Friday, January 31, 2003

Do you talk in your sleep? Steal the covers? A NYT Magazine article covers ''parasomnias'' -- unwanted and involuntary behaviors that occur during sleep. Parasomniacs do some pretty hilarious things. "But it's not so funny if you are one of the automatons eating raw bacon and cigarettes."
China Watch:

Happy New Year!!!!
Steve Wu feels bad for Yale Law Students, since we appear to be bad at math. I have two quibbles with this. (1) Being a bright law student does not necessitate strong math skills. (I suppose the quibble more accurately assessed is with his assertion that a classroom of Yale Law Students is a classroom of "the smartest students in America.") (2) The problem did not involve only the basic laws of exponents, since one had to figure out 10^6 and also know that .001 is 10^(-3) to make use of the basic laws of exponents.
TIME reports on a conservative student publication at UC Berkeley.
The New Republic's editors say that "[t]he mask of nuanced criticism has been pulled off the moderate antiwar position, exposing it for the abject pacifism it truly is."

They then proceed to bash The New York Times editorial page. Good stuff.

My favorite line: "Liberals' most pervasive intellectual tic has been to argue against war on the grounds that somebody else is against it." Excellent observation. I get so sick of hearing about what cowboys the French and Germans must think we are. It's not entirely irrelevant, I'll grant you, but it's also not an argument.
Another one for the "Separated at Birth" files: Yale Law Prof Vicki Schultz and actress Jennifer Coolidge (the manicurist in Legally Blonde and Mrs. Stifler in American Pie)?
Steven Jens e-mails me regarding my post below:

At the risk of making you insufferable, I'll remind you that Duke usually wins when you *don't* speak in French to your television. Unless you're really there for every game...
True enough. I do watch every game I can, unless life or Comcast Cable interferes. Last night while Duke was whaling away on Butler, for instance, the Cabinet was at a law school party, spiking each other's drinks. And Duke still won. But hey, it's Butler...
Ted Turner has moved to Florida to avoid paying state income taxes.
Who's to blame for the Red Sox losing the 1986 World Series? It's not Bill Buckner, it's ESPN's Bill Simmons!

Similarly, it's a little-known fact that Duke wins when I, Lily Malcolm, speak in French to my television.

Speaking of the Blue Devils, a reader points out that, following a poor crowd showing in Cameron at last night's win over Butler, debate is raging on dukebasketballreport.com over the quality of the Cameron Crazies. One poster writes:

I never thought I'd say this, but occasionally there are things that are more important in life than Duke basketball. Tonight, I elected to go to a music lecture that was being given by one of my music theory professors. I was going to go to the game when I got back but we were up 16 and frankly the game didn't look that interesting.

I hate to say it but you're dealing with a very different Duke student body these days. Basketball is not that important to most of them and it's been slowly declining over my four years here. I don't know if I'm over exaggerating the problem or if this is even something worth worrying about. Yeah, I know that we're supposed to be the Cameron Crazies, but that was a Duke of at least a good decade ago.... I think everyone needs to come to grips with the fact that Duke may never have the consistently psychotic fans it's been known to. I think we'll still get up for most big ACC games and the high profile non-conference games but the era of every game being a big game seems to be coming to a close.
I don't know. Just like every January, the tents have been up for the Carolina game for weeks, and come Wednesday night, Cameron will be packed to the rafters and impossibly loud. Even 5+ years ago, supposedly during the height of Craziness, it was possible to walk into a game against a weak non-conference opponent on a school night.
The movie Frida, a biography of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), tells us whom she slept with, male and female; the lifelong pain she suffered after a hideous bus accident; what she wore; how she decorated her house; what she ate; how much she drank; what music she listened to; and what she read. What the movie doesn't tell us is how she developed her style of painting--surrealism that uses her bodily pain as its symbolic matrix. Her representative style is florid, feverish, and yet the figures seem detached, frozen. The paintings mostly show Kahlo herself, glancing out blankly like a sitter for a family portrait, sometimes posed almost conventionally with pets or foliage, or, more strikingly, holding hands with a second Frida, both with their anatomically rendered hearts exposed (like Christ in votive paintings, minus the certainty of a prettifying transcendence). Kahlo's style synthesizes the unself-consciousness of primitive painting, but there's something more sophisticated in the frank challenge she presents to the viewer. She was far too well educated to be called a naïve artist (and her father was also a visual artist, a photographer).

Instead, the movie is about her brawling marriage to the muralist Diego Rivera, who compulsively cheated on her, even with her own sister. This is the stuff of soap opera, and in fact Frida is much closer in substance and feel to '50s melodramas than Todd Haynes's Far from Heaven, which took them as its model. The heroine of Far from Heaven is a sad paperdoll of a housewife who can't even finish a sentence when she discovers that her husband has been … with another …. Yes, Julianne Moore quivers exquisitely in Far from Heaven, but how much sensitive helplessness can you sit through? Doris Day played more robust characters than Moore's. Salma Hayek as Kahlo reminds you of those gallant, hard-drinking broads played by Susan Hayward who won and lost their men, round after round, or of Lana Turner in her gamier roles, combined with the glamorous showhorses played by Hayward and Eleanor Parker who overcame plane wrecks or polio to belt their way back to the top from their wheelchairs. Frida Kahlo was an original painter, but the movie, while apparently sticking close to the facts, is very Hollywood--sex, booze, and musical interludes (sometimes all three at once, as in a girl-on-girl dirty tango with Ashley Judd). In Frida, as in soap opera, drama is synonymous with the torments of love. Hayek is a brave, tireless performer, and earthier than Hayward and Turner (though she leeringly overdoes the bisexual moments), but given the script she can only play Kahlo the "beguiling personality" she liked to think of herself as (according to Kahlo biographer Hayden Herrera) rather than Kahlo the artist.

The movie does stand out for including Leon Trotsky in the cast of the soap opera, again factually. I definitely prefer a movie that sentimentalizes Trotskyism to ones that sentimentalize Stalinism, but it's a little peculiar to see him frolicking in the sheets with Frida since the movie presents him not as a human but as an icon. He gives a speech that's meant to represent Trotskyism, but it's all generic movie-liberal ideals, no details, certainly no pesky details like "Kronstadt."

At the very least the movie has led to the sight of Hayek filling her red dress at the Golden Globes. Arguably the most beautiful actress in movies right now, Hayek that night was my image of a goddess--she looked as if she could bring a thousand years of fertility to a land just by setting her foot on the soil.
A reader sends in an article that reminds me of my crim law class two years ago. Prosecutors charged the sole survivor of an automobile accident with being an accomplice to drunken and reckless driving, but a judge dismissed the charges.
Quote of the Day:
"And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are Peace."
~ Cecil Spring Rice

Song of the Day:
Phil Collins, "Father To Son"

Happy Birthday:
Phil Collins
Norman Mailer
Thomas Merton
Jackie Robinson
Nolan Ryan
Franz Peter Schubert
Blogs as Appendices.

In the past week, both Professors Balkin and Volokh have used their blogs as a way to supplement published works. Eugene added a link to footnotes that he needed to take out of a forthcoming Harvard Law Review article and Professor Balkin posted an elaboration of his NY Times op-ed.

I wonder, as Eugene sort of did, whether this is becoming a trend. I certainly hope not. While word limits are often imposed for the sake of space, they are also frequently imposed for the sake of brevity and tightness in argument. Let's not create the incentive to circumvent worthy constraints (I, for one, think legal scholarship needs far fewer footnotes, especially in the age of digital information). I can see, of course, the argument that Balkin and Volokh are not circumventing their word limits. Indeed, there material is truly "supplementary," insofar as it is optional extra reading. But what happens when publications add explicit references to Internet "supplements"? NY Times op-eds become 700-word capsule arguments that trail off with "for the full piece, go to http://www.iamwordy.com"!

