Monday, October 14, 2002

The USA Today op-ed page has weighed in on the new federal guidelines for pharmaceutical gift-giving to doctors. I stand by what I said, well over a week ago.
Apparently, there has been a raging debate on NRO about "crunchy conservatism." (Click here and scroll down.) I like this column by Jonah Goldberg, who is suspicious of any political movement that dictates the "right" tastes in food and clothing. And this follow-up, where he hits the nail on the head: "The kind of shirt you wear, the sort of food you eat, and the kind of music you listen to should be as irrelevant in the voting booth as your eye color."

On a related note, I get so annoyed when people I barely know try to have long conversations with me about what I eat and don't eat, and for what political/societal/health reasons. I always feel as if they're simultaneously invading my privacy and boring me to death. And I'll never forget the tedious conversation I had with a classmate last year: she went on and on about how she ate no sugar -- no fruit, even. All this while she gulped a glass of white wine.
Quote of the Day:
"Governments never learn. Only people learn."
~ Milton Friedman

Song of the Day:
Peter Gabriel, "In Your Eyes"

Happy Birthday:
Hannah Arendt
e.e. cummings
John W. Dean III
Dwight Eisenhower
Ralph Lauren
Isaac Mizrahi
Roger Moore
William Penn
John Wooden

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Quote of the Day:
"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail."
~ Gore Vidal

Song of the Day:
The Temptations, "My Girl"

Happy Birthday:
Janna Hansen
Nancy Kerrigan
Paul Simon
Margaret Thatcher

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Movie Quote of the Day:
"Don't talk to me about contracts, Wonka. I use them myself – they're strictly for suckers."
~ Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Song of the Day:
Van Halen, "Right Now"

Happy Birthday:
Edward VI
Luciano Pavarotti

Friday, October 11, 2002

It's a big, big night in sports.

But some people have better things to do than romp around in fancy-schmancy new stadiums in the middle of the night.

The 24th annual Turkey Testicle Festival is this weekend in Byron, Illinois. Three hundred sixty pounds of testicles will be deep-fried as Byron's own Testilett Dancers sing the "Turkey Testicle Song."
An excellent Op-ed in USA Today about the SAT.
Here's a look at the practical ramifications of the Eldred v. Ashcroft case that is before the Supreme Court this term. Volokh takes a crack at predicting how the Court will come down on this landmark copyright case.
Kids want respect. Will that always be so difficult for adults to understand? A study of health information leaflet presentation found that doctors thought adolescents would prefer to read "comic book" style information while adolescents overwhelmingly stated they wanted clear, factual presentation.

How is it that when we get older we forget all the perspective we had as children? We are so often told by our elders that we can't understand something until we've experienced it. Frequently, parents don't lecture, but wait for their children to experience something for themselves, because the latter is clearly more effective. For some reason, however, that logic fails to follow completely through. Adolescents and young adults know what it is their parents do that upset them or alienate them. Yet, we don't see the next generation of parents acting that much better. Rather, we see them repeating the same mistakes, driving their children away in the same manner that their parents drove them away. Do we pass some magical age after which we become dumb again?
I love the environment. Love owls, love trees, love clean air. That said, does it really take the media to tell us that sitting in trees is a dumb way to protest?

In other environmental news, global warming may have taken two lives.
Why women are better than men: reason #127.

It turns out that as people age, men are the limiting reagent on good sex.
Wireless printing still has problems.

It won't, however, always have problems. And when it becomes feasible, it will add fuel to an on-going debate that I have been having with some friends about access to the Internet. Will the government provide computers through which the public will have free access to the Internet and to printing? Perhaps the government (or a benevolent private entity) will provide universal wireless access to the Internet and to printing. The computer itself must be provided by the user. There are, I think, very good arguments for the latter over the former if the underlying goal is access to the Internet rather than access to computing.

Regardless, one or the other will happen. You heard it here first.
China Watch:More bans and regulations applied to Internet cafes.

While I'd usually have a snide, sarcastic remark here, I'm plum out. So fill in your own. In the meantime, here's what I think, uncensored and unplugged: China sucks.
Movie Quote of the Day:
"You know what I want to hear."
"No, I don't."
"You played it for her, you can play it for me!"
"Well, I don't think I can remember--"
"If she can stand it, I can! Play it!"
~ Casablanca

Song of the Day:
Pet Shop Boys, "Always on My Mind"

Happy Birthday:
Grace Lin
Jerome Robbins
Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, October 10, 2002

This story from the Onion: "Affable Anti-Semite Thinks The Jews Are Doing Super Job With The Media"
PLANO, TX—Henry McCullers, an affable Plano-area anti-Semite, praised the Jewish people Monday for doing "a bang-up job" running the media. "This has been such a great year for movies, and the new crop of fall TV shows looks to be one of the best in years," McCullers said. "And the cable news channels are doing a terrific job, too. Admittedly, they're not reporting on the Jewish stranglehold on world finance, but, hey, that's understandable."
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly has declared that "the most unattractive women in the world are probably in the Muslim countries."

"You can't see them," O'Reilly told Stuff magazine. "So you are assuming that, if [they're] dressed head to toe in black and I can only see eyebrows, there's something going on."

In fact, O'Reilly has very specific preferences. "Well, the most beautiful women in the world are located in two countries: Norway and Thailand," he said. "It's just a matter of genetics. You have the Norwegians: They are blond and blue-eyed. They are healthy. They are tall and Viking-esque. In Thailand, it's just a very elegant look."

In a shocking development, O'Reilly also said "I could be wrong."
Blogcritics has a notice about a PBS documentary on Liberia. Liberia is an interesting country, and one which deserves some exposition. I will write more later on this country that the documentary calls "America's stepchild." That phrase does not do the situation justice. "Forgotten stepchild" is still not adequate, but much warmer.
I'll admit it. I am the bearer of weird scientific studies.

Here's another one: A study has found that receiving an apology is good for one's health.
I didn't see last night's "Law & Order," but Time's Matt Cooper files this report on the Hotline:

Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), who plays Arthur Branch, the GA-bred, strict constructionist, Manhattan D.A. had a minimal role. As the L&O crew go after a love-struck teen murderer (who turns out to be a psycho adult merely posing as a high school student), Thompson utters one memorable line, calling the plea bargain the greatest legal development "since the guillotine." Memo to Scalia: at one point, Thompson's character chides the Supreme Court for only quoting him in a footnote. For those who haven't been following the Senator's reemergence as an actor, he's now a regular on the NBC series. The show's credits use his full name, Fred Dalton Thompson. L&O aficionados will note that he lacks the gruffness of longtime D.A. Adam Schiff (played by Arthur Hill) who was probably best known for curtly telling his attorneys to "settle the case," or the academic bonhomie of Dianne Wiest, who had the D.A. job the last two seasons. No one ever explains how someone with Thompson's drawl would get elected Manhattan D.A. We do know that Branch is to the right of his predecessors. In a previous episode where Thompson/Branch argue that the D.A.'s office shouldn't object to having a Muslim defendant be given a Muslim attorney, Sam Waterson's character, Jack McCoy, chimes in "You'd better be careful, Arthur, or they'll take back your invitation to the Strict Constructionist's Ball." Stay tuned.
Cell phones don't cause cancer, they make you faster mathematicians!

