A sober word from a writer who has offered many insights aver the years, but who is now withdrawing from writing life:
- [T]here is a time for every season under heaven, and I believe I’ve entered a new time and season of my life. I’ve drawn inspiration, as you might imagine, from many public figures in the past (from kings to local town officials), who decided to spend their last years in a monastery, simply learning how to pray and love their fellow monks. I like to think that I’m doing that sort of thing as my life circumstances allow. Naturally, I seek your prayers in these new endeavors.
Mark Galli, “The Omega Edition,” Peripheral Vision (Nov. 4, 2022) [link].
Interesting article mainly about the affirmative action cases (Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina), but also about Chief Justice John Roberts’ ability to lead (or shape or influence) the Supreme Court — Joan Biskupic, “John Roberts shows he still has a grip on the Supreme Court,” CNN (Nov. 1, 2022) [link]:
- The chief justice repeated his enduring view that race should not matter, and he denounced admissions practices that consider students’ race or ethnicity for campus diversity. He suggested that if the court were to uphold the current policies at Harvard University and University of North Carolina, racial affirmative action would never end. “Your position is that race matters because it’s necessary for diversity, which is necessary for the sort of education you want,” he told North Carolina state solicitor general Ryan Park, who was defending the UNC program. “It’s not going to stop mattering at some particular point; you’re always going to have to look at race because you say race matters to give us the necessary diversity.”
For more on the legal arguments presented on October 31, see Amy Howe, “Affirmative action appears in jeopardy after marathon arguments,” SCOTUSblog (Oct. 31, 2022) [link].
I remember reading (in the ’80s) Stephen J. Gould on why there would never be another .400 hitter in baseball (“Complex systems improve when the best performers play by the same rules over extended periods of time. As systems improve, they equilibrate and variation decreases.”), and then Michael Lewis’ Moneyball (2003). Put this article in the same lineage: Derek Thompson, “What Moneyball-for-Everything Has Done to American Culture,” The Atlantic (Oct. 30, 2022) [link]:
- The analytics revolution, which began with the movement known as Moneyball, led to a series of offensive and defensive adjustments that were, let’s say, catastrophically successful. Seeking strikeouts, managers increased the number of pitchers per game and pushed up the average velocity and spin rate per pitcher. Hitters responded by increasing the launch angles of their swings, raising the odds of a home run, but making strikeouts more likely as well. These decisions were all legal, and more important, they were all correct from an analytical and strategic standpoint.
What makes this article a continuation of the arguments (rather than a recapitulation of the idea) is the suggestion that this endemic in our time. Plus, I like the phrase “catastrophically successful.”
The Trinity Forum put on a well-worth-your-time program with Rachael Denhollander. You can and should watch it if you have the slightest interest in thinking about the issues of power and abuse. It will make you think differently about how to deal with prevention of abuse and responding to reports. [link]
I’m sure that anyone who is interested is already aware of the punishments handed down to the Houston Astros by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. I would encourage the reading of the actual decision [20200113 STMT MLB Commissioner Manfred] (a very manageable 9 pages) for an understanding of what was found and some sense of why neither the owner nor the players involved were punished directly.*
*The cynic in me would point out (with many others) that the Commissioner “answers” to both the owners and the MLBPA and would be loathe to offend either group in the last days of labor peace, but the report suggests (correctly) that it would be tough to come up with carefully calibrated punishments for either group. The deterrent effect of these punishments should be significant, and indeed reports are that both Hinch and Luhnow have been fired by the Astros.
Alan Jacobs is doing something fun on Snakes and Ladders:
Unscoured (July 1) [link]
Chapter 43 (July 2) [link]
this sickness is not unto death (July 5) [link]
Sarah Willard had two nice posts last month “Shepherd My People” (June 17) [link], and “Here is your War” (June 6) [link], both (of course) at Blind Mule Blog.
Mockingbird always has a nice selection of thoughtful articles, essays and reviews, including “Just another Late Night in Washington (Review of movie Late Night)” (July 3) [link].
Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion in Box v. Planned Parenthood is a fascinating historical piece on eugenics and abortion. The opinion is available in full at the always well-curated SCOTUSblog (through casetext.com) [link] and is edited to look like a free-standing essay in First Things [link].
I attended a great event (at the Chester Bedell Inn of Court) last night with Simon Tam (@SimonTheTam) of The Slants (“The Band Who Must Not Be Named”)*, who described his odyssey to the Supreme Court** and why reclaiming an ethnic slur could be so critical to young Asian-Americans.
Excellent speaker, moving story, important take away.
**Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (2017) [link]; see page at SCOTUSblog [link].
I am also looking forward to reading his new book: Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court (2019). I’ll have a brief review up soon.
One of the nicer things about working at my law firm is hearing other attorneys talking about the former members of the firm, in this case the senior partner of the firm when I first arrived. Sometimes those old stories find their way into print, as in this recent example:
[After clerking for Judge David W. Dyer, I returned to the private sector, and was working for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where] I was working on a sensitive criminal case arising out of the Kennedy Space Center. Our client, a contractor on the space program, had been accused of defrauding the government. It looked like the case might go to a grand jury for possible criminal charges. I was in charge of the day-to-day investigation. Part of my duty was to prepare for Armageddon if, heaven forbid, the company was indicted. Continue reading A mentor
In 2018 I read an old book of miscellaneous addresses and essays by my favorite Canadian curmudgeon Robertson Davies called The Merry Heart (1998 [amazon]), and in previous years enjoyed similar compilations of material from Neil Gaiman (The View from the Cheap Seats, 2016 [amazon]); and Neal Stephenson (Some Remarks, 2012 [amazon]).
This year’s delight is certainly going to be Scalia Speaks (2017 [amazon]), a compilation of speeches by the late justice known for his staggering erudition, his biting wit, and his personal warmth. One of his sons (Christopher J. Scalia) and one of his former law clerks (Edward Whelen) have chosen and introduced a number of addresses given on many occasions. They are marvelous! Scalia’s good friend and fellow justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG herself) wrote the forward.
Here are a few tidbits:
Continue reading The Delightful Scalia
Two recent book reviews I have written:
Book Review: Kevin Davis, The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America’s Courtrooms (Penguin Press 2017) in The Champion (June 2018) [link].
Book Review: Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro, eds., Telling the Stories Right: Wendell Berry’s Imagination of Port William (Front Porch Republic 2018) in The Englewood Review of Books (Sept. 20, 2018) [link].
Always nice to get an interesting book for free, even if you need to do a little work for it.
Rachael Denhollander was interviewed by Christianity Today in the aftermath of her statement to the Court in the Nassar sentencing. (If you have not yet read “No True Grace Without Real Judgment” and her statement, please do that now.)
She talks bluntly about the tendency — which she feels is universal — for church leadership to protect the “the perceived reputation of the gospel of Christ” rather than the victims of sexual abuse, when the abuse occurs in the church. It is an uncomfortable indictment.
Here is her conclusion:
“[T]he gospel of Jesus Christ does not need your protection. It defies the gospel of Christ when we do not call out abuse and enable abuse in our own church. Jesus Christ does not need your protection; he needs your obedience. Obedience means that you pursue justice and you stand up for the oppressed and you stand up for the victimized, and you tell the truth about the evil of sexual assault and the evil of covering it up.
[And] that obedience costs. It means that you will have to speak out against your own community. It will cost to stand up for the oppressed, and it should. If we’re not speaking out when it costs, then it doesn’t matter to us enough.
As usual, I urge you to read the whole interview. Morgan Lee, “Interview with Rachael Denhollander,”* Christianity Today (Jan. 31, 2018) [link].
Ms. Denhollander has thought deeply, theologically, and prayerfully about these things.
*The actual title is “My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness.”
Rachael Denhollander to Larry Nassar:
“In our early hearings, you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.
You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.
* * *
Continue reading No true grace without real judgment