Mansfield Fox

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

Thursday, September 30, 2004

How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?

- Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol

What a Lousy Roster the DC Expos Have

Look at this thing. What a disaster.

The team has 2 elite-ish level players (Livan Hernandez and Jose Vidro). It has a handful of good-to-OK players, which I'll define as players who could start on playoff teams (Tony Armas, Chad Cordero, Tomo Okha, Tony Batista, Nick Johnson, and Brad Wilkerson). There are also a few young kids who might be good.

But, on the whole, this team stinks. They were lucky to win 65 games this year, and they'll be lucky to win 65 next year. Their big hope, I guess, is that their young prospects pan out and the move to D.C. generates enough revenue (and/or attracts an ownership group that's not quite so penurious) that they can actually afford to keep their developing stars. But even in that (best-case) scenario, D.C. is at least 2-3 years from being a .500 team.

I can't help but wonder if D.C. wouldn't have been better off if MLB had just contracted the Expos and opened up an expansion franchise in the capitol.

A Dime's Worth of Difference?

Is there a meaningful difference between this GOP-GOTV ad and this Cameron Diaz GOTV quote?

Which hyperbolic threat is more likely to come to pass, the banning of the Bible or the legalization of rape?

Shake, Rattle & Roll (A Seismic Love Story)

Mansfield Fox, here for all your non-Californian earthquake needs.

If you're tired of watching paint dry, you can always click over to the Mount St. Helens webcam and wait for that bad mama to blow. (via Instapundit)

In local earthquake news, there was a minor tremor under my Property classroom this morning. (In no way reported to the construction at the Beinecke Library next door. Definitely not earth moving equipment clumsily bumping around. No sir.) And yet, it goes unreported by the United States Geological Survey. Well, I'm not going to let those bureaucrats in Washington tell me whether or not I was in an earthquake! I was in an earthquake!

Weirdly, just before the quake, a telephone, located in a locked closet just behind my seat, rang. Was someone trying to warn us of the impending quake? Are the quakes the result of some kind of doomsday weapon, perhaps part of a plot to get their drill bit back? Well, it's not gonna happen.


A Mammoth Day for Sport

Poker games all over the place. I get in at 1:30am from my Law School game, only to discover my roommate has set up a Divinity School game in my kitchen. Tournament Texas Hold'em is more dominant right now than the Macarena in its era. (And probably as obnoxious to those not involved, I must admit.)

In the world of pro sports, the Yanks took two from the Twins, and the BoSox lost in Tampa Bay, bringing the Yanks' magic number to win the East to one. Any Sox loss or Yankees victory in the next week will bring the AL East title back to the South Bronx, where it belongs.

And: Mariano Rivera saved both games today, bringing his season total to 53. The all-time single-season saves total is Bobby Thigpen's 57 (notched in 1990). With four games left, Mo has an outside shot to tie the record, though once the division is clinched Torre will probably want to rest him. That said, he's already alone in second place in AL history, and two more saves will tie him with Eric Gagne 2003 and John Smoltz 2002 for second in Major League history.

And: Houston, of all teams, leads the NL wildcard. That team was left for dead at after the All-Star break. What a season, what a season.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Thoughts on Mays' Catch

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of Willie Mays' famous catch in game one of the 1954 World Series. The anniversary is producing a great amount of nostalgia and list-making (that great modern pastime): SportsCenter just did a list of top ten World Series catches. (Guess which was #1.)

My only thought on the subject is: I can't believe it was fifty years ago. I know I'm showing my youth, but that's so long. Think of the fact that Willie Mays' greatest career accomplishment took place half a century ago. I think it speaks to the quiet tragedy of the lives of professional athletes - their careers are so defined by their athleticism, by their bodies, that they necessarily end when they're, objectively speaking, quite young. Most pro athletes, even good ones, are retirees when they're in their 30s. Roger Clemens is ancient by baseball standards. He's 42! And while 30-50 years of (quite lavish) retirement might seem nice to you (it does to me) it's an awfully long time to spend looking back on your increasingly distant glory days. And I'm sure that our constant habit of celebrating the 50th anniversary of this or that, and of thinking of these men only in terms of our nostalgia for the halcyon days of Sports-Past, can't aid that.

Willie Mays is 75. When I'm that age, how will I feel if all people want to talk about is something I did just after I graduated from Yale Law?

It Hoits da Groin

6'5" Tony Clark just did a full-on split to field an errant toss from Alex Rodriguez, ending the top of the eighth. If Clark were slightly shorter, or had a slightly less flexible groin, the Twinkies would have had bases loaded with two outs. For want of a nail...

Scratch That.

No longer tied. A two-run triple by Alex Rodriguez. Yanks 5, Twins 3.

You know, you can't spell "2004 World Series Champion Yankees" without "Yankees". Think about it.


And the game is tied!
Suck it, Boston. Suck... it.

(Sorry for the profanity.)

More on the Courts

Substantially-more-famous-than-I blogger Will Baude links to my post yesterday on giving the appointment power for federal judges to the Supreme Court. He asks an interesting question: if my plan were adopted and there were a constitutional challenge to it, would anyone in the courts be able to hear the challenge?
Query: Would the federal judiciary be able-- under the doctrines of recusal and non-justiciability-- to even hear a challenge to the constitutionality of such a statute? I learned today from an article by Judith Resnik (61 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1877) that the judiciary has heard questions about the constitutionality of statutes about its own pay (see e.g., Evans v. Gore 235 U.S. 245, ), but there may be limits to the "necessity" doctrine.
My answer, of course, is I don't know. It is an interesting problem, one that'll doubtless occupy law school exam-writers for generations to come.

And then: If you think having federal judges appointed by the Supreme Court is weird, I've got an idea that'll really bake your noodle. I think we should expand the number of Supreme Court justices to twelve.

More justices means each individual justice counts for less. This will reduce the rancor over any given nomination (since the stakes will be lower). It will also reduce the ability of any given president to radically alter the shape of the high court.

An even number of justices introduces the possibility of ties in the Supreme Court. This is widely thought of as a bad thing. I disagree. Ties will only occur in controversial issues on which the Court is, by definition, closely divided. In the event of a tie, the lower court decisions will stand as last decided, but without precedental value for other courts. Why is that a worse outcome than the artificial closure of a uniform national policy brought about by a 5-4 Court decision? There are lots of issues in the law that are bitterly disputed - racial preferences in education and contracting, sovereign immunity for the states, the meaning of the takings clause, "under God", gay marriage, the breadth of the commerce clause, etc, etc, etc. Why is it better to have a national policy by one vote on a controversial constitutional issue than to have a divided Court leave the issue to the circuits to fashion different solutions, to put those solutions to a real world test, and to have the Court re-hear the issue later (with different litigants) when a genuine consensus has developed? Why not judicial federalism?

The major problem is that if the plan were ever instituted, whoever was president at the time would have an enormous ability to shape the federal judiciary, since he'd be able to name a quarter of the new Supreme Court in one fell swoop (cf, FDR's Court-packing plan). This problem is impossible to do away with entirely, but it could probably be moderated by an understanding that no one under 65 should be named to any of the new seats, which would limit at least the duration of their power to wreak constitutional damage.

I smell an S.A.W. ...

Congratulations D.C.!

After decades of being played for fools by Major League teams trying to bilk their home cities out of more cash, the nation's capitol is finally getting a baseball team. The Montreal Expos moving south. Will the take up the seemingly cursed moniker "Senators"? Or will they stick with the certainly cursed "Expos"? Only time will tell.

Autumn, At Last

It finally smells like autumn here in New Haven. I credit yesterday's torrential rains. But whatever the cause, it's a welcome development.

Happy Michaelmas, All!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A Partial Solution for the Federal Courts?

In my Administrative Law class today, we were discussing the appointment and removal of federal officers. Professor Mashaw proposed an interesting idea: that the Supreme Court, rather than the President and the Senate, should appoint lower federal judges.

