Singing Loudly: July 2004

Singing Loudly

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Index

I've updated my index to include all the my posts through July.

Dating Curtis

Erin has a post at her blog about where guys disappear to after the second date. Why don't they call? Why don't they email? Why don't they say they aren't interested in a date.

I posted some comments on what I think might be going on. I've been guilty of, for whatever reason, falling out of touch with someone after the second date. To me it seems that by the third date things are starting on the road towards a relationship. It isn't there yet but it's more than just sizing the person up. It's more than seeing if there is a spark. Typically once I'm on the road to a relationship my approach becomes much more careful. Which is why I think that after the second date if you don't want to continue things, no explanation is needed. Most people get the hint when they don't receive anymore phone calls. That has become the dating norm. What do I do if I pass into the third or fourth date realm...

Not surprisingly I was called out at Erin's blog for being someone who girls should stay away from; although, I couldn't really figure out why. My best guess is because I think that dating sucks, but maybe it's because I appeared calloused. I often wish that I could say this is true, so that I could pull a George and claim that I'm a bad man. Unfortunately, it isn't that at all. Alas, I will go ahead and try to defend my own honor (Cate, if you happen to be reading this and you want a bad man then don't read further...if you want a nice guy then read on).

The beginning stages of dating are actually enjoyable to me. It doesn't bother me that I have to try to impress someone, because it's not the end of the world if things don't work out. I don't worry much about what impression I will make, rather I just try to make the time enjoyable. Usually this gets me branded as a nice guy within the first hour. Which is great for making a lot of friends I lose contact with in a few months.

Usually I won't play all the silly dating games, because I think that the being distant on purpose game is dumb; not calling for x number of days is stupider. And whatever else is advised is silly. That's not to say it doesn't work, because I know it usually does work. Tom Cruise, in Magnolia, was telling approaches to pursuing relationships that actually work. It just doesn't seem to be the way to build a healthy and lasting relationship. I'd rather just wait around for someone who doesn't care if I'm decent.

When I date I try to approach it in the way that will cause the least amount of hurt if things don't work out. I'll kiss on the first date if things seem to be going that way. Kissing is enjoyable and harmless. Kiss away. However, after that I usually take things with extreme caution. If I don't think there is a chance for seriousness then I'll stop everything. Usually this means that I won't ask for another date.

I don't call or email anymore, because I figure that with initial dating it's understood that if either party isn't interested all bets are off. If you don't want to date me anymore then you don't have to tell me that I'm not your type. I am talented at getting hints.

If things go past the second date then I'll start to relax and enjoy the time with the person even more. It's an enjoyable time in the relationship. Nothing is too serious and things are pretty uncomplicated. When the time is right (anywhere from a couple dates later to a month later -- in my experience) there is usually a conversation or something that makes it known that we're going to consider ourselves exclusive.

I was dating a girl for about two months. We went on a couple dates and really hit it off. We hung out at her apartment a few times, met for drinks, and just had a good dating relationship for a couple months while we got to know each other better. A couple times she asked me to sleep over, but I refused, because I had a couple reservations that I wanted to figure out. Eventually it became clear that there was no way to work around them. She wanted to become exclusive and I didn't think it'd be possible. We talked for awhile about it and decided that the reservations, which she knew about before this talk, were not going to be removed.

Typically I try to act like a decent person. I don't like to use someone when I fear things won't work out. This approach has some positives and some negatives. I've tried to do things other ways and realized that it's not for me. I've experienced that playing games, being emotionally distant, are effective. However, without doing that I've also had a couple really good relationships. It just takes a little more patience for those opportunities to come around.

Maybe I should change my approach to dating. Maybe I worry to much about causing pain or whatever. Is it every man and woman for himself or is there room for concern about others?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Entertaining Guests

This weekend I will be entertaining two of my good friends. This means that I have to figure out plans for us. As we're all students (one MA, one PhD, and one JD) they have to be low budget plans.

  • Art museum (although we've been a number of times)

  • Outdoor jazz tomorrow night in a trendy area.

  • The arboretum

  • Final night of Shakespeare in the Park: A Midsummer's Night Dream

  • Festival of Independent Theaters

  • Baseball game

  • A round of Cranium

  • Watch The Office Season 2

  • Go and see The Village

I just need to figure out which combination of these will be the most fun. That is going to be a large part of my weekend. I'll update you on the festivities.

Note to Cate Edwards

I see that my page came up on the fourth result page when you googled yourself. As you've seen, I find you quite striking so here is my plan: if you rescue me from Texas I will marry you. It is destiny.

Note to Dennis Miller

I saw you on the Today show this morning talking about Kerry. Per usual your diatribe veered into areas you really know nothing about: The UN. Please, before you try to talk about the UN at least read the basic international charters, protocols, treaties, and other texts. I know that would take work, but I fear that otherwise people might call you out as a fraud. I was also wondering if you could explain to me why many Republicans complain when liberal actors discuss politics but applaud a washed up comedian doing the same thing?

Kennewick Man

Amber brought up an interesting hypothetical that reminded me of NAGPRA. One of the most interesting cases that has arisen from that legislation was the discovery of the Kennewick Man. Panda's Thumb has anupdate.

Last fall I was fascinated to learn about the Kennewick Man in my art and antiquities law class. Basically a 10,000 year old skeleton was discovered in Washington State. What really made this find unique was how well the skeleton was preserved.

What is interesting is that this was found in the area of Native Reservations. Of course scientists wanted to be able to study the skeleton. The Native Americans wished to control disposition and repatriate the remains.

The facts of the case involved strange behavior on the part of the defendants wishing to repatriate. The skull of the skeleton did not seem to match the American Indians. He has a spear point that could be a marker for identity. However, scientists don't know whether he was buried or not. The Army Corp. (defendants) dumped rocks over the find spot to ruin any contrary evidence.

Under the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act, the rights of Native Americas are safeguarded by protecting tribal burial sites and rights to items of cultural significance to Native Americans. This includes human remains.

What constitutes ownership? What I found interesting is that the definition of Native American is in the present tense ("Of or relating to, a tribe, people, or culture that is indigenous to the U.S."). With Kennewick Man it seems that there needs to be some relationship to a presently existing tribe, people or culture.

The Plaintiff in the case needs to be able to study the remains a little closer to figure out if this is the case. However, the Army Corps of Engineers have done all they can to impede any gathering of evidence. First they dropped 500 tons of rock on the discovery site, destroying any possibility of further excavation. Panda's Thumb links to a story that reports the Corps is "resisting allowing the scientists to remove some of the skeletal material to conduct tests."

Obviously this (specifically and NAGPRA generally) is a problem if we want this type scientific research to be furthered. I do understand the American Indians point of view on this, but I don't think they should have control until they can prove ownership. It's unfortunate that the Corps is doing all it can to prevent any evidence that opposes ownership.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Google Ads

Google: I would prefer to see both:

KC Royals Blogs so that I can read all about my second favorite baseball team. I can forgive them for trading off their best player.


Articles on the Texas Rangers as I need to catch up on reading about a real baseball team.

Kindly remove the current ads as just the sight of them is enough to make me a little sick. Thank you.

Native American Art

I'm not sure about transferring employees around, but I do know from my art law class that Indians can make requests such as this and the museum has to comply or not handle the piece. The museum would probably need to either hire another male to work with handling the piece or not accept it. The requests sometimes get more difficult. Some of the religious pieces aren't supposed to be seen by women. Imagine the difficulty with housing and storing a sacred object like that.

Only Watson

In 1962 Doctors Crick and Watson won the Nobel Prize for medicine for their discovery of the spiral double-helix structure of DNA. Wednesday night Dr. Crick died at the age of 88. I admire Crick because of how he used his intelligence. If I had a little more intelligence I know it would be used for much more nefarious purposes. Thanks for the extraordinary way you shaped science; RIP.

I love Polar Bears


Mighty polar bear stands by the frozen water to search
for a fish or small mammal; he is beautiful. Fat
and fur packed on thick keep him warm though the
days far below freezing. His life is solitary. Sharing
company with only prize searching European hunters,
they approach on the horizon in camouflage. He
can sense them. Whispering strategy to one another
he sees they are friends. Ammo loaded and guns
up. He hates many things including himself.
Standing and extending his arms like a grandfather
in the airport waiting for an embrace. Where the
granddaughter sees beauty the strangers see a pathetic
man dying. The hunters halt in terror for the fear
of an attack. Whispering to be on the lookout for
others. He whimpers his sadness, alone and majestic.
Anticipating the gunfire, he roars at them to hurry.
The Europeans, half in fear and half in excitement,
rise when they hear him. Lifting the musket to take
aim. He runs towards them. Not alone anymore
he can tell them of pain.

Copyright 2004.

100 Years

It's so easy to make an otherwise sappy song about an old person looking back upon life at different ages good by changing the "years" to clips of athletes wearing those numbers. Thanks Sportscenter.

