Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pooh on Race

As tommorow, many bloggers are blogging against racism, I thought I'd get a jump, epsecially since my mother, who is more knowledgeable on the subject than myself, has provided me with a guest piece for tommorow.

My first real experience with racism was at about 11. I was fortunate enough to have made the cut for a hockey travel team going to what was then Yugoslavia. Hockey has never been an especially diverse sport, there being many all-white teams even at the NHL level. However, on this team there was one young black kid, J. While in Yugoslavia (Zagreb, so now Croatia), it seemed none of the locals had ever seen a black person. They constantly walked up to J and touched his hair (he had a mini-fade at the time). While there did not seem to be anything malicious in these actions, I remember feeling vary uncomfortable for him, to be singled out in this way. He had a non-confrontational demeanor, so nothing untoward happened. But I always wondered how that made him feel. (Of course being an 11 year-old boy, I did not ask...)

The next real incident was a few years later, in high-school. I attended an "alternative" school. Open campus, no bells, no detentions, an emphasis on personal repsonsibility. Unsurprisingly, the school was exceedingly liberal. It was also very white, with probably 80% of the student body being caucasian.

A fairly unique part of the school's culture where the murals in the halls. A student could propose artwork for a section of wall, and if it was found to be acceptable to a joint student-faculty commitee, the student could procede to leave his mark. A kid a few years older than me had lost an eye at a young age in an accident. Despite this, he became a very talented artist. In an effort to express his frustration at the strange looks and remarks he was subjected to, he proposed a mural.

The piece was entitled 'racism'. On a backdrop of a rolling field. A group of several amorphous, Simpson-like figures stood in a circle. Some where tall and thin, some short and round. One was red, another blue, another polka-dotte yet another plaid. The one thing they had in common was an orange circle in the middle of their chests. They were standing in a circle. Around a similarly amorphous figure with a yellow triangle instead of an orange circle. This figure was being lynched. At the top, in simple letters, was a single word: "Racism".

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this mural was highly controversial, and was eventually removed. But I always thought that it expressed in simple, visual terms the sheer irrationality of hatred based on something as immaterial to human interaction as skin color. I wish I had a print just as a reminder and possible object lesson.


I really can't say too much about tonight's Lost, except for its never a good sign when a character on death's door mumble/whispers "I love her" in the tease. Oh, and bullshit on Kate's backstory, she was so much more badass as a bankrobber.

update: and that's what I get for posting just before the episode ends...good cliffhanger, and I am mammothly enthused for the first Ekosode next week. A big Boom.

Update #2: NO NEW EPISODES TIL JAN?!?!? I hate network TV...

Here, Spammy Spammy Spammy, Here...

As those of us who use blogger know, comment spam is a huge issue. For an example, look at the comments to the last post here (where I have posting, but no editorial priviledges, so I can't, like take it down, even though all three members are off the poker due to having jobs and such. Ah, the easy days of Law School...). Of course the whole word verification thing has largely removed the issue. However, they seem to be getting more clever. Yesterday, I got an email from "Lauren" with the heading "Spartan Total Warrior." I opened it because it could have been from Lauren whose blog I visit and comment on occassionally, though how she would have gotten my email, I don't know. Of course, it wasn't from her:
I just found your Xbox blog entry: link and I think you may be of some help to me. I'm reaching out to you on behalf of M80 & Sega regarding Spartan Total Warrior. This award-winning game is the first console title from the Total War series. Since you are a fan of Xbox, I thought that you might be interested in posting the press release or a review of the game on your blog? You seem like a reputable influencer, so I think you'd be a big help to us.

Please let me know if you're interested!



Almost got me there. Except, the blog post in question is more a rumination on my fluctuating rotundity and the effect that has on my wardrobe, with the sum total of XBOX related material being:
During lawschool, this did not present much of a problem because my morning clothing decisions were generally A) Go to class? Bullshit, I'm eating pop-tarts and playing XBox today. (Hence the weight bouncing). B) Which hoodie goes with these ratty jeans?
But it doesn't hurt to ask does it? Especially if I'm "a reputable influencer".

So for those keeping track, I am now a felonious, reputably influencing, beer drinking mormon. My life is a mad-lib.

Chutzpah, pt. 2

Ladies and Germs, Ruben Patterson:
"I don't think my role of playing 13 or 15 minutes a game is acceptable," Patterson told the newspaper this week. "I deserve to play 25-plus minutes, but if they want me to play 12 minutes [like he did in his last game against New York], then they can just put me on the inactive list. I mean, those are rookie minutes."
So, I'll ask, who is the Eric of Patterson's posse who's job it is to keep him from doing stupid, career-wrecking shit? Though this being the Blazers, I'm sure he listens more to his own Turtle. Fellas, this is your meal ticket, step up your game.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

OOOPS! (or, Who Knew that Shoe Leather Tasted that Bad?)

Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings has a piece called Intellectual Honesty Watch in which right-wing bloggers, eager to be the first to heap scorn on Joe Biden's call for Iraqi withdrawal apparently missed the memo that Biden's plan = GWB's plan. Here's the kicker:
Now: imagine for a moment that the bloggers I just quoted actually sat down and thought about Biden's plan, concluded that it was a bad idea, and that this reflection explains their posts. In that case, you'd expect them to respond to today's White House statement with horror and alarm. After all, it's one thing for the Senator Powerline calls "the Delaware windbag" to adopt a plan. He is in the minority party, and has no real influence over policy. It's quite another for the President of the United States, our Commander in Chief, to embrace a policy that "gets the entire war on terror fundamentally wrong", and shows that people who adopt it "cannot ever take charge of American security" and "are unfit to direct this country's foreign policy". The thought that Bush, who does direct America's foreign policy, is 'unfit' to do so, since he 'gets the entire war on terror fundamentally wrong', should be terrifying.

And yet, oddly enough, not one of these worthies has seen fit to comment on Bush's embrace of Biden's plan. And it's not lack of time: they have somehow managed to fit in posts on Whoopi Goldberg, Cindy Sheehan, the Carnival of the Cats, and all sorts of other momentous topics. But somehow the fact that our President is, by their standards, unfit to direct our foreign policy seems to have escaped their notice.
Am I going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they haven't seen the 'Bush plan' news story? Not a frickin' chance, especially in the case of instapundit considering that he acts as something of a news aggregator. Remember, just because you read it on the internet, doesn't make it true. Conversely, just because you don't read it, doesn't mean it isn't there.

Is this surpising? No. Sad? Yes. Likely to repeated on a near daily basis by both political wings? Absolutely. C'est la blogosphere.

Tis the Season...For Making Movie Lists...

XWL has completed the exhausting task of listing out his 54 favorite movies/films. Or is it his 54 best? The two concepts are similar but not equal. I love Heartbreak Ridge, but I would never describe it as a great movie. I have a hard enough time filling out a top ten, so 54 must be draining.

On the other hand, Scott Lemium over at liberal hothouse Lawyers, Guns & Money asks what movies do you hate? (A warning: 'misogyny' is broadly defined over there, and they see it as a bug, not a feature.)

Ambivalence, Iraq and My Cynicism

This story caught my eye, for obvious reasons:
Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.

Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.
And I am deeply ambivalent about the import of this news. My first, viscerally cynical, reaction is to say "just in time for the mid-term elections." But that's both too facile and violates my stated personal ethic of not giving too much weight to the intentions behind actions. Sooooo, what do I really think?

It's fabulous that 60,000 people won't be off in some desert acting as targets any jackass with some dynomite and a box of nails. But what about the 100,000 that are left? We are already stretched too thin in Iraq, our soldiers playing whack-a-mole, with the moles fighting back.

The fact of the matter is that we are over there. How we got there doesn't especially matter at this point. That's a sunk cost, and though it's worthy of discussion, it shouldn't affect our decision about what to do now. I tend to agree with Murtha's point that our troops are a catalyst for insurgent activities, so removing that stimulous might help. At the same time, there is a sizable insurgent presence which will not go away just because our troops do. And the Iraqi infrastructure is not yet at the point where they can handle the problem.

Sadly, the best solution is probably more troops, for now, not less. If we're going to occupy, then lets occupy. Let's remove insurgents from villages and stick around and make the town safe. If we provide actual safety, infrastructure can emerge. And we'll be out sooner. But that will never happen, because it involves either the Dems or the GOPs propsing the measure first. And if you thought Murtha got slammed, wait til someone says we need more troops...

I feel like I'm talking about Iraq too much. Or is it that other people aren't talking about it enough?

Jay, the Turk Wants to See You...

Has a player every been cut during a game? Jay Feeley might just find out...(6:05 left in OT, he's 0-3 in the 4th and OT)

BTW, I still think Tom Coughlin is a bad coach, and an a*****e.

