Monday, October 31, 2005

Hey, guys?

Shouldn't you central-Iowa types be suggesting some potential dates for our winter blogger bash, perhaps in January or February? I'm just saying.

Dating and Feminists

Maureen Dowd has a column up about post-feminism and dating in the NY Times (registration required. Username:Randommentality, password: password.) An excerpt:
At a party for the Broadway opening of "Sweet Smell of Success," a top New York producer gave me a lecture on the price of female success that was anything but sweet. He confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating. Men, he explained, prefer women who seem malleable and awed. He predicted that I would never find a mate because if there's one thing men fear, it's a woman who uses her critical faculties. Will she be critical of absolutely everything, even his manhood?

. . . .

A 2005 report by researchers at four British universities indicated that a high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to marry, while it is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by 35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise.

I can't begin to tell you how this annoys me.

The premise of the article is that women have caved in the gender wars, riding a backlash back to the fifties in an effort to pick up men. Her evidence? The success of the "Rules" books, the declining trend in keeping one's own name on marriage, the popularity of movies in which powerful men end up with the maid, the secretary, the serving girl. All because men are too insecure to handle the strong female.

Excuse me, but I find this highly insulting.

To men.

I can name off ten men who are married to brilliant, strong, beautiful women for each one who is drawn to the brainless young thing who needs rescuing from the harsh reality of life. Presuming looks are roughly equivalent, I don't think I know anyone who'd take the needy airhead over a sharp-witted, funny female.

Yes, her statistics may show that smart women marry less. I'd like to suggest that perhaps its a function of being a little choosy?

Guys? Any opposing views?

Samuel Alito and Casey: Preliminary Thoughts

There's a big buzz around the 'net about the nomination of Judge Alito for the Supreme Court. Daily Kos claims:
Samuel Alito would:
  • Overturn Roe v. Wade. About 2/3rds of Americans would oppose overturning Roe.

  • Allow race-based discrimination and discrimination based on disabilities.

  • Opposes {sic} the Family and Medical Leave Act. In fact, he doesn't just opppose it, he struck down the law in 2000. The Supreme Court reversed his decision. For Alito, workers shouldn't be able to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to take care of newborns or loved ones.

  • Has no problem with unauthorized strip searches.
ThinkProgress adds that he's hostile towards immigrants.

I'm no conservative, but from what I've seen this is not exactly true. SCOTUSBlog links to his decisions. Some excerpts:
A majority opinion in Fatin v. INS, 12 F.3d 1233 (3d Cir. 1993), holding that an Iranian woman seeking asylum could establish that she had a well founded fear of persecution in Iran if she could show that compliance with that country's "gender specific laws and repressive social norms," such as the requirement that women wear a veil in public, would be deeply abhorrent to her. Judge Alito also held that she could establish eligibility for asylum by showing that she would be persecuted because of gender, belief in feminism, or membership in a feminist group.

A majority opinion in Saxe v. State College Area School District, 240 F.3d 200 (3d Cir. 2001), striking down as contrary to the First Amendment a public school district anti-harassment policy that extended to nonvulgar, non-school-sponsored speech that posed no realistic threat of substantial disruption of school work.

A majority opinion in Shore Regional High School Board of Education v. P.S., 381 F.3d 194 (3d Cir. 2004), holding that a school district did not provide a high school student with a free and appropriate public education, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, when it failed to protect the student from bullying by fellow students who taunted the student based on his lack of athleticism and his perceived sexual orientation.

A majority opinion in Williams v. Price, 343 F.3d 223 (3d Cir. 2003), granting a writ of habeas corpus to an African-American state prisoner after state courts had refused to consider the testimony of a witness who stated that a juror had uttered derogatory remarks about African Americans during an encounter in the courthouse after the conclusion of the trial.

Go to the site and follow the links to read for yourself. I simply don't see the support for the claims that he would allow race-based discrimination, for example, when he decided to grant the writ in Price. And the Fatin v. INS decision is far more liberal than most I've seen in granting asylum.

From what I've seen, the most noise is centering around his dissenting opinion in the 3rd Circuit opinion in Casey v. Planned Parenthood (a seminal abortion case that went up to the Supreme Court) and a majority opinion in ACLU v. Schundler (a religious display case).

(NOTE: Since I can't seem to find the full text of the Casey dissent elsewhere on the net, I copied it here.)

To take these one at a time:

In ACLU v. Schundler, there was a tiff about a holiday display in front of the courthouse:

The modified display contained not only a creche, a menorah, and Christmas tree, but also large plastic figures of Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, a red sled, and Kwanzaa symbols on the tree. In addition, the display contained two signs stating that the display was one of a series of displays put up by the City throughout the year to celebrate its residents' cultural and ethnic diversity. We find this modified display to be indistinguishable in any constitutionally significant respect from the displays upheld by the Supreme Court in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984), and County of Allegheny v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989) (hereinafter "Allegheny County"), and we therefore hold that Jersey City's modified display is likewise constitutional.

Okay, I'm not going to go into the whole analysis on religious displays here, because it would be long, dull, and make my brain bleed. A bit of a summary from some old notes:
Lemon v. Kurtzman: At issue were two statutes. One gave private schools money for teaching public school subjects: textbook reimbursements, salary reimbursements, and so forth. The other gave to teachers in private elementary schools a 15% bonus, if the teacher taught in the same manner and the same subjects as in public schools, but capped the bonus at public school salaries. Content-neutral, sure. But it had the effect of subsidizing religious education because over 90% of the recipients were parochial schools. Basically, the states had gotten smarter in trying to work around the Amendments to fund religious education with taxpayer money. Taxpayers who disagreed with parochial schools filed suit to stop it. The Court articulated the following test in holding the statutes unconstitutional:
“First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion, Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 243 (1968); finally, the statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion." Walz, supra, at 674.”

So now they have a test. It’s a three-pronged balancing act. But those stupid facts keep getting in the way. The case most often noted as not fitting the test is Marsh v. Chambers, a 1983 Nebraska case involving a challenge to having the State government fund a chaplain to open its legislative sessions in prayer. The problem: there’s no real secular purpose that can be found in that. It’s a state exercise of religion that’s taxpayer funded. So it goes back to the Madison/Jefferson “can’t make people fund religion” line of thinking, and is unconstitutional, right? Okay, so explain how the founding fathers requisitioned the money to pay for a federal chaplain to open the federal legislature in prayer – the same Founding Fathers that wrote the Second Amendment. The Court decided the “unique history” of the practice took it out of the framework of the test and made it constitutional.

In Lynch v. Donnelly, the Lemon test is applied to a display of a nativity scene on a public square. Again, the Court starts the analysis with a long history of religious activity in and by the US. It notes that the same week that the Amendment was voted into existence, the same people ratified the payment of a chaplain to open congressional sessions with a prayer. It notes the whole “paying for religion” and school prayer debates, quoting extensively from both history and caselaw. The Court found that the city had conferred at best a coincidental or indirect benefit on religion by inclusion of the crèche in an otherwise secular display, not one sufficient to call “entanglement.” The stated purpose of the display was to celebrate the Holiday and to depict the origins of that Holiday, which was called a non-secular purpose. In examining effect, the Court compared it to past things that had been held constitutional, such as property tax breaks, and said it had to be more beneficial to religion than those in order for it to be unconstitutional. Since having a crèche obviously doesn’t help a religious institution more than a property tax break, etc., they found it passed.

Now, that doesn't even get into this year's McCreary and Van Orden v. Perry, which in my opinion made everything just that much less clear. An earlier post I had on the divisiveness analysis in those cases (a sub issue) is here.

The upshot: there is a potential a Christmas display is actually constitutional if it doesn't outright prosthelytize, it wasn't erected for a religious purpose, and it follows what my con law professor called the "two teddy bear" rule (when you throw a creche in with a couple of teddy bears, a dancing Santa, a menorah and such). To hold Alito out as some sort of right wing nut because he fell on the side of constitutionality in this case is unfair.