Please. Let's continue to force authors to be concise--it benefits both the reader and the author.
The Boston Globe remarks on how the weather brings to the fore people's bounded rationality and rational myopia. The fact that we tend to be short-sighted and limited in our thinking is an obvious point, but one we all need to be reminded of on occasion. Why? Because we are short-sighted and limited in our thinking.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Hotline reports that Feburary's Washingtonian contains a brutal assessment of Maureen Dowd by Catherine Seipp. The piece isn't online yet (and not up on Lexis -- not that I would ever put my school account to non-academic use), but here are some early excerpts:

Dowd is famously private for a journalist.... Esquire featured her as one of its "Women We Love" in the early 90s. But to many outside her coterie, Dowd has become the Woman You Love to Hate. Critics have called her style catty, or at least kittenish. But this doesn't really seem apt anymore. Cats scratch, and Dowd no longer draws blood.... Complaints about Dowd have moved beyond her flashy reporting style and water-beetle habit of skimming the surface. Her crimes against readers now fall into three main categories -- formulaic nuttiness, posturing, and condescension.

I don't know Dowd, and I live in Los Angeles, not Washington, so I only see her when the Times flies her out to the summer TV press tour every July. She cuts a memorable figure because she attends press conferences in a bizarrely casual getup: tank top over sports bra over sweat pants over running shoes, with hair up in a clip and -- this part never varies -- sunglasses worn indoors.... Dowd's goin'-to-California costume is, at first glance, merely a dated and preposterous notion of how the natives dress around here -- as if I assumed the thing to wear to any Washington event were a Reagan-red Adolfo suit. It's silly, cliched, and corny. But more than that, it's a patronizing display on Dowd's part. Just like her columns.
Ouch. Can't wait to read the whole piece.
I took advantage of my class-free Thursdays to visit the local outlet mall today. It was a very enjoyable afternoon -- near-deserted stores, fun friends to shop with, and lots of great deals. (As I often tell Kate, sometimes something is on sale for such a great price that you're practically making money by buying it. She's skeptical.)
Quote of the Day:
"People can have the Model T in any color -- as long as it's black."
~ Henry Ford

Song of the Day:
Ricky Martin, "Private Emotion"

Happy Birthday:
Dick Cheney
Gene Hackman
Vanessa Redgrave
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
It appears we here at Yale do not have a monopoly on one-sided politics. That is, there are other places where one assumes first and asks questions later (if at all).
For my debut, I hope to lower the tone around here by defending the Miller Lite "Catfight" ad shown during the NFL playoffs, the one featuring the busty female mud wrestlers. After one game, a Fox News commentator asked a competing ad exec if she found it offensive to women and a bad example for little girls; she did. He then grilled a Miller spokeswoman, asking if she thought children should view it, clearly implying they shouldn't. What is it that girls shouldn't see: buxom women in bathing suits? Parents who think that had better keep their kids away from public beaches and swimming pools. Or is it women who make a living as stunt performers? People say the ad is degrading to women as if these lady wrestlers were hookers. And why are girls assumed to be endangered if they watch the ad? Even if you subscribe to the puritan-hysteric's monkey-see-monkey-do theory of female personality development, what is there that would make a little girl single these images out from the avalanche of female characters on tv? It wouldn't be a very bright little girl who couldn't see that the point of the ad is to make fun of the guys imagining the commercial we see. Maybe people are bothered by the casualness of the comedy, which gets laughs entirely at the expense of the men without being harshly satirical. It accepts straight men for the idiots sex makes of them, and hands us all a laugh. The subtext is that there are some things you can't change, and this goes for both the men's taste and their dates' disbelief. It's all about knowingness, based in experience. Kids seem to get slapstick intuitively, to laugh at Homer Simpson without modeling themselves on him. Why should we take our cues from the Fox newsman who spoke with a literalmindedness and prissiness worthy of a Moliere character, or the women whose outrage at the commercial means they aren't just missing the joke, they've become the joke? Look at the funny 16 January comment from DslainteC for a take by someone who got the whole joke, including the reaction.
Telemarketers strike back.
Four telemarketing companies and a trade group filed suit in federal court in Oklahoma City to stop the Federal Trade Commission from setting up a program that would allow consumers to place their names on a list of households that do not want to receive such calls.

Telemarketers who ignored the FTC's list would face fines of up to $11,000. Callers for charities and political groups would be exempt.
Maybe they should set up a group to call consumers and lobby for support.
If Norweigian MPs can play games in Parliament, I don't see the harm in a few law students surfing the Net in class.
Quare points us to the Chinese bootleg DVDs of The Two Towers. The "Engrish" subtitles are hilarious (though you kind of have to have seen the movie for some of them to be funny).

Speaking of bootlegs, I once saw (by "saw," I mean watched five minutes and realized it was horrible) a bootleg Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when I was in China. The first thing I noticed was that the sound was terrible. The second? The shadow of the person walking across the front of the theater.
Names trigger hiring bias?

Sure they do. I know asian American med students who were encouraged by their deans to include their birthplace (yes, you read that correctly, birthplace) on their residency applications lest they be mistaken for foreign students.
Watched the Bachelorette last night. I'm rooting for Ryan, but here's my prediction: Ryan gets cut next week, then she picks Charlie. Let me just say there seems to be something not quite right about Charlie. Ever see Invasion of the Body Snatchers? He reminds me of that.

Another tidbit from last night's episode: Lily's reactions to the birthday gifts from the bachelors to the bachelorette. On Greg's songs: "Lame. Hello, computer printouts!" On Charlie's frog: "Hey! That's from Red Envelope!" Why, yes. Yes it is. I guess we know how much Charlie spent on his gift...

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Big happenings at the Kitchen Cabinet. We're expanding! We're pleased to announce that another Malcolm sister, Iris, has caught blog fever and will soon be chiming in.

In other news, our friend Alan Dale is signing on as a co-blogger and will provide occasional commentary on movies. Alan is the author of a book about physical comedy in American movies (buy it here) and will no doubt elevate the cultural commentary around here a notch or two.

We know our readers will enjoy hearing from Iris and Alan, and we look forward to their contributions.
No interesting commentary, but some good links.

Quare has added to the separated at birth files by finding Eve Tushnet's doppleganger.

Ampersand has some fascinating origami.
Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium will see its first sellout women's basketball game this Saturday, when #1 Duke hosts #2 Connecticut.
Digital paper shredding.

I engaged in a little harddrive smashing a few months ago when our family laid our old computer to rest. It was not difficult to convince my father this was necessary, since he is the kind of person who cuts addresses out of magazines before they are recycled.

UPDATE: John at Paladin's Pad wonders what happened to all those people who knew all about deleting data on DOS. (Remember DOS?)
The doctor who branded his alma mater's initials on a woman's uterus defended himself today on Good Morning America:

''The University of Kentucky gave me my training, my medical school training, my residency training, and I'm very proud of that and I certainly did not mean that to be demeaning in any way,'' Guiler said. ''I'm always respectful to my patients and respectful to all the tissues that we remove from a woman.''
I have to say, I think this woman has a right to complain. If someone branded "UNC" on my uterus, even before taking it out, I'd feel pretty violated.
Looks like InstaPundit had a good night last night.

I'm in the beginning stages of a very, very long day of classes. Look for heavy blogging from 2:00-4:00, during the Boring Class of Doom.
See where you fit into the geek hierarchy. Link via Good Oman.
Bashman (who has reorganized his Especially Appealing links--we've moved down, cursed by our alphabetically weak "K") says that there were three Supreme Court Justices at the State of the Union, but that he only saw Justice Breyer. I also only saw Breyer, though I thought at first that it was Justice Souter (they look the same from a distance, I swear!). Perhaps I shouldn't admit to that here on-line. Oh well, too late.
Alias.

Wow. After Lily's post about the changes to our favorite show, I got worried. Then I saw the ads during the Superbowl. Yikes. Lingerie, lingerie, lingerie. Were they planning to totally prostitute everyone's favorite secret agent for the sake of a few more viewers? Then I watched the show and I was so wrong to have worried. So wrong.

