Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Nuclear Deal

OK, cooler heads appear to have preailed in the Senate. I've never really believed that the nuclear option would happen, although in the past few days it has appeared more and more likely. If this deal goes through, what will the political fall-out be?

I'm not sure anyone really loses. Frist gets to demonstrate his conservative bona fides, without institutional consequences. GOP moderates flex their muscles. Reid and the Democratic stalwarts still have the filibuster, and for them this was never about Owen and the other appellate judges, anyway, in my opinion, but about the Supreme Court. Democratic moderates show their relevance in an increasingly partisan institution.

Wait--Cheney loses the opportunity to do his presiding officer on the Titanic routine. So I guess maybe he loses? And if I were the president, I wouldn't be so happy about this, given the possible filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. The nuclear option is untenable in a Supreme Court nomination fight. Did the GOP moderates just throw the president under the bus?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Light Posting Until June 2

Unless I find a cybercafe and rent a computer for a few hours, this is probably it for FFB until June 2, when I will be back in C-Town. I hope that the five or six regular readers of this blog come back next month. I hope to be able to post photos from our trip, and I will have many, many reflections on the Great State of Utah, I'm sure.

Until then, happy web-surfing.

Progress on the Real Estate Front

Well, we had an offer on the house (Friday). The offer price was a little low, so we made a counter-offer today. We are optimistic that we will have an acceptance before we leave town; if not, maybe a new counter-offer? (For those non-lawyers out there, a counter-offer acts as a rejection of the original offer; so the ball is in the prospectie buyer's court.)

Nuclear Holiday

Pronounced "New-clee-ur."

Well, the better half and I are off to Utah tomorrow for a week of hiking and sightseeing. I think Bill Frist planned to hold the nuclear option vote while I was away from C-SPAN access all along. That would explain the delay . . . either that, or he doesn't have the votes. What happens tomorrow? I really don't know.

Tomorrow, 7.15 am flight for Salt Lake City--we'll be in Moab by sunset, and then on Wednesday it's Arches National Park. Canyonlands Thursday and maybe Friday; Capitol Reef N.P. (drive-through) and Grand-Staircase Escalante N.M. on Saturday, Bryce Canyon N.P. Sunday; Zion N.P. Monday, and Salt Lake City sights on Tuesday. A bit of a whirlwind tour.

I really need a vacation.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Brilliant Idea (One Week Late)

OK, so the better half and I were at a party tonite, and we were joking with others about those sad, pathetic folks who go to see Star Wars movies in costume. And I had a brilliant idea--attending a Star Wars premiere wearing a Star Trek costume. Plus, pretend that you don't understand that Captain Picard is not the same person as Luke Skywalker. Argue that the Borg were on the Death Star. Isn't Chewie a Klingon? Spock was a Jedi, like Yoda. Really sell the joke with incorrigibility.

Maybe this won't strike others as a brilliant idea (one week late). But if I'd thought of it last weekend, I'm wearing a Starfleet uniform in line with a bunch of Jedi knights.


My working definition of professionalism is this: "Being a professional means doing things you're not paid for." This cuts against the usual definition of professional, which is the opposite of amateur. But the five hours I spent "learning" about professionalism in Baltimore today, as part of my initiation into the Maryland bar, confirms my sense on this. Maryland really stresses the pro bono work, for example.

OK, I have a number of complaints about the session, but who really cares?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Light Posting Over the Coming Weekend

Very busy weekend ahead. I'm driving down to DC this afternoon and seeing the new apartment this afternoon/evening. Then tomorrow is that all-day Professionalism course (cost $ 65) in Baltimore that I've complained about before. Then, moving Frances's stuff out of her UMd apartment. Return to C-Town on Sunday . . . so don't expect a lot of posts this weekend.

Santorum or Frist?

Santorum's comparison of the Democrats to Hitler yesterday has received a lot of attention on the Internets and television. (I even saw the kids on Faux and Friends criticize Santorum this morning.) And I already noted Frist's "assasinate" gaffe from the day before.

So here's the question: Which one (Frist or Santorum) will say the dumbest thing in the continuing debate, not counting what they've already said?

This is a forward-looking question. So no counting Frist's cave to the religious right on how HIV can be tranferred through sweat and tears, and no counting the famous "man-on-dog" argument of Santorum.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Just Go See It

OK--I've seen Episode III, and it is awesome. Go see it. I'll write a review later. Awesome. And dark--something I didn't think Lucas could pull off. I will even take back some of the mean things I've said about Lucas in recent years. Not all, but some.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

This Is Cool

Not your typical IceCube post.

Root Canal Update

The procedure was a success. Not painful at all. One of my regrets leaing C-Town is that I'm leaving behind the best dentist in the world. Dr. Gross at the Healthy Smile (also on the clinical faculty at Case's School of Dental Medicine) is the best dentist I've ever had, anyway.

Not only does he do great work, we listened to the Indians game on the radio (XM) during the procedure. Jake Westbrook pitched a great game but lost it in the ninth when Wedgie left him in the game. I guess this was OK, because Westbrook had pitched great, until then, but why do you have a closer on the payroll? It was a 1-0 game in the ninth. That's when you use your closer. Bring out Wickman. Please.

Westbrook falls to 1-7, although his ERA has dropped to 5.88.

Last Name Question

Matt is just wrong in saying that "Adopting your husband's name isn't the worst thing in the world to do, but it's still wrong." And I would be the last person to argue that women should adopt their husband's last name. I see this as purely a matter of personal choice. There's no "right" or "wrong" choice here.

Matt should remember that a woman's last name is usually her father's last name, which her mother typically adopted at marriage. So a woman's typical choice is keeping one man's name or adopting another man's name. I don't see the feminist principle at work here.

The better half and I run into this from time to time, because we have the same last name. Many academics think this is strange. One female colleague once asked me what my last name was. I smiled at her. I said "Lee." She replied: "I don't know any married couples with the same last name." So that makes us, um, non-conformists, I guess.