Hmm... Seen John Travlota in Phenomenon? If you haven't seen it, I'm going to ruin it for you. He became an absolute genius overnight... because he got a brain tumor! Cell phones make you faster mathematicians? Coinicidence? I think not.
Another triumph for Harry Potter.
[A] new independent report "Presence and Prophecy" commissioned by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CBTI) said on Wednesday the stories posed some serious theological questions and were an example of the type of popular culture Christians should embrace. "We're not trying to Christianize Harry Potter," Simon Barrow, CBTI Assistant General Secretary told Reuters on Wednesday. "But the books deal with serious, adult issues -- the struggle for love, truth and self-giving sacrifice for others."
And I thought they were just cute, funny little books.
Lemon juice as a contraceptive:
[U]sing lemon juice as a contraceptive was not a new idea but it had fallen by the wayside over the years. The ancient douche-style contraceptive was encouraged by such luminaries as Casanova, renowned for his sexual prowess.
Well, if luminaries like Casanova say so, what are we waiting for?

News flash: researchers in Korea have wasted their time and money. Korean researchers find that jar lids are screwed on too tight.
There appear to be no international standards for the torque of product caps, food products or otherwise, Lee pointed out. Until there are some, the researcher recommended that elderly folks "ask a strong, young person" to open product lids for them, when possible.
Wow. One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
I can't wait to show Kate my latest issue of Martha Stewart's Living. There's a fantastic article about pumpkin-carving -- I salute whoever came up with the idea of making them into little haunted houses! I also love the feature on grilled cheese, and there's an interesting section on soy that has some great-looking tofu recipies. I'm not as excited by "Decorating With Vintage Birdcages."
Quote of the Day:
"The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously."
~ Henry Kissinger

Song of the Day:
Bon Jovi, "Thank You"

Happy Birthday:
Thelonius Monk
Lawrence Tribe
Guiseppe Verdi

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Consumers are getting screwed again. Frito-Lay is cutting their potato chip bags by four or five chips. I've heard Snickers is more satisfying. But what do I know?
And for our losers, some lovely parting gifts, like a trip to SPACE!

A Russian game show is planning to send its winner on a trip to the International Space Station. In the past year, the world has quietly begun sending tourists to space. What happened to space? Since my childhood days, the wonder of space seems to have greatly dwindled. Wasn't it the final frontier? Or is that just from a television induced haze? After the Challenger disaster, the Hubble Space Telescope fiasco (and now bifocals), and the retirement of Columbia, we seem to have lost interest in space and space exploration. To be sure, there have been a number of silly (and often funny) alien movies in the past ten years, but both the serious study of space and support for agencies like NASA appear to have dwindled significantly.

Why? Are the discoveries coming in smaller bounds than before? I suppose one could surmise that less rapid and less interesting discoveries have caused the decline in space interest. After all, what have we done that's really mirrored walking on the moon or taking our first space walk? But I don't think that holds much water. In the past two years, evidence confirming the big bang theory has accumulated rapidly. Moreover, if the lack of exciting discoveries theory is true, what could be more exciting than the recent discovery of Quaoar (pronounced kwah-o-wahr), possibly a planet, but more likely the final nail in Pluto's impending demotion. That's exciting! As Volokh points out, we grew up thinking Pluto was a planet--that shakes the foundations of our formative education. Eight planets?? Maybe it's too soon to see the ripple effect from this recent finding. I doubt, though, that Quaoar will spawn a legion of trick-or-treating John Glenns and Neal Armstrongs this Halloween. Call it a hunch.

Space is inherently fascinating. It is fascinating in many ways, but mostly because it is the one place where the miniscule nature of humanity can truly set in. Some have said the oceans are the final frontier, but even there, one cannot look down and in a single glance, take in the entire world. From space, the insignificance of humanity must be mind-boggling.

I met an astronaut once. I think it was the astronaut referred to in this old Yale Daily News column. There is something unreal about astronauts. They have been somewhere we have never been; they have been face to face with their own staggering insignificance. My feelings echoed the Daily columnist's:
Last Monday I met a NASA astronaut at Yale. He was just like you and me. I thought I was going to meet a mighty man, a higher being, a god of science.
I asked him how he dealt with the mind-blowing expanse of space. He had no answer for me, aside from the fact that it was immensely humbling.

We humans could use some humility every once in a while.

Interestingly, it turns out that the astronaut I met was "certainly engaging and prophetic."
We could have "space tourism in twenty years time," he wishfully stated.
From the Carnival of the Vanities #3 comes an old post at The Road to Surfdom where Tim Dunlop argues: "Put simply, bloggers are the new public intellectuals. You heard it here first." His larger argument is that "[r]ather than being in decline, as it is fashionable to suggest, the category of 'public intellectual' . . . is exploding."

I couldn't agree more. As I've argued before, I think prime time television is also an indicator of the intellectualization of the public. You heard that here first.
"the kitchen cabinet is a newspaper that kills all known germs dead!" (Link via Tim Blair)

UPDATE: went back to the site.
"Lily Malcolm is a piece of string that sings comical songs! It works upside-down and dispenses pills."
"Kate Malcolm is a cufflink! It communicates with other copies of itself!" You bet I do.
"Abby Malcolm is a lightbulb that induces lucid dreaming, has a leopardskin print and picks up Radio Four." The best of them all!

In other important news, not only are the Swedes coming, but Krispy Kreme is here!
After the recent tarot card finding, Woundwort at Siflay Hraka had these very fitting words: "Typically, when a killer begins to leave messages he is only a few steps away from leaving evidence that will lead police to discover his identity. We can only hope. Until then, hug your children twice, tell them you love them, and close your curtains when reading them a story. This killer is not playing by the rules."

Quote of the Day:
"Don't undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible."
~ Edwin Land

Song of the Day:
Elton John, "Rocketman"

Happy Birthday:
Alfred Dreyfus
John Lennon
Sean Lennon

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Dahlia Lithwick reports in Slate on First Monday at the Supreme Court:

First question of the term was asked by Justice John Paul Stevens.

The second question of the term was also asked by Justice John Paul Stevens.

The amount of time elapsed before Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas started whispering between themselves: 18 minutes.


The amount of time elapsed before Justice Antonin Scalia started to verbally thump the hell out of appellate counsel in a case: 16 minutes.
There's a "Ninomania" blog devoted to the jurisprudence of Justice Scalia. ("Keep your 'Yankee from Olympus' -- give me Sancho Panza from New Jersey!")

Kate and I are huge admirers of the jurisprudence of 7th Circuit judge Richard Posner. We've even toyed with the idea of starting our own "Dickmania" blog. But... no.
The Weekly Standard's David Tell catches the New York Times lying about its own public opinion research.
Lileks has stuff on Cuba, and being the only dad at the weekly play group.
NRO's Cornerites have been debating the merits of New York versus DC. The consensus on The Corner seems to be that New York is a more desirable place to live in almost every way. I've enjoyed visiting New York, but it's not a city I can imagine living in -- too big, too expensive, too much.

