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Sunday, November 05, 2006

[Will, 11:42 PM]
Moving Day, Redux:

Crescat Sententia can now be found at crescatsententia.net. Details are here.

Monday, September 29, 2003

[Will, 10:55 AM]
Moving Day:

At long last, Crescat Sententia has made its way to movable type. [This sentence deleted.]

Friday, September 26, 2003

[Amanda Butler, 9:45 AM]
Fax in your ballots:

This from the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar's mailing list (no, it's generally not a very interesting list, but they don't email things very often, so it's fine). What I want to know is, how often does this happen (and how easy is it for the dead to vote)?
California To Allow Its Citizens Overseas to Return Absentee Ballots by Fax

Due to the short time frame for the October 7th Statewide Special Election,California Secretary of State's Office has decided to allow faxed ballots from Citizens outside the United States who are covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) who are legal residents of California.

The order is effective for the October 7th Statewide Special Election only. It requires that the voter be informed of and agree to waive his or her right to a secret ballot. All faxed ballots must be received by county elections officials by the close of the polls (8:00 p.m.)on Election Day.

Citizens may receive the blank ballot via fax and return the voted ballot by fax. Citizens of California who desire to receive their absentee ballot by fax should provide their county election official with their complete commercial or DSN (military) fax number, including country codes necessary when dialing from the U.S. This can be done by faxing a Federal Post Card Application as a request using the Federal Voting Assistance Program's Electronic Transmission Service numbers listed below.

Citizens should be aware that by faxing the ballot they are waiving the right to secrecy of their vote for this election and must sign a waiver that will be included in the faxed ballot materials. A citizen returning the voted ballot by fax which was either received by mail or by fax should referto Appendix C of the 2002-2003 Voting Assistance Guide (located at http://www.fvap.gov/vag/pdfvag/appendix_c.pdf) for instructions and a cover sheet (which includes a secrecy waiver) for use when transmitting the voted ballot by fax. Citizens should be sure to fax the entire ballot including
any oath or signature required on the ballot-mailing envelope.

*See below for FVAP toll-free fax numbers. Voters must provide a return transmission fax number (including international prefixes) on all documents sent via fax.

Refer also to the August 21, 2003 FVAP News Release: "STATEWIDE SPECIAL ELECTION IN CALIFORNIA ON OCTOBER 7, 2003" located at http://www.fvap.gov/press/2003/06-2003.html.

[Will, 1:03 AM]
Strange Bedfellows:

In response to what he terms my "Libertarian yawp" Russell Arben Fox counters with a communitarian/authoritarian yawp of his own. Interestingly enough, even though our political views seem to be "near perfect opposites," we share a lot of agreement:
There is perhaps no crazier presumption out there than the "conservative" one which holds that the statement "economic laissez faire is good" and the statement "cultural laissez faire is bad" are compatible.

Of course, Mr. Fox believes that conservatives should be "willing follow through on their cultural beliefs to a demand for stability and equity in the fabric of the economic order," and that economic redistributivists should "understan(d) that achieving fairness in society requires a collective concern for the moral prerequsites for said society." I vigorously dissent from the idea that either of these philosophies are desirable. But here's the point (I think) that Mr. Fox and I both want to make about political realignments--

I suspect each of us would be a lot happier if the other's philosophy was our chief political opponent. If our partisan struggles were a battle of the Libertarians against the Communitarians, I wouldn't be nearly so dispirited about politics as I am now. And I think that the authoritarian/libertarian alignment makes a lot more philosophical sense than our current crazy divisions, where most people mysteriously hold economic activity to some bizarre standard (or lack of standards) much different than social behaviour.

So, oddly enough I feel an odd kinship with the "authoritarian" even though I'd much rather have a liberal or a conservative in power than a communitarian. At least the authoritarian understands what it is we're arguing about.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

[Will, 6:44 PM]
Proof Positive:

And while I'm math-blogging . . . those of you in the Chicago area should try to spot Gwenyth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins as they make a film of David Auburn's wonderful play Proof (which is wonderful even for those who aren't math-lovers). The movie is being filmed in Hyde Park.

Paltrow already played the same role in a production of the play in London last year, which I was very sad to miss. I don't know whether the movie will adapt the play well, but it will probably be worth a look in any case.

