Herry Chrismannukakwanzaakmas

We'll be gone for 2 weeks, so there will be limited blogginess. Enjoy my weakness for a cappella.

Wipe It On Your Robe.

Apparently, Justice Thomas is not happy with his job. Perhaps this is karmic turnabout given that so many think he is not very good at it.

That said, to openly complain about your post in the highest court in the land is disrespectful to that Court. Mr. Thomas, I, and liberals everywhere, understand your pain. We ask that you serve as long as you can possible stand it, say, until January 20, 2009. After that, we'll buy you season tickets to Nascar and that Winnebago you want so you can arrive in style.

[ Yes, that's actually what he wants - an RV. ]
[ Oh, and this will be the first time in a long time the man is notice for something other than being a ASCJ]


Ooh, My Baseless Calorie Estimate is So High!


Anyone who has ever stepped on a piece of gym equipment knows that calorie counts are like guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar. To get an accurate count you'd need a chest strapped heart rate monitor, a realistic insert of your weight, your age, a machine regularly maintained so that tension readings were accurate....and the whopper -- a good sense for how your metabolic rate measured up with that of the average person with your height, weight, sex, and age.

Here's how I measure:
1. How much do I like doing that particular exercise? Hand-bike? Hate it. Not doing it.
2. How disgusting am I when I get off the machine? (Anyone who has played a sport with me knows that I do not sweat. I just degenerate into grades of gross.)
3. Over the course of a week or so, where do I notice I am losing some weight. Usually, I notice if I am growing a tummy or not.)
4. Run. Nothing, except perhaps rowing, is as strenuous.

Mukasey Putting Up a Chinese Wall

WaPo reports that Musakey will be setting up a screen between DOJ and the White House so as to preserve the independence of his own office/prevent a repeat of the AUSA firings scandal.

I think this is a positive step in that politically driven prosecution smells a lot like corruption, and not the passive, vote-for-dollars, kind. Rather, it is the go-out-and-impose- your-will-on-the-legal-system kind.

That said, I am not sure that the Chinese wall is appropriate by DOJ. Unlike watchdog agencies, such as CBO (leg) and GAO (exec), DOJ was not chartered to be independent. It is only the culture of independence that has persisted for decades that provides that shield. A la Cheney, the DOJ sees itself in the executive but, being made up of people who swore when entering the bar to be officers of the court, also part of the judiciary.

Is it inappropriate for the President to go in there and dictate to prosecutors, thus eliminating prosecutorial discretion? Again, nothing in the law as I understand it prevents that. It is just "not how things are done." It is my opinion that they are not done that way because the independence begets a sense of fairness by those involved, contributing to the permanence of the rule of law in this country. But, again, that's just an opinion.

Now, Mr. Mukasey, let's see if you can keep up that wall.

DFW - I'm back.

...and I can confirm that there is nothing to see.


Hats Off to Harvard.

I realize that many of you non-lawyers or non-Bostononians may be unfamiliar with this classic article. I give the Crimson credit for running it and leaving it up in their archives.

As RDBF says, "I give them credit for doing it in public."

Linux....who will win? Results Show.

I lost. There, that saved you 2 hours of watching rehashed clips and manufactured ire. (You want that, you'll need to see Survivor: China. Next season is "Survivor: survivor, where the producers compete to see who can keep the show on the air)

BG: I was trying to install linux on an aging HP laptop (Pavilion N2415, AMD Duron, 256MB, 10Gb)

How I lost: First, I tried to partition space and create a dual boot system. Really hard. Then I gave up and tried a clean install of Ubuntu. Didn't work because Ubuntu installs off a "live CD" -- which it a CD that actually boots a full version of Linux. Once you are running it off the CD you can use it to install the OS to the hard drive. That's great if you have the processor for it and 1Gb of Ram. I did not.

So, I was using a clean install of Fedora. That worked - though it was not much faster than XP. That would have been fine, except for the fact that I needed (a) a wireless card and (b) Citrix.

Wireless: If you have a newer machine and a newer card, someone might have written a Linux driver for you. Celebrate. If not, you need an NDIS wrapper which simulates how Windows treats the card. You install that, and then you install the driver for the wireless card. Yeah. Right. Not happening.

Citrix: I skipped the wireless fight to see if I could get Citrix running to log into my office account. Without this, the whole experiment would be useless. I needed Open Motif installed to use Citrix, so I tried installing it. Again and again and again, using every permutation I could imagine (or find online). Nothing worked. That is, I could install Open Motif, but Citrix would not install because it claimed it could not find it. This is apparently a known issue that others have overcome. I was vanquished.

What I learned: (Licking wounds)

1. Linux is a lot more powerful and user friendly than I remember from earlier versions. I can see installing it really really easily on a desktop. The Live CD is a god-send because you don't need to use the command line to install it.

2. www.ubuntu.com rocks. People love it-count me in. It comes with everything you need.

3. Mandriva (www.mandriva.com) also rocks. It is a Mandrake Linux derivative. It's main selling point is that the company makes a bootable USB version for about $60. It's a 4GB drive with a full install of linux. With this, you can pretty much hijack any machine for your own nefarious purposes.

4. I am happy with robust OS's. I know Windows. I am gaining expertise on a Mac. Of course, you don't need that - Macs just work. Linux? That's staying on the back burner for now.

Monday Morning Roundup

1. Da Pats. Still, weather is the great equalizer. And while everyone talked about the cold and the rain, I think the Ravens showed us the real equalizer: wind. The better teams right now are throwing teams.

2. Giant Losers. Why? See post one - wind. Eli, a spotty passer in my opinion, couldn't contend with the wind.

3. The Dolphins! It's almost disappointing to watch them win. It is not disappointing, however, to see that they still play to win. That is the sign of a true pro. Of course, they had to injure Ray Lewis and Kyle Boller to get there. I am not saying they did it on purpose. I am just saying that the Ravens were a 4-9 team with their best defender and second string QB.

Sail. Boats. Together Again.

European companies are looking to reduce cargo ship power consumption by 30% through the use of sails. Well, kites. Really foils. Just watch the video.


High Priced Lawyers, Screwing Up.

Rusty Hardin, the lawyer for Roger Clemens, lambasted George Mitchell and his report on steroids in Major League Baseball. “He has thrown a skunk into the jury box, and we will never be able to remove that smell,” Hardin said. “There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances, and yet he is being slandered today.”

- WSJ Law Blog.

WSJ got it right when quoting a libel lawyer. Clemens is named in the report, in writing. That's libel. When you defame someone orally, that's slander.

If you want to get technical, both allegedly occured yesterday as the buzz rose to its current caucophany. Pundits, pundits everywhere and not a thought to think.

Legal practice tip:
Slander = Spoken
Libel = library = written word.

And it's sturdy!

First off, that is not a doctored photo. I have to keep looking at it to be convinced. Need proof? The lighting on the rig is correct and the whole thing is too akimbo to be anything other than organic.

Let's Go Digital's editors decided, "Let's go put ourselves in mortal danger!" They tested high end DSLR underwater housings both for the camera's underwater color performance and the case's durability, ease of use, and feel. How? By flying to the Bahamas and tossing a bunch of chum in the water. That's how I stay on my toes when attempting to learn a new $5000 piece of equipment while under water -- attract predators.
They liked the Nikon D80. The Shark thought it crunchy and tough, but it had a pleasant 'eau de yuppy'.


Intentionally racist, or merely an insensitive turn of phrase?

I had the following exchange after making an offer on a $500 tablet pc offered on Craigslist: (I have inverted the convo for ease of reading and I took out my name and email address. No other edits were made. The poster put her email on Craigslist, so I left it in here).

On Dec 13, 2007, at 11:07 AM, #### #### wrote:

Wondering if you'd consider a lowball offer - $300. $500 was far more than I wanted to spend.


On 12/13/07, Salah Salem < salahesalem@gmail.com> wrote:
What do u think
Sent from my iPhone

On Dec 13, 2007, at 2:19 PM, ##### #### wrote:
I think $300 would go a long way to pay for that iPhone.

