Like most spoiled suburbanites without anyone directly in harm's
way in any recent war, we're mostly just enjoying the three-day weekend, and
only occasionally hearing something on the radio, or
noticing a parade, or whatever.
I went off to The Mall and got the little daughter's pictures
from the weekend developed at the One Hour Photo place (she
was at an Orchestra Trip on Saturday and Sunday, which involved
mostly amusement parks and teen bonding and only slightly anything orchestral,
and she took lots of pictures).
I also got a pair of reading glasses (my first!) at the
One Hour Glasses place.
Ben Franklin, eat your heart out.
Great idea for an invention!
I wrote up
yet another book;
apologies to any ardent Stephen Donaldson fans in the audience.
Favorite search phrases from the recent referer log:
Avril Lavigne Nobody's Home (Instrumental Excerpt) lyrics
which is a favorite because, note, it seems to be asking for the
lyrics to an "instrumental excerpt", and
Judaism stuff about other stuff that has stuff about Judaism but also a
little bit about Judaism and the hats they all wear and stuff about jews
which I can't help but suspect was intentionally inserted into
the reflog just to amuse me, and
appendix (related to the Greek God Hermes) also somehow
related to pictures(i'm looking for the name of a website)
for the innocent assumption that the search engine
is intelligent enough to understand that, and finally
dreams languages liar liars smoke coffee loving depending wind
We're also looking for pictures:
Pictures of Iguanas
pictures of clitoris
pictures of iris chacon
pictures of naked women
Pictures of Anacondas eating
pictures of naked women -porn
Pictures of young girls sleeping
pictures of Halle Barry+Miss Teen
pictures of a jagged haircut
pictures of comedy and tragedy
pictures of dragonflies to paint
pictures of medieval doctors
pictures of naked ladies
pictures of naked ladies no sensors
pictures of naked princess Leia
pictures of nigerian women
pictures of nude mature women
pictures of the clitoris
pictures of chess boards
I like "no sensors".
Tired of all that Borg porn, I guess.
(I remember a Tom Swift, Jr. book a long time ago that annoyed
me because it was always talking about Tom picking up things
on his "censers". Imagining extremely scientific incense was
amusing the first couple of times, but really...)
Now That's Validation:
finding an entry in
Wikipedia about you (that you didn't write yourself).
Not tasty, unlike lemons, which tend to be sour.
got no rhythm.
Warning: Cheese monkeys can melt in hot cars.
And more extendedly:
Cheese monkeys. What the hell is that supposed to mean?
"Let's put two completely random words together! Oh, I'm
Tell it to Chip Kidd.
Although actually that was the log prompt that week because the little
boy started saying "cheese monkeys" constantly for no discernable reason,
and was most amused when I told him it was the name of an actual book.
I don't remember (if the novel even says) why the novel is called that.
Maybe something about melting in hot cars.
Ah mon ami, please don be coming on like zees. Are we not bruzzers?
Do we not all sirst for lucrative beelding contracts in the middle
east? And we adore le rock and roll, les gangsters, et bien sur
Jerry Lewis, Le Roi du Crazy. Ave peety.
I'd love to know (A) what fraction of the American people
were actually mad at France, and (B) what fraction of those
people still remember that they were, and why.
Ooh, lots and lots of stuff queued up to log, here.
I've been using del.icio.us,
although I'm still not positive what I'm going to use it
It occurs to me that I could use it as a tagging backend
for the log here, but first I want to ask the owner if
e minds someone having two different accounts (one for
normal uses, and one for the log-tagging stuff), since
that seems like the most logical way to do it.
(Another thing I could use it for is a web-resident queue of
things to log.
But I'm so used to this text file sitting here...)
We noticed del.icio.us again because someone
bookmarked our old
piece about CSS there.
Sort of ironic (although not about elves, ha ha ha!), given
that now we really are fully CSS-enabled (albeit
While wandering around del.icio.us, we find
that points to
How to be a
Programmer: A Short, Comprehensive, and Personal Summary, which looks
pretty clued (we should actually read it and see; but we're too
points us at this world-view
which is at least superficially more interesting than your
typical "which Teletubby are you?" quiz.
Turns out I'm a little of everything:
You scored as Idealist.
Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater.
An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves,
waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit
lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself
and all things will again become one.
Cultural Creative 69%
Well, not quite everything.
I'm not sure why I'm not very Romanticist or Modernist,
but Fundamentalist is no surprise...
