(H/T: Prof. Kerr)
Saturday, December 31, 2005
(H/T: Prof. Kerr)
STAY IN BOUNDS, DAMN YOU
Morrison update to come, plus my thoughts on 'Zona/Washington.
Friday, December 30, 2005
It's not just active COINTELPRO style political spying, it's dumbass stuff like this:
A document on the Justice Department Executive Office for Immigration Review's site listed the name and Social Security number of a woman involved in a 2003 immigration review case. Other searches of the site yielded more Social Security numbers and identifying information.But if l33t haXors don't Pwn my SSN and what not, the terrorists win.
Edit: RIA informs me that the last line doesn't really make sense. I guess I agree. I mean to say that if you want me to 'trust you' with my privacy, you have to not make it obvious that said privacy is a joke to you. The two stories are related only in they demonstrate a certainly carelessness that I find unsettling. Hopefully that clarifies things...
Thursday, December 29, 2005
The researchers tracked three browsers (MSIE, Firefox, Opera) in 2004 and counted which days they were "known unsafe." Their definition of "known unsafe": a remotely exploitable security vulnerability had been publicly announced and no patch was yet available.That is mind-boggling.
MSIE was 98% unsafe. There were only 7 days in 2004 without an unpatched publicly disclosed security hole.
Firefox was 15% unsafe. There were 56 days with an unpatched publicly disclosed security hole. 30 of those days were a Mac hole that only affected Mac users. Windows Firefox was 7% unsafe.
- Via the official sister of WAPtm, Peanut Butter-Jelly Time. Which also gives me an excuse to say Victory is Mine!
- While watching the Pistons and Heat (thankfully neither squad is wearing throwbacks), I've decided that as far as fan involvement gimmicks go, "DEE-TROIT basket-BALL" is alright. Certainly better than Thundestix, miles ahead of "Who's Your Daddy?" but perhaps not quite as cool as "You'll Never Walk Alone" or (my personal favorite) the All Blacks Haka.
- Speaking of NBA hoops, the Pistons are good. Very good. And now that Flip is actually letting them play on offense, they are fun to watch as well. At least three of their starters are significantly better than their modest stats would suggest - 'Sheed, Prince and, most especialy, Chauncey Billups. Somehow, some have suggested that Gilbert Arenas is better than Billups. Of course, Tim Legler is comparing Arenas to KB8, so the disease is apparently spreading.
- FWIW, the new Rolling Stones Album, "A Bigger Bang" is quite good. But the "Rareties" is spectacular. Mick strutting to "Mannish Boy" and the live "Beast of Burden" are great, but the best song is almost gospel take on "Tumbling Dice".
- Finally, a quick movie pick "Serenity", the film sequel to the "Firefly" series. As this review notes, Serenity is far closer in spirit or tone to the original Star Wars than any of the three steaming piles of digitally-enhanced dung (with some redeeming
Natalie Portmanqualities) George Lucas has shovelled out. Fox is showing a disturbing habit of developing and then cancelling the better shows on network TV - Family Guy, Arrested Development, etc.
I mean, now that I know that Sacco & Vanzetti did it, I'll believe anything.
Actually, I can make the case that prohibition was a net positive. Absent prohibition, the mob would have had a hard time gaining a real foothold in the country. Without them, we don't have Charlie Lucchiano (no, not Larry Lucchino, though he should sleep with the fishes...) or Meyer Lansky. One of their guys was Benjamin Siegel (a.k.a. "Bugsy"). Bugsy built the Flamingo in the desert. Ergo, prohibition created Vegas. For that, all I can say is "Thank You, Women's Christian Temperance Union!"
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
In the scene where Mary and Joseph arrive at the Inn, Mary asks the Innkeeper, played by a lad of seven, if he has any room. "Yes", he says. "Mary, you can come in, but Joseph, you can fuck off".
In the stunned silence that followed, it transpired that the Innkeeper had played Joseph himself the previous year and had taken his 'demotion' very much to heart.
We aim to tackle the human habit of automatically absorbing our surroundings without actually perceiving them.but their stuff sure is stylish:
Our product ranges enable the viewer to realize relevant social developments through intelligent, entertaining design
They put the razor-sharp in razor-wire:
And my favorite, the Couching Kitty, Hidden Camera:
(HT: The SlatRat)
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Seems straightforward right. Except, what the hell does the average person polled know about either lawsuits or health care costs? Not to mention you might be suggesting an answer by saying 'frivolous lawsuits'. I'm not taking a position on this particular issue (it's complicated...), it's just that Pols like to trot out poll results in support of saying 'the American people want X' and I happened to see this ad today... The American people will (and have) support a ham sandwich if you frame the issue right. Enough with the polling, more with the governing already.
Second. The 'Stache is just awesome.
Third. Memphis is good. Teams with a good PG and 4 other guys who are 6'8" and can run and jump are always tough outs (see Washington last year).
20 minutes to go, this is why I love college hoops.
2nd half-update: Meh. Well, I said Memphis was good. Washington and Williams can play a bit too, I suppose. And The 'Stache had 34 on a 'quiet' night...
Monday, December 26, 2005
#1 - Kerfluffle - Not only do I dislike the word for aesthetic reasons, I find that it is used to dismiss the signifigance of any inconvenient dispute. I move that the word be moved back where it rightly belongs - to discuss feuds between some combination of Lindsay Lohan, Matt Leinart, Taradise, Hillary Duff, Collin Farrell and Talan from Laguna Beach.
#2 - References to Captain Renault - Yes, we know, you are shocked, shocked to find out that X has done Y. It was still funny the 573rd time, but it's getting old.
#3 - Sarcasm that ends with "because then the terrorists win" or "why do you hate America?" - Actually, scratch that, there's still comedy to be mined from those two.
#4 - Any mention of "K-Fed's" rapping career. Look into my eyes. It. Never. Happened.
#5 - Kobe's leggings. Unless he adds legwarmers. Some people have BDS (Bush Derrangement Syndrome) I have KDS. I can't remember the last player I liked to see lose more, and that includes Slappy. (And for what it's worth, The Glove looked downright frisky yesterday. If GP can do that come April/May, Heat-Spurs in the finals.
