Mansfield Fox

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

What is it with Franken?

Again, with the shoving, this time at the RNC. Did he miss that lesson in kindergarten?

Another Proud Son of Eli

You know that guy who got arrested for breaking into Cheney's box at the convention last night, and elbowed a Secret Service agent who was trying to wrestle him to the ground? Yeah, he's a Yalie. Thomas Frampton was also a big wheel among the student organizers in the strike at Yale last fall. And now he's facing misdemeanor charges. And not from the creampuffs at the New Haven state's attorney's office. From the feds. Enjoy.


Worst Loss Ever....

22-0. The worst Yankees lost ever. And, of course, I was there. For the whole bleepin' game. It was an honor of sorts. ugh...

These Guys Would Protest Anything

Spoke too soon. While I was out, a decent sized protest emerged outside Sotheby's. Guess you're never too busy to chant slogans at Tennessee county officials as they get off their charter busses. Am I wrong in believing these protests are more about validating these folks' feeling that they're on the side of the angels and less about changing policy and influencing the election?

(Also, someone appears to have been injured or taken ill at the protest. As we were driving up, an ambulance sped by with a police escort. Will present further details in the unlikely event that they appear.)

Have the Protestors Lost Interest?

I'm at my folks' apartment in NYC right now (to see the Yanks-Indians game tonight, natch). From the living room window I can see the multi-bus caravan of the Tennessee GOP delegation, which has come to Sotheby's to see the Johnny Cash collection. I heard tell that there was going to be a protest - in their ambitious plan to disrupt the entire GOP convention, our good friends the dirty hippies apparently planned to protest every scheduled convention event, no matter how mundane - and yet I've seen nary a Birkenstock, nor a single giant marionette. Indeed, no protest at all. Have the protestors lost interest in being world-class assholes? Could it be that they set the bar too high? (I mean, seriously: who in the world is so politically committed that they want to disrupt brunch?)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Isn't Denunciation Coordination?

Kausfiles has a point about the SwiftVets ads and BCRA, which since his permalinks are questionable I'll quote in full:
If President Bush were to tell the Swift Boat Veterans, "Those are great ads. Please run more of them," he'd immediately be accused by the Kerry campaign (and maybe the Federal Elections Commission) of illegal "coordination" with an allegedly independent political group. ... Now suppose Bush did what Kerry and David Broder want him to do and told the Swifties "Those are terrible ads. I call on you to stop running them." Why isn't that also illegal coordination? Coordination involves telling someone when to start and also when to stop, no? [I'm indebted to alert kf reader S.K. for this point.] ...

Does this mean Broder's idea that
candidates ought to be judged by their willingness to tell their supporters when they have crossed the line
is untenable, because it in effects asks the candidates to start coordinating illegally? I'd like to think not--the only way to allow free speech by independent citizens while limiting the role of big money in politics seems to be to preserve some rule against "coordination" of the independent citizens by the official, regulated campaigns. But it will probably have to be a rule loose enough to allow candidates to publicly approve or condemn particular independent ads--in other words, loose enough to allow some de facto, long distance coordination. The hope, I suppose, is that it will always be clumsy, imprecise coordination, because the candidates still wouldn't control who shows what ads initially--and even in public the candidates couldn't get too specific (e.g., "I like that ad but I'd pull it from the Denver market and run it in Orlando instead"). ... 12:06 A.M.
Seems reasonable to me. At least the first part. I rather like having uncoordinated, uncoordinatible groups running around. It feels like...freedom. How stultifying would the campaign be right now if everything were left to the national parties?

By the way, given Swiftee-in-Chief John O'Neill's not-so-kind words for President Bush (he describes him as "an empty suit") it seems increasingly clear to me that the SwiftVets, despite the support of many individual Republicans for the organization, are not, in fact, a Bush campaign front.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Surely "Communists for Kerry" is a Fake

I wasn't sure at first (mostly because I didn't peruse the website carefully), but in retrospect it seems clear that Communists for Kerry is a fake. Not that I don't know Communists who are for Kerry. One picks up a few on the Rte 91 corridor between Amherst and New Haven. But while Marxies in my experience typically have a remarkable capacity for unintentional self-parody, this one is a little too parodic.

So, for those keeping score. Communists for Kerry is a fake group, like Billionaires for Bush. Still, maybe you should buy their t-shirts, eh?

I'm Losing My Mind

This Corner post, to which I just linked, is now attributed to Rick Brookhiser. I swear it used to say Santorum. Or at least I think so. Maybe I'm just losing it. Perhaps its the heat.

Wait a Minute, What?

Is Sen. Rick Santorum convention-blogging in the Corner?
And is it common for Senators to refer to Muqtada al-Sadr as "Mookie"?

"He's Armed ... But She's Dangerous"

Is it just me, or is this the dumbest idea for a movie in the last five years?

Liberal Media? What Liberal Media?

On MSNBC just now, they were reporting on the recent Time magazine poll. The reporter described the results for the overall "who would you vote for" question as "a statistical dead head," since Bush's two-point lead was within the poll's four-point margin of error. But when she later discussed the "who would handle the economy better" question, she described Kerry's three-point advantage - also, mind you, within the MoE - as "a slight lead".

At MSNBC, apparently, 3 > 4. It's the new math!

Friday, August 27, 2004

In Which He Gives a Glimpse of His Dorkiness

I thought you might be amused: in my Internet Explorer "favorites" area, I have a sub-sub-folder for priest-blogs, where I keep my links to Dappled Things, Catholic Ragemonkey, Thrown Back, A Saintly Salmagundi, and now the Diary of a Suburban Priest. The name of that folder is "Blog Comes to the Archbishop".

Yes, I do have too much time on my hands. Why do you ask?

