Saturday, November 30, 2002

Nick Daum has an excellent post on things we don't talk about in polite conversation. His Korean-American in-laws were told when they came to the United States that it wasn't polite to discuss religion, politics, or sex, and Nick thinks this advice was "2/3 wrong."

Among most people I know, and among my own immediate family, talk about politics is constant, commonplace, and encouraged, even between people with different political views. Talk about sex is so common that I sometimes wonder if people my age talk about anything else.
I was always told that it was rude to talk about religion or politics. (In my family, it hardly needed to be said that sex was a conversational no-no -- which brings up a question I'll pose to Nick: Who wants in-laws who are eager to talk about sex?) But there was this corollary: it's only rude when you don't know where the other person stands, or when you know they disagree with you. If neither applies, fire away!

And I'll admit that I think this custom, with the corollary, has its merits. As a non-liberal living in the liberal-Democratic world of elite academia, I regularly endure conversations with people who assume I'm as left-leaning as everyone in the room, and I'm forced either to smile politely at the Bush jokes or to show my colors and make everybody else feel awkward for assuming what they shouldn't have assumed in the first place. The rudeness isn't in the desire to talk about politics, or even (usually) in the substance of the remarks; it's in the narrow-minded assumption that if someone's at the same dinner party as you, they share your politics. It'd be nice, in other words, if the person I was introduced to ten minutes ago conducted a little background inquiry before turning to me, sighing tragically, and saying "Can you believe they've taken back the Senate?"

As for religion, I think it's hard for religious and secular people to talk meaningfully about it because they are approaching it from such different perspectives. You're either a person of faith or you aren't, and the whole point of faith is that it's not something you arrive at rationally. So a civil conversation about religion, to have any depth at all, almost has to take place on one side or the other of the religious/secular divide.

If you're talking across the chasm, the best-case scenario is for the secular people to be politely curious while the religious people walk the line between being defensive and sounding like they're proselytizing. And that conversation, as Nick notes, tends not to be very interesting or enjoyable for anybody. At least discussions about politics, even across the aisle, can start with the common ground of stipulated facts or universally recognized dilemmas.

Incidentally, it's been my experience that when everybody is on the same page religion-wise, conversations can be quite energetic. I've sat silently at more than my share of family dinners with my battalion of Catholic aunts bellowing commiseratively at each other about the awfulness of this or that priest. (Some of the Malcolm matriarchs yell even when they agree. Especially when they agree.)

Finally, on a related note to Nick's wife's theory that "white people like to talk about nothing," a friend of the Cabinet says that WASPs have dogs just so they'll always have something to talk to each other about. ("Where's the dog?" "Oooh, look at the dog!")
Quote of the Day:
"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."
~ Calvin Trillin

Song of the Day:
David Gray, "Babylon"

Happy Birthday:
Winston Churchill
Dick Clark
Angela Haught
Bo Jackson
G. Gordon Liddy
Billy Idol
David Mamet
Ben Stiller
Jonathan Swift
Mark Twain

Friday, November 29, 2002

Two oldies-but-goodies you may not have seen, especially if you're new to blogs:

* The Weekly Standard's blog parody.

* "The Corndog," a parody of NRO's The Corner from Reason.
An article in The Atlantic looks at interracial marriage (specifically, between blacks and whites) and why many African-Americans oppose it:

The great but altogether predictable irony is that just as white opposition to white-black intimacy finally lessened, during the last third of the twentieth century, black opposition became vocal and aggressive. In college classrooms today, when discussions about the ethics of interracial dating and marriage arise, black students are frequently the ones most likely to voice disapproval.
They call it "talking black and sleeping white."

Pop Quiz: What's the most aptly named case in American constitutional law? (Every law student should get this one easily; the answer's in the article.) This one's much easier than the first brain teaser I posted, to which I still have not gotten a correct answer.
Lisa Guernsey's piece in the New York Times about a gender gap in the blogosphere has drawn criticism from Jeff Jarvis and InstaPundit, both of whom question whether a piece on the dearth of female bloggers really needed to be written, given all the female bloggers out there. (Jeff lists us as a female blog… sorta.)

I'll mention a different theme in Guernsey's article: her contention that "the Venus-Mars divide has made its way into Blogville. Women want to talk about their personal lives. Men want to talk about anything but."

I'm willing to believe that's true as a very broad generalization, but there are plenty of counterexamples (Lileks leaps to mind). In fact, most of the blogs I read (the majority of which are by men) are full of mentions of the bloggers' personal lives.

We started The Kitchen Cabinet to comment on law, politics and culture, but Kate and I also weave personal stuff into the occasional post, for the same reason we post about celebrity marriages and Necco Wafers: it's a fun break from all the serious blogging, for us and our readers. Also, we have a varied readership; for every wonk who eats up our posts on privacy law, there's a reader who'll complain that "there's too much of that boring legal stuff!"

So we'll try to keep bridging the "Mars-Venus divide," if indeed such a thing exists. And if our readers believe they're reading too much about our personal lives, we hope they'll write us and complain.

Side note: Guernsey also talks about her own blog as "a parallel form of motherhood: the experience of raising a Web site that I'll soon feel guilty about neglecting." I'm guessing that a lot of bloggers -- male and female -- can identify with that.
'Twas the day after Thanksgiving.... Lots of bustle around here this morning: a hunting expedition, shopping trips, and of course the turkey-and-mayo-on-white-bread. But I don't hunt (and if I did, I wouldn't do it at 5:30 a.m.), I can't imagine setting foot in a mall today, and not even the turkey appeals...

UPDATE: My what-to-do problem was solved when the hunting party returned hungry.
Speaking of Al Gore, his old press secretary, Chris Lehane, remains as churlish as he was during the 2000 campaign. He's quoted in the WP's Reliable Source with an anti-Bush rant that I bet he thinks is cute. For example: "Bush should like the Gore picture book -- with all the photos, it is right up his alley." Tee-hee.

Mickey Kaus takes a dim view of Lehane's "high-schoolish sneering."

To be sure, it's impossible to say if Gore would have won if he'd had a more adult, sophisticated McCurryesque press secretary, and not Lehane.... Actually, I take that back. Of course Gore would have won if he'd had a better press secretary than Lehane.... It's doubly revealing that at this late stage, after a mid-term drubbing, the Gore people think it's smart to ridicule Bush as stupid.
Back in the summer of 2000, when I was following both campaigns' press clippings every day, I used to marvel at how sophmoric Lehane could be -- and how clever he seemed to think he was.
Quote of the Day:
"Most turkeys taste better the day after; my mother's tasted better the day before."
~ Rita Rudner

Song of the Day:
Incubus, "I Miss You"

Happy Birthday:
Louisa May Alcott
Peter Bergman
Madeline L'Engle
C.S. Lewis

Thursday, November 28, 2002

One for the road, as we pack up Thanksgiving dinner and hit the road to Minnesota.

Steve Chapman, in today's Chicago Tribune:
Watching Al Gore make his re-entry into the public arena after nearly two years out of the spotlight, I can say with confidence that there is a substantial group of people who want him to run for president again in 2004. They're called Republicans.

...

When [Gore] says, "I think there is virtue in just taking an unvarnished position as to what the best solution may be, and let the chips fall where they may," he brings to mind Richard Nixon walking on the beach in a suit and wingtips.

How long, you have to wonder, did Gore spend coming up with that formulation? He can no more be unscripted and spontaneous in a political setting than Nixon could walk around in public shirtless and barefoot.

That's not necessarily Gore's fault. It's just his makeup. As with John Kennedy's struggle to feign physical vigor despite his many debilitating infirmities, you can even see it as a heroic effort to overcome the cruel limitations imposed by nature. But JFK couldn't make himself healthy by filling himself full of pills and potions. And Gore, even in the supposed liberation conferred by defeat, can't shuck all the habits instilled by a lifetime in the bosom of official Washington.
I hope, for his sake, that Gore doesn't run again. While I think he'd have made a terrible president, he is clearly a bright man. Insufferable, but bright. He should apply his talents elsewhere. It's time to walk away, Al.
I had the wonderful pleasure of waking up this morning to my East Coast time clock and then walking downstairs and realizing it was one hour earlier than I thought. Gotta love it.

