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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

PLUS, EVERYONE KEEPS TALKING LOUDER AND LOUDER 

Not only are we told it's getting hotter on Planet Earth, but now we learn the light is moving faster too. And not just here, but everywhere.

THAT CERTAIN SPECIAL SOMETHING 

Great post by Daniel Drezner on Gephardt vs. Edwards as Kerry's running mate. After pointing out that the two aren't all that different on their policy positions, he reminds us of something more important:
So is there a difference? As one of those still on the fence, yeah, in my mind there's a difference. If Kerry picks Gephardt, there's no chance in hell I'm pulling the donkey lever. If he picks Edwards... I dunno. When I see Richard Gephardt on television, all I can think of is, "idiotic protectionist." When I see John Edwards on television, I think, "Hmmm... seems like an OK guy, maybe he's not as much of a protectionist as I suspect."

Why is this?
Policy is not the only thing that matters in making political choices. There is such a thing as political skill. For example, the most important gift in campaigning is the ability to say something a voter disagrees with while making that voter think you're still a good guy.

Reagan had it. Clinton had it. Edwards has it.

Gephardt doesn't have it.
Nor, I hasten to add, does Kerry. And while I don't think Kerry is stupid enough to pick Gephardt, he may well be vain enough not to pick Edwards.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

SPINNING MAKES ME DIZZY 

I listened to Hugh Hewitt's radio show last night and admired his textbook cross-examination of a steady stream of loony Farenheit 911 fans (plus one loony right wing conspiracy theorist) who called in To Set Hugh Straight. He asked each and every one of them what part of the movie they found most persuasive (they all seemed unprepared for the question even though he was a one-trick questioner here). Whatever they answered, he had the facts to counter it. You could hear the callers' gears seize up.

I'm a lousy cross-examiner myself. The only time I did a succesful cross examination, I began to realize the witness was testifying while drunk. Although I can't be sure that all of the callers were sober, Hugh's cross-examinations were almost TV drama-like in their succinctness. Aha!

The parade of rebuttal, while entertainingly delivered, merely cemented my determination not to see the movie. You see, I am a terribly manipulable. Especially by movies. I cried at E.T., weeped while fuming at myself for being such a sap, then laughed, exactly where the filmakers had decreed that I should. It's something about the visual input. Don't send me mean mail. I know I'm pathetic. It's beyond repair. I once cried at an affecting episode of The Bionic Woman
.
OK, I was very young then. But I still don't trust myself. Mr. Moore himself protests he isn't "trying to pretend that this is some sort of, you know, fair and balanced work of journalism." So if I were to see the movie I'd have to take the time to study up on all the misrepresentation exposes, to counter the influence potential. Hugh may have time to both marshal the facts and watch the movie, but I have better things to do.

Monday, June 28, 2004

PIRATE MANIA 

In one of those cute life coincidences that can make stoner kids go "whoa!" I happened to watch Pirates of the Caribbean (DVD at home) on Friday night and attend Pirates of Penzance on Saturday (Guthrie Theater).

I started enjoying the Caribbean Pirates as soon as Johnny Depp appeared (up until then it was set-up-the-story scenes; necessary and mercifully quick) but the Penzance Pirates left me scrambling for something to praise (what great costumes! maybe I should start mixing hot pink and orange in my wardrobe) when I ran into a neighbor at intermission. It didn't help that the audience started chortling during the introductory remarks (please turn off your cell phones ha! ha! ha!) leaving me feeling like a space alien missing that essential human humor impulse. It always seems to take me longer than those guffawers to get into a production and the immediate merriment of others simply makes me fume, slowing the process still further. But there was a keystone cops scene 2/3 of the way through won me over and by the time Queen Victoria descended from the clouds in a balloon I was finally enjoying the spectacle.

So today I'm going to wear an orange dress.

