Happy Thanksgiving! In no particular order, here are a few things I’ve been enjoying:

  • Hyemin Han’s play-by-play of the D.C. Circuit argument in the Trump gag order case. Credit to longtime De Novo favorite Judge Millett for this hypo: ““Okay. But he can’t say that that person is an ‘un-truth speaker’?”
  • Jeannie Suk Gersen’s take on SCOTUS’s Code of Conduct: “It is not a set of rules designed to redress past ethical breaches and prevent future ones but rather a defense brief arguing that there have been no ethical breaches to redress and prevent.” It was also fun to watch Brother Emmert’s enthusiasm for the Code of Ethics to slowly drain out of his post.
  • Noah Feldman’s Divided By God: America’s Church-State Problem–And What We Should Do About It. This 2006 book is a little dated, but it offers a great overview of church and state law through the turn of the century. Would love to see an update covering the past few decades.
  • John Hart Ely’s Democracy and Distrust. A friend gave me this book. It’s very persuasive in tearing down theories of constitutional interpretation, maybe a little less so in building one up.
  • The debate over critical race theory seems to have summoned Duncan Kennedy back from his parallel universe? Here he is on a podcast that sounds like it was recorded in the phantom zone. Whatever. My UVA kids will still have to read A Semiotics of Legal Argument next semester.
  • Tyler Cowen’s interview with Chuck Klosterman. I listened to this when it first came out (because The Nineties: A Book is amazing) and revisited it recently. To borrow a phase from Cowen, the interview is wonderful throughout, but it has one of my favorite thoughts from the whole year: the real risk you need to hedge against is premature death.

KLOSTERMAN: It might be, though, just what your personality is like. There’s a certain personality whose goal seems to be to make more money, and my personality is, “Don’t lose the money you’ve made.” I seem so lucky to have had things work out the way they have. My fear always is that, in the end, I’m going to have nothing again. Somehow, I’m going to have put all this time in, and done all of these things to accumulate this wealth that seemed absolutely unfathomable to me for most of my life, but somehow, I’m going to end up exactly the way I started.

COWEN: It’s not going to happen unless you blow it through some weird addiction. I would say high-quality real estate and cheap hobbies[1] — I’m sure you have at least one of those right now, probably both — are the best hedges. You’ve got them. Take more risk.


COWEN: You are human capital, right? No one can touch that, short of you destroying yourself or just dying. The more money you spend . . . like spending money is insuring against an early death, because if I hit 96 years old and I’m broke, I’m like, “Oh my goodness. I made it to 96. I can at least read Wikipedia every day. This is still pretty awesome.”

KLOSTERMAN: Do you have kids? Oh, you did, you said that.

COWEN: Yes. She’s a huge fan of yours. She just had a daughter, a baby girl — beautiful. I can enjoy her for free. I’m hedged. The real risk is premature death, in my view. You want to do things that are fun now, so if you die when you’re 63, you still will feel, “I got my stuff in,” whatever that’s going to be, and I bet you do that.

Here’s to real estate and cheap hobbies! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

[1] Elsewhere in the podcast: “You can have cheap hobbies, watch basketball, enjoy the internet, listen to your music till you die.”