Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Resolutions: A Recap

I just looked over my New Year's resolutions for last year. Amazingly, I actually did rather well. Of the 21 I listed, here's the break-down:

Met: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19

Failed: 13, 17, 20

Pick 'em: 4, 5, 8, 21

And, incredibly, though I haven't achieved #14 yet, I will before the year is out -- I have tickets to the Wild/Sharks game on New Year's eve.

***

Resolutions for the coming year:

1) Don't go crazy waiting for admissions decisions (I'm close to failing this one already)

2) Submit another article for publication in an academic journal

3) Get into law school

4) Get into grad school

5) Make new friends after graduation

6) Don't lose track of old friends after graduation

7) See a boxing match, live

8) Write something for a boxing website

9) Keep up blogging as I move to a new school

10) Watch more hockey

11) Finish more non-fiction

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fire Away

Earlier today, the co-chairman of "Veterans for Rudy in New Hampshire" made a rather impolitic remark on how Rudy was the guy who will "chase them [Muslims] back to their caves or in other words get rid of them."". Kind of indicative of the sort of fellow who supports Rudy Giuliani, but I figured that the story would take a predictable course: the speaker would backtrack, saying that he only meant "Islamofascists" or something of the like, Rudy would disavow him, and the guy would quickly decide to spend some more time with his family.

Instead, when contacted for a follow up, the man in question, John Deady, stood by his comments and expanded on them:
"I don't subscribe to the principle that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims," Deady told me by phone from his home in New Hampshire. "They're all Muslims."

Yikes! He did, however, clarify that when he said "get rid of them", he "wasn't necessarily (!) referring to genocide." Which is good, I suppose, though I'd rather he dropped the "necessarily" entirely. But nonetheless, this is absolutely extremist territory. What should Giuliani do about Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress? Should he be forced to take a Glenn Beck-style loyalty test? How about Israel's Muslim cabinet Minister -- does he need to be chased back into a cave?

Nobody is saying that this is Giuliani's actual beliefs, but given the flap over Clinton campaign surrogates saying the word Madrassa, shouldn't this be somewhat of a big deal? Thus far, the Giuliani campaign has no comment. If they don't have a comment within 24 hours along the lines of "we deplore these sentiments and totally disassociate ourselves from them", there better be some hard questioning going on about -- at the very least -- whom Giuliani feels comfortable associating with.

UPDATE: Mr. Deady has offered his resignation, and the Giuliani campaign has accepted.

Boxing Blogging: FNF Debut 12/28/07

Tonight was the first night of the upcoming season of Friday Night Fights. Teddy Atlas, in what must have pleased the ESPN network executives, warned us at the outset that it wasn't the best of cards to start the year, and he was right. I have to say that this was one of the toughest boxing events for me to watch. It was less because of the action and more because you really felt like you were seeing two guys' careers come to an end in ways they did not want to go.

Louis Sargeant (9-11-2, 2 KOs) RTD4 Darrell Woods (26-12, 18 KOs)

The card opened with Florida-based Darrell Woods fighting against a local pug named Louis Sargeant. Woods gained minor notoriety with his all-action win over then-undefeated Samuel Miller on a ESPN card last year; an early fight of the year candidate. It was a nice story -- a 40 year old guy, just using some veteran savvy and ring experience to get some nice wins (prior to the Miller win he had won three straight, including a good victory over Emmett Linton). In his next bout, he was blitzed in one round by Allan Green -- but lots of guys had been taken apart by someone as strong as Green. In this fight, against an opponent with a losing record, Woods was looking to bounce back -- or at least end his career on a note that wasn't a first round knockout.

Alas, it wasn't to be. Woods was put down in the first round by Sargeant (who, in addition to having won only 9 bouts, isn't exactly a power puncher -- one knockout coming into tonight's fight), and never really got his legs back. Physically, he didn't look steady, and mentally, he didn't seem confident. But he still had his pride, and when after four one-sided rounds the ref told him in the corner that he was stopping the bout, Woods looked near on the edge of tears, yelling "No, it's not over!" It was really difficult to watch -- particular because I still remember his Woods bout less than a year ago and because, even tonight you could still see flashes that made it clear that Woods was the far superior fighter. His body had just abandoned him.

