Thursday, April 28, 2005

Professor White Devious currently resides in the proverbial domicile*

I found out today that my article on Pharmacist Conscience Clauses will be published in issue 6 of next year's Wisconsin Law Review. Huzzah!

Otherwise, I have about 37 hours to learn a four-credit course in which I foolishly chose to take a grade instead of opting for pass/fail. Truly, I am deserving of your most derisive mockery.

*inside joke, don't ask.

UPDATE: His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI stopped by to congratulate me in the comments. Thanks again, your holiness. The piece actually came out for trying to strike a balance between conscience rights and women's rights.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Exam Time Insanity (Probably Just Part 1)

I get a little cuckoo when the pressure gets on. Here's a recounting of a conversation that just took place.

Sister In Law: All right, peace out people!

Me, to wife: No, peace in.

Wife: What?

Me: Everyone is always trying to put peace out. I don't know if you've heard, but they're talking about hunting feral cats around here. I'm just saying, let's let peace come in, give it a saucer of milk...

Wife: (goggling)

Me: ...clean its litterbox.

In a related note (at least, it's related if you're as far gone as I am), a bird has again taken up residence in our garage. Only this year, it's a demon nazi bird, refusing to leave the garage until we appease it by letting it feast on the liver of one our children. Yelling, waving things, honking the horn, even closing the garage door: it will not leave. I want Sharon to call the landlord to get the bird out, maybe with a broom or the 101st Airborne. She has so far refused, insisting that I can deal with it.

There's only one thing left to do: I will slake the bird's infernal hunger with one of my nieces. Sorry, Harmony. If there were any other way to protect your cousins and get that bird out of my garage, I would do it.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Yeah, it was decaf.

Happy Birthday, Bill

It's Bill Shakespeare's birthday. Happy Birthday, Bill! How's it feel to be 441?

Writer's Almanac has a sonnet for his birthday. It's a good one.

Here's a different sonnet, more appropriate for a law student:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

Good morning lottery

My first exam is a week from today, and there isn't a single class that I feel like I have a handle on this morning. So, preparing to study, I decided to make an extra strong pot of coffee. I grabbed the bag of french roast beans, and.. oh, crap. There are like three beans in the bag.

Starting to panic now, I start to dig through the freezer in search of some long forgotten bag of Kona or some remnant of a bag of Starbucks Verona. And then, at last, I found it: a small bag of Steep & Brew beans, flavor unlabeled.

My dilemma: my mother lives with me and only drinks decaf. She usually labels her beans. Usually. So now I'm happily sipping coffee and working on my Civ Pro II outline, wondering if today is the day when studying interpleader will cause me to fall into a caffeine deprivation-induced coma.

Say a prayer for me now.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Crude Humor: Our 8th Planet

I apologize in advance for this post.

I was working today on the third draft of my law review comment at the Memorial Library computer lab. That lab has all the computers and printers named so as to make it easier on brain dead college students. The law library computer lab, by contrast, has exciting names like "Lab41." I was working on a computer named Scooby that was, you guessed it, amid a list of cartoon characters from Scooby Doo and the Simpsons. Then I had to print out two articles, so I sent them to the printer.

The printers were named after the planets. I couldn't help but laugh as I selected a printer and hoped for a problem. Why? So I could walk up to the support staff and say, "There's a paper jammed in Uranus."

Juvenile, I know.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My obsolete skill: utterly predictable

Songs of Innocence, Introduction
You are 'regularly metric verse'. This can take
many forms, including heroic couplets, blank
verse, and other iambic pentameters, for
example. It has not been used much since the
nineteenth century; modern poets tend to prefer
rhyme without meter, or even poetry with
neither rhyme nor meter.

You appreciate the beautiful things in life--the
joy of music, the color of leaves falling, the
rhythm of a heartbeat. You see life itself as
a series of little poems. The result (or is it
the cause?) is that you are pensive and often
melancholy. You enjoy the company of other
people, but they find you unexcitable and
depressing. Your problem is that regularly
metric verse has been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(via Law and Alcoholism)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Mary Jane, Reefer, Ganja. Should it be legalized, or at least decriminalized? Beats the hell out of me. Never tried it, and at my age I probably never will.

