winters ago.
Watch for falling icicles
Now I don't want to belittle the danger of icicles falling from sky scrapers, but how are those signs supposed to help anyone? Although, Chicago does get weird in the winter. Using lawn chairs to protect shoveled-out parking spaces? Only in Chicago.

Vote early, vote often, I say.
Remember the Bobbsey Twins? Thanks to A.Word.A.Day for reminding me.
WELCOME, ABBY!!!!
Quote of the Day:
"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy -- but that could change."
~ Dan Quayle

Song of the Day:
Shakira, "Underneath Your Clothes"

Happy Birthday:
Euripides
Truman Capote
Katie Glymph
Elie Wiesel

Good morning right coast sisters. All is well over here on the left. Thanks for being sympathetic to the fact that those of us with "real" jobs don't have as much time to devote to blogging as those of you in academia. Now that I've figured out how this works, I'm going to make a sincere effort to make my sun-shiny presence a more regular occurrence around here. Unfortunately, I have nothing meaningful to contribute right now, as my brain has shut down in frustration from trying to follow the plot of "Vanilla Sky."

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Will the real Saddam Hussein please stand up? You heard it on the Kitchen Cabinet on Thursday. And in the NY Times today.

Also heard on the Kitchen Cabinet on Thursday: the dental revolution! Finally picked up by the NY Times today.

From the NY Times, the front-runner for "is this news?": name-calling is still a significant part of political campaigning.
Quote of the Day:
"The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided."
~ Casey Stengel

Song of the Day:
The Cure, "Just Like Heaven"

Happy Birthday:
Enrico Fermi
Horatio Nelson
Jerry Lee Lewis
Lech Walesa
Bryant Gumbel
The fuss over the Ryder Cup (US v. Europe in golf) presents a good excuse to talk about Tiger. And to talk about heroes.

Tiger Woods is amazing. He is the best player to have ever played the game, and he has raised the profile of golf and brought it to the average public. Tiger is an example of what happens when discipline and seriousness is applied to a sport. What happens when you decide to treat golf like a sport? What happens when you run and lift like any other athlete? You win four majors in a row. You lead the PGA money board for years. You are the best in the game.

The Ryder Cup has presented an opportunity for the media to question Tiger's absolute dominance. Going into this weekend, he had lost twice as many Ryder Cup matches as he had won. This brings me to my real point. What is it that makes us want to tear down a winner? We ourselves strive to do the best. We teach our children to aspire. We cheer on the underdogs, because we hope they will rise above the expectations. However, once someone or something reaches the top and establishes dominance, we love to hate. People hate the Lakers, and they hate the Yankees. There are plenty of Jordan haters, and I'm sure, plenty of Tiger haters. Why? Why can't we just admire greatness when that is what it truly is--talent, discipline, and unadulterated greatness. Rather than tearing down our leaders and our heroes and our champions, rather than seeking out their weaknesses and concocting weaknesses when we cannot find any, we should be thankful to live in momentous days and to witness momentous events and to watch momentous people.

Tiger is the greatest to have ever played the game and he need not continue to prove that. Will he? Bet on it.
This NY Times article about the Toogood case reminded me of a paper I recently wrote on internet privacy. As any student of privacy law knows, the law of privacy lurches about like a child playing Blind Man's Bluff. We lack any real comprehensive protection of privacy; rather, the law of privacy is a patchwork of responses to public outcry over particular privacy violations. The Bork confirmation hearings brought about the Video Privacy Protection Act, which protects our video rental records. The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 was a response to the murder of actress Rebecca Shaefer, in which the murderer allegedly obtained the personal information used to stalk the victim from a state department of motor vehicles. Indeed, the modern notion of privacy law began with a Harvard Law Review article by Justice Brandeis and Samuel Warren, which was motivated by the instant camera.

The NY Times article discusses how the Toogood case has focused public attention on the heightened levels of surveillance. Will we lurch toward more privacy protection? In a nutshell, my argument about internet privacy is that the internet has fundamentally changed life to such a degree that privacy can no longer be a patchwork concern. Unlike other technologies, it does not affect some discrete portion of our life, and thus is a reason for a more comprehensive approach to privacy law.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Movie Quote of the Day:
"This is my goddamn bachelor party, and I am not going to goddamn watch -- pardon my split infinitive -- Funny Girl!"
~ In and Out

Song of the Day:
Billy Joel, "Leningrad"

Happy Birthday:
Brigitte Bardot
Merisi da Caravaggio
Georges Clemenceau
Steve Largent
Ethel Rosenberg
Ed Sullivan

Friday, September 27, 2002

"We're here in front of GAP in Georgetown. We've heard that some protesters may be stripping off their clothes in protest. I can assure you we're not going to carry that live."
~ CNN's Bob Franken, at the IMF protests in DC this morning
I have been meaning for a while to post this Michael Kelly op-ed from the Washington Post. It's about Al Gore's speech in San Francisco on Monday about the Bush administration's policy on Iraq. Kelly -- no Republican hack, mind you -- pulls no punches:

"It distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond that pale.

"Gore's speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts -- bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.

"Probably the purest example of the Gore style -- equal parts mendacity, viciousness and smarm -- occurred when Gore expressed his concern (his deep, heartfelt concern) over 'the doubts many have expressed about the role that politics might be playing in the calculations of some in the administration.' And then added: 'I have not raised those doubts, but many have.'"

I often get the feeling that Gore thinks he's being devastatingly subtle with tricks like this, but of course he ends up coming across as terribly obvious and just... yes, "vile" is the word. And I bet that, unlike with most politicians, Real-Guy Gore is a much nicer person than Politician Gore. Sometimes I feel almost sorry for him.

