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June 2004 Archives

June 30, 2004

Hot Dust

One of the little things that has been bugging my about my computer has been that the thing overheats and hangs when playing some games or when doing some multi-media tasks.

This frustration came to a boil earlier today - I finally got fed up with Windows Media Player and started converting my music library to iTunes, only to have the computer shut down every five minutes. So, I dug into drivers, and I moved the hot computer next to the air conditioning vent, and I opened the case and checked that the fans were working, and I otherwise messed about.

While using a flashlight to check the motherboard's onboard flash ram to make sure I was about to flash the correct bios, I noticed that the top of the CPU heat sink looked wrong. Sure enough, I pulled the fan off and discovered that there was a thick layer of tightly packed fine dust blocking the top of the ventilating fins. One clean heat sink, one re-attached fan, and instead of a cpu that runs at 67c until I start playing with music, at which point it shoots up to 71 and shuts down, I now have a cpu that runs at 40 c, until I start playing with music in which case it hops up to 42 and remains stable.

Dust, just dust.

As always with me and computers, it took me an hour to diagnose the problem correctly, five minutes to fix it -- made worse because I slept poorly last night and was all kinds of cranky today.

And so to cook dinner (at least I revised a few pages a few hours ago.)

Posted by
Red Ted
at 06:43 PM | TrackBack
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June 28, 2004

Not lemon enough

I made lemon-poppy muffins yesterday. This was my first attempt to modify my basic muffin recipe to this new variety.

They are not lemon enough, and my poppy seeds are very stale. Next time I think I will add a little lemon oil.

Recipe below the fold

Dries:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup plus one tablespoon cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 rounded tablespoons dried buttermilk powder

Wets:
1 egg
1/4 cup plain nonfat yoghurt
1 tbsp oil (approximate)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup skim milk

Other:
1/4 cup poppy seeds

Method:
preheat oven to 425f
combine dries in a large mixing bowl, whisk until light and fluffy
beat egg, oil and yoghurt
beat in lemon zest and lemon juice
beat in milk

Add wets to dries
fold briefly
add poppy seeds
continue folding until evenly mixed. Use as few strokes as possible, a mixture of sweeping folds and short, deft jabs at the dries at the bottom of the bowl.

Put batter into cups, expect to mostly fill the cups

Bake 15 to 22 minutes until golden brown on top (my oven and tray take 17 minutes exactly). The muffins will not rise very much.

Remove from oven
Run the back of a knife between the muffin and the side of the cup
Remove to a cooling rack

eat.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 02:34 AM | TrackBack
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A chapter here, a chapter there

A chapter here, a chapter there, pretty soon you are talking about a lot of pages.

I ran the revised 5 chapter version past my advisor last week. He got back to me over the weekend, and after further review I am moving back to a four chapter organization.

I am not getting rid of the new chapter, instead I am folding a lot of the material from the previous chapter into it. If it had been 1,2,3,4 and then 1, 2a, 2b, 4, 5 where 2a looks liked the bulk of the previous 2 and 2b is the coda expanded, now I am looking at 1, 2b, 3, 4 where the concept for the second chapter is the concept for 2b, but much of the material will be drawn from 2a and revised to fit the organization and assumptions of 2b.

Was that completely obscure?

No wonder it takes me a long time to get anything done - I spend weeks writing, then tear it down and do it again, and again, and again ...

Posted by
Red Ted
at 02:19 AM | TrackBack
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June 25, 2004

Better, but not good enough.

Well, my cholesterol ratios are better, but not good enough.

As usual, I don't have enough of the good stuff.

I do need to keep exercising, and in fact I need to increase my exercise levels - looks like I do get to join a gym.

But, at least it is not as bad as it was 3 months ago, especially considering that I pigged out over the weekend and then had my blood drawn on Thursday.

That reminds me - I am supposed to go running today (knees permitting).

Posted by
Red Ted
at 10:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
June Calendar

Every generation has its heros on the pop charts

I have been reading a lot of state constitutions this week while working on my discussions of sovereignty and civil religion. I do like reading the old state constitutions, and I do like that they remind us that the founders were trying to figure out how to make things work; just as the United States Constitution is not Athena - it did not spring forth, fully grown, the brow of Madison - so too were state constitutions constantly made and remade over the years.

What is bugging me is that as a statement of philosophy I do believe that we can not privilege 1776 or 1787 or 1789 to the point where we can stop our reading there. In fact, by looking at what the second generation did about religion I am making my only dig at the straw-man of the ultra-originalist who does not want to believe anything that Gouvernor Morris was not thinking of as he arranged the various clauses. What people did in the 1800s mattered, so does what they did in the 1840s and 1850s.

What is bugging me is that while I want to argue that the states followed the lead of the Federal Government in depoliticizing religion and using basic law to make sure that electoral battles could not become proxies for religious war, in the half-century after the Civil War most states (every state I have checked so far, but I am still early on in it) added God talk to the preambles of their Constitutions. The talk is fairly consistent from state to state: several states re-wrote their Constitutions "thanking Almighty God for the blessings of liberty which He has bestowed upon us" or, in the case of Virginia in 1901, "with gratitude to God for His past favors, and invoking His blessings upon, the result of our deliberations."

