The Garden

A squash-friendly blog for our times

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Finally. The fourth race of the America's Cup final has, at last, been completed, and the Swiss have taken a 4-0 lead. Added bonus: Click on the link about the race, and be dazzled by use of the word "dismasted."

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Cricket: India has defeated England in the Cricket World Cup, virtually guaranteeing itself a spot in the next round. England, by contrast, must now somehow beat the world's top team, Australia, in order to have a good chance at advancing.
The photography on this Yale sophomore's weblog is stunning. (I particularly like the photograph of a staircase posted on February 23.) I noticed the site a few days ago, but I forgot to mention it. Yes, more amnesia. Happily enough, Ernie the Attorney reminded me.
I don't know what's up with me right now. All of my blog entries lately have been, well, condensed. In an effort to work through that, here's a mega post on the sports issues that I'm interested in today. First, Australian cricketer Shane Warne, who was suspended last week for using a banned diuretic has decided that he will not appeal. Race 4 of the America's Cup has been cancelled for the seventh time. This time the culprit was rough seas. Baseball's new Veterans Committee had an election today, and there were no winners. And, finally, if you're planning on protesting at this years Masters Tournament, you'd better get in line now.
Me, too. Golly.
Like sand through the hourglass: I agree with Shattered Buddha, this photographic chronology of a family is strangely compelling.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

It has really been a bad week for the America's Cup, huh?
As anybody who has ever lived there can attest, Louisiana is sinking. Still, this piece made me miss New Orleans....

Monday, February 24, 2003

This isn't true every day, but today's posts are a pretty good representation of who I am and what I'm interested in. Just in case you were wondering.
It's true: History is cyclical. Some of the same dissatisfactions that led one generation of men's tennis players to form the ATP Tour are now leading a new generation to consider forming another union—to negotiate with the old union. Odd, huh? My favorite tennis journalist, Jon Wertheim, has the skinny in this Q&A with
Greece to IOC: Take a chill pill. Ok, I'm paraphrasing there....
Of course! This is the El Niño America's Cup.
Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame? It's not quite what you're thinking.
Kenya's startling upset of Sri Lanka today in the Cricket World Cup was not good news for New Zealand, which had already forfeited its game against Kenya.
Today's New York Times has this obituary of Robert K. Merton, one of the most prominent sociologists of the last 100 years (link via Kieran Healy). Merton added so many concepts to the modern sociological oeuvre that it would be hard to catalog them all. It would be fair to say, though, that he helped explicate the structural functionalism that dominated much of twentieth-century American sociology.
Today, the bicentennial of the Supreme Court's decision in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803), would be a good time to reflect on judicial review.

UPDATE: The Washington Post had this timely piece today.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Why isn't jazz more gay-friendly; why are most gay people oblivious to jazz? This New York Times piece (free registration required) asked some interesting questions (link via Shattered Buddha).
With India's boycott and turmoil in the region, the South Asian Federation Games—which I blogged about heremay not go on. Bummer.
Plebiscite: Vancouver is still in the running to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, after voters there approved the city's Olympic bid by a two-to-one margin.
If Samuel Pepys were around today, he'd probably have a blog. This is what it might look like (link via Kitchen Cabinet).
America's Cup Doldrums: What's up with the Hauraki Gulf? There hasn't been enough wind there in days.

UPDATE: And again....

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Scooped: I've been meaning to praise the heck out of The Office, the BBC's brilliant comedy. Dean Allen of Textism has beaten me to it, though. So...what he said. Only more. If you live in the States, you can see The Office on BBC America.
Rugby Union: The surprising Irish team has defeated Italy, 37-13, in the first Six Nations Cup match of the weekend. Next up for Ireland, on March 8, is defending champion France.

UPDATE: Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I just listened to the English defeat of Wales, 26-9, in the second game of the weekend. Wales, the one-time powerhouse that is now lightly regarded, put up a pretty good fight in the first half.