(1) Despite talk about the show changing to be more self-contained, we haven't lost the continuity that made the show so gripping and engaging. You had to really get invested in the show to follow what was going on. I was worried they would have lost that intelligent writing in the attempt to make the show easier to follow, but they didn't. What they did do was make this particular post-Superbowl show very easy to get into (to bring in new viewers on that particular day) and then completely tear the show apart so that it can be rebuilt. Hence, "a new beginning."
(2) The new beginning is great. Sidney is no longer a double agent and I think that's fantastic. The SD-6 as a branch of the US government thing was starting to become difficult to believe because they didn't write that point into the show enough. I'm a little worried that a purely CIA-based Sidney and Jack will take a bit of the oomph out of the show, but only a little worried. They kept the things I like about Alias--the things that make it so much better of a show than The Agency.
(3) Is Arvin Sloan the most evil genius and genius evil in the world or what? Did he plan the whole thing? I mean, did he not reveal that he knew Jack and Sidney were double agents because he wanted to use them later? Not as clear as it might seem to be. Perhaps Sloan was motivated by friendship to Jack? I don't think he's as cold-hearted as they make him out. Ever notice those creepy scenes when he tells Sidney that she can always rely on him? What's going on there?
(4) What's going on with Irina?
(5) Okay, I'm way overanalyzing this show.

It looks like Eric over at Antidotal has the same reaction.

UPDATE: A comment over at Antidotal reminded me to mention the ending with Francie and evil Francie. Yes. Totally blown away. Wow. I thought it was Will. It was quite a rollercoaster for ten seconds of show.
This Bellesiles thing just gets more and more twisted.
There seems to be some surprise (here and here) at Bush's hydrogen car proposal. Did I miss something? I thought that was old news... And as far as environmental proposals go, that's not all that radical.
Dean Jens had a bit to add about judicial nominations and affirmative action.
I don't think the President should take race into account in nominations, because any restriction on what can influence state action has to be a restriction on its constituent parts.
But, as an intellectual question (coming from the dork who just posted the State of the Union clause), is a Presidential nomination state action?
"He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." U.S. Const., art. III, section 2.

Am I a law student and a total nerd? Yes I am.
At Ipse Dixit, Carnival of the Vanities, take 19.
Ah, the Democratic response.

There was one very good thing about the Democratic response: Gary Locke, the first ever Chinese American governor, delivered the speech. Amazing. Truly mind-blowing. A very big step for asian Americans. Our friends at Charlie Chan, however, note a significant downside to Locke's speech. They have a good point.

As for the substance, I have two things to point out. Only two, because I kind of stopped listening after I heard these two. First, the Democrat's bashed Bush by noting that we had eight years of prosperity under Clinton and that the first two years under Bush were horrendous. What? Why is it that they always make the argument as if there is a clean break between presidencies? Were the first two years after Bush not affected by policies made during the Clinton Administration? Okay, maybe not. Maybe the Democrat's want to say there is a clean break. But wait, they then want to say that we should be worried about the long-lasting effects of Bush policies ("Now, this administration’s policies will produce massive deficits of over a trillion dollars over the next decade. These policies have powerful and painful consequences.") Oh... so there isn't a clean break between administrations... So, which is it?

Second, let's rehash the tax point. It's not enough to accuse tax cuts of being more beneficial to the "rich" than to the "poor" if you don't explain how you're making that comparison. Are we talking absolute numbers? If so, then an equal percentage cut for rich and poor will naturally result in greater savings for a richer taxpayer than a poorer taxpayer. This is simple mathematics. X percent of $300,000 is going to be absolutely greater than X percent of $25,000. If the Democrat's are talking about relative cuts--take the cut as a proportion of your income--then we might be making some sense.

Anyway, gotta hand it to those Bush speechwriters. They do write some mean speeches: "[F]ree people will set the course of history"; "[T]his call of history has come to the right country."
Was Shania Twain lip-synching at halftime? Slate explains. In related news, I cannot stop listening to Shania's "Up!" It's inane ("Even my skin is acting weird; I wish that I could grow a beard"), but utterly addictive.

More mp3 crack: Celine Dion's "When the Wrong One Loves You Right." So god-awful, you just have to sing along.
A piece on American Idol in the American Prospect written by a college friend. Worth a gander, if only because he tips his snooty ivy league hand with the following sentence:
In the end, voting schemes on programs like American Idol may best be understood as the sort of poll that predicts and influences elections rather than as a model of civic engagement.
I just think that it's funny that there are so many people who actually think they can sing when they very clearly cannot.
Jeff Cooper calls Professor Balkin, "a Yalie, with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies."

Ha! What strengths?

Cooper also calls our attention to the first blog devoted to statutory construction.
Jonathan V. Last of the Weekly Standard already has the Best and Worst of SOTU '03:

Worst luck in camera cutaways: Smash cut to--John Edwards! As President Bush mentions limiting frivolous malpractice lawsuits!
Suppopsedly there'll be more substantive analysis of the speech here.
Quote of the Day:
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
~ Edith Wharton

Song of the Day:
Paul Oakenfold, "Starry Eyed Surprise"

Happy Birthday:
Anton Chekhov
W.C. Fields
Clarke Holter
Greg Louganis
William McKinley
Thomas Paine
Tom Selleck
Oprah Winfrey

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Max Boot writes in the WSJ about how Tampa Bay routed the sports pundits:

The New York Times featured a headline in its Friday paper that deserves to be remembered with "Dewey Defeats Truman": "Why the Raiders Will Win." It even hazarded a score: Raiders 26, Buccaneers 20. This was not just the opinion of one writer. Six other Times sports writers were asked to predict the result. Four foresaw an Oakland triumph.
Kate and I had a great time watching the game with two die-hard Bucs fans who were overjoyed to see their team finally win it all. It reminded me of a certain night almost two years ago, after which I smiled for about a month. To paraphrase Joe Namath: when your team wins, nothing hurts.
I'll end this afternoon of posting frivolity with this week's NYT wedding, in which a former first-grade teacher marries a "four-plus-carat emerald-and-cut-diamond ring."
Research on Marshmallow Peeps has revealed, among other things, that putting them in vacuum chambers causes them to blow up, then shrink dramatically. Yet they remain "yummy."

Via Dave Barry, who has a new humor blog.
"I wear a tin foil skullcap when programming my TiVo." This Amazon.com reviewer is having a lot of fun.
George Will in Newsweek:

In his speech last week at a Roe v. Wade celebration—a pandering festival attended by all the aspirants—[Howard] Dean said he is running because "I don't like extremism." Then he said that unless Bush is defeated, "Next thing, girls won't be able to go to school in America. You watch."
Speaking of not going to school, here's Eve Tushnet on homeschooling and the isolation of teen culture.
French military victories? Hilarious stuff from The Corner.

A friend of mine took a seminar on national security policy when we were freshmen at Duke. Whenever France was mentioned, the professor would just sigh heavily, shake his head, and say "The French... God love 'em."
Fun from The Onion:

"We are talking about a man who is able to take a rainbow and cover it with dew," Bush told reporters during a press conference Monday. "Who knows what else he is capable of?"
Wow. My posting lately has been shockingly fluffy. Could it be that five semesters at Yale Law School have finally beaten the wonkiness out of me?

While I wait for my inner dweeb to re-emerge, here's John Rosenberg responding to Jack Balkin on affirmative action.
For tonight, here's the State of the Union drinking game.
It is cold in New Haven. Achingly, assaultingly cold. I am still not used to it.
There's a strikingly sympathetic write-up in this week's New Yorker of Martha Stewart's current woes.

The factoid that caught my eye is that Stewart's Connecticut farmhouse contains two dogs, seven cats, and thirty canaries. Doesn't sound like ideal homemaking to me.
Quote of the Day:
"The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it's so rare."
~ Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Song of the Day:
Shania Twain, "Up!"

Happy Birthday:
Alan Alda
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Jackson Pollock
Cell phones are being banned in gyms.

Because people are getting distracted on the elliptical? Nope. It's because cell phones are becoming digital cameras... Mini digital cameras and gyms (plus gym locker rooms) make for a yucky, perverted cocktail.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Noemi Emery of The Weekly Standard calls the Democrats' '04 contenders "small puppets, on feminist strings."

Sometime soon -- say, around Spring 2004, when George W. Bush begins spending his money -- whoever becomes the Democratic nominee may have second thoughts about his attendance at the NARAL dinner in Washington on January 21, 2003.... After the six had delivered their speeches, they sat while Kate Michelman, who had summoned them, gave them their orders: She expects from them no less than a full-throttle filibuster every time George W. Bush names to the federal bench a judge that does not meet her strict standards of purity. Did any of the senators sitting there wince when she said this? Did they think that they might today be in the minority because they had refused to vote on Bush judges? Did they consider what the country might think if they tied up the Senate, perhaps in wartime, to thwart abortion restrictions that most voters favor?
The New Republic also has a great piece on the NARAL dinner.