Byron Tyson (9-0-1, 4 KOs) DQ4 Claudio Ortiz (6-15, 2 KOs)

This was the bright spot of the evening. The fight wasn't that good -- after getting hit with a low blow in the second round, Ortiz went into constant foul mode until he was finally disqualified in the 4th round for hitting behind the head. What made this fight my favorite was getting to watch Tyson, who really looked good. Sure, he was in against a tomato can. But he was very fast, punching sharp, in shape (coming off a two year layoff for shoulder surgery) and technically sound. Definitely the sort of guy I'd want to see again. He hasn't done enough to deserve any serious fight, but I'd like it if ESPN put him on a couple more swing bouts to give him more exposure.

Robert Hawkins (23-10, 7 KOs) UD10 Dominick Guinn (28-6-1, 19 KOs)

Very similar to the first fight, though not as extreme. Guinn is an extremely talented heavyweight who, after winning his first 24 fights, has let his career unravel. Like with Woods, it was clear watching the fight that he had far more natural talent than Hawkins. Unlike Woods, it wasn't Guinn's body that betrayed him. It's purely a mental block. He admitted before the fight that he was over-thinking in the ring and dwelling on the past, and it showed again tonight. Guinn did not let his hands go, he allowed himself to get smothered on the inside, and was just outworked by Hawkins. Guinn definitely has the talent and the natural ability to get somewhere in the heavyweight division, but he just can't seem to escape his own demons, and it's really unfortunate to watch.

Hawkins doesn't have the prettiest record, but all 10 of his losses have been to very strong opposition, and he owns some solid wins as well (former contenders Terry Smith and Guinn, gatekeepers Robert Wiggins, Kendrick Releford, and Melvin Foster, plus Gary Bell, James Ballard, Boris Powell, and John Poore, who I've never heard of but have if nothing else glossy records). Prior to this fight, he was handily defeating top heavyweight Vladimir Virchis in Germany before getting knocked down and -- he claims -- being victimized by a quick stoppage (this being Germany, I believe it -- refereeing and scoring is notoriously poor and biased over there). He's not going to make a run at any titles, but he's doing reasonably well for himself. I wouldn't say I enjoy watching him, because he's a defensive minded fighter who won this fight by smothering the taller Guinn all night, but give him credit -- he fought his fight, and won against a guy who was once considered an elite heavyweight. Kudos to him.

ESPN has some better name fighters coming up as the season progresses, including Allan Green, Edison Miranda, Jean Pascal, and Randall Bailey. Unfortunately, they're not fighting each other, but I've seen all of those guys in the ring before, and they're exciting no matter who they're in against. Hopefully it will be a better card than what we saw tonight.

Take It Off

David at Harry's Place is having a daughter, and is looking for name suggestions. Specifically, he wants a "rock n' roll" middle name. To which I said, is there any better choice than Donna?



My girlfriend suggested Avril. I pity her sometimes.

Lucy in the Sky

Spencer Ackerman has reopened his old blog to write about Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism". It's a very detailed and careful analysis. And at the end of the day, Ackerman remarks:

The real victim of this book isn't American liberalism. It's young Lucy Goldberg. Every child is endowed with the right to believe his or her father is the smartest man alive. To take that away is sheer brutality.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oh Minow

Martha Minow is a paradigmatic case of too much of a good thing.

I first stumbled across her by reading her 1991 book, Making All The Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law. I often tell people that the speed I read books is directly in relation to how much I'm enjoying it. Books I love speed along, books I loathe crawl. That's true up to a point, but if I really love a book, my pace comes crashing to a halt, because I need to stop and chew over particularly juicy bits, or copy down especially illuminating passages. And so, even though I consider MATD to be one of the best books I ever read, and even though I have four whole pages of quotations from the book copied onto my computer, and even with two library extensions, I never actually finished it. I just got it for a Chanukah present, so maybe I'll take another shot at it.

In addition to MATD, I also got another Minow book from 1997, this one called Not Only For Myself: Identity, Politics, and Law. Like MATD, this one is going slow because I'm loving it. It's making great arguments, and at the moment it's making great arguments switching from the 1st Century Jewish Rabbi Hillel to an episode of Star Trek within the space of a page. How cool is that?