Still, I laughed out loud when I was reading one of the free local arts papers in Madison. They have a sort of "person on the street" feature each week, where they ask a question of various people on State Street and then print their brief answer along with a picture. This week, they asked if Marijuana should be legalized. Most of the answers were pretty standard, but then I got to this:

Lindsey Watson, 20
"No, because as a Christian I don't believe in drugs."

I hope that the paper misquoted her by leaving out a vital word, such as "using." I assure you, Lindsey, drugs exist.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Down the Memory Hole

My son Hale confuses adjectives sometimes. In particular, he says, "Daddy, I'm boring," when he can't find anything he wants to do. I hope I never forget that.

This reminds me of something my father used to say, nay, bludgeon me with when I was young.

"Dad, I'm bored," I would complain on those small-town summer days.

"That says more about you than anything else," he would say (with a warning tone), or "That says more about you than about your options."

That's so true, but I don't think I understood it at the time. I think that's a father's job: saying important things when his children are young and impressionable that they won't understand until they're a bit older, when they would be less likely to hear it.

Anyway, the reason for this post is what I perceive to be another fatherly duty: remembering all the funny things kids say so as to have good stories later. Frost had some doozies with first pronunciations, like "fridge-a-frator" for refrigerator and "daco-done" for telephone. She loved teletubbies as much as Hale loves dinosaurs and Winter loves puppies. I have seen all three of my kids fall asleep face down in a bowl of spaghetti, each in the same white-and-green plastic baby booster chair. Each of their first birthdays featured chocolate cake. Frost and Hale did what I did as a one-year old and smeared it all over their faces. Winter was dainty; despite being probably the messiest eater of the three at that age, she ate her one-year old birthday cake neatly, with a fork.

I may never forgive her that.

Often, memory has a sweetness that approaches pain.

Abstinence at Princeton

Professor Althouse points to this article about a group at Princeton that is encouraging abstinence. More power to them, I say. I have no problem with abstinence programs (even if ineffective) provided that the federal government isn't funding them with tax dollars to the exclusion of other forms of sex education. But this quote struck me as a silly statement in profound garb:

Jennifer Mickel, a 19-year-old sophomore from Monroe, La., brought up abstinence at a women's forum at Ivy Council, an inter-campus student group in the Ivy League.

"The discussion was very sex-focused, like about having rape kits in medical centers and condoms and the morning-after pill," Ms. Mickel said. "And I asked, 'What do your schools have for women who are not having sex?' And the room fell silent.

They were probably too stunned to ask, "Well, what do they need?"

If campus women's groups want to provide the incidents of a safe and healthy sex life to consenting, adult women, are we really going to suggest that they have some responsibility to spend their limited time and resources on women who choose not to engage in the same behavior?

What do women who are not having sex need from a women's group?

And the room fell silent.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Peace of Wild Things

Wendell Barry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Truly, forethoughts of grief are among the strongest shackles.

Chant overheard at the UW protest

There was a "Get The Troops Out of Iraq" protest march that ended up on Library Mall today. Professor Althouse has some pictures of the march here.

As I was walking across library mall shortly after noon, I heard the protestors chanting, "Out of Iraq, Out of our school, Troops home now!" It had a nice cadence, but the phrasing (which I assume refers to military recruiters) had me thinking, "Hmm, that's funny, I don't recall the U.S. army invading and occupying the UW-Madison campus."

Then I sat for the next few hours imagining the news stories about Lakeshore dead-enders, radical ASM clerics, improvised explosive devices crafted from bongs and empty kegs, the parallels between the Memorial Union terrace and Fallujah...

Good comedic material, there. Maybe I'll take an essay later.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I was doing it before it was cool

My law review article, which I have been working on for approximately six months, is about this.

To quote a wise man: "Now who wants to f---ing touch me?"

Monday, April 11, 2005

Fascination Street

Check out PostSecret, where people mail in a post card with their deepest secret. It's engrossing and strangely intimate.

(via E.Spat)

I'd be remiss those of you interested in Health Care if I didn't point you to this morning's Krugman.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Dear Satan,

Satan! Today only! My soul, on sale for piano virtuosity!

Who am I kidding? Every day.

On names and naming

Since I started law school, I've often wondered: "How could one fail as a judge with a name like Learned Hand?" I mean, that's the ultimate judge name. It's like when Wolf Blitzer got his break covering the first Iraq war.