Whether or not this is constitutional depends on whether federal judges are "Officers of the United States" or "inferior Officers". If they are the former, Article II Section 2 Clause 2 requires they be nominated by the President and approved by the Senate. If they're the latter, Congress can authorize various bodies to appoint them: the President acting alone, the heads of various Departments, a court (though, interestingly, not Congress itself).

So are they inferior officers, or officers? We've traditionally treated them as officers, requiring that they be appointed by the President with Senate approval. But I think an argument can be made for their inferiority.* After all, their actions are entirely reviewable by the Supreme Court, and they're bound to abide by the precedent set down by the Supreme Court. It's also not clear that after Morrison v. Olson there are a whole lot of non-inferior officers left. In that case, the Court held constitutional an Independent Counsel appointed by a special panel of judges and removable by same (or by the Attorney General, but by him only for cause). If a prosecutor effectively answerable to no-one is an "inferior officer", one wonders who, outside of cabinet secretaries and senior department officials, isn't.

I'm not saying it's definitely constitutional. Nor am I saying it's definitely a good idea. I can imagine some benefits. It would do away with Congressional gridlock that keeps district and circuit judgeships unfilled; the justices might be more interested in judicial temperament and competence than in ideology (then again...). But I can also imagine some costs. It might become too difficult to get new ideas onto the bench - justices might be inclined to appoint judges who think about the law as they do, creating a judicial echo chamber. On the other hand, it might make it too easy to get novel ideas on the bench. Many of the justices are former academics, who have friends and colleagues in the country's elite law schools, who would presumably form a major source of inputs for judgeships under the new system. Anyone who's spent a little time in the legal academy (even as a student) knows that many of those scholars (both on the right and the left) have ideas about the law that are a little... not ready for prime-time, lets say. There's also the risk that making the justices into the electors of the rest of the judiciary might make the Supreme Court nomination process even more politicized (if that's possible).

But it might be worth considering, especially as part of a larger project of reforming the federal judiciary.

*Man, I hope that choice of phrase doesn't cost me my dream clerkship in a year's time.


Monday, September 27, 2004

At the Nexus of Mudslinging and Cheap Beer

Has anyone else noticed that the guy who does the voice-over for the recent Progress for America anti-Kerry ad is also the guy who does the "Now You're Living...the High Life" ads for Miller High Life?

Schindlers on Larry King Live

Terri Schiavo's parents, Mary and Robert Schindler, are on Larry King right now. They're showing clips of Terry from 2002, who looks much more responsive then I'd imagined. I can't help but imagine that actually seeing footage will help the Schindlers' cause. She doesn't look like she's in a coma, at least not in the way I usually think of it. She looks very alive.

Which, of course, highlights what Michael Schiavo is trying to do: have his wife killed by starving her to death.

Trying to Widen the Gender Gap?

Woops! That's Quite a Retraction

Bishop Dupre won't be prosecuted, because the statute of limitations has run. My apologies to Bishop Dupre for not investigating the original story more thoroughly before I posted. The statute of limitations angle should have been relatively obvious. That said, I still think the bishop's treatment of Fr. Teague was pretty lousy.

Irony for Our Post-Ironic Age

A leading critic of the British National Health Service was killed when a doctor accidentally prescribed her a massive overdose of iron.

Irony would be if the doctor had been a private doctor she hired outside the NHS.

This is meta-irony, irony for our post-ironic age: an occurrence that's the mirror opposite of a perfectly ironic event. Something that's too perfectly un-ironic. Dog-bites-man to irony's man-bites-dog. Go with me here people.

Bishop Dupre Indicted for Child Rape

The first US bishop to be so charged. Sadly, probably not the last.

Bishop Dupre was my bishop when I was in college. He had a run-in back in 2002 with the former Catholic chaplain at Amherst, Fr. Bruce Teague. At the time, Fr. Teague was the pastor at St. Brigid's. The problem began when Fr. Richard Lavigne, a Catholic priest who'd been convicted of child molestation back in 1992, showed up at St. Brigid's in 1996. At that time Fr. Lavigne was in the middle of a ten-year probation, and had been forbidden by the diocese from acting as a priest (though apparently had never been defrocked). Fr. Teague, understandably concerned that there was a child molester in the midst of his child-filled parish, wrote to the diocesan leadership asking that he be ordered to leave. When he got no reply, he went to the Amherst town police and got a trespass order, such that Fr. Lavigne was threatened with arrest if he returned.

What did the Diocese of Springfield do when one of its pastors took such dramatic action to protect his flock? Naturally, they fired him. Fr. Teague was made to step down as pastor of St. Brigid's. (Not that all my ire is directed at the Diocese; the Fairest College also let Fr. Teague go at around that time, replacing him as chaplain at around the same time, though he continued to say Mass in the makeshift Catholic chapel, at least while I was there.)

(There are some good Boston Globe pieces on this story here and here.)

This was an incredibly disheartening moment for me, the epitome in my mind of the ethic of unseriousness with which too many bishops treated the molestation crisis. You can argue, maybe, that in the 80s and 90s the bishops didn't know what they were doing when they shuffled suspected molesters around, that they didn't understand the scope and seriousness of the problem. But you'd have to have been blind not to have seen that in 2002. I'm beginning to think that "blind" may be the most charitable explanation of Bishop Dupre's actions, since it turns out that the bishop may have been a molester himself.

Such terrible corruption in the Holy Mother Church. The heart breaks from sadness.

Conan O'Brien to Succeed Jay Leno in 2009

Stigmata and the Location of Christ's Wounds

I was googling "stigmatics" just now (don't ask) and I came across this site on the location of Christ's wounds. Were they through the palms, or through the wrists?

It was a meaningful question for my search, since virtually all stigmatics have wounds in their palms, rather than in their wrists. And yet, we're told, modern medical science has shown that it's impossible to crucify a person by his hands, because the body's too heavy and the nail would simply rip through the flesh. I mean: a French doctor proved it in the early 20th Century using an amputated arm!

This subject is fresh in my mind because a couple nights back I was hanging out with a bunch of divinity students, having some drinks, and the topic of our conversation turned to stigmatics and stigmata. (It did so because my roommate brought up his stigma, an old puncture wound in his hand, self-inflicted while trying to prepare an avocado.) The group was mostly atheist/agnostic, with one Protestant and one Catholic of a decidedly liberal-secularist bent (plus me), so collective understanding from the word-go was that stigmatics were fakes and frauds, good only for mocking or perhaps puzzling over as an example of the queerness of Catholicism. The other Catholic declared that Padre Pio had "masochistic tendencies" (probably true in some sense, though I don't necessarily see the relevance) and then announced that he'd be willing to make himself a stigmatic if you gave him the right tools (he then pantomimed chiseling into his own palm). The Protestant then pointed out that the wounds were not historically located, but rather followed the artistic conventions of the day, the implication being again that they were self-inflicted or, at best, psychosomatic. She added with mock charity that perhaps God just puts the wounds where people are expecting them.

Now, leave aside that that final point actually makes total sense to me. (If you believe, as I do, that they're real) stigmata aren't intended as a history lesson; they're a mark of piety, of solidarity with Christ's suffering. If putting the wounds in an unanticipated place would compromise the larger goal, why wouldn't God put them where you expected them to be? It's the same with apparitions of Christ or the Virgin Mary - they appear as people expect them to look, not as First Century Palestinians, because the latter would distract from the purpose of the apparition.

But I've digressed. The point is that there's apparently now a forensic scientist who's suggesting that the calculations underlying the "you can't do it through the hand" hypothesis were wrong, and that it would in fact be possible to crucify someone by the hands. Apparently the amputated arm that was used was weakened because it had already begun to decompose. There was also a miscalculation regarding how much force would be pulling down on each arm.

