Sunday, July 31, 2005

Lies, Lies, Lies!

My parents told me that I could be anything I wanted. All I had to do was work hard and I could accomplish anything. I believed them, as any naive child would, and I worked. I tried. I struggled to accomplish my life's goal. I wanted nothing more than to be 6' tall. Here I am, 30 years later, and I'm 5'9". Don't ever trust your parents.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winner

For the last 23 years, San Jose State University in California holds a contest by the title name, paying homage to Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote the immortal "It was a dark and stormy night," opening sentence.

This year, the winner is Dan McKay. I won't post his opening sentence here, but you can read it if you click here, which has a link to the Yahoo! post.

In keeping with the topic, I encourage everyone to post their own bad opening sentences here, and I will do the same directly.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A set of Myths agreed upon

The title is how Napoleon once referred to history. I wonder if he had this in mind. According to this link, the Tokyo school board has adopted a textbook that critics say whitewashes Japanese behavior in wars past. The link also says that the employment of this textbook could upset China and South Korea (the victims of the atrocities). It specifically refers to the 1937 rape of Nanking and the employment of Korean "comfort women" from World War II being downplayed.

The more unfortunate aspects of any nation's history is often given cursory treatment, if at all in their textbooks. I remember reading about World War II in school, but I don't remember reading about the brothels the U.S. Army put in place to keep the soldiers placated. I don't remember hearing about the Kwangju massacre from the Korean War. I never read anything about laws that were passed in several states that banned the Romany (gypsies) simply because they were Romany.

China and Korea might get upset about the textbook. That's their right. They can do that. However, it's not their position to educate the Japanese. If they're most concerned with historical accuracy, they need to address it as such. The problem is, these nations have been squabbling with each other for so long, the Croats were still inviting the Serbs over for beer and darts when it started. Changing a textbook won't fix the underlying hostility, rather would simply be a "coup" for the nations that elicited the change.

I don't condone the inclusion of partial truths in a history book. The best way to learn from the past is to know the past, all of it. This means you have to pull the band-aid off every now and again to look at the scab. That is a decision that the Japanese have to make for themselves, just as it is for every other nation. The people of Japan will still be able to learn of the actions; it will just be from other sources.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Four people walk into a Polish restaurant

And leave completely stuffed. I had one of the best meals I've had at a restaurant in years today. There's this place nearby called Polonia that serves some amazing Polish dishes. They have the best kielbasa south of Hamtramck, and their pork meat loaf was amazing. I highly recommend it for those of you in the Houston area, and those contemplating a visit to Houston.

Other good restaurants:
Joe's Crab Shack
Zydeco (greasy spoon, cajun style)
Old Tyme Pit Barbeque (in San Angelo)
Michael's in Monterey
Nam Gang Korean restaurant
and last but not least:
Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Monterey. But that might be more nostalgia from the good ol' days...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Moving = lite blogging

We're moving this week, which means that I'll not have access to a phone line (not that I do now, thank you, phone company). So, during the next several days, I'll not be posting. This means that Haiku day is going to be absent this week, but it should be here next week!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wednesday is Haiku Day!


3 weeks before school
Is the Panic setting in?
Or is it just gas?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Blame it on the Rain

Whenever we get a good rainstorm here in Houston, our phone lines go dead. The complex says it's the phone company, and vice-versa. All I know is that I've not had my phones working since Saturday and it's rather an inconvenience.

On the bright side, I've got my schedule for the semester all sorted out:
Property II
Federal Income Taxation
Family Law
Consumer Transactions

This looks to be an interesting semester, though I reckon it's going to be rather busy.
I also expect I'll be heading to a conference in Dallas for Phi Alpha Delta, unless we send someone else in my place.

I've also decided, pretty much, that I'm going to get involved in the Pro Bono Honors Program. It's a 50 hour commitment before I graduate, and no less than 10 hours per semester. I think I can handle that; I just have to find an org. that can match my available schedule. Here's hoping.

In other news, we're going to be moving in a week; more on that after it happens.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The art of deposition

"I'm sorry, doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?"
"No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region."

"Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?"
"All my autopsies have been performed on dead people."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Something I hate more than pointless sequels

I see there's a remake of the Bad News Bears coming out shortly. What a stupid idea. Take a classic movie, and recast it, and then change it for modern audiences. Wait, there's also Willy Wonka, which is starting now. I don't care how good the new one is, it's not going to be as good as the original, everyone sing - Come with me, and you'll be in a world of pure imagination...