On 12/13/07, Salah Salem <salahesalem@gmail.com > wrote:
I have an iPhone
Sent from my iPhone

On Dec 13, 2007 3:52 PM, #### ##### wrote:

Your emails all bear a signature reading "Sent from my iPhone." I realize this is not your ideal offer, but I will leave it open nonetheless. If you are willing to go to $300 at some point, let me know.

Thank you,

On 12/13/07, Salah Salem <salahesalem@gmail.com> wrote:
i have someone offering 500. ur offering me 300 for a laptop that still has 80 gb hd drive, 1 gb of ram, microsoft office 2007 and centrino 1.6? office itself is 200, so go do ur research rather then trying to jew offer me.

On 12/13/07, ####### #######:
Salah, Many identical machines are on sale on ebay for the price I offered. If you wished to decline the offer, a simple "no" would have sufficed.

Intentionally racist, or an insensitive turn of phrase?
Am I right in thinking that this is more insensitive/offensive that calling an idea or action "retarded"?

Would you trust this man? Perhaps no.

Which is why that is not the photo I will be using. More on that when it is actually posted to the firm site.

Why didn't I go with this photo? Aside from your snarky comments (and I thank you heartily for them), the reaction I generally got was either, "You look smart," or, "You look smug." I can't risk the latter.


Would you trust this man?

Mortgage "Fix" - Taxes

Praise from this blog to Bush is rare (if not non-existant), but, then again, so is praise from POTUS to Congress. Here, we go, two wrongs copulating to produce a right (it's recessive, take a look around):

Second, Congress needs to temporarily reform the tax code to help homeowners refinance during this time of housing market stress. Under current law, if the value of your house declines and your bank forgives a portion of your mortgage, the tax code treats the amount forgiven as taxable income. When you're worried about making your payments, higher taxes are the last thing you need. The House agrees and recently passed this relief with bipartisan support. Yet the Senate has not responded. This simple reform could help many American homeowners in an hour of need and the Senate should pass it as soon as possible.

Changing the tax code can also help state and local government do their part to help homeowners. Under current law, cities and states can issue tax-exempt bonds to finance new mortgages for first-time home buyers. My administration has proposed allowing cities and states to issue these tax-exempt mortgage bonds for an additional purpose: to refinance existing loans. This temporary measure would make it easier for state housing authorities to help troubled borrowers — and Congress should approve it quickly.

- POTUS, Dec. 6, 2007

The House measure he's referring to is the Mortgage Cancelation Relief Act, H.R. 1876. As it stands, the IRS sees everything as income, so when your lender says, "You know what, the home I financed wasn't worth $400K, it was worth $350K, so I'll lower your mortgage amount (and thus your payment)," the IRS sees this as your having made $50K. Goodbye high mortgage payment, hello crushing additional tax burden. The House fixed that by simply excluding these write-downs from the definition of "income."

This bill is not yet law. The Senate has "read it" and sent it to Committee. I have to imagine they are fast tracking it. This may do more good in 1-2 sentences than the whole of HOPE NOW.



The NYPD has clearly solved the terrorism problem. Next up on the list, samaritanism.

The sting: Leave a bag in a conspicuous place, like a restaurant, and then arrest someone when they see it and make off with it. "But what if the person took it in the hopes of returning it?" Tough Toffee.

Want More? NYPD apparently thought they were wasting their time with this. [I'll wait] .... SO, they inserted a real Credit Card owned by an NYPD pseudonym. Now the unwitting felon has stolen a CC, which in NYC is grand larceny.

First, has New York gotten so safe that the cops have to resort to creating crime?
Second, this is entrapment, no? If you draw someone in to buy drugs, that is not entrapment because they had in their heart the desire to commit the crime. The cops did not create that. Here, the person had no such intent. At most, he or she found an abandoned object. Or worse, they now have to stand up in court and explain away their good samaritanism.

Oh, and NY has a "good samaritan law," but neither it nor any version of it in any other state, extends this far. Those laws protect people who attempt to rescue or assist someone in danger from tort liability if they screw up. They don't ever require someone to proactively return a lost object.

[For those wondering - I am doing doc review and this is jogging my brain]

Pixar Fanboys!

Here is an illustrated list of Pixar in-jokes, from Toy Story through Wall-E, including screen-caps. It is a fan-boy's dream.

I knew about the Birds, and the Old Man, but even I missed over half of these.

A Get Out of Jail Free Card

Are rich CEOs more likely to receive a fine, while those lower down in the corporation receive jail time? The result in the Brocade backdating case feeds into that supposition.

After a quiet stretch, last week was a big one on the backdating front. Stephanie Jensen, a former human resources exec at Brocade was convicted by a jury on backdating-related charges.

And former UnitedHealth CEO William McGuire agreed to forfeit
about $620 million in stock-option gains and retirement pay to settle civil and
federal-government claims related to backdating.

- WSJ Law Blog.

Why? FIrst, let me take a few misconceptions of the table:
  1. Backdating is not a crime. How you account for options backdating is a crime.

    (Primer: An option is an option to purchase a stock in x number of years, usually at today's price. You are betting that the price goes up. For example, Google options issued at $10 a share 10 years ago are today worth over $700. If you have 10,000 of those...call me. Backdating an option happens when you say "I don't like today's stock price - but the price last January was good, so we'll issue the option today, but date it as of last January so you get that price.)

    This practice is shady, and is likely going to be illegal very, very soon. That said, it is not illegal now -- what is illegal is not accounting for it correctly. When you backdate an option as of last January, you have to go back to last January's financials and reflect the issuance of new equity options as of then. This is a BIG pain because you may have to restate your earnings, profits, cash flows, and (here is the kicker) amend your filings with the SEC -- which would let everyone know what you are up to. Companies didn't want to do that.
  2. Backdating is not a crime. People claim that the CEO (the usual recipient of backdated options) is liable because he or she knew it was happening. Sure, but if the practice is not illegal (and the CEO would have been so told by company counsel), who cares? Now if someone told the CEO that it would not be properly accounted for...that's a different story.
  3. This is not O.J. This is not a case where the CEO got a legal dream team and the accounting staff got the shaft. The company obtained counsel for both and paid for it, likely falling back on their director & officer insurer to foot the bill. Thus, the person likely got similar, if not the same, level of representation.

So perhaps this is just a case of intent. The accountant knew backdating options required a restatement and ignored it. The CEO? He or she must return the profits but lacks the intent necessary for criminal liability.


Burj-eoning Bajillionaires Take Note

Need the next "best address" -- try the Burj Dubai. Set where else(?), it's going to be *twice* the height of the empire state building.

Project costs exceed $20B, because in addition the building, they're building a mall, a lake, and 19 other highrise apartment building for this thing to lord over a la Sauran's tower and to act as a "crumple zone" if any of the engineers forgot to carry the one.

Video Here.

Silly - but thought provoking.

seen in a forward:

How Smart is Your Right Foot?
Careful! This is so funny that it may boggle your mind. And if you are
anywhere near as stubborn as we are, you will keep trying at least a few
more times to see if you can outsmart your foot, but you can't.
1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and
make clockwise circles.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right
hand. Your foot will change direction.
I told you so. And, there's nothing you can do about it!

Anyone know why this works? You can clearly move the two appendages independently. Why does rotation change that mix?

Anyone know other such quirks?


How about 'em? What I don't understand is why the Steelers gave up on the "Rover" style defense after one quarter. It was the only thing that helped them collapse the NE pocket and apply pressure on Tom Brady.


Mortgage "Fix" - HOPE NOW?

POTUS introduced the HOPE NOW alliance yesterday -- a voluntary industry alliance that will adopt the administration's request for a freeze on interest rates + a few other minor items. The reaction has been extremely skeptical on both ends. (This is a conservative take).

The Good: There is no government money going to the program. That's consistent with my view from yesterday.

The Bad: This plan does nothing. Now, I want the plan to do nothing, so why am I against this? Because it is a political play to move this problem past the christmas season (and avoid the personal interest stories on every cable network searching out a xmas eve foreclosure) and into the new year. That's it. So what do we do then?