UPDATE: Coincidentally (whoa!), Lileks today laments the absence of group guffawers; without them, he says, the last Marx Brothers movie is less funny than it otherwise would have been. But I'm guessing the movie (I haven't ever seen it) just ain't funny today and even group laughter wouldn't save it.

Friday, June 25, 2004

SOME SLOPPY SOLIPSISM FOR YOU (though our traffic logs confirm you are mere imaginary figments) 

I have the answers to all your most important questions:
Q: Why has it been so [... Expletive Deleted ...] cold here this spring/summer? A: Because after years of planning and saving, this April I finally installed central air conditioning.

Q: How will the handoff of sovereignty in Iraq go?
A: It will be an absolute disaster because June 30 is my birthday.
UPDATE: someone in the administration must have read this and discovered the unacceptable risk posed by the original date; they moved up the handoff by two days to June 28.

TWISTED TITLE #30 

This week's incorrect children's title:
101 Ways to Welcome the Substitute Teacher
(Alternative Title: "101 Uses For Spiders and Snakes")
To see last week's title, click here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

MY MOB 

Sales of Clinton's memoir "My Life" are reportedly setting records. In New York City Clinton was greeted like a rock star with cheers and groupies:
I'm smitten with him," said Lisa Borinsky, a furniture maker from New Jersey who arrived on Monday evening to sleep in line. "The only true aphrodisiac in this world is power and the man exudes power, which makes him unbelievably attractive.
Even here in the Twin Cities, although there were no mobs (this is, after all, the Midwest), someone bought a copy at the downtown Barnes & Noble "every five minutes or so." So what's going on in Jacksonville?
There was one customer waiting to buy My Life when owner Rona Brinlee opened the Book Mark in Atlantic Beach Tuesday morning. And there was one person at the door when Barnes & Noble on Atlantic Boulevard opened.

"But I think he was waiting for the coffee," said Jennifer Grey, a department manager.

Staci Wyatt, general manager at Books-A-Million on Atlantic Boulevard, said there had been a few sales of My Life that morning, along with a few calls from customers.

"But as far as it flying off the shelves," she said, "it's not. Maybe people are waiting for the reviews."
Or maybe they've already seen the reviews.

(Thanks to John for the tip)

A THESAURUS, A CONCORDANCE, AND TWO ATLASES WALK INTO A BAR 

The central tome in my bathroom library these days is a second-hand paperback copy of The Reader's Companion to World Literature. A sort of abridged literary encyclopedia, it includes brief entries, ranging in length from a few sentences to a few pages, on everything from noted authors and famous works to technical terms and historical periods.

Many of the entries are biographical sketches, and each of these opens according to a set format. The first line begins with the subject's name in bold, follows this with a phrase giving the subject's provenance and primary mode of expression, and ends with the subject's lifespan in parentheses. Only then does the essay begin in earnest.

Like this:
Joyce, James: Irish novelist (1882-1941). Joyce has exerted a profound influence on modern literature, though he wrote only six books--a slim volume of verse, a play, and four books of fiction.
Or this:
Sophocles: Greek dramatist (c. 496-406 B.C.). Sophocles was to the Greeks a kind of "tragic Homer," hailed as the favorite of the gods and honored by the state with sacrifices long after his death.
Got the general idea? Good. Now check out this one:
Bergson, Henri: French philosopher and psychologist, primary exponent of "psychological" time, which is subjective, as against clock-time, which (like calendar-time) represents arbitrary measurements of duration in the interest of conformity (1859-1941).
Not exactly a side-splitter, but "heh"-worthy in my book. Er, so to speak.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

THEN DOES SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH MAKE YOU SAD? 

Love makes you dumb and happiness makes you mean.

