Mansfield Fox

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

Sunday, February 29, 2004

BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART XIII) Ok, the fix is in. Best original song for "Into the West"? What about "Kiss at the End of the Rainbow"? I've already trashed Annie Lennox's work on this blog. I can't fathom how that piece of crap wins an award, except atop the greatest tsunami of critical praise yadda-yadda-yadda... OK, I'm tired of blogging for the night. Return of the King is going to win all the relevant awards. (Maybe not adapted screenplay.) Here's hoping for Bill Murray. C'mon Bill! And to you all, good-night.
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART XII) Rings wins best editing. As I asked when Titanic won this award: if the editor was so damn good, couldn't he have cut the thing down from four hours?
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART X) Finally, a technical award goes to a non-Hobbit related movie. Sound editing to Master and Commander. Of course, LOTR wasn't nominated in that category. Also, a question: what's the distinction between "best sound" and "best sound editing"? Shouldn't the former include the latter?
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART VIII) Rings is four-for-four. What I find shocking is that Monster wasn't nominated in the makeup category. Theron's whole performance was just wearing the damn makeup.
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART VII) Jennifer Garner hosted the scientific and technical awards show? Buh? Did she at least wear a lab coat and a sexy li'l pair of specs? looks not.
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART VI) Rings at three. Visual effects, a no-brainer.
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART V) The musical numbers aren't my thing, so I've switched to AMC, which is showing Patton, instead. What a flick that is. Your nerves? The Hell, you're just a God-damn coward! SLAP! Anyway, it looks as if the Oscar people have ditched the extravagant production numbers, which is good. And they seem to have put them all at once, presumably so people like me can flip away to watch George C. Scott pimp-slap some poor shell-shocked private. But now Patton is in commercial, so I've flipped back to the Oscars. Just in time to catch Annie Lennox, singing the truly awful "Into the West". I loved Return of the King, but that song - ugh. What was the theory there? Anyway, Patton's back, so I must go.
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART IV) Whither Shohreh? Ah, well, it just isn't Iran's night. I hadn't realized that Renee Zelwegger had been nominated three years in a row. Jeez, I guess the voters finally got the hint.

Also, why did they play "Hail to the Chief" when Tom Hanks came out? Did he win an election or something?
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART III) Lord of the Rings count now stands at two: art direction and costume design. Mmmmm....we smellses a romp, we does....
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART II) Lord of the Rings count now stands at one.
BLOGGING ZE OSCARS (PART I) That was a nice, classy acceptance speech by Tim Robbins. Hopefully it augurs a good rest of the show. Seriously though, Susan, why don't you make an honest man of him?
GREAT PIECE ON ST. RALPH at the New Republic. The thesis: Ralph Nader is not a noble consumer advocate who incomprehensibly developed, at the end of his career, into a monomaniacal, paranoid fanatic who dismisses all who disagree with him as corporate stooges and traitors to liberalism. Rather, he has always been a monomaniacal, paranoid fanatic who dismisses all who disagree with him as corporate stooges and traitors to liberalism, even from his first days as the author of Unsafe at Any Speed. My favorite part of the article is a quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

"He used to warn me that the phones at the Labor Department might be tapped. I'd say, 'Fine! They'll learn that the unemployment rate for March is 5.3 percent, that's what they'll learn.'"