A few more notes:
  • POTUS wants $50M for mortgage counseling. That's silly. Educating those in trouble is too late. How about adding $1.5B for financial education in high school? That would do more to strengthen this economy than most any other short term fix. "Here kid. This is how you balance a check book, this is a stock, this is a bond, and this is how not to fall prey to predatory lending."
  • People are talking about a second "meltdown," namely one related to people's second mortgages or the mortgages of "prime" borrowers (those with good scores) who were sold loans much pricier than they needed. First, the whole idea is really fuzzy -- which is great if you later want to claim you saw it coming, whatever form it takes. Second, this may not be an issue. The second mortgages for subprime borrowers are really part of the first meltdown. If banks are ignoring that as part of the mix right now, they're clearly suffering from monetary glaucoma. Further, the "prime" borrowers can refinance at the soon-to-be shrinking interest rates (or even the current ones, given that theirs is above market), so that's simple enough.


Mortgage "Fix"

I'll openly admit to my liberal leanings, but this mortgage crisis has elicited little empathy from me.

Dear lenders and mortgage backed security purchasers (those who bought the mortgages from the lenders), you are big, sophisticated outfits. To you, I say caveat emptor.

Dear America, you need a crash-course in personal finance. I don't care who told you what on the phone. This is a house. It is worth several times what you make in 1 year. If you don't understand enough about finances to buy it (or enough about your loan to pay it), don't.

That said, there are now reactions from the President and candidates, including Billary. POTUS wants to freeze variable interest rates. Problem is, his plan does nothing. Here's why.
  1. The plan applies only to those current on their mortgage. People who have never missed a payment can likely pay -- they don't need the serious help. (I know, for some it is a stretch -- just not as big as for those who clearly can't make payments).
  2. The plan simply freezes rates. Why are you taking a stab at the banks who lent to people who have demonstrated the ability to pay a variable rate?
  3. The plan does nothing about those who are late on payments and/or facing foreclosure. Any plan that does nothing on this front is simply useless. I don't know what the correct action is, but you can't claim to be fixing the problem if you do nothing to address this end.

Billary's plan is even worse:

  1. She also wants a rate freeze for those current on payments. Again, BFD. This is symbolic and goes against the terms of these people's deals.
  2. She does include rate freezes for some people behind on payments. That's a little better.
  3. But she wants a 90 day freeze on foreclosures. What is the purpose of the 90 days? Is it just to give Congress time to figure out a course of action? If so, fine, but make that clear. If it's supposed to do more...well, what are three months going to do? Give you a Christmas and then kick you out in the dead of winter? Great.

Other plans that have been floated include subsidizing mortgages (this will cost so much it would give you a heart attack), reforming lending practices to force lenders to sell the loan with the best rates (which contradicts the very nature of a capitalist market), and/or expanding the roles of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac (I don't know enough to comment).

You know what will really help? For the banks to clean house on this, take a one-time Machiavellian loss on these mortgages, not by foreclosing (which is insanely expensive given that the resulting housing stocks will stay on the market forever), but by writing down the loans to the actual appraised value of the property today and developing a payment plan with the current owner. Yes, banks, you lose, but you have to admit that you really lost a long time ago when you bought these loans -- it just took a while for everyone to notice.

My 2 cents.

I am back.

Was in NYC - now returned with some notes.

1. Pats. Unreal. To be fair, unreal and very, very lucky. Still, I agree with Peter King of SI -- each of the calls in the last few minutes was correct. I do feel a leetle bad for the Ravens. Here come the Steelers. No. 1 in pass rush, run defense, and points allowed vs. no 1 in all offensive categories. Uh boy.

2. Pod Hotel (www.thepodhotel.com) Neat and relatively cheap. I recommend it if you want to stay in midtown with the euro crowd. That said, it books up really really fast.

3. Rockefeller Plaza in winter. With the xmas decor out, it is a truly magical place. Photos up soon.


Rodney King is Invincible.

Rodney King -- remember, that guy associated with the early 90's tiff in LA? Yeah, well, he's been shot. This was not a targeted shooting (ugh), but appears to be part of a spat. Oh, and it is not fatal.

That could be because he was subject to pelleting at medium range from a shotgun instead of a bullet. Or, it could be because Rodney is super-human.

Think about it. The man was chased, tazed, and beaten severely. Now he's been shot. What next? What will it take to show you that he's the $6M Man?

Son of KITT

Say hello to KITT. That's right, NBC is creating a 2-hour knight rider movie, also thought to be a "back-door pilot." I can't keep up with the euphemisms.

I can't decide if I should be excited for this. If it is lame, there will of course be the comparitive lameness discussion (new or old), and the deeper, philosophical question of whether Knight Rider is lame a priori, which explains the number it did on the 'Hoff years later (even Baywatch didn't help - him, at least - my pubescence thanks you TV gods) or whether it is relatively lame, given that the me who liked the show was 11.


Over 100 readers.

According to Google Analytics, there are nearly 200 unique visitors and over 450 hits to the blog per month. Taking into account those logging in from home + those with changing IP addresses, and adding back in those who are masked behind static group IPs, that should yield about 100 stable readers.

Most are regular readers.

Give yourselves a big hand. I have watched the numbers grow. It is encouraging, and it means I will certainly keep on posting for your enjoyment.

The Small Thinker.

Sign of the Apocalypse.

Yeah, that's a Hello Kitty-tread tire. I assume this is for the still-crazy-about-shiny-plastic-cats-japanese. Up next, Critical Kero-kero-keroppi


Poetic Justice

A poem on the famous TJ Hooper by Stuart Buck:

A very, very learned man
Went by the name of Mr. Hand.
A famous judge, he was the sort
Who redefined the law of tort.

The T.J. Hooper was the case,
Where Hand was called upon to face,
A tug that failed to stay afloat.
It even sank another boat.

A sudden storm had struck. Oh no!
The tugboat had no radio.
If it had heard the storm report,
It might have sailed back into port.

But as it was, the boats were lost.
(An example of a true sunk cost.)

The tug was negligent, said Hand.
It should have made it back to land.
A radio would have saved the day.
The tug owner should have to pay.

Defer to custom? No sirree.
The PL here was more than B.
As any idiot would find,
The industry had lagged behind.

And so the story shows, you see,
The potential liability
Resulting when you do not lug
A radio aboard your tug.

It refers to Judge Hand's famous equation in Tort law: PL > B -- if the Probable Loss is greater than the Burden of preventative action, then the defendant's failure to take the preventative action renders him or her liable.


Two Onion Masterpieces

Every so often, they get it right.

This is the Point in the Blow Job Where I Have to Watch What I Say.
I'll fess up to the irony of choosing this recent favorite, but how could pass up such turns of phrase, "but who wants to fellate a dullard?"

U.S. Military Wasting All of Its Victories on Notre Dame .
There is no doubt someone out there who thinks this is worth it. Perhaps if they beat Duke, there would be more support.

Xgiving Roundup

1. Pats! Holy crap was that a game. Sorry Dan - but at least your Iggles put up more of a fight than any team this year!

2. Thanks! To our friends D&S&K for perhaps the best xgiving meal I have ever had. It had 7 beautiful people, at six pm, with five main dishes, four alcoholic beverages, three appetizers, two separate graces, and a great deal of laughter and (ir)reverance.

3. Skyline Drive - a chance to step back and survey God's country. The majesty of the woods in the late late fall gave way to a bed of leaves as thick as a mattress as we trod through the now-shuttered campgrounds and into the goods to chace down a cascade so clogged with orange and umber that it was hard to tell whether you were seeing more leaves or just their reflection.

You must go.

4. Senses du humor. We spotted a place on the drive home advertising "Antique Tables - made daily."


Children See, Children Do.

Eloquently put. On weekend where families get together, there as many memories built as there are lives torn down by increased family violence.

You read this blog, which means you are a friend or a friend of a friend (of a friend). Nobody I know would ever do this. If they did, they'd at least have the decenecy never to look me in the face again for the shame of it.

And to all of you decent, loving people out there -- hug someone you haven't seen in a while this weekend. It will make them feel good when they remember it a few months from now, too.

Kicking Vets When They Are Down.

Apparently, the US military has begun requesting a refund of the signing bonus offered to those who enlisted to fight in Iraq but were wounded before the end of their required tour of duty.


KDKA in Pittsburg had the report. I don't know how wide-spread this is. It might even be permitted under the enlistment contract.

