Saturday, December 31, 2005

Blawg News of the Day: Article III Groupie Returns

Underneath Their Robes returns from its, er, 'enforced absence'. Apparently, Mr. Lat has left government service, so A3G is out of the closetfree to return. Welcome back!

(H/T: Prof. Kerr)

Gripe: Meaningless Bowl Games

So, I tune to ESPN2 to watch The 'Stache in action...and there are 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter of the "Your-Name-Here-For-a-Mere-5-Million" Bowl between East Vermont Teachers College and Grenada State. (Er, make the Texas Christian and Iowa State. Whatever.) I'm neither a Christian Texan or an Iowan, why the hell do I care about this?


Morrison update to come, plus my thoughts on 'Zona/Washington.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Pooh's Law: "Never Assume Malice when Mere Incompentence would Suffice".

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

If You are Viewing this Blog In IE..

Go download FireFox. Do it now:
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.

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.
That is mind-boggling.

Some Quick Thoughts

  • 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 Portman qualities) 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.

Historical Revision of the Day: Prohibition, A Smashing Success

Yes, you read the correctly, prohibition worked. No, really, stop that laughing.

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!"


(H/T: Radley)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

War On Christmas: European Theatre

Scene - an English Nativity Play:
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.

Sweet Dreams?

In light of the consternation surrounding continued security concerns for soft targets such as chemical plants, might I suggest employing the very tasteful Sweet Dreams Security. I don't even know what this means as a mission statement

We aim to tackle the human habit of automatically absorbing our surroundings without actually perceiving them.

Our product ranges enable the viewer to realize relevant social developments through intelligent, entertaining design
but their stuff sure is stylish:

They put the razor-sharp in razor-wire:

And my favorite, the Couching Kitty, Hidden Camera:

(HT: The SlatRat)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Best. Website. Ever.

Pandora's Jukebox. How did I not hear about this sooner? (J-Dubs, get there. Trust me.)

(H/T: J-Cole)

Gripe of the Day: Opinion Polling

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.

Today's Gonzaga Update

First of all, remember this name: Rodney Carney. Maybe a little of the James Posey in him.

Second. The 'Stache is just awesome. 1821 in the first half, not shooting especially well, just finding ways to score. (Like draining trey in Carney's grille at the buzzer)

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...

Neccesary Equipment for Discussing Politics.

Since it most resembles head-butting a brick wall, I suggest this:

Monday, December 26, 2005

Banned Words and Phrases and Fashions for 2006

On the heals of last week's Airing of Grievances, there are certain words, phrases and concepts that are just driving me nuts, so I call for them to be banned until at least Jan 1, 2007.

#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.

All I Wanted for Christmas Was My Two Front Meme's

And thanks to Tim F., I'm halfway there...the Meme of Four. (Inicidentally, the Rule of Four is a fine book.)

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 West Wing (no, that one sucks now) ER (damnit) America's Next Top Model (where'd that come from? Oh yeah) The Wire.

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

Catch-22 and the NSA

First, thanks to J. Cole for the linky-love.

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.

I Forgot One...

Before I move off into other things, I totally forgot one major item from my list of grievances.

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...)


5:12 PM AKST: Finished shopping. This is the ealiest I've been done in five years.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pooh's KwanzmakuhYear's Day Airing of Grievances

John Cole has the wonderful idea of getting everything off your chest now so you can start the new year fresh.

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 WrongRight. Practice what you preach. Or call on god to smite Dover, same thing right? And how was it that the gays and liberals caused 9/11Katrina again? Thanks for NutraScienceTm as well. What do you mean some of the ingredients may rot my faculties and cause me to be outsourced?

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

Stevens SMASH

Uncle Ted, not best pleased over losing on ANWR, despite the power of his lucky tie. But hey, he's got a bridge to sell us...

(for the record, I'm agnostic on ANWR, but I don't feel strongly about it...)