What does it mean for modern church-state jurisprudence that the second generation of Americans moved to depoliticize religion, while the post-Civil War generation (North and South) moved to add language thanking God for liberty?

My current thought is a vague memory that the same folks who tried to get a Christian Nation amendment through the U.S. Senate also worked on the state level and lobbied every state Constitutional Convention. My followup thoughts are that this language must have seemed sufficiently apolitical as not to be a threat - all the states also forbid religious tests or preferences for one sect over another. My final thought at the moment is a little snarky: after the Civil War I can see people, North and South, interpreting the War as a Providential test and judgment and thanking God for their liberties as a result of this Providential test. It means assuming that you know God's Providence - something Lincoln refused to do but that ministers North and South did throughout and then after the war - but the late 19th Century had that much self confidence.

My final thought is that the God that made it into the state Constitutions in the late 19th century is an awfully abstract Deity. This is more than the ceremonial theism that some commentators see in the various invocations of the Divine that we find scattered through American government on its various levels, but it is also a LOT less specific than, say, Roy's Rock with its sectarian presentation of civil religion.

As I said, I am thinking on this. This post is a think piece to help me figure out what to do and how to handle this question.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 07:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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June 22, 2004

Dear Advisor

Dear Advisor

Attached are four chapters, some polished and some still with splinters, totalling about 180 pages.

I am off to work on the fifth of my five chapters. Have a nice weekend.

oh, and YAY ME.

p.s., if I can get this last chapter clean by Friday noon I get to go to the shore for the weekend, otherwise I get to spend the weekend finishing it and starting my introduction and conclusion.

Posted by
Red Ted
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June 21, 2004

You go girl

I see that Martina Navratilova won her opening round match at Wimbledon. She is a mighty young 47 years old.

Everything I have seen about Navratilova's career and personal style has been both gracious and focused - she ought to be a role model for many more people than she is - and as a result she is one of the few athletes I look up to.

So, You GO girl.

And yes, it does feel odd saying that about someone older than I am.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 09:39 AM | TrackBack
June Calendar

Blivet 2b

Well, right now chapter 2b, the new chapter 3, is a blivet. (1)

I need to go back through and check for consistency in my argument -- did I say one thing on page 12 and the opposite on page 24? I also have to make sure that I sourced things properly, and expand the footnotes, and see if I can thicken the evidence, and all those other wonderful things that separate a draft from something you can show around.

Still, it is 40 pages all in a row - even if it is still a blivet. (It also stole a few pages from the overly long chapter right after it and the overly busy chapter right before it. Which should help both of them.)

Blivet - 10 pounds of shit in a 40 page draft 5 pound bag.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 06:31 AM | TrackBack
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June 20, 2004

Doctorow on Digital Copyright

Via Henry at Crooked Timber, we have a link to Cory Doctorow on copyright and encryption in the digital age.

Read it, and weep for the lost opportunites because of Hollywood and publishing types who use copyright law to seek rents.

I don't normally put up simple links; this is one of those times.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 12:57 PM | TrackBack
June Calendar

Ink-Wire on Dubya

While I am in linkfest mode, here is something that Brad DeLong pointed out from the Philadelphia Inquirer -- a strongly written editorial criticizing Bush's overly hasty invasion of Iraq.

I skipped the editorial page today, and did not see it in the hardcopy of the paper.

The gist of it is that the Bush administration systmatically misled the nation, systematically bungled the war and the occupation, and managed to carry out a valid US policy goal - getting rid of Saddam Hussein -- in a manner that hurts the United States, Iraq, and the War on Terror.

Full text below the fold.

Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Sun, Jun. 20, 2004

Editorial | Bush and Iraq

Invasion rationales wither as facts unfold

A poll of Americans taken in March of this year found that 57 percent of those polled believed that Iraq under Saddam Hussein substantially supported al-Qaeda or was directly involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Where did they get that misguided idea? Why, it was from their president, their vice president, their defense secretary, their national security adviser and other key players in the war on terror, of course.

Through assertion, implication and innuendo, the Bush administration - backed by an amen chorus of talk-show babblers and oped writers who filled in the blanks that White House rhetoric artfully left - has labored to plant the notion that invading Iraq was a logical, urgent response to Sept. 11.

What other impressions did the Bush team work to insinuate into public opinion, before and after its preemptive strike at Hussein?

That Iraq had a robust weapons program and was ready and willing to hand off biological or chemical weapons to a terrorist group; and that it would soon have a nuclear bomb.

That the bulk of the Iraqi people would greet Americans as liberators, with cheers and flowers.

That the Bush Doctrine of unilateral and preemptive military action against suspected enemies would make the United States safer and more respected.

That the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were a surprising, inexplicable outburst of evil by a small set of reservists from rural Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

Let's review how those claims are faring in the court of reality:

Iraq and al-Qaeda:The Sept. 11 Commission, evenly split by party and led by a Republican, issued this conclusion last week: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States... . There is no convincing evidence that any government financially supported al-Qaeda before 11 September."

