Mansfield Fox

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Is the Lutheran Archbishop of Helsinki Catholic?

Well, no, not yet. (via the Shrine)

Mmmm... Spiritual Club Sandwich....

Wait, no: this article is depressing, not appetizing.

Re: Christianity in Scotland:
Revival might be on the way, but there are good reasons to doubt it. Those who point to a few lively and growing congregations as signs of a better future miss the point that there will always be growth spots amid decay as the dwindling number of Christians huddle together. What matters are the overall totals; outposts of growth make no dent in the 17,000 people lost to the Kirk last year.

When the Kirk has been declining relative to total population for at least 150 years, it is hard to expect next year to be different.

Also, many surveys tell us that adult conversion is rare; if people are not socialised into a faith in childhood, they are very unlikely to acquire one later. We know a lot about family dynamics. When parents belong to the same church, their children have a one-in-two chance of acquiring the faith. When parents are not the same faith (even if both are churchly), the odds on successful transmission are halved again. And the Christian population in many parts of Scotland is getting close to being too small to reproduce itself. Young Christians can either not marry (and, hence, not produce the next generation) or marry out (and, hence, not produce the next generation).
Takeaway point:
People do not accidentally become religious. Being a Christian is not "natural"; it is an acquired characteristic. Like a language, it must be learned and, if it is not used in the home, in everyday conversation and in public life, it dies out. As the population that speaks a minority tongue shrinks, decline does not slow; it becomes faster. There is no natural obstacle to the death of a language. I do not see why the fate of a religion should be different.
(Via Open Book)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Blogger ISO Mildly Obsessed Reader

Hey: if you're the person from Texas who's got an Aledo Broadband connection and has been Googling me all day, would you mind dropping me an email? (The address is linked to at the bottom of the sidebar.) Nothing serious, I assure you, but you've already become my #1 reader after only about 36 hours, so I was curious to get to know who you are. I promise that your identity will be kept secret from the broader blogging world (unless you're one of the Bush twins, in which case, all bets are off).

Most thanks.

UPDATE: Hah! I'm such a dumbass.


If you know me, you know that, of all my crazy, manic obsessions, one stands out. I'm speaking, of course, about babies. I may project the image of a creaky, cranky, too-old-to-be 24 year-old, but when I have a run in with a wee'un, I start to gush like a 12 year-old girl hopped-up on Mountain Dew and "Babysitters' Club" novelettes. Sometimes I hide it better than others, but on the inside I'm always the same gooey, happy mess.

Anyway, with this in mind I've added a new category to the sidebar: Babies!, in which I'll put up links to sites, blog or otherwise, that display pictures of, well, babies. Currently there are the Johnlet blog, a site featuring embryo adoption babies, and a site about babies born after successful tubal ligation reversals. More will be added as I discover them. Please, feel free to send me such links.

Memorial Day (Observed)

My family was, remarkably, left largely uscarred by war in this bloody, unlamented late century. The result, I suppose of accidents of birth order and mild physical infirmity, mixed in with a bit of good fortune. There was one, however.

2nd Lt. William King White, Jr., Army Air Force, died November 19, 1944, when the Liberator bomber on which he was pilot went down in a snowstorm over the North Atlantic off the coast of Labrador. The plane, which was en route to England, had been unable to land in Greenland as ordered, either because of weather conditions or radio malfunction, and was attempting to return to Goose Bay, Labrador, when it ran out of gasoline. No trace of the plane or crew was ever found. (You can read his Yale class obituary here - scroll down.)

Because he was the sole surviving son, my grandfather, Charles Bradley White, spent the remainder of the war out of harm's way, stationed at a U.S. Army base in Arizona. Thus, he did not fight, nor die, at the Bulge, or in the invasion of Germany. Thus, my mother was able to be. Thus, I am.

Look Familiar?

It probably shouldn't.

Because it's analogous to the American experience, Hindrocket of PowerLine gets why Paris and Lyon would vote "oui", but notes
I don't know enough about French politics, however, to say why Brittany is blue
Or, for that matter, the one department each in Alsace and Savoy that voted for the constitution.

Now, I don't know much about French politics either, but the common thread seems to be ethno-linguistic minorities. Bretons in Brittany, Germans in Alsace, Italians/Savoyyards/Swiss in Savoy: all have the common trait that they're not ethno-linguistically French. Which means a variety of things:

1. They're less emotionally tied to the French nation-state, and thus less anxious about the loss to France of prestige and sovereignty that a more powerful EU would mean.

2. They're more frightened by the doomsday scenarios put forth by pro-constitution forces warning that something like the Holocaust or Yugoslavia would reoccur if the EU broke down, since they're the ones who'd do the dying if that came to pass.

3. They see the EU as a venue in which the power of national majorities can be checked. In France, the Bretons are a minority facing down an overwhelming French majority. But in Europe, they're just one minority among many, with nobody in the majority. This increases their power notably.

The real analog in the American experience to the "oui" voters is thus not to Democrats in 2000/2004, but to (and I'm going to get all Beardian for a second) the creditor classes who supported the ratification of our constitution. In any given state they were an embattled minority, always at risk that the adoption of paper money or debt cancellation would ruin them. But as the scope of the government increased, their vulnerability decreased.

I'm curious if this pattern replicates throughout Europe. Does anyone know if Basques, Catalans, Scots, Welsh, Flemings, etc, are more pro-EU than their respective national majority neighbors? It wouldn't shock me, certainly.

UPDATE: The catch, of course, is that my theory doesn't explain why the French Basques, or the Corsicans, would have voted "non". Yeah, I got no idea on that one.

Giant Monster Battle

Truer words have never been spoken.

Anglicans to Let Gay Priests Marry, Sort Of

Hmmmm.... if you were trying to devise a solution to the gay marriage issue that a) satisfied no one, b) would be totally unworkable, c) would open your institution to charges of mass hypocrisy, and d) would almost certainly fail and be replaced by something else in a couple of years, wouldn't it look something like this?

Still though, A for effort.

(via Marriage Debate)

Fleet Week Thought

Surely this happens: every year during Fleet Week, when New York is crawling with sailors and marines on leave, some group of local cads dresses up in naval attire and hits the bars, hoping thereby to get sex and/or free drinks by posing as sailors. Of course I've no evidence that this actually takes place, but it seems like so obvious and easy to pull off a scam that, human beings being what they are, it simply must happen. At any rate, I think it would make a funny premise for a short story. (Of course, that's doubtless what the producers of Wedding Crashers thought, too.)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

(Depressing) Songs About Marriage

Finally, my incessant pestering of that poor woman pays off: the Fox kinda, sorta gets a shout out from MarriageDebate*dot*com. And, in doing so, I raise the profile of minor Motown great Little Milton, which is certain to raise the spirits of any and all blind-ish former roommates of mine, should they be readers of this blog. (I've no idea whether or not they are, though I imagine this post is a good way to flush them out should they be.) This is obviously the biggest thing to happen to me since I was quoted on the Wall Street Journal's website and all my libertarian friends got mad at me (except Will, who's unfailingly equanimous).