A Response to XWL

XWL has this to say in response to a WaPo editorial critical of the Veep:
Every moment, and every statement that a public official of the U.S. government makes must convey in the strongest possible terms that we will fight, that we will hunt down terrorist, and that we will be resolved to win a long hard war. Any less will give evil hope. Any less will damage our country far more than Abu Ghraib related P.R. problems. I personally think the Vice-President is wrong in his defense of the current position, but I don't believe for one second that he is losing us any true friends, or manufacturing any new foes with his words. Let our enemies fear us, let's encourage that fear, let's place so much fear of our might out there that the next generation of jihadis will decide that 72 virgins aren't worth it. That's what the Vice-President and President are doing and I say keep on keeping on.
Well, here's the thing, isn't it the responsibility of the country's leadership to make sure there is at least some consensus before making bold pronouncements about the means we will use in prosecuting our cause? It seems to me that the 'unified front' argument proves too much, in that the Pres. or VP can take an extreme position, and force consensus upon us by saying that disagreement aids our enemies. This is simply bootstrapping.

While they may be correct in saying that dissent does give encouragement to al Qaeda, and hurts our morale, that is not and cannot be a justification for unilateral imposition of measures that the body politic, as a whole, finds objectionable.

I don't think that reasonable minds differ on the importance of being resolute in the favor of the global bully that is international terrorism. (Kurt Vonnegut, sit down...) However, when leadership takes a position that the vast majority of the polity finds incredibly objectionable (90-9 says something doesn't it?) on both moral and practical grounds, we are supposed to stay silent? Not to be overly dramatic, but down that road lies tyranny. My sense is that most people are prepared to give elected leaders the benefit of the doubt, but at a certain point, that deference is exhausted, and the evil of not speaking out begins to outweigh the evil of encouraging our enemies.

There is plenty of blame to go around here, I feel. The left has vastly overplayed its hand on the "Bush lied" meme. If it had stopped at calling for an explanation of why errors were made, that would have been the end of it. (And silence on the adminstration's part would have been telling, as there is an obvious, and acceptable answer in that it was better to be safe than sorry on this one, plus Saddam was a bad egg and had to go. I'll buy that for a dollar...) Many of those who supported going to war and are now claiming it's time to get out are acting brazenly politically.

However, the right has gone too far in the 'cowardice' and 'un-patriotic' attacks, and has acted indefensibly on the torture issue. If you think that torture is useful and appropriate, make the case for it, straight up. Don't say "we don't torture" and then both get caught torturing, and defend the right to torture even though "we don't".

Our system of government requires consensus building. In this instance it is vitally important. I'll quote Nixon's first Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, who knows a few things about nation-building and foreign conflict:
A sour relationship on Capitol Hill could doom the whole effort. The importance of this solidarity between Congress and the administration did not escape Saddam Hussein, nor has it escaped the insurgents. In the days leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, television stations there showed 1975 footage of U.S. embassy support personnel escaping to helicopters from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon. It was Saddam's message to his people that the United States does not keep its commitments and that we are only as good as the word of our current president. We failed to deliver the logistical support to our allies in South Vietnam during the post-Watergate period because of a breakdown of leadership in Washington. The failure of one administration to keep the promises of another had a devastating effect on the North-South negotiations.

There are no guarantees of continuity in a partisan democracy. We are making commitments as to the future of Iraq on an almost daily basis. These commitments must be understood now so they can be honored later. Every skirmish on the home front that betrays a lack of solidarity on Iraq gives the insurgents more hope and ultimately endangers the men and women we have sent to Iraq to fight in this war for us. We are now committed to a favorable outcome in Iraq, but it must be understood that this will require long-term assistance or our efforts will be in vain.
(emphasis mine. Whole article here. Lenghty, yet fascinating read. I don't think I have to foreign affairs chops to express much of opinion one way or another on his overall conclusions, but the quoted text is right on, I feel.)

We have to think before we act. And part of that thinking is solicitation and consideration of many viewpoints. Solidarity is a two way street.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Annika Sorenstam: Anti-Feminist?

Anyone who watches Sportscenter tonight will no doubt see the clip of Sorenstam outdriving Fred Funk (a dead ringer for Dr. Kelso, I might add) during thw skins game, followed by her pulling a skirt out of her golf bag for him to wear. Personally, that's funny ("HIT THE BALL, Alice" or "does your husband play too?" being the height of golf wit) but I'm honeslty curious how long it will take for someone to take Annika to task for trivializing and reinforcing 'traditional gender rolls'. Ain't PC Grand?

(Head nod: Reader_IAM)

Friday, November 25, 2005


PoliticalPublic figures often do things that make you think, "Boy, you've got alotta balls to try that mess." Be it RaffiRoidMan wagging a finger at Congress, Bob Dole pimping viagra or Ali G responding to Kazakhstan in character (perhaps my favorite story of the week).

However, sometimes, certain people take the cake. I'm not even sure I need a joke here, so I'll just give the straight line: Ex-FEMA Head Starts Disaster Planning Firm. And, no, that link is not to the Onion.

Actually, I do got jokes, but in my effort to cut down on my own snark, I'll just go with one, and that is, I thought a better career choice would have been to act as a spokesmodel for Southwest Airlines: "Want to get away?"

Alternatively, my source for this item, Reader_IAM suggests "Unprepared? Been There, Done That."

Sharpening Their Knives

RSN speaks.

A bit harsh you ask? Probably, though Schill is pissed:
Oh btw, as I said about CHB [POOH: That's SOSHspeak for Dan Shaugnessy. It means Curly Haired Boyfriend...] and the article, why did that article have to be written? Did ANYONE here give 2 shits about the content of the article? Did it tell you anything you DIDN'T know about Theo, LL and their relationship? Or were you, like me, sick to your stomach reading an ass kissing editorial on just how incredibly unbelievably thankful Theo should be to a few people in the Sox organization? After paragraph 1 it was painfully obvious to me that this was just another case of a member of the media being flat out abused by someone to further a personal viewpoint or agenda. But that's not the first time he's had it happen to him since I have been here.
As Peter Gammons said, "[t]he curse, as most everyone now realises, was management and pitching". We've addressed the latter to a degree. As for the former, well, I'm less than enthused...

Head nod: The Crank

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thoughts From the Food Coma

So, after another year of the Thanksgiving two-step (another unintended consequence of no-fault divorce laws...), I'm sitting, whale-lake, on my big puffy recliner contemplating such things as how wonderful is iTunes. (Downloaded last night's Lost after the DVR mishap. It worked seamlessly, and the episode was spectacular. Of course, watching without commercials probably adds greatly to the experience...)

Coherent thought on more meaningful topics occasionally threaten to take shape, but nothing comes of it. And, concerning my general tendancy to overanalyze, is ok.

Back to Scrubs Season 2 on DVD. How come there are funny doctor comedies, but not so much with funny lawyer shows, despite the prevelance of lawyer jokes?

Do I really have to go to work tommorow?

Thanksgiving DogBlogging

With special guest-star, the Geezeman.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

MutherPlucker (or Defeated by the DVR)

So, back from the Great Alaska Shootout with Pops and the Blizzard, all ready to fire up tonight's heated episode of Lost...and my DVR didn't record. I guess they updated the software this week, and my season pass got zotzed. Or it just didn't work, since when I looked earlier, the red circle was present on the schedule. Now the question is, do I pay the $1.99 to download it when it becomes available on iTunes. Very disappointing.

In that spirit, Happy Thanksgiving, all...

"Sean McDonough the Huskies come out MANAMAN!"

The Maui Classic championship game just started. Reminding me how much I love college basketball. And how much I love Bill Raferty...Wit da kiss-ah!

As Josh commented yesterday, Adam Morrison is good. He just needs a razor. Alternatively, he should change his name, adding 7 consecutive consonants and speak with a thick accent if he wants to get drafted top 5.

Down In the Valley (or Alaskan Students Intelligent on 'Intelligent Design')

We don't often get a lot of good pub up here. Mostly, it's bridges to nowhere, dog sleds, and stupid platitudes about the unfortunate ratio of single men to single women up here ("the odds are good but the goods are odd..."). Oh, and if the Pres. wants to question the patriotism of dissent, we set up a podium for him at the Air-Force base on his way west...

Occassionally though, I find out something good about my home state. A student-government in the Wasilla-Palmer area has decided that "Intelligent design shall be addressed in the social studies department, if it is addressed at all." (For those not familiar with Alaskan geography, the Mat-Su Valley is to Anchorage, probably as Sacto is to L.A. in terms of, well, everything.)

Very sensibly:
[a]ccording to Psenak, the student council neither favors nor opposes teaching intelligent design, which holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by some kind of designer. Psenak said students do oppose teaching intelligent design in science class, though.

“They say intelligent design doesn't meet any of the state's science criteria and that it shouldn't be brought forward in the science curriculum,” she explained after the board meeting. “There is a social science class, though, that talks about world religions, and most people thought it would fit well into that.”
And what's wrong with that?