UPDATE: The New Republic's editors also give Gore a thumbs-down: "[B]itterness is not a policy position." (requires registration)
Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey's anti-gay comments are wrong. Humor is not a valid excuse when it is blatantly offensive and on nationally broadcast programming. Even worse is using the nature of Howard Stern's show as an excuse. Seriously now, Howard Stern "sets you up in bad situations"? Then either be sharper or know not to go on the show. Why don't you just admit you're stupid? And I'm a Giants fan, too.
Quote of the Day:
"It is no use telling me that there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof."
~ P.G. Wodehouse

Song of the Day:
Barenaked Ladies, "Pinch Me"

Happy Birthday:
Samuel Adams
William Conrad
Meat Loaf
How to become President, lesson 12: Call for non-partisan American-ism in a widely read publication, such as the New York Times. Dick Gephardt can take the high road all he wants. I'm not fooled.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

The Kitchen Cabinet has avoided the discussion on Iraq for long enough. So, question: if we go into Iraq, how do we know we're getting the real Saddam?
A "dental revolution." That's not something you hear about often.

In other medical news, it appears a few quack doctors give the industry a bad name.
Proof that Microsoft is the devil's work. They said it, I'm just relaying the message.
More on the wonder of sports...

They said the fans would never forgive baseball. But that's the thing about sports--because it is such an analogue for life, you can't deny it forever. And despite the hullabaloo over a potential strike, the season that almost wasn't has turned into one of the most exciting in recent years. Anyone without their head in the ground will know that Barry Bonds is on a tear. Even Harvard statistics professors have jumped in on the Bonds bonanza. Alfonso Soriano, second baseman for the Yankees, is one home run away from a 40-40 season. That is, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases. Only four players have ever done that. Sammy Sosa is two home runs away from history. And let's not forget the two teams who are still hoping against hope, trying to squeak their way into the wild card spot for the playoffs. The Mariners are four games back on the faltering Angels with four games left in the season. Four games ago, the Mariners could only hope that the Angels would lose every game and that they would win every game. Somehow, they are halfway there. And the Dodgers and Giants play out the latest chapter in their age-old coast-to-coast rivalry as the Dodgers sit three games behind the Giants. In the meantime, the surging Giants have nearly caught the formerly untouchable Diamondbacks. Pity poor the poor Red Sox, who have dropped out of the playoff race ... again.

There are small miracles and heart-wrenching disappointments every day.
Take home lesson: If you want smart, qualified people to teach, pay them competitively. Says the NY Times:
Education analysts often say the nation faces a looming teacher shortage. Growing enrollment and the retirement of baby-boom teachers will aggravate the need, as will a new federal law that bans unqualified teachers.

But this year in New York City, the shortage mostly disappeared, despite the difficult conditions in many urban schools. Qualified teachers flocked to New York for starting salaries of $39,000 a year, up from $32,000 in 2001. Those with experience elsewhere started as high as $61,000. Certified teachers left parochial schools, the suburbs and other professions to work for the city. A slow economy helped by offering college graduates fewer options in the private sector.

New York's experience suggests there never was a shortage, only an unwillingness of qualified teachers to work at previous pay levels

Obvious? Yes. Getting through thick skulls? No.
Movie Quote of the Day:
"Evildoers are easier, and they taste better."
~ Interview with the Vampire

Song of the Day:
Cake, "Short Skirt, Long Jacket"

Happy Birthday:
Pope Paul VI
T.S. Eliot
George Gershwin
Olivia Newton-John
Ivan Pavlov

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I didn't elaborate yesterday on my comment about the "death of privacy," though I plan to. In the meantime, Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Program, will have to speak for me. "The problem, along with most other technologies that are being introduced right now, is that the technology is developing at the speed of light but the law that protects us is still in the Stone Age." It's not earth-shaking, but the fact that the statement is obvious hasn't made the legislatures move any more quickly.
Canadian-born ABC anchor Peter Jennings is not an American citizen. He tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that his late mother "was deeply concerned that I stay Canadian. She thought a lot of people went away from Canada and forgot their roots." He's been thinking for over a decade about applying for citizenship, but it's a complicated issue for him, and not only because of his ties to Canada: "It would be a very big step for me, because I value the American idea so much. I don't know whether I've made enough of a contribution to America... I wish to be a worthy citizen."

Wow. The man's given millions of Americans their nightly news for years. That's a big enough contribution in my book.
The elephants and donkeys on the streets of Washington DC have been given refuge from protestors.

UPDATE: Does this strike anyone else as absurd? It is absurd if the IMF protestors want to destroy harmless and unrelated art. It is, I think, equally absurd to think that protestors want to destroy harmless and unrelated art.
Lily loves Target. Some people love Kmart.
In the row over a comment made at the past weekend's Columbia-Fordham football game, the president of Columbia has apologized, but the student author of the comment has refused to apologize. According to the NY Times, Andy Hao, the Columbia student who wrote the allegedly anti-Catholic remarks, responded, "You should blame the priests that molest kids and degrade the name of the church rather than blaming some college kid who wrote a football script."

Is this finally a bold stance by notoriously politically correct, fence sitting ivy leaguers? Or is it simply a student taking a side in an issue for which it is now less than controversial to take a side? My hope is the former, but my gut goes with the latter.
"What if America was China?" watch, Week 2: China arrests an Internet writer for "subversion."

And here comes the bluster over Taiwan.
Bees that can smell land mines. Science never ceases to amaze me.
On Christopher Reeve's birthday, some thoughts about Superman.

I have an old Superman comic book. A book book, not a magazine comic book. It has most of the early Superman comics. I love that book. I love that book because I love Superman. Time ran an article a few months ago about Spiderman. The article attributed Spidey's popularity to the fact that he is just a normal guy. We want heroes who are just like us, people who rise to the occasion, not aliens from another planet. We want Beamer.

