Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Friday, October 31, 2003

YOU KNOW CHARLES MURRAY'S NEW BOOK, Human Accomplishment, where he attempts to rank all the important humans from 800 BC to 1950? I was just dreaming that I was trying to write the sequel, ranking the important humans from 1950 to today. I was trying to figure out where to place the author of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in relation to the inventor of the Swiffer Wet Jet. Note to VH1: if you're ever doing "I Love the Nuclear Age", gimme a call.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

"A WONDERFUL, MAGICAL ANIMAL" Pigs give us so much: bacon, ham, pork chops, sausages, grease for our rifle cartridges. And now, apparently, they may help protect Israeli settlers from terrorist attacks. Is it time yet to admit that man may have a new best friend?

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

SCORE SETTLING: DUMBASS AT HFIENBERG.COM Two summers ago, when I was hard at work in the bowels of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (ok, I was just an intern at The American Enterprise) I wrote a piece for the website called "The Good News About Terror" (apparently no longer on the site). The basic gist was that America is actually much better equipped to fight and prevent terrorist attacks than a lot of people believe, with the fact that there hadn't been a successful terror attack in the US since 9/11 and the anthrax attacks as evidence. If I recall correctly, I mostly talked about how the since-forgotten hubbub about how the FBI had leads on some of the hijackers but that the information didn't get to the right people etc. etc. (remember Colleen Rowley?) was actually a good thing, because it meant that even in pre-9/11 America, when we weren't looking for terrorists all that hard, we nearly caught them, so logically in post-9/11 America, when we are looking, hard, we should stand a better chance of foiling their plans.

My article provoked exactly one response: some guy over at called me a dumbass. Basically his argument was that the shooting at the LAX El Al ticket counter was an act of terrorism, and it took place after 9/11, ergo my argument didn't hold water and, moreover, I was a dumbass. At the time, I declined to respond, because I figured I'd say something dumb and angry and embarrass my employer, AEI. But they don't employ me anymore. And now I have a blog of mine own.

Let me say basically that I agree with Fienberg that the LAX attack was terrorism, if not by Al Qaeda than at least by someone sympathetic to it. I actually think the same is probably true of the DC area snipers (though this may be disproved at trial). That having been said, I still think my basic point, that Al Qaeda's ability to hit the US isn't as great as we feared after 9/11, stands up. After 9/11, I at least was expecting all kinds of crazy shit - more plane hijackings, an outbreak of smallpox, bombings at major US landmarks. None of which happened. We can argue about why: was Al Qaeda less dangerous then we feared? were we better at fighting them? is there a host of archangels battling at our side? But the fact remains: there hasn't been a major terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. How is that made irrelevant by the fact that a disgruntled cabbie shot up a ticket counter at LAX?

I now consider my score with that dumbass at officially settled, a year and a half later. Best served cold, indeed.
IF THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE RESULT, WHY EVEN TRY? That, I have to admit, is what I'm thinking about the second season of Joe Millionaire. I firmly believe the first time around was an unqualified success. I think, in fact, that it was the highest achievement of the early-21st century "find-your-soulmate" genre of reality TV. "The Bachelor" may have done it first, and "Married By America" may have been the most outlandish, but Joe will always be the best. The first Joe had three big things going for it. It had a brilliant, original premise. It was perfectly cast. And it was brilliantly edited. (This third point was the real secret of the show's success. The producers led the audience around by the nose, but always barely perceptively. We were set up to root for the eventual winner, Zora, from the first episode, without knowing, until the very end, what was happening. We were made to subconsciously anticipate events, but nevertheless to be blown away consciously when they actually happened.)

In the second season, much of what initially worked in the original Joe is gone. The premise, still clever, obviously isn't original anymore. We know what happens when Joe reveals he doesn't actually have a fortune. We saw it last winter. Might the woman he chooses this time react differently? Sure. If we did the show 150 times, using control groups and statistical sampling to get the proper makeup of Joes and women, might we get useful statistical data as to how women in these situations react? I suppose. But who cares? This isn't science; it's TV. Show me something new or move along. (How's that for the jaded product of a media-saturated era.)