(Link via Uncredible Hallq)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"You Makin Me Crazy"

Your VP: A throwback 1930's Hollywood twirly-mustache types:

picture from Hit & Run.

Willfull instransigence such as this drives me batty. Specifically:
Shortly after stepping off a plane at Dulles Airport last week, Rep. Duncan Hunter was on a cell phone delivering a surprisingly stern message to a few reporters. Coverage of the debate in the Senate to "ban" the use of torture, the Armed Services Committee chairman said, was inaccurate and unfair.

Mr. Hunter's beef was that it is already illegal for any American to torture someone overseas and such a crime is punishable of up to 20 years in prison, or execution if the torture victim dies. To underscore his point, Mr. Hunter followed up on Tuesday with a press release noting that "contrary to widespread media reports, torture is [already] banned under American criminal laws." The release included copies of the applicable criminal code.
Then why the hell would you, (led by the above pictured Boss Cheney) oppose being double-extra-super sure that torturing is not, in fact legal? If we don't tourture, how does passing one more law saying "don't torture" hurt anything? The "ticking bomb" scenario has been discussed elsewhere, and if it needs to get done, it will get done. But, since we have "Vice-President for torture", (and also a Vice-President for backtracking from unseemly personal attacks on an Ex-Marine who could kick your ass, and a Vice President for fallacious reasoning...btw, comments to last link are outstanding) we get to look to the rest of the world (who kinda matter, because there are a lot of them...) like we don't really give a shit about democracy. Which of course we don't.

But hey, at least it broke me out of my weekend funk.

Today's Sports Talk

Despite the primacy of sports in my life, I haven't really written much about them. Not sure why. But several things have happened recently that I want to comment on.

  • Regarding the Beckett/Lowell it. I actually had a draft of a big post about it, but then Simmons wrote this, and since I agree with pretty much everything in there, he's a better writer than I, and I have other things to do tonight, I'll just say "What he said." With emphasis on the fact that though Hanley has been touted for a few years, if he was truly "can't miss" we wouldn't have signed the decaying Renteria for 4 years. Plus, and SG overlooks this, even in a hideous offensive year, Lowell won the gold glove at third. Worth mentioning.
  • Reggie. Bush. Any questions? (Parenthetically, why couldn't the Vikes have just gone in the tank to make sure to get him? I mean aside from the fact that the Texans, 9ers and (snicker) Packers might not win 4 games combined the rest of the year...
  • As that commerical says, "football is football." While on this side of the pond, we have the T.O. imbroglio, over in England they have Roy Keane, who parted ways with Manchester United late last week. Much like Owens, Keane has recently had some harsh words for teammates. Largely at that point the similarity ends, (though Keane has had his prima donna moments, most notably a spat with his national team coach during World Cup '02). Maybe they are just better at saving face, but everyone seems to be saying the right things. It was just time to move on. Keane is no longer the player he was from 99-02 (when, the best American analogy I can give is a cross between Steve Nash and Ron Artest, with less psychosis involved. But not too much less.), and the team is younger, and, to an extent rebuilding. So, they part ways, no harm really done, and Man U. thumps Charlton 3-1 on the weekend. The Eagles? Enjoy the JimVinceMike McMahon era...
  • From the very little I've seen so far, I might have to give Neo-Hockey a chance.
  • Can I, without being struck by lightning, ask whether Brett Favre is even above-average at this point in his career?
  • Ruben Patterson was sent packing by the Jail Blazers. Mainly for being Ruben Patterson: a monstrous jackass with an over-inflated sense of ability and self-worth. In fairness he's had a decent career, but really, has there been a more 'win alot of games with NBA jackass and/or bust players' program over the past 10-15 years than Huggins's Cincy? I think the school was stupid to dump him when they did (why not just do it right after last season? Why wait til right before school starts. No comprendo), but I don't feel bad for him at all. As much as Pat Riley did to thuggify the NBA in the mid-90's, Huggins did to college hoops a few years later. His teams usually resembled a squad of roided up linebackers, except for the one wiry kid. I imagine the practices being held in the weight room, "Get in here, Brutus, Bluto, Hulk. Skippy, you stay out there and shoot jumpshots, we have to score someone..." And aside from NVE, who in his prime was legitimately terrorizing in clutch time, they've all been terrible and headcases. Plus, there was Josh's idol, Bobby "Barb-Wire Tat" Brannen...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Events Conspire to Make Me Look Smart

Last night, in ranting about Sony, I wrote "Apparently, I'm not the only one who's mighty peeved about this. Something tells me that the plaintiff's bar smells blood in the water here..."

Well, it didn't take long for the frenzy to start. First, via Steph, I get an email informing me that the State of Texas has sued Sony. When it comes to computer shennanigans, the message is clear: don't mess with Texas.

Similarly, don't mess with LawGeek. His Electronic Freedom Foundation has sued in California. Both the Geek and Joe have links and details.

LawGeek also has related stories. The first is merely distateful. Sony's tech honcho failing upward into a new job with...a firm develops DRM software. The glass is half-full take is that at least he knows what not to do.

The second item is downright and completely suck. Instead of Sony buying back their own crap, the Army and Airforce are doing it instead. Your tax dollars, hard at work in the fight for digital Luddites.

And then there is this analogy to put the whole thing in context:
And then hurl it through the window of a Sony officer
and run like hell

Congratulations in Order

Before I forget, wanted to congratulate those who found out they passed the California Bar this weekend. Lucky winners include Joe and my co-coach with the FY Unicorns. Good work guys. Go forth and litigate. Otherwise the terrorists win.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pooh to RIAA: I Agree with the Veep on this One

Thanks to the SlatRat for riling me up this late in the evening, but this cannot stand. In fact, I shall Fisk it:
The RIAA has recently defended the actions of Sony BMG, as well as the overall concept of CD-based content protection. In recent comments during a university press conference, RIAA president Cary Sherman applauded Sony BMG for its response to the rootkit problem. "The problem with the Sony BMG situation is that the technology they used contained a security vulnerability of which they were unaware,"
And the problem with eating McDonalds for every meal is you get fat. And the problem with the Pinto is that it blows up. And the problem with...
Sherman said in response to a question on the matter. "They have apologized for their mistake, ceased manufacture of CDs with that technology, and pulled CDs with that technology from store shelves. Seems very responsible to me."
Well pardon me, but when one is bringing out a new product, isn't there some kind of onus on one to make sure it works, like, a little before releasing it. Look, copy protection is fine so far as it goes, but when virus-blocking software goes batshit at your chosen method, you might want to spend a little more time at the drawing baord.
Sherman also used the forum to defend the use of CD-based protection technologies overall, something that has come under attack following the rootkit situation. "There is nothing unusual about technology being used to protect intellectual property,"
A bland and irrefutable platitutde, but he's not finished...
Sherman underscored. "You can't simply make an extra copy of a Microsoft operating system, or virtually any other commercially-released software program for that matter."
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but is MS really the example you want to use here? Ironically, Sherman is alluding to the Sherman Act...I mean the last time Microsoft had its operating system break things on a user's machine (like, say, NETSCAPE?), I believe the Department of Justice got involved.
Continuing, Sherman also pointed to relatively lax usage rules compared to other industries. "The music industry has been more permissive about copying of its copyrighted product than virtually any other industry. How many burns are you allowed of a movie? None. How many of a videogame? None. You get the idea." The comments were made on Friday.
So because some people have pirated music, it's a good idea to punish those who actually bought your crappy Ashley Simplson bullshit, and are unable to defend themselves...This is a bit like a Salem trial. If your computer breaks, our bad, you weren't one of the ones we were after. If it doesn't, well then SHE'S A WITCH...BURN HER!

Sorry to quote VP Cheney twice in one week, but Mr. Sherman, the RIAA and especially Sony, Go Fuck Yourself.

Update (via LawGeek): A parody/villification site has been set up naming itself Sory Electronics. Apparently, I'm not the only one who's mighty peeved about this. Something tells me that the plaintiff's bar smells blood in the water here...

Fear of a Bland Planet

I love rap music. I have since the first time I heard PE's "Contract on the World Love Jam" to open "Fear of a Black Planet". My father, predictably, asked "What is that garbage? For the last few years, there has been an element of things coming full-circle. Most new popular hip-hop is, to my ear, garbage. I'm not one of those people who say "its too violent and misogynist". "The Chronic" was both, in spades, and it remains a brilliant piece of work which is as listenable today as it was back in 1991.

Eminem is popular not because his lyrics are violent or because he is white (though both do contribute to his fame and his controversial status), but because he has flow. He can write meaningful rhymes and then deliver them. Does he express ugly ideas? All the time, but he expresses them well. I've written previously about my reverence for language. Rap, at its best, shows how evocative the spoken word can be, whether it's Biggie setting the standard for Ghetto Fabulous in "Big Poppa" or "Juicy", Wu-Tang illustrating how "Cash Rules Everything Around Me" or Will Smith lamenting that "Parents Just Don't Understand".