It's bad enough when Hollywood is so far out of movie ideas that they rehash them with some differences, like the Mighty Ducks, Little Giants, Big Green, etc. At least there they're attempting to hide the fact that they have no original ideas left. But then they do things like making a half-assed attempt at a movie based on a TV show (Seriously, Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke?), but then do a half-assed attempt at a movie that was good the first time. Has that ever worked out? Think DOA, Grapes of Wrath, Psycho, even Willard...

And then they complain about how people aren't going to the movies anymore. Give me something worth watching, darnit! You make millions of dollars to write scripts, earn your money.

Drinking and driving - the battle continues

The Detroit Free Press gave information on research they collected in mid May regarding drunk driving incidents around Detroit. They received information on more than 100 arrests in a 4 day period, here. Some of the highlights include:
A woman found passed out at the wheel of her 2005 Chevy Impala, her 1 1/2 year old son in car seat in back. Her foot is on the brake and the car is in drive. Officer pounds on the window; the car moves 10 feet. Driver tells officer she had a couple of beers at a friend's and is tired. She is driving on a suspended license and blows .20%. She has two prior drunken-driving convictions.

A 26 year old woman in a 1992 Mercury Sable hits another car, damaging her own front end. She says she is on her way to pick up her child from day care after drinking at a bar. She blows 0.16%.

A 50 year old man in a 1995 Dodge van is stopped after running a stop sign, speeding and almost hitting a parked car. He says he had a few beers and adds, "Come on, I'm just going home." He blows 0.24%.

A 46 year old man swerved into oncoming traffic in a 2002 Jeep Liberty and repeatedly strikes the curb. One tire is flat. There are open intoxicants in the car. He blows 0.18%.

I don't know any real solution to the problem; I just emplore people to be very careful if/when they drink.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Shark bites aplenty

This season has been rife with shark bites. We even had one in our living room. My son stepped on a shark tooth he got at the dentist's office. Those things are SHARP! He's ok, and fortunately, it was just a tooth and not a whole shark, or else I'd have some words with Jacques Cousteau, telling me sharks live in the water... but I digress.

Anyway, it's been an exciting day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wednesday Haiku...

Kermit the Frog is
Sitting at my table now
but he's not eating

Excellent news!

North Korea's Dear Leader, General Kim Chong-Il (The chonger) told a visiting chinese diplomat that he wants a Nuclear-Free Korean Peninsula. This is on the eve of the new round of six-party talks set to start July 25.
This is indeed exciting news, and something that should not be taken lightly. We all know that North Korea has no history of deception or lying to get what they want. I seem to remember an agreement with South Korea a short time ago wherein the ROK agreed to give the DPRK 500,000 tons of rice, just to get them to the 6-party talks.
My guess is that what the Chonger really wanted was a Nuclear Korea, free of the ROK and the United States' influence. However, since he has no food, or energy, he's got to tiptoe the line once more and coddle more goods from his adversaries.
I don't like the idea of giving North Korea any more aid until they show something for which they should get aid. They have lied for 50 years and will continue to do so as long as we, and the other nations involved, keep giving them what they want.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

And for those of you with some time on your hands:

Consider this:
The following sentence is true. The preceding sentence is false.

What's in a Name?

According to research by University of Florida economist David Figlio, it could be your academic success. He asserts through his research that the creative names given to African American children could be a reason for their lagging behind in studies as compared to children with more traditional names. The reason, he says, is not because of the names, but rather, it's a result of "the impression [given] educators who - biased by the names' uniqueness and their own stereotypes about parents who would bestow such names on a child - don't set high goals for the children."

He continues by saying that the teachers "internalize black-sounding names to mean the parents aren't educated and as a result are poor." I won't go into too much greater detail here about the article, but I encourage people to read it in its entirety.

When I first read the article, I balked. I thought it outrageous that someone would try to attribute academic success to the way a person is named. And I'm sure many of you thought the same thing. However, when you hear the names Laqueshia, Lomarqutious, or Courvoisier (after the cognac), do you imagine doctors, lawyers, or engineers? Or do you think of people who might get through Junior college, or the DeVry Institute?

I think the article gets it right at the close, though, when they point out that the key to academis success depends on the individual. If you convey yourself as a successful, studious person, then you'll be treated as such, and you will do better in school.

It's an interesting concept, but I don't know how accurate it is. Still, interesting to think about.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Scopes is still on trial?

According to this article by Bill Poovey, he is, or rather, his teaching of evolution. According to the article, Eugenie Scott claims it's more difficult than ever to teach the theory of evolution to American children. It cites Kansas, where school boards can criticize the theory, and also Georgia, where the textbooks had disclaimers that evolution was a theory, not a fact added to the textbooks until a court ordered them removed.