Shane Warne, one of Australia's and the world's best cricketers, has been suspended for one year because of a positive test for a banned diuretic. He will appeal. Warne has said that he ingested the diuretic, which his mother gave him, only to improve his appearance. Because the positive test occurred in January, Warne has not played for the Australian team at the Cricket World Cup.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Only 20% of Danes in a recent poll thought the United States was a well-functioning democracy. If you have thoughts about that, please share them with me and your congressman.
And I'm guessing it won't be San Marino either. I've been wondering, as you know, where the next America's Cup defense will take place if the Swiss defeat New Zealand for the trophy. Well, we now know it won't be Monaco. That possibility truly hadn't even occurred to me.
Hell, it's a good story. Is this anecdote cute? I don't usually like cute. But I like this. It's funny, and it's a tiny (tiny!) bit profound, but it's also probably cute, too. Hmmm.
Sexism and Sumo? Once again, Japan's Sumo Association has decided not to allow a female governor on the dohyo to present the trophy at its Osaka tournament.
Ditto. If you're a man of Greek ancestry who plays baseball....

UPDATE: If you're a Greek Olympic organizer, IOC chief Jacques Rogge says you should get off your butt. Will the Athens Games be a huge fiasco?

If you're a woman of Greek ancestry who plays softball, you might be able to live out your Olympic dream. The Greeks—with no softball tradition—have an automatic berth in the Athens 2004 Games, and they're looking for help.
The movement is big. Here's another article about the IOC's report on the lack of criminal influence in sports. The article also notes, at its end, that the IOC executive board voted to keep racewalking, the three-day equestrian event, and wrestling on the Olympic program—at least through the 2008 Games in Beijing. IOC president Jacques Rogge believes the Summer Games have gotten too big, but the IOC hasn't been able to pick any sports to eliminate from the Games. Previously, softball, baseball, and the modern pentathlon got a reprieve through 2008. And if modern pentathlon is staying, I can't imagine what would go.

I was a little bit surprised that wrestling was ever one of the sports that might be dropped. I suppose its popularity is confined to a few countries, but wrestling—in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle versions—is one of the few Olympic sports that some countries, including Mongolia and Iran, participate in.

As for the modern pentathlon, well, it's a uniquely Olympic event, having been concocted by the founder of the Olympic Movement. It's just universally ignored. But, hey, I like it.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

For Worse: I think Kim of Fresh Hell is one of the wittiest, smartest writers on the web. So if she says that For Better or for Worse is a cool comic strip, and she does, well, it must be so. But I totally don't get it.

In a similar vein, can you believe there are people who still read Rex Morgan, M.D.?

Minnows and fish: After Sri Lanka's thorough trouncing of Canada, some are asking whether non-powerhouses like Canada really belong in the Cricket World Cup. Relatedly, Australia—a 2000-1(!) favorite—today defeated the lightly-regarded Dutch team.

Although I appreciate events that make all the world welcome, it doesn't seem right when the outcome of an event is affected by flukes occurring during noncompetitive matches.

Clean? The International Olympic Committee has concluded that sport is largely free from the influence of organized crime. As this article indicates, there have recently been a few indications to the contrary.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Play nicely. A new book gives national political appointees some practical advice about working with—and not harming—civil servants. I wonder how big an audience there is for such a book. While we're on the topic: If you're ever elected president, please remember that I'd make a helluva Secretary of the Interior. Thanks.
Remember when I was forgetful? If not, see here. Well, here's the cool post about hurling that I couldn't locate once I was ready to blog. (I'd scrawled the site's address on a sticky note, and—imagine that—I actually knew what it was when the sticky note turned up.)

By the way, the author of the post—sociologist Kieran Healy—keeps a mighty tasty blog.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Tiger II: Kate of the Kitchen Cabinet has favored me with a response to my recent post about underdogs. As she notes, there are some real sources of spectating pleasure to be mined when rooting for some favorites. There's the suspense in whether the dynasty can win again and, similarly, in whether the superior athlete can accomplish a particular milestone. Waiting to see if the Bulls can threepeat is definitely exciting, just as is the anticipation that builds when someone like Serena Williams or Tiger Woods gets close to a calendar-year Grand Slam. For some spectators, and particularly those who have preexisting identity ties to the favorite, these are sufficient pleasures. But if a spectator comes to a contest with no preexisting ties, something that may not happen all that often to the real fan, the emotional attraction of the underdog may well be alluring.

When I used to test this idea with sociology classes, including an upper-level course that was popular with physical education students, there was always a decided minority—but always a minority—who gravitated toward the favorite, even in the absence of any preexisting ties to either competitor. I don't know Kate, but it could be that she falls into this category. In any event, it's an interesting phenomenon, and maybe I'd be researching it now if I hadn't bailed on academia for the big bucks of governmental service. It takes all kinds, of course, and life would be dull if everyone rooted for the same teams.

