Saturday, April 18, 2009

Flat-Earthers on the Highest Court

Well, not FLat-Earthers really. But, something that may be of more importance to members of this blog. According to the WSJ:
In his 34 years on the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens has evolved from idiosyncratic dissenter to influential elder, able to assemble majorities on issues such as war powers and property rights. Now, the court's senior justice could be gaining ground on a case that dates back 400 years: the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.

Justice Stevens, who dropped out of graduate study in English to join the Navy in 1941, is an Oxfordian -- that is, he believes the works ascribed to William Shakespeare actually were written by the 17th earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Several justices across the court's ideological spectrum say he may be right.

This puts much of the court squarely outside mainstream academic opinion, which equates denial of Shakespeare's authorship with the Flat Earth Society.

"Oh my," said Coppelia Kahn, president of the Shakespeare Association of America and professor of English at Brown University, when informed of Justice Stevens's cause. "Nobody gives any credence to these arguments," she says.

Nonetheless, since the 19th century, some have argued that only a nobleman could have produced writings so replete with intimate depictions of courtly life and exotic settings far beyond England. Dabbling in entertainments was considered undignified, the theory goes, so the author laundered his works through Shakespeare, a member of the Globe Theater's acting troupe.

Over the years, various candidates have attracted prominent supporters. Mark Twain is said to have favored Sir Francis Bacon. Malcolm X preferred King James I. De Vere first was advanced in 1918 by an English schoolmaster named J. Thomas Looney. More recently, thanks in part to aggressive lobbying by a contemporary descendant, Charles Vere, Oxford has emerged as a leading alternate author.

Justice Steven's opinion on the matter stems from a moch trial case he was involved with in the 1980s (see the article.) What I want to know is (1) is Justice Stevens an ENglish heretic? and (2) how does one prove his case if you believe Shakespeare did not write the works of Shakespeare?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Night Musical Tribute

It has been said that April is the cruelest month. So here's a worthy response to Mr. Eliot.

Things Heard Around The Office

A few moments ago, I decided it would be best to leave the office and read in the library.

The reason: well, if you must ask I will tell you. While sitting in my office reading, I heard the Administrative Assistant from another Department and a Graduate Student talk about children and race. First, it seems that the Grad. Student and his wife cannot have children for biological reasons. But rather than try all options, the male grad student decided against using an egg donor because, and I quote, "I told me wife if I wanted to do that I would just sleep around." A few moments later, the Secretary and the Grad Students decided it would best to get a puppy instead since if the grad student and his wife were to use an egg donor, it would not be "their" child. Besides, puppies are less aggravating and more rewarding than children.

From this conversation, the pair began to discuss race. Unfortunately, I did not hear the transition from the child- bearing conversation to the race conversation. Yet, all that I can remember about the race conversation is the Secretary's pronnouncement that "whites will be a minority soon. We probably already are."

It is unclear if she meant the country, the state, the city, or the university but does a qualification actually matter? After a few exchanges, she stated that the kids here are a "special group," which means that the minorities here are okay but it is the minorities elsewhere that are the problem. (And, yes, I work at a University where the minority population is very high.) But this is just a terrible statement to make as if this country needs to be a white nation. I though we were all Americans? I am sure that this woman would denounce other forms of identity politics (and she has) unless, of course, it is the politics of her identity.

It has been a charming morning. Just lovely really.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If Texas Were to Secede...

would you notice?

During one of the April 15th AstroTurf, I mean, grassroots organized Tea-Bagging Parties, sponsored in part by Fox News, Gov. Rick Perry announced to a crowd that since the Bailout presented Constitutional problems, Texas may need to secede from the Union.

But the real focus of his comments have little to do with Texas actually leaving form the Union. While the comments were delivered to feed the passions of the angry base (see some great photos here, here, and here, they make little sense in terms of secession.

Instead, I would argue that the focus of the comments concern Gov. Perry's opponent for the 2010 Gubernatorial race against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

As we know from previous Texas elections, Perry cannot mistreat Hutchinson just because she is a woman. During the 1990 Gubernatorial race, Clayton Williams refused to shake the hand of Ann Richards after a debate, made a poor decision by telling a rape joke, and as The Houston Chronicle notes, Williams the Rancher compared Richards to his cattle, stating he would "head her and hoof her and drag her through the dirt." During the 2008 Presidential Election, John McCain canceled a fundraiser with Claytie because of these remarks...