The editing's not great either, but that's not the real problem. The real problem is casting. Who are these European chicks. Allow me to describe who I remember from tonight's episode: the black woman from Berlin. the Italian woman with the faux-Hindu dot on her forehead. the really hot Czech. the kinda-horsey/kinda-hot German blonde. the Swedish "freelance fashion designer" (which I interpret as a euphemism for "unemployed"). Notice that I'm not using their names? That's because I don't know their names. I know them only by vague physical description.

Contrast that to the original Joe. After one episode, you could easily distinguish: Zora, MoJo, Heidi. By episode two, you knew Sarah, Melissa M., the incomparable Alison, plus a whole host of women who weren't even coming back. They were all individuals, weird characters, distinct and distinguishable. The Euros all seem alike to me; all equally over-tanned, ditzy, catty, overtly gold-digging in a way the Americans never allowed themselves to be. Which is to say: they're all Heidi, in different bodies. And Heidi was fun to watch, for a while. But I can't watch a show of 12 Heidis chasing after one Joe. (who is himself much less well cast than Evan, the original Joe. David's too aww-shucks dumb. Evan had a kind of down-to-earth-yet-arrogant dumbness that really worked with the premise)

Maybe I'll give it one more week. After all, he brought back the hot Czech. But if it doesn't improve, I'll leave it behind, and pretend it never happened. It's not like I don't have other things to be doing on a Monday night: I'm a law student, for Christ's sake. But I'll always have that magical moment when Evan and Sarah went off into the woods to (SLURP!)**(GULP!) No crappy sequel can EVER take that away from me. Ever.

Monday, October 27, 2003

BUT CAN HE DANCE? Japanese man steals 440 left shoes. Thanks to my boy Tripp, who like more Americans gets his news from ABC News than from any other source, for this odd news find.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

EDITING MISTAKES: NEVER FUN. The New Republic's virtual primary has amended one of its entries due to an "editing mistake" in the initial posting. The nature of that "editing mistake"? I can't remember the text verbatim, but I believe the entry began with the sentence: "John Kerry is a liar."

TNR's really swinging for the fences in terms of foot-in-mouthisms these days, ain't it? I guess this goes to show, though, that having an editor is not a foolproof prophylactic against posting dumb things on the internet. Which is, I suppose, a small comparative victory for bloggerdom.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

GONE TO GRYPHON'S to watch the game and, y'know, drink.
SO I ORDERED IN A PHILLY CHEESESTEAK. Except that it doesn't appear to have cheese in it. It's more like slightly old mayonaise. Damn New Haven.
I WAS ON THE CONDI-FOR-VEEP BANDWAGON BEFORE CONDI WAS COOL (which is to say, the summer of 2002). And I basically agree with this Greg Burch character as to why it would be a good idea. Except that I'm not sure a Bush-Rice ticket would do much better with African-American voters than the Bush-Cheney ticket did. I think the fracas over Judge Janice Rogers Brown's proposed appointment to the DC Circuit is a sign that African-Americans, or at least their political elite, don't see the race of an candidate as a trumps-all factor, at least not when it comes to African-American Republicans. And, though I can't remember any specific instances right now, I'm pretty confident that the same people tarring Judge Brown aren't exactly big fans of Condi, either.

I do think, however, that Condi's presence on the ticket would help the GOP, though mostly with moderate Whites rather than African-Americans. Having a black woman on the ticket makes the Republicans at least look more moderate, and - given where Rice apparently stands on many issues - may actually make them moderate. Basically, I think the prospect of putting the first woman and first African-American in the top two in one fell swoop will be enough to put at least some fence-sitting moderate voters into the GOP column.

Plus, she's kinda cute. Go Condi, ya....
I'D BEEN WONDERING WHAT ROSIE O'DONNELL WAS UP TO. Apparently she's working on missile defense.