Four Jobs I've Had in My Life: Law Clerk, Records Temp, Dot.Com Start-up Grunt, Economics Tutor
Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over: Tombstone, Fight Club, Heartbreak Ridge, A Few Good Men.
Four Places I've Lived:Anchorage, AK; Northfield, MN; Minneapolis, MN and Cambridge, UK.
Four TV Shows I Love to Watch: Sportscenter (non-Stuyah editions), Lost, Boondocks and
Four Places I've Been On Vacation: Vegas baby; London; Zagreb, Croatia (was still Yugo at the time); Binder Lake, MN.
Four Websites I Visit Daily: Althouse, Volokh, Either End of the Curve, Hit and Run.
Four of My Favorite Foods: Wings 'n' Things (best wings west of Buffalo. I shit you not;) Pepporoni Pizza; Chicken Massumun Curry; the cornbread muffins at Famous Dave's.
Four Places I'd Rather Be: Fenway; it being Monday night as I write this, Sally's in Dinkytown; Vegas; Bed.
Four Albums I can't Live Without PE's Apocalypes 91; U2 All that You Can't Leave Behind (unless the iTunes "Complete U2" counts, obviously); Clapton From the Cradle; Led Zep pick any of 1-3.
No passing along since most of the people I would tag, I tagged last week. (But, Some people haven't responded yet, so Will, here is chance number 2 for you...)
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Second, to paraphrase, just because people are being paranoid, doesn't mean that they aren't after them.
As I said over there, I don't feel people on either side of this debate have a great handle on the crux of the issue. As to the legal analysis, I don't feel like repeating it, but I.M. Kierkagaard has been keeping a link repository, so start there. The one I tend to agree with most is Orin Kerr's, (and if you read Krauthammer's WaPo column, Kerr's piece is a must as Krauthammer selectively quotes his way to a completely different conclusion than reached by Kerr, but selective quotation seems to be par for the course on this whole issue.)
The problem is this - the President has wide-ranging, perhaps plenary, power over certain matters. In order to ensure that those powers are not exceeded, the other branches must monitor and oversee. But that very oversight serves as a limit on the unlimitable. In order for such intractable problems not to arise, a certain degree of self-restraint is neccesary. As George Will eloquently put it:
Charles de Gaulle, a profound conservative, said of another such, Otto von Bismarck -- de Gaulle was thinking of Bismarck not pressing his advantage in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian War -- that genius sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. In peace and in war, but especially in the latter, presidents have pressed their institutional advantages to expand their powers to act without Congress. This president might look for occasions to stop pressing.
More specifically, the President probably has unlimited power to conduct surveilance and searches on actual suspected terrorists, while he has no power to do the same to U.S. citizens who are not, sans warrant. The key point is the determination as to who is 'an actual terrorist suspect'. If this determination is solely left to executive discretion, that power has no effective check. On the other hand, judicial or congressional oversight over this determination inherently cabins the power to surveil actual terrorists - he has to make a showing (72 hours after the fact, mind you) that he has identified legitimate targets.
My skepticism over the whole affair is two-fold. First, I do not trust this administration. I did not like them from the start for policy reasons, and they've done very little in five years to convince me otherwise. I feel that making political issues out of real security concerns is shameful (a shame to be shared across the spectrum, but the party in power bears the brunt, IMO). Secondly, I would be much more favorably inclined towards these claims of neccesary power if they were working harder to demonstrate neccesity. As Kevin Drum notes,
This is the most infuriating aspect of George Bush's approach to terrorism: that he treats it as a partisan weapon instead of a genuinely serious business. Chemical plants really are a prime target for terrorists, but Dick Cheney doesn't want to annoy his corporate pals, so EPA's plans to address it get shelved. WMD counterproliferation really is important, but it's not very sexy and doesn't serve any partisan ends since Democrats support it too. So it's ignored and underfunded. Detention of enemy combatants when the enemy is an amorphous group like al-Qaeda is a genuinely vexing issue that deserves a serious bipartisan airing, but the Justice Department treats it like a child's game, inviting barely concealed rage from a conservative judge who thought this was supposed to be life-and-death stuff.I'm not sure if Drum is accurate in his assesment, but it sure looks that way at times. And given that appearance, claims of neccesity begin to look like transparent attempts at a power grab - not aided by Gonzales's and Co.'s novel approaches to certain legal issues, or shoehorning War on Drugs anti-meth provisions into the PATRIOT act. So, as I said yesterday, try harder, and then come ask for more if you need it.
11) The Ying Yang Twins - For pairing the thickest beat of the year with the foulest lyrics since Luke Campbell hung up his mic. One of those songs you hear in the background and start nodding to subconsciously and then, all of a sudden "Wait til you see my... WHAT?" (boom-Boom-BOOM, BOOM-Boom-boom. Good, now the beat is stuck in your head too. Like damn-damn-damn-damn... I CAN'T MAKE IT STOP...)
Friday, December 23, 2005
So, here goes.
1) Dubya. I could go of on a long-winded diatribe, but it's all been said. Often. Really, all I can add is "try harder".
2) Shills of all shape and size. Be yee Kos, PowerLine or just what Steve H. might call "PajoompaLoompas". I'll echo the "try harder" bit from above. Try harder to think for yourself. Try harder to think before you talk. Try harder to listen. Try harder to be as skeptical of things said by those you agree with as you are of those you don't. Accept being wrong. It happens to the rest of you from time to time...
3) Larry Luchinno. Jackass. You won, once, and are in full Huizenga scorched-earth mode now. Well done.
4) Sony and the RIAA. Putting the (my) "comp"(uter) in your incompetence. Whatever happened to 'you break it, you buy it?' And the RIAA, thanks for running creativity in main-stream music into the ground. I might just start having to listen to techno, just to hear some variety. Thanks for Ashleeeeeeeeeigh Simpson too.
5) Kaiser. You're a dumbass. (Edit: apparently people thought this was a bit strong. Fair enough. I accept your grievance that I am an asshole in my list of grievances. But since I've aired it now, I can let it go in one week and never grieve about it again.)