And, having put up the most inside-baseball Mansfield Fox post in months, I bid you good night, Gentle Reader.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Non-poor Whites and the Republican Party

This is an astonishing statistic:
Here's a story about a report that argues that Democrats have lost the votes of the white middle class.
Among the five principal findings are that white middle-income voters supported President Bush by 22 percentage points. The study concluded that the "economic tipping point -- the income level above which white voters were more likely to vote Republican than Democrat -- was $23,700."
The federal poverty guideline for a family of four is currently $19,350, so I don't think of $23,700 as middle class. I'd put it this way: the moment you get out of what might reasonably be defined as poverty, you become likely, if you're white, to vote Republican.
(Internal links omittedited because of my laziness.)

Hat tip to Southern Appeal.

Man, Woman, Sex, Burger

I think the dynamic outlined in this piece is correct (it would not sell burgers to have a half-naked Denzel Washington cavorting seductively with a "Famous Star with Cheese" from Carl's Jr) but the explanation is way off. It has almost nothing to do with the fact that
Women are just much less interested in--and buoyed by--the sight of the opposite sex unclothed than are men.
and everything to do with the willingness of men to let their various appetites bleed together that's played to such brilliant comic effect in the episode of "Seinfeld" in which George starts surreptitiously snacking as he's having sex with his girlfriend.

Men, as a rule, aren't especially picky about how they satisfy their sensual appetites, whereas my sense is that women prefer to keep things more separated. Eating is eating, and sex is sex, and so on. For the man, eating a cheeseburger while having sex is just killing two birds with one stone. (Though of course, we can never get away with it in the real world, which is the moral, such as it is, of the "Seinfeld" episode.) Thus, football games are the ultimate male hedonism: they combine getting drunk, overeating, violence, group solidarity and oggling cheerleaders into one activity. Thus, strip clubs all have hot buffets. Thus, Hooters.

Friday, May 27, 2005

More Bookish Meminess

Death reminds me that, though I promised to, I never actually did the Fahrenheit 451/desert island meme she passed me a month and a half ago. I'd been meaning to get to it, but had been busy with writing my Substantial (or, more often, hiding from my Substantial). Anyway, no time like the present.

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be? Like Death, I assume this means, "What book would you want to memorize?" Would Fahrenheit 451 be too meta an answer?

I'd probably do Walker Percy's Love in the Ruins. It's funny, weird, Catholic, and mildly depressing. And if those aren't things the future needs, well, then I'm already wasting my time.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? I'm far, far too busy having hopeless crushes on real people to waste time on fictional characters. (Which is to say, yes, on Rosie Cotton, from Lord of the Rings.)

The last book you bought was...? See the last meme. Judge Dave and the Rainbow People.

The last book you read was...? Same.

What are you currently reading? Beyond academic stuff for my Substantial, nothing. Once this is over, I plan to re-read The Name of the Rose in spare moments over the summer. I also brought home a copy of Leo Strauss' Natural Right and History, which may get read.

Five books you would take if stranded on a desert island: Chesterton had the best-ever answer to this question, so I'll start by ripping him off. 1) Thomas' Practical Guide to Ship-building. (Not, I believe, a real book. But a real funny answer.) 2) The Bible, which I might actually get around to reading more than a bit of with all that time on my hands. 3) The Tempest, on which my situation might give me new perspective. 4) A book of star charts. Without light pollution, I could really get in to star-gazing. 5) Lord of the Rings, which never fails to feel new.

To whom are you passing this meme, and why? Annie Banno. Just 'cause I can. (Or can I? I dunno. Maybe?)

Twice On the Pipe, If the Answer is No

Y'know, "Knock Three Times" (Tony Orlando and Dawn) is a surprisingly sweet song, especially given that its subject is the logistical problems entailed in scheduling random sexual encounters.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Receiving Stolen Goods

One last piece of procrastination before I get back to work.

A week ago, Publius passed me the book meme. I was reluctant to take it up, because he himself had not been passed the meme by anybody, despite the specific rules of the game, and I didn't want to be open to accusations of receiving stolen goods. But a week passed, and Publius' larceny failed to bring the heavens crashing down, so I figured there was no harm. And so:

1. Total number of books I've owned: Gosh, I've no idea. Over the course of my whole life, including school books and books that I didn't buy but just took possession of from my father? I'd imagine around 400-500.

2. Last book I bought: Judge Dave and the Rainbow People, in which Judge David Sentelle has a series of comic misadventures presiding over a dispute between several thousand hippies who want to stage a reunion in a national forest in western North Carolina and the state health officials who want to stop them. A remarkably timely book, given that the judge's stalled nomination to the D.C. Circuit (blocked by Senators Kennedy and Leahy) looms in the background the entire time.

3. Last book I read: Same as above, on the train to and from New Haven on Tuesday. Before that, The Antitrust Bulletin, Vol. 42-2 (1997). Last non-academic reading: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a friend's copy, read while doing my laundry in his basement between the hours of 11pm and 2am. Total retention: zero.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me: Hmm...

(a) R.R. Palmer's History of the Modern World, Eighth Edition. Big, comprehensive, exquisitely written. Neither multiculturalist clap-trap nor Whiggish winners' history. The finest general-use textbook written on any subject in the humanities or social sciences.

(b) Robert Sobel's For Want of a Nail. Another history textbook, only this time it's fake history. For Want of a Nail is, hands-down, the best counterfactual history ever ridden, not just better than modern chumps like Harry Turtledove, but surpassing the forays into the genre by such able prose stylists as Churchill, Chesterton and MacKinlay Kantor. Re-ignited my interest in fantastical literature of all stripes.

(c) Walter Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz. What a great, weird story. Deals with some fairly important ideas (the endurance, and depravity, of human nature; the perseverance of God's providence) but also has multi-headed nuclear mutants. This is the kind of fiction I would write, if I could write fiction.

(d) The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Old reliable. Like having an encyclopedic, if somewhat vague, spiritual director sitting on your bookshelf. If I'm going anywhere for more than two weeks, this baby comes with.

(e) Roy Gerrard's Sir Cedric. For whatever reason, this one reminds me of my late mother. A squat, mustachioed knight errant who likes to dine on cucumber sandwiches. Veddy British. I sometimes think there was some kind of a devil's bargain between my parents, whereby my father got to raise the kids Catholic, and my mother got to raise us WASPy and Anglophilic.

5. Tag five people and have them do this on their blog: Let's see. How's about Will, Death (if she's still blogging), Kentuckian Dave, Carina of An Inclination to Criticize, and Dawn Eden. That's a solid list.

Gay Unitarian to Head Catholic College

Religious Studies chair promoted to dean of St Michael's in Vermont.

Maybe it's just me, but I think his Unitarianism is a much more serious issue than his homosexuality. I mean, he didn't choose to be a homosexual, and it's at least possible (though, I'll grant, not likely) that he's living chastely in accordance with the Church's teachings. (There are many people with same-sex attraction who do just that.)

But a Unitarian! The idea that someone who has freely chosen to reject the divinity of Jesus, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the overwhelming portion of the Creed ought to be running a Catholic educational institution is just bizarre. (And I think it's reasonable to assume he has full knowledge of what the Church teaches, given that he has a divinity degree and has taught at a Catholic school for 16 years.)

Seriously, a Unitarian!

Minor Legal Research Niggle

The most remarkable thing I've come across, in researching this Substantial o' mine, is that some legal scholars fail to correctly cite to their own articles. How does one do that?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Like Dancing? Defending the Unborn?

