Singing Loudly: June 2004

Singing Loudly

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Dealing with Sadness

An excerpt

Because I Wanted to Write a Happy Poem, I Thought of Harry Caray's Dying

No, not the actual instant, days delayed,
the cord unplugged, all the possible perils
of the possible -- soul not that I've in mind
his boozeless Valentine's dinner with Dutchie
the long-suffering, imperturbable wife.
His turning away the wine list with wrist flick
and head shake, lemon tottering his water
among ice. I've in mind beads his hand
stitched free raising that glass against
the stroke-addled tongue he'd wrap
around Andres Gala-Rala-Allah-Angora,
or Hector Villa-Who-New-Wave-Ahh.
Look, I'm no Cubs fan. I don't even have cable.
But Harry's "good friend" Pete Vonachen
my wife treats for diabetes, and I've driven
past Wainwright Welding in Moline whose picnic
Harry pronounced around Spike & Daisy's
50th announcement. All the malted hop
bar hopping I'll not get into, or his feud
with Augie Busch the Teutonic Turtleneck.

by Kevin Stein

That should make one feel better.

Footnote This

Tasty Footnote, Tasty Footnote, Tasty Footnote.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Parallel Stories - Dodgeball and Fahrenheit 9/11

POSSIBLE SPOILERS. I try to keep it sort of vague though...

This weekend I went and saw two wonderful films: Dodgeball and Fahrenheit 9/11. What was remarkable to me is that they were essentially the same story with endings that were simply juxtaposed. Both stories end with the seemingly incompetent businessmen doing what is best to make money in the long run. As like most fiction, it is the good guy who wins out and does what is right. Meanwhile, like most non-fiction, it is the money-grubbing cheat who wins.

Both movies are led by good old boys who would rather let their shirt hang out and drink a beer with their buddies than actually get down to business and, well, run their business. While the leader in each story is terribly incompetent one of the leaders is a likeable guy while the other comes across as being a power hungry, money grubbing, oil-drilling (usually unsuccessfully) wrench in the machine.

In Dodgeball, Vince Vaughn, the owner of Average Joe's Gym learns that his gym has come under attack from none other than Ben Stiller who owns the highly lucrative, and quite successful, Globo Gym. Of course, when you hear Globo Gym, how can you not think of Globo-Corp which in Mr. Show owns everything.

In both movies someone was wanting to destroy ways of life. Where Dodgeball is able to go after the correct enemy, after hitting some other teams along the way, Fahrenheit is never able to find the correct culprit. The leader of America, the laughable, yet contemptible George W. Bush, learns that America is under attack. He learns of this while teaching part of his clientele how to read; Vaughn learns of his attack while teaching part of his clientele how to work out. Unlike Dodgeball, however, in the end the enemy that attacked is probably not who was actually attacked by the Average Joes.

In both films, as in all good plot lines, when their property comes under attack it is time to send the Average Joes to fight back. In Dodgeball, Vaughn spends much time deliberating with his key constituents about what to do to save Average Joe's. Meanwhile in Fahrenheit Dubya, being the seemingly better businessman, joins up with fellow businessmen to discuss what the best method of attack will be for opportunistic purposes. Plot device? Is this a trick to make the supposed hero appear evil? Oh the suspense.

What do you do when you come under attack? That's right! You fight someone to the initial attack to build up your self-esteem. In Dodgeball, the Average Joe's head to the regional qualifier for the Dodgeball championship to fight six Girl Scouts. Pow! Dodge! Smack! They lost the game but won on a technicality. The Average Joes in Fahrenheit (as you learn, the majority of the men and women who joined the armed forces are those who are not well off and need the opportunities the armed forces can deliver) go to the regional qualifiers in good old Afghanistan. Pow! Flame! "Smoke 'em out!" Can you believe it, Dubya won that qualifier too?!

To get the money and save what they love it is time to head on to the big fight. The teams have been trained and the troops are built up. It's time to reap their reward. While Vaughn and his team are able to advance with a little fear through each of the rounds, Dubya and his troops are able to blast their way through city after city. In each case there are some casualties. There are even a few deaths in each.

Oh yeah there are deaths in both flicks! Fortunately, the leader in Fahrenheit, Dubya, claims that he understands the pain of a mother whose son was killed in Iraq last April. The city that is unwillingly hosting the match between the United States and the confused Iraqis. The story she tells is both patriotic, anti-this war, and harrowing. The deaths depicted in each movie are enough to bring a tear to your eyes (they did mine), unfortunately one is from empathy while the other is from glee. The death in Dodgeball was the result of a large "Luck of the Irish" sign! This occurred in the willing host city of Las Vegas.

In the end, the war in each ended. Vaughn was able to lead his team to victory in a sudden death match. We think that he might have signed off his soul to the bad guys for a little extra money. Then, in a surprise move he was able to win back all that was wanted. The good guy succeeds and removes the bad guy! Yay!

In the other story, Dubya declares victory! Hooray!

But the ending is so smooth. He isn't the good guy we thought he was, because he does sell off to the bad guys. The match isn't really over. In reality, hundreds of more casualties are happening each month. Families have been split apart. And for what? Dubya's Average Joe's Gym wasn't going to be leveled into a parking lot by the so called enemy. It's the Average Joe's who are being sent over to a country to fight for his oil interests. Dubya gets his reward. Halliburton has made millions of dollars of this war. Black Gold is the treasure that is found in this movie. The other movie also has a treasure chest but it is just a funny gag because there is an Average Joe who thinks he is a pirate. What kind of sense does this non-fiction make? The leader of these Average Joe's turns out to be a crook. He turns out to be a sham that wants to sign it all over, to give up what other people are fighting for, to earn a few quick bucks.

Both movies were great to watch. Both pull at your emotions in obvious ways. If you typically hate slapstick comedies, I urge you to give Dodgeball a shot.

Likewise, even if you don't like Michael Moore, you ought to watch this film. Understand that it is his take on what is going on. Much of it is opinion that is based on his interpretation of what he finds the facts to be. Whether or not they are all facts or that his conclusions are correctly drawn remains to be seen. Personally, I believe a lot of it, yet I understand that a lot of the movie was manipulative. That is what a skilled writer is able to do. If he is able to get more people to want to critically think about politics, than I think he's done this country a real favor.

UPDATE: Fixed some parts that weren't fully developed.

Celestial Harmonies

Aleksandar Hemon, possibly one of the best living fiction writers, writes a wonderful review of Celestial Harmonies by Péter Esterházy. I will pick up the book soon, but I encourage you to read the review. The review on it's own is a wonderful, smart, read.

Auto-Run Hell

Mark Krauenfelder at Boing Boing provides an assortment of reasons to disable the autorun feature in Windows. I realize that putting a cd into your computer and having the install screen automatically appear is very appealing, but I think the cost is too high for the benefit.


  1. It makes it far easier to accidentally install spyware.

  2. Viruses (only slightly worse than spyware) can become easier to accidentally download onto your system.

  3. Music labels are adding a file that keeps you from being able to make MP3s from your music, which is a right you have from your owning the album.
It really is not that difficult to open the install file on CD-Roms. If that is your only hang up for disabling autorun, then you really should consider giving it a shot. Otherwise, go for it right now. Screw autorun!

Here's how to do it via Engadget.

Text Messaging

Another post about cell phones; can we have too many? According to The Guardian the fastest time at text messaging a 160-character message has been blown away.

I realize that text messaging hasn't taken off in America like it has in Europe and Asia, but I still text message some. I wish that it would take off more, because often I find a quick text message more convenient. Say you are at a bar and you want your friend to come, you just need to send a quick message instead of finding a quiet spot. The downside to text messaging is that when I do message it usually takes me three times as long. The new record holder can sure click those buttons...

The Singaporean media reported yesterday that Kimberly Yeo, 23, clocked 43.24 seconds in the final of a competition organised by the city-state's main telephone company, SingTel.