I can only pray that the '04 campaign is as much fun as it looks like it's going to be. It's such a joy to read the Hotline these days and watch the Democrats try to out-pander each other in front of the left-wing faithful in New Hampshire and Iowa.
The most expensive Ferrari ever, the Enzo, has begun rolling off the assembly line. Priced at $675,000, the Enzo has no carpet, no air conditioning, and is described by Car & Driver editor Brock Yates as "ugly, hideously ugly."

But then there's the 660-horsepower, V-12 engine, which helps make the Enzo the fastest car in current production. Only 90 will be shipped to the United States.
A cool article from TIME on "The CIA's Secret Army."
Today was the first day of the semester. Assuming I'm not wowed by the class I'm shopping tomorrow, it looks I will have all my classes on Mondays and Wednesday, with just one on Tuesday. The upside: weekends that start on Wednesday night. The downside: 6+ hours of class on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Fortunately there's yoga on Monday and Wednesday nights to ease some of the tension. Of course, tonight I spent the whole time fighting the urge to curl up in a ball on my mat and go to sleep.... Yaaaaawn.

While I'm in complain mode: Why, after a gazillion-dollar, seven-year renovation, does the Yale Law School feel like it's bursting at the seams? This school only has 600 students, but it feels like we spend all day getting tangled up in each other's computer cords. Maybe if the faculty could be prevailed upon to teach every once in a while, instead of constantly going on leave, we wouldn't all be crowded into the same classes. Grrr.

Or maybe I'm just depressed because this is my last semester in academia and it's dawning on me how much I'm going to miss it.
Quote of the Day:
"'Be yourself' is the worst advice you can give to some people."
~ Tom Masson

Song of the Day:
Alanis Morrisette, "You Learn"

Happy Birthday:
Lewis Carroll
Samuel Gompers
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Professor Balkin has responded to Lily's answer as to why judicial nominations are different from university admissions. In an extended post, he made a point that caught my eye because I had asked Lily the same thing after she posted. In Professor Balkin's words:
Is the difference between the President and the University of Michigan admissions committee that the members of the admissions committee are acting as agents of the state while the President of the United States is not? That is, is the problem a failure of state action?
Is it?

Is the nomination of a judge or justice by the President state action? The first question is whether any action by the President can be considered action not by the state. If not, then the discussion is over. It does seem, though, that there must be some Presidential action that is not state action. There must be some Presidential action that can be separated out--that is, action taken by the President, but not action taken, in turn, by the United States. Let's say there is. Even so, can a judicial nomination fit into that category of action? Perhaps. There does seem to be something personal about a nomination. After all, it isn't an appointment, right? A judicial nomination is not the actual selection a judge--the action of selecting a judge is not complete, so to speak, until the Senate has confirmed the President's nomination. On the other hand, just because a nomination is only part of the action does not necessarily excuse it from being state action does it? In fact, while the Presidential action is only part of the selection of a judge, it is a necessary part. It is, in fact, a part of the judicial selection process by which access to the Senate confirmation process is limited. Isn't that, then, an affirmative act by the state? The President has affirmatively narrowed the pool of possible judges upon which the Senate can complete the process of selection.

Add to this the fact that the Constitution makes judicial "appointment" an enumerated power of the President. Yet, is this an enumerated power of the President, to be performed on behalf of the United States? That is not a necessary conclusion.

Where does that leave us? I'm not sure...

Friday, January 24, 2003

The New Republic's Michelle Cottle is appalled by Joe Millionaire. She makes a good point that applies to all these shows:

Today's reality contestants may not technically be actors, but their top goal isn't to win a husband, find true love, or even land themselves $50 million. It's to be on television. That is what defines their value system. To draw any conclusions about what men or women are like from these programs is ridiculous--as is believing that contestants' anguished tears, shy smiles, or catty asides are anything other than part of a carefully contrived on-air persona.... But against all reason, there's something about the label "reality TV" that gives these freak shows resonance even with reasonably sane, intelligent people (not to mention most FOX devotees.) All of a sudden people begin to wonder if this really is what women crave deep down.
Good point, although I think most people are able to recognize these situations for the contrivances they are.
Andy Roddick had one heck of a run at the Aussie Open. I saw the ESPN re-run of his 21-19 fifth set victory in the Quarters. It's too bad he lost in the semis, but I can't imagine it would have been much of a final if he had made it through. His wrist looked so bad that he may have had to pull out of the finals had he made it, which would have been worse, I think, than losing in the semis.
Quote of the Day:
"Money can't buy friends, but it can get you a better class of enemy."
~ Spike Milligan

Song of the Day:
Britney Spears, "Stronger"

Happy Birthday:
Hadrian
Frederick the Great
Elliot Abrams
John Belushi
Mary Lou Retton
Edith Wharton

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Salon reports:

[A]s of Sunday, after the Super Bowl, a new, revamped "Alias" hits the airwaves. Weekly cliffhangers will disappear and new episodes will be more self-contained, requiring less knowledge of the previous week's episode.
I really hope this doesn't ruin the show.

Also, check out this fan site.
A New York Times article on circumcision says opponents of the practice are using lawsuits to further their cause:

Circumcision for other than religious reasons is a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States. It began in the late 19th century and peaked in the 1960's at 90 percent of newborns. Circumcision rates vary widely. They are highest in the Midwest, about 80 percent, and lowest in the West, under 40 percent.

The procedure is not common elsewhere. In Canada, the rate is 17 percent and in Britain 5 percent. Elsewhere in Europe, in South America and in non-Muslim Asia, the procedure is rare.
All news to me.
Joe Millionaire Evan Marriott has a suggestion for a possible gender-reversed sequel to the Fox show:

"They ought to call it Jane Big Boobs," he suggests with a grin. "They get a woman with big, fake boobs, have all these guys go after her, and then, in the end, she takes them off and goes, 'Ha! I'm as flat as a f---in' pancake!'"
Lovely.

In other reality-TV news, here's a little hint about how The Bachelorette will end.

Can you tell my exams are over?
British Judge George Bathurst-Norman says "prison obviously has to be an option" for a man convicted of beheading a marble statue of Margaret Thatcher. Hear, hear.
An MIT study asked Americans what invention they could not live without. The top vote-getter was the lowly toothbrush, followed by the car, the personal computer, the cell phone, and the microwave, in that order.
David Blankenhorn doesn't like personalized wedding vows. And if his argument doesn't convince you, maybe this advice column will.
The Weekly Standard has a piece on Eric Cantor, my Congressman. He's the only Jewish Republican in the House.
Movie Quote of the Day:
"You get what you settle for."
~ Thelma & Louise

Song of the Day:
Bette Midler, "Baby, It's Cold Outside"

Happy Birthday:
Humphrey Bogart
John Hancock
Rutger Hauer
Edouard Manet
Jeanne Moreau

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Professor Balkin, even after consulting the I Ching, has reservations about going to war with Iraq:
The major problem, as I see it, is that we really don't know how long the war will last, how many people will be killed and dislocated, how many refugees we will create, how many lives we will shorten through sickness and famine, whether we will destabilize other regimes in the Middle East, and whether America's enemies will use our preoccupation to gain advantages elsewhere in the world (think about North Korea, for example).
Kitchen Cabinet reader GH responds:

[W]hat war has America fought in the past 220 some-odd years where we did know how long it would last, how many would die or anything else? By the newly proposed "Balkin Doctrine," not only would we never fight another war under any circumstances, we wouldn't have fought any past wars either! There are good cases to be made against war with Iraq, but this is one of the worst attempts yet seen in blogland. Maybe the moral is that law professors should be careful about arguing military strategy?
Amidst the barrage of criticism tonight, the Kitchen Cabinet emphasizes that it has the utmost admiration for Professor Balkin, who is deservedly one of the most popular professors at YLS. It's just that none of our other professors are hip enough to have blogs... The day Bruce Ackerman starts blogging is the day we leave Jack Balkin alone!
Did your college have cheerleaders for the chess team? An article in the Christian Science Monitor bemoans anti-intellectualism on campus and shows how one school is trying to bring nerdiness into vogue.
Ampersand responds to the Kay S. Hymowitz article I posted about on Monday with some research showing that references to "Sharia," "Afghanistan," or "Islam" far outnumber references to "Augusta" or "lacrosse" on feminist websites.