As far as the Casey decision goes, however, I am far more concerned. Unlike the 3rd Circuit majority, he would have upheld as constitutional a Pennsylvania law requiring a woman to notify her spouse prior to obtaining an abortion. The law at issue:
Section 3209 of the Act requires that, before a physician may perform an abortion on a married woman, the woman must sign a statement that she has notified her husband of her intended abortion. The Commonwealth is to provide the forms for these statements, and each form must bear a notice that false statements are punishable by law. Besides the standard medical emergency exception, § 3209 contains four other important exceptions. A woman is not required to notify her husband if: (1) her husband is not the father; (2) her husband, after diligent effort, cannot be located; (3) the pregnancy is a result of spousal sexual assault which has been reported to a law enforcement agency; or (4) the woman has reason to believe that notifying her husband is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury by her spouse or by another individual. If the woman provides a false statement on the form, she may be liable for a misdemeanor of the third degree. Any physician who performs an abortion without complying with this section may be subject to civil penalties.

Alito found that this statute didn't present an undue burden on abortion:
My disagreement with the majority regarding a single provision of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, 18 Pa.Cons.Stat.Ann. § 3201 et seq. (1983 & Supp.1991), results from disagreement about the portion of Justice O'Connor's two-part test that must be applied to this provision. Under that test, as the majority explains, a law that imposes an "undue burden" must serve a "compelling" state interest. By contrast, a law that does not impose an "undue burden" must simply be "rationally" or "reasonably" related to a "legitimate" state interest. The majority holds that Section 3209 constitutes an undue burden. The majority therefore applies the first prong of the two-part test and strikes down Section 3209 on the ground that it does not serve a "compelling" interest. I do not believe that Section 3209 has been shown to impose an undue burden as that term is used in the relevant Supreme Court opinions; I therefore apply the second prong of the two-part test; and I conclude that Section 3209 is constitutional because it is "rationally related" to a "legitimate" state interest.

He went on to note that parental notificaiton laws had not been held to be an undue burden, so why should spousal notifications be otherwise?

The majority found that because the risk of domestic abuse, physical or otherwise, is so great, the statute is inherently too burdensome:
The Pennsylvania legislature has not been unmindful of the burdens imposed on pregnant wives by § 3209 and has attempted to ease or avoid a number of them by including exceptions. Section 3209, for example, speaks to the dilemma of a woman who "has reason to believe that the furnishing of notice to her spouse is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury upon her by her spouse or by another individual." A woman with such a fear may avoid notification by certifying her fear to her physician on a form provided by the Commonwealth. *713 While ameliorative, this exception does not save § 3209 from being unduly burdensome in the constitutional sense. The district court found, with appropriate record support, that battered spouses are psychologically incapacitated from making the assertion required by the statute even when there is ample objective basis for the required fear. Many other women who have never before been the victims of "bodily injury" at the hands of their husband, may subjectively fear that notice may occasion "the first time," but conclude that they lack the requisite "reason to believe." Moreover, it is not clear to us that the "fear of bodily injury" exception was intended to aid those women whose access to an abortion is blocked by physical constraints or who reasonably fear physical abuse and the attendant suffering, but cannot conscientiously represent that injury to their bodies is likely to occur.

If physical violence were the only burden reasonably predictable from coerced spousal notification we might be inclined in this facial challenge to hold that the fear of bodily injury exception was sufficient to avoid an undue burden, at least until the effects of the Act in practice are known. But as we have previously stressed, physical violence is not the only burden reasonably predictable. The record reveals and the district court found that if § 3209 is allowed to go into effect, abortions can and will be prevented by economic and psychological duress and wives can and will be penalized by such duress for electing abortions.

One other of § 3209's exceptions warrants comment in our assessment of the burdens imposed by that section. The record demonstrates and the district court found that many women consent to sexual intercourse with their husbands solely to avoid greater physical or psychological abuse. Section 3209 provides that when a child is conceived in the course of coerced sex, notification need not be given, if, but only if, the wife reports her husband to law enforcement authorities having jurisdiction over the matter. While this limitation on the exception is understandably imposed to discourage misrepresentations at the time an abortion is sought, its motivation does not ease the impact of the notification requirement on a woman who finds herself pregnant as a result of a sexual assault by her spouse. Given the devastating effect that a report to law enforcement authorities is likely to have on the marital relationship and the economic support provided the wife by the marriage, we believe it would be unrealistic to find that such a woman's right to choose an abortion is not severely burdened by § 3209.

In looking at the decision, and trying to be fair, I can't exactly fault Alito's reasoning here. If the parental notificiation rules are legal as not imposing an undue burden, why should a spousal rule be otherwise? Surely the level of intimidation is not all that different between an abused spouse and an abused child?The Supreme Court's decision in Casey discusses just that issue at great length:
This conclusion is in no way inconsistent with our decisions upholding parental notification or consent requirements. See, e.g., Akron II, 497 U.S., at 510 -519; Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622 (1979) (Bellotti II); Planned Parenthood of Central Mo. v. Danforth, 428 U.S., at 74 . Those enactments, and our judgment that they are constitutional, are based on the quite reasonable assumption that minors will benefit from consultation with their parents and that children will often not realize that their parents have their best interests at heart. We cannot adopt a parallel assumption about adult women.

We recognize that a husband has a deep and proper concern and interest . . . in his wife's pregnancy and in the growth and development of the fetus she is carrying. Danforth, supra, at 69. With regard to the children he has fathered and raised, the Court has recognized his "cognizable and substantial" interest in their custody. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651 -652 (1972); see also Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246 (1978); Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380 (1979); Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U.S. 248 (1983). If this case concerned a State's ability to require the mother to notify the father before taking some action with respect to a living [505 U.S. 833, 896] child raised by both, therefore, it would be reasonable to conclude, as a general matter, that the father's interest in the welfare of the child and the mother's interest are equal.

Before birth, however, the issue takes on a very different cast. It is an inescapable biological fact that state regulation with respect to the child a woman is carrying will have a far greater impact on the mother's liberty than on the father's. The effect of state regulation on a woman's protected liberty is doubly deserving of scrutiny in such a case, as the State has touched not only upon the private sphere of the family, but upon the very bodily integrity of the pregnant woman. Cf. Cruzan v. Director, Mo. Dept. of Health, 497 U.S., at 281 . The Court has held that, when the wife and the husband disagree on this decision, the view of only one of the two marriage partners can prevail. Inasmuch as it is the woman who physically bears the child and who is the more directly and immediately affected by the pregnancy, as between the two, the balance weighs in her favor. Danforth, supra, at 71. This conclusion rests upon the basic nature of marriage and the nature of our Constitution: [T]he marital couple is not an independent entity with a mind and heart of its own, but an association of two individuals, each with a separate intellectual and emotional makeup. If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child. Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S., at 453 (emphasis in original). The Constitution protects individuals, men and women alike, from unjustified state interference, even when that interference is enacted into law for the benefit of their spouses.

There was a time, not so long ago, when a different understanding of the family and of the Constitution prevailed. In Bradwell v. State, 16 Wall. 130 (1873), three Members of this [505 U.S. 833, 897] Court reaffirmed the common law principle that a woman had no legal existence separate from her husband, who was regarded as her head and representative in the social state; and, notwithstanding some recent modifications of this civil status, many of the special rules of law flowing from and dependent upon this cardinal principle still exist in full force in most States. Id., at 141 (Bradley, J., joined by Swayne and Field, JJ., concurring in judgment). Only one generation has passed since this Court observed that "woman is still regarded as the center of home and family life," with attendant "special responsibilities" that precluded full and independent legal status under the Constitution. Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U.S. 57, 62 (1961). These views, of course, are no longer consistent with our understanding of the family, the individual, or the Constitution.

