Mansfield Fox

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night

Departing today for parts unknown, there to celebrate Christmas. I won't be at blogging-depth the entire time I'm there, so this will have to be the official Mansfield Fox "merry Christmas" to my loyal readers. (And, to be realistic, probably your "happy New Year" too.) I've had a lot of fun this year, in the real world and on the blog, and I look forward to even bigger and badder things in 2005. There'll be another Yankees season, my cra-a-azy summer in New York, the start of my 3L year... all leading up to the big silver anniversary. That's right, next December we'll be celebrating "25 Years of Angus: A Commemoration in Pressed and Cured Meats". I'm most excited about the statue recalling my days as a cross-country runner, made entirely out of Polish sausage.

But that's in the future. Now is now. So merry Christmas, all. Safe travels.

The Joys of a Federalized Election

Democratic-leaning New Yorkers (this means you, immediate relatives) apparently voted for the wrong "John Kerry" on election day. It seems, as a result of a typo, that "John L. Kerry", rather than John F. Kerry, was on the ballot in the Empire State.

This brings to mind the story out of Minnesota about the Democratic elector who accidentally voted for John Edwards for president as well as vice president. Both stories are funny "news-of-the-weird" pieces about the wacky problems of trying to run a Nineteenth Century electoral system in a Twenty-First Century country of 300 million people.

Of course, they're only "ha-ha" funny, as opposed to "IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN...." funny, because Kerry lost. Imagine a litigation circus as to whether John FORBES Kerry was entitled to New York's electoral votes, with the White House in the balance. Imagine a 269-269 tie, broken because an absent-minded Upper Midwest elector accidentally double-votes for the vice presidential nominee.

I like the Electoral College, and I like having each state run its own election, but supporters of the status quo need to acknowledge the risks inherent in such a system. They're manageable and bearable, but real.

(NY vote link via RP&c)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Pop America vs. Soda America

The only demographic map you'll ever need.

None of this stuff is particularly mind-shattering. If you didn't know that soda* is called "soda" in the Northeast and California, "pop" in the Midwest, Great Plains and Pacific Northwest, and "coke" in the South, then you haven't been drinking enough syrupy carbonated beverages.

I'm intrigued, though, by the borderlands between the regions. Along the Allegheny Mountains there's a rather abrupt break separating honest soda-loving eastern New York and Pennsylvania from the dissolute, pop-drinking parts of those states. The boundaries between soda and coke are much hazier and more peculiar. Look at New Mexico, Virginia and North Carolina: they're crazy-quilts of different uses, with some "other" counties thrown in. Alaska too.

Is there a broader significance to this? Well, Arizona was the only "soda" state to vote for Bush, while no "coke" states went for Kerry. So it's likely to remain in 2008. The road to the White House runs through the "pop" states. A man who could connect with them, who could put down his grinders and his po'boys and break sub with them - such a man would win in a landslide.

*And yes, folks, the name of the beverage is actually "soda". Don't give me none of your hillbilly "pop" crap. Civilized people drink soda. I'll defend that proposition to the death if need be.

Is Santa a Republican? (A Dialogue)

I feel like this is the kind of thing that happens when you open up the Summa, pop in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and drop a hit of acid.

(via the Corner)

Monday, December 20, 2004

Jack Frost is Asking for an Ass-Kicking

It's days like this I'm glad I'm endothermic.

It snowed last night in the Elm City; temperatures have dropped into the low teens. It's the kind of weather in which your breath freezes to your beard and moustache on the way out. (A pleasant experience, as you've no doubt surmised.) It's so cold that my lunch went from hot to tepid, even in a styrofoam container, on the five-minute walk from the buffet home. (It recovered after a brief stint in the microwave, but still....) I'm only just beginning to be able to feel my toes again.

Baby, it's cold outside.

"No, Your Words Are Wasted."

Margaret Holloway is the greatest actress of her generation. Her Medea is a beautiful terror. Her Macbeth hypnotic. Her original works are inspired, subtly plumbing depths I'll never see.

Margaret Holloway is a schizophrenic. She panhandles on the streets of New Haven, often quite aggressively, exchanging dramatic recitals for cash. They call her the Shakespeare Lady.

Margaret Holloway is my friend.

She has a court appearance today on a some misdemeanor charges and a failure to appear. She's already worked some time off whatever sentence she might get, having served 53 days in the women's prison in Niantic prior to Thanksgiving. I believe she can get up to a year on the FTA, but in my time at the state's attorney's office I never saw anyone get the full year unless it was concurrent with some heavier sentence for a more serious crime. I fear, though, that there's a first time for everything.

It looks like there'll be a benefit concert some time in February to raise money for her. Feel free to email me if you want more specific information; I'll try to get it for you.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

When All Other Lights Go Out

Many people have favorite things - favorite books, favorite movies, favorite foods, favorite saints, favorite seasons. I have none of these things. There are lots of things I like, of course, that I prefer to the general run of things of their ilk. But I'm never able to pick one and say, "this is my favorite". I try sometimes, and get close, but invariably wind up talking my way into the virtues of its rivals, to the ruin of the whole project. I like to think it's my generous spirit, but, in truth, it's probably just my indecisiveness.

I do have one favorite, though. A favorite star.

It's Sirius, the Dog Star.

I know, I know: picking the brightest star is terribly unoriginal, horrendously obvious. And yet, there you have it. You have to understand, you see, that I've lived almost my entire life in places plagued by overcast nights and dreadful light pollution. (I can probably count on two hands the number of truly starry nights I've had.) Sirius, as the brightest, is always visible. Of all the stars that do battle with the gloom of a New England sky, it is the last to succumb. Polaris is renowned for its constancy, which is doubtless merited from a nautical perspective. I am more impressed, however, by the fidelity of the Dog Star. In a world of change and decay, it remains. It comes, too, just when it's needed: in the winter, when the days are grown short and men somber.

One night in college, in the dead of winter, I was walking back to my home, through the snow, at about 4am. The newspaper had just been put to bed after a marathon copy-editing session. It was cold, and I was exhausted, and as I crunched around in the snow I was watching the stars. And I saw Sirius, though I didn't know it by name then. As it shimmered, it gave off the most beautiful array of colors: blue, red, green. And then colors I didn't recognize: new colors, unknown to Earth, the radiance of the heavens, distilled. It was nothing, I know: just a trick played on my mind by exhaustion and the onset of hypothermia. But it was beautiful.

I'm sure my fondness for this star is a pagan instinct that I ought to suppress. But I find I cannot.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

"This Place is Dead Anyway."

