Saturday, April 30, 2005

Magpie Watch II

Continuing the Sullivan Magpie Watch, an astute commenter notes that Jonah Goldberg has observed another instance:
One non-trivial point that seems to have been left out of the commentary about Andrew’s argument--and not mentioned explicitly in the argument itself--is its debt to Michael Oakeshott. Sullivan is a disciple of Oakeshott and wrote his dissertation on him at Harvard. Hence it should come as no surprise that Sullivan’s division of conservatives into two camps--Conservatives of Faith and Conservatives of Doubt--tracks quite closely Oakeshott’s The Politics of Faith & the Politics of Skepticism. Why Andrew didn’t mention this explicitly I don’t know.

Friday, April 29, 2005

About the Jury

Thanks to all Galley Slaves readers who sent in their comments and emails about their own jury experiences as well as a few other thoughts. To answer one reader: The question of where I work never came up. There were questions during the voir dire about our experience, if any, with homelessness and even if we did have something to do with it, the question posed was "Would you find yourself unable to be fair?" One of my colleagues at TWS was almost selected for the Travelgate jury, despite his having worked at the American Spectator, which broke a number of stories on it. Again, in his situation, the question posed was, Could you still be fair? Few people under oath and in front of a judge can say "No, I will be unfair." (A common exception is the victim of a violent crime unable to serve in a criminal case.)

With regard to my jury, I may very well have been the only conservative. During deliberations, several jurors brought up their own participation in protests, such as with the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) in the 1960s. One congressional staffer called himself "a bleeding heart liberal." And yet despite these leanings and despite a case involving activists trying to feed the homeless over Thanksgiving, these jurors put emotion aside and focused strictly on the law at hand. We had one holdout and it was unclear exactly what stopped him from deciding the defendants were guilty. After convincing him in one instance, he would find some other element that bothered him. And on it went for about two hours. One woman thought that adding pressure would help (it didn't--she was clearly the Jack Ward of the group). In the end, the "bleeding heart liberal" and a professor from a local university (who was a SNCC member) approached the holdout directly, asking him, "What is it you are having a problem with?" and "Here is why I think they are guilty." Carefully and conscientiously, both men, without seeming to add pressure, clarified their positions and after a few moments of silence, the holdout changed his mind. (We then asked him if he was sure he believed this and was not feeling any pressure. He said no.)

To the very end, Mr. Bleeding Heart Liberal felt terrible for voting guilty even though he knew it was the right thing to do. ("These kids just don't seem to take the law seriously," he added.) One of the elders in the group who protested in the 60s said, "They knew what they were getting into... There's a right way and a wrong way to protest." But perhaps the professor's sentiments were best: "When we protested in the 60s, we knew we could get arrested. We knew we were going to break the law. These [defendants] knew what would happen and now they claim to be ignorant of the law? And now they want to represent themselves in court because they think they know the law?" They couldn't have it both ways, he thought.

No word on the sentencing, though one lawyer tells me at a minimum, there will be a fine. At maximum, they could face jail time. (I invite any Galley Slaves readers with law degreees to share his or her thoughts on possible sentencing.) Ten days in the slammer might not sound like much, but ten days in the DC County Jail could feel like an eternity.

Incidentally, one of the alternates on my jury called to ask about the verdict. He too is a self-described liberal and a former lawyer in the Clinton Justice Department. When I told him about our deliberations, he replied, "I would have thought it would have taken you guys ten minutes to convict them. This was a clear-cut case!"
If you say you don't want this, then you're either lying, or a damned fool and a scruffy-looking nerf herder.

Tom Joscelyn's Venona Project points us to the site, whose newest contributer is . . .

Michael Scheuer!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Help Me Tiger, You're My Only Hope

Galley Reader E.H. sends along a link to the The Darth Side, a blog run by Lord Vader himself. You ask for samples:
Have I mentioned before that I am surrounded by idiots? Let me cut to chase and just tell you up front: the rebels got away. All of them. General Veers, bless his heart, must have destroyed two dozen armed speeders and and an entire line of infantry -- but those were just ants. We failed to take Mothma, Organa, Rieekan, Skywalker or even the traiterous fish Ackbar.

More, you say?
At any rate, the attack on the hidden rebel base began and I had General Veers mount a ground assault. Once his walkers had destroyed the rebel generator I made planetfall and personally supervised our incursion into the base. I must say that the stormtroopers' new heavy weather gear makes them look very cool. Hats off to Palpatine. (Most people don't know this but His Excellency designs all of our outerwear personally; he has a real flair for geometry, and a great sense of line.)

Here's where I need your help. Soon, the forces of Lucasfilm will destroy the Darth Side. Perhaps they are on their way even as we speak.

But there is hope. I hear talk that the new Mac OS, Tiger, has a feature that allows you to download entire sites. Surely one of you has gotten Tiger already. You know what to do.

I was Martin Balsam

Last Thanksgiving, a homeless activist group known as May Day DC entered the Randall Homeless Shelter, south of the Capitol, to provide food and other necessities to those who were staying there. The next day, DC Protective Services and the property manager informed the activists that Randall was closed and that they needed to vacate the premises immediately. But the activists refused to leave and went to the rooftop, hanging signs demanding the goverment reopen the shelter. Media arrived and more officers and then a fire engine. When the engine ladder reached the roof, one of the activists handcuffed herself to it. In the end, the six activists were arrested and all charged with unlawful entry. This was the case my fellow jurors and I were handed.

We deliberated for a day and a half and ultimately found the defendants guilty. Why? There was enough circumstantial and direct evidence pointing to their knowledge that the Randall shelter was closed and that they were intending to protest it: The main door could only be opened from the inside, most of the windows and other entry ways were welded shut, and one had to edge his way in through a fence. One witness said one of the defendants told her she wanted to "reopen the shelter" and there was, of course, a poster that also read "reopen the shelter." This suggests the defendants knew the shelter was closed (otherwise why protest to reopen that which you think is open?).

A second element of unlawful entry is the refusal to leave once told one is in a restricted area. The defendants claim they could not hear the police or property manager on a bullhorn because they were on the roof (one story up and a second story behind it). The defendants say it was windy. But a homeless man also on the roof said he heard the police on the ground order him down lest he be arrested--and this man was half-deaf. When the deputy chief of police asked "Who is in charge?" another defendant replied, "We're all in charge." Police later said some of the defendants jokingly said things like, "Do you hear anyone?" One defendant admits to his fear of heights yet is seen in a photo sitting on the edge of the building, dangling his feet. More damning was another defendant's closing argument, in which she said, Haven't you been in a conversation with someone and another group of people are talking in the distance but you don't know what they're saying because you don't choose to listen?

Don't choose to listen?

Finally, this afternoon at around 12:40 p.m., we came to agreement on how to find all six defendants. Guilty. And guilty on the first element of knowingly entering a restricted area--there wasn't even any need to argue about the second element. And while we were all in agreement, I still found the verdict hard to deliver--because I would literally be delivering the verdict. Without my knowledge, the rest of the jury voted for me to be their foreman. And so, in front of the court, I told the judge (one of the nicest judges you will ever meet) that the jury found the defendants guilty. He asked me six times and each time I rendered that verdict with little emotion. It is a strange thing to do, handing down a verdict (let alone six times).

We don't know what the sentencing will be like, but all of the jurors felt that strictly examining this case and determining the defendants innocence or guilt, we had done the right thing.

It does make you think of that terrific movie Twelve Angry Men and where you fit within that cast. Are you the Jack Ward, eager just to get the hell out and go to the baseball game? Or are you Lee Cobb, bringing your personal baggage into the jury room? (Martin Balsam, one of my favorite actors, played the foreman.)

Jobs for Day

Kathy, the Cake Eating Editrix, has tagged me with a meme, the idea of which is to pick five professions from a list and say what you would do in them. My vanity knows no bounds and I'm never going to be tapped for the Proust Questionaire, so why not give it a whirl. Readers who are more clever than I am are invited to post their own answers:

If I could be an athlete. . . I'd lead the Sixers to the NBA Finals by providing Answer the silky-smooth, turnover-free, defensive-minded point guard he's never had. In the NBA Finals we would, of course, lose to the Lakers. Just because this is a fantasy doesn't mean that I get to ignore immutable laws of nature.

If I could be a writer. . . I'd be David Grann. Or Andy Ferguson. Either would suffice.

If I could be a scientist. . . I'd prove the existence of enough dimensions to support String Theory.