The IQ Gap

Everyone's favorite newspaper-ruiner, Howell Raines, in the Manchester Guardian:
Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure their SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead.
Well, James Dwight, over at SoxBlog, has come pretty close. And I hear through the grapevine, though I can't say from where, that Kerry's tenure at Yale, like Bush's, was littered with Gentleman's C's. (Peddling unfounded accusations - that's a Mansfield Fox specialty.) To quote Big Poppa Glenn: release the transcripts!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Kerry & the SwiftVets: the Polling

The dog that didn't bark from the recent CNN/USA-Today poll:
At the same time, the poll found that most people, 63%, think Kerry is definitely or probably telling the truth about his military service.
"definitely or probably"? Isn't it a problem for the Kerry campaign that 30% of people polled think he's probably or definitely lying about his Viet Nam experience? (Seven percent had no opinion. Click here for the complete set of polling data. Scroll down to question 32.) Also, his poll numbers are pretty soft on this issue: only 17% "definitely" think he's telling the truth. There's a lot of room to move on this issue. I wonder if NZBear wasn't right: SwiftVets may turn out to be the beginning of the end for Kerry. Remember: even Dukakis was polling better than Kerry at this point.

Also, you may want to scroll up to question 30, in which respondents were asked whether Kerry's Viet Nam service made them more or less likely to vote for the Democratic nominee this fall. What's so interesting? Check out the registered voters: as many (21%) are less likely to vote for Kerry because of his military service as are more likely. Makes one wonder if putting Viet Nam at the center of his campaign was that good of an idea.

This is Why I'm a Monarchist

From the New Yorker:
Seventy per cent of Americans cannot name their senators or their congressman. Forty-nine per cent believe that the President has the power to suspend the Constitution. Only about thirty per cent name an issue when they explain why they voted the way they did, and only a fifth hold consistent opinions on issues over time. Rephrasing poll questions reveals that many people don’t understand the issues that they have just offered an opinion on. According to polls conducted in 1987 and 1989, for example, between twenty and twenty-five per cent of the public thinks that too little is being spent on welfare, and between sixty-three and sixty-five per cent feels that too little is being spent on assistance to the poor. And voters apparently do punish politicians for acts of God. In a paper written in 2004, the Princeton political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels estimate that “2.8 million people voted against Al Gore in 2000 because their states were too dry or too wet” as a consequence of that year’s weather patterns. Achen and Bartels think that these voters cost Gore seven states, any one of which would have given him the election.
Tip o' the cap to Southern Appeal.

Unusual Baseball Stat of the Day

Did you know that Ruben Sierra is the active MLB leader in career sac flies? How's that for trivia!

El Guerrouj! El Guerrouj!

Belated congratulations to Hicham El Guerrouj, on his 1500M gold on Tuesday. And belated condolences to two-time gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie, who took fourth in the 10000M, and who'll probably now retire. See, folks: there's a lot of interesting stuff in Athens that doesn't involve American athletes. You'll just never see it on TV. (OK, that's a little unfair. Both El Guerrouj and Gebrselassie were on TV. But they're celebrities. Of a sort.)

In American track and field news, the guy who got beat by the zebra on Fox's Man vs. Beast, Shawn Crawford, took the men's 200M gold, part of a US sweep of the event. Talk about your upwards career trajectory. Still, his crushing defeat of the giraffe will always have the premiere place in my heart.

The Assassin of Rastenburg was a Papist, Natch

Did you know Claus, Count von Stauffenberg was a devout Catholic? Or that he sought permission from the Archbishop of Berlin before finalizing his plan?
Von Stauffenberg reportedly met with Cardinal Count Preysing of Berlin to discuss this matter, and his eminence honored the motives and offered no theological objection to restrain him. In so doing, Cardinal Preysing placed his own life in jeopardy with the Gestapo, but was never implicated in the plot.
(As an aside, isn't the internet wonderful? You can literally find anything if you're willing to look.) This isn't the point at which I break into a screed against "Hitler's Pope", or other books of its kind, though they're certainly screed-worthy. Just a cool piece of trivia, and I'm passin' it on.

Inside the Mind of an Anti-RNC Protester

The most recent issue of the New Haven Advocate (unfortunately not online yet) features an article containing advice for those planning to protest the Republican National Convention. I won't be among them, but it's still a good piece. The advice is pretty good, ranging from the mundane ("Be respectful to the police officer who's observing you" and "Show up in court if you're arraigned") to the obscure ("It's illegal to put signs on sticks in NYC; use cardboard tubes instead"). Hopefully this'll help those cute hippies out of the poke. Probably not, but I can dream.

The article has a very measured tone. It's a practical guide for staying out of jail, not a polemic. But every once in a while, the veneer breaks and we get a glimpse into the authors' minds. For instance, here's one of the reasons to protest Bush:
He defied the United Nations, the governing body of the world, and staged an unprovoked attack on another country.
"The governing body of the world." Obviously I didn't get the memo.

And here's a piece of advice given to would-be protesters, "How to not sound like a leftist radical, a Republican-hating bandwagon-jumper, or a stereotypical mindless hippie":
Don't compare Bush to Hitler. Yes, of course parallels can be made but when you do this all you're really doing is preaching to the choir or alienating potential converts with your extremism.
"Of course parallels can be made." Not "don't compare Bush to Hitler because it's a ridiculous slander" or even "doesn't Bush=Hitler blow things just a bit out of proportion?". The big problem with comparing the president to the Fuehrer is that it freaks out the normals.

Shut Up, He Explained

I always figured that when Bush signed BCRA, it was just a cynical political move. But now I'm starting to think he really believed in it. 'Cause he's going to sue to shut the 527s up. Astonishing. At least when we deep-sixed the Eighteenth Amendment, we had the decency to do it through another amendment. Who'd've thought the First Amendment would get a less dignified burial.


The sound of the Cassini probe passing through Saturn's rings. This link brought to you by the number 12, the letter H, and the National Review's the Corner.

"Destroying the Evidence." Riiiiiiiiiight

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"Shaun of the Dead"

In the Year 2000... in the Year 2000...

Time-travelin' Lewis Lapham reviews the speeches at the GOP convention, which won't take place until next week.

Hat tip to Instapundit, Virginia Postrel, and the Volokh Conspiracy.

Steroids in MLB

An interesting point from Baseball Musings.

When I Was in College...

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Should Johan Santana Win the AL Cy Young?