In keeping with our rejection of the common law understanding of a woman's role within the family, the Court held in Danforth that the Constitution does not permit a State to require a married woman to obtain her husband's consent before undergoing an abortion. 428 U.S., at 69 . The principles that guided the Court in Danforth should be our guides today. For the great many women who are victims of abuse inflicted by their husbands, or whose children are the victims of such abuse, a spousal notice requirement enables the husband to wield an effective veto over his wife's decision. Whether the prospect of notification itself deters such women from seeking abortions, or whether the husband, through physical force or psychological pressure or economic coercion, prevents his wife from obtaining an abortion until it is too late, the notice requirement will often be tantamount to the veto found unconstitutional in Danforth. The women most affected by this law - those who most reasonably fear the consequences of notifying their husbands that they are pregnant - are in the gravest danger. [505 U.S. 833, 898]

The husband's interest in the life of the child his wife is carrying does not permit the State to empower him with this troubling degree of authority over his wife. The contrary view leads to consequences reminiscent of the common law. A husband has no enforceable right to require a wife to advise him before she exercises her personal choices. If a husband's interest in the potential life of the child outweighs a wife's liberty, the State could require a married woman to notify her husband before she uses a post-fertilization contraceptive. Perhaps next in line would be a statute requiring pregnant married women to notify their husbands before engaging in conduct causing risks to the fetus. After all, if the husband's interest in the fetus' safety is a sufficient predicate for state regulation, the State could reasonably conclude that pregnant wives should notify their husbands before drinking alcohol or smoking. Perhaps married women should notify their husbands before using contraceptives or before undergoing any type of surgery that may have complications affecting the husband's interest in his wife's reproductive organs. And if a husband's interest justifies notice in any of these cases, one might reasonably argue that it justifies exactly what the Danforth Court held it did not justify - a requirement of the husband's consent as well. A State may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.

Section 3209 embodies a view of marriage consonant with the common law status of married women, but repugnant to our present understanding of marriage and of the nature of the rights secured by the Constitution. Women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry. The Constitution protects all individuals, male or female, married or unmarried, from the abuse of governmental power, even where that power is employed for the supposed benefit of a member of the individual's family. These considerations confirm our conclusion that 3209 is invalid. [505 U.S. 833, 899]

MY TWO CENTS: I'm wondering if the whole "equal protection" thing mentioned in the last paragraph might actually hold additional issues to analyze. When you consider the distinction being drawn by the provision between married and unmarried women, in requiring one to notify her sex partner of an impending abortion and not requiring the other to do so, I'm wondering if it fails even the most basic rational basis test. What would be the purpose in requiring one to notify and the other not? The father's rights in the child are the same. The risks to the women's health are the same. What's the rational basis the government would have for drawing the distinctions between the two (unprotected) classes?

(NOTE: if you're in a protected class, such as race, you get a higher level of scrutiny than an unprotected class, and the government needs to show more than a rational basis to draw a distinction. So if a law distinguishes between whites and blacks, it's harder to have it upheld than if it distinguishes between people who have piercings and those who do not, for example. I'm suggesting that this law doesn't even pass rational basis if you define the classes as married vs. unmarried women).

I do agree that there's a big difference between requiring a minor to notify parents of an impending medical procedure and requiring a grown adult to to the same. Minor notification of parents which is the norm, and an unnotified abortion would be an exception to the rule, since the minor is presumed incompetent to contract or make decisions for herself. Adult women, on the other hand, are not required to tell our husbands or significant others about any other medical procedure, including getting our tubes tied, which would also presumably affect the man's "rights" in any unborn children we could potentially carry. So why carve out this exception?

There are so many ways in which this law should have failed constitutional scrutiny, that I am troubled at someone who would not find it a problem. That said, I also take issue with anyone who would extrapolate from this ruling that Alito would overturn Roe. He simply didn't say that. He very well could try to do so, given the tenor of his opinion. But it can't be made a flat accusation, as if he'd come out in the dicta and said "And for the record, Roe bites."


There's already a blog. Ooookaaay.

Friday, October 28, 2005

MacBeth: Opening Night Obsessing

First off, the important stuff:

Opening Night Tonight!!!!

directed by Michael Sokoloff

Abraham Peterka as Macbeth
Paula Grady as Lady Macbeth

Moongarden Acting Company

October 28, 29 & November 4, 5
at the Iowa City Community Theatre building.

Curtain 8pm


Now that that's out there, my perspective as a basically insignificant character played by an annoyingly verbose blogger:

There is so much cool stuff going on in this. The stage is minimal, but unusual - it's just a raised platform with a large slanted apron. NOTE: not tiered, slanted, a bit of a challenge to walk on in heels. There's grating on it (also a death-trap for heels) with lights and fog machine underneath. These allow for some really freaking cool effects, and Peter uses them to full advantage.

Dennis has some really freaky sound effects going on, particularly during the witch and battle scenes. Personally, I hope we kept that one "double double toil and trouble" background effect, where not only did we have that menacing drumbeat, but if you listened, it also sounded like Satan was chanting with them from somewhere overhead (I mean, it really sounded that way.) They were thinking about cutting it, I'm not sure the final decision. But that gives you the idea.

The costuming is also generally quite good, particularly for the guys. No lame-ass plastic daggers, but kilts and pelts and swords they have to dull (they swear they're not sharpening them, the jury's still out on that one). The witches float through the scenes in swaths of cheesecloth and have really freaky makeup. As far as my own costume goes, I actually found it myself, and think I did pretty well.

Acting wise, it's got the potential to kick ass. As Macbeth, Abe's awesome and you won't be disappointed. The rest of us are also generally very good, with a few last-minute rough bits we'll work through. And as you know, I've been damn impressed by the fight sequences from day 1. It's getting that much more interesting now that we're in costume and you can occasionally see what they wear under a kilt as they go flying about the stage. I'll just say nice view, and leave that one alone.

As for my scene: well, if we do it right you'll see some cool murder sequences. Oh, and I can still scream pretty loudly. There's some ripping of clothes and lifting of skirts involved, and I'm told the guys should appreciate it. All in all, I think it's about where it needs to be, except for last night.

It's going to be very cool, I'd definitely hit this one if you're available. Don't bring any kids that you wouldn't want to see violence and a bit of skin, though.


Referring to my earlier post on my bad OGP review, Homercles notes:
Those who can, do. Those who can't, become critics. Which, incidently, is #1 on my top 10 list of why I'll probably never try acting: my skin is too thin.

Yep, it helps to have a thick skin. But it's not as important as you think if you manage to retain some sense of perspective. Even a little bit.

This morning is a good example. You know the drill: 4:00 am, can't get back to sleep, feeling outclassed and wondering what the hell you just got yourself into. It wasn't the review. It stemmed from last night, when I made the mistake of letting myself get distracted with personal crap during intermission and lost my focus. I normally block out all any stuff that's going on, because it's rather unprofessional to bring it in unless you're going to use it as fodder. But I couldn't refrain from checking voicemail. That reminded me of the stuff I was blocking out, and dredged up all kinds of corresponding emotions. Then I got frustrated and mad at myself for not being able to shake it off. That was enough to throw off my timing, which frustrated me even more, etc. etc. etc.

I didn't drop a line or get a note or anything. A couple of people said they didn't anything wrong. But I knew, and so did anyone who was really paying attention. (By the way, thanks for the offer to run lines. I will have the timing back tonight. I promise.) I went to sleep depressed about the personal stuff and angry at myself for not exerting better control. I woke up insecure, obsessing, and not wanting much to get out of bed. I mean, I know I'm rather perfectionistic, and not just with acting. Okay, fine, very perfectionistic. It really, really, really, really bugs me when I feel I'm not up to par, despite having no pretensions of being an actual actor-type. Actually, to be bone honest, it bugs me whenever I'm not doing better than a healthy percentage of the people around me, in any activity for which I've got any insignificant shred of talent whatsoever. It's disconcerting, frustrating, and I hate it. (Side note: I hated law school because of it. Being surrounded by bunches of other people, most of them perfectionists who were also used to being top of the grade curve, makes you . . . about average. Aaargh. I'd not known precisely how competitive I am until I really had to work at it to keep up. Until I found my niche in advocacy, it was a freaking nightmare.)

So I'm lying there with the stupid dog snoring and the cat nibbling on my hand to get me to pet him, obsessing about the opening, and it pops into my head how the other day when we were experimenting with makeup (we tried some Kabuki thing, which really didn't fly), our director, Michael, expressed amazement that some of the cast knew little about theater makeup. Didn't we ever take a class? I take that riff for a while ("What the hell am I doing, I don't even know how to do makeup"), when it occurs to me: No, I've never had a makeup class. Or a costuming class, or a blocking (staging?) class (is that the right terminology?), or a voice lesson. Hell, I've never even had an acting class, except a semester of high school drama and a couple of Matty's six perspectives exercises. I know absolutely nothing about the theory of acting and methods and such. I'm making this shit up as I go. All I've got going for me is a brain for memorization, and . . . . . well, does lung capacity count?

