Thursday, July 21, 2005

Carry on

Just a wee tribute to the resolve of the British people. It really makes me realize how much Americans are wusses. We're spoiled and have an unreasonable sense of entitlement. Sprit of the Blitz, my friend, gets you through every time and keeps you getting out to the pub in the face of any and all adversity. We're Still Not Afraid

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Here's what Kathleen's friend Rana's friend Phil has to say about Bush's nomination for the supreme court. I don't think I could say it like this at all, but I sure wish I could. I mean, who uses 'augurs' and 'wignut' without the least hint of irony? Not too shabby.

Based on my experience, I find him a very conservative, results-oriented judge who happens to be able enough to disguise his basically results-driven approach. By that I mean that he has strong biases and he will work very hard to manufacture a result that accords with those biases, albeit within the bounds of basic reason. That is, he is no Priscilla Owen, who will perform the vilest and most perverted unnatural acts on precedents and legislative enactments in order to get where she wants. Roberts tends not to go too far out on a limb to get to his preferred result.

What this augurs for Roberts as a Supreme is that I think he will be a pretty reliable vote for the Scalia-Thomas-Rehnquist* bloc. Given his solid Repugnican creds -- White House counsel's office under Reagan, "political" deputy Solicitor General in the Bush I Justice Department, etc. - the likelihood of him turning Souter- or even Kennedy-ish is pretty damn slim. But I wouldn't be surprised if he occasionally departed from the wolf pack here and there. I figure him as more interested in the "federalism revolution" -- that is, the devolution toward the Articles of Confederation -- than the hot-button wingnut social issues, but that doesn't necessarily mean he wouldn't vote with the Gang of Three on, say, Roe. But he could surprise.

Meanwhile, here's hoping that the increasingly nutty vitriol that Scalia is spilling in his recent opinions (or, rather, the Wall Street Journal Op-Eds he publishes in the Supreme Court Reports) continue to alienate Kennedy so much that that he inches further leftward.

*Rehnquist is clearly opting for death-at-desk, so I think we can probably count on him being in on at least the first cases in October.

Aside from that, all the hype about his intellectual firepower is pretty well warranted. As a judge, I've found him to be smart, tough, and extremely well prepared. He gets right at the heart of the issues with incisive questions. That is to say, he is more Scalia than Thomas. This, of course, makes him more dangerous than a whacknut like J.R. Brown or Priscilla Prissy-Pants Owen.

While Brown and Owen would -- like Roberts -- be reliable conservative votes on various issues, those two are so crazy and thick that they would probably have little influence beyond their votes: A Brown or an Owens would write whacknut concurring opinions saying all sorts of crazy shit that would be very unlikely to garner other votes or be cogent enough to have influence in other ways (like, say, being picked up with any seriousness in the legal academy).

Politically, this was a shrewd move, not just as the opening fusillade in Operation Knock Rove Off the Headlines. I think that Democrats in the Senate would be well advised not to attempt to launch a major war against the nomination but rather should save their ammunition for other fights (like, say, recapturing the Senate in '06 while hoping that Rehnquist has the best doctors in the world). There is no way that Roberts is not going to be confirmed. To be sure, sometimes you should fight even if you think that confirmation is a sure bet, but he does not have the kind of crazy-ass record that would allow the Dems to score any political points that way. Quite the contrary. My advice to Dem Senators: Question him hard, show as much as you can where he stands, show where he's unwilling to commit, vote against him, and move on. The Rethugnicans who actually have to run for re-election are likely to pay a price for Bush's failure to replace O'Connor with a woman. If they smoke Roberts out on any major issues (which is unlikely in any event), his appointment may cost them moderate votes as well.

In the (let's hope) enduring words of Karl Rove, I've already said too much.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Whenever an undergrad comes into my office and shiftily moves their eyes back and forth, I figure they're either nervous or just lying to me. Now I know they're just trying to speed up time.

Mind Hacks reports on a new report in Nature Neuroscience:

Concetta Morrone, John Ross and David Burr have just reported in Nature Neuroscience that subjective time is compressed around the onset of a saccadic eye movement. Saccades are the rapid, jerky eye movements that we perform thousands of times every day (see Hack #17) to align targets of interest with the high-acuity fovea at the centre of our eyes.

Morrone’s team asked participants to compare the time interval between two horizontal bars that were flashed up around the onset of a saccade, with the interval between a second pair of horizontal bars flashed up after the saccade. Participants said the intervals felt the same when the gap between the first two bars was 100ms and the gap between the second pair was 50ms – that is, subjective time was speeded up by a factor of two near the saccade onset.

Read more here .

Monday, July 11, 2005

two fingered bill

With London looking like downtown Baghdad, and downtown Baghdad looking like downtown Rocheser, it's good to know that fine web films like the Most Extradorinary Space Investigations are being produced.

While not "good" or "funny" in the traditional sense, Sarah Silverman is in the second episode starring as Jelly Roll Dubois.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

plame leak

Karl Rove is so screwed. Check it:

At issue is the story of a CIA-sponsored trip taken by former ambassador (and White House critic) Joseph Wilson to investigate reports that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from the African country of Niger. "Some government officials have noted to Time in interviews... that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," said Cooper's July 2003 Time online article.

Now the story may be about to take another turn. The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House. Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. It is unclear, however, what passed between Cooper and Rove.

This make me giggle. Basically, this is treason in time of war. Read more here.