Weapons of mass destruction: As you may recall, the top American WMD hunter, David Kay, told Congress in January: "We were almost all wrong" about Hussein's WMD capability at the time of the March 2003 invasion. (That "we" includes this Editorial Board.)

The post-invasion hunt for WMD has produced two finds: one old artillery shell with the nerve agent sarin, another with mustard gas. The President has conceded that the main evidence he cited for Hussein's nuclear program was a forgery.

They love us, they really love us: The appallingly bloody insurgency in Iraq is now more than a year old. At least 70 people died in a wave of car bombings in Iraq last week. The Associated Press reported last week that a poll taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority found that 92 percent of Iraqis polled considered Americans "occupiers." A whopping 2 percent thought of us as "liberators."

The Bush Doctrine: A new group of 27 former military leaders and diplomats, including many Republicans appointed or promoted by President Bush's father, issued a blistering critique of the Bush foreign policy last week.

Calling his policies "overbearing," "insensitive" and "disdainful," the group said, as a result: "Our security has been weakened... . Never in the two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted."

Abu Ghraib: The administration's attempt to defuse the Abu Ghraib furor by blaming it all on a few low-level miscreants has triggered a flood of contrary evidence. It's clear now that the military and administration had been warned early and often, by multiple sources, about abuses. It's clear that dubious practices at prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan had been debated at high levels in the Pentagon and White House, and that military attorneys of high integrity had opposed efforts to treat the Geneva Conventions as a dead letter in the war on terror.

Ed Koch, when he was the voluble mayor of New York City, used to love to ask, "How'm I doin'?"

Given this sorry roster of fibs, flubs and fantasies, the Bush White House ought to be afraid to ask the American public the same question.

Instead, it has entered full-tilt spin mode. To counter the Sept. 11 panel's flat rejection of its implicit rationale for the Iraq invasion, the President, vice president and their surrogates have split semantic hairs like finicky medieval theologians.

It is true, as the President stressed last week, that he never flat-out said Saddam Hussein helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks.

It is also beside the point.

He said many other things, misleading things, to plant the idea that invading Iraq was a logical extension of - rather than a fatal distraction from - the effort to dismantle al-Qaeda.

In a nationally televised address in October 2002, just days before Congress passed a resolution authorizing force against Iraq, he said: "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biologial or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. An alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

In the letter the President sent Congress explaining his decision to invade, he wrote: "The use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

What impression was he trying to leave there? We report, you decide.

Much of the evidence that administration officials cited to back up the claims in that speech and that letter have since been debunked or called into serious question. The Sept. 11 panel said flatly that the plot leader, Mohamed Atta, did not meet in Prague with an Iraqi agent, a favorite canard of Vice President Cheney. The CIA never confirmed Bush's repeated claim that Iraqis trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making.

Yes, there were contacts between Osama bin Laden and ranking Iraqis a dozen or so years ago.

And the United States helped arm bin Laden to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s; the Sept. 11 hijackers were trained at American flight schools. Does that mean the U.S. government was in league with al-Qaeda? That, of course, is preposterous.

There may well have been, as the Weekly Standard magazine has reported, a "non-aggression pact" between Osama and Saddam. Those who harp on that never answer an obvious question: Why would close collaborators need to be prodded by a third party (Sudan) to agree to a "non-aggression" pact?

The evidence cited of Iraqi-Osama collaboration was always, at its strongest, tissue thin. Now, pieces of it appear to have been, like many of the wilder WMD claims, churned up by the Iraqi National Congress exile group to give the Bush White House the terrifying tales it needed to sell regime change (the INC's goal) to the American public.

Did the President and his top advisers lie to the American people? Or were they themselves deceived, by the INC, faulty intelligence and their own tendency to hear what they wanted to hear?

For now, those questions are unanswerable and essentially besides the point.

What matters is that Americans grasp a central point: The multipronged rationale behind this rushed invasion has been revealed as a house of cards.

(Deposing Hussein always was a legitimate strategic goal, given his history as an aggressor and butcher - but not in this reckless way, with these wrongful justifications.)

Consider the house of cards, and two other glaring facts.

First, preparation for the invasion's aftermath was tragically inept. That easily predictable failure has cost many Iraqis, Americans and others their lives.

Second, the prison abuses, which stem from poor planning for occupation and a bid to place U.S. behavior above international law, have lost America the moral high ground it rightfully occupied on Sept. 12, 2001.

Now, ask yourself, along with those 27 American diplomats and warriors: Have the last two years made America more secure, more respected?

The answer is obvious and appalling. The answer is no.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 01:05 AM | TrackBack
June Calendar

June 18, 2004

Veep?

Hmm, after reading about John Kerry seeking a Veep I realized that I had strong gut feelings about most of the big names currently being floated around.

I will list a few of them here. Read them, come up with your own gut reactions, then click the extended entry to see mine.