Consider perhaps attending the 20th Annual Ball for Life, which will be Friday, June 3, at the New York Athletic Club. The price is a bit steep ($200 a plate) but the money raised all goes to a good cause, the Good Counsel crisis pregnancy center.

Plus, the leader of the evening's band, Alex Donner and his Orchestra, is an alumnus of both my grade school and my high school, and is a former attorney. (Small world.) I'm actually listening to one of their CDs right now. It's groovy.

(thanks to Old Oligarch for the head's up)

UPDATE: PapaBear writes to note that one of the evening's honorees, Peggy Noonan, sent her kid to my nursery-school, the St Thomas More Play Group, around the time either my brother or sister was there. That seemed a little distant a connection for my taste, but for the sake of the completeness of the record, and of disclosing any possible conflict of interest, I'll mention it.

(Also, looking at this history of my old parish, I discover that the church was originally built by the Episcopalians. Which makes the decision to place the parish under the patronage of St Thomas More, who after all was murdered by the CofE, a more delicious irony.)

Unintended Consequence of the Filibuster Deal

Yes, I do occasionally post about things other than "Star Wars"!

Mickey Kaus, in a rare permalinked post, suggests that the hidden, Marxian purpose of the filibuster deal was to preserve the lobbying system that drives the Washington, D.C. economy. (In sum: the filibuster, compared to the party discipline of the House, gives each individual Senator a tremendous amount of power. That power requires each Senator to be "wined, dined and fawned over", which in turn requires armies of lobbyists. Those lobbyists cost money, which is the backbone of everything from the Palm steakhouse to the Washington Post's real estate advertising. Hence, the moderates' compromise prevents the D.C. economy from collapsing.)

I had a somewhat similar thought when I first heard of the compromise. During the debates on the "nuclear option", McCain, Lieberman, et al., ("the moderates") repeatedly insisted that the problem was that both parties had been captured by extremist interest groups that were using the issue of judges to flex their political muscle and increase their fundraising in the respective grassroots. A moderate deal, we were told, was necessary to defeat the power of "extremists on both sides" (Lieberman).

But of course, since the deal just kicks the filibuster can down the road to the first Supreme Court nomination, it actually accomplishes exactly the opposite. It preserves the ability of groups like People for the American Way, or the Focus on the Family, to use the next judicial nomination as an opportunity to flex their political muscle and ramp up their fundraising. If the "nuclear option" had been used, that would have been the death-knell for these groups, at least on this issue, because there would have been so much less ground to argue over. The Senate would have confirmed, by party-line vote, all the President's nominees, and would be expected to do the same for a future Supreme Court nominee. Instead, everything is up in the air, and at the next nomination cycle, we'll see Ralph Neas asserting that any judge to the right of Justice Stevens constitutes "extreme circumstances", James Dobson insisting that the Democrats have broken the deal and the nuclear option has to be retriggered, and ads ripping off the latest action blockbuster. And gobs of cash will be raised by all.

Hmmm... a McCain-brokered deal likely to generate lots of unintended consequences that run directly counter to the Senator's intentions.... why does this sound familiar?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Up for a Good "Star Wars" Mind F**k?

The following occurred to me in the midst of an email to Will:

In the "Star Wars" prequels, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (aka, Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith), is secretly the leader of both sides of the galactic civil war that posterity will call the Clone Wars. As Darth Sidious, he is leader of the Separatists, who are (ostensibly) trying to split the Republic in two and establish a new government more congenial to their interests. As Supreme Chancellor, he commands the forces of the Republic, vast armies of clones with an elite cadre of Jedi knights as his generals, which seek to suppress the Separatists and preserve the Republic.

Of course, Palpatine/Sidious is in reality seeking neither to split the Republic nor to preserve it, but to foment a civil war that will serve as a pretext for amassing unto himself greater and greater power. Towards the goal of defeating the Separatists, and then (WARNING: SPOILER) the traitorous Jedi, Palpatine gains more and more emergency executive powers, until he is the unquestioned leader of what he terms "the first Galactic Empire".

Well, not entirely unquestioned. There's the small matter of the Rebel Alliance, which by the time of the original trilogy (and, presumably, some part of the intervening 20-odd years) has been the further cause of civil war in the galaxy. Civil war which continues, one assumes, to serve as justification for the Emperor's harsh rule. And yet, the origins and leadership of the Rebel Alliance are mysterious. We never see its formation in any of the movies. We don't meet its ostensible leader, Mon Mothma, until "Return of the Jedi". We never see its leadership in closed session, and have only the vaguest sense of the structure of the Alliance beyond the Luke-Leia-Han triad.

So what I'm wondering (and the aforementioned mind-f**k) is: given that the Rebel Alliance plays exactly the same role in the original trilogy as the Separatists did in the prequels, isn't it possible that they're similarly being secretly orchestrated by Palpatine/Sidious? Certainly, the movies never explicitly say anything of the sort. But it wouldn't be crazy, right? No more so than Palpatine being the leader of both sides during the Clone Wars, I would think. And remember that the Rebel base on Yavin 4 in "Star Wars" was in an ancient and deserted Sith temple. Who knows what hidden evil whispered to Mon Mothma in the lonely hours of the night? Plus, this theory might explain exactly how Palpatine orchestrated the trap at the end of "Jedi" (which, if you think about it, weirdly parallels the trap he sets for the Separatist leaders at the end of "Revenge of the Sith"). Sure, the Rebellion ultimately triumphs and Palpatine is destroyed, but that wouldn't be the only titanic miscalculation he makes in "Jedi".

So, whaddya think? Might Palpatine/Sidious really be the secret leader of the Rebellion? How's that for a mind-f**k?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Explaining the Death Star's Slow Construction...

...without blaming the Teamsters:

Law Jedi ruminates on why it took 20 years to build the first Death Star (construction on which is just beginning at the end of Episode III) and only about 4 years to create an incomplete but "fully armed and operation" second Death Star by "Return of the Jedi". But isn't the obvious answer the learning curve involved in building gigantic battle stations? I mean, if you've never constructed a space station the size of a moon, or a laser capable of destroying a planet in a single shot, it's going to be tricky. There's going to be lots of trial and error (and accompanying force-chokings), lots of seemingly promising roads that lead nowhere, etc. It could easily take 20-odd years to work out the kinks.

But once you've done it (and, despite its ignominious end, the Death Star was a success) it's a relatively simple matter to re-do it. Building Death Star II was a piece of cake compared to Death Star I, because they already knew how to do it. It was just a matter of accumulating an unspeakable amount of parts and labor, busting out the old blueprints, scaling everything up a bit, and going to work.

A Story Close to the Heart of Every Blogger

Cubs tell Carlos Zambrano to stop using Internet so much. They blame his heavy 'Net use (4 hours a day chatting with his brother) for his elbow problems. Yeah, it's definitely that, rather than, say, manager Dusty Baker and his reputation for overworking his young pitchers.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Strange Smells to Move Out To

The back stairwell now has the odd, but unmistakable, odor of butterscotch and ground beef. I am not responsible.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Lets Do the Time Warp, Again....

I've been moving all morning, since about 6:00 am, and have completely lost track of time. It feels like 5:00 pm or so. Ugh. But, thanks to the deus ex machina appearance this morning of my roommate (soon to be former roommate - that's weird) I was able to move out all the heavy/awkward stuff. Even the custom Beiruit table I built...I was terrified I'd have to cut her in half, and all of the intricate painting I'd done would be wasted. But no!

