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Archive for April, 2013


[ 38 ] April 30, 2013 |

This is one way environmental racism works. Cleaning up the Gowanus Canal in New York? A good thing. Taking the nasty stuff from one wealthy white area of Brooklyn and moving it to a poor area of Brooklyn dominated by African-Americans and Latinos? Deeply problematic.

Even if there really isn’t a bad guy here–the EPA wants to clean up the canal, everyone thinks it should be cleaned up, etc., as is so common, toxicity gets displaced from the rich to the poor. Those with the least power end up closest to the poisons.


Annual NHL Picks Post

[ 33 ] April 30, 2013 |

It’s that time of year — the most widely anticipated LGM post of the year is here! For the West, to balance my prejudices my picks will be joined by alternative selections from world-class blogger and perennially pessimistic Canucks fan Brad Plumer.

(1)Chicago v. (8)Minnesota: This is about as close as the NHL can come to an NBA-style mismatch in the 1st round. The Wild have the solid goaltending quality and least arguably the premium quality #1 defenseman you look for in an upset special, but…they’re a team with a negative goal differential in a weak division going up against the best team in the league. A Wild win might be the biggest first round upset since the Red Wings lost to San Jose in 1993, and I’m sure not picking it. BLACK HAWKS IN 5. Plumer’s also going chalk in this one.

(2)Anaheim v. (7) Detroit : I’m really torn on this. The Ducks have impressive front-line talent, and the Red Wings certainly aren’t what they were even 3 years ago; in particular, Kronwall is a pretty pale imitation of Lidstrom. Nonetheless, one has to pick some upsets, and the advanced stats show a massive advantage in Detroit’s favor. I doubt that the gap between the teams is anything like that large, but given Anaheim’s thinness the Red Wings should probably be favored to move on to the second round one more once. RED WINGS IN 7. PLUMER: ANAHEIM.

(3)Vancouver v. (6) San Jose
A fascinating series; two still-talented teams who may have missed their shot (although the Sharks’ playoff underachievement has been a lot more egregious.) They’re pretty much even, and although there’s concern about Schneider’s health I’ve always thought Luongo gets a bad rap, and I wouldn’t worry about him playing well. Forced to pick, I guess I’ll say that I’ll believe that the Sharks can win a series like this when I see it. CANUCKS IN 6. GEORGE MCLELLAN PLUMER: San Jose.

(4)St. Louis v. (5) Los Angeles
Another fascinating series. Two superbly coached, defensively tight teams — Chicago has to be happy with this matchup because they might be the two biggest threats in the conference to knock them off. LA’s conventional and advanced numbers are a little better, but since St. Louis had more injury problems and solidified their defense at the trade deadline, they’re not much of an underdog. No outcome would surprise me, but…a slight edge to the defending champs. KINGS IN 7. PLUMER: ST. LOUIS.

I don’t know if Berube will be doing his Eastern picks this year, but I’ll take the Rangers, Bruins, Habs, and of course Penguins (although I’m interested to see if the young Isles can at least put a scare into the Pens, who are evidently stacked but do still have Marc-Andre Fleury.) Only one thing could get me to cheer for the Bruins before the finals this year for obvious reasons, but…alas, that one thing happened, so I’ll hope they lose in Round 2. Until the Leafs are eliminated, I’ll just be thankful that I’m not reliant on the CBC.

Can I call them or can I call them?

[ 46 ] April 30, 2013 |

In what must be the most compelling evidence that Things I Write On The Internet Come True — and in that order no less — one of you lot sent me an email containing the following image of a cousin’s Facebook post about Jason Collins:

I’m not sure I should be happy about being able to forecast stupidity so accurately.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

[ 104 ] April 30, 2013 |

STUDENT: It’s so great to get to college and finally have a gay professor.

SEK: I bet it is. Ain’t culture shock grand?

STUDENT: Absolutely. So what was it like for you in college?

SEK: What do you mean?

STUDENT: When you first found out one of your professors was gay.

SEK: I don’t know that I ever did. Wait, what are we talking about now?

STUDENT: I read that thing you wrote yesterday. It made me proud to be in your class.

SEK: Wait, I’m your gay professor?

STUDENT: It’s awesome to finally have a teacher to relate to.


SEK: How about we discuss Game of Thrones now?