Eve Tushnet has a list of things she likes about DC. I'm with her on the cherry blossoms and the Capital Children's Museum -- the best field trip ever.

But right now, it's fall in New Haven, and there's no place I'd rather be.
Here's a shocker. Polygraphs are not perfect.

Nevermind that the article states the obvious. Consider this statement, tacked on to the end of the piece: "The report noted that sometimes a person appears to be lying on a polygraph when in fact he or she is anxious -- especially if that person is from a 'socially stigmatized' group."

What? Oh. Minority groups might feel a little threatened when you strap them in to a machine and grill them for the truth? Well, let's just say so. Come on people, has political correctness really beat us into such cowardice? If that's the finding, then have the courage to report it.
Another gem. Laziness is good for your health. (Well, that might be some what of a liberal interpretation)
The Swedes are coming!
Reuters reports: "German designer Karl Lagerfeld came up with a new spin on shrink-to-fit clothes on Tuesday, suggesting that Chanel customers lose weight to squeeze into his new ultra-slim creations." Hello? Bad idea?
Update on Yale-Military recruiting: Another op-ed in the Yale Daily News. This one, however, is from the other side. Justin Zaremby, a senior at Yale College, writes:
These protesters are wrong for two reasons. First, they are denying their colleagues the opportunity to pursue a career in the JAG Corps for political reasons. People who wish to serve in the military do not do so out of some loyalty to the "don't ask, don't tell policy." They do so because they are interested in serving the nation or because they are interested in the justice system within the ranks.

Presumably students at the top law school in the country should be able to make career decisions by themselves. Indeed, it is particularly ironic that the protesters would fight a policy of discrimination that denies gays the right to choose to be out, by denying law students the right to have interviews and choose their profession.

The more interesting point is the impact enlightened Yale law grads could have on the military hierarchy.

Someday, when the "don't ask, don't tell" policy ends, there will still be concern within the military ranks about welcoming gays. Old habits die hard, and many views toward homosexuals are, presumably, ingrained in military life.

A big change will have to be within the military ranks themselves. And the best way to institute a change of attitude that would welcome gays into the corps, could come from those serving in the ranks.

Considering the political makeup of the Yale campus, including the Yale Law School, it is reasonable to assume that many of the law students who will vie for positions in the JAG Corps would support ending the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Should they work their way through the corps, they might very well be able to instill a new perspective.

Yale Law protesters would better use their time dealing with this issue in Washington than in the interviewer's suite at the Holiday Inn. Those who support gay rights can better direct their focus at the national level than here. The necessary social impetus for changing military policy will not come from the academy, but from the outside world.
First they had fake policemen, now they have policemen dressed up as construction workers. Speedtraps are getting more and more creative. Next up: The Village People pull over speeders! (Link via The Cookiepus Conspiracy)
The University of Virginia has a new student organization: The Disciples of Bob Barker. The DOBB constitution lays out 10 explicit objectives for the club, including constructing and operating its own homemade pricing games and making a pilgrimage to Los Angeles to view a taping of "The Price is Right," "with the intent of getting on stage and hugging Bob, and kissing Bob, and hugging Rod Roddy and hugging Bob again."

"We are united by one common love," says club president and second-year engineering student Cal Wooten. "A love for Bob."
Chelsea Clinton is studying to take the LSAT and planning to apply to law school. At YLS, applicants are judged on a 12-point scale. You get a free point if your parent is an alumn. Will Chelsea get two...?
Posting from me will be on the light side this week, as The Kitchen Cabinet welcomes the Virginia half of its parental units to New Haven. No doubt Abby will take up the slack! (I'll try at least to keep up with Quote of the Day.)
Quote of the Day:
"The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."
~ William James

Song of the Day:
Eric Clapton, "Blue Eyes Blue"

Happy Birthday:
Matt Biondi
Chevy Chase
Bill Elliot
Jesse Jackson
Juan Peron
Sigourney Weaver

Monday, October 07, 2002

Another sniper-like shooting. My heart goes out to the people living in DC and Maryland. The only thing I can think of when I hear these news reports is: Is this America? I don't think my brain, in its utter disbelief at the randomness of the shootings, will let me process anything else.

UPDATE: Lots of bloggers, of course, have been discussing the shootings in Maryland. Silflay Hraka has compiled many of the posts. For what it's worth, I think they are nutjob thrill seekers and not terrorists.
I'm off for the evening. I can't post from home because my computer is on the fritz. My Dell notebook has been shutting down randomly. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get in touch with Dell. After a long time on the phone, their domestic tech support won't speak to me because I didn't buy my computer in the United States. They then gave me an international number, which unfortunately for me was in Spanish. CompUSA, whose service department now has my computer, seems to be crippled by the fact that the only people who understand the notes about the diagnostic on my computer are the techs themselves. The techs never seem to be in. CompUSA, fortunately, is a store into which I can go throw a fit. Dell, on the other hand, seems to be series of phone routers. Maybe I'll pay corporate headquarters in Texas a little visit...
Blogcritics has linked to the Online Film Critics Society's 100 top movie villains. Darth Vader tops the list. It's nice to see a list that doesn't have a bias against modern movies. That said, is Vader really that scary? In the end, he's just a bald man in a plastic suit with a lisp. Have you seen the Dark Riders in Lord of the Rings?
Happiness is a by-product! Of country dancing! (It also helps to be happily married, church-going, and female.) Link from Quare.
My vote for the weirdest news article of the day: "Muppets Snip Snoop Dog"

The weirdness exists on three levels:
1. What was Snoop Dog doing in a muppet movie?
2. When did the muppets make a come back?
3. What's up with the headline? Someone was trying too hard for a very little bit of alliteration.
Eight planets? The discovery of Quauor adds fuel to the on-going debate over whether Pluto is in fact a planet.
China watch:

"Duh" headline of the day: "China, Others Repress Religion"

However, it appears that while China continues to squelch certain First Amendment freedoms, humor is making a come back in the dull and dreary lives of the oppressed communist citizens. And this is not just any humor, it is political humor. Geremie Barme, a sinologist at the Australian National University, warns, though, that "people deceive themselves and undermine their own cause by roasting leaders they know next to nothing about." He says, "You laugh at them but by laughing at them you humanize and therefore reinforce their position of authority."

Wow. Let's not do that. I'm all for ridiculing the Chinese leadership, but let's not have a few chuckles at the expense of reinforcing their position of authority.
An Op-Ed in USA Today criticizes the use of smart air bags in automobiles. USA Today pins the blame on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the administrative agency responsible for auto safety regulations.

Having done some research on NHTSA, however, I have to say that the problem is less with NHTSA's incompetence and more with the fact that Congress has treated it like a red-headed step child for about twenty years now. NHTSA has had poor leadership, had its budget slashed, and been the punching bag for a number of special interest groups. Yale Law professor Jerry Mashaw's The Struggle for Auto Safety is a good place to start reading about the unfortunate life of NHTSA. It will also probably kick start nightmares about your car exploding spontaneously and other auto safety disasters that you've never really considered.
This might interest some folks around here. A new series debuts on the National Geographic Channel this weekend. A documentary film crew followed seven plebes through their first year at a world-famous military academy, and the result is "Surviving West Point."

Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard has taken a peek and is impressed by the ordinariness of the seven plebes featured in the series:

"These good-hearted kids aren't super-human geniuses. West Point will, however, with a little luck, transform them, make them into something bigger than themselves. That's the magic of the institution, the thing that makes it different -- more vital -- from Harvard, Yale, and all the rest. Watching this transformation should make 'Surviving West Point' the best reality show of the season."
The first episode is Saturday at 8 p.m.
Update on Yale-Military recruiting: It looks like my estimate of 100 or so protesters was somewhat off. The Yale Daily News reports today on the 200 or so protesters (complete with pictures).
Cheese helps prevent tooth decay! Fantastic news for a cheese fanatic like myself.
In the latest chapter of man v. machine, man has prevailed.

The obsession over whether human chess players can defeat computer chess players (seemingly always absurdly named "Deep" something) continues to escape me. First of all, are we really pinning the hopes of mankind on a chess player? Is it presumed that if, and when, we lose to the computer, that will be hailed by the computing and the chess communities as the beginning of the end? Bolt down the hatches and prepare for the The Matrix? And if so, would anyone outside the computing and chess communities even care? Would life go on as usual? The answers to those questions all seem to be no, given that Kasparov lost to Deep Blue and between my computer and me, I'm still the master (though it often seems otherwise).

The question then is why? Why the fuss? I can understand the fuss within the computing and chess communities. But if it's not really a blow to human evolution, let's not bill it as such.
Quote of the Day:
"Candied violets are the Necco Wafers of the overbred."
~ Fran Lebowitz

Song of the Day:
Pat Benetar, "We Belong"

Happy Birthday:
Yo Yo Ma
Oliver North
Desmond Tutu

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Movie Quote of the Day:
"Could they be the miners?"
"Sure, they're like three years old."
"Miners, not minors.”
"You lost me."
~ Galaxy Quest

Song of the Day:
Abba, "Dancing Queen"

Happy Birthday:
Jenny Lind
George Westinghouse

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Quote of the Day:
"To conquer without risk is to triumph without glory."
~ Pierre Corneille

Song of the Day:
The Breeders, "Cannonball"

Happy Birthday:
Chester A. Arthur
Vaclav Havel
David Klepper
Mario Lemieux
Barry Switzer
Horace Walpole
Housewife on strike. I guess the conventional labor dispute resolution methods of angry screaming and leaving didn't work out...
"Lindh Sentenced, Seeks Forgiveness." He'll get none from me.
Apparently, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, or NACAC, has changed its policy and, beginning next year, will require early decision programs to allow students to apply to multiple schools. Hear hear.

I think early action (or early decision--whichever is the binding early program) is a terrible idea. One of the virtues of the American educational system is our ability to remain un-specialized. Unlike, say, Germany, we aren't sorted into certain paths as early as junior high. We don't need to declare our majors until well into college. And more and more, our undergraduate majors aren't really relevant anyway. A binding early decision forces students to make uninformed and hasty decisions often based on nothing more than silly U.S. News & World Report rankings. Moreover, well-qualified students who actually want to make informed decisions end up getting washed out in the regular decision pool because a third to a half of a college's slots have already been filled by the rush of nervous students who applied early.

Of course, leave it to our panicky ivy league colleagues to break the rules. Princeton and Brown will continue to restrict their early applicants from applying early to other schools. Brown's Director of College Admissions had this to say:
Allowing students to apply to both early decision and early action schools is like being engaged to be married to one person and continuing to date others in case things don't work out.
What? How is this in any way comparable? Since when has a college decision been the equivalent of "till death do you part"?

The resemblance between the college application process and the federal clerkship application process is obvious. Federal judges, who have nothing more to compete about than who their clerks are, have been one-upping each other for years, taking clerks earlier and earlier until last year when my classmates and I were applying for clerkships in late August of our second year. Many of us still had not received our grades (not that Yale Law grades are decipherable or distinguishable or meaningful in any way). We, like high school seniors, were making uninformed and hasty decisions. Well-qualified students who actually wanted to make informed decisions ended up getting washed out. Everyone wondered how much earlier it would go. Would law students be applying to law school and clerkships simultaneously?

Like the NACAC, the judges have, thanks to the D.C. Circuit, also tried to inject some sense into their hiring process. A one year moratorium on hiring, designed to return hiring to the fall of one's third year, continues to hold (for the most part). The resemblance between college admissions and clerkship applications, however, will certainly not stop there. If there's anything to learn from the madness that is college admissions, it is that the clerkship moratorium will break soon. How sad.
The Yale Daily News site is up. Yale Law School 1L Adam Sofen had a guest column yesterday on the Yale-Military recruiting development:
And yet the military's decision wouldn't be so painful if it weren't so completely baseless. The Bush Administration has chosen to antagonize law schools over an issue that is symbolic at best -- military recruiters already enjoy direct access to law students and free meeting space on our campuses. All they are gaining is a slot in the schools' official recruitment programs, which take place at hotels off-site. In practice, all that's at stake is the chance to meet with prospective recruits not in a law school seminar room, but around a conference table at the Holiday Inn.

So what the military buys with its medical research hardball is a marginal increase in convenience and the grudging imprimatur of a few Ivy League professors. What it will lose is more significant: the newfound trust and goodwill of those professors' students. Heterosexual Yale students have been more open to careers in the armed forces than they have been in years. At precisely this moment, the military has chosen to remind them of the hostility and discrimination that made them wary all along. (Whether or not you think "don't ask, don't tell" is justifiable, arguments about collective showers and crowded bunks make no sense when applied to military lawyers.) The loss of straight students who will refuse to interview because of the military's intransigence will outweigh any potential gain in recruits.
Fair enough. I think Sofen gets to a point that has been missed. While "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may be reprehensible, the real issue here is that the Bush Administration has pursued an odd course of action. It has chosen to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars of critical medical research funding for what is arguably a symbolic victory. That seems wrong to me. Protesting the recruiters for the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, however, doesn't speak to that issue at all.

Previous relevant posts (here, here, and elsewhere)

Friday, October 04, 2002

My vote for the most disturbing article of the day: Italians becoming the Simpsons.

In other weird news, Harvard University awarded the Ig Nobel Prizes for "for dubious contributions to science and cocktail-party conversations everywhere." They should add blogs to that list.
UPDATE on Yale-Military recruiting:

I think the Yale Daily News has some interesting stuff today (not all of which is JAG related), but the server is busy. More later, if it gets up.
The American Jewish Congress is suing Americorps, "claiming it is crossing the line between church and state by sponsoring religious teaching in some schools." The thing is, the Establishment Clause bar on state-sponsored religion has been heavily blurred by the Supreme Court over the years. For instance, in 2000, the Court upheld a government program that provided for extensive loans of public school materials to private (religious) schools in Mitchell v. Helms. And last year, the Court upheld vouchers (which can be used at religious schools) in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris.
At least she's hot.