Monday, June 21, 2004

THEORISING SELF-REALIZATION: UNBALANCED CHAKRAS EVERYWHERE 

Michael Blowhard of 2Blowhards invents a new field: yoga sociology. He categorizes typical studio clientele (one "hippie-dippie-ish yoga place" attracts "overweight, middle-aged, frizzy-haired therapist-esque women; they generally have a hard time not talking and look like they've never exercised before in their lives"), asks why Asian women, but not Asian men show up for public posing classes, and examines the clothing:
The occasional guy does show up in class wearing Lycra-ish shorts. When this happens, my mid-American background kicks into gear, and loudly. I look at this guy and think, "Dude! No!" Guys in stretch clothes? Rightly or wrongly -- and I can't seem to help this -- I leap to the conclusion that they're either 1) gay, or 2) from a Mediterranean background.
We can't wait for him to broaden our understanding of running kilts.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

BLOG, noun: THE NEXT BEST THING TO A REAL LIVE CONSERVATIVE 

I finally get to scoop our Northern Alliance brethren (admittedly Saturday is a slow blogging day)!

Although our local paper (reg. req. or try this workaround) doesn't seem to know enough conservatives to actually get a live quote (or maybe they just don't want to take the time to call, or experience the aggravation of talking to a righty), they've discovered a quick fix: Power Line!

Today a story ran about a Minneapolis Kerry fundraiser "that's basing its ticket prices on whether you are angry, livid, or mad as hell about the direction of the country." Glancing around for a bit of political diversity, the article ends:
A conservative political Web log, Powerline, posted the group's ticket categories Friday and opined that it was doubtful "a party that defines itself by hate and anger can command the support of a majority of Americans."

Lighten up, Logeland
[fundraiser's chief organizer] said.

"We just decided we wanted to do something a little bit funny," she said. "Rather than traditional sponsors, we'd just try to make it a little more interesting. ... It's a great marketing technique, and I can't tell you how many people have said that it's clever."
Yes King, you do need to start reading the Star Tribune. Rumor has it your blog is next to be quoted when the reporters feel pressure to include a conservative voice.

UPDATE: Hey Elder! I thought you had cancelled your subscription...

Friday, June 18, 2004

ROCK THE VOTE 

Voting for the new Northern Alliance logo ends tonight at midnight. Here's your chance to exert your expert influence on the motley crue.

TWISTED TITLE #29 

This week's incorrect children's title:
Uncle Eddie Will Feel Bad If You Don't Sit On His Lap
To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

HOW MYTHS ARE MADE, PART ONE 

Wednesday gave me not one but two "I can't believe he's actually saying that" moments. The first came from the mouth of Colonel David Hackworth, who was making one of his semi-regular appearances on Fraters fave Dan Barreiro's KFAN radio show. Hack was discussing, in his usual half-penetrating, half-nutty way, how difficult it is to deal with insurgency movements like the one in Iraq, and he related an anecdote purportedly from his Vietnam days about a Marine unit that went into a village to inoculate the children only to have the Viet Cong come in behind them and cut off the kids' arms.

Story sounds familiar, right? That's because it's straight out of the "diamond bullet right through my forehead" monologue mouthed by Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now:
I remember when I was with Special Forces--it seems a thousand centuries ago--we went into a camp to inoculate it. The children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us, and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile--a pile of little arms. And I remember...I...I...I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it, I never want to forget. And then I realized--like I was shot...like I was shot with a diamond...a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, "My God, the genius of that, the genius, the will to do that." Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they could stand that--these were not monsters, these were men, trained contras, these men who fought with their hearts, who have families, who have children, who are filled with love--that they had this strength, the strength to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly.
Neither Hackworth nor Barreiro mentioned the Apocalypse Now connection. Moreover--surprise, surprise--there's no evidence that the story is true, at least according to these three sources. Director Francis Ford Coppola and writer John Milius are said to have attributed the story to one of the film's military advisers, but the chain of proof ends there. And it gets even weirder: Hackworth is rumored by some to have been a model for Colonel Kilgore (the Robert Duvall "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" character), by others as part of the inspiration for Kurtz (beyond the obvious source in Conrad's Heart of Darkness). Is it possible that Hackworth himself was the adviser who gave the story to Coppola and Milius?