Little to no posting for me over the next two days, but I promise I'll be back with lots to say. Here's something to chew on: I heard that the local Fox anchor here just said something to the effect of "Well, we know the Chinese eat Panda for Thanksgiving." What? Is that supposed to be funny?

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving.
Reader DB writes in to tell me that he loves Necco wafers.
From the Wall Street Journal's Thanksgiving editorial:

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.
The WSJ has published this same editorial every year since 1961.
Quote of the Day:
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
~ John F. Kennedy

Song of the Day:
Dido, "Thank You"

Happy Birthday:
Brooks Atkinson
Ed Harris
Paul Shaffer
Anna Nicole Smith
Jon Stewart

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

There seems to have been a rash of delinking lately -- bloggers removing links on their blogs to other people because they're upset about something the person has written, or in this case, because they belong to the wrong political party.

This is, of course, very silly. Eugene Volokh points out the futility of it all:

What's the use of publicly announcing "We're so incensed that we will try to deny you five readers a day, maybe ten!"?
And he makes this promise:

If someone refuses to link to us, refuses to link to people who link to us, or refuses to link to people who link to people who link to us, we promise not to make a public production out of this, or call it "censorship."
The Kitchen Cabinet hereby signs onto what we are calling the "Volokh Discreet Delinking Pledge." (That being said, we fervently hope that the Volokh Conspiracy never discreetly delinks us, as we are immensely honored to have made its very short list of permanent links.)
I've been doing domestic stuff all night (hemming a flower girl's dress for a cousin's wedding, cutting bread for tomorrow's stuffing), so it was a nice surprise to turn on the computer just now and learn that, thanks to another link from the estimable InstaPundit, we've blown past the 10,000-hit mark on our sitemeter.

In less pleasant news, I just got a call from a friend who's distraught about the progress of the Kansas-Carolina game being played right now in Madison Square Garden. She reports that UNC's freshmen look "fabulous." Yuck. It could be a long season.

UPDATE: Yes, Evil has triumphed over Lesser Evil, 67-56.
Volokh has a link about the McDonald's case that's worth reading. And I read this in Sunday's Chicago Tribune (registration required):
Every now and then, America draws a cartoon of herself for the amusement of the rest of the world. Last week's fat lawsuit against McDonald's is one of those occasions.
It made me laugh. That's really all I had to say.
This week's round-up of self-nominated blogging bests at Carnival of the Vanities #10.
We have a very nice link today on Paladin's Pad and will be sure to add John to our blogroll when we get a chance over the next few days. John writes about China and Food being "what may be the most perfect marriage of all time." He goes on:
Why is this so perfect? Well, who doesn't like food? And who doesn't recognize China to be the strategic and ideological enemy that it is? What's that you say? Everyone in Washington? Oh, well damn.
Preach on!

This does remind me of a joke I heard on Friends. Paraphrased, it went something like this. "So you're going to China. You going to have lots of Chinese food?" "Well, they'd just call it food there."
Okay. Safe and sound in Chicago after a harrowing two hour drive on I-91 this morning at 5am from New Haven to Hartford. Let me be Chicago snobby for a minute and point out that those Connecticut people just don't know how to plow their roads. We have teams of plows here in Chicago. Mayors lose their jobs over mishandled snow storms.

Alright, a few posts tonight and then i'm offline for a few days for Turkey Day festivities. Lily has promised to keep up some posting, but hopefully our readers will also be enjoying family time and will then happily rejoin our regular frenetic posting after the holiday.
In honor of the coming holiday turkey-fest, NRO has a symposium on "The Best Food Movies of All Time."

There's also a piece on fried turkey, something I only recently became aware of and have no plans to sample.

Mom and a Cabinet member are in the kitchen right now, arguing about which color Karo syrup is best for pecan pie. I'm staying out of this one.
China Watch:

This is Kate's beat, but she's traveling so I'll pipe up. Amnesty International is detailing the cases of at least 33 people who are in Chinese prisons for "offences related to their use of the Internet." Two have died, apparently from torture and ill-treatment.

And if this makes you thankful you're an American, check out this paragraph from the full report:

Foreign companies, including Websense and Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, Microsoft have reportedly provided important technology which helps the Chinese authorities censor the Internet. Nortel Networks along with some other international firms are reported to be providing China with the technology which will help it shift from filtering content at the international gateway level to filtering content of individual computers, in homes, Internet cafes, universities and businesses.
Proud of our American ingenuity now?
Judith Weiss at Kesher Talk explains why more Jews don't vote Republican. She makes some sound points, but then there's this bit:

Even suburban middle-class Jews tend to think of ourselves as more ethnic, urbane, artsy-fartsy, entrepreneurial, emotionally "authentic," and encouraging of independent thought in our children, than our gentile neighbors. We tend to stereotype Republicans as: WASP, corporate, suburban, lowbrow, preoccupied with being "nice" to the detriment of honest emotion, believing that children should be "seen but not heard," having bland taste in music and literature. (And dumb enough to pay retail.) Both stereotypes may not be true or even desirable, but it's our own little bit of in-house bigotry.
Indeed, neither of those stereotypes is true, desirable, or useful, and calling them "our own little bit of in-house bigotry" doesn't exactly justify perpetuating them, does it?

And who's fooling themselves here? More and more Jews are voting Republican; how does Weiss's "stereotype theory" account for that?
Miscellany:

Hanah sends Sasha the blog equivalent of a love note in study hall. Too sweet for words...

"18/F/NYC = Pockmarked 46-Year-Old in Bathrobe." Chat-room shorthand from The Onion.

Captain Indignant had the same two-word reaction to the new Bond movie as me: "Wow, loud." (Another would be "It sucked.")

And in the inter-blog squabbling category: The Cabinet continues to vacillate wildly between pride and indignation over the modified design of Nick Daum's blog. We agree that the new template is appealing, but on the whole we prefer Nick's original design.

Finally, it's snowing in Virginia! And I'm off to bed.
Slate's Dahlia Lithwick handicaps "The Supreme Court Shuffle."

Would Rehnquist or O'Connor, who are, respectively, the second most powerful man and the most powerful woman in the country right now, really give up their day jobs merely because the time is ripe for replacing them? What would they possibly achieve in return? Neither justice is a pushover, and all the Republican pressure in the world will not force either of them to retire before they're ready.
Lithwick doesn't think Rehnquist will go this year—there's still too much he wants to accomplish.
Reader Paul D. writes that "the first kid through the door of the Krispy Kreme was my nephew. (Just thought I'd let ya know how far the Web really stretches.)"

Paul, I hope your nephew enjoyed his Krispy Kremes as much as we enjoyed ours.
Quote of the Day:
"Remember, blood is not only much thicker than water, it's much more difficult to get out of the carpet."
~ Phyllis Diller

Song of the Day:
Simon and Garfunkel, "Homeward Bound"

Happy Birthday:
Robin Givens
Jimi Hendrix
Caroline Kennedy
Bruce Lee

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

I promised a post on the EPA's rollback of clean air regs, but it's late and I have a very early flight tomorrow. I will post tomorrow and then posting will be light until Saturday or Sunday because of Thanksgiving.
Wasn't it just yesterday that I heard about Presley and Cage getting married? Yes, yes it was.

Other quirky news: equip Americans with terror beepers. Here's an idea: let's also put tracking devices in every beeper so we can know where everybody is at every point in time.
Political correctness gone beserk.
Christmas is becoming an endangered word in parts of Canada in a rash of politically correct behavior -- such as renaming a Christmas tree a "holiday tree" -- that even non-Christians dismiss as silly.