As of today, Santana, who won last night against Texas, is 4th in wins, 2nd in ERA, and 1st in strikeouts. The other serious candidates, as I see it, are Pedro Martinez, who's second in Ks, fifth in wins and ninth in ERA; Curt Schilling, who's tied for second in wins, and is fifth in ERA and fourth in strikeouts; and maybe Mark Mulder, who's first in wins, eighth in ERA, and twelfth in strikeouts. Obviously, what these guys do down the stretch is going to determine who wins the award, and somebody (Jake Westbrook? El Duque?) may make a late charge to steal the award. But is it fair to say that, as of right now, Santana has the inside track?

Vote Tailgate in '04

Where Can You See Lions?

Monday, August 23, 2004

"Going Maine" Won't Fix the Electoral College

Slate's "Swingers" piece on Maine heavily features Maine's unusual electoral quirk: its apportionment of its electoral votes. Maine awards two of its four electoral votes to the statewide popular vote winner, and each of the other two to the winner of each of the two congressional districts.

At the end of the piece, the author discusses proposals to reform the Electoral College by nationalizing the Maine system, and expresses his surprise that such reform would actually push the EC further from the popular vote results:
In any event, some political reformers think we should be taking more of our cues from Maine. Proponents of revamping the Electoral College have suggested that every state adopt Maine's peculiar electoral vote-splitting scheme. At first, I thought this was a brilliant idea. Although vote-splitting sounds bizarre, it actually makes a lot of sense—it's a thoughtful way to ensure that the electoral votes Maine casts more closely reflect the wishes of its people. But then I found this Web site, on which sports statistics guru Jeff Sagarin figured out how the 2000 presidential election would have been decided if all states used the Maine method. Turns out Gore would have been whupped. Ah well. Perhaps there's a better way.
But is this all that surprising? A nationalized Maine system would combine the faults of the Electoral College with the faults of a massively gerrymandered House of Representatives. Perhaps in a country with a not-non-democratic lower house, such a reform would be a positive one, retaining the order-imposing structure of the College while increasing the democratic responsiveness of the system. But as long as the House remains thoroughly gerrymandered, such a reform can only make things worse.


Having apparently fallen through a wormhole, Professor Reynolds emerges with a news account from an alternate universe, one in which John Kerry has run a sober, substantive campaign for the presidency. Spooky.

"Silver City"

Gee, I wonder who this movie is about? Surely it's a coincidence that all these Bush-as-a-villain movies are coming out just before the election.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Dangers of Having an "Eyebrow Waxer"

This is why I pluck my eyebrow myself. (Yes, eyebrow, singular.)

At the End of the Day, It's a Game of Chance

I won $150 playing Texas hold 'em last night. Not a bad night's work. A weird quirk from the game: two times one of the players drew pocket aces; both times that player lost. Simply astonishing. Just goes to show that, though skill is important, poker is, at the end of the day, a game of chance. It helps to be lucky.

I was the beneficiary of one of those losing pocket aces hands. Four players left; I was short-stacked, but not dangerously so. I drew king-queen of clubs, and tried to buy the blinds, which at this point in the night were fairly sizeable, by putting in $50, most of my chips. I got called, which put me pretty seriously up the creek; I had most of my money in the pot with pocket-nothing and, though I didn't know it, I was facing down the aforementioned pocket aces. The flop was ace, ten, and a garbage club (maybe a seven). The other player, now holding trips aces, tries to push me all-in, hoping to force a fold. Considering only the cards, that would have been the right move. But I had the totality of the circumstances to consider. At that point, I had a straight draw and a flush draw. The bulk of my chips were already in the pot. If I folded, I'd have cut myself off at the knees; I'd be massively short-stacked with only four players at the table. I couldn't realistically come back from that, so all I'd be doing if I folded was hanging around, frittering away my chips on blinds. Plus it was 3:00 am, and I was exhausted and still a little sick. So I figured I'd make my stand there. I went all-in.

The other player throws down her pocket aces, in shock that I've called. She figures she's won, and starts criticizing my play. Wait a minute, I says I says, the game ain't over. If I draw a jack or running clubs, I win. Yeah, right, she says, noting that the odds overwhelmingly favor her.

So naturally I pull a jack on the turn, and win the hand. I pull way into the chip lead, and ride that advantage to the win (many, many hours later).

As I said, at its heart it's a game of chance. That's why the amateurs in the World Series of Poker have such an advantage over the pros: they've got strength-in-numbers. Any individual pro is far, far better than any individual amateur. But when there are 100 pros and 2400 amateurs, the amateurs are going to get so many more hands than the pros, and in turn get many more good hands. That, combined with the pros' dismissive attitude toward the amateurs, gives them a decided edge. It's going to be many a year before one of the pros wins the World Series main event again.

Umm, Can That Possibly Be Right?

Daniel Drezner posts on an Australian study touting the benefits of moderate pornography viewing. From the report:
Dr McKee said porn users reported it had taught them "to be more relaxed about their sexuality" and marriages were healthier, while porn made people think about another person's pleasure and made them less judgmental about body shapes.
Emphasis added. Now, this strikes me as entirely ass-backward. Watching a bunch of nubile, peroxide-blonde, surgically-enhanced nymphs reenact the Kama Sutra is supposed to make men less judgmental regarding the bodies of ordinary women? Sure, porn has its Ron Jeremys, but they're vastly outnumbered by a sea of interchangeable orgasming fillies, any one of whom could have her picture lodged in the dictionary next to the definition of "unrealistic body image".

And what exactly about face shots and golden showers supposed to make people "think about another person's pleasure"?

Animals, So Like Us

Bear passes out after drinking 36 beers. The bear, having some taste, passed on the Busch for a local microbrew.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I'm Torn

On the one hand, I ♥ Huckabees looks cool. On the other hand, it's directed by David O. Russell, who as I learned at Amherst a few years back is a world-class a-hole.


My former boss, Deal Hudson, in NRO. Deal's a good guy. This too shall pass.

Conservatives for Reparations, ribbit-ribbit

Michelle Malkin reports that Alan Keyes has come out in favor of reparations for slavery. My first reaction is that this is fantastic news. I was getting mighty tired of being the only conservative in America in favor of slavery reparations; to have my favorite politician/muppet be the one to join me at the ramparts is a nice bonus.