Oy, I need a sandwich.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Have I Mentioned That I Love My Dad?

He brought me into this world, and he can take me out of it. But in the meantime, he's an invaluable resource for locating mysteriously missing statutes, like the Football Merger Act of 1966.

Name That Scandal!

Over at the Corner, there's been a partial (very partial) reader effort to come up with a proper name for the Newsweek-sloppy-reporting-leads-to-deadly-riots scandal. (Understand now why it needs a punchy name?)

Suggested names include Crapperquiddick and the Pee-Pot Tome Scandal. I think that "the Koran-Johntra Affair" would be the best parodic scandal name, but I'm just a half-mad law student trying to hide from his Substantial, so what do I know?

"Hitler Could Not Be Reached for Comment."

Coldplay's Chris Martin:
"I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world."
What a dumbass.

(from Drudge)

This is Getting Ridiculous...

I am quite confident that my Substantial will be the first in the history of the Yale Law School to make use of the phrase "Extreme Football League".

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


That sound you just heard was part of my thesis collapsing around me. I think I can jury-rig a replacement from the rubble (and its increased complexity will help add length to the paper, which is another problem). But: if I'm flipping burgers rather than studying law come the fall, you'll know what to blame. Ay, mami!

The Filibuster and Bad Long-Term Planning

There's been a decent amount of debate on the Right about the potential negative consequences of using the "nuclear option". I'm curious if there's been a similar discussion on the Left about the long-term risks of filibustering judicial nominations in the first place?

Assume the nuclear option fails, and the Senate effectively endorses the idea that judicial nominations can be filibustered. Eventually, Democrats are going to regain control of the Senate and the Presidency simultaneously. What kind of judges are they going to be able to get past a Deep South/Plains States filibuster? Given that conservatives have a systemic advantage in the Senate (all those thinly populated "square states") is it really in the Democrats' long-term interest to institute a 60-vote floor for judicial nominations?

The Nuclear Option Debate

I shouldn't be, but I'm taking a break right now to watch the Senate debate on the "nuclear option".

I don't agree with Arlen Specter on a lot of issues, but I must say that he's completely right on the filibuster issue. Both sides are abusing both the facts and the precedents. The voting up or down of the nuclear option will have negative effects on the Senate and the country as a whole. Filibusters should only be used when genuine, articulable, serious objections can be raised. I'm not sure whether releasing Senators from the obligation of party-line voting will actually work, but his general goal - to end the filibusters without actually banning the filibuster - seems like a deeply sensible one to me.

Also: the Lex Luthor look becomes him. Bald: it's the new black.

"Gimme Two Bees for a Dime," We'd Say

Professor Bainbridge points to Justice Stevens' wacky-old-man dissent in the interstate wine case as evidence that the Court's second-most senior justice is "now completely past it."

It seems to me that, so long as his opinions sound like the words of a cranky octogenarian, it means that we're still OK, because Justice Stevens is still basically in charge of his own opinions. When his opinions start to sound reasonable and with-it again, that's when we'll know we're in trouble, 'cause it'll mean that his clerks have taken over and the inmates are completely running the asylum.

Perfect 10

So my Yankees, after an abysmal start, are looking pretty good right now, having won ten games in a row to pull themselves back above the .500 mark. Now that they're winning, everything seems to be going right. They're getting great pitching (the streak has featured two complete game shut outs) and great hitting. They're getting superior performance out of veterans everyone thought were past their prime (Kevin Brown, 2-0 with 3 earned runs in his last two starts; Tino Martinez, who's hit 8 home runs and improved his batting average 30 points over the last 10 days) and with rookies (Chien Ming-Wang has been giving the Yanks great production as their fifth starter; Robinson Cano has been hitting the snot out of the ball, and plays a decent second base). They're getting solid work out of superstars like Jeter and Sheffield and role-players like Tony "the 'Stache" Womack. Bernie Williams and Jason Giambi seem to have adjusted well to their reduced roles. Posada and Matsui have emerged from early season doldrums. They've also won every which way: pitching duels, blow-outs, slug-fests, games where they had to get incredibly lucky - variety, the spice of life.

The biggest weakness of the streak has been that it's come entirely against two pretty bad teams, Oakland and Seattle, which is true, although it's also true that those teams look worse than they really are because they've spent the last ten days playing, and losing to, the Yankees and Red Sox. Still it'll be interesting to see if the Yankees winning ways can continue when they face the Mets this weekend, or the Red Sox next.

Can the Yankees win out to finish the season on an astonishing 132-game win streak? Um, no.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Abortion, the Bible, & the Establishment Clause

Professor Wagner is a much smarter man than I (and has a cooler-looking beard, to boot) but I'm not sure if this argument holds up. He says:
Look, the Death-Left should make up its mind: either the Bible says nothing about abortion, in which case legislating against it has nothing to do with "enforcing Biblical morality," or it does, in which case Christians who favor a liberal abortion regime have some explainin' to do.

On this broadcast, Paul Simmons, of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, went out of his way to assert that the Bible says nothing about abortion. If he ever got around to explaining how, in that case, the pro-life movement represents an illicit mixing of religion and politics, I sure didn't hear it. I would very much have liked to, and said so more than once.
That seems to assume that everything which is genuinely religious (or, at least, genuinely Christian) has to emerge out of the Bible, and that any beliefs that Christians advocate that can't be traced to the Bible aren't "religious" within the meaning of the Establishment Clause.

That strikes me as wrong. The Bible doesn't specifically say anything about the necessity of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent. But if Prof. Wagner and I were to form some kind of hirsute Catholic super-team that pushed through a measure banning the consumption of meat during Lent, that would pretty clearly have Establishment Clause problems. Because, Bible or no, we'd be trying to impose Church rules using the power of the civil law.

A similar thing is true with regard to abortion. Regardless of whether or not the Bible says anything about the subject, it's undoubtedly the case that the Roman Catholic Church (along with Eastern Orthodoxy, the Southern Baptists, etc) teaches that abortion is wrong, a form of homicide that the state must justly forbid, etc. We argue that our position on this point isn't religious per se, that it's based on a set of embryological facts and philosophical assumptions that you don't have to be a Catholic, or even a theist, to accept. I think that's true, but lots of people would disagree. And I don't think there's anything wrong with them arguing that we're just trying to impose our religion on everyone, since if they were right and we were wrong on the underlying issue, that's precisely what we would be trying to do, even if that wasn't our intent.

Put differently: I imagine that the Professor agrees with me that nothing in the Bible condemns the consumption of alcohol per se. And yet, as I understand it, the Southern Baptists believe it does. Can we not say their belief is non-Biblical while still acknowledging that it's a genuinely religious belief? And when they try to operationalize that belief by setting up a dry county, aren't they mixing religion and politics (even if they're doing so in a way we don't think the Establishment Clause forbids)?

Whether a specific proposal has a scriptural basis and whether enacting it into law violates the Establishment Clause are separate questions addressed to separate constituencies and aren't, in my view, locked in the either/or dynamic that Wagner at least seems to be describing.

That said, congratulations to Professor W on his NPR appearance. And double-congratulations for surviving it.