I watched Swingers with my friends last night. I was amazed how much I'd never picked up on before.

Now, I've seen the movie. A lot. I am, after all, an American male who entered college in the late nineties: repeated "Swingers" viewing was one of my few undergraduate requirements. I'll estimate I've seen the movie, all or in part, maybe 75 times. One of my freshman year roommates got into the habit of watching it every night before he went to sleep. I think maybe he thought it was some kind of esoteric riddle, that if he watched it enough ancient and powerful secrets would be revealed. (Sort of Pi-esque.) Or maybe he just liked the jokes. I never figured it out. Anyway, I'd invariably watch with him sometimes, and so, without ever quite intending it, I managed to watch "Swingers" an ungodly number of times.

But, in all my repeat viewings, I never picked up on a bunch of stuff. I think I was always distracted by my discomfort at the gut-wrenching awkwardness of everything the movie's protagonist, Mike, does. (It's hard not to be if you're possessed of any human sympathy.) I always watched "Swingers" the way I used to watch horror movies when I was a kid: my eyes and ears were there, but my mind was in hiding, throwing up wall after wall of defenses, desperately pretending it was somewhere else. And so I missed a lot of stuff that I'm only just noticing now, after law school has stripped me of all your pathetic human "emotions". (kidding, kidding)

I missed the small details: the times the characters don't pick up the drinks they order, the fact that the guys all drive their own cars in a little motorcade as they're going from party to party. Little subtleties that tend to escape you when your mind is screaming: "THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING."

One thing that I never caught is how vaguely homoerotic the relationship among the male characters is. There are a couple of instances of this, but the one that most jumped out at me was a moment in the swing bar towards the end of movie. Trent and Sue (who's a man, for those unfamiliar with the picture) are sitting in a booth, with a woman, apparently a semi-serious girlfriend of Sue's, on Sue's left. Earlier in the scene, there'd been an argument between Sue and his lady-friend about whether he'd called her the previous Monday (he hadn't, but was trying to claim he had), with Trent gleefully poking holes in his friend's story. That argument came to an end, however, when they see Mike hitting on a woman at the bar. (Mike's romantic problems - he can't get over his ex-girlfriend who broke up with him when he moved to LA to try to make it as a comedian - are the focus of the movie. His friends spend the picture trying to lift him out of his rut, mostly by helping him hit on women in casinos, bars and parties. But because he can't get over his ex, he's spectacularly, and agonizingly, bad at it.) Anyway, when they see Mike at the bar, Trent and Sue become enrapt, watching their friend and protege finally succeed. Intoxicated, they're already fallen into each others arms. They're leaning against each other, with Trent's arm behind Sue's back, his hand over his shoulder. The girlfriend, who's still with them, is sitting apart. She's probably less than a foot away, but in terms of emotional space it might as well be an infinity. And then, the best part, which I only just noticed last night: Trent starts to play with Sue's hair with his fingers. It's a brief shot, not played to be noticed. But it speaks to the larger themes of the movie.

None of the five men the movie centers around are homosexual. But they're all, to a large extent, homosocial. They live in a world where men can only be friends, in any meaningful sense, with other men. All their emotional ties (except Mike's feelings for his ex-girlfriend, which the audience experiences only as memory and hurt) are with other men (specifically, each other). Women are a kind of prey, to be hunted for sport or, on occasion, out of need. It's the apotheosis of the "bro's before ho's" ideal. And the bro's are actually quite capable of emotional intimacy with one another, and even (as in the scene I've described above) of a certain tenderness. It's the result of the philosophical decision they've made to separate physical and emotional intimacy: two heterosexual men snuggling in a swing bar.

More Bourgeois than Beaujolais

You scored as Middle Class. You're content in your position and would prefer a house or a family than a seven figure pay cheque. But you have your moments of weakness when you buy a lottery ticket in the hope of knowing how the rich and famous live.

Middle Class: 71%
Alternative: 67%
Upper Middle Class: 54%
Luxurious Upper Class: 29%
Lower Class: 25%

What Social Status are you?
created with

This test (via Dappled Things) is obviously more about attitude than actual socio-economic status. In that regard, I think it's probably basically accurate. I am more interested in having a happy family than in being wealthy.

Yes, I am Immature. Why?

Church Sign Generator

UPDATE: Argh! Outsmarted by another machine. The sign reads:
Live Monkey Show

Tickets $7
No Outside Food
Seems the people at Church Sign Generator are too clever for me. Still, click over and design your own cheeky church signs.

Ice Cube vs. Donald Rumsfeld

Now, one man is discovering that the greatest threat to our nation comes from within.
- from the trailer for the upcoming xXx: State of the Union

So, it's now three and a quarter years after the September 11th attacks. For the past 40 months (or thereabouts) the United States has been involved a protracted war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. In that period, we've fought with to countries from the Muslim world, one a theocratic dictatorship, one a secular one. In that span, a huge number of movies, including a huge number of action movies, has been released. And of those movies, how many have featured Islamic fundamentalists, of the kind our soldiers are fighting every day, as the villains? To my knowledge, none.

Because, of course, the real threat to the United States is maniacal secretaries of defense, or wealthy German neo-nazis, or oil-industry-linked vice presidents and the global superstorms who love them.

Back in the 1990s, when Islamic fundamentalist terrorism was generally perceived to be less of a threat than it is today, we were relatively comfortable with having our cinematic villains be terrorists who happened to be Muslims. True Lies isn't an especially political film; it's a spy caper that uses Muslim terrorists as its villains chiefly, I assume, because by 1994 "the Russians" seemed old hat. The Siege is much more political, and though Bruce Willis' General Devereaux is treated as villainous for his vicious abuses of civil liberties, the movie at least recognizes that there's an actual (if perhaps complicated) terrorist threat that has to be combated. (I think, for what it's worth, that "The Siege" was way off in how it expected the government and the American people to react to a domestic terrorist attack, as our reaction to September 11th demonstrated. The idea that all the Muslims of New York City would be rounded up and forced into a makeshift concentration camp in the old Dowling Stadium - which, since the structure was a horseshoe rather than a complete oval, would have made a pretty lousy detention center anyway - always seemed a bit overblown, and now just looks ridiculous.)

I think CAIR has something to do with this. (Yes, yes, I know: when in doubt, right-wingers blame CAIR. But this time it really is them.) They started protesting the portrayal of Muslims in "True Lies", and, to my knowledge, have protested every movie since that features Muslim terrorists, or Muslims fighting against Americans. They protested Rules of Engagement, about an American soldier on trial for massacring Yemeni civilians. They lobbied (successfully) to get the Muslim villains of "Sum of All Fears" changed to German neo-nazis. And so on. They're an organized interest group that makes life difficult for producers, who doubtless find it easier to send their heroes to defeat bad guys from ethnic or political groups that lack lobbying arms, like neo-nazis.