John McCain
John Edwards
Richard Gephardt
Joe Biden
Hillary Clinton
Wesley Clarke
Robert Graham
Howard Dean

There are a couple of other front runners that I just don't have an opinion of, Bayh for example.

McCain - should be president now, except for South Carolina. Won't do it. I wonder, if Kerry called him, who he would recommend?

John Edwards - not the psychic, the doctor and populist. Southern, charismatic, knows the politics of class, my preferred choice.

Richard Gephardt - Gephardt reminds me of James Buchanan. And that is NOT a good thing.

Joe Biden - makes me feel slimy. No one is as smart as they think they are, but Biden is not nearly as smart as he pretends to be. I would not buy a used car from this man.

Hillary Clinton - clever idea, big negatives, she won't go for it. Kerry should probably not ask. Again, despite the Clintons having their own agenda, I wonder who she would recommend, and why.

Wesley Clarke - more big negatives here, this time among party operatives. I like him for cabinet, not for veep.

Robert Graham - my second choice. Old, but a polished campaigner and a Florida boy which could mean a LOT. A strong hawk on terrorism, and a strong critic of Iraq as a distraction from Al Qaeda.

Howard Dean - Other than being another northeast liberal, my guess for veep. I can't explain why I don't like him, but he reminds me of Carter in 1975 - a governor with an odd set of credentials, mixed ideological messages, and a so-so track record, who can deploy rhetoric that matches the signs of the times.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 11:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
June Calendar

Stupid Prosecutor Tricks

Robert Tanenbaum, the former NYC prosecutor turned thriller novelist, has a recurring theme in his books, "stupid cop tricks." By this he refers to the process of making up evidence, sweating confessions, phoning in their own tips, and otherwise cutting corners in an investigation where they either have a hunch that one guy did it or where they would rather get evidence than create a strong case.

It is a bad habit, for several reasons. While a hunch can be right, and while often a policeman will know that someone did one set of crimes but not be able to prove it, and will then frame that person for a different set of crimes to get him off the street, it also carries a high risk of prosecuting the innocent and leaving the guilty free to keep acting. (See, for example, the Atlanta Olympics bombing for hunches, or the Central Park Jogger for pressured confessions.) These are bad things.

The checks and balances of the criminal justice system should, if used properly, reduce the use of screwy evidence and poorly aimed prosecutions. Of course, these checks and balances get in the way and sometimes let the guilty go free, and so especially if you have a strong hunch, a Hollywood-style hunch, that one particular person did something you tend to collect evidence that will convict your target and ignore evidence that will explain what really happened. Anytime those institutional checks and balances are reduced or hidden the system ends up relying on the professionalism and ethics of the prosecutors and investigators.

Knowing that, it is deeply disturbing to see the stupid cop tricks that investigators have been using in recent national security investigations. Hat tip to Sgt Stryker.

I worry that the Bush administration is trying to prosecute the war on terror the way that Texas ran its war on drugs in Tulia.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 10:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
June Calendar

Difficult Pleasures

In How to Read and Why Harold Bloom praises the "difficult pleasures" of great literature.

I thought about that this morning while I was taking the boys and the hound around the park. After walking for about a mile, I dumped the contents of my pockets into the stroller and jogged/ran the second mile. As I usually do when I run these days, I shifted gait and footstrike trying to find something that did not hurt my knees, concentrating on: short-strides, rearfoot strike; quick strides, forefoot strike; easy sprint strides, forefoot strike. The last was the easiest on my knees, the hardest on my wind. I am indeed out of shape.

Still, it was enough to remind me of one of my favorite difficult pleasures: quarter mile intervals on the track. I miss them. I have been unable to maintain a level of fitness where I can run quick hard quarter mile intervals; I keep overtraining or damaging my knees. As I continue to get older, I will have more and more trouble finding that level of fitness. And that hurts. Emotionally.

I like to think about having "transparent fitness" - being fit enough that I can engage in pleasurable activities without having to stop to think about whether my body can handle it. I have some of that - I don't think twice before mowing the lawn, playing in the garden, lifting the boys, or even moving boxes and furniture. But I am not transparent enough, because I can't go out and overdose on endorphins on the track.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 07:35 AM | TrackBack
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June 17, 2004

Comments not working?

So, sometime since June 11 the comment feature on the weblog stopped working.

I am digging into it in my copious free time.

As near as I can tell, the IP banning script is blocking everyone. But that is just a guess.

EDIT - Guess was correct - I had a blank line in the ip banning section. Of course, while debugging it I upgraded to MT 3.0 and now the management menus are borked. Ah well.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 04:11 AM | TrackBack
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June 16, 2004

Torture Memos

I might as well write this, it is bugging me and getting in the way of the real work.

I have been thinking about natural law and the law of nations the last few days, and trying to square the "king" theory of laws that some of the recent Justice Department and Pentagon memos included with antebellum notions of natural law and the law of nations.

What do I mean?

Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln all appealed to the law of nations as derived from natural law in order to perform duties not regulated by the Constitution which they found necessary to the survival of the nation.