If I could be a librarian. . . Giles. Natch.

If I could be a professor. . . I'd teach a course on biochemistry in a manner that's actually engaging. (Easier than it sounds.) I'd begin each semester by announcing that everyone was going to get A's and that people not interested in the actual material needn't bother showing up. Then, at the end of the semester, I'd fail the grade-grubbers who'd been cutting. You can only pull that trick once, but boy, would it be worth it.

Here's the complete list to choose from:
If I could be a scientist...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a painter...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be an architect...
If I could be a linguist...
If I could be a psychologist...
If I could be a librarian...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor...
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a backup dancer...
If I could be a llama-rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...
If I could be a midget stripper...
If I could be a proctologist...

I pass the meme on to the Law Jedi and Erasmus.


Also, if you haven't read it, Tom Donnelly's piece on Chinese nationalism is pretty great.

Glenn Reynolds Takes a Cheap Shot at Life

Buoyed by the successful killing of Terri Schiavo, Glenn Reynolds carried this little note this morning:
IT'S NOT LIKE THERE'S A WAR ON, or anything.

The link takes you to a post on the Corner, where Kathryn Lopez noted the passing of the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act in the House.

Galley Friend C.L. writes in:
All of which makes me wonder if Glenn would be willing to trash talk Martin Luther King, Jr. After all, why should he have bothered with civil rights or basic matters of justice? It wasn't like there was a war on, or anything.

Good point.

Update, 12:00 p.m.: Reader AK adds:
Reynolds is right. There's a war on. We shouldn't spend our time worrying about other matters, like transhumanism, gay marriage, the Mazda RX-8, campus photoblogging, the Nikon BJ6900LMNOP, our brother's bands, and space exploration.

Magpie Watch

Blogging has been light lately, what with my time being taken up by real writing assignments, being sick, and spooning. I'd apologize, but that would suggest that having Galley Slaves content in your life matters to you--and you and I both know that it doesn't. We are not children; this farce does not become us.

Anyway, Mickey Kaus catches Andrew Sullivan in a compromising "Magpie" situation, where Kaus wrote something and Sullivan parroted it, as if it were his own thoughts, on TV. I would remind Kaus and readers that this isn't the first time.

In February, Sullivan wrote a long piece about iPods that was clearly cribbed, in conceit, if not in execution, from Christine Rosen's long essay on the subject in The New Atlantis. Sullivan gave Rosen not even a dollop of credit in passing.

None of this is plagiarism, exactly. And Sullivan isn't violating the letter of any journalistic law. But it is the sort of thing that tends to catch up with you eventually. Don't be surprised if Sullivan eventually gets caught out for his magpieing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The jury has now entered the deliberation phase. Meaning that now I am in the thick of it. And sadly, that is all I can say about it until a verdict is rendered.

But thanks for everyone's input on this post as well as on the previous post regarding my addiction to Civilization. Glad to know I am not alone.

And yes, I can see how conspiracists will take this Casual as even more evidence that the neocons are carefully planning their takeover of, well, civilization. You see it all starts with building temples...

Monday, April 25, 2005

For TWS subscribers, I have recently admitted to my addiction to the game Civilization in this week's issue.

Jury Duty

Those of you who have the honor of residing in the District of Columbia know that every two years, like clockwork, your jury summons arrives in your mailbox. And those of you who have heeded that summons also know there is a good chance you will end up serving on a jury trial--due to a dwindling pool. So it came as no surprise this morning when four judges needed potential jurors, myself among them, and one of the judges needed at least 40 individuals. And sure enough, I have been chosen. We're told that serving on a jury is something you should do once in your life. This will be my second trial. After speaking to other jurors who have lived in the District for some time, I am expecting to serve on juries every other year for as long as I live here. Not to mention grand juries and appeals and whatever else they'll throw at me.

But rest assured, when the verdict is in, I'll be happy to share the details of this criminal trial with our readers.

So you didn't think the last post was bad enough?

Galley Friend B.W. sends this link ton an eBay auction. On offer: a life-size X-Wing fighter.
From Galley Brother B.J.: Star Wars Arcade Record Attempt:

Star Wars Arcade Record Attempt

Posted By Mark on April 23, 2005

25 year old Brandon Erickson of Portland, Oregon will attempt what few have achieved - a non-stop marathon play of the original Star Wars Arcade video game. From noon May 16th to the midnight screening of Episode III on May 18th, he hopes to break a 22 year old record standing since Return of the Jedi in 1983:

Brandon, who is “the world's premiere classic Star Wars competitor” according to videogame record keepers Twin Galaxies, says beating the 300 million point score is his most ambitious attempt yet. "The challenge is maintaining focus over such a long period of time. Letting go for even 30 seconds means ‘game over.’ There is very little room for letting my concentration flag."

With newer Star Wars games available, why play the first one? “It's a way to celebrate the original films, and the games of that era,” he says. “Aside from that, it's a heck of a lot of fun. It's hard to top playing Luke Skywalker as he blows up the Death Star.”

Brandon's dedication and endurance will mirror that of Star Wars fans standing in lines at movie theaters worldwide. "I feel a sense of solidarity and camaraderie," he says. “May the Force be with them. Hopefully someone will save me a seat!”

Says the Galley Brother: "At least he picked the best game."

Friday, April 22, 2005

Benedict and Europe

In a fabulous piece Joseph Bottum wonders if Benedict XVI might be the last European pope:
After nearly three centuries of enlightened disdain for religion, Europe is about as dechristianized as it's likely to get; everyone who's going to leave the
Church already has, and still there are millions of believers scattered across the continent--to say nothing of the billion or so who don't happen to live a train ride away from Rome. In all likelihood, the European Union and the national governments will soon cave in and grant their Muslim immigrants the religious exemptions those governments have consistently refused to grant Catholics. And that will prove what the Vatican claimed all the way back in its struggles with the French Revolution: The European form of Enlightenment secularism and laïcité was never some purely philosophical stand on the necessary political separation of church and state; it always began and ended with anti-Catholicism.

It still does. As the refusal to mention Christianity in the historical preface to the new constitution of the European Union proves, Catholics in Western Europe are going to have to look out for themselves. They're only a remnant, but they're still a large one, and to them Benedict XVI can continue carrying the message of the Church--even though they live on a continent where the Italian conservative Rocco Buttiglione was not allowed to become a European commissioner because, it was argued, his Catholicism was incompatible with the office, and where influential French figures protested loudly when France's president dared to attend John Paul II's funeral.

Amazing piece. It should be your first read this weekend.
With regard to Nats mascot Screech, kudos to Galley reader "Patrick" who proves the name Screech is fitting since he'll be "Dustin' the Diamond." As for "That Dude from Philly," props as well for the reference to Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, though I'd much rather see Jessie Spano. (And whatever happened to Lark Voorhies?) This brings me to "Duane," who laments our mutual knowledge of SBTB. There is nothing to lament, Duane. That show was a celebration of all that is good and wholesome in America.

On the other hand, I recently came across an episode of Happy Days. It was but a fleeting moment (probably on TV Land), but it was clearly one of the decrepit episodes sometime in the 50th or 60th season, ca. 1984. How could I tell? The show is supposed to take place in the 1950s and early 1960s, but for some reason Erin Moran is sporting a perm. What were they thinking?

The Return of Ewing?

The Associated Press recently reported that Pat Ewing Jr., son of Georgetown legend Patrick Ewing, has decided to transfer from Indiana University to Georgetown. Other press reports say this has yet to be confirmed by GU officials, but most believe the deal is all but sealed. If so, the Hoyas will acquire a rather sizable forward in Ewing Jr., who is 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds. The only problem at the moment are his stats: As a Hoosier, Ewing only started 5 games, averaging 4 points and 3.8 rebounds. (In addition, he would have to sit out the next season.) But if Brandon Bowman (mistakenly) decides to go pro--he has already announced his intention to enter the NBA Draft--we will need all the help we can get. (Bowman will not be retaining an agent for the draft, however, which means he can still opt out at the last minute after testing the waters.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Something I thought that went unnoticed during the infamous Dateline special on Michael Jackson from a few years ago was the passing reference to child actor Macauley Culkin and his brother having slept with Michael Jackson in the singer's bedroom at the Neverland Ranch. Hadn't anyone tried to follow this up with an interview with Culkin, now 24?

The actor has now agreed to testify in the Jackson trial, insisting that despite a guard claiming to have witnessed some inappropriate behavior on the part of Michael, nothing unseemly took place when the boys were, well, home alone.