Toronto city officials began the flap last week when they called the 50-foot tree set up outside City Hall a "holiday tree." That sparked much derision and prompted the city's mayor to set the record straight.
Be sure to sweep your chimneys for Holiday Man!
In related news, a Danish anti-piracy group has targeted users of Kazaa, sending them bills for allegedly downloaded material.
The alleged pirates were billed based on the amount of files they shared. For a single music file, they were charged $2.67; $26.70 for a movie and approximately $50 for a video game, Lindegaard said. But technical experts threw into question the fairness of the bill, pointing to the fact that copyrighted material from time to time is distributed for free across the Internet in a legitimate manner.
Hmm...

More interesting news via the Volokh Conspiracy. The Naval Academy cracking down on music sharing?
Thanks to Justin Kim who writes in with this article from the LA Times (registration req'd) that mentions another article from the current volume of The Yale Law Journal. Clymer's piece, "Are Police Free To Disregard Miranda?," is due out in the Journal next month in issue 3. It is relevant to a case being heard by the Supreme Court this Term, Chavez v. Martinez.

For more information, see Eugene's post at The Volokh Conspiracy.

In related news, Michael Graetz's recent Essay on reforming the tax systemcontinues to receive press. It appeared in the NY Times this past Sunday.
With Mr. Bush confronting the likelihood of a war with Iraq, the continued threat of terrorist attacks and a soft economy, tax reform is not his highest priority. Lobbyists and economists in Washington assume that he will raise the issue in his State of the Union address in January, then spend a year or two promoting the principle without backing a specific proposal or pushing for legislative action.

...

But in an effort to push the effort forward, Mr. O'Neill has been canvassing leading tax thinkers like Joel B. Slemrod of the University of Michigan, David F. Bradford of Princeton, Michael J. Graetz of Yale, Ronald A. Pearlman of Georgetown and Alan J. Auerbach of the University of California at Berkeley.
He also appeared in the New Haven Register last Friday.
Graetz said his proposal is simply an idea thrust into the public arena for consideration.

But Treasury Department officials have been giving their former colleague’s proposal serious attention.
Again, the Essay is available here and directly from The Yale Law Journal. (In less than two weeks, the Graetz piece has broken 2000 downloads.) Lily gives her criticism of the plan here.

China Watch:

Kristoff has an interesting column in the NY Times today.
Ms. Ma, a steel-willed woman of 54, was brave enough to tell her story of the persecution that Christians sometimes still face in China. Dozens of members of her church are still imprisoned, and those free are under tight scrutiny, but several church members dared to meet me for a tense interview after we all sneaked one by one into an unwatched farmhouse near Zhongxiang, a city in central China, 650 miles south of Beijing.

China is in many ways freer than it has ever been, and it's easy to be dazzled by the cellphones and skyscrapers. But alongside all that sparkles is the old police state. Particularly in remote areas like this, police can arrest people and torture or kill them with impunity, even if they are trying to do nothing more than worship God. Accordingly, Washington must press China hard to observe not only international trade rules, but also international standards for human freedom.

Secret Communist Party documents just published in a book, "China's New Rulers," underscore the grip of the police. The party documents say approvingly that 60,000 Chinese were killed, either executed or shot by police while fleeing, between 1998 and 2001. That amounts to 15,000 a year, which suggests that 97 percent of the world's executions take place in China. And it's well documented that scores of Christians and members of the Falun Gong sect have died in police custody.
Let's not let the smoke and mirrors of the recent change in power and the highly publicized "Three Represents" theory mask the truth about China.
I've just recently started reading Joanne Jacobs's blog, and she's got some great stuff. Even better, though, are her TechCentralStation columns. Two that have caught my eye: "Vanishing Valedictorians" and "Dumb, But Pretty."

On the first, Jacobs writes:
Adults are the ones trying to sell the line that everyone is special, which means that nobody is especially special. I think kids instinctively respect excellence. Grades aren't everything. But they're the way schools measure academic achievement, which is supposed to be schools' primary goal.

At the end of the year, students are honored for athletic and artistic excellence, for school spirit and community service. Great. I'm all for it. But let's also honor academic achievers. Viva the valedictorians.
This is an excellent point. Why, in the midst of concerns about too much money being spent on athletics, do we simultaneously reject giving academic excellence the same recognition we give to sports? What is wrong with rewarding academic excellence? We argue that it is important to recognize the arts and athletics because some kids are different, because talents can lie outside of the classroom. Fine. But for some students, academics is their talent. Why punish them for having "traditional" talents? (By way of full disclosure, I was valedictorian of my high school class.)

On the second, Jacobs writes:
I once saw a physics teacher proudly show colleagues a music video his students had made of their hands-on project, a model car. It was multi-media technology! It was hands on! It was . . . Well, it was wrong on the physics. A teacher in the audience -- there to learn how to use technology in their instruction -- pointed out the error. The trainer agreed the students had blown the physics. But they'd done it in multi-media.

I blame the "multiple intelligences" guy, Howard Gardner. He argues that schools focus on linguistic and logical intelligence, ignoring children whose strengths lie in other spheres, such as social, spatial or musical smarts.

It was an idea ripe for abuse. Coupled with the self-esteem crusade, multiple intelligences generated infinite excuses. If "Krisstofyr" can't write a grammatically correct sentence, it's OK because he's intelligent in other ways. The kinesthetic intelligence that lets him shoot paper wads into the wastebasket from the back row may not serve him well as a sub-literate adult. But he can feel good about himself for now.
I've made this point before in other words--there is value to basic skills oriented education. I don't totally agree with Joanne in that I think that manipulating the technology is also a useful skill. However, I do think that it should be a secondary concern. I've made the analogy before and I'll make it again. There is something to be said for learning to drive a car first and then to learn stick shift afterwards. It's a useful skill, but a bonus.

Here is a closely related phenomenon that I experienced as a student and tried to dissuade as a teacher: If the content of a paper was terrible, the student spruced up the presentation (pretty pictures, glossy covers) to obtain a higher grade.
Our reader[s] who care[s] about these things may want to check out Larry Lessig's blog, much of which deals with the intersection of law and cyberspace. Here's part of a recent post:

So there's this amazing site (for opera fans at least) called MetManiac, which before the lawyers found it, collected lists of Met opera performances from the beginning of the Met. Non-commercial, pure hobby, an extraordinary historical resource, this was the passion of a fan. If you follow the link, though, you'll see the Met lawyers have demanded the site be shut down....

Can anyone explain what sense it makes that this fan site, which collects historical facts about an important part of our culture, can be banned? I know the lawyers say "the law makes us do it" -- that trademark law, etc., requires that they police the way other people use their name. But what possible sense does such a law make[?] And at a time when opera around the world is struggling for resources to build an audience, what possible sense does it make to begin to attack your fans?
Lessig notes that the page is still available here.

If you're outraged by the incident Lessig describes, check out "The Freedom of Imagination: Copyright's Constitutionality," by Jed Rubenfeld, in The Yale Law Journal.
Quote of the Day:
"Captain Kirk speaks figuratively, and with undue emotion, but what he says is essentially correct, and I do, in fact, agree with it."
~ Mr. Spock, Star Trek

Song of the Day:
Chicago, "You're the Inspiration"

Happy Birthday:
Fern Barber
Charles Schulz
Tina Turner

Monday, November 25, 2002

Via Eve Tushnet (via Volokh), a guide to dining in DC. I could have used this over the summer. Speaking of Washington dining, eating at The Inn at Little Washington, which this guide calls "one of the best restaurants in North America," has been on my to-do-someday list for a long time. The Inn is actually out in the country, not far from where I grew up. But the locals never eat there.
Hmmm. Nick Daum's template looks awfully familiar.
I haven't had much computer time today. Abby and I were out shopping at an outlet mall and a fabulous crafts store. (New Havenites take note: 96.1 on your FM dial is playing all Christmas music.)

The highlight of the evening was our stop at the newly opened Krispy Kreme in Milford. We've posted before about how excited we are that the world's best doughnuts are now going to be available here, and now that the place is finally open I thought we'd pop in and get a quick sugar fix.