I've had various friends and/or directors kindly try to include me in discussions on theory or method. Because I've absolutely no background, it makes my brain bleed as badly as Matty's does when he reads my legal posts. I can mostly keep up, but they have to keep stopping to explain who the people are and what theories they advocate, and I have, like, zero frame of reference to enable me to retain the information. So, maybe I should give myself some credit for being able to act as though I can act? Okay, that's a little tiny bit of crap unto itself. But still, while I'm not technically qualified to be in anything close to a professional production, apparently people who are so credentialed think I'm competent enough to cast me in good roles on a regular basis.

To tie it back, I'm not too concerned what a reporter for the Quad Cities thought of my acting in On Golden Pond. I mean, she's stuck reporting theater in the Quad Cities. As a career, for cryin' out loud. What I care about is what Jason thought of my performance, since he's A) very, very good; B) got the professional theater experience and background to know what the hell he's talking about; and C) a really cool person that I'm glad to have as a friend and I would never want to disappoint. And last Sunday (was it just last Sunday???), when we were all out after strike, Jason told me to look up the play The Shadow Box by Cristofer Michael, 'cause he wants to direct it sometime, and he thinks I'd be perfect for one of the parts. From what I can see, it's a complex, difficult piece. And he thinks I can do it. Go figure. So I guess I must be doing something right. When I found myself obsessing about the show, under this depressing cloud of "you're going to fail and make an idiot out of yourself in front of a gagillion people, and nobody likes what you're doing, and who the hell do you think you're fooling anyway" . . . I remembered that. Really, that's good enough for me.

Occurs to me that the competitive stuff makes me sound like I'd wish a bad performance/grade/luck on other people, or not be supportive of them. On the contrary, I want everybody to absolutely kick ass. Then I want to work my behind off to be on the high end of that curve. Then it means something. Example: in Appellate Advocacy I, I convinced the other side to get together with my team so we could trade information and make all our arguments stronger, basically transforming it more into a piece of performance art than an actual exercise in adversarial debate. It made sense to me: we were graded individually not adversarially, and the problem was intentionally supposed to be a close question with no right answer. So why not make everybody look good, then we'll all blow them away? No, it wasn't against the rules, just pretty much unheard of. It worked pretty well, though, judging by our grades.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The DM Register is Out to Get You

This post from Royce refers to the DM Register's revelation that most Iowans don't drive exactly 70 MPH:
Holy crap! 71.86 mph!!!
. . . .
We citizens of the great state of Iowa deserve and demand 100 percent compliance. Until then, expect the intrepid investigative reporters of the Des Moines Register will be watching you... always watching.

Oh, they're just annoyed because the big jump in fatalites they were predicting hasn't materialized.

Links with No Little Educational Value Whatsoever

How to knit your own DNA double helix. Or Yoda ears. Whatever.

Gratuitous link to the rather funny chinese lip synch video that's making the rounds.

What happens when you translate the lyrics from Shaft into Chaucerian-style English.

Flight Hello Kitty. No clue what they're putting into the oxygen over there.

Are you sure you haven't broken the law today?
Cereality has patents pending to give them an exclusive right to six business methods, including "displaying and mixing competitively branded food products" and adding "a third portion of liquid." If these patents are approved by the U.S. Patent Office, Cereality would have a complete monopoly on cereal bar business--just for being the first to put together the legalese necessary to describe mixing breakfast cereal.

Meanwhile, the White House has given a cease-and-desist letter to the Onion for using the presidential seal. (NY Times - Registration name= Randommentality, Password= Password). Hello? Parody? Satire? Any of these words ring a bell? You can help fight back by engaging in some annoying tactics:
Charles' post about sports broadcasts just reminded me of, which encourages people to warn ASCAP and Time Warner every time they hear someone singing "Happy Birthday" in public. By overwhelming clearance departments with frivolous letters, the site's creators hope to make a statement about copyright-gone-amok.

That said, perhaps a more direct way to the same end is to borrow a page from that sports guy and encourage the public to write letters any time they anticipate singing "Happy Birthday" in the near future.

Speaking of copyrights, maybe we should all remind Jib Jab just which side they're on?


(I'm sorry, that's just gotten way too far into actual content. I'll stop doing that. . . . By the way, have I said how badly I have the urge to make Holy Grail references whenever I hear them call for the horses sound effect in MacBeth? Anybody got a spare set of coconuts lying around? . . . .)

A unique system that can produce Hydrogen inside a car using common metals such as Magnesium and Aluminum was recently developed by an Israeli company. I see. It's sooo much simpler to go to the store and pick up some magnesium. Why didn't I think of that?

Lying is good for you. Oh, I mean, bad for you. Very, very bad.


Okay Fine Here's a Political Topic:

Things Going Round and Round posts the discussion about barriers against women in politics is a big yawn:
In the way that only women can do it, the Iowa Women’s Foundation held their Annual Grant Awards Luncheon, or self-congratulatory pity party, in Iowa City. As reported by the Press Citizen, the keynote speaker, Marie Wilson, founder & president of The White House Project went on and on about the barriers women face in the world of politics. It’s painful reading…
More women need to be elected to public office and recognized as capable leaders if they want equal treatment in America, a women's rights leader said Wednesday.
…and inspires a big, yeah sure, whatever.

So is this an issue or isn't it? Are these whiny women or do they have a legitimate point?

Neither Condi nor Hillary better be thinking top job very soon, according to this WNBC poll. 31% of Registered voters (33% of men and 23% of women) would not vote for any female for president, no matter what political party the candidate was affiliated with.

I find this astonishing. After Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meier - and hey, maybe Indira Ghandi wasn't the greatest leader ever, but c'mon guys. Are you seriously advocating females are incompetent for the job based solely on gender? Could you be persuaded if the other candidate were a complete moron (which, as we all know, the [insert opposing political party here] candidate always is)?

Even Iraq has had a ruling female, albiet in an abaya: Salama Khafaji was one of three women who served on the Iraqi Governing Council after the U.S. invasion, and is now a member of the country's interim parliament.

I'd say that while you can critique the speeches, the premise is unfortunately valid. The idea that a qualified candidate is considered unelectable by a full third of voters merely on the basis of gender is appalling.

The Shakespeare Code?

They're actually serious?
The book will claim that for years a conspiracy of secret codes, missing documents and high political intrigue has hidden the identity of the true “Shakespeare”. The riddle has been solved, say the authors, and the man who should be celebrated as Britain’s greatest writer is not Will, ye olde bard from Stratford.

There is almost no evidence, the authors claim, that the young man who came calling from Avon could wield a pen, let alone write like a midsummer night’s dream. The real hand behind Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and all the rest was, they claim, Sir Henry Neville, an educated nobleman far more suited to the role of literary genius.

Mmmmkay. Just to state the obvious - Sir Henry decided to let the illiterate Will claim all the credit over all these years, 'cause . . . . ??????

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

More Theater Babbling

Last week, I decided to a bit of online research regarding Macbeth, given I missed out on the dramaturgy session.

I found a bunch of interesting material on the history of the real-life MacBeth and MacDuff. As usual, Shakespeare did a bit of fudging on his facts.

I also got some differing interpretations on Lady MacDuff, from "timid, completely guileless, well intentioned, and too trusting of those around her", and the "architypical female of the era" who never questions her husband's loyalty, to an abandoned wife who
does not understand her husband's desertion and calls him a traitor, driven by fear.

I tend toward the latter interpretation, myself. She isn't guileless, but is somewhat constrained in her options for self-defense. She feels betrayed by her husband, but is ultimately resolute in the face of death. (Until she's actually attacked, that is. It's a bit hard to remain stoic while actually being killed, I should think.)

Another interesting interpretation:
The key to the scene, I think, is Macduff's Wife's conclusion to the scene:

Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember now
I am in this earthly world--where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly. Why then, alas,
Do I put up that womanly defense,
To say I have done no harm.