Nothing unseemly, that is, except a sleepover with a grown man.

Uncle Grambo, Sixers Talk

Over at whatevs, Uncle Grambo has crossed a line of civility:
If your Uncle Grambo had any say in papal affairs, I would've cast my ballot for Darko Milicic. Hey Hot-Lanta, how'd it feel getting lit up for 16 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists last nizz by the #2 pick in the 2003 draft? Yodel atcha, Darvin Ham.

That's just low.

But I hope Larry "What Can You Do for Me?" Brown tries running Darkicic at the Sixers this week. The Ig Dog will have something nice for him.

On an unrelated note, thanks to Grambo for this link to the funniest celebrity blogging since the Michael Bay Blog. I know, you don't believe that anything could ever compare to Dating Fez, right? Well go read the Orel Hershiser and make your own judgments.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Hard Line on Ratzinger

I've gone and expanded the collection of media outrages on Pope Benedict XVI over at The Daily Standard. Honestly, no matter what you've prepared yourself for, you won't believe it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Little Close to the Bone?

Forget gay marriage, here's the real reason Andrew Sullivan is so upset about Pope Benedict XVI:
"We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires."
--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Sound like anyone you know?

Tomorrow's News Analysis Today!

Reuters carries this story on Pope Benedict XVI:
German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the strict defender of Catholic orthodoxy for the past 23 years, was elected Pope on Tuesday despite a widespread assumption he was too old and divisive to win election.

I'd ask readers to post in the comments section every variation of this sentence that you see over the next couple days.

When you leave your offerings, be sure to give the source and, where possible, a link. And if the comments aren't working, send an email to Thanks.

Update: "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, the church's leading hard-liner, was elected the new pope Tuesday evening in the first conclave of the new millennium."
--William J. Kole, Associated Press

"Thanks for your emails both sympathizing and telling me to leave the Church entirely. But I am still in shock. This was not an act of continuity. There is simply no other figure more extreme than the new Pope on the issues that divide the Church. No one. He raised the stakes even further by his extraordinarily bold homily at the beginning of the conclave, where he all but declared a war on modernity, liberalism (meaning modern liberal democracy of all stripes) and freedom of thought and conscience. . . . His views on the subordinate role of women in the Church and society, the marginalization of homosexuals (he once argued that violence against them was predictable if they kept pushing for rights), the impermissibility of any sexual act that does not involve the depositing of semen in a fertile uterus, and the inadmissability of any open discourse with other faiths reveal him as even more hardline than the previous pope."
--Andrew Sullivan

"And what is the creed of the Church? That is for the Grand Inquisitor to decide."
--Andrew Sullivan

"And so the Catholic church accelerates its turn toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century."
--Andrew Sullivan

" A man of deep personal faith who choked up as he delivered the homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger also has alienated some Roman Catholics with his zeal in enforcing church orthodoxy."
--Melissa Eddy, Associated Press

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a hard-line doctrinal watchdog, was elected by Roman Catholic cardinals in Vatican City today as the successor to the enormously popular John Paul II as pope for the world's one billion Catholics. . . . The Catholic Church is hugely divided and many of its members are seriously disaffected."
--Daryl Strickland, Los Angeles Times

Update II: "In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination."

" Joseph Ratzinger, the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, turned 78 last Saturday and is widely expected to maintain John Paul II's deeply conservative line."
--London Telegraph

"Hardline Catholics got their man Tuesday, when the College of Cardinals elected its dean, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as the 265th pope. . . . Ratzinger is generally considered to have been a driving force behind several of the Catholic Church's strictest and most social divisive moves in recent years. In particular, he has held the line on homosexuality, women's ordination, and the vein of progressive thinking known as liberation theology. Going into the secret conclave, many observers wondered whether the cardinals would seek a kind of compromise figure, but that was not to be."
--Rema Rahman, Village Voice

"Hard-liner Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the leader of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics after the conclave of 115 Cardinals ended Tuesday evening."

Update III: "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a hard-line guardian of conservative doctrine, was elected the new pope Tuesday evening in the first conclave of the new millennium."

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a strict doctrinal conservative who believes the church should hold fiercely to its fundamental beliefs against the pressures of secularism, emerged from St. Peter’s Basilica as Pope Benedict XVI today."
--Ken Dilanian and Matthew Schofeld, Knight Ridder

Cheers to Jason

The official selection committee of Galley Slaves seconds the White House's choice of Washington D.C. educator Jason Kamras—a friendly acquaintance of ours—as national teacher of the year. We are really impressed with his fine work, and his modest demeanor. Really, you talk to the guy about teaching, and he acts TOTALLY like it ain't no big thing. USA Today story

Outrage of the Week

Next week, American Idol's stunningly talented host Ryan Seacrest will be getting his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame--something Mel Gibson, Robert Redford, and Clint Eastwood have yet to accomplish. You see, it's one thing to direct Academy Award-winning films and deliver memorable performances, but have these guys ever tried interviewing a singer who just got harangued by Simon?

(How would you feel if you were Billy Joel or Kevin Kline, upon learning that you would be getting a star on the Walk of Fame this year, then learning who else was getting one?)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Things are good for Washington sports lovers. The Wizards are going to the playoffs and the Redskins (and Caps) have yet to lose.

But clearly the big story is the return of baseball. For this brief spell, the Washington Nationals are undefeated at home and lead their division. Crowd turnout is expected to be massive throughout the season--much to the annoyance of Peter Angelos. But in the midst of all this, the team introduced its new mascot, an eagle named ... Screech?

I guess it's better than the Expo mascot Youppi! But still, I wonder what were the runners-up? Zack? AC Slader? Mr. Belding?
I've elaborated a bit more on the European Parliament's putting the smack down on those in the E.U. who are shamelessly attempting to lift the arms embargo on China and, in particular, the interesting role played by German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, in this week's Weekly Standard.

With regard to the "Carpe Noctum" item, my apologies for the misspelling, which was taken directly from the Washington Post. I should have known better since, on the contrary Cranky Yankee, I took two years of Latin in high school!

Mea culpa, mea culpa.

Writing: Jargon Preservation

Galley Friend M.R. sends along a link to Kung Fu Monkey, a blog run by screenwriter John Rogers. This post on screenwriting jargon is priceless. Find out what a "Bono" or a "Gilligan cut" are. For example:
"a Van Dyke": leaving a scene, usually a party scene, early and then starting the next scene with a phone conversation which elaborates and expands the previous scene while also introducing new information. A nice bit of shorthand.

From, of course, the Dick Van Dyke show. You'd leave the party scene at the point of, say, Laura downing her third drink and Rob realizing she was out of control. You'd then come back to Rob on the phone the next day, talking to Buddy: "Yes. Yes, all of them. And a pony! What? The producer I'm trying to impress was there? Why didn't you tell me!"

Don't miss it.

The Courts and Schiavo

Patterico has a convincing post on why federal courts should have granted the Schiavo injunction. It's yet another blow to the faux legal-process-über-alles types in the Reynolds camp.

Patterico also has links to original documents from the case and some interesting excerpts. Particularly interesting is testimony from Michael Schiavo during his malpractice suit:
Page 17:

9 Tell the jury what’s going on now.

10 A. Right here, basically, you can see she’s dressed,

11 she’s already had her shower and everything. We would get

12 her dressed, put her shoes and socks on. I’m trying out her

13 hands there. You have to keep the inside of the hands,

14 since she’s contracted, you have to keep them dry because

15 infection can set in, and I usually do a little bit of range

16 of motion with her.

17 Q. And while you’re doing that, do you talk to her?

18 A. Yes, I am talking to her right now telling her

19 it’s okay.

20 Q. She doesn’t like that very much?

21 A. No, she doesn’t. She does feel pain.

Page 23:

8 Q. Does she express discomfort when some of these

9 things are happening to her?

10 A. Yes. Yes, she does.

11 Q. How does she do that?

12 A. She’ll moan and groan.

Then there's this:
Pages 26-28:

16 Q. Michael, have you started to go to nursing school?

17 A. Yes, I did.

18 Q. Where did you go to nursing school?

19 A. I’m going – I’m attending St. Pete Junior

20 College.

21 Q. When did you start?

22 A. Approximately a year ago.

23 Q. When do you hope to finish?

24 A. We’re looking at something like 1994.

25 Q. Why did you want to learn to be a nurse?


1 A. Because I enjoy it and I want to learn more how

2 to take care of Terry.

