Monday, 13 July 2009

A stubbornness in the face of fact that is unbecoming of an academic. (Before I get started, I want to acknowledge that I know Ann Althouse is an attention fiend, and as such revels in any that comes her way. Furthermore, I know that giving her the attention she craves will only embolden her to spout even more outrageous nonsense in the future. However, the white-hotness of her intellectual dishonesty here compels me to consider it a vacuity of historical import. Future scholars will read this post and realize that this was the moment crypto-conservatives discovered the fact that no matter how shallow their waters were, Zeno and his paradox prevented them from ever being emptied altogether.) It may not be breaking new that the President copped a glance at a young Mayara Rodrigues Tavare last week: But I want to call your attention to Ann Althouse’s “close-reading” of the photograph: Obama’s arms hang free, emphasizing the tilt, and either gravity or will causes the left arm to hang inches away from the torso. See how much lower the right hand is than the left? His neck is craned out and around so that the line of sight is directly at the ass. His mouth is open as if to say: That’s what I want. When presented with video evidence to the contrary, she curtly replied: I have seen the video, and I stand by my analysis of the still photograph. She watched video evidence that refutes her analysis and stands by it anyway. But I believe she can be forgiven for insisting, essentially, that photograph is what it is, because she knows nothing about photography. A competent photographer would know, for example, what forced perspective is, and that the effect sometimes occurs accidentally, such that a child innocently swatting an insect might appear to be brutalizing a baby (Exhibit 1). This occurs because both subjects are within the depth of field: The Batman who is too close the camera is as blurry as the one too far away. Only the Batman within the depth of field is in focus. Accidental forced perspective happens because auto-focusing cameras increase the depth of field and flatten the picture. Objects both near and far remain in focus, such that when you innocently shoot this: You end up with this. Modern cameras flatten images by making it appear as if everything within the depth of field is the same distance from the photographer. The effect can be exaggerated by having one object both further away and occupying higher ground (Exhibit 2, Exhibit 3, Exhibit 4, Exhibit 5), but the general principle remains: so long as both objects are in focus, they will appear to be the same distance from the photographer. The video of Obama clearly shows that not only is he moving toward the camera as Ms. Tavare walks away from it, he is also moving from a higher position to a lower one relative to the photographer. In short, anyone with any knowledge of photography would know that Obama looks to a right that is...
Brief translation of today’s Sotomayor hearing for those of you without access to C-SPAN 71. JON KYL (R): I want to go back through the—I’ve read your speeches, and I’ve read all of them several times. [I am committed to maintaining the appearance that I possess the minimum degree of competence and responsibility required by my office.] JON KYL (R): You’ve always been able to find a legal basis for every decision that you’ve rendered as a judge? [By which I mean: I'll read a few speeches a few times, but I can't be bothered to do the work necessary to actually acquire the minimum degree of competence and responsibility required by my office.] JON KYL (R): Issues which are similar is different, though, from an issue which is the same. [Just in case I didn't make myself absolutely clear: I don't possess the minimum degree of competence and responsibility required by my office.] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): What does [legal realism] mean for someone who may be watching the hearing? [Have you done your homework?] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): When Judge Rehnquist says he was a strict constructionist, did you know what he was talking about? [Because I don't think you've done your homework.] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): What is an originalist? [Do you know what happens to naughty students who don't do their homework?] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): Do you believe the Constitution is a living, breathing, evolving document? [They get asked loaded questions designed to appeal to the teacher's constituents, that's what.] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): Do you think Roe v. Wade changed American society? [Just in case you thought I was kidding about those loaded questions.] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): Is there anything in the Constitution that says a state legislator or the Congress cannot regulate abortion or the definition of life in the first trimester? [Because I wasn't.] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): I like you, by the way, for whatever that matters. Since I may vote for you that ought to matter to you. One thing that stood out about your record is that when you look at the almanac of the federal judiciary, lawyers anonymously rate judges in terms of temperament. And here’s what they said about you. She’s a terror on the bench. She’s temperamental, excitable, she seems angry. She’s overall aggressive, not very judicial. She does not have a very good temperament. She abuses lawyers. She really lacks judicial temperament. [Everyone knows you're a bitch, but I'll refrain from agreeing with them for a few more questions to keep up the appearance of impartiality.] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): Are you the only one that asks tough questions in oral arguments? [Exactly how long have you been such a bitch?] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): Let’s talk about the wise Latino comment, yet again. [Now is you is, or is you ain't, my constituency?] LINDSEY GRAHAM (R): I can’t find the quote, but I’ll find it here in a moment—the wise Latino quote. I’ve got it: “I would hope that a wise Latino [sic] woman, with the richness of her experience, would more often than not reach a...

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