No, the problem is that the art form has become completely commodified and derivative. Sex and violence sells records. So why, as a record exec, would you go beyond that to try and find someone who can, you know, actually rap? Find someone with a suitably gravelly voice and menacing aspect, throw some kind of thick beat down, and print money. If you're lucky you might even get to make a video with chicks in bikinis making come-hither at the camera. Thus, we have such forgettable tripe as Mystikal and...actually I'm having trouble remembering the names of individual acts because there is so little that is individual about them.

Is it any wonder that many of the more distinctive voices are moving away from rap and into business (Jay-Z), 'political commentary' (Kanye), or acting (Ludicris, Andre3000, Sticky Fingaz from Onyx)? Unfortunately, even this "cross-over" is becoming commodified. Witness the 50 Cent blitz going on now, what with movies, CD's and video games. (Spaceballs the Flamethrower, the kids love this one...). It's not an artist, it's a marketing plan. Here's an interesting take on 50 as not so much a paragon, but rather the embodiment of this trend:
Discussions about Fiddy are never really about Fiddy, he acts met[o]nymically for rap at large because he displays no uniqueness. He stands in for rather than out from his genre. He is literally a stereotype, and a wildly successful one at that. In one version of this theory, he plays the part and plays the game to perfection. In another, he is all that is bland and exploitative about rap.
(Via Lauren).

World Weariness, Game Theory and the United States House of Representatives

I am fatigued. World weary. Cognitively drained. I honestly tried to get myself worked up into a righteous lather about the debacle that was the Jean Schmidt floorshow. (and, as she had to come back later and 'remove' her remarks from the record, the 9 o'clock show was completely different from the 7 o'clock show.) But there is just no indignation to be had.

Mainly, there was a certain feeling of inevitability that American political debate has reached this level. Many are familiar with the economic concept of the prisoner's dilemma*, and it describes modern politics perfectly. If you get a certain bump from substituting volume and vehemence for substance, its good for a time. Until the other side matches your level of hysteria. Or you can avoid the question by charging that the other side is playing politics, which is of course, a political play in itself. So everyone is 'maneuvering', and no one is governing.

I was not especially politically aware during the Clinton years, so this may be selective memory on my part, but it seems that during that time, the GOP perfected the tactics of playing dirty, and bullying their way to victory. I only use those terms in the pejorative sense to the extant that I think the Republican agenda is not good for the country. From a tactical standpoint, it makes perfect sense. They own the White House and Congress. Unfortunately, since the Dems have finally grown a pair, they can't do anything, because everybody is playing dirty. But if you view politics as zero-sum, this is the equivalent getting a lead early and running out the clock.

We in the blogosphere are, unfortunately, more a part of the problem than the solution. Both sides have lost all perspective on, well, perspective. Any setback or dissonant opinion is the worst thing ever, be it 'unpatriotic' or 'McCarthyite', or whatever incendiary language you want to use. So when something truly remarkable, and awful, such as Schmidt's vicious attack on Murtha, (you would think that Murtha would be above reproach on matters of patriotism or personal courage, but no one seems to be) there is simply no way to distinguish between the usual screechings of the far left and truly deserved mystification and anger over this particular incident. When thousands of boys cry wolf dozens of times a day each, any sighting of the actual beast gets lost in the cacophony.**

Further, we might be seeing what might be called the 'obverse side' of the new media. Yes, one can find virtually any viewpoint from a variety of sources. But this sheer volume of options lets one ignore, consciously or otherwise, viewpoints which don't mesh with their own without feeling uninformed. Thus we are left with opposing echo chambers, and a vast and barren middle ground, which is crossed by nobody except for academics, who are ignored; trolls, who are reviled; and humorists who aren't taken seriously.

* And it looks a little something like this:

GOP Engages is Reasonable DebateGOP Plays Dirty
Dems Engage is Reasonable DebateReasonable compromises reached. Business of government is performed
GOP runs Dems over.
Dems Play DirtyDems run GOP over
Everthything is 'politics'. Nothing gets done beyond symbolism.

** Its hardly an original thought on my part, but perhaps this "All Spin Zone" explains the popularity of such shows as CSI and the spin-offs. To paraphrase Gil Grissom, people lie, exaggerate and misrepresent. The evidence won't. At least for 42 minutes plus commercials on Thursday night.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Texas Tea! Black Gold!

Via Calamity Jake, I learn that BigAwl met with HAIC (head a*****e in charge) Dick Cheney's energy commission back in ought-1. First of all, NFW...I mean WATFO. Second, what's the big deal? (Oh, they lied about it. But they weren't under oath thanks again, uncle Ted).

With gas prices falling?skyrocketing, it's clear why this meeting was a bad idea. They conspired with the government to go to war, to create a panic, which caused a hurricane, and then another, which raised gas prices and hence their profits...what was I talking about again?

Well, somehow, this meeting means that there was some hanky-panky going on, and we are paying the price at the pump. Except, well, no. Aside from the sheer ridiculousness of the admittedly exaggerated, but not terribly far off chain of alleged casuality above, there are good reasons for questioning what, if anything, those meetings had to do with gas prices. For the economically minded, San Diego Econ Prof. James Hamilton asks his students similar questions. (head nod: Jane Galt). For example:
1.) The Cheney task force resulted in the Bush energy plan released in May 2001. Discuss in detail three elements of this plan that led to an increase in oil prices. Be sure to explain how this happened despite the fact that the legislation proposed in that plan was not passed by the Senate and, if passed, would have increased energy supplies.

2.) Even if one ignores the Bush energy plan itself, explain how secret consultations by the task force could have resulted in higher oil prices. Recall that the five executives who were called before the Senate last week represented BP, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips. Including all their global operations, these five companies between them produced 10.1 million barrels of oil per day in 2004 (data from Petroleum Review with a tip of the hat to The Oil Drum), which would represent 12% of global production of 83 mbd. Describe the precise actions these companies could have taken that could have led to a doubling of oil prices. If possible, bolster your argument with a numerical example using plausible elasticities and actual production figures.
The answer is that there is simply NOTHING these companies could have done, given their market share, to cause prices to double. In fact, absent worldwide cartelization, they were unlikely to be able to have much influence on price levels if they were merged into one company. But let's not let the facts get in the way of a good smear.

I mean, presumably the oil industry has some institutional knowledge that might be relevant to national energy policy. Should their recomendations be taken at face value? Of course not, they are not unbiased observers. Get some enviro-types and some replenishable energy folks in there too and hash it out like adults.

This is not to say everything was kosher, however. Much like the rapidly-escalating debate about why we invaded Iraq, the aftermath is far worse than the original incident. Why lie about being in the meeting? The worry that everyone would think that big energy producers were dictating energy policy is legitimate. Except for everyone knew that without the meeting. It's not exactly a secret that both the Pres. and Dick come from oil-and-business backgrounds. And now that the meeting was denied and covered up, it really does look like there was something to hide, when most likely nothing of substance happened beyond
"Hey, we sure did donate a lot to your campaigns".
"How the hell do you think you got in the door in the first place?"
What's wrong with simply saying "Yes, we met with some oil executives to hear their thoughts on energy policy, and we will be soliciting views from a variety of other industries and groups as well." Trying to reach a consensus and all. Why did this not happen? Go Fuck Yourself. (I'm sorry Mr. VP, that's non-responsive).

By this point everyone is certainly aware that oil companies make alot of money. My question is, so what? They got to be big companies because they produce large quantities of a product we all need. Good on them. It's not like they are extracting monopolistic rents (econ speak for "high prices when you are breaking the law") Assuming that we can trust their accounting (har har), they are making about 10% profit. Good, but not exactly unheard of. Sadly, they get up in hearings and do a little sad sack dance, rather than tell Congress to put a sock in it until they know what they are talking about.

Not to be Gordon Gecko, but profits are, in general, a Good Thing. Unless they are 'cheating', companies which make proftis are providing in demand goods and services, probably have a certain degree of stability in their employees (that means US, people), and are doing so in a non-wasteful manner. Markets are good at rewarding those who perform well and punishing those that don't.

Similarly, what's wrong with higher gas prices? Maybe people will take public transport. Maybe the incentive to come up with actual alternatives to high-emission fuels will be greater when gasoline is not a substantially cheaper alternative. And that would be terrible.

Update 2/1/06: Hello Conblogeration readers. More thoughts on the subject can be found here. Please have a look about.