3 Q. You’re a young man. Your life is ahead of you.

4 Your future is beyond you. Up the road, when you look up

5 the road, what do you see for yourself?

6 A. I see myself hopefully finishing school and taking

7 care of my wife.

8 Q. Where do you want to take care of your wife?

9 A. I want to bring my wife home.

10 Q. If you had the resources available to you, if you

11 had the equipment and the people, would you do that?

12 A. Yes, I would, in a heartbeat.

13 Q. How do you feel about being married to Terry now?

14 A. I feel wonderful. She’s my life and I wouldn’t

15 trade her for the world. I believe in my – I believe in my

16 wedding vows.

17 Q. What do you mean? You want to take a minute?

18 A. Yeah.

19 MR. WOODWORTH: If the Court would let us take a

20 minute.

21 Q. (BY MR. WOODWORTH:) You okay?

22 A. Yeah. I’m sorry.

23 Q. Have – you said you believe in your wedding vows,

24 what do you mean by that?

25 A. I believe in the vows that I took with my wife,


1 through sickness, in health, for richer or poorer. I

2 married my wife because I love her and I want to spend the

3 rest of my life with her. I’m going to do that.

That, of course, was before he remembered Terri's long-standing and unequivocal wish to be killed.

Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, and the rest are lucky no one's paying attention to this anymore. We're lucky that Patterico is still on the case.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mental Ward

How good is Matt Labash? Check that--how great is Matt Labash. Yes, he's a friend, but get a load of this line from his A+ hang-out with Ward Churchill:
Having headed the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement (AIM) for several decades, having boasted of his affiliation with the Black Panthers and his days teaching bomb-making to the Weathermen, he's more than just an angry professor. He's a nostalgia ride at the Aging Radical Theme Park. Pay ten bucks, and it's like watching your parents' college yearbooks transubstantiated into flesh and blood.

He gets better from there.

Friday, April 15, 2005

It's not often we get to heap praise on European bureaucratic institutions but the European Parliament well-deserves it--at least this week. Yesterday the EP passed a resolution by a whopping 431 to 85 opposing the European Union's attempts to lift the weapons ban on China. The resolution sought to link a lifting of the embargo to a list of demands including human rights reforms--demands they know full well China will never agree to meet. Even more stunning is a line in the resolution describing Taiwan as "a model of democracy for the whole of China."

Carpe Noctem

In this past Wednesday's Washington Post, Steve Fainaru had a terrific piece about a platoon known as The Violators in Iraq. They're the type of guys who make sure it's the terrorists who don't sleep at night. Fainaru opens his story with the platoon ambushing the insurgents:

From inside a vacant building, Sgt. 1st Class Domingo Ruiz watched through a rifle scope as three cars stopped on the other side of the road. A man carrying a machine gun got out and began to transfer weapons into the trunk of one of the cars.

"Take him down," Ruiz told a sniper.

The sniper fired his powerful M-14 rifle and the man's head exploded, several American soldiers recalled. As he fell, more soldiers opened fire, killing at least one other insurgent. After the ambush, the Americans scooped up a piece of skull and took it back to their base as evidence of the successful mission.

The Violators' insignia is a skull with blood dripping out of its mouth. (As Bart Simpson would say, "Cooooooool.")

This One's On Me

Yes, it's my fault. I've been making uncharitable comments about Andrew Sullivan's abandoned promise to stop blogging. Now he has responded:
A few of you have had the temerity, the chutzpah, the salty chocolate balls, to ask if I've given up on my decision to drastically reduce my blogging commitments. Er, well, the thing is . . . Actually, I have. In deference to my relationship (and my sanity), I'm not blogging in the early hours any more. I'm spooning.

Yup, my bad. Sorry guys.

[Hold up--how does the sleep-apnea mask fit into the spooning picture? -ed I won't dignify that with a response.]

Democrats, Gödel, and Fox News

Donkey Rising carries post on Red vs. Blue corporations, the idea being that "The beauty of selective patronage and boycotts is that it is a way that rank and file Dems can get involved in supporting their party on a daily basis and their success does not depend in any way on politicians. Reducing a company's profits by even 1 percent can start stockholders howling for reform."

Here's the problem: One of "Ten Bluest Corporations" in America is . . . News Corp!?!

But wait! How can that be? Rupert Murdoch . . . Roger Ailes . . . Karl Rove . . . Ken Lay . . . Halliburton . . . Bush . . . evil? Right? No, wait, arrgghhhh!

Wouldn't it be fun to have a Daily Kos thread devoted to untangling this Gödel-like incompleteness problem?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

NPR Listeners: Too Much Pope!

The blog Get Religion notes that NPR's ombudsman has a column up about listener complaints about their coverage of John Paul II.

Seems that NPR listeners thought they were being too "adulatory" and in any account, were overplaying the story. NPR's ombudsman explains:
Listeners asked a number of pointed, and I thought correct, questions about NPR's coverage:

· At what point does popular sentiment for the Pope outweigh the journalistic obligation to disinterest and skepticism?

· Is NPR prepared to do this for the deaths of other religious leaders? If so, why, and if not, why not?

· Was the coverage based more on the depth of advanced planning rather than the news value of the event?

· Did anyone at NPR consider the needs of the listeners and suggest that the coverage be scaled back?

Good question, that last one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

After Abortion

Emily, over at After Abortion, has a long post about I' Worth reading.

Ratzinger Rules!

Galley Friend DBM has passed on this link to the official website of the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club. (The link actually takes you to the merchandise page, in which fans of the papal frontrunner can purchase beer steins, t-shirts, and hats expressing their support for His Eminence.)

The Onion for Evangelicals

Galley Friend D.E. points us to, which is basically The Onion for Christers. And get this: It's funny. Really, really funny. Take this headline from today:
Rapture takes two

OTTAWA — The Rapture occurred March 31, 2005, at 9:43 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time and took both people on the planet whose theology was exactly correct.

Dan Wilson of Ottawa, Canada, was snatched away while sleeping.

"He spent years refining his eschatological scheme," says his wife. "Just last week he told me he had it all right, but I still disagreed with him on a minor point. I regret that now."

Rejna Thanawalla of New Delhi, India, also experienced the Rapture, say friends.

"She knew exactly what the books of Revelation and Daniel meant," they say. "Sadly, none of us listened to her."

In a surprise, Tim LaHaye says he was "slightly wrong on the subject of the Beast," and was left behind. Other prophecy experts say they, too, botched minor points in their end times charts.

"Looks like we'll have to stay and wait this out," said one disappointed pastor.

There's lots more gold over at LarkNews, too. Worth your valuable time.

I'm Just Saying . . .

That it's pretty obvious to me that the Eagles are going to go 16-0 this season. Go ahead, look at the schedule and tell me where you see a loss.

More on Al Jazeera and the BBC

The Bad Hair Blog has an account of program at Princeton where Al Jazeera's New York bureau chief told the audience how his network views the world. Very striking.

Abortion Apologetics

Patricia Beninato has a blog called I', "a site where women can share their positive experiences with abortion."
The Law Jedi has a great post on the NAACP: "Playing the Race Card is OUR Job!"
This post by the New Donkey is worth reading because (1) It's another hopeful sign for the Democratic party and (2) It's a fun look at the liberal communitarian vs. libertarian debate.

More Bracketology

Galley Friend E.W. sends along this link to a very special tournament.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Will they serve Tang at the clambake?

One of the more subtle rewards of The Simpsons is watching carefully to see where the writers have inserted a bit of dialogue for the sole purpose of trying to pull one over on the network censors. The most famous example of this being Homer's phone call to Bill Clinton from the episode when he became an astronaut. ("Hello, is this President Clinton? good. I figured if anyone knew where to get some tang it would be you.")

Now Lisa de Moraes writes:
Earlier this year, PBS received a sharply worded letter from new Education Secretary Margaret Spellings for using some of her department's Ready to Learn program funds on an episode of "Postcards From Buster" in which the title character, an animated rabbit, visits children in Vermont who are living with their two mothers. Spellings demanded that all mention of Buster's clambake be stricken from the offending episode.

Conan would be proud.

The Seventh Sign

The Apocalypse is nigh:
MTV: Would you ever want to remake a Monroe movie like "The Seven Year Itch" or "Some Like it Hot"

Paris Hilton: Yeah, there's some talk.

Run. Cry. Hide. Be very afraid.