That said, I don't think CAIR's the whole story. CAIR's been around, protesting the inclusion of Islamic terrorists as villains, since 1995. It's only since 2001 that we've had this unofficial moratorium on Islamic terrorists as villains. Maybe CAIR took a while to perfect its protesting technique; maybe took six years to get the message that having Muslim villains was more trouble than it was worth. Those are both plausible explanations, and probably part of the story. And, I think, part of it is the fear of creating a backlash: as long as Islamic fundamentalist terrorism was a hypothetical threat, having them as movie villains was fine; but after the attacks, when people feared there was going to be a great retributive backlash against American Muslims, the safest avenue was to stop portraying Muslims as villains on film. The last thing anybody wanted was for a guy from Bangladesh get killed, and have his murder justify his actions by claiming that he understood from "Sum of All Fears" that all Muslims were terrorists.

But, I think, there's something else going on. I think you have to take seriously the idea that Islamic fundamentalist terrorism dropped out of movies after September 11th because Hollywood types (how's that for painting with a broad brush?), who as we know aren't too keen on "Shrub" Bush, figured that casting al-Qaeda types as villains would strengthen Bush's hand, by reinforcing the notion that we actually are in a "war" against "terror", that the "threat" is "real" (fingers tired from the scare quotes yet?). Better to just ignore it.

And yet, I suppose Donald Rumsfeld should be proud. He joins Cheney and Bush on the list of Administration officials who are also movie villains. How Ashcroft made it four years without having to go mano e mano in a climactic battle with The Rock, I'll never know. Next up: Paul Walker versus Treasury Secretary John Snow. There's a secret conspiracy to institute a national sales tax, and only one man can stop it!

Pot, Meet Kettle

The American Civil Liberties Union is using sophisticated technology to collect a wide variety of information about its members and donors in a fund-raising effort that has ignited a bitter debate over its leaders' commitment to privacy rights.
Clearly, this is John Ashcroft's fault.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Thanks Be To God

"The Llama Song"

We have a new winner for "strangest online music video". Oh yes, we do.

(via RageMonkey)

I Only Consider You Swine Compared to Me


What herb are you? brought to you by Quizilla

(via Eve Tushnet)

Happiness is a String Bean

Bamboo shoot, shoot

The Chinese buffet place over on Whitney Street had string beans today. That's always a fortuitous sign. If there's a better way to spend a late December afternoon than eating cheap Chinese takeout, listening to Stevie Wonder and the Police, watching Brutus (my grapefruit tree) grow, very slowly, followed by a little light blogging; well, I don't want to know about it.

Next: a brief siesta.

Then: the "Holiday" concert of Habeas Chorus, the very best (and only) a capella group at YLS. If you're in New Haven, and like off-key caterwauling, stop by the Law School dining hall at 5pm. You won't be disappointed.

Bloggers of Unusual Size

Many thanks to the lovely Dawn Eden for her kind words. I really enjoyed the party and was glad to have been invited. I must say, though, that the whole "petite powerhouse" thing is somewhat overstated. She's a powerhouse, sure. But she's not that small. On the low end of the normal range, maybe, but definitely within the range. I was expecting someone the size of a teacup chihuahua.

Father Sibley, on the other hand, was much bigger than I'd imagined. I'm taller than all the priests at St. Mary's except for Father Kalisch, so I think I'd just begun to assume that the clergy, like the Silent Service, had some kind of height cap. I was, needless to say, wrong. The good father is also full of sage thoughts on the underratedness of SEC football (though I still think he's too sanguine about Kentucky's prospects) and on the similarities between Christian Science and Gnosticism.

All-in-all, a great trip, well worth missing poker night for.

Why I Don't Like Dance Clubs

I'm very anti-dance club. Not because I dislike dancing. It's actually one of the few things I'm absolutely no good at that I really enjoy. It's that, to be frank, dance clubs are such meat-markets that I find myself utterly unable to just enjoy the dancing, so consumed am I by the desperate sadness of the environment.

Tonight I went to a club in New Haven. (Which club isn't especially relevant - in my [rather limited] experience, they're all the same in most significant respects.) We were having a going-away party for a friend of mine, who splits time between being a law student at Yale and a graduate student at another (& obviously inferior) Ivy League school nearby. It was nice to see people, and to wish her good luck and goodbye, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Except me. I actually had fun at first, but as the evening progressed I just couldn't shake the overwhelming feeling that places like this club are ultimately the cream of a very diseased culture, a culture that treats sexual congress as just another article of commerce, to be marketed, discounted and traded for the best possible price. Everyone in that club is a real person, with aspirations, with ideals, with faults and with virtues. But in the club, none of that's relevant. They're just bodies, barely covered, subordinate to the all-powerful bass-line.

What's most frustrating (and painful) is that I'm not blind to the appeal of such things. Like most men, I can appreciate the beauty of the female form. Like most men raised in late 20th Century American culture, I understand, viscerally, the appeal of these implausibly built women wearing little more than nothing. And yet, as a Christian, I'm repelled by such feelings. I recoil. I'm disgusted by the objectification of women to which I'm tempted. By the culture thats submits women (and men) to this. By the fact that people seem to accept it without questioning.

I'm not a fool. I understand that young people, those seething cauldrons of sexual hormones, are likely going in all sorts of carnal goings-on. I just question whether we need to develop cultural organs, and indeed a whole culture, that promotes such things, that celebrates them as among its highest goods.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

My High School Didn't Have a Farm

If you're the reader from Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, who first came here in the Insalanche, may I just say: it's pretty cool that your school has a farm. Pretty darn cool indeed.

Note: this blog is not not-for-sale, and will gladly exchange posts on any subject for fresh produce and/or chickens. Let no man call me incorruptible!

UPDATE: My bad. 'Twas no new reader, just an old reader at a new IP address. Still, the farm is neat.

Why Must Red-Shirts Be White-Skins?