Jefferson wanted to buy Louisiana. There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the President the power to buy new territory for the nation. Rather than calling for an amendment to give himself the power, Jefferson argued that the constitution, like all frames of government, is drawn from natural law. The law of nature that governs the actions of sovereign states is the law of nations, basically Locke's state of nature with nation states instead of individuals as the crucial actors. (The common law is the law of nature as applied to events within a nation's borders, and in the Madisonian scheme the common law belongs to the several states. I digress.) The first rule of the law of nations as expressed in Vattel and the other 18th-century theorists was that a nation's first duty is self preservation. By extension, the executive of a nation has the power to take actions that will preserve the nation, thus while there was no constitutional right to buy Louisiana, that power was implicit in the law of nations as derived from the law of nature, and he could do it. So he did.

Similarly, during the nullification crisis Jackson reasoned that the principle of nullification, if permitted to operate, would necessarily lead to the dissolution of the United States. Holding, with Joseph Story that the nation preceded the Constitution, Jackson applied the law of nations to nullification to conclude that the compact theory of the nation was a suicide pact. Accordingly, he faced down South Carolina and held the nation together for an extra three decades.

Lincoln is the most famous of these examples. Not only did he appeal to Jackson's logic in the nullification proclamation as he tried to hold the nation together, he went farther and suspended habeus corpus and established military law in several states in order to keep these states in the union. He extended the power of the presidency because, in his opinion, not to do so was to see the nation dissolve.

Let us compare Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln to the claims made by the lawyers for the Bush administration. Jefferson said that the President can buy territory and enlarge the nation. Jackson said that states can not nullify federal law; the nation will not splinter. Lincoln said that during time of insurrection some civil liberties can be suspended in order to keep the nation from splintering. Bush's lawyers have said that the President can excuse people from having to obey laws, and that the adminstration can torture suspected enemies of the state.

I skimmed the various memos that have been posted by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other newspapers, and none of them seem to use the natural law background I lay out here. I suspect that they did not for several reasons. The first is that I am using antebellum constitutional theory and they tend to look at the more recent stuff. The second is that I am making an argument from first principles and most constitutional and legal jurisprudence is much more comfortable working with precedents and citations. The third is that to have done so would be to invite the comparison I am making here.

Jefferson - double the size of the nation by buying territory.
Jackson - prevent a single state from nullifying federal law.
Lincoln - put down a domestic insurrection and preserve the nation.
Bush 43 - torture random people as part of a poorly defined war on terror.

Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln all took their policies to the polls (Jackson indirectly as nullification came to a head during the winter after his re-election). All were vindicated by the voters.

So I suppose a vote for GWB is a vote for torture as a matter of state policy. Do you want to cast that vote?

Posted by
Red Ted
at 02:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
June Calendar

Pledge

I have been writing, or rather brainstorming, a lot these last few days and not blogging much at all. I have been wrestling with the nature of American Civil Religion and with the relationship between Christianity and the common law.

The more I dig into the antebellum understanding of the common law and religion, and of the relationships between the states and the union, the more I realized that the 1954 Pledge of Allegiance is just plain wrong.

Why?

Religion is a state matter, not a national matter. That is the one thing that the founders and the folks who ratified the Constitution all agreed on. It appears that Justice Thomas agrees, which confuses Eric Muller.

And, drawing on the notion of natural law and the law of nations, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson and Lincoln all agreed that the United States has its own existence prior to the Constitution, generally dating from the Continental Congress in 1775 (If we dated it from the Declaration of Independence, then Virginia would be separate because it declared independence in June, 1776) The nation has been proven to be indivisible; states have divided themselves again and again - the entire midwest was once Virginia.

What does that mean? I would argue that the FEDERAL goverment can approve a Pledge of Allegiance that reads "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" while the STATE governments can approve pledges that read "our commonwealth, under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Thus while Justice Thomas suggests that the pledge policy is constitutional because it does not infringe on free exercise rights, I would suggest that it would only be constitutional if the state were to modify the pledge to apply to the state "under god" and the federal government "indivisible."

Of course, that then opens the can of worms about how does the notion that the 14th Amendment applies the Bill of Rights to the states affect the Establishment Clause and the 10th Amendment which were designed to protect the states from encroachment by the Federal Government. Eugene Volokh likes to think of the establishment clause and the free exercise clause as countervailing clauses, the first protecting government from religion, the second protecting religion from the government. It is not a bad way to read it; I do not know what John Jay, John Marshal, Joseph Story, or even the lamented Robert Taney would say about it.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 01:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
June Calendar

June 14, 2004

Civil Religion

Well, after being not very productive the tail end of last week, and then spending the weekend doing everything but writing, I get to buckle back down to the new chapter 2b.

I am writing about civil religion and the tensions between civil religion and freedom of conscience. Today I get to write up blasphemy cases, reading through NY. State v. Ruggles and Updegraph v Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to figure out exactly what Chancellor Kent and friends meant when they claimed that Christianity is part of the Common Law.

