Mislabeling the Almighty

NY Gen. Business Law Sec. 349 is about Consumer Protection. Sec. 349-A is Observant consumer protection. To wit:
§ 349-a. Observant consumer protection
law. 1. No person selling or exposing for sale any
mezuzah or tefillin which, to the
seller's knowledge, does not satisfy orthodox Hebrew
ritual requirements shall represent, by direct or implied oral or
written statement, that such mezuzah or
tefillin is kosher or meets orthodox Hebrew
religious requirements.

2. No manufacturer, fabricator or importer of mezuzahs
or tefillin shall sell or transfer for
sale any mezuzah or tefillin unless the following truthful consumer
information is printed legibly upon the
article itself, upon its packaging, or upon a label securely
attached thereto: (a) the name and address of the
manufacturer, fabricator, or importer; (b) in the
case of any mezuzah or tefillin that,
in the form reasonably expected to be
sold at retail, is not in accordance with orthodox Hebrew ritual
requirements, the word "non-kosher."

Not too pluralistic, is it?


Helo-stic Medicine

I bought a the Bullet RC Helo from Woot. This was, it should be no surprise, an impulse buy. That is really rare in my house. Which is why this is not at my house, it is at the office. There is a long standing office toy hierarchy. There is the inaminate but pliable. Into this category fall my magnetic kennex-style toy and my poker chips (5, $1, Borgata). Second, there are the power-hungry, but stupid. I don't have any of these, but they include things like USB cup warmers and mood lamps. Perhaps they include digital frames, but we'll leave those solidly in the "remind my why I am doing this again?" pile. Finally, there are the animate and controllable. USB nerf rocket launchers, air-burst canons, and, of course, anything remote controlled. If it flies all the better.
Surprisingly, 5 minutes with this is incredibly relaxing. It is so much the opposite of everything else I do that it really helps clear the mind. Of course, there is some discretion involved. The sound of a very small leaf blower lets those walking down the hall know exactly what's going on.
Here is it in action:

For a more ridiculous experience, add a camera:

Woot Apache Helicopter Fun - Click here for funny video clips


It's Not Over, So There's Shouting

The Pats. 10-5 and, currently, out of the playoffs even if they beat Buffalo next week. What they needed this week was for the Jets to lose, causing an angry Brett Favre to stomp the Dolphins next week, putting the Pats at the top of the AFC East. That's wishful thinking, until one considers that Miami has won 8 of their last 9 over teams like Buffalo, SF, SEA, STL, Oakland, and Denver. The one loss: NE. The other divisional loss this year? The Jets...and Favre got better. I am not Pennington did.

Dare I hope?

Wireless Idea Balloons

Space Data wants to bring cellular to the stix with weather balloons toting wireless cells. Launch, track, recover, repeat. Using metereological data, they can keep a balloon in place by adjusting altitude to take advantage of better/opposing wind direction.

And the New Touch Paradigm Goes to...

Microsoft. Wait. Really? This is a great idea. Then again, so was the tablet PC. I hope this idea doesn't follow the trajectory of that one. Check it out:

White Knight 2 Takes Off.

Virgin Galactic - a lofty moniker if ever there was one - is once-again demonstrating that it may be well-deserved. (There, that should be enough hyphens for one sentence). Building on the model used to win the Ansasi X-Prize, the company has made White Knight larger and has finally flown it on its dedicated runway in the vast desert of the Western U.S.

Here's the eye-candy = short videos of the flight. Now, where did I put my $250K for a ticket?



Baking soda. Water. Egg. Deep Breath. Awesome.



Get In Mah Belleeh!

It isn't sick that this beast packs a sports-car tote in its belly. Oh now, what's sick is that has jacks to life the whole thing of the ground so these is enough clearance to unload the sportster. Look closely.

More photos here: http://gizmodo.com/5113751/luxury-caravan-has-sports-car-parking-dock-in-its-belly


Will It Blended, The Blendeds' Revenge

I, for one, think "Will it Blend?" is even stupider than "ICanHasCheezburger," even though the former at least makes some sense at first blush. But, of course, that was before they released a super slo-mo of blended lighters, fuel included:

HT: Gizmodo.


Global Gag Rule Be Gone!

We may finally see the end of the "global gag rule" with the Obama administration. Bush 43 put the rule in place, which prohibits global organizations from spending their own money on abortions and family planning eduction that permits abortion if they accepted U.S. money. Bush figured that, if he couldn't prevent abortions for the goose because they violated a constitutional right, he'd prohibit them for the gander.

Regardless of your position on this issue, this contradiction between domestic and foreign policy is clearly unfair and is long overdue for the axe.

Things You Already Knew Because You Are Smarter Than Me

I have always thought this word was "teatotaler" and referred to foppish male analog to a flibbertigibbet, bouncing from tea party to tea party sharing childish giggles over whispered gossip dotted with the clink of glasses.

Turns out the "tea" part is correct, but not for the reasons I thought. Teetotalism is the religious or principled refrain from all alcohol. The "T" stands for "temeperance," so the movement is actually one of "total temperance."

You're Getting So Bigot!

Shoprite refused to decorate a cake of a 3-y-o boy three days ago. To his mother, "That's sad." Of course, she and the father named the 'lil tyke Adolph Hitler Campbell. Boy, I wish I was making this stuff up.

From a purely academic point of view, can you refuse to put a name on a cake? Sure, you could refuse to put a 'bad word' on a cake citing decency, but here the refusal is based on an objection to the beliefs associated with the name. It is a service offered to the public, so Shoprite can't discriminate ... of course, whites - including white supremacists - aren't a protected class. Or perhaps they post somewhere that they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Maybe that's the easy out.

HT: Dan


BCS in 3D

Normally, I don't care who is crown king of the controversial hill that is the BCS, but this year, 3ality is broadcasting the game, live, in 3D to theaters across the country. Tickets: $18-22. The did a test run with an NFL game earlier this year. Who is interested?

Sports Roundup

Jim Zorn of the 'Skins says he might be the worst coach in the league. There is falling on your sword and then there's just asking to get canned after your first year in the head coach slot. Seriously, a lot of coaches are getting fired. Humility might serve you well. This might make it tough to keep you on. Oh, and I don't think he's the worst coach. You'd have to look to Detroit, where they seem to be running a Barney special mixed in with an ashram:

"It's the invisible, I guess. No, that's what I'm saying. I believe in the
invisible. I do. I think you go out and you have faith in what you do. If you
don't have it, you're nothing. You're not a man.

Speaking of good feelings, it is not surprising to me that Sean Avery has anger issues. I am surprised that the NHL and the Dallas Stars want him to resolve them. You hired the most obnoxious bruiser on ice. What did you think you were getting? And the icing on the cake is that the Stars won't take Avery back after the suspension for his misogynistic remarks. Wait. What? Since is "sloppy seconds" considered so risque that it requires indefinite leave? He was trash talking an opponent for chirssakes! Hockey, what have you done with my sport?

And finally, the Pats. It annoys me to no end that the AFC East has proven so good that the 8-5 Broncos may make the playoff while 2/3 9-5 teams, the Pats, Jets, and 'Fins, will have to stay home. The Broncos don't have what it takes to make the post-season, and here I am, hoping for a miracle. (grumble)


I'd never own it, but it looks cool.

Neat! Of course, it's Japanese.

Arena Football. You've Never Heard Of It. Now, You Never Will.