Wow. In comparison, it takes me 43 seconds to get the cell phone out of my pocket.

All attempts to become the world's fastest texter have to use the following two sentences: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human."

This would take me over 45 minutes to write in a text message. Even after it was written the "Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus" would actually appear like: serrasalmus and pygocentrus, because I don't know how to make capital letters.

In all seriousness, if these people can text this quickly, I am sure that I could learn to write text messages a little quicker. I think that overall they are a much more useful way of using your cell phone when you just have a little to say. Furthermore, it is less of a distraction to people around you if you're typing into your phone instead of talking. In Ireland they also had numbers you could message to get things like the bus schedule sent to your cell.

I wish more people in America sent text messages. I know that the reason they don't is because we get free nights and weekends and however many anytime minutes on most accounts. I think that in Ireland it was all sort of pay by the usage, so it was much cheaper for people to send text messages.

I see a growing push for text messaging though with AOL and Yahoo! being available to use on cell phones. I'm sure, if nothing else, a little healthy competition will make Americans want to prove they are the fast texters in the world.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Blasted Cell Phones

I think that it is interesting that cell phones can lower the sperm count in a male by as much as 30%.

I enjoy Mac's response at pesky'apostrophe and thought that perhaps Erin at Erin-go-blog would enjoy it for the mixture of jabbing at Catholicism and references to Monty Python songs.

The games we play

Today I hopped on over to and saw that they had an article to help with Understanding Women's Mind Games.

Mind games, huh? Why do women play mind games Mr. Fitzgerald?

Well, for one thing, they're women. And women think and react with their emotions -- at least more than men do, in general. But it's really about testing us. And tests are ultimately all about control of the relationship. (Emphasis added)

Matthew, it seems like you're really backpedaling there as you start with the archaic claim that women think and react only with their emotions. In the middle of your silly claim did you suddenly realize that women are more complex in making choices than the simplest of animals? I doubt it, because I think it was more that you realized something akin to "hey, if I say this about women then the size of my potential dating pool will dramatically shrink." So, you temper it a little to include "a least more than men." Whatever that might mean at least now there might be a couple less self-respecting women who will overlook your stupid assertion.

Ok Matthew, let's go on to see if we can begin to understand these emotionally-burdened women...I'm going to leave out your explanation of "What's her mind game?" because most I don't really like them. Hey! I'll give you a chance to show why you think women are so caged by their emotions.

Sexy clothes
She wears provocative clothing and then gets mad when you check her out ("my eyes are up here...").

It's one thing if she has been flirting with you all night and then gets mad because you are checking her out or if she has been giving you hints that she doesn't like you all night and you don't get it. If it's the former, I'd rather walk away than get too involved. If it's the later she's just tired of giving you hints because you're too dull to catch on. Either way, this comment usually doesn't bode well.

Shallow initial contact
She'll come on to you, flirt, even act sexually suggestive with absolutely no intention of going on a date or getting involved.

This is a dumb game no question about it. However, it's hard to determine whether she is interested in you and then you do something dumb and she loses interest or if she really is just playing a game. Besides, guys play a similar game where they hit on a girl with no intention of doing anything besides taking her home for a one night stand. I think the innocent flirting is less harmful.

No phone call
She'll give out her number with no intention of dating you. Or she'll take your number and never call you.

This one is just annoying and wrong. I know girls who argue that it's nicer than rejecting a guy outright. That is incorrect. There are plenty of guys who don't care if you don't ever call and for those it probably is better to give a fake number or take his number and never call. But there are also nice guys out there who think that things are going to go somewhere and invest both emotions and time into a relationship that has no chance of going anywhere. Don't give us fake numbers and don't tell us you will call. Just tell us that you aren't interested.

Hard to get
She turns you down for a date or doesn't return your call, even if she's interested in going out with you.

Umm...guys do almost the exact same thing. Games are stupid and this seems to be one of the most annoying and unproductive of the games.

Broken dates
She breaks your date at the last minute or doesn't show up at all without a word of apology.

If too many dates are broken then I'll eventually say something along the lines of, "It seems like either your too busy right now or too uninterested in dating me. If that changes then let me know and maybe we can try it again." Then I move on. Broken dates are frustrating but they happen for various reasons on both sides.

Waiting time
She's late or not ready when you pick her up for a date. Furthermore, this is a recurring issue.

Is this really a game? It seems more like it is a character issue than a game. If you want to combat someone who is constantly late tell them an earlier time than actual plans. If things don't start to improve that way let her know that it really irritates you that she's never ready on time.

Expensive dates
She wants to go to the most expensive restaurant, the most exclusive club, the hottest play -- and expects you to fund the whole thing without a whimper.

I think that it's nice to occasionally go out somewhere special and pay for it. I don't like to do it often. If this became a consistent thing then I would quickly lose interest. Again, I'm not sure if this is a game or just that some people really like to be lavished. Typically I am not attracted to that type of person, I don't hang out at the ritziest clubs, and I don't go to the most expensive restaurants, so I generally don't attract these women.

And the list continues to go on. My overall thought is that games are stupid. Women often complain when guys play dating games, but I do think they are just as guilty as men are of games. If you want to play games find another guy, because I won't engage. Some of these things wouldn't be considered games in my mind but communication issues. None of these things really seem to be based on how "emotional" women are, so I'm not sure why he felt it necessary to include that statement at the beginning.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Learning to Fly

Today Tony, his friend, Natalie, and myself all went on a four hour plane flight to see some craters in Oklahoma. I think that Tony's friend was in search of a specific location. It was a little bumpy in the Cessna, but we still had a good flight. With the exception of a jet from Vance Air Force Base flying a thousand feet under us we didn't have too many scares.

Some photos:

Flying over I-35 in Kansas. This is the highway I drove on yesterday to get from Texas to my home town.

Who said Kansas wasn't anything but flat. At least in Western and Southern Kansas this is pretty representative. It has been very wet this year, which is why everything in this area is so green.

Some of the wheat fields have been harvested and already set on fire.

This is when we made it to some sand lake in Oklahoma.

And more...

Here are the craters where the Air Force jet flew right under us. It was probably 500 feet off the ground while we were around 2400.

We had a smooth landing and a pretty good adventure. Oh, we took a break in Fairview, Oklahoma. It seemed pretty nice for a small town. There were a lot of backyards with pools.


Alphabet Soup

While I'm disgusted by the substances of the PIRATE Act that just passed the Senate, I am perhaps more appalled by the acronym.

Under the legislation -- called the Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation or PIRATE Act -- the Justice Department would be able to file civil copyright infringement cases against people who wrongfully download or share computer files.

Who does Congress hire to come up with these ridiculous names? "Ok, we are sick and tired of spam emails so someone needs to figure out what a CAN-SPAM act would mean." Senator's Aide, "Uh, I think the intern Ricky from BU is especially gifted at this." "Get him on it."

Mr. Wizard

Today the NY Times (registration required) has a great interview with Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard.

MARC WEINGARTEN How surprised were you when the show became a hit?

DON HERBERT In the beginning, I was very surprised. Somebody doing science on TV?

I can't speak for the earlier episodes, but I watched it a lot when it was on Nickelodeon. I never really thought of it as an educational show, because I was more preoccupied with coming up with a good question to send the show.

His humor was also a good reason to enjoy the show...

HERBERT All the kids were just terrific, but they ideally had to be around 11 or 12. Once they got beyond 13, they became know-it-alls.

WEINGARTEN Why didn't you use your own kids, Jay, Jill and Jeff?

HERBERT Because then I couldn't fire them

My favorite experiment was when he taught about suction by having various lengths of straws used by the kids. They were hanging out of multi-story buildings.

If, like me, you want to see Mr. Wizard again, you can always buy the DVDs.

Party Up

...up in here.