The Problem with the "Star Wars" Prequels

(Pre-post warning. Unlike many bloggers, I haven't seen Episode III yet.)

It's not the wooden acting on the tin-eared dialogue that ultimately gets me (although they do bother me). The prequels could have been brilliantly made, I think, and they still would have been a mistake.

The original films and the prequels are, in a meaningful way, enemies. It's impossible for one set of films not to ruin the other. There's no conceivable order in which one could watch the movies without having one set of them spoil the plots of the others.

Much of the pleasure of the original trilogy comes from the surprises that Lucas weaves into their plots, which subvert your expectations and send the story off in unexpected directions. That Darth Vader is Luke's father, that Leia is Luke's sister, that Ben Kenobi and Yoda are no eccentric old men but warriors of unimaginable power - these surprises are as much a part of the appeal of "Star Wars" as the space battles or light-saber fights.

But, of course, if you watch the movies in episodic order (that is, starting with "The Phantom Menace") none of these things are actually surprising: the prequels are full of scenes of Obi-Wan and Yoda engaging in old school Jedi ass-whippings. (Once you've seen Yoda hold his own against Count Dooku, is it really all that surprising that he can pull an X-Wing out of the swamp with his mind?) And, as I understand, the paternity of Luke and Leia is revealed in "Revenge of the Sith". So the surprises of the original films are no longer surprises; the plot twists have all been straightened out ahead of time. The climactic scene on Cloud City in "Empire Strikes Back" is now less unexpected than your average episode of "Jerry Springer".

You might object: why not watch the movies in the order they were released, starting with "Star Wars" and ending with "Revenge of the Sith"? Well, I'd reply, we've been doing that, and frankly, it stinks. Because much of the drama of the prequels comes from stuff we already know the resolution of going into the movies. Who is Lord Sidious? What is Palpatine up to? Will Anakin succumb to the Dark Side? What will be the fate of the Jedi and/or the Republic? If you've seen the first three movies, you already know the answers to these questions, which robs the movie of whatever dramatic punch they might have had if they'd been properly made.

But what, you ask, if the movies had been properly tragic? If Lucas had filmed the prequels with an appropriate air of foreboding, correctly framing Anakin's inescapable fall into the Dark Side, driven by forces beyond his control to destroy everything he loves, including even ultimately himself? Maybe, but again, I'm not sure that, knowing that he's ultimately redeemed (is it technically a "spoiler" to reveal the end of a movie released 22 years ago?), it would be possible for even the most adept filmmaker to really frame the story as a tragedy.

I should get back to work, but my in-a-nutshell point is this: once all these movies are finished, there's going to be a serious (well, not in the grand scheme of things...) problem about what the proper order is in which the uninitiated should see the movies. And this is because the two trilogies necessarily radically undercut one another. I'd recommend giving up the prequels for lost, and showing the kids the originals first (or rather, the "originals", given all that "Special Edition" crap Lucas has been pulling). "Star Wars", "Empire" and "Jedi" are salvageable, if not spoiled by the prequels in advance.

I was a big fan of the prequels idea when they first came out, but it seems clear to me now that they were a mistake. Episodes I, II and III ought to have to remained exclusively in the imaginations of fans, forever perfect, well-acted and incapable of spoiling the original trilogy.

Of course, I'm going to see "Revenge of the Sith", once my Substantial is finished. I mean, how could I miss it? It's got Wookies!

The Fine Art of Brief Procrastinations

If I make it through this paper alive, the credit goes to one thing and one thing only: poppin' zombies in spare moments.

Anglo-American Athletic Invention Dominance

This post got me thinking about soccer, which in turn got me pondering the subject of globally popular sports. And I realized: all of the popular sports in the world are of British or American invention. Think about it: soccer, baseball, rugby, cricket, basketball - every one of them invented in either the United States or Great Britain. Seriously, what's the most popular non-Anglo-American sport? Hockey? Polo? Bocce? Maybe chess, if one considers that a sport.

Why is this? You might say it's a byproduct of imperialism, and that's obviously part of the story (baseball isn't popular in Cuba, nor cricket in Pakistan, by accident). But it's also true that soccer, for instance, is wildly popular in places (such as Latin America and Europe) where the British had no imperial presence. Moreover, the French had a substantial global empire. Are there any native Gallic games that are popular even in the Francophone world (or even in France itself) let alone globally? There's got to be more to the puzzle than just Cecil Rhodes and his ilk trotting the globe, sowing a love of Parliaments and soccer and putting a "u" after the "o" in words like "color".

Seriously, what's going on here?

Rats. With Kalashnikovs.

Aproceduralism for Me, But Not for Thee

Bruce Ackerman on the "nuclear option".

I post only to note the irony that a man who built his career on the claim that the Constitution can be (and has been) amended by implication would object to the Senate majority's attempt to fudge their way around the procedures for altering the Senate's rules. I mean, three successive elections producing Republican victories? How much more We The People do you need? Haven't we arrived at a Senate-procedural "moment"?

Death, She's Gonna Like This One

Leslie Gore sings AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap".

(via the Dawn Patrol)

My Mentors, in News and Opinion

My old Jedi master, Hadley Arkes, has articles up right now at NRO and the Weekly Standard. Well, he's not suffering from writer's block, unlike some of his former padawan.

Speaking of former mentors of mine: yeesh (requires free registration).

Last Word on Yalta

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Did You See That?

Anyone else catch the episode of the Simpsons on just now? (Bart and Homer almost convert to Catholicism.) Most amusing, and a shockingly sympathetic portrayal of the Church and of Catholic priests. The reverend in the episode (voiced by Liam Neeson) wasn't a creepy molester, or a repressed sadist, or a hypocrite, or chafing, Thornbirds-style, at celibacy. He was just a normal guy, happy in his vocation and manly. Also treated not-too-disrespectfully: natural family planning and Transubstantiation. Other good things: saints-lives comic books and "Catholic Heaven" (Irish guys fighting and pinatas, as opposed to "Protestant Heaven", which features pastel sweaters and croquet).

Anyway, I'm curious if any of the various converts out there in St Blogs saw it, and if it comported at all with their own conversion experience.

Apropos of My Substantial

The Blue Book is sorely lacking in standards for the appropriate use of sports terminology. For example: is it "layup", "lay-up", or "lay up"? This is a serious gap in its coverage.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

(Grocery) Store Wars

"Search your peelings, Cuke, you know it to be true."

It's cute. Although, I must confess, when I think of organic food I don't typically think of food that talks and has hair. But maybe that's just me.

(via the Corner)

Dangerously Cute

Via Ragemonkey, I discovered this baby-blog. The subject, a now-10-month-old named John, is absurdly cute. WARNING: do not click above link if you're not in a place you'd feel comfortable making cooing noises.

What's the Great Conjunction?

This one is strictly for geeks of a certain age: the Jim Henson Company is making a sequel to The Dark Crystal.

Of Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Neverending Story, I always liked Dark Crystal the best. Even as a child, I think, I recognized that there was something not. quite. right. about Bowie, and Neverending Story terrified me (as in, I couldn't watch more than about 15 minutes at a time) until I was about eight. I think I found the blurring or the real world and Fantasia, and all the weird cause-and-effect quirks that produced, quite unsettling. Plus, the fact that the villain was Nothingness itself...that's a bit much to ask a young kid to accept.