British Invasion, Al-Jazeera Style

Galley Friend J.E. sends along a link to this story:

Al-Jazeera, the controversial Arab all-news channel is offering top salaries to recruit British journalists for its English-language channel due to launch later this year, the London Sunday Observer reported. The news channel is creating a new newsroom in London, the newspaper said, and is likely to attract several of the more than 300 journalists that the BBC is expected to lay off as part of its current financial retrenchment.

How will we know the difference?

Damn (classy) Yankees

Soxblog is bothered by how gracious and classy the Yankees were yesterday:
. . . the Yanks were annoyingly classy. There was no reason they had to observe the entire ceremony, and their opting to do so reflected positively on the entire Yankee organization. In saner moments, I’ve admitted that Derek Jeter is a class act and that Joe Torre is one of the great sportsmen of our era. Thank god the Yankees have A-Rod and Steinbrenner. If not for them, the Yankees might actually be difficult to hate.

What soxblog doesn't understand is that it is their wholesome good manners which makes this group of Yankees so insidious. Tom Boswell captured this terror back in a classic Washington Post column in March of 2000:
Some trends in society are so dangerous they must be nipped in the bud. Like the New York Yankees.

Remember, they did this before. Let them win a few pennants and you can never get rid of them. Generations later, fans are still asking, "Where was Congress?"

Sure, everybody thought it was so much fun when Babe Ruth came to the Yankees and helped them win the pennant in 1921, 1922 and 1923. Why, the Yanks even let the Washington Senators--already established as "first in war, first in peace and last in the American League"--go to the World Series in 1924 and 1925. What greater proof of civic-mindedness could there be?

Where was the danger? The Babe was about as threatening as El Duque. What's not to like? Big guy, loves orphans, likes to eat. Same deal now. How do you root against a man who defected from Cuba in a fishing boat? Bernie Williams plays classical guitar. Derek Jeter loves his mom. Joe Torre rubs Don Zimmer's head for luck. Paul O'Neill plays in the World Series on the day his dad dies.

It's all a trick. The teamwork, the camaraderie, the compassion for Darryl Strawberry's flawed humanity, the perfect unselfish baseball played with precision and pride. Don't believe it for a second. I've been there. I've lived it. I know where all this "tolerate the Yankees" can lead. It's a primrose path to perdition. . . .

Granted, these are difficult days for Yankee Hatred. We must force ourselves to look past the four superb starting pitchers, the immaculate closer Mariano Rivera and the 743 middle relievers who are all better than anybody the Orioles have.

It's also brutal to watch as one potential Yankee controversy after another dissolves into geniality and disgusting bonhomie. Jeter wants a six-year contract. Settles for one year for $ 10 million. Raw deal, right, dude? Derek says, "No problem." Rivera loses his arbitration case--and $ 2 million. Instead of being angry, he says he won his case last year. It evens out. Tino Martinez even okays a contingency that lets the Yankees dump him if they think he's washed up. Hey, if that's what's best for the ballclub. . . .

Yes, this could be a long tough summer for hatred. At times, you'll feel lonely. Total strangers will volunteer that Joe Torre is "such a teddy bear" and David Cone "is so witty and sophisticated." Remind them to be wary. This is just the narrow end of the Yankee wedge. Give them an inch of respect and they'll end up your favorite team. You'll learn to love foul balls and four-hour games. "Oh, look, the Yankees are wearing out another starting pitcher. What bat control. They're such artists."

Fill your ears with wax. Tie yourself to the mast. Look away from the sirens. It always starts this way. But we all know how it ends. Someday, before you know it, you've gained 50 pounds, your IQ has been cut in half, you've got a 32-ounce beer in each hand, you're sitting above the visitors bullpen in Yankee Stadium and, veins bulging, you're screaming, "Red Sox stink." Over and over 'til you pass out.

Never forget, it can happen to you. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Or something like that.

I bow down before the Bos.

John Paul the Great

I know that some readers may be suffering from papal overload, but Jody Bottum's piece on John Paul II is amazing, beautiful stuff:
History labors--a worn machine, sick with torsion, ill-meshed--and every repair of an old fault ruptures something new. Or so it seems, much of the time. Our historical choices are limited, constrained by the poverty of what appears possible at any given moment. To be a good leader is, for most figures who walk the world's stage, merely to pick the best among the available options--to push back where one can, to hold on to the good that remains, to resist a little the stream of history as it seems to flow toward its cataract.

For the past decade and a half, John Paul II was a good leader. He had his failures: losing the fight for recognition of Christianity in the European constitution, watching the democratic energy he generated during his 1998 visit to Cuba dissipate without much apparent damage to Castro's dictatorship, seeing his efforts to influence China's anti-religious regime peter out. But he had his successes as well: convincing even his bitterest opponents in the Church to join in at least the verbal rejection of abortion, regularizing Vatican relations with Israel to allow his millennial visit to the Holy Land, inspiring the defeat of the Mafia in Sicily.

With the drama of his final illness and death, he offered a lesson about the fullness, the arc, of human life. With the prophetic voice he used in his later writings, he pointed to spiritual possibilities that were being closed by what he once called the "disease of superficiality." Always he was present,
one of the world's conspicuous figures, pushing on history where he could, guiding the Church as much as it would be guided, choosing the best among the available options--doing all that a good leader should.

But before that--for over a decade at the beginning of his pontificate, from his installation as pope in 1978 through the final collapse of Soviet communism in 1991--John Paul II was something more, something different, something beyond mere possibility. He wasn't simply a good leader. He was inspired, and he seemed to walk through walls. . . .

If you can believe it, it gets better from there.
I just came out of a breakfast with Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. For those who haven't met the man in person, he is much taller and more physically fit than he appears to be on television. He is also downright personable and chatty. But what he is mostly is a devout Christian. He was asked to give a talk at the Metropolitan Club, and what he talked about was the importance of Scripture and playing "on God's team." I am sure there were those who didn't expect this to be a deeply personal and religious conversation but it was nevertheless reassuring that the winner of three Super Bowl championship titles and owner of a highly successful NASCAR racing team is still firmly rooted to the ground.

Also in attendance was back-up quarterback Mark Brunell, another man well-connected to his faith. In person he is rather friendly and earnest. Asked about showing up to the coach's "voluntary" practices, he said it was more than voluntary. Brunell also seemed taller than his stats suggest (6'1") and leaner. I admit I felt bad for hating him for his performance last season. He's a nice guy, I thought, but why did he have to be so bad last year?! Am I wrong to have hated him?! My conscience berated me.

Gibbs, incidentally, offered no comment regarding linebacker LaVar Arrington's remarks in today's Washington Post about not feeling the love from the coaching staff. (Gibbs actually said he didn't want to know what LaVar said until after he's had some breakfast in him.)

Monday, April 11, 2005

To wit: Eric Pfeiffer has a good post on the New York Times op-ed shopping.

High Steaks in AC

There were only two problems I had with the Sopranos' critically acclaimed episode known as "Pine Barrens," directed by Steve Buscemi and revolving around the attempted disposal of a Russian commando's body in the deep woods of New Jersey.

Problem one: The episode was not actually shot in the Pine Barrens but in Upstate New York.

Problem two: Paulie Walnuts comforts Christopher, who is starving, by saying that after they dump off the body they can go to Atlantic City and eat at Morton's.

At the time, there was no Morton's in Atlantic City and with some reason--AC is no LV. But as various travel writers have recently noted, the Shining City on the Sea is undergoing some sort of rebirth, marked by Steve Wynn's Borgata and "The Quarter" at Tropicana. Add to this a new Morton's Steakhouse located at Caesar's Palace, adding a bit more realism to Paulie's line.

(Though as Sopranos followers will recall,the closest they came to eating a Morton's steak was a mix of frozen ketchup, mustard, and relish packets.)

Eric Pfeiffer Reporting

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but National Review has made a spectacular hire by bringing Eric Pfeiffer onboard to run their Beltway Buzz blog. It's a great move for all concerned.

Hey, Vijay!

I know, it's almost mid-afternoon on Monday and we haven't hated on anyone yet. That's about to change. Soxblog has a great item with this anecdote about the lovable Vijay Singh:
I have a friend who attended Augusta something like five years ago. At the time, the friend was a shy 19 year old and a scratch golfer. He idolized the pros.

As he walked by the driving range, he saw Vijay Singh playing shots off the front slope of the driving range from the rough with his three iron. Every shot was going high and landing soft right at the flag 225 yards away (these guys are ridiculously good).