Sony Retreats, Leaving Carnage (i.e. My iPod) Behind

Via Instapundit, Sony has graciously decided to recall over 2 million hacker time-bombsCD's containing the rootkit-installing DRM 'ineptware'. Sadly too late for me. And too late for many potential Sony customers. (When the uber-reasonable Tim Burke calls you out...)

I may have overstated the direct effect of that crap on my laptop in earlier posts, in that it wasn't the rootkit itself which broke various pieces of my box, but rather my attempts to fix it. So here is the state of things: CIV IV - barely works because of who knows why. Its great when it works, but I have to play the one 'starter' game over and over because the program crashes if I try to start a 'new' world from scratch. My iPod - functioning, but all my playlists got erased, plus I had to switch to RealPlayer to manage synching it since my iTunes-iPod interface seems irretrievably FUBAR. Oh and all the files that supposedly went on to the iPod from RealPlayer? Not so much...I'm sensing a weekend in TechnoFear hell

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Riddle Me This (or: Stick that in Your Textualist Pipe and Smoke It)

Why is it ok for there to be reasonable restrictions of Freedom of Speech in terms of Time, Place or Manner of said expression, yet many view any restriction on the right to bear arms is per se unreasonable?

Study Aid: The Bill of Rights.

On Anonymity

Josh notes that "A lot of blogs contain a whole heap of self-indulgent crap." This is, of course, true. Considering that blogs are, for many people, a 'public journal', this is also hardly surprising. But in search of this catharsis, how personal can you get? In part it would seem to depend on how well one guards one's 'real' identity. Josh's candor in his own "Purification Plan" might be stifled by the fact that many of his readers know where he sleeps. Deeply personal bloggers such as Ex-Boyfriend and Frankie cover a lot more ground because they can be complete honest once the pseudonyms (both for themselves and their, erm, victims) have been established.

In the past week, two incidents have come to light which deal directly with the issues of anonymity and outspokenness. First, there was a truly ugly kerfluffle involving uber-feminist Bitch, PhD, and a slightly pompous, intentionally provacative, commenter, who, following some pretty heated vitriol threatened to 'out' her, (sadly, it did not stop there. Investigate at your own peril). The resulting bruhaha has some interesting "discussion", not relevant here, (but see Cathy Young and especially Tim Burke for reasonable takes). Second, and closer to my heart, was Monday's Article III Groupie dénouement.

Now, much the B. PhD thing strikes me as, well, lame. As I commented on Cathy's post you can't let the people you agree with be jackasses and ban those who act similarly, but in support of an opposing viewpoint. That said, the threat to 'out' B. PhD just might be a firing offense. She's anonymous for a reason: she says stuff like this which though amusing, is probably not a story the protagonists would like to see in print. As a counterpoint, we see that UTR got zotzed within hours of the revelation that A3G was in fact a 30-year old, male, AUSA, the most likely theory being that his employers were not exactly wild about a blog dishing on the very judges they try cases in front of.

Herein lies my problem, I wanted to use this blog as a way to discuss my thoughts and experiences. However, the lack of real anonymity prevents me from being truly outspoken about anything, (except fricking A-Rod.) Many (most?) who read this are my close friends and family, so that takes away from the truth I can tell about life events. Plus, I haven't been as dilligent as I might have been about hiding my 'true identity', so anyone who wanted to find out who I am, could do so pretty easily.* Then there is the problem that the tone of my posts varies wildly from the serious to the facetious (to the inane, you might rightly ask...), and as Professor Althouse said with regards to A3G, "[c]ounting on other people to have a sense of humor is a very dangerous business." So how much of the ridiculousness I see on a daily basis at work can I talk about, leaving aside the bare minimums imposed by ethics rules? A3G almost certainly did not violate any of those, but the prudential concerns of not pissing judges off is an entirely seperate issue. It's not neccesarily a question of what I can and cannot talk about, but what I should or shouldn't.

* Update: Howard at How Appealing, the source of all things good and gossipy A3G related beat me to the punch. He also provides a link to a nice guide to blogging anonymously.

As my final thought on the A3G matter read this. The paradox of needing to be recognized as outstanding is a double-edged sword. The more anonymous you are, perhaps the better your
content can be, but the less people who know it is you who is responsible. No easy solution in sight.

The Other Side (Of the Island)

It's a good thing I have a DVR. Apparently its a bad idea to have your internet connection zotz while updating your blogger template. I barely finished reconstructing my lovingly maintained and vetted blogroll, when the Laker game switched off (no this is not my 5th sports post in a row, don't worry.) and...Freddie Prinze??? Oh that's the end of the show BEFORE Lost, but I'm here with Michelle Rodriguez. Nothing ever bad about that. Unless you are Maggie Grace and you got removed from the gravy train last week (or maybe you didn't. Is this all just an extended Boone hallucination? Don't push the button...)

Anyhoo, arresting right from the start this one was. It is clear that the original castaways had to be the focus of the show, mostly because they are more attractive as a rule than the "Tailaways", aside from the aforementioned Ana-Lucia (Rodiriguez), who's frankly to scary to have a crush on. Or not. Some are into the whole "spear me with a splintery stick" thing.

Goodwin, clearly an Other from the start (running from the jungle and, WAIT A MINUTE, Jack got thrown into the jungle in the Pilot, so it could happen. Though the tail landed in the water and the body of the plane didn't. Hrm...) I must say his body was very well preserved for having been in the jungle for 20 or so days (or was it 15, 16, 23, 42...DON'T PUSH THE BUTTON damnit...)

Mr. Ecko is a bad, bad man. Is he from Nigeria? Is he a smack dealer? Will he and Charlie have some things to discuss? The little boy had a teddy bear, which got taken with him.

I'm actually a bit peeved at the show for one thing they reminded me of. When Sawyer and Michael wash up on the beach, and Jin runs up, they do the camera work on Mr. Ecko kicking ass the same way they shoot the actual others. Blatant cinematic cheating.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fantasy Killed My Sports Star

I think Moneyball is one of the best and most important sports books written in the past 20 or so years. (Feinstein's Season on the Brink, Sam Smith's Jordan Rules, Will's Men at Work, Bissinger's Friday Night Lights and, sadly, at least in terms of importance, Canseco's book (no link because, screw him...) are some of the others. By early accounts Halberstam's new Belichick piece is right there as well.) For much of time, the decision making of sports teams has been hidebound by 'tradition', 'conventional wisdom' and 'unwritten rules'. So the introduction, and widespread acceptance of genuine, critical, quantative analysis is what an economist might term a net-postive result.

However, Baseball Crank's post about A-Rod's MVP and the resulting commentary raise a question in my mind. The discussion at Crank's inevitably turns to intangibles, because by most measures (aside from some second and third-level meta-analysis), A-Rod clearly had a superior season. However, as a visceral observer you just feel that Papi did more. As an example for intangibles winning the MVP, some point to Kirk Gibson over Darryl Strawberry in 1988. According to, Gibson hit .290/.370/.483 with 25 HR, 76 RBI and 106 R in 150 games. Strawberry - .269/.366/.545 with 39 HR 101 RBI 101 R in 153. Taking defense out of the equation (neither was Andruw Jones in the OF...), Strawberry clearly had a 'better' season, (I won't bore with such things as Runs Creater or Win Shares...) yet Gibson won, largely on the basis of intangibles (and a no-legged WS HR, lest we forget). Now, cutting throught that subjective crap is the whole point behind SABREmatics, and quantitative types say Starwberry got hosed in the voting.

However, is it possible that we have maybe gone TOO far down the path of uber-rationality by reducing the players to nothing more than aggregates of OPS and UzR's? The proliferation of fantasy sports has certainly contributed to reducing players to numeric automatons in our minds eye. But, 90% of the game is 1/2 mental (I'm sure I read that somewhere), and there is simply no way we can measure the benefits Gibson brought to the '88 Dodgers in this area (and I think we can agree that just the numbers cannot and do not tell the whole story about his contribution, even aside from the Eckersly walk-off). I mean, aside from the fact that every player on that team has a ring.

Anyone who has ever played a team sport knows that there is something to the 'winningness' of certain players. Big-Shot Bob Horry has it. Far superior players such as Vince Carter do not. Papi Ortiz has it. And that's all that I'm going to say about that.