School is a venue for learning, and a place for learning theories, not just concrete facts. I don't understand why it's such an issue to teach the concept of evolution to students. For those who would argue that it's "not the truth," fiction isn't the truth, either, but I had to read "A Separate Peace," "Frankenstein," "Of Mice and Men," "Cry, the Beloved Country," and countless other books in school. Perhaps it would be better if we stuck specifically to nonfiction writing, such as Children are Wet Cement," (a real title).

It can't hurt education to learn that there might be a different way things happen. It is, after all, a theory. (I don't understand the Georgia court decision to remove the disclaimers, either. It's a theory, they just emphasized that.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sea World

Sea World is fun. We took the kids to SW San Antonio this weekend. The kids love the log flume more than life itself, especially the boy.

For the record, if you ever took a long trip (more than 3 hours) as a child and you're still alive and you haven't done so yet, THANK YOUR FATHER!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Challenge to "Don't ask, don't tell"

If you click here, you'll be able to read about a challenge to the military's don't ask don't tell policy. The crux of the argument is that the policy denies military members "their rights to privacy, free speech and equal protection under the law," according to attorney Stuart Delery.

The policy states that military members can't ask about sexual orientation of military members. It also says that military members that come out of the closet to the military must be separated if they can't promise that they won't participate in homosexual activity anymore while serving.

Now, pardon me if I'm mistaken, but didn't Lawrence v. Texas invalidate laws against sodomy on grounds that homosexual behavior performed in private is a private affair? If that be the case, then there certainly is an argument that homosexuals should be able to participate in homosexual acts while in the military free of criminal penalty. The problem is that from what I understand, Lawrence was in his own house when the police entered on the weapons warrant, and many military members are in barracks, which are military. These military members cannot possess weapons in their barracks, despite a second amendment right to keep and bear arms. I can see a similar argument that says these member contracted with the military to obey military commands (lawful orders), and as such, they are obligated not to participate in acts the military disapproves of.

Freedom of speech: Members of the Military do not enjoy the same First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech that civilians enjoy. In Goldman v. Weinberger, 475 U.S. 503, 106 S.Ct. 1310 (1986), the Court determined that the military is given far greater deference than the civilian sector in regulating first amendment rights (in the instant case, religion) to foster instinctive obedience, unity, commitment and esprit de corps. See Id. at 507.

Equal protection: I don't mean to split hairs, but the military's ban on sodomy applies to heterosexual couples as well as homosexual couples. I don't think there's much to argue there.

There is a Vanderbilt Law Review article on point from 1998 that is worth looking at for you law students and Constitutional lawyers types out there, 51 VNLR 1093.

Now, my opinion on the matter. Right now, the general demeanor of the military is discomfort with homosexuals. I saw it while I was in the military and I hear and read about it outside of the military. This discomfort continues and will continue even if the Don't ask don't tell policy is reversed. That will result in another problem. Because of the underlying discomfort and hostility towards homosexuals, the military members in combat situations could be compromised. Someone might be less likely to protect a gay soldier next to him or her, or might be less likely to trust them (I couldn't suggest why, but it's possible). At any rate, the problem is that it would disrupt the ability for our forces to work cohesively at a time that we are fighting to defend our way of life. While I have no problems serving with gay military members, I can see this as a potential hazard. I would rather see our way through our current situation before adding to the mix anything that can disrupt the continuity.

Tour de Lance

I'm going to catch some flak for this, I'm sure. However, I want to be clear that I'm not criticizing Lance Armstrong alone. Rather, I'm criticizing his team and all the other teams in the Tour de France.
"Lance Armstrong kept his overall lead in the Tour de France on Friday, cruising safely to the finish of a rainy seventh stage won in a sprint by Australia's Robbie McEwen."

I have no beef with Lance Armstrong. I think he's a good rider, and I'm impressed with how well he's done since his bout with Cancer way back when. My problem is that his victories seem less like traditional victories, inasmuch as his teammates play defense and try to slow down the pack and slow down the competition so he can keep his lead. That doesn't seem like real sportsmanship to me. A race should be about the person who gets there the fastest. I don't understand how a race won by a guy whose teammates are there primarily to make sure nobody beats him can count it as a victory. Perhaps the Tour should get rid of teams and turn this into an individual event. Last I checked, there was only on seat on any Tour bike; that should be a hint.

50 years from now, do you want to be the guy who says "I could have won the Tour de France, but my job was to slow down this guy from Finland?" Or do you want to be the guy who says "I tried my best to win the Tour de France, I just fell short."