This is not to say that Christ was definitely crucified by his hands. It's merely to suggest that we shouldn't be so dismissive of the idea that he might have been, and that we shouldn't dismiss secondary phenomena - palm-stigmatics, 2000 years of Christian art - because they don't accord with what we think modern science tells us.

The whole business strikes me as a classic modern story. We get some "expert" - a scientist, a philosopher, an ethicist, a historian - who tells us that X, which we've always believed, can't be true, and that he'd got experiments/insight/research to prove it. Then, largely without learning enough to understand the empirical basis for rejecting X, we accept the refutation and come to believe not-X. And we sneer at our foolish, parochial ancestors, benighted with ignorance, who actually believed X. Then the basis for rejecting X turns out to be shoddy, or irrelevant, or downright faked, but it's too late: the cultural consensus has shifted to not-X. And people aren't willing to go back, not only because they'd have to change their beliefs but because they'd have to give up something far more precious: their feeling of smug superiority over their ancestors. They'd have to admit that maybe they really don't know much more than the illiterate goat-herders who spawned their line. And so we reject 2000 years of Christian art, much of it produced by people with a great deal more familiarity with the actual practice of crucifixion than you or I, because some French doctor working with a severed arm says he knows better.

As for myself, I do believe in the validity of at least some of the stigmatics (certainly Padre Pio, whose stigmata were among the least weird of his charisms). I believe in all the rest of that freaked-out POD stuff - bilocation, levitation, the power of relics, healing shrines, Marian apparitions - the whole lot of it. (Well, not the whole lot. Some individual examples are clearly bogus. But I believe in the existence of each category, and of real world examples there of.) It's one of the real graces God has given me - no matter how much I've struggled with various aspects of doctrine or practice in my life, I've always been incredibly credulous when it comes to the super-freaky miraculous. Maybe it's my romantic side, or my inner sci-fi/fantasy dweeb. Who knows? Who cares?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to dust the saints' heads.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Them Doughnut Holes is Deee-licious

I was the point-man this week for the coffee and donuts after the 10am Mass at St. Mary's. (Ahh, the multiple-manifold joys of being a Knight.) Everything went well enough. The Dunkin Donuts people were able to give me 100 doughnut holes right away, even though I randomly showed up at 9:20am. (They were already ready for another church group, which hadn't shown up yet. Mwa-ha-ha!) They also gave me a little discount when they found out what the donuts were for, so I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

The big challenges were getting into the basement (solved by tracking down Brother Gerard with the aid of Father Caprio) and figuring out how to make the coffee. Even I'm not a coffee drinker (I get enough caffeine from soda, thanks) I do know how to make it, in the abstract. But the kitchen at St. Mary's has all this industrial-sized machinery that I couldn't figure out how to turn on. I wasted 10 minutes furiously flicking various buttons on and off, like a chimp with a Skinner Box and a real jones for food pellets. I eventually gave up and just made a bunch of individual pots, which took longer but succeeded in actually making coffee. I finished everything up just after Mass started, instructed the coffee maker that it was not permitted to burn the church down, and bolted upstairs. I spent the next 45-odd minutes trying not to get distracted by images of electrical fires and burning priories.

The coffee and donuts event itself went well. Lots of older parishioners, and some college-aged ones. Not much from the middle-aged bracket. Kind of like Foxwoods that way. Met a freshman from Yale College who's interested in joining the Knights, which was cool. I haven't been doing enough to recruit from the University, though in my defense I've only been a member for about two months.

After the donuts I repaired to Anna Liffey's with a bunch of parishioners from Yale Law, there to enjoy a fine traditional Irish brunch. (mmmm.... blood pudding...) We were joined there by to stately Dominicans, Father Juan Diego Brunetta, a judge in the Archdiocesan tribunal who's featured prominently in this recent article* about divorce among orthodox Catholics, and Father Jonathan Kalisch, the new chaplain at Quinnipiac. It was a very pleasant brunch - everyone noshed on the greasy, meaty, carboloaded goodness,** as we kvetched about legal education and they told amusing stories from the clerical life.

There was also some discussion of founding a Catholic group at the Law School, and of what form such a group would take (whether it would be mostly a prayer group, or a forum for discussing Church doctrine and current events, or both; how often it should meet, etc). Nothing was decided, but there seemed to be general agreement that a group of some kind ought to be formed, so I think this is going to happen, at least in some form. I'll update as the situation develops.

After brunch I went and cleaned up the basement, and then went to TK's for some foozball watching. Sat across from a Vikings fan and a Bears fan as they watched their respective teams battle it out in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (future site of the Restored Congress). The Bears fan got progressively more agitated as his team got jobbed, again and again, by awful officiating. Throwing salt at people, threatening to stab the Vikes fan (who used to make a living from his movie-star good looks) with my butter knife. Ahh, but 'twas all in good fun.

By the way, what's the deal with Jacksonville's season? They're 3-0, but have scored a grand total of 35 points. Byron Leftwich has passed for a total of 509 yards. They've won two games in the last ten seconds. Cra-a-azy.

And now I'm at home, watching the shootout at the RCA Dome, blogging and getting ready to do a little reading. A good day, all around.

--- --- ---

* A bit of trivia: the author of that article, Tom Hoopes, did the KofC soup kitchen with me last Sunday. Or, rather, I did it with him. I'm the newbie. Seemed like a very nice guy. Has a cute (and big) family. Maybe you should check out one of his magazines, eh?

** In case you're curious, the Traditional Irish Breakfast at Liffey's consists of fried eggs, bacon, two sausages, blood pudding (both white and black), fried potatoes and three slices of soda bread. It's a delicious way to hasten one's death through a massive coronary.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Che Guevara: World Class Asshole

Our lionization of him does not speak well of us. While I don't endorse the author's not-so-veiled anti-Catholicism, but I do think his central point is important to remember: that Che wasn't the embodiment of freedom and social justice we've made him into, but rather a doctrinaire Marxist-Leninist and a cruel man who was, as much as any man, responsible for the nightmare that is revolutionary Cuba.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

A Good Review for "Shaun of the Dead"

In Slate. This movie must be seen. By me.

How's Your Golf Life?

A Man with Two Knives

There was a large (foot-and-a-half long) drill bit on the desk next to me in Property today. Not clear how it got there. (Repairs perhaps? But no part of the room was visibly being repaired.) It was a source of much pre- and post-class enjoyment. Picking it up, waiving it in the air, whacking each other on the head with it. (Maybe not so much the last one.) Law students, in my experience, love found objects and shiny things. We're not unlike monkeys that way.

This being a class on property law, the discussion turned to whether the bit had been abandoned (meaning I could claim it as the finder) or merely mislaid (in which case I it would revert to the landowner, Yale University, conveniently almost certainly the true owner). Much to my chagrin, we settled on "mislaid", and now I'm sans bit. But I'll always have the memories.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Hard Hat Area

Lots of remodeling going on, mostly in the "links" section. I've added subsections to help manage the burgeoning list, and a bunch of new links to bring my blogroll up-to-date with my reading habits. Two new additions you might want to direct special attention to are Donnybrook and Crescat Sententia. Donnybrook is an individual blog run by Nick Stephanopoulos, a friend and classmate at YLS. Crescat Sententia is a group blog whose chief blogger is Will Baude, a Yale 1L. There's lots of other interesting stuff, so peruse, but don't by any means overlook these two.

Secular Sacraments

There's an article up in Slate on the ways in which secular and "spiritual-but-not-religious" people are crafting ceremonies to mark moments of transition in their lives - marriages, funerals, new births - that have traditionally been observed through religious ceremonies. It's an interesting piece, on a subject I was only dimly aware of, which I recommend highly.