Schumer's Question

Schumer just asked Frist about his March 2000 vote against cloture on the Paez nomination. Frist answered that the issue wasn't cloture, but the up-or-down vote. Huh? Of course, if cloture had failed in that case, there wouldn't have been a vote, right?

Frist just said that the filibuster is "assassinat[ing]" these nominees! What?

Update: Durbin later got up and chastised Frist for his use of language. It's ironic that the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on judicial security this morning.

New Link!

OK, so I'm still experimenting with Blogger. I just figured out how to edit the link list to the right. See it, over there? Yes, long-time readers of FFB will notice a new link, to my friend Celine's blog about her adentures working in the former-Soviet Republic of Georgia.

My plan with the link list is to link only to blogs maintained by friends of mine. But since very few of my friends maintain blogs, the list is short. This should encourage all of you to start a blog. it's fun, and it's not like you don't waste tons of time surfing the 'net anyway.

I guess you could call me a Blogangelical now. (With the faith of the converted.)

Root Canal

So I have a root canal scheduled for 1 pm this afternoon. Not looking forward to that.

Nuclear Option: It Ain't Beanbag, People

Well, I've said (most of) this in print, so I guess it can't hurt to blog it. (The article is at 30 Ohio Northern Law Review 235 (2004).)

The Framers intended the appointment process, including that for federal judges, to be political. So it's not the Democrats (or the Republicans) who have politicized the process. It was designed that way. The Framers divided the appointment power to prevent the concentration of power; as a necessary consequence, politics enters into the process. Now, for most of U.S. history, lower court judgeships were essentially patronage jobs, and so there was a low level of conflict over nominations. So the politicization we have seen in the last decade is new, but there's nothing inconsistent with the Framers' vision for the process today. That goes even if we consider the filibuster, which everyone should know was not part of the Framers' design. Once you say that the process is political, then the use of political powers in the process hardly seems to be open to criticism.

Does that mean that the Republican majority shouldn't change the rules and eliminate judicial nominations filibusters? No--that would be political, too. So the Republicans can use their powers to further their agenda. It's just politics, folks. All of the moralistic arguments aside, in a system such as ours, there's nothing wrong with politics. (Personally, I oppose the move, but I'm not going to pretend that my opposition is based on some high-falutin' principles.)

But if Frist succeeds in eliminating judicial filibusters, I think that the Republicans will live to rue the day, as the saying goes. First, I think that this is bad politics for the party as a whole. The gain from changing the rules is not great. At most, it eliminates a (potential) filibuster of a future Supreme Court nomination and puts a few appellate judges on the bench. The costs are potentially much greater. Although the news media keep emphasizing how complicated the story is, there's an easy narrative that the Democrats can tell if this goes through. Here it is: "Changing the rules in the middle of the game." That's one that could hurt the GOP in 2006 and beyond. (Now, the politics here for Frist and a few others are clear, on an individual basis; but the collective gain is rather small.)

Add to this the fact that getting those "moderate" senators to go along will have a cost, too. (That is, if the GOP still engages in logrolling.)

Second, of course, the GOP will not always be the majority party. So the GOP will set a precedent that the Senate minority can be stripped of its prerogatives through simple majoritarian procedures. Not a great idea.

Third, if Frist succeeds, the GOP loses an issue that fires up some members of the base. They might have to actually deliver on something substantive if the Faux News crew loses this perpetual talking point. (This is the same thing with Roe v. Wade. If Roe were overruled tomorrow, what would the Religious Right do with itself? Say goodbye to single issue pro-life voters, folks.) Better to keep the issue of "Democratic obstructionism" than to eliminate it. (This is a cynical point, but we are talking politics here.)

With all that said, my prediction is that the nuclear option will fail.

If Frist had the votes, they would have done this sooner. So there's no guarantee that he has the votes now. And, as the better half suggested to me, you don't schedule a long debate if you already have the votes. My guess is that the leadership thinks that it can get the votes by the time the vote will take place. Maybe, but that's a risky strategy in a body like the Senate. And Frist has never impressed me with his leadership abilities. He's no "Master of the Senate."

The president's influence won't be the decisive factor, either. With his current poll numbers and lame duck status, senators facing re-election at some point won't be swayed one way or the other by the White House.

Plus, I've heard some commentators suggest that Frist wins, in his presidential ambitions, even if the nuclear option fails. I think that's true. (See above.) So it's possible (but not likely) that Frist knows he'll lose, but intends to force the issue to gain the issue for 2008. (I wouldn't put anything past him.)

Update (10 am): The debate has begun. I'm watching Frist's opening speech. Let me just say this speech won't go down in history as a model of senatorial eloquence. If I didn't know better, I'd say Frist was filibustering himself. He keeps repeating the same phrases, over and over again. Or, should I say, "up or down" again and again.



Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It's a Super Suprise

Well, Mr. Bennett has retired. He was the assistant superintendent during my years at VCL (I think). Anyway, lots of change at Vandercook Lake High School. This is really news, given that Mr. Andrews was the superintendent for 50 years, or something like that. (He died last year.)

My favorite Mr. Andrews story: Mr. Andrews's office was in the cafeteria/band room wing of the high school; if you walked by, you could see him in there--the office had a glass wall. But he was like 80 years old, so none of us (wise 16-18 year olds) ever thought he was anything but a doddering old geezer. Then, at an honors assembly or something--I believe it was my senior year, 1986-87--Mr. Andrews got up to speak, and after some initial pleasantries, he recited Casey at the Bat, verbatim, from memory. I remember how shocked we all were at this feat of memory and, frankly, dramatic presentation. From that day on, I had a special respect for "old man Andrews."