But the Minow awesomeness extends beyond her work in identity politics. She literally seems to have a hand in everything cool. The collection of works by the late, great, Jewish legal theorist Robert Cover? She edited it. A primer to Feminist Legal Theory? Minow. Post-genocide reconciliation and reconstruction? She has three books on it. She even co-wrote an editorial criticizing US detention policy by comparing us to and advocating for the Israeli model. It's like if Samantha Power decided to expand beyond genocide and do everything awesome. It's almost too much to handle at once.

Anyway, if you ever have a chance ever to read anything by Minow, I can't recommend her highly enough. She truly is one of the most brilliant, and under-appreciated, legal minds out there in the United States today.

Jon Swift's Best of 2007

Jon Swift has collected a "best of 2007" round-up, with every blogger contributing their own favorite post of the year. I ended up choosing The Chronicle of Madison's Tomb: Why "Roe Rage" has Nothing To Do With Legal Theory". I want to thank everyone who gave their input on my list of finalists -- it was a good year of blogging, if I do say so myself.

But you should certainly check his list out -- there are some excellent posts up there, and Jon put a lot of work in putting it together.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Exchange Rate of Whiteness

I'm back from Colorado (with little, but not no, difficulty), and while on the plane I finished Emory History Professor Eric Goldstein's The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and the American Identity (Princeton UP, 2006) (I don't know which is worse -- that I originally started reading it in July of 2006 as part of a three book set, the goal seeing which I'd finish first -- or that it came in second). Anyway, delay notwithstanding, it was very, very good.

Goldstein examines the way Jews in American history (from about the post-Civil War era to after WWII, with an epilogue dealing with the present day) a) thought of Blacks, b) conceptualized themselves as a "race", and c) identified as White. It really covers a lot of ground, and aptly demonstrates the ambivalence and discomfort Jews had in being labeled as "White." On the one hand, they wanted to access privileges and status that Whiteness entailed (not the least of which is not being subjected to the vicious discrimination and violence that American Blacks faced as a matter of course). On the other hand, Jews worried that assimilating too much into Whiteness would threaten their own cultural distinctiveness. Moreover, the Jewish relationship with Whiteness was always tempered by their own ethical and historical commitment to Black Americans, whom they often saw as brother sufferers with experiences that mirrored their own oppression in Europe. Casting their lot with White America meant adopting the mantle of the very persecutors they fled from to the United States.

But after finishing the book, there was a further observation I had that I found very intriguing. The phenomena of groups "becoming" White (the Irish, Italians, Jews, etc.) is not at all unknown or novel. Most scholars of race, as far as I've seen, have associated this "Whitening" with a simultaneous divergence of the incorporated group's interests with those of Black Americans. Indeed, often times, enthusiastically buying into anti-Black discrimination was a way for groups to prove their Whiteness bona fides. The Irish, for example, were staunch supporters of Black equality in Ireland, but in the United States they rapidly became one of the most anti-Black groups in all the country. And as they became more firmly entrenched as White, the formerly distinct groups adopted the interests of their new racial category and -- generally speaking -- effectively ceased to care about the plight or standing of African-Americans.

But Goldstein's book seems to demonstrate that Jews didn't quite fit this pattern. In fact, the "Whiter" Jews got, the more likely they were to press for Black equality. Tracking the oscillations in Jewish "Whiteness" in the little less than a century between the Civil War and World War II, Jews exhibited the most racism when their status as White persons was threatened. Undoubtedly, this was to avoid falling out of Whiteness entirely and being grouped with Blacks, which would demolish whatever social, economic, and political gains the Jewish community had managed to achieve for itself. But when Jewish Whiteness stabilized, Jews would swing back towards loud, prominent, and passionate advocacy for Black rights. In fact, Goldstein notes that Jewish Whiteness has today become so entrenched that Jews are actively fleeing from it -- specifically disassociating themselves from Whiteness and launching a whole new wave of engagement with the Black community. Contrary to popular belief, and despite the emergence of a small but vocal "neo-conservative" Jewish movement, Jews of the 1960s and 70s became noticeably more likely to identify with and work for "Black" causes than their generational predecessors -- at least in part, it seems, in reaction their discomfort with being seen as 100% White.