The Arena Football League has voted to shutter its doors for the coming season. They claim that, rather than sounding the death knell on the League, the move will shield it from doom. I am one of the very few Americans who know that there is a team called the Philadelphia Soul, that Ron Jaworski has an ownership stake in that team, and that it has won the Arena bowl several times. Catch me a year from now, and I might not even remember that. I am not sure that disappearing is the best tactic for sticking around.


GMail now has an internal PDF reader so you don't have to "View in HTML" or "Download" and then use the usually-resource-heavy Acrobat Reader to view them. This could have a significant impact on Reader's install base. Of course, it won't make PDF's any less useful. Also - I doubt Gmail's reader will let you fill out interactive forms, etc.

Still, it is a big change. That is, unless you use Mac's "Preview," which opens like a breeze. Durn Mayc Usehrs! [with apologies to my schitzo mac mini.]


What Would Michelle Obama Wear

Michelle is seen by many as the second coming of Jackie O, who was to straight women what (without too much irony) Marilyn Monroe was to gay men. Thus, she is expected to take up the torch of fashion and set the White House ablaze in taste once more. Of course, she'll likely have an agenda and staff, and, thus, do a lot more for America than Jackie O did as First Mom. But that hasn't stopped designers from taking a conceptual whack at her possible inaugural ensemble.

Some are amazing. Others explain why I see what I see on the racks of some purportedly reputable retailers.

[In other news: I was surprised to find out that I have an established "fashion" tag on this blog. Who knew?]


Corvid C6W

Yes, that's real. What is more, it is going into production. Could it change the way Le Mans series cars are designed and built?

HT: Gizmodo.

Veritable or Viral?

An awesome video. Real or viral?


Wall Street and Main Street Bypass K Street to Capital Street

American Lawyer has compiled a chart of lobbyist spending by the nation's largest companies. They all use both in-house and out-house lobbyists, but - surprisingly - they spend twice as much internally as they do on those bigshot firms.


Haxagonal Water

The description (in part):
Water is a network of hydrogen-bonded molecules. It can form numerous
structures, depending on how the individual molecules bond together. The most
recent scientific findings indicate that biological organisms prefer the
six-sided (hexagonal) ring-structure, found naturally in snow water. This
Hexagonal Water forms a liquid crystalline lattice that is involved in cellular
communication, intracellular water movement, enzyme function and many other
metabolic processes. The amount of Hexagonal Water in the body has been
correlated with aging. It has also been found to form the initial layer of water
surrounding healthy cells. On the other hand, unorganized water has been
described surrounding diseased and abnormal cells. Hexagonal Water is composed
of six individual molecules of water, held together by common hydrogen bonds.
This unique water structure is capable of rapid penetration within the cells of
the body. Most tap water and bottled water is composed of large water
conglomerates which are too large to move freely into the cells. It must be
re-structured within the body to penetrate the cells (a time-consuming and
energy-consuming process). For many years, Dr. Mu Shik Jhon has known that the
regular consumption of Hexagonal Water could provide innumerable health
benefits. ...

Hexagonal water is otherwise known as snow. This device does not purport to freeze water, nor, to my knowledge, is there any evidence that the crystaline structure of water has any effect on health. Of course, even that seems to be giving the product too much credit. My first reaction is: Should this even be allowed to be sold? The answer to that might be yes, just to support a free market - the consumers for this product landing on the intelligence curve as it tails out way to the left. But here is a more interesting question: Should Amazon permit the sale of this product? If a product make claims that appear to be blatantly false, is it ethical to sell that product just because people will buy it? While there is demand for it, that demand is uninformed and unproductive. It will, in effect, perpetuate a product that, by objective measures, can't benefit anyone. [And, no, I don't think the placebo effect is justification enough.]



How Important Is It To Get On Law Review?

And how important is it that you got on law review? Important enough that when you get shot in the chest by your dominatrix's jealous client, the entirety of your bio is this:

Madelaine Miller, a Paul Weiss spokeswoman, confirmed to the Philly paper that
Ottaviano started working for the firm on Sept. 11, 2006, and that he was a 1997
New York Law School graduate who worked on law review.

- ABA Journal

There are a lot of non-attorneys who read this blog, so here's a crash course in law school job hunting. To be a summer associate after your second year in law school, you have to interview at the very beginning of your second year. The only things you have on your resume are your first year GPA, some summer experience (I was a research assistant), and - if you could get on one - a journal. The holy grail of journals is the school's Law Review.

If you want a big firm gig, you work your butt off in your first year through two semesters, staying up day and night for a month each finals season. I was in school 6.5 days a week then, 8:30 to midnight S-F + Sat. night. With all first years on the same schedule, the end of finals whips open like a pressure cooker valve, streaming students to bars and beds. Then, without recovery time, there is a writing competition to get on a journal the next year. Again, day and night, for a week. Some people never finish; about half the class does - 150 people. Our law review accepted about 17 with the remaining 5-6 journals taking 10-20 each. The other half of the applicants shoot for moot court, client negotiations, clinics, etc. But you can be damn sure those won't merit mention if they are ever shot by the S&M queen's whack-job stalker.

[p.s. This is a really sad story. This is more a commentary on the legal communities obsession with journal membership. See e.g. Obama's leading the Harvard Law Review.]


"New" DSLR

My father in law has put up his 8MP Canon DSLR for inheritance. We snagged it; we were looking at buying our own. My FIL is a god.

Retail. Backwards.

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler - perhaps the most beautiful 10 miler in the country - just sent me an email asking if I'd like to order merchandise for holiday delivery. Now, I am not one to wear fleece trophies of races where I have managed to finish a wopping 1,000th, but that - as it becoming a pattern here on the blog - not the reason for the post.

You see, the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler hasn't even opened for registration yet. Getting one of the 10,000 slots for this race is really hard. You basically have to be online at 8 a.m. on December 16th when reg opens and pray that your registration won't hang or fail. I had to try 10 times the first year and last year I had to send an email to race officials the next day to confirm that I had been registered. I had not, but they were kind and bumped someone - I don't know who, but I suspect it was a paper entry - to let me and several dozen others in.

Which leads me back to the email. If I won't buy shwag for a race I have run, and certainly not for a race I have not yet run, why in the name of all that is holy would I buy shwag for a race I don't even know if I'll be allowed to run?

and, in tribute to my geek-squad: /EOR



...is going away. I am sad. They were great.

Before they go, they have this shirt to bestow upon the masses. It sums up everthing they stand for:

iPod Touch Impressions

I caved and bought the iPod touch (2g). Seems a little decadent, but it is actually the result of a long search for a tablet pc or e-reader. I wanted to be able to do three things:

1. Read materials to and from work without printing it out needlessly.
2. Read documents at work
3. Take notes electronically.

Turns out that the tech to let you do this is really pricey and unreliable.
  1. Amazon (Kindle) and Sony (e-Reader) don't permit note-taking.
  2. More importantly, to get a doc onto those units, I would need to sync them to my work machine. I cannot install software on my local machine, so that would be impossible.
  3. iRex makes an e-Reader [NOTE: e-readers are different from tablet PCs because they have e-Ink displays that are B+W and really, really low power]. That unit is $650+
  4. A tablet PC, even used, is heavy, large, and well over $500. Not to mention the fact that most handwriting OCR is OK at best.