I got an email about this surprise for Mr. Bennett from a classmate at VCL, Gary Watters. I haven't seen Gary in person since, what?, 1987, but he sent me an email about this. Now that's what I call consideration. I look forward to seeing Gary and the other members of the VCL Class of 1987 at out 20th reunion in two years.

No Offer

Turns out that the "interested party" had flight problems and never showed up. Well, OK, seemed too good to be true, anyway. But I'm still disappointed.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Waiting on an Offer?

Our real estate agent suggested that we might get an offer this evening, but no word, yet. I was optimistic, but we'll see. I really don't want to get out of the U.H. house before July 1, but I am flexible. I'm not sure what I'll do with my July--I will have some time on my hands . . . .

Long Day

OK, so I drove to Towson (Maryland) today, from Cleveland, for a 15 minute interview on character and fitness. The interview went well, but really, I drove six hours for it. Then the better half bought some new stuff at REI for our Utah trip. Details on that to follow.

I'm tired. More posts tomorrow. I promise.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Apocalypse

Now, one might think of the End of the World as a bad thing--death, destruction, anarchy, etc. But in the apocalyptic tradition, the End of the World precedes the Millenium, a Second Golden Age. Plus, all the bad people (the ungodly) get slaughtered in the Apocalypse, which, in a way, gives the godly their chance to exact revenge on the godless and ungodly for all their iniquity.

Some choice quotations on this subject, with commentary.

First, from George Steiner, In Bluebeard's Castle (discussing nineteenth century ennui: "It is precisely from the 1830s onward that one can observe the emergence of a characteristic 'counterdream'--the vision of the [modern] city laid waste . . . . An odd school of painting develops: pictures of London, Paris, or Berlin seen as colossal ruins, famous landmarks burnt, eviscerated, or located in a weird emptiness among charred stumps and dead water." (p. 19)

There is, even in non-religious art, a curious fascination with images of destruction on a large scale. I think of semi-recent movies such as Independence Day, Armageddon, and Deep Impact, the last two about asteroids and comets, one of which has a surprisingly biblical name. Now, in film, the End of the World serves a dramatic purpose, placing characters in an extreme situation. But those special effects guys love crumbling buildings--or, at least, they did before 9/11. I can't think of a big explosion movie since then. Although, I don't think that it's a stretch to suggest that the replaying of the WTC footage from 9/11, over and over again, worked on a similar level.

Second, Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millenium: "The coming of Antichrist was even more tensely waited. Generation after generation lived in constant expectation of the all-destroying demon whose reign was indeed to be lawless chaos, an age gien over to robbery and rapine, torture and massacre, but was also to be the prelude to the longed-for consummation, the Second Coming and the Kingdom of the Saints. People were always on the watch for 'signs' which, according to the prophetic tradition, were to herald and accompany the final 'time of troubles'; and since the 'signs' included bad rulers, civil discord, war, drought, famine, plague, comets, sudden deaths of prominent persons and an increase in general sinfulness, there was never any difficulty about finding them." (p. 35)

The point here is that the End of the World was something that people, at least some people, wanted to happen. Cohn argues that those members of the lower strata of society, displaced by social and economic upheavels in the Middle Ages, were drawn to Millenialism because of its promise of destruction of the existing order (and its replacement by the Kingdom of the Saints).

At first, one wants to say that this kind of apocalyptic thinking demonstrates an otherworldly worldview, so to speak--a rejection of this world and an eagerness for the next. But most millenialistic thinking posits an earthly millenium. (Rejected by Augustine, but that's another story.)

The frustrated, the displaced, the rejected--such people dream apocalyptic dreams. George Steiner suggests that the bored also dream apocalyptic dreams. Steiner also points in a Freudian direction with his references to Civilization and Its Discontents. Freud posits two instincts--the life instinct and the death instinct, or Love and Strife--as warring in the human psyche. The life instinct, Eros, love, brings people together. The death instinct, Thanatos, divides them. Freud also posits that the greater the triumph of social order, the more internalized the negative aspects of human nature must become; thus, members of civilized societies find themselves wracked by their own consciences, their own anxieties, when external targets of negative emotions/instincts/aggression are cut-off by laws, social mores, etc.

So the Apocalypse can play an important role in the mental/fantasy lives of many different people.

Where is this going? Not sure--just something I've been thinking about. Certainly, the early Mormons believed that they were living in the Last Days.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Coming Attractions

OK--I promise some more posts tomorrow. I've been reading Pursuit of the Millenium most of the day, and I am thinking of a post on the Apocalypse. That's worth waiting for.

"Kirtland is Weird"

So the better half went to the "beauty parlor" today, and while she was there she mentioned our recent visit to the Kirtland Temple. The people in the salon all had an answer: "Kirtland is weird."

So I did some research. Apparently, Kirtland, Ohio, is a kind of nexus of otherwordly forces. There was a (Mormon?) serial killer, there's a crybaby bridge, and, of course, the Melon Heads. Who knew? All these years, and the paranormal was just a few miles away.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday the 13th

Just a quick post to note that today is Friday the 13th. I'm not superstitious, but you won't find me going to any summer camp this evening, either.

Speaking of Curatasauras

If there's anyone reading this blog who is not posting comments, I have assurances from the Curatasaurus that he will behave and not viciously attack you if you post a comment every now and then. That is, assuming that fear of the Curatasaur is keeping you from posting comments.

Teaching Evaluations

Received the written comments from my Spring courses' teaching evaluations today. I was really surprised at how positive the reviews from my POSC 109, Intro to U.S. Government course, were. I mean, you can never tell with these kids nowadays. They stare at you for 14 weeks, not wanting to discuss the material, and then they express how much they enjoyed the class, including discussion (?). My only conclusion is that most classes are so boring that even a semi-interesting class seems excellent by comparison. That has to be it, because by any objective standard, that course was not very good. I know, I was there.

I also think its hilarious when students say: "This course needs more homework." I mean, who are these kids? Is this just a nasty prank to play on the next batch of podlings? Or are they serious--they really want more homework?