Quiz: 15, 20, 22, 33, 45, and 99 can anyone guess some of those athletes?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Taking after Father, or "Hope is on the Way," or why I should get involved in politics

All I hear about is how good looking John Edwards is and I happened to see his daughter, Cate. Somehow Jen motivated me to turn on the convention this evening. I'm glad I did as Cate Edwards is really attractive.

Alexandra Kerry, left, and Vanessa Kerry, center, and Cate Edwards, right. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Therapy 101

Generally I try to keep this site to postings about culture, society, law, and what it's like for a law student attempting to continue a writing career, however, I'm going to stray. I still will spare the top of the page from having a sprawling personal post. If you wish to see banter on my neurotic expectations of friends come this way.

The "Mere Worship" Exception

I've reconfigured and consolidated. This is simply my take on the "Mere Worship" Exception that will probably receive more scholarship from others if the Second Circuit continues their unconstitutional carving.

Under the 1st Amendment the Founding Fathers created protection for both speech and religious expression. Most forms of speech are protected the the 1st through the speech clause. Religious speech is specially protected, because it falls under both the freedom of expression and free exercise clauses.

It only follows that religious speech should be afforded significant constitutional protections. This hasn't been the case recently in the Courts of Appeals, specifically the Second Circuit. They have suggested a differentiation between discussions from a religious viewpoint, which would enjoy full constitutional protection, and "mere religious worship," which would not. This is an unconstitutional differentiation.

Where this originated was from a Second Circuit case in 1997, Bronx Household of Faith, that ruled that although a public school that had opened its facility to outside groups could not restrict access to groups wishing to discuss secular topics from a religious perspective, the school could forbid access to groups wishing to engage in religious worship. A Supreme Court decision shortly followed in a different case, Good News Club (2001), that held that a public elementary school couldn't prohibit a Christian club from meeting after school hours simply because the club was based on religious principles and taught the students through those principles. The church in Bronx Household went back to the Second Circuit in a second suit, and the Second Cir. found that the church did have the ability to use the school for its church services, because part of the services covered topics relevant to the forum the school had opened to the public, including issues regarding morality and character. However, the court found that the mere worship distinction had not been completely rejected by the Supreme Court.

I believe that this proposed line cannot constitutionally be drawn by the government. The Court is claiming that worship can exist in the absence of moral values, which I don't believe. Second, for the State to make such a determination would impermissible require it to excessively entangle itself with religion, making all decisions based specifically on the viewpoint of the speaker.

The government can exercise subject matter discrimination in an appropriate state forum, but the government can't discriminate based on the viewpoint. The Supreme Court allows protection for religious expression by holding that even though the government can't affirmatively advocate or compel participation in religion, nor may it show affirmative opposition or hostitility towards religion. This means that in government facilities with open forums there has to be equal access to religious organizations.

Recently the Second Circuit has been going against, if not the words, then the meaning of a long line of Supreme Court decisions by not protecting religious speech in any form. "Mere Worship" has been held to be expressive conduct that impermissibly offends the Establishment Clause. In Bronx Household I, the court started with the presumption that the right to free speech on government property is based on the nature of the forum and found that a school is a limited public forum. The regulations was found to be viewpoint neutral because it permitted religious speech, and only prohibited religious worship. Ultimately the court found that religious worship could be construed as "religious activities that take place according to prescribed form and order commonly known as religious services," and such activities could lawfully be banned from a limited public forum.

A case called Good News went to the Supreme Court with a similar fact pattern. The Court found that there was viewpoint discrimination holding that "speech discussing otherwise permissible subjects cannot be excluded from a limited public forum because the subject is discussed from a religious viewpoint." The Court found no valid Establishment Clause argument as the Club held meetings after school hours, and was only open to students who had received parental consent to attend. The Court stated that allowing the group would only ensure neutrality, not threaten it. Even if there was a danger of misperception by the school children of a governmental endorsement of religion, it would not be "any greater than the danger that they would perceive a hostility toward the religious viewpoint if the Club were excluded from the public forum."

After this decision the Second Circuit was asked to look at Bronx again. The court noted that the Supreme Court "did not say that the meetings were somehow distinct from worship services, but simply observed that they were not 'mere religious worship, divorced from any teaching of moral values.' " What are the religious elements? According to the court they are things like, "prayer, the singing of Christian songs, and communion." Whereas preaching and teaching were not deemed to be quintessentially religious, nor were activities with "secular elements, [like] a fellowship meal during which church members may talk about their problems and needs," and both types of religious activities occurred in the worship service.

This distinction is untenable. The main reason this mere worship distinction is problematic is because there is no coherent way to make a meaningful distinctions between religious worship and religious speech. First, I don't believe that you can have religious worship that is "divorced from any teaching of moral values." Worshiping a higher being expresses moral values about man's place in the world. In the Christian religion this encourages humility, concern for the poor, and the Golden Rule. Also, organizations that don't believe in a deity would need to be turned away if they wished to use the public facility to advocate why they do not believe in a deity and articulated their reasoning for such a belief. To allow one and not the other is simply viewpoint discrimination.

Furthermore, wouldn't defining religious worship violate the Lemon test still used in current religious freedom jurisprudence? In Lemon the subsidy for teachers at a private parochial school failed because it inquired into the content and viewpoint of the speech. Assuming this Lemon test problem isn't enough; what would be deemed enough secular content to move speech from worship to religious discussion? Who would determine that? This seems to be nothing but a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.

What is more, worship isn't expressive conduct but it is speech. Worship is almost entirely speech rather than pure action. Praying? Speech. Preaching? Speech. Singing? Speech. What about raising or clapping hands? Are those incidental movements enough to move speech into the category of conduct? If so then a group of protesters would be considered performing actions if they also joined hands together and raised them in protest.

Assuming that worship were somehow deemed to be merely religious expressive conduct, then the O'Brien test would have to be passed. This wouldn't work because there arguably is not a substantial governmental interest since there is no Establishment Clause violation. In Rosenberger the court said that they have often "rejected the position that the Establishment clause even justifies, much less requires, a refusal to extend free speech rights to religious speakers who participate in broad-reaching government programs neutral in design." So if a religious group is allowed to meet in a public facility that has been opened to other groups there would not be a violation of the establishment clause. All groups would be treated neutrally. It seems silly that if a group wants to hold a yoga class where they could stretch, meditate, and think about peach in the world, that would be allowed, in contrast to a group that wants to raise their hands in the air as they sang about God, and thought about peace in the world given by God. The reason it is silly is because it violates the Third Prong of the O'Brien test and forces the government to focus on the message being sent instead of the mere conduct itself.

There are, of course, categories of speech that have been carved out such as obscenity and fighting words. If "mere worship" could actually be articulated is there anything about it that should disqualify it from being protected speech? The general trend of the court is to broaden the recent times from advertising to protection of virtual child pornography. It was never the intention of the framers to reduce constitutional protection for religious worship, which is protected twice in the First Amendment. The Second Circuit must reassess and abandon its focus on creating a mere worship distinction that would discriminate against certain forms of religious speech by labeling it as "merely worship."

ABC Fall Lineup

ABC knows that it has to do something to stay alive in the ratings war. Think about what they have remaining: According to Jim, Life with Bonnie, 8 Simple Rules? Tired, predictable, and ultimately unprovocative comedy shows that try their hardest to remain tame. That's why they are proud to offer there Fall line up that, well, looks equally boring.

First up is a show called Rodney. You might have seen some of the annoying commercials for this show. If not, be happy that you have avoided the new darling of ABC. What's this show about? Rodney is a down to earth stand up comedian. Deja Vu, I know. Anyhow, if you enjoy the mindless-comedy that ABC has proffered in recent years then this is the show for you.

Wife Swap is the soon to arrive reality show. On this one wifes will swap homes and live with a different family. This goes beyond deja vu to isn't this on TV right now? Yes. With ABC already making a name for itself with entirely boring shows like Extreme Makeover and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, this crap will fit right in.

DEK is back again with another BoringBoston Legal where the ever-talented James Spader joins forces with the always-acting William Shatner. This show will feature a group of civil law attorneys in a Boston law firm. I wonder if DEK has lost interest already or if that will come in six to eight weeks? In case you're hoping this will succeed: never fear! It is scheduled opposite Crossing Jordan and the CBS movie.

A black comedy called Desperate Housewives is ABC's answer to the dwendling supply of evening soaps. I'll admit that this one does look promising. ABC is going to have to give it an opportunity to survive. I know I'll catch it when I have time if for no other reason than Nicollette Sheridan.

Overall this season for ABC seems to be around a C or C+. I really don't see much here that I'll waste any of my time watching.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Indecision 2004

If spending too much time making up speeches about lock boxes isn't reason enough to not care to watch the conventions, I have another reason: Indecision 2004. When we've got the Daily Show giving us their hilarious take on it who needs the bore of the convention?