I’m Sure A-Rod is Somehow Responsible

[ 139 ] April 30, 2013 |

Is there no end to the perfidy of Justin Verlander?

Selling to the low bidder reduces the overall valuation of the franchise by about $35 million, which seems to be against the interests of owners league-wide. And Seattle is a much larger metropolitan area than Sacramento, so the leaue as a whole is missing out on an opportunity to grow its fanbase and increase national television revenue.

So why do this?

Well, it seems to all go back to the arena. You see, in addition to offering $365 million for the team, the Seattle bidders were offering to build a brand new arena for the Kings. By contrast, the Sacramento bidders managed to persuade the city of Sacramento to build a brand new arena for the Kings. The Seattle bid, in other words, would have set a good precedent for the future of American public policy. And the owners didn’t want that. The owners want to be able to make this move over and over again. “Give us a new publicly financed stadium or we’ll move to Seattle” is a threat that works as well in Portland or Milwaukee or Minneapolis or Salt Lake City or Memphis or New Orleans or Phoenix as it does in Sacramento. And the major American sports leagues are organized as a cartel for a reason. An individual owner just wants to sell to the highest bidder. But the league approval process means the owners as a whole can think of the interests of the overall cartel, and those interests very much include a strong interest in maintaining the ability to get cities to pony up subsidies.

If your resolution to this problem is “Lebron James should get paid less money,” then congratulations; a sportswriting gig at Slate awaits you…

Nobody Cares About Federalism, Part the Umpteenth

[ 41 ] April 30, 2013 |

You will be shocked to learn that the 5 Republican appointees to the Supreme Court declined to defer to state court findings of fact, because doing so might led to someone whose trial was delayed by more than 7 years receiving a remedy. Why, next you’re going to tell me that there wasn’t widespread southern opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, or that Bush v. Gore lacked integrity.

I will have more about it later, but the Karen Houppert book I reference in the article is very good.

For the record (more Brian Leiter content, unfortunately)

[ 65 ] April 30, 2013 |

To what degree, if at all, should student evaluations and/or complaints be taken into account for the purposes of tenure or post-tenure review? What about judgments regarding a faculty member’s “collegiality”? Consider this story about changing tenure standards at Brooklyn Law School.

The Board of Trustees recently adopted “demonstrated incompetence” to the list, defining it as “multiple unsatisfactory performance reviews or complaints from supervisors; multiple complaints from students or multiple unsatisfactory student evaluations; [or] sub-standard academic performance.”

Bloggers say the change could threaten academic freedom at the law school school — especially since the definition of demonstrated incompetence also includes exhibiting a “lack of collegiality,” a criterion the American Association of University Professors has vocally opposed as a factor in performance evaluations.

Ah yes, “bloggers:”

Brian Leiter, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who runs Leiter Reports, said in a blog post that it is alarming the language equates demonstrated incompetence with “wholly unreliable and disreputable criteria like students evaluations [and] complaints from supervisors.”

“[P]oor teaching evaluations from students do not constitute demonstrated incompetence — for reasons the enormous empirical literature on teaching evaluations would make clear, quite apart from AAUP norms,” Leiter wrote.

A couple of notes:

(1) Amusingly, when Leiter is in the mood to libel someone, student evaluations are magically transformed from “wholly unreliable and disreputable critieria” into compelling evidence:

I have to admit that knowing Campos, and knowing that he cares not a whit about his students (see his teaching evaluations) or about prospective law students or about scholarship or about anything but himself and his own media exposure [etc etc etc]

Leiter, needless to say, hasn’t actually seen my teaching evaluations, which in any event he claims are meaningless, except when they aren’t.

Even more amusingly, Leiter not only cites his own student evaluations, but actually provides an on-line link to them when fulminating about the awesomeness of his academic accomplishments:

My teaching evaluations, by the way, are a matter of public record, will ScamProf Campos share his?

(2) Since I’m addressing the public record for the purpose of dealing with Leiter’s ongoing libel of my academic reputation, this is as good a time as any to point out that, during a period when according to Leiter, I was doing “almost no scholarly work,” I published, among other things, two pieces of scholarship that have each been cited in the academic literature quite a bit more than anything Leiter has ever published.

I wonder what Peter Aduren thinks of all this?