I agree. We want Beamer, and we want the FDNY, and I sure as heck hope that when faced with the situation, I could step up, too. I want to believe we can take care of ourselves and that we don't need some bizarre alien steward in tight blue spandex. But I don't think that the hero in the rough trend means we don't love Superman because Superman is what we want. What we want is someone who will stand up for life as we know it, for our values--for truth, justice, and the American way. And that is exactly what Superman is. We loved him because in a time of darkness (the depression and then WW II) he was an inextinguishable beacon of hope. We didn't love him because he was an alien or because he did things humans couldn't do. He was simply an embodiment of the spirit that drove Todd Beamer, the FDNY, and even Spiderman. So, Superman is not alien at all; rather, he is American.
Hoping against hope. Since the Angels lost, wins by the Mariners and the Red Sox kept both teams' playoff hopes alive in the American League wildcard race. If the Angels lose every remaining game and either the Mariners or the Sox win every remaining game, the Mariners (or Sox) go to the playoffs.

There is something wonderful about sports. The best and the worst of life can be found in one game and on one field, and yet remain bloodless and pure. The Mariners and the Sox have hope. Pure, unadulterated, backs-against-the-wall, will-there-be-a-miracle hope. Hope. The Yankees down in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series homerun type hope. It is thrilling, it is moving, and it is wondrous. And it does not have to involve horror and bloodshed. Sports can be an analogy, a guideline, and a benchmark for life. Those who cannot see that are simply not smart enough--indeed, they often believe they are too smart.

Quote of the Day:
"A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live."
~ Bertrand Russell

Song of the Day:
The Cranberries, "Dreams"

Happy Birthday:
Michael Douglas
William Faulkner
Heather Locklear
Scottie Pippin
Christopher Reeve
Mark Rothko
Barbara Walters




Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Vermont federal district court Judge William Sessions III rules the death penalty unconstitutional.
The death of privacy?
"...should [she] be unable to fulfill her duties..." Whoever said the first-runner up was a bogus position?
Okay, now that I've sufficiently lowered the tone around here, something substantive: The Weekly Standard's David Brooks reports on a piece coming out later this fall by demographer William H. Frey arguing that the famous red-and-blue electoral map is misleading -- there are really three Americas, not two. The real divisions are between the new, fast-growing suburbs in the South and Southwest, the "melting pot states" (California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois), and the overwhelmingly white and slow-growing heartland, which consists of everybody else -- including New England, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the upper Midwest.

How these cultural divisions translate politically is hard to discern. As Brooks notes, Texas doesn't vote like California and New York. And Massachusetts doesn't vote like Indiana. But I like the way Frey seems to be offering an alternative to the "it's-only-about-urban-versus-rural" account of voting patterns.
White House flack Ari Fleisher is said to be furious at the Washington Post for revealing that he and his fiance are registered at Target. According to October's Washingtonian, he called Post editors and complained about the "serious invasion of privacy." Apparently he got a lot of grief from friends about being registered at such a low-brow establishment and has also signed up at Macy's and Crate & Barrel.

I resent this! I love Target!
Jenna and Barbara Bush turn 21 on November 25. The New York Daily News reports they're planning a cowboy-and-Indian themed party, to be held at their parents' Crawford, TX ranch. And "the saloon will be open."
Not only will Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rod Blagojevich likely be living in the governor's mansion in six months, he'll have a new baby.
Movie Quote of the Day:
"This is a four thousand dollar sofa upholstered in Italian silk. It is not just a couch."
"IT'S JUST A COUCH!"
~ American Beauty

Song of the Day:
Britney Spears, "Lucky"

Happy Birthday:
F. Scott Fitzgerald
John Marshall
Jim Henson
Linda McCartney
Phil Hartman

Monday, September 23, 2002

Understanding other cultures is no easy feat, says P.J. O'Rourke. After all, he himself was born and raised in the United States, and much of American culture still baffles him:

"How could the same small part of America vote for Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Clinton? How could any part of America elect a professional wrestler as governor? Why isn't he noticeably worse than other governors? Why is the fastest-growing spectator sport in America watching cars turn left? How come I've never heard of anyone -- Linkin Park, Big Tymers, Musiq -- on the Billboard Top 50? Why can't they spell? By what means did the Amazon.com list of best sellers come to contain The Wisdom of Menopause, Self Matters, Look Great Naked, and BodyChange -- the last by someone called Montel Williams, who is on daytime TV? Have you ever watched daytime TV? Who are these people taking DNA tests to see which one molested the Rottweiler?"

The piece, from The Atlantic, is actually about O'Rourke's trip to Egypt.
Yet more evidence of increasing respect for intelligence? The new Miss America is a Republican and a future Harvard Law student.
Far from breaking news, but here and here are two basic, but interesting, pieces on where the United States Supreme Court may be going.
Volokh links to one of the latest contributions to the debate on "diversity" in politics. John Rosenberg argues that the stance of certain Hispanic political groups is contrary to a desire for actual "diversity" and more one for "political conformity." While I don't agree that minority or woman politicians (and judges) who are conservative cannot be representative of their particular "groups" because they are conservative, the conservative uproar over "diversity" always strikes me as ridiculous. Why must minority groups see diversity as strictly numerical diversity in demographics? Isn't diversity of viewpoints also "diversity"? Why does it suddenly transform into this bogeyman concept of "political conformity"?
I wasn't going to link to the march that occurred in the English countryside yesterday, but then I saw Instapundit's link, which was reason enough. Of all the things to march for, fox-hunting is not at the top of my list. I do, though, see the underlying issues. And I say that with a totally straight face.
Update on leaf-peeping: the Forest Service is providing updates on foliage coloration. For those with phone-phobia or who are inherently anti-government, the Washington Post has a week-by-week break-down of the change in colors here.
News sites top porn sites in workplace popularity! More evidence of a value on thinking?
Quote of the Day:
"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
~ Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb

Song of the Day:
Depeche Mode, "Enjoy the Silence"

Happy Birthday:
Augustus Caesar
Ray Charles
Julio Iglesias
Bruce Springsteen

A study shows "Fearless Kids Said to Make the Best Athletes." How is this not extraordinarily obvious?
Instapundit links to a comment on anti-intellectualism in the United States. Interestingly, I had just been thinking the other day about how prime time television had taken a recent turn toward intellectualism. This is not the same "public intellectual"-ism at issue in Instapundit's post, but there does seem to be a recent fad in "smart" television. The West Wing and all of the crime-solving programming, such as CSI, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and the rash of new shows this fall (Missing Persons Unit, Robbery Homicide Division), seem to place a high value on thinking that previously was not there. Moreover, shows like Alias showcase complicated plot lines--not to mention that it is a show about the Central Intelligence Agency.

