Friday, January 09, 2004

Lawsuit over anti-Catholic sculpture

Prof Volokh points to a controversy regarding an allegedly anti-Catholic sculpture on a state college campus in Kansas. The statue is a bust of a slumped over bishop wearing a mitre resembling an (uncircumcised) penis.

[T]he caption says "The artist says, 'I was brought up Catholic. I remember being 7 and going into the dark confessional booth for the first time. I knelt down, and my face was only inches from the screen that separated me and the one who had the power to condemn me for my evil ways. I was scared to death, for on the other side of the screen was the persona you see before you.'"

I suggest that the artist is being a bit artistic with the truth. I seriously doubt that he ever had his confession heard by a bishop much less a bishop dressed in full bishop's regalia. It's just not done.

And unless he was born before 1950, I doubt that he's spent much time in confession. That sacrament has declined quite a bit since Vatican II. I suggest that the artist (like many today) is in rebellion against an image rather than an institution. Images of the Church, of Social Aristocracy, of WASP culture persist as objects of rebellion long after they have disappeared in reality.

If Mods admitted that there were no Standards to rebel against, they'd be forced to justify their acts on their own terms rather than referentially.

Illicit Drug Transaction in the Big City

I wandered into an independent pharmacy in the Big City, today, in search of relief for mild symptoms of rough throat. Among the items tendered for sale, I spotted (Original) Strepsils. Although at $7.95 the 24 lozenges were about twice as expensive as the Strepsils I usually bring back from the UK, they were here and this season has greatly diminished our smuggled supply so I took it up to the counter.

"Imported directly from the UK?" I asked the clerk. "No, they contain some unapproved antiseptics," she said. "We obtain them from another pharmacy."

As the official Strepsils site says: This site is intended for residents of the UK only.

Perhaps the "unapproved antiseptics" are why I've always found them more effective than US throat lozenges. Transaction completed.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Gender Discrimination at the NYT BR?

Boy, Girl, Boy by Cynthia Cotts: The New York Times Book Review overwhelmingly favors books and book reviews written by men, according to a new study from Brown University. Over the course of a year, the study reveals, 72 percent of all books reviewed in the NYTBR were written by men, and 66 percent of all reviews also carried a male byline....

As for the attention to male authors, he explained, "more books are written by men than by women".

Men write more books than women? Caplan and her co-author searched for evidence to support that claim, but found none. When asked for a source, McGrath did not reply.

Here's one. Just count the 100. I did this recently and got 73 men, 25 women, and 2 other (the World Almanac & a dictionary). Tracks the NYT percentages pretty well. Unless the NYT BR author population is dramatically different, I suggest no gender discrimination. This is just at the review level, of course -- publishers and book buyers may still be guilty of invidious discrimination.

Since book reviewers are almost always authors themselves, the numbers point to a lack of gender discrimination in the selection of reviewers as well.

They've finally gone too far...

The NYC smoking ban doesn't only ban smoking (or holding burning smoking materials) it even bans possession of ashtrays. See this article on Chris Hitchen's latest article in Vanity Fair.

Here's the New York City Smoke-Free Air Act (Chapter 5 of Title 17 of the New York City Administrative Code) on the topic:

§10-11 Ashtrays.

(a) Ashtrays offered for sale. Ashtrays shall not be used or provided for use in any smoke-free area. Ashtrays which are offered for sale in a smoke-free area other than a retail store shall be kept within a display case or in an area visible but not otherwise accessible to a customer (such as a shelf behind a cash register).

(b) Ashtrays in hotels and motels. Ashtrays are prohibited in all smoke-free areas of hotels and motels, except that ashtrays may be placed immediately adjacent to hotel and motel public entrances and elevators.

Where can I buy some plastic ashtrays to leave around?

Monday, January 05, 2004

Hawaii State Flag at Risk

High court will weigh Muslim's flag suit
Lower courts rejected religious argument

JACKSON - The U.S. Supreme Court will discuss Jan. 9 whether to hear arguments in a case in which a Muslim claimed the Confederate battle emblem in Mississippi's flag is actually a Christian symbol.

Lower federal courts had rejected John Ellis Briggs' argument that the Mississippi flag contains the St. Andrew's Cross and that the symbol represents state endorsement of a particular religion.

If this case succeeds, there goes the Hawaii State Flag since it definitely includes the Union Jack which definitely includes the crosses of St Patrick, St George, and St Andrew.

Thanks to SCOTUS Blog for the pointer.