6) The producers of Lost. You have no idea where you are going and you are dragging me down with you. Stop it.
7) The Religious
8) Adam Morrison. Why oh why bring the sleaze-stache back? Other than that, keep doin' what you doin.
9) David Stern. Why institute a racist dress code and then let them wear pajamas on the court?
10) Blogging. Taking up all my time. At least when I was playing poker I was getting paid for it...
Thursday, December 22, 2005
"This decision is a poster child for a half-century secularist reign of terror that's coming to a rapid end with Justice Roberts and soon-to-be Justice Alito," said Richard Land, who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and is a political ally of White House adviser Karl Rove. "This was an extremely injudicious judge who went way, way beyond his boundaries -- if he had any eyes on advancing up the judicial ladder, he just sawed off the bottom rung."Yes, we know. And a tornado will wipe Dover from the map. On the other hand, I am 90% certain that the NSA is reading Judge Jones's email as we speak. Because as everyone knows, if you oppose ID, the terrorists win.
Update: (via John Cole): A federal prosecutor is looking into bringing perjury charges against certain defense witnesses:
U.S. Middle District Attorney Thomas A. Marino said yesterday that decision will take time because there is "a lot of reading to do" to determine if the statements rise to the level of a crime.And to complete my overwhelming schadenfreude about the whole thing:
"I want to question a couple of people who were present," he said. They will not include Judge John E. Jones III, who presided over the case, he said.
Witold Walczak, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented parents opposed to the policy, said any decision to bring perjury charges would be made by the prosecutor's office.That sounds like the ACLU is saying "sorry guys, you're on your own".
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Recently Judge Easterbrook (correctly) ruled that it is not a defense to copywrite infringement to claim you were acting in the best interests of the holder. That presents problems when the holder has completely lost sight of where its interests should lie. To quote Joel Jacobsen:
Just take a look at the archived press releases of the Recording Industry Association of America: "RIAA Praises Department of Justice, FBI and Nashville Police Department", "New York State Police Raid Local Warehouse", etc. When the recording industry praises cops rather than musicians, its problems go far beyond the capability of cops to solve.And this problem is that most music that gains wide airplay sucks. So in order to hear new music that we might like to buy, what options do we the consumer have but to download? Apple was the first to really address this, both by allowing generous samples on a-try-before-you buy basis, and allowing a la carte pricing. If iTunes had been available in the late 90's, I seriously doubt that Napsterization would have seemed such a big problem to Lars Ulrich. (Try making good music again. And for god's sake, don't ever cut your hair again...)
For some reason, they don't realise that things like mashups are good for them. I didn't buy The Black Album until I heard The Grey Album. Anyone who somehow hasn't heard American Idiot is probably going to get it after listening to American Edit. As Matt Yglesias says:
Preventing non-commercial mashups will obviously directly reduce the amount of quasi-original music out there by a huge amount if it's rigorously enforced. Permitting them, by contrast, could only have a tiny impact on artists' incentives to write songs. If anything, a good mashup like "A Stroke of Genius" is going to increase the Strokes' record sales.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The breathtaking inanity of the board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial . . . The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.As Clint Eastwood might say, "Don't go away mad. Just go away."
In reading the opinion, it is clear that the judge will be branded as an anti-religious activist. That is, if Pat Robertson fails to have him smitten from above. The fact that he is applying voluminous precedent invalidating "creation science" claptrap as state endorsement of religion will be ignored. Activism will once again mean "judgifying I don't like."
Incidentally, I was struck by something in the opinion. In Arkansas, it was illegal to teach evolution in public schools until 1968. 1968. That just blows my mind.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Bush needs the authority to do whatever is necessary to protect America. Bush, alone, has the knowledge and judgement to know what is necessary. Surely, the same Constitution, which gives him the sacred responsibility to protect America, gives him the authority to do whatever he judges to be necessary to that object, because, after all, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.Hold me.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Of course, the maxim to never suppose actual malice when mere incompetence is a sufficient explanation probably holds.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
At the moment, Microsoft is easily selling out the half-million or so Xbox 360 units (there's no official number) for prices starting at $300 for the basic package. Why doesn't Microsoft price them at $700 instead?
1. By charging $300 they could also be raising the long term competitve price - The first wave of vidiots (myself included) have a relative inelastic demand for the product and might have paid well up towards $700. If people see all that excess demand at $300, they intuitively feel that $300 is a reasonable price given that the 'competitve' ebay price is much higher. This has the effect of increasing demand. I think Pops felt better about paying $X for the opening day seats at Fenway this year when everyone around at the game us paid $2 or $3X.
Plus when they drop the price to $250 on Feb 1. (my guess, based on various store's return policies), it will seem like a steal.
2. They make their money on games, (and probably the online subscription service) not the console. Don't kid yourself, your Box XCosts $300 now plus $100 or so/month in games.
3. Any publicity is good publicity. "Just How Bad Will The Great XBOX Famine of '05 Get?" newspaper asks.
4. Relatedly, scarcity can create demand - lines outside clubs, full restaraunts etc. If people are willing to wait for it, it must be good right?
5. This being MS, there's a good chance the first iteration won't work. At all. There is a non-zero chance that many will be returned on Dec. 26.
6. Have another piece of cheese Mr. LabRat...
update: A commenter in the original thread reminds us that $300 doesn't really get you that much (1 controller, no game, NO BACKWARDS compatibility, not 'net functionality...
The final stat sheet will include Williams having 20 and 15 (plus 5 fouls) in 24 minutes
JJ will shoot 4-15, with 7 whiny faces made.
Paulus will pull a Wojo-double, 14 floor-slaps, 12 shots of hot-girlfriend in the stands and an astounding 24 group hugs at the FT line.
Meanwhile, Texas has the aforementioned 2 big dudes who can score (Aldridge and Tucker), and though their guards were AWFUL against Duke, the have the athleticism to not suck by March (Daniel Gipson was supposed to be good, he might still be, though getting tooled by The Great Paulus and Wayne Turner-reincarnate Sean Dockery certainly isn't a good sign.)