[Will, 6:27 PM]
Numeracy:

(Via Ed Cohn) Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler are both really really smart U of C profs, so when they write something together, I know it's worth reading, even if it's a review of a book I've never read. As it happens, they might actually induce me to go out and read the book-- Michael Lewis's Moneyball, which has gotten plenty of blogosphere coverage.

It's a great blow for stat-addicts and numerophiles everywhere.
The problem is not that baseball professionals are stupid; it is that they are human. Like most people, including experts, they tend to rely on simple rules of thumb, on traditions, on habits, on what other experts seem to believe. Even when the stakes are high, rational behavior does not always emerge. It takes time and effort to switch from simple intuitions to careful assessments of evidence. This point helps to explain why baseball owners have been slow to copy Beane's approach. But at least they are starting.... Statistics can do a lot better than intuitions; and relevant statistics can do a lot better than irrelevant ones, which tend to take on lives of their own....

[Will, 6:10 PM]
Another Blow Against Literalism:

(Via How Appealling) One of literalism's brightest foes, Richard Posner, is at it again, in a decision on whether cash is "tangible" or "intangible" for purposes of a bankruptcy exemption:
Oakley makes much of the fact that currency is tangible in the literal sense: it can be touched (also tasted, felt, sniffed, etc.), unlike a bank account. Although the amount of money in a person’s bank account is evidenced by a piece of paper (if only a printout of a computer record— and anyway the electrons in a computer file are tangible in a conventional sense of the word), the money itself cannot be touched, tasted, etc. You cannot peek inside your bank account and see something any more that you can look under the hood of your car and see the torque or the horsepower. A bank account, a bond, a stock interest in a corporation, and other such financial assets do not have a physical or temporal site; they are to currency as an idea or a number is to a rock or an onion. They have, in short, a different ontology.... for what (very little) it is worth, Oakley has literalism on his side....

The distinction that we are emphasizing is between use value and exchange value. A napkin has value; you can wipe your mouth with it. Wallpaper has value; you can decorate your walls with it. People do not wipe their mouths with money or paper their walls with it. They value cash only because they can use it to obtain useful goods like napkins and wallpaper. They value money in the bank for the identical reason. Oakley points out that if you lose your checkbook, your bank account is intact, but if you lose cash, it’s gone. It may not be. If cash is stolen from your house, and you have burglary insurance, the insurance company will restore the money to you—but not in cash, instead by check, which you’ll be happy to accept in lieu of cash. If what was stolen from you was a $100 bill, you could not complain if the insurance company wrote you a check for that amount, rather than giving you a $100 bill; or if it gave you five $20 bills instead of one $100 bill—which shows that the piece of rag paper, the tangible embodiment of cash money, is no more indispensable than the stolen checkbook or credit card. In contrast, if your chair were stolen, the insurance company might replace the chair or give you a check for its value, but the one thing it would not do would be to give you cash equal to the value of the check and tell you, sit on this. And So On....

[Will, 5:51 PM]
A Fetus Wronged:

A New York Appellate Court has ruled that:
A woman born with birth defects can sue IBM and chemical manufacturers for fraud even though she was not even born when the semiconductor manufacturer allegedly lied to her mother about workplace safety, a divided appeals court has found.

The majority of a 3-2 panel of the New York Appellate Division, 2nd Department, said it did not matter that the woman herself could not, as a fetus, have possibly relied on allegedly deceptive statements made by IBM.

I'm told this isn't actually anything very new, that people often sue over medical malpractice involving their own births, but I thought I'd throw it out there for the curious. Maybe the anti-abortion gadflies at Diotima will have further thoughts.

[Will, 4:49 PM]
Slippery Slopes (not the Volokh kind):

The new Lemony Snicket book, The Slippery Slope is available in my Barnes & Noble. Lovers of this series of children's books (like yours truly) can rejoice.

[Will, 4:47 PM]
Kinda Neat (navel-gazing):

We're one of the top ten google hits for "'group blog'." Thanks to whatever reader found us by said search.

[Will, 1:17 AM]
Private Lives:

Oh it's the old dilemma. On the one hand, you don't think an author's sex life has anything to do with the quality of his work, and he's made plain that he doesn't want his sex life to have anything to do with his work either. On the other hand, you're blogging, and the guy's already made the news, and indeed decided to pre-empt the scoop. (Why let them do what you can do yourself?)

In other words, Chuck Palahniuk is gay, and who cares? (Here's Mr. Palahniuk telling everyone to calm down).