Ursula K. Le Guin on the whitewashing of her Earthsea universe for TV and, more generally, the perils of selling the rights to one's books. I've never been that into Le Guin, so I'm not personally all that affected by the fact that her books have apparently been ruined. I do, however, appreciate her efforts to make her sci-fi and fantasy worlds non-lily white. I've never understood the conventions of the genres, which seem to suggest that there are no non-white ancient or medieval peoples or that the future belongs almost exclusively to Caucasians, both of which are patently false. Even on a fairly liberal show like Star Trek: The Next Generation, the "generic" crew, as opposed to the lead characters, was almost all white. I just don't get it. The principle characters of my magnum opus (which, now and for the foreseeable future, exists almost entirely in my head) are black or mixed-race; whites exist only on the margins, either geographically or socially. This isn't for ideological purposes - it comes naturally out of the logic of the story.

On reconsideration, I suppose my feelings on this are more mixed: I appreciate Le Guin's bucking the commercial and literary assumption that sci-fi/fantasy characters have to all or almost-all white; but, at the same time, I wish we lived in a world of literary color-blindness, in which, instead of saying "I want to write a science fiction story about people of color," authors would just come up with the story they want to tell and have things like the race of the characters, to the extent that it comes up at all, emerge organically out of the narrative itself. Of course, that's easy for me as a white guy to say - for the foreseeable future, most authors will remain white, and will probably want to write the kind of stories that are logically about white characters. So if you don't want people of color largely excluded from the genre, maybe you need authors like Le Guin making a special effort. I don't know. (What, you wanted a resolution of this issue?)

Fun with Real Audio

January 2002 State of the Union

I'm 24: does that mean I'm not a kid, and therefore don't my three nuclear missiles?

(via the Corner)

Last of the Dead Hot Mamas

Death, in a baby-step out of anonyblogging, has posted pictures of herself on her blog. I can say without fear of contradiction that she's a hottie.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bleg: Seeking Criminal-Jurisdiction Expertise

Fellow YLS student and St. Mary's parishioner Chris Muha is seeking help with a motion for reconsideration in State v. Yarbrough. Earlier this month, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned Yarbrough's conviction on the grounds that Ohio lacked jurisdiction to prosecute the murders (the deaths took place in Pennsylvania). The case is of particular interest to Chris (and thus, as his friend, to me) because one of the victims was his younger brother Brian.

I'm not especially knowledgeable on the kind of jurisdictional issues involved in this case, but it seems to me from reading the motion and the motion-synopsis that Chris is right and the Ohio Supreme Court got this one seriously wrong. I know there are some lawyers among my readership; please give Chris whatever help you can.

(original link via the Volokh Conspiracy)

Monkeys Nearly Write Shakespeare

Surely, this is no fraud.
"The monkeys also recently typed out a Thomas Pynchon novel, but that doesn't count."
One is apparently now a popular blogger. (Possibly Airdog?)

(via Fog of Warre)

It's the Most Obligatory Time of the Year....

(Unless my calculations are incorrect) this Sunday begins the most Masseriffic period of the Catholic calendar: a fifteen-day period in which American Catholics are obliged to attend Mass five times, on pain of incurring mortal sin. That is:
Sunday, December 19 ... (because it's a Sunday)
Saturday, December 25 ... (because it's Christmas)
Sunday, December 26 ... (because it's a Sunday)
Saturday, January 1 ... (because it's the Feast of Mary, Mother of God)
Sunday, January 2 ... (because it's a Sunday)
One out of every three days, Mass attendance is mandatory. This, I assume, is why they call it "the most wonderful time of the year".

UPDATE (12/19/04): Ooops. The perils of doing things from memory, especially when your memory is bad. January 1 is the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, not the Feast of the Holy Family, as I initially wrote. Holy Family is the Sunday after Christmas. This year, it's the 26th.

Read Kausfiles or Die!

Mickey Kaus is always worth reading, but if you choose only one set of posts to read this year I'd recommend these. Wide-ranging, insightful, open-minded, witty: the usual Kaus. Plus it contains this similetic bon mot:
I've called Andrew Sullivan "excitable," but [Juan] Cole makes Sullivan look like Brian Lamb.
Not necessarily free-standingly funny, except when you consider that Brian Lamb is inherently hilarious. He's like a mustachioed man in drag that way. (And, I assume, in no other.) The ultimate straight-man of politics.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

You Are a Retrospective Soul

The most misunderstood of all the soul signs.
Sometimes you even have difficulty seeing yourself as who you are.
You are intense and desire perfection in every facet of your life.
You're best described as extremely idealistic, hardworking, and a survivor.

Great moments of insight and sensitivity come to you easily.
But if you aren't careful, you'll ignore these moments and repeat past mistakes.
For you, it is difficult to seperate the past from the present.
You will suceed once you overcome the disappoinments in life.

Souls you are most compatible with: Traveler Soul and Prophet Soul

Dry-Sand Quicksand

This is pretty neat. (via OxBlog)


Cravath, Swaine & Moore has joined Sullivan & Cromwell in offering enormous (and I mean enormous) bonuses for first-year associates.

This is kind of against my own interests, but bonuses this size are ridiculous. Is this really the best use of clients' money?

"Greener Pastures"

Diary of an Instalanche, Part I

So yesterday, I'm minding my own business, tending my little blog in this quiet corner of the blogosphere, content with my modest audience of relations, YLS students and a small handful of conservative Catholics. Then the BlogFather posts on his favorite alternate-history novels. I write an e-mail, suggesting he look into a book in the genre that's a particular favorite of mine, and then put up a somewhat-related post over here. Then I went bowling.

By the time I got back, I discovered that Professor Reynolds had linked to my post, and that I was experiencing what's known as an Instalanche. This little blog, which had never gotten more than 68 hits in a day and which was averaging around 35 hits or so a day for the last couple weeks, got approximately 200 hits between the time of the initial link and 11:00pm (for reasons unknown, my eXTReMe Tracking software thinks I'm on Newfoundland time). In the last 20-odd hours, I've gotten around 660 more hits than I would have normally gotten. (You can see a visual representation of the spike here.)

I imagine most of these hundreds just looked quickly at the post and left, putting the Fox behind them forever. But if even 1% of those people become even semi-regular readers, I'll increase my readership by a third or so. It's a big day.

Also: some of the people who came here from Instapundit have been voting in the "A or B?" poll. Interestingly, they've been voting overwhelmingly for A or B, helping each to mount a comeback against C, which had been dominating prior to yesterday. I guess Instapundit readers are less anti-authoritarian, or just less skewed, than Mansfield Fox readers. Which is cool.

I'll post again later, with more reflections, after this wave has passed.

Dietary Dilemma

Good Angus says, "Make a salad"; Bad Angus says, "Order in pizza".

It's a never-ending war, people.

Pedro Signs with the Mets

This is the best possible option for the Yankees, who get to a) keep Pedro out of Boston's hands, and b) not get stuck in a long-term contract with an aging, temperamental, injury-prone head-case.