Close to Death: Tell me what you want director

It's an odd relationship when you begin because someone has come to you and, if they're clever, then the director has said, "I love your writing." It's weird because at that point it's very difficult to not be over-grateful. The tricky thing for me is to keep some distance at that point and to not listen.

This morning I sent the director a working copy of the play. Right now it's hovering around 115 pages, and I'm not all that happy with the writing. He called me about his impressions and how he wants it to change. Do I listen to what he wants when I don't know what I exactly want? The playwright-director relationship is always very difficult. We talked for around two hours about the play; most of it being centered on his disappointment.

I think what most upset him was when he was trying to ask me casting decisions. He said, "When we start to think about casting the woman, how old do you think?" I let him know that it's really hard to say from the text. I'm guessing that she could be anywhere from twenty-two to forty. He said, "Do you think she's fair or dark?" Again, I told him, I don't think there is anything in the play that tells us that. That's when he seemed pretty frustrated with me. I believe there was a loud sigh and then a "aha." I told him that it really is a mystery to me.

Part of the problem is that when I come up with characters it comes from my head to the page, but the outlines of these characters are still very indeterminate. I know that there are some playwrights, such as Durrenmatt, who write very specific characters. He needs that control over what happens to his characters because the way the people looks is a part of the point. Then there are playwrights like Pinter who write very indeterminate characters.

I once was in correspondence from a well-known playwright who read one of my plays in consideration for an MFA program. He let me know that I ought to write biographies for all of my characters. He wanted me to do that so that I would have a life story for everyone whether I used it in the play or not. I told him that I would not do that, and that I didn't agree it is a necessary part of writing. He laughed because he had never had playwright suggestions rejected by anyone outside of the workshop environment.

This conversation seems to carry over a lot. The director today asked how these two characters get to the point where they are at their anniversary. I told him that I really couldn't tell him anything about that. I don't know anything about these people other than what they do in that house. Don't ask me about their background, where they come from, how much money they earn, what they do on their weekends. Anything I know about them is in the play. I cannot tell you anymore than that.

This to me is exactly the way you encounter people in life, until you get to know people well. What you know is what comes through the door and what you deal with from clues you then get. I want part of the director-actor relationship to be going through this process. They need to get to know my characters. They need to be able to allow the audience to get to know my characters. I refuse to answer questions on that.

The Right Direction

The BBC reports that four of the Guantanamo Seven have been returned to France.

Of course, it is a move in the right direction for America to repatriate these alleged terrorists. It also means that these four will now get to face the rigors of the French legal system.

Their attorneys were actually pretty upset with what happened:

Indeed lawyers for the men complain that the French government has been unduly supine in its attempts to have them brought home

The French being supine. Heh.

Not Tuning In

I'll admit that I don't watch the conventions. I won't watch the Democratic Convention, nor will I watch the Republican Convention. For a lot of people it is because the conventions are boring. They'd rather watch something entertaining on TV like the Leave It To Beaver marathon on TV-Land; I certainly understand not wanting to betray Wally. Yet for other people they don't watch because they know all the important parts will be shown on the various news media. Hey, I watch Sportscenter, so I certainly understand catching the highlights.

Those reasons are not why I don't watch the conventions. For me it is because I love reading. I might be a dork but I actually find spoilers of the speeches and read them before the conventions! That's right! Just like sound engineers sometimes leak music albums to the general public, some speech writers leak the speeches.

Actually, I was able to read Al Gore's speech before any of you "watched" it last night. Here is an excerpt that I found particularly interesting.

Us Democrats need to rally behind important causes. We need to frame the issues for this election and follow through. What is most important for our party is balancing the budget and fixing the national health care system. Rather than squander the surplus on a risky tax cut for the wealthy, I would put it in what I call a.. "lock-box." In my plan, the "lock-box" would be used only for Social Security and Medicare. It would have two different locks. Now, one of the keys to the "lock-box" would be kept by the President; the other key would be sealed in a small, metal container and placed under the bumper of the Senate Majority Leader's car. But let me add something in my plan. The "lock-box" would also be camouflaged. Now, to all outward appearances, it would be a Leatherbound edition of Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. But it wouldn't be. It would be the "lock-box". Let me here tonight issue a warning to the enemies, or potential enemies, of the United States: you may think you know the location of the "lock-box". Maybe you do. Or maybe that's a decoy. Or a dummy "lock-box". Only the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, The President and his wife are going to know for sure.

I know you're jealous.


To all of you who start the Bar exams today, best of luck. Just remember to ask yourself: what would Lionel Hutz do?

Ringing And Singing

Why would I want to listen to music on my cell phone?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Textual Analysis: Binaries within Measure for Measure

During my evening run it occurred to me that there is a very simple binary occurring in Measure for Measure that forces Isabella to do nothing but accept the proposal. Her other option, going back to the convent, simply could not occur with the underlying binary of justice and injustice.

I need to get out my copy of Measure for Measure to study this deeper, but allow me to make a few quick points. First, Measure for Measure is one of the problem comedies written by Shakespeare where there The Duke and Isabella are wed. Under this justice/injustice binary the reward for not committing a crime is a marriage.

It seems clear that underneath the text of the play exists a world of male dominance. The women in this play are prostitutes, nuns, or jilted lovers that have no control over their lives. Rather they are controlled by men who pay them money, a male-dominated religion, and men who continue to control the heartstrings of their former lovers. Isabella shows a sense of independence in her refusal to Angelo's advances, "Better it were a brother died at once/Than a sister, by redeeming him,/Should die for ever." (II, 4, 107-109). Unfortunately it was not independent at all. Isabella seeks her brother's advice and does not act until there is advice from The Duke and Friar.

Isabella is dominated by The Duke throughout the play leaving it clear that she'll accept his marriage proposal. The Duke was ultimately the one who devised what would be the bed trick as he suggests, "We shall advise this wronged maid to stead up your/appointment, go in your place." (III, 1, 241-242). Isabella submits to any of the Dukes ideas.

The Duke did lie about his appearance but he did it for reasons good purposes and justice rather than something that would constitute an injustice.

Again, I need to reread the play and think about this more. It's been about 3 years since I read it, so I could be off on a few of my ideas. Of course, one of my favorite lines in Measure for Measure occurs in the third act:

Sweet sister, let me live.
What sin you do to save a brother's life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.

(III, 1, 134-137).

Indeed Claudio, indeed, sin is a virtue.
Something Special

Running full speed

The end of July and it's in the 70s in Texas. This is so unbelivable that I'm going to put on sun sunscreen like it's aftershave and run around the nearby lake. Yes, this will be seven nine miles of pain, discomfort, and public humilation; however, that's what makes me me.

UPDATE: I realized that it was actually nine miles when a friend at school reminded me. Soon after my legs remembered that it was nine and a half miles. It was beautiful outside.

Movie Time

I would say it myself, but I've got a mouthful of goldfish. Buffalo Wings & Vodka, why don't you do the honors,

I’ll be spending all of next weekend in the movie theatre as well. The fact that The Village is opening would normally be enough to make me excited, and the remake of The Manchurian Candidate should be worth watching. But after several months of gushing from people who saw it at Sundance, Zach Braff’s Garden State is what really has me pumped. People keep saying things like “brilliant” and “Oscar”, but all I needed to hear was "belongs on the short list of modern American films like Beautiful Girls…” and I was sold. So don’t call me next weekend. I won’t be home.

Thanks Mr. Wing&Vodka.

During Retirement You've Gotta Do Something

Via Thus Blog Anderson I was able to learn that Newt Gingrich has now written over 120 reviews of books and products at While the reviews aren't spectacular, I do think that he has found a better calling.

Idiot Me

This weekend I had a large writing assignment, which I had planned to spend the entire weekend preparing. Instead I decided I was going to have a fun weekend.

Friday I went with my friend Ben to see a couple art show openings. First we went to a New Texas Talent show that was in an unairconditioned gallery. The white wine wasn't my favorite (red, please) but the art work more than made up for it.

Typically I go to these shows with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I hate it when people make "modern" looking art to mask their lack of talent. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy good modern art. Tell me you like Damien Hurst and you'll be my new best friend. My problem is just that I'm an art snob. If you don't have talent don't try to mask it by trying to appear indecipherable.

That said, the first show we went to was not like that at all. Rather there appeared to be a lot of great works of art. There was a good mix of photography (some digital), sculpture, and painting. I didn't, unfortunately, notice any ceramics. One of the more fun pieces where two very large puppets that were made with paper mache from banned books. They were characters from the banned books. The artist actually did a good job with crafting the puppets. I liked reading little parts and trying to place where it was in the book.

One of my friends had a couple of her photos. She likes to take pictures in abandoned houses with a person in them. However, the person is often very ghostlike because of a very long exposure setting.

Then we went to the gallery next door to see their opening. It was exactly what I hate about "modern" art. There really weren't any good ideas let alone good artwork. It was terrible. On the positive note is that the gallery had both air conditioning and good beer.