Mid-season update

I "manage" two Yahoo! Baseball teams which are both kicking some baseball butt despite little work. In their leagues my rotisserie team is in a secure first place with 101 points, while my head-to-head team is in an upsetting sixth place. Overall my rotisserie team is ranked 17,703.

Why is one doing so much better than the other? Dumb luck.

At least faithful

The cable installer arrived to the appointment at the last possible moment this morning. The window of time was 8am until 11am and he was there right around 10:58 or 10:59. This just meant that I got a much later start on the road than I prefer.

I'm back in my home town to visit family for a few days. Tonight they invited the neighbors over so that I could meet two attorneys. I suppose it's their way of hinting that I should network for jobs here. They are married with two children and have interesting stories to tell. He was a JAG for a few years, then he went on to a large firm. I believe that she was always at a firm until they moved here. Now she is staying at home to spend more time with their girls.

Finally my day is calming down. My only concern is that I don't know where my cat is, although, I'm sure she's around the house somewhere. My apartment has vague threats of confiscating pets, so I'm going to loan Sophia to my parents for the year. Neither Aqua, their cat, nor Sophia are happy with this loaning idea. Love each other silly cats.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I scream! You scream!

That's right, today was the yearly ice cream social in the office building where I work. I've never seen so many people in business suits fighting for a free ice cream bar. The little social was complete with a little beach party scene that included some blow up beach balls, sand, and a little mannequin waiting for the surf.

No fun at work

Yesterday and today (with the exception of the conference call) my employers have forced me to assemble an I-589 Application for Asylum. It was fun for the first few hours but not it's quite a bore. I've got to make five identical packets complete with highlighting. The application has 180 pages (and you thought applying to college, law school, grad school, med school, et al was difficult) and has to be done perfectly or it is thrown out.

I guess the throwing out of the application is foreshadowing to what will happen to the applicant if my preparation isn't pristine.

I'm game

Via The Leiter Report, I found the link for a petition calling for the resignation or removal of Attorney General John Ashcroft. Should you wish to sign, the statement and petition are this way.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Conferencing about Conferences

Today I was dragged from my quiet office down to the bottom of the office building to sit in on a conference call with an eccentric immigration attorney. At first I imagined that this sort of thing would be boring. Two lawyers and a law student huddled around a phone trying to interrupt other aggressive personalities at some other end of the phone line.

It was actually great fun! You haven't had an exciting phone conversation until you get two law students, a former immigration judge, a couple defense attorneys, and three or four immigration attorneys all trying to speak at the same time.

apparently this conversation was about setting up a conference to teach criminal defense lawyers the implications of criminal law on immigration status. From the criminal clinic student standpoint I only had this comment: huh?! I think they found that more informative than anything else.

I was a hit. I guess that I'm going to help them arrange this conference. Hours slaving away to culminate in a day long CLE training opportunity for criminal defense attorneys and public defenders. Hmmm, perhaps I was roped into this because I wasn't a hit? Now that I carefully consider this actually seems like punishment.

The real question I should have posed: "is anyone hiring?" was somehow forgotten.

Thousands of Invites...invites for free

I'm still guessing that GMail is soon go from beta version to being open for everyone to register. They have sent another round of invites.

Anyone who wants an invite either send me an email or leave a comment with your email address inside it. I've got upwards of 10 invites that I'm going to give out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Customer is always right: Part 2

The RIAA is again suing people who steal music online.

Including the latest suits, the Recording Industry Association of America has now sued 3,429 individuals since last September as it seeks to discourage music fans from copying and trading songs through peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa and LimeWire

As I have stated before, I don't download music illegally so I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for those who get caught in copyright infringement. My problem is that the music industries have targeted a false problem. The problem is the industry pricing of cds and people stealing the music is a symptom of that problem. I realize that the pricing system is very complex and gets into other areas such as the industry overpricing, giving too little of the profit to artists, and marketing blunders. The industry needs to attack the real problem if they ever hope to find a solution to the rampant copyright infringement.

It seems to me a strange thing

This may be true...

I stopped to get my morning soft drink (52 cents for a 32 ounce drink!) and noticed a big truck parked to the side of the parking lot. On the front of the truck was a little baby doll that was strapped to the grill guard.

Why would someone strap a doll to the grill of a big truck? I certainly can't tell you, but I wanted it to stop.

I parked my car and started to walk over towards the hostage. I looked up and noticed that there was a mean looking man sitting inside the truck. (You would have to be mighty mean to strap a doll to the front of your truck). He was menacing.

I stopped and looked at the doll again. Then I looked at him. He glared. Yikes!

I turned around and acted like I was walking elsewhere. Then turned around and slowly started to come back. Maybe he thought I left?

He didn't. This time, as I approached the doll (slowly of course), he opened up the door to his truck. Double yikes!

Thinking that he might strap me to the grill I decided that perhaps buying a soft drink was all I really need to accomplish before work this morning.

I retreated feeling a little bit defeated. When I came back out of the store the truck was gone. When will the doll be set free?

A Man Called Hiibel 2: or why the majority is wrong

Having read the opinion and the two dissents I am now prepared to offer my own criticism of the decision. This is hastily thrown together, so I apologize in advance if it's a bit rough.

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court decided to hold the door open to State sponsored invasion of privacy. Many libertarian critics are worried that this case could lead to national ID cards or some other form of compulsory identification. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority of Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, O'Conner, and Rehnquist, points out that "this case concerns a different issue...the source of the legal obligation arises from []state law, not the Fourth Amendment." (p. 8). Is there a cause for concern? Possibly, but I think there are bigger problems with this decision which I will address.

The factual background of the case essentially is that a Nevada sheriff responded to a telephone call reporting an assault. The caller reported seeing a female in a red and silver GMC truck on Grass Valley Road. The sheriff went to that area and saw a truck parked at the side of the road. A man was standing by the truck, and a young woman was inside the truck. The gravel looked as though the truck had come to an abrupt stop. Bingo. (p. 1)

Officer approaches the man and asks him for his name. Not gonna tell you. Tell me your name. No. I'm conducting an investigation and need your name. Nope. This goes on until the officer asks for the 11th time. (p. 2)

At that point he officer placed him under arrest for "willfully resisting, delaying, or obstructing a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge any legal duty of his office." In violation of Nev. Rev. Stat. Sec. 199.280(2003. Hmm. (P. 2).

The Nevada Statute in question for this case is actually Sec. 171.123 which provides,
1. Any peace officer may detain any person whom the officer encounters under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.

3. The officer may detain the person pursuant to this section only to ascertain his identity and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his presence abroad. Any person so detained shall identify himself, but may not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of the peace officer."

Hiibel challenged this "stop and identify" law based on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. (p. 3).

The initial stop was basically a Terry stop. If there is some suspicious behavior afoot a police officer has the right to question you so long as it does not become an unconstitutional seizure. (p. 6). Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). To ensure that the resulting seizure is constitutionally reasonable, a Terry stop must be limited and cannot continue for an excessive period of time, or resemble a traditional arrest. Terry at 20; United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 709 (1983); Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200, 212 (1979).

As Kennedy points out, "[o]ur decisions make clear that questions concerning a suspect's identity are a routine and accepted part of many Terry stops." (p. 7). That is the key point. Questions are perfectly acceptable but requiring answers is something completely separate.

In Terry, Justice White claimed that a person detained in an investigative stop can be questioned but is "not obliged to answer, answers may not be compelled, and refusal to answer furnishes no basis for an arrest." 392 U.S. at 34. (p. 8) This is why Miranda warnings are not required during Terry stops. They are not at the level of a complete seizure.

The Court dismisses these because the obligation to answer the question does not rise from the Fourth Amendment but rather the Nevada State law.

The Fifth Amendment argument is also dismissed with faulty reasoning. It cannot be danced around in the same way because the Fifth Amendment has been applied to the states. See Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 6 (1964). Basically the court concludes that there is no danger of self-incrimination because giving your name "present[s] no reasonable danger of incrimination." (p. 11). That is, of course, crap.