In any event, the tale of the pile of hacked-off (or Hacked-off) arms ought not to be trotted out by anyone, let alone Hackworth, without about fourteen levels of disclaimers.

My breath, I will not be holding.

(By the way, just because I listened to Radio K for a while two nights ago and Barreiro for a bit last night doesn't mean I'm two-timing Hugh. It's just that I already have all the VitaGanza, Iraqi currency, and refinanced mortgages I need, thank you very much.)

HOW MYTHS ARE MADE, PART TWO 

Jaw-dropping moment the second came as I was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His guest was Robert Reich, who was flogging his new book, Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America, the apparent premise of which is that liberals are smart and conservatives are dumb. Anyway, near the end of the interview Stewart made a crack that if we want more young people to vote (one of Reich's big beefs) we should bring back the draft. At this Reich perked up, repositioned his voice slightly toward the more conspiratorial end of the register, and claimed that because American troops are (purportedly) stretched so thin in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, the Bush Administration is quietly planning to reintroduce the draft.

This is false. We're talking False-with-a-Capital-F False. Read all about it here. What's more, the source of this canard is apparently one of those circulating e-mails that you and I delete without reading but that Robert Reich repeats on national television.

Tell me again which side is smart and which side is dumb?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

ALL THAT RADIO WORK I DO GIVES ME THE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE 

Driving home from work Tuesday night I was flipping the channels around and landed on Radio K long enough to hear the disc jockey (1) proclaim that he had just learned that the "PJ" in PJ Harvey stands for Polly Jean, and (2) pronounce Dinah Washington's first name not, as any sentient creature would, like that of the person with whom a banjo-strumming someone was in the kitchen, but as if it rhymed with "Tina."

As college radio stations go, Radio K is a good one, but where do they get these people?

Ranks up there with the NPR newscaster I heard refer to "Arn" Carlson and Ann "Whiny-ah" during his wrap-up of the 1994 election. And with my all-time favorite: the KQRS broadcaster (Nancy Rosen, if I remember correctly) who, while reading Big Ten football scores on a Saturday afternoon, called the team from Indiana the "Hosiers."

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

PICK A PECK OF PICKLED VICE PRESIDENTS 

Bored political pundits have been amusing themselves with the quadrennial game of Eeny Meeny Miny Veep. Since Bush has already got one, this party is for the Kerry prize only.

Most pundits can't settle for just one choice but view this as a golden opportunity to write long boring essays mentioning anyone who could possibly be tapped. MSNBC reports "insiders" favor retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni. Stephan Moore at the National Review picks Arlen Specter, Kerry's "ideological soul mate." Martin Peretz of the New Republic recommends Eliot Spitzer. "Seinfeld" producer and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Larry David suggested himself (hey! it worked for Cheney).

But the most impressive reporting is found here:
"In my search for a vice-president, I considered many qualified men and women," Kerry said, announcing his decision at Boston University. "But one man stood apart from the madding crowd as brave, honest, and full of life. One man displayed a true desire to change America for the better—not through political maneuvering, but through hard work. That man was me, 35 years ago."

Monday, June 14, 2004

LICENSE TO SWILL 

"French" and "efficient" are not usually two words I think of in the same breath but I now need to change my tune. Turns out there's a new French wine dubbed Permis de Conduire ("permit to drive")--the term for a French driver's license--designed so you can drink a half bottle and still pass the Breathalyzer test when you're pulled over. In case you missed the point, the wine label mimics a French driver's license.

Pretty cool, non? Each bottle, which retails for 2 euros (about $2.50), is pretty small: good for only two glasses of wine. They claim that the average person can quaff a glass and still pass muster with the French government's draconian .05 blood-alcohol limit. Though how good a $1.25 glass of wine is remains to be seen.