I used the term "modern" in quotes because I realize the preferred term for current art is "contemporary." However, I think that some of what I saw falls more into the "modern" art genre than contemporary. It simply attempted to mimic the work of better artists from the 80s and 90s.

After that we hopped onto the rail to go downtown and see what the nightlife was like this weekend. We really didn't see anything fun, so we stopped at an On the Border to get dessert. I had some sort of a sizzling apple thing that was calorie smacking goodness.

Saturday was a lot of baseball game watching during the day and hanging out with a group of friends in the evening. I went over to a law school buddies house to see his new baby. D.J. is about 1 month old! For some reason I didn't feel comfortable enough to hold him, but I did enjoy watching him get pampered by his loving parents. We ended up grilling lots of food, drinking a few beers, and talking about everything under the sun.

Anyhow, that pretty much sums up my weekend. When I wasn't having fun I was staying up most of the night to try to get the writing done. Would it not have been wise to simply forego the fun for a couple days?


I haven't really slept this weekend. Grr. Nine A.M. tomorrow is the deadline.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Singing Loudly 10, 5, and 2

The ten most recent songs to play on my iTunes:

  1. OAR - Night Shift

  2. Pedro the Lion - Penetration

  3. Jack Johnson - Losing Hope

  4. Starflyer 59 - When I Learn to Sing

  5. Duncan Sheik - Time and Good Fortune

  6. David Bowie - Dead Man Walking

  7. Smashing Pumpkins - Landslide

  8. Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Wig in a Box

  9. Aimee Mann - How Am I Different?

  10. REM - Bittersweet Me

Five reasons my Lucky Charms cereal is better than yours:

  1. It's only slightly stale

  2. I don't pick the marshmallows out

  3. Expired milk...

  4. ...plenty of beer

  5. It favors Irish owners

Two random thoughts inspired by law review:

  1. Law review has always reminded me of Huckleberry Finn white-washing the fence. 1ls are told by the 2 and 3ls that this is the best thing in the world. Then you get on the journal and you are given your first cite check and realize how much shit you were fed.

  2. If firms were impressed by getting your ass kicked by a donkey there would be a huge surge in the donkey farming market.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Big Fight!

The Red Sox and Yankees just got into a big fight.

It started with Jason Varitek and A-Rod throwing punches after Rodriguez got hit with the ball thrown by Curt Schilling. You could see A-Rod saying "fuck you" to Varitek. Then Tanyon Sturtze from the Yankees ran into the fight after a few punches were thrown. David Ortiz came in (possibly trying to break it up?) and Trot Nixon followed. It was such a pretty fight.

Varitek was thrown from the game. He got a huge standing ovation when he left the field. Alex Rodriguez was then thrown from the game which caused an applause.

Why don't these two teams just destroy each other? It'll make for a better baseball season.

Crossing the Border to Canada

According to this article the immense gridlock that plagues the bridges leading into Ontario are costing the economies of both Canada and the US 13.6 billion dollars a year.

I have only crossed the border once, and I did that later in the evening. When I saw one of the bridges in the early evening it appeared to be moving along at a decent speed, but I trust that is an anomaly. What typically happens is that during the day the trucks try to cross the border and are stuck in traffic that is barely moving. Then there are costs associated with this,

extra costs associated with late deliveries, additional diesel and labour for trucks, and a loss of business

And those extra costs are around $5.2 billion for Ontario alone.

The problem is that the public doesn't associate this extra costs with their pocketbooks. The costs aren't delivered in the form of a tax or a bill. What the public generally is concerned about is the extra pollution from the exhaust of these idling vehicles. While that is undoubtedly a problem it is only a part of the entire problem.

Every day there is about $1 billion in goods traded between Ontario and the United States. If the delays could be lessened this amount would only rise. More companies would be willing to trade across the border. Meanwhile the companies that already are trading across the border will not have the additional costs that result from these delays.

A problem that is specifically for Canandians is that some businesses would rather leave Canada than deal with the border crossing problems.

Chatham recently lost out on 600 jobs to Michigan when auto-parts manufacturer Dr. Schneider Systems Inc. Decided to set up shop in the United States, fearing costly border-crossing delays.

Those numbers will only increase when economics force Canadian companies to realize that the border crossing isn't getting better. Especially if these companies are primarily in business with American companies.

Canada is going to have to do something to make the border passage more attractive. The ways to do this are by opening more passages and expanding already existing crossings. The key area is the Windor border that connects with Detroit.

The Detroit-Windsor border is said to be the world's busiest border crossing, with $128 billion in annual trade crossing in both directions. An average of 10,000 trucks a day cross the bridge both ways.

Canada is about to begin an environmental assessment to determine if they should create a new border crossing at Windsor. The problem is that this is a long term solution that could take too long to occur.

The best example of the red tape bureaucracy is what has been happening with the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie.

"At Fort Erie, they've been arguing about a second span for the Peace Bridge for 15, 20 years. We can't afford to wait another 15, 20 years"
-David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association.

It seems clear that Ontario needs to move beyond the talks and get some more borders opened. I think that Ontario is attractive to a lot of businesses and probably would have a much easier time attracting those potential companies if they can make the economics less costly.


The Friend Puzzle

What is it that I expect from my friends? What is it that I give to my friends that always ends up making me feel like I'm getting used? I know that I give a lot and require a lot from friends. It is probably more than most people, and I would think that it's some for of insecurity. For me friends are few but important.

In The Royal Tenenbaums, Margo tells the mediocre writer, Eli Cash (a quote from his most recent novel, "The crickets and the rust-beetles scuttled among the nettles of the sage thicket. "Vámonos, amigos," he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddlecock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight.") that he isn't a genius. Eli queries why she had to specifically point out that he was not a genius. She replies that it's not a word she uses lightly.

I don't think that I use that word lightly either. When I was on my run yesterday I couldn't help but think about one of my former girlfriends. We dated for about a year and then were "friends" for another year. We did have a very strange relationship when we were dating in that we would often (or she would often) go a couple weeks without talking. The same thing happened when we decided to try to be "friends." Allow me to use her communications with me as a case study for my neurotic needs in friendship.

I'm not sure what happened, but I guess there was some sort of a break down in the definition. To me a friend is someone who talks to you more than once every other week (unless there is a good reason). I need someone who is interested in me, who enjoys hearing what I'm doing, who understands my humor, and who wants to make me a better person. I don't want a "friend" who checks in when it is convenient.

The problem with this former girlfriend was that she would check in when it was convenient. Unfortunately, for me, when I consider someone a friend it usually means that they are really close to me. I care about them a lot and want our relationship to grow. This wasn't happening with her, so I confronted her on it. We talked on the phone for about two hours. More than likely about an hour of it was due to me not understanding what was meant. Finally she said that I could not be a best friend to her. I asked if that meant that we should just act like we don't know each other. She said no it just meant that we could be friends.

The friendship from her from that point on was nothing but a train wreck. At some point, after months of not hearing from her, I emailed her. She replied:

I'm glad you wrote to me; I've wondered how law school was going and how you were. I didn't know you were going to Dublin, that is so awesome! I'm excited for you. What will you be doing there?...
And I won't be quite so burried in theater, so you may actually see me around too.

Because I'm dumb and easily excited I figured this meant that we were friends. Especially the last part about actually getting to see her. I emailed a couple more times that summer and didn't hear anything, so I contacted her during the school year. She replied, again,

I know, it has been a very very long time. You must think I'm ignoring you or that I just don't care about you, and I am so sorry. I do care, and I do think of you; the problem is me and my thoughtless, selfish way of dealing with people.

Friends are here to forgive...and she makes it so easy when she continues...

Can we say defense mechanism? Anyway, I'm here. I can't believe the way I've treated you; I can't say I'm sorry enough...If you'd rather not talk to me, I understand. I am not, never have been, a very good friend. But if you have time, and if you don't mind, I'd like to talk to you. My schedule's freed up some after this week, so if you'd like to get coffee or something, I'd like to see you again. Let me know.

How could I not forgive her? I replied by saying, "Your apology is accepted and it means quite a bit to me. Sometimes it takes a little work to be close to you but I'm a pretty patient person, and I think you're worth the occasional struggle; I care about you."

At this point it wasn't even so much that I had loved her at one point, as it was that I considered her my friend. She knew a lot about me and I a lot about her. When this was happening, last year, I would have forgiven a friend in this situation without reservation.

We went ahead and got coffee a few days later. We talked for about two hours and said that we should do things more often. I emailed her a couple more times and didn't hear back from her. Then I saw her at a little restaurant. She looked quite uncomfortable to see me and barely said hello. I was crushed.

Then I sat down and sent her an email where I tried to explain what I needed in a friendship. She sent me one email back:

Here's the deal. I appreciate the letter you sent me, and I know how hard it must have been to write. I know you care about me, but there are some things I need to say...I am your friend, and I have been ever since we met...You continued to pursue me, wanting, you said, the kind of relationship in which we spent time together, shared meaningful thoughts and feelings, and kept each other uppermost in our thoughts...I explained that that sort of relationship, the sort you said you wanted with me, was synonymous in my mind to that of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship...I said I wanted a casual friendship, the sort where we could talk when or if we had the time, but either way it wouldn't be a big deal.