NOBODY Expects the Secularist Inquisition

Sometimes, certain people just start to bore me. The makers of NutraSciencetm, tossing a nutty:
"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.

"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.
And to complete my overwhelming schadenfreude about the whole thing:
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

And So It Begins.

Closed Circuit to Pops and the SlatRat

Look, I couldn't be happier for you. Except for, well, me looking like this at some point in the near future:

Unfrozen Caveman MFY

Yeah, yeah, yeah the Evil Empire signed Johnny Damon. $4 years, $13 mil per. I think this is the rare deal that hurts everyone involved. The Sawx obviously need a CF, and I'm guessing the price for, say, Jeremy Reed just went up. The Yankees overpaid for an aging CF with no throwing harm to, er, replace their aging CF with no throwing arm (who the re-signed anyway.) Johnny has to cut his hair, and be buttoned-down corporate-whore guy. That worked out pretty well for the last 'free-spirit' they signed. Aside from the whole Balco thing. Oh and the almost dying from an intestinal parasite thing.

My Sportscenter moment.

I hate Vince Carter, but he had his second pantheon level dunk of the season last night. (The first was the 'lefty hang-in-the-air-for-3 seconds and DunkInZo'sFace' from a few weeks ago). Just thought I'd share.

Record Companies Don't Understand How Their Own Business Works

But if you do, it's prosecutable.

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

ID Bench-Slapped

You may have heard that the former school board of Dover, PA (former because they got booted for being kooks, most likely) had instituted an "All Intelligent Design, all the time" biology curriculum. (Introducing "NutraScience"tm brand, artificial learning supplement. Warning: Contains Religion-like substances.) This being America, certain parents sued. Today, a federal district court judge ruled on the matter. A snippet:
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

Overheard at Dinner with Pops

Sometimes, fantasy sports are the gift that keeps on giving.

"I'd rather have Pujols than Slappy."

A Sign of the Times.

I literally cannot tell whether this is parody or not:
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

Don Shula, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Champaign's on us...

Well, at least Tony Dungy can really rest his starters for the playoffs now..


Wading back into politics (in contradiction of my new, yet unstated policy) for a moment, why not get a warrant? The legal justification for warrantless wiretaps of U.S. persons is crap and clearly so. But that ignores the question of why bother? You can tap-for-free for 3 days before getting a warrant. And it's not like getting a warrant is hard under FISA. So I'm left scratching my head, asking why.

Of course, the maxim to never suppose actual malice when mere incompetence is a sufficient explanation probably holds.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

How to Keep Your Ego at a Manageable Size

Make stupid predictions, which are exposed as such in one day. Yeah, Texas was without Buckman, and Gibson went out early, but it's TENNESSEE. When was the last year the TN Women's team couldn't beat the men's? (Parenthetically, why not hire her to coach the men's team? Like the players wouldn't be scared out of their minds by her...)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Why ARE XBox Prices So Low?

At Volokh they raise this question:
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?

My thoughts:

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...

Closed Circuit to Pops

About goddamn time.

Why Texas is More Likely to Play "One Shining Moment" than Duke

Seems ridiculous right? Duke wins by 30, but I think Texas will do better in March. Well here's why. I can already see the game Duke loses, either in the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8. They're playing a team with two big guys who can score and an athletic backcourt. Sheldon Williams is in foul trouble. JJ Redick is getting face guarded by a 6'7 guy who can run and jump.

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.)

Just saying.

Typepad, WTF?

Has anyone else noted that Typepad blogs have all had posts made after December 10 deleted? Up with Blogger, I guess. At least when it has outages my stuff is still here. (Like that's a good thing...)

And of course, not 2 minutes after I post...yes, it has been noticed.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Why the Knicks Should Trade for Ron Artest

Overheard in a discussion about whether the Knicks should trade Channing Frye and pieces for Artest:

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.