(The article may require registration. But really, shouldn't you have subscribed to TNR by now?)
GOLF NEEDS A SEVENTH CONTINENT After Mass, I decided to take the afternoon off and went to hike East Rock. After I was sufficiently tired and muddy, I decided to have a late lunch at Archie Moore's. As my burger arrived, the final round of Accenture Match Play started up on the TV. The opening credits contained the line "golfers from six continents, speaking twenty languages..." That got me thinking. Given that there are seven continents, why should we be so impressed that you managed to attract golfers from six of them? If I were friendly on the first six days of the week, but spent my Saturdays repeatedly elbowing you in the groin, would you consider that good enough? I didn't think so. So why are your standards so much lower for intercontinental representation in match-play golf? Sure, the seventh continent is a frozen wasteland. It wouldn't be easy, but is anything worthwhile ever easy? Here's my suggestion: have Phil Mickelson establish a permanent address in Queen Maud Land. First off, he can market himself as the greatest living Antarctic golfer, which should be a huge boost to his sagging ego. Second, he could build a course down there, and maybe someday convince the PGA to let him host the Championship. Then, when all the other golfers had died of hypothermia or been eaten by penguins, Lefty could emerge, the last man standing, and finally claim his major. Everybody wins! (except all the golfers who freeze to death: it's fair to say they loose.)
DEERFIELD MASSACRE AT 300 The Corner reminds me that today is the 300th anniversary of the Deerfield Massacre. What better day to buy a copy of Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney's Captors and Captives, the most in-depth study of the raid and its aftermath. And a damn fine read too. (Full disclosure: I checked footnotes for this baby when I was Professor Sweeney's advisee at Amherst. But it affected my judgment as to the book's quality not-at-all. I swear!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

BOOYAH! Anglican cannon to become Catholic, disses his ex-church. Welcome to the club, buddy. I'll buy the next round. (But not today; it's a fast day.)

Monday, February 23, 2004

WHEN I WAS AT AMHERST I never asked to get back my MASSPIRG money. It's not that I didn't know what the money was going for, or that I supported what MASSPIRG was up to. I was just too lazy, and it was a relatively small amount of money, so I never got around to it. I can't know for certain, but I always imagined that many of my fellow Jeffs "donated" for similar "reasons". That's why I always laugh a little when Nader decries the apathy of young people: apathy is a major source of revenue for his business!

Full disclosure: I voted for Nader in 2000, since Bush/Gore seemed like a wash and Nader was the only "major" candidate who opposed the death penalty. Man, I'm not making that mistake again!
LOOKS LIKE WE'VE GOT THAT TERRORISM THING LICKED John Kerry has vowed to name a "salmon czar" if elected. The czar will report directly to the president and vice president on issues relating to that delicious fish (no word yet on whether there will be separate undersecretaries for bagels and cream cheese). I'm sure that this is just election-year pandering to the good people of Idaho, and that the salmon czar would get less than five minutes of President Kerry's time in the first term. And it's not likely that I would have shifted to the Kerry camp if he'd said "No, I won't name a salmon czar. The president has more important things to worry about than the status of delicious-if-suicidal river fish. Remember al Qaeda?" But I'm still a little disturbed by the idea that Kerry would even pander in this way. Unless those fish have converted to militant Islam and strapped C4 to their bodies in preparation for spawning, I don't think they're worth a minute of the president's damn time. (link via Best of the Web.)

You are Rule 8, the most laid back of all the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. While your
forefather in the Federal Rules may have been a
stickler for details and particularity, you
have clearly rebelled by being pleasant and
easy-going. Rule 8 only requires that a
plaintiff provide a short and plain statement
of a claim on which a court can grant relief.
While there is much to be lauded in your
approach, your good nature sometimes gets you
in trouble, and you often have to rely on your
good friend, Rule 56, to bail you out.

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, February 21, 2004

MORE CHEAP KERRY BASHING! An interesting discovery via the Social Security Administration's baby names site: tracking the popularity of the name Kerry through the decades. In the 1930s, Kerry, a name just recently imported from Australia (see here for all things "Kerry") was the 905th most popular boy's name, and was unranked as a girls name. By the 40s, it had risen to the 340th-ranked boy's name, and charted for the first time as the 633rd most popular girl's name. In the 50s, Kerry was the 205th most popular boy's name and the 322nd most popular girl's name. In the 60s, Kerry's popularity as a boy's name increased peaked, at 178th, while it's popularity as a girl's name dropped to 477th. In the 70s, these numbers reversed: Kerry shot up to 172nd in popularity as a girl's name, while its popularity as a boy's name plummeted to 309th. The name went into overall decline in the 80s, falling to 305th for girls and 417th for boys, and this decline continued into the 90s, when the names were ranked 657th for boys and 750th for girls.

