Law is more art than science. Yet the law adds to and subtracts from its knowledge base, like science, and relies on scientific findings for guidance.
So observes Faigman (Law/Univ. of California, Hastings; Legal Alchemy, not reviewed), noting that the layers of science that run through American case law produce sometimes puzzling results: “The Constitution . . . is a strange admixture of abiding fundamental values and archaic and obsolete natural philosophy,” and “the Supreme Court adheres to constitutional doctrine sometimes in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” Even so, Faigman adds, the flexibility of the Constitution allows for endless new layerings. Thus, even as vestiges of the anthropology that defended slaveholding in the Dred Scott case—and that made Thomas Jefferson wonder whether he were right in the matter of “all men are created equal”—continue to float about in the depths of the law, contemporary jurists draw on the latest sociological findings of the role of race in, say, educational attainment to argue playing field–leveling programs pro and con. Thus, too, Justice Stevens was recently moved to remark that “if a constitutional rule is premised on empirical facts, then the rule should change when the facts, or our knowledge of the facts, change,” concurring with Justice O’Connor’s hopeful determination that while today using race to balance student-body composition is necessary, “twenty-five years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interests approved today.” (Notes Faigman, “It will be the social scientists of 2028 who will tell us whether Justice O’Connor’s prediction has come true.”) The law’s admission of and reliance on science—especially statistics, that most empirical of disciplines—is sometimes a source of conflict. An even greater conflict, Faigman argues, is the failure of the Court to develop a “set or systematic criteria by which to measure constitutional facts”: that is, to develop a science of its own.
A diffusive, but always interesting, exploration of science in the law.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)