That's interesting, but it's not exactly a refutation of Hymowitz's point. Leaving aside the valid question of whether all those mentions of "Afghanistan" are actually about the way women are treated under fundamentalist Islam (as opposed to "war-hurts-women" silliness), doesn't proportion matter? On one hand, we have women murdered for the crime of having been raped; on the other hand, we have good-old-boy discrimination at a Southern golf club. I'll submit that the outcry over the first should deafen the outcry over the second. And Google searches aside, I just don't hear that happening.

Ampersand does make an excellent point: "Is it ridiculous for American feminists to be concerned about American problems when women elsewhere have it worse?" No, not at all.
Professor Balkin asks:
[W]hat principle allows presidents to take race as one factor among many in nominating Supreme Court Justices but does not allow the University of Michigan to take race as one factor among many in selecting a student body?
In response, I'll make the obvious point that presidents are "allowed" to consider a whole host of things in making judicial nominations that we wouldn't consider relevant or appropriate in an undergraduate-admissions context -- whether the president trusts and respects the candidate, whether they have personal rapport, whether the candidate stands a decent chance of being confirmed or of serving for many years, etc.

I'd consider a different set of personal characteristics in drawing up a list of invitees to a dinner party than I would in deciding whom I'd let join my Richard Posner fan club. Do I need a "principle" to do that, other than "they're two different things?"

And what does the word "allowed" mean here, anyway? The president's nomination of Supreme Court Justices is, at bottom, his personal choice. Ideally, we'd like his choice to reflect some national or party consensus about the kind of person we want on the Court, but if the president wants to ignore what everyone else thinks and draw a name out of a hat, he can. He's under no obligation to explain how he chose. There's no question of what's "allowed" and what's not; that's just the way the process works. (Of course, the Senate confirmation process provides a check on presidential idiosyncrasy.)

But because the University of Michigan is a public school, its admissions officers are acting as agents of the citizens of Michigan to allocate the limited seats in the class. No one believes that the criteria for that allocation should be left up to the personal whims of individual admissions officers; therefore, it's appropriate to ask what they are "allowed" to consider. You can agree or disagree about whether race should be on that list. Either way, I don't think Balkin's analogy helps you much.
More Nixon stuff. James Warren has a piece in the Chicago Tribune (requires registration) about a recently released tape of a rambling 2-hour conversation between Nixon and H.R. Haldeman.

The topic as we begin is the opening of the Kennedy Center:

"Time has a lot of pictures. And, ah, nauseating. It shows. It has a whole strip of pictures of ... " Haldeman says before his boss interrupts to bring up something totally unrelated: praising the "modest dress" of the wives of his Cabinet members, all of whom had come to the White House earlier in the day.

Haldeman seems undeterred, citing the presence in one Time photo of Joan Kennedy, then the wife of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

"The magazine makes the point of showing Joan Kennedy with a slit up to the top of her thighs," Haldeman says. "But they also have a whole strip of pictures of Bernstein kissing everybody he could find and, ah, he's kissing a lot of men on the mouth, you know, including the big black guy. I think it's Alvin Ailey, the head of the dance troupe. And, you know, men kissing men is not... in that world but it is done."

"It is done," says Nixon. "You know the Jews do that."

"But not on the mouth!" shoots back Haldeman.

"He did?" asks Nixon.

"Cheek to cheek, yeah, both cheeks," informs Haldeman.

"Kissing on the mouth?!" asks Nixon.

"Yeah, right head on," says Haldeman.

"Ah, absolutely sickening," responds Nixon.

Haldeman agrees, "It's kind of revolting! Men kissing men on the cheek is a pretty accepted thing."

"Oh, sure," says Nixon.

"The Jews do it all the time. Jews," says Haldeman.
I swear, Saturday Night Live couldn't do it any better.
My favorite Hotline headline today: [Gary] HART: If You Ask Him, He's Underrated.

Also, good stuff from Craig Kilborn last night:

Today the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution denouncing a possible "Kangaroo Jack 2." Coalition forces are set for a Gulf war. The U.S. will provide 260,000 troops, Great Britain will provide 60,000 marines and France will provide four pastry chefs.... I plan on watching the Super Bowl the way I have the past 20 years, at a bar with the Philadelphia Eagles.... The U.S. has a powerful new weapon in the war on terror, a tank, driven by Diana Ross.
But back to Hart, who told the WP, "I have an odd appeal to young people.... I've always been underrated. And I live in hope."

Here's a recent Hart speech to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Finals end for me at 4:00 this afternoon! Then it's a relaxing few days of catching up with old friends, running errands I've been putting off, and (most importantly) keeping Kate company when she takes breaks from her paper-writing.

Tonight I'll celebrate my freedom with a yoga class, and then some guilty pleasures await... here's one... here's another.
Eugene Volokh is coming out with a book on law student writing. In it, he plans to have a section on "how to publish" (in law reviews). (He's also previously written directions as to how to write a law review article.) I'm not going to deny that I would have loved this sort of advice when I was in the midst of the process last spring. However, it's also not any real mystery to people who have been in the industry. So the one thing I would add to his list of things to do: Work for your law school's law review (preferably the main one, but others will provide a similar experience). Working on the law review not only demystifies the process, but it gives you a good look at the kind of stuff that comes in and the level of rigor involved in article review. This latter point is why I note the "main" law review--you'll get a better sense of the general quality of legal scholarship submissions if you work for the main review.

Eugene's best bit of advice?
Finally, a word about an inevitable part of this process -- rejection. Even experienced law professors at top schools generally get rejections (or silence) from over 90% of the journals to which they submit. I know; I've written over 30 law review articles, half of which were published in top 20 journals, but my submissions still get rejected by the great majority of the places to which I send them.

Rejection is part of the process, and the only way to deal with it is to try to ignore it. Remember that all you need is one acceptance. Remember also that rejections happen for many reasons, and might have nothing to do with the merit of your piece -- for instance, the articles editors might prefer other topics, or might be prejudiced against student-written work.

The worst thing you can do is let your fear of rejection keep you from circulating the article as widely as possible, or recirculating it if it wasn't picked up the first time around. Remember: It's not personal. It's not about you. It happens to your professors all the time. And no-one will know.
Indeed. No fear. No fear. It's not just a cliche for t-shirts. As my eigth grade math teacher once told me, if you want to run with the big dogs, you've got to jump in the tall weeds.
Quote of the Day:
"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
~ Albert Camus

Song of the Day:
Jessica Simpson, "I Wanna Love You Forever"

Happy Birthday:
George Balanchine
Francis Bacon
Lord Byron
Piper Laurie

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

What country are you most like? Take The Country Quiz and find out. Actually, take it several times, hit the back button and vary your responses, and waste lots of time!

It seems I'm either Brazil ("athletic, charming, and probably a good dancer.... you probably consider homeless people expendable in certain circumstances") or Singapore (small but well-built... people are a little afraid of you").
"Half a bag of Fritos every day for a year significantly decreases the risk of pregnancy." The Onion puts recent medical findings into perspective.
Speaking of Kitchen-y, Sua Sponte has taken a much needed break and has posted a recipe.
Internet service providers must help reverse track their suscribers in the name of copyright protection. Blech. I'm less concerned about the ramifications for music piracy and more concerned about the ramifications for internet privacy.
Speaking of the Volokhs, has anyone noticed the eerie resemblance between Sasha Volokh and Nick Horvath of the Duke Blue Devils? Ever wonder why "Sasha" goes through those long stretches when he doesn't post? Not convinced? Try comparing this picture of Sasha and this picture of Nick. I wonder if Quare has anything to add to this speculation...

While we're in the category of separated at birth, how about Rich Gannon and the guy (John Shea) who played Lex Luthor on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman?