So far she has listed a lot of things that are meaningful to me in friendships. The sort of relationship that I wanted with her was not as dramatic as she willfully makes it seem. I wanted to know that she cared about me and would be there for me when I needed a person to talk. Her idea of this "casual friendship" is nothing more to me than being an acquaintance. When we initially talked about being friends she rebutted the idea of it being just acquaintances. Although, she did explain that she couldn't have a guy as a bestfriend. The best I could figure is that for some reason she is unable to believe in platonic friendships. However, the painful email didn't stop,

I don't avoid you and I don't ignore you. If you hear nothing from me, it could be one of three things: A) I am too busy to breathe properly and don't have time to talk to anyone at all, B) I have a few moments of leisure and am using them to catch up on homework, sleep, or my relationships with my family and/or theater friends, or C) I have time, but I haven?t seen or talked to you in months and I don't think to call. (C) happens maybe twice in a semester.

This is the paragraph of her email that still brings up the most pain. I was the first person she loved, her first kiss, and someone she spent hours with every day, yet when she has a few moments (a couple times per year apparently) she couldn't remember to call me? This being from someone who just a couple paragraphs before said she "does care about" me? My few good friends alerted me to the fact that she obviously wasn't my friend. Unfortunately, this is about the same sentiment I find from most friends.

John C. Reiley has got nothing on me.

Then after the hurtful paragraph came a brilliant conclusion:

The fact is that I am not incredible, I am just me. And I don't think you know me at all. So when you tell me that you want to be a meaningful part of my life, I tend to doubt you. I think what's true is that you want me to be a meaningful part of yours. And I simply don?t have the energy. I have all I can take just trying to survive my own life by myself.

I don't want to reject you. As I said, you're a kind, intelligent person, and I would love it if we could be casual friends. But you aren't willing to accept that. You've given me two choices: to commit to a serious relationship with you or to create an irreparable rift between us and cause you to resent me. Given the choice, I have to choose my sanity.

I am sorry. I wish it hadn't turned out this way. But you've demanded All or Nothing, and I don?t have All to give. So I'm sorry, but this is my final answer: I'm asking you not to write or call, and if you do, I can?t answer you. I'm sorry.

Of course, being immature, I emailed her back with a blank message that had a subject line reading: You can't fire me, I quit."

I guess that on some level she is correct. She isn't correct that I demand "all" out of my friends. In fact, she is entirely incorrect in that she assumes that I'm a drain of her livelihood. With my friends I try to do all I can to build them up. On occasion I have brought people down, but it's very rare. She is correct that I demand true friendship from people who claim to be my friends.

I worry a lot about this because I've been hurt by people in the past. I'm still recovering from this which happened about six months ago. Preceding this there was a long series of betrayal that led to all sorts of other insecurities. I'm guessing that most people aren't as fragile with friendships as I am. Most people probably feel secure that when someone says they are their friend it is true. To me it just seems that actions are what I see. If someone shows me they are my friend I will believe it. What is most hurtful is when someone like my former girlfriend rejects friendship because of all that I had shared with her. She really rejected all that I had to offer, which hurts.

On some level I fear that I'm doomed to drive all of my potential friendships into the ground, because it's very hard for me to just trust that someone is going to be my friend. When a friend knows what you have to offer and they are willing to walk away you suddenly realize what you're worth.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Song Lyrics

Lonely Sometimes

I woke up from a strange dream
And it was raining outside
I rolled over for the telephone

I thought I'd call someone
Tell them I dreamed I had died
But I know that I was all alone

I just get lonely sometimes
I want someone to take away my grief
I just get lonely sometimes
I want to wake up in the morning with someone
Lying next to me who I can turn to for relief
I just get lonely sometimes
But I know I just need You

I probably slept in a bed of bitterness
That's why I woke up this way
That's probably why I'm in this lonesome hole

I probably got to needing everything
And needing it today
That's probably why I play this lonely role

But I know I know I know I just need You

-by Don Chaffer

Afraid of commitment or what we can learn from Scrubs

Spencer at Mediocrity's Co-Pilot watched the Scrubs Marathon last night. It seems that he was most inspired by the final episode in the evening. As he says,

It seems J.D., after months (years?) of fixation on Elliot, had finally wooed her away from that Felicity guy who's a marine biologist, only to discover that his feelings for her weren't substantial enough -- that he cared for her, that he found her attractive, but that it didn't combine in that ineffable thing called love. Elliot, it seems, had really been a pawn in a game of self-definition & possession -- &, now that she'd been brought close (admitting, in fact, that she thought J.D. was 'the one' it turns out that J.D. feels suddenly removed, distant.

I had been thinking about posting about my problem with actually committing in the form of a case study. This episode provides some of the simple reasons why I don't commit either early or often in most situations. It is usually little, tiny, insubstantial things that send me running.

I've had, on occasion, the opportunities to meet some of the greatest girls. Then I flee. Is it because I see something in them that I know will keep me from ever loving them? I'm not sure? It frustrates me when I later think about the fact that I never gave a good situation the opportunity to turn into something permanent. Just like J.D. I sense that something isn't there and wind up dancing alone.

Alas, the fight is never ending.

Baseball Surprises

Inspired by a discussion on I, Max, which is arguably the best sports show. If for nothing else than it's fun to watch, he sort of knows his stuff, and he just said that the Dallas Cowboys are truly America's team. There we go; he knows his stuff.

Are the Rangers a fraud? We've got to give the Rangers there props because in this late in the season there are no frauds. Buck Showalter has done a tremendous job of getting the team into one of the best hitting clubs in the country. There isn't anybody on either Oakland or Anaheim that I would want over Michael Young, Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, or Alfonso Soriano.

The critics claim that the bullpen is going to be our weakness. They are wrong. The fact is the Rangers have a good bullpen. Is it great? No, it isn't the best bullpen in the world, but we've got a great closer. Francisco Cordero does his job very well. He might not be an Gange but he closes the games when it's needed.

The Rangers do have what it takes to go all the way. They might not win the Series this year, but they do have the talent and leadership to give it a good run.

Ha! I'm right!

Usually I'm incorrect with my assumptions, but this appears to be what I've been saying all along.

"Over the period 1999 to 2003, DVD prices fell by 25% and the price of players fell in the US from over $1,000 to almost nothing," says Strumpf. "At the same time, CD prices went up by 10%. Combined DVD and VHS tape sales went up by 500m, while CD sales fell by 200m, so a possible explanation is that people were spending on DVDs instead of CDs."

From this report that shows that illegal downloading hasn't really hurt CD sales.

Thanks Boing Boing for boosting my humble ego.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Family Priorities

The people at take a look at the Bush ad that calls out Kerry for abortion related votes.

They point out the Bush ads make a fairly complex situation and turn it into something too simple. Bush is anti-abortion while Kerry is, overall, pro-choice.

In fact, for the past 20 years Kerry has received a perfect 100% from the National Abortion Rights Action League. Meanwhile he has been getting 0% from the National Right to Life Committee whose PAC actively endorses President Bush.

The ad says "Kerry voted against parental notification for teenage abortions." In 1991 Kerry voted against the a particular "parental notification" amendment. It was

a measure that would have required that parents or guardians be notified 48 hours in advance of any abortion on a pregnant daughter under 18 performed by any organization receiving federal family-planning funds.

The Coats Amendment ending up passing through the Senate.

The reasons that Kerry voted against this wasn't because he didn't agree with the overall amendment. Rather, Kerry thought that the limited exceptions were too narrow. The two exceptions included situations where the pregnancy occurred because of "incest with a parent or guardian," or if a physician determined that an emergency abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother.

Kerry supported a measure that would allow an abortion without parental consent if the physician determined the female "is mature enough and competent to provide consent" herself, or if the doctor determined that notifying the parent or guardian would lead to abuse or "is not in the best interest of the minor."

Ultimately neither the Coats amendment nor the Kerry-backed measure became law.

Next the ad says that "Kerry even voted to allow schools to hand out the morning-after pill without parent's knowledge."

First this measure had very little to do with parental notification, but Kerry did vote to allow schools to give emergency contraception to teenagers.

In 2000 Jesse Helms of North Carolina proposed an amendment to bar the use of federal funds "for the distribution or provision of postcoital emergency contraception" to anyone under age 18 in an elementary or secondary school.

The morning after pill is effective up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse to stop the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. This pill is opposed by anti-abortion groups because, as they say,

Implantation is simply the process by which new life gets nutrition; so it causes the death of that new life.

--Wendy Wright, spokesperson for the Concerned Women of America.

Kerry voted against the Helms Amendment which later died.