Still, to push so hard for enlistment, offer so much, ask a soldier to put him/herself in harm's way and then ask for a refund is just that type of despicable that only a beauracracy can achieve.

New motto, "An Army of One, or perhaps 4/5, in which case we'll need 20% back."



Everything is Illumuinated, Jonathan Safran Foer. Wow. Read it. It starts funny and ends powerful.

Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe. Yet another example of how much you can do with words, and another reminder of how little I manage to do with mine.


Perhaps the most peevish pets are the idiosynchratic ones. In the linguistic sense, this refers to situations where some, no-doubt boorish and knuckle-dragging, dictionary editor (it really is suprising that such people would ever get into such a business, but you open up an "American Heritage" and there you have it) decides that two forms of the same word or grammar construct are valid and you feel, um, otherwise.

Take: "Problematical"

Cringe. The word is "problematic." It means, "giving rise or relating to a problem." It has a suffix already - "ic." You want to add "al," and we now have two suffixes, a meta-adjective meaning "giving rise or relating to something problematic, which gives rise or relates to a problem."

Of course, that's an opinion. Why? Because an academic review of "ic" and "ical" adjectives in the English language shows that sometimes the two forms have different meaning, such as "historic" and "historical," and sometimes they don't, as with "symmetric" and "symmetrical." [PDF] The latter is of particular interest because I don't hesitate to use "symmetrical" to indicate that something is symmetric, um, al. That just sounds right.

Still, Problematical? Feh.



From Jinks of We.

A marriage of "faux" and "emo," to describe (I assume recursively) the process of genuinely wanting to imitate emo creativity in order to approach real emo, which hopes to approach genuine emotion, and so on.

Great word. Describes all music since. . . oh lord. Too long now.

Great Gifs!

It's hard to find a great animated gif nowadays, what with all the kids and their fancy Flash movies. It's called "Man vs. Mouse"


I see the "Juris", now where did I put my "prudence"?

This is an actual response we got from a judge in a multi-million dollar case:

ENDORSED LETTER addressed to Judge ##### ###### from #### #### dated ##/##/2007 re: Counsel for defendant request that the Court approve a 10 page limit for each of reply brief.

ENDORSEMENT: This may be the most ridiculous letter I have ever received. My rules say 10 pages. If you comply with my rules, you will be fine. (Signed by Judge ### ## ##### on ##/##/2007) (###)

Yeah, and this was just a one page letter. Imagine a hearing.

Once again, this is not an internet forward. It actually happened.



"Your welcome."

What about my welcome? Are you passively/aggressively communicating that I have left it behind and should seek to retrieve it as it is becoming something of an annoyance, like an email from a roommate saying simply, "Your shoes." ? [Yeah, I have no idea to punctuate that correctly.]

Want more? Read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, by Lynne Truss.

In other news: "Peeve" means a vexation or grievance. The term is nearly 100 years old (relatively recent) and comes from a back-formation of the term "peevish," which is to be ornery.


Linux....who will win?

Here is a tech post for the non-tech set.

We are considering becoming a 3 OS family.

We have a mac mini running both OS X and XP through Mac's boot camp software. We have an XP media computer that acts like a TiVo (Shameless plug for BeyondTV -- it is awesome). And we have an XP laptop.

The laptop is aging and I would like to improve the speed....so the natural direction to go is Linux. For those who don't know, Linux is now easier to use than XP. The only tough part is installing it and, if you have a computer from the past 2-3 years, even that is a cinch.

Ubuntu Linux is the easiest to install. It uses a LiveCD, which actually contains the whole OS on CD. It boots into Linux so you can see what it will look like and play with it. Then, if you like it, you can install it from the same CD. It didn't work on our old laptop because there wasn't enough RAM, so the CD had to keep loading and unloading data -- s-l-o-w.

Next stop: a DVD installer that does not load the OS. I'll let you know how it goes.


Jews to Caricature Self.

JewishLiving (http://www.jewishlivingmag.com/) is not a joke. Well, that's not exactly true. They don't mean it as a joke -- there, that's more accurate. First, how does a major market Jewish magazine hit without any advertising in one of the nations largest Jewish communities (DC/MD)? Second, how in the name of all that is holy do you plan to be taken seriously with major content sections named "Kibbitz, Kvell, and Kvetch" (Again, I wish I were kidding.) Third, what self-respecting Jew would be caught dead reading something that so badly stereotypes Jews?

"Sidebar: How to Deal with your Hooknose. Four mothers discuss the trials and tribulations of going 'Streisand' or going under the knife."

"Special Report: Shvartses. Friends in the fight for civil rights or foes in the fight for urban gentrification?"

"10 ways to avoid discussing serious issues in your family while making outsiders uncomfortable in your presence."

"Fran Drescher: Hear her speak out about a lifelong struggle with being a walking stereotype [EDIT: Removed 'mistaken for a Jew' - JL points out that I am mistaken. Ms. Drescher was born to Ashkenazim Sylvia & Morty Drescher in flushing queens. Ech]."


Touch of Class

Poignant and well - designed. Good to know someone is still doing it.

Let's Plug Some of the Divets

First, what the Colts did last night against the Chargers (21-23, Bolts) wasn't nearly amazing, it was amazing. The Colts entire offensive line was out of the game. Peyton's two best receivers were gone, leaving the Chargers to gang up on Wayne. The Colts running game has seen injuries and so has the defense. That left Peyton huddling with his team between plays just so everyone knew where to stand. And still, the Colts almost won -- that's how good they are. You'll ask, "What happened to Adam Vinaterri, Mr. Automatic?" I just don't know.

Second, the Pack isn't getting enough credit. The powerhouses everyone points to are NE, Indy, and Dallas. Well, now the Pack, on a decent schedule, have put up a better record than Indy and their defense is on the up and up. I see a superbowl team. Am I the only one?


Can we just admit the Second Am. is hopelessly vague?

For you non-lawyer/non-DC-ites: The DC gun law, a very restrictive one, was recently struck down by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision was appealed to SCOTUS. It is not clear whether the Court will take up the question. Nonetheless, it has lead to a reopening to this stickiest of Const. interpretation questions.

Here is the text of the Second Amendment:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the
right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Legal Times asks the right question: What the heck do you make of all those commas?

My answer: Because there is no sensible way to read the sentence, you can read them any (and it) any way you like. Which means that the gun debate will rage forever.

Here are three possible readings:

Pro-gun: The first clause is 'precatory' - i.e. throat clearing - so that the substance of the sentence is "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." What do we do with that comma? Oh, in the 18C, those commas were not grammatical indicators, but merely indications of a pause. So you mean ignore it? Ok.

Anti-gun: The first clause is the context for the main clause. "“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” Ok, but you got rid of 2 commas. Yup. They're, um, pauses.

Strict: Strictly speaking the comma pairs indicate subjunctive clauses, grammatical asides, so that the body of the sentence reads: “A well regulated Militia shall not be infringed."

Strict, assuming the secondary clauses are explanatory: The text set off by a comma, like this, can be explanatory. If so, the sentence can read, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State (explanation of purpose), the right of the people to keep and bear Arms (explanation of what a militia is), shall not be infringed.” I am happiest with this reading because it follows the statutory interpretation canon which states that every word and comma in a statute has meaning.

The problem is, it leaves the question completely open: If a militia = the right to keep and bear arms, do we have that right absent the need for such a militia?

Rage, rage against the dying of the argument.



Clearly, at least one of the 6B of us has thought something through all the way to the end. In that spirit, here is Monopoly by the numbers, strategy included.

(Monomania is any fixation on one thing, seriously.)

The News in Pidgen

For those who like gossip, realtor to the stars and former rocker Linda Evans was bludgeoned to death. The assailant appears to be her admin, who killed her because she "would not stop yelling at [her]." As someone who has had a few of these bosses, I am sympathetic to those who simply refuse to take the degradation day after day.

But, that's not why I am writing. No, no. I am writing because the news appears here at the-gossip.net. Start reading...then keep reading, and tell me it doesn't remind you of Everything is Illuminated by Safran Foer.


Gambler Arrested for Aggravated Gambling.

Police in TN apparently needed a tip that a professional gambler might be gambling. Of course, the perp couldn't be much faster than they were, at 82 -- the oldest WSOP winner ever.