Lily may not like Ann Coulter, but some right-wingers certainly do. Check out Robert Prather's comment on his post here. (link via Instapundit)
UPDATE on the Yale-Military recruiting ordeal:

The protest just happened. I walked by it about half an hour ago. My numbers may be off, but I think there were ballpark around thirty people in suits and gags followed by maybe sixty people who were just observing or carrying signs. All told, about one hundred people plus some cameramen. I was told there would be a speech by the dean and a few professors before the actual march, but I missed that. I decided also to not get a button.

An officer stationed with Operation Enduring Freedom wrote in yesterday from Afghanistan with this to say:
. . .

In my experience, Ivy League graduates tend to not make very good officers. Can't really say why, but they just don't have the personality for it, in my opinion. Therefore, I don't think it's any big loss if Harvard or Yale or whoever keeps military recruiters from their job fairs. If someone wants info on being a JAG, it's not that hard to find. Lawyers are pretty intelligent, I think they can figure it out without a recruiter at the job fair.

The Don't Ask, Don't Tell thing is a civilian policy. The U.S. military does whatever our civilian bosses tell us to do and that includes excluding someone who is openly homosexual. Don't blame the recruiters, blame Congress and the President. Does the military really support the policy? Probably not. . . .

The whole suits and gags stunt sounds pretty stupid. The recruiters are probably laughing their asses off and emailing their buddies with stories of the whole three-ring circus. Which is just fine, humor is a prized commodity in the military community. I just think it's a chance for some publicity-hungry college folk to get their rocks off beating up on the JAG corps.
What rings particularly true is the comment about blaming Congress and the President. A fellow YLS student (and former airforce officer) posted on "the Wall" his comments. He pointed out that if the protest is to be consistent, we should exclude the Department of Justice from interviews, as well. The interesting thing about this (Lily and I were discussing earlier) is that the civilians who make the policy tend also to be lawyers.

In related news, there is an army recruiting blog. (link via Instapundit)
The recent studies on the negative effects of diesel soot remind me of a conversation I had with an environmental law partner this summer.

I've been a bit wary about taking on a job at a law firm because I don't know that I could wholly commit in spirit. This came up at a lunch with a senior environmental law associate and an environmental law partner. The associate was in agreement; in fact, she seemed to be seriously struggling with the morality of the case on which the three of us had been working. The partner, however, surprised me. I had expected something to the following effect: "Well, I think these environmentalists are crazy" or "Everyone deserves quality representation." Instead, he said that he couldn't see himself, as a lawyer, advocating any ideological position on a daily basis. The firm provided him an opportunity to be--essentially--a hired gun. He was interested in making the best possible legal argument. Regardless of the moral rightness or wrongness of our client's behavior (e.g., poisoning a whole town's water supply or opposing an economically infeasible EPA rule), he was prepared to firmly defend their actions to the extent to which he could make a legally sound argument.

On one level, that sort of attitude probably makes a very good lawyer since that is what we actually are: hired guns. We are in the business of representation. On another level, however, I worry that he has lost the humanity that makes lawyers more than precedent-crunching, logic machines. Moreover, can he practice with the same degree of passion that an ideologically driven lawyer could practice? There is, of course, the concern that the ideologically motivated lawyer would be inconsistently passionate about her work. I suppose one could say that this environmental partner does advocate an ideological position--his ideological position is that the law is always right.

The bottomline? The question seems to be: what are lawyers? The answer, I think, depends significantly on your training. Here at the Yale Law School, we are trained to be champions of justice, leaders of tomorrow--ideologues. At a far more practical school, whose students will actually pass the bar exam after graduation, the attitude probably more closely mirrors that of the environmental partner with whom I worked this summer. So where does that leave us? Don't know. What are lawyers? Well, the popular answer seems to be--slimy, no good, bottom-feeding sharks.
Boola boola. Sex in New Haven gets nationwide exposure.

There is more here on the trend of sex columns in college newspapers. (Link via Instapundit)
Movie Quote of the Day:
"Mother always said you were greedy."
"She meant it as a compliment!"
~ Trading Places

Song of the Day:
Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Happy Birthday:
Rutherford B. Hayes
Charlton Heston
Buster Keaton
Alex Keh
Susan Sarandon
Ann Rice
Pancho Villa

Thursday, October 03, 2002

For those of you who missed Kate's link this morning: here, in all its Hume-quoting, bow-tied splendor, is the Harvard Law School Federalist Society's new blog.

My favorite post is by somebody named Austin Bramwell, who reassures us -- in the midst of a heated back-and-forth about the legitmacy of printed currency, natch -- "Look, nobody execrates modernity more than I."

I don't think it's a parody.
George Will, my favorite Tory, is out with a new book -- a collection of his columns from 1997-2002. Will has been "guarding the right wing's intellectual flank like a one-headed, four-eyed Cerberus" for two decades now, and this review of the book in Salon suggests he's become irrelevant in a conservative constellation dominated by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter:

"God knows, the man still has his viewership and readership -- ABC Sunday mornings, Newsweek, the Washington Post -- but how many followers? How many hungry young Republicans will sit on their hands and listen to him hold forth one more time on Stonewall Jackson (what if he hadn't died at Chancellorsville?) or call up the ghost of Henry Adams or recount that awfully interesting lunch he had last week with Avery Dulles? How many of these Young Turks would do anything but gaze in bafflement at the tasks Will calls central to conservatism: 'keeping government where it belongs, which is on a short constitutional leash, and politics in its place, which is at the margins of life.' Politics at the margins of life? You might as well say life is at the margins of life."
Still, the reviewer appreciates Will's unique style:

"Will may be too arch by half -- his favored adjective for Bill Clinton is 'glandular' -- and years of writing for deadline have imparted their tics, but the prose continually refreshes with its grace and nimbleness and its easy range of reference. Blowhards like William Bennett make lots of noise on behalf of the Western canon without actually imparting very much of it. I can't think of any other mass-media columnist who can so readily avail himself of civilization's contents as Will does... Will can discourse knowledgeably on everything from the Hegelian theory of history to the rape of Nanking and make it all seem uniquely relevant. He can, with no apparent strain, extrapolate lessons from John Adams, William Tecumseh Sherman and Hannah Arendt."
Take that, Ann Coulter. This hungry young Republican will be happy to sit on her hands and listen to Will hold forth for a long time to come.
Here's a picture of the blue guy Kate posted about earlier today.
Divine intervention?