(via The Corner, where I get all my sports news)

Be Careful What You Wish For....

Look out, Instalanche! Women and children take cover!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Can You Defame an Alternate-Historical People?

Instapundit has been posting on alternate history novels. This reminded me of my all-time favorite work from that genre, Prof. Robert Sobel's For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga.

I was kicking around the internet looking for stuff that's been written about For Want of a Nail..., and I found this fansite, in which Sobel-heads can flesh out or extend the history from the book. I'm not a fan of fan-fiction, but this stuff seems particularly harmless. Of special interest is this piece, which takes the form of an angry book review in a fictional Montreal newspaper, criticizing Sobel's treatment of the Quebecois (who, indeed, do not come off well in the book). It speaks volumes, either of my biases or of the unique character of the French-Canadian, that I was initially taken in by the piece, and that this post was originally going to be a snide-sarcastic one about the bottomless sensitivity of the Quebecois.

I fear I may have just accidentally stumbled down a counterfactual-historical rabbit-hole of unknown depth. "For want of a nail," indeed.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Most Incredibly Brilliant Blog in the World

Now, I'm not much on kid-lit. (That is, contemporary kid-lit; I still tear up reading The Velveteen Rabbit, but Harry Potter leaves me cold.) But if there's one thing I do love, it's clever promotional tie-ins.

With that in mind, may I direct you to Olaf Unleashed, the official blog of Count Olaf, villain of the upcoming Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

(via Instapundit)

I Did Not Know That....

Apparently, you can say "f*ck" on basic cable after 1 am. Well, Comedy Central and Chris Rock seem to think so.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Iraqi Bloggers Visit the Oval Office

This may be one of those "the age in a nutshell" moments that gets a "would you believe it?" mention in History Channel documentaries about the era 50 years hence.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Yeah, the DeCamp Award is a Better Predictor

"Federal Judges and the Heisman Trophy", an article on why good appeals court judges are as unlikely to be good Supreme Court justices as Heisman winners are to be quality NFL players. (link via the Conspiracy)

An interesting side note: Justice Byron White finished second to Yale's Clint Frank in the 1937 Heisman voting. Small world.

...But the Kennedys Get All the Press

Seems there's a Palsgraf Curse, too.

Y'know, as in Palsgraf v. LIRR.

Hmmm. You don't know.

Well, then.

Carry on.

Is There a Giuliani Vote in the Red States?

Publius, of Res Publica &c, isn't so sure, contra Hugh Hewitt.

Publius thinks the Republican base, especially in the South, is just too conservative to nominate the pro-choice, pro-gay rights former mayor. I think he's probably right, that almost any reasonably competent social conservative will be able to take the nomination away from him in 2008. (This assumes Roe v. Wade is still good law in 2008. If not, all bets are off.)

I also think that, if one assumes a Hillary Clinton candidacy on the part of the Democrats (though that's obviously not a given), Giuliani probably gives the Republicans the best chance at retaining the presidency next time. (Though probably any serious GOP nominee could best Clinton, who would, I think, make Kerry and Gore look like strong candidates.)

Giuliani's sexual-politics liberalism probably gets him at least consideration in the Blue States. It's not difficult to imagine states like Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey being swing states in a Giuliani-Clinton race. And in the Red States, Hillaryphobia would probably be sufficient to keep enough social conservatives from defecting to the inevitable Pro-Life 3rd Party (Moore/Keyes in '08!) to keep those states in his column. (Not me, of course, but enough.)

Of course, this only works if he's facing Clinton. Against another candidate, one who inspires less irrational hatred among conservative, Giuliani might fare quite poorly in the general election. He might well lose more votes on the right than he'd pick up on the left. He'd be bearing the brunt of the entire Catholic hierarchy, every part of which would find something to dislike in the pro-choice, pro-death penalty, pro-war Giuliani. Plus, Giuliani's electoral history isn't exactly awe-inspiring. He's been in three elections in his life; he split with David Dinkins (David Dikins!) and defeated the not-exactly-vaunted Ruth Messinger. This does not exactly fill one with confidence that he'd clean the floor with, say, Tennessee Governor Phil Breseden.

Particularly if Giuliani runs (but even if he doesn't) the 2008 Republican primary is shaping up to be the first in my lifetime that's genuinely and self-consciously about the ideological future of the Republican Party. For the first time since 1980, you have the combination of a wide-open nomination and strong candidates representing the party's Moderate and Conservative (or, if you prefer, RINO and theocon) wings. I think the Conservatives will probably win, for a number of structural and demographic reasons, but the fight will be fierce, and will shape the future of the GOP for further generation.

Does This Fox Have (Coat) Tails?

The magazine Legal Affairs is running a reader poll on the 20 most influential legal thinkers in America. The 125 candidates are organized into three categories, Academics, Judges and Writers/Commentators, from which you can select a total of five.

First off, this award clearly needs a cute informal name, like Oscar or Emmy. I suggest we call them the Holmies, after Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who had a successful career as an academic, judge and commentator, and who's had an enormous impact on the American law (despite being, in my view, wrong on most issues of substance). It's also, to be frank, a cool name.

Second: I'd like now to take the unprecedented step of endorsing a candidate. You should use one of your five votes for Professor Robert C. Ellickson. Why, you ask?

1) He's my Property professor, and it never hurts to do right by your Property professor.

2) He's living proof of the truth of the maxim, "Bald is beautiful," in which I have a vested long-term interest.

3) His "social norms" theory, which holds that legal rules are often far less important in governing behavior than informal social practices, will be the Trojan Horse that destroys the legal profession from within. One day, perhaps not far in the future, we will awake to discover that lawyers have theorized themselves out of existence, to the rejoicing of the multitudes. To a lawyer-in-training afflicted with professional auto-thanatism, no prospect could be sweeter.

Go, vote. Early, often, etc. And vote Bob!

I'm Angus Dwyer, and I approved this message.
This post paid for by Property Students for Truth.
Property Students for Truth is responsible for the content of this post.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Good Point

TNR's Noam Scheiber has some meaningful insight into why soldiers voted so overwhelmingly for Bush, even with all the logistical/tactical mistakes the Administration has made in Iraq. Short, & worth a read.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

You're Living in the Past, Sullivan!

Andrew Sullivan and the good ladies of After Abortion have apparently been involved in a fairly vituperative email war. Being a small-potatoes blog - a meerkat, if you will, just trying to avoid getting smooshed as lions and elephants duke it out - I'll refrain from commenting on the substance of their fight (though regular readers doubtless know where my sympathies lie).