As you can see it isn't as simple as the Bush campaign makes it seem. Personally, I believe that the broader exceptions are a good thing when it comes to abortions. Furthermore, I think that the morning after pill should be left as a matter of school policy decided by local governments.

PSO: FU to the Emmys tonight

Scrubs ought to have been nominated for best show by the Emmy Awards. You can see why tonight when four of the seasons best Scrubs episodes will be aired. If you haven't seen the show before then I'm sure you'll enjoy.

UPDATE: They are showing "My Mistake" with guest star Brendan Frasier. This one was probably my favorite episode this year!

Previously they showed "My Clean Break" where J.D. wants to dump Tara Reid but she beats him to it. I don't like that episode as well.

I've come to the conclusion that my guts have [ahem] for brains.

My gut says that High Fidelity would make a great musical.

Green said "High Fidelity" lent itself to musical treatment. "The book is about people who live in a pop-music world and are obsessed with pop music."

"The hero's life is a soundtrack," said Kitt, "and the big moments are songs."

The producers and creative team for Avenue Q did a wonderful job of creating an interesting and enjoyable musical, so I trust they could do adapt this book into a musical.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Looking at it Differently

Below I didn't address potential problems with Will Baude's TNR piece, because I think more importantly there is a problem with the current Supreme Court's criminal law jurisprudence. Orin Kerr of The Volokh Conspiracy does address what he believes to be problems with Will's article. That problem is that Will didn't look at the importance of Apprendi v. New Jersey.

If you want to understand this interesting discussion than you'll need to do some homework. Important further reading:

Blakely (pdf req'd)
Crawford (pdf req'd)

This Land

Check out this hilarious flash commentary that bashes both Presidential candidates. Bonus: Cameo with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

(Warning: if you're on dial up it's about 3.7megs to stream).

Dangerous Supreme Court Opinions

The most recent article on TNR by Will Baude explores the importance of the Federal Circuit Court appointments. In the article he focuses on the short term impact of the Supreme Court opinion of Blakely v. Washington. The Supreme Court handed down a number of important criminal law decisions that have left both judges and criminal law attorneys wondering what the hell they are supposed to do.

Historically it has been copyright law that the Supreme Court has always managed to get wrong. The reasons for that are understandable: copyright is difficult, most justices don't have a background in copyright law, and copyright cases just don't make it to the Supreme Court often. However, criminal law attorneys are usually not surprised by the decisions of the Supreme Court. That doesn't mean that everyone was happy with the decisions, but practitioners could at least forecast (from the makeup of the court) the likely outcome.

This term the court has been inconsistent, unpredictable, and imprecise to a level that have left criminal law attorneys and judges wondering what they are supposed to do. The three cases that have presented the most confusion are Crawford, Blakely, and Patane.

I have discussed Crawford v. Washington at length. The Court addressed the problem of allowing witnesses to testify without confronting the accused. This case, on its face, seemed to be a victory for the rights of accused. However, as the courts have criticized, the decision was written so broadly, and with so many holes, that it is now up to the lower courts to fill in the gaps. This case sent waves through the criminal law world. "What the hell is the Supreme Court doing to us?" was the question asked by many prosecutors and defense attorneys alike.

What the court was doing was setting the stage for a series of decisions that seemed to be nothing but confounding. Patane and Blakely were handing down around the same time. The court gave criminal law attorneys a few weeks to catch their breathes and fear the next two decisions. In Patane, the court looked at the 5th Amendment rights of a man who interrupted his Miranda warnings to say he knew his rights and then revealed his Glock. The court stressed that the 5th Amendment is a trial protection. This decision was about as suspected. While there are questions that will need to be explored by the courts it is entirely overshadowed by the decision in Blakely.

Then the largest surprise came with Blakely. As Will points out,

the Court held unconstitutional Washington state's sentencing scheme because it put too much power in the hands of judges, as opposed to juries.

It is this holding that makes the decision one of the biggest criminal law decisions in history. Where Crawford caused waves in the criminal law community this case is caused a tsunami. Many law professors and Judges have complained that the federal sentencing guidelines take away too much discretion. Now the lower courts are left with the power to raise this issue in light of the Blakely holding.

Will accurately points out that the courts did not have to read the decision broadly. Of course, the Supreme Court, in all three of these decisions, didn't have to write such imprecise decisions. The court left holes, questions, or opportunities (whichever way you wish to view it) for the lower courts to struggle with.

Will goes on to explain that in the past the lower courts have read other decisions more narrowly and reasons it could be different this time because of the makeup of the courts. He stresses the political impact of appointments to these courts are more important than people often believe. I encourage you to read his well written article for a different take on Blakely.

She's out of control

For some reason the media finds a little tongue incredibly newsworthy.

I see that the liberal media is at it again. Has anyone stopped to consider that there could be a totally innocent explanation for this? For example, many industrial glass cleaners contain a very high concentration of ethyl alcohol.


11am and it's already insanely hot. Do you ever get so hot you just want to punch someone in the face?

The Good and the Bad and the Ugly - Sports edition

I love watching the Kings play basketball because they have Brad Miller who is almost a hero. I can't stand watching the Lakers unless it's the Mavericks taking them down. I'm pleased Divac is is heading back to the Lakers. Now I won't have to watch him old clumbsy body fumbling around the court.

Malone it's time to just go home. Don't get on the court again because I'm tired of seeing you play on those rare occassions I catch the Lakers. I'm not sure where this comes from as you had little chemistry with Shaq.

Ostertag, you were supposed to come home to your Duncanville roots. What are you thinking to sign with the Kings?. Say goodbye to what little career you have had until now. I'm bitter.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Must See TV

NBC has guaranteed a happy Thursday evening. A "Scrub-a-Thon" hosted by Zach Braff. This is quite possibly my favorite show left on tv. Of course, I'm also excited about Zach Braff's movie, Garden State, that will be opening soon. The reason I like these movies is their quirky comedy and my appreciation of their irony.

Searching for search and coming up 7s

Via Chris Pirillo, MSN has a new search. Query: Search. First result: Google. MSN came in 7th.

If you go over to Google and repeat you'll see that Google is not the first result. Rather, it also comes in at number seven. At first I thought that MSN might have got things right because Google is the most effective search for me. After my second search I'm not so sure.

Thank you Whole Foods

While I was enjoying my spinach salad I was reading over the bag it came in. I was happy to read that they don't use any bug sprays on their greens. Right on cue a little bug was walking on my coffee table around my plate. I don't want to be pointing any fingers. I'm just saying...

Worst Case Scenario: Obstruction of Justice

The Australian: Martha plans a court guide [July 21, 2004]:

"'There's no how-to book about this,' she said. 'There isn't. And not that it's going to be a big bestseller, but for anybody who has to go through this process, there should be some guidelines because guidelines would help.'"

I'll give you the advice for free. If you are ever arrested for anything do not say anything to the police without an attorney present. Tell them you won't answer anything until you have an attorney.

Martha also says,
that she had no guide to help her handle the trial process.

Typically that's what you're paying an attorney to do. Although this idea is silly, I'm sure there will be a few people who would waste their money on "Martha's Guide to the Trial Process."

The art of the jukebox

Last night Ben and I went to our favorite "upscale dive" bar to grab a few beers. After a beer I noticed that there was no music playing, so I decided that I would go and get the mix started. I realized the responsibility that comes with picking songs on the jukebox. You want to pick songs that make people think you are cool. You don't want too many depressing songs but they can't all be upbeat. Most importantly, you don't want to pick the most popular songs that the bartenders have to hear three or four times a day.

I think that I did a pretty decent job.

1. Billy Braggs & Wilco - Ingrid Bergman
2. Pulp Fiction (Urge Overkill) - Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon
3. Old 97's - Buick Center Complex
4. Pixies (Live at BBC) - Waves of Mutilation
5. Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
6. I Am Sam (Howie Day) - Help

I realize that the cover of Help was a bit bold and Ring of Fire is a bit overplayed. I'll blame those choices on the alcohol.

Preemptive I apologize

The BBC reports on a story that gives a new meaning to wearing your heart on your sleeve.

This is just stupid

Chatterbox at Slate wastes a few minutes of my day making the argument that a MooLatte is poorly named. The reason seems to stem from the fact that if you changed one vowel it would be a the archaic word "mulatto."

Here I was hoping that they would tell me whether I need to make the drive to a Dairy Queen to try one of these things and Chatterbox just says that a few people hard of hearing might misunderstand the word? And I will say that the spell check just thought that MooLatte should be mulatto.

This reminds me of the teacher who was fired for saying niggardly in class.

Monday, July 19, 2004

It took him long enough to write; so what if my review is belated: Middlesex

I can give nothing but praise for Middlesex, the fascinating story of a hermaphrodite named Callie Stephanides. The author, Jeffrey Eugenides is a resident of Detroit who is a talented and crafty writer if for no other reason than he makes Detroit seem like an alluring city. The setting for The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex are both primarily in Detroit. After reading this book I am no longer upset that it took Eugenides almost ten years to write his second novel.