Knowing this, the best explanation for Perry's remarks is that he is a showing a sign of strength against Hutchinson. This strength, of course, is Texas talk for manliness. The Huffington Post notes that Hutchinson, "issued a newspaper opinion piece Wednesday criticizing the Democratic-led Congress for spending on the stimulus bill and the $1 trillion appropriations bill." For a conservative Texas audience, this opposition to the stimulus would be similar to waiving a white flag in the air. Translation: Hutchinson writes things in a Newspaper that is biased; Perry proclaims things to a crowd of savage beasts, or, whatever.

In all probability, Perry is not only positioning himself to be the strongest conservative in the state but in the nation. (Calling Sarah Palin: "Are you done with your feud with the Johnson family? Because if you cannot manage your house," the other Conservatives will insinuate, "how can you manage the country?") And if you are a Conservative that cannot proclaim authority, what do you have?

Of course, it is certainly clear that Republicans lost the elections in 2006 and 2008 because they were just not conservative enough and the Country needs more tax cuts. But who can be conservative when you spend your days developing memos allowing the use of torture, torturing people, or defending those who torture? It must be exhausting...

If anything, at least Perry did not stoop down to the actions of his fellow Aggie, Claytie. It is an encouraging sign for women in Texas' politics that they are no longer subject to rape or violence jokes. Progress, we can proclaim!!! Of course, the race is still young and you never know what will happen when the polls say you are losing to a woman in Texas, right Claytie?

Though, returning to the original subject of the post, I wonder what would happen if Texas were to secede. Perry, Or Chuck Norris, could offer some lame argument that the state is "defending the Constitution." Of course, when he, or Norris, acting as President of the Republic sat down to write a new Constitution and making the necessary alterations to the U.S. Constitution (School Prayer, Abortion, mandatory machine guns in every home, banning The New York Times), would the secession then be a treasonous act? If they were to write a new Constitution, they could not be defending the old one. This would be a replay of Luther v. Borden. Well, not really. In fact, they have nothing in common.

But maybe it is time for Texas to leave the Union. And take South Carolina with you. But not North Carolina or Georgia. N.C. is now blue and Georgia has too many NY transplants. Maybe we can give you Alabama and Arkansas but retain Florida. But then, who takes Nebraska? I suppose the North should retain Kansas. And Virginia. But no way should it retain West Virginia. Nope. Never going to happen.

To decide this matter, I think the question you need to ask yourself is, "What has Texas (or South Carolina, etc.) done for me lately?" Then maybe we can get a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. A tournament perhaps?

The good news for the students in Texas is that if Texas were to leave the Union, they would no longer be ranked 48th in education and they finally could learn real scientific theories, such as Intelligent Falling.

Of well. It is all Obama's fault anyway. The recession, the massive government spending, the unconstitutional power, and the torture all started on January 20th, 2009. Maybe I should have thought more carefully about my vote before this crisis of "competnce" worsens.

Photo from Crooks and Liars.

A little inspiration

And just in case you haven't seen Susan Boyle from "Britains Have Talent," check her out. It is inspirational.

Thursday's Musical Tribute

PW and I don't follow Scrubs as ardently at Harrogate does, but we do occasionally catch the show. Last night, it was on in the background while I wrote about houses in 19th-century American and PW graded. When Ted began singing Outkast's "Hey Ya," we both stopped working and listened intently. This is a great version of the song, which is one of my favorites. I think I might like this one better.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I know I shouldn't be, but . . .

I'm highly amused by Jamie Foxx's recent comments about Miley Cyrus. Highly amused, I say.

Question of the Day: What is the oddest holiday you celebrate?

Yesterday was Dyngus Day, an Easter Monday celebration. While it carries many aspects of tradition, when growing up I always heard about the bar celebrations where men would chase women around with squirt guns, which are supposed to be filled with Holy Water and the men are to bless the women, and the women chase the men and swat them with pussy willows.

While I really cannot visualize what this represents in the bar culture, it does provide me a chance to ask what is the oddest holiday you celebrate or would like to celebrate, or, what are the oddest traditions of a holiday you celebrate or would like to celebrate?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pirates of the Gulf of Aden--the tv show

Hmmm... a Fox reality show on how to choose which employee to fire and now a Spike show on the Navy versus the Pirates (no this isn't pro-sports).

What does it mean (if it means anything) that contemporary issues (serious issues at that) can now be turned so quickly into "reality" shows?