My one beef would be with the "Catholic unity candle" in his description of a wedding of a hybrid Sikh-Catholic service:
For a wedding between a Sikh man and an Irish-Catholic woman, for instance, the ceremony included the lighting of a Catholic unity candle (slightly modified: The couple didn't extinguish their individual candles after lighting the joint flame, as is the tradition) and a Sikh ritual in which everyone is given cooked grain as a sign that the temple feeds and blesses all.
This paragraph creates this misleading impression that the Unity Candle has some place in the "Catholic" "tradition". It doesn't. While it may be true, as this author suggests, that it was Catholics who brought this blight upon the face of the wedding ceremony (although this page suggests a possible alternate origin), the Unity Candle is most certainly not something emerging from the Catholic Tradition, nor is it a regular part of the Catholic rite of marriage today, as this site indicates. The practice is only 20-30 years old, is rumored to have been inspired by a soap opera, and is strongly discouraged from use in Catholic marriages, since it's thought to promote heterodox religious ideas (or somesuch).

Father J.C. Maximillian has a description of his run-in with a couple that just had to have the Unity Candle over at CatholicRagemonkey.

Sometimes I Wish I Has a Digital Camera

There was a man in an inflatable Pillsbury Doughboy costume at the corner of Grove and College today at noon. Alas, no pics.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Scenes from the Dining Hall

The conversation briefly turns to the provision of birth control by the health services departments of various alma maters:

WOMAN ONE: Well, Notre Dame is a Catholic school.
WOMAN TWO: Yeah, but Delaware is a state-run institution.
ANGUS: Now, is Delaware really a state?

Angus later runs into Woman Two in the hallway
WOMAN TWO: I have a question.
ANGUS: I have an answer.
ANGUS: Not necessarily the right one, but an answer.
ANGUS: In case you're wondering, I do consider Delaware a state.

Good Things Come in Blog Packages

A photo montage of John "buggery, buggery, buggery" Derbyshire singing the Chinese Communist hymn "Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China" at a recent National Review get-together.

Scenes from the Yale Law Quad

ANGUS: Charlie, you know an awful lot of barbershop quartet songs.
CHARLIE: Well, I was in Music Man
ANGUS: Ahh, I see.
CHARLIE: I was the mayor.

Scenes from Administrative Law

"There is such a thing as an essential tomato."

Monday, September 20, 2004

Yankees Question

How does a team go from putting up an eight-spot on Pedro one night to getting handcuffed by a kid making his first Major League start? Incidentally, the pitcher in question, Gustavo Chacin, and I were born on the same date, December 4, 1980. It's always interesting (and somewhat distressing) to hear of a perfect contemporary who's accomplished so much (when I've done so little).

"Once More into the Breeches, Dear Friends!"

Ahh, the Simple Pleasures of Life

A small salad, a fried onion, a few mini-corndogs, and some Graham crackers for desert. Truly, a dinner for the sophisticated man of leisure. And, kaloo kalay, the month-long project to repave my driveway ended this afternoon. Why they ever started, I don't know, or why they took two-odd weeks off, but they're done! And there was much rejoicing!

So Sad, So Sad

Corrections I Never Thought I'd Have to Make is not the website of PowerGen's Italian subsidiary. Powergen Italia is its own company. (again, via the Corner)

UPDATE: Correction itself corrected to fix grammatical error.

Oh, Man: This is Funny, the website of British corporation PowerGen's Italian subsidiary. (link via the Corner)

I have a dirty mind.

Surviving the Hypo & Telling the Tale

An interesting post on the role of hypotheticals in legal education at the Legal Theory blog. (link via the Volokh Conspiracy) This one may be of interest only to lawyers, lawyers-to-be, and would-be lawyers-to-be, but check it out maybe you will.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Last Post Taken Down

I thought better of it.

Indeed, Pedro Doesn't Like the Cold

Viking Kittens

I can't believe I've been blogging for almost a year and I haven't linked to this classic: "Immigrant Song" as performed by kittens.

His Name is Robert Paulson.

In death, a member of Project: Mayhem has a name.

I'm an Outward Inspirational Seeker

What's your AQ? (Or: who cares?)

Hail to the Sheff

Gary Sheffield just pounded a monster two-run homerun off of Pedro Martinez, over the left field wall, just out of the reach of Manny "the Baseball Savant" Ramirez (aka "Manny Ortez"). Apparently Pedro, who's from the Dominican, doesn't like to pitch in cold weather. Well baby, it's cold outside. The Yankees are getting solid contact. This could be a good afternoon.

It's Fricken' Freezing up Here, Mr. Bigglesworth

It's still technically summer, and already it feels like late autumn. says it's currently 58 degrees. People are wearing coats. Coats, I tells ya! It's been like this ever since it stopped raining yesterday. No Indian Summer for us, I guess.

Don't get me wrong, I like cold weather. (If your body were this much an unshapely mass, you'd like layering weather, too.) It's just, sudden, is all.

Let me put it this way: when I, Earth's sweatiest man, can sit through an entire hour-plus Mass at St. Mary's, a.k.a. the world's hottest indoor structure, without a drop of perspiration, you know it's cold. And yes, I know that explanation was unnecessarily gross. But I had a point to make, dangit! It's really cold!

I'm going to put on a sweater now.

An International Anti-Poverty Tax?

Jacques Chirac wants an international tax in order to raise $50 billion to fight global poverty.
a tax could be imposed on greenhouse gas emissions as well as certain financial transactions, arms sales or multinational corporations.

Other proposed approaches raise the possibility of taxes levied on ships transiting key maritime straits, airline tickets, credit card purchases as well as an international lottery.
Over at NRO's The Corner, John J. Miller is not a fan.

In the abstract, I think some kind of global anti-poverty tax is a good idea. The poverty of the Third World is abysmal, the wealth of the First World (especially the United States) phenomenal. We have the means to help, and we should.

On the other hand, I can't shake the feeling that very little of the funds raised by such a tax would actually go to fight global poverty, and that much (perhaps most?) would go to enriching the UN mandarins and viceroys tapped to run the program. I know I should be more charitable, but after the Oil for Food Scandal and the Kosovo prostitution rings, I have a hard time trusting any of these UNniks, whether higher-ups or groundlings.

Department of Strange Dreams Dept., Part II

I just dreamt that I was on the beach, listening to a string quartet of Dominican friars play as I discussed how to build a replica in sand of a building at Harvard that supposedly looks exactly like St. Mary's. (Such building is, I can only assume, entirely a figment of my dreaming mind.) Their music was very beautiful. Unfortunately, my alarm went off in the middle of the first movement. Ahh, well...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Wot I'm Reading

"Unmasking Oscar Wilde" by Joseph Pearce

It's a biography that tries to place Wilde in the context not of the English literary mainstream of his day, but in the Oxford Movement inspired by Cardinal Newman and in the French Catholic-revival of the period. I'm not sure if it works, but it's an interesting idea. I'll get back to you.

Incidentally, the author, Joseph Pearce, is pretty interesting in his own right.

I've Consulted the Consultants

They've recommended a retooling. I've decided to make This Old Blog less political. Like everything in this fallen world of ours, the Fox has become not-quite-what-was-intended, which I aims to fix, starting now.

The way I see it, a blog is supposed to be a mirror for the interior, a guided tour of the cerebrum, complete with public restrooms, little brochures and a gift shop (or something like that). The Fox has increasingly become anything but that. Of late, I've only been blogging about THE BIG ISSUES OF THE DAY, whether religious or political (or religious-political), when in truth I continue to consider such things secondary in importance to the little issues of my day. It's like the story of the Holy Rug of the Visitation, in which the Archangel Michael informs Mark Shea of God's great plan for him: he must go and set the table for dinner. The ordinary stuff of everyday existence, that's what really counts; that's where men are damned or saved, where invisible treasures are built up or lost, where real happiness (and real sadness) can be grasped at. It's not that the BIG ISSUES aren't important, it's that they're secondary. I don't think this is navel-gazing; I think this is keeping life in perspective. And, at any rate, it's how I really feel, and my blog should reflect that.