Why the iPod Touch:
  1. www.instapaper.com . I find something I want to read at work, copy the link to my instapaper account (which is bookmarked), and I am done. I just update the app on our public wifi before I leave the office and I have all the content offline.
  2. $200. Cheap. Relatively.
  3. There is a lot of free wifi. I have it at home and office - the two place I spend the most time, and I am finding it in a lot of places I would not expect.
  4. I carry an iPod shuffle anyway, so this would replace that unit and allow me to download more podcasts - which are all I listen to anyway - without having to sync to iTunes. I have to sync to delete them, but that can be done once in a blue moon.
  5. It's an iPhone without the phone. I don't need games, but I like them, and, thanks to black friday, I got two games that would have cost $19.98 together for $1.98. Then I got some free games. Why not?
Verdict: Amazing little toy. It really is a small computer.


I am slowly losing touch.

Of the top 10 Yahoo searches this past year, I searched one - or perhaps not even one. I don't think I actually searched for "Barack Obama." As a semi-literate netizen and newshound I think I would have had more luck searching "not election" to add some variety to the coverage.

But that's not what prompted my post. What prompted my post is that I had never even heard of two of the top 10 searches. Here is the list with the holes in my knowledge highlighted:
  1. Britney Spears
  2. World Wrestling Entertainment
  3. Barack Obama
  4. Miley Cyrus
  5. RuneScape
  6. Jessica Alba
  7. Naruto
  8. Lindsay Lohan
  9. Angelina Jolie
  10. American Idol

Source: Yahoo viz. BBC.

Runescape: A massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It's killer app: It doesn't have to be downloaded. You can the full 3D game in your browser (one assumes the implied ... at work) without a single download. Oh, and that other barrier to entry - paying - they did away with that too. You can have a limited free account.

Naruto is more excusable. It is a manga comic. I don't know why the romanized version of the name was such a big hit this year. Perhaps it wasn't, and Yahoo is just aggregating from all languages. Who knows.



I just filled the car for 1.81 a gallon. I never thought I'd see that again.

Sent from my mobile device

read the "small thoughts" blog



The NFL will be filming and broadcasting next week's Chargers/Raiders "Doesn't Friggin Matter" Bowl in 3D. The broadcast will be closed to the public and will feed three movie theaters outfitted to display the 3D image.

I would watch that. Thing is, I would still much rather have my team's game available on demand, instead of having spring for a sports package + NFL Network.

Thanksgiving by the Party of First Part to the Creator, Hereinafter Referred to as the "Big Cheese"

The legalities of Thanksgiving are somewhat odd. Under Title 5, Section 6103 of the U.S. Code, it is officially a federal work holiday (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/5/usc_sec_05_00006103----000-.html). In addition, the President also proclaims Xgiving a holiday, as he did this year: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/11/20081121-8.html. Now, I understand that, before the statute, a presidential proclamation was necessary. Famously, Jefferson refused to issue such proclamations, believing in a strict separation of Church and State. Ain't no federal functionary gonna declare gratitude to the almight on his watch, nosiree. But now, when there is a statute stating that Thanksgiving is a federal holiday, does the proclamation serve any legal purpose?


Ramen. Pizza. Together at last.

That's a ramen-crusted pizza. It is real. The layer of white is ricotta to stabilize the top cheese layer. The solution is really quite brilliant. The recipe is here.


Port your favorite Meme to real life...and see how long you keep your job. Available at your own risk from LOLMart.

The Big "O"

The NYT has an interview with the design house in charge of designing Obama's campaign logo. Less interesting in its substance than for its, "Neat to think that someone popped open Illustrator to a blank page one day and came up with this design." aspect.

HT www.kottke.org.



Folding OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) displays are something of a holy grail in the screen market. First it was higher resolution, then it was bigger!, and then thinner! (which is pointless because your DVD player is will 12 inches deep). While those are all great, folding is greater still. Folding OLEDs mean screens that countour to whatever shape is necessary. That means fish-eye screens for simulators or desktop monitors, and it means large screens on folding gadgets, like cell phones:

This is Samsung's thumb-our-nose-at-the-competition proof-of-concept. No word on what this tech costs, but it is safe to say that it is nowhere near "affordable" yet.


Um. I Guess My Ears Feel Good Too?

Warning. This is NSFW. Or rather, the audio is SFW, which is the point, but the overall performance is kinda NSFW. Really, this is here because I don't get it. She likes microphones and, apparently feedback. Is this just a case of, "Finally, someone has gone and done it?"

Things You Already Knew Because You Are Smarter Than Me

Most of us have had to use a Notary Public at some point in our lives, though we could not, for the life of us (lives of us?), tell you what value the Notary added.

Most of also know that courts have clerks for the same reason that, say, buildings have janitors or certain movie sets have fluffers. Namely, someone has a dirty job that keeps the whole operation flowing.

Enter Pennsylvania, whose state courts have "Prothonotaries." Prothonotaries, obviously, evolved from Triloclerks, moving out of the Rolodex, erecting counters, and eventually evolving the computerized bar-code filing formats that can only be accessed through the passing of long forms in triplicate with payment under glass that we have come to expect from modern-day clerks.

Actually, the terms is ecclesiastical, coming from the Greek: protonotari, meaning "first scribe." Insert funny closing zinger here.


Blogging Login

Employees are suing several large employers because the employers do not pay for the time it takes the computer to boot up. Imagine a call center bright and early in the morning. Employees shuffle in, hit their respective machines' power buttons, and then head off for a coffee. Estimated boot-time: 15-30 minutes. Once the system is fully logged in, the employees can "punch in" for the day and start working. The employees claim that they are at work and ready to work and only the machine, provided by the employer, stands in their way. Employers say machines are machines, bottom line, the employees aren't working during that time.

First, the boot times do sound high to most users, but I think more than a few of you out there can attest that they are not overblown. My work computer takes 5-6 minutes, and that's on a relatively tiny network without a master contact system that would be found on, say, a call-center machine. If one is working with a Citrix or mainframe-based system, the times seem "reasonable."

Second, the arguments on both sides are also reasonable. The workers see a forced break of sorts. Employers see no work. Seems to me that the problem is one best addressed by technology. Most machines can be booted remotely. On a network this large, why not just power up the machines 15-30 minutes before workers are set to show up? The mvoe might even go a long way to promoting settlement of these actions.


I Know the Feeling Well

Want to Blow Your Mind? Give It Space Into Which to Expand

Ganzfield-induced Hallucinations.

- 1 ping pong ball, halved
- 1 rubber band or plastic to hold halves about nose-width apart
- 1 Set headphones
- 1 recording of white noise

Just sit in a lit room with the ping pong balls and headphones in place and do...nothing for 10-30 minutes. See what happens.

Or you can read this research account. The hallucinations are widely reported and quite vivid. It is not news that sensory deprivation causes this; it is news that it is so easy to induce. There is no need for a deprivation tank, just a chair, a ball, and an iPod.


@#!)$ In, $)#@ Out.

People are growing more and more skeptical of the bailout, or really the bailouts; or maybe there is just one bailout and the skepticism is just growing in proportion to its estimated cost. But, that is neither here not there given that, in the time it has taken me to pen this, the financial situation has no doubt altered course again.

That said, I have a little praise for Sec. Paulson. He and his boys over thar in Treasurah have realized that buying MBS from the banks is neither prudent nor, in an economic value sense, possible. Instead, they fed the money directly to the bank's general coffers. While that doesn't get me, the taxpayer, any equity, MBS was equity that neither I, nor anyone I knew, wanted. That is a waste of several billion averted. Let's stay on this track.

Mirror's Edge

For a long time now, designers have opted for the "hazy twilight" look to help smooth over the rough spots in their graphics. Mirror's edge takes the opposite approach - the bright daylight that animators like Pixar prefer. I think it works and it signals an important shift in the way these games are envisioned. Wii has shown that interface is more important that pretty pictures, but looking at this shows that the pretty pics don't hurt. Wow.