And of course, not 2 minutes after I post...yes, it has been noticed.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
If you aren't a contender, I'd absolutely trade for him. What do you care if he kills all his teammates? They weren't getting the job done, and presumably it would free up some salary [cap] space.
Hard to argue with that logic.
People also expressed concern about commercialization of the destruction of New York. But in King Kong, (light spoilers ahead) Kong wrecks most of Broadway, crushes cabs in Times Square and generally makes a mess of Manhattan. Not to mention the fact that the U.S. Army blows some stuff up - even firing a rocket launcher into a residential high rise. Yet this is all ok? Does the fact that it's fictional make it less exploitive? Just asking.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
So, Rules:"The first player of this game starts with the topic 'five weird habits of yourself,' and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don't forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says 'You are tagged' (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours."
1. I'm slightly twitchy: At restraunts, I rend my napkin (assuming it's paper. That would be a neat trick with cloth or linen), spin wine corks, tear off bear-bottle labels, etc.
2. Relatedly, when I'm thinking about something, but not doing anything, I get Spirit Fingers. (Incidentally, in looking up that item, I discovered that a kid I played hockey with growing up was in that movie. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
3. I can remember EVERY embarassing thing I've ever done or said. Call the third grade teacher "Mom" accidentally? Check. Accidentally copy a professor on an email mocking said professor? Check. Throw up at 99 during the century club? Check. (But hey, I rallied...)
4. I'm listening to DasEFX right now. Wrap your mind around that one.
5. And of course, the weirdest thing about me - I'm from Alaska and live there now. To preempt all silly questions. No, I don't own sled dogs. No, I do not live in an igloo. No, I was not raised by wolves. No, when I like a girl I don't just walk up and rub noses with her (though maybe I should try that one out, it might work better). Yes, it's really cold up here right now. Yes, the sun did come up today. No, I was not an extra on Northern Exposure, that
And the hard part. Which one, which one, where's my bitch?
1. Josh though I'd really LOVE to see Chix's answers.
2. RIA, because I'm curious.
3. Jake because stop studying, it's only law school.
4. Fletch, because I mess with Texas.
5. Steph. Anything to keep you from geo-cashblogging. (Oh, and Frankie wants more Tyge photos.)
I'm not sure I buy everything, but I think if he had said this bit months ago, he'd have been better off, politically:
When we made the decision to go into Iraq, many intelligence agencies around the world judged that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of governments who did not support my decision to remove Saddam. And it is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.Revisionist? Perhaps, but not outlandishly so. This is also the first time he's even given lip service to acknowledging his critics. I'm hopeful without being optimistic that this continues and expands.
As president, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. And I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we are doing just that.
At the same time, we must remember that an investigations after the war by chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer found that Saddam was using the U.N. oil-for-food program to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions, with the intent of restarting his weapons programs once the sanctions collapsed and the world looked the other way.
Given Saddam's history, and the lessons of September 11, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Saddam was a threat, and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
There has been a fair bit of build-up, through rumor and innuendo (not to mention advance press). I was half expecting a polemic - a cross between Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Constant Gardener. I mean, it's a movie about oil and big business, produced by the Clooney/Soderberg Section 8 axis, so it must be a huge anti-Bush parable right? Well, not so fast. (It should be noted that my expectations were not high as the film started. On the way in I was acousted by a gaggle of 23ish patrons who told me something along the lines of 'save myself and two hours'. Not a ringing endorsement.)
If anything, the movie is anti-Liberal. Not 'Conservative,' but Realist in the Samuel Huntington-Clash of Civilizations sense: 'This is the way the world works', it seems to say. The big oil companies are neither good nor evil, they just are. And they have interests, and by virtue of their size, these interests move mountains. About 30 minutes in, this amorality smacked me in the face. Once again, not in a bad way, just surprising considering this was supposed to be a 'lefty-movie'.
Yet, on another level, the movie completely worked as entertainment. The first bit seemed a bit muddled, as there are 4 or 5 distinct storylines. I immediately thought of Traffic, which is no surprise considering that the director and screenwriter was the screenwriter for Traffic. (Soderberg, who directed Traffic is an executive producer here as well.) But as at becomes clearer how the stories intersect (or don't) the film gathers steam.
I don't want to give away plot points, because the movie does play a bit like a mystery, but there were several things of note. Alexander Siddiq is terrific as a "progressive" son of an oil-state Emir. (You may remember him as Saladin's lieutenant in Kingdom of Heaven). His character decides that aligning with America might not be in his nation's best interests, yet he is no Islamist radical. He delivers a telling line: "A nation that has 5% of the World's population yet consumes 50% of its military spending has lost its persuasive power." I'm not sure I agree or disagree, but definitely food for thought. At the same time, there is Chris Cooper's oil baron who declares "China's economy isn't growing as fast as it should because it can't get enough oil. And I'm damn proud of that fact." A not-so-subtle reminder that "Strategic oil reserves" aren't just about profits, but about geopolitical power. (A point very often lost on Liberal interventionists.) My one quiblle is that Clooney's character veers dangerously close to uber-competent, like Arnie in True Lies, if that makes sense.
Undoubtedly, the biggest reason the movie affected me was a single scene where the transferrence Hitchcock invented in Psycho (where we, the audience, begin to subtly root for Norman Bates) is taken to its logical conclusion. It worked on me. And that makes me very uncomfortable. I'm interested to hear from other people who have seen the movie to see if I'm the only one. (And not, it's not the torture scene. Which is graphic, but not overly so.)
All in all, a reminder that things are almost always more complex than we imagine them.
Oh yeah. I don't think Iraq is mentioned once.
Note:According to the author, this is what Syriana means:
It's a fictional place, a term used inside the Beltway, to describe redrawing the borders in the Middle East to suit our interests. It's a made-up name. For example, Iraq is very much an artificial country and that is one reason we're having so many problems there because the Iraqis are not a people with a common identity.Interesting.
Iraq was made up by the British from three Ottoman provinces after WWI but history tells us the British were unable to unify the Iraqis.