The charges: "Aggravated Gambling Promotion."

I get "Aggravated Assault." It brings to mind a particular viciousness. And don't tell me that "aggravated" modifies the description of the crime rather than the act itself. If so, there would be aggravated jay walking and aggravated use of a controlled substance, none of which I have ever heard of. So what is Aggravated Gambling Promotion, other than a really zealous geezer handing out pamphlets on the sly?

Turns out the difference is moolah. If you promote by encouraging others, that is simply promotion. If you make pamphlets, organize, or supervise, that is "aggravated" promotion.

Who knew?


LMAO - And He Can Help

Looking for a colorectal surgeon in VA? Try Dr. Inder Baht. Seriously. Hey! Stop laughing...I'm serious. He has ... oh, never mind.

Nothing Lake a Goad Pare of Ayes.

Reuters reported on Pakistan's "Muttonhead Quail Movement." Unfortunately, there is no such thing. There is, however, a "Muttahida Quami Movement" that features prominently in that country's politics.

Reuters reaction: "[P]ossibly the most unfortunate spell-check blunder I've ever seen."

[ language log ]


Things You Already Knew Because You Are Smarter Than Me

"Catspaw" is someone who serves as a tool for another. That most students, even at UCLA law, would not know this word struck Prof. Volokh as odd.

The best resulting comment:
News Flash: Member of academe does not share common social frame of
reference with most of the public. In other news: rain is wet and drinking too
much alcohol can make you inebriated.

Colb-gate Part Sis

The SC Dem Candidate Board rejected Colbert because it felt that he was not a "serious" candidate. I think it is probably fair to say that he was not a serious Democratic candidate, given that has has stated no positions relevant to the party. But is he not a "serious" candidate?

What is "serious" in this context? Is it the ability to garner votes, or the presence of a platform? Certainly the former is the only thing that counts at the end of the day. The latter, however, is the kind of thing that commonsense indicates should matter to folks like the FCC and FEC. Wierd, that...

For more tongue twisting analysis, see Bob Bauer.

A few sports nods.

1. A friend mentioned to me that I did not recount the WS07 win here. Done. The boys are amazing -- I guess it really is impossible to top the feeling in 04. That said, Lester and Pappelbon have stories for the rest of their lives. Manny? Say what you will, he has the right attitude for sport and for the tension of the post-season.

2. Pat-Colts! P-a-t-s! Pats! Pats! Pats! (Hey, the Jets have nothing to cheer about). This game came down to 1 mistake by Peyton. That, and we need to have a serious review of NFL officiating. The Pats should have had an abominable 80+ yds in penalties, but the other 100 yds were simply bad calls. One last thing: a shout out to Duckett (I think), for the most incredible catch I have ever seen by a defensive player. The harlem globetrotters would be proud. [No, I am not going to talk about 16-0]

3. Chad Johnson. He took 2 of the most sensational hits I have ever seen. He was carted off on a back board. The CT scans are fine and he flew home with the team. As a testament to his reputation as a baller, BOTH benches cleared to see him off the field. Say what you like, this is what sport is about.

4. A top marathoner died yesterday near the start of the NY Marathon / USOly trials. A lot of people think he pushed too hard...but this was mile 5. Can we accept that sometimes your body just gives up?

5. Jimmi Johnson is the current Nextel Cup chase leader with his third consecutive win. In the cup chase. With all the risk involved in staying near the front of the pack. Of course, number 2 is occupied by his teammate "Gordo." Gentlemen, enjoy your paychecks and don't wreck each other.


A Pox on IT.

Now for the rare rant.

It is, for the record, after 12:00pm EST. That means that for nearly half a day I have been without the use of my computer. Scratch that, I wasted the first two hours with crash after crash, so I have been bludgeoned by my computer for two and mounted a counter-attack for the other two.

So I called IT. Not because I can't fix this, mind you, or because I can't find a workaround the admin privleges to run the necessary system scans, but out of respect for the organizational protocol.

What does IT do? It installs Symantec virus blocker and Google pack. Google pack! Hats off to Google for making something IT can trust (and really this is credit to SpyBot Search & Destroy -- a free anti-malware tool), but still. "For this I need IT?" said my glare at the red "speakerphone" button. If I didn't have so much billable paperwork right now, I'd be genuinely peeved.

Two conclusions:

1. The crash likely resulted in increased productivity. A diet coke and a donut do not a productive man make, especially when reading deposition trascripts. The lack of world wide distract-cess is ultimately a good thing.

2. In reality, about 20% of this company would have understood what to do to fix the machine in this case. This is a huge increase, but not so huge as to render IT obsolete. What will IT look like 20 years from now, when the web/desktop/laptop/peripheral savvy generation is the heart of the work force? Will it be much smaller, having less to offer the average person? Nay. I have to imagine it will instead be bigger. Why? Because users are not geeks. They are users. They don't care about the integrity of the system, but about their facebook pages, upload assistant programs, iTunes, etc. etc. etc. In the future, there will be more of this both in and out of the office. I imagine that IT will need more staff to help lock down desktops and protect the network both from within and without. Sad really.


And you thought the RIAA had a novel idea...

No DRM on a vinyl sir. Let's be clear -- you listen to this and the communism will seep into your brain through your ears and take over your head. The scientific effect known as the "domino theory" will then cause it to invade your whole body.


Things You Already Knew Because You Are Smarter Than Me

Something which is "Beyond the Pale" is beyond the limit of reasonableness. Turns out, this turn of phrase is literally synonymous with "Going off the reservation."

The Pale was the limit of English land in Medieval Ireland. The lands were surrounded by pales, pickets, with a fence strung across them. To go beyond those pickets was to enter the wild Irish lands.

Red Bull Gibn Du Fliglen!

The Times (U.K., not NY) reports that ultra-orthodox jews are seeking salvation in a little Red Bull. A choice quote:

There are three things going on here. They make a lot of babies, they study the Torah and they dance. They need a lot of energy, and something to strengthen them.

There is talk in the innermost circles of U-OJ of a perfect can of Red Bull, without blemish, scratch, or dilution, which, when finally found, will be shared amongst the high priests and herald the coming of the end of days. Luckily, all will be awake to see it.

[ Thanks to RK for the link ]

My Favorite.

See many more amazing pumpkins here. Ok, one more:


Hobby Whores.

I just heard about www.seekingarrangement.com. Imagine facebook, but with "ambitious singles" (read: toddling sycophants) as the members and "Sugar Daddies/Mommies" (their term, not mine) as the roving, inevitable pedophiles.

They claim this is a "brutally honest" dating site. I'll step back from my tone for a second to simply ask: is the mere fact that you had dinner before you retired to his hotel room sufficient to render him a "date" instead of a "john"? I mean, at what point are you simply a prostitute on retainer?

Of course, as the site advertises, if you are looking for "real love," you should head over to www.seekingmillionaire.com . True, if what you are in love with is that seventh figure. "Bruce, I want to move in with you! Let's run away to house so large we never have to see each other! Let's make an 8th figure! Mama needs a new pair of jets!"

Geeking out for a moment.

If you will permit me, I would like to geek out for a moment. Geek Technique has modded an iPhone that is so hot, I actually think Apple should consider making a limited edition like it. That's right, it's an iNewton.

For those who don't recall the Newton, it was a full script handwriting-recognizing PDA from the early 90's. It worked really well and ran pretty quickly. I suppose the two major problems were that it was a bit clunky and that it was about 20 years ahead of its time.

It's like the Atari Lynx. Early 80's game system that came out at the same time as the Game Boy (perhaps even before). What made it different? Let's see...it had the landscape format all modern PGD's have, it was COLOR, you could flip the screen for left handed use, and the game cartridges were cards resembling those used in the 90's TurboGrafix 16 and Express as opposed to the clunky plastic blocks you stuck into Game Boy and Game Gear.


Good help is hard to find

Care to guess what they ordered?

What kind of blogger are you?

width="300" height="180" alt="What Kind of Blogger Are You?" border="0" >

4000 Channels, $4

The FCC announced today that it will be rendering illegal any contracts between cable providers and apartment buildings. The positive: There has long been a spotty monopoly, or oligopoly, or whatever you want to call it, in urban cable. You live in a multi-unit building, a provider runs the cable in that building, and voila! You have only one choice in cable.