My friend watched this display for several minutes and then said, “Hey Vijay, great shooting.” Vijay turned around and said, “No shit, did you see the name on the fucking bag?”

Ah, the gentleman's game. Remember that the next time someone tells you that spectators have to be respectful during play.

Hello from the Children of Planet Earth

Rick Weiss laments NASA's pulling the plug on the Voyager program in yesterday's Washington Post Outlook section. He is right that our curiousity has waned and even makes a clever reference to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. But he makes no reference whatsoever to the far more interesting Golden Record, let alone its pivotal role in Starman.

Galley Slave JVL disagrees profoundly with the importance of the Voyagers, saying a real space probe would be black and have squid-like legs.
Uncle Grambo may need medical attention. It's like his birthday, Christmas, and his bat mitzvah all at once.

Moore at the Movies

Byron York has a bit of box-office analysis of Fahrenheit 9/11 that would make Edward Jay Epstein proud.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ever been to the Pope Room at a Buca de Beppo? Things are a changin'.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Narf! Plu'Tock!

What happens when you cross Pinky and the Brian with Klingon mythology? Click here to find out. (Then watch your coolness factor plummet by 2d4.)

Duck Duty

Greatest story ever.

Spring Break Shark Attack

Courtesy of Galley Brother B.J.: Go here and click on the image.

Contest Alert

The Law Jedi is running a little contest for most ridiculous media comments during the Pope coverage. Enter early and often.

The Ordinary Side of the Extraordinary

My friend Chris Levenick (that's with a "c") has the best essay you're likely to read about the Pope this morning. Enjoy.

Separated at Birth?

Have Natalie Morales and Tina Fey ever appeared in the same room together at 30 Rock?

Schiavo Again?

Patterico, who deserves some sort of medal for the writing he did on the Schiavo case, points us to Fr. Robert Johansen, who is writing on the case of Mae Margourik:
85 year-old Mae Margourik of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Margourik suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.

Furthermore, under Georgia law, if there is no power of attorney specifying a health care decisionmaker, such authority is given to the closest living relatives. Mae's brother, A. B. McLeod, and sister, Lonnie Ruth Mullinax, are both still alive and capable of making such decisions. They opposed Mae's transfer to hospice, and are fighting to save her life. But in spite of the lack of a power of attorney, and the fact that there are closer living relatives who should be given precedence by Georgia law, Ms. Gaddy sought an emergency appointment as guardian from the local probate court. The probate judge, Donald Boyd (who, I am told, is not an attorney and does not have a law degree), granted Gaddy's request, thereby giving her the power to starve and dehydrate Margourik to death, though such an action is contrary to the provisions of the living will.

Where are Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds now?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Just Asking . . .

If John Paul II had done everything exactly the same way during his papacy but had embraced gay marriage, do you think Andrew Sullivan would still consider him a "failure"?

My Share of Bellowing

I wrote about Saul Bellow once, a review of his Collected Stories in The Washington Times, and since I'm not embarrassed by the piece (in my book, a pretty high standard for a 3-and-a-half-year-old article), I thought to post it:

Saul Bellow's stories of character and cognition
David Skinner

Saul Bellow doesn't carry the reader aloft with otherworldly visions; he holds him fast with quick, penetrating close-ups of the familiar. But in his hands, the familiar gains such power these fleeting insights may as well be strange and new. The result might be amazement, with Mr. Bellow's revved-up perceptiveness, or even dread, as the reader gets locked in with these characters, all of them heavy breathers who can't be ignored.

There is something grubby even about Mr. Bellow's most elegant characters, an inner Herzog furious at life for making us the low beings we are. In the well packed pages of "Collected Stories," which bills itself as the first major collection of Mr. Bellow's short fiction, there is wide display of such I-and-the-world antagonism. It is the natural effect of the Bellow passion for character. Make character preeminent and the other engines of storytelling become auxiliary. This is not really a complaint: Mr. Bellow elevates character, in all senses of the word, well beyond commonly recognized boundaries. No writer quite loves a psychological tic, physical deformity, or an internal compulsion as fully as Mr. Bellow does. So much that his work is concisely described as portraiture.

What then - if not direct conflict - gives a Bellow story action? What is it that happens if not mostly a plot? In these short stories, as in Mr. Bellow's novels, the answer, for the most part, is cognition. "Our consciousness is a staging area, a field of operations for all kinds of enterprises that make free use of it," Mr. Bellow writes in an afterword. He is thinking of the modern reader, bemoaning the "idea men, advertisers, communications people, columnists, anchormen, et cetera" who make a living on the public's attention. But the consciousness of Mr. Bellow's characters is no less under siege from memory, ideas, stories to make sense of people and things.

Rob Rexler in "By the St. Lawrence" visits Quebec, his birthplace, to present a lecture. He is really not well enough to be making the trip ("I've been playing hopscotch at death's door"). But thoughts of the grave are merely a prelude to the story's action: remembering an eventful childhood.

"A Silver Dish" opens with Woody Selbst wondering how to mourn his father and from this all things flow. His beliefs (that "God's purpose was . . . that this world should be a love world") and his deeds are all recalled and presented in summary, explanatory premises of the man he's become. Death, concentrating the mind, often frames these portraits. All the better to judge a single life in its fullest aspect.

"The Bellarosa Connection" is another story distilled through the mental exercise of the main character. The unnamed narrator tells us in the first paragraph: "Memory is life." He is an awful WASP for an American Jew, spending his retirement studying the antiques in his old American mansion in Philadelphia. His nature serves as a lighthearted counterpoint to the death-defying escape from war-torn Europe being recalled. Which points to another element of the Bellow method: comment.

The rememberer may as well behave like a blue-blooded WASP since his charming, utterly American unseriousness guarantees that he is several degrees removed from the great recent calamity of his people. Fated to remember the Holocaust, he opens a gimicky self-improvement business whose only service is to help people improve their memory skills. In such hands, drama, action, and conflict are called (or rather, recalled) like a sporting event and this likable old outcast is the announcer.

Clara Velde in "A Theft" is also something of a hedgehog, a one-idea type. Her idea is a person, a man, her true love. But this man of her dreams doesn't just live in her mind. He's a regular part of her life in New York City, though politics keeps him in Washington and other women (he's a divorce several times over) have always kept him from marrying Clara. In the dialectic of this story, Clara finds herself sitting on another idea, the perfect antithesis to her primary idea, a woman for the man she loves. What might be, then, mere matchmaking in the hands of a less cerebral author, one less in awe of the power of character, becomes an intellectual necessity in Mr. Bellow's story. Thus Clara Velde struggles to make peace with herself by actively pursuing a most hypothetical whim.

The importance of ideation, the mental processing of life, is common to all Bellow stories. And one thing that is uncommon about Mr. Bellow is his way of building stories around the life of the mind. His are no disembodied intellectuals who bore you with endless spontaneous essays on the platonic ideals that order their existence. These are flesh and blood men and women. Rob Rexler, a Bertolt Brecht expert, has "an abrupt neck, a long jaw, and a knot-back." Clara Velde's idea, the Washington player, is a Kissinger-like intellectual of Clintonian habits. Another big brain works at a for-profit think tank with an international clientele; his obsession, however, is the hardscrabble history of a nomadic tribe. A revealing story along these lines is "What Kind of Day Did You Have?," which first appeared in Vanity Fair. It chronicles a 24-hour shift in the job of mistress to a dying, famous intellectual and art critic.

The married girlfriend is ready to surrender custody of her children for the privilege of accompanying the old Marxist on a short trip. And her lover is untroubled by the price she pays. Mr. Bellow gives over most of the story to the mistress. Less space seems to be needed for the compact ratiocinations of the old man himself, who never tries to sugarcoat his own cynical nature. "Evidently," Victor Wulpy has understood, "whether he liked it or not, his was a common sexual type. He was beyond feeling the disgrace of its commoness. She kept him going, and he had to confess that he wouldn't know what to do at all if he didn't keep going."

For an intellectual, Victor Wulpy is supremely aware of certain vulgar facts that his own erotic tastes lean toward the bourgeois and that his mistress is anything but singular. With her rounded figure and minimal brain thrust, she holds no office in his august life, merely a sexual function, the erotic equivalent of a chair for him to sit in.

This role she clings to passionately; to him it is of less importance, though necessary. Lower nature and the life of the mind go together easily in the portraiture of Saul Bellow. And to gaze on death, as Victor Wulpy does repeatedly, brings it all together in one person, one life, one portrait.