There's more to life than homework (and grades), even if Case kids don't think so. That's a sentiment that I'm sure Curatasaurus will agree with.

New Computer Update

I'm loving the new PowerBook, but I am haing trouble importing my old email files using my external hard drive. I am worried that I won't be able to figure out how to transfer the iTunes library either. I thought that just dragging the files would work, but so far, no luck.

I'm also not sure how much effort I should expend trying to set up my new computer to use my Case account, since that receives almost 100% spam at this point. Besides, that account will be moribund at some not-too-distant point in the future.

I also haven't installed the software that goes with my digital camera. I thought I might experiment with iPhoto, again. Three years ago it was too primitive in the editing category, but it may be adequate now. All of my photos are backed up on the external hard drive, which works fine with the PowerBook.

Today's lesson: The more things you use a computer for, the harder it is to switch over to a new machine.

No Man Knows My History by Fawn M. Brodie

As mentioned below, in a post in which I get the title of the book wrong, I've been reading this book, the leading, non-authorized biography of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. This is the second edition, 1971; the original was published in 1945. I've now finished it--which partly explains no posts yesterday.

I highly recommend this book, if you are interested in early nineteenth century U.S. history. The story of Joe Smith is connected to U.S. history in so many ways--for example, the religious enironment of that period, which saw the rise of all sorts of religious moements, from Unitarianism, to Seventh-Day Adventists, Shakers, and Mormons, of course. Brodie ties these developments into the period, the U.S. context, the frontier and the loosening of authority. I should also add that Smith ran for president in 1844, but he was killed before the general election in Carthage, Illinois. Brodie's thesis is that it was Smith's breaching of the wall between church and state that caused him the most trouble, in the end, and not polygamy. (Plus, if you live in Illinois, like Curatasaurus, you might find the book especially interesting.)

But, of course, there's quite a bit on polygamy in the later chapters. The most interesting point is that Joseph Smith's (first) wife, Emma, kept the truth of Jospeh's ways from herself, for a long time, and then, when the truth was undeniable, continued to deny it. Their relationship, after a certain point, was one in which he kept his polygamous relationships and that she denied them to herself. A strange relationship, indeed.

Also interesting was that Smith married women who were already married--sometimes to other leading Mormons. In later years, this kind of thing was not Church policy; but in those heady early days, this was one step away from some kind of "free love."

Maybe more on the book later in the day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

An Interesting Literalist Puzzle

Reading Fawn Brodie's No One Knows My History, a biography of Joseph Smith (Knopf 2d ed. 1971). In the Book of Mormon, the Jaredites bring animals to the New World from the Levant. But Brodie adds this interesting observation:

This little detail regarding cargo, flung casually into the story, partly settled the question of how animals had come to America, a problem men had puzzled over for centuries. Some believed that angels had carried them, others that God created two Adams and two Edens. One historian, in speculating on whether or not the animals had been brought in boats, was mystified by the presence of cougars and wolves in the New World. 'If we suppose those first peoples so foolish as to carry such pernicious animals to new countires to hunt them, we cannot still think them to have been so mad as to take also many species of serpents for the pleasure of killing them afterward.' (pp. 71-72)

This would seem to be a particular problem, for a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, especially after the Flood. If Noah landed the ak, with cougars, wolves, and serpents aboard, on Mount Ararat, why are there wolves in the New World? How did they get there?

The options:
(1) Angels (or other miracle);
(2) Boats;
(3) Land bridge (in the last 5000 years on a young earth?).

Where is intelligent design on this, I wonder?

BTW, expect more posts on the Brodie book. Absolutely fascinating.

LeBron, What Are You Thinking?

The Plain Dealer reports that Cleveland Cavalier superstar LeBron James has fired his agent and will now be represented by, well:

"It was confirmed from a source close to the situation that James' close friends, Maverick Carter, Randy Mims and Rich Paul would become his management team."

The world's fourth-highest paid sports personality is now represented by a high school buddy named Maverick. This is a major mistake, the kind that a 20 year old might make, if he was being advised by a guy named Maverick. I guess Bron and those around him think that money will just fall from the sky, and that it doesn't make any sense to pay someone else a commission when you can keep it in the entourage.

Let's be clear--this is a no entourage blog.

Blog Gimmick: Wednesday Koan, No. 2

This may not really be a koan, but it's what I came up with on my run this morning. (And what an excellent run it was. Five-plus miles on fresh legs, beautiful weather.)

"The skunk does not relish his scent."

Meditate on that.

The Real Story of Anakin Skywalker

I had a big problem with Episode I, which told the story of Anakin Skywalker's childhood. Now, generally, children are not interesting from a dramatic point of view. And Anakin as portrayed by Jake Lloyd was not interesting. Lucas's idea for Anakin Skywalker is the wunderkind, frustrated by those in positions of authority--maybe an autobiographical element there? So we get a boy with great powers--and a mysterious virgin birth. The problem with the latter is, of course, that Anakin Skywalker is not Jesus Christ.

Episode II was equally troubled. Lucas seems to think that Anakin's evil stems from adolescent angst. As I said in my review of the that movie: "Romeo slays Tybalt in a rage, but how does he go from there to become Richard III?"

Here's my idea for Anakin Skywalker.

First, the interesting part of Anakin's life starts when he is approaching middle age. He is a Jedi Knight, a skilled practitioner of the Jedi arts and strong in the Force--but not necessarily the most powerful Jedi. He is somewhat frustrated, but not because the members of the Jedi council don't trust him and his powers. He is frustrated by what he perceives as the limitations of his powers. He sees that he will never be the greatest Jedi--and that is his ambition. He also sees that as he has aged, his powers have started to decline; he knows that this process will continue, making his achievement of his ambition even less likely.