Well, apparently we're not the only people thrilled that Connecticut now has an alternative to the ubiquitous Dunkin' Donuts. There were cars lined up in every direction, and two policemen were directing traffic in and out of the parking lot! A sign pointed the way to satellite parking at a nearby restaurant, with a shuttle running back and forth to the Krispy Kreme. The line extended way outside the building, and there was a girl standing at the door letting people in a few at a time. And this was 7:00 on a Monday night, mind you.

As Abby and I were standing in line I remarked that the place had an eerie resemblance to a crack house, but that was really driven home when we reached the front of the line and a worker pulled two fresh doughnuts, piping hot and gooey with glaze, right off the assembly line and handed them to us, gratis. The first hit is always free. Not that I needed any convincing; I've loved Krispy Kremes ever since I was a little girl. My grandfather used take me to the one in Alexandria, Virginia and hold me up to the window to watch them being made.

We got a dozen "Original Glazed" and brought them back to share. Kate had two. It's been a good day. (Blogging from me may be somewhat reduced over the next few days, especially tomorrow, which is a travel day for part of the Cabinet.)
Wasn't going to post tonight, but many thanks to Steve Jens, who located the MIT Tech article on China's blocking of MIT WEB addresses.

More exciting stuff to post, but I'll save it for tomorrow. On the list--Steve Jens writes in asking my opinion on the EPA change in clean air regulations. I'd been saving that one for a rainy day. I suppose tomorrow is as good a time as any.
The Captain has also picked up Nick Daum's thought on why anyone would blog, given that all this crap gets archived. His answer? "That's Why Batman Wears a Mask."
The mysterious Juan (a term I borrow from Quare) at The Volokh Conspiracy is apparently embroiled in a debate with Dave Roberts over government subsidized energy conservation. I'm not totally up to speed on their discussion, but Juan has an excellent point about government subsidized energy conservation that I think many environmentalists would not dispute.
If there are other -- non-economic -- reasons to encourage such alternative energy sources or energy conservation, that's fine, but we shouldn't pretend such choices are cost free.
Isn't this exactly why most environmentalists still believe a certain element of command and control is necessary? Isn't this why we haven't privatized our national parks?

In related news, we've somehow made the blogroll at The Volokh Conspiracy. Only a few days after our first Volokh link, this is somewhat overwhelming. Much and humble thanks to the Volokh Horde.
China Watch:

Thanks to Eric Tam of Antidotal who wrote in with this link to a project being run out of the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School that is trying to determine the filtering (blocking) of websites in China.

In related news, a reader informs me that the MIT Tech recently reported that MIT WEB sites were being blocked in China. I have yet to confirm this for myself.
An academic seminar on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Balderdash, you say? Think again. From the NY Times:
Let's get the giggles and snorts out of the way now. The idea of an academic conference devoted to a show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is bound to arouse derision, and all sorts of talk about the trivialization of academia. That condescending cast of mind is all too familiar to those of us who have championed this gothic teen drama as the most daring, innovative and emotionally complex show on television.

...

[A] "Buffy" conference is no more outlandish than the notion of academic attention being paid to C. S. Lewis's "Narnia" books or to "The Lord of the Rings." Though it may still amuse those for whom "adult television" is epitomized by the tidy and dull civics lessons of "The West Wing."
I actually know quite a few snooty ivy league classmates who are avid followers of Buffy. They assert that the dialogue is actually quite clever (this is true--i've witnessed it myself).
I hate ads. I hate dumb ads even more. I'm also not a fan of companies that change their names in order to refresh their public image. So, this column in Slate appealed to me.
California leads on ...
Using the information the monitors gather on where the sun shines and how long, the utility plans to position solar panels around the city that it says will add 10 megawatts of solar power to the electricity grid over the next five years. That is about as much solar power as is now generated in Sacramento, the municipal leader nationwide. On average, 1 megawatt is enough electricity for 1,000 homes.

The long-term hope in San Francisco is to increase solar generation an additional 40 megawatts — enough to meet about 5 percent of the city's peak electricity needs — by installing photovoltaic panels on dozens of publicly owned structures, including schools, parking garages, covered reservoirs and even the municipal sewage plant.
Who said solar power would never be feasible? If foggy San Francisco is willing to give it a go, why is it not happening in Florida or Texas?

After thirty years, The Joy of Sex is getting a facelift. There seems to be quite a debate over whether today's generation will even want to read the book.
Still, even with additions on topics such as Viagra and AIDS, it's unlikely that the younger generation will find the new Joy of Sex as, well, stimulating. "I'm wondering if the people who'll read it aren't just going to be 70-year-olds doing it out of nostalgia," says Savage.
Hmm...
From Time, a very analytical look at The Two Towers:
Popular culture is the most sensitive barometer we have for gauging shifts in the national mood, and it's registering a big one right now. Our fascination with science fiction reflected a deep collective faith that technology would lead us to a cyberutopia of robot butlers serving virtual mai tais. With The Two Towers, the new installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, about to storm the box office, we are seeing what might be called the enchanting of America. A darker, more pessimistic attitude toward technology and the future has taken hold, and the evidence is our new preoccupation with fantasy, a nostalgic, sentimental, magical vision of a medieval age. The future just isn't what it used to be—and the past seems to be gaining on us.
I always wonder if these analyses of pop culture are reading way too much into things. Can it not be that these are just damn good movies?
But the appeal of fantasy goes deeper than mere nostalgic Luddism. Tolkien, a veteran of the British nightmare at the Somme in World War I, is a poet of war, and we are a nation in need of a good, clear war story. At a time when Americans are wandering deeper into a nebulous conflict against a faceless enemy, Tolkien gives us the war we wish we were fighting—a struggle with a foe whose face we can see, who fights out on the open battlefield, far removed from innocent civilians. In Middle-earth, unlike the Middle East, you can tell an evildoer because he or she looks evil.
I just don't know. This may be the case for some people, but I can tell you that I won't be thinking about terrorists or the Middle East when I go see The Two Towers. I'm going to get caught up in a fantastic tale that has been masterfully adapted to the big screen, to see a movie that builds on a wonderfully written story by aiding our imagination. I'm going to see the second installment of one the best trilogies to have come to the big screen in many, many years.
From Kausfiles:
Road Trip Report: The editor of kf has been taking the pulse of the American people while traveling across the heartland as fast as he possibly can. He files this report:

...

Friendliest people: New Haven, Connecticut. I can't explain it either.
Indeed. Inexplicable.

Abby, in her first trip to New Haven, was just commenting on how rude the retail staff seem to be.

Changing the way we live...

Here's the latest on Internet usage.
Gotta watch out for those islands, they can sneak up on you.
I've always been fascinated by space, as I'm sure is evident from this past post. How can you not be when you look at this photo of the recent space shuttle launch?
Via Denise Howell, Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" Boxers. What is it they say at Hooters? Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.
I linked to Paul Hardwick on Friday. Here is another privacy blog (via Buzzmachine). My interest in privacy law is waning for the moment as I take up other topics, but I'm sure it will be back in due time...
I would comment on this column by Brendan Miniter about how SUVs are good for the environment, but Quare does a pretty good job (scroll up), so I'll just let her comments stand for me.

One more comment on the Blog Conference:

As I mentioned during the conference, one of the major themes was libel. This should give any amateur blogger at least a moment's pause. Maybe I should take that class on First Amendment law before I graduate.

In related news, Nick Daum, a classmate here at YLS, has started a blog that he fittingly calls, "On his Permanent Record." Nick's musings about blogging are on target.
The title refers to a big mystery about blogging. Why would anyone want to do this? Why make public a bunch of ill-considered, half-baked, sometimes badly-written thoughts? I mean, isn't this the basic fear of that you have as an elementary school student, that everything you do will go down on your permanent record? Why wouldn't most people opt to not make these ideas public? Aren't we all more risk averse than that?

I guess part of the answer is that people care even more about seeming smart than seeming embarassed, which may be why blogging is so popular among people who put a big value on seeming smart: lawyers, academics, pundits.
Already off to a great start, Nick.

Nick's got some really good stuff. We've added him to our blogroll.