Random aside: Congrats to Kate for her citation in a federal appellate opinion.

Geopolitics: Predictably enough, India may not attend the South Asian Sports Federation Games to be held in Islamabad in a few weeks. The badminton should be good either way, but the kabaddi would definitely suffer.

Also, an International Olympic Committee inspection team has wrapped up a four-day visit to PyeongChang, South Korea--one of three cities bidding for the 2010 Winter Games. Inspection visits to Salzburg and Vancouver are still to come. South Korea has a good chance of getting the 2010 Games. It seems unlikely that the 2010 Games would go to Europe, with the 2006 Games already set for Turin. A plebiscite on Vancouver's bid will be held on February 22. There is opposition.

And I thought I had it bad. I don't have snow in the bathroom, at least.

Monday, February 17, 2003

A challenging challenger: The Swiss have taken a 3-0 lead over defender New Zealand in the America's Cup. If the Swiss win, and it's looking like they will, where will they defend the title?
Stay tuned for more weather. It finally stopped snowing. I guess my neighborhood got over 20 inches. I spent the day, a holiday, feeling claustrophobic and daydreaming of warmth.

But, hey, tomorrow I get a snow day! (Unlike some poor souls, I'm not essential enough to have to showshoe in.) I feel like I'm eight again.

The Tiger Woods Question: Kate, one of the Kitchen Cabinet bloggers, asks why sports fans have such a hard time rooting for dynasties and athletes who clearly outshine their peers. "Why must we always tear down?" she asks. "Why do we love to hate the best?"

This is actually something I've written about (with my mentor Eldon E. Snyder): Please pull out your copy of Volume 8 (c. 1991) of the Sociology of Sport Journal and turn to page 380, ok? It's not handy? Well, in short, the argument is that it's relatively risk-free to root for underdogs. When you root for the underdog, you invest little of yourself—and your intellect—in the outcome. If the underdog is defeated, you don't lose much, if any, self-respect. After all, the underdog shouldn't have won. If, however, the underdog should somehow manage a win, you're exhilarated. It's darn exciting, huh? You get goose bumps when Doug Flutie completes a long pass with no time remaining to give Boston College the win; when the U.S. hockey team defeats the Soviet Union at Lake Placid, causing Al Michaels to ruminate on miracles; when Senegal stuns the defending champions at the World Cup. It's big emotional bang for little or no emotional buck.

Conversely, when you root for the favorite—or, heaven help you, a dynasty—you tend to invest a little more of yourself in the outcome. You've expended some intellectual energy and decided that the 1978 Montreal Canadiens are clearly the tops in the NHL. (Or, perhaps, some of your very identity is based on being a Canadiens fan.) What happens when they, inevitably, win the Stanley Cup? Well, it's not all that exciting, is it? They were supposed to win; they were heavy favorites to win. It's nice, but it's not all that. And if your favorite should happen to lose? Well, you feel lousy, and you may even lose a touch of self-esteem. To sum up, rooting for the underdog entails little risk and the potential for huge excitement. By contrast, rooting for the favorite is pretty much a no-win proposition: You risk something, and—even if you didn't—there's very little chance of a huge emotional payoff. The cost-benefit analysis favors rooting for the underdog.

Given all this, why would a fan ever root for a favorite? Well, you do it because you have pre-existing ties to the favorite. You root for the Detroit Red Wings because you grew up in Detroit, or because you've had a huge crush on Brett Hull for ages, or because you got attached to the Wings years ago when they were the underdogs. In short, you root for non-underdogs in spite of the emotional attraction of rooting for the underdog.

I have another thought here, too. At some times and places, it's probably easier to tap into a particular culture's underdog ideologies. Americans, maybe, still love underdogs because (i) they were once a huge one themselves and (ii) the underdog ethos became embedded in popular mythology. Probably some cultures have more underdog ideologies than others to tap into. Since the United States has become the superpower, has it become easier to root for the Tiger Woodses of the sports world? You tell me.

