Archive for January, 2010

DC Trip

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

As I await for code to run, thought I would post something.  Just a rundown of a good week, so maybe not be the most interesting.  But my blog, my rules.

Right now Princeton in is on “intersession.”  Basically the week between first and second semester (yes, second semester hasn’t started yet).  SLU played at GW this week, so I decided to make a midweek trip to DC.

I went down Tuesday morning.  Got to DC.  I never really had favorite DC restaurants, so to have a meal I missed, I went to a hot dog vendor I always used to go to and had a half smoke with cheese and hot sauce.  Ate in Marvin Center (GW’s version of a student union) and headed over to the political science department.

There I got to see Sarah (GW Adviser) and a few other professors.  It was simply nice to sit down and catch up a little, and I received a little advice about how to handle academic things.  I don’t know if it is because they are from the same department, but advice was similar regarding a variable I wasn’t weighing as much.   GW’s professors have always been good to me (there is one I think that doesn’t like me much, but I concede it is deserved as I was stubborn when in their class).  In a sign of good meetings, things ran over and I was a little late getting to my old work at the DLCC.

At the DLCC, Matt (communications director and now the manager of DLCCWeb) and I went downstairs to a bar and got a couple of beers.  We talked DLCCWeb, DLCC, and updates in life.  There were positives and of course some negatives.  However once again in a sign of a good conversation, we ran long.  So I didn’t get to catch up with others at the DLCC.

I then met a Princeton friend, Jeff.  We grabbed a beer and then dinner in Gallery Place.  We talked some shop, but the conversation was dominated by just life conversation.  Sometimes in the academic world, it is hard to get away from inside baseball.  I wish Jeff was still at Princeton, but he is happy in DC.  It again was good to catch up a bit.  We walked to GW to get my car, I dropped him off at his car, and then I finally made it to Nathan and Jessica’s (I went to GW with Jessie, and Nathan and I were roommates my last year in DC).  Nathan played some video games and Jessie studied Milton for her oral exam tomorrow as we caught up.

The next morning, I went back to the DLCC to see the people I missed.  There I was introduced to the new DLCC Field Director, and she told me about a conference the next day that tied together campaign and academic politics.  Basically a number of presentations of experiments done by campaigns.  They invited me to come, and I said I would think about it.

I then had lunch with Jessie at Fuddruckers, talking about school, friends weddings, etc.  Then downed a few pitchers with Nathan before heading to SLU v. GW.  I was in GW gear, but instincts sometimes take over.  I went to a SLU Alumni reception where I got to see my old friend Greg from Billikens.com.  We had a few drinks, talked basketball, work, Billikens.com.  The university president of SLU, Father Biondi, was there who I met for the first time.  I won a hat and got a cup that changes colors.

SLU played a good game for about 36 minutes, then pretty much blew it.  Greg and I sat down behind the bench with the Father right behind us.  SLU lost in overtime after being ahead by about 13 points.  The team is young, but it was a disappointing loss for them.  However it was fun to be back in the Smith Center.

The next day I went to the conference at the AFL-CIO.  It was well done, and it generated a few research ideas.  One of the things I worry about by being away from DC is that some of my best research ideas come from professional politics conversations.  So I hope to keep as many ties to the beltway as I can.  Not only to maintain friendships, but to maintain a grasp on what is going on in elections and campaigns.  It was amusing though, since one of the presenters was someone who I knew from Princeton.  It was just a complete blending of the two sides of politics in my life.

By staying an extra day, that gave me the opportunity to have dinner with Vicky and her gentleman, who are a happy couple.  I also learned Vicky has the power to rename streets in the database Google Maps pulls from, which I find to be kinda awesome.

I swung back to Jessie and Nathan’s, where we all procrastinated a bit.  I headed back to Princeton that night.

Overall it was a pretty nice trip.  While I didn’t see as many GW folk as I would like, it was a week full of  college friends, SLU Basketball, Academia, and professional politics. Probably one of my best trips back to DC.

Orthogonal

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Supreme Court Justices, law professor play with words
Tuesday, January 12, 2010; A03

Supreme Court justices deal in words, and they are always on the lookout for new ones.

University of Michigan law professor Richard D. Friedman discovered that Monday when he answered a question from Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, but added that it was “entirely orthogonal” to the argument he was making in Briscoe v. Virginia.

Friedman attempted to move on, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. stopped him.

“I’m sorry,” Roberts said. “Entirely what?”

“Orthogonal,” Friedman repeated, and then defined the word: “Right angle. Unrelated. Irrelevant.”

“Oh,” Roberts replied.

Friedman again tried to continue, but he had caught the interest of Justice Antonin Scalia, who considers himself the court’s wordsmith. Scalia recently criticized a lawyer for using “choate” to mean the opposite of “inchoate,” a word that has created a debate in the dictionary world.

“What was that adjective?” Scalia asked Monday. “I liked that.”

“Orthogonal,” Friedman said.

“Orthogonal,” Roberts said.

“Orthogonal,” Scalia said. “Ooh.”

Friedman seemed to start to regret the whole thing, saying the use of the word was “a bit of professorship creeping in, I suppose,” but Scalia was happy.

“I think we should use that in the opinion,” he said.

“Or the dissent,” added Roberts, who in this case was in rare disagreement with Scalia.

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