When will Western commentators learn not to always fall back on their self-important sense of "independence" and "creativity"? And to not stereotype Asian students as cyborg-like thinking machines? Most of the cutting edge developments in technology still come from Japan, long-term recession be damned. What good is free-swinging creativity if you don't have the work ethic to carry out your wondrous Western innovations?
Making classical music sexy.

Check out Bond, a quartet composed completely of young, attractive women. And they play well, too. You may have seen them on billboards in LA or on commercials on T.V. Their song, "Victory," is quite catchy.

I think this is a great thing for classical music, just as I thought that The Three Tenors was a great thing for classical music.
Math in pencil

My post(s) about requiring students to do math in pencil seems to have generated some interest. Joanne Jacobs picked it up here. Cold Spring Shops picked it up here.

This is a good time, I think, to point out my old post about the use of graphing calculators. I was, in many ways, a strong believer in old fashioned teaching methods. Math in pencil, first principles, lined paper, show your work. The thing is, though, that I never believed in memorizing formulas (and, let me tell you, my kids loved me for it). So, upon further reflection, it's not really a matter of being old-fashioned, but a matter of promoting thoroughness. This is especially true in the case of students who would refuse to show their work. Having once been that sort of student, I understood their utter frustration with my docking points for lack of work. The idea, however, was to promote thoroughness in their thinking. Mind you, I'm not saying mathematical intuition should be discouraged. But, for most people, there will come a point when the math is far too complicated to simply intuit. And at that point, you need a more organized method of thinking about math, even if you choose to do it in your head. It is a teacher's responsibility to train that sort of organization at a young age, when it can be trained. In my opinion, the best way of doing that is to enforce showing one's work.

In related news, I completely see the logic in how spelling and penmanship can improve a student's writing. I also taught by using "fill-in" handouts--my method of enforced notetaking. There is something to be said for the effect of writing on learning.

A question I was pondering this weekend:

Who doesn't like Necco Wafers? (This is not totally random--on Saturday, I drove by the Necco factory in Cambridge.)
Things are getting even uglier down in Louisiana. (And check out the URL they gave the story.)
Blog Conference wrap-up:

The conference seemed like a success. It was definitely a success for us. We had lots of new eyeballs come through the blog and received several nice emails. We will try to get back to everyone soon (read: today). Thanks for all the kind comments. It's motivating to know that people (1) are reading and (2) want to keep reading.

We've added several new permanent links as a result of the conference. Check them out.

One last comment on the conference. We had the rare privilege not only of meeting Instapundit, but also of watching him blog. That is certainly a site to behold. He's a very intense blogger and sort of larger than life as he looms over the laptop.

Alright, I have a pile of stuff I want to post. It will go up slowly today as I remember what they were...
Movie Quote of the Day:
"Oh, those are pretty pictures. What have you modeled for?"
"Guess."
"Are you a Breck girl?"
"No, Guess Jeans."
"Levi's? Wrangler? Osh Kosh B'Gosh?"
~ The Brady Bunch Movie

Song of the Day:
Orgy, "Blue Monday"

Happy Birthday:
Christina Applegate
Barbara and Jenna Bush
Joe DiMaggio
John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Carry Nation

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Well, I'm back from The Game. We lost. It sucked. And the silly undergrads never got up a good "Safety School" jeer. Plenty of renditions of "Harvard Sucks!" though.

Actually, I got back last night, but found I was way too tired to function so I watched TV and went to sleep. Got some work done today--should be able to post a few things before the end of today.
Back from a day in Cambridge. I won't comment on The Game, but I do have a few thoughts about the experience:

1.) It was cold. Really, really cold. Next time, I will wear wool socks.

2.) The Kitchen Cabinet has had more than its share of automobile-related tickets this weekend. And my car is filthy from being parked in a muddy field in Cambridge (we paid $10 for the privilege).

3.) The Kitchen Cabinet needs its rest. I went to bed at 9:00 last night, something I haven't done since about the sixth grade. The jet-lagged Abby is just now emerging from 14 hours of sleep.

4.) Harvard sucks. (I saw a T-shirt that expanded very effectively on this thought, but this is a family website.)

Off to show Abby around New Haven and Yale!
Here's an excellent piece from Randy Barnett, who has advice for Republicans on how to keep libertarians "inside the tent." (I saw it on Friday, but I didn't want to post it then and have it get lost in all the conference-related fashion coverage.) Here's my favorite bit of advice:

Nominate more libertarian-conservative judges like Clarence Thomas to the courts who care about protecting individual liberty, not just traditionalist-conservative judges like Robert Bork who care most about the "liberty" of the majority to enshrine its preferences into law.
Barnett also urges Republicans to "[s]top making snide gratuitous remarks about libertarians." Jonah Goldberg, who specializes in making snide gratuitous remarks about libertarians, has a response to that.
Quote of the Day:
"A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five."
~ Groucho Marx

Song of the Day:
The Bangles, "Eternal Flame"

Happy Birthday:
William F. Buckley, Jr.
Dale Carnegie
Scott Joplin
Zachary Taylor
Strom Thurmond

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Drat. One more. So call me a liar...

There's been some fuss about Professor Neal Katyal's recent column in Slate about conspiracy theory. I mention this in a self-interested way because it will generate quite a bit of advance publicity for Katyal's forthcoming Article in The Yale Law Journal, appropriately entitled "Conspiracy Theory." Expect it to "hit the newsstands" in April 2003.
Quote of the Day:
"I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University."
~ William F. Buckley, Jr.

Song of the Day:
"Boola Boola"

Happy Birthday:
Bruce Hornsby
Franklin Pierce
One more post before I go to bed and head up to Cambridge tomorrow.

Some readers have asked about the Gulf Wars parody poster that brought so many people over from Volokh. (To think, we've been hoping we'd get a Volokh link for some time now and this is what catches his eye. Ah well, we take what we can get.).

Anyway, some readers have asked about the poster: Is it real? Can it be bought?

Answer: It is available in the latest issue of Mad Magazine. That should be clear from this page, but if that changes, here is the on-line link to the Gulf Wars poster on the Mad site. Thanks to all the Volokh readers for stopping by. Come again!

Friday, November 22, 2002

Alright, well, that's all she wrote from here. Maybe some posting on Sunday. We will be up in Boston watching Yale pummel Harvard tomorrow. Picking up Abby at the airport in a few hours.
China Watch:

This is a funny post.
John Hiler is pointing at himself, saying, "I am Larry Lessig." It was pretty funny.

This is in the context of a discussion about reporters v. webloggers. Why isn't there more straight up reporting by bloggers? Why is it mostly just discussion and analysis? There is something to be said for the special skill sets that reporters have. On the other hand, Blogads wonders about reporters who have daily deadlines as compared to webloggers who have specialties and report on that sort of stuff. Why aren't the bloggers any better than the reporter who's coming to it for the first time? Again, more word-for-word detail is at Lawmeme.

Instapundit weighs in: His experience with reporters has been somewhat different. He thinks bloggers can compare to traditional journalists with regard to being conscientious.

Josh clarifies--It is not that bloggers are unable to have the same skill set. It's just a matter of being able to invest the time. [I think this is an excellent point--unless you have people who are blogging full time. But even then, the blogging loses one of its greatest aspects: speed]

Another interesting point from the audience: The worst stuff may be what rises to the top as it is what other bloggers will attack.
Another flattering post at The Fog of Warre:
Also on the table is how much bloggers are afraid to anger those who send you a lot of traffic; thus, you're unlikely to find Kaus attacking Drudge (or me attacking the kitchen cabinet).
Thanks, Tim.
Renee Hopkins writes in and directs us to some good comments she has on some of Instapundit's speech.
Last panel is up:

On professional journalists joining the blogosphere. Here is the Lawmeme link for the transcription of the panel. Here is the Lawmeme link for the people who are blogging.