Not that people aren't trying. One of the leading stat-heads in The League has been the Benefactor. The Cuban-TNT kerfluffle basically boiled down to Mark asking Kenny and Charles "what are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes" when it came down to the Mavs defending the Suns pick-and-roll. Well, turns out that Cuban didn't make his billions by being a dummy. Here is some evidence suggesting that switching the Pick-and-roll might be best against the Suns. Interesting stuff, but with all the usual caveats: small sample size, missing variables, etc. Worth reading though.
Next, traditional media sources seem to be nibbling at the story: CBS news blog has a piece, and Balko has been "commissioned to write an op-ed on the case by what we'll call for now a national newspaper". I imagine it will compare the fanfare surrounding the late Tookie Williams to this matter.
Finally, Maye's current counsel has this to say to Balko:
As of yet, I have not seen anything regarding such a fund, but if I do, I'll post it.
Certainly am interested in anything that could be helpful to Cory's case. Particularly would not be averse to talking with other interested lawyers who not only are willing but are CAPABLE of helping with the appeal and, hopefully, the retrial. Sentiment alone, while appreciated, is not helpful from a legal standpoint.
Defense funding would also be extremely helpful. Cory's family, while obviously very concerned about him, are not financially able to obtain all the things that would be helpful in litigating his appeal. And while an indigent can, at the pretrial level, request the court's financial assistance in obtaining things such as expert testimony (re: pathologist to discuss bullet path thru body and reasons that path does not jibe with Cory's statement) and investigative help (for ex. to establish whether anyone else in the surrounding subdivision heard any of the cops announcing before entering), such assistance is not generally available at the appellate level where we now are. If others want to assist Cory in this manner, that would be fantastic.
Although being a cause celebre didn't prevent Tookie's execution this morning in California, he was undeniably guilty. Cory is not.
Let me know your suggestions about establishing a defense fund. Any and all assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Monday, December 12, 2005
So I'm going to keep talking about it. If it bores you, too bad.
Anyway Battlepanda has a roundup of who's blogging about this story, and of course The Agitator is all over it. Obsidian Wings has thoughts as well.
At this point, from several thousand miles away, it looks like the prosecution has gone into full on CYA mode. Allegations of a seperate warrant for Maye's residence, 'trace' amounts of pot (as if one joint justifies full breach from a SWAT team at 2 AM), and, most incredibly, that there is no record as to the identity of the CI who gave the initial tip. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but at this point its difficult to see anything other than massive, systemic incompetence, or a cover-up, or both.
If I get a chance this week, I'm going to look into MS. search warrant law to see what if I can make any sense whether this is a problem of application, or the underlying law itself. Also, if I come up with any sort of defense fund donation campaign, will pass it along.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
- First, in the interest of pimping those fine institutions for which I will still be paying in 2015. From the Mondale Red Brick Oven: The MN Life. A superstar-to-be in the legal firmament. You think he ain't? And from lovely Northfield, home of Cows, Colleges and Contentmenttm, the Debate Link. Young debater is a student at Carleton who is interested in the law. There's still time, young man. save yourself while you still can.
- Apropo, David's current lead item is Cory Maye, a story I've been watching this week with disgust. In Mississippi, a black man sits on death row for murdering a white cop. We've seen that movie before of course. But this is not the one where the accused is innocent. There is no question he actually shot and killed the officer. However, the details are shocking. Via The Agitator:
Here are the details, culled from various media reports and conversations with a couple of people close to the case:In the interest of fairness, Balko has clarified a few facts in the above quotation, and has spoken with the prosecutor on the case. The prosecutor's thoughts can be found here and here.
Sometime in late 2001, Officer Ron Jones collected a tip from an anonymous informant that Jamie Smith, who lived opposite Maye in a duplex, was selling drugs out of his home. Jones passed the tip to the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force, a regional police agency in charge of carrying out drug raids in four surrounding counties. The task force asked Jones if he'd like to come along on the raid they'd be conducting as the result of his tip. He obliged.
On the night of December 26, the task force donned paramilitary gear, and conducted a drug raid on Smith's house. Unfortunately, they hadn't done their homework. The team didn't realize that the house was a duplex, and that Maye -- who had no relationship with Smith,-- rented out the other side with his girlfirend and 1-year-old daughter.
As the raid on Smith commenced, some officers - including Jones -- went around to what they thought was a side door to Smith's residence, looking for a larger stash of drugs. The door was actually a door to Maye's home. Maye was home alone with his young daughter, and asleep, when one member of the SWAT team broke down the outside door. Jones, who wasn't armed, charged in, and made his way to Maye's bedroom. Because police believed Maye's side of the duplex was still part of Smith's residence, they never announced themselves (Note added on 12/09/05: Police said at trial that they did announce themselves before entering Maye's apartment -- Maye and his attorney say otherwise. I'm inclined to believe Maye, for reasons outlined in this post. However, even if they did, announcing seconds before bursting in just before midnight, isn't much better than not announcing at all. An innocent person on the other end of the raid, particularly if still asleep, has every reason to fear for his life.). Maye, fearing for his life and the safety of his daughter, fired at Jones, hitting him in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest. Jones died a short time later.
Maye had no criminal record, and wasn't the target of the search warrant. Police initially concluded they had found no drugs in Maye's side of the duplex. Then, mysteriously, police later announced they'd found "traces" of marijuana and cocaine. I talked to the attorney who represented Maye at trial. She said that to her knowledge, police had found one smoked marijuana cigarette in Maye's apartment. Regardless, since Maye wasn't the subject of the search, whether or not he had misdemeanor amounts of drugs in his possession isn't really relevant. What's relevant is whether or not he reasonably believed his life was in danger. Seems pretty clear to me that that would be a reasonable assumption.
It apparently wasn't so clear to Mississippi's criminal justice system. In January of last year, Maye was convicted of capital murder for the shooting of Officer Jones. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Let's summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frigthened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a (Pooh: Majority) white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.
Balko has been all over this with not just regurgitatiton by actual orignial investigation and reportage. Go there and read on. But remember, Jim Crow is dead.