One take on this is that Matt Welch is right. The anti-intellectualism is really "a democratization of public/intellectual debate." The average American is feeling smarter, or at least wants to feel smarter, and she is making that known through her remote control.
Lead paint is providing more ammunition for environmentalists who are considering a lawsuit over global warming. Despite the serious obstacles, I don't think it's a question of whether a suit will be possible (at some point), but whether that point in time will arrive before global warming makes the suit moot.

The lawsuits filed by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth against the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation are an inkling of what's to come. The island nation of Tuvalu has already threatened a suit against auto manufacturers.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Movie Quote of the Day:
"Prepare ship for light speed!"
"No, no, no, light speed is too slow!"
"Light speed, too slow?!"
"Yes, we're gonna have to go right to... ludicrous speed!"
"Ludicrous speed? Sir, we've never gone that fast before. I don't know if the ship can take it."
"What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?"
~ Spaceballs

Song of the Day:
Sheena Easton, "For Your Eyes Only"

Happy Birthday:
Joan Jett
Tommy Lasorda
Yang Chen Ning
David Stern

Saturday, September 21, 2002

It's really a shame. The Republican Party in Illinois has followed the path of those multi-generational wealthy families. It's become complacent over time and as a consequence, rotten to the core. From Roll Call:
Joining death and taxes as two inevitabilities in life is now a third: a Republican debacle in Illinois this November.



The Democratic victory in the Land of Lincoln is expected to be so overwhelming that it is raising questions about the GOP's ability to hold a downstate Congressional seat that it ought to win. And it raises doubts about both the state's long-term competitiveness and whether Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald will be able to survive his re-election bid in 2004.



In other words, we may be seeing Illinois go the way of California in terms of political noncompetitiveness
And we may be seeing the Republican Party in Illinois going the way of the dodo. And to think, the Speaker of the House is a Republican from Illinois. Illinois will also be losing a significant check on the Democratic machine that is Chicago--specifically, Daley.
From the Washington Post on the Kindergarten Cop: "So what about a write-in candidacy this year? Schwarzenegger has clearly dismissed it, despite an increased buzz of late propelled by pollsters."
The Washingtonian's annual "Best and Worst of Congress" survey is out. The top three "biggest windbags" in the Senate are all Democrats. The three "best dressed" are Republicans.
Quote of the Day:
"It is through words that we can give pain or pleasure to each other. And because of this -- and every historian worth his salt ought to know this -- the choice of the word is not only a matter of accuracy, not only an aesthetic choice, it is a moral choice. It is a moral choice how I describe something that has happened."
~ John Lucaks

Song of the Day:
Blink 182, "All the Small Things"

Happy Birthday:
Larry Hagman
Helen Hawkins
Hamilton Jordan
Stephen King
Bill Murray
H.G. Wells
Vanilla coke is terrible. Spoons beat me to this and says exactly what I would have posted.

Friday, September 20, 2002

I just had a conversation with a fellow editor here at the Law Journal in which he described a piece as "not terrible." Lily and I had an extended discussion this summer about the use of "not" when her boss disapproved of the phrase "not bad" (or something like that). The thing is, "Not bad" definitely has its own meaning for which there is a time and a place.

The literal equivalent of "not bad" is good. In strict mathematical terms, "not" indicates the opposite. In the context of "not bad" or "not ugly" and other like phrases, however, "not" is being used somewhat differently. To continue the mathematical analogy, "not" is more closely approximated by the "greater than" or "less than" symbols. On a number line, it would be the open circle, rather than the closed circle. By "not bad," I intend to indicate that something is good, without committing to good itself. The linguistic equivalent to good, on the other hand, would be "greater than or equal to" or, on a number line, a filled circle.

It seems to me that those who have a knee-jerk resistance to "not bad" are reacting to the double negative. Consider, perhaps, that math teachers also probably once told you never to subtract a bigger number from a smaller number, yet you probably do that all the time. The U.S. government certainly does.

For a much more fascinating linguistic discussion, see Volokh here and here.
The children of the world (and all those adults who probably eat Kellog's Frosted Flakes) can breath a sigh of relief. Harry Potter has been cleared of all charges. "Rowling said the stress of the U.S. lawsuit had hindered her progress on the long-awaited fifth installment of the multimillion-selling Potter series." Well, let's see it then. I mean, yeah yeah, congratulations on your pregnancy, but where is the next book? I need my fix.

What do the owls think of this?
A federal judge has certified a nationwide punitive-damage class-action suit against the tobacco industry.

The environmentalist community has tossed around the idea of a class action suit for global warming. The success of the tobacco suits have been pivotal in spurring this movement forward. It is obviously plagued with huge problems, not the least of which is the question of causation, but perhaps the more interesting of which are the questions of who the defendants and plaintiffs would be. How will the fast food suit play into this? Here is a good posting on that case.