The narrator for the book is a male who is telling his story of coming to terms with being raised a girl despite always being a boy. Fascinating issues of gender and biology are explored as Cal discusses the beginning of a incestuous relationship in Greece, to his parents life in Detroit, moving to the suburbs, his own falling in love with a female classmate, psychological exploitation in NYC, and the exploratory escape found in San Francisco. All of it ending with the satisfying coming to terms with both himself and his family coming to terms with who he has become.

Eugenides is able to weave a story together that also shows the beautiful struggle of an immigrant family trying to follow the American dream. A dream that can never be completely achieved, despite any monetary success, because of the abnormality in the 5-alpha gene that was not unheard of in the village the Stephanides emigrated from. Leaving the family a probable tragedy. Not one for predictable endings, Eugenides shows that the American dream has shifted as attitudes have changed. While Cal might not fit in with all of America he is able to find his niche.

The scope of the book is complimented by Eugenides love of irony, coincidences, and careful repetition. An example would be the burning of Mount Olympus that was endured by Desdemona and her husband was later relived by her son when the riots of Detroit turned the streets of Detroit into a war zone just as the Turks did a generation earlier.

Eugenides is able to weave together an important and enjoyable tale. There is both pathos and humor that come from the story. An unforgettable book that is narrated by an unforgettable character.

Could I get a McJob?

As if losing your potential lifelong mate isn't reason enough to stay away from McDonalds. How about outsourcing their drive thru services?

UPDATE: Dylan, in comments, argues:

It's a dedicated teleoperator taking your order and electronically transmitting it to the work monitor in the store. She's sitting in a cubicle with a headset and computer, without a fryer behind her, a register on her left, the fountain drinks to her right, and a second customer in front of her while she's taking your order.

In addition to the being more focused and better trained, she's probably a little brighter than your average burger droid. And while she's focusing on your order, the register person can focus on remembering your napkins and giving you correct change.

While I understand that this is ideally how it should work. I don't think it will.

I'm sorry but I just don't see how a "trained" telephone operator who is sitting at a computer (probably looking at porn, talking to the guy next to him, checking email, or if all of those options are closed, bored out of his mind) will do a better job than someone actually at the McDonalds.

In my experience fast food restaurants usually have someone who is stationed at an order window. Their job is to take your order as soon as you pull up to the window. They have one place someone can order and one place someone can make their order. That order is then given a number and shown on a screen to the people preparing the food. I drive up to the person who took my order and give that person money. Then I pull up to the second window where someone has the job of putting the completed orders in a bag.

Now if I pull up and order at a place that outsources the person taking the order I could very well have to wait. The entire point is to save money. Let's say that a call center services 20 restaurants. They certainly won't have 20 people working. They might have 5 at the busiest hours. Less during slower hours. That's how they will make their money. This means that I could get an automated message saying "Please look over the menu while we connect you with the next available representative."

That's not what I want with *fast* food.


Err. I turned on my brain just a second ago and remembered that there is such a thing as time zones. Ok, so the positives of having a Colorado Springs centralized call center are these:

They will curb employee theft, and a call center will be better handled to deal with the lunch/evening rush, since the call center will most likely cover 4 time zones, things will most likely be smoother.

The answer is in front of you (or the absurdity of commercials)

Recently I've seen the dumbest commercial rather frequently. It is a commercial for McDonald's the employs the use of the internal monologue. The girl is wondering how this guy is so perfect but single. She lists good things about him as they go into the McDonald's. Then there is a cut to the store where he orders for them and she thinks that the reason is because he is a control freak.

Well, I would venture that the reason why he is not taken is because he takes girls to McDonald's on a first date. That is my guess.

I've never gone whale hunting

Japanese politics are silly.

Free love on the free love highway

Damn, Amber has stirred up quite the passionate (ahem) discussion over at her blog. The topic is whether the libertarian women in DC are more passionate than their conservative counterparts.

It sprung from Will Baude posting this quote from Radley Balko,

Based on personal experience . . . . I can say without reservation that in D.C. at least, libertarian women are head and shoulders more attractive, sexier, smarter, and more passionate than politically-conscious women of other philosophical stripes
Of course, by passion, all of them are politely saying that libertarian women in DC are better at making the sweet love. Usually when I talk about passion it just means that I had a mean round of filling out crossword puzzles.

In my opinion it is Rickey from Three Years of Hell who makes the most sense. His point is simply this,

The idea that one's skill in the sack is somehow correlated with one's political orientation ridiculous, and crying out that "Not only are we right--we're better in bed, too" has a none-too-mature ring to it.

I happen to agree. Actually, a good majority of my friends who are libertarian are waiting on hitting that sack, at least with another person, until they are married.

My friends who happen to not be passionate while being libertarian are not in DC. One is at Berkeley while the other is somewhere in Kansas. Maybe that is part of the difference. As Will from Crescat says,

The implications of this comment-- whether that's causal, correlative, generalizable to other cities, complete nonsense, too much information-- I just don't have answers to. I just don't know.

I guess that I'm just not understanding what libertarian or DC or anything has to do with passion. I have met plenty of passionate conservatives and passionate liberals. I've also met just the opposite from both sides of the fence. For my friends, they choose to be libertarian because they feel it is the best political viewpoint for their religious beliefs.

In comments Spencer Short states the reasons he thinks the generalization might be true,

I don't think it's completely true that ideology & (ahem) passion are completely discrete. Free Love? Just Say No? They don't need to be all-encompassing to be telling.

Give me an ideology that doesn't try to legislate the bedroom AND isn't dampered by political correctness's wet blanket anyday.

While these are a major generalization there might be something to them. I just wanted to point out that are quite a few libertarians who are anti-passion before marriage and plenty of conservatives who enjoy fireplaces.

UPDATE: I really don't know what the fireplace comment at Jen's blog means, as that post seems to be a bunch of code too. It just makes me laugh.

Human rights violations in Sudan

In a BBC story entitled Sudan militiamen face amputations I learned of atrocious rape crimes.

In many cases, women have been raped in public, in front of their husbands, relatives, or the wider community, Amnesty says. This is in order to humiliate them, their family and the entire group.

The international community needs to step in to do something. While I definitely agree with the sovereignty of a nation, I also think that there are times where basic human rights supersede any rights of a nation. At this point it would be appropriate for the international community to investigate these reports.

The Sudanese ambassador to London claims that this isn't really occurring,

Dr Hasan Abdin, denied his government was complicit in the attacks and described Amnesty's evidence as "flimsy and exaggerated".

What Amnesty International recommends appears to be the correct course of action:

Girls as young as eight and women of 80 have been raped, says Amnesty International, which wants an inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A little late

Pheromones in a bottle are in the mail. Err...maybe not.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Random thoughts

  1. During my evening run I realized that I was running further, without stopping to walk, than normal. It occurred to me that cross country would have been far easier for me if the girls had been able to run with me. I keep going forever if there is a girl running nearby.

  2. When I get my mail I have to walk through the little swimming pool area of my apartment. Today I noticed a girl sitting on one of the pool chairs fully clothed. She was talking on her phone and looked up at me as I passed, so I smiled at her. After I grabbed my mail I walked back by her and noticed a few tears and really puffy eyes. It made me think about where I go when I'm sad. Sometimes I just stay by myself, but I often go to a public place where I can be alone. It is often a park or somewhere. I wonder if she was embarrassed that someone came by that late in the evening? She probably thought she could be alone. I wonder if my smile made her feel at least a little better?

  3. One of my good friends, Little Sarah, hasn't talked to me in over a month. Today I called to find her so that we could hang out. Her phone is disconnected! Little Sarah, where did you go? I hope she didn't move back to Maine and leave without saying goodbye.

  4. Seriously, I need to find some frozen custard tonight.

  5. Holy Baseball! Another Grand Slam right when it was needed! The Rangers went into the 8th down by 4 points and came out with a a couple of runs and then a Grand Slam. There is a reason this is the best team playing.


We want to pump you up!

Governor Arnold is not going to put up with these low-testosterome legislators any longer.

"They cannot have the guts to come out there in front of you and say, 'I don't want to represent you. I want to represent those special interests: the unions, the trial lawyers'…. I call them girlie men. They should get back to the table, and they should finish the budget."

That's right! Damn the trial lawyers! Double Damn the unions! It's not manly to believe in protecting the little people. After all didn't Robin Hood wear tights? I think so. You girlie men who are trying to look out for the less fortunate need to go and find your balls.

The article has more memorable quotes.

"I don't know what the definition of 'girlie man' is. As opposed to his being a he-man?" Burton asked. "I can't think of a way to have the he-man and the girlie men join hands around the Capitol and sing 'Kum Ba Ya.'"

Of course, the fun can't end until you make references to your best movie:

"I want each and every one of you to go the polls on Nov. 2," he said Saturday. "That will be judgment day. I want you to go to the polls…. You are the terminators, yes!"

I'm hoping that enough Democrats can be mustered to do some terminating in the election.