Someone should slap a South Carolina driver's license on one of those cute minibottles here in the States. They'll make millions!

Sunday, June 13, 2004

ARE THEY SAYING THIS MICHAEL MOORE GUY IS OVERWEIGHT? 

The crack young staff of "The Hatemonger's Quarterly" has finally run out of ideas for posts. All they can come up with is disjointed musings:
Man, Michael Moore is really plump.

Although staple guns seem like a really good invention, their use can prove fraught with danger.

Of all the words in the English language, none is as fun to pronounce as "forklift."

Michael Moore sure doesn't eat like he's a Marxist.

We don't care what you say: Black licorice is simply revolting. And, no, we are not attempting any metaphorical social commentary.

“Speed-o” bathing suits tend to look really bad on men.

If Gary Coleman and Emmanuel Lewis got in a fight, we’d pick Gary Coleman to win. After all, he’s had to deal with far more personal hardship.

Michael Moore is so portly.
Oh wait ... just a dream sequence.

I should have known. You can't possibly fill up an entire blog up with Michael Moore references, can you?

Friday, June 11, 2004

IT'S A STICK-UP 

You know how parents attach admission stickers to the backs of little kids? (You don't? Well, now you do.) That way the kids don't notice them, peel them off and then cause a scene when they are forcibly ejected from the Play Place appearing on the sticker (not that I've ever seen anyone forcibly ejected for a non-sticker wearing violation but you never know).

Well it works on adults too. The three year put some Garfield stickers (aka "contraband") on my back this morning. My workplace is casual on Fridays, but not that casual. Plus, I loathe Garfield.

I'm consoling myself with a Manhattan at the moment.

EVENT WATCH 

Virginia Postrel is coming to the Twin Cities! She's speaking on Tuesday June 15 (6pm) at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. About her book, "The Substance of Style," of course.

And don't forget to tune in to the Northern Alliance Radio Network this Saturday (and every Saturday), noon to 3pm. Well, if you're within 7 miles of Eagan, Minnesota that is (they're working on that Internet feed but they only got WiFi on May 25 so give it some time...). This week there's a contest and a special guest (Steven Hayward, author of "The Age of Reagan)."

UPDATE: contest link activated.

TWISTED TITLE #28 

This week's incorrect children's title:
Mommy and Daddy Didn't Really Go On Vacation--They're Making You a Ward of the State
To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

MY APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE FOR THE PUN THAT EVOKES AN EXTREMELY DISTURBING MENTAL IMAGE INVOLVING A CERTAIN FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 

As I was flipping through the TV channels in an insomniacal haze during the wee hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning this past weekend, I came across a 1991 interview of Lou Cannon by Brian Lamb on C-SPAN concerning Cannon's book published that year, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. The interview had obviously been dusted off upon the news of Reagan's death a few hours earlier.

Lamb looked exactly the same 13 years ago as he does now; it seems that he like Angela Lansbury and Peter Graves was born looking 50 years old, will live for twice that long, and will die looking 50 years old. For his part Cannon may have been the most untelegenic person I have ever seen: round frame and jowly face, a floppy knit tie that he appeared to have knotted with his feet, glasses wrought from the windshield of a 1963 Buick, unkempt hair topped by a hideous comb-over (why do people do that?), and some sort of acid reflux problem that had him suppressing a belch every 15 seconds.

Eh? What about the substance of the interview, you say? Hey, it was the middle of the night and I was half awake. I did get the sense, however, that Cannon did not agree with Reagan on many political issues but was very knowledgable about the workings of the Reagan Administration and had done his best to write a fair account. If the reviews on Amazon are any indication, my sense was not mistaken--indeed, The Role of a Lifetime seems to be very well regarded by people of all political stripes. (I haven't read the book myself, so this is all I have to go on.)