In very related news, Australian scientists claim that the ozone layer is replenishing itself. I thought I was having trouble getting a tan. Those damn environmentalists. I'll make sure I throw my next aluminum can in the trash.
As if relationships weren't hard enough, a research team at the University of Nottingham reports that "[i]f a spouse suffers from asthma, depression, peptic ulcers, high blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels, the chances are their partner will be afflicted with the same illness." Sounds a bit like how dogs and their owners start to resemble each other.

In other relationship news, here's a nominee for obvious statement of the day:
By midnight, drunken young men scuffle in the red dust as others urge them on. Their suits are sodden with beer and rum, and some have ripped shirts. This behavior is what some women believe keeps the Outback bachelors from finding lifelong partners.
Hmm...
Maggie Gallagher wrote a column about Harvard Law's change in policy. I'm not so sure it's totally gutless to bow to economic realities. Whatever happened to choosing one's battles? If one wants to protest the military's policy by refusing recruitment, there are plenty of other ways to act without putting federal NIH funding at risk.

This issue and the recent Boston Archidiocese settlements remind me of the man who protests daily in front of the Vatican Embassy in Washington D.C. There's something to be said for persistence and conviction, but there's also something to be said for efficacy.
The Kitchen Cabinet was not able to send a representive to Wednesday's town-hall meeting at Yale Law School on the issue of military recruiting on campus. (See background here.) But reports indicate it was fairly low-key -- much less contentious than last year's town-hall meetings on faculty diversity, which got pretty acrimonious. Most students and faculty agree that the military's policy of discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is bad (I don't think I've heard a single person argue the other way, although I'm sure there are a few out there), so basically everybody starts on the same page. No final word yet on how Yale will respond to the Army's demands. I still predict capitulation!

One course of action some students are promoting is for the law school to cancel all official on-campus interviewing this fall and let students and firms contact each other on their own. This might make sense in the abstract, but it won't happen. Career placement is a hugely important part of what law schools do these days. YLS is not just going to throw up its hands and get out that business over this.

One more note. I was talking to a professor about the situation yesterday, and he said something I found either completely incomprehensible or very revealing: "It's amazing to me that, in this climate, they're picking on law schools." I'm not 100% sure what he meant, but if by "they" he meant the military, and if by "in this climate" he meant the post-September-11, war-on-terrorism climate... huh?
Reader PA challenges whether muslim (and I'll add arab) Americans have been treated in a Korematsu-esque way in the recent past. That depends entirely upon one's interpretation of "Korematsu-esque." My use of the term is meant to refer to the mindset and behavior that led to and supported the Korematsu decision. People of a similar background--in that particular case, of a similar racial complexion--faced a negative, anti-American presumption that was defended with language of efficiency, urgency, and national security. Post 9/11 that mindset seemed to return. Many muslim Americans have changed their "Arabic-sounding" names to avoid further harassment.

There certainly hasn't been anything that matches the outrageous facts of the Korematsu case. We haven't had wholesale herding of arab Americans into quarantine camps. But "Korematsu-esque" need not imply that. As far as I know, the term has no real definition.
Americans need not feel alone in our geographical incompetence. New Zealand school children have joined our students in their cartographic blindness. A survey by the National Education Monitoring Project found that "two out of three 8- and 9-year-old New Zealanders can't locate their own country on the globe."

It occurs to me that this might not be such a problem. If you never leave your country, not knowing where your country is seems similar to not knowing your home phone number. And for reasons that continue to escape my understanding, "why would I know my phone number? It's not like I call myself," has always been an acceptable excuse.

Perhaps we are too hard on our kids. After all, Michael Jordan spent his time at the University of North Carolina studying geography. This elementary school has taken that to heart.

In other news from that region, farmers in Australia are holding a sheep counting competition, which one farmer points out is "pretty tough." I won't dispute that--it's not a question of difficulty, it's a question of why.
The "M College BB" button on the ESPN.com menu-bar has turned a lovely golden color. This means that the start of the college basketball season is not far away -- another happy thing about fall.

Over in the NBA, my favorite Memphis Grizzly just got engaged.
Dole-Bowles election race update: A reader from North Carolina reports that she hasn't seen the anti-Bowles ad I posted about yesterday. What she's seeing are lots of pro-Bowles ads about how the Republicans are in the pockets of the evil, job-snatching Chinese.
Twelve women from North Carolina's Libertarian Party, including six candidates for the state House of Representatives, have posed for their own pin-up calendar. This is the kind of thing that makes libertarians roll their eyes at Libertarians.
Quote of the Day:
"Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water."
~ W.C. Fields

Song of the Day:
The Platters, "Earth Angel"

Happy Birthday:
Red Auerbach
Sophia Loren
Upton Sinclair
Uncanny. My recent odes to email informality coincided with the 20th birthday of the emoticon. I never knew there was a dictionary of smileys. Guess it must be all that snooty ivy league education. :<) Now we know that this guy B-) is probably not Chinese.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

An example of why blogs need editors.

Instapundit takes my stream of consciousness post here and makes a very valid point. But he's done what was my original intent, which was to revive these articles from whence they'd been buried. Thanks, Instapundit.
Thoughts today about 9/11 (here on Instapundit and here on Volokh) got me thinking about the past year and the Korematsu-esque nature of how muslim Americans were being treated. This reminded me of two striking (and laughable) examples of racial profiling that have somehow nearly disappeared from the public eye.

Two weeks after Pearl Harbor, both Time and Life magazines responded to the outrage over Japanese aggression with "rule[s]-of-thumb from the anthropometric conformations that distinguish friendly Chinese from enemy alien Japs." Both of them are ridiculous, offering some rules that are purportedly grounded in phyical characteristics ("Some Chinese are tall. Virtually all Japanese are short"; Chinese have "parchment yellow complexion," while Japanese have "earthy yellow complexion") and others that are not purportedly grounded in anything ("Most Chinese avoid horn-rimmed spectacles"). Even more outrageous is the plain bias in the photography, more apparent in the Time piece than in the Life piece, where the Japanese have clearly been photographed to appear threatening, while the Chinese are "more placid, kindly, open."