"Incredible cosmic programming, in a itty-bitty-little competition space" -- to coin a phrase.

The FCC wants to end that and make the cables inside the building available to all. Questions:

1. Is this even possible? I don't believe that the same cable can carry more than one set of channels (i.e. RCN or Comcast or Roadrunner, but not all 3). Does this mean that the exclusivity agreement goes, but the new company still has to run cable? Will they?

2. This is meant to increase competition and lower rates. If companies have to run new cable, will they do so and lower their rates at the same time?

3. Aren't we quibbling over the past? FIOS (Fiber optic cable) is the new hotness. Cable is old. Perhaps the provision is not meant to repair cable, but to prevent the same abuse with FOIS? !?!?!?! One can only guess.


I Welcome Our Cute Ironic Overlords

Introducing "Pleo" from Ugobe Labs. Tickle me Elmo extreme move over. THIS is the must have, can't afford, drool-inducing toy this xmas.

Why? Because it's sensors (touch, object recognition, variable sound, etc.) + adaptable programming make it a virtual puppy without the poopy. The thing is adorable.

Check out the videos.


Colb-gate Part Cinque

Politico confirms that Comedy Central did it's electoral due-diligence before fielding faux-candidate Colbert. They went to the DC firm for Wiley Rein to get an opinion on the FEC, the FCC, and the ersatz O'Reilly.

Of course, providing legal opinions has proved to be a hazardous past-time.



SI has a recap of what it is like to broadcast an NCAAFB game from inside the production truck. What is most compelling is that this is not the most complicated setup (smaller than the NFL, 1/2 the cameras of the world series, etc.). Still, it sounds like trying to run a relay race in traffic while beating your children.


http://view.break.com/280271 - Watch more free videos

This is just one of those videos that makes you smile wider and wider as it goes on.

Two down.

...and it was much, much closer.

Sir, You Are Going to Have to Stop Using Your Name.

Sam Adams asked Sam Adams to stop using its name, which is his name, which they have the trademark to. Right.

In English: the Portland City Comm'r set up an election site called "samadamsformayor.com." The legal eagles at the NE brewing haven saw this an incursion into their territory, having previously fielded a samadamsforpresident.com as part of a marketing campaign. So the beer sent the man a cease-and-desist letter.

1. "Sam Adams", though merely a name, is protectible if it has acquired a brand identity separate from the name. (i.e. Hyatt, McDonalds). In the lingo, this is called "secondary meaning".

2. Mr. Adams's defense? I have been using it longer than you have. The brewer got the patent in 1973. The man, since the 60's. So-called "prior use" is a defense in trademark law, but it is limited by geography. That means that Mr. Adams can use his name legally in Portland. If he moves or goes national, that would change the equation significantly.

3. There is a first amendment political speech issue here that has not been raised.

4. Sam Adams was cool about it -- they admitted they didn't realize this was a person. They claimed others had tried to knock off the marketing campaign and that this was an effort to avoid a recurrence. Sam Adams -- say cool and avoid all the negative press.


Colb-gate Part Quatre

No, I don't speak French, and I didn't bother looking up that spelling. I'll make it up to you: here is the fourth installment of the legal analysis plodding along behind the Colbert campaign.

1. "Scofflaw" is an awsome word (see the linked article).
2. My Facebook-powered chums inform me that somone created a "million for Colbert" group on that service and filled it in 10 days. Hill' and 'Bama have had groups for months and top out in the low 6-digits (thanks AB).
3. MSNBC engaged in a media circle jerk when it reviewed Colbert on Meet the Press (no doubt he will review their review of him and Elton John will write the theme song). The only interesting tidbit: Colbert is polling around 2.5%, higher than Kucinich and near Biden.

Oh, Me So Thorny - The Issue of Attorney-Client Sexual Relations

This is a good blog day. Lots to write about, and I get to reuse the actual title to the final paper in my Ethics and Lawyering in the 21C. I have to admit that the class was severly limited in scope, covering only the first few years of that century.

The cause for this entry: The Wisconsin Supreme Court, (via Volokh Conspiracy), who debated this question during a recent ethics hearing: If a lawyer has sex with a client's girlfriend while the client is having sex with her, is the lawyer having sex with the client as defined under the Rule?

The Court eventually declined to apply the transitive property of being a total jerk, but not in the way any normal person would think.

I read the rule: "Don't have sex with your clients, unless (and you have to love this), you had sex prior to that person becoming your client." That is the rule in most states.

The judges got as far as to mull the temporo-spatial limits of the word "with." If we are both having sex "with a person" over time, say through the month of August, we are both in a constant state of having sex "with" that person and, occupying that same state with the same person, we occupy it together and are therefore having sex with each other. The court missed the erroneous presumption: Who says that one cannot be in two mutually exclusive states of "having sex with" a person?

But it didn't reject the logic of the argument. Rather, it decided that the rule says "a person" once, but says "the person" or "the client" more often, so it must be directed at the one person - the client.

Did we need all that?


One down. Three to go. Let's see if we can get there.

Senior Moment

http://view.break.com/387011 - Watch more free videos

I had a "senior moment" this morning -- perhaps the first of many. I forgot where I parked the car. I knew it was in a Thursday spot. I knew I had moved it. I just didn't know where to. Picture me criss-crossing the various blocks in my neighborhood on this rainy morning, half searching, half wondering if I have lost my mind, my car, or both.

Still, nothing compared to this guy.


Colb-gate Part Troi

Slate's "explainer" has also taken up the question of whether Colbert's bid for the WH could violate election laws. With the help of real election lawyers, he identifies something beyond the "equal time rule" (though he reaches the same conclusion - thank you very much): "in kind campaign contributions."

A corporation, in this case Viacom, which owns CC and, thus, the Colbert Report, would be giving him the in kind contribution of air time, far in excess of the legal limit.

Consequence? The Explainer says he can run until someone files a complaint. My lawyerlicious instincts tell me that's too late. The complaint does not create the violation. It merely brings it to the attention of the FEC. The violation occurred before and could see Viacom incurring a stiff penalty. All the more reason for my theory that Viacom's lawyers have long since contacted even real-er election law experts to scope out the risks of this project.

[ thanks to RSC for cutest little link in the whole world. ]


_________ without _________

I filed a pro-bono Motion for Guardianship in court today. That's happens several times a never, so I got a little excited waiting for a beaurocrat to stamp my forms.

By the end of this year, I will be a lawyer without courtroom experience and a minister without a flock. It's like being a driver without a car, a detective without a mystery, a quip without a zinger.

I tell ya. It's not easy being a landed white jewish educated male in an upper-class first world metropolis.

Cato Kern'lin

CATO blasts the notion of Ethanol as our energy panacea. [PDF] Better yet, they aren't doing it with policy, but with raw numbers. The amount of corn we can produce doesn't reach the level we require to adequately replace oil. 3/4 of every liter of the stuff has to be used just to create it, and corn supply, it turns out, is more volatile than oil. Why? Because draught, pests, and the need for corn to fight hunger worldwide affect corn a lot more than a cartel affects oil. You can't negotiate with a blizzard.

Any chance we can stop this insanity? Hey you! Over there in Iowa! Turn in your subsidy and retrain!


Govna Puts Up Mezuzah, ACLU Puts Up Fight

Fox News reports that methodist FL governor Crist [edit - AC ] put up a mezuzah he received from a state representative. The ACLU is suing claiming that it has legal implications in the separation between church and state.

I disagree with the ACLU on this one. First, these are not 10 Commandments in a courtroom. The sheer size of the mezuzah precludes its inclusion as a public icon of religion. Second, it is not clear how the separation of church and state applies to the FL state house [edit - AC], particularly in light of the frequent invocation of the divine to swear people in and hold ceremonies. Third, what does the FL constitution say? Fourth, there is the esoteric question of what to do when a religious symbol is not posted as such. This man is not a Jew. He is not posting this mezuzah as a religious act. Is this somehow an intrinsically religious act?