- Moving on, the Vioxx trials had an interesting development this week. The New England Journal of Medicine issued a "Statement of Concern" about a published Vioxx study. Apparently, the study as released ignored three patients from the experiment group. Unsurprisingly, (though perhaps incredibly) those critical of the suits immediately spun the news by claiming that NEJM was in cahoots with the plaintiffs. Because the medical establishment and the plaintiff's bar are such natural allies, you see. See the comments at this Legal Underground post for more. Though it does appear that this might be something of a tempest in a teapot:
I've gone both ways on that question in the last few hours, but now I don't think so. While this story makes Merck look bad, idiotically bad, on closer inspection there isn't as much here as you'd think. The data in question are three heart attacks in the final weeks of the VIGOR trial. But the adverse cardiovascular event data in the paper, as published, didn't reach statistical significance, and they don't seem to reach it with these added in, either. On top of that, these data were submitted to the FDA during the drug's approval process, and (according to Point of Law) are on the Vioxx package insert itself.
So Merck might be guilty of making their data look better for the New England Journal of Medicine, but they're not guilty of hiding it from the world. And I'm not sure about that first charge, either. The lead author on the VIGOR study, Claire Bombadier of Toronto, told Forbes that the paper accurately disclosed the data and the she and the other authors are working on a response to the journal. But the headlines today are going to be variations on the theme of "Merck Hides Data". But as far as I can tell, they should be "Merck Looks Like Gang of Idiots, Blasts Away At Own Foot For Fourteenth Time". But that's not a crime. Yet.
- From the Judicial Activism Goes Both Ways file: Apparently, for purposes of immigration law, an Aggravated Felony is not neccesarily Aggrevated or a Felony. Warning, extreme law-like substance lies beyond hither link.
- Finally, Joe reminds me, once again, that I know nothing about IP law with his analysis of the recent 7th Circuit decision in a KaZaa file-sharing case. Unsurprisingly, the "it was good for them" defense did not work for the copywrite infringer, though Joe does question whether she should have been able to mitigate damages under an "innocent infringer" defense. I'm not sure I agree, but he knows much more than me about this...
Edit: Not 20 minutes after I posted this, I came across this bit. Under our system of liberalized pleading, you can file a motion to do just about anything. On the margins, this leads to such things as "Motion for the Judge to Kiss My Ass." Strangely, the judge in question was not amused.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
As for the Zags, I love Adam Morrison. I love his terrible hair, porn-stache and pigeon towed running style. That being said, Gus Johnson needs to slow his roll with the Larry Bird comparisons. Admittedly, going down the checklist
- Small town hick, (he's from Spokane) - check
- Making a small school big time - half-check.
- Genius level basketball IQ - 175, Check (I love when the nations leading scorer gets 5-10 per game on back door cuts)
- Ugly, not-especially-athletic white kid with bad hair and a worse stache - check, check and CHECK
- As Bill Raftery would say "ONIONS" - Big bad check
As a final hoops note of the day. David Stern should be fined under the League's dress code for approving certain throwbacks:
The Wizards/Bullets look like they are wearing workout gear from a NASCAR pit crew. As for the Stags/Bulls, I can't even come up with an analogy. It's almost like they have boxing shorts (notice the foot thick wasteband) over wrestling singlets.
He's also culpable for allowing the Kings to rock these monstrosities:
This still photo doesn't do justice to how awful these are in motion.
Friday, December 09, 2005
As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis.Actually. No, no I won't. Its too easy. This story is actually slightly disturbing:
"I think it's absurd," said Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and the author of "PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine." Satel said the diagnosis would allow hate-crime perpetrators to evade responsibility by claiming they suffered from a mental illness. "You could use it as a defense."I tend to agree, though if people have real, debilitating paranoia that manifests as extreme prejudice, what then? (For once, RIA has a stronger reaction to something than I do.)
Here are some thoughts from a practicing psychiatrist:
Consider the racist who insults his Asian or Black co-worker. Charges of racism fill the air. Charges are brought. Lawyers are engaged. Levels of victimhood are assessed. The racist is threatened with job loss but responds with the Americans with Disabilities Act that makes it illegal to fire him because he has a Psychiatric illness. The aggrieved victim of the racist sues the company for allowing an atmosphere of intimidation. The company is then forced to pay millions to both the racist (for putting him in a situation which encourages his outbursts and makes him uncomfortable) and the victim is paid millions because he was forced by his company to tolerate such abuse. Teams of lawyers become wealthy destroying companies across America. The worst thing is that this is not even a far fetched fantasy. Once bias is entered as an illness, almost anyone can be charged with it and/or use the illness as a defense. At what point does bias become pathological? It seems to me that for Psychiatrists to offer the legal/grievance professions such ammunition is foolhardy and idiotic.(While I find most charactures of the plaintiff's bar tedious, there's at least a kernel of truth here.)
I'm already fired up for this - I love international
Update: Victoria has thoughts on the draw.
After running from the plane, Alpizar . . . turned in the jetway, walked menacingly toward the agents and reached into his backpack, police said. Marshals stepped back before firing at Alpizar, who died at the scene, police said.which has yet to be seriously disputed. You do not "shoot for the trigger finger" in this situation, you aim center-mass. Perhaps non-lethal means could have been used, but that sort of Monday morning quarterbacking assumes knowledge that the marshals could not have had at the time.
This incident not withstanding, I still think I'd rather have trained law enforcement personnel on planes than not. Though it is always appropriate to investigate whether the procedures and training can be improved in light of recent events. Otherwise, I stand by my earlier thoughts.
(Links via: Liberal Serving)
Thursday, December 08, 2005
- Fletch links to yet another post that shows that fanboi's (myself most definitely included) have thought much more about the Lost premise than have the show's creators. Professor Paul Horwitz decries the show's use of the "Idiot Plot". I think he's wrong in that since no one has actually shared any of the weird things that have happened to them individually, they can't really have a sense of the magnitude of the weirdness. Plus, Jack already thinks Locke is crazy, and Locke knowing this is unlikely to share the fact that his legs do not function in real life. (Not sayng that the island is purgatory. I would never suggest that. I think the whole thing being one of Walt's comic books, ala St. Elsewhere is more likely, but I digress.)