But at the close of the interview Cannon made one assessment that I think is flat-out wrong. Lamb asked him if we will ever elect another actor as President; Cannon responded no, reasoning that the world of Reagan's youth, the world from which Reagan the actor and Reagan the politician emerged, no longer exists.

Now, it's true enough that the world which formed Reagan no longer exists, but the conclusion Cannon drew from this is a non sequitur. When Reagan came of age in the early decades of the 20th century, movies and radio were new, television was science fiction, and the Internet was unthinkable. I imagine that an entertainer becoming a politician in those days was about as likely as a trained seal becoming an accountant. Today the border between politics and entertainment has become so fuzzy that crossing over is easy in both directions--Schwartzenegger, Ventura, Bono, Eastwood, etc., etc., winning elections on the one hand, Giuliani and Gore clowning on SNL and Dole plumping for Viagra on the other. Isn't it precisely because the world of Reagan's youth no longer exists that the entertainment industry seems fated, sooner or later, to cough up another President?

(I mean no disrespect to President Reagan in all this, by the way. He was a great, historically pivotal President, and he was the recipient of my first vote 20 years ago, which I suppose makes me part of the club. I just have no interest in writing the 50,001st encomium to him.)

NOW HERE'S AN ENCOMIUM WORTH WRITING 

Robert Quine, a fabulous guitarist you've probably heard but never heard of, was found dead last Saturday. He was a master of the choking-cat sound (not to be confused with the cat-falling-down-the-stairs sound perfected by Marc Ribot on those Tom Waits albums), but his playing was always rooted in the eternal verities of rock-and-rollers like Chuck Berry and James Burton and Link Wray. His work with Richard Hell and the Voidoids on Blank Generation was an essential component of an essential album. And if you're wondering why I said you've probably heard him, well, remember this record?

R.I.P., Robert.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

I LIKE THE PART ABOUT THE "ADONIS CHROMOSOME" 

Superstar geneticist Bryan Sykes is a pithy interviewee:
My guess is that the Y chromosome of every living man has spent at least one generation in the testis of a warlord
Sykes, the author of 2001 best seller "The Seven Daughters of Eve," has recently published a sort of sequel: "Adam's Curse: A Future Without Men." Besides transposing the Battle of the Sexes to the genetic realm, Sykes predicts the decline of the male gender:
By my estimate, in about 5,000 generations - 125,000 years - male fertility will be roughly 1 percent of what it is now. Mutations in Y chromosomes are already known to reduce male fertility. So I see a slow decline in men's fertility until, eventually, men can no longer breed naturally.
Silver lining? 125,000 years may be enough time for lots of easy boy-doesn't-meet-girl jokes to be made.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

AND HERE'S A PIC OF ME ROBBING THAT BANK 

Predicting the ramifications of new technology is a nice cottage industry for some journalists but it's kind of like predicting the weather in Minnesota. The weathermen here are always incomplete (yesterday they said it would be warm; we ended up hitting a record); often they're just flat-out wrong. The bar being so low leads to an inordinate amount of amateur prognostication to add to all the professional missteps.

Take digital cameras. I guess it's predictable that gyms would start banning them, but it's a little surprising the New York subway system feels the need to follow suit (NYC Transit claims the ban will hamper terrorism)? And who would have thought that images shot by amateurs would spark one of the biggest news stories of the Iraq war.

It's a News of the Weird phenomenon: people actually use the cameras to document their own misdeeds! Which makes me wonder: does the presence of amateur photographers change people's behavior? Bad behavior could be staged solely for the camera's benefit. But it seems just as possible to me that taking pictures of behavior could take the place of committing even worse acts.

Today our local paper reported that after 2 squad cars collided "three or four teenage boys yelled at the officers and took pictures of them while the officers were disoriented." A "few members of the crowd were yelling that someone should take the officers' guns and badges. "That did not happen," said the police spokesman. Did the fact that the kids had taken the pictures increase or decrease the possibility of further mischief? Did it have any effect at all? We study the role of groups in leading to socially unacceptable behavior (sometimes it leads to improved performance). The effect of the ubiquitous availability of digital cameras seems also worthy of exploration.