I post only to note: who'd've guessed that Andrew Sullivan, O he of the blog-revolution vanguard, would still be using an AOL email address in 2004? I was so surprised that I actually clicked over to his site to make sure that the emails were'nt a hoax someone had perpetrated on those good women by posing as Sullivan. Sure enough!

Honestly, who still uses an AOL address? I think at this point it's just him and my step-mother. (Hi, Eileen!) And even she's on the verge of being persuaded to give it up (she just don't know it yet).

Talk About Your High Transactions Costs!

The NYU School of Law has banned the trade in spots in limited enrollment courses on Coase's List.

Good Bad Movie Premises, Part III

I'm actually not sure this would be a bad movie. It's also a trilogy. The general idea is for an alternate-history epic that spins a counterfactual success in Operation: Market Garden produces Allied victory, and then Allied catastrophe. (The original nucleus of this idea can be found here.)
The Great Crusade: Victory
The movie follows groups of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division and the British XXX Corps through the last year of the war. It opens with the Anglo-American victory at Arnhem in the Netherlands. With Allied forces on the German side of the Rhine, Eisenhower accedes to his subordinate Montgomery: the British Field Marshal will form a massive force to push across the North German Plain in a drive to Berlin and the Nazi leadership. The army moves into Germany facing little resistance until counterattacked by a massive German army at Minden on the Weser River. The Allies face almost certain defeat until saved by the last-minute arrival of Patton's 3rd Army. The Allies push on into Berlin, which they take at enormous cost, in late autumn 1944. The movie ends with the German High Command's surrender, and scenes of rejoicing in the streets of American cities as FDR declares "Victory in Europe".

The Great Crusade: Rising
The movie opens in February 1945 with the American protagonists from Victory in the PX of their camp in Kassel. They're now part of an occupation force, working to rebuild a shattered Germany, but they fear they'll soon be redeployed to the Pacific to fight on the Empire of Japan. A scrambled signal comes on the radio: it's former SS Obergruppenfuhrer Ernst Kalternbrunner, proclaiming "armed resistance against the Anglo-Saxon powers" as "the sacred duty of all true Germans". The men dismiss this as nothing more than bravado, until the next day the American HQ in Heidelberg is wiped out in a car-bomb attack.* We watch the SS insurgency grow, hundreds of thousands strong. There are daily bombings and shootings. Eisenhower is assassinated. Much of Bavaria becomes a "no-go" zone for Allied soldiers. Desperate for manpower, the United States stalls its efforts in the Pacific to redeploy tens of thousands of Marines are redeployed to Europe. As the situation grows more dire, new American president Truman comes under fire from domestic critics, lead by Charles Lindbergh and John Dos Passos, blast the Administration for its apparent lack of a plan "to win the peace in Europe". In mid-August, as the president contemplates an attack on the insurgent-held city of Nuremburg, ominous news arrives: a squadron of B-29s has been shot down over Japan, apparently by experimental Japanese jet-fighters flying more than 200 kph faster than their fastest American counterparts. The Allies have no defense against such superweapons; the plan to bomb Japan into submission from the air must be called off. The film climaxes with the American assault on Nuremburg, which retakes the city but fails to capture Kaltenbrunner or most of the insurgents, who melt into the civilian population. It ends on a still darker note: the launch of a fleet of Japanese intercontinental bombers, headed for the West Coast, armed with the biological weapons developed by the secretive Unit 731: bubonic plague, anthrax, cholera, typhoid.

The Great Crusade: Operation Arrow
The film opens in a civil defense facility outside of San Francisco. Japanese bombers are spotted on the radar; scrambled fighters are unable to down any. Curiously, no damage is reported in the city; the Japanese mission appears to have failed. In Germany, an officer with the 394th Regiment Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon (introduced as a minor character in Rising) begins to suspect that the SS insurgency is being aided by communist infiltrators from Soviet-occupied Slovakia and Poland. He attempts to warn his superiors of the plan he believes he's discovered - a Soviet scheme to assassinate a visiting Churchill - but is blocked. The Western powers must maintain good relations with the Soviets, who are fighting in Korea to establish a launching point for Operation: Arrow, the combined English-Russian-American amphibious invasion of Japan. Shortly before our heroes board the Trans-Siberian Railroad, bound for Vladivostok and the Japanese front, they learn the horrible news: massive outbreaks of plague and anthrax on the West Coast, millions dead and dying, with the Japanese claiming responsibility. The movie's final hour covers Operation: Arrow itself, a massive and bloody effort five times larger than D-Day, in which all the major characters from the trilogy are killed.
This is just a rough plot sketch; there'd obviously have to be a lot of fleshing out of the characters and their relationships, or the picture would just be a massive self-important spectacle. But that ain't my gig: I'm just the idea man.

Anyway, I think these movies could be pretty good. They could deal with classic themes (heroism, self-sacrifice), while also speaking to concerns specific to our time: the problems involved in defeating an insurgency, the fear of weapons of mass destruction, the trials of war seemingly without end.

*Yes, I know this is an anachronism. It's my alternate history, dadgumit!

When Good Things Happen to Good People

Debi Faris-Cifelli, a California woman who works to protect abandoned newborns (and who assures a decent burial to those who don't survive), recently won $27 million in the California state lottery.
Faris-Cifelli and her husband are full of ideas of how to spend their new fortune: 140 annual scholarships named after abandoned babies, more efforts to educate the public, and possibly a shelter for pregnant teens.
News to be happy by.

(via the Corner)

Literally the Best News I've Gotten in Months

Hidden money graf from this Times piece, linked to by Family Scholars:
Last week she [Britney Spears] was joined by the Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan, 18, who said in a magazine interview that she wanted to marry very soon. “I want to be a young mom,” she said. “It’s better, healthier and more fun for the baby. My generation can afford it, whether our parents agree or not.”
Hey Lins, you've still got my number, right?

Europe's Moral House: In Order

Apropos of my Groningen Protocol post from Sunday: the EU high court has upheld a German ban on the laser tag game on the grounds that the simulated killing involved is an affront to human dignity:
EU upholds laser tag ban
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- The European Union's top court has backed a German ban on laser tag games in which players simulate killing each other in a maze.

"The affront to human dignity posed by that activity justifies a restriction on the freedom to provide services," the European Court of Justice ruled.

Police in the German city of Bonn in 1994 had prohibited a German company, Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaustellungs-GmbH, from operating a Laserdrome, a game developed and marketed by a British supplier.

German authorities argued that "acts of simulated homicide and the ensuing trivialization of violence" violated the principle of human dignity enshrined in the German constitution.