Wizards of the Coast

For more than a few of us who grew up in the nineties, there is a large black hole of time that we can't seem to fill in with memories. That is, until someone mentions Magic, the Gathering. We spent so. many. hours. dealing, drawing, tapping mana, casting spells, summoning creatures. We oohed at Beta decks and ahhed at rare artifacts. We swapped apocryphal stories of tournament shenanigans. "Did you see the guy who tore up that super-rare card that you have to toss across the table? It buries whatever it lands on, so he tore it up into tiny little pieces and wiped the other guy out in two rounds." The lore was somehow enough to compete well into the gameboy/GameGear era. Does it come as a surprise that I went to an all boys school?

If reading this made you tear up or the economic downturn has turned you off to the idea of working as a a socio-economic construct, this link is for you. Wizards of the Coast is giving away Magic Decks. Next up, 8-tracks, snap bracelets, pogs, Furbies, and Tamagachis.


Tivominos. Loading...30 minutes.

Tivo is now offering the ability to order pizza from dominoes through the Tivo interface. Hm. I'd still have to navigate away from my shows to order. Could you at least provide picture-in-pizza?

I own a Tivo, and I like it. It is fast and does exactly what you ask. It also has the perk of permitting online show scheduling through a pretty reliable interface. What I don't like is that, despite my monthly fee, I am subjected to offers for additional services, so that I have effectively purchased and continue to subsidize a billboard in my home. I don't like it, but I am also pretty good at ignoring it. C'est la video.


Braindroppings Comma Langauge.

I have noticed that many people when using paranthetical phrases, will put in the second comma, but not the first - as in this sentence. There should be a comma between "people" and "when." I think that if they stopped and thought about it, they'd hear the natural pause that damn-near requires the little ticks. It is annoying, isn't it?

Braindroppings - Close isn't the word.

In the AK recount, the Dem (Begich) was up over Ted Stevens as of 8pm last night...by three votes. There are still a lot of ballots to count, so that will change a lot. My question is: why release that information at all? Just tell us who wins at the end.

Braindroppings - Pixar Drops Up

"Up" is the new Pixar film. Flying house; 3D; color me fan-boy as usual.

Braindroppings - The Electric Marshmallow Roasting Test


It is Friday, so I won't do a lot of thinking - I'll just pass along some fun tidbits.

First, a fair so long to Carlin, whose book title has been "adapted" to this post. Our very gracious friends took us him receive the Mark Twain Prize posthumously at the Kennedy Center this week. Lesson learned: SCOTUS has deemed the "fleeting explective" permissible. I never would have *&!#@ ing guessed it.


Barney's in Barney

...Rubble...trouble. (Ocean's 11 and the most Cockney areas of London). In case you haven't heard, there was room post-election for a man-bits-dog story. The dog in question: Barney, the White House pooch. He bit a reporter who reached to pet him.

More surprisingly is that bloggers now had time to assess the legal impact of this bite instead of churning through possible cabinet appointments. Conclusion: The rule that "every dog gets one bite" applies in D.C. and Barney, well, he's bitten someone before. I wonder if Bush can assert executive privilege for simple torts?

Cost of Laziness, $50. Cost of Awesome, also $50

Belkin has released a "switch to mac" cable. Plug one USB end to your PC, the other to your shiny, new Mac, and sit back while the migration software moves all your personal items to your new rig. Do we really have so much stuff on our computers that we require e-Movers? Still, if your time is valuable - i.e., Gossip Girl requires your absolutely undivided attention - or you have ever called MS install support with a question and expected a real answer, this cable's for you.

Mortgage Reform - One Tooth Removed

Mortgage regulation was set to have teeth when first proposed. Among the changes was a proposal to requre the closing agent to read a script to the buyer, including the payment terms, the type of mortgage, etc. The exercise would slow down closings and, in theory, force the buyer to focus on the relevant terms and hear them in plain English. The mortgage industry's lobbyists recently announced that HUD had backed off the script requirement. The mortgage lending industry didn't like the scripts because, well, they would slow down closings. Apparently, even in a down RE market, time is still money.

Perhaps a cleaner loan summary sheet would do equally well to convey the terms to a buyer. In my mind, though, this already exists in the form a HUD-1. While not "clear" in the "apple product packaging" sense, the HUD-1 is one legal-sized page that lays out exactly what you are borrowing, what type of mortgage you are taking on, and what your monthly payment will be. It could be edited to include more detail on the date of adjustable rate resets and to cut out many of the other items that clutter the page, but it is not all that complex. That said, I understand that I am - to my chagrin - considered a sophisticated buyer.

It is for that last reason that I thought a script would be a bold change. I admit that a purchase as large as a house requires a certain level of sophistication and, thus, permits a certain level of "caveat emptor;" however, realpolitik requires that we admit to ourselves that all types of people buy homes and that they don't have the sophistication or attention to read through their loan documents. Their inability to understand the terms is now hurting all of us, and if you are going to hurt me, I support regulation that protects us all from you (including yourself.) That is an instance in which regulation lowers the overall cost to society, regardless of the increased closing costs incurred by realtors and title companies. If they charge us another $1000, that still only represents at most about .5-.7% the price of the property. Consider it the cost of insuring against living through this again.


Obama has expressed to Sen. Reid his desire that Leiberman be permitted back into the fold, or, rather, that he not be forced out of the fold. Or perhaps that the Democrats permit him to retain his positions on various committees as well as his position squarely between the rival parties.

Ambiguities aside, I had championed Leiberman as the GOP VP pick because McCain was best at 'being McCain' and that McCain wanted to run with Joe. Still, I can't help but think that Joe lucked out as the GOP machine balked. I doubt he'd be welcomed back if he was on the ticket.

[There is a smattering of good stuff out there today, so I'll keep my comments short.]


Olberman Feigns an Even Hand

MSNBC removed him and Chris Matthews as lead election correspondents because even the left thought they were too liberal -- the elites didn't want to out-FoxNews FoxNews. He's the cornerstone of MSNBC's nightly lineup primarily as an answer to Dobbs and O'Reilly. The man can't wait to go on a tear against anyone who offends his liberal sensibilities - Hillary, Sarah, Bush, Bush, Bush.

But Mr. Olberman sees himself as a journalist of the old creed. He's honest, fact-driven, and independent. He wanted the hosts of "The View" to know that. His proof? He doesn't vote.

Keith, I am pretty certain that - despite our secret ballot system - everyone who has seen even your sports broadcasts knows who you'd vote for, so you can stop the charade. Second, it is a secret ballot. Wouldn't you accomplish the same by voting and then not telling us who you voted for? At least then you'd be setting a good and very public example of the importance of the franchise, even in bleedin'-blue New York. I mean, seriously?! How can you cover the campaign night after night, getting to speak directly with the most prominent political figures in American politics, and then not vote? Perhaps you'll get it if I dress it up as "Football Night in America" for you: It's like you're an offensive coordinator. You watch film, you go to practice, you analyze every one of the opponents plays, and you do this all day and all week, only to decide when Sunday comes around that you'd rather hang out and play catch in the backyard. It doesn't just seem incongruous for you Keith, it hurts the team.


Hail to Thee, Dean

I was not a Deaniac, so I only got to know "Screaming Howard" once he chaired the DNC. Then, of course, I got to see the product of his "50 State Strategy" in the most recent election. It put blue bodies on the ground in every state - permitting the Obama campaign to step into an existing mold instead of trying to both install ground operations and then expand them in a single campaign cycle. The campaign and the party become one when the former absorbed the DNC into campaign headquarters in Chicago - leaving DC out of the equation almost completely. I give Dean credit for this as well. He understood that what the party and the candidate needed above all was a unified, disciplined brand, and he had the good sense to allow it to happen quietly, without the turf wars we're used to hearing about. So, as he announces that he's ready to move on to his next project, count me a Deaniac.