Spitbull's prediction? It's gonna rain.

Monday, June 07, 2004

I LIVE IN POPVILLE 

The Warrior Monk once found a map showing purchase patterns for books about current politics fascinating. I find a map showing the distribution of generic names for soft drinks fascinating (via GeekPress).

If Mr. Campbell could just somehow correlate the names with the political leanings, perhaps Mr. W. Monk would show some interest and emerge from his rock. And, since we're making mapping requests here, I'd like one that shows us the "frappe"/"milkshake" divide. I'm sure it would be most illuminating.

Friday, June 04, 2004

TWISTED TITLE #27 

This week's incorrect children's title:
Go To Your Room and Play With Matches
To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

GRANDFATHER ME IN 

Lileks thinks the ACLU's anti-cross crusade (against the official seal of the City of Los Angeles) is a case of bad prioritization. He's right. We need a legal concept that protects historical artifacts and customs against being destroyed in the name of modernity. It should be a balancing test (the law is chock full of these anyway): balance the harm caused by the historical artifact/custom against how cool it is. Kind of a laches concept, but dusted with aesthetics.

Italy has such a legal concept. It protects the reenactment of the battle of St. Constantine involving guys on horses trying to push other guys off their horses with sticks, all while galloping at break-neck speed around an old church ringed with cheering townspeople. Horses get hurt, people get hurt (all of which is lovingly videotaped and played over and over again in slow motion for visitors so we can understand the full glory of the experience even though it is late at night and I am dead tired and I don't understand the dialect). Of course, Italy has laws against cruelty to animals (and, I suppose, endangering spectators) all of which are violated by this spectacle. But it's cool, and it's been around for a long time so it's allowed to continue and I hope to go back and see it again someday.

Plus, come se dice, "slippery slope"? Dustbury admits that Oklahoma City's seal has a cross in it too. Eugene Volokh points out that the Spanish translation of "Los Angeles" is even more churchy than the seal and suggests that it be renamed. Then there's the Warrior "Monk"! Well, perhaps the ACLU could do some good there...

ACCUSED! 

Holy moly is Hugh sending some traffic our way today! And while we admit to not knowing the difference between Warren County, Ohio and the City of Warren, Ohio, this doesn't automatically lead to the conclusion that we fabricated his wish list. Any more than the fact that Hugh Hewitt can't tell a she (me, Eloise, discoverer of said list) from a he (the Warrior Monk, creator of this blog who hides under rocks and probably wouldn't know how to create a wish list if you held a gun to his head) means Hugh fabricated Spitbull. Sadly, we understand the only way to uncover the list's creator is to serve a subpoena on Amazon. So you'll just have to trust our word that we are innocent.

Ball's in your court, Hugh.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

WE SHOULD HAVE LET THEM EAT CAKE 

Constitutional Law professor Paul F. Campos deconstructs the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and finds not constitutional issues, but "fat issues" at its heart:
In fact, Monica's behaviour was characteristic of women who seek evidence that they possess an attractiveness to men that the culture tells them dozens of times a day is reserved for the sort of extraordinarily thin women they can never become. Similarly, Clinton's own self-destructive promiscuity can in part be understood as a symptom of the grown man who's never got over being the fat kid seeking affirmation of his desirability.

Despite all this, Clinton did his best - according to Dick Morris and others - to be 'good' during the 1992 presidential campaign and the first two years of his presidency. Perhaps not coincidentally this was the only period during Clinton's presidency when he was eating exactly what he wanted on a regular basis.
This revelation inspired Professor Campos to explore the role of fat in politics and "the world more generally." He recently published The Obesity Myth arguing that fat people can be healthier than thin folks. As an unfat but unhealthy person, I must reluctantly concede that he probably has a point.