Quick Hitters

  • Prof. David McGowan has interesting things to say about the ethics and practicalities of pre-commitment and judical confirmation hearings. Somewhat of a sticky wicket, a catch-22, a cannard, wrapped inside a riddle, inside an enigma: If a judge can't answer questions about specific cases, what do you talk about? Should the confirmation process really be ConLaw 101 for the Senators (many of whom have JD's)? If he can answer questions, it raises this problem:
    I would not want to litigate an issue in front of a judge who pledged under penalty of perjury and on national television to decide against me, even on just one issue. I suppose that is inevitable to some extent--if my claim is that price-fixing is free speech I am going to lose, and it won't matter much if a judge has said in a hearing that price-fixing is not free speech--but we can at least minimize the degree to which litigants know they are fighting the hearings as well as their opponents.
  • The "Bridge to Nowhere" is dead. Sort of. Actually, not at all. Overall, I think the project is stupid, but is it fair for Alaska to bear the brunt of the nation's displeasure with pork-barrel politics? I mean aside from having the temerity to keep sending Uncle Ted, and Dirty Uncle CrackerCitizen Don (Young)* back to D.C. for term after term. (Which, BTW makes a great deal of sense for many Alaskans. Even political liberals tend to benefit greatly from the largesse Stevens extracts for the state. We have a new museum building, all kinds of native heritage projects (which keep my mom in Lexuses, so they can't be all bad, right?) and a spiffy new WI-FI HotspotAirport terminal). If we are serious about controlling spending, then goddamnit, let's pass a balanced-budget amendment (did I just say that outloud? Quick someone get me some hippie-juice before I fall over to the right...). Alternatively, if this is about Katrina relief, how 'bout every body hop on board? This NIMBY tokenism drives me crazy. (Links via Instapundit and Club For Growth)

  • OK, Terrell Owens is an asshole (or is he? Read it). But he's also the best player in football, nobody works harder before during and after the game. If McNabb could run the 2 minute4 minute6 minute drill, he would have been Super Bowl MVP last year on a broken leg. Meanwhile, the Eagles can't win without him, they gave a running back who can't run the ball a massive contract extension, and this whole thing escalated because he got into a fight with a has been who had been cut in the pre-season. Plenty of discredit to go around here is all I'm saying.

* Perhaps apocryphal, but several years ago, during the NEA-Mapplethorpe spat, Rep. Young was addressing a high-school assembly, and a question was asked about what was so bad about the photos is question. After fumbling for just the right turn of phrase, Dandy Don opined something along the lines of: "It's just a bunch of pictures of people butt-fucking." Your United States Representative, ladies and germs.

Is There One For Billy Packer?

A website devoted to The idiocy of Tim McCarcer.

Some gems

  • "The reason we call that pitch up and in is because the arms are attached to the shoulder."

  • "There is a world of difference between a count of one ball and two strikes is a lot different situation than hitting with two strikes and one ball."

  • Joe Buck: "I am stunned the Angels don't have anyone warming up in their bullpen."
    McCarver: "I am your co-stunner."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Rationality Redux

Ok, so I've calmed down a little since learning that 'ol Hamburger Helper Mitts won the MVP. But not much.

Anyway, Baseball Crank defends the selection quite ably, noting correctly that by the straight 'numbers', Slappy had a better year, even before defense is put into play. He then loses me. After noting that
So, where did A-Rod make his real mark? Well, besides the 51 victories by 3 runs or less, the Yankees won 44 other games by 4 or more runs. Now, they may not be as dramatic as 1-run wins, but blowouts count just as much in the standings, and they mean an awful lot to a team with a shaky pitching staff,
he concludes "he's very, very good at putting games away early. Who can say the ability to win baseball games with ease isn't valuable?".

To quote, well, me, commenting in wonky fashion: "nice analysis in general. However, are you really claiming that winning by 4 runs is equally valuable as merely winning? Yes, winning blowouts is nice, but the marginal value of a blowout over a one-run win is almost certainly less then the marginal value of a one-run win over a one-run loss. We're arguing relative weight here, so the argument that winning big is 'also good' doesn't get you very far." Plus, and here's where Anger...RISING occurs, you are arguing that piling up big numbers in a blowout is better than hitting a walk-off...Karl Malone, Daunte Culpepper and Gregg Norman, you have a fourth...sorry, went a small bit snarky there...but as Herm Edwards would preachsay, "You play to win the game."

I don't think even the most irrational member of RSN (which I am not, but thisclose) would argue that Ortiz is a better player than SlappyA-Rod. The award is not "Best Player", its "Most Valuable". Sabremetrics are perfect (well, not perfect until the value of defense gets sorted out, but that's a different windmill...) for determining the former. The latter is a different situation. Do the Sawx make the playoffs w/o Ortiz? Absolutely not. Do the Yankees w/o A-Rod? Good question. The probability is less than 1 but greater than zero.

But then, I am not fully rational either in my love for Papi or my disdain for T-Mac of MLBA-Rod.

Et Tu, Sammy?

In a dramatic flip flop, blogging SCOTUS nominee Samuel Alito has withdrawn his support for the embattled A3G. Despite an alleged message from A3G, (reading in part: "I don't know if the blog is ever going to go back on, but there are some really positive things happening that I can't talk about in detail for a few days. Just stay posted"), I really think it's unfortunate that the Hon. Alito goes so far as to suggest that empowering a Special Prosecutor is in order. Though the A3G-David Lat story has barely reached the MainStream Media, this may be the last straw for many. I know it is for me. Though I was not impressed by yesterday's revelations of Alito's leanings, (though I hope in 20 years I am not held to anything I said to get my current job...) I was ready to look past it. But no more.

Though, via How Apealling (the Official Provider of A3G information) we at last get some good news. Money quote:
Friends who've spoken with him in the last few days say 1) that David's "outing" was totally voluntarily and 2) that he'd never broached the subject with his superiors before yesterday afternoon
er wait, I said good news...And if that isn't enough, further legal troubles may ensue. Methinks we have seen the last of fair A3G.

Update: apparently a few have taken the "Sam Alito at Blogspot" thing a leetle too seriously, so some of the above links may or may not work. Seriously people...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Free A3G!

A sad day in the Blawgispere. The marvelous Underneath Their Robes appears to have been "disappeared". (The last few weeks worth of posts are still up, for now, here.) The blog, pseudonymously written by "Article III Groupie"*, a very bright, well-credentialed young female attorney, who still harbors bitterness over not becoming a SCOTUS clerk, (or as she termed them, "The Elect"), provided a semi-serious, Tiger Beatish look at the federal judiciary, the latest round of Supreme Court Nominations, and the social lives of The Elect. One reviewer described the tone as that of "a boozy debutante", and though having not grown up in the South and thus not known any debutantes (though, I know too much about booze), that sounds about right.

Anyway, this past edition of The New Yorker outed A3G as a 30-year old Assistant U.S. Attorney from Joisey. A *gasp* male US attorney named David Lat. Predictably, fanboys everywhere went apeshit. Sadly, much of the commentary focused on the apparent creepiness of a male blogger calling such luminaries as Chief Justice Roberts and Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit as "Judicial Superhotties". Whatever guys, if, Dude Blogging Like a Lady was good enough for Shakespeare...(Though, to be fair, there may be something a little more insidious than simple homophobia going on here. Read this for an interesting take).

In a post later today (as mentioned above, still available from bloglines), A3G responded, somewhat cryptically, saying in part:
A few quibbles here (despite the meticulous fact-checking of the New Yorker's Tim Farrington, who even asked Lat to confirm whether his face can be fairly characterized as "boyish"). First, it's not entirely accurate to say that "A3G is... David Lat." Lat offers this explanation, which A3G reprints herein with his permission:

It's not fair to say that I "am" A3G. With apologies for this self-aggrandizing (but helpful) comparison, one would not say that Vladimir Nabokov "was" Humbert Humbert or that J.K. Rowling "is" Harry Potter. A3G is, like Chief Justice Roberts on the Supreme Court, "h[er] own [wo]man." Like Judge Posner's cat Dinah (also featured in the New Yorker -- with a picture), A3G is fiercely independent and answers to no one. In fact, when I have something to report to A3G, I email her about it -- just like any other reader of UTR.

My persistent denials of being A3G have been, in a technical and perhaps Clintonian sense, quite correct. My opinions and those of A3G are not exactly the same. In fact, some of the people that A3G has offered snarky commentary on are people for whom I harbor admiration, affection, or both. In short, A3G does as she pleases, and I cannot be blamed or held accountable for any of her misdeeds, indiscretions, or occasional vulgarity.

No, wait, that was Lat who said that. I'm as confused as you are...

Sadly, this unmasking was not without consequence. Somehow methinks that the powers that be at the Joisey branch of the DoJ were none too pleased with their doc review slave young associate dishing about the very judges they argued cases in front of. Could it possibly get back to them? (Well, considering that everyone short of CNN has now picked up the story, yes it might...) Whatever. Like judges know how to use the internet. Mine doesn't...(and if this blog is gone tommorow, you know why...)

There is also the matter of this shameless angling for a reality show appearance (from the New Yorker article)
Although he intended to remain anonymous, the success of the blog made coming clean irresistible. "I felt frustrated that I was putting a lot of time into this and was unable to get any credit for it," Lat said. "But eventually these things have a way of coming out anyway. I only hope that the judges I appear in front of don’t read it."
Calling all publishing houses?