What this means is that I have spent the last week or so thinking about common law and relationg common law to legal formalism to daily experience. I am glad that I am not a lawyer.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 11:05 AM | TrackBack
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June 09, 2004

Books

Three book writeups and a brief movie over on the reading log:

longer piece on Clancy and Franks, Into the Storm
short thing on Modesitt, Adiamante
and a couple of words on Chinatown
and on Lenner, Federal Principle in American Politics

and back to work.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 08:49 AM | TrackBack
June Calendar

Dirty Minds

I admit it, I have a dirty mind.

I was scrolling through the online library catalogue and discovered

Your Pet Beaver

Nope, not that beaver. It is a humerous kids book about the animal - apparantly they make great flyswatters.

Still, I am afraid to search that catalog for bearded clams or trouser snakes.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 05:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
June Calendar

Eep Eep, a new chapter!

Well, it is official.

Chapter two has now calved.

J wants me to call them 2a and 2b so that she can keep track of what I am working on. I am leaning towards simply renumbering the whole thing. Of course, I name my chapter files by the core point of the chapter and then the year and month that I worked on that particular draft: so right now I am making my first pass through the new chapter 2b and it is stored in file Civil200406. I think of them as Civil, Ally, Orgs, and so on and only use the numbers when talking to other people.

And back to bashing my way through natural law, common law, and the law of nations.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 01:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
June Calendar

June 08, 2004

Elections!

Today is Primary Election Day in New Jersey.

I am dreadfully excited; I will get to walk down the block and cast my ballot for which candidate should stand in the Presidential election.

I always try to vote as if my vote were the tie-breaker and would decide the entire contest. I shall have to work hard to choose between John Kerry, John Kerry, and John Kerry.

If only there was a LaRouche Republican running, I could switch parties and be a jerk.

EDIT: at 10:20 this morning, I was the third Democratic voter in my district. The election staff were getting ready to start cruising the streets to corral voters, just so they would have some business.

EDIT 2: at 6:15 at night, J was the 16th Democrat; there had also been 11 Republicans. Now that is a low turnout.

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Red Ted
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June 06, 2004

Flags for the year

Well, I just spent the rest of this year's flag budget.

I summoned a Betsy Ross (because J likes them), a Gadsden, and a Fort Moultrie. Betsy Ross beat out the Serapis, Freemont, Green Mountain Boys, and Star Spangled Banner (15*15) by a nose for the third place in the order.

Much as I like the Red/Blue flag of New England, I already had a pine tree flag. So many flags, so few flagpoles.

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June 04, 2004

Another draft down

Well, the current pass through chapter four just ended. YAY.

I still have three separate conclusions fighting for control of the end of the draft, but I will fix that in a couple of weeks when I come back to it. For now, the words are down on paper. Now I get to walk away so that I can read them critically when I go to review them.

And so to print out chapters two and three for their next polish. It never ends.

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Cheese Art

LeeAnn needs to see this.

I am not sure if I needed to see it however.

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Where is that confounded bridge?

I am a fast reader with good retention. This is normally a good thing.

It is a bad thing at times, however, because it means that I never developed good study habits in high school or even as an undergraduate. I struggled my first few years in grad school because I did not know how to take reading notes. Heck, I still don't take very good reading notes.

That lack of note-taking has bitten me in the butt in the past, it is getting me again this week. Sometime in the mid to late 1990s I read several items that suggested that low-church evangelicals competed with educated ministers coming out of the Congregational/Presbyterian/Episcopal tradition by arguing about who was best equipped to combat "infidelity" - Painite freethinkers. The educated men argued that they had the background to refute appeals to the Bible; they had the languages to talk about source texts; they could confound any appeals to authority. The low-church folks argued that they spoke the vernacular; they could respond to a quick critical attack on revelation with a quick response in the same idiom; they were common folks and could talk to common folks in language that would be easily understood.

I hit that basic premise several times, enough times that I thought it was common knowledge that did not require footnoting or careful records. And, of course, it is not common knowledge -- far from it. Most of the historiography on the low-church guys focuses on their appeal to Democratic values and individual conscience, or on the theological controversies that dominated the American religious scene from the 1790s through the 1830s.

And so, after a couple of days of checking my notes, my photocopies, and my personal library, I had to write the embarrassing footnote that says, in effect, "I know I read this but I don't know where."

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Spotting Plagarism

Teresa Nielsen Hayden at Making Light comments on a Kent University student who recently complained about getting called for plagarism, apparantly he plagarized for the previous three years and was not accused of anything and so he thought it was OK to keep doing it.

I rather liked her formula for spotting plagarization:

Now, given his evident attitude, he canít have been a very gifted plagiarist. Few students are. Unless theyíre better-than-average writers, itís often enough just to monitor their semicolons: If they come and go, the studentís cheating.
I don't check semicolons, but I do watch for complex v simple sentences. She also suggests going back through plagarists' older work to check for repeat cheating. That works, if you have copies of it all. I know some professors insist that students turn in all papers twice, once as hardcopy and once by email. They then check the electronic copy for plagarism, and then archive it for future reference. As an adjunct, the only thing I keep are the final exam blue books, and those only because the Commonwealth of Virginia mandates that they be kept for seven years - I may be in Jersey now, but I still keep the blue books.