The owners appealed to Germany's federal administrative court, which sought a ruling from the European court in Luxembourg as to whether the ban contravened the freedom to provide services under EU law.

The court ruled that such bans "are not excluded" in Germany simply because another EU country, in this case Britain, allows the game.
So, for those keeping score at home: laser tag - an affront to human dignity; involuntary euthanasia of infants - peachy keen.

Husband and Wife Assassins?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Hey! Yalies Don't Go to Prison.

Charge against everyone's favorite Vice Presidential box-crasher, Thomas Frampon '06, have been dropped.

PowerLine posts a letter from one of it's readers, who points out that, though this is yet another example of rich whites getting special treatment in the criminal justice system, no one at Yale seems to mind because Frampton is one of the good guys and the victim, Dick Cheney, is one of the archetypical bad guys.

"This is just between you and me, smashed hat"

You wanna know a secret? Though I didn't plan it this way, one of the secret benefits of not having one single birthday party is that I'm now getting a large number of free lunches and dinners. Everybody feels so guilty for having "missed" my birthday (Heaven only knows why, but still) so they're volunteering to take me out now. And since scheduling is virtually impossible, I'm getting multiple meals out of it. Brilliant! Don't tell nobody.

I know this is a very serious subject, but this site,, is pretty funny. Not for kids. (Via Best of the Web)

Have a Holly, Jolly Nicholasmas

Today is the feast of St. Nicholas of Myra (aka Santa Claus). That's right: it ain't Christmas. I was going to celebrate the solemnity by posting an argument in favor of Turkish admission to the European Union, but I'm spent so it'll have to wait for later, if at all. (The usual: relax with a nice dry martini as you wait.) The basic idea is a far less pessimistic version of my rather bleak earlier post.

In the meantime, go celebrate the day by doing something nice for a kid, or a thief. (No, your cable company doesn't count.)

Sweatiest Movie of All Time

This is why I'm glad there's an Internet.

Latino Families Growing Smaller

Further proof that Samuel Huntington's fear of Hispanic non-assimilation were unfounded. They're becoming more "American" (by which I mean more Culture-of-Deathy) every day. Much to my chagrin.

All this time, I'd been hoping it would be the other way, that an increasingly Latin United States would be more fertile ground (pun intended) in which to sow the Culture of Life.

Ahh, well, I guess it's easier to be a solute than a catalyst.

Pop Music and the Dissolution of the Family

Mary Eberstadt, recent author of Home Alone America has a piece in Policy Review: "Eminem is Right", about the origin of the material for much of today's popular music being in the breakdown of the American family. It's some interesting stuff. A couple thoughts:

1) I have nothing but pity for Mrs. Eberstadt for having to listen to Pink, Good Charlotte, Papa Roach, Blink-182, etc etc, as she wrote this piece. She's taken a hit for all of us. Buy this woman a drink if you ever meet her.

2) I'm not sure how much of this isn't a "when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail" problem. A lot of Eminem's music isn't about family - about either his parents or his daughter. It's about anger and hatred - of his parents and ex-wife, yes, but also of women generally (all except his daughter, Hailie), of the government, of white America, of black America, of the music industry, of himself - and it's about his feelings of persecution.

These aren't necessarily disconnected issues. You can argue, for instance, that Eminem's apparently extraordinarily low opinion of women originated with his mother, and was confirmed by his own partner, Kim, who was, in his mind at least, an inadequate wife and mother. But you can equally argue, I think, that Eminem despises women, and sees them as mere objects for his sexual gratification, because he grew up in a culture (that of urban Detroit) that's suffused with those ideas. Eminem isn't the only rapper who hates and disrespects women. He's just among the best-known, because he's among the best, and because he deliberately provokes controversy as a way of selling albums. (This is sort of like my point about Ray Charles and heroin last week.) It's true, I suppose, that many other rappers come from broken homes, but all that means is that we're caught in a causal feedback loop. The culture creates broken homes, broken homes create the culture, on and on, ad infinitum.

To cut off perhaps some angry email, I have nothing but respect for Eminem's technical skills. He has, I think, a better grasp of the sounds of the English language than any musician working today, better indeed than most professional writers. And I think some of his songs are extraordinarily good. But most of the time he puts his talents to horrific use. That said, I think the odds are better than 50/50 he'll be poet laureate of the United States at some point before I die.

Quasi-Humans: People Too?

I'm no bioethicist, but my gut tells me that this plan is just as ghoulish, albeit in a different way, from simply killing the embryos and harvesting their cells. The proposal calls for cloning a human cell, then mutating it so it develops not into an embryo but into an unorganized mass of tissue, which won't be "a human" (wink, wink) and can thus be harvested. Are we really so far down the rabbit-hole that this is considered as a superior moral option?

You Know What's Bad?

Having to clean up after home-made fried chicken. Plus the "Simpsons" episode wasn't very good. And: having a dream about making your bed. I mean, seriously, how lame is that?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

You Know What's Good?

Homemade fried chicken and a new episode of "the Simpsons".

It's berra, berra good.


Give him a toss. WARNING: May result in coal-filled stockings. My personal best was 348.3. Can you beat the Southern Appeal record 350.4?

Update: Got a 350.4!

"The Maginot Line for Running Backs"

Steve Young just called age 30 that. I think I know what he meant, but that's a pretty confused, if nonetheless cool, metaphor.

Very Mature, Guys

People from all political walks of life, united in their inability to play like grown-ups. Here's a charming right-wing counterpart to the "United States of Canada" / "Jesusland" map.

European Union Hypocrisy

Here's what I don't get: In 2002, Turkey, which wants to join the European Union, did away with capital punishment, since the EU makes the abolition of the death penalty virtually a condition of membership. In 2000, Austria's ruling People's Party formed a coalition government with the Freedom Party, whose leader, Jörg Haider, had made public statements supportive of certain Nazi policies (and was also anti-EU). The EU member states decided this was beyond the pale, and instituted diplomatic sanctions against Austria until the Freedom Party was excluded from cabinet government.

But now, when the Netherlands is set to authorize the involuntary euthanasia of children up to the age of 12, (and the Belgians too, if you read the original Grand Forks Herald article), the Europeans seem to have suddenly discovered the virtue of federalism. The Church has come out against it, and in America conservative bloggers and anti-euthanasia groups are up in arms. But secular Europe seems to be relatively mum. If you google "groningen protocol" "european union" outrage, you only get a handful of sites, none of which are about how the European Union is outraged over the Groningen Protocol.

