Sunday, January 31, 2010


  1. Prediction: the IPad will bomb. I think it has a couple fatal flaws: 1. no flash support, 2. no keyboard, and 3. no device to hold it up. One of the great things about a laptop is you can put it on your lap and adjust the angle of the screen and get a good, hands-free view of the screen. 4. No gray-scale screen. The Kindle screen I think makes is better for people who want something like the IPad for reading. 5. Not as portable as the IPhone. most people will think they're covered with their IPod Touch/IPhone. Could be wrong, but this is what my gut tells me.
  2. Did you see Superman Returns? I just watched it again recently. It seemed to me that the story was a dramatization of the gospels. First, Superman goes off for several years by himself, to investigate his destroyed planet. Something similar to Christ's fasting, or maybe the unaccounted for time before his ministry begins. When he returns, Lois tells superman that the world doesn't need a "savior," but it clearly does in the form of Superman. Superman proceeds save a number of people miraculous for some period. In the mean time, Lex Luther creates the crystal island in the middle o the ocean which threatens to destroy almost all humanity. Superman knows he is going towards the kryptonite that Lex Luther has, but he intentionally submits to his own death.  He is killed by Lex Luther on the crystal island, even stabbed in the side, before falling into the water to his "death." He is pulled from the water and his wounds are tended to by Lois for some time. He then returns to the water only to emerge to purge the world from sin crystal island. It's not a perfect analogy, but to me, the parallels are striking.
  3. Has there ever been a more uneven movie than Up? I wish the whole movie was like the first 20 minutes, but that probably would not keep 4 year-olds interested.
  4. My new most hated company is Samsung. I bought a Blu-ray player for Christmas, and it worked fine except that it never would connect to the internet, despite saying "Wireless LAN ready" on the box. I finally broke down and read the instructions, and it said I needed a USB wireless card. If a Blue-ray player can't connect to the internet immediately it's not "wireless ready" it's "wireless compatible" at best. So I bought the cheapest wireless card I could find, not really knowing how it would work with the system. After trying that a bit, and not getting it to work, I went online to discover that, to get the wireless to work, you have to buy a Samsung proprietary "dongle" (no really), and that dongle costs 70 bucks, or almost the cost of the Blu-ray player itself. So I took the player back. I think I'm just going to get a PS3, mostly for Blu-ray, although I'll probably play it some. I do like the aesthetic of Samsung products, though.
  5. I love this short post about the Alito-Obama Citizens United confrontation. I wish supreme court justices like Alito would do more media. I can only see it helping. I also like this Althousian post. Every once in a while, between photo blogging, and other semi-serious posts, Althouse criticism someone witheringly. You make a lot of enemies with posts like that. I think I care too much about being liked to write posts like that.
  6. In an effort not to insist upon the last word, I'm not going to post any more comments over at B v. E on the last two blog posts (Avatar, and Education). I do have more thoughts about education. Brett, the reasons I used economic analysis on this education question, is that I essentially view the problem as an economic one: we have a finite amount of resources (money and time); how do we best allocate those resources in the classroom? Do we teach math, science, dance, psychology, self-help, curiosity, architecture? When you have so many alternatives and each person derives different utility from different options, you need a market responsive to individual preferences.
  7. I just got a copy of No Country for Old Men, and I'll re-post on it when I'm done reading (which could be a while).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Citizens United

While I generally like Reason, this post kind of irritates me. With the exception of some fundamental rights that are necessary to the operation of a democracy, I'd prefer most policy choices be left to normal statutory law. But when courts snatch policy decisions from the democratic process using some specious constitutional theory, then the only recourse remaining to the people is to amend the constitution.

What Welch has done is lump together constitutional decisions based upon actual constitutional provisions --like the flag burning decision based on the First Amendment--with policy decision masquerading as constitutional law--like the right to abortion or same-sex marriage. I think most people who are pro-life or pro-traditional marriage would be more than happy to leave those decisions to the democratic process if the courts did, too.

Really, Welch is saying the constitutions should always represent his policy preference of expanding freedom. We can agree that increasing freedom is good, but I guess we don't agree on what constitutes increasing freedom. For instance abortion might increase the freedom of pregnant women but it significantly decreases the freedom of the unborn. So the constitution should always expand freedom and freedom is what Welch says it is.