In the end, I don't think I'd phrase things as negatively as Kate. In my opinion, it's not so much that underdog-rooters hate the best. It seems to me, instead, that fans of the underdog respect the top dog. They just crave the emotional rush they get when the underdog prevails. Who can blame them?

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Does it seem quaint to write a check? It does to me sometimes.
Does this mean I miss being a sociologist? This entertaining Boston Globe piece on fast food pits two strains of sociological thinking against one another. One strain, which focuses on increasing bureaucratization and international commodification (McDonaldization, as theorist George Ritzer calls it) in the world, notes—with some sadness—the spread of American-style fast-food chains around the world. The other strain, which focuses on resistance to commodification, notes how these chains must integrate themselves into local cultures to survive. So, on the one hand, there are now McDonald's restaurants around the world; on the other hand, only a few of those restaurants feature McHuevo burgers.

Despite what the Globe article and countless grad-school arguments may suggest, both paradigms describe something real, don't they? There's no need to choose.

New Zealand's last World War I veteran has died. He was 105.
I'm surprised to be writing this, but Switzerland enjoys a 2-0 lead on New Zealand in the America's Cup final. The third race in the best-of-nine final is set for Tuesday. Switzerland is entirely landlocked, no?
Carol Channing took no part in this, I swear. World No. 2 Venus Williams took out world No. 3 Kim Clijsters, 6-2, 6-4, in the finals of an event in Antwerp on Sunday. For Clijsters, the home-court advantage wasn't enough. If Williams can win the Diamond Games tournament again in any of the next three years, she'll take home a $1 million diamond-encrusted trophy shaped like a racket. Really.
This is big news in the Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand upset South Africa today at the Cricket World Cup. The loss could cause the South African hosts to make an early exit from the tournament.
Unfortunately, I don't live in an actual ski lodge. I've been trapped inside my apartment all day; snow just keeps falling and falling and falling. We may get 20 inches this round. It certainly doesn't surprise me that this winter has been more severe in Philadelphia than in Anchorage.

I have had plenty of time to read the newspaper today, though. In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, I particularly enjoyed stories on the Swedish government's determination to end its vestigial relationship with nobility; a school on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana that hopes to save the tribe's language and culture; and a clutch of, well, radical knitters.

Also of note today: a Sunday Magazine feature on the unconventional dean of Drexel University's College of Media Arts and Design and the Inquirer art critic's review of the Matisse Picasso exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. A springtime excursion to MoMA sounds awfully nice right about now.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

I must have hit my head and erased my memory. Yesterday, I stumbled onto a great post about hurling on someone's blog. The post included a link to a picture from, I think, 1959, and it addressed what it says about Ireland that hurling is its national sport. Try as I might, though, today I can't remember whose blog it was and how I ended up there. This must be what middle age is like. Sigh. So, anyway, if you wrote the cool stuff about hurling, congrats. And if you find my memory somewhere on the street, please send it back to me....
Rugby Union: England has defeated defending champion France, 25-17, on the first day of this year's Six Nations Cup, the top all-European rugby union event. Earlier in the day, Italy—hardly a power in rugby union—defeated Wales, 30-22. You can get video highlights of both matches here.
R.I.P. Dolly is dead.
Burying the story? I'm glad I reserved judgment on this. Justice Douglas's legal claim to a spot in Arlington National Cemetery seems now to have been a viable one.
Cricket Jurisprudence: England was forced to forfeit the Cricket World Cup match it declined to play in Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, in actual on-the-field action, defending champion Australia is looking strong.
Just don't get me started on Ahmad Rashad, ok? As Reality Blurred noted, most of the players' journals from ABC's Celebrity Mole Hawaii were up for auction on eBay, with the proceeds to go to charity. I've been a huge fan of all of the Mole's iterations, and I thought the celebrity edition was particularly fun. But who exactly would pay $2,025 for the journal of winner Kathy Griffin? And why did the journal of runner-up Erik von Detten, the kid from Dinotopia, earn a whopping $5,602? Zowie.
Pitchers and catchers for my beloved Kansas City Royals reported to spring training yesterday. Their first workout is set for a couple of hours from now. For the first time ever, the Royals are holding spring training in Arizona and playing in the Cactus League.

