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Uncertain Principles

Physics, Politics, Pop Culture

Friday, March 28, 2003

Occupational Blogging

In comments to a Mike Kozlowski post, Kate notes the blog of one of her former law professors, a man who actually sounds like a law professor:

David's argument rests on a confusion about my views and about the nature of the criticism I was making against Justice Scalia. I myself am not an originalist, nor do I regard original intention or original understanding as the touchstone to all legitimate constitutional interpretation. I think that there are many modalities of constitutional interpretation, of equal validity, including text, history, original understandings, original intentions, consequences, structure, and narrative ethos. Moreover, I am a constitutional historicist. My view is that what the Constitution means changes over time, in response to constitutional politics and social movement contestation. Thus, you can see my views are quite different from Justice Scalia's.

Um, yes. Quite.

It's very interesting, if somewhat arcane. I've been meaning to comemnt on it for quite some time, but have only gotten to it now because the alternative appears to be cleaning my office...

(If you're looking for more law-bloggers, of course, there's also the "The Law In Its Majesty" section of the Electrolite links bar, but none of them have quite the same "Paper Chase" sort of vibe...)

Posted at 11:57 AM | link | follow-ups | 9 comments

Thursday, March 27, 2003

"Pause Here to Consider That Bestiality Is Not Considered 'Deviate' Under Texas Law"

Kevin Drum points to this typically brilliant Supreme Court Dispatch from Dahlia Lithwick, on the court case regarding Texas's anti-sodomy law:

Smith explains that fundamental rights are understood to apply to decisions about "sexual relations in the home" and decisions about "procreation and non-procreation." Rehnquist interjects that the laws at issue have little to do with "non-procreation." Smith says these laws say "you can't have sexual activity at all" if you are gay and Scalia objects: "They just say you can't have sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex." See? No problem. Homosexuals remain perfectly at liberty to have heterosexual sex in Texas.

This, of course, reminded me of this Grim Amusements piece about the same case. In the course of tracking that down, I found this one about the Tulia drug busts:

Lieutenant Amos, who is also a police officer in Amarillo, testified that Mr. Coleman used a charged racial epithet in front of him. He said he chastised Mr. Coleman. "I told him that there's a time and a place for that sort of language," he said. "The office is not such a place." Asked to name an appropriate time or place, he said that some undercover work could be compromised "by trying to be politically correct."

And also this, and for that matter, this.

It's probably too late to give the whole place back to Mexico, isn't it?

Posted at 9:31 AM | link | follow-ups | 12 comments

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The First Step Is Admitting You've Got a Problem

It's happening again.

Back in 1991, when we first started blowing things up in Iraq, I turned into an absolute CNN junkie. It helped that I was a sophomore in college, and not likely to be doing anything much more useful (particularly in February in New England), but other than the occasional run to class, I watched CNN more or less continuously for the entire duration of the war. There was a pool table in the tv room, and we spent hours playing one game after another, with the latest developments in the Gulf providing the background noise. By the end of the war, those of us who hung out in the tv room knew the daily briefing schedule as well as any of the reporters in the area (the daily British briefings were particularly prized, as the British military spokespeople had a certain level of wit not shared by their humorless American counterparts...).

(I'm still a terrible pool player, by the way, which serves as evidence of how my attention was divided during those months...)

A weird confluence of events has put me in a vaguely similar position this time around, and again, I find myself becoming addicted to the breaking news cycle. I no longer have a pool table in the room with the tv, but we're on break at the moment, so I find myself with unstructured time on my hands, and again, I'm being sucked in. Of course, in these modern times, CNN is no longer the only option for continuing coverage-- I've got two CNN channels, Fox "News" Channel, and a handful of alphabet-soup news networks broadcasting different versions of the same stories. Out of nostalgia, I tend to stick with CNN, but I'm an inveterate channel surfer even in calmer times, so I do some flipping around.

And then there's the web. There's nothing quite like it for an information junkie. The Agonist is to CNN what crack cocaine is to those little caffeine pills they sell in truck stops.

Kate can't understand this at all (I drove her nuts when we were on Long Island, stuck in a hotel room with no escape from my news junkiedom); neither can Kevin Drum. Truth be told, I can't quite explain why I find this stuff so fascinating, either-- I suspect it's not entirely rational.

I know that 80% of what gets reported will turn out to be badly distorted, if not completely false. But that only make things more interesting-- it's weirdly compelling to watch the story evolve as new facts come in, and old information is buried or repudiated. I don't think it would be anywhere near as interesting to watch if they got the story right the first time-- I didn't go into this mode after the Columbia disaster, partly because I was distracted by moving, but mostly because there wasn't a whole lot of evolution in the story. The Shuttle broke up, everyone was killed, and the investigation as to what caused the disaster would take weeks. The basic facts were there, and indisputable-- there was no chance that it would turn out that the initial report was wrong, no chance that the pieces of the destroyed spacecraft would spontaneously re-assemble themselves and appear in Florida-- unlike the "now we have them, now we don't" cities of Umm Qasr and An Nasiriyah.

There's also a "gee whiz" element to the whole thing. The fact that we can get live reports and pictures-- even crappy low-resolution videophone pictures-- from the middle of a war zone is still sort of amazing to me. Truly, we live in interesting times.

And, of course, there's the wild-eyed speculation aspect. I love this stuff: Will the Turks join in? What's up with Iran? What are the Iraqis up to now? Will North Korea try to take advantage of the situation? Does Aaron Brown have a role beyond heaping effusive praise on every field reporter CNN employs?

("Aaron, we've been bogged down here in the ass end of nowhere for twenty-nine hours now. We haven't seen a single living thing in hours, I've got sand in my shorts, and I just stepped in camel poo. I hate my life." "Thank you, Bob, that's some fascinating reporting. Really, really, terrific work you're doing out there. Thank you so very much.")

Anyway, this is a very Den Bestian way of saying, essentially, that regular blogging will be slow because I have trouble tearing myself away from the tv and web browser. I'd comment about the actual course of the war, but CNN is promising new footage of a goat tied to a rock in the middle of a sandstorm, and I've just got to see this...

Update: Changed the Agonist link to point to one of the mirrors-- he's having major bandwidth issues. And, as a bonus, the mirror site automatically updates every three minutes...

Posted at 9:39 AM | link | follow-ups | 18 comments

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