Thursday, July 07, 2005


My daughter had a horrible first day at swimming lessons on Tuesday. She fell in the pool once, inhaled water while practicing her stroking once, and then the teacher got distracted with another kid while trying to put my daughter back on the step and missed the step, which resulted in my daughter getting another breathful of water. It was rather traumatic, so I wasn't surprised when she didn't want to get dressed for swimming lessons on Wednesday. After a while of pleading, ordering, and cajoling, I resorted to bribery. "Honey, get your swimming suit on, and you can have some of my Coke," to which she said "OK," and got dressed.
So, I give her some Coke. She drinks it, and says yum.
Then she takes the swimming suit off.

Lesson: be specific with your bribes.

London Underground

At least 6 explosions occurred in the London underground and one double-decker bus exploded this morning. From what I heard on the news, Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility and said that Denmark and Italy will be next if they don't withdraw their troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is one of the most ridiculous attacks I've heard of. Support for the war is floundering. Attacking one of the participants at home can't do anything but strengthen their resolve. I seem to remember a Churchill impersonator (Churchill was unavailable at the time) saying "We will fight them on the beaches. We will fight them in the streets" or something to that effect.

This attack was senseless.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Haiku Wednesday...

... Seems to be losing
its luster, this may be the
last one for a while.

President Bush promised

From Denmark that he would not choose a Supreme Court nominee based on his or her views on abortion. He said "I will take my time, I will be thorough in my investigation." That is something that I like to hear. One issue is not something we should base our decision of who should serve on the Court on, and it's encouraging that the President wants to interview several people.

Another thing I don't like is the talk of filibustering from the Democrats in Congress, and I don't like the negatives from the Republicans with regard to Alberto Gonzalez because of the perception that he's too soft on affirmative action and abortion. Granted these are two issues, not one, but my same position as above reigns here as well.

And just because I find it humorous (non-sequitur), the article mentions how President Bush lauded the Scandinavian country for sending hundreds of troops to Iraq, with the statement "We share the belief that freedom is universal and we share the belief that in the struggle between democracy and dictatorship you cannot stay neutral." The article, in the very next sentence, says "after lunch with Queen Margrethe and about 50 other guests..."
I find that humorous.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Scalia says

According to this article in the St. Petersburg Times, Justice Scalia is not concerned with the issues of Hindus, Buddhists, athiests, etc. In McCreary County v. ACLU, Scalia mentioned in his dissent that "With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout athiests." (McCreary County, KY v. American Civil Liberties Union of KY, 2005). This from the man who believes Roe should be overturned, even though abortion was legal at the founding of the country. That seems somehow inconsistent to me, but I digress.
His point is that the Founding Fathers didn't consider non monotheistic religions when founding the nation and that the establishment of a religion meant one of Christian, Jewish, or Muslim (although I doubt there were many Muslims fighting in the revolution either, but I'm digressing again).
It would appear from these comments that Justice Scalia would incorporate "Thou Shalt have no other gods before me" into everyday life for all Americans, because that was predominant in America at the time of the founding. I can't comport with that synopsis. One of the great things about this country, and the Constitution, is that it is designed to protect the minorities, even in the religious sphere.
Justice O'Connor actually said "We do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment." I disagree with the removal of the Ten Commandments on my belief that they are listed as a source of law, not a source of religion, that was not the reason proffered by the State of Kentucky, and the Court reached the decision they did. Even though I disagree with the verdict, I wholly agree with what Justice O'Connor said, and the premise that this country was ostensibly created to allow the practice of all religions free from Government - for lack of a better term - encouragement of any one type (in this case monotheism), then I think Justice Scalia is wrong on this point.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Independence Day

On this day, in 1776, King George wrote in his diary "Nothing of note happened today."
He was wrong, of course, as this was the day that John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, with the statement "Now King George can double the price on my head."

Thus we began our lives as a free and independent nation. Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Dirty Secrets

I have a confession to make: I like watching Charles in Charge. I have no reason for this; it's just wholesome, corny comedy. It comes on Fox here at 3:30 in the morning, which happens to be the time my youngest wakes up lately.

There. My dirty laundry is aired. Now it's your turn.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Justice O'Connor retires

I've got CBS news on right now, where President Bush is currently lauding the service that Justice O'Connor provided during her 24 years on the Court.

He says he hopes to take someone who will faithfully interpret and uphold the Constitution. That's good. He also wants someone "that the American people will be proud of." I would speculate, but I'm not necessarily qualified, but I hope this doesn't turn into a charlie foxtrot.

I didn't realize that Justice O'Connor was born in El Paso Texas...