Anakin Skywalker becomes attracted to the Dark Side because he thinks that it is the only way he can achieve his ambition. He experiments with dark arts, secret knowledge. And the Dark Side does make him more powerful than he had been. But it also drives a wedge between him and the other Jedi. As the other Jedi become suspicious of his new powers, this gulf expands to where Anakin is driven to use those powers to destroy the Jedi order.

I don't know where the Emperor comes in. But I really hate how Lucas views the Emperor as the puppet-master in the first two movies of the prequel trilogy. Anakin should be lured to the Dark Side by his own ambitions and failings. The latter is very important. It makes Anakin Skywalker an interesting character, as opposed to a petulant youth.

Maybe more later on this topic.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


There's word here that Lucas is working on a Star Wars television series, recounting the 20 years between Episode III and the movie I still call "Star Wars." (BTW, netflix recommended "Star Wars" to me tonite. I ask: is there a person in the Universe to whom that recommendation makes sense? "Hmm. What's this?") The article suggests that the Death Star took 20 years to build. If you remember Episode II's brief flirtation with Death Star plans, you know that Lucas has actually been working the Death Star into the "prequel travesty," er, "prequel trilogy." I just want to say: STOP. First, do no harm.

Tomorrow, I promise to share the real story of Anakin Skywalker. If Mormons can disagree with Joseph Smith, then we can break from the Church of Jedi Knights of Latter-day Prequels. Hallelujah.

Simply Charming


Anyone looking for a house in the inner-ring suburbs of C-Town? This house is awesome. We've lived here almost seven years, and I've fixed everything that's wrong with it.

Brand-New PowerBook

OK, so I decided that I had had it with the old iBook, so I purchased a brand-new PowerBook this afternoon. It's a much more powerful machine than the old one, and I'm running the new "Tiger" OS 10.4. I'm really excited to see how this thing works.

Maryland Bar Admission Gripes

OK, so I passed the exam, but can I actually get admitted to practice?

My character and fitness interview is next Monday, in Towson, MD. Was I planning on being in Maryland next week? Well, actually, I was--on Friday. "Nope, only interviewing on Monday." But see, I'm in Ohio. "I know, but Monday, 5 pm, that's what's available." Nice. (The interview should be a formality, of course.)

Plus, the swearing-in is on a day I was planning on being in Colorado. You have to be sworn-in by the whole court. So looks like I have to pass up AP Grading money or wait until September to get admitted. The latter is not so bad, really, but still gripeworthy.

More Technical Difficulties

Still having problems with the iBook. The Apple helpline guy suggested an archived (?) re-installation of the operating system, but I'm not going that far--yet.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Just Say No, Reggie

Why is Reggie Miller going to retire after this season?

That's all I can think of as I watch the Pacers-Pistons Game One, Eastern Conference Semi-finals (Detroit up by 12 with 4:40 left in the third quarter). Oh, I also keep thinking how much I liked Rick Carlisle as a coach. Not that I dislike Larry Brown, but I really liked Rick Carlisle.

But back to Reggie--why is he retiring? He's old, by NBA standards, but he's still productive and no one can say that he embarrasses himself by his play, by any stretch of the imagination. Is there some kind of nagging injury that I don't know about? So far in the playoffs, he looks to me like a guy with the legs and heart to go at least another season. I know that this gets harder as you age--let's talk about my running some other time--but you will never be able to play at that level again, once you leave it.

Plus, Reggie, you're my last connection to the NBA of my college years. C'mon Reggie, stick around one more year, for me. (I should add, though, Reggie, as a Pistons fan I have never had any love for you. I just don't get the retirement thing, when you are playing at such a high level.)

MBE Score(s)

Received the state law examiners' official letter today. Maryland doesn't inform you of your numerical score on the Maryland essay section of the exam, but it does provide your MBE score(s).

Raw score: 163 (out of 200)

Scaled score: 173

I think I studied too much.

Foot Traffic

In cae anyone is interested, the house is showing like gang busters. Three showings today, at least one tomorrow,for a grand total of eight showings in the first week. My sense in this market is that 10 in the first two weeks is standard. We should top that easily.

Also, tomorrow is the brokers' open, when the real estate agents in the area come in, have some free lunch, and check the place out. That should boost interest, or so I'm told.

Plus, we have lined up a place in D.C., a two-bedroom apartment just off Logan Circle. So things aren't going too badly, housing-wise.

Northeastern Ohio Latter-day Saints

I haven't posted on this before, but the better half and I are very interested in U.S. history, with a keen interest right now in Joseph Smith and the Mormons (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other churches in the Restoration tradition). We're not saints, but we find the movement an interesting one on a variety of levels, religiously and sociologically.

Today we toured some of the important LDS sites in NE Ohio. As some of you may know, Joseph Smith moved the church to NE Ohio, specifically Kirtland, Ohio, in the 1830s. This was one of the church's many moves to escape angry mobs before settling in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. (We are planning a trip to Utah later this month.)

There are a number of sites in NE Ohio:

(1) The original Mormon temple, the Kirtland Temple, completed and dedicated in 1836. It's truly an impressive structure, on top of a hill, restored and renovated in amazing detail. If you live in the C-Town area, this is definitely something that you should see--it's about one mile south of I-90 on OH 306. Very interesting, from an architectural standpoint, and an interesting history lesson, including a short film.

Highlights: the inner courts, with their white pulpits with gold lettering of church officials; the beautiful wordwork; the oval windows. One of the more beautiful churches I have ever been in, no doubt.

The Kirtland Temple is owned by the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized LDS church, one of many splitter groups off the main LDS branch (about 250,000 members).

(2) The John Johnson House, in Hiram, owned by the LDS church. The tour here is much more proselytizing, although Elder Shively (our tour guide) was not overly evangelical. The Johnson house is an important one in LDS doctrine, because the Prophet had a number of important revelations there, in the aptly named Revelations Room.