I also wandered to
The So and So's, notable
at least partly because they have
lots of music online
I've only listened to a bit of it (omg, so much music, so many
words, so many pictures, help, help!), but it didn't suck at all.
Speaking of music, I did win the vinyl copy of Nancy Ames's "I Never Will
Marry" that I bid for on eBay
the other week,
and it did come, but before I got around
to do anything about ripping it Dad
found his vinyl copy (the very one that I grew up listening to) in his
house somewhere, and ripped it, and sent me the CD.
So now I have it!
It's so cool to hear those songs again.
I dunno if I would like the music so much if it didn't remind
me so overwhelmingly of my kidhood.
Probably / perhaps it would sound quaint and old-fashioned.
Because it seems to be entirely out of print, here's
an mp3 of I Never Will Marry
(I'll take it down if the copyright owner complains, or if
it turns out to be in print somewhere, or if it being here
hurts Extremis's bandwidth or anything.)
And for that matter here's
Elsa Lanchester doing
"When a Lady has a Piazza" (from "Songs for a Smoke-Filled Room").
Dad ripped half a dozen old vinyl records and mailed the CDs
up, and I haven't finished assimilating them all yet.
I loved "When a Lady has a Piazza" because I was savvy enough
to tell that it was probably naughty, but innocent enough that
I didn't actually know what the naughtiness was, so there
was this mysterious thrill to it.
Same for "If You Peek in my Gazebo":
If you peek in my gazebo,
As you are passing by,
You'll see a sight
That will delight
The most fastidious eye...
Actually that one I still don't actually
know what the naughtiness is.
But it sure sounds naughty!
(And it's especially surreal because it's being
sung by the voice of the Previous Nanny from Mary
I finished and wrote some
that audiobook about the Diamond Sutra.
It was very inneresting.
A relatively new book site called
Between the Pages
has picked up
of our reviews (after having asked politely, which was nice given that
the CC license on the reviews doesn't require them to).
Our having found plogress
the other day is thanks to
by the way.
And from plogress
I find my Senator well
(a) In General - Section 55(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986
(relating to alternative minimum tax imposed) is amended by adding
at the end the following new flush sentence:
'For purposes of this title, the tentative minimum tax on any
taxpayer other than a corporation for any taxable year beginning
after December 31, 2005, shall be zero.'.
The Alternative Minimum Tax seems like a good thing to get rid
of for various reasons (not only because for the first time this
year I had to pay it), although the fact that
so too does worry me.
Isn't the wording of the law great?
What's a "flush sentence"?
And why did they leave the tax in but set it to zero,
rather than removing all reference to it from the
tax code entirely?
Two bits of SCOTUS stuff here.
First, a rather yucchy decision in
Johanns v. Lifestock Marketing Association, finding that
it's okay for the government to tax certain businesses and
use the money in ways that (in the opinion of those
businesses) helps their competitors.
Today's decision is likely to be extremely significant for First
Amendment jurisprudence, as it signals that the government has a
free hand not only to communicate its own views without oversight
by the courts but also to require financial support for that
communication from a discrete segment of the population.
And see lots more discussion in other recent
decision of the court
tries to make it all sound very logical.
After all the government uses tax money to say all sorts of things
that not all taxpayers approve of:
"Compelled support of government" -- even those programs of government
one does not approve -- is of course perfectly constitutional, as every
taxpayer must attest. And some government programs involve, or entirely
consist of, advocating a position.
Citizens may challenge compelled support of private speech, but have no
First Amendment right not to fund government speech.
Even the dissent basically objected only because they thought
it was insufficiently obvious that the
speech involved was actually government speech:
No one hearing a commercial for Pepsi or Levi's thinks Uncle Sam is
the man talking behind the curtain. Why would a person reading a beef
ad think Uncle Sam was trying to make him eat more steak?
But basically the Supremes say that if we don't like the idea
of the government advertising beef we ought to talk to our
And they're probably right, more's the pity.
Saving the best for last,
has written us a thoughtful letter about Scalia:
Subject: Questions on connotationism and denotationism
Hi David -
I'm enjoying your discussions of denotationist and connotationist
interpretations of law. A few questions, unrelated to Justice Scalia's
interpretation of "originalism":
The connotationist interpretation implies that the contemporary meanings
of words, according to whomever is doing the interpretation, are always
preferable to the intentions of the original creators of the law. The
examples you've been discussing that support the connotationist
interpretation are all quite agreeable to contemporary ears: it's great
that "equal rights" applies to both genders and all races, even if that
wasn't the intent of the first congressman to utter the phrase. If it
doesn't apply to people with certain sexual preferences in the eyes of the
law today, one may hope that it will tomorrow. The connotationism
principle seems preferable if we assume that the meanings of laws can only
"improve" in this way, that the words used to define laws embody an
essence of meaning that persists through the evolution of the language and
the ideas described by the language.