"Collected Stories" assembles 13 such portraits, the best of which look well next to Bellow's most important works, and the least of which still provoke far more interest than the numerous volumes of American fiction coming out this season.
David Skinner is assistant managing editor of The Weekly Standard.
Father Bryce Sibley links to some wonderful pictures taken by people waiting on line to view the Pope.
The Moose brings us good news about the Democratic party.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Genius over at soxblog:
The Sox own the Yankees now. Facts are facts.

Here’s what happened today: The game entered the 9th inning with the Yankees clinging to a 3-2 lead. The once unhittable Mariano Rivera came in for the Yankees to close things out.

But watching from Soxblog Manor in far away Florida, I could tell something strange was afoot. The cretinous Yankee fans were acting like Red Sox fans as Rivera entered the game. Despite their typically crude bluster, I could sense fear in their black hearts. Speaking from personal experience here, I know the biggest choke in the history of professional sports will have an effect on a fandom’s collective psyche. . . . .

From there he gets really mean. I love it.

Number Five Is Alive!

So did anyone know Japan is hosting the 2005 World Expo? And what is the difference between the Expo and the World's Fair? Didn't you think the last of these took place in Knoxville, Tennessee, some twenty years ago?

But as the Post's Anthony Faiola reports, this latest Exposition is worth seeing--especially Japan's showcase of futuristic technology, including driverless cars and the ultimate in virtual reality. The most fascinating (or disturbing) of these innovations is the humanoid robot. "Toyota's tin man," writes Faiola, "had not only an artifial heart of wired circuitry but also artificial lips, lungs and moveable fingers, which allowed him to accompany a human string orchestra on the trumpet." Apparently robots in Japan already serve as "receptionists, night watchmen and tour guides." No word yet if there are any robots in the office of protocol.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Chopped Steak

A few months ago I lamented the disappearance of chopped steak from area restaurants. There still are places in Washington that serve a good chopped steak, including Morton's, the Caucus Room (ground Kobe beef no less!), and even the Post Pub. But readers had also alerted me to the fact that chopped steak is alive and well in the heartland. Over the weekend, on my way to a friend's wedding in Quincy, Illinois, I ate at a diner in Silex, Missouri (population: 206), called J.R. Diamonds Restaurant. The waitress could have been Linda Lavin and naturally she called everyone Hon'. Biscuits and toast were baked fresh on the premises while the fried catfish was the daily special. But there in the midst of the entrees I spotted it: "hamburger steak with mashed potatoes and green beans." The platter did not disappoint. The steak was well-seasoned and not overly cooked, topped with grilled onions and slathered in a dark brown gravy. All for $5.95.

If you ever find yourself on Interstate 70 just north of St. Louis, you may want to stop by J.R. Diamonds for a quick bite and friendly conversation. Just don't be alarmed if you hear the occasional explosion. That would be coming from the quarry next door.

Manolo's Shoe Blog

Cake Editrix Kathy Nelson points all of God's children to this bit of wonderment: Manolo's Shoe Blog.

Unlike Galley Sister M.L., I do not have much of a thing for shoes. But check out this post on Fidel and try not to love the Shoe Blog. I dare you!

More Weigel

The Ethics & Public Policy Center has posted the transcript of a talk George Weigel gave earlier this year on the selection of the next pope. Essential reading.

Peter's Evil Overlord List

Courtesy of Galley Brother B.J.--a list of things one fellow would do if he was elected Evil Overlord:
#8 After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

#17 When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.

#23 I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

#26 No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

#44 I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.

#48 I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

#52 I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.

#90 I will not design my Main Control Room so that every workstation is facing away from the door.

#98 # If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.

New Media

Wretchard makes an interesting point about the consequences of blogs:
Internet self-publishing (blogs) have introduced a genuine element of volatility into the political system. Anyone who watched the Terri Schiavo meme unfold would have noticed how it could take unexpected turns, almost like a live and squirming thing. Indeed, some have argued that the Schiavo story damaged President Bush and the Republican Party. However that may be, it should be clear that Internet memes do not behave like ad campaigns. They are far more uncontrollable and dangerous than the public relations objects of yesteryear. There is a certain irony in the fact that the Gomery inquiry is dealing with a corrupt public relations ad campaign (Adscam) costing hundreds of millions of dollars that is now being done to death by a blog costing several hundred dollars. That fact alone and what is implied by it should give pause.

My own view is that as the world becomes more dependent on information, the cost of purposely maintaining error grows ever higher. It is becoming too expensive to maintain an elaborate lie. The effort necessary to maintain apparent consistency with verifiable information simply grows to high too be worth it. Any database professional knows that the principal strategic danger to information assets is not a physical crash; there are recovery strategies to deal with that. The strategic danger is bad data. A company can recover from a server crash in a few hours; but it can never recover from persistently inaccurate information about its own operations. No information professionals except politicians will knowingly admit self-deception into their sanctum. And the Internet will make them pay the price for that.

Worth thinking about.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Steyn on the Pope

Mark Steyn gets the secular media's misunderstanding of the Pope:
the Guardian thought Karol Wojtyla was "a doctrinaire, authoritarian pontiff". That "doctrinaire" at least suggests the inflexible authoritarian derived his inflexibility from some ancient operating manual - he was dogmatic about his dogma - unlike the New York Times and the Washington Post, which came close to implying that John Paul II had taken against abortion and gay marriage off the top of his head, principally to irk "liberal Catholics". The assumption is always that there's some middle ground that a less "doctrinaire" pope might have staked out: he might have supported abortion in the first trimester, say, or reciprocal partner benefits for gays in committed relationships.

When in Rome

My dear friend and travel writer Kathy McCabe now has a weblog entitled It makes for a terrific addition to her newsletter "Dream of Italy: The Insider's Guide to Undiscovered Italy." (Her subscription-based newsletter comes highly recommended by such authorities as National Geographic Traveler, USA Today, and others.) But for those of you who are contemplating making a pilgrimage to Rome for the funeral of John Paul II, you will especially not want to miss this weblog, with its up-to-date information on transportation and accommodations in the Eternal City. Check it out!
Charles Johnson notes an interesting happening in San Francisco: The city board of supervisors has voted to force bloggers to register with the city's Ethics Commission. And pay a registration fee, too!

Super Size This

David Adesnik has a fabulous post on the documentary Super Size Me, BoBo morality, and the plight of the lumpenbuergertum.

You should read it in its entirety, but here's a taste:
Brooks identifies the SUV as the ultimate Bobo vehicle because of its pseudo-ruggedness, but I think he'd now agree that the smart set has come to regard SUV's as a guilty pleasure. Someday, it will loath them as it does McDonald's.

Still More on the Schiavo "TPM"

Scott Johnson delivers another body blow to the Republican "talking points memo" on Terri Schiavo. This story keeps getting worse for the Post and ABC.


George Weigel on Wojtyla in the Wall Street Journal. Not to be missed:
Some will dismiss him as hopelessly "conservative" in matters of doctrine and morals, although it is not clear how religious and moral truth can be parsed in liberal/conservative terms. The shadows cast upon his papacy by clerical scandal and the misgovernance of some bishops will focus others' attention. John Paul II was the most visible human being in history, having been seen live by more men and women than any other man who ever lived; the remarkable thing is that millions of those people, who saw him only at a great distance, will think they have lost a friend. Those who knew him more intimately experience today a profound sense of personal loss at the death of a man who was so wonderfully, thoroughly, engagingly human--a man of intelligence and wit and courage whose humanity breathed integrity and sanctity.

So there are many ways of remembering and mourning him. Pope John Paul II should also be remembered, however, as a man with a penetrating insight into the currents that flow beneath the surface of history, currents that in fact create history, often in surprising ways.

In a 1968 letter to the French Jesuit theologian, Henri de Lubac, then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla suggested that "a degradation, indeed a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person" was at the root of the 20th century's grim record: two World Wars, Auschwitz and the Gulag, a Cold War threatening global disaster, oceans of blood and mountains of corpses. How had a century begun with such high hopes for the human future produced mankind's greatest catastrophes? Because, Karol Wojtyla proposed, Western humanism had gone off the rails, collapsing into forms of self-absorption, and then self-doubt, so severe that men and women had begun to wonder whether there was any truth at all to be found in the world, or in themselves.