The Inner Sanctum

Photos from inside the Obama family suite on election night. What amazes me is how low-key the whole get-together appers to be. See the whole set here: http://flickr.com/photos/barackobamadotcom/sets/72157608716313371/

I Am Going To Regret This, I'm Sure

Behold, the LED menorah. Sure, it doesn't have flames, but that's what ANGRY EMAILS are for. $25 (+ tax, dignity). Avail at: http://www.fredflare.com/customer/product.php?productid=4320&cat=103#


Licking My Knees

Spirit Air. Budget, budget travel. The seats are leather, cracked and
dirty.  Water is 3 dollars. My knees are touching the seat in front of
me.  The ad on the back of my tray table offers perhaps the only
solace - a beat up point of view photo of kayaking in the cool green
waters of the Bahamas.

I didn't pay 5 dollars per leg to select a seat ahead of time. I
didn't pay 10 dollars per leg to sit in the aisle, or 15 to sit in an
exit row.   You start doing that, and the 50 dollar difference between
this fight and the next one up in price evaporates - and you're still
on this beat up plane in these beat up seats.

Still missing the feel? Think city bus - and not the circulator or
even the newer busses places like LA, PHI, or DC - old ("classic") NY

Conservatives Want to Paint Bush a Moderate

People like Tony Perkins of the Center for the American Family says
that the success of ballot measures discriminating against gays shows
that the electorate was not leaning left, but rejecting the Bush
administration. Perhaps. And why does Mr. Perkins think Bush flopped?

The war. The global gag order. The rejection of Kyoto. The
deregulation, tax cuts and war on the estate tax.

Where in any of this or the myriad other policies espoused by this
President was there a shred of moderation. If anything, this was a
rejection of big government social and neo-conservatism. For Tony,
that is just not conservative enough. Forget his side's cries of
socialism, this form of conservatism is just despotic.


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I Get That I Don't Get It, Which Means It's Working

I get Jesse Jackson's reaction, and Oprah's, McNabb's, all of DC outside the affluent NW enclave, and the millions of people in church's, community centers, homes, and streets two nights ago. I have felt that feeling before, the one that makes my skin prickle up a bit just thinking about the first shots of people praying at the Western Wall when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967. I've re-written this sentence six times, and I cant' capture the feeling. It is big and heavy and almost painful, but you feel light while tingling connections between you and your kinsman stretch out from the tips of your hair and fingers to theirs. That's the best I can do.

I also don't get the Rev. Jackson's reaction, and that, too, is beautiful. I am not black, and I did not grow up in a legally segregated America or the civil rights movement. My heroes have not been assassinated then, and I have not watched nearly 20% of my kinsman wasting their lives away in jails now. But, because of all that, it is also no big deal to me that Pres.-Elect Obama is black. Sure, it is momentous, but equally momentous is that his blackness has no bearing in my mind or the minds of many in my generation on how he will lead. That is equality amidst diversity. That is what America told me it has fought for in the past 100 years, and I see that my reaction is the product of the struggles of hundreds and thousands - quietly, from soup kitchens to corporations, and loudly, in Congress, on the field of play, and on the streets - and I feel a deep gratitude.

What I do get is that the struggle is not over.


Nuf Sed.

Arkansas - Equal Rights for "Idiots" but not for Sinners

AR passed a ballot measure that prevents those living together out of wedlock (in AR law) from adopting or acting as foster parents. It is aimed at gays, but includes heterosexual couples. Here is the text:

Section 1: Adoption and foster care of minors. (a) A minor may not be adopted or
placed in a foster home if the individual seeking to adopt or to serve as a
foster parent is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage which is
valid under the constitution and laws of this state. (b) The prohibition of this
section applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex individuals.
So if you are single and have sex with random strangers, you can adopt, but if you live together and choose not to get married, no kids for you. It is not strange for, say, an aunt to take custody of her troubled nieces kids - and auntie may be divorced herself, but living with her boyfriend. Even in my short stint of pro bono family law, I have seen this over and over. Well, not any more in AR.

On the other hand, AR has amended its constituion to remove language in Article 3, Section 5, which says: "No idiot or insane person shall be entitled to the privileges of an elector."[anyone who can vote in AR is called an "elector"]. Based on the results above, it seems to me these people can already vote.

Election Day Wrap Up

At four p.m., I moved to a second precint across town, back near my motel. I stopped in the parking lot for a 10 minute nap, which landed on me like a pile of cheap tan motel blankets. The next half an hour was a set of snippets. I met Justin - the other attorney volunteer at this new location. He told me about their six-hour lines that morning as we passed out Doritos and water down the line. The line still stretched the long length of cinder block hall in the center of this elementary school. VA had closed down the schools for the day and the beat up chairs from classrooms lined both sides so people could take a load off.

To this point, I hadn't said much. When I am that tired, I have been known to just spurt out gibberish as I try to talk. I had the presence of mind not to try.

I met Bob Ralls, the precinct captain. He explained that the crew of canvassers, some of which stood in our circle as the sun finished setting on the cul-de-sac, had turned about nearly 100 percent of his 3,000 voters. Many had come at five a.m., waited for two or three hours, and left when they had to make it to work. At around five p.m., they started trickling back in.

There wasn't even a Republican presence at this second location. They knew the make up of the neighborhood, so I assume they didn't bother.

We answered a few voter ID questions, some absentee questions, and had one gentleman fill out a provisional ballot. And we waited for the after work rush. It never came. I left around six to book it back to DC, my friends, and my bed. There were now more volunteers than voters; we just guessed that everyone was afraid that their vote would not be counted - so they had voted early, either before November 4, or that morning. Nobody wanted to risk a late-night chance at the franchise.

The Virginians all headed to the Granby in Norfolk to watch returns. I can only imagine their jubilation at the announcement four hours later, and the acceptance speech that soon followed.


Election Live Blog

Four AM wake up is catching up to me. We are in that slow section of
the afternoon. Oof - cold fatigue.


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Election Day Live Blog

I met a ROTC/National Guardsman who was tired from putting up door
hangers for Obama. He, and his four roomies, were up at midnight in
C-Tach ( a black neighborhood in Norfolk). Then they woke up at 3am to
start again. He showed up at 10 to take his friend to the polls.

The totals here are near 1700 - daily totals used to be 200ish. It's
cold. I had the worst Tuna sandwich ever. Still, we're clapping out
every first time voter. It really feels like a movement.

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Election Day Live Blog

Our one hour plus line has dwindled to about 10 minutes. One in every
20 was a new voter and I've seen a lot of curbside voters - those who
can't stand in line that long. One woman works with the mental ill.
She drove one of her patients here. She waited an hour in line. He
waited an hour in the van. I bet she was a lot colder.

This district seems to splitting at least even, if not Dem. The
election officers tell me that, in the last election, they saw a
couple thousand all day. Some hours, they saw just a handful of
people. We've seen that many already.

Election Live Blog

I came down last night, stayed in the all-tan America's Best Value
Inn, for about 4 hours. The desk clerk who checked me in, checked me
out. On the way in, he cracked that not all folks around here are
rednecks. This morning, he was listening to Keith Olberman's
countdown. My landsman opened breakfast early for me. He, the janitor,
and I shared Krispy Kremes. I imagine that if you broke down the
campaign calorie intake, KK would make up a good piece of the pie
chart. It certainly put me in the mood.