Is there a danger that the meanings of laws may "degrade" in a similar
fashion? If a future society at large decides women are not "equal" when
it comes to the rights of people declared by law, does the connotationist
view accept or applaud that interpretation? Could this threaten the
defense of a minority provided by the law in this way?
I'd say there's a difference between changes in public opinion and changes
in language, and it is on this difference that we can rely for a sane
application of the scholarly interpretation of law. But it seems only due
to my faith in the long-term evolution of humanity-- that the slow
evoluation of language will always proceed toward truth and virtue,
despite the ebb and flow of short-term public opinion, and that the people
we entrust to interpret the law are capable of and willing to pursue
linguistic truth above public opinion-- that I can support the
connotationist interpretation of law.
All interpretation is culturally relativistic, and I'd say an
interpretation relative to our own culture is likely to be preferable to
one relative to a culture of the past, if only for its accessibility.
The denotationist view implies that a sentence from the context of one
culture is inherently corrupted when re-interpreted in the context of the
same culture at a later time, as if the two cultures spoke entirely
different languages. This isn't the case, and while I can imagine such
changes in meaning happening in the slow evolution of a culture, the
democratic process is faster and ought to be able to revise laws with
problematically antiquated language.
Related question: Is the denotationist view threatened by our limited
perspective on human history? Revisionism is not limited to the domain of
crackpots and ill-doers. Can the process of on-going historical
interpretation provide the same kind of stability as the connotationist
view hopes to find in pure linguistic interpretation?
Thanks much for the note, and the thoughts!
A couple of small points:
First, I don't think the connotationist is committed to saying that
contemporary meanings are always preferable, or that
the correct interpretation is up to the person doing the
It's more that the proper interpretation of words in the
Constitution (and, in a more realistic and moderate version
of connotationism, of certain of the words in the Constitution)
looks to their denotation today, rather than what was thought
to be their denotation on the day that they were adopted.
The connotation, on the other hand, generally stays
So "cruel and unusual punishment" means now, and meant then,
punishment that is cruel and unusual.
But exactly what constitutes punishment that
is cruel and unusual, what the denotation of
that concept is, has changed (or our opinion about it has
changed) in the interim.
It's not that each interpreter gets to choose his own
meaning; it's that each era gets to choose (by the
usual process of discussion and hermeneutics) that
And similarly the denotationist doesn't have to claim that
interpreting the words with their modern denotation is a
corruption; the position just says that it's the wrong
way to do Constitutional interpretation.
(I don't know why Scalia thinks that it's wrong; one of the
frustrating things about his overlooking the connotationist
position is that we don't get to hear why he thinks it's wrong.)
But now to your actual point.
I think the connotationist position is the right one on
the grounds of common sense and common practice, and on
a proper understanding of the role of the Constitution
in our system of laws.
I don't think that whether or not it's correct hinges
on whether or not it leads to better or more humane
or more agreeable-to-me interpretations over time;
that is, my belief in its correctness isn't primarily
a pragmatic one.
On the other hand, it's entirely possible that if I
thought connotationism would lead to worse results over
time, I would have thought of some excuse to prefer
denotationism; I make no claims to intellectual purity.
I think you're right that in general connotationism
does lead us to get better with time, because our
opinions get better with time.
We do learn and mature as a species.
(See "Idealist" way above up there.)
It's by no means a strictly monotonic progress,
though, and as you note there are ups and down.
So it's possible that the connotationist
method of interpretation will sometimes say that
the meaning of a piece of Constitution now involves
less freedom than it did when it was adopted, because
we've decided to narrow or otherwise fetter the
meanings of some words.
The connotationist view does allow the interpretation
to "degrade" in this sense.
That would be too bad, and it would indicate a
problem in society that progressives (small p)
should work on fixing.
But I don't think it would mean that the general
connotationist idea was wrong.
Connotationism says only that the meaning of the
Constitution mirrors the meanings that we give to
its words today.
If those meanings get worse rather than better in some
time period, we need to work on that problem; but we
don't need to abandon the mirror because we don't like the
image it's showing us.
(Ooooh, it's always fun to close with a
profundity, isn't it?)