Anyway, I'm intrigued as to how Dark Crystal 2 will turn out.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Speaking of Poetry: Iamb Stupid

I can't get very far in this, which apparently my friend the half-witted Filipino (or is it the witty half-Filipino...I can never recall...) was able to solve in a few minutes. I can get 3 kids, the cop and the felon on the other side, but no further. Best me, o my readers!

UPDATE: Solved. My faith in the adequacy of my intellect is restored.

UPDATE AGAIN: Argh! But now I can't reproduce the effect!


Maybe I will hang around New Haven for the next few weeks.

Apparently, I've Fallen Afoul of the Haiku Police

You can pry my faux haiku from my cold dead hands.

I like to split my infinitives too, sucka. Deal with that.

Well, That's Good to Know.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Everything is Haiku Here.

Yesterday, Eve Tushnet linked to this Livejournal entry, in which all of Shakespeare's sonnets are rendered in haiku. It's quite cool, and in inspired me to see what else could be expressed in 5-7-5 form. (Well, it, and the fact that I really don't want to study for my Corporations exam.)

So, w/o further ado:

The Declaration of Independence
Ciao bella, England.
German George - he's done bad stuff.
We have rights, you know.

The Gospel According to St Luke...
Born of the Virgin,
Jesus teaches, suffers, dies,
Rises, and ascends.

...and the Acts of the Apostles
The Church is born as
The Holy Spirit descends.
Comedy ensues.

The Great Gatsby
Lost her earlier
Because I was poor; but now,
I'm rich, so: ahh, crap....

The Merchant of Venice
Uninsured shipwreck
Almost costs Antonio
Half a love-handle.

That's all I've got for now, but I strongly suspect future procrastination will produce more, which I'll post as they come to me.

UPDATE: A few more...

The Iliad
Angered by Hector,
Achilles wakes from pouting
To avenge his "pal".


Anger raises him
From wrath-induced non-fighting.
Get some therapy.

Gulliver's Travels
Travel the whole world:
You will only find satires
Of your home country.

UPDATE AGAIN: To make this somewhat less procrastinariffic,

National Biscuit Co v Stroud
Two man partnership:
Actual authority
Is retained by both.

MLB Reportedly Fears Bonds May Be Convicted

It would be very strange indeed if Bonds failed to pass Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list because he was in federal prison.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

One Last Post for Today

I've been meaning to put up a montage of "spring is here" photos from around New Haven (similar to my now-famous expose on The Gates). But I keep failing. At any rate, everything's up at my photo blog. Hopefully there'll be a full post, with loads of "witty" commentary, later. When I need a break from studying, maybe.

Anyway, g'night, all.

A (Slightly) More Fleshed-Out Defense of Yalta

From on High has responded to my response to his post from earlier. (It's like a game of Pong. deep...deep...deep...) My thoughts on his thoughts on my thoughts:

1. I think it's undoubtedly true that the Soviets would have fought for their holdings in Central and Eastern Europe. They may have been devastated by the Great Patriotic War, but they still had an enormous army, one that had just bested the mightiest fighting force ever assembled in the history of the world, in the field in Europe. So they certainly could fight. Plus they probably would have reasoned (not irrationally) that the American and British publics would not stand another half-decade of war, especially against a former ally, which would have encouraged a policy of brinkmanship. Finally, the reason they wanted a Central/Eastern European empire in the first place was to serve as a buffer against invasion from the west. They would have (not entirely inaccurately) perceived our efforts to establish Poland, et alia, as genuinely free liberal democracies as an attempt to create a staging ground from which later subversion of the Soviet state could take place.

More to the point, we would have had to fight. With a different strategy, the Western Allies might have been able to occupy all of Germany. But everything from the Vistula east (at minimum) was guaranteed to be under Soviet occupation. If we wanted to return General Sikorski and the government-in-exile to Poland, we were going to have to do it at gunpoint.

2. Was it pandering? I still think so, insofar as the intended audience was clearly the populations of the Baltic states and other American allies in the region like Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania. It's a classic "I feel your pain" statement - boldly taking a position on an issue that was settled the other way 60 years ago.

Is he trying to set the Bush Doctrine in a broader historical context? Yes, clearly. But that's precisely why I wish he'd taken a more mature view of the situation surrounding Yalta, rather than just denouncing it as a Munich-style sellout. Because there are times when the United States isn't geopolitically omnipotent (hard to believe, I know) and we have to face reality and go for the next-best alternative. (As you say, see, e.g. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. See also, North Korea, Iran, and sadly Darfur.)

If he could just acknowledge that, he could be honest about our cozying up with the Saudis being the result of geopolitical necessity, rather than moral blindness or inexplicable hypocrisy. But instead we get treated to a history lesson in which every decision grounded in realism is the result of moral cowardice and strategic short-sightedness. Which is "rah-rah" inspiring, I guess, but doesn't do much to help us deal with our current messes.

Biting the Hand that Excommunicated You

Today is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Stanislaus of Cracow, patron of Poland. On this date in 1079 (only a century or so after the Poles converted to Christianity, to give you some context) he was killed while celebrating Mass by the aptly named King Boleslaus the Cruel, whom Stanislaus had excommunicated for various reasons (pillaging in his wars with the neighboring powers, attempts to seize Church land, the kidnapping of a nobleman's wife). (He's sort of the Polish Thomas a Becket, then.)

That's a Medieval phenomenon I just don't comprehend. I mean, I understand being upset about being excommunicated. I just don't see how hacking to death the one who excommunicated you is an appropriate response. If you're a believer, and are worried you're now Hell-bound, it doesn't get you one bit closer back to integration with the Body of Christ. (God, I think, remains unimpressed by your slaughtering abilities.) And if you're not a believer, then who cares? Despite the excommunication, people are still going to deal with you, because you're rich and powerful (it's never excommunicated hog-farmers who go after the clerics, notice). Maybe I'm just too solution-oriented. I love the Medievals, but they really could be a maddeningly adolescent bunch, sometimes.

At Least the Turkish Delight Looks Real

The teaser trailer for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is available. It's OK, I guess, but Aslan looks pretty fake. Very CGI. Which would be too bad.

Bush Tinkles on the Shoes of Greater Men

From On High notes the President's comments from the V-E day celebrations in Eastern Europe:
"V-E Day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end oppression. The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history."
That's really galling. The alternative to the compromises of Yalta wasn't for the US to waive it's magic freedom wand to bring liberal democracy to Central and Eastern Europe. It was war. Another war on the scale of World War Two, following immediately in its wake, with the Americans, British, Canadians and what could be reconstituted out of the German, Italian and Japanese forces marching on Russia in an international crusade against Bolshevism. It was a war with perhaps another 10-15 million dead, and, in all likelihood, the use of several atomic weapons. Followed by an Anglo-American occupation of the better part of the globe for perhaps a generation. Basically, what Patton wanted to do.

It's not that there's nothing to say for that idea. It would have prevented the Cold War and fifty years spent under the spectre of total global nuclear annihilation. And Central and Eastern Europe (and Central Asia, and China, and Korea and Southeast Asia, and Cuba) would have been free. But it would have achieved these things at an enormous human and moral cost. Though I think Yalta was the right decision, you certainly could have gone the other way.