What is more amazing about these articles than their outlandish content is the fact that they are extraordinarily hard to find (both in print and on the Internet) and are not very well known. Time has officially labeled their piece a "regret."

UPDATE: What does "Korematsu-esque" mean?
It could be bad to be too clean. I remember reading once that Singapore was being studied because people there seemed to have higher levels of asthma and other illnesses. At the time, the phenomenon was attributed to the excessive cleanliness in Singapore having reduced the strength of Singaporean immune systems.

Pig Pen's had it right from the start.
Teachers also don't seem to appreciate the refreshing informality that has resulted from email and similar technologies. Having once taught math, however, I can understand the frustration.

The mathematical analogue to the problem facing English language instructors is today's young students' increasing reliance on calculators. I am a strong advocate of basic mental math, as well as teaching first principles. Unfortunately, the rote math skills v. calculator debate is not as easy as it once may have been. As calculators become more complicated and more powerful, there is a stronger argument that the ability to make a calculator solve a particluar problem is as useful, if not more useful, than knowing how to solve a problem by hand. Something is still lost, though. A student who is able to manipulate a complex graphing calculator may be developing the same quantitative skills as the student who can work the quadratic formula by hand and knows it by heart. I noticed and believe, however, that the latter student has a greater ability to synthesize and adapt while solving math problems. The explanation seems simple: The calculator-reliant student is learning first how to use the calculator, whereas the second student is simply learning the math. It's like learning how to drive. I think everyone should learn to drive in an automatic--that way you are just learning how to drive, not also learning how to work a stick shift car. You can learn how to work a stick later, once you've already mastered the art of driving. The same goes for calculators. I don't have anything against calculators per se--in fact, these new fangled graphing monsters are quite helpful for visualizing problems that previously could only be visualized by spacially talented students or very good artists. I just think the math should be learned first; the calculator is a supplement to, not a replacement for, math skills.
Smithfield, Virginia is celebrating the 250th anniversary of its founding by baking (erecting?) a one-ton ham biscuit. Four hundred and fifty pounds of ham will be sandwiched inside a giant biscuit made of 468 pounds of flour, 33 pounds of baking powder, 12 ounces of baking soda, 6 1/2 pounds of salt, 47 pounds of butter, 47 pounds of lard, and 47gallons of buttermilk.

Original plans called for the megabiscuit to be cut into 1,752 individual servings, signifying Smithfield's founding date of 1752, but the new scheme is for the biscuit to be preserved and donated to the town's "future ham museum."

"I am as excited about this as about a man going to the moon," said Betty Thomas, marketing assistant for the event.
I'll be watching the race for retiring NC Senator Jesse Helms's seat carefully this fall. Republican Elizabeth Dole is running against former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has put out an ad making clear their overall strategy: tie Bowles to his former boss. Here's the script (via the Hotline):

"Erskine Bowles and his allies are shameless. ... Attacking Elizabeth Dole after telling us he wanted to run a clean campaign. Distorting her record on Social Security. Where did Erskine Bowles learn his negative tactics? Bill Clinton's White House. Truth is, Erskine Bowles supported Bill Clinton's 1993 tax increase on Social Security. Making it tough for seniors to make ends meet. Tell Erskine Bowles his Clinton style attacks have no place in North Carolina."

Political ads are so much fun! Question: why do they always seem to be aimed at the absolute dumbest, most gullible voter? Most other advertising isn't like this. Even fast-food and beer ads usually seem targeted to appeal to people with at least some minimal ability to appreciate and respond to humor, irony, understatement, etc. Political advertising is so crude in contrast. Is it FEC regulations? Incompetent political consultants? Or is the average voter really less sophisticated than the average Burger King patron?

Adlai Stevenson memorably refused to be "sold like a bar of soap" in his political campaigns, but it seems to me we've come a long way from the days when political packaging was classier and higher-minded than other sales pitches. Soap ads today are way more sophisticated than political ads.
For anyone even remotely familiar with the history of Asia, the warming relations between Japan and Korea are huge news. For anyone who hasn't had their head in the sand or been living in a cave, the developing reconciliation of the Koreas is of some note. They're removing mines in the DMZ!

In other groundbreaking Asian news, the First Lady of Taiwan is visiting Washington D.C. If past behavior is any precedent, China will bluster some about this soon. At least they don't block Google and Alta Vista in Taiwan.
Stephanopoulos daddy-watch, week two: George changes a diaper.
Not really why we're the Kitchen Cabinet, but a fitting coincidence. Don't miss the warning about the coming horde of libertarians.
Arnold update! Kausfiles comments on Schwarzenegger's non-denial yesterday that he's planning a write-in candidacy for CA governor. Kaus is already sick of typing the name and is referring to the maybe-candidate as "Schxxxxxxxxx."
Movie Quote of the Day:
"I used to box for Oxford."
"Oh yeah? Well, I used to kill for the CIA."
~ A Fish Called Wanda

Song of the Day:
LMNT, "Juliet"

Happy Birthday:
William Golding
Jeremy Irons
Leon Jaworski
I love the fall. Time for leaf-peeping! I actually love the fact that I've been in New England long enough to feel native. I haven't outgrown my Midwestern roots, but at least I know better than to say, "The maples are the big ones," when being interviewed by the AP.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Instapundit doesn't understand a refusal to capitalize. I'm actually quite a fan of only using lower case, which unfortunately makes me a poor student of German. My fetish definitely began when I discovered email. If memory serves, my use of lower case was directly related to my sad typing ability.

I've kept up the habit, however, because I find the informality refreshing. Email has replaced much of my previously spoken thought--like many others, I will call usually only when email has been unsuccessful--and it just doesn't seem like people speak in capital letters. Ever. Unless they're shouting, in which case the typewritten equivalent would be all capitals.
What is a hate crime?