I'm not entirely sure how things got so off-the-rails. Partially, it's been the result of laziness on my own part. I was eager to get into blogging. It seemed fun. You can meet new people. If you're lucky, you can get quasi-famous like Professor Reynolds, the Oxblog guys and Matt Yglesias have done. The problem was that I didn't have my own unique voice, and I was too lazy/in-a-hurry to be bothered to develop one, so I just hobbled something together in imitatio various bloggers whose work I enjoyed - Jonah Goldberg of NRO Online, Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, later Old Oligarch and Mark Shea. (Please don't sue, guys, by the way. Sincerest form of flattery and all that.) The problem was that the voice wasn't mine, so it had a hard time talking about things that were personal to me, about my day, about how I was feeling. What it could talk about were public issues, since my inspirations were all (sort of) public intellectuals who had to have, and write about, opinions on the big public issues. So that's what I wrote about, and let everything else I had to say languish. Which made for a blog that gave a distorted impression of what I'm really thinking about. Which was a shame.

The other major reason, I suppose, was my foolish ambition. When I got into this nonsense, part of me hoped I'd strike gold and become a quasi-famous blogger. Not one of the big dogs like Instapundit or Andrew Sullivan, who are read by hundreds of thousands of people a day (my vanity and stupidity aren't that great), but a known-and-notable blogger, the kind of guy who gets linked to on Instapundit when he has something interesting to say. So I tailored my blog to what I thought people would want to read. I figured people I didn't know - the kind of people I wanted to read my blog if I wanted to hit it big(ish) - would be interested in my thoughts on politics (and later religion, as that became a more important part of my life) in a way that they wouldn't be interested in my never-ending battle with my landlords who won't do the repairs we request but insist on doing needless repairs no one wants, even though in truth the latter is a much more important subject to me at the moment. I see the obvious folly in this now. The great bloggers are great because their blogs are honest, are reflections of who they are, and people are drawn to that. Take Eve Tushnet, who is to my mind the best of all the bloggers. She can write about obscure comic books that I've never read, will never read and don't care about, and yet I'm still enrapt by it because it's clear that you're really seeing Eve Tushnet and what she thinks about and what she thinks about what she thinks about. There's an awful vulnerability to blogging; it really is like opening your diary to the world, if you do it right. But if you don't, as too often I haven't, then you're just a hack and a poser, as too often I've been.

I'm not saying there won't be any more poli-blogging, or religio-blogging. There will be. But it'll be balanced out with other things, the personal and the aesthetic, so that Mansfield Fox will present a more accurate picture of who Angus Dwyer is. I'm also not saying that I don't think about or believe in the things I've posted here in the past eleven-odd months. I do. They're just not all I think about, and not all I believe. If you've been reading the Fox, especially lately, you might think I'm some dour Republican-operative/religious-warrior who thinks about nothing but terrorism, abortion, gay marriage and sacrilegious reception of the Eucharist. And I'm not. I mean, I am. I mean: I am a Republican, and I am religious, and I do think about those subjects, and think they're important. But that's far - far - from all what I yam. (Quoth Ronald Reagan: "where's the rest of me?!?") I still love the "three B's": beer, babies and baseball (not necessarily in that order). I still smile when I see the baby in the little yellow rain-cap in the closing credits to TLC's "A Baby Story". I still want to build an unusual dream-house someday, though it's changed from a full-scale treehouse (complete with monkey-butler) to a solar-powered, sod-insulated, human-sized Hobbit hole (a much more adult and serious dream-house, I'd say). I'm still on the lookout for The Right Woman, someone with whom I can take leisurely Saturday-afternoon naps, sing folk music off key, and sire a bustling brood of pale, myopic wee'uns. And I'm still pretty confident that no such woman exists. (sigh.) My favorite lunch is still tuna on wheat toast with french fries and a coke. I still love to swim in the ocean, even in the frigid waters off southern Rhode Island. I still love absurdist humor and lame puns, and remain oddly fascinated by the "knock-knock / who's there? / banana..." joke. Couldn't tell you why. I'm still caught in the awful tension between loving to smile and being embarrassed by my stubby yellowish teeth, though at this point I usually just say "fuck it" and smile. I'm still just me, and that me's going to blog a little from here on out.

When I started this thing, I wanted to blog on subjects like why I like rainy days, why all Caucasian babies look like either Churchill or Eisenhower, and why you can only see lions in Kenya. I got away from that, for which I'm sorry. Let's give it another try.

Speaking of rain, it's pouring outside.

Nice Hustle, Kenny

Lofton is quickly becoming my least favorite Yankee.

Friday, September 17, 2004

"Proportionate Reasons": Not That Complicated

Archbishop Myers in the Wall Street Journal.

All this "proportionate reasons" stuff increasingly strikes me as a no-brainer. What it means, at least in this election, is: you can't vote for John Kerry. It doesn't matter how much Bush bothers you, how much you dislike his tax policies, how much you want nationalized health care, how much you oppose the war in Iraq (or the war in Afghanistan). You can't vote for Kerry. You don't have to vote for Bush. You can vote for a third-party candidate. You can write someone in. You can abstain. But you can't vote for Kerry. John Kerry is an enthusiastic supporter of a grave evil. (Several, actually, but let's just stick with abortion for now.) If elected, he would work to expand and entrench that evil in the fabric of our national life. Catholics have an obligation to resist such an expansion of the Culture of Death or, failing that, at least not to assist it. Unless there are serious and real (dare I say proportionate?) reasons for doing so. Which there aren't in this case. The difference between Bush and Kerry on the other issues just isn't that stark. Whatever your reasons for wanting to pick Kerry over Bush, they just aren't proportionate enough. (Sorry.)

I've no doubt this seems like an awfully extreme answer. You're thinking, Surely there's more wiggle room in "proportionate reasons" than that. The Church can't be saying that we have to put all these other important issues - war and peace, poverty, health care - aside and vote only on "life issues". It's a complicated world; there are lots of issues to weigh. Another four years of Bush would be a disaster for the country. Abortion is important, but it can't be a deal-breaker when there's so much else at stake.

I'm sorry, I just don't think so. Let me put it this way: imagine, for a second, that you really believed what the Church teaches about human life. Not just recognized as true intellectual propositions, but really believed down to the core of your being. That from the moment of conception, an embryo or fetus is every bit as human as you or I. That deliberately killing such people is a type of murder, an awful and sad crime for all involved. Now remember that there are over 1.3 million such murders every year in the United States, all entirely legal and protected by the Constitution. And there's a candidate for the presidency who's pledged to only appoint justices who will preserve the constitutional protection of this right to kill. What are disputes over medical savings accounts or nationalized health insurance, in light of this? What is the income tax rate for the wealthiest Americans, in light of this? Indeed, what is Iraq policy, in light of this?

Let me put it a different way. Suppose the Supreme Court announced tomorrow a constitutional right to honor killings, perhaps on free exercise grounds. Husbands, fathers, brothers, could now stone their female relatives to death if they believed them to have brought dishonor to the family through adultery, premarital sex, whichever. Suppose further that this gruesome practice becomes so popular that over a million women are stoned to death every year. There are two political parties in this America: one dedicated to overturning the "right to honor killings", the other determined to defend that right. My question is: how bad would the former's positions on the other issues have to be before you voted for the latter? Would wanting to drill in ANWAR be enough? How about a really lousy tax plan? A healthcare plan that would triple everyone's medical bills? How about leading us into a war on shoddy intelligence? What would it take to get you to vote for the pro-stoning candidate? What's your price?

Mark Steyn on Polygamy

Hear, Hear!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The EU as the "New Roman Empire"?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Syrians Tested Chemicals Weapons in Darfur

In June, the AP reports Die Welt reports. But where, I wonder, could they have gotten such WMDs? Surely not from some kind of neighboring regime, widely suspected two years ago to possess such weaponry, which had almost six months to ship them across its porous northwestern border while the United Nations debated. But then, from whom?

Umbert the Unborn

Just checking: it's possible to be pro-life and still find this a little weird, right?

Monday, September 13, 2004

What's Happened to Al Gore?