Link via bookslut.

[Will, 1:02 AM]
A Plague on Both Their Houses:

Steve at Begging to Differ has a post that's mostly devoted to making fun of liberals, but it has an intro that could be a (contentious) post in itself. Steve writes:
I am frequently confronted with a person who claims to be neither liberal nor conservative. While I understand the reluctance to take on a label that does not fit, I think the American political class divides itself into two large factions loosely representing "left" and "right." Regardless of the labels you prefer, when push comes to shove, most of us take a side. This is as it should be. As Mason said to Dixon, "You gotta draw the line somewhere." You can't just hang there in the middle like a philosophical scrotum.

Well why not? On the one hand, I care a lot about things like law, and the judges I most admire (keeping in mind, of course, that I am to law school as a fetus is to external life) tend to be conservative appointees. On the other hand, I like gay marriage, freedom from morality laws, and so on. On a third hand, taxes are bad. On a fourth hand . . . it's the old libertarian's lament, and Steve's dashed it in a paragraph. But never fear. He also offers those of us in doubt a test. Well all right:
I have a handy test for determining whether you're a "liberal" or a "conservative." It's easy. Just answer these questions: between liberals and conservatives, which group annoys you more? Which group do you find it most satisfying to ridicule?

But this begs the question. If one of the two groups annoyed me more . . . well then I wouldn't be having such trouble, or (as Steve puts it) be hanging in the middle. I'm not annoyed by either group qua group I'm annoyed by factions within them. For example, I'm annoyed by:
People who think that Judeo-Christian morality should be the foundation of Western Civilization.

People who think that communities have the right to control their membership, or the self-regarding activities of their members.

People who think that letting other countries trade freely with American citizens is a privilege granted to those countries.

People who think we should punish bad countries by not letting Americans buy things from them.

People who think that violating some biblical commandments (by, say, being a Hindu) shouldn't be punished by law, but that violating other biblical commandments (like, say, being a homosexual) should be punished, because the bible says so.

People who think that that the law should reflect the Bible.

People who think that the rule of law is a crock.

People who think that A Theory of Justice lays out a coherent proof of distributive justice.

People who support laws banning interstate wine shipments.

People who support marijuana prohibition.

People who think that inequality is inherently indicative of exploitation.

People who support rent control.

People who support price controls.

Gun prohibitions.

Anybody who bans books.

Maureen Dowd. (At least, ever since the end of June)

And so much more...

So what's a Libertarian to do? The simple fact is that a lot of us don't fall neatly on either side of the line. When I'm with liberal friends, I'm conservative (most of the time). With conservative friends, I'm liberal. With moderates, I'm an extremist. On any given issue, of course, I can almost always pick a side (except when I really don't care). Between any pair of people, I can almost always pick the one that most annoys me. But what if I were faced with the entire party platforms of both "the right" and "the left" (whoever Steve thinks they are)?

I'd abstain.

[Incidentally, for somebody who hopes to get involved in politics of one sort or another (the judiciary, one dreams?), this might seem dispiriting. It's not; it's sort of liberating. If I get associated with some party or another it will be because on some issue I've decided to care deeply about, there's a chance to make a difference, ceterus paribus-- whether that's protecting fake child pornography or attacking wine shipment bans.]

Which is to say that while the rest of Steve's post is very good and highly worth reading, I think he's simply wrong about how one has to take a side in the larger war. In the individual battles, yes, push often comes to shove. But on the broader question of which fundamentally flawed program for society to accept, I see no reason to take sides.

UPDATE: Russell Arben Fox posts here, I respond here, and Stentor Danielson weighs in here.

[Will, 12:13 AM]
Austen:

Got a Jane Austen fix? Want to combine it with your blogging fix? You have two choices. You can visit Austentatious (now blogrolled), the blog devoted entirely to Jane Austen, or you can wait for my sister, who will be adding such things (I suspect) to the broad tent of this blog.

[Will, 12:04 AM]
Today's Recall Must-Reading:

Lawrence Solum is at it again, with the latest must-read post for all law nerds interested in the California recall. Read his post on Standards of Review and Transsubtantive Procedure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

[Will, 7:43 PM]
A Brief Huzzah:

Sorry for recent blogging silence. This is the aforementioned catch-as-catch-can blogging. Just wanted to pat ourselves on the back for having been admitted to Oxblog's blogroll. We're "Alexis de Tocqueville," and in very good company.