It may be spring in Arizona, but it's snowing—again—here today.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

It's a loss (but only in the most obvious sense). Teresa Phillips became the first woman to coach a men's Division I basketball team tonight. Her Tennessee State Tigers lost, 71-56, to Austin Peay. After tonight, Phillips will apparently return to her regular gig as Tennessee State's athletic director.
A New Zealand murderer has received a sentence that includes 33 years of parole ineligibility. What's really incredible, at least for an American, is that this is the longest sentence ever imposed in New Zealand.
Interested in Buddhism? Think you ought to be interested in Buddhism? Me, too. But this Slate piece makes me think I should just leave Buddhism Without Beliefs in the stack of unread books on my nightstand.
I enjoyed this New Yorker piece on table tennis. It notes, among other things, how world-class players get no respect here, probably because so many Americans think of the sport as an after-school time-killer. I guess I missed out, but I didn't have any childhood friends who played Ping-Pong in their basements. Of course, there aren't that many basements in my hometown. (Yes, I know that's not the point.)
Quiet in Harare: England decided not to play its 2003 Cricket World Cup match set for Zimbabwe. There seems to be some question still whether England should be required to forfeit the match.
Recognizing that its season-ending championship tournament was a colossal bore last year, the women's tour has decided to try something new. Or, at least, to borrow something good from the men's tour. I think a round-robin event will make fans happy.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Best in Show: It's the Kerry blue terrier. I was rooting for an underdog, of course, the Ibizan hound.
All the planets are in orbit again. Cooped Up is back and looking better than ever. Good stuff.
Um. I agree with Pamie that the phrase "You know what?" is usually a not-so-subtle way of telling readers they don't know anything at all. I disagree, though, that "um" and "uh" are often just as bad. When I use "um," it's a self-conscious and halfway apologetic way of revealing that I'm struggling with what to write and am probably about to use the most obvious word or phrase choice known to humanity. So don't judge me too harshly, ok? I've definitely seen—and received—the self-important "um" that Pamie describes, but I more often see the nerdy "um" that I favor.

Whatever you think of "um," you should definitely pre-order Pamie's book.

The other "curious omission": In early January, I blogged about Spain's decision to select Los lunes al sol, instead of Pedro Almodóvar's Hable con ella (Talk to Her), as its contender for this year's Oscar for best foreign-language film. Well, Los lunes didn't get a nomination, while Almodóvar's highly regarded film walked away with two nominations in mainstream, premier categories—best director and best original screenplay. I'm guessing the Spanish film academy is feeling a little uncomfortable right about now.

Another foreign film, Mexico's Y tu mamá también, captured a nomination in the screenplay category, giving that category an unusual international flair.

Monday, February 10, 2003

I'm right, and I guess I'm psychic, too. My theory for the "curious omission" of Stefan Edberg from this year's class of International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees may actually bear weight, according to another wonderful Tennis Mailbag column from's Jon Wertheim. Wertheim also links Chris Evert's departure from NBC with Mary Carillo's arrival there. I unintentionally linked the two commentators in my post about Evert's career change.

Finally, Wertheim's column has good information on the Croatian Davis Cup hero Ivan Ljubicic as well as Martina Hingis's retreat—not retirement!—from the game.

Punishable by a fine of Five Dollars: Another great resource of OSCN is that it contains online versions of all Oklahoma statutes, including my personal favorite.
Interstate Rivalry? How Appealing spotlighted some top state-court websites today. I visited his choices, and they are awfully nice sites. (I particularly liked being able to listen to oral arguments of cases before the North Dakota Supreme Court.) Still, you can call me parochial (ouch!), but I think OSCN, the website of Oklahoma's state courts, is one of the best. Not only does the site have useful information about the state's three appellate courts (and beaucoup "lower" courts), but it houses online versions of all of those courts' published opinions since, well, time began. That means you can view Oklahoma Supreme Court decisions from 1890 and Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decisions since statehood. Oh, and you can view decisions of the Court of Appeals of Indian Territory, too.

You'll get a gold star from me if you know what court directly reviewed decisions of the Court of Appeals of Indian Territory.

I've been meaning for days to blog about the 2003 Cricket World Cup now being hosted by South Africa. There has been a lot of off-the-field news, mostly relating to the organizers' decision to utilize venues in Kenya and Zimbabwe. First, New Zealand decided not to play in Nairobi, citing safety concerns. (Kenya, of course, was the site of a terrorist bombing in November.) Then the focus turned to whether England would play in Zimbabwe, given safety concerns there as well as Britain's call for Commonwealth sanctions against Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. That still seems to be undecided, although the English players—who have received death threats—are apparently balking at making the trip to Harare.