A Question Concerning Kong (light spoilers)

Full thoughts later (aside from - I liked it.) But for the last 3rd or so of the movie I was reminded of this thread a few days ago at Althouse, (and here as well) wondering if it is too soon to make a 9/11 film. Most thought that it is (though the fact that Oliver Stone is directing seems to be more of an issue than the film itself. My own thoughts are that I think it is definitely time - a true American Hero(es) tale would be good for unity I would think - but that Stone is not the right guy, both by directorial inclination/style and the obvious reaction he elicits.)

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

I Was Never Good At Tag As A Child.

I preferred dodgeball. Cause I'm violent like that. So, yeah, Frankie tagged me. Hey at least I won't have the 'weirdest' stories, considering that my competition includes a stripper's retrospective and a genuine bridge & tunneler.

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 fucking bullshit show was filmed in Washington State. No, people in Alaska aren't bitter about that. Yes, that last statement was a lie. And finally, No, my father is not consigliere to the Alaskan Mob.

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.)


Before I read any commentary, I have to say that W's speech today is fantastic. Truly spectacular. (And as anyone knows, I'm no bob for this admin, but sometimes you have to give due where due is credit.)

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.

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.
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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Syrania: Grandiose, Insidious and I Want More Films Like It

I saw Syriana on Friday night. I've been trying to figure out exactly how to convey my thoughts on the film. Let me start here. I am shocked that this movie got made. I mean that as a completely value-neutral expression of surprise.

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.

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.


With the success of SABRmetrics over the years, folks in other sports have tried to duplicate the objectivity of the statistical analysis performed on baseball. (For example, try Baseball Prospectus) Unfortunately, no other team sport lends itself to quite that degree of rigor: too many things are happening simultaneously to isolate specific events. (Incidentally, this probably explains the problem of tracking defensive stats in baseball, and in seperating pitching and defense.)

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.

Maye: Any publicity is good publicity.

First of all, Radley has posted an updated summary of the facts (combined with some well founded speculation, which he clearly identitifes as such.) The blogosphere being what it is, commenters are already (understandably) indentifying errors in some of the early reports, so it's important to stay on top of the facts as they become clearer.

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:

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.

As of yet, I have not seen anything regarding such a fund, but if I do, I'll post it.

Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Just wamted to say "Happy [REDACTED] Birthday to pops. He puts the E-Z in Geezeman

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cory Maye, Cont.

I mentioned this earlier, and I get more and more angry as I think about it longer. It just combines the worst aspects of so many mistaken policies: The "war" on drugs; the erosion of civil liberties in exchange for the illusion of security; the thought that racism in America is dead; the arbitrary and irrational sentancing system.

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

I'm Just Saying (Dress Code Edition)

I went to the roller derby and a basketball game broke out. I have so many questions here. Who are the Heat "throwing back" to? They've been around since what 1990? I've seen them play at least once per season since then. They have never had a Rainbow Sherbert slash on their unis. Ever.

I'm Just Saying (Baseball Edition)

Sawx to Rocket: Let's Talk


Calogero kills cop. I'm not sure why but this story really saddens me. A Bronx Tale is one of my favortie movies of all time. Not sure how it will hold up knowing that C doesn't turn out ok.


Well, Fletcher seems to be correct - the Houstan Texas have "earned" the right to ruin Reggie Bush's career. How do you miss a 31 yard FG by 45 feet? Could I be an NFL kicker?

In other Sunday Sports news - the new Lebron = Andre3000 commercial? Genius.

A Few Legal Links

  • 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:

    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.
    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.

    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

Duke. Gonzaga. Throwbacks.