It is dark and wet. Out here, I met my first Obama voters at the 24
hour Wal-Mart. A golf umbrella, 3 PowerAdes, and a poncho later I am
at the local high school. It is 5 and the line is just out the door of
the building.

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Rhidiculous Rhescue

This is an actual drill run at this Japanese zoo. How can I not post it?

HT: www.Gizmodo.com

Gun, Bait, Rod, Ballot

VA election code Sec 24.2-411.2 requires that the Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries provide voter registration opportunities. DMV,
armed forces, and even food stamps I understand, but registering to
vote at the local ranger's shed? God bless 'em.

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We are finally online everywhere

On the train, businesspeople all around me are online using cellular
modems. It has finally become cheap enough. Cheap cellular modems may
sound the death nell for free citywide wifi - several such efforts
have already stalled or failed.

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DC to NY

Sitting in a big seat watching the fall foliage drift past is
mesmerizing. I had more time to do it back when I was doing BOS to NY
once a week to consult - my workaholic days have not sunset (ed?). I
stepped into the station at 1:50 and was on by 2:15, even with the
delay. I'll get off in the middle of town, and sis I mention the big
seat? Flying this corridor is for suckers. The delta door to door is,
at most, 30 minutes and I get a lot more work done.

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Anglers for Obama

Yeah, but he's clearly an elitist. Only fishes in the "great" lake - won't reduce himself to fishing in the streams with the rest of us. He doesn't know what its really like.

The Tuesday After the First Monday Before the Last Tuesday After the First Monday of the Year

The reason:

General Election Day. Elections for all federal elected officials are held on
the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years (November 5, 2002 for the next mid-term congressional elections, and November 2, 2004 for the next presidential election); presidential elections are held in every year
divisible by four. Congress selected this day in 1845 (5 Stat. 721); previously,
states held elections on different days between September and November, a
practice that sometimes led to multiple voting across state lines, and other
fraudulent practices. By tradition, November was chosen because the harvest was
in, and farmers were able to take the time needed to vote. Tuesday was selected
because it gave a full day's travel between Sunday, which was widely observed as
a strict day of rest, and election day. 7 Travel was also easier throughout the
north during November, before winter had set in.

January 17, 2001 CRS Report for Congress
"The Electoral College: How it Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections"
Thomas H. Neale
Analyst, American National Government Government and Finance Division

HT www.volokh.com

New Pepsi Logo

Pepsi has, apparently, rebranded. This is a version of their old logo. What do you think?
In my design classes in college, we'd mock up designs like this - clean, modern, and usually unworkable in a world where packaging has to include color tests, nutrition info, copyright, contact info, sales promos, etc. The old, busy design could accomodate the weight of this information. The newer, cleaner design will look set upon by those additions. That said, it will provide more contrast for yellow ribbon sales promos that often ring the top of these labels.

Early Voting in DC

You can vote early in DC during business hours at:

Board of Elections and Ethics
Government of the District of Columbia
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001

Voter Protection In VA

VA voters received a phony flier stating that, per an emergency session of the VA General Assembly, the GOP would vote on Nov. 4th and Dems, Nov. 5th, due to high expected voter turnout. Some friends have made the comment that this should carry a stiff sentence. On the one hand, there is no serious injury to these persons. On the other, these people are intentionally preventing people from exercising one of their explicit constitutional right and preventing a key aspect of their participation in a democracy. Now that does sound pretty serious.

HT Matt


Economic Downturn = Great Deals

I know the economy is down, but I still have presents to buy and I'll still want to take a few trips this winter. Difference is, I'll be looking for bargains that make those of years past seem like (gasp!) retail.

Exhibit A: http://www.blackfriday.info/ - Posts of all the big shots will appear here. Slowly populating.

Exhibit B: www.Bargainist.com - Deals every day.

Anyone know of great ski deals?

People Don't Watch the World Series Just Because It Is The World Series

ESPN and Fox report low ratings for this World Series compared to series past. The two examples? STL/DET in 2006 and BOS/COL in 2007. Two words: Fan Nation. Either STL or BOS fans could be swept in a World Series (though I doubt it would happen) and still get higher ratings because they care. The Rays...they have a fan base after this season. They just got to the post-season. It takes time to ingrain fandom. On the other side are Phillies fans. Poor, jaded, Phillies fans, who - in contrast to their ever-the-underdog counterparts in Chicago - took a look at their lackluster team and just gave up long, long ago.

That leaves the rest of us...and, quite frankly, there's football and the Sprint Cup to watch.


Sure, but, tell me again, why?

That's not a cheap photoshopping job - that's the new GameBoy theme for iPhone. Look, if you really want one, I am sure eBay has a ton, cheap. More shots and the theme here.

Proud to Un American, Cuz At Least I Know I'm Free

"Are you a real American? Quiz."

Best question: Which is your favorite Amendment?
(A) The First
(B) The Second

Free Advice

This might be worth $.99 per download.

www.DoINeedAnUmbrella.Com - enter your zip and learn whether the collapsable covering should accompany you. Simple, elegant, and screaming to be an iPhone App.

HT Flippish.


Client/Matter/State of Matter

There may be a new state of matter. Electrons, which normally travel around the nucleus of an atom on a 2D plane (a disk, or an orbit), were seen to shift to a "quasi 3D plane" when subjected to massive magnetic forces at near 0 Kelvin.

Practical uses: use the shift in state of a matter to store bits of data, allowing bits to shrink to the single particle level. Well, perhaps "practical" isn't the perfect term.


Conservative Elite

During this election cycle, the conservatives may have alienated their most prized possession: the elite that run their own party. Today, the Chicago Tribune endorsed Obama. "But that's just the elite mainstream media," you'll yell. Not so fast:

This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

[10-20-08 ChiTrib]. Add to it the Weekly standard's call for Palin to step down, etc. etc. etc., and, my friends, one might argue that the elite - the successful and the educated, democrat and republican - have been turned off my a hard-charging, all-too-folksy attempt at populism.

* and now to throw some cold water on that. I am a staunch Democrat, but I would seriously encourage Obama to take a tough stance with Congress when he gets into power. POUTS + 60 votes in the Senate is a recipe for excess and scandal. It could, if marshalled responsibly, be a ticket to faster recovery.

* And my final pitch: I hope the infrastructure stays the name of the game for a long time after the election. Let's create government-funded jobs rebuilding roads, water-handling facilities, power structure, communications lines, and so on for the coming 10 years. That is money we'd actually be investing in America. This project is not sexy, so the charge will have to come from an exciting man like Barack.

Mars Lander

NASA is planning to deploy the next Mars lander with a sky (if you can call it that on Mars) crane.

First, isn't it great that NASA is hiring video game cut-scene designers to create these videos? Changes in focus, camera shake, and variable angle are a lot more likely to elicit "ooh"s and "ahh"s than the old "track the object as it comes closer to the camera" view we got in the early 90s.

Second, um, why do we need a sky crane? The last one, if you recall, hit Mars using a pyramid shaped set of inflatable orbs. It then opened and the rover rolled off. That, in my mind, left a lot less room for error. No rockets to fail, and if one of the bubbles didn't inflate, the rest would still be there to protect the vehicle. Here, if one of the retro rockets or one of the girdles, or the umbilical were to fail, the rover would topple down to the planet with no protection.

Can anyone (who actually knows about space science - not someone who is happy to surmise, as I am) explain it to me?