In any event, at some point this evening, the music stopped, and A3G was left without a chair. After briefly displaying a message which reportedly read: "This Blog Has Been Taken Offline", the website is now password protected. One imagines FBI/Secret Service agents dismantling the A3G hard-drive piece by piece, searching for judicial porn...

Thankfully, this blatant act of artistc repression shall not stand. Led by SCOTUS nominee Samuel Alito,** a grass-roots campaign to Free A3G has begun. I am a soldier in the army of the lord.

Whatever the outcome, A3G has already proven the naysayers wrong by lasting this long: a prediciton from a noted practictioner last June:
Just remember to enjoy it now, because the anonymous author has only ten or fifteen posts before he or she is declared an enemy combatant and hauled off to rot at Guantanamo Bay. Sounds harsh, but it just isn't right to tease federal judges. And I ought to know.

So, say it loud and say it proud:


Update via Legal Underground: UTR retrospective available at Blawg Review.

* For the non-LawDorks, Article III of the U.S. Constitution is the source of federak judicial power in our system.

** In the interest of not looking like a moron, this is no more Nominee Alito than that was Harriet Miers. Though apparently Sam wants more then mere amnesty. He demands an apology .

I Can't Even Speak Rationally on This

Slappy McBluelips is your AL MVP. I didn't know that stats in games vs. the Royals counted double.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

An Aside

Though I frequently bitch about living in The 'Burg, sometimes you have to give due where due is credit.

The SlatRat took this while the Geeze and her were taking the now adopted Tige for a hike. (Or maybe Tige was taking them out for a spin and decided that he wanted to move in. 90 pounds of Bouvier is pretty difficult to sway once it reaches a decision...)

And as a bonus, Pops-as-mountain goat...


Patron. I feel fuzzy...

So fuzzy that I keep looking up and seeing the Vikings run back kicks for TD's. I must be hallucinating.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Magnet for Oddities

Josh and others have complained about the monotony of being tall at a bar. While I recognize that "how tall are you" could get old, it also has benefits. Due to repetition, you have a ready stable of responses at your disposal. By contrast, especially as someone who tends to hang out with taller friends, the "you're tall" thing doesn't happen to me. Instead, I get described as an "absconder", or some such drivel. But I had a new one this week. On Wednesday, (prior to my overly cursory viewing of Lost) I was asked, beer in hand no less, if I was a Mormon. Apparently, in some circles there has been a healthy trade in "wrecking Mormons," and as wonderful as that victimless crime might sound, I'm not eligible.

Ok, by way of full disclosure, it was not a pickup line, more the last in a string of non-sequitors from a family friend. As best I can reconstruct, (and without pause for me to get a word in): "Are you single? We don't know anyone, well there is her, but she kinda has a boyfriend? Are you mormon? He's small anyway, you could take him..." Could I not take him if I was a mormon, or would the taking be guaranteed in that case? I'm at a complete loss here, throw me a bone...

Moving to the hypothetical, if it were a pick up line (go with it, for me...) how does one respond? I can't pretend to actually be a Mormon, because that would be, like, wrong. Now, Amish, that I could do, because what's funnier then an Amish Alaskan in a bar?

Friday, November 11, 2005

What the Alito Debate is Really About

Via Jane Galt, we get a link to this expression of frustration (with respect to CJ Roberts) with the reduction of SCOTUS to a one-issue body by most of the polity:
Make no mistake, then - the Supreme Court is no longer the Supreme Court of past fame. It is now the National Abortion Tribunal, and its members are no longer jurists, they are the Keepers of the Abortion Toggle Switch.


Fig. 1A. Abortion Toggle Switch, closed.
Suction motors will engage.

As we can see from the schematic diagram above, the Abortion Toggle Switch is currently in the closed (ON) position. The entire purpose of the so-called Supreme Court, as current wisdom understands that purpose, is to stare at this switch all day wondering whether they should play with it or not.

This is both true and sad. The Roberts/Miers/Alito process could have spurred a discussion about what the proper role of the judiciary is within our constitutional framework. Instead, all we get is a bunch of results-oriented drivel from cynics on both sides of the spectrum basing their recomendations on breathless predictions and reading of tea leaves as to whether Alito will vote to *gasp* overturn hoary precent emodied in Roe.

The Judge as an impartial and apolitical arbiter may be dead...and it's the politicians who killed him. As Jane says, "[we] have no one to thank but the folks who decided that the path to freedom lies in ramming their opinions down the nation's throat with a one-vote majority." For someone who chose "law" over "business" because of the rules which had to be followed by these impartial decision makers to determine 'winners and losers', this is an unwelcome and uncomfortable development. As strong a supporter of women's reporductive rights as I am, I wonder whether such a divisve question is best resolved by the courts. (As a side note, this Hit & Run post has some interesting stuff about how abortion became such an explicitly left-right issue). If Roe was reversed, could we get back to talking about law?

(That being said, on balance, I think that Roe should be upheld, but that opinion is based more on pragmatism than any underlying constitutional principle, which in itself makes me uncomfortable. If I had my true druthers, I would like the result affirmed by the rationale changed to something under Equal Protection rather then the inherently murky 'Substantive Due Process - fundamental rights' approach of Roe itself)

Note: I highly recommend Jane's recent series of posts on the topic. Whether you agree or not, they frame the debate nicely and raise some issues that seldom get discussed. See also here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And of course, Freakonomics created quite a stir with the implication that legalized abortion correlates with lower crime rates. Repeat after me, correlation does not prove causation...

Professional Issues: Male Fashion on a Budget

So, as anyone who knows me in "meatspace" can attest, I have a tendancy to gain and lose weight fairly quickly (in the last year, I've probably been everywhere from 180-225, and back). During lawschool, this did not present much of a problem because my morning clothing decisions were generally A) Go to class? Bullshit, I'm eating pop-tarts and playing XBox today. (Hence the weight bouncing). B) Which hoodie goes with these ratty jeans?

Now that I'm back in the realjobisphere, working for one of the few 'old-school' judges here in the 'burg, I have to actually look 'professional'. For the longest time, I've felt uncomfortable wearing a shirt and tie, let alone a suit. As the years go by and my college peers become more and more succesful (especially for a bunch of liberal arts hippies...), the various Carleton weddings have taken on a semi-surreal 'costume-day' aspect. I know everyone there, it just seems like they are all trying to dress like adults. Very jarring. At the last one, there was a conversation of at least 45 minutes devoted to who had the best 'tie-dimple'. And we were only mostly joking.

In any event, for my job, I have to wear coat and tie every day. Nothing ridiculous there, especially since I'm, you know, a semi-lawyer. But here is the problem: My clothes seldom fit just right. My changing proportions (somehow, my neck expands and contracts by about 1.5 inches at a pop) mean that if that the arms are too short or too long, or the chest is too tight or too loose, or...etc. This may seem like a trivial matter, but it also makes it hard for me to buy clothes. I have to remember if it is puffy-Pooh or relatively slender-Pooh in the store on a given day, and adjust sizing decisions appropriately. If this seems trivial, well of course it is. That doesn't mean I don't spend too much time in contemplation of the matter.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I hate shopping. I get the 1000 mile-mall-crawl stare after 15 minutes, so finding the perfect 'look' is often secondary to getting out as fast as possible

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Pick Good

Apparently, my probnostication skills are deteriorating. First, I pick the Sawx to beat the, well Sox. That worked out not well. Then I picked the 'stros to win in 5, which was close, in that they could have won all 4 games. But the real dooze was my logically based intuition that John Locke was not long for Lost.

Of course, Shannon's apparent death was clearly on the cards from the moment of the "what the hell are ballerinas doing in my flashback...oh Shannon had a job...wait this is Shannon's episode...D-E-D, ded" scene. Or it would have been to me, had I not watched in slightly inebriated condition.* Of course, there is no way Sawyer was dying because, well, they hinted that Sawyer would die. So naturally, he can't.

Wet-Walt showed up again, which is cool. Unfortunately, I can't play things backwards on my DVR to see what he was trying to say ("Don't push the button" is apparently what he said the first time he showed up...) [Update: according to EW Wet-Walt sayeth: 'they're coming and they're close.' Which in retrospect is true...]

Other then that, not really much to this one. Shannon just needed someone to believe in her, now she's dead. *Shrug* And we don't get to see the Kate** for at least two more weeks since next week is the "Re-Pilot" episode. Which actually might give us some useful information about the Others (and could, if poorly done, be the shark-jump moment...). Incidentally, the best use of Pilot Part Deux I can remember was in The Shield (Season 2, episode 9), which I love. (Glenn Close was awesome last season as the hard-ass captain...).


*more thoughts on this later

** My mother is not the ideal audience for this show since she asks "How are her armpits always cleanly shaven." Just go with it...