As Justice Stevens points out in his dissent, these people are asked to identify themselves because they are suspects of criminal activity. (Dissent p. 1) The officer stopped and noticed the skid marks on the gravel because someone called in about a possible assault. When a person is under criminal investigation that person has every right to remain silent. This applies whether a person is in the courtroom, at the police station, sitting in their bedroom, at the grocery store, or walking on the sidewalk down the street.

The majority claimed that this is not incriminating. Again, they are wrong and they are engaging in intellectual dishonesty. Instead of admitting how broad the court has made "incriminating" statements, they choose to ignore the precedent. As Stevens quotes, "it has long been settled that the Fifth Amendment's protection encompasses compelled statements that lead to the discovery of incriminating evidence even though the statements themselves are not incriminating and are not introduced into evidence." (Dissent p. 5); United States v. Hubbell, 530 U.S. 27, 37 (2000).

As Stevens says, why else would an officer request the identification of a criminal suspect if not to furnish a link in a chain of evidence needed to prosecute him? (Dissent p. 5). If he just wants to be polite and have a name to call him the officer could furnish Joe or Jane to suspects who don't want to disclose a name. If Joe or Jane isn't good enough the officer can be creative and use fun names like, "One Eyed Willy."

Either this is a useless law that just wants to get our names out of us or it was passed to be useful in criminal investigations. While common sense would tell you that there is some use for it, I suppose that legislatures often enact stupid, useless laws. This doesn't seem to be one of those though.

Finally, Justice Breyer dissents to point out some of the obvious flaws in the majority's opinion. "The majority reserves judgment about whether compulsion is permissible in [instances where the name itself provides police with 'a link in the chain of evidence needed to convict the individual of a separate offense.' How then is a police officer in the midst of a Terry stop to distinguish between the majority's ordinary case and this special case where the majority reserves judgment?"

It was a poorly reasoned opinion that the majority simply got wrong.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The positives of no tv

While I enjoy watching tv, I haven't had cable in a couple years. Last year I was able to watch broadcast tv which includes the WB. At my new apartment nothing comes in to the box, not even broadcast tv. While it's frustating not to get the news and other good tv programs. It is nice to not accidently see shows like Charmed on tv when you are expecting quality programming.

A man called Hiibel

The Christian Science Monitor has good coverage of the Hiibel decision handed down by the Supreme Court this morning.

The essential holding is that the Fourth and Fifth Amendment do not prevent States from enacting laws that require a person to give his name to police officers.

This law is based on a Nevada statute that makes it "a criminal offense for anyone suspected of wrongdoing to refuse to identify himself to police." The real scare from this is that,

The ruling marks the first time the nation's highest court has endorsed a provision compelling citizens to reveal information in a citizen-police encounter that may become a police investigation.

While it might seem harmless to have to give your name if you're suspected of wrongdoing, I don't think that it is constitutionally permissible.

As Justice Stevens, in dissent so clearly points out,

Stevens adds, "A name can provide the key to a broad array of information about a person particularly in the hands of a police officer with access to a range of law enforcement databases."

I know from dealing with criminal defense that often people are marked by police officers, especially in smaller communities, as being trouble. The police often harrass these people to figure out if they are doing something wrong. They drive by their houses. Follow them in cars. And generally try to make their life miserable.

While this is typically limited to a few police officers who have a chip on their shoulder or hold a personal grudge. It wouldn't surprise me to see them using identification laws to harrass a person even further.

It is slightly upsetting to see the court go from a great decision in Crawford to this disturbing decision today. I'm not sure whether I consider this a terrible decision or just a wrong decision. I'll have to read the opinion to see the reasoning and the dicta behind the holding.

Taking advice

On Friday I suggested that people go and see Dodgeball and it looks like people did.

I guess that the movie studios are surprised that The Terminal and 80 Days did so poorly. Well, I'm not. 80 Days looks like one of the worst films of the year.

For the most part, it seems that when a film has an incredibly high budget it is going to be doomed to fail. People want to see a good film which does not necessarily equate with spending a lot of money.

Dodgeball's ability to recoup its costs in two days is all the more impressive in contrast to Around the World in 80 Days, which cost an estimated $100m to make, and took less than 10% of that on its crucial opening weekend.

Obviously, my general impression must be wrong or studios wouldn't continue to waste their money, no? I'm going to research this a little and see what correlation there is between spending a lot of money on a film and it's success.

Obviously a studio can spend a lot of money on high priced stars like Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts. Sometimes the studios might spend a lot of money on special effects and action scenes (eh, Waterworld?).

Do movie studios usually spend a lot of money on scripts or screenwriters? That's what I like to go to the movie for. I don't care to see the next role Tom Hanks acts in. I rarely go to movies for the star but I enjoy when a good actor is in a movie I like (e.g. Bill Murray in Rushmore/Royal Tennenbaums, Edward Norton in Fight Club, and Phillip Seymore Hoffman in Magnolia). I also don't go to the movies just for the action scenes. If they are mixed in with a good movie (e.g. Kill Bill) then I'm happy to see them.

I guess the point is the budget of a movie, the actors in it, or even how cool the action is going to be is not enough to draw me to a film. I want an interesting plot, screenwriters who I think are talented, and sometimes the independent spirit that makes me love the cinema.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Father's Day?

Will Google always be this helpful with their friendly reminders?

How about Chipotle with their free burritos for father's today?

I must remember to call my grandfather and step-father today.

Super Size Me

Last night I went with Ben to see Super Size Me. I guess because of the amount of favorable reviews I went into it expecting to be blown away. I wasn't. I thought that the movie was entertaining, Spurlock was definately engaging and charming, and the results were in some ways unexpected.

After I left the movie I couldn't convince myself that I didn't waste two hours of my life at the movie. Maybe if I really liked fast food restaurants it would have impacted me more. I'm sure that if I hadn't read Fast Food Nation, I would have been a little more impressed with the movie.

My main thought was that the scope of the movie was too limited. I got bored watching him eat the double quarter pounders. I was bored with him eating in bed at night. What was interesting was when he visited the public schools to show what kids are eating. I wish that he had explored that side of the documentary a little more than he did...what is happening to children and fast food.

Ironic commercials

While listening to the radio this morning I heard a commercial for Sam's Club. The target for the commercial was expressly small business owners. It was telling small businesses that they are what keep America going. That the entrepreneurial spirit is a welcome part of American culture. And also that they were the business for small businesses.

Sam's Club is of course owned by Wal-Mart which in turn is possibly the most anti-competitive, anti-union, and anti-small business company in the world. Of course, they don't want people to believe that. Instead of actually changing their method of operation, it's far easier to put out ads that purport to being pro-small business as most people will believe whatever nonsense they are fed.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Possibly going Light

I don't have internet access from home. I'm not sure if the cable guy said he was coming this Saturday or next Saturday, so I could get access or things could be light. Either way, have a great weekend and go to see Dodgeball.

Cat Sneezes

The smell of cigarette smoke was pretty strong in my apartment when I moved in, so I've been trying to get rid of the smell using a variety of methods. I've sprayed Febreeze enough to make the carpet soggy, lit candles, and used various plug in air fresheners.

The smell remains.

I resorted to my last ditch effort: calling Mom. Mothers always have some sort of a cure for problems such as these. Indeed, she suggested that I should boil some water and vinegar because the vinegar is good at absorbing smells.

Why not?

On my first try I boiled a lot of water with a little bit of vinegar. I could smell the faint odor of vinegar in the air while the water was boiling. I cleaned up the mess after all the water was boiled and went to bed.

Mission accomplished? No. I got home last night and was overpowered with the smell of cigarette smoke.