Of course, that means that I have no less than two perfectly named ice princesses for daughters. Look out, young men of the world.

Fafblog on judicial activism

"I have powers beyond reason!" says Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor destroyin the National Guard with her judicial fire breath. Florida circuit judge George Greer laughs an uses his mind beam to topple the Empire State Building; the Avengers are crushed.
"Kneel before Greer!" says Florida circuit judge George Greer. I am forced to kneel on accounta Congress refuses to set limitations on his kneel-forcin powers.
"Oh you won't get away with this judges," says me. "Tom Delay will stop you an save the day!"
"Who is this Tom Delay?" says Judge Greer.
"Oh you'll find out an when you do!" says me.
"Come to me, Tom Delay!" says Judge Greer. "I defy you! Come and kneel before Greer! GREER!"

Oh, where is Tom Delay! Why isn't he savin us! Tom Delay! Can you hear me? Where are you! Where are you!

Brilliant, as always.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

End of the Line

Do you ever get the feeling that liberals and the progressives have spent the last 11 years saying, "they can't be serious" about the crazy things that come out of people like Delay and Cornyn? Remember when Cornyn made those remarks about gay marriage being the same as allowing a man to marry a box turtle? Remember when the Republicans tarred Max Cleland's war record, questioned his patriotism, and suggested he was in league with Bin Laden? Then remember when we were all surprised when they did it to Kerry, too? Are we really such credulous simpletons?

Memo to the Democrats: they're serious.

Judicial Politics

Professor Madison theorizes that the peculiar Republican politics that vilify the federal judiciary are actually a ploy to convince Americans that only ultraconservative judicial nominees are fit to restore the judiciary's integrity.

That could very well be the case. But it's not the possibility that I find the most troubling. No, not at all. I fear that the attack on the judiciary is more fundamental.

First, a disclaimer. I don't think all Republicans are crazy, immoral, or corrupt. I don't think all Democrats are upright bastions of moral correctness, either. Politicians are people who invariably make their living telling people what they think those people want to hear; the really great ones try to actually do good things at the same time, while others use it as an opportunity for self-enrichment.

That said, I think that there are those in the Republican leadership who are perpetuating a much more dangerous idea about the role of the judiciary. The thrust of DeLay's comments, after all, was that the judiciary was "arrogant, unaccountable, [and] out-of-control." Cornyn's much ballyhooed remarks expressed his anger over judges that are "unaccountable to the public." And we keep hearing more and more about stripping jurisdiction from lower courts and making increased use of impeachment.

These may just be ploys to help the Republicans pass ultraconservative nominees. But the more troubling possibility is that the rhetoric is serious; what if these politicians really envision a judiciary dramatically stripped of power and made to answer to Congress? They are, after all, upset about cases like Roe, Lawrence, and Roper. In each of those cases, certain actions of the political branches were held unconstitutional. One strategy might be to find judges who will say that the constitution allows those actions, but as Professor Madison points out, Republican appointees already run 11 of 13 federal appeals courts and have a 5-4 edge on the U.S. Supreme Court. It hasn't worked thus far. A second option is to try to work Americans into a rabid froth about judicial activism, and then use that anger as cover to drastically reduce the scope of federal court jurisdiction to review Congressional action, and to threaten to use impeachment to make judges politically accountable.

After all, Cornyn "said that the Supreme Court should be 'an enforcer of the political decisions made by elected representatives of the people.'" in his floor speech.

To me, that's much more scary than a Court packed with Borks and Thomases (as scary as such a Court would be).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Y'all are brutalizing me

I rented some Mr. Show DVD's, and I just saw this for the first time. Classic.

Why is it...

How come when the girl in front of me at Starbucks orders a "grande lowfat skim mocha light on the whip cream, extra chocolate" the barista can rattle it right back at her,


when I order a large, black coffee, somewhere between the counter and the coffee machine, he has to turn back around and ask "room for cream?"

"Yes, when I said I wanted black coffee, I meant with cream."

Monday, April 04, 2005

Hope Springs Eternal

I was just watching a rerun of the West Wing episode "Posse Comitatus." West Wing fans will recognize the episode as the one where C.J.'s body guard Simon Donovan is killed when he walks in on an armed robbery. I love this episode.