Microsoft no longer in Hell! I don't buy it. I still think it's the devil's work.
The Aaron Burr-Alexander Hamilton duel has always held a special place in my heart as one of the more ridiculous moments in U.S. history. That might be replaced by a Saddam Hussein-George W. Bush duel.
Here's my vote for "duh" headline of the day: "Senators say CIA withholding Info"

Wait. Now I'm torn. This might be the "duh" headline of the day: "More Lights, Less Noise Could Cut Pharmacy Errors"
Update: I wore the pin. Everybody over at the Holiday Inn is wearing the pin. But I'll take a pass on the camouflage gags scene tomorrow.
More relevant parts from the CDO email from which Lily quoted:
Employer Additions

U.S. Air Force on 10/4*
U.S. Army JAG on 10/9**

* This employer has not confirmed its full compliance with Yale Law School's nondiscrimination policy. It signed the CDO compliance statement required of all employers who participate in FIP; however, this employer qualified its affirmation of compliance by adding the following language: "The U.S. Air Force does not unlawfully discriminate, and complies with all Federal Laws regarding hiring and employment."

** This employer has not confirmed its full compliance with Yale Law School's nondiscrimination policy. It signed the CDO compliance statement required of all employers who participate in FIP; however, this employer qualified its affirmation of compliance by adding the following language: "The JAG Corps does not unlawfully discriminate, and its hiring practices are in accordance with Federal Law & regulation."
I have a job interview in an hour. Should I wear the SAME pin, in support of Yale's nondiscrimination policy? (Background here and here.) The YLS Career Development Office just sent out the following notice:

"As you know, threatened with the loss of Yale University’s federal funding, Yale Law School announced on October 1 that it would temporarily suspend the application of its nondiscrimination policy as it pertains to the military for the 2002 Fall Interview Program. As a result of this decision, the Student/Faculty Alliance for Military Equality (SAME) has organized an effort to express their commitment to Yale’s nondiscrimination principle by asking both students and employers to wear pins during the Fall Interview Program.

"CDO encourages interviewers and students to keep in mind that there are myriad legitimate reasons a student or interviewer might or might not wear SAME’s pin to an interview. The presence or absence of the pin should not affect a student’s judgment of an organization or the organization’s judgment of a student. Students interested in gaining an understanding of an organization’s policies and practices should look to the organization’s nondiscrimination policy and employment statistics, and ask questions during interviews about the organization’s practices in this regard."
This gets to Kate's question from the other day: "Am I necessarily a bigot because I don't wear the button or sign the petition?" Apparently, CDO is concerned that that's exactly the message coming across.
China watch: Chinese military officials took credit for 9/11. Does anything need to be said? I personally ceased to be amazed a long time ago.
How did I miss this great cover story from U.S. News? Okay, I know how: I never read U.S. News. I hate U.S. News. But this is a great article. It's about Civil War battlefield memorials, and the way they tend to gloss over the hard truths about America's costliest war:

"In trying to honor the soldiers who died, Civil War battlefields have historically avoided referring to what the two armies were actually fighting about. As a result, say scholars and park service officials alike, the message of most Civil War parks is subtly pro-Confederate, alienating many people who should find the parks compelling... The Civil War was a fight over slavery. The South was for it, the North against it. Not talking about slavery, they say, erases right and wrong from history -- not only in the parks but in the national memory itself."
I don't think most people from outside the South comprehend the extent to which the Confederacy is romanticized there. I grew up in central Virginia (hardly Alabama, as I posted the other day) and my family's roots are outside the South -- but I still felt it. I had friends in high school who referred to the Civil War as "the War of Northern Aggression." The Confederate flag is a common symbol in my hometown -- just an hour southwest of Washington, DC -- and to call someone a "Yankee" is... well, it's not a compliiment.

I think the article, overall, has it right. Painful as it may be to acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of young American men fought and died for an evil cause, it's the truth. As Princeton University historian James McPherson notes in the article, Germany and Japan have had to face up to similar truths. The South can do the same.
China watch: anti-subversion law proposed in Hong Kong. During the time I spent in Hong Kong in 1999, I was very impressed with how hands off China had been with Hong Kong. It was obvious that the People's Liberation Army had a garrison in the territory, but they had apparently been given strict orders to remain inconspicuous. It appears, however, that it was, as many have suspected, just a matter of time...
Britons are using cooking as a foreplay for sex. And my vote for "understated commentary" of the day: "The decline in the use of the apron represents a significant change in the nation's cooking habits. The apron can be seen as representative of an older generation's more formal and restrictive views on cooking."

In other odd news, this has got to be the best way a child has ever dealt with yucky food, and I'll bet Montana's Libertarian candidate for Senate can join the popular Blue Man Group if his bid for the Senate doesn't pan out.

Finally, a study has revealed the funniest joke in the world:
"A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head.

"The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: 'My friend is dead! What can I do?'

"The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: 'Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead.'

"There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: 'OK, now what?'"
The study adds that "Germans were the most likely to find all types of jokes funny, while Canadians were the least amused of the 10 top responding nations." Figures. Leave it to Canadia (yes, that's Canadia. Wherefrom Canadians hail).

Global warming watch: new studies confirm the detrimental effect coal and diesel emissions have on the environment.
I didn't receive the email Lily got about the protest Friday. Guess I don't count as a "student leader."

To add more complexity to the YLS-JAG showdown, the protest Friday coincides with the first day of the Yale Law School's annual alumni weekend. I'm interested in seeing how that pans out. I suppose if I was a student leader, I'd suggest to the organizers of the protest that they should consider getting alumni involved. The fact that I think protesting JAG interviews is not the right way to combat the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is probably also affecting my motivation. What's nice about YLS is that most of the student body is in agreement that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a horrible policy (unlike at Harvard, where some students love it).
Quote of the Day:
"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."
~ Voltaire

Song of the Day:
The Beatles, "Hey Jude"

Happy Birthday:
Chubby Checker
Emily Post
Gore Vidal
Tom Wolfe

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Yale Law School military recruiting update (for background, click here and here):

The Student-Faculty Alliance for Military Equality sent out an e-mail this afternoon addressed to "student leaders." Some excerpts:

"As you have already heard, the Air Force JAG Corps will be interviewing at the Holiday Inn this Friday. SAME has organized a rally in support of our school's non-discrimination policy, and an organized march to the Holiday Inn in protest of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' The rally will be held on Wall Street, in front of the Law School, and the march to the Holiday Inn will likely conclude with a period of silence.

"We'd like to encourage you to be attend the rally and be a participant in the march. As a participant -- for the visual and the coherency of message -- we would like to have a large number of students (including you) wearing suits (as if they were going to an interview), and also wearing a gag made of camoflage cloth (to demonstrate the silencing effect of the military's policy).

"It is important that we get a large group of students to attend both the rally and to walk behind the people who will be marching in their suits. Today and tomorrow, we'd like to ask you to speak to your professors to ask them first, whether they will attend the rally and participate, and second, whether they would consider wearing a suit and being gagged."
Yale Law School professors, voluntarily silencing themselves and dressed in suits? That'll be quite a sight.

The NJ Supreme Court just ruled that the Democrats can replace Sen. Bob Torricelli with former Sen. Frank Lautenberg on November's ballot.

Holding my breath to see how the Republicans respond.
China watch: China becoming a Christian nation. For those of us China watchers who are excited to see the communist regime come to a squealing end, it is difficult to be skeptical about the value of China's creeping Christianity. That said, I know I'm not sure this is a good thing. I'm particularly worried about the effect Christianity will have on Eastern culture and values, which despite the Chinese government's best efforts, have not been totally squelched. Eastern tradition and thought counterbalances Western rugged individualism in many valuable ways. One should be concerned that Christianizing China will upset that balance.