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Thanks Brad !

I was due to hit my 10,000th visitor sometime this weekend.

Thanks to the Brad-alanch below I blew through that marker sometime this afternoon.

Thanks Brad.

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June 03, 2004

Reading Suggestions

I offered to suggest a couple of books for one of my readers, a person who tends "to prefer reading about people rather than events, and military history is not one of my interests."

That means more biography and prosopography (history of a group of people), some intellectual/cultural history, and very little diplomatic/political history.

My favorite biography is Laurel Thatcher Ulrich A Midwife's Tale - Ulrich takes the diary of Martha Ballard, who worked as a midwife in Maine in the 1790s and 1800s, and decodes it into a full biography of Martha and partial history of her town. She traces the dislocations of the American Revolution and the Jeffersonian/Federalist conflict and shows how they affected the lives of Martha and her family. People who have enjoyed the recent Colonial House TV series might enjoy a look at the same ground some 170 years later.

Alan Taylor's book Liberty Men and Great Proprietors looks at events in mid-Maine from a larger perspective, focusing on the three families who bought the land grants that filled that part of Maine and tried to collect money from the people squatting there, and on the squatters and settlers who did not want to pay the proprietors. He has a wonderful set piece describing Mr and Mrs Henry Knox, and some great stories about settlers, treasure-hunting, and life in mid Maine. Taylor's
William Cooper's Town
looks at Cooperstown, NY, through William Cooper and the fiction of his son James Fenimore Cooper. It got more critical acclaim, but I still have not found it gripping enough to finish it.

Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra is not American history, but it is a wonderful biography of some interesting people. It is sad tragic, so be prepared. I just wrote about it on the reading log.

Anyone who works in a corporate environment should know some corporate history. My two favorite books there are Oliver Zunz Making America Corporate and Alfred Chandler The Visible Hand.

Zunz is the more modest book and it has held up better. He collected brief biographies of several hundred people who worked for corporations at the turn of the 20th century, then digs through these to show how they created modern corporate culture, one incremental little decision at a time. I like it, but when I assigned it in the survey the kids hated it - it was too hard and there were too many names.

Chandler's book is a big structural explanation of why and how we had big corporations in the 20th century. He argues that the successful corporations followed the planning and divisional model of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the DuPont, that planning is more efficient than other modes of doing business, and that once things get big they stay big. He wrote before the third industrial revolution kicked in, and most of the big long-lasting firms that he celebrated in the 1970s when he wrote the book have since gone tits up, merged, or been replaced by new corporations. So, his conclusions are faulty while his story of the growth of corporations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is still quite good.

Another good story about people and business is William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis a geographic history of Chicago. This is the history of a place, like Burroughs and Wallace Gotham
but with a more focused argument. I like both; I recommend either to people who have ties to the appropriate city; I prefer Cronon's book.

Finally, for business history, I really like Roland Marchand Advertising the American Dream, a look at the growth of the advertising business in the 1920s. The book is recently back in print and it is a good thing that it is.

Some of the best written American history is written about the South. I am fond of two related books, both large and both focusing on the New South after the American Civil War. C. Van Woodward's The Origins of the New South is a wonderful political history of the era that includes a long discussion of culture and society. Ed Ayers The Promise of the New South is a wonderful cultural history that includes some discussions about politics and especially about the ambiguities of race. Ayers is particularly good at evoking the people of the era; as he describes the origins of the project, he was in the archives reading documents and stories and the people were so strong that he felt unable to summarize their stories, so instead he wrote what is basically a collage and let the people tell their own stories. It is a very postmodern book, in that Ayers disguises his argument and emphasizes the many overlapping voices of the past, but unlike the Cornell school Ayers writes clear grammatical sentences and crafts lucid and compelling prose. His art is to appear transparent when he is not, theirs is to add a layer of opacity to what would otherwise be clear. Both have their uses, but Ayers is a better light read.

That should be enough for now, more later.

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What do we do with a witch in Salem?

To the tune of "Drunken Sailor"

What do we do with a witch in Salem
What do we do with a witch in Salem
What do we do with a witch in Salem
Early in the Semester?

Make the kids read more than a little
...

Somewhat seriously, the last time I taught US part 1 I decided that I should include the Salem Witch Trials, something I had avoided in earlier years. So far I have handled them poorly twice, in both cases because the kids did not get enough information to understand what was going on. The first time through we used a stock reader that included a brief anecdote about the three girls going into fits and pointing at one of the accused witches. The students simply could not imagine what was going on - the events in that courtroom were so foreign to their experience that they refused to grapple with them. The second time I gave them no reading about the witch trials and instead made a few comments about witch trials as a response to the Dominion of New England - for a while the Court of Oyer and Terminay that was hearing the witch trials was the ONLY active court in all of New England, and so many people took their greivances there in the guise of a witchcraft accusation.