The South China Morning Post reports that in South Africa a black man accused of stealing from a shop was painted white. Is it relevant that he was painted white? What if the alleged perpetrators hate him for being black, but only have blue paint on hand? To be sure, the police would question the accused in either circumstance to determine their precise motives. However, isn't it our gut reaction to think "hate crime" because a black man was painted white? This discussion, unfortunately, is moot for the particular man because "hate crimes" do not exist under South African law.
Speaking of Big Brother, China's recent blocking of Google and Alta Vista marks "the first time a domain name has been deliberately diverted for purposes of maintaining government control." TechNews.com reported: "According to sources with knowledge of the decision, China's leaders opted to block Google indefinitely after discovering that a search using the name of China's president, Jiang Zemin, yields a trove of articles from Chinese-language newspapers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States that are not allowed to circulate here."

The Ad Council asks us: "What if America wasn't America?" Indeed. What if America was China? Maybe the deprived Chinese citizens can tell me what we did before email.
Maybe this will prod our slacker sister Abby into posting. Kausfiles reports on the "the political scoop of the day": Arnold Schwarzenegger may run for California governor as an independent write-in candidate in this election cycle. There were rumors he'd run in '06, but major party candidates Gray Davis and Bob Simon are both looking so weak that Conan the Republican might be able to steal the election this November. The upside of an out-of-nowhere write-in campaign, notes Kaus, is that it doesn't leave much time for voters to be reminded about those rumors of Schwarzenegger's "loutish and womanizing behavior." This way, he gets till the October 22 filing deadline to waffle about it -- after which the election is just three weeks away.
Another event at Yale Law School today. It's a hotbed of activity! (Just think how busy I'd be if I actually went to class!) If any of our readers out there are interested and can make it to New Haven tonight by 7:30, Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online will be debating Michael Lynch of Reason at YLS on the topic "Civil Liberties After 9/11: Libertarians Versus Conservatives." It's in room 127. There's even free pizza! The debate is sponsored by the Federalist Society and ISI.
Spineless or not, Yale Law School does have to seriously consider that most of Yale's federal funding does not go to the Law School. That chips significantly away at any moral high ground. Add to that the fact that most of the federal funding is going towards research at the Yale Medical School. I've always been a fan of medical research.

See Yale's financial report here.
Reader JCH has worked in an undergraduate career-placement office and weighs in on the issue of military recruiting:

"What I found interesting was that the military recruiters... actually had a list of all undergraduates and were able to send them emails (pretty annoying ones, and multiple times) to try to get them to come work for them. This after the Career Center was not allowed to send emails to any list of more than 100 students without getting permission from the [student body] president or the VP of Student Affairs."

Yale Law School also gives military recruiters have access to student contact information. I've gotten stuff in the mail from the JAG Corps on multiple occasions. But Yale still runs afoul of the Solomon Amendment for failing to give the military the same access it gives to other employers -- namely, slots in the law school's on-campus interview program.
The Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings today on the nomination of University of Utah law professor Michael McConnell to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. President Bush nominated McConnell 16 months ago.

OpinionJournal.com links to several of McConnell's past essays in the Wall Street Journal. Particularly interesting is a McConnell op-ed from July 1988 urging presidential candidates Bush I and Michael Dukakis to make future Supreme Court appointments with an eye toward the candidate's expertise in economic matters. Some of the names McConnell was throwing around fourteen years ago: Amalya Kearse, Patricia Wald, Abner Mikva, Danny Boggs and Kenneth Starr. (Frank Easterbrook and Richard Posner are probably too controversial, he writes.) And the subtitle of the piece? "A good choice for President Dukakis: Stephen Breyer."

There are also McConnell pieces on assisted suicide, Roe v. Wade, campaign finance reform, and Bush v. Gore.
Speaking of Yalies who have something to say, Yale 3L Adam Haslett has made a phenomenal climb up the NY Times bestseller list with his debut book of short stories, You Are Not a Stranger Here. When the book first came out, I remember being impressed that it ranked between 1,000 and 2,000 on the Amazon sales chart. It now ranks 222. Haslett received a wonderful review from the NY Times. He gave an interesting interview to the Yale Law School. Most comforting to mortals like myself is the fact that even bestsellers like Haslett find "the writing process . . . laborious, and slow, and totally unpredictable." His estimate of four years total work for the nine short stories in You Are Not a Stranger Here inspires me to think more and post less.

Yale 3L Michael Johnston has also recently added a few pages to the world library in his book about Teach for America, In the Deep Heart's Core.
Quote of the Day:
"Provided it be well and truly made there is really for the confirmed turophile no such thing as a bad cheese. A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk's leap toward immortality."
~ Clifton Fadiman

Song of the Day:
Jill Phillips, "Every Day"

Happy Birthday:
Frankie Avalon
Robert Blake
Greta Garbo
Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

I saw another one of those patriotic ads ("Freedom. Appreciate It. Cherish It. Protect It.") and finally got around to looking up that mysterious organization behind the ads, the Ad Council. It turns out they are the same people who brought us "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste," "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk," "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," and other memorable public service messages. They call this their "Campaign for Freedom." Who knew? Not me.

What troubles me about their ads is the fact that I didn't know who they were and particularly, for what they stood. I'm all for patriotism, but these ads aren't just about patriotism. They have a significant slant to them--namely, watch out for Big Brother. Now Big Brother is certainly unAmerican, but the message becomes considerably less scary when we know that it shares a cubbyhole with Smokey the Bear. That is to say, it is one thing when the people who tell me to "Take a Bite Out of Crime" ask me to watch out for Big Brother and quite another thing when the ACLU does. In the latter case, I'm looking in the rear view mirror for Ashcroft being closer than he appears.