As someone raised in the Protestant tradition--evangelical, but pretty typical--the idea of sitting in a room, which is a sacred space because of the revelations experienced there, is somewhat alien. It raises all sorts of questions about faith and belief, rationalism and evidence. Maybe when I'm not so tired, I might expand on that.

The house was restored by the church just a few years ago, and it is really something to see. Worth a stop, and the tour is free. They will even give you a Book of Mormon.

Interior details: the paint in each room has been restored to close-to-original color and design. There is some interesting detail on doors and trim in the keeping roon (main kitchen), very organic. The trim in the Revelations Room is pinkish, maybe a melon. Lots of period furniture.

(3) Historic Kirtland, including a reproduction of the ashery and sawmill. Plus, a twenty-plus minute video, definitely of sociological and religious interest. I will post a few additional thoughts on that, when I'm not so exhausted. This, again, is free, but expect to be proselytized--again, gently.

As a bonus, we had lunch at Mary Yoder's Amish Kitchen in Middlefield, and we splurged on the family style baked chicken dinner. Everything is homemade and delicious. If you are in the area, eat here. The desserts are absolutely amazing. One would think that the Amish would abstain from coconut cream pie!

Also a walk at the Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park, which is a smallish park but with two interesting waterfalls.

A full day, and one that I am a little too tired to expand upon now. More later. Maybe some photos, if I can get the blogger-compatible software to post photos.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Indians Lose, Tigers Winning

Well, Westbrook gave up six earned runs in 3.1 innings, and the Tribe loses 7-2. Davis came in to protect the dignity of the script "eye" and gave up one earned run in 3.2 innings; his ERA is now 5.75. Nice work, J.D. Respect.

The Tigers are up 8-0 in the top of the fifth against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels' off-season name change is perhaps the worst name change in the history of name changes. I mean, didn't we all love the old California Angels? The Anaheim Angels won a World Series. But now, it's an L.A. team that plays in Orange County. I guess if the Detroit Lions can play in Pontiac for so many years, and both New York football teams play in New Jersey, it's not really a location thing. But this was a team with a history, not an all-bad history, with another name. Was this just a marketing decision--an attempt to break into the L.A. market? Does the name matter that much?

As so often happens, I just don't get it.

There's No "I" in "Team," But There Is in "Idiot" (and Tribe)

This Plain Dealer article describes Jason Davis's reaction to the infamous "Casey Blake Jersey Prank" that caused the benches to clear in Wednesday's Tribe-Twins game. The Twins, as a joke for a weekly baseball program, put Blake's jersey on the first-base screen during batting practice as a target. Apparently, Blake knew about it, but Davis did not. He threw at a Twins batter late in the game, and then you know what happened.

Here's the key quotation: "I didn't care whose jersey it was," said Davis on Saturday. "It's a Cleveland jersey. You have to respect it. You have to respect the 'I' on your chest."

Respect. That's what it's about. Don't disrespect Chief Wahoo. Don't dis the script "eye." Who are these guys? Gangsta rappers? If so, I can say that Davis's lethal weapon is not his mind (not his fastball, either).

If Wedgie wanted to show respect for the Cleveland jersey, he wouldn't have run Scott Elarton out there last night to face the Rangers. Elarton is now 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA. This afternoon, more dissing of Wahoo. Yep, that's right. Jake Westbrook takes the mound, 1-5, 5.77. Maybe Davis can bean Westbrook in the clubhouse and save the team's honor.

The Cantina Scene Redux

In comments, Curatasaurus Lex points out that the cantinia scene is ruined in the revised/DVD release, anyway, what with extra CGI and then, worst of all, making Han's shooting of Greedo somehow a reaction to Greedo's firing first. I agree whole-heartedly. I much prefer the scene with Han shooting Greedo first, under the table (literally), to the alternatives. But I want to add that Han's shooting of Greedo was always "justified" by the fact that Greedo had his blaster aimed at Han the whole time. Han could certainly shoot pre-emptively, so to speak, to defend himself against a drawn weapon. That's why the revised version(s) never made any sense at all. The idea is that this is the Old West (in space), a shoot-first-or-get-buried-with-your-boots-on environment. My sense was always that this is Han as space pirate, without the good influences of Luke, Leia, etc. He should shoot first--that's in character. (Of course, character is not a concept Lucas is very familiar with.)

Greedo must also be the worst shot ever, in the revised version(s). Not a very convincing bounty hunter. I mean, Greedo's not Boba Fett, or even Steve McQueen.

BTW, I think that the DVD release is slightly different from the theatrical re-release. In the latter, Greedom clearly shoots first. In the former, my sense is that Han and Greedo shoot at the same time. The best version (which I own on VHS): Greedo never gets a shot off.

Just another example of how Lucas's tinkering almost never improves the originals. (And I say "almost" even though I can't think of a contrary case.)

Bombay, the Cleveland of South Asia?

This Washington Post article, "Bombay Moves to Push Out the Poor," is very sad. Don't get me wrong. But two sentences made this seven-year resident of the Comeback City smile.

First (from a government official): "The city is decaying and needs to urgently reinvent itself into an efficient world-class city, like Shanghai and Cleveland did." This is not the comparison that Mayor Campbell and the city leaders use here in C-Town, not even when they discuss the city's "quiet crisis." I can just hear the mayor's tv commercials: "Cleveland--like Shanghai, but on Lake Erie." (Oh, that the economy here were as booming as Shanghai's. But without the repressive "Communist" government.)

Second (from a former resident of a cleared slum): "They say they want to turn this city into Shanghai," Badruddin said, referring to a multibillion-dollar government development program. "I don't know what the word Shanghai means, but it is an excuse to kick poor people in the stomach." No, sir, "Shanghai" means to make your city into a new Cleveland. Then, the state of Ohio can kick your poor people in the stomach.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


So Chewbacca is in Episode III. I'm not bothered by that, not really, but I do have this question: Does Chewie meet up with Obi-Wan in Episode III? I hope not, because that would add a troubling new wrinkle to the meeting of Obi-Wan and Chewie in the cantina on Tatooine. I'm waiting to see if the screenplay keeps Chewie and Obi-Wan apart.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Wireless Network Restored!