I suppose worrying about balance is itself inherently Eastern.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush's daughter Noelle, who has been in a drug treatment program since January and was caught trying to scam a pharmacy out of a bottle of pills in July, was arrested again a few weeks ago for having 0.2 grams of crack cocaine in her shoe. You haven't heard much about this in the national media, and that's a shame, writes The New Republic's Michelle Cottle. We often hear that these things are "private matters" that political families should be allowed to deal with in private, like other families. But Cottle argues that regular families don't get to handle these things privately:

"Far too often, a minor drug offense throws someone's child into a criminal justice system intent on stripping away the child's privacy and freedom. The less money and influence your family has, the less privacy you're allowed. And while most middle-class kids probably wouldn't be tossed in jail for their first or even second offense, Jeb's daughter is now facing her third drug-related strike -- this time for crack, the scourge of the streets. If Noelle lived in California, she might well be headed to prison for the rest of her life."
In Cottle's view, the national media should be focusing on Noelle Bush's case because "she belongs to a family uniquely positioned to correct some of this nation's more irrational and discriminatory drug policies -- many of them upheld by her dear Uncle George." Keeping the case in the spotlight will "ensure that the family can't rationalize Noelle as a special case, or somehow disconnect her plight from the larger issue of U.S. drug policy."

I disagree. If you want to make the case that Bush's drug policy is irrational, make that case. But his niece's personal problems seem to me irrelevant to any broad, serious discussion of national drug policy.

And would Cottle have argued a few years ago that keeping Monica Lewinsky's name in the headlines was all about ensuring that Bill Clinton couldn't "rationalize [Monica] as a special case, or somehow disconnect her plight from the larger issue" of sexual harrassment? No. Monica was real news, not merely an illustration of Clinton's hypocrisy (though of course she was that too). The media appear to have decided that Noelle is not news. I have no problem with the drug-legalization folks using her predicament to bolster their argument, but that's not the media's job.
On Monday, a federal judge threw out a case alleging that cell phones cause cancer.

Funny thing about this is the number of people in the public who seem to think cell phones cause cancer, or at least worry enough about it that they prefer to use those annoying earpieces in lieu of pressing the phone against their brains. This brings up a number of interesting points. The first is that those earpieces are terrible. Talking to a person who is using the ear piece is like ordering at a drive through. The second point is that it's kind of absurd how some people use the earpiece to keep the phone away from their head, but go ahead and strap it to their waist, about five inches from their reproductive organs. Cancer of the brain v. cancer of the unmentionables? I guess it's a toss up--for some people. The most interesting point, however, is the obvious spread here between the judge and any potential jury. I can imagine the jury selection process. Peremptory challenges against people because they use earpieces with their cell phones. I suppose this is a victory for Yale Law professor John Langbein, who considers juries one of the worst things to have happened to America. Unions are a close second.
My vote for "lame headline of the day": "Dell Sidesteps Downturn, Vows to Grow." Call me when someone publishes "Dell Revels in Downturn, Vows to Crash and Burn."

In other news, we've received email noting that our post on the Carnival of the Vanities wasn't working. Here is the link to our reflections on Superman.
This afternoon's daily dose of utter frivolity:

Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer will run re-election ads that will appear "above urinals in men's rooms and in the toilet stalls of women's restrooms." Kiffmeyer, a Republican, explained in a press release that "To reach active adult voters, you have to go to them."

A Miller Genuine Draft poll of 1003 adults found that -- by a margin of 55% to 35% -- President Bush better represents their "dreams and aspirations" than Bruce Springsteen. I have no idea what this means, or why anyone (let alone Miller Genuine Draft) would even think to ask this question.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Jay Stone, son of Chicago Alderman Bernard Stone, "wants so badly to follow in his dad's footsteps that he struck a pose -- a yoga pose called the 'Wheel'" at a press conference yesterday to announce his candidacy. Stone said he was ready to "'bend over backward' to serve residents in the 32nd Ward." But Dad the already-Alderman isn't supportive: "I do not support his candidacy. He doesn't know what he's doing... He has absolutely no understanding of politics. He thinks he knows everything. I asked him not to run. He doesn't listen. So he's smarter than me, I guess... He's not gonna win." The Chicago Sun-Times describes the younger Stone as a "clinical hypnotherapist." Guess that explains the yoga.

Conan O'Brien, last night: "New York's Museum of Sex was supposed to open its doors this week, but the opening has been delayed. When asked about it, a spokesperson said the Museum of Foreplay has to be opened first."
Brain teaser (inspired by an old post of Kate's)! Lots of glory goes to the first person who e-mails the answer to this question:

When the Supreme Court remands a case to a lower court for the lower court to re-hear, sometimes the Court will write that the case is remanded "for proceedings consistent with this opinion." But sometimes the language reads "for proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion."

What's the difference? When must the proceedings in the lower court be "consistent" with the Supreme Court's opinion, and when must they merely be "not inconsistent"? Sometimes the Court messes this distinction up, but it's not supposed to be just random.

Yale Law professor Stephen Carter, who both Kate and I had for first-semester contracts, blew our minds with this question once. As I recall, nobody had any idea and he had to tell us the answer.

This was back before Carter was a svelte, best-selling author -- at the time, he was just a moderately selling author. And less svelte. I hear Carter has become so popular that he has a sign on his YLS office door now saying that his office hours are for law students only -- no media!
The Yale Daily News is reporting on the Jag development here at the Yale Law School. Their op-ed pretty much restates what SAME plans to do.

My problem with SAME is the problem I have with many student actions here at YLS. There is a ridiculous presumption that accompanies the petitions and buttons that are associated with SAME. "Have you signed the petition yet?" "Where is your button?" Am I necessarily a bigot because I don't wear the button or sign the petition? Must I instead wear a button explaining my qualified support of SAME?
My vote for "sad, but obvious" news story of the day: According to Madhav Goyal, of Geisinger Health System in State College, Pennsylvania, "Selling a kidney did not lead to long-term economic benefit for the seller and was associated with a decline in health status."
Dean Esley has an excellent post on Blogcritics about what it means to be truly open-minded.
In Texas, a group called the Republican Leadership Council is asking that the local public library board pull a couple of children's books from the shelves. Another group, calling themselves Mainstream Montgomery County has reared up its head in opposition, siting the usual stuff about separation of church and state and not imposing religious values on others.

In some places, this story's been brought up by people suggesting that book banning is one step away from book burning. Hmm. Perhaps. But a search through Google shows darned few hard news stories on this issue that aren't simply editorials. There were two, a Houston Chronicle article and another from the Montgomery County News, which take an almost-identical slant describing the "book banners" and the anti-banners. The only story in the Google news archives at this writing which does not focus on the "anti-censorship" folks was this story from The Courier. Everything else seems to be a bunch of editorials comparing those who have a problem with these books to Nazis, communists, fascists, and book burners. Most of the coverage is distinctly one-sided.