This picture's been going around the internet; I've stolen it from Southern Appeal. I'm honestly not posting it to make fun of the former vice president. We all have days when we don't look so great. We all have pictures we look stupid in. Most of us are just fortunate enough not to do so in the national spotlight.

I post it for this reason: Is it me, or does Gore look more and more each day like Darryl Hammond's impression of him on Saturday Night Live?

Real Al Gore

Not Real Al Gore

The Myth of Multilateralism

Voting & "Proportionate Reasons"

There's been a great deal of discussion of late of voting, of how one must have "proportionate reasons" for voting for a candidate who supports abortion rights in order to avoid remote material cooperation with evil, and of what those "proportionate reasons" might be. I have a more basic question: when we vote for or against a candidate, what are we voting on? Are we voting on the basis of the past, on the candidate's record, or on the future, on how we think the candidate will act once in office (using the past as a guide, obviously)? If I vote to eject Bush from office, will it be in punishment for the things he's done in the past four years, or out of fear for what he might do in the next four?

This is relevant, I think, with regard to whether the War in Iraq constitutes a "proportionate reason" for voting against Bush. Liberal Catholic blogger JCecil3, who believes the war was not a just war, makes the argument that it is.

(This isn't that much of a concern for me, since I think the Iraq War was a just war, for reasons that I've come to realize are highly idiosyncratic - my perspective is that there was one Iraqi-American War, lasting from the 1990 invasion of Kuwait to the 2003 fall of Baghdad, in which the active ground fighting was interrupted by a lengthy ceasefire which was broken by the Iraqi refusal to abide by its terms, and that that 13-year war was just, on the American side, since it was precipitated by the unjust Iraqi invasion of an American ally, Kuwait. That's not a common view, but I think it's the right one.)

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was an unjust war. Is this reason to vote against Bush? If voting is a mechanism for punishing or rewarding past actions, then surely. Bush committed a grave moral wrong, he must be punished, that punishment takes the form of removal from office.

But if voting is a prospective matter, in which voters make decisions based on anticipated future actions, this seems to me a trickier problem. Perhaps one can say that Bush's record of launching unjust wars suggests he may wage another one in a second term. I'm not sure about this empirically (given our problems in Iraq, I can't imagine the Bushies are eager to take on Syria or Iran any time soon) but if a person genuinely believed it I suppose it could be a reason to vote against Bush prospectively.

Or perhaps the unjustness of the Iraq invasion makes the subsequent US occupation unjust as well (I don't know about this either way - does Just War theory include some kind of you-break-it-you-buy-it idea, where even unjust invaders are required to restore order to the countries they invade?). Since Bush intends to continue the unjust occupation, should he be voted out for that reason? Except: John Kerry, for whom the non-Bush voter would presumably vote, also intends to continue the occupation. A vote for Kerry would thus be just as much a vote for the unjust occupation as a vote for Bush. What then, Nader?

My thoughts on this subject are largely inchoate; my point is just to suggest that it matters whether one is voting retrospectively or prospectively. I'm not sure which we're supposed to be doing. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Two Thoughts on the Seemingly Fake Memos

1)The anti-Bush forces (CBS News & the lefty blogosphere) are now exerting a huge amount of energy desperately trying to prove the genuineness of memos that, even if they are real, won't do any meaningful damage to the president. I mean: even if Bush were a lousy Air National Guardsman (and frankly I wouldn't be shocked if he were, even though I think these documents are forgeries, and crappy ones to boot): who cares? (Does this position, when combined with my position on the SwiftVets story, make me a hypocrite? I actually don't think so. Ask me why!)

2) The power of the righty blogosphere is downright spooky. Over the span of a couple of months, a small number of geeky right-wingers, acting largely on their own, have reversed the direction of the presidential race. They kept alive the SwiftVets story - which has seriously hurt Kerry, even as the public claims not to believe it - when the mainstream media wanted to bury and ignore it. And now they take a story that might have been very damaging to the president and, within 24 hours, they reveal that it's likely a fake and completely disarm the story. I just hope these guys never come after me.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Russia Joins the War on Terror (At Last)

Over at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, they're worried about the Russian announcement that she's prepared to launch "preemptive" strikes on terrorist bases worldwide (note my neat inversion of Agence France-Presse's scare quotes) and seem to think it a result of our preemptive war against Iraq. I'm not and I don't.

The Russians aren't claiming the right to attack a nation-state that hasn't attacked them on the theory that it's a long term threat. They're claiming the right to go after international terrorists wherever they reside. They claim this right after having been hit by international terrorists (the makeup of the villains of Beslan is strong evidence that the Russians are no longer just facing a local Chechen problem). In this regard, they are following the example of the United States, but they're doing as we did after September 11th, not in the lead-up to the Iraq War. They've finally taken to heart what I took to be the central lesson of 9/11: that you can't fight terrorism by going after only the specific people involved in plotting and executing the attack against your country, but that the entire network of support, logistics and operations has to be taken down. The Russians have, at last, joined the War on Terrorism.

It's just a shame it took the massacre of hundreds of schoolchildren to get them to do it.

I don't think the Russians had to wait to be attacked, any more than our allies the British had to wait to be attacked to join us in rooting out international terrorism after September 11th. Terrorists are the 21st Century equivalent of pirates - the enemies of the civilized world (broadly defined so as to include the United States), which every civilized nation has not only the right but the obligation to hunt down and destroy.

So I'm glad the Russians have finally decided to join us in this war. I'm not naive: I know from their ten-year war in Chechnya that the Russian military can be brutal and ham-handed. I pray that they're not so going forward, and that, if they are it doesn't set back our efforts too far. But this is a desperate struggle, with enormous stakes. I'll take any allies we can get.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic"

"The Life Aquatic", the fourth film from genius auteur Wes Anderson, is coming soon. This ones about a sketchy Jacques Cousteau wannabe (Bill Murray) who leads his crew on a (decidedly non-scientific) quest to kill the shark who ate his friend. Am I excited? Oh yes.

State v. Mills Goes to Trial

It's a pretty grisly triple murder case out of Guilford. The first witness, the neighbor who called 911, testified yesterday.

I have a more than passing interest in this case. As part of my internship with the State's Attorney's office this summer, I got to sit in on a conference of some of the forensic scientists working on the case. That afternoon, I got to see crime scene and autopsy photos from the case. There's something especially sickening about the image of a young child who's been stabbed to death. Two months later, I'm still disturbed by it.

Like many murder cases, Mills is ultimately all about the death penalty. The facts of the case are mostly undisputed, and Mills would reportedly have been willing to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. The whole defense strategy, like that of Lee Boyd Malvo, is to effectively admit guilt while laying the groundwork to persuade the jury to be merciful in the trial's second, post-conviction round, when it will decide between life imprisonment and death.

The facts, which as I've said are basically undisputed, are as follows (for don't-sue-me purposes, please mentally insert the word "allegedly" in front of every verb):

Two days after Christmas in 2000, Jonathan Mills, who was staying with his aunt, Katherine Kleinkauf, snuck into her bedroom hoping to steal money to buy drugs. He was armed with two knives. Kleinkauf was asleep at the time; two of her children, Rachael Crum, 6, and Kyle Redway, 4, were in bed with her. As Mills was rummaging through her purse, Kleinkauf woke up and confronted him. Mills attacked her with his knives, stabbing her a total of 45 times. During the struggle, the children woke up; Mills stabbed each of them six times. Mills then took Kleinkauf's ATM card and used cash he got from it to purchase crack cocaine.

The case qualifies as a capital murder under Connecticut law because it involved both the "murder of two or more persons at the same time or in the course of the same transaction" (Conn. General Statutes, 53a-54b(7)) and the "murder of a person under sixteen years of age" (Conn. General Statutes, 53a-54b(8)).