I'm not entirely sure about the details of Keyes' plan, which would exempt African-Americans from federal taxes for one or two generations. On the one hand, this seems to be just an extension of his always-there/always-unachievable plan to abolish the federal income tax entirely; I'm not sure how much this has to do with reparations per se, and how much this is just Keyes trying to get part of his program through in a Trojan Horse. It would be like Hillary Clinton coming out for reparations while announcing as her reparations plan nationalized free health care for African-Americans, or Dick Gephardt insisting that there be protective tariffs for African-American-owned heavy industry. Assuming this isn't just a shameless piece of political pandering, perhaps Keyes' secret plan here is to partially abolish the federal income tax, for African-Americans only, and then when Latinos complain that they deserve reparations too to abolish it for them, and for Native Americans and Asian-Americans when they complain, until the federal tax burden falls entirely on whites, at which point the whole thing will be so ridiculous that Congress will throw up its hands, abolish the federal tax system, and repeal the 16th Amendment for good measure. HaHa, brilliant!

OK, maybe not.

Another problem I have with the Keyes plan (Editor's Note: You should be aware right now that this post will be long, nit-picky and self-important. If you don't like those traits of mine, you may want to scroll down to the previous posts, where I've got delightful bon mots about how F-ing sick I am right now. Otherwise continue.) is that it's completely ass-backward if the goal is to actually help poor African-Americans. Especially if they're only going to be exempt from the federal income tax. Between exemptions, deductions and the Earned Income Tax Credit, poor people - and, according to the last Census, a quarter of African-Americans live in poverty - tend to pay little to nothing in federal income tax. Their tax burden mostly takes the form of the payroll tax, so unless Keyes' plan would exempt African-Americans from that too it would do virtually nothing to help those African-Americans reparations are ostensibly designed to help, the poor. The plan would, however, be an enormous boon to African-Americans like Keyes, Barak Obama, and their fellow Illinoisian Oprah Winfrey.

My third objection to the Keyes reparations plan is that, more than any other specific reparations proposal I've seen, it runs head-on into the "who's Black?/who isn't?" problem. It's one thing to propose a butt-load of new social and infrastructure spending, to be focused in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Once you convinced people to support the basic idea, the hard part would be over. It would be relatively easy to come to a consensus as to which neighborhoods were and were not African-American neighborhoods, and even those that just missed the cut could still get a place at the government trough through ordinary pork-barrel politics. Keyes plan is more complicated, to say the least. African-Americans will be exempt from federal taxes. But who's an African-American? Is Tiger Woods? How about Barak Obama? If the Keyes plan is ever enacted (not that there's a serious threat of that) this won't be an academic question. Being "African-American" will mean the difference between a lifetime exemption from federal taxes and a lifetime of workin' for the man in Washington. That's thousands of dollars, at the bare minimum, over the course of a lifetime. Everyone and their sister is going to be claiming to be an African-American. They can't all get the tax exemption; someone's going to have to decide who is and who isn't African-American, probably someone at the IRS. They're going to use what, a color wheel? a genealogy chart? perhaps a pair of foreceps and a copy of "The Rise of the Colored Empires"?

Which brings me to my final two objections to the Keyes plan: it's a non-starter constitutionally, and it's socialist. It's unconstitutional: This is a country where it's unconstitutional for the government to require construction companies it employs to give preference in hiring to minority-owned subcontractors, where it's unconstitional for a public university to assign "points" to race in a mathematical calculation to determine undergraduate admissions, where it was almost unconstitutional for a public law school to consider race at all as part of holistic approach to admissions. We're expected to believe that a tax system where whether you paid taxes or not at all depends entirely on your race wouldn't be struck down by the Supreme Court? Not on your life. They'd invalidate it so fast your head would spin. It's socialist: the gist of Keyes' argument seems to be that African-Americans have had a shitty lot throughout American history, and have one still today, (no argument on either of those fronts from here) and that we therefore ought to do what's within our power to help them improve their situation. Again, no argument here, at least on the level of generalities. I'm a Christian; I believe there's an affirmative duty of those of means to help the poor and the downtrodden. But when you use this kind of argument to justify a massive, government-mandated wealth-transfer, well, that's called socialism, Ambassador Keyes. I'm of the belief that there's a free-market, natural-rights-based argument for reparations, but this ain't it.

I've tried several times now to blog here my proposed reparations scheme, but each one has been a failure. Perhaps sometime later I'll succeed and blog it in-depth. The basic scheme is to create accounts for each person held in slavery during the Civil War (we can use the Freedmen's Bureau registers to create the list). We then fill those accounts with the present-day cash value of 40 acres and a mule, compounded for interest since 1865, and divide the money equally among those people who can make verifiable claim of linear descent from the person to whom the account's been assigned. (Yes, a massive genealogy project.) This seems to me a good free-market approach to the reparations problem, one which preserves tort law norms (people who suffer injury have a right to be made whole by their tortfeasors) and property rights norms (parents have the right to pass on property that is rightfully theirs to their descendants). The idea is to correct for the wrong that was done in 1865 when the Freedmen didn't get what they were owed - their compensation for their travails - the 40 acres and a mule General Sherman promised. And for the subsequent wrong, that they were unable to pass on the property that was rightfully theirs (the 40 acres, and any profits they turned thereupon) to their heirs. We virtually go back in time and compensate the Freedmen, and allow them to virtually pass on their property to their descendants. It's not a perfect plan, but it strikes me as better than "lets not tax African-Americans for 40 years".


In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (free registration required), guest columnist Todd Young writes in defense of the proposition that conservative values are becoming the norm in America. In support of his claim, he cites recent survey data:
In a CBS News national poll taken in February, 59 percent of Americans supported constitutional amendments protecting traditional marriage and 62 percent opposed laws that would give same-sex partners a marriage license and the same legal status as traditionally married couples.
Now, I agree that those numbers suggest a broad (if not necessarily deep) opposition on the part of Americans to allowing same-sex couples to obtain civil marriages.