So maybe that's why every time I watch it, I watch the scene in the Korean grocery with the hope that somehow it will turn out differently this time. Maybe Simon will notice the other guy coming out of the back, or maybe he will ask the first suspect a question that will give it away, or maybe he will just be faster on the draw...

It's irrational, I know. Do you ever do that?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

April is the Cruellest Month

From The Wasteland:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.


Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.

The Wasteland is far too vast to quote at length, or to excerpt in any way that conveys its meaning. In fact, I challenge you to find its meaning without Eliot's own footnotes.

Still, it has some very picturesque language, evocative of a certain despair at (modern) life. I remember as an undergraduate identifying with the stanza beginning "Unreal City." It reminds me of Bascom Hill in the winter, where a pedestrian foot bridge extends over Park Street, and in the winter or early spring, you can see an ambling river of cold undergrads, looking at their feet, shuffling aimlessly across the bridge and up the hill. There's even an old church, converted to a music building, with a bell that chimes the hours.

I would love to discuss the poem with someone, but I don't expect that many outside of college English departments have really read it. On the other hand, isn't that the great virtue of the blogosphere? I'm off to find Eliot-bloggers!

UPDATE 1:We have our first winner! Miss Education is talking about her strategies for teaching Prufrock to high school students. She analogizes Eliot to Soundgarden, surprisingly aptly I think, and points out that Eliot was evoking the same "ominous feelings of emptiness" that preoccupy every teenager. Good stuff!

UPDATE 2: To get a second hit of any substance on The Wasteland, I've already gone back in the Technorati search to January. Luke Brewster says "I read part of The Wasteland tonight and found myself wanting to know the meaning and at the same time feeling sick for trying to discover it." Yes, well, welcome to the nightmare of every English major. He goes on:
It was almost as if the ambiguous words and phrases were of more enjoyment to me without a connecting theme or driving purpose. Knowing why the author wrote what he did would seem to destroy the magic of the very words: make them too real, too linked to reality. I liked them as they were: unknown, disconnected from everything real–simply words meant to inspire hazy visions of nothing certain.

He had me until the end. I think Eliot wanted to evoke that feeling, but I don't think he wanted it to become the poem's whole meaning or for that feeling to subsume the poem's narrative. If that were the case, he wouldn't have published give or take 50 exhaustive footnotes to help people understand that he was using a retelling of the grail narrative to say something about the post WWI world.

UPDATE 3:This poor/lucky English student had to read The Wasteland, Prufrock, and Eliot's essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent" all for one class! The number of pages is not that daunting, but oh, the density!

UPDATE 4: Like anyone is still reading this. This English student writes:
"In the third part of the poem, the Fire Sermon, Eliot describes sexuality and how it is shameful. He views fertility as disgusting and unbearable. I feel that Eliot uses this to portray that sex is irresponsible and only for the uneducated."

Slow down, Jamie. There's little doubt that Eliot was pretentious (listen to his recitation of the Wasteland some time, where the St. Louis boy adopts a prissy English accent), but it's never a good idea to conflate the poet and the speaker in the poem. The speaker(s) in the Wasteland is nebulous, at best, but an easier example of the principle is Robert Frost, who often wrote poems which had a woman speaker.

In this case, one of the themes of the Wasteland (being a grail-narrative), is that true Spring can't come unless the grail is found. In the grail narrative, the King is sexually maimed, and this maiming extends to his Realm, which is similarly infertile. Grail narratives always have to do with the rebirth of the world in Spring (and come from the ancient vegetation god myth, whether you call it Osiris, Baldur, Adonis, or Jesus Christ).

In The Wasteland, the world is still in the grips of the lost grail, which itself relates to the desolation caused by World War I. I think it's possible that the speaker seems to disparage fertility because of despair that real Spring will ever come. Think of a political analyst in 1980 and his beliefs about the Cold War: there was no end in sight, even though it would end a scant ten years later. Of course, the Cold War is itself a nice winter/rebirth metaphor: think of all the discussion of spring and a thawing of relations in the aftermath of Yeltsin's rise.

UPDATE 5: Oops, wrong Frost poem above. Blech. I was thinking of Wild Grapes.

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool's!

Ha ha ha. Oh, and ha. As Drudge says, Developing...