What lessons can we draw from this? Well, for one: the popularity of Kerry as a boy's name went into free-fall sometime in the 1970s. The name had finally begun to catch on in the United States by the 1960s, peaking at a level of modest popularity. And then, suddenly, it collapsed. Dare I suggest that the Senator's 1971 testimony, which surely made him the country's most famous "Kerry," had some role in the change in the fortunes of this name? Was there something about seeing the long-faced Bostonian testify about American war crimes in the Senate that made the name no longer seem "manly" to the American public? Might that also explain why the name briefly surged in popularity as a girl's name in the decade following his testimony? (Although I'd have to say that I don't think of John Forbes Kerry as especially feminine. Haughty and French-looking, certainly. But not feminine.) Might that also be the reason that the name continued its decline in the 80s and 90s, the period of John Kerry's rise to national prominence as Massachusetts lieutenant governor, and then senator? Is there just something about John Kerry that makes people uncomfortable naming their kid Kerry?

And now the big rhetorical flourish: No single individual has done more to damage the fortunes of the name Kerry in the United States than John Forbes Kerry. That name might have been duking it out with Logan or Taylor by now, maybe even preparing to make a run at single digits. But thanks to the Senator, it spent the 90s sandwiched squarely between perennial all-stars "Axel" and "Loren," trailing "Malachi" and narrowly beating out "Infant".

(In case anyone's curious, my own illustrious name peaked sometime early in the Taft administration, at 582nd. It then went into decline before disappearing off the rankings at the end of the 40s. I think it's just about time for a comeback, don't you?)
LISTENED TO SOME OF JOHN KERRY'S SENATE TESTIMONY TODAY. (And you can too: just click the link and fast-forward through the first bit, which is from the Winter Soldier investigation and doesn't feature Kerry.) I was struck by how much his voice has lost the patrician Boston Brahmin flavor it once had. Listen to him in 1971: the young lieutenant sounds like George Plimpton. That accent's largely gone now. I wonder if that's just a natural voice change brought about by living all this time in non-Brahmin D.C., or whether the Senator had to hire a speech coach to ditch the rare airs.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I'm Togo!

Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

GOOD TO SEE JOHN KERRY COMING AROUND (maybe) on the subject of ANWR drilling. Drilling for oil there isn't the answer to all our energy problems, but it's not nothing, and the environmental movement's "No! Never!" position was always ridiculous. When in God's name did the caribou's right to an untouched arctic wasteland become sacrosanct? Ahh, well. I have to admit, I wish that Kerry's latest flip-flop were motivated by something more noble than a desire to suck up to the Teamsters, but I suppose I'll take what I can get.

Now the real question: if he does make this flip, how will the enviros react?
OH MAN, THIS IS FUNNY The 1000 fighting styles of Donald Rumsfeld (found via Instapundit.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

GOODNESS! as Don Rumsfeld might say. I appear to have entirely missed Sex Week. How do these things happen?
WENT TO SEE DAVID BERNSTEIN, of the Conspiracy fame, at the law school today. He was giving a little lecture on his book, "You Can't Say That!", which is about the threat to civil liberties posed by antidiscrimination statutes. All-in-all, a nice presentation. I thought about asking him his opinions on the recent Conan O'Brien/Canada fracas, but I didn't want to impugn the dignity of those august proceedings with what was essentially a joke question. I was reminded, also, why I don't go to more Federalist Society events: we all dress alike. It's creepy: we're all in checkered flannel shirts and plain pants (jeans or khakis). It's nice that we're all so defiant in our rejection of the metrosexual Yale Law norm, but in the end it just looks like somebody cloned a scrawny lumberjack over and over and then gave all the clones copies of "The Road to Serfdom" to keep them occupied in the waiting room. Maybe it's just that I can't stand not being the worst-dressed man in the room: I have a certain Mr. Blackwell reputation to uphold.