As you can well see, finals are over for me. I'm writing a paper now, but I am clearly back on the blog wagon.
Even the Volokhs have gotten all kitchen-y. Here's a recipe from Eugene Volokh for Black Russian Cake. I've never seen a recipe call for both vodka and instant chocolate pudding, but okay.
Quote of the Day:
"I regret to say that we of the FBI are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless it has in some way obstructed interstate commerce."
~ J. Edgar Hoover

Song of the Day:
Robert Miles, "Children"

Happy Birthday:
Ethan Allen
Christian Dior
Placido Domingo
Stonewall Jackson
Jack Nicklaus

Monday, January 20, 2003

Why has feminism been silent about the horrors inflicted on women under fundamentalist Islamic regimes? Kay S. Hymowitz is tough on today's feminists:

They have averted their eyes from the harsh, blatant oppression of millions of women, even while they have continued to stare into the Western patriarchal abyss, indignant over female executives who cannot join an exclusive golf club and college women who do not have their own lacrosse teams.

But look more deeply into the matter, and you realize that the sound of feminist silence about the savage fundamentalist Muslim oppression of women has its own perverse logic. The silence is a direct outgrowth of the way feminist theory has developed in recent years. Now mired in self-righteous sentimentalism, multicultural nonjudgmentalism, and internationalist utopianism, feminism has lost the language to make the universalist moral claims of equal dignity and individual freedom that once rendered it so compelling. No wonder that most Americans, trying to deal with the realities of a post-9/11 world, are paying feminists no mind.
Hymowitz's piece offers an excellent summary of all the reasons so few women my age are willing to identify themselves as feminists. The word doesn't mean what it used to mean.
Salon's Allen Barra says NFL officiating is terrible, but he has some suggestions:

Of all the people at the football game, the referees are usually the ones in the worst possible position to see what happens.... Why not simply put a TV booth somewhere on the sidelines, and when there's a disputed call, just have the officials run over and see what we're seeing. Then, for the first time, pro football officials will be as knowledgeable as the fans who berate them.
And here's Barra in another column, on Terrell Owens:

I don't know if Terrell Owens is the biggest asshole in the history of sports. That's too bold a statement for a world that still contains Scottie Pippen, Bobby Knight and Albert Belle. But I do know that his actions toward the end of the 49ers-Giants game last Sunday were as appalling as anything I've ever seen from a professional athlete on a field of play.... Has anyone ever seen such reckless disregard for his team as Owens showed on that taunting call? The only person I think to have ever topped such behavior was Owens himself just seconds later.
Fortunately, thanks to the Bucs, Owens is sitting at home now.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an eerily appropos post about a plot to assassinate Washington state governor Gary Locke.
Flying the "friendly" skies. I have just one thing to say: Have you ever taken a close look at those airplane seats? I mean, I wouldn't plant my bare bottom on those seats.

In other odd news, here's a vocabulary alert: Who's ever heard of birds being "bamboozled"?

More substantive posts are no more than a week away, I promise. In the meantime, I imagine Lily will continue her excellent heavy lifting around here...
Micro and soft tentacles reach into deep into Russia.

If this doesn't sound creepy, I don't know what does:
Signing on to Microsoft's Government Security Program will allow Russia, and any other signatory, to weave its own technology into Microsoft's Windows platform and adapt Windows to its needs and test its ability to fend off hackers.
Russia, it appears, will get to see Microsoft's sourcecode in exchange for its technological soul.
The Weekly Standard's Andrew Ferguson spent Richard Nixon's 90th birthday at the Nixon archives. A curator told him to pluck a random tape from the collection, and the one Ferguson chose contains a few conversations in the Oval Office on April 9, 1971. It's such good stuff that I'm going to quote at length. The first exchange is between Nixon and his former Treasury secretary, David Kennedy, and Al Haig. The topic is the Agency for International Development, of which RN is not a fan:

"Goddammit, Al, I told them I wanted that AID budget cut! It's not the money, it's the personnel. Get those bastards out of there! You got all these young whippersnappers [actual word--Ed.] running around Asia knocking our policies. Get. Them. Out. Of. There."

"Yes, sir!" Haig says. "Should have been done already!"

"I'll tell you, we got to break some china around here. We need hard-headed, tough guys, not this usual State Department way of doing things. All these guys over there--they're weak. They go to these goddamn Eastern Ivy League schools and they're not pro-American."

Kennedy goes on to mention unflattering reports he'd heard about Peace Corps volunteers.

Nixon's feet hit the floor. "Goddamn them, Al! That's another thing I told those bastards to cut! I've never seen a place where the Peace Corps was worth a damn. Am I right? Oh sure, it's great for the kids. They're going to a nice Eastern college, they want a nice little vacation. Well, send them to the goddamn Congo then!"
The next conversation involves Len Garment and Nancy Hanks, a hapless member of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund who has come to talk to Nixon about the arts. RN starts in on movies:

"Now, Nancy, it turns out, 52 percent of the movies we see here in the United States were made abroad. What I want to do is find a way to keep these damn foreign movies out. Oh, I know they're supposed to be so damn great and so forth. To tell you the truth, I don't see many movies. Saw 'Love Story.' 'Patton.' But my point is, I will not have America slip to number two in the world when it comes to movies."

Mrs. Hanks protests that the popularity of foreign movies is owing to their superior quality.

"Well, then, here's what I want you to do. I want you to take it to the movie industry. You tell 'em, You've got to start producing good movies. Say: No more of this weird stuff! Shape up! The family movie is coming back, you know. People don't like arty. They don't like offbeat. But the film industry, they're trying to reflect the intelligentsia"--the word drips with venom--"and that is their big mistake. Following the intelligentsia is where they always go wrong. Look at these film schools today. All they do is the weird stuff. They produce weird movies. They produce weird people."

But Hanks and Garment have come to talk not about the movies but about the government's grandest current project for the arts, the construction of the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum on the National Mall.

"Is this going to be some of that--that modern art?" Nixon asks suspiciously.

"It is, Mr. President," Mrs. Hanks replies, in her Rockefeller voice. "It's one of the finest collections of modern sculpture in the world." In the wuld.

"Oh yeah?" Silence. Then: "Don't let it be one of those horrible modern buildings, all right? 'Cause if it is, we're not going to do it."

Garment and Hanks try to explain that the plans have already been approved. Nixon's voice deepens. "I will not have the Mall desecrated with one of those horrible goddamn modern atrocities like they have in New York with that, what is it, that Whitney thing. Jesus H. Christ. If it looks like that, it--will--not--happen." Silence.

"And I don't want 'controversial,' either. All right? Now this list for the board or whatever. Am I stuck with these names?" Garment assures him the list for the museum's board of directors can still be changed.

"Good. I'm taking all the Easterners off of here. Got that? Every single one. And this name--what's--some Harvard name. Know him. Part of the Eastern Establishment. Rich guy, but he'll never lift a finger to help us. Well, the hell with him. Am I right?"

Nixon mentions names of California donors he would like placed on the Hirshhorn board. "Just put 'em on the list," he says. "I mean, why not? Think they'll make the thing a disaster? They can't make it a disaster because it's a disaster already!"

"No, no, Mr. President," Mrs. Hanks scolds. "It will not be a disaster!"

"Oh, come on, Nancy," Nixon says quietly. "I've seen the plans."

Another silence. "Well," he says at last, "I wash my hands of the damn thing. Just make sure I don't have to see it when I look out this window."
"And there it is," writes Ferguson, "an entire administration in miniature." Nixon never stopped hating "the Eastern Establishment," and they hated him right back.
The Ninth Circuit has ruled that the Internal Revenue Service committed fraud and acted deceitfully in granting secret deals to two pilots in return for their testimony against 1,300 other pilots who were participating in the same tax shelters. (via InstaPundit.)
The NYT on the recent "election" in Cuba:

The father of Elián González, the Cuban boy at the heart of an international child custody battle in 2000, is on the ballot for Cuba's Parliament in elections on Sunday, along with Fidel Castro, an Olympic track medalist and a popular folk singer.

Candidates for the 609 seats run unopposed, leading critics to complain that elections on the Communist island are meaningless.
Um, yeah.

Link via Martin Kimel.
Quote of the Day:
"No Western nation has to build a wall round itself to keep its people in."
~ Margaret Thatcher

Song of the Day:
Collin Raye, "That Was a River"

Happy Birthday:
Buzz Aldrin
George Burns
Federico Fellini
David Lynch

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Feeling Super: Congrats to the Bucs on their very first NFC Championship. At least one friend of the Cabinet is celebrating right now.
First they tell us alcohol is good for us, and now nicotine?