What should be apparent to any liberal-minded person is that every group involved here is attempting to ram their values down other people's throats. That's right, all of them. But the worst by far seem to be the "anti book-banners," piously claiming to be fighting the evil forces of intolerance. Good God, what a bunch of turds these people come across as. No respect for democracy, no respect for diversity, no tolerance of people who don't share their narrow worldview and small-minded prejudices.
I think Esley makes a wonderful point. As I've said here and here, it is narrow-minded to accuse others of being narrow-minded (intolerant to accuse others of being intolerant) because you are, as a consequence, being intolerant of their allegedly intolerant opinion. The irony of Esley's post, however, is that if you follow his zealous argument to its logical conclusion, he, too, is intolerant and narrow-minded in picking on the "anti book-banners."

So what's the take home lesson? If you want to advocate a position, you can't truly claim to be tolerant because it will just sound foolish and idiotic. Have the conviction to just make your point--don't shroud it in holier-than-thou bull in an attempt to lend your position greater legitimacy.
Kate's post about saving the blondes raises the intriguing question of how, exactly, blondes are to be saved. (The article, from the Sun, is a little vague about this.) Do blondes have an obligation to mate only with other blonde people? Hmmm... And what about redheads? Surely they're an endangered species as well...

UPDATE: Things are looking up for the blonde.
Stuart Buck asks "Who is the smartest Supreme Court Justice?" and then wonders: "What the heck is the matter with us lawyers? Why are we so obsessed with ranking everyone we meet on a 'smartness' scale?"

Actually, I have several quibbles with Buck's article. But it's late, and I'm feeling decidedly non-smart, so I'll save them for later.
Blogatelle noted the same article about parenting that I linked to yesterday. It's good to see there are other people talking and thinking about parenting. And I agree for the most part with the conclusions:
There is a fine line to walk between discipline and abuse, and parents have been successfully walking it for centuries. Where we fail is continual harping on useless studies like these, which take suspect data and draw labored conclusions to support the researcher's (or his doctoral review board's) pet theories.
However, I stand by my original complaint, which is that the poorly parented unfortunately propogate poor parenting. And while Blogatelle is right--we do have to trust in the common sense of parents--too many bad parents think they are good parents. It's like bad drivers who think they are good drivers. Plenty of parents have successfully walked the line between discipline and abuse. Plenty of parents have not. Plenty of parents have never gotten anywhere near the line, and their children turn into complete monsters.

(Linked from Silflay Hraka)

UPDATE: a blog about parenting--"You won't find any advice at Raising Hell, we're as lost as you are. Raising Hell is about bad parenting, good parenting, and the gray area in between."
Quote of the Day:
"The penalty for success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you."
~ Nancy Astor

Song of the Day:
Aerosmith, "Crazy"

Happy Birthday:
Mohandas Gandhi
Graham Greene
Donna Karan
Groucho Marx
Wallace Stevens

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

I have been on the fence about the Student-Faculty Alliance for Military Equality. Now that I have seen their "grudging[]" support for the Yale Law School Dean Kronman's decision, I think I will get myself one of their buttons.
The Safety Valve has posted a wonderful picture that needs to be seen (rather than described). In the vein of the photograph, one of the many things I love about America is that people actually pull over for emergency vehicles.
"Temp Hides Fun, Fulfilling Life From Rest Of Office." Like much of The Onion's material, this story has an uncomfortable ring of truth to it.
Stephanopoulos daddy-watch, week three: George, baby Elliot, and "two little yapping dogs" are thrown out of the Georgetown Barnes & Noble.
Update on military recruiting at Yale Law School (click here for background): YLS Dean Tony Kronman sent out an e-mail this morning saying that

"the University has had no choice but to send a letter to the Army JAG office stating: (1) that it believes the Law School's recruitment policy to be in compliance with the Solomon Amendment; (2) that it intends to seek an authoritative determination of the legality of this policy; and (3) that in order to do so without jeopardizing the University's federal funding, the Law School will temporarily suspend the application of its nondiscrimination requirement to military recruiters to enable them to participate in the Fall Interview Program sponsored by our Career Development Office."

This afternoon the Career Development Office informed students that the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army JAG have been added to the Fall Interview Program schedule.

The Student-Faculty Alliance for Military Equality (the group spearheading the opposition to accommodating the military) also e-mailed a statement grudgingly supporting the decision:

"While we are disappointed by and disagree with the Defense Department's aggressive interpretation of the Solomon Amendment, we believe that it leaves the University no option but to temporarily suspend our non-discrimination policy. Forcing the law school to choose between our policy and $350 million in federal funding -- mostly for medical research -- is not a choice at all."

SAME is planning a protest rally in support of Yale's antidiscrimination policy on the first day military recruiters will be in town. Some students are also planning to fake interest in being hired by the military, only to "come out" to the recruiters at the interviews (I believe students also used this tactic at Harvard).
Writing that the magazine "is becoming the voice and the echo chamber of those who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden," Christopher Hitchens quits The Nation.
The Federal government has issued new standards aimed at curbing gifts and "incentives" from pharmaceutical companies to physicians.

I'm not particularly sure what I think about this, but my gut reaction is negative. If we're to regulate someone, why don't we regulate the doctors? Can't we expect them to make the best decisions with regard to our care and the medicines we need? And if two drugs are comparable, do we really care that they choose one over the other simply because they've received a stomach-shaped stuffed animal, or a pen, or a dinner from some pharmaceutical company? We trust our doctors to make the right decisions about other treatments--such as surgery v. noninvasive radiation v. physical therapy. Why will they necessarily lose that ethical, professional, public-serving sense just because they just got a nice pen?
Spare the rod and spoil the child? A new report says that scolding children may be as harmful as hitting them.

Parenting is an interesting beast. The family plays such a critical role in our development as people. It shapes how we will interact, what we believe is correct and moral behavior, what we understand as appropriate treatment of others. Why, for instance, do some people think it is acceptable to lie, bald-faced to people who have been nothing but cordial and forthcoming? Why are some people more selfish and less self-aware than others? It is hardly radical to suggest that family and parenting is significant in that development. And yet, we don't learn how to parent. Sadly, I suppose it is those people who have had good parents who are self-aware and self-critical and seek to improve even upon what their parents have done. Those people who have had bad parents haven't developed sufficiently to think twice about how twisted they've become as a result of their parents.

Perhaps this is just the way of the world. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Muscular dysmorphia: a sad, close relative of anorexia.
Somewhere in the same base netherworld as this post is this article from England about the endangered blonde. Not quite the humpback whale, but nonetheless a worthy cause.
Quote of the Day:
"He held, too, in his enlightened way, that Americans had a perfect right to exist. But he did often find himself wishing Mr. Rhodes had not enabled them to exercise that right at Oxford."
~ Max Beerbohm

Song of the Day:
Yaz, "Only You"

Happy Birthday:
Julie Andrews
Rod Carew
Jimmy Carter
Walter Matthau
William Rehnquist

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.
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:
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.