But Bush's comments don't address that issue. They're just Monday-morning quarterbacking, sixty years on. If Bush thinks the Western allies should have unleashed a Third World War against the Soviets, he should say so, and make the case. If he doesn't, then his comments about Yalta are just cheap pandering.

He'll Be Here All Week. (Tip Your Waitress.)

Yet another reason to like Pope Benedict:
During the first break, Lindbeck introduced me to Cardinal Ratzinger. The conversation went something like this: Lindbeck said, "Your eminence, I would like to introduce to you Cathleen Kaveny, a Catholic studying moral theology at Yale." I smiled and said hello. Ratzinger smiled at me and responded, "A Catholic studying moral theology at Yale? You’d better be careful or you’ll have the Congregation after you." I couldn't believe my ears. After all, I had just heard, while wide awake, what Cardinal Ratzinger--the Grand Inquisitor--would say to me in a nightmare, which naturally would also include a stake, a match, a heap of kindling, and a long, flowing white dress (à la Cecil B. De Mille’s The Story of Joan of Arc). He was joking, of course, as I realized almost immediately. Nonetheless, my face must have turned as pale as Joan’s dress. The cardinal quickly understood the problem: "With whom are you studying?" he asked. And not quite able to speak again, I pointed mutely to Lindbeck. Ratzinger said, "Well, then, that’s all’re in good hands."
Ahh, your then-eminence, you know us all too well. Seriously, you have to like a guy who can joke about his own terrifying reputation.

(link via Baptized Pagan)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Against Rendition

Marc Reuel Gerecht on our outsourcing of torture.

If It's Not Scottish, It's Crap!

OK, one more thought on the British election. I understand the need for a Scottish Nationalist Party, since it provides a voice in Parliament for people who want Scotland to be an independent country (not a terrible idea, in my view). But, seriously, do the Scots need their own Socialist and Green parties, too? Are Scots really this proud and disagreeable? With a rational people, those who wanted independence would put aside their other policy differences until independence was achieved (cf: Ireland, America). Or, realizing that independence was not going to happen, they'd throw in their hats with whatever major Britain-wide party they were most sipatico with. But we're not exactly talking about a rational people here. We're talking Scots.

Obligatory "On the British Election" Post

My only halfway interesting thought on the recent British election: British voting patterns are an interesting example of the strange dual status of Great Britain, both European and Anglospheric. They have a first-past-the-post voting system, like the United States, but have a European-style party system, with three major parties and a smattering of minor/regional parties. Which is why Labor was able to turn a relatively modest popular vote plurality (35.2% vs 32.3% Conservative and 22% Liberal Democrat) into a fairly sizeable majority among MPs (356-197-62). They just had to narrowly win a large number of three-way races to give Tony Blair (and, soon enough, Gordon Brown) quasi-dictatorial power in a country where almost 65% of voters went with another party.

I suppose this odd pastiche of electoral systems is just part of what makes Britain Britain, but I can't help but wonder if they wouldn't have a healthier political system if they just picked one or the other and went for it whole-hog. (On the other hand, the United States and Germany aren't exactly shining examples of the uncorrupted polis, either. Maybe it's time to give divine right monarchy another try?)

More Incestuous Cheekiness

Query: would those drawn to incestuous couplings be more successful at winning political support for their cause if they could convince people to refer to their particular orientation as "philadelphia"? (And would Sir Elton John be broad-minded enough to let them use "Philadelphia Freedom" as their theme song?)

Friday, May 06, 2005

More Brutus Blogging

It's been a while since I've posted about my grapefruit tree Brutus.

He's hit a bit of a growth spurt in the last month or so. I've moved him to a bigger pot (a converted bucket) so he'd have more room to stretch out his roots. (Currently growing - I hope - in his old pot is a bell pepper.) The picture is from just before he got moved. If I'm feeling so inclined, I might post some smapshots of him in his new abode. (I'm sure you're quaking with anticipation.)

"Fanatical Unitarians" Destroyed the WTC


"Kingdom of Heaven" got this guy's Irish up:
This was the condition in the Holy Land when Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade. The Christians did not “pick the first fight.” They responded to centuries of armed aggression, conquest and subjugation by Muslims.
(via Curt Jester)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

"Let's Put on a Show!" (Law School Edition)

Well, classes have ended for my 2L year. Only two exams and one substantial Substantial separate me from total done-ness. If only they were as easy to do as they are to backhandedly dismiss on my blog.

Also, I just sat through the annual Law Revue, which was funny-ish. The timing could use some work, and some of the skits needed a few more drafts (precious few actually got all the way to the punch-line without running out of gas). The again: who am I to complain about two hours free entertainment? Plus, we were treated to several rounds of always funny Actual Professor Quotes, and a genuinely inspired skit about the quest of a pair of squirrels from the Quad in search of food (you have to be on the YLS email list to get it, I'm afraid). And, of course, my good friend (and almost-roommate) Marek "The Big" Grabowski, who shaved his head to play Bob "Eminent Domain" Ellickson. Too bad his talents were under-utilized.

I took some photos, but I doubt they came out very well, given the conditions. Maybe I'll post some later. I'm curious if Death, who I know was there, or Will, who I didn't see, have any thoughts on the show.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My Thumbs Are Sore Already

Classic arcade games online.

This will be the death of me, I know it.

(via a Jonah Goldberg link from earlier)

UPDATE: At least one of my regular readers might note that Tetris is among the games available. If my productivity is shot, I'm takin' you with me!

Shockingly UnDixie

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

20% Yankee

10% Upper Midwestern

5% Dixie

0% Midwestern

Pretty People Have It Easier

Gee, I'm sure glad Maureen Dowd has a twice-weekly column in the Times. There's definitely no better use to which that space could be put.

(OK, that was snide. I'm sorry. But her writing's just so useless.)

Mmmmm.... Catholic Charitable Doings-On....

Thumbing through the latest issue of Columbia (the Knights of Columbus magazine), I see that Council 8746 of Newburgh, Indiana, recently cooked and canned more than 300 quarts of delicious chili for a Right to Life chili sale. It's hard to imagine an event more up my alley.

Maybe if there were also pie somehow.

Yankee Futility Continues

I'm shocked, shocked! to discover that Kevin Brown had another abysmal start today. My brother's right - the team needs to get rid of him.

In fact, in addition to Steve Karsay, who's already been designated for assignment, the Yankees should cut Brown, Bernie Williams and Jason Giambi. I know they get paid a ton of money, but that's a sunk cost. And meanwhile, keeping them on the roster takes up spaces from younger players who might actually improve and help the team. You only get 25 roster spots; no matter how much money they're making, does the team really need two more DHs who can't hit and an 0-4 starter with an 8.25 ERA?

Victory on the River Liffey

Through a clever combination of a) our biggest competition (a team called Big Aristotle) not being present, b) getting a bunch of questions that were right in our wheel-house (two in one round about World War II - that's like manna from Heaven for dweebs of a certain age), and c) the timely addition of a best-selling author (not gonna say which one) to our roster, the Hung Jurists, hereinafter known in our Trivia Night incarnation as "They're Always After Me Lucky Charms"*, were able to surge out of the doldrums and claim the ultimate prize: first. Verily, my knowing that Liza Minelli was sued by her bodyguard who claimed she forced him to have sex with her will be sung of by bards of every age.