Monday, February 16, 2004

CONTRA COSTAS Foolishly eschewing sleep, I watched some of the Mike Francesa show last night. He had on Bob Costas, hereafter to be known as That Arrogant Jerk Bob Costas, who was laying into The Trade. He was especially unkind to the Players' Association, which blocked a proposed trade of A-Rod to Boston on the grounds that it diminished the value of his contract. He went off about how the Curt Flood case was all about "freedom," but how now that A-Rod wanted the "freedom" to play for a winning team, and was willing to trade a few million for it, and the union had blocked it. He also declared the trade "bad for baseball" and announced that only people with a kind of myopic New Yorker provincialism could look upon this trade as anything other than a catastrophe. (Whereas, of course, a trade of A-Rod to baseball's second-richest team, the Red Sox, would have been an unqualified good.)

Well, call me a myopic New York provincial, but NYA-NYA-NYA...I think the trade was a good thing, for all involved. Maybe not for "baseball," but for all the actual parties actually involved in the trade. The Yankees: they got the best player in baseball. Alex Rodriguez: he gets to play for a contender for the first time in years, and finally gets to be a superstar in a big market, AND he gets to do it all without having to forego one cent of that ridiculous fat contract he signed. The Rangers: they dump huge amounts of salary, and get a superstar player who's more talented than the one they initially tried to trade for (Manny Ramirez) at a quarter the cost. The Players' Association: they got to preserve the principle that players can't negotiate to lower the value of their contracts, which I don't necessarily agree with but which I think is a reasonable position for a sports union trying to protect the negotiating power of its mid-level talent to take.

Did Boston lose? Of course. And you know why? Because they weren't willing to pony up an additional $15 million to land the best player in baseball, just about to hit his prime. (c.f. today's Daily Quickie) They have no-one to blame but themselves. They came up with the idea of trading for A-Rod. They can't blame the Yankees because they got cold feet at the altar. And they certainly can't blame the Yankees for looking at the almost-trade and thinking hey, what a great idea...

Good for baseball? Who cares? Baseball isn't the Yankees' damn charity case. George Steinbrenner didn't write the rules,* he just uses them to win.

*In fact, the most recent set of rules was written, however ineffectively, to constrain George.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

CORRECTIONS It seems that the initial report of The Passion's somewhat unusual distribution pattern were somewhat inaccurate. Catholic League president Bill Donahue is on the case. It seems you will, in fact, still be able to see the movie on Long Island. What a relief. However, those of us in New Haven, the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus, for Heaven's sake, will have to drive a-ways to see the film. What's the matter, Mel? Your movie too good for the York Street Theater?
I JUST SAW AN AD FOR RAINBOW BRITE on the Cartoon Network. Is it possible that the Wayback Machine has taken me all the way back to the mid-1980s? Damn you, Matt Drudge, you've turned me into Billy Fucking Pilgrim!
A LAZY SUNDAY AFTERNOON WATCHING "THE DIRTY DOZEN": that Lee Marvin, so hot right now.
EVEN I HAVE TO ADMIT: THIS IS A BIT UNFAIR My Yankees have traded for Alex Rodriguez. Possible next move: next year, sign Garciapara to play second.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

I SAW THIS SKIT AND IT WAS HILARIOUS....for me to poop on! Seriously, though, the Canadians are proving just how lame they are with this. Trying to censor Triumph, the insult comic dog? You might as well try to tame the wind. You can silence the hand-puppet, but it won't change some basic facts. One: Canadians are more than a little dull. Two: Quebequois sepratism is one of the silliest political movements of the last half-century.

Goodnight. More drama tomorrow.

Friday, February 13, 2004


The real me, Angus Dwyer, has a real friend from high school, Dave Rice, who operates a blog, airdog. I meant to link to it earlier, but inexplicably did not. Well, now I have. It should also be on the links list now. Dave, for what it's worth, is the only white man (and man, is he white!) that I know who can dunk. Why this means you should be interested in his take on basketball, or other worldly matters, I don't know. Look, quit interrogating me, ok? Just click the damn link.
A BRIEF RETURN TO THE SAME SEX MARRIAGE TOPIC Reading OxBlog, I was directed to this article by Yale Law's Lea Brilmayer. Obviously, Professor Brilmayer knows what she's talking about, far more than me, so I'm hesitant to criticize her work. That having been said, here I go.