- At FoxNews, The Agitator, Radley Balko, takes on Congress for taking on sports: "McCain . . . says the federal government needs to regulate professional boxing because the sport is hopelessly corrupt. That may well be. But then, so is Congress." Ouch. My thoughts, more or less exactlty.
- The Sawx officially need a shortstop. Miguel Tejada, yasay? (For Manny? Not Sure I'd do it.) The MFY's have responded to the Bosmos and Mets moves by offering arbitration to Bernie Williams's corpse and reportedly signing the terrifying Mike Myers to a 2 year deal. The Geezeman agrees with Simmons about the Rocket.
- Positve FoxNews item #2: Israel provides an example? Discussing Sharon and Peres's formation of the centrist Kadima party perhaps "[i]ts impact may reverberate in unexpected ways across the ocean — Sharon’s action provides a powerful example of how centrist politics might evolve in the U.S. if the moderate majority in this country continues to be held hostage by professional partisans on the left and right."
- Matt Yglesias wonders why all the Yao bashing. Just compare him to Ewing. To my mind, the fact that the comparison is apt justifies any and all Yao-bashing, though Mama Yao's son will never be a HoF all-ugly team member.
- Normal service returning. In a completely fair and balanced manner, FoxNews assumes the conclusion: "PBS Continues Probe Into Biased Film". Though there is good reason to believe that like a stopped clock at noon, Fox is right on this one. Cathy Young explains.
- Dangers of following blind links. Definitely NSFW. Well depends on where you work. But absolutely terrifying. Josh, I nominate this for December.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
American Flight 924, scheduled to leave Miami for Orlando, yesterday afternoon when Alpizar, a Florida resident traveling with his wife, said he had a bomb in his carry-on bag, federal officials said. Alpizar had arrived in Miami from Quito, Ecuador, earlier that day and had stopped in Miami to board the second leg of his trip to Orlando, federal officials said.Some reports have stated that Alpizar reached for the bag which he had claimed contained a bomb. At this point, what else can an air marshall do? I think so much of the whole terror alert stuff is largely cosmetic. The one aspect that actually makes me feel safer is the presence of air marhsall's on planes. However, some of the chest-thumping reaction strikes me as unseemly:
Several witnesses said they saw Alpizar run from his seat near the back of the plane to the front toward the cockpit, where air marshals confronted him. [A Passenger], who said she was aboard the flight, said she saw the man identified as Alpizar run up the aisle, and he appeared to be panicked, she told WTVJ-TV in Miami. As he ran, his wife screamed "My husband! My husband!" and said that her husband was bipolar and had not taken medicine, Gardner told the television station.
Officials with the marshal program said two agents, whom they did not identify, confronted Alpizar in the jetway as he left the plane. Officials did not disclose how many shots were fired or where Alpizar was hit. They said the marshals were being interviewed.
"This shows that the program has worked beyond our expectations," said Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House transportation subcommittee on aviation. "This should send a message to a terrorist or anyone else who is considering disrupting an aircraft with a threat."
The man was bipolar and off his meds. He had no bomb. At this point, there is no connection to a larger plot or any threat to national security. His death (and that of Jean Charles de Menezes in London in July) should not be celebrated as any sort of triumph over terrorism. They are casualties as surely as if they had been caught in an suicide bomber's explosion.
Update 12/8: Victoria liveblogged the whole thing over at Sundries. Some info I didn't have, and also an interesting look at how breaking news actually breaks. (link via:Kierkegaard)
Next, there is the rumor that Renteria might be getting dealt. At 3 years and $30 mil left, I'm fine with that, thought makes we wish we still had Hanley Ramirez a little.
Finally, somebody is a free agent. Time heals all wounds...(well, maybe not for Simmons. I'm just tossing it out there...
Unsurprisingly, the issue involving gay rights, the discussion became heated. Unfortunately, my particular antagonist's first few points had seemed (nay, had been) reasonable. So I attempted to engage in rational debate well beyond the time at which it should have been obvious that such debate was not to happen. And then just as I decided I was done with the discussion, I get called out as a right-wing, homophobic bigot. Now, any regular reader of this blog knows the first charge is baseless, so I shrugged it off. But the 'bigot' bit cheesed me off. Anyone who knows me knows taht I'm never one to back down from verbal fisticuffs (and have
After calming down a bit (thanks Frankie), I realised that even today has been a 'net positive, if you'll pardon the pun. My personal interactions with other bloggers have been almost universally good, today being no exception. So what is one lemon?
Happy Holidays from the White House. How long before Bill O'Reilly denounces him?
(Welcome Democrative Underground Readers. Have a look see)
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
This morning was special. When I turned on the shower, the entire apparatus emmitted a keening wail. I thought Moaning Myrtle might be stopping by for a chat. In addition to this, the water was almost literally boiling. Persons who live in cold climates may be used to having pipes freeze, or the hot water run out. But this morning, there was no cold water in my building. Not a drop. Needless to say, a boiling shower is not a refreshing start to the day (especially when coupled with the extreme cold of an Anchorage apartment in the morning.) I'm reasonably certain I showed up at work looking like something from one of the old Selsun Blue commercials as I couldn't fully rinse withou getting 2nd degree scalp burns.
So, if I seemed a little tetchy today, I had good reasons.
I don't want to read too much significance into this incident, as I strongly suspect that the assailants were simply yahoos rather than part of any sort of organization.
[Professor Mirecki] said the assailants made reference to the intelligent design controversy during the attack.
“I had no idea who they were, but they certainly knew who I was,” he said.
[He] said he was taking a long, pre-dawn drive in the country to clear his mind in wake of the recent controversy and was planning to end his drive by stopping at a restaurant for breakfast.
Mirecki said he was taking a long, pre-dawn drive in the country to clear his mind in wake of the recent controversy and was planning to end his drive by stopping at a restaurant for breakfast.
He said two men were tailgating him in a pickup truck, and he pulled over to let them pass. He said he got out of his vehicle, then they did the same and beat him.
However, I cringe to think of the jokes being made about this on conservative talk radio in the coming days, considering that the furor originally arose over Mirecki describing his 'ID as myth' class as “a nice slap in their big fat face” to "fundies" in private emails.