The Lady's defense is not womanly but manly, in stereotypes. Men are logical and women are emotional, in stereotypes. What we have here is her arriving at a logical conclusion, but Macbeth has made the world illogical, counter to everything it should be.

I'm going to have to ruminate on that one a bit.

I got some idea of how what works with the scene: "Macbeth has his henchmen kill the family, including a gruesome rape and murder offstage of Lady Macduff. After these terrible deeds, all is not quiet. There's a baby bawling in the palace. Macbeth hands a machete-like sword to Siward (Patrick Robinson), the baby's cousin. Siward silences the crying child, trembling as he emerges with his bloody sword." And what doesn't: "But Macduff's two boys were such hyperactive brats that one almost cheered when they were dispatched by Macbeth's assassins. Lady Macduff was pregnant at the time of her murder, and so for some reason was Lady Macbeth when she appeared for her nightly sleepwalk. Perhaps the director (Geoffrey Hyland) was trying to make some comment on third-trimester abortion. The portly actress playing Lady Macduff also doubled as a Messenger and as the drunken Porter, playing the one with uncontrollable giggles, and the other with such determined scatalogy (wiggling her behind, bouncing her boobs, squatting on stage to urinate) that one didn't mind when her Lady Macduff was taken off either, pregnant or not."

I also found some interesting background material on the possible influences of the Gunpowder Plot on Shakespeare's script, which was written contemporaneously. Greenman suggested this to me a while back, and it's a fascinating topic.

The basics:
On the night of November 4, 1605, an important discovery was made in London: thirty-six barrels of highly explosive gunpowder, ready to blow a hole in the earth, were discovered directly below the House of Parliament in Westminster. Had the authorities not foiled this attempt, Parliament would have been destroyed, killing the members of Parliament as well as King James I of England (whose reign had only begun in 1603), and sending the English government into shambles. . . . One of the men behind this conspiracy was Guy Fawkes, a Roman Catholic who was motivated by England’s prohibition of the Catholic faith. . . . The trial to prosecute Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators was led by Sir Edward Coke, the Attorney General prosecuting for James I. Guy Fawkes was convicted in January, 1606 and all of the fellow conspirators were convicted and executed by March, 1606.
(My note: the text being reviewed apparently likens this to the discovery at the height of the cold war that a group of terrorists almost succeeded in planting a nuclear bomb in Washington, to wipe out all three branches of government simultaneously. However, I'm wondering if the play might resonate more interestingly now if one could pull in the 9/11 analogy instead . . . I'm going to throw it out there for somebody else's mind, though, I'm no director.)

Some common themes in the Plot and the play:
The fact that the conspirators were Catholic linked them in the popular imagination with Jesuits. And the Jesuits themselves were often connected to witchcraft. Henry Garnet's A Treatise on Equivocation was found in the possession of one of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. This treatise, which was intended to address the question of how Catholics should answer authority if questioned upon their religion, lent itself to the usual claim that Jesuits were trying to "to lie like truth". The equivalence of opposites (fair is foul and foul is fair), double-dealing, deception, and of course "equivocation" itself figures prominently not only in Macbeth but in the other Gunpowder Plays as well.

The influences of the Treatise on Equivocation issue are straightforward and permeate the script:
I care not if thou dost for me as much.-
I pall in resolution, and begin
To doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth: "Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane;" and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane…

I was a little more leery of the catholic/witchcraft connection, in light of the fact that James I was apparently the direct decendant of Fleance. So if the witches are equated with Catholics - equivocators who seek to wreak havoc on the natural order of the world and bring about the murder of two kings (Duncan, then MacBeth) - does that portrayal obviate the positive image of James as the prophecied king from the line of Banquo? I mean, the theater was utterly sponsored by the regency. So you produced plays (a la Richard III) that portrayed the current ruling power as "destined" to rule, having a glorious history. To put on a play in which a king is murdered, particularly right after the Gunpowder Plot, must have been a tad controversial. With James' known fascination with witches and Catholics, would he have seen the play as a portrayal of his family as destined to rule, or predicted to rule by the same lying witches(Catholics?) that were trying to kill him personally?

I need to dig a bit more into that one. But it's a fascinating play, with interesting interpretations.

On the other hand it was also amusing to see the inept attempts to summarize the text that pass themselves off on the web:
Act IV, Scene 2 (Fife, Macduff's Castle)
Lady Macduff is wondering why her husband left. She thinks he was mad, looking like a traitor, loveless and cowardly to leave his family and possessions. Ross tries to comfort her, telling her he knows what is wrong at the moment. People don't know they are traitors, when they know fear. Ross leaves and says he will be back. Lady Macduff has an interesting conversation with her son Sirrah about what they will do without a father. The messenger tells her to leave, that she is in danger. But Lady Macduff doesn't know where to go, and she has done no wrong. As she realizes that doing good is sometimes a bad thing, the murderers arrive. The murderers kill the Son, but Lady Macduff escapes.

WTF?!?!?!? They actually slapped a copyright on that, too. Go figure.

A side thought:

I wonder how far back the tradition of Lady MacBeth having red hair goes? She serves as a stereotypical warning against women seeking to be too strong or powerful (read: masculine). Given the play was written only a few years after Elizabeth I's death, could a bit of "ding, dong the witch is dead" be extrapolated from the text?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Light Blogging

It's a difficult week to begin with, and there's been a few disappointing developments on a related front. I may be hit and miss for a while.

Oh, and supposedly my emotional biorhythm is at +100% today.

So much for new age crap.

Old Links

Why? Just . . . why?

An Open Letter to My First Five Girlfriends

New Scientist: hormone levels predict attractiveness of women. So those menopause cures are now beauty aids? Maybe not so much: "A further study by Law Smith's group found that when women wore make-up the correlation between perceived attraction and oestrogen levels was completely masked, because make-up improved appearance."

Too funny. Really.


Beer makes your brain grow! And like beer! (Is it just me, or does that make beer sound vaguely like a parasite?)

Science at its finest:
The ultimate Jell-O shot.

Although the proportion of alcohol to be added to Jell-O shots is partly a matter of taste, the typical Jell-O shot recipe greatly underestimates the amount of alcohol that can be added to Jell-O while still maintaining the gelatin’s setting properties. As long as a minimum amount of boiling water is used to completely dissolve the gelatin powder (4 oz. boiling water per 3 oz. package Jell-O), an amount of 80 proof alcohol up to 19 oz. can be added and the Jell-O will still gel. With sugar-free Jell-O, the minimum amount of boiling water necessary is 3 oz., and up to 24 oz. of 80 proof alcohol can be added and the Jell-O will still gel.

I label this "Science at it's Finest," but then I notice they have another experiment up: How many condoms can you wear at once? (Again . . . why????????????) At least it contains the obligatory frat boy warning label: Again, we repeat, do not attempt this experiment with an actual penis -- severe injury may result.)

And a collecective groan of disappointment goes up from men everywhere.

A Dutch designer has come up with an ingenious way to help goofy, bra-shopping men accurately report on their significant others' boob-size -- by giving them a wall of variously-sized boobs to squeeze until they find a pair that seems about right.

A Superior Court judge must decide whether to believe a 21-year-old accused who says he could not have committed a sexual assault because his penis is too big. If I were the prosecutor, I'd be so tempted to call all his ex-girlfriends in rebuttal. . . .

Via the other Kris: a freaking cool beer ad.

The President's speechalist:
"You have to understand one thing about the American people. They are not interested in a politician that speaks smoothly or insists on using 'real words.'"

Iowa Voice blogs on Fossil Sex:
Fossils Copulating for 65 Million Years

A condom patent fight. With diagrams. (Okay, I guess that's vaguely educational. For some. Not that I'm naming names or anything.)

An mp3 breast implant which will allow surgically-enhanced girls to store and play back their entire music collections from their 36DD assets. "Hey, babe, I'm just trying to turn up the volume. . . . "

I have a clue for these guys: a prostitute's cheaper. And significantly less creepy. That's saying a lot.

Police officers going above and beyond the call of duty to bust a massage parlor. OMG.

Kansas judge removed for viewing internet porn on the courthouse computer. Again: what the hell were you thinking?