Did I not use enough vinegar? I guessed not, so I took off to the store to buy a nice sized drum of vinegar. Nothing is stopping me now. The lingering effect of someone who smoked in their home is soon to be erradicated. (By the way, who smokes inside their home? Don't most people, even serious smokers, go out on the balcony? I just envision this 80-year-old lady who has smoked her whole life and couldn't give a crap anymore sitting on the couch puffing away while watching day time soaps. Maybe I'm incorrect.)

Last night I poured a little bit of water into the pot and then a lot of vinegar. I got it boiling and went to the living room to finish a book. It wasn't long before I could no longer read as my eyes were watering. I smelled the odor of vinegar overpowering me. Then I look to where Sophia is laying because I hear a noise.

"Bless you," I offer.

She sneezes again. "Bless you." She doesn't understand my offering. Of course, being a cat, she is a little confused about what the source of the sneeze is, so she doesn't leave the room. I can barely breathe, yet I don't leave the room either. Instead, I venture closer to the boiling water where the air starts to burn my nostrils.

Sophia comes over to see what it is that I'm doing and sneezes. Then she sneezes again. I see that there isn't too much left to boil, but I don't want her sneezing anymore, so I pick her up and take her to my bedroom. In there my eyes still were watery, but I couldn't smell the vinegar as strong in the air.

The sneezing stopped. Feeling confident that she will remain in my bedroom I go back to clean up the boiling vinegar. Sophia stays in my room as she started to scratch on her little box. I come back a few minutes later ready to go to bed.

Let us only hope that the smell of cigarette smoke is gone, because I can't figure out which is worse. Being in a room with vaporized vinegar or stale cigarette odor.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

They're Playing Our Song

Erin for Erin-go-blog explores the reasons why various songs are playing in her mind.

I can sympathize as I haven't been able to purge the hideous Klymaxx song, "I miss you" from my mind. As my friends know I used to like elevators. Things changed on Monday when I was caught the elevator and a lady jumped on at the last second. Now, I already hate it when people jump on at the last second, because I enjoy solo rides in the elevator. When someone else is in there you sort of feel bad that you aren't talking to them. Then if you do talk you feel weird about what you can and cannot say in the elevator.

All the rules seemed to be non-existent to this lady. She didn't talk to me. She didn't acknowledge that I was even there. But as soon as Klymaxx started blaring through the speakers she started grooving. I didn't notice what was happening at first because I didn't understand the song. Then the chorus came on "Iiiiiiiiii misssssssssssss you (I miss you)...something about the way you look...blah blah." I try to forget the lyrics.

She was grooving alright. Not just a little sway but a take up half the elevator, butt stuck out, knees bent, groove. She was turning circles and dancing up a storm.

The normal question of should I talk to this other elevator guest or should I stay quiet moved to the more difficult questions.

Should I groove to the song too?
Should I sing along with the song?
Should I groove with her?

It all seems like a haunting nightmare when the song pops into my mind. From Monday on, I don't think that I'll ever be able to look at light rock with the same disdain. Now I will always have the image of the lady grooving in the elevator. Free of any inhibitions. She let the music take over her body and made her half of the elevator her own. Part of me views this with disgust, while the other part of me has to respect the free spirit in her. I hope I don't experience that again as it's going to take me months to purge this song from my mind.

Song Lyrics

There's something rad about the exciting and the new
There's something rad about getting to know you
You don't need a reason, its always in season.
Stay out all night long, rockin to the same old song
stayin out til night turns into dawn...
Joe Christmas - Scrabble Girl

The use of the word rad is rarely appropriate. Right now fits one of those rare circumstances.

Fearing Water

Yesterday 4 visitors drown at Water Gardens in Fort Worth. It started when an eight year old girl fell into the fountain. Her family, I would guess, didn't know that the water was 9 feet deep and had suction for the water pumps. Three members of a family jumped in to attempt to save her. They all drowned trying.

The Water Gardens are such a beautiful, tranquil place to go and visit. It's a tragedy that this would happen.

What is especially upsetting is that this came on the heels of a recent heroic event where an office worker saved a 12-year-old boy from drowning in the Trinity River.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Boing Boing

I like the old look better.


Happy Bloomsday

As Dublin, and various other places around the world, celebrate this wondeful Bloomsday, so does Google.

Happy Bloomsday everybody. In celebration you ought to pick up a book, preferably Joyce, and read tonight. If not Joyce maybe just something Irish? Actually, I'd be fine if you wanted to go and have an Irish beer instead.

Arranging Spaces

Last night was the most fun night of my moving process: arranging the living room. I didn't mind the night before when I was able to pull out my 6 dollar rachet set to put together a chair and a desk, because it's fun to act like a carpenter. The joy wears off soon after you spend 15 minutes trying to attach the back of the chair to the base only to realize the reason the back of the chair has hallowed legs is so they will fit into the base.

Moving stuff is fun though. My task was to figure out how to arrange the living room so my two couches didn't have to sit along side the same wall. Both are smallish couches, and one of them is a little circular roundish shape. For awhile I debated putting it by the window, because it's my reading chair. I like to lay down on it. The other couch is an orange-red colored overstuffed couch that is what I like to lie in and watch TV.

After sitting on both couches and pondering why the only cable outlet is on the wrong wall I decided to find a longer cable cord. Once I did, I moved all the books off my big bookshelf and moved that to the wall where the TV was located. Then I moved the TV to the wall beside the window so that it was about 2 feet from my circular couch. Then I turned my other couch so that it wasn't against the wall anymore.

It's probably difficult to visualize the space, so I will take some photos. Suffice it so say that it was fun to move things around. Now my space doesn't seem so open and unused. I also hung some prints and a framed photo, so I have artwork on the walls.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Memo becomes a Brief

Last week I wondered how I would write a memo when there was little caselaw to support me. With quite a bit of help from a few excellent friends, I wrote what turned out to be a good memo. In the worlds of the pro bono attorney, "Holy cow! Are you wonderful or what?"

Well, today she faxed over a copy of her brief that she wrote for the courts. In it I was able to notice a lot of my language and was able to see the structure of my argument still in place. But, I have to admit, she did a kick ass job. It's refreshing to see that someone who works an incredible amount of hours is willing to volunteer her time to help other people. It wasn't just a little time that she spent on this as she really put a lot of research, effort, and hours into developing what I considered to be a weak memo, into a persuasive and enjoyable brief.

Now we will wait and see if the court agrees.

Yahoo! Fires Back Part Two

On May 16th, I posted that Yahoo! Mail would be upgrading to 100mb of storage space in an attempt to compete with Google's GMail.

They have come through and delivered with that. Today I opened my Yahoo! and saw a new welcome message and a brand new layout. I'm not sure what I think of the new layout. I do think that 100mb might be enough to keep a lot of people from switching just because having the same email address is a nice thing.

Google's GMail, in my opinion, will probably be going public sometime very soon. In the past two weeks I've been given 6 invites as have most other users. I think they are giving this many invites because they are about at the stage where they feel comfortable releasing their product to the public.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Newdow: Are we surprised

The San Francisco Chronicle has a bland report about the Newdow Pledge case. Basically, the courts

finding that Michael Newdow lacked legal standing to raise the issue because of his limited custody of his daughter, now in the fifth grade

is as probing as the paper goes.

I very much doubt that the left members of this court wanted to issue a ruling either way on this case. At this point if the words to the pledge had been held as Constitutional, then Bush would look good. If the words had been held unconstitutional then Bush could use that as an opportunity to look good. Either way he could jump behind the pledge and appeal to the masses.

For most of the time that Newdow has been pursing this appeal to the Supreme Court, the ACLU and other liberal organizations have pled with him not to do it. First, because of the complex standing issues and the weak facts. Second, because regardless of the outcome it could only help Bush.