First off, I've always been and remain skeptical of the claim that there's nothing to worry about with regards to gay marriage and the Full Faith & Credit clause, since the clause has never been construed to require that states give full faith and credit to marriages performed in other states that are contrary to the public policy of their state. States can set marriage rules with regard to consanguinity or minimum age, and can refuse to recognize out-of-state marriages performed contrary to those rules. I understand that this is true with regard to how things have been in the past. I'm just not especially confident that this is how things will remain. I don't want to get into a long monologue now, but my basic point is this: we're not talking about a 15-year-old couple married in Kentucky who'll have to wait two years before their marriage will be recognized in New York.* Everyone, I would think, agrees that there has to some minimum age at which people can marry (no European-royalty-style infant marriages in the U.S., no sir) and, given that states draft the marriage laws in this country, the issue of where to draw the line is left to them. They may come to different conclusions as to what age is appropriate, but no one argues that whatever line they draw is a valid exercise of the state police power. The 15-year-old newlyweds aren't claiming that they have a right to be married, not even under the Kentucky constitution. Same-sex marriage is different: the whole claim is that a regulation that bars them from marrying is an invalid exercise of the police power. They are claiming that they have a right to marry, not just that the arbitrarily drawn marriage statutes of their home state encompass them. I'm not saying that this is necessarily a legally more persuasive argument than the juvenile couple's. But it is, I think, rhetorically and morally more persuasive, and I wouldn't be shocked if it persuaded a court. Think of Brilmayer's own example of how a patchwork system would work: that of interracial marriages. She says this comparison "will surely make opponents of same sex marriage uncomfortable," which is doubtless true. But you know who else might find setting up a patchwork system where certain marriages were recognized in some states and not in others, solely on the grounds of a moral objection to the nature of those marriages, with all the disturbing parallels to interracial marriage before Loving? I dunno, maybe the judges who have to decide the FF&C issue? Is any judge really going to say to himself, you know what? This patchwork system worked so well for interracial marriage, let's do it again. Our reactions to the treatment (or even potential treatment) of Arab- and Muslim-Americans after September 11th was heavily influenced by our reaction to (and our disgust with) what happened in thus country during the Japanese interment. We believed our forebears had acted wrongly, and above all else, I think, we did not want to repeat their mistakes. Will the judges who hear these cases feel any differently about the sins of their judicial ancestors?

My other problem with the article, the one that initially prompted me to post, comes at the end, when she says that the political branches should drop the problem of trying to manage whether and how same sex marriages move through the states through mechanisms like the Defense of Marriage Act. The Supreme Court, I think she's arguing, can provide a "far more nuanced" mechanism for solving this problem, as it did with Nevada's easy divorce laws in the past. As a empirical matter I think she's probably right, but I'm going to protest any way since I see her solution as one more step in the judicialization of the American government. One of the country's biggest latent problems is the willingness of people on all sides to use the courts as a forum of first resort in what are essentially political struggles. Can't get the state to issue you and your same-sex partner a marriage license? Don't start lobby to get the law changed in the legislature: sue! Can't get state funding for your education as a divinity student because the state has a "Blaine" amendment in its constitution? Don't start a movement to repeal the amendment: sue! Upset that your state's public university is using a race-conscious affirmative action program in admissions? Don't try to change the law through referendum or the legislature, or try to get the administration replaced with people who won't use such a system: sue! After all, why should we care what the legislatures have to say? It's not like they're the democratically elected representatives of the people, or anything. Now, I'm not advocating an end to judicial review, or anything like that. I'd just like to see a little judicial arms control. Can we agree to at least try to settle issues in the ordinary political process before we resort to using the courts? Don't do it for me. Do it for John Hart Ely.