Finally, this is an odd case. This is a big issue for the ACLU, but not for the representative. As a matter of personal faith, it does not matter to him. If it offended his faith, presumably, he would not have had a problem turning down the gift, so you'd imagine that if public opinion sided with the ACLU, he would cede the issue. The more interesting question is: what about Jewish governors?. If there is a biblical requirement to put this up and the House or some other body prevents you from doing it, you have a 1st Am. vs. implied 1st Am. problem. You have a right to exercise religion. That should beat an implied separation of church and state.

More: http://www.topix.com/content/trb/2007/09/crist-to-celebrate-rosh-hashana-with-broward-democrat

[ Thanks to JR for the link ]

A+D Tied the Knot!

A big DC shout out to two of the most generous, beautiful people in any of the 4 quadrants. Enjoy the lesser hemisphere, you crazy cats!

Awe. Some.

Ahem.... Yeeeeeeaarrrrrrrghhhhhhhhh!
Hoo - Hoo - Hoo - Hoo!!!!!
Na na na na, Na na na naaaaa!
Hey hey hey
(dance time!)
Boo da doo ba do da dumm dum deedie!
Boo da doo ba do da dumm dum deedie!
Boo da doo ba do da dumm dum deedie, DA!
What's that? The Rockies? Ahem....right. Back to work.
In other news: Brady outscores Celtics against Miami.


They're Not Even Trying Any More

I was out with JL yesterday for lunch. She opens her fortune cookie and gets:
The weather is wonderful.

This is the fortune equivalent of "Just lay back and think of England." [learn about the phrase here] For a long time now, our fortunes have suffered. What used to say, "Glate things are on the holizon," has more recently said, "Others think you are wise." Thanks, but a fortune is intended to be forward looking. Divining the present? Thoroughly unimpressive.

Why the drop in quality? Does this signal a death of the intrepid far east spirit? Has assimilation finally dulled the asian edge? Is my voice rising to a fevered pitch in your head yet?

Fine. This is a stupid problem. Of course, you could always go for dark fortunes.

[Thanks to http://www.jinksofwe.blogspot.com/ for the reminder. ]


Things You Already Knew Because You Are Smarter Than Me

The plural of "genus" is "genera." I cannot think of another work that takes this plural suffix in English. I looked up the suffix, and the most I can come up with is that it is perfectly valid if you happen to be speaking MA'a/Mbugu. [ See here ]

But you already knew that.

Colbert announced!

Well, Colbert announced, so the legal questions are now before us:
  1. When does the equal time rule kick in? Is it when you announce, or the first time you are formally listed in a state primary?
  2. Clearly, cable is not affected by the equal time rules, yet. Could this realistically prompt the FCC to reconsider?
  3. Per the Caucus Blog, Colbert seeks 3000 signatures for a run in SC, and would then need the approval of the state democratic election commitee (insert correct acronym here). Would they have a good reason to turn him down?
  4. What if Colbert actually wins the SC primary? What would that mean for the SC delegation at the DNC? Could Colbert actually affect the real Dem. candidate if the final primary race is close?

First, if I had to guess, Colbert would solve the equal time rule by offering all of the candidates the right to come on his show every night to debate. Having offered it, he could argue that he has met the requirement.

Second, I assume that any serious political effect of this run would give Colbert pause and he'd find a way to back out.

Third, I am increasingly of the opinion that Colbert is to the 00's what Stern was to the 90's. He is breaking out of the traditional role of television host and intruding into the real world. Yes, the Daily Show has been on the campaign trail for years. That is satire, to actually run, that is novel. Consider it "high satire."


Colbert and the Equal Time Rule

Steven Colbert, much blogged-about here today, is toying with an announcement for president. Now, even if he is kidding, if the joke goes so far as to have him actually sign up as a candidate, it could cause him some serious legal headaches (something which cannot be lost on what is no doubt an over-worked Comedy Central legal team).

The problem: The Equal Time Rule, which requires that a station provide candidates equal free time to express their views. Two points:
  1. The rule does not apply to cable television, which is why NBC had to yank Law & Orders containing Fred Thompson, but TNT did not. Why an appearance on a cop show as a fake DA is political speech is beyond me. It appears that the rule is really meant to read "exposure." On the other hand, FX and SciFi both pulled Ah-nold flicks from the air when that man ran in California. The precedent is there -- I don't know if anyone wants to prompt the FCC to finally enter the fray and regulate cable content (though from a policy front, cable and networks are seeing more parity in viewership, so why not regulation too?)
  2. There is an exception for a "bona fide newscast." Does he dare argue it? For example, the closely-related Daily Show is "fake" but has shown to be the most prevalent source for actual news for younger males. Isn't that bona fide?

Move over Maureen!

Maureen Dowd took offense to a Colbert rant (dumba$$) about the NYTimes and challenged him to come down and bang out a column if he thought it was so easy. So he did. And guess what Maureen? He's twice the writer you ever were. Seriously, how does a washed-up socialite with an overactive lexicon copied from dog-eared prints of the New Yorker continue getting work?

Some choice Colbertian tidbits:

I’d like to thank Maureen Dowd for permitting/begging me to write her column
today. As I type this, she’s watching from an overstuffed divan, petting her
prize Abyssinian and sipping a Dirty Cosmotinijito. Which reminds me: Before I
get started, I have to take care of one other bit of business:

Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn’t have to think about. It’s all George Bush’s fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

There. Now I’ve written Frank Rich’s column too.



1. To all who have commented more than usual recently, thank you.
2. Keep 'em coming! I read them all and will respond publicly once we hit a critical mass on certain posts.
3. "You like me! You really, really like me!"


The english theatrical trailer is here.

Yes, I am a total budding fanboy. I can live with that.



Wind Turbine, Minus the Turbine.

Turns out that a violin bow could be the key to efficient wind power. See it in operation here at Popular Science.

Lawyer to Represent Fetus. Payment contingent on term.

A lawyer will appear before a CA court representing a fetus on Tuesday. There are about a million problems with this legally, so for poops and palpitations, let's look at some of them:

  1. Who hired the guy? A parent can obtain legal representation for a child, but that person must be then shielded from the legal decision-making. I'd love to see the ethics panel take this up.
  2. He's suing claiming that fetus is a person and has standing to fight abortion in court. Consider this: if he wins, that means that lawyers all over the country can claim fetus of mothers slated to have abortions as their clients. Then, they can haul mom into court and attempt to force her to have the baby. Before you argue that mom can decide for her children, note that if she wants an abortion, that would be murder of the child. That pits her against the child and renders her an unfit parent.
  3. On the other hand, hijaking a woman's womb could be a form of slavery. I only bring this up because the lawyer is actually making this argument on the other side -- that mothers enslave fetuses when they choose abortion, violating the Thirteenth Amendment. If fetuses are enslaved, shouldn't all mothers abort them as soon as possible so as to free them?
  4. How does this man know what the best interests of the fetus really are? Even a guardian ad litem (lawyer for kids in a divorce or similar proceeding) has to attempt to discern their wishes. I don't know that we can assume every fetus would want to be born.
  5. If the fetus is born and ends up being of an opposite socio-political persuasion, does it have a cause of action against the lawyer for being used in this manner?

And you thought this man was just a kook.


Great Moments in Sports Writing

From S.I.'s Extra Mustard:

St. Louis at Baltimore (-9.5): There's an ancient philosophical question that asks what will happen when an offense that can't move the ball plays a defense that can't stop anybody. This game should provide the answer. Pick: St. Louis


The Sox gave up seven runs in the 11th to lose game 2 of the ALCS to the Indians at home. Now on to Cleveland for the next three. Hrm. I guess the Pats will make me feel better.


hargh! HArgh HARGH!

Do I hear $0, $0 .... going once...

That's right. GSA awarded a contract for the FFATA.org database (transportation database) to the lowest bidder. The bid? $0.
Way to lower the bar and make life difficult for the rest of the contractors buck-o! On the other hand, I hope GSA doesn't get just what they paid for. Oh! Oh! and can you imagine if this ends up costing $10? The percentage cost overrun will be literally incalculable!


Strike Fear into the Hearts of Men

...directly into the vena cava.

You gotta admit it's impressive.


Martin Ginsburg at Fried Frank.

You just have to read it. Clearly, the man is brilliant, though it is likely his wife has the edge in that relationship. He describes her as having "a good job in washington." Yeah, so does Dubya.