In order to actually get a sentence of death, however, the prosecution will have to show, in a post conviction sentencing hearing, that at least one statutorily defined aggravating factor exists, and that the sum of the aggravating factors outweighs any mitigating factors that may exist.

The aggravating factors, as listed in Conn. General Statutes 53a-46a(i)
(1) The defendant committed the offense during the commission or attempted commission of, or during the immediate flight from the commission or attempted commission of, a felony and the defendant had previously been convicted of the same felony; or (2) the defendant committed the offense after having been convicted of two or more state offenses or two or more federal offenses or of one or more state offenses and one or more federal offenses for each of which the penalty of more than one year imprisonment may be imposed, which offenses were committed on different occasions and which involved the infliction of serious bodily injury upon another person; or (3) the defendant committed the offense and in such commission knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person in addition to the victim of the offense; or (4) the defendant committed the offense in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner; or (5) the defendant procured the commission of the offense by payment, or promise of payment, of anything of pecuniary value; or (6) the defendant committed the offense as consideration for the receipt, or in expectation of the receipt, of anything of pecuniary value; or (7) the defendant committed the offense with an assault weapon, as defined in section 53-202a; or (8) the defendant committed the offense set forth in subdivision (1) of section 53a-54b to avoid arrest for a criminal act or prevent detection of a criminal act or to hamper or prevent the victim from carrying out any act within the scope of the victim's official duties or to retaliate against the victim for the performance of the victim's official duties.
The mitigating factors, as defined by Conn. General Statutes 53a-46a(h):
(1)the defendant was under the age of eighteen years, or (2) the defendant was a person with mental retardation, as defined in section 1-1g, or (3) the defendant's mental capacity was significantly impaired or the defendant's ability to conform the defendant's conduct to the requirements of the law was significantly impaired but not so impaired in either case as to constitute a defense to prosecution, or (4) the defendant was criminally liable under sections 53a-8, 53a-9 and 53a-10 for the defense, which was committed by another, but the defendant's participation in such offense was relatively minor, although not so minor as to constitute a defense to prosecution, or (5) the defendant could not reasonably have foreseen that the defendant's conduct in the course of commission of the offense of which the defendant was convicted would cause, or would create a grave risk of causing, death to another person.
OK, take a minute to catch your breath.

As I understand it, the prosecution plans to hang its hat principally on 53a-46a(i)(4), commission of the crime in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner, while the defense will rely principally on 53a-46a(h)(3), impaired mental capacity.

Are these crimes "especially heinous, cruel or depraved"? Maybe. Connecticut caselaw is pretty thin on this point. One case, State v. Johnson (2000) holds a crime doesn't rise to the level of "especially heinous, cruel or depraved" unless "the defendant in fact caused the victim extreme pain and torture above and beyond that necessary to cause his death". (751 A.2d 298, at 345). That's a pretty high standard, and, disturbing as they are, it's not clear to me that these murders rise to meet it. On the other hand, the victim in Johnson, though he was shot multiple times, passed out and later died from his wounds relatively quickly (between 5 and 90 seconds). In State v. Webb the state supreme court allowed a "heinous, cruel or depraved" capital sentence to stand in which the defendant kidnapped the victim, attempted to sexually assault her, shot her twice in the back, and then delivered the fatal shot as she was attempting to crawl away. Subjective awareness that one is being killed (or at least seriously assaulted) and length and degree of suffering seem to be the crucial factors. The children seem to have been indisputably awake at the time they were killed. Will this case ultimately come down to how long the children survived their wounds?

The second issue, the defendant's partial intoxication defense, is an easier matter. Either the jury will believe the defendant's story that he was too drunk and high to understand what he was doing and conform his conduct to the requirements of the law, or they won't. I'm not an especially good mind-reader or trial outcome-predictor (as my own trial record indicates) so I won't attempt to divine how they're going to come out.

That's it for today. I'll blog again (with shorter entries I promise) as future developments arise.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

et Lux Perpetua Luceat eis

Your prayers would be appreciated, if you can spare them, for the soul of Rip Hudner, a friend of mine from grade school and high school, who was killed in a car crash yesterday. He had many troubles in this life; may he come at last to rest where troubles cease.

2L Year, Day One

My Evidence professor, Mirjan "The Croatian Sensation" Damaska, spent the last five minutes of class attacking postmodernism, specifically its claim that "truth" is just a social construction.

I like this guy already.

Moore to Pursue Best Picture Oscar

Help! I'm Trapped in a Fortune Cookie Factory!

OK, the threat is less perilous than that. But I am about to become a 2L, which is downright scary.

Tomorrow. 10:10 am. YLS room 120. Evidence. Be there. Be square.

What a Sensible Law!

In North Carolina, convicted rapists now have their parental rights terminated with regard to children resulting from their rapes.

(Of course, the law wouldn't've actually helped the woman in question, since her rapist still hadn't been convicted at the time he refused to give over his parental rights, but that's probably a problem that's unavoidable without completely ditching the presumption of innocence in rape cases.)

When we've finally built that Culture of Life I keep hearing about we'll look back and realize that most of the heavy lifting was done in small, simple steps like this rather than in a few sweeping high court rulings. Actually, we probably won't, humans being what we are, but it'll be true nonetheless.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I Miss My Beard

The Royal Tennenbaums is on the FX network right now. There are many wonderful things about this movie, but my own personal favorite is all the great facial hair. Rather than comment at length, I'm just going to put up photos, which I've gratuitously t'ieved from the Rushmore Academy.

the sweet 'stache of Royal Tennenbaum

Henry Sherman & his dignified goatee

Richie Tennenbaum, pre-suicide attempt

Raliegh St. Clair
(this is how I want to look at 50)

&, of course, Pagoda

How deep does my beard obsession run? For me, the saddest part of Richie's suicide attempt is that he shaves off his beard. Yes, I realize that this isn't healthy.

"Triumphalism and Overconfidence"

This couldn't be, at least in part, a subtle dig at me, could it? :-D

"Triumphalism and overconfidence"? Here at Mansfield Fox, that's our specialty!

Wait, Wasn't He "Hitler's Pope"?

The 1941 The New Republic reported on the Catholic response to the German euthanasia campaign. Not surprisingly, the Pope came out against euthanasia and ordered that his decree be read in churches all over Germany. And then:
The reply of the Nazis was drastic and immediate. More than three hundred Catholic priests were imprisoned in concentration camps, and the publication of the decree in the churches of Germany was forbidden.
I'm confused: wasn't the Catholic Church complicit in the crimes of Nazism?

I Can't Believe I'm Blogging This

One of the real joys of blogging is how it allows you to indulge even the most obscure of your fascinations and obsessions. With that in mind, I'm going to take up again the discussion of "What was the being on the planet of the center of the galaxy in 'Star Trek V'?" Publius over at Res Publica et Cetera (as of now on the blogroll) writes to suggest that the creature might have been a Cytherian, a being of the sort that the Enterprise-D encountered in the Star Trek: TNG episode "The Nth Degree".

Personally, I'm still inclined to believe Gene Roddenberry's explanation that "Star Trek V" is apocryphal, and that the alien at the center of the galaxy therefore didn't really exist, and therefore wasn't, in a sense, any kind of alien. But if the faux-God of Shaka-Ri actually did exist, insofar as anything on Star Trek can "actually exist", I certainly wouldn't be surprised if it were a Cytherian, or some kind of quasi-Cytherian. Or something.

A Cytherian

Man, I am such a dork. Over and out.

It's All Over

Last December, when it looked as if Howard Dean would win the Democratic nomination going away and the Kerry campaign seemed as if it were destined for the ash-heap, I confidently predicted that Bush would win reelection by a comfortable margin (3-5 percent), though probably not in a landslide. My thinking was that the former Vermont governor was (or at least seemed) too left wing and dovish, and the Bush Administration too politically adept, for the Democrat to win, even with a weak economy and a difficult situation in Iraq (which, I'll be honest, I thought would be better by now).