The rejection for lack of legal standing appears to be a very easy way to make sure there isn't really any sort of political benefits. I'm not sure whether or not some of the Justices were thinking about this when they pushed for lack of standing or not. I agree that there wasn't standing, and I'm glad they haven't ruled on the facts.

Of course, I'm not surprised at the decision, however, I'm a little surprised they rejected the standing this soon. I was expecting it right before they went on their summer recess.

I donna suppose you could espeed things up?

Yesterday was far too long of a day. My roommate and I rented a UHaul truck to make the move a little bit easier; however, I think it just ended up putting a lot more pressure on us. Since it was only a one day rental we had from about 10am until 4pm to load all of our crap and then unload it at two different locations.

We loaded up all of Ben's stuff first, because we unloaded at my apartment first. He has a ton of crap as he's sort of a pack rat. Plus, he's an artist, so a lot of his things seem to be very insignificant, but he has reasons for wanting them. Also, there were some items that required special care. My belongs, I would like to think, were much easier to manage. We got it all finished by about 3:30 and returned the truck in time.

Last night I spent a few hours trying to get things set up. I've got all my cabinets and shelves lined. I set up the bathroom and kitchen. My cat is really enjoying all of the bags and boxes. I'm going insane trying to get everything organized.

Nothing makes you want to discard material possessions as much as moving.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Fearing Recommendations

Claire, at the Enthusiast notes some trepidation about taking people to places she has raved about, because they might not like it as much as her.

I actually hate bringing people to restaurants I've raved about. I'm always worried that they won't live up to expectations, and that after all of my enthusiasm, the other person will be disappointed.

I don't have any anxiety when giving friends recommendations, because if they end up not liking what I recommend I blame it on their poor taste, not my good taste.

Who could choose?

I need something on in the background when I'm packing and noticed that there are four things on basic cable tonight.

1. MLB game
2. Field of Dreams
3. Bladerunner
4. Beautiful Girls

How could I ever pick one?

Random thoughts

As I'm in the process of moving, there will be light posting today and tomorrow.

1. Reading that torture memo made me sad.
2. Writing my extraordinary circumstances memo on filing asylum applications late made me sad.
3. Getting positive feedback about a job well done made me very pleased.
4. The Office of General Counsel is probably not as pleased.
5. My parents are turning from supporting Kerry to thinking he's "wishy-washy" on the issues.
6. I'd be upset if they A) were in a state where a Democratic vote had a shot of making a difference or B) had used another word besides "wishy-washy" to describe Kerry.
7. I really like Chipotle (even if it's owned by McDonalds)
8. I'd like to see many movies, but I hate going to the theater.
9. I realized that I own a book about Evolution, so I will be reading it to get a better understanding of it.
10. Character dramas are often exciting and fun.
11. What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
13. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a good book.
13. Moving is not fun.
14. Realizing you don't care about flirting with people because you like someone is amusing and a relief.
15. My favorite bar was unable to provide chips and queso for a couple days (we tried once and left upon hearing the kitchen was closed and tried again a day later and stayed for one beer) because of "gas problems."
16. Irony is fun.

Where do all the friends go?

After doing a load of laundry, I was walking back to my apartment and noticed a group of guys out on their balcony. They seemed to be having a good time drinking beers, talking, and throwing bottles off the balcony. This is a good example of why I'm so picky about who I'm friends with as they wouldn't like me for long. I'm unable to see the joy derived from throwing bottles off a balcony, and I doubt I'd be able to contain my thoughts on the subject.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Time to Celebrate

Ireland is getting set to party in honor James Joyce. The reason the party is on 16 June 2004 is because that is 100 years from when Ulysses was set. So who does the festival appoint to be the director of the party? Someone who hasn't even read the book, of course,

"I have to confesses that I've never waded my way through Ulysses, but I'm hugely proud that we have produced a writer who's esteemed internationally," Laura Weldon, the national co-ordinator of the festivals.

Maybe she was unfortunate enough to catch the movie.

Speed Racer

I saw this list at some sort of a daily joke section of a website. The sad thing is that this list really isn't funny when it's a daily part of your routine...

  1. Turn signals will give away your next move. A real driver never uses them.

  2. Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, or the space will be filled by somebody else putting you in an even more dangerous situation.

  3. Crossing two or more lanes in a single lane change is considered going with the flow.

  4. The faster you drive through a red light, the smaller the chance you have of getting hit.

  5. Never, ever come to a complete stop at a stop sign. No one expects it and it will inevitably result in you being rear-ended. If you want your insurance company to pay for a new rear bumper, come to a complete stop at all stop signs.

  6. A right lane construction closure is just a game to see how many people can cut in line by passing you on the right, as you sit in the left lane waiting for the same jerks to squeeze their way back in before hitting the orange construction barrels.

  7. Braking is to be done as hard and late as possible to ensure that your ABS kicks in, giving a nice, relaxing foot massage as the brake pedal pulsates. For those of you without ABS, it's a chance to stretch your legs.

  8. Never pass on the left when you can pass on the right. It's a good way to scare people entering the highway.

  9. Speed limits are arbitrary figures, given only as suggestions and are apparently not enforceable during rush hour.

  10. Just because you're in the left lane and have no room to speed up or move over, doesn't mean that a driver flashing his high beams behind you doesn't think he can go faster in your spot.

  11. It is traditional to honk your horn at cars that don't move the instant the light changes.

  12. Remember that the goal of every driver is to get there first, by whatever means necessary.

I'm often guilty of numbers: 2, 3, sometimes 4 (if you count late on yellow going to red soon), 7, 8, 9, 12. Of course, I'm not anywhere near being a bad driver as these are things you just sort of do out of necessity in cities where there are too many cars.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Query: Is this the right answer?

Yesterday I was asked to write a memo for a pro bono attorney detailing a very complex legal question that the courts have only skipped around. Basically the question deals with whether being a child who is in a very unfortunate and unique situation can form an "extraordinary circumstance" exception to the one year filing deadline requirement for asylum cases.

The answer is probably no. I am being told by a supervisor that the answer should be definately so. I'm telling the pro bono that the answer is possibly so.

For those of you in summer clerkships, how do you handle a memo where you are asked to figure out if a legal argument has a chance in the courts and it doesn't? In your answer would you just say that the argument is one that the court would be reluctant to hear but it is the best option available if the partner wishes to pursue this path?

For others, what would you do? Be honest about the lack of any real argument or go ahead and come up with a weak argument that will be shut down by the courts?

These are a few of my favorite things...

I've noted before that I'm a fan of an occasional beer despite Tony Kushner's advice to stay away from alcohol because it makes one sloppy. I'm just as much a fan of a good ice cream. But would I ever mix the two to make a root beer float?

Of course not.

I'm sure it has been done before, and I'm sure that it will be done again. However, it might not be documented as well as these guys from The Unnamed Blog, especially with the variety of beers they tried. A few floats sounded vaguely intriguing like the Guinness float, while others sounded plain wrong like the Grolsch float.

I'm glad to see that creativity is hard at work.

Avenue Q coming north? Who would follow?

Last weekend I was happily chatting on the phone during a part of the Tonys when they had a live performance for the quirky Avenue Q started. We both thought that it was a little bit interesting and a quite a bit charming. The Toronto Star says that the show will probably be travelling to Toronto:

"There's only one thing you can be sure of: Avenue Q will arrive here (hopefully sooner, rather than later) and Torontonians will learn to sing its joyous theme: 'It Sucks To Be Me.'"

Well, there's only one thing you can be sure of: I wouldn't miss going to Toronto Buffalo to see Avenue Q.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


While it certainly feels better to give than to receive, it isn't enough to bring me out of this slump. I think at some point yesterday the slump began but the cause of it is harder to find. It might be the nature of my work this summer, frustration about one of my classes, fights with my current apartment management, not having seen my family in a few months, or just random jitters. Better yet, it's probably the combination of all the above. I need a good weekend of reading and writing and sleeping.