OK, that's mean. I'm sorry.
BUT WHY WOULD A COUNTRY WITH SO MUCH OIL NEED NUCLEAR POWER? Surely they're just concerned about the link between fossil fuels and global warming....
AHH, THE JOYS OF HOME-RENTERSHIP... grumble, grumble, Jehovah's Witness... grumble, grumble, wake me up on my vacation... grumble, grumble, Watchtower...
BUT DID HE HIT THE TACO BELL SIGN? "power hitter" Aaron Boone knocks out another home run in the top of the ninth. Somebody's fishing for me to get rid of the scare quotes, isn't he?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

HIP... HIP...JOR-HAY! Posada draws a (albeit questionable) bases loaded walk. According to BaseballMusings, he did it five times during the regular season. What a peculiar speciality.

Tim McCarver just called it a "fiesty at-bat". Is that supposed to be some kind of reference to Posada's Latin heritage? Is there any way we can Easterbrookize Tim McCarver over this?
AND THEN THERE WAS BOONE. Our favorite "power hitter" was the one to make the first official error of the game. It turns out it was only his 5th of the postseason, so I suppose I was being unfair in my last post. Now field your damn position!
THE ANSWER: IT'S BERNIE! Before the game, my brother and I were wagering as to which Yankee would make the first critical defensive miscue. Would it be Jason Giambi, playing first base for the first time in a month? How about the always shaky Alfonso Soriano? Or the usually sharp "power hitter" Aaron Boone, who's somehow managed to make a half-dozen errors this postseason, including one Sunday night that cost "future 300-game winner" Andy Pettitte a complete game shut-out?

How about d) none of the above. Bernie Williams misplays a high fly ball to shallow center to allow Juan Pierre a leadoff double. And now he just scored on a Miguel Cabrera single. grrrrrrrrrr....
WEIRD WORLD SERIES FACT OF THE DAY: Both the Yankees' third baseman and the Marlins' third baseman are number 19. Also, both teams' first basemen are number 25.

Think about it.

Monday, October 20, 2003

AND THEN, THERE'S SKIN. Here's a trivia question: what do Ron Silver and Angus Dwyer have in common? Both have played the role of the father of Skin's Olivia Wilde. Well, that's not strictly true. Ron Silver does play her father. I played her father-figure, Sir Peter Teazle, and she Maria, my ward, in a production of Sheridan's The School for Scandal when we were both at Andover in the late 1990s. And she wasn't Olivia Wilde then, she was Olivia... well, she had a less Hollywood name, and one that would certainly elicit titters if I were to write it here. But I'm decorous, and a gentleman, so I won't.

But the point is: I knew her! and she's really hot! Does this count for nothing?!?
JOE MILLIONAIRE IS BACK! Our long national nightmare is over.
Amend the Constitution! Paul the butler for president!
GIVEN THAT THEY'RE ALLOWING HER TO STARVE TO DEATH, isn't there something perverse about the fact that Terry Schiavo's doctors forbad her priest to administer last rights, on the grounds that the Host, when placed in her mouth, might cause choking or aspiration? I mean, since we've already decided that her life isn't worth preserving, why such hang-ups over how she's extinguished? Is choking to death really that much worse than starving to death?
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF INCONSEQUENTIAL FACTS DEPARTMENT: due to an odd architectural quirk, my apartment has two entirely separate climatic zones. One, encompassing my bedroom, my roommate's bedroom, the kitchen and the living room, would be best described as "temperate". The other, consisting of the bathroom and the pantry, would fall somewhere on the "subtropical-to-tropical". Apparently, the heating vents in those rooms are on some kind of heating-duct steroids. This is insane. Last night I walked into the pantry and - God as my witness - there was a lemur trying to steal my Ritz crackers. A damn lemur.
ON THE OTHER HAND, THE SOLOMON AMENDMENT isn't exactly the Department of Defense's finest hour. The Amendment forces a difficult choice on law schools like Yale. They can swallow their principles with regard to non-discrimination in hiring, and let a group that discriminates against homosexuals recruit on campus. They can forgo federal funding, including significant amounts that go to areas in the university totally unrelated to the law school, like medical and scientific research. Or they can confront the government head-on. That isn't an enviable position to be in. Surely the government must have some very compelling reason to force this difficult choice upon the country's law schools.