I wish I could blog about on-the-field events, too. Even after reading this witty explanation of cricket, though, I still don't think I understand things well enough to write intelligently about actual matches. Sigh.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Did I start the Waddling ThunderJMB feud? After all, I seem to have played a role in "introducing" the two. But it's not really much of a feud, just a good hearty debate. And, hey, I won't be your Yoko Ono, anyway. (No, I have no idea what that really means, but I'll take just about any chance to work in a Dar Williams reference.)
Can you stand one final post (for now) about the Davis Cup? Three things strike me about the non-U.S. results. First, the Swiss come-from-behind win was awfully impressive, coming against the favored Dutch in Holland. Second, Gustavo Kuerten seems to be back from injury. He won a singles match and a doubles match for Brazil, falling only in a five-set match to Jonas Bjorkman on the final day. But for Bjorkman, Kuerten would have nearly singlehandedly carried his team through to the quarterfinals. Finally, I have to say how impressed I was by the Argentine team and, in particular, by David Nalbandian. After his unexpected run to the finals of last year's Wimbledon, Nalbandian could have settled back into obscurity. (Anyone remember Chris Lewis?) He made the quarters at this year's Australian Open, and he participated in two of Argentina's five(!) wins over Germany. I'm a fan.
How did I miss this? The first notes in a 639-year piece for organ were played last week (link via Dave Barry's Bloghee). It's a John Cage piece, of course.
Recriminations, anyone? In the days and weeks ahead, American tennis fans will undoubtedly try to place blame for the debacle in Croatia. We simply didn't field our best team, and that—of course—is nothing new. Our best team would have included Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick and, probably, a team of doubles specialists. Roddick is injured, and that's more than a fair reason not to play. Agassi, though, simply opted not to play. It's certainly easy to see why the 32-year-old Agassi is selective about what he puts his body through these days. But I might have thought that a sticky first-round Davis Cup match, at a time when other top American players were unavailable, would have seemed important enough to Agassi—who was once a stalwart for the U.S. Davis Cup team—to play.

After Roddick and Agassi, the likely candidates are Pete Sampras and players like James Blake and Mardy Fish. Sampras has played for the U.S. team more recently than Agassi, but it's no secret that he's not in top form right now. That, I think, put the onus more squarely on Agassi.

Could a U.S. team led by Agassi and Blake have defeated the Croatians? I think there's no doubt that the answer to that question is yes. Agassi, who is tops in the world right now, surely would have won two singles match. And, as we know, Blake was able to win one singles match. With a competent doubles team (how about the Bryans, currently ranked in the Top 10?), instead of two singles players forced to play together, the U.S. might have even won four of the five rubbers.

What is the role of Captain Patrick McEnroe in all this? I have no idea. Over the years, top players have evaded the entreaties of several different captains. If there is anyone who could have gotten Agassi to play in Zagreb, he should be captain. My only real quibble with Patrick McEnroe—aside from his often vapid work as a color commentator on TV—is his repeated strategy of whipping up unlikely doubles pairings for Davis Cup ties. But it's hard to imagine how any "real" U.S. doubles team would have made a difference this year in Croatia.

It's all over. Croatia has won the Davis Cup tie with the United States. In the first of the reverse singles matches, Ivan Ljubicic—who won every match he played—defeated James Blake, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3. Tiny Croatia moves on to the Davis Cup quarterfinals; it will meet heavyweight Spain in April. The U.S. will have to survive a relegation match in September to remain in the top group in 2004.

In the largely irrelevant final match of the tie with Croatia, the U.S. has replaced Mardy Fish with Taylor Dent.

UPDATE: Croatian Mario Ancic defeated Dent, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, in the final match, shortened to three sets because of its irrelevancy. The third-set tiebreaker went to 12-10.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Too much too soon? Former No. 1 Martina Hingis has all but formally retired, it seems. Hingis was just 16 when she won her first of five Grand Slam singles titles in 1997.
Davis Cup News: The Croatian team of Goran Ivanisevic and Ivan Ljubicic has just defeated James Blake and Mardy Fish, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4. The match—they call it a rubber in Davis Cup, strangely—was all even at 4-all in the fifth set when the Croatians broke the Americans at love. Ljubicic served out the match. Now both Blake and Fish must win their reverse singles matches tomorrow for the U.S. to advance. That seems terribly unlikely.