John Hiler thinks it is remarkable that blogs are holding their own against a controlled substance. In a straw poll of the room, most people have a blog or read a blog while very few smoke cigarettes. Hmm... He continues on about how and why blogging is such an addicting process. Moreover, it is doing well against other sorts of addictive media--such as books and television. John argues that it is the unpredictability of weblogs--have they updated? have you received hate mail?--that drives the addiction. [A fascinating presentation, but kind of disturbing as I reflect on how much time I spend blogging] John's final point: Businesses don't get it.

David Gallagher--anecdotes! Some very funny stories. The best place to get full transcripts is Lawmeme.

Jeff Jarvis--The Internet is the first medium that is owned by the audience. "The audience has a voice." It is not a medium where it is the editor influencing what is said. Jeff has faith in the taste of the audience; this is why he loves the Internet. On television, at the end of the day, the audiences will watch good stuff. So, "populism matters." Weblogs add a sense of quality to the discussion--the links help set out the best weblogs. [This is a fairly inspiring presentation, especially from someone who has continued to remind us all day that he comes from old media.] He does assert that it is a bit egotistical to argue that webloggers can replace journalism. Reporters do things that we cannot do (he refers to Daniel Pearl). Should we affect media? Sure. But not replace it. "Webloggers have not been discovered yet."

Josh Marshall--Weblogs can't do the same sort of reporting that reporters for big media do. There is just too much time (and money) involved. "Weblogs are going to permanently be a churn medium." And that is a good thing. Weblogs are also useful to engage the discussion that doesn't make it into print media. Josh brings up the good point that as one's readership grows, the informal rules for what one can and cannot write must change. The transcendant rule is fundamental honesty with your readers.

A pervading concern today, aside from the question of how blogs will interact with big media, is that of libel. A serious consideration for the amateur blogger.

Buzzmachine is also blogging from the conference with a report. Oh, this is good. Lawmeme is going to consolidate a list of those who are blogging here.
Professor Balkin has just legal-fied the conversation, which, in a demonstration of the unfortunate way that law school has transformed me, I find very very interesting. He is arguing that there need to be tighter rules on libel so that we don't blur the lines of libel so far that insurance companies, for instance, begin to change the rules in such a way that bloggers start getting screwed.

Excellent debate between Kaus and Balkin. This is one of those moments where I am once again reminded why I am impressed by our faculty here. Check out the Lawmeme site for the synopsis.

Instapundit offers another interesting perspective--that Google in some way mitigates the need for full disclosure of conflicts of interest. Can you assume that the people looking at information on the Internet have access to all this information about the speaker? This actually reminds me of an on-going discussion in the Law Review community. The growing consensus among the editors seems to be that law review articles are too long and that they can be considerably shortened because the people who read these articles are getting them on Westlaw or Lexis, wherein they have access to much of the information provided in these articles in long-winded surveys of the previous literature.
The Hotline calls this "The Hall of Fame Typo."
More on the Blue Book at Schnabel. Here's the thing about software that bluebooks. While the Blue Book is something that dictates rules, which would seem to lend itself to an elaborate computer program, it is also something that needs to be interpreted. We on the Journal treat parts of the Blue Book as, as dorky as this sounds, a living document.

Okay. That was toolish. I will stop before I say anything else dumb.

UPDATE: A reader writes in expressing pity for me. I knew I shouldn't have posted this.
Denise Howell has a good synopsis of Instapundit's speech.
As Mickey Kaus takes the podium, some reflections on the sartorial winners and losers of the conference. Hey, I promised!

Winners: Ernie Miller (understated gray and black); Glenn Reynolds (those are tiny cheetahs on his tie!); Jeff Jarvis (dapper black suit "paid for by old media").

Losers: Perhaps Jack Balkin should re-think the red tie. But all in all, I give us bloggers surprisingly high marks for style. No real losers here!
Kaus is up now, looking professorial in jeans, a green button-down, and a navy blazer (no tie) and talking about liberal bias at the NYT. He has considerably less hair than InstaPundit.
Captain Indignant writes us with the following: "Are there really people interested in reading realtime shorthand notes of this?"

Good question, Captain. We don't know. But we're enough gluttons for attention that we'll blog the conference in hopes that people will like us.

UPDATE: Two readers have written in assuring us that we should keep going.
Mickey Kaus.

Like Instapundit, Mickey Kaus says his speech will resemble a blog.

Here is the Lawmeme link for a veritable transcription of the speech.

Questions he intends to answer:

1. Will Blogs replace conventional media?
2. Will Blogs ever make any money?
3. Why are Bloggers so damn right wing?
4. Will Blogging require changing the law on free speech?
5. Will Blogging lead to more tribal cocooning? (the Sunstein problem)
6. Is Blogging good for journalism?

Answers:

1. No. Some people are going to get the inside information (like Instapundit)--they will become conventional media. [This is exactly my point. The centralized sites, like Instapundit and Slashdot, may challenge big media, but individual bloggers, the thousands of us, as individual bloggers will not.]
2. Probably not. RSS will kill us.
3. Three theories, here is the funniest: Right wingers are angrier (angry at a bunch of things). Kaus favors a media bias theory ("Why should left-wingers pick on bloggers when they've got the NY Times.") [Well, I guess that depends on whether bloggers are a real threat to big media. Whee, and we're back to the same question, again.]
4. Blogging provides reasons for relaxing libel law. (a) Changing definition of the press (b) Technology of correction has sped up. This undercuts the basis of libel law. (c) There is a different ecology--discussion, not just one-way where the media force feeds the public. [Insert funny conversation between Instapundit and Mickey Kaus about libel insurance]
5. Blogs are in part the antidote to cocooning. Kaus suggests that this discussion is fantastic. But he does offer there are a few people who he would think twice about attacking: (1) Drudge, (2) Instapundit. [Interesting]
6. Yes. Blogs increase the speed of dissemination. There is also the benefit of anonymity that induces greater discussion [a la the Federalist papers!]

This is very much like Professor John Langbein's approach to lecturing. "QUESTION!" (pause) "ANSWER!" At least he doesn't call on us.
Instapundit is talking to Lily! Right now!! We'll see what she has to report.
Question from question and answer:

What about control of information? Well, this gets to part of the value about Sitemeter and, as Jeff Jarvis just said, "Privacy be damned." Instapundit adds that there is something to be said for simply labeling those people who don't want people to inbound link as people who are "not clear on the concept."

In related news, I've just heard from Paul Hardwick about Privacydigest.com.
"Blogging is a native form of the Internet." --Ernest Miller

I couldn't agree with this more. The Internet, like E-mail, has changed life because it has added instant transfer of information to our world. That is its strength. It creates the ability to interact rapidly and frequently. I don't totally agree with Donna in that the Internet is not built to tranfer information, but I do see her point that this has been a secondary development.
The Jens brothers jump into the debate on centralization of blogging that was going on here during Instapundit's speech. Worth checking out.
Here's a funny thing about this conference. Most of the bloggers are relatively soft-spoken. Articulate, no doubt, as one would expect from people who write frequently and quickly, but soft spoken. I kind of feel like I'm at a techified conference for NPR.
The following are exploits of the gentlemen of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Duke University:

One undergraduate had attempted to break into the home of a professor and was subdued by the Durham police only with the use of a canine unit and then kicked out the window of the police cruiser transporting him to a magistrate's office.

Within 24 hours, another undergraduate member of SAE ignited himself after pouring kerosene on his arm in the presence of his "brothers" who did nothing to stop him.

An undergraduate member informed me that he was arrested for possession of five different controlled substances.
Fraternity boys behaving badly is not a new phenomenon, of course. But when I was at Duke, SAE just had a reputation for being very white, very rich, and very from New Jersey. I don't remember any stories like this.
Lawmeme, again, is a much better source of nearly word-for-word blogging of what the speakers are saying. Schnabel has periodic updates. Henry Copeland (blogads) is also running a very detailed play by play.

Jenny Levine--Blogging takes us to the next level. We can focus on content rather than the publishing medium. The library has to come to you. One of the key question is how do we filter this information, how do we determine what we want, how do we know what to shift with us? Where does RSS fit into the future of information dissemination?