While sucking on a cigarette definitely is bad for your health, numerous non-smokers may find themselves some day being prescribed nicotine patches to combat Alzheimer's disease.
But I find it suspicious that this research is being brought to us from "scientists in North Carolina."
George Will doesn't like George Ryan's decision to empty Death Row in Illinois. Ryan, he says, "will be remembered as one of Illinois' worst governors, which is saying something."
Sunday stops, with the Bucs-Eagles game on in the background: It look from Punditwatch like the Sunday shows were dominated by talk of the Michigan affirmative action case. But here's the Quip of the Week, from The News Hour:

Mark Shields: "Now with Gore out, it's pander bear city. The Democrats will be pandering to each constituency, all of them trying to get the McCain mantle and at the same time being the anti-McCain by just caressing all the erogenous zones for the body politic."

David Brooks: "Yeah, but the Republican Party, we actually don't have erogenous zones."
And the NYT wedding is quite cute today.
Should we go to war with Iraq? Jack Balkin asked the I Ching.

Apparently he also just published an annotated translation of the I Ching called The Laws of Change: I Ching and the Philosophy of Life
Movie Quote of the Day:
"Perhaps I shall send some Dom Perignon up to your room."
"I prefer to be alone tonight. Perhaps later I will meet your friend Dom."
~ Beverly Hills Ninja

Song of the Day:
Cathy Dennis, "Too Many Walls"

Happy Birthday:
Paul Cezanne
Janis Joplin
Robert E. Lee
Dolly Parton
Edgar Allen Poe

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Mickey Kaus finds four annoying things about this article in the NYT by "Justice Greenhouse."
Movie Quote of the Day:
"The Bat Signal is not a beeper!"
~ Batman

Song of the Day:
Oasis, "Don't Look Back in Anger"

Happy Birthday:
Kevin Costner
Cary Grant
A.A. Milne
Montesquieu
Daniel Webster

Friday, January 17, 2003

Following an early morning accident on I-95, the campus here is in mourning. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those involved in the accident.
"He's a bust! No, wait; he's the next Shaq!" Slate's Robert Weintraub is annoyed that Yao Ming's former critics have become his biggest fans.

ESPN.com hypes his meeting with Shaq here and here.
Cold nights, hot fruit: "Pears cooked in red wine, pineapple roasted with a sugar syrup or bananas broiled with a bubbling brown sugar sauce are all ways to enhance the fruit flavor." The WP has yummy recipes.
A million bucks to get your twin toddlers into the right nursery school? Sure, if you live on the Upper East Side:

Such is the Darwinian admissions derby for Manhattan's finest private nursery schools. The tykes face the fiercest odds — 15 applicants for every slot is about average. Their parents are people unaccustomed to losing anything, and the search for an edge is ceaseless.
Link via Martin Kimel, who has a promising new blog.
Did you know that Christopher Robin was a real person? Here's the Saga of Pooh. The bear is currently the subject of multi-billion dollar litigation involving Disney and the heirs to A.A. Milne's merchandising rights.
Just received my first duct tape handbag from Vanessa Jean, and I couldn't be more pleased.

Ladies, I highly recommend these. And guys, if you're looking for that perfect Valentine's Day gift — fun and unusual, but practical enough to use — look no further. I suggest the Hanna in pretty princess pink. She'll love wowing her friends with her beautiful handbag made of duct tape!
Josh Sargeant doesn't read blogs without the comments feature. Colby Cosh's response: "I trust that the people who feel this way have designated walls for visitor graffiti in their homes."

We've considered adding comments, but so far decided against it. Any thoughts from our readers?
Recent YLS grad Jedediah Purdy has an article in The Atlantic about trust:

Without trust, social life is all but impossible. We walk down the street unarmed, invest our money with strangers, and pay taxes—all because we trust that nobody will mug us, take the cash to Cancún, or use government revenue to enrich a family company.... Today, when your credit-card number makes regular trips to Bangalore and Ghana, start-ups get their money from millions of pensioners and private investors, and you put your life in the hands of several federal bureaucracies whenever you fly or take a train, trust is holding up the world. We had all better hope this Atlas does not shrug.
But, he reports, studies show that we trust our government (and each other) less and less all the time.
Steven Jens has some useful information: How to order Girl Scout cookies if you don't know any Girl Scouts.
each new morn,
New widows howl, new
orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven in the face.
An article about evil and human nature in Shakespeare's Macbeth.
John McWhorter explains in a Salon interview why he doesn't think Theo Huxtable needs affirmative action.
After meeting his future wife through his blog, Spoons is closing shop. I'd only recently discovered his site; sorry to see him go.

And for the few people who haven't seen it yet, here's the NYT piece that ran yesterday about InstaPundit.
So I was in the law library stacks the other day, taking a final, and in the carrel next to me someone was eating their lunch. Now, I have been known to smuggle the occasional Diet Dr. Pepper or granola bar into the food-free library environment myself. But this was lunch -- sandwich, soup, drink, the whole deal. Chomp, chomp. Slurp, slurp. Leaving aside the issue of how one smuggles soup into a library, it was just plain rude.

I'm taking another final tomorrow morning -- nice and early, so I'll be done in time for Duke vs. Maryland. Plus, I'll avoid the lunchtime crowd.
More on New York hamburgers from a reporter who ate one every day for two months. He calls that $41 burger "genuinely lousy, a mushy, gray thing of loose consistency and little flavor."
A friend points out this Andrew Sullivan take-down of Sheryl Crow:

Ms. Crow showed up at the latest public relations exercise for the music industry, the American Music Awards, dressed in a sequined t-shirt with the message "War Is Not The Answer" blazoned across it. One word: Sequins? Here is a fabulously wealthy, famously cute singer, telling the impoverished men, women and children tortured, gassed and abused by one of the most disgusting dictators of all time that any attempt to rescue or liberate them is "not the answer." And she expresses this message in sequins. She couldn't afford diamonds?
I'm off to take a walk while the weather is merely brisk and not positively arctic. I'll try to post more later today.
Quote of the Day:
"What do I know of man's destiny? I could tell you more about radishes."
~ Samuel Beckett

Song of the Day:
Live, "All Over You"

Happy Birthday:
Muhammad Ali
Al Capone
Benjamin Franklin
Joe Frazier
Vidal Sassoon

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

In a post about Roe v. Wade, Professor Balkin writes that in 1968, "mainstream Republicans routinely took positions that today seem quite moderate, if not outright liberal."

Does he mean to imply that, in contrast, these days it's not routine for mainstream Republicans to hold moderate positions? If so, I'd be interested to know exactly what "moderate" means to him.
The world's most expensive hamburger is at New York's Old Homestead restaurant, where you pay $41 for the "'hand-massaged, beer-fed' kobe beef, 'lobster mushrooms' and micro greens on a parmesan twist roll." (via Andrew Raff)

I'm in the midst of a final today... Yech.
Quote of the Day:
"In any contest between power and patience, bet on patience."
~ W.B. Prescott

Song of the Day:
Billy Joel, "All About Soul"

Happy Birthday:
Moliere
Joan of Arc
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gamal Abdul Nasser
Cardinal John O'Connor
Aristotle Onassis
Edward Teller
Lee Teng-Hui

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

The Weekly Standard has noticed that article about the religious-secular party divide that I keep forgetting to post about. The original piece, by Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio, found that the "religion gap" between the two major parties is far wider than the gender gap — even though the gender gap gets far more press coverage.

Another striking finding is the intensity of many secularists' dislike of conservative Christians—vastly greater than any dislike of Jews of Catholics discernible in the survey data from the University of Michigan that the authors analyze. "One has to reach back to pre-New Deal America," they write, "when political divisions between Catholics and Protestants encapsulated local ethno-cultural cleavages over prohibition, immigration, public education, and blue laws, to find a period when voting behavior was influenced by this degree of antipathy toward a religious group."