What does this imply? First, it shows that Whiteness is a powerful draw for dispossessed groups, particularly when the alternative place in the hierarchy is so starkly presented. Even otherwise sympathetic or allied groups, such as Jews, can abandon their Black comrades if solidarity means risking falling to the bottom of the racial pile. But on the flip-side, it demonstrates that Whiteness does not have to be all encompassing. "White" groups can still see it in their interests to act outside the stereotypical White interest of maintaining White supremacy. Indeed, White groups can sometimes see it as in their interest to "flee" from Whiteness, if they view it as threatening other important aspects of their identity (such as social distinctiveness or solidarity with the dispossessed). And perhaps more importantly, it demonstrates that the very ascertainment of Whiteness can provide the social cushion for sympathetic groups to work with their marginalized brethren without fear and thus subvert the racial system from the inside. Once Jews became unambiguously White, they could freely advocate for Black interests without fear (or at least, with reduced fear) that their work would lead to a revival of anti-Semitic oppression and murder. Being at the top of the racial hierarchy, with access to all the privileges that entailed, gave Jews the opportunity to let their ethical commitments shine through, rather than having to only look out for themselves. It's tough to behave selflessly when you're one step away from an Inquisition. Those with power at least have the capacity to use it for good.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Iranian Jews Settle in Israel

CNN reports on a cluster of Iranian Jews who have just moved to Israel -- the largest group in recent memory. Many have family members already in Israel -- some of whom they haven't seen in years. At least as the story reports it, they are quite glad to have made the move.

The Jewish community in Iran is the most vibrant in the Middle East (excluding Israel, obviously), and is actually treated fairly well. But there have been some reports of discrimination, and the community is definitely nervous about President Ahmadinejad's increasingly strident and hard-line stance against Israel, which they think runs a serious risk of a domestic backlash against Iranian Jews.

On the one hand, these people are my sisters and brothers, and I want them to feel secure wherever they live. And, more than anything else, isn't that Israel's purpose? To provide a haven for Jews who don't feel safe in their land of birth? So in that sense, I am happy that they are in a place where they don't have to look over their shoulders for being Jewish.

But at the same time, it's disheartening why they felt they had to move. There are, to be sure, many good reasons as a Jew to move to Israel. Personal security is definitely one, but it should not have to be. Security aside, I am glad there is an Israel -- a place where Jews are the norm and not the margin, a place where we're in control of our own destiny. But yet, I don't want to move there. I prefer to make my contributions in America, because I think I and my people have something to add to our delightful cultural mosaic. And I wish that other countries recognized that too. Some countries (albeit usually inartfully) say they specifically want Jews to move there. I want us to be wanted. I want us to contribute to the flourishing of Israel, and the US, and France, and Japan, and yes, Iran. So even though I support the right of any Jew to emigrate to Israel, for any reason, at some level I want to maintain the diaspora as well.

Happy Day!

To all my Christian friends, a sincere Merry Christmas! And to everyone else, have a happy eat-Chinese-food day!

I'm coming home tomorrow. Though things leveled out over the past few days, I still can't wait for this trip to end. Get me out of here!

This Kid Rocks Out

As Melissa McEwan puts it, "Pwned by a seven year-old":
"Who is your favorite author?" Aleya Deatsch, 7, of West Des Moines asked Mr. Huckabee in one of those posing-like-a-shopping-mall-Santa moments.

Mr. Huckabee paused, then said his favorite author was Dr. Seuss.

In an interview afterward with the news media, Aleya said she was somewhat surprised. She thought the candidate would be reading at a higher level.

"My favorite author is C. S. Lewis," she said.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

Monday, December 24, 2007

J.K. Rowling Article

No commentary, but if you're a Harry Potter fan, Time Magazine's article on J.K. Rowling (runner-up for Person of the Year) is actually quite good.

SantaCam

I know I'm supposed to find this adorable, and to an extent I do, but a significant portion of me finds the idea of NORAD tracking Santa to be very, very creepy.

Via Opinio Juris