Pesto is Besto

[ 93 ] April 30, 2013 |

Say it’s somewhere between 5 and 7 in the evening. You’re dead tired and you don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove for an hour. Well, that was the situation I found myself in last night. I also didn’t have any proteins defrosted, so I knew I’d have to go vegetarian. (Plus for health and environmental reasons I’d like to incorporate more vegetarian food into my meal plans. Entry on this coming up soon.) I was kinda at a loss…then I remembered I had a couple of cups of watercress in the fridge. All of a sudden it hit me: watercress pesto.


“Watercress pesto? Now you’ve gone too far, bspen.” you’re surely thinking. But, yes, it’s true: I made watercress pesto last night, and was it delicious.

Pesto’s amazing for many reasons: It’s a no-cook sauce, it’s made with stuff that’s good for you, it’s quick and easy to throw together, and a it’s a multi-tasker (you can use it on pasta, as a topping for crostini, as a sammich spread, as a stir-in for soups/stews/sauces). It’s also incredibly versatile. If you don’t happen to have basil on hand, you can use parsley, arugula…just about any green you like. I even used kale once.

Here’s the basic recipe for pesto. Below it I will list swap outs for the key ingredients.

  • Roughly 2 cups of basil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated good quality Parmesan cheese
  • Roughly 1/3 pine nuts, toasted (if desired)
  • Around 1/2 tsp. salt, plus a pinch of pepper

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients as you stream in the olive oil. When the pesto reaches a slightly runny paste consistency, stop. Serve with hot, cooked pasta if desired.

Last night I reserved some of the pasta water and used it loosen up the pesto. I tossed it with the pasta, along some fresh, chopped Roma tomatoes.



For the basil: parsley, spinach, kale, watercress, arugula, swiss chard, dill (I’ve even seen butter lettuce and tarragon used.)

For the toasted pine nuts: pistachios, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts

For the cheese: Asiago, Pecorino Romano (The cheese may be omitted entirely in cases where it might clash with other ingredients)


Ever made a pesto that was a little off the beaten path? Ever used a pesto in a fresh and interesting way? Share your recipes and stories starting…NOW!


Hello Walls

[ 38 ] April 30, 2013 |

Happy 80th to Willie Nelson!!

“Hello Walls” is an early classic which Faron Young made a hit long before Willie had his own commercial success. The album from where this comes And Then I Wrote is a good example of the singles vs. albums format in country music that Scott was talking about yesterday. It’s a really phenomenal album but it’s also clear that it is basically a bunch of singles stuck together on an album without much conceptual framework.

The Late-Term Abortion Bait-And-Switch

[ 68 ] April 30, 2013 |

Kilgore gets it:

Suppose it were possible to engineer a permanent national deal (it’s not, but just consider it as a thought experiment) wherein in exchange for a strictly enforced ban on post-viability abortions that didn’t involve direct threats to the life of the mother, we’d also start treating all forms of contraception and pre-viability abortions not only as legal, but as medical procedures that would be publicly funded just like other medical procedures, under normal (not prohibitive) inspection and regulatory regimes? I suspect a large number of pro-choice folk would go for that kind of deal, which isn’t that different from the situation in much of Europe. It would reflect the fact that most late-term abortions happen not because some bad girl has had sex and now finds motherhood inconvenient, but because she hasn’t had meaningful access to contraception, Plan B, or early-term abortions.

But would any antichoice activists go along with it? No. Because they don’t really care about late-term abortions other than as a lever to move public opinion away from legalized abortion generally. I mean, if late-term abortions were really what upset you, wouldn’t you perhaps be even more adamant than the Planned Parenthood folk in trying to make sure steps short of late-term abortion were not only tolerated but encouraged?

This has been a central strategy of opponents of reproductive freedom for a long time; bring up abortions that are already illegal pretty much everywhere in the United States in order to defend regulations that don’t merely apply at every stage of pregnancy but make obtaining pre-viability abortions more difficult. And almost as irritating is conservatives touting French abortion policy while ignoring rather crucial aspects of French abortion policy like “economically accessible abortions easily available in public hospitals.”

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

[ 38 ] April 29, 2013 |

I don’t usually link to crazy right-wing stuff, but watching Twitchy try to pivot from Jason Collins coming out as gay to Obama’s actions around Benghazi is a beautiful example of complete and utter desperation and undiluted wingnuttery.

Monday Evening Links…

[ 11 ] April 29, 2013 |

For your enjoyment:

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