But, little Sherman, hop in your mental Way-Back Machine, and set the dial back 30 years to 1974 (hardly the high water mark for American conservatism). If you were to grab some schmoe off the street and tell him, "By 2004, 38% of people polled will support a law allowing men to marry other men," do you think his reaction would be, "My goodness, conservative values have certainly triumphed in your day, O terrifying man from the future!"? Yeah, me neither.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Minor Improvements

Preferring to light a candle than to curse the darkness, I searched out the way to change the Navbar color. (It's under "template" in the blog editor.) There are a limited number of options, so I selected "tan", the least-worst option. Hey, Blogger: how about more colors, like a stylish orange?


The Blogger navbar strikes the Fox. At least the thing is color coordinated with O.O.'s site; is there any way I can get it in a stylish orange?

Heidi Klum Can't Marry

As a condition of her modeling contract. In addition, she
was forced to frantically regain her shape after the recent birth of her beautiful daughter. Heidi had a shoot 34 days after Leni's birth that she had to be back in picture perfect shape for or risk breach of contract.
Come de revolution, this kind of crap won't be tolerated.

Oh, Man: I Feel Like Ass

But on the plus-side, at least I now know what an ass feels like.
So it's been a learning experience.

Pray for Mojo

Is it possible to develop the flu in an hour? I felt fine at 4:00. By 5:00, I'm dying. grumble-grumble. And I had big plans for tonight. Big trivia-night-at-Liffey's plans.

Ready for Yet More Man-Eating Dinos?

Apropos of my Jurassic Park III post, a friend/reader wrote to mention that they're making a sequel to the sequel to the sequel to one of the coolest movies ever made: that's right, Jurassic Park IV. The plot, he tells me, involves human-dinosaur hybrid mercenaries named for heroes of Greek myth who attempt to stop North America from being overrun by escaped dinosaurs.

Now, at first this seemed ridiculous to me. Hybrid mercenaries? Is the well honestly so dry that they're cribbing from Dinosaucers? (One of my favorite cartoons as a kid, by the way.) I assumed this was just some elaborate fan-fiction that had escaped from the lab. And yet, there's an IMDB page for the movie (no mention of hybrid warriors). And here's the Ain't It Cool News piece that seems to have gotten my friend going. So it's real.


Mientkiewicz at Second?

Leave it to the Red Sox to trade for a defensive first baseman and then play him at second within two weeks. Who's running that monkey-house?

Monday, August 16, 2004

Hey! That's Mean

Earlier today, Wonkette was watching the same C-SPAN blogging symposium I was, and she has some not very nice comments about Dan Radosh.

I'm Watching Jurassic Park III

That's how uninterested I am in the Olympics.

Not Just Gay, Nor Merely Adulterous

Don't forget that the real Gov. McGreevey story is that he was massively crooked. Not just installing his putative lover in a $100K-a-year homeland-security position for which he had no apparent qualifications. There was the bribery scheme with the codeword "Machiavelli". His head of state police had to resign because of connections with the mob. He had aides resigning after only a few months in office because of corruption scandals. John Fund breaks it down, along with some possible structural explanations for the Garden State's perpetual corruption problem, in the Wall Street Journal Online. Man, and I thought Rhode Island was crooked.

Athens Olympics Desperate for Spectators

Tell me again why it would be such a boon for New York to host the 2012 Olympics.... The ancient Olympics hung around for a millennium; ours is beginning to fade into the dust after a century.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Not So Fast

From the New Jersey governor's web page:
James E. McGreevey was elected the 51st governor of the State of New Jersey on November 6, 2001, and took the oath of office on January 15, 2002. His term runs until noon on January 17, 2006.
Repent at leisure, as they say.

A Woman Clothed in the Sun


Just heard on FoxNews Sunday that they're going to cancel C-SPAN's Booknotes. Seems Brian Lamb was just tired of doing it, that having to become an expert on a new book every week was just too exhausting.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

St. Maximilian Kolbe, Pray for Us

Today is the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe. On this day 53 years ago, he was executed in Auschwitz, one of ten men starved to death in retaliation for the escape of a prisoner. After weeks of starvation and dehydration had not killed him, the guards, needing his cell for other prisoners, ordered him killed by an injection of carbolic acid. St. Maximilian had volunteered to join the condemned in the place of another man, who was a young husband and the father of several children.

Look What You Did to Mr. Bigglesworth!

Friday, August 13, 2004


Figuring that "100% chance of thunderstorms, flood warnings for Boston" meant the BoSox game would be cancelled, I decided to stay in New Haven for the evening and ride out the storm here. Well, it's now 1-0 Chicago in the second. grumble-grumble.

UPDATE: And, of course, the weather here is lovely. grrrr...

Versus Versus Versus: To the Death!

On Fox: Man v. Beast and an all-new Man v. Beast II.
In the theaters: Aliens v. Predator.

Who ya got?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Spahn, Sain, and Pray For (No) Rain

I've got tickets for tomorrow night's Red Sox / White Sox game up in Fenway. That is, if there IS a game tomorrow. I'll be honest when I say: I'm not very confident.

Sequels That Don't Suck

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is currently airing on Comedy Central. Highly underrated sequel. For my money the shift from Gremlins to Gremlins 2 has got to be one of the biggest stylistic/thematic shifts in the history of movie franchises. Gremlins is basically a straight horror movie, albeit one with a certain sense of humor about itself. Gremlins 2 is a comedy with some horror elements. For goodness' sake, there's a big song number! And Tony Randall does the voice of one of the Gremlins! Gizmo spends most of the movie wearing a Rambo-style red bandana! The movies have the same casts, the same theme music, the same three rules, and the same ferocious imps, but they "feel" totally different. Both fun movies though.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

From the "When It Rains It Pours" Files

Majette Wins GA Democratic Senate Primary

Will face off against John Isakson in November. You know, if Herman Cain had won the GOP primary we would have had two Senate races this year in which both candidates were African-Americans. Given that there've only been four black senators in US history, and only two since 1881, that would have been pretty cool.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Religion of Stem Cells

Who's Down the Pipe for the Court

An interesting, if somewhat speculative, article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the possible Supreme Court nominees we might see after the 2004 election. (Link via Southern Appeal)