New Word Order: "Diavlog"

- A dialog by video blog. It looks like talking heads (pundits, not punks) but in blog form. Really a brilliant but simple variation on existing technologies.

See an example here (particularly those of you who wonder what Dahlia Lithwick is like).

Twofer: the technology includes something called a "dingalink", which permits the user to create a link to a particular time in the video. Awesome.

Threefer: disagree with your counterpart? You are at "bloggerheads."


All Sanctity Must Go!

Beelzebub is apparently trading at a discount according to translations of some of the oldest known paper (circa 0 c.e.). Long thought to be worth 666 diabolical units, the dark lord may only be worth 616.

The economic effects of this could be massive, with tattoo artists, t-shirt printers, and revisionist historicizers set to make a killing (flaying, burning, and damnation extra).


Great Moments in Duh.

Apple introduced this for power plugs, like, five years ago. It's amazing that it took this long to do the same for audio plugs...then again, neither you nor I thought of it.

Meet "Replug."

Capital Cry-me

I am not in favor of capital punishment -- kill someone, and I am happy to keep you in a little box forever. THIS on the other hand, is a different story. This is why the Second Amendment is so liberally construed. Nothing a little "made in America" couldn't drop in two clicks.



The White House Press Collander released Bush's U.N. speech with the Co-MAN-dur in Cheef's fo-NEH-tic spellings still inside. Some tidbits:

• Kyrgyzstan [KEYR-geez-stan]
• Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a]
• Harare [hah-RAR-ray]
• Mugabe [moo-GAH-bee]
• Sarkozy [sar-KO-zee]
• Caracas [kah-RAH-kus]

How about "With-DRALL"?

Oh really? No, O'Reilly

O'Reilly has shot off his mouth again, ironically, this time about not having it shot off for him:

O'Reilly reported that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." O'Reilly added: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' "

See more at Media Matters



Genius is taking an instrument that has been around several hundred years, and playing it like you've never heard it played before. Oh . . . my . . .god.

Newsflash - Tittering Heard at Clinic

Scientists are studying friends with benefits. We are officially about 2 studies away from a statistical analysis of your chances of reaching second base at a frat party, sorted for year in school, age difference, and drink choice.

Guess what? The study finds that this rarely leads to romance, sometimes leads to an end of the friendship, and otherwise tends to peter out -- if you'll forgive the pun. Our instincts were correct. The real question is, if our instincts were wrong, so what?


Not "death." Say instead, "separation from life." Who says lawyers don't have a sense of humor?


I am an unabashed Pixar nut. Big enough to link to an advanced trailer, in french no less (the English version launches today. With the forgettable sunset of cars, the not-quite-great, but very satisfying Ratatouille, Pixar is set for another stunner, and Wall-E appears to be it.

Wall-E. Half E.T., half Jonnie 5 (read: Short Circuit). This movie will have no dialog. Now THAT I wanna see.


Don't Use Your Cellie While Driving

Or this could happen. This is either a very well staged guerilla marketing campaign, or a very strudy convention-floor prop gone awry.

I am back.

For those wondering....Athens, London, and Pittsburg are all still there. I checked.


London. Pennywise -- More Like Moneypenny.


My flight and my hotel on this trip cost more than my entire honeymoon. This trip is 10 days in 2 cities, with meals at nice restaurants and work all day. That trip was 1 month, for two people, in Asia, including lots of scuba lessons, and meals were usually served in exotic environs or on tropical beaches.

And if that doesn't give you pause, I don't mean that the honeymoon equalled the flight plus the hotel for this trip. I mean it cost as much as each one. (read: this is twice the cost, without food or incidentals).

Whew. Business sums still give me sticker shock. Still, this is a good value for the client -- you should see the upside.


Pound foolish.

We just lowered the price of the iPhone to $400. The brits get it November 9, without 3G, and it will cost £899. Yes, that is more than 4x.

Under water.

The U.S. Dollar finally fell below the Canadian Dollar. I think I'll just stay in London, failing banks and all.


What do the Acropolis and My Laptop Have in Common?

Both ruins.

I attended a deposition this morning. Very cool. I had a Greek frappe and worked in a Greek law firm office. All good, so far.

The deposition ended and we stole out to the Acropolis for 2 hours before we had to hit London. The place just looms over the whole of Athens. It is most definitely a ruin, but it is nothing short of captivating. As for the rest of Athens? It is a study in the good and bad of modern Europe.

Then my laptop blew up. More correctly, it fizzled. The power cord is partially severed (no biggy) and the LCD's backlight won't come on at all. There is a faint image on the screen, but its like looking at an x-ray against a dark wall. This happened in the business lounge at the airport while I was coordinating a document production due tomorrow with an assistant in the U.S. I ended up using a public machine, installing Adobe reader illicitly, and providing advice on the fly over gChat until 5 minutes before they closed the flight. Whew. Of course, now I can't work on the flight home. Maybe I'll take it is as a vacation. Question now is: do I buy a new laptop. I love the IBM/Lenovo c60. Any recommendations?

All Greek to Me

For those who don't know, I am on business in Athens. A few things have occurred to me.
  • Americans traveling to England or France often joke that they are going "where the history comes from." It occurs to me that I can say the same to Londoners at my next stop. It oozes out of the marble around here.
  • "Neh" means "Yes" in Greek. Thank god it's not confusing. Other words: "Ozhi" is "No" and "Eferashtoo" is thank you. The more interesting thing is that a country chock full of tourists has little in the way of multilingualism. You'll hear French, Italian, German, Russian flavors, and English, but all very broken. What they lack in language they make up for in friendly.
  • Greeks love fish. You go into a fish restaurant, go to the kitchen, pick the fish off the ice drawers ("I want THAT red snapper."), and then go back to your table and order starters. Ergo, I love Greeks.
  • As a whole, Greeks are not beautiful. To a one, they are sprightly and fun to be around.
  • Yes, the Parthenon is that impressive. It towers above the city and is currently being reconstructed.
  • Finally, the Hotel Grand Bretagne. Breakfast on the roof with a panoramic view of Athens, 24 euros. Marble everything room for a night, 240 euros. Getting to swim in a lightly salted spa pool between the jets and the waterfall: priceless.


Hrm, I think this is the right post.

For my dear RSC, who endures the beginning of this song regularly, and who will likely endure the rest in due time.


That'll get me to come to services.

JNF is auctioning off a trip to the Playboy Mansion. Gee. I shouldn't. Well...if it is for a good cause.

Living Vicariously Through the Shenanigans of Others

This is now the third in a series of prank-related posts. We're kicking it up a notch and including a prank war. This is great. See the whole series here.

[Note: I take a lot of these things with a touch of salt. I need to see the first 5 to determine if I think this is faked. Some of the camera work is a little too good or too conveniently placed for the victims not to notice (i.e. when she slaps him), but you be the judge. Besides, if it is fake, it is a great sketch. Think, funny Blair Witch Project.]

Paper Cuts Never Felt So Good.

Artist Peter Callasen does more without media than many do with it. This is nothing, see the rest.


RSC Has a Lah-Sense!

Yup, I taught her everything I know.

Turf Surf

Is it going too far to dub this Saturday's Michigan/ND matchup the "pointless bowl"? If this year doesn't signal to the NCAA that polls should come out after week 1, almost nothing will.

SF/AZ/OAK/TB - together, these might create one decent football team. Why can't the first three clubs haul themselves out of the gutter? As for TB, how often does an NFL team sink from mediocrity to crap?

Cleveland, start Quinn. It will slow down his learning curve, but putting him at game 6 will mean he has to win every game for you to have a decent year. F-r-y-e - s-u-ck.

Oh, and as a Pats fan and Tour de France fan, I am starting to get the two confused. This had to have come from Bill's office - I just wish it didn't.


Animaris Rhinocrous

This incredible machine is a lightweight, wind-powered kinetic sculpture by Theo Jansen.



I never thought I'd write this, but, for the second installment in what I kinda hope won't become a series, "When You Absolutely, Positively Have to Kill Something As Much As Possible," I present Tank Limo.

I recommend the motto: Bride-zilla? Get Firepower.

I truly am surprised the Brits beat us to this.