Neither worked well, so this fall I will devote an entire class to the trials, give the kids some reading on the trials, and use the witch trials as a chance both to explore women's history at the end of the 17th century and to immerse the kids in the world of wonders.

So, I am making a stack of primary documents and thinking about what to do with them. My current thoughts are to simply make them write a short homework on the witch trials and then trust to the interest of the subject to keep them going, to have them write a full paper on the trials and give them the resources to do so, or to devote the class to a witch trial, with students playing roles. The latter is the high-risk alternative - I don't know if I have the confidence to pull it off.

But first, to see what I can find in the convenient documentary collections. I suspect that if I assigned all of Cotton Mather's Magnalia Cristos America I would see a rebellion.

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Roses - Its whats for dinner

"Roses - Its whats for dinner" said one little green cutworm to another.

"Yum, lets invite our friends and have a party" his friend replied.

"Boy, this tall magenta rose sure is tasty; can we have seconds -- we just finished eating this cane." said the guests.

"Sure, eat eat; its good for you. There are some other rose plants around the house you can have for dessert."

"Oh goody" said the guests.

"Eat Eat EAT" said the toddler worms.

And then I sprayed the roses with bug poison.

In two weeks, I get to do it again.

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June 02, 2004

Sleep and anti-Catholicism

I did not sleep well last night. I got it from both ends.

I was tired around 10:00, but not sleepy. Then, a little later, I got the pre-palpitation feeling that means that I will have trouble getting my heart steady enough to sleep. Perhaps I could have fallen asleep, perhaps not. Instead of trying I let myself rattle until almost 2:00am. I then woke at 4:00 to pee, flushed, and this disturbed the toddler.

The toddler was up and down from 4:30 onward. Luckily J's alarm is at 5:30am and she took him for half an hour letting me get some more nap.

Needless to say, I am a bit out of it today - and we are going out tonight so I will have to be coherent to sit through a festival of choirs. I do think I get a nap.

Meanwhile, I am struggling to sharpen my discussion of anti-Catholicism in the 1830s and 1840s. I set things up with Lyman Beecher, who accuses the entire RC church of engaging in the sort of political dictation that four bishops did to selected Democratic politicians last week. I then move on to discuss Bishop Hughes and Protestant-Catholic spats in the 1840s.

My problem comes because while LB was one of the guys who kicked off the 1830s and 1840s wave of anti-Catholicism, he did so while using mainstream rhetoric. In contrast, James Breckenridge argued that the RC church was always and everywhere destructive of civil liberty, Mariah Monk was making up sex scandals about a Montreal convent, and the hard-core anti-Catholics were quoting Revelations and applying it to Rome.

So, is Beecher a hard-core anti-Catholic or is there a meaningful difference between the folks who say nasty things in nice language and the folks who say nasty things in nasty language? I recall that the Civil Rights movement decided that while there was little moral difference between the folks who used hate speech to terrorize "niggers" and the folks who used patronizing speech to devalue "nigrahs", the latter could be embarrassed into changing their public positions and therefore there was a meaningful tactical difference that the movement could exploit.

In any case, I think I can turn the two paragraphs on Bibles in the schools into two sentences. And that might help me make my point forcefully enough.

It is hard to write with a head full of moss.

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June 01, 2004

Tuesday Garden Blogging

I did not kill the Amber Queen (yet) -- she is showing new leaves above the mulch from two of her canes. One cane is dried out and dead, and the fourth cane is not sure if it is alive or dead. Still, two is enough to have a rose bush. Yay.

The Red Alert tomatoes are blooming, this is a good thing. The Legends are not yet in flower, although the legend tomatoes I gave to mom already have their first little tomato pea on them. Her plants are continuing the head-start that her greenhouse windows gave them.

I planted the vinca I started from seed - they are still very small. I also seeded the rest of the vinca into the cut flower garden, and those seedlings are now up. While I was at it I bought some more dianthus and put them in on one side of the front garden, around the yellow dream rose which is itself about to bloom.

So, all in all the front garden is looking raggedy but green. Good enough for me.

We also ordered the new bulbs for the fall - tulips, crocus, and anemone all did well so we got more of them. We will transplant J's tulips to another bed and see if they do better someplace else - they are not doing well where they are.

So far I am killing about a third of my plants, having a third of them struggle, and having a third of them thrive. Not bad for my first year in the new soil.

EDIT - I am spraying my roses for black spot every Tuesday and after every heavy rain. It rained a LOT over the weekend so the plants needed a good prophylactic spraying; I sprayed mid-day after the plants had dried out. It just now showered again around 4:00 - not sure if the rain washed all my fine new fungicide off the leaves.

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Internet Sacred Texts

Via the Curmudgeonly Clerk I see a really neat archive of world sacred texts.

The cool thing about the internet is that special interest groups put up all sorts of primary documents, because they care about them.

The frustrating thing about the internet is that because it is special interest groups they tend to put up what they are interested in, not what you are interested in. In other words, they don't have the Geneva Bible online yet (and I am not about to type it in for them.)

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