You know, every time I try to say a brief word about same-sex marriage, I wind up rambling on forever. Proves me a liar. But, o intrepid reader, if you've made it this far I have a burried-lead present to reward you with. Today I proved those who called me "utterly unemployable" at least a little wrong. I got a job for the summer at the New Haven state's attorney's office, Geographic Area #23 (GO 23! WOOOOOOO! Geographic Area pride!). So if you're a non-violent drug offender or a speeder in the city of New Haven, consider yourself warned: come June 1, your reign of terror is over. There's a new sheriff in town, and he's a Fox.**

*These numbers and states are arbitrary and invented, mostly because I'm too lazy to do a little research. So sue me. **Note: the Fox is not actually going to be a sheriff. He's just an intern. But he's not a damn fox either.
AHHH! I'VE BEEN BUMPED BACK TO 2004! It seems a lame non-story story about the somewhat unusual distribution pattern for Mel Gibson's crucifixion epic The Passion of the Christ has pulled me back to the present. It seems the distributors have decided to open their movie heavily in the Bible Belt and in areas with large Roman Catholic and African-American populations, but to eschew areas "that are considered Jewish, upscale, or liberal." This seems to me a sensible business move. Gibson & Co. have made a movie that they think will appeal to some communities and not to others. So they focus their release in areas where they think they have the largest audience, and avoid areas where they think they won't be able to recoup their investment. Does anyone really think that there was going to be a huge audience on the Upper West Side for a movie that uncritically accepts the Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus, that treats them as truth (rather than, say, a Pauline deception designed to cover the real Existentialist truth, or somesuch)? There's no natural right to have a movie open in your neighborhood (and frankly I find the article's suggestion that it's a huge indignity for people on the Upper West Side to have to trudge down to Times Square a little laughable. If I want to see the movie, I have to drive to damn Orange, or Bridgeport.) Maybe I'm just blind to the sinister anti-Semetic conspiracy here, but this just seems like good business sense to me.

OK, well I'm back in the year 2004. Hopefully I don't get thrust back into the past somehow. And I'd have to say that, looking at my material surroundings, I probably didn't teach my past-self how to make crazy-money in the internet stock bubble. Where's my Mazaratti, damnit?!?

Thursday, February 12, 2004

LIFE IN THE YEAR 1998 It's pretty much as I remembered it. I'm stuck in New England, the weather's awful, I've got too many unread books on my bookshelf, I've got the same set of sheets I'll have in 2004 (green flannel XL twin: those sumbitches will last you a damn lifetime). My internet connection is somewhat faster than I recall it being, but that's about it. Hopefully, I can figure out a way to get back to my own time, but not before I make a little money. company...with sock-puppet for spokesperson....
IF WE REALLY HAVE TIME-TRAVELED BACK TO 1998, then there's a lot I have to do. For one thing, I have to track down my past self and tell him to buy a ton of AOL stock, and then to sell it once it becomes AOL Time Warner Stock. I'll be rich!
SOMEBODY GET SHERMAN! Matt Drudge, going to red alert over a Democratic sex-with-an-intern scandal that he was the first one to break? Fetch Mr. Peabody: we're taking the Wayback Machine all the way to 1998!
WE HAVE A GOOGLEWACK! "Yalie Gangbang". Earlier tonight I'd assumed that "Ersatz Skynyrd" was one. But I was wrong.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

SO A BUNCH OF WOMEN ARE PUTTING UP POSTERS in my Criminal Law classroom advertising for an upcoming speech by Kate Michelman (of NARAL fame) at Yale. A guy, who like me is dawdling around before class starts, strikes up a conversation (reproduced as best I can):

Man: "Oh, is Kate Michelman coming to speak here?"
Woman (cutely sarcastic): "What makes you think that?"
Man: "I dunno, I guess all the signs about 'choice'."
Man: "So what's she speaking about?"

At this point, I start quietly wheeze-laughing, as I am apt to do. What's she speaking about? I dunno, tax policy? Deregulation of the airlines? Suppression of political dissent in Kyrgyzstan?

Woman: "Oh, the right to choose, defending a woman's right to choose, and such."