UPDATE: Ivanisevic's effort was darn-near heroic. Wily, indeed.

Friday, February 07, 2003

The U.S. Davis Cup team today split the first-day singles in its tie with Croatia. As I expected, James Blake defeated Mario Ancic, while Ivan Ljubicic handled American Mardy Fish. Both were straight-set affairs. The doubles tomorrow will be hugely important. If the Croatians win (and, as I suggested yesterday, that's not at all unlikely), then it will probably come down to the Fish-Ancic reverse singles on Sunday. Fish is probably not even a better singles player, and Ancic will have the hometown crowd behind him. In Davis Cup, home-field advantage is often key. I'm back to being pessimistic about the American team's chances.
I am so over winter. My neighborhood got about eight inches of snow overnight and into early afternoon today. I need a warm getaway. Soon.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

This isn't a done deal? Total bummer, man.
Well-deserved: The Israeli-Pakistani doubles team of Amir Hadad and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi today garnered the ATP's Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. There wasn't a better story in the game last year than their unlikely partnership.
Just when she was getting good in the booth, Chris Evert leaves NBC. Random aside: Mary Carillo is still the best commentator in the game.
I'm all about the tennis today. And probably all through the weekend, too. Tomorrow, the U.S. Davis Cup tie against Croatia begins. The U.S. is not fielding its best team (do we ever?), but I'm not as pessimistic as I was. James Blake leads the team, and he should win his two singles matches. Mardy Fish can surely win just one of his singles matches to clinch the tie. I'm not optimistic about the chances of the Blake-Fish doubles team, though. Wily veteran Goran Ivanisevic could easily be a force of nature in the Saturday doubles.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Ok, my interest is piqued. I've praised Jon Wertheim's weekly Tennis Mailbag column for before. This week's column is especially good, too. But I'm pointing it out here because Wertheim notes the "curious omission" of tennis great Stefan Edberg from this year's class of International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees. (The 2003 class included Boris Becker, Nancy Richey, and Françoise Durr.) I hadn't even realized that Edberg was eligible this year.

Perhaps the Hall just didn't want to upstage either Becker or Edberg with the other superstar's presence? Both clearly deserve spots in the Hall. Each captured six Grand Slam titles and was hugely popular in the 1980s and 1990s. I'll be interested to learn what the story is.

UPDATE: An Edberg fan site is, um, not happy about the "snub." The situation truly is perplexing.

Yes, I'm now meta-blogging here. In an interesting post, Eugene Volokh, the ringmaster at The Volokh Conspiracy, defends his blog's multi-blogger philosophy. When I first started visiting Volokhia regularly, I was a bit baffled by all of the different bloggers and couldn't quite figure out their relationships, if any, to one another. (That was before there were 11 coconspirators!) With some time, of course, it all started making better sense. And there is something to what Volokh has to say: Most visitors are probably looking for sites that have a good quantity of high-quality posts every day. I can definitely see that it's easier to produce a site with good quantity and quality when there are several contributors who can interact. That said, though, having gotten a pretty good feel for most of the various coconspirators, I'm pretty uninterested in what anybody there, save Eugene and Sasha, has to say. But I have no illusion that I'm a representative visitor.