Like the Candidacy

No, no, it's not that it is a joke. Sarah Palin got to show up, say two words in the opening, followed by, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!" Then, she "did" this sketch. It's like her candidacy: She got to show up and do the fun part, without doing any of the work.



A cheap shot, I know.

Senate Politics

Al Franken, of SNL and "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" fame, may actually win a Minnesota Senate seat. This is not a joke and, actually, he is not a joke. Long a humorist, Franken has longer been a political junkie. I actually think this would be a good thing for him, for Minnesota, and for the Dems.


1. Don't turn off the Sox deep into the 5th inning.

2. The NFL confirmed that tix for the superbowl will reach $1000 for the first time. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/football/nfl/10/16/tickets.ap/index.html?eref=si_mostpopular). Um, actually, they reached well above that for years. Oh? You mean that the *NFL* will be charging $1000 face. Yeah, I don't think that will have much effect on what they actually sell for.


When there are this many cameras around...

...don't make any silly faces.

Crossing Party Lines

I make no bones about my political affiliations, but let me toss the skeptics a bone here:

1. I thought McCain was right that, to solve the underlying economic problem we are having, we need to stabilize home-ownership. I even thought he had a good idea when proposing that the government take direct steps to buy mortgages - at least in a vacuum.

The current bailout plan allows the goverment to buy both mortgage backed securities (the CDOs, RMBS, and CMBS that caused this mess) as well as to force lenders to write down mortgages (i.e. take a "haircut"). What the bailout did not do was set up a mechanism for the government to go from the first step to the second - i.e., to buy MBS, unpackage them to get at the underlying mortgages, and then have lenders write those down.

McCain's idea could have gone there. Instead, in the 2 weeks since the second debate, the plan turned out to be a $300B plan to replace Fannie and Freddie with a new federal home-loan lender. I liked the original sentiment, more than I like this, but this is not a terrible idea. (Note, many have argued that the idea was actually part of Hillary's campaign first.)

2. Sticking with our two themes: crossing over and Hillary - I didn't like Obama's recent statement on the campaign trail that he would call for a three-month moratorium on home foreclosures. This was a bad idea when Hillary and McCain were for it last year, and it is a bad idea now. At best, it is a stopgap. At worst, it artificially delays a lot of foreclosures that will happen anyway regardless of the bailout.

If Obama wants a moratorium, lets use the scalpel he talks about. Identify those properties that will clearly be foreclosed on (i.e. those having lost 30% or where the reset payment is well beyond the person's ability to pay) and let those continue, holding the rest at bay. Something like that.

Tech Posts

It has been a while since I waxed geeky. A few hardware thoughts:

1. Korean company, Nanovision, just released Mimo (in Korea). $80 gets you a 7" screen that plugs in to your USB 2.0 jack. $150 gets you the same thing with a webcam and touchscreen. Awesome! A place for your widgets/skype/chat.

2. Apple released the new Macbook, which is really closer to the MacBook Pro. (www.apple.com) The rig is neat and includes a glass multi-touch trackpad that acts like a button for clicking. My take:

a) The only thing I have to add to this is that the new Macbook (http://www.apple.com/macbook/) looks like HP's MiniNote (http://h40059.www4.hp.com/hp2133/)

b) Hopefully the brick will mean fewer hardware hangups than there were with the plastic MacBooks. They weren't a big deal, but we could do without.

c) The base price is up to around $1300. The tech/speed/graphics certainly mandates such a price and is actually better than most $1300 PC laptops. Still, there is a move in the market to create low-end lappies as well. That was a huge growth sector. I would expect Apple to have something in the $1000 price range as it did with the original MacBook.

3. www.mint.com Looks like a good idea for centralizing your budgeting. Still, I am skittish at the idea of adding another party to the pool of those that have electronic versions of my financial information.


W is for Wookie and that's good enough for me.

Star Wars ABC cards. Mmmm. Pretty. Let the nerd-indoctrination begin. The them all here.

HT: http://www.kottke.org/


Yes, they lost big time. Here is what you won't read on ESPN:

- Deltha O'Neal sucked. The cornerback couldn't stay with his man all night. Worse, when he realized it, he began to commit passing interference violations. Those three or four long passes you saw - that was O'Neal's blown coverage. The Chargers just ran it for a few series and then aired it out over his head - again and again and again.

- The front four are still unable to protect Cassel. Madden made the comment that Brady didn't require a pocket to hold for 3-4 seconds. Perhaps, but one in every 4-5 snaps he *did* need time and he got it. Cassel's pocket collapsed like an old flan, forcing him to scramble for yards several times. That worked last night, but it won't work next week and for the rest of the season. We need to figure out the pass protection or we will dip below 500.

Here is what you will read on ESPN: We are a very injured team. We can't expect to play like last year's Pats with Brady, Marony, and Green out and a lot of others playing at less than 100%.


That was ugly, this is dangerous.

The McCain campaign has taken to rousing anger at its rallies in the past week. Repeatedly calling Obama, "Barack Hussein Obama," constantly referring to Ayers as an "unrepentant terrorist," and naming Obama as a "leftist extremists," have led crowds to jeer and yell, spouting epithets and, in some cases, promising violence.

You want a negative campaign, fine. But, I will remind you Sen. McCain, that more than one man seeking change in the United States has died because those on the other side stoked the fires of hate. You had to live through that. I don't want to have to live through it.

Sometimes you make a request that will on deaf ears because conscience demands it. I ask the McCain campaign to back off the rhetoric. It is dangerous.

Flavor Balls in Pocket Bread!

The Lebanese government has sued Israel, claiming that Falafel, Hummus, Fattoush, and other ME delicacies are actually Lebanese. Stop smirking. The EU courts ruled that Greece was the only country that could sell "Feta," after it won a case claiming that it was a traditional food. Thing is, the Greeks never registered that food name with anyone.

Why you might worry: What is a company like "Sabra" going to do when the millions of dollars worth of products it sells in Europe have to be rebranded if Israel loses?

Why you might not: I don't know who would be bound by an international court decision on this matter. I don't think the U.S. would. Indeed, Israel might just refuse to answer the claim. Still, it is fun story.

Guilty Knowledge

Dylan Rattigan of CNBC (shown in this clip from yesterday's MSNBC Morning Joe) was on *today's* show calling for FBI investigations of every highly leveraged bank and insurer. He said, and I am paraphrasing, "There must be emails out there that say that we can't do this or we can't cover these policies. That is criminal."

Mr. Rattigan, you are wrong . Three points:

1. If you want to hunt people criminally, there are actual criminals out there to hunt. There were so many mortgage lenders that used underhanded techniques to lend that we could just reconceive the FBI as the "Fraud on Borrowers Investigatorium" for the next ten years. Of course.

2. The institutions that you are talking about were regulated and had capital requirements - i.e. the amount of cash they had to have on hand in order to lend or insure what they did. If you don't like those requirements, just wait - they're changing. If there were those that violated that requirements, I don't think there were many of them, and I think the litigation, etc. will bring that to light. Bottom line: most of this was legal per the rules of the market at the time.

3. The emails you cite would come from people who realized that the emperor had no clothes. So, if you were stupid enough not to notice, you get off scott free. If you were smart enough to sound a quiet alarm, we throw the book at you for not speaking up louder. Seems to me we should promote you instead. Sure, you could have spoken up, but if you have this kind of vision - which is both clear and relatively conservative - I think we want you on the executive floor for the coming few years instead of warming a cell in a MinSec block somewhere in Kansas.