One beef: the article asserts that Kerry might nominate a political figure, rather than a jurist, to fill a vacancy. That's reasonable. But check out their examples:
"Kennedy opted for Byron White -- a football hero and top prosecutor -- and if President Kerry were thinking along these lines, his short list could include such names as [Rep.] Richard A. Gephardt [of Missouri] and [former Maryland Lt. Gov.] Kathleen Kennedy Townsend."
This is probably just idle speculation by a friend of Mrs. Kennedy Townsend, trying to get her name in the papers. Let's hope so. The idea that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is qualified for a Supreme Court justiceship is more than a little laughable. We're talking about a woman whose career highlight was losing the race for governor in an overwhelmingly Democratic state while the sitting lieutenant governor. A woman whose legal intellect is so great that she was able to parlay the Kennedy name and a Harvard BA into a JD from the illustrious University of New Mexico School of Law. I've no doubt that, if nominated and confirmed, she would be the least qualified Supreme Court justice in the venerable institution's two-plus centuries. Hands down.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I Must Confess: That's Pretty Cool

They've made a remake of I Confess, called Confession. See the teaser-trailer here. That reminds me, I should rent I Confess.

Link via Father Sibley

Sunday, August 08, 2004

President's Nephew Marries

George Prescott Bush, son of Florida governor Jeb Bush, got married in Maine Saturday. In an Episcopalian church, St. Ann's. I thought the Jeb Bush wing of the family was Catholic. What gives?

"You Are a Plague, and We Are the Cure"

Watching the original Matrix on TBS right now. It's easy to forget, after the horrible sequels, just how great this movie really was. Not just the action scenes, though they were mind-blowing, ground-breaking, and - just a month or so after the Columbine Massacre - deeply disturbing. Even the small scenes, which became so pretentious and ridiculous in the sequels, are great in the original. I especially like the sequence in which Agent Smith, alone with Morpheus for a moment, confesses his hatred for the world of the Matrix: "it's the smell." Before he turned into the ASCII Lucifer, Smith was actually quite a character (perhaps even worthy of this list).

Or Maybe...

Today was the Dominican Day parade in Manhattan. On CBS News, they described the parade as being in commemoration of the restoration of the Dominican constitution. Which would make sense, except that Restoration Day in the Dominican Republic is celebrated on August 16. Call me crazy, but might not the Dominican Day parade be scheduled for today because today is the Feast of St. Dominic, the country's patron saint?

The Rape Shield Paradox

It's Official, ribbit-ribbit

Pseudo-Muppet Alan Keyes will run for the Senate from Illinois.

Walker Percy Question

Cacciaguida seems to be reading Walker Percy's Lancelot. I read it in July, and liked it a lot. I'm currently reading The Thatanos Syndrome.

I have a Walker Percy question, for all those Southern Catholic-lit experts in my readership: what's the relationship between The Thatanos Syndrome and Love in the Ruins Clearly, both are about Dr. Tom More, and The Thatanos Syndrome seems to come after Love in the Ruins chronologically. But the world of The Thatanos Syndrome seems to be very different, very much less insane, than the world of Love in the Ruins. Is the point that the weirder aspects of Love in the Ruins were dreamt-up by Dr. More, or at least embellished by his temporary madness?

What's the deal? Professor 'iaguida? Mme. Tushnet? Bueller? Bueller?

Happy Feast of St. Dominic, All

One man, responsible for the Order of Friars Preachers AND the greatest pound-for-pound baseball powerhouse on Earth? Yes.

With God's help, all things are possible.

Yankee-Blogging, the Return

I haven't blogged about the Bombers in a while. Don't assume from that that I've not been following them. I just haven't had much to say. Now I do. So:

They're going to build a new Yankee Stadium, right next to the old one. I'm generally against teams leaving the old, venerable parks (Fenway, the Stadium, Wrigley, Le Stade Olympique - just kidding!). If a new stadium must be built, my druthers, if I could have 'em, would be to do it on the location of the old one. It's a reverence-for-place thing; it would mean a lot to me, for wholly irrational reasons, for the Yankees of the future to play on the same grass where Ruth and Yogi and Reggie and all the other Great Men once trod. But the practical problems involved with razing one stadium and raising another on its spot are too daunting, so my idea's a non-starter.

If the new stadium must be built, I suppose I like the way they're doing it. First, it's entirely self-financed. No ludicrous giveaways from a cash-strapped city. Second, the look of the new stadium is meant to be evocative of the original Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built of the 20s. Modern amenities of course, but a retro look. Third, they're keeping the original stadium partially standing, and will convert the field into a Little League field. That's the right idea; it would've been a shame to see it paved over.

One question: will the home locker room in the new stadium still have an empty locker bearing the number 15?

The team, meanwhile, has been playing great. Four great starts, back-to-back-to-back-to-back, from Brown, Vazquez, El Duque and Lieber. The offense has been heating up, scoring 30 runs over the last four games. The bullpen's rested. Jeter's average is up to .281, Sheffield, A-Rod and Matsui are slugging like it's going out of style, and the newly acquired John Olerud has been on fire. Any team in baseball could have had this guy; why do we have all the luck?

What Did You Do in the War, Lanky?

In the abstract, I don't especially care what either Bush or Kerry was doing 35 years ago. If Bush joined the Air National Guard in order to avoid combat is that a mark against his character? Sure. Ditto if he went AWOL while in the Guard. But surely what we've learned about Bush's character in the last four years overshadows whatever we might learn from the Viet Nam era. The same is true of John Kerry. It seems to me irrelevant whether he sought out hazardous duty or sought to stay as far from trouble as possible (depending on how you look at it, volunteering for the swift boats could be either). Likewise, whether or not Kerry deserved his three purple hearts just doesn't matter that much to me. John Kerry circa 1969 is not running for president, John Kerry circa 2004 is.