Apologies, incidentally, for the trouble blogger's been giving our permalinks lately. But we have a scheme that should fix that.

[Amanda Butler, 5:39 PM]
Soon the year begins:

Oi... Chicago's fixing to start up again on Monday. Clumps of 1Ls in orientation have been asking me if I'm the comp tech guy; how many student run journals are on campus; if I'm on any of them; and if I know who designed the law school (no; 4; no; Eero Saarinen). Somehow I've managed to duck the new College students, though. In honor of the summer ending and Will heading off, here's what WFMT broadcast at 8:00am Monday morning. [Text lifted from Sudeep, but I doubt he'll mind.]
'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go sleep thou with them;
'Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o'er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow
When friendships decay,
And from love's shining circle
The gems drop away!
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?


Friedrich von Flotow's opera Martha is a wonderful arrangement of this Irish poem by Thomas Moore, sad and beautiful enough to prompt roommates who unfortunately are in the habit of being up at such hours in the summer (year-round, I fear) to go in search of it. [The library computer won't let me try to make sure this works, but apparently you can listen to it here]

Also -- When he wasn't writing romantic and nationalist poetry, Moore satirized economic concerns -- Corn Laws, the Public Dept, and such. They're not quite to my taste, but check them out, they may amuse you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

[Will, 2:45 PM]
The Recall is Back:

Don't bother reading the 9th Circuit en banc panel's Per Curiam decision reinstating the recall election. Lawrence Solum tells you everything you ever wanted to know. (And Rick Hasen also has valuable thoughts).

[Will, 2:37 PM]
In Memoriam:

Pablo Neruda, 1971 Nobel Prize Winner and brilliant poet, has been dead thirty years to the day. If you speak Spanish, here's a section of La Tercera, a Chilean newspaper, devoted to Neruda with all the relevant links you could want.

I've always had a fondness for Neruda, even though he was a rabid socialist. I never found his political poetry particularly appealling, but his love poetry, personal odes, and the like I find incredibly moving. Normally I have a strong preference for some sort of rhyme, form, or formal meter in my poetry, but for him I make exceptions. So in honor of Pablo Neruda, here are an assortment of Neruda related quotes and observations, and then a few poems.

T.S. Eliot accepting his Nobel Prize (in 1948):
Poetry is usually considered the most local of all the arts. Painting, sculpture, architecture, music, can be enjoyed by all who see or hear. But language, especially the language of poetry, is a different matter. Poetry, it might seem, separates peoples instead of uniting them. But on the other hand we must remember, that while language constitutes a barrier, poetry itself gives us a reason for trying to overcome the barrier. To enjoy poetry belonging to another language, is to enjoy an understanding of the people to whom that language belongs, an understanding we can get in no other way.

Robert Heinlein, in Friday:
French is quite suited to lyric poetry, more so than is English - it takes Edgar Allen Poe to wring beauty consistently out of dissonances in English. German is unsuited to lyricism, so much so that translations fall sweeter on the ear than do German originals. This is no fault of Goethe or Heine; it is a defect of an ugly language. Spanish is so musical that a soap-powder commercial in Spanish is more pleasing to the ear than the best free verse in English - the Spanish language is so beautiful that much of its poetry sounds best if the listener does not understand the meaning.

Richard Stern, in an interview with Euphony:
"As for Latin America and Spain, the poetic and narrative traditions are very different-- remove sangre, suerte, and muerte from the poems and they melt."

Czeslaw Milosz (Nobel 1980), in The Captive Mind:
Pablo Neruda, the great poet of Latin America, comes from Chile. I translated a number of his poems into Polish. Pablo Neruda has been a Communist for some ten years. When he describes the misery of his people, I believe him and I respect his great heart. When writing, he thinks about his brothers and not about himself, and so to him the power of the word was given. But when he paints the joyous, radiant life of people in the Soviet Union, I stop believing him. I am inclined to believe him as long as he speaks about what he knows; I stop believing him when he starts to speak about what I know myself....
Let Pablo Neruda fight for his people. He is wrong, however, when he believes that all the protesting voices of Central and Eastern Europe are the voices of stubborn nationalisms or the yelps of wronged reaction. Eyes that have seen should not be shut. Hands that have touched should not forget when they take up a pen. Let him allow a few writers from Central and Eastern Europe to discuss problems other than those that haunt him.