Since I've previously outed myself as a Dookie, I can crow about today's demolition of Texas. (Though, in fairness, I think Buckman going down had a good deal of influence on the margin if not the outcome.) I've thought that the Devils are overrated at #1 all season, since it seems they have about 2.5 guys (JJ, Lanndlord and Melchionni). Or maybe not, since Dockery seems to have remembered how to shoot, and Paulus and McRoberts showed a lot today. (especially Paulus, though he may indeed have a bit of the WoJo in him. Incidentally, a friend of Josh and mine used to date a girl who was WoJo's girlfriend in college. He (the friend, not WoJo) is also a reality TV "star" and charter member of the Wally Szerbiak posse. What does this have to do with Greg Paulus? Who knows, just thought it was interesting.) It also helps when Reddick is doing his Chris Kingsbury-minus-the-cigs imatation. Texas could turn out to be pretty good (their front-line is tough), but their guards suck. Plus what the hell is P.J. Tucker doing woofing at Reddick? He's in the middle of dropping 41 on your head and you are lucky to only lose by 31...

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
  1. Small town hick, (he's from Spokane) - check
  2. Making a small school big time - half-check.
  3. Genius level basketball IQ - 175, Check (I love when the nations leading scorer gets 5-10 per game on back door cuts)
  4. Ugly, not-especially-athletic white kid with bad hair and a worse stache - check, check and CHECK
  5. As Bill Raftery would say "ONIONS" - Big bad check
there is a passing similarity. But what is the likelihood that he turns out to be much better than Austin Croshere in the pros? I'm just saying...

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.

Reggie Bush

Or, as I shall refer to him until he proves otherwise, "The Truth"

Friday, December 09, 2005

Pathological Bias: Not Just for Talk Radio

Something tells me this article will be the set up for many a quip in the coming days. Let me be the first:
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.)

Germany 2006 Starts Here: Tough Draw

The draw for next year's World Cup Finals was held. And we got hosed. The always nasty Italians, a robust Ghanian squad, and the Czech Republic (who, on their day, are the most attractive European team going in terms of style of play). Meanwhile England and the German hosts (hmmmmm) receive groups that could be charitably described as "cake".

I'm already fired up for this - I love international footballsoccerFUTBOL tournaments, though for whatever reason, the European Championships tend to have better games.

Update: Victoria has thoughts on the draw.

Further Thoughts on Miami Airport Shooting

Skepticism about whether Alpizar ever claimed to have a bomb is emerging from passengers from the plane. This doesn't really change my view of the incident for two reasons: first, there remains significant disagreement as to what actually occured on the plane itself. Eyewitness testimony not especially reliable in these sorts of incidents (past recollection of the same event witnessed under stress vary greatly from person to person). Second, there is still this account of what occured on the jetway:
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)

How to Handle the Holiday Cheer

Frankie, not relaxed, does her part to spread the joy...Quite possibly post of the month. NSFW if work frowns upon laughter.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Weekly DogBlog


Quick Musings: In Which Pooh Links to Fox News with Approval. Twice.

  • 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.)
  • 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.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Air Marshall Shooting: What Else Could Have Happened?

This is tragic:
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.

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.

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:
"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)

BosMos Update

Loretta for Mirabelli? Like it, though it does give us two possible 'roid tainted infielders (Lowell being the other. I don't know anything about Loretta, but the "Huge '04 followed by terrible/injury riddled '05" is a red flag in my (and many other) book) Always worrisome. Not really losing a lot with Mirabelli. He's a nice enough player, but its put up or shut up time for Kelly Shoppach, and he's cheaper.

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...

En Fuego

I have to say, Publius at Legal Fiction has been on fire this week. A string of thoughtful, articulate posts. (Bias warning : he is a big L Liberal. Probably far to my left, and though I tend to agree with much of what he says, I think we differ in many areas: specifically, I think us getting our shit together in Iraq is possible, he doesn't.)

I'm Annoyed...