The message: If your country believes it's morally licit to execute murderers (or terrorists, or genocidal maniacs) after their guilt has been proved at trial, you're unworthy to be called European. If anyone in your governing coalition has ever had anything good to say about any policy of the German government circa 1933-1945, you're unworthy to be called European. But if you believe that boards of doctors should be able to kill young children, without or even against the will of the parents, because they're sick or disabled: well, buddy, that's your business; we're not going to judge. It almost makes one eager for the coming of Eurabia, which, for all its faults, probably won't be committing infanticide.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Strange Sights, Volume 1

For my birthday lunch today, I treated myself to a Big Mac. And may I say, it was delicious. Whilst enjoying it, I noticed a squirrel outside, dragging something around in its mouth. I'm not certain, but I think it was a ketchup packet.

Christmas/Political Humor

Mark Steyn has a column in National Review, on Democratic use of religious language, a part of which is reproduced over at NRO. I like this joke at the end:
Christmas, according to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1999, is when those in that particular faith tradition celebrate "the birth of a homeless child." Or, as Al Gore put it in 1997, "Two thousand years ago, a homeless woman gave birth to a homeless child." For Pete's sake, they weren't homeless — they couldn't get a hotel room. They had to sleep in the stable only because Dad had to schlep halfway across the country to pay his taxes in the town of his birth, which sounds like the kind of cockamamie bureaucratic nightmare only a blue state could cook up. Except that in Massachusetts, it's no doubt illegal to rent out your stable without applying for a Livestock Shelter Change of Use Permit plus a Temporary Maternity Ward for Non-Insured Transients License, so Mary would have been giving birth under a bridge on I-95.
Emphasis added. Maybe it's not your cup of tea, but it's my blog and my birthday, so Nyah-nyah.

Marvel Caught in Classic Pot/Kettle Dilemma

Death points to this article on Marvel Comics suit against the operators of the online game "City of Heroes", which the comics giant alleges violates its trademarks by allowing players to design characters who look like Marvel superheroes - Wolverine, the Hulk, etc.

Now, I agree with both the author and Lady Death (Speaking of which, isn't Lady Death a Marvel Comics character? Indeed she is. Bring on the lawyers!) that the lawsuit is silly on the legal merits. But what bothers me more is the blatant, icy-cold hypocrisy of Marvel Comics suing someone else for creating derivative characters. The whole comics industry is built on derivative characters, whether they're borrowed from other comic books or pop culture or literature. Should the producers of "Shaft" have sued over Luke Cage? Should DC have sued over either the Fantastic Four or the Avengers, both of which were blatant attempts to rip off the Justice League of America? Or over the "Flashback" series, which was a knock-off of the "Year One" series? And how different, really, are the New Mutants (first issue, 1983) from the New Teen Titans (first issue, 1980)? And how did Professor Tolkien (who, after all, was still alive in 1969) feel about Dr. Karl Lykos' alter-ego?

This is like when Disney, which made its fortunes strip-mining works in the public domain for all they're worth, lobbies to extend its own copyrights into infinity. Not just bad law and bad public policy, but deeply unseemly.

And Yet, There It Is.

24 seems so old.

In lieu of flowers, send bourbon.

Hall of Fame Voting

Via Fog of Warre, I find an article on the Baseball Hall of Fame voting. Among the newly eligible ex-players? Otis Nixon. Who knew Nixon had retired? I was sure his mummified remains were still bumming around somewhere in the minors, or one of the independent leagues. I always saw him as a more skeletal version of Rickey Henderson, with a similarly inablity to retire. But no, it appears he retired in 1999.

For whom would I vote? Boggs, "Goose" Gossage, and Sandberg.

But I don't have the vote, now do I?

Yankee-Blogging, the Return

Assorted Hot Stove League and other thoughts:

1) I think the trades the Yankees made yesterday will help the team, even if they don't subsequently hire a left-handed relief pitcher. Trading a malcontent backup centerfielder and a head case lefty for a washed-up righty and a decent righty seems like an upgrade to me. Now, if only Steve Karsay can stay healthy....

2) When the Yankees void Jason Giambi's contract for his steroid use, it will have nothing to do with moral opprobrium over banned substances and everything to do with the fact that he's hurt and can't play anymore. If Giambi were still mashing balls like he did in his 2001 MVP season (or like Bonds is still doing) there's no way the Yankees would even consider cutting him loose.

Virtual Bubble Wrap

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Really Big Salads

I just ate an enormous salad. Nothing fancy, just an huge bowl of lettuce and field greens with red wine vinagrette dressing. This is either going to be very good, or very bad, for my digestion. Check back later.

That Explains It!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Post from the Twilight Zone

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except for February, which is the freak month.
All that was once true. But now, when - through the magic of monkeying with the Blogger time-stamp - I have made of November a thirty-first day. COWER IN FEAR! before my awesome time-altering abilities!


UPDATE: Dang, it didn't work. Looks like you can't fool Blogger into thinking there's a November 31st after all. Yet again, defeated (and outsmarted) by a machine. Well, at least they can't dance. What's that?

Public Housing in the Ownership Society

I'll assume for the sake of argument that "the Ownership Society" is an actual concept and not a market-tested euphemism for "we're going to privatize Social Security". Would not a reform of our public housing policy, by scrapping project-based housing altogether and using the money saved to dramatically ramp-up Section 8 vouchers, be a logical part of such a program?

It seems to me such a move would share several features with other "Ownership Society" initiatives like personal Social Security accounts and Health Savings Accounts. Administratively, it would shift the locus of government assistance from a bureaucracy to at least some degree of individual control. Intellectually, it would involve the overthrow of a since-discredited mid-century idea about sociology or economics (here that the problem with low-income housing was that it was insufficiently rationally planned). Politically, it delivers benefits to a traditionally Democratic demographic (here, the poor) in an effort to woo them, while also affording at least a psychic benefit to core GOP voters in sub- and exurbia (the demolition of those great sources of terror and lowered property values, the projects). And, for those who fell you can never overestimate the mendacity of the Bush Administration, it would be relatively easy and cost-free for the Bushies to covertly massively underfund the program.

Outside of whether it "fits" in the "Ownership Society" concept, such a move would be a good idea. The goal of our low-income housing policy ought to be to, as nearly as possible, turn low-income individuals into normal renters or homeowners. Vouchers to help them live in normal rental units as normal tenants achieves this quite a bit more effectively than placing them in state-run housing units which they can't leave without losing their subsidy, where everyone else is on government assistance, and which quickly devolve into poorly maintained havens for criminal activity.

How 'bout it, Secretary Jackson?