Whew! Dodged a close one there.
BASTARDS! The State Department bans Courier. I always thought Jansen was the most beautiful font (I even briefly had a dog named Jansen). And Times, of course, is ubiquitous, and deservedly so. But Courier is a classic. It's the font of our ancestors, the font of the typewriter, of the telegraph. Dare I say it? It's the font that defeated the Nazis. And it's a shame to see it go. Good-night, sweet font, and flights of pixels sing thee to thy rest. (Link via Zorak the Embittered Mantis)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

MMMMM....COOKIES....Another affirmative-action bake sale at the University of Colorado. Maybe it's just me, but hasn't the idea of the affirmative-action bake sale "jumped the shark"? At first, the idea was clever and subversive: a way for opponents of affirmative action to make a theoretical point (about the wrongness of treating people differently based only on their race) in a concrete way that everyone could understand. But now, I dunno, the whole thing just seems tired. I suppose if you've never heard of the phenomenon then maybe, as NBC used to say, "it's new to you." But as for me, I feel like I've heard about every damn one of these things since the first one. Maybe the problem is the constant use of bake sales. Couldn't it be an affirmative-action car wash, or an affirmative-action "massage parlor"? (Now that would cause a stir!) And in this Atkins-friendly world we're living in, aren't cookies too heavy on the carbs? What if we have affirmative-action steakhouses instead? And don't some people with eating disorders also favor racial preferences? Why not affirmative-action hard-boiled eggs and celery sales? C'mon people! Creativity!

Monday, February 09, 2004

CRABBY ANGY One of my law school friends is complaining I'm testy because of lack of sleep. So, to get my revenge, I'm blogging this. She says that blogging is lame. I agree with her, but I'm not going to tell her to her face. This entry has no purpose. God, please end this criminal law class soon. Goose...needs...sleep....
MY BOY AT HARVARD LAW My old professor, Hadley Arkes, will be debating same-sex marriage at the other law school tonight. Go, H-diddy! If you're in the Boston area, you should drop in. Just hearing the guy speak is an experience: his voice and style of speaking anything you've ever heard before, I promise you. A side note: if a "debate" between two opponents of same-sex marriage seems a little one-sided to you, know that I'm with you. But it's not their fault: Human Rights Campaign, the pro-SSM side, dropped out in order to focus on lobbying the legislature.
MY BOY'S BOY AT AMHERST Justice Scalia is coming to speak at my alma mater tomorrow. And it's getting protested by the faculty. And the whole thing's been mentioned in the Corner. Well, at least they've just decided not to come. The last time Scalia was at Amherst, there was an incident. It was Commencement Weekend 2002. Scalia's daughter Meg was graduating, so the Justice was going to be on campus anyway, and Professor Arkes asked him to give an informal talk to some of his students. (By which I mean of course his brainwashed Arkes-head acolytes. Full disclosure: I was one of those Arkes-heads, and remain a semi-active member in the informal Arkes-head alumni association). So Scalia gave a little talk in a packed-to-the-gills classroom. I can't remember the subject of the speech exactly, but I recall it being relatively innocuous, a discussion, I think, of his general theory of jurisprudence. Then, about halfway through his talk, something very odd happened. A little man with oily hair who had been sitting in the front row stood up and started to talk. He said: "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I think it's only fair since you interrupted the election" in 2000, or something to that effect. He then proceeded to bait Scalia for a minute or so. Scalia, to his credit, handled the situation with grace and class, and as I recall was actually willing to engage the heckler with questions. Arkes eventually got up and said, in effect: sir, this was not intended as a public debate but as a conversation between the Justice and my students. If you want you can ask questions at the end, if there's time, but my students get first crack. (I will not even attempt to recreate the Professor's unique style of speaking. No mortal man, I think, could do such a thing.) Now, up until that point, I'd just assumed the heckler was some local left-winger with an axe to grind and a free afternoon (of which Amherst has a genuine surplus), and it wasn't until he replied to Professor Arkes' suggestion that he hold his questions until the end that I realized who he was. He said, snidely, "I'm sorry, I have to go. I'm receiving an honorary degree this afternoon." Our heckler was film-maker David O. Russell '81E, who for having directed 3 motion pictures, including the classic Spanking the Monkey, was being given an honorary degree that afternoon. (Scalia, whose lame CV is restricted to having been a law professor, a circuit court judge, and an associate Supreme Court justice, did not receive one.) Russell then stormed out of the room, with an associate of some kind in tow (do Hollywood types ever travel alone? Seriously?) and went off to give his talk (honorary degree recipients are expected to give informal talks about their lives and work). I've no doubt that he felt he'd struck a crushing blow against the forces of evil conservatism, but it looked to the rest of us that he'd just exposed himself as a whiny, arrogant prick. (For the record, I thought Three Kings was pretty cool, but never saw any of his other movies and now, for some reason, no longer feel the desire to.)