Which brings me to my final point: This media, the same one that didn't sound any alarm until the market was well beyond recovery, is now looking for its next story: a high-profile trial. That won't help. It will turn into a witch hunt and distract us all from the real work that needs to be done on Wall Street. You want to "hurt" these people? Have the companies fire 'em. Trust me, they had all of their money in the market so they are bleeding with the rest of us.


Testing a Joke

Marriage is indeed a sacred institution, just like the church. The people in charge are celibate, nobody listens when they talk, and most of them believe that they'd be happier if they were dead.


The Pot Calling the POTUS Black

Brown of CNN has penned a plea to the candidates to keep the last month of the campaign civil. This, coming from an anchor at a news organization that flashes "Breaking News" as each negative ad is posted. Ms. Brown, next time one of these flashes across your screen, perhaps you should say, "I strongly believe this degrades the level of discourse in the country," instead of the noncommital softball, "Could this hurt McCain/Obama in this campaign?" Then, just stop reporting it.

If you can't do that - and, trust me, you can't at CNN - I'd stop wizzing in your own trough.

Change vs. Country

There were two shirts at the checkout counter of my local convenience store - one McPalin, one OBiden. The background on one repeated the word "Country", the other "Change." It's hard to imagine the underpinnings of a campaign message being any more abstract. 2004 was a referendum on the war that became a war over patriotism. 2000 was health care vs. anti-Clinton. 1992 was foreign policy for Bush vs. "it's the economy stupid" for Clinton. Today's themes seem one step further removed: change everything vs. put the U.S. first.


Turns out it is a fake!

Click on the image for a larger view. She's holding up two fingers, not one. Not a bad shot to 'shop.
Thanks to BP for the tip.


Anyone know if this is real?

Click on the image for a larger view. It certainly looks real - and funny.

...and before I get lambasted for it. This is the act of a small child. I am not making a political statement. I just find the image humorous.

Army Ten Miler

I know it is strange to say this when I have not hit 30 yet, but I am not in the shape I once was. This morning was my second Army 10 Miler (Last year, I was rehabbing a broken foot), and my fourth 10 miler overall. It was not my best - likely because I have been working more and, thus, eating and exercising less well.

Still, I finished.

A few thoughts from the finish line:
* Before the race starts, they normally have the Golden Knights (Army Parachute) Demo Team drop in. This year, the Canadian drop team, the GKs, and a third group all dropped in separately. Overkill? Perhaps. But I have never seen three teams jump side by side so as to permit one to compare styles. Some fell in formation; others did stacks (when you attach yourself to another jumper; and still others used a looser form focusing on the flying itself.

* There is nothing like overtaking a runner who with racing with a prosthetic. I have mixed feelings about it - and nothing but respect for them and the volunteers who run with them.

* Under the Kennedy Center Overhang, I overtook a piper/runner. He was tooting out "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and so forth, while running not that much slower than I. Damn. It was good for morale on a course that does not permit mp3 players.

* Mile 8's time-clock did not work. My sense of well-being took that as a bad sign.

* Mile 9 was a mass of white noise and the thought that "I really ought to train better for these things. (You didn't have time). I really ought to train better for these things. (and so on)."

* 10 miles seems to be the minimum "long" distance - delineated by the chance that you'll rub a nipple raw in the course of the run.

* I stretched, dawdled, got some schwag - Army 10 Miler = best schwag for a run - and got on the yellow line. It went over the river and could still see thousands of runners pouring over to the Pentagon. It's like seeing another train fly past after you've just gotten off the roller coaster, they're in the throes of it as you watch through residual endorphins.


Really Pretty

It's Going to Be a Wee Wee Day

I was going to title this "Corn Fail," but I imagine the corn - or the Jolly Green Giant - would rather enjoy this. Along with the bris this morning, this is going to be a wee wee day. Stroke 'em if you got 'em!


What They Didn't Predict

When futurists thought about society's progression, what they miss if often of greater impact than what they capture. The famous example is that of Buck Rogers, flying to space with rocket engines at the turn of the century...using a slide-rule. Today, we think of the world with more computers in more places, with better transportation, and with greener technology. What futurists often miss are the fundamental advances in things like materials science.

Take this breakthrough in the production of carbon nanotubes. Even after plastics and fiberglass, nobody drew up plans of a composite-laden future. Spaceships have always been metal, as have most large ships, etc. But now we are looking at the possibility of cars whose bodies can be made of a single slabs of material, lighter and stronger than steel, with transparent portions in place of windows. The point isn't that I know what the future will look like... I am just saying that with carbon fiber and, now, nanotubes, it will look fundamentally different from what we'd envisioned.



I UnHeart LA

I just got back.

For those of you who read this blog and think, "Hey! I live in LA and Alon didn't reach out to me!" - We landed Wed. evening, I had a wedding reception Wed., an evening with my childhood best friend Thurs., I worked Wed/Thurs/Fri during the day, and spent Saturday in Bakersfield with the in-laws. There was not a free moment - so, yes, I still miss you.

To those I saw: My god it has been too long.

As for LA - the amazing thing is how little it has changed in the decade I was gone. That is not a good thing, especially for your respiratory health. If you wonder weather it seems God is intermittently trying to destroy LA, remember that he is doing it out of love.

How Bad Is Vista?

I just updated XP with Service Pack 3. That's a service pack released about a year after MS stated that it would stop supporting XP.

That's an indirect knock against Vista. Here is a direct knock: A colleague installed Service Pack 1 for Vista. During the next startup, Vista complained that it had corrupt system files. We tried a system restore, which required us to run check disk, which wouldn't run because the disk was in use, so we restarted and it it couldn't check the disk, because the system files were corrupt. And this happens automatically on Vista.

No wonder I and thousands like me were willing to pay MORE to AVOID upgrading to Vista on our new machines.


Free Advice and Worth the Price

People who are telling you not to get out of the market if you are in your 20s and 30s are not crazy. You are getting very depressed prices now, so keep dollar-cost averaging (putting in the same amount each month) and hold on. 20 and 30 somethings who did that through the 1987 crash have seen the Dow more than triple even to this "low point" and they aren't even at retirement yet, so don't fret.

Bogus Marketing

Gibson Dunn - a well-respected firm - has launched a Financial Markets Crisis Group to help the firm's clients, many of which are in the financial sector. Thing is, the lawyers are the same lawyers, with the same expertise, serving the same clients.

This is like Ford finding out that its trucks were already being used to haul sandbags and announcing that those trucks were to be known as the Ford Flood Crisis Prevention Edition. It is a truck, hauling is what its good at. The fact that it is already being put to good use is good, but it is not news, and it is certainly not a new brand.


Yes, But Do You Have One That I Can Mount To My Dog?

"Not Intended For Households With Children." I agree, so long as we recall that we are all somebody's children.



Oh, You Made It Harder? Well Thank God For That

Best Concept Site

http://www.56leonardtribeca.com/ The site uses the intro text to echo the structure of this planned tower in NYC.
As for the tower, while the interior space may impress, I think the exterior leaves something to be desired. It appears to anti-alias itself against the backdrop of the city. If your $3.5M+ is making a statement, that statement might be "mrgfmlffmmmrrslmffm (covered mouth)".

Gotta Have of Not a Have?

I think it would be awesome, but only if you saw in a designer's office. Opinions?

HT: Gizmodo



Parents have three knocks against them when it comes to gadgets:

1. They will do and pay anything for that little bundle of love/drool.
2. They have no time so convenience is at a premium.
3. They are really tired and, as such, are predisposed to shiny objects.

Hands over wallets parentoids: