Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Next Blog" Disturbs Me

I was checking out my referral links on Statcounter, and apparently "next blog" brought me a visitor from another blogger site, in another language, that has sexual images of children.

I need a shower.

Upward movement continues

Up to #3 for "Object Permanence" on google. Making my debut appearance at #6 for "Uberdork."

Fear me, cosmos.

Unrelated update: Curse you, Blogger!

Unrelated Update 2: No, f--- you, Blogger.

Matt's Family Wellness Update, part 75

It feels to me like half of the posts on Object Permanence for the last few months have been variations on "My son/daughter is sick."

Well, she is. Winter has had a nasty rotovirus since Monday night, which culminated in her being admitted to the hospital yesterday for intravenous fluids and an overnight stay. My poor little one year old, tiny little Winter, had to be held down so they could stick a tiny, baby-sized needle in her arm and pump her full of fluids. I find it curiously hard to express the feeling I have when I look at her wandering around a three-foot circle, leashed to an adult-sized IV stand. She's contagious enough that they won't allow her out of the room in the children's wing of the hospital. She's stir-crazy.

Long story short: sorry I've been away. Stuff's going down that requires my attention.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Sound of Settling

Yesterday, I overlooked Robert Frost's birthday. Belated wishes to America's greatest.


You come to fetch me from my work to-night
When supper's on the table, and we'll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea);
And go along with you ere you lose sight
Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a Springtime passion for the earth.
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Fast movement on the Google front

Object Permanence is now #4 for "object permanence" and #1 for Whaaaaaaaa, Democrats.

Now I just need to get my rank up for Uberdork, and the cosmos will be my plaything.


From "Ode and Burgeonings"

Only a few miles at night,
the drenched distances
of the country dawn,
a handful of earth separated us, the transparent
that we did not cross, so that life,
afterward, could put all
the seas and the earth
between us, and we could come together
in spite of space,
step by step seeking each other,
from one ocean to another,
until I saw that the sky was aflame
and your hair was flying in the light
and you came to my kisses with the fire
of an unchained meteor
and as you melted in my blood, the sweetness
of the wild plum
of our childhood I received in my mouth,
and I clutched you to my breast as
if I were regaining earth and life.

I would post the original Spanish for you, but I don't know how to do the accent marks, and I am too much of a snob to post it without the accents.

1524 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Back home

We just got back from our brief vacation. A few drive-by observations and thoughts from the past few days:

Every parent should drag their kids down a water slide at least once. Hale, my 3-year old son, was practically kicking and screaming, with me working hard just to get him on the slide. After that, the hard work was getting him not to run around the pool to go again.

Casinos suck. I would never gamble at all, but occasionally the missus and the family like to go play slots. The sound of slots, to me, is the same as the sound of a flushing toilet. As I told my wife, "If I were the gambling, risk-taking sort, I would be getting my MBA, not my JD."

I didn't get my dream job, but I did get a very nice letter from the Senior Partner, inviting me to "keep in touch." Law readers: what do you think that means? Now I need to figure out how I am going to be able to put a law job on my resume for this summer.

The Schiavo case didn't become interesting to me until my snobby intellectual tendencies were engaged by Congress' 11th hour grant of jurisdiction to the federal courts to hear the case. While the blogosphere (apparently) did a lot of discussion of the Constitutionality of the bill, what interested me was more practical: under what legal theory would the review proceed? I guessed due process, but even at the time thought that was not a likely winner, considering the exhaustive process of the last 10-15 years.

This is spot on. I wish Democratic politicians conveyed this information more effectively. On the other hand, maybe tactically the Democrats feel that "judicial obstructionism" is not that big of a political liability, whereas fighting the accusation vociferously has the potential to make it a much bigger liability.

That's all for now. I have a brief due next Tuesday that requires me to research decisions of a state administrative body. Their decisions aren't accessible through West/Lexis, so I have to use the State Bar's site, which has far inferior search capabilities.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Well folks, this afternoon I am going out of town with my family for a few days. I'll be back either Wednesday or Thursday. Posting will be light non-existent.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Pleasant Surprise

The FDA, close to approving Plan B for over the counter sale? Could it be?

Friday, March 18, 2005


I started spring break a little early today. I had Admin Law at 9:55, but the Boys High School state basketball tournament is at the Kohl Center today. After driving around campus looking for a parking spot for 20 minutes and nearly being killed by ultra-aggressive drivers, I gave up and went home.

I'm serious, it was like downtown Chicago driving down around the Kohl Center today -- people pulling around a line of stopped cars into oncoming traffic, people angrily honking at bike riders... mayhem!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Yeah, right

Professor Volokh is (rightfully) ripping on Slate's Bushisms here.

The quote in question:

"In this job you've got a lot on your plate on a regular basis; you don't have much time to sit around and wander, lonely, in the Oval Office, kind of asking different portraits, 'How do you think my standing will be?'" — Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005

Really not on the level with "I know how hard it is putting food on your family." Volokh updates his post:

UPDATE: Some readers suggested that Bush was actually saying "sit around and wonder" rather than "sit around and wander"; it's possible, but I think he was indeed talking about wandering around the oval office talking to the portraits that are presumably hanging on the wall -- it makes more sense that you'd wander around to talk to them. Other readers suggested that Bush was alluding to Wordsworth's "I wandered lonely as a cloud"; that's also possible. But even if neither theory is correct, my point still stands: There's nothing worth mocking in what Bush was saying.(emphasis added)

Yeah, right. I'm not one of these Democrats that rails about Bush being too stupid to be President. On the other hand, I think it's unlikely he is making off-handed references to early English Romantic poets.

Holy Crap!

This blog is all the way up to #5 for "Object Permanence" on Google. The last time I checked, I was on the third page!

UPDATE: Also #5 for "Whaaaaaaaa, Democrats." Note: that is Whaaaaaaaa, with 8 a's.

I'm not a nerd...

I'm an intellectual.

Oh, who am I kidding?

Yeah, no kidding

Via Eschaton, this.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


The interview went pretty well, I think. I won't say more just yet because I don't want to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing.

I'm off to go outside, spin around three times, and spit.

Slithery D on Health Care

Dylan writes:

A couple of weeks ago I read a comment on some other blog bitching about how health insurers won't pay for preexisting conditions. I'd mentally written a scathing rejoinder before I realized the next three comments already explained that, duh, it's insurance against risk, not a discount program to make other people pay for your problems. If it's not a suprise, it's not the insurers' responsibility.

Two problems I have here, and as I have to get ready for my interview, I'll be brief.

First, we should view health insurance as a discount program (unlike other types of insurance). That's because we principally bargain for health insurance coverage in large groups. We do this because it benefits all the parties. For the employees, some will get seriously ill or injured, but we don't usually know who when we initiate the insurance. All the employees get a better price by spreading the risk. The insurance company benefits because it too doesn't know which individuals will get sick, but it gets to spread an essentially unpredictable risk. It also gains access to a larger pool of insured than it would otherwise. The employer benefits because no matter which employee gets sick, she can get care and return to work with minimum disruption.

Second, assuming we accept the premise that insurers shouldn't cover preexisting conditions, they often refuse to provide insurance to people that have preexisting conditions altogether. This is a problem because when these people get sick or injured, from their preexisting condition or otherwise, we all end up subsidizing the risk anyway. When hospitals have to write off a bunch of charity care, you don't think they raise the prices for everyone else to recoup their loss?

A diabetic gets a new job, and his insurance won't cover his diabetic care for the first 6 months. With all the accoutrements of treating diabetes, a person could have substantial difficulties paying to maintain his health for six months. Instead of us discounting his care over a large group and paying the modest (to the group) cost, we end up paying the much higher costs if he gets hospitalized because he ran out of insulin and went into shock.

I may revisit this later, but if I don't go shower right now, I'll be late.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Job Interview

I was offered a very out-of-the-blue job interview with my Madison dream-firm for a spring and possibly summer clerkship. It's tomorrow at 3:30, and I am already getting nervous about it.

If asked "what is your greatest weakness," I will quite honestly answer, "job interviews."

Seriously, I'm a good researcher and a good writer. I can be an effective advocate orally, given preparation. I just don't advocate for myself very well. In person, I'm very humble and very shy, neither of which is much service in a job interview (and probably neither of which you notice from this blog!). I don't know what to expect, or if I am preparing properly, and I don't want to blow this.

Seriously, this is the firm about which I told my wife last year, "If I could work for any Madison firm, it would be this one." Then I got a referral from a professor (rather unexpectedly) and three days later, I have an interview. Scary!

Perhaps the trick is to view myself as my own client, and try to make an argument for me. It just seems so forward.

UPDATE: Just had a mock interview. I didn't flame out spectacularly, so I am feeling a little better. Still, wish me luck!

Beware the Ides of March!

Alternative: You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Mr. Madison on Universal Healthcare

Oscar Madison, who I recently had the pleasure to address as Professor Madison, muses about Universal Health Care. He observes that

When it's your own health that's involved, it's hard not to take that far more personally than, say, lousy service at your auto mechanic. Still, bad customer care is not always the same as bad health care.

I think that's quite right, but I disagree with where he goes from there:

My guess is that, when push comes to shove, the main popular resistance to universal health care (opposition in public opinion, as to opposed to opposition from the private health insurance lobby) boils down to inegalitarianism. Sure, there's a lot of rhetoric about being able to choose your own doctor, and avoiding bureaucracy in getting treatment, but the predominance of "managed care" in our current system is making those aspirations a thing of the past even in the absence of a universal health care policy. The real underlying objection is the strong belief that people with more money deserve better health care.

While I agree that managed care is the epitome of the bureaucratic gridlock bogeyman that universal care opponents try to draw from every closet, I think the real problem is that people actually prefer the bogeyman they know to the bogeyman they don't. Here, the rhetoric is the reality.

People have been persuaded that "Canadian-style" health care will result in six month waits for a routine checkup or the government selecting doctors for patients (as if HMO's don't do that now). I think it's fundamental that most people support at least the general idea that we should take care of the sick. Where there is any economic motivation, it's generally couched in terms of the cost to taxpayers of providing care. That's a pretty easy sell when the middle class is drawing its health care from its employers and from payroll deduction; "why should I have to pay more in taxes, when I already pay for my insurance out of pocket?"

However, I think the logical consequence of the Republican policies to erode even the limited employer-sponsored system we now "enjoy" is a setting of the stage for long term defeat on the issue. As more and more employers drop coverage or raise premiums in the face of the "ownership society" policies that encourage private purchase of high-deductible insurance and tax free savings, the economic rationale is flipped precisely on its head.

I think it's fairly obvious that the point of Health Savings Accounts and high deductible insurance is to shift the burden of rising health costs from employers to consumers and the government. Once people have to write an actual check every month and they are told how much HSA's cost the government every year, not to mention paying the high deductible the first time(s) they see a doctor, a low-cost single payer system might start to look really attractive.

Maybe I am just sappily optimistic about my fellow human beings, but I prefer not to believe that people really believe that a rich cancer patient deserves to live more than a poor cancer patient.

Much excellent prose follows, and the Perfesser concludes:

Our current system is probably like a commercial jet liner: first class for the rich, coach for the middle class insured, and the poor just can't afford to fly. Universal health care will be, at best, an early 20th century ocean liner: 1st class, 2d class and steerage.

Maybe so, but I know which one I'd pick. Health Care is a veil of ignorance problem. If I had to cross the ocean, I'd rather have a seat in steerage than be watching the plane take off from my backyard.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

How could you?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Feingold on campus

Senator Russ Feingold took part in a forum at the Law School today. It was called "A Conversation on the Role of Constitutions in Developing Democracy." With the Senator were South African Ambassador to the U.S. Barbara Masekela and UW Professor of History John Kaminski.

It was a really interesting panel discussion. As interesting as the topic was, of course, I really went to see Senator Feingold, who I admire a great deal. As he was wrapping up, he mentioned how he took the liberty of reading the South African Constitution on the flight so that he could talk about it. He noted the bill of rights provisions that guaranteed the right to health care, privacy, a clean environment, and labor rights. He then noted the absence of any provisions banning gay marriage or flag burning, and said (something like) "Constitutions are serious business. We should take ours seriously."


Check out Fafblog.

Great Moments in History, 1787: God Writes the Constitution

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, please," says God. "I believe I have the solution. You may call Me old-fashioned, but I believe the governing structure of this new law should be based firmly on the Biblical principles of a strong executive, an independent judiciary, a bicameral legislature with an upper and lower house, checks and balances, and a bill of rights to ensure the preservation of basic liberties."
"That's a great idea God!" says me. "I don't know why we didn't think it up ourselves!"

Then when nobody's lookin Warren Burger an the ACLU show up an beat up God an steal his lunch money an that's when slavery an stuff happens.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Emily Dickinson

We outgrow love, like other things
And put it in the Drawer -
Till it an Antique fashion shows -
Like Costumes Grandsires wore.


It's not that I have nothing to say tonight, it's that I have too much.

Ever feel that way?

1512 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Good Health Care Piece by Tim Noah

Check it out here.

One additional factor contributing to the effectiveness of the VA and Medicare that he didn't mention is the absence of a profit motive. For profit health care creates a perverse incentive: the health care provider can increase profits by decreasing the quality of care. I don't have statistics at my fingertips (and my homework beckons), but suffice it to say that Medicare runs around 3% overhead, whereas a private insurance company spends as much as 25%.

If you read the annual stockholder reports for these Health Care giants, they like to boast how few cents on the dollar they spend actually delivering patient care.

Now, I'm not some firebreathing communist or socialist or anything like that. Yay, capitalism. But there are some industries and commodities that are basic necessities for survival, and where we should make an earnest effort to eliminate price-gouging: clean water, electricity, and health care, just off the top of my head.

1509 Americans Combat Deaths in Iraq

Monday, March 07, 2005

An old favorite

The Writer's Almanac today notes the anniversary of Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." It's a great story; Frost apparently wanted to publish it with forty pages (!) of footnotes. Maybe he was having a little T.S. Eliot "The Wasteland" envy.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it's queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I remember the last few lines of this poem being a key-phrase to activate Soviet sleeper agents in some old Charles Bronson movie. I remember thinking, "Why in the hell would the Soviets choose Robert Frost?"

The last few lines in particular I have always to found to be particularly hypnotic. I find myself repeating them when I am out walking in the winter. At any rate, Frost apparently was most fond of the first two lines, which he said contained everything he ever knew about writing.

Josh Marshall on Social Security

A good analogy:

People who made big bucks through their lives don't get a particularly good 'deal' from Social Security, if you insist on seeing it in investment terms. But that's a distorting prism, sort of like thinking you got a rotten deal on your medical insurance if you never have a catastrophic illness.

True dat.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Prognosis: Frost

After making a full* recovery from pneumonia this week, my 8-year old Frost had a fever all night. This morning, my wife took her to Urgent Care.

Prognosis? Fever was 104.7, accelerated heart rate, and her lungs have filled up much more. She's out of school for at least 10 days, with a full course of antibiotics and whatever home remedies we can devise to make her comfortable. If she gets any worse, we're looking at hospitalization.

What's worse is that I still have a very bronchitis-like cough and pain in my lungs. Considering my asthma, that's a matter of some concern. I can't afford to miss the better part of another week of school. If I get sicker, too, my wife will probably have to burn the rest of her sick and personal time for the year, and it's only March.

*Or so we thought.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Bainbridge on Clinton

Professor Bainbridge speculates on Hilary `08.

One Clinton scandal that was never properly ventilated was his eleventh hour (and fifty nine minute) pardon spree, especially the highly controversial pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. (Remember that?) Yes, there were some investigations. But nobody seemed to have the heart in it, not even bulldogs like Dan Burton. Everybody rather quickly decided to sort of ignore it, presumably on the theory that the Presidential pardon power is more or less plenary and out of a sense of relief that we were finally rid of the Clintons. A Presidential run by Hillary, however, would invite a proper investigation of that scandalous affair, as it well-illustrates the abuses to which the Clintons have routinely put their power in both DC and Arkansas. (emphasis added).

What some consider to be an abusive use of the plenary powers of the President by Bill Clinton is an illustration of the abusive way that Hilary would use her power? I'm not sure that follows.

I've been known to sprinkle when I tinkle, but I'm not certain that relates to my wife's bathroom habits in any way. I suppose you could be the sort that sees some urine behind my toilet and assumes my wife was the one aiming (she's not).

Don't blog angry!

I just added a new link in my UW-Law Blogs sidebar. He's one of the Senior Managing Editors of the Law Review.

And here, with another edition of "When keeping it real goes wrong..."


Friday, March 04, 2005

No, seriously

Look at this.

No, seriously. Testicle implants for dogs who've been neutered.

And in case you were wondering (from the FAQ):

Do Neuticles come in different models?

Neuticles are available in three models: NeuticleOriginals (rigid firmness) NeuticleNatural (natural firmness) and Neuticles UltraPLUS. Each are crafted from FDA medically-approved (for human use) materials- replicating the animals testicle in size, shape, weight and feel.

I want my dog's new balls to feel naturally firm, Doctor.

TGIF, MF'er!

Veeeeeeeeeeeery long week is now blessedly over. I hope that the obsessive office remodeling around the house this weekend won't prevent me from relaxing at least a little bit.

Anyway, TGIF.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

1502 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Yeah, right

Everyone is talking about Bradley Smith's CNET interview talking about the end of blogs.

How can the government place a value on a blog that praises some politician?
How do we measure that? Design fees, that sort of thing? The FEC did an advisory opinion in the late 1990s (in the Leo Smith case) that I don't think we'd hold to today, saying that if you owned a computer, you'd have to calculate what percentage of the computer cost and electricity went to political advocacy.

It seems absurd, but that's what the commission did. And that's the direction Judge Kollar-Kotelly would have us move in. Line drawing is going to be an inherently very difficult task. And then we'll be pushed to go further. Why can this person do it, but not that person?

Yeah, right. That's like threatening, "We're going to be forced to value the depreciation your car suffers when you put a political bumper sticker on it, and then we are going to charge the depreciation to the campaign."

I'll leave you with two words: strict scrutiny.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Dear Jackass

I screwed up a cite check packet. Sorry. In a completely related note, constructive criticism works, people!

What he said:
"In the future, please approach packets with the assumption that everything the author did was wrong."

What I heard:
"In the future, please approach packets with the assumption that your managing editor will be a total and complete jackass to you if you get it wrong."

What he said:
"I have to wonder...if [your Blue Book] thought you were giving it the cold shoulder while you did this packet."

What I heard:
"I have to wonder at how much free time I must have to be the Law Review social director and still have time to wonder what your bluebook thought about your cite check packet."

I would answer:
"Maybe my bluebook understands that I am taking 18 credits and I have three kids and a part time job, and that yes, I screwed up, but that no, I don't really need some jackass jumping on my back. Nickel's worth of free advice: you're a student editor, not a paying employer."

Sorry, I needed to get that off my chest so I can do some actual work, now.

Checking in

Working on a brief in the computer lab. It's lots of fun trying to do legal analysis when cold medicine makes you feel like your head is a helium balloon on a string considerably longer than your neck.

I wanted to weigh in on Roper, but I think trying to pick through the opinion right now might be beyond me. Let me just say that I strongly oppose the death penalty (check my May `04 archives, I believe), but that I am a little uncomfortable with the reasoning as I have seen it summarized in this case. It seems that Kennedy and the majority have seized on a relatively small movement in public consensus and used it as the basis for a sweeping change in 8th Amendment interpretation. While I agree with the result, I am uncomfortable with judges claiming the authority to string together what may be statistically insignificant movements in opinion to overrule legislative judgment on constitutional grounds. It smacks of ad hoc reasoning, which could just as easily be used by those with whom I disagree.

QUICK UPDATE: Here is the post where I took economist Steven Landsburg to task for his assumption that an execution deters 10 murders. In June 2004, I reprinted an e-mail conversation that I had with Mr. Landsburg about my first post (with his permission, of course). I think it's worth reading.