Even as Dean imploded and the people of Iowa inexplicably decided that John Kerry was the most electable Democrat, I remained basically firm in my prediction. I'd obviously underestimated John Kerry before the primaries, but I figured that, like Dean, Kerry couldn't keep pace with Bush in the long run. He was too stiff, too aristocratic, too personally unlikeable. His policy positions were too confused; his record was full of opportunistic flip-flops, and when he did seem to be acting principle he showed himself to be, even more than Dean, a doctrinaire left-wing dove. I knew that he was tied with Bush, or a little ahead, but, like many, I attributed that to months of positive press for Kerry during a confusingly positive Democratic primary season, and I assumed it would fade as the press, and the Bush Administration, turned their attention to Kerry, his record, and his positions.

When that didn't happen, I will admit I began to get nervous. Iraq continued to fester. The economy grew, but at a tepid rate. The race remained effectively a statistical tie, but with Kerry starting to take a small-but-meaningful lead in the swing states. I wanted to panic, but I decided to stick with my original prediction, against my instincts. Too many times I'd seen the Bush Administration look dead in the water, look like it's opponents had all the momentum, only to turn things around at the last minute and come out on top. (see Congressional authorization of the Iraq war, see the UN resolution on Iraq, see creating the Department of Homeland Security) I figured Rove & Co. had enough of the old Bush magic left to win, and that I'd feel pretty silly in November for panicking in July.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I'm glad I didn't panic back in July because it's only the first week of September and, let's be honest, this race is all over. Barring some major Bush screw-up, the President is going to be reelected. Not in a landslide as recent polls have suggested, but by the comfortable three to five point margin I predicted back in December (which of course translates to a sizeable Electoral College victory).

In the interests of bringing you tomorrow's postmortem today!, here's my abbreviated "Why Kerry Lost" explanation, Laphamized: John Kerry lost because he's an arrogant asshole, entirely unlikeable, who accomplished virtually nothing in his twenty years in the Senate and who thought he could capture the presidency based on his opponent's unpopularity and his own status as a decorated Viet Nam veteran, never thinking that he would be harmed by a dovish voting record or by the fact that many of those who served with him in Southeast Asia passionately despise him and don't think him any kind of hero.

OK, that's not that abbreviated. But with John "Nuance" Kerry, nothing is ever simple.

Speaking of "Star Trek"

They're showing the apocryphal "Star Trek V" on AMC right now. You know, the one where Spock's brother Sybok hijacks the Enterprise and takes it to the center of the galaxy where Kirk beats God. Yep. I thought the Roddenberry people had forbidden it to be shown on TV. Apparently I was wrong.

UPDATE: What the heck is that thing on the planet at the center of the galaxy? It's clearly not God. (Spock: "Sybok, this is not the God of Shaka-Ri, or any other God.") Is it supposed to be Satan? ("For an eternity I've been imprisoned here...") This post seems to suggest that in the original drafts of the script the being was explicitly identified with Satan, but that the brass at Paramount nixed that. Of course, it's not clear why Satan, any more than God, would a) need a starship and b) be vulnerable to Klingon disruptors. I suppose this kind of stuff is why Roddenberry subsequently declared the movie apocryphal.

Human, All Too Human

You're a Human! Inquisitive and mellow, you're an explorer at heart.
What Star Trek Race Are You? brought to you by Quizilla

(via Catholic Ragemonkey)

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Great Moments in Projection

Did I just hear Kerry say that "they [i.e., the Republicans] are the ones who want this election to be about what did or did not happen 35 years ago"?

Surely I missed the point of the Democratic convention, then.

I Was Unfair to Schwarzenegger

It seems he did make clear that the Soviet troops he saw as a child were not in his hometown but on trips to the Soviet Sector. (Scroll down.) I didn't see but a bit of the GOP Convention live, and almost none of Ahnuld's, even on tape. My apologies to the Governator. I should have checked my facts more carefully before blogging. (Story of my life, ehh.)

Gluttony's Still a Sin, Iddn't It?

Now at Red Lobster:
For a limited time, you'll get 1/2 pound of our sweet Snow Crab FREE with the purchase of one pound of Snow Crab. Get yours today.
Who are these people who eat a pound-and-a-half of crab in one sitting?

I Hope They Remembered Their Keys

Friday, September 03, 2004

Biography Buffing from the Quasi-Right

Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. At first I thought this was one of those "eh, no big deal" things. But now I'm not so sure. Like John Kerry, Ahnuld has crafted a political identity largely out of his biography. Whereas Kerry's career has been built on his time in Cambodia Viet Nam, Schwarzenegger's has been built on his childhood experience of socialism and his rise from penniless immigrant to international superstar through the blessings of the free market. And, like Kerry's, it turns out Ahnuld's story may be at least somewhat exaggerated. Specifically, it's unlikely that Schwarzenegger, who grew up in the British Sector of occupied Austria, personally saw Soviet tanks and soldiers as a child, as he claimed at the GOP convention.

Servant of the Servants of God, Ora Pro Nobis

Today is the feast day of Gregory the Great, doctor of the Church and father of Gregorian Chant.

Take the Simpsons Religion Test

Yet More on the Cheney Box Burglar

I've mentioned that Thomas Frampton is a Yalie. But have I mentioned his lineage? For some reason unknown to me, the media reports on this case seem uninterested in the fact that his father, George Frampton Jr, is a) a partner at the law firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, that represented Al Gore during the Florida recount, and b) a former Assistant Secretary of the Interior during the Clinton Administration. Not that these connections mean anything, but they're interesting to note, n'est pas? At least as much as the "web of connections" linking the SwiftVets to shadowy Texas Republicans. Or maybe not.

By the way, in the interests of full disclosure, I am also the son of a BSF partner. Just so's you know. Because, while a Republican, I'm neither shadowy or Texan.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

A Balanced Attack on the Running Back

More on the Cheney Assaulter, boola-boola

Wizbang asks if Frampton will face suspension or dismissal from Yale for his actions. Wha? The man probably just earned himself an F-ing citation from the university. First of all, no one, and I mean no one gets thrown out of elite colleges and universities in this country. Just doesn't happen. Not if you're a heroin dealer, not if you're a rapist, nobody. Sure, if you're a poor woman who can't stay afloat academically because you have to work full time to make tuition then you're screwed. But a rich attorney's son? And second, it's not as if threatening Dick "Haliburton" Cheney will earn you any enemies in the Ivy League. (via OxBlog)

Vulpine Sense of Irony, Indeed

RNC, Day 3

I'll admit, I missed the entire night's programming. (I had guests over for dinner, and then we went out to the graduate students' bar, GPSCY.) From perusing the usual blogs, I sense that:

(a) the lovely-but-unloveable Dick Cheney gave a decent speech, which included the following passage:
People tell me that Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks, his sex appeal, and his great hair. I say to them — how do you think I got the job?
To which I say: HEY! that cuts a little too close to those of us on the downwards curve of hirsuteness.

(b) Zell Miller challenged Chris Matthews to a duel. And they say chivalry is dead.

Almost makes me wish I were paying attention.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Putting the Undecideds in a Headlock

"The WWE is nonpartisan. I am not."

Pro wrestler John Bradshaw Layfield just endorsed Bush at the convention. Why does he love Bush: No Child Left Behind. I kid you not.

OK, so he was introducing Education Secretary Rod Paige, and probably had to say education, as opposed to Bush's kickass sleeper hold. Still, the image of a professional wrestler talking about the importance of education is perfect. Whoever's running this convention has a Vulpine sense of irony, and I love it!

George Prescott Bush, who followed Paige, is pretty lousy, however. Just made a lame joke about how his uncle is working so that in 50 years you won't be more likely to see a UFO than a Social Security check. It's morning of day 3, and we already have a winner for biggest non-sequitur of the convention. I suppose the Bush mojo hasn't passed on to the fourth generation. Or maybe it's just the lingering effects of that Anglican wedding.