"Save My Ass is a personal assistant that helps you make your girlfriend or wife happy by sending her flowers on your behalf, on a regular but semi-random basis." *Sigh* Some guys just don't get it, do they? Well, it could work if your girlfriend or wife isn't tech savvy, I suppose.

The makers of Wonderbra have accused rival lingerie makers of sexism for using semi-naked women in their ads.

Scientists win awards for measuring the pressure inside a penguin about to defecate, and for developing artificial, esteem-boosting testicles for dogs.

Blawg Review #29

Some highlights:

Your color printer turns government snitch.

The tort implications of Peanuts.

Theater Babbling

To balance the record, I should point out that while Rob Cline of the Press-Citizen thought my Chelsea bit in On Golden Pond was "compellingly" delivered, and pretty much liked the play at dress rehearsal, Ruby Nancy of the Quad City Times hated it and thinks I basically suck at this whole acting thing. On the other hand, Bob from One of Many liked it just fine, as did her grandmother.

Reminds me of a paper I workshopped in an upper-level fiction writing course at the University of Iowa. I was feeling particularly silly that day, and whipped out a Monty-Python-meets-Douglas-Adams type of story involving corporate spies from Russia trying to steal the secret plans for a machine to revolutionize the art of precision paperclip configuration. As I recall, it also involved several toasters and a siamese cat. Nothing brilliant, way too derivative, but decently written for undergrad, and I had a good time doing it.

Three responses are seared into my brain. The first was an intellectual analysis, using the toasters as a metaphor for the excesses of the bourgeoisie. Fortunately, he also saw some humor. I did start to worry about him for a second. The second was from a sorority type who said I made her laugh so hard she peed her pants in the library. The third was a scathing denunciation of the story as juvenile and basically assinine, with a suggestion I return to high school if I wanted to write such drivel. It was written in blue ink, but had a P.S. penciled in the bottom margin of the last page. In it, the guy noted that everyone else thought it was pretty funny, and in retrospect, he probably took it too seriously. I kept those three for the longest time, to remind myself how to take critiques, reviews, and criticism in general.

Last night, we had the entire OGP set struck before 10:00. I even brought my own power tools, which really scared some of the guys. So tonight I start focusing on that Scottish play with the Moongarden Acting Company in Iowa City.

We open when?

I'm Worthless

according to this website, anyway.

Dweeze, on the other hand, is worth $14,678.04. I guess I'd better hit him up for a loan.

Drew checked out a bunch of other Iowa blogs.

Fresh Law

The Iowa Supreme Court has two new opinions up.

Connor v. Menard's deals with the legal concept of res ipsa loquitir ("the thing speaks for itself"):
If “there is no direct evidence to show cause of injury, and the circumstantial evidence indicates that the negligence of the defendant is the most plausible explanation for the injury,” res ipsa loquitur applies.

The example I always used to keep it straight: someone wakes up from surgery with a sponge inside them, or the wrong limb amputated or something. No one can say who left the sponge or chose the wrong limb to amputate, so the Plaintiff can't directly prove negligence. But the nature of the injury itself indicates the negligence, so through the doctrine of Res Ipsa, it can be found despite no actual direct evidence that the negligence occurred.

The concept is hard for defendants because it basically negates the necessity of proving that the defendant was in some way negligent. However, it was created to balance an unfairness to plaintiffs that can be created when there is no direct proof of negligence possible but it's pretty damn obvious it occurred (as in my example). The Iowa courts are fairly tight on when it is properly used:
[T]he doctrine does not apply if the instrumentality of injury is under the sequential, as opposed to the simultaneous, control of more than one defendant. Also, control must be established in the defendant at the time of the negligent act, which is not necessarily the time of injury. Notably, as pertinent to this case, the doctrine does not apply when there is direct evidence as to the precise cause of the injury and all of the facts and circumstances attending the occurrence.

The facts of this case are as follows:
On July 13, 1999, Brandy and her husband, Jody, bought some home insulation from Menard and drove to the rear of the store to load it into their pickup. A . . . Menard employee asked the Conners to put down the tailgate and open up the topper on their pickup so the insulation could be loaded. . . . The plaintiff’s husband, who witnessed the incident, testified that a Menard employee tried to pull insulation from the bottom of the pile. When this did not work, the employee (and possibly two employees) climbed up the side of a divider fifteen- to eighteen-feet tall. The husband testified that a bundle of insulation fell on the plaintiff, and in fact, he believed several fell. At least one employee was at the top of the pile at the time the insulation fell. A Menard employee testified that either he or a coemployee knocked the insulation loose.

The fighting issue is whether the district court should've allowed the plaintiff to put both the res ipsa and general negligence to the jury:
Menard challenged the district court’s instruction on res ipsa on the ground that such an instruction was improper in view of the detailed evidence in the record regarding the specific cause of the accident. The plaintiff responded that this case fits into the category of cases in which both general and specific allegations of negligence may be submitted because the evidence of specific acts of negligence was not so clear as to preclude application of res ipsa. She points to testimony by a Menard employee that leaves some doubt about which of Menard’s employees was responsible for the insulation falling.

The Court noted that the case is rather similar to a textbook res ipsa claim:
The facts of this case are reminiscent of law school and the famous case of Byrne v. Boadle, (1863) 2 H & C 722, 159 Eng. Rep. 299 (Exch.), in which a flour barrel rolled out of an upstairs window and struck the plaintiff. In that case, the court stated:

[H]ere the evidence before the court was[] that the plaintiff and his wife were passing along the Scotland Road, in Liverpool, and when they were [close] against the defendant’s warehouse, the whole of which was in his occupation, used by him as a flour dealer, there came down suddenly upon the man a barrel of flour, and thus the accident occurred to the plaintiff of which he complained. This is one of those cases in which . . . a presumption of negligence by defendant is raised, and it was for him, who had all the means of evidence and knowledge within his reach, to meet it. It having been shown that the defendant had the entire possession and exclusive use of this warehouse, it would be presumed that the accident arose from his want of care, unless he gave some explanation of the cause by which it was produced, which explanation the plaintiff could not be expected to give, not having the same means of knowledge.

However, it distinguished the case based on the evolution of the doctrine under Iowa law:
The court in Byrne applied the res ipsa inference despite the fact it was clear that somebody in the owner’s employ was responsible for the barrel’s falling. This, according to the Byrne court, coupled with the defendant’s control of the premises, was sufficient to establish the inference. We do not propose that result here because it does not matter which of Menard’s employees caused the insulation to fall; it is sufficient that one of its employees was responsible and that the employer would be liable under principles of respondeat superior. Under our general rule, as discussed above, direct evidence of the essential elements of the claim precludes the res ipsa inference.

The plaintiff asked the Court to find that even if res ipsa was inapplicable, including it into the instructions was harmless error:
The plaintiff seeks to avoid the application of this general rule by contending that submitting res ipsa together with direct evidence of the details of the incident is merely harmless error. In other words, if there is enough direct evidence to support the finding of specific negligence, why worry about adding a res ipsa instruction?

The Court was disinclined to do so:
We reject Brandy’s harmless-error argument because, in a case like this, in which evidence of the “precise cause” of the injury is clear enough that a reasonable fact finder could find negligence but might choose not to, the addition of a res ipsa alternative is prejudicial. If the jury, on finding insufficient evidence of specific acts of negligence, were able to fall back on a res ipsa theory, this would in fact give the plaintiff two bites of the apple. In this case, we do not know the basis on which the jury assessed fault. The verdict simply found the plaintiff and defendant “at fault” twenty percent and eighty percent, respectively.

We agree with the court of appeals that the case must be remanded for a new trial.