Denise Howell--Weblogs have something to add to the practice of law. It provides a certain transparency at a very low cost. It could revolutionize marketing. Goldstein & Howe in Washington, D.C. blogs as a marketing vehicle.

Donna Wentworth--Her first public speech! ("I write because I don't speak." I can understand this...) She has been assigned the topic of blogs and education. Why are blogs important to education? Why does the Berkman center have a blog? At a law school, the Internet is not a delivery system either for information or entertainment product. Blogs have a higher calling--they build on what the Internet does the best, which is act as an open forum for the development of ideas (an excellent point!).

Seth Schoen--(Ha ha. A joke for us law review dorks. Seth traded a UNIX book for a bluebook. He definitely got the short end of that stick, though he claims otherwise). He's told some anecdotes about how blogging can be effective in publishing. (Seth indirectly adds here to the debate on whether blogs can seriously challenge Big Media. He added an anecdote about how it is becoming increasingly difficult for things to be "closed to public" because all you need is one blogger to break open the dam.)
Interesting--the Victoria's Secret fashion show is bringing heat down on the FCC. What I don't understand is why Temptation Island and Tempted again Island didn't draw this kind of fire. Or even The Bachelor! There is definitely something disturbing about that show. When the guy proposed on the last day, it was clear that the two of them really didn't know each other that well...
The panel on law and blogs is about to start.

Denise Howell, Intellectual Property Lawyer, Bag and Baggage.
Jenny Levine, Librarian from South Chicago, The Shifted Librarian.
Seth Schoen, activist, Consensus at Lawyerpoint.
Donna Wentworth, from (bleh) Harvard, Corante: Copyfight.

Ernest Miller, the moderator, offers the suggestion that blogging is helping to finally make information free.
InstaPundit spoke to me! And shook my hand! I feel like one of those teenage girls on the Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles came on.

And I was just told that Mickey Kaus and Josh Marshall are sitting right in front of me...

Make sure you check out other conference coverage here and here.
From Reuters:
Ostenson noted that the computer manual did warn against operating it directly on exposed skin but said the patient had lap burns even though he had been wearing trousers and underpants.

"This...story should be taken as a serious warning against use of a laptop in a literal sense," he added.
Yikes.
There's a crowd of people gathered around Instapundit. This is not unlike the standard operating procedure in our law classes here. Maybe it has to do with the room. It just compels people to rush the speaker afterwards.
I'm sure this will get repeated, but I've got to put it up.

"Bloggers are like roaches." --Instapundit

There's some discussion about whether bloggers can stand up to whatever chilling effect there is on speech since we are don't have the backing of giant lawfirms, etc. Microcontentnews offered that his writing has been somewhat chilled by past responses he's received with regard to some of the things he's written. Instapundit suggested the positive flipside of our smallness is that many bloggers are functionally judgment-proof. ("Sue the homeless [blogger]!") Judgment proof doesn't mean that we don't get scared, though. Whether we'll actually be held liable is one thing--whether we self-censor because we don't want hate mail is wholly separate.
The first question in question and answer got right to the question of big media vs. weblogs. Blogads suggested that big media can't really compete with a room full of computers. (Blogads is blogging the conference, too.) I agree--but only if we centralize. An army of bloggers spread out over the world can seriously challenge a crack team of reporters, but only if we put together something organized--as Instapundit suggests, maybe something like Slashdot.

"Tying them together is the hard part." --Instapundit

A good suggestion from the audience: The big media that should be concerned are things like Time and Newsweek, purely commentary and analysis type magazines that consider news that is already old.
Is audio blogging the wave of the future?

Instapundit suggests it might be.

Here's an interesting point: Blogging has made Instapundit somewhat less an advocate of Internet privacy. I see his point. I've been a huge advocate of Internet privacy--just had a paper published on Internet privacy--and felt kind of dirty when I started using Sitemeter. He suggests that Sitemeter and other such trackers make you appreciate that there are some (pseudo) legitimate reasons for these minor violations of privacy. I feel a little better about it, but I still feel dirty.

Perhaps his best point of the day so far: Another thing that weblogs have made him appreciate are the number of really smart people there are. People who don't have the credentials or the letters after their names. Yet, when he gets their emails, he sees how brilliant these people are. This is something that many people need to experience. If it takes something as simple as a moderately successful weblog to teach people tolerance and open-mindedness, then let's start handing them out! Unfortunately, the operative phrase here is "moderately successful." I think weblogs can probably encourage the opposite, as well. People who set up weblogs that only get a small amount of traffic, all of which is affirmative, will be encouraged to consider pursuing their limited worldviews.
The last line of InstaPundit's speech:

"[The Internet is] a big playground for guys like me. And there are a lot of guys like me."
And girls.
More trivial observations: InstaPundit has an impressive head of hair. And just the tiniest hint of a southern accent.

Uh-oh. He just mentioned Internet privacy. This is going to get Kate excited.
"The political consequences of weblogs are easy to exaggerate." --Instapundit

The speech has taken somewhat of a turn. Instapundit is now arguing that the real affect of the computing revolution will come through computer games. In particular, from one of my personal favorites, Sid Meier's Civiliation. His argument is that the assumptions built into gaming will have a greater impact on society.

Interesting.
Instapundit has just gotten to exactly what I was talking about. Weblogs are not going to replace big media as far as getting news reports are concerned, but they are going to push big media at commentary, analysis, and features. I think this is an excellent point.

Lawmeme is documenting Instapundit's speech here.
CNN reports on the labor situation at Yale, where talks between the university and its unions appear to be at a stalemate for the moment. Says the article: "Labor unions think Yale's struggle is especially important because its role in the world. Four of the last six U.S. presidents are Yale alumni."

And two of those four, I might add, are Yale Law School alumni.
Instapundit is contrasting weblogs to what Cass Sunstein found in his book Republic.com. Sunstein's primary concern, according to Instapundit (I feel lame that I haven't read Sunstein's book), was that the Internet was polarizing and that people were talking past each other, avoiding links to people who disagreed with them and linking to people who agree with them. Weblogs have "answered" Sunstein's concern, says Instapundit.

Thus, what looked like a problem--polarization of dialogue--is no longer a problem. The lesson then is not to regulate ahead of technology. Contrary to Sunstein's suggestion, we don't need to regulate the dialogue on the Internet.
The conference has started. Professor Balkin and Ernest Miller have both laid the groundwork for their motivations in having this conference here at YLS. The underlying goal: Blogs are changing journalism, and blogs must be taken seriously as a type of journalism. Blogs are "a new media form."

Fair enough. I've never really agreed with this argument. If we could centralize blogging--that is, have bloggers as local on-the-scene, instantaneous reporters that all report back to a centralized location--we might then be talking seriously about a new sort of journalism. While bloggers are able to scoop big media with regularity, the fact that it is still quite scattered diminishes its timeliness.

Instapundit is speaking--let's see what he has to say.
InstaPundit is now on the red carpet! (ie, the front of the room, where people are milling around.) He's dressed conservatively in a charcoal-gray suit (blue shirt), and yes, he looks just like his picture!

Turnout has improved since I posted last. It is heavily male; I count only six women in the room, including me.

InstaPundit is speaking!
As an athlete myself, I've never been one to revel in another's injury. But, I can't say I'm not happy to hear that Harvard has lost two of its best players. All rules are off with regards to Harvard.
As if losing 44-9 to the University of Pennsylvania before a national television audience was not demoralizing enough, the Harvard Crimson has experienced another sudden setback in its efforts to salvage a once-promising season.

Star quarterback Neil Rose and All-Ivy wide receiver Carl Morris will not take the field Saturday when Yale and Harvard clash for the 119th time in the history of the rivalry. Team doctors cited a severe case of elephantiasis in Rose's throwing arm that began after he visited the Central African Republic for special back treatment, while Morris chose to boycott the game against the wishes of his teammates and his coaches.