This will be a day long remembered. First, I pass the bar exam. Now, it has seen re-establishment of the wireless network. So expect some posts this weekend, including the long-anticipated Chewbacca post.

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend. What I don't understand is why people are so interested in it. I mean, I understand why people like to go to the track--booze and gambling (two out of three ain't half bad). But horseracing without the gambling? And are people drinking when they watch the race on tv, in the middle of the afternoon?

I'm a big P.G. Wodehouse fan, and Bertie Wooster (and Jeeves, of course) loved the horses. But he usually had something riding on the ponies. That can't explain the media's interest in the Kentucky Derby, can it? I also think it's funny how, on tv, you can talk about the odds, but only so long as you never mention that those numbers have anything to do with gambling.

Seat Number 0346: Pass

Well, the list is up and I passed. A round of drinks for everybody.

BTW, Seat Number 0436 didn't pass--and I looked at that one first. Momentary dread . . .

BBTW, when I first clicked on the link from the post below, I really didn't think that the website would be working. So when the page instantly materialized on the screen--with seat numbers and the words "Pass" and "Fail"--I was surprised. There has to be a name for that--when you do something, not thinking it's going to work, and then, boom, it happens instantaneously. This phenomenon may be very common in accidental shootings. (Or when activating the Millenium Falcon's hyperdrive.)

BBBTW--it looks like the Pass rate was pretty close to 50%--certainly no higher than 60%, from my eyeballing of the list.

Completely Irrelevant

Walking back from the gym this afternoon--yeah, I'm working real hard today--I saw, from a great distance, the plainest looking woman I had ever seen. Very plain face, with limp, shoulder-length hair. But as I got closer, I realized that this person was the homeliest guy I had ever seen, with one of the three worst hair cuts ever.

Not really relevant, and not nice at all. But just something to pass the last few minutes before the Maryland bar examiners' website crashes.

Technical Difficulties

The last three days have seen a number of mechanical and computer-related problems. The brand-new deadbolt on the frontdoor broke (now fixed). My computer was overcome by something nefarious--many settings had to be reset. This second problem seems to be affecting my wireless network at the house--but not at work, where I am wirelessly networking as I type. No idea what's the problem there. Tomorrow I'll check if that technical difficulty is my iBook only, or a more general problem.

Grades are now done--just need to walk them over to Yost Hall, undoubtedly one of the ugliest academic buildings ever and, long ago, home to the Political Science department (long before me). I note the last point only because the registrar's walk-in office is still marked "Political Science Lounge." (Or something similar.)

Less than 3 hours until H-hour.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


I haven't mentioned it on the blog yet, but tomorrow is the day that unofficial Maryland bar exam results are released, at 5:00 pm. Here's the link to the site. But I won't give out my seat number until I see that I've passed.

Oh, and if I pass, then I have to attend a day-long mandatory course on professionalism on Saturday, May 21, at the Maritime Institute of Technology in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. I don't know about you, but, to me, the "Maritime Institute of Technology in Linthicum Heights" sounds like some creepy place that a Lovecraft story would take place. And the course costs $65 and you have to wear a suit and tie. Jeebus.

Delayed Launch of Ask Mr. 1987

OK, I've written a couple of gimmick posts, but I quickly deleted them, and I may be shelving Ask Mr. 1987, at least for the short-run. But Wednesday Zen Koan was a big success. (Ask Mr. 1987 seemed like a great idea last night after a long day of grading, but it didn't seem funny today.)

With that said, all exams graded, just senior projects and an independent study to read . . . .

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Instituting Blog Gimmicks (Non-Derivative Version)

In the interest of improving's quality content, I am instituting new blog gimmicks that I just made up.

First, Wednesday is koan day. A koan is "a paradox to be meditated upon," of the kind used by Zen Buddhists to abandon reliance on reason. Or so says my office dictionary. The most famous koan may be "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" (That's a Simpsons reference. Bart had the answer.)

This week's Wednesday koan: "If tomorrow were exactly the same as today, would it be tomorrow, today, or yesterday?" (BTW, I actually made that up myself. Unless it is a forgotten memory . . . .)

Second, Thursday is "Ask Mr. 1987." More details tomorrow (that's Thursday).

So start meditating on the koan, and tell me what you come up with.

Busy Days

Not a lot of posting today because of a hectic end-of-the-semester schedule. Still have about 53 exams to grade, and a stack of senior projects. Grades are due by 11 am May 7. I should meet that deadline.

On other fronts, the carpet guys finally installed the new carpet this morning, just in time for the first showing of the house, by a real estate agent, this afternoon. Wondering how that went . . . no offer yet.

Plus, I have a book proposal review that must be finished by tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Taxing Comments

Commentor S., who is a tax attorney, says correctly that this question really boils down to whether there is a just level of redistribution. That is a brilliant point, and one that perfectly illustrates the silliness of the "unjust level of taxation" question. S. is correct that there probably is an answer to the question, whether redistribution is just, in a given case. But I still think I'm right that phrasing the question in terms of tax rates doesn't make any sense. We can judge the (in)justice of policies, but not really of tax rates qua tax rates (versus as proxies for policy choices).

Commentor C.L., who is definitely not a tax attorney, wants to argue that the Bill of Rights has something to do with the question. Hmmm. Must have missed that provision in the BOR.

Quoth Locke: S. 140. "It is true that governments cannot be supported without great charge, and it is fit every one who enjoys his share of the protection should pay out of his estate his proportion for the maintenance of it. But still it must be with his own consent--i.e., the consent of the majority, giving it either by themselves or their representatives chosen by them . . . ." And so on. As Don Herzog says in Happy Slaves, a book well worth a look, never has "i.e." done so much work for a political theorist (paraphrasing).