On a semi-related topic, I also think Stossel way oversimplifies the complexity of the First Amendment jurisprudence. Talking about the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United that held corporations have First Amendment rights, Stossel writes:
This should be obvious. The First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." What part about "Congress shall make no law" don't the other justices understand?
But really there are all kinds of speech that congress can abridge. Like the classic example of yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Or what about a conspiracy to commit murder. Both of these are speech of a type, but not protected by the First Amendment. So while I agree that this was the Supreme Court reached the right decision, the correct analysis is, in fact, more subtle that simply reading the text. See, here, here and here for a more thorough analysis.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blog Grab Bag

I have a lot of post ideas, but not enough time to write detailed post on all of them. So I've decided to write a sentence or two on each in one post.
  • Avatar: I agree with all the political criticism that's been written about Avatar (Brooks, Goldberg). But the thing that really bugs me about this movie is how the technology in the "future" hasn't evolved far enough to have unmanned aircraft, or unmanned robot warriors. Absurd.
  • The Fugitive: I just realized that this movie has a ridiculously leftist plot, that as many times as I've watched doesn't really make complete sense. Still I watch this movie almost every time it's on TV.
  • No Country for Old Men. Saw this on USA. Really bloody for cable. The story's seems simple yet I think there is some deeper meaning. There must be something to this "film making" talent. Have you seen it and do you think that it is a conservative movie? Also, what does it mean?
  • Elders Quorum Moves: Do you think that church members should rely upon the elder's quorum to move them when they could probably handle it themselves? Is it abusing a church system to do so, or giving others a chance to serve?
  • Conan v. Leno. I like Leno but  love Conan. (I've never liked Letterman, although I think he is edgier/usually funnier than Leno.) But I don't think Conan ever had the broad appeal necessary to make the Tonight Show work. I also don't think it's Leno's job to just get out of Conan's way either. Maybe Conan can partially blame the low ratings on the Leno Show's bad lead in. (Although there is still the local new in between.) But the Tonight Show is not Conan's entitlement. I do think this mess is Zucker's. He thought he could promise Conan the Tonight Show to keep him at the network and the day of reckoning would never come. He was right. It's going to be more like a month or reckoning.
  • I have this compulsion to always make another blog comment. It's not that I necessarily want to have the last word, just that I always have some other thing to say or new way to make an argument that I dwell on until I put it down in a comment. In real life I just bit my tongue and the urge leave after the subject has changed. In blogging, the post is always out their taunting me. When do you say "when" when blogging?
  • Art, it seems to me, is best when it combines something familiar, yet somewhat edgy. Music that pushes boundaries but is still melodic. Movies that have not formulaic plots, but still have plots. Does that mean that trends are necessary to keep art great?
  • Being a lawyer is considerably suckier than I anticipated. I think this is for two reasons. First, you clients usually aren't happy. Frequently the kind of people that are involved in a lawsuit are shady characters. At a minimum they have sharp elbows. Also, they're not happy because almost all cases end in a compromise. Second, cases have real value, usually in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars range. It's not fun making close decisions when an errors can have huge ramifications.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Harris on Hume on Woods

Have you seen this clip where Brit Hume advises Tiger Woods to convert from Buddhism to Christianity?

Plenty of people with whom I usually agree are defending Hume. But I agree with Althouse, this is weird.

Seems to me Brit is doing one of two things: he's either evangelizing (come to Christ for forgiveness of sins) or he's offering some sort of PR advice (Come to Christ for forgiveness of fans).

I'm fine with evangelizing in the proper venue but Hume is paid to give political analysis. What's good for Wood's soul is a personal digression and not really relevant. It's an imposition. (Maybe all evangelizing is an imposition.) It's also weird. I wouldn't go to court and offer legal analysis based on the Book of Mormon, even if I thought it had some bearing on certain policies. Why is Hume offering political analysis based upon his religious beliefs?

If what Hume's suggesting, however, is Woods should convert to Buddhism to save his career, then that is truly crass. People should adhere to religion because they believe in it's teachings and principles, not for PR.

Hume apparently had a evangelical conversion after his son committed suicide, so I'm guessing this is evangelizing, which is less strange, but still out of place.