An update on the play

Yesterday I emailed the company in Santa Fe to see when they needed the play and how long they wanted it. They told me that they wanted a play that dealt with human sexuality and incorporated a lot of what is going on in the news.

I decided that I'd write a play about a Catholic, young, married couple with two kids. The husband is secretly gay and the wife is secretly pregnant. The children are gone for their anniversary weekend and both decide that it is time to break the news to the other. I haven't decided how it ends, but I don't want the audience to leave feeling like either of these people are good.

The worst part of the email from the company was that they wanted this done in the next week. I've written about 20 pages today. I imagine that it's going to come to around 100 to 130 pages by the time I'm finished. Hopefully they are ready to memorize some lines.

Once I'm happy with what I'm writing I'll post a section of a scene.

Don't buy that Ipod yet...

A new Ipod announcement is coming on Monday according to this story.

July 14, 2004 - Apple will announce new iPod models in August, reliable sources have confirmed to Think Secret. The new models will be smaller, sleeker, and will come in a variety of colors.

The new iPod models will reportedly be more compact and have been described as similar to the iPod mini in design, but will still possess features found only in the existing white-colored model.

Sources report the new models will be available in a variety of new colors, expected to include purple, orange, and yellow, as well as larger hard drive sizes as compared to Apple's current offerings.

Pricing is expected to be similar to the current iPod MSRP.

The new models are expected to become the new 'standard' of the iPod line and will slowly replace over time the existing white iPod models, sources confirmed.

The announcement of the new iPods will reportedly happen sometime in the first three weeks of August. At present, sources say Apple plans to hold a special press event in the U.S. to announce the new models; the event date is being planned so as not to occur too close to Apple Expo in Paris, where the company is expected to introduce new iMac models. The Paris Expo begins August 31.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Carbon Leaf

You found the secret message Erin; I hope that you've had the opportunity to listen to a little of the Carbon Leaf show. If not yet, then I hope you'll get the chance to before long.

The other day I looked at the iTunes store and saw that there was a new release by the band Carbon Leaf. I remembered the name from your blog, so I listened to a few samples of their new album. While I liked what I heard I wasn't entirely sure if I wanted to purchase the album (it was 10 dollars) from iTunes because you don't get linear notes, so I drove to Best Buy. Unfortunately it cost about fourteen dollars at Best Buy. I left the store empty handed.

That evening I ran across a website that lets you download all sorts of live recordings. One of the hundreds of artists (no, they didn't have Jackdaw) was Carbon Leaf. I did a little research and figured out all the programs I would need to change these songs from a weird format used to record live shows (a lossless format -- unlike mp3s) to wav files. After some work I was able to have my own Carbon Leaf show that was recorded on July 17, 2004 in Washington D.C.

Anyhow, sorry for the long winded story. I knew you liked Carbon Leaf. I knew that you also like live music. While it isn't flawless deductive logic, I figured there might be a chance you would like Carbon Leaf live. I know that it's not as fun on cd, but I think that live shows are still fun. I hope you enjoy my Erin friend.

Here is the setlist and whatnot:

Carbon Leaf
9:30 Club
Washington, DC
July 17, 2004

Tapers: John Kelly and Matt DeNardo
Source: DPA 4021s > Metric Halo ULN-2 > JB3
11' ORTF, DFC in SBD Cage (thanks Clif)
Transfer: JB3 > usb > iBook > Spark XL 2.82 > xACT 1.4d8

*** Do not distribute this show in lossy formats ***

Disc 1

01 This Is My Song 04:57.21
02 Torn to Tattered 07:55.23
03 Life Less Ordinary ~ 04:46.68
04 American Tale 07:29.04
05 Dear Prudence ! > 04:31.18
06 On Any Given Day 07:09.37
07 (The Present) 01:37.00
08 Grey Sky Eyes 04:05.29
09 Changeless 05:30.20
10 Sloop John B > Home 06:17.60
11 Banish Misfortune @ > 01:55.23
12 The Boxer 03:54.45

Disc 1 Total: 60:09.48

Disc 2

01 Disc Two Intro 00:40.23
02 Raise the Roof 10:31.17
03 Desperation Song 07:31.21
04 When I'm Alone 06:24.31
05 Gloryland 02:59.25
06 One Prairie Outpost 03:36.44
07 (Yeah, That Sounds Like Barry) 01:19.06
08 What About Everything 05:44.54
09 Bron-Y-Aur Stomp # 07:00.41
10 Let Your Troubles Roll By 07:27.00
11 Paloma 05:58.50
12 (Rock You Like a Hurricane) > 00:55.51
13 Mary Mac 06:18.00
14 The Sea 07:56.63

Disc 2 Total: 74:23.51

Carlos Chafin on keys and accordion
> indicates a segue into the next song
~ piano intro
! The Beatles
@ Traditional
# Led Zeppelin

Go Erin!

72 oz. diet

Starting tomorrow I'm drinking 72 oz. of water beer a day. I'm modifying my diet. No more non-beer drinks. Starting tomorrow I'm drinking 72 oz. of beer a day(a full 6 pack) forever. Anyone want to do this with me?

It's supposed to taste great and with the overall choices on the market today you can do this all year and not have the same beer twice. Lately I have been a little disappointed with the shape of my beer belly It is not protruding out as much as I would like.

Tonight I shall begin my quest with Guinness.

Is global warming such a problem?

Whenever I argue with someone that global warming is a problem they typically argue that the Earth can take care of itself. A recent study shows that half the man made carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans. This seems to show that on some level the Earth does take care of the mess we unnecessarily make.

The downside is that a second study shows that,

the sink effect is now changing ocean chemistry. The resulting change has slowed growth of plankton, corrals, and other invertebrates that serve as the most basic level of the ocean food chain.

This is a real problem for a couple reasons. The scary thing is that the effects of destruction to the marine world are easier to ignore than melting ice caps, creeping temperature increases, and irregular weather patterns.

The second reason this is a real problem is that carbon dioxide is an acidic gas. This means that the natural pH levels are dropping. This could make it more difficult for shelled animals to produce shells. It makes algae less capable of growing. Also the corrals are not able to grow which destroys a part of the ecosystem.

Laziness and Critical analysis or What's wrong with American Thought

Spencer Short has a fascinating criticism of critics. His first target is the boring (in the hi! I want to really shock you kind of way) Dale Peck. I have to admit that I don't mind the way he writes. My problem with Peck is that I find him utterly insepid. Ultimately, I think that is what is wrong with American Criticism right now. There seems to be a laziness that comes across the lines of all criticism.

This is particularly telling in Spencer's disapproving nod towards Stephen Metcalf who reviewed Wilco's A Ghost Is Born in Slate. Instead of actually giving a decent review of the album he creates strawmen. It is intellectual laziness.

As Spencer says,

What do I think of Wilco? Well, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a pretty album, one that I have loaded into my playlist & one that I listened to a great deal on release.

YHF is a great album for a variety of reasons. I think that most important is that when the album was created and released it really did capture the climate of America. It's easy to take albums out of their historical relevance, but I think that album, more than any other, hit my emotions at the time concerning 9/11. From my friends who have heard the album or own it they feel a similar sentiment. Even outside of that historical relevance the albums stands on its own as a collection of songs wondering what tomorrow will bring.

Here's hoping that tomorrow might bring a change in American criticism. It is rare that I find reviews that tell me something new, are relevant, and make me think about the work differently than I already did.

Template Update

While I have updated my template to include post pages I decided that I didn't like the blogger comment system. At least not at this point, so I've figured out how to use the haloscan with both post pages and the regular page.


Jeremy Blachman's firm took them on a summer associate trip to see Elvis Costello. That is a bit strange to begin with, but I'm afraid it gets worse. Jeremy points out that he didn't know who Elvis Costello was before going and that after the concert he ralized why. He says that Costello writes "extraordinarily unmemorable songs" and describes them:

He writes over chords, and simply doesn't have linear melody lines that are hummable and memorable. And, he destroys any chance at remembering the songs by drowning his melodies in a wall of sound, the guitar jangle obscuring anything else, such that each up-tempo song is just non-stop jangle and they all sound the same -- and the slower songs get pretty dull.

Huh? I'm not sure what songs Elvis was singing, but I've never felt that from Costello's music. Think about the memorable tunes from Costello like "Oliver's Army," "Alison," "Tokyo Storm Warning," "New Amsterdam," etc. Costello is one of the finest songwriters America has ever produced. Albums like My Aim Is True defined the direction of alternative music, yet was able to infiltrate the mainstream radio. Costello is known for nothing if not creating melodies that infect the mind of the listener and leave you humming the song later that day.

Perhaps Costello was just singing newer stuff from North that are less like his signature sound. I wouldn't think he would have a concert where he didn't sing at least a few of his hits. I hope that Jeremy at some point can hear some of Costello's music in a more laid back setting. Perhaps he'll see why so many people love Costello.
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