Monday, February 03, 2003

I promised just a couple of days ago to write more about whether people end up in law school because they've already lost idealism or whether law school causes law students to lose idealism. It's some of both, of course. Alice at a mad tea-party had a few relevant thoughts over the weekend. I may still write more about this at some point, I think, but here's what I was thinking. First, some people go to law school because they aren't passionate about any other particular career goal. Among this group are some who are genuinely interested in social issues and current events but nevertheless have no real life plans. (That was me, by the way.) Second, law school itself has a way of purging some of the passion from law students. There is something about systematically immersing yourself in cases and study that causes the world to look very, um, legalistic and narrow. What once would have seemed a straightforward issue of right vs. wrong becomes, after law school, a question of what the correct "answer" to a legal question is—on the basis of precedent, history, policy, and the like. At a minimum, the good law student is able to see how different persons might reasonably resolve the same issue in different ways. From there, it's a short cognitive distance to seeing several different resolutions of an issue to be morally equivalent/interchangeable. In the end, I think, grown-up lawyers often do seem a little bit detached or jaded. As a group, we began with less direction than we might have, and then we were exposed to a process that stripped some of our idealism away. The question for grown-up lawyers, then, is whether the result is something to be happy about and, if not, whether idealism can be rekindled.
The Collapse of Inconvenience: Yesterday's Boston Globe Magazine included this very thorough look (link via Arts & Letters Daily) at Google. My favorite part: A professor of culture and communication called attention to the "collapse of inconvenience" precipitated by the search engine. Before Google, there was embarrassing information about many of us somewhere out there, but it was too inconvenient for acquaintances to find. Now that much of this information is there for anyone to view, some realize just how much they'd relied on that inconvenience.

By the way, Google sounds like a great place to work, doesn't it?

Did you catch's Super Bowl commercial? (If not, you can find it here.) Well, the American Trucking Associations did not see humor (scroll down to the third story).

RANDOM ASIDE: My favorite Super Bowl Commercial was the Budweiser spot featuring the zebra checking out the instant replay for the Clydesdales. It's also available here. And, hey, that was also the top pick in USA Today's Ad Meter.

Still newsworthy: Did Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas pad his résumé? A new biography says yes.

UPDATE: Here's a picture of Justice Douglas's marker at Arlington National Cemetery. The new biography suggests that the marker contains a misstatement. I'm going to reserve judgment.

Sam Heldman's fine blog Ignatz is sporting a new look today. Heldman says it may be temporary, so check it out now. I sort of like it, but—on my monitor, anyway—the archived posts look a little busy.

I thoroughly enjoy Ignatz, despite its focus on labor law—something I never really encounter in either my work or my personal life. The blog is well-written, often provocative, and occasionally funny. (No particular endorsement, or non-endorsement, of Heldman's legal views is intended here, of course.) It takes me back to what was one of my favorite courses in law school. (Thanks, Professor Friedman.) In fact, after my second year of law school, I had a chance to intern at a National Labor Relations Board regional office. I opted for something completely different. If I'd chosen the NLRB office, Ignatz might be a lot more relevant to my work life today....

The bad news about the space shuttle clouded my weekend (and yours, too, I'm sure). But I did find some other news in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer to be of interest. As someone who commutes on an Amtrak-owned track, this article on the railroad's president and financial crisis was information I needed to read. I remembered that Serbia had had two inconclusive presidential elections last year, but I didn't really know what that would mean for its presidency. The answer: Serbia's parliamentary speaker, a 37-year-old woman, has taken over as acting president. If you've been paying any attention at all to my Sunday reading habits, you know that I enjoy the Sunday feature on the "unusual" locale. Well, this week, the locale was French Guiana. French Guiana, an "overseas department" of—duh—France, is a place I've never given much thought. The article prompted me to price flights to Cayenne on Travelocity. It actually seemed to be more feasible and cost-effective to fly via Paris than Miami. Unfortunately, I doubt any of my usual traveling partners would be game. Any other volunteers?

On the sports page, I enjoyed this look at the possibility that LPGA superstar Annika Sorenstam may play with the men at a PGA event.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

That last post reminded me to check on the dates for the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. This year's top event in dogdom happens on February 10-11. USA Network's coverage of the show is always strangely compelling.
This post is sponsored by the big puppy who lives with me: The New Yorker has a thoughtful essay precipitated by a recent book about dogs—or, really, the history of dogs. The book is Stanley Coren's The Pawprints of History. I have a feeling that Larissa MacFarquhar's review might actually be more interesting than the book itself. (link via Arts & Letters Daily)
I swear I'm not as burned out as this post suggests. Waddling Thunder, a law school blogger, began a post this week with a great quote from The Simpsons: I don't believe in anything anymore! I'm going to law school.

There's quite a bit of truth in that Simpsons quote, I think. Probably more than Thunder wants to believe. When I have more time (i.e., when it's not the middle of the night), I'll try to write more about this. I definitely think it's true, though, that (i) many good lawyers ended up in law school mostly because they had no other real life missions and (ii) the experience of law school somehow leaves many of those lawyers feeling less passionate about social issues.


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