Since I started blogging about non-trivial things a few months ago, it's been a largely positive experience. Today was, to some degree, the first instance of "Bad Times" I've had. Not to put too fine a point on it, I got sucked in by a troll. Commenting on this post at Althouse, concerning a case recently argued in front of SCOTUS. (The case concerned the Salomon Amendment, which conditions funding to universities on law schools allowing military recruiters access to on-campus interviewing. To my mind, an interesting but not doctrinealy difficult application of Congress's spending power. It's also a stupid law, as it's based on upholding the worst-of-all-worlds "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. But stupid does not neccesarily equal unconstitutional, but I digress.)

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 probablycertainly incited a few brawls myself...) However, I tried to restrain myself perhaps because of this discussion at Cathy Young's place, and also because this was simply a no-win situation.

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?

Normal Service Returned

Cold water aplenty this morning. Just in case you were concerned.

Story of the Day: Christians Say W not Christian Enough

Pooh: In an effort to limit my own, endless supply of snark, I'm going to try and limit myself to one per day. We'll see how it goes.

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

A Day Not Well-Begun

I am the world's worst morning person. I've actually been clinically diagnosed as such. Well, maybe not the worst, but a few months back, I visited a noted sleep therapy center. After an examination, they described my condition in three, massively polysyllabic words (which unfortunately, I didn't write down). When my blank stare did not abate, the doctor reassured me: "basically, that just means you're not a morning person." Thanks doc, $500 well spent (well, actually $25 of my dollars. The good old days of student insurance...) In retrospect, I should have gotten a doctor's note, so that when I'm late for work (and it is most certainly a 'when' and not an 'if'), I can show it to my boss. And then I don't have to go outside at recess with the other kids either.

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.

Violent (Rhetoric) Begets Violence

This is not good. A University of Kansas religious studies professor was attacked by two assailants on Monday. While this would be unsettling news in any case, the circumstances of the incident really case a pall. Professor Mirecki, best known for a recent spat with Intelligent Design proponents which caused him to withdraw a class on ID and other 'myths'. And lest we think the incident was random, it does not appear to have been:

[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.

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.

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.

Isaiah Thomas Signs Talented, Troubled Underachiever

Jamal CrawfordJerome JamesEddy CurryQyntel Woods signed with the Knicks today. For those not familiar:
A 2002 first-round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, Woods has experienced off-the-court problems throughout his rocky professional career.

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.
But, at least he can play:
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

And Now For Something Completely Different

I feel much better now...anyway, I just realised I've been remiss in updating my entertainment choices of late.

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.

Why Leadership Matters

Welcome to the ranty portion of tonight's blogging. I'll try to keep a cool head on my shoulders.

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'

2. Gonzales Defends Approval of Texas Redistricting by Justice

3. No One Home at HUD

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.

4. Head of POW Affairs Resigns

A senior Pentagon official who has been under internal investigation, accused of abusive management practices, told his staff he was retiring for health reasons.

5. State Department Using Ideological Litmus Tests to Screen Speakers

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:
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.

Never Fear, the U.S. House of Reps is Here (BCS Version)

Arriving fashionably late, as usual, the International House of Pork (IHOP)U.S. House of Representatives (HREP) has discovered that the BCS is a crappy way to determine a national champion. They are so upset about this that they are going to hold hearings, presumably to tap into the sea of dirty money upon which DI-A football floats. As a thought experiment, with which word is the following most accurate?
"[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.
. . .
"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."
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."

Insurgency is Like Credit Card Debt

You can either pay alot now, or pay much more, over a long period of time. We might be getting the message. Finally. Instead of playing jihadi-mole, we have begun to take and hold towns. Which is good:
"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?

America Loses Monopoly...On Bad Taste

I don't think this is what was meant by "No End but Victory":
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
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...

Come on.

Always look on the bright side
of life...
(and so on...). That's right, the Monty Python school of foreign affairs reporting is alive and well. (link via: Wonkette)

When Canadian Intellectuals Attack

Apparently, Canadians think we are stupid. Of course, we give them good reason, since we hate hockey and promote 'Intelligent Design' as science. But they are of good-enough humor that they only gently satirize us. An exerpt:
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)