This profound crisis of culture, this crisis in the very idea of the human, had manifested itself in the serial crises that had marched across the surface of contemporary history, leaving carnage in their wake. But unlike some truly "conservative" critics of late modernity, Wojtyla's counter-proposal was not rollback: rather, it was a truer, nobler humanism, built on the foundation of the biblical conviction that God had made the human creature in His image and likeness, with intelligence and free will, a creature capable of knowing the good and freely choosing it. That, John Paul II insisted in a vast number of variations on one great theme, was the true measure of man--the human capacity, in cooperation with God's grace, for heroic virtue.

David Remnick and the Pope

In stark contrast to the Washington Post's analysis is David Remnick's piece on the Pope in the New Yorker.

Remnick writes:
John Paul’s reign has been so long, and last week’s vigil so filled with the imagery of raw human suffering—his last, mute appearance at his window, the increasingly dire bulletins—that it was difficult to bring into focus the extraordinary and vital images of the first days of his papacy, days that helped to re-order the world. . . .

The story of those remarkable years carries with it the temptation of mythmaking and, perhaps, Western self-satisfaction. The Pope’s critique of materialism did not end with his opposition to Communism; it carried over to his critique of the Western world, of consumer culture, and of the decline of the Catholic Church in Europe. His papacy has lasted twenty-six years, and his legacy—as a spiritual leader, a cultural critic, a thinker, a politician, a performer in the media age, and, in his last days, a man determined to provide an example from his own visible demise—is so encompassing that no obituary will make complete sense of it.

Remnick, the great reporter-editor of our day, gets it right. As usual.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Washington Post and the Pope

I generally like Hanna Rosin's work a lot, so I'm doubly shocked by how flawed her analysis of Pope John Paul II: Her basic thesis is that his papacy was a failure. Huh? I've got a longer piece on the matter here.

If I had to bet, I'd wager this is just another case of Kinsleyism run amok. That's fine, but Rosin's a fine writer and reporter. She's better than this.
I've come to resent the media horde that's been staking out my church since Friday morning. I understand that they're just doing their jobs, but I do this for a living too, and there's a respectful, professional way to report on people. And there's the Geraldo way. Most of the reporters inside and outside St. Matthew's in Washington--print, broadcast, and radio--were practicing the latter.

But Fr. Bryce Sibley makes an excellent point:
As I sat up late last night watching FoxNews' coverage of the Holy Father's illness, it dawned on me that continuous cable coverage of this event enables people all over the world to in some virtual way to keep vigil with the Holy Father. As repetitive as the coverage can be, modern media and television coverage gives millions of Catholics around the world an opportunity during the death of a Pope that people have never had before.

It makes the intrusive media just about worth it.

Kinsleyism at Slate

No surprise how Slate covers the passing of the Pope. In a word--Counterintuitive! The headlines:
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Who Will Be the Next Pope?

How They'll Choose Him

Catholic Right vs. Catholic Left on John Paul II's Legacy

Christopher Hitchens on His Sins

That's how you do journalism, folks; you've got to hit the story from unexpected angles, even if it means looking stupid.
Amy Welborn has a very nice post on how quickly time passed under John Paul II, and how his aging was yet another example to us:
It is quite startling - shocking, even, to see those videos of John Paul II in those early days. What a difference 26 years made, and either we barely noticed, or we simply forgot. The vigor, the energy, a middle-aged man with almost a bounce in his step at the intensity of recent years, those images have almost been forgotten, as our eyes have been drawn to the difficulties, the dramatically changed visage, the faltering step.

At every point, though, we've understood our response to the changing face and aging body as rooted in the same place that our reaction to the younger, energetic Pope was: what hath the Spirit wrought here? What are we being taught? What does God confront us with here?

More Notes from CNN

The transcripts aren't in Nexis yet from CNN's coverage, but they'll be a goldmine for anyone who wants to a week to sift through them. Last night someone referred to John Paul II's "iron-fisted" rule. (Huh?) And during a packaged segment the lovely Paul Zahn began speculating over the Pope's successor, noting that the person who might have the most influence on the election is JP II himself, since he packed the College with people likely to hold to his "conservative" positions on issue such as "abortion" and the "role of women" in the clergy.

It's as if the producers at CNN have absolutely no idea what Catholicism is. It isn't the Pope's fault, for instance, that the Church is against abortion--the respect for life is a central teaching of Christ! Even the super-duper liberal Paulist types are pro-life. This is just sheer idiocy on the part of CNN. Either that or, you know, the "b" word.

CNN's coverage wasn't all bad, though. At 4:30 this morning, they were the only network to run the Mass at the Vatican without someone yacking over it. This was a real public service, and they did a beautiful job broadcasting it.

Also, about Anderson Cooper: Does anyone else remember The Mole? I know Coop is Jon Klein's storyteller-in-chief, and I'm sure he's a nice guy, but we do all remember that he's a reality game show host, and not a journalist, right? I find that distracting, but maybe it's just me. (I keep thinking, Why not put Jeff Probst in the chair next to him?)
Mark Steyn beats up on Andrew Sullivan (by name) and Glenn Reynolds (by inference). Don't miss it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I'm sitting listening to a Paula Zahn-led package about the Pope on CNN. It's about how terrible and divisive John Paul II's teachings on women have been. She keeps making the point that this Pope refuses to let women be priests, but she says it like it's some crackpot idea he dreamed up on his own.

Somewhere in the distance, Roger Ailes is smiling.

Weigel on Wojtyla

If you find yourself interested in the life of Pope John Paul II, the place to start is George Weigel's stunning biography, Witness to Hope. It stands, with William Manchester's The Last Lion, as one of the two best biographies of the last century.

If you can't get to a Border's to pick it up, you might want to start with two articles Weigel wrote about the Pope several years back.

In "The Mobile Pope", Weigel explains how John Paul II modernized the papacy. In "The Holy Father in the Holy Land", Wiegel travels with the Pope to Jerusalem and the Middle East. Amazing writing.


Mass today at St. Matthew's Cathedral was said by Cardinal McCarrick. Present, as he often is on important occassions, was Cardinal Baum. I was surprised to learn that Baum is one of three living cardinals who elected John Paul II. God bless him.

Galley Friend R.S. found for me, a fascinating site--think of it as the Vatican's Elias Bureau. While there, I looked up William Wakefield Cardinal Baum, and he really is an amazing fellow in his own right.

It's Your Fault

The Michael Bay Blog is gone.

Now We Know Why

In case you wondered why much of the left hardened against Terri Schiavo.

Praise of Folly

Galley Friend Erasmus has just revealed to me his excellent blog, Praise of Folly. Think of it as a one-man Arts & Letters Daily, but cooler. Enjoy!

Get Your Fresh CulturePulp!

Mike Russell's latest CulturePulp, "Animal Grossology," is out.

The Living Soul

David Hart offers yet another rebuke to the cleverly constructed ignorance of Andrew Sullivan, Gregg Easterbrook, and others:
This is not to say that, for Christian tradition, the soul transcends and survives the earthly life of the body. It is only to say that the soul, rather than being a kind of "guest" within the self, is instead the underlying mystery of a life in its fullness. In it the multiplicity of experience is knit into a single continuous and developing identity. It encompasses all the dimensions of human existence: animal functions and abstract intellect, sensation and reason, emotion and reflection, flesh and spirit, natural aptitude and supernatural longing. As such, it grants us an openness to the world of which no other creature is capable, allowing us to take in reality through feeling and thought, recognition and surprise, will and desire, memory and anticipation, imagination and curiosity, delight and sorrow, invention and art. . . .

Granted, it is easiest to sense this mystery when gazing at the Sistine Chapel's ceiling or listening to Bach. But it should be evident--for Christians at least--even when everything glorious and prodigious in our nature has been stripped away and all that remains is frailty, brokenness and dependency, or when a person we love has been largely lost to us in the labyrinth of a damaged brain. Even among such ravages--for those with the eyes to see it--a terrible dignity still shines out.

I do not understand exactly why those who wanted Terri Schiavo to die had become so resolute in their purposes by the end. If she was as "vegetative" as they believed, what harm would it have done, I wonder, to surrender her to the charity (however fruitless) of her parents? Of this I am certain, though: Christians who understand their faith are obliged to believe that she was, to the last, a living soul. It is true that, in some real sense, it was her soul that those who loved her could no longer reach, but it was also her soul that they touched with their hands and spoke to and grieved over and adored. And this also means that it was a living soul that we as a society chose to abandon to starvation and thirst--which should, at the very least, give us cause to consider what else we may have abandoned along the way.