Thursday, March 23, 2017

Several Better and More "Pleasant" Things to Do with One's Time Than Picking on Chevron, Ranked in Order of How Much Better and More Pleasant They Are

1. Watching Gene Kelly in The Young Girls of Rochefort.

2.  Reading the new Library of America edition of the collected writings of the best American writer of fiction of the twentieth century, Jane Bowles (nee Auer, so you know she's a good egg), particularly Two Serious Ladies and "Camp Cataract."  For example:
"Have you put on fat?" Sadie asked, at a loss for anything else to say.
"I'll never be fat," Harriet replied quickly.  "I'm a fruit lover, not a lover of starches."
"Yes, you love fruit," Sadie said nervously.  "Do you want some?  I have an apple left from my lunch."
Harriet looked aghast.  "Now!" she exclaimed.  "Beryl can tell you that I never eat at night. . ."
Or if you like a good menacing passage about corn on the cob:
Sadie bent down to adjust her cotton stockings, which were wrinkling badly at the ankles, and when she straightened up again her eyes lighted on three men dining very near the edge of the terrace; she had not noticed them before.  They were all eating corn on the cob and big round hamburger sandwiches in absolute silence.  To protect their clothing from spattering kernels, they had converted their napkins into bibs. 
. . .
"I don't like men," Sadie announced without venom, and she was about to follow Harriet when her attention was arrested by the eyes of the man nearest her.  Slowly lowering his corn cob to his plate, he stared across at her, his mouth twisted into a bitter smile.  She stood as if rooted to the ground, and under his steady gaze all her newborn joy rapidly drained away.
Or if you're in the market for something really tragic:
She was suffering as much as she had ever suffered before, because she was going to do what she wanted to do.  But it would not make her happy.  She did not have the courage to stop from doing what she wanted to do.  She knew that it would not make her happy, because only the dreams of crazy people come true.  She thought that she was only interested in duplicating a dream, but in doing so she necessarily became the complete victim of a nightmare 
3.  Re-reading (if first reading, start with this before Bowles) Henry James's The Golden Bowl, particularly the part where Maggie sees her husband playing cards with her father, who's married to her husband's lover, and realizes that "the full significance" of their interaction "could be no more, after all, than a matter of interpretation, differing always for a different interpreter," and realizing that so too the meaning of an ambiguous organic statute can be no more than a matter of interpretation, differing always for a different interpreter.

4. Re-reading (or first reading) Henry James's "The Jolly Corner," especially the first sentence where Brydon complains that everyone asks him what he "thinks" of everything, and remarking that even if he could answer, "my 'thoughts' would still be almost altogether about something that concerns only myself," and recognizing that this passage neatly doubles as a description of the station of the federal judge pre-Chevron.  (But have no fear, corpus linguistics will save us!) 

5.  Spending a diverting afternoon noodling around with a linguistic corpus and learning fun things about contemporary usage while discovering that corpora don't actually tell you much about what words in a statute mean, just mostly irrelevant at best (and highly misleading at worst) usage patterns.  Feeling grateful that not enough people actually use linguistic corpora yet for your test-drive to have cost you anything.

6.  Taking the multi-jurisdictional surveys of how the fifty states define "sexual abuse" in Esquivel-Quintana, neatly folding them into paper planes, and tossing them around Central Park or the National Mall on a sunny spring day. 

7.  Giving an ant or worm a gentle ride on one of the paper planes and arguing with your non-lawyer friends over whether the planes have become vehicles in the park.

8.  Thinking about how awesome it is that the Board of Immigration Appeals gives everyone fair notice of which offenses are deemed aggravated felonies for deportation purposes and collateral criminal purposes by announcing nationally uniform definitions of the aggravated felonies in published opinions and posting those opinions on the DOJ website, complete with super-clear, super-short headnotes at the top of their opinions that they write themselves.  Wishing that figuring out what terms in criminal statutes meant (or parsing Supreme Court opinions) were always so easy.  Getting so frustrated that this is somehow viewed as a notice problem that you get distracted from and have to reheat your dinner several times.

9.  Watching the ending of Au hasard Balthazar (AKA, "the world in an hour and a half") in an attempt to convince yourself that there are sadder things in life than Chevron being overruled; getting really depressed from watching it but failing to convince yourself that even the ending of Au hasard Balthazar is sadder than Chevron being overruled on account of Balthazar's at least getting to die while being surrounded by a lot of cute sheep.  Realizing that when Chevron is overruled, there will be no cute sheep, only judges striking down the USDA's already toothless Animal Welfare Act regulations and immiserating cute sheep, ligers, and other kindly animals everywhere.

10.  "Operating" a trailer in subzero weather by driving away from it as fast as possible. Very "unpleasant," but not so unpleasant as . . .

11.  Listening to "Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift, Adele, OneRepublic, Bruno Mars, etc." and still somehow maintaining the intellectual heft and grace to write a line like "the interpretation of an ambiguous statute is an exercise in policy formulation rather than in reading."

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