Giving Away

I've given out two of my gmail invites and selling another one. I think that I enjoy the giving more than the attempted selling.

UPDATE: If you would like a gmail invite send me an email with a couple things you think I'm doing well and a couple things I could improve upon. I'll send an invite to the most helpful email. Regardless, I'll send you an email because I love diversions from "responsibility."

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Crazier People

Yesterday I posted about my upset concerning my Dole banana advertising the Garfield movie.

Today Boing Boing alerts me that Pringles will feature ads on individual chips! I guess it's good that I don't really like Pringles, because I would stop buying them for something like this. I prefer not to eat advertisements.

If you are looking for some good potato chips might I suggest that Kitchen Cooked Originals, Route 11 Potato Chips, or even Charles Chips are better than Pringles.

You can find the story at the Motley Fool.

Victory is Mine

Yesterday I found a case that looked like it would be detrimental to the argument my boss wanted to make. Then I read the case deeper and found
that I could make a very clever distinction between what we are
arguing and what that case holds. Basically it is dealing with a
statute of repose (e.g. you must apply for this before Nov. 1 1999)
whereas we're talking about statutes of limitations (e.g. you have one
year to file this. Statutes of limitations under the INA are subject
to equitable tolling, unlike statutes of repose which cannot be

Monday, June 07, 2004

All I want for Christmas

Apple has recently announced two iTunes related news: the AirPort Express and the June 15 release of iTunes Europe.

The AirPort Express is a light piece of hardware that plays your iTunes library via wireless connection.

AirTunes is a complementary technology that will be supported in iTunes 4.6, a free update to Apple's popular music software expected to be released later this week. Connecting AirPort Express into a stereo system using the built-in connector will cause iTunes 4.6 to display a pop-up menu displaying the remote speaker system. Music can then be streamed from iTunes to the stereo.

iTunes Europe speaks for itself.

100 Books

Awhile ago my friend Jess started a livejournal devoted to reviewing the books she reads. Her goal is to get through 100 books in a year. As she is currently on book 46 it looks like she's right on target. Be sure to check it out if you want to read insightful reviews of interesting literature.


Crazy People

Does anybody remember this silly movie with Dudley Moore where people in a mental institution begin creating ad campaigns. "Volvo: Boxy but Good."

I think they might have been put in charge of the advertising executives again and are deciding appropriate places for ads. Today my Dole banana came complete with a little sticker advertising the new "Garfield" movie. Advertising on my fruit? Where does it end? For this movie they could have at least put it on a frozen lasagne meal, no?

Put you in a better place

Today I'm doing the family law research for the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status program. It's rather dull compared to the immigration law aspect. I am not enjoying reading through the family code, but I'll have to fake the smile for the next few hours.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Almost Missed

I completely forgot that the Tony Awards are tonight. As I have said, they are my favorite award show, so I won't miss them tonight.

Music file formats

As a former reviewer of music for an online magazine, I have hundreds of albums in my music collection. Most of those are from three or four years ago, as I don't buy music too frequently. Condensed music files have long had a place in my heart, because I love having any song at my fingertips. It's been a few good years of going through different types of mp3, but I've now decided to change formats.

I jumped on the MP3 thing as soon as I had Ethernet in undergrad. That would have been in late 1998. At that point the size of harddrives was not anywhere near as high as it is today, so I typically ripped at 128 or 160. I kept using the 160 until this fall when I switched to VBR with the target being 128. That captured the highs and the lows a little crisper. Now I've decided that AAC is the format I want to use. I like how songs in 128 AAC sound a little better and it uses less space.

The only problem with changing my format is that I have to rerip all the albums I own and I lose all the statistics on my iTunes. The first problem isn't all that bad, because programs make it extremely easy to load all the data of an album. However, I love the statistics I develop with me songs. Seeing when I last listened to a particular song, how many times I've heard it, and even what I rank it. It makes for fun dynamic playlists and a way to objectively state what my tastes in music happen to be.

Today my statistics will be starting anew as will my file format preference.

Beautiful outdoors

This is one of those days where I wouldn't mind the resulting sunburn from hanging out at a park the entire day. It's beautiful outside today.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Survey Says

I've found this survey via Matthew Yglesias.

My answers appear in bold.
1. Gasoline should cost more than $2/gallon. (T/F)

2. Democracy is:
a) a worthy but unattainable ideal.
b) in need of redefinition.
c) a crock.
d) presently exemplified in one or more nations (U.S. or not-U.S.).
e) other: _____________________________.

3. (Non-human) “nature” is worthy of moral consideration, independent of its role in human health. (T/F)

4. I am racist (which does not imply that I want to be racist). (T/F)

5. It is a good idea to book Elton John as the surprise headliner at the finale concert for Harley-Davidson’s 100-year celebration in Milwaukee. (T/F)

6. Christianity:
a) embodies truth better than any other religion.
b) is still vital.
c) both a and b.
d) has neglected to continue to develop its myth throughout the ongoing transformation of consciousness (also known as deep changes in zeitgeist)—and has therefore lost its vitality for modern/postmodern humanity.
e) other: ______________________________.

7. The state of ecosystems is a primary concern of mine. (T/F)

8. I am probably well-informed about U.S. activity in the world. (T/F)

9. When a cat stands on its hind legs to lean on a sliding screen door with its front legs, but instead falls forward because the screen door is open and there is only air to support the cat when it leans, the cat:
a) makes a mistake.
b) is involved in an accident.
c) sins.
d) commits a crime.
e) other: _________________.

10. It is important to be a consumer of mainstream culture. (T/F)

11. Environmentalists tend to hold unrealistic views. (T/F)

12. Life is hard. (T/F)

13. I love life. (T/F)

14. The world is basically ruled by rich men. (T/F)

15. Educated females who want and can support children (and have partners in child-raising, if I prefer) should reproduce. (T/F)

16. “Cool” is a meaningful and useful concept. (T/F)

17. Most of the world needs greater economic growth. (T/F)

18. I like root beer. (T/F)

19. “Sexual orientation” is a meaningful and useful concept. (T/F)

20. If I were to ride a bicycle, I would wear a helmet. (T/F)

21. It is better to be a “well-rounded” person than to do one or two things extremely well. (T/F)

22. It is important to remain unemotional in discussions about power and justice. (T/F)

23. I watch at least five movies per month. (T/F)

24. I like horror movies. (T/F)

25. Feminism is needed. (T/F)

26. I am uncomfortable with the word “feminism.” (T/F)

27. The life of a man in this age is difficult, in a special way. (T/F)

28. Psychological awareness is a project/process of primary importance and relevance. (T/F)

29a. I am:
a) a citizen of the U.S.
b) a citizen of a country other than the U.S.
c) a citizen of the world.
d) other: _________________________.

29b. (If I answered “a” to question 29a) I:
a) regularly feel guilty about my complicity in the exploitation/oppression of many people around the world.
b) feel grateful for my wealth and opportunities.
c) both a and b.
d) think “oppressive” is the wrong word to describe U.S. activity and influence.
e) both b and d.

30. I think I should do something different or more to “make the world better.” (T/F)

31. I am directly seeking happiness. (T/F)

Explanations for my answers would only be silly.

"Wildlife Habitat"

I've noticed a disturbing trend coming from either lazy or financially challenged municipalities: "Wildlife Habitats." That's right, in the median of roads there is overgrown grass, weeds, and debris that is supposed to be acceptable to those of us who enjoy pristine, manicured yards. The way that the city gets away with this is by posting stupid signs that call it a "Wildlife Habitat." If I owned a home and turned my front yard into a "Wildlife Habitat" the city would slap me with a fine. Look at the injustice as you drive; you'll see it whether you want to or not.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Do you see what I see?

This story at Forbes entitled "Many Parents are Blind to Their Kids' Weight Problems," sparks my memory of a similar perceptions of pets. I imagine that often the parents of overweight or obese children are in a similar weight situation. It makes psychological sense that if you are overweight it becomes easier to overlook it in other people who weight less than you.