Oh, I almost forgot the story's charming post-script (which I only know second hand, but I think it's trustworthy). Russell's talk was in large part about his experience at Amherst, how studying with Robert Thurman (Uma's dad! [hubba-hubba]) had led him to Buddhism and the way of non-violence. One of the students at the talk, who knew (I'm not sure how) what Russell had done during Scalia's talk asked him how he could reconcile his belief in non-violence and non-confrontation with the way he'd treated Scalia. Naturally, Russell had no good answer, and just kind of stumbled about for a bit, trying unsuccessfully to justify himself, until he moved on. What a day, what a day.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

SPEAKING OF THE IRISH Did you know that you can now get Smithwick's ale at Anna Liffey's here in scenic New Haven? I discovered it on Friday night. It was, quite simply, the greatest moment of my life.
You are Irish
You are a Dubliner.
What's your Inner European?
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I'm not even going to try to pretend to be surprised about this.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

HOTNESS Joe Girardi is going to Tampa to try out for the Yankees in spring training this year. Years ago I said I believed that when Giradri retired he'd get a job on the Yanks' coaching staff. When he left the team to go play in Chicago and St. Louis, I began to doubt my predictions. But now that he's come home again? It's like magic. Gih-raaaaaaaah-dee! The old-timey catchers duo is back!
A CUTE PIECE OVER AT SLATE on John Kerry and electability. The basic thesis, as I understand it: Kerry's success owes to the fact that the Democratic base finds him uninspiring! Sure, why the fuck not: nothing else seems to explain it. Anyway, read the whole thing (as they say) and see for yourself.
EVEN USA TODAY IS DUMPING ON USA TODAY Here's USA Today's roundup of political websites. The best part? Here's what they say about the USA Today website:

"* USA TODAY. A lot like the newspaper. Safe, not too edgy, interpretive or analytical."

They should probably add "brutally honest" or maybe "lacking in self-esteem".

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

WABBIT SEASON! DUCK SEASON! Read the factual setup for this article on Supreme Court recusals. OK, done? Now: I dare you not to visualize Scalia and Cheney running around the Louisiana swamp with enormous Elmer Fudd hats on. Eh? You can't, can you? Can you?

Monday, February 02, 2004


John Paul I
You are Pope John Paul I.
You're charming, but you don't always give people a chance to get to know you.
Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
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Well, the Smiling Pope ain't too shabby.
THANK GOD WE'VE FINALLY LICKED INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM Now the government can take care of really important things.

You see the guy kneeling in front of Kerry, the one with the maracas? I know that guy! He's the father of my best friend from when I was a kid. This is the greatest news story in the campaign so far: John Kerry, the devil-may-care bassist. Andy Gagarin, the expat Russian noble / maraca player / accountant. I tell you: there's a hilarious buddy comedy in this somewhere.
LONG DAY My schedule is such that my week is half over after Monday. But that means I have four classes on Mondays, which makes for very long days. I can't feel my feet right now. That's tired.

Sunday, February 01, 2004


GO CATS! Hosting a Super Bowl party this afternoon. Rooting feverishly against the Patriots and their evil necromancer* of a coach Bill Belichick. My keg is cold. My wings are warm. The Panthers' front four is very, very scary. This could turn out to be a sweet night.

*I'm currently operating on the theory that Belichick has made common cause with dark forces and used them to summon and imprison the spirits of Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry, who he's forcing to draw up his game plans. Think about it: he went from being a mediocre coach in Cleveland to some kind of scary unstoppable genius in New England. These things don't just happen! Plus he wears a hood, all the time. And I think I saw the witch of Endor at the 50-yard line in the championship game. I'm telling you, people: he's the Faust of the gridiron.