Why isn't the Ad Council more active about publicizing who they are? The success of their public service ads shows they are perfectly capable of conveying a message and making it stick. I can't see what they have to gain from remaining in the shadows. Maybe it's because they don't know what they stand for. Their mission "is to identify a select number of significant public issues and stimulate action on those issues through communications programs that make a measurable difference in our society." I get nothing from that. In fact, I even feel dumber.
Forbes is out with a 20th-anniversary edition of its annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Paul Allen are the top three, and numbers four through eight are Waltons, with Larry Ellison and Steve Ballmer rounding out the top ten.

The magazine celebrates the volatility of the list: only 58 people have managed to stay on the roster for all 20 years. And in 1982, 13% of the list came from a mere three families: 11 Hunts, 14 Rockefellers and 28 du Ponts. This year's list has one Hunt, three Rockefellers, and no du Ponts.
The Baltimore Sun reports on a Mason-Dixon poll showing Democratic gubernatorial nominee Kathleen Kennedy Townsend trailing Republican nominee Robert Ehrlich 46 to 43 percent. That's within the margin of error, but still a bad sign for Kennedy Townsend -- Maryland's a heavily Democratic state.

The Weekly Standard is hopeful that KKT's troubles are a sign that "[t]he curtain may be starting to close on Camelot."

Phenomenal.

Environmentalists have tried for years to save the owls, and it turns out what they really needed was an international children's bestseller. The Defenders of Wildlife have seen the light, thanking the "hugely popular Harry Potter books."
The Yale Law School, an institution dear to our hearts here at the Kitchen Cabinet, is having a town-hall meeting tomorrow afternoon to discuss its non-discrimination policy as it relates to military recruiting. The law school currently requires prospective employers who recruit on campus to sign a statement guaranteeing that they don't discriminate on the basis of "age, color, handicap or disability, ethnic or national origin, race, religion, religious creed, gender (including discrimination taking the form of sexual harassment), marital, parental, or veteran status, sexual orientation, or the prejudice of clients." Because openly gay and bisexual people are barred from military service, military recruiters can't sign this statement and thus have been barred from YLS's on-campus-interview program.

Now the Army is using newly aggressive enforcement of a 1996 law known as the Solomon Amendment, which denies federal grants and contracts to schools that refuse to grant access to military recruiters, to put pressure on Yale and other law schools. Harvard Law School caved last month when the Air Force threatened to go after Harvard University's annual $328 million in federal funds. (Interestingly, although that $328 million represents about 16% of the university's operating budget, very little of it actually goes to Harvard Law School.) "[M]ost of us reluctantly accept the reality that this University cannot afford the loss of federal funds,” said HLS Dean Robert Clark in a memo announcing the decision.

At Yale, the situation is similar: at stake is appoximately $350 million in federal funding, almost none of which goes to the law school. All indications are that YLS will bow to what must be intense pressure from other entities at Yale and allow the recruiters to come to campus. Assuming that's the case, tomorrow's meeting is pretty meaningless -- just an opportunity for students to vent and administrators to explain that they really have no choice. But however meaningless, we will update you!

If I were making the call, I'd think about the thirty-year-rule: How boneheaded/spineless/evil will this course of action look thirty years from now? My best guess is that "don't ask, don't tell" will be history within the next decade, and in thirty years military service by openly gay men and women will be be fairly commonplace and uncontroversial. So, for better or worse, the likely decision (and the one that looks the most sensible and pragmatic today) will probably seem rather spineless (though not evil) in retrospect.
Quote of the Day:
"It is an important thing, in our never-ending pursuit of happiness, to stop and just be happy for a while."
~ Mark Twain

Song of the Day:
Alanis Morrisette, "Head over Feet"

Happy Birthday:
James Brady
Warren Burger
Phil Jackson
David Souter
Hank Williams

Monday, September 16, 2002

What did we do before email? The author of a study done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that college students are using the Internet "like they would any utility -- water, telephones, television." I honestly cannot recall what I did to procrastinate before I was able to check email twenty times a day.

This does seem to fly in the face of recent Internet nay-sayers who have argued that the collapse of the dot.com bubble, the failure of other on-line services, and the prevalence of pornography on the Internet are evidence that the Internet has not revolutioned life. As Steve Jones, the author of the study, said, "This is an interesting generation because they were born and grew up at a time when the personal computer was a household item. And they are going to take these expectations about the Internet with them when they graduate." They certainly don't know what we did before email.

A question that is not often enough debated is whether the government should subsidize computers, or at least provide public access to them. The issue takes a significant turn if computers--as a gateway to the Internet--are truly a utility. This poses an additional question. Which is the utility? The computer or the Internet, or both?
Of all the bloggers who complain about the New York Times, Mickey Kaus is my favorite. Today his example of "creeping Zabarism" is the NYT Magazine's description of New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici as a "hard line conservative." A mere four years ago the NYT op-ed page had Domenici pegged as a moderate.
Yesterday was the debut of George Stephanopoulos as host of ABC's This Week. Howie Kurtz pronounces him "serious, substantive and smooth," though bland and opinion-less. I thought the new set looked a little cheesy, and the little "TW" on-screen logo seemed daytime-TV-ish. George Will is keeping his long-time role as a panelist, and Nightline's Michel Martin will also be a permanent part of the weekly roundtable. I wish they would return to the old days where Will got to grill the guests too.

And what's up with the name of Stephanopoulos's baby daughter, born last week? Elliott Anastasia... I hope they're planning to call her Ellie.
Quote of the Day:
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
~ Oscar Wilde

Song of the Day:
Paul Simon, "Born at the Right Time"

Happy Birthday:
Henry V
Lauren Bacall
Nadia Boulanger
Caroline Charles
Dennis Connor
B.B. King
J.C. Penney