The other case was an attorney discipline action, suspending his license for a year based on failing to file claims in time to prevent the statute of limitations from running out.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Result v. Process

Concurring Opinions has a post up on some of the groundbreaking decisions of the past century that could be considered more result-oriented than process/analysis-oriented. Associated primarily with Roe v. Wade, these cases have brought an end to segregation, prohibited government bugging of private homes without a warrant, ensured we're informed of our rights when arrested of a criminal charge, and allowed us access to birth control (which was actually banned), and so forth. The debate still rages, however, whether judges should be allowed to search the caselaw, statutes and the constitution for support of a desired result (result-based), or be required to reach whatever result ensues from applying precedent, even if it's blatantly wrong or unjust, and let the legislature sort it out. To take things to some extreme (most people fall somewhere into the spectrum, not at the far ends of it, strict constructionists are primarily concerned with fairness in process - it's what's predictable and required by the past, and it wouldn't be fair to change the rules for you. So sorry if everyone agrees it's a travesty of justice. Justice ain't really the point. On the other hand, the result-based thinkers seem to be unbothered by the fact that a "penumbra" of privacy in the Constitution can basically be stretched to encompass a huge amount of "rights" that would have horrified not only the original framers, but people of our parent's generation. And while it's primarily associated with "liberal" causes, remember it can go many ways on the political spectrum - remember the "freedom from" in A Handmaid's Tale?

Personally, for what it's worth, I'm in the middle. (I guess I'm not planning on getting to the Supreme Court anytime in the future, since I'm willing to disclose this). I'm okay with result-oriented rulings, so long as they have adequate support in the text of the constitution/law/precedent. But I want you to find it in the text. Not extrapolate from a mishmash of concepts underpinning the text, at least in your opinion.

Anyway, the post presents an interesting question: how would the issues have been resolved from a process-based analysis?

Legislating from the Bench

Concurring Opinions has a post up on some of the groundbreaking decisions of the past century that could be considered more result-oriented than process/analysis-oriented. Associated primarily with Roe v. Wade, these cases have brought an end to segregation, prohibited government bugging of private homes without a warrant, ensured we're informed of our rights when arrested of a criminal charge, and allowed us access to birth control (which was actually banned), and so forth. The debate still rages, however, whether judges should be allowed to search the caselaw, statutes and the constitution for support of a desired result (result-based), or be required to reach whatever result ensues from applying precedent, even if it's blatantly wrong or unjust, and let the legislature sort it out. To take things to some extreme (most people fall somewhere into the spectrum, not at the far ends of it, strict constructionists are primarily concerned with fairness in process - it's what's predictable and required by the past, and it wouldn't be fair to change the rules for you. So sorry if everyone agrees it's a travesty of justice. Justice ain't really the point. On the other hand, the result-based thinkers seem to be unbothered by the fact that a "penumbra" of privacy in the Constitution can basically be stretched to encompass a huge amount of "rights" that would have horrified not only the original framers, but people of our parent's generation. And while it's primarily associated with "liberal" causes, remember it can go many ways on the political spectrum - remember the "freedom from" in A Handmaid's Tale?

Personally, for what it's worth, I'm in the middle. (I guess I'm not planning on getting to the Supreme Court anytime in the future, since I'm willing to disclose this). I'm okay with result-oriented rulings, so long as they have adequate support in the text of the constitution/law/precedent. But I want you to find it in the text. Not extrapolate from a mishmash of concepts underpinning the text, at least in your opinion.

Anyway, the post presents an interesting question: how would the issues have been resolved from a process-based analysis?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

From Australia:

A new twist, allegedly backed up by real research.

Men who cannot have sex are as much at risk of having a heart attack as smokers and diabetics.

Oh Good Lord

I can hear this being clipped and stored by men all over the world:

Men who cannot have sex are as much at risk of having a heart attack as smokers and diabetics.

Another Quiz

You fit in with:

Your ideals mostly resemble those of the Taoist faith. Spirituality is the most important thing in your life. You strive to live by all of your ideals, and live a very intellectually focused life.

40% spiritual.
0% reason-oriented.

Take this quiz at

Hmm. So apparently while I'm rather spiritual, I have neither faith nor reason. Oookaaaay.

You fit in with:

Your ideals mostly resemble those of the Taoist faith. Spirituality is the most important thing in your life. You strive to live by all of your ideals, and live a very intellectually focused life.

40% spiritual.
0% reason-oriented.

Take this quiz at

Not So Much

Got this email:

From: "mike gallagher"
Subject: gallagher's gals
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2005 04:48:16 -0700

you could definitely be one. your hedda gabler pictures are quite beautiful

Mr. Gallagher, may I introduce you to the correlating concepts of irony and sarcasm?

Oh, and capitalization. Not so much related to the irony and sarcasm, but a good idea to know about.

I'll keep your offer in mind, though, if I ever get tired of this whole attorney thing.


I've always wanted to be referred to as one of the "gals."

(My post on the subject here: the guy uses prom-dress clad legal assistants to promote his divorce practice, and is the subject of such scintillating reads as: "She's Not Your Friend - A Man's Guide To Understanding Women." He apparently also thinks he can charge you $25 or $50 to provide an answer to a legal question and still not create an attorney-client relationship, simply by using a disclaimer.

(Note: yes, I did delete the email address, it would be kind of rude to post it online without notice.)

Lunchtime Theater Blogging

Don't forget to come see On Golden Pond this weekend:

On Golden Pond

By Ernest Thompson

Directed By Jason Hedden

The heartwarming and hilarious celebration of everyday struggles and ultimate triumphs of life, love, and family as 3 generations try to bridge the gaps.

Performed at the Exhibit Hall on the Johnson County 4H Fairgrounds

October 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

For tickets, contact the ICCT box office at (319) 338-0443.

And Macbeth opens the next weekend:

directed by Michael Sokoloff

Abraham Peterka as Macbeth
Paula Grady as Lady Macbeth

October 28, 29 & November 4, 5
at the Iowa City Community Theatre building.

Curtain 8pm

Random Legally-Related Snippets

You can help Harriet Miers get ready by sending her your Con Law study guides, outlines, casebooks, or old exams.
Seems to have been created by Jeremy Blachman.
Law Teaching Interview Advice.

The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–20001. Professor Yin posts on which he's read:

#5 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
#7 Harry Potter series
#13 The Catcher in the Rye
#22 A Wrinkle in Time
#41 To Kill a Mockingbird
#47 Flowers for Algernon
#52 Brave New World
#69 Slaughter-House Five
#70 Lord of the Flies
#84 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Here's my count, sans rankings:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Blubber by Judy Blume
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Deenie by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Cujo by Stephen King
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Carrie by Stephen King
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

One question: challenged by whom and on what grounds and for what grade level? I somehow can't picture kindergarteners doing Slaughterhouse Five, so I suppose I'd complain if the kindergarten teacher assigned it, and I owned one of those kindergarten-types. Is there some standard of "unreasonably challenged" or does every parental complaint about a book rack up a point?

Daniel Drezner on blogging and tenure.

The Roberts court just allowed a Missouri inmate to obtain an abortion, if she wants one and can pay for it:
This was the first abortion controversy at the Supreme Court in which Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., participated. Although there were no recorded dissents from the order denying the stay request of Missouri officials, that did not necessarily mean that all nine Justices had voted in favor of the order. The actual vote was not disclosed. Had Roberts not participated, that would have been noted, under the Court's usual practice.

Blawg Review #28

Tuesday Quiz courtesy of Salieri

Gen. Sani Abacha
You scored -3 Ego and -1 Ideology!
Gen. Sani Abacha (1943-1998) held no political position before he participated in the overthrow of Nigerian president Shedu Shagari in 1983. He served in various important military positions under various dictators until 1993, when he overthrew a short-lived civilian government to become President. He rarely made public appearances, hiding behind his bodyguards while imprisoning opponents and embezzling oil money until his sudden death in 1998. Like Abacha, you're not much for public appearances. Let somebody else jail the dissidents and build a police state. You'll be busy stuffing cash into your pockets. And for years after you die, gullible foreigners will fly to your country, hoping for a piece of the action, only to be swindled by someone claiming to be your widow.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 8% on Ego
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 25% on Ideology
Link: The Which Evil Dictator Are You? Test written by echopapa on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Theater Blogging

Don't forget to come see On Golden Pond this weekend:

On Golden Pond

By Ernest Thompson

Directed By Jason Hedden

The heartwarming and hilarious celebration of everyday struggles and ultimate triumphs of life, love, and family as 3 generations try to bridge the gaps.

Performed at the Exhibit Hall on the Johnson County 4H Fairgrounds

October 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

For tickets, contact the ICCT box office at (319) 338-0443.

And Macbeth opens the next weekend:

directed by Michael Sokoloff

Abraham Peterka as Macbeth
Paula Grady as Lady Macbeth

October 28, 29 & November 4, 5
at the Iowa City Community Theatre building.