An ex-girlfriend had two cats which were quite obese. One of the cats weighted 20 pounds while the other was a more slender 16 pounds. In the ex-girlfriends mind the 20 pound cat, Cheeto, was overweight, while Diablo was thin. Of course, this was simply not so as she found out when the vet told her they had to go on a diet. I imagine that this happens a lot with parents of overweight children. The thought is simply, "they aren't nearly as overweight as me, so I don't think they have a weight problem."

It seems like a natural, if not very sad, misconception.

Music and Movies

A couple news stories I wanted to make comments on.

First, Sony Connect (I guess one of the many legal music download sites) has teamed up with McDonald's to offer free downloads.

are planning to team up with Sony in the US to offer people who buy a Big Mac Extra Value meal a code worth one free song download at the Sony Connect music store.


It's too bad they aren't teaming up with iTunes.

Second, it looks like the new Harry Potter movie is getting favorable reviews. This is good because someone is threatening to make me go and see the Prisoner of Azkaban.

It's safe to say that the mythology of Harry Potter is creating one of the most successful film franchises in Hollywood history, and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is a top-notch entry. Indeed, if they're all this good, I'd be happy to see a Harry Potter movie come out every year until he's collecting retirement.

I have never seen any of the previous movies or read the books, should I before seeing this?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Elevator Envy

Let me start by saying that I love elevators and I don't desire to work at a big firm. In high school, I chose a psychology experiment that sought to learn which sex and which races spoke more in elevators. At amusement parks I enjoy the fall away elevator rides. Riding up and down elevators is just a nice pastime for me. Now, I get to travel to the top floor of my building each day. Each day I get to ride eight floors in the elevator. Enjoyable? Of course.

Today I was given the task of running errands, in addition to writing memos dealing with "moral turpitude," to various firms. Specifically, the errand running was delivering thank you packages to pro bono attorneys from two very large firms: Baker & McKinie and Vinson and Elkins. These two firms are located in the same downtown skyrise.

Now the first one was located on the 23rd floor. Who cares! I saw the little screen that showed news headlines, but not for long. 23rd floor, pssh. That's nothing but silliness. Then I had to go back down to the ground floor to go to the next elevator bank. The final firm was located on the 30s floors. I hoped onto the elevator and rode my way up to 38. Talk about good times. I could see the screen changing, had a conversation with the ladies who are legal assistants, and did a crossword puzzle. Can someone get me a job at one of these places? I don't care if I have to work 160 hours a week, I'll do it. If that means I can spend half the time riding up and down the 38 floors it is good enough for me.

Philosophy humor...

Oh how I wish I subscribed to The Atlantic.

If that professor grew a giant beard he would look strikingly similar to my undergraduate Intro to Philosophy professor.

Curb Your Evidence - a script of a meeting

I don't think this story is getting enough attention in the legal blog world, so I wanted to make a quick reference. Essentially the cut footage from a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry went to the Dodgers game with a prostitute helped keep one suspect from being convicted.

It goes beyond being a cute story to tell, because the guy was held in jail for nearly a half a year, has a daughter and family, and was up for the death penalty.

Catalan, who could have faced the death penalty had he been convicted of murder, was released in January because a judge ruled there was no evidence to try him.

With baseball and Curb Your Enthusiasm you really can't go wrong. I've got a little script from David, his wife Cheryl, and the innocent Juan Catalan meeting for dinner.

Juan: Very nice too meet you Mr. David.

Larry: Oh, don't mention it, it's not a problem.

Juan: I'm a little nervous as I haven't really seen your show.

Larry: Haven't seen the show? What no cable tv?

Juan: We get cable we just don't get HBO or other shows.

Cheryl: Have you ever ate here Juan?

Juan: No ma'am this is my first time.

Larry: Couldn't you buy the dvds?

Juan: I'm sorry Mr. David...

Cheryl: (interrupting and looking at Larry) Larry! You just... (looks back to Juan) The food is very good. I would suggest to you the three-cheese chicken. That's my favorite. You like that one don't you Larry?

Larry: I like everything here. What's not to like about the place. Look at the walls they don't have silly things hanging on them. That's how you know you're at a place with bad food, silly decorations. Where do you like to eat?

Juan: I really like TGI Fridays.

Larry: Oh Fridays! Oh yeah, that is good. Who needs places like this when you've got Fridays. Cheryl why didn't we take Juan to Fridays?

Cheryl: We could have done that but I thought you wanted to take him somewhere he hadn't been before...

Larry: Yeah, but here we've got to say hi to everyone who we know. I'd rather be at Fridays where I could relax. I like places like that. You know stuff on the walls.

Juan: I only like it because it's cheap.

Larry: Haha! See Juan has his priorities straight. I would too if I didn't have to make Cheryl happy. She's the one who wanted to come here tonight.

Cheryl: Larry that is simply not true.

Larry: Oh yes it is. Who do you believe Juan?

Juan: I'm sorry Mr. David but I think Mrs. David is honest.

Larry: Well, I don't know what to say to this. I really don't. Here I saved your life and you call me a liar? I'm taking you out to dinner!? You should be taking me out to dinner!

Cheryl: Larry that is quite enough...Waiter, we're ready to order.

Larry: I don't think I'm even hungry anymore. I save a man's life and this is the thanks I get.

Juan: (runs out of the restaurant).

Cheryl: See what you did Larry?

Larry: Let's just order. (end scene)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

My wish list

I can't think of anything I would like more than a little Dairy Queen helmet that is modeled off the Pittsburgh Pirates attire. They look much like this photo I found.


Don't bother showing up

A student from the University of Kent in Canterbury plans to sue his university for negligence after being told he cannot graduate due to plagiarism.

His side of the story is more that they knew he was plagiarising works, which he freely admits he did, but chose to let him continue to make more money off him.

I can see there is evidence I have gone against the rules, but they have taken all my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished.

I don't know what to think of this. As I've commented in other blogs, never posted about myself, I think that plagiarism is one of the more disgusting things someone can do. Mr. Gunn is an English major, so he especially ought to know the sanctity and beauty that comes from writing. However, if the school sat idly by and ignored the problem, which is what he's claiming, then it seems strange they would wait to bring it up until no more money was left to be drained. Was there negligence on the part of the university?

This reminds me of what my torts professor did to a student who repeatedly missed class. The night before the exam he called the guy and told him not to show up. If a torts professor is willing to put it off until the last minute, I'm relatively sure there won't be much of a negligence argument. Just like this student in torts, Mr. Gunn knew that the university did not allow plagiarism. He broke that rule. I doubt that the university has any duty to notify the student right after it happens. I even doubt that the university has any duty find the plagiarism as soon as possible. Now if it happened that they found the plagiarism years after Mr. Gunn graduated, it could be a different scenario. They let him know he could not graduate because he had broken university policy.

Powerless, or how ironic

Last night I went to see The Day After Tomorrow with a friend. The movie had a really cheesy sub-plot with pretty fun graphics. There were actually a few things that I thought were funny. When we walked outside it was storming pretty bad with lightening all around us. I checked my phone and saw that my roommate had called to say that the power was out. Calling him back I found out that the power was out starting around 9:30. This morning when we woke up the power was still out. From driving home last night (coming from one direction) and driving to work this morning (going another direction) this is a huge grid that is down. I'm upset because my apartment is roasting and the food in my fridge will have to be discarded. Stupid power grids going down.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I don't care

If you're interested, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that the new Texas quarter series go into circulation today. All of you estranged Texans can make up for your physical absence from the state by showing those in lesser states that you have a shiny new quarter.
Posts by month:

Search Technorati:

Search with Google:

10 Random Blogs

Complete Link List on Individual Post Pages
Get awesome blog templates like this one from