Deep Thoughts From A Guy Named After a Bug

Flea, from the admittedly stupendous Red Hot Chili Peppers has an NBA blog (SG's intern occasionally comes up with good stuff). In discussing the NBA Dress code, he comes up with the following gems:
i remember once in the '80s when mike smrek was on the lakers and
detlef schrempf was on the supersonics
and smrek was guarding schrempf
chickie was going crazy calling the game
"its schrempf on smrek! i mean shcrmrek on smrempf! smrek blocks smrek's
and so on
As Kevin Harlan might (and has) said: "ACHTUNG Herr Schrempf! LUFTWAFFE!
greatest basketball names of all time:

world b free
sedale threatt
tayshaun prince
latrell sprewell
downtown freddie brown
moochie norris
mookie blaylock
spud webb
cazzie russell
ira newble
manute bol
muggsy bogues
cherokee parks
shandon anderson (it's the shand and that gets me)
god shammgod
and the incomparable smush parker

A solid list, missing just a few:

The brothers Mapp, Majestic and Scientific
Harold "the Show" Arcenaulx
Yuta Tabuse
Moses Scurry
Doremus Bennerman and a blast for the distant past...
Harthorne Nathniel Wingo

Did I miss any?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CJ Cregg He Is Not...

Scott McClellan is getting tossed around the White House briefing room like a rag doll these days. CJ always had a good joke for moments like this. But then, Helen Thomas is a little more of a pitbull then Danny Kincannon ever was...(full story here via Tom Tommorow)
Q I’d like you to clear up, once and for all, the ambiguity about torture. Can we get a straight answer? The President says we don’t do torture, but Cheney —

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s about as straight as it can be.

Q Yes, but Cheney has gone to the Senate and asked for an exemption on —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he has not. Are you claiming he’s asked for an exemption on torture? No, that’s —

[verbal sparring ensues]

Q That’s not the answer I’m asking for —

MR. McCLELLAN: It is an answer [my favorite line, BTW. I think a little Col. Jessop would have gone a long way for Scotty right here. YOU CAN'T HANDLE AN ANSWER]— because the American people want to know that we are doing all within our power to prevent terrorist attacks from happening. There are people in this world who want to spread a hateful ideology that is based on killing innocent men, women and children. We saw what they can do on September 11th —

[more obfuscation, stumbling and non-responsiveness]

Q So then why is the Vice President continuing to lobby on this issue? If you're very happy with the laws on the books, what needs change?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you asked me -- you want to ask questions of the Vice President's office, feel free to do that. We've made our position very clear, and it's spelled out on our website for everybody to see.

Q We don't need a website, we need you from the podium.

MR. McCLELLAN: And what I just told you is what our view is.

Q But Scott, do you see the contradiction --

MR. McCLELLAN: Jessica, go ahead.
At least lie to me. Tell me a big fat whopper. Insult my intelligence as a member of the public. Just don't not answer. I can imagine poor Scotty at the podium looking plaintively at dear old Helen with big puppy dog eyes trying to communicate non-verbally "Of course goddamn Cheney asked for an exception, but I can't say that because, well then I'd get fired and have to spend the next three years as a talking-head trying not to laugh at Tucker Carlson's fucking bowtie."

Alternatively, if you think that torture is indeed needed for guys like Khalid Shayk Muhammed, I'm willing to listen. But don't pretend its not happening. Shades of "We have surrounded them in their tanks" here....

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Stupid Movies and Smart Football

Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback is an odd smorgasboard. A smart look at a dumb game (aren't they all?). Economists love baseball, and I guess political types like football. Anyway. TMQ delivers an odd mix of insightful football analysis (rightly decrying "Fraidy Cat Coaches for punting on 4th and short when down later in the game), cheesecake cheerleader pics (with occassional beefcake shots for "female and non-traditional male readers) and tangential pop-culture discussions.

This week, Gregg takes on Hollywood. It's good stuff, with a curious blind spot:
What Hollywood Could Learn from the NFL: Film types are bemoaning a bad year at the box office. They blame DVDs, Internet piracy, El Nino: Everything but Hollywood itself. Tuesday Morning Quarterback suggests the box-office slump is a rational market response to a string of lousy movies. Major studios now assume that if you take a couple of brand-name stars, put them in a plot that makes no sense, have them read listlessly from a terrible script -- then add cleavage and explosions -- millions will pay $8 to sit through the result. The governing Hollywood premise is that typical ticket buyers are so incredibly stupid as to lack any ability to tell a good movie from a bad one. Actually, movie patrons are getting more sophisticated about flicks all the time, exactly as Hollywood dumbs down. Should we be surprised that steadily fewer people want to watch? Anyone selling a discretionary item, entertainment and sports among them, must never lose sight of the fact that quality is the essence of the product. Food and clothing are necessities; people don't have to have movie or sports tickets, so buyers line up only if they get their money's worth. In an era of 500 channels, the NFL continues to set records for gate attendance and ratings because product quality, namely the games themselves, remains the league's focus. Product quality seems last on the list of Hollywood's concerns. Which leads us to ...
Right on. I like movies. I can't remember the last studio movie I saw in a theatre which I really liked. I'm sure there was one, I just can't recollect. Actually, come to think of it, Easterbrook talks about the likely candidates, sort of.
Angelina Jolie can be a 'killer' at the box office. Shoot to Kill the Hitman Characters: Ben Affleck, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Garner, Samuel Jackson, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman and John Travolta have played hit men or women who will murder anyone, even the helpless, for money. The number of current box-office stars who have portrayed hired killers in major-studio films probably exceeds the number of paid professional assassins in the real world. You don't have to be Dr. Freud to speculate that cinema stars, steeped in a Hollywood culture obsessed with personal power, subconsciously fantasize about actually being able to kill whomever they please. But doesn't it strike you as strange that so many big-name stars are willing portray characters who commit murder without compunctions? Can it be coincidence the public is becoming turned off to the movies at the very time so many stars revel in morally vacant roles? And if Hollywood won't show smoking because viewers are impressionable, how come the movie industry eagerly glamorizes murder after murder after murder after murder? Which leads us to ...
Some of the better studio movie of the past few years have had just such a premise. "Collateral" (my favorite movie of last year), "Kill Bill", "Mr. & Mrs. Smith", "Grosse Pointe Blank", and lest we forget, the mind bending "Pulp Fiction" all were based on that premise to some degree. And let's not talk about "Gladiator", "Man on Fire" or the upcoming "Rocky 6" (seriously, let's never mention R6 again. Since R5 never happened, how can they be on to part 6 in any event?). Isn't part of the point of movies escapism: things that objectively can't happen, but make for good drama. Does the violence of "Lord of the Rings" make them bad movies? How about "Star Wars?" (no, the lack of decent scripts made those pieces of digitally rendered crap bad movies...) I'm getting a little worked up here, I feel very strongly about this...

Maybe Someone Can Invent an Electronic Device That Stops USA Today From Saying Murder Is "Fun": Recently, George Bush signed the Family Movie Act, legalizing electronic gizmos that delete violent scenes from privately owned movie DVDs. These devices will be busy! Sin City, a recent big-studio movie shown in suburban shopping malls, was praised by USA Today as "genuine fun." Sin City begins with a beautiful woman being murdered by a man she just met. The movie continues to dozens of graphic depictions of people being murdered, tortured or decapitated, and ends with the man of the opening scene capturing another beautiful woman and grinning as he prepares to murder her. Genuine fun! Of course, sometimes movie violence is justified; for instance, The Pianist was sickeningly violent and rightly so, as its subject was the Holocaust. Usually movie violence is just cheap exploitation and injurious to young viewers. Studies show the more cinematic depictions of violence to which a child is exposed, the more likely the child is to commit violent acts in adulthood: See this statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, summarizing research on the relationship between film violence and actual violence.
First of all, "Sin City" is meant to be a live action comic book, which, oh by the way, contains comic book violence. Second, I find it very difficult to stomach a football writer decrying on screen violence. Especially a football writer who regularly expounds upon the virtues of the "pound, pound, pound" running game where very big people moving very fast collide violently several times, and then get up and do it again.

The First Amendment protects moviemakers' rights to produce almost anything they wish. But just because it is legal to make films that glorify violence doesn't mean studios should do so; lots of things are legal and also irresponsible. If Hollywood doesn't want people buying gizmos to zap gratuitous bloodshed out of movies, there is a simple solution -- don't glamorize violence to begin with. Meanwhile, though there is far too much brutality in the movies,
Once again, you are making a living off of glorified actual violence, as opposed to Hollywood making money off of glorified simulated violence. Are you really suggesting that people are too stupid to tell the difference. Wait, don't answer that...
I don't think there is too much sex. In the last decade, Hollywood has almost completely abandoned sensuality to make room for more stabbing and screaming. I'd favor an electronic box that deletes the violent scenes from movies and replaces them with sex scenes
Ah. We again reach a meeting of the minds. Fair play, Mr. Easterbrook.