A 2002 first-round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, Woods has experienced off-the-court problems throughout his rocky professional career.But, at least he can play:
Woods was on Portland's suspended list last season for allegations of animal abuse before being waived in January. He was released by the team the same day he pleaded guilty in an Oregon court for abusing his pit bull.
Last October, Woods was suspended five games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Woods has career averages of 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in 118 games.This is one of those mystifying things - the key long-term difference between sports franchises, especially in leagues with salary caps is the performance of General Managers - yet when they perform poorly, the coach or the players get the axe and the GM keeps on keeping on.
The Sawx finally won the WS when they got a GM who both understood that a lineup of slow, strike-out prone, Monstah-aiming beer-league softball types (with very thin pitching) wouldn't get it done, and didn't do everything possible to alienate, well, everyone (looking at you, Dan Duquette). The Spurs and Pistons are the best teams in the NBA, have been for the past few years, and likely will be for the next few because they draft well, sign players to reasonable contracts, and leave themselves flexibility for the off-season.
Meanwhile, despite clear indications that they should not remain employed, Isaiah and Matt Millen keep their jobs. Not only are they ruining their teams current chances, but (especially in Isaiah's case) they are mortgaging the future to do so. Of course, I hope Zeke keeps his job long enough to trade us Trevor Ariza for OliwoSkippy.
Monday, December 05, 2005
First, let me heartily recomend The Boondocks on Cartoon Network. It's magnificently wrong in that 'early seasons of South Park' sort of way.
Secondly, after a long weekend spent with not much to do, I've decided that CSI:NY is the best of the three. And whatever they are paying him, David Caruso is stealing, absolutely thieving for what he passes as 'acting' these days.
Third, Just watched Layer Cake. A quality film. Takes some of the sensibility of Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and imposes a bit of narrative structure. So well crafted that you never notice the fact that the protagonist is lacking something vital until the last line of the movie.
A few weeks ago, I saw the following quip, which I thought was funny:
Yes, it would be nice to have evidence-based policy-making. But even if we can't get that, perhaps we can do away with policy-based evidence-making.(link via Hallq)
A few weeks ago, there was a post on Legal Fiction discussing all the 'hidden' effects of our choice of Presidents, focusing on a political decision to ignore recommendations of career civil rights litigators in approving what is essentially a poll tax in Georgia. (Recently, there has been a similar questionable decision in Texas. The Voting Rights Act is very complicated, but when career experts in the field unanimously agree, and are overruled on political grounds its noteworthy simply because it is so rare.) Since then we've seen more of the same with political fidelity and cronyism trumping knowledge and expertise. And finally, a damning roundup from The Plank:
1. Report accuses EPA of Slanting Analysis: Hill Researchers Say Agency Fixed Pollution Study to Favor Bush's 'Clear Skies'But we are told that such slavish devotion to administration policies is required to win the War on Terror. Except it appears to be hurting rather than helping. Witness:
Congressional investigators found spotty performance from the start in how federal and state officials handle complaints of housing discrimination: Sometimes they do not answer the phone or return the calls.
A senior Pentagon official who has been under internal investigation, accused of abusive management practices, told his staff he was retiring for health reasons.
FBI agents botched a terrorism investigation in Florida and tried to cover up mistakes, said Justice Department investigators, who also concluded that a high-ranking official retaliated against the longtime undercover agent who pointed out the problems.(emphasis mine). At a certain point, jamming square ideological pegs into round real world problems goes beyond merely exasperating into outright dangerous. Having an ideology is fine, and in some ways, probably necessary. But belief does not equal knowledge. Faith does not equal expertise or skill. Desire does not equal capability.
I'm wary to make comparisons to historical regimes where toeing the party line has superseded competence and excellence as a job qualification, as such comparisons tend to be conversation stoppers. But there is a reason those are historical regimes. That manner of governance does not work: it cannot compete against meritocracy. I hope I'm wrong that these stories represent a larger pattern. I hope this is just another example of 'liberal bias' in the Mainstream Media. But I've seen little evidence to that effect. And unlike those in power, I need facts to back up faith.
"[Politics/College football] is not just an exhilarating sport, but a billion-dollar business that Congress cannot ignore," said committee Chairman Joe Barton, a Texas Republican.From what I've seen the response has been evenly and oppositely divided, while being universally negative. Reaction A: "Don't they have more important things to do?" Reaction B: "Well, better they spend time screwing this up than something really important."
. . .
"Too often [college football/politics] ends in sniping and controversy, rather than winners and losers," Barton said. "The current system of determining who's No. 1 appears deeply flawed."
"Allowing the people not to be controlled by insurgents and allowing them to live freely and not in the grip of fear is what will win the insurgency," he said. "This is when the real work begins."Why has it taken so long?
The unprecedented number of troops who are returning from Iraq with missing limbs has given the US Paralympic Team an unexpected recruitment boost and the chance to become “unbeatable” at the next Games in Beijing in 2008. More than 60 potential recruits have already been identified in sports as varied as powerlifting, archery and table tennis.This is not from the Daily Show or the Onion. This is a real 'news' item from the Times of London. Of course:
If life seems jolly rotten(and so on...). That's right, the Monty Python school of foreign affairs reporting is alive and well. (link via: Wonkette)
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and
dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle
- that's the thing.
And...always look on the bright
side of life...
Always look on the bright side
Linguists here in Canada have been following closely, with a mixture of amusement, bemusement, and, it must be admitted, a little trepidation, the deliberations of our neighbours to the south, who are currently considering, in a courtroom in Pennsylvania, whether "Wrathful Dispersion Theory," as it is called, should be taught in the public schools alongside evolutionary theories of historical linguistics. It is an emotionally charged question, for linguistics is widely and justifiably seen as the centrepiece of the high-school science curriculum—a hard science, but not a difficult one to do in the classroom; an area of study that teaches students the essentials of scientific reasoning, but that at the same time touches on the spiritual essence of what it means to be human, for it is of course language that separates us from our cousins the apes.(via ObWi)