Well, I'm not sure. The ostensible reason, I suppose, is that the government wants to recruit JAG officers from schools like Yale, but hasn't been able to. And it thinks the problem is structural: that there's a latent body of potential JAG officers there, who could be tapped if only the government could recruit on campus like any other firm. Which is a sensible rationale, except that it bears no discernible relationship to reality. Does anyone really think that Yale Law students aren't joining the JAG corps because they have to walk all of six blocks to get to the Orange St. recruiting station? Couldn't the fact that they can earn truckloads of money in the corporate world or with big firms have something to do with it? Or that those who can resist the draw of becoming a legal Croessus still have a wealth of prestigious non-JAG options: the legal academy, Capitol Hill, not-for-profit work for swanky causes like fighting the death penalty, etc.? Ultimately, even if the government wins, won't it just have won the right to waste its time trying to recruit people who have no interest in joining the Judge Advocate General corps?

But, of course, I think there's another reason the government's putting Yale and other like schools in such a bind over this issue: it's trying to show it's tougher. That Yale Law School can't push around the Department of Defense. Indeed, that the DoD can push around Yale Law School. Who cares that on-campus recruiting will almost certainly yield no fruit; who cares that the small number of students interested in the JAG as a potential career that actually exists (myself included) can easily explore that possibility through other means; who cares that by forcing itself on Yale Law the government has made life difficult for a lot of good people here, and turned a number of otherwise law-abiding students and professors into potential law breakers (albeit of a rather modest sort)? The DoD has the legal right to be there, and no frou-frou law school, apparently, is going to stand in its way.

Maybe there'll come a day when students at the country's top law schools consider working as a military lawyer to be as viable and fulfilling a career as any. Hell, I hope I live to see that day. But that day coming is going to require a real cultural shift in how America's educational elite relate to the military. And I can't fathom how having a couple of JAG recruiters force their way onto campus against the will of an overwhelming majority of students and faculty is going to bring that cultural shift any closer.
THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY has a nice summary of the sane argument against my own law school's current suit against the Department of Defense over the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I basically agree with Professor Volokh on this one. This issue came up once or twice last spring, when I was trying to enlist in the army (at which I failed, because - like my father before me - I was determined to be physically unfit for service). Yeah, the policy's both wrong and dumb. But it's not as if the army's primarily in the business of discriminating against gays; I seem to recall something about providing for the national defense in there.... These guys have a job that's both difficult and supremely important, and it seems to me we civilians ought to do what we can to help them, even if it sometimes means compromising our beliefs about what sort of hiring practices are or are not appropriate.
WORLD SERIES GAME 2, A FEW QUICK THOUGHTS: Early in the game, my brother asked - astutely, I thought - who Marlins fans would rather have on the mound: Mark Redman or the rapper Redman? Why is this guy still getting the ball to start postseason games?

Also, can we now officially declare the "strike 'em out, throw 'em out" double play" the OFFICIAL double play of the New York Yankees? I mean, we're talking about a team that has difficulty turning traditional 6-4-3 and 4-6-3 double plays, but has somehow managed to turn, four? five? "strike 'em out, throw 'em out" DPs in the past 9 games. I guess just so long as Soriano doesn't actually have to throw the ball...
THERE'S SOMETHING DEEPLY SURREAL about introducing myself to the blogosphere, given that a) no-one is actually reading this, and b) even if anyone were, I wouldn't know. What was it that Nietzsche said? When you blog persistently into the abyss, the abyss blogs back into you?

Anyway, hello. Me Angus Dwyer. I'm a first-year at Yale Law School, and a recent ('03) graduate of Amherst College in western Massachusetts. Why precisely I'm setting up a blog I'm not sure: I don't exactly have any specialized knowledge or skills to add; I'm not exactly witty or lyrical as a writer. But I suppose the democratic genius of the internet is that you don't need any skills or credentials to say your piece. All you need is a broadband connection and an index finger (preferably two).

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Not that there's anyone reading this, but: forgive the mess. I'm new to the blog biz, and I'm still working some of the kinks out. So: if formatting and whatnot keeps changing, apologies. Begging your forgiveness.
Testing... testing... one, two...