*It's not that funny on paper, but if you can force the Donegal-born MC to say it three or four times a game as he's announcing the updated scores, it's good for a chuckle.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Is Bush Blocking the Darfur Accountability Act?

Assuming Kristof has his facts right, this is pretty appalling.

"Yanks Shake Up Roster, Lineup After Win"

Praise God. Yeah, you have to do stuff like that when your team costs more than the GDP of Vanuatu (well, almost) and you're 11-15.

The changes: Bernie Williams is out in center. Hideki Matsui moves over from left, and second baseman Tony "the Moustache" Womack in turn replaces him. 22-year old Minor Leaguer Robinson Cano will replace Womack at second.

In the rotation, Steve Karsay - signed to a big deal three years back and basically injured the entire time - has been designated for assignment. Also, Randy Johnson will miss a start because of a groin tweak, and will be replaced by 24-year old left hander Sean Henn.

We'll see if this works. It's refreshing to see Torre not just stick with his traditional "stay the course, these guys will come around" approach, since, frankly, guys like Bernie (and Jason Giambi, for that matter) ain't coming around. They're just too old, and too injured. The big problem, of course, is that the moves detailed above further worsen the Yankees' logjam at DH, as Bernie Williams joins Giambi, Andy Phillips and Ruben Sierra at the position. Hopefully Torre's new boldness will extend here as well, and the young (and still able to hit!) Phillips becomes our everyday DH.

If nothing else, the oldest team in the league just got a little younger.

UPDATE: Speaking of Vanuatu, I got a hit from someone from that tiny island nation last night around midnight, via a link from Waddling Thunder. Crazy.

Also, designated sports correspondent PapaBear points out that Andy Phillips had five strikeouts against the Devil Rays last night. Well, at least he's still young!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Cat Fight. No, Really.

This is uncannily like watching my friends Ryan and Scott fight. It really captures their personalities and fighting styles. Ryan is the little guy who frenetically waves his arms in your face. Scott is the big one who waits... waits... waits... and then pounces full-bore. It's really an astonishing simulacrum.

Is there anything the Japanese can't do?

Supremes to Hear Solomon Amendment Case

Our Robed Masters take cert from the 3rd Circuit. Whether or not Solomon is a sensible policy, or even constitutional in the abstract sense, I'm pretty certain that the existing case-law cuts heavily in favor of the government in this case. Of course, that's exactly how I felt about the Guantanamo Bay / detainee cases, too, and look how those turned out.

(via the Corner)

Old Heresies Never Die, They Just Fade Away...

Via Amy Welborn I see that today is the feast day of St Athanasius. Which leads me to ask: have you done your part to battle Arianism today?

But Angus, you say, the Arians were defeated in Fourth Century!

In a sense that's true: virtually no one today subscribes to the specific tenets of Arianism (helpfully outlined here). But heresies never really die, they just hide in the substrate, and mutate, and reemerge. And if Arianism is broadly defined as professed Christianity that denies the divinity of Jesus, then it's pretty clear that in absolute numbers Arianism is more widespread today than ever before. (Of course, there are so bloody many of us these days, everything's more widespread than ever, except probably Communism and National Socialism, which are pretty down on their luck at the moment. But still...) So I ask again: are you doing your part?

Slartibartfast's Pride

I seem to have acquired a semi-regular reader from, of all places, Norway. Hey Olaf (or Rollo, or Astrid, or whatever): if you don't mind outing yourself, do you wanna drop me an e-mail? It's angus dot dwyer at yale dot edu. I promise all correspondence will be confidential and unblogged.

My Official Quarterly Emotional Honesty Post

This is nobody's business (least of all my own) but I wanted to get it down for posterity's sake. To have a post (suitably generally worded) that I'll be able to look back on in happier times and remember that I really never did give up, even when I really ought to have. (Or, if things go really South, to have some semi-permanent marker that there actually was a time when I was sort-of on the beaten path. Either way.)

I'm deeply, painfully frustrated. Not by work, although I suspect my writer's block is a specific manifestation of my frustration. And it's not sexual frustration, though I've no doubt various chastity-hatas out there will insist that's precisely what it is. I might say it's emotional frustration - and it's certainly true that I'm desperately craving emotional intimacy - I don't think that really covers it.

It's life-frustration, is what it is. It's the frustration of a 24-year old man sitting alone in his boxers and undershirt in an otherwise empty third-floor walk-up, blogging. It's the frustration of a man who's tired of coming home to cook a family dinner for a family of one, and who realizes that, contrary to what I've been telling myself, getting a dishwasher next year isn't actually going to fix things. (Though, at least, it will rinse things.) It's the frustration of a man who's spent two years amassing unspeakable amounts of debt trying to earn the silliest degree in the world, studying a subject that bores and annoys him, preparing for a career that will be at best uninteresting and at worst corrupting. It's the frustration of a man who's justified all that to himself because of the need to provide for a wife and family, but who now looks around and notes, what wife and family? Except that I can now do my own laundry, I'm not notably closer to getting where I want to go than when I left home for boarding school eight and a half years ago. Bowling and poker and trivia night are fun (probably too much so) but please nobody be offended if they don't suffice.

The worst (or at least most painful) part is the way in which my too-clever-by-half mind keeps devising (and convincing itself of) all these implausible but deeply seductive ways of getting out of my predicament. [This was the place in the original post as written where I laid out the various insane ideas I've had over the past two years or so. The whole thing started to have a whiny-teenager tone, so I cut it, and inserted this explanatory note. If you're genuinely curious what they were, though I can't imagine why you would be, you can inquire. I may respond, or not. Don't take it personally either way.] I usually entertain these dumb ideas for a while and give up (thank God He gave me a lazy disposition!). Or I'll make some half-hearted effort, fail, and give up. Or I'll rationally talk myself out of it and give up.

Or, just as I'm about ready to give up, something a tad too coincidental will happen that rekindles my mad hope, and puts me back at square one. Which is exactly where I don't want to be, because as long as I'm chasing after illusory solutions I'll neither go after actual (if partial) solutions nor attempt to accept my situation. Because I think Someone's telling me, "Don't give up," I'm stuck here grasping at smoke, treading water, miserable.

(Ahh, there's that whiny-teenager voice again. Sigh.)

Well, goodnight dears. Perhaps by the morning, this post will somehow have magically fixed everything.


As I was writing this post, my Windows Media Player, set to randomize, played four Coldplay songs in a row. This is not helping the mood. Thanks a lot, Microsoft. Bastards.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The New Order: Now with Estrogen!

Is it just me, or does this photo remind anyone else of an all-female reenactment of the climactic scene from Revenge of the Sith?

(Please don't hit me, Death.)

New Kid on the Block

Experiencing bad writer's block with regard to my Substantial. Prayers, friendly advice and spare paragraphs would be welcomed. I think I'm going to start working on something else, like my final paper for Managing National Security, which is short and ought to "write itself". Not that you care, but, y'know, if I only posted things I thought people would care about, this blog would be a much less frequently updated affair indeed.

Thank You, Mr. Orenstein. Thank You So Much.

Did you realize that the same guy is responsible for Transformers and poker on TV? Henry Orenstein, an 81-year old Holocaust survivor, invented both the Transformers toys and the first poker table with cameras that can capture the pocket cards (without which poker on TV would be impossible). One man, responsible for so much of my goofing off from age 5 to today.