As for why the Democrats' secularist support goes unreported, Bolce and De Maio articulate well the obvious explanation. Mostly secularists and Democratic voters themselves, elite journalists tend to see the influence of conservative Christians as a danger and therefore a story. At the same time, they are all too aware that Americans at large remain a predominantly religious people; thus, journalists "implicitly understand the political ramifications of characterizing the Democrats" as the party of unbelievers—a group even more disliked than Conservative Christians.
Fascinating stuff, with implications that might well make both parties squirm. The original article is here — well worth a look (scroll down to "Fall 2002").
The New Criterion reviews The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat, by Roger Scruton:

It is often said, and rightly, that the West is the cradle of political freedom. When asked what we are fighting for in the war against terrorism, we say we are fighting to preserve freedom. This is true, but it is not wholly true, for, as Scruton points out, freedom unchecked is ultimately a self-consuming passion. Freedom animates civilization. But understood as the emancipation from restraint, freedom can also appear as the enemy of civilization, for civilization requires restraints. Hence the familiar paradox that freedom, if it is to flourish, requires definition, which means limitation and direction—unfreedom, if you will. This is not to deny the great, the inestimable value of freedom. It is simply to say that freedom cannot be rightly pursued in isolation from the ends that ennoble it.
And Salon reviews a new book on globalization by Yale Law professor Amy Chua. Her title certainly isn't one of those annoyingly vague ones. The book is called World On Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.
The Kitchen Cabinet welcomes Yale Law professor Jack Balkin to the blogosphere.
Quote of the Day:
"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
~ Albert Camus

Song of the Day:
Men At Work, "Land Down Under"

Happy Birthday:
Faye Dunaway
John Dos Passos
Andy Rooney
Albert Schweitzer

Monday, January 13, 2003

After a town gets sold on Ebay, this guy tries to sell his family. It's bad, but not as bad it first sounds.
Young said the auction winner would receive a lifetime of platonic companionship, including invitations to family outings and holiday gatherings as well as tips on writing, gardening and cooking. The minimum bid was $5 million.

The family was willing to relocate anywhere, and the elder Youngs would change their surname.

"You have patrons of the arts, museums and charities. I wanted a patron for my family," he said.
More holiday gatherings with family? As if people don't already have enough of those without buying themselves more.
Thanks to everyone for the birthday greetings. The birthday was dampened some by exams, but friends were over and a good time was had by all.
An article by a college friend of mine that anyone who cares about education should read. The title? "How I Joined Teach for America--and Got Sued for $20 Million."
A good Peggy Noonan column today on the Democratic '04 contenders:

You can't go for the presidency unless you have a solid, steely ego, but you wonder if President Lieberman's ego would spill over and create a private pool in which he swims laps in his own private world. Would the historical meaning of a Lieberman presidency be: Am I fabulous or what?
Lieberman just announced his candidacy this morning.
Two kids stressing you out? Have another one.
All the talk of North Korea in the news made me think of the memorable Earth at Night photo. Guess I wasn't the only one. Radley Balko reports that Donald Rumsfeld mentioned the map at a news conference recently:

Rumsfeld noted the stark contrast between North and South Korea on that map. The North, he noted, is almost completely indistinguishable, while the South is almost completely illuminated. A stark example of the wonders of free markets.

It really is a wonder to look over. Find Japan first (note how illuminated it is, too), then find the brightly-lit nub just to the west of Japan's southern tip. That's South Korea. The barren darkness just above it is North Korea. Note the similar contrast between Cuba and Florida. Between China and Japan.
A bigger version of the picture is here.
The Weekly Standard's Johnathan V. Last explains "why 'The Two Towers' won't win Best Picture, even though it should."
Movie Quote of the Day:
"Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple."
~ Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Song of the Day:
Mariah Carey, "When I Saw You"

Happy Birthday:
Horatio Alger
Robert Stack
Sophie Tucker

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Busy weekend. The Kitchen Cabinet celebrated Kate's birthday (and Dick Posner's!), watched much football, and even studied a little.

--Here's Punditwatch, with a review of Bill Frist's first Sunday appearance as Majority Leader. Quip of the Week is from Capital Gang's Margaret Carlson, commenting on New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's meetings with North Korean leaders: "I think we should all sleep better tonight knowing that peace is at hand between New Mexico and North Korea."

--Here's another obligatory Sunday stop, the NYT featured wedding.

--More SUV-bashing, this time from TNR.

--Do headache medications cause headaches?

--Finally, two wrenching articles: this one from the WP on one family's struggle with Alzheimer's, and one from the NYT on family life when Dad is in jail.
Quote of the Day:
"If someone loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows in all the millions and millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself: 'Somewhere, my flower is there...' But if the sheep eats the flower, in one moment all his stars will be darkened..."
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Song of the Day:
Nat King Cole, "L.O.V.E."

Happy Birthday:
Jon Barbour
Edmund Burke
Tom Dempsey
Jack London
John Singer Sargent
Howard Stern

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Big day at the Kitchen Cabinet. Not only is it Kate's birthday, it's Richard Posner's!
Movie Quote of the Day:
"I'm gonna rip the eyes out of your head and piss in your dead skull! You f***ed with the wrong Marine!"
~ A Few Good Men

Song of the Day:
The Tune Weavers, "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby"

Happy Birthday:
Mary J. Blige
Clarence Clemmons
Ben Crenshaw
Alexander Hamilton
Naomi Judd
Elbert Lin
Richard Posner

Friday, January 10, 2003

Okay, it was cool, but this is a bit much:

On Friday night we saw The Two Towers, and when Legolas swung himself backwards onto that moving horse, I think I got pregnant.
(Via InstaPundit.)
Oh, c'mon. There are people who don't understand sarcasm?
I was recently reminded of the grade inflation (I prefer "honors" inflation, and you'll see why in a minute) at the school up North. Apparently, 90% of the students at Harvard undergrad were graduating with honors of some stripe. Should that awful 1994 movie starring Joe Pesci and Brendan Fraser have actually been titled "Without Honors" and been a story about a Harvard undergrad desperately trying to avoid graduating with honors? Please, please, I don't want honors!

In my search for an article talking about the Harvard honors inflation, I found this NY Times article from May 2002. It seems they have changed their grading system--the accompanying explanations are completely outrageous:
Bowing to criticism that too many students were receiving A's, the Harvard University faculty voted yesterday to overturn at least a generation of tradition by adopting a marking system more like that of most American colleges.

...

At a closed meeting, the faculty voted in favor of two sweeping changes. First, Harvard will switch from an idiosyncratic 15-point grading scale to the more conventional scale in which a 4.0 is an A and a zero is an F. The change will narrow the difference between an A-minus and a B-plus, which the faculty hopes will make a B more palatable. Second, Harvard will limit the number of students allowed to graduate with honors to 60 percent of a class. Nearly 90 percent of the students in Harvard's class of 2001 graduated with some form of honors.

...

But in a 10-page report recommending the changes, Ms. Pedersen and two other deans openly agonized that the changes could backfire. In putting a cap on the number of students permitted to earn honors, they fretted, they might discourage students from taking intellectual risks like writing a senior thesis or taking a challenging course.

For at least a generation, the report said, students who decided to write a senior thesis entered into an implied contract with the faculty in their department that they would receive at least a cum laude degree.

Under the new system, writing a thesis will no longer hold out the promise of honors, and students may decide not to try an experience that has enriched senior year: staying up late researching and writing; developing an argument to defend in an oral examination by a faculty committee; and developing a deep relationship with a professor who has agreed to serve as a thesis adviser.
Make a B "more palatable"? Guaranteed honors just for undertaking and finishing a senior thesis? For crying out loud, what are they doing up there? Does the Harvard faculty rock and burp their students before they put the students to sleep every night?

This site from the Social Security Administration tracks the most popular baby names since 1900. Check out the staying power of "Michael" since the middle part of the century, and the overwhelming ascendency of "Jennifer" around 1975-85.

My own theory of baby names: try to pick something relatively fresh, but not outlandish. And above all, hope that every redneck in the country doesn't catch on to your name. (Think of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel on The Simpsons and his brood: Tiffany, Heather, Cody, Dylan, Dermott, Jordan, Taylor, Brittany, Wesley, Rumer, Scout, Cassidy, Zoe, Chloe, Max, Hunter, Kendal, Katlin, Noah, Sasha, Morgan, Kira, Ian, Lauren, Q-bert, Phil...)

Lily is 103rd in popularity for baby girls born in 2001. Katherine is 36th. Abigail is 8th. Our real names are somewhat less popular.