Curtain 8pm


Peeping Toms use satellites to pander porn. See, I can still remember how to write a headline.

News flash: men want sex in the shower. They needed a study to tell them that???

Nerd folksinger covers "Baby Got Back." Still didn't get any.

How to make a secret bookshelf door. Okay, it has nothing to do with sex, but it's cool, okay?

Sex Offender Registry Legality

We don't have far to go to guess the legislative intent behind the sex offender registry laws:
It's all left the offender lobby wringing its hands and wondering: Where are these people going to live? Soon there won't be any place for them in Iowa.

Exactly. Get them out of here. Their crimes are so heinous and so twisted that Iowans are deciding these people are unfit to live among the rest of us. . . .

There is one good place more sex offenders could live.


That should help in deciding constitutionality.

Monday, October 17, 2005

See What I Mean?

Fitz-Hume issues a warning to an internet stalker-type. My last one I did something similar, only via email reply cc'd to attorney-type witnesses, which indicated (among other things) that my reply constituted notice that the actions engaged in served to place me in reasonable fear, and I'd presume any continued contact carried an intent to do the same (a requirement under Iowa's stalking statute).

There are some scary nutjobs out there.

Political Connections for Iowa Geek?

Doug is running for State senate!!!!

Ebay Auction of the Week

They are size 34x34. I am no longer size 34x34, so even were I to suddenly decide I was a famous gay biker I would not be able to wear these pants. These pants are destined for someone else. For reasons unknown - perhaps to keep my options open, in case I wanted to become a pirate - I have shuffled these unworn pants from house to house, closet to closet. Alas, it is now time to part ways so that I may use the extra room for any rhinestone-studded jeans I may purchase in the future.

I've got to go clean the coffee off my monitor. . . .

Be sure to read the comments.

via Dweeze

Legal Stuff

The Iowa Supreme Court has a couple of family law opinions up:

Markey v. Carney discusses child support issues:
Plaintiff and defendant were old friends, who had a one-night-stand just before the plaintiff's divorce came through. This resulted in a child, who the defendant's family recognized as his, but the defendant would never admit to. Eventually the relationship between plaintiff and defendant's family also became strained and disippated. Plaintiff had tried looking into making the defendant pay child support soon after birth, but the Department of Human Services felt it was a useless case because Iowa law would presume her ex-husband to be the father, as they were still legally married at the time of conception. Other attorneys required substantial sums of money to bring the suit. Eventually, plaintiff worked her way up to a job making approximately $31K per year, and had prepaid legal benefits. This was up from the average $18K per year she'd been making. Meantime, Defendant married and had a child, and was making about $25K per year in base salary, plus some extra from commissions - an extra $4584 in one year. This was down from his prior salary of $50K in another position.

Once she had prepaid legal, Plaintiff filed suit. A paternity test proved the child was Defendants, and following a trial on February 28, 2004, the court entered an order establishing Defendant as the father, granting custody to the mother, setting monthly child support at $425, entering a judgment against Defendant for $21,000 in back child support, and deciding who had to cover such miscellanea as medical expenses and attorney fees. Some basics of the ruling:

1) If extra income is uncertain or speculative, or if it is an anomaly, it is excluded. If it is reasonably expected to be received, then it should be included in gross monthly income by averaging the extra income over a reasonable period of time so the amount included fairly reflects the amount that will be received. The same approach applies to extra income in the form of commissions. Once evidence of extra income has been introduced, the burden is on the recipient of the income to establish that it should be excluded from gross income as uncertain and speculative. The order requiring support based on Defendant's income with commissions included stands.

2) Because of the six-year delay, Defendant claimed she was barred by either waiver, estoppel, or laches.

Equitable estoppel is a common-law affirmative defense “preventing one party who has made certain representations from taking unfair advantage of another when the party making the representations changes its position to the prejudice of the party who relied upon the representations.”

Estoppel by acquiescence “is applicable ‘where a person knows or ought to know that he is entitled to enforce his right or to impeach a transaction, and neglects to do so for such a length of time as would imply that he intended to waive or abandon his right’” Although this doctrine bears an ‘estoppel’ label, it is, in reality, a waiver theory.

Laches is an equitable doctrine premised on unreasonable delay in asserting a right, which causes disadvantage or prejudice to another.

Under these circumstances, the Court found there was no evidence of a false representation or concealment of material facts sufficient to bar her claim based on either estoppel or waiver. It looked at estoppel by acquiescence, and found the facts lacked some kind of affirmative act inconsistent with the intention to collect child support, which it needed in order to imply the obligee parent intended to waive the right to child support. Finally, it found her delay in filing suit was not unreasonable enough to fit the requirements of the laches doctrine.

3) Amount of back support awarded: $21K is a lot of money, particularly when you have to pay it out on top of $424 per month in current support. But the Court said this:
"it is also important to recognize that Joseph knew Kristy was confident that he was the biological father of Dylan. Instead of taking action to determine paternity before getting married and having a child, Joseph essentially ignored the situation. . . .

We think the disposition reached by the trial court was proper under all the circumstances. Upon our review of all the circumstances, we find the amount of support determined by the trial court fairly considers the financial burden of paying past child support in conjunction with a current support obligation, while serving to maintain the fundamental and basic obligation of a parent to support a minor child."

The Court also awarded her the out-of-pocket expenses in filing suit.

The other decision was a rather fact-specific opinion regarding whether a change in custody and order to the county attorney to file termination was in the child's best interests under the law. Short answer: An order directing the State to file a petition to terminate parental rights is not a final judgment appealable as a matter of right. An interloqutory appeal was also not appropriate:
"T.R.’s placement should be fixed, and reviewing a final, rather than an interlocutory, order is a better use of judicial resources. In addition, once the proceedings have terminated, a reviewing court will have a complete record in the event of an appeal. As in Denly, we think the order changing custody will not materially affect the final decision and a determination of the order’s correctness before trial on the merits will not better serve the interests of justice."

Theater Babbling IV - OGP Version

Well, we got the results in: ’On Golden Pond’ a pleasant production . Fair enough, I agree with most of it.

1) The scene changes were god-awful. Jason thinks he could've put on an entire other play during them. Shakespeare, even. Exit, stage left. I've been drafted to be a dresser to try to cut the time down. I'm now the clothes nazi of Act I, scene III: "Don't unbutton that! Pull it over your head! I've already got your shoes untied, just kick them off! Don't go around to get back onstage, go through the door you just came in." It worked, except the night the actor forgot to come out the correct door and ended up going upstairs instead. (*Sigh.*) I also do one of the entrance knocks for another actor, and run the switch for the car lights on my own entrance. Fortunately, I was smart enough to all but eliminate costume changes for myself: I just whip off one shirt and have the other one on beneath, add a wedding ring, and presto! Same capris, same tennies. Even though I have the entire intermission to effect the change, I'd rather not deal with anything more than I have to.

2) There were still rough patches. My favorite flubs/etc. to date:

Actual lines:
Norman: "Bullshit. You like that word."
Billy: "Oh, yes."

New lines:
Norman: "Do you like candy?"
Billy: "Yep. And I also like the word 'bullshit.'"

Actual lines:
Unknown. I've no idea where they were and how they got off track, but Ethel and Norman were totally stuck and a dead silence was ticking away.

New lines:
Ethel: "I think I'll go in here a moment."
(Exits through kitchen, leaving Norman sitting on stage with his little newspaper. I've never seen the act of completely ditching someone done quite that smoothly before. Fortunately, she was able to compose herself and go back on.)

3) Friday, the light board blew. Yep. Marta couldn't get it to stop cycling off, so she had to put the lights into one mode and keep them there. No dimming when we walk on and off stage, no spots, nada. I felt like an idiot just freezing there, then walking off. Had the biggest urge to do a dramatic "Aaaand. . . scene." It worked on Saturday, but they really, really need to get a new one. C'mon guys, this happened before, during Father of the Bride. You've known for a year you need a new light board.

Eve-Olution got a write-up, too. Of course, Madonna and Annette are awesome, as always. Sorry I didn't get there, guys, I was just feeling too exhausted after Friday's debacle.