"Listen, I don't know what the administration is trying to pull, but if my friends can't consume beer from a keg before they watch me play, then I don't want to play," said Morris, referring to Harvard administrators' decision to ban kegs from tailgates and weekend parties during the weekend of The Game. "I mean I remember The Game last year at Yale. Now those people know how to party. If you think alcohol is not a part of football, then you're crazy."
HA! That Morris guy is a tool. Whatever happened to love of the game? I can tell you I love to beat Harvard.

UPDATE: A Harvard alum (Jeff Cooper) asks if I realized this was a joke. No. I really thought Neil Rose had "elephantitis" in his arm. That's the kind of education they provide us here at Yale. They train us to be gullible. Sheesh. Cantabs. We invented jokes here at Yale.

UPDATE again: Cooper has thrown the gauntlet!
It appears Instapundit has asked us to link to other people who are blogging the conference. Good idea. Except that I don't know who else is blogging the conference.

Bag and Baggage has links to a number of people. I've also heard that James Grimmelman will be "in charge" of blogging the conference. Tim Schnabel, a fellow YLS blogger, also appears to be blogging the conference.
After a near-sleepness night of anticipation and self-doubt, I am here at the Revenge of the Blog conference and ready to blog it! Glenn Reynolds is scheduled to begin speaking in about 10 minutes. So far, turnout looks low. Stay tuned... and SCROLL UP from this post for more coverage!
A wonderful essay by J. Bottum in First Things is called "Dakota Thanksgiving," but it's really about family, and growing up:

Thanksgiving was arguments and huffs and recriminations and doors slamming and one indistinguishable great-uncle or another rousing himself from his after-dinner torpor to growl, "Now, now," from an easy chair, puffing through his mustache like an irritated walrus as he loosened his belt another notch. Thanksgiving was my sisters crying, and my aunt rising like Athena in righteousness at the dining-room table to shout, "You wretched insect," and my father slipping off to the kitchen to sit at the counter and hold his head, muttering, "Every year. Every goddamn year."
It's worth reading just for Bottum's description of his appetite at age fourteen, when he would eat entire wax-paper packages of graham crackers and cover them with butter to make them more filling. Read it, and look forward to your own Thanksgiving.
The Washington Post has a story on Harvard Law School's consideration of a ban on offensive speech:

[T]he school is also offering first-year students a new course to help them "manage difficult conversations" and learn how to speak with sensitivity on touchy issues such as race and gender.
Even the name of the body considering the proposed code sounds Orwellian. It's "The Committee on Healthy Diversity."
Movie Quote of the Day:
"I think you're the opposite of paranoid. I think you go around with the insane delusion that people like you."
~ Deconstructing Harry

Song of the Day:
Indigo Girls, "Power Of Two"

Happy Birthday:
Benjamin Britten
Jamie Lee Curtis
Charles de Gaulle
Mariel Hemingway
Billie Jean King

Thursday, November 21, 2002

A reader sends in a link that, regardless of what you think of the possible war in Iraq, is funny. Unless you've never seen Star Wars. Of course, then you've just been living in a cave and what you think is funny isn't important.
Breaking news from Andy Borowitz:

New Tape May Mean Al Gore Is Alive: Intelligence Analysts Studying Chilling Today Show Appearance.
Senator Orrin Hatch, soon-to-be-Chair (again) of the Judiciary Committee, on the judicial nomination process, last night on CNBC:

The Democrats know that I'm fair. They know that I try to do what's right. They know that I'm not a vindictive person. I'm hopeful that they will work with me. I think most of them will. On the other hand, you know, let's face it, they don't want any judges who may be moderate to conservative on the bench -- or certainly conservative judges. My attitude is that's what we choose when we choose our president and as long as they nominate people who are qualified it's irrelevant what our personal, ideological beliefs are. But we're getting to the point that Democrats are insisting that every judge should be pro-choice or pro-abortion or they're not going to support them. Now that is ridiculous.
Hatch also said, "I think we probably will get at least one Supreme Court Justice this year to retire." Funny way to put it, but okay.

In other Supreme Court news, publishers are bidding on the rights to Justice Clarence Thomas' memoirs. The final deal is expected to be in the low seven figures. Thomas has already written about 100 pages, "mostly about his childhood in segregated Georgia."
The Volokh Conspiracy is, in the words of Lily Malcolm, quickly becoming the Volokh Horde. Two more bloggers have joined the growing ranks.
Saving the world, Boston-style

MIT reports: (link via Science Blog)
The search for a Holy Grail of climate science may be nearing an end, if an MIT-led project is launched by NASA to measure soil moisture—data needed to predict global change, assess global warming and support the Kyoto Protocol.

That measurement has been missing from the array of clues—rainfall, atmospheric chemistry, humidity and temperature—used by scientists to predict change in the local and global climate. Using soil moisture, they can calculate evaporation—the process that links the water, energy and carbon cycles—giving them a better understanding of global change.
This could be phenomonal, especially for people who have been considering a law suit as a means to pressure U.S. companies or the U.S. government to change their ways. Much of the rest of the lawsuit can rely on recent ingenious class action mechanisms. Causation, however, remains one of the major sticking points.

Harvard offers a much more fluffy contribution to the global warming dilemma:
[I]f there is still anyone out there who does not believe in global warming, Michael B. McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies and director of Harvard's Center for the Environment, has a message for them: "This is not controversial," he says. "It's not just a gentle warming. And it's caused by us."

....

The reason for the inaction, McElroy believes, boils down to partisanship. George H.W. Bush, during his tenure, was a "very easy target for people who cared about the environment. Then what happened is Clinton and Gore were elected, and suddenly the person who cared most publicly about environmental issues, Al Gore, is vice president. And so the environment now becomes a political target for the other side. And it's been politicized ever since. We've got to get to the point where the environment is not a liberal-conservative issue."
Typical Harvard. No real value added, but a lot of silly hot air.

This man is hard up for Viagra. (Pun fully intended.)
Why does everybody love Raymond? Slate's Virginia Hefferman examines "CBS's Seinfeld for Catholics." The show is a favorite of Mother Malcolm's.
Here's the latest on the obesity suit against McDonald's.
During the first court hearing in the highly publicized case, a lawyer for the fast-food chain urged a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss the suit because restaurants are not legally required to tell consumers what they already know.

...

He said that the law does not require that restaurants warn customers of the "universally understood" fact that common foods contain fat, salt, sugar, cholesterol and other basic ingredients. Lerman said that reasonable people know what products are in hamburgers and fries and what excessive eating of those products does to one's waistline over a prolonged period.

"People don't wake up one day thin then wake up the next day and are obese," he said.
Seems like a good point. I need to know more to comment intelligently on it.

In related news, Harvard researchers have isolated the gene for obesity and diabetes.
It seems that just as animals might give early warning signs of earthquakes, animals might provide early warning of major climate change. From the Science Blog:
Scientists have shown, for the first time, that changes in a large-scale climate system can synchronize population fluctuations in multiple mammal species across a continent-scale region. The study, to be published in the 14 November 2002 issue of the journal Nature, compares long-term data on the climate system known as the North Atlantic Oscillation with long-term data from Greenland on the population dynamics of caribou and muskoxen, which are large mammals adapted to breeding in the Arctic.
An interesting story, but not very well written.
A long, interesting article in The Atlantic Monthly chronicles the descent of chess champion Bobby Fischer into paranoid anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. Then there's this fascinating passage about the high point of Fischer's career, when he faced Soviet Boris Spassky in Iceland in 1972 for the world championship:

Distressed at their countryman's poor showing, members of the Soviet delegation began to make their own unreasonable demands, hoping to unnerve Fischer. They accused him of using a concealed device to interfere with Spassky's brain waves. The match was halted while police officers searched the playing hall. Fischer's chair was taken apart, light fixtures were dismantled, the entire auditorium was swept for suspicious electronic signals. Nothing was found. (In a subsequent investigation a Soviet chemist waved a plastic bag around the stage and then sealed it for lab analysis. The label affixed to the bag read "Air from stage.")

Fischer wasn't flustered. If anything, his play became stronger. As the week wore on, Spassky began slowly to crack, and on September 1 he resigned.
Fischer is under indictment in the U.S. and now lives in Japan.