And here are a few Neruda poems. One a free verse poem that isn't nearly famous enough called "If You Forget Me," the others a few of his late sonnets. The first is translated by Donald Walsh, the rest by me. I won't reproduce the original Spanish here, but you can email me if you're curious.
If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.



LXXXIX

When I die I want your hands on my eyes:
I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me once more:
to feel the smoothness that changed my destiny.

I want you to live while I, asleep, await you,
I want you to go on hearing the wind,
to smell the aroma of the sea we loved together
to go on walking the land that we walked.

I want what I love to go on living
and I loved you and sang of you above all,
so go on flowering, flower,

so that you reach all my love shows you
so that my shadow passes through your hair,
so that they know the reason for my song.


XC

I thought I was dying, I felt cold closing in
and for all that I lived, I left only you:
your mouth was my earthly day and night
and your skin the republic my kisses founded.

In that instant, books ended
friendship, treasures unflaggingly amassed,
the transparent house you and I built:
everything ceased to exist but your eyes.

Because love, while life accosts us,
is simply a wave taller than the others,
but oh, when death comes knocking

there is only your glance to fill such emptiness
only your clarity to resist extinction
only your love to shut out the shadows.


XCVII

One must fly nowadays, but where?
Wingless, planeless, fly doubtless:
Unfaltering steps have already fallen,
not lifting the feet of the traveler.

One must fly at every instant
like eagles, like flies, like days,
one must conquer the ring of Saturn
and establish new bells there.

Now shoes and paths are not enough,
now the ground does not suffice for wanderers,
now roots cross the night,

and you will appear in another star
relentlessly ephemeral
finally transformed into poppies.


[Will, 12:03 AM]
Confirmed Bachelor:

Much to my shock, I've just learned that the term "Confirmed Bachelor," is supposed to refer to gentlemen who are homosexual (though they may well be non-practicing). I say this is a shock because I've always loved the phrase, and use it all the time, but never having been aware of the connotations the term bore.

Monday, September 22, 2003

[Amanda Butler, 7:22 PM]
Minors! of the type not discussed below:

The University of Chicago has begun to offer minors, but currently only in Germanic Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Romance Languages and Literatures, and Slavic Languages and Literature (see p. 8 of the pdf avaliable under I. Liberal Education at Chicago: The Curriculum).
Some concentrations offer minors to students in other fields of study. (Requirements will be avaliable online in September under descriptions of the concentrations noted above.) A minor requires five to seven courses. Courses in a minor cannot be (1) double-counted with concentration courses or with other minors or (2) counted toward general education requirements. They must be taken for quality grades and at least half must be taken in residence on the University of Chicago campus.

This is a shock. We've never had minors. Triple-majors in econ, poli sci, and law,letters,&society, yes (well, perhaps not plural, but I've met one), and we're fairly snobby about saying that the degree is granted in one with requirements fufilled in the others.

[Will, 7:09 PM]
The Recall:

Well I'm currently watching the streaming video of the 9th Circuit Recall Oral Arguments. You can join me and watch them here. You can also read Lawrence Solum's thoughts on the claim-preclusion here. You can also read Dahlia Lithwick's Slate essay here.

[Will, 7:00 PM]
A Few Corrections:

Template hounds will note that we have a new blogger, my sister Leora Baude who will be posting soon, and also that Lileks has been added to my (and Amy's) blogroll. His post today is after my own heart:
I’ve never understood why nations with great cheese don’t have better armies. Right now to my left I have a plate that contains six chunks of Stravecchoio Grana Padano, each wrapped in a gossamer-thin scarf of prosciutto. Any Italian worth his mettle would take one bite, contemplate the perfection this combination represents, and decide that his nation should - no, must muster the forces required to repulse anyone who would take such cheese from his countrymen. Cheese this fine would cause armies to cross the Alps to have it; surely they demand armies sufficient to protect it.

[Will, 12:00 AM]
Fetus Blogging:

An interesting post by Steve Dunn over at Begging to Differ about super-precocious kids, including a discussion of the youngest blogger. He notes several people who have been blogging since birth. He misses, though Maximus Stefanescu, who Kate Duree (who I met this summer in the Koch program) calls "The First Fetus with a Blog!!!". I haven't found any other blogging fetuses yet, and I can't verify Kate's statement for sure, but he looks like a strong contender to me.

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