I think Locke has this one right (although, as S. might point out, Locke is not talking about redistributive policies). Is there another way to set tax rates? If it were a constitutional principle, would courts get involved in fashioning "balancing tests" to set tax rates? I don't know anyone who would want that.

The House Is on the Market

What more is there to say? As of today, the house is on the market.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Unjust level of taxation?

Jim Henley asks what level of taxation liberals would consider unjust, as opposed to inefficient or unwise. Yglesias offers an answer, as does Kevin Drum.

But I have a different take on this question. According to Anglo-American liberal thought, from Locke down to the Framers, the question regarding the legitimacy of taxation is not the level of the taxation but rather the procedure by which that rate is set. Thus, "no taxation without representation." My answer is thus that there is, a priori, no unjust tax rate, not even a "confiscatory" 100% top-marginal rate. The question is whether the proper procedures were followed in imposing the tax, not the level of the tax itself.

Now, I can think of some exceptions here, but the general point is a valid one. If the legislature is representative of the people, and it passes a tax increase by the proper procedures, then that tax increase is, at least, presumptively "just," regardless of the rate. It is impossible, before the fact, to say what level of taxation will be necessary to achieve the governmental purposes set by the legislature; thus, we cannot say, before the fact, what is just and what is not.

It's possible to argue that the legislature is not properly representative, which is a whole other question.

Is Star Wars inherently conservative?

Found this reference to a conservative movie site, where conservatives are trying to claim Star Wars for themselves. For myself, I've never understood this urge to argue that everything one likes or enjoys is consistent with one's political views. Indeed, many of the things I like have little, if anything at all, to do with politics. And I like it that way. But it seems some people favor totalizing (totalized?) ideologies, and they require everything they like to be "conservative." (This also applies to some people on the left, but not liberals as I understand that term.) I don't think one should give primacy to politics over every other sphere of one's life. Sometimes politics should trump other areas, but certainly not always.

In fact, many of my favorite authors are conservatives, especially Evelyn Waugh. Gasp. My favorite book, The Lord of the Rings, is conservative in outlook, if not in theme and tone (and in treatment of the Men of the East and South, not to mention the orcs). Art is art, politics is politics, friendship is friendship (I would say that half of my good friends in the whole world are political conservatives). There's no single solution to the conflicts between the separate spheres of life.

Back to the point, though: Is Star Wars conservative?

Well, the first thing I would note is that there is no place in the Star Wars Universe for Christianity. Some people might argue that the story is an allegory for Christianity, but I'm not buying it. It's more pagan, or at least Manichean (and that's a Christian heresy, especially for my Catholic friends). To the extent that American conservatives rely on Christianity as a bedrock principle--and come on, you know they do--than Star Wars is not conservative. I don't give points for the idea that it's a Good versus Evil story, and that that's somehow inherently conservative. Liberals can believe in evil, too.

The mysticism of Star Wars (the Force) seems pretty New Age-y to me, and I associate that with the left ("the looney left"). One might argue that it is tied to a kind of Heideggerian right, but . . . seems like a stretch to me.

One might argue that much of conservative thought warns of the danger of power--power corrupts and all that. So the Dark Side of the Force could be seen in those terms. But again, liberals are also against tyranny.

Does Episode II have an anti-cloning (and therefore pro-life) message? Some of the links suggest that the images of babies in bottles was "pro-life." I'm not so sure that those scenes are inescapably pro-life, although I will agree that, if you are pro-life already, you are almost certainly going to see those images as a condemnation of cloning. The movie is not so clearly anti-cloning, though. Remember, the Jedi (the Good Guys) fight with the clones. Now, maybe this is their downfall, but we haven't seen that yet. The clones are presented as just another form of technology here. Now one can see this from a Heideggerian pov and reject technology, but in today's politics is that right or left?

Are the Jedi conservative? One could argue that they are seeking to conserve the Republic; but Episode I made pretty clear that the Republic is not really worth conserving at this point. It is portrayed as corrupt, inefficient, unable to defend itself. This is a strange way to present conservatives, if that is the goal--defending the indefensible. (If I were a conservative, I wouldn't want to be portrayed that way.)


Sunday, May 01, 2005

Manager Facial Hair Watch

OK, FSN Ohio just showed Tony Pena in the Royals dugout, and I think I understand Wedgie's facial hair now. He's trying to keep up with Pena's cookie-duster. (Of course, I might be wrong--that could be Cheech Marin in the Royals dugout. That would go with the 70's theme.)

Let's hope that Tram doesn't decide to enter this AL Central managers' facial hair contest.

Oh lord, throwing error by Peralta--although one Broussard should dig out--in the top of the fourth to get that Royals offensive machine into motion. Long fly ball by Mike Sweeney, but now Ken "Human Highlight Reel" Harvey steps in . . . . Elarton jams Harvey, but the lead-off hitter (???) is moved over to third, with two outs . . . . Matt Stairs drills one to the right field corner for a double, scoring the run. Stairs is also a contestant in some kind of bad moustache contest, I see.

Open Letter to Eric Wedge, Manager, Cleveland Indians


First, shave. Please. Really. Lose that atrocious facial hair. You're the manager of the Cleveland Indians, not some 70's second-rate porn star.

Second, I love Eddie Murray as much as the next guy--which, admittedly, isn't very much. But if May goes as bad as April, it might be time to think about a change at hitting coach. Murray might have hit a lot of home runs during his playing days, but the Tribe right now, sad. Pathetic. Only 24 dingers in April, and 19 of those were solo shots (8 straight solo shots to close out the month). How about getting some baserunners? Work the count, hit it where they ain't?

Third, I just love those black KC Royals caps. Can't help myself.

Emery Lee