That said, I think this story about the swift boat vets who challenge Kerry's account of his tour in Viet Nam is a big deal. Not just because of the ham-handed way in which the Kerry campaign and the DNC have reacted to it. The substance of their charges is a big deal. Kerry's made his four months in Viet Nam the centerpiece of his campaign; his bronze star and purple hearts are a major part of that story. If, as the swift boat vets are alleging, the purple hearts emerged out of minor, self-inflicted wounds and the incident that lead to the bronze star was largely a fabrication, then Kerry's a fraud, as well as a schmuck. If those allegations are false, then the people making them are, to quote our president, major-league assholes, and Kerry deserves, at the least, an apology.

Since I wasn't there, I have no idea which side is telling the truth. Maybe these vets are just a bunch of right wing stooges; maybe they are just disinterested patriots trying to set the record straight. Probably they're something in between. I think we ought to sort this thing out. The issue isn't whether John Kerry was a hero or a knave in Viet Nam 35 years ago; it's whether or not he's a fraud today.

In The Long Litany of Lame Superheros...

...I think we can all agree that Choice Chick is the lamest. What does it say about Kerry and Edwards that they're her sidekicks? Nothing good, I can tell you that much. Go, Judgebots, go!

Who else thinks Kedwards' next crossover will be into the pages of Dr. Strange, to join the Sorcerer Supreme in the fight for gay marriage?

(and yes, I know Marvel stopped publishing Dr. Strange in 1996)

Saturday, August 07, 2004

A Surprisingly Good Movie

That's what Pokémon: the First Movie is. The animation's pretty decent, and the villain, Mewtwo, has a cool Frankenstein's-monster-caught-in-an-existential-dilemma thing going on. Plus, there's a tripped-out short film set in a Pokémon water park at the beginning. Check it out sometime, if you've got nothing else going on.

It's on the Cartoon Network right now, that's why I mention it.

Bulbasaur and Squirtle, the OGs of Pallet Town.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Vote For Pedro

NOTICE: Spoilers follow. At least pseudo-spoilers. You've been warned.

My brother and I saw Napoleon Dynamite last night. It was alright. Fit nicely Moe Szyslak's definition of postmodern: "weird for the sake of weird". There were a lot of things (the family having a pet llama, the wife of the martial-arts instructor being an enormous female bodybuilder, Pedro's wig) that seemed as if they were just included for the "wouldn't it be weird if we had X" factor. They didn't tell you anything about the characters, in the way that some of the other far-out quirks (like Napoleon's proclivity for drawing obscure mythological animals) did. I like non-sequiturs, I really do, but there's only so many you can cram into a movie before it tips over into absurdist-surrealist territory. Not, as they say, that there's anything wrong with that. But the movie made me laugh, which was all I suppose I was looking for. A small film, but it's OK for films to be small sometimes.

I Have an Idea:

Let's do scientific research on death-row inmates! After all, they're "slated for destruction" anyway. Why waste all those supple, live organs when we could be advancing the cause of science?

Now, I don't actually believe we should actually use death-row inmates for scientific experimentation. But I don't see how the shape of the argument is any different than the argument of those who claim to believe life begins at conception but who still favor embryonic stem cell research. Take this quote from candidate for the Republican nomination for the Senate in Florida, Bill McCollum, found at NRO:
"I'm not for stem-cell research that takes life," says McCollum. "I also don't think embryos should be created for research purposes. But I do think that fertilized eggs slated for destruction should be available. I don't think that's life. It's not viable. I think that's a pro-life position."
Actually, I think I was unfair to McCollum's position at the start of this post. He doesn't support killing embryos for research purposes. He simply supports doing research on embryos who've already been killed. That's more like mandatory scientific research on the bodies of recently executed prisoners, without their consent. Which is, while still objectionable, less objectionable than doing research on living condemned prisoners.

Of course, McCollum is living in a dream world if he believes that embryonic stem cell research is being done only on embryos who've already been killed for other reasons, rather than on embryos who've been killed specifically for the purpose of doing research on their parts. But he's allowed to have his self-deluding positions, I suppose. Kudos to National Right to Life for endorsing Mel Martinez instead.

.009 > .004?

What's next, 2+2=4?

Found at the Corner.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Amish "Sort of Swept Up in Bush Fever"

Well, when you don't believe in inoculations, you can come down with all kinds of fevers. Ironically, this may be one of the few fevers where the only cure actually is more cowbell.

Best line of the piece:
Democrats have all but ceded the Amish vote to Republicans.
I'm shocked.

OK, this seems like a big joke, but remember that the Amish live almost exclusively in swing states - Ohio, Pennsylvania, even Florida. They'd be a big prize, I guess, if you can actually get them to the polls.

Via Drudge

Vote for Keyes, ribbit-ribbit!

My favorite Republican (and Kermit the Frog look-a-like) Alan Keyes may be replacing Jack Ryan as the GOP Senate candidate in Illinois. He'll get crushed, of course, but his candidacy will make for some excellent debates. And it'll be nice to have a candidate speaking openly and passionately about social conservatism (especially abortion) to an audience that's not already basically convinced (i.e., the Deep South). Oh, that Alan; I could listen to him croak on for hours.

Separated at birth?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Double Ouch!

Chris Caldwell on the Dems. This stings:
Perhaps most electorally harmful, given the personality-focused way campaigns are covered nowadays, was Teresa Heinz Kerry's paean to her own self-assertiveness, in which she was permitted to vent the delusion that hers is the candor of a feminist who had fought for her rights, rather than a billionairess who is simply used to being listened to. This is leaving aside her galling attempt to recast her upbringing in the upper reaches of Mozambican society under colonial dictatorship, and her education in apartheid South Africa, as human-rights credentials, rather than the opposite.
Found at Wonkette


Regular readers (all three of you!) may have picked up on my fondness for biting, caustic movie and book reviews. It should not surprise then that I liked this review of Jimmy Breslin's new book The Church That Forgot Christ which I found via Mark Shea (or Elliot Bougis, I can't tell anymore).

Nuke the Whales!

"Meaningless Multilateralism"

"One Man Global Content Provider" Mark Steyn has a good piece on multilateralism-as-manacles. Important to note that:
After the Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, put the squeeze on Nato’s 26 members, they reluctantly ponied up an extra 600 troops and three helicopters for Afghanistan. That averages out at 23.08 troops per country plus almost a ninth of a helicopter apiece. Credit where it’s due, the three Black Hawks all come from one country – Turkey. But it wants them back in six months’ time.

Now I very much like Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. I’ve met him a couple of times before his present eminence, and he’s one of the most thoughtful of European politicians – well disposed toward America, not into stringing along with Chirac and the other Europoseurs for the sake of it. But he finds himself presiding over a sham alliance. Theoretically, it has millions of conscript troops at its disposal. But it has no ability to project more than a few thousand out of area – ie, to any of the places anyone’s likely to need them in the years ahead.

In other words, if a military alliance means a press release and a black-tie banquet for Bush, Chirac, Schroder and co once a year, Nato works fine. If a military alliance means functioning armed forces capable of fighting side by side and killing the enemy, Nato is a post-modern joke. The big burly Fijians who’ve done such a splendid job guarding currency convoys in Iraq have made a greater contribution than many of America’s supposedly “major” allies. And, from a cost-benefit analysis, they didn’t require months of endless diplomatic schmoozing by Bush, Powell, Rice and Rumsfeld, all consuming valuable time and money which, when you add it all up, makes it cheaper to add another 600 men to the New Hampshire National Guard rather than chase round a dozen European capitals trying to crowbar them out of Nato barracks.
Multilateralism isn't about increasing America's hard power. It's partly about increasing our soft power (even if they don't have any useful soldiers, there are an awful lot of Europeans, and their opinions do matter) though it's not entirely clear to me why the Iraqis would prefer their country be occupied by Crusaders and Zionists from many nations. More importantly, it's about constraining American freedom of action. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's not. (I lean towards not, but I'm open to discussion.) But that's what it's about, and anyone who tells you different is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Pro-Life Democrats

Nice WSJ piece. Did you know that:
According to a Zogby poll taken last month, 47% of Democrats oppose abortion except in the case of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. Only 20% say abortion should be legal for any reason at any time during a pregnancy. To paraphrase a button being handed out at the pro-lifers' party this week: 47% of Democrats can't be wrong.
That's less pro-life than me, but about as pro-life as Dubya. And yet the party leadership sticks to the dogmatic position that any restriction on the right to chose abortion, any way, any time, is anathema. What gives?

And yes, the GOP has the opposite problem - lots of pro-choice voters, but an almost exclusively pro-life (to some extent) national leadership. That's part of what's so queer about the issue: after about a decade in flux, the parties settled into ossified positions on the issue in the early 1980s, but no one seems to have bothered to tell that to the legions of pro-life Catholic Democrats and pro-choice mainline Protestant Republicans. I've come to think the opposite state of affairs, in which the Republicans are the pro-choice party and the Democrats the pro-life one, would probably be more natural, for reasons I won't discuss here, since I'd have to discuss them at length.

In other news...

Monday, August 02, 2004

A Good Article on the JPII Priests

Orthodox, traditional and dangerous to know. The guys they profiled remind me of the priests at my church, St Mary's, where they have crazy things like confession every day (twice on Saturdays!), daily rosaries, weekly exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Solemn High Mass Sundays at noon, etc. Y'know, Catholicism, and plenty of it.

There's also some interesting stuff at the end about that phenomenon "known among Catholics as 'the bleeding'" (to revive an old joke):
To solve the current priest shortage, many Catholics want to open the priesthood to married men. But conservatives argue that the major problem is inadequate recruitment.
Not too shockingly, I'm in the "conservatives" camp here. I'm of that view for many reasons. One of them is that I think the "if only priests could marry!" line is founded on a premise that's simply false: that there are enough Catholic men out there who would become priests but for mandatory clerical celibacy that allowing priests to marry could "solve the current priest shortage". Does anyone really believe that there are thousands of such men in this country? Has anyone actually met one of them, a man who was convinced he had a vocation for the priesthood, but just couldn't follow God's call because he wanted to marry too badly?

Ditching mandatory priestly celibacy would throw a thousand years of Church discipline into disarray for what would be, at best, a marginal increase in the number of priests in the developed world. Just doesn't seem worth it to me. It's a quick-fix solution: change one rule, and everything will be better, without our having to make any real, internal change. The Catholic laity wants more priests, wants priests in numbers like in the old days, but for what? To perform weekday Mass for a few elderly women? To sit in the confessional waiting for the same half-dozen penitents while the rest of the congregation is out livin' it up in a state of mortal sin? And otherwise to sit quietly in their cells? Vocations have declined, ultimately, because the Catholic laity has allowed its faith to be weakened. Is it really harder to live a life of celibacy in 2004 than it was in 1904, or 1804, or 1504? Or is it that we're no longer raising Catholic men up to the challenge, or who see life in God's priesthood as worth the sacrifice? Vocations will only rise anew when the faith of the laity is renewed; anything else will be, at best, a band-aid. And in the meantime, we can always import good priests from India and Anglophone Africa.

You know what small (or perhaps not so small) thing might actually do some good on this score? If we to remember our Catholic sexual ethics. We commonly speak (as I have in this post) of priests as being required to be celibate, as if celibacy itself were one of the characteristics that separated the priesthood from the laity. And yet, of course, all unmarried Catholics are called to "celibacy"; it is just as much a sin (and a mortal sin, to boot) for a layman to have sex with someone who's not his wife as for a priest to do the same. What divides priests from laymen is that the former cannot marry; we might be better off to speak, not of "priestly celibacy", but of "priestly batchelorhood". For the faithful Catholic man, the choice is not between celibacy and the life of a swinging, 1970s-style ladies man, but rather between perpetual celibacy dedicated to the service of God and temporary celibacy while in pursuit of a wife. (Incidentally, a remembering of this notion might also do wonders to defend the Church's position on homosexuals, that those experiencing same-sex attraction are called to be chaste: all unmarried people are called to be chaste.)

"The Angus Diet is not a real diet"

It's really more of a lifestyle, a "style of life" if you will. OK, actually, it's a mildly amusing ad campaign for a mildly delicious sandwich. MMMMM...eponymous hamburger....

Dave Rice, he funny.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

If Only Organists Could Marry!